Utah dinosaur tracks site open to the public


This video from the USA is called Dinosaur Footprints Set For Public Display In Utah.

From Associated Press:

Site of dinosaur tracks to be unveiled

by Brady Mccombs

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – A dry wash full of 112-million-year-old dinosaur tracks that include an ankylosaurus, dromaeosaurus and a menacing ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus rex, is set to open to the public this fall in Utah.

There are more than 200 tracks near the city of Moab from 10 different ancient animals that lived during the early Cretaceous period, said Utah Bureau of Land Management paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster.

They were first discovered in 2009 by a resident. Since then, paleontologists led by a team at the University of Colorado at Denver have studied them and prepared them to go on display for the general public.

The tracks include a set of 17 consecutive footprints left by [a] Tyrannosaurus rex ancestor and the imprint of an ancient crocodile pushing off into the water.

The site is one of the largest areas of dinosaur tracks from the early Cretaceous period known to exist in North America, she said.

“We don’t usually get this,” said Hunt-Foster, a paleontologist for 16 years. “It is a beautiful track site, one of the best ones I’ve ever seen.”

There are footprints from duckbilled dinosaurs, prehistoric birds, long-necked plant eaters and a dromaeosaur similar to a velociraptor or Utahraptor that had long, sharp claws.

In one rock formation, a footprint left behind by a large plant eater is right in the middle of prints from a meat-eating theropod, Hunt-Foster said.

The imprint of an ancient crocodile shows the chest, body, tail and one foot. Paleontologists believe it was made while the crocodile was pushing off a muddy bank into water.

Paleontologists believe the tracks were made over several days in what was a shallow lake. They likely became covered by sediment that filled them up quickly enough to preserve them but gently enough not to scour them out, Hunt-Foster said. Over time, as more sediment built up, they became rock. They’re near a fault line, where the land has moved up and down over the years, she said. Rain slowly eroded away layers of the rock, exposing the footprints.

Steppe bison discovery on Texel island


This video says about itself:

BBC Monsters We Met – 1 of 3 – The Eternal Frontier

Episode 1: Eternal Frontier (Alaska, United States, North America, 14,000 years ago) Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) American Lion (Panthera leo atrox) (live-acted by a African Lioness) Homotherium (Scimitar-tooth Cat) Smilodon (Saber-tooth Cat) Megalonyx (Jefferson’s Ground Sloth) Camelops (Giant Camel) (live-acted by a Dromedary Camel) Arctodus (Short-Faced Bear) American mastodon (Mammut americanum) Steppe Bison (live-acted by an American Bison) Hagerman Horse (live-acted by a Grevy’s Zebra) American Cheetah (live-acted by a Snow Leopard) Wild horse (live-acted by a Przewalski’s Horse) Grey Wolf (live-acted) American Bison (live-acted) Andean Condor (live-acted) Brown Bear (live-acted) Muskox (live-acted) Caribou (live-acted) Saiga (live-acted) California Condor (live-acted) Dall Sheep (live-acted) … Wolverine (live-acted).

Steppe bison are an extinct species, ancestral to both today’s American bison and European bison.

Recently, a former employee of Ecomare museum found a steppe bison astralagus bone in the dunes of Texel island. Probably, it had landed there from the North Sea; which was land when steppe bison were still alive.

The discoverer gave the bone to Ecomare.

Wildlife biologists recently scanning photographs taken by a trail camera in the Uinta Mountains last winter, saw something never before captured in Utah: the first official photographs of a wolverine: here.

Leaked Document: Scientists Ordered to Scrap Plan to Protect Wolverines: here.

Barn owl nest webcam


This video from the USA is called Utah Barn Owl Nest box 2.

At a barn owl nest on Texel island in the Netherlands, there is a webcam. It is here.

Bahamas barn owls: here.

Male Mormons exclude women


This video is called USA: Mormon women march for gender equality in church.

From Reuters news agency:

Mormons exclude women seeking ordination from male-only meeting

• Campaigners seek admission of women to lay priesthood
Ordain Women brave bad weather to press case

Salt Lake City

Sunday 6 April 2014 15.05 BST

Hundreds of Mormon women who want ecclesiastical equality were denied admittance to a male-only session of their faith’s spring conference on Saturday, in their attempt [to] promote the ordination of women into the lay priesthood.

Adorned in purple, members of Ordain Women marched through a hailstorm from a park to the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, the heart of a four-block campus that is the global home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were seeking unfilled seats at the evening priesthood meeting at the faith’s biannual conference.

This follows the group’s attempt last autumn to gain admittance to the meeting. The actions have led to tensions between church officials and the women, who say they are steadfast in their faith but want to play a more significant role in the life of a religion that claims over 15 million adherents worldwide.

One by one, the women and some male supporters were politely turned away by a church spokeswoman. High school student Emma Tueller, 16, fought back tears after the rejection, which came with a hug from the church representative, who encouraged her to watch the proceedings of the meeting online.

Tueller, a resident of Provo, Utah, joined Ordain Women in the previous action last autumn. “This time it was more painful,” she said. “I love this church and I think my personal gifts and my personal talents could be much better utilised if I had the priesthood.”

In advance of Saturday’s event, church officials had asked Ordain Women to refrain from bringing their cause to Temple Square, saying it would detract from the “spirit of harmony” at the two-day conference, which includes four events open to both genders and the male-only priesthood meeting. In a statement late on Saturday, church officials expressed displeasure with what they called the women’s “refusal to accept ushers’ directions and refusing to leave when asked”.

Ordain Women has objected to being characterized by the church as protesters. “We’re not activists. We’re not protesters,” said Kate Kelly, a Washington, DC-based human rights attorney and lifetime Mormon who last year co-founded the group with about 20 other women. “We’re people on the inside. We are investing in an institution … not critiquing it to tear it down,” she said.

Men ordained to the priesthood in the Mormon church can perform religious rituals, including baptisms, confirmations or blessings and can be called to lead congregations. Boys enter into the priesthood as deacons at age 12 and grow in authority and responsibility as they get older or are called to service by more senior church leaders.

Initially, about 200 people appeared to be taking part in the action, but a spokeswoman for the group put the number of participants at 510.

Women are powerless in matters of church governance and can make no autonomous decisions, even at the highest levels, Kelly said.

Church officials declined an interview request in advance of Saturday’s event.

“Ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organisation for His Church,” said last month’s church letter to the group.

Outside the gates to Temple Square, church member Nate Brown said he does not object to the idea of women in the priesthood, but does not like the tactics of Ordain Women. “I perceive [their asking] not as a civil action, but more of a challenge of church leaders,” said Brown, 59, who came from Salem, Oregon, for the conference.

Brown is not alone. A 2011 Pew Research study found Mormons overwhelmingly disapprove of women joining the lay priesthood.

But Brown said he would welcome the ordination of women if a church president, whom Mormons consider a prophet who communicates with God, changed church policies. “I believe in following the prophet,” Brown said.

Since Ordain Women first pushed their cause last fall, church leaders have taken some actions to show their regard for women. For the first time, a woman was asked to pray at the conference and the men’s priesthood meeting was broadcast live on cable television and the internet.

That is a far cry from the 1990s when the faith’s leaders excommunicated some women who advocated for gender equity, said Nadine Hansen, a lifetime church member and an attorney who published her first article about women’s ordination nearly 30 years ago. “I appreciate the changes they are making,” said Hansen. “They are listening.”

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Indian court re-activates British colonial anti-LGBTQ law


This video is called Indian LGBT activists protest against gay sex ban.

By Kranti Kumara in India:

India’s Supreme Court re-criminalizes homosexuality

28 December 2013

India’s Supreme Court has struck down a 2009 Delhi High Court ruling that declared unconstitutional a section of the Indian penal code, adopted in 1860, that criminalized private consensual sex among gay men and women, as well as some sexual acts between men and women. As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, men and women alleged to have engaged in homosexual acts can be arrested and prosecuted and, if found guilty, could be liable to life imprisonment.

The ruling upholding the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was issued by a two-judge panel of the Supreme Court in response to a legal challenge to the Delhi High Court ruling launched by Hindu, Muslim, and Christian groups.

In affirming the constitutionality of Section 377 and its claim that homosexual acts are “against the order of nature,” India’s highest court is encouraging unbridled anti-homosexual bigotry on the part of backward social layers. It is also exposing India’s gays to the danger of harassment, arrest, and blackmail from India’s police, which are notorious for their corruption and use of arbitrary beatings and torture.

That such dangers are far from hypothetical was strikingly displayed by a September raid mounted by Andhra Pradesh police on a party of gay men. Although the Delhi High Court ruling had made Section 377 inoperative, the police justified their raid in the name of stopping “illegal and obscene” acts.

In Malaysia, a similar provision—based on the colonialist British Indian penal code and also known as Section 377—was used by Malaysian authorities to jail the former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, after he had a falling out with the country’s longtime prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamed.

Section 377 was included in the Penal Code imposed on India by British colonial authorities in the early 1860s, as London sought to strengthen its control in the aftermath of the 1857-58 “Mutiny,” a mass rebellion against British rule that engulfed much of northern India.

In addition to proscribing homosexual acts, Section 377 declared a long list of heterosexual acts, including oral sex, criminal.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court, invoking as legal precedent court-rulings in several western countries, found this Victorian-era, colonialist law to be in violation of articles 14, 15 and 21 of India’s constitution, which guarantee equality before law, prohibition against discrimination, and protection of life and personal liberty.

In striking down the Delhi High Court decision, the two-justice Supreme Court panel advanced the specious claim that Section 377 could not be found to be discriminatory because it does not exclusively target homosexuals, since it also outlaws some sexual acts between heterosexuals.

“It is relevant to mention here,” wrote Justice Sanghvi, “that Section 377 … does not criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation. It merely identifies certain acts, which if committed, would constitute an offence. Such prohibition regulates sexual conduct regardless of gender identity and orientation.”

In other words, India’s highest court continues to insist that the state has the legal-constitutional power to regulate the private sexual activities of consenting adults, including declaring some activities criminal.

Knowing full well that their decision would be met with widespread opposition and outrage, the Supreme Court justices said parliament has the legislative power to eliminate Section 377. In the context of their ruling, however, this admission only serves to underline their upholding of the state’s power to regulate consensual sexual activity.

Four years ago, the Delhi High Court ruling was widely hailed by both Indian and international gay rights organizations and much of the corporate media. They were euphoric over the fact that the judgment finally removed the stigma associated with homosexuality in a country where the ruling elite has long encouraged and buttressed sexual repression to the point where heterosexuals kissing in public or on the cinema screen is condemned.

However, India’s judiciary, as the Supreme Court ruling over Section 377 has again demonstrated, is no ally in the fight to extend democratic rights. On the contrary, over the last two decades and in lockstep with the Indian bourgeoisie’s turn ever further to the right, open celebration of mounting social inequality and demand for the abolition of all regulatory impediments on profit-making, India’s Supreme Court has issued one reactionary judgment after another—judgments in which the court has pandered to Hindu fundamentalists and communalist reaction and attacked the democratic rights of the working class.

To recall just a few of the most significant:

By refusing to take a firm stand against violent Hindu fundamentalists, the court essentially countenanced the 1992 destruction of the Babri Masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh—an act that provoked the worst communal bloodletting in Indian since Partition. The senior leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), especially then party leader L.K. Advani, openly exhorted mobs of communalists to raze the historic mosque; yet to this day none of the BJP leaders and their allies in the leadership of the Hindu supremacist VHP and RSS have been called to account for violating the Court’s own injunction prohibiting any attack on the Masjid.

Three years later, the Supreme Court bestowed a stamp of respectability on Hindutva, the termed coined by the Hindu supremacist ideologue V.D. Savarkar and used by the BJP and its allied organizations to refer to their noxious communalist ideology. The court claimed that Hindutva was not at odds with the secular values propounded in India’s constitution; it merely signifies a broader “Indian culture” that supposedly subsumes Muslim, Sikh, Christian and other minority religions.

Giving credence to religious mumbo-jumbo, the court in 2007 claimed that the natural chain of limestone shoals between the coast of India and Sri Lanka could have been “built by the ancients” in a case concerning a plan to deepen the channel between the two countries so as to facilitate shipping. The VHP (World Hindu Council) had been agitating against the project, not because of the environmental damage it would cause, but on the grounds that the limestone shoals were in fact a bridge built by an army of monkeys as depicted in the Hindu mythical classic Ramayana and hence “holy”.

India’s Supreme Court has also repeatedly issued authoritarian judgments. In 2003 it sanctioned the Tamil Nadu government’s efforts to break a state employees’ strike through mass arrests and firings, ruling that public sector workers have no right to strike. In 2007, it declared “bandhs”—24- or 48-hour political general strikes—illegal.

That same year, it issued a sweeping ban on protests and even public debate concerning the dangers shipyard workers would be subjected to if they were made to dismantle the toxic-laden, retired French aircraft carrier Clemenceau. [See HYPERLINK Indian Supreme Court imposes sweeping ban on public debate on toxic warship]

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of Section 377 and re-criminalizing homosexuality has been hailed by the Official Opposition BJP and by various religious organizations including Muslim and Christian groups.

The behavior of India’s Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government has, on the other hand, been utterly dishonest and duplicitous.

While the government reacted with silence to the 2009 Delhi High Court ruling, Congress Party leaders, including party President Sonia Gandhi, her son and the presumptive Congress Prime Ministerial candidate, Rahul Gandhi, and Finance Minister Chidambaram have all criticized the Supreme Court decision. But the government has no intention of legislating Section 377 out of existence, fearing such action might damage its electoral chances. Instead, it intends to mount a legal challenge, appealing for the Supreme Court to rehear the case, a process that could drag on for years, during which Section 377 will remain in force. Moreover, given the court’s long record of sanctioning attacks on democratic rights and pandering to the Hindu right there is no guarantee whatsoever that the whole court will not endorse the reactionary ruling of the two-judge panel.

This ambivalent response is in keeping with the two-faced attitude that the Congress and the government have taken all along. The UPA’s Additional Solicitor-General, P.P. Malhotra, argued before the Supreme Court that as per the government homosexual sex is “highly immoral and against the social order” and furthermore it is “against nature and spreads HIV”.

Only after a firestorm of criticism from gay activists and politically liberal commentators did the UPA backtrack and claim that Malhotra’s statement did not reflect the government’s views.

Indian High Court Criminalizes Homosexuality: here.

Utah Plans To Spend $2 Million In Taxpayer Dollars To Defend Anti-Gay Discrimination: here.

NSA spying on five billion cellphone calls a day


This video from the USA says about itself:

National Security Agency Whistleblower William Binney on Growing State Surveillance

20 Apr 2012

DemocracyNow.org – In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over the its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA‘s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency including private emails, cell phone calls and Google searches and other personal data.

Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA‘s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001 he has warned that the NSA‘s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show

By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Wednesday, December 4, 9:18 PM

The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.

The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool.

(Video: How the NSA uses cellphone tracking to find and ‘develop’ targets)

The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones “incidentally,” a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.

One senior collection manager, speaking on condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data is often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.

In scale, scope and potential impact on privacy, the efforts to collect and analyze location data may be unsurpassed among the NSA surveillance programs that have been disclosed since June. Analysts can find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among individuals using them.

(Graphic: How the NSA is tracking people right now)

The NSA has no reason to suspect that the movements of the overwhelming majority of cellphone users would be relevant to national security. Rather, it collects locations in bulk because its most powerful analytic tools — known collectively as CO-TRAVELER — allow it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.

Still, location data, especially when aggregated over time, is widely regarded among privacy advocates as uniquely sensitive. Sophisticated mathematical techniques enable NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths. Cellphones broadcast their locations even when they are not being used to place a call or send a text.

US tracks billions of cell phone location records daily: here.

New carnivorous dinosaur discovery in Utah, USA


This video from the USA is called Siats – The New Mega-predatory Dinosaur.

From the North Carolina State University in the USA:

Colossal New Predatory Dino Terrorized Early Tyrannosaurs

For Immediate Release

Tracey Peake

Release Date: 11.22.13

A new species of carnivorous dinosaur – one of the three largest ever discovered in North America – lived alongside and competed with small-bodied tyrannosaurs 98 million years ago. This newly discovered species, Siats meekerorum, (pronounced see-atch) was the apex predator of its time, and kept tyrannosaurs from assuming top predator roles for millions of years.

Named after a cannibalistic man-eating monster from Ute tribal legend, Siats is a species of carcharodontosaur, a group of giant meat-eaters that includes some of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever discovered. The only other carcharodontosaur known from North America is Acrocanthosaurus, which roamed eastern North America more than 10 million years earlier. Siats is only the second carcharodontosaur ever discovered in North America; Acrocanthosaurus, discovered in 1950, was the first.

“It’s been 63 years since a predator of this size has been named from North America,” says Lindsay Zanno, a North Carolina State University paleontologist with a joint appointment at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and lead author of a Nature Communications paper describing the find. “You can’t imagine how thrilled we were to see the bones of this behemoth poking out of the hillside.”

Zanno and colleague Peter Makovicky, from Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, discovered the partial skeleton of the new predator in Utah’s Cedar Mountain Formation in 2008. The species name acknowledges the Meeker family for its support of early career paleontologists at the Field Museum, including Zanno.

The recovered specimen belonged to an individual that would have been more than 30 feet long and weighed at least four tons. Despite its giant size, these bones are from a juvenile. Zanno and Makovicky theorize that an adult Siats might have reached the size of Acrocanthosaurus, meaning the two species vie for the second largest predator ever discovered in North America. Tyrannosaurus rex, which holds first place, came along 30 million years later and weighed in at more than twice that amount.

Although Siats and Acrocanthosaurus are both carcharodontosaurs, they belong to different sub-groups. Siats is a member of Neovenatoridae, a more slender-bodied group of carcharodontosaurs. Neovenatorids have been found in Europe, South America, China, Japan and Australia. However, this is the first time a neovenatorid has ever been found in North America.

Siats terrorized what is now Utah during the Late Cretaceous period (100 million years ago to 66 million years ago). It was previously unknown who the top meat-eater was in North America during this period. “Carcharodontosaurs reigned for much longer in North America than we expected,” says Zanno. In fact, Siats fills a gap of more than 30 million years in the fossil record, during which time the top predator role changed hands from carcharodontosaurs in the Early Cretaceous to tyrannosaurs in the Late Cretaceous.

The lack of fossils left paleontologists unsure about when this change happened and if tyrannosaurs outcompeted carcharodontosaurs, or were simply able to assume apex predator roles following carcharodontosaur extinction. It is now clear that Siats’ large size would have prevented smaller tyrannosaurs from taking their place atop the food chain.

“The huge size difference certainly suggests that tyrannosaurs were held in check by carcharodontosaurs, and only evolved into enormous apex predators after the carcharodontosaurs disappeared,” says Makovicky. Zanno adds, “Contemporary tyrannosaurs would have been no more than a nuisance to Siats, like jackals at a lion kill. It wasn’t until carcharodontosaurs bowed out that the stage could be set for the evolution of T. rex.”

At the time Siats reigned, the landscape was lush, with abundant vegetation and water supporting a variety of plant-eating dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, and giant lungfish. Other predators inhabited this ecosystem, including early tyrannosaurs and several species of other feathered dinosaurs that have yet to be described by the team. “We have made more exciting discoveries including two new species of dinosaur,” Makovicky says.

“Stay tuned,” adds Zanno. “There are a lot more cool critters where Siats came from.”

All fieldwork was conducted under permits through the Bureau of Land Management and funded by the Field Museum. Research was funded by North Carolina State University, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Field Museum.

-peake-

Note to editors: Abstract of the paper follows.

“Neovenatorid theropods are apex predators in the Late Cretaceous of North America”

Authors: Lindsay E. Zanno, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences; Peter J. Makovicky, Department of Geology, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
Published: Nov. 22, 2013 in Nature Communications

Abstract:

Allosauroid theropods were a diverse and widespread radiation of Jurassic-Cretaceous megapredators. Achieving some of the largest body sizes among theropod dinosaurs, these colossal hunters dominated terrestrial ecosystems until a faunal turnover redefined apex predator guild occupancy during the final 20 million years of the Cretaceous.

Here we describe a giant new species of allosauroid—Siats meekerorum gen. et sp. nov.—providing the first evidence for the cosmopolitan clade Neovenatoridae in North America. Siats is the youngest allosauroid yet discovered from the continent and demonstrates that the clade endured there into the Late Cretaceous. The discovery provides new evidence for ecologic sympatry of large allosauroids and small-bodied tyrannosauroids. These data support the hypothesis that extinction of Allosauroidea in terrestrial ecosystems of North America permitted ecological release of tyrannosauroids, which went on to dominate end Cretaceous food webs.

See also here.

Photos: New dinosaur discovered: here.