Flowers, Sardinian warbler and swallows of Tilos


This 30 October 2018 video is called TILOS island in the sun, GREECE.

After 25 April 2019, 26 April on Tilos.

Once again, walking to Eristos beach.

Monastery, 26 April 2014

Close to the graveyard of Megalo Chorio village is this ancient monastery building.

Plants, 26 April 2019

Again, fields full of flowers.

Megalo Chorio, 26 April 2019

Looking back, we see Megalo Chorio village.

Sardinian warbler, 26 April 2019

This Sardinian warbler is one of many of its species here.

A hoopoe calls.

Arum dioscoridis, 26 April 2019

Along the path, this Arum dioscoridis flower.

Oats and poppìes, 26 April 2019

And these oats and common poppies.

Purple flowers, 26 April 2019

And these beautiful purple flowers.

Purple flowers, on 26 April 2019

A grey heron flies.

So does a clouded yellow butterfly.

Not far from Eristos beach, a woodchat shrike on a wire.

Eristos beach, 26 April 2019

We arrived at the beach.

Eristos beach, on 26 April 2019

Searocket, 26 April 2019

Searocket flowers.

Again, a shag swimming in the bay.

Alpine swifts and barn swallows flying north in their spring migration.

Near the bus stop, a barn swallow sits down on a wire. Minutes later, a second swallow sits next to it. Still minutes later, a third bird joins them.

French Macron meets Bahraini absolute monarch


Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, right, is greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, today

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Macron urged to demand Bahraini king releases political prisoners during state visit

Failing to raise the issue would be ‘a stain on France’s historical commitment to human rights’, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said

Hundreds of thousands of French workers demonstrated on Thursday as part of a nationwide public sector strike to oppose the Emmanuel Macron government’s draft law on the “modernization” of the public sector: here.

May Day demonstrations banned in Turkey


This May 2014 video says about itself:

In an effort to suppress May Day protests, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan shut down all public transportation and roads around Taksim square [in Istanbul]. But clashes broke out all over the city after a reported 40,000 riot police used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to crack down on protesters.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Workers’ in Turkey’s Van province banned from holding May Day celebrations

Eight new bug species discovered on Texel


This November 2018 video says about itself:

This video is exploring the general characteristics of the insect order Hemiptera.

The blog of wildlife warden Erik van der Spek on Texel island in the Netherlands reports today (translated):

Bug researchers Dik Hermes and Berend Aukema have found eight bug species new for Texel in 2018, four of which are also new for the Wadden Sea area. Meanwhile, 342 of the 641 bug species known from the Netherlands are also known from Texel.

Pentagon sacks Guantanamo commander for mentioning torture


This February 2017 British TV video is called Torture: The Guantanamo Guidebook.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Pentagon fires Guantanamo prison commander for calling attention to US crimes

30 April 2019

The Pentagon has announced the abrupt firing of the commander of the infamous US prison camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

In a statement released Sunday, the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which oversees the extra-legal detention center, claimed that Rear Adm. John C. Ring, the camp commandant, had been relieved of his command because of a “loss of confidence in his ability” to lead. The facility has a staff of 1,800 troops and civilian personnel deployed to continue the imprisonment of 40 remaining detainees.

The dismissal comes just weeks before Ring was to complete his tour as the 18th commander of the prison camp, which was opened in 2002 as part of the “war on terror” launched under the administration of George W. Bush. The timing suggests retaliation by the top brass over what it sees as the rear admiral’s overly frank statements to the media.

Last December, he gave an interview at one of Guantanamo’s detention centers to NBC News in which he complained about the deterioration of the camp facilities and the failure of Congress to appropriate funds for their replacement or repair. He also warned that the aging of the prisoners could soon turn the notorious site of torture, rendition and illegal detention into something resembling a nursing home.

Ring had estimated last year that $69 million was needed to replace the most dilapidated of the camp’s facilities, which houses the 15 so-called “high-value detainees” who were transferred to Guantanamo in 2006–2007 after being imprisoned and tortured at CIA “black sites” around the world.

His firing came on the same day that the New York Times published a lengthy article titled “Guantánamo Bay as Nursing Home: Military Envisions Hospice Care as Terrorism Suspects Age . ” Written by Carol Rosenberg, who has reported from Guantanamo since 2002, previously for the Miami Herald, the article included extensive statements made by Ring during a recent press trip to the prison camp.

