Ancient Filipino human relatives discovery


This 10 April 2019 video says about itself:

New human species found in the Philippines

Scientists have found a few bones and seven teeth belonging to a previously unknown species of human. They’ve named the new species Homo luzonensis, after the island of Luzon in the Philippines where it was found. The bones are tiny, suggesting that Homo luzonensis was under 4 feet tall. That would make it the second species of diminutive human to be found in south-east Asia; in 2007 scientists announced the discovery of Homo floresiensis, found on the island of Flores in Indonesia and nicknamed the hobbit.

Both species lived around 50,000 years ago, at a time when Asia was also home to our species, the Neanderthals and a group called the Denisovans. The new species raises many questions, including who were its ancestors and how did it move?

Read the research paper here.

See also here. And here. And here.

Advertisements

Portugal’s fascist concentration camp, Lisbon exhibition


This 18 February 2019 video is called Cabo Verde Tarrafal Political Prison Camp.

Tarrafal (also known as Campo da Morte Lenta in Portuguese [“Camp of the Slow Death”]) was a prison camp in the Portuguese colony of Cape Verde. According to Wikipedia, the PVDE, Portuguese secret police, modeled its camp regime on the Nazi concentration camps.

By Charles Hixson and Paul Mitchell:

“Tarrafal Never Again!” exhibition in Lisbon exposes horrors of Portugal’s fascist concentration camp

9 April 2019

Tarrafal Never Again!—Exhibition at the Aljube Museum—Resistance and Freedom (Museu do Aljube Resistência e Liberdade) in Lisbon, Portugal, October 18, 2018—April 28, 2019

Visitors to the Aljube Museum—Resistance and Freedom (Museu do Aljube Resistência e Liberdade) in Lisbon will be shocked by what they learn about a period of Portuguese history whose brutalities have largely been suppressed.

Aljube Museum of Resistance and Freedom

Located across from the city’s Sé Cathedral, the old building served as a prison for centuries. It was where the feared PIDE (Polícia Internacional de Defesa do Estado) secret police incarcerated and tortured thousands of political opponents of the fascist regime that ruled Portugal from 1926 to 1974 until its overthrow in the Carnation Revolution.

Tarrafal Nunca Mais (Never Again)

A current exhibition “Tarrafal Never Again!” tells the story of the little-known concentration camp in the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde, an island group in the central Atlantic Ocean. The exhibition includes stark photographs of the arid, isolated prison, coldly meticulous government dossiers detailing the lives and deaths of individual prisoners under the most wretched conditions, and moving testimony from survivors.

The Aljube Museum was established due to a campaign by the Civic Movement Don’t Erase Memories! (NAM)—primarily led by former Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) turned Socialist Party (PS) members—to combat the “complicit amnesia regarding the dictatorship that we faced between 1926 and 1974.”

Tarrafal concentration camp

… In 2013, then PS mayor of Lisbon and current Prime Minister António Costa gave the go-ahead for the Aljube prison to be converted into a museum (instead of luxury apartments), overseen by the Mário Soares Foundation. Soares, a leading figure in the liberal opposition to the dictatorship, founder of what was to become the PS, twice prime minister and then president of the Republic, opened it in 2015. The PCP abandoned its own plans for a museum.

Tarrafal prisoners

The museum’s mission is to promote “the history and memory of the fight against the dictatorship and the recognition of resistance in favour of freedom and democracy.” The possibility of the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a socialist society is expunged from the narrative.

It was the instability and weakness of Portugal’s First Republic, which saw eight presidents and 45 governments between 1910 and 1926, and the movement of the working class, inspired by the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, that led to the right-wing coup of May 28, 1926.

In 1928, António de Oliveira Salazar, an economics lecturer, was appointed Portugal’s finance minister and then prime minister (1932-1968). In direct response to continuing working class struggles that peaked in a five-day insurrection in 1934, Salazar declared his clerical-fascist New State (Estado Novo) with its values of God, Fatherland, Authority, Family and Work. It was anti-communist and venerated a rural lifestyle uncorrupted by industrialisation.

The most important function of Salazar’s regime for Portugal’s ruling elite was its strangling of any struggle by the working class at home and opposition developing in the colonies. Independent trade unions and strikes were outlawed, and workers were forced into state company unions or “sindicatos”. The PCP leadership was imprisoned or driven into exile.

