Wednesday, April 08, 2020

The moon, self-healing flowers and early crops (Science)

Did you catch the Pink Moon yesterday?

Chelsea Gould (SPACE.COM) notes:

The full moon on Tuesday night (April 7) was the biggest "supermoon" of the year and skywatchers, at least those with clear skies to see it, are thrilled.
Dubbed the "Super Pink Moon," this full moon appeared larger and brighter than usual because the moon was at perigee, or the closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit. With this ultra-close event, the moon was just 221,772 miles (356,907 kilometers) from Earth, compared to its average distance of 238,855 miles (384,400 km). The moon (while not actually pink) was at its absolute closest at 2:08 p.m. EDT (1808 GMT), about 8.5 hours before it became officially full, at 10:35 p.m. EDT (0235 GMT on April 8).

Now use that link and you can see photos of moon. Another science story I found interesting was by Matt McGrath (BBC NEWS):

Some flowers can recover with remarkable speed after a major accident, such as being walked upon by humans.
Scientists found that species including orchid and sweet pea could re-orient themselves in 10-48 hours after an injury
These plants are able to bend, twist and reposition their stems to ensure that they reproduce.
But others such as buttercups fail to bounce back after damage.

At PHYS.ORG, the University of Portsmouth notes this ability some flowers have and adds:

Professor of Ecology and Evolution Scott Armbruster, at the University of Portsmouth, published his findings in New Phytologist.

He said: "Mechanical accidents happen to plants fairly often and can, in some cases, stop the plant from being able to attract pollinating insects and so, make seeds. Making seeds and propagating is a flower's main purpose, so injuries which threaten that pose a huge problem."
The study found that bilaterally symmetrical flowers—those in which the left and right sides mirror each other, such as snapdragon, orchid, and sweet pea—can almost always restore their 'correct' orientation by moving individual flower stems or even moving the stalk that supports a cluster of flowers.
In some cases, bilaterally symmetrical flowers can accurately re-position their stigma—a sexual organ—after injury.
Plants' movement after an injury isn't only about making seeds; these plants were seen to bend or twist to make sure their leaves were again facing the Sun, necessary for photosynthesis, the process by which a plant produces its food.
Radially symmetrical flowers, star-shaped flowers, such as petunia, buttercup, and wild rose—lacked this ability and their stems rarely recovered after an injury.
Nearly all (95 per cent) of bilaterally symmetrical flowers examined moved after injury to restore the plant's ability to attract pollinators, while just four per cent of radially symmetrical flowers examined had moved post-injury. This is probably because floral orientation is usually more important for the efficient pollination of bilaterally symmetrical flowers than radially symmetrical ones.
"This little-known aspect of plant evolution is fascinating and tells us much more than we previously knew about how plants behaviourally adapt to changes in their environment, including mechanical accidents," Professor Armbruster said.

I like flowers. I have orchids in my bedroom. Not cut, an orchid plant. I love non-flowering plants as well. And I love cut flowers. They all make wonderful accents and brighten up a room. And, of course, my daughter with the green thumb loves plants and is already started on her vegetable garden. Gardening has been around for years -- though my daughter might not believe it, gardening is older than I am. However, it's interesting to realize how far it may actually go back. And we're going back to Matt McGrath and BBC NEWS for this story:

Far from being a pristine wilderness, some regions of the Amazon have been profoundly altered by humans dating back 10,000 years, say researchers.
An international team found that during this period, crops were being cultivated in a remote location in what is now northern Bolivia.
The scientists believe that the humans who lived here were planting squash, cassava and maize.
The inhabitants also created thousands of artificial islands in the forest.
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, saw a sustained rise in global temperatures that initiated many changes around the world.
Perhaps the most important of these was that early civilisations began to move away from living as hunter-gatherers and started to cultivate crops for food.

