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Blogging on animals, peace and war, science, social justice, women's issues, arts, and much more

Piranhas in Brazil, video


This video says about itself:

Piranha Feeding Frenzy – Planet Earth – BBC Earth

24 March 2017

In the slow flowing waters of the Pantanal, over 300 species of fish can be found. Two common predators that patrol these immense wetlands of Brazil are the Red Bellied Piranha and the Dorado, known locally as the River Tiger.

Marine Le Pen’s party president, holocaust denier


This video about France says about itself:

On April 5, a court in Paris fined former National Front party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen €30,000 for calling the Nazi gas chambers a “detail” of World War II.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today, about France:

The interim president of the National Front, who replaced presidential candidate Marine Le Pen earlier this week, is already out because of previous statements about the Holocaust. Le Pen’s rival Macron reminded the French yesterday that Jean-François Jalkh in 2000 publicly doubted whether the Nazis really massacred Jews in gas chambers.

In the meantime, Jalkh has been replaced by Steeve Briois, mayor of Henin-Beaumont, the first municipality where the FN achieved an absolute majority. …

Le Pen has set aside the party presidency for a while to focus on her campaign in the run-up to May 7, the decisive round of the presidential elections.

Bullock’s oriole at Texas hummingbird webcam


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 April 2017

Another first-timer arrived on the West Texas Hummingbird cam this week when this Bullock’s Oriole displaced a Black-chinned Hummingbird for a short drink at the feeder. These flame-orange songbirds can be found in most of the western U.S. during the breeding season. Bullock’s Orioles eat insects and other arthropods, as well as fruit and nectar, and it’s not unusual for them to raid hummingbird feeders for their sugar-water.

Watch live at http://allaboutbirds.org/texashummers for more information about hummingbirds and highlights from the feeders.

Footballing refugees succesfull in Greece


This video says about itself:

(15 Feb 2017) A former Greece national football player is heading a project to help refugees stranded in Greece regain a sense of purpose.

The team that former goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis helped build is called “Hope” and made up of players who fled war zones like Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most players live in a large trailer park at Skaramagas, an industrial zone west of Athens, where metal containers are turned into shoebox-shaped homes.

They train during the week, and on Sundays play in an amateur league against teams made up of professional groups like lawyers, telecom workers, and accountants.

Football’s governing body in Europe, UEFA, sponsors the refugee team as well as Greek charity Organisation Earth, which spearheaded the idea for the team.

Nikopolidis, who was key to Greece’s stunning 2004 European Cup victory, says the team provides a distraction for team members who face an uncertain future in the European Union’s slow-moving relocation programme.

Football is the main source of entertainment for many of the 60,000-odd refugees in Greece, housed in army camps, abandoned factories and disused facilities of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Nearly 9,000 refugees have been moved from Greece to other European Union countries, but the EU says the speed of relocation is still just over half the target rate.

Several Hope players have been lost to the relocation scheme, but most are expecting a long wait in Greece.

“I think the main thing is that we’ve created a group of friends, a family with bonds of friendship,” Nikopolidis said.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Footballing refugees win (almost) everything in Greece

Today, 07:08

“Run, run”, the players shout on the soccer field to a team-mate sprinting past the high fences. The training of the refugee team is about to begin, on the artificial grass field of Atromitos amateur club at Piraeus. “That’s Tufan, from Afghanistan. He’s always late,” says a laughing Syrian boy.

That is a well-known problem, assistant coach Abdullah Sulleman, who comes from the Iraqi city of Mosul, explains. Public transport is irregular from the refugee camp. By bus and metro it takes about an hour to get to the training site.

There in Skaramagas refugee camp all began last year. It is one of the largest camps in Greece, with more than 3000 people living in container houses. Many are waiting for a verdict on their asylum procedure, relocation to EU member states or family reunification.

That often long wait leads to boredom and frustration. Boys and young men tried to kill time with – of course – football.

