Wren singing in Sweden


This video is about a wren singing in Sweden.

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German government in crisis as secret police denies neonazi violence


This video is about a neonazi violent manhunt, especially against Afghan war refugees, in Chemnitz in Germany on 26 August 2018.

Among the slogans shouted by the Chemnitz nazi rioters, heard in this video, were (translated):

Disgusting subhuman cattle [to refugees]!
For every dead German there will be a dead foreigner!
See how they run, these pests, amazing!
Foreigners out!
Get out of our city!
German, social and national!

From Reuters news agency today:

Divided German leaders to meet next week over spymaster’s future

* Interior minister says he has confidence in Maassen

* SPD says domestic intelligence chief must go

* Seehofer jeered in parliament as he defends Maassen (Updates with additional talks planned Tuesday)

By Andreas Rinke

BERLIN, Sept 13 – The leaders of Germany’s ruling parties said they would meet on Tuesday to try to agree whether the embattled head of the domestic intelligence agency should keep his job, coalition sources told Reuters.

Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), has been under fire since a newspaper interview last week in which he questioned the authenticity of video footage showing right-wing extremists hounding migrants.

The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), coalition partners of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, want to fire Maassen. Conservative interior minister Horst Seehofer says he sees no reason to do so.

Merkel, Seehofer and SPD leader Andrea Nahles met at the chancellery for two hours on Thursday, but agreed to maintain silence on the issue until a follow-up meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the sources said.

The debate over Maassen’s future adds to tensions already plaguing Merkel’s loveless coalition, which nearly split earlier this year over immigration policy.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, an SPD member, said Maassen had lost credibility and that consequences should follow.

“Whoever heads up a security institution in our country must enjoy full confidence and it is clear that this confidence no longer exists and there must be consequences”, Scholz, a Social Democrat, told reporters. …

The BfV denied a report by the public broadcaster ARD that said Maassen had told a lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) about parts of his agency’s annual report before it was published.

Jeering and shouting could be heard from lawmakers as Seehofer mounted his defence of Maassen, whose questioning of the video’s authenticity was greeted with incredulity by some politicians and reporters on the scene.

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s government said on Tuesday it would replace the head of its domestic intelligence agency who has faced accusations of harboring far-right sympathies, putting an end to a row that exposed divisions in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. Hans-Georg Maassen, who had questioned the authenticity of video footage showing far-right radicals hounding migrants in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, will become a senior official at the interior ministry once he leaves the BfV agency, the government said in a statement: here.

By Ulrich Rippert in Germany, 20 September 2018:

The coalition committee met Tuesday evening under the auspices of the three party leaders and agreed that Maaßen would be replaced as BfV president. However, far from being dismissed, he would be given a position as state secretary in Seehofer’s Interior Ministry.

Maaßen was not fired, he was given a promotion. He now holds a high position in the ministry that has powers of oversight and direction of the BfV. The coalition leaders declared that Maaßen would not be responsible for overseeing the BfV in his new post, but Seehofer made clear the worthlessness of this claim by stating repeatedly that he valued Maaßen’s work as a leading political official.

The indications are that Maaßen will function as Seehofer’s right-hand man. He will receive a much higher salary as a state secretary than he did as head of the BfV.

UPDATE 21 September 2018: many angry reactions to Maassen’s promotion, still trouble in government coalition.

Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche’s abuse victim speaks


Sogyal Lakar, aka Sogyal Rinpoche, with Buddha sculpture in 2016, EPA photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Researcher on Buddhist: Sogyal Rinpoche abused students seriously

Victims of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers will meet the Dalai Lama tomorrow and will give him a booklet with their testimonies. It contains several stories of ex-followers of Tibetan Buddhist Sogyal Lakar, with as his title Sogyal Rinpoche (“the precious one” [roughly “the Reverend”]). He has been accused since 1992 of all kinds of abuse of his students.

The French justice department investigates the case and has made a request for legal assistance to the Netherlands to hear victims here. After six years of research by the French gendarmerie, the file has been at the office of the Montpellier prosecutor since the beginning of this year. According to French media, the prosecutor is conducting a judicial preliminary investigation. He told the NOS that he is “currently not communicating about this matter”.

