Lion cubs in Africa


This 11 February 2020 video from Africa says about itself:

A wildlife filmmaker tracking a lioness makes a delightful discovery: cubs! As she watches, the little ones emerge from the undergrowth to greet their mother.

British Conservative racist Windrush deportations, parody music


This 11 February 2020 satiric music video from Britain is called Theresa May – After the Windrush (lyric video).

It is a parody of the song After the Goldrush by Neil Young.

It says about itself:

Theresa May‘s take on a classic Neil Young song.

LYRICS:

Well, I dreamed I saw the Empire Windrush sail
From Jamaica to Tilbury
There were migrants arriving
In hope of thriving
Quite frankly it sickened me
There was a law passed protecting folks
Coming from Commonwealth countries
Immigration Act came into force
In the nineteen seventies

I was drafting a Home Office statement
About amendments to the act
I was hoping for displacement
Of these people who were black

There was a speech playing in my head
Warning of rivers of blood
I was thinking about what Enoch Powell said
Then I shared it with Amber Rudd

Well, I dreamed I saw the immigration vans
Saying “go home or face arrest”
There were children crying
And parents flying
Away at my behest
It wasn’t a dream, it was not a dream
The process had begun
They were flying those illegal SOBs
To a new home in the sun
Flying those illegal SOBs
To a new home in the sun

The British Conservative government has enforced the cruel deportation of around 20 people to Jamaica. The flight had originally been specified to deport up to 56 people but late Monday night the Court of Appeal ordered the halting of deportations to some of those on board—after ruling that their democratic rights, including their right to access legal advice, had been flagrantly breached: here.

London campaigners blocking Whitehall last Thursday demanding an end to deportation charter flights

THE MASS deportation flight due to leave today with 50 people on board who came to the UK as children must be stopped! over 150 MPs and members of the House of Lords have said in an open letter: here.

Campaigners outside Downing Street, London, protest against government plans to deport 50 people to Jamaica

End the ‘torture’ of Home Office deportations. Campaigners fear that the government was prepared to break the law in its bid to deport the detainees: here.

Protesters outside Downing Street

“I fear for the future of democracy in Britain”. Protesters speak out at demonstration against Tory government deportation plans: here.

A TOTAL of 17 people were deported on a chartered flight by the Johnson government to Jamaica early on Tuesday morning. The action was condemned by campaigners, including 170 cross-party MPs, as ‘forcing families apart’: here.

UK government spearheads anti-migrant crackdown with deportation of Jamaican nationals: here.

Black-chested jay at Panama bird feeder


This video says about itself:

Black-chested Jay Stops In For A Quick Bite At The Panama Fruit Feeder – Feb 11, 2020

It’s always interesting to see this striking jay with its electric blue eyebrow spots and vibrant yellow eyes. The Black-chested Jay ranges from Costa Rica into Colombia and Venezuela. It can be found in a multitude of forest types, often in groups of eight or so individuals.

Anne Sacoolas, CIA killer of English teenager


This 5 February 2020 Sky TV video from Britain says about itself:

Anne Sacoolas and Prince Andrew ‘must co-operate’ with law enforcement

Harry Dunn’s family and alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein have joined forces to call for Anne Sacoolas and Prince Andrew to co-operate with law enforcement.

Lisa Bloom, a lawyer for six alleged victims of convicted sex offender Epstein, along with the Dunn family’s spokesman Radd Seiger have called for Mrs Sacoolas to return to the UK and for the Duke of York to face FBI questioning in the US.

By Thomas Scripps in Britain:

Woman who killed UK teenager Harry Dunn was a CIA spy

11 February 2020

The wife of a senior US [NSA] spy, who fled the UK last year after being involved in a road accident that led to the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn, is reported to have been a CIA agent herself. According to the Mail on Sunday, Anne Sacoolas held a higher rank in the intelligence services than her husband.

Harry was killed on August 27 when his motorbike collided with Sacoolas’s car, being driven on the wrong side of the road, just outside the RAF base at Croughton, Northamptonshire. The US Air Force runs a spy facility from the base known as the Joint Intelligence Analysis Centre, where Sacoolas’s husband Jonathan was employed by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Sacoolas was charged with causing death by dangerous driving by British police but was released and fled the country with her husband on September 15. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has refused to grant a UK request for her extradition.

It was already clear from the available facts that the UK government had determined to let Sacoolas go. Police visited her on August 28, the day after the incident, to be told she had diplomatic immunity as the wife of a “diplomat.” The Foreign Office claims to have asked the US embassy to waive immunity only on September 5. The US embassy refused this request on September 13, and Sacoolas was flown out of the country on a US Air Force plane two days later. The Foreign Office claims it was only informed the day afterward. Dunn’s parents only had it confirmed that Sacoolas had left the country on September 23.

Now, as Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, has said, “things are beginning to fall into place.” This charade, woven from lies, was used to prepare for the extraction and protection of a US spy.

According to the Mail, multiple sources in London and Washington have confirmed Sacoolas’s past work in the CIA. Sky News has since claimed to have also confirmed this fact. The Foreign Office denied all knowledge, asserting that “Anne Sacoolas was notified to us as a spouse with no official role.”

Senior Whitehall figures, however, confirmed to the Mail that they knew of her CIA history. The Mail’s report also states that the US government notified the Foreign Office that Sacoolas was leaving the country for America.

The Dunn family’s legal spokesman, Radd Seiger, explained it is “high time that the nation can see with full transparency whether or not the government prioritised protecting the identity of the Sacoolas family over the welfare and rights of Harry’s family. The US government told the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] that they were going to remove Anne Sacoolas from the UK unless the UK had any strong objections. Still to this day, the family have seen no evidence that the UK did indeed raise any such objections and indeed fear that they waved her off at the airport.”

Harry’s parents and their legal team continue to wage a principled fight for justice for their son. Seiger is calling for a public inquiry. Responding to the revelations, his mother, Charlotte Charles, asked of the British government, “How could they do this to us?”

“Her leaving, and the US government protecting her and refusing the extradition request, is nothing short of a disgrace and we will not stand for it. Whether she is CIA or not, she must come back and I will not rest until she does.”

Adam Wagner, another lawyer for the Dunn family, said the Foreign Office needed “to answer whether it knew Sacoolas was CIA at the time of Harry’s death, and whether the US used her status as a family member to take advantage of the ‘anomaly’ whereby family members are said to have more immunity than diplomats at the base. …”

Wagner also reported, “The Foreign Office have refused so far to disclose any information or documents about the discussions with the USA and the police after Harry died. The family are pushing hard for disclosures and have made an application for information and documents.”

The Dunn family lawyers dispute Sacoolas’s claimed immunity. Human rights activist and former British ambassador Craig Murray has written, “I am not at all convinced, as a matter of law, that the government has the power to grant, by bilateral treaty or otherwise, immunity from criminal prosecution to foreign nationals…outside the provision of the Vienna Convention (relating to diplomatic immunity). This should be tested by the courts.”

Thoroughly exposed, government representatives are still making a cynical pretence of demanding Sacoolas’s return while claiming ignorance of her CIA background. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Home Secretary Priti Patel have all made pro forma criticisms of the US State Department’s refusal to grant Britain’s extradition request.

Speaking on Sky’s Sunday Show after the Mail’s report, Housing Minister Robert Jenrick claimed, “I don’t know the reasons why the US have turned down our requests so far to extradite her. She needs to return to the UK.

“She should face justice, and I think it’s a terrible situation—I think we all agree on that—for the family. Not only have they lost their child but they’re not seeing somebody brought to justice for that.”

On the same show, former Conservative Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Sacoolas’s role as a CIA operative “may have a bearing on it [her escape and protection], and I don’t know the truth of these things because I’m not foreign secretary any more, but I still think it is totally and utterly unacceptable that she is not facing justice in the UK.

“And if anyone is questioning that, I think we just need to ask what would have happened if the boot had been on the other foot, if a British diplomat had been involved in a road accident in the United States where someone had died and had fled on a private plane back to the UK and was evading justice. … I don’t think Britain would have behaved in that way.”

These crocodile tears have been a pathetic fraud from the start. Now that the real nature of the case has been revealed, this cynical posturing has become a naked insult. The UK grants US intelligence services the right to act with complete impunity. From the perspective of the ruling class, the Dunn-Sacoolas case is not an outrage, but business as usual.

Why round gobies are successful fish


This 2013 video from the USA says about itself:

In this installment of Silent Invaders we discuss the invasive species of gobies. These strange fish compete for food and even attack bass eggs.

From the University of Basel in Switzerland:

Why the goby can conquer the waters of the world

February 11, 2020

The round goby, one of the most common invasive freshwater fish in the world, boasts a particularly robust immune system, which could be one of the reasons for its excellent adaptability. This is the result of genome research by an international team of biologists, coordinated at the University of Basel and published in the journal BMC Biology.

With its stocky, spotted body, big eyes and large mouth, the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) may not be the most attractive of aquatic creatures, but it is one of the most successful invasive species of fish. Within a few years, it has spread rapidly around the world. Usually introduced via the ballast water from ships, the fish has now become the dominant species in terms of numbers in various fresh and salt waters. Its marked ability to adapt to new environments is apparently related to its immune system, as the researchers report based on their genome analysis.

Up to 30 times more inflammation genes

For this analysis, the researchers read and assembled particularly long genome fragments from a round goby originating in Basel. Because of their length, these fragments produced an exceptionally complete genome, which was used to analyze gene families that were thought to relate to the fish’s ability to deal with new environments. Here, the researchers described expansions in specific enzymes known as cytochrome P450.

Furthermore, the zoologists found that all the genes deployed in inflammatory immune responses are present in the fish — and, in some cases, up to 30 times more than in comparable species. This may help the round goby to deal with pathogens, thus favoring its successful colonization of waters around the world. But there is still one aspect that has the specialists puzzled: although round gobies are also found in highly polluted water — in ports, for example — they do not differ from other species in terms of detoxification.

Colder water than in their natural habitat

Furthermore, the researchers came across the genetic basis that allows the round goby not only to produce but also to accumulate osmolytes — substances that affect the osmotic state. These help the fish to deal not only with fluctuations in salinity but also with desiccation and cold. This could also explain why round gobies are also found in the Baltic Sea — that is, in water temperatures far below those of their original habitat.

British Conservative climate denialist MP’s constituency flooded


English Conservative MP for Calder Valley, Craig Whittaker, has voted against measures to prevent climate change 17 times, according to his voting records

By Peter Lazenby in England:

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tory MP for flood-stricken Yorkshire constituency voted against climate change measures 17 times

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker even rejected extra funding for flood defences following 2015’s Boxing Day deluge

A TORY MP who represents communities devastated by Storm Ciara in Yorkshire’s Calder Valley voted against extra funding for flood defences following 2015’s Boxing Day deluge, the Star can reveal.

Craig Whittaker also voted against measures to prevent climate change 17 times, according to his voting records.

His constituency includes a string of communities along the river Calder that have been repeatedly devastated by floods.

Among them are the villages and small towns of Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Luddendenfoot and Sowerby Bridge.

In recent years the communities have been severely flooded three times: in June 2012, on Boxing Day 2015 and again this year on Sunday.

Two weeks after the 2015 floods the Commons debated a motion calling for annual spending on flood defences to be increased from £695.3 million to £800m.

Mr Whittaker voted against the motion, which was defeated.

Calderdale Labour councillor Scott Patient, who lives in Mytholmroyd, told the Morning Star that the construction of flood defences in the community has been hindered by funding problems.

The project mainly involves building walls to contain the River Calder, which bisects his community and others, including nearby Hebden Bridge.

Work began in June 2018 and is due for completion in July or August this year. The completed defences will have cost £33m.

Mr Patient said: “It has been an uphill struggle securing funding for it. There have been points in the scheme where funding was required and they had to wait for the next year. We had to lobby hard.

“There have been points where it has run overbudget. The reality is that it was not properly funded from the start.”

Mr Patient, who is a member of Calderdale District Council’s climate change and environment cabinet, said that while the scheme struggled to get funding, the government was providing subsidies for landowners who are clearing vital Pennine moorland above the Calder Valley for grouse shooting.

Burning off moorland removes flora such as mosses that absorb and store water, increasing run-off in rainstorms.

“They get subsidies from the government to do that,” said Mr Patient said. “[Environmental activist and journalist] George Monbiot put it very well when he said these floods are publicly funded.”

Mr Patient said there was anger in the community.

“There is a lot of anger, mostly against the Environment Agency at this time because of the length of time the work is taking — but again that is down to it not being sufficiently funded from the start,” he said.

He said that the repeated floods were driving out residents. “We have always had flooding in the village, that is accepted. But it is the frequency of the storms we are getting now and the severity.

“Sadly some whose homes and businesses were affected have had enough and are going to move away. We don’t want to become a ghost town.”

He said he hoped the flooding would send a message to Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his scepticism towards the climate crisis.

“Friends of the Earth analysed the election manifestos of all the political parties in terms of climate change and the Tories were staggeringly at the back,” said Mr Patient. “It is not high on their agenda.

Boris Johnson is definitely a cynic, even though 99.5 per cent of scientists agree. I am hoping this will kick his bum.”

Many of Sunday’s flood victims are not insured. A local community foundation has allocated £250,000 to a fund to help victims and hopes that donations will swell it to £1 million.

“We are also asking the government for emergency funds so we can do what we did last time: give people grants,” said Mr Patient.

Mr Whittaker had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.

