To Katwijk on the North Sea by boat


Leiden, Galgewater, 17 September 2017

On 17 September 2017, we went by boat to Katwijk town on the North Sea. The sailing started in the inner city of Leiden. The photo shows the part of the river Rhine called Galgewater which serves as a historical harbour for old ships; and behind it, the seventeenth century Dutch renaissance stepped gable building of the Stadstimmerwerf (municipal carpentry business).

A ring-necked parakeet calling.

Bridge, 17 September 2017

We passed a bridge with graffiti on it.

Coots are swimming. So does a great crested grebe. Two Egyptian geese on the bank.

An adult great crested grebe with two youngsters.

Building, 17 September 2017

We pass various buildings on the bank.

Six Egyptian geese on the bank.

As we continue on the Rhine, the left bank is Valkenburg village (now part of Katwijk local authority), the right bank is Oegstgeest local authority.

A herring gull swimming.

A Canada goose on the bank.

We pass Rijnsburg village. A jay flying.

As we sail on, we arrive in the next village: Katwijk aan den Rijn.

Katwijk aan den Rijn, 17 September 2017

On this photo from Katwijk aan den Rijn, nursing home De Wilbert is on the right.

Katwijk aan den Rijn, bridge, 17 September 2017

We passed under bridges in Katwijk aan den Rijn, like this one.

Katwijk aan Zee, 17 September 2017

We arrived in Katwijk aan Zee village. In the back of this photo is the pumping station regulating the flow of the Rhine into the North Sea.

Katwijk aan Zee, inland port, 17 September 2017

We approached the end of our journey: the inland port of Katwijk aan Zee.

Katwijk aan Zee, pond, 17 September 2017

After we had disembarked, we saw this pond just behind the inland port, with water plants and many small invertebrate animals.

Katwijk aan Zee, street, 17 September 2017

We walked to the North Sea.

Katwijk aan Zee, North Sea, 17 September 2017

And we arrived at a spot where just sand dunes and the beach separated us from the North Sea.

There will be more on Katwijk on this blog; so, stay tuned!

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Police impunity for killing Anthony Lamar Smith in St Louis, USA


This video from Missouri in the USA says about itself:

No Justice for St. Louis Black Community

17 September 2017

Protests have been taking place in the wake of a not-guilty verdict delivered to former St. Louis cop Jason Stockley, who was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.

By Ben Chacko in Britain:

US: Protests carry on after ‘not guilty’ verdict

Monday 18th September 2017

PROTESTS in the US city of St Louis continued for a third day yesterday following the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley for killing Anthony Lamar Smith there in 2011.

Mr Stockley was found not guilty of murder on Friday, six years after having shot 24-year-old African-American Mr Smith five times after a car chase, on the grounds that he believed he was reaching for a weapon.

A gun was found in Mr Smith’s car after the event but the prosecution alleged it was placed there by Mr Stockley, who predicted the shooting during the car chase with the words: “Going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it.”

But Judge Timothy Wilson said the court could not say it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the killing was not self-defence.

The ruling sparked immediate demonstrations in St Louis on Friday evening and a march of thousands on Saturday.

Some protesters attacked police vehicles and buildings on Friday night while “a few dozen” did not disperse after Saturday’s march and then clashed with riot officers who moved against them.

Electrician Damone Smith told reporters as his car was rerouted away from the demo that he was “proud” of protesters against a “disgusting” verdict.

If you look like me, then you feel like there is no other way to express yourself. Time and time again, African-American men are killed by police and nobody is held accountable”, he explained.

This video from the USA says about itself:

US: St. Louis protesters extend demonstration over Anthony Lamar Smith murder

17 September 2017

Protests in the US city of St. Louis … for a third night following the acquittal of a white former police officer over the shooting of a black motorist.

Six years ago, police officer Jason Stockley shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith after a car chase.

Earlier this year, prosecutors charged Stockley, who is white, with first-degree murder, alleging he planted a gun in Smith’s car.

On Friday, Stockley was acquitted of the crime.

At least 47 people have been arrested since Friday.

Al Jazeera’s Victoria Gatenby reports.

By Genevieve Leigh in the USA:

Over forty arrested in St. Louis as demonstrations continue against acquittal of killer cop

18 September 2017

Police intensified their crackdown on protesters in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday as demonstrations against police violence continued into the third day.

The protests erupted Friday afternoon following the announcement that police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of first degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2011 killing of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

Stockley, who is white, fired five bullets at point-blank range into Smith, who was African-American, while the victim was seated in his car after a three-mile chase. A police car dashcam recorded Stockley telling his partner in advance of the shooting, “We’re killing this motherfucker, don’t you know.” An FBI firearms analyst testified at the trial that one shot was discharged from only six inches away.

