The Great Bustard: Past, Present and Future of a Globally Threatened Species


Originally posted on North African Birds:

Alonso, J.C. 2014. The Great Bustard: Past, Present and Future of a Globally Threatened Species. Ornis Hungarica 22(2): 1–13.  DOI: 10.2478/orhu-2014-0014

Abstract & Full Text PDF (Open Access):

Great Bustards are still vulnerable to agricultural intensification, power line collision, and other human-induced landscape changes. Their world population is estimated to be between 44,000 and 57,000 individuals, showing a stable demographic trend at present in the Iberian peninsula, its main stronghold, but uncertain trends in Russia and China, and alarming declines in Iran and Morocco, where it will go extinct if urgent protection measures are not taken immediately. Our knowledge of the behaviour and ecology of this species has increased considerably over the last three decades, allowing us to control the major threats and secure its conservation in an appropriately managed cereal farmland. This species became ‘The Bird of the Year’ in Hungary in 2014.

Except from the…

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Bush regime relic Bolton wants war on Iran


John Bolton cartoon

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

John Bolton’s call for war on Iran

27 March 2015

The New York Times Thursday published a prominent opinion piece entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

This video from the USA is about (failed) Unites States Republican presidential election candidate John McCain singing ‘Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran‘.

The author was John R. Bolton, a former State Department official and, for a brief period, US ambassador to the United Nations, under the administration of George W. Bush. He became an influential figure in the administration after serving as a lawyer in the Bush campaign’s successful operation to steal the 2000 election by stopping the vote count in Florida.

Bolton, it must be said, has been calling for an immediate military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities—by either Israel or the US, or both—for at least the last seven years. On each occasion, he has warned darkly that unless his prescription for intensive bombing followed by “regime change” was adopted within days, the world would face the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack.

Thursday’s column was no different. “President Obama’s approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe,” Bolton writes. He is referring to the attempt by Washington, together with the other member nations of the UN Security Council plus Germany, to negotiate restrictions on a nuclear program that Iran insists is strictly for civilian purposes in return for easing punishing economic sanctions.

“Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident,” according to Bolton. Despite the lack of “palpable proof,” Bolton insists that Iran’s unwillingness to “negotiate away its nuclear program” and the inability of sanctions to “block its building of a broad and deep weapons infrastructure” constitute an “inescapable conclusion.”

Bolton, who has made an entire career of suppressing “inconvenient truths,” allows that he would prefer an all-out US bombing campaign, but would accept a US-backed attack by Israel.

“The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary,” he writes. He adds that this military onslaught must be combined with US efforts “aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

What is involved here is an open appeal for the launching of a war of criminal aggression and incitement of mass murder. The unbridled militarism expressed in Bolton’s column would not be out of place in the writings of Hitler’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, the first to hang at Nuremberg after his conviction on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in organizing the Nazi regime’s wars of aggression.

The question arises, why has he been given a forum in the editorial pages of the New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record and erstwhile voice of American liberalism?

The obvious answer is that any differences the Times editorial board—or for that matter the Obama administration—have with Bolton over Iran are of an entirely tactical character. All of them stand by the principle that US imperialism has the unique right to carry out unprovoked “preemptive” war anywhere on the planet where it perceives a potential challenge to its interests.

Not so long ago, Bolton, who personifies this arrogant and criminal policy, and the Times were on the same page politically and on essentially the very same lines he presents in his latest column on Iran.

In 2002, Bolton was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and a point man in the Bush administration’s campaign to prepare a war of aggression against Iraq based upon the lies that Saddam Hussein was developing “weapons of mass destruction” and preparing to hand them over to Al Qaeda.

Bolton, described by one of his former colleagues at the State Department as “the quintessential kiss up, kick down kind of guy,” had been an advocate of aggression against Iraq at least since 1998, when he joined other right-wingers in signing an “Open letter to the president” demanding such a war.

In the run-up to war, he played a central role in manufacturing phony evidence of the existence of Iraqi WMD. This included the promotion of the crude forgeries indicating that Iraq was seeking to procure yellowcake (concentrated uranium) from Niger.

During this same period, the Times provided invaluable assistance to this propaganda campaign. Its senior correspondent Judith Miller was working in alliance with administration officials and right-wing think tanks to confirm and embellish upon the lies about WMD. Thomas Friedman, the paper’s chief foreign affairs columnist, was churning out column after column justifying what he readily acknowledged was a “war of choice” against Iraq, justifying it in the name of democracy, human rights and oil.

