Dinosaur age predatory fish discovery

This image shows a new piranha-like fish from Jurassic seas with sharp, pointed teeth that probably fed on the fins of other fishes. From the time of dinosaurs and from the same deposits that contained Archaeopteryx, scientists recovered both this flesh-tearing fish and its scarred prey. Credit: M. Ebert and T. Nohl

From ScienceDaily:

150-million-year old, piranha-like specimen is earliest known flesh-eating fish

October 18, 2018

Researchers reporting in Current Biology on October 18 have described a remarkable new species of fish that lived in the sea about 150 million years ago in the time of the dinosaurs. The new species of bony fish had teeth like a piranha, which the researchers suggest they used as piranhas do: to bite off chunks of flesh from other fish.

As further support for that notion, the researchers also found the victims: other fish that had apparently been nibbled on in the same limestone deposits in South Germany (the quarry of Ettling in the Solnhofen region) where this piranha-like fish was found.

“We have other fish from the same locality with chunks missing from their fins”, says David Bellwood of James Cook University, Australia. “This is an amazing parallel with modern piranhas, which feed predominantly not on flesh but the fins of other fishes. It’s a remarkably smart move as fins regrow, a neat renewable resource. Feed on a fish and it is dead; nibble its fins and you have food for the future.”

The newly described fish is part of the world famous collections in the Jura-Museum in Eichstätt. It comes from the same limestone deposits that contained Archaeopteryx.

Careful study of the fossilized specimen’s well-preserved jaws revealed long, pointed teeth on the exterior of the vomer, a bone forming the roof of the mouth, and at the front of both upper and lower jaws. Additionally, there are triangular teeth with serrated cutting edges on the prearticular bones that lie along the side of the lower jaw.

The tooth pattern and shape, jaw morphology, and mechanics suggest a mouth equipped to slice flesh or fins, the international team of researchers report. The evidence points to the possibility that the early piranha-like fish may have exploited aggressive mimicry in a striking parallel to the feeding patterns of modern piranha.

“We were stunned that this fish had piranha-like teeth,” says Martina Kölbl-Ebert of Jura-Museum Eichstätt (JME-SNSB). “It comes from a group of fishes (the pycnodontids) that are famous for their crushing teeth. It is like finding a sheep with a snarl like a wolf. But what was even more remarkable is that it was from the Jurassic. Fish as we know them, bony fishes, just did not bite flesh of other fishes at that time. Sharks have been able to bite out chunks of flesh but throughout history bony fishes have either fed on invertebrates or largely swallowed their prey whole. Biting chunks of flesh or fins was something that came much later.”

Or, so it had seemed.

“The new finding represents the earliest record of a bony fish that bit bits off other fishes, and what’s more it was doing it in the sea”, Bellwood says, noting that today’s piranhas all live in freshwater. “So when dinosaurs were walking the earth and small dinosaurs were trying to fly with the pterosaurs, fish were swimming around their feet tearing the fins or flesh off each other.”

The researchers call the new find a “staggering example of evolutionary versatility and opportunism.” With one of the world’s best known and studied fossil deposits continuing to throw up such surprises, they intend to keep up the search for even more fascinating finds.


Trump and murderous Saudi prince, musical parody

This 18 October 2018 music video from Britain is a parody of The Sound of Silence, by Simon and Garfunkel.

It says about itself:

Salman & Trumpfunkel – Saud of Silence

Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman join forces on this poignant duet.

LYRICS: Salman: Hello Donald, my ally
Trumpfunkle: So great to be here, Saudi guy
Salman: I’d like to buy more of your weapons
So we can go and use them in Yemen
But there’s just one thing that I need you to help me with
Trumpfunkle: Sure, what is it?
Salman: I need a vow of silence

You see, I killed this journalist
Because I just couldn’t resist
Trumpfunkle: Oh yeah, you know I really hate those guys
They write fake news about my Russia ties
Salman: Then we agree dissentShould be muscularly suppressed
Don’t need free press
I need a Saud of silence

Trumpfunkle: Hey Saudi guy, I’ve got a plan
To force regime change in Iran
Salman: Yes, I can help you out with this as well
As spending fortunes at your Trump hotels
Trumpfunkle: That’s so great, I’ll go on TV now
And say rogue killers did it all
Salman: Hey, thanks
Donald: I need this Saud of silence

TRUMP PRAISES GOP REP WHO ASSAULTED REPORTER President Donald Trump praised Republican lawmaker Greg Gianforte, who last year assaulted a Guardian reporter. “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy,” Trump said at a rally in Montana, as supporters cheered him on. The blowback on social media was swift. [HuffPost]

One company that’s sticking with the event is The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., which will host the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh next week. [HuffPost]

Breivik’s mass murder in Norway, new film

This 4 September 2018 video says about itself:

In 22 JULY, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, UNITED 93) tells the true story of the aftermath of Norway’s deadliest terrorist attack. On 22 July 2011, 77 people were killed when a far-right extremist detonated a car bomb in Oslo before carrying out a mass shooting at a leadership camp for teens. 22 JULY uses the lens of one survivor’s physical and emotional journey to portray the country’s path to healing and reconciliation.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Paul Greengrass’s 22 July: Neo-fascist mass murder in Norway

18 October 2018

Written, directed and produced by Paul Greengrass

The Netflix fiction feature 22 July, written, directed and produced by veteran British filmmaker Paul Greengrass, recreates the horrific massacre in Norway on July 22, 2011, during which 77 people were killed in a neo-fascist terrorist attack. The English-language movie features an all-Norwegian cast and crew.

Greengrass specializes in dramatizing traumatic episodes where masses of people undergo violent attack, either by government forces or terrorists. He is perhaps best known for his 2002 docudrama, Bloody Sunday, about the 1972 shooting of 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators by British soldiers in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Omagh (2004), a television film he co-produced and co-wrote, dealt with the 1998 bombing carried out in Northern Ireland by the Real Irish Republican Army, which killed 29 people.

Greengrass also directed The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, a 1999 television film exposing police racism and brutality. More recently, he made United 93 (2006), focused on the commandeering of one of the planes during the 9/11 attack, and Captain Phillips (2013), about the Somali pirate hijacking of a US cargo ship. He was also at the helm for three of the five loosely anti-CIA Bourne series, as well as the tepid Green Zone (2010), about the Iraq War.

22 July is a graphic depiction of the 2011 butchery. The movie opens as neo-Nazi terrorist Anders Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) is building explosives in a remote Norwegian farm house. In a carefully planned assault, he detonates a powerful bomb in the vicinity of government buildings in the center of Oslo, the country’s capital. As officials move to protect Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Ola G. Furuseth) from possible attack and security forces concentrate on the bombing, Breivik coldly moves on to a second and far greater slaughter.

The target is Utøya island 20 miles northwest of Oslo, where a summer camp run by the youth section of Norway’s ruling Labour Party is taking place. Among the scores of young people in attendance is Viljar Hanssen (Jonas Strand Gravli), a well-spoken teenager from Svalbard in the country’s far north, who proudly describes his home town as a mecca of multiculturalism.

Posing and outfitted as a police officer, Breivik invades the island with an arsenal of firearms, mowing down groups of unsuspecting youth, leaving piles of corpses in his wake. “You will die today”, he screams, “Marxists, liberals, members of the elite.” During the terrifying ordeal, Viljar is severely wounded. By the time Breivik is arrested, around one hour later, his murderous rampage leaves 77 dead, 69 of them youth, and more than 200 injured.

Once in police custody, the terrorist feels empowered to demand “a complete ban on immigration”, explaining he is part of an army at war “to take back Europe.” He specifically requests the services of liberal attorney Geir Lippestad (Jon Øigarden), who, while despising his client’s politics, is obliged to provide him the best possible defense.

Meanwhile, Viljar, recovering from his devastating wounds, is pushing himself to extremes to develop the physical and emotional stamina needed to face his attacker as a witness for the prosecution. In this he is aided by his close friend Lara (Seda Witt), another survivor of the carnage and the daughter of refugees, who will also be a witness against Breivik.

Greengrass’s film is effectively, skillfully done, and the performances by the Norwegian actors are spot-on. The filmmaker and presumably everyone involved in the production of 22 July aim to sound the alarm about the rise of fascism. For this, they deserve congratulations. The re-emergence of the far right out of the conditions of capitalist crisis is one of the major political questions—and dangers—of our time, and few writers, directors and actors have treated it head-on.

Speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Greengrass argued: “This unprecedented shift to the far right is occurring today. It’s right in front of our eyes. It’s a problem across Europe and across North America. … In 2011, that [Breivik’s outlook] would’ve been considered outrageous as a worldview. Today it’s entirely mainstream. His rhetoric, his worldview now, is mainstream. That shows you how dramatic and ongoing this shift to the right, toward nativism, nationalism and all the rest of it [is].

This is a critical point, and the director is clearly referring to the election of Donald Trump, as well as developments in Italy, Germany, France and elsewhere.

That’s all to the good, but Greengrass is much weaker—in the film and in his public comments—on how the threat represented by diseased elements such as Breivik and, more importantly, the right-wing forces who incite and manipulate them, can be combated.

In an interview with the Washington Post, for example, Greengrass expressed the conviction that his movie clarifies the way forward “because it shows how democracy can be fought for in crisis. And what are the ways you do it? Through political leadership, through the rule of law, and ultimately through young people articulating the values that they want to live by.”

In other words, the social democratic government of Stoltenberg and the Norwegian ruling class are his model for eradicating fascism. But the problems in Norway and Europe did not disappear with Breivik’s conviction and incarceration.

Greengrass believes that people of good will need to be more vigilant in regard to these right-wing forces: “We’re going to have to listen. Donald Trump doesn’t get elected, … unless we’re not listening. … We’re going to have to listen to these voices and understand them, unwelcome though some of them may be, if we’re going to get out of this problem. And we’re going to have to contend with them, too. We’re going to have to beat them with better arguments.”

Extreme right-wing forces breed under conditions of economic and social decay and by the failure of the parties claiming to represent the working class to offer any way out of the situation.

Stoltenberg was the Labour Party prime minister of Norway from 2000 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2013 (before being appointed secretary general of NATO, the US-led military alliance). His government oversaw harsh attacks on the working class. It radically cut back the welfare state, privatized key public services and deliberately stirred up anti-immigrant sentiment. It was also implicated in the failure of the intelligence services to prevent Breivik’s murderous onslaught.

Today in Norway, the extreme-right Progress Party, of which Breivik was a member from 1997 to 2007, is part of a coalition government, able to come to power because of popular disillusionment with social democratic rule. The Labour Party, like social democratic parties everywhere, opened the door for the extreme right.

In 22 July, Breivik is largely treated as a delusional crank who most probably acted alone. There is a reference to his 1,500-page manifesto (which he published online and sent to over 1,000 contacts just hours before carrying out the massacre). His lawyer interviews a leading right-wing extremist who, during the trial, essentially disassociates himself from Breivik, despite Breivik’s professed allegiance to him.

The movie ends with Breivik successfully isolated and a healthy democracy intact.

But as the WSWS wrote on July 26, 2011, just a few days after the mass murder: “Information which emerged in the immediate aftermath of Breivik’s attacks revealed extensive ties with known extremist groups, including the English Defence League (EDL). Breivik attended meetings in Britain with leading members of this organisation, and also claimed to have been the founding member of a group calling itself the Knights Templar in 2002. Included in this group were right-wing nationalists from across Europe and a convicted terrorist from Germany.

“Breivik appears to have been well financed and well organised. He leased a farm north of Oslo two years ago. According to Reuters, the farm is near a military base housing the 2,000-strong Telemark battalion. He posted an entry on his Internet diary commenting on the proximity.

‘It’s quite ironic’, Breivik wrote, ‘being situated practically on top of the largest military base in the country. It would have saved me a lot of hassle if I could just ‘borrow’ a cup of sugar and 3kg of C4 (explosive) from my dear neighbour.’”

The makers of 22 July close their eyes to these sobering social facts and it weakens the impact of their well-intentioned film.

Utoya: surviving hell. MARIA DUARTE believes the singular focus on the resilience of the victims is both edifying and a blow to fascists.

United States peace movement interrupts Iran war hawks

This 18 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Code Pink Brilliantly Shuts Down Iran War Peddlers

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink hijacks the Hudson Institute‘s Pro Iran War presentation and spits an amazing amount of truth out while being manhandled.

US escalates illegal economic war on the people of Iran: here.

The conference jointly hosted by the US and Polish governments in Warsaw this week under the phony banner of working to “Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East” has laid bare the immense and imminent threat that US imperialism is preparing to drag humanity into another and potentially world catastrophic war: here.