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Nigerian women raped by army, Amnesty says


This Amnesty International video says about itself:

Nigeria: ‘They betrayed us’

24 May 2018

These brave women are taking on the Nigerian government by asking for justice for themselves and their families.

Thousands of women and girls who survived the brutal rule of the Boko Haram armed group have since been further abused by the Nigerian security forces who claim to be rescuing them.

Amnesty international’s latest report, “They betrayed us” reveals how the Nigerian military and Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian JTF) – a militia who work alongside them – have separated women from their husbands and confined them in remote “satellite camps” where they have been raped, sometimes in exchange for food. Amnesty International has collected evidence that thousands of people have starved to death in the camps in Borno state, north-east Nigeria, since 2015.

Nigeria: “They betrayed us”: Women who survived Boko Haram raped, starved and detained in Nigeria; Amnesty International report here.

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How Australian coral survives cold


This video is called Giant Cabbage Coral (Turbinaria reniformis).

From the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies in Australia:

How high-latitude corals cope with the cold

Corals growing in high-latitude reefs in Western Australia can regulate their internal chemistry to promote growth under cooler temperatures

May 22, 2018

Corals growing in high-latitude reefs in Western Australia can regulate their internal chemistry to promote growth under cooler temperatures, according to new research at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at The University of Western Australia.

The study, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that ocean warming may not necessarily promote faster rates of calcification in reefs where temperatures are currently cooler (lower than 18C).

Lead author Claire Ross said the study was carried out over two years in Western Australia’s Bremer Bay, 515km south-east of Perth in the Great Southern region. Bremer Bay is a renowned diving, snorkelling and tourism hot spot due to its stunning crystal clear waters, white sand and high marine biodiversity.

“For two years we used cutting-edge geochemical techniques to link the internal chemistry of the coral with how fast the corals were growing in a high-latitude reef”, Ms Ross said.

“These high-latitude reefs (above 28 degrees north and below 28 degrees south) have lower light and temperatures compared to the tropics and essentially provide natural laboratories for investigating the limits for coral growth.”

Ms Ross said the researchers expected the corals to grow slower during winter because the water was colder and light levels lower but they were surprised to find the opposite pattern.

“We were able to link the remarkable capacity for temperate corals to maintain high growth during winter to the regulation of their internal chemistry,” she said.

“We also found that there was more food in the water for corals during winter compared to summer, indicating that (in addition to internal chemical regulation) corals may feed more to sustain growth.”

Coral reefs are one of world’s most valuable natural resources, providing a habitat for many ocean species, shoreline protection from waves and storms, as well as being economically important for tourism and fisheries.

However, studies have shown that the important process by which corals build their skeletons is under threat due to CO2-driven climate change. The effects of climate change on coral reefs are likely to vary geographically, but relatively little is known about the growth rates of reefs outside of the tropics.

“Our study is unique because it is among the first to fully decipher the corals’ internal chemistry”, Ms Ross said. “The findings of this study help better understand and predict the future of high-latitude coral reefs under CO2-driven climate change.”

Acorn woodpeckers at Texas hummingbird feeder


This video from the USA says about itself:

Acorn Woodpeckers Visit West Texas Hummingbird Cam – May 23, 2018

Even though Acorn woodpeckers feed primarily on insects and acorns, you can see them at feeders like our hummingbird feeder. Like other woodpeckers, this species is known to feed opportunistically and will feed on fruit, sap, flower nectar, and sometimes even sugar-water intended for hummingbirds.

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

American football bosses ban players kneeling


This 23 May 2018 video from the USA is called NFL BANS Kneeling For The National Anthem.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

American football players are no longer allowed to kneel during the national anthem

American football teams can now count on a fine if their players protest during the American national anthem by kneeling or sitting down. This is evident from new rules of the American football competition NFL.

The new policy was made after more and more predominantly black players had protested in this way against police violence in the US and later against President Donald Trump, who on Twitter was fiercely opposed to the “disrespectful” football players.

The kneeling protest was initiated by quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the club San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and continued last season. It led to a national debate in the US about the right to protest.

Trump reacted fiercely to the protests a number of times. He blamed the players for a lack of patriotism and asked for the firing of “sons of bitches who disrespect the flag”, which caused the protests to flare up. In 2017, at least 200 players protested against him.

Many team owners were initially behind their players. But that changed when the players’ protest increasingly led to … declining sponsorship income. Together they have now made the new rules. …

According to the new rules, which have been drawn up without consulting the NFLPA players’ association, it becomes compulsory to stand as the national anthem plays, but players may remain in the changing room. The latter was not the case before. …

The NFLPA says it studies the new rules yet announces already they are likely to appeal.

