Making the rounds the past week was this compilation of images by Roman Fedortsov, a deep-sea fisherman from Murmansk, Russia, of creatures that have wound up in his nets. Murmansk faces the Barents Sea which opens into the Arctic Ocean, but the fish were caught in a variety of locations, from the Arctic region to the coast of Morocco. There’s a reason that they appear to be not of this world: surprisingly little is actually known about what lies hidden in the dark deep recesses of the the vast majority of our ocean floors.
Plenty of animals communicate with one another, at least in a general way—wolves howl to each other, birds sing and dance to attract mates and big cats mark their territory with urine. But researchers at Tel Aviv University recently discovered that when at least one species communicates, it gets very specific. Egyptian fruit bats, it turns out, aren’t just making high pitched squeals when they gather together in their roosts. They’re communicating specific problems, reports Bob Yirka at Phys.org.
According to Ramin Skibba at Nature, neuroecologist Yossi Yovel and his colleagues recorded a group of 22 Egyptian fruit bats, Rousettus aegyptiacus, for 75 days. Using a modified machine learning algorithm originally designed for recognizing human voices, they fed 15,000 calls into the software. They then analyzed the corresponding video to see if they could match the calls to certain activities.
U2 – Remembering The Joshua Tree
Has it already been thirty years? In a Christmas day Facebook post, the band announced there’s a new album on the horizon and that 2017 will include a look back at their landmark Joshua Tree. (Via Rolling Stone)
“Happy Christmas everyone. Next year is going to be a big year for the U2 group,” Bono promised in the Facebook video, which featured the Edge playing “Little Drummer Boy.” “We have Songs of Experience coming, and to honor 30 years of The Joshua Tree, we have some very, very special shows coming.”
Some thoughts on Trump Administration policy in Latin America. From long-time Nicaragua activist Chuck Kaufman from the Alliance for Global Justice in today’s NicaNotes:
My basic conclusion is: how can it be any worse than it has been under Obama’s presidency, or would have been under Hillary Clinton’s presidency?
Since Bill Clinton, Democrats have sub-contracted US policy toward Latin America to the far-right, self-exiled, Cuban counter-revolutionaries and their legislative champions, past and present, including Jesse Helms, Robert Torricelli, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Robert Menendez, plus a raft of mid-level State Department career diplomats. Ronald Reagan created the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) “to do overtly what the CIA did covertly 25 years ago,” according to one of NED’s architects. Of course, the CIA never stopped its dirty deeds. My favorite Facebook meme currently is “What? The Russians hacked the US election? I can’t hear you over the laughter from ALL of Latin America.”
But it was Clinton who completed the make-over of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) from a bricks and mortar agency to an election manipulation agency under the guise of “democracy promotion.” That didn’t change any under Bush the Younger or Barack Obama. Indeed, Obama has been worse for Latin America than Bush was. His government continues to its last days to support the illegitimate coup government of Honduras. He supported the legislative coups in Paraguay and Brazil. He’s spent tens of millions of dollars to affect “regime change” in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and picked fights with Christina Fernandez’ government in Argentina. His State Department and USAID representatives attacked Nicaragua’s elections in a House hearing a few months ago on the perfidious NICA Act. While saying that the administration didn’t support blocking all international loans to Nicaragua, nevertheless they repeated all the right-wing talking points about why the bill should be passed.
So how could Trump make it any worse other than by sending the Marines to invade a Latin American country?
Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s going to make it any better. It is not a good sign that Trump appointed former Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly, who headed the Southern Command which projects US military might in Latin America, as head of Homeland Security. Kelly is an ideologue who ought to be brought before the International Criminal Court for torture given his treatment of prisoners at the illegal US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But, his mission at Homeland Security is to “secure US borders,” not to formulate policy toward Latin America. It is possible he might even favor policies that reduce the numbers of refugees streaming north.
Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, is, of course, an oil man, and that can’t be good. Exxon Mobil has a legal dispute with Venezuela that is not likely to indicate he’ll support normalizing relations with Maduro’s government, but on the other hand, he’s not likely to be more hostile to the Venezuelan government than is already established policy. At best, his and Trump’s attention will be turned to other parts of the world, especially improving relations with Russia, which is a good thing. History shows that Latin America thrives in periods of US inattention.