Trump’s COVID-spreading rally, animated cartoon video


This 19 June 2020 animated cartoon video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:

MAGAmmunity

With Donald Trump’s Tulsa campaign rally right around the corner, MAGAmmunity is on the way. Even though Tulsa’s top health official warned that the Trump rally could become a “superspreader” event, MAGA rallies are in the works for Oklahoma and elsewhere.

The Trump administration and campaign seem to be doing everything they can to pretend all is back to normal and we have nothing to worry about. (Except for that inconvenient little liability waiver when you sign up to attend a rally.) The president keeps using his bully pulpit to tout miracle cures and downplay the risks of the coronavirus pandemic. And let’s not forget how Trump encouraged armed anti-social distancing rebellion in Michigan and other states.

Trump’s message keeps spreading like a deadly virus — from unfounded “antifa” rumors that lead to violent confrontations with peaceful protesters to death threats against local public health officials. The president has been playing with fire since he decided to run for office, he has now spread smoldering embers across the country.

Butterfly, hummingbirds at Texas, USA feeders


This video from the USA says about itself:

Butterfly Visits West Texas Feeders Alongside Hummingbirds – June 17, 2020

Enjoy watching a cloudless sulphur butterfly sip nectar from the West Texas hummingbird feeders as hummers hover from port to port.

Coronavirus disaster news update


This 18 June 2020 video says about itself:

General Motors workers in Mexico document lack of social distancing measures

In these videos, workers at GM’s Silao Complex in Mexico are seen at distances closer than the 1,5 meters supposedly enforced by the company, endangering workers to infections when entering, walking inside and leaving the plant.

Chile’s health minister resigns as disastrous policies lead to explosion in coronavirus infections and deaths. By Mauricio Saavedra, 19 June 2020. A media investigation revealed that the government was providing the World Health Organization a coronavirus body count that was almost double that given to the general public.

One month after the reopening: COVID-19 rips through US states and workplaces. 19 June 2020. US meatpacking plants, auto factories and other large workplaces have been a major vector for the spread of the deadly disease: here.

Anatomy of a Massachusetts nursing home catastrophe in the COVID-19 pandemic. By Julian James, 19 June 2020. The high-profile mass fatality events at nursing homes in Massachusetts have shown the state government’s unpreparedness to face the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 infections skyrocket in American prisons. By Sam Dalton, 19 June 2020. With coronavirus cases doubling in one month, US prisoners are at growing risk of infection and death.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Five top baseball players in the US infected

Five players from the American baseball club Philadelphia Phillies have tested positive for the coronavirus during a training camp. Three staff members were also found to be infected. After the positive cases, the club immediately closed the training facility in Florida.

In Florida, the number of corona infections continues to rise daily. Today, authorities reported a record 3822 new infections in one day. Dutch international player Didi Gregorius has been a player of the Phillies since this season. It is unclear whether he contracted the virus. The Phillies have not released the names of the infected players.

Currently, the Major League is negotiating with the players to resume the professional league, which should have started in April. There is no agreement yet on a new date. In the meantime, some clubs have already started preparing.

France mainly sees new infections around Paris

In Paris and the surrounding area, 88 new outbreaks have been discovered since the relaxation of quarantine measures in France a month ago. Half of them are still active, regional health authorities report, meaning new infections are still being added.

These are so-called clusters. In other words, groups of people who have contact with each other and in which at least three infections have been counted. Most of the new clusters appeared in apartment complexes where young people and especially migrants live close together. Relatively many new infections were also counted within religious communities. …

Nearly 30,000 French people have been confirmed to have died from the virus.

UK nurses from overseas demand permanent residence after battling COVID-19. By our reporter, 19 June 2020.

From the World Socialist Web Site, 19 June 2020:

Protest over deaths at UK hospital

A protest was held Monday outside the UK’s St Georges Hospital Tooting, London. The action, organised by GMB union members, took place on International Justice Day for Cleaners. It commemorated the death from COVID-19 of two cleaners at the hospital.

Risking COVID-19 spread, the state makes Turkish students take mass exams. By Çetin Akın, 19 June 2020. The Turkish government is risking millions of students’ health and life by forcing them to congregate for mass high school and university entrance exams.

Sharp spike of coronavirus deaths in India. By Saman Gunadasa, 19 June 2020. Right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi has categorically ruled out a second lockdown even after India registered more than 2,000 deaths on Tuesday and over 13,000 new infections on both Wednesday and Thursday.

How albatrosses fly, new research


This video says about itself:

David Attenborough, BBC Wildlife, on the Royal albatross: “Otago Peninsula and Taiaroa Head is a unique and very special place. It is a place every visitor to Dunedin should see.”

I spent a delightful day in mid-January of 2019 filming the Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi) in the Otago Peninsula, New Zealand. The best time to watch them in flight is after 3pm when the winds start to pick up. The Albatross needs the wind to take off and relies on the winds to glide effortlessly. It has a wingspan in excess of three metres ( 9 ft 8 ins) and weighs about 9-10kg.

Photographic notes: These footages were shot with a Sony a7iii+100-400GM lens.

Interesting facts:

“Albatrosses can live to 60 years and beyond. They mate for life and some do not find another if their partner dies. They have the longest wingspan of any bird, reaching up to 3.5m (11.5ft). In 2005, it was found that a grey-headed albatross had flown 13,670 miles around the world in the Southern Hemisphere in 46 days.”

According to reports, more than 100,000 albatrosses are killed annually by getting caught in bait lines of fishing vessels – about one every five minutes.

Conservation status (wiki)
The IUCN classifies this bird as vulnerable, with an occurrence range of 63,400,000 km2 (24,500,000 sq mi) and a breeding range of 750 km2 (290 sq mi), with a total estimated population of between 28,000 and 29,500 (1997).

As a top-tier organism in its natural habitat, it has very few predators but major fishing industries are a huge problem for all albatross species among other seabirds.

The population is recovering from its severe downward spiral in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By the 1880s, this albatross was extirpated from Auckland Island and Enderby Island. Pigs and cats are still a problem, as they take chicks and eggs, on Auckland Island. Longline fishing is a major problem and a possible emerging threat is Dracophyllum, a scrub that is taking away from their nesting range.

From the University of Liverpool in England:

The wind beneath their wings: Albatrosses fine-tuned to wind conditions

June 19, 2020

A new study of albatrosses has found that wind plays a bigger role in their decision to take flight than previously thought, and due to their differences in body size, males and females differ in their response to wind.

With a wingspan of over three meters — the largest of any bird alive today — the wandering albatross can fly thousands of miles, even around the world, gliding for long periods in search of fish or squid. Birds search for prey in flight and capture it after landing on the sea surface. Due to their long wings, taking off from the sea surface is by far their most energetically demanding activity, requiring four times more energy than gliding flight.

Now, research by University of Liverpool scientists published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, sheds new light on the previously neglected role of wind in the flight decisions of seabirds.

Using GPS loggers, researchers tracked the flight patterns of over 300 albatrosses from two major populations in the Southern Ocean, one of the windiest areas on the planet.

By combining tracking data with computer modelling, they found that the seabirds wait on the sea surface for winds to pick up before attempting to fly again. They also found that males, which are 20% bigger than females, wait for stronger winds to help them take off from the ocean surface and sustain their flight.

University of Liverpool seabird ecologist and lead author of the study, Dr Tommy Clay, said: “Albatrosses are the oceans’ great voyagers and are well-known for their ability to glide on winds with barely a flap of their wings.

“Our study reveals that albatross behaviour is fine-tuned to the winds they encounter. In order to save energy, birds rely on strong winds for take-off, males more so than females.

“Ongoing changes to wind patterns as a result of climate change may pose different risks to males and females. In recent years, increases in wind speeds have led to higher breeding success, but as winds become less predictable, birds may be unable to adapt.”

Changing wind patterns around Antarctica have seen reductions in wind speeds in more northerly areas, where females are more likely to feed, and increases in southerly areas, where males are more common, which could affect how far they can travel to find food and their body condition.

These changes are more likely to benefit males. However, more research is needed to determine the long-term effects on populations.

The fieldwork was conducted over a seven-year period in the remote sub-Antarctic islands of South Georgia in the south-west Atlantic Ocean and Crozet in the south-west Indian Ocean.

The analysis was led by researchers at the University of Liverpool in collaboration with an international and highly interdisciplinary team.

This involved researchers at the University of Florida (USA), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France), British Antarctic Survey (UK), Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), and Stellenbosch University (South Africa). The project was funded by the Human Frontiers Research Program.

21st century capitalism, still slave trade based


Demonstrators from the 'End Slavery In Athens' movement fill the steps of Athens-Clarke County City Hall during a County Commission meeting on the annual budget, and where commissioners Mariah Parker Tim Denson proposed their 50/10 plan in Athens, Georgia, USA

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Editorial: The global order built by the slave trade still endures

UN HUMAN rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s call for capitalist powers to pay reparations for slavery combines questions of symbolic and practical change.

The protests that have erupted across the world since the US police killing of George Floyd on May 25 have won victories on both fronts.

The toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, like that of Confederate monuments in the United States, marked a symbolic victory over racism, but one which forced the role of the slave trade in creating modern capitalism into the spotlight, preparing the way for further-reaching changes in the way the British empire is presented in schools and media.

Murder charges for Floyd’s killer, Derek Chauvin, and for Garrett Rolfe, who killed black man Rayshard Brooks last Friday, as well as bans on chokeholds and legal changes to make it easier for citizens to hold police to account, represent direct practical advances that should save lives.

Judicial wins like today’s US Supreme Court ruling that Donald Trump cannot abolish the so-called “Dreamer” programme allowing people who were brought to the US as children to gain citizenship are likewise victories for the anti-racist struggle – for all the supposed independence of the judiciary in Western countries, courts are as political as parliaments.

The Dreamer ruling is superficially about migration rather than racism, but the relationship between the two is deep and intricate and opens up questions about global disparities in power and wealth – many of the same ones raised by Bachelet’s proposal regarding slavery reparations.

Slavery is usually depicted as a historical phenomenon, an admitted injustice but one vanquished long ago.

Modern slavery is of course real and widespread, and directly linked to war and the refugee crisis. The slave-markets for black Africans established in civil-war-torn Libya after Nato overthrew the Gadaffi regime hit Western headlines, though briefly. The refusal of governments including Britain’s to offer a safe haven to unaccompanied child refugees condemned countless children to a similarly awful fate: Europol reported as long ago as 2016 that 10,000 such children had disappeared and that it suspected many had been targeted by trafficking gangs for sale into the sex trade.

But the economic relationships established by historic slavery endure too. Though most formal colonial empires are gone – not because magnanimous Western governments “granted independence” but because of long and bitter struggles to throw them off – the global economy policed by the IMF, World Bank and numerous international treaties that establish corporate rights to enter and exploit markets, maintains the economic subjugation of the third world.

Much Western “aid” to poorer countries actually entrenches these relationships: Global Justice Now has documented the role that British aid money has played in promoting the privatisation of everything from electricity to schools in many African countries, with lucrative “aid” contracts being snapped up by for-profit operators like Adam Smith International.

Changes to the definition of aid accompanying the current government’s dissolving of the Department for Internatonal Development into the Foreign Office intensify the trend, promoting a model in which “targeted aid boosts British trade.”

The struggle against the legacy of slavery must take the practical form of a struggle against the modern-day structures of “globalisation” that subordinate democratic rights to transnational corporate ones. And that struggle is also a fight for social justice here.

The loyalist thugs who threatened an asylum-seekers’ demo over poor housing conditions in Glasgow on Wednesday claimed to be rallying in defence of British monuments – demonstrating that those most hostile to refugees are often the most supportive of the imperialist world order that creates them.

And the fact that immigrant-bashing Twitter loudmouth Katie Hopkins led attacks on Marcus Rashford for winning an extension to the free-school-meals progamme over the summer underlines the reality that indifference to foreign kids drowning in the Mediterranean dovetails neatly with indifference to British kids starving at home.

Karl Marx on slavery and capitalism: here.

Swiss Alps wildlife, documentary film


This 19 June 2020 video says about itself:

The Swiss Alps: Wild Animal Paradise | Free Documentary Nature

Gentle, green meadows, rugged rock faces, mysterious lakes, dense forests, tall mountains, low-lying river deltas, quietly meandering mountain streams and smack dab in the middle, a unique fauna – THIS is Switzerland! We trace the elementary power of nature and present animals and plants in landscapes that have hardly ever been touched by mankind.

Switzerland is an alpine country, but it is also Europe’s surge tank. Rivers such as the Rhine and the Rhone have their sources here. Glaciers, crevasses, icy cold caves and the underwater dome of the Verzasca are the unusual settings we chose for this film. We meet with rare, selected animal species and present their behavioural patterns, such as the Swiss or Arven jay [meaning the spotted nutcracker], the lynx and albino catfish. Cold, wind, snow and extreme locations demand adaptation that make us marvel.

Donald Trump, COVID-19 spreading, neonazi dog whistling


This 18 June 2020 satiric music video from Britain says about itself:

The Von Crapps – Covid Superspreadin‘ (Trump Tulsa rally song)

A song for the Trump rally in Tulsa by The Von Crapp family.

Trump’s Nazi triangle post the latest in a series of seeming dog whistles.

Donald Trump has repeatedly whitewashed violent neo-nazis; while smearing anti-fascists as supposedly being ‘terrorists’.

These Trump election campaign red triangle ads basically threaten anti-fascists with being locked up in concentration camps with red triangles on their clothes, like happened in Adolf Hitler’s days.

From USA Today, 19 June 2020:

Political prisoners were forced to wear red triangles.

And those red triangles were common in the camps. The Auschwitz Memorial tweeted Thursday that 95% of prisoners at Auschwitz were accused of political crimes in August 1944. A letter could also be included inside the triangle to mark a person’s nationality, the museum said.

“Social Democrats, Communists, trade unionists and other persons regarded as political opponents by the Nazis wore red triangles. Often a joke about Hitler or a denunciation could suffice for someone to be arrested as a ‘political,'” according to an article published by the International Center on Nazi Persecution.

Political opponents were among some of the first victims of Nazi concentration camps, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reports.

Juneteenth Shabbat: Liberation, legacy, and reckoning with America’s history of slavery | #TweetYourShabbat.

Mass protests against police violence expand in advance of Juneteenth rallies across the US. By Kevin Reed, 19 June 2020. Demonstrations have taken place in 1,670 US towns and cities in response to the killing of George Floyd, other murderous acts of violence by police and the repression of protesters.

Anti-racist anti-colonialist Dutch demonstrations today


This 15 June 2020 video is about an anti-racist demonstration in Apeldoorn in Gelderland province in the Netherlands.

Today, there will be another anti-racist demonstration in Gelderland, in Zutphen town, at 5 pm. Report of the demonstration: here.

Today, there will also be an anti-racist demonstration in Hoorn in Noord-Holland province. 19.00-21.00, Pelmolenpad. It is against honouring 17th century Dutch East India Company Gornernor General Jan Pietersz. Coen.

This video says about itself:

On 11-01-2013 activists created a Monument of Lights around the statue of Jan Pieterszoon Coen in the city of Hoorn to commemorate the victims of four centuries of Dutch colonialism.

J.P. Coen founded Dutch colonialism in Indonesia. In 1619 he burnt down the city of Jakarta. In 1621 he depopulated the Indonesian islands of Banda and put robbed slaves to work at the nutmeg plantations.

The activists think it’s a bloody shame the city of Hoorn re-erected the fallen statue of Coen in 2011. The statue should have been permanently removed to a museum. In Holland perpetrator of genocide Jan Pieterszoon Coen is still being honoured as the founder of Batavia (Jakarta) and the Dutch rule in the East-Indies.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

In Hoorn tonight a protest will be held at the statue Jan Pieterszoon Coen. According to the protest organizers, “the Banda butcher” is wrongly worshipped as a hero. …

The statue of Jan Pieterszoon Coen was unveiled in May 1893. According to NH Nieuws, it was an idea of the then-mayor of Hoorn, who raised the money for the statue. …

But not all newspapers were positive. Two days before the statue was placed, the [socialist] newspaper Recht voor Allen drew attention to the ‘atrocities’ that Coen committed in the Dutch East Indies.

That Recht voor Allen article, by Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, is here.

Coen had at least 15,000 inhabitants of the Banda islands massacred. Because they had sold spice to English traders. And Coen wanted a trade monopoly for the Dutch East India Company.

Oldest dinosaur eggs were like turtle eggs


This 2009 video says about itself:

Dinosaur Eggs & Babies

Recent discoveries of dinosaur eggs, nests, and even embryos, are providing new evidence to unlock the mysteries of dinosaur reproductive behavior.

This educational program explores the mysteries of dinosaur reproduction with animation and interviews with renowned dinosaur experts including Robert Bakker, Philip Currie, Mark Norell, and others.

Were dinosaurs social animals? Did they care for their young? What was life like for baby dinosaurs? These are some of the intriguing questions addressed in this informative program.

From the American Museum of Natural History in the USA:

First dinosaur eggs were soft like a turtle’s

New study suggests that hard eggshells evolved at least three times in dinosaur family tree

June 17, 2020

New research suggests that the first dinosaurs laid soft-shelled eggs — a finding that contradicts established thought. The study, led by the American Museum of Natural History and Yale University and published today in the journal Nature, applied a suite of sophisticated geochemical methods to analyze the eggs of two vastly different non-avian dinosaurs and found that they resembled those of turtles in their microstructure, composition, and mechanical properties. The research also suggests that hard-shelled eggs evolved at least three times independently in the dinosaur family tree.

“The assumption has always been that the ancestral dinosaur egg was hard-shelled,” said lead author Mark Norell, chair and Macaulay Curator in the Museum’s Division of Paleontology. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve found dinosaur eggs around the world. But for the most part, they only represent three groups — theropod dinosaurs, which includes modern birds, advanced hadrosaurs like the duck-bill dinosaurs, and advanced sauropods, the long-necked dinosaurs. At the same time, we’ve found thousands of skeletal remains of ceratopsian dinosaurs, but almost none of their eggs. So why weren’t their eggs preserved? My guess — and what we ended up proving through this study — is that they were soft-shelled.”

Amniotes — the group that includes birds, mammals, and reptiles — produce eggs with an inner membrane or “amnion” that helps to prevent the embryo from drying out. Some amniotes, such as many turtles, lizards, and snakes, lay soft-shelled eggs, whereas others, such as birds, lay eggs with hard, heavily calcified shells. The evolution of these calcified eggs, which offer increased protection against environmental stress, represents a milestone in the history of the amniotes, as it likely contributed to reproductive success and so the spread and diversification of this group. Soft-shelled eggs rarely preserve in the fossil record, which makes it difficult to study the transition from soft to hard shells. Because modern crocodilians and birds, which are living dinosaurs, lay hard-shelled eggs, this eggshell type has been inferred for all non-avian dinosaurs.

The researchers studied embryo-containing fossil eggs belonging to two species of dinosaur: Protoceratops, a sheep-sized plant-eating dinosaur that lived in what is now Mongolia between about 75 and 71 million years ago, and Mussaurus, a long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur that grew to 20 feet in length and lived between 227 and 208.5 million years ago in what is now Argentina.

The exceptionally preserved Protoceratops specimen includes a clutch of at least 12 eggs and embryos, six of which preserve nearly complete skeletons. Associated with most of these embryos — which have their backbones and limbs flexed — consistent with the position the animals would assume while growing inside of the egg — is a diffuse black-and-white egg-shaped halo that obscures some of the skeleton. In contrast, two potentially hatched Protoceratops newborns in the specimen are largely free of the mineral halos. When they took a closer look at these halos with a petrographic microscope and chemically characterized the egg samples with high-resolution in situ Raman microspectroscopy, the researchers found chemically altered residues of the proteinaceous eggshell membrane that makes up the innermost eggshell layer of all modern archosaur eggshells. The same was true for the Mussaurus specimen. And when they compared the molecular biomineralization signature of the dinosaur eggs with eggshell data from other animals, including lizards, crocodiles, birds, and turtles, they determined that the Protoceratops and Mussaurus eggs were indeed non-biomineralized — and, therefore, leathery and soft.

“It’s an exceptional claim, so we need exceptional data,” said study author and Yale graduate student Jasmina Wiemann. “We had to come up with a brand-new proxy to be sure that what we were seeing was how the eggs were in life, and not just a result of some strange fossilization effect. We now have a new method that can be applied to all other sorts of questions, as well as unambiguous evidence that complements the morphological and histological case for soft-shelled eggs in these animals.”

With data on the chemical composition and mechanical properties of eggshells from 112 other extinct and living relatives, the researchers then constructed a “supertree” to track the evolution of the eggshell structure and properties through time, finding that hard-shelled, calcified eggs evolved independently at least three times in dinosaurs, and probably developed from an ancestrally soft-shelled type.

“From an evolutionary perspective, this makes much more sense than previous hypotheses, since we’ve known for a while that the ancestral egg of all amniotes was soft,” said study author and Yale graduate student Matteo Fabbri. “From our study, we can also now say that the earliest archosaurs — the group that includes dinosaurs, crocodiles, and pterosaurs — had soft eggs. Up to this point, people just got stuck using the extant archosaurs — crocodiles and birds — to understand dinosaurs.”

Because soft eggshells are more sensitive to water loss and offer little protection against mechanical stressors, such as a brooding parent, the researchers propose that they were probably buried in moist soil or sand and then incubated with heat from decomposing plant matter, similar to some reptile eggs today.

Other authors on this paper include Congyu Yu from the American Museum of Natural History; Claudia Marsicano from the University of Buenos Aires; Anita Moore-Nall and David Varricchio from Montana State University; Diego Pol from the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio, Argentina; and Darla K. Zelenitsky from the University of Calgary.