Saving freshwater fish species and aquariums


This 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute – Freshwater Biodiversity

The warm waters of the southeastern United States are home to an amazing diversity of animals and habitats. The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, TNACI, works to protect and sustain the region’s natural treasures and bring people of all ages closer to nature. Help us celebrate and care for these riches in our backyards.

Learn more about the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and how you can help here.

From Aarhus University in Denmark:

The hidden ark: How a grassroots initiative can help save fish from extinction

October 1, 2019

Summary: Freshwater fish are the most threatened vertebrate group, and species are disappearing faster than scientists can describe them. A new study shows that aquarium hobbyists can play an important role in freshwater fish conservation by filling in the gaps left by the scientific community and conservation organizations.

Freshwater fish are a highly diverse group, representing nearly half of all fish species. Due to accelerating human activities, they are also the most threatened vertebrate group, and are disappearing faster than they can be described. Currently, half of all freshwater fish species are still not formally assessed by conservation organizations, such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), resulting in many species becoming extinct before conservation actions can even be initiated.

However, a newly published study by Dr. Jose Valdez from Aarhus University and Kapil Mandrekar from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, shows how aquarium hobbyists can play an important role in freshwater fish conservation by filling in the gaps left by the scientific community and conservation organizations.

Dedicated hobbyists

Aquarium keeping is one of the most popular hobbies in the world, with millions of fish owners participating in this activity worldwide. Due to their interest in fish conservation and a love for the species they own, hobbyists often pay more attention to the conservation status of particular fish groups than the scientific community and can be more knowledgeable of some species than their professional counterparts.

“In some cases, species that are not yet scientifically described are well known to hobbyists — such as many species from the armoured catfish family,” says Valdez.

Aquarium hobbyist organizations help bring these passionate enthusiasts together to exchange information on keeping and caring for specific groups of fishes. These hobbyist organizations, along with their dedicated members, have already helped discover new species while saving others from extinction by providing rare and extinct in the wild fish from their own aquariums towards various conservation projects.

Organizations ensure survival

This includes conservation projects such as the Fish Ark Project (FAP) and associated organizations such as the Goodeid Working Group (GWG), who successfully keep populations of the 12 most endangered or extinct-in-the-wild and 24 threatened goodeid species in Mexico. Others such as the Hobbyist Aqualab Conservation Project (HACP), has already provided specimens of rare fish species to 34 universities, public aquaria, zoos, and other hobbyists in 15 countries to ensure their survival.

The largest organization is the CARES (Conservation, Awareness, Recognition, Encouragement, and Support) preservation program, which is associated with some of the major aquarium hobbyist organizations. CARES has taken a grassroots initiative to encourage hobbyists to keep the most endangered, and in some cases, already extinct in the wild freshwater fish to ensure their continued survival.

“The importance of programs, such as CARES,” says Mandrekar, “is that some of the species they focus on have little to no commercial value in the fish trade, and emphasize those that are overlooked and not charismatic enough for many conservation programs.”

First study of potential

Although CARES was founded fifteen years ago, the study by Jose Valdez and Kapil Mandrekar was the first to assess the program’s species and the potential value of CARES to the scientific community and conservation.

The researchers found that CARES listed nearly six hundred species of freshwater fish and over eighty species which are currently unknown by the scientific community.

“Aquarium hobbyists often possess detailed descriptions of undescribed species and the habitats where they are found, which can provide a detailed background for future work by the scientific community,” explains Mandrekar.

The CARES list also contained over thirty species that they consider already extinct in the wild, even though more than a third of those were classified as not threatened by the IUCN.

Need for close partnership with scientists

The vast disconnect of information revealed by the study exemplifies the importance of programs such as CARES and the need for scientists and conservation organizations to not only develop closer partnerships with hobbyist organizations but also recognize them as a valuable resource that can help save freshwater fishes from extinction.

“Many species already extinct in the wild currently only exist because they are specifically being kept and bred by these hobbyists. By bridging these conservation and knowledge gaps, fish hobbyists from the comfort of their home, are playing a pivotal role in helping preserve many of these threatened and rare fishes for future generations,” explains Valdez.

Although CARES involves individuals with scientific backgrounds, the authors state that there must be closer collaborations with scientists across disciplines as well as partnering with in-situ and ex-situ conservation efforts.

Donald Trump’s ICE anti-immigrant violence


This August 2019 UNited States TV video says about itself:

Donald Trump’s ICE Chief Defends Raid Leaving Children Crying | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC

In an NBC News exclusive interview, acting ICE Director Matthew Albence responds to video of an 11-year-old girl crying for her father after he was sent to detention in an ICE raid. The official blames her parents. The interview comes as Trump’s immigration chief suggests changing the Statue of Liberty poem to ‘give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet.’

By Casey Gold in the USA:

Immigrant shot by ICE agents two weeks ago detained in lawyer’s parking lot in Nashville, Tennessee

20 September 2019

On Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Nashville, Tennessee, violently arrested 39-year-old Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez as he was leaving his attorney’s office. He was consulting a lawyer after having been shot and injured by ICE Enforcement and Removal agents just two weeks ago. Andrade-Sanchez is a Mexican national who has been living in the Nashville area; he now faces deportation and up to two years in prison.

The abhorrent treatment of Andrade-Sanchez by ICE agents, which has taken place in open, public spaces, is indicative of the hastening deterioration of democratic rights and the growing threat of violence toward the entire working class carried out by the Trump administration in its ongoing war on immigrants.

The September 5 incident involved two ICE agents approaching Andrade-Sanchez in his truck, which was parked in a grocery store parking lot in Antioch, Tennessee, after a traffic stop. When the agents requested that Andrade-Sanchez exit his truck, he instead drove forward. This was the impetus for one of the agents to shoot Andrade-Sanchez twice, putting him in the hospital. The agent who put Andrade-Sanchez in the hospital has not been charged or reprimanded in any way.

On September 11, a federal grand jury indicted Andrade-Sanchez for “illegal reentry”. The indictment was unsealed on Tuesday, resulting in Andrade-Sanchez’s arrest this week. ICE agents surrounded Ozment Law Firm, an immigration firm Andrade-Sanchez sought to retain for his immigration case, with guns drawn, waiting for Andrade-Sanchez to exit the office.

Aaron Dendy, an attorney at Ozment Law Firm, reported that ICE agents forced Andrade-Sanchez to the ground, despite attempts by Andrade-Sanchez himself and attorneys to inform the agents that he was still injured from ICE’s previous attack.

ICE responded to local reporters’ request for information about the treatment of Andrade-Sanchez in a short, but revealing statement, “The agents acted in accordance with federal law and policy during [Tuesday’s] arrest.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, where Andrade-Sanchez will be tried and sentenced to deportation, if not time in prison, issued a press release about the arrest on Tuesday. This statement details Andrade-Sanchez’s past offenses and how Andrade-Sanchez “elud[ed] apprehension”, simply noting that an agent shot and wounded Andrade-Sanchez. Ironically, the statement concludes with the statement that, “[Andrade-Sanchez] is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

The corporate, compliant media has completely accepted the government’s version of the story, with not one condemnation of ICE’s appalling behavior. Instead, most outlets have focused on Andrade-Sanchez’s past and the technical “illegality” of his entry to the US.

Federal prosecutors have requested that Andrade-Sanchez be held in jail while his charges pend, citing Andrade-Sanchez’s “criminal history”. This refers to the fact that Andrade-Sanchez had been deported to Mexico on four previous occasions, pleaded guilty to domestic assault in 2009, and pleaded guilty to a charge of “criminal impersonation”, for giving a fake name to a Nashville police officer, in 2013.

Andrade-Sanchez is unfortunately one of the latest but not the last victim of the state’s turn to violence in response to growing social inequality. It is no coincidence that Andrade-Sanchez faced such brutal treatment while the Trump administration and leading Democrats decry “weak borders” and stoke fear about “illegal aliens”. In fact, the treatment of Andrade-Sanchez is exactly what was called for at a Trump rally in Florida earlier this year, where Trump laughed in response to an audience member’s call to “shoot” immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border.

In a just society, there would be no restrictions on human movement, and the ICE agent who shot and wounded Andrade-Sanchez would be the one facing punishment. The US Attorney’s Office’s pathetic attempt to keep up its “democratic” veneer with a hollow reference to Andrade-Sanchez’s “presumed innocence” illustrates the role such institutions play as the ruling class becomes increasingly brutal towards workers, youth, and students.

Only a mass movement of youth, students, and the working class on an international, socialist basis can defend democratic rights and ensure the safety of the most vulnerable layers of the working class.

Less than two months ago, residents in the working-class Hermitage neighborhood in Nashville physically stopped ICE agents from arresting an immigrant father. There, the father and his son refused to exit their van, which neighbors then surrounded to prevent the arrest. It is safe to say that had there been no intervention by neighbors in that situation, the ICE agents there would not have refrained from exerting violent force against the man and his child.

ICE agents, as well as police officers and other “enforcement” arms of the state, will continue to unleash atrocities on the working class, regardless of race, nationality, gender, or any other identity. In response, the working class, youths, and students must themselves intervene and defend democratic and social rights.

Nashville, USA against Trump’s ICE, interview


Nashville, USA resident Rosheda Martin

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Reporters for the World Socialist Web Site recently spoke with Rosheda Martin, a resident from the working class Hermitage neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, where residents physically prevented immigration police from snatching one of their neighbors.

On July 22, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents entered the neighborhood to detain an immigrant father and his son for deportation. The father and son took refuge in their van, parked in their own driveway, while their neighbors provided them with gas to keep the engine running and air conditioning on, as well as water and sandwiches. After four hours and repeated attempts to lure their targets to come outside, the ICE agents were forced to leave the premises.

