Boycott the film ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ which caused distress to a German shepherd during filming!!

Support the Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) call “to boycott the film A Dog’s Purpose in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props.”  leaked footage, of the film shows the German shepherd dog being forced into churning waters, has prompted the animal welfare group to urge audiences to avoid the film.

the disturbing video appears to show a stunt dog being pushed into a pool of water meant to recreate a raging river and has been condemned by Peta – and one of the stars of the film.

The dog, named Hercules, was apparently on hire to the movie from animal wranglers Birds and Animals Unlimited (BAU), which Peta accused last week of violating a variety of Animal Welfare Act regulations. BAU responded in a statement in which it calls Peta’s claims “fiction”.

The dog, named Hercules, was apparently on hire to the movie from animal wranglers Birds and Animals Unlimited (BAU), which Peta accused last week of violating a variety of Animal Welfare Act regulations. BAU responded in a statement in which it calls Peta’s claims “fiction”.

 

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President Trump’s nominee for the position of undersecretary for research, education and economics (REE)

Author: Karen Perry Stillerman

President Trump has nominated  (Sam Clovis) for the position of undersecretary for research, education and economics (REE).  This job has responsibility for scientific integrity at the USDA, as well as oversight of the department’s various research arms and multi-billion dollar annual investments in agricultural research and education. The job also encompasses the role of USDA chief scientist, leading Congress in 2008 to emphasize that the person who fills it should actually be a scientist. But Sam Clovis is not  a scientist,  however do does deny that climate change is real! real the full story at https://www.ecowatch.com/sam-clovis-usda-2475767939.html

 

New research indicates that Alfred the Great probably wasn’t that great

Author

  1. Senior Research Associate in Archaeology, UCL

The Last Kingdom – BBC’s historical drama set in the time of Alfred the Great’s war with the Vikings – has returned to our screens for a second series. While most attention will continue to focus on the fictional hero Uhtred, his story is played out against a political background where the main protagonist is the brooding and bookish mastermind Alfred the Great, vividly portrayed in the series by David Dawson.

But was Alfred the Great really that great? If we judge him on the basis of new findings in landscape archaeology that are radically changing our understanding of warfare in the Viking Age, it would seem not. It looks like Alfred was a good propagandist rather than a visionary military leader.

Alfred the Great statue, Winchester. Tony Baggett / Shutterstock.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The broad outline of King Alfred’s wars with the Vikings is well known. Oft defeated by the great army of the Vikings, he took refuge in a remote part of Somerset before rallying the English army in 878 and defeating the Vikings at Edington. It was not this one victory that made Alfred great, according to his biographer Asser, but the military reforms Alfred implemented after Edington. In creating a system of strongholds, a longer-serving army and new naval forces, Asser argues that Alfred put in place systems which meant that the Vikings would never win again. In doing so, he secured his legacy.

It is a well-known story, but how accurate is it? Research by a team at UCL and another at the University of Nottingham into the archaeology and place-name evidence for late Anglo-Saxon civil defence presents a slightly different picture.

Alfred’s strongholds

Many towns claim to have been founded by Alfred as part of his plan for defending England. This idea rests largely on a text known as the Burghal Hidage, which which lists the names of 33 strongholds (in Old English burhs) across southern England and the taxes assigned to their garrisons, recorded as numbers of hides (a unit of land). According to the list, under Alfred a military machine was created whereby no fewer than 27,000 men, some 6% of the total population, were assigned to the defence and maintenance of what has been described as “fortress Wessex”.

Strongholds listed in the Burghal Hidage. Author provided

Over the past 40 years, much archaeological evidence has been gathered about the Burghal Hidage strongholds, many of which were former Roman towns or Iron Age hill forts that were reused or refurbished as Anglo-Saxon military sites. Others were new burhs raised with an innovative design that imitated the regular Roman plan.

It has been argued that the latter represent an “Alfredian” vision of urban planning. But the evidence doesn’t entirely bear this out. For example, in Winchester radiocarbon and archaeomagnetic dating suggests the new urban plan was probably built around 840–80, almost certainly, therefore, before Alfred’s victory of 878 and probably before he even became king. Excavations in Worcester, by contrast, show that the distinctive “Alfredian” street plan there only came into use in the late tenth or early 11th century, around 100 years after Alfred’s death.

Archaeological evidence shows that many Bughal Hidage strongholds started as defensive sites which only later developed into towns. Sometimes this occurred at the same location, but in the case of strongholds at Iron Age hill forts, such as Burpham (Sussex), Chisbury (Wiltshire), and Pilton (Devon), more suitable locations for defended towns were sought nearby. While the general development of early emergency measures – where defence policy was determined by inaccessibility and expediency – are testimony to Alfred’s civil defence strategy, the more long-term development of purpose-built towns, around which England’s economy and administration became organised, only took place during the reigns of Alfred’s successors.

Late Anglo-Saxon Winchester showing the characteristic arrangement of streets and town defences often accredited to Alfred the Great. Author provided

Landscapes of defence

The major strongholds listed in the Burghal Hidage have received much attention, but landscape research is also now helping to provide a fuller picture, allowing us to identify important early route-ways and river crossing-points.

Place-names containing such compounds as Old English here-pæð or fyrd-weg, both meaning “army road”, are especially important. But place-names also suggest the existence of elaborate systems of beacons and lookouts, often spaced at regular intervals, visible to each other and to known strongholds, and providing control over important route-ways. Written sources and archaeological excavation confirm that beacons were in use in the early 11th century. Landscape analysis is also helping to identify the important mustering sites, crucial to mobilisation, without which the military system would not have worked.

Aerial view of the Burghal Hidage site of Wallingford with the Thames in partial flood. Outline of the Saxon ramparts and ‘Alfredian’ streetplan is clear.Image courtesy of the Environmental AgencyAuthor provided

Putting all this evidence together makes it likely that Alfred the Great’s military innovations were part of a continuing development, that started in the eight century in Mercia and continued long after his death. Alfred built on existing structures, at first using what was already in place, such as hilltop defences and mustering sites of the eighth and early ninth centuries, but many of the most innovative developments in defensive organisation clearly occurred in the reign of his son, Edward the Elder (899–924). Indeed, the little closely datable evidence that can be gleaned from the major burhs, all points to a long chronology of stronghold construction.

Alfred’s defensive genius lay not in the creation of burhs, then, but in the way he adapted earlier strategies to suit the drastically altered military demands of the Viking age. His first steps towards a reliable and more constant system of military service ensured the continuous availability of troops. But the glories afforded him in popular imagination as the architect of “fortress Wessex” no longer, it seems, stand.

Æthelflæd: the Anglo-Saxon iron lady

Aethelflaed.

Although she has faded from English history, and is often seen as a bit-part player in the story of the making of England, Æthelflæd was in fact a hugely important figure before her death in 918, aged around 50. Indeed, the uncontested succession of her daughter, Ælfwynn, as Mercia’s leader was a move of successful female powerplay not matched until the coronation of Elizabeth I after the death of her half-sister Mary in 1558. So, while Bernard Cornwell’s novels and the BBC series The Last Kingdom are cavalier with the historical facts, perhaps they are right to give Æthelflæd a major role.

Æthelflæd was born in the early 870s. Her father, Alfred “the Great” had become King of the West Saxons in 871, while her mother, Eahlswith, may have been from Mercian royal kindred. At the time, Anglo-Saxon “England” was made up of a series of smaller kingdoms, including Wessex in the south, Mercia in the Midlands and Northumbria in the far north. All faced encroachment by Viking forces that were growing in strength and ambition, as outlined in Charles Insley’s article The Strange End of the Mercian Kingdom and Mercia and the Making of England by Ian Walker.

Æthelflæd spent most of her life in the Kingdom of Mercia married to its de facto ruler, Æthelred. Mercia had seen some dark days by the time of her marriage. In the eighth and early ninth centuries, the Mercian kings had had good cause to consider themselves the most powerful rulers in southern Britain. But by the 870s, the kingdom had suffered dramatically from the Viking assaults which had swept across England.

One king, Burgred, had fled to Rome, and his successor, Ceolwulf II, was seen as a mere puppet by the West-Saxon compiler of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and disappeared between 878 and 883. Soon, the East Midlands were ruled by Scandinavians – what became known as the “Danelaw” – and so the kingdom ruled by Æthelflæd and Æthelred was by then just the western rump of the old Mercia.

