Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The third eye -- and the fourth

The third eye.  Every wish you had one? Mystical or for real?  Afraid you might end up like the group Third Eye Blind.  Turns out we can find a lizard that had not two eyes, not three but four.

Allan Adamson (TECH TIMES) reports:

A long-tailed monitor lizard with four eyes that walked the Earth about 49 million years ago offers researchers new insights about the lizard's "third eye."

The remains of the now-extinct animal known as Saniwa ensidens was found nearly 150 years ago in the Bridger Basin in Wyoming, but it was not until recently that a closer look at the fossils revealed its surprising features.
In a study, which was published in the journal Current Biology on Monday, April 2, researchers used computed tomography (CT) scanner to study the reptile's fossils and found that the lizard did not only have a regular pair of eyes.
It also featured a third eye, a structure called the pineal organ, and a fourth eye, also known as the parapineal organ.

So what did these third and fourth eyes do?  Tibi Puiu (ZME SCIENCE) explains:

It used to be common among primitive lower vertebrates to have a ‘third eye’, a socket in the skull known as the pineal organ. As with a regular eye, the pineal eye is made up of a cornea, a lens, and a retina. However, unlike conventional eyes that can discern sharp features, a pineal eye is far more limiting, being only able to detect changes in brightness. ‘Now it’s dark; now it’s sunny,’ the third-eye tells the creature. Many existing reptiles such as monitor lizards, some iguanas, and the tuatara still have a pineal eye.
Of course, a pair of eyeballs can also inform a creature whether’s it’s dark or light outside, so what’s the point of having an awesome third eye? Research shows that in reptiles, the pineal eye acts more as a calendar, sensing when days are growing shorter and nights longer, informing the brain of seasonal fluctuations. The third eye may also aid in orientation. Our early pre-mammalian ancestors all had a third-eye, researchers think, but over the course of evolutionary history, it has since been discarded with the pineal organ being incorporated in the endocrine system.
There’s also a fourth eye-like photosensory structure known as the parapineal organ, and today lampreys form eyes from both structures. But when researchers at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Germany analyzed two specimens of the ancient monitor lizard Saniwa ensiden, which were collected during the 19th century in Wyoming, they were amazed to find that this ancient creature had both pineal and parapineal organs.

That's pretty interesting.  Yes, I'm trying to continue to do at least one science post a week because I agree with Betty that we need more science in our lives. 

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, April 3, 2018.  Elections in Iraq are approaching and predictions are being made.

This morning, WORLD BULLETIN reports:

A total of 374 would-be candidates will be excluded from Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary polls due to previous associations with the now-defunct Baath Party, according to Iraq’s Justice and Accountability Commission.
In a Monday statement, the commission said it had finished vetting the names of 7,367 potential candidates, 374 of whom had been found to have links with the outlawed party, which ruled Iraq under deposed President Saddam Hussein.

The Justice and Accountability Commission was supposed to have been sent packing long ago.  In fact, ending de-Ba'athification and moving to national reconciliation was one of the benchmarks the Iraqi government was supposed to meet in order to continue receiving US financial and military support.  But that was when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House.  These days, they don't even pretend.  And, let's be clear, the benchmarks were a pretense.  The only one who took them seriously in the US Congress was US House Rep Lloyd Doggett.  He expected them to be met or support to be cut off.  Others in Congress didn't even pretend to care.

May 12th is when Iraq is supposed to hold the latest round of elections.

Dropping back to last Friday's CSIS podcast, where Anthony Cordesman and pollster Dr. Munqith Dagher discussed Iraq's upcoming elections. Using the data pool of those who intend to vote (likely voters), Dagher predicts that Hayder al-Abadi's Al-Nasr will win 72 seats in the Parliament, al-Fath (the militias) will get 37 seats, Sa'eroon (Moqtada al-Sadr's new grouping) will get 27 seats, Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law will get 19 seats, al-Salam will get 18 seats (KDP and PUK parties for the Kurds), Ayad Allawi's Wataniya will get 15 seats. There are others but Dagher did not predict double digits for any of the other seats.  The number are similar for the group of those who are extremely likely to vote (Hayder's seats would jump from 72 to 79 seats).

These are predictions and the election's over a month out (May 12th).  Even if the predictions are accurate, many things could change by the time elections roll around.  In 2010, many pollsters were predicting a big victory for Nouri al-Maliki.  Not only did he not have a big victory at the polls, he did not even have a victory.  Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya won in 2010.

If Dagher's current predictions should prove to be accurate, no single party will win enough seats to form a government and will have to enter arrangements with other parties.

Who will?

That's where it always gets confusing.  There's the law and then there's the Iraqi courts.  The party with the most seats in Parliament is supposed to get first crack at forming a government.  After the 2010 March election, Nouri pulled out a court verdict that none of the other parties knew about and presented it as law.

