Deep-sea dragonfish camouflage, new research

This 2017 video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in the USA says about itself:

The deep-sea dragonfish Aristostomias scintillans has unusual bioluminescent organs producing red light under each eye. While most midwater species cannot see in this range of wavelength, this fish can see red. Researchers believe that Aristostomias scintillans uses its red bioluminescent organs as night vision goggles for hunting prey, and as a way for individuals of this species to find each other.

Barbeled dragonfishes are a dominant group of predatory fishes that live mainly between 650 to 3,300 feet deep in the ocean’s mesopelagic zone, otherwise known as the twilight zone. Smithsonian scientist Dave Johnson says “The arsenal of specialized traits that barbeled dragonfishes have evolved as deep-sea predators—huge mouths with dagger-like teeth, distensible stomachs, snake like, black bodies with light producing organs and elaborate chin barbels with bioluminescent tissue—make them ferocious and voracious ambush predators, thus the name dragonfishes.”

From the University of California – San Diego in the USA:

Researchers discover what makes deep-sea dragonfish teeth transparent

June 5, 2019

A team of researchers led by the University of California San Diego have discovered what’s responsible for making the teeth of the deep-sea dragonfish transparent. This unique adaptation, which helps camouflage the dragonfish from their prey, results from their teeth having an unusually crystalline nanostructure mixed with amorphous regions. The findings could provide “bioinspiration” for researchers looking to develop transparent ceramics.

Researchers detail their findings in a paper published June 5 in the journal Matter.

Deep-sea creatures have evolved some fascinating adaptations such as bioluminescence, eyes that can see in low light, and mouths that can engulf much larger prey. Some species, such as the deep-sea dragonfish (Aristostomias scintillans), have transparent teeth.

“It’s an adaptation that, to our knowledge, has not yet been explored in detail,” said Audrey Velasco-Hogan, a materials science PhD student at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and first author of the study. “By studying why these teeth are transparent, we can better understand deep-sea organisms like the dragonfish and the adaptations they evolved to live in their environments.”

Transparent teeth, along with a dark body, make the dragonfish essentially invisible to their prey, explained Velasco-Hogan. Because of this camouflage, dragonfish are among the top predators of the deep sea despite being small (measuring about 15 centimeters long) and relatively slow.

“They spend most of their time sitting around with their jaws open, waiting for something to come by. Their teeth are always exposed, so it’s important that they are transparent so they don’t reflect or scatter any bioluminescent light from the environment,” Velasco-Hogan said.

To solve the mysteries of the dragonfish’s dental disguise, researchers imaged and analyzed the nanostructure of the teeth using a combination of electron microscopy, focused ion beam and nanoindentation tests. They discovered that the teeth have unique characteristics both in their outer enamel-like layer and inner dentin layer.

The enamel-like layer consists of hydroxyapatite nanocrystals structured in a way that prevents light from scattering or reflecting off the surface of the teeth. The dentin layer is also structured in its own particular way. It lacks microscopic channels called dentin tubules, which are what give the teeth of humans and other animals their color. The absence of tubules is also responsible for making dragonfish teeth transparent.

“Typically, teeth are not nanostructured. And they tend to have microscale features such as dentin tubules. From a materials perspective, it’s really interesting to see that dragonfish teeth have architectures that we do not see in others,” Velasco-Hogan said.

“I also find it fascinating how there are fundamental similarities between materials in the lab and in nature,” she added. “Experimentally, we know that the way to make a material transparent is by reducing its grain size to make it nanostructured. So to see that is also how nature is accomplishing transparency is an interesting parallel.”

Interdisciplinary teamwork

Velasco-Hogan was part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers who were the first to study the dragonfish teeth in detail. Velasco-Hogan imaged the teeth, characterized their transparency and studied their mechanical properties. She worked under the direction of Marc Meyers, a professor in the Departments of NanoEngineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego.

“My group is always looking for new materials in nature to study,” said Meyers, whose research focuses on biomimicry. “And interdisciplinary collaborations are a key part of our work. When we bring scientists from different backgrounds together, we can advance the knowledge in our fields in ways that a single lab could not do alone.”

They collaborated with Dimitri Deheyn, a marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego who researches bioluminescence and biomimicry. Deheyn suggested the idea for the study, collected the specimens, conducted imaging experiments and characterized the transparency of the teeth.

“Taking advantage of the ultimate adaptation organisms show to specific environments has always been a driver for technological innovation, and the dragonfish is no exception to this,” said Deheyn. “There is clearly still broad inspiration to gather from the dragonfish and nature in general, and this intercept between biology and engineering through biomimicry is clearly a lucrative path for sustainable innovations.”

The team also involved the lab of Eduard Arzt, Director of the Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM) in Saarbrücken, Germany. Marcus Koch, who is Head of Physical Analytics at INM, analyzed the nanostructure of the teeth with a specialized electron microscope. Birgit Nothdurft, a technician in the Division of Physical Analytics at INM, performed a highly specialized preparation of the specimens.

Sudan dictatorship massacres own people for Saudi royals

This 31 December 2018 video says about itself:

The War In Yemen: Saudi Arabia recruits Sudanese child soldiers

Saudi Arabia has been recruiting children from desperate families in the war-torn African nation to pad up its frontlines in the Yemen war, the New York Times reported. How credible are these reports of Sudanese child soldiers fighting in Yemen? Journalist Hussain Albukhaiti explains.

Translated from Carlijne Vos in Dutch daily De Volkskrant, 5 June 2019:

Already 60 dead in the crackdown on Sudan protests, led by new strongman Hemedti

The attacks with which Sudanese security forces have been trying to put an end to peaceful protests since Monday have already killed at least 60 people. The protesters reported this in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday. The crackdown was probably triggered by one man: General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, nicknamed Hemedti. Who is he?

As vice-president of the TMC (Transitional Military Council), Hemedti has emphatically come to the fore. Now, the 44-year-old general suddenly seems to have had enough of the civilian protests and has sent his paramilitarists, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This militia, which was responsible for the war crimes in Darfur under their old name Janjaweed, is now being “loaned” to Saudi Arabia to fight against the Houthi rebels in Yemen

The Sudanese dictatorship does not just ‘loan’ Janjaweed gunmen, but also child soldiers to the Saudi regime’s bloody war on the people of Yemen.

and are deployed with European Union million euros support along the border to stop migrants from going to Europe.

The demonstrators hoped with their protest actions to force the military to agree to the establishment of a civilian government. …


Last week Hemedti suddenly called on the protesters to put an end to the sit-ins because they threatened order and security in Sudan. Hemedti had just returned from a visit to Saudi crown prince Bin Salman. Since then, there has been widespread speculation about a possible power grab by Hemedti. “Hemedti planned on becoming the number one man in Sudan. He has unlimited ambition”, an opposition member told The Guardian.

According to the Sudanese journalist and sympathizer of the protest organisation Sudanese Association for Professionals (SPA), Mohammed Abdelrahman, Hemedti’s actions are largely determined by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Emirates. These countries are not keen on the transfer of power to civilians – for fear of civilian uprisings in their own countries – and want the army to keep a firm grip. “Hemedti has received a lot of money from them in exchange for his militia support in Yemen. There is a lot of resistance within the opposition to the Sudanese involvement in Yemen, so Hemedti is now trying to silence them”, Abdelrahman, who lives in the Netherlands, says on the phone. “Moreover, there are also many Darfuris in the opposition, against which he has no chance when elections come.” …

The military transition council TMC announced Tuesday morning after the clash with the opposition to organize new elections in nine months. The Declaration of Forces of Freedom and Change (DFCF), the alliance of all protest parties, has rejected this proposal and calls for a general strike and “civil disobedience” until the transition council has handed over power. …

Hemedti now presents himself to his allies Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt as the strongman … The first evidence is that the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera was suddenly banned last month.

40 BODIES PULLED FROM NILE More than 40 bodies of people slain by Sudanese security forces were pulled from the Nile River in the capital of Khartoum, organizers of pro-democracy demonstrations said, and new clashes brought the death toll in three days of the ruling military’s crackdown to 108. [AP]

The counter-revolutionary bloodbath launched by the junta in Sudan’s capital Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman ongoing since Monday has killed some 100 people, including an eight-year old child, and injured hundreds more: here.

‘Feathers, 100 million years older than birds’

This September 2014 video says about itself:

Meet Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, meaning “Kulinda runner”! It’s classified as basal neornithischian! It lived in Russia during the Middle-Late Jurassic about 169 – 144 mya. It’s about 1.5 meters in length! It had a short head, short forelimbs, long hindlimbs and a long tail! And it had feathers!

From the University of Bristol in England:

Feathers came first, then birds

June 3, 2019

New research, led by the University of Bristol, suggests that feathers arose 100 million years before birds — changing how we look at dinosaurs, birds, and pterosaurs, the flying reptiles.

It also changes our understanding of feathers themselves, their functions and their role in some of the largest events in evolution.

The new work, published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution combines new information from palaeontology and molecular developmental biology.

The key discovery came earlier in 2019, when feathers were reported in pterosaurs — if the pterosaurs really carried feathers, then it means these structures arose deep in the evolutionary tree, much deeper than at the point when birds originated.

Lead author, Professor Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, said: “The oldest bird is still Archaeopteryx first found in the Late Jurassic of southern Germany in 1861, although some species from China are a little older.

“Those fossils all show a diversity of feathers — down feathers over the body and long, vaned feathers on the wings. But, since 1994, palaeontologists have been contending with the perturbing discovery, based on hundreds of amazing specimens from China, that many dinosaurs also had feathers.”

Co-author, Baoyu Jiang from the University of Nanjing, added: “At first, the dinosaurs with feathers were close to the origin of birds in the evolutionary tree.

“This was not so hard to believe. So, the origin of feathers was pushed back at least to the origin of those bird-like dinosaurs, maybe 200 million years ago.”

Dr Maria McNamara, co-author from University College Cork, said: “Then, we had the good fortune to work on a new dinosaur from Russia, Kulindadromeus.

“This dinosaur showed amazingly well-preserved skin covered with scales on the legs and tail, and strange whiskery feathers all over its body.

“What surprised people was that this was a dinosaur that was as far from birds in the evolutionary tree as could be imagined. Perhaps feathers were present in the very first dinosaurs.”

Danielle Dhouailly from the University of Grenoble, also a co-author, works on the development of feathers in baby birds, especially their genomic control. She said: “Modern birds like chickens often have scales on their legs or necks, and we showed these were reversals: what had once been feathers had reversed to be scales.

“In fact, we have shown that the same genome regulatory network drives the development of reptile scales, bird feathers, and mammal hairs. Feathers could have evolved very early.”

Baoyu Jiang continued: “The breakthrough came when we were studying two new pterosaurs from China.

“We saw that many of their whiskers were branched. We expected single strands — monofilaments — but what we saw were tufts and down feathers. Pterosaurs had feathers.”

Professor Benton added: “This drives the origin of feathers back to 250 million years ago at least.

“The point of origin of pterosaurs, dinosaurs and their relatives. The Early Triassic world then was recovering from the most devastating mass extinction ever, and life on land had come back from near-total wipe-out.

“Palaeontologists had already noted that the new reptiles walked upright instead of sprawling, that their bone structure suggested fast growth and maybe even warm-bloodedness, and the mammal ancestors probably had hair by then.

“So, the dinosaurs, pterosaurs and their ancestors had feathers too. Feathers then probably arose to aid this speeding up of physiology and ecology, purely for insulation. The other functions of feathers, for display and of course for flight, came much later.”

Australian journalism on war crimes, spying: criminal?

This 4 June 2019 video says about itself:

ABC’s Sydney headquarters raided by Australian federal police

AFP officers have raided the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Ultimo headquarters over reporting from 2017 looking into the clandestine operations of Australian special forces in Afghanistan. ABC news presenter Joe O’Brien was live on air as the AFP entered the building.

‘There’s a raid happening right here at the ABC … just 100 metres or so that way’, he said to camera while pointing over his shoulder. The ABC warrant names the broadcaster’s national reporting team reporters Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, as well as ABC news boss Gaven Morris.

The raid on the national broadcaster comes less than 24 hours after the AFP served News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst a warrant to search her Canberra home, phone and computer, 14 months after she published a story over a top-secret proposal to expand the nation’s domestic surveillance agency’s capabilities.

After the Trump administration in the USA attacked press freedom which had uncovered war crimes in the USA, and the Macron administration in France attacked press freedom in order to cover up French governmental complicity in Saudi war crimes in Yemen

By Oscar Grenfell in Australia:

Australian Federal Police raid journalists over exposures of government spying, war crimes

5 June 2019

Over the past 24 hours, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has carried out two raids targeting separate media organisations, for their publication of articles exposing government spying plans and war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, AFP officers raided the home of Sunday Telegraph political editor Annika Smethurst in the Australian Capital Territory over an article she wrote in April 2018, revealing a secret government proposal to enable the Australian Signals Directorate to conduct domestic spying operations.

After 11 a.m. today, AFP officers entered the Sydney building of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) with a search warrant, referencing 2017 reports detailing the involvement of Australian troops in extrajudicial killings and other violations of international law in Afghanistan.

The raids are a major assault on freedom of the press. They are a dramatic escalation of a protracted campaign by the Liberal-National Coalition, the Labor Party opposition, and the entire political establishment, to criminalise the exposure of government crimes on the pretext of protecting “national security.”

The police warrant for the search of Smethurst’s house allowed them to examine her computers and mobile phones. An AFP statement said that the raid was part of “an investigation into the alleged unauthorised disclosure of national security information” and “alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret.”

The investigation is reportedly over an April 2018 article by Smethurst, revealing that the Coalition government was moving to enable the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the country’s main electronic eavesdropping agency, to carry out domestic spying operations, including against Australian citizens.

The ASD is legally barred from spying on Australian targets. Under existing legislation, it can only provide “technical advice” to the AFP and the domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

Already, in 2013, however, US government documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the ASD collaborated with the US National Security Agency to conduct mass surveillance operations, likely including against Australian citizens.

The government’s proposed changes in 2018 would have formalised these spying operations, giving the ASD the power to access bank accounts, text messages, emails and other electronic communications. Smethurst’s report indicated that it was seeking to expand warrantless surveillance, allowing ASD snooping with ministerial permission rather than a court order.

The proposal came just months after the Coalition government, with the support of the Labor opposition, established a new Home Affairs Ministry overseeing the operations of ASIO, the AFP and the Australian Border Force. This was aimed at creating a body, modelled on the US Department of Homeland Affairs, to integrate the operations of the security agencies to enable further attacks on democratic rights.

When the 2018 revelations were made public they were dismissed by Coalition Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton as “nonsense”. Smethurst’s story, however, was immediately referred to the AFP for investigation.

News Corp Australia, the Murdoch-owned company which publishes the Sunday Telegraph responded to the raid yesterday by branding it “outrageous and heavy-handed”.

Defenders of civil liberties warned of the far-reaching implications of the raid.

Greg Barns, spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, stated: “Scrutiny of government agencies by the media is critical to a democracy, and it is very concerning that these security agencies seem to want to avoid any examination.”

Digital Rights Watch described the raids as a “gross abuse of national security powers”.

The government has doubled-down. Asked if he was concerned about journalist’s homes being raided, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared: “It never troubles me that our laws are being upheld.”

Morrison’s comments came amid indications that the raid on Smethurst is part of a broader crackdown on the press after the government was reinstalled in a federal election last month.

2GB presenter and Sky News commentator Ben Fordham yesterday revealed that after he aired a story about up to six refugee boats having recently travelled towards Australia, he was contacted by senior officials from the Home Affairs department.

They stated that they would be “investigating” the disclosure and asked Fordham to give up his source. Under Australia’s draconian border protection regime, refugee boat arrivals are subject to national security secrecy laws, even if those on board perish, or if they are intercepted by Australian Border Force or naval officers.

The approach to Fordham, who said yesterday he was concerned he could also be targeted with a raid, was followed by this morning’s attempt to search the ABC building.

While reports are scanty, the warrant reportedly names ABC investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, along with director of news, Gaven Morris. AFP officers are seeking to obtain thousands of emails, files, passwords and written documents from April 2016 and July 2017. They are reportedly investigating the 2017 publication of “The Afghan Files”, which exposed the killing of unarmed civilians by Australian troops, the desecration of corpses and other war crimes covered up by military command.

The two raids are part of a broader campaign against government whistleblowers. The government, with the support of Labor, is prosecuting a former intelligence officer, dubbed Witness K, and his lawyer Bernard Collaery, for exposing an Australian espionage operation against the tiny state of East Timor.

David McBride, a former Australian military lawyer, also faces the prospect of a lengthy jail sentence if he is convicted over the alleged leak of documents to journalists containing evidence of war crimes committed in Afghanistan by Australia’s Special Forces.

Successive Labor and Coalition governments have expanded laws which abolish any whistleblower protections, even if leaks expose illegal actions.

The raid against Smethurst, however, raises the prospect of prosecutions of journalists and media organisations for publishing leaked material, in a direct attack on freedom of the press.

This was signalled by the phrasing of the warrant, which reportedly stated that the raid was partly in relation to the “alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret, which is an extremely serious matter that has the potential to undermine Australia’s national security.”

The phrasing corresponds to Espionage and Foreign Interference legislation passed last year by the Coalition, with the full support of Labor. The new laws make it a criminal offense to “deal with” information that “harms” “national security”. “Deal with” is defined to cover a long list of activities: “collect”, “possess”, “make a record of”, “copy”, “alter”, “conceal”, “communicate”, “publish” and “make available”.

Journalists have a limited defence, if they “reasonably believe” the information they published was in the public interest. However, this proviso is entirely undefined and subject to interpretation, meaning that journalists and media organisations could still face prosecution.

The AFP raids are part of a deepening assault on the democratic rights of the population, which is aimed at suppressing growing opposition to militarism, war, social inequality and the escalating expansion of police powers. In both cases, journalists who have revealed evidence of crimes by the government and military are raided and implicitly threatened with criminal prosecution.

This is part of a broader drive by governments around the world to abolish freedom of the press and other fundamental civil liberties. The sharpest expression is the attempt by the US administration of President Donald Trump to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for his role in exposing US war crimes and diplomatic intrigues.

The author also recommends:

Australia’s new secrecy laws block exposure of government crimes [14 July 2018]

Australia’s foreign interference laws threaten whistleblowers and media freedom [9 July 2019]

Australian police chief links media raids to US-led “Five Eyes” spy network: here.

“Is there going to be a future for journalism?” Australian media workers denounce police raids: here.

Two prominent criminal trials of whistleblowers, whose leaks exposed war crimes and illegal operations by the country’s US-linked military and intelligence services, are likely to be largely conducted behind closed doors after the Australian government issued “national security information” certificates: here.

Material released this week has confirmed that the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which operates under the direction of the government, has been investigating journalists for criminal offenses over their role in exposing atrocities committed by Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan: here.

The global war on journalism: here.

Australian government boosts Special Forces despite war crimes charges: here.

An episode of Channel Nine’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday night featured new details of alleged war crimes committed by Australian Special Forces (SAS) soldiers in Afghanistan. The allegations included testimony from whistleblowers within the organisation and comments from Afghan civilians whose relatives were murdered: here.

In a further move to block leaks exposing the criminal activities of the US-linked Australian surveillance and military agencies, Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers spent almost eight hours searching the Canberra home of a senior intelligence official on Wednesday. They left carrying large black plastic bags, reportedly containing evidence: here.

The Australian government is helping spearhead moves by the Trump administration to force internet companies to hand over encryption-cracking capabilities, and to intensify data-swapping within the US-dominated “Five Eyes” global surveillance network: here.

Elephants help frogs survive

This 2010 music video is called Crazy frog – Nellie the elephant.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society:

Frogs find refuge in elephant tracks

Study says pachyderm puddles are amphibian condos

June 4, 2019

Summary: Researchers in Myanmar describe flooded elephant tracks as key breeding grounds and ‘stepping stones’ connecting populations.

Frogs need elephants. That’s what a new WCS-led study says that looked at the role of water-filled elephant tracks in providing predator-free breeding grounds and pathways connecting frog populations.

Publishing in the journal Mammalia, the researchers found that rain-filled tracks of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) were filled with frog egg masses and tadpoles. The tracks can persist for a year or more and provide temporary habitat during the dry season where alternate sites are unavailable. Trackways could also function as “stepping stones” that connect frog populations.

This study was made available online in September 2018 ahead of final publication in print in May 2019.

The researchers made their observations in Myanmar’s Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Elephants are widely recognized as “ecosystem engineers”, where they extensively modify vegetation through browsing, trampling, and seed dispersal, and convert large amounts of plant biomass into dung that is an important nutrient input for terrestrial and aquatic systems. At smaller scales, local plant species richness is enhanced when elephants open gaps in the forest canopy, browsing damage to trees creates refuges for small vertebrates (lizards and small mammals), and dung piles provide food for a diversity of beetles.

However, most research on ecosystem engineering by elephants has focused on savanna elephants (Loxodonta Africana) and to a lesser extent, forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) in Africa; the role of Asian elephants as ecosystem engineers is much less well-known. Asian elephants are considered Endangered by IUCN due to habitat loss, poaching and retribution for crop raiding and human/elephant conflict.

Said Steven Platt, Associate Conservation Herpetologist with WCS’s Myanmar Program and lead author of the study: “Elephant tracks are virtual condominiums for frogs. This study underscores the critical role wildlife play in ecosystems in sometimes unexpected ways. When you lose one species, you may be unknowingly affecting others, which is why protecting intact ecosystems with full assemblages of wildlife is so important.”

Elephants help forests store more carbon by destroying smaller plants: here.

London, England anti-Trump demonstrators interviewed

London anti-Trump demonstrator Rachel, with sign with the names of the children who have died whilst being detained by the Trump administration in the USA

From the World Socialist Web Site in England:

Protesters speak out at London demonstration against Trump

By our reporters

5 June 2019

WSWS reporters spoke to some of those who attended Tuesday’s protests in London against US President Donald Trump.

Rachel, a student who lives in London but originates from Chula Vista, California, said, “The banner I am carrying has the names of the children who have died whilst being detained by the US, to remind people that there are still children separated from their parents in the US, and they’re not in great conditions. So, it’s still happening.

“They need to stop separating families. That hasn’t been done before. No child had died while being detained in the previous 10 years, but these ones are all just in the last 12 months.

“Other young people I know also say it’s wrong and that it shouldn’t be happening. That’s why I’m here. Not that Trump will listen to anyone, but this is for the people here and at home, to show that we think that it’s wrong and that it shouldn’t be happening.

Trump is using his power for his own benefits, and he’s trying to please other people that think that immigrants are the main problem in the country, and it’s not true.

“It’s a big misconception that immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans, and that they’re what’s wrong with the country and it’s not true.”

Asked what she thought about the need for socialism, she said, “Yeah, I’m for it.”

Barbara, from Bromley, said, “I have come here today to protest against Trump because he’s everything I don’t want anyone to be. He’s a racist. He’s a bigot. He’s got no respect for women, and I can’t believe he’s the President of the United States of America, and for our government to roll out the red carpet is disgusting.”


Asked about the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and American whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who are both being persecuted by US and British imperialism for exposing their war crimes and imperialist intrigues, she said, “I am against injustice, and wherever it is, I stand against injustice.

“I think that it’s an injustice against reporters to be honest. They’re trying to suppress the press, and that’s not what we stand for. I don’t know how they got their information and put it out there, but I don’t think they should be penalised for that.”

Madi is an American student who travelled down from Edinburgh. She said, “I feel I have a responsibility to speak out against Donald Trump and his policies. He is incredibly bigoted, racist and homophobic.

“I think demonstrations like this are important for showing that the people are angry and upset, so that hopefully we will get him voted out in 2020.


Trump ran his [2016] campaign on fear and hate. But the people in the middle states where there are many workers felt that no one was helping them. I’m from Wisconsin, which used to be a blue (Democratic Party) state. I also protested against Republican Governor Scott Walker, and I’m glad we got him out.

“It was very disheartening on election night when Trump was elected, as Wisconsin had almost always voted blue. I had supported [Democrat Bernie] Sanders in the primary.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t being represented in the two-party system, and that is something that should change.”

Asked about her banner, she said one of the figures she quotes is about immigration, because “There is a crisis on the border, and six children have died in US custody. That is completely unacceptable.”

Vanessa had travelled to the demonstration from Worcestershire despite a health issue. She explained she has suffered with body dysmorphia and severe anxiety and had been asking for help since she was 13.

“That’s a long time. I’ve had the diagnosis on the National Health Service [NHS], but I’m being sent from one service to another, because they’re all saying, you’ve got to get the other things treated before they can treat you. So, I’m left with no treatment. And it’s severe, suicidal. Coming out today, for me suffering from anxiety disorder, is huge.


“I’m here representing Worcestershire, and I’m here representing my cause for people who have invisible disabilities, like my mental health issues.”

She said the fact that Trump had said that the NHS would be “on the table” in any post-Brexit trade deal was “worrying, really worrying, because it’s bad enough now, particularly with mental health services. We’re going to have no chance at all for ordinary people accessing any help. It’s all a big worry. It’s not the society I envisaged when I get older.”

Vanessa said the rise of Donald Trump was “so like the rise of Hitler. It’s scary how people dismissed Hitler, thought he was just a joke, like they did with Trump, and then overnight they’re in power. And the racism and what I would call fascism, the hatred, the xenophobia, the jingoism, it’s all far too much like what happened in the 1920s and 30s.

“It worries me that we’re just moving more and more to a polarised global society between the rich and poor.”

Vanessa agreed that there was no one in the mainstream parties who represented the interests of the working class, because “they all come from the same background. They’ve all been to the same schools. They go to the same colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. We’re talking about an elite group of people here. They’ve never worked in an ordinary job where you don’t get sick pay, where you get a minimum wage. They’re multimillionaires, and how can they ever understand how it is for ordinary people? These people who are in this elite group in politics, across the board, Labour, Conservative, … the whole lot, they are totally out of touch, and it’s getting worse than it was in 2010. So, that’s where socialism needs to come in.”

Ordovician age marine animal fossils discovery

This October 2014 video says about itself:

The Hidden Secrets of the Ordovician Age

The origins of advanced forms of life began 500 million years ago during the Ordovician period ending with the Silurian extinction event.

Australian biologist Richard Smith travels across the continent to study the fossil record of living things that continued to flourish at this time as it did in the earlier Cambrian period. Invertebrates, namely molluscs and arthropods, dominated the oceans and fish, the world’s first true vertebrates, continued to evolve, with jaws appearing late in the period, not yet to diversifying onto land.

About 100 times as many meteorites struck the Earth during the Ordovician compared with today.

From the University of Kansas in the USA:

Rare fossils provide more detailed picture of biodiversity during Middle Ordovician

June 4, 2019

A clutch of marine fossil specimens unearthed in northern Portugal that lived between 470 and 459 million years ago is filling a gap in understanding evolution during the Middle Ordovician period.

The discovery, explained in a new paper just published in The Science of Nature, details three fossils found in a new “Burgess Shale-type deposit.” (The Burgess Shale is a deposit in Canada renowned among evolutionary biologists for excellent preservation of soft-bodied organisms that don’t have a biomineralized exoskeleton.)

“The paper describes the first soft-body fossils preserved as carbonaceous films from Portugal”, said lead author Julien Kimmig, collections manager at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum. “But what makes this even more important is that it’s one of the few deposits that are actually from the Ordovician period — and even more importantly, they’re from the Middle Ordovician, a time were very few soft-bodied fossils are known.”

Kimmig and his KU Biodiversity Institute colleagues, undergraduate researcher Wade Leibach and senior curator Bruce Lieberman, along with Helena Couto of the University of Porto in Portugal (who discovered the fossils), describe three marine fossil specimens: a medusoid (jellyfish), possible wiwaxiid sclerites and an arthropod carapace.

“Before this, there had been nothing found on the Iberian Peninsula in the Ordovician that even resembled these,” Kimmig said. “They close a gap in time and space. And what’s very interesting is the kind of fossils. We find Medusozoa — a jellyfish — as well as animals which appear to be wiwaxiids, which are sluglike armored mollusks that have big spines. We found these lateral sclerites of animals which were actually thought to have gone extinct in the late Cambrian. There might have been some that survived into the Ordovician in a Morocco deposit, but nothing concrete has been ever published on those. And here we have evidence for the first ones actually in the middle of the Ordovician, so it extends the range of these animals incredibly.”

Kimmig said the discovery of uncommon wiwaxiids fossils in this time frame suggests the animals lived on Earth for a far greater span of time than previously understood.

“Especially with animals that are fairly rare that we don’t have nowadays like wiwaxiids, it’s quite nice to see they lived longer than we ever thought,” he said. “Closely after this deposit, in the Upper Ordovician, we actually get a big extinction event. So, it’s likely the wiwaxiids survived up to that big extinction event and didn’t go extinct earlier due to other circumstances. But it might have been whatever caused the big Ordovician extinction event killed them off, too.”

According to the researchers, the soft-bodied specimens fill a gap in the fossil record for the Middle Ordovician and suggest “many soft-bodied fossils in the Ordovician remain to be discovered, and a new look at deep-water shales and slates of this time period is warranted.”

“It’s a very interesting thing with these discoveries — we’re actually getting a lot of information about the distribution of animals chronologically and geographically,” Kimmig said. “Also, this gives us a lot of information on how animals adapted to different environments and where they actually managed to live. With these soft-body deposits, we get a much better idea of how many animals there were and how their environment changed over time. It’s something that applies to modern days, with changing climate and changing water temperatures, because we can see how animals over longer periods of time in the geologic record have actually adapted to these things.”

Co-author Couto discovered the fossils in the Valongo Formation in northern Portugal, an area famed for containing trilobites. When the animals were alive, the Valongo Formation was part of a shallow sea on the margin of northern Gondwana, the primeval supercontinent.

“Based on the shelly fossils, the deposit looks like it was a fairly common Ordovician community,” Kimmig said. “And now we know that in addition to those common fossils jellyfish were floating around, we had sluglike mollusks roaming on the ground, too, and we had bigger arthropods, which might have been predatory animals. So, in that regard, we’re getting a far better image with these soft-bodied fossils of what these communities actually looked like.”

According to the KU researcher, scientists didn’t grasp until recently that deposits from this period could preserve soft-bodied specimens.

“For a long time, it was just not known that these kinds of deposits survived in to the Ordovician,” Kimmig said. “So, it is likely these deposits are more common in the Ordovician than we know of, it’s just that people were never looking for them.”

Kimmig led analysis of the fossils at KU’s Microscopy and Analytical Imaging Laboratory to ensure the fossils were made of organic material. Leibach, the KU undergraduate researcher, conducted much of the lab work.

“We analyzed the material and looked at the composition because sometimes you can get pseudo fossils — minerals that create something that looks like a fossil,” Kimmig said. “We had to make sure that these fossils actually had an organic origin. And what we found is that they contain carbon, which was the big indication they would actually be organic.”

No to Donald Trump in London, England

Front banner on the 10,000s-strong march in London against the state visit of US President Trump

From daily News Line in Britain:

Our NHS is not for sale to the US!’ – Corbyn tells anti-Trump rally

5th June 2019

‘THIS SHOULD not be a debate about how we go forward with a no deal Brexit and at the same time offering up our precious, wonderful National Health Service to private American companies to come in and take it over’, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said addressing the mass rally in Whitehall yesterday to protest against US President Trump’s state visit to the UK.

He was answering the US Ambassador to London who insisted the NHS should be ‘on the table’ in any US/UK future trade deal.

Corbyn declared: ‘We will not stand for that and we will strive with every last breath in our body to defend the principle of a health care system free at the point of need for everyone as a basic human right.’

There were dozens of demonstrations in towns and cities around the country, with organisers estimating 75,000 protesters turning out.

On the war of words between Trump and London Mayor Khan, Corbyn said: ‘I am very disappointed today, on the wonderful festival of Eid, that our Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been attacked in the way that he has. I am proud that our City has a Muslim mayor, that we can chase down Islamophobia, anti-Semitism – any form of racism in our society.’

He concluded to cheers: ‘Together we can make a big difference, together we can change this world, together we can bring about that peace and justice, and by our demonstration here today we showed just how determined we, all of us, to achieve that better place and that better world.’

Meanwhile, Trump gave a joint press conference with the soon-to-be ex-Tory PM May.

May used her speech to launch an attack on Iran: ‘Today we discussed again the importance of our two nations working together to address Iran’s destabilising activity in the region and to ensure Tehran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.

‘Although we differ on the means on achieving that, as I have said before the UK continues to stand by the nuclear deal, it is clear that we both want to reach the same goal.’

Trump said: ‘Today the Prime Minister and I discussed our thriving economic relationship. Both countries are doing very well and participated in a round table with industry and business leaders. I can say, probably the biggest business leaders anywhere in the world.’

Asked by a journalist: ‘As you hold talks with the current Prime Minister, the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition has been addressing a protest rally against your visit in Trafalgar Square. He says that he is disappointed that you attacked the London Mayor, and criticised your record on refugees. What have you to say to him? And is this someone you could do a trade deal with?’

Trump answered: ‘… I don’t know Jeremy Corbyn, never met him, never spoke to him.’

He was then asked: ‘Do you agree with your Ambassador that the entire economy needs to be on the table in a future trade deal including the NHS?’

Trump replied: ‘I think that we are going to have a great trade deal, yes. I think that we are going to have a great and very comprehensive trade deal.

‘Everything with a trade deal is on the table, NHS, and everything else, a lot more than that, everything will be on.’

May refused to rule out a fire sale of the NHS to US health companies, replying: ‘The point about making trade deals, is of course that both sides negotiate and come to an agreement about what should or should not be in that trade deal for the future.’