Venomous snakes in Africa, video


This 17 May 2020 video says about itself:

Venomous bush vipers are small snakes from Africa from genus the Atheris. In this video, you will see 3 species of bush vipers in the wild – Green bush viper (Atheris squamigera), Hairy bush viper or Rough-scaled bush viper (Atheris hispida) and Great lakes bush viper (Atheris nitschei).

All these venomous snakes are beautiful and endangered from habitat destruction and collecting for the pet trade. Watch this video to see them in the natural habitat and learn about the importance of protecting them.

There is also footage of Gaboon viper, Rhinoceros viper, Jameson’s mamba and Large-eyed green tree snake, Johnston’s chameleon and Strange-horned chameleon.

Coronavirus disaster in Donald Trump’s USA news


This 17 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

[Rupert Murdoch Fox News employee] Pete Hegseth: Why Won’t You Die For Capitalism?

Keyboard warrior Pete Hegseth wants you to get a “military mindset” and sacrifice yourself in the name of capitalism. Sam Seder discusses on The Majority Report.

“There will be a human cost from this. Everyone knows that.” Drive to reopen auto plants in North America threatens thousands of lives. By Shannon Jones, 16 May 2020 As the Detroit-based auto companies prepare to restart their North American factories, opposition is growing among workers to a deadly return to work.

“I am not going to die for this company that only thinks about the millions they have in the bank”. Mounting opposition among autoworkers on eve of industry restart. By Marcus Day, 16 May 2020. New cases of the virus have already emerged at FCA’s Sterling Heights Assembly this week, even before the plants officially reopen Monday.

Mississippi: Workers at Brentwood Originals pillow factory continue walkouts. By Cordell Gascoigne, 16 May 2020. The walkouts at the Mississippi pillow factory are part of a wave of wildcat strikes and other job actions across the United States and internationally by workers demanding protection from COVID-19.

Striking workers in Yakima, Washington [Credit: Familias Unidas por La Justicia Facebook page]

Hundreds of workers walk out at six fruit packing plants in Washington state. By David Fitzgerald and Kayla Costa, 16 May 2020. Located in the county with the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the state, the agricultural workers are demanding companies provide adequate personal protective equipment, hazard pay and safe working conditions.

With private prison outbreak, Tennessee county leads US in per capita COVID-19 cases. By Warren Duzak, 16 May 2020. More than half of the 2,400 inmates at the CoreCivic Trousdale Turner Correctional Center have tested positive for coronavirus.

The murderous pseudoscience of “herd immunity”. 16 May 2020. Proponents of “herd immunity” argue that measures to contain COVID-19 should be abandoned, allowing the disease to infect billions of people and kill countless millions: here.

Birds, bluebells, frogs and wild pansies


Edible frogs on 17 May 2020

Still 17 May 2020 in the coastal sand dunes nature reserve. At the pond with edible frogs during their mating season …

White water-crowfoot, Egmond, 17 May 2020

.. and white water-crowfoot, where the frogs deposit their eggs on.

Bluebells flowering.

Wild pansies, 17 May 2020

A bit further, wild pansies growing on the sand dunes.

Wild pansies, on 17 May 2020

Wild pansies, Egmond, 17 May 2020

Wild pansies, Egmond, on 17 May 2020

Wild pansies, in Egmond, 17 May 2020

As we walk back: a grey heron at the second lake.

A greenfinch. A robin.

A swift flying.

Finally, again a meadow pipit on a pole.

Puerto Rican governor endangers people’s lives


This 1 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Caravan for Life: Protesters in Puerto Rico Demand More Tests & Resources to Combat the Coronavirus

On Thursday in Puerto Rico, activists in dozens of cars held a “Caravan Por La Vida”, or “Caravan for Life”, through San Juan to demand the government provide more COVID-19 tests and sufficient resources for people to stay at home during the pandemic.

At least 92 people have died from COVID-19 in Puerto Rico, and last week the island was reporting a testing rate lower than any U.S. state, at an abysmal average of 15 tests a day for every 100,000 people. No one in Puerto Rico has received $1,200 checks from the government, according to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.

Police stopped the caravan and said their sound trucks were illegal. When organizer Giovanni Roberto demanded that police describe the laws they were breaking, he was arrested. Roberto was released later in the night, and his charges of obstruction of justice were dropped. We hear voices from the protest.

By Alberto Escalera:

Amid charges of unsafe conditions, Puerto Rico’s governor issues back-to-work orders

15 May 2020

On May 1, Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced issued an executive order allowing for the phased resumption of non-essential commercial and manufacturing activities by May 11. Under the executive order, insurance, real estate and legal services were allowed to resume operations, along with hardware stores, auto repair and sales shops, other appliance repair and installation businesses on May 4. Retail banking operations and medical offices, including dentists and optometrists, were also given a green light to reopen.

The order also allowed for gas stations and pharmacies, which previously had been allowed to operate on a restricted schedule, to resume normal operating hours. Construction and manufacturing at non-essential plants were also allowed to resume on May 11. The government is also planning for a reopening of non-essential retail outlets, restaurants, bars, barbershops and beauty salons before the end of the month.

In order to reopen or continue operations, businesses are being required to complete a “self-certification” form attesting to the development of a control plan or risk-management plan. There is to be no official review of said plans. Rather, there is a self-certification form, which consists of 21 questions that require checkmarks in “yes” or “no” boxes, that is to be submitted to the Department of Labor and Human Resources once completed. In other words, businesses have been left to supervise themselves in all matters related to worker safety as the government’s regulatory agencies essentially wash their hands of the matter.

Not surprisingly, within businesses that have remained open since the outbreak of the pandemic there has been a rash of workers’ denunciations of unsafe conditions. The Puerto Rican Occupational Safety and Health Administration (PROSHA) has registered a sharp increase in complaints since March of this year. According to an investigation conducted by the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI), a collective of investigative journalists that advocates for transparency, the period between March 14 and April 29 saw 680 coronavirus-related workplace complaints filed with the PROSHA.

Of the registered coronavirus-related complaints, nearly 60 were submitted by hospital or health care workers. Significantly, several of the complaints to PROSHA have been leveled against Walmart stores and Banco Popular branches. Walmart and Banco Popular, Puerto Rico’s biggest bank, are two of the largest private employers in the territory.

In comments recently made to CPI reporters, a retail worker at a Walmart located in Bayamón, a densely populated town located just southwest of San Juan, described the situation for workers at the store. “There is no control of the public entrance and people are entering as if it were normal sales. .. For an employee to get a mask they make us sign a liability release and if we do not sign, we are sent home. The company doesn’t just supply masks. This is why several associates have opted to bring their own masks. But as I said, if you don’t fill out a release, they send you home.” Other workers have denounced these companies for withholding information about positive cases at work sites.

Additionally, several manufacturing outfits that have remained open in Puerto Rico throughout the pandemic have also been exposed for their reckless and criminal endangerment of workers. Employees at an Eaton-Cutler Hammer plant, located in the northern town of Arecibo, have repeatedly denounced the electrical supplies and power management company, which boasts operations in 175 countries and posted $21 billion in revenues during 2019, for not providing PPE or orientation on workplace safety protocols to workers.

Other manufacturing companies with operations in Puerto Rico denounced by workers for unsafe conditions related to COVID-19 include: ABB, Thermo King, Abbott, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Zimmer Bionet and SNL Technical.

In all of these cases, the response of PROSHA, which is itself an agency within the Puerto Rican Department of Labor and Human Resources, has been to require that the cited companies investigate themselves.

PROSHA has been notoriously negligent in intervening on behalf of workers. The last year of comprehensive reports on PROSHA inspections that currently appears on its website is 2014, during which, by the agency’s own account, it conducted only 33 inspections out of the 101 cases that remained pending from previous years.

Beyond the criminally complicit role being played by regulatory agencies, capitalist policies during the pandemic are being channeled through quasi-governmental agencies such as the Puerto Rico Business Emergency Operation Center (BEOC), which was recently reorganized as the governor’s “economic task force” for response to the coronavirus.

Tellingly, the governor’s economic task force is comprised entirely of representatives of the most powerful sectors of international capital with operations in the colony, including companies that workers have denounced for COVID-related workplace hazards. For example, Iván Báez, a Walmart executive, and Ignacio Álvarez, president and executive director of Banco Popular, are both members of the governor’s task force.

Other members of the economic task force include: Jaime Fonalledas, the patriarch of a commercial real estate and dairy dynasty with close ties to US retail interests and the Republican party; Emilio Colón Závala, an engineering and construction firm executive; Wendy Perry, an executive with the pharmaceutical giant Merck; Zoimé Álvarez, vice president of the Puerto Rican Bankers Association; and Eduardo Pagán, an executive of Tote Maritime, the largest shipping monopoly in Puerto Rico.

The rush to restart commercial and manufacturing activities in Puerto Rico takes place within the broader context of a prolonged economic recession dating since 2006, a dramatic surge in so-called public debt, and savage austerity measures imposed by successive administrations which have resulted in the dismantling of education and health care systems and the deterioration of physical infrastructure. Puerto Rico also has a notoriously low labor participation rate that has led to an exodus of over 500,000 residents over the past decade, with 45 percent of its remaining population, including 58 percent of children, living below the poverty line.

The 2016 Promesa Law, enacted under the Obama administration, created a legal framework for debt restructuring under federal bankruptcy courts while imposing a nine-person, Fiscal Control Board (FCB), known locally as la junta, with dictatorial powers that have enabled it to impose even more draconian cuts to social programs and pensions in the island colony. Earlier this year, the FCB expanded on the playbook used during the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings to impose an 8.5 percent cut to the pensions of public sector retirees.

Indeed, an application of this kind of bankruptcy model to restructure the growing debt of states across the US is already being foreshadowed by the political representatives of the ruling class, as evidenced by recent comments by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

The coronavirus pandemic has only worsened the increasingly dire social conditions imposed upon workers in Puerto Rico. In September of 2017, Puerto Rico suffered a devastating hurricane under a criminally negligent and corrupt administration which cost the lives of nearly 5,000 people.

A year and a half later, social tensions reached a critical point when a leaked chat between government officials brought to the fore rampant and brazen corruption as well as a mafia-style political culture at the highest levels of the administration. Days of massive protests eventually led to the forced ouster of then governor, Ricardo Rosselló. Earlier this year, a wave of earthquakes struck several towns along the southern coast of the main island leaving hundreds of families in tent encampments and raising further questions about the mishandling of emergency management and corruption.

Since the outbreak of the current pandemic, Puerto Rico has registered 2,427 positive coronavirus cases and 117 deaths as of May 14. It continues to have one of the lowest rates of testing on the planet, despite previous official statements to the effect that the government would base its strategy for dealing with the health crisis primarily on testing and isolation measures.

In fact, the Puerto Rican Health Department recently stopped updating data on testing in a feeble attempt to cover up the government’s reckless abandonment of the health and lives of the workers who it has committed to forcing back to work.

A recent scandal that has led to public hearings in the colonial legislature was provoked when a construction company with ties to the PNP administration, Apex General Contractors, was awarded a $38 million contract via a fast-track process to procure thousands of testing kits from a nebulous company based in Australia, Premedical, whose business activity prior to the pandemic consisted of selling fat-freezing gadgets, ultrasound vaginal rejuvenation and erectile function machines. The testing kit contract was ultimately cancelled.

Just as in other parts of the United States and Latin America, the working class in Puerto Rico is assimilating bitter lessons. Like workers across the globe, they are being forced to sacrifice their health and lives to guarantee capitalist profits. The independent, political organization of the working class, guided by a socialist and internationalist program, has never been more urgent than the present.

The author also recommends:

Puerto Rico braces for COVID-19 peak with lowest per capita testing
[13 April 2020]

The mass protests in Puerto Rico
[24 July 2019]

‘Mild’ coronavirus infection is not mild


This 24 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Doctor With COVID-19 Describes Symptoms As ‘Pain Everywhere’

An infectious disease specialist at the University of Alabama, Dr. Michael Saag, contracted the coronavirus and detailed his symptoms to NBC News. After monitoring how he felt for a few days, his symptoms turned from mild to extreme, in what Saag called “a horrible feeling.”

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Thousands of patients with ‘mild’ corona complaints have been ill for weeks

Thousands of patients who are home with confirmed or unconfirmed covid-19 infection remain ill for weeks. Their complaints are often referred to as “mild”, but in many cases they are not. Some people have been sick for at least two months.

A RIVM [national health authority] spokesperson says it is “on the agenda to discuss”. The Dutch College of General Practitioners (NHG) says that “this is really a problem.”

About 6000 patients with long-term complaints are now members of a peer group on Facebook.

Symptoms deleted

The misguided idea that patients who are at home have mild complaints haunts them. The guideline of the National Coordination of Infectious Disease Control of RIVM states that confirmed covid-19 patients must remain in isolation at home until they are free of symptoms for 24 hours and at least seven days after the first day of illness.

All kinds of symptoms that many people in this patient group have, such as persistent fatigue, loss of smell and taste and postviral cough, are not considered covid-19 symptoms in the guideline. Those symptoms can also appear after other viral infections. Why these symptoms do not count as covid-19 symptoms is unclear.

Some patients report that their employers and occupational health and safety services pressure them to return to work by referring to information on the RIVM website. A 50-year-old patient who wants to remain anonymous because of ‘hassle’ with an employer, says that he is “stalked by the occupational health service and the employer” two or three times a week.

They appeal to RIVM, which says that “the recovery period after mild complaints is a few days. That is absolutely not true.”

The person involved has been at home being ill since the beginning of March and, despite all kinds of symptoms that indicate an infection, has never been tested. Shortness of breath and poor sleep continue. “And very tired. I can’t really take one step. Unprecedented.”

Relapse

The 47-year-old writer Esther J. Ending has been sick since March 16. Antibodies to the coronavirus have been detected in her, so she has had an infection. “I suddenly didn’t smell anymore, that’s how it started. After that, I had a severe headache for a few days and a mild fever for a few days.”

Ending calls herself “strong and sporty”. She says she “has never been so sick”. Her breathing problems were so severe that she almost went to hospital. After about three weeks it went better.

“But after a walk of half an hour it went wrong again. A severe relapse, with fever and breathing problems. Now my heart is bothering me again. That makes me anxious. When I walk up the stairs my blood pressure shoots up, it takes an hour before it returns to normal. ”

Ending suffered such recoil four times. “I was away with my daughter on King’s Day. The oxygen levels in my blood plummeted, which in turn affected my heart rate. How much exercise is good for me? My GP says five minutes, nothing at all. But I fear that five minutes is too much already.”

Condition problems

Ingrid Elferink is Ending’s GP. “Some of the patients with covid-19 or a strong suspicion have such long-term complaints. One of our doctor’s assistants has been sick for a month, another has been at home for four weeks,” says Elferink.

“We regularly see people with fitness problems who are normally in good shape. I have a colleague who always used to cycle and has not touched her bicycle for more than a month.”

Elferink says that among patients who suffer from their (probable) infection at home, there are many who are still fully working. “The impact of their complaints is therefore great.”

NHG spokesperson Jako Burgers, himself a GP in Gorinchem, also knows patients from his practice who recover very slowly. “I know two or three. If you translate that nationwide, it will soon be at least 10,000 people. Maybe we only see the tip of the iceberg.”

White flowers, brown nightingale, green frogs, photos


Weathercock, 16 May 2020

Yesterday evening, this bird in Egmond Binnen village: a weathercock.

Blackbird, 16 May 2020

And another bird: this blackbird.

After yesterday, today again to the coastal sand dunes nature reserve.

A dunnock sings.

Two goldfinches on a bush.

Two barn swallows flying at the little lake. Also coots with youngsters.

A tree pipit in singing flight.

White water-crowfoot, 17 May 2020

We arrive at another lake, where flowers grow in the water: white water-crowfoot.

White water-crowfoot, on 17 May 2020

Some, not many, edible frogs there.

Water plants, 17 May 2020

Also, other water plants.

A cuckoo calls. A willow warbler sings.

At the next lakelet, the one closest to the North Sea, are more white water-crowfoot flowers.

Edible frog, 17 May 2020

And many more edible frogs.

Edible frogs, 17 May 2020

It is their mating season.

Edible frog, on 17 May 2020

Edible frogs like to deposit their eggs on white water-crowfoot plants.

Edible frogs are called ‘green frogs’ in Dutch. Another Dutch name for them is ‘boerennachtegaal’, farmers’ nightingale.

Nightingale, 17 May 2020

Then, suddenly, this singing nightingale became visible. Usually, nightingales hide behind leaves and branches.

Stay tuned, as there will be a sequel to this!

Coronavirus kills many nuns, monks


This 3 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Sixth nun dies from coronavirus complications at Our Lady of the Angels convent

Sister Josephine Seier, 94, died Friday. According to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner, a post-mortem test revealed she tested positive for COVID-19.

Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad reports today that COVID-19 is killing many people in monasteries.

In Bijdorp monastery in Voorschoten, four nuns and one friar have died this May.

In the Sisters of Charity nunnery in Tilburg, during two weeks in April, 13 out of 128 nuns died.

Also in Tilburg, four friars of the Brothers of Our Lady Mother of Mercy, including a former superior general, died.

In the Sisters of Charity nunnery in Schijndel, four nuns died.

In the monastery in Zenderen, COVID-19 killed two monks of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, including the prior, and infected three more.

Some good coronavirus news: the anti-coronavirus measures not only mean less coronavirus deaths, but also less patients infected with other contagious diseases. Among Dutch children, norovirus infections have become 70-80% less since the partial lockdown.

Grand Canyon, USA wildlife, and mercury pollution


This 2016 video from the USA is called Grand Canyon Wildlife.

From the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in the USA:

Food webs determine the fate of mercury pollution in the Colorado River, Grand Canyon

Floods can shift animal populations, altering mercury passed to fish and other wildlife

May 15, 2020

In the Grand Canyon reach of the Colorado River, two species play an outsized role in the fate of mercury in the aquatic ecosystem, and their numbers are altered by flood events. So reports new research, published in Science Advances, that is among the first to meld ecotoxicology and ecosystem ecology to trace how mercury flows through aquatic food webs and then spreads to land.

Mercury is an environmental contaminant that occurs in ecosystems globally. In its organic form, it is a potent neurotoxin that can harm people and wildlife. Mercury accumulation in animals and how it magnifies along food chains is well studied. Less well understood are the pathways mercury takes through food webs to reach top predators, such as fish and birds, and how those pathways might change after large ecosystem disturbances, such as floods.

Emma Rosi is an aquatic ecologist at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and co-lead author on the paper. She explains, “By combining data on mercury concentrations in aquatic life with well-studied food webs, we were able to reveal how mercury moves through an ecosystem. We found that flooding and an invasive species both influenced the flow of this contaminant of global concern.”

The traits of organisms living in an ecosystem — their physiology, what they eat, and what eats them — determine contaminant movement and exposure. These factors have rarely been included in models of contaminant flux and fate. “Pairing contaminant concentrations and highly detailed food webs has the potential to improve the management of contaminants in ecosystems,” Rosi notes.

To study these pathways, the research team developed mercury-based food webs for six sites spanning 225 miles of the Colorado River, extending downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam in Grand Canyon National Park. Food web sampling took place seasonally over two years. At each site, they measured algae, invertebrates, and fish to determine who was eating what — and what that meant for mercury exposure at each level of the food web.

Insects (blackflies and midges) and invasive New Zealand mudsnails were the dominant invertebrates in the river. These animals play a vital role in moving energy and contaminants from the bottom of the food web to fish predators at the top. Fish included native Bluehead Sucker, Flannelmouth Sucker, Speckled Dace, and Humpback Chub, as well as non-native species such as Common Carp, Fathead Minnow, and Rainbow Trout.

The stomach contents of invertebrates and fish were assessed to identify what they ate and in what amounts. Algae, detritus, and animals were analyzed for mercury concentrations and, combined with the diet data, the team estimated the amount of mercury that animals were consuming throughout the year.

Food web complexity varied across the study sites. Just below the Glen Canyon Dam, food webs were simple with few species and food web connections. Further downstream, food webs had higher species diversity and more connections. Across the study sites, regardless of food web complexity, relatively few species were key players in the movement of mercury.

Algae and tiny particles of detritus were the source of 80% of mercury flowing to invertebrates. In sites closest to the dam, invasive mudsnails dominated the food webs. Trout were the only fish in this part of the river, and they are unable to digest mudsnails. Mercury accumulated by the snails did not move up the food chain. Because the snails are fully aquatic, mercury cycled back into the river’s detrital food web when they died.

Blackfly larvae were the source of 56-80% of the mercury flowing to fish. Blackflies are preferred prey for fish, such as Rainbow Trout, and blackflies had higher mercury contaminations compared to other invertebrates. Blackflies that escape predation and emerge from the river as flying adults move mercury from the river to land. This can expose terrestrial predators, such as birds and bats, to mercury that started out in the river.

The amount of mercury that blackflies moved to land was dependent on the number of hungry fish in any part of the river. At some sites, fish ate nearly 100% of the blackfly larvae, leaving few left to emerge. At other sites, there were a lot more blackflies than the fish could eat. When these blackflies emerged as adults, the mercury inside them hitched a ride to terrestrial food webs along the river.

One year into sampling, the study sites were flooded as part of a planned dam release. The team was able to explore the effects of the flood on mercury movement in the food webs. At sites near the dam, the flood washed away large numbers of New Zealand mudsnails and led to a boom in blackfly populations. With the rise in blackflies, more mercury flowed to trout. Because trout gobbled up nearly all the blackflies in their larval form, very little of the mercury accumulated in these abundant insects was transported to land by the flying adults.

Rosi explains, “Changes to the animal populations in an ecosystem will impact how mercury moves through a food web. This was especially apparent at sites where flooding changed the proportion of blackflies relative to fish. Flooding dramatically altered mercury pathways in the simple tailwater food web near the dam, but not in the more complex food webs downstream.”

“Invasive species and dams are common in rivers globally, and both factors were at play in the Grand Canyon reach of the Colorado River,” Rosi says. “We found that flooding changed the species present at our study sites, and mercury flow changed with those shifts.”

“Understanding the factors that control the movement of mercury through food webs can help resource managers protect ecosystems that are susceptible to mercury pollution,” says David Walters, USGS scientist and co-lead author of the study.

Rosi concludes, “This study is exciting because it sheds light on the depth of understanding we can achieve when we merge ecological and ecotoxicological thinking. Species traits, animal populations, predator-prey interactions, and disturbance can all influence the movement of contaminants in the environment. Understanding the complex interplay of these factors can improve risk management of animal exposures in the environment.”

Jail killer Elon Musk, his workers say


This video from the USA says about itself:

Jail Tesla Billionaire Elon Musk & Defend Health & Safety: Workers Speak Out On 4/16/20 At Tesla

Workers and a Tesla worker spoke out about the illegal start-up of Elon Musk‘s Tesla plant in Fremont, California on 5/16/20. Owner Elon Musk illegally started mass production at the plant despite the Alameda county Shelter In Place law. Both the City of Fremont as well as Governor Gavin Newsom refuse to enforce the law and also have an inspection by Cal-OSHA to see what the conditions are in the plant. The Fremont police were supposedly checking on safety at the plant yet they have no health and safety training.

Tesla worker Gabriel Carlos spoke out about his concerns on the plant safety and also threats that he has received from the company if he did not return to work.

Speakers from UPWA also called for the hiring of 1,000 Cal-OSHA inspectors and the inspection of workplaces to protect the health and safety of workers, their families and the public. There are less than 200 OSHA inspectors in California and only 1 doctor and 1 nurse for California’s 18 million workers.

Speakers also called for the arrest of Elon Musk who has been backed up by President Trump who is greeting his defiance of the law.

Not just fellow billionaire Donald Trump backs Musk’s Russian roulette with his workers’ lives. So does the main neo-nazi internet site in the USA, the Daily Stormer.

Some Tesla factory employees say they’re being pressured to return to work: here.

Tesla reportedly failed to tell regulators about dozens of factory injuries, then claimed without evidence that regulators praised its record-keeping: here.

How Tesla and its doctor made sure injured employees didn’t get workers’ compensation: here.

Grimes’ mom blasts Elon Musk for “blaring” men’s rights “bulls**t on Twitter.”