Wolf travels 450 miles to Grand Canyon


This video from the USA is called Grand Canyon National Park.

From Wildlife Extra:

Gray wolf travels 450 miles to Grand Canyon

For the first time in 70 years a lone gray wolf has been sighted in Arizona. The female wolf originated from the northern Rocky Mountains and has travelled at least 450 miles to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

“This wolf’s epic journey through at least three western states fits with what scientific studies have shown, namely that wolves could once again roam widely and that the Grand Canyon is one of the best places left for them,” said Michael Robinson from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Gray wolves face an uncertain future. Almost 100 years ago, in 1915, the federal US government conducted began culling wolves in the western United States, and by the early 1920s most of the wolves had been exterminated and the last one was sighted Arizona in the 1940s. The Gray wolf was added to the country’s Endangered List and in the 1990s 66 wolves were brought to the Rocky Mountains.

As a result of this conservation work populations are increasing and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are now, due to the success, are proposing to remove the species from the list. But this has concerned some conservationists as they say without the protection the species could be persecuted again.

“It’s heartening this animal has been confirmed as a wolf. But I am very worried that if wolves are taken off the endangered species list she will be killed and wolf howls from the North Rim’s pine forest will never again echo in the Grand Canyon,” [said] Robinson.

Earlier this month, the Center released a first-of-its-kind analysis identifying 359,000 square miles of additional wolf habitat in the lower 48 states that could significantly boost wolf recovery which include Northeast, West Coast and southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the Grand Canyon.

“There’s so much more room for wolves in the West if only we extend them a bit more tolerance,” Robinson said. “The Grand Canyon wolf is a prime example of what wolves can do if only we let them.”

Arizona police kill mentally ill woman


This video from the USA says about itself:

2014-08-16: United In Red Rally in Solidarity with Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri at Phoenix City Hall, Phoenix, Arizona. Cloves Campbell, Jr. talks about the police shooting death of Michelle Cusseaux on Thursday, August 14th.

By Diana Green in the USA:

Phoenix police shoot 50-year-old woman during mental health call

29 August 2014

Police in Phoenix, Arizona shot and killed Michelle Cusseaux, a 50-year-old mentally ill woman, on August 13 as they were attempting take her in to a psychiatric facility following a court order. Officers claimed she threatened them with a hammer.

Hours after Cusseaux’s funeral on August 23, Phoenix Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia called a press conference to announce that he would have the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) investigate the shooting. Days before he had refused the request by her family for an investigation by an outside agency.

Standing with Mayor Greg Stanton and City Manager Ed Zuercher, Garcia spoke of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in response to the police killing of an unarmed young man, and stated, “The decision I made to have an independent department do this investigation will benefit our city, but it is bigger than the city of Phoenix.” Stanton added, “What matters most is that the public has complete trust.”

The day before Cusseaux’s funeral, her family and supporters marched her casket from Phoenix City Hall to the US attorney’s office to protest her shooting and the absence of an independent investigation.

Michelle’s mother Francis Garret was the one who called mental health services to get her ailing daughter into an inpatient mental health facility. She said her daughter suffered from depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

“This was the result,” said Garret. “I didn’t phone them and ask for my daughter to be killed. I did not ask for Michelle to be another statistic here, another homicide. I did not call them for that reason.”

Alicia Thompson, Cusseaux’s friend, told a local newspaper, “What happened was unnecessary, but now that it happened, we need to have a conversation of what police are equipped to do in situations like this. A bullet should have been the very last thing to have been used on Michelle.”

Michelle Cusseaux lived in the Maryvale area of West Phoenix. In the 1980s the police began to focus on this neighborhood for its drug and gang activities. The area is blighted by urban decay as suburban growth has moved west and south. What was once the main shopping center, the Maryvale Mall, now houses schools and a police station.

According to police shooting statistics for 2011, Arizona was one of the 10 most deadly states and Phoenix was one of the 10 most deadly cities. Arizona had 45 police shootings with 27 deaths. Phoenix had 15 shootings with 10 deaths. These are absolute numbers, not taking into account the fact that Arizona has a relatively low population, being the 16th most populous state according to the 2010 census.

There have been 31 cases of police shootings so far this year in Phoenix. The usual response to a law enforcement shooting in Maricopa County appears to be the same whether or not the person shot represented an immediate threat to an officer. The media accepts the prepackaged police version and predictable Maricopa County attorney’s findings without question.

Retired Mesa police officer Bill Richardson wrote in the Arizona Republic, “I recently reviewed the January 2013 Phoenix police homicide investigation of Quintine Barksdale, an unarmed black man shot to death by an off-duty white police officer with a history of integrity and misconduct issues. Shortly after the shooting the officer was fired for unrelated serious misconduct.

“Even though determining justification is the duty of the county attorney, Phoenix police concluded early on the shooting was a ‘justifiable homicide.’ Predictably, the county attorney quietly rubber-stamped the Police Department’s misguided conclusion.”

Even if the DPS conducts an “outside” investigation into Michelle Cusseaux’s shooting death, there is little doubt that they will draw the same conclusion that an internal city police investigation would and that the county attorney will rubber-stamp it as a “justifiable homicide”.

Minnesota, USA: ‘The problem is I’m black': video of Christopher Lollie arrested and Tasered ‘in front of his children’ sparks outrage: here.

On August 23rd, police shot and killed Joseph Jennings, an unarmed teenager, in Ottawa, Kansas. Jennings’ death comes amid a wave of police killings, including that of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which triggered protests against police violence this month: here.

Ravens and hawks in the USA, new study


This video from the USA says about itself:

Raven’s nest with 6 eggs on window ledge of office building located in West Los Angeles.

From Wildlife Extra:

Raven populations rise in US as they turn man-made structures to their advantage

A new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), US Geological Survey (USGS) and Idaho State University (ISU) has revealed how man-made structures affect the nesting of a variety of avian predators.

The study took place on the sagebrush landscapes of the US Department of Energy‘s Idaho site and surrounding areas in the state, locating nest sites for all four species over a three-year span.

Researchers compared common ravens, red-tailed hawks, Swainson’s hawks, and ferruginous hawks.

This video from the USA says about itself:

A family of wild Swainson’s Hawks (adults & juveniles) in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona encounter a lone coyote

The Wildlife Extra article continues:

Overall, the analysis showed that energy transmission towers and other artificial substrates (e.g. mobile phone towers, billboards and buildings) are overwhelmingly preferred by ravens as nesting sites, and are not at all favoured by any of the three hawk species.

“Raven populations have increased precipitously in the past four decades in sagebrush ecosystems, largely as a result of fragmentation and development of anthropogenic structures,” said ecologist and study lead author Peter Coates.

“Our study shows that in addition to habitat fragmentation, the addition of human-made structures benefit ravens, whereas some species of raptors like the ferruginous hawk have been impacted and limited in nesting areas.”

Why the difference in nest selection between ravens and large hawks? The answer may be linked to the availability of preferred prey.

“Ravens are opportunistic foragers, eating just about anything, including carrion,” said co-author and USGS ecologist Kristy Howe.

“In addition, they tend to be highly intelligent birds that adapt quickly to changing environments and have been shown to transmit learned behaviours from one generation to the next.

“Conversely, hawks tend to be strongly territorial, intolerant of human disturbance, and prefer prey like jackrabbits that occupy similar habitats.”

Ravens were classed as an uncommon breeder within this area as recently as 1986. They are now the most pervasive predatory species nesting in this area, accounting for 46 per cent of nests among the four.

Transmission towers are the tallest objects in the study area. Nesting on or near them may afford ravens myriad advantages, including a wider range of vision, greater attack speed, and greater security from predators, range fires, and heat stress.

While this is good news for ravens, it could be bad news for sensitive prey species, including the greater sage-grouse.

Howe speculates on the study’s other implications and directions for future research: “Since ravens are important predators of young birds and eggs, and hawks are predominantly predators of adults, these landscape changes could shift ecosystem dynamics.

“Predation risk would now likely be greater for sage-grouse eggs and young, and correspondingly lower for adult sage-grouse and other prey species.

“This adds new insights for ecosystem managers who seek to understand the complex relationships between ravens, hawks, sage-grouse populations, and habitat changes.”

“Industrial development, wildfires, invasive plant species, and other disturbances are changing sagebrush landscapes throughout the western United States,” concluded Peter Coates.

“Our results shed light on how these avian predators might change with them.”

Arizona botched two-hour execution


This video from the USA says about itself:

24 July 2014

Arizona death row prisoner Joseph Wood was killed almost two hours after he received a lethal drug injection of midazolam and hydromorphone that had only been used once before in an execution in Ohio.

By Gabriel Black in the USA:

Arizona man dies in horrific two-hour execution

24 July 2014

The state of Arizona killed Joseph Wood by lethal injection Wednesday in an execution process that took almost two hours. The botched lethal injection was just one of several that have been carried out in the United States in the past few months.

The execution took place around 1.30 p.m., local-time. After Joseph Wood’s arms were injected with two lines, his veins were filled with a combination of the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone. According to an eyewitness with the Associated Press (AP), a look of pain overtook Wood’s face, and then Wood closed his eyes.

