This 11 May 2022 photo is from the main island of the Marker Wadden archipelago, in Flevoland province in the Netherlands.
It shows mating common terns.
The photo series about these two birds is here.
This 15 May 2022 video says about itself:
An 18-year-old white gunman opened fire at a supermarket in a Black neighbourhood in the US city of Buffalo, killing 10 people in what authorities called an act of “racially motivated violent extremism”.
From the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in the USA today:
Yesterday, an 18-year-old white supremacist shot and killed at least 10 individuals in a shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that law enforcement is treating as a hate crime. In response, LDF President and Director-Counsel Janai S. Nelson issued the following statement:
“We send our deepest condolences to the victims of the racially-motivated shooting targeting Black people in Buffalo, New York. This horrific rampage is another in the long line of distinctly American mass shootings that combine racism and gun violence. This is a deepening crisis for which we must be prepared to make all the necessary sacrifices to peacefully bring to an end the scourge of hate.
“Black Americans are the leading targets for hate crimes in our country, but we also continue to witness increases in anti-Semitic attacks, as well as violence against the Latino, Asian, Muslim, and LGBTQ+ communities. The frequency and intensity of this violence has been super charged in part by social media, which provides a virtually unchecked platform for hate speech and the encouragement of violent actions. And, as we have seen by the number of attacks that have been live-streamed, a built-in audience for hate.
“Social media companies are not alone in having created this environment, however, as cable television has increasingly become a home for what were once seen as extremist views. Indeed, the Great Replacement Theory, which a shocking one in three Americans now believes to be true, has found a mainstream home on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program after being previously cited by four mass shooters – including those who committed the heinous crimes in Oslo, Norway; Christchurch, New Zealand; Dayton, Ohio; and El Paso, Texas.
“Unless we want to be a nation riven by increasing violence and terror, all of us – not just those of us who are the targets – must act now to end the propagation of hate speech and unchecked access to militaristic weapons that are trained on our communities.”
BUFFALO SUSPECT EMBRACED RACIST ‘REPLACEMENT’ CONSPIRACY PUSHED BY TUCKER CARLSON The teenager charged in the fatal shooting at a Buffalo supermarket was haunted in his writing by the “great replacement” conspiracy theory — a viciously racist view of the world that has been touted by Fox News host Tucker Carlson that white Americans are at risk of being replaced by people of color. The No. 3 House Republican, Elise Stefanik, also echoed the racist conspiracy. The accused shooter had threatened a shooting at his high school in June. [HuffPost]
BUFFALO SUSPECT PLANNED SECOND KILL SITE The white gunman accused of a racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket planned to keep killing at a second location if he escaped the first scene, the police commissioner said. Authorities investigated the massacre of Black people as a hate crime and act of domestic terrorism. The troubled gunman’s legal purchase of an assault-style rifle raises new questions about so-called red flag laws. And the continuing rash of American mass killings shows “you can’t even go to the damn store in peace,” as a Buffalo resident put it. [AP]
On 5 March 2022, thousands at a demonstration of the Dutch Stop the War coalition of various pacifist organisations in The Hague, against the Russia-Ukraine war.
On the Malieveld, people formed a big peace sign, as the photo shows.
Speakers at the rally included Lilian Marijnissen MP, parliamentary Socialist Party chair; Esther Ouwehand MP, parliamentary chair of the Party for the Animals; Inna, a Ukrainian woman; and a Russian pro-peace woman, Svetlana.
This 22 March 2022 photo shows four male and one female tufted ducks on a lake near Loosdrecht in the Netherlands.
From ScienceDaily, 23 December 2021, by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in the USA:
The two-meter skull of a newly discovered species of giant ichthyosaur, the earliest known, is shedding new light on the marine reptiles’ rapid growth into behemoths of the Dinosaurian oceans, and helping us better understand the journey of modern cetaceans (whales and dolphins) to becoming the largest animals to ever inhabit the Earth.
While dinosaurs ruled the land, ichthyosaurs and other aquatic reptiles (that were emphatically not dinosaurs) ruled the waves, reaching similarly gargantuan sizes and species diversity. Evolving fins and hydrodynamic body-shapes seen in both fish and whales, ichthyosaurs swam the ancient oceans for nearly the entirety of the Age of Dinosaurs.
