Breeding ecology of the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) in the wetland complex of Guerbes-Sanhadja, north-east Algeria


Originally posted on North African Birds:

Mouslim, B., Merzoug, S. E., Rassim, K., Bouslama, Z., & Houhamdi, M. (2014). Aspects of the breeding ecology of the Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio in the wetland complex of Guerbes-Sanhadja, north-east Algeria. Ostrich 85(2): 185-191.

PDF disponible maintenant sur African Journals online.

Abstract:

The Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio is a common rail that previously was little investigated in North Africa. From 2011 to 2013, its breeding ecology was studied at two natural wetlands in north-east Algeria, namely Garaet Hadj Tahar and Garaet Messaoussa. Numbers of Purple Swamphens at both localities peaked in late April and early May. Egg-laying started in early March, whereas hatching started in late March. Peak egg-laying took place in late March and early April, and peak hatching from mid-April to early May. There were significant differences in the size and weight of eggs between years and localities. The mean clutch size was 2.75…

View original 67 more words

Michael Brown solidarity demonstrators interviewed


This video from the USA says about itself:

24 November 2014

Just hours after the Grand Jury announcement of no indictment of Darren Wilson, Run The Jewels performed at the The Ready Room in STL where Killer Mike spoke in solidarity with Ferguson and the family of Michael Brown. Emotional and powerful moment tucked away in a corner of a poignant night in Saint Louis.

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Protesters condemn exoneration of cop who killed Michael Brown

26 November 2014

In interviews with WSWS reporters, workers and youth in a number of cities expressed anger over the grand jury exoneration of the police officer who murdered Michael Brown.

In New York City, thousands of protesters assembled for a second night in Manhattan’s Union Square and carried signs that condemned the failure to indict Daren Wilson. They chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “No justice, no peace.”

One group of several hundred marched to Times Square where they chanted, “Send the racist cop to jail,” knocked over police barricades, and blocked traffic for fifteen minutes. Police helicopters followed the march while other police followed on motorcycles.

Those who protested were mostly young people, including many students from local universities.

“It is crazy. I see videos of this stuff on Facebook all the time and they are pretty gruesome,” said Luis, a high school student, speaking about police brutality. “Police take out batons or guns after the person gave up.

“Some people are saying we are going to have martial law and I sort of agree. People should protest peacefully but the way the police are reacting is way out of hand. The police are acting like people have AK-47s or M4s. In August, I saw police pulling guns on completely peaceful protests.”

Oscar Rivera

Oscar Rivera, a senior at the New School, said, “Every level of government messed up and I just hope everything wasn’t in vain. People need to mobilize and fight for a change. These issues have a long history. We were founded on certain people being unequal, with slavery and exploitation. Now police oppression is institutionalized in a way that it was not before.”

Jasmine, a student from New York University, told us, “I wasn’t surprised at the verdict at all. There is an epidemic of police violence, and it’s not just in the United States. It happens in Venezuela and in Mexico with the murder of the student teachers. The police feel that they have authority and that they can use it however they want. The Ferguson police brought in weapons of war against peaceful demonstrators. It’s nothing but intimidation. I think they are drunk with power.”

In Detroit, Darryl Clay, a law student, told the WSWS, “I feel that with the decision last night they are saying it is legal to execute black people.

“It was evident Michael Brown did not have a weapon,” he continued. “All of a sudden he is mowed down. It is happening across the country. It is just lucky we have cell phones to capture these incidents.”

Andre, a railroad worker, said, “I came down today in support of Michael Brown. I was not surprised by the grand jury decision. These police shootings have been happening for a long time.

“I feel that it is fundamentally about class. However, the news media is trying to present it as black against white. The media is really fueling that perception. Obama is basically a puppet. He does what he is told.”

“The decision was wrong,” said Sandy, a retired Detroit Public Schools worker. “You shoot a person six times and it’s self-explanatory that the cop should be indicted. I remember what it was like being chased by the cops in the 1970s because I was a teenager with a big Afro. It’s happening all over.”

