Birds, flowers and fungi of Terschelling island


Honeysuckle, Terschelling, 19 September 2019

After 18 September 2019 on Terschelling island came 19 September. Which started for us with this beautiful honeysuckle flower. Like all photos in this blog post, a macro lens photo.

Honeysuckle flowers, Terschelling, 19 September 2019

And these ones.

Honeysuckle flowers on Terschelling, 19 September 2019

And these ones.

Most heather flowers were gone; except for a few small patches.

Parasol mushroom, Terschelling, 19 September 2019

A bit further, big parasol mushrooms.

Parasol mushrooms, Terschelling, 19 September 2019

Parasol mushroom, on Terschelling, 19 September 2019

Eight meadow pipits on the meadow near these mushrooms.

A buzzard on a top of a coniferous tree.

A speckled wood butterfly.

In the Kroonpolders lake, two greenshanks.

Brown roll-rim fungi.

As we approached the North Sea, a dead young herring gull along the footpath.

In a sea-buckthorn bush, a brown-tail moth winter nest.

On a coastal sand dune, European searocket attracted honeybees and a bumblebee.

A great cormorant swims and dives in the North Sea.

European searocket, Terschelling, 19 September 2019

As we walked back, this European searocket photo.

We walked back further. Now, four greenshanks at the Kroonpolders lake.

Still further, two buzzards circling around each other.

United States-Mexican General Motors workers’ solidarity


This 23 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Striking GM worker supports victimized Mexican GM workers

GM fires Mexican workers for aiding US strikers and calling for cross-border fight against automaker.

United States presidential candidate Joe Biden


This 22 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Joe Biden’s ‘Gaffes’ Are Much Bigger Problem for Democrats Than Embarrassment

Joe Biden’s off-the-cuff comments aren’t playing well to audiences any more. Is this an indication of a too-long political career finally declining, or is this a sign of a much bigger problem for the Democratic Party in 2020? Jacqueline Luqman talks with The Week contributor Ryan Cooper.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Joe Biden: A familiar face, a deeply reactionary record

23 September 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been a leading figure in American capitalist politics for nearly 50 years. He was first elected to the US Senate in 1972 from the state of Delaware and spent 36 years in office before his eight years as vice president in the Obama administration.

While Biden today seeks to emphasize his association with Obama to give a liberal gloss to his political career and curry favor with black voters … Obama mouthed rhetoric about “hope and change” to appeal to the millions who hated President George W. Bush and the Republicans, but he selected as his running mate the most right-wing figure among those who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. This set the tone for an administration that bailed out Wall Street at the expense of the working class, added wars in Libya and Syria to those it inherited and continued in Iraq and Afghanistan

In the lead-up to announcing his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden created controversy with his gratuitous praise for ultra-reactionary segregationist Democrats in the Senate like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, citing their willingness to work with him in a collegial fashion despite supposed political differences. This was not simply a “gaffe”, as the media claimed, but revealed something of Biden’s long-term political role, both in the Senate and in the Obama administration.

He has always been a Democratic wheeler-dealer, able and willing to work with the most reactionary forces in both capitalist parties when it served the interests of corporate America. Biden was never afraid to get his hands dirty, and in the process covered himself with the muck and filth of American capitalist politics.

This is why the current effort to package and sell Biden as the embodiment of up-from-hardship, struggling Americans, as “middle class Joe”, rings so hollow. He first came to the Senate in 1973 at age 29 and spent a political lifetime in the circles of power and influence in Washington.

It should be noted—particularly for readers outside the United States—that Biden’s home state of Delaware has an infamous reputation as the headquarters location of choice for giant corporations seeking to evade taxes, regulations and scrutiny of all kinds.

The tiny state has only 975,000 people, ranking 44th of the 50 states. However, “More than 1,000,000 business entities have made Delaware their legal home”, according to the state’s Division of Corporations website. “More than 50 percent of all publicly-traded companies in the US including 64 percent of the Fortune 500 have chosen Delaware as their legal home.”

Delaware is the Cayman Islands or Singapore of America, sheltering corporate tax evasion and criminality of every kind, and every capitalist politician from that state, Democrat and Republican alike, upholds that distinction. It was this particularly noxious milieu that produced the young Senator Joe Biden.

It took several years of cajoling, but in 1977 Biden finally obtained a coveted seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, then under the chairmanship of James Eastland. In 1981, when the Republicans gained a majority in the Senate, the chairmanship passed to Republican Strom Thurmond, the antediluvian reactionary from South Carolina who had run for president in 1948 as the candidate of the States’ Rights Democratic Party, the ultra-right segregationist wing of the Democrats, and who crossed over to the Republicans in 1964 in opposition to Lyndon Johnson’s concessions to the civil rights movement.

