Saving Tasmanian wombats, new research


This 2016 video is called Cuddly Baby Wombat Compilation.

From the University of Tasmania in Australia:

New treatment program offers hope for controlling wombat mange

July 24, 2019

New research from the University of Tasmania is offering hope that the deadly mange disease affecting Tasmanian wombats could eventually be brought under control for wild individuals and populations.

Long-term disease control or eradication in wildlife is rare and represents a major challenge to wildlife conservation across the globe.

Control is particularly difficult for pathogens that can be transmitted through the environment, which includes the mite that causes sarcoptic mange in bare-nosed wombats.

In a paper published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology, researchers present a treatment program and lessons learned from it to guide the development of more effective and feasible control of sarcoptic mange disease in wombat populations.

Disease control was attempted during the mange outbreak at Narawntapu National Park in northern Tasmania, where PhD student Alynn Martin showed the disease could be controlled temporarily using a Cydectin treatment, remotely delivered to wombats using flaps over their burrows.

“The logistics of this treatment made long-term disease control extremely challenging,” she said. “After three months of trying to treat each wombat in the population every week, the disease returned, and wombats continued to die. It was very disappointing to see after going to so much effort to save these wombats.”

Rather than giving up, the researchers used their study to identify practical solutions to the problem.

With the help of University of Tasmania ecological modeller Dr Shane Richards, they discovered that a combination of a longer-lasting treatment and improved delivery of the treatment to the wombats would improve capacity to control mange in wombat populations.

“Slight improvements in multiple aspects of disease control can have dramatic impacts on our capacity to control this disease in wombats,” Dr Richards said.

Lead researcher Dr Scott Carver says that they are now researching a longer-lasting treatment for wombats, called Bravecto.

“We have researched the safety and dose, and are currently determining the effectiveness of the new treatment. Our overarching aim is to make the management of this pathogen much more feasible for individual wild wombats and local at-risk populations,” Dr Carver said.

Dr Richards said that field results suggest that the frequency in which wombats change the burrow in which they sleep was an important factor in disease persistence in populations.

The Sarcoptes scabiei mite was introduced to Australia by European settlers and their domestic animals.

‘Puerto Rico’s corrupt governor resigning’


This 24 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Puerto Rico Enters Uncharted Territory as Ricardo Rosselló Prepares to Resign as Governor

Facing mass civil unrest and a growing protest movement, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló is expected to resign today. El Nuevo Día first reported the news late Tuesday night. Rosselló has faced nearly two weeks of demonstrations—each one larger than the last—demanding he step down, following a massive leak revealing sexist, homophobic and violent text messages exchanged between the governor and government officials, in which he mocked victims of Hurricane Maria and joked about shooting San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. We speak with Democracy Now! co-host Juan González on the significance of Rosselló’s resignation.

How monarch butterflies winter


This 9 April 2019 video says about itself:

Why Are 300 Million Butterflies In This Forest?

The monarch butterfly migration is one of nature’s greatest events. This orange-winged wonder travels up to 4,500 km from all over North America to spend the winter hanging from oyamel fir trees in central Mexico’s mountain forests. I got to go there. Seeing tens of millions of butterflies dangling from the treetops is a truly breathtaking sight. But how does an animal with a brain the size of a poppy seed navigate to this one special place, especially since the last monarchs to make the trip lived 4 or 5 generations earlier? Get ready for an amazing story of science, instinct, and navigation.

From the University of Michigan in the USA:

Monarch butterflies rely on temperature-sensitive internal timer while overwintering

July 24, 2019

The fact that millions of North American monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles each fall and somehow manage to find the same overwintering sites in central Mexican forests and along the California coast, year after year, is pretty mind-blowing.

Once they get there, monarchs spend several months in diapause, a hormonally controlled state of dormancy that aids winter survival. Though diapause is not as obviously impressive as the celebrated annual migrations, it holds mysteries that have perplexed scientists who study biological timing.

Weeks before warming temperatures and longer days signal to the monarchs that it’s time to mate and begin spring’s northward migration, an internal timer goes off like an alarm clock to rouse the insects, telling them it’s time to end diapause and prepare for the critical upcoming events.

Studies in other organisms have shown that cold temperatures can influence the diapause-termination timer, and University of Michigan biologist D. André Green suspected the same is true for monarchs. His study at monarch overwintering sites in central California confirmed it, and his gene expression analyses help explain how cold temperature speeds up that internal timer.

“These results are particularly interesting because they address a counterintuitive result: How does cold temperature, which normally slows down an organism’s metabolism and development, speed up diapause? This work is one of the first to provide insights into this question,” said Green, a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology who began the work while at the University of Chicago.

The findings have important implications for North America’s monarchs — whose populations have declined steadily for decades at the overwintering sites — as the climate changes, Green and co-author Marcus Kronforst of the University of Chicago wrote in a Molecular Ecology study scheduled for publication July 24.

“Understanding how diapause dynamics are affected by environmental and anthropogenic factors at their overwintering sites may be critical for understanding North American monarch population decline and guiding future conservation efforts, a point highlighted by the record low number of monarchs recorded in the western North American monarch population in 2018,” Green and Kronforst wrote.

The findings also suggest that monarchs will act as an important sentinel species for monitoring environmental change and disturbance at overwintering sites. If diapause ends too early, monarchs may lose some of the protective time the dormancy period provides.

Green’s study involved capturing female monarch butterflies at overwintering sites in central California in November 2015, after they entered diapause. The live insects were brought back to the Chicago lab.

In an environmental chamber there, the butterflies were exposed to temperatures and day lengths approximating November in central California: 10 hours of light at 63 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by 14 hours of darkness at 50 degrees.

In December and again in January, Green’s team returned to the same overwintering sites, live-captured additional female monarchs and shipped them to the lab. In the wild, those winter-caught butterflies also experienced short days, along with nighttime temperatures that dipped below 50 degrees.

Green then compared the reproductive maturity of the different groups by counting the number of eggs in each female. An abundance of mature eggs is an indication that the female has terminated diapause, while a paucity of mature eggs indicates that she is still in diapause.

“The monarchs collected from the wild in December showed increased reproductive development compared to the monarchs that had been in the laboratory since November,” Green said. “This indicated that an environmental condition in the wild — cold temperature — sped up the timer.”

As part of the same study, Green also analyzed gene expression in the different groups of monarchs to understand how the internal timer works. Results suggest that transient markings on histones — proteins around which DNA winds and that control gene expression — may act as a timing mechanism.

The results also show that calcium signaling in the butterfly’s head is key, potentially linking the accumulation of cryoprotectants during cold weather to the internal timer.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Institutes of Health. Wild monarchs were collected on private property near Pismo Beach, California, with permission of the landowners.

Green is currently working on a separate study of monarch migration at a study site in U-M’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

German painter Emil Nolde and nazism


This 13 April 2019 Associated Press video says about itself:

Emil Nolde, the ‘degenerate artist’ and Nazi supporter

A new exhibition in Berlin depicts the two sides to expressionist painter Emil Nolde: as someone who was considered a “degenerate artist” by the Nazi regime but at the same time supported Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.

The exhibition has already lead to a re-evaluation of Nolde in the German art history, with one of his paintings being removed from the German Federal Chancellery building.

STORYLINE

This painting, called “Lost Paradise” is typical of Emil Nolde.

Emil Nolde, Lost Paradise

Bright colours, thick brushstrokes, lines that are emphasised. It is what makes him one of the great expressionist painters of inter-war Germany.

It was also considered a “degenerate artwork” by the National Socialist party as early as 1928, five years before the party, under Adolph Hitler, rose to power.

Nolde, who died in 1956, was among the prominent artists whose work was condemned as “degenerate art” under Nazi rule.

But he was also a Nazi party member and, as the exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof museum shows, an anti-Semite and believer in Nazi ideology who held out hopes of winning the regime’s recognition even after he was banned in 1941 from exhibiting, selling and publishing.

“The interesting thing about Emil Nolde – one of the most famous German artists of the 20th century – is that he was both a victim of the National Socialist politics of art and at the same time a supporter of the regime and that he defended it all the way until 1945”, says Aya Soika, co-curator of exhibition

“So how do we deal with an artist that is both a victim and an accomplice?”

The exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin deals with the issue by raising it whenever possible.

The exhibition includes documents from throughout Nolde’s career, including anti-Semitic letters from the artist dating back to before World War I.

It explores his conviction that he was a misunderstood artistic genius and his claim that he was boycotted by a supposedly Jewish-dominated art scene.

Along Nolde’s paintings are texts explaining how he supported Hitler and the Nazis and the title of the exhibition “Emil Nolde: A German legend / A National Socialist artist” sets the tone.

“I think it is important that we talk about this issue instead of just looking at the pictures”, says Christian Ring, Director of the Nolde foundation.

“The pictures are of course one thing but you have to consider the other side of Nolde when you look at the picture.”

“And I think that is really important. This exhibition is about letting visitors find their own way of dealing with this. What do we know and what do we see and how do we deal with this´? And how does the new knowledge about Nolde change the way we look at his works?”

There are some signs that Nolde changed his paintings after the Nazi party rose to power, and he found himself in the position of being a Nazi party member but at the same time considered a “degenerate artist“.

He stopped painting religious motifs and started painting Viking warriors, something that might have appealed more to the Nazi party.

However, he did not paint in the … style preferred by the Nazis.

“It really is a paradox. On one side a “degenerate artist”. On the other side a Nazi supporter”, says Ring.

“But I think that we still don’t have a full picture of the Nazi years. We still think about it as black and white. But we have to acknowledge that there are a lot of grey zones.”

His paintings hang in museums, private homes and official buildings across the country.

By Sybille Fuchs and Stefan Steinberg in Germany:

Modern art in Germany and the Nazis, Part 1: Emil Nolde

24 July 2019

Two art exhibitions currently running in Berlin raise important questions about the relationship of certain modern artists to the Hitler regime in Germany.

The Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art museum is holding an exhibition of paintings by Emil Nolde (1876-1956), Emil Nolde—A German Legend. The Artist during the Nazi Regime, which deals with the artist’s relationship to the Nazis and their ideology.

The Brücke Museum takes up the same theme in Escape into Art? The Brücke Painters in the Nazi Period, concentrating on the artists Erich Heckel (1883-1970), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976), Max Pechstein (1881-1950) and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938). In 1905, this collective founded the well-known artistic group Die Brücke (The Bridge).

This article deals with the Nolde exhibition, a second will deal with the Brücke painters.

Emil Nolde—A German Legend. The Artist during the Nazi Regime

In 1937, Emil Nolde had more of his paintings confiscated and put on display at the notorious Nazi Degenerate Art exhibition—which included work by Cubists, Surrealists, Dadaists, Expressionists and others that the Hitler regime despised—than any other German artist. Hundreds of his works were destroyed and 1,052 were removed from museums. Despite this, Nolde remained a loyal supporter of Hitler until the downfall of the Nazi regime in 1945.

Emil Nolde

Nolde is regarded in Germany and internationally as one of the main representatives of classical modernism. His works hang in many museums and adorn countless art books. His paintings of flowers and landscapes have been reproduced in countless prints, and reproductions of his works hang in many living rooms.

The great popularity of Nolde’s art is in no small measure bound up with the fact that he was denounced by the Nazis as a “degenerate” artist and, following the end of World War II, was elevated to the status of resistance figure. The excellent exhibition in the Hamburger Bahnhof museum provides a great deal of information concerning the contradictions in Nolde’s biography, how they relate to the public perception of his art and how he should be evaluated historically.

Until recently, Nolde was mainly associated in the public eye with his mistreatment by the Hitler regime, but recent research has revealed the full extent of his anti-Semitism and embrace of Nazi ideology, which he and his followers sought to conceal after 1945.

The current exhibition follows the artistic career of Nolde and displays his paintings, watercolours and graphics together with letters and other documents given in historical context, describing his reaction as an artist and human being to the events and circumstances of the time. A two-volume catalog has been published for the exhibition, documenting his artistic work accompanied by written testimonials. (1)

Nolde’s origins

Nolde was born Hans Emil Hansen in 1867 in the village of Nolde near Tønder (Northern Schleswig, today part of Denmark). His father was a farmer. As a child, Hans Emil was passionate about painting, a passion his parents did not share. In their opinion, he was to get a “proper” job as a craftsman or farmer. After completing a woodcarving apprenticeship in Flensburg, the young man became a teacher of commercial drawing and modelling in the Swiss town of St. Gallen. He also worked for a time as a carver in furniture factories in Karlsruhe, Munich and Berlin.

In 1898, he was rejected by the Munich Art Academy and instead received training in the arts at private painting schools. He traveled to Paris and attended the Académie Julian, where artists Paula Modersohn-Becker and Clara Westhoff also studied. In 1900, he moved into a studio in Copenhagen and, two years later, married a priest’s daughter and actress, Ada Vilstrup. He changed his last name to his birthplace in Nolde, to stress his “Nordic” background.

Pentecost, Emil Nolde, 1909

During this period he painted his first religious images springing from “childhood memories and his own imagination.” (2) One of them, Pentecost, which he submitted in 1910 for an exhibition of the Berlin Secession movement (an artists’ group that had set itself up in 1898 against the dominant academic trend), was rejected by its president, the painter Max Liebermann.

“If the picture is hung, I’ll quit my post,” Liebermann, who was Jewish, is alleged to have said. Nolde retaliated in an offensive manner and was expelled from the Secession movement.

Max Liebermann, 1904

The altercation and Nolde’s increasingly poisonous anti-Semitism were instrumental in the break-up of the Secession movement. From that point on, Nolde raged incessantly against what he regarded as a Jewish-dominated art market and cultural environment that refused to recognise his talent.

Again and again, he saw himself as a victim, as a misunderstood genius and blamed Jewish art critics. Nolde and his wife broke off their friendship with the Jewish critic Rosa Schapire, who sponsored the Brücke artists and also greatly encouraged Nolde: “The fast-growing friendship between her and us soon collapsed again. Only ashes remain. Gone with the wind. In art it was my first conscious encounter with a human different from myself. … Jews have a lot of intelligence and spirituality, but little soul and little creative talent,” he wrote in his autobiography. (3)

The original editions of the first two volumes of his autobiography, My Own Life (1930) and Years of Struggle (1934), which cover the years 1867 to 1914, contain numerous nationalist, racist and anti-Semitic remarks.

Expressionism

Nolde’s work is associated with the artistic tendency known as Expressionism, although he himself rejected this term. Expressionist art and literature emerged in Germany in the first decades of the 20th century as a countermovement to Naturalism and Impressionism. The model to be followed was French Fauvism with its expressive colours. Its followers rejected any immediate imitation of nature in favour of an aggressive deformation of subject matter. Their works were often characterised by stark colours and contrasts, often drawing from so-called “primitive” African and Oceanic art.

The term was coined by the journalist Herwarth Walden, editor of the magazine Der Sturm (The Storm), which published works by many leading Expressionists. The journal Die Aktion (The Action), edited by Franz Pfemfert, was also an important publication featuring literary texts, as well as numerous graphics by Expressionist artists. (Both Walden and Pfemfert later joined the fledgling Communist Party of Germany. Walden died in the Stalinist purges in the Soviet Union in 1941. Pfemfert became personally associated with Leon Trotsky, and his wife, Alexandra Ramm, did extensive translation of Trotsky’s works.)

The Burial of Jezus, Emil Nolde, 1915, oil on canvas, 87 x 117 cm, Stiftung Nolde, Seebüll, Nasjonalmuseet, National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway

The Expressionist painters were concerned with shaping the world according to their own subjective feelings and impressions, rather than attempting to depict physical reality. Manifold examples of such work were produced by the artists’ associations Die Brücke and also Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). Many of those involved in these groups, including Nolde, enthusiastically welcomed World War I in 1914 as a gigantic storm that would thoroughly rock the tectonic plates of an encrusted age.

Politically, the Expressionist movement was very diverse. Its political statements were largely diffuse and non-committal. Representatives of the movement regarded themselves as rebels against the bureaucratic, backwards-looking cultural policy and decadence of the Wilhelmine Period in Germany (1890-1918), but they largely rejected socialist ideals in favour of the anti-bourgeois sentiments expressed in the irrational philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer and Henri Bergson.

They rebelled against the decadence and narrow mindedness of the bourgeoisie and the established schools of art—Impressionism, Naturalism and Art Nouveau. The same period saw the emergence of similar tendencies such as the Lebensreform (Life Reform) and Jugend (Youth) movements, as well as Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy. These were tendencies that appealed to and were predominantly propagated by layers of the petty bourgeoisie, who rebelled against the bourgeois world, industrialisation and urbanisation. They rejected what they called the vulgar “materialism” of capitalist society and often sought instead a romantic, back-to-nature alternative. They had little in common with Marxism, socialist ideas or the working class.

“Storms of Colour”—Nolde and Die Brücke

The Die Brücke artistic group (Heckel, Pechstein, Kirchner and Schmidt-Rottluff) was founded in Dresden, and Nolde felt at home in the group. In February 1906, Schmidt-Rottluff wrote a letter to Nolde, who was about fifteen years older, inviting him to become a member of the association: “Dear Mr. Nolde, think what you want, we want to repay you accordingly for your storms of colour.”

Nolde gladly accepted the invitation and remained linked to Die Brücke after he left the group the following year. He was “disturbed” by the group’s alleged effort to create a unified artistic style, noting: “You should not call yourself a bridge, but rather van Goghiana.” Nolde’s own art was influenced by both Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, among others.

In 1912, Nolde exhibited alongside the Blue Rider group, a second group of significant Expressionist artists, founded by Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky. During this period, Nolde acquired recognition in the art world and was able to live comfortably from his painting.

South Sea Islander, Emil Nolde, 1915 lithograph in colors, on wove paper, Brooklyn Museum

A year later, Nolde and his wife took part in a South Seas expedition organised by the German government’s Colonial Office, which landed them in New Guinea. Nolde’s task was to investigate the “racial peculiarities of the population.” He regarded progressive colonisation as a danger to indigenous peoples, who allegedly lived in harmony with nature. He had previously studied the art of “primitive” peoples in the Berlin Ethnological Museum in search of the “strange, primeval and primitive.” (6) The First World War broke out as Nolde was returning from his trip. Nolde welcomed the outbreak of war.

In connection with an early self-portrait of Nolde, reminiscent of Rembrandt’s self-portraits, the curators Bernhard Fulda and Aya Soika explain in the introduction to the Hamburger Bahnhof catalog that Nolde and his wife Ada revered Julius Langbehn (1851-1907) and his book Rembrandt as Teacher. Langbehn’s book claimed that Rembrandt was the most “German of all German painters”, a representative of a “purely German art” and portrayed the great Dutch painter as a figure who could be identified with a “Greater Germany.” Such nostrums were integral to the ideological baggage of Nazism.

For Nolde, Langbehn’s image of the “individual artist as a sacred figure” and “national saviour” was extraordinarily attractive, the curators write, above all, because he always understood himself as a misunderstood genius, a heroic prophet whose time was yet to come.

“The Expressionist dispute” in Nazi cultural circles

A fierce debate about Expressionism developed inside the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP, the Nazi party) in the 1920s and early ‘30s. In particular, the dispute revolved around Nolde. The exhibition curators reveal that surprisingly Nolde had a number of prominent supporters in the Nazi ranks. His religious images, later denounced by Hitler as monstrosities and prominently featured in the “Degenerate Art” exhibition of 1937, were initially praised by some critics as being inspired by the spirit of German Gothic art.

Statements made by Hitler’s chief ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg, are prime examples of the initial vacillating attitude of some National Socialists, as far as avant-garde art was concerned.

Rosenberg praised Expressionism in 1922 as a groundbreaking German style in his work The Myth of the 20th Century (1930), while denouncing contemporary painters, including Ernst Barlach, Käthe Kollwitz and Nolde as “Cultural Bolsheviks” and “bunglers.” His verdict on Nolde was damning, but he left a small door open. In 1933, he ascribed a certain talent to Nolde and Ernst Barlach, only to later denounce Nolde’s “portraiture attempts” as “negroid, irreverent and devoid of any real inner formative power” in the Völkischer Beobachter, the Nazi Party’s newspaper. (6)

For his part, Nolde continued to place high hopes in National Socialism and in the eventual recognition of his art by leading Nazis. To demonstrate his ideological loyalty, he joined the National Socialist Association of Northern Schleswig, a Danish branch of the NSDAP, in 1934. (He had been a Danish citizen since the Treaty of Versailles.)

Nolde publicly welcomed National Socialism and leading Nazis—including Josef Goebbels, Hermann Göring and Albert Speer—owned his artwork and praised it as a powerful expression of German and Nordic culture. However, Nolde soon fell out of grace, along with other Expressionists, after Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933. He was a victim of the Nazis’ “blood and soil” ideology directed by Hitler, a failed painter himself lacking any artistic skill.

The more the Nazis consolidated their power and set course for war, the more rigorous became their censorship and suppression of art.

Emil Nolde, Sunflowers (1932). Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Robert H. Tannahill, © Nolde Stiftung Seebüll.jpg

On November 8, 1933, Nolde accepted an invitation from SS leader Heinrich Himmler to attend the tenth anniversary of Hitler’s unsuccessful coup d’état in 1923 in Munich. The artist apparently expected his art would be warmly embraced by the Nazis. He assumed—in vain—that they would declare Expressionism to be Germany’s national art form.

Göring had watercolours by Nolde in his apartment—until Hitler told him to take them down during a visit. Despite his initial support of the Expressionists, culture minister Goebbels and other leading Nazis finally capitulated to the romanticised, cliché-ridden and reactionary artistic taste of the Führer. As early as 1933, Nolde was asked to quit the Prussian Academy of Arts, which he refused to do. His application for membership in Rosenberg’s Militant League for German Culture was also rejected.

In the summer of 1933, Nolde went so far as to draft his own “banish the Jews plan” for Germany, which he tried to submit to Hitler. His plan called for the resettlement of the entire Jewish population. He also denounced his Brücke colleague Max Pechstein as a Jew on the basis of the latter’s name. Pechstein was forced to deny the accusation by providing “proof” that he was indeed “Aryan.” In the same year, Nolde sent two portraits to Goebbels to show to Hitler. Nolde described his art to Goebbels as “German, strong, bitter and heartfelt.”

Although these attempts to find pardon were unsuccessful, Nolde still enjoyed some success in the art world over the next few years. He was able to exhibit and his paintings sold well.

“Degenerate Art”

The tide turned decisively against Nolde in 1937, although the year had begun well for him. His works had been exhibited in Munich, Berlin and Mannheim.

Hitler had proclaimed his own conception of German art at the Reich Party Convention in Nuremberg in September 1935. Art must be, the German Nazi leader declared, “the real herald of the sublime and the beautiful and thus bearer of the natural and healthy.” Hitler vilified all types of modern art as “Jewish-Bolshevist cultural mockery”: “It is not the function of art to wallow in dirt for dirt’s sake, never its task to paint the state of decomposition, to draw cretins as the symbol of motherhood, to picture hunchbacked idiots as representatives of any strength.”

The Degenerate Art exhibition visited by Joseph Goebbels in February 1938, with two paintings by Emil Nolde (hanging left of the door)

The Nazis organised their infamous Degenerate Art exhibition, with 650 works confiscated from German museums that were deemed to “insult German feeling, or destroy or confuse natural form or simply reveal an absence of adequate manual and artistic skill,” in July 1937. The exhibition featured works by Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, George Grosz, Kandinsky, Kirchner and many others.

Nolde was prominently represented in the exhibition with 57 works. He wrote numerous letters of protest in which he pointed out that in his career as an artist he had been “opposed to the alienation of German art, to the filthy art trade, and the excessive Jewish predominance in all artistic matters.” Therefore, the censorship of his own art must be due to “misunderstandings” that required clarification. (7)

He eventually managed to get his pictures removed from the exhibition when it set off for a tour of German cities. However, much of his work was confiscated and all his paintings were removed from museums. Many of his works were sold abroad for foreign currency, but a large number were simply destroyed.

In 1941, Nolde was expelled from the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts. He was prevented from any professional or part-time activity in the field of the visual arts because his work “did not meet requirements demanded since 1933 for all visual artists working in Germany.” The 74-year-old artist could no longer exhibit or sell and could not purchase painting utensils, but this did not amount to an explicit “ban on painting”, as he himself claimed.

Even these drastic measures did not shake Nolde’s faith in Nazism. He and his wife continued until the end of the war to believe in “final victory,” although they suffered the loss of around 3,000 artworks in the 1944 bombing of their Berlin apartment.

Nolde painted many small watercolours in these years, which later served as templates for oil paintings. Nolde himself and art historians later referred to this body of work as his “Unpainted pictures”. Although seemingly spontaneously painted on just a few scraps of paper, they are in fact composed quite carefully and Nolde was even able to complete a few of them at the time as oil paintings. His subject matter during this period consisted mainly of flowers, landscapes or figures from Norse mythology. After 1933, Nolde had switched from “Jewish” Biblical figures to Nordic heroes, castles, sacrificial sites and landscapes, even though he never adapted to the type of painting favoured by Hitler.

Sixty of the “unpainted pictures” were turned into oil paintings after the war and represent a large part of Nolde’s postwar work.

After the war: Nolde’s elevation to the status of resistance hero

Nolde was given a clean bill of health in the denazification trials in 1946, due to the Nazis’ rejection of his art. As the current Berlin exhibition documents, the painter was portrayed in the postwar period as the personification of the persecuted modern artist and even a sort of resistance fighter against the Nazi dictatorship. The Nolde Foundation contributed strongly to this image.

Nolde’s longstanding Nazi membership was concealed and his four-volume autobiography was largely cleansed of anti-Semitic and racist passages. His estate in Seebüll became a kind of pilgrimage site.

He received numerous German and international honours and exhibitions up until his death in 1956 and beyond. In 1950, German president Theodor Heuss (Free Democratic Party), a trained art historian, insisted that Nolde accompany him on a visit to Schleswig-Holstein. In 1952, Nolde received the Pour le Mérite order of merit, the highest German award for science and art. His paintings were displayed on several occasions at the Venice Biennale as well as at the documenta 1 exhibition in Kassel in 1955, which was dedicated to the “degenerate” artists defamed by the Nazis.

Nolde and his art played an important role in West Germany during the Cold War and the downplaying of the crimes committed by the Nazis. In the documenta 1 catalog, art historian Werner Haftmann wrote that the idea of creative freedom was essential to combat the supposed instrumentalisation of art under Bolshevism. Haftmann was also one of the most important propagators of the legends surrounding Nolde’s “Unpainted Pictures.” (8)

Nolde was revered as a figure of “resistance” by representatives of all the main political parties. Nolde was used by both politicians and cultural officials alike to demonstrate that postwar Germany had turned over a new leaf and was undergoing a democratic “new beginning.” Nolde was perfectly suited to help cover the tracks of those who had compromised themselves during the Nazi regime and sought to rid themselves of any guilt or complicity in its crimes. Even after his death, Nolde was made use of as part of Germany’s “coming to grips with the past” via the zealous involvement of the foundation in Seebüll. As late as 2013, Nolde biographer Kirsten Jüngling was denied access to the Nolde archive. She was, however, able to draw upon numerous other publicly available letters and documents. (9)

One of the leading patrons of Nolde’s art was a former leader of the Social Democratic Party, Helmut Schmidt. In his position as Germany’s chancellor, Schmidt wrote to his friend author Siegfried Lenz that Nolde was the greatest German artist of the century. Schmidt went on to assert that Nolde’s inclusion in the Degenerate Art exhibition was the reason for his own rejection of Nazism as a 17-year-old. During his years as chancellor, 1974-1982, Schmidt exhibited paintings by Nolde in the Chancellery in Bonn. Lenz’s well-known novel, The German Lesson, played its own role in elevating Nolde’s stature and was often read as if it were a non-fiction work about the persecuted artist.

Schmidt, shortly before his death in 2015, wrote the introduction to a Nolde exhibition catalog in Hamburg. In it he briefly mentions that there had been a controversy over Nolde’s Nazi connections, but wrote nothing more.

Only after the death of Nolde’s second wife Jolanthe in 2010 and a change in the management of the Ada and Emil Nolde Foundation in Seebüll were the painter’s archives gradually made available for research, enabling Nolde’s real attitude to Nazism to be discussed publicly. A number of such documents were first made available to the public in an exhibition at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt five years ago. The Frankfurt exhibition drew attention to the significant changes in Nolde’s artistic subject matter following Hitler’s seizure of power.

The Hamburger Bahnhof exhibition was able to draw on recent research by its two curators, Aya Soika and Bernhard Fulda, who had complete access to the archives of the Nolde Foundation. The exhibition exposes the extensive efforts of Nolde and his wife Ada to consolidate their relations with the Hitler regime and avoid censorship.

A visitor to the Berlin exhibition could not help being struck by the sight of visitors of all ages poring over the documentation and letters at hand, as well as intensively examining the artwork on display.

What makes an assessment of Nolde and his art complex, given the reality of his abject opportunism and fidelity to Nazism, is the fact that he did not adapt his artistic style to the backward-looking, monumental and parochial inclinations of Hitler and his followers. Nolde did not paint in the manner of Adolf Ziegler, a wretched painter and an organiser of the Degenerate Art exhibition, and many other artists exhibited in the large Great German Art exhibition of 1937 in the newly built Haus der Kunst in Munich.

The fact that it is now possible to correctly classify Nolde and his art historically is in large part due to the current exhibition and its curators.

The latest revelations about Nolde have failed to affect the value of his pictures on the capitalist art market. As Kirsten Jüngling explained in an interview: “Immediately after the publication of my book, I asked around at Art Cologne and quizzed gallery owners if the recent publications on Nolde’s political past had had any effect on the desire to buy (his paintings). It was annoying. You have to know that enormous amounts are paid for Expressionist pictures, not least because they represent stable investments. People get nervous when the Nolde company shows signs of weakness.” (10)

Notes:

(1) Emil Nolde: The Artist during the Nazi Regime, Bernhard Fulda, Christian Ring and Aya Soika, Prestel, 2019

(2) Christian Ring, “Art itself is my language,” in: Emil Nolde—The Great Colour Wizard, Munich 2018, 29

(3) Emil Nolde, Years of Struggle, Rembrandt Verlag, Berlin 1934, 101, 102

(4) Ring, 22f

(5) Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution, Berlin 1994, p. 132, 133

(6) https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunst_im_Nationalsozialismus

(7) Ring, 37

(8) Werner Haftmann, Emil Nolde—Unpainted Pictures, 7th edition, Cologne 1996

(9) Kirsten Jüngling, Emil Nolde. Die Farben sind meine Noten, Berlin 2013

(10) Kirsten Jüngling, Interview in tageszeitung:

http://www.taz.de/Nolde-Biografin-ueber-schwierige-Aufarbeitung/!5432445/

Gray-cowled wood-rail and rufous motmot in Panama


This video says about itself:

Gray-cowled Wood-Rail Displaces Rufous Motmot In Panama – July 24, 2019

A Gray-cowled Wood-Rail takes the place of a Rufous Motmot and begins digging into some fresh papaya. What other tropical wonders will stake their claim to the bounty of the Panama fruit feeders today?

Watch LIVE 24/7 with highlights and viewing resources at http://allaboutbirds.org/panamafeeders.

Tennessee, USA neighbours stop Trump’s ICE deportation


This 23 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

ICE tries to bring man in Hermitage in custody, neighbors form human chain to let them [the man and his child] get home

According to Metro Nashville Police, ICE agents tried to pull someone over on Forest Ridge Drive in Hermitage. The driver pulled over, and ICE asked Metro Police to assist.

By Matthew Taylor in the USA:

ICE agents attempting to arrest Tennessee man repelled by neighbors

24 July 2019

On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents attempting to detain a Nashville, Tennessee man without a warrant were thwarted when the man’s neighbors formed a human chain to block the extra-legal action.

Residents of Nashville’s Hermitage neighborhood told local media that in the weeks leading up to the incident many of them had noticed a white Ford F-150 circling the block repeatedly, which they found to be suspicious. Around 6 a.m. Monday morning the drivers of the truck revealed themselves as undercover ICE agents when they turned on vehicle’s flashing lights and blocked a man driving a van and his twelve-year-old son in their driveway. The still-unidentified man, said to be a fourteen-year resident of the neighborhood, refused to leave the van.

For the next four hours, a standoff ensued. Neighbors emerged from their homes and came to the aid of the pair, providing food, water, and gas to keep the van’s air conditioning running in the summer heat, and giving them cold rags. The numbers swelled as the man’s neighbors were joined by local immigration activists who live-streamed the event on Facebook, as well as local politicians.

Local police also arrived at the scene at the request of the agents but did not intervene.

Meanwhile, the two ICE agents tried to cajole the man into surrendering, using the typical police tactics of lies, threats, and bribery. Because they had no actual arrest warrant signed by a judge but rather an administrative order issued internally by ICE, they could not legally detain the man without his consent.

As Daniel Yoon, an attorney present at the standoff explained to the Nashville Scene, “They were here with an administrative order that they wrote themselves…There’s no judicial review, no magistrate review, no probable cause. It doesn’t give them the authority to break down a door like you would with a normal warrant. They didn’t try to do that. But they still lied to the individuals inside and to people on the scene about, ‘No, this does give us that authority.’”

The ICE agents variously threatened to arrest the man’s 12-year-old son, offered cash to the pair, and tried to convince them that surrender was inevitable. When all of this failed, and the numbers of protestors continued to grow, the ICE agents finally retreated along with the local police.

The neighbors then formed a human chain to allow the man and his son to go back inside the house. The man’s wife came outside and thanked the gathered crowd for their assistance. The family soon exited through another human chain and left in another car with some of their belongings stuffed in trash bags and have not been seen since.

One neighbor present at the scene, Felishadae Young, gave a statement to local news station WZTV expressing the anger and solidarity neighbors felt when the ICE agents attempted to abduct the pair. “I was real scared about what was going on,” Young explained. “It put a lot of fear in me, because it could be me, it could be my family. It could be anybody. It could be your neighbors, just like it was my neighbor today.”

“I know they’re going to come back, and when they come back, we’re coming back,” Young declared defiantly.

Another neighbor, Angela Glass, explained to the Nashville Scene that, “These people, they’ve been living there for 14 years. They don’t bother anybody. Our kids play with their kids. It’s just one big community. And we don’t want to see anything happen to them. They’re good people. They’ve been here 14 years, leave them alone. To me, they’re considered Americans.”

Meanwhile in Texas, a young US citizen, Francisco Erwin Galicia, who was illegally detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on June 27, is soon to be released from the custody of ICE after nearly a month in detention.

The 18-year-old Galicia was arrested last month by CBP agents at an immigration checkpoint in Texas, some 80 miles north of the US-Mexico border, as he was traveling with his 17-year-old brother Marlon and friends to a soccer event. Despite the fact that he produced a Texas state ID card, which can only be obtained with a Social Security card, agents took him into custody along with his brother, who was born in Mexico and is undocumented.

Marlon Galicia was held for two days before being coerced into signing a voluntary deportation order. The younger Galicia told the Dallas Morning News, “I signed because I wanted to talk with my mom. Now, we just have to wait and see and hope that they release my brother.” Marlon now resides in Mexico with his grandmother.

In a blatantly racist and illegal move, ICE has imprisoned Francisco Galicia for nearly a month. The teenager is currently held by ICE at the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall, Texas in spite of the fact that his mother has produced a legal birth certificate showing that he was born at Parkland Memorial Hospital on December 24th, 2000. Both the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Post have reviewed the documentation and confirmed its authenticity.

Galicia’s mother also gave CBP officials the boy’s Social Security card, Texas state ID card, and a congratulatory certificate presented to her by hospital staff at Parkland Memorial upon his birth, to no avail.

Galicia was denied the right to contact his mother or anyone else while he was held in CBP custody. It was only after being transferred to ICE custody last week that he was able to call his mother.

CBP has cited a paperwork error, a tourist visa taken out in Galicia’s name stated that he was a citizen of Mexico as the reason for his ongoing detention. His mother’s attorney explained to the Washington Post that she had done this because she wrongly thought that was the only way he would be able to visit relatives in Mexico.

Though the mother’s error has been explained to immigration officials, and documents presented proving his citizenship, they had refused to release Galicia, only relenting in the face growing popular outrage as the story spread on social media.

Galicia’s case is not unique, a 2018 investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that 1,480 US citizens have been released from ICE custody since 2012, including one man who was held for over three years.

The author also recommends:

Davino Watson, US citizen wrongfully detained by ICE, calls for the defense of immigrants facing deportation
[5 March 2018]

Attracting blue jays to North American gardens


This 22 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Want to attract Blue Jays to your backyard? Try filling your bird feeder—they prefer tray feeders or hopper feeders—with some of their favorite treats: peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. 🥜

Trump threatens to ‘kill 10 million Afghans’


The 'Mother of all bombs' dropped in Afghanistan by Trump

By Sampath Perera and Keith Jones:

With Pakistan’s prime minister at his side

Trump threatens to wipe Afghanistan “off the face of the Earth”

24 July 2019

US President Donald Trump threatened to “kill 10 million” Afghans in “a week” so as to win a quick victory in America’s longest war, at a joint White House press conference Monday with Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister.

The US Commander-in-Chief cavalierly boasted that he could wipe Afghanistan “off the face of the Earth” if he wanted. But he said that he prefers to “extricate” the US from the eighteen-year-long Afghan War and expects Pakistan to facilitate this by helping secure a “settlement” with the Taliban.

“We’re like policemen”, Trump claimed. “We’re not fighting a war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win it in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.”

To underscore that his remarks were meant as a threat, Trump added, “I have a plan to win that war in a very short period of time” and repeated the figure of 10 million dead. He then turned toward Khan and declared, “You understand that better than anybody.”

Pakistan’s prime minister voiced no objection to Trump’s threat to unleash genocidal violence against Pakistan’s northern neighbor. Instead Khan slavishly hailed the US president as the head of the “most powerful country in the world.” Later, he issued an obsequious tweet thanking Trump “for his warm & gracious hospitality” and “his wonderful way of putting our entire delegation at ease.”

The US puppet regime in Kabul was forced to call for a “clarification” of Trump’s remarks, while feebly protesting that “foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan’s fate in the absence of the Afghan leadership.” In contrast, people across Afghanistan reacted with horror and outrage, sentiments shared by tens of millions around the world.

The US media downplayed Trump’s bloodcurdling remarks. The New York Times buried mention of them at the end of an article titled, “Trump Tries Cooling Tensions With Pakistan to Speed Afghan Peace Talks.”

Trump’s Monday remarks are only his latest threat to annihilate a foreign country and reveal that the US president—who has ordered a $1 trillion “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenal and the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia—is actively considering unleashing nuclear violence to forestall the collapse of US global hegemony.

In August 2017, Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” against North Korea, an impoverished nation of 25 million people. In July 2018, he directed a similar threat again Iran, tweeting that it would “SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED”, if it “EVER” dared to “THREATEN” Washington “AGAIN.”

Trump’s crude threats—which recall nothing so much as the menacing rants of Adolph Hitler in the run-up to the Second World War—are viewed as impolitic by much of the Washington elite. But the military-security apparatus and the US political establishment, Democratic and Republican alike, are unanimous in their support for using violence, aggression and war to offset US imperialism’s economic decline.

The Afghan War is only one of an endless series of wars that the US has waged across the Middle East, in Central Asia, and the Balkans since 1991. Moreover, the drive for US global hegemony has now metastasized into strategic offensives, including threatening military deployments, trade wars and economic sanctions, against nuclear-armed Russia and China.

Whilst Afghanistan no doubt was at the center of the discussions that Khan, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, the head of the country’s notorious intelligence agency, the ISI, held with Trump and senior officials in his administration, the US war drive against Iran—Pakistan’s western neighbor—was no doubt also a factor in the decision to invite Pakistan’s prime minister to Washington for the first time in five years.

Last month, US warplanes were just ten minutes away from unleashing bombs on Iran, when Trump called them back for fear that US forces were not sufficiently ready for a military conflict with Iran that would rapidly engulf the entire Middle East and potentially draw in other great powers.

Bowing to the US sanctions against Iran, which are themselves tantamount to war, Pakistan has once again put on ice plans for a pipeline to import Iranian natural gas. But the Pentagon and CIA will also be pressing Pakistan, which enjoys close ties to the virulently anti-Iranian Saudi monarchy, to use its territory as a staging ground for intrigues, if not military operations, against Iran.

US imperialism’s Afghan War debacle

Trump’s claim that the US has not really waged war in Afghanistan is absurd. Over the course of the past 18 years, the US and its NATO allies have deployed hundreds of thousands of troops to Afghanistan, tanks and warplanes, unleashed horrific violence and committed countless atrocities. This includes, under the Trump administration, the dropping on Afghanistan in 2017 of the most powerful conventional or nonnuclear bomb ever deployed.

The war, according to conservative estimates, has resulted in 175,000 deaths. If indirect deaths are included, the figure is probably closer to one million. Millions more have been driven from their homes. To this toll, the deaths of nearly 2,300 US military personnel and 1,100 other foreign troops need to be added.

Yet today the Taliban controls large swathes of the country, more than at any time since the US invasion in the fall of 2001.

If the Taliban, despite their reactionary Islamist ideology, have been able to sustain their insurgency in the face of US firepower, it is because the war is widely recognized to be a neocolonial invasion, aimed at transforming Afghanistan into a US-NATO dependency and outpost in Central Asia; and the Kabul government to be a quisling regime, thoroughly corrupt and comprised of war profiteers, tribal leaders, and other sections of the traditional Afghan elite.

The Afghan debacle—Washington’s failure to subjugate Afghanistan after 18 years of war and the expenditure of more than a trillion dollars—has produced major divisions within the US political and military-strategic establishments.

Trump is seeking to prod the Taliban into a political settlement that will allow the Pentagon to redeploy its resources to pursue aggression elsewhere, whether against Iran, Venezuela, or American imperialism’s more substantial rivals.

However, much of America’s ruling elite, especially in the military-security apparatus, argues that any settlement must ensure a continued military presence in Afghanistan. This is, first and foremost, because of its strategic significance: Afghanistan lies at the heart of energy-rich Central Asia, borders both Iran and China and is proximate to Russia.

The unraveling of US-Pakistan relations

Washington has long been demanding that Pakistan “do more” to place military and political pressure on the Taliban, so as to secure a settlement of the war on terms favorable to Washington.

Pakistan’s military-security apparatus played a key role in the CIA’s sponsoring of the Mujahideen guerilla insurgency in Afghanistan in the 1980s, as part of the US drive against the Soviet Union, and subsequently it supported the rise to power of its Taliban offshoot.

After Washington abandoned its own attempts to reach a deal with the Taliban regime and seized on the 9/11 events to establish a US foothold in Central Asia, Pakistan provided Washington with pivotal logistical support and subsequently waged a brutal counterinsurgency war against Taliban-aligned forces in its own Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

But the Pakistani military, drawing on the CIA playbook, was loathe to cut off all ties to the Taliban, so as to ensure that Islamabad had a say in any political settlement to end the war.

Washington’s downgrading of its relations with Islamabad, and its promotion of India as its principal South Asian ally, with the aim of transforming it into a US frontline state against China, caused Islamabad to become even more anxious about securing its interests in Afghanistan, and to expand its longstanding military-security partnership with Beijing. This latter development—which is exemplified by the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor—has enormously aggravated tensions between Washington and Islamabad.

Over the past decade, and particularly since 2011, there has been an unravelling of US-Pakistani ties.

Khan, like his predecessor Nawaz Sharif, had long been pressing for an invitation to Washington, in an attempt to reset relations with the US. For both economic and geopolitical reasons, Islamabad is desperately hoping that it can find a way, as it did in the past, of balancing between China and the US.

Last month, the US-dominated IMF agreed to provide Pakistan with emergency loans. Islamabad has also been rattled by the support Washington has extended to the “surgical” military strikes New Delhi mounted in September 2016 and February of this year, bringing South Asia’s rival nuclear-armed powers to the brink of war.

Whether Khan’s US trip will in fact arrest the deterioration in US-Pakistani ties remains to be seen.

Trump resisted Khan’s entreaties for the immediate restoration of Afghan War Coalition payments and other aid, arrogantly declaring that relations between the two countries are better than “when we were paying that money.” He then suggested if Islamabad bows to Washington’s diktats that could change, adding, “But all of that can come back, depending on what we work out.”

Trump did please Khan by saying that he “would love to be” a “mediator” or the “arbitrator” of the Indian-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir. For decades, Pakistan has sought to involve outside powers, especially Washington, in resolving its differences with New Delhi.

Trump’s remarks, which included the claim that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked for the US to help broker a solution to the Kashmir dispute, immediately set off a political firestorm in India, with New Delhi angrily denying that Modi had ever made such a suggestion.

India’s ruling elite is also perturbed that thus far it has been excluded from any role in the negotiations with the Taliban and discussions about a so-called political settlement of the Afghan war. But like Khan, Modi was entirely silent about Trump’s threats to annihilate ten million Afghans, presumably through the use of nuclear weapons.

In a deal that demonstrates that the Democratic Party offers no genuine opposition to the Trump administration, the congressional Democratic leadership has reached an agreement with the White House on a two-year, bipartisan plan to boost military spending to record levels and guarantee to Wall Street that there will be no limit on federal borrowing that would cause instability in the financial system: here.

Anemonefish, sex change fish


This January 2019 video says about itself:

Stock footage of Ocellaris clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris Cuvier, 1830, shot at Phuket and the Similan Islands in Thailand, the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar, and in Indonesia.

Alternatively known as clown anemonefish, false percula clownfish, false clown anemonefish, common clownfish, western clown anemonefish, western clownfish, or “Nemo”.

The ocellaris clownfish is seen in this footage in symbiosis with the magnificent sea anemone, Heteractis magnifica (also known as the Ritteri anemone).

Classification: Animalia (Kingdom) Chordata (Phylum) Vertebrata (Subphylum) Gnathostomata (Superclass) Pisces (Superclass) Actinopterygii (Class) Perciformes (Order) Labroidei (Suborder) Pomacentridae (Family) Amphiprion (Genus) Amphiprion ocellaris (Species).

From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau in the USA:

For anemonefish, male-to-female sex change happens first in the brain

July 23, 2019

The anemonefish is a gender-bending marvel. It starts out as a male, but can switch to female when circumstances allow, for example, when the only female present dies or disappears. In a new study, researchers found that the male-to-female sex-change occurs first in the fish’s brain and only later involves the gonads — sometimes after a delay of months or years.

“We discovered that when you pair two males together, they fight, and the winner becomes female,” said University of Illinois psychology professor Justin Rhodes, a behavioral neuroscientist who led the research. “But the first thing that changes is the brain, in particular the part of the brain that controls the gonads.”

The findings, reported in the journal Hormones and Behavior, describe the first known example of an animal undergoing a sex change in the brain before it occurs in the sex organs, the researchers said.

In anemonefish, females are dominant, Rhodes said. They pair up with a single male, the largest of the males available, to mate for life. Each mating pair makes its home in an anemone, “which is kind of like an upside-down jellyfish,” Rhodes said. The anemone protects them from predators with its stinging tentacles. Anemonefish appear to be immune to the anemone’s stings. The females lay eggs and the males fertilize them. After that, the mother defends the nest, protecting it from predators, and the father tends to the eggs.

“Anemonefish are completely dependent on the sea anemone for protection,” Rhodes said. “Our species, Amphiprion ocellaris, will stay within a meter of the anemone at all times.”

Sometimes, other nonreproductive male fish are allowed to also live on the same anemone with the mating pair. If, for some reason, the female disappears, her male mate begins — almost immediately — to take on female behaviors, such as aggressively defending the nest. And the next largest male moves in to become her mate.

But, at first, the fish that is behaving like a female has a male brain and gonads. Rhodes and his colleagues wanted to know whether the transition from male to reproductively viable female began first in the brain or gonads. They set up experiments in the laboratory where they paired male anemonefish together and tracked their development. In all, they followed 17 pairs of male anemonefish.

Within minutes or hours of being put together in a tank, one of the two males emerged as dominant, and began to behave as a female would, the researchers reported.

“We thought that once the fish figured out it was dominant, then immediately its gonads would start changing,” Rhodes said. “In fact, that’s not what happened. The gonads stayed male while the brain was changing.”

The researchers focused on a brain structure that regulates gonad function. This structure, the preoptic area, is much bigger in females than in males, with roughly twice the number of neurons.

“We tracked changes in the preoptic area, changes in the gonads and in the blood hormones,” Rhodes said. “We counted neurons in the preoptic area, took blood samples to look at the sex hormones, and examined the eggs to look at the proportion of eggs to testicular tissue in the gonads.”

Within six months of being paired with another male, the dominant fish had grown its preoptic area to a size that made it indistinguishable from the same region in other female anemonefish brains.

“After six months, this part of the brain is completely changed from a male brain to a female brain,” Rhodes said. “But the gonads have not yet changed, which means that they’re still male gonads.”

Any biologist who studies anemonefish would identify the fish at this stage as female, Rhodes said. “Also, if you ask other fish, they’ll tell you it’s a female.”

Male anemonefish will not fight with a female, but females will fight each other to the death. This is exactly how the other fish responded to the dominant fish.

“It’s a very clear demonstration that brain sex and gonadal sex can be uncoupled,” Rhodes said. “Is it female or is it male? It’s got a female brain, but its gonads are male.”

Despite the researchers’ expectations, the dominant fish appeared to be in no hurry to change their gonads to the fully female variety. Only three of the dominant fish in the 17 pairs actually transitioned all the way to reproductive females, with viable eggs in their gonads. One of the three laid eggs.

The rest of the pairs seemed to be in a holding pattern, with female brains and male gonads. The researchers followed them for three years, and the fish still hadn’t made the full transition.

“We don’t know exactly what they’re waiting for,” Rhodes said. “Maybe they’re waiting to grow bigger, so they can produce more eggs. Maybe they don’t have the right chemistry as a couple.”

Rhodes is an affiliate of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the U. of I.

Puerto Rican people against corrupt government


This 23 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Protests grow as Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló vows to stay in office

Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets of San Juan in what is believed to be the largest protests the island has seen. Protesters continue to demand that their embattled governor resign. David Begnaud joins CBSN with the latest on the growing demonstrations.

By Eric London in the USA:

The mass protests in Puerto Rico

24 July 2019

Between 500,000 and one million Puerto Ricans took to the streets of the capital San Juan Monday in the largest demonstration in the island’s history. Even the low-end figure, 500,000, would mean 16 percent of the territory’s population of 3.2 million protested Monday.

The same percentage applied to the US mainland would equal 50 million protestors, a prospect that fills the ruling class with fear.

Less than two weeks ago, the Puerto Rican Center for Investigative Journalism published 900 pages of instant messages detailing the contempt which the ruling class has for workers and youth. When journalists defy the media establishment and actually report on the intrigues of the ruling class, the implications are revolutionary.

In the text messages, Governor Ricardo Rosselló and his advisers disparage student protestors and plan to crush their demonstrations, discuss using complacent corporate-bought media to silence independent journalists, plan to distribute “fake news” propaganda videos secretly produced by the government to dull opposition, talk about blocking police reform and mock impoverished residents for being forced to use dangerous public infrastructure.

In the most inflammatory message, Rosselló mocks those workers who the US government left for dead after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017: “Now that we are on the subject,” Rosselló’s chief executive Sobrino Vega said, “don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows?”

This line has burned its way into the consciousness of millions of people, the Puerto Rican equivalent of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake”. It has triggered such explosive anger because it taps into profound historical and social grievances building up beneath the surface of Puerto Rican society for decades. On a territory stolen by conquest in the early days of American imperialism, where the subjects have no real right to elect representatives, masses of people are deciding to seek a redress of grievances outside the framework of the political establishment.

The Democratic Party and its press organs have attempted to downplay the class character of the opposition that has exploded after the publication of the texts … The New York Times wrote Monday that “the exchanges revealed an arrogant ‘bro’ culture of elites” who “ridiculed an obese man, a poor man, a gay pop star, and several women.”

In actual fact, the grievances of the Puerto Rican people are rooted in the deep poverty and colonial exploitation of the island by US imperialism.

Both major US political parties abandoned the population in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, which left nearly 5,000 people dead.

When the hurricane struck, the federal and local governments lied to the population about the death toll and refused to make any real effort to provide aid. US President Donald Trump boasted that the hurricanes were not “real catastrophes” because they “only” killed 16 people, calling the government response an “incredible success.” Weeks later, he flew to the island for a photo op, tossing what he called “beautiful, soft paper towels” to desperate onlookers.

Monday, Trump poured gasoline on the fire when he called himself “the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico” adding, “We did a great job in Puerto Rico.”

Some 10,000 schools, bridges, roads and other infrastructure were destroyed by the hurricanes. As of last week, only nine reconstruction projects had been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The government is moving forward with a years-long plan of privatizations and austerity budgets to pay off the island’s Wall Street creditors by eviscerating social programs and public education.

The American ruling class, rattled by crisis upon crisis, is desperate to stop the Puerto Rican protests from triggering mass strikes and protests on the mainland, where the same extreme inequality and poverty dominates all elements of political and social life.

Due to the fact that Trump is widely hated across Puerto Rico, chief responsibility for suppressing the demonstrations falls to the Democratic Party.

Rosselló, a member of the New Progressive Party (PNP), is a Democrat and a member of the Democratic Governor’s Association. He was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention for Hillary Clinton in 2008 and for Barack Obama in 2012. Both major parties in Puerto Rico are dominated by the mainland Democrats.

The movement in Puerto Rico heralds the expansion and intensification of the global wave of strikes and protests. Herein lies the path that the working class must take in response to the political crisis in Washington between the two reactionary factions of the American ruling class.

Trump is developing a fascist strategy aimed at preparing for the physical destruction of the coming working class struggles. The Democrats, no less the party of Wall Street, are obsessed with censoring the Internet, strengthening the military and intelligence agencies, and focusing opposition to Trump based on anti-Russian hysteria and concerns that Trump is insufficiently prosecuting the interests of US imperialism abroad.

In recent months, mass demonstrations of a historically unprecedented scale have taken place on almost every continent. In Hong Kong, Algeria, France and Puerto Rico, masses of people have poured into the streets of metropolis and former colony alike.

Though the languages of their voices and signs are different, their demands—for democratic rights and economic equality—speak the language of an emerging social force: the international working class. Young people—exploited, indebted, unemployed and underpaid—are playing a prominent role in the rising tide of social struggle. Over half of the world’s population is under the age of 30. In Puerto Rico, it was young people who used social media to disseminate Rosselló’s texts to their friends and coworkers.

The protests are demanding the resignation of Rosselló, which so far, the governor has refused. …

Addressing the root cause of inequality, official corruption and attacks on democratic rights requires the broadest mobilization of the international working class, leading the youth and healthy elements of the middle class, in a struggle against the capitalist system.

This 23 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

2020 [presidential election] contender and [Democratic] Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined CBSN’s “Red & Blue” to discuss her recent trip to Puerto Rico. She called on Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to resign, saying it was “the right thing.” Gabbard urged fellow candidates to visit the island.