Porcelain fungi in autumn woodland

Gooilust, 19 October 2018

This photo, like the others in this blog posts, is from 19 October 2018; from the woodlands of Gooilust nature reserve.

Porcelain fungi, 18 October 2018

There were porcelain fungi, like these ones …

Porcelain fungi, on 18 October 2018

… and these ones.

Fungi, 18 October 2018

And yet more fungi.


Saudi princely, French Macronist oppression of opposition

This video from France says about itself:


30 January 2018

In this extract from Jean-Luc Mélenchon‘s Weekly Review N°52, which was released on January 27th 2018 on Youtube, he discusses Macron‘s guilty silence on Erdogan’s attack on Afrin. This attack targeted the Kurds who have been fighting ISIS heroically. In spite of this, Erdogan was officially received at the Elysée Palace by Emmanuel Macron, and the government did not condemn the attack. Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the president of the France Insoumise parliamentary group in the French National Assembly.

This video includes the intervention of the France Insoumise deputy Clémentine Autain, who asked a question about this attack to the government, and the intervention of Paul Molac, a deputy from Emmanuel Macron’s party, who also expressed his surprise regarding the silence of the government on the Turkish attack.

By Alex Lantier in France:

The raid on Unsubmissive France and the global rise of state repression

19 October 2018

Yesterday, gruesome details emerged on the torture and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul that shocked millions of people around the world.

Recordings from the consulate confirm that a team of Saudi operatives beat, tortured, killed and dismembered the journalist, an opponent of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The details of the killing are abhorrent. It was unclear, the New York Times wrote, “whether Mr Khashoggi was killed before his fingers were removed and his body dismembered.” Once he was dead, a Saudi forensic specialist expressly sent to Istanbul began helping the others to dismember and hide the remains—advising them to “listen to music” in order to relax while cutting up the corpse.

The Saudi oil monarchy’s resort to murder to destroy a political opponent, and try to terrorize the rest into silence, evokes anger and revulsion internationally. The Khashoggi murder is, however, only the most grotesque expression of a growing resort by the ruling elites to police-state repression, in order to intimidate rising political opposition.

Early Tuesday morning in Paris, thousands of kilometers from Istanbul, a police squad armed with assault rifles and bullet-proof vests barged into the apartment of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the Unsubmissive France (LFI) party. Fifteen other squads descended on the homes of other LFI officials, and on LFI party headquarters. When Mélenchon arrived at LFI headquarters, where police were confiscating materials and downloading all the data on LFI’s computers, they illegally denied Mélenchon and other LFI members entry.

When Mélenchon and other LFI deputies from the National Assembly forced open the doors, they faced a squad of police, one of whom tackled an LFI member as Mélenchon demanded they leave.

The next day, an orchestrated campaign began in the media, denouncing Mélenchon for posing as a “political martyr”, in Libération’s words, and the courts began investigating him on charges of obstructing justice and assaulting police.

The WSWS unequivocally condemns this outrageous police-state assault. The attack on LFI, a party with hundreds of thousands of sympathizers that received millions of left-wing votes in last year’s presidential elections, aims to intimidate broader opposition to the austerity and police-state policies of French President Emmanuel Macron. It came after two weeks in which Macron, despised as the “president of the rich”, tried and failed to name a government; due to Macron’s unpopularity, politicians refused to join his cabinet, fearing it could end their political careers.

The WSWS has fundamental political differences with Mélenchon, which it has documented extensively. However, he is a leading politician who still commands substantial support. His right to conduct his politics and to protect his headquarters is of fundamental importance.

The interior ministry’s decision to send heavily-armed police to Mélenchon’s apartment, as if he were a terrorist bomber prepared to shoot it out with police, is an unmistakable threat to masses of people in France, across Europe and beyond. A decade after the 2008 Wall Street crash, the ruling elites are aware that their grotesque wealth and policies of austerity and war are overwhelmingly unpopular. Weak governments take desperate measures, and they aim to use ruthlessly the police-state powers built up during the “war on terror” against political opposition.

Like the Saudi regime, the Macron government and governments across Europe, desperate in the face of enormous popular opposition, are lashing out. Last year, the Spanish government sent thousands of police to Catalonia to assault thousands of peaceful voters in the October 2017 Catalan independence referendum. After suspending the elected Catalan regional government, Madrid jailed top Catalan politicians for organizing the referendum or calling for peaceful protests against Madrid’s crackdown, holding them as political prisoners.

And, just after the police raid on Mélenchon and mass anti-fascist demonstrations opposing her government in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that as the European elections get underway, her government will step up surveillance of opposition parties. She said she would “create guidelines for parties which actively spread disinformation in their campaigns”, in order to tighten “domestic security.”

The principal target of this censorship and police-state repression is the nascent political opposition in the international working class to capitalism. One diplomat told the Washington Post that the Saudi regime, as it sets about murdering its critics, knows “that if meaningful jobs were not found for Saudi Arabia’s young and highly educated population, and if the oil-dominated economy were not diversified, ‘they were doomed.’”

And in the most advanced capitalist countries, the radicalization of the working class is proceeding rapidly. Amid mass unemployment a decade of deep austerity since the 2008 crash, the European Union commissioned a poll last year that found that most European youth under 35 would like to join a mass uprising against the social order. In America, similar polls found that young workers prefer socialism and communism over capitalism.

The raids on LFI are a warning: if the ruling elites internationally accept to use such brutal methods against Mélenchon, a former government minister and well-known figure in official politics, they will try to move ruthlessly against the workers and youth.

The central task emerging today is the construction in the working class of an international movement against militarism and police-state repression. In the face of the universal turn to mass spying and police repression by capitalist oligarchies desperate to defend their privileges, the way forward for the working class to defend democratic rights is in a struggle for socialism.

The unanimous turn against Mélenchon in the French media, many parts of which once styled themselves as socialists, is a warning. The layers of the affluent middle class drawn from the post-1968 student movement that dominated what passed for “left” politics have shifted far to the right and cast their lot in with the police state. The struggle to defend democratic rights requires above all the struggle for the political independence of the working class from other class forces.

In particular, while the WSWS unconditionally and unequivocally defends Mélenchon against Macron’s repression, it maintains its criticisms of his policies …

Instead, fundamental principles in the struggle against police-state dictatorship include:

  • The struggle against police-state dictatorship must be based on the working class, the great revolutionary force in society, uniting behind it all progressive elements in the population.
  • It must be anti-capitalist and socialist, as there can be no serious defense of democracy except in the fight to end the dictatorship of finance capital and put an end to the economic system that is the fundamental cause of militarism and police-state rule.
  • It must therefore, of necessity, be completely and unequivocally independent of, and hostile to, all political parties and organizations of the capitalist class.
  • It must, above all, be international, mobilizing the vast power of the working class in a unified global struggle against imperialism.

Green honeycreeper couple in Panama

This video says about itself:

Green Honeycreeper Pair Flash Brilliant Plumages In Panama – Oct. 18, 2018

Take a break and enjoy this fancy pair of Green Honeycreepers on the Panama Fruit Feeder cam.

These brilliant tanagers are common and widespread, and they can often be found in pairs or foraging with mixed species flocks.

The male is a brighter, bluer green in color, with a broad black mask. Females are a more uniform yellowish grass-green.

Look for their yellow, decurved bills which they use to forage on fruit, nectar, and arthropods.

Watch LIVE 24/7 with highlights and viewing resources at http://allaboutbirds.org/panamafeeders

The Panama Fruit Feeder Cam is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Canopy Family.

Australian right-wing government embraces white supremacism

This Australian satiric video says about itself:

PAULINE HANSON Send Up – I’m a Very Caring Racist – Skye Brooks

The Racist, Sexist Lying Hypocritical Bigot Mix – By Skye Brooks. Performed 1999, The Comedy Club, North Melbourne.

