Dutch neo-nazi terrorists arrested


This 2019 video is called Netherlands: ‘Nijmegen against racism’ demo held against neo-Nazi RVF.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio, 30 October 1980:

The police arrested two 19-year-old men from Amsterdam and Zwijndrecht for right-wing extremist incitement and crimes with a terrorist aim. The two had large amounts of Nazi material at home, searches revealed.

These are two separate cases, the Public Prosecution Service writes in a press release. Both suspects had eg, Nazi uniforms, posters, flags and illegal knives in their parents’ homes.

The suspects are probably affiliated with right-wing extremist groups that incite racial hatred and anti-Semitism online. One of those groups is The Base, a network mainly active in the USA.

Elections and COVID-19 in Donald Trump’s USA


This 30 October 2020 video says about itself:

As tens of millions of US voters cast their ballots early, former criminals are struggling to get their voices heard.

In Florida, ex-inmates are allowed to vote but only if they have paid off court fines and fees, which many cannot afford to do.

Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher reports from Miami.

MINNEAPOLIS POLICE UNION RECRUITS EX COPS AS ‘POLL CHALLENGERS’ The Minneapolis police union is facing a warning after recruiting retired cops to work as “poll challengers” in a “problem” area of the city at the request of an attorney for Trump’s reelection campaign. “Targeting anyone for a challenge based on being in a so-called ‘problem area’ is unlawful and will not be permitted in Minnesota’s polling places,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steven Simon said. State law guarantees voters the right to a peaceful polling place free of harassment or intrusion, he added. [HuffPost]

TRUMP’S BEST LIE MAY HAVE LOST ITS PUNCH Trump’s most frequent and most effective lie — that he built “the greatest economy in history” — appears to be losing its punch at the worst possible time for him. Trump has never had overall favorability ratings in his entire three years and nine months in office, but for most of that time has enjoyed the perception that he was doing a good job handling the economy. Now, with his election for a second term only days away, just about as many Americans think he is doing a bad job. [HuffPost]

EXTREME ABORTION RESTRICTIONS ON THE BALLOT Voters in Louisiana and Colorado are casting their ballots on two extreme anti-abortion measures that could have devastating effects on people seeking abortions and reproductive health care. In Colorado, Proposition 115 would ban abortion after 22 weeks with almost no exceptions. In Louisiana, Amendment 1 would ban abortion completely with no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. Both ballot initiatives use intentionally vague language to mislead voters, abortion rights activists in each state told HuffPost. [HuffPost]

I broke up with my boyfriend because he refused to wear a mask.

How fish became amphibians, new research


This 2018 video says about itself:

385 million years ago, a group of fish would undertake one of the most important journeys in the history of life and become the first vertebrates to live on dry ground. But first, they had to acquire the ability to breathe air.

Thanks to Ceri Thomas for the Ichthyostega reconstruction.

From Uppsala University in Sweden:

Large tides may have driven evolution of fish towards life on land

October 27, 2020

Big tidal ranges some 400 million years ago may have initiated the evolution of bony fish and land vertebrates. This theory is now supported by researchers in the UK and at Uppsala University who, for the first time, have used established mathematical models to simulate tides on Earth during this period. The study has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

“During long periods of the Earth’s history, we’ve had small tidal ranges. But in the Late Silurian and Early Devonian, they seem to have been large in some parts of the world. These results appear highly robust, because even if we changed model variables such as ocean depth, we got the same patterns,” says Per Ahlberg, professor of evolutionary organismal biology at Uppsala University.

Between 420 and 380 million years ago (Ma) — that is, during the end of one geological period, the Silurian, and beginning of the next, the Devonian — Earth was a completely different world from now. Instead of today’s well-known continents there were other land masses, clustered in the Southern Hemisphere. Stretching across the South Pole was the huge continent of Gondwana. North of it was another big one known as Laurussia, and squeezed between the two were a few small continents. Other salient differences compared with now were that Earth’s day lasted only 21 hours, since our planet revolved faster on its own axis, and the Moon looked much larger because its orbit was closer to Earth.

Life on land had gradually begun to get established. But the vertebrates, then consisting only of various kinds of fish, were still to be found only in the oceans. Then, during the Devonian, immense diversification of fish took place. One group to emerge was the bony fish, which make up more than 95 per cent of all fish today but were also the ancestors of terrestrial vertebrates. The earliest bony fish were the first animals to evolve lungs. What set off the evolution of bony fish, and how some of them started to adapt to a life on land, has not been clarified. One theory is that it happened in tidal environments where, in some periods, fish had been isolated in pools as a result of particularly large tides. This challenging habitat may have driven the evolution of lungs and, later on, the transformation of fins into front and hind legs.

