Catalan Moroccans commemorate Barcelona attack victims


Ripoll town Moroccans commemorate Barcelona attack victims

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Moroccan community of Ripoll silent to commemorate victims

Yesterday, 22:09

Ripoll, a small sleepy Spanish town with 11,000 inhabitants, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Everyone knows each other, at least faces. No one from the town expected seven of the at least eight suspects involved in the Barcelona attack to be from Ripoll.

The Moroccan community in Ripoll wanted to show tonight that they do not support the actions of the Moroccan boys. With about fifty people, a minute’s silence was held on a square in the city. The Moroccan Spaniards stood with signs in their hands that said “Not in my name”.

The mothers and aunts of the suspects also stood there. “They said they went on holiday,” they told. “We received some SMS from them until Thursday.” With this action, they hoped to show everyone that the attack was not committed by their sons as they used to know them.

Also, 22-year-old Hamza, who was at school with some of the boys and played with them, never expected this. “They were very normal, always together, ate together,” he says. “They were boys who did everything together, friends for life.” Hamza can still not imagine they were killed. “We were together at school, they are young people.”

The Spanish government is preparing a massive deployment of police and security forces, even as questions rise about how last week’s horrific terror attack in Barcelona was allowed to proceed. As evidence emerges that the terror cell was well known to intelligence services, Madrid is both downplaying the investigation and demanding more police-state measures: here.

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CIA tried to use ex-Guantanamo prisoners as spies


Guantanamo Bay

Here, another old blog post by me which I thought was lost.

CIA tried to use ex-Guantanamo prisoners as spies

30 June 2005

Mood: Thinking Playing: War, by Edwin Starr

Dutch TV program NOVA of today is about an attempt by the United States CIA to use ex-prisoners of Guantanamo Bay camp as spies in The Netherlands and other countries.

They tried with five men of Moroccan ancestry. NOVA interviewed three of them.

Two of them declared that the CIA promised them the right to stay in The Netherlands.

Their lawyer, Mr Mohamed Hilal, said that for that they were supposed to spy within the Moroccan Dutch community.

Experts say the story of these three Moroccans is credible.

The five Moroccans were imprisoned in August 2001 in Afghanistan. Then, they went to Guantanamo Bay camp.

Last August, they were released without charges and sent to Morocco.

In NOVA, Mohamed Ouzar, Mohamed Mazouz, and Brahim Benchekroun said that the CIA in Guantanamo offered them to spy in five countries, including The Netherlands, Canada, and Switzerland.

There was heavy pressure on them not to return to Morocco. The CIA said they’d probably be tortured there.

In spite of the bad circumstances in Guantanamo, where prisoners were isolated in their cells and one said he had been ill most of the time, the prisoners refused the offers; as they said, they had committed no crimes and owed their captors nothing.

A Moroccan court released them after their return to Morocco.

NOVA showed the report on the three Moroccans to Martin Dillon. He wrote much on British intelligence in Northern Ireland.

Today, this intelligence expert studies mainly the CIA. Dillon says the ex-prisoners’ testimony fits into US tactics in Guantanamo Bay.

Also Dutch intelligence expert Wil van der Schans says the ex-prisoners’ story is credible. He suspects Dutch secret service AIVD were also implicated in this case.

‘Oldest human fossils discovered in Morocco’


This video says about itself:

2 June 2017

Caption: Composite reconstruction of the earliest known Homo sapiens fossils from Jebel Irhoud (Morocco) based on micro computed tomographic scans of multiple original fossils. Dated to 300 thousand years ago these early Homo sapiens already have a modern-looking face that falls within the variation of humans living today. However, the archaic-looking virtual imprint of the braincase (blue) indicates that brain shape, and possibly brain function, evolved within the Homo sapiens lineage.

Credit: Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig

From the University of California – Davis in the USA:

Moroccan fossils show human ancestors’ diet of game

June 7, 2017

Summary: New fossil finds from Morocco do more than push back the origins of our species by 100,000 years. They also reveal what was on the menu for our oldest-known Homo sapiens ancestors 300,000 years ago: Plenty of gazelle.

New fossil finds from the Jebel Irhoud archaeological site in Morocco do more than push back the origins of our species by 100,000 years. They also reveal what was on the menu for our oldest-known Homo sapiens ancestors 300,000 years ago:

Plenty of gazelle meat, with the occasional wildebeest, zebra and other game and perhaps the seasonal ostrich egg, says Teresa Steele, a paleoanthropologist at the University of California, Davis, who analyzed animal fossils at Jebel Irhoud.

Steele, who studies how food sources and environmental change influenced human evolution and migration, was part of the international research team that began excavating at the site in 2004. She is the co-author of one of two papers featured on the cover of the June 8 issue of Nature: “Human origins: Moroccan remains push back date for the emergence of Homo sapiens.”

Jebel Irhoud has been well known since the 1960s for its human fossils and for its Middle Stone Age artifacts, but the geological age of those fossils was uncertain.