By Mike Head in Australia:

Australian government backs far-right “OK to be white” motion in Senate

19 October 2018

Last Monday, Liberal-National Coalition senators voted unanimously for a resolution by Senator Pauline Hanson, the leader of the anti-immigrant One Nation Party, promoting a notorious white supremacist slogan. In a revealing political stand, they openly joined far-right senators in backing Hanson’s “it is okay to be white” motion, which was only narrowly defeated, by 28 votes to 31.

The vote caused widespread outrage, and attracted international media attention, because it so nakedly aligned the government with the type of far-right and fascistic elements emerging in Europe and the United States. With a crucial by-election in the Sydney electorate of Wentworth this Saturday, there was also evident nervousness that the line-up with Hanson could cost the Liberal Party votes.

Recently-installed Prime Minister Scott Morrison publicly back-tracked the next day, saying the Senate vote was “regrettable”. Cabinet ministers blamed an inexplicable “administrative error”. At the suggestion of the opposition Labor Party, the Senate vote was placed back on the notice paper so that Coalition senators could reverse their vote on Tuesday.

Whatever the short-term tactical calculations behind the about-face, the fact that the government embraced the slogan, long championed by alt-right and neo-Nazi groups in the US and elsewhere, has a far-reaching significance. It underscores the lurch to the right within the entire political establishment signalled by the August 24 backroom removal of Morrison’s predecessor Malcolm Turnbull.

By lining up with Hanson, who has agitated against Muslims, Asians and Aborigines for two decades, the Morrison leadership is pitching to a still-small but vocal socially conservative and xenophobic base. Above all, it is seeking to divert mounting political and social discontent throughout the working class in reactionary nationalist and racist directions.

Hanson’s motion stated: “That the Senate acknowledges: (a) the deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation; and (b) that it is okay to be white.” Thus, it linked a well-known white supremacist slogan to the supposed defence of “Western civilisation”—itself code for anti-Islamic and anti-Chinese xenophobia that feeds into support for US-led militarism in the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.

Monday’s vote was no “mistake”. Among the 23 Coalition senators voting for the motion were some of the government’s most senior figures. They included deputy Senate leader and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash, Resources Minister Matt Canavan, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and deputy National Party leader Bridget McKenzie.

They joined hands with Hanson and her fellow One Nation senator, Peter Georgiou; Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi; the “free market” libertarian David Leyonjhelm of the Liberal Democratic Party; and Fraser Anning of Katter’s Australian Party. Anning recently devoted his maiden speech to calling for a “final solution” to ban non-European immigration and reintroduce the “White Australia” policy.

Moreover, the Coalition senators voted according to instructions from the office of Attorney-General Christian Porter, who quickly tweeted his support for their stand. “The Government Senators’ actions in the Senate this afternoon confirm that the Government deplores racism of any kind”, he said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, a central figure in the ousting of Turnbull, echoed Porter, tweeting: “The Government indeed deplores racism of any kind.”

Porter later claimed that his staff issued the voting instructions, without his knowledge. Cormann said it was just an “embarrassing” mix up. But Hanson had tabled the motion last month, and promoted it in an interview on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News, giving the government ample time to consider its response.

Equally implausible is any suggestion that the government was unaware of the white supremacist connotations of the “it’s OK to be white” slogan. Far-right groups, including the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, have long used the slogan to stoke racial division as a means of splitting and diverting the struggles of the working class.

White supremacist propaganda has promoted the slogan since at least 2001, and it was given new prominence around October 2017, when 4chan message board users began broadcasting it as a means of popularising alt-right themes. The world’s most prominent neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, promoted the campaign, and former KKK grand wizard David Duke claimed it was “sweeping” the US.

Most recently, when Canadian alt-right activist Lauren Southern visited Australia in July, and met with Hanson, she provocatively sported a T-shirt declaring “it’s OK to be white.”

