Whale exhibition in Denver, USA


This video from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City says about itself:

11 February 2013

Whales: Giants of the Deep” brings visitors closer than ever to some of the mightiest, most massive, and mysterious mammals on Earth. Featuring life-size models, interactive exhibits, and films—as well as more than 20 stunning whale skulls and skeletons—the family-friendly exhibition also reveals the history of the close relationship between humans and whales, from the traditions of Maori whale riders to the whaling industry and later rise of laws protecting whales from commercial hunters.

Originally developed at Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum of New Zealand, the exhibition will also feature rarely viewed specimens from the Museum’s own world-class collections.

From CBS in the USA:

Whales: Giants Of The Deep Opens At DMNS In October

September 26, 2014 8:28 PM

DENVER (CBS4) – The skeleton of a 58-foot sperm whale is one of 20 whale specimens that will be shown as part of a new exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science that opens next month.

The exhibit, called Whales: Giants of the Deep, is on tour from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which boasts one of the largest collections of marine mammals in the world.

The exhibit will also feature life-sized models, digital interactives and rare artifacts. DMNS said visitors can crawl through a life-sized replica of a blue whale’s heart, touch whale teeth and hear the sounds whales use to navigate, communicate and find food.

The exhibit opens Oct. 10 and is free with museum admission.

Antarctic colossal squid examined in New Zealand


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Scientists latch on to colossal squid

Huge specimen caught in Antarctic waters by New Zealand fishing crew is one of few ever examined

16 September 2014

The live stream begins at 06:57: here.

Te Papa has a new colossal squid!

Watch live online as specialists in squid biology from Te Papa and Auckland University of Technology undertake research on this rare find. This colossal squid and the specimen already on display at Te Papa are the only two of their kind caught intact – ever! Large colossal squid specimens in good condition are rarely available to scientists, so this latest example has caused great excitement.

Ask our squid scientists:

Email sciencelive@tepapa.govt.nz with your questions for our squid scientists, or add them in the comments area below. We’ll answer them during the live show.

For regular updates and the latest on the colossal squid, follow:

Colossal squid blogs: www.blog.tepapa.govt.nz/category/colossa­l-squid

See also here.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister’s spying scandal


This 13 September video is called [Glenn] Greenwald: GCSB Statement “We Do Not Engage in Mass Surveillance of New Zealanders” is Not Truthful.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

New Zealand PM deceiving public over spying claims, says Glenn Greenwald

Journalist says he will produce documents by Edward Snowden that prove John Key approved mass surveillance of citizens

Toby Manhire in Auckland

Sunday 14 September 2014 13.15 BST

An already tumultuous New Zealand election campaign took another dramatic turn less than a week before polling day when the prime minister, John Key, responded angrily to claims by the American journalist Glenn Greenwald that he had been “deceiving the public” over assurances on spying.

Greenwald, who is visiting New Zealand at the invitation of the German internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, says he will produce documents provided by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that prove the New Zealand government approved mass surveillance of its residents by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), New Zealand’s equivalent of the NSA.

Dotcom, who is sought for extradition from New Zealand by the US on copyright charges relating to his now defunct Megaupload file-storage site, is hosting an event in Auckland on Monday called The Moment of Truth, which doubles as a rally for the Dotcom-founded Internet party.

Greenwald has promised to produce his evidence at the event, while Dotcom is pledging to show further links between Key and Hollywood relating to his own case. Adding to the spectacle, Julian Assange is expected to beam in via video link from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, while Dotcom has hinted that Snowden may also appear on the big screen from Moscow.

In media interviews, Key has repeatedly dismissed Greenwald as “Dotcom’s little henchman”.

Greenwald responded by saying: “I absolutely stand by everything I’ve said.” He told 3 News: “They did far more than look at the idea; they adopted the idea and took steps to make it a reality.”

He added: “I’ve done reporting of surveillance all over the world and a lot of governments haven’t liked what I’ve said, but I’ve never seen a head of government lose their dignity and get down in the mud and start chucking names to discredit the journalist in order to discredit the journalism.”

Greenwald, a former Guardian journalist, has authored hundreds of stories based on leaks from Edward Snowden exposing the breadth of surveillance undertaken by the NSA and its partners in the Five-Eyes alliance, which includes New Zealand. The work was recognised with a Pulitzer prize in April 2014.

