American crocodiles, new research

This 21 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Dave and Jeremy get you up close to the American Crocodile in the Florida Everglades. It is the only other crocodilian native to the U.S. and the southern tip of Florida is the only place to find them here. This episode is sure to have a lot of bite!

From the University of Bristol in Germany:

Genetic differences between global American Crocodile populations identified in DNA analysis

July 13, 2020

A genetic analysis of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) has re-established our understanding of its population structure, aiding its conservation. The collaborative study spanning seven countries and led by the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Bristol researchers is published in PLOS ONE.

The American crocodile is widespread across the American continent (from South Florida to Venezuela, across the Greater Antilles, and from Mexico to Ecuador). Successful due to its ability to thrive within brackish and saltwater environments. Efforts to conserve the crocodile species have existed since 1975 when their status was set to vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list. However, although conservation efforts have been put in place, the American crocodile faces further threats including habitat degradation due to coastal development.

Replenishing these populations requires understanding of population structures through genetic analysis, which can elaborate on the evolution of the species’ distribution. Gaining more understanding on how a species has come to be distributed so widely and how populations can differentiate genetically, can inform regions how best to manage their populations.

The study reflected a regional collaborative effort, where DNA sampling occurred across seven countries including Venezuela, Jamaica and Cuba. There has been ongoing discussion on how these regional populations of C.acutus are similar. However, the study’s results found that populations in Northern, Central and Southern America’s and Great Antilles differed genetically. There were similarities found between Costa Rica and Jamaican populations. In Venezuela, they identified three new haplotypes, which are closely related genes that help scientists identify an origin of distribution.

Researchers believe that the mating with different species could have contributed to this distribution, also known as hybridisation. Crocodiles hybridise easily, contributing to their ability to survive since the prehistoric era. Additionally, in Florida genetic analysis showed there had been a case of unintentional translocation, where the species had been moved from a different location over time. This had been flagged by previous research, where crocodiles with haplotypes from Central and South America had been transported to Florida, most likely for the pet trade, and later escaped or released into the wild by owners.

By identifying these differences between regional populations of C. acutus, conservation efforts can establish population clusters which consider the populations as independent management units that may have different needs and focuses.

Natalia Rossi, Country Manager of the Cuba Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society and the study’s co-author explains some of the challenges around taking samples from large crocodiles: “Our study involved several research teams across multiple sites and countries and often in difficult field conditions. For four years between May to July the team would record, mark and sample crocodile hatchings, and juvenile and adult crocodiles in Cuba‘s Birama Swamp, one of the study sites. It was not unusual for us to have to spend hours in the mangrove lakes waiting for one to appear, and when a crocodile was spotted the whole team would have to enter the water to help net it. While both exciting and rewarding work, it is also dangerous as the crocodiles are powerful and it involves lots of team co-ordination and trust to secure the crocodile to enable us to take samples.”

The study was ambitious and could not have been achieved without its global collaboration and efforts from its long list of authors. In particular, the late John Thorbjarnarson and Rafael Crespo, who dedicated their lives to this research.

British government complicit in Bahrain atrocities

This 13 July 2020 video says about itself:

Death sentences for two Bahraini activists Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa have been upheld by the kingdom’s highest court.

Rights groups say the two men were convicted of a 2014 bombing of a police convey based on confessions gained by torture.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain today:

Government silent as execution looms for tortured pro-democracy campaigners in Bahrain

BAHRAIN’S highest court upheld death sentences against two tortured pro-democracy protesters today after the British government refused to intervene in their cases.

Mohamed Ramadhan and Hussain Moosa, who were both tortured by security services and convicted on the basis of forced “confessions,” could now be executed at any time, warns human rights organisation Reprieve.

Director Maya Foa said that Britain must “loudly and publicly intervene” by calling for the sentences to be commuted.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, branded the court’s ruling “yet another dark stain in the struggle for human rights in Bahrain.”

He added: “This horrendous injustice could not have happened without the tacit acceptance of Bahrain’s Western allies.”

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen called on the British government to “denounce this court decision in the strongest possible terms” as there was “clear evidence of brutal torture” to force “confessions.”

The Court of Cassation’s verdict was announced by the Bahraini Public Prosecutor’s Office on Instagram and Twitter.