“Ichthyosaurs derive from an as yet unknown group of land-living reptiles and were air-breathing themselves,” says lead author Dr. Martin Sander, paleontologist at the University of Bonn and Research Associate with the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM). “From the first skeleton discoveries in southern England and Germany over 250 years ago, these ‘fish-saurians’ were among the first large fossil reptiles known to science, long before the dinosaurs, and they have captured the popular imagination ever since.”
Excavated from a rock unit called the Fossil Hill Member in the Augusta Mountains of Nevada, the well-preserved skull, along with part of the backbone, shoulder, and forefin, date back to the Middle Triassic (247.2-237 million years ago), representing the earliest case of an ichthyosaur reaching epic proportions. As big as a large sperm whale at more than 17 meters (55.78 feet) long, the newly named Cymbospondylus youngorum is the largest animal yet discovered from that time period, on land or in the sea. In fact, it was the first giant creature to ever inhabit the Earth that we know of.
“The importance of the find was not immediately apparent,” notes Dr. Sander, “because only a few vertebrae were exposed on the side of the canyon. However, the anatomy of the vertebrae suggested that the front end of the animal might still be hidden in the rocks. Then, one cold September day in 2011, the crew needed a warm-up and tested this suggestion by excavation, finding the skull, forelimbs, and chest region.”
The new name for the species, C. youngorum, honors a happy coincidence, the sponsoring of the fieldwork by Great Basin Brewery of Reno, owned and operated by Tom and Bonda Young, the inventors of the locally famous Icky beer which features an ichthyosaur on its label.
In other mountain ranges of Nevada, paleontologists have been recovering fossils from the Fossil Hill Member’s limestone, shale, and siltstone since 1902, opening a window into the Triassic. The mountains connect our present to ancient oceans and have produced many species of ammonites, shelled ancestors of modern cephalopods like cuttlefish and octopuses, as well as marine reptiles. All these animal specimens are collectively known as the Fossil Hill Fauna, representing many of C. youngorum’s prey and competitors.
C. youngorum stalked the oceans some 246 million years ago, or only about three million years after the first ichthyosaurs got their fins wet, an amazingly short time to get this big. The elongated snout and conical teeth suggest that C. youngorum preyed on squid and fish, but its size meant that it could have hunted smaller and juvenile marine reptiles as well.
The giant predator probably had some hefty competition. Through sophisticated computational modeling, the authors examined the likely energy running through the Fossil Hill Fauna’s food web, recreating the ancient environment through data, finding that marine food webs were able to support a few more colossal meat-eating ichthyosaurs. Ichthyosaurs of different sizes and survival strategies proliferated, comparable to modern cetaceans’ — from relatively small dolphins to massive filter-feeding baleen whales, and giant squid-hunting sperm whales.
Co-author and ecological modeler Dr. Eva Maria Griebeler from the University of Mainz in Germany notes, “due to their large size and resulting energy demands, the densities of the largest ichthyosaurs from the Fossil Hill Fauna including C. youngourum must have been substantially lower than suggested by our field census. The ecological functioning of this food web from ecological modeling was very exciting as modern highly productive primary producers were absent in Mesozoic food webs and were an important driver in the size evolution of whales.”
Whales and ichthyosaurs share more than a size range. They have similar body plans, and both initially arose after mass extinctions. These similarities make them scientifically valuable for comparative study. The authors combined computer modeling and traditional paleontology to study how these marine animals reached record-setting sizes independently.
“One rather unique aspect of this project is the integrative nature of our approach. We first had to describe the anatomy of the giant skull in detail and determine how this animal is related to other ichthyosaurs,” says senior author Dr. Lars Schmitz, Associate Professor of Biology at Scripps College and Dinosaur Institute Research Associate. “We did not stop there, as we wanted to understand the significance of the new discovery in the context of the large-scale evolutionary pattern of ichthyosaur and whale body sizes, and how the fossil ecosystem of the Fossil Hill Fauna may have functioned. Both the evolutionary and ecological analyses required a substantial amount of computation, ultimately leading to a confluence of modeling with traditional paleontology.”
They found that while both cetaceans and ichthyosaurs evolved very large body sizes, their respective evolutionary trajectories toward gigantism were different. Ichthyosaurs had an initial boom in size, becoming giants early on in their evolutionary history, while whales took much longer to reach the outer limits of huge. They found a connection between large size and raptorial hunting — think of a sperm whale diving down to hunt giant squid — and a connection between large size and a loss of teeth — think of the giant filter-feeding whales that are the largest animals ever to live on Earth.
Ichthyosaurs’ initial foray into gigantism was likely thanks to the boom in ammonites and jawless eel-like conodonts filling the ecological void following the end-Permian mass extinction. While their evolutionary routes were different, both whales and ichthyosaurs relied on exploiting niches in the food chain to make it really big.
“As researchers, we often talk about similarities between ichthyosaurs and cetaceans, but rarely dive into the details. That’s one way this study stands out, as it allowed us to explore and gain some additional insight into body size evolution within these groups of marine tetrapods,” says NHM’s Associate Curator of Mammalogy (Marine Mammals), Dr. Jorge Velez-Juarbe. “Another interesting aspect is that Cymbospondylus youngorum and the rest of the Fossil Hill Fauna are a testament to the resilience of life in the oceans after the worst mass extinction in Earth’s history. You can say this is the first big splash for tetrapods in the oceans.”
C. youngorum will be permanently housed at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where it is currently on view.
This 30 December 2021 video about the USA says about itself:
Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty on sex trafficking charges after allegedly recruiting and grooming girls for sexual exploitation by Jeffrey Epstein.
GHISLAINE MAXWELL FOUND GUILTY IN SEX ABUSE TRIAL British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on five counts in her trial for luring teenage girls to be sexually abused by the American millionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell faces years in prison — an outcome long sought by women who spent years fighting in civil courts to hold her accountable for her role in recruiting and grooming Epstein‘s victims. [AP]
This 20 November 2021 MSNBC video from the USA says about itself:
Legal analyst Maya Wiley On Rittenhouse Verdict: ‘We’re In More Danger Today Than Yesterday’
From the Legal Defence Fund of the NAACP in the USA:
Today, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on three counts of first-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon for the respective killings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, as well as the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz in August 2020.
In response, LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill issued the following statement:
“Kyle Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, [crossing state lines] in response to protests over the unjust police shooting of Jacob Blake and armed himself with a semi-automatic rifle he believed was unlawful for him to own. Rittenhouse lied about being a medical professional, then shot and killed two people while injuring a third. Despite numerous confrontations in the streets on Kenosha and the presence of other armed individuals, Rittenhouse was the only person who shot and killed someone that night. After Rittenhouse shot multiple people and called his friend stating, ‘I just killed someone,’ he then approached law enforcement officers and apparently disobeyed their commands; but was still able to walk away without being arrested.
“Fifteen days prior to that deadly evening, Rittenhouse was recorded saying that he wished he had his rifle in order to shoot some men he believed were shoplifters. Months after the shootings in Kenosha, Rittenhouse was seen at a bar flashing a white power sign as men reportedly sang the anthem of the white nationalist Proud Boys group to him. Wisconsin’s guns laws have been repeatedly loosened, strengthening the ability to carry openly in 2011, and loosening other protections in 2015, opening the door for people to brazenly transport and carry weapons, including semi-automatic rifles, with[out] substantial protections.
“Rittenhouse’s actions before, after, and during that night in Kenosha, and the impunity afforded to his actions do not exist in isolation from the larger context of racism, lax gun laws, and the deep flaws in our criminal justice system that so powerfully shape public life in this country.
“We should not forget that these killings took place amid protests in Kenosha. The history of protest is integral to the fight for racial justice in this country and there remains a concerted attack to encroach on this right. Rittenhouse’s conduct must be understood within an environment in which armed militias and vigilantes are acting to silence protesters, and where state legislatures have advanced anti-protest bills in the aftermath of demonstrations calling for racial justice.
“While the actions of all parties during the trial will be scrutinized over time, the acquittal of Rittenhouse on all charges, and the lauding of him as a hero, by right-wing elected leaders and others, will embolden would-be vigilantes who intimidate protestors demanding racial justice to believe that they can escape accountability for their violence.”
This 2017 video from the USA says about itself:
THESE CORPORATIONS FUNDED CO-SPONSORS OF OHIO’S PROPOSED ABORTION BAN A number of health care companies and major corporations have made campaign contributions to two dozen Ohio state lawmakers who are co-sponsoring new legislation to ban abortion in the state. The list includes health care companies such as Pfizer, Anthem, Molina Healthcare and Merck. [HuffPost]
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN OKLAHOMA ABORTION PROVIDER Since Texas banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, a doctor at Planned Parenthood’s Tulsa clinic has been working nonstop to accommodate the influx of Texans. “I worry a lot,” Dr. Joshua Yap said. “What if I get sick or if I become incapacitated? I can’t take a day off knowing that people are driving, sometimes eight to nine hours, to get to our clinic.” [HuffPost]