New Antarctic octopus species discovered


This video says about itself:

Time-lapse footage of the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights.

This is the Southern Hemisphere equivalent of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

Filmed during the Antarctic winter in the general vicinity of McMurdo Station and Scott Base, where the sun is below the horizon for 4 months of the year.

Most of the individual clips here were each taken over about a 10 minute period to give you an idea of how much they were moving in real time.

From Discovery News:

July 22, 2010 — Scientists have for the first time collected venom from octopuses captured from the waters of Antarctica.

In the process they have discovered four new octopus species and two new types of cephalopod venom.

Researchers hope the new venoms will lead to the development of drugs for pain management, fighting allergies and treating cancer.

The study was led by Bryan Fry of the University of Melbourne with researchers from the University of Hamburg and the Norwegian University of Technology and Science.

While venom has long been seen as a potential resource for drug development, scientists have only recently realized that the venom of cephalopods — octopuses, cuttlefish and squid — is unique.

Fry says venom enzyme activity is normally affected by temperature, but the enzymes in the Antarctic octopus venom somehow manage to stay active below zero.

“The venom of cephalopods living in the waters of the Antarctic has special adaptations allowing it to work in… sub zero temperatures. The next step is to work out what biochemical tricks they have used,” he said. “So far the analyses reveals that Antarctic octopus venom harbors a range of toxins, two of which had not previously been described.”

“Among the discoveries are new small proteins in the venom with very intriguing activities, which may be potentially useful in drug design,” he added.

The new study follows on from Fry’s revelation last year that all octopuses are venomous.

Since then, scientists have embarked on the huge task of collecting and studying these venoms to gain a greater understanding of their structure and how they work.

Fry’s team travelled to the Antarctic aboard the Australian Antarctic Division‘s flagship Aurora Australis, collecting 203 octopuses over more than six weeks.

They then genetically profiled each specimen to identify the species and collected venom to analyze in the lab.

“These are venoms that have never been studied before. There are minor differences which allow them to work and we still don’t know what those differences are,” Fry said. “So we’re comparing them to octopus venom with similar enzymes from other species like the tropical Blue-ringed octopus.”

Leggy Impersonator: Octopus Makes Like a Flatfish: The Indonesian mimic octopus can impersonate flatfish: here.

August 2010: The Indonesian mimic octopus can impersonate flatfish and sea snakes to dupe potential predators. By creatively configuring its limbs, adopting characteristic undulating movements and displaying conspicuous colour patterns, the octopus can successfully pass for a number of different creatures that share its habitat, several of which are toxic: here.

The evolution of conspicuous facultative mimicry in octopuses: an example of secondary adaptation? Here.

November 2010: A new species of squid has been discovered in the southern Indian ocean: here.

New forms of life discovered 16,000 feet below the sea in deepest hydrothermal vent yet found: here.

New deep sea species filmed off Australia: here.

Squid: here.

A new species of squid has been discovered by scientists analysing 7,000 samples gathered during last year’s IUCN-led seamounts cruise in the southern Indian Ocean: here.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 16, 2010) — While Arctic sea ice has been diminishing in recent decades, the Antarctic sea ice extent has been increasing slightly. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology provide an explanation for the seeming paradox of increasing Antarctic sea ice in a warming climate: here.

As part of a study for the Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML), scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) analysed sea-bed colonies of bryozoans from coastal and deep sea regions around the continent and from further afield. They found striking similarities in particular species of bryozoans living on the continental shelves of two seas – the Ross and Weddell – that are about 1,500 miles apart and separated by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet: here.

Antarctic sea ice increase not linked to ozone hole, new research shows: here.

South Pole an ideal spot for astronomers: here.

1st census shows life in planet ocean is richer, more connected, more altered than expected: here.

Captain Scott’s failed Antarctic expedition was only 100 years ago: here. (Warning, video contains grown men chasing penguins)

Ozone recovery and greenhouse gases in the Southern Hemisphere | UCAR & NCAR Staff Notes: : here.

London zoo does not want nazi


Today, an invitation to the British Nazi Party Fuehrer Nick Griffin to attend a party at the royal palace was withdrawn.

On Twitter, it was suggested “Maybe Griffin can attend the Chimps Tea Party at London Zoo instead?”

London Zoo replied on Twitter: “We don’t want him!”

Indeed, it is very insulting to chimpanzees to compare them to a vile racist like Griffin.

As it also was insulting to chimps to compare them to warmonger George W. Bush.

A BNP activist and former parish councillor from Suffolk has been arrested by police on suspicion of a firearms offence: here.

British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin showed his true Nazi colours at a rally outside Liverpool Crown Court earlier this month, when he was pictured posing behind a “white power” flag: here.

October 2010: Thirteen tonnes of carrots and four tonnes of eggs may sound like a rather large food order – but not when you’re ZSL London Zoo: here.

Iraq war illegal, British deputy PM says


This video from Parliament in London, England says about itself:

Nick Clegg during the PMQ’s on 21st July whilst standing in for David Cameron… calls the Iraq War Illegal…. Well done Nick for saying what many of us think.

