First ever landing on dark side of moon

This 2 January 2019 video says about itself:

First Photos: China Lands Probe on Dark Side of the Moon

China successfully landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon Thursday, becoming the first country to ever land on the side of the moon that faces away from Earth.

CHINA LANDS ON THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON China became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the country’s state-run media announced, a milestone that solidifies Beijing’s ambitions to become a world leader in space exploration. [HuffPost]

China’s landing of a scientific probe on the far side of the Moon has led to a rash of media speculation, in the US in particular, about a new international space race amid heightened tensions between the two countries over economic issues, including trade, and a massive American military build-up in Asia against China: here.

Seeds on board China’s Chang’e-4 mission have sprouted, marking the first time any biological matter has grown on the moon.

Israel’s first moon mission lost moments before landing. The spacecraft’s engine cut out just before it was to touch down in the Sea of Serenity. By Maria Temming, 5:06pm, April 11, 2019.


Dinosaur discoveries in Yunnan, China

This 30 November 2018 video says about itself:

This Chinese Region is a Treasure Trove of Dinosaur Discoveries

Yunnan province in China is a haven for dinosaur remains – especially the Lufeng area. To date, it has yielded 76 complete specimens of Lufengosaurus – a plant-eating dinosaur from the Jurassic era.

Chinese abandoned village reclaimed by nature

This 9 November 2018 video says about itself:

The Abandoned Chinese Village that Nature Reclaimed

A deserted Chinese village called Houtouwan becomes completely overrun by vegetation, an urban world overrun by nature. The effect is so surreal that tourists from all over China stop by for a look.

Chinese monkeys win Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018

Chinese monkeys, photo by Marsel van Oosten

This photo by Marsel van Oosten from the Netherlands is the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 competition.

It shows two golden snub-nosed monkeys, a male (in front) and a female, in a forest in the Qinling mountains in China.

Trump, Pence anti-China warmongering

This video from the USA says about itself:

17 September 2018

Trump went after China, AGAIN! Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

US vice president issues bellicose diatribe against China

5 October 2018

US Vice President Mike Pence delivered a blistering diatribe against China Thursday designed to ratchet up already intense economic and military tensions that have produced a growing trade war and increasingly dangerous confrontations between US and Chinese forces in the South China Sea.

The speech came amid reports that the Pentagon is preparing to launch a massive and provocative series of military exercises centered in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait next month as a direct challenge to China.

CNN quoted military sources as saying that the Pentagon was planning a “global show of force as a warning to China and to demonstrate the US is prepared to deter and counter their military actions.”

An unprecedented concentration of US military forces would be deployed in back-to-back exercises staged over the course of one week, the CNN report states. US warships and combat planes, as well as ground troops, would be mobilized for the operation.

While military officials acknowledged that Beijing sees even far smaller exercises in the region as provocations and that there are “concerns about reactions from China”, the Pentagon has “no intention to engage in combat with the Chinese.”

Of course, such a statement of purported intent is itself an acknowledgement that US imperialism is risking just that: a military confrontation between two major nuclear-armed powers.

China’s state-owned tabloid Global Times issued an ominous response to the report of the planned exercises: “As the US continues to provoke, it will face stronger reactions from the PLA [People’s Liberation Army], and the warships of the two sides will be drawn closer in the situation of confrontation. If that happens, China-US strategic relations and peace in the Asia-Pacific will be in the hands of pilots, ship commanders, and even chief engineers. Peace and stability could be on the edge of collapse at some point. If Washington wants to play this way, China will have to respond accordingly.”

Pence’s speech served to provide a reactionary and duplicitous justification for Washington’s plans for military escalation.

Expanding on the provocative allegation made by US President Donald Trump at the United Nations Security Council last week that Beijing was interfering in the US midterm elections, Pence claimed that China is “pursuing a comprehensive and coordinated campaign to undermine support for the President, our agenda, and our nation’s most cherished ideals.”

He delivered the speech to a right-wing Washington, DC think tank, the Hudson Institute. Founded by former Rand Corporation strategist Herman Kahn, known for his advocacy of a “winnable” nuclear war and reputedly the real-life inspiration for film character Dr. Strangelove, the institute has long advocated an aggressive military posture toward China.

Mixing together crude anticommunism, economic nationalism and outright military threats, Pence’s speech resembled nothing so much as the kind of tirades delivered by the McCarthyite Republican right at the height of the Cold War.

Charging China with military “aggression”, Pence cited an incident last Sunday in which the USS Decatur, a guided missile destroyer, deliberately sailed within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-claimed territory in the South China Sea as part of a so-called “freedom of navigation” operation. It was confronted by a Chinese destroyer, with the two vessels coming within 45 feet of each other.

“Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand”, Pence declared. “We will not be intimidated; we will not stand down.” Indeed, as the CNN report indicates, Washington is preparing far more massive and dangerous provocations.

“China now spends as much on its military as the rest of Asia combined, and Beijing has prioritized capabilities to erode America’s military advantages—on land, at sea, in the air, and in space”, Pence said.

Of course, the American vice president neglected to mention that Beijing’s military spending amounts to barely a third of the amount allocated by Washington.

“China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential election”, Pence said. “To put it bluntly, President Trump’s leadership is working, and China wants a different American president. China is meddling in America’s democracy.”

“To that end, Beijing has mobilized covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets to shift Americans’ perception of Chinese policies”, the vice-president added.

The attempts by Pence to substantiate these charges alternated between ludicrous and sinister. Exhibit A was a four-page paid supplement taken out by the Chinese government—and identified as such—in the Des Moines Register, described by the vice president as “the paper of record in the home state of our Ambassador to China, and a pivotal state in 2018.” While consisting largely of innocuous articles on “Xi’s fun days in Iowa” and Kung Fu, the supplement included a single piece suggesting that the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and the threat to double them will damage the economic interests of people in both countries.

Cited by Pence as a measure of menacing Chinese influence was the digital altering of an abysmal 2012 remake of the equally mindless and reactionary 1984 potboiler “Red Dawn” to change the villains invading America into North Koreans rather than Chinese, thereby making the film marketable in China.

Pence also, however, targeted the more than 300,000 Chinese students studying in the US and Chinese student organizations as potential “fronts” to be countered as Washington puts the US on a war footing against China and its threat to US economic dominance.

The threats and bullying were peppered with hypocritical expressions of concern for human rights in China and charges that the ruling Chinese Communist Party is carrying out a virtual pogrom against Christians, “tearing down crosses” and “burning Bibles.”

He demanded that Google immediately halt the development of its “Dragonfly” search engine for the Chinese market on the grounds that it would facilitate “censorship and compromise the privacy” of users, ignoring the fact that the US government is engaged in precisely such efforts—with the full complicity of Google and other technology companies.

Pence claimed that an unnamed “senior career member of our intelligence community” had told him that “what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across the country.”

The remark was interpreted by some sections of the media as an attempt by the Trump administration to deflect from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian “meddling” in the US election and possible complicity on the part of the Trump campaign.

The US ruling establishment has been torn since the 2016 election by a bitter conflict between those layers, centered around the Democratic Party and influential sections of the US intelligence apparatus, that have insisted that Washington direct its main fire against Russia in the struggle for predominance in the Middle East and the broader Eurasian landmass, and those demanding that China, US imperialism’s principal economic rival, be the main target.

Significantly, Pence framed his remarks from the outset within the parameters of the “National Security Strategy” document unveiled by the Trump administration last December that made “great power competition” and countering so-called “revisionist states”, i.e., Russia and China, the new axis of US global strategy, supplanting the so-called “war on terror”.

He boasted of the Pentagon’s $716 billion budget, declaring: “We’re modernizing our nuclear arsenal, we’re fielding and developing new cutting-edge fighters and bombers, we’re building a new generation of aircraft carriers and warships, and we’re investing as never before in our Armed Forces. This includes initiating the process to establish the United States Space Force to ensure our continued dominance in space …”

Pence’s speech and the revelation that the Pentagon is preparing an unprecedented set of provocative military maneuvers off China’s coast follows by just days the statement by Washington’s ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, that the US is prepared to “take out” Russian missiles, raising the specter of a preemptive strike that could trigger an all-out nuclear war.

Underlying Washington’s pursuit of trade war and its growing threat of direct military confrontation with the world’s other two major nuclear powers, Russia and China, is an increasingly desperate bid by US imperialism to reverse its protracted economic decline from its former position of global dominance.

The recklessness and bullying of Trump and Pence are merely a political expression of this immensely dangerous and destabilizing factor in world affairs, which can be successfully countered only by means of the international mobilization of the working class against war and its root cause, the outmoded capitalist system.

‘NO CHINESE ELECTION MEDDLING’ Facebook and Twitter say they’ve detected no Chinese meddling in the 2018 elections, casting doubt on claims by Trump that the Asian nation is trying to interfere. [Bloomberg]

Evidence has come to light that US operations against the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and the arrest and detention of one of its top executives, Meng Wanzhou, to face criminal charges of fraud brought by the US Justice Department are the outcome of a coordinated campaign by the intelligence agencies of the so-called “Five Eyes” network: here.