Apart from the French investigation, Sogyal’s international organization Rigpa hired a British law firm to investigate allegations. This happened after eight (ex-)followers had written in a letter last year that they were sick of Sogyal’s misbehaviour. The lama has abused some of his students “physically, sexually and emotionally” seriously, noted the hired firm Lewis Silkin last week.

In a statement, several international Rigpa boards write that they “deeply regret and apologize for the pain experienced by former and current members”.

Sogyal has written the bestseller The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and after the Dalai Lama he is the best known Buddhist in the world. His headquarters Lérab Ling in southern France was opened in 2008 by the Dalai Lama. Rigpa has about 130 centers in 40 countries. From the beginning of the 1980s until last year, Sogyal traveled the world with his retinue to preside over retreats. In the Netherlands, the organization has 350 members and centers in Groningen and Amsterdam. Sogyal last presided over a retreat here in 2017.

Sogyal is certainly not the only accused teacher. According to researcher Rob Hogendoorn, 20 of the 45 affiliated organizations of the Buddhist Union of the Netherlands (BUN) have been discredited because of accusations of sexual abuse by the spiritual leader(s).

Oane Bijlsma, initiator of the request to meet the Dalai Lama, was heard by the Amsterdam vice squad on behalf of the French authorities. “They wanted to know everything, and the interview took 5.5 hours”, she says. From mid-2011, Bijlsma was a volunteer for a year at Rigpa. She says that Sogyal made all kinds of sexual allusions. So he came to her one evening with an image of a deity with a huge erection in his hand.

“He grabbed the back of my head, pressed the image in my face and said, look, look! Then he started to laugh.” Because of this experience, Bijlsma left Rigpa. To others, much worse happened, tell ex-students.

Sogyal and some of his 'inner circle' women about ten years ago

The report by the British law firm shows that several people from the group closest to Sogyal – his ‘inner circle’ – were beaten daily, some of them bloody. “I have heard convincing evidence that he used several followers as punching bags to vent his own frustrations and anger”, writes researcher Karen Baxter. In addition, she found evidence that Sogyal had beaten someone unconscious and someone sustained a concussion.

Sogyal used his position to “force, intimidate and manipulate young women to give him sexual favours”. They were also offered to other lamas that came by for sexual services, Baxter observes.

These were all lessons on their path to enlightenment, their guru told them. Enlightenment is the ultimate goal of Buddhists. Fully dedicated pupils could achieve enlightenment even within one lifetime. The way to reach that was complete obedience. If pupils did not show that, then the teacher-student bond (“samaya”) would be broken and, eg, all kinds of bad things would happen to their families.

Depression and hallucinations

Witnesses state in the British report that Sogyal’s behaviour led to post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, chronic insomnia, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. Baxter concludes that Sogyal let his students go so far that they were “on the verge of emotional collapse”.

Pupils who reported internal abuses received ‘Rigpa Therapy’, named after their organization. According to witnesses, a ‘therapist’ told them that the cause of their problems were family relationships, and not what Sogyal did. Many vulnerable women came to Rigpa, sometimes traumatized because of earlier sexual violence.

Not only Sogyal himself can be blamed, writes lawyer Baxter. Other high-ranking people in the organization knew of at least a few of these issues. “They have not succeeded in tackling them, so they put others at risk.”

Three of the international directors, who have been Sogyal’s most faithful followers for decades, are resigning as a result of the report. In the Netherlands, since last year “we work towards a new board”, the chairman Wim Marseille says. The secretary, the Groningen lawyer Daan Meerburg, will retire “within the foreseeable future” after 23 years. Last year the organization started a “transformation process that helps prevent repetition”. Thus Sogyal retreated as “spiritual director”. He is on retreat in Asia and in treatment for colon cancer, writes Marseille.

Report to authorities

In their statement, the Rigpa boards write that they “take full responsibility to ensure that Rigpa offers a safe environment for everyone”. The boards do not say whether they will actually do something with the recommendations in the report. There was no answer to questions by the NOS.

