Reunion island amateur footballers beat French professionals


This 4 January 2020 French-language video is about the unexpected 2-1 victory by the Reunion island amateur footballers of Jeunesse Sportive Saint-Pierroise in their away match against the French professional team of Niort.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

You have football cup tournament fairy tales and football cup tournament fairy tales. Far in the Indian Ocean lies the beautiful island of Reunion east of Madagascar. And there is a club called Jeunesse Sportive Saint-Pierroise, which has sensationally reached the sixteenth finals of the Coupe de France.

The largest and most important cup tournament in France is open to all clubs affiliated with the Football Association, including those from overseas. Then you talk about more than seven and a half thousand participating teams, which are initially sorted by region. …

The amateurs of Saint-Pierroise won 2-1 on Saturday against second divisionist Niort, after a journey of more than nine thousand kilometers. Nearly a hundred fans traveled with the team. …

But the most famous football player on the island is without a doubt playmaker and 38-time [French national team] international Dimitri Payet, now a teammate of [Dutch player] Kevin Strootman at Olympique de Marseille.

The performance of the overseas team Saint-Pierroise is not yet unique. In 1989, a French Guiana club managed to reach the last 32 in the cup. At the time, Le Geldar was stopped by FC Nantes of the later world champions Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly.

Saint-Pierroise will hear on Monday evening just after 8.15 pm who the opponents will be in the next round. It might be Bordeaux or Strootman and Payet’s Olympique Marseille – that would be something.

This map shows how far the Reunion amateur footballers had to travel to France

This 4 January 2020 French-language video shows Reunion football fans watching the game on TV and rejoicing about the victory.

Prehistoric South Africans cooked vegetables


This 2015 video says about itself:

What Did Prehistoric Humans Actually Eat?

Ancient humans existed thousands of years ago, and they were very different than humans today! What did they eat?

Read more here. And here.

From the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa:

Early modern humans cooked starchy food in South Africa, 170,000 years ago

The discovery also points to food being shared and the use of wooden digging sticks to extract the plants from the ground

January 2, 2020

“The inhabitants of the Border Cave in the Lebombo Mountains on the Kwazulu-Natal/eSwatini border were cooking starchy plants 170 thousand years ago,” says Professor Lyn Wadley, a scientist from the Wits Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa (Wits ESI). “This discovery is much older than earlier reports for cooking similar plants and it provides a fascinating insight into the behavioural practices of early modern humans in southern Africa. It also implies that they shared food and used wooden sticks to extract plants from the ground.”

It is extraordinary that such fragile plant remains have survived for so long,” says Dr Christine Sievers, a scientist from the University of the Witwatersrand, who completed the archaeobotanical work with Wadley. The underground food plants were uncovered during excavations at Border Cave in the Lebombo Mountains (on the border of KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, and eSwatini [formerly Swaziland]), where the team has been digging since 2015. During the excavation, Wadley and Sievers recognised the small, charred cylinders as rhizomes. All appear to belong to the same species, and 55 charred, whole rhizomes were identified as Hypoxis, commonly called the Yellow Star flower. “The most likely of the species growing in KwaZulu-Natal today is the slender-leafed Hypoxis angustifolia that is favoured as food,” adds Sievers. “It has small rhizomes with white flesh that is more palatable than the bitter, orange flesh of rhizomes from the better known medicinal Hypoxis species (incorrectly called African Potato).”

The Border Cave plant identifications were made on the size and shape of the rhizomes and on the vascular structure examined under a scanning electron microscope. Modern Hypoxis rhizomes and their ancient counterparts have similar cellular structures and the same inclusions of microscopic crystal bundles, called raphides. The features are still recognisable even in the charred specimens. Over a four-year period, Wadley and Sievers made a collection of modern rhizomes and geophytes from the Lebombo area. “We compared the botanical features of the modern geophytes and the ancient charred specimens, in order to identify them,” explains Sievers.

Hypoxis rhizomes are nutritious and carbohydrate-rich with an energy value of approximately 500 KJ/100g. While they are edible raw, the rhizomes are fibrous and have high fracture toughness until they are cooked. The rhizomes are rich in starch and would have been an ideal staple plant food. “Cooking the fibre-rich rhizomes would have made them easier to peel and to digest so more of them could be consumed and the nutritional benefits would be greater,” says Wadley.

