French Macron party politician beats socialist into hospital


This video from France says about itself:

27 July 2017

President Emmanuel Macron‘s “La République En Marche” party is having its first teething problems, as it transitions from a grassroots movement to France’s most powerful political organisation. Its members are being asked to vote on “statutes”, the written rules which would determine the party’s leadership structure. The vote was supposed to be a formality, but it’s causing tensions among members who want more of a say in the party’s future. Claire Paccalin-Williams and Karina Chabour report.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant today:

MP of Macron‘s party injures socialist politician into hospital

A member of the Macron party La République and Marche has been charged because he has beaten a socialist politician with his scooter helmet into hospital. The socialist got into a coma, had to be operated and still has trouble talking, says his lawyer.

By Peter Giesen

It is a known risk for new parties like [Macron‘s] La République and Marche: attracting successful applicants and candidates who do not turn out to have bad behavior. Half of their group in the National Assembly consists of ‘civic politicians’ without political experience. But so far, they are mainly in the news because of their amateurism and lack of knowledge of parliamentary procedures.

The real scandals are caused by politicians who have switched from the socialists to the Macron party. Against their caucus’ Vice President Richard Ferrand there is court inquiry into conflicts of interest in a real estate transaction for his former employer, an insurance corporation.

Last week, the government of French President Emanuel Macron detailed its plans to rewrite the country’s labor code, aiming to remove all legal barriers for business to lay off workers, lengthen working hours, and slash wages and benefits: here.

Three days before its presentation of decrees to destroy the labor code on August 31, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced a series of measures to complete his break with what remains of the “French social model”. Under the pretext of “modernizing” social welfare systems, the government of French President Emanuel Macron is setting out to destroy all the social rights the working class gained in struggle during the 20th century: here.

Advertisements

70,000 honey buzzards migrating in one day


This 4 October 2016 video, recorded in Georgia, is called Raptor migration in Batumi (in Danish; with English subtitles).

From the Batumi Raptor Count in Georgia:

Batumi – Saghalvasho

Sunday 3 September 2017

Counting period: 6:37 – 17:55

Count type: Storks and raptors

Weather: The day was sunny and the high clouds covered the mountains in the middle of the afternoon

Observers: Aki Aintila, Hélène Larnac, Simon Cavailles, Fabrice Cochard, Michiel de Koster, Jaime Escobar, Martha Mutiso, John Wright, Kaarel Vohandu, Thijs Schipper, Janosch Becker, Andrea Maier, Felix Timmermann, Diego Jansen, Anne Grohmann.

Black Stork 5
White Stork 56
Honey Buzzard 69670
Black Kite 3235
Marsh Harrier 150
Pallid Harrier 29
Montagu’s Harrier 347
Hen/Montagu’s/Pallid Harrier 99
Levant Sparrowhawk 50
Steppe Buzzard 1
Lesser Spotted Eagle 3
Greater Spotted Eagle 1
Booted Eagle 77
Osprey 2
European Roller 39

Totals: 73764 individuals, 15 species, 11:18 hours

Bold = Remarkable observation (scarce or rare species or large number)

Comments: More birds coming! An incredible day for the harrier migration, also for the Pallid Harrier. Moreover, it was a big day for the Honey Buzzards who crossed sometimes very close of the station. Many broad streams glided over the Black Sea in the begining of the afternoon and later, all the streams crossing far in the mountains.

Argentine indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado missing


This video says about itself:

Huge March in Argentina Demands Santiago Maldonado’s Return

2 September 2017

Thousands descended upon Argentina’s famous Plaza de Mayo to ask the state to respond to the disappearance of indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado.

Associated Press reports:

Argentine protesters demand answers about missing activist

LUIS ANDRES HENAO

September 2 2017

Tens of thousands of Argentines demonstrated in cities across the country on Friday holding photos of a missing activist who was last seen when border police evicted a group of indigenous Mapuche from lands in Patagonia owned by Italian clothing company Benetton.

Demonstrators in the Argentine capital marched to the Plaza de Mayo square in front of the presidential palace to demand the government find 28-year-old Santiago Maldonado alive.

The march marked the one-month anniversary of Maldonado’s disappearance. Since then, everyone — from soccer great Diego Maradona to Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla to politicians from opposing political parties — have joined human rights activists in a social media campaign under the slogan: “Where is Santiago Maldonado?”

The disappearance has hit a raw nerve in Argentina, where human rights groups estimate that about 30,000 people died or were forcibly disappeared during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

“We’ve gone back in time 40 years. I can’t accept it,” said Rosa de Roisinblit, 98, the vice president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights groups. During the dictatorship years, she marched every week in the same square in Buenos Aires, fighting alongside other women in the group to recover their children and grandchildren.

“I can’t believe that this is happening in a constitutional, democratically-elected government,” she said. …

Maldonado‘s case has become problematic for the government of President Mauricio Macri as human rights groups accuse it of being part of a cover up and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has urged Argentina to find the missing artisan and tattoo artist.

Maldonado‘s family says border police detained him when he and others were blocking a road in Chubut province, in the southern region of Patagonia. Authorities deny wrongdoing.

Maldonado’s case is being investigated as a forced disappearance. …

Maldonado had joined the Mapuche cause while living in southern Argentina. The Aug. 1 protesters were demanding the release of Facundo Jones Huala, an imprisoned Mapuche leader who is wanted by Chile. The lands belong to Compania de Tierras Sud Argentino, a wool-producing company owned by Benetton. Mapuches claim the lands as their ancestral territory and have been occupying them since 2015.

Some members of the Mapuche indigenous community have told reporters on condition of anonymity that Maldonado was taken by border police. But they have yet to ratify the information to authorities.

“We want a serious and impartial investigation,” Santiago’s brother, Sergio Maldonado, told demonstrators on Friday. “How much more must we ask ourselves: Where is Santiago?”

All-female marsh harrier couple raises chicks


This video from England says about itself:

15 April 2016

A magical day watching (and filming) Marsh Harriers and other wildlife (Cetti’s Warbler, Muntjac Deer, Linnet, Roe Deer, Swallows) on a glorious sunny day at RSPB Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire.

Usually, baby marsh harriers are raised by male-female couples.

However, this nesting season there was an unusual discovery in Oostvaardersplassen national park in the Netherlands. There, a young female harrier divided the food among her chicks in the nest. However, the prey was brought, not by a male bird, as usually, but by an older adult female.

The young birds have fledged now.

Why had the young adult female’s male partner disappeared? Who was the older female? The younger female’s mother? Her older sister? Her new-found love? We don’t know. These were not ringed birds.

Some years ago, at a marsh harrier nest on Texel island in the Netherlands, the adult female somehow disappeared. Then, the father managed to raise the chicks on his own.

United States Republican advocates lynching for paint on Confederate statue


This video from the USA says about itself:

Politician Goes On Racist Rant After Confederate Monument Vandalized

2 September 2017

Hey Rep. Warren Love THIS is why it’s NOT OKAY to say what you said. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, breaks it down.

“A Missouri legislator on Wednesday called for a vandal who defaced a Confederate statue to be lynched. State Rep. Warren Love (R[epublican]) was responding on Facebook to a story about an unidentified vandal who threw paint on a Confederate memorial in Springfield National Cemetery, the Riverfront Times reported. The paper published a screenshot of Love’s Facebook post above the article, which he quickly deleted. “This is totally against the law,” Love wrote. “I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope. National Veterans Cemetery in Springfield, Mo.”

Read more here.

The family of an 8-year-old biracial boy in New Hampshire say teens hung him from a tree with a rope.

Ants named after Obama, Ken Saro-Wiwa


This 23 August 2017 video is called 3D rotation video of Zasphinctus sarowiwai sp. n. paratype worker.

From the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University in Japan:

Say hello to the 3-D Obama ant

Three new ant species named in honor of key figures in conservation — Barack Obama, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and E.O. Wilson — are immortalized as 3-D virtual avatars

August 30, 2017

Biologists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have named three new, rare ant species in Africa after important figures in African biodiversity conservation — a former United States president, a writer-activist, and a world-renowned scientist. Using new scanning technology for documenting species, the OIST researchers compiled scans of the ants to create 3D avatars, giving them, and their namesakes, a measure of immortality.

The first ant species, Zasphinctus obamai, was discovered in the Kakamega Forest National Park, Kenya, located near Mr. Barack Obama’s ancestral family village. The OIST researchers chose to honor Mr. Obama for his prodigious contributions to global biodiversity conservation. The second species, Zasphinctus sarowiwai, was named after Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian writer and environmental activist who, after campaigning against irresponsible oil development, was executed in 1995. The third, Zasphinctus wilsoni, was named after biologist Edward O. Wilson, who is famous for his contributions to sociobiology, ant biology, evolution, and biodiversity conservation. Through his foundation, Wilson has contributed to the resurgence of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, which is one of Africa’s most successful wildlife restoration stories.

To create the 3D avatars, “we used X-ray microtomography, or micro-CT, which is comparable to when you go to the doctor and get a CT scan but at much higher resolution, to scan very small insects,” explains Dr. Francisco Hita Garcia, first author on the study and a member of the Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit at OIST.

The OIST research team then compiled the scans into 3D reconstructions of the ants — identical to their originals down to the thinnest hair on the tiniest leg. The reconstructions hint at a future of virtual taxonomy with the potential to alleviate issues of time, money, and specimen damage, and realize new horizons of inquiry into hard-to-reach details, such as the thickness of an ant’s exoskeleton.

The following shows an interactive model of a whole-body 3D reconstruction of the Obama ant: Zasphinctus obamai.

This 23 August 2017 video is called 3D rotation video of Zasphinctus obamai sp. n. holotype worker.

It is an exact replica of a physical specimen that the OIST researchers collected during field work in the Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya and scanned using micro-CT.

There are plenty of advantages to creating these models. For example, since they are made using micro-CT technology, the original, physical specimens are recreated on both the outside and inside. As such, if researchers wanted to study the way the inside of an ant’s mouth is organized, they could simply virtually remove the outside parts that are in the way — something that cannot be done on a physical specimen without damaging it. In their study, the OIST researchers did precisely this.

In addition to reconstructing and examining the ants’ mouthparts, the OIST researchers also visualized the muscles inside of the ants’ bodies and measured the thickness of their skin, called the cuticle, all with the help of the virtually reconstructed 3D models.

“We saw things that nobody ever looked at,” Dr. Hita Garcia explains, and through those new observations the research team was able to confirm details about the ants’ lifestyles. Other species of Zasphinctus from outside Africa are known to be predators of other ants, and the mouthparts, musculature, and skin-thickness data from the OIST researchers’ study all provide evidence that the African Zasphinctus ants are top predators as well. “Normally when you describe a new species, you don’t know much about its biology,” Dr. Hita Garcia explains, but with the 3D reconstructions researchers can discover details right away.

Another advantage of 3D models is that they can be easily accessed from anywhere. Especially for specimens that are rare, examining them requires a lot of time and money to coordinate — such as an expensive plane ticket to visit a museum in Nairobi. This is not the case with the 3D models. “If someone wants to see the Obama ant, they can download it, look at it, and 3D print it,” Dr. Hita Garcia explains.

Yet despite advances in scanning capabilities, the world of virtual taxonomy is not yet ready to be realized. For one, there are not enough research labs and institutes that provide access to micro-CT scanners. “We have millions of species on the planet, but we have 3D models for only a handful,” Dr. Hita Garcia explains. The technology is ready, the scientific community just needs the means and incentive to apply it, as well as to embrace it.

Until that future arrives, however, the OIST researchers can focus on using the unique names of the three new ants for altruistic purposes. “Since these ants are from very threatened habitats in Africa, we wanted to pick names that draw attention to the environment, and not just the ants,” Dr. Hita Garcia explains. The rainforests in equatorial Africa, as well as the savannah in Mozambique, needs to be protected before the habitats and animals living within them are destroyed.

