Twenty coastal birds and their calls, video


This video is about twenty coastal birds from Europe, and their calls.

They are:

1. Turnstone Arenaria interpres
2. Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
3. Redshank Tringa totanus
4. Herring gull Larus argentatus
5. Dunlin Calidris alpina
6. Bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica
7. Sanderling Calidris alba
8. Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
9. Common gull Larus canus
10. Black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus / Larus ridibundus
11. Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
12. Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
13. Common tern Sterna hirundo
14. Curlew Numenius arquata
15. Eider duck Somateria mollissima
16. Little tern Sternula albifrons
17. Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus
18. Red knot Calidris canutus
19. Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
20. Great black-backed gull Larus marinus

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Donald Trump’s nuclear weapons across Europe


This 22 July 2019 video says about itself:

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Hidden Across Europe

The Belgian newspaper De Morgen pointed out that nuclear bombs are stored in 6 European and US bases.

De Morgen quotes a NATO document:

“In the context of NATO, the United States is deploying around 150 nuclear weapons in Europe, particularly B61 gravity bombs, which can be deployed by both US and Allied planes. These bombs are stored in six American and European bases: Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi-Torre in Italy, Volkel in the Netherlands and Inçirlik in Turkey.”

Global warming threatens health, doctors say


This September 2017 video from the World Health Organization South-East Asia Region – WHO SEARO says about itself:

Climate Change and Health

Climate change is happening, and is a risk to public health. Whether from greater severity and intensity of extreme weather events, changes in the spread and abundance of disease-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes, or changes to the physical environment that cause displacement or threaten livelihoods, climate change is already having an impact across our Region.

As many diseases and health conditions are climate-sensitive, the impact of climate change on health needs to be included in health policies and planning. In recognition of the immense and increasing public health risks caused by climate change, Member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region unanimously endorsed the Malé Declaration in September 2017, committing to build health systems able to anticipate, respond to, cope with, recover from and adapt to climate-related shocks and stress.

From the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, Leopoldina – Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften:

Climate action urgently required to protect human health in Europe

June 3, 2019

Summary: In a landmark report, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) focuses on the consequences of climate change for human health in Europe and the benefits of acting now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to stabilize the climate.

EASAC is the voice of independent science advice, mobilising Europe’s leading scientists from 27 national science academies to guide EU policy for the benefit of society. By considering a large body of independent studies on the effects of climate change on health, and on strategies to address the risks to health, EASAC has identified key messages and drawn important new conclusions. The evidence shows that climate change is adversely affecting human health and that health risks are projected to increase. Solutions are within reach and much can be done by acting on present knowledge, but this requires political will. With current trends in greenhouse gas emissions, a global average temperature increase of over 3°C above pre-industrial levels is projected by the end of the century. The increase will be higher over land than the oceans, exposing the world population to unprecedented rates of climate change and contributing to the burden of disease and premature mortality. Health risks will increase as climate change intensifies through a range of pathways including:

  • Increased exposure to high temperatures and extreme events such as floods and droughts, air pollution and allergens;
  • Weakening of food and nutrition security;
  • Increased incidence and changing distribution of some infectious diseases (including mosquito-borne, food-borne and water-borne diseases);
  • Growing risk of forced migration.

EASAC emphasises that the top priority is to stabilise climate and accelerate efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The economic benefits of action to address the current and prospective health effects of climate change are likely to be substantial.

Working Group co-chair, Professor Sir Andy Haines (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), comments, “If urgent action is not taken to reduce emissions in order to keep temperatures below the 2°C (or less) limit enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, we face potentially irreversible changes that will have wide-ranging impacts on many aspects of health. The scientific community has an important role in generating knowledge and countering misinformation. We hope that this comprehensive report will act as a wake-up call and draw attention to the need for action, particularly by pursuing policies to decarbonise the economy. The protection of health must have a higher profile in policies aimed at mitigating or adapting to the effects of climate change.” Key messages addressed in the report include:

