Broad-tailed hummingbirds in Texas


This video from Texas in the USA says about itself:

The Trill of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds –July 5, 2018

Turn up your volume and listen to the trill of male Broad-tailed Hummingbirds while you can. Male Broad-tails produce a loud trill with their wingtips as they fly, but over time the feathers that produce this sound wear down from use. By midwinter the trill is often inaudible. Before the next breeding season rolls around they grow new feathers and are once again ready to trill away

Watch live at http://allaboutbirds.org/texashummers for more information about hummingbirds and highlights from the feeders.

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German taxpayers’ money to war, repression


This video saus about itself:

German Army Parade (1938) | British Pathé

This segment from Pathé Gazette shows the German army marching past the dictator of Hungary, Admiral Horthy, in 1938 as the crowds give them a Nazi salute.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

Billions for war and police-state repression in Germany’s grand coalition budget

6 July 2018

On Thursday, the German parliament (Bundestag) adopted the budget for the current financial year and spending plans that will operate until 2021 with the votes of the grand coalition partners, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Today, the cabinet will agree on the proposed budget of Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD).

The new budget marks a turning point in postwar German history.

Four years after the German government announced the end of military restraint at the Munich Security Conference, the consequences of that policy are now finding expression in budgetary figures. The most significant features of the new budget plan include a major increase in military spending, the strengthening of domestic police state repression and measures to terrorise refugees.

The defence budget will rise by 4 percent this year, from €38.95 billion ($US45.54 billion) to €42.9 billion ($US50.2 billion). Further major spending increases are planned for the coming years.

In her government statement on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel stated she was “very grateful that we have an increase in defence spending in our budget … But compared to what others do in relation to their gross domestic product, this is nowhere near enough, and we have therefore committed to spending at least 1.5 percent of GDP on this by 2024.”

The figure of 1.5 percent equals some €53 billion for the military each year. However, it is clear that the ruling elite is pursuing a much more comprehensive rearmament plan. “Protection and security … cost money, and I want to state here clearly: we stand firmly by NATO’s 2 percent goal”, stated Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen. To reach the NATO target, which the government agreed to at a NATO summit in Wales two years ago, at least €35 billion more would have to be spent on the military annually if economic growth is taken into account.

The entire parliamentary debate underscored that the ruling elite is once again preparing for war to enforce the interests of German imperialism in Europe and around the world. “It’s about our future, Germany’s future, the future of Europe. It’s about Germany and Europe’s future as an actor in the world”, stated Merkel. It is not possible “to act as if defence is not an urgent issue in our current moment. We all hoped that the world would become more peaceful after the end of the Cold War. But wars are raging on our doorstep.”

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) emphasised the government’s goal of welding Europe together under German leadership as a military bloc against the other major powers. “The answer—and this is interchangeable—to ‘America first’, ‘Russia first’, or ‘China first’ can only be ‘Europe united’, my dearest ladies and gentlemen,” Maas declared …

CSU politician Reinhard Brandl, a member of the budgetary and defence committees, and president of the Society for Defence and Security Policy, gave an indication of the extent of the rearmament plans being worked out behind the backs of the population. By 2023, Germany must be capable of “once again making [brigades] combat-ready and carrying out emergency responses.” Another “issue” was that of “air defence.”

What use would it be to Germany “if we are surrounded by friends, but a crazy dictator from somewhere around the world sends a missile to Berlin and we’re not able to defend ourselves against it?” asked Brandl. A new missile defence system was “under development, but costs several billion euros.”

As in the 1930s, the German military build-up is being accompanied by the strengthening of authoritarian forms of rule and encourages the most right-wing forces in the government and in opposition.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) boasted in his speech, “Today we are passing a unique plan for my ministry with an unprecedented scope: €14 billion and an additional 6,000 personnel. It is a budget that sets new standards. Roughly one-third of this, around €5.4 billion, is earmarked for internal security.” The federal security agencies alone will add an additional 4,000 staff. The grand coalition is strengthening “the Federal Criminal Office, the federal police, and we also support the federal authorities, without which a classic security system cannot function.”

Seehofer then celebrated the reactionary agreement between the CDU and CSU on refugee policy, which, among other things, includes a provision for virtual concentration camps in Germany.

He was “positive that we will reach an understanding, and a reliable agreement, with our coalition partners in the SPD.” The most important steps now are “a new regime at the German-Austrian border, the immediate rejection of people with travel bans, and the establishment of transit centres, from where asylum seekers can be deported to the countries responsible as soon as possible.”

With the major programme of rearmament, strengthening of domestic state repression and the growing terrorising of refugees, which is directed against the entire working class, the federal government is increasingly adopting the policies of the far-right AfD. “I am pleased that in the budget sitting, the grand coalition is at least moving in the same direction as our motion by increasing the purchasing budget for vehicles for frontline policing by 50 percent”, stated AfD deputy Marcus Bühl. Party leader Alexander Gauland described the “compromise between Mr. Seehofer and Mrs. Merkel” as “a step in the right direction.”

