Hard times for animals in Iraq

In the video from the USA

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert speaks on war, race issues, and the erosion of basic rights.

Like in Afghanistan … from Inter Press Service:

Iraq: Animals Too Struggle For Survival

By Ali al-Fadhily & Dahr Jamail

06 June, 2008

FALLUJAH – Amidst the huge and growing death toll, it has been easy to forget that animals, in their own way, are finding it hard to survive in Iraq.

Like human beings, animals find it very hard to stay alive now,” Dr. Sammy Hashim, a veterinarian who lives and works west of Baghdad, between Fallujah and the capital city, told IPS. “Naturally, no one cares for the poor animals when nobody seems to care even for human beings under the occupation.”

Dr. Hashim said animals cannot get basic needs. “Good drinking water, good feed, vet care and medicines are all unavailable in Iraq since the U.S. occupation of the country began in the spring of 2003. When we complain to the government, they laugh at us, saying humans are first priority.”

Farmers seem to have lost hope for the future of their animals. “We treat animals like our own children,” Hamdiya Alwan, 50-year-old widow of a farmer in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad told IPS. “We were brought up to treat animals in the best way possible, but now it is getting very hard.

“It costs a lot to keep a cow or a few sheep with prices of feed so high, and agriculture in such bad shape. Of the six cows and 30 heads of sheep that we had before my husband was killed in 2004, I only have one cow and four heads of sheep now.”

Chicken farm owners have their own agonies. “It was good business, and a real support during the times of the sanctions (the UN-imposed economic sanctions on Iraq 1990-2003),” Hajji Jassim from the Saqlawiya area near Fallujah, 60 km west of Baghdad told IPS. “The support (subsidies) we got from our legitimate (previous) government was reflected in the prices of chicken meat.”

Jassim added, “Now it is impossible to work, with no electricity and no support whatsoever. This situation simply finished our business, and the government seems not to care at all for such a great loss.”

Some political leaders see this too, as a part of a plan to ruin the Iraqi economy. “The U.S. occupation has destroyed everything in Iraq, and this is part of the comprehensive plan of destruction,” a member of the al-Anbar provincial council in Fallujah, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the environment of fear, told IPS.

“The Americans could have continued the support to farmers given by the former regime to keep our farming industry running, but they deliberately stopped all kinds of support in order to destroy it, just like they did with our army and all the good things we had.” …

In her book ‘The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism‘, Canadian journalist and author Naomi Klein wrote that the U.S. followed up its ‘shock and awe’ bombing campaign with “shock therapy — mass privatisation, complete free trade, a 15 percent flat tax, a dramatically downsized government.” This policy has taken its toll on farms and the livestock business.

Signalling worse to come, the ministry of water resources announced May 22 that the country is suffering from water shortages that could lead to widespread drought.

Jerusalem’s golden butterfly, a new species

Melitaea phoebe telona, the old name

From Wildlife Extra:

New butterfly species declared in Israel.

Jerusalem Fritillary named.

June 2008. The beautiful orange-golden nymphalide was first discovered a hundred years ago, in 1908, by the German entomologist Fruhstorfer who classified it as a subspecies named telona.

However scientific research conducted in recent years demonstrated that this butterfly is actually a distinct species and not a subspecies as previously thought. Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister declared the new name chosen for the butterfly during the 25th anniversary of the Israeli Lepidopterists Society: Jerusalem’s Golden Butterfly.

The minister reiterated the Environmental Protection’s Ministry’s commitment to biodiversity conservation: “Israel is located on a crossroads between three continents and is characterized by different climatic zones. It contains some 113 species of butterflies, despite its small size,” said the minister. “The fast development and use of land threaten at least a quarter of these species of butterflies.”

Rope bridge helps Australian wildlife cross dangerous road

This video from Australia is called Ring-tail Possum In Tree Fern.

From Big News Network, from Australia:

Wild animals use rope bridge to safety

IANS Friday 6th June, 2008

A 70-metre rope bridge strung across a busy highway in Victoria is helping locals cross over safely – only the locals in this case are wild animals.

