Blue-grey tanager couple in Panama

This video says about itself:

Blue-gray Tanager Pair Forages In Panama – Feb. 13, 2018

Blue-gray Tanagers are one of the most widespread birds of the humid lowland neotropics. Here, a pair of them nibble on fresh fruit amidst a Clay-colored Thrushh and group of Thick-billed Euphonias on the Panama Fruit Feeder cam. Watch LIVE 24/7 with highlights and viewing resources at


Bewick’s swans wintering, video

This 13 February 2018 is about Bewick’s swans wintering in the Alblasserwaard region in the Netherlands.

See also here.

Dutch Foreign Minister resigns in lies about Russia scandal

Dutch ex-Minister Halbe Zijlstra at football match

This photoshopped picture shows Dutch politician Halbe Zijlstra, supposedly present at a match of the Dutch national football team. This picture and many similar ones mock Zijlstra about lying that he supposedly met Russian President Putin.

Today, Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra of the right-wing VVD party has resigned.

He resigned because of a scandal: the lies which he told about supposedly meeting President Putin at Putin’s dacha (second home) in 2006, when Zijlstra was a Shell employee.

Putin supposedly then, according to Zijlstra, said he wanted a ‘Greater Russia’, consisting of ‘Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic States, and Kazakhstan was nice to have’.

Yesterday, Minister Zijlstra admitted he had lied: he had never met Putin. However, he apparently had thought this lie would do well at the congress of his party to incite delegates into demanding spending more taxpayers’ money on defence war, leading to more profits for defence merchants of death corporations.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Rutte, a VVD member like Zijlstra, claimed that Zijlstra lying was not good, but that the could continue as foreign minister. As the lying supposedly was only that Zijlstra himself had heard Putin speak aggressive militarist language. Zijlstra and Rutte yesterday claimed that Zijlstra heard about Putin speaking aggressive militarist language from another person who indeed had met Putin.

Today, it turned out  that Zijlstra had not only lied about meeting Putin, but about what Putin had supposedly said as well. Zijlstra had heard about a talk with Putin from his boss, then Shell oil CEO Jeroen van der Veer. Van der Veer said, however, that Zijlstra had twisted Van der Veer’s words about what Putin had said. Putin had used the phrase ‘Greater Russia’ not in an aggressive military sense, but in saying Russia used to be bigger long ago. Van der Veer had also not mentioned to Zijlstra that Putin supposedly named countries like Kazakhstan, and the expression ‘nice to have’ was not Putin’s or Van der Veer’s, but a product of Zijlstra’s imagination.

Ancient camel sculptures discovered in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: High relief of standing dromedary on sandstone spur at center of image. Credit: © CNRS/MADAJ, R. Schwerdtner

From the CNRS in France:

Rock art: Life-sized sculptures of dromedaries found in Saudi Arabia

February 13, 2018

At a remarkable site in northwest Saudi Arabia, a CNRS archaeologist)1 and colleagues from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) have discovered camelid sculptures unlike any others in the region. They are thought to date back to the first centuries BC or AD.)2 The find sheds new light on the evolution of rock art in the Arabian Peninsula and is the subject of an article published in Antiquity (February 2018).

Located in the province of Al Jawf in northwest Saudi Arabia, Camel Site, as it is known, was explored in 2016 and 2017 by a Franco-Saudi research team. The sculptures, some incomplete, were executed on three rocky spurs there. Though natural erosion has partly destroyed some of the works, as well as any traces of tools, the researchers were able to identify a dozen or so reliefs of varying depths representing camelids and equids. The life-sized sculpted animals are depicted without harnessing in a natural setting. One scene in particular is unprecedented: it features a dromedary meeting a donkey, an animal rarely represented in rock art. Some of the works are thus thematically very distinct from the representations often found in this region. Technically, they also differ from those discovered at other Saudi sites — frequently simple engravings of dromedaries without relief — or the sculpted facades of Al Ḩijr (Madâ’in Şâliḩ). In addition, certain Camel Site sculptures on upper rock faces demonstrate indisputable technical skills. Camel Site can now be considered a major showcase of Saudi rock art in a region especially propitious for archaeological discovery.

Though the site is hard to date, comparison with a relief at Petra (Jordan) leads the researchers to believe the sculptures were completed in the first centuries BC or AD. Its desert setting and proximity to caravan routes suggest Camel Site — ill suited for permanent settlement — was a stopover where travelers could rest or a site of worship.


