Donald Trump’s war in Somalia


This 5 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Inside the Secretive U.S. Air War in Somalia: How Many Civilians Have Died as Strikes Escalate?

The Trump administration is rapidly escalating a secretive air war in Somalia. According to the think tank New America, at least 252 people have been killed in around two dozen U.S. airstrikes in Somalia so far this year. The U.S. has already carried out more strikes in Somalia in 2019 than in any single year under President Obama.

In addition to the air war, the Pentagon reportedly has about 500 U.S. troops on the ground in Somalia, including many special operations forces. For years, the U.S. has attempted to aid the Somali government by targeting members of al-Shabab, but the effort has increased dramatically under Trump, and it has come with little congressional oversight or media attention.

We speak with Amanda Sperber, a freelance journalist who reports from Nairobi, Kenya, and Mogadishu, Somalia. Her new article for The Nation is titled “Inside the Secretive US Air Campaign in Somalia.”

This 5 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

U.S. airstrikes in Somalia have tripled under Trump

The U.S. airstrike campaign in Somalia is killing civilians, despite the military’s claim otherwise, and journalist Amanda Sperber wrote for The Nation just how deadly the campaign has been.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019: US accused of war crimes in Somalia. Amnesty International accuses Washington of failing to adequately investigate allegations of civilian casualties during the drone and aircraft attacks: here.

Playwright Bertolt Brecht, new film


This 23 March 2019 German video is about Heinrich Breloer on fusing documentary and drama to tell the story of ‘Brecht’ [TV Show].

By Stefan Steinberg in Germany:

69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4

Brecht: A new film about the famed left-wing German dramatist

5 March 2019

Interest in the famed left-wing German dramatist and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) is undergoing something of a revival. Recent signs of that renewed interest include the 2014 publication of the important biography of Brecht by Stephen Parker and the 2018 movie Mack the Knife—Brecht’s Threepenny Film, directed by Joachim A. Lang.

And now, this year’s Berlinale featured a new film biography of Brecht by one of Germany’s leading directors, Heinrich Breloer (Die Manns—Ein Jahrhundertroman [The Manns—Novel of a Century], 2001; Speer und Er [literally, “Speer and He,” released as Speer and Hitler: The Devil’s Architect], 2005; and Buddenbrooks [based on the Thomas Mann novel, released as Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family], 2008).

Breloer makes films on historical subjects in the manner of so-called documentary dramas. He combines documentary material with dramatic scenes and superimposed comments in a dynamic fashion. In so doing, Breloer has been able to win large television audiences for films dealing with key figures and epochs of German history. He has adopted the same approach for his new work about Brecht.

As Breloer (born 1942) explains in the introduction to the book published to accompany his film, his fascination with Brecht began when he was a student. Already in the summer of 1963, just seven years after Brecht’s death, the young Breloer worked together with an individual who was to become one of Germany’s most outstanding theatre directors, Claus Peymann, on a production of Brecht’s Antigone, an adaptation of German poet Friedrich Hölderlin’s translation (1804) of Sophocles’ tragedy.

Some years later, in the summer of 1977, with a copy of the material assembled about Brecht by Werner Frisch and K.W. Obermeier (published in 1975) in his rucksack, Breloer travelled to Brecht’s birthplace, the city of Augsburg in southern Germany, to track down and conduct interviews with those who had known Brecht personally, including the first love of his life.

Then again in 2010, Breloer undertook what he describes as another journey toward Brecht and began a second round of interviews with those who had worked with Brecht after his return in 1949 to East Germany (GDR) following his flight from Hitler’s Germany and 16 years in exile.

These interviews with some of Brecht’s closest friends and collaborators determine the modus of the new film, with interview clips juxtaposed with key episodes in Brecht’s life.

Breloer’s Brecht is divided into two parts. The first 90 minutes deal with the writer’s early life in Augsburg, his move to Berlin and his later success as a dramatist. In 1914, Brecht, aged just 16, was a strong supporter of Germany’s aggression in World War I. He quickly turned against the imperialist war, however, as news of its horrors emerged, particularly in the form of the letters sent him from the front line by his childhood friend, Caspar Neher. Neher later became a famous stage designer, who worked on many of Brecht’s productions.

In one early scene in the film, we witness the young Brecht (Tom Schilling) denouncing the war in a school classroom to the horror of his teacher, who immediately threatens the young “traitor” to the German national cause with retribution.

After the war, Brecht was present in Munich when nationalist Freikorps mercenaries brutally crushed the Bavarian Soviet Republic in April-May 1919. At the time, Brecht was closely following the activities of the Independent Social Party (USDP), which had broken from the main body of the Social Democratic Party in 1917. These two events—German capitalism’s role in the horrific war and the defeat of the uprisings in 1919 (including the murder of Rosa Luxemburg in January of that tumultuous year)—were to play a decisive role in Brecht’s political and artistic development, along with the Russian Revolution of 1917.

In Munich, Brecht turned to the then well-known writer Lion Feuchtwanger, who took him under his wing and helped him in his first stage successes. Breloer then follows Brecht’s move to Berlin where he begins to achieve considerable success as a playwright. The pinnacle of this success in the Weimar Republic comes with the triumphant response to the first production of his (along with Kurt Weill) The Threepenny Opera in 1928.

During the late 1920s, Brecht began to study Marxist literature and came increasingly under the influence of the German Communist Party, along with dissident leftist intellectuals such as Karl Korsch. The Stalinisation of the Communist Party and the disorientation of figures like Korsch did not assist Brecht’s political development.

In a number of interviews, Breloer refers to Brecht’s concern with concealing his private life and persona. Instead, the playwright wanted to be remembered only in terms of his work. “He loved the masks of the classics,” Breloer notes. In his new film, Breloer seeks to look behind those “masks” and throw light on Brecht’s personal life. He explores in some detail Brecht’s complex relations with a number of his closest female co-workers. In so doing he makes clear that Brecht, in his literary and dramatic work, was always intent on collaboration, in developing his ideas as the leading figure of a team.

Breloer’s film largely skips over Brecht’s period in European exile with his wife Helene Weigel (Adele Neuhauser). In its second half, we see the much older writer, now played by Burghart Klaussner, in the US in October 1947, where he appears before the McCarthyite House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the witch-hunting, anti-communist outfit set up by the House of Representatives.

The day after the HUAC hearing on October 30, during which he declared he had never been a member of the Communist Party (which was true, strictly speaking), Brecht returned to Europe. He ultimately moved to Stalinist East Germany two years later, where he was able to recommence his literary and dramatic work. In 1953, he finally received his own theatre, the Berliner Ensemble.

Brecht’s Faustian bargain with the Communist Party had profound consequences for his artistic development. In his book, Breloer notes that the Stalinist archives in Moscow described Brecht in the 1930s as a “Trotskyite”, based on the playwright’s links to co-workers such as the actress Carola Neher, who, along with her husband Anatol Becker, was denounced as a Trotskyist. …

In fact, although he admired Trotsky’s writings highly, Brecht rejected the latter’s analysis of the Stalinist bureaucracy as counter-revolutionary. While he continually came into conflict with the nationalist-philistine Stalinists in East Germany after the war, Brecht repeatedly sided with the GDR and Soviet bureaucracy at crucial junctures … Having provided the bureaucracy vital public backing, Brecht, at the same time, drafted notes criticising Stalin and his policies. …

The Ulbricht regime was well aware that Brecht’s work did not fit into its repressive, anti-Marxist straitjacket of “socialist realism”, but decided the playwright and his theatre company—always under close observation from the state security service—could function as an important safety valve to prevent social layers disenchanted with the system from challenging it head-on. Brecht, in turn, was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize in Moscow a year before his death. Breloer’s film depicts these events very well.

Equally, Brecht also made artistic compromises—such as shifting the action of his plays to past centuries and other continents and creating “fables” or allegories—so as to avoid a direct confrontation with the bureaucracy. Important sequences toward the end of the film show Brecht in the process of rehearsing a number of his later works, including Mother Courage, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Life of Galileo.

Breloer’s film implies that Galileo most closely resembles the trajectory of Brecht’s life and career: Galileo (1564-1642), the outstanding astronomer and physicist, who strikes a pact with the Papacy and renounces his scientific discoveries to avoid punishment by the Church, on the one hand, and Brecht, a remarkable poet and dramatist, who cut his own deal with the Stalinist bureaucracy to continue his work, on the other.

Breloer’s film and accompanying book provide an opportunity for a younger generation to acquaint themselves with a key literary figure of the 20th century. The film is due to be shown on German television on March 22 (Arte) and March 27 (ARD).

The revived interest in Brecht, who has been treated as a “dead dog” or worse by the academic and official intellectual world for decades, is another indication of a growing radicalisation.

Australian dingoes differ from dogs


This 2018 video is called Origin of the Dingo: Australia’s Ancient Canine.

Another video used to say about itself:

Australia’s wild dog, the dingo, is surrounded by mystery and controversy.

To some people it’s a vicious outlaw, deserving a price on its head. To others it’s creature symbolising wilderness. What is the dingo? Dog or wolf? Native or exotic animal? The documentary Wild Dog Dingo takes a factual look at this remarkable animal and its natural behaviour. Three years in the making, it is the most comprehensive film ever produced on the dingo.

From Flinders University in Australia:

Australian dingo is a unique Australian species in its own right

March 5, 2019

Since the arrival of British settlers over 230 years ago, most Australians have assumed dingoes are a breed of wild dog. But 20 leading researchers have confirmed in a new study that the dingo is actually a unique, Australian species in its own right.

Following previous analyses of dingo skull and skin specimens to come to the same conclusion, these latest findings provide further evidence of specific characteristics that differentiate dingoes from domestic dogs, feral dogs, and other wild canids such as wolves.

The finding that a dingo is a dingo, and not a dog, offers an opposing view compared to a another recent study that the Government of Western Australia used to justify its attempt to declare the dingo as ‘non-fauna’, which would have given more freedom to landowners to kill them anywhere without a license.

Co-author Professor Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University in South Australia says the classification of dingoes has serious consequences for the fragile ecosystems they inhabit, and state governments are required to develop and implement management strategies for species considered native fauna.

“In fact, dingoes play a vital ecological role in Australia by outcompeting and displacing noxious introduced predators like feral cats and foxes. When dingoes are left alone, there are fewer feral predators eating native marsupials, birds and lizards.”

“Dingoes can also increase profits for cattle graziers, because they target and eat kangaroos that otherwise compete with cattle for grass in semi-arid pasture lands”, says Professor Bradshaw.

Lead author, Dr Bradley Smith from Central Queensland University, says the scientific status of the dingo has remained contentious, resulting in inconsistency in government policy.

“The dingo has been geographically isolated from all other canids, and genetic mixing driven mainly by human interventions has only been occurring recently,” Dr Smith says.

“Further evidence in support of dingoes being considered a ‘wild type’ capable of surviving in the absence of human intervention and under natural selection is demonstrated by the consistent return of dog-dingo hybrids to a dingo-like canid throughout the Australian mainland and on several islands.”

“We have presented scientifically valid arguments to support the ongoing recognition of the dingo as a distinct species (Canis dingo), as was originally proposed by Meyer in 1793.”

Dr Smith says little evidence exists to support the notion that any canid species are interchangeable with dingoes, despite the fact that most canids can successfully interbreed.

“There is no historical evidence of domestication once the dingo arrived in Australia, and the degree of domestication prior to arrival is uncertain and likely to be low, certainly compared to modern domestic dogs.”

“We show that dingoes have survived in Australia for thousands of years, subject to the rigours of natural selection, thriving in all terrestrial habitats, and largely in the absence of human intervention or aid.

“The dingo is without doubt a native Australian species,” concludes Professor Bradshaw.

Bernie Sanders and his Chicago supporters speak


This 3 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Bernie Returns to Chicago to Launch 2020 Campaign

BERNIE 2020 LAUNCH IN CHICAGO: At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the time I spent in Chicago changed my life and helped shape me into the person I am today. Tonight we are back in Chicago to launch our campaign for president and say: we are going to transform this country. We are going to build a nation based on justice, with a government and economy that works for all and not just those on top.

By George Marlowe and Marcus Day in Chicago, USA:

“Socialism appeals to me”

Sanders rally attendees speak on socialism, Democratic Party

5 March 2019

On Sunday, US Senator Bernie Sanders continued his initial series of campaign rallies at Chicago’s Navy Pier, following Saturday’s event in Brooklyn, as he again seeks the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Sanders unsuccessfully sought the party’s nomination in 2016, subsequently endorsing Hillary Clinton, the arch-candidate of Wall Street and big business.

The Chicago Tribune estimated that over 12,000 attended. The rally attracted diverse social layers, including many young people who have been increasingly radicalized in recent years: large numbers of high school and college students, along with young workers. Significant numbers of professionals and other sections of both the lower- and upper-middle class attended as well.

Reporters for the World Socialist Web Site spoke with attendees, encountering wide interest in a socialist perspective. Many of those we spoke with were attracted to Sanders’ criticisms of social inequality, “the billionaire class” and other social ills. A number were either skeptical of or openly hostile to capitalism and the Democratic Party

Jesus

Jesus is 22 and from the Chicago suburbs. He said he had gone to college for two years, studying to become a teacher, before having to quit and work full time at a factory in order to support his family.

He said he had been following the wave of teachers’ strikes in the US over the past year. “With all the effort they put into teaching students, you’d think they’d get paid more.”

He said that he hadn’t given socialism much thought until recently, which he described as Sanders’ proposals to “use taxes for the people not for the corporations, which makes a lot of sense. I think socialism but with capitalism together is the perfect idea for this country. A complete full market and no regulations is really bad. I feel like the Democratic Party has to change, otherwise they’re going to lose a whole generation, again.”

The WSWS reporter explained, however, that genuine socialism and structuring society to meet the needs of the majority of the population are incompatible with the extreme levels of social inequality under capitalism and the monopolization of wealth and political power by the rich. Jesus agreed. …

Asked his thoughts on the previous administration of Democratic President Barack Obama, Jesus responded angrily, “The first two years of his presidency, they had control of both houses [of Congress]. He could have done way more, but they didn’t. And Obama deported way more people than Trump. And then he made the whole DACA thing at the end [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the tenuous legal status for young immigrants], which he knew would get vetoed by a Republican president.

“It’s kind of infuriating, you know? He wasn’t really hope and change.”

Jesus added that he was strongly opposed to the attacks on immigrants. “These people don’t do anything but give to this country”, he said, “and they always live in fear because they might get deported. I think it’s pretty disgusting.”

Alexis and Oliver

Alexis is a 21-year-old student from Chicago who studies political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He spoke of his left-wing views and the need for young people to fight for a better world. “I’m pretty leftist”, he said. “This is as close to the collapse of capitalism I’m going to get. I’m doing everything in my power to make the world a better place. The younger generation needs to be mobilized against a system they deem unfair. I definitely want this president out of office.”

Alexis came to the rally with Oliver, who is 19, from Quincy, Illinois, and also studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The most important issue to me is the environment,” Oliver said. “A close second is healthcare, education and inequality. The system should never have allowed this level of inequality.” Oliver added, “I’m not a fan of the Democratic Party, but it may be a better of the two options.” …

Alexis agreed and also spoke out on his differences with the Democratic Party, noting, “I generally disagree with the Democratic Party.” He added, “Socialism appeals to me. A lot of left politics becomes coopted by the Democratic Party and because of the cooption we are never able to realize the ultimate goals that we seek. I think that’s very dangerous because it prevents any progress. I think we need to radically depart from capitalism.”

Young people also came from the economically depressed city of Rockford, Illinois. The city had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country after the financial crisis of 2008. Thousands of good-paying industrial jobs have been destroyed in the Rockford area, only to be replaced with low-wage jobs, including at the Rockford United Parcel Service (UPS) air hub, where workers make as little as $13 an hour.

Simon is an 18-year-old high school student from Rockford. He spoke of the economic devastation the city has faced. “I’ve grown up here my entire life,” he said. “It is the epitome of the ‘Rust-Belt’ city. It’s really depressing. There’s a drug issue there. There’s a lot that needs to be fixed. A lot of industrial jobs have left. At the Belvidere Assembly Plant they started laying off 1,400 workers.”

Recently Fiat Chrysler announced that it would eliminate an entire shift at its Belvidere plant near Rockford and lay off nearly 1,400 workers …

Simon and Andrew

Andrew, a 20-year-old worker and friend of Simon’s from Rockford, spoke of the impact of the layoffs. “Rockford is a community that had its roots in industry. There’s a lot of small manufacturing and a lot of workers are struggling,” he said.

“My cousin works at Belvidere Assembly,” he added. “The majority of people employed in the last six years are going to get laid off. It’s a horrible situation. There’s families that get their entire income from the Belvidere Assembly Plant. There’s fathers and mothers that work there together. What are they going to do come May? They’re going to get laid off and have no income. I guess they will get unemployment, but unemployment will only do so much.”

Simon spoke about his desire for free college education. “When Bernie started to run and started talking about free college education for everyone, that is one thing that really struck me,” he said. “Student loan debt is horrible. I’m a senior at Rockford East, and it’s really stressful and so complicated. It’s such a terrible system. If education was free and universal, it would provide equal opportunity for all.”

Andrew noted that he could not afford college. He said, “I’m not actually in college right now. Financial issues for college is a big thing. If college was free, I would definitely take advantage of it and further my knowledge.”

Louis

Louis is also 22 and is a college student studying communications in Chicago. “I’ve heard a lot about Sanders, but just wanted to come out and hear what he had to say. I thought he made a lot of good points in his first run.”

Louis listed a number of issues he was concerned about, including “inequality financially, our presence in the political realm, violence in our neighborhood. Police brutality definitely needs to be addressed. But I think if we address those things head on they can change.”

He said that he did not consider himself a Democrat. “I personally don’t put myself in a political party.”

Louis said that he had not given much thought to socialism previously, and said he thought that there were ways to address social problems within “each belief system, whether capitalism or socialism.”

However, when a reporter explained that there was an objective conflict within society, between a reactionary financial oligarchy and the working class which produces all of society’s wealth, he agreed, adding, “I agree with everything you just said. I strongly believe the working class is the whole heart of America, and the world.”

Jake is a 23-year-old, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. “I’m a sales manager in Chicago. Universal healthcare is a big issue for me. Social issues have been quite relevant to me as well. I know Bernie doesn’t go as far on a lot of issues, as far as socialism, that I want though.

“Healthcare matters to me because living should be a human right,” he noted. “We should care about other human rights. The rise of insulin costs is abhorrent. I have four people in my family that have diabetes. Luckily, they are all fortunate enough to be able to afford it. But I’ve heard the horror stories. Nobody should die from a treatable disease. It’s disgusting that a black market for insulin has to even exist. I am young enough and fortunate enough to get insurance from my father. I haven’t gotten any major health issues at this point—and I don’t have to in the near future. But what if my dad lost this job?”

Danny and Jake

Danny is a friend of Jake and a worker in Chicago as well. He contrasted the spending on war with spending on social programs in the United States.

The Pentagon misplaced $7 billion and they don’t know where it went,” he said. “And they can’t afford healthcare? I think saving people’s lives affordably is more important than invading other countries and destroying lives.”

Both Jake and Danny also spoke about … the Trump administration’s efforts to oust the Maduro government in Venezuela, which could create a violent civil war. “We should not be involved in that,” Jake said. “That’s nonsense,” Danny added.

Jake also spoke about other issues that were important to him, including education and the recent strikes of teachers. “The other big issues that matter to me are education—public vs. private. I’ve been following the teacher strikes and I have friends who are teachers in California. My friends were in the Los Angeles teacher strike. Teachers need to be paid a lot more. Education solves a lot of root problems. I’m also really concerned about income inequality.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

I shot some quick video clips at Bernie Sanders campaign rally in Chicago, March 3, 2019.

By George Gallanis in Chicago, USA:

On Sunday night, over 12,000 people gathered at Navy Pier in downtown Chicago to hear Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak, the second of two weekend rallies to kick off his presidential campaign. The first was held at Brooklyn College in New York City Saturday afternoon, also attended by many thousands.

In the Chicago speech, while similar in many ways to his address in Brooklyn, which focused on a “left” appeal for economic equality, Sanders made a shift in emphasis. He appealed directly to racial minorities, referring to his experiences in organizing housing and school desegregation efforts as a student at the University of Chicago, and to police violence, segregation, racial inequality and “institutional racism”, which, he declared, permeates Chicago and the rest of the United States.

Earlier on Sunday, Sanders attended a breakfast in Selma, Alabama, commemorating the 1965 civil rights march that ended in a violent police assault. …

As the choir [the Thompson Community Singers] wound down, six campaign co-hairs spoke on different issues before Sanders made his appearance.

Destiny Harris, from the organization #NoCopAcademy, spoke first, highlighting her experiences leading to her becoming an activist, including the closure of her elementary school in 2013, one of 50 schools closed by Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff. She was followed by the photographer and Sanders’ former roommate, Danny Lyon, who recounted his experiences of Sanders’ involvement opposing housing segregation at the University of Chicago. Following him, Ashley Galvan Ramos from Logan Square Neighborhood association spoke out against gentrification in Chicago.

Ro Khanna, … Representative from California’s 17th Congressional District, … excitedly told the crowd that Sanders would not start another war that was not approved by the United States Congress, although he avoided the term “antiwar”, as did every other speaker. …

Sanders’ speech was very similar to that given in Brooklyn the day before, in which he outlined a series of limited reforms without explaining how any of these could actually be implemented given the hostility of the US ruling elite, including the leaders of the Democratic Party whose presidential nomination he is seeking. …

Save for mentioning a recent vote taken to stop funding for the US-Saudi war on Yemen, Sanders did not mention any country outside of the United States or the mounting danger of war with nuclear-armed powers like Russia and China.

In highlighting his time in Chicago in the early 1960s, where he came as a transfer student to the University of Chicago, Sanders spoke of his experiences in organizing housing and school desegregation efforts. He said, “Have we made progress in civil rights in this country since the early 1960s? No question about it. Do we still have a very long way to go to end the institutional racism which permeates almost every aspect of our society? Absolutely.”

Extinct Megalodon sharks’ teeth, new study


This 26 August 2018 video says about itself:

Did They Find a Living Megalodon In the Mariana Trench?

Сould Megalodon sharks still be alive in the deepest parts of the ocean? Science tells us that Megalodon sharks are extinct. Given that it was a massive shark with noticeable feeding habits, we guess that if Megalodon sharks were still roaming the oceans, they would probably have been spotted by someone by now.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History in the USA:

How megalodon‘s teeth evolved into the ‘ultimate cutting tools’

March 4, 2019

Megalodon, the largest shark that ever lived, is known only from its gigantic bladelike teeth, which can be more than 7 inches long. But these teeth, described by some scientists as the “ultimate cutting tools”, took millions of years to evolve into their final, iconic form.

Megalodon’s earliest ancestor, Otodus obliquus, sported three-pronged teeth that could have acted like a fork for grasping and tearing fast-moving fishes. In later megatooth shark species, teeth flattened and developed serrated edges, transitioning to a knifelike shape for killing and eating fleshy animals like whales and dolphins.

But the final tooth evolution in this lineage of powerful predators still took 12 million years, a new study shows. An analysis of teeth from megalodon and its immediate ancestor, Carcharocles chubutensis, traced the unusually slow, gradual shift from a large tooth flanked by mini-teeth — known as lateral cusplets — to teeth without these structures.

“This transition was a very long, drawn-out process, eventually resulting in the perfect cutting tool — a broad, flat tooth with uniform serrations”, said study lead author Victor Perez, a doctoral student in geology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “It’s not yet clear why this process took millions of years and why this feature was lost.”

Teeth can offer a wealth of information about an animal, including clues about its age, when it lived, its diet and whether it had certain diseases. Megalodon‘s teeth suggest its hunting style was likely a single-strike tactic, designed to immobilize its prey and allow it to bleed out, Perez said.

“It would just become scavenging after that,” he said. “A shark wouldn’t want to grab and hold onto a whale because it’s going to thrash about and possibly injure the shark in the process.”

Perez and his collaborators carried out a “census of teeth”, analyzing 359 fossils with precise location information from the Calvert Cliffs on the western shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay — an ocean in C. chubutensis and megalodon’s day. The cliffs provide an uninterrupted rock record from about 20 to 7.6 million years ago, a period that overlaps with these megatooth sharks.

The researchers noted a consistent decrease in the number of teeth with lateral cusplets over this timespan. About 87 percent of teeth from 20 to 17 million years ago had cusplets, falling to about 33 percent roughly 14.5 million years ago. By 7.6 million years, no fossil teeth had cusplets.

Adult C. chubutensis had cusplets while adult megalodon did not, but this feature is not a reliable identifier of which species a tooth belonged to, Perez said. Juvenile megalodon could have cusplets, making it impossible to discern whether a tooth with cusplets came from C. chubutensis or a young megalodon.

Some teeth analyzed for the study had tiny bumps or pronounced serrations where cusplets would be. A set of teeth from a single shark had cusplets on some, no cusplets on others and replacement teeth with reduced cusplets.

This is why paleontologists cannot pinpoint exactly when megalodon originated or when C. chubutensis went extinct, said Perez, who began the project as an intern at the Calvert Marine Museum.

“As paleontologists, we can’t look at DNA to tell us what is a distinct species. We have to make distinctions based off of physical characteristics,” he said. “We feel it’s impossible to make a clean distinction between these two species of sharks. In this study, we just focused on the evolution of this single trait over time.”

Lateral cusplets may have been used to grasp prey, Perez said, which could explain why they disappeared as these sharks shifted to a cutting style of feeding. Another possible function was preventing food from getting stuck between the sharks’ teeth, which could lead to gum disease. But if the cusplets served a purpose, why lose them?

“It’s still a mystery,” he said. “We’re wondering if something was tweaked in the genetic pathway of tooth development.”

Perez’s fascination with fossil sharks started at age 6 when he visited the Calvert Marine Museum.

“I got to take a shark tooth home from a discovery box. That set me off on the whole career path of studying fossils,” he said.

That first tooth spawned an obsession in Perez, who lived about an hour from the Calvert Cliffs. On family trips to the beaches on the north end of the cliffs, he spent his time combing the area for shark teeth.

“That was the only thing I wanted to do,” he said. “On a typical trip, I would leave with an average of 300 teeth.”

For this study, he relied on the efforts of fellow beachcombers: The vast majority of teeth analyzed in the study were discovered by amateur fossil collectors and donated to museum collections.

“This study is almost entirely built on the contributions of amateur, avocational paleontologists,” he said. “They are a valuable part of research.”

Police sexual spying on British women


This video from Britain says about itself:

Spycops – The People’s Inquiry, July 2018

On 8 July 2018, people targeted by Britain’s political secret police held a ‘people’s inquiry’ at Conway Hall in London. Exasperated by the state public inquiry’s bias toward secrecy as it drags on for years without even formally starting, the victims of spycops held this theatrical event to envision what an effective inquiry would look like. …

It was part of a weekend of activities celebrating 50 years of progressive political campaigns achievements despite being infiltrated by counter-democtratic police. Full details of the weekend’s activities are here.

Our recommendations following the People’s Public Inquiry:

1. Full disclosure of all names – both cover and real – of officers from the disgraced political police units, accompanied by photographs

2. Release of the names of all groups suspected to have been spied upon

3. Release of all personal files on activists

4. Extension of the inquiry to all countries where the British spycops are known to have operated

5. The appointment of a diverse panel with experience relevatnt ot victims to assist the chair in making decisions and judgements

6. Inclusion of children and young people who had contact with spycops as Core Participants in the Inquiry

7. Urgent and immediate review of convictions where spycops had involvement in the cases & misled courts – 50 wrongful convictions have already been overturned and this is likley to be a fraction of the true total.

8. The Inquiry must extend its scope to understand political policing and its impact on democracy. This must include a thorough investigation into racist, sexist, anti-working class, anti-democratic behaviour on behalf of the spycops and those that instructed them to operate in this manner. Such political policing and political policing units must be abolished.

9. An urgent review into all undercover police activities to investigate whether the bad practice exposed by this inquiry has been extended to other areas of undercover operations

10. Make available the necessary resources of the judge to be able to do their job in the available time

11. Equalising of resources, the police are spending millions on stonewalling the inquiry, victims have almost nothing

12. Increase the severity of penalties for non-compliance with the inquiry

13. Investigation into collusion between police and corporate spies

For more information on Britain’s political undercover police, see our website.

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From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

‘Conspiracy to rape’ – Victims of spy cops indict the state

WOMEN who found out their partners were undercover police spies insisted yesterday that they are the ‘victims of a conspiracy to rape’ by the police.

An ongoing public inquiry into undercover policing has seen several women win apologies and compensation. Over a number years dozens of undercover officers, part of the covert Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), were unmasked. They had infiltrated political parties, environmental groups and campaigns.

It also emerged that police had even spied on the family of Stephen Lawrence, the teenager murdered in London in 1993. It was at this point that Theresa May, then Home Secretary, had to order a public inquiry. This concluded that police who had long-term sexual relationships with their targets ‘abused their positions’. The police then issued an ‘unreserved apology.’

However, one of the victims known as ‘Rosa’ (not her real name) said: ‘If you put all these things together, you have a team of officers conspiring to rape.’ She and another woman have spoken of feeling betrayed after falling in love with men who turned out to be spies. In some cases the police spies actually fathered children with them.

‘They know there was no informed consent,’ she said. It’s the whole gang of them, and there’s no other way of terming it for me than a gang. You’ve got mentors, you’ve got handlers a whole backroom team of people monitoring – and directing it would seem – their relationships, their activities.’

For the first time Rosa, and the other woman, both from Wales, have revealed on camera the full story of how they became involved in intimate relationships which seemed genuine, but were in fact charades as police forces infiltrated groups they thought needed monitoring.

In 2000, Rosa spent three months in South Africa looking for Jim Sutton, the man she was in love with. The trouble was that man did not really exist. Rosa met him in a London pub while she was a political activist in a group called Reclaim the Streets.

A group waging non-violent actions against the power of big corporations.

Then Sutton stunned her by saying he wanted to go travelling, on his own – to ‘sort his head out’ and promptly disappeared. He said he planned to go to Turkey, Syria and then South Africa. Rosa started her own detective work but could find no trace of the family he said he had. So she headed to South Africa, to find him. I was walking round South Africa just saying “excuse me have you seen this person?” I was in torture, I needed answers.’

She found no trace of him, and returned to the UK. Her search continued though, and clues led her to south London, and the offices of the secret police unit Sutton worked for. Just two days later she found him. The encounter forced Sutton to confess he had been living a lie. He was not Jim Sutton, he was police officer Jim Boyling.

Spycop who duped a woman into a relationship would be investigated for gross misconduct today: here.

Vice, new film on Bush’s vice president Cheney


This 3 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

VICE Official Trailer (2018) Christian Bale, Amy Adams Movie HD.

On 3 March 2019, I saw the new film Vice, on George W Bush‘s vice president Dick Cheney, in a packed cinema.

In the beginning, the film says that most people in the USA have to work harder and longer for less and less money. So, in their less and less spare time, they don’t have much time to analyze politics.

That may be a reason why the film, though it deals with very serious subjects like millions of people killed in wars, has many comedy style elements, making it easier to digest.

Halfway in the film there is a ‘distancing effect‘, similar to Bertolt Brecht’s plays. The Republican party lost a presidential election. Cheney is out of the federal government. The cinema screen shows credits of which actors play Cheney, his wife and other roles. Then, the movie resumes.

According to the film, Cheney at first did not want to become Bush’s vice president, as that office traditionally has little power. However, then he considered the low intelligence of Bush; and realized that he could in fact become the most powerful man in the most powerful country behind the scenes, while not being president officially.

Cheney saw 9/11 as an opportunity to start war on Iraq (which had nothing to do with it).

The film also mentions Dick Cheney shooting a fellow hunter, thinking he was a quail; and the cover-up of that.

Cheney and his wife told their eldest daughter Liz Cheney to throw her lesbian younger sister Mary under the bus to win votes of homophobes. Liz did that in a Fox News interview. When Mary reacted in tears to that betrayal, Liz called her ‘hysterical’.

In the third scene before the end of the film, Cheney defends his policies, claiming his wars, massive spying on American citizens, etc. were supposedly for keeping people safe.

Then, the penultimate scene shows how much profits Dick Cheney’s business Halliburton made from Cheney’s Iraq war.

Finally, the last scene has a Brechtian distancing effect again. It shows a focus group discussing the film, with Donald Trump supporters getting into a fight with Trump opponents.

A review by David Walsh and Joanne Laurier says it is a good film, though it lacks criticism of warmongering Democrats, apart from one shot of Hillary Clinton supporting the Iraq war. Like it shows present Vice President Mike Pence doing as well.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, formerly Bush administration Secretary of State Colin Powell‘s Chief of Staff, mentioned in Vice, says the film is not critical enough of Cheney.

Extinct Cayman Islands mammals discovery


This 8 May 2015 video says about itself:

Arrow Blenny comes back from the verge of extinction in the Cayman Islands

Video of an Arrow Blenny on Little Cayman May 2015. The Arrow Blenny was almost extinct in the Cayman Islands at the height of the lionfish invasion several years ago and has made a comeback due to the efforts of regular community culling of the invasive lionfish. The first sighting of an Arrow Blenny on Little Cayman since its demise was in June 2014. They are being sighted more frequently now … This video was shot by Carl Arnoult.

From the Zoological Society of London in England:

Ancient mammal remains digested by [Cuban] crocodiles reveal new species

Cayman Island fossils reveal previously undescribed extinct mammals

March 4, 2019

Fossilised bones that appear to have been digested by crocodiles in the Cayman Islands have revealed three new species and subspecies of mammal that roamed the island more than 300 years ago.

An expert team led by international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), the American Museum of Natural History, and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History studied the bones from collections in British and American museums including the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. The bones had been previously collected from caves, sinkholes and peat deposits on the Cayman Islands between the 1930s and 1990s.

Published in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History today (March 4, 2019), the team describe two new large rodents (Capromys pilorides lewisi and Geocapromys caymanensis), as well as a small shrew-like mammal named Nesophontes hemicingulus. Fossil remains of the land mammal have been previously reported from the Cayman Islands, but have not been scientifically described until now.

The three mammals were unique to the Cayman Islands, existing nowhere else in the world. The scientists calculated that they would have probably become extinct around the 1700s, likely due to the arrival of European settlers and introduced mammals such as rats, cats and dogs.

Professor Samuel Turvey, Senior Research Fellow at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, and co-author of the paper, said: “Humans are almost certainly to blame for the extinction of these newly described mammals, and this represents just the tip of the iceberg for mammal extinctions in the Caribbean. Nearly all the mammal species that used to live on these tropical islands, including all of the native Caribbean sloths and monkeys, have recently disappeared.

“It’s vitally important to understand the factors responsible for past extinctions of island species, as many threatened species today are found on islands. The handful of Caribbean mammals that still exist today are the last survivors of a unique vanished world and represent some of the world’s top conservation priorities.”

Animals described as “coneys” and “little beasts like cats”, which were probably the now-extinct rodents Capromys or Geocapromys, were seen and recorded by Sir Francis Drake when he visited the Cayman Islands in 1586. Despite the major marine barrier separating the Cayman Islands from other Caribbean lands, the extinct mammals described in this study are similar to those on Cuba, and other subspecies of Capromys pilorides still survive on Cuba today. The Cayman Islands may have originally been colonised by mammals carried across from Cuba on floating rafts of vegetation, which in some cases have been documented to float as far as 100 kilometres in less than a week.

Professor Ross MacPhee of the American Museum of Natural History’s Mammalogy Department, a co-author of the study, said: “Although one would think that the greatest days of biological field discoveries are long over, that’s very far from the case. With only one possible sighting early in the course of European expansion into the New World, these small mammals from the Cayman Islands were complete unknowns until their fossils were discovered. Their closest relatives are Cuban; how and when did they manage a 250-km journey over open water?”

The Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands consist of three islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac) in the north-western Caribbean Sea, separated by significant deeps of nearly 2000m of water for more than 20 million years.

Though it is rare that islands are successfully colonised by mammals other than bats, this is not the case for the West Indies — or the islands of the Caribbean Basin. During the late Quaternary record (i.e., 0.5-1.0 million years ago) the islands comprised of nearly 130 different species, including sloths, insect eating mammals, ancient mysterious monkeys, rodents and bats.

However, due to the arrival of European humans, only 13 endemic mammal species now survive in the West Indies, along with 60 species of bat. Calculations from the study indicate that several species might have survived into present day if they had not suffered at the hands of man — altering their habitat and introducing exotic creatures over the last 500 years.