How Canadian beetles survive winter


The antifreeze protein (blue) of fire-coloured beetle larva changes the dynamics of water on the ice-binding surface with threonine side chains (green); © Konrad Meister

From Biology News Net:

Dance of water molecules turns fire-colored beetles into antifreeze artists

January 2, 2013 02:35 PM

Certain plants and animals protect themselves against temperatures below freezing with antifreeze proteins.

How the larva of the beetle Dendroides canadensis manages to withstand temperatures down to -30 degrees Celsius is reported by an international team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Martina Havenith from the Department of Physical Chemistry II at the Ruhr-Universität in the journal PNAS.

Together with American colleagues, the RUB-researchers showed that interactions between the antifreeze proteins and water molecules contribute significantly to protection against the cold. Previously, it was assumed that the effect was only achieved through direct contact of the protein with ice crystals. The team obtained the results through a combination of terahertz spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations.

Indian anti-rape update


This video, recorded in India, says about itself:

Feb 3, 2010

During a live telecast from Mumbai, Indian Hindu extremists [attempted rape] attack on CNN reporter.

This video from India says about itself:

Left leaders join anti-rape protesters at India Gate

Dec 21, 2012

The chorus for justice for the 23-year-old medical student who was raped and viciously attacked in a private chartered bus in the national capital is growing. For the fifth day in a row, protests spilled over on the streets, and on Friday, it reached the gates of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Judges asked to suspend sex charge MPs

Wednesday 02 January 2013

by Our Foreign Desk

India’s top court will tomorrow consider suspending state and national politicians from office if they’re accused of sexual offences.

It will be the same day as five men and one juvenile face trial for the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old student.

Association for Democratic Reforms official Jagdeep Chhokar said six state politicians and two national MPs are currently facing sexual assault charges – though they all fall short of rape.

Chief Justice Altamas Kabir has agreed to hear a petition from retired civil servant Promilla Shanker asking the supreme court to suspend all MPs facing prosecution for crimes against women as part of a widespread campaign to strengthen anti-rape laws.

Protests have taken place every day since the student was attacked on December 16.

Thousands rallied today at the Delhi memorial to independence leader Mahatma Gandhi demanding better legal protection for women.

More details of the gang rape have also emerged ahead of tomorrow’s trial.

Police notes reportedly say the attackers tried to run over the medical student with the bus on which the two-hour assault took place.

The woman’s fiance, who was also beaten in the attack, only just managed to pull her out of the way.

She also bit three of the attackers as she struggled to fight them off.

The victim’s family have reportedly supported calls for her identity to be revealed so that a stronger rape law could be named in her honour.

New Chinese bird discoveries


This video is called Chinese Bird And Flower Silk Paintings II.

This is a distribution map of bird watching records from 2003 to 2007 in China

From Science China Press:

Bird watching brings new discoveries

A recent study used bird watching records to build up the first bird watching database in China, which found a batch of new records of national level and a trend of of species moving to higher latitude and higher elevation regions.

The study named “Bird Watching in China Reveals Bird Distribution Changes”, published in 2012 (31) issue of Chinese Science Bulletin, was senior-authored by LI Xueyan and led by Professor GONG Peng from Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Center for Earth System Science, Tsinghua University.

In recent years, bird watching becomes more and more popular in China. Besides enjoying the fun of bird watching, recording information about species and population can bring new data for scientific research.

Since bird is one of the most sensitive indicators of ecosystem health, both habitat range and migration route of birds could be affected by global climate change and the most direct impacts come from human activities and global warming. Nowadays the status and trend of bird distribution have drawn a great amount of attention in the field of global change. Using bird watching data, recent studies have highlighted the impact of human activities, response of climate change, identification of biodiversity hotspots, development of natural conservations and evaluation of protective effect. However, to date there has been no geographic distribution database of birds that is convenient for spatial-temporal analysis in China. Actually, how to obtain accurate location of geographic names on different scales has been a bottleneck problem of many databases in the field of history, ecology and environmental science.

A spherical GIS software “Global Analyst” (GA) was developed in Peng Gong’s group that has been used in establishing China Bird Watching Database (CBWD). Using Google Earth remote sensing images which have high resolution and timely as base map, GA can support place name-querying and also provide abundant information about habitats and geographic ranges for mappers. The first bird watching database with geographic coordination uses points to represent the data, makes it convenient for update and maintenance, and provides an open platform for crowdsourcing.

Xueyan Li and her collaborators analyzed 30936 records from 2003 to 2007 in CBWD, including 17 Orders, 70 Families and 1078 Species. In terms of globally-threatened species on the IUCN red list, the current database includes four Critically-endangered species, 11 Endangered species, and 44 Vulnerable species (Birdlife International, 2008), whilst also highlighting 27 species in the under Protection Class I (Figure 1). CBWD includes 14 species which are additions to the national checklist, these new records occur either border on other countries (Yunnan, Sinkiang and Tibet) or are coastal areas (Tianjin and Hebei). 109 species appeared outside their original distributions from 2003 to 2007, show a trend of moving to high latitude and high elevation regions, which provide evidence for researches about ecological response to climate change.

The study could broaden minds of using bird watching data in scientific research, and lead the future bird watching activities.

###

This work is supported by the Major Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.30590370), National High-tech Research and Development Projects (Grant No.2009AA122000) and The China Conservation Fund of Hong Kong Bird Watching Society.

GONG Peng
gong@irsa.ac.cn

Li X Y, Liang L, Gong P, et al. Bird watching in China reveals bird distribution changes. Chin Sci Bull, 2012, 57, doi: 10.10 07/s11434-012-5458-7.

New British Conservative child abuse scandal


This video from Britain is called Inquiry launched into Tory child abuse.

From weekly Socialist Worker in Britain:

Mon 31 Dec 2012

Witnesses allege senior Tories involved in sex abuse scandal

Did senior Tory and other prominent figures rape children in a south west London guest house in the early 1980s?

That is what the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Fairbank is investigating. It is looking into a wide variety of claims that several senior political figures sexually abused children.

There have been repeated allegations that boys were supplied to politicians at the then Elm Guest House from a care home run by the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames. Scotland Yard is accused of failing to investigate the complaints.

Back in 1982, the police raided the guest house. But that Met investigation was cut short. The house has since been converted into flats, and the current owners and occupants have nothing to do with its past.

Tom Watson MP told the House of Commons last October that police should re-investigate historical claims of a “powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and number 10,” including a “senior aide of a former prime minister”.

Carole Kasir, who ran Elm Guest House from 1979 to 1982, was found dead in her flat in 1990, aged 47. She was diabetic and apparently died from an insulin overdose.

Witnesses from the charity National Association for Young People in Care gave astonishing evidence to the inquest into her death.

Christopher Fay and Mary Moss, who had known her, alleged sexual abuse of children at the guest house.

They told Kingston coroner’s court that a children’s home then run by Richmond borough council, Grafton Close, supplied boys under the age of 14 to the guest house.

Fay and Moss had compiled a list of alleged abusers, several with links to the Monday Club, a right wing group within the Tories.

Fay claimed that three months before she died Kasir had shown him compromising pictures of a former Tory cabinet minister in a sauna with naked boys. Moss told the inquest that the guest house was frequented by top MPs and judges.

In 2003, a council official raised the issue of boys from Grafton Close home in nearby Hanworth being taken to the guest house and abused.

They complained in 2004 to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) about the Met’s handling of the case. But the IPCC dismissed the complaint after two years.

Canadian wetlands restoration, video


This video from Canada says about itself:

ARC #4: Wetlands Restoration, 17 x 17 Campaign

Wetlands are perhaps our most important yet rapidly vanishing habitats. They provide critical breeding and foraging habitats for amphibians and reptiles as well as important core habitat for waterfowl.

Episode 4 of a year-long 24 episode education-outreach video series starring Whit Gibbons: Herpetologist, Author we have produced in cooperation with The Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy.