Black Lives Matter rallies, Berlin and Heerlen


This video from Germany says about itself:

Ruptly is live from a Black Lives Matter protest in Berlin on Saturday, June 27, following weeks of demonstrations around the world against police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd’s death sparked a wave of worldwide protests. On Saturday, June 6, an estimated 15,000 protesters attended an anti-racism demonstration in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz.

There was a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Heerlen, Limburg province, the Netherlands, 27 June 2020. A report says many people came, spatially distanced as a COVID-19 precaution.

On 20 June 2020, there had been a smaller Black Lives Matter rally in Heerlen. These two videos show it.

Flying ants in summer


This 22 June 2020 video from the Natural History Museum in London, England says about itself:

What is flying ant day? | Natural History Museum

This annual swarming event usually occurs in July or August and coincides with a period of hot and humid weather. Museum scientist Suzanne Ryder explains more about this phenomenon. Get more details here.

COVID-19 infects United States Donald Trump supporters


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

Pastor Holds Services Despite Coronavirus Outbreak

A pastor is receiving criticism for hold services despite the coronavirus outbreak, KDKA’s Ross Guidotti reports.

Translated from daily De Limburger in the Netherlands today, about that preacher:

Republican Tim Walters, co-founder of the ReOpen Maryland movement, now is infected by the coronavirus. Walters, who opposes corona measures in the US state, went to meetings and church services without facemasks in recent months.

In March, the Reverend Walters – who quotes Bible verses – suffered from a “dry cough.” On Thursday, he was found to be infected with the virus. …

The 53-year-old conservative says he has diabetes and his health is not too good. Despite his infection, Walters refuses to cooperate in a contact investigation or share personal information with government agencies.

At least one other Donald Trump-supporting and COVID-19 medical science denialist preacher has already died from the virus

Hummingbirds, praying mantis, bees at Texas feeder


This video from the USA says about itself:

Praying Mantis Visits Hummingbird Feeder In West Texas – June 25, 2020

A praying mantis drops down to the hummingbird feeders and scuttles from port to port, likely in search of an insect [bee] meal. In rare cases, larger mantids have been documented staking out hummingbird feeders and preying on the birds that visit, but this individual is too small to be a risk to the birds.

COVID-19 disaster in Donald Trump’s USA worsening


This 27 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

The number of new COVID-19 infections in the US has surged to another high, for the third day running, driven by surging cases in 16 states.

Sensing a worsening situation, the government held its first coronavirus taskforce briefing in two months.

And although Vice President Mike Pence remained upbeat, the top infectious diseases expert warned there is a serious problem.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher reports from Washington, DC.

“Back to work” campaign in the US has led to a surge in COVID-19. 27 June 2020. The resurgence of the pandemic was the entirely foreseeable outcome of the homicidal campaign by the Trump administration, with the support of the Democrats and the media, to force workers back into factories and workplaces: here.

Contact tracing and capitalism’s response to the pandemic. By Benjamin Mateus, 27 June 2020. As the globe rapidly approaches ten million cases of COVID-19, the United States continues to ignore any public health measures to contain the pandemic.

Nurses, farmworkers, autoworkers strike for safe working conditions. Detroit Fiat Chrysler workers halt production for second day to demand COVID-19 protection. By Jessica Goldstein, 27 June 2020. The mounting struggles by workers against the back-to-work drive highlight the immense power of the working class in the fight to halt the deadly pandemic and the corporate-government attack on jobs and living standards.

This is a video of striking Detroit Fiat Chrysler workers.

Expand autoworkers’ struggle to stop the coronavirus and save lives! Form rank-and-file safety committees! By the Jefferson North Rank-and-File Safety Committee, 27 June 2020. Autoworkers at Fiat Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit are taking a stand to defend our lives and the lives of our families.

Dole Foods in Ohio hit by 230 COVID-19 cases as food processing plants globally are ravaged by infections. By Alex Findijs, 27 June 2020. Food processing plants around the world continue to be hit by mass infections, even in countries that had largely stopped the spread of the disease.

