Senator Warren against nuclear war, chickenhawks angry


This 7 August 2019 video from the USA is called [Washington] DC Cretins Chastise [senator and Democratic party presidential candidate Elizabeth] Warren For Ruling Out Offensive Nuclear Strikes.

After withdrawing from the landmark Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the United States has been barreling ahead with its preparations to fight a nuclear war with China, Russia, or both, by testing and stockpiling dangerous new weapons in a nuclear arms race: here.

Wall Street Democrats threaten to support Trump or sit out ($$$) 2020 election if Warren is nominated: here.

ZUCKERBERG SAYS HE’LL WIN AGAINST WARREN THREAT Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees he’s ready to “go to the mat and … fight” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other politicians who have called for big tech companies to be broken up, and predicted the social media giant will prevail even if Warren wins the presidency in 2020. [HuffPost]

World’s biggest parrot discovered in New Zealand


Relative size of Heracles inexpectatus parrot

From Flinders University in Australia:

NZ big bird a whopping ‘squawkzilla’

Meet ‘Hercules’ — the giant parrot that dwarfs its modern cousins

Australasian palaeontologists have discovered the world’s largest parrot, standing up to 1m tall with a massive beak able to crack most food sources.

The new bird has been named Heracles inexpectatus to reflect its Herculean myth-like size and strength — and the unexpected nature of the discovery.

“New Zealand is well known for its giant birds,” says Flinders University Associate Professor Trevor Worthy. “Not only moa dominated avifaunas, but giant geese and adzebills shared the forest floor, while a giant eagle ruled the skies.

“But until now, no-one has ever found an extinct giant parrot — anywhere.”

The NZ fossil is approximately the size of the giant ‘dodo‘ pigeon of the Mascarenes and twice the size of the critically endangered flightless New Zealand kakapo, previously the largest known parrot.

Like the kakapo, it was a member of an ancient New Zealand group of parrots that appear to be more primitive than parrots that thrive today on Australia and other continents.

Experts from Flinders University, UNSW Sydney and Canterbury Museum in New Zealand estimate Heracles to be 1 m tall, weighing about 7 kg.

The new parrot was found in fossils up to 19 million years old from near St Bathans in Central Otago, New Zealand, in an area well known for a rich assemblage of fossil birds from the Miocene period.

“We have been excavating these fossil deposits for 20 years, and each year reveals new birds and other animals,” says Associate Professor Worthy, from the Flinders University Palaeontology Lab.

“While Heracles is one of the most spectacular birds we have found, no doubt there are many more unexpected species yet to be discovered in this most interesting deposit.”

“Heracles, as the largest parrot ever, no doubt with a massive parrot beak that could crack wide open anything it fancied, may well have dined on more than conventional parrot foods, perhaps even other parrots,” says Professor Mike Archer, from the UNSW Sydney Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives (PANGEA) Research Centre.

“Its rarity in the deposit is something we might expect if it was feeding higher up in the food chain,” he says, adding parrots “in general are very resourceful birds in terms of culinary interests.”

“New Zealand keas, for example, have even developed a taste for sheep since these were introduced by European settlers in 1773.”

Birds have repeatedly evolved giant species on islands. As well as the dodo, there has been another giant pigeon found on Fiji, a giant stork on Flores, giant ducks in Hawaii, giant megapodes in New Caledonia and Fiji, giant owls and other raptors in the Caribbean.

Heracles lived in a diverse subtropical forest where many species of laurels and palms grew with podocarp trees.

“Undoubtedly, these provided a rich harvest of fruit important in the diet of Heracles and the parrots and pigeons it lived with. But on the forest floor Heracles competed with adzebills and the forerunners of moa,” says Professor Suzanne Hand, also from UNSW Sydney.

“The St Bathans fauna provides the only insight into the terrestrial birds and other animals that lived in New Zealand since dinosaurs roamed the land more than 66 million years ago,” says Paul Scofield, Senior Curator at Canterbury Museum, Christchurch.

Canterbury Museum research curator Vanesa De Pietri says the fossil deposit reveals a highly diverse fauna typical of subtropical climates with crocodilians, turtles, many bats and other mammals, and over 40 bird species.

“This was a very different place with a fauna very unlike that which survived into recent times,” she says.

This research was funded by the Australian Research Council and supported by the Marsden Fund Council from Government funding, managed by Royal Society Te Apārangi.

This 7 August 2019 video, in Spanish, is about the recent discovery of Heracles inexpectatus, the biggest parrot ever.

United States author Toni Morrison, RIP


This 7 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Toni Morrison: Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni & Sonia Sanchez Pay Tribute

Toni Morrison, one of the nation’s most influential writers, died this week at the age of 88 from complications of pneumonia. In 1993, Morrison became the first African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. She also won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her classic work “Beloved”.

Much of Morrison’s writing focused on the Black female experience in America, and her writing style honored the rhythms of Black oral tradition. Her work was deeply concerned with race and history, especially the sin of transatlantic slavery and the potentially restorative power of community. In 2012, President Obama awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom. We speak with three legendary writers and close friends of Toni Morrison: Angela Davis, author and activist; Nikki Giovanni, poet, activist and educator; and Sonia Sanchez, award-winning poet.

This 7 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni & Sonia Sanchez on the Crisis in America & the Death of Toni Morrison

Legendary writers and activists Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez discuss the gun violence epidemic in the United States in the wake of the latest mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Giovanni, who teaches at Virginia Tech, talks about the massacre at her institution in 2007 that left 32 people dead and wounded another 17, and her efforts to warn administrators about the student who would carry out one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. The three women also continue their discussion from Part 1, reflecting on the life and legacy of their late friend Toni Morrison, who died Monday at age 88.

Obituary: African-American novelist Toni Morrison dead at 88: here.

American wildfires too big for fire-loving woodpeckers


This August 2013 video from the USA says about itself:

Black-backed woodpeckers thrive in recently burned forests. The Forest Service and the Institute for Bird Populations are learning more about these birds and their habitat. This effort will inform future restoration work on the national forests in California.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office in the USA:

‘Mega-fires’ may be too extreme even for a bird that loves fire

August 6, 2019

Fire is a natural part of western forests, but the changing nature of fire in many parts of North America may pose challenges for birds. One bird in particular, the Black-backed Woodpecker, specializes in using recently-burned forests in western North America, but like humans looking for a new family home, it’s picky about exactly where it settles. New research published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications suggests that these birds actually prefer to nest near the edges of burned patches — and these edges are getting harder to find as wildfires have become bigger and more severe.

Andrew Stillman, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Connecticut, along with colleagues from The Institute for Bird Populations and the U.S. Forest Service, looked at nest site selection and nest success of Black-backed Woodpeckers in burned forests of northern California. Over a period of eight years, the researchers located and monitored more than one hundred nests while measuring nest site characteristics across multiple spatial scales. The birds in the study strongly preferred to nest in severely burned stands that had lots of dead trees. But the birds chose to place their nests near the edges of these high-severity burned patches, typically within 500 meters of a patch with live trees.

“We didn’t expect to find these woodpeckers nesting so close to edges,” says Stillman. Previous studies had shown that woodpecker nests closer to living forest patches were more likely to be predated by animals such as squirrels. However, another recent study by Stillman and others showed that Black-backed Woodpecker fledglings often move into living patches with good cover quickly after leaving their nest. By placing nests closer to edges, adults may be providing their offspring easier access to this “nursery” habitat.

Stillman notes that “pyrodiversity”, or a diversity in the age, size and severity of burned patches, appears to be important for this post-fire specialist woodpecker because it provides more edges between different burn severities. But climate change is fostering larger, more homogeneous fires with reduced pyrodiversity.

“The thing about pyrodiversity is that we expect it to decrease,” says Dr. Morgan Tingley of the University of Connecticut and co-author of the paper. “Every year we see more ‘mega-fires,’ and these fires are quite homogenous in their structure, leading to low pyrodiversity. So even though the future is expected to hold more fire in western forests, the outlook may not even be good for fire-loving species.”

Stillman anticipates that understanding the importance of habitat edges to Black-backed Woodpeckers, as well as other findings of this study, will assist forest managers. “We hope that these results provide some of the missing information necessary to balance post-fire logging activities with the habitat needs of woodpeckers,” he says. Dr. Rodney Siegel, Executive Director of The Institute for Bird Populations and a co-author of the study, agrees. “A central goal of our multi-year partnership with the Forest Service is to better understand the specific habitat needs of Black-backed Woodpeckers and other species that use burned forests. This information allows forest managers to design management activities that are more compatible with the needs of wildlife.”

Wildfire is transforming some forestlands into shrublands, a new study finds. The results suggest these forests, which are used to living with and even benefiting from fire, have not yet adapted to this newer regime of intense, high-severity fires: here.

WILDFIRES RAVAGE CALIFORNIA Tens of thousands of Californians were forced to evacuate their homes as a spate of fast-moving and potentially catastrophic wildfires broke out across the state, from Sonoma’s wine country to the hills around Los Angeles. [HuffPost]

Dayton, USA massacre survivors’ Trump visit protest


This Associated Press video from the USA says about itself:

Protests ahead of President Trump‘s Dayton visit

At least 200 protesters gathered outside Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio Wednesday, hoping to send a message to President Donald Trump that he’s not welcome in the city. A bar shooting left nine dead and dozens injured over the weekend. (August 7 2019)

From Associated Press, 5 August 2019:

High school classmates of the gunman who killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, say he was suspended years ago for compiling a “hit list” and a “rape list,” and questioned how he could have been allowed to buy the military-style weapon used in this weekend’s attack.

The accounts emerged after police said there was nothing in the background of 24-year-old Connor Betts that would have prevented him from purchasing an AR 15-style rifle with an extended ammunition magazine that he used to open fire outside a crowded bar early Sunday.

Dayton Gunman Showed Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Video To Girl On First Date: here.

Great Barrier Reef coral fights for survival


This December 2014 video says about itself:

In what has been described as the “world’s biggest orgy”, coral on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has spawned in one of nature’s most amazing and rarely-seen shows. In an even rarer occurrence, the coral put on an encore performance, re-producing – or spawning – for the second time in two months, releasing millions of eggs and sperm into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef to fertilise. This almost unseen “split-spawning” event had marine scientists and tourists marvelling in delight.

From the University of Queensland in Australia:

Strange coral spawning improving Great Barrier Reef’s resilience

August 6, 2019

A phenomenon that makes coral spawn more than once a year is improving the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

The discovery was made by University of Queensland and CSIRO researchers investigating whether corals that split their spawning over multiple months are more successful at spreading their offspring across different reefs.

Dr Karlo Hock, from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences, said coral mass spawning events are one of the most spectacular events in the oceans.

“They’re incredibly beautiful,” Dr Hock said.

“On Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, all coral colonies typically spawn only once per year, over several nights after the full moon, as the water warms up in late spring.”

Study co-author Dr Christopher Doropoulos from the CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere said sometimes however, coral split their spawning over two successive months.

“This helps them synchronise their reproduction to the best environmental conditions and moon phases,” he said.

“While reproductive success during split spawning may be lower than usual because it can lead to reduced fertilisation, we found that the release of eggs in two separate smaller events gives the corals a second and improved chance of finding a new home reef.”

The research team brought together multi-disciplinary skills in modelling, coral biology, ecology, and oceanography, simulating the dispersal of coral larvae during these split spawning events, among the more than 3800 reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef.

They looked at whether the split spawning events more reliably supply larvae to the reefs, as well as whether the ability to exchange larvae among the reefs is enhanced by them.

UQ’s Professor Peter J. Mumby said split spawning events can increase the reliability of larval supply as the reefs tend to be better connected and have more numerous, as well as more frequent, larval exchanges.

“This means that split spawning can increase the recovery potential for reefs in the region.

“A more reliable supply of coral larvae could particularly benefit reefs that have recently suffered disturbances, when coral populations need new coral recruits the most.

“This will become more important as coral reefs face increasingly unpredictable environmental conditions and disturbances.”

Dr Hock said the research also revealed that the natural processes of recovery can sometimes be more resilient than originally thought.

“However, even with such mechanisms in place, coral populations can only withstand so much pressure,” he said.

“It all ends up being the matter of scale: any potential benefits from split spawning might be irrelevant if we don’t have enough coral on these reefs to reproduce successfully.

“Mitigating well-established local and global threats to coral reefs — like river runoffs and carbon dioxide emissions — is essential for their continued survival.”

The study between UQ, CSIRO and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was published in Nature Communications.

Scientists have completed a landmark study on how to save coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans: here.

GIANT ROCK COULD HELP HEAL BARRIER REEF A “raft” of floating pumice rock the size of Manhattan is drifting toward Australia, bringing along new marine life that could help with the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef’s corals, half of which have been killed in recent years as a result of climate change. [CNN]

The first documented discovery of ‘extreme corals’ in mangrove lagoons around Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is yielding important information about how corals deal with environmental stress, scientists say. Thirty-four species of coral were found to be regularly exposed to extreme low pH, low oxygen and highly variable temperature conditions making two mangrove lagoons on the Woody Isles and Howick Island potential ‘hot-spots’ of coral resilience: here.

New, lower-cost help may soon be on the way to help manage one of the biggest threats facing the Great Barrier Reef. That threat is pollution from land making its way downstream by way of the many rivers and streams that flow into coastal waters along the reef. The size of the reef — which stretches for 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coast — makes it extremely hard to get an idea of what’s happening in real-time. Now, in collaboration with scientists at the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS) have developed statistical predictive tools that could lead to the deployment of many more low-cost sensors in those rivers and streams: here.