To test this tidal theory, researchers at Uppsala University, in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Oxford and (in Wales) Bangor, used an established mathematical model of the tidal system for the first time to simulate, in detail, the tides in the Late Silurian and Early Devonian. Data on the positions of the continents, the distance of the Moon, the duration of Earth’s day, our planet’s gravity and the physical properties of seawater were fed into the model. These simulations showed unequivocally that the period, just like that of the present day, was one when large tides occurred in some places. The small continent of South China on the Equator showed a difference of more than four metres in sea level between high and low tide. The existence of tides at the time has previously been verified through studies of geological strata, but determining the extent of the difference between low and high tide has not been feasible. To researchers this news has been interesting, since fossil finds indicate that it was specifically around South China that bony fish originated.

“Our results open the door to further and even more detailed tidal analyses of key episodes in Earth’s past. The method can be used to explore the possible role of tides in other evolutionary processes of vertebrate development. And perhaps, conversely, whether tides, with their influence on ocean dynamics, played a part in the big marine extinctions that have taken place again and again in Earth’s history,” Ahlberg says.

Happy Halloween everyone, with Siouxsie


As it will be Halloween tomorrow, 31 October, this music video.

It is the song Halloween, by Siouxsie and the Banshees, played live in Cologne in Germany in 1981.

During that 1981 tour, the Banshees also played that song at their 7 July open-air radio concert in Tiel, the Netherlands. A very special concert. Siouxsie said in this interview that it was the first time they had played in sunlight, not in a dark hall.

Siouxsie & The Banshees - Tiel, Nieuwe Kade 7-7-1981

This is a photo from a local 1981 newspaper showing that concert.

Good leopard news from China


This 2016 video says about itself:

First ever video footage of snow leopards and common leopards using the exact same location. Filmed in Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve, China.

Footage by Shan Shui Conservation Center, Panthera, Snow Leopard Trust, Government of Zadoi County, Qinghai, and SEE Foundation.

From the University of Copenhagen in Denmark:

Surprised researchers: Number of leopards in northern China on the rise

October 26, 2020

Most of the world’s leopards are endangered and generally, the number of these shy and stunning cats is decreasing. However, according to a recent study, leopard populations in northern China are on the mend.

Leopards are fascinating animals. In addition to being sublime hunters that will eat nearly anything and can survive in varied habitats from forests to deserts, they are able to withstand temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees Celsius during winter to plus 40 degrees in summer.

Despite their resilience, the majority of leopard species are endangered. Poaching and the clearing of forest habitat for human activities are among the reasons for their global decline.

But in northern China — and specifically upon the Loess Plateau — something fantastic is occurring.

Numbers of a leopard subspecies called the North Chinese leopard have increased according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen and their colleagues in Beijing.

“We were quite surprised that the number of leopards has increased, because their populations are declining in many other places. We knew that there were leopards in this area, but we had no idea how many,” says Bing Xie, a PhD student at UCPH’s Department of Biology and one of the researchers behind the study.

Together with researchers at Beijing Normal University, she covered 800 square kilometers of the Loess Plateau between 2016 and 2017.

The just-completed count reports that the number of leopards increased from 88 in 2016 to 110 in 2017 — a 25 percent increase. The researchers suspect that their numbers have continued to increase in the years since.

This is the first time that an estimate has been made for the status of local population in North Chinese leopards.

Five-year reforestation plan has worked

The reason for this spotted golden giant’s rebound likely reflects the 13’th five-year plan that the Chinese government, in consultation with a range of scientific researchers, implemented in 2015 to restore biodiversity in the area.

“About 20 years ago, much of the Loess Plateau’s forest habitat was transformed into agricultural land. Human activity scared away wild boars, toads, frogs and deer — making it impossible for leopards to find food. Now that much of the forest has been restored, prey have returned, along with the leopards,” explains Bing Xie, adding:

“Many locals had no idea there were leopards in the area, so they were wildly enthused and surprised. And, it was a success for the government, which had hoped for greater biodiversity in the area. Suddenly, they could ‘house’ these big cats on a far greater scale than they had dreamed of.”

Leopards are nearly invisible in nature

The research team deployed camera equipment to map how many leopards were in this area of northern China. But even though the footage captured more cats than expected on film, none of the researchers saw any of the big stealthy felines with their own eyes:

“Leopards are extremely shy of humans and sneak about silently. That’s why it’s not at all uncommon to study them for 10 years without physically observing one,” she explains.

Even though Bing Xie has never seen leopards in the wild, she will continue to fight for their survival.

“That 98 percent of leopard habitat has been lost over the years makes me so sad. I have a great love for these gorgeous cats and I will continue to research on how best to protect them,” she concludes.