Chilean singer Jara’s murderers arrested


This music video says about itself:

VÍCTOR JARA – Vientos del pueblo

Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈbiktor ˈliðjo ˈxaɾa marˈtines]) (September 28, 1932 — September 16, 1973) was a Chilean teacher, theatre director, poet, singer-songwriter, political activist and member of the Communist Party of Chile.

A distinguished theatre director, he devoted himself to the development of Chilean theatre, directing a broad array of works from locally produced Chilean plays, to the classics of the world stage, to the experimental work of Ann Jellicoe. Simultaneously he developed in the field of music and played a pivotal role among neo-folkloric artists who established the Nueva Canción Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement which led to a revolution in the popular music of his country under the Salvador Allende government.

Shortly after the Chilean coup of 11 September 1973, he was arrested, tortured and ultimately shot to death with 44 bullet shots by machine gun fire. His body was later thrown out into the street of a shanty town in Santiago. The contrast between the themes of his songs, on love, peace and social justice and the brutal way in which he was murdered transformed Jara into a symbol of struggle for human rights and justice across Latin America.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Chile arrests suspects over Jara killing in ’73

Thursday 03 January 2013

by Our Foreign Desk

Victor Jara‘s widow has welcomed the “message of hope” brought by charges against eight ex-military officers for suspected involvement in killing her husband during Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup.

Joan Turner-Jara called on the United States to extradite one of them, Pedro Barrientos Nunez, who lives in Florida.

Progressive folk singer Mr Jara, a member of the Communist Party of Chile, was rounded up with other figures thought likely to resist Pinochet’s brutal US-backed dictatorship on September 16 1973.

He was taken to the Chile Stadium – now the Victor Jara stadium – and tortured, with officers breaking the bones in his hands before demanding he play the guitar.

He died after being shot 44 times.

Judge Miguel Vazquez issued charges last week against eight men believed to be involved. Mr Barrientos, along with Hugo Sanchez Marmonti, has been charged with murder and the other six are accused of being accomplices to the crime.

The defendants all deny their guilt.

Speaking to supporters in the stadium alongside her two daughters, British-born Ms Turner-Jara urged Chile’s Supreme Court to formally request Mr Barrientos’s extradition from the US as advised by Mr Vazquez.

She said the case could not only solve her husband’s murder but would provide hope for many other families. Hardly any of the 1973-90 dictatorship’s thousands of victims’ deaths have been conclusively investigated.

Mr Vazquez said former military officers were still unwilling to speak to investigators, making prosecutions difficult.

The Jara family’s lawyer Nelson Caucoto said the Chilean military still denies having any information about which officers were assigned to the stadium in September 1973.

Most information has come from surviving prisoners or conscripts.

Mr Barrientos and one of the alleged accomplices, Edwin Dimter, have both previously been accused of being “the prince,” an as yet unidentified officer remembered by Pinochet victims incarcerated in the stadium for whipping and torturing prisoners.

Sunfish beaches on Dutch island


Sunfish on Ameland beach, photo © Petra de Jong

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Sunfish on Ameland beach – 01/03/13

A huge ocean sunfish 1.55 meters long and 1.22 meters high! Hikers found the big fish last Tuesday on the beach of Ameland. It is a remarkable find. It does not happen every year that ocean sunfish are seen along our coast, yet this is the fourth individual in a few weeks’ time. In addition, this one was pretty big. Usually people see smaller specimens. The largest one ever in the Netherlands beached also on Ameland. That was in 1889. That animal was 2.73 meters long.

Several finds

On Texel in December two dead sunfish were found on one day, one on the North Sea beach, the other one along the Wadden Sea. They were two relatively small fish of 60 and 80 centimeter. A few days later a third sunfish washed up on the beach of Domburg in Zeeland. This one was 1.13 meters long.

Yesterday, a squid beached on Ameland as well; photo here.

Medieval Afghan Jewish discovery


This video is called Evidence of ancient Afghan Jews: Israel showcases Hebrew scrolls.

From Associated Press:

Israeli library unveils ancient Afghan manuscripts

Published: January 3, 2013

By ARON HELLER — Associated Press

JERUSALEM — A trove of ancient manuscripts in Hebrew characters rescued from caves in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan is providing the first physical evidence of a Jewish community that thrived there a thousand years ago.

On Thursday Israel‘s National Library unveiled the cache of recently purchased documents that run the gamut of life experiences, including biblical commentaries, personal letters and financial records.

Researchers say the “Afghan Genizah” marks the greatest such archive found since the “Cairo Genizah” was discovered in an Egyptian synagogue more than 100 years ago, a vast depository of medieval manuscripts considered to be among the most valuable collections of historical documents ever found.

Genizah, a Hebrew term that loosely translates as “storage,” refers to a storeroom adjacent to a synagogue or Jewish cemetery where Hebrew-language books and papers are kept. Under Jewish law, it is forbidden to throw away writings containing the formal names of God, so they are either buried or stashed away.

The Afghan collection gives an unprecedented look into the lives of Jews in ancient Persia in the 11th century. The paper manuscripts, preserved over the centuries by the dry, shady conditions of the caves, include writings in Hebrew, Aramaic, Judea-Arabic

sic; Judeo-Arabic

and the unique Judeo-Persian language from that era, which was written in Hebrew letters.

“It was the Yiddish of Persian Jews,” said Haggai Ben-Shammai, the library’s academic director.

Holding the documents, protected by a laminated sheath, Ben-Shammai said they included mentions of distinctly Jewish names and evidence of their commercial activities along the “Silk road” connecting Europe and the East. The obscure Judeo-Persian language, along with carbon dating technology, helped verify the authenticity of the collection, he said.

“We’ve had many historical sources on Jewish settlements in that area,” he said. “This is the first time that we have a large collection of manuscripts that represents the culture of the Jews that lived there. Until today we had nothing of this.”

The documents are believed to have come from caves in the northeast region of modern-day Afghanistan, once at the outer reaches of the Persian empire. In recent years, the same caves have served as hideouts for Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

It remains unclear how the ancient manuscripts emerged. Ben-Shammai said the library was contacted by various antiquities dealers who got their hands on them.

Last month, the library purchased 29 out of hundreds of the documents believed to be floating around the world, after long negotiations with antiquities dealers. The library refused to say how much it paid for the collection, adding that it hoped to purchase more in the future and didn’t want to drive up prices. The documents arrived in Israel last week.

Comparisons with the other find are inevitable.

The Cairo Genizah was discovered in the late 1800s in Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagogue, built in the ninth century. It included thousands of documents Jews stored there for more than 1,000 years.

Ben-Shammai said it was too early to compare the two, and it would take a long time to sift through the findings from Afghanistan. He said they were already significant since no other Hebrew writings had even been found so far from the Holy Land.

He said the Jewish community in the region at the time lived largely like others in the Muslim world, as a “tolerated minority” that was treated better than under Christian rule. Afghanistan’s Jewish community numbered as many as 40,000 in the late 19th century, after Persian Jews fled forced conversion.

By the mid-20th century, only about 5,000 remained, and most emigrated after Israel’s creation in 1948. A lone Jewish man remains in Afghanistan, while 25,000 Jews live in neighboring Iran – Israel’s bitter enemy.

The library promises the finds will be digitized and uploaded to its website for all to see.

Aviad Stollman, curator of the library’s Judaica collection, said much more would be gleaned after intense research on the papers, but already it tells a story of a previously little known community.

“First we can verify that they actually existed – that is the most important point,” he said. “And of course their interests. They were not interested only in commerce and liturgy; they were interested also in the Talmud and the Bible,” he said.

“They were Jews living a thousand years ago in this place. I think that is the most exciting part.”

See also here. And here.

Which blog posts get most comments?


Internet cartoon

Which blog posts get most comments here, on Dear Kitty. Some Blog?

Blog of the Year 2012 award, thanks dogdaz! 98
Blog of the Year 2012 award, thanks Russell! 49
Great spotted woodpecker on the balcony 33
Blog of the Year 2012 award, thanks Miss Marzipan! 28
Reality Blog Award, thanks ‘R’HubBlog! 28
Very Inspiring Blogger award, thanks II 4S Aopmrdd! 27
Blog of the Year 2012 award, thanks waji! 27
South Asian bird news 27
British Thatcher aide accused of child abuse 27
Obama-Romney debate, what it omitted 26
Dutch stranded humpback whale update 25

Top 10 birds on the US internet


Which bird species are the most popular?

There are many public opinion polls on this. Eg, this one from Belgium.

Today, one from the About.com Internet site in the USA:

Top 10 Birds of 2012

Most Popular Wild Birds in 2012

By , About.com Guide

See More About:

Everyone has their favorite birds, and with nearly 10,000 bird species in the world, there are plenty of choices. With more than 210 bird species profiled here and more being added every week with a new featured bird, that is still a lot of birds to choose from, and these top species were the most researched and most popular during 2012.

How does a bird’s popularity change from year to year? News stories, rare sightings, conservation efforts and irruptions can all impact how well known a bird becomes, and you can check out the top bird lists from 2010 and 2011 to see which birds are still flying high. Is your favorite bird not part of these lists yet? Email me and request its profile or check out the complete collection of bird profiles, and your favorite bird species may be part of the 2013 list!

