Washington, USA Smithsonian dinosaur hall re-opened

This 30 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

The new David H. Koch Hall of Fossils at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., will reopen this month after a five-year, $110 million renovation. NBC’s Tom Costello takes a peek inside to show off the bigger and better exhibits.

What a shame that a hall about this interesting scientific subject is called after one of the notorious billionaire Koch brothers. Who promote anti-scientific right-wing causes. Eg, by having a Koch-imposed anti-climate science exhibition at the Smithsonian’s premises.

Scientists to Smithsonian: Cut ties with Koch brothers: here.

The Smithsonian’s new dinosaur hall is a marvel. But its ties to David Koch…: here.

By Carolyn Gramling in the USA, 12:17pm, June 4, 2019:

The Smithsonian’s ‘Deep Time’ exhibit gives dinosaurs new life

Renovated fossil hall showcases ancient animals in their environments

After five years, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is finally reopening its dinosaur hall on June 8. Visitors may come for fan favorites like Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus — and these fossils are gorgeously presented. But the new, permanent exhibition, the “David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time”, has a much grander story to tell about the history of life on Earth, how organisms have interacted with each other for eons and how they’ve interacted with Earth and its climate.

Counterintuitively, the exhibition starts with humans.

Many exhibitions about the evolution of life tend to open with abstract concepts: the chemical formula for life or primordial microbes that lived in shallow seas. But the “Deep Time” designers wanted visitors to immediately feel their own part in the story, says exhibition project manager Siobhan Starrs. So the exhibition starts in the present and moves backward through time.

“The big, big starting point is that life is all connected, through billions of years of time”, she says. Scientists refer to that vastness of time on a geologic scale as deep time, a term suggesting a long, durable thread connecting the past to the present.

That sense of connectedness leads to another central theme: Putting life in context and moving beyond typical predator-prey scenes to give a better sense of the world in which creatures lived. Mixing fossils with other media, such as murals and statues, the exhibition depicts snapshots of life in the past. A woman gathers hickory nuts near a giant mastodon, while a saber-toothed tiger lurks nearby. A giant sloth with sheathed claws stretches up to snatch fruit from an orange tree. An Allosaurus curls its tail around a clutch of eggs.

Not all of the scenes are so peaceful: A T. rex chomping on a Triceratops, placing one foot firmly on the prey’s back to hold it in place, is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. But even that scene, Starrs notes, is meant to convey a more subtle story. Nearby, a shallow pond contains turtles, clams and mussels. “Even the T. rex had a context; it didn’t live in isolation.”

Deeper in time, visitors come to the story of plant evolution and the great swamp forests of the Carboniferous Period, about 359 million to 299 million years ago. One stunning section simulates discoveries made within a coal mine, with fossils of giant trees embedded in the ceiling and walls.

Using deep time as a framing concept “allows us to tell a story about changing ecosystems and changing environments through time, and how they interact with one another,” says Scott Wing, the museum’s curator of paleobotany. Compared with previous ways of presenting the history of life, he says, “it’s a profound shift in how we think about ourselves, and how we think about the natural world around us.”

The new exhibition is a big step forward from the previous fossil hall in other ways. For example, “Deep Time” includes a tribute of sorts to its predecessor, with a vertically mounted fossil of a Stegosaurus that had been embedded for decades in the museum’s floor. Scientists excavated the Stegosaurus and disassembled other long-displayed fossils and were once again able to examine the bones closely.

That led to some surprises, says dinosaur curator Matthew Carrano. Two different species of Camptosaurus once on display turned out to be the same species, he says. A Triceratops skeleton turned out to be a “Frankenfossil”, a mix of bits that weren’t all from Triceratops.

The exhibition’s final area returns to the present and looks toward the future, exploring interactions between Earth’s changing climate and the planet’s life-forms, as well as how human actions might further alter climate. That casting forward is another thing that sets the new exhibition apart, Starrs says. The hope is that after experiencing the fossil hall, “the visitor is now thinking on a deep time scale”, she says: Not just how humans might currently be altering Earth’s climate but also what legacy people will leave behind thousands or even millions of years into the future.

“David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time”

Opens June 8

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History | Washington, D.C.

Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations, fifteen nominees!

Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I wanted to try to do something about that.

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty. So, I made the award with this logo then.

It is good to see that this award, which later came back to me, since then has gone to many places of the blogosphere. And that some people have made new logos for it; like the one at the top of this blog post.

The rules of this award are:

  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog.
  • Nominate any number of people linking to their blogs and let them know you nominated them by commenting on their blogs.
  • Come up with 7 questions for the people you nominated.

My seven questions for my nominees are:

1. Who is your favourite visual artist?

2. Which is your favourite bird species?

3. Which is your favourite mammal species?

4. What is your favourite insect?

5. What is your favourite plant?

6. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

7. If you would be invited to make a space journey, then to which solar system planet would you like to go?

My nominees are:

1. Pyro Casanova

2. Ospreyshire’s Realm

3. Silent Songs of Sonsnow

4. Meet My Feet Travel

5. The Curious Hunter..

6. Intellectual Shaman

7. Mws R Writings

8. Nova’s Namastè 365 Online

9. Supernatural Writing

10. Gabriele ROMANO

11. Otter

12. Global Gists

13. Everything about underwater and sky

14. Bees in amber

15. Jie.K’s Blog

YouTube restores censored historical videos after protests

This video is about the liberation of Alkmaar city in the Netherlands by the Canadian army from the German nazi occupiers in May 1945.

Yesterday, YouTube censored it, along with the whole YouTube channel of the Alkmaar regional archive, supposedly for ‘hatemongering’.

This YouTube censorship caused lots of protests; according to the archive, many of the protests came from the USA.

Today, Dutch NOS TV reports (translated):

The YouTube channel of the Alkmaar Regional Archive is back online, including images from the Second World War. The video platform had previously taken the channel offline due to alleged hate speech.

Marc Alphenaar of the archive discovered this morning that the channel was available again. “I didn’t get a message from YouTube about it, but I had messages on my phone from people who saw that it was there again. This is a nice way to wake up”, he said to regional broadcasters NH Nieuws.

It would have been strange if the ‘hatemongers’ of this historical archive would have been banned permanently, while the real hatemongers of the YouTube channel of the Dutch neonazi party Nederlandse Volks-Unie are still on the Internet. YouTube is an affiliate of Google corporation.

British teachers trying to educate about fascism hit by [Youtube] service’s new policy on hate speech: here.

Support Sudanese anti-dictatorship fighters

This 29 May 2019 video says about itself:

Sudan strike: Pregnant woman killed at protest

On the second day of the strike in Sudan, protest leaders say they have the upper hand and are threatening more strikes if the Military Transitional Council doesn’t return to negotiating table. So far, the council hasn’t reacted to the protesters’ demands, accusing the protest movement of being infiltrated by what are described as ‘anti-Sudanese’ elements.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports from Khartoum.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Sudanese Military Attacking General Strike! UK Unions And Labour Must Aid Sudanese Workers

10th June 2019

THE SUDANESE military regime has once again shown its contempt for any real peace talks in the country, and its confidence that since it has the support of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the key allies of the western imperialist powers in the region, it can do anything it wants, and literally get away with mass murder.

No sooner had the Ethiopian Prime Minister left the country in a situation where the African Union had already suspended the Sudan, the military moved to attack the workers, and savagely beat and arrest Sudanese bank, airport and electricity workers early on Sunday morning, just ahead of the launching of a general strike that the trade unions had called.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) confirmed yesterday that workers were under heavy attack from the military regime of the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC). Pro-democracy campaigners had already said, before the Ahmed talks, that the military council could not be trusted, citing last Monday’s mass murder of up to 100 workers who were taking part in a sit-in strike in Khartoum.

However, offices and businesses, and workplaces across the the capital have now been occupied. There are also reports of gunfire as security forces seek to impose a reign of terror across the city. The protest leaders are now urging workers to stay at home and not to work and are saying that demonstrations are no longer possible because of the violent crackdown and savagery of the military.

However, the workers’ leaders are still insisting that the strike and occupation movement will only end when a civilian government replaces the military regime.

Meanwhile, the opposition politician Mohamed Esmat was detained on Friday as soon as his meeting with Ethiopia’s PM Ahmed concluded, his aides said. Ismail Jalab, a leader of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) group, and his spokesman Mubarak Ardol were also arrested early on Saturday.

This was the immediate response of the military regime to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s attempt to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table.

On Wednesday, the SPLM-N said its deputy head, Yasir Arman, had already been arrested at his house in Khartoum. Esmat and Jalab are both leading members of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, an umbrella organisation of opposition figures, protest leaders and rebel groups. ‘This amounts to a practical response from the military council that effectively rejects the Ethiopian prime minister’s mediation effort’, Khalid Omar Yousef, an opposition alliance leader correctly said.

