‘Sanders has good climate policy, Biden hasn’t’


This 2010 video from the USA says about itself:

Senator Sanders spoke about climate change science and compared critics of climate change [science] to deniers of the Nazi threat in the 1930s.

By Jake Johnson in the USA:

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sanders Leads Top 2020 Contenders on Greenpeace Climate Scorecard While Biden Places Dead Last

“We are in a climate emergency. In 2020, true climate leadership means nothing less than saying ‘yes’ to a Green New Deal and ‘no’ to fossil fuels.”

Highlighting the chasm between two of the top 2020 presidential contenders when it comes to commitment to bold climate action, a scorecard released by Greenpeace Thursday placed Sen. Bernie Sanders at the front of the list of leading Democratic White House hopefuls and ranked former Vice President Joe Biden dead last.

“Sen. Sanders has championed bold climate action for years,” Greenpeace noted in its assessment of the Vermont senator’s record and current platform, which earned him a B+ grade.

“In Congress, Sen. Sanders co-sponsored the ‘100 by 50 Act’ and ‘Keep It In the Ground Act’ to cut off federal support for coal, oil, and gas while ushering in 100 percent clean energy by 2050,” said Greenpeace, which ranked candidates on the basis of their support for the Green New Deal, commitment to rejecting fossil fuel cash, and other metrics.

“Sen. Sanders co-sponsored the Green New Deal resolution and has pledged to halt new federal fossil fuel projects if elected—but has yet to call for a full, managed phase-out of the fossil fuel industry,” Greenpeace said. “He also has yet to put forth a detailed plan to tackle the climate crisis. Keep it comin’, Sen. Sanders!”

Biden, by contrast, has neither backed the Green New Deal resolution nor taken the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, a vow to reject “any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or executives of fossil fuel companies.”

Greenpeace said that while Biden—who received a D- grade—”introduced the first-ever climate bill in Congress back in 1987, he has yet to release a plan that tackles the climate crisis if elected in 2020.”

According to a Reuters report earlier this month, Biden’s 2020 campaign is crafting a “middle ground” approach to the climate crisis that would reject progressive demands for transformative action while leaving the door open to so-called “fossil fuel options.” …

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, received an F from Greenpeace—specifically a zero out of possible score of 100—for “putting the most vulnerable communities and our very future at risk.”

“Far from championing bold climate action,” Greenpeace said, “President Trump has denied the reality of the climate crisis and actively promoted fossil fuel production at the expense of communities and a safe climate future.”

In a statement on Thursday, Greenpeace USA climate campaign director Janet Redman urged the candidates who have committed to bold climate action to “keep it up.”

To those at the bottom of the pack, Redman said, “step it up.”

“The bar is high because nothing less than transformational action can guide us out of this crisis,” Redman said. “Show us you have the mettle to take on the oil executives standing in the way of progress towards the green, prosperous future our country deserves.”

“We are in a climate emergency,” Redman added. “In 2020, true climate leadership means nothing less than saying ‘yes’ to a Green New Deal and ‘no’ to fossil fuels.”

Big Oil Pushes Corporate-Friendly Carbon Tax to Halt Green New Deal Wave: here.

Let’s Be Clear, Says Mexico Environment Minister, ‘Parasitic and Predatory Neoliberalism’ to Blame for Climate Crisis. “Human beings are not responsible for global warming,” said Secretary Víctor Manuel Toledo Manzur, but elite capitalists and industry powerbrokers are.

Thousands of birds perished in the Bering Sea. Arctic warming may be to blame. Emaciated puffins and other birds washed ashore on an Alaskan island in unusually high numbers. By Carolyn Gramling, 1:30pm, May 31, 2019.

Land crab visits Bermuda petrel chick


This video from Bermuda says about itself:

Land Crab Pays Visit To Cahow ChickBermuda petrel parents visit their chick – May 29, 2019

Watch a land crab slowly creep into the Bermuda Petrel nesting burrow and make its way around the sleeping chick. The crab doesn’t stay for long; it scuttles away as soon as the large nestling is awakened.

The CahowCam is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Nonsuch Expeditions. You can watch the cam live at http://allaboutbirds.org/cahow.

Selling one’s blood because of poverty


This 18 December 2018 video from the USA says aboout itself:

How Big Pharma is Preying on Poor Americans

The 20 billion dollar blood-plasma industry is preying on poor Americans to ‘donate’ blood with dangerous frequency, then selling to countries with more stringent patient care laws.

I think we can all agree that giving blood is good. But what about when pharma companies use money to get people to give more blood than their bodies can handle? That is: not good! And that’s happening – right here in the United States.

Now, when I talk about blood – what I mean is blood plasma: an essential part of many life-saving treatments, for things like blood loss, hemophilia, burns, and cancer. Millions of people around the world donate their blood plasma to those who need it. Thanks, nice people who donate blood!

But donating too much plasma can be extremely harmful, that’s why most countries ban giving plasma more than once every two weeks, because they, you know, care about the health of donors. However – here in the US, big pharma companies have been making laws allowing people to donate a lot more frequently – dangerously frequently.

Up to two plasma donations a week, every week! Hey, if people want to donate sweet sweet blood, who are we to stand in their way?! Oh, except we’re actually giving them cash money for their sweet sweet blood, so technically it’s not donating, they’re selling –– but that’s doesn’t blur the lines of medical ethics or anything.

In most countries, donating plasma is a TRUE BLUE donation – you don’t get paid, and the centers are often run by charities like the Red Cross.

BUT in the US – the home of capitalism – plasma has become a 20 billion dollar industry. Hence why medical companies have started paying people for the sweet sweet blood. And – these for-profit medical companies are asking people to donate 4 times more than what the World Health Organization considers ‘safe’.

So, what exactly happens if you keep dishing out your plasma, [more] than advised? According to a volume of scientific research: extreme weight loss, debilitating fatigue, passing out – including passing out whilst driving – as well as severe pain, loss of muscle control, and severe dehydration.

Here seems as good a time as any to state this FUN FACT: 80% of plasma collection centers are located in impoverished neighborhoods. And what makes this practice even more predatory is that the side effects of donating are often compounded by poor nutrition and lack of medical care – issues that come hand in hand with poverty.

This story gets even worse, because many donors don’t even know they’re at risk, because they’re being lied to. The literature provided at U.S. centers ubiquitously states that “donating plasma is safe.” Its side effects are limited to “mild faintness and bruising”, with some brochures adding, “Other possible side effects will be explained by our medical staff”.

Just when you thought this story couldn’t get worse – here’s another fact: The U.S. now supplies 94 PERCENT of the world’s paid plasma. Working class US citizens are being targeted by big predatory medical companies, who then sell their plasma to countries with more stringent patient care laws.

… So basically, medical companies have built a pool of poverty-stricken human victims, who are sucked for their blood and tossed aside when they’ve been bled dry. And since donors sign a waiver … they can’t access medical treatment or compensation if donating blood makes them sick.

By Carlos Delgado in the USA:

Kalamazoo, Michigan: “I don’t like the idea of selling my blood plasma for money, but I have to do what I’ve got to do”

US blood plasma industry targets poor and working class

28 May 2019

As living conditions for workers in the United States continue to decline rapidly under the weight of decades of wage stagnation and bipartisan cuts to social spending, increasing numbers of US workers are turning to selling their blood plasma in order to cover basic necessities. Billions of dollars in profits are being made in an industry that quite literally thrives on sucking the blood from workers and the poor.

The US blood plasma industry has grown significantly in recent years, from just over $5 billion in global sales in 2000 to over $21 billion in 2017. According to a Market Research Engine forecast, the industry is on track to cross $44 billion by 2024.

Global demand for blood plasma has risen in part due to its irreplaceable role in many important medical therapies, including for patients with antibody deficiencies and hemophilia. Blood plasma can only be obtained from donors and cannot be artificially replicated.

Roughly 70 to 80 percent of global plasma supply is provided by paid donors from the United States, which, unlike the United Kingdom and other developed nations, does not ban the practice of paying donors for their blood. The United States also has fewer restrictions on how often someone can donate plasma, with donors permitted to undergo the process twice a week, every week, all year long.

Plasma donations in the United States have tripled from 12 million per year in 2006 to 38 million per year in 2016, according to the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. At the same time, the number of donation centers has doubled, from 300 sites in 2015 to more than 600 today.

