How king snakes eat larger snakes, videos

This video from the USA is called JCE Coral Snake vs Scarlet King Snake.

From LiveScience, about North American snakes:

How Does a Snake Swallow a Larger Snake?

How the common king snake can ingest other snakes that equal or exceed its own length was long a mystery. But scientists now think they know some of the reptile’s super-sizing tricks.

Snake jaws, by the way, are unlike those of other animals in their ability to open wide to swallow big fat things, too.

Kate Jackson of the University of Toronto and colleagues used an array of video and still images to get a play-by-play look at king snakes (Lampropeltis getulas) as they devoured corn snakes (Elaphe guttata) that were at least as long.

1. After the king snake constricted and subdued its prey, it began the exhaustive “transport cycle,” to get the slithering snack into its belly. Called a pterygoid walk, the king snake opened up its jaw and alternately ratcheted toothy parts of its upper jaw over the surface of the prey, in turn “walking” its mouth over and around the prey.

Thermal biology of a colour-dimorphic snake, Elaphe quadrivirgata, in a montane forest: do melanistic snakes enjoy thermal advantages? See here.

Corn Snake Elaphe guttata: here.

Not so rare snakes: a revision of the Geophis sieboldi group (Colubridae: Dipsadinae) in lower Central America and Colombia: here.

Pro peace movement now stronger on Iraq than in Vietnam war times

This video clip is called US Soldier Speaks Out Against Iraq War.

Bush vs. Bremer on decision to disband the Iraqi army: here.

Andrew Murray is national chair of the Stop the War Coalition in Britain and director of campaigns and communications for the Transport and General Workers’ Union.

He writes in British daily The Guardian:

Opposition to the Iraq war far exceeds the fury over Vietnam

Demonstrations can close the gap between popular outrage and parliamentary apathy, says Andrew Murray

[Guardian columnist] Polly Toynbee is right (Lance Corporal Redpath is another victim of our apathy, August 21) about the “Iraq catastrophe” and to argue that the criminal disaster of the British military occupation in Basra should dominate political life in this country.

However, she misrepresents the Stop the War Coalition and the broad anti-war movement of which it is the central element. It is not true that there was “one great anti-war demonstration” and little since. It is obviously difficult to match the size of our protest in February 2003, in which an unprecedented 2 million people took part. But the coalition has organised more than a dozen national demonstrations since. None has been attended by fewer than 50,000 people and some – including the march against George Bush’s state visit – have drawn more than a quarter of a million.

This testifies to the strength and endurance of the British people’s opposition to Blair’s war – far greater in scale and duration than the “fury over Vietnam” that Toynbee contrasts with what she describes as today’s “inertia”.

Her claim that “political activism seems moribund” is wide off the mark. Who can forget the school-student walkouts against the war in 2003, in which we estimate more than 100,000 pupils took part? And the Military Families Against the War campaign led by Rose Gentle and Reg Keys, and sustained by the Coalition, has ensured that the death of Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath and the others do not pass without protest.

The continuing cultural initiatives undertaken by eminent artists and writers opposed to the Iraq aggression, and the huge mobilisation of British Muslims (in the teeth of increasing Islamophobia) all testify to the extent and depth of the movement against the war.

The next national Stop the War demonstration in London will be on Monday 8 October, at 2pm, outside the Parliament building.

“The Vietnam Analogy” [by Bush]: here.

Peace movement in the USA: here.

The decline of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

In this video from the USA, Representative ‘Henry Waxman points out Condoleezza Rice’s “recollection” problem’ about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq.

From British weekly The New Statesman, by Andrew Stephen:

The fall of Condi

06 September 2007

The US secretary of state was feted as “brilliant” and “gifted”, but her tenure is now acknowledged as a disastrous failure.

How things change. It was less than three years ago that the British embassy here put on a ludicrously lavish extravaganza to mark the 50th birthday of the person whom they wrongly considered to be the most powerful woman in the world. “Dr” Condoleezza Rice, then George W Bush’s disastrously inept national security adviser and now his equally feckless secretary of state, walked into the ambassador’s residence and gasped when she was met by more than a hundred guests lining the curved Lutyens double staircase, applauding fervently and singing “Happy Birthday to You”.

The British ambassador, Sir David Manning, had thought of everything with his team: much to the relief of the woman who had arrived in slacks and a suede jacket, thinking she was going out for dinner with her aunt, Manning and his staff had obtained her measurements beforehand and were able to whisk her away so that she could change into a scarlet ballgown, specially made for the occasion by her favourite designer, Oscar de la Renta. Her very own hairdresser, whom the embassy had also thoughtfully provided, snipped away. And the honoured guest finally joined the throng as Van Cliburn, considered (again wrongly) to be America’s greatest pianist, hammered out the national anthem.

The full extent of the Iraq catastrophe was already beginning to dawn on most of Washington, but the British had always been peculiarly bewitched by Rice – dating back to pre-invasion days when Manning, then Tony Blair’s foreign policy adviser at 10 Downing Street, talked to her practically every day over the transatlantic phone line. Sir Christopher Meyer, Manning’s immediate predecessor, could hardly contain himself when he described Rice a year later in his book DC Confidential: “Extraordinarily gifted . . . can play the piano to a professional standard . . . fine ice-skater . . . brilliant academic career.”

This British lovefest, and the resulting mis calculation of both the abilities and importance of Condoleezza Rice, now seem thoroughly emblematic, in a tragicomic kind of way, of what George W Bush – via the lips of Rory Bremner, I have to say – describes as the Bush-Blair “error”. The British rightly sussed out that Rice was closer personally to Bush than anybody else in the administration. After all, she spent weekends at Camp David and watched football with him, didn’t she? True, very true, but the British government was not sufficiently plugged in to Washington to realise that the Bush administration was hopelessly dysfunctional even before it moved into the White House in January 2001, so much so, that proximity to Bush was virtually valueless from the very beginning.

Flailing around

Bush adopted Rice – black, and a woman – as a kind of mascot for his administration. He is genuinely fond of her, but that doesn’t mean he has ever paid any serious attention to what his inexperienced appointee has had to say. He always listened much more closely to hugely experienced Washington infighters such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom considered foreign policy to be part of their portfolios. As national security adviser, Rice flailed around desperately in the middle, letting both men trample all over her, and took command of US foreign policy away from Colin Powell, theoretically Bush’s secretary of state, and his deputy, Richard Armitage. “The calamitous consequences [of this] are likely to be felt for years to come,” says Zbigniew Brzezinski, US national security adviser himself from 1977-81.

Rumsfeld update: here.

Rice and Lebanon update, 1 November 2010: here.

New Mark Fiore animation on Bush’s Iraq war

About this video from the USA: ‘PoliticsTV filmed the Iraq War protest and march in Washington, DC on Saturday, January 27, 2007. Comments from Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Rep. Conyers, Rep. Nadler, Rep. Waters and Tom Andrews from Win Without War’.

There is a new Mark Fiore animation on the Internet.

It is here.

It is called My Pet Legacy.

It is about George W. Bush’s Iraq war.

Duck, swallow, butterflies

This video is called Ducks, Coots and Geese at the Park:


Tufted ducks (black and white)
Pochard (grey back and a red head)
Mallard (green head)
Canada geese (black necks and heads with white stripe. Weird looking ones are hybrids)
Coot (black with white, pointed beak).

Today in the nature reserve.

In the castle pond, a female tufted duck swimming.

In the canal between the reserve and the meadow to the east, an adult and a young great crested grebe; coots; mallards.

Behind them, a barn swallow flying.

A red admiral; and a speckled wood butterfly.

Native North American art and genocide


From British daily The Guardian, by Brian Brivati:

An unmarked genocide?

A moving exhibition of Native American art reminded me of the extent to which the US is the original genocidal state.

If you are in New York in the next few months there is a small visiting exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian called Listening to Our Ancestors, which is worth a visit. It is an amazing building, the exhibition [and the whole museum] is free and the layout and structure is professional and engaging. The content was extraordinary and something of a revelation to me.

The aesthetic of Native American art has never particularly appealed to me. Many of the masks in the show, and I apologise for the analogy because these are sacred objects, reminded me of Mr Punch – the exaggerated facial features and so on. Others were strikingly original and the images of women flying on the back of birds and a carved canoe were beautiful. There were, however, two aspects of the show that stood out.

The first was the notion of songs in the culture of Native Americans. The tribes represented here were from the north Pacific coast, ancient peoples closely associated with the sea. Images of whales reminded us of the movie Whale Rider. The songs were sacred in the sense that they were given – the songs came. I had never really understood this idea before. The exhibit, however, made it clear that these songs would come to the people who wrote them and the act of their creation was seen as a divine act. The notion of song being given seems to me to be as good an explanation of creativity as any. The coming of the song, like the coming of a poem or a piece of music, cannot be explained so it is turned into a divine act, the coming of a god into the life of the tribe. These songs are then guarded and protected.

The second thing that came out of the exhibition for me only occurred when I read the catalogue back here in London. The objects were all in remarkably good condition. I did not question this as I walked around but afterwards I realised it was because most of them were made in the last hundred years. They were recreations of objects made much earlier that had been collected by the Canadian authorities and shown for a fee in parish halls. To an extent this was not an exhibition of Native American civilisation so much as an exhibition of the reconstruction of that civilisation after its destruction. Not in the sense of an invented tradition but in the sense of rebuilding from the fragments of what remained after a continental genocide. …

We do not teach the genocide of the Native Americans on our comparative module at Kingston [in England]. Nor do we teach the history of slavery or slavery as an instance of genocide. There is another module on slavery in the portfolio. In part the decision to exclude these two US cases was pragmatic – we could not teach everything and we wanted to concentrate on the 20th century. In part this was a necessary restriction because if we opened up the 19th century it could easily have become a module about imperialism and its victims. A worthy module to teach, but different from what we wanted to achieve with the course which was to explore the extent to which “never again” has not been a reality. There were deeper reasons at work as well I think, at least in myself. As I have written here before, I am very fond of the US – its people, its values, its democracy and its freedoms. A colleague has critiqued our choice of cases – Stalin, Hitler, former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Saddam Hussein and Sudan – as being cases in which the west are the good guys, or at least not the perpetrators. This is partially true, though in Rwanda our failure to intervene was a prime cause of the genocide.

Here, Mr Brivati does not mention French imperialist support for genocide in Rwanda; a type of intervention. Hitler’s Germany, of course, by most standards was a ‘Western’ country; and had good relations with ‘Western’ icons like Henry Ford, General Motors, IBM, and the Bush dynasty. Western economic policies laid the groundwork for 1990s violence in (ex-)Yugoslavia; in which Western military invasion killed many civilians. Saddam Hussein had been on the CIA payroll since was young, and killed Kurds with Western poison gas and support. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush has broken Saddam’s records of mass murder and torture in his ‘new’ Iraq. In Sudan, the regime is hand in glove with George W. Bush.

Karl May and the Wild West: here.

Wounded Knee: here.