Snow leopard on camera in Kyrgyzstan

This video is called (1/6) Snow Leopard of Pakistan – Beyond the Myth.

From BirdLife:

First snow leopard caught on NABU camera in Kyrgyzstan

Tue, Sep 3, 2013

A stately snow leopard has been caught on one of the 18 cameras recently set up by NABU (BirdLife in Germany) in the Tian Shan mountains, in Kyrgyzstan, one of the species’ last refuges. Nobody knows exactly how many of these endangered cats still live in the wilderness, but experts estimate that there are about 4,080 to 6,590 snow leopards that roam across an enormous area of 2 million square kilometres in Central Asia.

In the mid-1980s, between 1,200 and 1,400 animals still lived in Kyrgyzstan, at that time a large part of the world’s snow leopard population. Today, however, there are only approximately 200 to 300.“Even though there are laws to protect the snow leopard, many animals still fall victim to poachers”, NABU vice-president Thomas Tennhardt said. NABU has been committed to the protection of snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan since the early 1990s. “The cameras will help us observe snow leopards in the wild and to track the animals. In the long run, this will allow us to provide a more precise estimate of their overall population size”, Tennhardt explained.

Sharing knowledge and strengthening the conservation of the snow leopard will play a central role during the first Global Snow Leopard Forum in October. Initiated by NABU, this international conference will hopefully contribute to saving the species from extinction. At the invitation of Kyrgyz president Almasbek Atambajew, representatives of all twelve states to which the snow leopard is native, will come together for the first time. “The aim is to exchange experiences in the protection of snow leopards and to agree on an international, binding conservation plan”, Tennhardt said.

For more information: please contact Boris Tichomirow, Head of Central Asia programs at NABU.

Once a trophy hunting concession, now a snow leopard sanctuary. Snow leopards are showing up on camera traps in places they’d never been seen before – thanks to an innovative programme in Kyrgyzstan: here.

One Boston teenage terrorist, and everyone’s civil liberties

This video is called Syria War: Rebels Joined By Chechnya Islamic Militants In ‘Jihad’ Against Assad.

After uncertainty who had committed the Boston bomb atrocity, attention is now focused on one suspect: critically wounded nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a United States citizen. He is called Chechen. But it seems he never was in Chechnya, a republic within the Russian federation. He spent the last, most recent, half of his life in the USA. And the first half, it seems, in the Russian federation republic of Dagestan, and in the independent former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. It also seems that the Tsarnaev family is not only of Chechen, but also of Avar ancestry.

From ABC News in the USA:

Czech Republic Ambassador: Don’t Confuse Us With Chechnya

Apr 20, 2013 9:18am

The Czech Republic and Chechnya are nearly 2,000 miles apart, but that didn’t stop people from mixing up their geography.

The Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers, are of Chechen ethnicity. When the similar sounding Czech Republic, a country in Central Europe, began getting buzz online, the country’s ambassador to the United States stepped in to clear up the social media confusion.

“The Czech Republic is trending because idiots are confusing it with Chechnya. If you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry, cry,” Chris Jones, a writer for Esquire and back-page columnist for ESPN The Magazine tweeted.

This reminds me of at least two things. First, people now attacking Czechs for the horrible Boston bombing are of course idiots. But one should also not attack Chechens in general for criminal acts, it seems, of only two people who apparently never lived in Chechnya.

The other thing these idiots now attacking Czechs remind me of is Islamophobes in the USA (and elsewhere). The impact of hysteria and violence against Muslims (overwhelmingly Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism) was and is not limited to Muslims. It also hurts people who are not Muslims at all. But who are “Muslims” in the eyes of “idiots” (to quote the ABC article on anti-Czech hysteria). People like Sikhs, or Hindus.

Some background on the Chechen issue. Chechens had and have legitimate grievances against Russian czars, who conquered Chechnya in the nineteenth century, and against later Soviet and Russian governments. These grievances have been abused. During Hitler’s 1941-1945 war against the Soviet Union, the nazis tried to steer Chechens in the direction of extreme nationalism, violence and fanatical forms of Islam. Soon after that, during the Cold War, the CIA and other Western secret services tried to steer Chechens in the direction of extreme nationalism, violence and fanatical forms of Islam. Like they also did in Afghanistan.

