Big flightless Pleistocene bird discovery in Crimea

This 27 June 2019 video says about itself:

CNN: Inside a Crimean cave was a gigantic ancient mystery just waiting to be uncovered: a bird so large that it weighed nearly as much as an adult polar bear.

Giant birds once roamed Madagascar, New Zealand and Australia. The latest fossil find, an intriguing fossilized femur, was recently found in Taurida Cave on the northern coast of the Black Sea. It was discovered along with other fossils, including bison bones, that helped researchers date the now-extinct giant bird to between 1.5 million and 2 million years ago.

When the first early human ancestors arrived in Europe, they might have encountered these birds. The researchers think the bird probably reached the Black Sea region by crossing Turkey and the Southern Caucasus.

From, 26 June 2019, by George Dvorsky:

Ancient Bird Weighed Nearly 1,000 Pounds but Could Still Haul Ass Like an Ostrich

Paleontologists working in Crimea have uncovered evidence of the largest bird ever found in Europe. Standing taller than an elephant and weighing nearly 1,000 pounds, this enormous bird could still run at a fast pace when threatened.

Big birds have been discovered in Eurasia before, but nothing quite on this scale. In fact, the only birds that really compare are the extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the extinct moas of New Zealand. The research paper associated with the discovery—published today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology—claims it’s the biggest bird ever found in the northern hemisphere.

Assigned the name Pachystruthio dmanisensis, this animal’s nearly complete femur was found within the Taurida cave network of Crimea. This lone bone, dated to around 1.8 million years ago, was found alongside other animal remains, including a mammoth, bison, and some large carnivores.

Intriguingly, this time period coincided with the introduction of early humans to the region. A similar collection of fossils was previously uncovered at a nearby site in Dmanisi, Georgia, which happens to be the oldest hominin site outside of Africa. Consequently, these large birds “might have been a source of meat, bones, feathers, and eggshell for early hominin populations,” wrote the authors in the new study, which was led by Nikita Zelenkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences.

That early humans may have hunted these birds is a distinct possibility. Recent evidence suggests humans hunted elephant birds in Madagascar around 6,000 years ago.

“When I first felt the weight of the bird whose thigh bone I was holding in my hand, I thought it must be a Malagasy elephant bird fossil because no birds of this size have ever been reported from Europe. However, the structure of the bone unexpectedly told a different story,” said Zelenkov in a press release. “We don’t have enough data yet to say whether it was most closely related to ostriches or to other birds, but we estimate it weighed about 450 kg (992 pounds). This formidable weight is nearly double the largest moa, three times the largest living bird, the common ostrich, and nearly as much as an adult polar bear.”

Zelenkov’s team used a well-established formula, which took various measurements of P. dmanisensis’s femur, to estimate body mass. Further analysis pointed to a flightless bird that stood 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) tall.

Due to the femur’s long and slim shape—which bore a striking resemblance to the modern ostrich—it’s likely this creature was able to move fast. “Pachystruthio dmanisensis was a good runner, which may be explained by its coexistence with large carnivoran mammals,” the authors wrote in the study. And by large carnivores, the researchers weren’t kidding; the femur was found alongside the remains of giant cheetahs, giant hyenas, and saber-tooth cats.

As to why this creature evolved such a big size, the researchers said it likely had something to do with the arid environment in which it lived. Its large mass and efficient metabolism meant it could make better use of the low-nutrition foods found in the open steppes.

Christopher Torres, a graduate student of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin, said this report is “super exciting” for a lot of reasons.

“It expands known occurrences of gigantic birds into a new hemisphere,” he told Gizmodo. “It highlights a third case of gigantism among a rather closely related group of birds that also includes elephant birds and moa. Conventional thought was that birds could afford to lose flight and get really large only if there were no terrestrial mammals to compete with or hide from. This new report of giant birds coexisting with large mammals is forcing us to rethink those assumptions,” said Torres, who wasn’t affiliated with the new research.

To which he added: “This report raises some fascinating evolutionary and ecological questions that I cannot wait to see answered.”

Some extinct crocodiles were vegetarian

This 2016 video is about extinct crocodiles.

From the University of Utah in the USA:

Some extinct crocs were vegetarians

Comparisons of the teeth of extinct crocodyliformes to modern day animals allow new insights into diet

June 27, 2019

Based on careful study of fossilized teeth, scientists Keegan Melstom and Randall Irmis at the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah have found that multiple ancient groups of crocodyliforms — the group including living and extinct relatives of crocodiles and alligators — were not the carnivores we know today, as reported in the journal Current Biology on June 27. In fact, the evidence suggests that a veggie diet arose in the distant cousins of modern crocodylians at least three times.

“The most interesting thing we discovered was how frequently it seems extinct crocodyliforms ate plants,” said Keegan Melstrom, a doctoral student at the University of Utah. “Our study indicates that complexly-shaped teeth, which we infer to indicate herbivory, appear in the extinct relatives of crocodiles at least three times and maybe as many as six.”

All living crocodylians possess a similar general body shape and ecology to match their lifestyle as semiaquatic generalist carnivores, which includes relatively simple, conical teeth. It was clear from the start of the study that extinct species showed a different pattern, including species with many specializations not seen today. One such specialization is a feature known as heterodonty: regionalized differences in tooth size or shape.

“Carnivores possess simple teeth whereas herbivores have much more complex teeth,” Melstrom explained. “Omnivores, organisms that eat both plant and animal material, fall somewhere in between. Part of my earlier research showed that this pattern holds in living reptiles that have teeth, such as crocodylians and lizards. So these results told us that the basic pattern between diet and teeth is found in both mammals and reptiles, despite very different tooth shapes, and is applicable to extinct reptiles.”

To infer what those extinct crocodyliforms most likely ate, Melstrom and his graduate advisor, chief curator Randall Irmis, compared the tooth complexity of extinct crocodyliforms to those of living animals using a method originally developed for use in living mammals. Overall, they measured 146 teeth from 16 different species of extinct crocodyliforms.

Using a combination of quantitative dental measurements and other morphological features, the researchers reconstructed the diets of those extinct crocodyliforms. The results show that those animals had a wider range of dental complexities and presumed dietary ecologies than had been appreciated previously.

Plant-eating crocodyliforms appeared early in the evolutionary history of the group, the researchers conclude, shortly after the end-Triassic mass extinction, and persisted until the end-Cretaceous mass extinction that killed off all dinosaurs except birds. Their analysis suggests that herbivory arose independently a minimum of three times, and possibly six times, in Mesozoic crocodyliforms.

“Our work demonstrates that extinct crocodyliforms had an incredibly varied diet,” Melstrom said. “Some were similar to living crocodylians and were primarily carnivorous, others were omnivores and still others likely specialized in plants. The herbivores lived on different continents at different times, some alongside mammals and mammal relatives, and others did not. This suggests that an herbivorous crocodyliform was successful in a variety of environments!”

Melstrom says they are continuing to reconstruct the diets of extinct crocodyliforms, including in fossilized species that are missing teeth. He also wants to understand why the extinct relatives of crocodiles diversified so radically after one mass extinction but not another, and whether dietary ecology could have played a role.

This research was supported by the US National Science Foundation, the Welles Fund from the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the University of Utah Department of Geology & Geophysics Chapman Fund.

German neo-nazi terror network and Lübcke murder

This 28 June 2019 video says about itself:

Two more suspects were arrested in a case linked to the murder of German politician Walter Luebcke on Thursday.

Elmar J. and Markus [M.], aged 64 and 43 respectively, were detained on suspicion of being accessories to murder. … Investigators believe the two suspects knew of Ernst’s ties to right-wing extremism.

Luebcke was found dead on the terrace of his family home in Wolfhagen near Kassel on June 2.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

Lübcke’s murderer was part of vast underground German neo-Nazi terrorist network

28 June 2019

Stephan Ernst, the assassin of CDU politician Walter Lübcke, acted as part of a neo-Nazi network with close ties to the right-wing terrorist National Socialist Underground. Despite efforts in the aftermath of the assassination to promote a lone gunman explanation, information that links Ernst to a vast right-wing terrorist network is emerging.

After Ernst admitted his guilt on Tuesday, the police carried out raids on Wednesday night and early Thursday, and arrested two additional suspects. They allegedly secured and sold weapons to Ernst. The assassin also allegedly sold weapons to two other as yet unidentified men, who are the subjects of ongoing investigations, according to the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office.

According to media reports, Ernst admitted that he hoarded weapons, which, in addition to the murder weapon, included a pump-action shotgun, an Uzi submachine gun, and ammunition. He explained how he obtained the weapons and where they were concealed. Investigators found the vast majority of the weapons in an underground depot on the grounds of his employer. There were five weapons in total. According to Ernst, he purchased part of the arsenal in 2014, and bought the murder weapon in 2016.

One of Ernst’s alleged arrested accomplices is the Kassel-based neo-Nazi Markus H. According to ARD [TV]’s political magazine Panorama, H. was questioned as a witness in 2006 following the ninth racist murder committed by the NSU in an internet cafe in the Nord Holland area of the city, which claimed the life of Halit Yozgat. Like Ernst, H. was a member of the violent neo-Nazi milieu in Kassel at the time of the murder, and allegedly also knew the victim.

According to Panorama, Ernst and H. were members of the Free Resistance Kassel (FWK) group for several years, during which time they discussed how to procure weapons and explosives. The political magazine reported that Ernst allegedly remained part of the FWK until 2011, and remained in contact with members of the neo-Nazi scene until recently. Asked if Ernst had broken with the neo-Nazi milieu over recent years, the Kassel neo-Nazi Mike Zavallich told Panorama that people don’t leave so quickly, they take a step back, but still have the same outlook as they always did.

Zavallich, who declared his solidarity with Ernst shortly after his arrest and described him as a “good comrade” on Facebook, was among the closest associates of the NSU. According to a report from Die Welt, Zavallich immediately came to the attention of the Federal Criminal Police after the NSU was exposed in November 2011. At the time, investigators had presented a list of 129 people associated with the NSU. Four people from Kassel are among those mentioned on the so-called “129 list”. One of them was Mike Zavallich.” He was aware of the existence of the Thuringia Home Guard, an organisation that served as a precursor to the NSU.

Further associates of Ernst with close connections to the NSU are Stanley R. and Bernd T., leading members of the right-wing extremist terrorist organisation Combat 18. There is much to suggest that Ernst had direct contact through these sources to the NSU members Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos, and Beate Zschäpe. In an article in the Hessisch-Niedersächsisch Allgemeine newspaper, the landlady at Ernst’s regular pub, “Stadt Stockholm in Kassel”, stated that in April 2006, around the time of Yozgat’s murder, Bernd T. turned up at the pub with Zschäpe.

According to the Bild newspaper, there was at least one other occasion when Ernst could have had direct contact with the NSU: at the celebrations for the 30th birthday of Stanley R. in the clubhouse of the “Bandidos”

motorcycle gang

club. The guests included Böhnhardt, Mundlos, and probably Beate Zschäpe. The meeting occurred just a few days before Yozgat’s murder on April 6. But a video clip has mysteriously disappeared from the investigation files, prompting Bild to ask the question, “Was Stephan Ernst shown in it?”

The state and security services, which have close ties to the right-wing extremist terrorist networks, are doing everything they can to block a full investigation of the murder. The archives of the Hesse state intelligence service on the NSU will remain sealed until 2044. This was revealed by Hesse’s Interior Minister, Peter Boyth (CDU), during an emergency sitting of the state parliament on Wednesday. The file on Ernst also remains under lock and key.

Already in the five-year trial against the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi terrorist group responsible for 10 murders, two bomb blasts, and a series of bank robberies, the federal public prosecutor did everything possible to avoid examining the role of the security agencies. This approach is now being continued. In his press statement on Thursday, the office’s spokesman, Markus Schmidt, claimed that there was “no evidence to suggest that the three detainees were members of a right-wing terrorist group or had established one.”

Even though the security authorities are doing everything to torpedo the investigation, a clear picture is already emerging based on the facts now known. Ernst was not merely operating as a close associate of the NSU, but the murder of Lübcke could be a continuation of the NSU’s murder series, which claimed the lives of nine immigrants and a police officer between 2000 and 2007.

There is strong evidence that Lübcke was shot due to his pro-refugee stance. In 2015, he opposed right-wingers at a public meeting on the question of providing accommodation for refugees, for which he was responsible as district president. This triggered an online hate campaign that included death threats, which was revived at the beginning of this year, including by the CDU

formerly CDU, now an AfD supporter

politician and former president of the right-wing Federation of Expellees, Erica Steinbach.

Ms Steinbach was born in World War II as the daughter of a nazi army occupation officer in a part of occupied Poland which the Third Reich called Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreusen. When Hitler lost World War II, Steinbach’s family returned to Germany.

