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British spiders, new free app


This video says about itself:

Spider in da House

12 August 2013

Trailer video for our house spider survey app ‘Spider in da House’ – identify your 8-legged house mates and let us know you have seen one: here.

From Wildlife Extra:

New free app helps you learn about spiders

If you are curious about finding out more about the spiders you share your house with, you’ll probably be interested in Spider in da House; a new app available from Android and Apple app stores that helps people to identify 12 of the most common spiders found in our homes, using identification tools, photos, and facts.

Autumn is the best time to get to know spiders, as males venture indoors to hunt for a mate. Until autumn, both males and females remain in their webs, commonly in sheds, garages, and wood piles. Males then become nomadic in order to seek out females, when we often encounter them in our homes. Females will generally stay in their webs to await a suitor.

The app was built in collaboration between Society of Biology and University of Gloucestershire, with the goal of helping the public learn more about spiders.

Professor Adam Hart from the University of Gloucestershire explains: “By eating flies and other insects, spiders are not only providing us with a pest control service, but are important in ecosystems. They often feed on the most common species, preventing a few species from becoming dominant. We want to encourage people to respect and learn more about their little house guests.”

There are around 660 species of spider in the UK, and according to preliminary results of Society of Biology’s House Spider Survey, people struggle to tell the difference between them, which has prompted the creation of the app.

Re-starting Iraq war helps ISIS terrorism


This video from the USA says about itself:

“Insanity”: CodePink‘s Medea Benjamin on Obama Plan to Bomb Syria, Expand Iraq Attacks

12 September 2014

The Pentagon has announced it will soon start flying bombing missions out of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq as part of an expanded U.S.-led military campaign against militants from the Islamic State. But it remains unclear when the U.S. will begin launching airstrikes in Syria. According to McClatchy, President Obama has not yet authorized the U.S. Central Command to conduct offensive combat operations in Syria as many questions over U.S. strategy remain unresolved. To talk more about President Obama’s plans to expand U.S. military operations in Iraq and to bomb Syria, we are joined by one of the nation’s leading peace activists, Medea Benjamin, founder of CodePink which held a protest outside the White House on Wednesday during President Obama’s speech. She is the author of “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.”

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Another western war won’t end terror in Iraq or Syria. It will only spread it

Bombing and more intervention can’t destroy Isis. The US is at the heart of the crisis in the Middle East

Seumas Milne

Thursday 18 September 2014

Barely a month into the latest American bombing campaign in Iraq, and they’re already talking escalation. Last week Barack Obama promised that his plans to destroy the so-called Islamic State (Isis) would “not involve American combat troops”. This week General Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said that’s exactly what he would be “recommending” if air power didn’t work.

If “work” means destroy Isis’s grip on western Iraq and eastern Syria, it won’t. So expect the new war that Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, says will last several years to ramp up in the months ahead. Yesterday Obama stuck to his formula. But there are already 1,600 US military “advisers” on the ground. Special forces will no doubt be back in serious numbers before long.

The final cue was given by the repulsive video beheading of US and British journalists and aid workers by the sectarian fundamentalist group. Their Isis executioner declared that the atrocities were in retaliation for 160-odd American air attacks since early August, and Britain’s arming of their Kurdish opponents.

Forget the sobering fact that the western-backed Saudi regime has beheaded dozens in public in recent months, including for “sorcery”, or that British troops infamously had themselves photographed with the severed heads of guerrillas during the Malayan war in the 1950s.

Such calculated acts of gruesome cyberterror softened up the US public for the renewed bout of western warmaking in the Middle East they have until now resisted – which appears to have been exactly Isis’s aim. Now the US president has bowed to relentless pressure to go back to war in Iraq – the country he was elected to withdraw from. Of course, it’s supposed to be different this time: “surgical strikes” and covert forces in support of Iraqi and Kurdish troops instead of invasion and occupation.

But Isis’s main base is in Syria, not Iraq. So Obama is also gearing up for an illegal bombing campaign in Syria and the training of an extra 5,000 “moderate rebels” – who US officials privately concede “don’t really exist”. Naturally, it’s all been nodded through by another coalition of the more-or-less willing to bypass the UN security council.

So a year after the US and its allies planned to bomb Bashar al-Assad’s forces, they’re now planning to bomb his enemies. David Cameron is preparing to ratchet up Britain’s role in the campaign as soon as the Scottish referendum is out of the way – with the Australians and French chafing to join up too. There’s even talk of setting up new UK military bases in Gulf states such as the UAE, Oman and Bahrain to bolster the war against Isis.

What has been launched by the US and its allies this week is in effect their third Iraq war in a generation. It follows the US-led war to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991 and the cataclysmic US-British invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Now Obama has launched yet another intervention to rid the country of the direct consequences of the last one.

It doesn’t take a strategic mastermind to grasp that it is energy wealth that has made Iraq the object of such unparalleled military force. But the results haven’t been disastrous in terms of carnage and destruction only.

Even in its own terms, western warmaking has failed. Bush and Blair’s invasion demonstrated the limits, rather than the extent, of US power. Obama’s war on Isis looks more like the Afghanistan war launched in 2001, supposedly to destroy al-Qaida and the Taliban. The result spread al-Qaida across the region and turned the Taliban into a guerrilla army of resistance.

Thirteen years later, the Taliban controls large parts of Afghanistan and most Nato troops are on their way out. Al-Qaida has been eclipsed by the even more extreme Isis, which mushroomed out of the western-sponsored destruction of the Iraqi and Syrian states. Something similar is happening in the chaos bequeathed by Nato intervention in Libya three years ago.

We’re now witnessing a replay of the war on terror, more than a decade after it was demonstrated to fuel terrorism rather than fight it. Since 9/11 the US has launched 94,000 air strikes: most against Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process.

Obama refers approvingly to the drone and special-forces campaigns in Yemen and Somalia as a model for his new war in Iraq. But they haven’t just killed large numbers of civilians. They have been a recruiting machine for al-Qaida and al-Shabab, and fanned civil war. And that’s what’s happening in Iraq, where US-backed attacks by government forces this month killed 31 civilians, including 24 children, in a school near Tikrit.

Right now Isis is a threat to Iraqis and Syrians and offers them no viable future. But as Obama has conceded, a group that’s more interested in controlling territory as a fantasy caliphate than al-Qaida-style global jihad poses no direct threat to the US, or Britain for that matter. As a result of renewed intervention, however, it could become one.

The crisis in the Arab world doesn’t just reflect the Shia-Sunni schism inflamed by the Iraq occupation, but the continuing western-backed rule of dictators in both the Gulf and north Africa, from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. Last year’s bloody US-indulged coup against Egypt’s elected Islamist president has paved the way for Isis-style violence.

The alternative to Obama’s new Middle East war is concerted pressure for UN-backed agreement between the main regional powers, including Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, to wind down the Syria conflict and back a genuine unity government in Iraq. An end to western support for the Egyptian dictatorship would also help.

Bombing will not destroy Isis, but win it sympathy – or even cause it to mutate into something worse. Only Iraqis and Syrians can defeat Isis. But the US remains determined to keep control of the Middle East, while being unable to find a stable way of doing it. So its response to every failure of intervention is more intervention. The US and its allies are at the heart of the problem in the Middle East, not the solution.

Good dunlin news from England


This video from Britain is called BTO Bird ID – Knot and Dunlin.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare British bird on the rise

A new study on birds in Dartmoor has revealed that the number of dunlin have increased in response to efforts to restore the moor’s mires.

Dunlins are small wading birds that breed across northern Europe, Russia, and North America, choosing Dartmoor as their most southerly breeding location. Their population in the UK is currently recorded at 9,600 pairs.

As they rely exclusively on good quality blanket bog to breed, Dartmoor provides an important location for them in the UK. The Dartmoor Mires Project is a pilot scheme that has been set up to assess the feasibility and impact of restoring the degraded blanket bog.

The RSPB was contracted by the Dartmoor Mires Project to conduct a bird survey of blanket bogs on the north moor in 2014, following a similar survey undertaken in 2010, and two smaller ones in 2007 and 2013.

The results of the survey were positive, and revealed a 37 per cent increase in dunlin between 2010 and 2014, with 22 territorial pairs compared with 16 in 2010.

Commenting on the finding, Helen Booker, Conservation Officer for the RSPB in the South West said: “It would genuinely seem that the restoration works have had an important positive effect on the dunlin breeding population. This is great news, and it’s to be hoped that continuing efforts to restore the mires will continue to pay off and secure the future of this wonderful bird here at its most southerly site in the world.

“Across the West Country there’s a lot of good work being done to put the life back into these unique wetlands. It’d be great to see this work continue and to see it replicated on other uplands in the UK. Currently a large proportion are in very poor condition, and given the services then can provide when they are in good condition, such as slowing river flows in times of flood and carbon storage, we need to restore them.”

The full bird survey report for this year will not be completed until November, but the Interim Report which shows the Dunlin data is available on the DNPA website.

One Bahraini human rights activist freed, but …


This video is called Interview: Maryam Al-Khawaja, Feb 2013.

From Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain:

NGOs Express Cautious Optimism over Release of Maryam al-Khawaja

18 SEPTEMBER 2014—GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) note with cautious optimism the release of prominent Bahraini human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja from detention. However, we remain concerned that the Government of Bahrain has yet to drop charges against the human rights activist and has imposed a travel ban on Maryam. Bahraini authorities arrested Maryam at the Manama airport on 30 August and have accused her of assaulting a lieutenant and a policewoman.

Please click here for a PDF of this statement.

“We are very pleased with Maryam’s release and sincerely thank the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights for its coordination on the matter,” said Husain Abdulla, ADHRB’s Executive Director. “We also thank the United Nations missions who expressed concern over the human rights situation in Bahrain, including the detention of the al-Khawajas, during the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council, including Ireland, Norway and Denmark.”

Maryam, whose imprisonment garnered international attention, returned to Bahrain from exile to visit her ailing father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a human rights defender held as a prisoner of conscience serving a life sentence delivered in 2011. Abdulhadi’s has greatly deteriorated since he began a hunger strike on 25 August.

“While I am overjoyed for Maryam, I remain concerned over the condition of my friend, Abdulhadi,” said Nabeel Rajab, who cofounded BCHR with the imprisoned rights activist. “The government may have responded to international pressure in Maryam’s case, but officials still refuse to release Abudlhadi, Ibrahim Sharif, Naji Fateel, and many other prisoners of conscience from arbitrary imprisonment.”

“Maryam’s release is a positive step, but we remain troubled that the government has not dropped the unfounded charges against her,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaie, Advocacy Director of BIRD. “We fear that she will, like so many other released detainees caught in Bahrain’s unjust legal system, live under the constant fear of re-arrest.”

ADHRB, BIRD and BCHR reiterate their call for Bahrain’s government to release all political prisoners and end the practices of torture and arbitrary detention.

###

For additional information or comment, please contact Rachel Peterson at rpeterson@adhrb.org

This video is about Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, speaking at the recent United Nations conference on human rights.

Baby clownfish swim up to 400km to find a home


This video says about itself:

Clownfish aka anemonefish e.g. Nemo (Finding Nemo film) fish / fishes Amphiprioninae Pomacentridae

27 March 2014

The most famous clownfish in popular culture is Nemo the main character in the the 2003 animated film Finding Nemo. Nemo’s species is A. ocellaris. Clownfish and sea anemones have a symbiotic, mutualistic relationship, wherein each benefits the other.

Taxonomy – Genus Amphiprion:

Amphiprion akallopisos — Skunk clownfish
Amphiprion akindynos — Barrier Reef Anemonefish
Amphiprion allardi — Twobar anemonefish
Amphiprion barberi
Amphiprion bicinctus — Twoband anemonefish
Amphiprion chagosensis — Chagos anemonefish
Amphiprion chrysogaster — Mauritian anemonefish
Amphiprion chrysopterus — Orange-fin anemonefish
Amphiprion clarkii — Yellowtail clownfish
Amphiprion ephippium — Saddle anemonefish
Amphiprion frenatus — Tomato clownfish
Amphiprion fuscocaudatus — Seychelles anemonefish
Amphiprion latezonatus — Wide-band anemonefish
Amphiprion latifasciatus — Madagascar anemonefish
Amphiprion leucokranos — Whitebonnet anemonefish
Amphiprion mccullochi — Whitesnout anemonefish
Amphiprion melanopus — Fire clownfish
Amphiprion nigripes — Maldive anemonefish
Amphiprion ocellaris — Clown anemonefish
Amphiprion omanensis — Oman anemonefish
Amphiprion pacificus — Pacific anemonefish
Amphiprion percula — Orange clownfish
Amphiprion perideraion — Pink skunk clownfish
Amphiprion polymnus — Saddleback clownfish
Amphiprion rubacinctus — Red anemonefish
Amphiprion sandaracinos — Yellow clownfish
Amphiprion sebae — Sebae anemonefish
Amphiprion thiellei — Thielle’s anemonefish
Amphiprion tricinctus — Three-band anemonefish

Genus Premnas:
Premnas biaculeatus — Maroon clownfish

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Young ‘Nemo’ clownfish roam further than thought, study shows

Australian and British scientists reveal why it was so hard to find Nemo – baby clownfish can swim up to 400km to find a home

Thursday 18 September 2014 02.10 BST

Scientists have revealed why it may be so difficult to find Nemo – baby clownfish can swim up to 400km in search of a new home.