Even before the spying controversy, the Key campaign was bedevilled by scandal, with a senior cabinet minister forced to resign following the publication of a book based on hacked emails that revealed links between the ruling centre-right National party and an attack-blogger.

Ahead of election, Snowden reveals mass spying on New Zealanders: here.

Britons with depression not getting treatment


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Can we use video games to treat depression?

17 April 2011

Ever wonder if gaming can be used as a therapy for young people with depression?

Find out how University of Auckland researcher, Dr Sally Merry, and her team of researchers and games developers have created a video game to treat youth depression. Sally hopes the therapy will reach out to depressed youth, 75% of whom would normally receive no treatment.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Two-thirds of Britons with depression get no treatment

If these figures related to cancer patients the nation would be in uproar, says new president of Royal College of Psychiatrists

Sarah Boseley, health editor

Wednesday 13 August 2014 13.12 BST

Less than a third of people with common mental health problems get any treatment at all – a situation the nation would not tolerate if they had cancer, according to the incoming president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

While the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has pledged to deliver “parity of esteem” for mental and physical health services, the treatment gap is now so huge that it may prove impossible to bridge in the current financial climate, said Professor Simon Wessely of King’s College London in his first interview since election to the post.

“People are still routinely waiting for – well, we don’t really know, but certainly more than 18 weeks, possibly up to two years, for their treatment and that is routine in some parts of the country. Some children aren’t getting any treatment at all – literally none. That’s what’s happening. So although we have the aspiration, the gap is now so big and yet there is no more money,” he said.

Wessely said there would be a public outcry if those who went without treatment were cancer patients rather than people with mental health problems. Imagine, he told the Guardian, the reaction if he gave a talk that began: “‘So, we have a problem in cancer service at the moment. Only 30% of people with cancer are getting treatment, so 70% of them don’t get any treatment for their cancer at all and it’s not even recognised.”

If he were truly talking about cancer, he said, “you’d be absolutely appalled and you would be screaming from the rooftops.” Wessely said he had asked Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, how the gap would be bridged but was told that resolving the issue would involve a “much longer conversation with the public”.

A larger proportion of people with psychosis, who have severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, are on treatment, but even that figure is still only 65%, according to Wessely, who added: “That doesn’t mean they are getting the right treatment or anything like that, but getting something. For most mental disorders it is still the exception not the rule to be recognised, detected and treated. So when we talk about the rise in antidepressant prescribing, before we start leaping to the tumbrils and saying the world’s coming to an end we should have a look and say, hang on a second, if that is appropriate prescribing then that’s good.”

The concern over pills for common mental disorders – for depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for instance – could be misplaced, Wessely argued. Much of the criticism assumes that GPs are putting many more people on pills because of an absence of counselling or talking therapies, even though the numbers of therapists being trained to provide cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has substantially risen thanks to a government programme called IAPT (improving access to psychological therapies).

Wessely applauded IAPT, but did not accept the argument that talking therapies were necessarily “better”, a word that to many people has a moral implication. “If you say they are more effective, I don’t really think that’s true. I think they are cheaper and easier. CBT is more popular with some people, but other people don’t like it,” he said. “The truth is most people don’t get either. Of course if you are working in areas of high antidepressant prescribing – they tend to be difficult areas like Merthyr Tydfil or Blackpool – of course where you don’t have good psychological services then you will use antidepressants. That’s not wrong, but what’s wrong is you don’t have the alternatives.”

In the US, the rate of use of stimulant drugs such as Ritalin exceeds the number of people with ADHD, so there is over-medication of the disorder. “But in Britain it is under, which suggests under-prescribing.”

The UK is also seriously short of psychiatric beds. “The fact that people are travelling hundreds of miles for a bed, the fact that bed occupancy is now 100% everywhere – in some trusts it is 110% and we’re hot-bedding – is a symptom of a system [in crisis]. Relatives and patients hate it. Junior doctors hate it – they spend all their time on the phone. Sometimes bad decisions are made just to get a bed. But we don’t think the answer is just let us have some more beds because those will probably fill up as well. We’ve been told for years that if we just get community care right we won’t need beds. That’s clearly not true. We will be announcing a commission on beds but it’s really on systems. Beds are symptomatic of a problem.”

Wessely, who is married to Clare Gerada, recent head of the Royal College of GPs, strongly believes in the need for general doctors, nurses, midwives and social workers to have more mental health training and for there to be much greater integration of diagnosis and treatment of physical and mental disorders. Trials have shown that picking up and treating depression in people with type 2 diabetes improves the control they have over the disease: they take their medication and keep complications at bay. And there are patients who are referred by their GP to a specialist because of a suspected heart complaint – which turns out to be panic attacks that have not been picked up for months.

“The whole of our healthcare system is about separating mental and physical. You couldn’t devise a system better suited to separating the mental and the physical if you tried,” he said. At King’s, psychiatrists have been put into general medical clinics with great results. “Most people have quite complicated views of their illness anyway,” he said. They are not resistant to doctors offering cardiac tests and counselling for a recent divorce at the same time.

“Certainly when you look at the cost of investigations, when you look at the cost of treatment that isn’t necessary, when you look at the cost of lost working days, when you look at the cost of additional care, actually it does become cost effective. The problem we always have is those savings are not always made to the health service.

“But we know people with physical health problems who also have mental health problems cost about 45% more than those who don’t. That’s absolutely and unequivocally clear. The cost of their care goes up. They comply less with treatment, they come back more often, they have lower satisfaction and they have more complications.”

• To contact Samaritans, call 08457 90 90 90

New Zealand great white shark research


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Great white shark, Pip

In the second of our series on New Zealand great whites we’re introducing you to Pip. She’s a recent addition to our tagging programme and is a decent size at 3.3 metres long.

From Wildlife Extra:

Great white shark project reveals surprising facts to NZ researchers

A 10-year project to find out more about the great white sharks that inhabit New Zealand waters is coming to an end as scientists tackle the final phases of data analysis.

The project was run jointly by the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and the NZ Department of Conservation project to fisheries scientist and shark expert Dr Malcolm Francis is one of several scientists who have spent the past decade tagging great whites – a protected species – and following their movements.

Dr Francis said the initial aims of the project were to find out how mobile the sharks were, how far they travelled and where to, and their habitat requirements.

The tagging programme involved the use of acoustic tags, determining how the sharks use their habitat near seal colonies, pop-up tags that gather data on light, depth and temperature, and electronic tags attached to a shark’s dorsal fin to track their movements.

Since 2005, the team has tagged 95 sharks, mainly at the Chatham Islands and Stewart Island and have made some surprising discoveries.

“We found that most migrate to the tropics during winter,” he said. “The first one or two we saw do this came as a real surprise. They go between May and July and return between December and March, spending more time out of New Zealand waters than in.”

A 3.3m-long great white named Pip by the researchers, arrived in New South Wales near Sydney, with tracking data showing she took 20 days to travel 2,020km from the southern Snares Shelf. She has since moved steadily northwards, and recently entered Queensland waters.

By comparison, great white sharks that live around the southern Australian coast travel mainly up the east or west coasts, but do not often venture into the open ocean.

The New Zealand tagging also showed that the sharks travel in a remarkably straight line on their migrations, averaging about 5km/h or 100km/day, but have done up to 150km a day.

In the afternoons they tend to spend time at the surface but also make regular dives between 200 and 800m – the record depth is 1,246m.

“We don’t know why they’re doing that,” said Francis. “We assume they’re feeding. We also don’t know how they navigate in a straight line or why. It’s a big puzzle and not one we are likely to work out.

“While we’ve found out some answers to some questions, our work has also raised a series of other questions. We’ve found out about the large scale, and where and when they hang out around northern Stewart Island, but not what they do close to mainland New Zealand.

Clinton Duffy, shark scientist with the Department of Conservation, said, “We confirmed that juveniles inhabit shallow coastal waters and harbours around New Zealand, feeding mainly on fish.

“Once they grow to about 3m long, the sharks begin to feed on marine mammals. They continue to feed on fish or squid but they tend to aggregate near seal colonies, so there are large behaviour changes.”

The information gathered on the distribution of sharks will now be compared with the distribution of commercial fishing to figure out where and when the sharks are at greatest risk of being inadvertently caught by fishing gear.