After the murder, video recordings show Stockley going into his police car to get a gun, which he then planted in the car of the dead victim. Only Stockley’s DNA was found on the gun.

Considering the precedent upheld across the board by both Democrats and Republicans of blanket immunity for killer cops it is hardly a surprise that Stockley was acquitted. However, the sheer amount of evidence and the blatant murderous character of the event makes his exoneration particularly egregious.

Demonstrations erupted immediately following the announcement and attracted as many as one thousand people at their peak. Protests were held outside of police department headquarters and numerous marches took place throughout the city Friday evening. On Saturday, hundreds held demonstrations in West County Center shopping mall in the city of Des Peres, west of St. Louis, and at Chesterfield Mall in the suburb of Chesterfield. Saturday’s demonstrations culminated in a gathering at the home of Democratic mayor, Lyda Krewson, where at least one window was broken after something was thrown at it.

St Louis police in riot geat walk over protesters

With the memories of the massive upheavals which erupted in Ferguson in 2014–only a 20-minute drive from St. Louis–state and local authorities had anticipated protests over the exoneration of yet another killer cop. Officials spent the past week preparing to impose a virtual lockdown on the city. Barricades were erected around police headquarters and the courthouse, among other sites, and Republican Governor Eric Greitens activated the National Guard on Thursday ahead of the announcement.

As early as 6:30 p.m. on Friday the St. Louis Police Department had determined that the protests were “no longer considered peaceful”, which they announced in a tweet. They claimed that demonstrators were ignoring commands to leave the streets, making all of those in the area subject to arrest.

Reports indicate that at least thirty-three people were arrested during Friday’s protests and an additional nine Saturday night through Sunday morning. According to officials, four of the nine people arrested will face felony destruction of property charges. Among those arrested were two minors and the other seven ranged in age from 22 to 37 years old.

The St. Louis Police Department took to Twitter to justify their actions throughout the weekend.

On Friday they posted pictures of rocks and water bottles that they claimed had been thrown at officers throughout the day adding that “officers showed great restraint.”

These photos stand in sharp contrast to the videos and photos posted by the protesters of hundreds of police officers dressed in riot gear and armed to the teeth with military-grade weaponry attacking protesters.

Their “restraint” included firing pepper-spray balls and tear gas against the overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrators. In one instance police in riot gear marched over a woman after she was knocked to the ground. When several people rushed to her assistance they were also knocked to the ground by police officers armed with shields and large bats.

Krewson and Geitens were also active on their Twitter accounts throughout the weekend making veiled threats to the protesters and offering their full support for the police force.

Greitens publicly bolstered the law-and-order campaign, tweeting praise of the police actions and posting videos of himself shaking hands with law enforcement. Bragging in a Tweet on Saturday, he wrote “some criminals broke windows & thought they’d get away. They were wrong. Officers caught ‘em, cuffed ‘em, and threw ‘em in Jail.” The video posted along with the tweet shows five officers hauling away a cuffed young man who appears to be unconscious.

Greitens' tweet

The brutal murder of Anthony Lamar Smith and the subsequent violent crackdown on protesters by the political establishment are, in a very direct way, the product of twenty-five years of unending US wars abroad, with the same military gear and tactics being against the working class at home.

The officer responsible for the killing, Stockley, is a West Point graduate who served with the Army in the Iraq war. He carried his personal AK-47-style rifle with him as an officer in St. Louis, and noted in the trial that he felt that his life and the life of his fellow officers “depended on it”–a perspective likely ingrained in him throughout his time around the various military institutions.

Greitens, the most enthusiastic cheerleader of the St. Louis police force through the weekend, comes out of a long career in the military establishment, having served for years as a Navy Seal, the most notoriously brutal arm of the United States military Special Forces.

President Donald Trump and the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been vehement defenders of killer cops and violent police forces. Speaking for police officers in August, Trump encouraged them to be “rough” with those they were arresting. Later that month, he signed an order reinstituting the federal program that supplies military weapons and equipment to local and state police forces.

Six new sponge species discovered in Indonesia


This video says about itself:

9 June 2012

HD video of scuba diving at Bunaken National Marine Park near Manado city at North of Sulawesi island in Indonesia. Fascinating walls covered with sponges, soft and hard corals, huge green turtles and tiny nudibranches, colorful anemones with clown fishes, eagle rays, morays etc.

From ScienceDaily:

Six new sponge species and new symbiotic associations from the Indonesian coral triangle

September 18, 2017

Summary: The Indonesian coral reefs, located in the so-called coral triangle, are considered amongst the richest and most biodiverse places on Earth. Surprisingly, this impressive species diversity is still poorly known. Biologists now report the presence of 94 species of sponges, including six new to science and two new symbiotic sponge associations.

