Pigeons, young coots and herring gulls

Pigeons, 13 August 2017

13 August 2017. While we were on our way to a carnivorous plant exhibition in the Leiden botanical garden, we saw these domestic pigeons. Like all photos on this blog post, a macro lens photo.

Pigeon, 13 August 2017

While the pigeons looked for food on the bank, an adult coot swam in the canal with two youngsters. One of the chicks was obviously older than the older one, having already a white belly and being bigger. A man threw a piece of apple near the coots. Immediately, a herring gull dived to catch the apple. Also immediately, the parent coot drove away the herring gull.

Pigeons, 13 August 2017

Meanwhile, the pigeons kept looking for food.

Pigeons, on 13 August 2017

Domestic pigeons in various colours.

Pigeon, on 13 August 2017

Sometimes, many birds flew away, leaving only one.

Pigeon, Leiden, 13 August 2017

Herring gull, 13 August 2017

We continued, along another canal. There, we met two herring gulls. Maybe one of them was the gull we had seen earlier with the piece of apple and the coots.

Herring gulls, 13 August 2017

Maybe the bird on the left is the male of this couple; and the bird on the right the female (females being a bit smaller in this species).

We arrived at the carnivorous plants exhibition. So, stay tuned!

Steve Bannon gone, Trump still United States president

This video from the USA says about itself:

BREAKING: Fired Steve Bannon IMMEDIATELY Turns On Trump

18 August 2017

Hell hath no fury like a Bannon scorned. Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, and Cary Harrison, hosts of The Young Turks, discuss.

Steve Bannon gave an exit interview to The Weekly Standard wherein he said that “the Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over”:

“We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”

Bannon returned to Breitbart earlier today after leaving the White House, and he’s making it clear that he is not going to war against Trump specifically, but rather the people around him getting in the way of the populist agenda he promised.”

Read more here.

Sad to say, another example of using the word ‘populist’ where extreme right racist should be used.

By Barry Grey in the USA:

Trump’s firing of Bannon: The military asserts control

19 August 2017

Trump’s firing of his fascistic chief political strategist Stephen Bannon marks a new stage in the bitter factional conflict within the American ruling elite.

The dismissal came three days after Trump’s press conference on Tuesday, in which the president defended the Nazi and white supremacist demonstrators who rampaged through Charlottesville last weekend. Trump’s remarks triggered an unprecedented political crisis in Washington. Powerful sections of the ruling elite fear that the self-exposure of the US president as a fascist sympathizer is severely damaging the credibility of the United States internationally and creating the conditions for social explosions at home.

On Thursday, the pressure on the White House from within the state and the corporate establishment reached a new pitch with a public email rebuking Trump from James Murdoch, chief executive of 21st Century Fox and son of Trump ally Rupert Murdoch. Also on Thursday, New York Republican Congressman Peter King called for the firing of Bannon, and Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, questioned Trump’s stability and competence.

Wall Street, nervous over reports that Trump’s chief economic adviser, former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, was considering resigning, fired a shot across the administration’s bow with a broad stock market sell-off. The Dow fell 274 points on Thursday, its biggest one-day loss in three months. Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange cheered Friday when news broke of Bannon’s removal.

The decision to fire Bannon was made by Trump’s recently appointed White House chief of staff, retired Marine General John Kelly. The forces leading the push within the administration included Kelly; National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, an active duty general; Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired general; former Goldman executive Cohn; and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil.

The direct control of the military in alliance with Wall Street over the affairs of state has, if anything, been increased.

Internecine conflicts within the ruling class have raged since Trump’s inauguration, centering on differences over US imperialist foreign policy. The Democrats and a section of Republicans have lined up with dominant factions of the military and intelligence apparatus to demand that Trump take a more aggressive line against Russia and more rapidly escalate the wars in Afghanistan and Syria.

The announcement of Bannon’s removal came as Trump was meeting with his top generals and intelligence officials at Camp David to discuss their proposals for an increase in US troop levels in Afghanistan. Trump, backed by Bannon, has up to now resisted the Pentagon plan.

On Wednesday, the liberal American Prospect magazine published an interview with Bannon in which he boasted of his plans to purge opponents at the State and Defense departments, attacked Cohn by name for pulling back on trade war against China, and dismissed US war threats against North Korea, saying, “There’s no military solution, forget it.”

The following day both Tillerson and Mattis issued statements reiterating Washington’s readiness to carry out a nuclear attack on North Korea.

A significant section of Wall Street bankers and corporate CEOs, many of whom have disassociated themselves from Trump’s pro-fascist remarks, see the removal of Bannon as a step toward reining in the factional warfare within the administration and between Trump and the Republican Congress. They see this as essential to carrying out Trump’s pledges to slash corporate taxes, remove business regulations and provide a profit windfall in the guise of infrastructure reform.

There is nothing progressive or democratic about the concerns motivating the generals, Wall Street bankers and Democratic and Republican politicians who pushed for Bannon’s removal. All of the vying factions within the ruling class are agreed on the need to intensify the attack on the living standards and social conditions of the working class. Trump’s own efforts, in alliance with Bannon, to build up a fascistic base are fundamentally directed toward the violent suppression of working class opposition.

Bannon, who immediately resumed his post as head of the fascistic Breitbart News, will continue to exercise significant political influence over the Trump administration. He told Bloomberg News that he will be “going to war for Trump against his opponents,” adding, “I’m now free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons.”

As for Trump, he is doubling down on his efforts to whip up extreme right-wing elements. He is proceeding with plans to hold a rally next Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona, at which he is expected to announce a pardon for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who led a witch-hunt against immigrant workers and was convicted of contempt of court for defying a judge’s order to stop illegally detaining Hispanics.

The danger of world war, the growth of poverty and social inequality and the destruction of democratic rights will not be halted by palace intrigues or cabinet shakeups. Neither Trump nor Bannon are the cause of political reaction and the growth of far-right forces. They themselves are noxious manifestations of the crisis and decay of American and world capitalism.

There is no faction of the capitalist class that is capable of offering policies to address the urgent concerns of working people for jobs, education, pensions, health care, peace and basic rights. The Democratic Party has presided no less than the Republicans over nearly half a century of social reaction. Its main concern is to divert social anger away from a struggle against capitalism and channel it behind nationalism, trade war and expanded military aggression around the world.

The only progressive basis for opposing Trump is the independent mobilization of the working class in opposition to the entire political establishment and the capitalist system it defends.

Ivanka Trump’s Silence on Her Father’s Charlottesville Statements is Deafening: here.

Former Federal Judge Donated To White Supremacist Cause. The former judge gave money to an organization whose stated goal is to “help” a known hate group: here.

White storks, roe deer and redstart

This video is called Redstart Female on The Isles of Scilly.

Yesterday, 18 August 2017 from the train just before Zwolle, two white storks in a meadow.

Later, in Drenthe province, three white storks.

As we arrived in Losdorp in Groningen province, green-veined butterflies in the garden. A roe deer passed.

This morning, great tits at the feeders. And a female redstart sitting on a garden chair.

Bloody attack in Barcelona abused for militarism, racism

This video says about itself:

Mass demonstrations and vigils in Barcelona following terror attack

18 August 2017

At least 14 people have died in the attack in Las Ramblas and attempted attack in Cambrils. Vigils and solidarity marches have been seen across Barcelona on 18 August, the day after the incidents.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 18 August 2017:

Spanish riot police has stopped a group of demonstrators at Plaza de Catalunya [in Barcelona]. A group of 20 to 30 right-wing extremists held up signs and banners which said: stop the Islamization of Europe. Hundreds of counter-demonstrators shouted “idiots” at them and raised their middle fingers at them.

The police drove the right-wing protesters from the square after which the counter-demonstrators applauded and calm returned.

So, obvious neo-fascists try to abuse the grief about the horrible bloody crime in Barcelona for stoking up racism.