See Warwick Lyon, a marine biologist on the project, talking about two of the sharks they have been monitoring, Pip and Scarface, in the videos.

This video says about itself:

Great white shark, Scarface

Meet Scarface, a great white we have been monitoring for a couple of years. He’s a bit of a character, inquisitive and a little aggressive. Watch the video to find out how Scarface got his name.

Rare takahē birds released in New Zealand


This video says about itself:

Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue: Burwood — Motutapu Transfer

Saving Takahē is a big job! With only about 260 birds left, they’re critically endangered; that means the next step could be extinction. We want to save this unique part of New Zealand so partner with the Department of Conservation on the Takahē Recovery Programme.

A big part of the programme involves carefully managing the population and moving birds around to predator free sites and in November 2012 one of the biggest transfers occurred with nine birds travelling the length of the country in one day to reach a safe new home.

Check out this video to follow their journey and to find out more about takahē rescue efforts.

This video says about itself:

Takahē release on Motutapu Island

12 November 2012

There are only 260 takahē in the world and nine were released on Motutapu on Sunday 4 November. Motutapu is a pest free island half an hour by ferry from downtown Auckland.

Takahē were once widespread throughout New Zealand but have been brought to the brink of extinction by predators, particularly stoats, and the destruction of their habitat.

From the Department of Conservation in New Zealand:

Island home for takahē lovebirds

Date: 24 July 2014

By Amy Cameron | Partnerships Ranger, based in Auckland

A pair of takahē lovebirds have a new home on Motutapu Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. He Maipi and Autahi flew up from the Burwood Bush Takahē Rearing Unit near Te Anau yesterday with the help of Air New Zealand.

They were welcomed to the island by Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki and the Motutapu Restoration Trust.

This pair will bring the number of takahē on the island to 18. It’s hoped He Maipi and Autahi will thrive on pest-free Motutapu and that the pitter patter of tiny takahē feet will not be too far away.

The Department of Conservation works with Mitre 10 to ensure the survival, growth and security of takahē populations throughout New Zealand.

Foreign soldiers killed Afghan peasants


This video says about itself:

Investigative journalist Jon Stephenson talks about New Zealand’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Marae Investigates TVNZ 24 April 2011.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

Civilians were killed in New Zealand-US raid on Afghan village

5 July 2014

An investigation by journalist Jon Stephenson, broadcast on Maori Television on Monday, found that a raid on an Afghan village on August 22, 2010, involving New Zealand, US and Afghan soldiers, resulted in 21 casualties, all of them innocent civilians.

According to the report—based on interviews with survivors, NGOs and Afghan government officials, and cell phone videos of the dead—six people were killed, including a three-year-old girl, and 15 were wounded.

The night-time raid on the village of Tirgiran in Baghlan province was in retaliation for an insurgent attack on New Zealand soldiers in neighbouring Bamiyan province on August 4 that killed Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell.

The US-led attack, which unleashed awesome firepower against an apparently defenceless village, was typical of the operations of the occupation forces. The war, which has lasted more than 12 years and caused tens of thousands of deaths, is a neo-colonial venture that faces widespread and entrenched opposition. The aim of such attacks is to terrorise the population into submission.

US helicopter gunships repeatedly fired on houses and dropped off NZ SAS troops, who burst into people’s homes. According to a press statement at the time by the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), 12 “insurgents” were killed. But ISAF also said there was a “possibility” of civilian deaths because a helicopter gun “malfunction” led to soldiers shooting into the wrong building. The New York Times quoted district governor Mohammed Ismail two days after the raid, who said eight people had been killed, including two women and a child.

In April 2011, NZ’s then defence minister Wayne Mapp told TVNZ that the raid was necessary “to protect our people.” He said allegations of civilian deaths had “been investigated and proven to be false.”

However, Said Ahmad, a 38-year-old farmer, who received shrapnel wounds from the raid, told Stephenson: “There were no Taliban. All of the people that were killed or wounded were innocent people … The helicopters were going, coming, going and coming in circles and firing on people. They shot at us and killed and wounded defenseless people.”

Mohammad Iqbal, another farmer who still has shrapnel lodged in his back and is unable to work, claimed that nine of those wounded were women.

Dr Abdul Rahman, one of the first people who arrived after the attack, showed Stephenson pictures of the dead and the wounded, and explained that he helped to bury a three-year-old girl named Fatima. Rahman provided a certificate issued by the former district governor, listing the names of the dead and wounded.

Stephenson noted that the United Nations and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission both acknowledged the civilian casualties in a 2011 report. He also stated: “SAS troopers who took part in the mission are concerned that civilians died there.” He said there were no claims that NZ troops had themselves killed civilians.

Despite the extensive evidence that the raid on Tirgiran resulted in a massacre of innocent people, the NZ government dismissed Stephenson’s report. Prime Minister John Key told TV3 last Tuesday that a “thorough review” by the Chief of Defence Force had found that “there were insurgents that were killed but that was it.”

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman was more evasive. He told reporters: “New Zealanders were not involved—and that’s categorical—in any civilian casualties or deaths.” Then he added that he “couldn’t rule out” that civilians had died in the raid “through actions taken by other forces.”

Stephenson hit back at the government, telling TV3 that, in addition to the eyewitness accounts in his report, “I did a lot of other investigation and confirmed from very senior Afghan officials, and from people like hospital directors and NGOs, that those accounts were accurate. So I think the prime minister’s in another world if he thinks that all this evidence counts for nothing and that he is categorically right.”

Stephenson has been harassed and spied on by the government and the military for previous reports exposing the complicity of NZ forces in war crimes—including a May 2011 report that revealed NZ troops had handed over prisoners to US and Afghan authorities for torture.

Last year the Sunday Star-Times revealed that the NZ military collaborated with US spy agencies to monitor Stephenson’s phone calls, and those of his associates, when he was in Afghanistan. A Defence Force manual leaked to the newspaper said “certain investigative journalists” should be regarded as a subversive “threat.” It said they could “obtain politically sensitive information” that could “bring the Government into disrepute” and called for “counter-intelligence” operations against them.

In June 2011, Stephenson complained to police after allegedly receiving a death threat from a senior SAS officer at a Wellington bar. Police said they investigated but did not lay charges.

Following Stephenson’s latest report, the political establishment closed ranks to defend the military. Labour leader David Cunliffe made a vague call for an “investigation” into the raid, while declaring that “New Zealand’s military has a proud record … It’s likely that New Zealand troops are not culpable but I think all New Zealanders would want to see the air cleared and the New Zealand military’s honour upheld.”

It was the 1999-2008 Labour government, supported by the “left wing” Alliance Party, that first sent SAS commandos into Afghanistan in 2001. More than a hundred NZ soldiers remained in the country until April 2013. Ten of them died.

Journalist Nicky Hager’s 2011 book Other People’s Wars revealed that intelligence agents from NZ’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) also worked throughout the war under US commanders, helping to select targets for assassination by ground troops or air strikes across Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Greens, who supported the main troop deployment to Afghanistan, have remained silent on Stephenson’s revelations. So has the Maori nationalist Mana Party and its electoral ally, the Internet Party.

The coverup is driven by a definite agenda. Successive governments have strengthened military and intelligence ties with Washington, on which NZ’s ruling elite relies to conduct its own neo-colonial interests in the South Pacific.

Labour and the Greens, along with the National Party government, have not only indicated that they would support direct US intervention in Syria and Iraq. The political establishment backs the US military build-up in the Asia-Pacific, aimed at preparing for war against China. Key’s visit to Washington last month signalled closer collaboration with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia.”

The author also recommends:

NZ government aligns more closely with US amid rising tensions with China
[2 July 2014]

AFGHAN Defence Ministry spokesman General Mohammmad Zahir Azimi blamed a “terrorist in an army uniform” yesterday for a shooting spree that left a US general dead and 15 soldiers wounded. …Earlier, 200 people took part in an angry demonstration in Herat after a Nato helicopter strike killed four Afghan civilians: here.

On Tuesday, a soldier in the Afghan army opened fire on a group of high-ranking NATO coalition members, killing an American major general. The attack, which occurred at the British-run Marshall Fahim National Defense University outside of Kabul, comes amidst an increase in violence in Afghanistan over the past year: here.