Many people don’t see Ms Steinbach as a bona fide refugee. The leaders of her Federation of Expellees (German: BHE) are called mockingly Berufsflüchtlinge (professional refugees) in Germany, as governments paid much taxpayers’ money to them. The BHE made anti-Polish and anti-Czech revanchist propaganda, saying the eastern border of Germany along the Oder and Neisse rivers should move further east.

As Ms Steinbach sees herself as a refugee, one might in theory expect her to support welcoming refugees from NATO countries’ wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc. However, Ms Steinbach is virulently against letting those refugees into Germany. Which caused her to break from the CDU.

According to the Federal Public Prosecutor, Ernst declared in his testimony to the police that his murder of Lübcke was a response to Lübcke’s statements about refugees. He was also allegedly present at the public meeting four years ago.

However, additional motives cannot be excluded. According to a Tagesspiegel report, Lübcke was on the NSU’s radar. The terrorist group included his name in a list of 10,000 names and objects. The Tagesspiegel learned from security sources that Lübcke was listed “in the latter part of the list around the 8,000s.” The newspaper remarked how astonishing it was that his name was on the list at such an early stage. Lübcke only became a target of right-wing extremists in 2015, four years after the end of the NSU’s murder series.

Lübcke perhaps knew too much, or had become an obstacle to the right-wing extremist cliques, which reach into the Kassel district presidium itself. One of the workers under Lübcke was Andreas Temme, an agent of the Hesse Verfassungsschutz (Ministry for the Defense of the Constitution), who was nicknamed “Little Adolf”. He was also at the cafe when Yozgat was murdered. However, Temme claimed not to have witnessed anything, a claim which numerous experts consider to be highly improbable.

Due to several interventions by the security agencies and political figures, Temme’s role is yet to be fully explained. Although Temme testified at the NSU trial held in Munich and to the parliamentary investigatory commissions, former Hesse Interior Minister and current Minister President Volker Bouffier, a personal friend of Lübcke, refused to give Temme unrestricted authorization to testify.

Lübcke’s alleged murderer, Stephan Ernst, was at least indirectly connected to Temme. He knew the neo-Nazi and intelligence agency informant Benjamin Gärtner, codename Vegetable, who spoke to Temme by telephone shortly prior to Yozgat’s murder. During testimony to the NSU investigatory commission in the Hesse state parliament in February 2016, Gärtner confirmed that he knew Ernst as “NPD Stephan.”

Gärtner confirmed a few days ago to a reporter from Spiegel TV that he knew Ernst. But he could not say anything further. He said that he was “given a muzzle at the time” and doesn’t know “what will happen to me if I let the muzzle fall.” No idea how much longer I’d be sitting here at home.” Spiegel TV asked him who he was afraid of. “The government”. he answered.

German far-right group ‘used police data to compile death list’. Activists linked to military and police suspected of preparing terror attack, reports say: here.

Germany: Following the murder of politician Walter Lübcke—the call for a strong state: here.

More than five weeks have passed since Kassel District President Walter Lübcke (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) was murdered on the terrace of his house with a targeted shot to the head by a neo-Nazi. Since then, every effort has been made to cover up the close involvement of the alleged perpetrator with a far-right terrorist network that reaches deep into the secret services and the state apparatus: here.

German far-right group ‘used police data to compile death list’. Activists linked to military and police suspected of preparing terror attack, reports say: here.

Ice worm discovery in Canada

This 2007 video from Alaska says about itself:

Ice Worms | National Geographic

Ambitious scientists go to extremes on a hunt for elusive creatures in Denali National Park.

From Washington State University in the USA:

Unlocking secrets of the ice worm

June 26, 2019

The ice worm is one of the largest organisms that spends its entire life in ice and Washington State University scientist Scot Hotaling is one of the only people on the planet studying it.

He is the author of a new paper that shows ice worms in the interior of British Columbia have evolved into what may be a genetically distinct species from Alaskan ice worms.

Hotaling and colleagues also identified an ice worm on Vancouver Island that is closely related to a separate population of ice worms located 1,200 miles away in southern Alaska. The researchers believe the genetic intermingling is the result of birds eating the glacier-bound worms (or their eggs) at one location and then dropping them off at another as they migrate up and down the west coast.

“If you are a worm isolated on a mountaintop glacier, the expectation is you aren’t going anywhere,” said Hotaling, a postdoctoral biology researcher. “But low and behold, we found this one ice worm on Vancouver Island that is super closely related to ice worms in southern Alaska. The only reasonable explanation we can think of to explain this is birds.”

Super cool organism

The ice worm resembles the common earthworm but is smaller and darker in color. What sets the ice worm apart from other members of the Mesenchytraeus genus is its ability to live its entire life in glacial ice.

Millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of ice worms can be seen wriggling to the top of glaciers from the Chugach Mountains in southeast Alaska to the Cascade Volcanoes of Washington and Oregon during the summer months. In the fall and winter, ice worms subsist deep beneath the surface of glaciers where temperatures stay around freezing.

Hotaling’s interest in ice worms began back in 2009 while he was working as a mountaineering ranger on the high elevation slopes of Mt. Rainer. He was climbing at three in the morning when he noticed a lot of small, black worms crawling around on the surface of a glacier.

“I wasn’t even a biology undergraduate yet but I remember being so fascinated by the fact that there is this worm that can live in a glacier,” he said. “It is not a place where we think of life being able to flourish and these things can be present at like 200 per sq. meter, so dense you can’t walk without stepping in them.”

Hotaling eventually went back to school and earned a PhD in biology at the University of Kentucky where he studied how climate change is affecting mountain biodiversity.

In the summer of 2017, he finally got the opportunity to circle back and do some research on the ice worm when he arrived in Pullman to start a postdoc position in the laboratory of Associate Professor Joanna Kelley, senior author of the study who specializes in evolutionary genomics and extremophile lifeforms.

“In the Kelley lab, we study organisms that have evolved to live in places that are inhospitable to pretty much everything else,” Hotaling said. “Determining the evolutionary mechanisms that enable something like an ice worm to live in a glacier or bacteria to live in a Yellowstone hot spring is a really exciting way to learn about what is possible at the bounds of evolution. That’s where we are working now, understanding the evolution of ice worms.”

In the study

Hotaling and colleagues extracted and sequenced DNA from 59 ice worms collected from nine glaciers across most of their geographical range. Their analysis revealed a genetic divergence between populations of ice worms that are north and west and south and east of the Coast Mountains of British Columbia.

The researchers predict that this deeper split into two genetically distinct ice worm groups occurred as a result of glacial ice sheets contracting around a few hundred thousand years ago, isolating worms in the Pacific Northwest from their counterparts in Alaska.

The most surprising finding of the study was the discovery of a single ice worm on Vancouver Island that was closely related to a population of ice worms 1,200 miles away in Alaska.

“At first we thought there has to be some kind of error in the analysis or prep methods but upon further investigation we confirmed our initial results,” Hotaling said. “These are worms isolated on mountain tops and there is no explanation for how they covered that gap than on, or perhaps within, migrating birds.”

The research illuminates an important relationship between two of the few large organisms that inhabit North America’s high elevation alpine ecosystems, the ice worm and the Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch, one of North America’s highest elevation nesting birds.

“We knew that ice worms were an important source of food for the birds but we didn’t know until now that the birds are also likely very important for the ice worms,” Hotaling said. “If you are super isolated like an ice worm, you could easily become inbred. But if birds are bringing little bits of new diversity to your mountaintop glacier that could be really good for you.”

Hotaling and Kelley’s study was published this month in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Military coup in Honduras, ten years ago

This 1 October 2016 video says about itself:

It’s well known where Hillary Clinton stood on regime change in Iraq and Libya, but what often gets forgotten is that she threw her support behind the 2009 Honduran coup that ousted democratically-elected Manuel Zelaya.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Ten years since the US-backed coup in Honduras

28 June 2019

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the US-backed coup that overthrow the elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, who was dragged out of the presidential palace in his pajamas by armed troops, bundled onto an airplane and flown out of the country.

This event ushered in a decade of unending repression by a succession of extreme right-wing and deeply corrupt governments. They have ruled the country with a ruthless determination to defend the interests of the national oligarchy—the so-called “ten families” of multi-millionaires and billionaires—and of foreign finance capital.

For the masses of Honduran workers and rural poor, the policies implemented by the right-wing regimes that followed the ouster of Zelaya have proven disastrous. Honduras is today the most unequal country in Latin America, itself the most unequal region in the world. Nearly 70 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty, while over 60 percent lack formal employment. The murder rate, which soared to the highest in the world, still remains nine times that in the United States.

One result has been a mass exodus. The US government has reported detaining 175,000 Hondurans on the US-Mexican border in the last eight months. The country accounts for by far the largest share of migrants and refugees fleeing to the US border—30 percent of the total. This is nearly double the 16 percent share recorded just three years ago.

These masses of workers and their families fleeing their own country because of intolerable conditions created by imperialism and the native ruling class confront the same horrific circumstances that have shocked the population of the US and the world with the recent publication of the photograph of a Salvadoran father and his daughter who drowned together in the Rio Grande.

Just last April, an adult and three children from Honduras drowned in the same river when their raft capsized. On Thursday, Mexican authorities reported that a young Honduran woman traveling north with her family fell from a train and was crushed beneath its wheels.

Now these refugees are confronting the combined repression, detention and abuse from the governments of the United States, Mexico and Guatemala, which have united in the use of naked force in an attempt to prevent them from escaping poverty, state terror and rampant violence.

Democratic Party candidates and congressional leaders have shed crocodile tears over the deaths in the Rio Grande and postured as defenders of immigrants. These sentiments are belied, however, by the fact that … then secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, presided over the coup that devastated Honduras, driving its people in desperation to flee the country despite the threats of death, persecution and being thrown into a US concentration camp.

After Zelaya’s overthrow, kidnapping and expulsion from the country, the Obama administration sought to preserve a veneer of commitment to “democracy” in Latin America—and deniability for its military, intelligence and diplomatic operatives—by publicly deploring the ouster of Zelaya.

Clinton, however, pointedly refused to describe the military’s seizure and deportation of an elected president as a “coup”, a designation that under the US Foreign Assistance Act, would have required the Obama administration to cut off aid and ties to the coup regime.

The administration likewise failed to demand Zelaya’s reinstatement. Given that the US accounted for 70 percent of Honduran export earnings and provided the guns and aid upon which the country’s military depended, it had unquestioned power to force a reversal of the coup.

Its formal reservations notwithstanding, however, it was soon revealed that top US officials had been in discussions with the military commanders and right-wing politicians who organized the coup shortly before Zelaya’s overthrow.

… Zelaya earned Washington’s enmity by becoming swept up by Latin America’s so-called “Pink Tide”. …

For Zelaya, the clear attraction was cheap Venezuelan oil and loans. However, US imperialism, which had sought seven years earlier to overthrow Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a civilian-military coup, was determined to eliminate a government aligned with Venezuela and Cuba in Honduras.

The Central American country has longed served as a staging ground for counterrevolutionary operations in the region, from the 1954 CIA overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala through to the CIA-organized “contra” war against Nicaragua in the 1980s. The civil wars and counter-insurgency campaigns carried out by US imperialism in the region, using Honduras as its base, would claim the lives of hundreds of thousands. It remains the site of the largest US military base in Latin America at Soto Cano.

Much the same US personnel involved in the 2002 coup against Chavez in Venezuela under George W. Bush were involved in the 2009 coup against Zelaya in Honduras … . And the same strategic policy guides the Trump administration’s present regime change operation against the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

Underlying this clear continuity in Washington’s foreign policy, under both Democratic and Republican administrations alike, is the drive by US imperialism to reverse the decline of its global economic hegemony by military means, particularly in the region that it has so long regarded as its “own backyard”.

The Honduran working class responded to the 2009 coup with immense heroism. It staged continuous demonstrations and strikes in the teeth of savage repression. This included the arbitrary detention of thousands, the shooting of protesters, the gang rape of women detained at protests and the organization of death squads to assassinate journalists and opponents of the coup regime.

Washington ignored this savage brutality, and the US corporate media largely passed over it in silence.

Honduras is today confronting its most severe crisis since the coup of ten years ago. For over a month, mass protests and strikes by teachers and doctors against sweeping IMF-dictated cuts and threats of privatization of education and healthcare have rocked the country. Students have joined these mass protests, occupying their schools and confronting riot police and troops.

Today will see mass demonstrations throughout Honduras marking the coup anniversary. These protests will pay homage to the 136 killed during the repression of the protests against the coup, as well as the 14 murdered by death squads and the 13 disappeared. Since then, many more have been slain, including four killed in just the most recent protests.

They will undoubtedly also advance the demand for the bringing down of the government of Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH), the corrupt president and overseer for the International Monetary Fund, who is kept in power by the Honduran military and US Marines.

Zelaya, now the leader of the Partido Libertad y Refundación, is advancing this demand.