British cartoonist Rowson and literary history


This video from Britain is called In the Picture – Cartoonist of the Year – Martin Rowson.

By James Eagle in Britain:

The Limerickiad Volume II: John Donne To Jane Austen

by Martin Rowson, Smokestack Books, £9.99

Monday 03 December 2012

The irrepressible skewerer of humbug and hypocrisy picks up where he left off a year ago with the second volume of his five-lines-at-a-time romp through the literary classics.

Having zoomed all the way from Gilgamesh to Shakespeare in the first book, this time Martin Rowson’s given himself just 200 years to play in.

But it’s a tumultuous two centuries taking in John Milton, the metaphysical poets, the Romantics, Tristram Shandy and Frenchmen both scatological and revolutionary, plus Gulliver’s Travels, which Rowson has already had one stab at this year in the shape of his illustrated modern retelling.

The pace never flags as Rowson delivers a tumbling torrent of twisted puns and tortured scansion in which “Midlothian” can’t help but rhyme with “Govean” or “Quixote” with “smacked botty”, and you’ll find yourself having to keep stopping because you’re laughing too hard to try to force the lines into the right meter.

Don’t let the groansome versifying fool you, though.

The man knows his stuff when it comes to the currents of literature and there’s plenty of insight and savage wit amid the mayhem.

Rowson’s at his best when he’s having the most fun and though sometimes those targets are obvious – the sex-obsessed Donne and de Sade and the misanthropic Dr Johnson, for starters – some are pleasingly unpredictable.

He spends a lot more time playing brilliantly with Jane Austen’s tedious romances than with drug-addled radicals like Coleridge and William Blake who might have seemed right up his street.

Paradise Lost gets the extended treatment as Rowson pulls off the rare feat of making Milton’s interminable mitherings not only readable but hilarious.

But those are just a handful of the highlights in another must-have for the bookish, the cynical and gourmets of deliberately dreadful verse.

Blog of the Year 2012 award, thanks Mridula!


Blog of the Year Award 5 star jpeg

Oh Mridula, you are so kind, to grace Dear Kitty. Some blog with the “Blog of the Year 2012″  Award.

It is the fifth time, the fifth star, for this award for this blog.

We really appreciate you thinking of us. If you have not met Mridula yet, then please check out this blog, with its interesting fiction stories, here.

The “Blog of the Year” award is a little different from some other awards, because you accumulate stars.

Here are the ‘rules’ for this award:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/ and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience [I cannot join that group as I am not on Facebook].

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

6 stars image

Yes – that’s right – there are stars to collect!

Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once – this award is different!

When you begin you will receive the ‘1 star’ award – and every time you are given the award by another blog – you can add another star!

There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

Which means that you can check out your favourite blogs, and even if they have already been given the award by someone else, then you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!

For more information check the FAQ on The Thought Palette.

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I want to give this award to so many blog friends that I don’t know where to start. I will very probably forget many deserving blogs. Please keep passing it on and keep the star shine going for blog years and years to come.

Here are my nominees, in no particular order:

1. Bird Watching with Marie Louise

2. Gabriel I Photography

3. Afternoon Popcorn Snack

4. 1001 Scribbles

5. hovercraftdoggy

6. hellboy2503′s Foto-Blog

7. turkischland

8. Portland’s Writer Girl

Rare squid and pomfret on Dutch beach


Sagittal quid on Dutch Vlieland beach

The blog of the forestry service on Vlieland island in the Netherlands reports a rare squid, stranded on the beach, yesterday 4 December.

It was a sagittal squid. The first time for that species on that island this year. On nearby Texel island, three specimens have beached so far this year.

In November, an Atlantic pomfret beached on Vlieland. Though this fish, usually living in Atlantic Ocean depths, is rare in the Netherlands as well, it does occur every year.