Kaepernick still has no club. After leaving San Francisco 49ers he had hoped for a new challenge, but no club would have him. According to the protest pioneer, and he is not alone in that, that has to do with his activism and not with his qualities as an athlete.

HARD YARDS The NFL reportedly considered a 15-yard penalty for players who choose to kneel during the national anthem. [HuffPost]

The National Football League announced on Wednesday a new policy which forbids players from engaging in on-field protests and requires all players present on the field to stand for the national anthem. Any team whose players violate this rule will face being fined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The new policy also encourages individual teams to create their own policies to punish players who engage in on-field protests: here.

Cretaceous reptile-like mammal discovery in Utah, USA


Cifelliodon wahkarmoosuch reconstruction. Illustration by Jorge A. Gonzalez

From the University of Southern California in the USA:

Utah fossil reveals global exodus of mammals’ near relatives to major continents

A small fossil is evidence that Earth’s ancient supercontinent, Pangea, separated some 15 million years later than previously believed

May 23, 2018

A nearly 130-million-year-old fossilized skull found in Utah is an Earth-shattering discovery in one respect.

The small fossil is evidence that the super-continental split likely occurred more recently than scientists previously thought and that a group of reptile-like mammals that bridge the reptile and mammal transition experienced an unsuspected burst of evolution across several continents.

“Based on the unlikely discovery of this near-complete fossil cranium, we now recognize a new, cosmopolitan group of early mammal relatives”, said Adam Huttenlocker, lead author of the study and assistant professor of clinical integrative anatomical sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

The study, published in the journal Nature on May 16, updates the understanding of how mammals evolved and dispersed across major continents during the age of dinosaurs. It suggests that the divide of the ancient landmass Pangea continued for about 15 million years later than previously thought and that mammal migration and that of their close relatives continued during the Early Cretaceous (145 to 101 million years ago).

“For a long time, we thought early mammals from the Cretaceous (145 to 66 million years ago) were anatomically similar and not ecologically diverse”, Huttenlocker said. “This finding by our team and others reinforce that, even before the rise of modern mammals, ancient relatives of mammals were exploring specialty niches: insectivores, herbivores, carnivores, swimmers, gliders. Basically, they were occupying a variety of niches that we see them occupy today.”

The study reveals that the early mammal precursors migrated from Asia to Europe, into North America and further onto major Southern continents, said Zhe-Xi Luo, senior author of the study and a paleontologist at the University of Chicago.

Fossil find: a new species

Huttenlocker and his collaborators at the Utah Geological Survey and The University of Chicago named the new species Cifelliodon wahkarmoosuch.

Found in the Cretaceous beds in eastern Utah, the fossil is named in honor of famed paleontologist Richard Cifelli. The species name, “wahkarmoosuch” means “yellow cat” in the Ute tribe‘s language in respect of the area where it was found.

Scientists used high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scanners to analyze the skull.

“The skull of Cifelliodon is an extremely rare find in a vast fossil-bearing region of the Western Interior, where the more than 150 species of mammals and reptile-like mammal precursors are represented mostly by isolated teeth and jaws”, said James Kirkland, study co-author in charge of the excavation and a Utah State paleontologist.

With an estimated body weight of up to 2.5 pounds, Cifelliodon would seem small compared to many living mammals, but it was a giant among its Cretaceous contemporaries. A full-grown Cifelliodon was probably about the size of a small hare or pika (small mammal with rounded ears, short limbs and a very small tail).

It had teeth similar to fruit-eating bats and could nip, shear and crush. It might have incorporated plants into its diet.

The newly named species had a relatively small brain and giant “olfactory bulbs” to process sense of smell. The skull had tiny eye sockets, so the animal probably did not have good eyesight or color vision. It possibly was nocturnal and depended on sense of smell to root out food, Huttenlocker said.

Supercontinent existed longer than previously thought

Huttenlocker and his colleagues placed Cifelliodon within a group called Haramiyida, an extinct branch of mammal ancestors related to true mammals. The fossil was the first of its particular subgroup — Hahnodontidae — found in North America.

The fossil discovery emphasizes that haramiyidans and some other vertebrate groups existed globally during the Jurassic-Cretaceous transition, meaning the corridors for migration via Pangean landmasses remained intact into the Early Cretaceous.

Most of the Jurassic and Cretaceous fossils of haramiyidans are from the Triassic and Jurassic of Europe, Greenland and Asia. Hahnodontidae was previously known only from the Cretaceous of Northern Africa. It is to this group that Huttenlocker argues Cifelliodon belongs, providing evidence of migration routes between the continents that are now separated in northern and southern hemispheres.

“But it’s not just this group of haramiyidans”, Huttenlocker said. “The connection we discovered mirrors others recognized as recently as this year based on similar Cretaceous dinosaur fossils found in Africa and Europe.”

See also here.