Turkish government frees criminals, not political prisoners


This 2013 music video from Turkey says about itself:

Turkish revolutionary socialist music band Grup Yorum performs Bella Ciao live in Istanbul. Various musicians and artists join them on stage and sing along with thousands of comrades.

By Steve Sweeney:

Friday, April 3, 2020

Turkish state accused of murder after death of hunger-striking Grup Yorum musician

TURKEY’S ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was accused of murder today following the death of revolutionary leftist musician Helin Bölek after 288 days on hunger strike.

Ms Bölek, a member of the outlawed band Grup Yorum, had refused medical intervention after turning her hunger strike into a “death fast” earlier this year, along with fellow band member Ibrahim Gokcek.

“All Helin wanted to do was to sing her songs freely. AKP fascism is responsible for her death,” Grup Yorum said in a statement.

Helin Bölek's funeral

This photo shows Helin Bölek’s funeral.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Turkey wants to release prisoners, but not political prisoners

“I am so afraid that my father will get the coronavirus,” sobs a boy of about eight years old. “I want my father back.” In a video message, children of political prisoners in Turkey express concern about the fate of their parents. A girl speaks boldly, “Don’t take away my dad’s right to health. Listen to us, please.”

In Turkey, it will be decided this week whether more than 90,000 prisoners can be released. A law that makes this possible has been discussed for some time, because Turkish prisons have been overcrowded for years. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, efforts are being made to introduce the law as soon as possible. …

The law that is ready does not apply to all prisoners. … There is another group that will have to stay behind bars: thousands of political prisoners. They are journalists, writers, academics, activists and opposition politicians.

Turkish prisons have over 20 percent more prisoners than there is official space for. Cells with space for eight prisoners are populated by twenty people in some prisons. There are stories about prisoners who have to take turns sleeping because of the lack of space.

The number of corona infections in Turkey is increasing rapidly. The counter is at about 24,000. 501 people died. 80 million people live in Turkey.

According to human rights organization Human Rights Watch, all prisoners are at risk of being infected with the coronavirus and it is impossible to protect them against this in tight cells. “There is a lack of hygiene, there are too few face masks for staff. It is simply not possible to apply social distancing in such circumstances,” said Emma Sinclair, HRW rapporteur in Turkey. “Only one warder needs to be infected. The virus can spread very quickly in prison.”

It is impossible for political prisoners to be excluded from release. “These people have been convicted under terrorism laws but have not in fact committed any criminal or terrorist offenses. They have been penalized for their opinion.”

Heart problems

There is concern about aged prisoners and prisoners with underlying medical problems. For example, Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas is struggling with heart problems. Philanthropist and peace activist Osman Kavala also falls into the risk group because he is over sixty.

Kavala was acquitted in February of involvement in the Gezi protests. On the same day, he was arrested again on suspicion of involvement in the failed 2016 coup. Writer and journalist Ahmet Altan is 70 years old, and he has also been detained on charges of involvement in the failed coup. Journalist Mumtazer Turkone, who is detained for alleged ties to the Gülen movement, is also said to be under treatment for heart problems.

“If they become infected with the coronavirus, it could mean their death sentence,” said Erol Önderolu, reporter for Reporters Without Borders. “I am not surprised, but it is alarming. These are people who do not belong in prison in the first place, you cannot be excluded from such an arrangement.” …

The largest opposition party CHP accuses Erdogan‘s government of playing with human lives. “The lives of these prisoners were threatened without the pandemic,” said Burkay Düzce of the Istanbul party. “If the government does not apply that law to everyone, they are not only guilty of violating the right to freedom of expression, but also the right to live.”

Turkey: Progressive lawyers turn their hunger strike into a ‘death fast’ in demand for a fair trial: here.

Opposition party demands Turkish government protects women as violence rises after lockdown: here.

Women’s shelters in Turkey’s Kurdish regions forced to close after spike in demand following lockdown: here.

I used to be a guitarist, now I am a ‘terrorist’. Turkish folk musician IBRAHIM GOKCEK explains why he is on a death fast in the face of persecution by Erdogan’s authoritarian government: here.

Cougar cats of the Americas


This 31 March 2020 video says about itself:

Puma or cougar? Candid Animal Cam takes you to the Americas to meet this wild cat

Did you know that the puma (or the mountain lion, cougar or Florida panther) is the animal with the most names? That’s right, there are 80 different names for the animal from the Puma genus. This week, we’re talking about the different sub-species of puma found across the Americas.

Special thanks to the San Miguelito Jaguar Conservation Ranch, WWF-Peru and Sean M. McHugh for sharing this footage with us. Every Tuesday, Mongabay will bring you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, so subscribe and hit the bell icon to make sure you never miss a camera trap video again!

And shout out to our writer and biologist Romi Castagnino, who hosted, produced and shot this video!

Coronavirus, parody music and news update, USA


This 6 April 2020 music video from the USA says about itself:

Jen Houston‘s Parody Calls on You to Save Lives by Staying In | NowThis

This rock song parody is calling on you to save lives by staying in 🔥

HOW ARE PACKED CHURCHES ‘PRO-LIFE?’ CNN Host Victor Blackwell grilled a Louisiana pastor for hosting massive in-person church services during the coronavirus pandemic. Tony Spell — the pastor of the evangelical Life Tabernacle Church outside Baton Rouge, one of the cities hardest hit by the virus — was charged last week with refusing to abide by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ order that temporarily limits gatherings to 10 people. [HuffPost]

APPALACHIAN COMMUNITIES BRACE FOR CORONAVIRUS Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, better known as black lung, is a scarring of the lungs caused by years of coal dust inhalation. At least one in 10 underground miners has black lung, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but experts say the actual number could be much higher. As the lungs scar, it becomes harder to breathe, so the thought of adding COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, to the mix is terrifying to these Appalachian workers. [HuffPost]

TRUMP REDEFINES STOCKPILE’S ROLE FOR STATES The Trump administration has abruptly changed its description of the Strategic National Stockpile and put forward a narrower vision of the role the federal government’s repository of lifesaving medicines and equipment should play in supplying states’ needs. The change comes as the White House already is facing growing anger and worry from governors over federal assistance to fight the coronavirus outbreak. [AP]

ILLINOIS GOV.: TRUMP DOESN’T UNDERSTAND ‘FEDERAL’ Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) slammed Trump’s inadequate response to the pandemic, saying the president doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “federal” or the role he is supposed to fulfill. Pritzker said the White House knew about the coming pandemic in January and didn’t prepare. Trump responded later, saying Pritzker is “always complaining.” [HuffPost]

TRUMP HAWKS UNPROVEN ‘CURE,’ BLOCKS FAUCI President Donald Trump said the U.S. had stockpiled 29 million anti-malaria pills he’s repeatedly pushed as a cure for COVID-19, despite persistent warnings from the nation’s top infectious disease expert there is no strong evidence yet the medication could help rein in the ongoing pandemic. “What do you have to lose?” Trump asked during a briefing, adding: “I don’t want it to be in a lab for a year and a half.” [HuffPost]

Nine governors ― all Republicans ― have so far refused to issue statewide stay-at-home orders despite calls from public health experts and medical professionals to do so. [HuffPost]

FAUCI: HALF THE PEOPLE WITH COVID-19 MAY HAVE NO SYMPTOMS As many as half the people infected with the coronavirus show no symptoms, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist, said Sunday. He cautioned the estimate was rough and research was needed to determine more precisely how many Americans are carrying the disease without knowing. [NYT]

What you need to know if you can’t afford rent right now.

RENTERS IN TURMOIL AS RELIEF MEASURES FALL SHORT Even under normal circumstances, renters struggle to navigate the eviction process. But in the midst of the pandemic, tenants unable to pay rent are entering into a maze of new directives from courts and state and local governments. Many of these changes have been enacted to protect people at risk of losing their housing. But some merely eliminate in-person assemblies while allowing evictions to proceed through measures like remote hearings. [HuffPost]

DEFENSE SECRETARY BACKS OUSTER OF VIRUS SHIP CAPTAIN Secretary of Defense Mark Esper defended the removal of Navy Capt. Brett Crozier for seeking help for the coronavirus crisis on the ship he commanded, saying the termination is “another example of how we hold leaders accountable.” Trump denounced Crozier during a weekend press briefing. Meanwhile, Crozier has himself now tested positive for the coronavirus. [HuffPost]

Coronavirus, kill for capitalism, Murdoch media say


This 16 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Washington crisis response is already picking Wall Street over workers

Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti discuss what Washington should do to address the financial fallout from the coronavirus.

From the (conservative) Daily Mail in Britain, 5 April 2020:

Former Supreme Court Justice Jonathon Sumption believes that the public’s ‘irrational horror of death’ has lead to unnecessarily ‘costly’ measures surrounding coronavirus.

Writing in The Sunday Times

owned by Rupert Murdoch

Lord Sumption, 71, a former judge turned author and medieval historian, stated that the strict governmental measures will bring ‘even greater misfortunes of a different kind’.

He wrote: ‘We have acquired an irrational horror of death. Today death is the great obscenity, inevitable but somehow unnatural. In the midst of life, our ancestors lived with death, an everpresent fact that they understood and accommodated.’

Lord Sumption projects his own cavalier contempt for human lives, at least the lives of ‘proles‘, unto all people in history. While that contempt was mainly by tyrannical princes and their lackeys.

Today, Lord Sumption’s contempt for human lives was praised by the United States neo-nazi site Daily Stormer.

I much prefer to Lord Sumption these lines of 20th century Welsh poet Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

All human lives are so much more precious than billionaires’ profits. They are worth fighting for.

The Daily Mail article continues:

Lord Sumption went on to list a number of historic epidemics such as bubonic plague,

The medieval plague, far from people ‘understanding’ it, as Lord Sumption claims, was a pretext for mass murder of Jews who supposedly had been to blame.

Does Lord Sumption see the possibility of the coronavirus crisis increasing anti-Semitism? Anti-Semitism, supported by His Lordship’s boss Rupert Murdoch, and by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News? While these coronavirus times see the promotion of anti-Asian racism by Sumption’s Rupert Murdoch media; and by United States president Donald Trump.

smallpox, cholera, typhoid, meningitis and Spanish flu, reminding people that such outbreaks with higher mortality rates were met with less ‘hysteria’. …

The former judge believes it is the public’s ‘risk-adverse’ attitude which has lead us to not accept ‘the wheel of fortune’.

‘Wheel of fortune’? No, the consequences of years of privatization and austerity in healthcare, and of an economic system destroying biodiversity and the environment, you idiot Lordship!

Lord Sumption said current government measures are inflicting suffering on other less obvious victims of the coronavirus, such as future generations who will be left to deal with ‘high levels of public and private debt’ …

So, Lord Sumption prefers millions of people dying to the ultimate ‘horror’ of Big Banking and similar creditors maybe not getting back their loans plus interest profit from debtors.

Lord Sumption and his Rupert Murdoch media bosses want people to die for Big Business; like Donald Trump in the USA and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.

British Conservative Johnson in hospital, nurse reacts


This 5 April 2020 video says about itself:

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital after showing persistent symptoms of the coronavirus for 10 days.

Johnson tested positive for the virus on March 27.

Now that Johnson is in hospital: it might happen that a nurse, overworked after years of austerity and privatisation by Mr Johnson’s Conservatives with some help of Thatcherite Liberal Democrats and Thatcherite Blairites; a nurse with no coronavirus personal protective equipment because of the lack of governmental anti-pandemic policies, stands at Johnson’s bedside.

Johnson: ‘I feel hellish pain’.

The nurse: ‘Already?’

Fossil monk seal discovery in Australia


This 6 April 2020 video says about itself:

A very rare fossil was found on a beach near Portland Victoria in 1998, It took years to identify the true identity if the specimen. It was from a now long-extinct group of seals now no longer found in Australia and it shed a light on to what Australia’s coastline might have looked like 3 million years ago.

To find out more about the tooth go here.

Read more here.

From Monash University in Australia:

Tooth be told: Earless seals existed in ancient Australia

April 3, 2020

A fossilised seal tooth found on a Victorian beach could hold the key to uncovering the history and geography of earless seals that graced Australia’s shores three million years ago.

This prehistoric specimen is only the second earless seal fossil ever discovered in Australia, and proves the country’s local fur seals and sea lions were preceded by a group of sea mammals, known as monachines, now long extinct in Australia.

The study also highlights the current dangers of climate change to Earth’s existing wildlife, with falling sea levels likely to have played a role in the extinction of these ancient seals.

The history of this rare specimen was published today (Friday 3 April) in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology by a team of scientists from Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences and Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, and Museums Victoria, led by PhD candidate James Rule.

“This tooth, roughly three million years old, tells a story similar to what occurred in South Africa and South America in the past. Earless monachine seals used to dominate southern beaches and waters, and then suddenly disappeared, with eared seals replacing them,” Mr Rule said.

“Since seal fossils are rare globally, this discovery makes a vital contribution to our understanding of this iconic group of sea mammals.”

An Australian citizen scientist and amateur fossil collector discovered the tooth while strolling along the beach at Portland, western Victoria.

But it wasn’t until he donated the fossil to Museums Victoria many years later that it was found to have been a tooth from an extinct group of earless seals.

The research team compared the tooth to other pinnipeds — a group that includes earless seals, fur seals, sea lions and the walrus.

They found the tooth possessed characteristics of monachines and shed light on how these seals lived and what they ate.

“This seal lived in shallow waters close to the shore, likely hunting fish and squid. As monachines cannot use their limbs to walk on land, it would have required flat, sandy beaches when it came ashore to rest,” Mr Rule said.

Researchers believe drastic changes in the Earth’s climate fundamentally altered Australia’s environment by eliminating the beaches used by earless seals to rest.

“These changes in the past have led to the extinction of Australia’s ancient earless seals,” Dr David Hocking, co-author and Research Fellow in Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences, said.

“Our living fur seals and sea lions will likely face similar challenges as the Earth continues to warm, with melting polar ice leading to rising sea levels.

“Over time, this may lead to the eventual loss of islands that these species currently rely upon to rest and raise their young.”

Coronavirus epidemic news today


This 5 April 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Critical care nurse calls for building sites to be shut down

Dave Carr, a critical care nurse working in one of central London’s biggest hospitals, calls for construction sites to be shut down to ease the pressure on the NHS and save lives.

“What we’re saying as health workers is, you need to think about yourselves, you need to think about your family, you need to think about the impact of you, or any of your family and friends, getting sick on the NHS at the moment … You need to shut down your sites, you need to shut them down now, and you need to shut them down for the duration of this virus.”

Britain: 43% of doctors have absolutely no eye protection – Nurses have no face masks: here.

This 5 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Giving [coronavirus] Supplies To Corporations Instead Of States

WORKERS in Zimbabwe have expressed dismay at the lack of seriousness on the government’s part, after it exempted more companies to operate during the 21-day lockdown intended to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19): here.

What dinosaurs ate


This 6 April 2020 video says about itself:

5 Dinosaur Dinners and What They Told Us

When it comes to extinct creatures like dinosaurs, it can be tough to know for sure what they actually ate. And we’d like to know because what an animal eats tells you a lot about it. But every now and then, the fossil record gives us a gift: a fossilized meal that tells us exactly what that dino had for dinner. Here are five dinosaur dinners and what they tell us about how these animals lived.”

Hosted by: Hank Green