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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
January 22, 2021

Thanks to a new fossil discovery, we suddenly know a lot more about dinosaur sex

(Salon) No one predicted that January 2021 would be a banner month for dinosaur news. Last week an article in the scholarly journal Cretaceous Research revealed that dinosaur bones in Argentina may have belonged to a creature so massive that it would have been the largest land animal know to have existed. Now a study published in the journal Current Biology gives us an up close look at these animals — namely, at their butts.

A team of scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of Massachusetts Amherst revealed that they had discovered and described in detail a dinosaur's cloaca — that is, a vent in the animal's posterior that would have been the dinosaur's equivalent of an anus, urethra and genitalia — based on a fossil that had distinctly preserved the skin patterns of a Psittacosaurus, a dog-sized dinosaur related to the Triceratops. Unlike bones, soft tissue does not usually preserve well over millions of years; hence, lacking any preserved organs or skin tissue, much of dinosaur anatomy and behavior has been a mystery. That makes this discovery of a cloaca a genuinely interesting clue that tells us more about dinosaur behavior, including mating.

"The cloaca is a multi-purpose opening that is used for everything that you do opposite of your mouth: peeing, pooping, having sex, laying eggs," Dr. Jakob Vinther, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol, told Salon. "Most of these animals have penises, except for some of the dinosaurs' descendants. Amongst birds you don't find penises so often. They do something else called cloacal kissing, where they basically put their cloacal openings up against each other and then they just vibrate until some sperm is released and that is absorbed by the female's cloaca. The question is, what would dinosaurs be doing?"

Until recently, paleontologists could only guess. ..............(more)


January 21, 2021

Biden repeals Trump's Muslim travel ban that hit Michigan hard

(Detroit Free Press) Muslims and Arab Americans in metro Detroit cheered the repeal of the Muslim travel ban Wednesday by the administration of President Joe Biden, a move they hope will signal a change in how the U.S. government deals with their communities.

"It's long overdue," said Abdulhakem Alsadah, president of the Dearborn-based National Association of Yemeni-Americans and chair of the Yemeni American Civil Rights Coalition.

"We're excited. Imagine being separated from your family for so along. ... It's been truly tough for us, especially the Yemeni-Americans. This releases us from a lot of agony."


Michigan, which has one of the largest Middle Eastern populations in the U.S. and a growing African immigrant community, was hit especially hard by the administration of the previous president, which had issued orders and made other changes that cracked down on immigration. ..........(more)


January 21, 2021

Yesterday I watched all the ceremonial inaugural walking and waving on TV, which I never do.......

..... today on the morning news shows, discussions of policy and the administration's plans for dealing with a myriad of issues.

Never has the banality of normalcy been so compelling.

January 21, 2021

Never Take Normal For Granted Again

Never Take Normal For Granted Again
Trump’s grotesque farewell speeches make it easier to appreciate Biden’s simple inaugural address.


(Slate) Over the past four years, many Americans forgot how it felt to have a president who preached and practiced basic decency. Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday changed that. We’re hearing a normal president say normal things. And as we hear them, the perversity of Donald Trump’s behavior stands out more clearly. By traditional standards, Biden’s inaugural address was unremarkable. But when you compare it to the twisted farewell speeches Trump delivered on Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s shocking to remember that for four years, Trump was the president of the United States.

In his address, Biden preached modesty and compassion. “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy,” he said. He asked Americans to “show a little tolerance and humility” to their neighbors, “to stand in the other person’s shoes.” Trump, by contrast, celebrated himself and his putative superiority. “I came to Washington as the only true outsider ever to win the presidency,” he declared. He portrayed public service as a grievous burden on his wealthy family: “They could have had a much easier life.” He boasted, falsely, that he had won “75 million votes, and that’s a record in the history of sitting presidents.” He thanked himself, not scientists, for developing coronavirus vaccines. “Another administration would have taken three, four, five, maybe even up to 10 years to develop a vaccine,” he claimed absurdly. “We did it in nine months.”

Biden promised to “set aside politics” and focus on doing the job. Trump focused instead on his image and on shifting blame. “The vets have given us an approval rating like has never been before,” he bragged. Anything good that might happen under Biden was really Trump’s doing, said the outgoing president: “You’re going to see incredible numbers start coming in, if everything is sort of left alone … Remember us when you see these things happening.” As to the 400,000 Americans who had died of COVID during his tenure, Trump devoted his remarks not to mourning them but to denying responsibility. “Nobody blames us for that. The whole world got hit,” he argued. He called it “the China virus” and said, “We all know where it came from.”


Trump is gone from the White House, and most of us are glad to be rid of him. We’d rather not think about him anymore. But before we close that door, it’s important to recover our sense of perspective. The daily viciousness, callousness, and contempt we experienced for those four years wasn’t normal. What’s normal is what we’re seeing now. Don’t ever take it for granted again. ...........(more)


January 21, 2021

Trump Reveals Extent of Pandemic Damage to Business Empire

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s empire has been hit hard by coronavirus closures, with revenue from his Washington and Las Vegas hotels down by more than half.

In his last financial disclosure form as president, Trump detailed the damage the pandemic has wrought, at a time when many tourism businesses are suffering from a lack of travelers. As president, the real-estate magnate resisted policies to to slow the pandemic through mask-wearing, and insisted it remained safe for people to travel domestically.