Significantly, the Morrison government’s decision to back away from openly fomenting jingoism, at least for now, was condemned by some Coalition MPs, notably those who agitated for the dumping of Turnbull.

Former military general Senator Jim Molan said the government looked “weak” in blaming its initial support for the motion on an administrative error. Lower house backbencher Luke Howarth told Sky News: “They should have just come out and said straightforward that the reason that they voted for it is because when you read what Senator Hanson said, in itself, (it) is fine.”

Even after the government reversed its vote in the Senate, another Queensland MP, George Christensen, reiterated his support for the “it’s OK to be white” proposition.

The attempt to whip up nationalism, and anti-Chinese sentiment in particular, has been brought to the very centre of official Australian politics.

Under Turnbull, with Labor’s full backing, the government pushed through draconian “foreign interference” laws. It announced new “Australian values” and English language tests for immigrants, and presided over a witch hunt against members of parliament who were entitled to any foreign citizenship.

But Turnbull, a member of the financial elite, opposed efforts by the Liberal Party’s most right-wing faction, centred around ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, to fully shift the party behind the most extreme right-wing … .

When Hanson staged a provocative anti-Muslim stunt in the Senate in August 2017, wearing a burqa to agitate for a ban on the Islamic headdress, government ministers joined their Labor Party and Greens colleagues in feigning outrage. Turnbull also criticised the racist speech of Fraser Anning.

Since Turnbull’s ouster, the refashioning of the Liberal and National parties to the right has accelerated. Morrison has flagged proposals such as forcing new arrivals to live and work in designated zones of the country in a blatant attempt to blame migrants for the soaring living costs and deteriorating basic infrastructure that confront millions of working class people.

At the same time, Morrison has aligned Australian policy unequivocally with the Trump administration’s “America First” aggression. This week Morrison proposed following the US in shifting the country’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Turnbull, by contrast, had been treated with suspicion in Washington because of his efforts to shore up relations with China, Australian capitalism’s biggest export market.

Amid the outcry over the Hanson motion, there was much hypocrisy from the Labor Party and the Greens, who urged Coalition MPs to change their votes. As much as the Coalition, however, they are responsible for creating the economic and political conditions in which far-right elements can gain traction among segments of the population.

Decades of worsening living standards and ever-more glaring social inequality, imposed by Coalition and Greens-backed Labor governments alike, have permitted nationalist agitators like Hanson and Bob Katter to posture as opponents of the “elites” and champions of those impoverished by them.

Since 2001, Labor and Coalition governments alike have used the bogus “war on terror” as the pretext for participating in criminal wars in the Middle East, and eviscerating fundamental civil liberties. In 2011, Labor committed Australia to backing the confrontational US military build-up in Asia, which has escalated under Trump into open trade war and preparations for war.

Against the danger of war and the promotion of fascistic elements, the only progressive alternative is the fight for the unity of the international working class, in a common struggle for the socialist reorganisation of society in the interests of all, not the profit dictates of the corporate elite.

The author also recommends:

Australian government flags forcing new immigrants to live in designated zones
[13 October 2018]

Right-wing senator calls for a “White Australia” immigration policy
[16 August 2018]

Right-wing Australian senator stages anti-Muslim “stunt” in federal parliament
[19 August 2017]

A revealing editorial appeared last week in the Australian, the Murdoch media’s national flagship, welcoming the announcement by former Australian Labor Party leader Mark Latham that he had joined Senator Pauline Hanson’s extreme right-wing One Nation: here.

A white supremacist pleaded guilty to killing a black man with a sword as part of an attack that authorities said was intended to incite a race war in the United States.

Dinosaur age mosasaurs, video

This 19 October 2018 video says about itself:

Mosasaurs 101 | National Geographic

Mosasaurs were Earth’s last great marine reptiles. Learn about the surprising places they’d hunt, how some species dwarfed even the Tyrannosaurus rex, and how key physical adaptations allowed these reptiles to become a prehistoric apex predator.