Saudi Arabia, beheading for demonstrating for democracy?


This video from the USA says about itself:

Outrage Mounts as Saudi Arabia Plans Imminent Executions for 14 Accused Pro-Democracy Protesters

17 July 2017

As President Trump vows not to let human rights concerns interfere with U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, the country is set to execute 14 men, including Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat, who was only 17 when he was sentenced to death five years ago. He had planned to visit and attend Western Michigan University but was detained by airport authorities in Saudi Arabia for allegedly attending a pro-democracy rally earlier the same year. We speak with Maya Foa, director of the legal charity Reprieve. We also speak with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which is speaking out against the planned execution.

USA: A former State Department war crimes expert warns that arms sales to Saudi Arabia is ‘prohibited’ under US law – but the lethal exports still go ahead. Middle East Eye, July 12, 2017.

‘Grenfell’ fire deaths in Hawaii


This video from Hawaii says about itself:

Marco Polo building fire kills three in Honolulu, no sprinkler system inside high-rise – TomoNews

16 July 2017

HONOLULU — Fire officials in Honolulu were still trying to determine the cause of a fire that ripped through an apartment building on Friday that killed at least three people.

The fire broke out in a unit on the 26th floor of the Marco Polo Tower on Friday afternoon. The building is next to the Ala Wai Canal and Ala Wai Community Park, near the famous Waikiki neighborhood in Honolulu.

There are 36 floors and 586 units in the building, which was built in 1971 before sprinkler systems became mandatory in high-rises in the city.

The fire only spread to the units next to it and immediately above it on the 27th and 28th floors due to its vast wave shape, CBS News reported.

“Without a doubt if there was sprinklers in this apartment, the fire would be contained to the unit of origin,” Reuters quoted Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves as saying.

Two women and a man were found dead. They have been identified as 71-year-old Joanna M. Kuwata and Melba Dille, and 54-year-old Britt Reller. They were all residents of apartments on the 26th floor.

The fire took place about a month after the London Grenfell Tower fire that killed at least 80 people. The Grenfell Tower was also unequipped with sprinkler systems.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

One month since the UK Grenfell Fire:

Three die in Honolulu high-rise without sprinkler system

17 July 2017

On Friday, exactly one month since the Grenfell Tower fire in London that led to the deaths of at least 80 residents, three people died in another high-rise blaze that could have been prevented with the installation of an elementary safety measure: an anti-fire sprinkler system.

The latest disaster makes clear that the London fire was not an aberration. All over the world, the lives of working people are treated as expendable in the pursuit of wealth and profits by the financial elite.

Friday’s fire in Honolulu, Hawaii broke out on the 26th floor of the 35-story Marco Polo condominium building, killing Britt Reller, 54, an in-flight manager for Hawaiian Airlines, and his 85-year-old mother, Melba Jeannine Dilley, as well as 71-year-old Joanna Kuwata.

In addition to the lack of sprinklers, several building residents told the Associated Press that they did not hear or see fire alarms, raising the possibility that the fire alarm system was defective.

“Without a doubt, if there were sprinklers in this apartment, the fire would be contained to the unit of origin,” Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves said.

Sprinkler systems are universally recognized as a highly effective method for quickly and automatically suppressing fires and saving the lives of both residents and firefighters. “A single fire death in a sprinklered building is an extremely rare occurrence anywhere in the world… A multiple death is almost unheard of,” said Ronnie King, the former fire chief of Mid and West Wales, UK.

In buildings completely protected by fire sprinkler systems, over 96 percent of fires are controlled by the fire sprinklers alone, while fire sprinklers have been found to reduce overall fire damage by 97 percent.

Yet the United States has no national code mandating the installation of fire sprinklers in buildings and homes. Only California, Maryland and Washington D.C. require the installation of fire sprinklers in new homes.

While Honolulu has required all new high-rise buildings to include sprinklers starting in 1975, the Marco Polo condominium building was constructed four years earlier, and local laws do not require existing high-rises be fitted with them.

A study commissioned in 2005 by the Honolulu City Council found that installation of fire sprinklers in the building would have cost about $4,305 per unit, or less than one percent of the average price of a condo.

Firefighters and their associations, including the National Fire Protection Organization, have for decades fought for laws requiring the adoption of sprinkler systems. But construction companies have lobbied furiously against these measures. Organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders spend millions each year in political donations and lobbying to relax building codes, including codes mandating the use of fire safety devices such as sprinklers.

In the UK, 99 percent of public housing estates are, like Grenfell Tower, unequipped with fire sprinklers.

Meanwhile, the victims of the Grenfell Fire have been treated with conspicuous callousness and indifference. One month after the blaze, only four of the families evacuated from the tower have been given permanent accommodations, according to the Grenfell Response Team. The vast majority have been offered accommodations that are either temporary, unaffordable, or otherwise untenable. Most residents continue to be stuck in motels or shelters.

