Torture gear at British arms fair


This video from Britain says about itself:

Caroline Lucas accuses companies of pushing torture weapons in Parliament

11 Sep 2013

Caroline Lucas, Green MP makes a statement regards sale of illegal weapons at the #dsei London Arms Fair including handheld projectile electric shock weapons, weighted leg cuffs, and stun batons.

Later the companies were ejected from the event.

Full story here.

By Paddy McGuffin in England:

Banned torture gear flaunted at arms fair

Thursday 15 September 2011

Organisers of the London arms fair launched a desperate damage limitation exercise today by expelling a British firm openly advertising banned torture equipment.

Sussex-based firm Beechwood Equipment was found by Amnesty International to be displaying pamphlets advertising shackles and leg-irons from the firm CTS-Thompson at this week’s Defence and Security Equipment International.

Despite explicit acknowledgments on the DSEi website that the sale of “leg irons, gang chains, shackles and shackle bracelets” are prohibited, the brochures – freely available to potential investors – promoted products for sale from CTS-Thompson.

The brochure offers oversized leg cuffs, waist chains, lead chains and “the enhanced transport restraint system” which combines waist chains and cuffs with leg cuffs.

Under British law the sale or export of such equipment is banned.

The discovery will be of serious embarrassment to the government, which partly funds the event through its arms promotions arms UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation.

Organisers of the DSEi Clarion events confirmed that a stall run by Sussex-based firm Beechwood Equipment had been shut down after they were alerted to the situation.

A spokesman for Clarion events said that the firm had robust procedures in place to prevent such incidents occurring but that “sadly occasionally something slips through the net.”

He added that a close search and survey of all literature on other stands had now been instituted and said they were grateful to Amnesty for bringing the matter to their attention.

Amnesty International’s arms programme director Oliver Sprague said: “Sadly this is not the first time that DSEi has allowed prohibited torture equipment to find its way onto exhibitors’ stands, despite a public commitment to monitor compliance and scrutinise all advertising material.”

In 2007, Amnesty researchers discovered two companies, Cardiff-based BCB International and Chinese firm Famous Glory Holding, promoting banned leg restraints.

The DSEi website confirmed that Beechwood Equipment’s stand has been closed and claimed that its response had been “robust” and “immediate.”

It added: “The stand was closed as soon as the literature was found and we should stress that no equipment was found.

“We have informed the Export Control Organisation of the breach and of our decision to close the stand.”

But Mr Sprague said that DSEi’s action “certainly wasn’t ‘immediate.’ These materials should never have been on display in the first place.

“These illegal torture goods were on display for two days prior to Amnesty uncovering them.

“Sadly this is not the first time that it has fallen to Amnesty International to police what is being promoted at the fair and clearly this embarrassing episode demonstrates that the systems put in place to monitor and enforce the law, are far too lax.”

The Star contacted Beechwood Equipment for comment but by time of press they had not responded.

Companies ejected from London arms fair for ‘promoting cluster bombs‘: here.

Rare flower back in the Netherlands


Salicornia pusilla

Translated from the Dutch FLORON botanists:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Last week, one-flowered glasswort was found in the Netherlands. It is one of the three types of glasswort in the Netherlands. Of those three, one-flowered glasswort is the rarest species with a limited distribution along the coasts of northern France, Belgium, Netherlands, England and Ireland. In the Netherlands the species had not been found for over twenty years, and in Belgium, this species is even considered extinct!

This rare species was rediscovered on several spots in the Boschplaat nature reserve on Terschelling island.

Spoonbills and grebes


Yesterday, to the “Baillon’s crake reserve”.

In the southern lake, gadwall ducks.

House martins flying.

This is a house martin video from Spain.

A spoonbill looking for food.

Teal.

In the northern lake, an adult and a juvenile spoonbill, not far from each other. Relatives on migration to Africa? The adult spoonbill landed in the lake, flying from the northern meadow.

Lapwing. Shoveler.

On the canal parallel to the railway, a great crested grebe couple, each with a chick on their backs.

The Egyptian goose with its five now almost adult goslings, is further to the north today than last time.

Colombian crocodile fossil discovery


This illustration shows how Acherontisuchus guajiraensis, a 60-million-year-old ancestor of crocodiles, would have looked in its natural setting. Titanoboa, the world’s largest snake, is pictured in the background. CREDIT: Florida Museum of Natural History illustration by Danielle Byerley

From ScienceDaily:

Ancient Crocodile Competed With Titanoboa, World’s Largest Snake, for Food, Paleontologists Discover

(Sep. 14, 2011) — Did an ancient crocodile relative give the world’s largest snake a run for its money?

In a new study appearing Sept. 15 in the journal Palaeontology, University of Florida researchers describe a new 20-foot extinct species discovered in the same Colombian coal mine with Titanoboa, the world’s largest snake. The findings help scientists better understand the diversity of animals that occupied the oldest known rainforest ecosystem, which had higher temperatures than today, and could be useful for understanding the impacts of a warmer climate in the future.

The 60-million-year-old freshwater relative to modern crocodiles is the first known land animal from the Paleocene New World tropics specialized for eating fish, meaning it competed with Titanoboa for food. But the giant snake could have consumed its competition, too, researchers say.

“The younger individuals were definitely not safe from Titanoboa, but the biggest of these species would have been a bit much for the 42-foot snake to handle,” said lead author Alex Hastings, a graduate student at the Florida Museum of Natural History and UF’s department of geological sciences.

The new species is a dyrosaurid, commonly believed to be primarily ocean-dwelling, coastal reptiles. The new adult specimens challenge previous theories the animals only would have entered freshwater environments as babies before returning to sea.

