Extinct Australian palorchestid marsupials, new research


This February 2018 video says about itself:

This week, we’ll be exploring the rise and fall of the incredible megafauna that used to roam Australia; from 3m tall kangaroos to giant wombats. We’ll discover how just one species of small marsupial evolved and radiated to create an ecosystem of giants.

From PLOS:

Ancient Australia was home to strange marsupial giants, some weighing over 1,000 kg

Extinct palorchestid marsupials likely filled a niche no longer occupied in modern Australia

Palorchestid marsupials, an extinct group of Australian megafauna, had strange bodies and lifestyles unlike any living species, according to a study released September 13, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Hazel Richards of Monash University, Australia and colleagues.

For most of the last 25 million years, eastern Australia was home to a now-extinct group of marsupials called palorchestids. These animals are well known for their large size, strange tapir-like skulls, and large claws, but so far there has been no detailed study of their limb morphology. In this study, Richards and colleagues examined more than 60 fossil specimens of palorchestids of varying geologic ages to characterize the function and evolution of their arms and legs.

Over the course of their evolution, palorchestids grew larger and stranger. Using limb proportions as a proxy for body size, these authors estimated that the latest and largest of the palorchestids may have weighed over 1,000kg. Furthermore, their forelimbs were extremely muscular and were likely adapted for grabbing or scraping at leaves and branches. Uniquely among known mammals, the elbow joints of the largest palorchestids appear to have been immobile and fixed at roughly a 100-degree angle, so that the arms served as permanently flexed food-gathering tools.

This study provides the first formal description of limb morphology in palorchestid marsupials and reveals a group of giant herbivores that probably filled a niche no longer occupied in modern Australian ecosystems. Fossil remains are still missing for certain parts of the palorchestid body, such as the shoulders and wrists, but the authors are hopeful that more material may be found in existing museum collections.

The authors add: “This study has allowed us for the first time to appreciate just how huge these mega-marsupial palorchestids were, while also providing the first comprehensive view of a strange limb anatomy unprecedented in the mammalian world. This research reveals yet more about the diversity of unique large marsupials that once roamed Australia not so long ago.”

Billionaire Duke of Westminster evicts poor Londoners


This August 2016 video from England says about itself:

The new seventh Duke of Westminster has inherited his father’s £9bn estate at the age of just 25 and has been described as now owning “half of London”.

Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor, previously known by his honorary title Earl Grosvenor, also inherits Eaton Hall in Cheshire – home to the Grosvenor family since the 15th century.

Despite not being the eldest child of the late Duke of Westminster, who died at the age of 64 on Tuesday, and his wife Natalia, the new Duke will inherit the billion-pound fortune instead of his elder sister Tamara due to an archaic tradition.

The rule of primogeniture that dates back to the time of William the Conqueror sees legitimate male heirs take precedence over their older sisters when it comes to inheriting an estate.

The principle was described in 2015 as “archaic, mad and bonkers” by Lady Kinvara Balfour after her mother Lady Tessa failed to inherit Arundel Castle in West Sussex, which passed to her mother’s younger brother Edward, instead.

One of four siblings, the new Duke is a former student of countryside management at Newcastle University who has largely kept out of the spotlight, but is known to have thrown a lavish 21st birthday party for 800 guests at Eaton Hall which was reported to have cost £5m. …

Hugh’s mother Natalia, the Duchess of Westminster, is one of the Duke of Cambridge‘s godparents.

His sister, Lady Tamara, is married to Edward van Cutsem, whose brother William van Cutsem is also a godparent to Prince George. …

Hugh’s father, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, worth around £9.35bn, was said to be the 68th richest person in the world.

He owned land in Belgravia, an area adjacent to Buckingham Palace and one of London’s most expensive boroughs, as well as thousands of acres in Scotland and Spain.

By Charles Hixson in England:

Billionaire Duke of Westminster carrying out social cleansing of working class residents in London

14 September 2019

Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster and the richest person in the world under 30, plans to evict tenants through the demolition of two residential blocks in Belgravia in order to build luxury flats and expensive shops.

In perhaps the most blatant example of social cleansing ever and the UK’s massive inequality of wealth, the 28-year-old Duke—who inherited £9.3 billion and his title after the sudden death of the sixth Duke three years ago—is to throw out tenants from flats in Cundy Street and nearby Walden House. Of the 141 people being evicted, eight are disabled, with some having lived in the blocks for as long as 40 years.

