Beluga whales have friends


This 8 November 2020 video says about itself:

Beluga whale filmed playing ‘fetch’ with Rugby World Cup ball

A beluga whale has been filmed playing ‘fetch’ with an official 2019 Rugby World Cup ball near the Arctic Pole. A group of South African rugby fans can be seen throwing the ball out into the ocean. The whale chases the ball, before returning it to the men on the boat.

From Florida Atlantic University in the USA:

Like humans, beluga whales form social networks beyond family ties

Study first to uncover the role kinship plays in complex groupings and relationships of beluga whales spanning 10 locations across the Arctic

July 10, 2020

A groundbreaking study using molecular genetic techniques and field studies brings together decades of research into the complex relationships among beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) that spans 10 locations across the Arctic from Alaska to Canada and Russia to Norway. The behavior of these highly gregarious whales, which include sophisticated vocal repertoires, suggest that this marine mammal lives in complex societies. Like killer whales (Orcinus orca) and African elephants (Loxodonta Africana), belugas were thought to form social bonds around females that primarily comprise closely related individuals from the same maternal lineage. However, this hypothesis had not been formally tested.

The study, led by Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, is the first to analyze the relationship between group behaviors, group type, group dynamics, and kinship in beluga whales. Findings, just published in Scientific Reports, reveal several unexpected results. Not only do beluga whales regularly interact with close kin, including close maternal kin, they also frequently associate with more distantly related and unrelated individuals.

Findings indicate that evolutionary explanations for group living and cooperation in beluga whales must expand beyond strict inclusive fitness arguments to include other evolutionary mechanisms. Belugas likely form multi-scale societies from mother-calf dyads to entire communities. From these perspectives, beluga communities have similarities to human societies where social networks, support structures, cooperation and cultures involve interactions between kin and non-kin. Given their long lifespan (approximately 70 years) and tendency to remain within their natal community, these findings reveal that beluga whales may form long-term affiliations with unrelated as well as related individuals.

“This research will improve our understanding of why some species are social, how individuals learn from group members and how animal cultures emerge,” said Greg O’Corry-Crowe, Ph.D., lead author and a research professor at FAU’s Harbor Branch. “It also has implications for traditional explanations based on matrilineal care for a very rare life-history trait in nature, menopause, which has only been documented in a handful of mammals, including beluga whales and humans.”

Researchers found that belugas formed a limited number of group types, from mother-calf dyads to adult male groups, and from mixed-age groups to large herds. These same group types were consistently observed across population and habitats. Furthermore, certain behaviors were associated with group type, and group membership was found to often be dynamic.

“Unlike killer and pilot whales, and like some human societies, beluga whales don’t solely or even primarily interact and associate with close kin. Across a wide variety of habitats and among both migratory and resident populations, they form communities of individuals of all ages and both sexes that regularly number in the hundreds and possibly the thousands,” said O’Corry-Crowe. “It may be that their highly developed vocal communication enables them to remain in regular acoustic contact with close relatives even when not associating together.”

Beluga whale groupings (beyond mother-calf dyads) were not usually organized around close maternal relatives. The smaller social groups, as well as the larger herds, routinely comprised multiple matrilines. Even where group members shared the same mtDNA lineage, microsatellite analysis often revealed that they were not closely related, and many genealogical links among group members involved paternal rather than maternal relatives. These results differ from earlier predictions that belugas have a matrilineal social system of closely associating female relatives. They also differ from the association behavior of the larger toothed whales that informed those predictions. In ‘resident’ killer whales, for example, both males and females form groups with close maternal kin where they remain for their entire lives.

“Beluga whales exhibit a wide range of grouping patterns from small groups of two to 10 individuals to large herds of 2,000 or more, from apparently single-sex and age-class pods to mixed-age and sex groupings, and from brief associations to multi-year affiliations,” said O’Corry-Crowe. “This variation suggests a fission-fusion society where group composition and size are context-specific, but it may also reflect a more rigid multi-level society comprised of stable social units that regularly coalesce and separate. The role kinship plays in these groupings has been largely unknown.”

