Ten years Thai jail for blogging

This video from Thailand says about itself:

Free Pichai – Thailand’s lastest victim of lese majeste law

Pichai was arrested by Thai police. He was denied of access to attorney and visitation from family and friends. We want the world to know about this situation.


By Andy Newman in Britain:


Free speech campaigns, Index on Censorship, ARTICLE 19 and English PEN, today expressed concern over the ten-year prison sentence given to Thai blogger Suwicha Thakhor, a 34-year-old father of three.

Suwicha was arrested in January and held in custody until his conviction on 3 April 2009 for lèse majesté for material he posted on his blog which was deemed to have defamed the monarchy. Defaming, insulting or threatening the king or the royal family is an offence under Section 112 of Thailand’s Penal Code. Suwicha’s lawyer has said he will apply for a royal pardon.

Charges of lèse majesté have increased dramatically since the September 2006 coup which deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. In January 2009, Australian writer Harry Nicolaides was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment but was later pardoned by the king. In February, an arrest warrant was issued for Thai-British academic Giles Ji Ungpakorn for his book, A Coup For The Rich, criticising the 2006 military coup. Giles fled the country to avoid imprisonment.

In May 2008, BBC Southeast Asia correspondent Jonathan Head was accused of lèse majesté after ‘inappropriate photographs’ were posted on the BBC’s news wesbite. Several issues of the Economist carrying articles about the king have been pulled from the shelves in Thailand. Paul M Handley’s biography of the monarch, The King Never Smiles, has been banned in Thailand since its publication in 2006, and websites advertising the book have been blocked.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology claims to have shut down more than 2,000 websites alleged to have contained lèse majesté material. And on 23 January, the Senate set up an extraordinary committee to oversee the blocking of further sites, warning that over 10,000 could be targeted.

In a letter to the king of Thailand, ARTICLE 19, English PEN and Index on Censorship wrote: “This is an extremely harsh sentence. We are deeply concerned about the routine use of lèse majesté to silence criticism and dissent in Thailand. We ask that Suwicha Thakhor be pardoned, and that the Thai authorities repeal a law that is chilling free speech.”

International guarantees of freedom of expression require public figures to tolerate more, rather than less, criticism. By providing special protection for royalty, lèse majesté laws breach these guarantees.

Thailand: THOUSANDS of anti-government protesters retreated on Friday after an all-day stand-off with soldiers at the Asian summit but vowed to return unless Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resigns: here.

Critic of Thai royal family receives 18 year prison sentence: here.

Moldovan anticommunist violence after communist election victory

This is a Moldovan communist election TV video.

From Reuters:

April 7, 2009 – 2:11 PM

Moldovan protests turn violent after Communist win

By Dmitry Chubashenko and Gleb Garanich

CHISINAU – Protesters denouncing a Communist election victory in Moldova seized the president’s offices on Tuesday, hurling computers into the street while police took cover behind riot shields, Reuters reporters said.

About 10,000 demonstrators massed for a second straight day in the capital of Europe’s poorest country after the Communist Party led by veteran president Vladimir Voronin scored a big victory in a weekend parliamentary election.

Opposition leaders demanded a new election to resolve the confrontation with Voronin, the only Communist president in Europe, who accused them of seeking destabilisation and demanded an end to the “bacchanalia.” …

Protesters hurling rocks overwhelmed riot police protecting both the president’s office and parliament — located opposite each other on the capital Chisinau’s main boulevard — and poured into both buildings through smashed windows. …

Arcadie Barbarosiem, from Moldova’s Institute for Public Policy, said the opposition had mishandled the protests.

“Opposition leaders have wasted a lot of time. Will they be able to lead this protest, to direct it in a more civilised way?” he said. “Will they have enough force, intellect and skills to do so?”

The election polarised Moldova between mostly older and rural voters, who see the Communists as a guarantor of stability, and those who identify with pro-Western liberal parties that broadly call for closer ties with Romania. …

The communists won about 50 percent of the vote. Parliament elects the president, and the Communists appeared very close to securing the 61 seats they need in the 101-seat assembly to secure victory for their chosen candidate.

From Dutch NOS TV:

The 200 OSCE observers in Moldova say that the elections were fair.

So, this is what those observers from Western, mainly anti communist, countries say.

Imagine if communists would lose an election and then in revenge would start smashing government buildings, computers, etc. The corporate media would resound with descriptions of the communists as “thugs”, “criminals”, “hooligans”, and what not.

Remember the 2000 United States presidential election? Then, it was not an issue of communists. The Democratic party is far from being leftist, let alone communist. Nevertheless, hysteria broke out, when Democratic candidate Al Gore, who had more votes than Republican George W. Bush, did not immediately concede defeat after losing a vote, not from the electorate, but in the Republican-packed supreme court. Loudly, Gore was called a “sore loser” in the media.

If someone is supposedly a “sore loser” after winning more votes than his opponent; then, how should one call the Moldovan anti communists? The communists got “about 50 percent”; the biggest anti communist, pro Greater Romania and pro NATO party got 13%?

As a compromise between government and opposition, it has now been decided that the votes will be re-counted.

United States backyard birdcount results

This video from the USA is called The Great Backyard Bird Count Portland Maine 2009.

From Wildlife Extra:

US Great Backyard Bird Count results

06/04/2009 22:48:58

Great Backyard Bird Count highlights dynamic changes in where the birds are

April 2009. The 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) featured an invasion of voracious Pine Siskins … as well shattering last year’s record by submitting more than 93,600 checklists during the four-day event, held from February 16-19. Participants identified 619 species and sent in thousands of stunning bird images for the GBBC photo contest. The Great Backyard Bird Count is organised by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.

Top 10 most-frequently reported birds in the 2009 GBBC:

1) Northern Cardinal
2) Mourning Dove
3) Dark-eyed Junco [see also here and here]
4) American Goldfinch [see also here and here and here and here]
5) Downy Woodpecker
6) Blue Jay
7) House Finch
8) Tufted Titmouse
9) American Crow
10) Black-capped Chickadee

See also here.

Insect-eating birds that feed on the wing—from nighthawks and nightjars to kingbirds and pewees—are vanishing from parts of North America, and scientists don’t know why: here.

Sibley Guide to Birds [in North America] online: here.

Amazing image of a Kingbird attacking a red tailed hawk 20x its size: here.

ScienceDaily (Mar. 24, 2010) — Two recently diverged populations of a southern California songbird produce unique odors, suggesting smell could contribute to the reproductive isolation that accompanies the origin of new bird species. The Indiana University Bloomington study of organic compounds present in the preen oils of Dark-eyed Juncos is described in this month’s Behavioral Ecology: here.

Dark-eyed junco sex: here.

Thistle flowers could signal to American goldfinches that the seeds the songbirds prize for baby food and parent food will soon be abundant, proposes Thomas Luloff of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. And in lab setups, male goldfinches housed among blooming Canadian thistles underwent physiological changes that indicate the birds got the “breed now” message from the combination of summery heat and thrilling thistles, Luloff reported January 6 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology: here.

By July, most songbirds are in the final stages of raising their young, but not the American Goldfinches. These appealing, colorful birds are just getting started; here.

Rare lesser kestrel in Israel

This is an Italian TV video about lesser kestrels.

From daily Haaretz in Israel:


Rare bird becomes integral part of Galilee moshav‘s life

By Eli Ashkenazi

At first they were only visitors, small flying migrants, but recently the lesser kestrels (falco naumanni) have become a integral part of the life of the Danin family of Moshav Elyakim. “Housing for homeless kestrels” is what the father, Shlomi, calls the nesting box that has been built in their yard. After school and work, Shlomi and his children – Aviv, 13, Adi, 12, Daniel, 7, and Yigal, 5 – are busy studying, following and observing the rare small falcon.

One day last week, as Danin stood in the living room of his home talking to us, he did not take his eyes off the nearby hill, following his sub-tenants’ hunting route. “They have a daily schedule and the couple work in harmony and as a team. The male looks after the female. We have a lot to learn from them.”

As recognition of their activity on behalf of the lesser kestrel population, the Danin family has recently been awarded the title of “Friends of the Lesser Kestrel” by Menachem Hadar of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. …

The lesser kestrel is the smallest bird of prey in Israel and weighs only 160 grams. It can be identified by its unique colors: Its head and neck are a bluish gray, its feet and eyelids are yellow and the rest of its body is chestnut brown. However, its beauty does not help it in the struggle for survival: The lesser kestrel population is in a constant downward trend. It is estimated that over the years the number of pairs has dwindled to only about 600. …

One of the main reasons for the dwindling lesser kestrel population in Israel is damage to its nesting sites. Often the birds choose to nest in the roofs of homes. Renovations and the replacement of old roofs reduce the possibilities for nesting, and damage to open areas also harms the kestrels, which lose hunting grounds.