Glossy ibises feeding, video


This August 2019 video shows glossy ibises feeding at the Zuidlaardermeer lake in the Netherlands.

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Pro-Donald Trump propaganda by Falun Gong cult


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

The EPIC Weirdness of The Epoch Times

The Epoch Times is definitely not fair and balanced. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“By the numbers, there is no bigger advocate of President Donald Trump on Facebook than The Epoch Times.

The small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook’s advertising archive — more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns.”

Read more [on NBC] here.

The Epoch Times is the mouthpiece of the Falun Gong religious cult. Falun Gong at first tried to take over the Chinese communist party and Chinese government. When that failed, they presto! became John Birch Society-style far-right anti-communist.

NBC continues:

Former practitioners of Falun Gong told NBC News that believers think the world is headed toward a judgment day, where those labeled “communists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sympathetic to the spiritual community will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-communist fight, former Epoch Times employees said.

In Germany, the Epoch Times promotes far-right organisations like the AfD and Pegida.

Falun Gong logo

Falun Gong areagainst homosexuality, feminism, rock music and ‘race-mixing’‘. Except for the fact that Donald Trump sometimes uses rock music in his campaigns, against the will of the rock musicians concerned, all this fits in well with Donald Trump.

Like the Scientology ‘church’, Falun Gong believes in dangerous shape-shifting aliens from outer space.

The present Falun Gong pro-Trump propaganda reminds me of the Unification Church, aka the Moonie cult. When US President Richard Nixon got in trouble because of his Watergate scandal, the Moonies demonstrated with signs saying: God loves Nixon!

Biggest prehistoric sea animals, size comparison video


This 18 August 2019 video says about itself:

Largest prehistoric sea animals of different kinds. Size comparison. Paleoart

TAXA: Aegirocasis, Jaekelopterus, Parapuzosia, Rhizodus, Cameroceras, Archelon, Titanichthys, Hydrodamalis, Mosasaurus, Pliosaurus, Mauisaurus, Livyatan, Leedsichtys, Basilosaurus, Megalodon, Shastasaurus, Blue Whale.

Michael Brown commemorated, Ferguson, USA people speak


By Zac Corrigan in the USA:

Voices from Ferguson, Missouri five years after the police murder of Michael Brown

22 August 2019

Five years ago this month, the attention of the world was focused on Ferguson, a small, working-class suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Night after night, workers and young people filled the streets to demand justice for 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot at least six times and left to die on the concrete by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Scenes of riot police and National Guard troops in riot gear using military vehicles to attack peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas and arrest journalists will be remembered for decades as a symbol of the disdain of the ruling class for the lives and concerns of impoverished workers and youth.

Despite a wave of protests across the country—not to mention a damning autopsy which showed that Michael Brown was shot in the top of the head—a grand jury refused to indict Wilson and President Barrack Obama’s Justice Department declined to bring federal civil rights charges. Five years on, over five thousand more people have been killed by the police in the United States.

This week, World Socialist Web Site reporters returned to Florissant Avenue in Ferguson—the scene of the murder as well as the protests—to speak to residents about life in a country where the police kill with impunity to defend a capitalist social order based on historic levels of inequality.

Kelly, a mother of two adolescent sons, was at work at a barbershop on Florissant Avenue the day Brown was murdered. “We were working. It was a normal day. And yeah…then that happened.”

“The protests came a few days later. It wasn’t violent, it was a peaceful protest. I feel like it started to become violent, or it seemed violent, when they started bringing in all the troops. It made everyone tense and made them feel like they had to fight back,” she said.

She explained that the murder of Brown was just one more horrible injustice piled on top of a lifetime of injustices for Ferguson residents. “We’re angry because we don’t have that job, or we don’t have food in the house.”

Kelly

“I have a fifteen-year-old and a ten-year-old. Boys. [Comparing] when I was younger and now in the school systems, there’s a lot of things they don’t do for the children, as far as music, arts, even sports”, she said, adding, “and they’re taking away history itself! They’re not educating the children on what their real culture is. They aren’t teaching them about Martin Luther King, about what protesting is about, and what it’s really for… These kids don’t know what that is, and what it meant to the world!”

Kelly was incensed when WSWS reporters raised the ongoing campaign to erase murals from a high school in San Francisco, which depict the history of the United States including slavery and Native American genocide.

“Why do they coddle these people so much!” she exclaimed. “It’s horrible! If you hide that from your children, or from yourself, how will you be able to handle it when it comes in front of you? How will you be able to respond when you do see something like that? That’s a major part of life, to struggle. And I feel like that’s another reason why so many people are killing themselves, and [have] depression. At the end of the day, how do you know who you really are if you don’t know what made people stronger, and what made people fight harder?” she concluded.

Tremier Floyd, now thirty years old, remembers the suppression of the protests in 2014. “I was here a couple of nights. But I really didn’t want to stick around for what was about to go down,” he said.

“This was an area I frequented,” he explained. “I was very active in music and I was out here all the time with my own personal CDs [for sale]. I encountered the police in negative ways on many occasions, just for that alone. The treatment was really unnecessary.”

Tremier was in real danger. Less than a month before the killing of Brown, Eric Garner was choked to death by police officer Daniel Pantaleo while allegedly selling loose cigarettes on the street in Staten Island, New York. Alton Sterling was killed by police in 2016 as he was selling CDs outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Tremier

Tremier said that the fact that police have killed 5,000 more people in the last five years “really shows how the average citizen is looked at in this country. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white—I mean, it matters, but not only black people are killed by the police. So, it just shows how much we mean to the higher-ups. Not enough. We don’t mean very much.”

Both Kelly and Tremier said that they didn’t see any point in appealing to the government to stop police killings or solve any other social problem.

“They don’t listen to us in the first place!” said Kelly, “So what is the point? They’re up there, and we’re down here. It’s just like in the corporate world. The President‘s up there sitting in his big office, and we’re down here making him more money.”

Tremier explained that the experience of Obama’s first term had taught him a lesson. “When I voted for Obama [in 2008] it was because of history—him making history, and us making history. So many young people went out and voted for Obama. But after time, we all figured out that he was just what all the others are. He’s a face. He’s a puppet. He’s a politician. He proved to not be what he said he was going to be. And that’s why I didn’t vote for him a second time.

WSWS reporters raised with Ferguson residents the emergence of working-class struggle around the world: the Yellow Vest protests in France; the wildcat strike of sweatshop workers in Matamoros, Mexico; the hundreds of thousands opposing government oppression in Hong Kong; the ouster by mass protest of two governors this month in the US territory of Puerto Rico. By and large, residents were not aware of these developments due to a general media blackout but were very excited to learn about these developments.

“We need to rise up!” Tremier explained. His message to workers internationally: “Keep pushing and keep fighting! We are the vast majority, and if we were to rise up, we would make a great change throughout the world. So, don’t give up.”

The author also recommends:

Five years after police murder of Michael Brown: Police have killed 5,000 Americans since Ferguson protests
[10 August 2019]

New horseshoe bats species discoveries


This 16 March 2019 video from Australia says about itself:

Rescuing a horseshoe bat: this is Lentil

Lentil is an adult female Eastern Horseshoe Bat who was found hanging over a doorway for 24 hours. When she didn’t fly off, the MOP (member of public) called for rescue.

She has some damage to her wing membrane, which in a flying fox would probably be a death sentence, but microbats seem to be able to regenerate quite a lot of wing membrane after damage and fly again.

I don’t know what has caused the membrane damage; Lentil didn’t come with a case history and she hasn’t mentioned anything to us about her recent history.

She’s in care now with the Princess, who is great with micros and was delighted to care for an uncommon (to our city) little horseshoe bat.

You can see from the shape of her nose why she’s called a horseshoe bat. In 12 years I’ve never rescued a horseshoe bat in my territory. I don’t know if she’s come in on a truck from out in the country or how she got there. The MOPs haven’t been out of town in the last few weeks.

It’s possible that there are horseshoe bats in the area – Sydney is certainly within the geographical distribution area for horseshoe bats, it’s just that I haven’t heard about any being rescued in the city before. The house backs onto a golf course which is nicely treed.

Her name? I actually called her Lentil as Anything. She was quite cranky, and there is a rock band called Mental as Anything… and Lentil came from Lenthall Street.