  • Several hundred pollution pollution deaths annually in the EU could be averted by a ‘zero-carbon’ economy through reduced air pollution. Pollution endangers planetary health, damages ecosystems and is intimately linked to global climate change. Fine particulate and ozone air pollution arise from many of the same sources as emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants. For the EU overall, fossil-fuel-related emissions account for more than half of the excess mortality attributed to ambient (outdoor) air pollution. A recent estimate suggests that about 350,000 excess deaths annually in the EU can be attributed to ambient air pollution from burning fossil fuels and a total of about 500,000 from all human-related activities. Understanding of the range of health effects of air pollution on the health of children and adults is growing. Seven million babies in Europe are living in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO recommended limits and such exposure may affect brain development and cognitive function. Action to reduce pollution through decarbonisation of the economy must be viewed as a priority to address both climate change and public health imperatives.
  • Promotion of healthier, more sustainable diets with increased consumption of fruit, vegetables and legumes and reduced red meat intake will lower the burden of non-communicable diseases and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Promoting dietary change could have major health and environmental benefits, resulting in significant reductions of up to about 40% in greenhouse gas emissions from food systems as well as reducing water and land use demands. Such diets can also lead to major reductions on non-communicable disease burden through reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and other conditions.

    If food and nutrition security declines because of climate change, the EU can probably still satisfy its requirements by importing food. But this will have increasing consequences for the rest of the world; for example, by importing fodder for livestock from arable land that has been created through deforestation. It is therefore vital to develop climate-smart food systems to ensure more resilient agricultural production and to promote food and nutrition security, for the benefit of human health.

  • Climate action could avert a significant increase in the spread of infectious diseases. The spread of infectious diseases in Europe could increase through climate change. These diseases include those that are spread by vectors (particularly mosquitos) and food- and water-borne infections. There is also an increased risk to animal health across Europe from conditions such as Blue tongue virus. Distribution of the mosquito species Aedes albopictus, known to be a vector for diseases such as dengue, is already expanding in Europe and may extend to much of Western Europe within the next decade.

    Water-borne infections such as diarrhea may increase following heavy rainfall and flooding and higher temperatures may be associated with increased antibiotic resistance for pathogens such as E. coli. In the case of Salmonella species, an increase in temperature will increase multiplication and spread in food and increase the risks of food poisoning. There could also be an increase in Norovirus infections related to heavy rainfall and flooding. Strengthening communicable disease surveillance and response systems should be a priority for improving adaptation to climate change.

  • Providing evidence of the health benefits of action on climate change may be instrumental in achieving rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Although the EU is actively engaged in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to identify suitable adaptation measures, the impacts of climate change on health have been relatively neglected in EU policy. Recognising the serious challenges that climate change poses to the global health gains made in recent decades is key to promoting public engagement. Furthermore, the impact of climate change in other regions can have tangible consequences in Europe and the EU has responsibilities in addressing problems outside its area.

    The EU must do more to ensure that health impact assessment is part of all proposed initiatives, and that climate and health policy is integrated with other policy priorities including coordinating strategies at EU and national level. It is also vital that the steps are taken to counter misinformation about the causes and consequences of climate change which threaten to undermine the political will to act.

Europeans helping refugees, are they criminals?


This 26 June 2017 video by British Channel 4 TV says about itself:

Rescued African migrants say they are fleeing slavery

Italy [then still under an officially ‘center left’ government] has threatened to stop foreign boats carrying migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean Sea from docking in its ports unless other EU countries do more to help. It comes amid a surge in arrivals in recent days, as we reported last night from aboard a German rescue vessel. Tonight we hear from the migrants and refugees themselves. A warning: this report contains images and testimony that you may find distressing.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Hundreds across Europe harassed, charged and arrested for supporting migrants, new report shows

HUNDREDS of people, including “elderly women, priests and firefighters” are being harassed, charged or arrested for showing support and solidarity for migrants, a shocking new report has revealed.

Data compiled by the openDemocracy website details how draconian laws have been used against individuals including a French olive grower arrested for feeding and sheltering migrants on the border of Italy and a 70-year-old Danish grandmother who was convicted and fined for offering a lift to a family with small children.

At least 250 people have been charged in 14 countries over the last five years, according to the group’s study.

But most cases were found in just seven countries — Italy, Greece, France, Britain, Germany, Denmark and Spain.

The report suggested that the numbers had “risen sharply” in the last 18 months, particularly in Italy and France where far-right parties hold power at national and local levels.

Figures showed that in 2018 at least 100 people were arrested, charged or investigated, double the number for the previous year.

Most appeared to have been targeted for providing food, shelter, transport or other support to migrants without legal papers.

NGOs warned of an attempt to “criminalise” their work.

France has a specific delit de solidarite, crime of solidarity, contained in its immigration law.

But a 2018 court judgment ruled it unconstitutional to use this law against people who act for humanitarian reasons.

