Bahrain oppression continues


This video is called Maryam Al-Khawaja: ‘double standards’ towards human rights in Bahrain.

Paris-Geneva, February 12, 2013. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), publishes today a report, which presents findings of a judicial observation mission conducted on the trial in appeal of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. The report concludes that a series of violations of the right to fair trial marred the judicial process and that Mr. Nabeel Rajab is suffering judicial harassment for merely advocating for and exercising the right to peaceful assembly in Bahrain: here.

Washington, DC – Human Rights First urges the Bahrain government to mark Thursday’s two-year anniversary of the country’s prodemocracy uprising by allowing peaceful protests. In addition, Human Rights First calls on the Bahrain government to release political prisoners, end the use of excessive force by its police, and hold its officials accountable for torture and killings: here.

Sudanese dictator welcomed by Libya, Chad regimes


This is a video about racist lynching of Libyans under the new regime because of the colour of their skins. It is called LIBYA Analysis: The Racist Lie Of “Black African mercenaries” led To Brutality, Lynching, Death.

In the ‘new’ post-NATO war Libya, Libyans, African migrant workers and almost everybody else, including United States ambassadors, have to fear for their lives. The new rulers of Libya are allies of the NATO governments.

So is the dictator of Chad, Idriss Deby. He is a long time favourite of French governments, already under Sarkozy, predecessor of the present president Hollande.

From the Sudan Tribune:

Sudan: Bashir to Visit Chad, Libya Despite ICC Warrant

11 February 2013

Khartoum — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will travel to Chad and Libya this weekend to attend two events, a government sponsored website reported today.

The state-linked Sudanese Media Center (SMC) quoting press sources said that Chadian president Idriss Deby invited Bashir to the Community of Sahel-Saharan (CEN-SAD) summit during his stop in Khartoum last week.

Chad is a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has issued two arrest warrants for Bashir on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Sudan‘s western region of Darfur.

The ten-year Darfur conflict in western Sudan, on the border with Chad, has claimed 300,000 lives according to the United Nations. The Khartoum government puts the toll at 10,000.

Bashir’s previous visits to Chad in 2010 and 2011 were strongly criticized by the European Union and human rights groups in light of Ndjamena’s refusal to arrest Bashir.

During Chad’s thorny relations with Sudan, president Deby vowed to execute the arrest warrant against Bashir and rejected AU resolutions granting him immunity. However, as relations improved Deby reversed his position.

The AU summit that took place in Addis Ababa last month omitted the usual mention of urging its members to ignore ICC warrant against Bashir. A source told Sudan Tribune that African diplomats did not believe this was a pressing issue warranting discussion this time around.

SMC said that Bashir may head to Libya afterwards to attend the celebrations commemorating the outbreak of the revolution that toppled the regime of late leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The website noted that Bashir was invited by the Libyan leadership to attend but said that tensions in the North African country may not allow for the celebration to take place.

Ironically, Bashir was one of the very few leaders in 2009 who attended Gaddafi’s celebration of the coup which brought him to power forty years ago.

Following Gaddafi’s fall and demise in 2011 Bashir lashed out at Libya’s strongman saying that he was causing harm to Sudan through the years and revealed that Sudan provided support to rebels who launched a military campaign to unseat him.

Libya is not a member of the ICC and therefore has no obligation to detain Bashir. But it was the National Transitional Council (NTC), which took control of the country, that asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2011 to refer the situation in Libya to the Hague tribunal in order to investigate possible crimes committed following the uprising against Gaddafi.

This would mark Bashir’s second visit to Libya since Gaddafi’s removal.

THERE are many players in a protest — the sign makers, the rabble rousers, the logisticians. And then there are the political cartoonists, who sketch the events unfolding on the streets and, if they are like [Sudanese] Khalid Albaih, inspire even more tumult: here.

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda accused the United Nations on Wednesday of prolonging the conflict in Darfur by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes: here.

International Great Backyard Bird Count, 15-18 February


This video from the USA is called The Great Backyard Bird Count 2013.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

You’re Invited to the Great Backyard Bird Count

Please consider taking part in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) February 15-18. The count is being integrated with the eBird online checklist system—which means that the count will be global for the first time. Anyone, anywhere, with Internet access can take part in the count. [If] you already participate in NestWatch, then you will not need to create a new account for the GBBC. If you’re watching birds that weekend, simply enter your checklists at www.birdcount.org. You’ll be prompted to enter your existing login information.

Participating is easy. Simply watch birds for at least 15 minutes at the location(s) of your choice on one or more of the count days. Estimate the number of birds you see for each species you can identify. You’ll select your location on a map, answer a few questions, enter your tallies, and then submit your data to share your sightings with others around the world.

Please consider participating in this free, fun, late-winter bird count!

Thank you for your contributions to science and the birds!

Jason Martin, Project Leader

Robyn Bailey, NestWatch Assistant

See also here.

Horse meat scandal update


This video is called Following the trail of the horse meat scandal.

By Barry Mason in Britain:

UK horsemeat scandal spreads to Europe

12 February 2013

UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson convened an emergency meeting on February 9 at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) over the discovery of horsemeat in processed foods labelled as containing beef.

In January, millions of beef burgers were withdrawn from sale in Tesco supermarkets after the discovery they contained horsemeat. This has been followed by discovery of horsemeat in processed meat products such as beef lasagne produced by Findus.

Findus was made aware of possible contamination of its products on January 29, but only withdrew the products on February 7 after informing the Food Standards Agency (FSA). After testing 18 of its beef lasagne products, 11 were found to contain horsemeat ranging in content from 60 percent to 100 percent. According to Labour MP Tom Watson, Findus were warned of possible problems by one of its suppliers last August, but this is denied by Findus. The Aldi supermarket chain has also withdrawn processed beef products.

The emergency meeting called by Paterson was attended by the big four supermarkets—Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons—retail bodies and leading food producers.

It has taken weeks for Paterson and the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government to respond to the scandal. The level of indifference was shown by Paterson’s remark that he would be quite happy to let his family eat one of the processed lasagne meals.

His comments echoed the statement of Conservative Agricultural Minister John Gummer at the time of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in cattle in May 1990. Gummer publicly fed his four-year old daughter Cordelia a hamburger in the midst of the “mad cow disease” crisis, just days after the government had banned beef offal for human consumption. It was later proven that BSE was responsible for the development of new variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (nvCJD) in humans, a degenerative neurological disorder whose source was infected beef and its derivatives.

Gummer’s stunt was part of repeated government denials that BSE posed any risk to the human population. As of January 2012, an estimated 176 people in the UK had died from nvCJD. The exact number is unknown due to uncertainty as to its incubation time.

Following the emergency meeting, Paterson warned it was likely that more cases of food adulteration will come to light. He has ordered 28 unnamed local authorities to carry out tests and report the results to his department by the weekend. He concedes the contamination is unlikely to be accidental and may be the result of an “international criminal conspiracy.” The police have met with the FSA, but as yet have not launched an investigation.

The scandal has spread to France with Findus France recalling products. An European Union-wide health alert has been issued.

The Observer reported on February 10 that it had been informed by experts there “is evidence that both Polish and Italian mafia gangs are running multi-million-pound scams to substitute horse meat for beef during food production. There are claims that vets and other officials are intimidated into signing off meat as beef when it is in fact cheaper alternatives such as pork or horse… Some of the meat that went into Ireland came from suppliers in Poland, which exports around 25,000 horses for slaughter each year. Industry sources also suggested to the Observer that gangs operating in Russia and the Baltic states were playing a role in the fraudulent meat trade.”

Food production is one of Britain’s major manufacturing sectors, worth around £75 billion, and, like many other industries, is reliant on European and world-wide supply chains. The burgers containing horsemeat that had to be withdrawn from Tesco and Burger King among others were supplied by UK-based Silvercrest, who in turn had been supplied by the Irish-based McAdam Foods. McAdam Foods were supplied by the Hull-based Flexi Foods, who in turn had sourced the raw meat from two Polish companies.

