Mubarak dictatorship kills Egyptians

This video is called Egypt police fire tear gas as rioting erupts in Cairo.

From the BBC:

25 January 2011 Last updated at 20:55 GMT

Egypt protests: Three reported dead in ‘day of revolt’

At least three people have been killed during a day of RARE anti-government protests in Egypt, reports say.

In Cairo, where the biggest rallies were held, state TV said a policeman had died in clashes. Two protesters died in Suez, doctors there said.

Thousands joined the protests after an internet campaign inspired by the uprising in Tunisia.

In Cairo, police used tear gas and water cannon in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

Activists had called for a “day of revolt” in a web message. Protests are uncommon in Egypt, which President Hosni Mubarak has ruled since 1981, tolerating little dissent.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her administration supported “the fundamental right of expression and assembly” and urged all parties “to exercise restraint”.

She added that Washington believed the Egyptian government was “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”.

What a touching naivity of Ms Clinton [sarcasm off]. Considering that Ms Clinton considers Italian corrupt autocrat Silvio Berlusconi to be her “best friend” … and Uzbek dictator Karimov, notorious for boiling people alive, also a very good friend … and just deposed Tunisian dictator Ben Ali a very good friend until the people drove him to Saudi Arabia … it is not really surprising that Egypt’s torturing and murderous dictator Mubarak is a friend of Ms Clinton as well.

The events in Cairo were co-ordinated on a Facebook page – tens of thousands of supporters clicked on the page to say they would take part.

Reports said the social networking site Twitter had been blocked in Egypt and that mobile phone networks in the Cairo area were down.

The Swedish-based website Bambuser, which streams video from mobile phones, said it had been blocked in Egypt. On its blog, it accused Egyptian officials of trying to control the news agenda.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo said rallies had been held in several parts of the capital, and the turnout had been more than the organisers could have hoped.

Police were taken aback by the anger of the crowd and let protesters make their way to the parliament building, he says.

There police regrouped in full riot gear with tear gas and water cannon and temporarily drove the crowd back. However, protesters threw stones and stood their ground, pushing the police back until they were on the run.

Protests also broke out in other areas, including the eastern city of Ismailiya and the northern port city of Alexandria.

In Alexandria, witnesses said thousands joined the protests, some chanting: “Revolution, revolution, like a volcano, against Mubarak the coward.”

From RFI English radio:

Egypt: Protesters Say Tunisia is the Solution

25 January 2011

Thousands of Egyptians defied their government to join protests Tuesday. Police fired teargas and attacked protesters, demonstrators told RFI of being beaten by police.

“The security forces have been beating the protesters. I myself I’ve been beaten up,” says protester Mohamed Hamama, whose hand was injured by police in Mansoura city.

“People are trying to get through the cordons,” he adds. “We don’t know what’s next. The security forces are very aggressive against us, some people have been arrested.”

He estimates there are at least 15,000 protesters in Mansoura, which is some 100 kilometres north of the capital Cairo.

In Cairo, there are protesters of all ages, according to protester Mohammed Rahhal.

“We know that what’s happening is wrong and we’re asking for the end of the actions of the regime and of the brutality of the emergency laws,” Rahhal told RFI. “A lot of people are on their first demonstration, which is really, really heart-warming.”

Inspired by the example of Tunisian uprising, they chanted lines from Tunisian poet Abul Qassem Al-Shabi: “If, one day, a people desires to live, then fate will answer their call.

“And their night will then begin to fade, and their chains break and fall.”

In Cairo, demonstrators marched towards the central Tahrir Square and down the Corniche, chanting “Down with Mubarak”. President Hosni Mubarak has been in power for three decades.

Some 20,000 to 30,000 police are deployed in the capital Cairo, as protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court with large signs that read “Tunisia is the solution”.

People are calling for Mubarak to leave the country, for freedom, social justice, an end to corruption and better salaries.

“At the beginning it was relatively under control and the police didn’t intervene,” says correspondent Alexandre Buccianti. “And then when the number had grown the police intervened with water canons and tear gas. People are still chanting and the police are firing tear gas.”

The Interior Ministry has warned that it would deal “firmly” with all those who behave illegally.