A study, co-authored by James Cook University (JCU) researchers, shows the larvae cross large tracts of ocean to find new coral to settle on, making them better able to cope with environmental change.

“Knowing how far larvae disperse helps us understand how fish populations can adapt,” said Hugo Harrison from JCU’s centre of excellence for coral reef studies. “The further they can swim, the better they can cope.”

He said the results of the study, released in September, offer insight into the long distances travelled by baby clownfish, which feature in the animated film Finding Nemo.

“In the past we haven’t known where they go, but now we’ve been given a rare glimpse into how far they can swim, crossing large tracts of ocean to find new homes,” Harrison said.

He said the larvae moved about but fully grown clownfish spent their entire adult lives under the protection of one anemone.

As part of the international study, researchers collected 400 tissue samples from the only two known populations of Omani clownfish found on two reefs off southern Oman.

By analysing DNA fingerprinting – which reveals which of the two reefs the fish originated from – they found larvae were regularly travelling the 400km distance between the reefs.

Study co-author Stephen Simpson from the University of Exeter in England said it was the longest distance scientists had been able to track the dispersal of any coral reef fish.

“The findings change our understanding of marine populations,” he said. “They’re not small and separate as we often assume, rather this research shows they’re often vast and interconnected.”

The study was published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

Less wetlands, worse flooding in India


This video says about itself:

Wildlife and adventure sports in India! Watch Sarus Cranes at sunrise in an Uttar Pradesh wetland (soon to be ruined by an airport!), elephants in a chaur grassland at Corbett National Park, Gir lions or Asiatic lions in Gujarat, White-eyed Buzzard Eagle with nictitating membrane over eye, hard ground barasingha sparring in Kanha National Park during the mating season, Short-toed eagle doing the samba while stationary mid-air, Python molurus at Bharatpur or Keoladeo ghana Sanctuary in Rajasthan, helicopter skiing in Himachal Pradesh, jumaring over a crevasse in Himachal, Axis deer or Chital in Corbett or the erstwhile Hailey National Park, leopard or panther, para sailing at Billing and Solang Nala / nullah, white water river rafting on the ganga / Ganges, tip top ice climbing on an ice wall in the Himalaya with ice axes and crampons, elephants fighting in a grassland during the mating season, fox crossing the Zanskar river in Jammu and Kashmir state of India, ice bridge in Padum / Padam, Zanskar, Paradise Flycatcher feeding young chicks at nest on a kathal or jackfruit tree, Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) in Arunachal Pradesh’s thick rain forest, Jungle Cat at Ramganga river, Uttarakhand, water skiing on Dal Lake in Kashmir, India, with house boats in the background, Rhino chasing other rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis, in Kaziranga National Parj, Assam, tiger cub coming to mother at Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, peacock displaying, Indian peafowl, Pavo cristatus, Himalayan Pied Woodpecker expelling wood chips from its recently excavated nesthole, Black shouldered / winged Kite at Panna National Park, climbers with Bhagirathi peaks in background on the Gangotri glacier national park, Uttarakhand, India.

Less wetlands, worse hurricane and flooding disasters in New Orleans, USA.

And from Wildlife Extra:

Bombay Natural History Society blames poor land management for extent of Kashmir floods

Following the recent flooding disaster in the Kashmir region of India, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have gone on the record saying that the loss of wetlands in the Kashmir valley has directly impacted the catastrophe, making conditions worse than they otherwise would be.

They state that in the past 30 years, nearly 50 per cent of the wetlands in the Kashmir Valley have been severely damaged, and highlight the reduced areas of Dal Lake and Wular Lake as having a detrimental effect on important drainage for the valley. Dal Lake currently covers half the area of its earlier spread, while Wular Lake and marshes now cover just 2,400, after previously spanning a total of 20,200 hectares. They cite that the encroachment upon the shallow portions of the wetland by the Forest Department for plantation of willow trees has significantly reduced the size of Wular Lake over the years.

In addition, the organisation blames commercial activities on the severe loss of wetland habitat. These wetlands, they argue, acted as a sponge when they were well preserved, but have since been neglected in recent years. As such, BNHS stress the need for a Wetland Conservation Act.

Commenting on the recent flooding, Dr Asad Rahmani, Director at BNHS, says: “The disastrous damage caused to life and property could have been minimised if the large number of wetlands that once existed in the Valley, had been preserved. Wetlands act as a sponge that retains excess water. Wular Lake is a classical example”.