U.S. Army still anti gay


From Big News Network:

Saturday 14th March, 2009

U.S. soldiers kicked out of army for being gay

Eleven soldiers received their marching orders from the U.S. Army in January for being gay.

The soldiers in infantry, intelligence, military police and medical-care were charged wth breaching the army’s policy that homosexual servicemembers not disclose their sexual preferences.

Democratic Representative Jim Moran of Virginia says he is getting monthly updates from the Pentagon on discharges related to the army’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which President Obama says he will review.

The policy was implemented 16 years ago under former President Bill Clinton, after two studies were commissioned.

One of few good things which Bill Clinton at least started to do … however, he allowed homophobic big brass to stop him. See also here.

President Jimmy Carter’s former Secretary of the Army, Clifford Alexander, issued a stinging rebuke Thursday of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy when he called it a form of bigotry and an overall “inconsistent, foolish policy”: here.

Lesbian Cadet Chronicled Her Troubles Online: here.

Lesbian cadet QUITS West Point, cites DADT: here.

Gay groups claim the Iraqi government is giving tacit support to the death squads targeting young homosexuals who venture outdoors: here.

RIGHTS: Cuba Launches Anti-Homophobia Campaign:here.

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Great white shark, megalodon, and evolution


From ScienceDaily:

Preserved Shark Fossil Adds Evidence To Great White‘s Origins

(Mar. 13, 2009) — A new University of Florida study could help resolve a long-standing debate in shark paleontology: From which line of species did the modern great white shark evolve?

For the last 150 years, some paleontologists have concluded the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, is a smaller relative of the line that produced Carcharodon megalodon, the largest carnivorous fish known. Other paleontologists disagree, arguing the great white shark evolved instead from the broad-toothed mako shark. The second group contends megalodon, which grew to a length of 60 feet, should have its genus name switched to Carcharocles to reflect its different ancestry.

Megalodon and great white shark

The study in the March 12 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology falls squarely into the mako camp. It concludes megalodon and modern white sharks are much more distantly related than paleontologists initially believed.

“I think that this specimen will clarify things,” said lead author Dana Ehret, a vertebrate paleontology graduate student at the Florida Museum of Natural History located on the UF campus. “When we only have isolated teeth to describe, it’s very hard to come to a definitive conclusion.”

The study is based on a remarkably well preserved 4- to 5-million-year-old fossil from Peru of an early white shark species: a complete jaw with 222 teeth intact and 45 vertebrae. Most ancient shark species are known only from isolated teeth. Based on tooth size and analysis of growth rings within the vertebrae, the shark was about 20 years old and 17 to 18 feet long, a size in the range of modern white sharks.

Having the teeth in place allows researchers to see important distinguishing characteristics that help determine a fossil’s genus and species, such as whether a tooth curves toward the outside of the jaw or its midline, Ehret said. He believes the fossil belongs to a white shark species closely related to Isurus hastalis, a broad-toothed mako shark that probably grew to 27 feet long and lived 9 million to 10 million years ago.

An olive-grove farmer trained in fossil collection discovered it near his home in the desert of southern Peru in 1988. It now belongs to a private collection and was only recently pledged to the Florida Museum of Natural History. …

The specimen came from an area known as the Pisco Formation, famous for its rich fossil beds dating from the late Miocene to Pleistocene, about 1 million to 9 million years ago. The region was once a sheltered, shallow marine environment ideal for preserving skeletons. The formation has produced articulated broad-toothed mako shark skeletons as well as fossils of whales, aquatic sloths and sea turtles.

The study strengthens the evolutionary link between the extinct mako and the modern white shark, said vertebrate paleontologist Kenshu Shimada, an associate professor at DePaul University in Chicago. Shimada said paleontologists now need fossil skeletons from megalodon and a shark from the extinct Otodontidae family such as Otodus, a large prehistoric mackerel shark that lived about 40 million to 60 million years ago.

“If we can demonstrate the strong link between Carcharocles and Otodus from such skeletal remains,” Shimada said, “we may be able to settle the evolutionary and taxonomic debates.”

Megalodon was first classified in the same genus as the modern white shark in the 1840s based on the similarity of tooth shape and serrations specialized for eating marine mammals. Mako sharks have no serrations because they feed primarily on fish.

Ehret says the shark fossil’s coarse serrations are evidence of a transition between broad-toothed mako sharks and modern white sharks.

“Here we have a shark that’s gaining serrations,” he said. “It’s becoming a white shark, but it’s not quite there yet.”

The transition from megatooth sharks like megalodon to modern white sharks would require changes in body size and tooth serrations, thickness and enamel, Ehret said. By contrast, the transition from the broad-toothed mako shark to modern white sharks would require only the presence of serrations and a shift in the slant of a key tooth position.

Did Discovery Channel fake the image in its giant shark documentary? Image showing Megalodon swimming past U-boats off Cape Town was doctored. Come clean, or prove me wrong: here.

Economic Recession Means Fewer Shark Attacks: here.

Vast Bed of Ancient Bones and Shark Teeth Explained: here.

33,000 sharks, 2000 dolphins & 2000 turtles killed to boost beach tourism in South Africa: here.

Great whites ‘plan’ seal attacks: here.

Largest prehistoric Megalodon shark jaw ever assembled up for auction: here.

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‘Put Bush and Blair on trial’


This video from Sky News in Britain is called Binyam Mohamed released from Guantanamo Bay.

From British daily News Line:

Saturday, 14 March 2009

PUT BUSH AND BLAIR ON TRIAL – urges just-freed Binyam Mohamed

UK resident Binyam Mohamed, recently freed from Guantanamo Bay, has called for ex-US President Bush to be put on trial over his rendition and torture and, if there is enough evidence, the former UK Premier Blair as well.

Mohamed said he would not have faced torture or extraordinary rendition but for British involvement in his case.

My Role in the Torture of Binyam Mohamed, by Barbara Ehrenreich: here.

Britain: The Conservative Party is leading a right-wing campaign against Guantánamo torture victim Binyam Mohamed: here.

THE High Court released details of a document on Monday suggesting that the US government had tried to prevent Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed taking legal action over allegations that he was tortured: here.

US OFFERED BINYAM A PLEA-BARGAIN DEAL: here.

HUMAN rights lawyers Reprieve warned on Thursday that no evidence should be excluded when police investigate whether an MI5 officer was complicit in the torture of Binyam Mohamed: here.

THERE MUST BE NO COVER-UP – Binyam police probe must go right to top: here.

Britain’s attorney general has authorised a police investigation into whether MI5 was complicit in the torture of ex-Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed: here.

Robert Fisk’s World: The West should feel shame over its collusion with torturers: here.

In a court filing Friday, the Obama administration abandoned the Bush administration’s legal designation of “enemy combatant.” However, the filing defended the president’s right to seize and hold suspected prisoners indefinitely as part of the “war on terror”: here.

Like the Obama administration, the [Australian] Rudd government is using every possible legal device to suppress evidence of torture at Guantánamo Bay. It is trying to block a compensation case by Mamdouh Habib, who was detained there for three years without trial or charge: here.

WASHINGTON has turned down an offer from the Venezuelan government to take in any of the 245 remaining Guantanamo detainees once they are released: here.

Britain: MINISTERS came under cross-party pressure on Thursday to investigate fresh allegations of MI5 complicity in the torture of terror suspects: here.

LEGAL rights campaigners welcomed a High Court ruling on Friday which could result in the public disclosure of secret documents detailing the torture of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Binyam Mohamed: here.