Italian Alpine chamois and climate change


This is a chamois video from France.

From Wildlife Extra:

Alpine goats shrinking due to global warming

Climate change is causing Alpine goats in the Italian Alps to shrink, say scientists from Durham University.

The researchers, who have been studying the Alpine Chamois for the last 30 years, have found young Chamois now weigh about 25 percent less than animals of the same age in the 1980s. These declines they believe is strongly linked to the region warming by 3-4ºC during the 30 years of the study.

Although this shrinking in itself is not unusual as a lot of studies have found that animals are getting smaller because of the changing climate, this is usually due to the decling availability and nutritional content of their food, which is not true in this case.

The study found no evidence that Alpine meadows grazed by Chamois had been affected by the warming climate. Instead, the team believes that higher temperatures are affecting how chamois behave.

Co-author Dr Stephen Willis said: “We know that Chamois cope with hot periods by resting more and spending less time searching for food, and this may be restricting their size more than the quality of the vegetation they eat.”

“Body size declines attributed to climate change are widespread in the animal kingdom, with many fish, bird and mammal species getting smaller, said lead author Dr Tom Mason. “However the decreases we observe here are astonishing. The impacts on Chamois weight could pose real problems for the survival of these populations.

“This study shows the striking, unforeseen impacts that climate change can have on animal populations. It is vital that we continue to study how climate change affects species such as Chamois. Changes in body size could act as early-warning systems for worse impacts to come, such as the collapses of populations.”

See also here.

New toad species discovery on Jersey


This is a Western Common Toad video from France.

From Wildlife Extra:

New toad species identified in the UK

Toads on the island of Jersey have been found to be an entirely different species to toads found in the rest of the UK.

The Western Common Toad (Bufo spinosus) – which is also found in western France, Iberia and North Africa – is more genetically different from the Common Toad than humans are from gorillas or chimpanzees. In the UK they are found only in Jersey, which is the only location in the Channel Islands to have toads.

As a new species, the toads will need a tailored conservation programme in place in order to ensure their future survival in Jersey.

“We always suspected there was something special about the toads of Jersey,” said Dr John Wilkinson, Science Programme Manager at Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC). “They grow larger, breed earlier and use different habitats than English toads. Now we know they are a new species, we can ensure efforts for their conservation are directed to their specific needs.”

Conservationists in the UK, the Netherlands and Portugal collaborated in order to correctly identify the toad. Fieldwork was carried out by Wilkinson along with researchers from Jersey Environment Department, and genetic studies were conducted by Dr Jan Arntzen at the Netherlands’ Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, and Dr Inigo Martinez-Solano at CIBIO in Portugal.

John Pinel, Jersey’s Principal Ecologist, commented on the discovery: “Conservation of biodiversity in Jersey has always had a high priority; this news will help ensure that toads continue to receive the positive action they deserve.”

British ex-National Front nazi now in UKIP


This video from England says about itself:

UKIP AND THE EX-NF CANDIDATE

17 April 2013

A THANET WATCH REPORT. Campaigning for UKIP in Ramsgate for the Kent County council elections, Trevor Shonk answers questions about the ex-chair of Thanet UKIP party, Martyn Heale, who was in the past an organiser for the National Front. UKIP has a rule not to allow membership to people who have been members of far right parties such as the National Front and the British National Party.

Apparently, having such a rule is one thing. Applying it is another thing.

By Conrad Landin in Britain:

UKIP OFFICIAL DEFENDS RACIST NATIONAL FRONT

Wednesday 8th october 2014

Heale accused of rewriting history over NF claims

SENIOR Ukip official Martyn Heale was accused yesterday of “rewriting history” after claiming that the National Front (NF) was not a far-right organisation.

Mr Heale, party leader Nigel Farage’s campaign manager in the Kent constituency of South Thanet, had previously said that his membership of the NF in the late 1970s was “a bad decision” that he “sincerely” regretted.

But in an about-turn, Mr Heale has now leapt to the defence of the organisation.

In today’s issue of the London Review of Books, Mr Heale is quoted as saying: “There’s been an attempt by many people to associate the National Front with the far right. But that’s not fair, that’s not true.

“It was a bit of a social club,” he told the journal. “Initially the National Front was just a group of retired people and soldiers.”

Mr Heale was a branch organiser for the National Front in Hammersmith, west London.

He held his position at a time when the racist NF was blamed for encouraging a huge escalation in far-right violence in the city.

His neonazi links were first exposed last year when he ran successfully for a seat on Kent County Council.

Hope Not Hate organiser Simon Creasy told the Morning Star: “Maybe he’s trying to rewrite history and whitewash over his far-right past.

“Anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows that the National Front was a far-right organisation and still is.

“For him to try to deflect from questions about his history in this way is just laughable. It was always a far-right party.”

Mr Heale’s claims were published as the anti-immigrant party launched a shocking defence of one of its MEPs after she tweeted a link to an anti-semitic website.

Last week Jane Collins tweeted a link to an article drawing links between Labour leader Harriet Harman and the Paedophile Information Exchange, which incorrectly referred to Ms Harman as a “Jewess.”

But a Ukip spokesman told Jewish News yesterday that the term was “(no) more insulting than saying that Ms Collins is a Yorkshirewoman, it is merely descriptive not pejorative.”

Last year Mr Farage said he would not join an alliance with the French far-right Front National, led by Marine Le Pen, because of the “prejudice and anti-semitism” in the party.

Mr Heale’s comments are quoted in a 8,000-word polemic in the London Review of Books by author and journalist James Meek.

“In view of Ukip’s insistence that it isn’t a racist party, I thought Heale might be defensive, or embarrassed, about being a member of the NF in 1978,” Mr Meek writes. “To my surprise, he came to its defence.”

A Ukip spokesman said the party disputed the quote and claimed that when Mr Heale joined the NF he felt it was a left-of-centre community-oriented organisation with a national focus.

Party leader Mr Farage was adopted as Ukip candidate in South Thanet this summer.

When Heale joined the National Front, its founder and party leader was John Tyndall, ex-deputy leader of the National Socialist Movement and a lifelong nazi.

Talking about the British National Front; about their French sister party:

France’s far-right National Front (FN) party has boycotted a vote to dedicate a square in the southern city of Toulon to Nelson Mandela, saying the anti-apartheid icon was a “terrorist” in the past.

ONE of Ukip’s rising stars has been left red-faced after social media messages emerged showing he criticised Nigel Farage’s party at the last election. Blair Smillie had hurriedly deleted posts and made his social media profiles private yesterday, after Labour revealed the embarrassing posts: here.

Ukip leader says he is ‘not going to pretend to reach out to female voters or voters of all different denominations': here.

Death penalty for British World War I child soldier


This music video from Britain says about itself:

A song entitled “Deserter” by Mike Blackburn which tells the story of one soldier who had been affected by all that he had done, heard and seen in the trenches during WW1 and who no longer had the will to be there.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Shot at dawn – not forgotten

Friday 26th September 2014

PETER FROST mourns Thomas Highgate who was shot for desertion a century ago this month

Young Tom Highgate was terrified. Nothing had prepared the boy from a farm village in Kent for the horrors of the battle of the Marne early in the first world war.

Certainly not the recruiting sergeant who had signed him up aged just 17. He had told him about the fine uniform and the comradeship, how the girls all love a soldier, but hadn’t mentioned the actual fighting.

He had even hinted that Highgate might earn a place in British military history. Sadly he was only too right.

Nothing had steeled young Highgate for the heavy artillery bombardment from the German guns. Nor the fact that the German infantry appeared to far outnumber British troops.

Highgate, along with his comrades, had done his best. Hand-loading their Lee-Enfield rifles 15 times a minute, he and his fellow heroes stemmed the German advance.

But then the French had retreated leaving the British flanks exposed.

All around him his young friends were lying in the mud, blown to bloody pieces in the huge shell craters.

Then came the ultimate humiliation. The British forces were ordered to retreat. All the fright, the blood, the gore, the death, the suffering were for naught.

The terrified young soldier tripped over the edge. Today we would call it post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A hundred years ago they had harsher, crueller names — shell shock, cowardice and desertion.

Private Thomas James Highgate was about to earn his place in British military history. He would become the first British soldier shot for desertion in World War I.

Highgate was discovered and arrested by a gamekeeper in a barn on the estate of Baron de Rothschild.

He told the gamekeeper: “I have had enough of it. I want to get out of it and this is how I am going to do it.”

He had abandoned his uniform and weapon. They were found hidden beside the barn.

The army moved fast. He was court-martialled and convicted of desertion and the death sentence was confirmed on a single day in September 1914. The war had been on for only a month.

Highgate had no-one to defend him. Indeed all of his comrades had been killed, injured or taken prisoner. He called no witnesses in his defence.

His account was that he was a straggler trying to find his way back to rejoin his regiment having got separated from his comrades. No-one believed him.

Highgate’s death was almost as hasty as his trial. Senior officers insisted that he be executed at once. They wanted it to be as public as possible.

The next day Highgate was told of his fate at 6.22am on that September morning, in the presence of a Church of England clergyman. An officer then ordered a burial party and firing squad to prepare, and the 17-year-old lad from Kent was shot at 7.07am.

News of his fate was published in Army Routine Orders and distributed to the remainder of the British Expeditionary Force. The example had been made.

Highgate was the first of over 300 Tommies shot for desertion. By contrast most shell-shocked officers were shipped home and treated in officer-only hospitals.

Shell shock, also called war neurosis or combat stress and today recognised as PTSD, was deliberately misdiagnosed by the officer class.

Victims were picked out and convicted as a lesson to others.

Charges included desertion, cowardice or insubordination. Often the symptoms were just walking around dazed and confused.

Most of those shot were young, defenceless and vulnerable teenagers who had volunteered for duty like Highgate.

General Haig — or Butcher Haig as he was known — when questioned declared that all men accused of cowardice and desertion were examined by a medical officer and that no soldier was sentenced to death if there was any suspicion of him suffering shell shock.

As so often, he lied.

Haig not only signed all the death warrants but when questioned later on this issue lied repeatedly.

The general’s stubborn and ignorant belief was that anyone suffering shell shock was malingering. In fact in Butcher Haig’s mind, shell shock and malingering were one and the same thing.

Highgate has no known grave. As recently as 2000, the caring folk on Shoreham Parish Council voted not to include his name on its recently restored war memorial. His only marker is on the British memorial to the missing at Seine-et-Marne.

The Armed Forces Act 2006 allowed the mass pardon of 306 British empire soldiers executed for certain offences during the first world war.

One of them was Highgate.

Today between 9,000 and 10,000 British soldiers who served in various foreign wars are homeless and numbered among our rough sleepers. Many have PTSD.

Many have medals, commendations and other awards, but that doesn’t stop the likes of supermarket giant Tesco putting down spikes to stop them sleeping in some kind of shelter.

Shockingly, ex-service personnel account for one in 10 rough sleepers across Britain, according to homeless charity Crisis.

Simon Weston OBE, who suffered serious burns in the Falklands war, has accused the government of betraying veterans after learning of the disturbing numbers without a home.

“A huge amount of rhetoric comes from politicians, but they never actually do anything,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s a betrayal.”

In so many cases it has led to a cycle of family break-up, addictions to drugs or alcohol and homelessness.

In a particularly crass case last year Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith used his notorious bedroom tax to take away the room in his mother’s home of a soldier serving in Afghanistan. His mother was told she could not keep his room.

“He had a bed in a barracks in Germany,” declared the government.

Defence cuts have reduced the number of soldiers by over 10,000 in recent years.

A total of 20,000 are due to be axed by 2017. The RAF and Royal Navy are each shedding 5,000.

In themselves these reductions are good news but unless adequate resources are put in place a flood of redundant ex-service personnel will end up on the streets.

Jim Jukes, founder of charity Homes 4 Heroes told us there were an estimated 9,000 homeless ex-servicemen in Britain, including rough sleepers and those in hostels and B&Bs.

He said: “With the redundancies coming up and more with PTSD, this is only going to get worse. It’s a ticking time bomb.”

His charity helps ex-service personnel in London, Brighton, Birmingham and Northampton, giving them sleeping bags, blankets and food.

In 2011, when body bags were being paraded in the streets of our garrison towns, David Cameron and Nick Clegg tried to claw back some popularity with the much-heralded Armed Forces Covenant. Not so much hopping on the bandwagon as hopping on the hearse.

It was, like most Con-Dem initiatives, a hollow promise. Numbers of homeless, unemployed, traumatised and distressed service personnel have soared since then.

In reality the Cameron and Clegg coalition has enforced further austerity measures that have reduced help to ex-soldiers and indeed increased the time handling compensation claims to up to two years.

In their own way, they are just as cynical and unfeeling as Butcher Haig and the officers who shot young Thomas Highgate a century ago.

Extinct fungus found again in the Netherlands


This video is called Climate change imperils French truffle production: scientists.

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

During the excursion of 15 September by the Mushroom Study Group Drenthe the supposedly extinct Rhizopogon villosulus truffle was discovered. The excursion was in the Holmers, a recent nature area of the ​​Forestry Commission in central Drenthe. Under a Douglas fir at a place with a very thin humus layer the truffles were found by chance while searching for insects.

This species had become extinct in the Netherlands.