Opossum family at Panama bird feeder


This video says about itself:

Mother Opossum Arrives On The Panama Fruit Feeder With A Pouch Full Of Joeys – April 4, 2020

It’s a near-nightly occurrence to see a Common Opossum on the feeder, though it is not common to see one with a pouch full of young. This female was able to get her fill of bananas before waddling off into the night. Opossum babies are the size of jellybeans at birth and there can be up to 20 of them. At the one minute mark, look for a joey’s tail poking out of the pouch. Given the size of that tail, and the mother’s pouch, these young are certainly past the jellybean stage.

Coronavirus crisis, United States update


This 8 April 2020 video says about itself:

USA: Trump threatens to freeze WHO funding, then backs down saying he’ll “look into it”

US President Donald Trump threatened to freeze the funding of the World Health Organization accusing it of being ‘China-biased’ during the coronavirus crisis.

Trump was speaking at a news conference in Washington DC on Tuesday.

He then appeared to backtrack on the warning when asked if it was the right time to do it during a pandemic.

“No, maybe not. I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it,” said Trump.

Trump expressed his support to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was taken to intensive care with worsening coronavirus symptoms. …

According to the latest data by Johns Hopkins University, the US has registered 386,817 cases of the coronavirus, with 12,722 related deaths.

World Health Organization warns against premature ending of social distancing measures. By Bryan Dyne, 8 April 2020. The warnings come as the number of deaths worldwide approaches 82,000 and the number of officially confirmed cases burst past 1.4 million.

This 7 April 2020 video from the USA is called At Least 14 States Exempt Religious Gatherings From Covid Lockdown.

US automakers planning return to work before coronavirus danger subsides. By Tom Hall and Jessica Goldstein, 8 April 2020. Automakers are planning a return to work that would endanger workers and their families.

This 7 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Nurses Protest Over Lack of Protective Equipment During COVID-19 Pandemic | NowThis

We are in the middle of a crisis and we need to act like it!’ — These nurses are fighting to protect their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In US news and current events today, nurses are fed up with lack of medical supplies as they continue to fight for their lives from the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

This 7 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Congressional Candidate Urges Rent Strikes To Protect Tenants

Washington DSA member Joshua Collins’ digital campaign is courting pissed off young voters.

New York records worst death toll in pandemic, as 731 die in one day. By Josh Varlin, 8 April 2020. The official figures must be considered substantial underestimates, since there has been a reported surge in people dying in their homes, rather than in hospital.

As pandemic rages in New York, new budget allows for massive cuts in social programs. By Philip Guelpa, 8 April 2020. The newly enacted New York state budget, regardless of its nominal contents, will inevitably lead to major attacks on the working class.

Grocery worker dies from COVID-19 infection in suburban Maryland. By Nick Barrickman, 8 April 2020. Grocery workers have been increasingly falling ill as the coronavirus spreads through the population.

This 7 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Navy Secretary RESIGNS After “Stupid” Speech

Thomas Modly has resigned. Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

Acting US Navy secretary resigns amid furor over firing of aircraft carrier Captain Crozier. By Barry Grey, 8 April 2020. Modly had become the focus of mounting tensions within the military and between sections of the uniformed officer corps on one side and President Trump and his civilian Pentagon leadership on the other.

From VoteVets.org in the USA today:

Breaking news: Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly just handed in his resignation moments ago following a slew of dishonorable and disrespectful behavior towards Capt. Brett Crozier and the entire crew of the USS Roosevelt.

There is little doubt that he would not have resigned on his own accord. This team immediately mobilized and sprung into action to defend Capt. Crozier’s actions and called for Modly’s resignation.

We rose to meet this moment because of the support of every member of this team. Whether you donated or signed a petition, it’s because of you that we were able to lead on this issue. It’s because of you that we generated millions of shares, comments, and views across social media. And it’s because of you we gathered over 80,000+ signatures of veterans, military families, and allies in to demand better in just a few days.

How injured flowers recover


This 2017 video from Cyprus says about itself:

How to fix a broken orchid flower spike

Today we try to fix a Phalaenopsis orchid flower spike, after I snapped it when moving around my orchid.

Flower spikes can be fixed to a certain extent, as long as they are not completely severed, or barely hanging on, things can still function if the sap can flow to the flowers.

My orchid is a happy case, so it’s just a matter of maintaining the spike as straight as possible, so the sap flow is not interrupted. Since band-aids didn’t work, 2 splints and some raffia tape were used with success!

From the University of Portsmouth in England:

Some flowers have learned to bounce back after injury

April 7, 2020

Some flowers have a remarkable and previously unknown ability to bounce back after injury, according to a new study.

Some injured flowers bent and twisted themselves back into the best possible position to ensure successful reproduction within 10-48 hours of being knocked over, for example, by falling branches or being walked on.

The reproduction of many flowers (and survival of populations) depends on the perfect alignment of their sexual organs and nectar tubes in order for a visiting insect to pollinate them.

But some are better at recovering their alignment after an injury than others.

Professor of Ecology and Evolution Scott Armbruster, at the University of Portsmouth, published his findings in New Phytologist.

He said: “Mechanical accidents happen to plants fairly often and can, in some cases, stop the plant from being able to attract pollinating insects and so, make seeds. Making seeds and propagating is a flower’s main purpose, so injuries which threaten that pose a huge problem.”

The study found that bilaterally symmetrical flowers — those in which the left and right sides mirror each other, such as snapdragon, orchid, and sweet pea — can almost always restore their ‘correct’ orientation by moving individual flower stems or even moving the stalk that supports a cluster of flowers.

In some cases, bilaterally symmetrical flowers can accurately re-position their stigma — a sexual organ — after injury.

Plants’ movement after an injury isn’t only about making seeds; these plants were seen to bend or twist to make sure their leaves were again facing the sun, necessary for photosynthesis, the process by which a plant produces its food.

Radially symmetrical flowers, star-shaped flowers, such as petunia, buttercup, and wild rose — lacked this ability and their stems rarely recovered after an injury.

Nearly all (95 per cent) of bilaterally symmetrical flowers examined moved after injury to restore the plant’s ability to attract pollinators, while just four per cent of radially symmetrical flowers examined had moved post-injury. This is probably because floral orientation is usually more important for the efficient pollination of bilaterally symmetrical flowers than radially symmetrical ones.

“This little-known aspect of plant evolution is fascinating and tells us much more than we previously knew about how plants behaviourally adapt to changes in their environment, including mechanical accidents,” Professor Armbruster said.

Professor Armbruster and his collaborator Nathan Muchhala (University of Missouri, St. Louis) studied 23 native and cultivated flower species in Australia, South America, North America and the UK.

They found four mechanisms involved, sometimes separately, sometimes all at once, in an injured flower reorienting itself:

  • Bending of the main supporting stalk of a cluster of flowers;
  • Bending of individual flower stalks (more likely in long stems);
  • Rotation of individual flower stalks (more likely in short stems);
  • Twisting or bending the flower’s sexual organs.

The younger the plant part, the faster it managed to bend, meaning stalks supporting individual flowers at the end of a cluster were more easily moved, than the stronger and older stalks supporting an entire cluster.

“Because the outlook is grave for plant species which don’t allow pollinating insects in or which have lost the connection between nectar and its sexual organs, we expected plants might have found a way around this, if, for example, they are hit by high winds or falling branches,” Professor Armbruster said.

“What we found, in a haphazard sample of plants, was that bilaterally symmetrical flowers were able to use up to four methods of restoring their chances of being pollinated almost to pre-injury levels.

“This ability is, I’d argue, an under-appreciated behaviour worthy of closer scrutiny.”

Coronavirus crisis, worldwide update


This April 2020 video says about itself:

101 Cuban nurses arrive in Barbados to fight COVID-19

101 Cuban nurses have arrived in Barbados to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister has expressed hope that the US would abide by international law as Washington continues to harass Venezuela, sending warships and troops near the country. More on these and other stories now.

‘US is weaponising coronavirus against Iran and Venezuela’ says Oliver Stone, 8th April 2020.

US deal with Taliban breaks down while coronavirus spreads in Afghanistan. By Bill Van Auken, 8 April 2020. The Taliban has withdrawn from talks with the crisis-ridden Kabul regime over its failure to act on a prisoner release agreement brokered by Washington.

In Uganda, loss of forested habitat increases the likelihood of interactions between disease-carrying wild primates and humans. The findings suggest the emergence and spread of viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, will become more common as the conversion of natural habitats into farmland continues worldwide: here.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

In France, commotion has arisen over President Macron‘s visit to the Seine-Saint-Denis department, which has been severely affected by the coronavirus. Macron went there on the street and was soon surrounded by dozens of residents. They were not spatially distanced from each other. The president himself was also surrounded by officials and bodyguards.

Commentators in French media almost unanimously speak of “an erroneous signal” and “an awkward move”. The French have to stay inside and keep a distance from each other.

The left and right opposition are baffled by the images. “The president is endangering residents with this public relations stunt,” said the far-left party, LFI. …

It is also raining reactions on social media in which people express their surprise at the crowd around the president.

“Politicians tell us to stay indoors, and they do the opposite themselves,” wrote a Frenchwoman. “If we save lives by keeping a distance, then Macron has not quite understood,” wrote another.

World Health Organization warns against premature ending of social distancing measures. By Bryan Dyne, 8 April 2020. The warnings come as the number of deaths worldwide approaches 82,000 and the number of officially confirmed cases burst past 1.4 million.

As Germany’s number of coronavirus cases grows, so do levels of anti-Semitism.

Canada’s health minister promotes “herd immunity”, after admitting government’s coronavirus failure. By Laurent Lafrance, 8 April 2020. Health Minister Hajdu acknowledged that if Canada’s hospitals lack vital equipment it is because the government has been “underfunding” healthcare “for decades”.

As the pandemic spreads to Africa, Asia and Latin America, the coronavirus will hit the world’s most vulnerable even harder: here.

Africa’s elite builds VIP hospitals for themselves, leaving workers to die. By Stephan McCoy. 8 April 2020. “We are the only continent that has its leaders seeking medical services outside the continent, outside our territory. We must be ashamed.”— Aaron Motsoaledi, South African Health Minister, 2017.

Thai government introduces lockdowns amid criticisms of its pandemic response. By Owen Howell, 8 April 2020. Within a month, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Thailand has leapt from a few dozen to over 2,000.

Sri Lanka: Billions to big business as government prepares new attacks on working people. By Saman Gunadasa, 8 April 2020. No meaningful government funds have been provided for personal protection equipment for health workers, ventilators for patients or kits for mass coronavirus testing.

Butterfly wing colours, new research


This video from the USA says about itself:

Blue Buckeye Butterflies – Junonia coenia

Buckeye Butterflies with a blue background on their wings are unusual. These were bred to bring out more of the blue color. They are raised at our farm, Shady Oak Butterfly Farm, in Florida. The first few generations only had a little bit of blue. Over a full year of breeding blue backgrounds with blue backgrounds, this generation has more blue butterflies emerge than any generation so far. July 2011.

From the Marine Biological Laboratory in the USA:

The evolution of color: How butterfly wings can shift in hue

April 7, 2020

A selective mating experiment by a curious butterfly breeder has led scientists to a deeper understanding of how butterfly wing color is created and evolves. The study, led by scientists at University of California, Berkeley, and the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, is published today in eLife.

When the biologists happened upon the breeder’s buckeye butterflies — which normally are brown — sporting brilliant blue wings through selective mating, they jumped on the chance to explore what caused the change in color of the tiny, overlapping scales that produce the wing’s color mosaic and pattern. They found that buckeyes and other Junonia species can create a rainbow of structural colors simply by tuning the thickness of the wing scale’s bottom layer (the lamina), which creates iridescent colors in the same way a soap bubble does.

Structural color, often used in butterflies and other animals to create blue and green, is created by microscopic structures interacting with light to intensify some colors and diminish others. In contrast, pigmentary coloration is created by the absorption of specific colors (wavelengths) of light and is commonly employed to create colors such as yellow, orange, and brown.

“It was a surprise to find that the lamina, a thin sheet that looks very simple and plain, is the most important source of structural color in so many butterfly wing scales,” says first author Rachel Thayer. Previous studies of structural coloration had largely focused on some extreme examples and mostly involved analyzing complex, 3D shapes on the top of the scales.

First, the team showed that blueness in the selectively bred buckeye wings was, in fact, structural color and was generated largely by the lamina. They then compared these blue scales with wild-type brown scales, and found the same general architecture except the lamina was about 75 percent thicker in the blue scales. Finally, they measured lamina thickness in nine species of Junonia and a tenth species, Precis octavia, and found a consistent relationship with scale color.

“In each Junonia species, structural color came from the lamina. And they are producing a big range of lamina thicknesses that create a rainbow of different colors, everything from gold to magenta to blue to green,” says Thayer. “This helps us understand how structural color has evolved over millions of years.” The color shifts as lamina thickness increases according to Newton’s series, a characteristic color sequence for thin films, the team found.

“The color comes down to a relatively simple change in the scale: the thickness of the lamina,” says senior author Nipam Patel, director of the Marine Biological Laboratory. “We believe that this will be a genetically tractable system that can allow us to identify the genes and developmental mechanisms that can control structural coloration.” They identified one gene, optix, that can regulate lamina structural colors, and are currently searching for other candidates.

It was fortunate that the butterfly farmer, Edith Smith, had chosen buckeyes (Junonia coenia) for her mating experiment. For a variety of reasons, it is an ideal species for scientists to work with. “The buckeye genome is sequenced and other labs are working with it and have developed a number of experimental tools and protocols,” Patel says. “And it grows reasonably well in the lab, which is a big plus because many butterflies can be hard to raise.”

Smith’s bred buckeyes, which displayed “rapid evolution” from brown scales to blue, helped them to understand that the same, simple mechanism of tuning lamina thickness can facilitate evolutionary change that can span just several generations or millions of years.

See also here.

Coronavirus crisis update, Europe


Doctors and nurses demonstrate at the Nikes General Hospital, Piraeus, Greece, yesterday morning against Greek government policies. Banner slogans demand mass employment of health staff, requisition of the health private sector, protection for all

Doctors and nurses demonstrate at the Nikes General Hospital, Piraeus, Greece, yesterday morning against Greek government policies. Banner slogans demand mass employment of health staff, requisition of the health private sector, protection for all.

From daily News Line in Britain today:

Greek doctors & nurses protest

DOCTORS, nurses, trade unionists, workers and youth took part in protests at the entrances of many hospitals throughout Greece yesterday morning against the government’s inability to provide mass tests, protective clothing and masks and appoint the necessary doctors and nurses to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The action was called by the Greek National Health Service doctors’ union OENGE as a Day of Action on World Health Day 7th April.

Hundreds took part at each protest at the hospitals in Athens and the industrial port and city of Piraeus.

At the Evagelismos hospital in the centre of Athens, police squads attempted to break up the doctors, health staff and trade unionists participating in the meeting. But they were forced to turn away booed by doctors and workers.

Some 150 workers, youth and trade unions delegations with their banners held a meeting yesterday lunchtime at the Nikea General Hospital in the working-class district of Piraeus.

Surgeon Panos Papanikolaou of the OENGE Executive, speaking at the meeting, strongly condemned the police action against doctors and nurses at the Evagelismos Hospital and demanded the resignation of the Public Order Minister Khrisokhoides.

Papanikolaou said: ‘They applaud us for our work, but when doctors stand up and demand anti-coronavirus protection for the people and for themselves and demonstrate, then we are terrorists.’

The President of the PENEN trade union (seafarers’ crews) Andonis Delakeoyiorghos said that many ferry crew members have been taken ill as they were not provided with the necessary equipment. He agreed with the OENGE’s demand for the requisition of the private hospitals and of the private health sector.

PENEN and Athens-Piraeus hospital staff and doctors trade union branches are organising another protest next Tuesday.

Worker revolt spreads, demanding protections from coronavirus. By Marcus Day, 8 April 2020. Expanding layers of the working class throughout the world are being drawn into the struggle for lifesaving necessities.

British prime minister: A victim of his “herd immunity” policy. By Robert Stevens, 8 April 2020. Whatever Johnson’s personal fate, the herd immunity policy that landed him seriously ill in hospital has already contributed to many infections and deaths nationwide.

UK: Health workers threatened for wearing PPE and reporting danger to their lives. By Tony Robson, 8 April 2020. The threats to health workers have been particularly directed at any use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.

Vindictive court rulings prove British state wants Assange dead. 8 April 2020. Judge Vanessa Baraitser has decreed that Assange will remain behind bars and that his extradition show-trial will proceed in May, even as the coronavirus pandemic spreads rapidly in British prisons: here.

UK postal workers take unofficial strike action over lack of safety measures. By Paul Lee, 8 April 2020. Weeks into the pandemic, postal workers are still not able to social distance and have a lack of personal protection equipment when out delivering mail.

One out of three patients cared for by the Cuban medical brigade in Lombardy, Italy, has already been discharged, Granma newspaper reported: here.