Refugees and racism in Greece update


This video from Greece is called Farmakonisi, Greece: Fortress Europe kills, even children (subtitles: Greek, English, French, Italian and Spanish).

From Ekathimerini daily in Greece, Wednesday February 19, 2014:

Another body found off Farmakonisi, taking total to 10

The bodies of three of the undocumented migrants who drowned off the Dodecanese island of Farmakonisi last month were located by coast guard divers late on Tuesday.

A fourth body was also found in the vessel that sank on January 20 after it was recovered by the Greek coast guard on Wednesday.

The bodies found on Tuesday were those of two boys, one aged between 1 and 2 years and a 10-year-old, and a woman aged around 30, according to the officials.

The body found in the vessel on Wednesday was that of a young girl.

The discovery brought the number of bodies recovered to 10 while one migrant remains unaccounted for.

Sixteen migrants were rescued in the incident, some of whom alleged that a Greek coast guard patrol vessel attempted to tow the migrants boat back to Turkish waters, causing it to sink.

Dimitris Bandias: “I would apologise again for the Farmakonisi incident: here.

Refugees describe dire conditions in Greek migrant detention centres: here.

On Location: Why refugees to Greece are sewing their mouths shut: here.

New incident of violence in Amyygdaleza. Police officer hits an immigrant after asking for a painkiller: here.

Hundreds of Greek Roma held a protest in central Athens Friday calling for equal treatment, better living conditions and free access to health: here.

Golden Dawn’s entire parliamentary group to be summoned for questioning: here.

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No werewolf in the Netherlands


This music video from California in the USA is called Jerry Garcia Band Performs “Werewolves of LondonHalloween ’92 Oakland.

These werewolves exist only in the song. And they don’t seem to exist in te Netherlands either.

Translated from dichtbij.nl in the Netherlands:

‘Werewolf’ in Zeeheldenbuurt probably fantasy

Nicolai Brannan, editor

24 January 2014

Leiden – The story of, maybe, a werewolf in the Zeeheldenbuurt neighbourhood in Leiden is probably made ​​up. Police have said this to the Leidsch Dagblad newspaper. Earlier this week there was a report ​​to the police that a person dressed as a werewolf scared ​​children.

The police assumes that the story was invented by a child with an active imagination.

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Antarctic 100-year-old photo negatives discovery


This video about the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition is called Endurance, Shackleton and the Antarctic.

From Discovery News:

100-Year-Old Negatives Found in Antarctica: Photos

Dec 30, 2013 11:00 AM ET

Frozen Block

Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators recently made a stunning discovery: a box of 22 exposed but unprocessed negatives, frozen in a block of ice for nearly one hundred years.

The negatives were recovered from a corner of a supply hut that British explorer Robert Falcon Scott established to support his doomed expedition to the South Pole from 1910-1913. Scott and his men reached the South Pole but died on the trip home.

The hut was next used by the Ross Sea Party of Sir Ernest Shackleton‘s 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition after they were stranded on Ross Island when their ship, the Aurora, blew out to sea. This party is believed to have left behind the undeveloped negatives.

The cellulose nitrate negatives are seen here as they were found — frozen in ice.

New Van Dyck painting discovery


A hunch by presenter Fiona Bruce leads to the portrait being identified as a genuine Van Dyck

From the BBC:

29 December 2013 Last updated at 09:57 GMT

Antiques Roadshow portrait revealed to be by Anthony Van Dyck

A painting bought for £400 and featured on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow has been revealed to be a Sir Anthony Van Dyck portrait worth about £400,000.

Father Jamie MacLeod, who runs a retreat house in north Derbyshire, first took the artwork to Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire, in 2012.

He said he was now planning to sell the piece by the 17th century Flemish artist to buy new church bells.

The BBC show’s host Fiona Bruce said she was “thrilled” by the revelation.

More was revealed about the painting when Father Jamie took it to filming for another edition of Antiques Roadshow in Cirencester, Gloucestershire in June this year.

The Van Dyck portrait was identified after Ms Bruce, who was making a show about the artist with expert Philip Mould, saw the painting and thought it might be genuine.

Following restoration, the painting was verified by Dr Christopher Brown – one of the world authorities on Van Dyck.

The portrait, originally bought at a Cheshire antiques shop, is the most valuable painting identified in the show’s 36-year history.

Father Jamie, who runs a retreat house in Whaley Bridge, in the Peak District, said: “It’s been an emotional experience and it’s such great news.”

Van Dyck was the leading court painter in England under King Charles I and is regarded as one of the masters of 17th Century art.

The painting is a portrait of a Magistrate of Brussels which is believed to have been completed as part of the artist’s preparation for a 1634 work showing seven magistrates.

Ms Bruce said: “It’s everyone’s dream to spot a hidden masterpiece, I’m thrilled that my hunch paid off, to discover a genuine Van Dyck is incredibly exciting. I’m so pleased for Father Jamie.”

Mr Mould said: “Discoveries of this type are exceptionally rare.

“The painting’s emergence from beneath layers of paint was dramatic. It’s been revealed as a thrilling example of Van Dyck’s skills of direct observation that made him so great a portrait painter.”

A Van Dyck self-portrait that was recently sold to a collector who wants to take it abroad, has become subject to a temporary export ban.

The National Portrait Gallery is trying to raise £12.5m to keep it in the UK.

The portrait will be shown on Antiques Roadshow at 19:00 GMT on BBC One on Sunday.

See also here.

Indian court re-activates British colonial anti-LGBTQ law


This video is called Indian LGBT activists protest against gay sex ban.

By Kranti Kumara in India:

India’s Supreme Court re-criminalizes homosexuality

28 December 2013

India’s Supreme Court has struck down a 2009 Delhi High Court ruling that declared unconstitutional a section of the Indian penal code, adopted in 1860, that criminalized private consensual sex among gay men and women, as well as some sexual acts between men and women. As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, men and women alleged to have engaged in homosexual acts can be arrested and prosecuted and, if found guilty, could be liable to life imprisonment.

The ruling upholding the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was issued by a two-judge panel of the Supreme Court in response to a legal challenge to the Delhi High Court ruling launched by Hindu, Muslim, and Christian groups.

In affirming the constitutionality of Section 377 and its claim that homosexual acts are “against the order of nature,” India’s highest court is encouraging unbridled anti-homosexual bigotry on the part of backward social layers. It is also exposing India’s gays to the danger of harassment, arrest, and blackmail from India’s police, which are notorious for their corruption and use of arbitrary beatings and torture.

That such dangers are far from hypothetical was strikingly displayed by a September raid mounted by Andhra Pradesh police on a party of gay men. Although the Delhi High Court ruling had made Section 377 inoperative, the police justified their raid in the name of stopping “illegal and obscene” acts.

In Malaysia, a similar provision—based on the colonialist British Indian penal code and also known as Section 377—was used by Malaysian authorities to jail the former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, after he had a falling out with the country’s longtime prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamed.

Section 377 was included in the Penal Code imposed on India by British colonial authorities in the early 1860s, as London sought to strengthen its control in the aftermath of the 1857-58 “Mutiny,” a mass rebellion against British rule that engulfed much of northern India.

In addition to proscribing homosexual acts, Section 377 declared a long list of heterosexual acts, including oral sex, criminal.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court, invoking as legal precedent court-rulings in several western countries, found this Victorian-era, colonialist law to be in violation of articles 14, 15 and 21 of India’s constitution, which guarantee equality before law, prohibition against discrimination, and protection of life and personal liberty.

In striking down the Delhi High Court decision, the two-justice Supreme Court panel advanced the specious claim that Section 377 could not be found to be discriminatory because it does not exclusively target homosexuals, since it also outlaws some sexual acts between heterosexuals.

“It is relevant to mention here,” wrote Justice Sanghvi, “that Section 377 … does not criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation. It merely identifies certain acts, which if committed, would constitute an offence. Such prohibition regulates sexual conduct regardless of gender identity and orientation.”

In other words, India’s highest court continues to insist that the state has the legal-constitutional power to regulate the private sexual activities of consenting adults, including declaring some activities criminal.

Knowing full well that their decision would be met with widespread opposition and outrage, the Supreme Court justices said parliament has the legislative power to eliminate Section 377. In the context of their ruling, however, this admission only serves to underline their upholding of the state’s power to regulate consensual sexual activity.

Four years ago, the Delhi High Court ruling was widely hailed by both Indian and international gay rights organizations and much of the corporate media. They were euphoric over the fact that the judgment finally removed the stigma associated with homosexuality in a country where the ruling elite has long encouraged and buttressed sexual repression to the point where heterosexuals kissing in public or on the cinema screen is condemned.

However, India’s judiciary, as the Supreme Court ruling over Section 377 has again demonstrated, is no ally in the fight to extend democratic rights. On the contrary, over the last two decades and in lockstep with the Indian bourgeoisie’s turn ever further to the right, open celebration of mounting social inequality and demand for the abolition of all regulatory impediments on profit-making, India’s Supreme Court has issued one reactionary judgment after another—judgments in which the court has pandered to Hindu fundamentalists and communalist reaction and attacked the democratic rights of the working class.

To recall just a few of the most significant:

By refusing to take a firm stand against violent Hindu fundamentalists, the court essentially countenanced the 1992 destruction of the Babri Masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh—an act that provoked the worst communal bloodletting in Indian since Partition. The senior leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), especially then party leader L.K. Advani, openly exhorted mobs of communalists to raze the historic mosque; yet to this day none of the BJP leaders and their allies in the leadership of the Hindu supremacist VHP and RSS have been called to account for violating the Court’s own injunction prohibiting any attack on the Masjid.

Three years later, the Supreme Court bestowed a stamp of respectability on Hindutva, the termed coined by the Hindu supremacist ideologue V.D. Savarkar and used by the BJP and its allied organizations to refer to their noxious communalist ideology. The court claimed that Hindutva was not at odds with the secular values propounded in India’s constitution; it merely signifies a broader “Indian culture” that supposedly subsumes Muslim, Sikh, Christian and other minority religions.

Giving credence to religious mumbo-jumbo, the court in 2007 claimed that the natural chain of limestone shoals between the coast of India and Sri Lanka could have been “built by the ancients” in a case concerning a plan to deepen the channel between the two countries so as to facilitate shipping. The VHP (World Hindu Council) had been agitating against the project, not because of the environmental damage it would cause, but on the grounds that the limestone shoals were in fact a bridge built by an army of monkeys as depicted in the Hindu mythical classic Ramayana and hence “holy”.

India’s Supreme Court has also repeatedly issued authoritarian judgments. In 2003 it sanctioned the Tamil Nadu government’s efforts to break a state employees’ strike through mass arrests and firings, ruling that public sector workers have no right to strike. In 2007, it declared “bandhs”—24- or 48-hour political general strikes—illegal.

That same year, it issued a sweeping ban on protests and even public debate concerning the dangers shipyard workers would be subjected to if they were made to dismantle the toxic-laden, retired French aircraft carrier Clemenceau. [See HYPERLINK Indian Supreme Court imposes sweeping ban on public debate on toxic warship]

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of Section 377 and re-criminalizing homosexuality has been hailed by the Official Opposition BJP and by various religious organizations including Muslim and Christian groups.

The behavior of India’s Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government has, on the other hand, been utterly dishonest and duplicitous.

While the government reacted with silence to the 2009 Delhi High Court ruling, Congress Party leaders, including party President Sonia Gandhi, her son and the presumptive Congress Prime Ministerial candidate, Rahul Gandhi, and Finance Minister Chidambaram have all criticized the Supreme Court decision. But the government has no intention of legislating Section 377 out of existence, fearing such action might damage its electoral chances. Instead, it intends to mount a legal challenge, appealing for the Supreme Court to rehear the case, a process that could drag on for years, during which Section 377 will remain in force. Moreover, given the court’s long record of sanctioning attacks on democratic rights and pandering to the Hindu right there is no guarantee whatsoever that the whole court will not endorse the reactionary ruling of the two-judge panel.

This ambivalent response is in keeping with the two-faced attitude that the Congress and the government have taken all along. The UPA’s Additional Solicitor-General, P.P. Malhotra, argued before the Supreme Court that as per the government homosexual sex is “highly immoral and against the social order” and furthermore it is “against nature and spreads HIV”.

Only after a firestorm of criticism from gay activists and politically liberal commentators did the UPA backtrack and claim that Malhotra’s statement did not reflect the government’s views.

Indian High Court Criminalizes Homosexuality: here.

Utah Plans To Spend $2 Million In Taxpayer Dollars To Defend Anti-Gay Discrimination: here.

NSA spying scandals news


This video from the USA says about itself:

Inside the “Electronic Omnivore”: NSA Spying on U.N., Climate Summit, Text Messaging Worldwide 1/2

4 Nov 2013

As Edward Snowden seeks clemency from the United States, the New York Times has revealed new details about how the National Security Agency is spying on targets ranging from the United Nations to foreign governments to global text messages. We are joined by New York Times reporter Scott Shane, who reports that the NSA has “as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations.”

Here is Part 2 of that interview.

The NSA surveillance operations are seamlessly connected to US preparations for cyber-war and military conflict against China: here.

The issue of the basic democratic right to asylum plays an entirely subordinate role in the debate in Germany on the plight of Edward Snowden: here.

Tanzania rhino update


This video is called Saving the Black Rhino.

From Wildlife Extra:

Tanzania’s rhinos – Edging back from the brink

Rhinos in Tanzania

September 2013. Tanzania is home to the Black Rhino. In Tanzania the IUCN estimate there are just 123 black rhino remaining in the wild. Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) is currently working in partnership with (Tanzanian National Parks) TANAPA and other Tanzania authorities to increase the security in Serengeti National Park and across the country. Resource protection and monitoring of rhinos (and elephants) is of top priority.

Rhino protection in Serengeti & Selous

The major threat continues to be poaching for rhino horn. FZS are convinced that with enough effort, patience, ingenuity, money and hope the rhinos of Tanzania will become a conservation success story. FZS is involved in supporting efforts to protect rhinos in Tanzania in the Serengeti National Park and Selous Game Reserve.

