Hungarian Danube threatened by pollution disaster


This video is called Hungary sludge flood called ‘ecological disaster’.

Emergency workers poured into the Hungarian towns hardest hit by a flood of toxic sludge yesterday in a desperate attempt to clear roads and homes of acres of deep red mud and caustic water: here.

Hungary sludge ‘nearing Danube‘: Toxic waste enters Raba river, which meets one of Europe’s main waterways: here.

Danube hit by Hungary sludge: red toxic mud reaches famous river: here.

Bird migration on Texel island


This is a shore lark video.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel, the Netherlands:

Birds flood Texel – 10/05/1910

The dike on the northern tip of Texel was full of them, tens of thousands of song thrushes [see also here] almost literally were falling from the sky. Additionally, bird photographer René Pop and other birders counted some 200 ring ouzel, many redwings, chaffinches, starlings, siskin and meadow pipits. Sil Boon, skipper of De Vriendschap, even had a remarkable stowaway: in Vlieland, a shore lark came on board. Arriving on Texel, he flew back to land … a little further south. Obviously, the bird migration is in full swing.

Britain: Swainson’s thrush, Syke’s warblers, myrtle warbler and a red-eyed vireo… more migration news on the blog: here.

What is the most beautiful songbird in the world? If we mean ‘musical to our ears’, then surely one of our favourites would be the Malabar Whistling Thrush, Myophonus horsfieldii, of India: here.

A single Golden Pipit has been showing well all week at the Pongola Nature Reserve. Its a bird from north-eastern Africa with a large range, it is found in the Sudan, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, but certainly a rare vagrant here in Southern Africa. From the Rarities SA website this bird has only been recorded 12 times since the first time in 1906: here.

Saving Panamanian golden frogs


This video is about Panamanian golden frogs.

From the Baltimore Sun in the USA:

Maryland Zoo finds success in breeding endangered golden frogs

Panamanian amphibians victims of deadly fungus

By Frank D. Roylance, The Baltimore Sun

11:39 p.m. EDT, October 5, 2010

Working for a decade, almost entirely out of public view, staffers at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore have made the institution the nation’s largest breeder and shipper of the endangered Panamanian golden frog.

On Tuesday, 25 of the tiny, yellow-and-black amphibians were packed with wet paper towels in 13 pint-sized deli cups. The cups were set into a comfy nest of crumpled newspapers inside a Styrofoam box labeled “Live Amphibians!” The frogs were then driven to BWI-Marshall Airport for a 10-hour trip to the Fort Worth Zoo, in two hops on Delta Airlines jets.

There’s another shipment of 20 frogs flying out later this week to the Oakland Zoo in California. And 10 more shipments are planned as the zoo works to save a species that is now likely extinct in its native Panamanian cloud forests, a victim of a deadly fungus.

The Maryland Zoo’s work is part of a wider effort, coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, to propagate the frogs in captivity so that their descendants might one day be returned to the wild in Panama.

Although the La Loma tree frog, Hyloscirtus colymba, is notoriously difficult to care for in captivity, the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is the first to successfully breed this species: here.

Harlequin Frog Could Go Extinct in Panama: here.

Archbishop accused of child abuse


This video says about itself:

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is a volunteer self-help organization of survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters.

This time, not a Baptist bishop … or a Roman Catholic archbishop.

From the Toronto Sun in Canada:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Church leader steps down amid abuse probe

By QMI Agency

TORONTO – The Canadian archbishop of the Orthodox Church of America has stepped down for three months pending an investigation by Winnipeg police.

The New York headquarters of the church issued a release Sunday to say Archbishop Seraphim Storheim of Ottawa is being investigated after a complaint of misconduct from about 25 years ago.

“I have blessed the church’s office for review of sexual misconduct allegations to work in conjunction with the Canadian police authorities … in order to obtain the necessary information needed to bring about a proper resolution,” Metropolitan Jonah said in a statement from the Orthodox Church of America (OCA).

A U.S. organization called SNAP, which says on its website it helps survivors of abuse in the Orthodox churches, said Storheim is accused of sexually assaulting two 10-year-old boys more than 20 years ago and the allegations resurfaced in the fall of 2008 when a clergyman filed a written report with the national church.

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) co-founder Cappy Larson said the church knew about the allegations when they happened, but did nothing.

“It breaks our hearts that the OCA was so slow to act and that kids were needlessly kept at risk for months/years,” Larson said in a release on the website pokrov.org.

Fellow co-founder Melanie Jula Sakoda added she is “upset” by the use of the word “misconduct when, in fact, it’s childhood sexual abuse that is being alleged.”

Sakoda adds it’s “negligent and tragic” that Storheim was never suspended.

In a letter to the OCA in 2009, SNAP also noted Storheim sent a letter of apology to the two alleged victims.

Winnipeg police are investigating allegations against the archbishop, a police source confirmed. No charges have been laid.

