This video says about itself:
Honduran Women Organize to Demand Legal Abortion
25 May 2016
This video says about itself:
25 May 2016
Modern humans often regard Neanderthals as dim-witted, sluggish sorts, but, once again, evidence to the contrary has emerged. It turns out they were likely behind the building of a number of accomplished yet perplexing stone circles found inside France’s Bruniquel Cave decades ago, reports The Atlantic. A recently published study about the site reveals those structures date back about 175,000 years.
That places their making firmly in the time of the Neanderthal, notes National Geographic. According to Discovery News, a team led by French archaeologist Jacques Jaubert, a professor at the University of Bordeaux, also found evidence of fire, another indication of builders’ skills and resourcefulness. One probable reason for the use of fire is that it was used as a light source. Beyond that, why the blazes were started remains unknown. Given the great number of mysteries about the site that remain, researchers are eager to launch the next phase of exploration – digging into the ground below.
Early Neanderthal constructions deep in Bruniquel Cave in southwestern France
25 May 2016
Very little is known about Neanderthal cultures1, particularly early ones. Other than lithic implements and exceptional bone tools2, very few artefacts have been preserved. While those that do remain include red and black pigments3 and burial sites4, these indications of modernity are extremely sparse and few have been precisely dated, thus greatly limiting our knowledge of these predecessors of modern humans5.
Here we report the dating of annular constructions made of broken stalagmites found deep in Bruniquel Cave in southwest France. The regular geometry of the stalagmite circles, the arrangement of broken stalagmites and several traces of fire demonstrate the anthropogenic origin of these constructions.
Uranium-series dating of stalagmite regrowths on the structures and on burnt bone, combined with the dating of stalagmite tips in the structures, give a reliable and replicated age of 176.5 thousand years (±2.1 thousand years), making these edifices among the oldest known well-dated constructions made by humans. Their presence at 336 metres from the entrance of the cave indicates that humans from this period had already mastered the underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human modernity.
Extremely rare ‘Species X’ rediscovered in Brazil after 75 year disappearance
By Shaun Hurrell, 23 May 2016
The blue eyes of an extremely rare bird hadn’t been seen for nearly a century. In one of the most extraordinary stories in Brazilian conservation, a group of researchers have announced the comeback of the Blue-eyed Ground-dove. Last documented in 1941, it was believed extinct. But now the species has been found at top-secret locations in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. However researchers can only confirm sightings of 12 individuals, so securing its habitat will be the key to conserving this elusive bird.
Imagine the buzz in the crowd last weekend at the Brazilian Birdwatching Festival when ornithologist Rafael Bessa unveiled his rediscovery. The highly-anticipated talk was named ‘Species X’ and for the first time in history, this bird’s song was played to the public. Previously known from a handful of stuffed and ageing museum specimens and some more recent unsubstantiated reports, Bessa brought the Blue-eyed Ground Dove Columbina cyanopis back to life.
“When he played the video there was a commotion in the crowd and non-stop applause,” said Pedro Develey, SAVE Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil). “It was pure emotion.”
For the last few months the group of researchers – supported by SAVE Brasil, Rainforest Trust, and Butantan Bird Observatory – have been working in secret to scientifically report the rediscovery, and to simultaneously develop a conservation plan that secures the Critically Endangered bird’s long-term survival.
Describing the rediscovery, Bessa told Estadão:
“I returned to the place and I could recreate this vocalization with my microphone. I reproduced the sound and the bird landed on a flowering bush, coming towards me. I photographed the animal, and when I looked at the picture carefully, I saw that I had recorded something unusual. My legs started shaking.”
The Blue-eyed Ground-Dove occurs exclusively in Brazil and is threatened by the destruction of the Brazilian Cerrado, a savannah-like habitat. The jubilation of rediscovery quickly turned to sobering thoughts of acting fast to save the 12-or-more birds.
“We are now worried about the conservation of the species”, explained Rafael Bessa. “We are working on several fronts to build this plan. The main action is to ensure that the area where it was found becomes a protected area, which would benefit not only the Blue-eyed Ground-Dove, but many other threatened species occurring there.”
With cobalt-blue eyes and dark blue spots on its wings that standout against its overall reddish-chestnut plumage, it’s hard to believe such an eye-catching bird went unnoticed for so long. But rapid rates of habitat loss in the region mean that many more species could be heading to extinction unseen.
“Increasing the knowledge on Brazilian biodiversity is the first step to ensure its conservation“, said Luciano Lima, Instituto Butantan. “And, by doing so, we contribute to a better quality of life and health for all species, including our own.”
Right after first spotting the bird, in July 2015, the ornithologist Rafael Bessa contacted Lima, from Instituto Butantan. With the support from the Institute and SAVE Brasil, they started studying the species. A research group was formed also including ornithologists Wagner Nogueira, Marco Rego and Glaucia Del Rio, the latter two from Louisiana State University (USA).
The exact location where the species was found, nor the bird’s song, will not be released by the researchers, until they conclude the conservation plan and the proposed measures may be enabled.
Within the conservation plan, the researchers are undertaking studies on the biology of the species, especially on behavior, breeding biology and feeding. They are also venturing to places with geographic and environmental features similar to the site of the original rediscovery, aiming to find additional populations. The search areas are identified through satellite imagery as well as a technique called Ecological Niche Modelling: based on several environmental features of the sites where the species occur, specific software uses mathematical models to predict areas potentially suitable to the species.
“So far we have visited many areas in three states, but the species was located only in two sites close together, both in the state of Minas Gerais, which reinforces the need for urgent action to guarantee its survival”, warned the ornithologist Wagner Nogueira.