In every animal community, several species in the same group share habitats. An international team has chosen ants to create the largest public-access database on the cohabitation of these insects. The goal is to understand their tricks for coexistence and how they respond to invasive species and climate change: here.

Laughing, a crime in Donald Trump’s USA?


This 14 July 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

The protester who was arrested for laughing during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing had her case thrown out by a judge. Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, and Amberia Allen, the hosts of The Young Turks, tell you how she’s not out of the woods yet.

“WASHINGTON ― A D.C. judge has tossed out a jury’s conviction of a protester who laughed during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing, finding on Friday that the government had improperly argued during the trial that her laughter was enough to merit a guilty verdict. The judge ordered a new trial in the case, setting a court date for Sept. 1.

Desiree Fairooz, 61, who was associated with the group Code Pink, had been convicted of disorderly and disruptive conduct and demonstrating inside the Capitol. Fairooz was taken into custody during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January after she laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) claimed Sessions had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” (The Senate rejected Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship in the 1980s over concerns about his views on race.)

But Chief Judge Robert E. Morin of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia tossed out the guilty verdict on Friday because the government had argued that the laugh alone was enough to warrant the verdict. Morin said it was “disconcerting” that the government made the case in closing arguments that the laughter in and of itself was sufficient.”

Read more here.

By Andrea Germanos in the USA:

“Vindictive”: CODEPINK Activist Who Laughed During Jeff Sessions’ Hearing to Face New Trial

“I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this,” said Desiree Fairooz

Saturday, September 02, 2017

CODEPINK activist Desiree Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ confirmation hearing, will face a second trial this fall after she rejected a plea deal on Friday.

“I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this. Vindictive!” she wrote on Twitter, while CODEPINK called it “ridiculous.”

As Common Dreams reported, she was convicted in May of disorderly and disruptive conduct during the hearing. While Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) argued that Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” Fairooz, who was in the hearing room, laughed. She held up a sign that read “Support Civil Rights; Stop Sessions” as she was placed under arrest and taken out of the room.

You can hear her laughter in the [10 January 2017] video below, around the 1:20 mark:

Fairooz described the noise she made as “spontaneous. It was an immediate rejection of what I considered an outright lie or pure ignorance.” Civil liberties advocates have also strongly rejected such an characterization of Sessions’ record.

Her conviction was thrown out in July and a hearing set for Sept. 1. At the hearing, CNN reports: “According to court records, Fairooz rejected a deal offered by prosecutors that would have required her to plead guilty in exchange for a recommended sentence of time served.”

HuffPo explains:

This time around, the government will have to be more careful if it wants the jury verdict to stand. Because they cannot argue that laughter was enough to sustain a conviction, government lawyers essentially have to concede to the jury that Officer Katherine Coronado, the rookie cop who approached Fairooz, made a mistake. They’ll have to argue that, even if the officer was wrong to arrest Fairooz, she didn’t have the right to loudly object to her treatment, or at least didn’t have the right to make political statements that briefly interrupted Senate proceedings.

In a May interview with Jezebel, Fairooz said, “I’m just an average citizen. I’m no spokesperson. I’m no paid protester. I am a retired children’s librarian, former teacher who is speaking for people like my former students and their families or those who are not able to do this. That if you do not stand up to the injustices that are being imposed on us—I mean, I see our democracy crumbling every day.”

“It was bad under Bush. It was definitely imperfect under Obama. And now every day, I ask myself, is it fascism now? And so if we don’t stand up while we still have some modicum of democracy, it’ll be too late. So if anything, I hope others feel inspired to do likewise,” she said.

From Black Agenda Radio in the USA, 29 August 2017:

In seeking the identities of 1.3 million visitors to a web site for protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration, last January, Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department is “trying to silence and chill and intimidate people from speaking out,” said Chip Gibbons, of Defending Rights and Dissent. Two hundred people face prison terms for the inaugural protests.