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Japanese militarism getting worse


Pictures from Japanese neo-Nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and his party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inada

These pictures from Japanese neo-nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and Abe’s party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inada; now minister of war … sorry for forgetting to use the euphemism ‘defence’ … of Japan.

By Peter Symonds:

Japanese imperialism rearms

24 March 2017

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is exploiting the extremely tense situation on the Korean Peninsula to push for its military to be able to carry out “pre-emptive” strikes on an enemy such as North Korea. The acquisition of offensive weapons, such as cruise missiles, for the first time since the end of World War II would be another major step by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to rearm Japan, heightening the danger of war.

Commenting on North Korean missile tests, Defence Minister Tomomi Inada suggested on March 9 that Japan could acquire the capacity for “pre-emptive” attacks. “I do not rule out any method and we consider various options, consistent of course with international law and the constitution of our country,” she said.

Hiroshi Imazu, chairman of the LDP’s policy council on security, was more forthright: “It is time we acquired the capacity. I don’t know whether that would be with ballistic missiles, cruise missiles or even the F-35 [fighter], but without a deterrence North Korea will see us as weak.” The policy council plans to submit a proposal in the current parliamentary session with a view to its inclusion in the next five-year defence plan.

Inada’s caveat notwithstanding, the purchase of weapons of aggression would openly breach Article 9 of the Japanese post-war constitution, which renounces “war … and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes” and declares that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Such a move would also dispense with the longstanding legal fig leaf that Japan’s existing military forces are purely for self-defence.

To date, Japanese governments have baulked at the acquisition of obviously offensive weapons, such as ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers and long-range bombers, not least because of widespread anti-war opposition among Japanese workers and youth. On Wednesday, however, Japan commissioned the Kaga, its second helicopter carrier. The ships are the largest put into operation by the Japanese military since World War II and could be modified to carry fighter aircraft.

The Abe government, the most right-wing in post-war history, has greatly accelerated the drive to remilitarise Japan and remove legal and constitutional restraints on its armed forces. Since coming to office in 2012, Abe has used the slogan of “pro-active pacifism” to justify increased military budgets, the establishment of a US-style National Security Council to centralise war planning in the prime minister’s office and a shift in the strategic focus of the military from the north to the southern island chain, adjacent to the Chinese mainland.

Abe underscored his confrontational stance toward Beijing at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos where he drew a false comparison between China today and German imperialism in 1914 so as to brand China as “aggressive” and “expansionist.” He deliberately heightened the dangerous standoff with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islets in the East China Sea by insisting his government would not enter negotiations over their status with Beijing.

In 2015, the Abe government provoked huge protests against legislation that, under the deceptive banner of “collective self-defence,” allows the Japanese military to participate in US-led wars of aggression.

Abe has campaigned on the program of making Japan “a normal nation” with a strong military—in other words, for Japanese imperialism to prosecute its strategic and economic interests through all, including military, means. The LDP is pushing for a complete revision of the constitution, including the modification or removal of Article 9. The document has long been regarded in right-wing militarist circles as an “occupiers’ constitution” drawn up by the United States to render Japan impotent.

Abe and his cabinet have very strong links to ultra-right groupings such as Nippon Kaigi, which campaigns for a new constitution, promotes militarism and patriotism, and seeks to whitewash the crimes of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s. Nippon Kaigi’s parliamentary grouping includes 280 of the 717 parliamentarians in the lower and upper houses. Significantly, Abe is a special adviser to the organisation and 16 of his 20-member cabinet are members. He is now embroiled in scandal over claims that his wife, allegedly acting on his behalf, gave a cash donation to the ultra-nationalist operator of a private kindergarten in Osaka that indoctrinates pre-school children in Japanese patriotism.

The drive to remilitarise is being fuelled by the worsening crisis of Japanese and world capitalism, and the deep concern in Japanese ruling circles about the country’s historic decline, underlined by its relegation to the third largest world economy, behind China. As well as boosting the military, Abe has sought to extend Japanese influence, including military ties, especially in Asia, through the most active diplomatic drive of any post-war prime minister.

The Abe government has prosecuted remilitarisation under the umbrella of the US-Japan military alliance and with the active support of Washington. In part, this is to avoid stirring up memories of Japan’s wartime atrocities in Asia and generating opposition in the region to Japanese imperialism. Abe has also sought to continue to work closely with the Trump administration. He was one of the first world leaders to visit Trump after the US election, and again after Trump took office.

Trump’s installation, however, has profoundly destabilised world politics, including in Asia. His repudiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a blow to the Abe government, which had invested considerable political capital in overcoming opposition within the LDP, in order to ensure its ratification. Abe regarded the economic pact as critical to countering Chinese economic clout, ensuring a dominant position in Asia for Japan, in league with the US, and overcoming the protracted stagnation of the Japanese economy.

Moreover, Trump’s “America First” demagogy and threats of trade war have not just been directed against China. He has a long history of denouncing Japan for its trade surplus with the United States and “unfair” trade practices. During the US presidential election campaign, Trump also called into question the US-Japan Security Treaty, threatening to walk away if Japan did not pay more toward the cost of US military bases in the country. He even suggested that Japan should protect itself by building its own nuclear weapons.

As in Europe, all the geo-political fault lines that led to two disastrous world wars in the 20th century are emerging again. The Abe government’s determination to rearm Japan as rapidly as possible is not about countering the “threat” posed by North Korea, but defending the interests of Japanese imperialism by every means, compounding the danger of war. As in the 1940s, intense rivalry for markets, raw materials and cheap labour could fuel trade conflicts between US and Japan and a competition to dominate Asia, ending in a catastrophic war that would inevitably engulf the region and the world.

Eurasian treecreeper expansion news


This video from Sweden is called Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris).

Eurasian treecreepers are the most common treecreeper species of the British isles and eastern Europe. However, in the Netherlands, especially the west, the short-toed treecreeper is the most common species.

Today, Dutch Vroege Vogels TV reports that Eurasian treecreepers are expanding in the south and east of the Netherlands. In Twente region in Overijssel province, about 10-15 couples now nest year after year.

Like the middle spotted woodpecker, also expanding in the Netherlands, this species benefits from changed forest management, in which old and dead trees are removed less often.

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch


This video from the USA says about itself:

Only One Judge Ruled Against Freezing Truck Driver… Trump’s.

23 March 2017

Trump’s Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch never met a corporate overlord he didn’t worship. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, discuss.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN), as he said himself during Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, used to have “a career in identifying absurdity” as a humorist and one of SNL’s original writers.

Ironically, his early career has carried over rather too well to policy making, as he demonstrated while grilling Gorsuch about his ruling in the so-called “Frozen Trucker case.”

The case at hand is that of Alphonse Maddin, a truck driver for TransAm. The brakes on Maddin’s trailer locked up on a subzero January night, and he called for help from TransAm’s road service. They told him to wait, and he did — for two hours, despite discovering that the heat in his truck cab was broken. When he was woken by a phone call, he had a numb torso and couldn’t feel his feet.

“If you fall asleep waiting in 14 below zero weather, you can freeze to death. You can die,” Franken explained in his retelling of the case.”

Read more here.

By John Burton in the USA:

Who is Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch?

24 March 2017

Over the last four days, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a charade of a hearing for Neil M. Gorsuch, president Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the 2016 death of arch-reactionary Antonin Scalia.

While more polished, tactful and amiable than the crass and bullying Scalia, Gorsuch is expected to vote along the same reactionary lines. Gorsuch will restore the dominant right-wing bloc that, when joined by the conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, over the last decade destroyed the Voting Rights Act, opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate campaign contributions, empowered corporate bosses to impose their religious views and practices on employees, dismantled environmental protections, stripped workers and consumers of their rights to file lawsuits, stripped search-and-seizure protections, and expanded immunity for police murders and other official misconduct, among other things.

As a private lawyer, Gorsuch represented Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz, a major contributor to archconservative groups including the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. In 2006 Anschultz intervened at the White House to advocate that President George W. Bush nominate Gorsuch to a vacancy on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah.

The Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, an organization dedicated to the right-wing takeover of the United States judiciary, handpicked Gorsuch for Trump. Disclosing how these forces operate out of the public eye, Gorsuch acknowledged that he found out about Trump’s nomination directly from Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society executive vice president widely considered a major right-wing kingmaker.

Gorsuch is relatively young at 49—a major asset for a lifetime appointment—with solid educational and legal credentials, including a coveted Supreme Court clerkship split between Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. More importantly, Gorsuch has proven time and again that he will support dismantling all restraints on corporate looting as well as the expansion of governmental power to suppress the social explosions that will inevitably result.

Writing in 2005 for the conservative National Review, Gorsuch denounced “American liberals,” as “addicted to the courtroom,” for “effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”

The hearings opened Monday, with Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican from Iowa, praising Gorsuch as “the gold standard,” labeling any attempt to probe his right-wing views as “political posturing and grandstanding.”

Virtually every Democrat who spoke during the hearing pointed out the hypocrisy after the Republicans refused to consider former president Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat, Merrick Garland.

Gorsuch was introduced to the Judiciary Committee in glowing terms by both senators from his home state of Colorado, including Democrat Michael Bennet. …

Gorsuch’s prepared opening remarks consisted solely of generalities and homilies, interlaced with occasional strained and corny attempts at humor. He studiously avoided any substance that would tend to confirm how he intends to vote on controversial issues he is likely to confront as a justice.

During two days of questioning Tuesday and Wednesday, Gorsuch refused to reveal his views on any substantive issues, denying that he had been asked to submit to any “litmus test.”

“I would tell you that Roe vs. Wade, decided in 1973, is the precedent of the United States Supreme Court,” Gorsuch said when asked about a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, adding, “all of the other factors that go into analyzing precedent have to be considered,” a hint that Gorsuch would be open to overturning the ruling.

The only new revelations raised during the four-day hearing arise from newly uncovered emails that demonstrate how, during his seven-month stint with the Department of Justice in 2005 and 2006, Gorsuch urged then-president George W. Bush to issue an unprecedented “signing statement” that essentially repudiated the Detainee Treatment Act, a law sponsored by Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war, that barred US agencies from inflicting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment on people detained anywhere in the world.

When pressed on the documents by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, Gorsuch shifted responsibility to others, claiming that he was only their lawyer, not a policy maker. At the same time, Gorsuch refused to state whether he viewed torture techniques such as waterboarding and prolonged sleep deprivation to be illegal.

Later in the hearings, Feinstein asked Gorsuch about a memo where he scribbled “yes” next to the question whether CIA torture had yielded valuable information, knowing from her own Senate investigation that none was obtained.

“I was a lawyer. My job was as an advocate, and we were dealing with detainee litigation. That was my job,” Gorsuch responded.

Similarly, Feinstein pressed Gorsuch whether he actually believes the comments he wrote for Alberto Gonzales, Bush’s attorney general, asserting that Congress lacked authority to require federal agents to always obtain warrants for national security surveillance. “Goodness no, Senator, and I didn’t believe it at the time,” Judge Gorsuch replied, describing himself as only “a speechwriter,” and “the scribe.”

The final day of hearings on Thursday was dedicated to other witnesses, some of whom came to praise Gorsuch as bright, hardworking and fair, and others to condemn his record. Elisa Massimino of Human Rights First pointed out that Gorsuch joined the Bush administration shortly after the sickening images emerged from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dominated by a Republican majority, the Committee will vote on April 3, most likely along party lines, to recommend Gorsuch to the full Senate, where the only suspense is likely to be whether the Democrats stage a meaningless filibuster before rolling over for his confirmation.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has pledged to muster the more than 40 Democratic votes needed to block the nomination on the Senate floor under the current rules, on the basis that Gorsuch’s extreme right-wing views are out of the “mainstream.”

Senate Republicans, who control 52 of the 100 Senate seats plus the tiebreaker, can counter a filibuster by changing the rules by majority vote. There are implications to such a maneuver, however, and various media reports cite behind-the-scene negotiations that could affect votes on future judicial nominees or meet the parochial interests of certain senators.

Regardless, there is no reason to believe that Gorsuch will not be confirmed and join the other Supreme Court justices, probably before the current term ends in late June.

The author recommends:

The right-wing record of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch
[2 February 2017]

The CIA torture report and the crisis of legitimacy in the United States
[12 August 2014]

Indiana, USA barred owl nest webcam


This April 2016 video shows there were owlets in the Indiana, USA barred owl nest then.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA today:

Deep in the suburban wilds of central Indiana, the Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owls have returned for a fourth year on cam. Nestled beneath the down feathers of the female owl are three white eggs, with hatching likely to happen around the end of the first week of April. For the last three years, the owls have had great success raising their young, fledging a total of eight owlets from eight eggs. Watch cam.

What to watch for: During the day you can listen to the sounds of spring arrive to the forests as the female incubates her eggs. At night, watch as the male owl delivers a steady stream of interesting prey items (like this crayfish) to the nest box and listen for the owls’ classic “whoo-cooks-for-you?” hooting duets. After hatching, it takes only 4 to 5 weeks for the owlets to transform from close-eyed, downy fluffballs to fierce, sometimes clumsy youngsters before setting out to explore the world.

Share what you see and hear with us on the cam‘s Twitter feed, @WBU_Owls, and join us in learning more about these secretive and adaptable predators.

Ancient bird Archaeopteryx and Donald Trump


This video says about itself:

23 May 2014

In 1860 in Germany, an unusual fossil was found that shocked the world. It seemed to be a strange combination of a dinosaur and a bird. It was the 150 million-year-old fossil of Archaeopteryx. The skeleton looked like a normal two-legged meat-eating dinosaur, but it had one very special feature: feathers. Its feathers are how it got its name, which means “ancient wing”.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Archaeopteryx takes to the skies

Friday 24th March 2017

The fossil which proved the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds is on tour. PETER FROST explains why this scientific discovery is still relevant today

CHARLES DARWIN published his earth-shattering book On the Origin of Species in 1859. The book outlined the theory of evolution that is still, despite its compelling evidence, being argued about today, especially in the United States bible belt and even in President Donald Trump’s White House.

Part of Darwin’s argument predicted finding fossil evidence for the transitional stage between dinosaurs and what would become birds. At the time of his writing, Darwin predicted that evidence would be uncovered to prove his theory. Critics scoffed and noted the absence of any fossil evidence.

Then in 1861, just two years after his book was published, the fossil of a single feather was uncovered in the limestone layers of Solnhofen in Bavaria, southern Germany. It was clear evidence for the transitional fossil between dinosaurs and birds that Darwin had predicted. The great scientist was vindicated, to the dismay of his critics.

That same year more proof arrived when the first complete specimen of Archaeopteryx was discovered. That first skeleton, later to be known as “the London specimen,” was unearthed near Langenaltheim, Germany. It finally proved the link between dinosaurs and birds.

The fossil was given to local physician Karl Haberlein in return for medical services. Over the years, ten more fossils of Archaeopteryx have surfaced all in the same limestone layers of Solnhofen.

These fossil archaeopteryx have since become key evidence for the origin of birds, the transitional fossils debate and the confirmation of evolution.

The original German fossil was purchased by Britain in 1863 for £700 and was kept initially at the British Museum. When the Natural History Museum opened in South Kensington in 1881, the fossil became one of its most important exhibits.

Until this year it had never left the museum, but since March 18 it has been the star exhibit in a travelling exhibition at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo.

At first glance the fossil might seem to be just a ragtag assortment of bones, but on closer inspection you can understand why Archaeopteryx is so interesting and important.

Today, the thin limestone slabs that contain the bones of this pivotal creature are considered priceless. If one ever came to auction it would sell for millions of pounds.

The delicate stone has been carefully reinforced using a strong plastic resin but is still incredibly delicate. Museums officials are satisfied the iconic fossil will come to no harm in transit or during its time on display in Japan.

The Archaeopteryx fossil has beautiful impressions of feathers and wings — like a bird. But then it also displays the claws, the long bony tail and the serrated teeth more normally associated with dinosaurs.

Archaeopteryx was roughly the size of a small chicken, with broad wings that were rounded at the ends and a long tail compared to its body length.

Its feathers were very similar in structure to modern-day bird feathers. Unlike modern birds, Archaeopteryx had small teeth as well as a long bony tail, features which the species shared with other dinosaurs of the time.

Directors of modern dinosaur films may have used their computers to make Archaeopteryx into a soaring elegant flyer — something like a giant condor. In reality, it was probably an ungainly beast capable only of flapping flight from one low shrub to another.

In a world where more and more fundamentalist religious views are arguing against the science of evolution, it is important that the convincing evidence of fossils is made as widely known as possible.

President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence were asked for their thoughts on evolution and Darwin. Pence told Congress he believed in teaching creationism in schools to balance out the theory of evolution.

In answer to a journalists question, he replied: “Do I believe in evolution? I embrace the view that God created the heavens and the Earth, the seas and all that’s in them.”

Pence wants the biblical story of creation taught in biology class alongside evolution.

With backwoodsman Trump as president, it will certainly happen.

Sadly the pair of them are in good company as many people in the United States agree with them.

While the majority of people in Europe and in many other parts of the world accept evolution, the United States lags behind.

Today, four in every 10 adults in the US believe that humans have existed in our present form since the beginning of time. In many religious groups, that number is even higher.

Perhaps then it is good news that the remarkable Archaeopteryx fossil is making the journey to Tokyo as just one of 300 exhibits from the collection of London’s Natural History Museum.

The travelling exhibition features all sorts of objects, including many animals that inspired Darwin directly and demonstrate the truth of evolution.

The artefacts range from a lion from the royal menagerie to an exquisite glass model of an octopus. All have a fascinating science backstory.

“Science is a global endeavour fuelled by wonder and curiosity. So it has been an ambition for us to share these extraordinary treasures with a wider audience,” Natural History Museum director Sir Michael Dixon told us.

“They are the essence of the scientific exploration that inspired pioneers and continues today at the Natural History Museum.”

Other destinations for this exciting touring exhibition beyond Japan will be announced in due course, but I doubt they will be welcome in Trump and Pence’s Washington.

Curlews in trouble


This video says about itself:

27 March 2009

The curlew‘s song is one of the most beautiful sounds of the countryside. … This video shows Eurasian curlews (Numenius arquata) in spring and early summer in the heart of Britain.

From BirdLife:

7 Mar 2017

Curlews in crisis?

New research suggests that the Numeniini – a tribe of large waders including Curlews and Godwits – could be the most endangered birds you’ve never heard about. Indeed, two species may already be extinct

By Alex Dale

To the layman, the curlews are a shy, unassuming family of birds. Their mottled-brown plumage makes for effective camouflage against their marshland and mudflat feeding grounds, meaning they can go about their business unnoticed, prying out invertebrates such as ragworms with their purpose-built curved bills. But if, like the curlews, you take time to dig beneath the surface, you’ll discover that they are beautiful and remarkable birds.

The Numeniini are a tribe of large waders consisting of the curlews, whimbrels, godwits and Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda. They are some of the most widespread and far-travelling of all birds, migrating back and forth from their upland and grassland northern hemisphere breeding habitats to their wetland, often coastal, non-breeding habitats to the southern extremities of all continents except for Antarctica.

Indeed, one such member, the Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica is holder of the world record for the longest non-stop journey without feeding of any animal – satellite tagging has shown that birds from one population take eight days to fly from breeding grounds in Alaska 11,000 km to New Zealand every year.

Perhaps it’s their wide range lulling us into a false sense of security that means they have been a little overlooked by conservationists until now. Or maybe it’s that their camouflage is a little too effective. Whatever the reason, it’s time for the curlew to be counted, because an eye-opening new study reveals that they could be one of, if not THE, most threatened group of birds on our planet.

The paper, produced in collaboration with the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the International Wader Study Group, and published in the journal Bird Conservation International, collated the views of over 100 wader experts from around the world, who assessed the threats faced by these species across their migratory flyways. Their conclusion: seven of 13 species – or over half – are now threatened with extinction.

