Hedgehogs mating carefully, video

This video says about itself:

Hedgehogs Mating With Great Care – Life Of Mammals – BBC Earth

4 October 2017

Sir David Attenborough watches as a pair of hedgehogs tentatively mate!


English solidarity against Spanish police brutality

This 1 October 2017 video is called Catalonia independence referandum clashes: Police attack elderly women.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Leeds students picket Institute Cervantes over police brutality in Catalonia

Wednesday 4th October 2017

Leeds Socialist Students behind protest

STUDENTS in Leeds picketed a Spanish government office in the city yesterday in solidarity with the people of Catalonia who were staging a general strike in response to police violence during Sunday’s independence referendum.

Schools, universities and many small businesses in the region were closed on Tuesday after unions urged a strike to condemn violence carried out by Spain’s national police in their attempt to prevent the vote from taking place.

People watched in horror as footage of police dragging voters by the hair, beating them with truncheons and shooting rubber bullets at crowds was aired across the globe.

Leeds protest organiser Iain Dalton, who is a member of Leeds Socialist Students group, said they organised the demo to condemn “the repression of the Spanish state against the right of self-determination for the Catalan people.”

It took place outside the Institute Cervantes, the Spanish government’s cultural organisation whose executive president is Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

“The weekend saw brutal repression on the instructions of Rajoy from the Spanish state’s Guardia Civil [paramilitary police] forcefully shutting down polling stations, after over a week of arrests and other intimidation,” Mr Dalton said.

“Despite this repression, around 85 per cent of polling stations remained open and over 90 per cent of those who voted supported independence.

“Socialist Students stands in solidarity with Spanish workers and students who have faced bloody police repression reminiscent of the Franco era.

“We totally condemn the repression of the Rajoy government.”

The violence the Spanish state inflicted on ordinary Catalans who sought to participate in Sunday’s independence referendum has rightly shocked workers and all those who uphold democratic rights across Spain and around the world. Eight decades after the Spanish bourgeoisie crushed the Spanish Revolution under the fascist jackboot and forty years after the end of Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s regime, the Spanish ruling class is again resorting to savage repression: here.

No fruit bats, no durian fruit

This video says about itself:

14 May 2015

A Cave Nectar Bat is pollinating durian flowers in Thailand. The durian is the king of South East Asian fruits, selling for billions of dollars annually. However, every flower must be pollinated by a bat in order to set fruit, even when grown in orchards.

From the University of Nottingham in England:

Durian industry could suffer without the endangered fruit bat

October 3, 2017

Scientists have discovered that Southeast Asia’s endangered fruit bats — commonly known as flying foxes — play an important part in the pollination of the iconic and economically important durian tree.

Using camera traps, researchers collected video evidence showing the island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) pollinating durian flowers, leading to the production of healthy durian fruit. Their study — Pollination by the locally endangered island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) enhances fruit production of the economically important durian (Durio zibethinus) — has been published in the Journal of Ecology and Evolution.

The video footage was captured on Tioman Island by a team led by Dr Sheema Abdul Aziz as part of her PhD at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (France) in collaboration with the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Dr Sheema said: “These are very important findings because they shed more light on the crucial ecosystem services provided by flying foxes. Previously it was known that the smaller, nectar-feeding bats are pollinators for durian — but many people believed that flying foxes were too large and destructive to play such a role. Our study shows the exact opposite: that these giant fruit bats are actually very effective in pollinating durian trees.”

The spikey tropical durian fruit, with its spikey skin and distinctive odour, is highly prized throughout Malaysia and Thailand. A ubiquitous icon of Southeast Asian culture, it is also a lucrative industry, generating millions of US dollars in local and international trade. The new findings suggest these economic profits owe a huge debt to large fruit bats such as flying foxes — as they were previously believed to be destructive rather than beneficial.

Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, from the School of Environment and Geographical Sciences of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and one of the coauthors of the study, said: “The durian is a fascinating plant that, with its flowers pollinated by bats and its seeds dispersed by large animals like elephants, beautifully exemplifies the importance of plant animal interactions. The durian fruit is particularly famous for its pungent smell and unique taste, adored by most people in Southeast Asia and so often misunderstood — abhorred? — by westerners. We hope this study brings attention to the urgency of conserving flying foxes in Southeast Asia.”

Flying fox populations in severe decline

The island flying fox is already classified as ‘endangered’ on Malaysia’s National Red List.

Large fruit bats of the genus Pteropus are severely threatened by hunting and deforestation. They are often sold and eaten as exotic meat due to an unsubstantiated belief that consuming them can help cure asthma and other respiratory problems. They are also persecuted and killed as agricultural pests, as some people claim that the bats cause damage and economic loss by feeding on cultivated fruits.

Consequently, these factors have led to a severe decline in flying fox populations worldwide.

Repercussions for tropical ecosystems

This study shows that these bats play important roles as seed dispersers and pollinators in rainforests, especially on islands. Their disappearance could therefore have repercussions for tropical ecosystems.

This international team of researchers from Malaysia, France, India, and Thailand, in collaboration with Tree Climbers Malaysia, has found that Southeast Asia’s durian supply could be affected too.

Dr Sheema said: “If people end up hunting flying foxes to extinction, it’s not hard to see that there could be serious implications for Southeast Asia’s beloved ‘King of Fruits‘”.

Donald Trump insults devastated Puerto Rico

This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Throws Paper Towels To Puerto Ricans

3 October 2017

What a fun photo op… Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down.

President Trump lobbed paper towels into a crowd at a church in Puerto Rico Tuesday where he was meeting with Hurricane Maria survivors.

Photos and pool reports documented his visit at the Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, at an event for those impacted by the destructive hurricane last month. Trump was handing out supplies as part of a one-day visit to the island to survey hurricane damage.

The weird moment where he took a basketball stance and threw the rolls into the crowd had a lot of viewers at home scratching their heads.”

Read more here.

By Rafael Azul:

Trump’s photo-op in Puerto Rico

4 October 2017

Two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, leaving millions without electricity, water and other basic necessities, US President Donald Trump did a quick fly-in and fly-out Tuesday to pronounce what a wonderful job his administration has done to address the crisis.

Trump’s entourage included his wife Melania, some cabinet members, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Jenniffer González, chairwoman of the Puerto Rico Republican Party and the island’s nonvoting member of the US House of Representative.

The president’s handlers made sure that Trump—who clearly did not want to be there—appeared in public as little as possible to prevent any opportunity for public protest. After a little more than four hours, the president flew off, an hour ahead of schedule.

The people the president did speak to were preselected. He visited an upscale neighborhood in Guaynabo, west of the capital city of San Juan, which has been one of the fastest areas to have electricity, communication and other services restored. At a local church, he threw rolls of paper towels out to a crowd in the most demeaning fashion, later saying, “There’s a lot of love in this room, a lot of love. Great people.”

During his press conference, however, Trump could hardly contain his contempt for the population of the US territory. The recovery effort and the current situation on the island, he claimed, was “really nothing short of a miracle,” adding that it was nothing like the “real catastrophe” that occurred during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Following the press conference, Trump visited the Muñoz Rivera housing project in Guaynabo. One of the housing project residents, Raúl Cardona, told Trump “he should visit the central parts of the islands, where a lot of people have no food, no water, where a lot of people have died. What he saw in Guaynabo was nothing compared to the rest of the island”, Cardona told the El Nuevo Día newspaper about his words with Trump.

Only four percent of the island’s 3.4 million residents have power, more than half do not have clean water, and many residents are washing in rivers. With temperatures in the 90s, the lack of air conditioning and medical attention could lead to further fatalities, particularly among the elderly and infirm. Roads are blocked with debris and standing water is attracting mosquitos that can carry deadly diseases.

Thousands remain in shelters, gasoline is scarce, ATMs are out of money, and many of the supplies sent to the island have been left on docks because of the lack of diesel for trucks. Public schools, which suffered devastating destruction, may not open for six months or more, officials have said.

Trump repeated the official claim of 16 hurricane-related fatalities. After the president left, Governor Ricardo Rosselló raised the death toll to 34. The number of fatalities is expected to grow once rescuers reach more isolated rural and mountainous areas.

Earlier in the morning, the island’s Secretary of Public Health Héctor Pesquera announced there were more than 100 cadavers in hospitals around the island, which are currently being examined to determine if they died as a result of the hurricane, the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century.

Governor Rosselló—the MIT-trained politician who was a Clinton delegate during the Democratic Party convention last year—dutifully suppressed this information during Trump’s visit. The president later praised Rosselló for “not playing politics.”

Trump previously denounced Puerto Rican residents for the massive debt owed to the Wall Street banks, which is the result of the island’s colonial legacy, a decades-long economic recession and wholesale looting by financial speculators who control Puerto Rican debt. Rosselló and his predecessors have imposed savage austerity measures, and the island, which declared bankruptcy last May, is currently under the dictatorship of a financial oversight board imposed by the Obama administration.

During a press conference, Trump—who is proposing the largest tax cut for corporations and the rich in history—complained that the recovery effort was costing the US government too much money. “Now I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”

Rosselló, who has revised upward his government’s estimate of the cost of rebuilding the island’s infrastructure to $90 billion, is seeking a low-interest emergency line of credit as soon as possible, saying otherwise the government will run out of public funds by next week.

Trump has complained that Puerto Rican residents are not helping themselves enough and are essentially expecting government handouts. Last week he poured scorn via text message from his luxury golf course on local officials, including the mayor of San Juan, for complaining about the slowness of the administration’s response.

Shortly after Trump had left the island, US federal authorities denied Puerto Rico’s petition that recipients of food stamps (which are used by 46 percent of the population) be allowed to purchase meals in fast-food restaurants, given the scarcity of food in the island’s supermarkets.

PUERTO RICO MAYOR SLAMS TRUMP FOR ‘TERRIBLE AND ABOMINABLE’ STUNT For throwing paper towels into the crowd of people while visiting the hurricane-hit territory and not meeting with local leaders. In his visit Tuesday, Trump downplayed the damage in Puerto Rico, saying it’s not “a real catastrophe like Katrina.” The death toll has risen to 34 from Hurricane Maria.

THE DEVASTATION OF PUERTO RICO COULD WRECK THE PHARMACEUTICAL MARKET “Federal officials and major drugmakers are scrambling to prevent national shortages of critical drugs for treating cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as medical devices and supplies, that are manufactured at 80 plants in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.” [NYT]

INSIDE THE NEW YORK IVANKA AND DONALD TRUMP JR. STORY THAT HAS THE CITY ABUZZ “Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office was busy probing a felony fraud case involving siblings Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in 2012. But after Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, intervened, the investigation was dropped within months, according to a report from ProPublica, The New Yorker and WNYC” [HuffPost]

Wall Street demands Puerto Rico pay up: here.

What dragonflies eat, new study

This video says about itself:

The Secret World of Dragonflies | Short Film Showcase

17 December 2014

The colorful, acrobatic dragonfly may seem familiar, but this stunning macro film reveals the mysteries behind its metamorphic life cycle—and some surprising adaptations.

See more from filmmaker Andy Holt here.

Learn about the making of this film here.

From the University of Turku in Finland:

What is on the menu for dragonflies

October 3, 2017

Researchers from the Universities of Turku and Helsinki, Finland, are the first in the world to discover which species adult dragonflies and damselflies prey upon, as modern laboratory techniques enabled the study of the insects’ diet. In the study, prey DNA was extracted from the tiny dragonfly droppings and the researchers managed to identify dozens of prey species from the samples. The results shed light on dragonflies’ position in natural food webs with an unprecedented specificity.