But Tory MP Philip Davies branded it “completely unacceptable” that many of his constituents in Shipley, West Yorkshire, which was also flooded during Storm Ciara, had also been victims of the 2015 floods.

VICIOUS Tory cuts to the tune of £140 million mean that fire and rescue services are fighting with one hand tied behind their back. Lives are being put at greater risk during severe weather events, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned yesterday. Floods, power outages, stranded cars and people, roads blocked by falling trees, are just some of the disastrous consequences of Storm Ciara which battered the UK last weekend. And with Storm Dennis about to hit today, the FBU is extremely concerned: here.

Orb-weaver spiders’ colours attract prey


This 3 July 2019 video from Indonesia says about itself:

Kemlanding or giant golden spider or giant golden orbweaver (Nephila pilipes) is a species of web-making spiders, living in forests and gardens, carnivores, rectangular, black and yellow, living in clay, limestone and karst hills at an altitude of about 100-400 meters above sea level.

Females growing up to 5 cm (overall 20 cm) while males only 0.5 cm. Sexual dimorphism of giant golden spider has two main hypotheses, female gigantism and male dwarfism.

N. pilipes builds fine, asymmetrical and elongated nets for up to 2 meters wide at 1-2 meters above the ground. The net is built between pineapple (Ananas comosus), sonokeling (Dalbergia latifolia), teak (Tectona grandis), pine (Pinus merkusii), Earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis) and various shrubs.

From the British Ecological Society:

Orb-weaver spiders’ yellow and black pattern helps them lure prey

February 11, 2020

Summary: Being inconspicuous might seem the best strategy for spiders to catch potential prey in their webs, but many orb-web spiders, which hunt in this way, are brightly colored. New research finds their distinct yellow and black pattern is actually essential in luring prey.

Researchers from Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and the UK placed cardboard cut-out models of the golden orb-weaver, Nephila pilipes, onto real webs in the field. Testing different combinations of colours and patterns they discovered that both the yellow colour and the black and yellow mosaic pattern are essential for luring prey during the day.

The webs of Nephila pilipes also capture prey during the night, and the experiments demonstrated that the yellow colour alone was very effective at luring nocturnal insects.

Orb-weaving spiders are found in different light conditions, and comparisons between many different species revealed a link between light environments and orb-weaver body colour patterns. Species that build their webs in well-lit environments are more likely to evolve the yellow mosaic colour pattern, found to be so effective at luring prey in these experiments.

However, this colour pattern rarely evolves in species that have little opportunity to lure prey, perhaps because they are concealed in a retreat or build their webs in dark caves.

Dr Po Peng, lead author of the study, said, “Our discoveries indicate that the effectiveness of colour-luring to attract prey might be a major driver for the yellow mosaic pattern being present in distantly related orb-weaver spiders.”

The significance of the yellow colour may be due to yellow pollen and flower heads being common in flowers that signal to diurnal (active during the day) pollinators. Previous research has also found that some nocturnal (active at night) Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) can discriminate colours under dim light conditions and innately prefer yellow.

Orb weaving spiders comprise around 12,500 species, making up 28% of the 45,000 described spider species. The groups defining trait is that they construct webs which they sit in the middle of to forage for prey.

Nephila pilipes were used in these experiments as they are active both diurnally and nocturnally, making them excellent species to study visual prey lures. Flies and bees make up the majority of their diurnal prey; moths and butterflies make up the majority of their nocturnal prey.

The researchers conducted the field experiments at Huayan Mountain in Taiwan between 2008 — 2009. They created five types of cardboard models that looked like Nephila pilipes with their legs outstretched. One accurately mimicked the spiders’ natural colouration. The second had blue spots rather than yellow to test the importance of colour. The third amalgamated the combined area of the yellow into one area to test the importance of the pattern. The fourth and fifth model types were entirely yellow and entirely black.

“To find paper with colour properties most similar to the body parts of N. pilipes, Szu-Wei Chen (co-author) and I did several tours over dozens of stationery stores collecting samples and measuring their reflectance.” Said Po Peng.

In the field experiments, the researchers removed a live spider from its web and randomly selected one of the models to be placed in the centre. They recorded the responses of insects to the cardboard spiders, collecting a combined 1,178 hours of video footage over day and night.

In this study the researchers only looked at the effects of the spiders’ colour and pattern on luring prey and not how they’re perceived by predators. “Previous studies suggest that the area of bright body parts is constrained by diurnally active, visually hunting predators” said Po Peng, “But our results indicated that the yellow mosaic pattern on nocturnal spiders does not represent a trade-off between prey attraction and predator avoidance.” The effect of both colour and pattern on risk from predators or parasitoids is something the researchers feel warrants further investigation.