Brachiosaur discovered in China


This video is called Types of Dinosaurs : Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Facts.

From Discovery News:

‘Giraffe of the Mesozoic’ Dinosaur Unearthed in China

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Sept. 2, 2009 — Remains of a dinosaur, nicknamed the “giraffe of the Mesozoic” due to its long neck and forelimbs, were recently discovered in China, according to a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The dinosaur, Qiaowanlong kangxii, is the first Early Cretaceous brachiosaur ever found in China.

Its name refers to a famous Qing Dynasty emperor, Kangxi, and also contains the words for “bridge,” “bend in a stream,” and “dragon,” references to the site as well as a dream the emperor is said to have had.

Brachiosaurs — a family of plant-eating sauropods — are often quite big. One of the largest mounted skeletons in the world is a Brachiosaurus at the Humboldt Museum in Berlin. The new species is “relatively small” by comparison.

Co-author Hai-Lu You told Discovery News that the Chinese dinosaur stood at about 39.3 feet long, 9.8 feet tall, and weighed around 10 tons.

See also here.

Anti-gay violence in Berlusconi’s Italy


This music video from Italy says about itself:

For the first time in Italy, reggae music takes a stance against homophobia. Luciano and The Jah Messenjah Band came out in support of gay rights and the 2009 national LGBT Gay Pride to be held in Genova, Italy on 27 June 2009. The concert took place on the international day against homophobia (17 May) drawing a crowd of 3-500 revellers. Special guest: Carrol Thompson.

From ANSA news agency in Italy:

Gays alarmed by homophobic attacks

Firecracker on Gay Street marks third incident in a week

Rome, September 2 – Members of the Italian gay and lesbian community expressed alarm on Wednesday after the latest in a string of homophobic attacks.

”These are acts of terrorism from people who want us to live in hiding,” said Franco Grillini, president of gay journalists association Gaynet.

On Tuesday night, a pair of firecrackers were thrown at a crowd of people on a street known for being a popular meeting place for gays and lesbians.

Witnesses said four unidentified men ran away after the firecrackers exploded.

According to police, the blasts left one injured, a man hit in the ear by a flying shard, and damaged a scooter.

Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender activist and former PM [sic; former MP], commented that ”Rome isn’t a safe city for gays” and warned of ”a cycle of homophobic terrorism”.

Monday’s incident is the third case of homophobic violence in Italy in under a week.

Last week, a young man was stabbed in an attack near the site of Rome’s summer gay and lesbian festival. Days later, a pair of tourists in Naples were beaten up by a gang of young men. The incidents spurred a gay musician in Rome to come forward saying he’d been assaulted by a man shouting insults earlier in August.

The president of gay rights group, Arcigay, Aurelio Mancuso called on the government Wednesday to include gays and lesbians in a hate-crime law being debated in parliament.

”The absence of laws protecting gays makes dangerous fringe elements think they can get away with violence”, Mancuso said.

According to Arcigay, the number of homicide and assault cases involving homosexuals in 2009 have already surpassed those from the year before.

The organization said that it planned torchlight processions in Rome every Friday starting this week to demand that something be done.

Homophobia on Italian TV: here.

Women and ethnic minorites overrepresented in gay military ban firings in the USA: here.

USA: Sherry Wolf describes the wave of protest against two Sacramento disc jockeys who spewed hate about transgender youth: here.

Censorship of Poussin painting discovered


Poussin, Hymenaios Disguised As A Woman During An Offering To Priapus, detail

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Part of French artist Nicolas Poussin‘s painting, Hymenaios Disguised As A Woman During An Offering To Priapus, after its restoration at the Art Museum of Sao Paulo in Brazil, taken on September 1, 2009. A Brazilian art restorer discovered a new layer hidden in a centuries-old painting of the Greek god of fertility, the deity’s erect penis.

Probably that had been censored between Poussin’s time and now by someone more prude than Poussin, though not as artistic. The erect penis was essential for Priapus, marking him as the god of fertility. So, the censorship censored something central.

Somewhat similar to what Silvio Berlusconi does now to eighteenth century masterpieces.

Hymenaios was the Greek god of marriage.

The complete picture is here below.

Poussin, Hymenaios Disguised As A Woman During An Offering To Priapus

Pig discovered in Egbert van der Poel painting during restoration: here.

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ACLU: Release CIA torture documents


This video from the USA is called 5/8/09 Judge Napolitano on Fox: Bush is a felon for authorizing torture.

From London daily The Morning Star:

ACLU: Release CIA ‘torture’ documents

Wednesday 02 September 2009

by Tom Mellen

US civil rights campaigners called on Tuesday for Washington to release all documents detailing CIA abuse of “black site” detainees after the spy agency failed to turn over new papers by a court-set deadline.

Last week, a long-secret report released in response to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) shed new light on CIA torture at overseas detention camps.

Agency chiefs faced a Monday deadline to turn over more papers.

But they failed to do so, telling the federal judge in charge of the case the case that, if dozens of remaining documents are made public, it would “degrade the government’s ability to effectively question terrorist detainees and elicit information necessary to protect the American people.”

ACLU National Security Project director Jameel Jaffer observed that the CIA justification for withholding the documents “is entirely incompatible with the Obama administration’s stated commitment to ending torture and restoring governmental transparency.

“On the one hand, President Obama has publicly recognised that torture undermines the rule of law and America’s standing in the world, but on the other, the CIA continues to argue in court that it cannot disclose information about its torture techniques.”

Mr Jaffer said that the CIA arguments “are utterly disconnected from the Obama administration’s stated positions.”

In its filing, the CIA also argued that the information available to the public about the torture programme should be limited to its “historical context and legal underpinnings.”

However, the government has already released several documents that provide more than abstract detail about the interrogations.

ACLU National Security Project legal expert Alex Abdo said: “Given the vast amount of evidence that the US torture programme was widespread and systemic, it’s disappointing that the government continues to withhold these vital documents that would fill in the remaining gaps in the public record.”

Mr Abdo said that the Obama administration has to “fulfil its commitment to transparency.”

See also here.

CIA Withholding 48 Pages of Photos: here.

In over 300 pages crammed full of facts, figures, incriminating and self-incriminating quotes, Swanson’s Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union makes the following case: Bush-Cheney and their cohorts are guilty of a power grab which has inflicted near mortal wounds on the Constitution; Obama has not done nearly enough to repair the damage; Congress has collapsed, and even the Supreme Court could use some fixing up: here.

CIA doctors face human experimentation claims: here.

Physicians for Human Rights charges in a new report that medical professionals attached to the CIA participated in the torture of “terror suspects” and used prisoners as human research subjects: here.

AMNESTY declared on Wednesday that US President Barack Obama must do more to shake off the legacy of torture, impunity and unlawful detention he inherited from the previous US administration: here.

Shocking evidence has emerged that CIA medical personnel were centrally involved in torture at US detention sites such as Guantanamo: here.

Giant fossil mammal discovered in Australia


Zygomaturus tasmanicus

From BigNews Network:

Scientists unearth remains of giant hippo-like animal

IANS Wednesday 2nd September, 2009

Scientists have uncovered the remains of a giant hippo-like creature near Alcoota, a find that will shed new light on the [Northern] territory’s prehistoric past.

For 25 years, palaeontologsts from the Northern Territory (NT) Museum and Flinders University have been painstakingly extracting the remains of giant flightless birds [see also here], wombat-like creatures and crocodiles from a nearly seven million-year-old fossil site near Alcoota.

This month, they uncovered yet another important piece of Australia’s early history. They unearthed jawbones of four Zygomaturus gilli, a species ancestral to the giant hippo-like animal that roamed Australia up to 45,000 years ago, according to a Flinder’s release.

Gavin Prideaux from Flinders University said the discovery was very exciting. ‘One of the problems with Alcoota is that we’ve never been able to date it directly,’ Prideaux said.

‘These Zygomaturus gilli specimens give us a strong tie in with similar specimens found at a site to the south of Melbourne that have been dated at about five-and-a-half million years. It is going to help us lock Alcoota in to a tighter timeframe,’ he said.

The discovery gave an insight into ‘how much there is to learn just at the one site, let alone the whole of Australia,’ Prideaux said.

‘The reality is we know perhaps one percent of Australia’s fossil history. It’s like having 10 pieces in a 1,000-piece jigsaw; there’s a great temptation to reconstruct the picture based on those pieces, but the likelihood is that we’ll almost certainly get it wrong.’

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Albatrosses breeding in Antarctic


This video from South Georgia in the sub-Antarctic says about itself:

Gentoo Penguins are endlessly entertaining. See them going up to their hilltop colonies where they display, build nests, mate and bicker. Spring snowmelt fills the streams and waterfalls.

Down on the beach, where ice from nearby glaciers fill the bays, the Elephant Seals are feeding their pups. King Penguins are in amongst the tussac grass moulting. Skuas stand on their lookout on cliffs where the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross fly in effortless fashion.

From the BBC:

2 September 2009

Albatrosses set breeding record

Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

A small group of light-mantled sooty albatrosses has set a new breeding record.

The birds have created a colony on King George Island, one of the South Shetland Islands located in Antarctica.

This new breeding colony is the southernmost breeding location of any albatross species ever recorded.

Researchers spotted two confirmed nests on the island, one containing eggs and the other nestlings, and three more possible nests.

The light-mantled sooty albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata) is a medium-sized albatross that has a circumpolar distribution around the Southern Ocean.

It is the most abundant albatross in Antarctic waters and is known to range further south than other albatross species, often flying as far south as the border of the Antarctic pack ice during long-distance foraging trips.

However, it was only thought to nest on sub-Antarctic islands, lying at latitudes between 46 and 53 degrees South.

That was until Simeon Lisovski and Hans-Ulrich Peter of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, in Germany and colleagues Karel Weidinger and Vaclav Pavel of Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic discovered a new breeding colony of the birds at Fildes Peninsula on King George Island, at a latitude of 62 degrees and 12 minutes South.

In the summer season spanning 2008 and 2009, a research group led by Dr Peter saw light-mantled sooty albatrosses landing on a large 140m-high flat-topped rocky outcrop on the island.

“On Christmas day I got an unexpected call via the radio that two colleagues could observe some light-mantled sooty albatrosses landing on a very small jutty at the scarp of the rock,” says Lisovski.

So Lisovski, Weidinger and Pavel kept observing the birds, until in February this year they discovered adults at two nests. They also saw three more sitting adults, suggesting three further nests, though they couldn’t climb the rocky outcrop to confirm this.

The new breeding colony is some 1,520km away from the nearest known breeding colony of light-mantled sooty albatrosses, which is on the island of South Georgia, the team reports in the journal Polar Biology.

It is unclear why the birds are breeding so far south.

Climate change could be creating warmer and more benign conditions for the birds, the researchers speculate, though it is not yet clear whether this is the case.

Whatever the cause, the birds are likely to have a much smaller breeding window in the Antarctic.

Light-mantled sooty albatross chicks need 70 days to hatch and another 70 to become independent.

So even if they start nesting early in November, when there is no snow, the chicks will not be ready to fly until April, leaving them vulnerable to extreme weather events.

I myself have seen those beautiful birds flying over the Antarctic ocean.

[Black-browed] Albatross Camera Reveals Fascinating Feeding Interaction With Killer Whale: here. And here.

Plastic, plastic everywhere, nor any bite to eat: Pacific albatrosses feast on garbage patch offerings: here.

The importance of fish in the diet of the South Polar Skua (Stercorarius maccormicki) at the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica: here.

Pinochet’s murderers arrested


From Associated Press today:

Chile: 129 to be arrested on `dirty war’ charges

SANTIAGO, Chile — A Chilean judge has issued arrest warrants for 129 former security officials on charges tied to the disappearance of leftists and the slaying of the communist party leadership during the Pinochet dictatorship.

Judge Victor Montiglio says the 129 were members of the army, air force and uniformed police who worked for the Dina agency, which has been accused of the worst killings and other human rights violations during the 1973-90 rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

The alleged crimes were said to have been committed as part of Operation Condor, the Colombo Operation and the Street Conference, campaigns aimed at crushing leftist opponents to military regimes in Chile and other South American nations.

The arrest warrants were issued Tuesday.

Also from Associated Press:

The Street Conference case involved the killing of the top leaders of Chile’s Communist Party between April 30 and May 6 in 1976.

See also here. And here.

WASHINGTON, Apr 10, 2010 (IPS) – Five days before the assassination in downtown Washington of former Chilean Defence Minister Orlando Letelier, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger rescinded instructions to U.S. ambassadors in Latin America’s Southern Cone to warn the region’s military regimes against carrying out “a series of international murders”, according to documents released by the National Security Archive (NSA) here: here.