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Blogging on animals, peace and war, science, social justice, women's issues, arts, and much more

American robin builds her nest, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

A female American Robin reinforces her nest with mud

27 January 2016

A female American Robin reinforces her nest with mud. Females build the nest from the inside out, pressing dead grass and twigs into a cup shape using the wrist of one wing. Other materials include paper, feathers, rootlets, or moss in addition to grass and twigs. Once the cup is formed, she reinforces the nest using soft mud gathered from worm castings to make a heavy, sturdy nest. She then lines the nest with fine dry grass. The finished nest is 6-8 inches across and 3-6 inches high.

Female cerulean warbler video


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 January 2016

A female Cerulean Warbler foraging in a New Jersey treetop. These birds live in deciduous forests and nest and forage higher in the canopy than most other warblers.

Video recorded by Benjamin Clock/Macaulay Library.

War propaganda in German media


This video from Germany says about itself:

13 January 2015

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany is running in student elections taking place at the end of January.

One hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War, and seventy-five years after the outbreak of World War II, the German elites are once again preparing for war.

By seeking to downplay and relativize the crimes of the past, professors at Humboldt University are playing a central role in the campaign to revive German militarism.

This video explains how the IYSSE is fighting to turn the student election into a campaign against war and in defense of historical truth.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

Editor of Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper demands rearmament and war

6 February 2016

For Josef Joffe, the editor of the weekly liberal magazine Die Zeit, the multi-billion-euro rearmament plans of the German government do not go far enough. In his weekly column “zeitgeist,” Joffe complains, on behalf of a substantial lobby of war-mongering scribblers in the editorial offices of the bourgeois press, that the rearmament of the German army is not taking place more quickly.

Under the headline “Warriors in the Lists,” Joffe writes with barely concealed cynicism, “The stepchild of the nation is now to be jazzed up again, but only from featherweight to lightweight.” The “shopping list” of the defence minister is “cryptic,” a “work of art for vagueness,” and is composed of “elastic numbers right and left.”

The additional €130 billion in spending planned by the German government over the next 15 years provokes merely a tired yawn from Joffe. …

Joffe is disturbed most of all by the mass opposition to rearmament and war. Germany is a nation “where pacifism, in common parlance: ‘without me’ is the core belief.” Then he let rip, “Six out of ten Germans reject more foreign interventions. Air attacks on IS are supported by just a third, ground deployments by only one fifth. The (almost without risk) reconnaissance missions and refuelling of others are ok.”

He goes on, “What is the use of the best-equipped army, which cannot be achieved by an extra €5 billion per year, if the people in the democratic state, flanked by the commentariat, do not want to deploy it?”

Joffe urges the German government to impose the war drive on the population as quickly as possible. “The government does not have the 15 years in the defence minister’s timetable to conduct the bone-crunching task of convincing,” he stated, and added threateningly, “The peaceful years (approximately 1990 to 2010) are over, the threat is growing far more rapidly than the arms budget. […] if the people’s minds cannot be changed, the finest arsenal will be worth nothing.”

Joffe comes from a Jewish background and he is no supporter of the Nazi dictatorship. But comments like his recall the crazed militarism of the German ruling elite during the Third Reich. In his first statements as German Chancellor, Hitler called for the German people to be “made fighting ready again.” In 1933, Hitler set up a “Reich defence committee,” whose task it was to “bring the mobilisation of the people and state into line with the mobilisation of the army.”

Joffe’s commentary must be taken seriously by working people and youth and understood as a warning. With his numerous connections to the highest levels of politics and his membership in Transatlantic think tanks, he speaks on behalf of a ruling class, which, despite horrific crimes in two world wars, has once again lost its senses and is preparing to defend the interests of German imperialism and the capitalist elite by all means necessary.

Water pipit in Dutch national park, video


This video shows a water pipit in Biesbosch national park in the Netherlands, on 30 January 2016.

More about this is here.

German pro-refugee activists attacked


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.

Bee pollinates orchid, video


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.