Comprising more than 17,000 islands, the Indonesian archipelago is one of the world’s most biodiverse places on Earth.

Sponges, aquatic organisms whose bodies consist of numerous pores to allow the ingress of water, are key components of this richness and play a fundamental role in the survival of coral reef habitats. Furthermore, they are also known for their medicinal benefits.

Unfortunately, due to the paucity of taxonomic expertise, the sponges from the Indonesian reefs are often ignored in monitoring surveys and conservation programmes, while their diversity is largely underestimated.

Researchers from the Italian Università Politecnica delle Marche and Università degli Studi di Genova, PharmaMar, Spain, and University of Sam Ratulangi, Indonesia, describe six new species in their paper in the open access journal, ZooKeys.

Inspired by their extraordinary biodiversity, the researchers teamed up with the pharmaceutical company PharmaMar to conduct several expeditions in the waters of North Sulawesi Island.

The authors reported a total of 94 demosponge species belonging to 33 families living in the North Sulawesi Island. Amongst them, there are six species new to science and two previously unknown symbiotic relationships.

Seven of the recorded species were collected for the very first time since their original description.

However, these findings are still scarce, given the abundance of the sponges in similar localities in the Indonesian archipelago.

In conclusion, the authors note that the marine diversity in Indonesia is still far from being well known.

“Thanks to this impressive diversity, these areas are important spots for diving tourism and require the urgent development of sustainable tourism practices”, they say.

A completely new group of sponges has been discovered, which scientists believe could be a key indicator species in measuring future mining impact in a region targeted for deep-sea mining of polymetallic (metal-rich) nodules. They are likely to be the most abundant nodule-dwelling animal in the area: here.

New deep-sea sponge could play a starring role in monitoring ocean health. Plenaster craigi grows on metal-filled rocks that are a target for mining, by Carolyn Gramling, 7:00am, October 10, 2017.

Murdered Greek anti-nazi rapper remembered


This video says about itself:

Pavlos Fyssas Death Sparks Outrage In Greece

20 September 2013

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Greece: Murdered anti-fascist remembered

Monday 18th September 2017

Thousands march for rapper Killah P

THOUSANDS marched through Athens and other Greek cities at the weekend, with further demonstrations due today, the fourth anniversary of the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a neonazi.

People rallied in Syntagma Square and marched on the US embassy, where they protested at the killing of Heather Heyer by a white supremacist last month.

They then continued towards the offices of the Golden Dawn party, though were prevented by thousands of riot police from reaching the fascist HQ.

Hundreds of Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants joined the march after rallying separately in Omonoia Square to denounce the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar authorities.

Marchers chanted: “Golden Dawn to jail — smash the nazis!”

They included “delegations of hospital workers, workers in the non-governmental organisations which have just cut their refugee support operations as funding ceased, and other trade unionists,” according to eyewitness and Morning Star contributor Kevin Ovenden.

Mr Fyssas, also known as Killah P, was stabbed to death in an attack by a crowd of fascists on September 17 2013, and indicated Golden Dawn canteen worker Giorgios Roupakias as the culprit while he lay dying.

Mr Roupakias has since admitted to the murder before a judge but was released from prison last year as his trial had still not begun and he had hit the legal limit for pre-trial detention.

The anti-fascist Keerfa coalition rejected accusations that the march was “anti-American.”

“We are with the America of resistance to racism, fascism and Trump.”

Tonight a wide array of forces will rally with the Fyssas family in Perama, an adjacent district of Piraeus to the site of Mr Fyssas’s murder.

It will include the Communist Party of Greece, whose leading trade unionist Sotiris Poulikogiannis was nearly murdered by Golden Dawn four years ago in the same area.

Eagles in Sweden on video


This video is about golden eagles and sea eagles in Sweden.

British government sends Afghan refugee to death illegally


This video says about itself:

Pilot refuses to return failed UK asylum seeker back to Afghanistan

31 August 2017

Samim Bigzad
– Received death threats from Taliban
– Applied for asylum in UK
– Has UK-based father who needs care
Detained without warning after asylum rejected

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Kent asylum seeker returning to safety

Monday 18th September 2017

Samim Bigzad on his way home to Britain from Afghanistan

AN ASYLUM-SEEKER from Afghanistan who fears for his life was being flown back to Britain yesterday after the Home Office went against legal advice and deported him.

Samim Bigzad has been targeted by the Taliban, who threatened to behead him, because he has worked for a construction company with links to the Afghan government and the US military.

Campaigners from Kent Anti-Racism Network told the Star that before being deported last Tuesday he had been gagged to prevent a disturbance that would result in him being removed from the flight and, when he tried to call out, was punched in the head.