Two of those recommendations to Rigpa are to “take steps to dissociate themselves completely from Sogyal” and to stop contacting him with students. Rigpa’s directors in different countries also have to consider to what extent they are obliged to “report all cases mentioned in the report to law enforcement authorities or relevant regulators”. There is no mention of the latter in Rigpa’s statement.

Brown thrasher’s first time at New York feeder


This video from New York state in the USA says about itself:

Brown Thrasher Makes First Appearance On Cornell Lab FeederWatch cam – Sept. 13, 2018

Watch a Brown Thrasher make a quick pit stop to the Cornell Lab FeederWatch cam this morning. This marks the first time we’ve seen this species on cam!

Brown Thrashers are uncommon visitors to the woods surrounding the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; they prefer tangled thickets, hedgerows, or forest edges where they can rummage through leaf litter under cover of dense vegetation.

Watch LIVE at http://AllAboutBirds.org/CornellFeeders for news, updates, and more information about the pond and its surroundings.

Chelsea Manning speaks in New Zealand


This 8 September 2018 video says aboout itself:

Former US soldier and perhaps the world’s most famous whistleblower, Chelsea Manning, has landed in New Zealand, declaring that President Trump is “not unusual” in American politics.

Ms Manning was denied a visa to Australia, and the [right-wing] National Party said the same should happen here. But she has pushed ahead with her plans to speak in Auckland.

“It’s quite inspiring to be out here. I’m glad you all let me in”, she said, speaking exclusively to 1 NEWS. …

[She] was caught releasing thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks in 2010.

Among the leaks was video showing the US military gunning down civilians in Iraq.

Ms Manning was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment for putting the United States’ security at risk, but after seven years in jail, then-president Barack Obama released her.

“On a personal level I’m extremely thankful”, Ms Manning said. However, on a political level she said Mr Obama was a compromised leader.

And as for the current US leader, Ms Manning said, “I want to be clear on this, Donald Trump is not an aberration. He is not an abnormality. He is not unusual in American politics.”

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

Chelsea Manning speaks in New Zealand

13 September 2018

On September 8 and 9 whistleblower Chelsea Manning spoke to meetings attended by hundreds of people in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand.

The Australian government denied entry to Manning, who had been scheduled to appear in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. She defied this attack on free speech and freedom of movement by addressing Australian audiences via live video link.

New Zealand’s opposition National Party and sections of the media had demanded a similar ban. The Labour Party-led government, however, faced with widespread public support for Manning, allowed her to enter the country.

In 2010, Manning, then 22-years-old and a US army intelligence analyst, known as Bradley Manning, leaked hundreds of thousands of US military documents and embassy cables to WikiLeaks. This courageous action exposed war crimes carried out by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the murder of journalists and innocent civilians shown in the “Collateral Murder” video.

WSWS reporters attended the event in Wellington, where Manning began by talking about her difficult early life, including periods of homelessness as a teenager, followed by her decision to join the army. Her father had also been in the military.

Manning said she had not been anti-war before seeing the brutal reality of the US war in Iraq. After arriving there in late 2009 she explained, “I started to slowly realise, I’m not working with statistics. These are people’s lives… I processed everything that was happening over time and I couldn’t separate my job from the reality, I couldn’t do that anymore… We couldn’t keep doing what we were doing.” Manning decided to leak the military documents in early 2010 while on leave in the US.

She described the brutal conditions she experienced while being detained in solitary confinement, including in “a cage” on a military base. “I had no sense of time… I was completely cut off from the outside world”, she said. “I went two months without even knowing whether or not my family knew I was alive.” Eventually, after being court-martialed, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Manning’s sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama and she was released in 2017, but not pardoned. She has spent seven years, most of her adult life, in prison.

“A lot of people want to focus on what I went through, but in the US there’s 2.2 million people in prison”, she said. She explained that those behind bars supported and “stood up for each other” and “the most violent people in prison were the prison guards”.

Asked if she felt she had got her life back after her unexpected release, Manning said she did not know. She pointed to the militarisation of every-day life in the US: “I have freedom of movement, that’s different from being in prison. But we’ve got razor-wire walls on the border now, we have police running around our neighbourhoods with AR-15s [assault rifles].

“The reason I was so bothered by what we were doing in Iraq was that we were the occupying force”, Manning continued. “I see that now, in the US, we’re our own occupying force; we have a domestic military occupation, especially in the most vulnerable communities. Trans people are disproportionately affected by that, so are people of colour and immigrants.”

Manning was interviewed for just over an hour by former Labour Party MP Georgina Beyer, the world’s first openly transgender parliamentarian, before taking questions from the audience.

Beyer criticised the Australian government’s decision to ban Manning from the country, saying “they suck up to the US”. She then admitted that New Zealand was also part of the US-led Five Eyes intelligence network.

In fact, Beyer herself was part of the 1999–2008 Labour government, which greatly strengthened New Zealand’s military and intelligence relations with the US and sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. NZ’s Special Air Service forces have been implicated in war crimes in Afghanistan.

The current Labour government of Jacinda Ardern has kept NZ forces in both countries and is further boosting military spending and collaboration with the US, including in the military build-up against China and North Korea.

Manning elaborated that “different groups of people are dealing with different problems that are coming from the same source: the same military, police and intelligence apparatus, this gigantic whirling death machine that we’ve built over several decades… So what we can do is be in solidarity with each other, even though we’re affected in different ways.”

The United States, she continued, “has the largest military in the world. We spend $700 billion a year right now, up from only $550 a couple of years ago” along with the largest prison system and intelligence apparatus.

Manning answered numerous questions from audience members, many of whom thanked her for coming to New Zealand and expressed appreciation for her courage. …

“And the things I do know about my own case, I can’t talk about because the court-martial’s classified. Even though I want to talk about stuff, I can’t, and it places me in an uncomfortable box.”

Following the publication of Manning’s leaks, WikiLeaks has been labelled a “hostile” organisation by Democrats and Republicans in the US. Its founder, Assange, has been persecuted and there are plans to imprison him for the “crime” of revealing US war crimes and anti-democratic operations throughout the world. In March, Ecuador’s government sought to appease Washington by cutting off Assange’s internet access, isolating him from the outside world.

Another audience member noted that millions have died due to US-led wars in the Middle East since 2001, yet virtually nothing is said in the media about “the horrors in Yemen, what’s happened in Raqqa [Syria], and Mosul [Iraq].”

Manning agreed that the population was kept in the dark: “You’re not supposed to know about it. It’s supposed to be so overwhelming and complex and unimaginable… that’s why it’s so hard to do activism against [war].”

Asked what she thought about the recent op-ed in the New York Times by an anonymous member of the “resistance” within the Trump administration, Manning replied: “It’s all a sideshow, in my opinion”, adding that “most people in America” did not care about “the palace intrigue” and “half the things that are being debated on television.

“You see people worried about issues in their community, and it’s stemming from the same systemic problem [as] 20 years ago.” The Trump administration, she said, was the outcome of “systemic problems” in the US.

Asked to elaborate on her recent decision to contest the Democratic Party’s primary campaign for the Maryland Senate seat, Manning said she wanted to use the campaign as a “platform… to talk about things that no other candidate in the entire Democratic Party was talking about or even suggesting. It was messy.”

At one point she and her campaign team discussed whether they should “try to win” through focus groups and “figure out what people want to hear, or do we want to stick to our principles?” They made a unanimous decision to stick to “the platform that we believed in”, including the abolition of ICE, rolling back prisons and stop arming the police with military weapons.

Manning explained that she would knock on peoples’ doors and “they would tell me their life story” and posed hard questions to which “I didn’t have answers, sometimes… I had really intense moments on people’s doorsteps.” Not knowing what to do, she said she often felt like hugging people. Following the campaign, Manning decided she could not see herself being a politician in the present system, but considered herself an activist.

Five pine martens eating bird peanut butter


This 13 September 2018 video shows five pine martens eating bird peanut butter. Probably a female and her four youngsters.

Ms Ingeborg Meijers-Fietje made this video in her garden, close to the edge of Sellingen forest in Groningen province in the Netherlands.