The Left Party and Greens do not merely have nothing to offer in opposition to the ruling elite’s rightward shift, but are in fact part of the process. In his speech, Green parliamentary group leader Anton Hofreiter focused primarily on complaining that the government crisis had undermined German interests: “It was really unprecedented in its irresponsibility. You pushed the government to the brink of the abyss and caused major uncertainty in Germany and Europe.”

Left Party parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch spoke along similar lines and warned about mounting social and political opposition to the militarist and anti-social policies. “You and your governments bear responsibility for the fact that the German Federal Republic is deeply divided socially, culturally, and politically. You bear responsibility for the fact that people are increasingly losing trust in the state and its institutions.”

How bears help small mammals


This 2014 video says about itself:

Grizzly Bears Catching Salmon | Nature’s Great Events | BBC

It’s the time of year when the salmon make their annual pilgrimage upstream to spawn, but leaping past the waiting hungry bears is no easy task.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Berry-gorging bears disperse seeds through scat and feed small mammals

July 5, 2018

New research shows that mice and voles scurry to bear scats to forage for seeds, finding nutritional value in the seeds and in some cases further dispersing them.

The study is published in the journal Ecosphere by researchers at Oregon State University and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The research builds on an OSU study that determined that bears are the primary seed dispersers of berry-producing shrubs in Alaska.

In southeastern Alaska, brown and black bears are plentiful because of salmon. Bears frequently supplement their salmon-based diet with fruit as they build their fat stores for winter hibernation. As a result, their seed-filled scats are found throughout the landscape.

“Salmon can have a far greater impact on the ecosystem than we thought”, said study lead author Yasaman Shakeri, an Oregon State University graduate now with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “Our study shows how small mammals can benefit indirectly from salmon through high bear densities that salmon support and the resulting seed-filled scats on the landscape. Not only are small mammals spending months feeding and fighting for the seeds in scats, they’re also scattering the seeds on the landscape, which allows some of the seeds to become future fruiting plants.”

The researchers placed motion-triggered cameras near bear scats in the upper Chilkat Valley, 30 miles north of Haines, from June to October in 2014 and 2015. They recorded visits to the scat made by small mammals and birds.

Northwestern deer mice made 4,295 total visits to the scats — an average of 8.5 a day. Northern red-backed voles visited 1,099 times at an average of 2.2 times a day. In addition to the cameras, the researchers also live-trapped and tagged small mammals to estimate their abundance and population densities.

The team collected bear scats on roads and trails within the study area from July-September in 2014 and 2015 and analyzed the nutritional characteristics found in the 12 species of fruit found in the scats, including gross energy, total dietary fiber, crude protein and crude fat. From those samples, they estimated digestible energy per seed.

The energy within the seeds in bear scats can be a significant portion of the energy budget of rodents. For example, a single bear scat contained 73,230 devil’s club seeds, which was capable of meeting the daily energy requirements of 91 deer mice. In coastal Alaska riparian areas, bears are potentially capable of indirectly subsidizing the energy needs of 45-65 percent of local deer mouse populations, Shakeri said.

In addition to consuming the seeds at the site, the mice appear to scatter-hoard the seeds in much the same way that gray squirrels scatter-hoard acorns, said Taal Levi, an ecologist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and co-author on the study. Scatter-hoarding is creating a large number of small hoards, as opposed to a large hoard found in a single place.

“This process is called secondary seed dispersal and forgotten seeds can have much higher survival than unburied seeds”, Levi said.

The study was also co-authored by Kevin White, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife provided funding for the study.

Spanish king ‘insulted’, rapper flees to Belgium


In this tweet, with its photo from Belgium, Spanish rapper Josep Valtònyc said (translated):

Today is a great day. Spain no longer plays in the World Cup but I’m still in the quarterfinals. Press conference in Brussels today at 5pm commenting on the match and key moves. [Spanish sports journalist Tomàs] Roncero, do not cry.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The rapper Valtònyc, who was convicted of lèse majesté in Spain, reported yesterday to the Belgian judiciary in Ghent. Spain has submitted an extradition request to Belgium. Valtònyc may await the decision in freedom, provided that he remains in Belgium.

José Miquel Arenas Beltrán, as the 24-year-old rapper is called really, is the first artist since the fall of dictator Franco in 1975 who was convicted of lèse majesté. At the end of May he had to start a prison sentence of 3.5 years because of insulting the Spanish crown

Valtònyc fled after his conviction. He wrote on Twitter that “disobedience is an obligation towards this fascist state“. …

Puigdemont

At a press conference, recorded by the El Mundo newspaper, Valtònyc said yesterday that he was inspired by the Catalan separatist leader Puigdemont. He fled to Belgium after the organization of an … independence referendum and now awaits an extradition request in Germany. Puigdemont expressed sympathy for Valtònyc’s situation.

The rapper said yesterday that he does not regret his lyrics. He also says he is not afraid of extradition. “I am not in danger, I have not done anything wrong. Here (in Belgium), they sing against the king and nothing happens. Spain is an exception in that respect. What happens there is not normal.”