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Saudi war crimes against Yemeni civilians continue


This video says about itself:

Crimes of Saudi aggression against YemenDisplaced camp massacre in Hajjah

20 June 2015

About 45 civilians died, including women and children.

That was then. And now …

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Dozens of civilian deaths in new airstrike in Yemen

Today, 15:55

An air strike in Yemen has claimed the lives of at leat 36 civilians. The bombing by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia was officially against the Houthi rebels.

The bombs fell on a factory where drinking water is bottled in the Hajjah region. According to one of the residents severely mutilated bodies were removed from the burned ruins of the factory. …

War crimes

In recent months, thousands of civilians were killed in air strikes in Yemen. Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say that the coalition possibly commits war crimes.

Save Caribbean sharks


This 26 August 2015 video was recorded in the Oceanium, the big aquarium in Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands. It is about marking there the start of the three years long Save Our Sharks campaign, by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance.

This campaign aims to help sharks in the Caribbean to survive. There are about thirty shark species in the Caribbean.

This video is called Jonathan Bird examines one of the world’s most photographed–yet least studied–sharks, the Caribbean Reef shark.

Huge pro-peace demonstration in Japan


This video, recorded in Japan, says about itself:

Huge Protest in Tokyo Rails Against PM Abe’s Security Bills

30 August 2015

Members of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s (SEALDs) protest against the revision of the pacifist Article 9 [of the Japanese constitution] outside the Parliament building.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered near Japan’s parliament building on Sunday to oppose legislation allowing the military to fight overseas.

From Reuters news agency:

Sunday August 30, 2015 10:45am EDT

Huge protest in Tokyo rails against PM Abe’s security bills

TOKYO | By Kiyoshi Takenaka

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered near Japan’s parliament building on Sunday to oppose legislation allowing the military to fight overseas, the latest sign of public mistrust in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security policy.

In one of Japan’s biggest protests in years – organizers put the crowd at 120,000 – people of all ages braved occasional rain to join the rally, chanting and holding up placards with slogans such as “No War” and “Abe, quit”.

Demonstrators swarmed into the street before parliament’s main gate after the crowd size made it impossible for police, out in heavy numbers, to keep them to the sidewalks. A second nearby park area also filled with protesters.

The rally was one of more than 300 this weekend in Japan protesting Abe‘s move to loosen the post-war, pacifist constitution’s constraints on the military.

“Sitting in front of TV and just complaining wouldn’t do,” said Naoko Hiramatsu, a 44-year-old associate professor in French and one of the Tokyo protesters.

“If I don’t take action and try to put a stop on this, I will not be able to explain myself to my child in the future,” said Hiramatsu, holding a four-year-old son in her arms in the thick of the protest.

Abe in July pushed through parliament’s lower house a group of bills that let Japan’s armed forces defend an ally under attack, a drastic shift in Japan’s post-war security policy.

The bills are now before the upper chamber, which is also controlled by Abe’s ruling bloc and aims to pass the legislation before parliament’s session ends on Sept. 27.

Abe’s ratings have taken a hit from opposition to the security bills. Media surveys showing those who oppose his government outnumber backers, and more than half are against the security bills.

“We need to make the Abe government realize the public is having a sense of crisis and angry. Let’s work together to have the bills scrapped,” Katsuya Okada, head of Japan’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, told the Tokyo rally.

The demonstration was the biggest in Tokyo since the mass protests against nuclear power in the summer of 2012, after the March 2011 Fukushima atomic disaster.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Linda Sieg; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

Birds and whales seen during Svalbard expedition


This video is called Ortelius, polar bear, Svalbard June 2015.

This morning, Dutch Vroege Vogels radio broadcast an interview with participants in the big Dutch Svalbard expedition who had counted birds from the expedition ship Ortelius.

They did not only see birds, but also cetaceans; including fin whale, minke whale and white-beaked dolphin.

Among the bird species counted were Atlantic puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes, glaucous gulls, ivory gulls, little auks and Brünnich’s guillemots.