Then, there is the Spanish minority government in Madrid. It is a government of Prime Minister Rajoy‘s Partido Popular. That party was founded by a minister of the late fascist dictator Francisco Franco. The Partido Popular abuse the criminal attack as well.

By Alex Lantier and Alejandro López:

Rajoy threatens to deploy army inside Spain after Barcelona attack

19 August 2017

Well before the facts of Thursday’s horrific terror attack in Barcelona are clearly established, Spain’s right wing Popular Party (PP) government is pressing to deploy the army inside the country. This would be the first time that the army was deployed inside Spain since the country was ruled by the fascist regime of Francisco Franco, which took power via a 1936 military rebellion and a bloody three-year civil war.

Yesterday, Interior Minister Ignacio Zoido announced that he would for now keep the terror alert at level four on Spain’s five-point scale. However, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s PP government is summoning a defense council to discuss raising the terror alert to five, indicating a “very high and immediate danger of terrorist attack” and allowing for the domestic deployment of the army.

The Spanish army is already preparing for the move to alert level five. El Confidencial reported yesterday that Defense Minister Dolores Maria Cospedal had given the general staff “concrete orders” to “be ready” to deploy troops inside Spain within days. Cospedal had previously said in an interview with COPE radio that if the terror alert level were raised to five, “the army would intervene and it would be totally normal.”

The deployment of the army in Spain would not be aimed at preventing future attacks like the latest atrocity in Barcelona. Rather, the PP aims to impose martial law and shift political life in Spain far to the right. It aims to strangle workers struggles and settle its disputes with the pro-austerity Catalan regional government in Barcelona, which erupted in June after Barcelona scheduled a referendum on Catalan independence from Spain for October 1, along right-wing lines.

Less than two full days since the Barcelona attack was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) [ISIS], with many details of how they unfolded still unknown, the most serious questions are already raised about how the attacks were allowed to proceed. The CIA had sent warnings two months ago to the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan regional police, reporting that La Rambla was a terrorist target. On July 30, an IS-linked Twitter account announced an “imminent attack” in Spain.

Nonetheless, security was not apparently raised on La Rambla, even though Catalonia is known to be a center of jihadist activity in Spain. Spain’s state-linked think-tank Real Instituto Elcano noted, in a report published last year titled “The Islamic State in Spain,” that Spain’s National Court and Spanish security forces have an “extremely preventive strategy” involving mass surveillance of the Muslim population in Catalonia. Nonetheless, a large IS terror cell was allowed to prepare a major attack undisturbed.

It now appears that the attack was a botched attempt to prepare an even larger atrocity. Police suspect that a gas explosion late Wednesday at a house in Alcanar, a small town 224km from Barcelona, was in fact an accident during the preparation of bombs that were to be loaded into two vans rented in Santa Perpetua de Mogoda. This forced the terror cell to go into action immediately, before they were discovered. They drove one van into the crowd on La Rambla avenue in Barcelona Thursday at 4:50 p.m., killing 14 and wounding 126, with 17 still in critical condition.

Another car forced a police checkpoint on Diagonal Avenue in Barcelona around 8 p.m., hitting three policemen, and was shot at by police. A man was found dead in the back seat of the car, but with stab wounds, not bullet wounds, according to the Mossos d’Esquadra. It remains unclear whether this was related to the La Rambla attack.

After midnight on Friday morning, police shot and killed five suspected terrorists in Cambrils, as they tried to drive their Audi A3 through a police checkpoint and then assaulted civilians with knives and axes. A woman has since died of injuries sustained during this assault.

The five men killed by police in Cambrils were identified as Moussa Oukabir, 17, believed to be the driver of the van in Barcelona; El Houssaine Abbouyaaqoub, 19; Omar and Mohamed Hychami, 21 and 24; and Said Aallaa, 19. All were Moroccans living in Spain. There are reports that Younes Abbouyaaqoub, 22, El Houssaine’s brother, may have escaped and crossed the border into France, driving a Renault Kangoo van.

It is astonishing that, despite mass state surveillance, such a massive undertaking as the Barcelona-Cambrils attack could be prepared under the noses of Spanish police and the Mossos d’Esquadra. It is still unclear how this was possible. However, it appears that a major factor was the growing conflict between Madrid and Barcelona. Amid fears that the Catalan referendum might lead to conflict between the Mossos and Spain’s Guardia Civil, anti-terror collaboration between Catalan and central-Spanish law enforcement largely collapsed.

Catalan police unions are now sharply criticizing Madrid, accusing it of undermining the Mossos. Zoido denied them the right to hire 500 new agents, in what union official Imma Viudes told Público yesterday she believed was a “clear act of reprisal” for the scheduling of the Catalan independence referendum. Perhaps more significantly, according to police union official Sergi Miquel, Madrid also denies the Mossos access to Europol and other international police databases.

These points underscore the fraudulence of the PP’s drive now to impose martial law on the pretext that it is waging an all-out “war on terror.” Islamist networks in Europe are in fact trusted tools of European foreign policy, dispatching thousands of fighters to NATO wars for regime change in Syria and across the Middle East under the protection and the watchful eyes of the intelligence services. The so-called “war on terror” overwhelmingly is used as a pretext for the ruling elites to impose unpopular wars and austerity policies despite mass opposition.

Powerful factions of the Spanish ruling elite are seeking to use the attack to settle accounts with the Catalan bourgeois separatists in Barcelona. The pro-social-democratic daily El País, in its editorial titled “Attack in Barcelona,” bluntly demanded that the separatists drop the referendum: “An attack of this magnitude should be a wake-up call that brings back to reality the Catalan political forces that, from the Govern, the Parlement, or the Catalan independence movements have made the secessionist illusion the sole activity of Catalan political life in recent years.”

Officials in Madrid are doubtless asking themselves whether it would be easier to block the secession of Catalonia if not only the Guardia Civil, but also the Spanish army itself could be deployed to Barcelona.

Above all, however, the deployment of the army inside Spain would be aimed at the working class. Amid explosive social tensions in Spain, with unemployment at 18 percent and 40 percent among youth, it would only be a matter of time before the army was turned against the workers, as it was in the 1930s.

The Barcelona attack itself has already been used against workers struggles. … due to the terror attack, a security workers’ strike for better pay and conditions at Barcelona’s El Prat airport would be called off. Should the army be deployed amid a hysterical law-and-order atmosphere, it will no doubt play a similar function as the security forces in the French state of emergency, which were used to assault and intimidate protesters against last year’s pro-business labor law reform.

Bloody attack in Barcelona

People commemorate victims of attack in Barcelona

By Alejandro López and Alex Lantier:

18 August 2017

At least 13 people have been killed and over 80 injured, 15 seriously, after a van ploughed through crowds of people on La Rambla, Barcelona’s busiest pedestrian street, Thursday afternoon. According to the Catalan regional interior minister, Joaquim Forn, it “is very possible” that the death toll will rise. …

Thursday’s attack in Barcelona is the sixth such attack in Europe in the last 13 months. Attacks where a person driving a vehicle ploughs through crowds in high-density areas have also taken place in Nice (France), Stockholm, Berlin, Paris and London. In several of these previous attacks, the terrorists were well known to the intelligence agencies. They were part of a broader milieu that has operated as a proxy force for the US and European powers’ regime-change operations in Libya and Syria.

The identity of the attackers in Spain remains unclear, however, though it appears that a coordinated attack has taken place. As of this writing, large-scale operations by police special forces are unfolding across Catalonia.

Just after the attack took place, the attacker was alleged to be Driss Oukabir, a Moroccan born in Aghbala, legally residing in Spain. He has a police record but was released from Figueres prison, which he left in 2012. However, Oukabir, after seeing his photographs in the media, came to the police station in the town of Ripoll, where he lives, to report the theft of his documents.

Oukabir is still under interrogation to clarify why he did not report the robbery earlier, but his brother Moussa, 18, has now been named as a suspect in the theft of his documents.