International Human Rights and Climate Change Activist Mohamed Nasheed Arrested
By Paul E McGinniss
Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of the Maldives, who was ousted from office in February, was arrested today and taken into custody. In a brutal display of force, Nasheed was taken away Monday morning by Maldivian National Defence Forces (MNDF), to stand trial for the “unlawful” arrest of a judge during his last days in power. Black clad MNDF Police arrested Nasheed, preventing him to continue his campaign to regain the presidency.
The LA Times reported that police used excessive force—including pepper spray and violence—while arresting Nasheed for allegedly ignoring a court summons.
The New York Times reported Maldivian Democratic Party workers said that former ministers and aides in Nasheed’s government who were in the house were also pepper-sprayed and violently dragged out.
Speaking to The Hindu from the southern island of Fares-Maathoda, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesperson for international affairs, said that masked personnel of the MNDF descended on the island early on Monday morning, and arrested the former president. “They just dragged him away to their mother boat. They came in about five boats to the island,” he said.
Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) urges the international community, and Maldivian development partners to immediately engage in dialogue with President Waheed Hassan to maintain “maximum restraint” and to not do anything that would disrupt peace and stability of the country.
Nasheed was swept to power in a bloodless revolution of the people in 2008 overthrowing by democratic election, the brutal dictator, Mamoon Abdul Gayoom who ruled with an iron fist for 30 years. Nasheed is to some extent a “Mandela of the Maldives." Like his South African counterpart, Nasheed was tortured and imprisoned on and off over a period of many years.
South of India, the approximate 1,200 Maldive Islands with a land area of only 115 square miles are spread out over 34,749 square miles of ocean. Some of the islands are at sea level and the highest point in the entire nation is a mere 7.87 feet above sea level. Former dictator Gayoom, in autocratic fashion, while ignoring freedoms for his own people, also refused to acknowledge that the country was being lost to the sea, much like the Kiribati Islands, because of rising sea levels due to global warming. Optimistically, things started to change for the better in 2008 when the environmentally aware, charismatic Mohamed Nasheed, who had been a leading advocate for democracy in his country, won the presidency as seen in the documentary The Island President.
It is urgent that the EcoWatch community show their support for Nasheed who has put his life on the line to bring democracy to the Maldives and who has been an international leader in encouraging nations all around the world to cooperate and address climate change. Visit Democracy Maldives for the latest news on Nasheed.
Watch the video below of the interview I did with Jon Shenk, director and cinematographer of the extraordinary film The Island President. The documentary dramatically captures the year in the life of President Mohamed Nasheed, after he becomes the first democratically elected President of the Maldives. Jon talks about climate change and why what happens in the remote island nation of the Maldives affects us all.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
Paul E McGinniss is The New York Green Advocate. He is a green building consultant and real estate broker in New York. He is pretty much obsessed with all things environment and has lately become a resiliency addict.
The growing Texas solar industry is offering a safe harbor to unemployed oil and gas professionals amidst the latest oil and gas industry bust, this one brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Houston Chronicle reports.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>