Swiming sea cucumbers, video


This 14 June 2019 video says about itself:

Weird and Wonderful: Swimming sea cucumbers

It can be hard to move from place to place for many animals that live on the seafloor and move slowly. Most sea cucumbers (Holothurians) live a sedentary life on the bottom of the ocean, eating sediment or detritus that rains down from above. But some sea cucumbers leave the life of eating and pooping on the seafloor temporarily by swimming. They may do this as a defense behavior, or to find a mate. Sea cucumbers have made remarkable adaptations to master the challenges of living in the deep sea.

For more information on the importance of holothurians in deep ecosystems see here.

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Saudi beheading for opposing banning of music?


This 16 February 2018 video, in Arabic with English subtitles, says about itself:

Male-female interaction (free mixing) allowed in Islam (Shaykh Hasan ibn Farhan al-Maliki)

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Saudi Arabia wants to kill religious reformer for his ideas about Islam”

Human Rights Watch warns that the Saudi authorities want to impose the death penalty on a moderate religious thinker based on a series of vague indictments. The Islamic cleric has been detained since September 2017, according to the human rights organization because he is calling for reform of religious rules in Saudi Arabia.

This Hassan Farhan al-Maliki is said to have criticized, eg, clergy who ban music. He is said also have argued for freedom of religion. His opponents believe that his ideas are in conflict with Wahabism, the conservative tendency of Islam followed in Saudi Arabia.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi authorities call him an extremist who has insulted the rulers of the country.

“Does not match with statements of crown prince

The prosecution of the clergyman is not in line with the statements by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, human rights activists say. Bin Salman has said that he wants to introduce a more moderate version of Islam into Saudi Arabia and thus open up the country to the rest of the world.

“Reforms only really take place if thinkers like al-Maliki can express themselves freely without fear of being arrested or even executed“, says Human Rights Watch.

“Now the Saudi authorities want to put a man to death because he criticizes clergy who ban music. Meanwhile, Saudi leaders pay millions to public relations corporations to show how progressive they are by allowing concerts by western artists in Saudi Arabia.”

More criticism

International criticism has been made of the reform policy announced by the Saudi crown prince two years ago. Critics say that little has changed in practice and point to all the intellectuals and clerics who have been arrested since bin Salman said he wants to introduce a more moderate Islam.

Including jailing the women activists who made it possible for women to drive cars in torture prisons, threatening them with beheading.

The crown prince was also criticized for having been involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia still fighting the war in neighboring Yemen.

TRUMP DEFENDS ‘BIG BUYER’ SAUDI ARABIA President Donald Trump shrugged off his own government’s report that Saudi Arabian leadership ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, stressing that the Middle Eastern kingdom is a “big buyer” of U.S. products. [HuffPost]

Pentagon contribution to global warming, new study


This 28 August 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Pentagon dumps tons of hazardous waste yearly without disclosing pollution harm

Pop quiz – name the entity that takes the title for largest polluter in the US? As a recent piece in Counterpunch points out, it’s actually not a corporation but rather the Department of Defense. The Pentagon dumps more than 700,000 tons of hazardous waste a year. Frank Vera, an Air Force veteran and founder of http://www.georgeairforce.info, says the Air Force and Marines never address the pollution problems, out of fear for losing their jobs.

From Lancaster University in England:

U.S. military consumes more hydrocarbons than most countries — massive hidden impact on climate

June 20, 2019

The US military’s carbon footprint is enormous and must be confronted in order to have a substantial effect on battling global warming, experts argue.

Research by social scientists from Durham University and Lancaster University shows the US military is one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries.

The majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting routinely focuses on civilian energy use and fuel consumption, not on the US military. This new study, published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, calculates part of the US military’s impact on climate change through critical analysis of its global logistical supply chains.

The research provides an independent public assessment of the US military’s greenhouse gas emissions. It reports that if the US military were a nation state, it would be the 47th largest emitter of GHG in the world, if only taking into account the emission from fuel usage.

