Egyptian feminist against Islamophobia


Egyptian feminist Mona Eltahawy, EPA photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The Egyptian is a well-known feminist, who wrote several books about patriarchy, the rule of men, in the Islamic world. She is also a well-known critic of racism in the US, where she lives.

Eltahawy also played an important role on social media in the commotion surrounding the Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed who fled Saudi Arabia from her family. She was en route to Australia, but stranded in Thailand. Eltahawy, with more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, committed to her cause. …

Eltahawy explains that she is not only fighting against patriarchy, but that feminism is also about fighting other forms of intolerance such as white supremacy, racism, fascism and Islamophobia. “This is a time when hatred is growing in Europe, including the Netherlands. Two months ago a white extremist Islamophobic man slaughtered 51 Muslims. In the US we have a president who introduced a Muslim ban and continuously attacks one of the first Muslim women in the Congress.” She calls it dangerous times.

Sand tiger sharks return to US shipwrecks


This December 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Sand Tiger Sharks of North Carolina | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

Jonathan heads to North Carolina to explore the offshore shipwrecks of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” which have become home to Sand Tiger sharks. The sharks are unwitting bodyguards to small fish seeking protection from predators and have developed a clever way to hide from the fish and to hover with perfect buoyancy control.

JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD is an Emmy Award-winning underwater science/adventure program that airs on public television in the United States.

From Duke University in the USA:

Sand tiger sharks return to shipwrecks off N.C. coast

Coast’s hundreds of shipwrecks are important habitats for vulnerable shark species

April 22, 2019

Summary: A study reveals shipwrecks off North Carolina’s coast are important habitats for sand tiger sharks, whose population plummeted in the 1980 and 1990s. Photos taken months and even years apart by scuba divers show female sand tiger sharks returning to the same shipwrecks. The photos were uploaded to the citizen-science program Spot A Shark USA which used specialized software to ID the sharks.

Photos taken months, and in some cases years, apart by scuba divers show female sand tiger sharks returning to the same shipwrecks off the North Carolina coast, a new study co-led by scientists at Duke University reveals.

This display of “site fidelity” by the sharks suggests the shipwrecks are important habitats for the fierce-looking but docile species, which experienced dramatic population drops toward the end of the last century and is listed as globally vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“Their population is estimated to have dropped by as much as or more than 75 percent in the 1980s and 1990s and we don’t know if it has stabilized or is still declining, in large part because we’ve mostly had to rely on anecdotal sightings,” said Avery B. Paxton, a visiting scholar at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina and lead author of the study.

“Having photographic evidence that these wrecks form an important habitat the sharks return to from time to time gives us a focal point for ongoing research so we can better understand how the species is faring,” she said.

“We’re now trying to figure out why they return. They could be using the wrecks as rest stops along their migratory paths, but they could also be returning here for mating or possibly to give birth. There are all kinds of hypotheses our team is testing,” said Paxton, who formerly was a postdoctoral researcher at the South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation.

She and her colleagues published their peer-reviewed paper April 22 in Ecology.

Having access to photos taken by citizen scientists, including images uploaded to the Spot A Shark USA program led by the North Carolina Aquariums, was vital to the study’s success.

“This area is called the Graveyard of the Atlantic for a reason — it has hundreds of wrecks. As researchers, we can’t have eyes underwater at each of them,” Paxton said. “Being able to rely on scuba divers and other citizen scientists who are out there and have cameras with them extends our reach.”

Each sand tiger shark has a unique pattern of brown spots on its skin that acts like a fingerprint, allowing scientists to identify individual sharks and distinguish them from others of their species.

By analyzing and comparing the spot patterns on sharks in divers’ photos dating back to 2007, Paxton and her colleagues identified six female sand tiger sharks that have returned to the same wrecks, or to similar wrecks close by, at intervals ranging from one to 72 months apart.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to document site fidelity to habitats in offshore waters along the East Coast,” Paxton said. “Previous studies have shown similar behavior patterns in Australia and Africa and in estuarine habitats such as Delaware Bay, so what we are finding off North Carolina definitely fits into global patterns.”