Britain: Anti-war campaigners have challenged Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to act on his belief that the invasion of Iraq was illegal by making sure those responsible were tried for war crimes, including Tony Blair: here.

The statement by British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that the Iraq war was “illegal” leads to only one conclusion—that former Prime Minister Tony Blair and many others must immediately be arraigned on war crimes charges: here.

John Pilger: Blair must be arrested not indulged: here.

US governors visiting Iraq claimed on Wednesday that conditions in the occupied country have improved – on the same day that a car bomb blast killed 15 people in Diyala: here.

Wild birds in New York zoo


This video from the USA says about itself:

Just one day after being born, wood duck hatchlings must take a frightening leap of faith to reach their mother.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society in the USA:

The Bronx Zoo Birders

July 21, 2010

At WCS’s Bronx Zoo, a group of WCS birders have been surveying the grounds for nesting wild birds. Their goal: to find out how the Zoo’s 265 acres, an important rest stop along the mid-Atlantic flyway and a green oasis in the midst of the big city, provides for breeding birds, and which species it attracts.

The birders are turning up some surprising finds, like wood ducks, warbling vireos, and black-crowned night herons. What’s even more surprising is where they’re finding them—singing in trees on the Bison Range, swimming through the once blighted Bronx River, even nesting in exhibit signage. Below, WCS publicist John Delaney leads a birding tour of the Zoo.

Just off the New York coastline lives an undersea wilderness. Sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, whales, seals, skates, and rays swim below the many flying shorebirds and seafaring ships of the eastern Atlantic. In all, more than 300 fish species feed, breed, and migrate through the New York Bight, which stretches between Montauk in northern Long Island to Cape May in southern New Jersey: here.

Amidst the Bronx’s miles of highways and railways, another force steadily rushes by: the Bronx River. Once plagued by pollution and neglect, today the New York waterway is home to alewife herring, night herons and egrets, muskrats, and even a lone beaver. The return of native wildlife is proof of the river’s improving health, and a testimony to community restoration efforts by WCS and other local groups: here.

Anti-Pinochet Chilean Corvalan dies


This music video is Quilapayun – El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido; song of the Chilean Left.

From British daily The Morning Star today:

Chilean communist Corvalan dies

Chile: Former Communist Party leader Luis Corvalan died on Wednesday at the age of 94.

The party was banned in Chile from 1948 to 1958 and Mr Corvalan spent those years as a prisoner.

He was again imprisoned by the Pinochet dictatorship from 1973 to 1976, when an international campaign led by the USSR helped to secure his freedom.

The Lenin Peace Prize winner was subsequently exiled to the USSR, where he led the CP in exile during the years of Pinochet’s rule.

He resigned as general secretary and returned to his homeland after the restoration of democracy in 1990.

See also here. And here.

Military officers convicted of human rights violations during the Pinochet dictatorship will not be pardoned after Chile’s president rejected a proposal by the Catholic church for elderly or sick prisoners to be freed: here.

HUMAN RIGHTS-CHILE: Unfinished Business: here.

Forensics Helps ID Victims of Murderous Dictator Pinochet: here.

‘Peacekeepers’ kill Somali civilians, African Union says


This video is called Civilians killed in Somali fighting.

From Al Jazeera today:

AU warns of Somalia civilian deaths

The African Union has warned in an internal report that it risks losing public support in Somalia if it continues to kill large numbers of civilians.

About 5,000 AU peacekeepers are stationed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, protecting the weak Transitional Federal Government.

The AU’s report concluded that the peacekeepers have indiscriminately shelled civilian areas, causing large numbers of casualties.

The organisation called for “urgent attention” to the problem of civilian casualties.

The AU’s assessment was conducted between April and June of this year, and first reported on Wednesday by The Associated Press news agency. …

Human Rights Watch reported in April that AU peacekeepers routinely respond to Al-Shabab attacks by launching indiscriminate attacks into civilian areas.

“AU forces have fired mortar shells into densely populated areas without taking precautions to discriminate between civilians and military targets,” the group said. “Such attacks… violate the laws of war.”

Afyare Abdi Elmi, a Somalia expert at Qatar University, said the AU assessment was accurate, and that the shelling was beginning to harm perceptions of the AU force.

“At least in the beginning, the AU was not having problems the Ethiopians had. They were not perceived as an occupying force,” Elmi said.

“But now with indiscriminate shelling … this is beyond the limit. It is hurting their perception.”

Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006 to depose the government. Their presence was deeply unpopular, and rights groups say they routinely killed civilians.

See also here. And here. And here.

What to Do About Somalia: Now that the violence of Somalia has spilled over into Uganda: here.

The Uganda bombings are a sad reminder of the ways that Washington’s intervention has exacerbated problems in Somalia: here.

Right after Uganda’s horrendous and deadly twin bombings killed 74 people, President Barack Obama spoke with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to express his sadness and to offer condolences for the loss of life. But another key part of the conversation dealt with the Somalia-based militia, the al-Shabab, and AFRICOM: here.