Trump’s horrible prisons for immigrating

This 12 June 2019 video from the USA is called Overcrowding, Rotten Food & Nooses: DHS Watchdog Confirms Horrific Conditions at Immigrant Jails.

This 12 June 2019 video from the USA is called Horrific conditions revealed in migrant detention centers.

CAGES ‘WITH KIDS’ POP UP AROUND NYC More than 20 cages were placed around New York Wednesday, each containing a child-size mannequin, with audio playing of migrant children crying. They were intended to highlight the plight of migrants being held in alarming conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border. [HuffPost]

Baberowski whitewashes dictatorships with German taxpayers’ money

This 15 March 2019 video from England says about itself:

Christoph Vandreier, author of Why Are They Back? [about the rise of the far right, including Jörg Baberowski, in Germany] at the 2019 London Book Fair

By the International Youth and Students for Social Equality in Germany:

Dictatorships as alternative orders”: Not on our watch

Berlin’s Humboldt University plans to finance right-wing think tank

12 June 2019

Humboldt University’s Academic Senate (AS) will decide on Tuesday, 18 June whether to finance a right-wing think tank to conduct research on dictatorships. The initiator and driving force behind this project, which has been prepared for the past five years under the title “Dictatorships as alternative orders”, is the right-wing extremist professor and Eastern European historian Jörg Baberowski. The public part of the session begins at 1 p.m. in the Senate hall. Baberowski’s project is due to be rubber-stamped at the end of the session (TOP 26). We call on all students to attend the meeting of the AS and register their opposition to the plan.

Even the AS’s decision to place Baberowski‘s project on the agenda against the expressed wishes of the student body reveals its utterly anti-democratic character. On April 25, the student parliament voted almost unanimously against the project. Only two of the three deputies from the RCDS, the student organisation of the Christian Democrats, voted against the motion. The student parliament not only condemned Baberowski‘s project on dictatorships, but also the attempts by the university administration to suppress student opposition. The full text of the resolution read:

“The student parliament condemns the personal and political attacks on a student member of the AS from university administration, several media outlets, and professors. They legitimately published parts of the document on Twitter that will serve as the basis for the discussion in the public part of the AS on whether a centre for research into comparative dictatorships should be established.

The student parliament opposes the use of Humboldt University funds to create the centre, which is conceived of as a think tank based on the theories of Carl Schmitt, the ‘crown jurist of the Third Reich‘, and aims to advise political decision-makers on options for action. The issue here is not the scholarly examination of dictatorships, but the legitimation of authoritarian forms of rule. The student parliament calls on the members of the Academic Senate to continue to oppose the creation of such a centre in the future.”

Baberowski filed the motion in support of creating the centre with Anna-Bettina Kaiser, a law professor who secured her professorship in 2017 on the topic of constitutional law in states of emergency. Several other professors are involved in the project. They are demanding that HU provide €50,000 in funding for the coming three years, with this sum to be topped up with financial support from third parties.

The project will consider dictatorships as a legitimate and attractive alternative to democracies, and examine them with an “impartial” approach. The motion describes dictatorships as “orders that are not only based on a lack of freedom, violence, and repression”, but also “represent configurations of the politically possible that must be understood.” In modern times, they have always been an alternative “which became attractive under certain conditions.”

The motion goes on: “In some countries, citizens were able to profit mentally or materially from them, because open societies cannot afford under precarious conditions what dictatorships can achieve under other circumstances.”

The centre is explicitly conceived of as a think tank that will pursue the goal of “making offers to politicians that could be used in the day-to-day decision-making process.” In other words, Baberowski, who is notorious for his trivialisation of the Nazis (“Hitler was not vicious”), and his agitation against refugees (“Merkel should shut the borders”), wants to advise political decision-makers on how opposition to the shift to the right, militarism and social inequality can be suppressed.

Baberowski enjoys the German government’s explicit support. In an official statement, which was published on the 70th anniversary of the passage of the Basic Law on the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) gave her backing to the right-wing extremist professor. “In Germany, freedom of scholarship is a guaranteed fundamental right. It goes hand in hand with freedom of opinion,” stated the education minister. “This also includes acknowledging other opinions. Opinions like those of […] Professor Baberowski from Berlin, who was demonized.”

While Baberowski‘s opinions, which include the trivialisation of Hitler, agitation against refugees and political opponents and the drumming up of support for a return to military violence, are deemed by the government to be protected under Germany’s Basic Law, criticisms of these positions are apparently not. “Controversial discussions must in principle take place everywhere, but especially where pro and con positions are at home, in the universities,” wrote Karliczek. “However, a precondition for this is that the discussions and their participants remain on the basis of the free democratic order.”

This recalls nothing so much as George Orwell’s 1984. If anyone is hiding behind phrases about “freedom and democracy” while operating outside of the free democratic order, it is the anti-democratic conspirators at Baberowski’s centre for dictatorships and their backers in the AS and in government.

It is important to understand the historical and political background to these developments. Confronting the deepest capitalist crisis since the 1930s, the preparation of new wars and mounting conflicts between the major powers, the ruling class is returning to its old authoritarian and fascistic traditions to impose its policies of militarism, the strengthening of state repression at home and the armed forces abroad and social spending cuts.

Baberowski and his colleagues repeatedly cite Carl Schmitt, who was already calling for authoritarian forms of rule during the Weimar Republic and backed the Nazis’ consolidation of power following 1933. In honour of this Nazi jurist, Baberowski delivered the Carl Schmitt lecture at the university in late 2016 after being invited to do so by the Carl Schmitt Foundation.­­

Through a number of cooperation agreements, Baberowski’s project is to be expanded both nationally and internationally. His department was recently invited to a “dictatorships in transition” workshop at Princeton University, which made available $300,000 for a joint project.

Baberowski’s initial attempt to have the AS quietly pass the motion on January 15 failed.

Prior to the vote, the project met with strong opposition in the review process, when it was attacked by two out of the four academics and by the students. Prior to the AS meeting, a student representative posted extracts from the motion on Twitter along with critical comments. The IYSSE posted a statement titled “‘Dictatorships as alternative orders’: Not on our watch” on its homepage. The TAZ newspaper also took up the issue and published a critical article.

This triggered a storm of outrage, led by Baberowski himself. He denounced his students as criminals and left-wing extremists on Facebook and insulted the TAZ journalist in the style of the far-right Alternative for Germany as a “denunciator.” Several right-wing media outlets that previously backed Baberowski, including Cicero, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt rushed to his defence.

HU President Sabine Kunst, a Social Democrat who had previously taken legal action against the student council at the initiative of the AfD, resorted to authoritarian measures to suppress the opposition among students to Baberowski’s right-wing think tank and the manoeuvres of the HU administration.

At the next AS sitting, she introduced a motion to change the order of business and restrict in principle access to the documents of the session. Although this motion was not immediately passed by the Senate, it pursues a definite goal: the university’s decisions on which dubious, right-wing think tanks to fund should remain private affairs. Any criticism from students or the media is to be blocked from the outset and its authors intimidated.

The university administration’s dictatorial actions, supported by their allies in the AS, underscores the extent of the shift to the right within ruling circles. To prevent the return of dictatorship and fascism, students require above all a political perspective directed against the roots of these evils: the capitalist profit system. The IYSSE therefore calls on students and young people to give voice to their protests against the creation of the centre on dictatorships at the session of the AS. We cannot allow HU to be transformed into a state-directed cadre training camp for right-wing extremist and militarist ideologies, as was the case in previous German history.

The attempt of far-right professor and Eastern European historian Jörg Baberowski to set up a right-wing think tank on “Dictatorship Research” at Berlin’s Humboldt University has failed. The reversal is the result of massive opposition expressed by students and the campaign of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), which in recent months has revealed the true nature of the project and mobilized opposition to it: here.

Following the abject failure in June of right-wing extremist professor Jörg Baberowski’s attempt to establish a reactionary center for the research into dictatorships at Berlin’s Humboldt University, it was only a matter of time before his house organ, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (F.A.Z.), published an angry opinion piece on the subject: here.

Bernhard Kempen is using his position as president of the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers to defend the right-wing extremist historian Jörg Baberowski: here.

How beewolves preserve food

This August 2018 video says about itself:

This is the European Beewolf (Philanthus triangulum triangulum) a large solitary species of wasp while feeding on pollen & nectar as adults. The grubs require an insect-based diet. Constructing tunnels up to 1m deep. These tunnels have at least 3 and up to 34 side tunnels with a brood cell at the end. These contain between 1-5 paralysed bees collected by the female and in here she will lay an egg per chamber and after hatching the grubs will feed on the living bees.

From the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany:

Beewolves use a gas to preserve food

European beewolf eggs produce nitric oxide which prevents the larvae’s food from getting moldy

June 11, 2019

Summary: Scientists have discovered that the eggs of the European beewolf produce nitric oxide. The gas prevents the larvae’s food from getting moldy in the warm and humid brood cells.

Food stored in warm and humid conditions gets moldy very quickly und thus becomes inedible or even toxic. To prevent this, we use refrigerators and freezers as well as various other methods of preservation. Animals do not have such technical appliances and therefore need to find other ways to preserve food. The European beewolf Philanthus triangulum, a solitary wasp species whose females hunt honey bees, has evolved a successful method of food preservation. A female takes up to five honey bees into its brood cells where they serve as food for a young beewolf. Female beewolves prefer to build their nests in sunlit and sandy places. The nests are deep and therefore the brood cells are warm and humid. Such conditions are favorable for the development of the beewolf larvae; however, they also foster the growth of mold fungi. As a matter of fact, bees stored under such conditions in the lab were overgrown by mold within one to three days. Surprisingly, the mold risk for bees was much lower in the nests of beewolves, so that most beewolf larvae were able to finish their eight to ten-day development until they spin a cocoon.

Researchers from the University of Regensburg and the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz (previously at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena) have discovered an amazing mechanism that the beewolves have evolved in order to make sure that their larvae’s food does not get moldy. “Shortly after oviposition, the brood cells of beewolves smell strikingly like ‘swimming pool’. This smell comes from the egg itself,” explains Prof. Dr. Erhard Strohm, the leader and main author of the study. Bioassays showed that beewolf eggs emit a gas that efficiently kills mold fungi. A chemical analysis revealed the surprising result that the gas is nitric oxide (NO). The eggs produce nitric oxide in large quantities and release it to the air where is reacts with atmospheric oxygen to nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The measured NO2 concentrations in the brood cells exceed both the occupational exposure limits of NO and NO2 as well as the EU maximum permissible values in cities.

Both NO and NO2 are very reactive and have a strong oxidizing effect. Therefore it is not surprising that high concentrations of the gases kill mold fungi. But how can beewolf eggs synthesize such amounts of NO? The scientists hypothesize that the fact that NO plays an extremely important role in many biochemical processes in almost all organisms from bacteria to mammals is a crucial precondition for the evolution of these mechanisms. In low doses and due to its high diffusion and reactivity, NO functions as a signal molecule and is, for example, involved in the adjustment of blood pressure and in developmental processes. Higher concentrations are used by many animals as an immune response to kill pathogens. Although beewolf eggs produce enormous amounts of NO, they use the same enzymes, NO synthases, which are also used by other organisms. Also, the responsible NO synthase gene in beewolves does not have any special characteristics. However, the researchers found a modification in the translation of the gene into the protein, which may be responsible for the unusually high synthesis rate of NO in beewolf eggs. “Due to so-called alternative splicing the enzyme in the beewolf eggs lacks a segment which may be responsible for regulation. This may have led to the significant increase in enzyme activity,” says Dr. Tobias Engl, the second main author of the publication.

The use of a reactive gas to control mold on food supplies has improved survival of beewolf offspring considerably and represents an evolutionary key invention. This novel defense mechanism against microorganisms is a fascinating example of how existing processes are modified in the course of evolution in such a way that completely new functions are generated. The discovery of NO as a key defense component against mold fungi increases the spectrum of natural antimicrobial strategies and adds a surprising and intriguing facet to our understanding of this biologically important molecule

The most amazing aspect of the defense strategy of beewolf eggs is the fact that the eggs are obviously able to survive the extremely toxic conditions they produce themselves. Which mechanism the eggs deploy is the subject of current investigations. The results may not only be interesting for basic research, but also for possible applications in human medicine. A harmful overproduction of NO may also be the result of certain diseases or acute infections. The mechanisms that beewolf eggs use to protect themselves from NO may help to find new therapeutic approaches.