The new excavation project — led by Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and Abdelouahed Ben-Ncer of the National Institute for Archaeology and Heritage (INSAP) in Rabat, Morocco — uncovered 16 new Homo sapiens fossils along with stone tools and animal bones. The remains comprise skulls, teeth, and long bones of at least 5 individuals.

Thermoluminescence dating of heated flints yielded an age of approximately 300,000 years ago — 100,000 years earlier than the previously oldest Homo sapiens fossils.

Analysis of the animal fossils provided additional evidence to support the date. Dating of rodent remains suggested they were 337,000 to 374,000 years old.

Gazelle Bones Common

Steele sifted through hundreds of fossil bones and shells, identifying 472 of them to species as well as recording cut marks and breaks indicating which ones had been food for humans.

Most of the animal bones came from gazelles. Among the other remains, Steele also identified hartebeests, wildebeests, zebras, buffalos, porcupines, hares, tortoises, freshwater molluscs, snakes and ostrich egg shells.

Small game was a small percentage of the remains. “It really seemed like people were fond of hunting,” she said.

Cuts and breaks on long bones indicate that humans broke them open, likely to eat the marrow, she said. Leopard, hyena and other predators’ fossils were among the finds, but Steele found little evidence that the nonhuman predators had gnawed on the gazelle and other prey.

Steele said the findings support the idea that Middle Stone Age began just over 300,000 years ago, and that important changes in modern human biology and behaviour were taking place across most of Africa then.

“In my view, what it does is to continue to make it more feasible that North Africa had a role to play in the evolution of modern humans.”

See also here.

Spanish plants, new discoveries


This video says about itself:

Clovenlip toadflax (Linaria maroccana) – 2016-09-15

Linaria maroccana is a species of flowering plant in the plantain family known by the common name clovenlip toadflax. It is native to Morocco, but it can be found elsewhere as an introduced species and it is cultivated as an ornamental plant.

From Plataforma SINC in Spain:

Spanish plant misclassified for 176 years

June 1, 2017

Summary: Surprisingly, there are still plant species waiting to be discovered in the Iberian Peninsula. Some are detected thanks to the latest study methods, and others, such as Linaria becerrae, are described when reinterpreting species which are already known. This new Málaga plant had been classified by mistake for 176 years.

Surprisingly, there are still plant species waiting to be discovered in the Iberian Peninsula. Some are detected thanks to the latest study methods, and others, such as Linaria becerrae, are described when reinterpreting species which are already known. This new Málaga plant had been classified by mistake for 176 years.

The genus Linaria has about 150 species distributed throughout Europe, North Africa, and central and western Asia, but its main centre of diversity is in the Iberian Peninsula and the Maghreb. It is there that exclusive plants are found, discovered during the last two centuries, with very small distribution areas, sometimes threatened with extinction.

In Spain, in 1841, the Swiss botanist Pierre Edmond Boissier described the species Linaria salzmanii, which was named in honour of the botanist Philipp Salzmann who contributed to the knowledge of Iberian flora. Thanks to the material from Güéjar Sierra in Granada that Boissier analysed, it was determined that the plant was typical of sandy substrates, often dolomitic (rocky), and was found in the provinces of Granada, Málaga and Jaén.

But, in his visit to our country in 1837, the scientist never actually came to check the presence of the species near the town of El Chorro, in the western part of the province of Malaga, due to the likely existence of bandits. This has led to an error that lasted for almost two centuries.

Scientists from the universities of Granada and Almería have now carried out an exhaustive analysis of the populations of this species, and have observed that the plants found in Málaga differ significantly from those found in Granada: they have flowers with a long and straight spur, which are uniform in colour and intensely violet, except for a yellow spot at the entrance to the tube of the corolla (the area called the palate), with subtle violet veins.

“These and other considerations led our team to the description of the new species, Linaria becerrae. By mistake, it had previously been considered that the species described by Boissier was that of Málaga,” explains Gabriel Gabrielto, one of the authors of the study published in Phytotaxa and a researcher at the University of Granada.

The plant has been named in honour of the botanist from Málaga, Manuel Becerra Parra, who had already recorded the differences between the Linaria species in the province of Malaga, and promoted this work.

A plant in need of protection

At present, the original population of Linaria salzmanii has disappeared due to the construction of the Canales dam, and Linaria becerrae is now considered exclusive of the west of the province of Málaga, where it lives in areas bordering the protected natural area of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, a well-known tourist site. The species forms communities of rapidly developing grasses in sandy substrates resulting from the decomposition of molasses (conglomerates and detrital sandstones).

“Although it is frequent in this area, the reach of this type of substrates is very small, so it should be part of the catalogue of protected species,” suggests Blanca, for whom there are still species to be discovered not only by misinterpretations as in the case of this Málaga plant, but also for the detection of new organisms thanks to resolute methods of study.

