Coronavirus pandemic disaster, worldwide


This 21 June 2020 video says about itself:

Brazil coronavirus death toll nears 50,000

COVID-19 related death tolls are rising across Latin America.

Brazil is about to reach the 50,000 mark, while Mexico passed 20,000 deaths on Friday.

Despite those grim statistics and an equally alarming outlook for the economy, countries in the region are pushing ahead with reopening.

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti has more from the Colombian capital, Bogota.

WHO warns coronavirus pandemic entering a “dangerous phase”. By Benjamin Mateus, 20 June 2020. As nations open their economies, new cases of COVID-19 are on the rise, and the death toll has begun to climb again.

Companies vow no more shutdowns for COVID-19 as US auto plants resume full production. By Shannon Jones, 20 June 2020. All the major carmakers have expressed their determination to continue production without interruption even as COVID-19 cases surge in many areas of the US.

Death of two workers sparks wildcat strike by 3,200 workers at auto parts plant in Matamoros, Mexico. By Andrea Lobo, 20 June 2020. Thirty-two hundred auto parts workers in Matamoros, Mexico, employed by Tridonex Cardone, carried out a wildcat strike on Friday morning in response to the deaths of two co-workers, suspected of being caused by COVID-19. The strikers demanded more information and the closing of the facilities until conditions are safe.

Doctors head legal challenge to UK government on health care deaths and PPE. By Rory Woods, 20 June 2020. At least 181 health workers and 131 social care workers have died while working on the frontline.

Around 250 workers infected with COVID-19 in three UK food processing plants. By Robert Stevens, 20 June 2020. The outbreaks underscore the criminality of the government’s decision to enforce a mass return to work and the lack of basic work safety in plants that have been operating during the pandemic.

Hundreds of new COVID-19 infections in German meat industry. By Marianne Arens, 20 June 2020. More than two-thirds of the meatpackers at the Tönnies abattoir in Rheda-Wiedenbrück have been infected with COVID-19, with 730 positive initial test results out of 1,050 tested.

Australian COVID-19 cases increase as governments ease restrictions. By Martin Scott, 20 June 2020. For the first time since May 20, more than 100 positive tests were recorded in a seven-day period.

Sivatherium, big prehistoric mammal


This 21 June 2020 video says about itself:

Sivatherium – Shiva‘s Beast

With their large antler-like ossicones and bulky bodies, Sivatherium were some of the most bizarre and fascinating of Pleistocene megafauna and may have even been depicted in rock art, indicating that some managed to cling on for some time after their supposed disappearance from the fossil record. I hope you enjoy.

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Dutch Emmen


This 21 June 2020 Dutch video shows how hundreds of people participated today in a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Emmen town in Drenthe province; in solidarity against racist police violence in the USA and elsewhere.

‘Tipping point’: Greta Thunberg hails Black Lives Matter protests. People are realising ‘we cannot keep looking away from these things’, says climate activist: here.

Bats hunting together, helped by echolocation


This 2013 video is about a velvety free-tailed bat, Molossus molossus.

From the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama:

A new social role for echolocation in bats that hunt together

June 19, 2020

Searching for food at night can be tricky. To find prey in the dark, bats use echolocation, their “sixth sense.” But to find food faster, some species, like Molossus molossus, may search within hearing distance of their echolocating group members, sharing information about where food patches are located. Social information encoded in their echolocation calls may facilitate this foraging strategy, according to a recent study by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists and collaborating institutions published online in Behavioral Ecology.

Previous research has identified several ways in which echolocation can transfer social information in bats. For example, “feeding buzzes,” the echolocation calls bats produce to home in on prey they’ve spotted, can serve as cues of prey presence to nearby eavesdropping bats. On the other hand, echolocation calls that bats produce while looking for food, called “search-phase” calls, were not known to transfer social information.

However, for group-foraging bats, coordinating flight in the dark with several other fast-flying individuals may require an ability to identify group members on the wing. If search-phase calls contain individual signatures the bats can perceive, it could allow them to know which individuals are flying near them without requiring specialized signals for communication.

Led by Jenna Kohles, STRI fellow and doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany, the research team tested whether search-phase echolocation calls contain information about a bat’s identity, and whether M. molossus can use this information to discriminate among different group members. The team exposed bats to search-phase echolocation calls in a habituation-dishabituation paradigm, a method where an animal is exposed to a repeating stimulus until it no longer reacts to it. Then, it is exposed to a new but similar stimulus to see if it reacts, which would indicate that it perceives a difference between the two stimuli.

“We played echolocation calls from two different bats that were both group members of the subject bat,” Kohles said. “By measuring the responses of the subject bats as we switched between calls from different individuals, we could learn about whether the bats perceived differences and similarities between the calls.”

They found that the bats indeed distinguish between different group members, likely by using individual signatures encoded in the calls. Their results could mean that search-phase calls serve a double function. They not only help bats detect prey, but also convey individual identities to nearby foraging group members. This coincides with the fact that the majority of M. molossus’ auditory cortex is tuned in to these search-phase calls, indicating the importance of processing them.

This finding offers insight into not only the social strategies these bats may use to meet their energetic needs, but also into the evolution of echolocation signals and social communication in bats.

“This study suggests that we may be underestimating the crucial ways social information influences bat foraging success and ultimately survival,” Kohles said.

Coronavirus second wave in Israel


This 14 June 2020 South Korean TV video says about itself:

In the Middle East, neighbors Egypt and Israel are both seeing a spike in coronavirus cases.

In Egypt, the number of new cases reported Saturday rose to 1-thousand-6-hundred-77, its highest daily total so far.

That puts the total number of cases there at just under 43-thousand… with almost 15-hundred deaths.

In Israel, there were 177 new cases.

One of them is an employee at the residence of President Reuven Rivlin.

For now, officials say, President Rivlin won’t be required to enter quarantine, but they are tracing people who were in contact with the employee.

Meanwhile, the country with the second-highest number of infections is Brazil.

It’s overtaken the U.K., with more than 850-thousand cases.

On Saturday, it reported almost 22-thousand new cases… and almost 900 more deaths, putting the death toll at 42-thousand-720.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Israel reopens coronavirus wards

Due to the significant increase in the number of coronavirus patients, the Israeli Ministry of Health has called on hospitals in the country to reopen coronavirus wards. In the past 24 hours, 53 infections were added.

A report by the Israeli intelligence agency that came out yesterday warned of a second wave of infections. Without prompt action, the country would be affected by 1,000 infections a day within a month.

Israel reacted quickly with rigorous measures at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. As a result, the pandemic initially went relatively smoothly. Measures were gradually relaxed in May.

In Israel, 20,686 people have been infected with the virus so far, 205 people have died.

How birds’ beaks evolved


This 18 June 2020 video says about itself:

How Birds Got (And Kept) Their Beaks

Birds are known for having beaks, however at what point between being a humongous therapod and tiny sparrow did they get them, and why?

Hosted by: Hank Green

Refugees in Yemen, coronavirus and war


This 20 June 2020 video says about itself:

Coronavirus: Yemen refugees face terrible conditions

Many Africans say they cannot find work and want to return home.

Al Jazeera’s Victoria Gatenby reports.

UNICEF WARNS MILLIONS OF CHILDREN COULD STARVE AS COVID-19 SWEEPS YEMEN Millions of children could be pushed to the brink of starvation as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across war-torn Yemen amid a “huge” drop in humanitarian aid funding, the U.N. children’s agency warned.  The stark prediction comes in a new UNICEF report, “Yemen five years on: Children, conflict and COVID-19.” It said the number of malnourished Yemeni children could reach 2.4 million by the end of the year, a 20% increase in the current figure. [AP]

Nine walking shark species discovered


This 20 June 2020 video says about itself:

Scientists have discovered 9 species of ‘walking’ sharks.

In US news and current events today, researchers have confirmed that walking sharks branched from their nearest ancestor 9 million years ago, making them the most recently evolved type of shark. These sharks, who use their fins to ‘walk’ on the ocean floor, have been found off the coasts of Australia, Indonesia & New Guinea. Scientists have discovered a total of 9 species of walking sharks over the past 2 decades.

Read more here.

United States young people second COVID-19 wave


This 20 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

A 70-Year-Old has been charged $1.1 million for life-sustaining coronavirus care. More COVID bills amplify a crisis in US healthcare. John Iadarola and Francesca Fiorentini break it down on The Damage Report.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Authorities in the southern states of the United States warn that more and more young people are becoming infected with the coronavirus. That writes CNN. The shift can be seen mainly in parts of Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Texas, states where the coronavirus measures were eased first.

Some experts think the increase is due to more testing

In the state of Mississippi, health officials are witnessing an increase due to the hazing parties of student fraternities. … In Florida, authorities believe the increase is due to more people returning to work.

In 23 other states, the number of infections has risen again compared to last week.