Dying from COVID-19 for Wall Street?


This 8 May 2020 animated cartoon video by Mark Fiore in the USA says about itself:

Supply-Siders for Death and Tax Cuts

As states and counties across the United States begin to relax social distancing measures and “reopen” the economy, just remember— it’s the economists and politicians driving those decisions, not infectious disease doctors. The curve is definitely not yet flat.

Still feel like going shopping?

The White House is, of course, the main venue where economists push to relax social distancing measures. But not just any economists, bad ones who have repeatedly been wrong about economic predictions and policy advice. Now Trump’s right-wing economists are trying their hand at public health policy.

Orchids in Keukenhof flower park, video


This 30 April 2020 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

Because you cannot visit Keukenhof right now, we decided to bring Keukenhof to you!

In this video, Cor Middelkoop tells you everything there is to know about the orchids in the Beatrix pavilion. Did you know there are 3800 different orchids in this show?

COVID-19 update, Europe


This 7 May 2020 video from Britadin is called People’s Assembly Rally: The Fight for Our Lives. #HealthBeforeWealth.

British government forced to partially backtrack on ending lockdown. By Robert Stevens, 9 May 2020. The opposition among millions of workers and throughout the population was expressed in Thursday’s top trending hashtags #KeepTheLockdown and #extendthelockdown.

Homeless face desperation on London streets amid lockdown. By Charles Hixson, 9 May 2020. Those remaining on London’s streets face increased deprivation, as normal sources of food from distributors and food kitchens have gone.

NHS staff condemn UK health worker deaths and government herd immunity strategy. By our reporters, 9 May 2020. The UK has registered the highest number of fatalities in Europe from the virus, including at least 200 health and social care workers.

France: Macron government ending coronavirus lockdown beginning this Monday. By Alex Lantier, 9 May 2020. The government’s reckless decision, in line with similar measures underway across Europe and the US, puts countless lives at risk.

French Senate votes to give officials legal indemnity over coronavirus infections. By Jacques Valentin, 9 May 2020. The provisions cover the entire period since the state declared a national health emergency in March, and apply to elected representatives, ministers, civil servants and employers.

Germany reopens schools, endangering thousands of lives. By Marianne Arens, 9 May 2020. Schools are being reopened in nearly all federal states and the risky measure is meeting with growing opposition from teachers.

Greece comes out of lockdown and plans resumption of tourism. By John Vassilopoulos, 9 May 2020. The lifting of the measures, which will undo efforts that have lowered the spread and death rate from COVID-19, is of crucial importance to the Greek ruling elite.

Lisowicia, big extinct Polish mammal-like reptile


This 8 May 2020 video says about itself:

Lisowicia – The Polish Turtle Dragon

The single largest species of Dicynodonts was described last year. It wasn’t altogether extraordinary for weird crests, lumps, spines, or claws, but what it means by its sheer size is quite important for the evolution of mammals and dinosaurs.

Rock and roll singer Little Richard, RIP


This music video from the USA is called Little Richard – “Long Tall Sally” – from “Don’t Knock The Rock” – HQ 1956.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Rock and roll legend Little Richard (87) passed away

US American singer Little Richard passed away at the age of 87. His son has confirmed this to the American music magazine Rolling Stone. The cause of death is unknown.

Little Richard is considered one of the most important founders of rock ‘n’ roll. He is often mentioned in the same breath with greats like Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.

In the mid-fifties, he had great success with songs like Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, Lucille and Good Golly Miss Molly. …

With his exciting way of singing and performances with many show elements, he left his own mark on rock and roll. He influenced many other musicians, including Prince, Michael Jackson and The Beatles. …

Religion

Richard Penniman grew up in a very religious family. His father was a clergyman, and his mother was also very active in the church. At home he was called Little Richard because he was small and thin. Later he chose this nickname as the stage name.

At a young age he sang in the church choir and learned to play the piano. He was influenced musically by gospel singers like Joe May, Rosetta Tharpe and Marion Williams. When Tharpe heard him sing two of her songs before a concert, she was so impressed that she invited him to the stage. Since then, Little Richard wanted nothing more than to be on stage. …

In 1955 he released Tutti Frutti, which was an immediate success in both the United States and Great Britain. The successor Long Tall Sally (1956) did even better. With that he reached the first place in the US R&B list. Millions of copies of both singles were sold.

In three years he scored 18 hits …

Obscene lyrics

The surprise was great when he announced at a concert in Sydney in 1957 that he was quitting to become a preacher. He made that decision based on some ‘omens’, such as a red fireball that he had seen flying through the sky during the Sydney concert. He saw that as a warning from God to do penance for making music with obscene lyrics and his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Later, the red fireball turned out to come from the launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite.

Back in the US, he went on to study theology and then travelled the country as a preacher. He also recorded gospel songs again. …

In 1962 he was persuaded by his tour manager to perform again in Europe. The newly started band The Beatles played as a support act several times and he gave Paul McCartney vocal advice. …

Homosexuality

In 1995 he told in an interview that he was gay. A sensitive subject for the deeply religious singer. He was married once, but that marriage didn’t last long. He had no children of his own. However, he did adopt a baby through his church, Danny Jones, who often acted as his bodyguard when he got older.

He continued to perform in the new millennium, although it became physically more difficult because he had problems with his leg and hip.

In 2012, Rolling Stone magazine wrote of his concert in Washington, D.C. “still full of fire, still a master showman, his voice still loaded with deep gospel and raunchy power.”

South African honey bees’ virgin birth


This April 2017 video from South Africa says about itself:

Bee warned, beekeeper Fanie Rautenbach says

The Western Cape is experiencing a drastic decline in the bee population which sends out a serious warning to agriculture that soon there will be no bees for pollination.

From the University of Sydney in Australia:

Virgin birth has scientists buzzing

Researchers discover a gene in honey bees that causes virgin birth

May 7, 2020

In a study published today in Current Biology, researchers from the University of Sydney have identified the single gene that determines how Cape honey bees reproduce without ever having sex. One gene, GB45239 on chromosome 11, is responsible for virgin births.

“It is extremely exciting,” said Professor Benjamin Oldroyd in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. “Scientists have been looking for this gene for the last 30 years. Now that we know it’s on chromosome 11, we have solved a mystery.”

Behavioural geneticist Professor Oldroyd said: “Sex is a weird way to reproduce and yet it is the most common form of reproduction for animals and plants on the planet. It’s a major biological mystery why there is so much sex going on and it doesn’t make evolutionary sense. Asexuality is a much more efficient way to reproduce, and every now and then we see a species revert to it.”

In the Cape honey bee, found in South Africa, the gene has allowed worker bees to lay eggs that only produce females instead of the normal males that other honey bees do. “Males are mostly useless,” Professor Oldroyd said. “But Cape workers can become genetically reincarnated as a female queen and that prospect changes everything.”

But it also causes problems. “Instead of being a cooperative society, Cape honey bee colonies are riven with conflict because any worker can be genetically reincarnated as the next queen. When a colony loses its queen the workers fight and compete to be the mother of the next queen,” Professor Oldroyd said.

The ability to produce daughters asexually, known as “thelytokous parthenogenesis,” is restricted to a single subspecies inhabiting the Cape region of South Africa, the Cape honey bee or Apis mellifera capensis.

Several other traits distinguish the Cape honey bee from other honey bee subspecies. In particular, the ovaries of worker bees are larger and more readily activated and they are able to produce queen pheromones, allowing them to assert reproductive dominance in a colony.

These traits also lead to a propensity for social parasitism, a behaviour where Cape bee workers invade foreign colonies, reproduce and persuade the host colony workers to feed their larvae. Every year in South Africa, 10,000 colonies of commercial beehives die because of the social parasite behaviour in Cape honey bees.

“This is a bee we must keep out of Australia,” Professor Oldroyd said.

The existence of Cape bees with these characters has been known for over a hundred years, but it is only recently, using modern genomic tools, that we have been able to understand the actual gene that gives rise to virgin birth.

“Further study of Cape bees could give us insight into two major evolutionary transitions: the origin of sex and the origin of animal societies,” Professor Oldroyd said.

Perhaps the most exciting prospect arising from this study is the possibility to understand how the gene actually works functionally. “If we could control a switch that allows animals to reproduce asexually, that would have important applications in agriculture, biotechnology and many other fields,” Professor Oldroyd said. For instance, many pest ant species like fire ants are thelytokous, though unfortunately it seems to be a different gene to the one found in Capensis.”

Super-rich want coronavirus taxpayers’ money for themselves


This 28 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

KARE 11 investigates pandemic profiteering

A garage door slams closed in the Phoenix, AZ suburb of Avondale as a reporter asks, “Do you think it’s fair to sell four rolls of toilet paper for $40?”

The man being asked the question is an eBay seller who goes by the handle ‘cubswon2016.’

KARE 11 Investigates, in partnership with sister station KPNX in Phoenix, tracked down the eBay merchant after a Minnesota man contacted us claiming online price-gouging.

Translated from Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland, 9 May 2020:

Some Quote 500

the list of the 500 richest people in the Netherlands of Quote magazine

entrepreneurs applied for government support after just a few weeks of the coronavirus crisis. They transfer their losses to the taxpayers, it soon sounded. Is that criticism justified? Investigative journalists of collective Spit visited all 500 of them.

By Dieuwertje Kuijpers, Kim van Keken, Parcival Weijnen and Bram Logger

Since, according to Prime Minister Rutte,

of the pro-Big Busfiness VVD party

we will “get through the crisis only together”, the question arises which part of the coronavirus damage the richest businessmen in the Netherlands themselves bear. …

Others were energetic in not replying: “Whether we give our supermarket employees something extra money during corona time? I answer neutrally.” “What does that mean? “No yes and no no. Bye”, said supermarket chain Nettorama (owned by Jaap Bastmeijer, number 70 of the Quote 500, owns 510 million euros).

Companies that are in serious trouble due to the corona crisis can count on government support of a total of ten to twenty billion euros per quarter. …

Frowned eyebrows

Companies come knocking on the government’s door. Including the companies that paid generous dividends and bonuses in the pre-corona period. Or rigged structures to contribute as little as possible to the treasury – but now want emergency support after a month of headwind. Eg, Quote discovered that Booking.com received a 1.8 billion tax discount last year, the CEO’s annual income was more than 12 million euros, but at the same time the corporation was one of the first to apply for state aid.

It raised eyebrows, also in the House of Representatives. Farid Azarkan (DENK party) wondered at the end of March “why it would be different for corporations than if we help someone who applies for welfare.” Someone who has more than 5,555 euros in savings will not receive any welfare.

What about the morality of the wealthy who are now asking for state aid to save their empires? Member of Parliament Esther Ouwehand (Party for the Animals) mentioned the Van Drie family (the seventh richest family in the Quote 500), who built up a billion-dollar fortune with a calf slaughterhouse empire: ‘Does the VVD party also consider that these high-net worth organizations themselves have to do something to get their subsidiaries off the ground before we consider any support? ”

… Meanwhile, VVD party member Prime Minister Rutte continues to emphasize that we must “come out of the crisis together.” …

“Businessmen say that societal issues is something for politics, the economy supposedly talks about facts.” It shows how amoral capitalism works. “Social issues are something the business community thinks is political, the economy is supposedly about facts”, says [university philosophy letcturer] Van Baardewijk. …

Take Roland Kahn, who has a capital of 140 million (313rd in the Quote-500). The owner of clothing stores MS Mode and America Today asked for emergency support after two weeks of lockdown and stopped paying suppliers and rent, an effective way to put crisis problems on someone else’s back. …

Rituals, a Raymond Cloosterman company (number 82, assets 470 million), is also happily transferring the bill for the corona crisis to the real estate sector. The chain that promises to “convert daily routines into meaningful rituals” announces that it will no longer pay rent on 1 April and that it will “start a conversation”. …

Under pressure

The number 10 of the Quote 500, Marcel Boekhoorn (capital: 2 billion), also did not know how quickly he had to pass on the bill of the corona crisis. As the owner of HEMA, he already informed the landlords before the corona measures were fully in force to transfer only half of the rent in April and May. …

Cancelled

The richest family in the Netherlands, Brenninkmeijer (No. 1 on the list, with assets of 22.5 billion), made it very colourful. The owner of clothing chain C&A sent a letter to the landlords saying that the company is demanding a discount: “In the absence of a formal response or objection on your part, you are expected to agree.” Orders were cancelled, even if they were already ready layers to be shipped.

The company cancelled orders worth 151 million euros in Bangladesh. Workers of clothing factories were suddenly at home without income. “As if you were ordering a pizza, but as soon as the delivery person arrives at the door, you don’t feel like it,” says Christie Miedema, campaign coordinator for the Clean Clothes Campaign, to OneWorld. …

Piri-piri paradise

Nando’s, an international chain of chicken canteens, owned by the Dutch businessman Dick Enthoven (No. 33, wealth 1 billion), is also trying to put itself in the sympathetic socially responsible spotlight. The piri-piri paradise has branches in mainly Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa.

Recently, Nandos made headlines as it left migrants underpaid, staff cleaning restaurants unpaid, and skimming wages below the minimum. The chicken canteen uses Covid-19 as an opportunity to polish its image. “At Nando, we don’t just serve chicken, we serve the community. We’re all in this together”, said the vice president of marketing of the Canadian branch. …

Only Albert Heijn said what bonuses looked like for workers: at Easter, employees received a gift voucher worth 25 euros that they can spend at Albert Heijn (or [Albert Heijn alcoholic drinks shop] Gall & Gall). …

Some of the Quote 500 are doing well in these times. A good example of this is Steven Schuurman (no. 29, 1.1 billion) who, with his open-source data and search engine Elastisearch, not only supplies a sought-after product, but also supplies a range of stable customers such as healthcare, universities and the US American air force. The company also posted good results for the first quarter.

How Neanderthals made bone tools


This 2019 video says about itself:

Mousterian Lithics: Multiple Neandertal Tools from Single Stone

Former experimental archaeologist Nathan Martinez demonstrates how hard hammer percussion flaking can turn a single untreated chert stone into razor-edged flake knives, a hand axe and multiple Levallois blades.

From the University of California – Davis in the USA:

Neanderthals were choosy about making bone tools

May 8, 2020

Evidence continues to mount that the Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and Asia until about 40,000 years ago, were more sophisticated people than once thought. A new study from UC Davis shows that Neanderthals chose to use bones from specific animals to make a tool for specific purpose: working hides into leather.

Naomi Martisius, research associate in the Department of Anthropology, studied Neanderthal tools from sites in southern France for her doctoral research. The Neanderthals left behind a tool called a lissoir, a piece of animal rib with a smoothed tip used to rub animal hides to make them into leather. These lissoirs are often worn so smooth that it’s impossible to tell which animal they came from just by looking at them.

Martisius and colleagues used highly sensitive mass spectrometry to look at residues of collagen protein from the bones. The method is called ZooMS, or Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry. The technique breaks up samples into fragments that can be identified by their mass to charge ratio and used to reconstruct the original molecule.

Normally, this method would involve drilling a sample from the bone. To avoid damaging the precious specimens, Martisius and colleagues were able to lift samples from the plastic containers in which the bones had been stored and recover enough material to perform an analysis.

Favoring bovine ribs over deer

The results show that the bones used to make lissoirs mostly came from animals in the cattle family, such as bison or aurochs (a wild relative of modern cattle that is now extinct). But other animal bones from the same deposit show that reindeer were much more common and frequently hunted for food. So the Neanderthals were choosing to use only ribs from certain types of animals to make these tools.

“I think this shows that Neanderthals really knew what they were doing,” Martisius said. “They were deliberately picking up these larger ribs when they happened to come across these animals while hunting and they may have even kept these rib tools for a long time, like we would with a favorite wrench or screwdriver.”

Bovine ribs are bigger and more rigid than deer ribs, making them better suited for the hard work of rubbing skins without wearing out or breaking.

“Neanderthals knew that for a specific task, they needed a very particular tool. They found what worked best and sought it out when it was available,” Martisius said.

Blade-like tools and animal tooth pendants previously discovered in Europe, and once thought to possibly be the work of Neanderthals, are in fact the creation of Homo sapiens, or modern humans, who emigrated from Africa, finds a new analysis by an international team of researchers. Its conclusions, reported in the journal Nature, add new clarity to the arrival of Homo sapiens into Europe and to their interactions with the continent’s indigenous and declining Neanderthal population: here.

Climate scientists from the IBS Center for Climate Physics discover that, contrary to previously held beliefs, Neanderthal extinction was neither caused by abrupt glacial climate shifts, nor by interbreeding with Homo sapiens. According to new supercomputer model simulations, only competition between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens can explain the rapid demise of Neanderthals around 43 to 38 thousand years ago: here.

Coronavirus disaster in Trump’s and Pence’s USA


This 9 May 2020 video from India says about itself:

COVID-19 scare in the White House

U.S Vice President Mike Pence‘s press secretary Katie Miller has tested positive for COVID-19. The diagnosis of Katie Miller has raised an alarm about the spread of coronavirus within the White House. Katie Miller is married to President Donald Trump‘s aide Stephen Miller who is working as White House Immigration Adviser.

After Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s spokesman

The social desperation of millions of people in the United States is being used by the ruling class to compel a return to work amidst the expanding coronavirus pandemic: here.

Striking workers demand coronavirus protection

Strikes and workers’ protests mount against “back to work” campaign. By Shannon Jones, 9 May 2019. The incompetence and callous disregard for human life by the capitalist authorities in country after country is fueling an upsurge in the class struggle.

Why are thermal imaging cameras being deployed in US workplaces? By Kevin Reed, 9 May 2020. Since many infected people are asymptomatic, thermal imaging scanners in workplaces have more to do with the erection of a repressive apparatus than with fighting the pandemic.

Number of COVID-19 cases hits 4 million worldwide. By Benjamin Mateus, 9 May 2020. The number of deaths has exceeded 275,000 and infections are growing. Yet, the stock markets continue to rise, despite unprecedented job losses.

Children in US and UK dying from syndrome linked to COVID-19. By Jacob Crosse, 9 May 2020. At least two children in the US and one in the UK have died from the newly identified pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which is believed to be related to COVID-19.

US state governments of Virginia and Maryland plan to reopen businesses. By Ray Coleman and Nick Barrickman, 9 May 2020. Despite lack of scientific evidence that the pandemic has been contained, Virginia and Maryland governments have announced plans to begin reopening businesses this week.

Over the past two weeks, an emergency medical technician and an ER doctor working in New York City, the hardest-hit region in the US, committed suicide after an avalanche of COVID-19 patients began flooding New York City’s hospitals and emergency rooms. Psychiatric experts are warning that these tragic deaths could very well be a harbinger for an intensifying mental health crisis in the US, especially as federal officials and state governments move to reopen the economy and risk the lives of millions with a still rising infection rate: here.

COVID-19 cases skyrocket among the US homeless population. By Renae Cassimeda, 9 May 2020. Infection rates are rising among the homeless, many of whom are dying in the shadows and will not be counted in the COVID death toll.