[1] The archaeologist is a research engineer at the Orient et Méditerranée research unit (CNRS / Sorbonne University / University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne / EPHE / Collège de France). This project involves another researcher in France, from the TRACES research unit (CNRS / University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès / French Ministry of Culture and Communication).

[2] These discoveries were made within the scope of the Dumat al Jandal archaeological project, directed by researchers Guillaume Charloux (CNRS) and Romolo Loreto (University of Naples L’Orientale), and supported by the SCTH; the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Labex RESMED, part of the French Investissements d’Avenir program; and the French Center for Archaeology and Social Sciences (CEFAS).

Fortunately for the makers of these sculptures, some 2,000 years ago the present regime in Saudi Arabia was not in power.

As Saudi Arabia is not just the only country in the world practicing the death penalty by beheading.

As far as I know, it also is the only country where making snowmen, or snow camels (or snow turtles‘; or snow dinosaurs) is illegal.

Illegal snow camel in Saudi Arabia

Sudanese tortured refugee arrested in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

ICE Arrests Surge 40% Under Donald Trump | All In | MSNBC

12 February 2018

The father of a 5-year-old battling cancer got a last-minute stay from deportation. But many aren’t so lucky.

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

ICE arrests immigrant at asylum interview in San Francisco

By our reporter

13 February 2018

On February 8, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents took the unprecedented step of arresting an asylum applicant, Omer Abdelmaed, after he appeared for an interview at a United States citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) building in San Francisco.

Abdelmaed, a resident of San Jose, California showed up at the asylum office in San Francisco to explain his fear of returning to Sudan, having fled after being arrested and tortured.

After the customary interview, which lasted two hours, Abdelmaed and his attorney, Caleb Arring, began to leave the office. However, as Arring explained in a Facebook post, as they began to leave, “someone who I assume is a supervisor at the asylum office came in with 3-4 ICE Officers. The ICE Officers put handcuffs on my client and said they were taking him into custody. I asked why. At first they wouldn’t even answer me.”

The highly provocative arrest is part of a pattern of blatant illegality on the part of ICE, which functions as a law unto itself.

While the Obama administration deported more people per year than Trump did in 2017, the latter’s administration has carried out a deliberate policy to instill terror among immigrants, making random, warrantless arrests outside churches, at courthouses, government buildings, schools, workplaces, on buses, and in other public places. The Trump administration made 37,734 arrests of immigrants with no criminal records in the 2017 fiscal year, more than double the total from 2016.

Arring explained in his post: “My client has NEVER been arrested in the United States. He has a completely clean record. He has a social security number. He works and contributes to our society. He has a United States Citizen Child. His wife and other child both have green cards.”

Abdelmaed’s arrest is a violation of the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, which states, “Refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay” and prohibits immigrants from “being arbitrarily detained purely on the basis of seeking asylum.”

Arring said “the government will give me NO information about why he was taken into custody during what is meant to be a safe and non-adversarial process.” When ICE made the arrest, Arring challenged the officers and told them the Asylum Office retained custody over his case while his asylum application was pending. “The officer said, not anymore, we just arrested him so the asylum office doesn’t have jurisdiction anymore.”

The Trump administration has launched an assault against asylum applicants, proposing to slash in half the total number of asylum applications it will grant per year from roughly 37,000 to 18,000. In October 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called on Congress to toughen rules for asylum seekers who he claims use “rampant abuse and fraud” to escape their home countries.

“The system is being gamed. Over the years, smart attorneys have exploited loopholes in the law, court rulings, and lack of resources to substantially undermine the intent of Congress”, Sessions said, failing to clarify how it could be fraudulent to cite court rulings in legal proceedings. The immigration system is “overloaded with fake claims” for asylum, he added. This is the opinion of a large number of senators heading into this week’s debate over immigration reform.

In reality, nearly six in ten asylum applications are denied in immigration court, including 90 percent of those applications filed by immigrants too poor to afford legal representation since there is no equivalent to the public defender system in immigration court. Between 75 percent and 90 percent of all asylum applications from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico were denied between 2011 and 2016.

The arrest of Abdelmaed is another sign of the danger posed not only to immigrants, but all workers whose democratic rights are under attack when the government conducts illegal arrests and locks up people seeking refuge from persecution.