British soldiers accused of murdering Afghan teenagers


This video is called Axis of Willing ‘Liberation’ Has Afghanistan Decaying.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

British forces accused of killing four teenagers in Afghan operation

Boys were targeted at close range witnesses claim, as defence secretary asked to launch urgent inquiry

Richard Norton-Taylor and Nick Hopkins

Tuesday 4 December 2012 20.42 GMT

The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, has been asked to launch an urgent inquiry into claims that British forces led a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan during which a 12-year-old boy and three teenagers were shot dead while they were drinking tea.

Lawyers acting for the brother of two of the victims have written to Hammond describing an incident on 18 October in the village of Loi Bagh in Nad Ali, Helmand province, where British forces have been based since 2006.

According to statements given to the lawyers by other family members and witnesses, the operation involved Afghan and UK forces, but it was British soldiers – possibly special forces – who were said to have been in the lead.

“We submit that all of the victims were under the control and authority of the UK at the times of the deaths and ill-treatment,” states the letter to Hammond.

“The four boys killed all appear to have been deliberately targeted at close range by British forces. All were killed in a residential area over which UK forces clearly had the requisite degree of control and authority.”

The four victims are named as Fazel Mohammed, 18, Naik Mohammed, 16, Mohammed Tayeb, 14 and Ahmed Shah, 12.

Britain contributes soldiers to Nato’s International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf), which has already confirmed that an operation took place in the village on that date.

The incident has been reported in the Afghan media. Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for Nato-led forces in Afghanistan, confirmed the “joint Afghan-coalition forces” operation in Nad Ali on 18 October. He said the result was the “killing of four Taliban enemies in action”. That claim is rejected by relatives of the victims.

Military sources also said it was unusual for UK forces to take the lead in operations of this kind because the Afghans are supposed to be in control as part of the transition process. The MoD said it would give the claims “full consideration before responding”.

According to a statement sent to Hammond on Tuesday by Tessa Gregory, lawyer for Noor Mohammad Noorzai, brother of two of the dead youths, the boys were “shot and killed at close range” in a family guesthouse. Gregory, of the law firm Public Interest Lawyers, obtained written sworn statements from witnesses in a visit to Afghanistan last month. They allege that British soldiers, who were engaged in a joint operation with Afghan forces, hooded some of those arrested despite a ban on the practice.

“The soldiers walked through the village calling at various houses asking to be told where the claimant’s brother Fazel Mohammed lived”, says Gregory’s statement. “It is alleged that the soldiers entered the house of a neighbour dragged him from his bed, hooded him and his son and beat them until under questioning they showed the soldiers the house of Fazel which was across the street.”

According to the document sent to Hammond, the families and neighbours “reject outright any suggestion that any of the four teenagers killed were in any way connected to the insurgency. All four were innocent teenagers who posed no threat whatsoever to Afghan or British forces”.

Gregory told the Guardian: “On 18 October 2012, during a joint British-Afghan security operation, four innocent Afghan teenagers were shot whilst drinking tea in their family’s mud home in Helmand province. Our client, the elder brother of two of the teenage victims, wants to know why this happened. As far as we are aware no investigation into these tragic deaths has taken place. We hope that in light of our urgent representations the Ministry of Defence will act swiftly to ensure that an effective and independent investigation is carried out without any further delay.”

In her statement to Hammond, Gregory says: “After the soldiers left, the claimant’s family and some neighbours entered the “guesthouse” where they found the bodies of the four teenagers lying in a line with their heads towards the doorway”.

The statement adds: “It was clear that the bodies had been dragged into that position and all had been shot in the head and neck region as they sat on the floor of the guesthouse leaning against the wall drinking tea..”

Gregory says the British soldiers involved in the operation are bound by the European Convention of Human Rights which enshrines the right to life and outlaws inhumane treatment. Unless the MoD could show it has carried out a full investigation, lawyers representing the victims’ families will ask the high court to order one.