Last week, British ministers repeatedly declined to make public representations to Bahrain, a former British protectorate with which it has a close relationship.

Labour is now calling on Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to urgently address the situation in the Commons on Tuesday.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said: “In a case where the UK is clearly able to exert influence, the government must not remain silent.

“The torture of Mohamed Ramadhan and Hussain Moosa was horrific and clear evidence presented that their confessions [were] coerced.

“The UK government cannot claim to be standing up for pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong but fail to apply the same principles to Bahrain.

“Last week, ministers acknowledged the ‘close and important’ relationship between the UK and Bahrain. The Foreign Secretary must come to the House of Commons [on Tuesday] and assure MPs that we will not be bystanders when we have the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to defending human rights.”

Last week, ministers insisted that they would only intervene after the court had made a decision.

This was despite demands from thousands of members of the public, MPs and peers of all parties for action before the court’s likely decision to uphold the death sentences was announced.

On Thursday, Liverpool Riverside Labour MP Kim Johnson urged the government to make “effective representations” in the cases before the court published its verdict.

Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly replied: “I assure her that if the death penalties are upheld through the Court of Cassation process, the UK will publicly and loudly remind Bahrain of our opposition to the death penalty, and we will continue to seek to have it set aside.”

Since 2012, Britain has provided £6.5 million of technical assistance to Bahrain, including training Bahrain’s Prisons Ombudsman and its Special Investigations Unit (SIU), two institutions which failed to properly investigate the torture of Mr Ramadhan and Mr Moosa.

The two men were granted a case review and their original death sentences were overturned after they made credible claims that they had been tortured.

But in January, the high court reimposed their death sentences, stating that the SIU investigation had shown that Mr Moosa’s confession, implicating Mr Ramadhan, had not been obtained through torture and could be relied upon.

An assessment by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims concluded that the SIU investigation “fails to meet the minimum professional standards and minimum international legal standards to which the kingdom of Bahrain is subject.”

It raised additional concerns that the SIU is neither independent nor impartial and found that the January court judgement was “critically flawed.”

Coronavirus worsening in Trump’s USA

This 13 July 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Florida has reported a record single-day rise in coronavirus cases for a US state, with 15,299 new infections in a day.

The state lifted restrictions in May and has just a href=””>reopened <Disney World despite soaring cases of infection.

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane reports from Maryland, US.

If Florida would be an independent country, then it would be fourth country in the world worst hit by COVID-19, surpassed only by (the rest of) Donald Trump’s USA, Bolsonaro‘s Brazil and Modi’s India.

FLORIDA SHATTERS GRIM RECORD… Florida has shattered the national record for the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases as the U.S. struggles with the world’s worst outbreak. Democratic officials called for Houston to lock down again as deaths rise in the South and West. Stay informed with our live updates here. [HuffPost]

Arizona and Texas officials order morgue trucks.

…WHILE NYC REPORTS SOME GOOD NEWS New York City recorded no new deaths from coronavirus in a 24-hour period for the first time since March 13. Lawmakers hailed the milestone but warned the pandemic wasn’t over. “New Yorkers have been the hero of this story, going above and beyond to keep each other safe,” a City Hall spokesperson said. [HuffPost]

DEVOS: CDC GUIDELINES ‘FLEXIBLE’ Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended her boss’ threat to withhold funds from schools that refuse to reopen amid the pandemic. She refused to say whether her department would follow federal safety health guidelines for reopening, saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measures like hand washing and mask wearing “are not hard rules.” [HuffPost]

AMERICA ISN’T READY TO BRING BACK SPORTS Professional sports leagues have spent months crafting plans to resume or begin their seasons, but now they’re running up against the reality of America’s failed response to the virus. With millions of dollars at stake, public health experts and players are asking whether sports leagues should be trying to return at all. [HuffPost]

SURGEON GENERAL ON THE DEFENSE U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tried to walk back his past advice to the public not to wear face masks as the pandemic took off. He likened it to absurd health remedies from the past, like how “once upon a time, we prescribed cigarettes for asthmatics.” Meanwhile, the White House has stepped up attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, who continues raising alarm about rising U.S. infections. [HuffPost]

Lioness corners leopard

This 27 June 2020 video from Kenya says about itself:

A young leopard, the son of a famous leopard named Fig, was cornered by a lioness from an unknown pride. The leopard managed to get away with its life when the lion got bored with messing with it.

