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Spoonbill and parasol mushrooms of Vlieland island

Spoonbill, 28 September 2015

After 27 September came 28 September 2015 on Vlieland. This photo shows a spoonbill we saw that day, feeding in shallow Wadden Sea water just south of the island.

Before we saw that spoonbill, as we woke up, a robin sang.

In the Wadden Sea shallow water: curlew, oystercatcher, redshank.

Spoonbill in Wadden Sea, 28 September 2015

And then, the already mentioned spoonbill. That bird was late for the time of the year; many spoonbills having already gone to Africa on their autumn migration.

We went north, to the North Sea.

Parasol mushroom, 28 September 2015

In the sand dunes, a parasol mushroom.

On jetties protruding from the beach: many herring gulls. And oystercatchers, ruddy turnstones, carrion crows, and great cormorants.

Dead great cormorant, 28 September 2015

On the beach, a dead great cormorant. A young bird, as its white breast feathers showed. Its neck buried in the sand.

Parasol mushrooms, 28 September 2015

As we went back, more parasol mushrooms, of various sizes and ages.

Saudi royal air force bombs Yemeni wedding, again

This video says about itself:

100+ Yemeni Civilians Killed At Wedding By Saudi Airstrike

29 September 2015

The death toll from an air strike on a wedding party in Yemen has jumped to 131, medics said on Tuesday, in one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in Yemen’s war that drew strong condemnation from the U.N. secretary-general.

That was then. And now …

By James Tweedie:

Yemen: Saudis kill 30 in raid after rebels sign up to UN peace plan

Friday 9th October 2015

AT LEAST 30 people were killed when the Saudi-led coalition bombed a wedding, Yemeni officials said yesterday.

Wednesday’s attack came after the UN announced that the rebel Anasarullah movement — commonly known as the Houthis — had agreed to a ceasefire.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the group had signed up to a seven-point peace plan which includes abiding by security council resolution 2216, which requires the Houthis to withdraw from all areas they occupy — including the capital Sanaa — and to lay down their arms.

In return, the movement will be given a role in government and become a recognised political party.

The agreement was confirmed by Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abd al-Salam, according to Yemen’s Saba Net news agency.

Mr Salam also called on UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon and the UN security council to back Yemen’s peace process.

The air raid took place in the town of Sanabani in Dhamar province, an area controlled by the Houthi rebels. The host of the wedding was a local tribal leader alleged to be an Ansarullah supporter.

The three local officials said that hospitals had been overwhelmed with the wounded.

There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia’s military coalition, which last week denied that it was responsible for the bombing of another wedding on September 28, killing more than 130 people.

But as the forces loyal to Houthi-backed presidential pretender Ali Abdullah Saleh possess no aircraft, suspicion fell on Saudi Arabia and its allies.

‘THE LIFE AND DEATH GAMBLE OF ATTENDING A WEDDING IN YEMEN’ “The wedding was almost over. Three brothers waited at their father’s house, as is tradition in Yemen, for their new brides to arrive. Then, according to relatives of the victims, the bombs fell.” [Charlotte Alfred, HuffPost]

Dams and wildlife in the USA, films at Rotterdam festival

This trailer video from the USA says about itself:

This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Dam removal has moved beyond the fictional Monkey Wrench Gang to go mainstream.

Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades without access. DamNation’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move us through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.

This film is at the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Like this other film:

This trailer video says about itself:

‘Return of the River’ follows a group of people who attempt the impossible: to change the opinion of a town and eventually the nation to bring two dams down. The community comes to consensus, launching the largest dam removal in history, and showing the way to a more sustainable future. Infused with hope, the film explores an unlikely victory for environmental justice and restoration, unfolding on the Elwha River in Washington State.

English priest charged with making 3,100 child porn images

This video series says about itself:

Abuse of Trust

31 July 2009

Documentary about Catholic Clerical Child Abuse in Ireland. This documentary focuses on the Dublin Diocese and has interviews from survivors who describe their horrendous experiences of sexual abuse as children, Andrew Madden and Marie Collins. This also interviews the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Catholic priest Paul Clarke charged with making 3,100 indecent images of children

Police said there was no evidence of local children being involved

Lizzie Dearden

Thursday 8 October 2015 13:15 BST

A 71-year-old Roman Catholic priest has been charged with making 3,100 indecent images of children.

Father Paul Clarke, of Redclyffe Road in Urmston, but formerly of Rye in East Sussex, is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates Court today.

He has been charged with possessing an indecent image of a child, possessing prohibited images, and making a total of 3,100 indecent images of children.

Police searched his former residence at the presbytery of St Anthony of Padua church in Rye on 13 November last year, seizing computers and other alleged evidence.

