Brook lampreys’ mating season


This 4 April 2017 video shows the brook lampreysmating season.

Luuk Punt from the Netherlands made this video.

Partridge cleanses its feathers


This 4 April 2017 video shows a grey partridge cleansing its feathers near Middelburg in Zeeland province in the Netherlands.

Henk Huige made this video.

Big protest against French policeman killing Chinese man for preparing fish


This video from France says about itself:

30 March 2017

Members of the Parisian Chinese community held a vigil mourning the death of 56-year-old Liu Shaoyo, who was shot dead by police, Thursday. The vigil was followed by a peaceful protest.

By Alex Lantier in France:

Thousands protest police murder of Liu Shaoyo in Paris

4 April 2017

Around 8,000 people joined a protest held in Paris on Sunday by Asian organizations against the murder of Chinese immigrant Liu Shaoyo on March 26 by police. Protesters were also defying a reactionary media campaig, launched by French domestic intelligence services, insinuating that their opposition to the extra-judicial execution of the 56-year-old father of five children is simply a state operation launched by China.

A banner was stretched around the statue in the center of Republic Square, that read “Police killers, we want justice.” Protesters carried banners that read “Truth, justice, dignity” or “I love France.”

One youth, Chen Hui, told the press that he had come to the protest “so as not to be the next one to be killed by a policeman,” adding that he feared that the Asian community would now be a “target” of police violence.

Sacha Lin-Jung, one of the organizers of the protest who also leads the “Chinese Living in France” non-governmental organization (NGO), wrote on Twitter: “Police violence affects all French people. We are raising our voices today in order to fulfill our responsibilities.” He added that the goal of the demonstration was to “put pressure and support the family, to establish the truth and to struggle against police violence.”

The murder, coming only weeks after the police rape of Théo in the working class district of Aulnay-sous-Bois, points to the rapid rise of police brutality against people of all ethnic origins under France’s state of emergency.

According to Liu’s daughters, police battered down the door to their apartment in a popular neighborhood of Paris and, without warning, shot their father, who had scissors in his hands to cut up a fish he was cooking. They say Liu made no physical contact with police.

Police presented multiple versions of events, without ever explaining why they shot Liu. First, it claimed that he took his scissors and attacked one of the policemen, wounding him and forcing him to go to the hospital in a “relatively urgent state.” Then it declared that in fact, the policeman had not been wounded at all, and that his bullet-proof vest stopped Liu’s scissors. However, neither account explains why police would have had to shoot and kill Liu.

The incident compelled the Chinese government to publicly ask France to protect its citizens on French soil and to also “fully bring to light what happened in this matter.”

French domestic intelligence has reacted to the popular protests by launching a reactionary media campaign, seeking to discredit the Liu family’s supporters, and more broadly all the organizations in the Chinese community hostile to police violence—which it implies are agents either of Beijing or the Chinese mob.

On March 30, Le Parisien published an article summarizing a note of the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI). It reportedly alleges that the Chinese mob, including a “big fish” tied to prostitution and gambling, is trying to “infiltrate” the protests. It also claimed that “someone close to the Chinese Communist Party and a secret agent, both of whom have infiltrated the NGO movement in France,” were joining the protests because “Beijing is very nervous about the operations of mafia networks.”

At the same time, according to Le Parisien, the DGSI complained that protesters were rejecting all accusations that they were being manipulated by Beijing or the mob: “Indeed, the movement is gathering many young people, who are very militant, and who do not want to hear anything about Beijing’s influence or mafia groups.”

The next day, FranceInfo published extracts from another DGSI briefing which, this time, placed the blame squarely on “the Chinese authorities,” which it said are “actively implicated in leading the protests.” The passages cited from this note sought to whip up suspicion and hysteria against the protesters. It added that Chinese NGOs in France “are very directly manipulated by Chinese diplomatic and consular authorities” and “seem unusually mobilized.”

The Liu family’s lawyer, Calvin Job, rejected the intelligence services’ insinuations against the protesters, calling them “defamatory.”

“This is the response we see systematically whenever there is an issue of police violence,” Job noted. “Considering the recent cases, like that of Théo, when they began to really attract attention, then things came out about a supposed abusive use of public funds by the family of the young Théo. Today, they want to make us believe that, since the citizens of the Chinese community are not sufficiently mature to organize themselves and to protest the injustices they are suffering, they are necessarily being manipulated!”

These attempts to establish an amalgam between the Republic Square protest and the activities of spies and the mob is a sinister and absurd provocation, aiming essentially to de-legitimize and ultimately illegalize all opposition to police violence and the state of emergency in France.

An innocent man was murdered by police and people of all ethnic origins in cities and suburbs across France fear they could be next. By throwing accusations against one or another NGO, without presenting any proof but simply on the say-so of unidentified intelligence officials, the security forces are trying to discredit the legitimate anger of the thousands who have exercised their constitutionally-protected right to protest.