Fossils of a partial skeleton of the species, Acherontisuchus guajiraensis, show dyrosaurids were key players in northeastern Colombia and that diversity within the family evolved with environmental changes, such as an asteroid impact or the appearance of competitors from other groups, said Christopher Brochu, an associate professor of vertebrate paleontology in the department of geoscience at the University of Iowa, who was not involved in the study.

“We’re facing some serious ecological changes now,” Brochu said. “A lot of them have to do with climate and if we want to understand how living things are going to respond to changes in climate, we need to understand how they responded in the past. This really is a wonderful group for that because they managed to survive some catastrophes, but they seemed not to survive others and their diversity does seem to change along with these ecological signals.”

The species is the second ancient crocodyliform found in the Cerrejon mine of northern Colombia, one of the world’s largest open-pit coal mines. The excavations were led by study co-authors Jonathan Bloch, Florida Museum associate curator of vertebrate paleontology, and paleobotanist Carlos Jaramillo of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

“This one is related to a group that typically had these long snouts” Hastings said. “It would have had a relatively similar diet to the other (coastal) species, but surprisingly it lived in a more freshwater environment.”

The genus is named for the river Acheron from Greek mythology, “the river of woe,” since the animal lived in a wide river that emptied into the Caribbean. Unlike the first crocodile relative found in the area, which had a more generalized diet, the snout of the new species was long, narrow and full of pointed teeth, showing a specialization for hunting the lungfish and relatives of bonefish that inhabited the water.

“The general common wisdom was that ancestrally all crocodyliforms looked like a modern alligator, that all of these strange forms descended from a more generalized ancestor, but these guys are showing that sometimes one kind of specialized animal evolved from a very different specialized animal, not a generalized one,” Brochu said. “It’s really showing us a level of complexity to the history that 10 years ago was not anticipated.”

During the Paleocene in South America, the environment was dominated by reptiles, including giant snakes, turtles and crocodiles. The dyrosaurid family originated in Africa about 75 million years ago, toward the end of the age of dinosaurs, and arrived in South America by swimming across the Atlantic Ocean.

“The same thing that snuffed out the dinosaurs killed off most of the crocodiles alive at the time,” Hastings said. “The dyrosaurids are one of the few groups to survive the extinction and later become more successful.”

See also here. And here. And here.

September 2011: Startling new research has uncovered evidence suggesting crocodiles swam across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa in order to establish the species in the Americas: here.

A fossil crocodile snout juts from the bottom of a freshwater cave—one of many incredibly well-preserved fossils recently discovered in the Dominican Republic: here.

Can You Tell The Difference Between A Crocodile And An Alligator? Here.

Bahraini, Saudi dictatorships continue oppression


This video is called Bahraini doctors, nurses charged for helping injured.

Bahrain Forces Fire Tear Gas at Protesters, Ignoring Popular Demands for Rights: here.

From the Voice of Russia today, about Sitra in Bahrain:

It was also reported that one demonstrator was killed.

From Gulf Daily News:

Bahraini freed from Saudi jail

By Sandeep Singh Grewal, Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2011

A BAHRAINI held in custody without trial in Saudi Arabia for nearly three weeks was released yesterday.

Mohammed Jaffar Janahi, a member of the National Unity Assembly (NUA), was arrested by border authorities on August 27 while crossing the causeway to Saudi Arabia.

“We are glad that Mohammed is free and is back with his family in Bahrain,” said NUA member Abdulla Hashim.

He said Mr Janahi was released following the intervention of NUA president Dr Shaikh Abdullatif Al Mahmood.

Mr Hashim said the NUA head personally took up the case with top officials in the Bahrain government.

“He was arrested by Saudi authorities despite showing them documents from the Saudi Embassy that his name was removed from the blacklist,” he said.

Mr Hashim, who heads the legal team, along with Dr Al Mahmood later in the evening met Mr Janahi at his residence in Hajeyat.

There were joined by friends and relatives gathered to meet Mr Janahi.

At the time of his arrest, Mr Janahi was travelling with his business colleague Ahmed Abdulla when they were stopped at a Saudi checkpoint.

Mr Abdulla then said Saudi police interrogated Mr Janahi for 30 minutes and later said there was an order for his arrest.

Earlier this year, Mr Janahi told the GDN that he was involved in a bad car accident, which required regular physiotherapy and treatment.

Mr Janahi was a prominent human rights activist and headed a committee called Ansar Akhak (support your brother) where he fought for human rights and the freedom of other Bahraini detainees in Saudi Arabia.

They include Abdulraheem Al Murbati, Abdulla Majeed Al Nuaimi and Hassan Yabis, who are still being held in Saudi without trial.

Mr Al Murbati has been detained in Saudi prison since June 2003 for alleged terror links.

His brother Isa was one of six Bahrainis detained at Guantanamo Bay and was released in August 2007 after almost six years in custody.

Mr Al Nuaimi, a former Bay inmate, was detained at Saudi checkpoint on King Fahad Causeway in October 2008 and Yabis was arrested at a Saudi check-point in August 2008.

Bahrain: Governement says Jawad Ahmed died due to sickle cell. Brother says it was due to tear gas fired by police: here.

Britain: A theory has emerged as to just how the personal website of controversial bus millionaire Brian Souter came to be stuffed deep into Google’s closet of invisibility. It appears that the (probably inadvertent) culprits may have been a group of Bahraini freedom fighters: here.

THE SAUDI royal family is afraid. Very, very afraid. A crisis of leadership is brewing: here.