McCain flip-flops from Gadaffi crony to Libya warmonger

This video from the USA says about itself:

26 April 2011

Sen. John McCain yesterday became the highest profile U.S. official to visit Libya since international military intervention began, and gave a hearty endorsement to the rebels fighting the Gadhafi government … “They are my heroes,” he said … he called his visit “one of the most exciting and inspiring days of my life”.

….McCain‘s last visit to Libya was very different, and it’s amazing that U.S. media outlets reporting on his remarks yesterday are pretending this other visit never occurred. It was just 18 months ago that McCain traveled to Libya and cozied up to Gadhafi, visiting with him at the dictator’s home in Tripoli, shaking his hand, and even bowing a little to Gadhafi:

The point of the meeting was for McCain to discuss delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan regime. I guess the rebels didn’t hear about this? And that American media outlets simply forgot it happened?

Politics Daily (August 2009): Sen. John McCain, visiting Libya this past week, praised Muammar Gaddafi for his peacemaking efforts in Africa. In addition, McCain called for the U.S. Congress to expand ties with Gaddafi’s government, according to Libya’s state news agency. McCain had a face-to-face meeting with Gaddafi, which he detailed on his Twitter page with the following message:

“Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his “ranch” in Libya — interesting meeting with an interesting man.”

Source: here.

McCain Now Praises Egyptian Revolt After Calling Popular Uprisings in Arab World a Dangerous “Virus”: here.

McCain falsely accuses illegal immigrants of starting Arizona fire: here.


French film makes fun of Sarkozy

This video, in French, is the trailer of the movie “La Conquête”.

Nicolas Sarkozy, with blood on his hands in Tunisia, Libya, Ivory Coast, Chad, Niger, etc., is not as great as his sycophants say.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Cannes showing for scathing portrait of Nicolas Sarkozy‘s rise to power

Inspired by British satire In The Loop, first French film to tell story of a serving president breaks last taboo

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris

Sunday 8 May 2011 15.02 BST

It threatens to be so true to life that it’s more like a documentary than a feature film. “I’m surrounded by cretins!” shouts a stack-heeled, would-be French president at his terrified advisers. “Remember, I’m a Ferrari. When you open the bonnet, you use white gloves.”

When the Cannes film festival opens next week, it will break the last taboo in French film. La Conquête, a scathing portrait of Nicolas Sarkozy’s rise to power – the first French feature film brave enough to tackle a serving president – will be shown on La Croisette after a row over whether officials wanted to sideline it to spare the Elysée‘s blushes.

Inspired by the merciless British satire In the Loop, and subtitled “The man who won the presidency, but lost a wife“, it hopes to skewer Sarkozy‘s rage, ambition and problems with women. But it faces the same problem as Italian director Nanni Moretti’s Berlusconi-inspired The Caiman: how do you parody a man who has already become a parody of himself?

This year’s Cannes is already displaying an unprecedented Sarkozy theme. The first lady, Carla Bruni, will appear in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, while the French director Pierre Schoeller’s L’Exercice de l’Etat fictionalises the personal sacrifices of a government minister.

Sarkozy, record-breakingly unpopular one year before a tough battle for re-election, cannot risk appearing on the red carpet himself, nor can Bruni. It would send the wrong message about lavish partying to cash-strapped France.

But the Elysée is already on a damage-limitation offensive over La Conquête. In recent days, Sarkozy has been brandishing a three-page handwritten letter from the actor who plays him. Denis Podalydès is one of France’s biggest theatre stars, a leftwinger whose line in Shakespearean figures like Richard II has set him up well for playing right-winger Sarkozy’s 2007 rise to power. He recently wrote to Sarkozy explaining his role in the film, which the president has taken as an admission that the film isn’t too cruel.

But the Elysée is clearly irked by the film. Several Sarkozy advisers have dismissed the trailer as “a ridiculous charicature”. Producers said French TV channels self-censored and refused to contribute funding for the “dangerous and risky project” and the script was leaked, perhaps reaching as high as the Elysée. Rachida Dati, the former Sarkozy protégée and minister, reportedly tried to contact the actor playing her, but was brushed off.

This week Carla Bruni admitted she was “worried” about the film, which depicts Sarkozy’s split from his previous wife, Cécilia. She said: “It’s a period that I experienced like everyone else, observing the presidential candidates from the outside. I would really like to watch this film with that same sense of distance, but I’m not sure I can.”

Even the film poster has made the political class cringe. Designed by the English team who worked on In the Loop, it shows a pair of short legs in stacked heels, dangling off a high stool, echoing a scene in the film where the diminutive Sarkozy throws a tantrum that his chair is too high.

Podalydès has described his Sarkozy character as both “endearing and insufferable”, “mature and immature”, someone totally “animal” who cares little about philosophy. He recently met Sarkozy at the Elysée and said the president told him: “I don’t like power, but I like exercising it.”

The script is based on an analysis of Sarkozy by the political historian and documentary maker, Patrick Rotman. But French critics have warned they want more than just accurate Sarkozy-mimicry and hunger for a piece of fiction that explores the president’s narcissistic yet unfathomable personality.

Africa: The More France Talks of Leaving, the More It Lingers: here.

