Imperial woodpecker videos


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA writes about these two videos:

Watch the Only Known Footage of Imperial Woodpecker

In a new study published in The Auk, Cornell Lab scientists have analyzed the only known footage of the Imperial Woodpecker. It was the Ivory-billed Woodpecker‘s closest relative and is now probably extinct. Filmed in 1956 by William L. Rhein in Mexico, the footage shows a female Imperial Woodpecker hitching up the trunks of Durango pines, her extraordinary crest of feathers curving overhead, shaking as she chips at the bark with her bill. See the footage and read more.

See also here.

USA: The red-cockaded woodpecker once thrived in southeast forests. Learn what’s being done to bring it back from the brink: here.

Royal Society archives online


This video from England is called Treasures of the Royal Society Archive – Horizon: Science Under Attack, Preview – BBC Two.

From Nature News Blog:

Royal Society frees up journal archive

October 26, 2011

Ben Franklin’s account of his electric kite experiment (1752) and Isaac Newton’s first ever paper (1672) are among 60,000 historical scientific papers now freely accessible online, after Britain’s Royal Society opened up its journal archive.

The archive goes all the way back to 1665, when Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society first appeared – probably the world’s first peer-reviewed scientific journal. It’s now fully searchable, and all papers published more than 70 years ago are free to view. (You’ll still have to pay for the newer ones).

The BBC picks out some weird and wonderful papers, including the woman who swallowed a bullet (in 1668), and an experimental canine blood transfusion (1666). The archive was digitized in 1999 by JSTOR, the US-based archive for academic journals, for a sum in the ‘high five figures in US dollars’. Royal Society commercial director Stuart Taylor says they have been thinking about making part of the archive free for some time. As digitization of print works gets easier and cheaper, “we do not feel it is justifiable to continue charging for access [to out-of-copyright material]”, Taylor said. The Royal Society’s pay-per-view income for the entire archive (including papers after 1941) amounts to less than 0.5% of their total publishing revenues.

In July, programmer Greg Maxwell uploaded nearly 19,000 articles from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, all of them published before 1923, onto the file-sharing website The Pirate Bay (in stated support for computer coder Aaron Swartz, who is still facing a federal indictment for downloading over 4 million articles from JSTOR). The Royal Society’s release today means that the articles Maxwell uploaded are all now free to view. Maxwell’s action did not affect the Society’s decision, says Taylor.

Posted by Richard Van Noorden on October 26, 2011

Pygmy hippo and zebra born in Rotterdam zoo


This video from an Australian zoo says about itself:

Baby pygmy hippopotomus Monifa takes her first swim, watched by her Taronga Park Zoo keeper.

On 18 October, a pygmy hippo was born in Rotterdam zoo.

Early, this week a Chapman’s zebra foal was born there as well.

Fieldfares in Dutch nature reserve


This is a fieldfare video.

Now, many migratory fieldfares have arrived in Dutch nature reserve Nieuwkoopse Plassen.

Their favourite food there are black chokeberries, which are ripe now. This is not a native shrub species. It was imported from North America. First to gardens, and it spread from there.

Fieldfare photos: here. And here.

Bahrain dictatorship tortures Canadian


This video is about torture in Bahrain.

From the Toronto Star in Canada:

Canadian jailed for protesting in Bahrain

Tue Oct 25 2011

Josh Tapper
Staff Reporter

Naser al-Raas remembers the cramped office, the beatings, and the small gun pointed at his head. He remembers the cables used to tie his hands behind a chair and the blindfold fastened around his face.

He remembers the ambush at Bahrain International Airport on March 20, just as he was preparing to present his Canadian passport to customs and fly to Kuwait, where he was born.

He remembers three mock executions held under the desert sun. And he remembers the dingy cell in the notorious Al Qala prison, where he said he spent more than a month in solitary confinement, beaten and electrocuted daily, the screams of other tortured prisoners echoing through the halls.

Now on Wednesday, nearly six months after he was inexplicably released from that cell, authorities are set to enter his in-laws’ home in Bahrain — where he is staying with his Bahraini fiancée Zainab — and steer him to prison, for a five-year term for participating in antiregime demonstrations that swept the country beginning in February. At least 30 people have been reported killed in the crackdown.

Al-Raas was sentenced by a civilian court Tuesday for violating Bahrain’s illegal-assembly laws. A defence lawyer in Bahrain said he was one of 13 people sentenced to jail terms for links to anti-government protests and unrest in the Gulf kingdom.

The 28-year-old lived in Ottawa from 1996 to 2000, and his mother and brother are still there. He now works as an IT specialist in Kuwait.

Al-Raas had arrived in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain on March 6 amid a countrywide crackdown on Shiites protesting against the Sunni monarchy.

“I didn’t chant against the government; it’s not my business,” he told the Star. “The country was in chaos.”

But when he tried to return to Kuwait two weeks later, he said, he was whisked away by men from Bahrain’s National Security Agency, an intelligence wing of the Ministry of the Interior.

Over the course of his imprisonment, al-Raas said he was beaten daily with a rubber hose. He also suffered excruciating chest pain. Al-Raas has pulmonary hypertension, a heart and lung condition.

His torture in Bahrain is recorded in a medical report filed by Doctors Without Borders obtained by the Star.

When he was released on April 28, al-Raas stripped off his prisoners’ garb and put on the Ottawa Senators T-shirt he’d worn to the airport. He said he made a forced on-camera confession to spying for the Iranian government. Then he was dumped in the street outside the prison, given back his glasses and wallet and told to take a taxi home.

“It was like science fiction,” he said.

Over the next month he petitioned Bahraini officials for his passport, which had been taken during his arrest. When, finally, officials told him to retrieve his passport on June 7, he said he was arrested and beaten again, and this time warned not to contact Canadian authorities.

He was charged that day in the kidnapping of a Bahraini police officer, an accusation he denies, and taken to a military court. He was eventually acquitted on Oct. 4.

But before then, he was also hit with civil charges for “gathering” and “spreading false news.” The guilty verdict and five-year sentence were handed down Tuesday.

Whether or not al-Raas joined protesters, his sentence violates his “fundamental rights to human expression,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

During his military trials, al-Raas said he received regular visits from Canada’s consul in Saudi Arabia, Michael Erdman, but couldn’t get a new passport to leave the country. Canada does not have diplomatic representation in Bahrain.

Neve said he raised al-Raas’ case with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s office earlier this month.

“While it’s clear the Canadian government has been giving the case some attention, there’s no indication it’s been given high-level attention,” Neve said. “That’s what we’re looking for now with a verdict in.”

The foreign affairs ministry did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Unsure of his fate, al-Raas hopes his case will bring to light human rights abuses in Bahrain.

“I know how people suffer,” he said. “I know what dictatorship means now. When you hear a man being tortured till he dies, it’s worse than being tortured.”

A Canadian who says he was tortured while detained in a Bahrain prison fears he will die in custody when he returns to jail this week to begin serving a five-year sentence: here.

Help Free Tortured Bahraini Teacher Jaleela Al-Salman: here.

BAHRAIN: Female teacher re-arrest exposes human rights abuse as others recount torture: here.

INTERVIEW: Bahrain’s main opposition group targets “fake democracy”: here.

USA: Congress backs Bahrain protesters when the White House won’t: here.

Bahrain: 17 malicious cases and jail terms for 96-years for prisoner of conscience, Sheikh Mohammed Habib Almiqdad: here.

Bahraini royal adviser to powerful prime minister accused in $6m bribe case: here.