This video about Italy says about itself:
Venice Gay Pride: Mayor Brugnaro ‘wants to ban parade’
27 August 2015
The mayor of Venice has been quoted as saying that he will try to ban Gay Pride parades in the city, provoking fury from gay rights activists.
“There will be no gay pride in my Venice,” Luigi Brugnaro told La Repubblica newspaper, describing the event as farcical and kitsch.
The head of an Italian gay rights group criticised the mayor and invited him to join the next Pride parade in Venice.
“We will be back next year and we invite the mayor to march at the head of the parade with us,” Flavio Romani, from the Arcigay group, told AFP news agency. “That way he will see what a Gay Pride really is.”
He accused the mayor of trying to impose his views on a “cosmopolitan city”.
In the interview with La Repubblica newspaper (in Italian), Mr Brugnaro said he firmly opposed hosting the parade in Venice.
Mr Brugnaro earlier provoked controversy by withdrawing books that depicted same-sex families from Venice’s nurseries and primary schools.
The British pop star Elton John was among those who condemned the move, calling the mayor “boorishly bigoted” in an Instagram post.
Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant today:
Mayor of Venice repeats: “Who calls Allahu Akbar here will be shot straight away”
The death penalty was abolished in Italy in 1889. Except for Mussolini‘s fascist dictatorship. Under Mussolini, the death penalty could, in theory, only be applied after a trial (in practice, a trial at a fascist kangaroo court). Now, the far-right mayor of Venice wants the death penalty without trial; not even kangaroo court trial. Not for murder; not for rape. For saying two words.
‘Allahu akbar’ means ‘God is the greatest‘ in Arabic. It is a very common saying in mostly Muslim countries; eg, at funerals. The expression expresses the hope of the person using the saying that the forces of good will ultimately prevail, even in difficult circumstances.
In a very small percentage of the saying being used, it is by ISIS or similar terrorists during acts of violence. It was also said by Canadian islamophobic terrorist and Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen supporter Alexandre Bissonnette as he committed mass murder at a Quebec mosque, as a cynical reference to Islam intended to wrongfoot police investigations.
However, in far over 99% of cases, saying ‘Allahu akbar’ has nothing to do with terrorism. Just like saying ‘Thank God’ or a similar expression from a Christian tradition in the big majority of cases does not mean that the person saying it is a Christian fundamentalist terrorist aiming at killing supposedly ‘un-Christian’ persons.
The right-wing mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro,
According to Wikipedia:
Luigi Brugnaro is an … Italian politician, entrepreneur, business executive and the current Mayor of Venice, an office he took a hold of on June 15, 2015. …
Brugnaro has attracted controversy via his banning of forty nine books about discrimination and or homosexuality from the city’s schools, including a French Book on gay parenting entitled “Jean Has Two Mums”, and in declaring that there will be no gay pride parade in Venice.
The Volkskrant article continues:
Brugnaro: ‘Last year I said they will be shot after four steps, now I say: after three steps. I will say it in Venetian: ‘Ghe sparemo’. (‘We’ll shoot them’) ….
Brugnaro did not say what police would do if someone would call Allahu Akbar as a joke.
This video is about a white-backed woodpecker couple feeding in January 2014 in Sweden.
This video from London, England is called Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) Protest – 3rd July 2017
By Sara Callaway in London, England:
Grenfell disaster spurs activists to start building a new social movement
Thursday 24th August 2017
About 80 women and men attended, from different tower blocks, estates and communities. Camden and Haringey tenants and the Fire Brigades Union were invited speakers. A message of support was sent to Grenfell.
Despite opposition, Brent intends to build an 18-storey tower block in Wembley. We can’t allow another tragedy or for people to live in unsafe housing or be homeless while the 1 per cent hold 1,652 unoccupied properties in Kensington and Chelsea alone.
One speaker said that in the US they call towers like Grenfell “racial stacking” because the worst housing is disproportionately allocated to people of colour.
A woman added that many survivors of Grenfell are people of colour or immigrants, and condemned the Home Office plan to only give one year’s right to remain for any survivors who may not have papers.
