United States woman jailed for photographing pro-peace protest


This 11 July 2014 video from the USA is called Grandmother Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison After Protest at U.S. Drone Base.

From Alternet in the USA:

By Alyssa Figueroa

Woman Sentenced to Prison for Photographing a War Protest

‘We are losing a generation because of drones’ says activist Mary Anne Grady Flores.

July 26, 2014

Warplanes have long been based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY. But in 2009, something new arrived: MQ-9 Reaper drones that were flown remotely over Afghanistan, dropping missiles and bombs and unleashing terror.

Organizers in Upstate New York started protests soon after the drones arrived and founded Upstate Drone Action in 2010. In 2011, one longtime activist and member of the Catholic Worker movement, Mary Anne Grady Flores, 57, joined the struggle. As part of the “Hancock 38” in April that year, she was arrested for protesting at the base’s main entrance by participating in a die-in to illustrate the indiscriminate killing of civilians overseas by drones.

She was arrested again in October 2012 for another act of “civil resistance,” as she puts it, not “civil disobedience,” to uphold the U.S. Constitution and international treaties the U.S. signed. That led to Grady Flores and the 16 others being placed under court orders restricting their protest rights. Frustrated by the protesters’ persistence, a base commander, Col. Earl Evans, sought and received an orders of protection — usually reserved for domestic violence victims — which was used over time to bar approximately 50 protesters from the base’s grounds.

In February 2013, Grady Flores stood in the public intersection beyond the driveway leading to the air base taking pictures of the eight protesters participating in an Ash Wednesday action. Those witnessing were asking for forgiveness for what we as American citizens are doing with killer drones. She was later arrested across the street and down the road for “violating the order of protection.” A higher court has found the use of the order invalid.

But on July 10, DeWitt Town Court Judge David Gideon gave Grady Flores the maximum sentence of one year in jail for a second-degree criminal contempt charge, leaving a courtroom of supporters in shock. He defended his harsh sentence by claiming that she “would simply thumb her nose at the law once again.” DeWitt Town judges are planning on holding 20 upcoming trials from August 2014 through 2015, threatening to send each activist to one year in jail.

On Wednesday, July 23, eight protesters went back to the air base to issue their own “people’s order of protection” on behalf of drone victims around the world. Seven were arrested and charged with trespass. Two of the protesters — Grady Flores’ sister Clare and Martha Hennessey, granddaughter of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker — were charged with violating their orders of protection and are being held on $10,000 bail. All of them refuse to post bail and remain in jail pending their Aug. 6 court dates.

“These judges are out to try to stop the protests on behalf of the base,” Grady Flores said, who is out on $5,000 bail pending her appeal.

Grady Flores spoke to AlterNet about what motivates her to protest against drones, the connections she sees between our foreign and domestic policies, and what gives her hope.

Alyssa Figueroa: You joined these anti-drone protests in 2011. What made you start?

Mary Anne Grady Flores: Drones are a critical issue for people in the countries that are under attack, and it’s important for those of us in the States to make the connections between poverty, racism and colonialism. As many black and Native feminists have pointed out, the violence that has historically and continues to be perpetrated inside the so-called borders of the United States sustains American imperialism abroad.

Great crested grebe and chicks


Great crested grebe and chicks, The Hague 2014

Lizia was so kind to send me this beautiful photo of a great crested grebe with chicks; photo taken from the Houtrustbrug bridge in the Hague. On 19 July 2014, cloudy weather.

Blue-crowned motmot and white-eared ground sparrows in Costa Rica


This is a video about a blue-crowned motmot; recorded in Alajuela in Costa Rica.

After the Escher art in the botanical garden in Heredia, Costa Rica on 30 March 2014, there were, of course, birds.

First, a black vulture flying overhead.

Blue-crowned motmot, 30 March 2014

Then, much closer, a blue-crowned motmot. First, on the lawn just before our feet; then in a nearby bush.

Twenty minutes later, at 11:55, two motmots.

A Hoffmann’s woodpecker.

Hours later, at 16:43, a female Baltimore oriole.

This video is from Costa Rica is about a clay-coloured thrush. Called yigüirro, it is the national bird of Costa Rica. It occurs in this garden as well.

Clay-coloured thrush, 30 March 2014

A clay-coloured thrush washed itself in a birdbath.

White-eared ground sparrows, 30 March 2014

Then, late in the afternoon, two special birds at another birdbath: white-eared ground sparrows. In Costa Rica, they live only in the Central Valley. Because of their skulking habits, and ‘best seen at near … dusk’, many people don’t see them there.

White-eared ground sparrow, 30 March 2014

So, a fine end to our last full day in Costa Rica.

Stay tuned for the blog post on our last Costa Rican early morning, 31 March!

Escher art in Costa Rica


Metamorphosis III, 30 March 2014

Still 30 March 2014, in the botanical garden of Heredia in Costa Rica. Not just birds in that garden; art as well. This art, based on the woodcut print Metamorphosis III by Dutch artist M.C. Escher, was in one of the garden buildings; a round gazebo.

Escher, Metamorphosis III reptiles, 30 March 2014

In Escher’s work, reptile forms slowly morph into other forms.

Escher, Metamorphosis III more reptiles, 30 March 2014

Escher, Metamorphosis III bees, 30 March 2014

And bees morph into other insects.

Escher, Metamorphosis III birds, 30 March 2014

And birds into fish.

Escher, Metamorphosis III birds and mammals, 30 March 2014

And birds into mammals.

Escher, Metamorphosis III yet more reptiles, 30 March 2014

Until we were back at the reptiles again.

Baltimore orioles and summer tanagers in Costa Rica


This is a rufous-collared sparrow video. One of the bird species in Santo Domingo de Heredia in Costa Rica. An individual often sang, sitting on top of a bronze stork sculpture in the botanical garden. I fondly remember this species from Quito in Ecuador, a long time ago.

30 March 2014. After yesterday, our second full day in Santo Domingo de Heredia. And our last full day in Costa Rica.

A Montezuma oropendola feeding on a flower in a tree.

In the same tree, a Hoffmann’s woodpecker.

A Finsch’s parakeets flock flies past. These birds live only in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and western Panama.

A rufous-tailed hummingbird.

Baltimore oriole male, 30 March 2014

Male Baltimore orioles.

Baltimore oriole female, 30 March 2014

And females.

Baltimore oriole female close to flower, 30 March 2014

Baltimore oriole female closer to flower, 30 March 2014

White-winged dove, 30 March 2014

7:35: a white-winged dove.

Summer tanager male, 30 March 2014

Five minutes later: a summer tanager male.

There is a summer tanager female as well.

Blue-grey tanager, 30 March 2014

A blue-grey tanager builds its nest.

A buff-throated saltator sings.

An Inca dove.

Rufous-naped wren, Costa Rica, 30 March 2014

A rufous-naped wren.

Variegated squirrel, 30 March 2014

10:38: a variegated squirrel feeding.

Great-tailed grackle female, 30 March 2014

10:45 a female great-tailed grackle drinks at a bird bath.

A list of birds in this garden is here.

Stay tuned, as there will be more on birds and other subjects in Costa Rica on 30 March!

Costa Rican botanical garden flowers


Flowers, Costa Rica, 29 March 2014

In the botanical garden in Heredia in Costa Rica on 29 March 2014, there were of course not only these birds, but also plants and flowers. Like these ones.

Bougainvillea, 29 March 2014

And this Bougainvillea. Is it Bougainvillea spectabilis (originally from the Atlantic coast of Brazil, but introduced to many other countries)?

Bougainvillea flowers, 29 March 2014

And these Bougainvillea flowers.

Flower, in Costa Rica, 29 March 2014

Jabuticaba, 29 March 2014

The garden is specialized in the original flora of the now densely populated Central Valley of Costa Rica, but there are also South American species. Like this Jabuticaba and its fruits.

Cornstalk dracaena, also present, is originally from Africa. While Thunbergia is originally from Africa and Asia.

There is a flowering Bauhinia purpurea, aka Phanera purpurea tree.

Flower, Costa Rica, 29 March 2014

Flowers, in Costa Rica, 29 March 2014

There were orchids as well.

Orchid, 29 March 2014

Motmot, orioles and squirrel cuckoo in Costa Rica


Buff-throated saltator, 29 March 2014

Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica 29 March 2014; after our arrival there on 28 March. Many birds in the botanical garden; like this buff-throated saltator.

6:05 in the morning: a blue-grey tanager. They are building a nest here.

Clay-coloured thrush, Costa Rica, 29 March 2014

A clay-coloured thrush.

A rufous-collared sparrow. I fondly remember this species from Quito in Ecuador; and from earlier this March in Costa Rica.

A great kiskadee in a tree.

This is a great kiskadee video.

Vaux’ swifts fly overhead.

Baltimore oriole male, 29 March 2014

A male Baltimore oriole in a tree.

A rufous-naped wren.

A grey saltator.

A Hoffmann’s woodpecker.

A white-tailed kite flying.

A rufous-capped warbler; and a Tennessee warbler.

A rufous-tailed hummingbird.

A variegated squirrel jumps from one tree to another tree.

Blue-crowned motmot, 29 March 2014

A blue-crowned motmot in a tree.

This is a video about a blue-crowned motmot; recorded in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

Blue-crowned motmots, 29 March 2014

Soon, two blue-crowned motmots in the tree.

Then, only one again.

An Inca dove on a roof.

Squirrel cuckoo, 29 March 2014

A squirrel cuckoo.

Squirrel cuckoo on tree, 29 March 2014

Summer tanager female, 29 March 2014

A female summer tanager.

A tropical kingbird.

Orchard orioles, male and female, 29 March 2014

A male and a female orchard oriole.

Orchard oriole, male, 29 March 2014

The male sings.

A rufous-crowned sparrow sings from the top of a bronze stork sculpture.

A white-winged dove.

8:52. It is a bit warmer now, which means better conditions for soaring birds. A black vulture circles overhead.

9:40. An orchid bee flying.

9:58. A zebra longwing butterfly.

Blue-crowned motmot in bush, 29 March 2014

11:02. A blue-crowned motmot again. It lands on a lawn, then flies back into a bush.

16:10. Dozens of Finsch’s parakeets, flying and calling.

A great-tailed grackle.

White-eared ground sparrows. This is a rare and skulking species. In Costa Rica, it is endemic to the Central Valley.

17:30, half an hour before sunset: red-billed pigeons in a tree.

Costa Rican warbler, parrots and squirrel


Rufous-capped warbler, 28 March 2014

Still 28 March 2013 in Costa Rica. After the indigenous people’s museum in San José, we arrived in a beautiful botanical garden in Santo Domingo de Heredia; where this rufous-capped warbler was.

Before we had seen that warbler, at 5pm, we had seen crimson-fronted parakeets flying.

Ten minutes later, a singing clay-coloured thrush.

And a rufous-naped wren.

Variegated squirrel, 28 March 2014

A variegated squirrel in a tree.

In ponds in the garden live two rare frog species.

Agalychnis annae, the blue-sided tree frog, used to be common in Costa Rica, the only country where it occurs. Now, it is threatened, living only at a few places in the densely populated Central Valley, like here.

This video is about blue-sided tree frogs in a terrarium.

Forrer’s grass frog is another species in this garden.

Hummingbirds and snake in Costa Rica


This is a fiery-throated hummingbird video.

Still 28 March 2014 in Costa Rica. After the hummingbirds of San Gerardo de Dota, we went to a bit lower part of the mountains.

Fiery-throated hummingbirds, 28 March 2014

At 10:30, we stopped at a place with many hummingbirds. Fiery-throated hummingbirds were the species most attracted to the feeders.

Fiery-throated hummingbird on branch, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbird feeding, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbird on a branch, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbirds on branches, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbirds on branch, 28 March 2014

Other species: volcano hummingbird.

Magnificent hummingbird male, 28 March 2014

And magnificent hummingbird; both male and female.

Magnificent hummingbird female, 28 March 2014

And green violetear.

Hairy woodpecker, 28 March 2014

There was also a hairy woodpecker, feeding nestlings.

Sooty thrush, 28 March 2014

Sooty thrushes were present. We would not see them again, as they are birds of higher mountain levels.

Here, we also saw our only Costa Rican snake: a black-speckled palm-pitviper. A poisonous species, living only in the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama.