Saudi regime beheads 37 people on one day


This September 2014 video says about itself:

Beheadings In Saudi Arabia

The ISIS beheadings have shocked the world. But other countries routinely use beheading as a form of execution too. Pat Abboud looks at Saudi Arabia.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

In Saudi Arabia, 37 people were executed in one day. They have been killed by decapitation. According to the Ministry of the Interior, these Saudis were involved in terrorist activities.

The problem is that the Saudi authorities have an extremely wide definition of terrorism. Eg, they consider the activists, jailed for advocating the right of women to drive cars and now threatened with beheading, and atheists to be ‘terrorists’.

As this 25 April 2019 video says, these 37 beheaded people were Shia Muslims. Shia Islam is a terrible heresy according to Saudi state religion.

According to the ministry, the verdict is supported by a royal decree.

The ministry’s statement also said that the bodies of two executed men were shown in public. They hung on a pole for a few hours. …

The last time so many people were executed in one day in Saudi Arabia was in 2016. According to human rights organization Human Rights Watch, 47 men were killed on 2 January of that year … It was then the largest mass execution since 1980.

Sri Lanka bomb atrocities, by whom?


St. Sebastian's Church, Negombo, Sri Lanka, photo Bernard Gagnon

This photo shows St. Sebastian’s Church, Negombo, Sri Lanka before the recent bomb attacks.

By Phil Miller:

Monday, April 22, 2019

Who is behind the Sri Lanka bombings?

Although the government has already blamed Islamist extremists for the wave of deadly bombings, something does not add up, writes PHIL MILLER

THE horrific wave of bombings that rocked Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday is a watershed moment in the island’s troubled history.

Hundreds have died and many of the victims are still unidentified.

There is also a race to understand who was behind the slaughter — and how they were able to carry it out.

The choice of targets — simultaneous suicide bombs at churches and luxury hotels — is reminiscent of an al-Qaida or Isis attack.

The idea that Islamist extremists are responsible is certainly a narrative that some Sri Lankan officials are pushing.

Today a local Muslim group, National Thowheed Jama’ath, was being blamed — allegedly in cahoots with shadowy foreign backers.

There are certainly some Muslims in Sri Lanka who may exhibit extremist tendencies. Not far from the bombing at Batticaloa on the island’s east coast lies the town of Kattankudy, where many of the local Muslim community are influenced by Saudi-style Islam.

Much has been written about the “Wahhabi invasion” on the island’s once moderate Sufi Muslims, and it would be easy to blame conservative Islam as the incubator for these atrocities.

But there is also plenty of evidence that points in other directions, and at the time of writing some 24 hours after the explosions, no group has claimed responsibility.

The confusion is evident just by watching the rolling news channels, which yesterday were struggling to put out a neat linear narrative.

Many British media platforms pulled their correspondents out of Sri Lanka when the civil war between the Tamil Tigers and government forces ended a decade ago, leaving news anchors struggling to understand the complex patchwork of Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious make-up.

The well-trodden “war on terror” grand narrative, a clash of civilisations between Muslims and Christians in a 21st-century crusade, makes little sense in Sri Lanka where both these religious groups are minorities — and have often been persecuted by [extremists within] the majority Sinhala Buddhist community.

In one case, the Sri Lankan air force bombed a Catholic church in Jaffna, St James, killing scores of civilians in 1993.

A British Tamil journalist, Thusiyan Nandakumar, bravely tried to make this point in a BBC interview yesterday — that historically Tamil Christians are more likely to have been massacred by the Sri Lankan military than Islamist extremists.

Such is the nature of Sri Lankan politics that Nandakumar, a Tamil, was then trolled by patriotic Sinhala keyboard warriors for making this historically accurate point.

He received thousands of hate-filled messages that left him fearing for his safety.

The backlash rather underlines the point that [some] Sinhalese Buddhist groups in Sri Lanka do have a history of religious intolerance, which can either be exercised through their presence in state structures or in street movements.

Last March saw some of the worst anti-Muslim rioting in Sri Lanka, which was led by Sinhala Buddhist mobs, fuelled by Islamophobic rumours circulating on social media — and crucially given support by riot police who seemed to evaporate in several locations, allowing mobs to move in.