Blood plasma donation takes a serious toll on the health of the donor, especially for long-term, repeated donors. After a blood draw, donors can experience weakness, bruising, dehydration or fainting. A 2010 study found that frequent paid donors have lower levels of proteins in their blood, increasing their risk of infection and liver and kidney disorders.

While providing plasma to those in need is a social necessity, the capitalist private profit system has endowed the practice with distinctly parasitic characteristics. The global plasma supply is provided largely by the poorest sections of the working class, driven to sell off parts of their bodies in order to make ends meet.

A 2018 study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that states with a higher number of plasma donation centers were also more likely to have a higher population of low-income and minimum-wage workers. The study also found a higher prevalence of donation centers in states with less cash assistance available to low-income individuals. One researcher, Heather Olsen, stated that plasma donation companies are “surgically placing” donation centers in destitute neighborhoods.

Additionally, the study noted that, due to inadequate health care coverage, “Significant numbers of donors…would not be able to afford the lifesaving therapies created by their own plasma contributions.”

A survey conducted by the Case Western researchers at a donation center in Cleveland, Ohio, found that 57 percent of donors surveyed make more than a third of their monthly income from donating plasma. Fully 70 percent have experienced a side effect from donation. When asked what donors spend the money on, which can be as little as $30 to $50 for a donation that can be sold for $300 on the wholesale market, respondents said they largely spent money on basic necessities such as food, gas and rent.

Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site spoke with donors at a donation center in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Brandon is a working-class college student who uses the donation money to cover basic necessities. “It’s an easy way to get money for the rent,” he said. “At the school I go to, I’m in class with CEOs’ daughters and all of that. So as a blue-collar kid, I’m a minority. My financial aid is good, but not good enough. I need to find other ways to get the money, and plasma is an easy way to do it.

“I’ve been donating to this center for a couple months,” Brandon continued. “Back home, I was doing it for about a year. Coming from a working-class family and being a first-generation college student, there’s a lot of what-ifs and unknowns. You’ve got to find the money where it is.

“Obviously, this is a huge industry. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do. What they give me for what I donate is what they give me. Would I like more of the pie, especially since it’s literally me giving a part of myself? Yes. I’m well aware that I’m getting ripped off for this, but money is money. And obviously I don’t have much of it.”

Brandon spoke of how social inequality drives workers and youth like himself to become plasma donors. “I go to school with a lot of upper-class kids. And even though they have so much, they still fight and claw for more. It’s capitalism. The upper class succeeds. The rest of us fight like hell. The political spectrum is set up to where the rich get richer and where the working class have to suffer. A lot of bills that Congress passes favor the rich, even though promises are made throughout the campaigns that they’re going to help the working class. But it’s going to take a lot more than one person to change that.”

Izzy is a student at Western Michigan University who works in the food service industry. She recently had her hours cut, so she is selling her blood plasma to cover necessities. “I use the extra money on gas, groceries, things like that,” she said. “I know for some people, though, it’s like a job, and they earn a living from donation. It’s sad but true. My friend works here, and she sees the same people every week.

“There’s a whole profit scheme,” Izzy continued. “They give us so little, but they get so much. It’s like a typical medical industry stunt. It’s the same thing with big pharma. They want you to get addicted to opioids so they sell more of them. They want your plasma because it’s expensive. But they don’t want to pay you, so they go to the poorest places and pay the least amount they can.”

Izzy noted the contradiction between providing a socially necessary service and the way that service is exploited for profit. “I feel okay about donating in some respects. There are pregnant mothers who need plasma, babies who need it, and kids who need it. But at the same time, I hate that I’m feeding into the big pharmacy companies.”

Mark recently moved to Kalamazoo from Flint, Michigan. “Currently I’m waiting for a call back from a job,” he said. “Money is tight, so I came here to donate so I could get gas and food, some hygiene things, basic needs like that. I don’t donate very often, but I do it when I’m in a serious need. I don’t like donating, because I don’t like the idea of selling my blood plasma for money. But I have to do what I’ve got to do, really.”

Mark spoke about the social conditions in Flint, which has been ravaged by decades of industrialization and the enduring water crisis. “It’s horrible in Flint. It’s a ghost town. There’s abandoned places everywhere, abandoned houses. There’s drug addicts, drug dealers, shootings, missing kids. The whole area is bad. There’s no jobs at all. The only jobs that are really good are factory jobs, but the factory jobs don’t pay what they actually should. GM is barely paying anything.

“We’re not robots. We’re not just people you can give a job to and just lay off. We have lives. We have families. We have kids. We depend on jobs.”

Quwanda has been donating blood plasma for over 10 years. She said that she has been fighting to get better pay for donors. “For a long time, when I’d go to the center I would talk to the managers about getting us more pay. It does take a lot out of us when we come out of there. We are giving our immune system away. I understand completely the whole process and what they’re using it for. I worked as a nurse for 20 years. I’ve always thought that we should be getting more money, especially with what they’re getting paid from our plasma.”

She spoke of the debilitating effects that frequent donation has on her physical health. “I’ve experienced a lot of weakness. It drains you. Even on a sick day, when you really need some money, you come in here. You’re at your worst when you come out. That’s basically what you have to deal with if you need to get by.”

“I’ve done plasma donation in a lot of different cities and states,” she said. “Every place is different, but they still pay very low. The economy doesn’t help any, and gas is high. So you have to get it from somewhere. We get gas money from here. If we need Pampers, milk for the baby, toiletries, that’s what we’ll come in here for. I think more people might come if they were giving more money. A lot of times I do feel sick and queasy afterwards. I eat and drink plenty of water, but it’s the simple fact that they’re taking your immune system. It’s draining.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), South Asia is now the leading transplant tourism hub globally, with India among the top kidney exporters. Each year more than 2,000 Indians sell their kidneys, with many of them going to foreigners: here.

Mysterious Eocene crocodile, video


This 1 May 2019 video says about itself:

The Croc That Ran on Hooves

In the Eocene Epoch, there was a reptile that had teeth equipped for biting through flesh, its hind legs were a lot longer than its front legs and instead of claws, its toes were each capped with hooves. How did this living nightmare come to evolve?

This crocodile is called Boverisuchus.

French persecution for disclosing Saudi weapons scandal


This 10 April 2018 video is called France’s Macron defends Saudi arms sales.

By Will Morrow:

French government threatens “national security” charges against journalists who revealed Yemen war arms sales

30 May 2019

The Macron government is threatening to lay charges carrying a five-year jail sentence against journalists who exposed its secret provision of arms for Saudi Arabia’s illegal war in Yemen, in which tens of thousands of civilians have been killed.

On April 15, the journalistic organization Disclose published a classified 15-page document prepared last October by the direction of army security for the president and leading ministers. It provided precise information of the use of French arms by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, including tanks, missiles and laser-guiding systems. The document also proved that multiple French officials, including Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, had repeatedly lied by denying that French arms were being used in this war crime.

Shortly after the report was published, the Macron government summoned three journalists involved in the exposure for questioning by the General Directorate for Internal Security: Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal, the co-founders of Disclose, as well as Benoit Collombat of Radio France.

On May 14, Disclose tweeted a statement reporting on the questioning that took place that afternoon in north-western Paris, protesting the far-reaching attack on the freedom of the press by the Macron administration.

According to the statement, the journalists were each informed at the start of their questioning that the investigation was being opened under laws of “terrorism and attack on national security”. “This”, Disclose writes, “deprives the Disclose journalists of protections guaranteed by the law of 29 July 1881 on the freedom of the press.” The police sought to coerce them into identifying their source.

“The formulation of questions had the singular objective of violating the fundamental protections of the right of the press to secrecy of sources, a critical element of the freedom of the press.” They were questioned about their personal Twitter and Facebook postings, “including some which had no relation to the topic of the interview. Another attempt at intimidation.”

“Before exercising their right to silence, Mathias Destal and Geoffrey Livolsi therefore declared to the investigators that they were acting in their mission of informing the public,” it said. On May 28, a third Disclose journalist, Michel Dispratz, was questioned by the intelligence service.

The Macron administration will likely lay charges against the journalists under an extraordinary, anti-democratic law passed in July 2009, on “security of defense secrets”. It makes it illegal for anyone to come into possession, “destroy”, or “bring to public knowledge” any document deemed by the government to be important to “national security”. It includes a maximum 5 years’ jail term upon conviction, and a 75,000 euro fine.

The Macron government’s actions are part of a drive by capitalist governments around the world—assisted by the state stenographers in the corrupted corporate media—to criminalize whistleblowing and destroy the freedom of the press.

Its sharpest expression is in the persecution of WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

The Trump administration, with the support of the Australian and British governments, is seeking to extradite Assange from the UK for having exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to try him under the Espionage Act, for which he faces a sentence of 170 years or the death penalty. At the same time, Manning, WikiLeaks’s source, is being held indefinitely in jail in the US for contempt of court, after she refused to testify before a grand jury impaneled to bring further frame-up charges against Assange.

Those political forces and publications, including Le Monde in France, that have promoted the slanders used to justify Assange’s persecution, bear responsibility for creating the political environment in which Macron is able to carry out these actions.

The Disclose report makes clear that the French government violated international law, including a 2014 European treaty on arms sales, by selling arms with knowledge that they would be used in war crimes. Yet as in the case of Assange and Manning, those facing criminal charges are not the perpetrators of the crime, but the journalists and whistleblowers who exposed it to the population.

Livolsi told the Intercept on May 17 that “they want to make an example of us because it’s the first time in France that there have been leaks like this. They want to scare journalists and their sources away from revealing state secrets.”

The Macron government is utilizing the case to make clear that it is completely unaccountable to the population. It says it will not comment on the content of the leaks, which have been read by hundreds of thousands of people, because they are “classified.” Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly gave an interview with BFM-TV host Jean-Jacques Bourdin on May 8, in which the following exchange took place:

Bourdin: Do you have in your possession the 15-page report edited by the direction of military security on the security situation in Yemen?

Parly: I have many reports in my possession.

Bourdin: Do you have this report in your possession? Yes or no?

Parly: It’s a report that I have had in my possession. I am a recipient of this document. I’m even an authorized recipient, in contrast to others, who have procured it, who should not have had it in their possession because they are classified files.

Bourdin: Well, these are journalists who obtained the documents.

Parly: In violation of all the rules and laws of our country.

Bourdin: What does the document say?

Parly: I’m not at all in the habit of commenting on classified notes.

Bourdin: These journalists, Florence Parly, have revealed what is in this note, this confidential document.

Parly: I have nothing to say since, because it’s classified, one can reveal things which are not contained in it.

Bourdin: What they have revealed is not actually in the note?

Parly: I have nothing to say. I’ve said that when one divulges classified documents, one opens oneself up to charges, and it is not the minister of the army, who I am, who is going to comment in affirming or confirming what is in this note.

Parly spoke before an armed services and national defense commission hearing of the National Assembly on May 7, and not only defended the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but also declared that the French state must in general be able to sell arms to countries carrying out war crimes.

“Once a war is launched, when our partners use force in a manner that does not appear to us to be compatible with international humanitarian law, we do not hesitate to tell them,” she said. “But should we cease all sales of arms to these countries and interrupt the servicing of equipment that has already been provided? I believe that in this situation, we must exercise our discretion.”

She added: “It would be a serious blow to the reputation of France in the eyes of our clients to give the impression that we may desert our partners mid-way through their journey if we disapprove of such and such actions. In the end, it would disrupt an entire industrial and technological ecosystem in our country, which depends upon our exports contracts.”

These remarks point to the real considerations behind the Macron government’s persecution of the Disclose journalists. Having participated in numerous illegal neo-colonial wars over the past 25 years, including the 2011 rape of Libya, the French ruling class is preparing for wars that would involve crimes on a scale that has not been seen in the lifetime of the current generation. It also knows there is mass opposition in the working class to militarism and war and to social inequality and poverty, expressed in the mass “yellow vest” protests over the past six months. It is accordingly building up a police state to suppress any and all opposition.

As young people took part in a music festival on June 21 on a wharf in Nantes, western France, police forces launched a violent assault on the concert. In the course of the police crackdown, 14 people fell seven meters into the Loire river. One young man, since identified as 24-year-old Steve Caniço, is missing and is feared to have drowned in the river during the attack: here.

Dutch secret service sues journalist about ‘state secrets’: here.

Egyptian dictatorship butchering people


Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

The hangman of the Middle East: US-backed regime in Egypt hands down nearly 2,500 death sentences

30 May 2019

Egypt’s US-backed dictatorship of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sentenced 2,443 people to death since coming to power in a bloody coup in 2013, according to a report issued this week by the UK-based human rights group Reprieve.

Of those sentenced to die by hanging, 2,008, or 82 percent of the total, were convicted of political offenses.

A death penalty index tracking the use of the death penalty in Egypt and identifying those faced with execution recorded cases up until September 23, 2018, when 77 of those on the country’s teeming death row faced imminent execution as a result of convictions in criminal trials. Since then, at least six of them have been put to death.

In total, 144 people have been executed by the Egyptian regime over the past five years. This compares to a single execution carried out between the 2011 revolution that overthrew the 30-year-long US-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak and the July 3, 2013, coup led by General Sisi against the elected government of President Mohammed Morsi. During this same interval, a total of 152 death sentences were recommended by the Egyptian courts, compared to the nearly 2,500 issued since.

The death sentences have, in many cases, been handed down in mass trials in which defendants are brought before drumhead military tribunals in which they are denied all of the elementary rights to a fair trial including the right to present an individual defense, representation by legal counsel and the ability to call or examine witnesses.

The assembly line of state murder in Egypt begins with arbitrary arrest followed by a period of “enforced disappearance” in which prisoners are held incommunicado without charges and subjected to hideous torture until submitting to signing a confession. They are then brought into cages in military courts alongside dozens if not hundreds of others.

Under the regime’s “Assembly Law,” unlimited numbers of defendants can be tried together on the theory that they were involved in a “joint enterprise” in the alleged commission of a crime by a single individual. This has allowed the handing down of the death penalty for thousands of people whose sole crime has been to participate in peaceful protests against the regime.

Children have been subjected to this same treatment, tried for their lives alongside adults. The Reprieve report found that at least 12 of those condemned to hang were children at the time of their arrests, rounded up, tried and sentenced in flagrant violation of international law. Thousands of such children have been unlawfully arrested since the 2013 coup.

Among them is Ahmed Saddouma, who was dragged from his bed and taken from his family’s home on the outskirts of Cairo by Egyptian police in March 2015. He was held incommunicado for 80 days as his parents desperately searched for him. During that time, he was subjected to continuous torture, savagely beaten with metal bars and electrocuted all over his body until he signed a false confession.

Ahmed Saddouma, dragged away by police at the age of 17 and sentenced to die

“It is a political trial based on trumped-up charges,” the boy’s father, Khaled Mostafa Saddouma, told Middle East Eye. “I saw marks of torture on his body, which he said happened during interrogations.”

Even though the crime to which he confessed, the attempted assassination of a judge, took place three weeks after he had been seized by the police, he was convicted and sentenced to death in a mass trial of 30 people. It appears that his only real “crime” was participating in a protest together with fellow members of a group of football fans known as the Ultras.

Also sentenced to die for a crime he was alleged to have committed at the age of 17 and while a high school student is Karim Hemeida Youssef, whose June 22 sentencing was not included in the data compiled by Reprieve.

Arrested in January 2016, he also was subjected to “enforced disappearance” for 42 days during which he was tortured into confessing to taking part in an attack on a Cairo hotel.

“When he denied the charges, a security officer electrocuted him repeatedly all over his body until he was forced to confess,” his father told Middle East Eye.

At least 32 women have also been condemned to death under Sisi’s reign, according to Reprieve.

The abysmal conditions in Egypt’s prisons are claiming more victims than the hangman’s noose. Since the coming to power of Sisi, at least 60,000 people have been imprisoned on political charges, jailed under hellish conditions of severe overcrowding, lack of sanitation and denial of medical care.

According to the London-based Arab Organization for Human Rights, nearly 800 detainees have died in Egyptian jails since the 2013 coup, most as the result of medical negligence.

“Egyptian prisons have turned into execution compounds taking the lives of their detainees by denying them the right to the medical care they need and providing a fertile environment for diseases and epidemics to spread inside the detention centers due to the lack of hygiene, pollution and overcrowding,” the group said.

It said that there had been 20 such deaths so far in 2019, including 15 detainees charged based on their political opposition to the regime.

Egyptian security forces, meanwhile, are carrying out violent repression against the civilian population in the northern Sinai Peninsula that amounts to war crimes, according to a report issued on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The 134-page report documents arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, extra-judicial killings, and mass evictions, as well as air and ground assaults against civilian populations.

The report states that children as young as 12 have been rounded up in mass sweeps of the region and held in secret prisons.

The area is subject to a demilitarization treaty between Egypt and Israel, but the Israeli government has not only allowed a massive Egyptian military deployment, ostensibly in a campaign to eradicate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but has itself participated in airstrikes in the region.

The HRW report called upon the US government to “halt all military and security assistance to Egypt”, while indicating that Washington’s support for the regime implicated it in war crimes.

Washington is the foremost backer of the blood-stained dictatorship in Cairo, with the US Congress approving the Trump administration’s request for $3 billion in aid to the Sisi regime, with another $1.4 billion in the pipeline for 2020.

This aid has gone to the purchase of F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, Apache attack helicopters and Humvees, all of which have been unleashed upon the population of the Sinai Peninsula. Also included in this package are cluster bomb munitions, banned by most countries because of their lethal effects on civilian populations and, in particular, children.

The US Central Command has also resumed “Operation Bright Star”, a major military exercise begun under the Mubarak dictatorship, which focuses on training Egyptian forces for “irregular warfare.”

The US State Department dismissed the HRW report, insisting that US military aid had “long played a central role in Egypt’s economic and military development, and in furthering regional stability.” It added that the assistance was aimed at “countering the Iranian regime’s dangerous activities” in the region.

Similarly, a Pentagon spokesman insisted that “The US strategic military-to-military relationship with Egypt remains unchanged.”

US President Donald Trump, who praised General Sisi during his visit last month to the White House for doing “a fantastic job in a very difficult situation”, has since announced that he will formally brand the Muslim Brotherhood, which backed the overthrown Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, as a “terrorist organization.”

This classification of an organization that Washington utilized over a long period in the Middle East to counter the influence of socialist and left-nationalist political forces has the sole purpose of legitimizing the mass murder being carried out by the Egyptian regime.

Washington backs Sisi precisely because of his role in ruthlessly suppressing the revolutionary movement of workers and young people that toppled Mubarak in 2011 and threatened to spread throughout the region, undermining the strategic interests of US imperialism.

The police state repression undertaken by the Cairo regime with Washington’s backing is only postponing a revolutionary reckoning with the Egyptian working class. Under conditions in which 40 percent of the population subsists on less than $2 a day, while inflation and the elimination of subsidies to meet the demands of the IMF are slashing the living standards of masses of workers, a new eruption of class battles is inevitable.

Workers who rose up in the textile mill towns of the Nile Delta, the Egyptian ports and in Cairo itself to overthrow Mubarak, will be impelled once again onto the road of struggle. The lessons of the betrayal of the Egyptian revolution of 2011 must be assimilated.

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi dies during show trial: here.

New dinosaur species from Thailand


This video is about dinosaurs at the 1st Geological Adventure Tour Festival 2017 which was held in Lumpini Park, Bangkok, Thailand.

From the University of Bonn in Germany:

Thai dinosaur is a cousin of T. rex

Researchers identify fossils found 30 years ago

May 28, 2019

Scientists from the University of Bonn and the Sirindhorn Museum in Thailand have identified two new dinosaur species. They analyzed fossil finds that were already discovered 30 years ago in Thailand. Both species are distant relatives of T. rex, but with a somewhat more primitive structure. They were efficient predators. The results have now been published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

Three decades ago a Thai museum employee discovered some fossilized bones during excavations. He handed them over to the Sirindhorn Museum, where they were never examined in detail. “Five years ago I came across these finds during my research,” explains Adun Samathi. The Thai paleontologist is currently doing his doctorate at the Steinmann Institute of Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology at the University of Bonn. He brought some casts of the fossils here to analyze them together with his doctoral supervisor Prof. Dr. Martin Sander using state-of-the-art methods.

The results take a new look at the history of the megaraptors (“giant thieves”). The relatives of this group of carnivorous predatory dinosaurs include the Tyrannosaurus rex. Like the T. rex, they ran on their hind legs. Unlike the tyrant lizard, however, their arms were strong and armed with long claws. They also had more delicate heads that ended in a long snout. “We were able to assign the bones to a novel megaraptor, which we baptized Phuwiangvenator yaemniyomi,” explains Samathi. The name is reminiscent on the one hand of the location, the Phuwiang district, and on the other hand of the discoverer of the first Thai dinosaur fossil, Sudham Yaemniyom.

Phuwiangvenator and Vayuraptor were fast and dangerous predators. Although only half as long as its relative, the T. rex, Phuwiangvenator almost reached the size of an Asian elephant. © Adun Samathi/Uni of Bonn

Phuwiangvenator was probably a fast runner. With a length of about six meters, it was considerably smaller than the T. rex, who measured about twelve meters. Megaraptors have so far been discovered mainly in South America and Australia. “We have compared the Thai fossils with the finds there,” says Samathi. “Various characteristics of Phuwiangvenator indicate that it is an early representative of this group. We take this as an indication that the megaraptors originated in Southeast Asia and then spread to other regions.”

During his research in Thailand, the doctoral student discovered further unidentified fossils. They also belong to a predatory dinosaur, which was a bit smaller with a length of about 4.5 meters. The material was not sufficient to clarify the exact ancestry. However, scientists assume that smaller dinosaur, named Vayuraptor nongbualamphuenisis, is also related to Phuwiangvenator and T. rex. “Perhaps the situation can be compared with that of African big cats,” explains Samathi. “If Phuwiangvenator were a lion, Vayuraptor would be a cheetah.”

The two new predatory dinosaurs will be presented to the public today on the tenth anniversary of the Sirindhorn Museum. With blue-blooded support: The event will be opened by the Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

Artificial intelligence, racism and sexism


This 10 April 2018 video says about itself:

We’re Training Machines to be Racist. The Fight Against Bias is On

Face recognition software didn’t recognise Joy Buolamwini until she placed a white mask over her face. Now she’s leading the fight against lazily-coded [Amazon] algorithms that work for white males but struggle to recognise the faces and voices of women and people with non-white skin tones.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Can artificial intelligence be racist or sexist?

Governments use algorithms on an increasingly large scale to predict who will do something wrong, but also to determine what citizens need, the NOS reported yesterday. Something with a risk of discrimination.

But there is also a risk outside the government. Almost all self-driving cars, eg, recognize people with darker skin colour worse than people with lighter skin colour. That is the striking conclusion of a recent study. And dangerous, moreover, because cars then do not properly anticipate pedestrians of colour.

Striking, but not new, says Nieuws en Co-tech watcher Enaam Ahmed Ali. “We can no longer do without artificial intelligence, but it is full of prejudices.” …

Artificial intelligence in courts

But it goes further, says Enaam Ahmed Ali. For example, banks use it to assess whether you can apply for a loan. And in the US, for example, experiments are already being conducted with artificial intelligence in courts. And then those prejudices suddenly become really problematic.

Who is the doctor?

A well-known example, where you see those prejudices coming back, is, eg, the translation function of Google. You can do the following experiment yourself: type she is a doctor, he is a nurse and translate this into a grammatically gender-neutral language such as Turkish or Persian and translate back. Suddenly he is the doctor and she the nurse.

Black women not recognized

Ahmed Ali: “You recently saw that very well with Amazon‘s facial recognition tool. It showed that black women were not recognized as women in 37 per cent of cases. This was due to a lack of diversity in the data.”

And while the consequences of face recognition apps are small,

No, dear NOS, these consequences are not small. Eg, Amazon sells it facial recognition software to police. And in England, London police facial recognition software ‘recognizes’ 100% of innocent people as criminals. Err … maybe it is not as bad as 100%. British daily The Independent says it is ‘only’ 98% misidentifications. And a BBC report looks at this even more through rose-coloured glasses: ‘only’ 92% of innocent people ‘recognized’ as criminals

they are big in the case of self-driving cars. Ahmed Ali: “Those cars see the black people, but do not recognize them as human in all cases. For the car, for example, it may also be a tree or pole. The danger is that a tree or pole does not suddenly cross over. In this case, the car can make a wrong and dangerous decision.”

And this also works with words. If the bulk of the data speaks of male doctors, then the Google algorithm also automatically links that together.

Edward Snowden: With Technology, Institutions Have Made ‘Most Effective Means of Social Control in the History of Our Species’. NSA whistleblower says “new platforms and algorithms” can have direct effect on human behavior: here.