As the reputed newspaper “of record,” the Times set the tone for the rest of the corporate media, which together worked to overcome popular opposition to a war in the Middle East.

The results are well known. The war claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis, devastated an entire society and threw the whole region into chaos. In the process, some 4,500 US troops lost their lives, tens of thousands more were maimed and wounded and some $2 trillion was expended. A dozen years later, the Obama administration has launched a new war in Iraq, supposedly to halt the advance of ISIS, a force that it effectively backed in the war for regime change in Syria.

No one has ever been held accountable for these war crimes; not Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton and others who conspired to drag the American people into a war of aggression based upon lies. And not the editors of the Times who produced the propaganda that facilitated their conspiracy.

On the other hand, those who oppose war—from Private Chelsea Manning, who exposed war crimes in Iraq, to Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was sickened by the atrocities carried out against the people of Afghanistan—are submitted to a media lynching and then given the full measure of “military justice.”

In publishing Bolton’s column, the Times is making sure that it burns no bridges to the most right-wing and sociopathic layers of the American ruling establishment. While it may differ with them now over an imminent bombing of Iran, future US wars—including against Russia or China, where the propaganda mills of the Times are grinding once again—will undoubtedly bring them back into sync.

Iran-Iraq war saving Persian leopards


This video says about itself:

The Journey into wild Iran (English)

6 September 2013

Wildlife photographer returns to his native home Iran to document its little-known wilderness and extraordinary collection of plants and animals — from wild donkeys to cheetahs, leopards, striped hyenas, golden eagles and giant lizards

From the New Zealand Herald:

Endangered leopards thriving in minefields

5:00 AM Monday Dec 29, 2014

For humans it probably ranks as one of the world’s most dangerous nature reserves, but the mine-strewn border between Iran and Iraq has become an unlikely sanctuary for one of the world’s most endangered species of leopard.

The legacy of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s has left up to 30 million landmines in the region, allowing the endangered Persian leopard to roam free from the threat of poachers. The munitions continue to kill and maim residents along the 1450km border, but in the mountainous Kurdistan region there are reports the Persian leopard, which rarely puts all its weight down on one paw, is too light to detonate the Soviet-era pressure-triggered landmines.

Conservation efforts in the region have floundered since the 1980s. But the unofficial leopard sanctuaries along the border now mean that conservation charities in the area are in the unusual position of planning to oppose new plans to remove landmines. “Environmentally speaking, mines are great because they keep people out,” Azzam Alwash, the head of Nature Iraq, told National Geographic.

Conservationists report that the danger of landmines is a far greater deterrent than law enforcement. Although the 80kg leopards are too light to set off anti-tank mines or less advanced anti-personnel mines, two of the animals died after setting off more advanced tripwire mines.

The animal is listed on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, with research showing that more than 70 were poisoned or illegally killed for their pelts from 2007 to 2011.

The Iran-Iraq border minefields are not the only conflict zone offering protection to wildlife. The demilitarised zone between North Korea and South Korea is also a haven for wildlife, while the Falkland Islands‘ penguin population has thrived in several large minefields laid during the brief 1982 Argentinian occupation.

Persian leopard

• Scientists now believe that fewer than 1000 wild Persian leopards remain.

• The natural habitat of the Persian leopard ranges from eastern Turkey to western Pakistan and includes vast tracts of the Caucasus and Russia.

• Most of the surviving leopards are to be found in Iran on the border with Iraq.

‘NATO has always been at war with Eurasia, err, Eastasia, err Iran, err …’


This video, based on the book 1984, is called 1984 – The War among Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.

First, a quote from the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell. The book is set in a fictional year 1984 (still in the future in 1948 when Orwell wrote the novel), in the dictatorial superstate Oceania (roughly, the USA plus Britain). Oceania is perpetually at war against another superstate; either Eurasia or Eastasia.

On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns — after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces — at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.

There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy. …

Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete. Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs — all had to be rectified at lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence anywhere.

Today, in 2014, Oceania does not exist. NATO and its member states come closest to it.

Eurasia and Eastasia do not exist. However, NATO states are close to being at war perpetually, including ‘Hate Week’ like propaganda in Rupert Murdoch’s and other corporate media.

Objects of ‘Oceania”s hate and war are often not big states, but states which are neither really big nor very small. States like, sometimes, Iran. Not that small; not that big; but lots of oil.

Minutes ago today, the BBC reported:

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague: Iran can play a positive role in the region

Foreign Secretary William Hague has said plans to re-open the British Embassy in Tehran are an “important step forward” in relations with Iran.

This about a country, where very recently it seemed like the British colony Diego Garcia might be a starting point for war on Iran.