“Unless America’s policy changes, at some point we’ll be doing some sort of end of life care here,” the Times quoted the commander as saying. “A lot of my guys are pre-diabetic… Am I going to need dialysis down here? I don’t know. Someone’s got to tell me that. Are we going to do complex cancer care down here? I don’t know. Someone’s got to tell me that.”

The oldest prisoner at Guantanamo is now 71, while the average age is 46. Many have been held since the facility opened in 2002, and the majority of them, 26 in all, have never been charged, much less tried for any crime.

Defense One quoted Ring as stating: “I’m sort of caught between a rock and a hard place. The Geneva Conventions’ Article III, that says that I have to give the detainees equivalent medical care that I would give to a trooper. But if a trooper got sick, I’d send him home to the United States. And so I’m stuck. Whatever I’m going to do, I have to do here.”

Any US military personnel with serious health problems are airlifted to the US Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. Laws passed by Congress, however, bar any Guantanamo detainees from being brought onto US soil for any purpose whatsoever. As a result, detainees who suffer serious medical conditions, in many cases the result of systematic torture, receive either inadequate care or none whatsoever.

The Times article cited the case of Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, accused of leading resistance to US troops who invaded Afghanistan. He was left untreated for degenerative disc disease and back injuries exacerbated by torture until he lost the use of his legs and became incontinent. What followed was a series of botched spinal surgeries performed in the prison camp that has left Hadi, 58, in a wheelchair and dependent upon painkillers. While medical personnel concluded that he needed complex surgery that could not be performed at the camp, the law bars his being transferred to a US military hospital.

The Times article also cited the case of Mustafa al Hawsawi, a Saudi man alleged to have provided assistance with travel and expenses to the 9/11 hijackers. He “has for years suffered such chronic rectal pain from being sodomized in the CIA prisons that he sits gingerly on a pillow in court, returns to his cell to recline at the first opportunity and fasts frequently to try to limit bowel movements.”

Another prisoner, an Indonesian man known as Hambali, who is accused of being a leader of the Southeast Asian Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah, requires a knee replacement as a result of injuries suffered during torture at CIA black sites, including being continuously shackled by his ankles.

Space satellites’ discoveries on animals


This 29 April 2019 video about the Antarctic says about itself:

Filming Animals From Space Leads to Incredible Discoveries | Earth From Space | BBC Earth

Satellites filming animals from space lead to unexpected discoveries, from a seal birth to colonies of albatrosses and penguins.

Most taxpayers’ money ever wasted on militarism


Top 15 countries with highest military expenditures

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

Preparing for World War Three

Global military spending tops $1.8 trillion, highest on record

30 April 2019

Global military spending has reached a new post-Cold War high, topping $1.8 trillion in 2018, according to an annual report published this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This marks a 2.6 percent increase over the previous annual record for worldwide military expenditures in 2017.

Most notably, US military spending increased by 4.6 percent in 2018, to $649 billion … . This trend is set to continue, with President Donald Trump having signed a $686 billion budget for 2019 and requesting $718 billion for the Pentagon in 2020. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if current funding trends continue, the US will spend $7 trillion on its military over the next decade, equivalent to the amount which will be spent on education, infrastructure and public health programs combined.

The Trump administration is expending immense sums to modernize and develop the US arsenal to prepare for “great power conflicts”, with China and Russia first among its targets. The Pentagon expects to spend $500 billion over ten years in modernizing all aspects of its nuclear triad—intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and strategic bombers—including the development and deployment of more “usable” low-yield nuclear missiles.

With its continued aim of global dominance, even as its economic position continues to decline, US imperialism far outpaces allies and enemies alike in military spending. In 2018, the US spent more than two and half times the amount of economic rival China ($250 billion) and more than ten times that of the supposedly great menace Russia ($61.4 billion). All told, the US spent as much as the next eight countries combined, accounting for 36 percent of the world’s military spending.

This immense military buildup is being carried out with the support of all factions of the political establishment, without even a whiff of protest. In fact, the Democratic Party’s main critique of Trump has been from the right, demanding even greater military buildup and threats of aggression against Russia.

World military expenditure by region, 1988-2018

The bloody Saudi monarchy, the United States’ chief Arab ally in the Middle East, has held on to the number three spot in military spending, after leading the world in expending the greatest share of its economic output, 8.8 percent of gross domestic product, or $67.6 billion.

The Obama administration funneled more than $110 billion in weaponry to the kingdom over eight years, and the supply of weaponry and training has continued under Trump. Saudi Arabia has been waging an unrelenting onslaught against Yemen for more than four years, utilizing fighter jets and bombs supplied by the US on the defenseless population below, killing tens of thousands and pushing millions to the brink of starvation.

Meanwhile Russia did not qualify for the top five, with its spending falling for the second year in a row, being surpassed by France ($63.8 billion) and India ($66.5 billion), which dwarfs the military buildup of its neighbor Pakistan ($11.4 billion). The two South Asian nations nearly went to war with each other earlier this year.

Germany increased its world ranking from ninth to eighth, spending nearly $50 billion on its military in 2018, increasing its spending by 9 percent since 2009. The coalition government in Berlin has declared that it will increase its role in foreign military interventions in order to assert its position as Europe’s largest economy, planning to spend 1.5 percent of its GDP on its military by 2025.

While Moscow under President Vladimir Putin has been presented as a looming threat to Eastern and Central European nations, not to mention the survival of American democracy, the NATO alliance ($963 billion) outspent Russia nearly 16 to 1. Since 2016, thousands of US and Western European soldiers have been deployed to NATO member countries on or near Russia’s western border, to serve as a potential trip wire for war with one of the largest nuclear armed powers in the world.

Poland has been the spearhead of the military buildup in Central Europe, spending $11.6 billion in 2018, 8.9 percent more than the previous year and nearly 50 percent more than in 2009. With approximately 800 US soldiers currently deployed to Poland on a rotating basis just 50 miles from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, the Pentagon is moving towards building a permanent military base, dubbed “Fort Trump”.

Eight of the 15 countries which saw the highest relative annual increase in military spending were in Southeastern or Central Europe. Latvia increased its military expenditures by 24 percent, Bulgaria by 23 percent, Ukraine by 21 percent and Lithuania and Romania both increased outlays by 18 percent. Lithuania led Europe in its rate of increase over the last decade, hiking its military spending by 156 percent.

Spending in Asia and Oceania topped $500 billion, marking the 30th consecutive year of spending increases, led by China, India, Japan ($46.6 billion), South Korea ($43.1 billion) and Australia ($26.7 billion). Countering the rise of China has been a focus of the United States during this period, both with the military buildup under Obama’s Pivot to Asia and currently with Trump’s trade war policies.

Military spending USA, NATO and Russia, 2018

What the SIPRI figures show is that nearly three decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and the much-heralded triumph of the capitalist economic order, humanity is threatened by a new arms race, led by US imperialism, which threatens the outbreak of a potentially catastrophic world war between nuclear-armed powers.

As in the First and Second World Wars, the division of the world into nation states competing for control of resources and geo-strategic chokepoints once again threatens to drag the world into catastrophe. A colossal amount of resources is being wasted by competing ruling elites in the effort to assert their regional and global economic interests at the expense of the world’s working class. SIPRI’s data shows that in excess of $41 trillion has been spent on building up arsenals of death and destruction around the world over the last three decades.

With new war crimes being prepared in Washington, D.C. and the capitals of Europe, those who exposed the past crimes of US imperialism, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, are being silenced. The critical question facing the world’s working class today is not reform or revolution, but revolution or counter-revolution. The international working class must be mobilized to put an end to the mad drive towards war which threatens all of humanity.

The recent period has seen rising interest in socialism and the growth of the class struggle internationally.

Lizards, shag, bee-eaters, flowers of Tilos


This is an August 2013 video about Tilos.

After 24 April 2019 on Tilos came 25 April.

In the morning, a dozen bee-eaters fly above Megalo Chorio.

A golden oriole sings.

As we walk towards Eristos beach, on the edge of the village a sling-tailed agama lizard.

Flowers, 25 April 2019

We pass fields with common poppies and other flowers.

A clouded yellow butterfly.

Sardinian warbler, 25 April 2019

A Sardinian warbler.

Holy orchids growing along the footpath.

At Eristos beach: searocket flowers, tamarisk trees.

A shag lands and swims in Eristos bay.

Stones, 25 April 2019

Stones in many colours in the sea.

Stones, on 25 April 2019

As we walk back, a male golden oriole.

Poppies, 25 April 2019

Common poppies and other flowers on a hill.

Flowers, on 25 April 2019

Gull, 25 April 2019

A yellow-legged gull on a rock in the sea.

Searocket, 25 April 2019

Again, searocket flowers.

In the evening, back in Megalo Chorio, a scops owl calls.