More about this is here.
This video says about itself:
One woman’s strength is helping refugees in Macedonia
“I’m doing this because I have never seen so many people on the street. No one is helping them.”
The smiling face that greets refugees when they get to the Greece-Macedonia border is that of Gabriela Andreevska. She welcomes them, feeds them, and sends them on their way to the EU feeling like human beings.
Filmed by Matthew Cassel.
By Verena Nees in Germany:
Pro-refugee organisation comes under political attack in Germany
6 February 2016
The Berlin-based refugee support organisation Moabit Hilft (Moabit Helps) has recently come under strong media criticism. In the course of the past 10 days the organisation has received threats of murder in hate mail and by telephone.
An online group calling itself “Moabit Lies” has become active,” backed by the well-known Berlin neo-Nazi Gregor Stein. It has accused Moabit Helps of dishonestly using donations. On Monday, the door of its office on the grounds of the Berlin state office for health and social care (Lageso) was kicked down. The media has also joined in the attacks on Moabit Helps.
The immediate pretext was an incident last week. A volunteer assisting refugees who was part of the circle around Moabit Helps claimed on Facebook that he had assisted a young Syrian who had been forced to wait in line at Lageso for days. The volunteer alleged the Syrian had caught a high fever and frostbite, and died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
But later that day, the author of the message, Dirk V., admitted to police he had made the story up. Diana Henniges, a Moabit Helps spokeswoman, said they had made a mistake in not reviewing the Facebook message more closely. However, “every volunteer, every politician and every press representative” had been able to imagine the death of a refugee. “This is the real tragedy”, she said. “It could have been possible.”
Dirk V. stated he had been pushed to the breaking point by the back-breaking work of providing assistance and wanted to use the story to “shake things up and change something.” In fact, Dirk V. had just been released from a long stay in hospital due to burnout, according to Reyna B., another volunteer who chatted with him during the night.
Reyna B. also did not initially doubt the veracity of the report of a fatality.
“For six months, we residents have watched what has happened”, she wrote in shock after Dirk’s final message. “For six months we have assisted, rushed around cared, fed, provided, healed … and we have repeatedly said, there will be deaths if this continues. And it is downplayed, sugar coated and dismissed. It is being presented as if this is normal, just a minor administrative crisis … ”
She referred to miscarriages, the case of the young refugee boy who was kidnapped in the chaos at Lageso last summer and murdered, several resuscitations on the Lageso grounds following heart attacks, diabetes shocks, all-night ambulance deployments to assist collapsed individuals, and the hunger endured by refugees when Lageso refused to pay out pocket money. She wrote, “Last Friday, I cried on the way home for the first time. Until then, the hope that this city, this country, would hear the humanitarian call had not been broken.”
Politicians and the media have used the incident to launch a cynical propaganda campaign against Moabit Helps. It is aimed not only at intimidating this organisation, but all volunteers assisting refugees. It also opens the door for right-wing hate mail, as Henniges told the WSWS. “Cologne was the starting gun. But the report of a dead refugee has released the genie from the bottle.”
Media representatives, who went to Lageso in the morning after the report with large camera teams to sensationalise the death of a refugee, are now targeting Moabit Helps. They are accusing an organisation of volunteers, most of whom work for free and without whose efforts the provision of care to refugees would have long since collapsed, of being “unprofessional”, “haughty” and “starry-eyed.”
A report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from January 29 was especially repugnant. Under the headline “The haughtiness of the helpers”, it stated, “Many still feel the exhilaration of the summer days, when anyone who brought a case of mineral water to the Lageso felt they were better than the Berlin administration, leading to haughtiness. Several helpers have been cultivating an exaggerated image of themselves ever since, which they would never concede to a professional politician.”
The FAZ based itself on the statement of a Berlin Green Party politician, Bettina Jarasch, who described the work of the volunteers as basically “self-fulfillment”.
In a piece headlined “How to make propaganda with a lie”, N-TV wrote that the problem was not the author of the false report, but rather “an association like ‘Moabit Helps’, which did not even check the story before using it as a pretext to score points.”
The Berlin Senate exploited the incident for its own ends. On the following day, it quickly signed off on a plan to create a refugee ghetto on the grounds of the former Tempelhof airport.
Interior Senator Frank Henkl (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) called for legal consequences for Dirk V., fully aware that simply posting a false message online is not a criminal offence. He threatened the spokespeople at Moabit Helps, stating, “Whoever triggers and spreads such rumours without checking them is deliberately trying to poison the atmosphere in our city.”
Responding to the call for “professionalisation”, Diana Henniges said, “Only because we neglected a trifle and did not check the message? We were forced out of bed in the early hours of the morning and press representatives demanded statements by telephone. Where were these parties and media representatives six months ago, when the people at Lageso were starving, having to stand in line day and night and sleep on the ground? Nobody was talking about professionalism then. Without us, without the many people who assisted without pay in their free time, we would have a worse situation today, the probability of deaths would be much higher.”