Class tensions are explosive in France and across Europe. Tens of millions of European workers are unemployed; the PS government is deeply unpopular after having crushed protests against its retrogressive labor law; and France has been under a semi-permanent state of emergency that has suspended basic democratic rights for a year and a half. However, according to France’s spies, social anger and opposition today are the fault of Chinese agents!

The security forces’ decision to present such arguments must be taken as a warning to working people. Aware of the social gulf separating the elite from the masses, they are preparing arguments that equate all protest with treason and would thus justify banning protests and any NGO or organization that they consider to be an obstacle. Ultimately it is a sign of the deep political crisis in France, and of the panic and isolation of the ruling class.

Save vultures of Bangladesh


This video says about itself:

A ‘Restaurant’ for Cambodia’s Endangered Vultures

16 June 2016

The Prey Siem Pang Lech Wildlife Sanctuary provides a safe home for vultures and other threatened Cambodian wildlife.

From BirdLife:

3 Apr 2017

One quarter of Bangladesh is safe from recently exposed vulture-killing drug

After successfully banning two drugs poisonous to vultures, Bangladesh is leading the way in Asian vulture conservation, and moving towards banning a third

By Shaun Hurrell

You may not remember how to pronounce it, but you quite possibly have heard of “diclofenac”, the vulture-killing drug which caused the most dramatic bird decline in modern history, wiping out over 99% of Asia’s vultures in the 1990s. If not, then after hearing that, you will surely not forget it. Day to day, concerned owners of livestock use non-sterroidal anti-inflammatories like diclofenac to alleviate pain in their animals. Unfortunately, once these animals die and are consumed by vultures, these drugs cause excruciating pain, kidney failure, and death to the birds.

All four of Asia’s resident vulture species have been listed as Critically Endangered since the diclofenac problem was exposed in the early 2000s (see below). Through the SAVE Partnership (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction), BirdLife and the RSPB (BirdLife UK) have been working to ban diclofenac in Asian countries and tackling other endangered vulture conservation issues, including creating protected “Vulture Safe Zones”. However, a suite of other replacement non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been exposed that pose lethal risk to vultures, such as “ketoprofen”.

Diclofenac was successfully banned in Bangladesh in 2010, and a further drug “aceclofenac” has similarly been outlawed. “Banning aceclofenac was another important step,” says Chris Bowden, Programme Manager of SAVE, and RSPB.

“It combated what can only be described as a ‘cynical exploitation of a loophole’ by drug companies, as aceclofenac is quickly converted to deadly diclofenac in a treated animal. This has been demonstrated experimentally and published by our SAVE research team.”

However ketoprofen quickly became the main replacement in Bangladesh—but this too has been shown to cause similar kidney failure and lingering death in vultures.

Thankfully, the Bangladesh government has now also declared a ban of ketoprofen in two Vulture Safe Zones—crucial areas for these birds which span 25% of the country. This includes the Bangladesh Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) has banned manufacturers of ketoprofen from selling, distributing, storing and exhibiting the drug in the Vulture Safe Zones. BirdLife applauds the Bangladesh government’s decision as this sets a great precedent for extending the ban to the entire country.

These decisions come as a cumulative result of two years of extensive groundwork done for vulture conservation in the country, and highlighted by SAVE.

“This is a crucial step which we hope will push vets and farmers to switch to using vulture-safe alternative drugs such as ‘meloxicam’,” says Bowden. “This is also an important precedent for the other South Asian countries to follow.”

In 2014, Bangladesh was the first government worldwide to approve the declaration of Vulture Safe Zones. Then, supported by IUCN Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Forest Department and Ministry of Environment & Forest, a team was trained to take extensive measures in the huge 100 km radius area to prevent vulture deaths, involving intensive advocacy and awareness work with vets, farmers, drug suppliers and all relevant authorities.

Other developments in Bangladeshi vulture conservation include the approval of a National Vulture Conservation Action Plan for the long term conservation of vulture species, and the construction of a new rescue centre in the north of the country.

However, Europe has not yet learnt from Asian mistakes, and in 2014 we learned that diclofenac was made available on the EU market, including Spain where 80% of European vultures live. This sparked our ongoing campaign to completely ban the use of veterinary diclofenac in Europe too, which you can support.

Unless you plan on having a “sky burial” (a 3,000-year old Parsi tradition with an uncertain future owing to lack of vultures), then these drugs should be safe for us humans to use; but make sure you don’t forget the names “diclofenac”, “aceclofenac” and “ketoprofen” (and others listed below) and help us spread the use of alternatives such as “meloxicam” amongst vets, farmers, drug stores and suppliers in Asia and Europe.

More information:

Towards a ketoprofen ban in Bangladesh (SAVE website)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Alert:

Vulture-toxic NSAIDs:

  • Diclofenac
  • Aceclofenac
  • Ketoprofen
  • Nimesulide
  • Flunixin
  • Carprofen
  • Phenylbutazone

Meloxicam remains the only known vulture-safe NSAID.