Helping British butterflies


This video says about itself:

A short video on the lifecycle of the Marsh Fritillary butterfly, an endangered species that the Irish Peatland Conservation Council have on our site in Lullymore West, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

From Wildlife Extra:

Butterfly survival blueprint unveiled

December 2012. Restoring and joining up habitat will prevent the UK’s threatened butterflies and moths from becoming extinct in the future, a ground-breaking report has revealed.

For the first time, the report by Butterfly Conservation provides concrete evidence that projects aimed at conserving butterflies and moths at a landscape-scale have enabled threatened species to flourish after decades of decline.

Whole landscape conservation

A landscape-scale approach works by improving and connecting land for wildlife by the coordinated conservation management of numerous sites for a range of species across a large natural area. The report, Landscape-scale conservation for butterflies and moths: lessons from the UK, also shows that measures to conserve rare butterflies and moths have helped other threatened species as well as the habitats in which they live.

Butterflies in decline

Butterflies are the most threatened wildlife group; more than three-quarters of Britain’s 57 resident species are declining and over 40% are listed as Priorities for Conservation. More than 80 moth species are also at risk. Most threatened species are now confined to small patches of habitat that have been left isolated within the modern intensively managed countryside.

12 landscape scale projects

For over a decade, Butterfly Conservation has adopted a landscape-scale approach to conserving these areas in order to manage existing habitats more effectively and link them with newly restored habitats. This combination of targeted management and restoration has allowed many species to flourish in each of the 12 landscapes covered in the report.

Small blue

Examples include the Small Blue in Warwickshire which has increased from a low of three to eight colonies in just three years.

Marsh fritillary increased by 1000%

The numbers of Marsh Fritillary in one Dartmoor valley have increased by more than 1000% in five years and the number of Pearl-bordered Fritillary colonies in the Wyre Forest in the West Midlands doubled in ten years.

The report lends weight to the recent Government paper by ecologist Professor Sir John Lawton Making Space for Nature which states that we must make habitats far bigger, better managed and more connected if species are to survive in the future.

Sir John said: “The Butterfly Conservation report shows what can be achieved through a highly focused species-led approach. Very simply ‘more, bigger, better and joined’ works, and needs to be rolled out far more widely. Recreating, restoring and joining up habitats benefits not just butterflies and moths, but a host of other creatures with which they share their habitat.”

Dr Sam Ellis, Butterfly Conservation Head of Regions, said: “Our report shows that landscape-scale conservation works for our most threatened species. We now need to raise the funds to implement landscape projects across the UK to halt the dramatic decline of butterflies and moths.”

Butterfly Conservation is calling on government to provide more funding for landscape-scale initiatives and targeted species conservation in order to reverse the decline in biodiversity and achieve the government’s 2020 targets on biodiversity.

Key lessons from landscape-scale conservation

The report lists a series of important lessons that need to be learnt to allow this approach to be effective in reversing the decline of other wildlife groups.
Careful targeting of management, both across the site network and within each site, is essential to maximise the chances of success.
Extinction of species on small, isolated sites need not be inevitable if they are properly managed. Landscape-scale conservation can be applied across quite small areas.
Skilled project officers are essential, providing the link between landowners and managers, partner organisations, funders, contractors and volunteers.
Landscape-scale projects must be underpinned by sound ecological research and high quality monitoring to assess their effectiveness.
Projects focused on a single butterfly or moth can and do benefit a suite of other species which have broadly similar habitat requirements.
Short-term funding (e.g. Landfill Communities Fund) is invaluable for the restoration phase of landscape-scale projects, but well designed agri-environment and woodland grant schemes are needed to sustain success.
The maintenance of existing high quality habitat is more cost effective in the long run than restoration management of sites which have become badly degraded.
Landscape-scale conservation always involves partnership working through a shared vision and action on the ground.

The report Landscape-scale conservation for butterflies and moths: lessons from the UK is available from the Butterfly Conservation website.