Coronavirus in Donald Trump’s USA

This 6 Augustus 2020 video says about itself:

Millions in US face eviction amid COVID-19 crisis

Millions of people who rent their homes in the United States are facing eviction amid the coronavirus pandemic.

By some estimates, 40 million people could lose their homes, affecting poverty rates, homelessness and the wider economy.

Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher reports from Miami in the US.

The first data on kids, COVID-19 and race are here, and it’s not good.

GEORGIA SCHOOLS REOPEN TO PACKED HALLWAYS AND STUDENTS WITH COVID-19 Reopened schools in Georgia’s Paulding and Cherokee counties drew negative attention this week after viral photographs appeared to show students packing hallways with little regard for social distancing or mask-wearing. The most prominent images were taken on Tuesday by a 10th grader in North Paulding High School. Prior to schools reopening on Monday, North Paulding High School’s principal Gabe Carmona sent a letter to parents alerting them that members of the football team had contracted COVID-19, not specifying the numbers or the severity of their cases. [HuffPost]

FAUCI HIRES SECURITY TO PROTECT DAUGHTERS Dr. Anthony Fauci said he’s had to hire security guards to protect himself and his family after receiving death threats from people who object to his work on the coronavirus pandemic and the science behind regulations. During a livestreamed talk with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosted by Harvard’s School of Public Health, the infectious disease expert said he was taken aback by the harassment he and his family have received in the last few months. [HuffPost]

First major college football team cancels season due to coronavirus.

TENNESSEE JUSTICE: VOTERS CAN’T REQUEST MAIL-IN BALLOTS DUE TO COVID FEARS Tennessee’s Supreme Court overturned the option for all eligible voters to cast their ballots by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a 4-1 decision, the state’s high court said voters’ fears of COVID-19 could not be cited as a reason to request an absentee ballot after a judge said in June all of Tennessee’s 4.1 million registered voters should be given the option to vote by mail. Meanwhile in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an executive order restoring the right to vote to many state residents with felony convictions. [HuffPost]

FOX NEWS DOCTOR BOASTS THAT TRUMP IS ‘COGNITIVELY ADVANCED’ The Fox News doctor who once said the “worst-case scenario” for the coronavirus was that it “could be the flu” is now boasting of Trump’s cognitive skills. Dr. Marc Siegel said Trump is “very cognitively advanced,” a conclusion he reached because he spent an hour with the president during an interview last month. That was the infamous interview in which Trump bragged of acing a cognitive test in part by remembering “person, woman, man, camera, TV” in order, a feat he claimed wowed his doctors. [HuffPost]

Spacecraft discovers new emperor penguin colonies

This 5 August 2020 video says about itself:

Satellites find new colonies of Emperor penguins

Satellites have discovered 11 previously unknown emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica. WION’s Palki Sharma tells you why this is a major discovery.

At the beginning of the video, also Adelie penguins.

From the British Antarctic Survey:

Scientists discover new penguin colonies from space

August 4, 2020

A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there are nearly 20% more emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica than was previously thought. The results provide an important benchmark for monitoring the impact of environmental change on the population of this iconic bird.

Reporting this week in the journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, the authors describe how they used images from the European Commission’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite mission to locate the birds. They found 11 new colonies, three of which were previously identified but never confirmed. That takes the global census to 61 colonies around the continent.

Emperor penguins need sea ice to breed and are located in areas that are very difficult to study because they are remote and often inaccessible with temperatures as low as 50°C (58 degrees Fahrenheit). For the last 10 years, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists have been looking for new colonies by searching for their guano stains on the ice.

Lead author Dr Peter Fretwell, a geographer at BAS says:

“This is an exciting discovery. The new satellite images of Antarctica’s coastline have enabled us to find these new colonies. And whilst this is good news, the colonies are small and so only take the overall population count up by 5-10% to just over half a million penguins or around 265,500 — 278,500 breeding pairs.”

Emperor penguins are known to be vulnerable to loss of sea ice, their favoured breeding habitat. With current projections of climate change, this habitat is likely to decline. Most of the newly found colonies are situated at the margins of the emperors’ breeding range. Therefore, these locations are likely to be lost as the climate warms.

Dr Phil Trathan, Head of Conservation Biology at BAS, has been studying penguins for the last three decades. He says:

“Whilst it’s good news that we’ve found these new colonies, the breeding sites are all in locations where recent model projections suggest emperors will decline. Birds in these sites are therefore probably the ‘canaries in the coalmine’ — we need to watch these sites carefully as climate change will affect this region.”

The study found a number of colonies located far offshore, situated on sea ice that has formed around icebergs that had grounded in shallow water. These colonies, up to 180 km offshore, are a surprising new finding in the behaviour of this increasingly well-known species.

The research was funded by UKRI-NERC as part of the Wildlife from Space project.

Peace, not another Hiroshima

This 2015 video says is called Hiroshima atomic bomb: Survivor recalls horrors – BBC News.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain, 6 August 2020:

75 years after Hiroshima, campaigners call for peace and disarmament

CALLS for the British government to abolish its obscene arsenal of nuclear weapons will intensify today as the world marks Hiroshima Day — 75 years since US forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city, killing 140,000 people.

The calls come amid progress on the criminalisation of nuclear weapons by the United Nations, where three more countries have voted to ratify the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The treaty needs 50 countries to ratify it, at which point it would become international law — though the pact is binding only on those countries which are party to it.

By last month, 40 countries had signed, with Sudan, Fiji and Botswana being the most recent signatories.

Britain, the United States and other nuclear powers have refused to sign and did not attend the 2017 session of the UN general assembly which voted for the treaty.

The abolition calls also come against the background of intensifying belligerence and military threats from United States President Donald Trump.

Campaigners against nuclear weapons said the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was bombed three days later, remain relevant today in a world where nuclear bomb stockpiles cast the shadow of potential global obliteration.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament secretary Kate Hudson said: “We are facing an increasingly dangerous military situation driven most alarmingly by Trump’s policies.

His withdrawal from key treaties, the possibility of the resumption of nuclear testing, all increase the risk of nuclear war.

“Of course, we understand the context for this: the US is a declining power economically and seeks to assert itself militarily.

“This has been the case for some time — noticeable under the Bush administration, which sought to compel non-compliant states to bend to the US will.

“Trump’s drive to war is far more dangerous. The US National Security Strategy focuses on what it describes as strategic rivals or competitors, notably China and Russia. Its goal is to be able to defeat them militarily, to prepare for war on a massive scale.”

She said that “so-called usable nuclear weapons” have been deployed.

“Taking these two strategies together, it is clear that there is a significant danger of a US war on China and that opposing this is a fundamental task for the movement today,” she said.

“This is a conflict where nuclear weapons will be used and we need to work with all our strength to prevent such a war.”

She said the world today is “closer to tragedy” than it has ever been.

“On this anniversary, we must recommit to working together, in unity, to ensure that those hands never reach midnight.”

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings: “We must never forget these atrocities, and we must never give up on the mission to rid our world of nuclear weapons.”

Stop the War Campaign convenor Lindsey German said: “For my generation, Hiroshima meant that there could never be another major war without the destruction of all humanity.

“We still see this terrible barbarism everywhere today. The major states are nuclear-armed and there is the ever-present threat of conflict, now growing between the US and China in particular.

“Today, August 6, we should redouble our efforts to oppose war and all nuclear weapons.”

CND Cymru chairwoman Jill Evans said: “People in Wales and internationally are marking this anniversary by joining the many events online.

“We cannot hold our planned event at the National Eisteddfod, but we can still raise our voices to call on governments to act. I urge everyone to take some time this week to listen to the powerful testimony of nuclear survivors.”

How Nato promotes its nuclear agenda. The supposed ‘defensive alliance’ is anything but – as RAE STREET reminds us.

See also here.

Sea angels, sharks or rays?

This April 2020 video from California in the USA is called Angel Shark Quest | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD.

From the University of Vienna in Austria:

Between shark and ray: The evolutionary advantage of the sea angels

Threatened with extinction despite perfect adaptation

August 4, 2020

Summary: Angel sharks are sharks, but with their peculiarly flat body they rather resemble rays. An international research team has now investigated the origin of this body shape. The results illustrate how these sharks evolved into highly specialized, exclusively bottom-dwelling ambush predators and thus also contribute to a better understanding of their threat from environmental changes

The general picture of a shark is that of a fast and large ocean predator. Some species, however, question this image — for example angel sharks. They have adapted to a life on the bottom of the oceans, where they lie in wait for their prey. In order to be able to hide on or in the sediment, the body of angel sharks became flattened in the course of their evolution, making them very similar to rays, which are closely related to sharks.

Flattened body as indication for a successful lifestyle

The oldest known complete fossils of angel sharks are about 160 million years old and demonstrate that the flattened body was established early in their evolution. This also indicates that these extinct angel sharks already had a similar lifestyle as their extant relatives — and that this lifestyle obviously was very successful.

Angel sharks are found all over the world today, ranging from temperate to tropical seas, but most of these species are threatened. In order to understand the patterns and processes that led to their present low diversity and the possible consequences of their particular anatomy, the team has studied the body shapes of angel sharks since their origins using modern methods.

Today’s species are very similar

For this purpose, the skulls of extinct species from the late Jurassic period (about 160 million years ago) and of present-day species were quantitatively analysed using X-ray and CT images and prepared skulls employing geometric-morphometric approaches. In doing so, the evolution of body shapes could be explained comparatively, independent of body size.

The results show that early angel sharks were different in their external shape, whereas modern species show a comparably lower variation in shape. “Many of the living species are difficult to identify on the basis of their skeletal anatomy and shape, which could be problematic for species recognition,” explains Faviel A. López-Romero.

Angel sharks are well adapted, but react slowly to environmental changes

It has been shown that in living species the individual parts of the skull skeleton are more closely integrated than in their extinct relatives. This led to a reduced variability in appearance during the evolution of angel sharks. “The effect of integrating different parts of the skull into individual, highly interdependent modules can lead to a limited ability to evolve in different forms, but at the same time increases the ability to successfully adapt to specific environmental conditions,” explains Jürgen Kriwet.

In the case of the angel sharks, increasing geographical isolation resulted in the development of different species with very similar adaptations. “But modular integration also means that such animals are no longer able to react quickly to environmental changes, which increases their risk of extinction,” concludes Jürgen Kriwet.