‘Pentagon helping ISIS against Kurds’


This video says about itself:

The Kurds Forging A New Nation In Syria

20 November 2014

Secret Revolution: Out of the chaos of Syria’s civil war, Kurdish leftists have forged a mini-state run on communal lines.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 30 August 2015

Turkey duped the US, and Isis reaps rewards

The real losers are the Kurds, the only force to have effectively resisted the jihadis in Syria

The disastrous miscalculation made by the United States in signing a military agreement with Turkey at the expense of the Kurds becomes daily more apparent. In return for the use of Incirlik Air Base just north of the Syrian border, the US betrayed the Syrian Kurds who have so far been its most effective ally against Islamic State (Isis, also known as Daesh). In return for this deal signed on 22 July, the US got greater military cooperation from Turkey, but it swiftly emerged that Ankara’s real target was the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Action against Isis was almost an afterthought, and it was hit by only three Turkish airstrikes, compared to 300 against the bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

President Barack Obama has assembled a grand coalition of 60 states, supposedly committed to combating Isis, but the only forces on the ground to win successive victories against the jihadis over the past year are the ruling Syrian-Kurdish Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG). Supported by US air power, the YPG heroically defeated the Isis attempt to capture the border city of Kobani during a four-and-a-half month siege that ended in January, and seized the Isis crossing point into Turkey at Tal Abyad in June.

The advance of the Syrian Kurds, who now hold half of the 550-mile Syrian-Kurdish border, was the main external reason why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered the US closer cooperation, including the use of Incirlik, which had previously been denied. The domestic impulse for an offensive by the Turkish state against the Kurds also took place in June when the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) won 13 per cent of the vote in the Turkish general election, denying Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) a majority for the first time since 2002. By strongly playing the Turkish nationalist and anti-Kurdish card, Mr Erdogan hopes to win back that majority in a second election on 1 November.

There are signs of a growing understanding in Washington that the US was duped by the Turks, or at best its negotiators deceived themselves when they agreed their bargain with Ankara. Senior US military officers are anonymously protesting in the US media they did not know that Turkey was pretending to be going after Isis when in practice it was planning an offensive against its 18 million-strong Kurdish minority.

Further evidence of misgivings in Washington came last week with an article in The New York Times entitled “America’s Dangerous Bargain with Turkey” by Eric S Edelman, former US ambassador to Turkey and under-secretary for defence policy, who is normally regarded as a neo-con of good standing. He accuses Mr Erdogan of unleashing “a new wave of repression aimed at Kurds in Turkey, which risks plunging the country into civil war” and he goes on to suggest that this might help the AKP win back its majority, but will certainly undermine the fight against Isis. He says: “By disrupting logistics and communications between the PKK in Iraq and the PYD in Syria, Turkey is weakening the most effective ground force fighting the Islamic State in Syria: the Kurds.”

In fact, there is growing evidence that the Turkish government has gone even further than that in weakening US allies opposing Isis in Syria, Arab as well as Kurd. For several years the US has been trying to build up a moderate force of Syrian rebels who are able to fight both Isis and the Syrian government in Damascus. The CIA-run initiative has not been going well because the Syrian military opposition these days is almost entirely dominated by Isis, which holds half Syria, the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and the equally sectarian Sunni Ahrar al-Sham.

Read more: Modern-day Monuments Men take on Isis
Site fighting Isis run by British ex-jihadi too scared to go public
Isis militants routed from village in Northern Iraq

But in July, the US plan to create such a moderate force was humiliatingly knocked on the head when Jabhat al-Nusra attacked and kidnapped many of this US-trained force as they entered Syria from Turkey. It now seems certain that Nusra had been tipped off by Turkish intelligence about the movements of the US-backed unit known as “Division 30”. Turkey apparently did this because it does not want the US to have its own surrogate in Syria. According to an investigation by Mitchell Prothero of the McClatchy news organisation, citing many Syrian sources in Turkey, the Turkish motive was to destroy the US-run movement, which was intended to number 15,000 fighters targeting Isis. Its disintegration would leave the US with no alternative but to train Turkish-sponsored rebel groups whose primary aim is to topple Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The article quotes a Syrian rebel commander in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa, 30 miles north of the Syrian border, as saying that the Turks “don’t want anything bad to happen to their allies – Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham – along the border, and they know that both the Americans and the Syrian people will eventually recognise that there’s no difference between groups such as Nusra, Ahrar and Daesh.”

