Pleistocene Park in Siberia


This 5 January 2019 video says about itself:

Pleistocene Park is a nature reserve on the Kolyma River south of Chersky in the Sakha Republic, Russia, in northeastern Siberia.

It is a 16 km2 (established in 1996) scientific nature reserve consisting of willow brush, grasslands, swamps, forests and a multitude of lakes. The average temperature in January is about –33 °C and in July +12 °C; annual precipitation is 200–250 mm.

The reserve is surrounded by a 600 km2 buffer zone that will be added to the park by the regional government once the animals have successfully established themselves. Pleistocene Park is owned and administered by a non-profit corporation, the Pleistocene Park Association.

An attempt is being made to recreate the northern subarctic steppe grassland ecosystem that flourished in the area during the last glacial period. The primary aim of Pleistocene Park is to recreate the mammoth steppe (ancient taiga/tundra grasslands that were widespread in the region during the last ice age).

The key concept is that animals, rather than climate, maintained that ecosystem. Reintroducing large herbivores to Siberia would then initiate a positive feedback loop promoting the reestablishment of grassland ecosystems. It will test the hypothesis that repopulating with large herbivores (and predators) can restore rich grasslands ecosystems, as expected if overhunting, and not climate change, was primarily responsible for the extinction of wildlife and the disappearance of the grasslands at the end of the Pleistocene epoch.

Here the hypothesis is that the change from tundra to grassland will result in a raised ratio of energy emission to energy absorption of the area, leading to less thawing of permafrost and thereby less emission of greenhouse gases. To study this, large herbivores have been released, and their effect on the local fauna is being monitored. Preliminary results point at the ecologically low-grade tundra biome being converted into a productive grassland biome, and at the energy emission of the area being raised.

This argument is the basis for rewilding Pleistocene Park’s landscape with megafauna that were previously abundant in the area, as evidenced by the fossil record. The grassland-steppe ecosystem that dominated Siberia during the Pleistocene disappeared 10,000 years ago and was replaced by a mossy and forested tundra and taiga ecosystem.

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American journalist William Arkin resigns from pro-war NBC


This 4 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

NBC News Contributor Calls Out Corporate Media’s Pro-War Slant In Resignation Letter

Longtime NBC and MSNBC news contributor William Arkin issued a scathing resignation letter to the network where he called them out for their obvious pro-war slant. And it isn’t just the NBC News family – all corporate media outlets, regardless of their political slant, love a good war or other international conflict. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this issue and Arkin’s resignation.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

NBC journalist resigns, blasting media as “defender of Washington and the system”

5 January 2019

William Arkin, a veteran reporter and security consultant for NBC News, resigned last week with a scathing and lengthy email exposing the role of the network and the broader corporate media as a stenographer and apologist for Washington’s vast military and intelligence apparatus under conditions of endless war.

Describing himself as “completely out of sync with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter nor interested in the Trump circus”, Akin said, “I also found myself the lone voice that was anti-nuclear and anti-military.”

He clarified that anti-military for him meant “opinionated but also highly knowledgeable, somewhat akin to a movie critic, loving my subject but also not shy about making judgements regarding the flops and the losers.”

Arkin recounts that he had “argued endlessly with MSNBC about all things national security for years.” He is a military veteran who served in US Army intelligence in the 1970s and went on to become a military consultant for both Greenpeace International and Human Rights Watch. He also worked as a lecturer at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies for US Air Force officers and advised the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other military and intelligence agencies.

In the early 1980s he authored a book titled Nuclear Battlefields revealing the locations where US and Soviet missiles were deployed, leading the Reagan administration to seek its suppression on secrecy grounds.

In 2003, working for NBC and the Los Angeles Times, Arkin exposed the bigoted anti-Muslim remarks made by a top military intelligence commander, General William “Jerry” Boykin, who publicly cast the “war on terrorism” as a religious war between Christianity and a “Satanic” Islam.

In 2012, he co-authored with Dana Priest of the Washington Post a series titled “Top Secret America”, an investigative report into the massive growth of a police-state domestic intelligence apparatus in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

In his resignation letter, Arkin says that at NBC he found himself in the “peculiar position of being a mere civilian among THE GENERALS,” the ex-military commanders that it and all of the broadcast and cable networks hired as their talking heads to spout out the official position on multiple US wars. He may well have added that the other prominent “civilian” employed as an expert commentator by NBC was the former director of the CIA, John Brennan.

Expressing barely concealed contempt for the military command and the generals venerated as indisputable experts and heroes on national television, he wrote:

“Despite being at ‘war’, no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict. And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the Petraeus’ and Wes Clarks’, or the so-called warrior monks like Mattis and McMaster, we’ve had more than a generation of national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently [have] done little of consequence. And yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly partisan formers who masquerade as ‘analysts.’ We do so ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one country in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous.”

He continued: “I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting.”

Reflecting on his years at NBC, “poking at the conventional wisdom”, Arkin acknowledged, “I feel like I’ve failed to convey this larger truth about the hopelessness of our way of doing things, especially disheartened to watch NBC and much of the rest of the news media somehow become a defender of Washington and the system.”

Particularly incisive in the email is Arkin’s critique of the role played by NBC and the rest of the corporate media after the election of Donald Trump: expressing outrage at the semi-criminal real estate speculator turned president’s outrageous tweets, while either ignoring or justifying the real crimes of American imperialism.

Instead of conducting independent reporting and investigations, he writes, it “got sucked into the tweeting vortex, increasingly lost in a directionless adrenaline rush, the national security and political version of leading the broadcast with every snow storm. And I would assert that in many ways NBC just began emulating the national security state itself—busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball is kept in play.”

While no admirer of Trump, whom he describes as “an ignorant and incompetent imposter”, Arkin makes the case that the criticism of the president—like the supposed opposition of the Democratic Party—has been that of a “defender of the government against Trump.” As a result, he argues, “the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength. Now it is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism.”

Arkin pointed to the media’s denunciations of “Trump’s various bumbling intuitions: his desire to improve relations with Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, to question why we are fighting in Africa, even in his attacks on the intelligence community and the FBI.”

The reaction of NBC, he charged, was to “mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war.”

“Really?” he continued. “We shouldn’t get out of Syria? We shouldn’t go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really [y]earn for the Cold War? And don’t even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?”

Arkin’s resignation is one more milestone in the transformation of the media into a more-or-less open propaganda arm of the US military and intelligence complex. This is a process that has been accelerating over the past quarter century of uninterrupted US wars of aggression, which has seen corporate media’s driving out of journalists whose reporting has cut across the interests of the military and intelligence establishment.

These have included Peter Arnett, fired for a 1998 report exposing the US use of nerve gas during the Vietnam War; Dan Rather, driven off the air after 44 years at CBS for a report exposing George W. Bush’s privileged treatment by the Texas Air National Guard assuring his evasion of combat in Vietnam; and Phil Donohue, who was fired by MSNBC for opposing the invasion of Iraq. The “embedding” of journalists with the US military in the US war against Iraq set the standard for subsequent reporting, in which the corporate media is relied upon to function as an arm of the Pentagon and the CIA.

Arkin’s email provides a damning indictment of the present state of the US media, straight from the “horse’s mouth.” His anger and disgust over the practices of his employers no doubt express the sentiments of wider layers of journalists, artists and intellectuals, alienated by the lies and criminality that pervade American capitalist society.

Dutch government deports refugees to Sudan dictatorship


Years ago, many years ago, quite some people in the political establishment and the ‘celebrities’ establishment in NATO countries used to point out the bloody violence by the Sudanese regime, especially in Darfur province. Correctly so. Incorrectly, they used the crimes of the dictatorship as pretext for trying to start yet another humanitarian oil war, this time by invading Sudan.

However, these establishment voices fell silent when dictator Bashir of Sudan helped NATO in another pseudo-humanitarian war, the 2011 war on Libya.

The silence became even louder after Bashir helped the European Union to stop refugees. And after Bashir sent soldiers, many of them child soldiers, to help in the Saudi Arabian regime-Pentagon war on the people of Yemen.

In the USA, a tortured Sudanese refugee was arrested by Donald Trump’s ICE.

NATO countries’ governments forcibly deport refugees to Sudan, where they are tortured. Eg, the Belgian government does so.

And so does the government of the Netherlands.

Deporting Darfur refugee Ezzedine Rahmatallah Mehimmid and other Sudanese refugees to the Bashir dictatorship today, with KLM and Kenya Airways aircraft.

The Bashir dictatorship, which right now with bloody violence tries to suppress a massive people’s revolt against it.

Brazilian toucan at parrot nestbox


This 5 January 2018 video shows a nest box in the nature reserve Recanto Ecológico Rio da Prata, Jardim, Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil.

The nest box is intended for the Arara Azul Project for rare blue macaw, aka hyacinth macaw, parrots.

However, it has attracted the attention of a toco toucan.

Neo-nazi paramilitary gang in Amberg, Germany


This 4 January 2019 German video, by the (right-wing) Bildzeitung daily, is about the NPD neo-nazi paramilitary gang in Amberg town.

From daily The Independent in Britain, 4 January 2018:

Far-right vigilante groups have reportedly started patrolling the streets of a German town …

So-called “neighbourhood defence groups”, sent by the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), had been seen patrolling in yellow vests in Amberg, the town’s mayor told local newspaper Mittelbayerische Zeitung.

The Independent claims ‘in yellow vests’. However, the Bild video shows that the nazi paramilitary men in fact wore black and pink vests. This is confounding the international anti-austerity yellow vest movement, including many people of colour, eg, in Paris, in the French colony Réunion, in Iraq, and among demonstrators against the dictatorship in Sudan, with racist nazis.

This tweet shows demonstrating anti-dictatorship Sudanese wearing yellow vests.

Yellow Vests movement in Haiti: here.

French Yellow vests spokeswoman Priscillia Ludosky

This photo shows French Priscillia Ludosky, often interviwede as Yellow Vests spokeswoman.

By Marianne Arens and Peter Schwarz in Germany:

Scuffles in German city of Amberg exploited to incite right-wing campaign

5 January 2019

The neo-Nazis are supported by large sections of the state apparatus and are being deliberately strengthened and encouraged”, states the foreword of the book Why Are They Back? by Christoph Vandreier, deputy leader of the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei, which was published last year in German by Mehring Verlag. Anyone who doubts this assessment should look at the reaction to the alleged excessive outbursts of violence by asylum seekers in the town of Amberg.

In the town, located in eastern Bavaria, four drunk teenagers between the ages of 17 and 19 allegedly attacked and beat passers-by. Twelve people reportedly suffered light injuries as a result, including a 17-year-old who received brief treatment in hospital due to a head wound.

Drunken teenagers getting into fights, and attacking bystanders is a regular occurrence in Germany and usually doesn’t even merit a mention in the local press. “The reaction is totally overblown”, Amberg mayor Michael Cerny, a [conservative] Christian Social Union politician, was compelled to admit to Spiegel Online. Due to the fact that asylum seekers were involved in the case, it was massively exaggerated by the national media.

Although the specifics of what took place remain unclear, politicians from Bavaria and Berlin have been lining up to outdo each other with proposals for more restrictive asylum laws. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) demanded, “When asylum seekers commit violent crimes, they must leave our country! If existing laws don’t allow for this, they must be changed.”

State secretary Stefan Mayer (CSU) called for the stricter isolation of rejected asylum seekers who could not be immediately deported, and raised the possibility of using residency requirements, and forcing asylum seekers to report regularly to the authorities, or wear electronic tags.