That's pretty incredible. I knew maize, and love it, and squash. But cassava is something I had to look up: "the starchy tuberous root of a tropical tree, used as food in tropical countries but requiring careful preparation to remove traces of cyanide from the flesh." I love corn. My favorite is corn on the cob. But I like corn anyway -- frozen, canned, you name it. But I love squash. My parents plant squash and it grows and grows and grows. So I grew up on yellow squash. We had it every way you can think of including pickled. My favorite thing to do when I'm homesick is to grab two yellow squash, cut them into small circles and grill them after spreading some minced garlic on the tops. I don't know what my favorite vegetable is. I grew up eating them all.

I think this would be my favorites in order -- I'll just do ten.

1) Squash
2) Black eyed peas
3) Tomatoes (I know it's a fruit, whatever)
4) Corn
5) Bell peppers
6) Cucumbers
7) Celery
8) Avocados
9) Okra
10) Artichokes

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Wednesday, April 8, 2020.  The hypocrite that is Alyssa Milano, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks Iraq, and more.

Starting in the United States with the allegations against Joe Biden.  Baby Jane Hudson herself, Alyssa Milano, stuck her nose in it to defend Joe Biden and no one believes her.  She is the portrait of hypocrisy.  And people are noticing it.

Farron Cousins (RING OF FIRE).

Krystal Ball.

Some are surprised that Alyssa Milano is rushing to attack Tara Reade -- that was an attack -- and claiming that she (Alyssa) and Times Up engaged in a smear campaign against Tara -- that's what she's saying.  Why be surprised?

Whore's gotta whore, right?  That's all she is and all she ever was.

Rose McGowan has long called Alyssa out.  We've long called her out here.  Yes, I know Illeana Douglas.  But I wouldn't have been silent regardless.  Alyssa was.  She didn't want to speak out against Leslie Moonves because, at the time, she was trying to get her pilot sold to THE CW.  It didn't get sold.  And she never spoke out against Leslie Moonves.  Just like she stayed silent on Harvey Weinstein and then, after he was disgraced, she was offering defenses of his wife.  Remember that?  Maybe not.

Do you remember Lucy Flores?  She went public in April about Joe's inappropriate actions.  Did Alyssa call Joe out then?  Nope.  She rushed to defend Joe.  That's not the Joe she knows.  We called her nonsense out in the April 2, 2019 snapshot.

Whore's gotta whore and that's all you need to know about Alyssa Milano.

Robby Soave (REASON) observes:

Milano also explained that she would be remaining quiet about the accusation in part because "the mainstream media would be jumping all over this…if they found more evidence." The implication being that the failure of mainstream media to do reporting on the Reade allegation means that it ought to be doubted and dismissed.
This speaks to the power of silence: The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and other media outlets generally trusted by moderates and liberals have all refused to cover Reade's story. Indeed, thus far they have essentially pretended that it does not exist, declining to acknowledge Reade in the most basic way and refusing to question Biden about it, even in interviews with the candidate. This mainstream media blackout has evidently provided cover to people like Milano, allowing them to ignore an inconvenient political development.
Yet it's difficult to see the media's treatment of this story as anything other than blatant hypocrisy because there's nothing novel about the Biden accusation when compared to the Kavanaugh accusation. At the time of Milano's tweet in support of Ford, there was no evidence of Kavanaugh's guilt beyond what Ford had claimed in her statements (and little corroborating evidence of Ford's claims ever materialized, given how long ago the incident had unfolded). The Reade allegation is at exactly the same stage: She is speaking up about what happened to her, and asking to be believed. But this time, Milano—who attended an anti-Kavanaugh rally while draped in a banner that read, quite literally, "believe women"—thinks it's not enough.

At COMMON DREAMS, Anthony Zenkus takes on the hatchet job Amanda Racist Marcotte did last week:

Despite the veracity with which news outlets jumped on the Blasey-Ford allegations, the media has been slow to acknowledge Reade’s story. Amanda Marcotte, in her March 31 piece in Salon, tries to present a case for the media’s hesitation, but ends up using the excuses of Reade’s detractors to muddy the waters and lessen the impact these allegations should have. Marcotte subtly points out that Reade only worked for Biden “briefly,” as if that’s somehow a factor in likelihood or severity of an assault. She points out that there were no witnesses, which is true; perpetrators rarely violate victims in front of others, although Biden’s personal boundary issues are available in numerous instances for anyone to see. Marcotte claims Reade’s story has “changed over time.” It has not. Details have been included now that Reade wasn’t comfortable including in the past. 
Finally, Marcotte slams Reade for tweeting a post supportive of Russia. Why would this matter? Anyone can get raped, even people who like countries Marcotte and others find distasteful. Questioning from a place of understanding is one thing, feeding into rape-culture narrative is another. It is imperative to understand the difference. 
It is important to understand why the term rape applies here. According to the Department of Justice in their expanded definition of rape, penetration of the body by anything, including fingers or an object, meets the standard. This is what Joe Biden has been accused of. It is serious, and it is disturbing. 

Yes, Tara Reade took decades to tell her whole story to the public. Yes, we are in the middle of a contentious primary season and a presidential election with much on the line. And, yes, allegations of sexual assault or rape against the current leader in the Democratic primaries are inconvenient. But rape is even more inconvenient. I have learned this from the courageous survivors I have known throughout my professional career and in my personal life. It happens when you least expect it. It is intrusive, disruptive and life altering. Survivors do not get to choose when they are violated, but they do get to choose when and how they come forward.

Over at THE AMERICAN PROSPECT, Alexander Sammon warns that while the corporate media may be happy to ignore the rape allegation, were Joe to be the party's nominee, you can be sure Donald Trump will not ignore the allegation:

[. . .] the current approach of the Biden camp and its Democratic operatives, to issue one statement and place the burden on the media to do their invalidating for them, is an extremely short-sighted and ill-advised approach. Whether the Biden campaign likes it or not, Reade’s allegation is certain to factor into the general election, where Trump is likely to harp on it repeatedly, muddying the waters and giving the media something else to fixate on besides his tragic pandemic preparation mistakes that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. The Biden campaign’s lack of a proactive or meaningful response could look like political malpractice in the not-too-distant future.

This was not Reade’s first public accusation regarding Biden’s conduct toward female colleagues. Last year, several women came forward publicly to say Joe Biden had kissed or touched them in ways that made them uncomfortable—Reade was among them. But the highest-profile accuser at that point was Lucy Flores, a former candidate for lieutenant governor of Nevada, who catalogued in a March 2019 essay for The Cut that Biden had behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner toward her at a campaign event in 2014. Biden eventually cut a video expressing a newfound appreciation for personal space (though Flores herself didn’t see it as an apology).

She didn't see it as an apology because it wasn't an apology.  See that April 4, 2019 snapshot:

In the two minute video, he speaks a lot about himself and offers a hell of a lot of justifications.

He does not, however, manage to utter the words "I'm sorry" or "I made a mistake and I apologize."

I find the video to be utter crap.  Joe needs a better team if they think that was gong to cut it.  It's not going to.

And what happened one day after his 'apology'?  He made it clear how fake it was.

 Apr 5

The message that Joe Biden’s comments sent women and girls today was that if you set boundaries and speak out when you’re uncomfortable, men will turn it into a joke.

Oh, it was all so funny.

Lucy didn't see it as an apology because it wasn't an apology.  He never apologized and then less than 24 hours later, he was on stage in front a group of mainly men and making jokes about it.

Turning to Iraq, Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

The US and Iraq will hold “strategic” talks in June to review their military and economic relations, as tensions escalate between Washington and Tehran.

The dialogue will centre on the future of US troops stationed in the country after a series of attacks by Iranian-backed armed groups on US troops in Iraq.

From US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's press briefing yesterday:

SECRETARY POMPEO: Finally, one announcement with respect to Iraq.
As a force for good in the nation and as Iraq’s closest friend, the United States has proposed a Strategic Dialogue with the Government of Iraq to be held in middle of June.
With the global COVID-19 pandemic ranging and plummeting all revenues, threatening an Iraqi economic collapse, it’s important that our two governments work together to stop any reversal of the gains we’ve made in our efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the country.