The protest was organised on Facebook by groups of mainly young people, Buccianti adds. By Monday, almost 100,000 people had said they would join the protests. Opposition party the Muslim Brotherhood endorsed the protests, but the main group behind the demonstrations is Kefaya, the Egyptian Movement for Change.

“Today the words you could hear most were ‘Mubarak Out’, even in English,” says Buccianti. “I even saw some Tunisian flags and the Egyptians are hoping to do what Tunisia managed to do.”

Mohamed Hamama in Mansoura agrees:

“Tens of thousands of protesters are streaming down the street, chanting against Hosni Mubarak, chanting against the corruption,” he says.

“They are living so miserably, their salaries are very far below the poverty line. The Tunisian example has proved that people in the streets can change the system and change the regime.”

Al Jazeera report here.

New York Times report here.

Jeffrey Fleishman, The Los Angeles Times: “Thousands of Egyptian protesters inspired by the revolt in Tunisia rushed police and battled tear gas Tuesday in demonstrations against the political repression and unemployment that have defined three decades of rule by President Hosni Mubarak. Groups of protesters marched through downtown Cairo, crossing bridges and outflanking riot police as the crowds headed for a square a few blocks from the parliament building. Security forces, which had shown unusual restraint early in the day, swung batons and clashed with demonstrators amid chants of ‘Freedom’ and ‘Down with Mubarak'”: here.

Juan Cole, “Here’s one obvious lesson of the Tunisian Revolution of 2011: paranoia about Muslim fundamentalist movements and terrorism is causing Washington to make bad choices that will ultimately harm American interests and standing abroad. State Department cable traffic from capitals throughout the Greater Middle East, made public thanks to WikiLeaks, shows that U.S. policy-makers have a detailed and profound picture of the depths of corruption and nepotism that prevail among some ‘allies’ in the region”: here.


Sumatran clouded leopards, a distinct subspecies

This WWF video is called Bornean clouded leopard.

From Wildlife Extra:

New subspecies of Clouded leopard recognised from Sumatra

25/01/2011 11:03:11

Delving into the past of a big cat – researchers re-define the clouded leopard

January 2011. Using genetic and morphological analyses, an international team of researchers led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, has recently demonstrated that the clouded leopard (Neofelis) should not only be classified into two species, but that one these comprises two distinct subspecies.

Sub species – Sunda Clouded leopard

As shown already in 2006, Clouded leopards (the genus Neofelis) are actually two species living with distinct distributions. Clouded leopards from Borneo and Sumatra are genetically and morphologically highly distinct from their relatives on the mainland (Neofelis nebulosa) and thus form a separate species, the Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi).

Split during ice-age

Following up on these findings, a team of researchers led by Andreas Wilting and Joerns Fickel of the IZW collected fur and bone samples of the clouded leopard from natural history museums worldwide, with the aim of elucidating to what extent the spatially distinct populations of the Sunda clouded leopard have followed different evolutionary paths. “Although we suspected that Sunda clouded leopards on Borneo and Sumatra have probably been geographically separated since the last Ice Age, it was not known whether this long isolation had caused them to split up into separate sub-species”, explains Wilting.

Look very similar

In the course of their study, the researchers were able to demonstrate considerable genetic differences between the two populations. Dissimilarities between populations were also found with regard to skull morphology, as shown by Per Christiansen of the University of Aalborg, Denmark, a co-author of the study. In contrast, a comparison of coat colour patterns conducted by Andrew Kitchener from National Museums Scotland yielded only small deviations between the populations – the authors surmise that this finding could be attributed to the highly similar tropical habitats on Borneo and Sumatra. Based on these distinct patterns of genetic and morphological variation, the researchers have now formally described two subspecies of the Sunda clouded leopard: one occurring exclusively in Sumatra, the other being endemic to Borneo.

Separated from mainland 75000 years ago

“So far we can only speculate about the specific course of events in the evolution of the clouded leopard”, says Joerns Fickel. The scientists postulate that natural disasters and global climate periods are responsible for the split into two species and subspecies. The eruption of the “super-volcano” Toba on Sumatra ~75.000 years ago is likely to have played a particularly important role in this process. As Fickel explains, this event unquestionably had extreme consequences for the Southeast Asian fauna and flora. On that account, the researchers conclude that in all likelihood, only two populations of clouded leopards survived the eruption, one in southern China (Neofelis nebulosa) and one on Borneo (Neofelis diardi). In a plausible scenario, the latter recolonised Sumatra via glacial land bridges and subsequently developed into a different subspecies as sea levels rose after the last Ice Age and isolated the two islands.

