New animal species discovered in African forest


This video is called Carving Up the Congo:

International logging companies are causing social chaos and wreaking environmental havoc in the Democratic Republic of Congo, home of the world’s second largest rainforest.

Our film reveals how the World Bank, by far the largest donor to the DRC, is failing to stop this destruction whilst the rainforest is being sold off under the illusion that it will alleviate poverty in one of the poorest countries on Earth.

How the World Bank and HSBC are investing in deforestation in Congo: here.

From LiveScience:

Lost Forest in Africa Yields New Species

By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

posted: 07 August 2007 03:32 pm ET

In a once-lost forest in Africa, six animal species new to science have been discovered, members of a two-month expedition now reveal, including a bat, a rodent, two shrews and two frogs.

“If we can find six new species in such a short period, it makes you wonder what else is out there,” said Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Andrew Plumptre.

The bat appears to be a kind of horseshoe bat (genus Rhinolophus), known for the large horseshoe-shaped “nose leaves” used for directing their ultrasound.

These new species were discovered in an expedition from January and March 2007 into woods just west of Lake Tanganyika, which have been off limits to scientists for more than 50 years. The area is a remote corner of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been gripped by unrest and war for decades.

Spirits linked with this area include Kabogo, said to occasionally manifest itself as a ghostly boat on Lake Tanganyika at night said to guarantee good fishing if seen, as well as Misotshi, who has taboos against the killing of chimpanzees and the destruction of the forest. For this reason, local chiefs suggested naming the area the Misotshi-Kabogo Forest, the researchers said.

The scientists found that nearly 386 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) of forest, almost the size of all of Hong Kong, remained intact. The woods stretched from the shores of Lake Tanganyika up to elevations of 8,940 feet (2,725 meters) above sea level, or roughly seven times the height of the Empire State Building.

These woods have been isolated from much of the Congo rainforest, the second largest rainforest in the world, for at least 10,000 years, which explains why they held new species, said Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Deo Kujirakwinja. They proved extraordinarily rich, providing a home to chimpanzees, elephants, leopards, monkeys, birds, reptiles, frogs and other amphibians, hogs, jackals, mongooses, porcupines, and antelopes known as bongos.

The expedition collected additional material that may also yield a number of new plant species. Local botanists were unable to identify some 10 percent of the collected plants. Plumptre, Kujirakwinja and their colleagues will send these samples to specialists in the near future to assess their novelty.

The Wildlife Conservation Society notes that chiefs and elders at local villages are supportive of transforming the region into a protected park. Currently, human impacts on these forests are relatively low, with gold mining on a minor level being the most substantial threat.

See also here.

Nature reserve in Congo: here.

World’s largest protected freshwater Ramsar site declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo: here.

A New Population of De Brazza’s Monkey found in Kenya: here.

Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 89 – The Mountain Bongo: here.

July 2013. Scientists from the Universities of Stirling, Oxford, Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society warn that current hunting trends in Central African forests could result in complete ecological collapse: here.

Kingfisher, avocets, and spoonbills


This video is called Avocet with young and Eurasian spoonbills in nature reserve the Oostvaardersplassen.

Today, to the nature reserve Starrevaart.

I will compare bird count numbers at the site about that reserve for yesterday, in the left column, 6 August, with today, in the right column.

Grey lag goose – hundreds
Mute swan – 3
Shelduck – 2
Great cormorant 49 over 40
Spoonbill 17 over 12
Avocet 15 3
Golden plover 200 -
Northern lapwing – hundreds
Dunlin 1 -
Great crested grebe – 4
Ruff 5 -
Black-tailed godwit 17 1 in the Northeast, 50 in the center.
Curlew 20 -
Spotted redshank 12 -
Common sandpiper 2 -
Lesser black-backed gull 8 2
Black-headed gull – 1
Common tern – 4
Kingfisher 1 in Meeslouwerpolder; 1 on a pole near the birdwatching hut

Japanese election victors say No to Bush’s war in Afghanistan


This video is called Peace protest, Hiroshima, Japan, March 2003, a few days prior to the start of the Iraq War.

Reuters reports:

Japan opposition risks U.S. ire over Afghan mission

By Linda Sieg

TOKYO – Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party and its allies agreed on Monday to oppose extending support for U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan, a move that could sour security ties with the United States.

The decision by the opposition – who won a majority in last week’s election for parliament’s upper house – also risks deepening divisions within the Democratic Party, a sometimes fractious amalgam of former ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members, ex-socialists and hawkish younger conservatives.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to extend a law enabling Japan’s navy to provide fuel and goods for U.S.-led coalition warships in the Indian Ocean as support for operations in Afghanistan.

On Monday, an embattled Abe, who has vowed to stay in his post despite the drubbing at the polls, called for opposition cooperation, but the opposition appeared unmoved.

“To cooperate in America’s war is not necessarily the path to take,” Democratic Party Secretary-General Yukio Hatoyama told reporters, adding his counterparts in the tiny Social Democratic Party and People’s New Party had shared that basic view.

Democratic Party leader Ichio Ozawa had already come out against the extension and, despite calls from his predecessor to rethink that stance, party policy chief Takeaki Matsumoto said switching gears would be tough.

