New elf frog species discovered in Vietnam

Adult male of Ophryophryne elfina sp. n. in calling position in Hon Ba N.R., Khanh Hoa Prov., Vietnam. Photo by L.T. Nguyen

From ScienceDaily:

Herpetologists describe an elf frog from the elfin forests in southern Vietnam

May 19, 2017

Summary: Going under the common name of Elfin mountain toad, a new amphibian is recognized as one of the smallest representative of its group. The new species was identified from the highland wet forests of Langbian Plateau, Southern Vietnam. The discoverers gave it this name that derives from German and Celtic folklore because of the resemblance they found between the tiny delicate amphibians and elves – small magic creatures. Furthermore, their habitat is known as elfin forests.

Deep in the foggy, moss-covered forests of Southern Vietnam, herpetologists uncovered one of the smallest species of horned mountain toads.

The name of the new amphibian (Ophryophryne elfina) derives from European mythology and translates to “elfish eyebrow toad.” Despite being recently discovered, the new species is already considered to be endangered. Having remained hidden in the highlands of Langbian Plateau, it is now described in the open access journal ZooKeys.

The unique species name “elfina” derives from the English word “elf.” In German and Celtic folklore, elves are described as small, supernatural creatures usually dwelling deep in the forests of magical hills. The frogs were named after them primarily because of their small size of around 3 cm, which makes them the smallest known species of the genus — as well as their fascinating appearance — they have small horn-like projections above their eyes.

The unique habitat of the amphibians also inspired their species name. The Elfin mountain toad lives in the highland wet subtropical evergreen forest. There it can only be found on mountain summits higher than 1800 m, or on the slopes of the eastern side of Langbian Plateau, where the rainfall is high because of the sea nearby. Both the rocks and the dwarf curbed trees are covered with a heavy layer of moss, whilst a thick misty fog is constantly lingering amongst the trees. This is why such wet mountain ecosystems are known as elfin forests.

The Elfin mountain toad is one of the three known species in the genus Ophryophryne that inhabit Langbian Plateau. Curiously, all three of them share the same habitat, but can be easily distinguished by their advertisement calls resembling whistling birds.


United States rainbow flag creator, RIP

This 2010 video from the USA is called History of the Rainbow Flag with Creator Gilbert Baker.

By Nicole Chavez, CNN in the USA:

Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker dies at 65

April 1, 2017

Gilbert Baker, the designer of the iconic rainbow flag, has died.

In 1978, Baker sewed a multicolored flag that became the symbol of the LGBT community across the world.

Baker, 65, died Thursday in his sleep, said Cleve Jones, an AIDS activist and Baker’s longtime friend. He died in New York City, the medical examiner’s office there said.

A vigil in Baker’s memory was planned Friday evening under the rainbow flag in San Francisco’s United Nations Plaza. The banner could be seen flying half-staff from the balcony of Mayor Ed Lee.

“Gilbert was a trailblazer for LGBT rights, a powerful artist and a true friend to all who knew him. Our thoughts are with his friends and family. He will be missed,” Lee said in a statement.

Baker was born in Chanute, Kansas, and joined the US Army as a medic. He arrived in San Francisco about 1970 to work at an orthopedic hospital where Vietnam veterans underwent skin grafts and amputations.

The CNN article omits that Baker also designed flags for demonstrations against the Vietnam war. It is said that Gilbert Baker’s inspiration for the rainbow flag came from an earlier peace flag.

The Batman of Vietnam

This video, recorded in Vietnam, says about itself:

24 July 2016

In episode 21 of the Monday Morning Travel Vlog, “Boats and Bats”, we visit Ba Be National Park (aka Ba Be Lake) and take a trip on the lake.

Kayaking, a bat cave, and of course some more shuttle buses.

From BirdLife:

The Batman of Vietnam

30 Mar 2017

We interview Vu Dinh Thong, a man who fell in love with bat conservation only five years ago and is now one of Vietnam‘s leading bat experts.

In 2001, the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) funded a project led by Vu Dinh Thong to study the diversity and status of bats in Vietnam’s Bach Ma National Park. An award provided the spark that ignited his latent interest in conservation. Five years later, Thong received further support for his bat conservation work, this time in Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve. Today, he is an acknowledged expert on Vietnam’s bats and their conservation.

How did you first become interested in conservation?

I first started paying attention to wildlife in 1995 during a field excursion at the end of my second semester at Hanoi National University of Education. But, to be honest, until I received an award from the BP Conservation Programme (the former name of CLP) in 2001, I was focused on academic research and had very little interest in wildlife conservation. With support from CLP to attend the training workshop for project leaders in London, I got the chance to come to England.

I took the opportunity to visit the Harrison Institute in Sevenoaks to learn about bat taxonomy and systematics. As a result of what I learnt I became the first bat specialist in Vietnam, and came to understand more about the diversity of bats and their status in my country. Since then, I have carried on conducting research on bats and their conservation. To my mind, CLP was responsible for initiating my career and helped me to direct the trends in bat research and conservation in Vietnam.

Did you have a role model or someone who inspired you?