Moabit Helps was formed by residents in the longstanding Berlin working class district of Moabit at the beginning of the refugee crisis and became a role model for many other volunteer initiatives across the city. It plays a leading part in the strong solidarity towards refugees in the Berlin population, which has not diminished in the wake of the New Year’s Eve events in Cologne. They have repeatedly criticised the terrible conditions at Lageso and in the mass accommodation centres, and organised protests against them. Based on their information, 40 lawyers filed charges against those responsible in the Senate for violations of law at Lageso.
The Berlin Senate had recently come under criticism from the establishment. The pictures of people lined up at Lageso and overcrowded accommodation centres are inopportune for the capital city. If the report of the fatality of the Syrian refugee had been true, some journalists speculate, the Senate and Social Affairs Senator Mario Czaja could well have been brought down.
It is no wonder that Moabit Helps has long been a thorn in the side of the city’s political elite. For workers and young people in the city and beyond, the attack on the organisation is a warning sign. The stepped-up attacks on refugees are increasingly also directed against the general population that has spontaneously come to the aid of refugees and who, like them, oppose war and poverty.
Thousands of people attended demonstrations across Australia on Thursday, opposing Wednesday’s High Court ruling sanctioning the bipartisan government-Labor Party regime of indefinitely detaining refugees in virtual concentration camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island: here.
Jean Claessens, the maker of this video, writes about it:
In Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) I had the chance to observe the pollination of the orchid Spiranthes spiralis by a small solitary bee, Halictus simplex. This bee has an ingenious, articulated tongue that enables this small bee to reach the nectar hidden in the flower of Spiranthes spiralis.
By Bill Van Auken in the USA:
Threat of wider war looms as Saudi monarchy proposes Syria intervention
6 February 2016
The Saudi Arabian monarchy Thursday declared that it is prepared to send ground troops into Syria under the pretext of prosecuting the US-declared war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The proposal from Riyadh follows the breakdown of Geneva III, the UN-mediated peace talks between the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and a Saudi-sponsored “rebel” negotiating committee consisting of Islamist militia leaders and exile politicians aligned with Western intelligence agencies.
The talks were suspended Wednesday after the opposition refused to negotiate under conditions in which Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, have registered major gains on the battlefield, threatening to reverse the territorial gains won by the Western-backed militias in recent years.
Syrian government forces, supported by pro-government militias, including elements of the Lebanese Hezbollah, have succeeded in breaking a siege of two predominantly Shia villages, Nubl and Zahra, which for nearly four years had held out against the threat of a sectarian massacre at the hands of Al Qaeda-linked forces backed by Washington and its regional allies.
The advance has succeeded in reversing the tide of battle around Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, breaking the siege of the government-held western part of the city at the hands of the opposition, while imposing a siege on the eastern part, which has been under its control. The victories in the northern countryside have effectively cut off the supply line that has brought arms and ammunition to the Western-backed militias from Turkey.
Syrian government forces have also registered significant advances in Latakia Province in the northwest as well as in Daraa in the south.
These developments have led to calls by Washington and its allies for an immediate halt to the Russian bombing campaign initiated at the end of last September, which US and allied officials have blamed for the breakdown of the talks in Geneva.
“We have seen that the intense Russian air strikes mainly targeting opposition groups in Syria are undermining the efforts to find a political solution to the conflict,” Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the US-led NATO military alliance said Friday. Like his counterparts in Washington, Stoltenberg fails to name the “opposition groups” about which he is concerned, because the leading one is the Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.
The fear of the “rebels” and their Western patrons is that the Russian-backed advances of Syrian government forces will make it impossible to achieve by means of negotiations what they are unable to procure on the battlefield: the toppling of Assad and the imposition of a more pliant US puppet regime.
The stepped-up military operations in and around Aleppo have sent a stream of refugees heading toward the Turkish border, less than 40 miles to the north. The Turkish government, however, has closed the border crossings. At the Oncupinar border crossing near the Turkish city of Kilis, one Syrian woman was reportedly shot and killed by Turkish security forces.
Ankara’s evident aim is to create a humanitarian crisis on the border, providing a pretext for military intervention.
Moscow has charged that Turkey is engaged in active preparations for an invasion of Syria. “We have serious grounds to suspect Turkey is in intensive preparations for an armed invasion of the territory of a sovereign state—the Syrian Arab Republic,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement, Thursday.
The defense ministry reported that Turkey had denied permission for a Russian reconnaissance plane to fly over the Turkish-Syrian border, but that it had already detected “more and more signs of covert preparations by the Turkish armed forces for active action on Syrian territory.” These included the deployment of troops and military equipment and the paving of parking lots on both sides of the border for heavy trucks and equipment.
The Saudi offer to send ground troops into Syria has undoubtedly been made in conjunction with the Turkish buildup. The Saudi monarchy and Turkey’s government recently set up a military coordination body.
“The kingdom is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition [against ISIS] may agree to carry out in Syria,” Saudi military spokesman brigadier general Ahmed al-Asiri said on Thursday, touting the Saudi army’s “experience in Yemen,” which has consisted largely of the slaughter of Yemeni civilians in airstrikes.
The inseparable connection between military aggression abroad and police state repression at home found expression in Turkey Friday with the presentation of a criminal indictment against two journalists, Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, on charges of “espionage,” “attempting to topple the government” and support for terrorism. The two are being prosecuted for the publication by their newspaper, Cumhuriyet, of an article exposing the use of trucks of the National Intelligence Agency to ship arms across the border to ISIS. Turkish police officers who intercepted some of the trucks have been similarly charged. The defendants could face life sentences.
“That kind of news is very welcome,” US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in response to the Saudi offer, adding that he intended to discuss it with his Saudi counterpart in Brussels next week.
An intervention by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, two of the principal patrons of the Islamist militias in Syria, would signal a major escalation of the crisis and a desperate bid by US imperialism itself to salvage the nearly five-year-old war for regime change in Syria.
It would dramatically increase the dangers of the Syrian conflict spiraling out of control into a full-scale regional war, pitting Saudi Arabia and Turkey against Iran. Any such intervention would be carried out in collaboration with Washington, which is Turkey’s NATO ally, posing the threat of a direct confrontation between the US and Russia, the world’s two major nuclear powers.
From daily News Line in Britain:
Saturday, 6 February 2016
Junior doctors march today
TODAY thousands of junior doctors, health workers, student nurses, march through central London demanding ‘Victory to the junior doctors!’
At 8am next Wednesday morning (February 10) the junior doctors launch a 24-hour strike. They will be joined on their picket lines by masses of supporters.
‘All the unions should take action – it’s everybody’s NHS. The more support we get, the better,’ Hammersmith Hospital junior doctor James Glanville told News Line yesterday. Dr Glanville continued: ‘The key issue for all the professions and specialities is that we stand together in a united front. Junior doctors are out on strike this Wednesday.
‘We have been reassured by the overwhelming public support. People have understood the strike is in support of patient safety. We have to emphasise we are fighting for the survival of the NHS and the future of junior doctors.
‘(NHS Health Executive) Sir David Dalton’s letter to junior doctors is just more spin and skirts around the issues, mainly with the safeguard for working hours. It still doesn’t acknowledge the fact that Saturday is not a normal working day.
‘The attack on us is the beginning of the end. The government has already begun to attack nurses with its planned removal of bursaries for student nurses. So the nursing unions should prepare to take action as well.’
‘We need a national show of support from everyone that values the NHS,’ Dr Shiv Vohra from Kingston Hospital told News Line. He said: ‘I feel very passionate about keeping the NHS in public hands. The way this government is going about trying to privatise the NHS is an absolute travesty.
‘There are several reasons we are concerned about the proposed new junior doctors’ contract. First is the way the government is trying to impose it and they are trying to remove safeguards on the working hours, which poses a threat to patient safety.
‘No patient wants to be treated by overworked, tired doctors looking after them. Secondly, it’s about treating doctors unfairly. Saturday isn’t classified as unsocial hours the way it is for other workers. So why should junior doctors be subject to unfair working conditions?
‘The frustration shared by junior doctors is all to do with patient safety and a safe and fair contract. At no point have we ever asked for an increase in our pay. I’m very touched by the support that other unions have shown, including the FBU firefighters’ union’s open letter.
‘My personal opinion is this is a matter of national concern for each and every member of this country. So given the threat the NHS is facing from the government, we need a national show of support from everyone that values the NHS.’
Junior doctor Joban Sehmi from Hammersmith Hospital told News Line: ‘People realise that we are not fighting for a pay rise but against an attempt to take away the safeguards which are there to prevent doctors being made to work unsafe long hours.
‘The NHS is under threat in this struggle and everybody who uses the NHS must support us. My view is that junior doctors are the first target and after us Health Secretary Hunt is planning to attack the contracts of consultants, GPs and nurses.
‘The attack on student nurses’ bursaries is a terrible message to young people. Rather than encouraging them to enter nursing as a career it’s utterly demotivating. It’s truly appalling. I will be on the picket line at Hammersmith Hospital on Wednesday – we must win for the sake of the whole NHS.’
This video, from Kruger National Park in South Africa, says about itself:
1 February 2016
This video is dedicated to Roger Gower, a man who was killed this week, while protecting our precious wildlife. With all the horrible poaching of rhinos that is currently happening, we thought we would cheer everyone up with a video that will make you feel overloaded with cuteness.
Video by: Simone