Terschelling island birds, first day

This 19 May 2019 video says about itself:

Compilation of common birds on the beautiful Island of Terschelling, the Netherlands

On 16 September 2019, we went to Terschelling.

A great cormorant and jackdaws flying over Harlingen harbour.

As the ship approached Terschelling, a lesser black-backed gull swimming alongside it.

Birds of Handa island, Scotland

This 7 July 2019 video says about itself:

Birding on Handa Island, Scotland 4K

Bird species in the video: 1. Northern Wheatear 0:39 2. Arctic Skua (dark morph) 0:42 3. Arctic Skua (light morph) 1:11 4. Great Skua 1:34 5. Northern Fulmar 3:27 6. Atlantic Puffin 5:14 7. Razorbill 6:55 8. Black-legged Kittiwake 7:52 9. Guillemot 8:39 10. Rock Pipit 13:29 11. Skylark 17:30 12. Red-throated Diver 18:14

European Commission, xenophobia and militarism

This 13 September 2019 video is called Bad start? Outrage over new EU Commission ‘European way of life’ portfolio.

By Will Morrow:

“Protecting the European way of life” and “a stronger Europe in the world

New EU Commission to intensify militarism and attacks on refugees

16 September 2019

Ursula von der Leyen, the former German defense minister and incoming head of the European Commission (EC), unveiled her proposed team of commissioners in a press conference last Tuesday. The nominations and titles of the new posts are another marker of the extraordinary pace with which the European ruling class is moving to the right. The incoming EC will oversee an escalation of militarism, vicious attacks on refugees and the elevation of fascist and far-right forces against the working class across the European Union.

The most widely commented upon change is to the portfolio covering immigration and refugees. It was previously titled “Migration, interior affairs and citizenship”. Henceforth it will be named “Vice-president for protecting the European way of life.” It covers not only migration, but responsibility for policing Europe’s external borders and internal security, as well as education and employment policies.

The new title, which associates restricting migrations with protecting a so-called European “way of life,” is a direct reprisal of the tropes of the modern-day fascist right and would have pleased Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels himself.

For example, a major theme advanced by French fascist ideologue Renaud Camus, in his The Great Replacement, is that migration to Europe threatens to replace—i.e., extinguish—European “identity” and culture. Camus’s “theory” was cited by Brenton Tarrant, the fascist terrorist who gunned down 50 Muslim worshipers at two [mosques] in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, in the manifesto he published shortly before the attack. Tarrant’s manifesto opposed what he called an immigrant “invasion” to the west.

The introductory letter from von der Leyen to Margaritis Schinas, a former European Parliament member for the Greek conservative party New Democracy who will fill the role, includes passages that could have been culled directly from the publications of the extreme right. Protecting the “European way of life,” von der Leyen states, “highlights the need for well-managed legal migration, a strong focus on integration and ensuring our communities are cohesive and close-knit.”

“We must address and allay legitimate fears and concerns about the impact of irregular migration on economy and society”, she states. Those whose “legitimate fears” von der Leyen has in mind are evidently the far right, with whom she makes clear the EC will collaborate: “Building a consensus for a fresh start on migration will require outreach, consultation and close cooperation.” Schinas should “lead this work by focusing on building bridges between those most entrenched,” she writes. Von der Leyen’s overtures are entirely in line with the current policies of the European Union, which has promoted far-right forces across the continent, and the German Grand Coalition of which she has been a part. The Grand Coalition has elevated the fascist Alternative for Germany (AfD) to the official opposition in Parliament, and defended the right-wing extremist Humboldt University professor Jorg Baberowski—who infamously remarked that “Hitler was not vicious”—from criticisms by students who have opposed his efforts to justify the revival of German militarism by relativizing the crimes of the Nazis. The Coalition’s intelligence agency, the Verfassungsschutz, has placed the German Socialist Equality Party on a list of left-wing extremists because it opposes capitalism, militarism, fascism and seeks to build a socialist movement of the working class.

The European bourgeoisie is shifting so far to the right that it is increasingly dispensing even with the hypocritical humanitarian titles that it previously bestowed to its right-wing policies. This has provoked consternation even among bourgeois figures in the media and political establishment.

Even outgoing European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker has expressed his concern at the renaming of the immigration post. There have been statements of opposition from individual members of European Parliament, and on Wednesday, the European Parliament voted for a motion by the French MEP for the Greens Karima Delli, protesting the announcement.

These protests are completely cynical and fraudulent. The European Union has overseen a policy of mass murder toward refugees for years, including deliberately canceling rescue ships in the Mediterranean to drown thousands of refugees in the continent’s southern sea as a deterrent to other asylum seekers. All the parties protesting the latest name change support the attack on migrants but want to give their own variant a less accurate title. They know their policies are unpopular in the population and fear an eruption of opposition from below.

Von der Leyen also announced that the foreign relations portfolio will be renamed as the commission for “A Stronger Europe in the World.” …

He will be responsible for overseeing a more aggressive military policy by the European Union against its major geopolitical rivals, including Russia, China and the United States, and escalating predatory operations to secure access to markets and resources for European imperialism.

We must “build our partnership with the USA, although we have issues, but they are our closest allies; define our relation with a more self-assertive China; be a more reliable neighbor, for example to Africa,” von der Leyen said. The foreign relations portfolio will become a “geopolitical commission.” She concluded by declaring that “the world needs more Europe. The world is calling for more Europe.”

By a more “responsible neighbor” for Africa, von der Leyen has in mind an expansion of the ongoing seven-year occupation of resource-rich Mali and the Sahel led by French imperialism in alliance with Germany; the backing for African dictators such as Egypt’s Abdel el-Sisi; the wars for regime change as in Libya in 2011; and the establishment of more concentration camps across the continent to hold asylum seekers.

There is no support for these policies, whose logical outcome is the waging of nuclear war with European imperialism’s geopolitical rivals, in the working class. It is the working class that will be forced to pay for the ruling elite’s militarization through austerity against its social rights and living standards. That is why, as in the 1930s, the ruling class is turning once again to the promotion of far-right and fascist forces.

Other nominations for the EC also indicate a more aggressive policy by the major EU powers.

Margrethe Vestager will be vice-president of an expanded portfolio, “Europe fit for the digital age.” She will retain the competition portfolio, in addition to overseeing regulation of the technology sector. This indicates that the EU will intensify its measures aimed at restricting the power of the major US-based technology companies inside Europe, including Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Vestager had been labeled the “tax lady” by US President Donald Trump after she handed out fines to American technology companies, including €8 billion to Google. Yesterday, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced that France would block Facebook from deploying its new cryptocurrency, Libra, on the continent.

The EU’s restrictions on US-based technology companies are not only directed at Washington but are aimed at strengthening the powers of the EU member states to censor the internet and suppress growing opposition in the working class. In another indication of the turn toward authoritarianism and building up of a police state, the commission for enlargement to oversee the introduction of new member states to the EU will be operated by Laszlo Trocsanyi, an ally of the far-right Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán who helped to craft Orbán’s reforms placing the judiciary under the control of the executive.

The announcement of the new slate of EC commissioners is another confirmation that there is no progressive faction of the European bourgeois political establishment. The working class across the continent confronts a ruling elite that is shifting sharply to the right, preparing for war and establishing the forces of dictatorship to respond to a growing international movement of the working class.

EUROPEAN Union defence ministers agreed to boost “military mobility” and strengthen the bloc’s ability to deploy co-ordinated military force quickly from the Mediterranean to north Africa at today’s Zagreb summit: here.

Stop Saudi war on people of Yemen

This 20 August 2019 video says about itself:

Children Who Survived the School Bus Attack in Yemen Are Still in Pain | Save the Children

One year after an air strike by the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition hit a school bus, killing 40 children and injuring dozens more, three of the child survivors have spoken to Save the Children of their ongoing daily physical and psychological struggle.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Saudi war on Yemen is the real outrage

SAUDI ARABIA might slam a Houthi drone attack on its oil-producing facilities as “terrorist aggression” and find sympathetic echoes in Foreign Office statements from European and Gulf governments.

