New butterfly species discovery in the Netherlands

This video says about itself:

Scarce Tortoiseshell Feeds on Oak Sap ヒオドシチョウがミズナラ樹液を吸汁

9 February 2014

A Scarce Tortoiseshell (aka Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell; Nymphalis xanthomelas japonica, family Nymphalidae) feeding on the fermenting sap of an oak tree (Quercus crispula, family Fagaceae). October 2013 in Japan.

Translated from the Dutch Vlinderstichting entomologists:

July 14, 2014

Invasion of a new butterfly species in the Netherlands: scarce tortoiseshell seen

This week a butterfly species entered our country which had never been seen before in the Netherlands: the scarce tortoiseshell. This involves dozens of individuals. This species was initially unnoticed because it is very similar to another one: the large tortoiseshell. An expert from the Butterfly Foundation discovered that many sightings of large tortoiseshells reported since late last week were incorrect. It was in all cases the scarce tortoiseshell.

Usually, this species, new for the Netherlands, lives much further to the east.

Fukushima disaster problems continue

This video from Japan says about itself:

Fukushima ‘ice wall’ sparks serious concerns

9 July 2014

Officials at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan have invited TV crews to showcase the underground wall of ice they’re building to stop radioactive water from leaking from the facility. But as Al Jazeera’s technology reporter Tarek Bazley reports, some experts say the project is flawed, and could create more problems than it solves.

Japanese militarism reviving

This video says about itself:

Peace protest, Hiroshima, Japan, March 2003, a few days prior to the start of the Iraq War.

By Peter Symonds:

The re-emergence of Japanese militarism

3 July 2014

Tuesday’s decision by the Japanese cabinet to endorse a statement “reinterpreting” the country’s constitution to authorise “collective self-defence” marks a sharp turning point in the revival of Japanese militarism. Under the pretext of coming to the aid of other nations, the statement is a major step toward ending constitutional restraints on the use of military force, allowing Japanese imperialism to forge new military ties and wage wars of aggression in concert with its allies.

No one should be deceived by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s claims that the vaguely worded statement will ensure that the Japanese military will be a force for peace. Successive Japanese governments have already reinterpreted the constitution’s so-called pacifist clause, which formally renounced war and declared that armed forces would never be maintained, to enable Japan to build one of the world’s most formidable militaries. Now Abe is free to pursue what he terms “pro-active pacifism,” which is nothing other than the prosecution of Tokyo’s strategic and economic interests through diplomatic provocations and military means.

The Japanese announcement takes place in the context of a deepening world economic crisis that is fuelling geo-political rivalries and tensions across the globe. The immediate effect of the Abe government’s decision will be to give the green light for even closer Japanese collaboration in the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” and its preparations for war against China. The Pentagon’s strategic planners regard the US military bases in Japan as an essential component of any war with China.

Obama’s “pivot” has already turned East Asia into a tinderbox. Over the past four years, with Washington’s encouragement, Tokyo has transformed the dispute with Beijing over the Senkuku/Diaoyu islets—uninhabited, rocky outcrops in the East China Sea—from a minor issue that has been simmering for four decades into a dangerous flashpoint. Japanese and Chinese ships and aircraft today routinely engage in risky manoeuvres at close quarters that raise the prospect of an accident or miscalculation precipitating open conflict.

While Japan is currently pursuing its own objectives under the umbrella of the US alliance, there is no guarantee that will continue. In actively urging Japan’s remilitarisation for its own shortsighted aims, Washington appears to have forgotten that the two imperialist powers—the US and Japan—fought a bloody war from 1941 to 1945 that claimed the lives of tens of millions, precisely for domination over China and the Asia Pacific region. The Obama administration has applauded the Abe government’s reinterpretation of the very constitution that was drawn up by the post-war American occupation in an attempt to curb Japanese militarism.

Amid the worsening global economic breakdown, the Japanese ruling class is acutely aware of its weakness and vulnerability after two decades of economic stagnation. From its beginnings in the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japanese imperialism has been compelled to resort to militarism to assert its interests against more powerful established rivals. Abe is rearming and strengthening ties throughout the region and internationally, primarily in order to further the aims of the Japanese ruling elite—whether that is in league with the US, independently or against it.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, Abe likened the current situation in Asia to that in Europe before World War I. Drawing a false comparison between China today and German imperialism in 1914, Abe sought to brand Beijing as “aggressive” and “expansionist” in order to justify his government’s agenda of remilitarisation.

Nevertheless, the parallels to the world a century ago that are being made by many commentators do point to a basic truth. The fundamental contradictions of capitalism that erupted in two world wars during the 20th century are again hurtling humanity inexorably toward a terrible conflagration. The remilitarisation of Japan is a warning to workers and young people everywhere that this drive to war is intensifying.

Like its counterparts around the world, the Abe government’s preparations for war go hand in hand with an ideological campaign to whitewash the horrific crimes of Japanese imperialism in the 1930s and 1940s. These historical falsifications are aimed at creating a social constituency for war. But the depredations of Japanese militarism and its police-state methods also left an indelible mark on the consciousness of the Japanese working class. That is why Abe resorted to the anti-democratic method of issuing a “reinterpretation.” Any attempt to formally amend the constitution would fail due to the overwhelming opposition of working people.

There is no doubt that the revival of Japanese militarism will greatly exacerbate tensions with China and throughout Asia. The Japanese armies carried out horrific atrocities, from Korea and China to Malaya, Indonesia and most of South East Asia. The Chinese and South Korean governments are exploiting these memories to whip up nationalism and chauvinism at home in a bid to shore up their own narrow bases of support and justify their own military build-ups. In the Philippines, the Aquino administration is seeking to bury the memories of the wartime Japanese occupation as it aligns itself with the war drive of Tokyo and Washington against Beijing. None of these regimes is capable of halting the slide to war. Rather their actions will accelerate it.

In Japan, China, the United States and around the world, there is broad popular opposition to the rising dangers of war and militarism, but those sentiments find no expression in the political establishment in any country.

Chinese President Xi Jinping continued Beijing’s offensive yesterday against what it sees a new wave of Japanese nationalism and militarism: here.

Today’s address to the Australian parliament by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has underscored the militarist agenda behind his government’s decision to “reinterpret” the so-called pacifist clause in Japan’s constitution and enable the country’s armed forces to take part in combat action alongside its allies if they are attacked: here.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s speech to a joint session of the Australian parliament yesterday marks another major step in the war preparations against China, in which Australia is assuming decisive strategic significance: here.

War drums beat louder against China as Japanese imperialism re-emerges: here.

During a one-day visit to New Zealand on Monday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the media that his NZ counterpart John Key had “expressed support” for the Japanese cabinet’s decision to “reinterpret” the constitution to end legal constraints on the use of military force: here.

Japanese protest against militarist government

This music video is called John Coltrane – Peace on Earth – Live in Japan.

It says about itself:

10 June 2012

John Coltrane – soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, percussion
Alice Coltrane – piano
Pharaoh Sanders – alto and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, percussion
Jimmy Garrison – bass
Rashied Ali – drums

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Japan: Thousands protest against military change

Monday 30th June 2014

THOUSANDS of people protested outside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office today in protest at his government’s intention of reinterpreting the constitution to allow the military a larger international role.

They demanded that the plan to allow the Japanese military to help defend other nations be scrapped.

The constitution renounces war and permits the use of arms only for Japanese self-defence and critics say that the change undermines the charter.

Beating drums and carrying placards and banners, the protesters demanded that Mr Abe resign, expressing outrage that the constitution could be changed by interpretation rather than by democratic process through a referendum.

Communist MP Yoshiki Yamashita accused the government of turning a deaf ear to the people’s voices.

“Can we really keep peace by sending young people to a distant battlefield? We must stop the cabinet decision,” he declared.

The Cabinet is expected to announce its decision tomorrow.

See also here.

Pro-peace views illegal in Germany?

This video is about a Japanese government politician, Taro Aso, who said Japan should follow Nazi Germany’s example to revive militarism.

By Christoph Dreier in Germany:

German politicians, media seek to criminalize opponents of war

30 June 2014

In recent months, President Joachim Gauck has been calling quite openly for a more robust German military presence in the world. This attempted revival of German militarism has been decisively rejected by a majority of the population. Politicians, the media and the public prosecution department are now organizing a campaign against opponents of war and preparing to launch criminal proceedings against them.

In line with this, the Facebook posting of a hitherto largely unknown Left Party politician has recently come under attack. Last Monday, 28-year-old Brandenburg state parliament deputy Norbert Müller referred to criticism of Gauck’s war policies made by a number of church pastors, and wrote on his Facebook page: “Some remain true [to their faith]. Others become federal presidents and obnoxious warmongers.”

The posting was seized upon by numerous media outlets and condemned for “defaming the president”. Such a denigration is a criminal offence in Germany, which—under Section 90 of the Criminal Code and on authorization of the federal president—can be punished with imprisonment for a term of between three months and five years. A spokesman for the Potsdam public prosecutor told Spiegel Online that the authorities were reviewing the case. On Wednesday, Gauck then sent word that he had not authorised the prosecutor to initiate proceedings.

On the same day, deputies of the Christian Democratic Union [CDU], Christian Social Union [CSU] and Social Democratic Party [SPD] tabled the Facebook posting as a topic for general debate in the Bundestag [federal parliament]. They also called on Left Party faction leader Gregor Gysi to state his position on the matter.

The faction leader of the SPD, Thomas Oppermann, called Müller’s remark an “incredibly abusive piece of criticism” and accused Gysi of being personally responsible. His “incredible blunder” arose from his “demagogic twisting of the president’s words”, according to Oppermann, and he concluded by associating the Left Party with the National Socialists. The SPD was taking Müller’s criticism seriously, “because that was the strategy the Nazis used against President Ebert in the Weimar Republic”, Oppermann said.

Gysi responded by distancing himself from Müller. Müller had “expressed himself incorrectly”, he said, and Gauck was not an “obnoxious warmonger”. “No party can be responsible for what every one of its members ever says,” Gysi declared. Left Party leader Bernd Riexinger also distanced himself from Müller, declaring that the current debate on war missions had to “be conducted completely objectively and with due respect for the dignity of the [president’s] office.”

The threats against Müller are instead being used to intimidate and criminalize all genuine opponents of war. It is an irrefutable fact that the president has for months been systematically promoting more vigorous international commitment on the part of Germany, explicitly including the use of military power.

Having calculated the probable media response, Gauck had expressed a similar view on the Day of German Unity in 2013 and at the Munich Security Conference at the beginning of the year. He declared in Munich that Germany was regarded internationally as a “shirker”, and it therefore had to be prepared to take more risks. Both speeches had been carefully prepared and coordinated with the federal government.

In the last 15 years, Germany has been involved in the wars against Serbia and Afghanistan, and it also provided the US with logistical support in the war against Iraq. The federal government co-sponsored the coup d’état in Ukraine, which was crucially supported by the brutality of the Svoboda and Right Sector fascists. Both the Serbian and Iraq wars were pursued without the legitimacy of the United Nations and were therefore in breach of international law, according to current legal norms. One would therefore have to ask whether Gauck, who is advocating more robust military engagement, is himself breaking the law.

The idea of exploiting the legal clause proscribing “defamation of the federal president”, in order to persecute opponents of war, continues established traditions in Germany.

The law of lèse majesté (insulting majesty) was used during the Wilhelmine Empire to intimidate opponents of rearmament. Between 1896 and 1907 alone, the Vorwärts social democratic newspaper documented 907 convictions under this law. A prominent example was the socialist and anti-war activist, Rosa Luxemburg, who was imprisoned in 1904 for accusing the emperor of incompetence.

After 1908, the clause on lèse majesté faded into the background. However, similar clauses relating to personal convictions were used to incarcerate pacifists and anti-war protesters. Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Luxemburg was again imprisoned. This time she was charged with “incitement to disobey laws and ordinances of the authorities”. She had called for the exercise of conscientious objection.

With the revolution of 1918, the legislation limiting rights to contentious personal views was initially abolished. However, when Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau was assassinated by the far right in June 1922, the SPD, Independent Social Democratic Party [USPD], Catholic Centre Party and German People’s Party [DVP] passed the Law for the Defence of the Republic, which made denigration of the Republic, and its president, a punishable offence.

But this law was not applied against the extreme right. Instead, it was used as a political weapon against the Communist Party [KPD] and other left-wing groups. In 1924, two-thirds of convictions relating to the Law for the Defence of the Republic were handed out to Communists; in 1925 and 1926, all such convictions were. In 1925 alone, as many as 269 Communists were sentenced under this act.

When social contradictions intensified and rearmament was stepped up, the sentences meted out by the political justice system became even more savage. One well-known victim was the pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who in 1931 was sentenced to 18 months in prison because he had written an article exposing the illegal rearmament of the Reichswehr [armed forces of the Weimar Republic]. Not long after his release, which came shortly before Hitler came to power, the Nazis threw Ossietzky into a concentration camp. He died as a result of the abuse he suffered there.

After the war, Section 90 of the Criminal Code, which makes “defamation of the federal president” a punishable offence, was adopted as one of the superseding clauses of the Law for the Defence of the Republic. Presidents Theodor Heuss and Heinrich Lübke used it primarily to combat critics who tried to expose their role in the Third Reich. In the last 20 years, the clause has hardly ever been used.

Whenever German imperialism returns to preparation for war, legislation limiting the right to personal political views also makes a return. The fact that the prosecution of opponents of war is being openly discussed in parliament and the media is a serious warning for the population.