Wooden digging sticks used to extract the plants from the ground

“The discovery also implies the use of wooden digging sticks to extract the rhizomes from the ground. One of these tools was found at Border Cave and is directly dated at circa 40,000 years ago,” says co-author of the paper and co-director of the excavation, Professor Francesco d’Errico, (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université de Bordeaux, France and University of Bergen, Norway). Dr Lucinda Backwell (Instituto Superior de Estudios Sociales, ISES-CONICET, Tucumán, Argentina) also co-authored the paper and was a co-director of the excavation.

The plants were cooked and shared

The Hypoxis rhizomes were mostly recovered from fireplaces and ash dumps rather than from surrounding sediment. “The Border Cave inhabitants would have dug Hypoxis rhizomes from the hillside near the cave, and carried them back to the cave to cook them in the ashes of fireplaces,” says Wadley. “The fact that they were brought back to the cave rather than cooked in the field suggests that food was shared at the home base. This suggests that the rhizomes were roasted in ashes and that, in the process, some were lost. While the evidence for cooking is circumstantial, it is nonetheless compelling.”

Discoveries at Border Cave

This new discovery adds to the long list of important finds at Border Cave. The site has been repeatedly excavated since Raymond Dart first worked there in 1934. Amongst earlier discoveries were the burial of a baby with a Conus seashell at 74,000 years ago, a variety of bone tools, an ancient counting device, ostrich eggshell beads, resin, and poison that may once have been used on hunting weapons.

The Border Cave Heritage Site

Border Cave is a heritage site with a small site museum. The cave and museum are open to the public, though bookings are essential [Olga Vilane (+27) (0) 72 180 4332]. Wadley and her colleagues hope that the Border Cave discovery will emphasise the importance of the site as an irreplaceable cultural resource for South Africa and the rest of the world.

About Hypoxis angustifolia

Hypoxis angustifolia is evergreen, so it has visibility year-round, unlike the more common deciduous Hypoxis species. It thrives in a variety of modern habitats and is thus likely to have had wide distribution in the past as it does today. It occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, south Sudan, some Indian Ocean islands, and as far afield as Yemen. Its presence in Yemen may imply even wider distribution of this Hypoxis plant during previous humid conditions. Hypoxis angustifolia rhizomes grow in clumps so many can be harvested at once. “All of the rhizome’s attributes imply that it could have provided a reliable, familiar food source for early humans trekking within Africa, or even out of Africa,” said Lyn Wadley. Hunter-gatherers tend to be highly mobile so the wide distribution of a potential staple plant food would have ensured food security.

United States war veteran against Trump’s Iran/Iraq war


This 5 January 2019 video from the USA is called Veteran Speaks At “No War On Iran” Rally Los Angeles.

So, after the Vietnam war Veteran in New York City, another veteran from the opposite side of the USA fighting for peace.

TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN ON THREATS President Donald Trump doubled down on his claim that the United States military has the right to target Iranian cultural sites, dismissing concerns from the public and even from his own administration that he would be committing a war crime by doing so. [HuffPost]

HOUSE TO VOTE ON RESOLUTION TO CURB TRUMP’S WAR POWERS “As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe,” Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to House Democrats following an escalation in tensions with Iran. “We are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.” [HuffPost]

IRAQI PARLIAMENT VOTES TO EXPEL FOREIGN TROOPS The Sunday vote came after Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi advised parliament to expel the troops in response to the Trump-ordered assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. [HuffPost]

BORDER AUTHORITIES DENY DETAINING IRANIAN-AMERICANS U.S. Customs and Border Protection is denying reports that the agency has refused entry to some Iranian-Americans and detained others. “Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false,” a spokesperson for CBP told HuffPost. [HuffPost]

Hyenas not good tree climbers


This 2019 video from South Africa says about itself:

Sometimes you just have to stick to your day-job! In this incredible video of hyenas feeding in a tree, we see why hyenas are not exactly known for their climbing ability.

44-year-old chef, Steven Hayley from the United Kingdom shared his spectacular sighting with LatestSightings.com, and told us more about the one in a lifetime experience!

“It was a late September afternoon on the H7 near Satara where I watched a leopard feeding on an impala carcass in a tree. Knowing that leopards usually revisit their kills, I returned at first light in hope to find the leopard in its same spot still feeding. I did not see the leopard but noticed two hyenas below the tree trying to figure out a way to get to what was left of the carcass.”

“A few more cars joined me at the sighting spot, hoping to get a glimpse of the leopard, but the leopard was not around, so some of the cars continued on their way and I remained stationary with another lovely South African couple who ended up sharing some food with me. After about 20 minutes spent waiting, we were finally rewarded when one of the hyenas started climbing up the tree to get the carcass. You very rarely see hyenas climb anything at all so this was extremely exciting! The hyena got to the carcass and started feeding while also simultaneously trying to keep the second hyena from getting his share of the meal.”

“I was shocked at this sighting and I don’t believe almost anyone has ever seen this before, and that includes guides and rangers that I spoke to after this event! I was so intrigued. I watched the amazing thought process of this brave hyena as it contemplated its strategy of how to dislodge the carcass from the tree. It kept at its attempts and even after it fell from the tree it got straight back up to try again and I found this unbelievable especially after such a heavy fall from quite a fair height!”

“Eventually the hyena came back down the tree to assess the situation from below of how best to get the meal on the ground, but he wasn’t sure. The two hyenas ended up fighting for the scraps that had fallen to the ground and finally gave up and left. I believe that this is the rarest sighting I’ve ever had in the Kruger and I think the footage can speak for itself! This was simply incredible.”

Boris Johnson, Trump’s Iran/Iraq war poodle


War is not the answer

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Sunday, January 5, 2020

All efforts must be made to stop war with Iran

OUR Foreign Secretary declares Britain is “on the same page” as a US government whose extrajudicial killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and a host of others has brought the world to the brink of war.

“On the same page” as a US President who publicly declares he intends to target Iranian “cultural sites”, despite this being a war crime under the Hague Convention and one unanimously condemned by the UN security council just three years ago in response to the widespread destruction of ancient monuments by the Isis terror group.

“On the same page” as Washington’s military despite killing Soleimani on Iraqi territory being a shameless breach of its supposed alliance with Baghdad — one which has prompted Iraq’s parliament to demand the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from its country.

Dominic Raab claims to want to avoid a war. So for that matter does Donald Trump, who ludicrously asserts that he ordered Soleimani’s killing to stop one. But the uproar sweeping the Middle East in the wake of this outrageous breach of international law will be difficult to contain.

Trump pointing to Iranian repression of peaceful protesters in recent weeks, claims by Mike Pompeo that ordinary Iraqis will celebrate Soleimani’s death, are deeply misleading.

It is true that Iran put down popular protests with great savagery; but the arbitrary murder of one of its most senior military officers is clearly sparking popular fury on the streets of its great cities.

Mass protest movements in Lebanon and Iraq, which were indeed opposed to Iranian influence associated with their corrupt governments, will now find their democratic struggle faces threats of subversion in the interests of foreign powers.

Despite issuing inevitable threats of “severe revenge”, Iran has so far confined its specific response to hints it will further breach the terms of the international treaty on nuclear development that the US has in any case already rejected.

International pressure for de-escalation is vital if a new Middle Eastern war likely to take millions of lives and ruin millions more is to be avoided: but Britain will not assist that process by parroting US warnings to Iran not to retaliate like a playground bully’s weedy sidekick.

Trump’s reckless action puts British lives in danger as well as Iranian, Iraqi and US ones, and this is an escalation the whole world can see comes from the White House and nowhere else, the same White House that tore up the nuclear deal and shredded landmark arms limitation treaties with Russia that signalled an end to the cold war, the same White House that has been trying for a year to impose an unelected puppet as president of Venezuela and which stood behind the brutal military takeover in Bolivia last month.

In short the same White House that is the biggest threat to peace and security on the planet, including in its role as denier-in-chief of the climate change catastrophe we are now seeing unfolding in Australia on an apocalyptic scale.

While a number of Labour leadership hopefuls cautiously distance themselves from the radical manifesto presented at last month’s general election (most of them, ironically, prominent supporters of the ultra-Remain tendency that by any measure did Labour far more damage than pledges to provide free broadband or renationalise water) it is hard not to feel grateful that as this crisis develops Labour is still led by an anti-imperialist who has called out US belligerence.

Jeremy Corbyn’s demands the privy council urgently meet to see how war can be avoided contrast with the radio silence from a Prime Minister who can’t be bothered to cut short his Christmas holiday in the Caribbean.

Other leading Labour figures have also stepped up to the plate, noting the urgency of building an anti-war movement. As over 80 demonstrations against war in the US alone this weekend demonstrate, the world agrees.

No war on Iran.