World’s oldest fossils discovery in Canada


This video says about itself:

2 March 2017

Remains of microorganisms at least 3,770 million years old have been discovered by an international team led by UCL scientists, providing direct evidence of one of the oldest life forms on Earth.

Tiny filaments and tubes formed by bacteria that lived on iron were found encased in quartz layers in the Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (NSB), Quebec, Canada.

From University College London in England:

World’s oldest fossils unearthed

March 1, 2017

Remains of microorganisms at least 3,770 million years old have been discovered by an international team led by UCL scientists, providing direct evidence of one of the oldest life forms on Earth.

Tiny filaments and tubes formed by bacteria that lived on iron were found encased in quartz layers in the Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (NSB), Quebec, Canada.

The NSB contains some of the oldest sedimentary rocks known on Earth which likely formed part of an iron-rich deep-sea hydrothermal vent system that provided a habitat for Earth’s first life forms between 3,770 and 4,300 million years ago. “Our discovery supports the idea that life emerged from hot, seafloor vents shortly after planet Earth formed. This speedy appearance of life on Earth fits with other evidence of recently discovered 3,700 million year old sedimentary mounds that were shaped by microorganisms,” explained first author, PhD student Matthew Dodd (UCL Earth Sciences and the London Centre for Nanotechnology).

Published today in Nature and funded by UCL, NASA, Carnegie of Canada and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the study describes the discovery and the detailed analysis of the remains undertaken by the team from UCL, the Geological Survey of Norway, US Geological Survey, The University of Western Australia, the University of Ottawa and the University of Leeds.

Prior to this discovery, the oldest microfossils reported were found in Western Australia and dated at 3,460 million years old but some scientists think they might be non-biological artefacts in the rocks. It was therefore a priority for the UCL-led team to determine whether the remains from Canada had biological origins.

The researchers systematically looked at the ways the tubes and filaments, made of haematite — a form of iron oxide or ‘rust’ — could have been made through non-biological methods such as temperature and pressure changes in the rock during burial of the sediments, but found all of the possibilities unlikely.

The haematite structures have the same characteristic branching of iron-oxidising bacteria found near other hydrothermal vents today and were found alongside graphite and minerals like apatite and carbonate which are found in biological matter including bones and teeth and are frequently associated with fossils.

They also found that the mineralised fossils are associated with spheroidal structures that usually contain fossils in younger rocks, suggesting that the haematite most likely formed when bacteria that oxidised iron for energy were fossilised in the rock.

“We found the filaments and tubes inside centimetre-sized structures called concretions or nodules, as well as other tiny spheroidal structures, called rosettes and granules, all of which we think are the products of putrefaction. They are mineralogically identical to those in younger rocks from Norway, the Great Lakes area of North America and Western Australia,” explained study lead, Dr Dominic Papineau (UCL Earth Sciences and the London Centre for Nanotechnology).

“The structures are composed of the minerals expected to form from putrefaction, and have been well documented throughout the geological record, from the beginning until today. The fact we unearthed them from one of the oldest known rock formations, suggests we’ve found direct evidence of one of Earth’s oldest life forms. This discovery helps us piece together the history of our planet and the remarkable life on it, and will help to identify traces of life elsewhere in the universe.”

Matthew Dodd concluded, “These discoveries demonstrate life developed on Earth at a time when Mars and Earth had liquid water at their surfaces, posing exciting questions for extra-terrestrial life. Therefore, we expect to find evidence for past life on Mars 4,000 million years ago, or if not, Earth may have been a special exception.”

See also here. And here.

Life on Earth may have begun as dividing droplets. Shape-shifting blobs of chemicals could split to reproduce, simulations show. By
Emily Conover, 7:00am, March 21, 2017: here.

Quebec mass murder by Le Pen fan Bissonnette


This video says about itself:

White Supremacist Kills 6 At Quebec Mosque

31 January 2017

Fox News tried to blame a Morrocan guy for this crime to justify Donald Trump’s #MuslimBan. The Canadian police identified Alexandre Bissonnette as the one responsible for this evil act.

By Jacques Richard in Canada:

Quebec City mosque assailant identified with ultra-right

1 February 2017

New information continues to come to light confirming the chauvinist, ultra-right wing views of Alexandre Bissonnette, the 27 year-old Laval University student who has been charged with five counts of murder and six of attempted murder over Sunday evening’s attack on a Quebec City mosque.

Bissonette contacted police only minutes after the assault on the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec and surrendered to them shortly thereafter. Weapons, including an AK-47 automatic rifle and a high-powered hand-gun, were found in his car.

According to eye-witnesses, the masked gunman who opened fire on Muslims at evening prayer reloaded his weapon twice during the attack.

Sunday’s shooting left six Muslim-Canadians dead and caused nineteen other to be hospitalized. The dead included Canadians of Algerian, Moroccan, and Guinean origin. Most, if not all, were longtime Canadian residents. One was a professor at Laval University. Several others worked for the Quebec government.

Two of the wounded remain in a critical condition. Doctors have stated that they may suffer lifelong impairment.

According to authorities, at his arrest Bissonette expressed remorse, or at least concern about the fatalities, and spoke about taking his own life.

Police claim he has given no explanation for his actions. Nor apparently did he leave any on his computer or social media.

However, he was clearly acting on the basis of ultra-right wing political views.

Since Sunday night, numerous people who encountered Bissonnette in recent years, from the spokesman for a refugees support group, to fellow Laval University students, have said he was virulently anti-immigrant and an unabashed admirer of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s neo-fascist National Front, and of US President Donald Trump.

Both Le Pen and Trump have systematically stoked anti-immigrant chauvinism and Islamophobia.

Last Friday, just two days before the mosque massacre, Trump signed a patently anti-democratic and discriminatory executive order, excluding refugees, visitors and US permanent residents from seven Muslim countries from entering the US.

According to several associates of Bissonnette, Le Pen’s high-profile visit to Quebec last spring served to radicalize him.

Those who viewed Bissonnette’s Facebook page before it was taken down on police order, report that in addition to confirming his support for Le Pen, the National Front and Donald Trump, it showed him to be an admirer of the Israeli Defense Forces and a gun enthusiast.

Olivier Banville, the former president of the Parti Québécois (PQ) club at Laval University, told the Montreal daily Le Devoir that Bissonnette was in discussion with him for a time in 2014 about joining the pro-Quebec independence party.

Significantly this was when the PQ was championing a so-called Quebec Charter of Values— chauvinist legislation that would have banned public sector workers, at the cost of their jobs, from wearing religious head-coverings and other “ostentatious” religious symbols. An exception was to be made for “discrete” crucifixes.

Media reports have portrayed Bissonnette as an introvert and a loner who had been subjected to bullying throughout much of his youth.

That he is likely psychologically troubled in no way detracts from the political character of his actions and, even more importantly, the culpability of the political establishment and capitalist elite.

In Canada, as in and the other imperialist “democracies,” the ruling elites have promoted a noxious political and social environment through their phony “war on terror” narrative. They have carried out wars of aggression in the Middle East, sweeping attacks on democratic rights, and policies aimed at redistributing wealth to the most privileged sections of society.

Canada’s current prime minister, the Liberal Justin Trudeau, denounced the Harper Conservative government’s open appeals to Islamophobia as “divisive.” However, Trudeau and the Liberals voted for Harper’s Bill C-52, which in the name of fighting “Islamic terror,” has armed the national security apparatus with what even the Globe and Mail, the traditional mouthpiece of Toronto’s Bay Street banks, describes as police-state powers.

For the past ten years Quebec’s political establishment and corporate media have promoted the lie that immigrants, especially from Muslim countries, are a potential threat to “our democratic values.”

The amalgam between Muslims and terrorists is never far away. Last August, for example, Jean-François Lisée, the new leader of the Parti Québécois, the alternate governing party of the Quebec ruling class since the 1970s, issued a demand on his Facebook page for the “banning of the burka BEFORE a jihadist uses it to hide his or her movements for an attack.”

In the aftermath of Sunday’s atrocity some journalists have acknowledged, if only very partially, its connection to Quebec’s reactionary debate over “excessive accommodation” to minorities. Michèle Ouimet, a columnist with the Montreal daily La Presse, pointed to an “unhealthy climate fueled by trash radios that allow themselves to say anything and chroniclers who vomit on Muslims and Jews.”

In an official statement, Philippe Couillard, the Liberal Premier of Quebec, obliquely referred to this climate by saying: “The words that are spoken and the words that are written are not insignificant.”

The two parties most openly associated with the chauvinist discourse on Quebec “identity,” the PQ of Lisée and the Coalition Avenir Québec of Francois Legault, immediately rejected any link between their anti-immigrant appeals and the horrific act carried out by an ultra-rightist most likely influenced and encouraged by their positions. The two have promised to continue to demand a public debate on banning the chador and the burka in public—although Lisée thought it politic [to] concede that his earlier warning that a burka could be used to conceal an AK-47 assault rifle was “not a good idea.”

