Red squirrels video

This is a video of playful red squirrels in the Netherlands.

Bradley Manning demonstrations in Britain

This video from England says about itself:

10 July 2012

4th of July Independence FROM America demonstration at the US base at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, organised by CAAB: the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases. We hear a lot about US occupations of other countries, but little about the military occupation of Britain by the US. Menwith Hill is run by America as a spy base, with the ability to listen in to all our phone calls and intercept our emails, and claims the name ‘RAF Menwith Hill‘ rather than the more appropriate ‘USAF’ on account of its sole British military officer. All the rest are American.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Activists mark Manning‘s 1,000th day behind bars

Sunday 24 February 2013

World-wide protests took place on Saturday in defence of United States soldier Bradley Manning, imprisoned for allegedly leaking military information to the WikiLeaks website.

In more than 70 cities and other locations, his supporters gathered to mark the 1,000th day of Private Manning‘s imprisonment without trial.

Among the protests was a demonstration in Yorkshire, outside the US electronic eavesdropping centre at Menwith Hill.

The centre, which employs more than 1,000 US military and civilian staff, is part of a satellite-linked network gathering military, political and economic information which is fed back to the US.

Nominally named RAF Menwith Hill, the base is run by the US’s National Security Agency.

The demonstration there was organised by the Yorkshire-based Campaign for Accountability of American bases.

Campaign joint co-ordinator Lindis Percy, who has been arrested hundreds of times for actions at Menwith Hill and other bases, was among those at the facility on Saturday.

In the US there is growing public awareness of Pte Manning‘s case and an extensive support network has built up.

Pte Manning allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of documents, cables and images about US military and political activity.

Among the secrets said to have been exposed by the former military intelligence analyst were orders from Hilary Clinton to spy on United Nations diplomats, which is illegal under international law.

A video was also released to WikiLeaks showing a US helicopter gunship in Iraq opening fire on civilians, injuring two children and killing their father.

If found guilty of the 22 charges, which include leaking information helpful to an enemy, 25-year-old Pte Manning could face a lifetime in military custody.

His lawyers say he has already been driven to near-suicide by his imprisonment and treatment at the hands of the US military.

Bradley Manning Support Network’s Jeff Patterson said: “A heroic young man faces life in prison for exposing the truth.”

In addition to the demonstration at Menwith Hill, on Saturday there were protests in Australia, Germany, France, South Korea, Belgium and from coast to coast in the US.

Demonstrators picketed the United States electronic snooping base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire last night in protest at the treatment of 166 Guantanamo Bay hunger-strikers and at US drone assassinations: here.

The New York Times’ Bill Keller smears Bradley Manning: here.

US must prove that Manning knowingly helped Al-Qaeda – rules US judge: here.

Green woodpecker in the snow, video

This video from the Netherlands shows a green woodpecker in the snow, 19 February this year.

Green woodpecker photo: here.

Buzzard eats balloon, video

This video from the Netherlands shows a buzzard, trying to eat a balloon.

Balloons contribute much to “plastic soup” pollution and may kill birds and other animals.

How Balloons Hurt Birds: here.

Coot on the ice, video

This video of a coot in the ice was filmed in Ter Aar in the Netherlands on 7 February 2013 by Annet Piet.

Bahrain dictatorship and Scotland

This video says about itself:

Bahrain’s Dark Secret

Bahraini activists die in jail.

From The Scotsman:

Shame of SQA contract with brutal Bahrain


Published on Sunday 24 February 2013 00:00

DURING a meeting last April with medics who had fled to Britain from Bahrain in fear of their lives, Deputy First ­Minister Nicola Sturgeon heard harrowing stories about the brutality of the regime’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Even doctors and nurses treating the injured in Bahrain’s hospitals have been targeted and a delegation from the Bahrain Justice and Development Movement (BJDM) explained how they were summoned for interrogation after hearing that colleagues had been tortured.

Sturgeon was also informed that tear gas was being used as part of a government crackdown to collectively punish whole villages and in response she said the Scottish Government would be exploring ways to “build international pressure on Bahrain to make genuine reform.”

“I am very supportive and want to support you as much as possible,” Sturgeon said, adding the Scottish National Party had been opposed to the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix taking place just a few days earlier.

But she was unaware that the previous month the SQA had signed a deal to continue working with a government that stands accused of gross human rights violations.

For two years now innocent civilians in Bahrain have suffered appalling violence at the hands of the state’s security forces who have raped, beaten, electrocuted, jailed and killed pro-democracy campaigners. Victims include women and children from the Shiah population who began protesting during the 2011 Arab Spring. Shiites claim the ruling Sunni minority discriminates against them via a policy of sectarian apartheid. According to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, while Shiites exceed 70 per cent of the population they occupy less than 18 per cent of top jobs in government.

The island state lies off the coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was concerned following the Arab Spring uprisings that Bahrain’s unrest would spread over its causeway to its much bigger neighbour. Saudi and other Middle Eastern states helped the Bahraini government to restore order but, despite the crackdown, the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix – the sporting event which has put the island on the global sporting map in recent years – was cancelled on 21 February because of continuing protests, including from drivers such as Britain’s Damon Hill and Australian Mark 

Later that year, an independent inquiry concluded that Bahrain’s security forces used excessive force against peaceful protesters and had arbitrarily detained, tortured and denied people fair trials. Human rights activists called again for a cancellation of the 2012 Grand Prix due to continuing reports of alleged human rights abuses committed by the Bahraini authorities but this time the race was held as planned, on 22 April.

The event gave the ruling regime hope that the protests would die down but Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) said the government still regularly tortures opponents and it is alleged that children as young as 13 have been illegally detained and assaulted. They claim state violence continues unabated and the regime still brutally represses dissenting voices. In a briefing published last week, AI said people are jailed for expressing views via social media and for taking part in peaceful marches. Over the past week three people have been killed during anti-government protests, including 20-year-old Mahmood Aljazeeri who was struck on the head with a tear gas canister.

In January, a decision by Bahrain’s highest appeal court to uphold sentences against 13 opposition figures was met with condemnation from the international community, including Britain, France, USA and the UN. The European Parliament called for sanctions, including restricting trade and freezing the assets of those responsible for human rights violations.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority’s (SQA) deal with the government of Bahrain has proved controversial because there is concern the Scottish public body could be propping up a government system which allows for discrimination and human rights abuses.

BJDM said employees within Bahrain’s education sector have been targeted by the state, including teachers and university professors. Last year, the organisation successfully campaigned to persuade Edinburgh University not to sign a deal with the regime. A university spokesperson explained: “The university was offered the opportunity to assist the higher education sector in Bahrain with capacity building as part of a modernisation programme initiated by Bahrain’s ministry of education and higher education commission. The university conducted due diligence and based on due diligence the university decided not to enter into any agreement.”

A BDJM spokesman said: “We would caution against any foreign government providing support for the Bahraini regime whilst it is committing major human rights abuses. It is important to note that the education sector has been on the receiving end of the regime’s abuses with students and teachers being dismissed on political grounds. The urgent and immediate reform needed in Bahrain’s education system is to end the targeting of teachers and students for holding political opinions and ending the classroom discrimination we have witnessed over the past two years.”

Mark Bevan, of AI in Scotland, added his concern. He said: “The SQA is a well respected Scottish organisation with international influence and its values include integrity and innovation. But if an agency of the Scottish Government is to form a partnership with Bahrain then it must build in contractual safeguards to ensure that none of the services it provides can assist in any way the commissioning of human rights abuses.

“The Scottish Government should have clear guidelines for any of its agencies entering into commercial relationships of this kind including a proper assessment of the human rights risks and implications.”

Desert storm: troubled island

HISTORY: Bahrain’s name means “two seas”. The ancient Sumerians viewed it as an island paradise where eternal life could be lived. Run by the Khalifah family, members of the Bani Utbah tribe, who expelled the Persians, it was virtually a British protectorate for more than a century after signing a treaty with Britain in 1861. It gained independence in 1971, and since then has forged close links with the United States. It was one of the first states in the Gulf to discover oil.

POLITICS: The Khalifah family has ruled Bahrain since 1783. The country is now a constitutional monarchy with an elected legislative assembly. However, majority Shia Muslims are demanding more power from the Sunni-led government. In 2011 the government launched a crackdown on pro-democracy protests, calling in the Saudi military to crush protests by demonstrators demanding a greater say in government and an end to what Shias say is systematic discrimination against them in jobs and services.

RELIGION: Bahrainis were amongst the first to embrace Islam, in 629. Bahrain became a principal centre of knowledge for hundreds of years stretching from the early days of Islam in the 7th century to the 18th century. Today, the citizen population is 99.8 per cent Muslim. There are about 1,000 Christian citizens and fewer than 40 Jewish citizens.

Siskins, robin, blackbirds and jay

Snow this night and this morning.

Siskins flying from the tree to the balcony, and back again. Also siskins on the other side of the house.

This video is called European robin courting behaviour.

A robin feeding.

Three blackbirds, mainly interested in the apples.

Two magpies. A great tit.

A wood-pigeon.

A jay sitting in the tree.