Although Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Hermann (CSU) was forced to acknowledge that deportation was not legally possible in any of the Amberg cases, he insisted, “We are pulling out all the stops to change that.”

The ever-present police ideologist Rainer Wendt also spoke out, accusing the youths, whom he doesn’t know and has never met, of harboring “a deep hatred for our state and the people who live here.”

As was to be expected, this reaction has encouraged neo-Nazis to come to the fore. The right-wing extremist Nationaldemokratische Partei (NPD) called for the establishment of a citizens’ army in Amberg and published pictures with the demand on Facebook. The pictures show NPD supporters wearing high-visibility vests with the slogan, “We create safe spaces”, while patrolling through the streets.

Thus far, virtually nothing is known about what occurred on the evening in question in Amberg. Almost all of the reports stem from one and the same source, a press report from the Bavarian police presidium. This extremely vague report is based on statements from a train passenger at Amberg station, who phoned the police after allegedly being attacked by one of the suspects.

The report continued, “At the scene of the operation, it was revealed that attacks took place on passers-by inside and in front of the train station.” The police then arrested four young men as suspects at 9 p.m. The report continued, “In the course of a thorough investigation, it emerged that, contrary to initial reports, three other people reported being injured.”

The report is full of vague sentences, including phrases like “it was revealed” and “it emerged that.” Inexplicably, the initial reference is to a single suspect, but later the talk is of “four young male suspects,” including drunken “Afghan, Syrian, and Iranian citizens.” Subsequent reports merely speak of “persons from Afghanistan and Iran.”

The online edition of Focus magazine reported that it had been able to contact the train passenger who phoned the police. The magazine introduced him as Marco Steck, a landscape gardener and occasional security guard. Focus described the 26-year-old as “powerfully built and stocky like a wrestler […] Anyone who sees Marco Steck standing on the platform in Amberg would find it hard to believe that someone would want to pick a fight with him.”

His friends were also allowed to speak, even though none of them witnessed the incident. A soldier named Marcel said he was sitting “just around the corner in a pub”, and expressed regret at not being on the scene at the right moment.

The question is posed: are those the only witnesses to the case? Soldiers who weren’t even present, and a young man working part-time as a security guard? Is it conceivable that the young men were not only drunk, but also provoked? Given the reports of right-wing extremist networks among soldiers and the police, such a hypothesis is by no means far-fetched.

It is certainly not a case of a sensational “orgy of violence”, as Die Welt, Focus, and Münchner Merkur are now writing. Several hundred police operations took place in the same district during the days around New Year’s Eve. In one case, a 37-year-old German citizen inflicted life-threatening injuries on two Bulgarians with a knife. It is not hard to imagine what would have happened if the perpetrator had been an asylum seeker.

Shortly after the scuffles in Amberg, a 50-year-old man deliberately drove his vehicle into pedestrians in the cities of Bottrop and Essen. When he was arrested by the police, the man said he wanted to kill foreigners. Eight people, including a 4-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, were injured, with one woman suffering serious injuries.

Even though this was no mere scuffle, but attempted murder, both cases have only been referred to in passing. Interior Minister Seehofer told the Bild newspaper that it was a matter of “political credibility to deal with both cases thoroughly and firmly.” However, he made no reference to “excessive violence” with regard to the events in Bottrop and Essen.

Like the events in Cologne on New Year’s Eve three years ago, which were also hugely exaggerated, the campaign over Amberg serves to strengthen extreme right-wing forces and establish a police state, which is directed not merely against refugees, but the entire working class.

The social divisions in society are becoming ever deeper and the ruling elite is preparing for new wars. The federal government’s coalition agreement calls for an increase in defence spending to 2 percent of GDP, which amounts to some €70 billion. The ruling elite can only suppress the mounting opposition to social inequality and militarism by resorting to violent means. That is why they are strengthening the far-right and the repressive state apparatus.