How Yellowstone wolves help other wildlife


This video about the USA says about itself:

How Wolves Change Rivers

13 Feb 2014

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.

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Bahrain government violates human rights, Washington silent


This video is called Bahrain Monarchy From British Empire to US Fifth Fleet.

From Human Rights First in the USA:

February 12, 2014

U.S. Government Should Call for Release of Bahraini Political Prisoners

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today urged the U.S. government to use the third anniversary of the Bahraini uprising to publicly push for the release of political prisoners.

“Human rights activists in Bahrain wonder when President Obama will act on his 2011 pledge that the United States ‘cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just,’” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The Bahraini government’s repression over the last three years, including its jailing of political dissidents, has made the country more unstable. It’s time the United States told its ally that its relationship with Bahrain can’t afford another year like the last three.”

Bahrain appears trapped in a cycle of protest and repression. In the last month, local human rights organizations report dozens of arrests in dawn raids by masked security officials. …

“As Bahrain lurches into its fourth year of political unrest, the United States should call for the release of Bahrain’s political prisoners,” said Brian Dooley. “Human rights defenders remain in prison, the country is increasingly polarized, and sectarian divisions are deepening. Time is running out for Bahrain; if it is to find a way out of its human rights crisis it needs to release its political prisoners.”

Muted reaction to Bahrain crackdown on pro-democracy activists is in stark contrast to those regarding Syria and Libya: here.

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Tree swallow families share their nest


This video is about nesting tree swallows in Maine, USA.

From NestWatch in the USA:

Tree Swallows Share Nest

NestWatcher Ian Stewart discovered something unusual in a nest box in Greenville, Delaware, this past season. Two female Tree Swallows laid their eggs in the same box, for a whopping total of 10 eggs! Instead of abandoning this full house, both females appear to have stayed to incubate the eggs and feed the young. Although we cannot know for sure if two different females fed the young, because the birds were unbanded, it’s very unlikely that one set of parents could raise a brood this large without help.

All 10 eggs did hatch, although the last one was one or two days later than the others and did not make it. Several weeks later, nine baby Tree Swallows fledged from this nest box, a remarkable outcome for a nest that, under different circumstances, may have been abandoned by both females. See more photos from Ian here.

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Young Birders Event in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Young Birders Event 2013

28 jan 2014

A group of the brightest young birders gathers for one weekend each summer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to explore their shared passions for science, nature, and birds.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology writes about this event in 2014:

Apply by March 15 for Young Birders Event

Our annual Young Birders Event is one long weekend of total immersion in the world of birds and science at the Cornell Lab. Attendees go birding, take classes from our scientists, explore our collections, discover careers, and make friends. The event is open to rising high school sophomores through seniors; 16 young people are chosen. Enrollment is competitive, but the experience will be unforgettable. This year’s event is July 10–13; thanks to Zeiss for making this event possible. Learn more and apply by March 15.

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Bahrain dictatorship and the USA, new evidence


Pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain

By Alastair Sloan, 21 hours ago:

New Wikileaks Revelation Exposes Big State Department Lie, This Time in Bahrain

John Timoney has a face like a fist and a CV out of The Departed. He’s been a cop in New York, Miami and Philadelphia. And now he’s advising the Bahraini government on policing matters.

That’s the Bahraini government, the one that gases, tortures and kills protesters as their preferred method of public order policing. And that’s Timoney, who’s been called “the worst cop in America” and faced hundreds of complaints over his violent approach to public order policing in the U.S.

The State Department has always insisted Timoney’s appointment in Bahrain has nothing to do with them. The distancing is deliberate — human rights groups are scrutinizing the repressive regime closely.

Since the Bahraini government promised reform in November 2011, dozens more have died and thousands have been injured. Many are scared to go to a hospital for fear of being arrested. Amnesty International even accuse the regime of kidnapping and torturing children.

Well, as it turns out, the State Department hasn’t been honest about their involvement in Timoney’s appointment, and by proxy, their involvement in all that police brutality.

An email has turned up on Wikileaks showing the job opportunity that Timoney eventually took when he was promoted by an American “Regional Security Officer” who was stationed at the Bahrain Embassy five months before Timoney was appointed.

The officer, an employee of the U.S. government, had just discussed Timoney’s future role with the Bahraini authorities and was sharing details about expected salary (about $300k plus benefits).

He even tells us how important Timoney’s future position will be to the U.S. government.

“This position has the interest and support of senior U.S. government policy makers, given the strategic importance of our relationship with Bahrain and recent events here. It is seen as a prime engagement opportunity with a non-NATO major ally, hence my current involvement.”

The State Department refused to comment on the leaked email, but back in 2012 officials had been pretty unequivocal when Timoney scored the job.

“This is a Bahraini Government initiative. [Timoney] is not working for or on behalf of the U.S. Government. So we’re not able to speak to what in particular he’s involved with.”

In case you’re wondering why the State Department took such a special interest in Timoney’s appointment, it’s worth remembering the U.S. 5th Naval Fleet is bobbing away in Manama harbour, a stones throw from the ongoing unrest.

The incriminating State Department email was also sent by a “Regional Security Officer.” The RSO job description on the State Department website reads:

“At U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, Regional Security Officers develop and implement the various aspects of a comprehensive security program designed to protect personnel, property, and information against terrorists, foreign intelligence agents, and criminals.”

If Bahrain was ever to fall into full on revolution mode a la Libya, Egypt or Tunisia, a rapid, expensive and risky re-location would be in order, jeopardising the fleet, potential operations in Syria, Iran or Iraq, as well as ongoing anti-piracy activities in the Indian Ocean.

Is Timoney the “worst cop in America?” I think that’s unfair, but commentators in the Guardian and the Miami New Times disagree. Crime — particularly drugs, homicide and corruption — in cities such as New York, Miami and Philadelphia dropped sharply once Timoney arrived.

The ACLU has filed seven suits against him over his policing of a major protest in Miami in 2011, accusing him of deploying excessive force and illegal tactics, but their Executive Director also said of Timoney: “He was probably one of the most professional, competent and experienced police chiefs the city of Miami ever had.” The Philadelphia Inquirer and Esquire Magazine have both praised his “street cop” approach.

But despite his abilities in criminal policing, Timoney has serious flaws when it comes to policing protests, or put another way: doing his job in Bahrain.

As a 55 year old police chief in Miami, he rode his police bike into a crowd of placard-wielding activists and started a fight with “the bigger guy.” He also stopped to yell at another group of protesters “Fuck You! You’re bad!” (not the most eloquent of cusses). Frankly bizarre behaviour for an otherwise professional cop.

In January 2012, he casually dismissed the Occupy movement as an irritating traffic problem, an argument that’s since been used to justify violent dispersal of protests in Bahrain.

Bahrain uses teargas indiscriminately, and even more so since Timoney arrived. Rather than its conventional application as a crowd dispersal tool, policemen have started using it as a weapon. Officers have entered opposition villages at night and fired canisters into sleeping households. Over 30 deaths have occurred due to misuse of teargas.

But Timoney loves teargas. He loves it so much that in 1994 he voluntarily teargassed himself to demonstrate to civil liberties groups that it was better than knocking someone over the head.

Timoney isn’t the only Westerner advising the Bahrain government. John Yates, an ex-Deputy Commissioner at London Metropolitan Police, is also providing consultancy services. Both Yates and Timoney were appointed in December 2011.

Similar to the State Department’s initial stance on Timoney’s position, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office has denied anything to do with his appointment. And if they are lying, as the State Department clearly was, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Colonel Ian Henderson CBE, who worked as a security adviser to the Bahrain government for 30 years, was accused of complicity in torture during the ’90s, leading to an investigation by British authorities in 2000. The investigation was concluded in August 2001, and no charges were filed. Henderson died at age 86 in April last year still denying he had anything to do with the torture dungeons his offices were just four storeys above.

The British government had always denied their involvement in his appointment until Scottish investigative journalist Ian McKay uncovered secret Foreign Office documents showing how senior British diplomats had persuaded the ruling Sheikh Khalifa (the current Sheikh’s father) to appoint Henderson and allow him to establish the brutal state security apparatus which is still largely in use today.

In a statement to PolicyMic, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office maintained their position despite the U.S. State Department leak, but did admit that the Embassy had met with John Yates, as part of their policy to meet those “who are assisting the Bahraini Government with their reforms.”

John Horne, a researcher with Bahrain Watch and the man who unearthed the incriminating email, told PolicyMic:

“It is hard to see what John Timoney has achieved in Bahrain beyond a healthy bank balance. After two years, torturers still torture, police still use excessive force, citizens still suffer collective punishment from tear gas, and the security forces still act with impunity.”

John Timoney has not responded to a request for comment.

Religion and Politics in Bahrain criticized the Royal Court’s failure to conduct a productive National Dialogue saying: “The Royal Court has as usual insinuated itself into the process in order to sabotage it from within.” The United Kingdom’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee also expressed concerns over Bahrain’s failure to, “quickly implement the important and practical recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry” through its National Dialogue: here.

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US Assistant Secretary of State says F-ck the European Union


This is a video of United States Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland speaking to Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine.

