New hope for endangered Canary island giant lizards

This video says about itself:

Giant lizard breeding programme halts species’ decline

It was once thought that the Hierro giant lizard had gone the way of the dodo. The reptile, which can grow to more than half a metre in length, appeared to have disappeared from the tiny Canary Island of El Hierro in the 1930s.

From Tenerife News:

Giant lizard turn-around

November 4th, 2007

There’s good news, at least on one endangered species front: for the first time the Lagartario, the giant lizard breeding and research centre in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, has a hundred reptiles and rising, thanks to a programme to save the almost-extinct creatures which was begun in 2001.

Last year 25 giant lizards were hatched at the Lagartario and the staff are confident they will beat that record easily this year, though counting cannot be precise because for the first time the females have been given the opportunity to lay their eggs in earth. Previously the eggs were hatched in incubators.

It is hoped the more natural method will have the effect of rebalancing the sexes: for some reason biologists at the Lagartario cannot understand on balance far more males hatch in incubator conditions than females.

Postautotomy tail activity in the Balearic lizard, Podarcis lilfordi: here.

Ari-Pekka Niskanen was on holiday on Gran Canaria in January when he spotted and photographed this unusual bird. The bird was identified by the Canary Island’s bird committee as a leucistic Canary Island Chiffchaff. Canary Island Chiffchaff have recently been confirmed as a separate species and, although not rare, this is an unusual bird: here.

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Japanese opposition leader, criticized as too spineless against Rightist government, steps down

This video says about itself: ‘Peace protest, Hiroshima, Japan, March 2003, a few days prior to the start of the Iraq War.’

From the Internationald Herald Tribune:

Chief of the Democratic Party in Japan to step down

Reuters, The Associated Press

Published: November 4, 2007

TOKYO: The head of the main opposition party in Japan said Sunday he would step down as party chief amid controversy over his apparent willingness to form a coalition with the ruling bloc.

The resignation of the Democratic Party president, Ichiro Ozawa, came just days after his party blocked government efforts to extend a naval mission in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.

Ozawa said he was resigning to take responsibility for causing confusion within the party for failing to immediately reject a power-sharing proposal from Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Friday.

“I caused political confusion over Prime Minister Fukuda’s coalition proposal,” Ozawa told a news conference.

“I have therefore decided to resign from my post as president,” he said. …

Earlier Sunday, another Democratic Party executive demanded early elections to break the parliamentary impasse.

The party will not back a compromise that would let Japanese naval ships return to the Indian Ocean to support coalition efforts in Afghanistan, said Naoto Kan, the party’s secretary general.

“Our aim is to achieve a change in government,” Kan told a talk show on the public broadcaster NHK. “What we need now is to ask the public for a mandate in the lower house.”

It is to be hoped that this resignation of a spineless opposition leader to a Rightist government, pals of George W. Bush, will lead to stronger opposition and the end of that government. It is also to be hoped that this resignation in Japan will be an inspiration to stronger opposition in other countries against pro-war policies; including in the USA.

Japan withdraws naval support for US war in Afghanistan: here.

Northern pike and long-tailed tits

This is a video about long-tailed tits.

Today, again to the Kromme Rade, amidst nature reserves.

Many mole hills.

Just as we passed two anglers in a small boat, they caught a big northern pike. They photographed it, then put it back into the water.

In a bigger lake: many male and female tufted ducks. Great cormorants. Great crested grebe. Coots. A grey heron.

Later, hundreds of grey lag geese flying overhead. A great tit in a tree.

Very few dragonflies, as one might expect at this time of the year.

Many times I heard sounds which I suspected were by long-tailed tits. However, I didn’t see them.

I had to wait till, on our way back, we had just passed the outer fence of the nature reserve, to see two long-tailed tits flying past.

Pleske’s Tit ringed in the Netherlands: here.

Crested tit photo here.

Afghan war atrocities sicken and kill Australian captain

This video from the USA is called Decorated Soldier Ignored by Veterans Administration Commits Suicide.

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Horrors of war too much for captain

Les Kennedy

November 1, 2007

HE SERVED in Afghanistan for just six weeks, but it was enough time to see things that would haunt Andrew Paljakka long after his tour of duty ended.

He told of having witnessed an atrocity with a civilian victim, and of having to listen to the sounds of a man he had shot slowly dying.

After Captain Paljakka, 27, returned to Australia last year, he began drinking heavily and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and severe depression. In February he was admitted to a private hospital, but discharged himself.

On February 26 he was found hanging from a bootlace in a cupboard in a Kings Cross hotel room. He left a young widow.

Also from Afghanistan, by Associated Press:

3 Killed in US Raid in Afghanistan

Thursday November 1, 2007 5:31 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan – A nighttime raid on a compound in eastern Afghanistan sparked a gunbattle that left three people dead, including two children, officials said Thursday.

Australia: Howard government knew of Guantánamo detainee’s torture complaints: here.

Australia and US-Iran war threats: here.

The struggle of the women of Palau against US nuclear weapons

This video is called Diving in Palau, about the seas and wildlife around those islands.

By Zohl de Ishtar in Green Left Weekly:

Celebrating the life of Gabriela Ngirmang of Palau

Zohl de Ishtar

26 October 2007

Gabriela Ngirmang, Mirair of Palau, who was instrumental in giving the world its first nuclear-free constitution, passed away peacefully at 12.10am on October 10 (Palau time). Gabriela had been sick for some time.

Palau is a small nation south-west of Guam in the northern Pacific. As matrilineal Palau’s Mirair (leading woman for the eastern side of the state of Koror), Gabriela Ngirmang was the leader of Otil A Beluad (the Anchor of the Land) women’s organisation for the past 50 years. Eighty-four years old, she had been a central figure among the women elders of her nation, and an inspirational leader for social justice and anti-nuclear activists across the Pacific and globally.

Gabriela believed it was her responsibility to protect and advance the wellbeing of her people. She experienced and survived the Second World War and, because of this experience, she did not want Palauans to experience war again. Aware of the devastation inflicted upon the neighbouring Marshallese from the US nuclear test regime, she knew the dangers of all things nuclear. Her concern motivated her to lead her people to write a nuclear-free clause into their constitution as they moved to reclaim their nation’s independence from the United States.

In 1979, 92% of Palauan people voted for their nuclear-free constitution, which included a clause requiring 75% of voters to agree before nuclear weapons could be brought into Palau.

This was the first time a clause banning and/or restricting nuclear activities had been included in any nation’s constitution anywhere in the world. This achievement has not been repeated since.

Unfortunately, the US had different intentions for Palau. The Pentagon wanted one-third of Palau’s precious land and its deepwater harbour (one of the most beautiful in the world) for military purposes, including for the storage of nuclear weapons.

In the 15 years between 1979 and 1994, when Palau stopped being administered by the US (under a United Nations trusteeship) and became the Republic of Palau, the people were forced to vote 11 times to uphold their unique constitutional clause.

Each time a new plebiscite was announced, courageous women would travel between villages and islands to talk with communities to provide them with information so that they could make informed decisions about the Compact of Free Association (which defined the post-sovereignty relationship between Palau and the US) and the changes the US wanted made to their constitution. Women had played a major role in the constitution’s development and now they were struggling to ensure their people knew what was at stake if they rejected the protection of its nuclear-free clause. It was grassroots networking at its best, and at its hardest: women talked to women as they worked in their taro patches.

Standing up against immense pressure from the US government as well as increasing intimidation and corruption within Palau, Gabriela faced threats to her life and violence against herself and her family. …

Today the US retains control over Palau’s military and foreign affairs, and can take any land it wants with 60 days notice. The US has not yet activated this right, and will face another backlash of Palauan resistance should it attempt to do so. The Compact lasts for 50 years (until 2044), with the financial gains the Palauans were able to secure ceasing in 2010.

The Palauan struggle to protect their nuclear-free clause was a real-life case of David and Goliath, as one of the world’s smallest nations stood against the world’s biggest and most powerful. It inspired movements in the Solomons, Fiji and Aotearoa/New Zealand that successfully banned nuclear warships from entering their harbours.

Gabriela was at the centre of this growing resistance to the militarisation of the seas and the planned use of nuclear weapons. Embodying the values of peace and non-violence, she questioned the colonial, military and nuclear implications of US policy and its impact on Palauans. …

Gabriela’s contribution to world peace will be remembered. Her desire for her people, and for all people, to be nuclear-free will not pass with her. Her work continues to live on in others. As her daughter Cita Morei once said, “The fight against the Compact has been a painful struggle but the good news is that it did not kill the women’s spirit, our spirit. The spirit that resists the evilness of war, of nuclear weapons. The mustard seed for world peace that was planted in [Palau’s] nuclear-free constitution did not die.”

It was Gabriela who planted that mustard seed. It is left to the rest of us to nurture it, in her memory.

Australia: Maralinga’s nuclear nightmare continues: here.