Marsalis

A car designer said, “This is happening all over. In New York, the police killed Eric Garner; he had no weapons and he told them he couldn’t breathe. But they chocked him to death. What if that was your son, brother or father?”

Marsalis, a student at Oakland Community College, said, “This is very wrong. They left his body outside on the ground for four hours. The police are enforcing the law unevenly. They are repressing people.

“This is about inequality. It seems like black youth are being targeted. I read that a black youth is killed by the police every 28 hours. But this is not just about race. It is the ruling class against the working class. American democracy does not exist.”

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, a crowd of 400 to 500 people assembled on the central campus of the University of Michigan. It was one of the largest demonstrations at the university since the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003. The rally was followed by a march to the city hall building, where a vigil was held for Aura Rosser, a woman shot dead by police in Ann Arbor two weeks ago.

“The Ferguson grand jury decision adds insult to injury,” said William Royster, a senior in engineering from Kalamazoo. “We know the status of the black community. The grand jury decision shows that the problem is systemic; if there ever was a case that we had them against the wall, it was this one. People go to trial for stealing cookies. In this case, we had a man who was shot six times. It should have gone to trial.”

William

William said protests were understandable but not enough. “There are no consequences, nothing truly inconvenient to the system comes from demonstrating. We can riot, we can march, but we are aware that this won’t change things.”

Asia, a senior majoring in neuroscience, said she was disgusted, “but not surprised” by the grand jury decision or police response. “It’s happened before and it is happening again. It took so long for them to announce a ruling, as if they were dragging it out, getting people’s hopes up and trying to present it as a legitimate process.”

In Portland, Oregon, Christian, 25, joined a demonstration at Portland State University. “Before this happened in Ferguson, I didn’t want armed police on campus,” he said. “Now I really don’t want it. It would be a step toward militarizing the university.

“It’s unfair that Wilson was set free without charges. It seemed like it wasn’t even an issue of if they would charge him but what they would tell people when they didn’t.”

Riley, 21, also at the Portland State demonstration, said, “It’s pretty upsetting that he’s not paying. He should be in jail.”

A young man who preferred not to be identified told the WSWS that he had earlier studied to be a police officer, and that many officers are hired directly out of the military. “Of course they have military equipment; they are the military, that’s what they want,” he said, adding that many suffer from the trauma of combat overseas and have not been reacclimatized to civilian life.

Rally in Madison, Wisconsin

Four to five hundred demonstrators gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Tuesday to voice their opposition to the grand jury decision. While demonstrators gathered at the University of Minnesota in the midafternoon, a larger group met in front of a police station on the corner of Minnehaha Avenue and Lake Street. Police responded to the demonstrations by cordoning off surface streets in the surrounding area. One woman was injured as a car drove through a group of protesters who had gathered in the intersection.

In the aftermath of the Brown decision, the Minneapolis Police Department warned demonstrators that they were prepared to crack down. While hypocritically announcing that the police would intervene “to keep demonstrators and the general public safe,” Police Chief Janee Harteau also said the department would maintain “a safe and secure city while respecting private property.”

A group of students from South High School told the WSWS that students at their school had staged a walkout and had received wide support from teachers and fellow students.

“We were going to hold a sit-in for four hours to symbolize the time Michael Brown’s body was in the street,” said Brigie, who explained that students then agreed to join the afternoon’s scheduled demonstration.

“We walked out to unite the youth and to be peaceful, and to come together for democratic rights. We want to be in solidarity with the people of Ferguson,” Brigie added.

High school Michael Brown demonstrators

Jacob, another South High student, said they were demonstrating in Minneapolis because “injustice somewhere affects the rights of people everywhere.”

Another student said, “It has become legal in this country for police to kill.”

Tyler, a custodian, said Darren Wilson was “an agent of the state.” The police and the state, he said, “have a symbiotic relationship, and that’s why they protected him. While race was probably an element, the main thing is that poor people are being oppressed equally.”

A food truck driver named Van said the police killing in Ferguson was “a brick in the wall,” implying these types of killings take place on a regular basis.

Two to three hundred people, including many students from the University of Wisconsin, rallied in Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, which saw major protests against attacks on workers’ rights in 2011.

Protesters chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Black lives matter.” Signs read “Jobs not jails,” Surplus tanks, no thanks,” and “Stop the racist killer cops.”

One student speaker said, “The Democrats have not done anything for us, both the Democrats and the Republicans.”

Claire, an unemployed young woman, told the WSWS, “I came to be part of an important moment in history. It is affecting lots of people. There is a general sentiment of injustice.”

Harry Richardson

Harry Richardson is a mail clerk at the University of Wisconsin. “Three years ago the state took away our right to a contract. The killing of Michael Brown and the grand jury decision are a gross injustice. It gives the lie to any meaningful change since Obama. Domestically things are not improved and foreign policy is a copy of the Bush administration. Speaking of militarization of the police, the police in Madison got a tank.”

Roughly 200 people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania attended a rally Tuesday evening at the University of Pittsburgh. Students and youth made up the majority of those in attendance, joined by a smaller number of workers and professionals. After an hour and a half of rallying, protesters briefly blocked a traffic intersection before police intervened.

Protesters in Pittsburgh

Melanie told the WSWS, “My thoughts are that the system is really broken. It is designed to do exactly what it’s been doing. It’s actually successful at oppressing the people and creating a lot of cynicism. We have to change the whole society and start all over again. It is totally impenetrable now. They’ve even passed laws making it impossible to sue law enforcement.”

Joey said, “Whenever someone is killed like this, there is always some hate behind it. People are being killed, they’re being put down and being put into slums—here and all over the world. America always talks about adverse issues around the world when in fact it is creating those conditions.

“We have to organize politically, get the word out, and disturb the system. For example, the media is talking about all of the looters in Ferguson. Well, the system isn’t working for them, so they’re going to break it. They’re being killed there and it’s being ignored by the media. Not by us, though.”

In Washington, DC, on Monday, hundreds gathered in front of the White House to protest the decision not to charge Wilson. On Tuesday, over a thousand protesters marched in the downtown area.

Reporters from the WSWS spoke to Devon, a young writer with family in St. Louis. “There is a culture of segregation in my city that I’m not sure some people understand. When I was ten or eleven years old cops broke into my house attempting to find incriminating evidence on my older brother. When my mom asked [the officers] why they were in our house, they lied to her, saying they had been chasing a suspect who had ran into our house.”

Devon expressed anger over the Obama administration’s sanctioning of Wilson’s exoneration. “It’s not a white and black thing,” he added.

Muhammad, an unemployed worker, also expressed his disgust with the Obama administration. “Why’d he have to send more troops to Iraq?” he asked. “I’ve got friends that have to fight in that war.”

Nearby, in Baltimore, hundreds of protesting students at Morgan State University blocked traffic at a number of intersections. Students at the Maryland College of Art drew murals declaring “R.I.P. Michael Brown” on the street.

The Cleveland police department is defending the murder of a 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed over the weekend while playing with a toy gun in a city park: here.

Following two fatal police shootings within two days in the state of Queensland there is mounting evidence of an officially-sanctioned “shoot to kill” policy in working-class areas. The two killings brought the number to four in suburbs around Brisbane, the state capital, since late September. Another man was shot in the head at close range, but survived: here.

Young swans feeding, under water video


This is a video, filmed mostly under water, of young mute swans feeding in the Netherlands.

Marjo Steffen made the video.

Many Michael Brown solidarity demonstrations


This video from the USA says about itself:

Crowds gathered outside the White House in Washington on Monday evening (August 25) in a candlelit vigil for murdered black teenager Michael Brown.

By Tom Eley in the USA:

Demonstrations across the US against Michael Brown decision

26 November 2014

In defiance of a nationwide police mobilization, demonstrations against the grand jury exoneration of the policeman who murdered Michael Brown took place across the United States on Monday and Tuesday.

Protests, involving youth, students and working people of all races, took place in scores of cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Dallas, Detroit, Seattle, Boston, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Oakland, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans. Demonstrations were also held in small towns, among them Duluth, Minnesota; Burlington, Vermont; Superior, Wisconsin; and Asheville, North Carolina.