Male sharks may also exhibit site fidelity to wrecks off the North Carolina coast, but so far no matching photos have been found to prove it.

That may change as more and more citizen scientists share their images, said Hap Fatzinger, director of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and a co-author of the study.

“Through collaborations and strong partnerships, Spot A Shark USA is engaging recreational divers to become citizen scientists and provide essential data to expand our knowledge,” Fatzinger said. “By increasing community engagement, we are creating stronger connections to local, regional and global concerns for sharks and healthy ocean ecosystems.”

Erica Blair, a graduating senior at Duke and a co-author of the new study, helped map the unique spot patterns on the sharks’ skin that were used to confirm their identities. Brian Silliman, Rachel Carson Associate Professor of Marine Conservation Biology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, also co-authored the study.

US Coast Guard terrorist no terrorist: white


This 21 February 2019 video about the USA by the British conservative Daily Mail says about itself:

Christopher Paul Hasson dreamed of killing ‘every last person’

A U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant was arrested after investigators claimed he was planning a domestic terror attack and had a ‘hit-list’ that included prominent Democrats and media figures.

Christopher Paul Hasson is due in court on Thursday in Maryland after he was arrested on gun and drug charges last week. Prosecutors said that Hasson, a 49-year-old who lives in a basement apartment in Maryland, espoused extremist views for years.

Court papers detail a June 2017 draft email in which Hasson described an ‘interesting idea’ that included ‘biological attacks followed by attack on food supply.’

Federal agents found 15 firearms and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition when Hasson was arrested. Prosecutors allege that he had compiled a list of prominent congressional Democrats, activists, and media commentators.

From Jewish daily The Forward in the USA:

White Nationalist Coast Guard Officer Won’t Face Terrorism Charges

April 19, 2019

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

The Coast Guard officer who federal prosecutors accuse of amassing a stockpile of weapons and compiling a hit list of Democrats and media figures, and who prosecutors say is a white nationalist, is asking to be released from prison in advance of his trial because he has been charged with no terrorism-related crimes.

The officer, Christopher Hasson, is a white nationalist who revered the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, prosecutors say. But so far, they have only charged him with firearms and drug offenses.

In a court filing this week, Hasson’s attorney said that prosecutors revealed in a status conference that they intend to file no further chargers, the Associated Press reported.

“No other crimes have been charged,” the attorney wrote, according to the A.P. “Moreover, during a recent status call, government counsel advised the Court and defense counsel that it does not expect to file a superseding indictment in this matter.”

Hasson’s arrest on February 15 came amidst growing concern over the rise of white supremacist violence. Court filings called Hasson a “domestic terrorist,” and described his white nationalist views.

If Christopher Paul Hasson’s name would not have been Christopher Paul Hasson, but Mohamed Abdallah Hassan, and/or if he would not have been white, then I doubt whether the prosecutor would have stopped short of charging him with terrorism.

Two separate police departments in Virginia announced last week that they had each fired an officer accused of links to white supremacist groups, CNN reported. In both cases, the officer had been investigated after an activist group called Antifa Seven Hills published blog posts outlining their alleged links to white supremacist organizations. The Virginia Division of Capitol Police, which protects the Virginia state capitol, fired one of the officers, Robert Stamm, after placing him on leave in February, CNN reported. Antifa Seven Hills had published a blog post linking Stamm to Asatru Folk Assembly, which the ADL calls an “extremist group”: here.

Tilos island flowers, swallows, butterflies


This March 2018 video says about itself:

Just 7 km northwest of Tilos‘ port city, Livadia, Megalo Chorio is the capital of the island. The village is small and has a population of 250 inhabitants. The medieval castle, which thrones over the city, was built in the 15th century by Knights of Saint John. Great view to the ports of Eristos and Agios Antonios, as well as the neighboring island of Nisyros. In the center of Megalo Chorio you will find churches Agia Triada and Panagia Theotokissa.