Kam Sandu and Phil Rose, Haringey campaigners, said communities of colour were most affected by the housing crisis.
They reported on Stop Haringey Development Vehicle, a community campaign against the [Blairite right-wing Labour] council’s plan to transfer over 50 per cent of council homes — the biggest sell-off of public assets ever undertaken by a local council — into a £2 billion partnership with private developers.
They described how Haringey Council’s own overview and scrutiny committee has been ignored. The campaign is crowdfunding to bring a legal case to stop the development going forward.
Kilburn residents reported poor building standards, lack of repairs and information, council homes being torn down and replaced by private housing and poor people being dispersed.
There was objection to the way council tenants, leaseholders and other residents are played against each other and not listened to.
Pete Firmin, chair of a tenants’ association, gave a catalogue of problems local people face, including plans to drill and erect an HS2 vent shaft next to a primary school and housing estates. This has been promoted as part of south Kilburn’s “regeneration project.”
The issue of very high rents in rundown blocks was raised after the meeting: some tenants pay almost £300 weekly for tiny studio flats in some of the worst blocks, managed by Brent Housing Partnership, which is owned by Brent Council.
A Chalcots estate tenant described the chaos when Camden Council evacuated four tower blocks late at night. Many were left to sleep on the floor of a local community centre.
He raised concerns about how money is being spent and the council’s lack of accountability. Fearful Chalcots residents recently took the council to court complaining about shoddy and incomplete repairs.
A Fire Brigades Union representative, Gareth Beeton, condemned deregulation and privatisation, from Thatcher and Blair to Cameron and May. He said that while Boris Johnson was mayor, over 1,000 fire service jobs in London were lost. He called for resistance to government cuts to the fire service and raising safety standards to protect the public.
This meeting, called by Labour’s Kilburn branch, was part of that movement. Local councillors Rita Conneely, Barbara Pitruzzella and John Duffy attended and there was a brief one-on-one Q&A with them after discussion.
Everyone was urged to support the Granville Centre, a precious community resource which hosted the meeting. The council planned to demolish the Granville despite the important services provided there.
Now there are plans to cut it up into a business hub, but there is fierce opposition from the local community. Please sign the petition to save the Granville, which is the area’s only heritage site and has served local residents for over 100 years: www.change.org/p/brent-council-save-the-granville-and-carlton-centres.
Sara Callaway is a member of Kilburn branch Labour Party.
This video says about itself:
23 August 2017
Read more here.
Scientists have discovered traces of life more than half-a-billion years old that could change the way we think about how all animals evolved on earth. … The fossils found date back to a geological and evolutionary period known as the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition. This was when the Ediacaran Period, which spanned 94 million years from the end of the Cryogenian Period, 635 million years ago, moved into the Cambrian Period around 541 million years ago: here.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Thursday 24th August 2017
A 3am attack on a hotel, Bayt al-Edhari in Arhab district, killed at least 50 people, who local doctors said were all farmers of the stimulant qat.
Physician Ali al-Rakmi, who was helping with rescue efforts, said that there had been more than 100 people inside at the time of the attack.
Fahd Marhab, head of the Umrah hospital six miles away, said there were no wounded and that all the people in the hotel were killed in the 3am air strike. …
Another air strike hit Sanhan, just south-east of the capital, killing at least six civilians and wounding 15 others.
Other air raids hit the Khashm al-Bokra area of Bani Hushaesh district, damaging houses and farms.
Reports indicate that approximately 100 farmers were sleeping in the two-story building in Arhab at the time that it was blown up: here.
Saudi economic future looks bleak amid falling oil prices: here.
On 11 August 2017, before we went to the carnivorous plants exhibition in the botanical garden, we went to a lecture in Leiden University about carnivorous plants and Charles Darwin. The lecture was by Norbert Peeters, on the left of this photo. The title of the lecture was Darwin’s little shop of horrors.
All photos on this blog post, mainly of slides shown during the lecture, are cell phone photos.
Today, Darwin’s best known book is On the Origin of Species. However, Peeters said, during Darwin’s life his best sold book was his 1875 Insectivorous plants.