Yes, researchers have reported that endangered local species have indeed started using what has been dubbed the world’s first “wildlife rope-bridge”, thus avoiding accidents that were killing and maiming many.

“We have early proof that our native animals are regularly crossing the rope bridge over the Hume Highway near Benalla and many other animals are investigating the bridge,” said Rodney van der Ree of the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (Arcue).

“Native animals have acclimatised to the 70-metre bridge and are using it to cross the highway to find food, shelter and mates,” van der Ree was quoted as saying in a statement.

Since June last year, researchers have observed 50 crossings of ringtail possums and almost as many partial crossings, seven partial crossings of brushtail possums and four partial crossings by squirrel gliders.

Van der Ree said the results for the squirrel glider are particularly encouraging as they are faced with the threat of extinction in the provinces of Victoria and New South Wales.

“The animal moves by gliding from tree to tree so where there are large gaps in tree cover, such as roads, it is unable to cross,” said van der Ree.

Relying on specially installed cameras at both ends of the rope-bridge which record the time and date on each photograph, the researchers established which animals were making an attempt and which are making it all the way across the bridge.

“We have also gathered information on other species, for which the rope bridge wasn’t originally intended, such as cockatoos, magpies and ravens, the occasional gecko, and large spiders, so this is a bonus,” said Kylie Soanes of the University of Melbourne.

See also, more extensively, here.

The rope construction differs from nature bridges elsewhere, like in Crailo in the Netherlands. The basic idea is the same, however.

Guardian resources about animals: here.

Nature bridges in the Netherlands: here. And here.

Hope for survival as isolated orangutans joined by rope bridge: here.

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Britain’s rarest spider makes comeback

Ladybird spider

From Wildlife Extra:

June 2008. By the early nineties the ladybird spider had almost been wiped out in Britain due to habitat loss, but now Forestry Commission wildlife experts are celebrating its burgeoning come-back. In 1993 it was thought there were as few as only 50 ladybird spiders left in the country.

The species‘ last stronghold in the South West was a 50-metre-wide patch of heath deep in a Forestry Commission woodland where around 30 individuals still survived. The foresters’ battle to save the spiders began when they cleared rhodendron and pines from around the site to give them more breeding room. By 1996 conservationists counted 139 ladybird spider burrows as the arachnids began expanding out across the area.

Forester Laurence Degoul, said: “Now we are looking for completely new habitats into which spiders from the site can be relocated. Thanks to our extensive heathland restoration work in the county there are a lot of places to choose from. But it is crucial that we pick a spot where the conditions are absolutely perfect.”

See also here.

Ladybird spider to be released into new areas by conservationists: here.

The ladybird spider – so called for its bright red body covered in black spots – was on the brink of extinction in the mid 1990s when a single colony of just 56 individuals was left in the UK. Since then conservationists have been helping it to spread further afield – and earlier this month it was released into one of the most diverse insect and spider habitats in the country at the RSPB’s Arne reserve in Dorset: here.

Harlequin ladybird invasion could endanger 1000 native UK species: here.

Rare moth re-discovered in Scottish Highlands

 Ethmia pyraustaFrom Wildlife Extra:

Very rare and elusive moth re-discovered by accident in the Scottish Highlands.

During a Moth Count training session at Aigas Field Centre in Inverness-shire, Andy Scott and Margaret Currie produced pictures of a moth for identification. Workshop leaders, Mark Young and Roy Leverton, instantly recognised it as the fabulously rare Ethmia pyrausta, an almost mythical species of the Highlands.

The black winged and orange bodied Ethmia pyrausta was first recorded in the Shin Valley in 1853, and must have survived unseen in the area ever since. Apart from the original 1853 specimen, only four others have ever been found in the UK. Two were found in 1996 on the top of Glas Maol in the Cairngorms with a further two since found nearby. The caterpillars have never been found in Britain.

This one was rescued from a spider’s web near Loch Morie – close to the site of the 1853 sighting. Previous to this discovery, there were doubts that the species still lived in The Highlands at all.

Mark Young said: “It is now up to us to try and find out where the moth breeds and to make sure that its habitat is safe. Hopefully, it can survive there for the next 155 years.”