Filmed with Gamewatchers safaris India and Porini camps.

COVID-19 disaster in Trump’s USA gets worse

This 11 July 2020 video about the USA says about itself:

Texas Man’s Last Words after a Covid Party: “I think I made a mistake. I thought it was a hoax

There is news out of San Antonio Texas of a 30-year-old man passing away after attending a COVID party where a positive person was testing to see if the illness was real. Many people attended, but this 30-year-old ended up in the Methodist Hospital in San Antonio where he said the following according to Dr. Jane Appleby: “I think I made a mistake. I thought it was a hoax but it’s not“.

This is awful, and while the instinct may be to fully blame this man, we have to remember that they were likely inundated in a culture of conservative misinformation and disinformation about things like social distancing and wearing masks. The ultimate blame lies with right-wing media and politicians who treated scientific fact as a conspiracy theory and led to a covid party death.

Florida sees one-day high of 15,300 COVID-19 cases as pandemic inundates health care infrastructure. By Benjamin Mateus, 13 July 2020. The world has passed 13 million new cases of COVID-19, taking less than five days for an additional million cases.

US ruling class demands deadly reopening of schools. 13 July 2020. The escalating campaign to reopen US schools in the fall, under conditions of an explosive spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, is a key element of a conscious, bipartisan policy that will lead to countless preventable deaths: here.

Georgia Tech faculty, students and parents express opposition to school reopening. By Kranti Kumara, 13 July 2020. The university reopening plans in Georgia come in the context of the Trump administration’s reactionary push for the reopening of industries and businesses

“I hate going into that hell hole”. Ford workers in Louisville denounce unsafe conditions as opposition grows to COVID-19 spread in auto plants. By Tim Rivers, 12 July 2020, Ford Louisville Assembly workers denounced the blatant disregard of health and safety by management.

US Catholic Church received at least $1.4 billion through “small business” loan program. By Jacob Crosse, 13 July 2020. Special provisions in the CARES Act, as well as executive exceptions, allowed the largest religious organization in the world to receive government funds.

Ramonas, Charlie Harper live music video

This 30 November 2017 music video from England says about itself:

The Ramonas – Tearaway featuring Charlie Harper (live in Lewes)

The Ramonas play covers of their inspiration, the Ramones, but they play their own songs as well. Here, with Charlie Harper on harmonica.

Charlie Harper is the singer and founder of the UK Subs, one of the first British punk bands. Started in 1976 and still playing.

Before playing punk rock, Charlie Harper played pub rock, basically 1960s United States style rhythm and blues covers. That Charlie plays harmonica in this video is a nod to his early 1970s past, as the harmonica is more a rhythm and blues than a punk rock instrument.

Some people in what became 999 and Joe Strummer made similar moves toward punk rock then. When Strummer saw the Sex Pistols playing as support band for his pub rock band, he changed direction and founded the Clash.

Black Lives Matter, also in England

People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, England, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis

This photo shows people taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Brighton, England, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 12 July 2020:

Thousands march in Brighton Black Lives Matter protest

THOUSANDS of people marched through Brighton on Saturday shouting “black lives matter every day” after a video showing a man pinned to the ground by police officers circulated online last week.

Around 5,000 protesters marched along the seafront towards the city centre carrying placards reading “the UK is not innocent” and “decolonise everything”.

It follows outrage over a video circulated on Tuesday showing a man shouting “I can’t breathe” as he’s restrained on the ground by three officers in Brighton.

This 9 July 2020 video, by the British Conservative Daily Telegraph, says about itself:

I can’t breathe‘ UK police restraint referred to watchdog

A police force is reviewing whether footage of its officers restraining a man who repeatedly shouts “I can’t breathe” needs to be investigated.

In a video circulating on social media, a man is lying on the ground, restrained by three officers, on a hill behind a police car in Brighton.

USA: VIDEO SHOWS PENNSYLVANIA COP USING KNEE ON MAN’S NECK Protesters are demanding the suspension of officers seen in a video restraining a man by placing a knee on his neck in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The department released its use of force policy earlier this month, five weeks after a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for several minutes. [AP]