If the laws and rules are followed this go round and if Dagher's predictions ended up accurate, Hayder al-Abadi would have first crack at forming a government.  He would need to enter alliances with other groups.  You need 163 seats in the Parliament to govern.

And for 2018, what's expected?  Per Dagher, forming the government after the election will not come quickly, "It will take a long time.  It will take quiet a long time."  He did not reference 2010 but he did say he was basing this on the 2014 post-election process.  2010, of course, took eight months following the election for a government to be formed.

Corruption and jobs are the two biggest issues potential voters cite for how they will determine whom to vote for.  That explains Hayder's low turnout.  (Low?  In 2010, Ayad Allawi's group won 91 seats.)  Hayder has not reduced -- let alone ended -- corruption and job creation has not been present in Iraq.  Of course, many who do have jobs in Iraq have a different problem: getting paid for their work.

Ferhad Dolemeri (RUDAW) reports, "Kurdish farmers filed a complaint at Iraq's administrative court in Baghdad against the trade minister as part of their continued demands for not providing full compensation for their last four years of crops sold to Baghdad."

Dagher is not the only one making predictions about the upcoming elections.

will lose at least 13 seats, retain presidency in elections: official

There is a lot of energy vested in the US State Dept -- therefore also in the US press -- for this round of elections to be seen as a success and a confirmation of something.  But the spin suffered a blow this week when Mohamed Haidar resigned as Vice Chair of the Elections Committee.

Hi This is what your representatives are going in Iraq. There were fairer Iraq FA elections under Saddam & his son Uday. How about FIFA do something about these violations? Setting up their own elections and omitting any nominees they want!

Let's move over to Kurdistan.

Turkey is destroying what little infrastructure we have here in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq with almost daily air strikes

Turkey is not offering repayment for their bombings.  That the Iraqi government is not speaking out about the destruction of northern Iraq goes to a lack of will and a lack of support.  RUDAW reports:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Baghdad that Ankara will not wait for permission to extend its war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) into Iraqi territory.

Erdogan, speaking at the opening ceremony for a number of new schools and gymnasiums in Istanbul on Monday, said PKK fighters may flee across international borders, but they cannot hide from the Turkish armed forces.

What is he talking about?  He's stating he will not coordinate with the Iraqi government and, specifically, he is rebuffing the US government.

At last Thursday's US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert voiced the position of the US government:

QUESTION: Could you clarify the situation in Sinjar? The PKK says it’s left. Turkey is still making threats. What’s the situation there, as far as you know?

MS NAUERT: Right. We’ve certainly seen reports that there are those groups in Sinjar. And many of us will remember Sinjar from the Yezidis, the Yezidis who were there who then had to be rescued, some of them, and some of them were brutally murdered by ISIS. We’ve seen the reports of those groups in Sinjar. We understand that Turkey has expressed some of its concern over the presence of them in northern Iraq. Sinjar and the United States expect that any operations in Iraq would be done with the approval of the Iraqi Government. So if Turkey is coming into Sinjar, they need to coordinate that with the Government of Iraq. 
Erdogen is rejecting that.  He is stating he will not respect the government of Iraq, he will not make requests to it.

Let's move to a different topic.

The entire Republican Party operationalized against the Dixie Chicks when they spoke against Bush and the Iraq War. Suddenly, the GOP wants to cry “censorship” because advertisers in the free market don’t want to pay Laura Ingraham to bully a teenage mass shooting survivor.

No wonder Hillary lost.  She had idiots like Kaivan working for her.

Do they really think they can say whatever s**t they want and get away with it?

He's lying.

I was at the hearing where John McCain -- a Republican -- called out the silencing of the Dixie Chicks.  Do not say "the entire Republican Party."  Nor do I believe that the reluctant voter for the Iraq War Olympia Snowe was part of an attack on the Dixie Chicks.

I'm really tired of the lies from the Hillary crowd.  They don't care about Iraq, they never have.  And now they think they can say whatever they want and facts don't matter.

Is this really to be Hillary's legacy?  This crop of liars?  Since they identify themselves as workers on her campaign, you would think they would work twice as hard to be accurate.

On the topic of dishonesty, let's note this:


Barack Obama was president for two terms.  During those two terms, he visited Iraq once and only once.

He was not propelled to the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination by his words on Afghanistan, he was propelled by his words on Iraq and his promise -- which Samantha Power explained wasn't really a promise -- to end the Iraq War.

He visited Iraq only once as president.

The lying woman who Tweeted knew she was lying and tried to conflate the two.

Iraq?  If Trump gets two terms and doesn't visit Iraq, she can complain.  Until then, there's not really any point in comparing the two.

I love how these trashy people who never try to stop the Iraq War love to jump on it when they think they can use it as political football.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, BLACK AGENDA REPORT and LATINO USA -- updated: