About petrel41

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

Griffon vulture on video


This is a griffon vulture video. Made in the Netherlands, where these birds are rare.

I was privileged to see them in Aragon and in Extremadura in Spain.

‘Pro-human rights’ governments violating human rights


Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters. A woman’s peaceful act of resistance during a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has become the symbol of a powerful moment in the Black Lives Matter movement

This June 2016 photo from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA is on the front page of the new Amnesty International annual report. It shows a Black Lives Matter demonstrator against police violence; who would be arrested.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today, on Amnesty International‘s 2016/2017 report:

According to Amnesty director Shetty the French state of emergency is “deeply discriminatory” and more than 600 people, mostly Muslims, have been placed under house arrest. Also more than 140 demonstrations have been prohibited.

France in that is not unique, the organization says. Amnesty sees that more and more countries fiddle with the existing laws that protect human rights and fears a domino effect. “Countries that once had reputations as champions to defend human rights abroad, are now too busy curtailing the rights in their own countries, let alone to control others still.”

THERESA MAY’S “callous brutality” towards child refugees and the passing of “draconian legislation” has made Britain a “golden standard for human rights abuses,” Amnesty International warns in its annual report released today: here.

Howler monkeys’ eyes, new research


This video is called Howler Monkeys | National Geographic.

From Science News:

Howler monkeys may owe their color vision to leaf hue

Distinguishing red from green makes healthier leaves stand out

By Laurel Hamers

5:59pm, February 21, 2017

BOSTON — A taste for reddish young leaves might have pushed howler monkeys toward full-spectrum color vision. The ability to tell red from green could have helped howlers pick out the more nutritious, younger leaves, researchers reported February 19 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That’s a skill their insect-eating close relatives probably didn’t need.

Primates show substantial variation in their color vision capabilities, both between and within species, said Amanda Melin, a biological anthropologist at the University of Calgary in Canada. Trichromatic vision (how most humans see) requires three light-sensitive proteins in the eye that can detect different wavelengths of light. Within most monkey species in Central and South America, only some individuals have trichromatic vision. Males have dichromatic vision — they’re red-green colorblind — and only some females can see the whole rainbow. Howlers are an exception — thanks to a duplicated gene on their X chromosomes, trichromatic vision is the norm for both males and females.

Howlers graze on leaves from Ficus trees and other plants when fruit can’t be found. In field observations of mantled howlers (Alouatta palliata) in Costa Rica, the monkeys preferentially munched on the younger, more nutritious leaves, Melin’s team found. The reddish hue of new leaves makes them pop more when seen with trichromatic vision than dichromatic vision, the researchers reported in a paper accepted for publication in Ecology and Evolution. Because young leaves are a fleeting treat and not a constant resource, monkeys able to spot them more quickly could have had a selective advantage.

Similar selection pressures might also help explain why Old World monkeys from Asia and Africa also have consistent trichromatic vision, Melin said. “What we might be seeing is a convergent evolution for animals who fall back on leaves when fruit isn’t around.”

On the other hand, other Central and South American monkeys usually go for insects, instead of leaves, when there’s no fruit. Dichromatic vision might be a better fit for their lifestyle, Melin said. “Color can impede ability to see patterns, borders and textures. Insects hide and camouflage.”

I was privileged to hear and see howler monkeys in Suriname and Costa Rica.

Donald Trump and anti-Semitism


This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Keeps Getting Anti-Semitism Questions, Keeps Giving Horrible Answers

16 February 2017

Trump was asked about anti-Semitism for the second day in a row. His answer was nonsense. Again. Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola, hosts of The Young Turks, discuss. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Mr. Trump’s abominable answer to the anti-Semitism question on Wednesday drew considerable criticism in the Israeli press and elsewhere, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when a different reporter reprised it at another news conference on Thursday.

Mr. Trump ordered the reporter to sit down before the question was even finished. “No. 1: I’m the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life,” Mr. Trump insisted and “No. 2: Racism. The least racist person.”

Mr. Trump derided the question as “very insulting.” Then he played his ace card by invoking Mr. Netanyahu, who one day earlier awarded Mr. Trump his personal imprimatur and political cover by declaring “there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state” than the new American president.”

Read more here.

From e News Park Forest in the USA:

Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect: Mr. President, Your Too Little, Too Late Acknowledgement of #Antisemitism Today is Not Enough

February 21, 2017

NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)—February 21, 2017. Statement of Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, on President Trump’s acknowledgment of Antisemitism today:

“The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record.

Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, Presidents’ Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.”

Black woodpecker on video


This 21 February 2017 video shows a black woodpecker preparing its nest for the new season.

Luuk Punt made this video in Gelderland province in the Netherlands.

German police banning refugees from carnival?


This video from Germany says about itself:

Esmeralda Labye [French speaking Belgian] TV reporter is sexually assaulted live on air during Cologne [carnival] festival

5 February 2016

Female reporter is sexually assaulted live on camera during Cologne festival as she reports on how the event has been overshadowed by New Year’s Eve rapes

That ‘New Year’s Eve mass rapes in Cologne’ hullaballoo in corporate media later turned out to be largely fake news, especially its blaming of the crimes (mainly pickpocketing) on refugees.

Ms Esmeralda Labye was sexually assaulted by white men. If the kind of people who think that if one refugee commits a crime, then all refugees are supposedly criminals … or if one Muslim is violent, then all over a billion Muslims are supposedly terrorists … if these people would be consequent, then they would propose banning all white men from the Cologne and other carnival celebrations because of the sexual assault on Ms Labye.

Instead, something different happened in Germany.

By Dietmar Henning in Germany:

German police warn refugees not to attend carnival in Cologne

21 February 2017

A letter written by a police department in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has revealed the attitude of the state apparatus to refugees. “From a police point of view,” they are undesired at traditional carnival celebrations due to start this Thursday in NRW.

An official from the NRW Central Police Office (LZPD) in the city of Duisburg sent an official internal letter to the NRW district administration. It was then published by the Kölner Stadtanzeiger.

Under the title “Information on the 2017 Carnival,” it addressed the “counsellors of refugees and asylum seekers,” who have organised the attendance at carnival events in previous years, and said: “From a police point of view, these actions are rather to be seen critically, since they force mass attendance of refugees and asylum seekers.”

With regard to the “current security situation in Germany, and also because of the events on the previous New Year’s Eve … we are dissuading” refugees and asylum seekers from attending, wrote the LZPD.

It warns the refugees about “strengthened police and security checks” and requests that, if they attend the carnival anyway, they must “submit to the checks without criticism.” They should have identification papers with them and “carry no large bags, backpacks or dangerous objects.”

When questioned by the press, the police department confirmed that the letter was genuine. At the same time, they distanced themselves from its content. It should “not have been published,” said Schabacker, spokesperson for the LZPD. It should have stated things differently and provided merely factual information, such as, for example, that large bags could be checked by the police.

Ralf Jäger (Social Democratic Party, SPD), who heads the Ministry for Internal Affairs and Municipal Issues (MIK), also distanced himself from the letter when he was questioned by the Kölner Stadtanzeiger. “Something of that nature would be unacceptable,” he said.

These statements are transparent attempts at damage control. The LZPD is directly subordinate to the Interior Ministry under Jäger. The letter also mentions an agreement with Department 1 of the ministry, which is also responsible for foreigner affairs.

During New Year’s Eve, the police in Cologne carried out a huge deployment of over 2,000 police and claimed that more than 2,000 North Africans “flocked together.” At night, the police tweeted: “Hundreds of Nafris are currently being checked at the main train station. Information to follow.” Men who did not fit with the police interpretation of what constitutes a “German” were singled out and held by police in front of the main train station building for several hours.

The chief of the Cologne police, Jürgen Mathies, later apologized for the racist term “Nafri,” which is a police abbreviation for “North African habitual offender.” However, he stood by the claim that “the men travelled [to Cologne] from all over the country and arrived at nearly the exact same time.”

It was later revealed that the report of “violent hordes of men” from North African countries (WRD Radio Broadcasting) was a fiction. The police information was simply false. On January 13, the Cologne police sheepishly admitted that it had determined the identities of 674 people, and of the 425 whose nationalities had been established, just 30 came from North Africa.

There was also no “mob” or “showdown with the police,” or prior conspiracy to commit crimes. The presence of a few hundred young men of “foreign appearance” in Cologne, the largest city in NRW, is not peculiar, certainly not on New Year’s Eve, when 50,000 of the city’s 1 million residents, a third of whom have an immigrant background, attend celebrations.

Nevertheless, the misinformation spread. No more than two weeks later, the Cologne police reported the initial results of an “investigation.” “The ten investigators of the ‘New Year’s Eve working group’ want to find out among other things why so many refugees and asylum seekers travelled to Cologne from countries such as Iraq, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria for New Year’s,” wrote the Kölner Stadtanzeiger on January 25. This was demonstrably not the case.

The newspaper quoted a report by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), which described Cologne as a “magnet for entering North Africans.”

The lies about North Africans, refugees and foreigners serve a political purpose. They are aimed at shifting the anger over social cuts, unemployment and poverty away from the responsible Social Democrats and Green politicians onto defenceless refugees, and at justifying the building up of the police and state surveillance apparatus. This is grist for the mill of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and other right-wing and far-right parties.

Young cormorant, young shag, what’s the difference?


This 16 February 2017 Dutch video is about a young great cormorant and a young shag. They look similar. However, look around their eyes for the difference.