“We aren’t saying from the beginning that we won’t give approval … but fundamentally we want to discontinue the law and have them come home,” Matsumoto told Reuters in an interview.

The opposition position has sparked concern in Washington, and U.S. ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer is expected to press the case for the mission when he meets Ozawa on Wednesday.

Last week’s election deprived the LDP and its junior partner of their majority in the upper house, meaning the Democrats and their allies can reject bills approved by the lower chamber.

“NORMAL NATION”

Bills rejected by the upper house can be returned to the lower house and enacted by the ruling parties’ two-thirds majority, but that is a time-consuming process and the law enabling the Indian Ocean operation expires on Nov. 1.

Ozawa, 65, a former LDP lawmaker who bolted the party in 1993, has long advocated transforming Japan into a “normal country” whose security policy is less constrained by its pacifist constitution.

But he has also urged Japan to adopt its own diplomatic course, even when it differs from that of the United States.

“U.S.-Japan relations don’t mean doing everything that the United States wants,” policy chief Matsumoto said.

The Democrats’ most recent election manifesto also calls for all Japanese troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. Ground troops sent to Iraq by Abe’s predecessor completed their non-combat mission last year, but about 200 air force personnel are in Kuwait to airlift supplies to the U.S. military in Iraq.

Talking about the Iraq war; from British daily The Independent:

Brian Haw: ‘It is strange that they are spending so much money prosecuting me’

By Kim Sengupta
Published: 07 August 2007

As the Camp for Climate Action began planning in earnest for next week’s protest at Heathrow, one veteran protester against the Iraq war was also enjoying a moment of vindication.

The High Court ruled that restrictions imposed by police on Parliament Square anti-war protester Brian Haw, as he continues his peace camp demonstration were unlawful “by reason of lack of clarity”.

For Mr Haw, by now a veteran of the law courts, it was another triumph in the face of an extraordinary barrage of actions by the Government in an attempt to ban his one man anti-war protest on Parliament Square.

Ibsen’s Doll’s House still upsetting sexist men


This video from the USA is called Mabou Mines DollHouse @ UCLA LIVE Nov 28-Dec 10, 2006.

From British daily The Guardian:

‘We’ve really upset some men’

A Doll’s House with dwarfs playing the male roles? It caused fury in the US – how will Edinburgh react?

By Mark Fisher …

The actor, who once played an angel in Frasier, has been cast as the paternalistic Torvald in Mabou Mines DollHouse, a critically acclaimed reworking of Ibsen‘s classic A Doll’s House. This production, by the New York-based avant-garde theatre company Mabou Mines, features no man taller than 4ft 5in. The women, such as Maude Mitchell’s Nora, tower above the men, squeezing themselves into a miniature set that takes no account of their proportions. The language and the attitudes, however, are straight out of 19th-century Norway, meaning Torvald continues to patronise his “poor little Nora”, despite being small enough for her to scoop him up into her arms.

Director Lee Breuer is playing on the absurdity of a social order that favours one sex over the other. Ibsen’s play, a landmark in the movement towards women’s emancipation, was considered dangerously subversive in its day, with its portrayal of a young mother who walks out on a stultifying marriage. Here, in DollHouse, the warped relationships and skewed status find a parallel in the imbalanced physical relationships, creating a surreal comedy out of a melodrama, but without removing its political bite.

Breuer, who adapted the idea from an old Berliner Ensemble production of Brecht’s Coriolan, knew he was on to something as soon as he overheard a couple at an early preview of DollHouse in New York in 2003. At the interval the man got up, said he didn’t like it, and made for the exit. Turning back, he asked his partner if she was coming. “No, I think I’ll stay and see a little more,” she replied. Angrily, he asked when she wanted to be picked up. “Don’t bother,” was her terse response. …

We’ve really upset men, especially in areas that are tremendously patriarchal, such as South Carolina, where half the upper middle-class couples were like Torvald and Nora. They don’t like to be accused of doing what they’re doing.

George Bernard Shaw: here. His Major Barbara: here.

Red Cross confirms Bush administration, CIA tortures


This video is about the US Bush’s administration’s secret CIA prisons.

By Patrick Martin:

Red Cross confirms Bush administration, CIA used torture in interrogations

A confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) suggests that Bush administration officials may have committed war crimes in the operation of CIA “secret prisons” overseas, according to a lengthy analysis published on the web site of the New Yorker magazine Sunday.

The Red Cross report concluded that the methods used in the CIA interrogation of alleged 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other Al Qaeda prisoners were “tantamount to torture” and that Bush administration officials had likely committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions.

The article by Jane Mayer, entitled “The Black Sites,” is the product of a series of interviews with former CIA officers involved in operating the agency’s secret prisons overseas, agents who directly participated in torture sessions and apparently concluded that the methods they were employing were either immoral or counterproductive, or both.

The New Yorker has become one of the principal conduits for dissent within the military/intelligence apparatus directed against the policies of the Bush White House. Mayer’s colleague, Seymour Hersh, wrote the first extensive report on the abuse of prisoners at the US military prison at Abu Ghraib, near Baghdad, as well as a series of exposés about US preparations for a military strike against Iran.

See also here.