Music, poetry, and a magician


This is a video of acoustic instrumental fingerstyle guitarist Michael Berk live at Club 85, Hitchin, Britain.

Tonight in the theatre, there was, first, percussion music and poetry by Rik van Boeckel. His theme was Cuba; and he showed how claves work in Cuban music.

Then, stage magic by Tilman Andris. First, tricks with ropes; then, with oranges. Then with big metal rings; then with finger rings.

After a pause, a spoken column by yours truly on Ms Rita Verdonk and other xenophobic politicians.

Then, guitar music by Michael Berk.

Another musician, Eelco Romijn, could not come because of a sore throat.

So, there was another poet, Jaap Montagne from Leiden, whose poems included one on spam.

Fossil crocodiles and manatees discovered in Cuba


This is a video about manatees in the USA today.

Translated from Belgian daily Het Belang van Limburg:

Cuban scientists have found the fossil remains of gigantic crocodiles and manatee relatives. The fossils are 20 million years old, scientists say.

They were found in Sancti Spiritus province in central Cuba. According to the vice president of the Cuban speleological society, Alejandro Romero, the fossils are from the Miocene. They were 20 meter underground.

Video on US creationists’ beliefs about fossils: here.

Crocodile tears: here.

Blair on trial for Iraq war in London play


This video is called Sexual abuse and torture by British troops in Iraq.

Reuters reports:

London Theatre Targets Blair for Iraq War

September 17, 2007

By Mike Collett-White

A London theatre has put British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the dock for waging war in Iraq, staging a mock tribunal where prosecution and defense lawyers question key witnesses.

As scrutiny over Blair’s legacy intensifies ahead of his expected resignation in a few weeks, “Called to Account” examines events leading to Britain’s participation in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that has damaged the leader’s popularity.

Based on a courtroom-style debate between lawyers to provide material for the drama, the play raises the question, asked many times before, of whether Blair and his officials deliberately manipulated intelligence to justify the 2003 invasion.

It also focuses on what pressure, if any, they put on the attorney general when he gave legal advice on the war, at what stage Blair agreed to back the use of force in Iraq and whether the aim was regime change and not weapons of mass destruction.

Some ground in the play was covered by the real-life Butler and Hutton inquiries of 2004, which cleared Blair and his government of deliberately distorting intelligence and misleading Britons.

But Richard Norton-Taylor, the Guardian journalist who wrote “Called to Account” based on transcripts of the mock legal debate, believes the remits were narrow and evidence has emerged since then that could compromise Blair.

“My personal view is that there is still a case to answer. We don’t know the full story,” Norton-Taylor said after the press night at the Tricycle Theatre on Monday.

He and director Nicolas Kent also quote from the Butler report, which said “as in the search for weapons in Iraq, one can never do too much digging.”

Arts Target Blair

Among witnesses who gave testimony was Clare Short, a fierce critic of Blair and the war, former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter and Richard Perle, ex-Pentagon official who backed the invasion but who has had doubts since. Blair does not appear.

“Called to Account” comes soon after Britain’s Channel 4 showed “The Trial of Tony Blair” in which the leader faces trial for war crimes as he steps down as leader.

New Labour ousts key anti-war MP, Bob Wareing: here.

Iraq: Baghdad residents protest US-erected segregation wall


This video ‘shows you the reality of Baghdad wall’.

By Naomi Spencer:

Baghdad residents protest US-erected dividing wall

18 September 2007

Hundreds of Shiite and Sunni residents staged a protest on September 12 against a wall being constructed by US troops between their adjoining neighborhoods in northwest Baghdad. Construction on the two-kilometer long wall, part of a deliberate US effort to divide Iraq’s population along religious lines, began last week without the consultation of local residents and continues despite their opposition.

The protestors demanded the Maliki government put a halt to the wall’s construction and remove the completed sections dividing the Shiite neighborhood of al-Shuala and the Sunni-majority al-Ghazaliyah. The demonstrators, including clerics, tribal leaders, and workers, marched from one neighborhood to the other carrying signs declaring, “The wall is US terrorism” and “No to the dividing wall.”

See also here.

Baghdad revealed as bank robbery capital of the world: here.

Permian fossil tracks and their makers


This video is about ‘The Permian Mass Extinction which occured 250 million years ago, wiped out 95% of the existing species, and began the age of the Dinosaurs’.

Mass extinctions past and future: here.

From Science Daily:

Who Went There? Matching Fossil Tracks With Their Makers

Science Daily — Fossilized footprints are relatively common, but figuring out exactly which ancient creature made particular tracks has been a mystery that has long stumped paleontologists.

In the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, a team of researchers overcome this dilemma for the first time, and link a fossil trackway to a well-known fossil animal.

Sebastian Voigt, a trackway expert from the Institute of Geology, Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, Germany, and David Berman and Amy Henrici of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, who study fossil skeletons, took a close look at an exceptional fossil collection from 290-million-year-old sediments of central Germany known as the Tambach Formation. The Bromacker locality in the Tambach Formation has been famous for its fossil footprints for well over a century, but “identifying the animals that made the tracks proved challenging,” commented Voigt.

Fortunately, the Bromacker locality offered clues to solving the problem for the paleontologists. Superbly detailed trackways were found in concert with exceptionally preserved skeletons, in the same sediments. “To have beautifully preserved trackways and skeletons at the same site is a unique situation for paleontologists — it provides a wonderful opportunity to better understand how these extinct animals lived,” noted Berman.

The team combined their expertise in anatomy and ichnology (the study of tracks) to match up the most common tracks with their makers. Detailed measurements of the tracks, combined with measurements of the legs, feet and backbones of the skeletal material allowed the team to pinpoint the trackmakers. The two most common skeletal fossils, Diadectes absitus and Orobates pabsti, grew to approximately 3 or 4 feet.

These closely related reptile-like creatures were some of the first four-legged plant eaters on land, and have no close living relatives. Their limb skeletons and size match them well to the Bromacker locality’s two most common types of trackway, scientifically named Ichniotherium cottae and Ichniotherium sphaerodactylum.

Sebastian Voigt said, “Now that we have matched the two most common skeletons to their trackways, it is time to turn our attention to the rarer animals. Our work opens new doors for delving into other paleobiological questions, including how Diadectes and Orobates walked.”

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Permian fusulinids: here.

Mass extinctions: here.

The now fossilized supervolcano last erupted about 280 million years ago, leaving behind an 8-mile-wide (13-kilometer-wide) caldera, which was recently discovered in the Italian Alps’ Sesia Valley. here: