Australian anti-Afghan war demonstration, Sydney

This video from the USA is called Minneapolis Afghan War Protest.

From Green Left Weekly in Australia:

Protest: Shoe away the war criminals!

Robert Gates (Bush-Obama defense secretary and former CIA deputy director) and Hillary Clinton (Obama’s secretary of state) will be in Australia for talks with the pro-war Julia Gillard government. Even Gates admits that the US-NATO war and occupation in Afghanistan is not going well. The Revolutionary Assoc[iaton] of Afghan Women has accused Clinton of lying when she says the Western occupation can continue while the women of Afghanistan are saved.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Australia is training militia connected to Uruzgan warlord Matiullah Khan. Perhaps that explains why Afghan president Hamid Karzai praised the PM for working with “warlordy types” when she visited Afghanistan last month.

Send a message to Gates, Clinton and Gillard that the troops have to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq … and bring your spare shoes!

Where: Outside US Consulate, Martin Place.

in Sydney city in Australia

Event date:
Mon, 08/11/2010 – 1:00pm

Pip 0412 139 968

See also here.

Update: report here.

The United States embassy in Canberra, Australia, says:

Secretary participating in town hall event

3 November 2010

Secretary Clinton will answer questions submitted via Facebook and Twitter.

As part of her first visit to Australia as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton will participate in a town-hall style event in Melbourne on Sunday. Australians are encouraged to submit their questions for the Secretary to the ABC via Facebook, Twitter (with the #hillaryoz hashtag), and video link.

Airing at 6pm on ABC TV and radio on Sunday night, Leigh Sales will host an audience of young Australians, mixing questions from the live audience with those submitted in advance.

You can get all the latest updates for the Secretary’s trip by following us on Twitter or Facebook and keeping an eye on this page.

Will only softball questions to Secretary Clinton be allowed (apparently, contrary to Clinton, Pentagon Secretary Gates will not answer any townhall style questions)? And will critical questions on, eg, the Afghan war, torture, etc. be censored and will people asking critical questions be chucked out by “security” gorillas?

One can not be very optimistic about this, if we look at top-down bogus “townhall” meetings under the previous Bush administration. Or at the administration before that, of Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill, when Ms Albright was Secretary of State.

Any hope I had in the ballot box bringing change in Afghanistan is gone. By Malalai Joya: here.


Danish fin whale was over 130 years old

This video is called Whales With Names – Fin Whale and Calf.

From The Sun daily in Malaysia:

Dead whale beached in Denmark ‘was world’s oldest’

COPENHAGEN (Nov 2, 2010): A whale which died after being stranded in a Danish fjord earlier this year was 130-140 years old – making it likely the oldest known whale to date, officials said Tuesday.

The age was determined after analysis of the fin whale’s carcass conducted at the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen.

Initial estimates had put the whale’s age at 15 to 20 years. However, analysis of amino acids in the whale’s eyes proved it was more likely to have been 130 to 140 years old, museum conservator Abdi Hedayat told the local newspaper Lokal-Bladet Budstikken.

“That makes it the world’s oldest, scientifically described whale,” he said.

A 116-year-old fin whale held the previous longevity record.

The beached whale was spotted in June at several locations in western Denmark before it became stranded in the Vejle Fjord. Several attempts to free the whale failed after it swam back to shallow waters.

The whale’s struggle attracted hundreds of bystanders. The whale was not particularly large, measuring some 17 metres, which is seven metres shorter than the largest known fin whale.

Hedayat said the old whale might have suffered from brittleness of the bones, but that had not been established. — dpa

This was a male fin whale.

It is estimated that bowhead whales can live to 200 years old.

Just like us whales get sunburned – and the problem is increasing, according to a new study: here.

Recent studies show that many animals will feed off dead whale carcasses on the ocean floor, but bone eating worms and snails are the specialists: here.

Bohemian waxwings still present

This is a video of a Bohemian waxwing on Vlieland island in the Netherlands last year.

Yesterday, I blogged about the Bohemian waxwings.

This morning, I went again to the old university library.

Nine waxwings on the big tree near the canal, one in the smaller tree next to it. The bird in the smaller tree soon joined the others.

A blue tit underneath the waxwings.

Three waxwings flew to the old library garden ten meter away to eat taxus berries.