When I was a student at university, my supervisor Professor Tran Hong Viet announced that Vietnam lacked bat specialists, and encouraged me and my classmates to focus on bat research. My first boss, Professor Cao Van Sung [a specialist in small mammals] recognised my capabilities and passion in research. He was the one who passed me the announcement from the BP Conservation Programme inviting people to apply for a grant. This was just a few weeks before the deadline for submission of the pre-application form. Until that moment, I had never heard of CLP.

Why are you particularly interested in bats?

I’m fascinated by bat diversity and, in particular, by echolocation. Bats have diverse systematics and external features. Their echolocation capabilities are absolutely brilliant. To my knowledge, humans still know very little about this subject. Like other Vietnamese wildlife, some bats are extremely threatened by human activities, which include cave visiting by tourists, poaching and habitat loss.

Bats are very sensitive to disturbance and many may become extinct unless conservation actions are implemented in time. I came to appreciate that bats are vitally important in ecosystems and need consideration from humans.

What aspect of CLP support did you find most helpful?

It was CLP who actually launched my whole career by providing support for my projects in bat research and conservation. Both my CLP-funded projects attracted a lot of attention from PhD candidates, scientists and the public, so they gave me a great opportunity to raise my profile. I have stayed in contact with CLP ever since that first project in 2001, and I receive updates through emails, Facebook, Roots Up and meetings with other alumni.

The whole CLP team over the past 16 years has always been kind, thoughtful, friendly and willing to help, and encouraged me in both research and conservation. I am very grateful.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work?

My work has led me to interesting findings, new to Vietnam and to science. I have also had the chance to help my colleagues in wildlife research and conservation, particularly in training and supervising followers and colleagues. I have also successfully supervised four MSc students in bat research and three PhD candidates, who will have finished their studies on bats by the end of 2017.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I have made new discoveries including a species of bat – Hipposideros khaokhouayensis – not previously known from Vietnam, and a species and subspecies – Hipposideros griffini and Hipposideros alongensis sungi respectively – that are both new to science. I created the first echolocation database in Vietnam and through my work I have raised awareness within the Vietnamese scientific community about bat research and conservation.

Prior to 2000, there were no Vietnamese bat specialists in the country. All material published in international journals used to be written by foreigners. That is no longer the case. One of the visible impacts from my CLP projects is that Vietnam now has at least three PhD students specialising in bat research.

What are Vietnam’s biggest conservation challenges?

Illegal hunting of wildlife and habitat loss or disturbance are both big problems, not only for bats, but also for other threatened wildlife.

What are the keys to success for conservationists in your country?

It needs a combination of communication skills and scientific research. Some conservationists are good at communication but have no personal background in research to convince the authorities or society about the need for conservation. On the other hand, some researchers are very good at research but not good at training or communication. Both communication skills and research capacity are equally important.

What are your plans for the next stage of your career?

I plan to carry on implementing research, conservation and training to help save the threatened species and their habitats; to understand more about bat diversity and echolocation behaviour; to increase conservation awareness within the scientific and public domain; and to build and strengthen a national network for bat research and general mammal research and conservation.

What advice do you have for the next generation of conservationists in Vietnam?

You should have a real passion for wildlife research and conservation. Everyone needs to be aware that there will be some difficulties at the beginning, but that is no reason to give up. Success never comes easily. It takes a lot of effort.

US peace activist Tom Hayden, RIP

This video from the USA says about itself:

25 May 2016

In this excerpt from Overheard with Evan Smith, political and anti-war activist Tom Hayden reflects back on the Vietnam War 50 years since the Port Huron Statement. Hayden was in Austin to speak at the LBJ Library’s Vietnam War Summit in April 2016.

From Reuters news agency in the USA:

Prominent Anti-War Activist And Member of ‘Chicago 7’ Tom Hayden Dead At 76

He was one of several protesters arrested and charged with incitement and conspiracy during the Democratic national convention in Chicago in 1968.

10/24/2016 02:35 am ET | Updated 4 hours ago

Veteran social activist and politician Tom Hayden, a stalwart of America’s New Left who served 18 years in California’s state legislature and gained a dash of Hollywood glamour by marrying actress Jane Fonda, has died aged 76, according to media reports.

Hayden died in Santa Monica, California, after a lengthy illness, The Los Angeles Times reported on its web site. …

Hayden, who forged his political activism as a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society, which stood at the core of the 1960s anti-war and civil rights movements, was principal author of the group’s revolutionary manifesto, the Port Huron Statement.

The University of Michigan student ventured into the Deep South, where he joined voter registration campaigns and was arrested and beaten while taking part in the “freedom rider” protests against racial segregation.

Hayden, however, became perhaps best known as one of the “Chicago Eight” activists tried on conspiracy and incitement charges following protests at the turbulent 1968 Democratic National Convention. He was ultimately acquitted of all charges.

A New York Times book review of his 1988 memoir, “Reunion,” one of more than 20 books published under his name, called Hayden “the single greatest figure of the 1960s student movement.”

