Bahrain oppression continues


This video is called Maryam Al-Khawaja: ‘double standards’ towards human rights in Bahrain.

Paris-Geneva, February 12, 2013. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), publishes today a report, which presents findings of a judicial observation mission conducted on the trial in appeal of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. The report concludes that a series of violations of the right to fair trial marred the judicial process and that Mr. Nabeel Rajab is suffering judicial harassment for merely advocating for and exercising the right to peaceful assembly in Bahrain: here.

Washington, DC – Human Rights First urges the Bahrain government to mark Thursday’s two-year anniversary of the country’s prodemocracy uprising by allowing peaceful protests. In addition, Human Rights First calls on the Bahrain government to release political prisoners, end the use of excessive force by its police, and hold its officials accountable for torture and killings: here.

Sudanese dictator welcomed by Libya, Chad regimes


This is a video about racist lynching of Libyans under the new regime because of the colour of their skins.

In the ‘new’ post-NATO war Libya, Libyans, African migrant workers and almost everybody else, including United States ambassadors, have to fear for their lives. The new rulers of Libya are allies of the NATO governments.

So is the dictator of Chad, Idriss Deby. He is a long time favourite of French governments, already under Sarkozy, predecessor of the present president Hollande.

From the Sudan Tribune:

Sudan: Bashir to Visit Chad, Libya Despite ICC Warrant

11 February 2013

Khartoum — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will travel to Chad and Libya this weekend to attend two events, a government sponsored website reported today.

The state-linked Sudanese Media Center (SMC) quoting press sources said that Chadian president Idriss Deby invited Bashir to the Community of Sahel-Saharan (CEN-SAD) summit during his stop in Khartoum last week.

Chad is a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has issued two arrest warrants for Bashir on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Sudan‘s western region of Darfur.

The ten-year Darfur conflict in western Sudan, on the border with Chad, has claimed 300,000 lives according to the United Nations. The Khartoum government puts the toll at 10,000.

Bashir’s previous visits to Chad in 2010 and 2011 were strongly criticized by the European Union and human rights groups in light of Ndjamena’s refusal to arrest Bashir.

During Chad’s thorny relations with Sudan, president Deby vowed to execute the arrest warrant against Bashir and rejected AU resolutions granting him immunity. However, as relations improved Deby reversed his position.

The AU summit that took place in Addis Ababa last month omitted the usual mention of urging its members to ignore ICC warrant against Bashir. A source told Sudan Tribune that African diplomats did not believe this was a pressing issue warranting discussion this time around.

SMC said that Bashir may head to Libya afterwards to attend the celebrations commemorating the outbreak of the revolution that toppled the regime of late leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The website noted that Bashir was invited by the Libyan leadership to attend but said that tensions in the North African country may not allow for the celebration to take place.

Ironically, Bashir was one of the very few leaders in 2009 who attended Gaddafi’s celebration of the coup which brought him to power forty years ago.

Following Gaddafi’s fall and demise in 2011 Bashir lashed out at Libya’s strongman saying that he was causing harm to Sudan through the years and revealed that Sudan provided support to rebels who launched a military campaign to unseat him.

Libya is not a member of the ICC and therefore has no obligation to detain Bashir. But it was the National Transitional Council (NTC), which took control of the country, that asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2011 to refer the situation in Libya to the Hague tribunal in order to investigate possible crimes committed following the uprising against Gaddafi.

This would mark Bashir’s second visit to Libya since Gaddafi’s removal.

THERE are many players in a protest — the sign makers, the rabble rousers, the logisticians. And then there are the political cartoonists, who sketch the events unfolding on the streets and, if they are like [Sudanese] Khalid Albaih, inspire even more tumult: here.

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda accused the United Nations on Wednesday of prolonging the conflict in Darfur by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes: here.

International Great Backyard Bird Count, 15-18 February


This video from the USA is called The Great Backyard Bird Count 2013.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

You’re Invited to the Great Backyard Bird Count

Please consider taking part in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) February 15-18. The count is being integrated with the eBird online checklist system—which means that the count will be global for the first time. Anyone, anywhere, with Internet access can take part in the count. [If] you already participate in NestWatch, then you will not need to create a new account for the GBBC. If you’re watching birds that weekend, simply enter your checklists at www.birdcount.org. You’ll be prompted to enter your existing login information.

Participating is easy. Simply watch birds for at least 15 minutes at the location(s) of your choice on one or more of the count days. Estimate the number of birds you see for each species you can identify. You’ll select your location on a map, answer a few questions, enter your tallies, and then submit your data to share your sightings with others around the world.

Please consider participating in this free, fun, late-winter bird count!

Thank you for your contributions to science and the birds!

Jason Martin, Project Leader

Robyn Bailey, NestWatch Assistant

See also here.

Dutch fish ladder for sticklebacks


This video from Finland says about itself:

Three-spined stickleback and fry (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

July 19, 2010

The male stickleback guards something. I think there was a nest somewhere. Though he may protect his fry. Video was written at the Gulf of Finland in July.

Translated from Dutch wildlife ranger ; his blog post on fish ladders. In the original, there is not just this photo, but a slide show:

Texel stickleback fish ladder

Fish ladders for sticklebacks

Posted on February 12, 2013

For salmon and trout they existed already, fish ladders to pass dams. Threespine sticklebacks need ladders with much smaller steps. Almost 20 years ago, Forestry Texel thought about this. Through these fishways threespine sticklebacks can swim from the Wadden Sea into the Moksloot to lay their eggs in the fresh water of the Dunes of Texel. A marine threespine stickleback is twice as long and five times as heavy as a stickleback which has always lived in fresh water. Large fish lay more eggs, and are also better food for birds like spoonbills.

See also here.

American cardinal news


From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

NestWatch eNewsletter

February 2013

A pair of Northern Cardinals in snow

Female cardinals love a dapper fellow in red. Photo by A Wing and a Prayer via Birdshare.

The Redder the Better

In many areas of the eastern United States, handsome Northern Cardinals are already singing to attract mates. A bird so visible in the winter landscape begs the question, “How does a flame-red bird that often nests close to the ground manage to be common in the eastern United States?” We are often asked how this conspicuous species has been so successful, despite its low rate of nesting success. Typically, less than 40% of nests fledge at least one young.

The answer may lie in their long breeding season. Cardinals do not migrate and often begin the nest-building process as early as late February. They can continue nesting into late August in some areas, which affords opportunities to nest multiple times. Another factor could be that cardinals are habitat generalists. They can nest in open woodlands, dry shrubby areas, or even the suburbs. Their nests are placed in live trees, shrubs, or vine tangles, anywhere from 1–15′ high. A recent study in Texas* revealed that cardinal nest sites were not particularly different from random sites, suggesting that they may not be limited by suitable nesting locations. However, there seem to be benefits from nesting higher up and later in the breeding season, both of which probably thwart some potential predators. Cardinals also tend to nest in the denser parts of trees or shrubs, which may provide some vegetation cover.

But how is it adaptive for the males to be such colorful and obvious songsters? The flamboyant males sing from high perches and do not trade their breeding plumes for a drab winter coat. According to research compiled in The Birds of North America Online, brighter males have higher reproductive success and better territories, and plumage brightness is positively associated with parental care. The intensity of the cardinal’s red coloring is related to its diet, and bright coloration is a signal to females that the male probably holds a good territory (although this is not necessarily true for urban areas). The females, through a process called sexual selection, have selected for this bright coloring in the males. And because the female’s colors are muted, they provide her with a protective camouflage that the male lacks. This also aids in nest concealment when she is incubating. Furthermore, juvenile and adult cardinals tend to have high survival rates, possibly because they don’t endure the stress of migration.

Against all odds, the Northern Cardinal is marvelously adapted to its environs. So the question is not “Why are they so successful?” but rather, “Why wouldn’t they be?” If you are lucky enough to find a cardinal nest this year, won’t you help us learn more about this fascinating species by monitoring it with NestWatch?

*Sperry, J. H., D. G. Barron, and P. J. Weatherhead. 2012. Snake behavior and seasonal variation in nest survival of northern cardinals Cardinalis cardinalis. Journal of Avian Biology, 43: 496–502.