Hellbenders in Appalachia, USA


This video says about itself:

The Last Dragons – Protecting Appalachia‘s Hellbenders

An intimate glimpse at North America’s Eastern Hellbender, an ancient salamander that lives as much in myth as in reality…. and in many waters, myths are all that remain of these sentinel stream-dwellers.

9 min. Closed Captioned in English & Spanish. Produced by Freshwaters Illustrated in Partnership with the US Forest Service.

From the Bites @ Animal Planet blog in the USA:

Meet the Hellbender

By: David Mizejewski

Just in time for Halloween, I introduce you to the hellbender.

No, it’s not one of Satan’s minions or a CGI monster. It’s a type of salamander native to the streams and rivers of eastern North America.  Despite its demonic-sounding name, this spectacular amphibian is completely harmless to people. Yet the species is rapidly declining due to human activity such as deforestation, erosion and chemical runoff into our streams–which is the real horror story.

Watch this video put out by the Forest Service and partners about one of North America’s most fascinating and little-known wild animals. …

Save Appalachian streams and the hellbenders that live in them with National Wildlife Federation.

Czars not good at stopping epidemics


This video says about itself:

Marlene Dietrich as Catherine II [‘the Great’, czarina of Russia]

The Scarlet Empress‘, 1934. Directed by Josef von Sternberg.

From Mother Jones in the USA:

Would Any of the Actual Czars Have Stopped Ebola?

No.

By Tim Murphy

Fri Oct. 17, 2014 11:03 AM EDT

We need an Ebola czar, apparently. It “may make sense,” President Barack Obama announced on Thursday night. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) agreed, calling on the administration to appoint someone like Colin Powell to manage the response to the deadly virus in the United States—five years after pushing legislation that would have prohibited the White House from appointing such czars. If it’s a czar they want, it’s a czar they must have. By Friday morning, we’d seen the white smoke: the President tapped Ron Klain, Vice President Joe Biden‘s former chief of staff, to head the response.

But are czars any better than anyone else at responding to and containing outbreaks of infectious disease? If history is a guide, probably not:

Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible: Kind of incompetent, as the name suggests. When the bubonic plague killed 10,000 people in the city of Novgorod, triggering civil unrest, Ivan responded by sending his vicious secret police, the Oprichniki, to burn down the town and kill the inhabitants. Yikes.

Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great: Although more popular than Ivan and largely successful in her aim of expanding the empire’s land holdings, Russia’s greatest czar was helpless in the face of the plague of 1771. Dissatisfaction with Catherine’s handling of the outbreak, which killed more people in Moscow than the Black Death, resulted in the Moscow Plague Riot of 1771, during which time protesters assassinated an archbishop in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Peter the Great

Peter the Great: A real can-do spirit—just look at that mustache! When his soldiers contracted plague during a campaign in the Baltic, Peter ordered them to fall back and then took aggressive measures to prevent a full-fledged outbreak. “Unlike earlier outbreaks, when no medical assistance had been provided, Peter took a more active view and sent Dr. Christian Wiel to supervise anti-plague measures,” wrote John T. Alexander, in his comprehensive study, Bubonic Plague in Early Modern Russia: Public Health and Urban Disaster. Historians credit Peter with nationalizing the response to disease outbreaks and investing new resources in medical institutions. But that didn’t stop the disease from spreading east.

Nicholas II

Nicholas II: Nicholas is known mostly for being deposed during the Russian Revolution, but before he was executed he also proved himself largely incapable of responding to a string of cholera epidemics in the city of Saratov, even after a similar outbreak in the city during the Crimean War less than two decades earlier. The historian Charlotte Henze noted “huge gaps between the legislation of public health measures and their actual implementation.”

“Ebola Czar” an expert on Washington, not medicine: here.

Irish bird news


This video from the USA is called American Wigeon.

From a Rare Bird Network Twitter message about Ireland:

County Donegal: AMERICAN WIGEON 1 drake today at Inishowen Peninsula. At Culdaff Estuary (10:55am).