Couillard’s statement, however, was entirely demagogic. His government has mounted an all-out assault on workers by slashing social programs and pensions, while cutting taxes on the rich and big business. At the same time, it has tabled legislation that directly targets the Muslim community by forbidding access to health care, education, and other essential public services (except in emergencies) to women who cover their faces for religious reasons.

The intensified atmosphere of Islamophobia that has been whipped up by mainstream politicians in Quebec and with the rise of Donald Trump in the USA has had the effect of inspiring racist vermin to take up arms. Alexandre Bissonnette, the alleged shooter was “known by several activists in Quebec City for his identity based, pro-Le Pen and anti-feminist positions at the University of Laval and on social networks.” The responsibility for this bloodshed rests not only on the shoulders of the shooter himself but equally on those politicians and commentators who have been stirring up hatred and Islamophobia: here.

Canada Calls Out Fox News For ‘False And Misleading’ Quebec Shooter Tweets. The network is “perpetuating fear and division,” a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: here.

Muslim immigrant cabbies say they face discrimination in Quebec City job market: here.

Canada mosque mass murderer, a Le Pen, Trump fan


This 30 January 2017 video about Canada is called White Nationalist Terrorist Attacks Mosque, Killing Six.

Another video from Canada, no longer on YouTube, used to say about itself:

30 January 2017

Quebec Mosque Shooting: Alexandre Bissonnette, white university student, only suspect Quebec shooting

Alexandre Bissonnette is suspected of carrying out the attack on Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center alone.

He was arrested on Sunday night after allegedly shooting six men dead during evening prayers before 8pm.

The university student fled the scene of the crime but called 911 20 minutes later to turn himself in to police.

Mohamed el Khadir, a Moroccan-Canadian, was also taken into custody but is now considered to be a witness.

Moroccan Canadian Mohamed el Khadir was trying to help people wounded in the bloodbath.

MAN MISTAKEN AS QUEBEC SHOOTER WAS ATTEMPTING TO SAVE HIS FRIEND’S LIFE Police have cleared Mohamed Belkhadir of suspicion after he ran back into the mosque to administer first aid and was mistaken as a suspect. Alexandre Bissonnette, a French-Canadian university student, is the sole suspect in the deadly shooting. [HuffPost]

That police wrongly arrested witness Mohamed el Khadir contributed to lots of Islamophobic fake news on the Internet.

The neo-nazi ‘alt-right’ site the Daily Stormer promoted the conspiracy theory that the Quebec massacre was supposedly by ‘Muslim terrorists’ linked to a supposed ‘rival mosque’.

Well … not just the Daily Stormer nazis promoted that conspiracy theory. So did supposedly ‘mainstream conservative’ Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News. Not that surprising. When Norwegian Islamophobe Breivik committed his massacre of social democratic young people, the Murdoch media (and others) also claimed that ‘the Muslims are at it again’.

Six men aged between 39 and 60 were killed at the mosque and five remain in a critical condition in intensive care at the city’s Hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus.

Twelve others had less serious injuries and another 39 escaped unharmed. …

Police found two rifles and an AK-47 in the car [of Alexandre Bissonnette].

Translated from Radio Canada French today:

Alexandre Bissonnette [arrested by police in Quebec, Canada for the mass murder at the Quebec mosque] has extreme right-wing political ideas. On his Facebook page, which was withdrawn since, he had put a link to the site of Marine Le Pen, the French leader of the National Front.

By Keith Jones in Canada:

Six killed in terror attack on Quebec City mosque

31 January 2017

Six Muslim Canadians, all of North or West African origin, were killed and another 19 persons wounded, five of them gravely, by a masked gunman who assaulted a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers Sunday.

Yesterday afternoon, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old Laval University student, was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder during a brief court appearance.

Shortly after the mosque slaughter, Bissonnette contacted police and subsequently surrendered to them on a Quebec City bridge. An AK-47 and two handguns were found in his car.

Initially, police took a second person into custody in the vicinity of the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec, the scene of the shooting. But later they conceded this was a case of mistaken identity and said they now believe Bissonnette acted alone.

Sunday’s attack was a heinous crime. The target of the attack and the profile of the presumed killer leave little doubt it was a political attack, motivated by Islamophobia and other extreme right-wing views.