Storheim was the rector at Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg between 1984 and 1987, the time of the alleged assaults. He has also worked in Edmonton, London, Ont.; the U.S and Finland.

“He is being investigated. That is all I can say,” said Konstantin Afanasiev, a member of the Winnipeg church’s council.

Storheim was elected ruling bishop in 1990 and archbishop in 2007. He currently lives south of Ottawa.

See also here. And here.

New Rembrandt painting discovered in Rotterdam


Rembrandt, Tobias and his wife

From Kunstpedia blog in the Netherlands:

Rembrandt discovered in depot of museum

* By: Kunstpedia Administrator
* 6-10-2010

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam discovered a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn titled “Tobias and his wife” in their depot.

In preparation of an exhibition which would be held in Japan the painting, supposedly painted by a pupil of Rembrandt van Rijn, was ready to be restored. The Rembrandt specialist Ernst van de Wetering however discovered and conformed that without doubt the painting is by the master himself.

Painted in 1659 it shows a man and woman in front of a fireplace. Rembrandt painted the scene over a still-life, which barely shows through the thin layer of paint in certain areas.

The work of art shows, amongst others, resemblances with Rembrandts etching “Peter and John Healing the Cripple” from 1659. Van de Wetering furthermore comments that the position of the two figures, the manner in which they are placed in the scene and the feeling for detail all indicate that the painting is by Rembrandt van Rijn.

As from Friday 8 October 2010, the new discovery will be on display in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen for a month, before the masterpiece will be restored.

See also here. And here.

Rembrandt Scholar’s Lecture a Disorganized Ramble: here.

New dinosaur discovery in the USA


This video is called Clash of the Dinosaurs: The Defenders – Sauropod Super Stomach.

From LiveScience:

Most Dinosaurs More Like Barney Than T. Rex

By Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience Contributor

posted: 05 October 2010 07:27 pm ET

Dinosaurs might not have been the mighty conquerors that everyone thinks they were.

Instead of overwhelming the world with force, dinosaurs might have instead moved in when no one was looking.

Conventional wisdom suggests that soon after dinosaurs originated in what is now South America, they rapidly invaded every corner of the world, defeating their rivals by virtue of strength to rule for about 160 million years.

Now, however, a new species of dinosaur suggests that instead of overpowering weaker species, dinosaurs came into dominance by taking advantage of a catastrophe that wiped out the competition.

“We used to think of dinosaurs as fierce creatures that out-competed everyone else,” said researcher Timothy Rowe, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Texas at Austin. “Now we’re starting to see that’s not really the case.”

The new dinosaur, named Sarahsaurus, was a 14-foot-long, 250-pound (4.2 meters, 113 kilograms) sauropodomorph, a relatively small ancestor of sauropods, the largest animals to ever walk the Earth. The dinosaur lived about 190 million years ago in a setting much like today’s Nile Valley, with lush vegetation on either side of a river and barren desert just beyond.

Rowe and his colleagues discovered the creature in Arizona in 1997. Excavating it proved hard, as the site was in the high desert and prone to windstorms. Since the researchers could not reach the site by car, they had to spend days lugging chunks of the rock-encased fossil back to camp.

“It was a rigorous challenge, the kind I love,” Rowe told LiveScience.

Ten million years before Sarahsaurus lived, one of the five greatest mass extinctions in Earth’s history, the Triassic-Jurassic event, wiped out many potential competitors of dinosaurs. The researchers now reveal that Sarahsaurus and two other early sauropodomorphs migrated to North America in separate waves long after that extinction. At the same time, none migrated there before the extinction.

“They were humbler, more opportunistic creatures,” Rowe added of dinosaurs. “They didn’t invade the neighborhood. They waited for the residents to leave and when no one was watching, they moved in.”

“It’s the story of a recovery after a great extinction,” Rowe said. “That’s what makes it poignant for me — it’s a portent of our future. We’re undergoing an immense extinction right now, and by examining the fossil record, we could get a good predictor of our future.”

Rowe was also intrigued by the new dinosaur’s hands.

“Its hand is smaller than my hand, but if you line the base of the thumbs up, this small hand is much more powerfully built than my hand and it has these big claws,” he said. “It’s a very strange animal. It’s doing something with its hands that involved great strength and power.”

“They may have been digging up roots or ripping apart rotten logs looking for small creatures,” Rowe explained. “These animals are often thought of as herbivores, but I’m not so sure of that.”

Sarahsaurus also had physical traits usually associated with gigantic animals. For example, its thigh bones were long and straight like pillars, yet were not much larger than a human’s thigh bones.

“Some of the features we thought were tied to gigantism might instead be linked with the forceful way of life,” Rowe said. “You could imagine they fastened onto things with their front and rear legs and arched their backs to tear things apart.”

The researchers plan on scanning the fossils in greater detail to learn more about how the dinosaurs behaved.

They detailed their findings online Oct. 6 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

See also here. And here.