United States bomb killed Yemeni wedding guests


This 7 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Report finds U.S. made bomb was used in airstrike on wedding in Yemen

A U.S.-made bomb was used in an airstrike that hit a Yemeni wedding last year, according to a new report. Over 100 civilians were killed, nearly half of them children. “This report presents the most comprehensive evidence to date that this is not a hypothetical risk,” said Ruhan Nagra of United for Rights, “U.S. weapons are actually being used in apparently unlawful collision airstrikes in Yemen.”

This 7 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

War Crimes in Yemen? U.S. & U.K. Arms Killed & Injured Nearly 1,000 Civilians in Saudi-Led Attack

As Yemen faces the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, a major new report has been released documenting the role that the U.S. and Europe have played in the deaths of hundreds of civilians in the Saudi- and UAE-led war on Yemen. A group of organizations, including a Yemen-based human rights organization, released the damning report on Wednesday, claiming that between April 2015 and April 2018, 27 coalition attacks killed at least 203 civilians and injured at least 749 people. The report found that 22 of the attacks likely involved weapons produced in the United States. The other five attacks were carried out either with weapons produced in the United Kingdom or with parts produced in both the U.S. and the UK. We speak with Ruhan Nagra, the executive director of the University Network for Human Rights, and Radhya Al-Mutawakel, chairperson of the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights. They are co-authors of “Day of Judgment: The Role of the US and Europe in Civilian Death, Destruction, and Trauma in Yemen.”

This 7 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

How the U.S. can end the “preventable war” in Yemen

“Yemenis feel sad because they are dying for nothing,” said Radhya Al-Mutawakel, chair of Mwatana for Human Rights. This “preventable war” could be stopped, she said, if Congress took action and ceased weapons sales to the Saudi-led coalition.

This 7 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

U.S. Has Supplied UAE $27B in Arms Despite Nation’s Links to Torture, Mercenaries & Child Soldiers

We look at how U.S. weapons are supporting the ongoing devastation in Yemen with William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He is the author of a new report about the role the United Arab Emirates has played in Yemen. It is titled “’Little Sparta’: The United States-United Arab Emirates Alliance and the War in Yemen.” We also speak with Ruhan Nagra, the executive director of the University Network for Human Rights, and Radhya Al-Mutawakel, chairperson of the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights. They recently published an investigation into the role of U.S. and European bombs in civilian deaths in Yemen.

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Canadian sapsuckers help hummingbirds, video


This video says about itself:

Remarkable contribution to hummingbird survival made possible by sapsucker‘s feeding behavior in deciduous forests of North America.

A family of yellow-bellied sapsuckers seen in the footage, a type of woodpecker that lives in Eastern Canada, creates numerous tiny aligned holes in a tree deep enough to let sap out.

Trees in deciduous and broadleaf forests can sometimes be seen bearing hundred of these little holes that seem to have been made by an automated machine.

In a surprising display of the interaction between two different species in the wild, a [female ruby-throated] hummingbird is attracted to the freshly created sweet drink. It flies and hovers near it, sporadically plunging its tiny beak and visibly draining the content of the small holes. It comes in competition with a wide variety of bugs present in nature that are also attracted to the sugar-filled drink that begins leaking out of the tiny holes.

Returning sapsuckers also drink from the previously made holes while resting in place. They sometimes take advantage of the opportunistic tiny meals that are the careless ants walking around and straight to their death.

The extraordinary behavior displayed by the ruby-throated hummingbird to insure a proper diet can perhaps explain why so many nectar-drinking birds can thrive in an environment with a lack of it.

The footage was filmed in 4K Ultra High Definition in late August in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Late August is just before the ruby-throated hummingbird will be on a long autumn migration journey. The extra energy is welcome.

The yellow-bellied sapsuckers will then go south as well. I saw this species in Cuba.

Publish Monsanto-Bayer Roundup cancer research, court decides


This 18 August 2018 video says about itself:

Monsanto Hit With $289 Million Jury Verdict Roundup Cancer Coverup

Last week a jury in California found that Monsanto had covered up the dangers of Roundup and awarded to plaintiff $289 million in damages after he developed cancer after just a few years of exposure to Roundup as a groundskeeper. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins discuss this issue.

Monsanto is Bayer now.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Research into effects of weed killer Roundup should be public

The European Agency for Food Safety (EFSA) should therefore publish scientific research into the toxicity of glyphosate and the risk of cancer. That is what judges of the European Union court judged in Luxembourg.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many pesticides and herbicides and has been authorized in the EU since 2002. The corporation is mainly known from the Roundup brand.

In two previous cases, the agency judged that documents about the dangers of the substances did not have to be published. According to EFSA, disclosure of that information could, eg, seriously damage the commercial and financial interests of the corporations that submitted the studies.

European judges judge that it is in the public interest to have access to information about substances that end up in the environment. People also have the right to know what the consequences are, says the court.

Carcinogenic or not?

In March 2015, the International Cancer Research Center warned that glyphosate may be carcinogenic, but the EFSA later concluded in a review of that study that the substance does not pose any risk of cancer to humans. The studies were based on tests with animals and not on humans.

Glyphosate was developed by the American corporation Monsanto, which marketed it under the name Roundup. France decided in 2017 to ban the product within three years. The European Union decided to extend the permit by five years, but left individual countries the space to ban it.

Last summer, Monsanto was ordered to pay a compensation of tens of millions of dollars to a man who says he got cancer from the herbicide with glyphosate.

Squid colours, new research


This 19 November 2018 video is called A video of color changes in squid Doryteuthis pealeii.

Aka the longfin inshore squid. The species about which this recent research has been done.

From the Marine Biological Laboratory in Chicago in the USA:

Elegant interplay of coloration strategies is discovered in squid‘s smart skin

March 6, 2019

In the blink of an eye, the squid’s “smart skin” switches color and pattern for the purpose of camouflage or sexual signaling, a virtuosic display that has long fascinated scientists. Now, collaborators from Northeastern University and the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) report a paradigm-shifting discovery in how specialized organs in squid skin, called chromatophores, contribute to the feat via an elegant interplay of pigmentary action and structural coloration. Their study, which brings bio-inspired engineers ever closer to building smart skin, is published in Nature Communications.

“People have been trying to build devices that can mimic cephalopod color change for a long time by using off-the-shelf components,” says Leila Deravi, an assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Northeastern, whose lab led the study. “Nobody has come anywhere near the speed and sophistication of how they actually work.”

Deravi and MBL Senior Scientist Roger Hanlon, a leading expert on camouflage in cephalopods (squid, octopuses, and cuttlefish), led an interdisciplinary team of researchers to investigate squid dynamic coloration on a molecular level.

Squid skin contains two types of structures that manipulate light to produce various colors. The chromatophores contain elastic sacs of pigment that stretch rapidly into discs of color when the muscles around them contract. When light strikes the pigment granules, they absorb the majority of the wavelengths and reflect back only a narrow band of color.

Deeper in the skin, cells called iridophores reflect all the light that hits them. By scattering this light, a method known as structural coloration, they bounce back a bright sheen of iridescence.

For decades, all available data had indicated that these separate structures could only produce one type of coloration or the other: pigmentary or structural. But when co-author and MBL researcher Stephen L. Senft looked closely at the squid chromatophores, he spotted iridescence shimmering in perfect alignment with the pigment.

“In that top layer, embedded into the chromatophore organ, is structural coloration,” says Hanlon. “No one had found anything like that.”

Hanlon, who has spent the better part of four decades studying cephalopod biology, went back through his old Kodachrome slides of chromatophores. Sure enough, he found a photograph of blue iridescence reflecting from a chromatophore. At the time, he had assumed the shimmering blue was from an iridophore deeper in the skin.

“I saw this in 1978, and I didn’t realize what I was looking at,” Hanlon says. “It’s incredible.”

This time, the researchers are sure the iridescence is coming from the chromatophore. The team (including MBL scientists Alan M. Kuzirian and Joshua C. Rosenthal as well as scientists from MIT and the University of New Hampshire) found the proteins that create iridescence, appropriately known as reflectins, in the cells surrounding the pigment sacs.

This unexpected discovery — that the chromatophore is using both pigmentary and structural coloration to create its dynamic effects — opens up new opportunities for biologists and chemists alike.

“We kind of broke up the known paradigm of how the skin works in the cephalopod world,” Hanlon says.

Biologists like Hanlon can use this new information to better understand these fascinating species. Applied chemists like Deravi can use it to work on reverse-engineering the color-change abilities of cephalopods for human use.

“We’re piecing together a roadmap, essentially, for how these animals work,” Deravi says. “Our ultimate goal is to try to create something like a material, a wearable device, a painting or a coating, that can change color very quickly like these animals do.

“It’s not as far-fetched of a goal today as it was even three years ago.”

How ichthyosaurs swam, new study


This 1 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Witness the discovery of a new ichthyosaur fossil.

Attenborough and the Sea Dragon” premieres Wednesday, January 9 at 8|7c on PBS.

From the University of Bristol in England:

Scientists put ichthyosaurs in virtual water tanks

March 6, 2019

Using computer simulations and 3D models, palaeontologists from the University of Bristol have uncovered more detail on how Mesozoic sea dragons swam.

The research, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, sheds new light on their energy demands while swimming, showing that even the first ichthyosaurs had body shapes well adapted to minimise resistance and maximise volume, in a similar way to modern dolphins.

Ichthyosaurs are an extinct group of sea-going reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, around 248-93.9 million years ago.

During their evolution, they changed shape substantially, from having narrow, lizard-like bodies to more streamlined fish-shaped bodies.

It was assumed that the change in body shape made them more efficient swimmers, especially by reducing the drag of the body, in other words, the resistance to movement.

If they could produce less resistance for a given body mass, they would have more power for swimming, or swimming would take less effort. Then they could swim longer distances or reach faster speeds.

Susana Gutarra, a PhD student in palaeobiology at the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, said: “To test whether fish-shaped bodies helped ichthyosaurs reduce the energy demands of swimming, we made 3D models of several different ichthyosaurs.

“We also created a model of a bottlenose dolphin, a living species which can be observed in the wild, so we could test if the method worked.”

Dr Colin Palmer, a hydrodynamics expert and a collaborator, added: “Susana used classic methods from ship design to test these ancient reptiles.

“The software builds a “virtual water tank” where we can control variables like the temperature, density and speed or water, and that allow us to measure all resulting forces.

“The model ichthyosaurs were put into this “tank,” and fluid flow conditions modelled, in the same way ship designers test different hull shapes to minimize drag and improve performance.”

Professor Mike Benton, also from Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences and a collaborator, said: “Much to our surprise, we found that the drastic changes to ichthyosaur body shape through millions of years did not really reduce drag very much.

“All of them had low-drag designs, and body shape must have changed from long and slender to dolphin-like for another reason. It seems that body size mattered as well.”

Susana Gutarra added: “The first ichthyosaurs were quite small, about the size of an otter, and later ones reached sizes of 5-20 metres in length.

“When we measured flow over different body shapes at different sizes, we found that large bodies reduced the mass-specific energy demands of steady swimming.”

Dr Benjamin Moon, another collaborator from Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, said: “There was a shift in swimming style during ichthyosaur evolution. The most primitive ichthyosaurs swam by body undulations and later on they acquired broad tails for swimming by beating their tails (more efficient for fast and sustained swimming).

However, we found that some very early ichthyosaurs, like Utatsusaurus, might have been well suited for endurance swimming thanks to their large size, in spite of swimming by body undulations. Our results provide a very interesting insight into the ecology of ichthyosaurs.”

Susana Gutarra concluded: “Swimming is a very complex phenomenon and there are some aspects of it that are particularly hard to test in fossil animals, like motion.

“In the future, we’ll probably see simulations of ichthyosaurs moving through water.

“At the moment, simulating the ichthyosaurs in a static gliding position, enables us to focus our study on the morphology, minimizing our assumptions about their motion and also allow us to compare a relatively large sample of models.”

This research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, UK.

French cardinal sentenced for child abuse cover-up


This 7 January 2019 video says about itself:

🇫🇷 France: cardinal on trial over child sex abuse coverup.

One of the most senior figures of the French Catholic Church involved in a sexual abuse scandal has gone on trial. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon is accused of helping to cover up abuse against children.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari has more.

From the BBC today:

Phillipe Barbarin: French cardinal guilty of abuse cover-up

France’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, has been handed a six-month suspended sentence for his role in covering up the sexual abuse of minors.

Cardinal Barbarin was found guilty of not reporting allegations of assaults by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s.

He denied the charges and his lawyers say he will appeal against the verdict.

Cardinal Barbarin’s sentencing comes as the Catholic Church battles a fresh wave of abuse scandals.

During the trial, he told the court: “I cannot see what I am guilty of. I never tried to hide, let alone cover up these horrible facts.”

Cardinal Barbarin, who hold the position of Archbishop of Lyon, was not in court for the verdict.

The allegations relate to alleged abuse by priest Bernard Preynat, who is now 73. Dozens of men say he abused them as children.

Father Preynat ran a boy scouts group for many years, during which some of the abuse allegedly took place.

Cardinal Barbarin told the trial he had known of “rumours” as far back as 2010.

But he became aware of the abuse after a conversation with one of the victims in 2014. He informed the Vatican about the allegations, and removed Father Preynat from his position a year later – but never informed police.

The allegations became public in 2015 – and are now the subject of a film titled Grace of God, which was cleared for release last month after a legal battle.

Several of Father Preynat’s victims took action against Cardinal Barbarin and five others over their inaction.

They used provisions in French law to bring a private prosecution – circumventing the prosecutor’s office, which had not pursued action because the allegations happened too long ago.

French broadcaster BFMTV described the case as “the first major trial of paedophilia in the French Catholic Church”.

It comes amid a series of other Catholic scandals around the world.

Two weeks ago, Australia’s most senior cleric Cardinal George Pell – someone once widely seen as the Church’s third-most powerful official – was found guilty of abusing children.

An Australian jury found Pell had abused two choir boys in Melbourne’s cathedral in 1996. He is appealing that verdict.

Pope Francis, meanwhile, convened a conference on the sexual abuse of children in the church last month. He called for “concrete measures” to tackle the problem rather than “simple and obvious condemnations”, and labelled abusers “tools of Satan”.

Critics, however, say that little concrete action has been taken by the Church.