The incident demonstrated the deep opposition within the working class, motivated by class solidarity and democratic sentiments, to Trump’s fascistic assault on immigrants. The mobilization by working class residents also stood in sharp contrast to response from the Democratic Party, which had recently voted to fund Trump’s immigration policy to the tune of $4.6 billion.

Rosheda described her reaction to what she saw: “What I saw was an injustice from the government in a country that basically was built on the backs and sweat of immigrants. Even our forefathers were immigrants. We all started as immigrants is what I’m saying. Basically, anyone that is not a Native American is an immigrant.”

“This is a man that has a family,” Rosheda pointed out. “This is a man that is just trying to live and be a productive citizen. This man is living just like I am, from paycheck to paycheck. He’s trying to be a good influence to his community, provide a nice home for his son. Isn’t that what you all try to do for your families, too? Is that the reason why he has to leave the United States of America?”

In Rosheda’s neighborhood, she describes workers “of different ethnic backgrounds, different colors, different traditions in their families” all living side by side with one another.

“To be exact, the working class is what makes the rich”, she continued. “They can’t have what they have if we don’t go out and work. With us out there working, look how they treat us. I’m an American, but yet I can’t get health care. I make too much money to get food stamp assistance, but I need help with groceries. I can’t go to the bank and get a loan because I don’t have enough credit. Yet still, I’m going out and working every day.”

“It’s not about race,” Rosheda added. “It’s about people that are real people trying to live and survive. We ain’t asking for the whole pie, but we want the same piece of pie that you’re eating. Quit taking that whole pie and give us a piece, that’s all we’re asking.”

In the face of increasingly fascistic and flagrant assaults on immigrants, such as last week’s unprecedented mass roundup of nearly 700 immigrant workers in Mississippi, it is absolutely crucial that workers take up the struggle to defend their persecuted class brothers and sisters. Such a struggle requires workers to organize independently of the two capitalist political parties, to form their own rank-and-file factory and neighborhood committees, on the basis of a revolutionary socialist program that seeks to unite workers throughout the world.

On this, Rosheda states: “There’s a lot of us out here thinking this is just what it is, it’s just gonna be this way, it’s not gonna change. But we can change it. We can come together as a force. It says ‘We the People’ of the United States, not we the government. We have got to come together and help one another and educate one another. You gotta educate, wake up.”

On Saturday, nearly 100 protesters were arrested outside of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office at the Starrett Lehigh Building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood [in New York City] . The protesters formed a human chain across both lanes of the West Side Highway beside the office building to draw attention to the facility: here.

The NRA has long urged Americans to arm themselves against an immigrant invasion [HuffPost]

Nashville, USA neighbours’ victory over Trump’s ICE


This video from the USA says about itself:

‘We are going to stick together’: Community members rally together to stop father’s ICE arrest

Immigration activists and neighbors rallied together July 22 to stop ICE officers from taking a Tennessee man into custody.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Lessons of Nashville: The working class and the defense of immigrants

25 July 2019

The remarkable incident in Nashville, Tennessee, Monday, described in an article posted yesterday on the World Socialist Web Site, has important political lessons for the struggle to defend immigrants and oppose the Trump administration’s attacks on democratic rights.

Residents of the working-class Hermitage neighborhood in the Tennessee capital defended an immigrant father and his son, after agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought to detain the father for deportation. The father and son refused to leave their van, parked in their own driveway, after the ICE agents accosted them.

When neighbors became aware of what was happening, they spread the word, and a dozen people turned out to bring aid to the immigrant father. They brought a gas can so he could keep his motor running and the air conditioning on, as well as water and sandwiches.

For four hours, the immigrant father and his son remained in their van, sheltered by their neighbors who at times locked arms in a human chain to prevent the ICE agents from approaching, as the agents repeatedly attempted to lure their targets to come outside. Eventually, as they could produce only an administrative order but no judicial warrant, the agents left empty-handed.

Comments given to the media by those who participated in the resistance to ICE give a glimpse of the real feelings of class solidarity and humanitarianism towards immigrants that actually motivate the great mass of working people. One said the confrontation with the ICE agents “changed how she feels about this country.”

Angela Glass told the Nashville Scene: “These people, they’ve been living there for 14 years. They don’t bother anybody. Our kids play with their kids. It’s just one big community. And we don’t want to see anything happen to them. They’re good people. They’ve been here 14 years, leave them alone. To me, they’re considered Americans.”

As the father had lived in Nashville for 14 years, presumably his 12-year-old son was born in the USA, so a United States citizen.

Another neighbor, Felishadae Young, told news station WZTV, “I was real scared about what was going on. It put a lot of fear in me, because it could be me, it could be my family. It could be anybody. It could be your neighbors, just like it was my neighbor today.” She added, “I know they’re going to come back, and when they come back, we’re coming back.”

Such comments give the lie to the incessant efforts by all factions of the US ruling elite to elevate race and nationality as the fundamental social characteristic, in order to divide the working class and pit workers against each other.

Trump, of course, vilifies immigrants in the most unrestrained and racist terms, seeks to whip up a pogrom atmosphere against them, and portrays American-born workers as a whole as hostile and resentful of the efforts of immigrants to live and work in America. …

Against this doomsday picture of America on the brink of race war, one must counterpose the Nashville video of working people, white and black, male and female, linking arms to defend an immigrant father and his son from detention and deportation.

The reaction of the Nashville authorities demonstrates the concern of the US ruling elite over the deep unpopularity of Trump’s anti-immigrant persecution, and the fear that the round-up and jailing of immigrants and their families may provoke an explosion of popular opposition.

The ICE agents in Nashville, when confronted by hostile local residents, called the police. But local officials instructed the police not to assist in the detention of the immigrant father, only to “keep order”, i.e., make sure that the crowd did not attack the ICE agents. The mayor of Nashville and two of his three challengers in the upcoming August 1 mayoral election issued statements expressing sympathy for those who supported the immigrant family and opposing any role for local police in enforcing Trump’s immigration policy.

The growing divergence between government policy and popular sentiments explains the failure, up to this point, of the ICE raids ordered by Trump against immigrant neighborhoods in ten major cities. ICE has detained only 35 of the 2,000 immigrants initially targeted for detention and immediate deportation in the raids that Trump announced earlier this month.

Trump administration officials and his media supporters have complained that “activists” have alerted immigrants to their legal rights, encouraged them to assert them more aggressively, and sought to mobilize material support for those facing the threat of arrest and deportation.

More broadly, opposition to Trump’s persecution of immigrants found expression in demonstrations in more than 700 cities involving tens of thousands of working people, youth and students. Many thousands have participated in social media activities to alert immigrant neighborhoods ahead of ICE raids and to publicize evidence of US government atrocities, such as the mistreatment of detained immigrants, particularly children.

The popular resistance to mass deportations is in sharp contrast to the role of the Democratic Party, which last month approved an additional $4.6 billion in funding for Trump’s regime of detention facilities in which immigrants are subjected to family separation, overcrowding, semi-starvation, and the deliberate promotion of disease through neglect and denial of medical care.

This week, in the bipartisan budget deal announced by Trump Monday in a triumphant tweet, the congressional Democratic leadership has agreed to drop any legislative effort to block Trump’s diversion of billions in Pentagon funds to build his long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border, as well as to provide full funding for all the anti-immigrant operations of the Department of Homeland Security, which includes ICE, the Border Patrol, and the network of concentration camps run by the federal government and private contractors.

The defense of immigrants—and the struggle to defend the democratic rights of all working people, regardless of race, national origin, gender or sexual orientation—is the responsibility of the working class. … It requires the independent political mobilization of the working class on the basis of a revolutionary socialist program, seeking to unite workers of every country in a common struggle against capitalism.

The United States Supreme Court yesterday granted the Trump administration’s request to stay a lower court order postponing construction of the border wall with funds appropriated via declaration of national emergency. The order is a major political victory for Trump, who can now begin construction of the barrier between the US and Mexico. It is the outcome of a recurring political process whereby the Democrats drop opposition to Trump’s unprecedented and unpopular attacks on democratic rights and the courts ultimately rubber-stamp his moves. The order is a blow to the separation of powers, dramatically strengthening the power of the executive branch: here.

Tennessee, USA neighbours stop Trump’s ICE deportation


This 23 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

ICE tries to bring man in Hermitage in custody, neighbors form human chain to let them [the man and his child] get home

According to Metro Nashville Police, ICE agents tried to pull someone over on Forest Ridge Drive in Hermitage. The driver pulled over, and ICE asked Metro Police to assist.

By Matthew Taylor in the USA:

ICE agents attempting to arrest Tennessee man repelled by neighbors

24 July 2019

On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents attempting to detain a Nashville, Tennessee man without a warrant were thwarted when the man’s neighbors formed a human chain to block the extra-legal action.

Residents of Nashville’s Hermitage neighborhood told local media that in the weeks leading up to the incident many of them had noticed a white Ford F-150 circling the block repeatedly, which they found to be suspicious. Around 6 a.m. Monday morning the drivers of the truck revealed themselves as undercover ICE agents when they turned on vehicle’s flashing lights and blocked a man driving a van and his twelve-year-old son in their driveway. The still-unidentified man, said to be a fourteen-year resident of the neighborhood, refused to leave the van.

For the next four hours, a standoff ensued. Neighbors emerged from their homes and came to the aid of the pair, providing food, water, and gas to keep the van’s air conditioning running in the summer heat, and giving them cold rags. The numbers swelled as the man’s neighbors were joined by local immigration activists who live-streamed the event on Facebook, as well as local politicians.

Local police also arrived at the scene at the request of the agents but did not intervene.

Meanwhile, the two ICE agents tried to cajole the man into surrendering, using the typical police tactics of lies, threats, and bribery. Because they had no actual arrest warrant signed by a judge but rather an administrative order issued internally by ICE, they could not legally detain the man without his consent.

As Daniel Yoon, an attorney present at the standoff explained to the Nashville Scene, “They were here with an administrative order that they wrote themselves…There’s no judicial review, no magistrate review, no probable cause. It doesn’t give them the authority to break down a door like you would with a normal warrant. They didn’t try to do that. But they still lied to the individuals inside and to people on the scene about, ‘No, this does give us that authority.’”

The ICE agents variously threatened to arrest the man’s 12-year-old son, offered cash to the pair, and tried to convince them that surrender was inevitable. When all of this failed, and the numbers of protestors continued to grow, the ICE agents finally retreated along with the local police.

The neighbors then formed a human chain to allow the man and his son to go back inside the house. The man’s wife came outside and thanked the gathered crowd for their assistance. The family soon exited through another human chain and left in another car with some of their belongings stuffed in trash bags and have not been seen since.

One neighbor present at the scene, Felishadae Young, gave a statement to local news station WZTV expressing the anger and solidarity neighbors felt when the ICE agents attempted to abduct the pair. “I was real scared about what was going on,” Young explained. “It put a lot of fear in me, because it could be me, it could be my family. It could be anybody. It could be your neighbors, just like it was my neighbor today.”

“I know they’re going to come back, and when they come back, we’re coming back,” Young declared defiantly.

Another neighbor, Angela Glass, explained to the Nashville Scene that, “These people, they’ve been living there for 14 years. They don’t bother anybody. Our kids play with their kids. It’s just one big community. And we don’t want to see anything happen to them. They’re good people. They’ve been here 14 years, leave them alone. To me, they’re considered Americans.”

Meanwhile in Texas, a young US citizen, Francisco Erwin Galicia, who was illegally detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on June 27, is soon to be released from the custody of ICE after nearly a month in detention.

The 18-year-old Galicia was arrested last month by CBP agents at an immigration checkpoint in Texas, some 80 miles north of the US-Mexico border, as he was traveling with his 17-year-old brother Marlon and friends to a soccer event. Despite the fact that he produced a Texas state ID card, which can only be obtained with a Social Security card, agents took him into custody along with his brother, who was born in Mexico and is undocumented.

Marlon Galicia was held for two days before being coerced into signing a voluntary deportation order. The younger Galicia told the Dallas Morning News, “I signed because I wanted to talk with my mom. Now, we just have to wait and see and hope that they release my brother.” Marlon now resides in Mexico with his grandmother.

In a blatantly racist and illegal move, ICE has imprisoned Francisco Galicia for nearly a month. The teenager is currently held by ICE at the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall, Texas in spite of the fact that his mother has produced a legal birth certificate showing that he was born at Parkland Memorial Hospital on December 24th, 2000. Both the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Post have reviewed the documentation and confirmed its authenticity.

Galicia’s mother also gave CBP officials the boy’s Social Security card, Texas state ID card, and a congratulatory certificate presented to her by hospital staff at Parkland Memorial upon his birth, to no avail.

Galicia was denied the right to contact his mother or anyone else while he was held in CBP custody. It was only after being transferred to ICE custody last week that he was able to call his mother.

CBP has cited a paperwork error, a tourist visa taken out in Galicia’s name stated that he was a citizen of Mexico as the reason for his ongoing detention. His mother’s attorney explained to the Washington Post that she had done this because she wrongly thought that was the only way he would be able to visit relatives in Mexico.

Though the mother’s error has been explained to immigration officials, and documents presented proving his citizenship, they had refused to release Galicia, only relenting in the face growing popular outrage as the story spread on social media.

Galicia’s case is not unique, a 2018 investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that 1,480 US citizens have been released from ICE custody since 2012, including one man who was held for over three years.

The author also recommends:

Davino Watson, US citizen wrongfully detained by ICE, calls for the defense of immigrants facing deportation
[5 March 2018]

Big cave salamander discovery in Tennnessee, USA


This June 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

On this episode of Breaking Trail, Coyote and the crew hike deep into the West Virginia hills in search of the rare and cryptic Cave Salamander!

However, locating the cave is the only the first obstacle. Once the cave is found they must go spelunking deep into the mountain braving the darkness, cold and giant spiders until the beams of their flashlights illuminate one of these beautiful amphibians…or so they hope!

From the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the USA:

Record-breaking salamander

January 25, 2019

Researchers at UT have discovered the largest individual of any cave salamander in North America, a 9.3-inch specimen of Berry Cave salamander. The finding was published in Subterranean Biology.

“The record represents the largest individual within the genus Gyrinophilus, the largest body size of any cave-obligate salamander and the largest salamander within the Plethodontidae family in the United States,” said Nicholas Gladstone, a graduate student in UT’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, who made the discovery.

The find is making scientists reexamine growth limits of these animals in harsh environments and how hospitable underground environments really are.