For the study, researchers used field observations, mtDNA profiling, and multi-locus genotyping of beluga whales to address fundamental questions about beluga group structure, and patterns of kinship and behavior, which provide new insights into the evolution and ecology of social structure in this Arctic whale.

The study was conducted at 10 locations, in different habitats, across the species’ range, spanning from small, resident groups (Yakutat Bay) and populations (Cook Inlet) in subarctic Alaska to larger, migratory populations in the Alaskan (Kasegaluk Lagoon, Kotzebue Sound, Norton Sound), Canadian (Cunningham Inlet, Mackenzie Delta, Husky Lakes) and Russian (Gulf of Anadyr) Arctic to a small, insular population in the Norwegian High Arctic (Svalbard).

“This new understanding of why individuals may form social groups, even with non-relatives, will hopefully promote new research on what constitutes species resilience and how species like the beluga whale can respond to emerging threats including climate change,” said O’Corry-Crowe.

Racism, anti-racism, police in the USA


This 10 July 2020 video says about itself:

Corrupt Prosecutors In Bed With Cops Who Killed Breonna Taylor

It’s time for police reform. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss on The Young Turks.

“LOUISVILLE — Previously unheard audio of interviews from the investigation of the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor reveals new details about the events leading to her death, as well as the sympathetic approach investigators took while scrutinizing one of their own.

In the interview with Louisville police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who led the late-night raid in March, the investigator questioning Mattingly describes a raid involving at least seven officers and a battering ram as “the most passive way in””

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Strike for Black Lives set for July 20 in 25 US cities

STRIKES against systemic racism and police violence are set to take place in at least 25 US cities later this month, unions announced on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of fast-food, care-home and airport workers will walk out in a 24-hour stoppage on July 20 for marches and rallies.

The Strike for Black Lives has been co-ordinated by organisations and trade unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than two million workers in the US and Canada.

Protests erupt after Detroit, Michigan police shoot and kill 21-year-old man. By Stephen Fuller, 11 July 2020. Tensions are high in the city after weeks of protests against police brutality in which hundreds have been arrested and police have rammed into protesters with their vehicles.

Seven animals which may kill lions


This 9 July 2020 video says about itself:

They say only a lion can kill a lion, but mighty and strong as they are, even these wildcats sometimes become the victims of their intended prey.

There are in fact a handful of animals who are big, brave and strong enough to put up a fight that can end very badly for the lion and defeat him easily.

Are you ready to meet the king of the jungle’s most fearsome opponents? These situations are like animals fighting and messing with wrong opponents.

British gay Prime League footballer in closet


This 9 February 2020 video says about itself:

Only 8 male football players have come out as gay. There can be extremely negative consequences for male footballers who come out. Mocking, insults: homophobia is widespread in men’s football, and that clearly explains why only 8 male players have come out as gay.

Far more than eight male soccer players have come out of the closet. The video should say ‘8 INTERNATIONALLY WELL-KNOWN PROFESSIONAL players’.

An open letter by a British gay Prime League footballer today:

As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a footballer. I wasn’t interested in doing well at school. Instead of doing homework, every spare minute I had was spent with a ball. In the end, it paid off. But even now I still have to pinch myself when I run out and get to play each week in front of tens of thousands of people.

However, there is something that sets me apart from most of the other players in the Premier League. I am gay. Even writing that down in this letter is a big step for me. But only my family members and a select group of friends are aware of my sexuality. I don’t feel ready to share it with my team or my manager. That’s hard. I spend most of my life with these guys and when we step out on the pitch we are a team.

But still, something inside me makes it impossible for me to be open with them about how I feel. I dearly hope one day soon I will be able to. I’ve known since I was about 19 that I was gay. How does it feel having to live like this? Day-to-day, it can be an absolute nightmare. And it is affecting my mental health more and more. I feel trapped and my fear is that disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse.

So, although my heart often tells me I need to do it my head always says the same thing: “Why risk it all?” I am lucky enough to earn a very good wage. I have a nice car, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and can afford to buy anything I want for my family and friends.

But one thing I am missing is companionship. I am at an age where I would love to be in a relationship. But because of the job I do the level of trust in having a long-term partner has to be extremely high.

So, at the moment, I avoid relationships at all. I dearly hope I will soon meet someone who I think I will be able to trust enough. The truth is I just don’t think football is ready yet for a player to come out. The game would need to make radical changes in order for me to feel able to make that step.

The Professional Footballers Association say they are ready to help a player to come out. And they have said they will offer counselling and support to anyone who needs it. This is missing the point. If I need a counsellor I can go and book a session with one whenever I want.

What those running the game need to do is educate fans, players, managers, agents, club owners basically everyone involved in the game. If I was to make that step I’d want to know that I would be supported at each step of my journey. Right now, I don’t feel I would be.

I wish I didn’t have to live my life in such a way. But the reality is there is still a huge amount of prejudice in football. There are countless times I’ve heard homophobic chants and comments from supporters directed at no one in particular.

Strangely it doesn’t really bother me during the matches. I am too focused on playing. It’s when I get back on the plane or the coach and I have time to think that it gets to me. As things stand my plan is to carry on playing for as long as I feel able to and then come out when I have retired.

It was great last month to see Thomas Beattie raise his hand and admit to being gay. But the fact he had to wait until retirement tells you all you need to know. Footballers are still too scared to make the step while they are playing.

For the past year I have been getting support from the Justin Fashanu Foundation, not least to cope with the toll this is all having on my mental health.

It is hard to put into words how much the Foundation has helped. It has made me feel supported and understood as well as giving me the confidence to be more open and honest with myself especially.

Without that support I really don’t know where I’d be now. I know it might get to the point where I find it impossible to keep living a lie. If I do my plan is to retire early and come out. I might be throwing away years of a lucrative career.

But you can’t put a price on your peace of mind. And I don’t want to live like this forever.

Dutch women’s national team lesbian football player Vivianne Miedema, playing in Britain, says: ‘Gay male Premier League players, please come out of the closet. Even just one man coming out will help lots of other players’.

The Dutch football league president says that professional football club bosses stop gay players from coming out of the closet for fear of losing money.

Young flame-rumped tanager fed in Panama


This video says about itself:

Flame-rumped Tanager Feeds Fledgling On The Panama Fruit Feeder – July 9, 2020

A male Flame-rumped Tanager, in his velvety black and vibrant yellow plumage, came in for some banana. He was later joined by a juvenile who begged for food. The adult male obliged and fed the hungry fledgling some banana.

Siouxsie singer, Siouxsie guitarist, Siouxsie COVID-19 doctor


This music video from England is called Siouxsie And The Banshees – Warwick University 1981.

As far as I know, there are three women in the world called Siouxsie. Siouxsie of the Banshees. And Siouxsie Medley, United States post-hardcore punk rock guitarist. Finally, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, the best known New Zealand doctor now fighting COVID-19.

All three Siouxsies have in common that they were born Susan (Susie) and changed the spelling later.

This 9 July 2020 video is called Vocal Coach [Beth Roars] reacts to Siouxsie And the Banshees – Spellbound (Siouxsie Sioux Live).

Siouxsie Sioux is not just a songwriter and singer, but sometimes also a guitar player.

In this live music video, she sings the Banshees song Sin in my heart. And plays second guitar to the late John McGeoch’s lead guitar.

This live music video from the USA says about itself:

Dead Sara – Killing in the Name (Rage Against the Machine cover)

Dead Sara performing Killing in the Name Of at the Echo in Los Angeles on 5/6/2014.

Chris Null and [lead guitarist] Siouxsie Medley venture into the crowd to play towards the end.

Suzie Medley changed her name to Siouxsie mainly because of her partly Native American ancestry.

Finally, Dr Siouxsie Wiles from New Zealand.

Ever since she was a teenager, she has dyed her hair pink, and spelt her name inspired by Siouxsie Sioux.

She now angers right-wingers in New Zealand who want to ‘kick that woman off TV’.

She gets hate mail from sexists who hate women, especially pink-haired women who supposedly ‘cannot be real scientists’. And from ‘coronavirus is just a little flu‘ ‘Flu Klux Klan‘ persons who would not mind if in New Zealand as many people would die like rats from COVID-19 as in Donald Trump’s USA and in Bolsonaro’s Brazil. Usually, these two categories of Siouxsie Wiles haters are the same persons.

Siouxsie Q, San Francisco Weekly columnist: here.

London Grenfell disaster killed photographer Khadija Saye


This 2 September 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

Khadija Saye tragically lost her life in the Grenfell Tower fire at the age of just 24. In this interview filmed a month beforehand, she talks about her ambitions and her photography exhibition in Venice.

The footage is taken from the BBC Arts programme Venice Biennale: Britain’s New Voices.

BY LUCY LAVER in Britain today:

Khadija Saye: Breath is Invisible

Khadija Saye 1992-2017 236 Westbourne Grove W11 2RH Until August 7th

WITH THE reconvening of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on Monday and the recent and ongoing global Black Lives Matter uprising, this is a pertinent and timely outdoor exhibition of the remarkable photographic works of the late Khadija Saye.

The exhibition was unveiled by Labour MP David Lammy earlier this week in Notting Hill.

The large intriguing prints are displayed across the façade of 236 Westbourne Grove W11, and the powerful exhibition coincides with the launch of an art project, the Khadija Saye IntoArts Programme, that aims to diversify the industry, working with young people from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds.

It was founded in her memory by the charity, IntoUniversity, who had nurtured Khadija’s artistic talents as a North Kensington student from childhood, and her mentor Nicola Green, a British portrait painter and the wife of David Lammy.

Khadija Mohammadou Saye, also known as Ya-Haddy Sisi Saye, was a London born British Gambian artist and activist who lived and worked in the flat she shared with her mother, Mary Mendy, on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower in urban North Kensington.

Although Kensington and Chelsea is one of the smaller and wealthier boroughs in London, North Kensington is a relatively deprived area where its pockets of poverty often sit in stark contrast to the wealth of those around them.

Despite this, at 16 Khadija won a full Arnold Foundation scholarship to the esteemed Rugby School and went on to study a BA in photography at UCA Farnham with a particular interest in post-colonial theory and identity politics.

Her graduate exhibition, ‘Crowned’ was a series of thought-provoking portraits shot in her home against a black velvet background depicting the traditional hairstyles such as braids, locks and cornrows worn by her friends, family and neighbours.

Saye had a passionate drive to make art a more inclusive space and had worked at Jawaab, a creative campaigning group aimed at legitimising young Muslims to become politically and artistically active.

The series used in the current exposition is entitled Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe.

The portfolio of self-portraits is a very personal exploration of the notions of identity and spirituality, inspired by Khadija’s Muslim and Christian religious heritage and portraying traditional Gambian rituals with culturally significant and meaningful objects.

The sepia-toned images have been described by critics as heartwarming, haunting and relic-like, with an ancient feel.

The aged look was achieved by an early photographic process created in 1851 called Wet Collodion Tintype.

The technique entails adding a soluble iodide to a collodion solution and then coating a glass plate with it.

This method results in images steeped in ethereal tones of grey and black.

Khadija’s use of this process and her characterisation of traditional African practices results in powerful and memorable portraits that are reminiscent of the sepia-toned images of early 19th century photographs.

Following her death, Tate Britain announced that they would exhibit a screen print of one of her tintype photographs from the Dwelling series.

Earlier in the year, they had been exhibited in the Diaspora Pavilion at the prestigious 57th Venice Biennale, where Saye was their youngest-ever participant, at just 24 years old.

Described by those that knew her as kind, funny, bright and extremely talented with an infectious laugh, Khadija had been nervous and thrilled to be selected for such an undertaking and had reportedly caught the eye of a prominent director.

The event had heralded the cusp of her recognition, and the images were still on display when the fire tragically engulfed her home and took her life, aged only 24, in June 2017.

Today, in this urban public space however, Khadija’s art lives.

Breath Is Invisible is a public art project which will show four artists’ work in a shared public space to celebrate, reflect, question and heal, and work collaboratively with young creative and local non-profit community arts organisations. It is a project born of urgency to address issues of racism and injustice.