Asia’s Critically Endangered vultures

Indian Vulture Gyps indicus

Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris

Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus

White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis

The Clash’s first album, forty years ago


This video shows the Clash playing live in Munich, Germany in 1977.

By Mark Perryman in Britain:

Celebrating the politics of punk

Tuesday 4th April 2017

Next Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of The Clash’s debut album. MARK PERRYMAN reports on a notable event to mark it

FOR most people, the birth of punk happened on or around 1976 with the November release that year of the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK. Music and movement were catapulted into the “filth and fury” headlines via the band’s expletive-strewn Bill Grundy TV interview.

The Pistols and the rest were key to the detonation of a youthful mood of revolt alongside the not entirely dissimilar The Damned, Manchester’s Buzzcocks and the more trad-rock Stranglers. Giving the boy bands a run for their money, The Slits pushed perhaps hardest at punk’s musical boundaries, their Typical Girls track quite unlike what the others were recording.

But it was The Clash who more than anyone symbolised the punk and politics mix, showcased on their debut album The Clash, released 40 years ago on April 8, 1977.

Its 14 tracks, played at furious speed, were two-minute classics. Boredom with the US, hate, war, non-existent career opportunities and an angry demand for a riot of their own all featured. And there was an inspired cover version, backed by a pitch perfect reggae beat played slow, of Junior Murvin and Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Police and Thieves, with the lyrics almost spoken rather than sung.

The album cover shows the youthful threesome of Strummer, Jones and Simonon in their artfully stencilled shirts and jackets that were to become their signature stage wear uniform completed by the obligatory skinny jeans, white socks and black DMs.

The print quality is purposely poor to add a degree of authenticity that this band hardly needed. But it was the back cover, a scene from the 1976 Notting Hill carnival riots with the Met’s boys in blue, that’s the more telling. It shows them in hot pursuit of black youth who are retreating and regrouping under the Westway flyover in west London.

It was that reality in ’76 that inspired The Clash’s anthemic White Riot and the lines: “White riot! I wanna riot. White riot! A riot of my own!”’ At the time the National Front’s streetfighting racist army was laying waste wherever they marched. Their leaders John Tyndall and Martin Webster were pretty much household names and the NF was getting an indecently high enough number of votes to suggest an electoral breakthrough might be a possibility.

The potential for White Riot to be misinterpreted then — and now too — is obvious. But the band’s intent couldn’t be clearer.

Living and recording in and around the Westway, they embraced the changes the local community had undergone since the 1950s. Caribbean music, food and fashions were as much a part of who The Clash were as rock’n’roll, Sunday roast and safety pins.

It was a spirit of Black defiance that they sought to share, not oppose: “All the power is in the hands/Of people rich enough to buy it,/While we walk the streets/Too chicken to even try it./And everybody does what they’re told to/And everybody eats supermarket soul food!”

A year after the album’s release, The Clash headlined the first Rock against Racism carnival in London’s Victoria Park.

The dayglo politics of this musical culture of resistance fitted perfectly with the agitprop look and lyrics of the band, as it did with Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex’s punk feminism, Tom Robinson with his liberatory number Sing If You’re Glad to be Gay and Birmingham’s Steel Pulse’s Handsworth Revolution.

This wasn’t just a line-up that commercial promoters in ’78 would die for, it was a platform to challenge prejudice both without and within that we could dance to, or jump about to.

Of course, like all successful musicians, The Clash became celebrities and the venues became bigger and bigger. But, through force of circumstance, the band bailed out before they reached U2’s overblown proportions or outstayed their musical welcome like the Rolling Stones.

1977 is a moment to look back to and remember but not to fossilise, that would be the antithesis of everything The Clash represented or, as the final track from the album put it: “I don’t want to hear about what the rich are doing, I don’t want to go where the rich are going.”

Garageland. That’s where they came from and never entirely left either. Its why more than anything else the ’77 Clash still matter four decades on and to mark the 40th anniversary there’ll be a night of live music like no other at London’s Rich Mix on April 8, hosted by RMT and supported by the FBU.

The album will be played in both the original 1977-era Clash style and a 2017 remix on a bill that mixes bands, solo performers, discussion and spoken word. Syd Shelton’s incredible photography of ’77 punk and the rise of Rock against Racism is on show and among the artists appearing are 48 Thrills with Steve North, Dream Nails, Emily Harrison, Sean McGowan, Nia Wyn, Joe Solo, Captain Ska, Attila the Stockbroker and Comrade X.

’77 Clash Night is at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Road, London E1, with a 6pm start. Tickets, price £9.99, are available from philosophyfootball.com or call (01255) 552-412 to reserve.

Bird umbrella for sale


Bird umbrella

At BirdLife in the Netherlands, a new umbrella with depictions of eight bird species is for sale.

The species depicted are, clockwise from the top: wren, white wagtail, great tit, (male) chaffinch, tree sparrow, blue tit, robin and great spotted woodpecker.