Black Lives Matter, also in England


People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, England, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis

This photo shows people taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, England, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 12 July 2020:

Thousands march in Brighton Black Lives Matter protest

THOUSANDS of people marched through Brighton on Saturday shouting “black lives matter every day” after a video showing a man pinned to the ground by police officers circulated online last week.

Around 5,000 protesters marched along the seafront towards the city centre carrying placards reading “the UK is not innocent” and “decolonise everything”.

It follows outrage over a video circulated on Tuesday showing a man shouting “I can’t breathe” as he’s restrained on the ground by three officers in Brighton.

This 9 July 2020 video, by the British Conservative Daily Telegraph, says about itself:

I can’t breathe‘ UK police restraint referred to watchdog

A police force is reviewing whether footage of its officers restraining a man who repeatedly shouts “I can’t breathe” needs to be investigated.

In a video circulating on social media, a man is lying on the ground, restrained by three officers, on a hill behind a police car in Brighton.

USA: VIDEO SHOWS PENNSYLVANIA COP USING KNEE ON MAN’S NECK Protesters are demanding the suspension of officers seen in a video restraining a man by placing a knee on his neck in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The department released its use of force policy earlier this month, five weeks after a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for several minutes. [AP]

Black-tailed godwits and their young in England


This 1 July 2020 video from England says about itself:

How do godwits rear their chicks? Godwit-cam highlights | WWT

Black-tailed godwits are beautiful wading birds. but they are now Red Listed in the UK (BoCC4), which is why they’re one of the wetland species we’re helping in the wild. We also have a small population in captivity and, in spring 2020, we placed a nest cam near two of our breeding birds to capture all the action as they hatched and reared their chicks. Senior Conservation Breeding Officer, Tanya Grigg, explains what happens at each stage of the parent and chick journey.

Managing these birds in captivity helps us develop some of the techniques we use to boost productivity (breeding success) in the wild. As part of Project Godwit, we are using a range of methods to help black-tailed godwits that breed at the Nene and Ouse Washes in East Anglia, including headstarting. Headstarting involves protecting chicks until they are capable of flight and are much less vulnerable to predators and flooding. We released 112 fledglings at the Nene and Ouse Washes from 2017-2019 and the wild breeding population has grown in size. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our plans for 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

British singer Vera Lynn, RIP


This is a video of British singer Vera Lynn singing We’ll Meet Again.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

British singer Vera Lynn has died at the age of 103, reports British public broadcaster BBC. …

The song We’ll meet again, which she recorded in 1942, was seen as a boost for the many lovers who were separated by the war. The song helped the soldiers express and share their experiences, their fears and their sorrows, she later said, “A lot of these boys never told anything about the war.”

Ms Lynn supported the World War II fight against nazi Germany. However, later she opposed the Afghan war of United States President George W Bush, British Blairite Prime Minister Tony Blair and later Conservative Prime Ministers.

A side of Vera Lynn not mentioned in either the BBC or the NOS reports.

English slave trader Colston, Tina Turner parody


This 9 June 2020 satirical music video from Britain is a parody of the song Proud Mary by Tina Turner.

It says about itself:

[17th-century Bristol, England slave trader] Edward Colston – Rolling to the River

The statue of Edward Colston sings.

LYRICS:

Left a good job in the city
Joined the Royal African Company
Worked my way up to Deputy Governor
19,000 slaves died on our journeys
Statue was still erected
But it seems some of you objected
Now I’m rolling, rolling, rolling to the river

Grave of enslaved African in Bristol vandalised in ‘retaliation attack’: here.

Pink flamingos, pale flamingos and food fights


This 8 June 2020 video says about itself:

Not so pretty in pink! Researchers found lesser flamingos that are the pinkest push their paler cohorts around more when fighting over food, showing how color plays a part in their complex social structures.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Pinker flamingos more aggressive

June 7, 2020

Bright pink flamingos are more aggressive than paler rivals when fighting over food, new research shows.

Pink plumage is a sign of good health in lesser flamingos, and a flush of colour often means they are ready to breed.

So when the birds squabble over food, the pinkest flamingos — both male and female — tend to push the others around.

The study, by the University of Exeter and WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, also found the birds fight more when food is available in a small area such as a bowl — so the findings suggest captive birds should be fed over a wide space where possible.

“Flamingos live in large groups with complex social structures,” said Dr Paul Rose, of the University of Exeter.

“Colour plays an important role in this. The colour comes from carotenoids in their food, which for lesser flamingos is mostly algae that they filter from the water.

“A healthy flamingo that is an efficient feeder — demonstrated by its colourful feathers — will have more time and energy to be aggressive and dominant when feeding.”

Dr Rose studied the behaviour of Slimbridge’s lesser flamingos in different feeding situations: at an indoor feeding bowl, a larger indoor feeding pool, and outdoors with food available in a large pool.

In the outdoor pool, birds spent less than half as much time displaying aggression, while foraging time doubled (compared to when fed from a bowl).

“When birds have to crowd together to get their food, they squabble more and therefore spend less time feeding,” Dr Rose said.

“It’s not always possible to feed these birds outdoors, as lesser flamingos only weigh about 2kg and are native to Africa, so captive birds in places like the UK would get too cold if they went outside in the winter.

“However, this study shows they should be fed over as wide an area as possible.

“Where possible, creating spacious outdoor feeding areas can encourage natural foraging patterns and reduce excess aggression.

“This research shows that zoos don’t have to make huge changes to how they keep their animals to make a big, beneficial difference to animal behaviour.”

Lesser flamingos do not have a breeding season — they breed when they’re in good enough condition.

This is often displayed by a “pink flush” in the feathers, Dr Rose said, and the birds then become paler again during the tiring days of early parenthood.

He added: “This study is a great example of why I love working with WWT Slimbridge.

“Based on my observations, I suggested some changes — and the keepers were willing to try them out.

“As a result, we get pinker, more relaxed flamingos.”

The colour of individual birds in the study was scored from one (mainly white) to four (mainly pink).

No difference was found between males and females in rates of feeding or aggression.

One English care home spared from COVID-19


This 24 May 2020 video from England says about itself:

As coronavirus ravages UK care homes, it spares one centre

At least a quarter of all the United Kingdom’s coronavirus deaths have been in care homes for the elderly.

But managers in a facility for seniors on the Isle of Wright managed to buck the trend.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports from the Isle of Wight, the UK.

Flamingos form friendships, new research


This 2015 video from England is called Andean Flamingo courtship dance | WWT Slimbridge.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Flamingos form firm friendships

April 14, 2020

Flamingos form friendships that last for years, new research shows.

The five-year study reveals that, despite being highly social as part of large flocks, flamingos consistently spend time with specific close “friends.”

They also avoid certain individuals, suggesting some flamingos just don’t get on.

The University of Exeter study examined four flamingo species at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, and found social bonds including “married” couples, same-sex friendships and even groups of three and four close friends.

“Our results indicate that flamingo societies are complex. They are formed of long-standing friendships rather than loose, random connections,” said Dr Paul Rose, of the University of Exeter.

“Flamingos don’t simply find a mate and spend their time with that individual.

“Some mating couples spend much of their time together, but lots of other social bonds also exist.

“We see pairs of males or females choosing to ‘hang out’, we see trios and quartets that are regularly together.

“Flamingos have long lives — some of the birds in this study have been at Slimbridge since the 1960s — and our study shows their friendships are stable over a period of years.

“It seems that — like humans — flamingos form social bonds for a variety of reasons, and the fact they’re so long-lasting suggests they are important for survival in the wild.”

Dr Rose said the findings could help in the management of captive flamingos.

“When moving birds from one zoo to another, we should be careful not to separate flamingos that are closely bonded to each other,” he said.

The study — which used data from 2012-16 — examined flocks of Caribbean, Chilean, Andean and Lesser flamingos.

The flocks varied in size from just over 20 to more than 140, and the findings suggest larger flocks contained the highest level of social interactions.

“The simple lesson of this is that captive flamingo flocks should contain as many birds as reasonably possible,” Dr Rose said.

The study found that seasons affected social interactions, with more bonds forming in spring and summer — the breeding season.

In three of the four flocks, the study also looked at the condition of the birds (measured by the health of their feet) to see if there were links between social lives and health.

No link was found, and Dr Rose said this could mean that socialising is so important to flamingos that they continue to do it even if they are not feeling at their best.

What seagulls eat, new research


This 5 March 2020 video from England says about itself:

Seagulls are more likely to pick up food that humans have handled

Seagulls prefer to approach food that has been handled by people, suggesting that the birds may use human cues to find a meal.

Madeleine Goumas at the University of Exeter, UK, says the idea for her research came from observing how seagulls acted around humans. “Are they just looking for food, or are they noticing what people are doing and picking up on their cues?” she says.

Read more here.

The video shows a herring gull.

Shorter English life expectancy, first since 1900


This video says about itself:

“If you’re smart and poor it’s not enough. Poor will put you down. If you’re rich and dumb, hang in there.”

Sir Michael Marmot is the global guru of health equity, and the social and economic determinants of how we live, and when we die.

“We have to make common cause. The poor are part of us and we’re all part of society.”

Sir Michael’s new book The Health Gap provides both a solid foundation for understanding the most significant sources of our health, and a thorough investigation of the most current and immediate challenges all over the world

Closing the Gap: Action for Health Equity | April 3, 2016 | Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.

By Margot Miller in Britain:

Life expectancy growth stagnates in England for first time in 120 years

12 March 2020

For the first time in 120 years, life expectancy in England has stopped rising and in deprived areas of the country it is falling.

Inequality in life expectancy between the rich and poor, a permanent feature under capitalism, is widening. So too is the gulf separating the rich and poor in terms of the number of years in good health they can expect to live.

An Institute of Health Equity report commissioned by the Health Foundation—Health Equity in England: the Marmot Review 10 Years On—refers to Professor Sir Michael Marmot, a leading expert in public health, who revealed gross inequalities in health outcomes a decade ago. He made recommendations to the national government to reduce the gap, including by “giving children the best start in life” and “fair employment and good work for all”.

The Marmot review 10 Years On reveals, in the words of Professor Marmot, who led the review, that “England is faltering” and has “lost a decade”. His foreword states, “From rising child poverty and the closure of children’s centres, to declines in education funding, an increase in precarious work and zero-hours contracts, to a housing affordability crisis and a rise in homelessness, to people with insufficient money to lead a healthy life and resorting to food banks in large numbers, to ignored communities with poor conditions and little reason for hope … Austerity will cast a long shadow over the lives of the children born and growing up under its effects.”

Since 2011, life expectancy has stalled, a development “unprecedented, at least since the turn of the last century.” The slowdown has been “dramatic”, after previously rising one year every four years since the end of the 19th century. In men overall life expectancy rose by only half a year, from 79.01 in 2010-12 to 79.56 in 2016-18. The rate was lower for women, about a third of a year, from 82.83 to 83.18.

For males living in the most deprived parts of the country, life expectancy averaged 73.9 years in 2016-18, compared with 83.4 years in better-off areas. For women the figures were 78.6 and 86.3 years.

This regression in public health coincides with the introduction of savage austerity by the Labour government led by Gordon Brown after the banking crash of 2008. A trillion pounds was made available to the banks, for which many working-class people have paid with their lives.

The report comments, “If health has stopped improving it is a sign that society has stopped improving. When a society is flourishing health tends to flourish.”

In 2016-18, the difference in life expectancy “between the least and most deprived deciles was 9.5 years for males and 7.7 years for females… In 2010-12, the corresponding differences were smaller—9.1 and 6.8 years, respectively.”

Life expectancy is lower in the North and higher in the South. Differences are increasing both between and within regions. The North East has the lowest life expectancy, London the highest. For both men and women, it decreased the most in the 10 percent of neighbourhoods in the North East with the highest levels of deprivation.

For men only, life expectancy fell in Yorkshire and the Humber, the East of England as well as the North East. The poorest women fared worst. Their life expectancy fell in every region of England, with the exception of London, the West Midlands and the North West.

Among ethnic groups, “Pakistani, Bangladeshi and White Gypsy Travellers have much lower quality of life than other ethnic groups.”

For the least deprived, life expectancy improved. The rich have the greatest chance of longevity. The largest increases in life expectancy were in the least deprived 10 percent of neighbourhoods in London.

Those living in more deprived areas also spend more time suffering ill-health. This has also increased since 2010. Those living in better-off local authorities can expect to live 12 more years of life in good health than those in deprived authorities.

This frightening societal regression also applies to Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Professor Marmot attributes 20 percent of the slowdown to bad flu seasons. The rest is socially determined—linked to cuts in services, falling disproportionately on the more deprived areas, and increasing poverty due to low wages and benefit reforms. As the report explains, the “health of the population is not just a matter of how well the health service is funded and functions… Health is closely linked to the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age and inequities in power, money and resources—the social determinants of health.”

While cuts to essential services have affected all geographical areas since 2010, the axe has fallen hardest outside London, with the more deprived areas and the South East experiencing larger cuts. The report says, “The cuts over the period shown have been regressive and inequitable—they have been greatest in areas where need is highest… the cuts have harmed health and contributed to widening health inequalities… and are likely to continue to do so over the longer term.”

As a percentage of GDP, government public spending fell by 7 points, from 42 to 35 percent, between 2009/10 and 2018/19. Central government grants to local authorities have suffered punishing cuts. From this year, the central government grant is being phased out altogether. Almost half of all councils, 168, no longer receive any core central government funding. Cuts to local government allocations from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government fell by 77 percent between 2009–10 and 2018–19. Areas vital for health outcomes such as social protection and education declined most, by 1.5 percent of GDP.

The Marmot review outlines how deprivation in early childhood is associated with a poorer prospect of having a healthier life and longevity:

“Evidence shows that positive experiences early in life are closely associated with better performance at school, better social and emotional development, improved work outcomes, higher income and better lifelong health, including longer life expectancy.”

More than four million children live in poverty in the UK. The review cites the Institute of Fiscal Studies, “[R]elative child poverty, living in a household with less than 60 percent of median income, after housing costs will increase from 30 percent to 36.6 percent in 2021 in the UK.”

Pension poverty combined with poorly insulated housing contribute to unnecessary deaths among the less well off. A report by National Energy Action and environmental group E3G published February 2018 attributed 9,700 deaths annually to people living in cold houses.

The Marmot Review 10 years On draws attention to devastating attacks on the working class, but it has no solution to offer. As in 2010, it ends with a forlorn appeal for government action to reduce health inequalities. It states baldly, “We repeat: we neither desire nor can envisage a society without social and economic inequalities.”

However, what is required is the expropriation of the society’s resources currently in the hands of a super-rich minority.

Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is committed only to ramping up the exploitation of the working class. Under conditions of a developing trade war agenda and meltdown on the financial markets, the British bourgeoise must impose worsening working conditions and the further destruction of services.