From 1981 through 1997, a period of nearly two decades, Biden was either the ranking Democrat under Thurmond or chairman himself after the Democrats regained control in 1987-1995. Thurmond and Biden collaborated closely in approving such Supreme Court nominees as Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas, and in passing numerous pieces of law-and-order legislation that resulted in longer jail terms for millions of people.

Biden likes to dismiss this legislation as ancient history, seeking to avoid any close scrutiny of what he actually did. But the record demonstrates his role as the principal advocate within the Democratic Party of the most brutal forms of state repression, including, among other things, capital punishment. The laws included:

* The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which established mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, increased the penalties for marijuana cultivation and use, and re-established the federal death penalty.

* The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which contained the notorious 100-1 provision penalizing possession of crack cocaine over powder cocaine by that ratio (a minimum five-year sentence for 5 grams of crack or 500 grams of powder).

* The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which further stiffened penalties for drug abuse, provided $6.5 billion for the “war on drugs” and strengthened the federal death penalty.

* The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which created 60 new federal death penalty offenses, stripped federal inmates of the right to obtain educational Pell grants, set aside money for 100,000 new police officers and further entrenched a “three-strikes” rule in sentencing.

The combined impact of this legislation was barbaric and racially discriminatory. A report from the US Sentencing Commission found that in 1992, 91.4 percent of federal crack cocaine offenders were black, even though the majority of crack users were white. And Biden was a fervent defender of these laws, boasting in one Senate speech, “We do everything but hang people for jaywalking in this bill.”

Biden was not an outlier with regard to Democratic Party support for these punitive measures. Nearly every one of these laws had overwhelming bipartisan support. The 1986 bill, for example, passed the House by 392-16 and the Senate by 97-2. …

In 1993, Biden boasted in a speech on the Senate floor, “Every major crime bill since 1976 that’s come out of this Congress, every minor crime bill, has had the name of the Democratic senator from the State of Delaware: Joe Biden.” In 1994, when President Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act into law on the White House lawn, Biden sat directly behind him, sharing the spotlight.

This period included Biden’s first run for the presidency, in 1987-88, which collapsed early after charges of plagiarism emerged based on his lifting whole passages of speeches by British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock for his own campaign.

After 1997, Biden’s focus shifted from throwing poor people into prison to bombing and otherwise annihilating people in countries targeted by US imperialism. He had long been a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, an even more influential position than Judiciary, and when the opportunity arose to become the panel’s ranking Democrat, with the retirement of Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, he took it.

In that capacity, Biden was one of the principal proponents of US intervention in the former Yugoslavia, a role he describes in his 2007 campaign autobiography as his proudest achievement in foreign policy. He advocated a direct US attack on Serbia during the 1999 Kosovo crisis, joining with a like-minded Republican senator to introduce the McCain-Biden Kosovo Resolution authorizing Clinton to use “all necessary force” against Serbia.

Biden was chairman of the committee from 2001 to 2003, and then from 2007 until his entry into the Obama administration. As committee chairman, he played a critical role in authorizing both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. The Senate panel approved an Authorization for Use of Military Force in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, which became the basis for the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and the entire subsequent “war on terror”. In 2002, the same body approved another Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Biden voted for both and helped shepherd them through Congress.

As a candidate for president in 2008, Biden was undone in large measure because of his pro-war record, as young people in particular flocked to the candidacy of Barack Obama, who postured as a longtime opponent of the Iraq War. While today Biden claims to have been opposed to the war, that is not what the record shows. In July 2003, well after the invasion and occupation of Iraq and President Bush’s declaration of “mission accomplished”, Biden gave a speech in which he declared he “would vote that way again” on the war resolution.

He bemoaned the Bush administration’s failure to sell the war effectively to the American people. In a speech to the Brookings Institution in June 2005, he declared, “I want to see the president of the United States succeed in Iraq… His success is America’s success, and his failure is America’s failure.”

Biden later became associated with proposals to break up Iraq into three separate states based on religion and ethnicity: a Kurdish north, a Shi’ite south and a Sunni center. Such an arrangement would have involved forced population transfers in the millions, an effort at “ethnic cleansing” dwarfing Yugoslavia and rivaling the 1947 partition of India.

One other aspect of Biden’s long and reactionary record has been raised in the 2020 campaign. He was one of the most fervent Democratic supporters of the reactionary 2005 legislation overhauling the consumer bankruptcy laws, making it much more difficult for working class and middle-class families to escape debt burdens exacerbated by the corrupt and misleading marketing tactics employed by companies like MBNA, the largest US issuer of credit cards. MBNA was then headquartered in Delaware and employed the senator’s son Hunter as an executive vice president. (MBNA has since been acquired by Bank of America).

