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Birds of Blauwe Kamer nature reserve


This 2010 video is about the Blauwe Kamer nature reserve in the Netherlands.

Today, the conservation organisation Utrechts Landschap reports on birds in that reserve in 2017.

That year, 71 bird species nested there. Spoonbill nests rose from 37 in 2016 to 42. Nesting grey herons and great cormorants decreased a bit. Other species: water rail, kingfisher, bluethroat, nightingale, and marsh warbler.

As more and more plants grow in the reserve, waders decreased. Birds which like bushes, like whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, willow warbler and blackcap, increased.

Sometimes, one can also see non-nesting birds in the Blauwe Kamer, like osprey, sea eagle, great egret, glossy ibis and whiskered tern.

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Costa Rican sea turtles studied with drones


This video says about itself:

25 April 2017

While conducting a drone survey in front of Playa Cabuyal on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, we encountered a male East Pacific green turtle. Surprisingly, we were also able to identify that this was a male turtle as made evident by the size of its tail.

From Duke University in the USA:

Drones confirm importance of Costa Rican waters for sea turtles

Study is first to use drones to count sea turtles in waters near nesting habitat

January 16, 2018

Summary: A new drone-enabled population survey — the first ever on sea turtles — shows that larger-than-anticipated numbers of turtles aggregate in waters off Costa Rica’s Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Scientists estimate turtle densities may reach up to 2,086 animals per square kilometer. The study underscores the importance of the Ostional habitat; it also confirms that drones are a reliable tool for surveying sea turtle abundance.

Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs during mass-nesting events at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, making it one of the most important nesting beaches in the world.

Now aerial drones are giving scientists deeper insights into just how important the beach and its nearshore waters are.

Using a fixed-wing drone to conduct aerial surveys of olive ridley sea turtles in waters off Ostional during four days in August 2015, scientists from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) estimate turtle densities there may reach as high as 2,086 animals per square kilometer during peak nesting season.

“These are extraordinary numbers, much higher than any of us anticipated,” said Seth Sykora-Bodie, a PhD student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who co-led the study with Vanessa Bézy, a PhD candidate at UNC-CH.

“Our findings confirm drones can be used as a powerful tool to study sea turtle abundance at sea, and reveal incredible densities of turtles in Ostional’s nearshore habitat,” said Bézy. “The development of this methodology provides vital new insights for future conservation and research.”

Equipping the drone with a high-resolution digital camera with near-infrared vision and flying it just 90 meters above the ocean expanded the field of view and significantly increased image clarity, allowing the researchers to detect many turtles swimming just below the water’s surface. Observers relying only on visual sightings made from boats could easily miss these submerged animals because of their angle of view and the clarity of the water, Sykora-Bodie said.

The researchers published their peer-reviewed paper Dec. 18 in Scientific Reports. It is the first study to use unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, to estimate the abundance of sea turtle populations.

Traditionally, scientists have collected this type of abundance data using mark-and-recapture studies, in-water surveys, and censuses of turtles observed on nesting beaches. These methods can be costly and time-consuming, incur potential risks to both the observers and the animals, and increase the likelihood that turtles may be missed or double-counted.

The new pilot study shows that using camera-equipped drones provides a safe, cost-effective and scientifically robust alternative.

“Because of the clarity of the images we can collect, and the greater flexibility we have in where, when and how we collect them, this approach provides us with better data for understanding population status and trends, which can then be used to inform management decisions and develop conservation measures tailored to individual populations, locations and time frames”, Sykora-Bodie said.

Olive ridleys are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. One of the chief threats they face is being accidentally caught and killed by hooks and other fishing gear used by longline and trawl fisheries.

To conduct the newly published study, researchers from Duke’s Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Labflew an eBee senseFly fixed-wing drone equipped with a near-infrared camera over a three-kilometer stretch of nearshore water twice daily — morning and evening — on four consecutive days during a mass-nesting event, or arribada, in August 2015. By analyzing the captured images, they identified 684 confirmed turtle sightings and 409 probable sightings.

Using methods that scientists regularly employ for estimating the population abundance of marine species based on surface sightings in traditional surveys, Sykora-Bodie and his colleagues then calculated a low-end daily estimate of up to 1,299 turtles per square kilometer in the surveyed area, and a high-end estimate of up to 2,086 turtles. Long-term surveys, coupled with further research on olive ridleys’ dive profile — how deep they dive, and how long they remain under water — will be needed to refine these estimates.

Steven Spielberg’s new film The Post


This video from the USA says about itself:

15 December 2017

On Thursday December 14, The Washington Post hosted a discussion with director Steven Spielberg and cast members of the movie, “The Post”, a drama about the newspaper’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in June 1971. The Washington Post’s chief film critic, Ann Hornaday, was joined on stage by Spielberg and actors Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk and Bradley Whitford to talk about the movie.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Steven Spielberg’s The Post: To reveal government secrets and lies or not?

17 January 2018

Directed by Steven Spielberg; screenplay by Liz Hannah and John Singer

Steven Spielberg’s new film The Post recounts the internal struggle at the Washington Post over whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers in June 1971.

The 7,000-page, 47-volume document was a Department of Defense history of American imperialist involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1966. It revealed that successive administrations, Democratic and Republican, had systematically lied for decades, with devastating consequences, including the death of millions of Vietnamese and tens of thousands of Americans.

At the center of The Post are a series of disputes that took place over the advisability of making public the explosive government secrets, including between Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and her financial and legal consultants, and between Graham, on the one hand, and managing editor Ben Bradlee and his reporting staff, on the other. In addition, Graham and Bradlee each undergoes an internal conflict during the crisis.

Spielberg’s film conscientiously and intelligently represents these events and brings out a number of critical questions, including freedom of the press, the right of the population to know what the authorities are up to, and the dangers of presidential dictatorship.

The Post begins in 1966 with a semi-prologue. Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), a military analyst, is on a fact-finding mission in Vietnam for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). Concurring in private with Ellsberg that the war is going terribly, McNamara sings a different, optimistic tune in front of the American media.

Ellsberg has served as a Marine, spent two years working in Vietnam with the State Department, and has been involved in the writing of a document, commissioned by McNamara in 1967, blandly entitled “History of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-66”, which eventually gains notoriety as the “Pentagon Papers.”

In 1969, increasingly disillusioned by the war and disgusted at government falsehoods, Ellsberg and his colleague Anthony Russo (Sonny Valicenti), both employed at RAND Corporation, begin clandestinely photocopying all 7,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers.

On June 13, 1971, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) are caught off guard when the New York Times starts publishing portions of the top-secret document, which Ellsberg had leaked to Times reporter Neil Sheehan (Justin Swain). Bradlee is frustrated by Sheehan’s blockbuster scoop.

On June 15, Attorney General John Mitchell tells the Times they are violating the Espionage Act, and the Nixon administration gets a court order to stop the Times from continuing to publish the papers. “If the Times shuts down,” Bradley says, “we’re in business.”

“Anyone else tired of reading the news instead of reporting it?” he asks angrily and rhetorically, charging national editor Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) with tracking down the source of the leak. When Bagdikian figures out it is Ellsberg, a former colleague at RAND, he goes to Boston, meets the anxious whistleblower, and returns to Washington with a trove of 4,400 photocopied pages.

The Post now possesses the material. The debate over whether or not to publish it pits Bradlee against the paper’s legal team, bankers and potential investors. Graham and her business advisors are in the midst of launching the newspaper’s first public stock offering worth millions of dollars. Criminal charges could destroy the paper and potentially land Graham and Bradlee in prison.

Bradlee argues: “The only way to assert the right to publish is to publish.” Furthermore, he argues: “We have to be the check on their power. If we don’t hold them accountable, who will?” As the debate rages between the editorial and legal departments, additional pressure is brought to bear on Graham by her friend Robert McNamara. In a private conversation, however, she reminds him that her son fought in Vietnam and that she has an obligation to expose the heinous character of the war and government lies, including his own. In reply, McNamara vehemently warns her: “Nixon hates you, and if there’s a way to destroy your paper, he’ll find it.”

The first Washington Post article making use of the Pentagon Papers appears on June 18, despite threats from the Justice Department, which insists (via a phone call from then assistant attorney general and future chief justice of the US Supreme Court, William Rehnquist!) that the paper has—like the Times—violated the Espionage Act.

On June 26, 1971, the Supreme Court hears the Post and Times cases together, and on June 30, issues a 6-3 decision, supporting the papers’ right to publish. The Post ends with the onset of the Watergate scandal in 1972, whose working out would bring about the resignation of Richard Nixon in disgrace two years later.

Spielberg’s movie honestly and entertainingly sets out to depict the details and personalities of a major moment in American history. Its strongest element is a genuine democratic sensibility. Perhaps the most oft-repeated line in the film is “They lied”, referring to the various administrations. Graham and Bradlee are truly perturbed by the actions of particularly the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Each has been personally close to officials in both.

Furthermore, The Post demonstrates that the interests of the population stand in opposition to those of the authorities. It argues for the press to be independent of and skeptical toward government pronouncements. It that sense, it is a rebuke and condemnation of today’s mainstream media, which has become little more than a propaganda arm of the White House, CIA and Pentagon.

The Post is Spielberg’s filmmaking at his most effective: coherent, well-told, engaging. The entire cast performs with a degree of urgency and commitment. Special mention must go to Hanks, Odenkirk and Greenwood. The filmmakers successfully integrate snippets from Nixon’s infamous, mafia-like audio tapes over the image of a shadowy figure in a White House window. Moreover, the movie’s rhythm and intensity provide a sense of the real rhythm and intensity of the earth-shaking events in 1971.

Support for this effort comes from the score by John Williams, and the script by co-writer Josh Singer who also co-wrote the screenplay for Spotlight, a 2015 exposé of the Catholic Church. Singer presumably has a hand here in doing what he did for that film, creating an unglamorous, “secondary” character who seems entirely devoted to uncovering the truth: in Spotlight, the indefatigable lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), and here, Odenkirk’s Bagdikian.

Above all, The Post directs the attention of contemporary audiences to a momentous episode. The movie’s production notes point out that the Pentagon Papers “would set off shattering shockwaves that continue to this day. The document…uncovered a dark truth: that vast, wide-ranging deceptions about the deadly war in Vietnam had spanned four presidential administrations, from Truman to Eisenhower, Kennedy to Johnson.

“The Pentagon Papers revealed that each of those Presidents had repeatedly misled the public about U.S. operations in Vietnam, and that even as the government was said to be pursuing peace, behind the scenes the military and CIA were covertly expanding the war. The Papers provided a shadowy history loaded with evidence of assassinations, violations of the Geneva Convention, rigged elections and lies in front of Congress.”

In an interview, Singer said that The Post script had foreseen some present-day parallels under Donald Trump to the era depicted in their film. “It was remarkable how more and more relevant the first amendment theme became as we were in production”, remarked the scriptwriter. “It’s one of the reasons why Steven [Spielberg] wanted to make the movie now.”

The comment is no doubt sincere, but it points in a contradictory fashion to some of the movie’s limitations.

The authentic feeling for the First Amendment and constitutional rights is expressed in a film that, first of all, also offers a highly idealized portrait of its central characters. The Post itself makes mention of the many connections of Graham and Bradlee to the political establishment. McNamara, one of the chief war criminals of the day, was Graham’s close personal friend.

The movie’s feminist coloration is off the mark. The script apparently originated with the desire of screenwriter Liz Hannah “to tell the story of Katharine Graham, the former Washington Post publisher who became the first-ever female CEO of a Fortune 500 company … As Hannah was writing the first draft, the symmetry between Graham and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton seemed to be the most obvious parallel to the present. (She sold the script just 10 days before the election.)” Fortunately, the screenplay evolved from that narrow beginning to take up broader questions. Nonetheless, the emphasis on Graham’s “pioneering” status as a female CEO remains. The filmmakers take for granted this is something to celebrate.

As an antidote to the worship of Graham-Streep, it ought to be remembered that one of the most notorious union-busting operations of the 1970s took place when the publisher set out to break the pressmen’s union at the Post, provoking a strike in October 1975 that ended with mass firings and the frame-up of 15 workers on charges related to slightly damaged equipment in the printing plant. The Post strike is widely considered one of the preludes to the Reagan administration’s destruction of the air traffic controllers union, PATCO, in 1981.

In the Washington Monthly in January 1976, in an article sharply critical of Graham and her activities, the same Ben Bagdikian who hunted down and helped see to the publication of the Pentagon Papers wrote that the Post’s going public in 1971 marked the “transformation of the daily newspaper in the United States from a family enterprise to a corporation with an obligation to its stockholders to ‘maximize’ profits.”

As for Bradlee, his history may be even more sordid. This Cold War liberal from a Boston Brahmin family, and an intimate friend of John and Jacqueline Kennedy, worked covertly for the CIA in Europe in the 1950s. His sister-in-law in 1971 was Mary Pinchot Meyer, formerly married to Cord Meyer, a high-level CIA official, involved in countless agency operations.

