Dating Tips from the Animal Kingdom


The Raptor Lab

Got a hot date?

If it’s with a human, you’ll probably have to rely on the classic wooing strategies: flowers, chocolates, dinner and dancing, smelling good, etc.

But in the animal kingdom, courtship often has a different flavor. I combed back through the archives of New Scientist’s Zoologger, a weekly column about extraordinary animals, and turned up some unusual techniques that other creatures use to seduce their chosen mate.

Bugs stab their sweethearts in the stomach.

Male bed bugs and bat bugs use sharp penises to stab their partners in the abdomen and deliver sperm directly into the blood. Bean weevils, who have huge and spiny penises, also lacerate their mates during sex.

Koalas use a sexy voice.

Koalas bellow to attractive females in an unusually deep voice. Their mating song, which sounds “more like a series of burps and snores,” is 20 times lower than scientists would expect the little…

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Weite des Lebens


VALEAT

Paris. Foto: (c) Valeat

Man kann sich in die Weiten und Möglichkeiten des Lebens gar nicht unerschöpflich genug denken. Kein Schicksal, keine Absage, keine Not ist einfach aussichtslos; irgendwo kann das härteste Gestrüpp es zu Blättern bringen, zu einer Blüte, zu einer Frucht. Und irgendwo in Gottes äußerster Vorsehung wird auch schon ein Insekt sein, das aus dieser Blüte Reichtum trägt, oder ein Hunger, dem diese Frucht willkommen ist.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926)

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A hurdle was overcome two years ago when Obama signed into law a bill making safety barriers eligible for federal funds.Golden Gate bridge board unanimously approves $76m anti-suicide net


HumanSinShadow.wordpress.com

Golden Gate bridge board unanimously approves $76m anti-suicide net

Families of those who died jumping from San Francisco bridge celebrate ‘extraordinary’ vote in favour of suicide barrier

  • theguardian.com, Saturday 28 June 2014 11.59 BSThttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/28/golden-gate-bridge-san-francisco-suicide-net

Golden Gate Bridge board approves suicide net for bridgeA hurdle was overcome two years ago when Obama signed into law a bill making safety barriers eligible for federal funds. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

San Francisco‘s iconic Golden Gate Bridge moved a big step closer to getting an oft-debated suicide barrier after bridge officials on Friday approved a $76m (£45m) funding package for a net system that would prevent people from jumping to their deaths.The bridge district’s board of directors voted unanimously in favour of the funding for a steel suicide net. The funding sources are $20m (£12m) in bridge toll revenue, $49m (£29m) in federal money and $7m (£4m) from the state.A tearful Dan Barks, who…

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Indian forest villagers rise up to halt UK firm’s bid to clear land for mining


Children collect flowers in the Mahan forest

Children collect flowers in the Mahan forest, which is threatened by a coalmining project run by the British-registered company Essar. Photograph: Greenpeace

India

Indian forest villagers rise up to halt UK firm’s bid to clear land for mining

British firm Essar Energy’s plans for open cast mine in Mahan forest plans could destroy villages and 5m trees.

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Gethin Chamberlain

The Observer, Saturday 28 June 2014 12.22 BST

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Children collect flowers in the Mahan forest
Children collect flowers in the Mahan forest, which is threatened by a coalmining project run by the British-registered company Essar. Photograph: Greenpeace

India’s new government faces a crucial test of its support for big business over plans to let a British-registered energy company cut down a tract of forest to make way for an open cast coalmine.

Essar Energy – owner of the UK’s Stanlow oil refinery – and its partner, the Hindalco company, were granted permission to mine in the Mahan forest of Madhya Pradesh after a lobbying campaign which reached right to the top of the previous government.

In letters to senior figures, including the prime minister and finance minister, they argued that the coal was needed to fuel a power station and aluminium smelting unit that were crucial for the country’s economic development.

But the plans have placed them on a collision course with the thousands of people who rely on the forest for their livelihoods and with environmental campaigners, including Greenpeace, who are determined to stop the mine.

Among those directly affected are more than 5,000 members of tribal communities with legal rights to use the forest. Greenpeace claims that the mine would mean the felling of more than five million trees, affecting the livelihoods of as many as 50,000 people, with at least two villages being razed. It has also raised concerns about the effect on wildlife, which includes leopards and sloth bears. Tigers and elephants are reported to be occasional visitors.

