Solar eclipse in the USA 21 August update


This video from the USA says about itself:

August 21st Solar Eclipse Will Be Extraordinary And Rare Celestial Event! Watch To Know Why

16 August 2017

2017 Solar Eclipse Will Be Extraordinary.

Historic Solar Eclipse Just One Week Away.

What can the eclipse tell us about the corona’s magnetic field? Scientists want to directly measure the forces behind the wispy dancing plasma in the sun’s atmosphere. By Lisa Grossman, 7:00am, August 16, 2017.

Protect little ones’ eyes from the sun during the eclipse. By Laura Sanders, 5:20pm, August 15, 2017.

Eclipses show wrong physics can give right results. Success of astronomical predictions reveals power of science, by Tom Siegfried. 3:30pm, August 17, 2017.

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Charlottesville solidarity demonstration in Amsterdam


This video from the Spui square in Amsterdam in the Netherlands tonight shows a solidarity demonstration with the anti-nazis in Charlottesville, USA.

People shout: ‘Fascism, never again!

US President Trump and the extreme right


This video from the USA says about itself:

Exclusive: Stonewall Jackson’s Great-Great-Grandsons Call for Removal of Confederate Monuments

17 August 2017

As President Trump faces growing outrage over his response to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, we bring you an exclusive: an interview with the great-great-grandsons of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. At least 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy can be found in public spaces across the country. But now a number of the monuments are coming down.

Calls for the removal of the statues are even coming from the descendants of the leaders of the Confederacy. We speak with two of the great-great-grandsons of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Jack and Warren Christian have just written an open letter to the mayor of Richmond calling for the removal of the Stonewall Jackson statue in Richmond. They write, “Our sense of justice leads us to believe that removing the Stonewall statue and other monuments should be part of a larger project of actively mending the racial disparities that hundreds of years of white supremacy have wrought.”

By CJ Atkins in the USA:

Trump‘s common cause with bigots

Thursday 17th August 2017

The president’s manipulative political rhetoric and reactionary policies have emboldened white supremacists, warns CJ ATKINS

USUALLY when David Duke opens his mouth, you can count on the words that come out to be a lie. The former KKK imperial wizard, Holocaust denier and white nationalist typically peddles trash about supposed white genocide or the benefits of racial segregation. But this weekend in Charlottesville, Duke did something unexpected: He told the truth.

Or, at least he told one little piece of truth. Speaking at the neonazi confab in Virginia, Duke proclaimed he and his fellow racists were there “to fulfil the promises of Donald Trump.”

Duke is right.

The fascist terror that took the life of one woman, Heather Heyer, and sent many more people to hospital is precisely the “promise” that has been latent in Trump’s rhetoric ever since the start of his campaign for the presidency.

When Trump said during the election last year that it was time “to take our country back,” he was speaking in words that Duke and his cohort understood perfectly. It wasn’t hard — the message was hardly concealed.

It started years ago, most infamously with the racist “birther” controversy aimed at undermining President Barack Obama. It ramped up dramatically once Trump started running for the White House himself.

There was of course the denunciation of Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug dealers and rapists in his very first speech of the campaign. That was followed up with candidate Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the southern border, sending the signal that certain people — brown-skinned people — were not welcome.

He closed out the election with an ad that was packed full of anti-semitic tropes about “global special interests,” bolstered by the faces of prominent Jewish personalities flashed across the screen. It was a work of television dog-whistling that would have made Jesse Helms proud.

Promptly announcing a ban on Muslims entering the US upon taking office, the president gave another nod to the racists and their notion of a war between civilisations.

In May this year, Trump dismissively responded to the concerns about police brutality raised by Black Lives Matter and other movements by saying that “our police have been subject to unfair defamation and vilification.”

At the beginning of this month, there was the roll-out of a new Republican immigration plan which has been roundly criticised as a project for a whiter US.

The pattern is plain to see for anyone who has been paying attention.

Many of the words and policies of Trump, both before and since taking office, have been a calculated effort to mobilise a hard-core base of supporters motivated by racial resentments and hatred.

His condemnation on Saturday of the “hatred, bigotry and violence from many sides” was another case of his pandering.

The truth is that the hatred, bigotry and violence that were on display in Charlottesville did not come from “many sides.” They came from one side.

But to only single out Trump for emboldening the neonazis that were on the march this weekend would be to deny the credit due to so many others in his administration.

There is Steve Bannon, the “alt-right” ideologue who brought white nationalism right into the Oval Office. Responsible for writing many of Trump’s most inflammatory speeches and sprinkling them with references to white nationalist vocabulary is Stephen Miller.

And of course, we can’t forget Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, who has been linked to a nazi group in Hungary and just last Wednesday said on Breitbart Radio that white supremacists are not a problem.

Several Republican senators — such as Orrin Hatch of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and others — took strong positions calling out this weekend’s racist terror for what it was. Some of them even urged President Trump to do so as well.

But where will these same senators be when Trump starts pushing another effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Where will they stand when an anti-immigrant Bill comes up for a vote? Will they denounce the racism behind the next iteration of Trump’s Muslim ban?

Trump, the white nationalists around him in the White House and the nazis in Charlottesville are all attempting to sell the whites in US, especially the working-class whites, a false bill of goods.

As the reverend William Barber said on Saturday: “White nationalists don’t care about white US. They don’t support living wages for the working poor. They don’t support healthcare for the poor and the working poor… They support the kind of policies that would take those things from people.”

Barber’s call for a non-violent mass movement of all people to challenge the ideologies that foster racism and the wedge attacks that are used to divide working people points the way forward.

From the start, Trump and his promises to “Make America great again” have been backward-looking. They have encouraged racist sentimentality for a segregationist past when minorities knew their place and multiculturalism was unheard of. His manipulative political rhetoric and reactionary policies have emboldened white supremacist forces and led us to this moment.

If his efforts to strip millions of healthcare, his bombing of Syria and Iraq, his demonisation of an entire religion, his plans to build a border wall or his threat of nuclear war did not make clear how dangerous the continuation of this presidency is, perhaps Charlottesville will.

It was already obvious, but now perhaps more so. It’s time for President Trump to go.

Fossil and living porcupinefish, new research


This video says about itself:

Porcupine fish rescue

21 March 2016

Our guys came across an entangled porcupine fish while snorkeling. The little guy was freed using a broken bottle. Clever.

From the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama:

Comparing the jaws of porcupine fish reveals three new species

August 16, 2017

Researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and colleagues compared fossil porcupine fish jaws and tooth plates collected on expeditions to Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil with those from museum specimens and modern porcupine fish, revealing three new species.

Startled porcupine fish suck in air or water to inflate their bodies, becoming a prickly balloon-like shape to defend themselves from predators and some contain a neurotoxin a thousand times more potent than cyanide in their ovaries and livers. They are also good at offense, crushing the shells of clams and other marine mollusks with beak-like jaws so tough that they are preserved as fossils to be discovered millions of years later.

Two of the newly discovered species, named Chilomycterus tyleri, in honor of the Smithsonian’s James C. Tyler, senior scientist emeritus at the National Museum of Natural History — an expert on this group of fish — and C. expectatus, named for the arrangement of its dental plates, were discovered in Panama’s Gatun formation.

The third new species, Diodon serratus, named for the serrated edge of its crushing dental sheet, comes from the Socorro Formation in Venezuela. When Darwin traveled to the tropics on the Voyage of the Beagle, he noticed this fish that swims upside down when inflated. He even mentioned a report from a fellow naturalist, that porcupine fish could gnaw their way out of the stomach of a shark.

Today 18 species of porcupine fish populate tropical seas worldwide. Species in the genus Diodon are common in shallow, tropical waters of both the Atlantic and Pacific. In contrast, only one species of the genus Chilomycterus is found in the Eastern Pacific. The rest are in the Atlantic.

When the Isthmus of Panama arose from the sea to connect North and South America and divide the Atlantic from the Pacific, the oceans on each side of this intercontinental bridge changed forever. The Eastern Pacific became cooler and more nutrient rich and the Caribbean because warmer and more nutrient poor, characterized by more coral reefs and seagrass beds.

This research team hopes to better understand why there was only one Chilomycterus species in a fossil deposit near Panama’s Tuira river on the Pacific side of the isthmus of Panama.

German elite soldiers do nazi salute


This 17 August 2017 German TV video is about the neonazi scandal in the German army elite unit KSK.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

German elite soldiers do Hitler salutes at party’

Today, 13:21

Members of the German military elite unit KSK have done the Hitler salute at a farewell party of a commander. They also listened to right-wing extremist music.

This is what the investigative program Panorama of German public broadcasting ARD reports. The broadcaster bases itself on one source, said to be reliable.

At the party it is also said that pork heads were thrown about …

Pork heads, used to mock Jewish or Muslim dietary laws, often play a role in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

The anonymous source, called Anna by the ARD, is said to have been invited by a KSK soldier friend to serve as chief prize for the commander. That meant she would have sex with him.

Anna agreed to this … . Sex did not happen because the commander was said to have been too drunk.

Right-extremist rock band

Later in the evening, at the campfire, music by Sturmwehr, a right-wing extremist rock band, sounded. Just before the chorus, an elderly military man said it was time to raise their right hands and do the nazi salute.

According to Anna, four soldiers obeyed this call, including the commander. There is said to have been an euphoric mood, with singing along to the music massively.

Investigation

The German army is investigating the events at the party. A spokesman has confirmed to the ARD that indeed pork heads had been thrown about, but as long as the investigation is in progress, they would not make any statements about the music and the doing of the nazi salutes.

It is clear that the KSK and the German army have a big problem if the allegations prove to be correct. The German army was already in the news negatively earlier this year when it turned out that an officer disguising himself as a refugee wanted to commit a terrorist attack in order to incite xenophobia.

New monkeyflower species discovery in Shetland


This 16 August 2017 video is called Scientists discover new plant in Shetland.

From the University of Stirling in Scotland:

New plant discovered in Shetland

August 16, 2017

Scientists at the University of Stirling have discovered a new type of plant growing in Shetland — with its evolution only having occurred in the last 200 years.

The new plant is a descendant of a non-native species, the yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus), which colonised the United Kingdom in Victorian times. It has evolved through the doubling of the number of chromosomes, known as genome duplication or polyploidy.

The plant, referred to as ‘Shetland’s monkeyflower’, produces yellow flowers with small red spots. It is larger than the typical monkeyflower and its flowers are more open.

Researchers say the finding is significant as it shows that a major evolutionary step can occur in non-native species over a short period of time, rather than over thousands of years.

Associate Professor Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin said: “Evolution is often thought to be a slow process taking thousands or millions of years. Yet we show that a major evolutionary step can occur in a couple hundred years.”

A team from Stirling’s Biological and Environmental Sciences, working with Dr James Higgins at the University of Leicester, carried out tests after a “chance encounter” with the plant while conducting fieldwork near Quarff, Shetland.

Led by postdoctoral researcher Dr Violeta Simon-Porcar, they measured the plant’s genome size and surveyed 30 populations of monkeyflowers from Shetland and across the United Kingdom.

The plants were then grown under controlled conditions and their floral and vegetative characteristics were measured to compare the effect of genome duplication in morphology and flowering time.

The team also conducted genetic analyses to investigate the relationship between the new polyploid plant and other populations in the Shetland Isles.

Genome duplication is common in the evolutionary history of flowering plants and many crops — such as potatoes, tobacco and coffee — are polyploids. However, it is rare to witness the phenomenon in recent history.

While genome duplication seems to be particularly common in hybrids between different species, the new plant has doubled its genome without hybridisation and has the same species as both its father and mother.

The Stirling team say that young polyploids, such as the new plant, provide an opportunity to investigate the early stages of an important evolutionary process.

Dr Vallejo-Marin said: “The fact that the new polyploid involves a non-native plant is poignant, given the fact that human activities are transporting all sorts of animal and plant species well beyond their native habitats. This raises the possibility that non-native species may increasingly participate in major biological processes, including the formation of new types pf plants and animals.”

He continued: “We found that genome duplication has immediate effects on the morphology and life strategy of this plant. Plants with double the DNA in their cells produce larger flowers, larger leaves, thicker stems, but they also take longer to flower.

“Although these type of changes are predicted by theory, demonstrating them is complicated as in older polyploids the parental species may be missing or may have evolved since the separation of the polyploid and non-polyploid lineages.”

Dr Simon-Porcar was funded through a postdoctoral fellowship from Plant Fellows.

The scientific description of this is here.

British Theresa May Trump’s poodle, even after Charlottesville


This 24 May 2017 video from Brussels, Belgium says about itself:

Interview with Maz Saleem, Stop the War Coalition UK at the Trump not Welcome demonstration in Brussels.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

May refuses to rule out state visit despite latest bigotry

Thursday 17th August 2017

THERESA MAY came under fire yesterday for failing to cancel Donald Trump’s state visit following his failure to condemn Nazis at Saturday’s deadly march in Charlottesville.

The PM joined condemnation of Mr Trump’s comments on Tuesday in which he partly blamed antifascists for violent clashes at a white nationalist march.

Ms May said: “I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them. I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them.”

However, despite growing pressure she stopped short of cancelling Mr Trump’s state visit.

Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith tweeted: “A state visit by Donald Trump would shame this country and betray all we stand for. Theresa May should revoke the invitation immediately.”

A Downing Street spokeswoman told the Star that there was “nothing to add” when asked whether Ms May would cancel Mr Trump’s invite.

Meanwhile, a demonstration against the US President’s “politics of warmongering, fear, hate and division” has been called by the Stand Up to Trump coalition and will take place this Saturday.

Novelist and poet Michael Rosen said that the “high-risk games that Trump is playing” could destroy the lives of millions.

Stand up to Trump spokeswoman Maz Saleem said: “Donald Trump has threatened to unleash a nuclear war in North Korea and military action against Venezuela.

“Meanwhile, the appalling events in Charlottesville show that his bigoted rhetoric is encouraging far-right extremism.”

The demonstration will take place from 12pm-1pm at the US embassy, Grosvenor Square, London.

See also here.

Charlotesville confrontation

The caption of the British Stand up to Trump coalition to this photo from the violent racist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA says:

On the Left is what courage looks like.

On the Right are coward Nazis hiding their faces. Ku Klux Klan.

Here’s why Heather Heyer was the worst nightmare of the so-called “alt-right.” And Charlottesville was illuminated by a different kind of light Wednesday, when thousands gathered at UVA for a candlelit vigil. [HuffPost]

MERRIAM-WEBSTER: SEARCHES FOR ‘FASCISM’ AND ‘BIGOT’ SPIKED Following the weekend’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. [HuffPost]

HOWARD FINEMAN: A DIVIDED COUNTRY IS WHAT TRUMP WANTS “Donald Trump seems perfectly willing to destroy the country to maintain his own power.” [HuffPost]

Trump’s attorney forwarded an email rant defending Robert E. Lee that reportedly said Black Lives Matter was infiltrated by terrorists.

President Donald Trump said he’s “sad to see” Confederate statues and monuments being taken down around the United States: here.