Christopher Reed in a 2014 Guardian obituary detailed how Bradlee had “spent many years undercover as a counter-espionage informant, a government propagandist and an unofficial asset of the Central Intelligence Agency.” Among his credits, according to Reed, included promulgating “CIA-directed European propaganda urging the controversial
execution of the convicted American spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg” in 1953.

As noted above, The Post offers a romanticized version of Graham and Bradlee as heroes of democracy, and that is not to the filmmakers’ credit. Moreover, Spielberg’s rush to shoot and release the film by the end of 2017 apparently had a great deal to do with Trump’s coming to power and his own support for the Democratic Party.

This is not the first time in history of course that a Hollywood movie has shaded the truth about the lives of its central figures. But that has not prevented a host of biographical and historical films from shedding light on important matters. That’s the case here too. The Post has an impact and implications that go beyond the immediate ideas and intentions of the filmmakers.

Spielberg’s film dramatizes, with some insight, the outlook and physiognomy of a bourgeois layer who still retained in 1971 some attachment to and also fear about the abandonment of democratic principles. After all, only one year after the mass protests over the killings at Kent State, what if the Pentagon Papers had gotten beyond the control of the New York Times and the Washington Post? In any event, Graham and Bradlee showed a certain amount of courage and principle in contrast to their counterparts today.

The whole ruling elite has moved dramatically to the right. Graham herself said in 1988 in an address to the CIA: “There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t … I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.”

In November of 2010, at the height of the revelations published by WikiLeaks of US actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller published a piece stressing that in considering whether or not to disclose state secrets, the Times engaged in “extensive and serious discussions with the government.” Keller wrote: “We agree wholeheartedly that transparency is not an absolute good. Freedom of the press includes freedom not to publish, and that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity.” There would be no publication of the Pentagon Papers in our day.

It is inconceivable that the 1971 Supreme Court decision allowing the Times and Post to publish the documents would be handed down today. The courts now routinely rule that the government has the right to suppress information and spy on everybody in the interests of “national security.”

The Post cites a passage from Justice Hugo Black’s 1971 ruling. It is worth quoting at greater length:

“In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. … In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly.”

The fate of Daniel Ellsberg, who never went to jail and was even widely honored, was far different from that of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. In 2011, an 80-year-old Ellsberg, commenting on the 40th anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers, wrote: “What we need released this month are the Pentagon Papers of Iraq and Afghanistan (and Pakistan, Yemen and Libya).”

In an interview with CNN at that time, Ellsberg noted that the crimes committed by the Nixon administration against him 40 years ago could now be carried out under the cover of law by the Obama White House.

The list of crimes “includes burglarizing my former psychoanalyst’s office… warrantless wiretapping, using the CIA against an American citizen in the US, and authorizing a White House hit squad to ‘incapacitate me totally’ (on the steps of the Capitol on May 3, 1971)”, Ellsberg said. “But under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, with the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendment Act, and (for the hit squad) President Obama’s executive orders”, those crimes “have all become legal.”

To whatever extent Spielberg, Singer and company are aware of the vast decay of American democracy, it is the most vital feature that the discerning viewer will take away from The Post.

How Alaskan bears help plants


This video about Alaska is called The Land of Giant Bears.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Great scat! Bears — not birds — are the chief seed dispersers in Alaska

January 16, 2018

It’s a story of bears, birds and berries.

In southeastern Alaska, brown and black bears are plentiful because of salmon. Their abundance also means they are the primary seed dispersers of berry-producing shrubs, according to an Oregon State University study.

The OSU team used motion-triggered cameras to record bears, birds and small mammals eating red berries of devil’s club, and retrieved DNA in saliva left on berry stalks to identify the species and sex of the bears. Researchers found that bears, while foraging, can disperse through their scat about 200,000 devil’s club seeds per square kilometer per hour. Rodents then scatter and hoard those seeds, much like squirrels hoard acorns.

The study was published today in the journal Ecosphere.

In most ecosystems, birds generally are thought of as chief dispersers of seeds in berries, said Taal Levi, an ecologist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and co-author on the study. The researchers found that birds accounted for only a small fraction of seed dispersal.

This is the first instance of a temperate plant being primarily dispersed by mammals through their gut, and suggests that bears may influence plant composition in the Pacific Northwest.

It was well-known that bears were dispersing seeds through their scat, Levi said, but it was not known that they were dispersing more seeds than birds, or the relative contribution of brown and black bears to seed dispersal, or whether the two species bears were eating berries at different times of the year.

“Devil’s club is extremely abundant in northern southeast Alaska, so it didn’t seem plausible that birds were dispersing all this fruit”, Levi said. “Bears are essentially like farmers. By planting seeds everywhere, they promote a vegetation community that feeds them.”

The researchers found that in the study area along the Chilkat and Klehini rivers in southeastern Alaska, brown bears dispersed the most seeds, particularly before salmon became widely available. They also found that after the brown bears switched from eating berries to salmon later in the season, black bears moved in and took over the role as principal seed dispersers. Black bears are subordinate to brown bears and avoid them.

The fruit on a devil’s club stalk is clustered into a cone containing berries. The researchers observed through the camera recordings that brown bears can swallow an estimated 350 to 400 berries in a single mouthful. Birds, on the other hand, consumed on average 76 berries per plant that they visited.

“That’s pretty remarkable,” Levi said. “When birds visit these shrubs, they take a few berries and fly off. They don’t eradicate the cones like a bear.”

Laurie Harrer, Levi’s co-author, swabbed devil’s club to retrieve environmental DNA from residual saliva left by animals and birds that ate the berries. Harrer, a master’s student in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, analyzed the samples to determine that female brown bears ate more berries than male brown bears, female black bears ate more than male black bears and brown bears ate more than black bears.

Brown bears, also known as grizzlies, are extinct in Oregon and California and are nearly extinct in Washington.

“The indirect effect of salmon is that they support abundant bear populations that then disperse a lot of fruit”, Levi said. “We’ve lost the salmon-bear ecosystem that once dominated the Pacific Coast. That has implications for the plant community. These seed dispersal pathways through brown bears are all but eliminated. The degree to which black bears can fulfill that role is not clear.”

Grenfell Tower fire not forgotten in London, England


A marcher with placard reading 'Homes and Justice for Survivors and Families!'

From the World Socialist Web Site about London, England:

Families and survivors hold seven-month commemoration of Grenfell Tower fire

By our reporters

17 January 2018

Around 1,500 people, including survivors and the families of those who died in last year’s Grenfell Tower fire on June 14, staged their monthly commemoration Silent March on January 14.

Marchers carried photographs and placards with details of their loved ones who perished in the fire. They held large green heart-shaped banners and placards with slogans including “Justice for Grenfell” and “Truth.”

Flowers and candles were carried by many marchers through the streets of North Kensington. Along the route, people stood by to pay their respects, while others watched in silence from their windows.

A section of the Silent March

In reference to the fact that the vast majority of survivors have still not been rehoused months after the fire, one participant carried a placard reading “Homes and Justice for Survivors and Families!”

Firefighters from the Red Watch at North Kensington fire station—the first to arrive at the scene of the fire—lined the street at Ladbroke Grove tube station. Several survivors went to shake the hands of the firefighters.

A survivor of the Grenfell Tower fire shakes hands with firefighters

Just days before the march, KPMG—the project managers of the official government inquiry into the fire—were forced to stand down after it was revealed the firm had audited the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council and two companies involved in the cladding of Grenfell Tower in flammable material, Rydon and Celotex. All are supposed to be under investigation by the Inquiry and Metropolitan Police for their role in the fire.

The previous day, the Socialist Equality Party-initiated Grenfell Fire Forum held its fifth meeting in North Kensington. Members and supporters of the forum distributed hundreds of copies of the article, “Fraud of official inquiry into Grenfell fire exposed by forced withdrawal of project management adviser” to marchers.

Natasha, from Willesden in north west London, read the leaflet before the march started. She told us that the response from the authorities since the fire was “far from satisfactory. There is no solid investigation. The sentence that struck me in the leaflet was the line that 70 people perished in homes managed by the state.

Natasha

“It’s sad because people thought straight away this [cover-up] would happen. People thought, ‘We need a real inquiry.’ And they’ve done exactly what we thought they would do. It’s confirming that the state doesn’t care and they don’t value workers’ lives.”

Looking around at the growing crowd ahead of the march, Natasha said, “This response shows that people are not going to stop meeting every month till they get justice. I think they will win eventually.

