Why jewel beetles are colourful

This 11 July 2020 video says about itself:

Jewel beetles are pretty eye-catching with their glossy, bright coloration. But if you were a small creature that needed to avoid predators, you might think that eye-catching is the last thing you’d want to be. But it turns out that their iridescence doesn’t hinder their camouflage…it IS their camouflage!

Neo-nazis in German military and police

This 14 October 2016 video says about itself:

Police in Germany say they have recovered DNA from the recently discovered remains of a girl who disappeared 15 years ago, claiming it matches that of a dead member of a neo-Nazi terror cell.

Peggy Knobloch was 9 years-old in 2001 when she vanished in broad daylight in the Bavarian city of Lichtenberg on her way home from school.

Her remains were finally found in July this year in a forest in the centre of Germany.

The discovery of DNA belonging to Uwe Böhnhardt on the girl’s body marks a dramatic breakthrough in the long-unsolved case.

Read more here.

By Jordan Shilton, 10 July 2020:

Massive neo-Nazi penetration of German military and police

In a lengthy July 3 article, the New York Times extensively documented a right-wing extremist conspiracy involving sections of the German military, intelligence agencies and police to carry out a violent uprising on “Day X”, The article, based on a year-long investigation, documents wide-ranging far-right networks within the military and police, the infiltration of the elite special forces unit (KSK) by fascists and the growing influence of right-wing extremist political forces like the Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Headlined “As neo-Nazis seed military ranks, Germany confronts an enemy within,” the article details how shadowy networks for planning attacks and storing weapons have been tolerated and even supported by army commanders for years. One former KSK commander, Gen. Reinhard Günzel, published a book in which he likened the KSK to the Waffen-SS, the Nazi stormtroopers notorious for carrying out numerous mass executions of Jews during the Holocaust.

In a raid on the house of just one KSK soldier in May, investigators found “two kilograms of PETN plastic explosives, a detonator, a fuse, an AK-47, a silencer, two knives, a crossbow and thousands of rounds of ammunition,” according to the Times. Another former KSK member nicknamed Hannibal ran a chat group in which the plotting of terrorist attacks were discussed. Several members of the group are under investigation, and one has been placed on trial. Interviewed by the Times, “Hannibal” described his group as being about “war gaming” against “gangs, Islamists and antifa,” who are “the enemy troops on our ground.”

The Times’ piece appeared just days after Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was forced to announce the restructuring of the KSK, including the disbanding of one of its companies, due to its emergence as a hotbed for right-wing extremists. This extraordinary event, which illustrates how the German state apparatus and security forces are increasingly dominated by neo-Nazis 75 years after the collapse of Hitlerite fascism, forced the Times and a host of newspapers internationally to report on a reality they have largely sought to ignore for years.

Recalling political conditions during the Weimar Republic following World War I, the Times’ article paints a picture of a nominally democratic state confronting far-right conspiracies on all sides, above all from within. Right-wing extremist networks are “hoarding weapons, maintaining safe houses, and in some cases keeping lists of political enemies” to execute, the Times noted. Within the KSK alone, 48,000 rounds of munition and 62 kilograms of explosives have gone missing.

The Times article pointed to the comments of Brenton Tarrant, the far-right terrorist who gunned down dozens of Muslim worshippers in a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, to the effect that “hundreds of thousands” of soldiers in Europe’s militaries hold fascist and right-wing nationalist views. It continued, “Germany’s military counterintelligence agency is now investigating more than 600 soldiers for far-right extremism, out of 184,000 in the military. Some 20 of them are in the KSK, a proportion that is five times higher than in other units.

“But the German authorities are concerned that the problem may be far larger and that other security institutions have been infiltrated as well. Over the past 13 months, far-right terrorists have assassinated a politician, attacked a synagogue and shot dead nine immigrants and German descendants of immigrants.”

The true extent of the far-right infiltration remains unclear, the Times continued, because sections of the intelligence agencies are dominated by right-wing extremists as well. It referred to a tip-off given to KSK soldiers by a military counter-intelligence agent about a raid in May, before quoting Stephan Kramer, president of the domestic intelligence agency in the state of Thuringia, as saying, “What we are dealing with is an enemy within.”

The author of the article, Katrin Bennfold, observed that “military and intelligence officials” and “avowed far-right members” told her about “nationwide networks of current and former soldiers and police officers with ties to the far-right.” Some media outlets describe it as a “shadow army,” recalling the campaign of assassinations, coup plots and conspiracies conducted by far-right forces within the military during the Weimar Republic with the aim of overturning bourgeois democracy.

“In many cases, soldiers have used the networks to prepare for when they predict Germany’s democratic order will collapse,” continued the Times, in perhaps its most startling revelation. “They call it Day X. Officials worry it is really a pretext for inciting terrorist acts, or worse, a putsch.”

For many Times’ readers, the news that Germany, held up by ruling circles as one of Europe’s leading democracies following the defeat of Nazism in 1945, faces the imminent threat of a military coup by the far-right will have come as a surprise. However, the reality is that the same objective contradictions of capitalism that led the German bourgeoisie to back the installation of Hitler as Chancellor in January 1933 behind the backs of a hostile working class are propelling its descendants towards the cultivation of the far-right and outright fascist forces. On the one hand, German imperialism is confronted by the necessity of advancing more ruthlessly its predatory economic and geostrategic interests around the world under conditions of accelerating tensions between the major powers. On the other, it faces deep-seated opposition among working people to its policies of austerity and war.

The German Trotskyists of the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (SGP) and the World Socialist Web Site warned from the outset that the attempt to develop a more aggressive foreign policy to assert German imperialist interests on the world stage was intimately bound up with the rehabilitation of right-wing extremist views and the promotion of pro-Nazi forces. The SGP declared in a September 2014 resolution adopted at a special conference against war, “The propaganda of the post-war era—that Germany had learnt from the terrible crimes of the Nazis, had ‘arrived at the West,’ had embraced a peaceful foreign policy, and had developed into a stable democracy—is exposed as lies. German imperialism is once again showing its real colours as it emerged historically, with all of its aggressiveness at home and abroad.”

This resolution was adopted in opposition to the statements of German President Joachim Gauck, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen, who all proclaimed at the 2014 Munich Security Conference that the era of German military restraint was over. Germany was too large to comment on world politics from the “sidelines,” argued Steinmeier, before going on to call for a more decisive and substantial intervention by the armed forces in foreign military operations.

The same month Gauck, Steinmeier and Von der Leyen delivered their remarks, Jörg Baberowski, a professor of Eastern European history at Berlin’s Humboldt University, told Der Spiegel magazine, “Hitler was not a psychopath, he was not vicious. He did not want to talk about the extermination of the Jews at his table.”

Not a single voice from academia or the political establishment was raised against this gross falsification of history by Baberowski, who also proclaimed his support for Ernst Nolte, the most well-known pro-Nazi historian in post-war Germany. On the contrary, Baberowski and his co-thinkers were defended and supported by Humboldt University’s management, which declared “attacks in the media” on him to be “unacceptable.” This support extended beyond Germany, with Princeton University awarding Baberowski a research grant of $300,000 for his work on dictatorship, which the professor studies as a legitimate and even popular “alternative political order” to democratic forms of rule. When Baberowski travelled to Princeton in the spring of 2019 to attend a closed-door conference, he was accompanied by his research assistant Fabian Thunemann, who was identified as a leading participant in a neo-Nazi demonstration in the German city of Hannover in 1998. (See: Why did Princeton University provide funding for the German right-wing extremist Jörg Baberowski?)

While Baberowski’s far-right rewriting of history enjoyed sympathetic backing from the media and academia, the SGP and its student organization were subjected to a vicious media campaign. In 2018, the SGP was placed on a watch list by the Secret Service for being “left-wing extremist.” In its justification of the move, the intelligence agency, which was headed at the time by the AfD sympathiser Hans-Georg Maassen, argued that “the struggle for a democratic, egalitarian, socialist society” and “agitation against alleged ‘imperialism’ and ‘militarism’” are anti-constitutional, i.e., illegal.

The reason for this ruthless response was that the SGP’s opposition to Baberowski, the trivialisation of the Nazis’ crimes, and the revival of German militarism cut across the ruling elite’s conspiracy to shift politics sharply to the right. The neo-fascist AfD has been systematically built up since its founding in 2013. After it secured 12.6 percent of the vote in the 2017 federal election and became the first fascist party since 1945 to be represented in the federal Parliament, Steinmeier, who was by then German president, met with the AfD’s leaders and urged other parties to dismantle the “walls of irreconcilability” around the AfD and strive for “German patriotism.” Several months later, the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats concluded the formation of a new grand coalition government, which had the effect of making the AfD the official opposition party in Parliament.

The AfD has since been able to dictate large parts of the grand coalition’s policy, particularly in the areas of immigration and refugees. All of the parliamentary parties ensured that positions were left open at the head of important parliamentary committees for the far-right party to fill.

In February, the liberal Free Democrats and Christian Democrats took this cooperation with the AfD to its next logical step in the state of Thuringia, where they relied on the votes of the neo-fascists to elect the FDP’s Thomas Kemmerich as the state’s Minister President. Widespread popular outrage over the first Minister President in a post-war German state to be elected with the votes of a fascist party forced Kemmerich to resign soon afterwards. (See: Sound the alarm! Political conspiracy and the resurgence of fascism in Germany)

It is within this reactionary right-wing political climate that the activities of fascist terrorists and coup plotters in and around the military, police and intelligence agencies have flourished.

The fact that the Times now feels compelled to report so explicitly on the danger of right-wing extremist networks speaks to the deepening crisis of bourgeois rule under conditions of world capitalist breakdown that are unprecedented since the 1930s. Faced with glaring levels of social inequality, a resurgence of inter-imperialist rivalries and the erosion of democratic forms of rule, ruling elites everywhere are turning to authoritarian and right-wing extremist forces to defend their interests against the working class at home and their national competitors abroad. As Trotsky wrote in 1929, analysing the growing trend towards dictatorship in Europe and the strengthening of fascist forces, “The excessively high tension of the international struggle and the class struggle results in the short circuit of the dictatorship, blowing out the fuses of democracy one after the other.”

While the infiltration of the German military and state apparatus by fascist forces with the backing of the political establishment is the most graphic example of this process, no less dangerous developments are underway in other leading capitalist countries.

In neighbouring France, President Emmanuel Macron has lauded the legacy of Nazi collaborator Philippe Pétain as a national hero and ordered a brutal military-style crackdown on Yellow Vest protesters, resulting in fatalities and the maiming of hundreds.

In the United States, Trump continues to cultivate a base of support among far-right and fascist layers, as shown most recently by his retweeting of a video showing one of his supporters shouting “white power.” Confronted by mass, multi-racial protests against police brutality in early June, the US president responded by initiating a military coup with the aim of creating an authoritarian regime under his personal command.

Far-right and fascistic forces are also being promoted in Canada, including to intimidate and disperse working class struggles. Just a day prior to the publication of the Times’ exposé of the far-right in Germany, an army reservist motivated by right-wing extremist views launched a failed assassination attempt against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

There could be nothing more criminally light-minded than to underestimate the threat from the fascist far-right. But unlike the 1920s and 1930s, the far-right in Germany and elsewhere does not yet enjoy a mass following. In fact, the AfD and its backers are widely despised among the broad masses of the population, who have not forgotten the barbaric crimes perpetrated by the Nazis throughout Europe, above all the Holocaust. The far-right’s apparent strength comes exclusively from the fact that it has powerful allies within the ruling elite and its state apparatus.

To prevent the far-right conspiracies of the ruling elites in Germany and other countries from succeeding, the widespread working-class hatred towards right-wing extremism must be transformed into a conscious political movement against the revival of fascism and militarism, and the rotten capitalist profit system in which this process is rooted.

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German defence minister plans more effective organization of army’s far-right elite force
[4 July 2020]

Rupert Murdoch helps COVID-19 killing people

This 10 July 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Watching Fox News Coincides with Higher COVID-19 Death Rates | NowThis

Fox News contributes to COVID-19 spread, according to a recent academic study.

In US news and current events today, studies found Fox News viewership coincided with higher coronavirus mortality rates. In one study, infection and mortality rates were higher where Sean Hannity reached the largest audiences. People who listened to Hannity and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh were also more likely to believe in rumors and conspiracy theories and less likely to take sanitary measures like hand washing. So how has this affected Fox’s most loyal viewer? Watch to find out.

Jays use ants against parasites

This 7 July 2020 video shows two Eurasian jays seeking out ants in order to have formic acid to clean their feathers from parasites.

Other birds, like black woodpeckers and blackbirds, act similarly.

Henk Ruiterkamp from Wijhe village in Overijssel province in the Netherlands made this video.

German nazi terrorist threats against leftist woman

This 4 July 2020 German video by (right-wing) daily Die Welt says about itself, translated:

The parties in the Hessian state parliament reacted horrified to threatening letters against the Left Party faction leader Janine Wissler. According to her party, the 39-year-old, who is also the deputy federal chairwoman of the Left party, has received two emails from anonymous right-wing extremists marked “NSU 2.0“, in which she is being threatened massively. The letters are similar to the death threats against Frankfurt lawyer Seda Basay-Yildiz, whose author the police have not been able to catch for two years.

Maybe because the nazis threatening Ms Seda Basay-Yildiz’ and her little daughter’s lives probably were policemen.

About Wissler, they are also said to know personal information that is not publicly accessible.

The parliamentary leaders of the CDU, SPD, Greens and FDP in the state parliament published a joint statement on Saturday in which they expressed their solidarity with the left-wing politician. “The democratic parties in the Hessian state parliament are horrified by the apparently right-wing extremist threats”, it said in the letter. “The threats against our colleague Janine Wissler are hideous and disgusting,” explain the group leaders Ines Claus (CDU), Nancy Faeser (SPD), Mathias Wagner (Greens) and René Rock (FDP).

Good that CDU and FDP politicians now condemn these neo-nazi terrorists. However, we should not forget that the CDU and FDP recently formed a government (a short-lived government because of massive anti-nazi protests) in Thuringia state with the help of the neo-fascist AfD party.

The parallels to the earlier threatening letters to Basay-Yildiz are terrifying. “Anyone who threatens MPs with death attacks us all,” they continue. …

The party leaders of the Left party in Hesse, Petra Heimer and Jan Schalauske, were also shocked. “The attack on Janine is an attack on all of us,” they emphasized and explained: “We are not intimidated by right-wing violent offenders.” The Nazi greetings “Sieg Heil” and “Heil Hitler” are also said to have been included in the emails. The authors threatened Wissler with a “Day X” on which she would not be protected by the police.

The threatening letters to Basay-Yildiz that first appeared in 2018 also contained personal information about her, her little daughter, and other family members. As it turned out, they had been sent from a Frankfurt police computer without an official reason. Several police officers working in the area were suspended shortly afterwards for participating in neo-Nazi chats.

By Ulrich Rippert (SGP in Germany national secretary), 11 July 2020:

Janine Wissler, chairwoman of the Hesse state parliamentary faction of the Left Party, has repeatedly received email death threats signed “NSU 2.0.” Her personal data had earlier been retrieved on a police service computer.

NSU 2.0 is a reference to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU), whose members were responsible for the murder of at least nine people with an immigrant background and one policewoman between 2000 and 2006.

The Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party—SGP) and the World Socialist Web Site strongly condemn these attacks, which, according to current knowledge, are based on a right-wing extremist conspiracy within the Hesse police force.

On Saturday, the Frankfurter Rundschau reported the death threats made against Wissler and described the results of its own research. According to the report, a police computer in the state capital, Wiesbaden, had retrieved private data of the Left Party politician in February. Shortly thereafter, Janine Wissler received two letters containing abuse and threats, as well as personal data that is not publicly accessible.

The letters evinced similarities to threats made against Frankfurt lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız, who represented the family of an NSU murder victim in court. Since the summer of 2018, Başay-Yıldız has received several threatening letters containing coarse insults, which were also signed “NSU 2.0.”

In response to the Frankfurter Rundschau article, Wissler again received a death threat by email.

On Thursday, Hesse State Interior Minister Peter Beuth (Christian Democratic Union—CDU) was forced to issue a press release in which he admitted that a right-wing network in the police force could no longer be ruled out. The signature “NSU 2.0” raised this suspicion, Beuth said. He announced—as he had done before—a “thorough investigation.” He said he would appoint a special investigator to relentlessly probe the threats against Wissler and the lawyer Başay-Yıldız.

The investigations carried out so far, which have all come to nothing, indicate what all this means. The NSU murders took place under the eyes of the domestic secret service and at least two dozen of their confidential Informants. However, despite years of legal proceedings and numerous committees of inquiry, the close involvement of the secret service in this series of murders has been suppressed.

This cover-up has strengthened the right-wing terrorist networks in the state apparatus. After the first “NSU 2.0” letter to Başay-Yıldız threatening to “slaughter” her then two-year-old daughter, a right-wing extremist chat group was uncovered in the Frankfurt city police. The police officers exchanged pictures of Hitler and swastikas. A policewoman from this group had retrieved the data used in the threatening letter about Ms. Başay-Yıldız’ family and her home address from the internal police computer. In December 2018, six police officers, five of them in Frankfurt’s Precinct 1, were suspended from duty.

In response, “NSU 2.0” sent a second threatening letter to Başay-Yıldız. The right-wing terrorists felt so secure that they openly expressed their connection to the Hesse police. They wrote, “You [vulgar insult] are obviously not aware of what you have done to our police colleagues.”

Even then, it was clear that these were not individual cases, but a far-reaching right-wing terrorist conspiracy in the police force. Interior Minister Beuth is now following the same pattern as that pursued by his predecessor, Volker Bouffier (CDU), the current Hesse state premier, in the case of the NSU.

When Halit Yozgat was murdered by the NSU in Kassel in 2006, Bouffier concealed for as long as possible the fact that Andreas Temme, an officer from the Hesse state Office for the Protection of the Constitution (as the secret service is called), responsible for overseeing the Confidential Informants, was present at the scene of the crime. When the matter could no longer be concealed, he granted Temme only limited permission to testify. The relevant files are still under lock and key and are to remain so for another 30 years.

As a result, the right-wing terrorist conspiracy within the state apparatus remained undisturbed. Its next victim was Kassel’s district president, Walter Lübcke (CDU), who was shot in cold blood on the terrace of his house on June 2 of last year. The suspected murderer, Stephan Ernst, frequented the same Kassel neo-Nazi circles as the NSU and had for three decades been known to the police and secret service as a violent right-wing criminal.

The murder of Lübcke was the prelude to a whole series of right-wing terrorist assassination attempts. On 9 October 2019, more than 70 participants in a Yom Kippur celebration in Halle escaped mass murder only by luck. The right-wing extremist assassin Stephan Balliet shot two passers-by after he failed to gain entry to the synagogue.

On 19 February of this year, a right-wing extremist terrorist shot dead nine people in the Hesse city of Hanau and injured six others, some of them seriously. The massacre took place in two shisha bars, which are mainly frequented by immigrants. The investigating federal public prosecutor general spoke of the perpetrator’s “deeply racist attitudes.” A few days earlier, the police had arrested 12 right-wing extremists on suspicion of preparing simultaneous massacres in several mosques.

Right-wing extremist conspiracies in the Army have long been known. Last week, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) was forced to partially dissolve the Special Forces Command (KSK) because more and more details about right-wing terrorist networks have come to light. However, as with the police, the restructuring of the KSK does not serve to combat and eliminate the right-wing networks, but to cover up and maintain them.

Now the right-wing terror is being directed against a politician of the Left Party. This is a serious warning.

Representatives of the government and … parties in the Bundestag (federal parliament) have expressed “great concern” about the death threats against Janine Wissler and have declared their support. They did the same thing after the massacre in Hanau, the assassination in Halle and the cold-blooded murder of Walter Lübcke. As usual, they stressed their “horror”, their “consternation” and their sympathy with the relatives of the victims.

In truth, there is no institution within the entire political establishment—among the parties, the investigating authorities and the judiciary—that is willing and able to stop the right-wing conspiracy in the state apparatus.

The same politicians and parties that are now warning of the “dangers to democracy” have created the ideological climate and political conditions for the right-wing terror. This is directly linked to the return of German great-power politics and a frenzied program of military rearmament, which is being massively promoted by the grand coalition of the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats …

To implement this policy, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and other extreme right-wing forces have been systematically promoted by the ruling elite. The AfD functions as the political wing of right-wing terrorism. The security apparatus, which is riddled with right-wing networks, is its state wing, and the grand coalition government is its protective umbrella and enabler.

The only way to stop right-wing terror is to mobilise the working class based on an international socialist programme.

Despite its deep political differences with the Left Party, the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei calls for the defence of Janine Wissler and active political opposition to the attacks against her. It is high time to stop the conspiracy between the grand coalition, the state apparatus and the extreme right. No return of Germany to aggressive great-power politics! For a socialist programme against fascism and war!