Rat poison kills birds, partial ban


This video is about a kestrel nest on a balcony in Poland.

Translated from Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands today:

Vermin fighters may no longer use mouse and rat poison anymore in the open air from early this year on. That was decided by the board for the authorization of plant protection products and biocides (Ctgb). The main reason for the partial ban of these rodenticides is that many mice and rats have become immune to the poison. It is also to reduce the risk of other animals being exposed to the substances.

Research by ecotoxicologist Nico van den Brink of Alterra research institute in Wageningen shows that a large part of our raptors get rat poison in their food. The chance of barn owls and kestrels dying from this is plausible.

Rodenticides are not completely prohibited. Inside buildings they may still be used. Also, the Ctgb offers the possibility to obtain an authorization under strict conditions for outdoor use.

Holocaust commemoration in Auschwitz


This video says about itself:

Behind the Scenes of Auschwitz Instagram video

27 January 2015

Steven Spielberg on ‎Auschwitz 70th Anniversary: “During this time of remembrance, efforts like these are vital to raising awareness of the Holocaust among young people and the importance of fighting prejudice and intolerance wherever it occurs.

As part of our partnership with the Shoah Foundation to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we made a video for Instagram about our visit to the camp.

Although the video is only 15 seconds long, it was meticulously crafted and edited. Using only an iPhone, our team captured striking images of the camp, recreating frame by frame some of the historic photos of Auschwitz that have become part of the public imagination.

”The video tells the story of one of the camp’s survivors, Roman Kent. It begins with a picture of Kent in his youth, and goes on to show the camp through “his eyes.” It ends with images of him now, 70 years later.

By Ben Chacko:

They lost their lives – we must honour them

Wednesday 28th January 2015

Holocaust survivors pay tribute to airbrushed out Soviet liberators 70 years after the Red Army freed Auschwitz

THREE hundred Auschwitz survivors returned to the nazis’ largest death camp yesterday to mark 70 years since its liberation by the Red Army.

Politicians from around the world marked Holocaust Memorial Day in memory of the six million Jews who were slaughtered by the nazi regime alongside Roma, gay and disabled people, Polish and Soviet prisoners of war and others.

But campaigners warned that fascism was once again on the rise in Europe — increasingly backed by the same Western states who sent representatives to Auschwitz yesterday.

French President Francois Hollande made an emotional plea for Jews to regard France as their homeland — but said nothing of his Prime Minister Manuel Valls’s public call for all French Roma to be deported.

And Britain was represented at the ceremony by Eric Pickles, who was condemned by the High Court this month for illegally discriminating against Roma and travellers.

Camp survivors expressed dismay at Poland’s decision not to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin when it was the Soviet Union that freed them seven decades ago.

Eighty-one-year-old Paula Lebovics remembered being a starving 11-year-old who was hugged and rocked by a Russian soldier “with tears in his eyes” as Soviet troops uncovered the horrific complex, where over a million Jews were gassed to death.

“Putin should be here,” she said. “They were our liberators.”

Fellow survivor Eva Mozes Kor agreed, saying that she had no sympathy with Mr Putin’s politics but “from a moral and historical perspective he should be here.”

Munich resident Natan Grossmann, another Auschwitz survivor, said: “They put their lives on the line to free us. They lost their lives and we should honour them.”

The failure to invite the Russian leader follows a concerted effort to rewrite the history of the second world war and as the European Union backs fascist militias in Ukraine.

Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna sparked outrage when he claimed “the Ukrainians” liberated the camp in a bid to minimise Russia’s role.

Ukraine’s current government has armed and deployed openly neonazi units like the Azov battalion, which claims to be on a “crusade of the white races” against “semite-led subhumanity,” in an attempt to crush the anti-fascist resistance forces in the country’s east. …

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk — who has previously referred to Russians as “subhuman” — claimed in Germany earlier this month that Russia had “invaded Ukraine and Germany” in the second world war, while the far-right parties of the Euromaidan movement openly revere nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists murdered thousands of Jews and Poles during the Holocaust. …

A spokesman for anti-racist group Hope Not Hate told the Star: “Seventy years on from the liberation of Auschwitz and the horrendous images of the dead and dying in the camps seem hard to erase.

“Our recent report State of Hate revealed that organised far-right groups in the UK are having a hard time of things at the moment, suffering splits, defections and losing electoral support to Ukip.

“That said, the conditions have been fertile for populist and racist parties for some time, so it is wise we remain vigilant to that threat.”

On Tuesday, a public ceremony was held at Auschwitz to mark the 70th anniversary of the concentration camp’s liberation by elements of the Soviet Union’s Red Army on January 27, 1945. The very name of this Nazi death camp in southern Poland is synonymous with the greatest crimes and horrors of the 20th century, a byword for capitalist barbarism in its most extreme form: here.

Britain: David Cameron paid tribute yesterday to Soviet troops and civilians who helped defeat the nazis after a Tory MP called for their sacrifice to be remembered by Britain. David Tredinnick recalled at Prime Minister’s questions how the British army freed 60,000 inmates from the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. But, almost 70 years to the day since the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz death camp, the Bosworth MP added that Mr Cameron should recognise their effort: here.

The rape and sexual abuse of Jewish women during the Holocaust have been long overlooked. But when researchers probed, stories began to emerge as if they were old photographic film waiting for the right chemicals: here.

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops, German President Joachim Gauck made a commemorative speech on Tuesday in parliament. The sermonizing tone of the former East German clergyman was difficult to bear. But even worse was the cynicism with which Gauck used the Holocaust memorial day to legitimise the reemergence of German militarism: here.

John Pilger: New threats of war and fascism: here.

Sobibor nazi gas chambers discovered, archaeologist interviewed


This September 2014 video is called Archaeologists Uncover Buried Gas Chambers At Sobibor Death Camp.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Digging for the gas chambers of Sobibor

Leiden archaeologist Ivar Schute recently discovered the foundations of the gas chambers of Sobibor extermination camp. “The Holocaust is almost incomprehensible. This work makes it tangible.” What use were his archaeology studies for this?

What is the reason for this excavation at Sobibor?

“There will be a new museum and a symbolic path to the place where the camp once was. For a long time one could hardly see anything there: after the great prisoners’ escape in 1943 the Germans broke down the camp and planted trees to cover the tracks of their crimes. The site is an international project of Israel, Poland, the Netherlands and Slovakia. These are the countries where most of the victims came from. In World War II, nearly 35,000 Dutch people were transported from Westerbork to Sobibor. After Auschwitz this is the largest Dutch mass grave.”

How did you got involved?

“I was asked because I have experience with excavations at the Westerbork camp, Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen. With three other archaeologists, I am reconstructing the path that the people walked at that time after arrival. From the train station to the gas chambers.”

How did you discover the fundamentals of the gas chambers?

“We used drawings of refugee survivors and we have dug carefully. Without machines, because there are so many human remains. The graves should be disturbed as little as possible, the field work is supervised by a rabbi. Bit by bit we could reconstruct the camp because extermination camps often had the same format. First we localized the barber barracks and the so-called Himmelfahrtstrasse, the road to the place where they were gassed. Then you know it must be the gas chambers at the end thereof. After removing the asphalt we found the foundations of the chambers.”

Who: Ivar Schute (1966)

Study: Archaeology (1984 – 1992, worked already during study) …

Favourite place in Leiden: “I live in the Witte Rozenstraat. At number 57 is the house where the physicist Paul Ehrenfest lived and where Albert Einstein often came to visit.

Paul Ehrenfest was from an Austrian Jewish family. His Witte Rozenstraat 57 home was designed by his wife, Tatyana Alexeyevna Afanasyeva. She was a mathematician. Born in Ukraine (then part of the Russian empire), she became a member of the Bolshevik tendency of the Russian Social Democratic Party; later of the Communist Party.

Around the corner is ‘t Kasteeltje, the villa at the Jan van Goyenkade 44. There lived a former classmate of Einstein whom he visited when he was in Leiden. Intriguing places, but I’ve never been in there.”

What does this work do emotionally with you?

“It’s a very intense experience. During the excavation, I can focus well on the work, but of course it does not leave me unmoved. I dug there for two months and returned to the Netherlands, the images in my head. It gets a niche by talking a lot about it. The Holocaust is almost beyond comprehension, but this work makes it tangible. We found many human remains and personal belongings such as glasses and crockery that mainly came from Dutch Jews. They lived up to the last under the assumption that they were going to a labour camp and had brought precious belongings. A very painful discovery.”

How did you get involved in war archeology?

“As a little boy I already wanted to be an archaeologist, I was always looking for shards. I graduated about prehistoric times, but because of stories by my grandparents I am also interested in World War II. Until a decade ago, archaeologists spent very little attention on this period. Because it is relatively recent and because there are so many sources. I and another archaeologist tried hard to really get attention for it. Excavations can provide new information indeed. About many camps it is not known what they looked like and therefore it is not known what is the location of the gas chambers and the mass graves. That you only can only identify in an archaeological way.”

Which skills gained during your study come in handy for this work?

“I had a very good field training and already as a student I could lead major excavations. We learned to be very critical and careful: you can only do an excavation well once. Thanks to my former teacher Martin Verbruggen, an expert in physical geography, I know how important it is to look at a spot from the whole landscape development in that area. Then you will understand better how an area became as it is now. That way of archeology is not obvious. Many archaeologists do not look beyond the limit of the hole.”

What is the best advice you ever received?

“When I graduated professor Louwe Kooijmans said to me: “You have to get more contacts in society.” He meant that I was still too restless for science. I went to work for the archaeological research bureau RAAP where I still work for. Through this work, I got in touch with all kinds of people, from farmer to developer, with diverse interests. That way I learned to make trade-offs, but also to improvise and to work on solutions. It was good advice by Kooijmans!”

(December 18, 2014 – LvP)

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