CIA had secret prison, Polish ex-president admits


This video says about itself:

CIA Torture Secrets: ‘Nazi-like’ Polish black site confession

2 April 2012

Last week saw a revival of the scandal surrounding an alleged CIA secret prison in Poland – something the country’s officials have always strongly denied existed. The first charges have reportedly been brought against the country’s former intelligence chief for allowing the site. For more on this RT’s joined by former CIA officer Raymond McGovern.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Former president admits: CIA had prison in Poland

Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 16:10

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski former has confirmed what about singing for years: the CIA had a secret prison in Poland, where in the years after the attacks of September 11, 2001 terror suspects were interrogated.

Kwasniewski did not give details in an interview with a Polish radio station. He underlined that the Polish authorities have never authorized the torture of suspects or the use of controversial interrogation techniques.

Obviously, the CIA did not wait for Polish government permission to start torturing.

Until now, Poland had always denied that the CIA had a prison in the country, despite reports by former employees of US intelligence services and human rights organizations.

Eight suspects

The CIA is said to have interrogated in any case from December 2002 until the fall of 2003 al-Qaida suspects in Poland. Human rights groups cite a number of eight suspects. …

In 2008, the Polish government commissioned a study about the reports about the existence of a CIA prison. In the report that appeared yesterday on the interrogation practices of the CIA, Poland is not specifically mentioned. But the researchers hope they can still find useful information in it.

Former Polish president confirms existence of secret CIA torture prison: here.

Obama condemns CIA torture past but stays quiet on accountability: here.

Senate report on CIA torture could lead to prosecutions of Americans abroad. Human rights groups say actions on foreign soil could fall under legal jurisdictions of those countries or the ICC in The Hague: here.

Torture: British role suppressed. CIA accomplices not identified in US Senate report. No mention of MI5 or MI6: here.

THE world responded with a mixture of anger and indignation today to the release of the US Senate report on CIA torture of terror suspects. The United Nations and a range of human rights groups called for the prosecution of US officials involved in the illegal and brutal interrogations: here.

Birds and African, Asian and European children


This video is called How Kids Save Swifts. It says about itself:

2 December 2014

A short video presenting a valuable initiative of a workshop for school kids in Gdynia (Poland) on building homes for Swifts.

From BirdLife:

Spring Alive springs to action for migratory bird conservation

By Shaun Hurrell, Fri, 05/12/2014 – 08:22

As migratory birds are settling in for winter in Africa, we reflect back on another successful season of Spring Alive. As well as celebrating the arrival of migratory birds, this year children and adults have been acting for their conservation all the way from Eurasia to Africa in this BirdLife educational conservation initiative coordinated by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland).

This year in Europe and Asia, nearly 67,000 children enjoyed welcoming their avian visitors, learned about their conservation, and took photos as they engaged in Spring Alive migration-themed activities. Over 500 events were held; over 1200 teachers used Spring Alive resources in their lessons; and a photo competition captured the magic of migration.

Spring Alive encourages children and adults to take action for the migratory birds they learn about. All across the flyway, Partners and participants have been protecting swift nesting sites, installing and repairing nest boxes, building nest platforms for swallows, monitoring nesting locations of bee-eaters, fitting transmitters to cuckoos, looking after stork nests, promoting stickers to prevent bird collisions with glass, campaigning against illegal hunting, and more.

By posting their first sightings of Barn Swallow, White Stork, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift, and European Bee-eater on the http://www.springalive.net website, children from Europe, Central Asia and Africa create a real-time map of the incredible journeys these birds take every year. As well as by these migratory routes, Eurasian and African schools are also connected with matching initiatives like ‘Spring Twin’.

Winners of the photo competition organised on the Spring Alive flickr page were from Slovenia, Poland and Montenegro. This year, the Spring Alive website was adapted to compliment the increased use of mobile phone for internet browsing in Eurasia and Africa.

Spring Alive is in its 8th year and is getting bigger. For the first time, this year children from Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Tunisia were also able to share in the common wonder of bird migration and conservation as these countries join a total of 54 participating countries in the campaign.

As the African season comes to a close, we wait with anticipation for the results and hope to better the current record of 3.7 million people reached by Spring Alive.

Likewise, we wait in Europe for the return of the birds next year. Migratory birds face threats from climate change including drought and mis-timing of the emergence of insects; agriculture; urbanisation; and hunting. With appreciation and support of local children, hopefully these birds can find enough food and shelter to continue to return year after year.

Spring Alive in Europe & Asia in numbers:

303 outdoor events and 200 indoor events held
1,205 teachers used Spring Alive resources for their lessons
Nearly 67,000 children and over 7,189 adults directly engaged in Spring Alive
649 volunteers were directly involved in Spring Alive activities
1665 seniors took part in Spring Alive activities
54 Partners involved, including 14 from Africa

Spring Alive is an international campaign to encourage children’s interest in nature and the conservation of migratory birds. Spring Alive is organised by OTOP, the BirdLife Partner in Poland, on behalf of the BirdLife Partnership. Wildlife groups, teachers and others who would like to become more involved in Spring Alive should contact the International Manager, Karolina Kalinowska, at karolina.kalinowska@otop.org.pl.

For more information go to: www.springalive.net

Follow Spring Alive on YouTube and flickr.

South African Triassic carnivorous reptile Garjainia


This video says about itself:

Palaeodigs part 2 Giant amphibians and Early archosaurs

1 November 2013

Part 2/2 of a two part special recorded at excavations in Krasiejów, SW Poland. In this video I interview special guest Mateusz Tałanda about the amazing fossils found at Krasiejów. Sound and camera are a little poor, sorry.

From Laelaps blog today:

Big-Headed Carnivore a Sign of Triassic Recovery

by Brian Switek

I’ve spent much of my weekend writing about Jurassic World. I won’t rehash the details here – you can read those over at VICE – but it struck me how easy it is to talk about paleontology when everyone knows the animals you’re discussing. I don’t have to explain who Tyrannosaurus or Velociraptor were, and, from museums and movies, most everyone has some idea of what a dinosaur is.

But if Colin Trevorrow were directing Triassic World, my job would be a lot more difficult. With the exception of the first dinosaurs, and maybe the “armadillodiles“, most of the strange creatures that thrived between 252 and 200 million years ago don’t have common names or much presence at all in the public consciousness. So you’re going to have to bear with me for a second while I introduce you to Garjainia madiba.

Discovered in the 247 million year old rock of South Africa, and described by Natural History Museum, London paleontologist David Gower and colleagues in PLoS One, Garjainia madiba belonged to a group of carnivores called erythrosuchid archosauriforms. Let’s unpack that.

You know birds and crocodiles? They’re the two living lineages of a group of animals called archosaurs – the “ruling reptiles” – that, in turn, were part of a larger radiation of critters called archosauriforms. So lower down on the tree, close to the roots, there was a lineage of predatory archosauriforms called erythrosuchids to which Garjainia belonged. To give it a little more context, Garjainia madiba was archaic enough that, in hindsight, we can say it’s equally-closely-related to birds and crocodiles. Garjainia and its carnivorous kin evolved before that great split in the archosauriform family tree.

The animal that Gower and coauthors describe is not the first of its kind. The first species of Garjainia was described in 1958 from fossils uncovered in Russia. What makes the new species special is that it’s a little older and living in a different region, and, as long as you’re looking at the skull, it’s easy to tell the two species apart. The South African species, Garjainia madiba, has bulbous bosses of bone behind its eye and on its cheek that are lacking in the other species. Why this animal had these bumps isn’t yet clear – perhaps they were sign of maturity, differences between the sexes, or something else – but they’re among the traits that mark Garjainia madiba as a new species.

And in terms of size, Garjainia madiba was large enough to take on a variety of prey. Gower and colleagues estimate that the animal grew to over eight feet long, with a significant portion of that being a big, narrow-snouted skull. But what makes Garjainia madiba remarkable is not its fearsome appearance. The real story is in its bones.

Gower and colleagues examined thin sections of seven Garjainia madiba limb bones from individuals of different sizes. Inside, they found signs of rapid growth – relatively messy organization riddled with vascular canals and newly-made bone structures called primary osteons. Even in Garjainia that had periodic stopping points in their growth, likely in response to dry seasons or other times of stress, the bone in between those lines show quick growth spurts.

These starts and stops might explain why the archosauriforms, and not the surviving protomammals, came to rule the Triassic. Garjainia madiba and its relatives may have outpaced our own ancestors and cousins in terms of their life cycle, growing faster and reaching sexual maturity earlier. Simply put, the archosauriforms may have simply out-reproduced the protomammals, letting them evolve more quickly and limiting niches the protomammals could then create.

This archosauriform takeover happened quickly. Garjainia madiba lived a scant five million years after the worst mass extinction of all time – the end-Permian catastrophe that eliminated over 90% of species in the seas and over 75% of species on land. It’s a sign of a rapid burst of evolutionary novelty that paleontologists are truly just beginning to track. In the earliest days of the Triassic, life was bouncing back, with the archosauriforms leading the way.

[For more, read Mark Witton’s account of illustrating Garjainia.]

Reference: Gower, D., Hancox, P., Botha-Brink, J., Sennikov, A., Burlet, R. 2014. A new species of Garjainia Ochev, 1958 (Diapsida: Archosauriformes: Erythrosuchidae) from the Early Triassic of South Africa. PLoS One. 9, 11: e111154. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111154

Polish transphobes attack Winnie the Pooh


This video from the USA says about itself:

21 nov. 2014

Winnie the Pooh has been banned from a Polish playground because of his “dubious sexuality” and “inappropriate” dress.

The much-loved animated bear was suggested at a local council meeting to decide which famous character should become the face of the play area in the small town of Tuszyn.

But the idea soon sparked outrage among more conservative members, with one councillor even denouncing poor Pooh as a “hermaphrodite”.

After the attack by the extreme Right in Poland on the Teletubbies … and after another Polish homophobe attacked an elephant

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Party Pooh-pers attack Winnie

Poland: Small-town officials have opposed naming a playground after Winnie the Pooh due to the bear’s apparently unclear gender and immodest clothing.

The matter was debated in a closed-door meeting in the central Polish town of Tuszyn, but didn’t get much media attention until recent days when voice recordings of the meeting were leaked to local media.

Officials complained that Pooh was immodestly dressed and lacked a clear gender. One called the bear a “hermaphrodite.”

I have news for these transphobes. Most bears, both toy bears like Winnie and living brown bears, are lots more ‘immodestly dressed’ than Winnie the Pooh.