It can be confident that Western governments will ape its pretence that the drone assault was some kind of unprovoked outrage, just as they have done with previous Houthi missile attacks.

This is nonsense. No particular sympathy with the Houthi cause is required to acknowledge that the drone attack is part of a war — and a war in which the devastation wrought by Saudi Arabia in its bid to crush Yemen’s Houthi movement is the real outrage.

In four years of brutal aerial bombardment, the Saudi-led coalition has launched more than 18,000 bombing raids over Yemen.

Its war was estimated by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project to have killed 56,000 Yemenis between January 2016 and October 2018, a number that will be far higher a year on.

The United Nations announced last December that Yemen would face the worst humanitarian emergency on Earth in 2019 as a result of the Saudi war and blockade, with 24 million people or 74 per cent of the entire population in need of humanitarian assistance.

Bombing raids have targeted hospitals and blown up infrastructure including water treatment and sanitation facilities and supply pipes. The cholera outbreak that has infected well over a million Yemenis in the last three years and killed well over 2,500, around 60 per cent of whom were children, is described by the executive directors of Unicef and the World Health Organisation as “the direct consequence of two years of heavy conflict.

“Collapsing health, water and sanitation systems have cut off 14.5 million people from regular access to clean water and sanitation, increasing the ability of the disease to spread.

“Rising rates of malnutrition have weakened children’s health and made them more vulnerable to disease.”

The military results of this horrendous onslaught have been negligible. Saudi forces have not displaced the Houthi movement from any significant territory. Yet the conflict continues, Riyadh’s deep pockets ensuring it can continue to drop bombs on its victims indefinitely.

Some of the standout massacres of the conflict — such as the bombing of a warehouse in a residential area in May that killed 15 children according to Human Rights Watch, or the bomb dropped on a schoolbus on August 9 2018 that put an end to the lives of 40 six-to-11-year-olds on a school trip and the 11 adults accompanying them — have led to brief international condemnation of Saudi Arabia.

The discovery that the bomb that killed the schoolchildren had been sold to the Saudis by the United States, combined with the backlash to the murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, almost certainly on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, led the US Senate to pass a resolution against any further role in the conflict.

It shames Britain’s government that, like that of France, it continues not only to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in these killing fields but provides Riyadh with active logistical and targeting support.

So far, few countries have echoed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s unsubstantiated claim that the Houthi drone strike on Saudi Arabia was actually the work of Iran, though Boris Johnson’s record of fawning on the Donald Trump administration means we must be ready to resist any push to exploit this incident to ignite the new Middle East conflagration Washington seems so set on.

Our immediate priority is more urgent still: to demand a complete halt to British support for this murderous war and an end to all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and to build a peace movement strong enough to deliver on those demands.

Trump exploits drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities to threaten war against Iran: here.

Without presenting a shred of evidence, the Trump administration charged Tehran with responsibility for attacks that provide a pretext for another US war in the Middle East: here.

The threat that Washington will unleash a major new war in the Middle East continued to escalate Tuesday as US intelligence and military officials—speaking not for attribution—claimed to have established that last Saturday’s attacks on Saudi Arabian oil installations were launched from southwestern Iran. Not a shred of evidence has been provided to substantiate this charge, and, according to Pentagon officials who spoke anonymously to National Public Radio, the evidence claimed is “circumstantial,” consisting of satellite surveillance imagery showing activity at supposed Iranian launch sites in advance of the attack on Abqaiq, the world’s largest crude oil processing facility, and the Khurais oil field, both in eastern Saudi Arabia: here.

US President Donald Trump has been presented with list of targets for US military strikes against Iran as US imperialism draws ever closer to initiating an armed conflict that could prove the antechamber to a third world war: here.