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Wasps killing cockroaches 25 million years ago


This 2011 video is about the ensign wasp Evania appendigaster.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Salute the venerable ensign wasp, killing cockroaches for 25 million years

September 28, 2020

An Oregon State University study has identified four new species of parasitic, cockroach-killing ensign wasps that became encased in tree resin 25 million years ago and were preserved as the resin fossilized into amber.

“Some species of ensign wasps have even been used to control cockroaches in buildings,” OSU researcher George Poinar Jr. said. “The wasps sometimes are called the harbingers of cockroaches — if you see ensign wasps you know there are at least a few cockroaches around. Our study shows these wasps were around some 20 or 30 million years ago, with probably the same behavioral patterns regarding cockroaches.”

Ensign wasps, of the Hymenoptera order and scientifically known as Evaniidae, earned their common name because their abdomen resembles a flag; an ensign is a large flag on a ship, usually flown at the stern or rear of the vessel, that indicates the ship’s nationality.

“As the wasps move about, their ‘ensign’ is constantly moving up and down as if they are flag-waving,” said Poinar, professor emeritus in the OSU College of Science and an international expert in using plant and animal life forms trapped in amber to learn more about the biology and ecology of the distant past.

About 400 species of ensign wasps exist today, distributed across 20 genera. The wasps live everywhere except polar regions. They typically measure 5 to 7 millimeters in length and don’t sting or bite but are lethal for unhatched cockroaches.

A female ensign wasp will look for cockroach egg cases, known as ootheca, and lay an egg on or in one of the cockroach eggs inside the case. When the wasp egg hatches, the larva eats the cockroach egg where it was laid.

Successive instars of the larva then consume the other dozen or so eggs inside the cockroach egg case. Mature wasp larvae pupate within the cockroach egg case en route to coming out as adults, and no cockroach offspring emerge from an egg case infiltrated by an ensign wasp.

Analyzing Tertiary period specimens from Dominican amber, Poinar was able to describe three new species of ensign wasps: Evaniella setifera, Evaniella dominicana and Semaeomyia hispaniola. He described a fourth, Hyptia mexicana, from Mexican amber. The Tertiary period began 65 million years ago and lasted for more than 63 million years.

No cockroaches accompanied the wasps in the amber, but three flying termites were found along with an ensign wasp in one of the Dominican amber pieces. It’s likely the termites were sharing a nest with the cockroaches and this attracted the wasp, Poinar said.

Anti-racist demonstrators arrested in Portland, USA


This 27 July 2020 New York Times video from the USA says about itself:

How Federal Officers Escalated Violence in Portland | Visual Investigations

Peaceful protests were already happening for weeks when federal officers arrived on July 4. Our video shows how President Trump’s deployment ignited chaos.

By Ceren Sagir, 29 September 2020:

Protesters arrested hours after demonstration ended in Portland
PROTESTERS against police brutality were arrested in Portland, Oregon, in the United States on Sunday evening, hours after demonstrations ended with few reports of violence.

The protests, which began on Saturday night with hundreds of people gathering in a park near the Hatfield US courthouse, where there have been regular protests over the summer, were declared unlawful. A protester was seen burning a US flag.

Several arrests were made, though police did not immediately specify a number.

Video footage showed police grabbing a news photographer and pushing him to the ground as he was trying to document them tackling and detaining a demonstrator on a sidewalk.

Freelance photographer John Rudoff, who was wearing a helmet with a “press” sticker on, told local media later that he was “physically OK, but quite annoyed.”

Another online video showed an officer apparently deploying a chemical spray in the face of a man who was yelling at police and waving a sign at them.

Portland has seen protests almost nightly since the police killing of George Floyd in May.

Far-right demonstrators have also been mobilising in the city in counterprotests, several in military-style body armour, and in support of President Donald Trump and his “law and order” re-election campaign.

Police said that they were investigating an assault at the far-right protest on Saturday when one person documenting the event was pushed to the ground and kicked in the face.

North American marbled murrelets in trouble


This 20 April 2020 video says about itself:

In Search of an ENDANGERED Bird: Scouting Marbled Murrelet Training Sites. Wildlife Biology VLOG

Despite the pandemic, the need to monitor endangered species continues. In this wildlife biology vlog, I share my journey scouting out new sites to safely train new marbled murrelet surveyors this coming field season. Murrelets are simply incredible animals, and seeing them again was a much-needed breath of life.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Warming ocean, old-forest loss put a squeeze on an elusive seabird

September 22, 2020

Squeezed by changing ocean conditions that limit their food options and the long-term loss of old forest needed for nesting, marbled murrelets would benefit most from conservation efforts that take both ocean and forest into account, new research by Oregon State University shows.

Published in Conservation Letters, the findings are based on two decades of murrelet surveys at nearly 20,000 sites in the Oregon Coast Range and illustrate how the elusive seabird is at risk of its habitat gradually shrinking to the point of local extinctions or worse.

“It turns out that the same ocean conditions that influence salmon returns, including the forage fish murrelets need to successfully nest, had a huge influence on the likelihood that murrelets will come inland to breed,” said lead author Matt Betts, a researcher in the Oregon State College of Forestry and the director of the OSU-based Forest Biodiversity Research Network. “Given that these prey items tend to be in lower abundance when ocean temperatures are high, changing climate conditions could reduce prey availability as well as the tendency for murrelets to nest in the future.”

Marbled murrelets are closely related to puffins and murres, but unlike those birds, murrelets raise their young as much as 60 miles inland in mature forests. Disturbance in either the ocean or forest environment has the potential to impact murrelet populations.

“There aren’t many species like it,” said study co-author and project director Jim Rivers, also a faculty member in the College of Forestry. “There’s no other bird that feeds in the ocean and commutes such long distances inland to nest sites. That’s really unusual.”

The dove-sized bird spends most of its time in coastal waters eating krill, other invertebrates and forage fish such as herring, anchovies, smelt and capelin. Murrelets can only produce one offspring per year, if the nest is successful, and their young require forage fish for proper growth and development.

Murrelets generally nest in solitude, although multiple nests sometimes occur within a small area. They typically lay their single egg high in a tree on a horizontal limb at least 4 inches in diameter, with Steller’s jays, crows and ravens the main predators of murrelet nests.

“The end goal for these birds is to be very secretive and quiet so predators don’t find their nests and they can produce young,’ said Rivers.

Along the West Coast, marbled murrelets are found regularly from Santa Cruz, California, north to the Aleutian Islands. Their populations have been declining by about 4% a year in Washington, Oregon and California, and the species is listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in those states.

“Early on in our work, we noticed strong fluctuations in the numbers of marbled murrelets coming inland to nest, so this study was about trying to get to the bottom of those highs and lows,” Betts said. “We found the first evidence that ocean conditions combined with old-forest nesting habitat influence the murrelets’ long-term occupancy dynamics. In particular, we learned ocean conditions are a key driver of those dynamics.”

The finding has potential key implications for forest policy in Oregon, where any state-owned site that goes two consecutive years without murrelet detection is classified as unoccupied and thus available for timber harvest.

“Our data show that below-average ocean conditions might last for more than two successive years,” Rivers said. “That means there could be a scenario where sites on state lands that are suitable for breeding go unused for more than two years which, under current guidelines, would let them be considered available for harvest. Thus, murrelets might be missing from inland sites not because the forest is unsuitable for nesting, but because they have inadequate forage fish during the summer breeding season. That means it is critical that we consider factors that influence both marine food resources and terrestrial nesting habitat when considering how to recover murrelet populations.”

Betts was part of a research collaboration that published a 2019 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that showed that old forest is still declining across the Pacific Northwest 25 years into the Northwest Forest Plan, a 100-year federal road map to protect older forests.

“This is now less due to the saw and more due to fire,” he said. “That means that even with strong land conservation measures, climate could not only result in warmer ocean conditions but also greater fire frequency and extent, and therefore more old forest loss.”

Other Oregon State researchers contributing to the study were Kim Nelson and Dan Roby of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Jennifer Fisher of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies. Scientists from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, the University of Rhode Island and the U.S. Forest Service also took part.

The OSU College of Forestry and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture provided funding.

Is criticizing capitalism terrorist?


This 2018 video says about itself:

Here’s why capitalism SUCKS! — and why it needs to end!

Part 1 in a series on capitalism, exploring the foundation of capitalism and the mechanisms that place capital owners at the top – and workers at the bottom – of society. In this video, we trace the roots of capitalism all the way back to the decline of capitalism and look at some of the basic ways capitalists accumulate wealth and power at the expense of the working class.

This video is the sequel.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 27 September 2020:

Government guidance slammed for defining anti-capitalism as ‘extremist’

NEW Department for Education guidance on sex and relationships education has been called out for categorising anti-capitalism as an “extreme political stance” and equating it with opposition to freedom of speech, anti-semitism and endorsement of illegal activity.