Dozens of campus protests, some counting hundreds of protesters, took place at a wide variety of schools— public and private, elite schools and community colleges, and colleges both predominantly black and majority white. A small sample of these include protests at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Princeton University, the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, the University of Michigan, Grand Valley State University and Central Michigan University in Michigan, Virginia Commonwealth University, Ohio University and Kent State in Ohio, Xavier University in Chicago, the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, the University of Kentucky, Stanford University and Tulane and Loyola Universities in New Orleans.

High school walkouts and sit-ins also took place in major cities, including Philadelphia, Seattle, and Minneapolis, and in smaller cities and towns, including White Plains, New York and Norman, Oklahoma.

The demonstrations took place in spite of an unprecedented mobilization of the police and other security forces. With the clear intention of intimidating workers and youth in advance of the ruling, the Obama administration, mayors and police chiefs across the country had warned that security would be on “high alert” to handle “disturbances”—pronouncements that also implicitly threatened the possibility of police infiltration and provocation. There were few reports, however, of violence.

In St. Louis, along miles from the site where Ferguson cop Darren Wilson murdered 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, hundreds of protesters blocked downtown intersections and a bridge over the Mississippi River linking the city to Illinois. Police used pepper spray to disperse the peaceful protests on Interstate 44 near the Edward Jones Dome.

In Seattle, thousands of students walked out of their high schools. Some converged on the University of Washington campus, while other protesters blocked roads. There were at least five arrests after police attacked demonstrators.

“Out of nowhere, the cops started pushing us back with their bikes, started pepper spraying us in the face,” said young protester Todd Peralta. “I got sprayed. He got sprayed. A group of people got sprayed that were right there in front. We were just protesting. Simply protesting.”

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles was placed on “lockdown” on Monday night after “a large contingent of protesters” gathered on campus after the ruling, according to a local news report.

In Oakland police arrested 43 protesters Monday night. A crowd that gathered at an intersection near city hall grew to over 500. Protesters lay in the middle of an intersection in silent protest, then marched down Broadway shouting, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “Black lives matter—all lives matter.”

Oakland was the site of the 2009 police murder of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, which was captured on videotape. Nevertheless, the killer, officer Johannes Mehserle, was not convicted of murder.

Ferguson shooting: Protests spread across US: here.

AS FERGUSON SMOLDERS, NATIONWIDE PROTESTS CONTINUE “The sparks of outrage that started in Ferguson, Missouri, have ignited a firestorm of protests across the country … More than 170 protests sprouted up … Tuesday. Some demonstrations blocked bridges, tunnels and major highways. But unlike the violence that erupted in Ferguson on Monday night, most of the crowds were peaceful.” HuffPost has mapped out where protests are happening in your area.

MORE THAN MICHAEL BROWN “It’s important to note that this case has never been about just one police officer. The spotlight on Ferguson has revealed with a renewed, sharper focus a deep divide in our society highlighting persistent systemic inequalities.” [HuffPost]

Rare mushroom discovery in the Netherlands


Agaricus subfloccosus, photo by Piet Brouwer

Translated from the Dutch mycological society:

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

In the park surrounding Recreatieplas Twiske, close to Oostzaan, there was an extraordinary discovery. During a walk of two members of the mycological society a group of mushrooms was found. The flawless specimens stood out because of their subtle beauty and photos were made. After identification they turned out to be Agaricus subfloccosus, a very rare Red List species that is threatened with extinction.

The Spanish civil war and British artists


This video is called Pablo Picasso – Guernica (1937).

By Christine Lindey in Britain:

Exhibition Review: Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish civil war

Tuesday 25th November 2014

CHRISTINE LINDEY recommends an exhibition of art inspired by the Spanish civil war

THE momentous interwar years between 1918 and 1939 galvanised British artists into political commitment. Inspired by the Bolshevik revolution, and appalled by the rise of fascism and the deprivation caused by the great depression, many turned to the left. Defence of the Spanish republic against the 1936 fascist insurrection united the anti-fascist peace movement.

