Birds, mammals in Dutch Limburg

This 4 July 2017 is about a little owl and other birds, a swimming muskrat, a hare, quarreling beavers and other mammals near the old brick factory of Milsbeek village in Limburg province in the Netherlands.

Gerrie van der Meulen made this video.


London Grenfell Tower disaster survivors interviewed

London Grenfell Tower survivor Mo At-Tu

From the World Socialist Web Site, about London, England:

“There are people who died in there—and they’re not telling us who they are.”

Anger grows over Grenfell Tower inferno

By our reporters

4 July 2017

Nearly three weeks after the Grenfell Tower inferno, anger is growing in the surrounding Lancaster West housing estate in North Kensington. The callous treatment of survivors by [Conservative] council authorities and the Conservative government, the state’s cover-up of the death toll and its failure to press criminal charges against those responsible are fuelling protest and indignation.

Locals told a World Socialist Web Site reporting team that hundreds of residents in the low-rise council houses next to Grenfell Tower are still without gas and hot water. The boilers that supplied their homes with gas were located in the basement of Grenfell Tower and destroyed by the fire. Despite this, many residents—including at least one from the burnt-out tower block—are still being charged rent.

Hundreds have been forced to rely on makeshift and temporary accommodation in nearby hotels, churches and community centres and many were left homeless for days.

Mo At-Tu, 18, lives on Grenfell Walk, directly opposite Grenfell Tower. He lost five members of his family in the fire—his aunt Fouza; his uncle Abdul; and their three children, Yasin, 21; Nurhuda, 15; and Mehdi, eight.

His friend, Jake Patten, 20, lives on Clarendon Road, just around the corner from the Tower.

Mo explained, “I was living with my cousins on Grenfell Walk. When the fire happened, we got evacuated by the police and they didn’t tell us where to go. They just left us out there on the street. I was sleeping out on the streets for about six or seven days, with another 10-15 residents. Westway [Leisure Centre] wouldn’t let us in, because apparently, there was a waiting list, and it was pretty upsetting. How can you be outside, just getting little mattresses supplied by St Clements Church, which obviously helped, but not that much. On Thursday, I saw [Prime Minister] Theresa May myself, and she just walked straight past me and every single other resident when we were shouting her name.”

Hundreds of residents of the low-rise blocks were in the same situation, being moved from hotel to hotel. “The next day, you’re out on the streets and they’re not able to sort any accommodation out for you.’’

Jake added, “The government has done nothing. No one has been around. My sister-in-law, she lives in the block here. She’s been staying at my mum’s house for nearly three weeks because there’s no hot water, no electricity and no gas—and there’s 500-600 homes, just in this little area alone.”

Jake was in Grenfell Tower 15 minutes before the fire started and was called by a friend who told him the Tower was on fire. He filmed the blaze on his phone and the footage was later aired on BBC’s Panorama. The video shows how fast the flames spread up from level four, with firefighters attempting to douse the flames from the narrow street-level approach to the Tower, with just a single hose.

Asked if the fire brigade had easy access to the building, Jake said. “No! I’m telling you, this area was all good before they [built] the school, the swimming pool. If you look at the film Kidulthood [shot in West London and released in 2006] you are going to see what this area used to be like. As soon as they did that up, that’s when it became a death trap. Where the school is, there were three football pitches and there was a big car park to fit a hundred cars. That’s enough to get 50 fire engines in.”

Mo agreed: “There was no easy access for them to get in.”

Jake Patten

Asked if they saw fire engines having difficulty getting in, Jake said, “Yes. Very difficult. They were recording it themselves on their mobile phones on their way here to put out the fire. They were on the way here and filming it and they were literally shocked. They were saying there is no way we are going to be able to put this out in time. It was spreading so quick. Within 15 minutes the building was all alight. Within 25 minutes it had spread all around. I couldn’t sleep for three days because of the fire… because I was angry and shocked.”

“The real word is not getting out there in the media. The truth hasn’t got out there yet. These people don’t want to realise the answers yet.”

Jake added, “The BBC is telling nonsense.”

Mo said, “They don’t want to release the answers yet. They want to make the area go quiet. In the first couple of days [after the fire] this area used to be packed. Now it’s going quiet bit by bit.”

On Theresa May’s visit in the days after the fire, in which she refused to meet survivors or local residents, Mo said, “What actually hurt me is that you’re the prime minister yourself and you paid us no respect. On the first days she came, she just literally walked past everyone. She only went to speak to the police and fire brigade. She realised she made a mistake and she came back the next day, but it was too late for that, so obviously, everyone was trying to chase her down the road.”

She’s all for the rich,” said Jake.

