Anti-evolution lunacy in the USA


This is a comedy video about creationism.

From Scientific Blogging:

US Ranks High in Anti-Evolution Beliefs

By Michael White | July 3rd 2009 11:59 AM

This is not much of a surprise:

“In six out of ten countries including Argentina (57%), China (72%), Great Britain (62%), India (77%), Mexico (65%) and Spain (61%), the majority of people who had heard of Charles Darwin and know something about his theory of evolution agreed with the opinion that ‘enough scientific evidence exists to support Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution’, compared to an overall average across all the countries surveyed of 56 percent.

Less than half of those surveyed in Russia (48%), South Africa (42%), USA (41%), and Egypt (25%), who know something about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, agreed with the opinion that enough scientific evidence exists to support this theory.”

The US is, as always, near the bottom of the pile when to comes to scientific literacy about evolution.

Creationism in Texas: here.

New Australian dinosaurs discovered


This video is called New dinosaur species in Australia found.

From the Queensland Museum and Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History, this report:

Diggers discover new dinos

Monday, 06 July 2009

Scott Hocknull and colleagues at the Queensland Museum and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History describe the fossils of three new mid-Cretaceous dinosaurs from the Winton Formation in eastern Australia: two giant, herbivorous sauropods and one carnivorous theropod. The three fossils add to our knowledge of the Australian dinosaurian record, which is crucial for the understanding of the global paleobiogeography of dinosaurian groups.

Australia’s dinosaurian fossil record is extremely poor, compared with that of other similar-sized continents, such as South America and Africa. However, the mid-Cretaceous Winton Formation in central western Queensland has, in recent years, yielded numerous fossil sites with huge potential for the discovery of new dinosaurian taxa. Between 2006 and 2009, extensive excavations have yielded many well-preserved dinosaur fossils, as well as the remains of other contemporaneous fauna.

In a single, comprehensive, publication, Hocknull and colleagues describe the remains of three individual dinosaur skeletons, found during joint Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum and Queensland Museum digs in two different sites in the Winton Formation. They represent three new genera and species of dinosaur: two giant herbivorous sauropods and a carnivorous theropod.

The carnivore, named by the authors on the paper Australovenator wintonensis (nicknamed “Banjo”) is the most complete meat-eating dinosaur found in Australia, to date and sheds light on the ancestry of the largest-ever meat-eating dinosaurs, the carcharodontosaurs, a group of dinosaurs that became gigantic, like Giganotosaurus [see also here].

“The cheetah of his time, Banjo was light and agile,” said lead author Scott Hocknull. “He could run down most prey with ease over open ground. His most distinguishing feature was three large slashing claws on each hand. Unlike some theropods that have small arms (think T. rex), Banjo was different; his arms were a primary weapon.

“He’s Australia’s answer to Velociraptor, but many times bigger and more terrifying.”

The skeleton of Australovenator solves a 28-year-old mystery surrounding an ankle bone found in Victoria, which was originally classified as a dwarf Allosaurus, although this classification remained controversial until the discovery of Australovenator—the researchers are now able to confirm that the ankle bone belonged to the lineage that led to Australovenator.

The two plant-eating theropods, named Witonotitan wattsi (“Clancy”) and Diamantinasaurus matildae (“Matilda”), are different kinds of titanosaur (the largest type of dinosaur ever to have lived). While Witonotitan represents a tall, gracile animal, which might have fitted into a giraffe-like niche, the stocky, solid Diamantinasaurus represents a more hippo-like species.

All three dinosaurs are nicknamed after characters from a world-famous, Australian poet. Banjo Patterson composed Waltzing Matilda in 1885 in Winton, where the song was also first performed (and where the fossils were discovered). Waltzing Matilda is now considered to be Australia’s national song.

In a quirky twist of fate, the song Waltzing Matilda describes the unfortunate demise of a swag-man, who steals a jumbuck (sheep) but is driven to leap into a billabong (an Australian word for a small oxbow lake) to avoid being captured by the police. He ends up drowning in the billabong alongside the stolen sheep.