The former French justice minister Rachida Dati has said she is the victim of “political plotters” after the state auditor rejected €190,000 (£137,000) of spending by her ministry under Nicolas Sarkozy’s rightwing government. The decision by the Cour des Comptes, which audits state accounts, relates to when Dati was one of Sarkozy’s most high-profile ministers and the country’s first Muslim woman to hold a major government post. About €9,000 of the rejected justice ministry spending went on “receptions and representation” and included “luxury clothing” as well as meals, drinks, cakes, newspapers and pharmacy products. The news weekly Le Point reported that the “luxury clothing” spend included Hermès scarves: here.

The Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier is representative of a certain type of self-indulgent and self-promoting modern artist who makes a virtue of failing to think through a single serious social problem to the end. Encouraged by a small but influential coterie of smirking admirers, von Trier tosses around his provocations like sticks of dynamite without the slightest consideration for the consequences: here.

Criminals shoot protected Bewick’s swans

From Wildlife Extra:

23% of Bewick’s swans have been shot

X-rays reveal shooting of swans despite legislation

May 2011. A forty year study by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) reveals that Bewick’s swans are being shot, despite being protected by law in every country they fly through. 23% of live Bewick’s swans x-rayed for the study since 2000 had been shot. (The real number must be higher as these are only the swans that survive the shooting. Ed.)

Migrating to Russia

The swans, currently on their spring migration from the UK to Arctic Russia, have been in sharp decline since the mid-1990s and conservationists at WWT are trying to eliminate threats to their future. These findings reflect shooting along the swans’ entire migration path, but it is not yet possible to say where shooting hotspots might be.

The swans are regular and much-loved winter visitors to Slimbridge on the River Severn and the Ouse Washes in Norfolk, where researchers catch a proportion each year for ringing and health screening. In addition, they x-ray the birds, revealing which ones are living with shotgun pellets lodged in their bodies. This gives a clear indication of the amount of illegal shooting that goes on.

1973 – 34% had been shot

A paper published in 1973, the early days of the study, found 34% of Bewick’s swans to be living with shot in them. Now, forty years into the study, WWT has discovered that 23% of Bewick’s swans still continue to be shot.

Julia Newth, Wildlife Health Research Officer at WWT, says: “We are doing our best to work out what is behind the decline of our swans. There are a number of suspected threats. Irrespective of the importance of illegal shooting among these, we need to reduce mortality from all factors in this declining species. We face a big challenge because the swans migrate across all of northern Europe to reach their breeding grounds in Russia, which is a vast area within which to try to work out why people continue to shoot the swans. We want to appeal to responsible hunters to keep their eyes out and to report anyone they see shooting at swans. If we can work out where the shooting hotspots are, we can do something to address the illegal shooting of swans.”

As many as 30 pellets in 1 swan

Most shot birds had between one and three pellets in them, but one swan caught at Slimbridge in 1991 had 30 pellets in it. With such high levels of wounding, it follows that many birds are probably killed by shooting. Other studies looking at geese and ducks carrying pellets report that wounded birds can have a much lower chance of survival.

Bewick’s decline research

WWT is a leading member of an international, multi-disciplinary, team which is investigating why Bewick’s swans are declining in Europe and the threats faced by the birds, including disturbance, habitat loss, changes in the climate, collisions with large objects such as power lines and wind turbines, and lead poisoning.

WWT’s swan records are a valuable tool for the team because they are the world’s longest and most comprehensive study of Bewick’s swan return dates, migration and family histories.

The records were started during the winter of 1964/65 by WWT founder Sir Peter Scott soon after he realised that the bill markings of Bewick’s swans are as unique as a fingerprint is to a person, so could be used to identify individuals. Today, Sir Peter’s pioneering ID system means that WWT experts can recognise many hundreds of birds by name and ancestry.

Bewick’s swans are named after the bird-watcher and illustrator, Thomas Bewick (1753 to 1828) and are thought to have inspired the Russian folk story on which the ballet SWAN LAKE is based.

RSPB denounces Scottish landowners call for raptor cull: here.

May 2011: A member of a shooting party has become the first person in England to be convicted of shooting a bird with lead shot. Simon Quince, of Hemingfield, Barnsley, shot a young mute swan on an organised pheasant shoot at Spellow Grange, near Minskip, North Yorkshire: here.

The theme for World Migratory Bird Day 2011, celebrated around the world on 14-15 May, is ‘ Land use changes from a bird’s-eye view ‘ and it highlights the negative effects human activities are having on migratory birds, their habitats and the planet’s natural environment. The loss, fragmentation and degradation of natural bird habitats is occurring globally and is mainly caused by the pressures resulting from a growing human population, rapid urbanisation and unsustainable human use of natural areas: here.

My inbox has been buzzing with news that the great Bewick’s swan migration is underway and on time! The first birds arrived in Lithuania at the end of September, and since then, nearly a thousand have dropped into the Netherlands! Here.

European bison helps beetles

This is a video about the Kraansvlak wisent herd.

As this blog blogged earlier, European bison have been introduced to the Kraansvlak nature reserve in the coastal sand dunes in the Netherlands.

The bison like to have sandbaths. That makes for more open sandy spots.

Northern dune tiger beetles benefit from this, as Dutch conservation organization ARK reports.

Kraansvlak bisons update, March 2012: here.