How does Isis itself assess the new US-Turkish accord? Its fighters may find it more difficult to cross the Syrian-Turkish border, though even this is uncertain. But it will be relieved that its most effective enemy in Syria, the PYD, will in future be restrained by Turkish pressure. Its PKK parent organisation is coming under sustained attack from Turkish forces in south-east Turkey and in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq.

The destruction of one of the most famous temples at Palmyra by Isis last week, and the decapitation of the site’s most famous archaeologist a few days earlier, are a show of strength and acts of defiance very much in the tradition of the Islamic State. The aim is to dominate the news agenda, which can easily be done by some spectacular atrocity, and thereby say, in effect, “you may hate what you are seeing, but there is nothing you can do to stop it”.

And this is demonstrably the case not just in Syria but in Iraq. Isis captured Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in Iraq on 17 May and Palmyra five days later on 22 May. In neither case has there been an effective counter-attack. Isis is still winning victories where it counts, and faces no real threat to its existence.

The US campaign against Isis is failing and the US-Turkish deal will not reverse that failure and may make it more complete. Why did US negotiators allow themselves to be deceived, if that is what happened. No doubt the US air force was over-eager for the use of Incirlik so it would not have to fly its planes from Jordan, Bahrain or carriers in the Gulf.

But there is a deeper reason for America’s inability to confront Isis successfully. Ever since 9/11, the US has wanted to combat al-Qaeda-type movements, but without disturbing its close relations with Sunni states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Gulf monarchies. But it is these same allies that have fostered, tolerated or failed to act against the al-Qaeda clones, which explains their continuing success.

Kingfisher and brimstone butterfly


Brimstone butterfly, 29 August 2015

This photo shows a male brimstone butterfly in the gardens of Sperwershof in ‘s Graveland in the Netherlands. We went there on 29 August 2015.

Before we arrived there, a group of white wagtails on a meadow. And grey lag geese.

A bit further, a kingfisher fishing in a ditch.

A dragonfly sitting on a pole: a male vagrant darter, aka moustached darter?

Brimstone butterfly, on 29 August 2015

As I said, at the Sperwershof a brimstone butterfly.

This is a brimstone butterfly video.

As we go back, nuthatch sound.

Along the bicycle track, big parasol mushrooms grow.

Big anti-nazi march in Germany


A demonstrator in Dresden, Germany holds a sign that reads ‘refugees welcome’ on Saturday. Photograph: Oliver Killig/dpa/Corbis

From AFP news agency:

German pro-immigrant protest welcomes asylum seekers to Dresden

Anti-Nazi Alliance organisers estimate 5,000 people took part in march through Pegida stronghold in response to rightwing protests against migrants

Sunday 30 August 2015 01.05 BST

Thousands of people took to the streets of the German city of Dresden on Saturday to send a message of welcome to refugees after a string of violent anti-migrant protests in the region.

Led by protesters holding a huge banner that read “Prevent the pogroms of tomorrow today”, the crowds marched peacefully through the eastern city under the watch of police in riot gear.

“Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” they chanted.

Police said 1,000 people took part in the protest, which was called by the Anti-Nazi Alliance, while organisers put the numbers at 5,000.

Dresden is the stronghold of the anti-Islam Pegida movement, whose demonstrations drew up to 25,000 people at the start of the year.

The eastern state of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital, has suffered a series of ugly anti-migrant protests, with the government saying on Friday it was sending police reinforcements to the state.

“We’re here because what is happening in Germany, particularly in Saxony, is unbearable,” said Eva Mendl, a teacher who was among the demonstrators.

“Hating refugees, who live here because they can no longer live at home, because they have been through a war … that shouldn’t happen in a rich country,” she added.

Afterwards, several hundred participants in the rally gathered in the nearby town of Heidenau, which has been the theatre of protests over the opening of a new refugee centre.

Local authorities had initially banned all outdoor public gatherings in the town of 16,000 this weekend, fearing a repeat of last weekend’s clashes between police and far-right protesters in which several dozen people were injured.

But the federal constitutional court on Saturday struck down the ban, paving the way for the pro-refugee rally, which passed off peacefully, with refugees and their supporters dancing together in the street.

Germany is struggling to absorb a vast wave of asylum seekers that is expected to reach a record 800,000 this year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was booed by far-right activists during a visit to Heidenau’s new refugee centre this week, with about 200 people shouting “traitor, traitor” at her.