Nevertheless, Æthelflæd and Æthelred together engaged in massive rebuilding projects at Gloucester, Worcester, Stafford and Chester, overseeing the refounding of churches, new relic collections and saints’ cults. Famously, in 909, the relics of the seventh-century saint, Oswald were moved from Bardney, deep in Scandinavian-controlled Lincolnshire, to a new church at Gloucester. Perhaps appropriately, for a couple facing the Vikings, Æthelflæd and her husband had a great attachment to the saint, a warrior king and Christian martyr. Æthelred was buried alongside Oswald in 911, and Æthelflæd joined him seven years later.

Powerplay and politics

At the time, Athelred and Æthelflæd did not call themselves king or queen, nor do the official documents or coins refer to them as such. Instead, they used the title “Lord/Lady of the Mercians”, because Alfred had extended his authority over Mercia and styled himself “King of the Anglo-Saxons”.

But they acted like rulers. Æthelflæd, with her husband and her brother Edward the Elder, King of the Anglo-Saxons, launched a series of military campaigns in the early tenth century. These brought all of England south of the Humber and Mersey river under Anglo-Saxon control and rolled up the Scandinavian lordships which had been established in the East Midlands and East Anglia.

These advances were backed up by an energetic programme of fortification, with burhs (fortified towns) built in places such as Bridgnorth, Runcorn, Chester and Manchester.

But while she called herself a “lady”, outsiders, especially the Welsh and Irish, saw Æthelflæd as a “queen” and she surely wasn’t just her husband’s subservient wife. As Alfred the Great’s daughter, the role Mercia and the Mercians would play in the kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons was at stake.

A potent widow

But Æthelflæd really came into her own following her husband’s death in 911, although it seems that he had been in poor health for the best part of the previous decade. The Mercian Register in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, certainly celebrates her deeds from 910 onwards.

In 915, she successfully campaigned against the Welsh and the major Welsh kings, and in England she began further to expand her kingdom. In 917-8, her army took control of Viking-occupied Derby and Leicester, and just before her death, the “people of York” – that is, the Scandinavian lords of southern Northumbria – also agreed to submit to her.

For a brief moment, she had authority not just over her own territory in Mercia, but over the Welsh, the Scandinavian East Midlands and possibly part of Northumbria, making her perhaps one of the three most important rulers in mainland Britain – the others being her brother Edward king of the Anglo-Saxons and Constantin II macAeda, King of the Scots.

This made her a major political actor in her own right, but also a respected and feared figure. Even more remarkably, she passed her authority on to her daughter, Ælfwynn, who was around 30 when her mother died. The rule of Ælfwynn in Mercia, which attracts virtually no comment at all from historians, lasted about six months before her uncle Edward launched a coup d’état, deprived her of all authority and took her into Wessex.

Æthelflæd’s legacy is enigmatic, wrapped up in the “making of England”. But she was a ruler of consequence in an era defined by male authority. Indeed, her project to rebuild the kingdom of Mercia and the Mercians might have placed midland England at the heart of later history.

Big-headed gecko shows human actions are messing with evolution

An article in ‘The Conversation’ (1/8/17) outlines the potential damage human behaviour can inflict on those around us …

Evolution doesn’t have to take millions of years. New research shows that a type of lizard living on man-made islands in Brazil has developed a larger head than its mainland cousins in a period of only 15 years.

The group of insect-eating geckos from the species Gymnodactylus amarali was isolated from the rest of the population when areas of the countryside were flooded to provide hydro-electric power. This caused the extinction of some larger species of lizards on the new islands, leaving the geckos to eat insects that would normally have been mopped up by the bigger species. As a result, the geckos have evolved bigger mouths, and so bigger heads, that enable them to eat their larger prey more easily.

We’ve actually seen rapid evolution like this before, but usually in response to a natural disaster such as drought or climate change. What’s different about the geckos is that they’ve evolved in direct response to an environmental change enacted by humans, demonstrating just how much impact we can have on the natural world.

The gecko study, published in PNAS, gives us an interesting demonstration of how evolution works, not just because the change has happened within our lifetimes. Those geckos among the original colony that had larger heads (and mouths) could eat a wider range of prey and so had more energy to put into survival and reproduction. As a result, they had more children and their genes for larger heads spread to a greater proportion of the next generation. This continued until larger heads had become a common feature of the group.

But why just those with bigger heads? Why didn’t geckos whose whole bodies were bigger receive the same evolutionary advantage? Well larger bodies take more energy to maintain, so those individuals would lose the advantage that they gain by eating more food.

Gymnodactylus amarali. Carlos Eduardo Ribeiro Cândido, Universidade de Brasília

One of the most interesting things about this research is that the geckos on all five of the islands studied have evolved larger heads, even though they were isolated from each other. This suggests that increasing head size without increasing body size is the most efficient way to take advantage of the opportunity to eat a more varied diet than is normal for this species.

This kind of rapid evolution has been seen before, including among the finches of the Galapagos Islands that helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of natural selection in the first place. One of these finches species reduced the average size of its bill in a period of just 22 years when a competitor with a larger bill colonised the island.

The larger species ate all the larger seeds with tough shells, a large bill that still couldn’t compete became a disadvantage for the finches and so those birds with a smaller beak began to thrive. This is one of the fundamental principles of biology: if you don’t need a particular structure you don’t bother to grow it and save the energy instead.

A similar instance occurred in Florida when a lizard called the Cuban brown anole, which is much larger than the native green anole, colonised areas of Florida. The green anole promptly retreated up into the treetops and within 20 generations had evolved bigger, stickier foot pads, a helpful characteristic for the high life.

Human impact

Another example of rapid evolutionary change was found in Soay sheep on the island of Hirta in St Kilda off the coast of Scotland. After the residents of the island were evacuated in 1930, the sheep were allowed to run wild and, within 25 years, began to get smaller. The explanation put forward for this is that milder winters caused by climate change are allowing smaller lambs to survive, bringing down the average size of the whole population.

This suggests that we should expect to see many more examples of rapid evolution as the climate continues to change in response to greenhouse gas emissions. But the new study on geckos shows that localised human action can also interfere with the processes of evolution. Although the change in head and mouth size in the gecko seems benign, we should remember it came about because of the extinction of four other species of lizard in the area linked to the flooding. It’s a timely reminder that climate change is not the only issue facing biodiversity and evolutionary processes.

Demand that current European law recognising animals as sentient beings is brought into UK law

In current European law, animals are recognised as sentient beings, acknowledging their ability to feel pain, suffer and also experience joy. No one who has seen a cow going outside for the first time after a winter indoors, a hen dust bathing, or a pig wallowing in a fresh patch of mud would disagree with that. The law says that as animals are sentient beings, full regard must be given to their welfare when creating new legislation or regulations.

 

Securing this status for animals was a massive step forward for animal welfare in 1997. It was the biggest campaign Compassion has ever run. The recognition of animals as complex and intelligent creatures has been the cornerstone of European animal welfare legislation since that time, and the basis for so much of the progress we have made together.

 

So what’s the problem?

 

The Repeal Bill, which moves all European law into UK law once we leave the EU, has left out this important protection. It is completely absent; both the recognition of animals as sentient beings, and the requirement for governments to pay “full regard” to their welfare.

 

Once the UK leaves the EU, we cannot be sure that future Governments will still treat animals as sentient beings. Please demand that the clause is brought into UK law.

 

Take action

 

This could be a disaster for animal welfare. We cannot let this happen.

 

Thank you for your support.

Vegan campaigners free to brand British milk production as inhumane after a ruling by the advertising regulator

 

July 26 2017, 12:01am, The Times

 

Vegan campaigners are free to brand British milk production as inhumane after a ruling by the advertising regulator.

Dairy farmers had argued that an advert stating “humane milk is a myth — don’t buy it” was inaccurate but the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will clear it in a ruling to be published today.

The decision is a blow to the dairy industry, which is losing customers as people switch to vegetarian or vegan diets.

The Vegan Society says that there are more than 540,000 vegans in Britain, up from 150,000 a decade ago. Hard-hitting billboard campaigns warning against consuming milk, eggs and meat have become a common sight on high streets.

Visit Go Vegan World for more information.

Go Vegan World was accused of using highly “ emotive and anthropomorphic language, applying human emotions to a calf or dairy cow”