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You should read this for 4/3/2021:
Art, Music, and Film
H/T Anne Leckie: Berlin’s plan to return Benin bronzes piles pressure on UK museums
Berlin is negotiating to fully restitute hundreds of the Benin bronzes in a shift of policy that has been welcomed in Nigeria but will put pressure on museums in London and Oxford to also return artefacts looted from Britain’s former west African empire in 1897.
More than 500 historical objects including 440 bronzes from the Kingdom of Benin, in what is now southern Nigeria, are held at the Ethnological Museum in the German capital. Half of the collection was due to go on display this autumn at the Humboldt Forum, a newly opened museum of non-European art in the city centre.
More museums need to do this.
The royal family has a history of acquiring looted objects, so its exemption from a law protecting cultural heritage raises questions
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fired most members of the department’s independent advisory council on Friday, a purge that included several allies of former president Donald Trump and veteran officials who served under both parties.
Former Department of Homeland Security officials and advisory board members who worked under Democratic and Republican administrations said they could not remember so many members being dismissed at once, as the general practice of past administrations was to allow appointees to serve out their terms before replacing them.
“Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over,” Biden said of the Georgia statute. “It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters.”
Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language
Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey has apologised for “harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery” in one of his graphic novels for children, which has been withdrawn by his publisher amid a surge in anti-Asian violence in the US.
Jon Udell: Original memories
Climate Change | Climate Repair
Japan’s famous cherry blossoms have reached their flowery peak in many places earlier this year than at any time since records began nearly 70 years ago, and experts say climate change is the probable cause
Coronavirus | COVID-19
ast year, four days after the first recorded Covid-19 death in the United States was reported in Kirkland, Washington, just east of Seattle, Microsoft leaders jumped into action – recommending that their employees in the area work from home. Two days later, Amazon made a similar declaration.
Combined, their announcements affected more than 100,000 employees in this Pacific north-west tech hub and came days before the Washington state governor’s first major Covid mandate and more than a week before the US president declared an emergency for Covid.
Covid-19 probably passed to humans from a bat via an intermediary animal, an international expert mission to China has concluded in a report, with investigators all but ruling out a laboratory leak.
The intermediate host hypothesis was deemed “likely to very likely”, while the theory that the virus escaped from a lab was considered “extremely unlikely”, according to a copy of the long-awaited final report seen by AFP on Monday before its official release.
Food and Drink
Working with a small team, he secured permission to rent 500 square metres of seabed in the bay of Plentzia on Spain’s north coast, sinking specially designed structures capable of storing wine while also acting as an artificial reef. Winemakers across the country soon joined in the experiment, sending bottles of wine for Saracho to plunge into the sea.
The results transformed Saracho into a proponent of underwater ageing and culminated in the launch of Crusoe Treasure, one of Spain’s largest underwater wineries, in 2010. “It was astounding,” he said. “The wines’ evolution underwater was very distinct from what would happen with the same grape on land.”
History and Archaeology
In December, the historian Monica Green published a landmark article, The Four Black Deaths, in the American Historical Review, that rewrites our narrative of this brutal and transformative pandemic. In it, she identifies a “big bang” that created four distinct genetic lineages that spread separately throughout the world and finds concrete evidence that the plague was already spreading from China to central Asia in the 1200s. This discovery pushes the origins of the Black Death back by over a hundred years, meaning that the first wave of the plague was not a decades-long explosion of horror, but a disease that crept across the continents for over a hundred years until it reached a crisis point.
The ceremonial complex, which dates to 3,800 BC, may have been a cursus monument – a cathedral-style complex of its day that was built by the surrounding community and visited in large numbers for ritual activity.
Archaeologists discovered a line of early Neolithic postholes rising up along a ridge towards an artificial hill, Droughduil Mound, which has views over Luce Bay.