His Grosvenor Group plans to knock down a total of 111 homes in four blocks of Cundy Street Flats—Lochmore, Laxford, Kylestrome and Stack—by 2021, leaving Walden House tenants until 2023 to find alternative accommodation.

The Walden House flats

Grosvenor has labelled its proposed development as the “Cundy Street Quarter”, describing it as a “rare opportunity” to deliver open market affordable homes and “improved public spaces.”

Company director Paul O’Grady said, “Our ambition is to create a new inclusive neighbourhood that meets the needs of residents and businesses today while ensuring that it respects the area’s heritage and will stand the test of time.”

What is really being proposed is the turfing out of the community already living there to meet the requirements of London’s super-rich elite, who will benefit from the new luxury development.

The plans have met with immediate and forceful opposition from residents. A petition to Grosvenor, Westminster City Council, calling for the cancellation of the plans has garnered over 180,000 signatures. It states: “We are facing homelessness and the breakup of our community. We will not be able to afford similar housing in the area.

“There is nothing wrong with these beautiful buildings—Grosvenor just want to make more money. This is simply about putting profit before people. This is valuable land, and we are seen as getting in the way of building high-rise luxury investment flats.”

Campaigner Johanna Verweij, a leader of the tenants’ groups opposing demolition, described the project as “social cleansing”. “The people who live here come from all walks of life and we need to make sure people know that”, she said. “We now have a core group of campaigners who are just focused on getting the word out.”

Another tenant said, “This wonderful community being ripped apart! Some have been living here for decades and now being made homeless! Just all because of money and greed!” Another said, “All this will be demolished with families and residents displaced, all so one of the wealthiest developers in the world—Grosvenor—can make even more profits … Please help us save our homes.”

The two blocks are a tiny part of the vast tract of property and land owned by the Duke. The Grosvenor title is relatively recent. Queen Victoria created the dukedom in recognition of the family who had bought up much of central London. This included developing Mayfair in about 1720, Grosvenor Square in the 1820s, and then Belgravia. By the 1950s, the Grosvenors began developments in the US and Canada, spreading to Australia and Asia in the 1960s and 1970s. Their holdings in Britain remain immense, encompassing 133,100 acres (0.22 percent of the entire land area)—a greater total than that held by the Queen.

The Grosvenors share a close relationship with the Royal Family. The late sixth duke, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, was a good friend of Prince Charles. Prince William later asked young Hugh to be Prince George’s godfather, and he attended the christening at St. James Palace. Young Hugh’s 21st birthday party cost £5 million. The comedian Michael McIntyre entertained guests for 40 minutes, for which the Duke paid him £40,000.

This aristocratic family has vastly increased its wealth and influence, while avoiding taxes that most working families are subjected to. How this took place was partially revealed in the 2017 Paradise Papers—a leak of 13.4 million files, including archival documents from the offshore firm Appleby. Along with accessible information from the UK companies register, some of the hidden financial machinations of this powerful section of Britain’s aristocracy were revealed.

Five UK trusts have been used for generations to ensure wealth is passed down untouched. Under the scheme, trustees legally own and manage the assets, which they then distribute to a beneficiary. Legally, a 40 percent inheritance tax must be paid on any estate worth over £325,000 left to a charity or spouse. Since trusts are constructed when the settlor (person who constructs the trust) is alive, no tax can be levied.

A Grosvenor Estate spokesman insisted the family trust paid a 6 percent inheritance tax on its assets once every 10 years, required since 1984. This, however, is thought necessary to ensure continuity of ownership rather than to avoid an increased tax. There are also exemptions for trading businesses and agricultural land.

No public register of trust holdings exists despite the widespread use of this mechanism allowing the control of huge swathes of land and valuable properties. HM Revenue & Customs keeps a register of tax-paying trusts, but the public are not allowed to see it.

According to John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network, “The big issue is the way very, very wealthy families have for generations used trusts to pass assets on outside the sphere of inheritance tax. It is a glaring loophole. It’s a political choice to have it and it means dynastic wealth is passed down the generations intact, leading to a much greater concentration of wealth.”

In response to the growing campaign against their social cleansing, Grosvenor claimed, “We have been providing tailored support over and above what is required to help residents.”

They claim to be committed to meaningful public consultation and promise to include some social housing—after they destroy the homes currently rented through Conservative-run Westminster Council. “Through a sensitive but comprehensive development we can deliver a significant increase in much-needed housing for Westminster and more affordable homes as well as consider new uses like senior living,” states the Grosvenor Group.

