UK: climate change link to ring ouzel decline?


Ring ouzel

From BirdLife:

Climate change link to ouzel decline?

31-05-2006

Pioneering research work undertaken by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) has shown that a sharp decline in the numbers of one of the UK’s least understood birds could be linked to climate change.

Now conservation scientists from RSPB Scotland are to monitor the movements of the Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus using radio-tracking equipment, in the hope that the study will provide information to help them improve the status of the species.

The species is in serious trouble in the UK with an estimated population decline of almost 60% between 1990 and 1999.

The climate change research work published in the Journal of Animal Ecology reveals that the drop in the ouzel’s population could be linked to recent increases in UK temperatures in July and August after most chicks have fledged.

July 2011: The RSPB has teamed up with environmental funder SITA Trust and Dartmoor National Park Authority in an attempt to stem the decline of the ring ouzel in Dartmoor: here.

RSPB Scotland scientists have uncovered new evidence that could help to halt the dramatic decline of a rare upland bird. Scotland’s population of ring ouzels – popularly known as mountain blackbirds – has dropped by 36% since 1999 and these striking birds are vanishing from many of their former haunts in the rocky hillsides and gullies of the highest parts of the country: here.

Protecting albatrosses: here.

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Iraq: US troops kill two women, one of them pregnant


This video from the USA is called Iraqi Civilian Speeks at anti war rally.

Associated Press reports:

By KIM GAMEL

BAGHDAD, Iraq May 31, 2006 — Two Iraqi women were shot to death north of Baghdad after coalition forces fired on a vehicle that failed to stop at an observation post, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

Iraqi police and relatives said one of the women was about to give birth. …

The statement was issued after Iraqi police said a pregnant woman and her cousin were killed by American troops while driving to a maternity hospital in Samarra, a predominantly Sunni city 60 miles north of Baghdad.

The shooting deaths occurred in the wake of an investigation into allegations that U.S. Marines killed unarmed civilians in the western city of Haditha.

AP Television News footage showed the women’s bodies wrapped in sheets and lying on stretchers outside the Samarra General Hospital, while residents pointed to bullet holes on the windshield of a car and a pool of blood on the seat.

Haditha, and these two women, are only the tip of the bloody iceberg in Iraq.

Britain and Haditha: see here.

USA: Abu Ghraib torture: Rumsfeld, not just ‘bad apples’


This video from the USA is called Abu Ghraib covered up, Congress misled by Rumsfeld.

By Simon Assaf in Britain:

Documents confirm horror of Abu Ghraib

A new batch of declassified US army documents has strengthened the case that torture in Iraq and Afghanistan was officially sanctioned, widespread and systematic.

Last week George Bush apologised for the abuse at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, describing it as “a mistake”.

But the new documents show that the abuse simply reflected the colonial mentality of the US led occupation – and that it was ordered from above.

One key document, dated 19 May 2004 and recently unearthed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), includes the testimony of a US officer.

It outlines a 35-page order commanding interrogators to “go to the outer limits to get information from the detainees”.

The order was sanctioned by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the US military commander in Iraq at the time.

Another document, entitled “Allegations of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan” and dated 2 April 2004, shows that senior officials were aware of the abuse.

Anthony Romero of the ACLU said the document proves that “this abuse of power was engineered and accepted at the highest levels of government”.

US ‘rendition’ torture flights: here.

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Israel: new invertebrate animal species found in cave


Crustacean, found by cave research in IsraelFrom the Hebrew University of Jerusalem:

30 May, 2006

Press Conference on New Species Revealed in Cave

A press conference to reveal details of new species of invertebrate animals discovered in Israel that have been unknown to science until now will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 31, at 9:30 a.m. in room 3602 of the Geography Department (building 6, Social Sciences Faculty) of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus campus.

The new species were revealed in a cave that was uncovered as a result of excavations in a quarry in the vicinity of Ramle [in Israel].

Scientists from the Hebrew University who examined the cave say they discovered there “a new and unique ecosystem,” including previously unknown aquatic and terrestrial species.

Update: what was said on the newly discovered cave and its animal species at the press conference: here.

See also here.

New invertebrate species in Grand Canyon, USA, caves: here

USA: poster against torture in Iraq


Anti torture in Iraq poster from New York

From Art for a change blog:

unidentified artists with a small budget produced the “iRaq” poster – a brilliant detournment of Apple Computer’s portable MP3 player ad campaign.

The subversive poster features the infamous image of an Iraqi prisoner tortured by American jailers at Abu Ghraib prison, with a subhead that reads, “10,000 volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent.”

The poster was designed by a New York artist’s collective whose members prefer anonymity.

Calling themselves Copper Greene, after the code name used by the Pentagon to describe its program of prisoner abuse in Iraq, these nameless artists succeeded in turning a multi-million dollar ad campaign on its head.

Eminem/Iraq remix video: here.

USA: biggest polacanthid dinosaur found


Polacanthus dinosaur

From KSL (in the USA):

Heaviest Dinosaur Discovered in Utah

May 29th, 2006

Ed Yeates Reporting

Utah bone diggers have uncovered what could be the largest and heaviest armored dinosaur on the planet.

The dino appears to be a new species and has yet to be named.

Take the three foot forearm of an armored dinosaur and stretch it out to six feet.

Pull it from head to tail so its’ longer, up to twenty five feet.

Pack it with full armor and spikes, even over the hips; now you’ve got a Polacanthid weighing five tons.

Dr. Reese Barrick, Director/Curator, CEU Prehistoric Museum: “It will be the largest, heaviest armored dinosaur found on the planet so far.”

College of Eastern Utah paleontologists found it right here in Utah, which seems to be unraveling more graves of armored dinos than anywhere in the world.

This new discovery is three times the size and weight of an armored dinosaur called gastonia.

Utahraptor, as portrayed in Jurassic Park, wouldn’t have been able to get its teeth anywhere in the armor.

And if it tried to pry open the tightly fused seams? Bye Bye claws!

See also here.

And here.

And here.

Ankylosaurs: here.

Gastonia: here.

Buzzard and shelduck and house martin


This is a video of a house martin colony in Sevilla, Spain.

Today, a walk from the Hofpolder in Vlietland to bird reserve Starrevaart.

A chiffchaff singing.

The first duck of the day in a canal.

A mallard, the most common species?

No, it is a gadwall.

A buzzard circling overhead.

Two Egyptian geese on the lake bank.

We come to the Meeslouwerpolder, the most beautiful area for birds before a sand corporation made the lake too deep.

The birds then got compensation in Starrevaart, more to the south.

A cuckoo calls. A shelduck flies past.

When we arrive at Starrevaart, over a hundred swifts fly over the shallow lake, accompanied by a few score of house martins, often flying a bit lower, closer to the windy waves of the lake.

It made them look a bit like petrels.

From the hide: two common gulls, tufted ducks, common terns. Black-headed gulls nesting on an island.

On the way back, in the Meeslouwerpolder: barn swallows flying, and a cuckoo calling.

In the Hofpolder, two male pheasants.

And a red admiral butterfly.

Britain: Blair: poodle of Bush, and of Rupert Murdoch


This video from the USA is called Moyers on Murdoch; PBS.

Tony Blair is not just a poodle of George W Bush.

A bit like the 18th century Italian theatre role Harlequin, he seems to be the servant of at least two masters.

From British daily The Independent:

Former aide lifts lid on Blair‘s links with Murdoch

By Andy McSmith

Published: 29 May 2006

Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul, had so much influence over Tony Blair’s government in its early days that he was like “the 24th member of the Cabinet”, according to a former Downing Street spin doctor.

Lance Price, deputy to Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister’s press secretary, from 1998 to 2001, implied that the silent presence of Mr Murdoch in government deliberations was one of No 10’s most sensitive secrets.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, he revealed that when he submitted his book, The Spin Doctor’s Diary, for vetting, there were more objections to references to Mr Murdoch than to anything he wrote about Mr Blair’s fraught relationship with Gordon Brown.

“The close relationship between Tony Blair, New Labour and Rupert Murdoch was a double-edged sword,” he said.

“It won the government invaluable support from the News International stable, but at a high price.

“The Prime Minister’s meetings with Mr Murdoch were often treated like state secrets.

His voice was rarely heard … but his presence was always felt.”

See also here.

Murdoch’s fellow media tycoon Maxwell here.

Blair government in trouble: here.

Talking not just about Blair, but also about his role model, Margaret Thatcher: some of her dirty laundry became public today as well.