One of Biden’s main rivals, Senator Elizabeth Warren, has repeatedly criticized him for this legislation, which she opposed at the time as an expert on federal bankruptcy law, arguing that it unduly favored credit card issuers and other creditors at the expense of borrowers.

It is a remarkable fact, given this right-wing record, that Biden has chosen to wrap himself in the mantle of the Obama administration … in order to draw attention away from his earlier career. …

This is not the place to review in detail the record of the Obama years, 2009-2017, for which Biden bears shared responsibility. There is no record of any opposition on his part to the bailout of Wall Street, the forced wage-cutting for autoworkers, the austerity policies pursued jointly with Republicans in Congress (with Biden as chief interlocutor), or the foreign policy of drone assassinations and militarism.

One incident is characteristic of Biden’s role as a representative of the Washington foreign policy consensus. During the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, he came out strongly in defense of the longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, declaring, “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interests in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel… I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

In the years since he left office, Biden has cashed in with some gusto, becoming a multi-millionaire in the process. After 36 years as one of the poorest members of the US Senate, Biden raked in more than $15 million in only two years, including six-figure speaking engagements a la Hillary Clinton, book-publishing fees, and six-figure gigs as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

He has the closest ties to big business and has raised far more money from financial interests than any other candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. At one fundraising soirée in Manhattan, he noted that since the 1980s the value of tax exemptions for the wealthy had increased from $800 billion under Republican Ronald Reagan to $1.6 trillion, effectively doubling.

“I could take about $400 [billion] away and it wouldn’t change your standard of living one tiny little bit—not even an iota,” he told donors. “I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who has made money,” he continued. “We can disagree in the margins, but the truth of the matter is it’s all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”

Biden was telling his wealthy backers that such a sacrifice would be politically useful. “When we have income inequality as large as we have in the United States today, it brews and ferments political discord and basic revolution,” he warned.

Later, at an appearance in Nevada, Biden scoffed at the prospect that younger voters were looking for “radical, revolutionary change.” He responded to that suggestion by declaring, “They’re looking for somebody who, in fact, can articulate what they believe and who is in the mainstream”, he said. “They’re not all—and this is not a hit on Bernie, my word—but this is not a generation of socialists.”

BIDEN BAILS ON SUPER PAC PLEDGE Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign said it would welcome help from a super PAC, a total reversal from Biden’s stance at the beginning of the campaign and a decision reflecting his diminished financial position in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. [HuffPost]

BIDEN FUMBLES DISASTROUSLY ON RACE Sen. Cory Booker went after Joe Biden in the debate for saying he would not immediately support legalizing marijuana. Biden began awkwardly touting the support he’s received from the Black community. “I have more people supporting me in the Black community ― who have vouched for me ― because they know me,” he said. [HuffPost]

BIDEN SNAPS AT VOTER: ‘YOU’RE A DAMN LIAR’ Joe Biden apparently lost his temper during an intense exchange with a voter in Iowa after the man accused the former vice president of being too old for the Oval Office and of “selling access” to the U.S. president during his time in the Obama administration. [HuffPost]

BIDEN STRUGGLES WITH YOUNG VOTERS Biden’s struggle with young voters could be a preview of a significant flaw in the general election, when Democrats will need liberal-leaning young voters to turn out in significant numbers. An Iowa State University poll found him earning the support of just 2% of caucus-goers younger than 34. [HuffPost]

Big Tobacco tries to corrupt MP


This September 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

We’re quitting smoking, so why is Big Tobacco booming?

Smoking rates are falling in the UK, US and much of Europe. Forty-five per cent of Brits smoked in the 1960s and 70s, compared with just 15% today. You would think this was bad news for cigarette profits, but tobacco companies are making more money than ever. They claim they no longer market traditional cigarettes, but behind-the scenes tactics suggest otherwise. Leah Green explains how the most successful business enterprise in history has weathered its fall from grace.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The British tobacco corporation Imperial Tobacco Benelux has approached GroenLinks party MP Paul Smeulders for a lobbying job. Smeulders denounces this effort to recruit staff extensively on Twitter. “I am not in favour of being asked for this as a sitting member of parliament”, he says.

Smeulders and his party are strongly opposed to the tobacco industry. GroenLinks has made recordings of the telephone conversation. …

In the various videos that GroenLinks shows, it is clear that the recruiter who works for the tobacco corporation suggests that especially a GroenLinks MP who is strongly opposed to smoking would be useful for the company.

