Kea parrot intelligence, new research


This 3 March 2020 video says about itself:

The parrots that understand probabilities

Kea, a type of parrot from New Zealand, have been surprising scientists with their smart predictions. Researchers set them a series of intelligence tests based around probabilities and social cues. They found that kea can perform better than monkeys, showing abilities only previously seen in great apes such as humans and chimpanzees.

Read the paper here.

Caribbean lizards evolution, new research


This 8 March 2020 video says about itself:

How Lizards are Turning Our Knowledge of Evolution Upside Down

Lizard biologists in the Caribbean have observed a fascinating phenomenon: different lizard species across different islands appear to share specific physical traits. But how, if they’ve never been in contact?

Jesse Jackson supports Bernie Sanders for president


This 8 March 2020 video about the USA says about itself:

Jesse Jackson Endorses Bernie Sanders: “Our Needs Are Not Moderate

Earlier today in Michigan the Reverend [former Democratic party presidential candidate] Jesse Jackson endorsed Bernie Sanders, arguing that his path for progressive economic and social justice was the only one to bring equality to the most marginalized people in the United States. As Jesse Jackson noted, [so called] moderate politics won’t bring justice for black Americans ever.

This also matters because Bernie Sanders in the 1980s endorsed Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, which in many ways tried to do what Bernie is doing: build a multiracial working-class coalition to challenge the status quo.

Meanwhile, Kamala Harris has endorsed Joe Biden, despite the fact that she has rightfully called out his backward views with regard to racial equality.

Her endorsement was cynical; Jesse Jackson’s was genuine.

Molson Coors corporation not compensating massacre survivors


This 27 February 2020 video from Wisconsin in the USA says about itself:

The shooting at Molson Coors makes at least 11 mass shootings in Wisconsin since 2004; at least five have taken place in southeast Wisconsin.

By Jacob Crosse in the USA:

Following Milwaukee brewery shooting, Molson Coors starts a GoFundMe for victims’ families

7 March 2020

Nearly two weeks have passed since a deadly shooting at the Milwaukee Molson Coors brewery left six workers including the gunman, Anthony Ferrill, 51, dead. Three of the victims were power operators at the brewery, Jesus Valle Jr., 33, of Milwaukee, employed since 2014, Gennady “Gene” Levshetz, 61, of Mequon, who started in 2008 and Trevor Wetselaar, 33, of Milwaukee, with the brewery since 2018. The two other victims were Dana Walk, 57, of Delafield, a machinist with the brewery since 2004 and finally, Dale Hudson, 60, of Waukesha, an electrician with the brewery since 2008.

Operations at the brewery were suspended for five days and resumed Monday evening. As many of the 1,400 workers returned to the brewery to begin their shift they were greeted by armed security agents and police. Workers have been subjected to bag checks and increased security screenings before entering the facility.

In response to the shooting the multinational brewing conglomerate Molson Coors, with revenue exceeding $10 billion last year, set up a “victims fund” on the website GoFundMe.com for the families whose husbands, father and brothers were killed while on the job. Millions of workers in the US are forced to rely on crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe to pay for everything from car repairs to medical costs, school supplies, and in this case, funeral expenses.

The initial goal for the fund was $1 million, with the company providing $500,000 and the rest expected to be raised by the general population. As of right now, the fund stands at just over $1.1 million, which is just over half of what the city of Milwaukee gave to the company last year to “refurbish empty office buildings”, and less than one-quarter of the $4.3 milllion compensation package given to Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersly last year, according to salary.com.

News of the company starting a GoFundMe was met with justified scorn and derision on social media. Several commenters pointed out the hypocrisy of a giant conglomerate shaking down the population for money to help pay for the consequences of deaths suffered while on the job.

“It’s publicity. They’re 100% aware that their insurance will be paying out with lawsuits. This will get families through until then. They’re sure as hell not going to give away any more shareholder cash than that. It’s a corporation. Employees don’t matter—shareholders do,” remarked Facebook user Valerie Ray. “This is a multi-billion dollar company. Why did they not pull off a few million from executives pay,” commented Thomas Reilly. …

Several media reports have reported that a noose was found on Ferrill’s locker five years ago, 2015, while Ferrill was not at work. While Ferrill, who was African-American, was alerted to the incident, he had not filed any discrimination complaints with the company …

The Milwaukee police, while emphasizing that they are still in the process of investigating, have pushed back against this racial motive of the shooting, stating that “neither race nor racism has been identified as a factor,” and that the department “is not aware of any of the victims targeted in the mass shooting being involved in any inappropriate or racist behavior toward the suspect.” …

Probably not the victims. But, if indeed racism, by others, caused Ferrill’s mental breakdown, then it is not any excuse for massacring people. But then, the corporate responsibility for a racist atmosphere, making them co-responsible for the mass murder, makes it even more cynical that Molson Coors lets the general public pay to the victims’ relatives.

Ferrill had been in the military, the United States Coast Guard. Had that contributed to his mental problems?

While reported in several articles, less emphasis has been placed on the fact that Ferrill, in conversations with his neighbor over the years, showed signs of severe anxiety and expressed fear that the company was spying on him. Ferrill was working more than 50 hours a week before the shooting.

Like most electricians, Ferrill was forced to work in a combination of cramped, crowded spaces or high up in rafters on ladders performing his various tasks. The enormous brewery, with its several flights of stairs and multiple buildings, meant that a typical day required walking miles between jobs, while carrying tools and supplies. In June 2015, Ferrill injured his shoulder after falling off a ladder and was forced to take time off to recover. In addition, he applied to be put on a restricted work status.

After his injury, Ferrill reported to his neighbor, Erna Roenspies that the company had sent “spies” to his home and were watching him to catch him in an act that would allow them to deny him any workers compensation. Ferrill advised his neighbor that company spies were always watching him. Roenspies recalled a recent incident to CBS 58 in which Ferrill pointed out to her a car that was parked outside, advising her that the “spying irritated him.”

It is not uncommon for corporations to hire outside agencies to spy on and report back to the company if they suspect an employee of “abusing” their limited work status. Amazon, the logistics and technology giant, routinely hires private detectives to surveil workers in their own homes. Workers are also tracked closely for performance while on the job.

With Molson Coors going through several acquisitions and mergers during Ferrill’s tenure, it would not be surprising to find out that management … had set about clearing the books of injured workers like him, seen as “non productive” assets, in order to aid the company’s drive for greater profits. …

Taking all of this into account, it is not hard to see where a worker would become suspicious or paranoid that they were being watched and harassed, and, compounded by the long hours of work needed to provide financially for his family, that this stress would be the catalyst for a worker lashing out in apparently inexplicable violence with tragic consequences for everyone involved.

That such scenes play out with frightening regularity in America is a symptom of a deeply sick society, where workers are driven over the brink by the unyielding demands of the capitalist system.

Little cookiecutter sharks attack United States navy


This 6 March 2029 video from the USA says about itself:

How a Little Shark Destroyed the US Navy

Hey, guys, hope you enjoyed this short video between projects! I had a lot of fun learning about the cookiecutter shark and its related species as well as our relationship with the ocean itself. My apologies for the crappy microphone this episode (I was travelling).

Alabama, USA death penalty for not killing


This 5 March 2020 United States TV video says about itself:

Martin Luther King III Pushes To Halt Alabama Execution | Morning Joe | MSNBC

An eleventh-hour push to halt the execution of Nathaniel Woods, a black prisoner in Alabama, is continuing with activists calling on Gov. Kay Ivey to intervene. Woods is set to die at 6 p.m. Thursday. Martin Luther King III joins Morning Joe to discuss.

By Kate Randall in the USA:

Nathaniel Woods, 44, who never killed anyone, executed in Alabama

7 March 2020

The state of Alabama executed Nathaniel Woods, 44, Thursday evening. His execution came nearly 16 years after three Birmingham police officers were shot and killed. Woods was sentenced to death for the 2004 killings despite the fact that he did not fire any shots on what has come to be known as the “Deadliest Day” in the Birmingham Police Department’s history.

Capital punishment, which is banned in the vast majority of the modern industrialized world, is still legal in 29 of 50 US states, the US federal government and the US military. The death penalty is horrific in its own right, a barbarous practice rooted in vengeance and retribution that has nothing to do with rehabilitation, has been proven not to deter crime and does not provide “closure” to the victims of crime.

In Woods’ case, the injustice of the ultimate punishment is compounded by the fact that he did not pull the trigger that ended the lives of officers Carlos Owen, Harley A. Chisholm III and Charles R. Bennett. This reality was never disputed by the prosecution in Woods case. By witness accounts, Woods actually ran from the cops who were in the process of arresting him and taking him into custody for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant at a drug house in Birmingham. The man who shot the officers, Kerry M. Spencer, is on death row awaiting execution and has since said that Woods is “100 percent innocent”.

Michael Collins, another officer at the scene that day, testified at trial that Woods had come out of the house with his hands up and said to the police: “I give up. I give up. Just don’t spray me with that mace”, before Spencer started shooting. However, Collins later changed his testimony from earlier statements to include a claim that Woods had threatened the officers before they were killed.

Numerous public figures and celebrities, including Martin Luther King III, O.J. Simpson and Kim Kardashian, protested the execution. More than 75,000 opponents of the execution signed petitions to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to stop it. Woods’ sister, Pamela Woods, told Newsweek that her brother’s impending execution was “a modern-day lynching”.

Woods’ conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court. Governor Ivey, a Republican, declined to commute his sentence. The US Supreme Court issued a temporary stay of execution Thursday night but lifted it before Woods’ execution warrant expired, allowing it to proceed.

The Birmingham News reported on the grisly scene at William C. Holman Correctional Facility’s execution chamber in Atmore on Thursday. After the curtains to the viewing room opened at 8:37 p.m. local time, the News wrote, “Woods sat up on the gurney and stared straight ahead to one of the three viewing rooms. As the warden left the room, Woods laid his head down. At 8:40 p.m., Woods sat back up and began mouthing words. His fists were clenched, while his right-hand index finger was stuck out in an apparent sign of his Islamic faith.”

Woods laid his head down at 8:43 p.m. as the lethal chemicals proceeded to flow. He moved his arms against the restraints. After an 8:45 p.m. consciousness check, his left arms jerked up against the restraint. No more movement was seen after that and Woods was pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall urged Ivey not to be persuaded by Woods’ supporters. He wrote, “Although Woods was not the shooter, he was hardly an innocent bystander”. He cited the testimony of Marquita McClure, Woods’ girlfriend at the time, who told detectives that she had heard Woods and Spencer talking about killing police before the shootings.

However, McClure later told a pretrial hearing that she “made that up”, according to a 2003 AP report. “I told y’all what you wanted to hear,” she said. The Appeal reported that Woods’ attorneys argued in an appeal that police had threatened her with parole violations if she refused to testify against him. Woods’ pro bono attorney Lauren Faraino said McClure’s testimony had been pivotal in Woods’ conviction.

Faraino told Newsweek, “When I became involved, I realized just how deeply this had been messed up by his prior counsel.” She said that Woods’ court-appointed trial attorney, who had never tried a capital case before his, rejected a plea deal by the state which would have seen him sentenced to between 20 and 25 years for a non-capital offense. But they had advised him that he could not be sentenced to death because he was not the trigger man.

“Well, that is incorrect. In Alabama, even if you’re not the trigger man, you can be sentenced to death on the theory of complicity which is exactly how they convicted Nate”, Faraino said. She also described other instances of incompetence by his trial attorneys, including missing deadlines so that strong legal claims had been procedurally barred.

The author also recommends:

Tennessee carries out fifth electric chair execution since 2018
[27 February 2020]

US Supreme Court ruling guts ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”
[2 April 2019]