The Strategic Dialogue will be led by my Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale.  And all strategic issues between our two countries will be on the agenda, including the future presence of the United States forces in that country, and how best to support an independent and sovereign Iraq.

MS ORTAGUS:  Nadia, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Nadia Bilbassy with Al Arabiya Television.  Good morning, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Hi, good to see you.

QUESTION:  I have two questions.  On Iran first, despite your effort to dry up money that Iran is spending on its proxies, Hizballah emerged as the party in Lebanon now that provided services and helping people during this crisis with corona.  How do you counter this message?
And on Iraq, Kata’ib Hizballah threatened that they are not going to – they are going to veto, actually, any nominated prime minister of Iraq.  Do you take this threat seriously?  Do they have any weight on deciding who’s going to be the prime minister?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So all the voices in Iraq will have some weight on who will be the next prime minister.  I hope the most important voice there isn’t Kata’ib Hizballah, it isn’t AAH, it’s not terrorists.  I hope it’s the Iraqi people who have the ultimate say.  What we’ve said consistently about the Iraqi political process is very simple:  A leader who is put forward, who’s prepared to engage in the reforms, that will build out a sovereign, independent Iraq on behalf of the Iraqi people and move away from the old sectarian model that ended up with terror and corruption – any leader that’s put forward that will do that, the United States is happy to support.  And that’s the gold standard; it’s what we need.  It’s what, frankly, the Iraqi people need.  It’s why we want to have the strategic dialogue, is that we want to begin to engage, to take down violence, to take down risks, to take down the threat from a resurgence of terror there.
That’s the – when you talk about who will decide who the next leader is, our mission has been – is to make sure that that next leader is reflected in what it is you see the people who were protesting before the virus broke out, the people who were protesting all across Iraq, demanding – a different political path forward.  So I’m sure the Kata’ib Hizballah folks will try to have their say.  I am hopeful that it will be the Iraqi people who will ultimately decide who the next leader will be.

QUESTION:  On Iran, sir, and Hizballah?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah.  We were in a big hole.  The previous administration gave the Iranians a whole lot of money, and we have done remarkable work to deny the regime the resources they need to continue to carry out their terror campaign.  You describe a situation in Lebanon, I think, or perhaps in Syria where Hizballah’s operating.  I can tell you this:  Hizballah has fewer dollars today to engage in nefarious activity than they did when President Trump took office, and they will continue to have fewer dollars tomorrow until they fundamentally get the Iranian regime to change its model, the model that says we’re going to use resources – resources that could right now be going for the Iranian people to help take care of them when they’re in a health crisis themself, right – we’re going to use those resources to take weaponry into Iraq, to underwrite Hizballah and Lebanon and threaten Israel, all of the things that the Iranians have engaged in for so long, even in this crisis the Iranian regime hasn’t ceased doing, that’s most unfortunate.  It’s unfortunate for the people of Lebanon, it’s unfortunate for the people of Syria, it’s unfortunate for the people of Iraq – you referred to Kata’ib Hizballah before this – and it’s really unfortunate for the people of Iran.

We hope that the people of Iran one day will get a regime with a change in outlook, a change which says, “No, we want to respect what the Iranian people truly want.”  And when they do that, that’ll be a fantastic thing, and we will reduce the threat that Iran will ever chase a nuclear weapon in the way that they were on a path toward chasing under the previous administration.

Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) observes, "That talks are being planned may suggest the US believes the current Iraqi interim government will not push the issue too much, though anti-government protesters have wanted all foreign troops out, particularly US and Iranian, and they’ll likely object if the talks don’t address this in a serious way."  Ditz would do well to stick to facts.  A "unanimous" vote in Parliament back in January?  The Kurds and Sunnis boycotted that session.  Just because the vote was what you wanted -- I want that too -- doesn't mean we pretend it was the vote of Parliament.  It was back in January, you need to provide context or just leave it out.

The following sites updated: