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Mass bird and fish deaths becoming worldwide phenomenon

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Update: 40,000 crabs have been found dead on England beaches.

The Star reported Wednesday that more than 40,000 dead Velvet swimming crabs have appeared on the Thanet shoreline in England. Dead starfish, lobsters, sponges and anemones were also found.

Tony Child, Thanet Coast Project manager, told the Star that the same thing happened two and five years ago. He suspects that the cold temperatures are to blame.

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Original report continues below…

The mysterious deaths of thousands of birds and fish is no longer confined to the US.

About 50 to 100 dead birds were discovered on a highway in central Sweden Tuesday. Scientists don’t know what killed the jackdaws but one veterinarian suspects they may have been frightened by fireworks and then run over by a car.

“We have received information from local residents last night,” County veterinarian Robert ter Horst told the Swedish site The Local. “Our main theory is that the birds were scared away because of the fireworks and landed on the road, but couldn’t fly away from the stress and were hit by a car.”

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“We will continue to look at whether there are other theories, but then we have to do an autopsy on the birds. The birds just now are in a car on the way to a laboratory in Uppsala. We don’t know exactly what happened yet, but we will continue the investigation,” he added.

The Brazillian site Paraná-Online noted that 100 tons of fish have turned up dead off the coast of Paraná since last Thursday.

According to Google Translate, the site reported that the fish included sardine, croaker and catfish.

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“On Thursday we began to realize very dead fish,” Edmir Manoel Ferreira, president of the Federation of Fishermen’s Colony of Parana, said. “Only one community came to bury 15 tons. We are experiencing a very sad situation on the coast.”

“We will wait to see what happened, but speculations suggest that fish may have died due to an environmental imbalance, dropping a fishing boat or leakage of chemicals,” Captain Edson Oliveira Avila, regional coordinator of Civil Defense in the Paraná region, told Paraná-Online.

Residents of Beebe, Arkansas awoke Saturday to find thousands of dead birds across a 1.5-square-mile area. The estimate was raised from a thousand dead red-winged blackbirds to about 5,000 Monday.

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John Fitzpatrick, director of Cornell University’s ornithology lab in Ithaca, N.Y., suspects violent weather in the deaths.

“It’s probable that thousands of birds were asleep, roosting in a single tree, when a ‘washing machine-type thunderstorm’ sucked them up into the air, disoriented them, and even fatally soaked and chilled them,” MSNBC reported.

Other possibilities include lightning, hail or even fright.

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A local resident reported hearing about 20 loud booms Saturday night — which could have been fireworks or a cannon to get rid of nuisance birds — and saw a huge flock of frantic birds when he went outside.

“He could hear the blackbirds fluttering around — he could hear their wings and he could hear them hitting into things,” state veterinarian George Badley told AFP.

Blackbirds have poor night vision and they were likely killed because they banged into houses, trees and each other in their fright.

However, the state is conducting further tests to make sure the birds were not poisoned or diseased, Badley said.

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Some 100 miles away, officials discovered 100,000 dead drum fish in the Arkansas river Thursday.

Observers are wondering whether the two mass die-offs are related, given the timing, but so far officials have found no links between the two events. Fish experts suspect disease to be behind the fish deaths, because they are limited to one species.

— With AFP


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How Facebook makes money when people are slaughtered

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The National Rifle Association nearly doubled its spending on pro-gun Facebook propaganda for three weeks after the mass shootings last month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, according to analytics provided to The Intercept.The social advertising surge began just one day after the Aug. 3 El Paso massacre, which left 22 people dead, and on the same day as the Dayton killings, which took 10 lives. At one point in this period, the NRA was spending $29,000 on a day’s worth of Facebook ads, nearly four times as much as before the shootings, according to Pathmatics, a company that monitors online advertising spending. The ad spending was conducted through the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, which, in the four weeks before the shootings, spent on average just over $9,400 a day on Facebook ads.Between Aug. 4 and Aug. 25, the institute spent around $360,000 on Facebook — roughly $16,500 per day — reaching a peak of over $29,000 on Aug. 18, according to Pathmatics, which said that it gathered this data from a panel of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users who opt in to automatically share information about the ads they’re shown. Altogether, the ads bought in this period were viewed tens of millions of times, the analytics firm estimated. “The NRA’s ad spend has spiked significantly, which isn’t surprising for an organization in the midst of a reputation battle and crisis,” Pathmatics CEO Gabe Gottlieb said.

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Is a strange Twitter glitch censoring the left?

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The Working Families Party, a New York-based progressive political party, has a reputation befitting its name as a left-populist political organization. So when the organization endorsed the center-left Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — who was once a hardcore Republican and has emphasized her capitalist credentials — over the explicitly democratic socialist candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sanders (I-Vt.) supporters were understandably disappointed. After all, the party overwhelmingly endorsed Sanders in the previous presidential election. What had changed?

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Amnesty International says Hong Kong police using excessive force

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Amnesty International on Friday accused Hong Kong police of using excessive force against pro-democracy protesters, in some cases amounting to torture, allegations that were rejected by a commanding officer.

In a report based on interviews with nearly two dozen activists, most of whom were hospitalised after their arrests, the global rights watchdog said that officers routinely went beyond the level of force allowed by local law and international standards.

"In an apparent thirst for retaliation, Hong Kong's security forces have engaged in a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests," said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

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