Findus and Aldi had been supplied meat from the French company Comigel, which sources some of its meat from Romania. While eating horsemeat in itself is not harmful to human health, there are concerns over the sources of horsemeat going into the human food chain. A drug used in the treatment of horses, phenylbutazone or “bute”, if present in horse carcasses entering the human food chain could induce a serious blood disorder known as aplastic anaemia. Bute was proscribed as a drug for humans because of such reactions.

In addition, there are restrictions in the export of horsemeat from Romania because of an endemic viral disease, equine infectious anaemia. Also known as Horse AIDS, its presence in the Romanian horse population led to the banning of the live export of horses three years ago. Experts say the disease does not pose a danger to humans, but its presence could indicate other health problems.

The scandal is the result of the drive to cut costs and drive up profits by multi-billion pound corporations. As a result, Britain and other countries are increasingly seeing scandals involving food adulteration previously associated with the 18th century.

The Financial Times reported, “The drive for ever cheaper food has put stresses on a food chain that has become more global, complex and stretched. Karel Williams of Manchester Business School dubbed it a ‘normal accident’—the inevitable result of distressed processors ‘constantly ringing around to get the cheapest deal this week’ and an international trade in animal parts.”

Findus Foods was acquired by private equity company Lion Capital, whose 44-year old multi-millionaire head, Lyndon Lea, has made a fortune buying up firms such as Weetabix, which he then sold to China.

In the statement following Saturday’s meeting, Paterson stressed it was the retailers, i.e., the major supermarkets, that had ultimate responsibility for what is in products they sell, opening up the prospect of them self-policing their activities. He said the supermarkets had agreed to report their results to the FSA every three months.

The FSA was set up by the last Labour government in response to the BSE crisis. Its ability to police the food production process has been undermined by government spending cuts. The number of meat inspectors now employed by the FSA is now around 800—less than half the number employed at its inception.

The presence of horsemeat in food meant for human consumption in the UK was only discovered following testing by the Irish government food agency. The FSA does not routinely test for the provenance of meat, instead responding on an “intelligence-led” basis. The last time such testing was done was in 2003 when equine DNA was found in imported salami.

While it would appear that horsemeat entering the UK food chain did so as a result of imports, the danger of it originating from British abattoirs can only increase due to government proposals to relax inspections. Currently they are inspected by FSA officials, but under the proposals inspection would be by abattoir owners. Moreover, while efforts have been made to rubbish any danger from horsemeat, the real question is: if horsemeat is being routinely passed off as beef, what other substances are finding their way into the human food chain?

Britain: The Tories continue to export meat that could contain a harmful horse drug, writes Sadie Robinson: here.

British Minister David Heath said that he can’t rule out the possibility that horsemeat is being served in schools and hospitals: here.

Dutch fish ladder for sticklebacks


This video from Finland says about itself:

Three-spined stickleback and fry (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

July 19, 2010

The male stickleback guards something. I think there was a nest somewhere. Though he may protect his fry. Video was written at the Gulf of Finland in July.

Translated from Dutch wildlife ranger ; his blog post on fish ladders:

Fish ladders for sticklebacks

Posted on February 12, 2013

For salmon and trout they existed already, fish ladders to pass dams. Threespine sticklebacks need ladders with much smaller steps. Almost 20 years ago, Forestry Texel thought about this. Through these fishways threespine sticklebacks can swim from the Wadden Sea into the Moksloot to lay their eggs in the fresh water of the Dunes of Texel. A marine threespine stickleback is twice as long and five times as heavy as a stickleback which has always lived in fresh water. Large fish lay more eggs, and are also better food for birds like spoonbills.

See also here.

Moksloot history: here.

Italian weapons tycoon’s Indian corruption scandal


This 23 october 2012 video says about itself:

Finmeccanica advisor wanted for corruption

Former Finmeccanica manager, Paolo Pozzessere, has been arrested for alleged international corruption. He is wanted in connection with supply contracts to Panama and Brazil which is part of a broader investigation into Europe’s third largest defence group. Former Industry Minister Claudio Scajola [originally in the Christian Democrat party, later in Berlusconi’s party] is also being investigated.

British anti-arms trade activists recently scored a victory against Italian merchants of death corporation Finmeccanica. They managed to drive that firm out of the National Gallery in London, which Finmeccanica abused for selling weapons to Middle East dictatorships and others.

