Some United States cities even worse than Ferguson


This video from New York City in the USA is called Black Man KILLED After NYPD Cop Puts Him In CHOKEHOLD For Breaking Up a FIGHT.

From the Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin, USA:

Black people more likely to get arrested in Madison than Ferguson, Mo.

21 hours ago • BRYNA GODAR

In Madison, black residents are arrested at a rate more than three times that in Ferguson, Missouri, according to an interactive tool created by USA Today.

The fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson by a white police officer this August sparked protests and unrest across the city. It has since become a focal point for critiques of racial disparities in policing.

USA Today’s searchable map compiles FBI arrest records across the country and found nearly 1,600 police departments where the racial disparity in arrests is more pronounced than Ferguson‘s. The Madison Police Department is one of them.

In Madison, the 2012 arrest rate per thousand residents for black people was 593.1. That’s nearly six arrests for every 10 black residents. For non-black residents, it was 61.9, or less than one arrest for every 10.

In Ferguson, those rates were 186.1 for black residents, and 66 for non-black residents.

The USA TODAY article says the country-wide disparities are easier to measure than they are to explain:

“They could be a reflection of biased policing; they could just as easily be a byproduct of the vast economic and educational gaps that persist across much of the USA — factors closely tied to crime rates. In other words, experts said, the fact that such disparities exist does little to explain their causes.”

The results are clear, however, that black people are much more likely to get arrested in most cities than any other racial group.

The majority of Wisconsin police departments included in the data also had greater disparities in arrests than Ferguson.

Milwaukee Police Department had an arrest rate of 312.3 for black residents and 64.6 for non-black residents, a disparity far lower than Madison’s but still higher than in Ferguson.

Middleton Police Department, meanwhile, had even higher disparity than Madison, with 810.2 for black residents and 83.6 for non-black residents.

In all, only 173 of the 3,538 police departments USA Today analyzed had arrest rates for black people equal to or lower than non-black people.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has expressed concerns privately to Missouri officials this week about their recent actions in advance of a grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown case. A top aide to Holder called the office of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) earlier this week to express Holder’s displeasure and “frustration” that the governor had declared a state of emergency at a news conference and activated the National Guard in advance of the grand jury decision in the Ferguson shooting, expected to be announced in the next few days, according to a Justice Department official: here.

Which North American warbler should artist paint?


This video from the USA says about itself:

Bird Watching: Spring Warblers in Central Park, New York City

During their spring migration many beautiful birds pass through Central Park. Shown are just 18 of the colorful migrating Warblers with their stunning plumage: Palm, Prairie, Yellow, Worm-eating, Magnolia, a graceful American Redstart, Hooded, Black-throated Blue, Northern Parula, Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Ovenbird, Black-and-white, a Northern Waterthrush singing and foraging, Canada, Common Yellowthroat, a Yellow-rumped bathing and a Black-throated Green Warbler preening and drying off after a bath. Filmed April 12 – May 26, 2014 in Central Park, New York City.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Dear Friend of the Cornell Lab,

As the Cornell Lab of Ornithology heads into its centennial year, artist Jane Kim has begun painting an epic mural of birds, celebrating 375 million years of avian evolution and diversity around the world.

By the time Jane finishes a year from now, the mural, “From So Simple a Beginning,” will trace the diversity of birds through the ages, featuring life-size portraits of species from all 231 extant bird families. We need your help, though, to decide on one more species to join this ambitious mural: Which warbler should Jane paint to represent this brightly colored songbird family?

Warblers are one of the main attractions of spring birding in North America—they’re brilliant little jewels that come in a great variety—so we’ve created a fun and easy way for you to cast votes on which warbler best suits our beautiful bird mural.

The winning warbler will be one of the mural’s 250-plus portraits reminding us every day of the diversity of the world’s birds and the need to protect them today and in the century ahead.

Pick Our Warbler

We’ll announce the winning warbler in our Thanksgiving eCard.

New frog species discovery in New York City


This video from the USA says about itself:

30 October 2014

Male Rana Kauffeldi Emits Its Primary Call In New York City

A male Rana kauffeldi emits its primary call in the foreground with several other competing males calling in background.

New species of frog discovered in New York’s urban jungle after scientists notice ‘very odd’ chorus call

A new species of Frog has been discovered thriving in New York – after scientists were drawn to the creatures’ ‘very odd’ chorus call.

The Atlantic Coast leopard frog as it has been named was first noticed hopping around wetlands in the shadow of the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Jeremy Feinberg, a scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, was intrigued by the animals’ unusual chorus call.

The frog looks identical to other leopard frogs but Mr Feinberg felt certain it’s distinctive ‘chuck’ call was like nothing he had heard before.

So he teamed up with genetics experts and tests proved him right – the frog was indeed an entirely new species.

The new frog has been given the Latin name Rana kauffeldi in honour of New York wildlife expert Carl Kauffeld who first suggested there may be an unidentified species of frog in the area in 1937.

Sadly Mr Kauffeld, who died in 1974 aged 63, had never been able to prove his theory as genetic testing technology was not available at the time.

Mr Feinberg told BBC News: ‘Frogs have very stereotyped calls within a species, so I knew this was different.

‘But it took me two years to find someone to partner with me on the genetics side.

‘This is only the third new species of frog to be discovered north of Mexico since 1986.

“What also makes this crazy is that it’s in a urban area – [that’s] what makes it a double whammy.

“You wouldn’t find it hopping around Times Square”.

‘[These frogs] probably require wetland areas of something on the average minimum of 10 acres or more.

The frog has since been found to inhabit a coastal strech from Connecticut in the north to Virginia and North Carolina in the south.

A large colony was discovered thriving on Staten Island.

From Wildlife Extra:

New frog species found in the urban jungle of New York City

When thinking about where a new frog species might be discovered, the dense rainforests of Papua New Guinea, the humid jungles of Central Africa or other equally remote and tropical destinations instantly come to mind. But surprisingly, the latest new frog species to have been discovered has been found in the urban jungle of New York City and surrounding coastal areas.

The new species of leopard frog, Rana kauffeldi, was first identified in the New York City metropolitan area, but its range extends to the north and south, following a narrow and predominantly coastal lowland area from central Connecticut to northeast North Carolina.

Jeremy Feinburg and colleagues from Rutgers University undertook the research to identify the amphibian, analysing acoustic and genetic data. “The discovery of a new frog species from the urban Northeast is truly remarkable and completes a journey that began six years ago with a simple frog call in the wilds of New York City,” says Feinburg. “This story underscores the synergy that traditional field methods and modern molecular and bioacoustic techniques can have when used together; one is really lost without the other, but together are very powerful tools.”

You can read the full paper here.

Read about other new species discoveries here.

Islamophobic advertisements removed after James Foley’s family protested


Pamela Geller and Anders Breivik

This picture is about United States extreme rightist Pamela Geller, an influence on mass murderer Anders Breivik.

By Isaac Finn in the USA:

Anti-Muslim ads removed from New York buses after protest from James Foley‘s family

4 October 2014

An anti-Muslim advertisement featuring a photo of American journalist James Foley, taken immediately before his brutal execution at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), will be removed from New York City buses and subway stations.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a rabidly anti-Muslim group founded by right-wing blogger Pamela Geller, agreed to remove James Foley’s photo from one of their advertisements after an impassioned protest from Foley’s family. His parents insisted that Foley’s life and views were completely antithetical to the fascistic ravings of Geller and her group.

J. Patrick Rowan, the lawyer representing the family, in a letter to Geller, stated, “The use of Mr. Foley’s photo in your advertisement will cause profound distress to the Foley family.” The letter continued, “Having lived in and reported from communities in which nearly everyone was of Muslim faith, he had great respect for the religion and those who practiced it. The advertisement you are preparing to run seems to convey the message that ordinary practitioners of Islam are a dangerous threat. This message is entirely inconsistent with Mr. Foley’s reporting and his beliefs.”

Foley had stated opposition to US war, and had taken a critical attitude to the practice of embedded journalism—in which journalists are attached to US military units—because he believed it encouraged biased reporting.

The Foley family also criticized US actions in the Middle East, including how the government handled Foley’s kidnapping. Family members reported that the US government had threatened to prosecute them for “material support” for terrorism if they sought to raise a ransom of roughly $132 million demanded by the ISIS in order to free Foley.

Diana Foley, James Foley’s mother, in an interview with CNN in early September, said, “We’re dealing with very difficult people when we talk about ISIS. Their hate for us is great. And yet, some of our response to them has only increased the hate.”

The AFDI’s original advertisement included a photo of Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, Foley’s alleged executioner, next to a picture of Foley immediately before his execution. Text above the photos read, “Yesterday’s Moderate is Today’s Headline.”

David Yerushalmi, Geller’s lawyer, told the Agence France-Presse that a modified version of the advertisement will be released, with the photo of Foley replaced by a picture of a masked fighter holding a digitally blurred severed head.

The now modified advertisement is one of six posters made by the AFDI, in order to show, according to the group, “the uselessness of the distinction between ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ Muslims.” Geller and the AFDI have paid $100,000 to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to have these posters put on 100 buses and two subway stops for four weeks.

Geller is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and influential figurehead” and a “self-avowed Zionist,” who “has mingled with European racists and fascists.” Last year, she was barred from entering Britain, where she had intended to speak on the platform of the fascistic and racist English Defense League. The Home Office found that her statements “may foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”

Geller and her organization are currently suing the MTA, for blocking another one of her advertisements. This one features the phrase “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah,” next to a masked face, attributing the quote to the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas.

The MTA said it rejected the ad as inappropriate for covering the back of city buses because it could be interpreted as “urging direct, violent attacks on Jews.”

Whale exhibition in Denver, USA


This video from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City says about itself:

11 February 2013

Whales: Giants of the Deep” brings visitors closer than ever to some of the mightiest, most massive, and mysterious mammals on Earth. Featuring life-size models, interactive exhibits, and films—as well as more than 20 stunning whale skulls and skeletons—the family-friendly exhibition also reveals the history of the close relationship between humans and whales, from the traditions of Maori whale riders to the whaling industry and later rise of laws protecting whales from commercial hunters.

Originally developed at Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum of New Zealand, the exhibition will also feature rarely viewed specimens from the Museum’s own world-class collections.

From CBS in the USA:

Whales: Giants Of The Deep Opens At DMNS In October

September 26, 2014 8:28 PM

DENVER (CBS4) – The skeleton of a 58-foot sperm whale is one of 20 whale specimens that will be shown as part of a new exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science that opens next month.

The exhibit, called Whales: Giants of the Deep, is on tour from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which boasts one of the largest collections of marine mammals in the world.

The exhibit will also feature life-sized models, digital interactives and rare artifacts. DMNS said visitors can crawl through a life-sized replica of a blue whale’s heart, touch whale teeth and hear the sounds whales use to navigate, communicate and find food.

The exhibit opens Oct. 10 and is free with museum admission.

US entry into World War I, exhibition


This video says about itself:

28 January 2014

Helen Kay, a member of the Scottish branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom discusses the organisation’s centenary for the January edition of The World Today.

By Fred Mazelis in the USA:

New York Public Library exhibition on US entry into World War I

25 September 2014

While this summer marked the 100th anniversary of the eruption of the First World War, the entry of the United States into the imperialist conflict did not take place until almost three years later, in April 1917.

Perhaps in anticipation of the 2017 date, a small but historically interesting exhibition is on view at the main branch of the New York Public Library in Manhattan.

The title of the show explains its focus: “Over Here: WWI and the Fight for the American Mind.” The emphasis is on the efforts carried out between August 1914 and April 1917 to win political support for United States entry on the side of the Allied forces against Germany, and also the official efforts, once war had been declared, to mobilize public opinion and suppress anti-war opposition.

Using the voluminous collections of the New York Public Library, among the most extensive in the world, the exhibition “explores the manner in which public relations, propaganda and mass media in its many forms were used to shape and control public opinion about the war,” as the show’s brochure explains.

Various publications, books and pamphlets of the period are displayed, along with photos, propaganda posters, short films, lithographs and even recorded songs, to show some of the opposing points of view on the war during the 1914-1918 period and the techniques used, especially by the government, to mold public opinion. As with other commemorative articles and new histories of WWI that have been published, it is clear that these topics are all too appropriate a century later, amidst the threat of global war between nuclear powers and the increasing attempts by Western imperialism to whip up chauvinism and support for war preparations.

While President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a policy of neutrality in the global slaughter that began in the summer of 1914, sections of the ruling class almost immediately began beating the drums for war. Among the loudest voices for “preparedness” was none other than ex-President Theodore Roosevelt.

This most jingoistic American chief executive had attracted national and international attention with his exploits during the Spanish-American War of 1898. This did not prevent his selection as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906, in which capacity he was a forerunner to Barack Obama a little more than a century later.

'Give Your Vacation to Your Country,' 1916

Roosevelt had been elected vice-president in 1900 and less than a year after that became president upon the assassination of William McKinley. The exhibit shows a copy of TR’s 1916 book, “Fear God and Take Your Own Part,” which played a significant role in the buildup of war fever.

There are other, even more inflammatory examples of pro-war propaganda displayed, such as a book of “alternate history” that imagined the invasion of the United States and its defeat at the hands of Germany. Another book contained the image of the 47-story Singer Building, the best-known skyscraper of the day, being toppled by enemy attack.

New media, like motion pictures and recordings, were also utilized. The exhibit provides examples, such as a recording of Irving Berlin’s “What Kind of an American Are You?,” a provocative question aimed at millions of immigrants, especially from southern and eastern Europe, who were told they had a special obligation to display their patriotism, much as Muslims are today. This was only one of many such popular songs, by Berlin, George M. Cohan and others.

A short film cartoon deals with the sinking of the British liner Lusitania in 1915, which was used to whip up anti-German sentiment. Another short film, entitled “Colored Man is No Slacker,” was used to build support for war aims among the African-American population denied the most basic rights at home. Another example is “Hate the Hun,” a film by the young director Raoul Walsh. Walsh (High Sierra, They Drive By Night), who lived another six decades and became an important figure in the history of American film, later called this early movie “the rottenest picture ever.”

Propaganda posters were also widely employed. According to the exhibit, there were more than 20 million copies of about 2,500 different poster designs used by the time the war ended in November 1918. A few of the best-known posters are displayed in the show.

'Must children die and mothers plead in vain? Buy more Liberty Bonds,' 1918

Amid this detailed memorabilia, one thing becomes clear almost from the beginning of the exhibition. In its focus on “the fight for the American mind,” it leaves out two crucial issues: first, the causes of the war and of the drive for US entry into the conflict; and second, the nature of mass opposition to the war that found expression in this country both before and after the US joined the fighting in 1917.

There is some mention of anti-war opinion, but it is brief and vague. “As anti-German sentiment within the United States grew,” the exhibit explains, “… hawkish, often nationalistic voices were, in turn, answered by those belonging to a diverse group of individuals, among them pacifists, suffragists, socialists, anarchists, religious figures, and German sympathizers, who believed that it was in America’s best interest to stay out of the war.”

The example chosen to illustrate the supposed anti-war coalition is a book by Jane Addams, the famed social worker, sociologist and pacifist. Addams’s Patriotism and Pacifism During War Time is displayed alongside the abovementioned clarion call to war by Roosevelt.

There is not a single mention of Eugene Debs, either in this section or elsewhere in the exhibition. Debs was the Socialist Party (SP) candidate for US President in both 1912 and 1920, and in the latter instance, Debs ran while in federal prison for opposing the war. Each time he won close to 1 million votes, which represented 6 percent of the total in 1912.

Of course, Debs did not begin from the standpoint of “America’s best interest,” but rather from the interests of the working class all over the world. He made this eloquently clear in his trial on sedition charges in 1918, as we shall see.

'Joan of Arc Saved France,' 1918

But the library exhibition does not refer to the working class or the class struggle. The omission includes the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the revolutionary syndicalist organization founded in 1905 that played such an important role in labor battles in the decade leading up the war, especially in the West, but also in such struggles as the Lawrence textile strike of 1912.

Exhibition curator Michael Inman and his team may well have thought their focus on war propaganda would suffice to indicate a critical attitude. They refer, for example, to xenophobia. There is a brief mention of Emma Goldman, and a section of the exhibit discusses the attack on The Masses, the socialist monthly led by Max Eastman and John Reed. The magazine ceased publication in November 1917, several months after the US postmaster general, using the allegation that the publication was obstructing the draft, rescinded its mailing privileges.

The general impression from all of this, however, is that opposition to the war was confined to the fringes of society, and perhaps to sections of the intelligentsia. The important issues of civil liberties are mentioned, but the class issues underlying the repression of 1917-1918 are ignored.

In the 1914-1917 period, as throughout the past century, the drive toward militarism and war was bound up with both the global interests of American capitalism and the class struggle at home. A discussion of US entry onto the world stage as an imperialist power that does not discuss the class struggle, and specifically the role of the IWW and the SP, is deeply flawed, to put it mildly.

In fact, the war remained unpopular among broad layers of the population, and not just those with pro-German sympathies. The lack of enthusiasm was demonstrated in the total of only 73,000 volunteers in the first six weeks after the declaration of war in April 1917, leading to the imposition of conscription. Both the IWW and the Socialist Party opposed the war, with the SP in emergency convention calling it “a crime against the people of the United States.”

The IWW, despite its own limitations and its numerous reverses in the period after the Lawrence strike of 1912, saw a significant revival in 1917, in the months before and after the US declaration of war. It participated actively in the struggle of the Arizona copper miners earlier in the year and led the lumber workers’ strike in the Pacific Northwest.

These struggles were viciously attacked, with the federal army used as strikebreakers against the lumber workers. This was followed, in September of that year, by simultaneous raids on IWW offices. Some 165 IWW leaders were arrested, 101 eventually facing trial and conviction for violating the just-enacted Espionage Act (the same legislation under which Bradley Manning was convicted and under which Edward Snowden has been charged), with its prohibitions against “disloyalty” and “insubordination.” IWW leader Big Bill Haywood was sentenced to a 20-year jail term, later jumping bail and seeking refuge in the Soviet Union.

Many of the Socialist Party leaders, along with figures like Jack London and Clarence Darrow, supported the war, but thousands of SP members, including large numbers of immigrant workers, remained opposed. Support for SP candidates grew rapidly in the period between 1915 and 1917, with Morris Hillquit winning 22 percent of the vote for mayor of New York, the socialist vote increasing from 3.6 to 34.7 percent in Chicago, and 10 socialist candidates elected to the New York State legislature.

After the Russian Revolution in November 1917, ruling class fears increased further. The Espionage Act was used to arrest and convict hundreds of opponents of the war, most famously Debs himself.

The Socialist leader was arrested in June 1918 after he visited three Socialists in prison for opposing the draft and addressed a crowd outside. “Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder…. And that is war in a nutshell,” he told the crowd. “The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles.”

Addressing the court after being found guilty, Debs famously declared, “Your honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

Debs was sentenced to a 10-year term and served about 32 months before being released by President Warren Harding in 1921.

To sum up, “Over Here,” despite containing much useful and interesting material, leaves the visitor with the false impression that the drive toward war is virtually unstoppable. Official propaganda and official repression is depicted, while the scale of popular opposition is minimized and the voices of those who opposed the war on the basis of socialist internationalism are virtually ignored. This is a serious weakness indeed.