Banjo and Matilda were found buried together in what turns out to be a 98-million-year-old billabong. Whether they died together or got stuck in the mud together remains a mystery; however, echoing the song, both predator and possible prey met their end at the bottom of a billabong, 98 million years ago. This shows that processes that were working in the area over the last 98 million years are still there today. “Billabongs are a built-in part of the Australian mind,” said Hocknull, “because we associate them with mystery, ghosts and monsters.” …

The full scientific findings are set out in the paper, “New Mid-Cretaceous (Latest Albian) Dinosaurs from Winton, Queensland,” Australia, published July 3 in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE.

See also here. Another video: here.

New Titanosaur Discovered in Australia: here.

Huge Dinosaur Tooth Found in Spain: here.

Young storks learn to fly


Last week, the young birds at the white stork nest near the nature reserve were moving their wings, but did not fly away from the nest yet.

Today, one adult stork and two juveniles on the meadow below the nest. One adult on the nest.

So, the young have learned to fly.

Storks in The Hague: here.

Egyptian antiquities excavated in museum


This video is called King Tut’s Golden Treasures, Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt.

Like recently, dinosaurs were discovered inside museums in Britain and Canada … and like earlier Egyptological discoveries inside the Egyptian Museum

From the Egypt State Information Service:

Monuments discovered in Egyptian Museum

Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said Saturday 4/7/2009 that during working in the project of developing the Egyptian Museum, a monument cache was discovered near the western door’s stair in the western part of the Egyptian Museum in el-Tahrir.

The Minister said the cache is part of four other parts of a broken inscription that contain limestone hieroglyphic writing. It was divided into two parts with some hieroglyphic signs.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that he believed that these monuments were buried in the past in this place through the Egyptian Museum archeologists when they were transferring the monuments from the archeological sites to the museum for storage.

Hawass pointed out that the Museum archeologists were examining the ancient monuments to bury the artificial pieces but these genuine ones were buried by mistake.

See also here.

Yugoslavia war, 1999-2009


This video is called Carla Del Ponte: Kosovo Serbs Murdered For Their Organs.

NATO bombs still haunt Serbs, 9 years on.

By David N. Gibbs, in the United States Jewish magazine Tikkun:

Was Kosovo the Good War?

This article draws from David N. Gibbs‘s new book, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Vanderbilt University Press, June 2009), especially from chapter 7. Readers interested in obtaining full source citations can find most of them in the book or request them from the author at dgibbs@arizona.edu.

As the 1999 NATO war against Serbia reaches its tenth anniversary, it is being recalled with a measure of nostalgia. The Kosovo war is remembered as the “good war” — a genuinely moral military action, which offers a reassuring contrast with the Iraq fiasco. The Kosovo war was undertaken (so the argument goes) only as a last resort, to restrain an unpleasant dictator (Slobodan Milosevic) who would only respond to force. And the war produced positive results, in the sense that Kosovo was freed from Serb oppression and Milosevic was soon overthrown. Now, a decade later, the Kosovo war is recalled as an exemplary case of humanitarian intervention, and is widely viewed as a model for possible interventions in Darfur [see also here] and elsewhere. Indeed some of the key figures in the Obama administration, notably Samantha Power, have advocated that “humanitarian intervention” on the model of Kosovo should be a basic theme of U.S. policy.

Given the importance of Kosovo as a model for future military actions, it is important to understand more fully what actually happened in this critical case. New information has become available in recent years from the Milosevic war crimes trial and other basic sources — information that casts the war in a wholly different (and not so positive) light. In what follows, I will review some of these revelations, and how they have discredited widely accepted myths about the “benign” character of the Kosovo intervention.

A review of Gibbs’ book: here.

An interview with David N. Gibbs, author of First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia: here.

Honduran dictatorship kills pro-democracy demonstrators


This video, made in Honduras, says about itself:

A Boeing 737 cockpit view of the approach and landing into the Tegucigalpa airport located in Honduras. Tegucigalpa (TGU) is considered by many to be one of the world’s most dangerous airports due to; the steep approach required; elevation; short, sloping runway and high terrain in very close proximity.

Honduran troops on Sunday fired on anti-coup demonstrators outside the airport in the capital, Tegucigalpa, killing at least two and wounding many more: here.