House finches in California, USA


This 4 May 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Backyard Bird Watching: House Finch Nest 5 Weeks Complete Documentary

Filmed over the course of 5 weeks, from eggs to baby flying away, shot in Pasadena, California.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, 23 January 2019:

New Study Focuses on House Finches

A study spanning more than a century of House Finch data suggests that as California’s spring temperatures get warmer, the birds are laying eggs earlier in the season. The new study is based on data from our nest records, along with nest specimens from museums going back to 1895.

Dr. Heather Watts of Washington State University spearheaded the investigation on these vegetarian finches. The paper notes that while insect-eating birds have been documented shifting their egg-laying in association with warmer spring temperatures, birds which eat a plant-based diet (about 28 percent of species globally) have been understudied. The House Finch, which is also declining in California, was therefore a good study species. Read more about this research in our latest blog post.

The small songbird, which famously landed at a Bernie Sanders election rally in 2016, was a female house finch.

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Classical music instruments made of endangered trees?


This 21 December 2018 video from Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands says about itself:

Wildlife crime fighters, episode 2: Musical instruments

Wildlife crime fighter Carlijn Priester studies musical instruments! Wait what? Yes, at Naturalis Science we study violins and cellos. Learn more in the second episode of our series regarding wildlife crime.

Most United States political murders far-right murders


This 28 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Right-Wing Responsible For Nearly All Extremist Murders In 2018

Just one group was responsible for nearly all extremist killings in the US last year. John Iadarola and Anti-Defamation League’s Mark Pitcavage discuss on The Damage Report.

From the Anti-Defamation League in the USA:

ADL Releases New Report Highlighting Increase in U.S. Incidents of Murder and Extremism in 2018

From Parkland to Pittsburgh, 2018 was a particularly active year for right-wing extremist murders. But ADL’s Center on Extremism, which tracks extremist activity, prevented at least one potential murderer from turning hate into violence.

Dakota Reed, 20, was hiding in plain sight. The Washington state resident was assembling a cache of weapons and hatching a plan, which he described this way on social media:

“gonna make the news some more and shoot some Jews…”

Reed’s online posts were terrifying and included fantasies about killing a Jewish child with a shotgun, pictures of him posing with weapons against the backdrop of a neo-Nazi flag and repeated threats of violence against Jews and Muslims. He quoted Robert Bowers, the white supremacist responsible for the deadly shooting spree at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh:

“Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Before Reed could act, expert analysts from ADL’s Center on Extremism (COE) uncovered his violent threats and warned law enforcement about him. In December, he was arrested by FBI agents and Snohomish County (WA) deputies, and charged with malicious harassment — Washington’s hate crime statute — and with making bomb threats. Authorities also seized firearms, ammunition and white supremacist propaganda from his home.

ADL’s actions stopped this extremist from turning his hate into another deadly act of anti-Semitic violence. But while this story ended in an arrest instead of a massacre, 2018 saw a number of similarly motivated extremists carry out their terrible plans.

2018 was a particularly active year for right-wing extremist murders, as highlighted in our new report,“Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2018”. From Parkland to Pittsburgh, extremists killed at least 50 people in the U.S.—a sharp increase from the 37 extremist-related murders documented in 2017.

Beaked whales’ feeding disturbed by navy sonar


This June 2017 video says about itself:

Sea Shepherd Captures NEVER SEEN BEFORE drone footage of the rare Cuvier’s Beaked Whales (Ziphius cavirostris) while conducting research on Mexico’s Guadalupe Island.

This is the first ever footage of a mother and calf pair of this species.

From the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in the USA:

Why do beaked whales return to a Navy sonar range despite frequent disturbance?

Scientists say it’s the food

January 29, 2019

Using data from underwater robots, scientists have discovered that beaked whales prefer to feed within parts of a Navy sonar test range off Southern California that have dense patches of deep-sea squid. A new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology shows that beaked whales need these prey hotspots to survive, and that similar patches do not exist in nearby “sonar-free” areas.

For decades, the U.S. Navy has used high-powered sonar during anti-submarine training and testing exercises in various ocean habitats, including the San Nicolas Basin off Southern California. Beaked whales are particularly sensitive to these kinds of military sonars, which sometimes result in mass stranding events. Following legal action from environmental activists related to these risks, the Navy modified some training activities, created “sonar-free” areas, and spent more than a decade and tens of millions of dollars trying to find ways to reduce the harm to beaked whales and other mammals.