By Patrick O’Connor:

US regime-change operation in Ukraine exposed in leaked diplomatic phone call

7 February 2014

A leaked phone conversation between Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, has exposed the anti-democratic and colonialist character of the Obama administration’s intervention in the former Soviet republic.

The discussion between the two officials includes a detailed review of which right-wing opposition figures Washington is working to install in office, and how it is using the United Nations to rubber-stamp the operation. While Germany and other European powers have worked closely with the Obama administration in promoting the violent protests against President Viktor Yanukovych, the leaked phone call reveals tensions between the imperialist powers. At one point Nuland tells Pyatt, “F–k the EU.”

The discussion, posted anonymously on YouTube, underscores the thoroughly cynical character of Washington’s public diplomacy. The Obama administration’s rhetoric about “democracy” and the Ukrainian people’s right to determine their own future is a charade, concocted for public consumption. Behind the scenes, government officials speak frankly with one another about the real agenda—advancing Washington’s geo-strategic and economic interests in Eastern Europe by installing pro-US and anti-Russian puppet figures in the Ukrainian capital.

The phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt apparently took place late last month, after President Viktor Yanukovych offered the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister to opposition leaders Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Vitali Klitschko, respectively.

Referring to Klitschko, head of the UDAR (Strike) party, which has close financial ties with Germany’s ruling conservative party, Nuland tells the ambassador: “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Pyatt agrees, saying, “let him stay out and do his political homework.”

Nuland continues: “Yats [Yatsenyuk] is the guy that who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.” Pyatt later warns Nuland that “Klitschko has been the top dog” within the opposition, and that she will need to “move fast on all this stuff” and speak with the UDAR leader as part of their “personality management” of the opposition leadership.

The utter criminality of Washington’s drive to install a pliant regime in Kiev sharply emerges in Nuland and Pyatt’s discussion of Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the neo-fascist All-Ukrainian Union (Svoboda) party. Nuland describes Tyahnybok as one of the “big three” within the opposition leadership. The State Department operative goes on to tell Pyatt that “what [Yatsenyuk] needs [after he is installed in office] is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside—he needs to be talking to them four times a week.”

These remarks confirm that there is no confusion whatsoever within the Obama administration that it is working in partnership with fascist movements in Ukraine.

Tyahnybok is the leader of the Svoboda party, which was initially called the Social-National Party of Ukraine and featured a neo-Nazi logo. In 2004, Tyahnybok praised right-wing Ukrainian partisans in World War II, who, he declared, “did not fear, but took up their automatic rifles, going into the woods to fight Muscovites, Germans, Jewry and other filth.”

He added that Ukraine still had to be liberated from a “Moscow-Jewish mafia.” In 2005, Tyahnybok signed an open letter to Ukrainian leaders demanding a halt to the “criminal activities” of “organised Jewry,” which, he declared, was attempting to commit “genocide” against the Ukrainian people.

This is one of the “big three” figures with whom the Obama administration is working to install a client regime in Ukraine. Yesterday, Nuland met with several opposition figures, among them Oleh Tyahnybok. No details of the discussion have been made public, but Ambassador Pyatt released via Twitter a photo of a smiling Nuland posing next to the pro-Nazi leader and his colleagues.

Yesterday’s meeting between Nuland and Tyahnybok was not the first. The two also held a closed-doors discussion when she was previously in Ukraine, last December. After that meeting, Nuland staged a photo opportunity in the Kiev central square that has served as the headquarters for the anti-government protests organised by the right-wing opposition, handing out bread to the demonstrators in a show of US support.

In her telephone conversation with Pyatt, Nuland praises UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for deploying a special envoy, Robert Serry, to Ukraine. This, she explains, will “be great, I think, to help glue this thing [i.e., a new government].” These remarks underscore the role played by the UN as an instrument of imperialism, working with the US and its allies to cover up or endorse their predatory operations around the world.

Immediately after praising the UN, Nuland declares, “F–k the EU,” in apparent frustration that the European powers were not doing more to back the regime-change operation. According to the Kyiv Post, another leaked phone conversation, in German, between EU official Helga Schmid and EU Ambassador to Ukraine Jan Tombinski includes a discussion between the two figures over how the US regards the EU as being “soft” on Ukraine.

In the Nuland-Pyatt discussion, the US ambassador expresses his agreement on the need for the UN to be involved, saying, “we’ve got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.” He adds that “we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing.”

Washington is engaged in a ruthless struggle to undermine any obstacle posed by Moscow to its drive to dominate the geo-strategically crucial Eurasia region, the vast land mass stretching from Eastern Europe, extending over the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia, and reaching to China’s western borders. US imperialism is promoting fascist movements in Ukraine and fuelling the flames of a nascent civil war as a means of advancing its interests and ratcheting up the pressure on the Russian government.