Finmeccanica is linked to the business empire of Silvio Berlusconi.

This video, from television in India, says about itself:

Italian CEO arrested in chopper scam

Feb 12, 2013

Another scam has hit the defence deals in India. Now, the VIP chopper deal of 14 helicopters purchased from Italy’s biggest firm Finmeccanica has come under the scanner. The chief executive of the firm Giuseppe Orsi has been arrested on corruption charges.

Today, from the BBC:

12 February 2013 Last updated at 11:38 GMT

Finmeccanica’s Giuseppe Orsi held on corruption charges

Finmeccanica is Italy‘s biggest aerospace and defence group

The chief executive of Italian aerospace and defence firm Finmeccanica has been arrested on corruption charges.

Giuseppe Orsi has been under investigation for bribery and embezzlement for several months. He has always denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors allege he paid bribes to ensure the sale of 12 helicopters to the Indian government.

Finmeccanica shares slumped in Milan after initially being suspended.

They fell more than 9% to 4.236 euros.

In a statement, Finmeccanica expressed solidarity with Mr Orsi and said: “Finmeccanica confirms that management activity and the initiatives it has undertaken are continuing in an orderly fashion.”

Italy‘s Prime Minister, Mario Monti, said in an interview with Italian television: “Magistrates will do their work. I’m sure they will do it thoroughly and in the best way possible.”

He added: “There is a problem with the governance of Finmeccanica at the moment and we will face up to it.”

Maybe pro-capitalist Monti was so relatively critical of Finmeccanica capitalists because of the Finmeccanica-Berlusconi connection. Berlusconi is now Monti’s rival in the elections.

Arrest warrants have been issued for two people living in Switzerland. The head of Finmeccanica’s AgustaWestland business, Bruno Spagnolini, was also placed under house arrest.

India’s foreign ministry said it had not been informed of the raid.

“We had asked the government of Italy through our mission in Rome for details of the investigation, but were told that it is a judicial process and the government of Italy is unable to share any information,” said foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

An Indian defence ministry spokesman was later quoted by the AFP news agency as saying the country had now ordered its own investigation.

For Italy, it is the latest in a string of corporate scandals – including risky trades at the bank Monti Paschi di Siena and allegations of bribery at the oil services group Saipem.

Mr Orsi was in the process of overhauling Finmeccanica to try to make the company profitable again. The Italian government owns about 30% of the company.

India’s Defence Ministry said today that it has put a €560 million (£483m) contract to purchase helicopters from Italian company Finmeccanica on hold amid allegations that bribes were paid to obtain it: here.

Scandal surrounding the sale of 36 French fighter jets to India: here.

American cardinal news


From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

NestWatch eNewsletter

February 2013

A pair of Northern Cardinals in snow

Female cardinals love a dapper fellow in red. Photo by A Wing and a Prayer via Birdshare.

The Redder the Better

In many areas of the eastern United States, handsome Northern Cardinals are already singing to attract mates. A bird so visible in the winter landscape begs the question, “How does a flame-red bird that often nests close to the ground manage to be common in the eastern United States?” We are often asked how this conspicuous species has been so successful, despite its low rate of nesting success. Typically, less than 40% of nests fledge at least one young.

The answer may lie in their long breeding season. Cardinals do not migrate and often begin the nest-building process as early as late February. They can continue nesting into late August in some areas, which affords opportunities to nest multiple times. Another factor could be that cardinals are habitat generalists. They can nest in open woodlands, dry shrubby areas, or even the suburbs. Their nests are placed in live trees, shrubs, or vine tangles, anywhere from 1–15′ high. A recent study in Texas* revealed that cardinal nest sites were not particularly different from random sites, suggesting that they may not be limited by suitable nesting locations. However, there seem to be benefits from nesting higher up and later in the breeding season, both of which probably thwart some potential predators. Cardinals also tend to nest in the denser parts of trees or shrubs, which may provide some vegetation cover.

But how is it adaptive for the males to be such colorful and obvious songsters? The flamboyant males sing from high perches and do not trade their breeding plumes for a drab winter coat. According to research compiled in The Birds of North America Online, brighter males have higher reproductive success and better territories, and plumage brightness is positively associated with parental care. The intensity of the cardinal’s red coloring is related to its diet, and bright coloration is a signal to females that the male probably holds a good territory (although this is not necessarily true for urban areas). The females, through a process called sexual selection, have selected for this bright coloring in the males. And because the female’s colors are muted, they provide her with a protective camouflage that the male lacks. This also aids in nest concealment when she is incubating. Furthermore, juvenile and adult cardinals tend to have high survival rates, possibly because they don’t endure the stress of migration.

Against all odds, the Northern Cardinal is marvelously adapted to its environs. So the question is not “Why are they so successful?” but rather, “Why wouldn’t they be?” If you are lucky enough to find a cardinal nest this year, won’t you help us learn more about this fascinating species by monitoring it with NestWatch?

*Sperry, J. H., D. G. Barron, and P. J. Weatherhead. 2012. Snake behavior and seasonal variation in nest survival of northern cardinals Cardinalis cardinalis. Journal of Avian Biology, 43: 496–502.

War in Mali and German militarism


French soldier in Mali with skull mask

This photo of a French Foreign Legion soldier, part of the invasion of Mali, shows the real face of that war.

That war is not “against Al Qaeda terrorism” (supported by the French government in Libya, and still in Syria). It is not for women’s rights, human rights or secularism.

It is in support of a military dictatorship.

It brings death, mainly to Malian civilians.

This war is a neo-colonial war.

By Wolfgang Weber in Germany:

The role of Germany in the war in Mali

12 February 2013

A month ago, French soldiers, tanks and fighter jets invaded the West African country of Mali. Since then, Germany has been expanding its involvement in the colonial war from week to week.

The government in Berlin immediately declared its unconditional support for the French invasion, providing two Transall transport aircraft to carry troops, arms and ammunition of the West African Economic Union (ECOWAS) to the war zone. In the meantime, Berlin has provided an additional transporter; and the Bundeswehr (Armed Forces) has rapidly built up a support base in Dakar (Senegal). If is from here that the Transall craft operate, with a support force of 75 soldiers.

At the United Nations’ “donor conference” to finance the war, Berlin promised immediate payments of US$20 million towards a fund totalling US$456 million. This will serve to strengthen the Mali army and to finance the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).

As Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) told the Munich Security Conference last weekend, the Bundeswehr will contribute 40 engineers to the European Training Mission (EUTM Mali). These will train troops from Mali and ECOWAS to be able to conduct combat missions.

At a “troop providers’ conference for Mali” in Brussels on Tuesday last week, Berlin also announced the deployment of 40 army doctors and paramedics, as well as the delivery and operation of a field hospital.

The French government’s request for support by Bundeswehr tanker aircraft is already being prepared technically. Without air-to-air refuelling, French bombers and fighter jets would not be able to travel the extremely long distances from their bases in France or Africa to their missions in Mali.

Since the belligerent nature of these operations and the training of Malian soldiers cannot be denied, they must be approved by the Bundestag (federal parliament), which should happen retrospectively in early March.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle never tire of protesting that they are acting out of “solidarity with France” and for the “defence of the security of Europe against terrorists.” This is the same mendacious war propaganda with which the United States justified the war against Iraq.

Paris and Berlin say the aims of the war are the elimination of groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). These same organisations were funded and armed in Libya by the US, France, Britain and their allies in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to fight against Muammar Gaddafi.

In Syria, organisations like al-Nusra, which is close to Al Qaeda or works with it, are part of the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (NCSROF), which is recognised by the NATO powers and the Gulf countries as “the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people”, and is armed and financed by them to foment the overthrow of the Assad regime.

The war in Mali is a dirty colonial war. It is not a matter of a “war on terror”, but the military control of the Sahel in order to plunder its largely untapped natural resources in the long term.

The national bourgeois regimes that rule there are corrupt and hated. They have only been able to cling to power with the help of the French military in putting down uprisings. To this end, France maintains bases in its former colonies with naval units, tanks and fighter jets. In return, France, as well as other foreign mining companies and investors, are given access to cheap land, exploration rights and mining concessions.