The guidance tells English schools not to use resources from organisations which have expressed a desire to “overthrow” capitalism.

One teacher told the Morning Star: “I am worried that if this definition of extremist political positions is extended to other guidance, it will bar teachers from using resources from any organisation which has ever advocated an alternative to our current economic system.”

New song by The Damned, Manipulator


This punk rock music video from Britain says about itself:

Manipulator · The Damned

Manipulator

℗ A Spinefarm Records / Search And Destroy Records Recording; ℗ 2020 The Damned, under exclusive licence to Universal Music Operations Limited

Released on: 2020-09-18

Associated Performer, Vocals: David Vanian
Associated Performer, Guitar: Captain Sensible
Associated Performer, Keyboards: Monty Oxymoron
Associated Performer, Bass Guitar: Paul Gray
Associated Performer, Drums: Andrew Pinching
Producer, Studio Personnel, Recording Engineer: Tom Dalgety
Composer Lyricist: Paul Gray

Trump wants even more far-right Supreme Court


This 23 September 2020 United States TV video is called What Amy Coney Barrett said about filling a Supreme Court seat in an election year.

From UltraViolet in the USA today:

News just broke that Donald Trump is going to name Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.

We knew the pick would be bad. But this one is truly awful.

Preapproved by the far-right-wing Federalist Society, Barrett wants to dismantle, if not demolish, Roe v. Wade. She opposes birth control.1 She’s even ruled in favor of “separate but equal” accommodations on the basis of race.2

RBG hasn’t even been buried yet. We’re all still mourning her passing.3 But Trump is pushing forward with a stunningly hypocritical power grab just four years after Republicans blocked President Obama from filling a Supreme Court seat that came open in February of an election year. Let’s be clear, Barrett is a disaster for women’s rights and progress, and it’s an insult to the champion we had in RBG to confirm her to the Court.

Barrett would cement a 6–3 majority on the Court for decades, which would give them a generation or more to tear down RBG’s life’s work and take our nation backward. We can’t let that happen.

This is a five-alarm fire. Will you chip in $5 to help organize a massive outcry and stop Trump from replacing RBG with right-wing extremist Amy Coney Barrett?

Mere hours after learning of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Mitch McConnell promised a vote on Trump’s nominee. It’s no surprise from the man who stole a Supreme Court seat from Barack Obama in 2016.

If McConnell and Trump have their way, a conservative majority deeply out of step with the American people could rule for decades, eliminating the right to choose, climate pollution rules, the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, and civil rights. . . the list is long and horrifying. Women will be especially affected, particularly women of color and transwomen. Our literal lives are on the lines.

Most alarming: Trump said earlier this week that he wants his appointee confirmed before Nov. 3 so they could rule him the winner of the election, no matter what the voters say.4 …

–Shaunna, KaeLyn, Kathy, Melody, Lindsay, Sonja, Kimberly, Maria, Katie, Iris, KD, and Elisa, the UltraViolet team

Sources:

1. Planned Parenthood Condemns Amy Coney Barrett Nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Planned Parenthood, October 31, 2017

2. Profile of a potential nominee: Amy Coney Barrett, SCOTUSblog, September 21, 2020

3. All the Details on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Funeral, Town & Country, September 25, 2020

4. Trump says he wants a conservative majority on the Supreme Court in case of an Election Day dispute. The New York Times, September 23, 2020

Why tarantula spiders are blue or green


This video is called Greenbottle Blue and Sazimai’s Blue Tarantula Comparison.

By Yale-NUS College in the USA:

Scientists discover why tarantulas come in vivid blues and greens

September 24, 2020

Summary: Researchers find support for new hypotheses: that tarantulas‘ vibrant blue colors may be used to communicate between potential mates, while green coloration confers the ability to conceal among foliage. Their research also suggests that tarantulas are not as color-blind as previously believed, and that these arachnids may be able to perceive the bright blue tones on their bodies.

Why are some tarantulas so vividly coloured? Scientists have puzzled over why these large, hairy spiders, active primarily during the evening and at night-time, would sport such vibrant blue and green colouration — especially as they were long thought to be unable to differentiate between colours, let alone possess true colour vision.

In a recent study, researchers from Yale-NUS College and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) find support for new hypotheses: that these vibrant blue colours may be used to communicate between potential mates, while green colouration confers the ability to conceal among foliage. Their research also suggests that tarantulas are not as colour-blind as previously believed, and that these arachnids may be able to perceive the bright blue tones on their bodies. The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on 23 September, and is featured on the front cover of the current (30 September 2020) issue.

The research was jointly led by Dr Saoirse Foley from CMU, and Dr Vinod Kumar Saranathan, in collaboration with Dr William Piel, both from the Division of Science at Yale-NUS College. To understand the evolutionary basis of tarantula colouration, they surveyed the bodily expression of various opsins (light-sensitive proteins usually found in animal eyes) in tarantulas. They found, contrary to current assumptions, that most tarantulas have nearly an entire complement of opsins that are normally expressed in day-active spiders with good colour vision, such as the Peacock Spider.

These findings suggest that tarantulas, long thought to be colour-blind, can perceive the bright blue colours of other tarantulas. Using comparative phylogenetic analyses, the team reconstructed the colours of 110 million-year-old tarantula ancestors and found that they were most likely blue. They further found that blue colouration does not correlate with the ability to urticate or stridulate — both common defence mechanisms — suggesting that it did not evolve as a means of deterring predators, but might instead be a means of attracting potential mates.

The team also found that the evolution of green colouration appears to depend on whether the species in question is arboreal (tree-dwelling), suggesting that this colour likely functions in camouflage.

“While the precise function of blueness remains unclear, our results suggest that tarantulas may be able to see these blue displays, so mate choice is a likely potential explanation. We have set an impetus for future projects to include a behavioural element to fully explore these hypotheses, and it is very exciting to consider how further studies will build upon our results,” said Dr Foley.

The team’s survey of the presence of blue and green colouration across tarantulas turned up more interesting results. They found that the blue colouration has been lost more frequently than it is gained across tarantulas. The losses are mainly in species living in the Americas and Oceania, while many of the gains are in the Old World (European, Asian, and African) species. They also found that green colouration has evolved only a few times, but never lost.

“Our finding that blueness was lost multiple times in the New World, while regained in the Old, is very intriguing. This leaves several fascinating avenues for future research, when considering how the ecological pressures in the New and the Old Worlds vary,” said Dr Saranathan. “For instance, one hypothesis would be differences in the light environments of the habitats between the New and the Old World, which can affect how these colours might be perceived, if indeed they can be, as our results suggest.”

Greek students strike against schools coronavirus danger


Greek school students march with a banner stating: ‘Masks are not the only protection – give money for education’

From daily News Line in Britain, 26 September 2020:

SEVERAL hundreds of secondary schools throughout Greece remain shut as school students refused to attend classes considering the Covid-19 government guidelines to be ineffective.

Last Thursday in Athens, over 2,000 school students, along with delegations from university students’ unions, marched to the Vouli (Greek parliament) shouting ‘money for health and education, that’s what could protect us from the pandemic’ and ‘masks are not enough’. Marchers demanded the resignation of the Education Ministry.

The march took place as Covid-19 cases and deaths have more than trebled this month as compared to spring, with Athens hardest hit.

The government have imposed draconian rules, prohibiting meetings of more than nine persons, either indoors or outdoors. Over summer, the government voted in a reactionary Bill restricting marches and demonstrations.

But Greek riot police stayed away from the school students’ march.

Greek hospital doctors were also on the march last Thursday in a mass protest meeting at the Health Ministry building as part of their 24-hour national strike demanding the employment of doctors and staff at state hospitals and mass free Covid-19 tests for all.

But a OENGE (hospital doctors federation) spokesperson announced that Health Ministry officials had told their delegation that no government cash is available for hospitals.

At the port of Piraeus, seafarers on ferries staged a solid 100% 24-hour strike against the Greek government attack on wages and rights. Last June, the government annulled all collective agreements for freight ships and oil tankers.

Seafarers’ unions called the strike against this government action and in defence of their rights.

But the PNO (federation of seafarers trades unions) leaders have refused to call a national strike.

At a mass meeting in the Piraeus docks, the President of the PENEN (deck crews) trade union Antonis Dalakogeorgos called for the unification of all the different protests and for the creation of a ‘common centre of struggle’ to fight the government.

The GSEE (Greek TUC) leaders have obeyed the EU and bosses’ diktats and have refused to even call a protest march.

Delakogeorgos stopped short of calling for a new leadership in the trade union and labour movement to organise the overthrow of the current right-wing government.

More restrictive lockdown set for Israel as coronavirus cases soar.