H/T Lisa Carnell: Iron Age warriors were laid to rest on fluffy down pillows
Archaeologists have found the remains of downy pillows in the graves of two high-ranking Iron Age warriors in Sweden, dating to the 600s and 700s CE. Both warriors were buried in large boats, along with weapons, food, and horses. Down from the pillows suggests locally sourced stuffing that may have had a symbolic meaning to the people preparing the burial.
Politics and Society
Poverty in America has become a death sentence.
Meanwhile, the people on top have never had it so good. The top 1% now own more wealth than the bottom 92%, and the 50 wealthiest Americans own more wealth than the bottom half of American society – 165 million people. While millions of Americans have lost their jobs and incomes during the pandemic, over the past year 650 billionaires have seen their wealth increase by $1.3tn.
Science and Nature
Conservationists are celebrating the rediscovery as “incredibly significant”, with the elusive reptile not seen for more than a decade – and only twice ever.
The Cupola gecko was first documented in 1968, in scrub above the Cupola Hut in the Travers Range. Nearly 40 years after that first sighting, one was spotted in another part of the Nelson Lakes national park in 2007.
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https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/ubiquiti-cyberattack-may-be-far-worse-than-originally-disclosed/ See also: Ubiquiti is accused of covering up a ‘catastrophic’ data breach — and it’s not denying it
Change your passwords, and enable 2-factor authorization.
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The head of the Michigan GOP came under fire Friday for calling three female Democratic leaders “witches” to be burned “at the stake” and for mentioning “assassination” as an option for how to oust two Republican congressmen who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump.
State GOP Chairman Ron Weiser’s rhetoric, which was captured on video this week, was rebuked by Michigan Democrats as “sexist” and “dangerous” and led members of the University of Michigan Board of Regents to call for his resignation from the governing board. Included in Weiser’s “three witches” comment was Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), the target of a foiled kidnapping plot last year amid virulent criticism from her political opponents.
Female Expression in a 15th-Century Manuscript “A new Getty acquisition features stories about women for the Queen of France”
Pay It Forward and Make It Better
Young man with autism pens viral employment letter: ‘take a chance on me’ I’ve had a number of students who are autistic. Typically they’ve discovered how they learn best, and are adept at learning under those conditions, and eager to learn. Every single one of them was an asset in the classroom in terms of contributing and their kindness to other students, and a hard worker.
A giant “sandcastle” has been constructed to encourage sand martins to nest at a nature reserve for the first time in 25 years, Surrey Wildlife Trust has said.
The 400-tonne sand installation at Spynes Mere, near Merstham, Surrey, was built by professional sand sculptors who used a “giant bucket mould” made from wooden boards, as well as the help of diggers and dumper trucks.
Sand martins visit the nature reserve when they migrate from sub-Saharan Africa each year, arriving from mid-March to feed until September, but they have not nested there for 25 years.
H/T @annagenoese: The
Ali Forney Center Amazon Wish List
The Ali Forney Center is the nation’s largest homeless LGBT youth services provider. We rely on the support of the community to provide New York City’s homeless LGBT youth with the resources they need to reclaim their lives and live independently. This wish list is for items to serve our youth. Most items are for basic needs: socks, underwear, and T-Shirts. From time-to-time we will have special needs (monitors, DVD’s, Books). To learn more about our work please visit www.aliforneycenter.org or you can call us at 212-206-9349. Thank you for your support — Please note: Any purchase you make off of this list is tax deductible. You can save your amazon receipt along with an AFC acknowledgement letter for tax purposes.
Stuff I Wrote
The reintroduction efforts there have largely been led by the Yurok Tribe, whose ancestral land encompasses large swaths of forest and coastline in northern California and parts of Redwood national park that were once home to the condor.
The tribe has planned for the bird’s return for over a decade, and its proposal was accepted on 24 March by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Through close collaboration with Redwood national park, the tribe will begin the creation of a captive breeding facility within the boundaries of the park. The facility will house captive-bred condors that could be released into the park as early as this fall.
Video with sound. H/T Scof: Bearenting
Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.