“I live relatively near. I came straight down here the morning after the fire with some blankets and gave them to one of the hand-out shelters. Seeing the building like that was one of the most shocking sights I will ever witness.

“It really hit me that it’s been seven months and people have not been rehoused. You don’t want people to forget about this. It’s a continuing tragedy.”

Asked her thoughts on the police inquiry and why no one had yet been arrested or charged for the deaths, she said, “Why isn’t it being treated as a crime? Right at the start people were saying that some people might go down for it, but it won’t be the people at the top.”

In response to why she thought that the victims of the Grenfell tragedy had been treated appallingly, she said, “It’s the capitalist state that are not treating people right. The same reason why the fire happened is the same reason why they are not being treated right. It’s a continuation of that treatment.”

Describing the housing conditions in Willesden, Natasha said, “It’s not got as many rich [people] as here, but it’s got Queen’s Park, which is just 15 minutes over there and is very wealthy. In Queen’s Park, a rich house would go for a million pounds or two. Willesden and Harlesden are being gentrified slowly. I think most of London has estates two minutes from rich, big detached houses.”

Natasha noted that the fire could have easily been in a tower block in Willesden: “Lots of people from my school know families who lived in Grenfell. Some people live in Trellick Tower [a 31-storey block of flats in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea].”

Asked if she had noticed a change in workers’ consciousness since the fire, Natasha said she had: “People now talk about the Triangle Factory fire in New York about a century ago, and I think it is pivotal. Grenfell crosses so many things like class and housing and safety. It brings up so many issues that Londoners are facing today.”

Regarding the Triangle fire, she said, “This is different as this is housing and Triangle was workers being locked-in. But laws were changed after that fire and people just said, ‘This can’t happen again’. Grenfell has made people realise that things are not fine. You can still die if you are placed in a certain situation.”

Alim Karim is a teacher. This was the first Silent March he attended. He said, “The Grenfell victims deserve justice. My view is that there is enough evidence for a criminal prosecution.

“It’s very important we stay here and make it clear this is not going to go away.

“From what you were saying about KPMG, if they had connections with the council and two companies responsible for the cladding, whoever appointed KPMG to the inquiry has some questions to answer.

“I think those responsible are those who made the decisions to put the cladding on. Ultimately the council are responsible. The management company [who ran Grenfell tower—the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation] was created by the council. The chain of command leads to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

“Fire safety regulation has been taken away from the public sector through private companies, so they are just paying for a certificate and concern for the public is not there anymore. I think these problems are a nationwide issue.

“Communities are being forced to leave town centres. The knock-on effect is what you are seeing with all this homelessness. Housing should go back to its original function, which is about housing people, not making money out of people.”

Antonio is from Italy. He said, “Look, there is no investigation to be done. We already know what happened. The fact is that in this country, people are put in a ghetto, put in a building in terrible conditions in a very wealthy neighbourhood where workers, immigrants and refugees are not to be shown. The authorities just hide them there in Grenfell, trying to make the building look better by placing flammable cladding on it, and because of that, all these people died.

“The hypocrisy of the investigation simply shows clearly there is nothing to investigate. This is a class war. Capitalism is killing everyday through different facets, and this just another facet of class warfare.

“The victims need housing and should be housed in the empty apartments in and around the borough, in Notting Hill, in Hammersmith, etc. I live around here, and I know how many apartments remain empty. Can these buildings and apartments remain empty while the victims must remain in hostels in a life deprived of human dignity? We should forget about the laws and start to think in terms of class and social justice.”

2018, the Year of the Bird


This video from the USA says about itself:

Year of the bird: Tracking TN‘s bird population

Jan. 1, 2018: Local bird enthusiasts helped track Tennessee’s population of feathered friends.

From Cornell Lab eNews in the USA, January 2018:

Welcome to the Year of the Bird

We’ve joined with National Geographic, National Audubon Society, BirdLife International, and more than 100 organizations to declare 2018 the Year of the Bird. Coinciding with the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act‘s ratification, it’s a great moment to pledge to do one thing per month to help birds. To kick off the year, we’ve collected six resolutions to help you #BirdYourWorld in 2018.

Why Birds Matter. That’s the topic of a National Geographic article by novelist and birder Jonathan Franzen. He joined Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick and Audubon’s David O’Neill for a conversation with NPR’s OnPoint radio show. Listen here.