If the Muslim community in Sri Lanka was feeling vengeful, then an attack on Buddhists would have been more predictable than this assault on Christians at Easter.

When Muslims have resorted to political violence in Sri Lanka before, it has not taken on an anti-Christian dimension.

Indeed, a “Christian identity” holds little political traction in Sri Lanka, where the larger communities tend to identify along ethnic lines.

The Tamil Tigers, a secular movement, were composed mainly of Tamil speakers who were Hindu or Christian. In their early years, their ranks also included Tamil-speaking Muslims.

The Sri Lankan military recognised the threat posed by a pan-Tamil alliance, and from 1985 took deliberate steps to drive a wedge between Tamil Muslims and non-Muslim Tamils in the Eastern province.

The security forces aided and abetted Muslim attacks on the village of Karaitivu, which soured Tamil-Muslim relations for decades to come.

There is now a real risk that after yesterday’s bombing at the Zion Church in Batticaloa, those old tensions in the Eastern province could reignite into anti-Muslim riots.

Such a scenario would benefit Sri Lanka’s deep state Sinhala Buddhist structures, as it would see further division among the Tamil-speaking people in the east.

It would also allow the security forces to intervene, unusually, on the side of the non-Muslim Tamils — at a time when military leaders are facing international sanction for war crimes they committed against this same group a decade ago.

Political figures like the country’s former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who was recently served with a war crimes suit while travelling abroad, is running for president — and will cast himself as the anti-terror candidate.

He could also absolve himself internationally if the terror threat was now from Islamist extremists, rather than the Tamil Tigers, who never neatly fitted the “war on terror” mould as much as he tried.

This “who benefits” question has even led some to speculate that Gotabhaya himself may have had a hand in Sunday’s bombings.

Sections of the military apparatus are still loyal to his family, and would have the capability to pull off such an attack — or at least ensure a blind eye was turned.

There are already reports that warnings on the attacks were ignored, raising questions about why these attacks weren’t stopped.

Sri Lanka is such a heavily militarised society, it is hard to imagine how a plot like this went undetected.

The attackers’ ability to strike simultaneously at three of the country’s most luxurious hotels, where security is tightest, is almost incomprehensible.

As is the news that a pipe bomb was found, unexploded, outside the international airport, which is also a high-security military base.

But even this elaborate deep-state scenario ultimately does not add up. The bombing of hotels will have almost destroyed Sri Lanka’s tourism industry for the foreseeable future, an industry in which the military has a large stake — its personnel run numerous resorts.

And so we may never know who was really responsible. Sri Lankan police say dozens of suspects have been taken into custody, but this is a police force with a proclivity to torture — a tactic which will irrevocably tarnish the testimony of those they interrogate.

What will matter is the perception of who was responsible, and how those with power will be able to play this to their advantage. The careful inter-faith work that the clergy in Batticaloa have done over the years will now be more vital than ever to prevent a spiral of violence.

SRI LANKA DEATH TOLL RISES TO 359 The death toll from the Easter suicide bombings in Sri Lanka rose to 359, police said Wednesday, as the country’s leaders vowed to overhaul the security apparatus amid a series of intelligence lapses before the attacks. [AP]

1932 great cormorant ring discovery in Naardermeer


The 1932 great cormorant ring, photo by Luc Hoogenstein

This photo by Luc Hoogenstein shows a bird ring of the Dutch natural history museum in Leiden, affixed to a great cormorant in 1932.

Recently, that old ring was found in the Naardermeer nature reserve.

The ring was affixed in Lekkerkerk; where then was a big great cormorant nesting colony. Great cormorants then did not nest yet in the Naardermeer. They did so for the first time in 1937, with just three nests. Now they are many more.

This old ring indicates that the Naardermeer colony was started by Lekkerkerk birds.

Austrian Hitler hometown racist politician’s neonazi poem


Austrian extreme right politician Christian Schilcher, AFP photo

Not only in Germany children of racist politicians write neonazi poems. In Austria, far-right politicians seem not to leave that to their children, but to do so themselves.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

In Austria, the deputy mayor of Braunau am Inn town has resigned after a storm of criticism of a poem he had published in a local newspaper before Easter. In the poem The Urban Rat, FPÖ

The extreme right party in Austria, formerly led by Jörg Haider. Now, part of the right-wing two-party coalition government.

politician Christian Schilcher writes that rats from outside must assimilate or “get away quickly”. He also warns against mixing cultures. …

The comparison of people with rats (or other animals) has been used more often in history to dehumanize groups of people and thus justify atrocities against those groups. For example, in the Nazi propaganda film Der ewige Jude (1940) Jews were compared with rats …

Today he has drawn consequences and resigned his position as deputy mayor of Braunau am Inn, the hometown of Adolf Hitler.