Serengeti

Black rhino were once numerous across the Serengeti. It is estimated that around 500 to 700 rhinos once roamed freely in the Serengeti Ecosystem. Poaching, however, reduced this number greatly in the 1970′s.

It was feared that none were left in Serengeti National Park, but in the 1980′s two females appeared again in the Moru area of Central Serengeti, one named Mama Serengeti.

Miraculously, one of the young bulls living in the Ngorongoro Crater left the Crater and made it over 100km to Moru where he was welcomed by the two lonely females. He has happily lived ever after in his own paradise looking after his new found harem. After his arrival four calves were born and the Serengeti National Park – Moru population now has between 25 and 30 individuals.

Mama Serengeti is still alive today and was spotted a year ago with a new calf. All three rhinos in this “starting population” are still alive today. The first five of the thirty-two rhinos scheduled to be brought from South Africa for reintroduction into the Serengeti arrived in May 2010.

The President of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, remarked that they are a “stark reminder of what went wrong and the past and a lesson for what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again.”

Of these 5 rhinos, 1 died of natural causes, another sadly was poached, and another gave birth to a calf. It is estimated that there are 35 rhinos (approximately) in the Ngorongoro Crater, and possibly another 24 in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, a handful of which often cross the unmarked border into Serengeti. With these three remaining rhino populations in the Serengeti ecosystem – there is hope that in the future these remarkable animals will roam again all over the Serengeti, as they did before.

Selous rhinos – Clinging on

Rhinos in Selous Game Reserve (SGR) have suffered a very high level of poaching, particularly during the 1980s. Estimates put the population at 3,000 in 1981 which declined to 300-400 individuals by the end of the 1980s. It is thought that the rhino populations still exist, but the number is unknown. Over the last year there have been confirmed sightings of three individuals at ranger posts in the northern Selous Game Reserve. Additionally, in August 2012 two dung middens were found; one was under three months old and the other was over six months old. As there is no recent data of population numbers, it is critical timing to monitor these rhinos and ensure their continued protection.

FZS are hopeful that one day, visitors to Serengeti and Selous will again frequently spot these amazing animals.

Courtesy of Frankfurt Zoological Society.

Rhino conservation pioneer Clive Stockil from Zimbabwe believes community-based conservation is vital for the survival of African wildlife and has been at its forefront for four decades. He is the founding chairman of the Savé Valley Conservancy (which is now home to one of the country’s largest rhino populations), the chairman of the Lowveld Rhino Trust and a board member of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. Here he talks to Wild Travel about his life work and being the first-ever recipient of the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa – a lifetime achievement award – at the 2013 Tusk Conservation Awards.

October 2013. At a meeting of the five Asian Rhino range states – Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal – a common action plan was agreed with the aim of increasing the populations of Asian Rhino species by at least 3% annually by 2020: here.

October 2013. According to a Nepali National Parks’ spokesman, Nepalese police have arrested 14 people involved in rhino poaching in Nepal and India, including the ringleader: here.

Al-Qaeda bomb plot, CIA plot?


This video from the USA says about itself:

3 May 2012

On Tuesday, the FBI thwarted a plan of five self-described anarchists who were planning to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio. It turns out the FBI played an instrumental role in helping the Cleveland Five plan the alleged scheme. Stephen Webster, senior editor of Raw Story, joins us with more.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

The political uses of the latest “terror plot

10 May 2012

One day after publicly announcing that the CIA had foiled an Al Qaeda plot to bomb a commercial airliner, US officials revealed Tuesday that the would-be bomber was in fact an informant working for the CIA and Saudi intelligence.

This turn of events is in line with so many domestic terror plots “disrupted” by federal authorities, which—in the overwhelming majority of cases—have featured confidential informants acting as agent provocateurs, instigating stage-managed plots and providing targeted patsies with money, dummy bombs and fake weapons before they are rounded up.

The account given for this latest operation is decidedly murky. Officials have claimed that the plot originated with the infiltration of a group affiliated to the Yemen-based Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula by the CIA-Saudi double agent. Why the US government would choose to expose such a seemingly valuable mole by making the supposed plot public is unclear to say the least.

It is impossible to sort fact from fiction in the versions being reported by the media. A highly skeptical attitude toward the most basic claims about this episode is more than warranted. However, the saturation news coverage is itself an unmistakable indication that, with less than six months to go before the US presidential election, elements within the Obama administration and the state apparatus want to move the “war on terror” to the front burner of American politics.

A key motivation for this was made clear Wednesday by the Washington Post, which published an editorial entitled “The US is right to strike hard at terrorists in Yemen.”

Underwear bomb seizure being ‘exploited’ by FBI: here.

U.S. Treasury Claim of Iran-Al-Qaeda “Secret Deal” Is Discredited: here.