The deal is also one of several allocations of mining rights which are the subject of a criminal investigation into corruption. An official audit found many had been significantly undervalued and the political row over what became known in India as the “coal scam” further dented trust in the Congress-led government and helped consign it to defeat in this year’s general election.

A similar standoff between the UK’s Vedanta and villagers in Orissa over plans to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills ended in defeat for the company.

But the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) came to power promising to make it easier to do business in India and the billionaire owners of the two firms will expect it to make good on that pledge.

The decision to allow mining to go ahead in Mahan was granted despite staunch opposition from former environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

A final decision is expected shortly but a report to new prime minister Narendra Modi this month from India’s powerful Intelligence Bureau, labelling Greenpeace as “a threat to national economic security”, suggests the environmentalists face a struggle.

The coal block was allocated by a Congress-led government in 2006 to provide coal for Essar’s planned power station and to fuel an aluminium smelter owned by Hindalco. But environmental clearances proved hard to secure and by 2010 the companies were frustrated.

Essar chairman Shashi Ruia decided to lobby prime minister Manmohan Singh personally. On 5 March 2010 he wrote to Singh to “earnestly request” clearance, pointing out that 65% of the work on the power station had been completed and complaining that three years after being allotted the coal block, the company was still waiting on permission from the environment ministry.

The delay, Ruia argued, would result in “avoidable huge loss to us as well as the country”. Singh copied the letter to the environment and forest minister, Ramesh, with a note asking him to deal with it “expeditiously”.

Six days later, Ramesh met Ruia. In a note of the meeting sent to the prime minister’s permanent secretary, he pointed out that “the Mahan coal block should never have been allowed in the first place” and that giving permission for mining would “open up a Pandora’s box which we should avoid at all costs”.

Undeterred, Ruia tried again. On 16 August 2010 he wrote to Singh to update him on progress with construction of the power station and to ask again for clearance. “I would be very much grateful if necessary instructions are given to the Hon Minister of Environment and Forests to expedite necessary forest clearances at the earliest.”

Ramesh refused to bend. In a letter dated 8 July 2011, he wrote that he was unable to agree to clearance for the project and was particularly concerned that the coal block lay in the catchment area of the Rihand reservoir. Instead, he suggested that the power plants be supplied by the Sohagpur coalfield.

In the letter, Ramesh said that he had taken into consideration that the companies had already invested about £360m in the power plants and that the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh had appealed to him twice to permit it on the grounds that it would boost economic activity in the state. But he complained that the investment had taken place without clearance and that “fait accompli has become far too common in forest and environmental clearances”.

Shortly afterwards, he was switched to the ministry of rural development. A year later, his decision was reversed and in-principle approval was granted. In February this year, the project was given the green light. Even then, the decision came with conditions, among them the need for a resolution from the representatives of those living in the area – the gram sabha – supporting the project.

But the resolution, passed on 6 March 2013, is hotly contested. It contains the signatures of 1,125 people, although local campaigners say there were only 184 people present at the meeting. Greenpeace claims nine of the “signatories” are dead and has produced death certificates for two of those named. Several people have come forward to insist their signatures were forged. Among them is Kripanath Yadav, 36, of Amelia village. .

“Mahan forest is my provider, protector and God,” he said. “I was born in the forest and I am aware that our constitution bestows on us rights on our forest.

“My signature along with several others including some people who are dead were forged during a gram sabha which was held to take people’s consent on Essar’s coalmine. “We don’t want the mine, the jobs or the compensation that Essar tries to lure us with.” Officials have promised a fresh vote in the next month.

Last month the former coal secretary PC Parakh was questioned for two days by detectives about a number of allocations, including the Mahan block, but no charges have yet been filed.

Priya Pillai, senior campaigner with Greenpeace India, accused the company of wanting to press ahead at any cost. “There’s a lot at stake for the company, therefore it seems they want to build their mine even if it means the law of the land is bypassed,” said Pillai.

It is not just environmental issues that have dogged Essar of late. The company’s decision to delist from the London Stock Exchange and take itself private upset institutional shareholders, which included Standard Life, Scottish Widows and at least two UK local authorities. Many investors were angered by a deal that they argued undervalued the company and left them millions of pounds out of pocket. The company share price stood at 420p when it initially floated in 2010 but the minority shareholders were offered just 70p when it delisted in May.

But Ramakant Tiwari, CEO of Mahan Coal, said the companies had been waiting since 2006 for permission, had invested heavily in the project and had stuck to the letter of the law.