Revenue from the Trump hotel in Washington, which he had been trying to sell, fell to $15.1 million from $40.5 million a year earlier, according to the disclosure posted Wednesday. In Vegas, hotel-related sales were down to $9.2 million from $23.3 million. Another important property of Trump’s, the Doral Golf Resort in Miami, also saw revenues drop to $44 million from $77 million a year earlier. ............(more)


January 21, 2021

Son of Michigan ex-lawmaker arrested; feds say he joined Capitol insurrection

(Detroit News) The first known arrest in a federal criminal case for a Michigan resident stemming from the Capitol riot earlier this month was filed Tuesday against an Upper Peninsula resident whose father served in the state Legislature three decades ago.

Karl Dresch of Calumet made his first official court appearance from Marquette Wednesday before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Maarten Vermaat. He had been arrested by an FBI special agent after a Tuesday traffic stop in Calumet.

Dresch faces three charges in relation to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Vermaat said. The charges include knowingly entering or remaining in restricted grounds without lawful authority as well as impeding or disrupting official functions, a one-year misdemeanor carrying up to $100,000 in fines. The other charge is violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, a 6-month misdemeanor carrying an up to $5,000 fine.


Karl Dresch is the son of former state lawmaker Rep. Stephen Dresch, R-Hancock, according to public records. Dresch, who passed away in 2006, served in the state House of Representatives from 1990-92, when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress. ............(more)


January 21, 2021

The pandemic will end someday. The trauma will linger

The pandemic will end someday. The trauma will linger
Even after the pandemic has been contained, humanity will struggle to shed misinformation and cope with trauma

JANUARY 20, 2021 11:59PM

(Salon) Ever since Pfizer and Moderna announced the development of successful COVID-19 vaccines, the end of the pandemic has been in sight. It has been a heinous ordeal — at the time of this writing, more than 2 million people have died worldwide of the disease, including more than 400,000 in the United States — and slow vaccine distribution means uncertainty still lies ahead.

Yet even if all goes well and we do manage to contain the pandemic in the near future, there will be lasting psychological consequences for the humans who suffered through it.

Intriguingly, not all of them will be negative, as Dr. Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, told Salon.

"The pandemic has made everybody concerned about their health. And I think that once the pandemic passes, that concern will continue, which is a good thing rather than a bad thing," Langer explained. She cited as an example how people might be more conscientious when they display flu-like symptoms.


"This will take generations to get past," Dr. David Reiss, psychiatrist in private practice and expert in mental fitness evaluations, told Salon. "And that's because at every stage of development, things have been disrupted, whether you're talking about like my two-year-old grandchild who somehow has to understand seeing family members in masks, to four and five-year-old kids who are just starting to socialize, to adolescents who can't socialize and all through different stages of life." Reiss said as an adult in his sixties he felt deeply affected. ..............(more)


January 21, 2021

The White Supremacist, err, 1776 Commission has been wiped from the WH website....

.... and vanquished to the port-a-potty of history.

January 20, 2021

Stephen Miller Used the White House to Enshrine Racist Terror

(Jezebel) Just days before the end of Trump’s presidency and on the holiday celebrating the life of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr, the Trump administration released the 1776 Commission, a document compiled by 18 conservative thinkers and activists that argues Americans are being indoctrinated by left-wing extremism and misinformation about the nation’s founding. In other words, not enough American exceptionalism, too much identity politics. It managed to compare progressivism to fascism, criticize the civil rights movement while whitewashing King’s revolutionary legacy, and bemoan critiques against the nation’s slave-owning founding fathers in one odious 41-page document, one that the Trump administration is using as a call to promote “patriotic education” across the nation.

In a briefing, the White House described the 1776 Commission—an obvious response to the New York Times’ unnecessarily controversial 1619 Project—as a “rebuttal of reckless ‘re-education’ attempts that seek to reframe American history around the idea that the United States is not an exceptional country but an evil one.”

This was Stephen Miller’s last hurrah.

Ask the average American to identify Miller, and they’d likely draw a blank. That’s not entirely surprising: The 35-year-old senior policy advisor for President Trump wasn’t one for the spotlight, preferring to work behind the scenes and only granting the occasional interview during his tenure. But his white nationalist politics have made for some of the most consequential facets of the Trump presidency and its detrimental legacy. ..........(more)


January 20, 2021

Man arrested after threatening to 'go out in a blaze of glory' during Biden's inauguration: report

Authorities allege that a man arrested in Pennsylvania for making threats against Joe Biden said he would "go out in a blaze of glory" on Inauguration Day, the Bucks County Courier Times reports.

"On Tuesday, Kris John Kinsey, 61, was arraigned on charges alleging he made threats to Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, their supporters, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Kinsey, of Nockamixon, is charged with a felony of prohibited possession of a firearm, as well as misdemeanor offenses of possessing an instrument of crime, making terroristic threats and drug charges," the newspaper reported.

"State police said Kinsey was arrested in a wooded area in the 700 block of Sunday Road in Durham on Friday morning. Kinsey was wanted out of Elyria, Ohio, on charges alleging he made threats to government officials on his Facebook page, according to authorities. Elyria is a city about 30 miles southwest of Cleveland. He was arraigned on his Ohio charges and sent to Bucks County Prison in lieu of 10% of $4.6 million bail," the newspaper explained. "Pennsylvania State Police filed their own charges with the same allegations Monday." ...........(more)


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