Blaming rape victims in the USA


This video, from Wales, says about itself:

Is it possible that a woman who drinks, dances and flirts, ALL in a short skirt, is doing it for her own enjoyment? Rape. Sexual assault. Let’s STOP blaming the victim.

For more information and support visit http://www.stopblame.org or call the helpline on 0808 80 10 800.

If a woman gets raped in the United Arab Emirates, then she may get arrested. If a woman gets raped in Afghanistan, then she may be jailed. If a girl gets raped in the Maldives, then authorities may have her whipped. If a woman soldier gets raped in the United States armed forces, then she may be persecuted. In Somalia, police may rape a woman, and then jail her.

The problem is more widespread.

By Rebecca Leber in the USA:

Until Last Week, The Official Policy Of One Virginia City Was To Assume All Rape Victims Were Lying

August 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

Until last week, Norfolk, Virginia police classified sexual assault claims to be “unfounded” — or not valid — by default. According to the Virginian-Pilot, a 22-year-old woman’s case prompted Norfolk police chief Mike Goldsmith to update the policy so that officers must now assume rape victims are telling the truth.

The woman reported the attack immediately to police, only to be told, “If we find out that you’re lying, this will be a felony charge.” Before giving her a medical examination, officers subjected the woman to interrogations during which they said things like, “You’re telling us a different story than you told … the other detectives,” and “This only happened hours ago. Why can’t you remember?” Having had enough, the woman cut off the interview.

The police eventually arrested and charged the attacker for multiple other sexual assaults and felonies, and Goldsmith apologized for mishandling the woman’s initial allegations. Now that Goldsmith has updated the policy for handling sexual assault cases, the department will also undergo training for post-traumatic stress disorder and rape trauma.

Many other areas have this same problem. In light of a Baltimore investigation on the city’s high number of unfounded cases, the Police Executive Research Forum noted, “Unwarranted ‘unfounding’ of cases can result in offenders remaining free — and in victims losing trust in the justice system.” This classification also leads to lower reports of rape, because “unfounded” cases are not included in crime stats.

For law enforcement to assume that rape victims are usually lying is a gross misunderstanding of the number of false rape accusations. Only two to eight percent of reported rapes are false reports, and even fewer ever include a specific false accusation. In fact, the real problem is that most rapes go unreported.

Nearly one in four young men in Scotland still blame rape victims for drinking or dressing “provocatively,” alarming new research found today: here.

Teenage girl’s American revolutionary war discovery


Eighth-grader Finney Lynch holds the Revolutionary War-era button she found in Yorktown. (Photo courtesy the Watermen’s Museum)

From the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily in the USA:

Eighth-Grade Archaeology Camper Finds Revolutionary War Button at Yorktown

August 1, 2013 By Brittany Voll

The rain on June 24 did more than just water the plants. It likely loosed a Revolutionary War-era button from a bank of land after more than 230 years, planting it in full view of an eighth-grade archaeology camper.

As Finney Lynch, an eighth-grade student at The Covenant School in Charlottesville, walked the path from the Archer Cottage next to Cornwallis’ Cave at Yorktown to the Watermen’s Museum on June 25, she spotted a button in the muddy ground.

“I picked it up and didn’t think it was anything at all,” Lynch said.

She gave the button to the Watermen’s Museum Archaeology Camp leader Jason Lunze, and he knew what she had found: an 18th-century button made of copper alloy, like bronze, from the Revolutionary War.

The button has been researched and is believed to be a collar or sleeve button from the 85th Saintonge Regiment Infantrie, a French unit based in the West Indies that traveled to Newport, R.I., and marched to Yorktown to aid George Washington’s troops during the 1781 Siege of Yorktown.

“I was actually really surprised, kind of shocked, because I don’t usually find stuff like that,” Lynch said. “I’m good at finding stuff on the ground like necklaces and coins but I’ve never found something from the Revolutionary War so that was really exciting.”

Due to the rarity of the button – the last button of the same time period was found 20 years ago — and its good condition, conservation efforts began immediately.

“I have buttons in my own dresser that do not look as good as this button does in person,” said the Watermen’s Museum Executive Director Dr. David Niebuhr.

Because the button was found in close proximity to the water, the first step in conservation was to purge the button of any potential salt contamination. Niebuhr explained when an artifact is exposed to salt water and is taken out of that environment it can deteriorate into nothing over time, sometimes within weeks.

After purging the salt water from the button, it will be stabilized using a strong solvent to prevent it from deterioration.

A dental wax mold will be made of the button so a resin cast can be manufactured for Lynch to have as a keepsake. Lynch said she isn’t sure when her button cast will arrive, but she’s excited to receive it.

“I think I’m going to put it somewhere really safe and special so I can have it for, like, ever,” she said.

The button will eventually be turned over to the National Park Service. The park service’s initial inclination was to put the button on display at the Yorktown Visitor Center, Niebuhr said.

Endangered whale saved by fishermen


Wildlife Extra writes about this:

Endangered Northern Right whale saved by local fishermen off Virginia Beach – Video

Northern Right whale caught in fishing gear

July 2013. Local Virginia Beach fishermen, Captain “Pat Foster” and Mate “Adrian Colaprete”, who run a charter fishing boat based out of Rudee Inlet, rescue endangered Northern Right whale that had become entangled in some rope or fishing gear.

They were about 50 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach helping a team of scientists conduct research studies offshore. Pat spotted a whale swimming irregularly in the distance and decided to have a closer look. The team identified the whale as an endangered species … the Northern Right whale and noted the whale was in serious danger. The whale was tangled in some sort of fishing ropes or trap line and was slowly dragging the fishing gear behind it.

Pat and Adrian decided they would have to try and assess the situation a little further and find out if they could do something to help the whale. After identifying the whale’s movement pattern the team decided Adrian would get in the water with the whale and take a closer look. When Adrian swam up to the whale he sensed the whale was welcoming his help and he made the decision to cut the rope tangling the whale to the line of fishing gear. After the rope was cut the tangled fishing gear sank to the bottom of the ocean and the whale swam away free.

World’s most endangered whale

The North Atlantic right whale is the most endangered great whale, with a population of less than 400. Human activity-particularly ship collisions and entanglement in commercial fishing gear-is the most common cause of North Atlantic right whale deaths. Because females do not become sexually mature until ten years of age and give birth to a single calf after a yearlong pregnancy, populations grow slowly.

The most common causes of mortality for Northern Right whales is due to getting tangled in fishing gear and ship collisions.

US American zoo and world biodiversity


This video from the USA is called White-Naped Cranes at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute TBD.

The main source for this post is the United States Department of State. Which, like all governmental information, also on some other subjects and in some other countries, should never be taken for granted. And not in all zoos in the world, things go as well as in the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park in the capital of the USA; as well as the United States Department of State claims that they go.

Here it comes:

America’s “Superzoo” Promotes Biodiversity, Conservation

By Jane Morse, 11 July 2013

Washington — If you think of a zoo as only a collection of sad animals locked in cages, then you haven’t been to the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park.

About 2,000 animals representing 400 species live and thrive at this 66-hectare urban park located in northwest Washington. The only federally funded zoo in the United States, the National Zoo was founded in 1889 to provide leadership in animal care, science, education and sustainability.

More than 2 million people from around the globe visit this facility each year. What most people never get to see is an array of endangered species and the small army of scientists and wildlife experts who study them at the zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI).

Located on 1,295 hectares of rolling hills in Front Royal, Virginia, SCBI is devoted to training wildlife professionals in conservation biology and to propagating rare species through natural means and assisted reproduction.

“We are the focal point for conservation for the entire Smithsonian Institution,” Dr. Steven L. Monfort, SCBI’s director, told a group of foreign journalists who recently visited the facility as part of a program offered by the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Press Center.

No other institution, Monfort said, has a pool of expertise to draw upon that includes some 500 scientists with doctoral degrees, plus graduate students, postdoctoral students and trainees. Since the 1960s, all this brainpower has enabled the zoo to publish 4,800 scientific papers, more than any other zoo.

SCBI’s mission, Monfort said, is not just to understand biodiversity, but to take an active role in saving it — both in the United States and around the world. SCBI scientists work in 25 countries, including Panama, Peru, Gabon, Namibia, Botswana, Thailand, Malaysia, Mongolia, China, India and Jamaica.

“We’re about fundamental science, but we are using science to help resolve conservation problems and work on helping to train the next generation of scientists,” Monfort said.

SCBI also has one of the top reproductive science programs in the world, according to Monfort. “That’s important,” he said, “because we know virtually nothing about the way that species reproduce.”

Of the 5,500 known mammal species, Monfort said, about 220, mostly lab and farm animals, are understood in terms of their reproductive biology and behavior. “So we are right at the point of the tip of the iceberg in understanding how some of these species reproduce,” he said. “We bring them into captivity and they don’t reproduce and we don’t know why.”

But slowly some of the 25 species of mammals and birds kept at SCBI are divulging their secrets. Case in point: cheetahs.

Cheetahs are listed as “vulnerable” by the World Conservation Union, which has more than 1,000 government and nongovernmental organizations as members. Only an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 cheetahs are thought to endure in the wild. The fastest animal on land could not, it seems, outrun the depredation of human conflict, hunting and habitat loss.

Only about 30 percent of cheetahs in captivity reproduce, Monfort said. But by patiently collecting and analyzing fecal samples, scientists have discovered that when female cheetahs are kept in groups, as is the case in some zoos, the dominant member will excrete a hormone that represses the reproductive cycles of the others.

In the wild, female cheetahs live alone, and a male will pass through the territories of various females to find a mate to accept him, Monfort explained. So at SCBI, four and a half hectares are devoted to female cheetahs, each of which has her own yard. The males are paraded past them. End result: Four litters have been born at SCBI. And while this may not seem like a lot, it is a success for a struggling species.

With some 25 percent of all vertebrate groups at risk of extinction around the world, we humans need to worry, Monfort said. “Humans are part of biodiversity,” he said. “Ecosystems help humans survive.”

If ecosystems collapse, Monfort said, humans lose out on climate regulation, flood and disease controls, and many other benefits, including those yet to be discovered.

Smithsonian Institution resources make it uniquely qualified to uncover some of the mysteries, Monfort said. In addition to its own work on conservation and saving endangered species, SCBI is an international hub for other training organizations.

As for America’s “superzoo” as well as many others, Monfort observed: “Zoos have evolved from being places with a circus-type menagerie for people’s entertainment. … Zoos are looking into becoming conservation centers.”

See the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute website for more information.

Learn more about the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums, nine research centers and more than 140 affiliate museums around the world, at the Smithsonian Institution’s website.

Zoos & Wildlife Conservation: here.

Welsh osprey update


From Wildlife Extra:

Amazing week at Cors Dyfi osprey project

Monty and his new mate, Blue 12, at Cors Dyfi

Monty and his new mate, Blue 12, at Cors Dyfi

5 females and 2 males in a week

May 2013. Monty, the male that has been resident at Cors Dyfi for the last year or two, has not been joined by his regular mate, Nora, this year. In her absence over the last week Monty has been ‘flirting’ with at least 5 different females, whilst another male was seen in the area as well. It appears that Monty has now settled down with ‘Blue 12′, who was hatched at Rutland Water in 2010, and, interesting, was spotted at Rutland on 27th April, a few days before she appeared at Dyfi.

Click here to go to the Cors Dyfi Osprey blog.

May 2013. Countryside Rangers from conservation charity, the National Trust for Scotland are keeping a 24 hour watch on the Threave Estate‘s ospreys after a suspected attempt to steal the nesting birds’ eggs: here.

Osprey nest in Virginia, USA: here.

US Air Force ‘anti’-sexual assault officer arrested for sexual assault


By Hayes Brown in the USA:

Air Force Officer In Charge Of Sexual Assault Prevention Arrested For Sexual Assault

May 6, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Krusinski mug shot

Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski’s booking photo (Credit: ARLnow.com)

The officer in charge of the U.S. Air Force’s response to sexual assault was himself arrested for sexual battery this weekend, drawing attention yet again to the extent of rape culture in the armed services.

Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski is accused of assaulting a woman in an Arlington, VA, parking lot early Sunday morning. According to the police report of the incident, Krusinski approached the woman in question after a night of drinking:

On May 5 at 12:35 am, a drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks. The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with sexual battery. He was held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.

Krusinski is the head of the Air Force’s branch of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, a Department of Defense initiative to combat sexual assault in the ranks. A spokesperson for the Air Force confirmed to local blog ARLnow.com the man described in the police report is in fact Lt. Col. Krusinski, but gave no further comment. ARLNow also confirmed that the woman and Krusinski did not know each other prior to the encounter.

The Air Force’s response to sexual violence was last scrutinized following a controversial case involving an Air Force general overturning a jury’s sexual assault conviction. That case launched a review of the military’s approach to cases involving sexual assault, resulting in Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel sending Congress a series of recommendations for them to pass into law. As it stands, however, an estimated 19,000 instances of sexual assault occurred in 2011 alone.

(HT: Graham Jenkins)

Update

Wired’s Danger Room is reporting that the Air Force has removed Lt. Col. Krusinski from his role as chief of the Sexual Assault and Prevention Response program.

Wildlife photography with automatic cameras


Monkey

From Co.Exist:

by Emily Badger

Amazing Photos Of Animals In The Wild, Snapped By Hidden Automatic Cameras

The Smithsonian’s Wild project uses advanced automated cameras to capture images of animals in their natural habitats as they go about their day. It’s a much better kind of specimen than a dead, stuffed animal.

Bill McShea has traveled to China more than 20 times as a research ecologist in search of pandas–or at least signs of them–while working with conservation parks eager to monitor their wildlife. In all that time, he has seen a panda, with his own eyes, twice. The unglamorous career of an ecologist more often involves scavenging for scat or animal tracks, the evidence left behind.

“That’s my living. You’d be surprised how few wildlife I see,” says McShea, an ecologist with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. “You just never see them. If you are wildlife living in some place like Asia, you’re running for your life every day of the week. You’re not standing around waiting for somebody to take a picture of you or get you in their gun sights.”

Lioness

McShea’s job, however, is changing, and along with it our understanding of wildlife populations and behavior that scientists seldom get to lay eyes on. McShea runs the Smithsonian’s Wild program from a research station in Front Royal, an hour west of Washington in Virginia black bear country. Through the project, the Smithsonian has already gathered more than 200,000 images of giant pandas, bobcats, cougars, water buffalo, and more surreptitiously snapped by motion-trigger cameras hiding all over the world. Many of the animals appear, eyes blazing in the dark, as if they’ve been caught red-handed on a convenience-store camera.

Together, these images represent a modern collection for the nation’s museum. “We’re just talking about collecting a different kind of museum specimen,” McShea says. “Instead of having it be a skin in a drawer, it’s a photograph. But that photograph has a date and a place and a time and species identification and a collection ID. It has much of the information that the original specimen had.”

It has just about everything but the DNA. In other ways, this collection is even more valuable than the old dust-gathering kind. This image database contains vastly more data, and photos today are much easier to transport across national borders than physical bits of animals. McShea can now compare the conservation strategies of different parks across the world. (How do you know, for instance, if a Chinese park is low on pandas, or just short on experts who know how to track them?) And this project can now definitively document species where we weren’t sure they existed, or–worse–identify where they seem to have disappeared. “The advent of these cameras was just a godsend,” McShea says.

Giraffe

Wildlife photographers have been at this since the 1920s, trying to fashion more rudimentary motion triggers. (Here’s a popular one: Wait until an animal tugs at a piece of bait attached to a string that pulls the shutter of a camera closed.) A later generation of wildlife cameras was powered by car batteries in the 1980s. And then there was the problem of shooting in places like the steamy tropics on actual film. “It would get all mushy,” McShea recalls.

Ironically, deer hunters have largely pushed the development of this technology that’s today used for conservation. Over the last eight years or so, most of these cameras have gone digital. And they now have infrared flashes that don’t daze the animals. Most of the time, the wildlife never even know the cameras are there, mounted, at about the size of a children’s lunch box, onto the sides of trees. Okay, some of the animals notice, elephants and bears in particular. “Elephants are smart enough to say ‘that’s not natural over there,’” McShea says. “They just go out of their way to step on it and squash it.”

The project now includes images taken by partner researchers and organizations far from the Smithsonian. Give them your images, McShea says, and the museum will keep them forever. He hopes soon that the project will become even bigger, including more partnerships and rigorous submissions from citizen-scientists. In the meantime, the camera technology is likely to only get better. Today, researchers still have to troop out into the forest to pull memory cards from cameras that run on AA batteries. Perhaps cell phone technology will enable the cameras to instantly upload images in the future.

Some of what we’ll learn from the project will inevitably discourage us, as researchers are able to better document our true impact on nature. But other snapshots will surprise us. The Wild program received one image of a snow leopard from a wildlife reserve in China.

“There aren’t supposed to be any snow leopards in this whole province, and here is one in this one reserve, and that’s fantastic,” McShea says. “And the reserve is far happier than I am. They have old guys there saying ‘yes, we have snow leopards here!’ And nobody believed them.”