Endangered – Forest habitat is vital

Both subspecies are classified as endangered by the IUCN, owing to the fact that they, as all other big cats, occur at low population densities and require big home ranges for their survival. In order to save the Sunda clouded leopard, it is therefore of paramount importance to protect large forest areas in Borneo and Sumatra, or at least to manage them sustainably, Wilting emphasises. For this reason, the project is being carried out in close collaboration with Sabah Wildlife Department in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. Dr. Laurentius Ambu, director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, adds that the IZW together with his department has contributed actively to efforts for the conservation of the Sunda clouded leopard in Borneo for several years, and last year, this team published the first video footage of a Sunda clouded leopard from the wild.

Tunisian democrats fight on

This video from Tunisia is called Sit-In front [of] the first ministry 22-01-2011.

Tunisian police used tear gas against protesters gathered outside the office of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi on Monday morning: here.

Continued Protests in Tunisia: Tunisian activists began focusing on Monday evening on Egypt: here.

Updates on Egypt’s day of revolution: here.

Nigerian comments on the Tunisian revolution: here.

First One-Fingered Dinosaur Discovered

Linhenykus monodactylus

From National Geographic:

First One-Fingered Dinosaur Found—Dug for Bugs?

Linhenykus likely used long digit to probe termite mounds.

John Roach

for National Geographic News

Published January 24, 2011

Dig this: A parrot-size dinosaur has been discovered with just one enlarged “digging” finger on each hand, scientists announced today.

Unearthed in northeastern China, Linhenykus monodactylus is a member of the theropod dinosaurs, the group of two-legged carnivores that includes Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor.

Most theropods had three fingers on each hand. But Linhenykus belongs to a family known as the alvarezsauroids: small, long-legged dinosaurs that had one big finger alongside two barely functional nub fingers.

“Some researchers speculate that these dinosaurs used their hands to dig [up] termite nests,” said study leader Xu Xing of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing. This was probably the case for Linhenykus as well, he said.

(Related: “Digging Dinosaur Discovered Inside Fossil Den.”)

Linhenykus’ hand does have a leftover bone for a second finger, but the nub of a digit wouldn’t have worked at all, Xu added.

That makes Linhenykus the only known one-fingered dinosaur, he said.

New Dinosaur Adds to Tale of Hand Evolution

The new dinosaur was discovered in a fossil-rich rock formation that dates to the late Cretaceous period, between 84 and 75 million years ago. The site is near the Inner Mongolian town of Linhe (map), which helped inspire the dinosaur’s name.

(Related: “New Dinosaur—’Exquisite’ Raptor Found.”)

Alvarezsauroid fossils have been found in North and South America as well as Asia, dating from the late Jurassic to the late Cretaceous. Finding an alvarezsauroid in Asia dated to the late Cretaceous adds to the story of this group’s dispersal around the world, Xu said.

“[They] probably originated in Asia, then dispersed from Asia to [the ancient supercontinent] Gondwana, and then back to Asia, and finally from Asia to North America,” he said.

The other dinosaurs in this group probably didn’t make much use of their functional nub fingers, the study authors note. But the extra fingers would have been biologically inexpensive to maintain, so they didn’t totally disappear.

By contrast, Linhenykus had no working vestigial nubs, and its one long finger wasn’t as specialized for digging as the digits of other alvarezsauroids. This demonstrates that hand evolution in this group “did not follow a simple linear trend,” the study authors write.

The new, one-fingered dinosaur is described online today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

See also here.

Was Tyrannosaurus rex a fearsome hunter, or merely an opportunistic scavenger? By looking at both potential rivals and prey of the ancient carnivore, scientists now have evidence that it had to indeed have been a fierce killer: here.

Dawn Of The Dinosaurs And The Carmian-Norian Transition: here.

Direct U-Pb dating of Cretaceous and Paleocene dinosaur bones, San Juan Basin, New Mexico. 2011: here.

Geologist claims a few dinosaurs survived extinction event: here.