Kingfishers at their nest, video

This 11 June 2019 video is about kingfishers at their nest.

Irene Brinkman in the Netherlands made this video.

More Trump concentration camps for immigrating

This 18 June 2018 British Channel 4 TV video says about itself:

Inside ‘cruel’ US migrant detention camp for kids

“Cruel, immoral and heart-breaking” is how the former US first lady, Laura Bush, has described a zero-tolerance approach to immigration, which has seen children separated from their parents at the Mexican border.

The policy was introduced six weeks ago … The experience of migrants coming over the border from Mexico to the US has been documented for the past decade by the award-winning Getty photographer, John Moore.

By Eric London in the USA:

Trump expands network of immigrant concentration camps

11 June 2019

The mounting scale of the US government’s attack on immigrants is a warning that the Trump administration, without opposition from the Democratic Party, is adopting an official state policy of physical violence and mass, indefinite detention.

The US government arrested 144,000 immigrants in the month of May and is detaining 400,000 people per year, including 41,000 unaccompanied children, enough to fill Chicago’s Wrigley Field. On any given night, there are now 48,000 immigrants and an additional 13,000 unaccompanied children sleeping in detention beds.

Another 10,000 people are currently living under tarps in makeshift camps on the Mexican side of the border, where, in flagrant violation of international law, they are being held as they await adjudication of their asylum applications in the US.

There are 4,000 US soldiers deployed on the border, and on Friday the Pentagon announced it is building three sprawling compounds on isolated military bases to hold between 3,000 and 4,000 immigrant children who will be housed in tents encircled by razor wire.

Particularly sinister is the fact that the government has allowed 31 immigrants to die in captivity since 2017, including seven children. In addition, the administration will no longer provide education, legal assistance or outdoor recreation for detained children.

Virtually abandoned is the pretense that immigrant children are being held for processing. Now these children, some of whom are infants, are being openly held for punishment.

In Saturday’s Los Angeles Times, writer Jonathan Katz referred to a “growing system of concentration camps”, calling them “places where people are being tortured and left to die.” The article, titled, “Call immigration detention centers what they really are: <a href=” camps”, warned: “Even the Nazis’ camps started out small, housing criminals, Communists and opponents of the regime. It took five years to begin the mass detention of Jews. It took eight, and the outbreak of a world war, for the first extermination camps to open.”

In a country where the population looks on fascism with hatred, and where the vast majority of people are either immigrants or the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of immigrants, Trump will not be able to massively expand his network of concentration camps or continue killing immigrants without provoking widespread opposition from below. Repeated polls show that the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants are unpopular. There is no American official more despised than Stephen Miller, the neo-Nazi architect of Trump’s immigration crackdown.

These fascistic policies are being implemented under conditions where US troops are deployed on American soil and the White House has declared a “national emergency”—Trump’s increasingly preferred method of rule. On Friday, he announced a deal with Mexico that will seal Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala and result in the effective revocation of the right to asylum.

Powerful factions of the ruling class that back the Democratic Party have accepted Trump’s fascistic attacks on immigrants and are urging congressional Democrats to support the expanding crackdown.

On June 8, the day after Trump’s deal with Mexico, the Washington Post published an editorial board statement titled “How Trump and Congress can really fix our immigration problems.” The statement is based on the racist premise, promoted by Miller and Trump, that refugees fleeing violence are “perversely” using their children as pawns.

The newspaper, owned by Amazon’s multibillionaire CEO Jeff Bezos, writes: “A concatenation of court rulings, congressional inaction and administration failures has created a perverse incentive for migrants to cross the border with children. They claim asylum; a swamped court system postpones their case for years; the government does not have the facilities or the legal right to hold them; so they are ‘paroled’ into the United States for an extended period.”

The Post calls for a system that would reject applications “quickly” so that “word would get out and fewer families would come.” The newspaper demands that the government “strengthen the border regime” and “impose real penalties on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.”

The New York Times published a similar editorial statement on June 9, titled “When will Congress get serious about the suffering at the border?” The editorial accepts the fraudulent claim by the Trump administration that the border is being overrun and that the solution is to massively fund the border police and immigration agencies and increase the number of detention beds.

