This 9 January 2020 video from the USA says about itself:
The media is lying to you! Ana Kasparian and Jayar Jackson, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.
“SINCE FRIDAY, a loud chorus of voices has appeared in the media to celebrate President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian Major General Qassim Suleimani, a move that has sparked renewed tension in the Middle East, a new deployment of U.S. forces, and predictions of increased military spending.
Many of the pundits who appeared on national television or were quoted in major publications to praise the president’s actions have undisclosed ties to the defense industry — the only domestic industry that stands to gain from increased violence.”
Read more here.
THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN In a just society, the architects of the ongoing, nearly 17-year-old war in Iraq — which has left an estimated half-million people dead — would face war crimes charges. Instead, they are the “experts” praising President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani and offering the public insight on the way forward with Iran. [HuffPost]
Trump – more Iran sanctions – urges NATO involvement: here.
This 2008 video says about itself:
African Grey Parrots in the Wild
Grey Parrots (Psittacus erythacus) foraging and flying in Cameroon, Africa. To help save wild grey parrots, please support us by clicking on the DONATE button and learn more about what we’re doing for these birds here.
African grey parrots spontaneously ‘lend a wing’
January 9, 2020
People and other great apes are known for their willingness to help others in need, even strangers. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on January 9 have shown for the first time that some birds — and specifically African grey parrots — are similarly helpful.
“We found that African grey parrots voluntarily and spontaneously help familiar parrots to achieve a goal, without obvious immediate benefit to themselves,” says study co-author Désirée Brucks of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany.
Parrots and crows are known for having large brains relative to the size of their bodies and problem-solving skills to match. For that reason, they are sometimes considered to be “feathered apes”, explain Brucks and study co-author Auguste von Bayern.
However, earlier studies showed that, despite their impressive social intelligence, crows don’t help other crows. In their new study, Brucks and von Bayern wondered: what about parrots?
To find out, they enlisted several African grey parrots and blue-headed macaws. Both parrot species were eager to trade tokens with an experimenter for a nut treat. But, their findings show, only the African grey parrots were willing to transfer a token to a neighbor parrot, allowing the other individual to earn a nut reward.
“Remarkably, African grey parrots were intrinsically motivated to help others, even if the other individual was not their friend, so they behaved very ‘prosocially'”, von Bayern says. “It surprised us that 7 out of 8 African grey parrots provided their partner with tokens spontaneously — in their very first trial — thus without having experienced the social setting of this task before and without knowing that they would be tested in the other role later on. Therefore, the parrots provided help without gaining any immediate benefits and seemingly without expecting reciprocation in return.”
Importantly, she notes, the African grey parrots appeared to understand when their help was needed. When they could see the other parrot had an opportunity for exchange, they’d pass a token over. Otherwise, they wouldn’t.
The parrots would help out whether the other individual was their “friend” or not, she adds. But, their relationship to the other individual did have some influence. When the parrot in need of help was a “friend”, the helper transferred even more tokens.
The researchers suggest the difference between African greys and blue-headed macaws may relate to differences in their social organization in the wild. Despite those species differences, the findings show that helping behavior is not limited to humans and great apes but evolved independently also in birds.
It remains to be seen how widespread helping is across the 393 different parrot species and what factors may have led to its evolution. The researchers say that further studies are required to investigate the underlying mechanisms of the parrots’ helping behavior. For instance, how do parrots tell when one of their peers needs help? And, what motivates them to respond?
This 6 January 2020 video says about itself:
Australia bush fires have affected over 1 billion animals, pushing many toward extinction
Australia’s iconic wild animals are being caught up in the nation’s months-long bush fire crisis, with many species now in danger of extinction. The South China Morning Post spoke with Christopher Dickman, an ecology professor at the University of Sydney, who estimates that more than 1 billion animals have been affected by the widespread fires.
Translated from Roel Pauw of Dutch NOS radio today:
“More than a billion animals will not survive forest fires in Australia”
Very carefully vet Jasmin Hunter and her assistants remove the bandage from the legs of a kangaroo. He is lying on a mattress with a towel over his head and is slightly numb. All forms of stress must be avoided. Whether he will make it is still uncertain.
“More than a billion animals will not survive the forest fires in Australia,” said Chris Dickman, professor of ecology at the University of Sydney. That number is actually many times greater because, eg, about frogs and bats we do not know how many occurred in the affected areas. They are therefore not included in the estimates. Just as little as fish, insects and other invertebrates.
Many animals die in the flames, or because of heat stress, and more thousands animals of will die in the coming weeks and months due to lack of food, because their habitat has also been lost. And according to Dickman, the decline will continue for years because, for example, old trees with possible nest cavities have been burned or fallen.
The ecologist fears that this catastrophe could mean the end for a number of rare animals with a small range. The long-footed potoroo, a small marsupial, is an example of this.
There are animals that have just managed to get to safety, but are injured. That is why Wires (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) volunteers drive into the scorched forests of Southwest Australia every day to look for them. According to Christie Jarrett, everything comes in such as birds, kangaroos, wallabies, snakes and squirrels.
Animals with damaged lungs, due to the inhalation of smoke and hot air, have been put to death and are given a syringe to put them to sleep. Animals with burn wounds are treated with great care. Complicated cases and animals classified as endangered go to one of the sites of the Taronga Zoo.
Uncertain whether an animal will survive
“In principle, every animal goes back to where it was found,” says Jarrett. “Sometimes that means that we have to feed it until nature has recovered. But that is not possible with all animals either. That does not work with koalas, for example. So it remains uncertainwhether an animal will ultimately survive, no matter how much time and energy we have there. have put in. ”
“Twenty years ago, scientists warned about this type of large, uncontrollable forest fire,” says Professor Dickman. “For twenty years all our advice has been ignored by politicians. I hope that after this disaster we will be invited again to talk about the policy.”
For Christie Jarrett, it starts with everyone acknowledging that climate change is a fact and that people need to change their behavior. “We need to protect those animals much better, because without them we wouldn’t be there in the end.”
This 6 January 2020 video says about itself:
Paul the koala makes miraculous recovery after rescue from Australian bushfire l GMA Digital
Paul was found burnt and barely alive in the ashes — but look at him now!
HOW TO HELP SUPPORT THE AUSTRALIAN WILDFIRES RELIEF EFFORT: here.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Thursday, January 9, 2020
Victoria state Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville described the demonstrations, set to take place in nine cities as “selfish and reckless,” with today expected to be a high fire danger day. …
But critics have accused the authorities of hypocrisy after the New South Wales state administration refused to cancel a huge New Year’s Eve firework display in Sydney.
Many of today’s protests have been organised under the slogan Sack Scomo – short for Scott Morrison – reflecting widespread anger at his handling of the fires.
“We’re protesting this Friday because we’re outraged about our government’s criminal negligence about the bushfire crisis, exacerbated by climate change,” said one group on Facebook.
“We are protesting to give a voice to the tens of thousands of people who want real action on climate change and real funding for relief services.”
They are organising around five key demands and calling on supporters to donate to fire relief efforts.
At least 27 people are known to have died in the fires and thousands have lost their homes. Millions of animals have also been killed.
This 8 January 2020 video from Australia says about itself:
AUSTRALIAN BUSHFIRE EMERGENCY: We are STILL on FIRE / Yasmin Scott
Didn’t feel like doing a video today. But the heartache of the destruction of what is STILL happening & we have been screaming & begging about climate change for YEARS I made this video.
AUSTRALIA ARSON MISINFORMATION UNDERMINES CLIMATE LINK Multiple Australian state police agencies have found limited evidence to suggest the major destructive wildfires in their states were ignited by arsonists, contradicting the international onslaught of misinformation suggesting otherwise. [HuffPost]
Lack of action on climate change leads to warmest decade ever recorded: here.
This 2014 video says about itself:
Morphed: When Whales had Legs
Examine the environmental pressures that turned a wolflike creature that hunted in shallow waters into a leviathan of the seas. We witness the ancient turning points in the whales’ evolutionary journey, and how the ice age became its unlikely savior.
From Nagoya University in Japan:
A ‘pivotal’ moment for understanding whale evolution
January 9, 2020
Scientists could soon better investigate the feeding behaviors of extinct dolphin and whale species. A third-year student at Japan’s Nagoya University has found that the range of motion offered by the joint between the head and neck in modern-day cetaceans, a group of marine mammals that also includes porpoises, accurately reflects how they feed. The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Anatomy, suggest this method could help overcome current limitations in extrapolating the feeding behaviors of extinct cetaceans.
Taro Okamura of Nagoya University and Shin-ichi Fujiwara of the Nagoya University Museum examined the skulls and cervical skeletons of 56 cetaceans that are still in existence, representing 30 different species. They assessed the range of motion of the ‘atlanto-occipital joint’ in each skeleton, a joint that forms between the base of the skull and the first cervical vertebra. They then categorized each cetacean according to their well-studied feeding behaviors, including how they approach their prey, move it within their oral cavities, and swallow it.
“We found that the range of neck-head flexibility strongly reflects the difference of feeding strategies among whales and dolphins,” says Okamura. “This index can be easily applied to reconstruct the feeding strategies of extinct whales and dolphins,” he adds.
Cetaceans are known for their diverse behaviors, physiologies, ecologies and diets. Some cetaceans feed on organisms in the open water, while others feed on those found near the ocean floor. Some whales are ram feeders, widely opening their mouths to gather zooplankton and other actively swimming organisms into their mouths while moving forward. Other whales, like the sperm whale, suction their prey into their oral cavities. The orca whale and some dolphins bite the fish they catch into smaller segments, a process that may require head movement. Other dolphins swallow their prey whole.
Until now, scientists have used the structures of teeth, throat bones and lower jaws in cetacean fossils to develop an idea of what their feeding behaviors might have looked like. But these individual features can’t accurately predict the behaviors of extinct cetaceans. For example, the teeth of some suction feeders, like those of the sperm whale, aren’t suggestive of this kind of feeding. Okamura and Fujiwara propose that using a combination of features, which include the range of motion of the atlanto-occipital joint, could help to develop more accurate descriptions of extinct cetacean feeding behaviors.
In prehistoric times, many different types of cetaceans existed, including ones with walrus-like tusks, extremely long snouts, and an ancient sperm whale with huge predatory teeth. The ancient baleen whale had teeth, whereas modern-day baleen whales have ‘baleen’, or fringed plates, in their place. This has created much interest in how baleen whale feeding, for example, has evolved from catching prey with teeth to filtering it with baleen.
The two researchers next plan to determine the atlanto-occipital joint range of motion in some of these cetacean fossils to attempt to develop reconstructions of how they used to feed. Answering these questions could help reveal the evolutionary process of the diverse feeding behaviors among cetaceans.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Thursday, January 9, 2020
President Emmanuel Macron’s political crisis continues to deepen
Despite the government claiming earlier this week that “a compromise has never looked closer”, the industrial action shows no sign of ending soon.
Leader of the moderate
originally Roman Catholic
CFDT union Laurent Berger contradicted the statement, saying on Wednesday night: “We are far from a deal.”
Workers are angered over Mr Macron’s plan to merge France’s 42 pension schemes into one single pot.
Unions warn that it would see people forced to work longer and receive less when they retire.
The reforms come with France under pressure from the European Union to curb public spending.
New structural deficit reduction plans of 0.1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) sit below previous targets and are out of line with the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact.
France’s deficit sits at 3.1 per cent of GDP, slightly higher than the EU limit of 3 per cent.
Pensions are under attack as the country’s publicly owned rail and transport industry must be offered to the private sector as open access arrives in 2020.
Mr Macron wants to loosen labour laws as he attempts to take apart Frances’s social model and welfare system.
But latest figures from an Odoxa poll for
Le Figaro newspaper found that 61 per cent of the French public support the strike.
CGT union general secretary Philippe Martinez hit out at the government’s “provocative attitude” to the strikes and cast doubt on its willingness to engage in discussions.
Speaking to Europe 1 radio, he said: “You stop a protest movement when workers feel their demands are on the table.
“We’ve had no response from the government.”
France rises up against Macron – Doctors, nurses, lawyers and teachers join 36th strike day: here.
This 2014 aquarium video says about itself:
A pair of my ‘next generation’ Cichlasoma dimerus are guarding a huge number of fry . . . all from a female about 3″ SL.
From the Florida Museum of Natural History in the USA:
Fish switch: Identity of mystery invader in Florida waters corrected after 20 years
January 8, 2020
Sometimes scientists make mistakes. Case in point is the chanchita, a South American freshwater fish that has been swimming in Florida’s waters for at least two decades, all the while identified by experts as another invader, the black acara.
Although the two species look strikingly similar, the black acara is tropical, a native of equatorial South America, while the subtropical chanchita isn’t typically found north of Southern Brazil. Because the chanchita is more cold-tolerant, researchers say it could have a more widespread impact in Florida than the black acara and could threaten native species in North Central Florida ecosystems.
“Even the professionals get it wrong,” said Robert Robins, Florida Museum of Natural History ichthyology collection manager. “The chanchita has been right here, right under our noses. It’s spread into seven different counties and five different river drainages in Florida, well beyond the Tampa Bay drainage where it appears to have been first introduced.”
Introduced by the pet trade, the black acara has been a well-known invader in the Miami area since the 1950s and is now common in South Florida. When a similar cichlid appeared in the waters draining into North Tampa Bay around 2000, scientists assumed the black acara was simply expanding its range or had been introduced a second time.
The misidentification was finally spotted by sharp-eyed amateur fish collectors as well as Mary Brown, a biologist who studies non-native fishes. Brown questioned Robins’ assertion that a specimen he brought home from holiday collecting near Tampa in 2017 was a black acara, Cichlasoma bimaculatum. Although the fish had the same general appearance, something wasn’t adding up.
“The body color and the pattern on the scales on its head just looked a little different,” said Brown, a scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Wetland and Aquatic Research Center. “It wasn’t the same as the black acara I’ve come across while conducting non-native fish surveys in South Florida.”
Meanwhile Ryan Crutchfield, founder of the fish identification database FishMap.org, was getting feedback from amateur collectors that he’d misidentified a fish as a black acara for an article on the history of the species in Florida. Crutchfield, Robins and Brown took a closer look at the specimens in question, eventually identifying them as the chanchita, Cichlasoma dimerus.
“I don’t think anyone except for the amateurs who have an interest in fishes of Florida thought twice about whether or not these fish were black acara,” Robins said. “They’re out there collecting stuff while quite honestly a lot of us are stuck behind our computers typing emails.”
Because of their hardiness and bright colors, cichlids are often coveted by aquarists. But with about 1,900 species — 20 of which are invasive in Florida — and constant revision to the family’s classification, cichlid identification becomes tricky, Robins said.
Robins said that life color, or how a fish appears in its environment, was likely an essential indicator to amateur collectors the chanchita had found its way to Central Florida. Cichlids can change color according to their surroundings, temperament and time of day. But the colorful variations between species disappear in a laboratory setting, where they’re often preserved in alcohol and lose nearly all coloration.
“When we started going out into the field and collecting them and actually finding them in breeding condition or as dominant males, they’re stunningly beautiful,” Robins said. “I think that’s what the amateur community was keying in on. They’re the ones detecting life color, and that was really instructive in determining this was a different species.”
Once the researchers determined the Tampa invader wasn’t a black acara, it came down to microscopic differences in physiology to identify the species as the chanchita. They relied on CT scanning to zoom in on the number of teeth in the specimen’s outer lower jaw and tiny fingerlike structures along the fish’s fourth gill arch.
The Florida Museum’s ichthyology collection was instrumental in providing insight into the chanchita’s invasion timeline, with specimens dating back 20 years. These specimens had been incorrectly cataloged as black acara, but were key indicators of when the chanchita colonized Central Florida, where the species formed reproducing populations as early as 2000.
Brown said non-native fish species like the chanchita have the potential to impact Florida’s aquatic ecosystems by outcompeting native fishes for habitat and food resources.
“Locating and identifying non-native fishes requires an interdisciplinary approach and coordination with partners from across the state,” she said. “This finding is leading us to look at other non-native fish species — it’s possible that there may be other fish out there that are misidentified, and properly identifying the species is critical for proper management.”
Florida is a welcoming arena for invaders to compete with native species and one another due to the state’s intersection of tropical and temperate climates. Constant invasions pose a challenge to conservationists and can often threaten already-endangered native species. Robins said Florida waters could be the chanchita’s first chance at meeting the black acara — and what happens afterward is anyone’s guess.
“Will they hybridize? Would it matter other than just making things more confusing? Are there other species of acara that have been let loose and established populations? What’s actually happening in the environment?” Robins said. “Florida’s aquatic ecosystems are, in a nutshell, one big experiment.”
This 9 January 2019 video says about itself:
Australian Wildfires Prove Denying Climate Change Won’t Save You From It
Climate scientist Michael Mann is in Australia, where the bushfire crisis is unfolding in real time. He says voters there need to look for ‘climate hawks‘ who can counteract the climate-denying policies of politicians like current prime minister Scott Morrison.
From the World Socialist Web Site in Australia:
Australian bushfire victims speak-out: “What is our government doing at the moment?”
By our reporters
9 January 2020
A WSWS reporting team recently spoke with residents from Balmoral, a village some 100 kilometres from Sydney, which is among the many communities ravaged by the intense bushfires of the past four months.
Balmoral has a population of just over 400 people and is southwest of Sydney, in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales. Between December 19 and December 21, the village was repeatedly hit by fires, resulting in the destruction of 22 houses, or 15 percent of all homes in the community. The area also suffered a widespread power outage.
The defence of the community depended almost exclusively on volunteer firefighters, with little or no assistance from state or federal authorities.
In April last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to hold a meeting with former fire chiefs who insisted that the states were not adequately prepared for the coming fire season and warned that the potential destruction could surpass previous years.
Morrison’s indifference is indicative of the attitude of the entire political establishment, including the opposition Labor Party. Successive federal and state Labor and Liberal-National governments have refused to adequately fund fire-fighting forces or carry out any measures to reduce global warming that may impinge on the profits of the major corporations. As a result, the Rural Fire Service in NSW lacks necessary resources and equipment.
The contrast between the responses of the government and that of ordinary people could not be starker. Workers and volunteers in Balmoral and around the country have courageously sought to defend the homes and lives of those around them. Many have taken weeks off from work, using up their sick leave and holidays to fight the fires. Volunteers have to purchase their own equipment if they want items such as proper fitting gas masks and portable radios.
Balmoral does not have a connection to the state water supply and relies on tanks and private reserves for water. So intense were the fires that the village ran out of water on December 21 and tanks were brought in from other towns to assist, but they quickly ran out as well. The experiences in Balmoral are a microcosm of the conditions facing communities across the country as a result of the current bushfires.
Brendan O’Connor is the Balmoral fire captain and works for the local council. He has taken at least four weeks off from work to fight the fires and called a meeting to warn residents of the fire danger and organise for people to evacuate.
O’Connor commented on the lack of payments for volunteers, stating: “There’s got to be something new. There’s thousands of firefighters on the ground every day and their businesses are suffering. I was supposed to be going to my niece’s wedding in Queensland in April but I don’t have holidays to do that now. It’s hard because we all want to do what we can, not only for our local community but for the greater community.”
The impact of the fires, he continued, “is a drain on every part of the nation, not only NSW, but we’re thinking, what is our government doing at the moment? The recovery is hard. Everything we have known and loved, most of it’s been turned upside down. About 90 percent of our bushland has gone now.”
As WSWS reporters were speaking to residents, a group of school students from the Sydney Children’s Choir gave a performance at the Balmoral fire station to raise money for one of their members and his family whose house had been incinerated. The children have raised almost $10,000 for the family, who are not insured.
Residents described how they have received multiple donations of food and water, including from a Lebanese community in Sydney who drove down to Balmoral with supplies.
Rosemary also lost her house and everything in it on December 21. She praised the firefighters and denounced the lack of resources provided to them by the government.
“The volunteers are supposed to have the most modern masks and gear and they don’t! It’s very frustrating. The prime minister said, the volunteers ‘want to be there’. These people want to save their community, that’s why they are here. That is no justification for them not being properly resourced and certainly no justification for us not to pay them,” she said. “Where in the world does this happen like it happens in Australia? We seem to take the volunteers for granted?
“They were even told to stand down and to leave the village but they wouldn’t go. In the end, other firefighters were stopped from coming in because the risk was too high. Later that night, when they finally did get through, I saw them speaking to Brendan, the captain, and crying because they tried to get here, and they couldn’t in time. It is very traumatic for lots of people.”
Referring to the 2009 Victorian bushfires that claimed 173 lives and destroyed over 2,000 homes, Rosemary said, “Did we learn anything from what happened in Melbourne? If they made recommendations it shouldn’t be for just one state, it’s a national issue.
“If the premier declared a state of emergency, why doesn’t she pull out all stops? We’ve seen a few suits come down to the station over the last week but they didn’t go and talk to anyone, they were just there for the camera. Politicians talk about fire plans and we are all supposed to have them but I’m not too sure that they had a very good fire plan. They didn’t plan for the worst-case scenario for this village. They just did the bare minimum.”
Rosemary and other residents were forced to take shelter in the local fire station. “The firie [firefighter] who had told me that they couldn’t save my house was standing there [in the station]… They walked me across the road and I saw my house burning down. And with what little water they had left they were trying to save the two houses on either side of mine. They [the authorities] didn’t even take into account that the village runs on tank water.
“The scariest part was being told to get some towels, wet them down and start covering the edges. I was telling myself ‘this isn’t good.’ Then the smoke started to come in and you looked up at the windows and it was just red. We could hear the fire and felt it and saw it coming towards the station. I’ve never felt so claustrophobic in my life.
“The generator went out, which not only operated the lights but also the sprinkler system on the roof. I heard that we had to be water bombed. It may well not have burnt down but I don’t know how well we would have survived with the smoke and the heat.”
Paul, a Balmoral resident, school principal and veteran firefighter who volunteered during the 2001 and 2013 fires said, “Nothing compares to what we saw. We were attacked by fire from every direction possible. It was determined to get us.”
“My plan was to stay at all costs. I had a sprinkler system on the house, I have a fire pump, and I had done preparation around the house. That would have worked if it was a normal bushfire but the conditions we had on Saturday were just unbelievable. I dread to think how high the flames were.
“At that point I thought this is not defendable so I went to plan B and jumped off the veranda, put the sprinkler system on, and ran up to the Landcruiser. As I drove up both sides of my driveway were on fire and that was within 20 seconds of the fire coming out of the gully.
“When you think about 140 houses and two trucks, the resources just aren’t there. I saw footage of choppers waiting their turn to drop their bucket into a dam and fill it up. On that Saturday afternoon, we ran out of water. There wasn’t enough to fight the fires.”
Paul, 51, described the frustration of many residents over the authorities’ failure to mitigate the effects of bushfires. “The fuel load in the bush was nearly knee-high so when you get really hot days and there’s a fire you can’t stop it. There’s only one way you can get rid of that fuel, you’ve got to burn, there’s absolutely no choice in that.
“I know people have been trying to burn for years, they have been approaching the local fire brigade, but they have to go further up the food chain, so in the end it’s bureaucracy and red tape preventing it happening.
“I’m disgusted with it. I’ve come this close to losing everything. I’ve lived in the surrounding district all my life and they always back burn. Every year the firies have their set routines but that doesn’t happen anymore. The last time would have been 10 years ago in Tahmoor…
“It’s a whole host of events all rolled into one creating catastrophic conditions, climate change, global warming, whatever they want to call it. We’ve been through tough times before but nothing like this. The size of fires is unprecedented. All the resources are stretched to breaking point.”