The Princess says that’s an appalling name for a beautiful little batty, so she will, no doubt, rename her.

Generally horseshoe bats are cave dwellers but they will roost in tree hollows. They have short broad wings and low wing loading, which means they have slow highly manoeuvrable flight. They can hover, and move successfully in dense branches and shrubs. They can hang and catch their insect prey, or they can pursue their prey aerially. Their dominant food is moths but they’ll eat beetles, flies, crickets, bugs, cockroaches and wasps. (ref: Sue Churchill, Australian Bats, 2nd edition).

From the Field Museum in the USA:

There are way more species of horseshoe bats than scientists thought

August 22, 2019

Horseshoe bats are bizarre-looking animals with giant ears and elaborate flaps of skin on their noses that they use like satellite dishes. There are about a hundred different species of horseshoe bats — and that number is only going to grow. By studying the DNA of horseshoe bat specimens in museum collections, scientists have discovered that there are probably a dozen new species of horseshoe bat that haven’t been officially described yet.

If you’ve never seen a horseshoe bat, you’re missing out. Their comically large ears are only rivaled for wackiest feature by their nose leaves, little flaps of skin that spread outward from their faces like petals. If you grew up with siblings who would say, “That’s you”, when they saw an ugly creature on TV, they’d have a field day with horseshoe bats.

But while they have faces only a biologist could love, horseshoe bats have caught the interest of scientists studying the bat family tree. There are more than 100 recognized species of horseshoe bats, and researchers now believe that number could be still higher. In a study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, researchers from the Field Museum, National Museums of Kenya, and Maasai Mara University used gene sequencing to identify up to 12 new species of horseshoe bats. They also cast doubt on the validity of several recognized species.

MacArthur Curator of Mammals and senior author of the study Bruce Patterson says, to put it simply, “We found a lot more species than we thought were there.”

“Horseshoe bats are defined by the broad flap of skin on their upper lip. It serves as a radar dish for their echolocation calls,” says Patterson. “I think they’re totally bizarre and for students of biology that bizarreness is what makes them so fascinating.”

Terry Demos, post-doctoral researcher and lead author of the paper, also agrees that horseshoe bats are unique looking — “You could say there’s beauty in the elaborateness of the nose, I mean it is so intricate.”

The researchers wanted to study the bats because, despite being so rich in different species, little is known about their evolutionary history. East Africa has remained understudied, even though it’s one of the most diverse regions in the world. For centuries, colonialism meant that European researchers were the only people with access to the land. Patterson and Demos hope that studies like this one will help equip local scientists with the tools they need to research their own land. “We’re trying to understand evolutionary history in an understudied area,” says Demos, “while also building in-country resources.”

The research team examined hundreds of bat specimens from the collections at the Field Museum and National Museums of Kenya. Using small samples of tissue, they sequenced the bats’ DNA to see how closely related they were to each other, like 23AndMe testing on a species level.

The genetic similarities and differences between the bats suggested that some distinctive groupings could be new species. Some of these new species may be what scientists call “cryptic” — visually, they look very similar to species we already know about, but genetically, they’re different enough to be considered their own separate species. These cryptic species were hiding in plain sight in the museums’ collections, waiting to be discovered.

While the study did suggest that there are more species of horseshoe bat than previously imagined, new species will not be officially named until the team carries out the next part of their research. To designate a new species, researchers will need to examine the bats’ teeth and skulls to see how their physical traits differ. They’ll also need to compare the bats’ echolocation calls, since different bat species that live near each other often make their calls at different frequencies, like different channels on a walkie-talkie.

The researchers are excited by the possibilities that come with rewriting the horseshoe bat family tree. “The implications of this study are really countless,” says Patterson. “Bats eat insects that carry diseases, what are the implications of that? We can also use this to designate areas for conservation.”

A new study finds that the muscles in bats’ wings operate at a significantly lower temperature than their bodies, especially during flight: here.

What fossils are, video


This 22 August 2019 video says about itself:

Fossils 101 | National Geographic

Fossils are echoes of an ancient past. Find out about the two major categories of fossils, how fossilization occurs, and how fossils can help paint a picture of the planet’s history.