Report co-author Dr Patrick Bigger, of Lancaster University Environment Centre, said: “The US Military has long understood it is not immune from the potential consequences of climate change — recognising it as a threat multiplier that can exacerbate other threats — nor has it ignored its own contribution to the problem.

“Yet its climate policy is fundamentally contradictory — confronting the effects of climate change while remaining the largest single institutional consumer of hydrocarbons in the world, a situation it is locked into for years to come because of its dependence on existing aircraft and warships for open-ended operations around the globe.”

Despite the recent increase in attention, the US military’s dependence on fossil fuels is unlikely to change. The US is continuing to pursue open-ended operations around the globe, with the life-cycles of existing military aircraft and warships locking them into hydrocarbons for years to come.

The research comes at a time when the US military is preparing for climate change through both its global supply networks and its security infrastructure. This study brings transparency to one of the world’s largest institutional consumers of hydrocarbons at a time when the issue is a hot-button topic on the US Presidential campaign trail. Leading Democratic candidates, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, are asking critical questions of the role of the US military in climate change and examining its plans for the future.

Co-author Dr Benjamin Neimark, Associate Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster, said: “This research provides ample evidence to support recent calls by activist networks to include the US military in Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s Green New Deal and other international climate treaties.”

Co-author Dr Oliver Belcher, of Durham University’s Department of Geography, said: “Our research demonstrates that to account for the US military as a major climate actor, you must understand the logistical supply chain that makes its acquisition and consumption of hydrocarbon-based fuels possible.

“How do we account for the most far-reaching, sophisticated supply chains, and the largest climate polluter in history? While incremental changes can amount to radical effects in the long-run, there is no shortage of evidence that the climate is at a tipping point and more is needed.”

The researchers’ examination of the US military ‘carbon boot-print’ started with the US Defense Logistics Agency — Energy (DLA-E), a powerful yet virtually unresearched sub-agency within the larger Defense Logistics Agency. It is the primary purchase-point for hydrocarbon-based fuels for the US Military, and a powerful actor in the global oil market, with the fuels it delivers powering everything from routine base operations in the USA to forward operating bases in Afghanistan.

“An important way to cool off the furnace of the climate emergency is to turn off vast sections of the military machine,” added Dr Neimark. “This will have not only the immediate effect of reducing emissions in the here-and-now, but create a disincentive in developing new hydrocarbon infrastructure integral to US military operations.”

Other key findings of the report include:

  • In 2017 alone, the US military purchased about 269,230 barrels of oil a day and emitted more than 25,000 kt- CO2e by burning those fuels. In 2017 alone, the Air Force purchased $4.9 billion worth of fuel and the Navy $2.8 billion, followed by the Army at $947 million and Marines at $36 million.
  • If the US military were a country, it would nestle between Peru and Portugal in the global league table of fuel purchasing, when comparing 2014 World Bank country liquid fuel consumption with 2015 US military liquid fuel consumption.
  • For 2014, the scale of emissions is roughly equivalent to total — not just fuel — emissions from Romania. According to the DLA-E data obtained by the researchers, which includes GHG emissions from direct or stationary sources, indirect or mobile sources and electricity use, and other indirect, including upstream and downstream emissions.
  • The Air Force is by far the largest emitter of GHG at more than 13,000 kt CO2e, almost double that of the US Navy’s 7,800 kt CO2e. In addition to using the most polluting types of fuel, the Air Force and Navy are also the largest purchasers of fuel.

MEDICAL GROUPS WARN ON CLIMATE CHANGE Nearly 75 medical and public health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association, are calling for a series of consensus commitments to combat climate change, saying the phenomenon is a “health emergency.” [AP]

American prothonotary warblers threatened


This 2013 video from North America is called Prothonotary Warbler Portrait.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office:

Key locations for declining songbird

June 19, 2019

Many of North America’s migratory songbirds, which undertake awe-inspiring journeys twice a year, are declining at alarming rates. For conservation efforts to succeed, wildlife managers need to know where they go and what challenges they face during their annual migration to Latin America and back. For a new study published by The Condor: Ornithological Applications, researchers in six states assembled an unprecedented effort to track where Prothonotary Warblers that breed across the eastern U.S. go in winter — their “migratory connectivity” — and found that nearly the entire species depends on a relatively small area in Colombia threatened by deforestation and sociopolitical changes.

