Harpy eagle in Panama, video

This January 2020 video says about itself:

Raw footage in Ultra High Definition 4K of the beautiful and majestic stunning Harpy Eagle bird of prey in Panama. The Harpy Eagle is neotropical and lives in the rain forest and jungles of Central America and some northern parts of South America. This large predatory bird has some of the most powerful talons of the avian world and measures up to 7 feet in wingspan.

German AfD spokesman, self-styled fascist

AfD spokesman Christian Lüth (left) and AfD leader Alexander Gauland. © EPA

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has fired press officer Christian Lüth. For many years he was the main spokesman for the … right-wing party. According to news site Zeit Online, Lüth was fired because he has repeatedly called himself a fascist.

Lüth is also said to have called himself of Aryan descent, because his grandfather was commander of a German submarine in World War II. Wolfgang Lüth personally received a [Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds of the] Iron Cross from Adolf Hitler for this, the highest military award in Germany at the time.

Lüth, 43, has been the spokesman since the foundation of the AfD in 2013 and was a confidant of party founder Alexander Gauland. Since the party came in the Bundestag in 2017, Lüth has also been the party’s parliamentary caucus spokesman.

Apparently, now Mr Gauland thinks that Lüth’s explicit fascism is bad public relations. Gauland apparently prefers his own implicit dog whistle fascism; like his attack on a German national team football player for being of African ancestry; and his praise for Hitler’s armed forces.

Blind fish of the Congo river

This 25 April 2020 video about Africa says about itself:

The Strange Blind Fish of the Lower Congo River

The lower Congo River is treacherous, turbulent, and very deep. While that might seem like an inhospitable habitat, hundreds of species of fish thrive there, including some that are really bizarre!

Hosted by: Hank Green.

Donald Trump, the Rasputin of the USA?

This music video, recorded in Russia, is Boney M – Rasputin. It is about the faith healer and power behind the throne of Russian Czar Nicholas II, Grigori Rasputin.

Here is an article comparing United States President Donald Trump to Rasputin. At least one difference between them is that Trump is the United States head of state. While in czarist Russia, Nicholas II was autocratic and absolute head of state. Rasputin being an adviser to the head of state; so, in theory, just a subject.

By Eric London and David North in the USA:

Rasputin in the White House

25 April 2020

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the world has grown accustomed to the daily White House press briefings, in which a scowling Donald Trump parades his staggering ignorance and promotes quackery, as medical experts contradict his harebrained and antiscientific justifications for a rapid return to work.

But even these daily spectacles could not have prepared audiences for Trump’s performance Thursday, when the president urged Americans to inject themselves with disinfectant and insert ultraviolet lights into their bodies, measures which would kill those unfortunate enough to listen to the president’s advice.

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

Trump continued: “So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous—whether it’s ultraviolet or just a very powerful light—and I think you said that hasn’t been checked because of the testing. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that, too.”

These statements provoked a flurry of denunciations by astounded medical professionals. The maker of Lysol disinfectant was forced to publicly rebuke the president by issuing a statement saying, “We must be clear that under no circumstances should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body.”

In recent weeks, Trump has pronounced that his “gut” instinct told him the pandemic would be over in April, that it was no worse than the flu, and that the medication hydroxychloroquine—produced by a friend who stood to profit from the president’s recommendation—could cure the virus, despite Food and Drug Administration warnings that it would lead to increased deaths.

It is easy enough to point out that these statements express Trump’s own stunning backwardness and callous indifference to human life.

But what remains to be explained is: How did this grotesque sociopath come to occupy the White House, and what does his sordid presidency reveal about the state of the American political system?

A characteristic of a doomed political system, often observed in history, is the elevation of an especially despicable and even depraved personality to a high position in the state, frequently as a key adviser to the ruler. Such individuals often become the focus of public outrage.

Among the most notorious examples of such a personality in the twentieth century was Grigori Rasputin, the “mad monk”, who exerted immense influence over the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra. A horse thief and rapist, Rasputin became the trusted and indispensable adviser of the royal couple, partly on the basis of his claim that he could treat their hemophiliac son through a combination of religious incantations, the conjuring of spirits and his own frightening stare. The Tsar and Tsarina took no major decisions without consulting their corrupt and dissolute “friend”.

Fearful that the influence wielded by Rasputin was leading the regime to disaster, a group of disgruntled nobles carried out the “friend’s” gruesome assassination in December 1916. Their action failed to stave off the revolution, which began two months later.

“Rasputinism” entered into the vocabulary of politics as a word that denotes an obscene level of state corruption and decadence. In his History of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky recalled that this bizarre episode, in the final years of the crisis-ridden Russian autocracy, “acquired the character of a disgusting nightmare overhanging the country.”

Trotsky continued: “If by the word hooliganism we understand the extreme expression of those antisocial parasite elements at the bottom of society, we may define Rasputinism as a crowned hooliganism at its very top.”

A century after the original version, a form of Rasputinism has emerged in the United States. But the American Rasputin is not the adviser to the president. He is the president—a vile scoundrel and social degenerate, incapable of formulating a coherent sentence, let alone a logical argument—positioned at the apex of the American state!

Trump epitomizes an oligarchy whose wealth is based on a level of parasitism that is hardly to be distinguished from criminality. His thuggishness, cultural backwardness and contempt for the common people embody the attitudes and practices of the swarms of banksters, billionaire investors, vulture capitalists, hedge fund managers, asset strippers, real estate swindlers and media moguls who run both political parties and all three branches of government.

The US presently finds itself in the midst of a crisis of unparalleled dimensions, with the government in the hands of a person who is telling the population to inject bleach into its veins.

In the period of its historic rise, the American bourgeoisie could produce Abraham Lincoln, who embodied the democratic ethos of the American Revolution and stewarded the country through the Civil War. In the next great crisis—the Great Depression—Franklin Delano Roosevelt was capable of speaking seriously about social issues—as “FDR” did in his “fireside chats”—and appealing to the democratic sentiments of the broad masses of people.

Today, decades of US economic decline have eliminated any basis within the ruling class for the defense of the country’s democratic traditions. American capitalism finds its quintessential expression in the persona of Trump. That does not mean that all American capitalists like what they see. But looking into the mirror is not always a pleasant experience. In the final analysis, Trump is “their man”. They must take him as he is.

Truth be told, what use would Wall Street have for a man of science and high culture in the White House? The interests of the banks and corporations are not served by a scientifically informed approach to the pandemic. The factories must be reopened. Profit must be squeezed out of the working class. Monthly mortgages, rents and interest payments are due and must be met. Dr. Anthony Fauci and his fellow epidemiologists, with their endless jeremiads on the danger posed by the current and a second wave of the pandemic, are getting on the nerves of corporate America.

Within 24 hours of Trump’s statement on injecting disinfectant and using ultraviolet light “inside the body”, the fifty thousandth person died of the virus in the US. As several states rushed back to work, April 23 almost set a record for new positive cases nationwide. The United Nations is preparing for famines that threaten to take the lives of hundreds of millions in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Though Trump says it more bluntly than his counterparts in Europe and across the world, the US president is expressing the viewpoint of the entire global ruling elite.

In Germany, Angela Merkel is opening the country by sending the working class back to their jobs, indifferent to evidence that this will lead to a new wave of deaths. The same is true in Spain, Britain, France and elsewhere. In Latin America, the position of the ruling class is summed up in the response of Brazil’s right-wing Jair Bolsonaro … who claimed that God will protect his populations from the virus.

If society were directed rationally and democratically, on the basis of socialist policies, a globally planned and scientifically guided mass intervention could conquer the pandemic and save millions of lives. The pandemic is a biological reality, but the response to this phenomenon is conditioned by the class interests that dominate society. The lethality of the pandemic is determined less by the RNA of the virus than by the economic and social priorities of the capitalist class.

In the final analysis, the fight against the pandemic is inextricably bound up with the fight for the transfer of power to the working class and the establishment of socialism.

First frog fossil from Antarctica discovered

This video says about itself:

Saturday, 25 April 2020

First frog fossil found on Antarctica

In 2015, Thomas Mörs reached for a frog in the sand — but the frog didn’t hop away. That’s because the frog had been fossilized 40 million years ago.

By Maria Temming, April 23, 2020 at 11:00 am:

The first frog fossil from Antarctica has been found

An ancient amphibian sheds light on when the continent iced over

The first fossil of a frog found in Antarctica gives new insight into the continent’s ancient climate.

Paleontologists uncovered fragments of the frog’s hip bone and skull in 40-million-year-old sediment collected from Seymour Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Scientists have previously found evidence of giant amphibians that walked Antarctica during the Triassic Period, over 200 million years ago, but no traces on the continent of amphibians like those around today (SN: 3/23/15). The shape of the newly discovered bones indicates that this frog belonged to the family of Calyptocephalellidae, or helmeted frogs, found today in South America.

The fossilized frog’s modern relatives live exclusively in the warm, humid central Chilean Andes. This suggests that similar climate conditions existed on Antarctica around 40 million years ago, researchers report April 23 in Scientific Reports.

That offers a clue about how fast Antarctica switched from balmy to bitter cold (SN: 4/1/20). Antarctica quickly froze over after splitting from Australia and South America, which were once all part of the supercontinent Gondwana (SN: 10/10/19). But some geologic evidence suggests that ice sheets began forming on Antarctica before it fully separated from the other southern continents about 34 million years ago.

“The question is now, how cold was it, and what was living on the continent when these ice sheets started to form?” says study coauthor Thomas Mörs, a paleontologist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. “This frog is one more indication that in [that] time, at least around the Peninsula, it was still a suitable habitat for cold-blooded animals like reptiles and amphibians.”

Back to work prematurely, to coronavirus death?

This 2e4 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

[Economist Richard] Wolff Responds: Rush to get Americans Back to Work

Professor Wolff comments on the current rush of the government and employers to get Americans to return to work. Despite the failures of the system to prepare and plan adequately for the pandemic, workers are being asked to make the ultimate sacrifice (their health and safety) in the name of patriotism. Wolff reveals the truth behind the lies and manipulations of the current Administration and capitalist employers.

COVID-19 is hitting some patients with obesity particularly hard. Doctors say some of their sickest COVID-19 patients are young and obese. One study shows they have higher rates of hospital admission and death: here.

Forest wildlife worldwide, video

This 17 April 2020 video says about itself:

Our Planet | Forests

Experience our planet’s natural beauty and examine how climate change impacts all living creatures in this ambitious documentary of spectacular scope.

In this episode: Examine the fragile interdependence that exists between forests’ wide variety of residents, including bald eagles, hunting dogs and Siberian tigers.

Caged minks get coronavirus infection

This 2016 PETA video says about itself:

Caged, Tortured and Gassed – The Life of Minks and Foxes on a US Fur Farm

A PETA US investigation into a Wisconsin fur farm reveals the cruelty that is rife within the fur industry.

Wisconsin is the top mink-producing state in the United States, and this footage from huge fur farm Dillenburg Fur Farm, LLC, reveals that thousands of minks and scores of foxes are kept in rows of filthy, wire-floored cages with their own waste piled high below. These animals are slaughtered to make fur coats and collars for shoppers all over the world.

Until January 2024, it is legal to breed American minks for fur in the Netherlands.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

At two mink breeders’ in North Brabant province the coronavirus has been diagnosed in several animals, the Ministry of Agriculture reports. The animals had various symptoms, including respiratory problems.

The ministry assumes human to animal contamination, because some employees of the businesses in Beek en Donk and Milheeze had symptoms of the coronavirus. To prevent spreading to other farms, animals and manure must not leave the farm. There are about 13,000 animals on both farms.

On the advice of the health authority, the area around both businesses is closed to cyclists and walkers within a radius of 400 meters. …

Previous research shows that ferret relatives, which include the mink, are susceptible to infection with Covid-19.

Two more Dutch mink farms contaminated: here.

Red squirrel and great spotted woodpecker

This 2016 video says about itself:

The red squirrel is one of Britain’s most treasured native creatures, but it’s also one of its most endangered.

A project aims to provide red squirrels with a brand new home in the Isles of Scilly where there are currently no grey squirrels.

A group of red squirrels from the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey was transported to Cornwall and then flown by helicopter from RNAS Culdrose to Tresco Abbey Gardens in September 2013.

Red Squirrels in The Abbey Gardens on The Island of Tresco, Isles of Scilly – Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

Today, again to the cemetery.

Close to the entrance, a male great spotted woodpecker climbs up a tree.

A magpie up another tree.

A great tit and a nuthatch call.

A jay on a lawn.

A male blackbird on top of a tombstone. A female blackbird on the forest floor.

Then, a red squirrel up a tree. I had seen a red squirrel on this cemetery only once before, and that was almost ten years ago.

COVID-19, good and bad United States news

This 25 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Farmer Gives Away Millions of Potatoes Amid COVID-19 | NowThis

This farmer is giving millions of potatoes away for free during the coronavirus pandemic.

In US news and current events today, Cranney Farms in Idaho is giving millions of potatoes away for free. Despite an uncertain future for his crop, Cranney is trying to turn a dire situation into a positive one. He opened up a massive pile of free potatoes to the public, figuring a few dozen from a town of 700 might show up. Instead, thousands arrived, with some as far away as Las Vegas. Food banks, charities, and churches also arrived ready to load pickup trucks and small trailers.

This farmer is bravely breaking the rules of capitalism. The rules of capitalism say that if you cannot sell food to, eg, a restaurant chain, then you should destroy it by sending it to a landfill, like often happens now. While millions of people in the USA are hungry, now more than before.

Coronavirus Paradox: Why Food Is Being Destroyed When People Are Going Hungry: here.

As US passes 50,000 deaths, workers strike against back-to-work campaign. By Shannon Jones and Andre Damon, 25 April 2020. As states rush to reopen workplaces, logistics workers, nursing home employees and graduate students have gone on strike to protest unsafe conditions.

Tennessee state government plans to lift social-distancing measures as health care crisis looms. By Warren Duzak, 25 April 2020. While Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Lee claims the number of cases were leveling off, physicians have described the virus trajectory as “saw-toothed” with no real sign of flattening or subsiding.

GM threatens to end medical benefits for temporary workers at parts depot. By Shannon Jones, 25 April 2020. Workers at General Motors Customer Care and Aftersales in Burton, Michigan are being told to report to work April 27 or face losing their medical benefits.

Henry Ford Health System lays off 2,800 as COVID-19 continues to ravage Detroit. By Kevin Reed, 25 April 2020. Following Beaumont Health, which laid off 2,475 employees and permanently eliminated 450 positions on Tuesday, HFHS told workers they were being put on temporary furlough.

Minnesota meatpacking plant closes after two dozen workers test positive for COVID-19. By Christopher Davion, 25 April 2020. JBS USA, the largest meat processing company in Minnesota, shut down its pork plant in Worthington on Monday, resulting in the layoff of 2,000 workers, many of whom are immigrants.

At least 130 US health care workers dead from COVID-19. By Clara Weiss, 25 April 2020. Every single one of these deaths and the vast majority of infections were preventable.

US elderly care devastated by the profit system. By Isaac Finn, 25 April 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the failure of the American health care system, and the inability of the wealthiest country on Earth to take care of its elderly and infirm.

United States President Donald Trump during the coronavirus disaster wants to sacrifice workers’ lives to capitalism. He also wants to sacrifice soldiers’ lives to his vanity.

From Votevets.org in the USA today:

1,000 West Point cadets in danger because of Donald Trump

At a time when Americans across the country are facing historic unemployment levels in order to social distance and do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, Donald Trump is using his position as Commander-in-Chief to endanger the lives of 1,000 graduating West Point cadets who are now required to return to New York City, one of the hardest-hit cities in the country by this health crisis.

Last night, without any notice to West Point and despite the fact graduating seniors have already been scattered across the country, Donald Trump announced he would speak at the West Point commencement ceremony.

He even explicitly said he hoped the ceremony would look “nice and tight” because he does not like the look of socially distanced graduations.

This is a remarkably irresponsible action that puts the safety of every one of those cadets at risk while unnecessarily increasing the odds of spreading COVID-19 — all to feed Trump’s ego and provide him with a photo opportunity in place of his campaign rallies.

Donald Trump has a habit of treating the military as props in his political game, often at the expense of the safety of our veterans, service members, and those in uniform — and this is just the latest in a long line of inappropriate and disrespectful acts meant to bolster his image.

This is about more than polling numbers, this is about the lives of 1,000 future Army leaders. Trump should not force graduating West Point cadets to put themselves and their families in danger of contracting COVID-19 just so he can hear applause and momentarily satisfy his ego. Add your name if you agree.