The new research, led by Brandon Southall at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Kelly Benoit-Bird at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, aimed to better understand why whales keep returning to the test range despite the risks.

The researchers equipped an underwater robot with echosounders to measure the abundance, density, and sizes of deep-sea squids in different parts of the Navy test range, as well as in nearby waters. They also developed an “energy budget” for beaked whales, showcasing the costs — in time and calories — of hunting for squid. This helped the researchers estimate how many dives the whales needed to make in order to get enough food to survive in different areas.

“Beaked whales work very hard to obtain their food. They are essentially living paycheck to paycheck”, said Benoit-Bird. Unlike many baleen whales with significant energy reserves, beaked whales can’t afford to expend too much energy on a dive that doesn’t result in capturing many squid. In areas where the concentration of prey is low, the beaked whales must work harder and expend more calories — making reproduction and raising young that much more challenging. Some of the areas under study were so poor in terms of prey that whales likely could not meet their basic energetic requirements if they only fed there.

“Despite how things might look from the surface, the deep sea is not uniform,” Benoit-Bird added. “There are pockets of wealth where squid are abundant, and beaked whales know exactly how to find those hot spots.” It turns out that a portion of the Navy test range off Southern California encompasses one of these hot spots — an area rich in squid.

In fact, squid were 10 times more abundant higher in the area preferred by the whales. In this preferred area, the whales could get enough food by making just one dive a day. In a nearby sonar-free area (established with the idea that beaked whales could shelter in these areas while the sonar tests were underway) the whales would need to make between 22 and 100 dives per day to get enough food — something that would be difficult or impossible to do.

“Our findings, based on a novel integration of active sonar imaging and passive listening technologies, have multiple management implications”, explained Southall. “They provide direct information to the Navy and federal regulators to better manage important and impacted habitat areas off California. And they give us new data on foraging ecology for population-level models of disturbance that have been at the heart of recent debate and litigation over spatial management and proposed sonar exclusion zones.”

This study is the first to link habitat quality with beaked whale behavior in such fine spatial scales. It also demonstrates that scientists can’t assess the quality of deep-sea habitats by simply making measurements at the ocean surface, or even by measuring the physical and chemical properties of the deep ocean. Direct measurements of the prey environment at the depths where animals are feeding, coupled with observations of when and where animals are foraging, are critical.

Until now, collecting such detailed data, even over small time and space scales, was virtually impossible. The researchers are now working on tools that will help them study predators and prey over longer time periods, and in other areas where the Navy operates high-powered sonar. Similar field-research and modeling techniques could also be used to assess the potential impacts of other human activities that may disturb ocean animals, such as shipping traffic or offshore oil and gas development.

Marine mammals are particularly sensitive to noise pollution because they rely on sound for so many essential functions, including communication, navigation, finding food, and avoiding predators. An expert panel has now published a comprehensive assessment of the available science on how noise exposure affects hearing in marine mammals, providing scientific recommendations for noise exposure criteria that could have far-reaching regulatory implications: here.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw’s anti-Latin American prejudice


This 28 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw asserted that Hispanic Americans need to ‘work harder at assimilation’. John Iadarola and Brooke Thomas break it down on The Damage Report.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

NBC’s Tom Brokaw provokes backlash over “assimilation” comment

29 January 2019

In remarks at the end of Sunday’s broadcast of “Meet the Press”, longtime NBC commentator and former anchorman Tom Brokaw gave vent to the racism, anti-immigrant bigotry and sheer ignorance that media pundits—at least those not employed by Fox News—usually keep under wraps.

His remarks came at the conclusion of a panel discussion about President Trump’s demand for a border wall and his overall focus on the supposed evils of immigration, and particularly his demonization of Mexican immigrants.

Brokaw commented as follows:

“And a lot of this, we don’t want to talk about. But the fact is, on the Republican side, a lot of people see the rise of an extraordinary, important, new constituent in American politics, Hispanics, who will come here and all be Democrats. Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, “Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies.” I mean, that’s also a part of it. It’s the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other. I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation. That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time. You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities, but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities. And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly.”

It would be too charitable to describe these comments by the 78-year-old Brokaw as muddled. He managed to suggest in the same breath that Hispanics are intermarrying at such a high rate (presumably with whites) as to provoke a racist reaction in the Republican Party (“brown grandbabies”) and that Hispanics are keeping themselves apart “in their communities” and should “work harder at assimilation.”

How these grossly self-contradictory propositions could both be true is a mystery.

No one else on the “Meet the Press” panel objected to his first claim—that the Republican Party is steeped in anti-immigrant racism—since it is obviously true. But his second claim, about the lack of assimilation on the part of Hispanics, drew a rejoinder from Yamiche Alcindor, the former New York Times reporter who is now the White House correspondent for National Public Radio.

“I would just say that we also need to adjust what we think of as America. You’re talking about assimilation. I grew up in Miami, where people speak Spanish, but their kids speak English. And the idea that we think Americans can only speak English, as if Spanish and other languages wasn’t always part of America, is, in some ways, troubling.”

There was other, harsher, media criticism, most notably from Cecilia Vega of ABC News, who pointed out that Brokaw’s comments falsified the actual experience of second-generation Hispanic families like her own, where children grow up speaking Spanish at home, learn English in school, and become completely bilingual as adults.

Hispanic-American groups loudly protested Brokaw’s remarks, as did many Democratic Party politicians, and by Sunday evening the retired anchorman was issuing what passes for an apology in official media and political circles, tweeting, “I am sorry, truly sorry, my comments were offensive to many.” He thanked Alcindor for her remarks and concluded, “I never intended to disparage any segment of our rich, diverse society which defines who we are.”

Brokaw was the principal anchorman for “NBC Nightly News” for more than 20 years, reaching an annual salary of $7 million for the task of justifying the crimes of American imperialism around the world (including the US invasion of Iraq in 2003) and presenting as normal the contradictions of a society increasingly divided between a tiny and fabulously wealthy elite and a vast mass of working people struggling to keep their heads above water.

As WSWS Arts Editor David Walsh wrote on Brokaw’s retirement in 2004:

“In the two decades during which Brokaw presided over the NBC evening news, the American media suffered a dreadful decline. Television news, in particular, has been transformed by economic and political processes into a purely profit-driven operation. More fundamentally, television news programs, packaged (and on occasion criticized) as entertainment, have become organs of state propaganda, transmitting the policies and claims of increasingly right-wing administrations in Washington as “news” and “facts”.”

It is noteworthy that while Brokaw celebrated those Americans who fought in World War II in his 1998 bestseller The Greatest Generation, he had little of the sensibility of journalists of that generation, who had experienced the Great Depression and the horrors of fascism and embraced a more democratic and egalitarian outlook than their successors—multi-millionaire celebrities like Brokaw, Tim Russert and Peter Jennings.

It is impossible to imagine Brokaw, let alone his even more pallid successors like Chuck Todd, David Muir and Jeff Glor, declaring an American military intervention to be a moral failure, as Walter Cronkite did in 1968, criticizing the Vietnam War.

Particularly since the publication of The Greatest Generation, Brokaw has been identified with a bland and sentimental American patriotism, and he himself has been glorified as a sort of media “everyman” and voice of “middle America”. His remarks on Sunday give a glimpse of a different reality. His crass ignorance of the everyday lives of Hispanic-Americans—now 25 percent of the US population—expresses the vast social gulf between the wealthy elite, the one-tenth of one percent at the top, and the working class as a whole.

The author also recommends:

Exit NBC anchor Tom Brokaw: A nonentity in the service of wealth and power
[6 December 2004]

London protest against Trump-British Conservative Venezuelan coup


This 29 January 2019 video from London, England says about itself:

UK Protests Sanctions On Venezuela

A protest was held outside Downing Street, UK Prime Minister Theresa May‘s residence, denouncing the government’s support for the ongoing US-led coup efforts in Venezuela.

BOLTON MULLS TROOP DEPLOYMENT White House officials insist that “all options” ― including using the military― are on the table to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power. And if national security adviser John Bolton’s notebook is to be believed, that could mean deploying “5,000 troops to Colombia.” [HuffPost]

PEACE campaigners warned a foreign attack on Venezuela would prompt a “bloody civil war” today as it appeared that the United States was preparing the ground for a military invasion with thousands of troops rumoured to be massing in neighbouring Colombia: here.