Talking about moths; also from Wildlife Extra:

June 2008. A rare half male and half female moth has emerged in the pupae nursery at the Natural History Museum‘s Amazing Butterflies exhibition. The left wings of the gynandromorph Antheraea frithi moth look female and the right wings look male, with a definite dividing line running along the moth’s body. Moths and butterflies have a short life span, so visitors will be able to see this rare star at Amazing Butterflies for a short time only. It will then form part of the Museum’s world class, 9 million strong Lepidoptera collection.

Rare pine hoverfly to be reintroduced to the Cairngorms: here.

Bush misused Iraq intelligence, US Senate says


This video from the USA is called WMD – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice caught lying.

From “Jack” miscStonecutter@earthlink.net in the USA:

I know this is not news to those of us with IQs higher than room temperature, but what is important here is that this is now becoming the official position of the US government [legislative branch].

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they grind finely.

See you at the War Crimes trials.


Bush misused Iraq intelligence: Senate report

by Randall Mikkelsen [Reuters]

Thu Jun 5, 1:23 PM ET

President George W. Bush and his top policymakers misstated Saddam Hussein’s links to terrorism and ignored doubts among intelligence agencies about Iraq‘s arms programs as they made a case for war, the Senate intelligence committee reported on Thursday.

The report shows an administration that “led the nation to war on false premises,” said the committee’s Democratic Chairman, Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia. Several Republicans on the committee protested its findings as a “partisan exercise.”

The committee studied major speeches by Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials in advance of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, and compared key assertions with intelligence available at the time.

Statements that Iraq had a partnership with al Qaeda were wrong and unsupported by intelligence, the report said.

It said that Bush’s and Cheney’s assertions that Saddam was prepared to arm terrorist groups with weapons of mass destruction for attacks on the United States contradicted available intelligence.

Such assertions had a strong resonance with a U.S. public, still reeling after al Qaeda‘s September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Polls showed that many Americans believed Iraq played a role in the attacks, even long after Bush acknowledged in September 2003 that there was no evidence Saddam was involved.

The report also said administration prewar statements on Iraq’s weapons programs were backed up in most cases by available U.S. intelligence, but officials failed to reflect internal debate over those findings, which proved wrong.


The long-delayed Senate study supported previous reports and findings that the administration’s main cases for war — that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was spreading them to terrorists — were inaccurate and deeply flawed.

“The president and his advisors undertook a relentless public campaign in the aftermath of the (September 11) attacks to use the war against al Qaeda as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein,” Rockefeller said in written commentary on the report.

“Representing to the American people that the two had an operational partnership and posed a single, indistinguishable threat was fundamentally misleading and led the nation to war on false premises.”

A statement to Congress by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the Iraqi government hid weapons of mass destruction in facilities underground was not backed up by intelligence information, the report said. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said Rumsfeld‘s comments should be investigated further, but he stopped short of urging a criminal probe.

The committee voted 10-5 to approve the report, with two Republican lawmakers supporting it. Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri and three other Republican panel members denounced the study in an attached dissent.


U.S. public opinion on the war, supportive at first, has soured, contributing to a dive in Bush’s popularity.

The conflict is likely to be a key issue in the November presidential election between Republican John McCain, who supports the war, and Democrat Barack Obama, who opposed the war from the start and says he would aim to pull U.S. troops out within 16 months of taking office in January 2009.

Rockefeller has announced his support for Obama.

The administration’s record in making its case for Iraq has also been cited by critics of Bush’s get-tough policy on Iran. They accuse Bush of overstating the potential threat of Iran’s nuclear program in order to justify the possible use of force.

A second report by the committee faulted the administration’s handling of December 2001 Rome meetings between defense officials and Iranian informants, which dealt with the Iran issue. It said department officials failed to share intelligence from the meeting, which Rockefeller said demonstrated a “fundamental disdain” for other intelligence agencies.

See also Jason Leopold on this.

And Barry Grey.

And Arianna Huffington.

See also here.

The White House on Thursday backed off its repeated claim that “the entire world” had the same pre-war intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorists: here.

Did Iranian agents dupe Pentagon officials? Here.