Dutch bird nest webcams highlights

This 26 April 2019 Dutch video shows highlights of Dutch bird nest webcams. Featuring spoonbills, great tits, house martins and more.

Red-necked phalarope migration, new research

This 22 June 2018 video is called Wildlife photography – Getting close to the bird Red-necked phalarope.

From the University of Barcelona:

Red-neck phalarope: A migratory divide towards the Pacific Ocean and Arabian Sea

An exceptional strategy when winter comes

April 26, 2019

When winter comes, populations of red-neck phalarope from the Western Palearctic migrate to two different destinations -the Pacific Ocean or the Arabian Sea- following an exceptional migratory divide strategy which has never been described in this geographical area.

A part of these bird populations -which breed in Greenland, Island [ivceland] and the British Islands- cross more than 10,000 kilometres to reach the Pacific Ocean, while populations in Scandinavia and Russia go to the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean, more than 6,000 kilometres away from their breeding areas.

This migratory behaviour is now described for the first time in an article published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution -in which the researchers Raül Ramos and Jacob González-Solís, from the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio) take part.

An uncommon wintering species in the peninsula

The red-neck phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) is a migratory bird from the family of phalaropes that live in the tundra and high polar latitudes during their reproduction season. These small shore birds spend a part of their annual cycle -mainly the wintering period- at open sea, and therefore they are regarded as pelagic birds. During the migratory routes after breeding season -from August to September- this species can be occasionally seen in peninsular areas such as the Ebro Delta or the Atlantic and the Cantabrian coasts.

In the new study, led by the expert Rob S. A. van Bemmelen, from the Wageningen University (the Netherlands), the UB-IRBio team has collaborated placing geolocators -devices to monitor long distance migrations- in different breeding sites, the modelling of the habitat of different populations and the study of the ecology of the marine birds. The results show the existence of a migratory divide with two defined populations -but relatively close- in the geography of the Western Palearctic.

“In particular, populations of the North Atlantic and the Fennoscandia spend the winter in two geographical areas far from each other and under differentiated environmental conductions (climate, natural resources, etc.) determined by the wintering area,” notes Raül Ramos, Ramón y Cajal researcher from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the UB and IRBio.

“Red-neck phalarope populations of the North Atlantic stop along the way when migrating to the Pacific Ocean -covering almost the double of the distance- and migrate at a higher speed than the populations of Fennoscandia,” he continues. “They also have longer wings, a morphological feature that could be explained with the differences in the migratory pattern between both migratory bird populations.”

A migratory divide without geographical barriers

There are many cases of migratory divide in the European continent which are related to geographical barriers (for example, the Mediterranean). This is the case, for instance, of several species of sub-Saharan migratory birds with a dual migratory pattern: the models of populations that breed in the center and western areas of Europe migrate through the Strait of Gibraltar and the ones from Eastern Europe do so through the Arabian Peninsula.

However, regarding the red-neck phalarope, the migratory divide can occur without clear geographical barriers but as a reflex of the species’ biogeographical history. “The migratory route of the population of the North Atlantic towards the Pacific could be an evolutionary legacy of an ancestral population with its origins in North America. Therefore, the distribution range of this original nucleus would have spread to the east -to the British Islands- in a process that kept the primary migratory route of populations towards wintering areas of the Pacific Ocean,” notes Professor Jacob González-Solís, from the mentioned Department and IRBio.

Challenge: identifying global migratory patterns in the planet

Nowadays, the red-neck phalarope has a population between three and four million and the species shows a decreasing demographic trend in most of the breeding populations. It is catalogued as a least-concern species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and is mainly affected due industrial pollution -in particular, agricultural pesticides- and oil spills that affect the Arctic breeding regions. Also, the decline of farming activity in breeding areas makes plants to grow uncontrolledly, therefore invading lakes where red-neck phalarope use to nest.

In this context, the new study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution shows the importance of international scientific collaborations “and the metapopulational studies to identify global migratory patterns to find a specific species to avoid the risk of falling into local specificities that do not allow generalizing a migratory behaviour,” says Raül Ramos.

United States Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden

This 25 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

From Crime Bill to Iraq War Vote, Biden’s Legislative History Under Scrutiny as He Enters Race

Former Vice President Joe Biden has entered the 2020 race for the White House, becoming the 20th Democrat to seek the nomination in the largest and most diverse field of Democratic candidates ever to run for president. Biden will face scrutiny for his long and checkered record in the coming weeks, including his 1994 crime bill, that helped fuel mass incarceration with financial incentives to keep people behind bars, and his handling of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991. Biden is also known for close ties to the financial industry and voting to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. In the weeks before Biden announced his bid for the presidency, at least seven women stepped forward to accuse him of inappropriate touching. We speak with Andrew Cockburn, Washington editor for Harper’s magazine, about Biden’s record. His recent piece is headlined “No Joe! Joe Biden’s disastrous legislative legacy.”

This 25 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Why Joe Biden’s poll numbers could “come down in a hurry” now that he’s officially running

Mainstream media are covering Joe Biden as a leader in the 2020 race as he announces his candidacy for president, but journalist Andrew Cockburn of Harper’s Magazine predicts his poll numbers will drop. “He hates preparation; he hates debate prep,” Cockburn says. “What he really wants is to be anointed — you know, ‘Please, Mr. Biden, please come and be our candidate. Please come and be our president’ — without having to go through the hard grind, the incredible exhaustion, of a modern presidential campaign.”

This 25 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Rebel HQ’s Emma Vigeland breaks down Joe Biden’s 2020 candidacy, now that he has officially announced.

By Tom Hall in the USA:

Former Vice President Biden officially enters Democratic presidential race

26 April 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden officially announced his campaign for president yesterday, effectively completing the Democratic field, which has now swelled to 21 candidates, most of them little-known.

Biden announced his candidacy in an online video posted early Thursday morning. His first media interview of the campaign will air today, and his first official campaign stop will take place next Monday in Pittsburgh.

Even before he officially announced, the media had dubbed Biden the frontrunner in the crowded Democratic primaries, since he was leading in most polls where he was included as a candidate, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders trailing by a few percentage points. The same polls showed more than half of prospective Democratic voters favoring neither candidate, dividing their support among the record number of alternatives.

Biden will likely be the favored candidate among major Democratic donors and the party apparatus

For months, whether Biden would ultimately run was the subject of much speculation. …

Biden’s announcement video focuses exclusively on Donald Trump, to the exclusion of any reference to the candidate’s own political biography or campaign platform. Biden’s newly launched campaign website is similarly vague, with no concrete positions or policy proposals.

This suggests that the main thrust of his primary campaign will be to present himself as the candidate best positioned to defeat Donald Trump in the general election, and to attempt to use the threat of another four years of Trump to suppress all other political issues.

The video opens with footage of the neo-Nazi rampage in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, resulting in the death of one counterdemonstrator, which had been organized with the support of former Trump campaign aides. Biden then appears on camera to denounce Trump’s infamous claim that there were “very fine people on both sides”. He speaks in sharper than normal terms, at least by the standards of the Democrats, who have largely ignored Trump’s cultivation of fascistic layers.

CHARLOTTESVILLE ISN’T A CAMPAIGN PROP Former Vice President Joe Biden’s invocation of the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, as his reason for seeking the presidency is angering progressive activists there who believe the Democrat is using the city as a prop to help convince primary voters to look past his own questionable record on race. [HuffPost]

“With those words, the President of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it,” Biden says. “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time, but if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation—who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

There is an obvious contradiction here: if Trump is such an aberration, how could his presidency fundamentally alter the character of the United States? Trump did not come out of the blue but is the consequence of the breakdown of American democracy and the turn to the right by both political parties and the American ruling class as a whole. Biden, who was first elected to the Senate in 1973 and has long been one of the most influential Democratic politicians in Washington, has played no small role in this process.

Specifically, Trump emerged as a consequence of eight years of the Obama-Biden administration, which left millions of working people poorer and more desperate than before, particularly in hard-hit deindustrialized areas like Michigan, Wisconsin and the whole of Appalachia.

The Obama-Biden administration funneled trillions to the banks, set a pattern of wage-cutting for the auto industry that spread throughout manufacturing, and oversaw an unprecedented rise in social inequality. It was the first US administration to spend two full terms continuously at war.

The election of Trump was in part a repudiation of Obama’s chosen successor Clinton, who sought to exclude social issues from her general election campaign and ran as the candidate of Wall Street and the military. That Trump’s victory was a legacy bequeathed by the reactionary policies of austerity and imperialist war carried out by the Obama-Biden administration is the last thing Biden wants voters to remember, of course.

Biden’s claim to be the center of opposition to Trump’s far-right politics is belied by his longstanding reputation as a “centrist” Democratic, a term which indicates his willingness to collaborate with Republicans on right-wing policies.

Notwithstanding his media persona as a jovial “Uncle Joe”, Biden is an experienced and ruthless representative of American imperialism. As Obama’s former vice president, he had a hand in all of the administration’s war crimes, including the bloodbaths in Libya and Syria and the continuation of Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The administration made drone assassination a key element in its foreign policy, and even declared the right to assassinate American citizens, exercising this “right” to murder Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011. Obama also bolstered the repressive apparatus of the state, expanding government surveillance programs and funneling billions of dollars in military hardware to local police forces.

The Obama administration led a major assault on democratic rights. This included the prosecution of more whistleblowers than any other president, including the arrest and torture of Chelsea Manning, and the campaign against WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes. Biden called Assange a “high tech terrorist” in 2010, and then-Secretary of State Clinton asked her staff whether they could “drone” him.

Obama also deported more than 2.5 million immigrants, more than any previous administration, earning him the sarcastic nickname “Deporter in Chief.” Obama’s policies included the imprisonment and deportation of thousands of unaccompanied children, a direct precursor to Trump’s cruel and inhumane policy of separating families.

In other words, Obama and Biden paved the way for a more overtly authoritarian form of imperialist reaction, of which Trump is the personification.

The Obama administration’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014 demonstrates the hypocrisy of Biden’s declared opposition to Trump’s ties to fascists. The US and NATO-sponsored overthrow of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was spearheaded by neo-Nazi groups such as the Svoboda Party and the Right Sector. As long as these layers directed their violence against individuals targeted by American imperialism, they were universally hailed in the media as fighters for “democracy” and “human rights”.

Biden’s own family was personally enriched by the coup, when his son Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of directors of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings. Biden later strong-armed the Ukrainian government into firing a prosecutor who was leading a corruption probe against Burisma, a fact which he publicly bragged about in 2018.

The real basis of the Democrats’ opposition to Trump is not his cultivation of far-right forces, but foreign policy issues, particularly his perceived insufficient aggressiveness against Russia. This is why they have made the campaign over bogus Russian “meddling” in the campaign and supposed “collusion” by the Trump campaign the central element of their attacks on Trump since the election.

Within more politically astute layers, there is concern that the Democrats’ focus on the anti-Russian campaign, which has little popular support, could damage their electoral chances in 2020. Speaking at a CNN town hall, Bernie Sanders said, “If for the next year, year-and-a-half, going right into the heart of the election, all that the Congress is talking about is impeaching Trump and ‘Trump, Trump, Trump’ and ‘Mueller, Mueller, Mueller’, and we’re not talking about health care, we’re not talking about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, we’re not talking about combating climate change, we’re not talking about sexism and racism and homophobia, and all of the issues that concern ordinary Americans, what I worry about is that works to Trump’s advantage.”

The focus on the anti-Russian campaign reflects the overriding fear by the Democratic Party establishment of waging any campaign that could mobilize broader layers of the population, under conditions of a growing movement of strikes and protests. The hysteria over Russian “meddling” also serves to whip up a crisis atmosphere to justify internet censorship and other repressive measures, whose ultimate target is an increasingly restive working class, whom the Democrats fear far more than the danger of an authoritarian Trump or his fascist supporters.

This 25 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Out of Touch Corporatist Joe Biden Officially Launches 2020 Campaign

This 26 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Joe Biden has announced his 2020 bid. Justice Democrats want a real progressive as President. Ana Kasparian, Jayar Jackson, and Francesca Fiorentini hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

This 25 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

How Does Biden Stack Up Against Bernie?

BIDEN’S BAD FIRST DAY Joe Biden has spent the past month attempting to address the discomfort of several women who said he inappropriately touched them in the past. Though he joins the 2020 presidential race after a storied career in Washington championing unity and American values, he spent the first day of his campaign wrestling sticky issues. [HuffPost]

Spiders use electricity to fly

This 25 April 2019 video says about itself:

How Spiders Use Electricity to Fly | Decoder

Can spiders fly? When you think of the greatest aviators in the natural world, you probably think of the usual winged suspects like birds, bees, and butterflies. But some of the earth’s eight-legged creatures also have specialized ways of soaring through the skies—no wings necessary.

Researchers at McMaster University who rush in after storms to study the behaviour of spiders have found that extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones may have an evolutionary impact on populations living in storm-prone regions, where aggressive spiders have the best odds of survival: here.