Let us have a few looks at the history of Iran and Western countries.

This video from the USA is called 1953 Iran Coup – CIA Finally Admits Role.

In 1953, there was a democratically elected government in Iran. According to British and US oil tycoons, and the CIA, that democratically elected government ‘threatened the flow of oil to the free world‘. So, the CIA deposed the democratically elected government; replacing it with the dictatorial rule of a shah (emperor). Sixty years later, in 2013, the CIA at last admitted their role in that coup.

Who was that dictatorial emperor, helped to his throne by the CIA, Shah Reza Pahlavi?

He was an anti-Semite.

Shah of Iran interview, including his belief in a ‘Jewish conspiracy‘: here.

He had many oppositionists tortured and/or murdered by his secret police, the SAVAK.

He wanted nuclear plants for Iran.

Shah of Iran nuclear propaganda

He wanted nuclear weapons for Iran.

This video says about itself:

Interview with the late Shah of Iran (circa 1975-76) regarding the need for Iran to acquire Nuclear Weapons.

Finally, the Iranian people were sick of the shah’s dictatorship. In 1979, they overthrew it. Of the various oppositional factions, Shiite Islamic religious leaders came out on top.

Oil tycoons and the CIA hated the overthrow of their old ally the shah. They helped to start a war against the new regime in Iran. Not a war with US soldiers; a war with the soldiers of the dictator of neighbouring Iraq, Saddam Hussein.

Saddam Hussein was an ally. He had ‘always been an ally’ of ‘Oceania’.

In this video, Donald Rumsfeld, later George W Bush’s Secretary of War ‘Defense’ during the Iraq war, greets Saddam Hussein.

From the (Conservative) Daily Mail in Britain in 2003, just before the start of the Iraq war:

Rumsfeld ‘helped Iraq get chemical weapons

By WILLIAM LOWTHER

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped Saddam Hussein build up his arsenal of deadly chemical and biological weapons, it was revealed last night.

As an envoy from President Reagan 19 years ago, he had a secret meeting with the Iraqi dictator and arranged enormous military assistance for his war with Iran.

The CIA had already warned that Iraq was using chemical weapons almost daily. But Mr Rumsfeld, at the time a successful executive in the pharmaceutical industry, still made it possible for Saddam to buy supplies from American firms.

They included viruses such as anthrax and bubonic plague, according to the Washington Post.

The extraordinary details have come to light because thousands of State Department documents dealing with the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war have just been declassified and released under the Freedom of Information Act.

At the very least, it is highly embarrassing for 70-year-old Mr Rumsfeld, who is the most powerful and vocal of all the hawks surrounding President Bush.

He bitterly condemns Saddam as a ruthless and brutal monster and frequently backs up his words by citing the use of the very weapons which it now appears he helped to supply.

The question is: Why has he never said anything about his role in the negotiations?

Donald Rumsfeld has some explaining to do,’ a senior Pentagon official said last night, while Congressional sources said that a Senate Committee was considering opening hearings to investigate exactly what happened.

The documents could hardly have been released at a worse time for Mr Rumsfeld, who is building up troops in the Gulf in preparation for a war with Iraq that is generally expected to start in about a month.

They will also embarrass Tony Blair as he attempts to build international support for military action.

And they will cause a headache for the Foreign Office, because the news will be seen by Islamic countries as a prime example of American hypocrisy over the issue.

For years Middle Eastern countries have accused the US of double-talk over Iraq. They are bitterly critical that the American government helped arm Saddam during the 1980s in a war against Iran, which at that time Washington regarded as its biggest enemy in the region.

America’s critics are now disgusted by the way the administration has performed a somersault, and now expects them to agree that Saddam’s regime should be treated as a pariah.

This will make it even harder to persuade neighbouring states to offer Western troops bases and landing strips vital for such an onslaught.

But one thing was clear last night – President Bush will not let the embarrassment prevent him from forging ahead with his plans to attack Baghdad, and if that does happen Mr Blair will have no choice but to join him in the attack.

It was in late 1983 that Ronald Reagan made Mr Rumsfeld his envoy as the Iranians gained the upper hand in their war with Iraq.

Terrified that the Iranian Islamic revolution would spread through the Gulf and into Saudi Arabia – threatening US oil supplies – Mr Reagan sent Mr Rumsfeld to prop up Saddam and keep the Iranian militants within their own borders.

The State Department documents show that Mr Rumsfeld flew to Baghdad where he had a 90-minute meeting with Saddam followed by a much longer session with foreign minister Tariq Aziz.