The Rye News reported that Father Clarke resigned “suddenly” in February, having been at the church since 2009.

New grasshopper species discovery on Texel island

This is a video from Switzerland about the Phaneroptera falcata grasshopper.

Warden Jitske Esselaar reports from Texel island in the Netherlands about the discovery of a grasshopper species, new for Texel.

In the sand dunes near the North Sea, a Phaneroptera falcata grasshopper was seen.

This is a species of the southern part of the Netherlands. However, it is expanding to the north.

Films on Afghan war, Guantanamo reviewed

This video from Canada is called GUANTANAMO’S CHILD: OMAR KHADR Trailer | Festival 2015.

By Joanne Laurier:

8 October 2015

This is the fourth in a series of articles devoted to the recent Toronto International Film Festival (September 10-20). The first part was posted September 26, the second part October 1 and the third part October 3.

The case of Omar Khadr

The “war on terror” is a lying, noxious phrase, endlessly invoked to justify the American ruling elite’s drive for global dominance. This week marks the 14th anniversary of the US military’s invasion of Afghanistan, an exercise in sociocide, which has led to the deaths of tens of thousands and the further laying waste of the already impoverished nation.

The tragic encounter of American imperialism with the Afghan people goes back to the late 1970s, when the Carter administration incited and fomented Islamic fundamentalists, including Osama bin Laden, as part of the strategy of undermining the Soviet Union. The criminality of US policy in Central Asia knows almost no bounds.

Michelle Shephard and Patrick Reed’s documentary, Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr, concerns itself with the Canadian-born youth who was captured in Afghanistan by US forces in 2002 during an airstrike and assault that killed all the anti-American insurgents except the grievously wounded, 15-year-old Omar. He was sent to the Bagram Air Base, site of a notorious US prison in Afghanistan, and tortured, before he was transferred to the even more notorious Guantanamo Bay internment camp in Cuba.

Treated like a “terrorist”—for having fought as a soldier against an invading army—by the criminals in the American government and their junior partners in Canada, Omar, in 2005, became the only juvenile to be tried for war crimes.

In 2010, he pleaded not guilty to “murdering” US Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer during the 2002 firefight. Three months later, he changed his plea, his only means of obtaining release from the Guantanamo hellhole. Over the strenuous objections of the Harper government in Ottawa, Omar was repatriated to Canada in 2012. Since his release in May 2015, Khadr has resided with his lawyer Dennis Edney in Edmonton, Alberta.

As the Shephard-Reed film reveals, Omar Khadr is a remarkable young man, as is his feisty, Scottish-born attorney. Through extensive interviews, Guantanamo’s Child constructs a nightmarish picture of Omar’s ordeal at the hands of the American military.

Although the bright and soft-spoken Omar is forthright in declaring that he was fighting “for a cause: fighting invaders,” the filmmakers are far more defensive about his role. In fact, the initial portions of the documentary tend to take the “war on terror” and the accompanying propaganda campaign at face value, as though “everything changed” as a result of the 9/11 attacks. The implication is that the “Americans” may have overreacted, but they had every right to “defend” themselves.

Any objective examination of the post-9/11 measures by the Bush administration would conclude that the actions corresponded to a long-standing agenda, involving massive US intervention in the Middle East and Central Asia in pursuit of energy supplies and, more generally, American imperialist geopolitical objectives, and that the terrorist attacks merely provided a pretext.

Missing in Guantanamo’s Child is any reference to the history of the region. There is no indication that the bin Laden forces were financed and encouraged by the CIA. It should be noted that Shepard, who wrote a book in 2008 entitled Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr, is the national security reporter for the Toronto Star, one of Canada’s largest daily newspapers.

All in all, it seems fair to argue that documentary reflects the views of that section of the Canadian elite that is not happy with the country’s current relationship with Washington, with what it perceives as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s subservience, and is taking the opportunity to “stick it” to the US over the Khadr case.

In any case, whatever the serious weaknesses of Guantanamo’s Child, the majority of the film is devoted to allowing Omar to speak openly about his past and present condition—unusual in the pro-war media propaganda world. He has an insightful, mature and cautious voice.

Omar Khadr was born in Toronto in 1986, but spent much of his childhood in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The film briefly discusses his family and his early life.

As Guantanamo’s Child reveals, after his 2002 capture, the teenager suffered extensive psychological and physical abuse. In one striking scene, a repentant Damien Corsetti, a former US interrogator at Bagram, who was nicknamed “The Monster” for using techniques such as the “Human Mop” (forcing prisoners to wipe up their urine on the floor with their own bodies), movingly talks about how Omar’s youth and bravery humanized him. This contrasts to the self-justifying remarks made by a former CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) official, who features prominently in the film.

Also interviewed are the well-spoken Moazzam Begg and Ruhal Ahmed, both British citizens who bear witness to the horrors perpetrated in American prisons—Moazzam having been incarcerated with Omar at Bagram and Ruhal with him at Guantanamo. In addition, Omar’s mother and sister make critical, but unsurprisingly disoriented, remarks about the invaders.

The film also shows Omar’s amazing fortitude. Despite his age, and imprisonment for more than a decade, he never cowers before his tormentors and their false accusations. He also defied the incredible odds against being released from Guantanamo.

During the 2002 firefight, the Americans inflicted serious wounds on Omar, including two holes in his chest, that would eventually destroy one eye and greatly impair the other. Were it not for the intrepid efforts of Edney—his lawyer who was initially not allowed access to Omar for four years—he would still be locked away as an “enemy combatant” in the internment camp.

These two remarkable individuals and their bond drive the movie, but as well highlight the documentary’s major internal contradiction: Omar himself is prima facie evidence of the inhuman, illegal nature of the war. Unfortunately, the filmmakers never follow the political logic of the story of their protagonist and the forces who calumniated and tried to destroy him.

Thank You for Bombing

From Austria comes Thank You For Bombing, directed by Barbara Eder (Inside America, 2010), which provides an unflattering portrait of contemporary journalists on assignment in war zones.

The fiction film comprises a triptych of stories related to the war in Afghanistan. The first concerns an Austrian reporter, Ewald (Erwin Steinhauser), forced by his boss to go to Afghanistan. Clearly suffering from a post-traumatic nervous disorder that has rendered him incontinent, Ewald sees a man at the airport who may or may not have been involved in the murder of his cameraman during the war in Bosnia. Neither his unsympathetic editor nor his sympathetic wife are inclined to believe a man plagued by horrible wartime memories.

The next two segments are indictments of the unrelenting careerism and opportunism of war correspondents. In the first, American reporter Lana (Manon Kahle) will stop at nothing to obtain an interview with two US soldiers in Afghanistan who allegedly have burned copies of the Koran. The episode is based on the incident that memorably set off massive protests in 2012. Lana bribes and cajoles anyone and everyone to obtain what will be a major “scoop.”

The two soldiers, more like caged wild animals, are being held in an isolated bunker by the American military. Lana buys her way into their presence. But after the interview, they turn the tables on her. She allows herself to submit to gross humiliations and a near-rape to get the story. Although a revealing sequence, the encounter between Lana and the two offending soldiers takes on a gratuitous character at a certain point. It does, however, depict a demoralized, dehumanized American army.

In the movie’s final chapter, Cal (Raphael von Bargen), once a respected journalist, is tired of waiting for the bombs to begin falling. He even tries to stage young Afghan boys throwing rocks at American soldiers. A heavy drinker, he gets fired. On a drive in the middle of nowhere, a tragic accident takes the life of his driver, which has little impact on the callous reporter.

Eder’s Thank You for Bombing is rightfully contemptuous of the media, but says little or nothing about the war itself. It is critical of ambitious journalists who use and abuse the native population, going so far as to be grateful for the dropping of American bombs that will devastate the country, thus giving them new headlines. Although an angry protest (one assumes against the war), the movie suffers from a lack of serious context.

During the question-and-answer period after the film’s public screening in Toronto, director Eder explained that the work was based on real incidents that she fictionalized to safeguard the identities of the journalists.

Brazilian Atlantic forest wildlife film at Rotterdam festival

This video is the trailer of the film Brazil, a natural history: Fragile Forest.

At the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, are not only films from Africa, but also this film.

The organisers write about it:

This enigmatic forest once stretched along the coast of Brazil for thousands of kilometres. Now there is only 7% left. Yet it is still home for many remarkable animals. Muriqui are the largest monkeys in South America. These very rare, highly social creatures greet each other with hugs – the closer the friendship, the more intense the hugs.

Great dusky swifts fly through the tumbling waters of the mighty Iguaçu Falls to build their nests on the slippery rock faces behind the curtains of water.

Coatis are curious looking creatures with their long flexible noses and banded tails, making them quite comical. But appearances can be deceptive; coatis are efficient hunters. They are also very social, living in all-female gangs that are composed of sisters, mothers and aunts. The females support one another in their day-to-day lives, keeping a watch out for predators.

Blue manakins are also social, but in a completely different way. In the depths of the forest, the males of these startlingly colourful birds work as a team to court a female. Like miniature circus performers they jump and bounce on a branch, one after the other, to excite their audience. Only the lead artist gets to carry out the last act.