In fact, with the application of molecular biology or the existence of exhaustive reference works to better detect any novelties, the team that has described L. becerrae has recently published five new species in eastern Andalusia: Tragopogon lainzii, Galatella malacitana, Sisymbrium isatidifolium, Rivasmartinezia cazorlana and Teucrium teresianum.

Anti-Semites attack Jewish Moroccan Dutch woman


This 8 May 2017 video is about vandalism by anti-Semites against Jewish Moroccan Dutch woman Fatiha Chass Eddine in Apeldoorn city in Gelderland province in the Netherlands.

Translated from Dutch site Joop.nl:

May 8, 2017, last update 23:47

Victim of anti-Semitic action sent away by police

A Jewish woman threatened on Friday by anti-Semitic vandalism was sent away by police when she wanted to report. She was told at the police station in her city Apeldoorn that she had to make an appointment first and return on Monday. The woman was so shocked by the attack on her home that she did not dare to sleep at home on Friday night, she told Omroep Gelderland broadcasting organisation.

On May 5, Liberation Day [the day Hitler’s Wehrmacht occupying armed forces in the Netherlands surrendered], she found a carved star of David on the door of her basement box. Also, the word “whore” was painted on the wall. The woman told the housing association, but they did nothing until another resident complained. Jewish Fatiha Chass Eddine is of Moroccan origin. She has no idea who did this. The space in which the crime was committed is only accessible to apartment house residents.

Maltreated Moroccan vulture’s recovery


This video from Spain is called Effortless flight of griffon vultures.

From BirdLife:

2 May 2017

Freed from abuse, maltreated bird flourishes in Morocco

By Blandine Mélis and Jude Fuhnwi

A griffon vulture that was captured and mistreated by a group of young people in F’nideq, a town in northern Morocco, has reunited with other birds in the wild and [is] thriving. The captive vulture was freed following the timely intervention of BirdLife International’s partner in Morocco, and is currently being monitored closely by conservationists of the organisation’s office in the area.

The bird, identified as M13 was first discovered alongside four other depleted fawn vultures in the Jbel Moussa area by officers from the country’s High Commission for Water, Forests and the fight against Desertification. Popular for its strategic location south of the Strait of Gibraltar, Jbel Moussa is found on the route of migrating birds flying in from the Iberian Peninsula to sub-Saharan Africa. This key biodiversity area is being monitored regularly by workers of BirdLife International’s Partner in Morocco, the Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc (GREPOM).

The five fatigued griffon vultures were immediately taken to the Rabat zoological park, where they were treated. These birds were later tagged with wing marks and transmitters placed on them in order to use a radio receiver and antenna to monitor them. As part of the 2017 world wetlands day events, the birds were released into their natural environment on 07 February, at the Jbel site where they were first found.

One of the adults, a male, that was tagged M13 eventually flew into the F’nideq urban area in search of food, but was captured and mistreated by a group of unidentified young people near the city on 11 February. Images showing the poor treatment of this bird went viral in the media nationwide. Field workers from GREPOM with assistance from state agents in the city of Tétouan immediately intervened through a rescue operation and recovered the bird.

“The M13 vulture incident created an outcry in Morocco and efforts by GREPOM to save it attracted the interest of diverse media. Through the wide media coverage, we reached out to a large proportion of the public, including people who did not care about environmental issues before. It had a direct impact on public opinion and people were educated about the importance of conserving birds, which is a key focus of our strategy,” said Adil Boulahia, Communication officer at GREPOM.

The King’s Attorney General opened an investigation to determine the circumstances under which the bird was captured and to identify those responsible for the act. This incident triggered debates at national level on the issue of wildlife abuse, and mobilized civil society groups active in bird and biodiversity conservation. Many people became aware of the laws relating to the conservation of birds, and there was also a remarkable mobilization of local authorities for the cause.

“It was a starting point towards a long-term change in harmful behaviour towards birds. It also prepared the ground for GREPOM to raise awareness through campaigns and develop large scale conservation programmes, as the public is more receptive to the cause and more familiar with GREPOM and the work that we do in this area,” added Adil.

One month after the M13 vulture was freed, experts say the bird has regained strength and has been sighted often with his brother, M14.

“I last saw M14 on 20th March heading north with a group of other vultures. Of the five vultures released, at least two of them can be sighted above the mountain. Until April 25th, they were spotted among a hundred other wild vultures flying high and their marks were illegible,” explained Rachid El Khamlichi, Monitoring Coordinator of GREPOM’s northern unit.

With this achievement, GREPOM looks forward to funding opportunities that can provide donations for the monitoring of vultures, in order to support the success of this project.

Moroccan authorities are working closely with GREPOM and other partners to conserve the species in the area and effectively coordinate the protection, rehabilitation and monitoring of vultures.

For many years now, GREPOM has been collecting observation data on the behaviour and adaptation of birds, and has continued to raise awareness and educate local populations on bird conservation issues. This has achieved positive results towards convincing locals that vultures are important birds that provide numerous services to humans and the ecosystem. In 2016, more than twenty young people showed their commitment to protect vultures and participated in setting up a feeding site for the birds.