“In such a scenario, it was but natural for both companies to represent their case before the government.”

Why Mosquitoes Bite Some People and Not Other And the Surprising, Natural Way to Avoid Bites


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Nicaragua’s Mayagna People and Their Rainforest Could Vanish


NicaraguaIC Magazine

Nicaragua’s Mayagna People and Their Rainforest Could Vanish

Nicaragua’s Mayagna People and Their Rainforest Could Vanish

MANAGUA – More than 30,000 members of the Mayagna indigenous community are in danger of disappearing, along with the rainforest which is their home in Nicaragua, if the state fails to take immediate action to curb the destruction of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, the largest forest reserve in Central America and the third-largest in the world.

Arisio Genaro, president of the Mayagna nation, travelled over 300 km from his community on the outskirts of the reserve in May to protest in Managua that the area where his people have lived for centuries is being invaded and destroyed by settlers from the country’s Pacific coastal and central regions.

In early June, Genaro returned to the capital to participate in several academic activities aimed at raising awareness on the environment among university students in Managua and to protest to whoever would listen that their ancestral territory is being destroyed by farmers determined to expand the agricultural frontier by invading the protected area, which covers 21,000 sq km.

The Mayagna chief told Tierramérica that in 1987 the nucleus of what is now the biosphere reserve had a total area of 1,170,210 hectares of virgin forest and an estimated population of fewer than 7,000 indigenous people.

In 1997, when it was declared a Word Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the reserve covered more than two million hectares of tropical rainforest, including the buffer zone.

By 2010, when the indigenous people living in the reserve numbered around 25,000, the jungle area had been reduced to 832,237 hectares, according to figures cited by Genaro. The presence of non-indigenous settlers within the borders of the reserve had climbed from an estimated 5,000 in 1990 to over 40,000 in 2013.

“They are burning everything, to plant crops. They cut down forests to raise cattle, they log the big trees to sell the wood, they shoot the animals and dry up riverbeds to put in roads,” Genaro told Tierramérica.

Antonia Gámez, a 66-year-old Mayagna chief, also made the trek from her community to speak out in towns and cities along the Pacific coast about the situation faced by her people in Bosawas, whose name comes from the first syllables of the main geographical features that delimit the reserve: the Bocay river, the Salaya mountain, and the Waspuk river.

“All of our families used to live on what nature provides; the forest is our home and our father, it has given us food, water and shelter,” she told Tierramérica in her native tongue, with the help of an interpreter. “Now the youngest ones are looking for work on the new farms created where there was once forest, and the oldest of us don’t have anywhere to go, because everything is disappearing.”

Gámez said that in the forest, her people planted grains and grew and harvested fruit, and hunted what they needed for food with bows and arrows. She added that there were abundant crabs and fish in the rivers and wild boars, tapirs and deer in the forests.

“Now the animals have gone. With each bang from a gun or mountain that is cleared, they either die or move deeper into the jungle. There aren’t many left to hunt,” she complained on her visit to Managua.

Part of the reserve is also inhabited by Miskitos, the largest indigenous group in this Central American country, where by law native people have the right to collectively own and use the lands where they live.

The complaints by the indigenous people were corroborated by Tierramérica in conversations with independent academics and activists as well as government officials.

Anthropologist Esther Melba McLean with the Atlantic Coast Centre for Research and Development at the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University has led studies that warn that if the invasion by outsiders and destruction of the forest are not brought to a halt, both the Mayagna people and the native flora and fauna of Bosawas could disappear in two decades.

“The destruction of the forest would mean more than the end of an ethnic group; it would mean the end of the site where 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity is found,” she told Tierramérica.

The reserve is home to endemic species like the Nototriton saslaya salamander and the crested eagle, which are listed as endangered by local environmental organisations that point out that there are still many species that have not even been documented.

According to environmentalist Jaime Incer, an adviser on environmental affairs to the office of the president, if the destruction of the indigenous territory continues, “in less than 25 years the jungle will have completely disappeared.”

A study published in 2012 by the German development cooperation agency, GIZ, Nicaragua’s National Union of Agricultural and Livestock Producers (UNAG), the European Union and the international development organisation Oxfam warned that it would take 24 years to lose the forest in Bosawas and 13 years to lose the buffer zone around the reserve, at the current rate of deforestation.

Incer told Tierramérica that in response to the indigenous community’s complaints and the backing they have received from environmentalists, the administration of President Daniel Ortega, who has governed since 2007, has begun to take measures against the destruction of the forest. “But they have been insufficient,” he acknowledged.

