Kemp’s ridley turtles beaching in Massachusetts, USA

This 6 December 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Rescue, Cape Cod, MA

I visited a few friends who volunteer saving Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles (and others) on the shore of Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts. Every November, migrant turtles get caught in the bay as they travel South. As the water cools, they become cold-stunned and wash ashore. They need human intervention to rescue them.

Volunteers scour the beaches and get the sea turtles to an aquarium that nurses them back to health and eventually releases them. It’s GREAT work!

90% of the turtles that wash up on Cape Cod are Kemp’s Ridley… the most critically endangered sea turtle in the world. Every single turtle is worth saving and the rescue efforts have been incredible.

The day was amazing and I was honored and privileged to be a part of it. We found three Kemp’s Ridley turtles (two were pronounced dead) and one 88 lb., five-year-old Loggerhead who should do well in rehab! Incredible.

From PLOS:

How do world’s smallest sea turtles become stranded in Cape Cod?

Computer simulations help reconstruct ocean conditions behind stranding

December 4, 2019

A computational analysis has surfaced new insights into the wind and water conditions that cause Kemp’s ridley sea turtles to become stranded on beaches in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Xiaojian Liu of Wuhan University, China, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on December 4, 2019.

The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is smaller and in greater danger of extinction than any other sea turtle in the world. This species is found in coastal waters ranging from the Gulf of Mexico to Nova Scotia, Canada. While Kemp’s ridley populations have slowly risen since conservation efforts began in the 1970s, the number of turtles found stranded on Cape Cod beaches in the last few years is nearly an order of magnitude higher than in earlier decades.

To help clarify the conditions that lead to stranding, Liu and colleagues combined computational modeling with real-world observations. This enabled them to investigate circumstances that could trigger hypothermia in Kemp’s ridley turtles — the primary cause of most strandings — and subsequent transport of the cold-stunned animals to shore.

The researchers used the Finite Volume Community Ocean Model to simulate ocean currents in Cape Cod Bay. To validate these simulations, they also released drifting instruments into the currents and tracked their movements via satellite. Then, they looked for links between the simulations, the drifter data, water temperature data, and records of where and when Kemp’s ridley turtles were found stranded.

The findings suggest that Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are more likely to become stranded at certain beach locations along Cape Cod when water temperatures drop below 10.5° Celsius and, concurrently, winds blow with high wind stress in certain directions. Once stranded, hypothermic turtles usually require assistance from trained volunteers in order to survive.

While these findings provide new insights that could help guide future search and rescue efforts, questions remain. Further research is needed to clarify the depth of water at which Kemp’s ridley sea turtles typically become hypothermic, and how processes like wind and waves may impact stranding events at those depths.

Co-author James Manning notes: “While the state-of-the-art ocean model can help simulate the process, both the student-built drifters and bottom temperature sensors deployed by local fishermen are critical to the investigation.”

Nazis vandalize Jewish cemetery in Massachusetts, USA

Defaced graves in Fall River, Massachusetts, USA (photo: Fall River Police Dept)

By Kate Randall in the USA:

Fall River, Massachusetts: Jewish cemetery vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti

23 March 2019

On Sunday afternoon, March 17, police in Fall River responded to a report of vandalism at the Hebrew cemetery on McMahon Street in the southeastern Massachusetts city. The discovery was made by a cemetery maintenance worker. It is believed the vandalism occurred either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Police originally reported that “approximately 25 gravestones” were defaced. But following a row-by-row examination of the cemetery on Tuesday, they announced on Wednesday that 59 gravestones had been defaced with anti-Semitic language and swastikas. Some had also been toppled over.

Gravestones were defaced with black magic marker. In addition to swastikas, anti-Semitic phrases included, “Heil Hitler”, “Expel the Jews” and “Oy vey! This is MAGA country”, a reference to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”.

According to the Fall River-based Herald News, the phrase “The Day of the Rope” was written on at least two gravestones. This appears to refer to a book of fiction about a white nationalist uprising against the United States government.

The anti-Semitic incident in Fall River took place just days after the March 15 fascist terror attack on two Muslim mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 50 dead. It also occurred less than six months after the October, 27, 2018 mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11.

The Fall River attack, while claiming no lives, was inspired by the same white nationalist, fascistic views propounded by the Trump administration and right-wing governments in France, Italy, Brazil and elsewhere. These ideologies are openly promoted to incite violence against immigrants and others.

In the wake of the New Zealand atrocity, the President Trump was asked by a reporter whether he saw white nationalism as a “rising threat around the world.” He responded. “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. … If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case.”

The facts tell another story, however. The shooter, Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant, hailed Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity”. His lengthy manifesto called for violence and civil war to force non-European “invaders” from Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Tarrant was in fact part of an international network of far-right organizations and had been radicalized in Europe, including in Britain. In the days following the Christchurch massacre, a number of far-right attacks on Muslims have taken place in the UK, pointing to the example provided by the horrific event in New Zealand to those inspired by white supremacist and Islamophobic views.

In Fall River, the Jewish community has long history. During the 19th century, the city was famous as the leading textile manufacturing center the US. It has always been a city attracting immigrants, many working in the textile mills or providing services supporting the industry.

“Spindle City,” as it was known, was second in the world in textile manufacturing only to Manchester, England. Thousands of workers, mainly of Irish and French-Canadian descent, came to Fall River in the 1860s and 1870s to work in the mills. German Jewish settlers came to Fall River beginning in this same period; Russian Jewish immigrants arrived in the 1880s and 1890s.

While World War I provided a general increase in demand for textiles, many mills in Fall River subsequently shut down as a result of the Great Depression, and by the mid-20th century the city was no longer a textile center. The city shrank in population from a high of about 120,000 in the 1920s to about 88,930 today.

The Hebrew Cemetery in Fall River is among the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the state, having been established in the late 19th century. Many of the German and Russian Jewish settlers who immigrated to the US in that period are likely buried there.

Fall River is still a city of many ethnicities. About half of residents are Luso-American, having their origins somewhere in the former Portuguese Empire. Recent immigrants include those from Cambodia and India. The Jewish population is now under 1,000, down from about 4,000 in 2008, as people have left to seek other livelihoods.

Friends and family of those interred at 300-plot cemetery in Fall River came Wednesday to survey the anti-Semitic vandalism and the check on whether the headstone of one of their loved ones had been damaged. The Herald News reported on Louis Gitlan, who walked through the graveyard row by row with a list of names, taking an occasional photo of a headstone. Seven of his relatives are buried there.

The Herald News wrote: “Gazing at the headstone of a man who died in 1939, he said every person buried in the Hebrew cemetery faced persecution at one time or had family members who did.”

Referring to those who had fled Nazi persecution, he told the newspaper, “What did they go through to get to this place, and finally be free? Then realize that they can’t escape it.” Even in death, they have been slandered by anti-Semitic filth.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 90 anti-Jewish hate crimes reported in Massachusetts in 2017, a nearly 50 percent increase compared to 2016.

A Jewish cemetery in Massachusetts that was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti last week received a $5,000 donation from a Muslim charity to help repair the damage: here.

US Jewish cemetery vandalized, Hitler, Trump slogans

This 21 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Jewish cemetery vandalized: ‘Oy vey, this is MAGA Country

MAGA=Make America Great Again=Donald Trump‘s slogan.

Expel the Jew,” “Heil Hitler“, and other Hitler salutes were among the anti-Semitic slurs found defacing dozens of headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Massachusetts. Fall River Police said they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Sgt. Thomas Mauretti, with the Fall River Police Department’s major crimes division, confirmed the graffiti found at Hebrew Cemetery over the weekend, including phrases such “Oy vey! This is MAGA country.”

Mauretti told … the anti-Semitic phrases and swastikas were found scrawled in black marker on 59 gravestones and some stones were knocked over as well. Police said the gravestones were vandalized sometime Saturday or early Sunday. Investigators said the damage was first discovered by a cemetery maintenance worker who described to police what he had found.

Fall River Police said they were contacted by the Anti-Defamation League of New England. The organization is offering a $1500 reward in addition to a reward offered by the Fall River Police Department for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect or suspects.

The regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of New England, Robert Trestan, went to the cemetery Tuesday to survey the damage and spoke with people who have relatives buried there. …

According to the spokeswoman for the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, there were 177 anti-Semitic incidents reported in Massachusetts in 2017, which is the last available data. She said that represents a 42 percent increase in reports, compared to the year before.

Horseshoe crabs, really relatives of spiders, scorpions

This 3 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

It’s Cameraman Tim’s debut as a field correspondent! Tim travels to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to investigate the annual Horseshoe Crab invasion!

From the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA:

Horseshoe crabs are really relatives of spiders, scorpions

March 8, 2019

Summary: By analyzing troves of genetic data and considering a vast number of possible ways to examine it, scientists now have a high degree of confidence that horseshoe crabs do indeed belong within the arachnids.

Blue-blooded and armored with 10 spindly legs, horseshoe crabs have perhaps always seemed a bit out of place.

First thought to be closely related to crabs, lobsters and other crustaceans, in 1881 evolutionary biologist E. Ray Lankester placed them solidly in a group more similar to spiders and scorpions. Horseshoe crabs have since been thought to be ancestors of the arachnids, but molecular sequence data have always been sparse enough to cast doubt.

University of Wisconsin-Madison evolutionary biologists Jesús Ballesteros and Prashant Sharma hope, then, that their recent study published in the journal Systematic Biology helps firmly plant ancient horseshoe crabs within the arachnid family tree.

By analyzing troves of genetic data and considering a vast number of possible ways to examine it, the scientists now have a high degree of confidence that horseshoe crabs do indeed belong within the arachnids.

“By showing that horseshoe crabs are part of the arachnid radiation, instead of a lineage closely related to but independent of arachnids, all previous hypotheses on the evolution of arachnids need to be revised,” says Ballesteros, a postdoctoral researcher in Sharma’s lab. “It’s a major shift in our understanding of arthropod evolution.”

Arthropods are often considered the most successful animals on the planet since they occupy land, water and sky and include more than a million species. This grouping includes insects, crustaceans and arachnids.

Horseshoe crabs have been challenging to classify within the arthropods because analysis of the animals’ genome has repeatedly shown them to be related to arachnids like spiders, scorpions, mites, ticks and lesser-known creatures such as vinegaroons. Yet, “scientists assumed it was an error, that there was a problem with the data,” says Ballesteros.

Moreover, horseshoe crabs possess a mix of physical characteristics observed among a variety of arthropods. They are hard-shelled like crabs but are the only marine animals known to breathe with book gills, which resemble the book lungs spiders and scorpions use to survive on land.

Only four species of horseshoe crabs are alive today, but the group first appeared in the fossil record about 450 million years ago, together with mysterious, extinct lineages like sea scorpions. These living fossils have survived major mass extinction events and today their blood is used by the biomedical industry to test for bacterial contamination.

Age is just one of the problems inherent in tracing their evolution, say Ballesteros and Sharma, since searching back through time to find a common ancestor is not easy to accomplish. And evidence from the fossil record and genetics indicates evolution happened quickly among these groups of animals, convoluting their relationships to one another.

“One of the most challenging aspects of building the tree of life is differentiating old radiations, these ancient bursts of speciation,” says Sharma, a professor of integrative biology. “It is difficult to resolve without large amounts of genetic data.”

Even then, genetic comparisons become tricky when looking at the histories of genes that can either unite or separate species. Some genetic changes can be misleading, suggesting relationships where none exist or dismissing connections that do. This is owed to phenomena such as incomplete lineage sorting or lateral gene transfer, by which assortments of genes aren’t cleanly made across the evolution of species.

Ballesteros tested the complicated relationships between the trickiest genes by comparing the complete genomes of three out of the four living horseshoe crab species against the genome sequences of 50 other arthropod species, including water fleas, centipedes and harvestmen.

Using a complex set of matrices, taking care not to introduce biases in his analysis, he painstakingly teased the data apart. Still, no matter which way Ballesteros conducted his analysis, he found horseshoe crabs nested within the arachnid family tree.

He says his approach serves as a cautionary tale to other evolutionary biologists who may be inclined to cherry-pick the data that seem most reliable, or to toss out data that don’t seem to fit. Researchers could, for example, “force” their data to place horseshoe crabs among crustaceans, says Sharma, but it wouldn’t be accurate. The research team tried this and found hundreds of genes supporting incorrect trees.

Ballesteros encourages others to subject their evolutionary data to this kind of rigorous methodology, because “evolution is complicated.”

Why horseshoe crabs are water dwellers while other arachnids colonized land remains an open question. These animals belong to a group called Chelicerata, which also includes sea spiders. Sea spiders are marine arthropods like horseshoe crabs, but they are not arachnids.

“What the study concludes is that the conquest of the land by arachnids is more complex than a single tradition event,” says Ballesteros.

It’s possible the common ancestor of arachnids evolved in water and only groups like spiders and scorpions made it to land. Or, a common ancestor may have evolved on land and then horseshoe crabs recolonized the sea.

“The big question we are after is the history of terrestrialization,” says Sharma.

For Ballesteros, who is now studying the evolution of blindness in spiders living deep within caves in Israel, his motivations get to the heart of human nature itself.

“I get to look with childish curiosity and ask: ‘How did all this diversity come to be?'” he says. “It’s incredible what exists, and I never thought I would have the privilege to be able to do this.”

The study was funded by the M. Guyer postdoctoral fellowship and supported by National Science Foundation grant IOS-1552610.

Saudi dictatorship-Massachusetts Institute of Technology connection

This 13 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Senate Votes to End US Support for Saudi Mass Murder in Yemen

In a historic vote, the Senate voted 56-41 to withdraw military support for the US-Saudi war on Yemen. Yemeni-American community organizer Rabyaah Althaibani, whose family has been divided, tells TRNN’s Ben Norton she could not be happier.

By John Marion in the USA:

MIT refuses to cut ties to Saudi regime

22 February 2019

The administration at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has made clear that it will not cut funding ties with Saudi Arabia, despite growing outcries from students and faculty.

Calls for the severing of the extensive ties between the university and the Saudi regime came after the killing of the Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October of last year.

MIT President Raphael Reif’s decision to reject these calls is based on a report and recommendation made by Richard Lester, an associate provost for international partnerships, who was commissioned to review the university’s relationship with the Persian Gulf monarchy in late October 2018.

Last March, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the MIT campus for an “innovation forum” at which he was warmly received by Reif and Executive Vice President Israel Ruiz. In bin Salman’s entourage during the visit was Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, later accused by the US Treasury Department of “coordinating and executing” the Khashoggi assassination.

A now infamous photo on the campus shows Reif shaking hands with a smiling bin Salman, with Mutreb in the background.

The administration was forced to commission a review of the university’s relationship with Saudi Arabia in the face of immense public pressure from the students and faculty.

Lester’s preliminary report summarized what he referred to as the “large-scale activities that MIT is carrying out with the Kingdom.” These activities include funding from the Saudi government and state-owned companies for sponsored research in fields like energy and water management, and private and corporate gifts from Saudi sources.

Some of the largest Saudi sponsors of research at MIT include Saudi Aramco, the state-owned company that is the world’s biggest oil and gas producer; King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST), the Saudi National Science Agency and National Laboratory; and SABIC, one of the world’s largest chemical producers.

The report does not give an overall dollar figure for Saudi-sourced gifts and sponsored research contracts, but a federal database shows that MIT has reported receiving more than $77 million in gifts and contracts from Saudi sources over the past six years.

Lester’s report acknowledges the role played by Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen and “large-scale violations of political, civil, and human rights in Saudi Arabia.” Lester justifies the relationship with Saudi Arabia by stating that the university felt the country “was on a path toward becoming a more progressive society” before the Khashoggi murder and that the university felt, “by expanding our engagement with the Kingdom we might contribute to this development, even if only in a small way.” He laments that, “the Khashoggi murder has deflated many of those hopes.”

Despite these statements, Lester ends his report by recommending against ending any of the university’s current engagements with Saudi Arabia. He writes, “It is true that those organizations are part of a government that has been implicated in the murder of journalist Khashoggi, that is pursuing repressive policies at home, and whose participation in the Yemeni civil war has been widely condemned… However, there has been no suggestion that any of these organizations had any role in the planning and execution of the operation that ended in Mr. Khashoggi’s murder.”

The conclusion, in other words, states that since the organizations themselves did not carry out the murder, the university can continue its relationship with the monarchy.

These developments underscore the deep integration of academia into the military intelligence apparatus. The continuation of such relationships with the Saudi regime is sanctioned only because the regime is a long-standing ally of the US in the Middle East.

Relations with Saudi Arabia are connected to the close integration of MIT and other universities with the US state apparatus. One upcoming event on campus will feature former Secretary of State and notorious war criminal Henry Kissinger, former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and hedge fund billionaire Stephen Schwartzman, to inaugurate the Stephen A. Schwartzman College of Computing.

Under the Obama administration, Carter oversaw American military participation in the Yemen war and the regime change operation in Syria.

Under the Ford and Nixon administrations, Kissinger played a leading role in numerous war crimes, including the US war in Vietnam, the CIA-backed coup in Chile, and the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Provost Martin Schmidt issued a statement Monday defending the inclusion of Kissinger, claiming that “last summer, Dr. Henry Kissinger wrote a provocative reflection for The Atlantic that addressed his views on the ethics and dangers of artificial intelligence, topics directly relevant to the launch program.”

In November 2017, after having been a guest in bin Salman’s “ornate adobe-walled castle,” Friedman wrote in The New York Times that “not a single Saudi I spoke to here over three days expressed anything other than effusive support for [his] anti-corruption drive.”

Meanwhile, MIT has been increasingly forced to separate from scientific collaborators in China and Russia. Funding received from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for basic space research on campus can no longer be used for bilateral endeavors with educational institutions in China. This restriction was mandated by the US Congress under the Obama administration in support of the US government’s “pivot to Asia.”

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Two sisters from Saudi Arabia who fled the conservative kingdom and have been hiding out in Hong Kong for nearly six months said they did so to escape beatings at the hands of their brothers and father: here.

MAJOR DONORS INDICTED IN COLLEGE SCAM Major Democratic and Republican donors were indicted Tuesday in a college admissions scandal that also led to the arrests of Wall Street CEOs, famous actresses and Silicon Valley executives. It wasn’t clear whether campaign donors obtained letters of recommendation from elected officials based solely on contributions. Here’s why the college admissions process is already a scam. [HuffPost]

COLLEGE BRIBE FIRINGS The University of Southern California fired a high-ranking athletic administrator and a head coach after they were charged in the admissions bribery scheme. Stanford University ousted a sailing coach. The terminations showed immediate fallout from what the FBI called a “nationwide conspiracy.” [HuffPost]

United States police anti-leftist political spying

This video from the USA says about itself:

Cops Accidentally Admit They’re Spying On Left-Wing Groups

22 September 2018

The Massachusetts State Police accidentally revealed surveillance of progressive political groups in a social media post on gas explosions in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover, WBUR reports.

The police posted an image of 39 gas explosion locations. But the screengrab of the police computer included the browser’s bookmarks bar.

The post showed police had booked pages for Massachusetts Action Against Police Brutality (MAAPB), the Coalition to Organize and Mobilize Boston Against Trump (COMBAT), and other activist organizations.

Read more here.