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A monkey that sneezes when it rains and a "walking" fish are among more than 200 species discovered in the fragile eastern Himalayas in recent years, according to conservation group WWF. WWF has compiled a survey of wildlife discovered by scientists across Bhutan, northeast India, Nepal, north Myanmar and southern Tibet in a bid to raise awareness of the threats facing the ecologically sensitive region. The species include what the WWF

described as a blue-coloured "walking snakehead fish", which can breathe air, survive on land for four days and slither up to 400 metres (a quarter of a mile) on wet ground.

Others include an ornate red, yellow and orange pit viper that could pass for a piece of jewellery, a fresh-water "dracula" fish with fangs and three new types of bananas.

In the forests of northern Myanmar, scientists learned in 2010 of a black and white monkey with an upturned nose that causes it to sneeze when it rains.

On rainy days they often sit with their heads tucked between their knees to avoid getting water in their snub noses.

 

Dressed in black and carrying black umbrellas, the protesters sang and performed a dramatisation of an oil spill, before sitting down on the floor in the museum's great court in lines forming the word "No".

The demonstrators carried banners reading "end oil" and "no new BP deal".

Protester Yasmin de Silva, who protested at Tate Britain before joining a larger protest at the museum, called BP "one of the dirtiest and most controversial oil companies in the world" and called their cultural sponsorship "incongruous".

"Unfortunately, oil companies like BP are doing all they can to prevent meaningful action on climate change from taking place," de Silva said.

"Tate, the British Museum and other London cultural institutions are explicitly endorsing them in doing it."

 

 

 

Man-made global warming is set to produce exceptionally high average temperatures this year and next, boosted by natural weather phenomena such as El Nino, Britain's top climate and weather body said in a report Monday.

"It looks very likely that globally 2014, 2015 and 2016 will all be amongst the very warmest years ever recorded," Rowan Sutton of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, which contributed to the report, told journalists.

"This is not a fluke," he said. "We are seeing the effects of energy steadily accumulating in the Earth's oceans and atmosphere, caused by greenhouse gas emissions."

The rate at which global temperatures are increasing is also on track to pick up in the coming years, ending a period of more than a decade in which the pace of warming worldwide had appeared to slow down, the report said.

This "pause" has been seized upon by sceptics as evidence that climate change was driven more by natural cycles than human activity.

Some scientists, however, argue that there was no significant slowdown, pointing instead to flawed calculations.

The 20-page report from Britain's Met Office, entitled "Big changes underway in the climate system?", highlights current transitions in major weather patterns that affect rainfall and temperatures at a regional level.

An El Nino weather pattern centered in the tropical Pacific Ocean is "well underway", the report says, and shaping up to be one of the most intense on record. Very strong El Ninos also occurred over the winters of 1997 and 1982.

Set to grow stronger in the coming months, the current El Nino -- a result of shifting winds and ocean circulation -- is likely to result is dry conditions in parts of Asia and Australia, as well as southern and sub-Saharan North Africa, the Met Office said.

By contrast, the southwestern United States -- including parched California, suffering from an historic drought -- has a strong chance of seeing higher-than-average rainfall.

El Ninos also affect tropical storms, making them less likely in the North Atlantic and more intense in the West Pacific, where they are known as typhoons.

Overall, an El Nino is also likely to add a little heat to the general impact of global warming.

Meanwhile, warming sea surface temperatures along the North American west coast point to a reversal of another natural pattern called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

 

 

Better known for its lavish stately country homes, Britain's National Trust is changing tack this month by offering tours of concrete buildings seen by many as hideous eyesores.

Large-scale, rugged and mostly grey, so-called brutalist architecture flourished around Britain in the post-war years, partly due to the relatively low cost of construction.

Some architects saw the style as modern and progressive, although many brutalist housing estates are now a byword for urban decay.

"Love it or not, brutalism was the dominant post-war architectural movement that sought to offer the best of design to the masses through public housing schemes, new universities and venues for the arts and education that were accessible to all," the Trust said in a statement.

 

 

Queen Elizabeth II is planning to keep things low-key on Wednesday when she will overtake Queen Victoria as Britain's longest-serving monarch, despite public interest in the historic date.

The queen will ride on a steam train in Scotland to inaugurate a new railway line and will host a dinner at Balmoral Castle with her grandson Prince William and his wife Kate in attendance.

According to calculations by royal officials, at around 1630 GMT Elizabeth will beat her great-great grandmother Victoria's time on the throne: a total of 63 years, seven months and two days which she served between 1837 and 1901.

The exact hour has been difficult to determine because the exact start of her reign -- the moment when her father George VI passed away -- is difficult to work out as the king died at night in his sleep.

The 89-year-old Elizabeth, also the world's oldest monarch, had originally not planned anything special for the day itself but reportedly agreed to a public appearance due to public pressure.

"You need to remember for the queen this is a date whose calculation rests on the death of her father and great-great grandmother. That naturally colours the way she sees it," a royal source said.

"While she acknowledges it as an historic moment, it's also for her not a moment she would personally celebrate, which is why she has been keen to convey business as usual, and no fuss," the source said.

Buckingham Palace will mark the day with a photo display of her reign and the Royal Mint has designed a new silver £20 coin (27 euros, $30) with the five official portraits since she became queen in 1952.

 

- New Elizabethan Age? -

 

Historian David Starkey said the queen's style, inherited from her father King George VI, and grandfather King George V, had helped "established a record of unimpeachable integrity".

He said her refusal to comment on controversial issues had deprived "republicanism of the necessary oxygen of controversy".

However, it also meant she had "done and said nothing that anybody will remember" and she would therefore "not give her name to her age" as Victoria did, the historian wrote in the Radio Times.

By contrast, fellow historian Andrew Gimson argued that Elizabeth's reign "will be seen as an incredible accomplishment," spanning a period "marked by many major social and economic changes".

These changes saw Britain's global influence, which peaked during Victoria's reign, diminish as the empire gave way to independence.

It was a process already under way when Elizabeth came to the throne, as the country was rebuilt after the trauma of World War II.

She then witnessed Europe draw closer together, eventually leading to the formation of the European Union, but also saw turmoil at home as Britain's economy collapsed during the 1970s.

Over the Irish Sea, the Troubles raged in Northern Ireland for decades of her reign, eventually being brought to an end by the 1998 peace agreement, while mass immigration changed the face of the country.

 

 

Islamophobic and anti-Semitic hate crimes in London have soared over the last year, official figures released on Monday showed, with global events apparently contributing to the rise.

Police recorded 816 Islamophobic offences in the 12 months to July, up more than 70 percent from 478 in the previous 12 months.

Anti-Semitic crime surged 93 percent over the same period, with 499 incidents recorded compared with 258 the previous year.

London's Metropolitan Police said "world events" may have contributed to the increase, while there was also a rise in incidents on holy days when Muslim and Jewish communities were more "visible".

A willingness by victims to report such crimes and improved ability of police to identify them were also factors, Scotland Yard said.

"In light of recent world events, we know communities in London are feeling anxious," a spokesman for the force said.

"Local Neighbourhood Policing Teams are providing a more targeted presence in key areas at key times, such as school routes, holy days and prayer times to give extra reassurance."

Fiyaz Mughal, from Tell Mama, an organisation with monitors Islamophobic incidents, said around 60 percent of victims of such offences are women wearing a hijab or headscarf.

"We also realised quite early on that women who wear niqab, the face veil, suffered more aggressive incidents -- there was something about the face veil that in a way brought out the worst in the perpetrator," he told the BBC.

 

 

London Zoo on Wednesday carried out its annual weigh-in as it sought to keep track of more than 17,000 animals in its care.

Ten-week-old penguin chicks and 80-year-old tortoises were among a huge variety of animals that had their vital statistics recorded at the zoo in London's Regents Park.

Each measurement is recorded in the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), a database shared with zoos all around the world, helping zookeepers to compare important information on thousands of endangered species.

"With different behaviours, personalities and traits to take into consideration, zookeepers use ingenious tactics to entice the animals in their care to stand up and be measured," said an official from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

 

Author Michael George announces the nationwide release of his new book, “Reflections of You,” a self-help book that is about the invisible mirror, revealing only the truth. The book’s hardback edition is set to be released next month.


“Reflections of You” is a powerfully anointed and dynamic book with a deep insight. Its unique, uncompromising style of writing will engage and affect every believer. With thought-provoking truths, this book will encourage and challenge every believer who has a deep desire to have an encounter with the God of the Word.


“Reflections of You” will affect anyone’s vision and will bring change to whoever desires it. Everyone is looking for change, and truth is the only power that can bring about that change. When one encounters the truth, one’s life can never remain the same; truth comes to liberate and bring change for the better.

 

 

Working 55 hours or more per week is linked to a one third greater risk of stroke compared to a 35-40 hour work week, according to research published Thursday.

Based on a review of 17 studies covering 528,908 men and women followed for an average of 7.2 years, the increased stroke risk remained once smoking, alcohol consumption and level of physical activity were taken into account.

The study, published in The Lancet, found that compared with people who logged a standard week, those working between 41 and 48 hours had a 10 percent higher risk, while for those working 49 to 54 hours, the risk jumped by 27 percent.

Working 55 hours or more a week increased the risk of having a stroke by 33 percent, the study showed.

The long work week also increased the risk of developing coronary heart disease by 13 percent, even after taking into account risk factors including age, sex, and socioeconomic status, the study showed.

In looking at the link between long hours in the work place and heart disease, Mika Kivimaki, a professor of epidemiology at University College London, and colleagues analysed data from 25 studies involving 603,838 men and women from Europe, the United States, and Australia who were followed for an average of 8.5 years.

The underlying causes of stroke and heart disease are complex, involving a mix of genetic and environmental factors.

But the researchers suggest that physical inactivity, high alcohol consumption, and repetitive stress all enhance risk.

"The pooling of all available studies on this topic allowed us to investigate the association between working hours and cardiovascular disease risk with greater precision than has previously been possible," Kivimaki said in a statement.

 

 

Britain and France were to announce a new "command and control centre" Thursday to tackle smuggling gangs in Calais, as Europe grapples with its biggest migration crisis since World War II.

Under a deal to be signed by Home Minister Theresa May and her French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve, British teams will be deployed to bust smuggling gangs and also reduce nightly attempts by desperate migrants and refugees to break into the Channel Tunnel.

But in an interview with AFP, the head of the Red Cross slammed the "indifference" of governments across Europe that has allowed a continental crisis to take hold.

"What will be the saturation point? When will everybody wake up to see that it is a real crisis?" Elhadj As Sy, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in Geneva.

His comments came as a barrage of alarming statistics showed that hundreds of thousands of migrants -- many fleeing war and persecution in countries like Syria -- are pouring into the European Union, with no end in sight.

The new deal for Calais includes extra French policing units, additional freight searches, and making the railhead at the Eurotunnel entrance more secure through fencing, security cameras, flood lighting and infrared detection technology.

It also provides 10 million euros ($11.2 million) over two years to speed up asylum applications and boost humanitarian aid in the northern port city.

Some 3,000 people from Africa, the Middle East and Asia are camped in Calais, hoping to get to Britain where many have family and work is thought easier to find.

- Record highs -

The numbers trying to reach Britain are a tiny fraction of those entering other European countries, particularly Germany, which said this week it expects a new record 800,000 asylum seekers in 2015 -- far more than the 500,000 initially expected.

Cazeneuve was due to travel to Germany on Thursday evening to discuss the issue, which ChancellorAngela Merkel has warned could become a bigger challenge for the European Union than the Greek debt crisis.

EU border agency Frontex on Tuesday reported a record high of 107,500 migrants at the European Union's borders last month.

And the number of migrants arriving in debt-crippled Greece is accelerating dramatically, with nearly 21,000 landing on the overstretched Greek islands last week alone, the United Nations said.

Red Cross chief Sy said the only way to stop the traffickers was to increase legal means of migration.

"It's Greece today, it could be another entry point tomorrow," he said. "The more legal room you have (to migrate), the less room you will have for criminal activity."

The EU has approved 2.4 billion euros ($2.6 billion) of funding to help member states cope with the flood of migrants, but Sy insisted the response so far "is nowhere near the scale of the problems that we are seeing."