The Ohio State University’s Christopher Tonra and his colleagues coordinated the deployment of 149 geolocators, tiny devices that use the timing of dawn and dusk to estimate birds’ locations, on Prothonotary Warblers captured at sites across their breeding range. When the birds returned to their nesting sites the following year, the researchers were able to recover 34 devices that contained enough data for them to use. The geolocator data showed that regardless of where they bred, most of the warblers used the same two major Central American stopover sites during their migration and spent the winter in a relatively small area of northern Colombia. Additionally, many Prothonotary Warblers appeared to winter in inland areas, rather than in coastal mangrove habitat, which previous studies suggested they relied on most heavily.

These unexpected findings show that we may not understand the winter habitat needs of migratory songbirds as well as we thought. “The most surprising thing about the results was the overwhelming importance of Colombia to this species”, says Tonra. “We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of migratory connectivity, but we never expected that nearly every bird would use the same wintering region. This provided a clear conservation message and shows the power of geolocators in addressing gaps in our knowledge of migratory songbirds.” Colombia’s 50-year civil war accelerated deforestation in the region of the country where the warblers are concentrated, but the good news is that the convergence of birds in this single area means that conservation efforts targeted here could benefit breeding populations across North America.

Collecting data on birds across such a broad geographic area required close collaboration among the study’s thirteen coauthors. “This was very much a team effort, but it really started with Erik Johnson at Audubon Louisiana and Jared Wolfe with the Louisiana Bird Observatory,” says Tonra. “Erik founded and leads our Prothonotary Warbler Working Group, and he initiated the idea of deploying tags across their range. This was an extremely rewarding example of what you can accomplish through collaboration across the range of a species of concern. Everyone put in an enormous effort to gather data in their region, as well as contributing to the preparation of the paper.”

German villagers stop nazis from drinking beer


This 22 June 2019 video from Ostritz, Germany shows a demonstration against a nazi music festival there.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

No beer for neo-nazis: village takes away drinking supplies

Visitors to a neo-nazi festival in Ostritz, Germany, cannot enjoy a beer this weekend: the inhabitants of the village have taken away the entire supply of alcoholic drink.

Many of the 2,400 inhabitants of the village do not want the Schild und Schwert festival, where extreme right-wing bands perform for around 750 spectators. Moreover, people were afraid that drunken festival-goers would cause nuisance.

A judge therefore imposed an alcohol ban on the festival grounds: 4400 liters of beer from the organization were seized in the run-up to the meeting, another 200 liters were taken from visitors.

To be sure that the visitors would not buy liquor at the local supermarket, the entire supply was bought up. Volunteers took around 120 crates with them in shopping carts and a trailer.

Murder of Lübcke

In addition to the purchase, the villagers have planned further events to protest against the right-wing visitors. A peace festival is held in the village square: a football tournament is held on a cheerful fake beach and the text of the constitution is distributed free of charge. There was also a counter demonstration, where around 300 demonstrators came.

More than 300, according to the caption of the video on top of this blog post.

The radical ideology is current again in Germany after the murder of the politician Walter Lübcke, for which an extreme right-wing suspect has been arrested. In addition, there was unrest again around Eid-al-Fitr (the Islamic holiday) in Chemnitz.

GERMAN TOWN KEEPS NAZI FESTIVAL BEER-FREE Neo-Nazis were met with a sober welcome last week when they arrived in the town of Ostritz in Saxony to attend a right-wing music festival. A court had ruled that no alcohol could be served or consumed at the event, and Ostritz locals reportedly banded together to buy all the beer in town, just to be sure. [HuffPost]