Dragonflies and damselflies, i.e. the odonates, are numerous and quite large insects. As adults, they control the air space as the apex predators of invertebrates. However, the diet of dragonflies has never been resolved comprehensively as it is difficult to observe them catching or eating their prey. Now for the first time, a research group led by Finnish scientists has established which insects the adult dragonflies prey on.

The dragonflies’ menu was studied by extracting and identifying the DNA of prey species from faecal samples. With this method, the researchers were able to identify in detail which insects the three studied dragonfly species had eaten and a large group of different prey species was identified as their prey. At the same time, the researchers discovered that the three dragonfly species prey upon practically the same species — and that they share their diet with birds and bats which are the dominant vertebrate predators.

The research group included researchers from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku, the Department of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Helsinki, and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

This study is very significant as dragonflies are at the top of the insect food webs all over the world and regulate the number of many other insect species. Therefore, it is important to know exactly which species they eat. From there, we can, for example, assess the dragonflies’ impact on the populations of those insects that are harmful to humans. Yet so far, the information on the diet of adult dragonflies has practically been based on individual visual observations of their prey, says Researcher and leader of the research group Kari Kaunisto from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku.

In the study, the researchers also tested the applicability of different methods for extracting DNA, and their results can be utilised in future research.

When Kari told me of his idea, I was immediately interested. It was surprising that no one had done this before and I accepted the challenge at once. Often in research, earlier studies provide a starting point for laboratory work, but in this case we had to start from the beginning. In a new project, it’s a good idea to test different methods and we wanted to lay a good foundation for future studies, says researcher Eero Vesterinen from the University of Helsinki, who in his earlier research has specialised in the research of feeding biology, especially by applying molecular research methods based on DNA.

As dragonflies are large insects, they have long interested researchers as well as nature lovers. The number of the odonate species is relatively small and identifying different species is easier than with other insect groups. Dragonflies are excellent model species for biological research also because they give indications of the state of both terrestrial and aquatic environments. Dragonflies spend their larval phase in water, after which they control the air space as the flying apex predators of invertebrates. The new study sheds additional light on dragonflies‘ role in the aerial food web, notes Professor of Insect Ecology Tomas Roslin from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who also participated in the study.

The study was recently published in the international Ecology and Evolution journal.

Spanish police brutality, its supporters and opponents

This ReelNews video says about itself:

Powerful end to general strike in Barcelona as dockers join huge demonstration

3 October 2017

General strike, Barcelona: Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better …. 1,000 dockers march up the Ramblas to join the main demonstration of the day, led by women – as are all the mobilisations here.

The dockers have refused to service the ships housing the Spanish police from the moment they got there, and have been at the heart of working class resistance to state oppression and police violence. As to the demo itself, you’d need a helicopter to work out how many people were there – every road around Placa Catalunya was so full that you couldn’t even move, let alone march. This is a very angry, very confident, very well organised movement that’s getting stronger and stronger.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Hundreds of thousands protest Madrid’s repression in Catalonia

4 October 2017

After Sunday’s brutal crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum by Spanish police and paramilitary civil guards left over 900 people injured, hundreds of thousands demonstrated in cities across Catalonia amidst a “national work stoppage.” The protest was called by Catalan separatist parties, trade unions and business groups, with the backing of the Catalan regional government.

Youth, shopkeepers, and workers in various industries stayed away from work or marched, including in mass rallies of tens of thousands of people in Barcelona. It made clear yet again that the police’s failure to shut down the referendum last Sunday, amid a mass mobilization of the Catalan population, reflected broad popular opposition to authoritarian forms of rule.

Tens of thousands protested in Barcelona throughout the day in front of the headquarters in the region of the ruling Popular Party, the National Police and the civil guards with chants of “The streets will always be ours.” Outside Barcelona, thousands filled the main squares of towns and cities throughout Catalonia.

Pickets blocked 57 roads, and many small businesses closed. Almost all schools were closed, as students stayed away. Seventy-five percent of public health workers did not go to work, according to the Catalan Health Ministry. Dockworkers closed down the ports of Barcelona and Tarragona. The agricultural sector was inactive during the day, and the rice farmers of the Ebro Delta interrupted the harvest.

Catalonia’s main cultural institutions—the National Theater of Catalonia, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, or the Ateneu Barcelonès—were closed. Barcelona’s main monuments, including the Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and the Museum of F.C. Barcelona, also closed.

Workers at Mercabarna, Barcelona’s main food-trading estate overseeing wholesale markets supplying over 10 million people, also went on strike. At the Nissan car factory, 70 percent of the autoworkers went on strike, forcing the factory to shut down.

These protests have shown the deep-rooted opposition in broad layers of the population against mass repression and authoritarianism. … This requires the mobilization of the working class throughout all of Spain and across Europe in struggle against the danger of police-state rule.

The entire Spanish political establishment has closed ranks behind the savage actions of the police on Sunday, while 16,000 civil guards and police are still in Catalonia. Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido has denounced mounting protests outside hotels in Catalonia lodging the Spanish police as “intolerable harassment.”

The Union of Civil Guard Officers, an association of the paramilitary force, posted a statement claiming that they have been “abandoned to their fate, betrayed by disloyal Mossos d’Esquadra [Catalan regional police], incited by treacherous politicians.”

It calls on the leaders of the PP, the PSOE and of the Citizens to “act, to let us loose.” It concludes stating in a fascistic rant: “The Civil Guard dies, but they never give up. The Civil Guard is to serve with honor to its State, with loyalty, with abnegation, with firmness, with prudence, being calm before the danger … Civil guards do not pour gasoline into the fire, like some politicians who are craving for the state’s fracture, anarchy, revolution, nonsense.”

The endorsement of police violence is accompanied by intense discussions of the implementation of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would pave the way for the Spanish army and police to take over the Catalan regional government and put the region under their rule.

The minority PP government is waiting for the backing of the Socialist Party. Although the PP could apply Article 155 alone, PP parliamentary spokesperson Rafael Hernando considered that “such a measure must have the greatest possible support.”

Yesterday, the PSOE adopted a position of studied equivocation as to whether it will endorse a military-police onslaught against Catalonia. In a press conference after a PSOE Executive meeting, Secretary for Federal Policy Patxi López was repeatedly asked about the party’s position on Article 155. He said, “First we will see if the [Catalan] Parliament makes a unilateral declaration of independence, then we will see what are the state’s mechanisms to avoid and stop such madness.”

Citizens, which first emerged as a Catalan anti-secessionist party before jumping into national politics, is demanding Rajoy invoke Article 155 to stop a unilateral declaration on independence, over which the secessionists are still divided. Citizens’ leader Albert Rivera said, “If anybody has a proposal, let them say so now, because there’s 72 hours left before [the Catalan government] declares independence, and that’s something that cannot be stopped with a registered fax from the Constitutional Court.”

Sections of Spain’s right-wing press are baying for blood, arguing for invoking Article 155 to proceed with mass repression, arrests, and layoffs of workers deemed disloyal to the state. In an opinion piece in conservative daily ABC, Manuel Marín argued against any negotiations with the Catalan nationalists, advocating instead the use of Article 155.

He wrote that invoking this clause “would lead to violence in the streets … And millions of supporters and detractors throughout Spain should prepare themselves mentally to attend arrests, suspensions, disqualifications from public office and an aggressive street insurrection that shall be stifled. Hatred would cease to be controllable even by the instigators of the [secessionist] farce.”

There is deep opposition in the working class in Spain and across Europe to these wild, fascistic threats.

This video says about itself:

Rajoy wins Trump support over Catalonia

26 September 2017

US President Donald Trump and Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have both voiced opposition to an independence referendum in Spain’s Catalonia which the separatist region has scheduled this weekend.

Rajoy arrived in the United States Monday (Sept 25) for a visit aimed at deepening ties with a country that is “a friend and an ally” of Spain.

By Chris Marsden:

Defenders of imperialist “human rights” hail Spanish government’s crackdown in Catalonia

4 October 2017

The brutal crackdown on Sunday’s Catalan independence referendum by the Spanish state has deeply shocked millions of people all over the world.

The government of one of the world’s leading “democracies” has sent in armed police, hailed by fascist demonstrators, to savagely beat and arrest anyone who dared to exercise their fundamental right to vote. Barcelona, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, has been transformed overnight into a war zone.

In the midst of this bloodbath, the United States and the European Union have leapt to the defence of the Spanish government. The columnists of the leading newspapers, who specialize in crying rivers over human rights abuses by governments the US seeks to overturn, have praised the Spanish government as a model of democracy and constitutional rule.

Typical is a column entitled “Damage to Catalonia” published Tuesday in the New York Times by Roger Cohen, who has for decades made it his business to sell wars to the American population.

Cohen declares that the government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy “was right on the basics. The Catalan referendum was a reckless sham.” He adds, “The referendum was illegitimate, having been suspended by Spain’s constitutional court.”

Cohen concludes with an idiotic and pompous ode to the European Union worthy of Polonius: “In European sovereignty, not in more national flags, lies the bright future of every European of good will.”

Catalans are depicted as supporters of a “disruption-at-any-cost” upheaval, directed against “the postwar liberal order in Europe… embodied in the European Union and by the presence of the United States as an offsetting power in Europe,” which “over the past four decades has ushered Spain, and Catalonia within it, to a degree of prosperity and democratic stability unimaginable at Franco’s death.”

Such, no doubt, is the view from Cohen’s five-star hotel room, from which he makes his grand pronouncements about democracy and human rights.

But Spain is a country where unemployment now stands at 17.8 percent and at 38.6 percent for those under 25, and where half of all households have incomes below the official poverty level after years of austerity measures dictated jointly by Brussels and the International Monetary Fund.

The hypocrisy of the New York Times is supplemented by outright lying on the part of the Washington Post, which portrays the Catalan referendum result as the product of Russian scheming against the European Union.

Images of “Spanish riot police firing rubber bullets and swinging truncheons at would-be voters in Catalonia on Sunday handed the region’s leaders the perfect story line,” the Post complains, when the political crisis in Spain is in fact the product of “a reckless and irresponsible drive by Catalan nationalists to create an independent republic in violation of the law…”

The Post goes on to cite both the European Commission and President Trump as authoritative voices opposing separatism, as against “separatist-ruled Scotland, the pariah government of Venezuela and Russia’s intelligence and propaganda apparatus,” which, it claims, has “mobilised its media outlets and social media bots in support of the separatists” to divide and weaken “the democratic West.”

The US media is, as always, a vehicle for crude pro-imperialist propaganda. But the same essential line is repeated by the British Financial Times. Rajoy’s repression is unfortunate, it editorialises, because it “risks giving credence to the separatists’ arguments that modern Spain has not shaken off its authoritarian past.” But any declaration of independence would be “an irresponsible action devoid of legal validity and political legitimacy” that would deservedly “encounter a frosty response from Spain’s European and US allies.”

One must suffer from acute political amnesia before accepting such debased moralising about respect for sovereignty and the rule of law. The only thing determining the line taken by the gentlemen of the press is the interests of their own ruling elites.

Time and time again, the same publications, the same journalists, have proclaimed the absolute right of separatist forces to break away from their parent state whenever this has advanced the predatory aims of the major powers.

Self-determination for minorities of every description, religious or ethnic, provided the ideological justification for the carve-up of Yugoslavia, the wars against Iraq, Libya and Syria, and every effort to encroach on the territories of the former Soviet Union since the recognition of Georgia in 1991.

Throughout the 1990s, Cohen wrote innumerable articles denouncing NATO for not acting more aggressively against Serbia and the Yugoslav central government in Belgrade in defence of the separatist movements in Bosnia and Kosovo, declaring in 2008 that “Milosevic’s quashing of Kosovo’s autonomy was central to his conversion of Yugoslavia into ‘Serboslavia’…”

Cohen’s columns helped promote the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, leading to the deaths of countless thousands of people. In his typically stupid and dishonest fashion, Cohen makes no effort to reconcile his support for Kosavar separatists and Islamist “rebels” in Syria, in the name of defending “human rights” against Slobodan Milošević and Bashar Al-Assad, with his fervent praise of Rajoy’s crackdown.

Such efforts to justify Madrid’s repression have the gravest implications.

The New York Times, Washington Post, et al are declaring illegitimate not only Catalan separatism, but all opposition to the existing capitalist order. And the unspoken target of the defence of the “rule of law” is the working class—not just in Catalonia and Spain, but throughout the continent.

And if the states and institutions that have imposed this savage assault are declared to be sacrosanct, then all forms of social and political opposition must be dealt with as ruthlessly as the Catalan referendum—including by military repression.

The embrace of Rajoy’s crackdown on the part of the EU and the Trump administration is entirely in line with the drive toward authoritarianism, state violence and the suppression of democratic rights by governments around the world.

This threat is very real in Spain.

On Monday, Justice Minister Rafael Catala warned that the government would invoke Article 155 if the Catalan parliament declared independence. “The Article 155 is there. We will use the entire force of the law,” he warned.

Article 155 suspends regional government if “an autonomous community were not to fulfil the duties imposed upon it under the Constitution or other laws…” Its imposition would only be made possible by sending in the army.

The threat was underscored by yesterday’s extraordinary intervention by King Felipe VI, who delivered a speech denouncing the Catalan government for having “placed themselves outside the law and democracy” and proclaiming the “responsibility of the legitimate powers of the state to ensure the constitutional order.”

The International Committee of the Fourth International opposes the politics of Catalan nationalism from the left. But the struggle against nationalism, including national separatism, is a political struggle that requires convincing the working class of the need to fight for international unity, and to rally the youth and progressive sections of the middle class around it.

That fight must unfold on the basis of uncompromising opposition to the violence unleashed by the government in Madrid and sanctioned by the imperialist European Union.

Meanwhile the site Naciódigital in Catalonia mentions criticisms in foreign media of Spanish police brutality; and of King Felipe VI of Spain supporting that brutality.

The Times on Catalonia

This picture shows the headline of an article in London daily The Times, which is rather critical of the police brutality and King Felipe VI’s whitewashing of it.

A bit surprising, as The Times is part of the Rupert Murdoch empire, which usually supports right-wingers like Rajoy and oppression all over the world. Maybe the conflict between the British and Spanish right-wing governments on Gibraltar, to which King Felipe contributed as well, plays a role in this?

The Times notes:

He [the king] did not mention the more than 800 people who were injured when riot police raided polling stations to stop last Sunday’s independence referendum.

The Wall Street Journal, also part of the Murdoch empire, reported s=rsprisingly objectively on the Barcelona anti-police brutality march of 3 October:

Marches Tuesday were led by Catalan firefighters in orange jackets and yellow helmets. Others were guided by leftist theater troupes and union longshoremen from the Port of Barcelona. There were anarchists and families with children in strollers. Some demonstrators covered themselves in makeup that mimicked ashes. The demonstrations were peaceful, by turns somber and festive.

Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, also not really a revolutionary paper, reacted:

Spain needs international mediation – not monarchy intervention which looks like a mistaken last throw of the dice on Catalonia.

Daily The Guardian in Britain wrote:

The king made no mention of the violence that marred the referendum when Spanish police officers raided polling stations, beat would-be voters and fired rubber bullets at crowds.

Belgium and Catalonia

This picture is about the Belgian Minister of the Interior supporting Catalan independence.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports:

Sympathy for Catalan independence grows in Madrid

For months now the media in Madrid have taken a hardline course against the Catalan independence referendum. The Spanish government’s response to the vote on Sunday inspired a change of heart.

The Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB-PVDA) condemns the brutal violence of the Spanish police in Catalonia and calls for dialogue. “We condemn the brutal violence by the Spanish State and plead for a negotiated solution”, says PTB-PVDA chairman Peter Mertens: here.

The actions of the Spanish police in Catalonia today must be condemned by the Dutch government and the European Union, insists SP [Dutch Socialist party] Member of Parliament Renske Leijten. “The pictures of unarmed people, with their hands up, being pulled over and thrown to the ground by the Spanish military police, are a bombshell. This violent attack against one’s own people has no place in a democracy”: here.

Big Jurassic crocodile discovery in Britain

This video says about itself:

2 October 2017

British waters are reassuringly free of deadly reptiles today – but 163 million years ago a sea crocodile dubbed the ‘Melksham monster’ lurked on our shores.

Scientists have established that the 10-foot long creature, named after the town in Wiltshire where its fossil was unearthed, lived in the warm, shallow seas that covered much of what is now Europe.

The heavily damaged fossil had been sitting in the archives of London’s Natural History Museum since 1875.

Its identification reveals that an extinct group of aquatic reptiles evolved millions of years earlier than was previously thought.

The creature’s powerful jaws and large, serrated teeth allowed it to feed on large prey including prehistoric squid, and it was one of the most fearsome predators of its day.

Modern crocodiles are largely found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Their ancient ancestor is named Ieldraan melkshamensis after the Wiltshire town of Melksham where it was found preserved in clay.

Its name also means ‘older one’ because it was thought until now that the sub-family of prehistoric crocodiles to which it belongs – known as Geosaurini – originated in the Late Jurassic period, between 152 and 157 million years ago.

In fact, the latest discovery – together with detailed re-analysis of existing fossil evidence – suggests the group arose millions of years earlier, in the Middle Jurassic.

It was identified as a new species based on distinctive features of its skull, lower jaw and, in particular, its teeth.

Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who was involved in the study, said: ‘The Melksham Monster would have been one of the top predators in the oceans of Jurassic Britain, at the same time that dinosaurs were thundering across the land.’

From the University of Edinburgh in Scotland:

Monstrous crocodile fossil points to early rise of ancient reptiles

October 2, 2017

A newly identified prehistoric marine predator has shed light on the origins of the distant relatives of modern crocodiles.

The discovery reveals that an extinct group of aquatic reptiles evolved millions of years earlier than was previously thought, researchers say.

Palaeontologists at the University of Edinburgh discovered the new species — which dates back 163 million years — by studying a heavily damaged fossil which was held in the Natural History Museum‘s archives for almost 150 years.

The ancient reptile — called Ieldraan melkshamensis — has been nicknamed the Melksham Monster after the town in England where it was unearthed.

Until now, it was thought that the sub-family of prehistoric crocodiles to which the new species belongs — known as Geosaurini — originated in the Late Jurassic period, between 152 and 157 million years ago.

However, the latest discovery — together with detailed re-analysis of existing fossil evidence — suggests that the group arose millions of years earlier, in the Middle Jurassic, the team says.

The little-studied specimen — acquired by the museum in 1875 — was identified as a new species based on distinctive features of its skull, lower jaw and, in particular, its teeth.

The study, published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, was carried out in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, London. The research was funded by Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.

Davide Foffa, a PhD student in the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: “It’s not the prettiest fossil in the world, but the Melksham Monster tells us a very important story about the evolution of these ancient crocodiles and how they became the apex predators in their ecosystem. Without the amazing preparation work done by our collaborators at the Natural History Museum, it would not have been possible to work out the anatomy of this challenging specimen.”

Mark Graham, Senior Fossil Preparator at the Natural History Museum, said: “The specimen was completely enclosed in a super-hard rock nodule with veins of calcite running through, which had formed around it during the process of fossilisation. This unyielding matrix had to be removed by force, using carbon steel tipped chisels and grinding wheels encrusted with industrial diamonds. The work took many hours over a period of weeks, and great care had to be taken to avoid damaging the skull and teeth as they became exposed. This was one tough old croc in life and death!”