Purple emperor butterflies in England


This is a video about a purple emperor butterfly feeding in France.

By Peter Frost in England:

Emperor brought down to earth by shrimp paste

Friday 8th August 2014

Peter Frost reveals a secret ritual designed to enhance the survival chances of the rarest of butterflies

At the end of July and for the early days of August something really unusual is happening in Fermyn Woods in the Rockingham Forest between Corby and Kettering in Northamptonshire.

Beneath the high trees, members of a quaintly named organisation called the Purple Empire arrange a special breakfast for some exotic and beautiful inhabitants.

Chief item on the menu will be shrimp paste and members of the Empire have scoured oriental supermarkets and food shops seeking out the most pungent and malodorous varieties.

So who is guest of honour at this morning feast? Why no one less than Britain’s second largest, and most spectacular butterfly — the aptly named Purple Emperor (Apatura iris). Only male butterflies are invited to the feast.

Spectacular the emperor might be, but it is also spectacularly difficult to observe. The colourful males flit high in the tree tops waiting to lure a dull female virgin to mate.

Generations of amateur but skilful lepidopterists have discovered the gloriously coloured male butterflies can be lured down, into camera range by, of all things, smelly and tasty shrimp paste.

There are several reasons why the Fermyn Woods are one of the best places to see this spectacular insect.

The woods are marshy and full of Goat Willow (Salix caprea) and Grey Willow (Salix cinerea) trees, the favourite food plants of the purple emperor’s caterpillars.

The other reason is the pioneering work by one of our greatest countryside writers and illustrators, Denys Watkins-Pitchford, who wrote wonderfully evocative country and children’s books under the pen-name BB.

Like many other wildlife writers BB had realised the huge dangers of excessive usage of DDT and other insecticide sprays so common in the ’60s and ’70s.

He realised they were destroying species like the purple emperor as well as other insects, birds and animals further up the food chain.

Watkins-Pitchford had another far more intensely personal reason for his attitude to agricultural chemical abuse.

In 1974 his wife Cecily became unwell after working in their garden while a farmer was spraying his fields next door. She died a few weeks later.

In the very garden the couple had shared the writer built huge muslin cages where he bred the purple emperor, nicknamed “His Majesty” by butterfly fans. He bought the species back from the edge of extinction.

A male emperor is without doubt one of the most elegant of all our butterflies. From some angles the wings look black with white bands — then as the sunlight catches the wing scales they light up with an amazing regal purple sheen.

The female is a deep brown and does not have any of the showy colour of the male.

If you want to spot an emperor the best time is early morning or in late afternoon. It is then that the males will occasionally flutter down to feed on animal dung, carrion, or even that tempting shrimp paste. This extra diet provides the emperor with much needed salts and minerals.

Males will sometimes spend over an hour feeding in the same place.

They are often found in woodland car parks landing on wet muddy cars.

Strangely they also enjoy sweaty humans and can often land on thrilled watchers to drink beads of salty perspiration.

Most of the time, however, they will be out of sight high in tree canopy feeding on aphid honeydew.

The males tend to congregate in very large oak trees they have used for generations. From such a high point, perhaps on the top of a hill, the males wait to pounce on passing females.

The males vying for the best and highest perches battle it out with purple wings flashing in the sun. It is a wildlife spectacular you will never forget.

When a dowdy virgin female flits by the pair fly off and settle high in the canopy to mate.

Mating over, she flies down to earth while he returns to his high emperor’s throne ready for another chance to pass on his DNA.

Coots in France studied


This video is about Eurasian coots in Sweden.

From Ringing & Migration, Volume 29, Issue 1, 2014:

Common but poorly known: information derived from 32 years of ringing Coot Fulica atra in the Camargue, southern France

Abstract

Rallidae are common and widespread, yet relatively poorly studied. We analysed the ringing data from more than 8,000 Common Coot Fulica atra, accumulated between 1950 and 1982 in Camargue, southern France, in terms of the dynamics of their biometrics throughout the year, migratory pathways and annual survival rate. Mean monthly body mass and wing length indicate seasonal differences, with birds captured in autumn and winter being heavier and larger than those captured in spring and summer.

The temporal and spatial distribution across Europe of more than 950 ring recoveries indicates a mixing of sedentary and migratory birds. Capture–recapture analysis indicated lower annual survival rates during the year after ringing, and greater survival rates in adults and in males. Mean survival rate across sex and age classes greater than one year after ringing was 55%. This is somewhat lower than found by other studies, and may be influenced by Coot hunting in the Camargue, especially during the years of this study.

Belgian xenophobic mayor’s ‘musical’ anti-Roma plan backfires


This video says about itself:

French Roma expulsions spark racism warning

19 August 2010

After destroying their homes and giving them $383, France is flying 700 Roma people to Romania and Bulgaria.

The government has been dismantling Roma settlements, saying they were havens for illegal trafficking, child exploitation, begging and prostitution.

But Romania’s foreign minister says he’s worried France’s action is creating xenophobia.

Al Jazeera’s Estelle Youssouffa looks at the man leading the French drive for security and public order.

By Evan Bartlett in British daily The Independent:

A plan to remove a group of Roma Gypsies by playing loud music backfired on a town mayor when the group responded by dancing.

Gino Debroux, the mayor of Landen – a small town 30 miles from Brussels in Belgium – had resorted to the measure yesterday after claiming the Roma had outstayed their agreed tenancy on a private plot of land.

He hired a local DJ to play music up to 95 decibels – the equivalent of a pneumatic drill from 50 feet away – but his choice of Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits as a first song did not have the desired effect as children from the camp broke out into a small jig.

This music video is called Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing.

“I want to thank the mayor,” one camp resident told Reuters. “It’s very nice that he sent a DJ for us to have a party.”

See also here.

French fascist politician jailed for calling black minister chimpanzee


National Front politicians Marine Le Pen and Anne-Sophie Leclere, French parliamentary election poster

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Former Front National candidate jailed for calling black minister a chimpanzee

John Lichfield

Wednesday 16 July 2014

In the severest sentence of its kind ever handed down in France, a former far-right local politician has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing a black cabinet minister to a chimpanzee.

Anne-Sophie Leclère, a senior Front National municipal candidate in northern France, posted adjacent images on Facebook of a female chimpanzee and the justice minister, Christiane Taubira. The first image was labelled “at 18 months old” and the second “now”.

Anne-Sophie Leclere and her racist comparison

Challenged about the images in a TV documentary last year, Ms Leclère, 33, said: “On the whole I would rather see (Ms Taubira) in the branches of a tree than see her in the government.” She was rapidly expelled from the FN as part of a drive by its leader, Marine Le Pen to clean up the party.

The Front National was nonetheless – to its fury – also found guilty late on Tuesday of inciting racial hatred by a court at Cayenne, in Guyane in the French West Indies. The FN was fined €30,000. Ms Leclère, from Rethel in the Ardennes on the Franco-Belgian border, was given a nine months’ jail sentence, fined Euros 50,000 and banned from politics for five years.

Both the FN and Ms Leclère have appealed.

FN leaders attacked the judgement as a “judicial ambush” “immoral” and “politically biased”. They complained about the fact that the case had been heard in Guyane – Ms Taubira’s birthplace and an overseas part of France which has an overwhelmingly black population.

“Clearly, in the court in Cayenne, the normal rules do not apply,” the FN said in a statement. “These incredible violations of our legal system must be vigorously denounced.”

The judgement was also criticised by some – not all – centre right politcians but welcomed by the centre-left government and by anti-racist pressure groups.

The government spokesman Stéphane Le Foll, said that he was not going to “judge the judgement” but the attack on Christiane Taubira was “perfectly revolting, unacceptable… and a racist act.”

The lobby group SOS-Racisme said that the court’s ruling should be a landmark in public attitudes to the FN, which topped the poll in the French part of the European elections in May. “This party, whose driving force is hatred of others, can no longer pretend to discover that its election candidates are racist or anti-semitic each time that a controversy like this arises,” the group said.

Ms Leclère was the head of an FN candidates’ list for municipal election in Rethel in Ardennes when she was interviewed for a TV documentary last October. She was [a]sked about her Facebook posting comparing Ms Taubira to a chimpanzee. She said it was a “joke” and “not racist” but she would rather see Ms Taubiura in a tree than in the cabinet.

The FN expelled her from the party, describing her as an “error of casting”. Several similar incidents involving FN municipal candidates followed.

Ms Taubira, 62, is a brilliant academic and lawyer turned politician who has risen from deep poverty in Guyana to one of the top two or three posts in French government. She is detested on the hard right of French politics for pushing through a law legalising same-sex marriage last year.

Soon after Ms Leclère’s attack on her on Facebook, Ms Taubira was greeted by anti-gay marriage protesters on a visit to Angers in central France. They included children carrying “bananas for the monkey.”

French government hysteria against Algerian football fans


This video is called Algeria VS South Korea [soccer] WORLD CUP 2014 [in Brazil] ALL GOALS.

By Antoine Lerougetel in France:

Anti-Muslim hysteria surrounds World Cup in France

3 July 2014

The political crisis provoked in France by the impressive performance of the Algerian team in the World Cup testifies to the explosive social tensions gripping French society, and the impact of decades of incitement of anti-Muslim racism by the ruling elite.

In France’s suburbs, where youth of immigrant origins face constant clashes with police, Algerian victories led to festivities, the burning of cars, and police arrests. Some 30 people were arrested on June 22 in celebrations after the Algerian team won their match against South Korea, and 74 on June 26 after the draw with Russia meant that Algeria, for the first time in the history of the World Cup, moved on to the last 16 of the competition.

The arrests were seized upon by the ruling Socialist Party (PS) and various right-wing parties to mount a crackdown on expressions of pro-Algerian sentiment during the Cup.

In an interview in 20 Minutes commenting on incidents after Algeria’s matches, sociologist Laurent Mucchielli noted: “Seventy-four arrests is not nothing, but on a national scale they are just isolated incidents. Outbursts of violence around sporting events are legion…not just with matches where the Algerian team is playing.”

“The political and media treatment of these incidents is out of proportion,” he added. “The Ministry of the Interior wants to show that it has matters in hand.”

In towns throughout France, including Paris with its PS-dominated council, the councils mounted giant screens for public viewings of the France-Nigeria match, which started at 6pm. However, they refused to show the Algeria-Germany match four hours later—despite the enormous interest in the Algerian team in France, the former colonial power in Algeria, which is home to 2.5 to 4 million people of Algerian origin.

Neo-fascist National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen demanded on i-T é l é “an end now to dual nationality,” which many Algerians living in France have. She also called for the halting of immigration, the end to the automatic right to French nationality of people born in France, and the expulsion to their country of origin of people who have been sentenced for crimes.

Christian Estrosi, the conservative UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) mayor of Nice, decreed the banning of the “ostentatious display of foreign flags” in the town centre for the duration of the World Cup in order to “maintain public order and peace.” He also banned the display of foreign flags at weddings in Nice.

Estrosi’s action has historical as well as political significance. The display of an Algerian flag in 1945 during a parade in Sétif, Algeria celebrating the end of the Second World War led to the massacre of some 20,000 Algerians by the French army. This crime was the prelude to even greater killings and mass use of torture in France’s failed attempt to crush Algerian fighters in Algeria’s successful 1954-1962 war for independence.

As poverty and unemployment mount in France’s immigrant suburbs, and French imperialism launches ever more wars in Muslim countries, from Mali to Syria, the ruling elite is ever more acutely sensitive of the threat posed by anti-imperialist sentiment among the masses.

In the right-wing Le Figaro daily, Ivan Rioufol provocatively denounced Algerians for being insufficiently French: “Their parents rejected French Algeria, they want an Algerian France. Their flags brandished in the streets express a refusal to live together, if not a wish for anti-colonialism.”

For the French political establishment—which, from the far right to petty-bourgeois pseudo-left parties like the New Anti-capitalist Party, have all embraced French imperialist interventions in the Middle East and Africa—even a “wish for anti-colonialism” is an intolerable threat. It threatens to cut across the promotion of anti-Islamic sentiment that has become a cornerstone of the French ruling class’ policy to divide the working class and poison political life.

The 2003 law banning the Islamic headscarf and “ostentatious” religious signs in schools—coming after the sell-out of mass strikes against pension cuts, in which teachers played a major role—was supported by the UMP as well as the PS and the pseudo-left parties. This opened the floodgates for a series of discriminatory laws against Muslims, cynically pursued under the guise of defending “secularism” against Islam.

The ban on the veil in schools was followed in 2010 by the law prohibiting the burqa in public places, again with virtually unanimous support within the political establishment. On Tuesday, a man was jailed for 3 years for an incident last year in which he objected to police stopping his wife, who was wearing the burqa, as they returned with their baby from the market in Trappes, in the southwest Paris suburbs.

The targeting of the entire Roma ethnicity for mass deportations by the PS government, continuing the policies of the previous conservative administration of President Nicolas Sarkozy, has further helped bring ethnic tensions in France to a fever pitch.

It is in this debased atmosphere that the World Cup became the occasion for the fanning of anti-Muslim and pro-imperialist sentiment.

ALGERIA’S World Cup stars will donate their $9 million (£5.2m) tournament bonuses to people in the bombarded Gaza Strip: here.

Roma teenager attacked by racist mob in Paris


This video from France is called Roma boy attacked in Paris: this will shock France.

By Kumaran Ira in France:

Roma boy attacked by lynch mob in northern Paris

20 June 2014

A 16-year-old Roma teenager, Darius, was abducted and savagely beaten by a lynch mob last Friday at the Cité des Poètes estate in a poor northern suburb of Paris, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine. As of this writing, he is still in a coma, fighting for his life in a Paris hospital after suffering multiple skull fractures.

The assault on Darius is an indictment of French society, and, in particular, of the persecution of the Roma by the Socialist Party (PS) government, whose officials are ordering police to break up Roma encampments and have called for all Roma to leave France. The government and the police covered up the lynching for four days, finally breaking the news on Tuesday.

Julie Launois-Flacelière, the lawyer retained by Darius’ family, said, “Darius was taken away as they watched by several individuals, some of whom were masked and armed.” The teen was reportedly pushed into a Renault Clio around 5:30 p.m. on Friday by a group of armed men. According to police, Darius was then locked in a basement, where he was beaten to within an inch of his life.

A few hours after Darius was kidnapped, his mother received a call from his mobile, demanding a €15,000 ransom for his return. She alerted the police. Darius was found unconscious in an abandoned supermarket trolley on the side of the N1 motorway.

The attack on Darius was reportedly an act of vengeance, as local residents accused him of stealing jewelry in a nearby flat earlier on Friday. Prosecutor Sylvie Moisson said the attack on Darius occurred after an apartment had been broken into and items stolen. He had reportedly been questioned by police in connection with robberies in the estate, but he had not been convicted of any crime.

Darius, together with his family and other Roma people, came to live in a makeshift camp close to the Cite des Poètes housing estate in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine that housed about 200 Roma people. Their camp was set up near an abandoned house a few weeks ago, after they were expelled from Aubervilliers at the end of May. After the attack on the boy, the Roma in the camp fled the area in fear the same evening.

The main responsibility for the barbaric assault on Darius lies with the political establishment and the corporate media. Over the last five years, the French political elite has adopted racial and discriminatory measures targeting the Roma population and stigmatizing the entire ethnic group.

The escalating social tensions underlying the assault were provoked by the PS’ public vilification of the Roma, recent moves by police to smash Roma camps throughout France, and the poverty and desperation in France’s suburbs provoked by decades of social austerity and budget cuts.

The unemployment rate in poorer French suburbs stands at 24 percent, compared to 10.1 percent at the national level. Youth between 15 and 24 are most affected by unemployment, which for them reaches 45 percent.

A 27-year-old electrician and resident of the area, Toufik, told Le Monde, “We are condemned to do everything ourselves. That is the problem. All the youth have had problems with police, we will not call them… Here, there is not a movie theater, a mall, a swimming pool, a park for children, nothing.”

During the 2012 presidential campaign, then-candidate François Hollande pledged to find a “solution” of the Roma question involving breaking up their camps and detaining them in special facilities—making clear he would continue the incumbent conservative Nicolas Sarkozy’s anti-Roma policy.

After Hollande’s election, his government moved to aggressively target the Roma. It has forcibly dismantled Roma encampments in France, deporting tens of thousands. Last year, then-Interior Minister and current Prime Minister Manuel Valls claimed that Roma should be deported and France was “not here to welcome these populations”. He has given local authority the mission “to dismantle Roma camps when there is a court ruling.”

On Wednesday, local authorities ordered the dismantling of a Roma camp in Marseille, which housed 400 people, including hundreds of children. The PS government reportedly evicted a record 19,380 Roma people from makeshift camps in 2013. Last October, the government deported a 15-year-old Roma schoolgirl Leonarda Dibrani along with her family to Kosovo, sparking student protests in several cities.

After finally breaking their silence on the lynching of Darius, the PS and the media made tried to downplay their constant political targeting of the Roma and to distance themselves from the vigilante beating of Darius. Hollande called the assault an “unspeakable and unjustifiable attack on all the principles on which our republic was founded,” while Valls called it an “unacceptable act”.

In a June 18 editorial, Le Monde cynically postured as appalled by the crime and by indifference to the suffering of the Roma in France. It wrote, “Must one recall that the Republic would be unworthy of itself if it permitted such shameful indifference to predominate? This would mean admitting its impotence faced with such sinister vendettas as those of the cité des Poètes. That would be the worst.”

What contemptible hypocrisy! For years, the newspaper has—like the rest of the media and the political establishment—supported the PS and Hollande’s persecution of the Roma people. Having been callously indifferent to the consequences of these policies, they are raising this as an issue now only because the horrific consequences of their ethnic persecution of the Roma have now shocked people throughout France.

When in 2010 Hollande’s predecessor, Sarkozy, called for dismantling Roma camps across the country and stripping migrants of their citizenship, politicians and media criticized these methods as anti-democratic. Sarkozy’s measures were widely compared with the persecution of ethnic minorities, including both the Jews and the Roma, under France’s Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime during World War II.

Now that it is the PS is carrying out ethnic persecution of Roma, however, it meets with no opposition from within the political establishment or the media. Pseudo-left organizations like the New-Anti Capitalist party (NPA), which endorsed Hollande’s election and made a few tepid criticisms of Sarkozy’s anti-Roma policies, remain totally silent on PS’s persecution of Roma. All of these forces are politically implicated in the assault on Darius.

Polish far-right groups stir up anti-Roma hatred in the shadow of Auschwitz: here.