Now, 11 waxwings in the big tree, two in the small tree. Then, all thirteen of them fly away. Leaving just two siskins in the small tree.

Where have the waxwings gone? To the botanical garden?

Though there are taxus and other berries in the botanical garden, I do not find the waxwings. So, I am leaving. Then, a small flock of six waxwings, flying above the entrance gate.

A bit later, someone saw two waxwings near the old library.

Still later, eight waxwings a bit more to the west.

November 2010. The Scottish Wildlife Trust and the RSPB have both reported the highest number of geese ever recorded in Montrose Bay and the Inner Hebridean island of Islay. Around 65,000 Pink Footed Geese have arrived at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Montrose Basin (15,000 more than last year), while nearly 29,000 Barnacle Geese and Greenland White Fronted Geese have been spotted at the RSPB Loch Gruinart on Islay: here.

Do birds rehearse their songs? Here.

German Foreign Ministry nazi crimes

This video is called Auschwitz: Factories of Death 1 of 5.

By Sybille Fuchs in Germany:

The German Foreign Ministry during the Third Reich: “A criminal organisation”

3 November 2010

Over a period of five years, a federal historical commission has examined the role played by the German Foreign Ministry (AA) during the period of fascist rule. The commission, established by the former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in 2005, has just published its findings, which constitute a devastating indictment of the Ministry’s cooperation with the crimes committed by the Nazis. According to commission member Eckart Conze: “The Ministry contributed, as an institution, to the violent crimes of the Nazis, even including the murder of the Jews. In this sense, one can say that the Foreign Ministry was a criminal organisation.”

The Foreign Ministry had taken active part in the violent political activities of National Socialism since 1933. Following the establishment of the Federal Republic, it became a haven for leading former Nazis. It also played a leading role in the persecution and murder of European Jewry.

The four historians on the commission, Conze, Norbert Frei, Moshe Zimmermann (Israel) and Peter Hayes (US) have laid out the results of their research in a nearly 900-page book entitled The Ministry and the Past: German Diplomats in the Third Reich and the Federal Republic, which was published on October 25. The commission’s report thoroughly dispels the legends carefully built up in the postwar period that depicted the Foreign Ministry as a stronghold of resistance to the Nazis. The historians uncover in detailed fashion the way in which many high-ranking members of the diplomatic service who had commenced their careers under the Nazi Reich had been able to make a smooth transition to working under the Federal Republic.

See also here. And here.

British war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq

This video is called Sexual abuse and Torture by British troops in Iraq.

By Chris Marsden in Britain:

Mounting evidence of British war crimes

3 November 2010

Britain’s armed forces stand accused of torture and murder, perpetrated in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The scale of the abuses involved cannot be attributed to a few “rogue” individuals, or covered up by the routine excuse that Britain simply got “too close” to the United States and is guilty only by association. They present prima facia evidence for war crimes charges.

Revelations regarding Afghanistan focus on the documents released by WikiLeaks, listing 21 British attacks on civilians, including children. But a separate document seen by the Daily Telegraph suggests coalition forces are responsible for up to 1,000 civilian deaths since 2006. This number has doubled in the past four years.

WikiLeaks also cited three reports recording cases of direct abuse by British troops against Iraqi detainees that coincide with mounting evidence of “systemic” abuses of detainees and other civilians.

A preliminary high court ruling in July found, “There is an arguable case that the alleged ill-treatment was systemic, and not just at the whim of individual soldiers”. The court was presented with evidence on behalf of 102 Iraqis held as prisoners by the British military in an action by Public Interest Lawyers headed by solicitor Phil Shiner. The evidence lists the cases of 59 Iraqi civilians who say they were hooded by British troops, 11 subjected to electric shocks, 122 alleging that ear muffs were used for sound deprivation, 52 deprived of sleep, 39 who were subjected to enforced nakedness, and 18 forced to watch pornographic DVDs.

The Iraq war logs also reveal appalling details of the torture and ill-treatment by the Iraqi authorities, after detainees were handed over by US and British forces. This is in breach of international law. States are bound by a duty of “non-refoulement” and must never hand someone over to another state where it is known they face a “real risk” of torture or ill-treatment. Public Interest Lawyers stated, “In the light of the Iraq war logs, the UK cannot say that it did not have evidence that there was a real risk of torture and ill-treatment at the hands of the Iraqi authorities.”

In a number of cases, British forces transferred detainees to US custody, despite being aware of the treatment meted out by US troops at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. In one case, the claimant alleges that US forces placed detainees in coffins for up to three days after nailing the lids shut.

A number of instances have already emerged in which British troops allegedly killed Iraqi civilians, with hotel worker Baha Mousa who was killed in 2003 the most well known. He is believed to have died as the result of asphyxiation, but his body had 93 separate injuries consistent with severe beating. An initial investigation prompted by these revelations has already uncovered over 100 additional cases in which detainees allege ill treatment at the hands of UK forces in Iraq.

Training manuals acquired by the Guardian under a Freedom of Information Act request make it clear that such activities had official sanction. They detail the interrogation techniques approved for use by British military personnel in Iraq, including the use of “threats, sensory deprivation and enforced nakedness” and sleep deprivation. These methods correspond to the charges made by Shiner’s clients. Prisoners should be “conditioned” before questioning in order to provoke “anxiety/fear”, “insecurity”, “disorientation” and “humiliation.” Interrogators are advised to probe the detainee’s anus and search behind his foreskin. “Positional asphyxiation” is recommended.

All of these techniques contravene the Geneva Convention of 1949 and amount to an officially endorsed policy of torture. The training manuals form part of courses run by F Branch, part of the Joint Services Intelligence Organisation (JSIO), which was deployed by the previous Labour government into Iraq.

Last Sunday, one week after it published a front-page smear against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the New York Times ran a self-serving column defending its coverage of the nearly 400,000 classified military logs exposing US war crimes in Iraq: here.

Swedish authorities, stepping up their persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, have issued an international arrest warrant for his detention in relation to trumped-up “rape” charges: here.

Danish military requests unredacted copy of Iraq War Logs from WikiLeaks after being rebuffed by US: here.

Baby dinosaur tracks discovered in Colorado, USA

This music video from the USA is called Jonathan Richman – I’m A Little Dinosaur.

This is a video about sauropods.

From Digital Journal:

Baby dinosaur footprints discovered in Colorado

November, 02 2010

Digital Journal

Infant dinosaur footprints have been discovered in the foothills west of Denver, Colorado, near the town of Morrison.

These tracks were made about 148 million years ago, before the Rocky Mountains rose, when the savanna was full of dinosaurs.

According to Matthew Mossbrucker, director of the Morrison Natural History Museum, who discovered the prints, the fossil tracks represent infant sauropods. Sauropods were giant, herbivorous long-necked dinosaurs, sometimes known as “brontosaurs.” The sauropod Apatosaurus [see also here] was first discovered in Morrison in 1877.

Details of the findings were presented at the 2010 Geologic Society of America Annual Meeting & Exposition in Denver on November 1. Although collected five years ago, these tracks were a part of a backlog of new discoveries made by Museum staff. The tracks are on permanent display at the Morrison Natural History Museum.

Paleontologist Dr Robert T Bakker of the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences (who also serves as the Morrison Museum’s volunteer curator of paleontology) said on the finding, “The latest discovery is a tribute to Director Matt Mossbrucker and his crew of sharp-eyed volunteers. Never before has science given us such an intimate glimpse of baby brontosaurs – a window into Jurassic Family Values.”

The tracks are ovular in shape and can be covered by a coffee mug. This would mean that the infant sauropods were about the size of a small dog. While one animal left average walking footprints, another infant dinosaur ran parallel to adult tracks. The scientists also found an unusual pattern. “The distance between each step is two-times wider than what we observe in walking tracks indicating the animal was at a low speed run,” said Mossbrucker. “I am not aware of any running sauropod tracks anywhere.”

Mamenchisaurus, a Chinese sauropod: here.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 3, 2011) — Terrain thought to be ruled by only the largest dinosaurs to inhabit Earth could have in fact been home to dozens of other creatures, ground-breaking research from The University of Manchester has found. Writing in the journal of the Royal Society Interface, Dr. Peter Falkingham has discovered that dinosaurs only created lasting footprints if the soil conditions were perfect to do so — and entirely depending on the animal’s weight: here.