Instead of contesting the Grosvenor venture, or even attempting to seek some compromise, Westminster Council is simply managing the social cleansing. …

The Labour Group on Westminster council declared, “Labour Councillors are supporting the residents of Cundy Street and Walden House against the demolition of their homes under Grosvenor’s proposals.”

Sales of social housing nationally have tripled since 2001. Housing associations in five London boroughs alone have collected £82.3 million from auctioning 153 properties in Westminster, Brent (Labour controlled), Camden (Labour), Hammersmith and Fulham (Labour), and Kensington and Chelsea (Tory). Haringey and Southwark, both Labour-run, have lately become notorious for selling off social housing.

More than 250,000 Londoners are currently on housing waiting lists. …

In taking their fight forward for the right to decent housing and stop Grosvenor’s plans, tenants must unite with all those fighting social cleansing in the capital and beyond.

Female Trinidad guppies save males from starvation


This 3 September 2018 video says about itself:

This video gives an impression of the fieldwork we conduct to study guppy behavior in the rainforest of Trinidad. It also summarizes the main conclusions of our scientific paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution, which examines how being social helps guppies find food.

Reference to Paper: Snijders L, Kurvers RHJM, Krause S, Ramnarine IW, Krause J (2018). Individual- and population-level drivers of consistent foraging success across environments. Nature Ecology and Evolution.

From Forschungsverbund Berlin in Germany:

Male Trinidad guppies find food thanks to females

September 13, 2019

For male Trinidad Guppies applies: if you are hungry, seek female company. A recent study led by scientists of the the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) together with other research institutions provides evidence that male guppy fish in the presence of females more often ended up at novel food patches. In contrast, female food discovery was independent of male presence.

Trinidad guppies (Poecilia reticulata) live in small watercourses in the rainforests of Trinidad. They have a preference for sporadic high-quality food resources, like fruits and insects, falling into the water- so it is usually uncertain when and where they encounter food. In this study, behavioural ecologist Lysanne Snijders and her team set up a field experiment and manipulated guppy sex compositions (all male, all female or mixed) in the wild using individually colour-marked guppies. They conducted social observations, followed by foraging trials.

Males reached more food patches when there were females around. Yet, females reached a similar number of patches either with or without males present. Males also spent less time social in absence of females, but the absence of males had no effects for females. The researchers analysed if this time spent socially was linked to patch discovery success. Indeed, in agreement with a previous study, more social guppies ended up at more food patches.

“Life in the group can be advantageous. You have to share the food with your peers, but it is also easier to find it if you use the information of others,” explains Lysanne Snjiders. Guppies, for example, react to the typical behaviour of successful food finders, which is: swim faster, grab food, stay there and eat.

The researchers can only guess why males behave differently in the absence of females than in sexually mixed groups. “In this case, males among themselves are more likely to be in a state of competition than cooperation and therefore spend less time together and miss out on important information,” says Lysanne Snijders.

The head of the study, IGB-researcher Prof. Jens Krause, is investigating the dynamics of swarm behaviour and collective intelligence in animals. He explains the importance of this field of research: “If we are able to understand the interactions of animals within a group, we can derive from this knowledge information about the spread of diseases, reproduction and predator-prey relationships. The structure of social networks may also be a decisive factor concerning the stability of a population. Such knowledge may help wildlife managers and conservationists, for example, to optimise disease management, breeding programmes or reintroduction activities.”

Guppies, a perennial pet store favorite, have helped a UC Riverside scientist unlock a key question about evolution: Do animals evolve in response to the risk of being eaten, or to the environment that they create in the absence of predators? Turns out, it’s the latter: here.

Leadership during cooperation runs in the family for tiny fish called Trinidadian guppies, new research shows. University of Exeter researchers studied leadership in guppies by selectively breeding for fish that differed in how likely they were to lead a scouting party to examine a predator: here.

When it comes to finding a mate, male guppies rely on their brothers to ward off the competition. In a new study published by a Florida State University team, researchers found that male Trinidadian guppies observe a form of nepotism when it comes to pursuing the opposite sex. These tiny tropical fish often help their brothers in the mating process by darting in front of other males to block access to a female: here.

Big German protest against car corporations’ pollution


Thousands of cyclists on their way to protest against car corporations' pollution in Germany, AFP photo

This AFP photo shows thousands of cyclists on their way to protest against car corporations’ pollution in Frankfurt, Germany.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

At the international car show IAA in Frankfurt, thousands of people have demonstrated for more climate measures. Eg, they demanded that the car industry put more effort into the production of electric cars.

According to the organizers of the protest there were about 25,000 activists, the police in the German city said 15,000. The majority had come by bicycle. …

The day before yesterday, when the car show was officially opened, Greenpeace activists carried signs with texts such as “climate killers“.

Yellow-billed loons in love, video


This video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA says about itself:

The Yellow-billed Loon is the largest and most spectacular of the world’s five loon species. It breeds around the globe in arctic and sub-arctic tundra lakes and is the northern counterpart to the Common Loon.

Watch this rare video shot by The Lab’s Gerrit Vyn of a mated pair calling and foraging just after arriving on the partially frozen breeding grounds in Chukotka, Russia.

Yemen war retalitation halves Saudi oil production


This 14 September 2019 video says about itself:

Saudi Arabia: major fire at world’s largest oil refinery after drone attack

Drones attacked the world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oilfield operated by Saudi Aramco early on Saturday, the kingdom’s interior ministry said, sparking a huge fire at a processor crucial to global energy supplies.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Saudi state oil company Aramco has almost halved its oil production after last night’s drone attack on a big refinery and an oil field. Sources said that to Reuters news agency and The Wall Street Journal.

Production is said to have been reduced by around 5 million barrels per day, or around 5 percent of world production. The Saudi authorities have not confirmed the report. However, shortly after the attack, the state television reported that the export continued as usual.

The responsibility for tonight’s attack has been claimed by the Houthi rebels in Yemen. According to a spokesperson, it was a retaliation for Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the war in Yemen. The Saudis are leading a coalition that is fighting a violent war

Fire

The affected Buqaiq oil refinery, near the Persian Gulf, is said to be the biggest in the world. The also attacked Khurais oil field lies more towards the capital Riyadh and is the second biggest in the country.

After the attack, which, according to the Houthis, was carried out with ten drones, huge fires started. … Nobody was injured.

The reduced production has no immediate impact on the oil price, as the stock exchanges are closed worldwide due to the weekend.

Central America critical for migrating birds


This January 2015 video says about itself:

US Bird Count Shows Climate Change Affecting Migration Patterns

Thousands of birdwatchers in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean were out in force from mid-December to the beginning of January (December 14-January 5) counting birds. They took part in the 115th “Christmas Bird Count”, sponsored by the National Audubon Society, a U.S. bird conservation organization. Data collected from the annual event is helping scientists understand how environmental changes affect birds. VOA’s Deborah Block joined a group of birdwatchers in the wetlands at Mount Vernon, Virginia -the famous home of the first U.S. president, George Washington.

From Oxford University Press USA:

Conservation of a Central American region is critical for migrating birds

September 12, 2019

Many of North America’s migratory birds are declining, but the mysteries about when and how birds migrate must to be solved to effectively protect them. A new paper in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, published by Oxford University Press, identifies a previously overlooked area that is critical for conservation: the region between southern Mexico and Guatemala where songbirds fuel up for a grueling flight across the Gulf of Mexico.

Migration is a dangerous time for birds, especially during flights over large bodies of water. Many birds migrate directly across the Gulf of Mexico, requiring over 600 miles of sustained flight. The details of how the survivors manage this feat of endurance have been murky, especially for species like warblers, whose small size prevented researchers from tracking their full migration routes until recently.

Researchers used light-weight geolocators to identify migration strategies for the vulnerable and declining Golden-winged Warbler, finding 80% of individuals spent a week in southern Mexico and Guatemala to feed and build up reserves for the flight over the Gulf of Mexico in spring migration. The importance of this stopover region was previously unknown for this species, and it needs conservation given the rapid conversion of natural habitats to pasture and farmland.

While most Golden-winged Warblers stopped in this region, not all did. Some that overwintered in northern Central America were able to make the trans-Gulf flight directly from their overwintering grounds without the stopover. “This is an important finding,” says Dr. Ruth Bennett of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, “because birds that migrated directly across the Gulf were able to shave a week off their total migration time. These birds may experience a selective advantage in the spring.” That is because male Golden-winged Warblers race north in spring migration to establish breeding territories. Results from the study suggest the spring period requires more energy and poses a greater risk of predation and starvation, while fall migration allows for more flexibility to minimize energy costs and avoid risks.

“The variation we describe in migration routes and stopovers is encouraging,” says Bennett. “Variation helps buffer a population from local changes in environmental conditions.” Now that authors have identified where and when Golden-winged Warblers prepare for migration, they can start identifying the habitats that best allow birds to fuel up and successfully cross the Gulf of Mexico. This study provides a critical piece of the larger puzzle about where, when, and how to best protect the declining Golden-winged Warbler and other North American migratory birds.

A study published today in the journal Science reveals that since 1970, bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by 29 percent, or almost 3 billion birds, signaling a widespread ecological crisis. The results show tremendous losses across diverse groups of birds and habitats — from iconic songsters such as meadowlarks to long-distance migrants such as swallows and backyard birds including sparrows: here.

Racism in Dutch police, whistleblowers silenced


This video from the USA says about itself:

Eric Garner Video Sparks Backlash Over Police Brutality And Racism

Eric Garner, an unarmed African-American man, died after NYPD officers put him in an apparent choke hold on July 17, 2014. Video of the incident has gone viral, sparking outrage over yet another incident of police brutality against a person of color. People have used #EricGarner, #JusticeForEricGarner and #RIPEricGarner.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Whistleblowers at the police in The Hague no longer felt safe

The officers who reported abuses at the police station on the Hoefkade in The Hague left for another police station. Some did it voluntarily, others no longer felt safe there, says Jan Struijs, chairman of the Dutch Police Association, in the NOS Radio 1 Journal.

Struijs has recently had conversations with people from the Schilderswijk office and calls the examples of discrimination by police officers and excessive violence “horrifying.” Yesterday it was announced that there was a sick culture at the police station in The Hague. Sources tell the NOS that there have been several incidents involving excessive force against detainees, after which an attempt was made to cover it up. It involves four to eight officers.

Silent culture

There is an internal investigation into the state of affairs. “The investigation takes far too long. The first reports to managers are more than a year old”, said the trade unionist. “As a result, there is now big silence. People do not dare to speak out or they will see: if you report, then you can get into serious trouble.”

A targeted approach is not forthcoming. Struijs cites the example of a police commissioner at the Hoefkade who clearly said that it should be finished: ‘we do not tolerate discrimination and intimidation. My door is always open’. “And then she leaves three weeks later to do another job, while she knew that there are major problems at this station.” Struijs does not know whether she left voluntarily or not. …

The police association receives reactions from all over the country to the story about the The Hague officers. Police feel the impact of the accusation of discrimination and violence and are called to account by the public.

The police association is urging that more people should be put on the investigation so that it can be completed quickly. “We have to learn from this. What creates such a culture? Why do people not dare to report? Why are people being bullied? We should do all we can.”

Komodo dragons’ armour to defend themselves


This video says about itself:

The Last Kingdom of Dragons – film about Komodo by Living Zoology film studio

Komodo national park is the last place on Earth ruled by dragons. Matej and Zuzana Dolinay, authors of an unusual natural documentary, will present an insight into the life of amazing creatures living on small and remote islands in Indonesia.

From the University of Texas at Austin in the USA:

Elaborate Komodo dragon armor defends against other dragons

September 12, 2019

Just beneath their scales, Komodo dragons wear a suit of armor made of tiny bones. These bones cover the dragons from head to tail, creating a “chain mail” that protects the giant predators. However, the armor raises a question: What does the world’s largest lizard — the dominant predator in its natural habitat — need protection from?

After scanning Komodo dragon specimens with high-powered X-rays, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin think they have an answer: other Komodo dragons.

Jessica Maisano, a scientist in the UT Jackson School of Geosciences, led the research, which was published Sept.10 in the journal The Anatomical Record. Her co-authors are Christopher Bell, a professor in the Jackson School; Travis Laduc, an assistant professor in the UT College of Natural Sciences; and Diane Barber, the curator of cold-blooded animals at the Fort Worth Zoo.

The scientists came to their conclusion by using computed tomography (CT) technology to look inside and digitally reconstruct the skeletons of two deceased dragon specimens — one adult and one baby. The adult was well-equipped with armor, but it was completely absent in the baby. It’s a finding that suggests that the bony plates don’t appear until adulthood. And the only thing adult dragons need protection from is other dragons.

