Birds and insects of Voorne island, video


This 7 May 2020 video shows birds and insects of Voorne island in the Netherlands. Sequence: kestrel, goldfinch, sedge warbler, northern shoveler duck, redshanks, northern lapwing with chick, robin, wren, whitethroat, brimstone butterfly, common scorpionfly, green-veined white butterfly, hoverfly, peacock butterfly and firebug.

German government spends billions on militarism


This 27 March 2020 video is called Germany Proposes Buying 90 Eurofighters, 45 Boeing F/A-18s To Replace Tornado Jets.

Coronavirus crisis or no coronavirus crisis

By Gregor Link and Johannes Stern in Germany:

German government plans purchase of 138 fighter jets and prepares for nuclear war

7 May 2020

Germany’s government is preparing to purchase 93 Eurofighters and 45 US-made F-18 fighter jets for a total cost of almost €20 billion. The Eurofighter is produced by Airbus, while Boeing makes the F-18.

Among the latter type are 30 “Super Hornet” jets, whose purpose is to guarantee Germany’s involvement in atomic warfare and make possible the deployment of US nuclear weapons located on German territory in the event of a nuclear war. Tornado strike bombers have been used for the purpose, but they need to be removed from service by 2030 and replaced.

Der Spiegel reported last month that German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (Christian Democrats, CDU) offered the deal to US Defence Secretary Mark Esper in an email. The extra-parliamentary move apparently took place with the approval of the CDU’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats. In a statement, the Defence Ministry noted that the SPD had been involved in the process for weeks. Der Spiegel also reported that secret agreements were struck with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (both SPD).

On Monday, government officials reiterated Germany’s commitment to the “nuclear participation” as part of NATO. It is “an important component of a credible deterrence strategy in the alliance,” stressed government spokesman Stefan Seibert in Berlin.

Foreign Minister Maas distanced himself from other SPD members, including SPD co-leader Norbert Walter-Borjans, who over previous days criticised Germany’s purchase of US-made planes and the close nuclear alliance with Washington. “One-sided steps that undermine the trust of our close partners and European neighbours weaken our alliances,” Maas declared.

On Sunday, SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich told German daily Tagesspiegel, “the nuclear weapons on German territory do not heighten our security, on the contrary.” It is “high time for Germany to rule out future stationing. Other states have done this without calling NATO into question.” He then added, “As Germans, we should confidently demand to influence NATO’s nuclear strategy, even when no nuclear weapons are stored on our territory.”

The criticism of the government from sections of the SPD, who are being supported by the Left Party, has nothing to do with pacifism. Its goal is to develop a foreign and nuclear policy that is more independent of the United States and dominated by Germany and the EU. In the past, the SPD demanded that the Tornados be replaced exclusively with repurposed Eurofighters to “promote domestic production and prevent too great a reliance on the United States,” as a report from the news channel N-TV noted.

Regardless of which fighter jet model the German government ends up choosing, what is taking place is the largest rearmament of the German air force since the end of the Second World War, and, in the final analysis, the nuclear arming of Germany. According to the Defence Ministry, the government’s desire to purchase F-18 fighter jets is merely seen as a “temporary solution for nuclear participation and air-supported electronic combat.” The development of “[Future Combat Air System (FCAS)] should not be endangered.”

The FCAS is a European system composed of manned multi-purpose fighter jets, several unmanned aircraft (remote carriers), and new weapons and communications systems. The plan is for an integrated combat system incorporating drones, fighter jets, satellites, and command-and-control aircraft, potentially linked to an independent nuclear capability.

In a keynote foreign policy address in February, French President Emmanuel Macron appealed for a “strategic dialogue” on Europe’s nuclear deterrence. In the face of a nuclear arms race, Macron declared that the Europeans cannot restrict themselves “to the role of spectators.”

FCAS is part of the Franco-German led drive to transform the European Union into a military power capable of waging war independently of, and if necessary, in opposition to, the United States. Under conditions of mounting conflicts between the major powers, the development of the project is being pushed ahead aggressively. After Germany, France and Spain officially launched FCAS last June, there will “now be a shift to the technological development and demonstration over the next 18 months with a German investment of €78 million,” noted a report from the Defence Ministry on February 13.

In a press statement from April 22, Kramp-Karrenbauer also noted that the fighter jets were “a transition… to the future goal-oriented technology of FCAS.” The issue with the replacement of the Tornado fleet is to “equip the air force of the armed forces in the future in such a way that all of the capabilities of the Tornado, the capability of air combat, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and also the capability for nuclear participation, can be covered in the future.” In this process, it is “important that we retain the industrial policy capabilities here in Germany and Europe. We need a solution that ensures that the major European air system of the future, namely FCAS, is not put at risk in the period after 2040.”

The sums of money set aside for the project are gigantic. With the cost for each F-18 standing at $93 million (€85 million) and each Eurofighter costing $170 million (€156 million), the total cost for 138 jets amounts to $20 billion or €18.5 billion, although the cost for new rearmament programmes generally turn out to cost many multiples of the original figure.

The cost of the European air system is substantially higher. In total, costs will rise above €100 billion. Handelsblatt reported last year that by mid-century, the system will gobble up “up to €500 billion.”

In the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the financing of this project is a social and political crime. As the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons and the International Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War noted, the cost for the F-18 jets alone (€7.47 billion) would be sufficient to establish 100,000 intensive care beds, purchase 30,000 ventilators, and pay 60,000 nurses and 25,000 doctors for an entire year.

The purchase price for these weapons of mass destruction would suffice to finance the work of the World Health Organisation for four-and-a-half years.

The German government’s plans make clear that 75 years after the end of the Second World War, German imperialism and militarism is once again reviving its criminal traditions. The German ruling elite is responding to a nuclear arms buildup by the United States and the mounting tensions between the major powers by preparing their own plans for annihilation.

Influential think tanks, commentators, newspapers, and politicians have been demanding Germany’s own weapons of mass destruction for some time.

Recently, the president of the German Society for Foreign Policy (DGAP) and former head of Europe’s second large arms company EADS, Tom Enders, called, in a piece entitled, “We must talk about nuclear weapons” for collaboration with France or the creation of Germany’s own nuclear deterrent. “A responsible German security and foreign policy” must consider “the Federal Republic of Germany’s nuclear options soberly and with regard to reapolitik.” This discussion should “not exclude any option from the outset as taboo,” including “the seemingly unthinkable: does Germany need its own nuclear weapons?” The “building of a combat-ready European defence union is hard to imagine without nuclear backing.”

The only way to avert this arms race and the extermination of humanity in a third world war fought with nuclear weapons is by mobilising the working class against rearmament, war and its source—the capitalist profit system. Workers and young people must fight for the expropriation without compensation of the arms companies, the banks, and the super-rich oligarchy so that these vast resources can be deployed to combat the pandemic and meet the social needs of the vast majority. These demands are inseparable from the establishing of workers’ power and the socialist transformation of society.

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How treefrogs fool predators


This video says about itself:

Cross-Banded Treefrog Call

Impolite Science Nature: 2009 Trek to Panama. Duration: 0:50. The Cross-Banded Treefrog (Smilisca sila) was found in Santa Catalina on the banks of a small stream. This frog has more complex calls with a full moon and may be able to detect predatory bats.

Many frogs, including this one here, do not seem to be disturbed by red light, although it seems that frogs do see color at night very well.

From Purdue University in the USA:

Outsmarting the enemy: [Panama cross-banded] Treefrogs rely on illusions to find a mate without being eaten

May 6, 2020

Summary: Researchers have discovered that male treefrogs reduce their attractiveness to predators and parasites by overlapping their mating calls with their neighbors.

Treefrogs become easy targets for predators and parasites when they send mating calls, but they’re finding a way to fool their enemies with a little help from a wingman.

Researchers at Purdue University have discovered that male treefrogs reduce their attractiveness to predators and parasites by overlapping their mating calls with their neighbors. By overlapping their calls at nearly perfect synchrony with neighboring treefrogs, an auditory illusion takes effect and those enemies are more attracted to the leading call, leaving the other frogs to find mates without risking their life. The work was recently published in American Naturalist.

“The male frogs are essentially manipulating the eavesdroppers through creating this auditory illusion,” said doctoral student Henry Legett, who led the research with Ximena Bernal, associate professor of biological sciences at Purdue University. “Humans experience this illusion too, it’s called the ‘Precedence Effect.’ When we hear two short sounds in quick succession, we think the sound is only coming from the location of the first sound.”

Research at the Bernal lab focuses on the relationship between predation and communication — or what they simply refer to as eavesdropping.

“The illusion created by the male treefrogs calling in synchrony has no effect on female frogs, which was a surprising observation,” Bernal says.

“These male frogs have figured out a way to trick these enemies. We thought the females might be more attracted to the leading caller, but it didn’t really affect attraction at all. It’s a win-win for the frogs because it helps reduce attacks from those enemies who were hoping to prey on the male frogs and females are not tricked by the illusion.”

The study included experiments using playbacks of recorded calls from speakers and sound traps both in laboratory and field settings at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, where Bernal is a research associate and frequently visits to work with students. Researchers discovered that after the initial male treefrog sends a mating call, other frogs follow suit within milliseconds.

“It’s so fast, it’s almost like a reflex,” Legett said. “There’s no way their brains have time to process that information. They hear their neighbor and they react immediately.”

Bernal and Legett said the research has cultivated even more questions about how frogs communicate.

“You have to wonder why a male frog would call first, given that if increases his chances of being eaten,” Legett said. “It’s a very strategic game they’re playing. The frog that calls first might not get lucky that time, but maybe he knows he’ll get his chance the next time he hears one of his friends make the first call. These are the questions we’ll keep asking as we move forward.”

COVID-19 update, worldwide


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

David Sirota on Amazon‘s Campaign to Bury Internal Workers’ Movement

Status Coup’s Jordan Chariton speaks with journalist David Sirota about his new report on Amazon lobbying the Trump administration to stop a shareholders vote on protecting workers with PPE amid the coronavirus pandemic.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 7 May 2020:

Labour MP sacked from care home for raising PPE concerns

Nadia Whittome revealed on Wednesday night that she had been “asked not to return” to work by charitable trust ExtraCare.

LABOUR MP Nadia Whittome has claimed she was sacked from her temporary role as a carer during the coronavirus pandemic after speaking out about personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages.

The Nottingham East MP, who at 24 is the youngest in Parliament, revealed on Wednesday night that she had been “asked not to return” to work by charitable trust ExtraCare.

She had returned to her former role at Lark Hill retirement village, which is run by the trust, to help relieve strain on the care service.

Labour party MP Nadia Whittome

By Ceren Sagir in Britain, 7 May 2020:

Anti-racists warn against easing lockdown as new data shows disproportionate impact on black men and women

ANTI-RACISM campaigners warned against a premature end to the lockdown today after official figures revealed that black people are over four times more likely to die from coronavirus.

The government’s “stay at home” approach to tackling the pandemic is expected to be modified on Sunday, with a possible easing of lockdown restrictions and a winding-down of its furlough scheme subsidising the pay of laid-off workers.

Anti-racist campaigners are demanding that the lockdown continues, given that the infection rate and daily number of deaths remain high. Britain has now recorded more than 30,000 deaths from coronavirus, the worst toll of any European country.

Italian statistics agency reveals real coronavirus death toll is higher by 12,000. By Will Morrow, 7 May 2020. Even as the coronavirus pandemic’s scale is being covered up, Italian authorities have begun a full re-opening of the economy that will kill tens of thousands.

German auto companies demand even more state money. By Ulrich Rippert, 7 May 2020. Along with hunting for government stimulus packages, the auto companies are ramping up production again despite the dangers to workers’ health and lives.

The back-to-work campaign in Germany and the resurgence of the far right. By Christoph Vandreier, 7 May 2020. With its criminal back-to-work campaign, the German government is accepting the deaths of millions of workers in order to secure the profits of the rich and continue the bonanza in the financial markets.

Garment workers’ protests hit Bangladesh industrial belts. By Wimal Perera, 7 May 2020. Bangladesh garment industry bosses are reopening plants, threatening workers’ lives as COVID-19 spreads, in line with the demands of US and European retailers.

More than sixty COVID-19 cases linked to Australian abattoir outbreak. By Martin Scott, 7 May 2020. Workers were not tested until more than three weeks after the first confirmed case at the Melbourne facility.

Brittle stars see with their skin


This 6 May 2020 video says about itself:

Brittle Stars Could Teach Robots To See With Their Skin

Brittle stars are eyeless, brainless animals that spend their time hanging out in dark crevices of coral reefs. But despite all this, it seems that they can still see…using their skin!

Hosted by: Hank Green.

Coronavirus kills in Boris Johnson’s Britain


This 7 May 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

“They Didn’t Care Elderly People Would Die” – Truth They Don’t Want You to Hear | Nadia Whittome MP

MP Nadia Whittome was Sacked as a Care Worker for Speaking Out. This is the Truth They Don’t Want You to Hear.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain, 7 May 2020:

Government says that there could be more coronavirus-linked care-home deaths

THE UK shuld be braced for further increases in the number of coronavirus-linked care-home deaths, the daily Downing Street press conference heard today.

Public Health England medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle said the figure for deaths in care homes may be revised upwards.

She told the press conference: “In due course those deaths sadly may occur on death certificates, so we may expect more than we are seeing at the moment, yes.”

Deaths surge in UK care homes. By Stephen Alexander, 7 May 2020. Data based on death notifications directly from care homes recorded 6,391 COVID-19 fatalities between April 10 and May 1.

UK Chancellor Sunak to wind down furlough wage scheme as part of back-to-work offensive. By Robert Stevens and Julie Hyland, 7 May 2020. The furlough scheme is being ended with workers facing either going back into work in unsafe conditions, in the middle of a deadly pandemic, or losing their jobs.

A sticker against anti-Chinese racism is seen showing the words ‘Isolate virus, not people’, in China Town, Leicester Square, London

By Ceren Sagir in Britain, 7 May 2020:

Too scared to walk alone: racism spikes against Chinese community

BRITAIN’S Chinese community are “too scared to venture out alone” due to rising levels of racist abuse linked to the coronavirus pandemic, a report reveals today.

The abuse has forced people of Chinese heritage to withdraw from society in Britain, research led by Profesor Binna Kandola has warned.

Chinese people have been coughed at, attacked and told to “go back home”, according to the academic.

COVID-19 keeps killing in Trump’s USA


This 6 May 2020 video from the USA is called Trump‘s “war against society”, with Joseph Kishore.

TRUMP REBUKES NURSE ON NATIONAL NURSES DAY President Donald Trump is getting called out on social media for his treatment of a nurse during a National Nurses Day event in the Oval Office. “PPE has been sporadic,” Sophia L. Thomas, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, said. Thomas, who has been reusing her own N95 mask for weeks, said nurses adapt to what she said was a “manageable” situation. But Trump zeroed in on her first line. “Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people,” he said. [HuffPost]

I’m one of the resident doctors in NYC. Here’s how we’re being exploited.

RENT THE RUNWAY IS RISKING WORKERS’ LIVES Martina stood outside the Rent the Runway warehouse where she works in Secaucus, New Jersey, in mid-April and took a deep breath. She was dreading going inside — there were rumors that several of her co-workers had fallen ill from the coronavirus as it ravaged the tri-state area. But she needed the money, and management had given warehouse workers two options: Work without hazard pay, or stay home and don’t get paid at all. Rent the Runway is using a lockdown loophole to keep distributing shipments of high-end fashion apparel to be rented and worn in isolation — frequently by people posing for mirror selfies. [HuffPost]

CORONAVIRUS COULD CHANGE THE WAY WE EAT MEAT The commercial meat industry, highly centralized and largely controlled by four companies — Cargill, JBS, Smithfield and Tyson — has been rocked by the coronavirus. As the virus spread to some of the country’s largest meat processing facilities, it killed workers and forced plants to shut down for deep cleaning. Nearly 5,000 meatpacking employees have contracted COVID-19 at 115 meat and poultry processing facilities. The price of beef and pork has plummeted and livestock producers have resorted to euthanizing surplus stock. [HuffPost]

FIRST IMMIGRANT IN ICE DETENTION DIES OF CORONAVIRUS An immigrant being held in detention at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in San Diego has died of COVID-19. A 57-year-old detainee at ICE’s Otay Mesa facility, which is run by private contractor CoreCivic, died early Wednesday of complications of the coronavirus disease after being hospitalized since late April, according to San Diego County officials. This is the first reported COVID-19 death of an immigrant in ICE custody. [HuffPost]

How coronavirus is affecting the Latinx community’s mental health.

FEARS OF ‘BACKSLIDE’ AS LOCKDOWNS LOOSEN As Europe and the U.S. loosen their lockdowns against the coronavirus, health experts are expressing growing dread over what they say is an all-but-certain second wave of deaths and infections. “We’re risking a backslide that will be intolerable,” said Dr. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University. German authorities began drawing up plans in case of a resurgence of the virus. Experts in Italy urged intensified efforts to identify new victims and trace their contacts. And France, which hasn’t yet eased its lockdown, has worked up a “reconfinement plan” in the event of a new wave. [AP]

WHO WARNS OF MORE OUTBREAKS IF LOCKDOWNS EASE TOO QUICKLY The World Health Organization warned that countries emerging from coronavirus restrictions must proceed “extremely carefully” or risk a rapid rise in new cases. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries needed to ensure they had adequate measures to control the spread of COVID-19 like tracking systems and a quarantine provision. “The risk of returning to lockdown remains very real if countries do not manage the transition extremely carefully and in a phased approach,” he said. [Reuters]

The coronavirus killed American exceptionalism.

COVID-19 kills in Donald Trump’s USA


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

Trump rebukes nurse in Oval Office who mentions shortage of PPE

BREAKING: Trump just rebuked a nurse in the Oval Office who mentioned a shortage of PPE in hospitals.

To demand our hospitals get the PPE that they NEED, sign here.

Whistleblower complaint details Trump administration’s corruption and obstruction of anti-pandemic efforts. By Barry Grey, 7 May 2020. Dr. Rick Bright, who headed the office overseeing the development of a coronavirus vaccine, was removed from his post after he leaked information concerning his opposition to Trump’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine.

Coronavirus pandemic ravages rural areas in US and internationally. By Bryan Dyne, 7 May 2020. There is growing evidence that at least one mutation of the virus, more infectious and possibly more deadly than the current strain, has begun to spread.

The anti-China war rhetoric is being intensified because the Trump administration knows that its return-to-work policy is going to result in tens of thousands more deaths in the US: here.

“The company is not disclosing any information about sickness and deaths”. UPS workers in New York and New Jersey speak out on the COVID-19 pandemic. By our reporters, 7 May 2020. UPS drivers and sorters are working without proper PPE and health benefits, while management is concealing information about the spread of the virus, which has killed at least two workers.