The TMC military are being emboldened because the US and UK’s allies in the region, that is Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt are demanding that the uprising be crushed and egging the Sudanese military on to commit bigger outrages to defeat the revolution in the Sudan, before it spreads to Libya, Egypt, the Arabian peninsula and the Gulf States.

The Gulf States are pouring billions of dollars into supplies for the Sudanese military so that it can confront the revolution. Opposition activists say the feared paramilitary unit, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), killed 108 people in the crackdown, with at least 40 bodies pulled from the River Nile in Khartoum last Tuesday. The RSF, formerly known as the Janjaweed militia, gained notoriety for brutal atrocities in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan in 2003.

A number of women arrested by the RSF said they were repeatedly beaten with sticks and threatened with execution. They said RSF troops told them to run for their lives, then opened fire. Other victims, they said, were forced to drink sewage water and were urinated on.

On Thursday, the African Union suspended Sudan’s membership ‘with immediate effect’ and warned of further action if power was not transferred to a civilian authority. The Sudanese workers and youth are showing immense courage with their determination to defeat the Sudanese military and to have a civilian government that can only rule as a workers’ government.

The powerful trade unions of the UK, the EU and the US cannot allow the Sudanese workers to fight alone against these massive odds and must give them full support. They must organise political strike actions to force the US and UK governments to stop arming Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States

The trade unions must also demand that the UK Labour Party must pledge that it will stop selling arms to the Saudis and the Gulf states when it becomes the government and that it must recognise immediately the leadership of the Sudanese trade unions as the government of the Sudan. This is the way forward to win the workers’ struggle in the Sudan and to put an end to the reactionary feudal regimes in the Gulf.

This 9 June 2019 video says about itself:

Sudanese shops closed in Sudan’s Omdurman as strike begins | AFP

Shops are shuttered in the usually busy Sudanese area of Omdurman as protesters started a general strike nearly one week after security forces launched a crackdown on a long-running sit-in site.

By Niles Niemuth:

General strike against military regime brings Sudan to a standstill

10 June 2019

An indefinite nationwide general strike brought cities across Sudan to a virtual standstill Sunday, nearly one week after security forces launched a counterrevolutionary bloodbath with an assault on a mass sit-in outside the defense ministry headquarters in Khartoum. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors estimates that 118 protestors have been killed, including four on Sunday, and a further 784 wounded since the crackdown began last Monday.

Tens of thousands of Sudanese have been regularly gathering for months outside the defense ministry and protesting across the country as part of the popular movement that began in December 2018 demanding the end of military rule and the transfer of power to a democratically elected government.

The Transitional Military Council (TMC) seized power in a coup on April 11, ousting President Omar al-Bashir after months of mass protests in an effort to preempt a revolutionary overthrow of the entire military regime, which has been in power for three decades.

Headed by the deputy of the TMC, Lieutenant General Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, who aspires to take al-Bashir’s place as dictator, Rapid Support Force (RSF) paramilitary soldiers used live fire and stun grenades to disperse the sit-in on June 3.

Dozens of protestors were forced off or thrown from the Blue Nile bridge by the RSF, some reportedly with concrete blocks tied to their bodies to ensure that they drowned and their bodies were not found. The RSF, formed out of the notorious Janjaweed militia, deployed the same brutal tactics in the heart of Khartoum utilized to suppress rebellions in Darfur and the country’s east.

The rampage came in the wake of Dagalo’s visit with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and trips by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the TMC and Sudan’s de facto ruler, to Abu Dhabi and Cairo, where he received pointers on drowning a revolution in blood from Egyptian dictator General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

While the Trump administration has raised concerns about the instability caused by the military crackdown, with its support, the main allies of American imperialism in the Middle East have been and continue to be key financial and political backers of the military dictatorship in Sudan. In turn, the RSF has sent thousands of its members

including child soldiers

to fight in the Saudi-led assault on Yemen. The Saudi monarchy and Emirati sheiks have pledged $3 billion to prop up the TMC.

Outraged by the brutal RSF assault, millions across the country heeded the call of the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) trade union for a movement of “civil disobedience” and “open political strike” against the ruling Transitional Military Council.

Photos and video posted on social media showed empty streets and shuttered markets in a number of state capitals across the country, from Damazin in Blue Nile to El Obeid in North Kurdufan, Wad Madani in Al Jazirah and Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Metro Khartoum, an urban region with more than 5 million residents, was brought to a near standstill, with public transportation shut down and most stores, banks and offices closed.

A 20-year old protestor was shot and killed in Omdurman as security forces used tear gas and live fire to disperse demonstrations. Protestors erected barricades of bricks and tires in Khartoum North to blockade major roads and bridges. Travelers filled up the departure terminal up at Khartoum International Airport as most flights were cancelled.

Barricades erected in Khartoum North (Credit Twitter: @ThomasVLinge)

“We blocked the streets to send a message to those trying to steal our revolution that they will fail,” Emad Ibrahim, 25, a protester from Khartoum North told the AFP. “It is a long road ahead for us, but after the sacrifice made by our brothers who have been killed, we believe that we will achieve our goal.”

The military sought to break the strike movement by blocking social media, cutting off mobile access to the internet and arresting “essential employees”, including bank executives and airport and electrical utility workers and forcing them to work at gunpoint.

Despite this effort at intimidation, workers and professionals expressed their determination to continue striking until the junta is gone. “We will not go back to work until the [SPA union] announces the end of the strike”, Ahmad al-Noor, a 46-year-old private food company employee told Reuters. “Sudan must be governed by a civilian government.”

“The roadblocks prevented me from reaching the market to buy vegetables,” vegetable vendor Hassan Abdelrahim told the AFP. “This will impact my income, but when I look at these youngsters who are on the streets since six months, I’m not angry even if I lose my income.”

A statement released by the SPA declared that the civil disobedience campaign would continue until “a civilian government announces itself in power on state television.” The SPA is part of the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change (FDFC) civilian popular opposition alliance, which has been engaged in talks with the TMC over a transfer of power.

The talks broke down last month over the question of whether a military or civilian figure would head a joint regime during a three-year transition period to prepare for new presidential elections.

An effort by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to revive talks between the TMC and the FDFC coalition was spurned by the military over the weekend, with the arrests of Mohamed Esmat, director of the Khartoum branch of the Central Bank of Sudan, and Ismail Jalab, secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. Esmat and Jalab, leading representatives of the FDFC, were detained shortly after meeting with Ahmed. …

With the first day of the general strike, the working class has shown its collective strength. What is required now is the establishment of independent and democratic organs of working class struggle to mobilize the working masses in Sudan to take power, establish a workers’ government and seize the country’s immense wealth as part of an international struggle for socialism.

British Conservative politicians on drugs

This 8 June 2019 musical parody video from Britain says about itself:

Gove on Coke (to the tune of “Girls on Film“)

Michael Gove on cocaine.

British teachers march against Gove when he was Education Minister

From daily News Line in Britain:

GOVE ADMITS DRUG LAW-BREAKING! – as do six Tory leadership contenders

10th June 2019

TORY leadership candidate Michael Gove admitted on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday that he had acted illegally in relation to using cocaine.

The former Justice Secretary said that he was ‘fortunate’ that he hadn’t been imprisoned, but still boasted that he is the best candidate for the post of unelected prime minister.

He said: ‘Of course, the decisions we made in the past we should be held accountable for. But for this election, what we are reflecting on is who has the ideas, the vision, the experience in office, to be able to lead in the future, and I’m ready to lead on day one.’

Marr said: ‘You’ve talked about your use of cocaine, do you accept that it was a crime?’

Gove said: ‘Yes, it was a crime.’

‘Should you have gone to prison?’ asked Marr.

Gove said: ‘I was fortunate in that I didn’t.’

‘How many times did you take cocaine?’

He replied: ‘I took it on several occasions, on social occasions more than 20 years ago when I was working as a journalist.’

‘Was it a habit?’

‘No, I don’t believe it was.’

Marr continued: ‘Looking at the dates, you were about 30 at the time, you weren’t a young man, you weren’t a teenager. Did you have any sense then of the damage that this was doing to other kids on the streets of London, many of whom could be in prison right now?’

He replied: ‘I do have a profound sense of regret about it all and I am very, very aware of the damage that drugs do.’

Marr said: ‘The crime that you committed, the maximum sentence for it is seven years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. And again, right now there are people who did what you did who are in prison and there are lots of kids, basically, who supplied cocaine to people like yourself, who have either been stabbed or are dead.’

Marr asked Gove if he has blood on his hands.

He replied: ‘It is a mistake which I profoundly regret, absolutely … Look I’m very conscious of the fact that I was fortunate.’

Marr said: ‘When you became a minister did you tell the government that you had taken Class A drugs?’

Gove replied: ‘No-one asked. I don’t think the question was ever raised.’

‘Not on the vetting form?’

‘I don’t ever remember being asked in any way about it.

‘Including on the ESTA form for travel to the United States? They do ask that question, “have you used Class A drugs?”’

Gove replied: ‘I don’t believe that I’ve on any occasion failed to tell the truth about this when asked directly.’

‘But it would be on the form and you would have to say yes or no and if you’d said yes you could have been banned for life from entering the United States,’ said Marr.

Gove responded: ‘I think it is the case that if I were elected Prime Minister of this country then of course it would be the case that I could go to the United States and I think it’s foolish to suggest otherwise.’

‘Let’s look at another job that you did, as Education Secretary. On your watch, as I understand it, any teacher caught with Class A drugs could be suspended as teacher for life. Is that true?’

Gove replied: ‘We would be talking here about people who were using it in the course of their professional life.’

Referring to a newspaper article that Gove wrote at the time of his admitted use of cocaine 20 years ago, in which he condemned the use of Class A drugs, Marr said: ‘You have been accused on the front pages of the newspapers today of hypocrisy about this and when one reads the article that you wrote at the time, that’s a fair charge is it not?’

Gove replied: ‘No. I think anyone can read the article and make their own minds up.’

Six out of the 11 candidates for the Tory leadership have admitted to the illegal use of drugs.

Big whale sharks’ small food, video

This 5 June 2019 video, recorded in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, says about itself:

This Marine Behemoth’s Favorite Food is Practically Microscopic

The whale shark is one of the largest creatures in the sea – which makes it particularly ironic that its diet is composed almost entirely of one of the smallest: plankton.

London Grenfell fire disaster corporations sued

This 22 May 2018 video from Britain says about itself:

Grenfell Tower insulationnever passed safety tests‘, report finds

“If we don’t make the victims and survivors the very core of what we do then we’ve betrayed the 72 who died” says Professor Chris Imafidon as a report reveals Grenfell Tower insulations never passed safety tests.

From the BBC in Britain today:

Grenfell survivors and relatives open US legal battle

By Victoria Derbyshire & Jim Reed, BBC News

Dozens of Grenfell survivors and relatives are taking legal action in the US against three firms they blame for the fire, the BBC has been told.

The lawsuit will target the cladding maker Arconic, insulation maker Celotex and fridge supplier Whirlpool.

A successful action in the US could cost the firms involved tens of millions of dollars in damages.

Two of the three firms said they would not comment on the case while official investigations into the fire continued.

Philadephia lawsuit

Whirlpool and Arconic have both provided responses to the Victoria Derbyshire programme but Celotex has not yet commented.

The Grenfell fire in June 2017 claimed the lives of 72 people and another 70 were injured.

The first phase of the public inquiry into the disaster heard expert evidence that a small kitchen fire broke out through a uPVC window fitting and ignited material attached to the building.

The new exterior cladding and insulation was installed in 2016 as part of a £10m refit of the tower.

US lawyers representing Grenfell survivors and victims’ relatives are expected to file the lawsuit this week in Philadelphia under product liability law, which is meant to hold firms responsible for injuries caused by the goods they sell.

The state of Pennsylvania was reportedly chosen as the legal jurisdiction for the suit because both Arconic, which supplied the combustible ACM panels, and Celotex, which manufactured the insulation, have their US headquarters there. …

A claim is also being brought against another US corporation, Whirlpool, which made the fridge-freezer in flat 16, which the public inquiry was told was the likely cause of the fire. …

Lawyers believe the disaster could not have taken place in the US because of … a ban on the use of similar cladding on high-rise residential buildings. …

Unlike in the UK, any case would be heard by a jury and could lead to much larger financial awards for both compensation and punitive damages.

The BBC understands lawyers believe it is impossible to estimate the size of any future award but have indicated that, in 2013, a similar lawsuit related to a building collapse that killed seven people, settled for $227m (£178m).

Before any case can reach trial, it is believed to be extremely likely all three companies named in the suit will argue it should not be heard in the US because the fire happened in the UK. …

Trial ‘within two years’

The cladding system installed in the tower in 2016 was made up of multiple elements. The thin, outer aluminium panel was made by US metals giant Arconic. …

Earlier this year, the $15bn (£12bn) sale of Arconic to a US private equity firm broke down. A key issue was said to be the size of any possible financial liabilities linked to the disaster.

In May 2018, a BBC investigation claimed the insulation used, manufactured by Celotex, had not passed required safety tests.

The BBC’s Panorama programme was told that the way Celotex tested and sold the product could amount to corporate manslaughter.

The company, owned by French material giant Saint-Gobain, said at the time it could not identify any evidence to support Panorama’s allegations. …

Under US state law, the legal process is expected to take several years. Lawyers say an initial judgement on whether the case can proceed is likely within six months, with a full trial possible approximately 18 months later in a US courtroom.