Officials were warned repeatedly by residents and experts that the building’s shoddy, low-cost cladding material, combined with other numerous fire safety violations created a disaster waiting to happen.

Despite the obvious criminal negligence involved in the Grenfell Fire, investigators have issued no search warrants and have not interviewed anyone as a suspect, much less filed criminal charges.

Anger erupted at a public meeting Wednesday, in which Metropolitan police officials explained that investigations would be dragged out over years, with residents and survivors demanding that those responsible be prosecuted. “They knew categorically that [the cladding] would burn so rapidly. You can identify that person like that, that person needs to be arrested,” declared one resident.

Another resident told the British press outside the meeting, “There is no connection between the upper class and working class whatsoever, and that divide is getting bigger and bigger, and in Kensington and Chelsea [where the fire took place] it’s the biggest divide you’ll ever see.”

Since the disaster, numerous press accounts have detailed the correlation between poverty and fire deaths. Citing a recent study of child injuries in the UK, the Guardian reported that “children whose parents were long-term unemployed were a staggering 26 times more likely to die of fire-related injuries than children whose parents were in higher managerial and professional occupations.”

The treatment of the survivors of the Grenfell Fire, and with the official protection of those responsible for the disaster, is an expression of the fact that the tragedy is an integral part of a systematic policy of subordinating all social needs to the profit interests of real estate speculators and the ruling class as a whole. If working people must die to swell the bottom line of the financial oligarchy, so be it.

Safe, quality housing is a basic social right that must be guaranteed to everyone. The technology and resources exist to prevent tragedies like the Grenfell Tower inferno and the fire in Honolulu. Yet the use of these resources to meet the most basic social needs comes everywhere into conflict with the domination of a money-mad corporate and financial elite, which insists that society must be organized to meet its interests, not the interests of the vast majority of the population.

From the plans to slash Medicaid in the United States, to the draconian cuts to social spending by the government of the UK’s Theresa May, to the moves by the Emmanuel Macron government in France to use the state of emergency to push through pay cuts and speedups, the policy of social counterrevolution is being pursued by the ruling classes all over the world.

If workers are to defend their social rights, and ultimately their lives, they must be mobilized and organized on the basis of an international program in the struggle for socialism.

New dinosaur species discovered in Alberta, Canada


This video says about itself:

‘Stalker’ Velociraptor Relative Sported Feathers, Serrated Teeth

17 July 2017

About 71 million years ago, a feathered dinosaur that was too big to fly rambled through parts of North America, likely using its serrated teeth to gobble down meat and veggies, a new study finds.

The newly named paleo-beast is a type of troodontid, a bird-like, bipedal dinosaur that’s a close relation of Velociraptor. Researchers named it Albertavenator curriei, in honor of the Canadian province where it was found (Alberta), its stalking proclivity (venator is Latin for “hunter”) and Philip Currie, a renowned Canadian paleontologist.

“The delicate bones of these small feathered dinosaurs are very rare,” lead study researcher David Evans, the senior curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, said in a statement. “We were lucky to have a critical piece of the skull that allowed us to distinguish Albertavenator as a new species.”

From the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada:

New species of dinosaur named after Canadian icon

Dinosaur species from Alberta

July 17, 2017

Summary: A new species of troodontid theropod dinosaur identified, Albertavenator curriei, named after renowned Canadian palaeontologist Dr. Philip J. Currie. Palaeontologists initially thought that the bones of Albertavenator belonged to its close relative Troodon, which lived around 76-million-years-ago. This new species of troodontid in the Late Cretaceous of North America indicates that small dinosaur diversity in the latest Cretaceous of North America is likely underestimated due to the difficulty of identifying species from fragmentary fossils.

Scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Philip J Currie Dinosaur Museum have identified and named a new species of dinosaur in honour of renowned Canadian palaeontologist Dr. Philip J. Currie. Albertavenator curriei, meaning “Currie’s Alberta hunter.” It stalked Alberta, Canada, about 71 million years ago in what is now the famous Red Deer River Valley. The find recognizes Currie for his decades of work on predatory dinosaurs of Alberta. Research on the new species is published July 17 in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

Palaeontologists initially thought that the bones of Albertavenator belonged to its close relative Troodon, which lived around 76-million-years-ago — five million years before Albertavenator. Both dinosaurs walked on two legs, were covered in feathers, and were about the size of a person. New comparisons of bones forming the top of the head reveal that Albertavenator had a distinctively shorter and more robust skull than Troodon, its famously brainy relative.

“The delicate bones of these small feathered dinosaurs are very rare. We were lucky to have a critical piece of the skull that allowed us to distinguish Albertaventaor as a new species.” said Dr. David Evans, Temerty Chair and Senior Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, and leader of the project. “We hope to find a more complete skeleton of Albertavenator in the future, as this would tell us so much more about this fascinating animal.”

Identifying new species from fragmentary fossils is a challenge. Complicating matters of this new find are the hundreds of isolated teeth that have been found in Alberta and previously attributed to Troodon. Teeth from a jaw that likely pertains to Albertavenator appears very similar to the teeth of Troodon, making them unusable for distinguishing between the two species.

“This discovery really highlights the importance of finding and examining skeletal material from these rare dinosaurs,” concluded Derek Larson, co-author on the study and Assistant Curator of the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum.”

The identification of a new species of troodontid in the Late Cretaceous of North America indicates that small dinosaur diversity in the latest Cretaceous of North America is likely underestimated due to the difficulty of identifying species from fragmentary fossils.

“It was only through our detailed anatomical and statistical comparisons of the skull bones that we were able to distinguish between Albertavenator and Troodon,” said Thomas Cullen, a Ph.D. student of Evans at the University of Toronto and co-author of the study.

The bones of Albertavenator were found in the badlands surrounding the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which Dr. Currie played a key role in establishing in the early 1980s. The rocks around the museum are the same age as some of the most fossiliferous rocks in the area of the newly erected Philip J. Currie Museum, also named in Dr. Currie’s honour. Although Dr. Currie has also had several dinosaurs named after him, this is only the second one from Alberta, where he has made his biggest impact.

The fossils of Albertavenator studied by Evans and his team are housed in the collections of the Royal Tyrrell Museum. This is another example of a new species of dinosaur being discovered by re-examining museum research collections, which continually add to our understanding of the evolution of life on Earth. This study suggests that more detailed studies of fragmentary fossils may reveal additional, currently unrecognized, species.

United States police kill Australian woman veterinarian


This video says about itself:

Australian Woman Justine Damond Killed By Police In Minneapolis

The shooting of an Australian woman by US police has raised serious concerns after it was revealed the officers did not have their body cameras turned on.

Justine Damond, aged 40, was shot dead in Minneapolis about 11:30pm local time on Saturday after two officers responded to a report of a possible assault.

Ms Damond, originally from Sydney and also known as Justine Ruszczyk, was a trained veterinarian who worked as a meditation teacher and spiritual healer who worked with people with cancer, depression and alcoholism.

She was engaged to Minneapolis local Don Damond and they were due to marry next month.

Her stepson Zach Damond, 22, said she called police after hearing a noise in the alleyway near their house in the suburb of Fulton.

“At one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman,” the police department said.

“Officers were dispatched. When officers responded, an officer-involved shooting occurred, which resulted in one adult female victim who is deceased and which has prompted our callout to the BCA [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension].

“The BCA will now further be conducting this investigation, this officer-involved shooting, from this point forward.”

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement that she was “heartsick and deeply disturbed by the incident”. “I’m seeking answers to the questions we all have, and will make sure to keep the communication flowing,” she said.

Ms Hodges said she understood the police body cameras and squad camera, which were introduced to the Minneapolis Police Department last year, were not switched on when the shooting occurred.

The two officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

A rally organised by local activist Mel Reeves was held at the site of the shooting, while other community members gathered for a vigil in Ms Damond’s neighbourhood.

Local media say neighbours are mystified as to what occurred.

Zach Damond spoke at the vigil calling for more information and transparency from the authorities. “Basically my mum is dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know, and I demand answers,” Mr Damond said.

“I just know that she heard a sound in the alley so she called the police, and the cops showed up.

“And she probably… thought something bad was happening and then the next thing, they take my best friend’s life.

“I’m so done with all this violence, it’s so much bullshit.

“America sucks, these cops need to be trained differently and I need to move out of here.”

A woman named Bethany, another speaker at the vigil who claimed to be a friend of Ms Damond, described her as a “beautiful light”.

“She was a healer. She was loved. She should be alive. She should still be here,” she said.

Communities United Against Police Brutality president Michelle Gross said Ms Damond “lost her life being a good neighbour”.

The [Australian] Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said it was providing consular assistance to the family.

The shooting has reopened a deep rift between community members and the authorities as it comes one year after Minneapolis man Philando Castile was shot and killed by Minneapolis police officer Jeronimo Yanez.

A video from the aftermath of last year’s shooting was livestreamed on Facebook.

It showed a woman interacting with an armed officer as the fatally injured man lay on the footpath.

The local community was left reeling after Mr Yanez was acquitted of all charges exactly one month ago and fired by the City of Saint Anthony.

Leslie Redmond, the vice-president for the Minneapolis NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), has called for a federal investigation into the latest shooting.

“I am shocked and appalled by the limited amount of information available right now. What are they covering up?” she said.

If black lives don’t matter, then in the long run not any lives matter any more.