Very recently, Chechen “Jihadi” fighters were allies of NATO countries in the war in Libya. At the moment, they are allies of NATO countries in the war in Syria.

By Alex Lantier and Kate Randall in the USA:

Bombing suspect captured after military-police lockdown of Boston

20 April 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in Monday’s bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, was captured yesterday after a massive manhunt by law enforcement agencies. Thousands of National Guard troops, FBI and other federal agents, and state and local police placed Boston in an unprecedented lockdown yesterday, after Dzhokhar, 19, and his brother Tamerlan, 26, engaged in a firefight with police.

In the space of a few hours, a major American city was transformed into a virtual armed camp and placed under the equivalent of martial law. The massive scale of the military and police mobilization—replete with Blackhawk helicopters, armored vehicles with machine guns, and SWAT teams pointing automatic weapons—seemed vastly disproportionate to the threat posed by one teenage youth.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, issued a “shelter in place” order early Friday, shut down Boston’s mass transit, and recommended that businesses close. According to the “shelter in place” order, Boston residents had to stay inside with their doors locked and not open them to anyone but a properly identified police officer. The order was progressively extended over some 100 square miles of the Boston metropolitan area, covering approximately 1 million people.

Heavily-armed forces swarmed the city’s empty streets. Local reporters compared the scene to videos of US-occupied Baghdad.

Particularly in Watertown, police went house to house, carrying out searches with assault rifles drawn. The New York Times commented, “Watertown found itself an odd combination of ghost town and police state on Friday morning.”

Bus service between New York and Boston was shut down, and Amtrak train service north of New York City was halted. Taxis were ordered off the streets during the morning hours. The Boston Bruins hockey and Red Sox baseball games were cancelled.

Area universities—including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Suffolk University, Boston College and University of Massachusetts-Boston—were closed. UMass-Dartmouth, where the younger bombing suspect was a student, was shut down and evacuated, with some students with nowhere to go housed at the local high school. Area public schools were already closed for vacation.

Late Thursday afternoon, police had released videos from security cameras showing the suspects leaving bags near the scene of the bombing. According to the authorities, the Tsarnaev brothers carjacked a Mercedes sports utility vehicle later Thursday night, and police pursued them to the northwest Boston suburb of Watertown. Tamerlan was mortally wounded in a firefight with police, during which he reportedly hurled explosives, and died at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital at 1:35 AM Friday. Dzhokhar fled the scene of the shoot-out.

According to early media reports, police had identified the Tsarnaev brothers as suspects after video emerged of a robbery at a convenience store at 10 PM Thursday. Shortly afterwards, a campus security officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sean Collier, was found dead, shot in his police cruiser. A mass transit security officer was also shot and seriously wounded.

In a video interview with Russia Today, the brothers’ mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, said she believed her sons had been “set up.” She claimed that the FBI had “controlled” her son Tamerlan over a period of three to five years, monitoring his Internet use and repeatedly visiting their house to question him.

Late yesterday evening, the FBI confirmed that it had interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 at the request of an unidentified foreign government.

Bostonians had been told the “shelter in place” order was necessary because they had at all costs to avoid Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was described as “armed and dangerous.” At 6 PM yesterday, however, Patrick suddenly lifted the “shelter in place” order at a press conference attended by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts Police Colonel Timothy Alben, although they had not apprehended Tsarnaev or any other suspect. They did not explain why they considered the streets to be safer after their press conference than before.

Alben also contradicted earlier reports that the Tsarnaev brothers had carried out the armed robbery at the convenience store.

Shortly after the lifting of the order, however, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding under a tarp in a boat in the backyard of a private home in Watertown, covered in blood. Tactical police forces were called in, set up a perimeter, and fired a series of shots at Tsarnaev before taking him into custody and placing him in an ambulance. He is reportedly in critical condition.

Later in the evening, television outlets showed large numbers of people leaving their homes in relief and celebrating in the streets of Boston.

In carrying out this extraordinary and sinister police state exercise, the Obama administration, the military, the police and state and local officials relied on the media to create a climate of fear and anxiety so as to discourage careful consideration by the public of its long-term implications.