Outliving contemporaries Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton, Hayden remained active in left-wing politics well into the 21st century, posting on Twitter just a week ago.

Winning election himself to the California state Assembly in 1982, and then the state Senate a decade later, Hayden went on to serve a total of 18 years.

Later he became director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center, a nonprofit left-wing think tank devoted mainly to analysis of continued U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, drug policy and global poverty.

Hayden was married to actress Jane Fonda from 1973 to 1990, with whom he had two children. Midway through their marriage, the couple graced the cover of People Magazine.

In later years his writings were published in national publications including The New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Denver Post. He served on the editorial board and was a columnist for The Nation magazine, and was the author of more than 20 books.

Tributes poured in on social media.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Hayden visited Vietnam twice; the first time in 1965 without government permission. Later it turned out that the FBI had begun to spy on him in that year. In 1967 he returned to Hanoi. He came back with three prisoners of war, for which the government thanked him.

Contrary to some people who are pro-peace while young and become establishment warmongers later, Hayden kept opposing post-Vietnam ‘humanitarian’ wars (see his article on hawkish US foreign policy bigwig Samantha Power). Like he opposed the 1999 Yugoslavia war, though an administration of Hayden’s own Democratic Party waged that war. And like he opposed the US plans to join the war in Syria. And the Iraq, Afghanistan etc. wars.

Facebook censors Norwegian Prime Minster on Vietnam war

Kim Phuc with baby in 2005

This photo shows Ms Kim Phuc, who became well-known from a photograph, taken when, as a nine-year-old girl in Vietnam in 1972, napalm bombs injured her. As this 2005 photo of Kim Phuc shows, the napalm scars are still visible and still hurt.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Vietnam photo also deleted from Facebook page of Norwegian Prime Minister

Today, 15:14

The historical photo of the “napalm girl” from Vietnam has not only been removed from the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten‘s Facebook page, but also from the page of the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

She placed the picture, like many other Norwegians, on her page in protest of Facebook’s removal policy. The company believes that there is too much nudity in the photo.

Solberg has posted a new message in which she expresses the hope that Facebook will change its policy. She writes: “I want our children to grow up in a society where they can learn history as it really was.”

Ms Solberg is a member of the Norwegian conservative party.

But, apparently, not conservative enough for Facebook. Apparently, to Facebook one is only a ‘real’ conservative if, to quote George Orwell’s 1984, one believes that ‘War is peace‘. And if one censors the crimes of the Vietnam war and other wars out of ‘history as it really was’.

UPDATE: after many protests, Facebook gave in and restored the photo.

Facebook whitewashes Vietnam war atrocities

Vietnamese children injured after napalm attack, AP photo

This 8 June 1972 photo shows children wounded by napalm bombs fleeing during the Vietnam war. Among them then 9-year-old Kim Phuc. Ms Kim Phuc, an adult woman now, still hurts from the napalm injuries which United States warplanes flown by the Saigon puppet regime then inflicted on her.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Norwegian newspaper after removal of Vietnam photo: Facebook abused power

Today, 10:38

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has criticized Facebook sharply. In an open letter to their CEO Mark Zuckerberg, chief editor Espen Egil Hansen says that the platform has abused its power. Following the removal of a famous photo from the Vietnam war. Aftenposten is one of the largest newspapers in Norway.

The photo was used by the Norwegian writer Tom Egeland, in a story about iconic war photos. The newspaper reported this story on Facebook. On Wednesday, Facebook told Aftenposten that it would delete the photo.

Then that deletion happened within 24 hours and before the chief editor could respond, he writes. The image was removed according to Hansen because it showed a naked girl, Kim Phuc. When Egeland responded on Facebook to the deletion the platform decided to make it impossible for the writer to post any messages, says Hansen.

“This is serious”

“Listen, Mark,” Hansen writes. “This is serious. First you decide to make no distinction between child pornography and famous war photos and apply your rules without thinking properly. Then you censor criticism and debate about the decision and also punish critics.”

Hansen calls Zuckerberg the most powerful editor of the world. “I am convinced that you abused your power”, says Hansen. “I also think you have thought insufficiently.” Hansen also points to the role of the media in the Vietnam War: they made sure Americans did not get to see the true face of the conflict.

The Norwegian editor asks Zuckerberg what he will do if again terrible images turn up.


Hansen is not the first person criticizing Facebook’s policies. The platform often removes photographs and critics say that is against freedom of expression. Known in the Netherlands is an example of cartoonist Ruben L. Oppenheimer. A drawing by him was removed and then put back.

The guidelines of Facebook say that pictures of naked people will be removed.

Including on famous ancient paintings. Somewhat like Rupert Murdoch and Silvio Berlusconi.

The company always says they do that based on reports from users. The decision to remove a photograph is then taken by an employee of the company. In the case of the Vietnam picture this is startling, because this is a very famous photograph which has been published worldwide on countless occasions.

One of many reasons why I am not on Facebook, including this one and this one and this one, etc.

Meanwhile, eg, the Dutch neonazis of the Nederlandse Volksunie are welcome to spew their racist hatred on Facebook.