Feigning concern over poor conditions in the detention facilities, the Times defends Trump’s decision to eliminate English classes, outdoor sports and legal aid for immigrant children. “Administration critics called the move ‘cruel’ and ‘illegal’, but the financial reality is that the agency is overwhelmed”, it writes.

The newspaper demands that Congress “stop dithering and pass emergency funding” for border security. It denounces the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus for insisting on a “hard line” in negotiations. It further declares that “the broader problem is that many Democrats have come to view the administration as untrustworthy, and they are loath to hand over one more penny for anything to do with immigration.” By the Times’ cynical logic, the way to lessen immigrants’ suffering is to hand billions more dollars to their sadistic jailers.

The Post and the Times are two of the loudest mouthpieces of the Democratic Party’s campaign to label Trump as a stooge of Russia. The hysterical tone they employ to denounce Trump for refusing to “protect our democracy” from “Russian interference” stands in stark contrast to their tacit support for Trump’s proposal that “our democracy” include a network of concentration camps. Since his inauguration, the Democratic Party has based its opposition to Trump chiefly on concerns within the ruling elite that Trump is an incompetent manager of the foreign policy agenda of US imperialism. Above all, the Democratic Party fears the growth of left-wing social opposition from below. …

Tens of millions across the world are fleeing the impact of imperialist wars waged by the US ruling class. In the case of Central America, one percent of the total population of both Honduras and Guatemala has fled through Mexico to the US in the first six months of 2018 to escape the devastating impact of over a century of imperialist exploitation.

The Socialist Equality Party calls for the broadest mobilization of the working class and young people in defense of immigrant workers through strikes, protests, sit-ins and mass demonstrations. The front line of the fight against dictatorship is the fight to stop the government from carrying out horrific crimes against immigrants.

The SEP demands the immediate withdrawal of all troops from the US-Mexico border and the dismantling of all border barriers and checkpoints. All immigrants who so desire must be immediately naturalized as US citizens, and those responsible for mass deportations must be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Workers of the world must be given the right to freely choose between relocating to another country or remaining in their homelands.

A video demonstrating the viciousness of the US government’s bipartisan war on immigrants went viral last week, eliciting outrage from the public and provoking an avalanche of angry responses on the internet. Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian argued before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit last week that it is legal for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to deny children in detention soap, toothpaste, blankets, and a place to sleep for days or weeks on end. A video of the exchange posted online went viral, eliciting outrage from the public and provoked an avalanche of angry responses on social media: here.

TEEN MOM AND PREMATURE BABY NEGLECTED AT BORDER A prematurely born infant and her 17-year-old mother spent seven days almost entirely neglected in Border Patrol custody, according to lawyers who visited an immigrant processing station in McAllen, Texas. [HuffPost]

After Democrats fund concentration camps. Trump renews threat of mass immigrant raids “sometime after July Fourth”: here.

Mexican fireflies’ mating dance, video

This 10 June 2019 video says about itself:

Every year, hundreds of thousands of fireflies begin their mating dance in the pine forests of Mexico. Filmmaker Blake Congdon captured this incredible phenomenon as never before seen.

Donald Trump’s CIA coup against British Labour?

This 11 June 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

[United States President Donald Trump‘s Secretary of State and ex-CIA boss] Mike Pompeo Threatens To Stop Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn In Leaked Recordings

By Robert Stevens in Britain:

US Secretary of State Pompeo threatens “push-back” to prevent a Corbyn Labour government

11 June 2019

In a closed-door discussion last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted the veil on plans to prevent a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government from coming to power in Britain.

In an audio recording of a meeting held last Tuesday with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Pompeo is asked if Corbyn “is elected, would you be willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?”

Pompeo replied, “It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best … It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

The recording was leaked to the Washington Post

The statements were made as US President Donald Trump was in Britain during his three-day state visit. Pompeo’s sinister language confirms that moves to remove Corbyn from the political scene before he is ever allowed to take power are being actively discussed.

Extreme right-wing and fascistic elements have been behind the moves to remove Corbyn from the outset. Central to the “Get Corbyn” operation, in place since the day he was elected Labour leader in September 2015, were the US intelligence services—in league with MI5, MI6

The operation has been organised via the Blairite faction of the Labour Party, backed by the ruling Conservative Party and leading representatives of the military.

The Socialist Equality Party warned in 2016 that the “putsch against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is being mounted by a right-wing cabal, working in intimate collusion with the security services in Britain and the United States.”

Pompeo didn’t outline what would be required to prevent Corbyn from being elected and what a “push-back” against him would involve. But senior figures in the UK military have already made clear what they are prepared to carry out: a coup d’état along the lines of that which the CIA engineered in Chile in 1973 that ended with the murder of elected social-democrat leader Salvador Allende and thousands of his supporters.

Just a week after being elected Labour leader, with the backing of hundreds of thousands of Labour members and supporters, the [Rupert Murdoch owned] Sunday Times carried comments from a “senior serving general” that in the event of Corbyn becoming prime minister, there would be “the very real prospect” of “a mutiny”.

The general revealed that the military would be prepared to use “whatever means possible, fair or foul”. He warned, “You would see a major break in convention with senior generals directly and publicly challenging Corbyn over vital important policy decisions such as Trident [nuclear weapons], pulling out of NATO and any plans to emasculate and shrink the size of the armed forces.”

Just a few months later, Britain’s then Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Nicholas Houghton, asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr about Corbyn’s statement that he would never authorise the use of nuclear weapons, replied, “Well, it would worry me if that thought was translated into power.”

In recent weeks, the Blairites have deepened their offensive to smear Corbyn and the wider left as supporters of anti-Semitism. Leaving the Labour Party in April to set up their now almost defunct Change UK group—which a number of them have since abandoned—the Blairites involved, such as Luciana Berger and Mike Gapes, said that Labour had become a “sickeningly institutionally racist” party (Berger) under Corbyn, and a “racist, anti-Semitic party” (Gapes).

Following the expulsion last month from the party of Blair’s former spin-doctor, Alastair Campbell—after voting in violation of Labour’s rulebook for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections—complained he was being disciplined while party members he described as anti-Semites were not.

Everyone knows that Corbyn is not and has never been an anti-Semite. He is being targeted, utilising filthy lies and slanders, because US and British imperialism will not allow a government to come to office that is in any way associated with the denunciations of imperialism and NATO that Corbyn once articulated.

The forces attacking Corbyn fear that if he won office—under conditions of growing social polarisation set to escalate under Brexit—millions of workers and youth would demand he make good on previous pledges to oppose austerity, militarism, war and attacks on democratic rights.

Pompeo’s latest attack must be seen in the context of his denunciation of Corbyn—on these very issues—made just last month. Prior to Trump’s visit, Pompeo held talks with senior figures in the May government. During a press conference in London, he was asked by a right-wing website his thoughts on Corbyn’s “endorsement” of the Maduro government and his statement opposing “outside interference” in Venezuela.

Pompeo replied, “It is disgusting to see leaders, in not only the United Kingdom, but the United States as well, who continue to support the murderous dictator Maduro. … It is not in either of our country’s best interests for those leaders to continue to advocate on their behalf.”

In order words, anyone who even indicates the slightest opposition to imperialist wars and regime change operations cannot be allowed to take office.

This 9 June 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

How corporate forces are lobbying for a coup in Venezuela

Thomas Hedges looks at the forces behind the Venezuelan regime change lobby in Washington, DC and the campaign of disinformation the opposition and its US backers have waged to gin up support for sanctions and even military intervention.

Trump administration‘s threat to sabotage Corbyn reveals its ‘contempt for democracy’. The British left hits back at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s sinister remarks: here.

In a tweet Sunday, President Trump announced that he will nominate ultra-right Republican Representative John Ratcliffe to replace Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats, who has submitted his resignation effective August 15. Coats filled the position as the nominal head of the vast US intelligence apparatus for more than two years. The DNI controls no intelligence resources of its own, but is supposed to act as the spokesman for the 17 agencies that report through him to the president. In practice, however, the CIA provides the “President’s Daily Brief” and other key intelligence documents to the White House: here.

Tropical birds’ non-tropical ancestry

This April 2018 video is called The Attractive and Colorful Turacos of Africa.

From the University of Cambridge in England:

Past climate change pushed birds from the northern hemisphere to the tropics

Researchers have shown how millions of years of climate change affected the range and habitat of modern birds, suggesting that many groups of tropical birds may be relatively recent arrivals in their equatorial homes.

The researchers, from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, applied climate and ecological modelling to illustrate how the distribution of major bird groups is linked to climate change over millions of years. However, while past climate change often occurred slowly enough to allow species to adapt or shift habitats, current rates of climate change may be too fast for many species, putting them at risk of extinction. The results are reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Palaeontologists have documented long-term links between climate and the geographic distributions of major bird groups, but the computer models needed to quantify this link had not been applied to this question until now,” said Dr Daniel Field from Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, the paper’s co-lead author.

For the current study, the researchers looked at ten bird groups currently limited to the tropics, predominantly in areas that were once part of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana (Africa, South America and Australasia). However, early fossil representatives of each of these groups have been found on northern continents, well outside their current ranges.

For example, one such group, the turacos (‘banana eaters’) are fruit-eating birds which are only found in the forests and savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa, but fossils of an early turaco relative have been found in modern-day Wyoming, in the northern United States.

Today, Wyoming is much too cold for turacos for most of the year, but during the early Palaeogene period, which began with the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago, the Earth was much warmer. Over time, global climates have cooled considerably, and the ancestors of modern turacos gradually shifted their range to more suitable areas.

“We modelled the habitable area for each group of birds and found that their estimated habitable ranges in the past were very different from their geographic distributions today, in all cases shifting towards the equator over geological time,” said Dr Erin Saupe from the University of Oxford, the paper’s other lead author.

Saupe, Field and their collaborators mapped information such as average temperature and rainfall and linked it to where each of the bird groups is found today. They used this climatic information to build an ‘ecological niche model’ to map suitable and unsuitable regions for each bird group. They then projected these ecological niche models onto palaeoclimate reconstructions to map potentially-suitable habitats over millions of years.

The researchers were able to predict the geographic occurrences of fossil representatives of these groups at different points in Earth’s history. These fossils provide direct evidence that these groups were formerly distributed in very different parts of the world to where they are presently found.

“We’ve illustrated the extent to which suitable climate has dictated where these groups of animals were in the past, and where they are now,” said Field. “Depending on the predictions of climate change forecasts, this approach may also allow us to estimate where they might end up in the future.”

“Many of these groups don’t contain a large number of living species, but each lineage represents millions of years of unique evolutionary history,” said Saupe. “In the past, climate change happened slowly enough that groups were able to track suitable habitats as these moved around the globe, but now that climate change is occurring at a much faster rate, it could lead to entire branches of the tree of life going extinct in the near future.”

The research was funded in part by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Netherlands-New Zealand women’s World Cup, 1-0

Dutch international player Jill Roord, who scored the only goal in today's match against New Zealand, photo by Pro Shots

Today, during the women’s football World Cup tournament in France, the Dutch team beat New Zealand 1-0. By a header by substitute Jill Roord, whose club is Arsenal in London, in extra time.

This video is a summary of the match.

To celebrate, here a video about the Dutch national bird, the black-tailed godwit.

It is a 2015 video about black-tailed godwits in Iceland.

As the New Zealand women’s team are nicknamed the Football Ferns (they also have ferns depicted on their shirts), here also a video about New Zealand ferns.

This 2012 video is called The New Zealand Silver Fern.

The usual Dutch brass band ‘t Spul(t) was present. They played various songs, including Verdi’s Aida triumphal march. And Hup Holland Hup; a song written in 1950 for the Dutch men’s national soccer team. Sometimes the fans started singing it, and then the brass band joined in.

Canadian carnivorous plants eat young salamanders

This 10 June 2019 video says about itself:

Botanical carnivory: Hungry plants and their salamander prey

Botanical carnivory: New research published by Algonquin Wildlife Research Station student Patrick Moldowan (University of Toronto, Canada), Alex Smith (University of Guelph, Canada), Njal Rollinson (University of Toronto), and colleagues (Teskey Baldwin, Tim Bartley, Hannah Wynen, University of Guelph) demonstrate a sinister side of the plant world. This video shows two young Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) trapped in the pitcher of a Northern Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea), a carnivorous plant that lives in nutrient-poor bogs. Salamanders for supper? Yes!

Video by: Patrick D. Moldowan.

From the University of Guelph in Canada:

Bug-eating pitcher plants found to consume young salamanders, too

June 7, 2019

Summary: Pitcher plants growing in wetlands across Canada have long been known to eat creatures — mostly insects and spiders — that fall into their bell-shaped leaves and decompose in rainwater collected there. But researchers have discovered that vertebrates — specifically, salamanders — are also part of their diet.

Call it the “Little Bog of Horrors.” In what is believed to be a first for North America, biologists at the University of Guelph have discovered that meat-eating pitcher plants in Ontario’s Algonquin Park wetlands consume not just bugs but also young salamanders.

In a paper published this week in the journal Ecology, the research team reports what integrative biologist Alex Smith calls the “unexpected and fascinating case of plants eating vertebrates in our backyard, in Algonquin Park.”

Pitcher plants growing in wetlands across Canada have long been known to eat creatures — mostly insects and spiders — that fall into their bell-shaped leaves and decompose in rainwater collected there.

But until now, no one had reported this salamander species caught by a pitcher plant in North America, including Canada’s oldest provincial park, a popular destination where the plants have been observed for hundreds of years.

Noting how long the park has held its secret — despite generations of visiting naturalists, its proximity to major cities and a highway running through its southern end — Smith said, “Algonquin Park is so important to so many people in Canada. Yet within the Highway 60 corridor, we’ve just had a first.”

In summer 2017, then undergraduate student Teskey Baldwin found a salamander trapped inside a pitcher plant during a U of G field ecology course in the provincial park.

He’s a co-author on the new paper along with other researchers at U of G and the University of Toronto.

Monitoring pitcher plants around a single pond in the park in fall 2018, the team found almost one in five contained the juvenile amphibians, each about as long as a human finger. Several plants contained more than one captured salamander.

Those observations coincided with “pulses” of young salamanders crawling onto land after changing from their larval state in the pond. Smith said these bog ponds lack fish, making salamanders a key predator and prey species in food webs.

He said some of the animals may have fallen into the plants, perhaps attracted by insect prey. Others may have entered the plants to escape predators.

Some trapped salamanders died within three days, while others lived for up to 19 days.

Prey caught inside the plant’s specialized leaves is broken down by plant digestive enzymes and other organisms in the water held inside the leaf. Smith said other factors may kill salamanders in pitcher plants, including heat, starvation or infection by pathogens.

He said pitcher plants may have become carnivorous to gain nutrients, especially nitrogen, that are lacking in nutrient-poor bog soil.

Other flesh-eating plants grow in nutrient-poor environments around the world. They include sundews, which use their sticky leaves to catch insects, and the Venus flytrap, whose carnivory partly inspired the Seymour plant in the sci-fi musical Little Shop of Horrors.

Meat-eating pitcher plants have been known since the eighteenth century. One species discovered a decade ago in Asia consumes mostly insects and spiders but also captures small birds and mice.

Smith said the Algonquin Park discovery opens new questions for biologists. Are salamanders an important prey source for pitcher plants? Are the plants important “predators” of the amphibians? Might the salamanders compete with plants for insect prey — and even “choke” the plant?

Tongue-in-cheek, he added that the find may also prompt park officials to rewrite interpretive materials. “I hope and imagine that one day the bog’s interpretive pamphlet for the general public will say, ‘Stay on the boardwalk and watch your children. Here be plants that eat vertebrates.'”