How king snakes eat larger snakes, videos

This video from the USA is called JCE Coral Snake vs Scarlet King Snake.

From LiveScience, about North American snakes:

How Does a Snake Swallow a Larger Snake?

How the common king snake can ingest other snakes that equal or exceed its own length was long a mystery. But scientists now think they know some of the reptile’s super-sizing tricks.

Snake jaws, by the way, are unlike those of other animals in their ability to open wide to swallow big fat things, too.

Kate Jackson of the University of Toronto and colleagues used an array of video and still images to get a play-by-play look at king snakes (Lampropeltis getulas) as they devoured corn snakes (Elaphe guttata) that were at least as long.

1. After the king snake constricted and subdued its prey, it began the exhaustive “transport cycle,” to get the slithering snack into its belly. Called a pterygoid walk, the king snake opened up its jaw and alternately ratcheted toothy parts of its upper jaw over the surface of the prey, in turn “walking” its mouth over and around the prey.

Thermal biology of a colour-dimorphic snake, Elaphe quadrivirgata, in a montane forest: do melanistic snakes enjoy thermal advantages? See here.

Corn Snake Elaphe guttata: here.

Not so rare snakes: a revision of the Geophis sieboldi group (Colubridae: Dipsadinae) in lower Central America and Colombia: here.


Pro peace movement now stronger on Iraq than in Vietnam war times

This video clip is called US Soldier Speaks Out Against Iraq War.

Bush vs. Bremer on decision to disband the Iraqi army: here.

Andrew Murray is national chair of the Stop the War Coalition in Britain and director of campaigns and communications for the Transport and General Workers’ Union.

He writes in British daily The Guardian:

Opposition to the Iraq war far exceeds the fury over Vietnam

Demonstrations can close the gap between popular outrage and parliamentary apathy, says Andrew Murray

[Guardian columnist] Polly Toynbee is right (Lance Corporal Redpath is another victim of our apathy, August 21) about the “Iraq catastrophe” and to argue that the criminal disaster of the British military occupation in Basra should dominate political life in this country.

However, she misrepresents the Stop the War Coalition and the broad anti-war movement of which it is the central element. It is not true that there was “one great anti-war demonstration” and little since. It is obviously difficult to match the size of our protest in February 2003, in which an unprecedented 2 million people took part. But the coalition has organised more than a dozen national demonstrations since. None has been attended by fewer than 50,000 people and some – including the march against George Bush’s state visit – have drawn more than a quarter of a million.

This testifies to the strength and endurance of the British people’s opposition to Blair’s war – far greater in scale and duration than the “fury over Vietnam” that Toynbee contrasts with what she describes as today’s “inertia”.

Her claim that “political activism seems moribund” is wide off the mark. Who can forget the school-student walkouts against the war in 2003, in which we estimate more than 100,000 pupils took part? And the Military Families Against the War campaign led by Rose Gentle and Reg Keys, and sustained by the Coalition, has ensured that the death of Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath and the others do not pass without protest.

The continuing cultural initiatives undertaken by eminent artists and writers opposed to the Iraq aggression, and the huge mobilisation of British Muslims (in the teeth of increasing Islamophobia) all testify to the extent and depth of the movement against the war.

The next national Stop the War demonstration in London will be on Monday 8 October, at 2pm, outside the Parliament building.

“The Vietnam Analogy” [by Bush]: here.

Peace movement in the USA: here.

The decline of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

In this video from the USA, Representative ‘Henry Waxman points out Condoleezza Rice’s “recollection” problem’ about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq.

From British weekly The New Statesman, by Andrew Stephen:

The fall of Condi

06 September 2007

The US secretary of state was feted as “brilliant” and “gifted”, but her tenure is now acknowledged as a disastrous failure.

How things change. It was less than three years ago that the British embassy here put on a ludicrously lavish extravaganza to mark the 50th birthday of the person whom they wrongly considered to be the most powerful woman in the world. “Dr” Condoleezza Rice, then George W Bush’s disastrously inept national security adviser and now his equally feckless secretary of state, walked into the ambassador’s residence and gasped when she was met by more than a hundred guests lining the curved Lutyens double staircase, applauding fervently and singing “Happy Birthday to You”.

The British ambassador, Sir David Manning, had thought of everything with his team: much to the relief of the woman who had arrived in slacks and a suede jacket, thinking she was going out for dinner with her aunt, Manning and his staff had obtained her measurements beforehand and were able to whisk her away so that she could change into a scarlet ballgown, specially made for the occasion by her favourite designer, Oscar de la Renta. Her very own hairdresser, whom the embassy had also thoughtfully provided, snipped away. And the honoured guest finally joined the throng as Van Cliburn, considered (again wrongly) to be America’s greatest pianist, hammered out the national anthem.

The full extent of the Iraq catastrophe was already beginning to dawn on most of Washington, but the British had always been peculiarly bewitched by Rice – dating back to pre-invasion days when Manning, then Tony Blair’s foreign policy adviser at 10 Downing Street, talked to her practically every day over the transatlantic phone line. Sir Christopher Meyer, Manning’s immediate predecessor, could hardly contain himself when he described Rice a year later in his book DC Confidential: “Extraordinarily gifted . . . can play the piano to a professional standard . . . fine ice-skater . . . brilliant academic career.”

This British lovefest, and the resulting mis calculation of both the abilities and importance of Condoleezza Rice, now seem thoroughly emblematic, in a tragicomic kind of way, of what George W Bush – via the lips of Rory Bremner, I have to say – describes as the Bush-Blair “error”. The British rightly sussed out that Rice was closer personally to Bush than anybody else in the administration. After all, she spent weekends at Camp David and watched football with him, didn’t she? True, very true, but the British government was not sufficiently plugged in to Washington to realise that the Bush administration was hopelessly dysfunctional even before it moved into the White House in January 2001, so much so, that proximity to Bush was virtually valueless from the very beginning.

Flailing around

Bush adopted Rice – black, and a woman – as a kind of mascot for his administration. He is genuinely fond of her, but that doesn’t mean he has ever paid any serious attention to what his inexperienced appointee has had to say. He always listened much more closely to hugely experienced Washington infighters such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom considered foreign policy to be part of their portfolios. As national security adviser, Rice flailed around desperately in the middle, letting both men trample all over her, and took command of US foreign policy away from Colin Powell, theoretically Bush’s secretary of state, and his deputy, Richard Armitage. “The calamitous consequences [of this] are likely to be felt for years to come,” says Zbigniew Brzezinski, US national security adviser himself from 1977-81.

Rumsfeld update: here.

Rice and Lebanon update, 1 November 2010: here.

New Mark Fiore animation on Bush’s Iraq war

About this video from the USA: ‘PoliticsTV filmed the Iraq War protest and march in Washington, DC on Saturday, January 27, 2007. Comments from Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Rep. Conyers, Rep. Nadler, Rep. Waters and Tom Andrews from Win Without War’.

There is a new Mark Fiore animation on the Internet.

It is here.

It is called My Pet Legacy.

It is about George W. Bush’s Iraq war.

Duck, swallow, butterflies

This video is called Ducks, Coots and Geese at the Park:


Tufted ducks (black and white)
Pochard (grey back and a red head)
Mallard (green head)
Canada geese (black necks and heads with white stripe. Weird looking ones are hybrids)
Coot (black with white, pointed beak).

Today in the nature reserve.

In the castle pond, a female tufted duck swimming.

In the canal between the reserve and the meadow to the east, an adult and a young great crested grebe; coots; mallards.

Behind them, a barn swallow flying.

A red admiral; and a speckled wood butterfly.