In the Netherlands, lobby contacts between the tobacco industry and politics, such as ministries and MPs, are undesirable. …

The Netherlands also signed the World Health Organization (WHO) anti-smoking convention on January 6, 2014. In it, eg, countries agree to give as much openness as possible about the tobacco industry including lobbying, that is, influencing politics.

Baby oysters discovery in North Sea


This 22 September 2019 WWF video says about itself (translated from Dutch):

For the first time in the history of the oysters released in our North Sea, offspring has been found. Four “baby” oysters born in the North Sea were discovered earlier this month during a diving expedition by Stichting Duik de Noordzee Schoon. In addition to these offspring, the adult and “adolescent” specimens are also doing very well.

European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis) had being practically extinct for almost a century. This is an encouraging sign.

Kabul government army kills Afghan wedding guests


This 23 September 2019 video says about itself:

A number of civilians have been killed in an air raid and ground assault … by Afghan special forces in the southern Helmand province.

There were conflicting reports on the number of people killed and wounded in the operation on Sunday night in Musa Qala district …

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reports live from Kabul.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Dozens of people killed at wedding after Afghan army attack

In the Afghan province of Helmand, around forty guests at a wedding died in an attack by the Afghan army. At least thirteen wedding-goers were injured.

The guests were gathered in the bride’s house; the target of the attack was a house nearby. The Afghan authorities claim it was used by the Taliban to train suicide bombers.

According to Reuters news agency, a source in the US military reports that it was an operation against al-Qaeda.

So, contradicting the Kabul authorities’ ‘Taliban’ claim.

Birds of Costa Rica, video


This video says about itself:

Birds of Costa Rica. Total 129 species. Filmed during a 5-week trip in December 2018/January 2019.

Species shown: Turquoise-browed Motmot, Lesson’s Motmot, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Yellow-throated Toucan, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, Fiery-billed Aracari, Northern Emerald Toucanet, Montezuma Oropendola, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Resplendant Quetzal, Gartered Trogon, Collared Trogon, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black-throated Trogon, Orange-bellied Trogon, Summer Tanager, Speckled Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Crimson-collared Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Flame-coloured Tanager, Scarlet-rumped Tanager, Blue-grey Tanager, Palm Tanager, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, Common Chlorospingus, Green Honeycreeper, Bananaquit, Black-cowled Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Thick-billed Euphonia, Spot-crowned Euphonia, White-collared Manakin, Red-capped Manakin, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Grey-capped Flycatcher, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Tropical Pewee, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Lesser Violetear, Talamanca Hummingbird, White-throated Mountain-gem, Black-crested Coquette, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, White-necked Jacobin, Crowned Woodnymph, Green Hermit, Snowcap, Stripe-throated Hermit, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Spectacled Owl, Pacific Screech-Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, Barn Owl, Black-and-white Owl, Crested Owl, Scarlet Macaw, Crimson-fronted Parakeet, Brown-hooded Parrot, Red-lored Parrot, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Eastern Meadowlark, Great-tailed Grackle, Acorn Woodpecker, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Golden-naped Woodpecker, Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, House Wren, Rufous-naped Wren, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Black-striped Sparrow, Stripe-headed Sparrow, White-winged Dove, Pale-vented Pigeon, Grey-chested Dove, Inca Dove, Ruddy Ground-dove, Blue Ground-dove, Ruddy Quail-dove, Boat-billed Heron, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Snowy Egret, Green Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron, Roadside Hawk, Common Black Hawk, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Crested Caracara, Little Tinamou, Grey-headed Chachalaca, Crested Guan, Grey-necked Wood-rail, Purple Gallinule, Buff-throated Saltator, Greyish Saltator, Streaked Saltator, Tropical Mockingbird, Melodious Blackbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Squirrel Cuckoo, White-whiskered Puffbird, Lesser Nighthawk, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Black Phoebe, Torrent Tyrannulet, Yellow-thighed Finch, Collared Redstart, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Clay-colored Thrush, Wood Thrush , Variable Seedeater, Blue-and-white Swallow. Grey-breasted Martin, Spotted Sandpiper, Willet, Wilson’s Plover, Tennessee Warbler.

Trump-Saudi monarchy, dangerous military alliance


This 22 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

US troops in Saudi Arabia defend hegemony, not security

Pushback with Aaron Maté.

The Trump administration is sending US troops to Saudi Arabia as it continues to threaten Iran.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, says the US-Saudi relationship is “not based on strategic interest so much as it is based on money, money, and money — going into the coffers of some people in the national security elite, and into the coffers of some politicians who cling to their power.”