This exhibition about British artists’ responses to the Spanish civil war highlights wider 1930s political and aesthetic debates. Art historian Roger Fry’s dominant ideology of “art for art’s sake” was contested by calls for politically engaged art by socialist and communist artists.

While working as an illustrator in the USSR in the early 1930s Cliff Rowe was impressed by its cultural policies. On returning home he founded the Artists International in 1933. It called for “the international unity of artists against imperialist war on the Soviet Union, fascism and colonial oppression” and its purpose was to spread this message through posters, banners, illustrations, exhibitions, meetings and lectures.

The following year it was equipped with a politically milder slogan and renamed the Artists International Association (AIA). Its membership grew rapidly and in 1936-9 it became the main focus for artists’ defence of Spain by raising public consciousness and funds.

Some artists argued for direct action and Felicia Browne, Julian Bell and Clive Branson fought in the International Brigade. Only Branson survived.

Felicia Browne, self-portrait

Browne, at the age of 32, was the first British volunteer killed in battle and in her self-portrait she returns our gaze squarely as a woman belligerently defiant of social convention.

She became a posthumous communist hero as commemorative exhibitions and publications of her uncompromisingly decisive drawings of Spanish militiamen and women raised money for Spain.

Other artists argued that creating propaganda was more useful and several rejected easel painting in favour of public arts as more effective tools of socio-political change.

The exhibition includes the AIA’s modernist banner for the British battalion of the International Brigade created by James Lucas, Phyllis Ladyman and Betty Rea, James Boswell’s illustrations for Left Review and Felicity Ashbee’s posters. The latter’s emotive portrayals of desperate war victims combine accessible figurative drawing with expressionist exaggeration such as enlarged pleading eyes and skeletal hands. The London County Council provided 22 large hoardings which AIA artists painted in public, so raising media and public awareness for Aid for Spain as they worked.

Other artists conveyed their beliefs through traditional means. Henry Rayner’s powerful print There is No Shelter chillingly reveals the mercilessness of aerial bombing. Of the several figures huddling for safety under a giant umbrella, the one holding it up turns out to be death personified as a skeleton.

Branson’s socialist-realist paintings stemmed from his communist desire to reach a wide audience. His Demonstration in Battersea (1939) celebrates collective action as demonstrators set off with communist and republican flags and banners amid the working-class district’s terrace housing, gasworks and factories.

Some British surrealists also opposed fascism and contributed imaginative masks and costumes to the 1938 May Day procession. Finding and exhibiting two of these props is a real scoop. Yet the meanings of most of their works — such as Stanley Hayter’s — are so elliptical or ambiguous that it is not clear that they refer to Spain, nor indeed even to antimilitarism.

The enervated forms and distorted figures in his Paysage Anthropophage (1937) could equally refer to personal or psychological anguish or to conflicts between unspecified humans or animals. In the 1930, when academic art still dominated, their adherence to abstracted or imaginary motifs were largely incompressible to most people.

Picasso also used modernist distortions in his Guernica canvas of 1937 but the motifs, such as the distraught woman running while carrying her dead child, and the bull as symbol of Spain make the painting’s meaning clear. It toured Britain with related works to raise funds for Spanish Relief in 1938, when it made a massive impression on British artists.

That exhibition’s catalogue is on show, along with Picasso’s Crying Woman and his satirical print The Dream of Franco alongside British works influenced by Guernica, such as FE McWilliam’s Spanish Head, with its anguished gaping mouth and carnivorous teeth.

Also displayed is the recent recreating of Guernica as a large banner in Pallant House. It was stitched by a collective including political refugees, anti-fascists and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to express the continuing need to protest against war and political oppression.

Together with its catalogue, this informative and well-researched exhibition of art, documentation and rare memorabilia makes a valuable contribution to knowledge about 1930s British politically aware art.

It rather overemphasises surrealists and modernists but it refrains from taking the all-too-common patronising attitude to artists with communist and socialist convictions.

It will hopefully galvanise a new generation to create politically committed art.

Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish civil war runs at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until February 2015. Free. Details: www.pallant.org.uk