Trump to Britain, 3-5 June, big protests expected


This 13 July 2018 video by TIME magazine in the USA says about itself:

Protesters Gather In London To March In Protest Of President Trump’s U.K. Visit

A day of planned mass protests against President Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom kicked off in dramatic fashion, as the U.S. President walked back a series of explosive comments about Britain’s leaders to a tabloid newspaper.

According to Dutch NOS TV today, there will be a state visit by Donald Trump to Britain, 3-5 June.

Apparently, Trump´s British Conservative poodle, Prime Minister Theresa May, arranged this. While her minority administration suffers defeat after defeat in parliament. While her Conservative party is hopelessly divided and stands to be trounced by the electorate during the 23 May European parliament elections … if these elections will go ahead.

There will be very big protests against Trump visiting Britain, as the British Stand Up To Trump coalition says.

Bermuda white-tailed tropicbird nest webcam


This video says about itself:

New Bird Cam: White-tailed Tropicbird Cam Launches As Egg Is Close To Hatch! – April 19, 2019

The brand new White-tailed Tropicbird cam is live! Enter the nesting cavity of a White-tailed Tropicbird pair on Nonsuch Island, Bermuda as they prepare for their single egg to hatch in a matter of days!

Watch this new collaboration with our partners at Nonsuch Expeditions LIVE at AllAboutbirds.org/Tropicbirds.

White-tailed Tropicbirds lay one egg per nesting attempt, and both parents share incubation duties, which last around 40–42 days. The female laid the egg in this cavity around mid-March, meaning we should expect the chick to hatch within the next week to ten days. Be there when new life begins on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!

This video says about itself:

Tropicbird Gets Face-To-Face With Cam During Incubation Readjustment – Apr. 19, 2019

Say hello to the adult White-tailed Tropicbird when it gets face-to-face (2:14) with the cam while adjusting its position over the egg.

War crimes whistleblower Chelsea Manning still imprisoned


This 12 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

XY Chelsea (2019) Official Trailer | Chelsea Manning SHOWTIME Documentary

Produced by Pulse Films, XY Chelsea tells the historic story of whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, whose 35-year sentence in an all-male maximum security prison was commuted by President Obama in 2017.

Shot over two years and featuring exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes verité with Manning, the film picks up on the momentous day in May when she leaves prison and follows her through her journey of discovery, while also examining her place in the conversation on national security and the fight of the transgender community for rights and visibility. XY Chelsea premieres Friday, June 7 at 9/8c on SHOWTIME.

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

US court orders Chelsea Manning to remain in prison

23 April 2019

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning remains in jail after a federal appeals court Monday rejected her request to be released on bail and upheld a contempt order against her for refusing to testify before a grand jury impaneled to bring fabricated charges against the media organization WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

A unanimous decision of a three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia rejected her attorney’s arguments that she was wrongfully held in contempt and should be granted bail while the contempt order was appealed.

Manning’s continued imprisonment is nothing short of criminal. She is being subjected to effectively arbitrary detention in order to compel her to testify against Assange, a wrongfully imprisoned and persecuted journalist. This flagrant miscarriage of justice is a testament to the corruption of the US judicial system, which often operates in violation of both the US constitution and international human rights agreements.

“While disappointing, we can still raise issues as the government continues to abuse the grand jury process. I don’t have anything to contribute to this, or any other grand jury,” Manning declared in a defiant statement released by her lawyers Monday. “While I miss home, they can continue to hold me in jail, with all the harmful consequences that brings. I will not give up.”

