British pro-peace artist Peter Kennard exhibition


Union Mask (2003), Warhead (1986), and Broken Missiles (1980). Photo: Peter Kennard

By Len Phelan in England:

Monday, June 11, 2018

Exhibition Review: Art of protest and survival

Peter Kennard‘s exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of CND is a potent reminder of why its message is so vital, says LEN PHELAN

Art Against War: Peter Kennard and the CND Movement
Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

THE SABRE-RATTLING over the Korean peninsula a few months ago saw the spectre of nuclear conflagration again loom into view, a vision chillingly reinforced by the hands of the Doomsday Clock — the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ symbol representing the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe — moving to two minutes off midnight.

Arms Conversion (1986) and Haywain with Cruise Missiles (1981) by Peter Kennard

So to say that this exhibition, marking the 60th anniversary of the foundation of CND, is timely is something of an understatement.

It draws together works by Peter Kennard, one of this country’s most significant political artists, who for decades has supported the campaign founded in 1958 in response to the detonation of Britain’s first hydrogen bomb and the housing of US nuclear weapons in this country.

His photomontages have ensured that the movement, and the striking imagery that came to represent it, have been etched into the public consciousness, none more so than his 1980 image Protest and Survive, depicting a skeleton reading a civil “defence” booklet which skewers the idiocy of government propaganda, or the portrait of Tony Blair taking a selfie in front of a massive conflagration during the Iraq war.

Kennard, who trained as a fine artist, turned from painting to photomontage in the late 1960s and, drawing on the traditions of constructivism and the techniques of early pioneers like John Heartfield, developed his unique and instantly recognisable subversion of the familiar and the iconic.

Running Out (2005) and Firth of Clyde (1980) by Peter Kennard

Thus John Constable’s bucolic Hay Wain has a trio of Cruise missiles ready for launch, a monochrome Trident submarine looms out of what initially appears to be a banal colour postcard, the world mutates into a gas mask and, Transformers-like, a tank is reconstructed as a digger.

“I want to encourage people to think about their own situation and activate”, Kennard has said. “But I’m not trying to tell them to do this or that. I’m just trying to show how I see the world at the moment.”

How he’d like it to be transformed is memorably represented in the image Warhead, where a nuclear missile is decapitated by the CND symbol. A familiar sight on anti-war demonstrations, its brilliant visual economy in representing what the campaign is all about six decades on demonstrates why Kennard remains such a potent recruiting sergeant for the peace movement.

The exhibition, which is free, runs until October 7, opening times: museums-sheffield.org.uk.

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Brazil’s oldest mammal named after David Bowie


This 29 May 2018 video, in Portuguese, is about the newly discovered dinosaur age mammal Brasilestes stardusti from Brazil.

From the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo in Brazil:

Discovery of the oldest mammal in Brazil pays tribute to David Bowie

June 11, 2018

Summary: Brasilestes stardusti lived around 70 million years ago and was named after Ziggy Stardust, the singer’s iconic persona. Description was based on a fossilized tooth. It’s the 1st indication that placental mammals and dinosaurs co-existed in South America. For scientists, fossil features showed similarities with another pre-historic mammal found in India, suggesting both shared a common ancestral native from the Gondwana supercontinent.

Brasilestes stardusti is the name given to the oldest known mammal found in Brazil. It lived in what is now the northwest of São Paulo State at the end of the Mesozoic Era between 87 million and 70 million years ago. It is the only Brazilian mammal known to have coexisted with the dinosaurs.

The discovery of Brasilestes was announced on May 30, 2018, by a team led by Max Langer, a professor at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto School of Philosophy, Science & Letters (FFCLRP-USP). Langer’s team included colleagues at the Federal University of Goiás and the University of Campinas in Brazil, La Plata Museum in Argentina, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

Physically speaking, Brasilestes consists of a fossilized premolar tooth with a maximum crown length of 3.5 mm. “The tooth is small and incomplete: the roots are missing,” said paleontologist Mariela Cordeiro de Castro, first author of the paper recently published in Royal Society Open Science.

“Small but not tiny”, Castro continued. “Although it’s only 3.5 mm, the Brasilestes tooth is three times bigger than all known Mesozoic mammal teeth. In the age of the dinosaurs, most mammals were the size of mice. Brasilestes was far larger, about the size of an opossum.”