‘It was a horrible mistake,’ former CIA military analyst Kenneth Pollack said last night.

‘We were warning at the time that Hussein was a very nasty character. We were constantly fighting the State Department.’

On November 1, 1983, a full month before Mr Rumsfeld’s visit to Baghdad, Secretary of State George Shultz was officially informed that the CIA had discovered Iraqi troops were resorting to ‘almost daily use of chemical weapons’ against the Iranians.

Nevertheless, Mr Rumsfeld arranged for the Iraqis to receive billions of pounds in loans to buy weapons and CIA Director William Casey used a Chilean front company to supply Iraq with cluster bombs.

According to the Washington Post, a Senate committee investigating the relationship between the US and Iraq discovered that in the mid-1980s – following the Rumsfeld visit – dozens of biological agents were shipped to Iraq under licence from the Commerce Department.

They included anthrax, subsequently identified by the Pentagon as a key component of the Iraqi biological warfare programme.

The newspaper says: ‘The Commerce Department also approved the export of insecticides to Iraq, despite widespread suspicions that they were being used for chemical warfare.’

At the time of his meeting with Saddam, Mr Rumsfeld was working for Searle – a company which dealt only in medicinal pharmaceuticals.

Both he and Searle made all their money from the distribution of a cardiovascular drug.

And no one in the US has ever suggested that Mr Rumsfeld had any personal interest at stake in the Iraq meetings.

The Defence Secretary was making no comment last night.

There was not just the Rumsfeld-Saddam scandal during the US Reagan administration. There was only the Iran/Contra scandal; in which the Reagan administration sold weapons to the regime in Iran (illegal under United States law), using the money to arm mercenaries of the overthrown Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua (also illegal under United States law).

And now, to a colleague of Rumsfeld in the Reagan administration and later in the George W Bush administration: Dick Cheney.

This video from the USA is called Cheney ’94: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire.

Dick Cheney’s corporation Halliburton sold Iran key nuclear reactor components, as turned out in 2005.

Like Rumsfeld’s selling of chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein later did not hinder Rumsfeld at starting a bloody war in Iraq, where meanwhile there were no chemical weapons any more; Cheney’s selling of nuclear components to Iran later did not hinder Cheney in advocating war on Iran, recently and while he was Bush’s Vice President. Iran, which was supposedly close to getting nuclear weapons (which Cheney’s own intelligence services denied.)

Not so long ago, hardliners in the government of Israel, proxies of hardliners in Washington, had plans to start a war against Iran; though most Israeli people and quite some generals in Israel opposed that.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (not her real name, but that is another long story), neoconservative Islamophobic pro-war ideologist, said, when interviewed on Dutch TV in 2008, that George W Bush had invaded Iraq. OK. He had invaded Afghanistan. OK. But Ms Hirsi Ali said she was not really ready to call George W Bush a good president of the USA as long as he had not invaded Iran yet.

What will Ms Hirsi Ali say now: ‘Iran is an ally. Iran has always been an ally’? I would not be that surprised.

James Stravidis, former Supreme Commander of NATO, says it is time to cooperate with Iran to achieve US interests in the Middle East: here.

“Nearly 300 armed American forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to help secure U.S. assets as President Barack Obama nears a decision on an array of options for combating fast-moving Islamic insurgents, including airstrikes or a contingent of special forces.” John Kerry has said the U.S. is open to discussions with Iran and considering drone strikes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Washington was willing to talk to Iran about collaborating to beat back a Sunni insurgency led by the Al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has already gained control of most of Iraq’s Sunni regions in northern and central Iraq and is threatening Baghdad: here.

KERRY: IRAN FIGHTING ISIS ‘POSITIVE’ “The U.S. would be happy to have Iran’s help in fighting the Islamic State, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday in response to the news, first broken by The Huffington Post Monday night, that the U.S. has been aware of Iranian airstrikes in Iraq since at least last week. ‘I think it’s self-evident that if Iran is taking on ISIL in some particular place and it’s confined to taking on ISIL and it has an impact, it’s going to be –- the net effect is positive,’ Kerry … said. He emphasized that the U.S. was not cooperating with Iran, which is a top regional rival for most U.S. Middle Eastern allies and has not had diplomatic relations with Washington since 1979.” [HuffPost]

They may deny it but behind the scenes the West and Iran are co-operating: here.

Amid US talks with Iran, France debates rapprochement with Syria’s Assad: here.

The threat to Iraq’s unity from a rapid Islamist advance is another disastrous consequence of the 2003 invasion, writes ANDREW MURRAY: here.