France also used its military bases in neighbouring countries for the invasion of Mali. It is supported in the war over the Sahel by other imperialist powers. As with the war in Libya, Britain has immediately declared its support. As well as money and weapons, Prime Minister Cameron last week also promised the deployment of several hundred soldiers.

The US has announced the establishment of a permanent military base in Niger. As well as a 300-man elite squad, drones are being stationed there capable of carrying out surveillance and combat missions over the Sahel. A US drone base is also planned in Burkina Faso [near] southern Mali.

In just a few weeks, Mali and its neighbours have been transformed into a veritable military staging area for the imperialist powers and their local African allies. In addition to the 4,000 French soldiers deployed, the German Transall planes will transport around ECOWAS 7,000 soldiers. They will also be joined by hundreds of American, British and German troops.

Two years ago, France, Britain and the US initiated a new round of wars to subjugate the African continent to direct colonial rule with their aggression against Libya. At that time, the Berlin government had decided against open German participation. That was not out of a love of peace, but with regard to China and Russia, which were heavily involved in Libya with investments and trade agreements and which are significant trading partners for German business.

In addition, the Bundeswehr was ill prepared for such an extensive and prolonged military campaign. With troops in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and other war zones, its capacity for foreign missions was exhausted.

The Bundeswehr, reorganised and rearmed 10 years ago by the previous Social Democratic (SPD)-Green Party government into an effective fighting force for international operations, was in a crisis. The then-defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (Christian Social Union, CSU), had made more of a name for himself through high-profile media appearances than for actually reforming the structure of the Bundeswehr.

Guttenberg was finally forced to resign following a plagiarism scandal, and was replaced by Thomas de Maizière (CDU) in March 2011, just two weeks before the bombing of Libya by the US, Britain and France.

De Maizière is considered a quiet but effective organiser. He was also familiar with the Bundeswehr since childhood. His father, Ulrich de Maizière, a staff officer in Hitler’s army, had built up the modern Bundeswehr in the 1950s and 1960s as the army inspector and general inspector.

Thomas de Maizière drove forward the “reorientation of the Bundeswehr” with professional efficiency. This was implemented during 2012 at the level of the ministry and the supreme military command. In January of this year, work began on the third, operational level, in a variety of so-called command capabilities.

For example, on January 15, in time for the first mission in Mali, the new, high-tech Bundeswehr Central Logistics Command opened in Erfurt. Under its command, 15,000 Bundeswehr personnel organise the logistics of all worldwide operations—i.e., supplying military task forces, weapons, transportation, clothing and food.

Thus, two years after the war in Libya, Germany is from the start an “equal partner” with the other great powers in the colonial war in Mali.

In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, at the opening of the Munich Security Conference, de Maizière stressed the importance of this change. With more than 6,000 soldiers deployed abroad, Germany was making a significant contribution by European standards, he said. France has only 2,700 soldiers, and Britain 11,000, participating in multilateral missions, he said. “Our involvement began in 1992 with medical missions in Cambodia, but now it is clear that the Bundeswehr can fight too.”

In the same interview, de Maizière made clear that the Bundeswehr is not thinking of withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2014, and will stay there at least another 10 to 15 years. The mission will only be completed in its current form at the end of 2014. “We will then be present in a different way in Afghanistan”, he said, “so that the previous efforts were not in vain. That is, if they want sustainability.”

When asked whether such a policy can be implemented with domestic political support, he replied: “Yes, of course. But we will have to change the justification…. International missions must be…explained realistically and the reasons should not be too pathetic.”

In plain language, where the German government had argued in the 1990s and at the beginning of the Afghanistan mission that they were concerned with the “defence of human rights” and the “construction of wells, schools and hospitals”, in future, wars would have to be justified with reference to German interests and by openly declaring that they required great sacrifice and costs.

At present, combat missions in Mali are still being carried out and “legitimised” within existing alliances such as NATO, the UN or the EU. But German imperialism is already pursuing its own interests.

The chancellor made this clear when five days after the start of the French aggression in Mali, she received Alassane Ouattara, the president of the neighbouring state of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and agreed to a substantial increase in investment by German energy and agricultural companies in this country.