Ten minutes into the execution, roughly the amount of time lethal injections usually take to kill someone, Wood began gasping. Eyewitnesses reported that his jaw suddenly dropped and his chest puffed up. Afterwards he let out a gasp. AP reported: “The gasps repeated every five to 12 seconds. They went on and on, hundreds of times.”

After some time, the executioner turned on the microphone to the observers and informed them that Wood was, in fact, sedated, despite the noises he was making.

Troy Hayden, an eye witness to the execution, told USA Today that the execution was “very disturbing to watch … like a fish on shore gulping for air.” A reporter for the Arizona Republic, Michael Kiefer, said he “counted about 660 times he [Wood] gasped.”

As the execution continued, with the repeated gasping continuing on and on, Wood’s lawyers drew up an emergency appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court asking that the execution be immediately stayed.

In their plea they wrote, “He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour… He is still alive.” Indicting the state, they concluded: “This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eight Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment.”

The legal team drew attention to Arizona State law’s “Contingency Procedure” for executions, which states: “If at any point any team member determines that any part of the execution process is not going according to procedure, they shall advise the IV Team Leader who shall immediately notify the Director. The Director may consult with persons deemed appropriate and will determine to go forward with the procedure, start the procedure over at a later time within the 24-hour day, or stand down.”

The Supreme Court of Arizona held an emergency session by telephone in response to the lawyer’s motion; however, Wood was pronounced dead an hour later, while the court was still discussing the issue.

In April of this year, the state of Oklahoma killed Clayton Lockett in a 43-minute execution process. After being injected with the lethal drugs, Lockett began kicking and grimacing, trying to lift his head off the gurney to which he was strapped. Lockett’s veins exploded during the execution and he eventually died from a massive heart attack.

State execution chambers have been experimenting with drug cocktails after several European nations banned the export of drugs used for capital punishment to the United States. These experiments have led to multiple executions this year, in which the condemned is clearly in profound pain and, or, the killings took multiple times the usual length of ten minutes.

Before Wood was executed, his lawyers demanded that the court provide details regarding the two drugs they were going to use to kill him. His lawyers petitioned the court to stay the execution, which they did temporarily. The lawyers argued that Wood’s death would be both cruel and unusual.

After the execution Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona denounced Wood’s death and called for a halt to future executions in the state. Alessandra Soler, the Arizona ACLU’s Executive Director, stated: “What happened today to Mr. Wood was an experiment that the state did its best to hide.” She said that government officials “cannot be trusted to take seriously our Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.”

Wood was the 26th person to be executed this year in the United States. He was on death row for a double murder he committed in the late 1980s.

See also here.

Joseph Rudolph Wood was put to death by the state of Arizona on Wednesday. The 55-year-old’s execution was the third in the space of six months in which the condemned was subjected to a prolonged, agonizing lethal injection procedure. The previous atrocities occurred in Ohio and Oklahoma. In Wood’s case, the gruesome ordeal spanned nearly two hours: here.

Arizona lawyers lead call for inquiry into Joseph Wood’s two-hour execution: here.

Missouri set to execute inmate despite evidence state lied about lethal injection drugs: here.

Britain: A major drugs supplier to the NHS could be complicit in the executions of nine US prisoners on death row, a human-rights charity claimed yesterday. Reprieve revealed that pharmaceutical giant Mylan has ignored warnings that one of its drugs could be used to kill inmates in Alabama: here.

‘Dutch government, stop jailing refugee children’


This video from Lebanon is called Syrian refugee children speak out.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Migrant children do not belong in cells”

Update: Friday, May 23, 2014, 12:11

The incarceration of asylum seekers is a violation of human rights and especially children do not belong in jails. This says High Commissioner Muižnieks of the Council of Europe, after a visit to the Netherlands.

He says that children should never be put into a cell or a detention centre. Muizniks talked to a fourteen-year-old girl from Syria, who is in the detention center at Schiphol Airport.

According to Muizniks, children can be treated better without impeding the government’s ability to control the flow of migrants. He also believes that refugees should not be made to live on the streets with no food, if returning them fails.

Hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America have been transported from southern Texas to a makeshift detention center set up by the US Border Patrol in Nogales, Arizona. The number of children held at the center, mostly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, was expected to rise to more than 1,000 by the end of the weekend: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

United States war veterans’ bad health care


This video from the USA says about itself:

23 April 2014

40 veterans on secret waiting list died. CNN confirms up to 1,600 veterans forced to wait for months for doctor visits.

By Eric London in the USA:

VA scandal in US exposes disastrous state of veteran health care

19 May 2014

A series of recent leaks exposing the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as complicit in denying treatment to and causing the deaths of veterans at a medical center in Phoenix, Arizona have developed into a significant political crisis for the Obama administration.