Asked why he thought the government was not releasing the true number of fatalities, Mo said, “To be honest I think they can’t release the number as it looks like it’s worse than a terrorist attack and it looks like someone just got a bomb and dropped it there. Because even if someone did try to do a terrorist attack, nothing like this would happen. It wouldn’t destroy everyone. This has basically destroyed everyone at a certain time when everyone was at home, asleep.”

Both Mo and Jake agreed that the council was operating a policy of social cleansing to force working class people out of the borough.

Jake said, “They are moving everyone to the north like Leeds, Bristol, Manchester.” Mo agreed: “They’ve been planning this for more than 10 years. They’ve been planning to get the poor people out of the area. And the other thing I don’t get is that they put the old people on the top floors and the young people on the bottom floors. People who are disabled in a wheelchair on the top floor! Think about it. If there is a fire how are they going to escape?”

Linda Maidment

While WSWS reporters spoke with Jake and Mo, a woman angered by the lies over the death toll, Linda Maidment, came over. She exclaimed, “It’s disgusting! Why don’t they report it?”

Pointing at Grenfell Tower, she said, “There’s 600 people living in that block. Six hundred, and they’ve only reported 80 [fatalities]. We’re not stupid. We know how many people [were] in that block. We saw them all on fire and they are not doing [anything] for them.”

Linda lives in Avondale Park Road. She explained her son and husband watched the fire develop for six minutes before the fire engines arrived, because they closed the nearby Ladbroke Grove fire station. “Where are the fire engines for the people?

“There are people who died in there and they are not telling us who they are. Where are all these people—the 600 people? And they are saying it’s 80 people [dead]. It’s absolutely rubbish and they can’t possibly think that the people around here believe that there are only 80 people.”

Asked why she thought the government was lying, she said, “Because there would be a riot. Because of everything that is going on.”

Great crested grebe eats crayfish

This 4 July 2017 video shows a great crested grebe eating a crayfish (of which there are several feral North American species in Dutch waters). The parent eats the prey itself, doesn’t give it to its youngster.

Hanneke Stoof made this video near Wilnis village in Utrecht province in the Netherlands.

G20 summit police state in Hamburg, Germany

This video says about itself:

Germany: G20 protest flotilla takes to the waters in Hamburg

2 July 2017

Around 120 boats and canoes were seen on Binnenalster, Hamburg, Sunday, as part of a water-borne protest against the G20 summit, which takes place in the city on July 7-8.

Several of the protesters were equipped with placards and flags, and many wore masks depicting the leaders of the G20 countries.

Around 20,000 people are thought to have taken part in the main protest against the summit, marching through the central streets of the northern city with banners and flags demanding the summit’s cancellation. They also called for the protection of the environment and for an end to the use of fossil fuels and nuclear sources of energy.

Among the protesters were members and supporters of the German Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), the Left Party (Die Linke), and ecological and left-wing movements and organisations.

By Sven Heymanns in Germany:

G20 summit in Hamburg: A city in a state of siege

4 July 2017

The city of Hamburg, Germany, host to the G20 summit to be held July 7-8, is a city under siege. 15,000 police officers from every German state are practicing bringing a major city under state control. Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to take part in demonstrations during the summit.

A closer look at the planned measures makes clear that they are intended not just to protect the political elite attending the G20, but represent deliberate preparations for a civil war scenario that would not be possible under normal circumstances. The number of police and security forces involved is unprecedented, with camps set up to incarcerate G20 opponents.

These measures are accompanied by massive attacks on the basic rights of demonstrators and the city’s population. The German army (Bundeswehr) is also taking part in the siege of Hamburg—in part publicly, in part undercover. Even bourgeois media outlets such as the Huffington Post write of “a city in a state of war”.

Police are assembling from all of Germany’s 16 states, with several states dispatching special police units. GSG9, the special unit of the federal police, will take part.

It is “the biggest operation in the history of the Hamburg police,” declared police president Ralf Martin Meyer. The operation has been under way for several weeks, with civilian police posted to the most important points in the city center to conduct surveillance.

It is an unprecedented operation, and not just for the Hamburg police. The head of operations, Hartmut Dudde, told the press that “almost everything the German police has” will be in Hamburg.

Spiegel Online reported that every police officer will be equipped with a gun, a baton and teargas. The special units distributed throughout the city center have additional heavy armament, including “a variety of pistols and revolvers, glare grenades, battering rams and the sniper rifle PSG1”, one of the most precise weapons available.

The new police vehicle “Survivor R” will be also be used for the first time. The 15-ton behemoth resembles the vehicles used by the US army in Iraq, which were then turned into police cars and used against protesters during the police lockdown of Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. The vehicle is manned by ten policemen, including a commander, a gunner and two targeteers. The launching system can be used for tear gas or fog grenades. A blade to destroy blockades is also included.