At the concluding press conference, she said, “It is often thought of in Germany that this is actually a French sphere of influence, and so we don’t need to get involved there. The president will use his visit to make clear in Germany that this is by no means the case, and that other countries also have good relations to Ivory Coast.”

One-hundred-ten years after the barbaric genocide of the Herero and Nama in German South West Africa by the Kaiser’s military, and 70 years after Rommel’s murderous African campaign in World War II, Germany is once again acting openly as a colonial power in the new “scramble for Africa”.

According to a survey by the Emnid polling institute on January 17, 60 percent of the German population clearly reject this policy. But it is supported all the more vehemently by all the parties in the Bundestag.

The SPD and Greens attack the ruling coalition from the right: Germany must be an even more comprehensive and active participant in the war in Mali!

Germany To Deploy Several Hundred Troops To Mali: here.

White redshank in Wales


This 2016 video is called Leucistic redshank at Isle of Sheppy by the bridge, Kent UK.

From Wildlife Extra:

Unusual redshank seen in North Wales

February 2013. One of our readers, Dennis Bannister, recently sent us this unusual looking redshank that he spotted in North Wales.

Leucism (or Leukism)

Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.

Albinism is a different condition. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism the eyes are usually pink or red, and albinism affects the entire animal, not just patches.

This occassionaly causes very excited biologists to think they have discovered a new species, when in fact leucism is the cause of the unusual markings they have seen.

This video is about normally coloured redshanks in Lancashire, England.

World Bank destroys rainforests


This video is called Wildlife of the Deep Congo Rain Forest.

From Wildlife Extra:

World Bank encouraging industrial scale logging

World Bank refuses to review its support for logging in tropical rainforests despite criticism from its own independent evaluators

February 2013. The World Bank Board of Directors has blocked a call by independent evaluators to review the outcomes of the Bank’s support for industrial-scale logging in tropical rainforests. The evaluators concluded in a report that such operations have not been effective in reducing poverty, the World Bank’s core mandate, or achieving sustainability. Despite these findings, the Board voted unanimously against a recommendation that the Bank review the effectiveness of its support for tropical forest logging.

“The very survival of tropical forests and the way of life of people who live in them is under threat, and the World Bank is in denial about its contribution to the problem,” said Rick Jacobsen of Global Witness. “As a public institution tasked with reducing poverty, the World Bank should take very seriously its own evaluators’ finding that its approach is not helping vulnerable forest communities. It’s time for the Bank to stop defending destructive logging practices in the name of development benefits that never materialize.”

Widespread logging of tropical rainforests

The Bank has been instrumental in putting into place policies in many tropical countries that result in widespread logging of tropical rainforests. Yet according to a growing body of evidence, industrial-scale logging contributes to tropical deforestation while doing little to improve the lives of forest-dependent communities and indigenous peoples. Corruption and lack of government oversight further aggravate the problem. In the countries of Africa’s Congo Basin, home to the world’s second largest rainforest next to the Amazon, law enforcement in the logging sector is ineffective and corruption and cronyism are widespread. Recent reports from a government-appointed independent observer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, found that many international logging companies are carrying out illegal activities.

DRC forests in danger

“After 10 years of World Bank-led reforms in the DRC, roughly 150,000 km2 of rainforest remain in the hands of poorly regulated international logging companies, while communities are once again being left behind,” said Susanne Breitkopf of Greenpeace International. The reform process in the DRC has been marred with irregularities and widely criticized; meanwhile, a law that would support community management of forests has been stalled for years, and the Bank is financing a forest zoning process that is likely to earmark huge areas of rainforest for industrial logging.

Forest dependent communities

While the Bank fiercely rejected the evaluators’ criticism of its support for industrial-scale logging in the tropics, it accepted seven other recommendations made in the report. Two of these focused on the need to provide more support for forest-dependent communities to allow them to directly manage their own forest resources. The Bank has not yet indicated how it plans to implement these recommendations. Breitkopf remains sceptical: “In order to reduce poverty and deforestation, the Bank needs to put land rights and community forest management at front and centre of its projects, rather than making them cosmetic add-ons.”