The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights Dunja Mijatovic said it was “troubling to see” the increase in cases.

“Instead of clamping down on those who help migrants live a more dignified life,” she said, European leaders must “recommit with human rights, the rule of law and European values. This is both a legal and a moral duty.”

Carrion crows, hooded crows, different or similar?


This 2017 video from the Czech republic is about hooded crows and carrion crows.

From the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany:

Speciation: Birds of a feather…

March 26, 2019

Carrion crows and hooded crows are almost indistinguishable genetically, and hybrid offspring are fertile. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich biologists now show that the two forms have remained distinct largely owing to the dominant role of plumage color in mate choice.

Crows have divided Europe between them. Western Europe is the realm of the soot-black carrion crow, while the eastern half of the continent is home to the hooded crow with its grayish black plumage. The boundary between the two populations — or more precisely, the hybrid zone where the two meet — is only 20-50 km wide, and in Germany it essentially follows the course of the River Elbe. This is the only stretch of territory in which both of these species are found and sucessfully mate with each other. The plumage of the fertile offspring of these pairings is intermediate in color between those of their parents. The sharp demarcation between the two populations, however, clearly indicates that gene flow across the hybrid zone is restricted, which implies that hybrids are at a selective disadvantage. “Defining speciation as the buildup of reproductive isolation, carrion crows and hooded crows are in the process of speciation”, says LMU evolutionary biologist Jochen Wolf. He and his research team have now analyzed the genetic basis for the division of European crows into two populations. Indeed, the results of the study demonstrate that the old saying “birds of a feather flock together” really does apply in this instance: The only genes that differ significantly between the two variants are those involved in determining the color of the plumage. This suggests that each form preferentially mates with partners of the same color as themselves. The new findings appear in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Europe’s crows once formed a single population. This is thought to have been broken up repeatedly during the last glacial maxima over the last tens to hundreds of thousand years ago, during which the crows retreated from Central Europe to milder refuges in Spain and the Balkans. At the end of the last Ice Age, they returned to their old haunts. But they had changed during the period of their isolation. “Most probably, a mutation had arisen in the easterly population, which endowed its carriers with a lighter colored, gray plumage”, says Wolf. Then carrion and hooded crows came into contact once again and formed a narrow hybrid zone. However, the genetic mechanisms responsible for maintaining the distinction between the two populations have remained unclear.

In order to identify these mechanisms, Wolf and his colleagues first sequenced the genomes of both carrion crows and hooded crows. “We found that the genomes of both forms are almost identical, and that the few genetic loci that differentiate gray from black crows are likely to be involved in determining the color of their plumage”, Wolf says. “We have now carried out a more detailed analysis and determined the degree of genetic mixing between the two populations. Using a technique known as admixture mapping we pinned down the genetic basis of their divergence.” To do so, his team examined the variant loci in the genomes of more than 400 birds — from within the hybrid zone and from the regions in which one or other of the two forms is endemic.

In this way, it was possible to identify the genes responsible for the difference in coloration between hooded and carrion crows. “The distinction can largely be explained by variation in just two genetic factors. In addition, we showed that these two loci interact with each other”, Wolf explains. In other words, these two factors together determine the color of the plumage. Further analyses confirmed that the rest of the genome can be freely exchanged between the two populations — and is common to carrion crows in Western Europe and the hooded crows in the eastern half of the continent. “Only two major effect genes which together encode the feather color differ sharply on either side of the hybrid zone — the gray alleles are not found to the west of the zone and the black allele is absent in the eastern region,” says Wolf. “That’s a very strong indication that there is rigorous selection on the basis of color.”

According to the authors of the study, these findings convincingly show that the hybrid zone along the Elbe represents an example of early-stage speciation followed upon secondary contact between the two emerging species. The classical biological definition of species — which is based on the concept of reproductive isolation, i.e. on the premise that the hybrid offspring of crosses between ‘true’ species are sterile — obviously does not apply in this case. Nevertheless, gene flow is locally restricted in the genome, because each form preferentially mates with individuals of the same color. This in turn means that hybrids with an intermediate color are less likely to reproduce. But the two populations are not yet fully isolated genetically from each other, since hybridization still occurs. “We are now using a mathematical model to work out the level of hybridization in the hybrid zone as it now stands,” says Wolf. “The initial indications suggest that it is very low, on the order of a few percentage points.”