Notwithstanding the horrific character of the crimes involved in the Boston bombings, these implications are very real. The staggering police-military mobilization was clearly the result of years of planning and coordination between various military, intelligence and police agencies that have been relentlessly built up in the decade since the 9/11 attacks. It is now clear that, based purely on their say-so, a major American city can be placed under what would have been called, in a Latin American military dictatorship, a state of siege.

The events in Boston have lifted the veil on the degree to which, behind an eroding veneer of democracy, American society has been thoroughly militarized.

A Twitter message by Ingeborg Senneset from Norway:

Post July 22nd, Norway gave Breivik a good lawyer, a fair trial and human punishment. He took 77 lives, but we kept our dignity.

Boston Marathon suspect may never be able to be questioned, mayor says. Surviving suspect’s injuries prevent him from communicating as FBI faces scrutiny over contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011: here.

Unanswered questions in Boston bombings: here.

5 of the worst reactions to the Boston manhunt, starring Ann Coulter, and Sen. Chuck Grassley: here.

Too early to jump to conclusions over Boston terror bombing: here.

Information coming to light about the background of the Boston Marathon bombings raises many questions about the relationship of US intelligence agencies to the alleged bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: here.

New Kyrgyz president wants US base out


From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

President-elect: US base puts our country at risk

Tuesday 01 November 2011

by Our Foreign Desk

Kyrgyzstan‘s president-elect Almazbek Atambayev declared today that the US must close its military air base in the country by 2014 because its presence on Kyrgyz soil undermines national security.

Social Democrat Atambayev, who won over 60 per cent of Sunday’s vote, said: “We know that the United States is often engaged in conflict. First in Iraq, then in Afghanistan and now relations are tense with Iran.

“I would not want one of these countries to launch a retaliatory strike on the military base.”

Mr Atambayev added that his administration will honour a contract allowing the US lease of the base at Manas, a key logistical hub for the occupation in Afghanistan, until mid-2014.

Local residents and politicians have long called for the closure of the base, asserting that fuel dumps by US war planes devastate crops and cause illnesses.

Russia also has a military base in the former Soviet country.

Mr Atambayev, whose recent overtures to Moscow indicate he will continue the previous administration’s policy of cultivating friendly ties with the Kremlin, did not say anything about that base.

Kyrgyzstan‘s economic fortunes are inextricably linked with Russia, where around 500,000 Kyrgyz migrant workers reside.

Outgoing Social-Democratic President Roza Otunbayeva, who has been running the country since April 2010 when former authoritarian leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in a popular uprising, will step down shortly.

US oil and corruption in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan


This video from the USA from March 27, 2010, is called Kyrgyzstan Unveils New U.S. Military Base Plan.

From The Nation in the USA:

Fueling the Afghan War

By Aram Roston

This article appeared in the May 10, 2010 edition of The Nation.

April 21, 2010

Research support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

In Napoleon Bonaparte’s day an army may have marched on its belly, as the French emperor famously quipped, but the modern-day American military campaign in Afghanistan needs not just food but also fuel. Diesel for the MRAPs and Humvees, aviation fuel for the planes and helicopters–that’s the fodder for the military surge under way in Afghanistan. Fuel is precious there–they call it liquid gold–and the effort to keep it flowing has created an array of bizarre monopolies, strange alliances and allegations of corruption entangling the US government.

This is the story of two interlinked and secretive offshore companies run by a former Army intelligence officer. The firms run a specialized monopoly of massive proportions. Their niche: supplying aviation fuel for US military operations in Afghanistan–enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools each and every day of the year.

The companies’ names are Red Star Enterprises and Mina Corp. In Afghanistan, Red Star Enterprises has a sole source contract worth more than $1 billion, won without competition, to deliver fuel to Bagram Air Base, that central hub of the war effort. The Nation has obtained an unusual “memorandum of agreement” between Red Star and the US military authorities, giving the firm exclusive ownership of a fuel pipeline that feeds directly into the base.

Similarly, in nearby Kyrgyzstan, a staging ground for the Afghan war, Mina has another sole source contract, awarded without any announcement, to provide fuel to a huge and controversial base. The contract has been at the center of corruption and kickback allegations, and the companies have been accused of enriching the families of two successive heads of state, both of whom presided over kleptocratic and repressive regimes–an arrangement that fostered great resentment in the country. Violence exploded on the streets in early April, leaving eighty protesters dead, and President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was forced to flee.

The new, provisional government sees Red Star and Mina in a very specific light. The chief of staff, Edil Baisalov, tells The Nation that the firms have served as “an indirect way for the Pentagon to bribe the ruling families of Kyrgyzstan.” (These allegations are the subject of a Congressional hearing tomorrow, convened by the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs.)

Baisalov’s charge is a serious one but not new, nor as outlandish as it may seem, although the companies deny it. The eight-year saga of high-stakes contracts and secretive deals raises serious questions about how the Afghan campaign has been run, not only by the Bush administration but also under President Barack Obama. Sole source contracts have continued under the current administration, and if the Kyrgyz authorities are correct, the Pentagon contractors are still doing what they did under Bush. After all, the thirst for oil and fuel can only grow as President Obama’s Afghan surge ramps up.

The man in charge of Red Star’s and Mina’s operations is a good-natured retired Army lieutenant colonel named Chuck Squires, now 56 years old.

Russia, China, Iran defeat U.S. in the “pipeline wars”. While the West kills thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan and ravages both countries, Russia, China and Iran are acquiring the crucial energy riches of Central Asia and the Caspian area without firing a shot: here.

Around 100,000 minority Uzbeks fleeing a pogrom allegedly insitigated by supporters of Kyrgyzstan’s ousted premier have massed at the country’s border: here.

Kyrgyzstan’s security agency claimed on Thursday that relatives of toppled president Kurmanbek Bakiyev colluded with the Taliban and other armed Islamist groups to provoke the sectarian violence that has destabilised the former Soviet republic.

An oil company ultimately owned by Russian state firm Gazprom will soon start supplying a fifth of the jet fuel needed by a US air base in Kyrgyzstan: here.

Protesters clashed with police and tried to break into Kyrgyzstan’s parliament and government offices yesterday during a rally in the capital Bishek to demand the nationalisation of the Kumtor gold mine: here.

Fall of Kyrgyz dictator upsets Georgian colleague

This video says about itself:

Maksim Bakiyev – most wanted in Kyrgyzstan

Maksim Bakiyev is the second son of the former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. He was born in 1977.

From the Georgian International Media Center:

Ouster of Kyrgyz autocrat appears to have upset Saakashvili

April 9, 2010 by georgiamedia

Mikheil Saakashvili appears to believe that the events in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, where a popular uprising following the detention of opposition politicians has seen autocratic president Kurmanbek Bakiyev flee the city, were being manipulated by Russia.

Bakiyev came to power through the so-called “Tulip Revolution” in 2005: a so-called “colour revolution” that was at least partly engineered through Georgian help, with Givi Targamadze, an MP from Georgia‘s ruling party, on hand to offer advice to the revolutionaries.

Saakashvili’s chief spindoctor, Manana Manjgaladze, yesterday, reports, said: “Despite denials, according to the information available for us, it is absolutely obvious that Russia is roughly interfering with Kyrgyzstan‘s internal affairs and is trying to play geopolitical games at the expense of the Kyrgyz people.”

Reports from Kyrgyzstan remain confused and it is not clear if the provisional government formed in Bishkek – under former foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva – has any real power beyond the city.

Barack Obama’s administration have rejected the idea that Otunbayeva is a Russian stooge, however: “The people that are allegedly running Kyrgyzstan – and I’m emphasising that word because it’s not clear exactly who’s in charge right now – these are all people we’ve had contact with for many years. This is not some anti-American coup. That we know for sure. And this is not a sponsored-by-the-Russian coup. I’ve heard some reports of that. There’s just no evidence of that as yet,” said White House advisor Michael McFaul.

The revolt came after unpopular price rises were matched by the seizure of opposition, social democratic, activists.

Kyrgyzstan‘s new government has confirmed that it will renationalise strategically important firms and cancel deeply unpopular utility rate increases.

Kyrgyzstan’s interim government hosted a state funeral today to commemorate those killed in protests earlier this week: here.