From popping lizards in pillow cases to tape-measuring a mamba, London Zoo has to come up with some creative methods for the annual weigh-in of its animals. But what can a zoo animal’s weight and size tell us about conservation of its wild counterparts? Zoo Keeper turned wildlife researcher Dr Tara Pirie explains more in a new post for The Conversation.

Every August, London Zoo weighs and measures every one of its 19,000 animals. It’s a great PR move for the zoo, guaranteeing lots of friendly coverage of photogenic animals on scales or next to tape measures, at a time when many politicians and journalists have clocked off for the summer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Millions of Zimbabweans watched their new president Emmerson Mnangagwa deliver his inauguration speech on Sunday 26 August, and outline the plans for his ‘Second Republic’. Dr Heike Schmidt, Associate Professor of Modern African History, was watching closely to identify some of the problems with his proposals, and ponder just what hope there is for a truly democratic Zimbabwe under his rule.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa

As expected, the inauguration of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa was regulated by protocol.

Much attention was given, as always, to the military. Yet the pageantry and the speeches were an intriguing performance of power that sets the president and the party that has ruled the country since its independence in 1980, ZANU-PF, on a path that promises both continuity and change that will affect every Zimbabwean. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ebola is back in the Democratic Republic of Congo – but thanks to a new vaccination strategy there’s no reason that a situation like the 2014 Ebola outbreak need ever happen again, says Reading’s  Professor Ian Jones in a recent post for The Conversation.

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As ZANU-PF celebrate election victory in Zimbabwe once again, Modern African Historian Dr Heike Schmidt says there was never any doubt over the outcome, despite the opposition’s legal challenge to the election results.

According to reports from Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, the government started preparations for the presidential inauguration of Emmerson Mnangagwa hours before the Constitutional Court read its verdict on the opposition’s challenge to the August 2018 presidential election results.

That the court ruled in favour of Mnangagwa rather than to declare the elections flawed and to call for new elections within sixty days comes as no surprise to a nation that since 1980 has known only one ruling party, ZANU-PF.

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Weather forecasting is extremely hard – it is a prediction of something that is inherently unpredictable. Reading scientist Jon Shonk explains why forecasts will never be completely accurate, despite improvements in forecast skill over the decades.

The science of weather forecasting falls to public scrutiny every single day. When the forecast is correct, we rarely comment, but we are often quick to complain when the forecast is wrong. Are we ever likely to achieve a perfect forecast that is accurate to the hour?

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Reading’s Professor Rosa Freedman and Professor Aoife O’Donoghue of Durham University consider the legacy of the late former UN Secretary-General  in a new post for The Conversation.

The passing of Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been met with tributes from all around the world. His home country, Ghana, declared a week of national mourning.

Annan rose through the ranks of the UN to become the first black African to head the organisation, and his many achievements are rightly being celebrated. Under his tenure, human rights and development were put at the forefront of all UN work, ensuring that the organisation focused on all people in all parts of our global society. Courageously, he was also the first UN Secretary-General to recognise and condemn the UN’s disproportionate focus on Israel as a human rights violator compared to many other similar or worse offenders.

It is also right to remember that on his watch, the UN’s reputation was tarnished by two of its worst stains. He was head of UN peacekeeping at the time when genocides were perpetrated in Rwanda and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia while UN peacekeepers stood by and did nothing, and he was in charge of the UN during the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq.

But as a whole, Annan’s life and work will nonetheless be celebrated for a long time to come.

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Today Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court is hearing an opposition petition seeking to overturn the presidential election result. In a post for The Conversation published yesterday, Professor Heike Schmidt looked at the state of Zimbabwe ahead of the ruling – and concludes that it is under too little pressure to change.

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Theatre audiences are used to being told to put their phones away when they arrive for a show, but a new performance led by the University of Reading encourages precisely the opposite. User Not Found embraces technology to create an interactive experience to explore the future of social media – and it’s currently taking Edinburgh by storm. Professor Lib Taylor, Principal Investigator of the project, reveals more.

What happens to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, our email, our music, photos and videos when we die?  In a digital age, who is responsible for our internet legacy?

One of the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh Festival is User Not Found, a performance by the theatre company Dante or Die and involving the University of Reading, which addresses exactly this issue.

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The world’s elderly population is growing. By 2050 it’s expected that one third of the population of Europe will be over 65 – and this gives older people more political clout. Could this ‘grey power’ be having an effect on the world’s economies? Tim Vlandas explains his prize-winning research.

Tim Vlandas is Associate Professor in the University of Reading’s Division of Politics and International Relations. His paper ‘Grey power and the Economy: Ageing and inflation across advanced economies‘ won the 2018 Research Outputs Prize for the Prosperity and Resilience theme.

 

 

 

 

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A new website that catalogues punk memorabilia from the 70s and 80s is set to become the UKs largest digital archive of punk ephemera. It’s the latest development from Professor Matt Worley’s research exploring the relationship between youth cultures, politics and social change. Find out how you can contribute to the online archive.

Punk in the East is a digital collection of original punk photographs, gig ticket, posters, clothing and ephemera from Norwich, Norfolk and across East Anglia. As content continues to come in it is fast becoming the largest digital UK punk archive.

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