At the presentation of the vehicle last summer, it was said that the “Survivor” was the only police truck that can withstand shots from an AK-47. It is also equipped with detectors that report the presence of nuclear, biological and chemical agents, and it has its own ventilation system to protect those inside the vehicle. A “Survivor” costs up to 500,000 euros, depending on the equipment.

The Hamburg police also have the “WaWe 10000”—“the most modern water cannon in the world,” Spiegel Online writes. The vehicle can shoot up to 3,200 litres of water within 60 seconds, with the water jet extending up to 65 meters. The WaWe can create an artificial wall of water allowing police and special units to advance on demonstrators. The vehicle is also equipped with gas tanks and corresponding admixing systems, which make it possible to spray tear gas along with the water.

In addition to the above-mentioned vehicles, which are clearly aimed for use against the population in a civil war type situation, the police are carrying out numerous other measures. This includes a permanent presence in the waters of the port city, which transports goods along the River Elbe. The river and port are to be watched over by a special unit of the Dutch police.

Stern magazine reports that “3,000 police vehicles, nearly 200 service dogs, eleven helicopters, around 50 police officers […] and special units from several states” will be deployed. Special vehicles with translucent and bulletproof walls are due to be sent from France. They were previously deployed against demonstrators protesting the French Labor Market Act.

According to a report by the magazine Focus, the Bundeswehr is planning to use a maritime ship in the port of Hamburg as part of the G20 summit operation. The secret use of the ship, which is intended to rescue heads of state and government in the event of a terrorist attack, is clearly unconstitutional.

The ship could be sent at any time in the direction of the North Sea and has operating rooms on board. For camouflage, soldiers will wear civilian clothes. The pretext for the ship’s stay in the port is officially the procurement of missing spare parts. The federal criminal police office and the Ministry of Defence rejected the media reports. War ships were “not part of our deployment concept”, a police officer told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

In fact, according to the Morgenpost, the Bundeswehr is using the multi-purpose “Lachs” (Salmon) boat for so-called “administrative assistance.” It will be manned by personnel for various “security” tasks, as well as specialists for diving medicine. Finally, the German army is deploying an underwater drone to scan the Hamburg harbour basin for explosives.

The siege of the city is accompanied by a massive attack on the basic democratic rights of local residents and demonstrators.

A so-called general police decree enables the security forces to control the arrival and departure of the participants to the summit. The decree bans any demonstrations in a 38-square kilometre zone between the city’s airport and the Elbe, and roads can be blocked at any time. Another zone surrounding the hall where the summit takes place can only be entered by local residents.

Police have reacted to the plans for over two dozen demonstrations and protests by setting up a detention center, which could more accurately described as a temporary concentration camp.

Up to 400 people can be detained on the site of a former food market covering an area of 11,000 square meters. There will also be containers for lawyers as well as facilities for taking fingerprints and identifying personal data. A total of 70 collective and 50 individual cells are available, according to Spiegel Online.

An attempt by the city of Hamburg to ban the “Antikapitalistische Camp,” located in the city park, has failed temporarily. Following a ban order issued by the Hamburg Higher Administrative Court, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that such a ban was inadmissible because it prevented participants from exercising their right of assembly.

However, the city court and police have given sufficient scope to proceed against the camp by other means. The police can limit the size of the camp, impose various regulations and even move it to a different place in the city.

On Thursday evening Hamburg’s interior affairs senator, Andy Grote (SPD), announced that prohibitive measures would be taken against the organizers of the camp if they build it illegally. While the Constitutional Court lifted a ban on the camp, the city council has failed to give its permission for a camp to be erected.

Yesterday, Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz, the king of Saudi Arabia, canceled his participation in the G20 summit. One war criminal less; still plenty (including United States President Trump) present.

New Zealand rainforest penguins

This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Unravelling the secret (marine) life of the Fiordland penguin

31 May 2017

Our first video, choker full of info on Fiordland penguins – what we know about them (not a lot) and what the Tawaki Project aims at learning about the species. Consider it a kind of an origin story.

From BirdLife:

4 July 2017

Penguins of the remote rainforest

Grab a kayak, hiking boots and become an expert at crawling through rocks if you want to discover New Zealand‘s hidden Fiordland Penguins, or “tawaki”. But why are they going hungry?

By Shaun Hurrell

There’s a saying that says biting insects exist to protect beautiful places from humans. In Fiordland, which forms the remote and rugged southwest of the South Island, this almost rings true, wherein hides mainland New Zealand’s hidden rainforest penguins. “Most New Zealanders wouldn’t recognise a tawaki as a native species”, says Thomas Mattern, researcher at Otago University, and penguin specialist part of The Tawaki Project.

Despite striking yellow feathers above their eyes, Fiordland Penguins Eudyptes pachyrhynchus are hard to see. Named after a Maori god that walked the earth, Tawaki, they are actually quite a timid species and live in small scattered colonies in the steep and water-weathered forests of New Zealand’s fiords, a place only accessible by water or multi-day treks through clouds of irritating biting sandflies. Whilst thousands of tourists brave bad weather for boat trips into these stunning landscapes, the plight of the tawakiis not well known. On Stewart Island too, they do not want to be found, shrouding themselves in very dense vegetation, rock crevices and even sea caves only accessible underwater. With a range that has retreated since the arrival of humans, you can see why they might be so timid.

“We are only beginning to understand the threats tawaki face”

“To date, little is known about their ecology”, says Thomas. He, together with Robin Long – who works as a ranger for the West Coast Penguin Trust and grew up in this remote environment – are now experts at crawling between jagged rocks and kayaking through rain-splattered fiords to find these 55 cm tall penguins, as part of the Tawaki Project, to learn more of their breeding and foraging success by using camera traps on nests and fitting waterproof GPS tags. Last summer, El Niño hit the penguins hard: data loggers revealed some tawaki heading 100 km out to sea to search for food. “A lot of chicks died of starvation”, says Thomas. “We found some with just sticks and mud in their stomachs.”

Unfortunately, most crested penguin populations have been declining during the last century, and tawaki do not seem to be an exception, listed by BirdLife as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The population is estimated to range between 5,500 and 7,000 birds, and at some sites their numbers are believed to have declined by as much as 30% in just ten years. Whilst sandflies help keep some humans away, human-introduced stoats trigger cameras as they prey on penguin eggs and chicks. Also, rising ocean temperatures probably disrupt prey availability, fisheries may compete for resources or result in accidental bycatch, and pollution from oil exploration could also become a major problem for these birds. Funding for more research is key: “We are only beginning to understand the threats tawaki face”, says Robin. “We need to know a lot more to come up with effective ways to protect the species.”

Read more about the penguins of New Zealand.

Tangled and drowned: new study links penguin declines with fishing activity: here.

London Wimbledon bosses ban Jeremy Corbyn chanting

This satiric 3 July 2017 video from Wimbledon tennis court in London, England says about itself:


Actually, it is video of decades ago at Wimbledon, when it rained, there was no tennis and Sir Cliff Richard started singing; with the sound of recent pro-Jeremy Corbyn chanting superimposed.

The satire is because of what this 4 July 2017 video from the USA says:

Wimbledon Issues Ban On Chanting “Jeremy Corbyn“!

From daily The Independent in Britain:

The Corbyn chant was sung by supporters of the [rugby] British and Irish Lions during their game with New Zealand on Saturday [1 July 2017] morning, indicating that this could be a trend beyond Glastonbury. …

Although it is rare, Wimbledon isn’t a stranger to political protests. In 2011 the Spanish anti-austerity 15-M movement were prevented from making a protest during a Rafael Nadal match and in 2016 David Cameron was greeted by boos after Andy Murray acknowledged the former Prime Minister during his victory speech.

Tellingly, the Wimbledon bigwigs, mainly Conservatives, I suspect, have not banned chants supporting wobbly Tory Prime Minister Theresa May. Maybe also because very few, if any, people would think of chanting in support of May. After Ms May’s disastrous austerity policies, disastrous election campaign, disastrous reaction to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, disastrous coalition with Irish terrorist homophobes, to whom she gave her magic money tree loot, even many people who have voted Conservative all their lives are thinking seriously about never doing that again. And Tory politicians who at the moment still say in public that they support Theresa May 100% are meanwhile, out of sight of the public, quarreling behind her back whether they should stab her in the back in a few days’ time, a few weeks’ time, or a few months’ time.

The Wimbledon situation reminds me of Brazil. At the recent Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, spectators booed Brazilian coup president Temer at the opening ceremony. So, Temer did not dare to go to the closing ceremony. A bit later, he was booed by spectators of the Paralymics; where tickets were cheaper, so that also some not so well of Brazilians could afford them.

Pine marten in tree video

This 4 July 2017 video is about a pine marten in a tree. They prefer to live in undisturbed forests, and eat mainly mice.

Dick Kuiperij made this video in the Vragenderveen nature reserve, part of the Korenburgerveen, in the Achterhoek region in the Netherlands.

Dutch Naardermeer pine martens: here.