Ortega ordered the creation of a military battalion of more than 700 troops to guard the country’s forests and nature reserves. The government also organised a committee of national authorities aimed at coordinating actions and applying a zero tolerance approach towards people and organisations accused of destroying the environment.

Alberto Mercado, the technical coordinator of Bosawas in the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, said at the Central American University in Managua on Jun. 10 that the government has been carrying out actions to curb the destruction of the reserve.

He said the authorities had removed dozens of non-indigenous families from the nucleus of the reserve, and that they had brought people to trial who were dedicated to illegally selling land in Bosawas.

Mercado said dozens of lawyers have been investigated and suspended for allowing sales transactions involving indigenous property. In addition, he said, the authorities have been combating trafficking in local fauna and flora.

“But the struggle is huge…traffickers identify the ‘blind spots’ and that’s where they make their incursions into indigenous territory, fence it in, claim it is theirs, and that’s how the trafficking of land starts,” the official said, sounding discouraged.

The complaints of the indigenous community have gone beyond national borders, and have reached international human rights organisations. The non-governmental Nicaraguan Human Rights Centre also filed a complaint with the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Vilma Núñez, director of the Human Rights Centre, told Tierramérica that she had denounced the situation faced by the Mayagna people during the 44th OAS General Assembly, whose main theme was “development with social inclusion”, held Jun. 3-5 in Asunción, Paraguay.

“The state and the government should guarantee the right of the Mayagna and all indigenous people in this country to live on their own land, and defend them from extermination,” Núñez said.

Article first published at IPS News. Republished with permission

Not Eating Meat Can Cut Your Food-Related Carbon Emissions Almost In Half, Study Finds


HumanSinShadow.wordpress.com

Not Eating Meat Can Cut Your Food-Related Carbon Emissions Almost In Half, Study Finds

Jun 27, 2014 by Casey Coates Danson

By Katie Valentine TRUTHOUT
Gardening-How EarlyAP742732234097-638x421

CREDIT: AP Photo/Dean Fosdick

If you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint, you may want to think twice next time you reach for a burger. According to a new study, people with a high-meat diet contribute more than twice the diet-related greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere as a vegan, and a little less than twice the emissions of a vegetarian.

The study, published in the journal Climatic Change, looked at the diets of 55,504 people in the U.K., who took a survey asking them how many times per year they ate 130 different foods. The researchers then placed the people into groups of high, medium, and low meat-eaters, along with fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans, based on their responses to the survey. They…

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Gary Greenberg: The beautiful nano details of our WORLD


When photographed under a 3D microscope, grains of sand appear like colorful pieces of candy and the stamens in a flower become like fantastical spires at an amusement park. Gary Greenberg reveals the thrilling details of the microworld. (Filmed at TEDxMaui.)

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Hat dieser Mann Oprescu in der Hand?


Map Of Hope

Souveränität des Bürgermeisters eingeschränkt?

Hat dieser Mann Bürgermeister Oprescu in der Hand?

(rechts: Razvan Bancescu, Chef der ASPA, unten Sorin Oprescu, Bürgermeister von Bukarest)

bancescu_RzVNachdem bekannt wurde, daß in ASPA Shelters (Bragadiru) auch einen Tag nach der eindeutigen Information seitens des Bürgermeisters von Bukarest, Soprin Oprescu, daß die Tötungen eingestellt seien, noch weiterhin Hunde abgeschlachtet werden, stellt sich die Frage, wie es dazu kommt.

Formell ist die ASPA unter Razvan Bancescu weisungsgebunden gegenüber seinem Auftraggeber Sorin Oprescu. Das bedeutet, daß jede Anweisung, auch die Anweisung NICHT zu fangen und NICHT zu töten, zeitnah ausgeführt werden muss.

Es kann ausgeschlossen werden, daß Razvan Bancescu und die ASPA schlicht nicht über die Entscheidung des Bürgermeisters informiert sind, missachtet Herr Bancescu entweder wissentlich die eindeutigen Anweisungen seines Vorgesetzten, hat keine solche Anweisung erhalten, oder hat sie nicht an das Personal im Shelter Bragadiru weitergegeben.

Sorin Oprescu, dosar penal. Edilul Capitalei a încălcat legea funcţionarului publicSollte er entgegen der Anweisungen des Bürgermeisters handeln, ist…

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