Salamanders can be found in a variety of habitats across Tennessee. Some species have adapted to live in cave environments, which are thought of as extreme and inhospitable ecosystems due to the absence of light and limited resources.

Salamanders are one of only two vertebrate animal groups to have successfully colonized caves. The other is fish, said Gladstone.

The record-breaking specimen had some damage to the tail, leading researchers to believe that it was once nearly 10 inches long.

The Berry Cave Salamander can be found in only 10 sites in eastern Tennessee, and in 2003 it was placed on the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Candidate Species List for federal protection.

“This research will hopefully motivate additional conservation efforts for this rare and vulnerable species,” said Gladstone.

Amazon worker dies, boss gets richer


This 3 December 2017 video from England says about itself:

Bolton teenager finds Help me note in Amazon package

Teenager, 13, finds ‘help me’ note on an invoice inside her Amazon Christmas delivery describing bosses as ‘evil’.

A teenager found a ‘Help me’ note inside her Amazon advent calendar delivery describing staff as ‘evil’, her mother has claimed.

April Dorsett, 13, was gifted a £30 make up advent calendar by her parents Kim and Philip who ordered it from Amazon. They had arranged for the note on the invoice to say ‘love from mum and dad’ but instead it read: ‘Help me please, PMP staff are evil’.

PMP is the recruitment agency used by Amazon to fill jobs at its distribution sites. It is part of Cordant.

More about this is here.

By E.P. Milligan in the USA:

Amazon worker dies of heart attack at facility in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

14 November 2018

On September 30, an Amazon worker died of cardiac arrest at a fulfillment center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The story was not reported until October 30, after whistleblowers contacted WSMV News-4 Nashville. The station published one article on the incident and then dropped the story.

The man, Mike Gellasch, 61, allegedly died because no one could find a working communication device to call for help in time. Because it is against company policy for workers to carry cellphones within the facility, they first had to radio security and instruct them to call 911. An audio recording obtained by a WSMV investigative team revealed that a security guard had put a 911 operator on hold and then never came back to the line. A different individual eventually called back. According to the ambulance report, it took around 5 minutes for anyone to call 911 after Gellasch collapsed.

Amazon was quick to respond to the coverage, claiming in a statement that “the reporting by WSMV is incorrect” and that EMS had been called “within two minutes.” The International Amazon Workers Voice (IAWV) spoke at length with a former worker at the Murfreesboro facility who wished to remain anonymous to prevent any retaliation from the company in case he needed to reapply for a job.

The worker claimed he had not learned of the incident until he saw the local news story in a post on social media. “I was actually scheduled that day”, he began. “I had no knowledge of the incident until probably within the last ten days. That’s a good five or six weeks before I knew the incident ever even occurred. I spoke to some of my coworkers and they had the same story, that they didn’t know about it either. I don’t remember seeing on the six o’ clock, or the ten o’ clock. It wasn’t publicized very much.”

He questioned the lack of proper emergency response systems. “Why aren’t defibrillators posted [in the building]? Why don’t they have an EMT station? Why don’t they have an emergency response station where you can get a straight call out to 911? We’re not allowed to have cellphones! Why don’t they even have a first aid station on every level? Would a defibrillator have saved this man’s life? It wouldn’t have killed him.

“I’ve often wondered: If I fell over dead, how long would it take for someone to find me?”

The worker continued, “I think Amazon should have their own healthcare plan. Amazon should have a nurse practitioner at every location. Medications should be available at the clinic on site.”

He told the IAWV that Gellasch had been employed through the company’s Camper Force program, which allows retired workers to travel the country and work at various Amazon facilities in return for an hourly wage and pre-paid recreational vehicle lot fees.

He claimed he had seen some workers in the facility who appeared to be 80 years old. “There are some older people that work full time and part time in the facility and I unfortunately feel like a lot of people are forced to work at a later age”, he said. “Whether it’s unfortunate events in their life, or something else, I don’t know. But everybody has a story.”

He described the Murfreesboro facility as enormous and sprawling, estimating that at times an individual worker’s route might range from “[aisle] 100 to 245,” which is “probably 1,500 feet—just shy of a quarter mile. When you get spread out like that, you really have to hustle to keep your rate high”, the worker said.

“Depending on the volume and demand, it wasn’t uncommon to be alone”, he continued. “Say if you’re on the third floor in the 200’s [aisles]. It’s not uncommon to be far away from civilization. It’s pretty isolated. I’ve definitely gone an hour or an hour-and-a-half without seeing anybody else.”

The worker described other unsafe working conditions. “A lot of the places will stick over-weighted or heavy items above your head, and they’re not supposed to,” he said. “There have been a lot of times I’ve opened up a bin above my head and they had put way too much weight in them. I mean we’re talking 25 maybe 30 pounds of weight. You’re not prepared for that because they shouldn’t be that heavy.”

He described the unrealistic requirements placed on workers. “I quit over a section called M-Mod”, he said. “In M-Mod, it’s an impossibility to make rate [100 per hour]. You can’t make rate down there. They know it and they haven’t solved the problem. They say they can’t solve the problem because the computer system won’t let them adjust that section to a lower rate, which I find ridiculous. Amazon is a trillion-dollar company. I can’t imagine they don’t have a software engineer in that building who can differentiate different sections at a different rate. The answer is they won’t do it”, the worker told the International Amazon Workers Voice.

“Everybody dreads going into M-Mod because they know your rate is going to drop by at least 50 an hour if not more”. he continued. “The last time I went into M-Mod, my gun was reading at 170 an hour. I worked a quarter there, which is typically two-and-a-half hours. At the end of the day, my rate was exactly 100. And that’s because when I came out of M-Mod, I had to bust my butt to make up the difference [back to 100].

“They actually fired a friend of mine over that. The rate on her scanner was 99.96 when she got fired [0.04 percent below quota]. It was posted up there on the board. They gave her an ultimatum to either quit or be fired, and she quit. She was a really good worker, but she kept getting stuck in M-Mod.”

The worker also commented on the issue of inadequate pay. Around a week prior to Jeff Bezos’ announcement that the starting wage at Amazon would increase to $15 an hour, the worker said, management announced a 25-cent wage increase at his facility.

“The day we had our meeting [that announced the quarter raise], people walked out,” he said. “I know a few people who laid their badge on the table and said, ‘Screw you. I’m done.’ They hadn’t given Murfreesboro a raise since its inception, almost five or six years ago. They gave us a 25-cent raise and the month before, Amazon had made a trillion dollars. So, I think people had the right to be mad.”

Alluding to the mass discontent bubbling underneath the surface of the working class as a whole, he noted, “There was just a lot of animosity. A lot of people are mad. And then they were messing with peoples’ rates. And even though this was a Murfreesboro incident, I think this was something going on across the nation.”

He also understood the fraud of the 15 dollar an hour wage increase, the total wage increase cost which represented just 0.001 percent of Amazon’s market capitalization. “I just think they got on the boat and got some free publicity”, he said. “The truth is, what they did was just screw long-term employees. People that had been there two years or longer, they’ve lost about five or six thousand dollars a year because they took away their stock holdings and their quarterly bonus. The way it is now, you walk in the door making $15 an hour as a new hire. If you’ve been there two years, you make $15.20 an hour. If you’ve been there three or more years, you make $15.90 an hour. So that was just another big slap in the face.

“All they did was shift money around. It didn’t cost them a dime. And they’re actually probably going to make money! They don’t even have an answer to what they’re going do with profit sharing. The last I heard was they were going to implement some kind of employee stock option. But when a guy’s making 15 bucks an hour, and your company’s stock is trading at 2,000 bucks a share, you’re wasting your time!

“The bottom line is we’re all working to better ourselves,” he concluded. “And Jeff Bezos wants to talk all his hot air about his commission programs, or college programs. I think he tries to come off as a socialist, but he’s way more of a capitalist! Don’t you think Amazon ought to be paying us $25, $30 or more dollars an hour? Well, I think [Bezos] needs to share. Without a doubt.”

This 14 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

As Jeff Bezos Earns $191K Per Minute, Why is New York & Virginia Giving Amazon $3 Billion in Corporate Welfare?

Following the announcement that Amazon will divide its second corporate headquarters between Long Island City in Queens, New York and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, press reports indicate that the online shopping and logistics giant will reap $3.3 billion in incentives from New York state and New York City alone: here.

Amazon has selected a pair of cities to host its new, expanded headquarters: Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, and Long Island City in Queens, New York. Amazon’s decision came after a 14-month search that saw cities around the U.S. promise tax breaks, taxpayer-funded infrastructure and business-friendly ordinances in an effort to win what Amazon says will be $5 billion in new investment and thousands of jobs.

Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam called the Amazon headquarter “a big win for Virginia”, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has similarly applauded Amazon’s decision.

But many local politicians have openly criticized authorities in New York and Virginia for backing the deals, which will create a total of 50,000 jobs. We host a roundtable discussion about Amazon and corporate welfare.

In New York, we speak with Ron Kim, member of the New York State Assembly. He recently co-wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times headlined “New York Should Say No to Amazon.”

In Washington, D.C., we speak with Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, a watchdog group on economic development incentives. And in Portland, Maine, we speak with Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She is the author of “Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses.”

On Tuesday, the technology giant Amazon confirmed that it would split its new headquarters, or HQ2, between two cities and announced plans to build an operations center in Nashville. HQ2 will officially be set up in the Long Island City neighborhood of New York City and in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia. … Arlington and New York City have both offered the $1 trillion corporation hefty incentives for choosing sites in their two districts: here.

The Frenzy Over Amazon’s HQ2 Should Be a National Embarrassment. After gathering data on hundreds of cities, Amazon wound up going with the home of Wall Street and the home of America’s government, two advantages no amount of money could buy: here.

Amazon Is Everything That’s Wrong With America. As the American middle class disappears, the two groups falling perilously behind are white, rural, non-college Trumpsters, and the urban poor: here.

The government’s $4.6 billion handout to Amazon: here.

US police’s Facebook spying on Black Lives Matter


This video from the USA says about itself:

Black Lives Matter Tribute (Memphis Poets)

21 March 2017

Memphis poets teamed up with Film Company Prodigi Arts to deliver a bone chilling collaboration piece. Each poet brings a different perspective to the Black Lives Matter movement. … I AM Spoken Word artist Sebastian Carson closes the poem out with a harsh reality of the black experience in America. This piece was featured for the Best In Black Awards show hosted by the Tri State Defender!

By Steve Sweeney:

Saturday, July 28, 2018

US police accused of snooping on Black Lives Matter activists via Facebook

US POLICE have been accused of spying on Black Lives Matter activists by setting up fake accounts to monitor their private Facebook activity.

According to papers released by the city of Memphis, the bogus social media accounts were used to make friends with activists from the campaign group and then collect details of those who “liked” their posts.

The spying operation was carried out by the Office of Homeland Security, which was established to combat the threat of terrorism in the wake of the September 11 2001 attacks.

The documents were made public after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee filed a lawsuit, following concerns over the monitoring of Black Lives Matter activists.

Memphis police have a history of spying on activists, including trade unionists battling for better pay in the Fight for 15 campaign.

They have been accused of compiling a watch list following a demonstration at the mayor’s home. A number of Black Lives Matter campaigners say police have monitored their homes and workplaces.

In the social media operation, officers set up a fake Facebook account under the name “Bob Smith”, which was used to gather information on activists and their friends.

One police officer admitted tracking the partner of an activist and taking details of groups they were involved in, including trade union and Palestine solidarity organisations.

Included in the released documents was a Power Point presentation marked “confidential” that detailed those who gathered at a vigil in protest at the police shooting of Memphis teenager Darrius Stewart, with the names and faces of those arrested at previous Black Lives Matter demonstrations circulated to police.

The slideshow claimed the activists were using “legitimate public venues” to promote their own agenda with the intention of causing “violence” and damage to property.

The city of Memphis denied that the actions violated the constitution and said in a statement: “No-one has been prevented from exercising their first amendment right to demonstrate, even if the demonstration took place without a permit.”

Memphis police director Michael claimed that monitoring the posts was “simply good police work.”

The ACLU said that the public had a “right to know” about spying operations and that it was committed to “ensuring that Tennesseans are able to fully exercise their free speech rights, free from fear or intimidation.”

In Memphis, Tennessee, a federal lawsuit has revealed city police are spying on an ever-growing list of activists and individuals. As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) prepares for an upcoming trial with the Memphis Police Department, new revelations about the nature and scale of the law enforcement agency’s spying operations have come to light: here.

Far-right murderer at Waffle House, Tennessee, USA


This 22 April 2018 ABC News video from the USA says about itself:

Manhunt for gunman who killed 4 people at a Tennessee restaurant

22 April 2018

Travis Reinking is still on the lam after being stopped by a patron at the restaurant.

By Martin Cizmar in the USA, 22 April 2018 at 22:07 ET:

Waffle House shooter was part of rightwing extremist movement: report

The alleged Waffle House shooter had declared himself to be part of the rightwing extremist “sovereign citizen” movement, according to USA Today.

Travis Reinking, 29, is believed to have been the shooter who killed four at a 24-hour diner outside Nashville. Reinking had been arrested outside the White House last year and had his guns taken away because he is mentally ill, according to reports.

At the White House, Reinking had declared himself a “sovereign citizen” who is not required to follow the nation’s laws.

The FBI says that sovereign citizens are “anti-government extremists who claim the federal government is operating outside its jurisdiction and they are therefore not bound by government authority—including the courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, and even law enforcement.”

Reinking’s massacre was stopped when hero James Shaw Jr. took a bullet to get the gun off him and throw it away. Shaw has said he’s not a hero—that he was just trying to save his own life and ended up saving others in the process.

Reinking is still at large in Tennessee after sunset and police believe he may be armed.

2018, the Year of the Bird


This video from the USA says about itself:

Year of the bird: Tracking TN‘s bird population

Jan. 1, 2018: Local bird enthusiasts helped track Tennessee’s population of feathered friends.

From Cornell Lab eNews in the USA, January 2018:

Welcome to the Year of the Bird

We’ve joined with National Geographic, National Audubon Society, BirdLife International, and more than 100 organizations to declare 2018 the Year of the Bird. Coinciding with the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act‘s ratification, it’s a great moment to pledge to do one thing per month to help birds. To kick off the year, we’ve collected six resolutions to help you #BirdYourWorld in 2018.

Why Birds Matter. That’s the topic of a National Geographic article by novelist and birder Jonathan Franzen. He joined Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick and Audubon’s David O’Neill for a conversation with NPR’s OnPoint radio show. Listen here.