“Young komodo dragons spend quite a bit of time in trees, and when they’re large enough to come out of the trees, that’s when they start getting in arguments with members of their own species,” Bell said. “That would be a time when extra armor would help.”

Many groups of lizards have bones embedded in their skin called osteoderms. Scientists have known about osteoderms in Komodo dragons since at least the 1920s, when naturalist William D. Burden noted their presence as an impediment to the mass production of dragon leather. But since the skin is the first organ removed when making a skeleton, scientists do not have much information about how they are shaped or arranged inside the skin.

The researchers were able to overcome this issue by examining the dragons at UT’s High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility, which is managed by Maisano. The lab’s CT scanners are similar to a clinical CT scanner but use higher-energy X-rays and finer detectors to reveal the interiors of specimens in great detail.

Due to size constraints of the scanner, the researchers only scanned the head of the nearly 9-foot-long adult Komodo dragon, which was donated by the Fort Worth Zoo when it passed away at 19½ years old. The San Antonio Zoo donated the 2-day-old baby specimen.

The CT scans revealed that the osteoderms in the adult Komodo dragon were unique among lizards in both their diversity of shapes and sheer coverage. Whereas the heads of other lizards examined by the researchers for comparison usually had one or two shapes of osteoderms, and sometimes large areas free of them, the Komodo had four distinct shapes and a head almost entirely encased in armor. The only areas lacking osteoderms on the head of the adult Komodo dragon were around the eyes, nostrils, mouth margins and pineal eye, a light-sensing organ on the top of the head.

“We were really blown away when we saw it,” Maisano said. “Most monitor lizards just have these vermiform (worm-shaped) osteoderms, but this guy has four very distinct morphologies, which is very unusual across lizards.”

The adult dragon that the researchers examined was among the oldest known Komodo dragons living in captivity when it died. Maisano said that the advanced age may partially explain its extreme armor; as lizards age, their bones may continue to ossify, adding more and more layers of material, until death. She said that more research on Komodo dragons of different ages can help reveal how their armor develops over time — and may help pinpoint when Komodos first start to prepare for battle with other dragons.

The National Science Foundation funded the research.

Dutch war veterans are homeless


This video from the USA says about itself:

Homeless Veteran Dying of Cancer on the Streets of Denver

Yes, Marvin has been drinking. If you were homeless on the streets of Denver dying of cancer, you’d be drinking too to cope with the trauma of reality. In the middle of this interview, Marvin lifted his shirt to show me his back where he had three skin grafts. I didn’t pan the camera down because it just didn’t feel right to do so but what I saw was disturbing. Marvin has a giant hole in his back, unlike anything I have ever seen.

Marvin is a kind man. I stopped to talk to him every time I saw Marvin out panhandling. This evening, he told me he has cancer. We started to talk more. Marvin has many health issues! He needs to be in housing but sadly, there is little housing available for those who need it most!

Marvin spent eight years in the military. He says he now receives $230 a month in disability. No one can afford to live, much less rent an apartment, on that amount of money!

Marvin is vulnerable and fragile. He is an easy target for people who steal from elderly homeless people. The night before, Marvin had everything he owned ripped off. I helped him get some things including a duffle bag to carry his belongings, but Marvin needs housing!

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Dozens of Dutch veterans with psychological complaints roam the streets or sleep at the homeless shelter, the Volkskrant daily reports. The former soldiers suffered permanent psychological damage during their foreign missions, for which they receive no adequate care, according to conversations with veterans, care providers and the Salvation Army.

Based on an inventory among employees, the Salvation Army says that it concerns dozens of veterans who make use of the shelter. But there is a suspicion that their actual number is “in the hundreds”, says a member of the management in the newspaper.

In many cases, they are former soldiers with PTSD syndrome (post-traumatic stress syndrome), who also encountered other problems after their return to the Netherlands …

The Ministry of Defense has set up the Veterans Counter for veterans with health problems. There the former soldiers are assisted in choosing the right care, but also in applying for provisions and benefits. “But the serious cases are not reached there”, says a lawyer who assists veterans with PTSD, in the Volkskrant. Only the self-reliant people turn to the defense department, the others are put off by the bureaucracy or want to be left alone, he adds.

A study involving military veterans with PTSD and cirrhosis of the liver points to an abnormal mix of bacteria in the intestines as a possible driver of poor cognitive performance — and as a potential target for therapy. The study appeared Aug. 28, 2019, in the American Journal of Physiology: here.