British biodiversity, new research

This 2015 video is called Why is biodiversity important?

From University College London in England:

Freshwater insects recover while spiders decline in UK

February 17, 2020

Many insects, mosses and lichens in the UK are bucking the trend of biodiversity loss, according to a comprehensive analysis of over 5,000 species led by UCL and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH).

The researchers say their findings on UK biodiversity between 1970 and 2015, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, may provide evidence that efforts to improve air and water quality could be paying off.

“By looking at long-term trends in the distribution of understudied species, we found evidence of concerning declines, but we also found that it’s not all bad news. Some groups of species, particularly freshwater insects, appear to be undergoing a strong recovery,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Charlie Outhwaite (UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and the RSPB).

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the researchers analysed trends in the distribution of invertebrates (such as insects and spiders), bryophytes (such as mosses) and lichens over a 45-year period, to see whether they were following the same declining trends reported in better-studied groups such as mammals, birds and butterflies.

Across all 5,214 species surveyed, overall occupancy (distribution) was 11% higher in 2015 than in 1970. The researchers were not able to estimate the total numbers of each species, but gauged how well each species was doing by whether its geographic range was expanding or shrinking.

They found substantial variation between the different groups, and between individual species within each group. Among the four major groups studied, only one of them — terrestrial non-insect invertebrates (mainly spiders, centipedes and millipedes) — exhibited an overall trend of declining distribution (by 7% since 1970).

More positively, freshwater insects, such as mayflies, dragonflies and caddisflies, have undergone a strong recovery since the mid-1990s, recently surpassing 1970 levels following a 47% decline from 1970 to 1994. Mosses and lichens have also increased in average occupancy (distribution) by 36%, while terrestrial insects, such as ants and moths, exhibited a slight increase.

The data included over 24 million records, each identifying a sighting of a particular species in a particular location, sourced from numerous biological recording schemes. People from across the UK have been contributing to the recording schemes on a volunteer basis for decades.

While the volunteers used inconsistent methods to collect their records, having such a vast quantity of data enabled the researchers to analyse it effectively using occupancy modelling techniques.

“Our study demonstrates the power of citizen science, as anyone can contribute to impactful academic research. We couldn’t have done this research without the hard work of thousands of volunteers who have contributed to recording schemes over the years,” said Dr Outhwaite.

While the study period only went back to 1970, other research suggests that many of the species studied would have been experiencing long-term declines dating back to the industrial revolution or further, due to pollution or habitat losses from agricultural expansion and urbanisation.

While they did not investigate the particular reasons for the declines and recoveries found in this study, the researchers say that it’s likely that environmental protection initiatives are helping some species recover. Mosses and lichens are known to be susceptible to air pollution, while freshwater insects likely benefited from improvements in wastewater treatment since the early 1990s.

German neonazis plotted massacre of Muslims

This 17 February 2020 video says about itself:

Germany: Berlin says 50 right-wing extremists under observation after mosque plot arrests

The German government has identified “around 50” people who are likely to carry out right-wing terror attacks, after 12 men were arrested on Friday for planning to attack mosques, as announced by spokespeople in Berlin on Monday.

From Al Jazeera today:

German far-right group was ‘plotting Christchurch-style attack’

Concerns rise as more details emerge about men who wanted to carry out large-scale, deadly attacks against Muslims.

Members of a far-right German group arrested last week were plotting “shocking” large-scale attacks on mosques similar to the ones carried out in New Zealand last year, a government spokesman said on Monday.

Officials said investigations into 12 men detained in police raids across Germany on Friday had indicated they planned big attacks, following media reports over the weekend the group aimed to launch several simultaneous mass-casualty assaults on Muslims during prayers.

… According to media reports, the group planned to use semi-automatic weapons to mirror attacks in Christchurch last March in New Zealand in which 51 people were killed at two mosques.

The alleged leader of the far-right group, which was known to the authorities and whose meetings and chat activity had been under observation, detailed his plans at a meeting organised with his accomplices last week.

Investigators learned about that meeting from someone who had infiltrated the group, reports said.

Prosecutors said they had launched early morning raids to determine whether the suspects already had weapons or other supplies that could be used in an attack.

The country’s underground far-right scene is under increased scrutiny since the murder of conservative local politician Walter Luebcke last June and an October attack on a synagogue in eastern city Halle.

Der Spiegel reported that police currently list 53 people belonging to the extreme right as “dangerous” individuals who could carry out a violent attack.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency estimates there are about 24,100 “right-wing extremists” in the country, about half of whom are potentially violent.

According to the government, there were nearly 9,000 attacks by far-right groups and individuals in the first half of 2019 – an increase of nearly 1,000 compared with the same period the year before.

Meanwhile, there are growing concerns about the far right’s political influence in Germany, following a recent scandal that saw mainstream parties collaborate with the nationalist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) in a local election.

It was not a local election, but electing a new state Prime Minister.

Unexploded bombs threaten Libyan civilians

This 23 January 2014 video from Switzerland says about itself:

ENI Has No Plans to Exit Libya

Paolo Scaroni, the chief executive of Italian oil major ENI, discusses with [Rupert Murdoch’s] Wall Street Journal‘s Deborah Ball at the World Economic Forum the challenges and opportunities facing the oil and gas sector. Photo: Getty Images

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, February 17, 2020

Unexploded bombs threaten civilians in Libya as truce “hangs by a thread”

UN REPRESENTATIVE to Libya Stephanie Williams has dismissed the UN-backed arms embargo as “a joke”.

The country is spiralling into an increasingly deadly situation as battle rages between the … Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and General Khalifa Hiftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls large parts of the east.

After foreign ministers met in Munich on Sunday, Ms Williams warned: “The situation on the ground remains deeply troubling. The truce is holding only by a thread … the economic situation continues to deteriorate.”

In January a Berlin conference of world leaders agreed to stop sending weapons to the competing Libyan forces in a bid to de-escalate the situation and find a political solution.

But the embargo has been repeatedly breached, in particular by Turkey, which has sent equipment and thousands of jihadist fighters from the battlefields of Syria to support the Western-backed GNA.

‘Western-backed’ is not completely correct. The Italian government and Italian Big Oil corporation ENI support the GNA. But French President Macron, European Union and NATO ally of the Italian government, and French Big Oil corporation Total support warlord Khalifa Haftar.

“The arms embargo has become a joke, we all really need to step up here,” Ms Williams said.

Talks on how to police the influx of weapons into Libya continued yesterday. They were marked by some reluctance to launch another naval mission in the region.

“It’s complicated because there are violations by land, sea and air, but it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability,” Ms Williams insisted.

UN Mines Action Service spokesman Bob Seddon warned of the increased danger posed by “explosive remnants of war”.

He said: “It is estimated that there are between 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of uncontrolled munitions across Libya.”

Remnants of cluster munitions are alleged to have been found on the battlefields.

At least 900 civilian deaths have been attributed to explosives, the campaign group Action on Armed Violence said.

The foreign ministers of all 27 EU countries agreed to launch a new military mission in Libya on Monday: here.

Fortress Europe’s dirty secret. EU condemned for its continued support of the Libyan Coastguard after the Star reveals the EU’s own reports were warning about the mistreatment of refugees in Libya: here.

Exclusive: Revealed: EU to continue supporting the Libyan Coastguard despite its fears of human rights abuses: here.

Chestnut-headed oropendola, gray-headed chachalacas at Panama feeder

This video from Panama says about itself:

Chestnut-headed Oropendola Claims A Spot Amidst A Platform Of Gray-headed Chachalacas – Feb 15, 2020

Gray-headed Chachalacas have been very regular visitors over the past few months. Their size and numbers did not deter this Chestnut-headed Oropendola from claiming its own share of the platform and food. Note the bright blue eyes and vibrant yellow tail feathers on this stunning oropendola.

Candidate Bernie Sanders, establishment sabotage, climate activism

This 17 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

A Look Back at How Nevada’s Democratic Party Screwed Bernie Sanders in 2016

This 17 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

The Digital Media Manager for the Sunrise Movement discusses their work to help win Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination.

THE UNIVERSITY of California’s largest employee union, AFSCME Local 3299, has voted to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders’ bid for President ahead of California’s March 3rd Primary Election. AFSCME Local 3299 represents 26,000 Service and Patient Care workers at the University of California, and is comprised mostly of women and black workers, who are the lowest paid in the UC system: here.