How US policy on Iran came to be based on fabricated documents: here.

DEPUTY Oil Minister for International and Trade Affairs Ali Majedi has voiced Iran’s readiness to speedily replace Iraq oil in the world market if Baghdad was forced to stop its exports due to its security crisis. Making this attempt to curry favour with the USA he told IRNA on Saturday that Iran could replace Iraq oil in the world market in a short time: here.

US President Barack Obama has indicated that he favors extending the six-month interim nuclear agreement the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China entered into with Iran at the beginning of the year: here.

The former supreme commander of NATO argued that now is the time to step up talks with Iran.

The ongoing battle with ISIS has put Iran and the U.S. on the same side.

That time Ronald Reagan opened Iran and illegally sold Khomeini weapons: here.

Greek nazi bites off Iranian refugee’s ear


Iranian refugee with ear bitten off

From Dawn of the Greeks blog:

Iranian man describes how ear was bitten off in racist attack in Athens

Posted on January 10, 2014 by dawnofthegreeks

Young Iranian migrant who had his ear bitten off in a suspected racist attack says the experience shows him that there is ‘no culture, no love’ in Europe

A young migrant from Iran who says he was the target of a racist attack about two months ago in central Athens has described how one of his assailants bit his ear off. In a recorded video interview with a international humanitarian aid organisation, the man, who identifies himself as Shaid, said that he was set on by three men dressed in black

the colour of the uniforms of the paramilitary thugs of the nazi party Golden Dawn

as he was speaking on the phone near Metaxourgiou Square.

“They beat me. After one of them put his hand around my neck and got me in a headlock, he bit his teeth into my ear. I was bleeding and my ear fell to the ground,” he said in a recorded video interview with Médecins du Monde.

Shaid initially was not aware of what had been done to him. He was spotted by a friend, who came to his rescue and took him – and his severed ear – to hospital, where attempts to reattach the ear failed and doctors had to remove it. After he was discharged from hospital two weeks later, he approached Médecins du Monde, which has helped him come to terms with what has happened. “All I can say to immigrants who leave their county is that things might be better for them at home. I see no civilisation in Europe. No culture, no love,” he said.

source: enetenglish

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Dutch birds’ Iranian DNA research


This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

Our bird feeder in South Holland, The Netherlands. Birds of the Netherlands! You can see high resolution photographs and HD video of these mostly typical, but beautiful Dutch bird types:

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Grote bonte specht), Eurasian Jay (Vlaamse Gaai), Blue Tit (Pimpelmees), Great Tit (Koolmees), House Sparrow (Huismus), Common Blackbird (Merel), Ring-Rosed Parakeet (Halsbandparkiet), European Robin (Roodborst), Magpie (Ekster) and the Common Starling (Spreeuw).

Bird Resources in The Netherlands —

For getting the Dutch name of birds in English…

Top 50 Most Common Birds of The Netherlands – Top 50 meest voorkomende vogels in Nederland:

http://www.vogelvisie.nl/top50.php

List of birds of the Netherlands: here.

From ScienceDaily:

DNA Barcodes Made of 147 Bird Species from The Netherlands

Dec. 30, 2013 — DNA barcoding is used as an effective tool for both the identification of known species and the discovery of new ones. The core idea of DNA barcoding is based on the fact that just a small portion of a single gene already can show that there is less variation between the individuals of one species than between those of several species.

Thus, when comparing two barcode sequences one can establish whether these belong to one single species (viz. when the amount of variation falls within the ‘normal’ range of the taxon under consideration and below a certain threshold level) or possibly to two species (when the amount exceeds this level).

A recent study in the open access journal ZooKeys sequenced 388 individuals of 147 bird species from The Netherlands. 95% of these species were represented by a unique barcode, but with six species of gulls and skuas having at least one shared barcode. This is best explained by these species representing recent radiations with ongoing hybridization. In contrast, one species, the Western Lesser Whitethroat showed deep divergences between individuals, suggesting that they possibly represent two distinct taxa, the Western and the Northeastern Lesser Whitethroat.

Our study adds to a growing body of DNA barcodes that have become available for birds, and shows that a DNA barcoding approach enables to identify known Dutch bird species with a very high resolution. In addition, some species were flagged up for further detailed taxonomic investigation, illustrating that even in ornithologically well-known areas such as the Netherlands, more is to be learned about the birds that are present.

“The barcoding approach is particularly useful in musea,” comments Dr. Aliabadian, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran, “This illustrates the value of DNA tissue vouchers ‘ready for use’ from the bird collection of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden.”