Bus-sized pliosaur discovery in Russia


This video says about itself:

26 May 2017

Scientists have discovered a “highly unusual” new species of extinct sea-dwelling reptile in Russia.

Similar in appearance to a river dolphin or gharial crocodile, the fish-eating sea-beast would have had a long beak-like snout.

Related to the top predators who ruled the ocean during the dinosaur age, its lengthy “rostrum” set it apart from its relatives who had large and powerful toothed jaws.

The “pliosaur Luskhan itilensis” is estimated to have measured about 6.5m (21.3ft) – the size of a small bus.

It would have had four large flippers which evolved from feet over a long period of time, and an oar-like tail.

The marine reptile‘s skull was unearthed from the bank of the Volga River near the Russian city of Ulyanovsk.

The skull alone, with its long and slender snout, measured 1.5m (5ft) – the average height of a 13 year old boy.

Scientists believe that the animal’s unusual beak suggests that this family of marine reptiles – called plesiosaurs – colonised a much wider range of ecological niches than previously believed.

From the University of Liège in Belgium:

New species of bus-sized fossil marine reptile unearthed in Russia

May 25, 2017

Summary: A new species of a fossil pliosaur (large predatory marine reptile from the ‘age of dinosaur[s]’) has been found in Russia and profoundly change[s] how we understand the evolution of the group, says an international team of scientists.

A new species of a fossil pliosaur (large predatory marine reptile from the ‘age of dinosaur[s]’) has been found in Russia and profoundly change[s] how we understand the evolution of the group, says an international team of scientists.

Spanning more than 135 Ma during the ‘Age of Dinosaurs‘, plesiosaur marine reptiles represent one of longest-lived radiations of aquatic tetrapods and certainly the most diverse one. Plesiosaurs possess an unusual body shape not seen in other marine vertebrates with four large flippers, a stiff trunk, and a highly varying neck length. Pliosaurs are a special kind of plesiosaur that are characterized by a large, 2m long skull, enormous teeth and extremely powerful jaws, making them the top predators of oceans during the ‘Age of Dinosaurs’.

In a new study to be published today in the journal Current Biology, the team reports a new, exceptionally well-preserved and highly unusual pliosaur from the Cretaceous of Russia (about 130 million years ago). It has been found in Autumn 2002 on [the] right bank of the Volga River, close to the city of Ulyanovsk, by Gleb N. Uspensky (Ulyanovsk State University), one of the co-authors of the paper. The skull of the new species, dubbed “Luskhan itilensis,” meaning the Master Spirit from the Volga river, is 1.5m in length, indicating a large animal. But its rostrum is extremely slender, resembling that of fish-eating aquatic animals such as gharials or some species of river dolphins. “This is the most striking feature, as it suggests that pliosaurs colonized a much wider range of ecological niches than previously assumed” said Valentin Fischer, lecturer at the Université de Liège (Belgium) and lead author of the study.

By analysing two new and comprehensive datasets that describe the anatomy and ecomorphology of plesiosaurs with cutting edge techniques, the team revealed that several evolutionary convergences (a biological phenomenon where distantly related species evolve and resemble one another because they occupy similar roles, for example similar feeding strategies and prey types in an ecosystem) took place during the evolution of plesiosaurs, notably after an important extinction event at the end of the Jurassic (145 million years ago). The new findings have also ramifications in the final extinction of pliosaurs, which took place several tens of million years before that of all dinosaurs (except some bird lineages). Indeed, the new results suggest that pliosaurs were able to bounce back after the latest Jurassic extinction, but then faced another extinction that would — this time — wipe them off the depths of ancient oceans, forever.

‘Dangerous tension between nuclear armed Russia-nuclear armed USA’


This video from the USA says about itself:

Stephen Cohen: This is Most Dangerous Moment in U.S.-Russian Relations Since Cuban Missile Crisis

13 April 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has wrapped up a visit to Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The meetings come at a time of increased tension between Washington and Moscow. On Wednesday during a press conference, President Trump said relations with Russia had reached a new low point. Trump’s comments came a day after the White House accused Russia of attempting to cover up the role of the Syrian government in the recent chemical attack in Syria that killed 87 people. Russia has rejected the claim, saying the U.S. has been too quick to blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. We speak to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University.

What would a US-European-Russian war look like? Here.

Blaming Russia Helps Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Maintain Power. Apr 20, 2017. By Norman Solomon: here.

St Petersburg bombing victims commemorated in Paris, not elsewhere


Solidarity with both France and Lebanon against terrorism

This is a ‘twibbon’ expressing solidarity with both the French and Lebanese victims and survivors of ISIS violence. You can put it on your Facebook or Twitter account here.

This ‘twibbon’ was made when many people very correctly commemorated the victims of ISIS terrorism in France. The mourning also included authorities in NATO countries. These NATO countries’ and other establishment authorities (including Facebook bosses) then ‘forgot’ to mourn the victims of ISIS and similar terror in, eg, Syria and Lebanon. To make up for that, a non-establishment grassroots internaut made the ‘twibbon’.

And now, with the bloody bombing in the metro in St Petersburg in Russia … it looks like the authorities in NATO countries only mourn victims of terrorism if these civilian victims lose their human lives in fellow NATO countries or in countries which are military allies of NATO.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Metro blast Paris’s sympathy fails to get an echo elsewhere

Wednesday 5th April 2017

PARIS Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced last night that the Eiffel Tower would remain dark from midnight to honour the St Petersburg Metro bombing victims.

The mayor made the announcement in a tweet that carried the hashtag #noussommesunis (weareunited).

Russian media had drawn attention yesterday morning to the failure of France, Germany and other states to repeat other tributes carried on public buildings to show solidarity with civilians targeted by terrorist groups.

Ms Hidalgo’s belated but welcome gesture was not emulated by officials in Berlin, who were criticised for deciding not to bathe the Brandenburg Gate in the colours of the Russian flag.

The Berlin authorities insist that London, Paris, Brussels and Istanbul are Berlin’s official partner cities, but cannot explain why the gate was also lit up with the relevant colours after attacks in Jerusalem and Orlando, Florida, but not St Petersburg.

Russian investigators identified 22-year-old Kyrgyzstan-born Russian citizen Akbardzhon Dzhalilov as the suicide bomber behind Monday’s blast.

The Kyrgyzstan state committee for national security confirmed the man’s identity and pledged to help the Russian probe.

The death toll from the atrocity rose to 14 yesterday, with 49 people still in hospital.

The city hall said that there were several foreign nationals among those killed and injured but gave no further detail.

The investigators also said that forensic experts had found the suicide bomber’s DNA on a bag containing a device found and deactivated at another station on Monday.

Residents have been bringing flowers to the stations near where the blast occurred.

Every corner and window sill at the ornate Soviet-built Sennaya Square station was covered with red and white carnations yesterday.

The driver of the bombed train, Alexander Kavernin, who has worked on the metro for 14 years, said that he had heard the blast, called security and carried on to the next station as emergency instructions prescribe.

“I had no time to think about fear at that moment,” he said.

His decision to keep moving was praised by authorities, who said that it had helped evacuation efforts and reduced danger to passengers who would have had to walk along the electrified tracks.

This video says about itself:

3 April 2017

Floral tributes have been laid outside St. Petersburg’s Sennaya Ploschad (Sennaya Square) metro station, Monday, after a blast rocked the station, killing at least 10 and injuring dozens more.

Russian poet Yevtushenko dies


This video says about itself:

28 October 2011

Yevgeny Yevtushenko recites his poem “Babi Yar” with music from ShostakovichSymphony No. 13. Kurt Masur & The New York Philharmonic.

Today, Yevgeny Yevtushenko has died. He was 84 years old.

His best known poem, Babi Yar, is about the mass murder by nazis of Jews in Kyiv, capital of the then German nazi-occupied Ukrainian soviet republic.

Translation of Babi Yar:

BABI YAR

By Yevgeni Yevtushenko
Translated by Benjamin Okopnik, 10/96

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself. *1*
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok *2*
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anne Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-“They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking…”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring *3*
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

**************************************************

NOTES
—–1 – Alfred Dreyfus was a French officer, unfairly dismissed from service in 1894 due to trumped-up charges prompted by anti- Semitism.

2 – Belostok: the site of the first and most violent pogroms, the Russian version of KristallNacht.

3 – “Internationale”: The [original] Soviet national anthem.

Yevtushenko, born in 1932 in the small town of Zima in Siberia’s Irkutsk region, became one of the leading Soviet poets of the “thaw period” under Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. Those years were bound up with official condemnation of the “cult of personality” around Joseph Stalin and the widespread hope within the Soviet people that the country could be renewed on a socialist basis: here.

Steller’s sea eagles, kittiwakes, other birds


This video says about itself:

1 March 2017

4 million breeding sea birds, including a variety of puffins, make their annual journey to Talan, an island in the northern Sea of Okhotsk in Eastern Russia, to form an amazing avian colony. Watch this breath-taking wildlife video to see a Steller’s Sea Eagle take advantage of the nesting season to pluck a Kittiwake bird from mid air.

Taken From [BBC] Blue Planet Series 1.

Glenn Greenwald on US fake news and Russia


This video from the USA says about itself:

5 January 2017

We are joined by Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. His latest article is headlined “WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived.” In it, he writes, “Any story that bolsters the prevailing D.C. orthodoxy on the Russia Threat, no matter how dubious, is spread far and wide. And then, as has happened so often, when the story turns out to be false or misleading, little or nothing is done to correct the deceitful effects.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

Glenn Greenwald on “Dearth of Evidence” Linking Russia to WikiLeaks Release of DNC Emails

5 January 2017

We speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald as the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on alleged Russian cyber-attacks and top intelligence officials are briefing President Obama on a review of evidence that Russia hacked the email servers of the Democratic National Committee.

The US intelligence report released Friday provides no evidence that Russia was responsible for hacking into the email of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The report consists of unsupported conclusions by the CIA, FBI and NSA, using the phrase “we assess” 19 times, without a single fact to demonstrate Russian involvement: here.

See also here.