The Blue-eyed Ground-dove seems to have a specific habitat that could be as Critically Endangered as the bird itself. Let the orange-red of the birds feathers be a colour warning to potential new infrastructure projects in the region – even a small project could wipe out this entire species.
Now brought to life publically again, only time will tell how SAVE Brasil and the research team can help further the life of this species.
This video shows a Rhopalus subrufus bug.
Compsidolon salicellum was found in a forest; a first for all Wadden Sea islands.
Finding Rhopalus subrufus was also a first for the Wadden islands.
This video, recorded off Florida in the USA, says about itself:
Aquarius Reef Base (HD) | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD
20 May 2016
Jonathan visits Aquarius Reef Base–the world’s only undersea lab where scientists live in saturation for days or weeks at a time, studying the ocean. It’s an amazing combination of science fiction and undersea adventure!
This January 2016 video from the USA is called Should You Be Worried About The Zika Virus?
By Kate Randall in the USA:
A pittance for Zika, $600 billion for the Pentagon
20 May 2016
As the Zika virus threatens a worldwide epidemic, and large areas of the United States are poised to be hit, the US Congress has yet to pass a bill authorizing the large sums needed to fight the virus and the diseases caused by it.
As the virus continues to spread, however, the US House voted on Wednesday to approve a $602 billion defense policy bill for the fiscal year beginning October to fund the US military. The bill must be reconciled with a version the Senate is expected to consider by the end of May.
Several months ago, the Obama administration requested $1.9 billion to combat Zika, a figure far below what is needed. The House on Wednesday passed a bill to provide $622 million (about one one-thousandth of the military budget) to control Zika, and requires that the funds be fully offset by cuts to other spending, particularly the Affordable Care Act.
The Senate voted on Thursday to pass its $1.1 billion version and proposed to add the cost to the deficit. President Obama has pledged to veto the House bill and has yet to comment on the Senate version.
All of these funding proposals are woefully inadequate to fight the threat of Zika in the US. They express the opposition of the entire political establishment to any serious steps against a virus that overwhelmingly affects the poor and vulnerable. The priority of the ruling class and its political representatives is not the protection and wellbeing of the vast majority of Americans, but funding the gigantic US military apparatus that is deployed throughout the world to prop up dictatorships and to maim and kill civilians.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) confirmed in March that there was sufficient evidence to establish that the Zika virus causes microcephaly, a devastating defect in which infants are born with smaller than normal heads as their brains fail to properly develop. Zika is also thought to cause Guillain–Barré syndrome and other autoimmune conditions that are potentially fatal.
Contraction of Zika is more common in areas that lack sanitation and garbage collection, and have pools of standing water where the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito species that carry the virus can breed. Homes without window screens and bed netting are also at risk. The virus can also be sexually transmitted.
The Pan American Health Organization reported the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil in 2015. About one million cases of Zika infection are now reported in Brazil, which is in the midst of a devastating economic crisis. The number of babies suspected and confirmed to have Zika-induced microcephaly is in the area of 5,000. The epicenter of the Zika crisis is in the country’s Northeast, where 35 million people have no running water and over 100 million lack access to sewage systems.
The CDC has reported mosquito-borne transmission of the Zika virus in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa. Puerto Rico is reporting about 100 confirmed cases per week, and 945 infections since the island’s outbreak began last year, 65 of them pregnant women. Last Friday, the US territory’s health department reported the first fetus to develop microcephaly, which was not carried to term.
Puerto Rico defaulted on $347 million of its debt payments on May 2. Last year, the government cut $250 million in appropriations for public health, resulting in the closure of hospitals and health care centers and job losses for thousands of public employees. The default will further curb efforts to fight the spread of Zika.
The virus will undoubtedly move north, beginning with the US South. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) looked at 50 US cities where the Aedes and related mosquito species are known to exist. NCAR assessed cities for Zika risk due to temperature, proximity to airports and overall socioeconomic conditions.
NCAR created a map showing potential areas for significant breeding of the Aedes mosquitos throughout the country. Five Florida cities have been identified as high-risk, and cities in Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama also have high-risk cities. Many of these areas have low access to air conditioning and windows with effective screens and greater difficulty accessing clean water.
Moderate risk for Zika has been identified in cities as far north as New York City, and as far west as Oklahoma City.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told ABC News that that there is a “narrow window of opportunity” to tackle the growing Zika threat. “This is an unprecedented problem,” he warned. “We’ve never had a situation before where a single mosquito bite could lead to a devastating fetal malformation.”
Politicians in Washington, however, are unmoved by the potential social catastrophe. The Obama administration’s efforts related to Zika include incentives for the drug companies, offering them expedited approval of new drugs in return for ramping up their research to develop a vaccine to protect against the virus. The pharmaceuticals have previously balked at doing such research, as it is not likely to bring in big profits.
The Zika virus and its horrifying effects, particularly on infants, are born of poverty and social inequality. They can be fought only on the basis of an internationally coordinated campaign, providing the resources to not only rapidly develop and distribute vaccines to fight it, but to eradicate the conditions of poverty and oppression that cause them to spread.
There are more than enough resources to be used to combat Zika and other modern-day plagues, but their utilization is blocked by the capitalist system, which subordinates all such concerns to the profits of a tiny financial oligarchy and its agenda of war abroad and social counterrevolution at home.
‘WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING ZIKA’ A look at Congress’s inability to properly fund a Zika response as the U.S. local transmission threat grows with the climbing temperatures. [Michael McAuliff, HuffPost]
Zika strain that causes microcephaly found in Africa for the first time, WHO confirms. Expert warns an outbreak of the Asian Zika virus in Africa could be ‘a bigger disaster than in South America’: here.