Riverside Community Hospital nurses strike in California. By Kevin Martinez, 6 March 2022. Nurses in the SEIU have launched a 10-day strike to protest staffing cuts while their for-profit hospital chain received government bailouts.

New York City officials accused of undercounting and mismanagement after dozens of homeless COVID-19 deaths reported. By Sam Dalton, 27 June 2020. A new report gives an insight into the consequences of the city authorities’ malign neglect as the virus spread amongst the homeless in the center of global finance.

COVID-19 cases rise in Louisiana but governor refuses to reverse economic reopening. By Emma Arceneaux, 27 June 2020. The state’s Democratic governor says restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping malls, gyms and many other businesses can operate at 50 percent occupancy.

Against public opposition, Michigan Democrats and Republicans push for unsafe reopening of schools. By Mitch Marcus, 27 June 2020. Both Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican-controlled legislature have fully committed to the reopening of in-person schooling, in line with the demands of automakers and other big businesses.

Dolphins learning from other dolphins


This 2019 video says about itself:

Learn more about the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) that inhabit the Swan Canning Riverpark in Perth, Western Australia.

From ScienceDaily:

Dolphins learn foraging skills from peers

June 25, 2020

Dolphins can learn new skills from their fellow dolphins. That’s the conclusion of a new study reported in the journal Current Biology on June 25. The findings are the first to show that dolphins are not only capable of learning new ways to catch prey, but they are also motivated to learn from peers, not just from their mothers, the researchers say.

“Our study shows that the foraging behavior ‘shelling’ — where dolphins trap fish inside empty seashells — spreads through social learning among close associates,” says Sonja Wild, who conducted this research for her doctorate at the University of Leeds. “This is surprising, as dolphins and other toothed whales tend to follow a ‘do-as-mother-does’ strategy for learning foraging behavior.”

Another aspect that makes the findings especially intriguing is that shelling represents only the second reported case of tool use in dolphins. The dolphins of Shark Bay, Western Australia, are also known to use marine sponges as foraging tools to help them catch prey, according to the researchers.

Wild and her colleagues made the discovery during boat-based surveys in Shark Bay between 2007 and 2018. In almost 5,300 encounters with dolphin groups over that time, they identified more than 1,000 different Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus). They also caught a select few in the act of shelling 42 times.

“During shelling, dolphins chase their prey — usually a fish — into empty shells of giant gastropods, insert their beak into the shell, bring it to the water surface and then shake it about to drain the water out of the shell, so that the fish falls into their open mouth,” Wild explains.

The researchers saw 19 different individual dolphins perform this shelling behavior. They note that there are surely more ‘shellers’ in the population than they saw, since the whole event may only take a few seconds and could easily be missed. The question then was: how had this new way of foraging spread from one dolphin to the next?

To find out, the researchers used social network analysis, taking into account the social network, genetic relationships, and environmental factors. Their analysis concluded that the shelling behavior spreads socially primarily within — rather than between — generations, providing the first evidence that dolphins are also capable of learning from their peers, not just their mothers.

“The fact that shelling is socially transmitted among associates, rather than between mother and offspring, highlights the similarities between cetaceans [the group including dolphins, whales, and porpoises] and great apes in the way cultural behaviors are passed on,” says Michael Krützen, University of Zurich, who initiated the study.

“Indeed, despite having divergent evolutionary histories and occupying different environments, there are striking similarities between cetaceans and great apes: both are long-lived, large-brained mammals with high capacities for innovation and cultural transmission of behaviors,” he adds.

Wild noted that not all shelling dolphins seem to engage in the behavior at the same frequency. “Some dolphins use shells quite regularly during foraging, while others have only ever been seen with a shell once,” she says. “So, while there may be other explanations, it’s possible that some dolphins have mastered the skill more than others.”

Wild says that the findings have important implications for understanding how dolphins may be able to adapt behaviorally to changing environments. “Learning from others allows for a rapid spread of novel behaviors across populations, and it has been suggested that species with the capacity for learning from others in this way may be better able to survive,” she says.

United States workers support Black Lives Matter


Members of American Postal Workers Local 125, American Postal Workers St. Paul Local, and National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 9 (Minneapolis local) held a rally in support of Black Lives Matter

This photo from the USA shows members of American Postal Workers Local 125, American Postal Workers St. Paul Local, and National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 9 (Minneapolis local) holding a rally in support of Black Lives Matter.

From daily News Line in Britain today:

Postal workers, bus drivers and students in US support ‘Black Lives Matter

AMERICAN postal workers in Minneapolis are saying Black Lives Matter as over 400 local trade unionists signed a petition calling on workers to resist helping the police suppress the protests.

In the past month, the brutal police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has led to mass protests across the planet, with millions of people across the world standing in solidarity with African Americans.

While the protests have galvanised and inspired millions, the actions of Minneapolis workers in making sure that the protests were effective were no less important.

Local bus drivers refused to drive police officers to the protests, and all light rail services were temporarily shut down.

Alongside transport workers, nurses, social workers and teachers, postal workers were also central to organising solidarity.

[British trade umion] CWU News talked to Tyler Vasseur, an United States Postal Service postal worker and active member of the Minneapolis branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers, about the ongoing events, how his fellow workers responded, and why ‘Black Lives Matter’ is important to the trade union movement.

CWU News: Were you on the ground during the initial George Floyd protests? What were the protests like?

Tyler Vasseur: Yes, I was. On 26th May, tens of thousands of people gathered at the intersection where George Floyd was murdered the previous evening, followed by a march to the 3rd Police Precinct, that covers that part of South Minneapolis (and which became famous two days later, as protesters overran the precinct and burned it to the ground).

This was the biggest protest march I had ever seen in Minneapolis – even bigger than the anti-Trump marches post-2016 election which were huge.

In many ways, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I could tell that first night that this was going to be a lot bigger than just a one-off protest rally. There was this raw energy and rage in the crowd at the violence that the police and political system has inflicted on working-class people, especially people of colour, for hundreds of years.

We’ve seen this to be true with how the movement has spread nationally and internationally, raising the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter’ across the globe.

What was the response to the movement like in your workplace?

Given the massive size of the protests, and that my station services neighbourhoods in South Minneapolis, just a few miles north of the George Floyd memorial site and location of many of the major protests, everyone was talking about the protests.

Some people were scared because of the way the media had portrayed all protests as violent and dangerous. But a majority were in support of the protests and for fighting to stop racist police violence.

CWU News: How did your union respond to the events?

After having conversations with co-workers, I realised many of us were going to the protests as individuals, so I floated the idea to some that we should organise a union member contingent for an upcoming march.

Minneapolis workers demonstrate against police brutality

The first two weeks, there were massive spontaneous protests and marches happening all across Minneapolis, and I figured we could just plug into one of those representing our union, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC).

But at the end of the first week of protests, two separate post offices were burned to the ground overnight (they had the unfortunate situation of being located directly next to police stations).

In many ways, this represented the perfect way for our union to get involved in the movement. Because of the explosive nature of the protest and how fast things were moving, rank and file members decided we need to organise something now and get local union leadership to support it later.

We got the time, date, and location set. We got confirmations from over a dozen postal workers that they could attend. Then we brought it to my union’s executive board, won them over and secured their endorsement of the action.

We decided to hold a press conference and rally in front of one of the burned down stations behind the banner ‘Postal Workers Demand Justice for George Floyd’, where we made clear that we stand with the movement. The main message being ‘you can rebuild a post office, but you can’t rebuild the life of a man murdered by the police’.

CWU News: At the moment, many members of our union here in Britain have differing opinions on the protests, and are debating things like whether ‘Black Lives Matter’ is the right thing to be saying or whether their union should be involving itself in this movement. What would your message be to CWU members who are wondering about why the Black Lives Matter movement should be of any concern to their union?

Like I mentioned before, this movement has not only spread across the entire US but internationally as well with huge protest rallies and marches across the UK and Europe. Black Lives Matter is a rallying cry that has been taken up around the world because racism exists everywhere, and it is our duty as the organised working class to fight for our entire class.

For over 40 years the labour movement has been on the defensive, starting with Reagan in the US and Thatcher in the UK attacking unions and workers rights. This process was even more destructive in the US, where union rates have dropped dramatically.

We are now starting to see the revitalisation of the labour movement in the US, beginning with the West Virginia teachers strike in 2018 which spread across the country.

I believe that if we are to rebuild a fighting labour movement in the US, then our unions need to fight for the entire working class, and that means fighting racist police violence and terror against people of colour.

There is an entire generation of young people moving into struggle, and we have an opportunity in our unions to be a part of this movement against racism and police violence, and to show this new generation that unions are organisations that can be used to fight for progressive change. I think this applies to workers and unions in the UK as well.

Meanwhile, teenagers from Berkeley High in California’s Berkeley brought the Black Lives Matter movement to the Berkeley Hills last Tuesday, speaking out against the city’s history of redlining and segregation and demanding that wealthy, white communities take on challenging conversations and actions to address systemic racism.

The three-hour march began at Ashby BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit station) and ended at Codornices Park, two distinct symbols of the formerly majority-Black, now gentrified Lorin District, and the predominantly white, wealthy North Berkeley.

Shayla Avery, 16, and Ultraviolet Schneider-Dwyer, 17, who organised the march, were clear about their intention from the beginning, and spoke about it during the protest.

‘We’re here to wake the Berkeley Hills the fuck up! Because they think it’s okay to put up a sign, and then call it a day,’ Avery said, addressing the crowd of about 250 young protesters who showed up on a cool, overcast afternoon.

‘There are people up there that do not fuck with Black people, and will not do that ever. There’s a reason why I don’t feel comfortable going up there. There’s a reason I don’t know the names of those streets.’

Avery, who told Berkeleyside recently how redlining and its local impact is not addressed properly in the BHS curriculum (Black History), talked to the crowd about how decades before and after WWII, banks in Berkeley, and cities throughout the United States, refused loans to Black residents in parts of the Berkeley Hills, and nearby areas.

This forced them to create cultural and economic communities in South Berkeley, which were disrupted and displaced by the construction of Ashby BART in the 1960s.

The young protesters organised the march after being inspired by two Oakland teens who drew 15,000 people to a June 1 protest in Oakland, and the Pay Your Dues gathering drew a handful of children with their parents, along with many teenagers.

Chaga Kwania graduated from Berkeley High in 2006 and brought his two daughters, 10-year-old Crishayla Moreland and 9-year-old Amiyah Moreland.

‘I liked today because it showed that Black lives matter,’ Crishayla said. It wasn’t the girls’ first protest – they’d also attended an action in the past honouring Oscar Grant.

With chants of ‘Whose streets? Our streets!’ and ‘Ain’t no power like the power of youth, ’cause the power of youth don’t stop,’ the group danced, sang, marched and protested down Ashby and Shattuck avenues, through downtown and up Rose Street.

They blasted N.W.A’s ‘Fuck Tha Police’ as they ascended the hill, and shouted ‘Join us’ and ‘Out of your homes, into the streets’ when residents emerged from homes to clap, cheer on protesters, and display ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs.

Police were not present or visible at any point during the march, and Berkeley firefighters honked for protesters after the group separated on Shattuck to make way for their truck.

The protesters hiked up to Euclid Avenue to a soundtrack of Black Bay Area musicians Mac Dre, Keak Da Sneak, Mistah F.A.B, Kamaiyah and E-40, and finally arrived at Codornices Park around 6pm, without having taken any breaks in a roughly 2.5-mile march.

Over the last few weeks, Berkeley High students have presented successful demands to Berkeley Unified School District, organised a ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural project that scooped the city’s own plans for a similar mural, and held more consecutive protests than any other Berkeley group since the police killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25.

Their mood was victorious on Tuesday, but Avery and other speakers demanded more from the large numbers of white protesters who came to the gathering.

Schneider-Dwyer, who Avery introduced as a ‘white ally’, told the group to ‘get out of your discomfort’ and take concrete actions to support Black Lives Matter, instead of just adopting a title, putting up a sign, or attending a protest to share photos on social media.

With the backdrop of a misty, and picturesque Berkeley Rose Garden, the protesters held up candles and cellphone lights and read the names of people killed by police – Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark, Philando Castile, Tony McDade and many others – and the names of influential voices in the racial justice movement like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Marsha P. Johnson.

Greenham Common, from nuclear weapons to wildlife


Peace campaigners protest against nuclear weapons being stored at Greenham Common

By Peter Frost in Britain, 26 June 2020:

From bombs to vipers on Greenham Common

Twenty years ago Greenham Common ceased to be a cold-war bomber base — but it’s now returned to nature. PETER FROST goes snake hunting on the site

NOW, this is an interesting story. If I was a hippie (my wife Ann says “if you were still a hippie”), I might see a strange mystical connection between Greenham Common, once home of deadly nuclear weapons now being one of the best places to see Britain’s only venomous snake — the adder (Vipera berus).

The words Greenham Common hold all kinds of meanings — not least to readers of the Morning Star.

For much of the last half-century, Greenham Common was the home of nuclear weapons on an airbase shared by British and US forces.

This 2018 video is called Adder – the UK’s only VENOMOUS snake.

COVID-19 disaster, worldwide news


This 27 June 2020 video says about itself:

Luiz Henrique Mandetta: ‘Bolsonaro follows Trump‘ on coronavirus | Talk to Al Jazeera

On February 26, Brazil became the first country in South America to confirm a COVID-19 infection.

And as the number of cases increased over the subsequent weeks and months, its president, Jair Bolsonaro, refused to take any drastic measures. He fought with state leaders who imposed lockdowns and mandated social distancing rules – calling their actions “economically ruinous“.

Bolsonaro still refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of the global pandemic. He has called the virus nothing more than a “little flu”. His priority has been to keep the economy going at any cost.

But now, Brazil has recorded more than 1.2 million infections – and has the world’s second-highest death toll. And as Bolsonaro pushes for people to go back to work, two of his health ministers have walked away.

Nelson Teich had taken office on April 17, but left the job just four weeks later. Teich had replaced Luiz Henrique Mandetta, whom Bolsanaro had dismissed.

The president called it “a consensual divorce”, but Mandetta’s sacking caused anger across Brazil – with many banging pots and pans from their windows.

So, how will President Bolsanaro’s handling of this pandemic affect the more than 200 million Brazilians? And are his decisions influenced by his friendship with US President Donald Trump?

We put those questions to one of the men who played a central role during this crisis – Brazil’s former health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 26 June 2020:

Honduran health workers demand PPE after 160 test positive for Covid-19 in state-run hospital

HONDURAN President Juan Orlando Hernandez has come under fire for his disastrous handling of the global Covid-19 pandemic after 160 health workers tested positive for the virus.

The state-run Tegucigalpa University Teaching Hospital (HEU) reported earlier this week that 160 workers had been isolated after the test results, leaving the hospital short of staff when admissions due to Covid-19 are on the rise.

Honduras has more than 15,000 confirmed cases of which 1,600 have recovered. At least 426 people have died.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain, 26 June 2020:

Suspected coronavirus outbreaks in schools almost double in last week

THE number of suspected coronavirus outbreaks in schools almost doubled in the last week, according to the latest Public Health England (PHE) figures.

In its weekly Covid-19 surveillance report, PHE found that the number of “acute respiratory outbreaks” in schools rose from 24 to 44 — 16 more outbreaks than were recorded in hospitals.

An outbreak is defined as two or more people experiencing a similar illness, which appears to be linked to a particular setting.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain, 26 June 2020:

Social care workers dying from coronavirus at twice the rate of the population

ONS figures show women care workers are twice as likely as the general population to be killed by coronavirus — and for male workers the figures are even worse

WORKERS in the care system are dying at twice the rate of the rest of the population through coronavirus because of the government’s failings, unions warned today.

Government claims to have put a “protective ring” around the care sector early in the pandemic were exposed via a new Office for National Statistics (ONS) release today which revealed shocking death rates among care workers.

The figures show that women care workers are twice as likely as the general population to be killed by coronavirus — and for male workers the figures are even worse.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 26 June 2020:

Disabled GMB member who complained about being refused PPE reinstated after disciplinary charges

A DISABLED member of the GMB union suspended by his employer after asking for personal protective equipment (PPE) has had his disciplinary charges dropped, it emerged yesterday.

The man, who has not been named, has been told he can return to work by his bosses at outsourcing company ISS.

The refuse collector at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London’s Woolwich had requested a face mask because he feared contracting Covid-19 and passing it on to his brother, who he lives with.

1300 Japanese little dinosaur eggshell fossils discovered


An egg of Himeoolithus murakamii (left), outlined egg with intact eggshell remains (black area) (middle), and reconstruction of Himeoolithus murakamii and their probable parent dinosaur (right). Photo by University of Tsukuba and Museum of Nature and Human Activities, Hyogo, Japan

This 23 June 2020 Japanese video is about the new dinosaur eggs discovery.

From the University of Tsukuba in Japan:

Tiny Japanese dinosaur eggs help unscramble Cretaceous ecosystem

June 26, 2020

Summary: A research team has excavated over 1300 eggshell fossils from the Lower Cretaceous Ohyamashimo Formation of Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Over 96% of these fossils, including numerous fragments, four partial and almost complete eggs in an in situ nest, belonged to a new ootaxon the authors named Himeoolithus murakamii, attributed to a small non-avian theropod dinosaur. The remaining eggshell fragments, belonging to five additional small theropod ootaxa, showed notable biodiversity.

When most of us think of dinosaurs, we envision large, lumbering beasts, but these giants shared their ecosystems with much smaller dinosaurs, the smaller skeletons of which were generally less likely to be preserved. The fossilized eggshells of these small dinosaurs can shed light on this lost ecological diversity.

Led by the University of Tsukuba, researchers scoured an exceptional fossil egg site first discovered in 2015 in Hyogo Prefecture, southwestern Japan, and reported their findings in a new study published in Cretaceous Research.

The Kamitaki Egg Quarry, found in a red-brown mudstone layer of the Ohyamashimo Formation, deposited in an Early Cretaceous (about 110 million years old) river flood plain, was carefully and intensively excavated in the winter of 2019, and yielded over 1300 egg fossils. Most were isolated fragments, but there were a few partial and almost complete eggs.

According to lead author Professor Kohei Tanaka, “our taphonomic analysis indicated that the nest we found was in situ, not transported and redeposited, because most of the eggshell fragments were positioned concave-up, not concave-down like we see when eggshells are transported.”

Most of these fossil eggs belong to a new egg genus and species, called Himeoolithus murakamii, and are exceptionally small, with an estimated mass of 9.9 grams — about the size of a modern quail egg. However, biological classification analysis implies that the eggs belonged not to early birds, but to their cousins, the non-avian theropod dinosaurs (the group that includes well-known carnivores like Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor). That puts Himeoolithus murakamii among the smallest non-avian theropod eggs reported to date. These tiny eggs were notably elongated in shape — unusual for similarly small eggs among Cretaceous birds, but typical among larger non-avian theropod eggs.

In addition to the abundant Himeoolithus murakamii eggshells, five more ootaxa (distinct types of egg fossils) were recognized in the Kamitaki locality. All of these ootaxa belonged to small non-avian theropods.

As Professor Tanaka explains, “the high diversity of these small theropod eggs makes this one of the most diverse Early Cretaceous egg localities known. Small theropod skeletal fossils are quite scarce in this area. Therefore, these fossil eggs provide a useful window into the hidden ecological diversity of dinosaurs in the Early Cretaceous of southwestern Japan, as well as into the nesting behavior of small non-avian theropods.”

This music video is called Jonathan Richman – I’m A Little Dinosaur.