General strike and armed uprising January 1934

The exhibition includes the original 1936 letter authorising the construction of Tarrafal. That year, some 150 political prisoners arrived from the mainland, including those who had taken part in the 1934 insurrection, as well as sailors who had mutinied on two naval vessels in 1936.

They found themselves in a makeshift “camp”, a rectangle of 200 by 150 metres, bordered with a deep trench and surrounded with
barbed wire. For the first two years, the men were kept in canvas tents while work brigades built more-permanent structures. Guards took all their clothing and other personal effects.

Until its temporary closure in 1954 after national and international pressure, 360 men passed through the camp.

The desperate conditions took their toll, and the prison soon became known as the concentration camp of “slow death.” Edmundo Pedro recalled the maniacal raging of commandant Captain Manuel Martins dos Reis: “You have no rights here, you have only duties to fulfil. And do not be deceived—anyone who enters that gate will die. You will all drop like flies!”

At least 32 inmates did die between 1937 and 1948. Most were working class men in their twenties and thirties, and many were PCP members. Public pressure, including a huge demonstration in 1974, saw their remains eventually brought back to Portugal.

Demonstration during the repatriation of the Tarrafal dead, 1978

Gilberto de Oliveira recalls the punishment by isolation in the “frigideira”, or “frying pan”—depending on the season. “The feeding on alternating days meant bread and hot water on one day and bread and cold water on the other. … The punishment in the frying pan, therefore, consisted in isolation, starvation, slow asphyxiation, dehydration, sweltering heat during the day and abrupt cooling at night and, often, beatings.” Temperatures inside the concrete punishment cell reached 60 degrees Celsius [140 degrees Fahrenheit] and victims could spend days at a time there. One prisoner, Joaquim Faustino Campos, spent 108 days there.

The camp’s closing in 1954 was short-lived. In 1961, Tarrafal was reopened to imprison and torture a new set of political prisoners—those from the rebelling Portuguese colonies of Cape Verde, Angola and Guinea-Bissau. One recalled, “The disciplinary cell was a kind of tomb inside a warehouse. … At 3 p.m. it was already dark inside. Here I tamed sparrows.”

Through here passed thousands of political prisoners between 1926 and 1965

… [In the 1970s], compulsory military service in the colonial wars combined with low pay intensified grievances in the army and stimulated opposition, which developed into the Armed Forces Movement (MFA).

When the MFA launched a coup on April 25, 1974, it was intended to be merely a democratic renovação (renovation) or face-lift. But it inadvertently brought the masses onto the streets demanding more fundamental change. Workers began taking over factories, offices and shops, and peasants occupied farmlands. The revolutionary atmosphere spread among soldiers and sailors who marching alongside the workers, carrying banners demanding socialism. …

… The vast levels of social inequality and the ruling elite’s return to military rearmament and war can only be imposed through the suppression of “freedom and democracy” and by resorting to authoritarian forms of rule and fascism. The slogan “Never Again” runs the risk of ringing hollow, given the return of the fascist cancer throughout Europe—including Vox in neighbouring Spain. The Aljube Museum exhibition is evidence of the price the working class paid in the 20th century for the failure to overthrow capitalism.

First ever black hole photo


This 10 April 2019 video says about itself:

First-Ever Black Hole Image Released

The Event Horizon Telescope captured an image of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

From USA Today today:

It’s our first glimpse of one of the weirdest spectacles in the universe. Astronomers on Wednesday released humanity’s first-ever image of a black hole.

The picture reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. It looked like a flaming orange, yellow and black ring.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole,” said Sheperd Doeleman, Event Project Horizon project director of Harvard University. “This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers.”

This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun.

The image helps confirm Einstein’s general relativity theory. Einstein a century ago even predicted the symmetrical shape that scientists just found.

See also here. And here.

Black hole image validates imagining the unimaginable. Long dreamed of yet unseen, invisible stars intrigued scientists and the public as well, by Tom Siegfried. 6:00am, April 12, 2019

Sea cucumber fossil relative discovery


This is a 3D reconstruction of Sollasina cthulhu. Tube feet are shown in different colors. Credit: Imran Rahman, Oxford University Museum of Natural History

From the University of Oxford in England:

Cthulhu‘ fossil reconstruction reveals monstrous relative of modern sea cucumbers

New species of extinct sea cucumber named Sollasina cthulhu, for its resemblance to H.P. Lovecraft’s famous monster

An exceptionally-preserved fossil from Herefordshire in the UK has given new insights into the early evolution of sea cucumbers, the group that includes the sea pig and its relatives, according to a new article published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Palaeontologists from the UK and USA created an accurate 3D computer reconstruction of the 430 million-year-old fossil which allowed them to identify it as a species new to science. They named the animal Sollasina cthulhu due to its resemblance to monsters from the fictional Cthulhu universe created by author H.P. Lovecraft.

Although the fossil is just 3 cm wide, its many long tentacles would have made it appear quite monstrous to other small sea creatures alive at the time. It is thought that these tentacles, or ‘tube feet’, were used to capture food and crawl over the seafloor.

Like other fossils from Herefordshire, Sollasina cthulhu was studied using a method that involved grinding it away, layer-by-layer, with a photograph taken at each stage. This produced hundreds of slice images, which were digitally reconstructed as a ‘virtual fossil’.

This 3D reconstruction allowed palaeontologists to visualise an internal ring, which they interpreted as part of the water vascular system — the system of fluid-filled canals used for feeding and movement in living sea cucumbers and their relatives.

Lead author, Dr Imran Rahman, Deputy Head of Research at Oxford University Museum of Natural History said:

“Sollasina belongs to an extinct group called the ophiocistioids, and this new material provides the first information on the group’s internal structures. This includes an inner ring-like form that has never been described in the group before. We interpret this as the first evidence of the soft parts of the water vascular system in ophiocistioids.”

The new fossil was incorporated into a computerized analysis of the evolutionary relationships of fossil sea cucumbers and sea urchins. The results showed that Sollasina and its relatives are most closely related to sea cucumbers, rather than sea urchins, shedding new light on the evolutionary history of the group.

Co-author Dr Jeffrey Thompson, Royal Society Newton International Fellow at University College London, said:

“We carried out a number of analyses to work out whether Sollasina was more closely related to sea cucumbers or sea urchins. To our surprise, the results suggest it was an ancient sea cucumber. This helps us understand the changes that occurred during the early evolution of the group, which ultimately gave rise to the slug-like forms we see today.”

The fossil was described by an international team of researchers from Oxford University Museum of Natural History, University of Southern California, Yale University, University of Leicester, and Imperial College London. It represents one of many important finds recovered from the Herefordshire fossil site in the UK, which is famous for preserving both the soft as well as the hard parts of fossils.

The fossil slices and 3D reconstruction are housed at Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Neo-nazi anti-Jewish murder plot in the USA


This 16 December 2018 video says about itself:

The Origins Of Anti-Semitism In America | AJ+

Anti-Semitism, or hatred of Jews, has a long and often violent history in the U.S. It’s also frequently used by white nationalists and others on the right wing to rally against social change.

By Aiden Pink in Jewish daily The Forward in the USA:

Washington Man Charged In Terror Plot: ‘I’m Shooting For 30 Jews’

April 9, 2019

A man in Washington state was charged Monday with two felonies after allegedly writing posts on social media threatening to conduct a mass shooting targeting Jews.

Dakota Reed, 20, allegedly wrote about “pulling a Dylann Roof”, referring to the white supremacist who killed nine black people praying in a South Carolina church, the Everett Herald reported.

Reed wrote that his plot would take place in 2025.

“I’m shooting for 30 Jews,” he posted in November. “No pun needed. Long ways away anyways. See you Goys.”

Reed was arrested in December, a month after the Anti-Defamation League alerted the FBI after researchers uncovered Reed’s posts, many of which were made under online aliases. Twelve guns were recovered from his home, as well as military helmets, gas masks and fascist symbols, all of which matched those that he featured in videos posted on social media.

Reed is being charged with two counts of threats to bomb or injure property. He is not being charged with a hate crime.

Apparently, Reed is also not charged with terrorism. Apparently, Reed would have to be African American or Muslim for that …