Before Darwin, people either thought carnivorous plants did not exist; or they looked at them with fascination often mixed with exaggeration of how big carnivorous plants’ prey was.
In 1768, for the first time live Venus flytrap plants were brought from North America to England. In a 1770 book, John Ellis described them. He named the genus Dionaea, a Greek name for the goddess of beauty Aphrodite (Venus in Latin).
Ellis strongly suspected Venus flytraps were carnivorous. He wrote so to the most famous naturalist of the eighteenth century, Carolus Linnaeus, sending dried specimens with his letter.
However, Linnaeus did not believe that carnivorous plants existed.
In support of that view, Linnaeus quoted the Bible, Genesis 1:30:
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
So, Linnaeus interpreted the Bible as saying that animals eat plants, not the other way round.
In this, Linnaeus was in a tradition, as pictured in this 17th century book, of seeing reality as a hierarchical ladder. God on top, humans below God. On the lower end, stones, etc. Plants one step below animals, forever unable to catch up with them.
Linnaeus made tremendous contributions to systematic biology, still relevant today. However, comparable to earlier naturalists like Scheuchzer, he was still what would now be called a ‘creationist‘. He opposed the idea of evolution, in his own eighteenth century advocated in rudimentary form by Buffon, and later elaborated by Darwin, including as an explanation for the origin of carnivorous plants, as we shall see.
The poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852) reacted to the newly discovered Venus flytrap with the lines:
The Lord deliver us!
Think of a vegetable being “carnivorous!”
Now, from denial to fascination mixed with exaggeration.
In Victorian England, there were fictional stories, as well as stories claiming to be non fictional, about plants eating people; like a tree in Madagascar supposedly feeding on humans.
Today, we know that the biggest animals eaten by carnivorous plants are mice. And even that size is too much for most of today’s about 680 carnivorous plant species.
This video from the USA says about itself:
20 January 2017
Though about 1800 much was still unknown about carnivorous plants, they fascinated many people. Empress Josephine of France and President Thomas Jefferson of the USA owned Venus flytraps.
Since Darwin’s 1860s-1870s experiments with carnivorous plants, we know much more about the Venus flytrap.
Peeters illustrated that by playing this 2009 BBC video.
The video says about itself:
Life – Venus Flytraps: Jaws of Death – BBC One
Hungry Venus flytraps snap shut on a host of unfortunate flies. But, despite its name, flies aren’t the flytrap’s only meal. As long as its prey is roughly the right size and touches two of its hairs within twenty seconds, the plant will dine on any insect or spider that comes its way. Glands in the lobes then secrete enzymes that break the dinner down into a digestible soup. Ten days later, the trap pops open to reveal nothing but a dried out husk.
Thanks to Darwin and others, we now know more about the European carnivorous plant sundew than centuries ago.
Sundew has liquid droplets on it. Many other plants have dew droplets on them early in the morning. These evaporate as the sunshine gets stronger. In sundew, they don’t evaporate. People thought the sundew droplets were a peculiar kind of dew resistant to warmth; hence the plant’s name ‘sundew’.
In the late eighteenth century, Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles Darwin, said the sundew droplets were not dew. He correctly thought they had to do with insects. He did not know yet they had to do with eating these insects though.
Erasmus Darwin’s grandson Charles experimented with carnivorous plants. In 1875, the results of these experiments were published in his Insectivorous plants. Why did plants become carnivorous? Because they grew in soils with few nutrients, Charles Darwin pointed out. They needed other sources of nutrients. In the course of evolution, carnivorous plants developed mechanisms to lure, catch and digest arthropod prey.
Like this specialized sundew leaf from Darwin’s book.
Peeters pointed out there are three kinds of carnivorous plants’ traps. Traps snapping tight, glue traps and pitcher traps.
The sequel of this will come on this blog. So, stay tuned!
‘Darwin’s Backyard’ chronicles naturalist’s homespun experiments. Breeding pigeons, growing orchids and other hands-on work provided evidence for the theory of evolution. By Sid Perkins, 10:00am, August 24, 2017.