Shortly after media began posting a photo of Bissonnette, a leader of a Quebec City group dedicated to helping Syrian refugees told reporters he was known to them for spouting anti-immigrant views. François Deschamps of “Bienvenue aux réfugiés” (Welcome to Refugees) said Bissonnette also routinely railed against feminists in his online posts.

According to the Montreal daily La Presse, Bissonnette’s Facebook page, which has now been taken off-line, had hyperlinks to the National Front, the French neo-fascist party led by Marine Le Pen.

Global News said Bissonnette’s Facebook “likes” also included US President Donald Trump, the Israeli Defense Forces, and Christopher Hitchens, the British writer who became a propagandist for the illegal 2003 US invasion of Iraq and Washington’s phony “war on terror.”

Witnesses say that when Bissonnette opened fire on them, he screamed “Allahu Akbar!” in a thick French-Québécois accent.

Apparently, Bissonnette screamed “Allahu Akbar!” to create the false impression that his bloodbath was by ‘Muslim terrorists’. He succeeded in that, at least initially, with right-wing media, as we have seen.

Soon after the media reported the attack, Canadian authorities, beginning with Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, denounced it as an act of terrorism.

Quebec City media reports suggest Bissonnette is a psychologically troubled individual. Even if, as is likely, this is true, Sunday’s mass killing cannot be separated from the noxious political and social environment that has been created by North America’s governments and capitalist elite through their wars of aggression, gutting of democratic rights, and promotion of reaction, including anti-Muslim bigotry.

Since Friday, news reports around the world have been dominated by the fallout from and reaction to US President Donald Trump’s antidemocratic and patently discriminatory executive order barring refugees, visitors, and US permanent residents from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US. All these countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—have been the target of US aggression, either in the form of “regime change” wars, drone strikes or punishing economic sanctions.

Trump has systematically stoked anti-Muslim prejudice since he launched his bid for the Republican Party presidential nomination. This is exemplified by his naming of Stephen Bannon, the former Goldman-Sachs executive who made Breitbart News into a sounding board for the fascistic alt-right, as his “chief strategist.”

On Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer made a show of condemning the Quebec City attack “in the strongest possible terms.” But he did not mention that its target was a mosque or that its victims were Muslims. Without losing a beat, Spicer then brazenly sought to invoke the murders perpetrated by a sympathizer of the ultra-right as an argument for the Trump administration’s persecution of Muslims and immigrants. “It’s a terrible reminder,” said Spicer, “of why we must remain vigilant and why the president is taking steps to be proactive and not reactive on issues of national security.”

Like the Democratic Party in the US, Canada’s elite claims to be appalled by Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry. But since 2001 it has promoted the false “war on terror” narrative, joining both parties of US big business in exploiting the atrocities committed by Islamist terrorists—often thanks to unexplained intelligence lapses—to legitimize militarism and war and sweeping attacks on democratic rights, while feeding anti-Muslim prejudice.

Stephen Harper and his Conservatives sought re-election as Canada’s government in the fall of 2015 with crude Islamophobic appeals, claiming Canada was at war with “Islamist terror” and promising to set up a snitch line so Canadians could denounce the “barbaric cultural practices” of their immigrant neighbours.

This was the culmination of a year-long campaign in which Canada’s ruling elite had rallied round the Harper Conservative government in using the deaths of two military personnel at the hands of psychologically troubled, recent Canadian-born converts to Islam to promote reaction at home and abroad. This included expanding Canada’s participation in the US war in Iraq and Syria—a war that arises directly from Washington’s previous ruinous Mideast wars, and like them is aimed at strengthening US hegemony over the world’s most important oil-exporting region. It also involved the ramming through, with the support of the opposition Liberals, legislation giving the national-security apparatus police-state powers (Bill C-51).

This is because Canada’s ruling elite views it as essential to asserting its own predatory imperialist interests that Canada be, as the Globe and Mail put it recently, behind Trump’s “walls”—that is, a partner in a “Fortress North America.”

Canada’s liberal media, like that in the US, systematically lies about the extreme right-wing forces, including Islamist terrorists, that Washington and its Canadian allies use on the world stage.

How many Canadians, for example, know that Canadian Armed Forces personnel who participated in NATO’s regime war in Libya referred to themselves as “Al Qaeda’s air force”?

While the entire Canadian ruling elite is complicit in the promotion of anti-Muslim bigotry and reaction, it is not mere chance that Quebec was the site of Canada’s first lethal attack on a mosque.

All sections of Quebec’s political establishment … have legitimized a reactionary campaign gotten up by the right-wing tabloid press that claims immigrants and religious minorities are threatening Quebec’s values.

Muslims have been the principal target of this campaign.

Currently, the Quebec Liberal government has legislation before the provincial legislature that would ban Muslim women wearing religious face coverings from receiving public services, including education and health care, except in emergencies.

When it held office for 18 months in 2012-14, the … pro-Quebec independence Parti Quebecois sought to enact a Charter of Quebec Values under which public sector workers would have been threatened with the loss of their jobs if their wore a Muslim hijab, Sikh turban, Jewish kipah, or other “ostentatious” religious symbols. Underscoring the chauvinist character of this legislation, an exception was provided for “discreet” crucifixes.

The PQ’s new leader, Jean-François Lisée, has suggested it should be illegal for Muslim women to wear the niqab or burqa in public in Quebec because an AK-47 could be hidden under it.

As for the right-wing mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, he has at most issued pro forma condemnations, despite repeated acts of vandalisms at the city’s four mosques, while repeatedly suggesting refugees could constitute a terrorist threat.

In Quebec and Canada, as around the world, the ruling class is promoting anti-immigrant and anti-minority chauvinism so as to split the working class.

There is mass revulsion in Quebec and across Canada at Sunday’s horrific events. …

A crisis-ridden, ever-more socially polarized and militarized capitalist society is dredging up all manner of reaction.

The defence of democratic rights requires the development of an independent movement of the working class against war and social inequality based on an unequivocally anti-capitalist and internationalist program.

Islamophobic terrorist bloodbath in Canada


This video about Canada today is called Quebec Mosque Shooting Labeled “Terrorist Attack”.

By Reuters/Huffington Post today:

6 Dead, 8 Wounded In Shooting At Quebec Mosque

“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” said the mosque’s president

Six people were killed and at least eight others wounded when gunmen opened fire on a mosque in Quebec City during evening prayers on Sunday, in what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a “terrorist attack on Muslims.”

Although a witness told Reuters that up to three gunmen fired on about 40 people, mostly men, who were gathered inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center, police said only two people were involved in the attack.

The two suspects were arrested, officials said, one following a police chase that ended late Sunday, the CBC reported. According to reports from the local news outlet La Presse, the shooting was being treated as a “terrorist attack.”

“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” said the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui.

Yangui, who was not inside the mosque when the shooting occurred, said he got frantic calls from people at evening prayers. He did not know how many were injured, saying they had been taken to different hospitals across Quebec City. …

Last June, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the cultural centre. …

Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of Quebec was splattered with what was believed to be pig blood.

In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015 …

It looks like Donald Trump’s presidency has not just encouraged some people to do the nazi salute, but that it has also encouraged some people to act like Hitler’s murder gangs.

Canadian squirrel steals camera and films


This video is called A squirrel nabbed my GoPro and carried it up a tree (and then dropped it).

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain about this video:

Cheeky squirrel steals a GoPro camera

Footage of an inquisitive squirrel stealing a GoPro camera and dragging it up a tree has gone viral online

17 Nov 2014

You don’t always need the high-production values of David Attenborough‘s Life Story, a team of experienced wildlife cameramen and the patience of a saint to put together an impressive animal video.

As the clip above demonstrates, sometimes you just need a GoPro camera and a slice of bread.

Montreal resident David Freiheit left his camera, with bait attached, at the base of a tree and stood nearby as an inquisitive squirrel approached.

The cheeky animal then dragged the camera up the tree, inadvertently filming Mr Freiheit in the process. Upon realising that the GoPro was not particularly tasty, the squirrel then jettisoned the camera onto the pavement below.

After being published on YouTube, Mr Freiheit’s footage has been viewed over 600,000 times. Completely nuts.

North American orchid discovery in the Netherlands


This video, in French, is about Spiranthes lucida orchids growing on the ‘île de Montréal island in Quebec, Canada.

Spiranthes lucida, shining lady’s tresses, is a North American orchid, never seen in Europe.

At least not until June this year, in a nature reserve near the Lek river in the Netherlands.

27 Spiranthes lucida orchids were discovered there, twelve of them flowering.

How did these flowers get here? This orchid species is not sold in commercial plant trade. So, not feral. Seeds brought here accidentally with trade in other products? Brought here by a migratory bird?