So far, the affair has claimed the career of Undersecretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Petzel and has prompted calls for the resignation of VA Secretary and former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who was forced under pressure to testify before Congress last Thursday.

Republicans are exploiting the scandal for their own purposes, attempting to posture as defenders of veterans. “We should all be ashamed,” Republican Senator John McCain, a leading supporter of every significant military operation carried out by the United States, said in a radio address over the weekend.

In fact, the revelations over the treatment of veterans are a damning indictment of the Obama administration and the entire political establishment, exposing the cynical character of the constant militarist drum-beating carried out in the name of “supporting the troops.” The American ruling class treats ordinary soldiers as so much cannon fodder, to be discarded after they have served their purpose.

The current scandal developed after a series of exposures made by present and former employees of the VA detailed the procedure by which the department denies healthcare to veterans and then covers-up these actions by means of a complex book-cooking scheme.

On April 30, Dr. Sam Foote, a retired doctor at the Phoenix VA medical center, revealed the existence of a “scheme” which was “deliberately put in place to avoid the VA’s own internal rules.” In an interview with CNN, Foote explained that VA administrators “developed the secret waiting list” that is used by the VA to cover up for the fact that roughly 40 veterans have died after waiting for treatment for months or years.

In the following weeks, further whistle-blowers from medical centers in Texas and Colorado stepped forward and made similar allegations regarding VA wrongdoing.

According to an April 2010 memorandum filed by lower-level VA officials to their higher-ups, practices employed by the agency include:

* canceling appointments when patients do not check-in 15 minutes early and thereby forcing patients who show up on-time or minutes early to reschedule appointments for weeks in the future.

* sending confirmation emails to patients, and if the patient does not respond, the VA “reserves the right” to cancel the appointment.

* scheduling patient appointments, canceling them, and entering the appointment into records as “cancelled by patient” instead of “cancelled by clinic” so that patients are sent to the bottom of the waitlist instead of being given preferential treatment.

* scheduling appointments with patients during times that the patients have stated they are unavailable, thereby forcing the patients to cancel and moving them to the back of the waiting list.

* scheduling appointments for a patient without notifying them and thereby “creat[ing] a very high likelihood that the patient will no-show which allows for another rebooking with a restarted wait time.”

* canceling and then re-establishing appointments on the same day in order to give the appearance that the patient’s wait time is minimal.

On top of the complex schedule-manipulation tactics, the VA also falls back on a more simple method for covering-up treatment denial. Dr. Katherine Mitchell, a VA doctor, recently disclosed that VA officials were caught shredding documents that detail wrongdoing.

The Obama administration has responded by denying the existence of wrongdoing and scrambling to minimize the scandal. Shinseki told the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on May 15 in conditional terms that “if these allegations are true” and “if they are substantiated,” then “they are completely unacceptable” and “timely action will be taken.”

Shinseki and Obama both issued choreographed statements in recent days stating that they were “mad as hell” (Shinseki) and “madder than hell” (Obama). Despite the feigned anger, nothing will be done to improve health care for veterans. After all, had it not been for a series of whistle-blowers at a widening series of VA medical centers, the executive branch would have continued to ignore the issue outright as they have been doing for years.

This is typified by the pro-forma statement issued by the White House last week, which read: “America has a sacred trust with the men and women who have served our country in uniform and he [Obama] is committed to doing all we can to ensure our veterans have access to timely, quality health care.”

But the unfolding crisis makes clear that the American ruling class is not, in fact, moved by a desire to “honor” military veterans except with condescending jingoist verbiage. Not only are veterans regularly denied the care they need, but the recent leaks reveal that the VA carries out a well-oiled cover-up to keep this fact a secret.

Deteriorating health care for veterans is not a new phenomenon, and poor living conditions amongst veterans are widespread. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that roughly 60,000 veterans are homeless on a given night, with 1.4 million at risk of homelessness.

Mental health issues are also widespread among veterans. A VA study released in 2012 showed that a US veteran kills him or herself every 80 minutes. There are more soldier suicides in a single year than soldiers killed-in-action during the entire “global war on terror.” Government-sponsored suicide hotlines receive hundreds of thousands of calls each year.

The recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular have produced over 1 million wounded veterans who have been processed by the VA system.

To the American ruling class, the millions of surviving soldiers who have already served their purpose in the military operations of US imperialism cost more when they are alive than when they are dead.

Here’s everything you need to know about the VA scandal along with a timeline. And CNN asks why no one has been fired. [CNN]

“A growing number of lawmakers are calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation following a report that found widespread problems of delayed treatment at a Phoenix, Arizona, veterans hospital.” The report in question is damning. [HuffPost]

Enhanced by Zemanta