“The rejection of Chelsea Manning‘s appeal against her imprisonment for contempt is a sign of lawless America,” said journalist John Pilger in reply to the court ruling. “Manning had the Constitutional right to remain silent and not collaborate with the notorious Virginia grand jury’s corrupt indictment of Julian Assange. But the US Constitution, and its Amendments—exalted by American historians as inviolable guardians of freedom and justice—are now openly flouted by US courts as America’s lawlessness abroad is reflected in its institutions notably the judiciary. The appeal rejection is a clear indication of the injustice awaiting Julian Assange should British courts allow his extradition.”

Manning, who already served seven years of a 35-year sentence in a military prison over charges related to leaking evidence of US war crimes to WikiLeaks in 2010, has been held in jail since March 8 after she made the courageous decision to withhold her testimony from the grand jury. The former Army Specialist has been sentenced to remain in jail indefinitely, either until she purges her contempt of court by testifying or the grand jury’s term expires.

Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on April 11, after his asylum status was illegally withdrawn by the government of Lenin Moreno. Assange is now awaiting a May 2 extradition hearing in the high-security Belmarsh Prison, known as Britain’s Guantanamo Bay, after being convicted on a charge of bail jumping over trumped-up sexual assault allegations in Sweden.

While Assange has been charged by the US government with conspiracy to commit computer fraud, carrying a possible five-year sentence, the grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia is still seeking Manning’s testimony, indicating that further charges are still in the works. CNN already reported last week that the US Justice Department expects to bring further charges against Assange.

The US government alleges that Assange sought to help Manning crack a password so that she could obscure her identity when accessing classified information on government computers. Since she is named in the criminal conspiracy complaint against Assange, it is likely that the Trump administration is also seeking to bring criminal charges against Manning.

She is being vindictively pursued by the Trump administration in retaliation for her role in leaking war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, US diplomatic cables and most famously the “Collateral Murder” video which shows a US helicopter gunship attack in Iraq which killed at least a dozen of Iraqis, including two Reuters journalists. Even though a contempt sentence is not meant to be punitive, just coercive, Manning was held in solitary confinement for four weeks before being released into the general prison population.

“We are of course disappointed that the Circuit declined to follow clearly established law, or consider the ample evidence of grand jury abuse,” attorney Moir Meltzer-Cohen, of Manning’s defense team, said in a statement to the press.

“It is improper for a prosecutor to use the grand jury to prepare for trial. As pointed out in Ms. Manning’s motions and appeals, since her testimony is not necessary to the grand jury’s investigation, the likely purpose for her subpoena is to help the prosecutor preview and undermine her potential testimony as a defense witness for a pending trial.

“We believed that the Appeals court would consider this, as it is strong evidence of an abuse of grand jury power that should excuse her testimony.”

Manning’s attorneys also argued that her testimony had been rendered unnecessary by the unsealed charge against Assange and that she had already told prosecutors everything relevant to her interactions with WikiLeaks during her court-martial in 2010. Manning has cited her First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, to free speech, against unreasonable searches and seizure and self-incrimination, as a justification for defying the grand jury.

Furthermore, her attorneys argued that her detention is unreasonably cruel, since the jail is not equipped to provide Manning with necessary medical attention in connection with her gender reassignment surgery.

While all of these arguments have so far been dismissed, Manning can now appeal to the full 4th Circuit Court or directly to the Supreme Court.

The Trump administration’s unconstitutional vendetta against Manning and Assange is the continuation of a bipartisan effort begun nearly a decade ago by the Obama administration. Trump has the full support of the Democrats and their associated media outlets, led by the New York Times and Washington Post, in persecuting Assange and Manning.

While the current charges against Assange relate to the 2010 leaks, the Democrats have promoted the lie for more than two years that WikiLeaks colluded with the Trump campaign and the Russian government of Vladimir Putin to “hack” the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump by leaking emails from Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Democratic National Committee.

With this narrative, pushed without evidence by the US intelligence agencies for the last two years, blown apart by the release of the Mueller report, which did not find any evidence of collusion, the true anti-democratic character of the pursuit of Assange and Manning has come to fore. The Democrats and Republicans, the two parties of Wall Street and war, agree that the journalists and whistleblowers who expose their crimes must be silenced.

Aquatic ankylosaur dinosaur discovery?


This 21 April 2019 video says about itself:

An Aquatic Ankylosaur?

There were once some very strange dinosaurs, but one of the strangest may have been a species of small, possibly fish-eating aquatic ankylosaurLiaoningosaurus paradoxus.