The name of the new species pays tribute to British rock star David Bowie, who died in January 2016, a month after the fossil was found. Brasilestes stardusti alludes to Ziggy Stardust, an extraterrestrial character created by Bowie for a 1972 album.

The research was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation — FAPESP as part of the thematic project “The origin and rise of dinosaurs in Gondwana (late Triassic-early Jurassic)”, for which Langer is principal investigator.

The fossilized tooth was found in a rocky outcrop of the Adamantina Formation in General Salgado, São Paulo State. The rocks are in a field on a ranch called Fazenda Buriti.

“We were visiting Mesozoic outcrops when Júlio Marsola [another member of the team], keen-sighted as a lynx, spotted a small tooth sticking up out of a rock”, said Castro, a professor at the Federal University of Goiás (UFG).

“The General Salgado deposits are well-known. Several Mesozoic crocodiles have come from them. The particular outcrop where I found Brasilestes is interesting, with dozens of fragments of Mesozoic crocodile eggshells. I bent down to look more closely at a small part of the outcrop to see if there were any eggshells and spotted the tooth. If it had stayed out in the open like that for a few more days, the rain would have swept it away.

“When I noticed what appeared to resemble the base of the tooth’s two roots [the roots themselves have broken off], I thought it must be a mammal. Laboratory analysis gave us the certainty that it is indeed from a mammal.”

A placental mammal in the Botucatu Desert

While a mere 3.5 mm tooth, especially an incomplete one, may seem insufficient to describe a new species of mammal, in actual, fact extinct mammals are frequently described on the basis of a single fossilized tooth.

This is because teeth are the most durable part of the mammalian skeleton. After all, they have to withstand the wear and tear of chewing for an entire lifetime. In contrast, many fish species and reptiles, for example, grow new teeth continually throughout their lives. Indeed, mammalian teeth are often the only skeletal remains that stay intact long enough to become fossilized.

The fact that a single premolar is all that is left of Brasilestes and that it is incomplete prevented the researchers from distinguishing with absolute confidence the group of mammals to which the species belonged. They know the tooth belonged to a therian, a member of a large subclass of Mammalia that includes marsupials and placentals.

Although there is not enough evidence to support the inclusion of Brasilestes in either infraclass, the researchers believe (but cannot categorically conclude) it was a placental mammal. If so, the fossil is unique.

Today, there are three major groups of mammals, namely, placentals, marsupials and monotremes. All three evolved during the Mesozoic Era. At that time, however, they were by no means the only groups of mammals. There were also multituberculates, which were common in the northern hemisphere, as well as groups typical of the southern hemisphere such as meridiolestids and gondwanatherians — named for Gondwana, the ancient southern supercontinent that gave rise to Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, and India.

The first Mesozoic mammal fossils were found in Argentinian Patagonia in the early 1980s, and some 30 species are now known. Until the Brasilestes announcement, these were the only ones found in South America. None remotely resembles the little tooth found in Brazil.

“When I showed the Brasilestes fossil to Edgardo Ortiz-Jaureguizar, a paleontologist at La Plata Museum, he was very surprised. He said he’d never seen anything like it, and at once showed it to another specialist at the same institution, Francisco Goin, who had the same reaction. Goin said Brasilestes resembled no other Mesozoic mammal found in Argentina, hence in South America”, Castro recalled.

Among the 30-odd Argentinian species of Mesozoic mammals, there are meridiolestids, gondwanatherians, and even a few suspected multituberculates. There are no marsupials or placentals. The only fossils in these two groups found in South America date from after the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago in an event that marks the end of the Mesozoic and the onset of the current geological era, the Cenozoic.

Until the discovery of Brasilestes, the only traces of Mesozoic mammals in Brazil were hundreds of tracks and footprints left by unknown creatures 130 million years ago as they traversed the dunes of the Botucatu Desert in what is now São Paulo State. The solidified surface of those dunes has been preserved as sandstone slabs on which the footprints can be seen.

In 1993, Reinaldo José Bertini , a professor at São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Rio Claro, announced the discovery of a mammalian jawbone fragment with a single tooth far smaller than the Brasilestes premolar. However, Bertini did not publish a detailed study of the fossil and therefore could not name a new species.

“Brasilestes is not just the first Brazilian Mesozoic mammal to be described but also one of the few Mesozoic mammals found in more central regions of South America. The Argentinian fossils were found in geological formations in Patagonia, the southern tip of the continent”, Langer said.

“Furthermore, Brasilestes is different from everything found before, suggesting that possibly placental mammals inhabited South America between 87.8 million and 70 million years ago,” said the FAPESP thematic project coordinator.

New species possibly related to a mammal from India

Even more surprisingly, the Mesozoic mammal with premolars that most resemble the Brasilestes tooth lived on the other side of the world, in India, between 70 million and 66 million years ago. Its name is Deccanolestes. No other creature in the global fossil record is so similar to Brasilestes.

How could two members of the same lineage have lived so far apart in unconnected regions? Approximately 100 million years ago, when South America and Africa had only just been separated by the opening of the South Atlantic, India was breaking away from Gondwana and starting to wander through the Indian Ocean.

This implies that at least 100 million years ago, the ancestors of Brasilestes and Deccanolestes populated the Gondwana supercontinent. In other words, the lineage to which Brasilestes and Deccanolestes belong is far older than the ages of their fossils — between 87 million and 70 million years ago for Brasilestes, and between 70 million and 66 million for Deccanolestes.

“The discovery of Brasilestes raises many more questions than answers about the biogeography of South American Mesozoic mammals”, Langer said. “Thanks to Brasilestes, we’ve realized that the history of Gondwana’s mammals is more complex than we thought.”

Finding triggers speculation on xenarthrans’ origins

This could give rise to new hypotheses and new lines of investigation. Who knows, for example, whether future research inspired by the discovery of Brasilestes will reveal the origin of a typical South American group, the xenarthrans, the order of armadillos, anteaters and sloths? Castro’s main research interest, in fact, is the evolutionary history of the xenarthrans.

“An interesting feature of the Brasilestes premolar is its superthin enamel, which is only 20 micrometers thick. The Brasilestes enamel is the thinnest of any Cretaceous mammal in the fossil record. Most Mesozoic mammals have enamel in the range of 100 to 300 micrometers”, Castro said.

“Tens of known species of xenarthrans are alive now. Hundreds are extinct. Only three have enamel. The microstructure of Brasilestes’ premolar enamel is very similar to that of the nine-banded armadillo“, said the FAPESP-supported researcher.

According to Castro, “molecular clock evidence suggests the xenarthran lineage started at least 85 million years ago. However, the oldest armadillo fossils, found in Rio de Janeiro, are about 50 million years old.”

While it is intriguing to imagine Brasilestes as an ancient xenarthran, it is far too soon for any such affirmation.

“The age and provenance of Brasilestes do match molecular hypotheses for the origin of the xenarthrans, but it would be premature to infer taxonomic affinity in light of the morphological differences between the Brasilestes tooth and armadillo teeth”, Castro said.

Langer agreed. “We have only one Brasilestes fossil. That’s nowhere near enough to extract conclusions from the fossil record”, he said.

The fact that no Mesozoic mammal fossils were found in Brazil before Brasilestes could mean such fossils are rare or too fragile to be preserved. “Who knows, one day we may find new Brasilestes fossils that help us understand its history better. It could take decades”, Langer said.

David Attenborough and wildlife of Tasmania


This video says about itself:

David Attenborough‘s Tasmania

Attenborough narrates the story of a vast island wilderness – ancient forests, pristine rivers & spectacular coastline. Seasons vary from dry heat, strong winds & cold bringing wombats, wallabies & platypus out in daylight. Broadcast on Australian Broadcasting Corporation 7:45pm Sun 3 Jun 2018.

‘Erdogan-ISIS mass murder collusion in Turkey’


This 24 August 2016 video by France 24 says about itself:

Turkey offensive in Syria: “Erdogan always favoured ISIS over the Kurds

By Steve Sweeney:

Monday, June 11, 2018

Erdogan‘s party accused of ordering deadly Isis suicide bombing

A Turkish news agency claims it obtained a classified EU intelligence report saying ‘there is reason to believe… forces within [Erdogan‘s party] commissioned’ the attack

TURKEY’s ruling party is alleged to have ordered Isis to carry out a deadly bomb attack that killed more than 100 people at a 2015 opposition election rally in Ankara.

The Ahval news website claimed it had been leaked a three-page European Union intelligence report that was released three days after the attack on a peace rally near Ankara train station which killed 109 people and injured at least 500 in October 2015.

The document was allegedly circulated as an urgent top classified briefing note that claimed “the modus operandi of the attack (suicide bombers) points to Da’esh.”

It concluded: “Given the circumstances (arriving buses with demonstrators not searched, police almost absent at the huge demonstration), there is reason to believe that in this case, forces within the AKP commissioned the Da’esh operatives.”

The bombing remains one of the worst attacks in Turkish history, targeting a rally of peace activists, trade unionists and People’s Democratic Party (HDP) supporters.

It occurred only months after the June 2015 elections in which the AKP lost its parliamentary majority and the pro-Kurdish HDP won its first seats in the Grand Assembly.

The report suggested that with another election looming in November 2015, “the last thing Erdogan really wants at this juncture is a Kurdish peace.”

Police were criticised for hindering emergency services in the aftermath as they blocked a road and fired tear gas at those wounded by the blast.

A trial hearing last November heard suspect Suphi Alpfida allege that police officers in Gaziantep knew about the bombings beforehand and personally knew the leaders of the Isis cell responsible.

It is alleged that police failed to act on an active arrest warrant leaving Isis mastermind Yunus Durmaz, who allegedly planned the Ankara attack and Suruc bombing, free to conduct the massacres.

Speaking at a rally today Mr Erdogan said he would approve the hanging of jailed presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas if Parliament requested it.

Mr Demirtas responded: “This is the election promise of a presidential candidate in 2018 Turkey, can you imagine? I would sacrifice my life a thousand times for the people and won’t ever take a step back.”

The European Union intelligence and situation centre had not responded to the Star’s request for comment at the time of going to print.

Turkish currency crisis looms as Erdogan appoints son-in-law as finance minister: here.

British Conservative smears Grenfell disaster survivors


Elizabeth Campbell (left), the Conservative leader of the council linked to Grenfell Tower, who has condemned comments by former Conservative MP Victoria Borwick (right) that compared the west London community to ’gangs‘

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Monday, June 11, 2018

Former Kensington Tory MP was always ‘hostile’ towards community, says Grenfell group

FORMER Kensington Tory MP Victoria Borwick was condemned today by a Grenfell Tower justice group for her “hostile” attitude towards the community after she likened them to “gangs”.

Ms Borwick was reported by the Mail yesterday to have emailed then council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown to say that it would be hard to help the less wealthy residents of the borough because “rather like gangs, they don’t go into another territory.”

She added that a “lack of education” among the residents compounded confusion over circumstances surrounding the fire that killed 72 people.

Moyra Samuels of Justice 4 Grenfell told the Star that Ms Borwick’s disdain was to be expected considering her track record.

The title of this baroness is Lady Borwick.

More about Lady Borwick’s track record, apart from her smearing of survivors of a bloody disaster:

Sneakily, May, Leadsom and the Tories have decided to abandon their previous commitment to introducing a total ban on the ivory trade in Britain. They have done it after heavy lobbying from wealthy London antiques traders who have been pressing the Prime Minister hard to drop the ban.

The most powerful antique traders association is the British Antique Dealers’ Association. Its president is Lady Victoria Borwick, Tory MP for Kensington and long-term pal and ally of May.

On average, an elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory and their population has fallen by almost a third in Africa since 2007. As I have warned in these pages before, the African elephant population is hurtling towards extinction in the wild.

The Lamiat Sabin article continues:

She said: “The comments from Victoria Borwick come as no surprise to many of us in North Kensington.

The disdainful and indifferent attitude of the council to the needs of the community before the fire happened is common knowledge.

“They have had a feudal attitude to North Kensington that has been exemplified in the closure or sell off of many community resources — like the Maxilla nursery and local library.

“Ms Borwick’s hostile attitude to Notting Hill Carnival has also revealed her fear and lack of knowledge of the local black and minority ethnic (BME) community, which is why she lost her seat.

“The only gang we see is the mafia that was the council cabinet.”

Kensington’s first ever Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, who unseated Ms Borwick less than a week before the fire, criticised her “shocking and repellent” comments towards constituents.

Conservative council leader Elizabeth Campbell condemned the comments as “completely wrong” and said she does not share her views.

She was quizzed about it on LBC radio today by Grenfell survivor Tiago Alves.

Ms Campbell took charge of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC) after Mr Paget-Brown quit following intense criticism over the fire.

‘There’s criminal complacency about the attitude to fire’. Fire Brigades Union leader MATT WRACK talks to the Star about the Grenfell inquiry, the firefighters’ pay freeze and the changing role of technology.