London Grenfell Tower disaster commemorated


The procession after a Grenfell disaster memorial service was held at St Helen's church in London, England

By Lamiat Sabin in England:

Friday, June 15, 2018

Grenfell Tower memorials and marches held to mark anniversary

Firefighters‘ union says authorities who failed to keep residents safe should be prosecuted

A MINUTE’S silence was observed up and down the country today on the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire that cut short the lives of 72 people.

Survivors, the bereaved and local residents held a private memorial at the tower’s base that the public watched from a screen outside.

Decorations in green – the colour for Grenfell – covered the streets.

The Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir opened and closed the memorial with renditions of Lean On Me and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

A community mosaic was unveiled and a poem and a passage from the Koran were read out.

The names of the 72 victims — including stillborn baby Logan Gomes and Maria del Pilar Burton, who died in hospital in January — were read out before the silence.

A memorial service for bereaved families and local community members also took place at the nearby St Helen’s Church.

Bishop of Kensington Dr Graham Tomlin said: “We could identify who was responsible, we can make building regulation changes, but unless we ask some more fundamental questions about the way we relate to each other in society and how we care for one another, then we will just go back to the way we normally are.

“I think Grenfell is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ask some really deep questions about the way we live together, the way we care for each other in society.”

Benches at the front were reserved for families of those who died, including relatives of Ali Yawar Jafari, Gary Maunders, Steve Power, Jessica Urbano-Ramirez, Ligaya Moore and the Choucair family.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) insisted that authorities and business owners who failed to keep Grenfell Tower safe should be prosecuted.

“A year after the devastation nobody has been arrested despite the obvious fact that Grenfell was a deathtrap“, said FBU general secretary Matt Wrack.

Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy, who was friends with victim Khadija Saye, condemned the “little support” the government and council have provided in the wake of the tragedy.

He added: “It needs to be much, much better, we need to get those people housed, and we need to continue to support those in the north Kensington area that are deeply traumatised.”

Thousands of people — including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — are expected to attend the silent march this evening, which has been held every month since the fire.

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Dinosaur age and modern frog discoveries


This 14 June 2018 video says about itself:

Frogs trapped in amber for 99 million years are giving a glimpse of a lost world. The tiny creatures have been preserved in sticky tree resin from the later part of the Age of the Dinosaurs.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History in the USA:

Amber fossils provide oldest evidence of frogs in wet, tropical forests

June 14, 2018

Summary: 99-million-year-old amber fossils from Myanmar provide the earliest evidence of frogs in wet, tropical forests.

About 99 million years ago, a tiny juvenile frog in present-day Myanmar was suddenly trapped in sap with a beetle, perhaps its intended next meal.

Unlucky for the frog, but lucky for science.

An extinct species now named Electrorana limoae, it’s one of four fossils that provide the earliest direct evidence of frogs living in wet, tropical forests and are the oldest-known examples of frogs preserved in amber.

“It’s almost unheard of to get a fossil frog from this time period that is small, has preservation of small bones and is mostly three-dimensional. This is pretty special,” said David Blackburn, study co-author and the associate curator of herpetology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “But what’s most exciting about this animal is its context. These frogs were part of a tropical ecosystem that, in some ways, might not have been that different to what we find today — minus the dinosaurs.”

The findings and species description were published today in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

Frogs have been around for at least 200 million years, but glimpsing their early heyday is tough. Often small and lightly built, frogs don’t tend to preserve well. The frog fossil record skews toward more robust species from arid, seasonal environments, although the bulk of frog diversity today lives in tropical forests.

“Ask any kid what lives in a rainforest, and frogs are on the list”, Blackburn said. “But surprisingly, we have almost nothing from the fossil record to say that’s a longstanding association.”

The amber deposits of northern Myanmar in Southeast Asia provide a unique record of ancient forest ecosystems, with fossil evidence of mosses, bamboo-like plants, aquatic spiders and velvet worms. The discovery of Electrorana and the other fossils, the first frogs to be recovered from these deposits, help add to our understanding of frogs in the Cretaceous period, showing they have inhabited wet, tropical forests for at least 99 million years.

Frogs in amber are quite rare, with previous examples found in the Dominican Republic and Mexico and dating back only about 40 million and 25 million years, respectively.

Less than an inch long, Electrorana is the most well-preserved of the group. Clearly visible in the amber are the frog’s skull, its forelimbs, part of its backbone, a partial hind limb and the unidentified beetle. The other amber fossils contain two hands and an imprint of a frog that likely decayed inside the resin.

But Electrorana raises more questions than it answers, Blackburn said.

Many characteristics herpetologists use to discern details of a frog’s life history and determine how it’s related to other frogs — wrist bones, the pelvis, hip bones, the inner ear, the top of the backbone — are either missing or were not yet fully developed in the juvenile frog.

The existing bones provide clues about Electrorana’s possible living relatives, Blackburn said, but the results are puzzling: Species that have similar features include fire-bellied toads and midwife toads — Eurasian species that live in temperate, not tropical, ecosystems.

Gathering CT skeletal data for both living and extinct frogs, one of Blackburn’s long-term projects, could help illuminate ancient evolutionary relationships, possibly clarifying how Electrorana fits into the frog tree of life.

In the meantime, Blackburn nurtures the hope that other frogs in amber will be discovered, making Electrorana more than a one-hit wonder.

“We don’t have a lot of single-species frog communities in forests. It seems extremely unlikely that there’s only one. There could be a lot more fossils coming.”

In a new study, researchers have investigated how the endocrine-disrupting substance linuron affects reproduction in the West African clawed frog, Xenopus tropicalis. The scientists found that linuron, which is used as a pesticicide, impaired the males’ fertility, and that tadpoles developed ovaries instead of testicles to a greater extent, which caused a female-biased sex ratio: here.

‘Psychic’ pig predicts World Cup four best teams


British pig Marcus predicting football World Cup with apples

From the Daily Trust in Nigeria, 13 June 2018:

Russia 2018: Psychic pig who predicted Trump’s victory picks Nigeria, Argentina for semi-final

The psychic pig Mystic Marcus that predicted President Donald Trump’s victory has picked Nigeria, Argentina as semi-finalists for the 2018 World Cup.

Mystic Marcus has a 100 per cent track record of predicting sports results according to his owner Juliette Stevens.

The black micro pig had previously guessed the winner of the 2014 World Cup and the Wimbledon tennis finals by picking apples.

And the eight-year-old prophesier even predicted Brexit and that Donald Trump would win the US presidential election.

Now Mystic Marcus is putting his skills to the test once more by forecasting the semi-finalists for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

With bad news for England fans, Mystic Marcus expects Belgium, Argentina, Nigeria and Uruguay to make it through.

Farmer and micro pig breeder Juliette from Heage, Derbyshire, said: ‘Marcus is the seventh child of a seventh child and apparently they’re gifted with special powers so maybe that’s where it comes from.

‘A few years ago I was invited on a radio show because of Paul the octopus predicting results and they wanted to see if I had any animals that had the ability.

‘I hadn’t tried the seventh child theory out so thought I’d give it a go.

‘They used apples and oranges and Marcus predicted the football results, it was amazing.’

Juliette, 50, said after that first result they changed the method to make it more scientific.

Now Mystic Marcus, who has about 30 children and grandchildren, will pick from apples of a similar size and colour to make it as fair as possible.

The apples will include markers – such as pictures or flags – and Marcus will gobble down the winner.

Predictions by ‘psychic’ animals deserve as much skepticism as ‘psychic’ humans, on football or on other issues.

Though they can be fun, like the toucan predicting the 2014 World Cup matches.

The ‘prophetic’ British pig does not expect World Cup host country Russia to make it to the semi finals.

Nevertheless, today in the opening game, they beat Saudi Arabia five to zero. The biggest score ever in a World Cup opening game.

This 14 June 2018 video is called Russia vs Saudi Arabia 5-0 | Post Match Analysis & Reactions – World Cup Group A.

Hyenas save baby from lions


This video from Kenya says about itself:

Lions mess with the wrong hyena clan

11 June 2018

Because lions and hyenas both consume the same prey, they are each others’ most common competitors. Lions are three to four times larger than hyenas and hunt larger animals. A group of hyenas, however, can often use teamwork to intimidate a lion away from its meal. Both lions and hyenas frequently steal from each other. Lions have learned to recognize the feeding calls of hyenas after a recent hunt. They follow the calls to the source and chase the hyenas from their prey. Although it would seem abundant prey would lessen the hostility, the opposite has been observed.

In this sighting the lioness was trying to catch a young hyena and the hyena clan would have none of it, this lioness was very lucky to survive this ordeal.

Filmed in Masai Mara.