The church names mean Holy Trinity and Holy Virgin.

In Megalo Chorio, there is the municipal office of Mayor Ms Maria Kamma.

Mayor Maria Kamma

After arriving in Megalo Chorio on 18 April 2019, 19 April was our first morning on Tilos.

We saw two of the most common bird species of the island. A Sardinian warbler called. And a hooded crow sat on a telephone wire.

We walked downhill from the village.

Many flowers.

Along the road, many pink field bindweed flowers.

Chamomile, 19 April 2019

Wild chamomile flowers.

Chamomile, on 19 April 2019

Common poppy, 19 April 2019

Also, many common poppies.

Common poppies, 19 April 2019

Plantago lagopus grows here.

So do wild oat and wild barley. A sign there used to be agriculture here, before farmers gave up and emigrated from Telos.

Along the road, bottlebrush. Originally from Australia.

Barn swallows and red-rumped swallows flying.

A hooded crow flying with nesting material in its bill.

Bladder campion along the road.

This 16 April 2019 video is called Butterflies of Greece: Vanessa cardui.

Vanessa cardui are painted lady butterflies. We saw quite some this first morning. We would see many more in the following week.

Sri Lankans denounce anti-Christian terrorism


Sri Lankan bomb attack witness N.A. Sumanapala

From the World Socialist Web site in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lankan bomb survivors and local residents denounce terror attacks

By our correspondents

22 April 2019

World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) reporters spoke with residents of Kochchikade, in Colombo and Katuwapitiya in Negombo where two of yesterday’s deadly bomb blasts occurred. They also visited the Colombo National Hospital and Negombo District Hospital, interviewing injured survivors and others searching for news about their missing relatives.

N.A. Sumanapala, who lives in Jampattah Street, opposite St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, said: “There was a huge blast at about 8.45 in the morning, just before the morning prayers ended. People were screaming and there were pieces of flesh scattered around. Because it’s Easter Sunday, there could have been thousands of people in the church. Many came from remote areas for the Easter service.

“There was only one ambulance at that time and it arrived about half an hour after the bomb attack. Victims were transported to the hospital by buses, three-wheel taxies and other vehicles owned by local residents.”

Sumanapala angrily denounced the terror attack. “I don’t know who is responsible for the blast but it’s a barbaric act,” he said. “We experienced a 30-year war which had a huge and devastating impact on everyone. The aim of this bomb attack could be to instigate communalism and turmoil. It must be totally condemned.”

Stephen Fernando

Stephen Fernando, who also lives near St Anthony’s church, said: “There was a huge blast which occurred whilst I was sleeping. My mother said that the explosion was in the church and so I rushed there. There was blood and flesh everywhere. It was very upsetting and people were screaming and running.” Fernando denounced the terrorist attack, condemning it as “a cynical attempt to provoke conflicts among the people who live with harmony.”

Sri Lankan hospital authorities only allowed the media to visit Ward 32 at Colombo National Hospital where 35 victims with minor injuries from Kochchikade blast had been admitted.

Shonal Daniel, 15, a student from Wattala, a Colombo outer suburb, had injuries to his face and right arm. His father told the WSWS that his son had gone to morning prayers at Kochchikade church but had arrived late. “Because he was late we were upset but then we heard that there was a blast at the church and we rushed there and learned that the victims had been taken to the hospital. We came here in great fear but fortunately he only has minor injuries. This bomb attack is a brutal crime.”

Ranjith Kumar

Ranjith Kumar, 42, a porter at Petah in Colombo, was being treated for burns. “I was inside the church and suddenly there was a blast and then another big sound with flames. I was knocked over but managed to get out,” he said.

“My wife fell down. She has head injuries and was admitted to Ward 38. My 10-year old son was also in the church but fortunately only had some of his hair burnt. We don’t have a regular monthly income but only earn about 2,000 rupees for a whole day’s work. I have to feed six people on this income. This incident is a huge blow for us.”

Nelson, 32, from Nawalapitiya in Sri Lanka’s central province, works for a gas company in Gampaha, 25 kilometres from Colombo. “My head was hit hard when I was knocked down by the bomb blast and several people fell on me. My uncle, who was with me in church, cannot hear anything now because of the huge sound of the blast. The mass was occurring in Tamil and we were lighting the candles when the bomb went off.

Nelson

“My wife has just had a baby and is in Castle Hospital [in Colombo], waiting to go home. She doesn’t even know that I’ve been admitted to the hospital. Fortunately I’m alive but this is an outrage. Look how many people have been killed and injured.”

Two young women were at the hospital searching for their husbands who had been at St. Anthony’s church. They could not find them. One of the women, S. Rohini, is married to Loganathan Rames, 30, a salesman at a rice shop.

“We were married five years ago and have a five-year-old child,” she said. “My husband went to the Kochchikade church service but I, and other family members, went to another church. We’ve searched all wards in the National Hospital and even we went to other hospitals but we cannot find him anywhere. We strongly condemn these attacks,” she said.

WSWS reporters also visited the Catholic Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo where there were still about 20 bodies in the building. The bodies, which were burned beyond recognition and scattered across the floor, remained there until 2 p.m. Blood was splattered across the church interior and the all building’s roof tiles broken by the blast.

A distraught middle-aged man came out of the church and yelled: “Where was the god when these things happened? Whoever did this, any retaliation will only lead to the killing of ordinary people.”

Relatives of bomb victims were rushing to the church and then across to Negombo hospital. Sri Lankan police and other security forces have imposed severe restrictions on visiting patients. Only one member from a victim’s family is allowed to enter the hospital.

Large numbers of weeping men and women, some from distant areas, were at the hospital trying to locate injured relatives. One person, whose mother-in-law was killed in the blast, wept: “My younger son came home bleeding from his head but I can’t find my 15-year-old son. He is not in the church nor in the hospital.”

Relatives of the victims

A doctor told the WSWS that most of the injured patients had been transferred to Colombo National Hospital, the Teaching Hospital in Ragama or another hospital in Chilaw, because there were not enough beds and medical staff at the Negombo facility.

Responding to media appeals, large numbers of people, mostly youth, had come to the hospital to donate blood for the critically injured. One of them bluntly told the WSWS: “Irrespective of who carried out this attack, it will be taken advantage of by the rulers. The politicians will exploit this to further postpone the elections, impose more burdens on the people and ban strikes.”

New Zealand kea parrots play with snow


This 18 April 2019 video says about itself:

Kea Parrots Play With Snowballs & Discover One To Be Particularly Intriguing!

Intelligent Kea Parrots love to be entertained and living in the snow gives plenty of opportunity for that. Our Snowball Cam soon puts their intelligence to the test.

From our programme ‘Spy in the Snow’ for the BBC.

Greek Tilos island, from Livadia to Megalo Chorio


This video is called Tilos, Livadia May 2017.

We had arrived in Livadia harbour village on Tilos island on 18 April 2019.

Then, we went to the only other inhabited village, and capital, of Tilos: Megalo Chorio.

This July 2013 video says about itself:

On the north side of the island you will find Megalo Chorio (Big Village), the impressive capital of Tilos. Located 6 miles northeast of Livadia, the harbor, it is built on the slope of a hill on top of which are the ruins of the Castle of the Knights. Until the early 18th century the village was within the castle walls. In the same place where today we find the Castle of the Knights, the acropolis of the ancient city existed. The ruins of the temple of Apollo nearby, are reminiscent of the long history of the island.

In the evening in Megalo Chorio, a nightingale sang.

We went to sleep.

What would our first full day on Tilos, 19 April, tomorrow, bring?

290 people killed in Sri Lanka bloodbath


This 22 April 2019 AFP news agency video says about itself:

St Sebastian’s church: A day after Sri Lanka explosions

Authorities comb through St Sebastian’s church in Sri Lanka’s Negombo as the death toll from Sunday’s bomb blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in the country rose dramatically Monday to 290.

By K. Ratnayake in Sri Lanka:

At least 290 killed in terrorist bomb attacks in Sri Lanka

22 April 2019

At least 290 people have been killed and around 500 injured in a series of powerful bomb blasts yesterday in Sri Lanka. In a co-ordinated attack between 8.45 a.m. and 9 a.m., unidentified terrorists struck three Christian churches and three luxury hotels frequented by tourists. Among the dead are some 35 foreigners, including from the US, European countries, China and Japan.

The three churches—St. Anthony in Colombo, St. Sebastian in Negombo to the north of the capital and the Zeon Church in Batticalao on the east coast of the island—were packed for Easter Sunday services. The blasts ripped off the roofs and left body parts strewn among the rubble. The hospitals, particularly in Negombo where the death toll was the highest, were overwhelmed by the large number of injured, many of whom are in a serious condition.

People recovering dead bodies in Katuwapitiya Church

The three luxury hotels—the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury—are all in Colombo. Two further blasts in the capital several hours later claimed more lives—one in the suburb of Dehiwela killed two people and the second in Dematagoda killed seven, including three police officers.

The Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka) unequivocally condemns this barbaric murder of innocent people, including children and women. Whoever is responsible for this heinous crime and whatever their motives, it will be exploited by the political establishment to strengthen the state apparatus and further attack basic democratic rights.

The government immediately imposed a nationwide block on social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Viber, claiming that they had been used to circulate “false news reports.” While saying the shutdown would be temporary, it is part and parcel of moves by governments internationally to censor the internet so that only government-approved news is readily available.

Dutch NOS TV reports today (translated):

Internet organization NetBlocks regrets the move, because legitimate news sources now also cannot be disseminated and rumours will circulate faster.

The K. Ratnayake article continues:

No organisation or individual has so far claimed the responsibility for the terrorist attacks. State minister for defence affairs and media, Ruwan Wijewardena, said the government knew the “identity of the culprits” but would not elaborate. The police have arrested 13 people but have not revealed their identity. Even the nature of the bombings is not clear, but there is some evidence that suicide bombers were involved.

Agence France Presse has reported that the Sri Lankan government and police had received a warning 10 days before that suicide bombers planned to attack prominent churches. The intelligence alert to top police officers declared: “A foreign intelligence agency has informed that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jamma’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian High Commission in Colombo.”

Neither the police nor the government took any action to warn the public of an impending attack. Nor there is any evidence that the police took any measures to prevent the bombings. Yet the alert was quite specific and Easter is an obvious time when churches would be full.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday acknowledged that there had been a warning from an unnamed foreign intelligence agency. He claimed, however, that he and his ministers did not know about the alert. He indicated that there would be an inquiry as “there had not been adequate attention [paid] to the information.”

National Thowheeth Jamma’ath is an Islamist organisation based in Sri Lanka that is suspected of having links to Islamic extremists internationally. At this stage, however, one cannot rule out other possibilities.

The Colombo political establishment, which waged a brutal three-decade long war to defeat the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has close connections to Sinhala Buddhist supremacist groups, which have a history of attacks on Christians and Christian churches, as well as the island’s Tamil and Muslim minorities. In many cases, the police have simply turned a blind eye to such attacks.

The government is desperate to deflect rising anger over the bombings. In his comments, Wickremesinghe hinted that President Maithripala Sirisena was responsible for not taking action to prevent the attack. Sirisena took over the law and order ministry, which includes the police, last December as part of the bitter rivalry between himself and the prime minister. The president, as defence minister, already has control of the country’s three armed forces.

The opposition, led by former President Mahinda Rajapakse, yesterday condemned the attack but sheeted home the blame to the government. The Rajapakse government was responsible for the brutal end to the war against the LTTE which involved the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in the final military operations, as well as hundreds of “disappearances” by military-connected death squads.

Rajapakse has defended the “war heroes” against any charges of war crimes and is looking for the military’s support in his bid to return to power. Yesterday, he declared that the attack was a “dire consequence that innocent people have to face because the government has paralysed the intelligence officers and officers of the three-armed forces.”

Both the governing and opposition parties, however, were responsible for prosecuting the communal war against the island’s Tamil minority and for vastly expanding the military and state apparatus as well as its police state powers. The government will undoubtedly exploit yesterday’s bombings to ram through its Counter Terrorism (CT) Bill, which replaces the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act and retains the bulk of its sweeping, anti-democratic powers.

In separate statements, Sirisena and Wickremesinghe urged people to be “calm” as the security measures were put into force—after the bombings. As well as the block on social media, police special task force officers were deployed to guard Colombo railway station, Katunayake International Airport and other places. Several hundred soldiers have been deployed onto the streets of Colombo and a curfew has been imposed.

World leaders yesterday rushed to denounce the terrorist attack. US President Donald Trump condemned the “horrible terrorist attacks,” offered “heartfelt condolences” and declared that the US stood “ready to help.” British Prime Minister Theresa May also decried the attacks saying the “violence was truly appalling.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that “there is no place for such barbarism in our region.”

Hypocrisy knows no bounds! The US and its allies are responsible for criminal wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa that fueled Islamic extremists, if they were indeed responsible for yesterday’s bombings. Washington backed successive Colombo governments that waged the island’s brutal war that created communal tensions and hatreds that Sri Lankan elites continue to stir up and manipulate.

Amid a rising tide of working-class struggles, the ruling classes internationally are whipping up anti-immigrant xenophobia and deliberately nurturing fascist parties and organisations. Last month, the Australian fascist Brenton Tarrant shot dead 50 people, including women and children, in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Despite Tarrant’s connections in far-right circles internationally, the police and intelligence services claim that they had no forewarning. The response of the government in Wellington has been to blame the internet and censor websites.

The government in Sri Lanka will use yesterday’s bombings for the same purpose. Over the past year, there has been a wave of strikes by workers and protests by students, farmers and the poor against the government’s austerity measures. The police-state measures put in place on the pretext of fighting terrorism will inevitably be used against the working class.

Greek Kos island, fascism, anti-fascism, flowers


Kos harbour, 18 April 2019

As this blog reported, on 18 April 2019 we arrived on the Greek island Tilos after a sea journey from the island Kos. However, before I will tell more about Tilos, still some things about Kos on 18 April. Like this photo of the harbour of Kos town, the capital of the island.

Kos harbour flowers, 18 April 2019

And these flowers near Kos harbour.

Kos fountain, 18 April 2019

This fountain near Kos harbour was damaged by an earthquake a few years ago.

Kos fountain bull´s head, 18 April 2019

There are bulls´ heads sculptures on the fountain.

Kos synagogue,18 April 2019

A very sad place in Kos town. Jews had lived on Kos ever since antiquity. In 1310, the Christian crusaders of the Knights of Rhodes expelled all of them. The plaque on the photo reminds us that in the 16th century, Jews fled from persecution by the Spanish inquisition to Kos, then ruled by the Ottoman empire. Their community lasted until 1944. When Adolf Hitler, then occupier of Kos, had the Kos Jews, those Kos Jews who had been unable to flee to Turkey, deported to Auschwitz death camp. Not one of them survived. The former synagogue stands empty and dilapidated.

According to Hitler’s nazi ideology, only the ‘Aryan race‘ was supposedly really human. While Jews, Roma, Africans etc. were supposedly ‘subhuman’.

Unfortunately, tendencies similar to Hitler still exist today: like the AfD and NPD parties in Germany. And the Golden Dawn party in Greece.

Groups like Golden Dawn depict the refugees from NATO’s regime change wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan etc. as ‘subhuman’; as ‘illegal’.

Many people in Greece reject the Golden Dawn racism.

Kos anti-fascism, 18 April 2019

On an advertisement billboard near Kos harbour, people had put this black and white sticker. It says. translated: No human being is illegal [a quote by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel]. Anti-fascist movement of Kos. With barbed wire pictured, now erected against refugees in Hungary and other European Union countries.

Stay tuned for more blog posts on Tilos island!