“Then I thought why we do not make a team,” says Abdullah, who has done sports training in Iraq. “We started with a ball, without sportswear or soccer shoes. On a simple concrete ground.” …

By calls on Facebook, and after selections, eventually 25 players were selected, a trainer and doctor appointed and a technical manager. He is a well-known person: ex-keeper Antonis Nikopolidis from the Greek national team who became European champions in 2004. …

“We now have a team of players from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen and recently from Morocco and Tanzania. They play in an amateur competition, against, eg, company teams, and are doing very well.”

“We’ve only lost two times,”said 23-year-old Mohammad Omar Shurdji of Damascus proudly. “Winning more than twenty times,” adds Abdessadek Chahine, a tall Moroccan boy from Casablanca, who has lived for a year and a half in Greece. Who also plays at a Greek club. 25-year-old Mohamed Wael Sefi played at an Aleppo club before leaving his country. “Soccer is all, it’s my life,” he says.

What the young players of this team, most of them between the ages of 18 and 25, have in common is that they played competition in their homeland, some at high level. Their dream is to play at a European club.

507-million-year-old fossil arthropod discovery


This video from the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada says about itself:

4 July 2012

Associate Curator, Jean-Bernard Caron presents an overview of the fossil collection from the Burgess Shale, B.C., highlighting a number of specimens.

From the University of Toronto in Canada:

Paleontologists identify new 507-million-year-old sea creature with can opener-like pincers

Discovery points to origin of millipedes, crabs and insects among other species

April 26, 2017

Summary: Paleontologists have uncovered a new fossil species that sheds light on the origin of mandibulates, the most abundant and diverse group of organisms on Earth, to which belong familiar animals such as flies, ants, crayfish and centipedes. Named Tokummia katalepsis by the researchers, the creature documents for the first time the anatomy of early mandibulates, a sub-group of arthropods with specialized appendages known as mandibles, used to grasp, crush and cut their food.

Paleontologists at the University of Toronto (U of T) and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) have uncovered a new fossil species that sheds light on the origin of mandibulates, the most abundant and diverse group of organisms on Earth, to which belong familiar animals such as flies, ants, crayfish and centipedes. The finding was announced in a study published today in Nature.

The creature, named Tokummia katalepsis by the researchers, is a new and exceptionally well-preserved fossilized arthropod — a ubiquitous group of invertebrate animals with segmented limbs and hardened exoskeletons. Tokummia documents for the first time in detail the anatomy of early “mandibulates,” a hyperdiverse sub-group of arthropods which possess a pair of specialized appendages known as mandibles, used to grasp, crush and cut their food. Mandibulates include millions of species and represent one of the greatest evolutionary and ecological success stories of life on Earth.

“In spite of their colossal diversity today, the origin of mandibulates had largely remained a mystery,” said Cédric Aria, lead author of the study and recent graduate of the PhD program in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at U of T, now working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Nanjing Institute for Geology and Palaeontology, in China. “Before now we’ve had only sparse hints at what the first arthropods with mandibles could have looked like, and no idea of what could have been the other key characteristics that triggered the unrivaled diversification of that group.”

Tokummia lived in a tropical sea teeming with life and was among the largest Cambrian predators, exceeding 10 cm in length fully extended. An occasional swimmer, the researchers conclude its robust anterior legs made it a preferred bottom-dweller, as lobsters or mantis shrimps today. Specimens come from 507 million-year-old sedimentary rocks near Marble Canyon in Kootenay national park, British Columbia. Most specimens at the basis of this study were collected during extensive ROM-led fieldwork activities in 2014.

“This spectacular new predator, one of the largest and best preserved soft-bodied arthropods from Marble Canyon, joins the ranks of many unusual marine creatures that lived during the Cambrian Explosion, a period of rapid evolutionary change starting about half a billion years ago when most major animal groups first emerged in the fossil record,” said co-author Jean-Bernard Caron, senior curator of invertebrate paleontology at the ROM and an associate professor in the Departments of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Earth Sciences at U of T.

Analysis of several fossil specimens, following careful mechanical preparation and photographic work at the ROM, showed that Tokummia sported broad serrated mandibles as well as large but specialized anterior claws, called maxillipeds, which are typical features of modern mandibulates.

“The pincers of Tokummia are large, yet also delicate and complex, reminding us of the shape of a can opener, with their couple of terminal teeth on one claw, and the other claw being curved towards them,” said Aria. “But we think they might have been too fragile to be handling shelly animals, and might have been better adapted to the capture of sizable soft prey items, perhaps hiding away in mud. Once torn apart by the spiny limb bases under the trunk, the mandibles would have served as a revolutionary tool to cut the flesh into small, easily digestible pieces.”

The body of Tokummia is made of more than 50 small segments covered by a broad two-piece shell-like structure called a bivalved carapace. Importantly, the animal bears subdivided limb bases with tiny projections called endites, which can be found in the larvae of certain crustaceans and are now thought to have been critical innovations for the evolution of the various legs of mandibulates, and even for the mandibles themselves.

The many-segmented body is otherwise reminiscent of myriapods, a group that includes centipedes, millipedes, and their relatives. “Tokummia also lacks the typical second antenna found in crustaceans, which illustrates a very surprising convergence with such terrestrial mandibulates,” said Aria.

The study also resolves the affinities of other emblematic fossils from Canada’s Burgess Shale more than a hundred years after their discovery. “Our study suggests that a number of other Burgess Shale fossils such as Branchiocaris, Canadaspis and Odaraia form with Tokummia a group of crustacean-like arthropods that we can now place at the base of all mandibulates,” said Aria.

The animal was named after Tokumm Creek, which flows through Marble Canyon in northern Kootenay National Park, and the Greek for “seizing.” The Marble Canyon fossil deposit was first discovered in 2012 during prospection work led by the Royal Ontario Museum and is part of the Burgess Shale fossil deposit, which extends to the north into Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies. All specimens are held in the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum on behalf of Parks Canada.

The Burgess Shale fossil sites are located within Yoho and Kootenay national parks in British Columbia. The Burgess Shale was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Parks Canada is proud to protect these globally significant paleontological sites, and to work with leading scientific researchers to expand knowledge and understanding of this key period of earth history. New information from ongoing scientific research is continually incorporated into Parks Canada’s Burgess Shale education and interpretation programs, which include guided hikes to these outstanding fossil sites.

‘US, Turkish, Polish governments against free press’


This video from the USA says about itself:

UK: Journalism Helps Terrorism

20 August 2013

“David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, has threatened legal action against the British government after he was detained and searched at Heathrow airport over the weekend, his lawyers said Tuesday.

Miranda argues it was illegal for police to seize data from him and wants to ensure that they do not do anything with the material until a judge has heard his claim…But Britain’s Home Office on Tuesday defended Miranda’s detention, saying the government and police “have a duty to protect the public and our national security.” “If the police believe that an individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism, then they should act and the law provides them with a framework to do that,” it said…”.* The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

*Read more here from Laura Smith-Spark / CNN.com.

Freedom House is a pro-Establishment organisation in the USA, financed by the United States government. They usually attack governments which have conflicts with the United States government for real or imaginary violations of human rights. While rarely mentioning such violations in the USA itself, or by governments allied to it.

Now, however, reality has become so blatant that even Freedom House cannot completely neglect it any more.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

‘Worldwide creeping war against journalism

Today, 00:01

Press freedom is under pressure worldwide, research organizations Freedom House and Free Press Unlimited say. In a report, they write that journalists and media organizations have not had such a difficult time since 2003.

The two organizations each year map all kinds of forms of freedom. The researchers conclude that in 2016 press freedom in many countries has deteriorated. As examples, they name Poland, Turkey and the United States.

Governments in the NATO military alliance, all three of them. Like the British government.

“There has never been a president who has shown so much disdain for the press as Trump,” says the report. According to the organizations it is dangerous that the US in the field of press freedom no longer represents a model for other countries.

The USA was already no ‘model for other countries’ when journalists reporting on the protests against the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri were arrested and persecuted for journalism. Long before Trump became president, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras was already harassed and arrested for making films.

In Poland, the situation has worsened most: that country dropped six places in the ranking.