Until yesterday morning he was holed up in hotel rooms in Turkey and then the Afghan capital Kabul, where at one point a group of men with guns had demanded to know his whereabouts.

Legal experts and campaigners said Home Secretary Amber Rudd had defied the law by continuing with the extradition after ignoring two High Court orders preventing Mr Bigzad’s removal, with one judge branding it “prima facie contempt of court.”

Kent Anti-Racism Network’s Bridget Chapman said Ms Rudd had “applied to the court to have the previous two court orders overturned.”

Solicitor Jamie Bell told the Star that further attempts by the Home Office to prevent Mr Bigzad’s return were refused and he had started contempt of court proceedings against the Home Secretary.

As the Star went to press, following a third court order and a four-hour hearing, Mr Bigzad was in Istanbul waiting for a flight back to Britain.

The Home Office dragged its feet in responding to lawyers’ requests, Mr Bell said, but he now “eagerly and hopefully” awaited Mr Bigzad’s return and will continue representing him in his legal battle.

Ms Rudd appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, on which she said: “Deportation is an important part of managing our immigration process.”

Mr Marr attempted to draw her into commenting on being “in contempt of court,” and whether she would have to apologise.

She said she would abide by what courts asked her to do but refused to comment further, saying that the case was “ongoing.”

The Home Office also refused to comment on what it described as “ongoing legal proceedings.”

Foreign interference can ruin a nation, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai tells The Oslo Times.

Monarch butterflies are in trouble


This video says about itself:

7 June 2016

The largest insect migration in the world ends each year in Michoacán, Mexico. Millions of monarch butterflies travel from the United States and Canada to pass the cold months in the towering trees of this beautiful forest. On their journey, the butterflies travel around 2,800 miles.

From the Entomological Society of America:

Damage to monarch butterfly colonies in 2016 storm worse than thought

Severe cold, snow, and high winds — and salvage logging that followed — weakened forest that protects declining butterfly

September 17, 2017

A much greater number of monarch butterflies perished in a snowstorm in March 2016 in Mexico than previously estimated, according to new research. Analysis of damage from the storm — and the ensuing salvage logging — sheds further light on the precarious state of the famed butterflies’ overwintering colonies.

Approximately 30-38 percent of the monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in the Sierra Chincua and Cerro Pelón overwintering colonies died in the storm, says a team led by Lincoln Brower, Ph.D., research professor of biology at Sweet Briar College, far more than the estimated 7 percent mortality rate cited in initial media reports after the storm that struck between March 7 and March 11, 2016. The researchers’ findings are reported in the latest issue of the Entomological Society of America’s American Entomologist.

The storm was a severe combination of rain, snow, sleet, and hail along with strong winds and sub-freezing temperatures that downed several thousand Oyamel firs within the forests of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 2008. Typically, the dense forest creates a favorable “microclimate” for the monarchs, protecting them from exposure to intense winds, rain, and cold temperatures.

“The prolonged severe storm destroyed the normal microclimatic protection provided by the intact Oyamel forest and led to freezing in all the colonies,” Brower says. “This awakened us to the realization that the forest surrounding the butterfly colonies also needs to be protected, as a generalized wind buffer.”

Brower and colleagues counted dead butterflies in random plots within the colonies to estimate the total mortality rate from the storm: 31 percent in the Sierra Chincua colony and 38 percent in the Cerro Pelón colony. The true impact may still have been greater, however, as the researchers’ analysis of weather data from stations within and surrounding the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, measured against existing research on monarch butterfly mortality in freezing temperatures, “support the conclusion that the March 2016 storm mortality … was substantially greater than 40 percent,” the researchers report.

Following the storm, the Mexican government permitted salvage logging to remove downed trees, due to concerns over potential fire or insect damage. Brower and colleagues argue, however, that the logging process was “profoundly disturbing and detrimental to the environment,” decreasing the forest’s ability to return to maturity and provide safe haven for the butterflies. A volume of 60,000 cubic meters of timber was approved for removal — equivalent to several thousand trees — which follows an incident of illegal logging occurring in the monarch reserve in 2015, reported in American Entomologist last year.

Brower was recently named a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, in recognition of his career devoted to studying and raising awareness of the monarch butterfly and its overwintering colonies. Since the 1996-1997 overwintering season, the monarchs‘ colonies have declined in size by 90 percent. After more than 60 years, Brower’s work carries on, he says. “We hope to carry out a drone study, photographing the colonies from a standard height above the butterflies and then using photometric analysis to estimate changing colony densities,” he says. “We are concerned that the current methodology of reporting only total colony areas is underestimating the decline of monarchs overwintering in Mexico.”