1. Mallard

Mallard
Smudge 9000

Not only is the mallard the most popular and familiar duck in the world, but it is also one of the most widespread with feral and domestic populations in urban areas as well as wild flocks on many waterways. The colorful male is distinctive, but the more camouflaged female is equally attractive, and no one can resist the charm of a flock of ducklings.

2. Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk Thumbnail
SearchNet Media

A large backyard hawk, the Cooper’s hawk is an unwelcome guest in many areas because it preys on smaller birds that might be more desired at feeders. These agile accipiters are efficient predators, however, with their long tails to steer through trees and their strong talons to dispatch their victims, even if they do leave a feathered mess for backyard birders to clean up.

3. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Dan Pancamo

This brilliant hummingbird is the most common hummingbird east of the Mississippi River and is the hummer with the most widespread range in North America. The male’s brilliant red gorget is a key field mark, and these tiny flying jewels are readily attracted to nectar-rich flower gardens and supplemental nectar feeders in spring and summer.

4. House Finch

House Finch
Nick Saunders

One of the most common backyard birds, the house finch is often confused for a sparrow because of its size and brown markings. The males have bright red, orange or yellow on the head, breast and rump, but the females are more subdued. These birds are highly social and often appear at backyard feeders in large, hungry flocks, where they favor sunflower seeds and mixed birdseed.

5. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Matt MacGillivray

The most common backyard woodpecker, the downy woodpecker is also the smallest. Its tiny, sparrow-like size and small nub of a bill are good field marks for identification, and males can be distinguished by their red napes, while females are just black and white. These active, perky woodpeckers will eagerly visit suet feeders and will take sunflower seeds.

6. House Sparrow

House Sparrow
Keith

Though often reviled as an invasive bird in many areas, the house sparrow is actually declining in its ancestral native range in the Middle East. Easily adaptable to living in urban and suburban areas, house sparrows are often the first birds that can be easily attracted and identified in areas where green spaces and diverse habitats are scarce.

7. Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl
Nick Saunders

One of the largest and most aggressive owls, the great horned owl is a solitary predator that stays in its range year-round and is found in a wide spectrum of habitats, from forests to marshes to agricultural areas. This nocturnal bird is named for its feathered horns but its broad facial disk is equally useful as a field mark for proper identification.

8. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawk
New Jersey Birds

Another common backyard hawk, the sharp-shinned hawk is smaller than its Cooper’s cousin, but it is equally deadly toward backyard birds and often preys on finches, sparrows and similar passerines. Many backyard birders, while they appreciate the efficiency of raptors, prefer to take steps to protect their other backyard birds from hawk attacks with additional shelter and camouflage.

9. Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird
Linda Tanner

One of the most widespread western hummingbirds, the Anna’s hummingbird is one of very few hummingbird species to stay in the United States year-round, but the temperate climate along the Pacific Coast permits this bird to stay in flower gardens all year long. They are familiar in backyards as well and will eagerly visit hummingbird feeders for a quick sip.

10. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove
Robert Taylor

One of the most widespread doves, the mourning dove’s soft cooing is familiar to many backyard birders, as is its soft plumage and long, tapered tail. These birds have a distinctive whistling flight and will readily visit large feeders and ground feeding areas for spilled seed. The chicks, with their buff-edged feathers, can also be charming and welcome visitors at feeders.

British inland seals


This video is called A Seal at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, Cambridgeshire. HD Video.

From Wildlife Extra:

Inland seals

Seals reported in Cambridgeshire and Worcester

January 2013. The extreme wet weather has had many effects on wildlife, none stranger than the inland seal phenomenon. The news that a seal has been spotted swimming around Fen Drayton Lakes in Cambridgeshire, some 50 miles from the sea, has made many headlines across the UK. It is believed the seal had swum up the Great Ouse River. The seal was spotted by a man who thought it was a dog struggling to escape floodwaters before he realised it was a seal.

Inland seals

However it isn’t a unique sighting. Seals are occasionally reported inland, usually in large rivers, but not always. Here are a few more inland seal sightings.

Just last November, a common seal was spotted swimming in the River Severn at Worcester, some 75 miles from the sea. The seal was spotted several times over the space of a few weeks.
A seal has been spotted several times at Fremington, in North Devon, some 8 miles from the sea.
One of the strangest inland seal sightings happened in 2006, near the village of Capernwray in Lancashire. Although only 5 miles from the sea, the male common seal pup was found on a small rural lane, not in any body of water.
Seals are occasionally seen in the Great Ouse, but not normally as far as inland as the seal above.
Seals are becoming more common in the Thames River in London, with one sighting as far up river as Richmond Lock.

Inland seal in Drenthe, the Netherlands: here.