Recent visits by US Seventh Fleet vessels to Sri Lanka’s eastern port of Trincomalee make clear that the island nation is rapidly being integrated into Washington’s war preparations against China. The Seventh Fleet, which is headquartered in Japan, is an offensive formation geared for war and includes 60–70 ships, 300 aircraft and more than 40,000 combat personnel: here.

US “Worldwide Threat Assessment” takes aim at China: here.

New York Times exposé on Trump fortune: An empire built on tax evasion and fraud. “Behind every great fortune there is a great crime” – Honoré de Balzac: here.

VP’S WIFE TAKES JOB AT ANTI-GAY SCHOOL Vice President Mike Pence’s wife started at a job this week teaching art at Immanuel Christian School in Northern Virginia, which refuses admission to students who participate in or condone homosexual activity. [HuffPost]

Sleeping baby panda discovery in Chinese nature reserve

This 29 September 2018 video says about itself:

Why this sleeping wild baby panda in China is a really big deal

Rangers in the Dafengding Nature Reserve in southwest China’s Sichuan province recently came across a sleeping wild panda cub, the first time a cub has been discovered in the wild since the reserve was established 40 years ago.

Vaccination helps against bird flu, don’t kill birds

This July 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

Despite some disagreement about whether to approve and deploy a vaccine against H5N2 bird flu, the latest iteration of such a drug appears to be remarkably effective.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the House Agriculture Committee that researchers had developed a vaccine that was 100 percent effective against H5N2 in chickens, with testing in turkeys currently ongoing, reports CBS News. If approved, the vaccine could be produced and rapidly used in the event of further outbreak.

From this blog, 20 December 2014:

But now also a chicken business in Ter Aar [in the Netherlands] turns out to be infected [by bird flu]. Again, tens of thousands of chickens will be killed. Is that really the best way to fight the disease?

Just this week it was announced that vaccination is possible. Dutch researchers are the first scientists who have succeeded in developing a vaccine that can be administered on a large scale. One of the researchers, Professor of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmaceutics Erik Frijlink, explains that vaccination is a better way to prevent outbreaks of bird flu.

The vaccine has been developed on the basis of H5N1, but the technique is also applicable for H5N8, the ‘Hekendorp‘ virus.

The image shows a graphical abstract: H7N9 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses emerged in China in 2017, prompting vaccination in poultry. Shi et al. examine H7N9 viruses across China before and after vaccination, revealing rapid evolution into subtypes and genotypes. Although vaccination reduced infections, some H7N9 and H7N2 viruses exhibit heightened virulence and expansion to ducks. Credit: Chen et al. / Cell Host & Microbe 2018

From ScienceDaily:

New bird flu viruses in ducks after vaccines largely prevented H7N9 in chickens

September 27, 2018

In response to bird flu pandemics starting in 2013, officials in China introduced a new vaccine for chickens in September 2017. Recent findings suggest that the vaccine largely worked but detected two new genetic variations of the H7N9 and H7N2 subtypes in unvaccinated ducks. These findings will be published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe on September 27.

“It surprised me that the novel, highly pathogenic subtypes had been generated in and adapted so well to ducks, because the original highly pathogenic form of H7N9 has very limited capacity to replicate in ducks,” says Hualan Chen, a senior author on the paper and an animal virologist at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute.

Chen’s team collected over 37,928 chickens and 15,956 duck genetic samples 8 months before and 5 months after the vaccine’s introduction. They isolated 304 H7N9 viruses before the vaccine’s release, and only 17 H7N9 viruses and one H7N2 virus after.

“Our data show that vaccination of chickens successfully prevented the spread of the H7N9 virus in China,” says Chen. “The fact that human infection has not been detected since February 2018 indicates that consumers of poultry have also been well-protected from H7N9 infection.”

The bird flu virus replicates in host cells and often mutates and reassorts over time. When Chen’s team looked closely at the genetic types of the disease-causing strains in ducks, they found that an H7N2 and an H7N9 virus had picked up certain gene segments from other duck influenza viruses, improving their ability to infect ducks.

“Influenza viruses mutate as long as they replicate, but it’s very difficult to predict when the H7N9 virus will obtain a particular harmful mutation,” says Chen. “It is possible that the virus may adapt in other species in the future if it cannot be eliminated soon.”

China produces roughly three billion ducks per year, which is not to the scale of chicken production. To prevent further human infection, Chen and her team believe that the virus should be eliminated in ducks as soon as possible.

“Fortunately, our study indicates that the current vaccine will work well in ducks, so we do not need to develop a new one,” says Chen. “We suggest applying the H7 vaccine in ducks immediately.”