German ‘center’ right-extreme right one-day-only government

This 5 February 2020 video says about itself:

Germany: Anti-fascists oppose new AfD-backed Thuringia premier

Hundreds of anti-fascists protested outside Thuringia’s parliament building in Erfurt on Wednesday, only two hours after electing Thomas Kemmerich as the new State Prime Minister.

Kemmerich was supported by his own party, the [pro Big Business] Free Democrats (FDP), by the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which threw all of its weight behind him in the third round of voting.

The ruling coalition in the German state of Thuringia, constituted of the Die Linke, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green party, saw its candidate and the incumbent for state premier Bodo Ramelow lose by a single vote.

The migrant and asylum seekers supporting organisation Pro Asyl tweeted that the result of the election was “horrifying” and a “taboo breaker”.

On their official Twitter page, Die Linke accused the FDP of believing that it was “better to rule with fascists than not to rule at all.” …

Thuringia held its state election in October last year. The ruling party Die Linke won the highest share of the votes with 31 per cent, while the AfD doubled its own share and came second with 23.4 per cent. The FDP barely cleared the 5 per cent hurdle required to entire the regional parliament.

One of the signs in this video said: ‘I’d rather be a hog than a nazi‘.

The protests have worked.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Thomas Kemmerich of the German liberal FDP has resigned his position as Prime Minister of the Land of Thuringia. Yesterday, 54-year-old Kemmerich was elected with support from the right-wing AfD, to the dismay of many Germans.

Kemmerich and his colleagues from the FDP have requested the dissolution of the parliament. The party wants new regional elections. …

Indignant responses

The election of Kemmerich as prime minister led to indignant reactions throughout Germany. National party leaders from all walks of life condemned the – indirect – cooperation with the AfD as a ‘taboo break’. People took to the streets in at least six cities. Hundreds of protesters gathered at the headquarters of the FDP in Berlin, speaking with slogans such as “Who betrayed us? The Free Democrats” and “Never again fascism“. …

Bodo Ramelow posted a photo on Twitter that made the comparison between yesterday’s election and the support that Adolf Hitler received in 1930.

In German media, many comparisons were made with the 1930s. “For the first time in post-war history, a head of government has come to power again with the support of a radical right-wing party,” wrote Der Spiegel. The chief editor of the ZDF called it “history denial”. He referred to the 1930s, when a government came to power in Thuringia with the help of the NSDAP [of Hitler]. “Buchenwald end station”, says Frey.

By Christoph Vandreier in Germany, 7 February 2020:

For the first time since the end of the Third Reich, a state premier was elected on Wednesday with the votes of a far-right, fascist party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD). An alliance of three parties, the AfD, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the neo-liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), enabled FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich to assume the highest political post in the state of Thuringia … Twenty-two of the 45 votes for the new premier came from members of the AfD, the second-largest parliamentary group in the state.

Due to enormous protests all over the country, Kemmerich announced on Thursday that he would resign. But until now he has refused to actually step down and thus still remains the first state premier to base himself on the votes of the fascists. It is unclear whether the parliament in Thuringia will dissolve itself and clear the way for new elections or if it will vote in another state premier. Kemmerich could remain in office for months to come.

Twenty-four hours after being elected with the support of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), Christian Democrats (CDU), and Free Democrats (FDP) as Minister President of the state of Thuringia, Free Democrat politician Thomas Kemmerich announced his resignation. Kemmerich stated at a press conference Thursday afternoon that his party’s parliamentary group had decided to table a motion to dissolve parliament. If the required two-thirds of deputies fail to support the measure, he would call for a confidence vote in his government. … The Social Democrats (SPD) called for a meeting today of the coalition committee, which regulates disputes within the federal government. “What happened in Thuringia was a cold, calculated plan,” SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil told Spiegel Online. Both CDU leader Kramp-Karrenbauer and the FDP’s Lindner were well aware of the various potential scenarios, he added. Until now, a consensus has existed—“no cooperation with Nazis.” This has now been called into question, continued Klingbeil: here.

MERKEL’S SUCCESSOR TO QUIT AFTER VOTE FIASCO German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s designated successor will quit her role as head of Germany’s strongest party and won’t stand for the chancellorship following a debacle in a regional election. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer informed the conservative Christian Democratic Union that she will begin organizing a leadership contest in the summer. [AP]


Australian ants stopping greenhouse gases?

This 2015 video is about Camponotus terebrans ants.

From the University of South Australia:

Sugar ants’ preference for urine may reduce greenhouse gas emissions

February 6, 2020

An unlikely penchant for urine is putting a common sugar ant on the map, as new research from the University of South Australia shows their taste for urine could play a role in reducing greenhouse gases.

Led by wildlife ecologist Associate Professor Topa Petit, the Kangaroo Island-based research found that sugar ants prefer urine over sugar — the food source after which they’re named — nocturnally foraging on it to extract nitrogen molecules, some of which could end up in the greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.

The Australian-first study compared the behaviours of sugar ants (Camponotus terebrans) as they were exposed to different concentrations of urine (human and kangaroo ~ 2.5 per cent urea), sugar water (20 per cent and 40 per cent), and urea in water (at 2.5 per cent; 3.5 per cent; 7 per cent and 10 per cent), finding that sugar ants were most attracted to higher concentrations of urea, mining them for long periods within a dry sand substrate.

While other ants are known to be attracted to urine, this is the first time that ants have been observed mining dry urine from sand, and for a long period of time.

Assoc Prof Petit says the curious discovery could play a role in nitrogen cycling.

“When I first noticed the ants swarming to scavenge urine, it was purely by accident. But under research conditions we found that the ants determinedly mined urea patches night after night with greater numbers of ants drawn to higher urea concentrations,” Assoc Prof Petit says.

“Camponotus terebrans are undoubtedly looking for urea in urine because, similar to certain other ant species, a bacterium in their digestive tract allows them to process urea to get nitrogen for protein.

“This remarkable ability to extract urea from dry sand not only shows how sugar ants can survive in arid conditions, but also, how they might reduce the release of ammonia from urine, which leads to the production of nitrous oxide, a highly active greenhouse gas.”

Nitrous oxide (NO2) is a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And while less abundant than carbon dioxide emissions, its presence in the atmosphere has increased substantially over the past decade, accelerated mostly by the widespread use of fertilisers.

Assoc Prof Petit says that while there is still a lot to learn about the foraging behaviours of sugar ants, the study shows a symbiotic relationship between ants and vertebrates such as kangaroos in dry environments, and evidence of the nitrogen cycle at work.

“The ability of sugar ants to thrive in dry, sandy environments and use sources of nitrogen that may not be available to other species is impressive. It may give them a competitive advantage by allowing them to feed more offspring and therefore increase their numbers,” Assoc Prof Petit says.

“Researchers working on ants as bio-indicators on grazed and ungrazed lands should take ants’ ability to process urea into account, because large amounts of urine will probably affect the assortment of ant species in the area. It would also be interesting to investigate how much ants may modify the urine ammonia volatilises from paddocks.

“This is not the last we will hear about these sugar ants — they could open up a whole new field of research.”

Iowa Democratic establishment recounts, to stop Sanders

This 6 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

BREAKING: DNC Announces Iowa Recount

The Young Turks’ Emma Vigeland reports on DNC Chair Tom Perez’s decision to initiate a recanvass of the Iowa results.

This 6 February 2020 video about the USA says about itself:

DNC Chair Tom Perez Wants Iowa Caucus Recanvass Because Bernie Sanders is About to Win

Just a few minutes ago, DNC Chair Tom Perez tweeted out that the Iowa Democratic Party should do an immediate recanvass of the Iowa Caucus results. But Tom Perez is only doing this right now because the results from the Iowa Caucuses are showing that Bernie Sanders has erased Pete Buttigieg‘s state delegate equivalent lead, and the DNC doesn’t want Bernie Sanders to be able to claim victory in Iowa for as long as possible, because they want to stop him

Now, there are reports saying Pete Buttigieg complained to Tom Perez about the satellite caucuses where Bernie Sanders did well.

This shows how terrified the Democratic establishment is of Bernie, and how Bernie needs to win every state by as many votes as possible to prevent further shenanigans.

THE APP at the centre of the chaos around the US Democrats’ Iowa caucus is owned by a billionaire backer of nominee Pete Buttigieg, it emerged today, raising concerns that the party’s elite are trying to rig the vote. … According to a report on the Grayzone website, the app developer — Shadow Inc — is “staffed by Hillary Clinton … campaign veterans and created by a Democratic dark-money non-profit [company] backed by hedge-fund billionaires including [Buttigieg campaign donor] Seth Klarman”: here.

Wasps help ancient Australian rock art research

This 2012 video says about itself:

This is a short video about a few of the rock art paintings of the Bradshaw (aka Gwion Gwion) and Wandjina styles that we found in Emma Gorge on El Questro Station in Western Australia. Our video is neither a comprehensive nor professional production. Our purpose in creating it was to supplement what we wrote about it on our website, and to share the visual pleasure of the art, and our excitement in finding it.

From the University of Melbourne in Australia:

Wasp nests used to date ancient Kimberley rock art

12,000-year-old Aboriginal rock art from the Kimberley region, Western Australia,

February 6, 2020

Mud wasp nests have helped establish a date for one of the ancient styles of Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley.

University of Melbourne and ANSTO scientists put the Gwion Gwion art period around 12,000 years old.

“This is the first time we have been able to confidently say Gwion style paintings were created around 12,000 years ago,” said PhD student Damien Finch, from the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne. “No one has been able to present the scientific evidence to say that before.”

One wasp nest date suggested one Gwion painting was older than 16,000 years, but the pattern of the other 23 dates is consistent with the Gwion Gwion period being 12,000 years old.

The rock paintings, more than twice as old as the Giza Pyramids, depict graceful human figures with a wide range of decorations including headdresses, armbands, and anklets. Some of the paintings are as small as 15cm, others are more than two metres high.

The details of the breakthrough are detailed in the paper 12,000-year-old Aboriginal rock art from the Kimberley region, Western Australia, now published in Science Advances.

More than 100 mud wasp nests collected from Kimberley sites, with the permission of the Traditional Owners, were crucial in identifying the age of the unique rock art.

“A painting beneath a wasp nest must be older than the nest, and a painting on top of a nest must be younger than the nest,” Mr Finch said. “If you date enough of the nests, you build up a pattern and can narrow down an age range for paintings in a particular style.”

Lack of organic matter in the pigment used to create the art had previously ruled out radiocarbon dating. But the University of Melbourne and ANSTO scientists were able to use dates on 24 mud wasp nests under and over the art to determine both maximum and minimum age constraints for paintings in the Gwion style.

The project was initiated by Professor Andy Gleadow and Professor Janet Hergt, from the School of Earth Sciences, and started in 2014 with funding from the Australian Research Council and the Kimberley Foundation. It is the first time in 20 years scientists have been able to date a range of these ancient artworks.

“The Kimberley contains some of the world’s most visually spectacular and geographically extensive records of Indigenous rock art, estimated to include tens of thousands of sites, only a small fraction of which have been studied intensively,” said Professor Gleadow.

Professor Hergt said being able to estimate the age of Gwion art is important as it can now be placed into the context of what was happening in the environment and what we know from excavations about other human activities at the same time.

Dr Vladimir Levchenko, an ANSTO expert in radiocarbon dating and co-author, said rock art is always problematic for dating because the pigment used usually does not contain carbon, the surfaces are exposed to intense weathering and nothing is known about the techniques used thousands of years ago.

“Beeswax or resin have also been used — usually on more modern samples,” Dr Levchenko said.

“Although soil is full of carbon, most of it is easily degradable. However, charcoal is more likely to survive for longer periods. There is lots of black carbon in Australian soil because of bushfires.”

Giant seed shrimp on video

This November 2019 video says about itself:

Weird and Wonderful: The giant seed shrimp looks like a swimming orange ping-pong ball

Ostracods are a class of crustaceans, sometimes known as seed shrimp. The deep-sea giant ostracod, Gigantocypris, is 30 times bigger than regular ostracods. Its body resembles a shrimp but is completely encased within a clamshell-like carapace. It lives in the midwater and is nearly neutrally buoyant. It swims by rowing its long, feathery antennae, which are also used for feeding. Its eyes are enormous and shaped like parabolic mirrors to help spot bioluminescent prey in the dark ocean depths. It broods its embryos inside the carapace until they are quite large and well-developed.

Video editor: Ted Blanco
Writer: Kyra Schlining
Production team: Nancy Barr, Nancy Jacobsen Stout, Heidi Cullen

Kill socialists, United States Republican politician says

This 4 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

A Republican lawmaker in Montana claims the Constitution calls for socialists to be shot and jailed

A Montana state legislator is facing backlash after claiming that the Constitution calls for socialists to be shot and jailed. State Rep. Rodney Garcia, who represents the Billings area, asked an unprompted question after a speech by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at a state Republican Party gathering Saturday, according to the Billings Gazette. Advertisement: In his question, Garcia raised his concerns about socialists “entering our government” and claimed that they were “everywhere” in Billings. According to the lawmaker, the Constitution says socialists should be either shot or jailed. (It does not).

By Bryan Dyne in the USA:

Montana state representative calls for socialists to be shot

6 February 2020

Montana State Representative Rodney Garcia has called for socialists to be shot. His statement was made in Helena January 31 during the kickoff meeting for the state Republican election campaigns.

When asked Saturday by a reporter from the Billings Gazette to clarify his remarks, Garcia doubled down, claiming, “So actually in the Constitution of the United States (if) they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot.” He continued “They’re enemies of the free state. What do we do with our enemies in war? In Vietnam, (Afghanistan), all those. What did we do?”

While Garcia did not name anyone in particular, his diatribe was no doubt in part directed against Amelia Marquez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and his opponent in the 2018 state election in District 52, in the city of Billings. Marquez has made no mention of Garcia’s comments on her official candidate Facebook page, and neither she, the DSA nor the Montana Democratic Party responded when contacted by the WSWS about whether or not they feared violence incited by Garcia against their former candidate.

Garcia’s threats of violence come in the context of mounting attacks on socialists by Republican politicians. New York Representative Elise Stefanik recently attacked her state’s Democrats as “far-left” for their “horrible and dangerous agenda.” Iowa Senator Joni Ernst trumpeted during her first reelection campaign meeting that America is “under attack” by the “radical left” spreading “socialism … from coast to coast.” For their part, the Montana Republicans warn on their website of a “take-over” by liberals that will “turn America into a socialist nation.”

These sentiments have been most loudly espoused by President Donald Trump, who regularly denounces socialism in his campaign rallies, and included such a diatribe in his State of the Union address last year and again on Tuesday night. Trump appeared at a Republican campaign rally in Billings in September 2018, where he made his usual appeals to the ultra-right over immigration, gun rights and abortion, among other issues, while supporting both state-wide candidates like Matt Rosendale, who was defeated by incumbent Democratic Senator Jon Tester, and local candidates like Garcia.

Trump has also tweeted support for numerous right-wing gatherings, including the gun-rights rally held in Richmond, Virginia in January and the fascistic march in Charlottesville in 2017. After anti-fascist counter-demonstrator Heather Heyer was murdered by a neo-Nazi at the Charlottesville event, Trump declared that the far-right marchers were “very fine people.”

The leadership of the Montana Republican Party responded to Garcia’s remarks by calling for his resignation. In a letter signed by Speaker of the House Greg Hertz, Speaker Pro Tempore E. Wylie Galt and House Majority Leader Brad Tschida, the state party leadership wrote, “Your actions have irreparably undermined the body in which you serve and irrevocably broken the trust of those you were elected to represent.”

That is to say that they are not concerned as much with what was said, but how it will be perceived by working-class voters in the coming elections. Their indifference is underscored by the fact that there will be no formal action against Garcia for inciting violence against political opponents. Hertz claimed that it would cost $50,000 to call a special session of the Montana legislature in order to sanction the fascistic representative. Nor did the Montana Republicans respond to a question from the WSWS as to why they condemned Garcia’s remarks and not similar calls for violence made by Trump.

Garcia, 64, was previously a state representative in 1985-87 before going on to work in Montana’s oil fields. Garcia has cited the reduction of jobs in the Bakken Formation as one of the main reasons tax revenue has decreased in the state. He ran in 2014 and 2016 for state senator in different Billings seats and is again currently running for state senator, using his election campaign to legitimize his threats of violence. Garcia stated to the Associated Press, “I’m going to run for the Senate and I’m going to win. People are going to have to eat their words.”

In previous election cycles, he was forced to return a $3,000 illegal campaign contribution and was widely criticized for accusing the state’s Child Protective Services of kidnapping children. He also attempted to have the state of Montana raise $500 million to buy the aging four-unit coal-burning Colstrip power plant. It was likely that it would then be sold to NorthWestern Energy, which wanted the cost of the plant reduced by $300 million. He has also been arrested and convicted for a domestic dispute involving his ex-wife.