Nuland’s nomination as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in May last year clearly formed part of the Obama administration’s aggressive strategy. She previously served as a deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and is married to the prominent “neoconservative” commentator and historian Robert Kagan.

Yesterday, Sergei Glazyev, a senior aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, claimed that the US was spending $20 million a week sponsoring Ukrainian opposition groups, including supplying them with arms.

Responding to questions about the leaked phone conversation, state department spokesperson Jen Psaki admitted that it was genuine and said that Nuland had apologised to EU figures, before absurdly declaring the incident marked “a new low in Russian tradecraft.”

Psaki said that while the Obama administration had no evidence that the Russian government was responsible for intercepting and leaking the phone conversation, “this is something they have been actively promoting, posting on, tweeting about, and certainly we feel that represents a new low.”

The Obama administration was revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to have erected a vast surveillance network to eavesdrop on the telephone and Internet communications of the world’s population, including heads of state and government. It is no position to lecture anybody about “new lows.” Its hypocritical protests nevertheless point to concerns that the leaked conversation could prove damaging to its ongoing campaign against Moscow and the Yanukovych government.

Angela Merkel: Victoria Nuland’s remarks on EU are unacceptable: here.

Washington’s response has confirmed the authenticity of a YouTube clip of a leaked telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt that emerged Thursday: here.

UK Conservatives face crisis over referendum on European Union: here.

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America the Beautiful, by David Rovics


This video from the USA is called Falmouth Historic Society & Katherine Lee Bates.

More than a century after the original poem America the Beautiful, by Katharine Lee Bates, a feminist, a lesbian, a Christian socialist, and an anti-imperialist, now David Rovics‘ take.

From Rovics’ Songwriter’s Notebook:

Monday, February 3, 2014

“America the Beautiful”

Here’s my contribution to the discussion resulting from Coca-Cola‘s multilingual “America the Beautiful” Superbowl commercial. Dedicated to whatever disgusting corporation runs the Live95.5 pop music station that my daughter and her little friends that we drive to school with most days like to listen to.

“America the Beautiful”

America is beautiful but it’s got a lot of ugly people
I heard one of them this morning on the radio
He interrupted the pop music programming
To tell us what he thought we needed to know
He said America is an English-speaking country
And that Coke commercial was just all wrong
You can’t interrupt an all-American football game
To have little brown girls sing an all-American song

He said America is beautiful but it’s only got one language
The one we inherited from the King
Although the king himself spoke German and the French helped us overthrow him
But I still don’t want to hear those girls sing
He said it and I wondered if it reminded him
Of his grandparents who were probably refugees
From Finland or Italy or Lithuania
Or perhaps from Belarus or Germany

Or perhaps they came from Ireland where they fought for generations
To try to speak the language of their birth
And now their red-faced son is shouting English is the language
In this little stolen corner of the Earth
Not Navajo or Lakota, not Tagalog or Spanish
But the language of those who came out on top
Not the language of the conquered or the ones who were here first
But the language of the ones who run the shop

America is beautiful, it would be silly to deny it
If you’ve seen the forests or the mountains capped with snow
But as I left my Japanese wife to drive to the French school
With a carpool full of gorgeous kids in tow
Who all sang along to Katy Perry and then listened to this bigot
Tell us this is an English-speaking nation
I don’t know what the kids thought but I said this guy’s a fascist
And we all agreed to change the station.

See also here.

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United States songbirds on stamps


United States songbirds on 2014 stamps

From USPS stamps in the USA:

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates ten melodic voices with the Songbirds stamps: the western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta), the mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides), the western tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), the painted bunting (Passerina ciris), the Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula), the evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus), the scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea), the rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus), the American goldfinch (Spinus tristis), and the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis).

Each colorful bird is shown perching on a fence post or branch embellished with vines, pinecones, leaves, or flowers. The artwork appears against a plain, white background.

Why do songbirds make such a glorious racket every morning? In a word, love. Males sing to attract females, and to warn rivals to keep out of their territory. Between 4,000 and 4,500 different types of songbirds can be found around the planet, accounting for nearly half of all bird species. Songbirds are identified by their highly developed vocal organs, although some, like the crow, have harsh voices, and others sing rarely, or not at all. All songbirds are classified as perching birds. With three toes that point forward and one that points backward, they can grip branches, grasses, or telephone wires with ease.

Illustrator Robert Giusti painted the portraits, based on photographs. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps.

Songbirds will be issued as Forever® stamps in booklets of 20. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.

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