Indeed, two species of curlew may already be extinct;  the Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris, last spotted with confidence in 1995, which once migrated between the Mediterranean Basin and its breeding grounds in Siberia; and the Eskimo Curlew Numenius borealis, which once travelled between Canada and South America, and is almost certainly a goner, having not been seen with certainty since 1963 (and not in South America since 1939).

The plight of the Eskimo Curlew has strong parallels with the far-wider publicised extinction of the Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius. The shorebird once numbered in its millions, but widescale hunting and habitat loss in its spring staging areas in the Rocky Mountains has led to, if not the total eradication of the species, then at least its decimation to the point where if it still exists, it does so as a tiny population in some uncharted corner of the Canadian wilderness.

While the hunt goes on for traces of these Critically Endangered species, the paper highlights that attention too should urgently be given to the threats faced by the species we know for sure are still among us.

The study discovers that overall probably the most serious threats to the future of curlews and their allies is the habitat loss or degradation of the coastal wetlands they depend upon to roost and feed across their non-breeding range, including as refuel stopovers during their epic migrations.

While the Numeniini and other waterbirds are encounting this threat all across flyways in Central and Atlantic America, and the East Atlantic, this problem is particularly acute in Asia, a part of the world which is experiencing high levels of coastal development. As a result, a quarter of vital mudflat habitats in the Yellow Sea have been lost since the 1980s, and most of the remainder are badly-degraded, leaving at least 27 species of migratory waterbirds, which depend on these pitstops to break up their epic journeys, at risk of extinction. Besides the Bar-tailed Godwit (assessed as Near Threatened by BirdLife for the IUCN Red List) mentioned above, this number includes the likes of Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris and Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis (Endangered), the latter of which [is] the largest wader in the world, and the closest to following the Eskimo and Slender-billed Curlews on the downward curve towards extinction.

The loss of these habitats – together with illegal and unsustainable hunting – makes the East Asian-Australasian flyway one of the most dangerous routes for migratory birds in the entire world. BirdLife Australia is already supporting the Australian government in the implementation of an intergovernmentally agreed flyway action plan for this species, under the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership and Convention on Migratory Species. Visit our campaign page to discover what else BirdLife is doing to protect these embattled species, and how you can help.

In Europe and North America, the problem appears to be more on the breeding grounds where land use changes, especially agriculture and forestry, and increased fox and crow predation, appear to be driving the declines, especially in the British Isles, which, along with Finland and Russia, hold the bulk of the world’s breeding population of Eurasian Curlew, and the Netherlands which is the most important source of the nominate race of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa.

Curlews travel across some of the most dangerous migratory routes in the entire world

Through the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement of the United Nations Environment Programme, intergovernmental action plans are being implemented for both of these species, coordinated via international working groups.  The one for the godwit is coordinated by the Dutch Government with involvement from VBN, BirdLife in the Netherlands, whereas that for the Curlew is coordinated by the RSPB, BirdLife in the UK.  The RSPB is also leading a major national recovery programme for the species.

These threats,  left unchecked, and together with other identified dangers – which range from pollution to climate change to invasive species and human disturbance – could see this family of birds slip towards extinction. Indeed, for a couple of their members, it may already have happened.

“These large waders with their heart-stirring calls that are an evocation of the wild, are one of the very most threatened groups of migratory birds on earth” says Nicola Crockford, RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), and co-author of the paper. “We may already have lost two of the 13 species and we can and we must ensure that urgent, concerted action is taken to prevent any of the remainder from reaching the brink”

The paper identifies a number of actions that need to be taken to protect these birds including, besides addressing coastal wetland loss and degradation and increasing breeding success in the west; the monitoring of both breeding population trends and land-cover change across their range, and better protection of key non-breeding sites, particularly across the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the name Numeniini is beleived to be derived from the Greek for new moon, which does describe the bill shape. Let’s hope that conservation efforts are sufficient to ensure that this charismatic family of long-distance waders aren’t in their twilight years.