Texas government cheats pharmacists on death penalties

This video from the USA, with music by Steve Earle, is called Huntsville, Texas death-row prison cemetery.

From News Line daily in Britain, Friday, 11 October 2013:

Meanwhile, the Reprieve charity has issued a statement that ‘Pharmacies in the US are demanding that executioners in Texas not use their drugs to carry out lethal injections, claiming that the state “misrepresented” their plans for the drugs, or that they were completely unaware of the intended use.’

Texas is one of a number of states – including Pennsylvania, Colorado and South Dakota – which has attempted to secure the execution drug pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies, after major pharmaceutical companies took steps to block the use of their products in capital punishment.

However, it has emerged that both of the pharmacies from which Texas procured supplies of ‘compounded’ (i.e. made-to-order) pentobarbital have either blocked the order or are demanding the return of the drugs.

One of the suppliers, Pharmacy Innovations, which is headquartered in Jamestown, NY, was according to court documents, ‘completely unaware that the drugs … were purchased with the intent to use them for lethal injections,’ and once informed, ‘cancelled the order before it had been filled’.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) had attempted to purchase under the cover name of the Huntsville Unit Hospital – even though the hospital has not existed since 1983.

The owner of the other supplier, the Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy, wrote this weekend to the TDCJ to ‘demand that TDCJ immediately return the vials of compounded pentobarbital,’ complaining that ‘the State of Texas misrepresented this fact (that the purchase would remain private) because my name and the name of my pharmacy are posted all over the internet.’

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of legal charity Reprieve’s Death Penalty team said: ‘This shows that responsible pharmacies, like responsible drugs companies, do not want to be part of the death penalty system.

Texas’ underhand behaviour – trying to order the drugs through a non-existent hospital to mask their intended use – should come as a warning to pharmacies everywhere to be on their guard. Pharmacists are in the business of healing, not killing – it is high time all those US states desperately seeking new sources of execution drugs realised that.’

New butterfly species from Texas discovered

Vicroy's ministreak, Ministrymon janevicroy, left and gray ministreak, right

By Laura Klappenbach, About.com Guide in the USA:

New Species of Butterfly Named

May 29, 2013

Over a century ago, specimens of a tiny, green-eyed butterfly were preserved in the Smithsonian entomology collection. At the time, the butterfly specimen was classified as a gray ministreak. But recently, scientists re-examined the species and determined that it was not a gray ministreak after all. They declared it a new species and gave it the common name Vicroy’s ministreak.

The Vicroy’s ministreak is a native to Texas. The new species differs from the gray ministreak in that it has green eyes (not black, like those of the gray ministreak). The Vicroy’s ministreak is about the size of a thumbnail. Its habitat overlaps with that of the gray ministreak.

The new species was discovered by Jeffrey Glassberg, the president of the North American Butterfly Association. He named the species after his wife, Jane Vicroy Scott.

More about this is here.

The scientific description of the new species is here.

Butterfly Metamorphosis VIDEO: CT Scans Show Transformation Of Insects Inside Outer Shell: here.

New bee species named after Noam Chomsky

The new bee species, photo credit: Cory S. Sheffield (Royal Saskatchewan Museum)

From Nature World News in the USA:

New Species Of Bee Named After Noam Chomsky

By James A. Foley

Apr 04, 2013 12:21 PM EDT

Noam Chomsky is not a fan of ridiculous comparisons. So it’s still unclear how he’ll take to the newly discovered species of bee that has been named after him.

The new species belongs to one of the largest genera of bees, the genus Megachile, with more than 1,500 species in at least 50 subgenera. Chomsky, on the other hand, is one of a kind.

Endemic to Texas, the newly-discovered species of leafcutter bee, Megachile chomskyi, has highly particular tastes in the sort of pollen it goes after. Having lectured, wrote and researched at the same university for more than 50 years, you might say Chomsky is endemic to MIT, where he reportedly has particular tastes in turkey sandwiches: plan, no mayo, definitely no avocado, maybe some lettuce and tomato.

An exaggeratedly long tongue and definitive jaw structure are the most prominent features of the new leafcutter bee. As it is, Chomsky’s tongue, or at least his work as a linguist, is world renowned. Though it’s probably of average size.

Noam Chomsky is a highly regarded linguist, political philosopher and historian, who has been described as the “father of modern linguistics” and the world’s “top public intellectual.”

This is not the first time an animal has been named after Chomsky. A chimpanzee who was the subject of an extended study on animal language acquisition at Colombia University was named Nim Chimpsky, a clear pun of Noam Chomsky.

In naming the new species of leafcutter bee, its discoverer, Dr. Cory Sheffield of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, said, “In addition to naming the species after Dr. Chomsky to honor his many accomplishments, I also have been a huge fan and follower of his writings, lectures, and political views for a long time.”

Scheffield’s study of the Megachile chomskyi is published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Nazi murder gang at work in Texas?

Not only nazi murder gangs in Germany

Aryan Brotherhood tattoo at the Calipatria State Prison in Calipatria, California, in 2004. (photo: Mark Allen Johnson/Corbis file)

By David Walsh in the USA:

Extreme right prison gang suspected in Texas killings

3 April 2013

US federal and state authorities are continuing their investigations into the shooting deaths of Kaufman County, Texas District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, whose bodies were discovered by friends on Saturday.

The McLellands were apparently murdered the night before at their home in semi-rural Forney, Texas, some 20 miles east of Dallas. A local television station reported that police found 14 shells from a .223 caliber rifle at the crime scene.

McLelland’s chief felony prosecutor, Mark Hasse, was shot and killed in broad daylight on January 31 outside the Kaufman County courthouse. After Hasse’s death, McLelland’s house was patrolled by a sheriff’s deputy, but the special security detail was later discontinued.

No connection has yet been uncovered between the killings, but a federal law enforcement official told USA Today, “Given the profile and the position of [McLelland], you start with that theory until you have discounted that connection … The way it appears is like an assault on the rule of law.”

Scott Burns of the National District Attorneys Association told the media, “[I]t is a very rare thing for a prosecutor to be murdered in the line of duty—very rare. And it is unprecedented for two in the same county to be murdered in a two-month period. It is simply unheard of.”

Authorities have no motives or suspects at this point, but investigators are considering the possibility that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT), a white supremacist prison gang, may be responsible. Kaufman County authorities were involved in a US government-led investigation that resulted in the indictment in November 2012 of 34 leading members of the ABT on murder, conspiracy, arson, assault, robbery and drug trafficking charges. Ten of those indicted could face the death penalty if convicted.

“Hasse,” noted the Los Angeles Times, “was shot on the day he was publicly credited for assisting with the successful prosecution of members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.”

In December 2012, the Texas Department of Public Safety, after making a retaliation assessment, circulated a bulletin that read in part: “High-ranking members [of the ABT] … are involved in issuing orders to inflict ‘mass casualties or death’ to law enforcement officials who were involved in cases where Aryan Brotherhood of Texas are facing life sentences or the death penalty.”

The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas originated in the state’s prison system in the 1980s and espouses a racist and neo-Nazi ideology. Its activities to this point, however, have been principally criminal—drug dealing, theft, extortion, identity theft—rather than political.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) wrote earlier this year: “The Aryan Brotherhood (AB) is a large, white supremacist prison gang that is infamous for its violence and its sprawling criminal empire, which also is highly active outside the nation’s prisons. A related group, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT), is known to be particularly violent, and prosecutors in that state have been aggressively moving against its members for several years now.”

The American media is playing down the fascist ideology of the ABT and treating the possibility of its involvement, in the Hasse-McLelland murders as a purely retaliatory, criminal action. If, in fact, there is such involvement that may be the case, but numerous ABT members have been charged with politically motivated hate crimes outside prison walls.

The SPLC’s Potok details numerous cases involving ABT members, including the “most infamous racially motivated murder since the civil rights era … in 1998, when three white men, two of them ex-cons, tied a black man, James Byrd Jr., to the back of their pickup truck with a logging chain, dragged him to death over three miles of country roads outside Jasper, Texas, and then deposited his shredded remains in front of a predominantly black cemetery. One of the ex-cons testified at his trial that he and one of his accomplices had both joined the ABT for protection from black inmates while they were incarcerated. When he rejoined society, his arms were covered with Aryan Brotherhood tattoos, including one depicting a black man being lynched.”

The neo-fascist outfit was also deemed responsible for the gunning down of a Bangladeshi immigrant working at a Texas gas station, in October 2001, as part of “the backlash against Arab-Americans that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks … Mark Stroman, later convicted of the killing, was an ex-convict member of the Aryan Brotherhood (ABT) of Texas.”

In November 2011, Steven Scott Cantrell, 26, of Crane, Texas, was sentenced to 450 months in prison by a US district judge for hate crimes committed in December 2010. Cantrell set fire to several buildings, including a predominantly African American church as part of an effort to kill a disabled man, a house belonging to someone Cantrell believed to be Jewish and a gym patronized by Mexican Americans and African Americans and owned by a white man married to a woman of Mexican descent.

According to the Justice Department, the crimes were part of “a series of racially-motivated arsons that Cantrell perpetrated … in his attempt to gain status with the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.”

If the ABT has now escalated its activities to include the assassination of elected officials such as McLelland, this has a political significance.

On March 19, the state of Colorado’s prison chief, Tom Clements, was murdered at his home. The suspect in the crime was white supremacist Evan Spencer Ebel. Ebel, member of the 211 Crew gang, died in a shootout with police in north Texas on March 21.

Right-wing terrorist violence has increased in the US in the past two decades, a malignant expression of the growth in social tensions. Two years ago, Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was wounded and Federal Judge John M. Roll and five others were killed near Tucson, Arizona by a deranged man, influenced by Tea Party-type rhetoric.

Then there is the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last year by a gun enthusiast who killed 26 people, including 20 children. While the motives of the killer, Adam Lanza, are yet to be entirely clarified, he reportedly modeled himself on Norway’s fascistic mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik. The latter killed 77 people in July 2011, including 69 at a Labour Party youth camp.

At the time of the Giffords shooting in January 2011, the WSWS pointed to the Oklahoma City bombing carried out by Timothy McVeigh, the anthrax attacks in 2001 and the murder of Kansas physician Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic in 2009.

The WSWS noted: “For more than 40 years, the Republican Party has appealed to and allied itself with racist and fascistic forces in order to shore up its base of support. The corporate-controlled media has assiduously sought to promote a right-wing political atmosphere.”

In each of these cases of right-wing terrorism, the connection, direct or indirect, between the extremist groups and sections of the political establishment has been ignored or obscured. So too has the general social environment—characterized by endless war overseas, the promotion of militaristic violence and the deepening social and economic crisis within the US.

Three More Defendants in Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Racketeering Case Plead Guilty: here.

British dragonfly research milestone

This video from the USA says about itself:

July 12, 2010

This video provides an up-close and personal view of dragonflies. See them fly in slow motion, eat insects, and breathe through spiracles (holes) in their abdomens.

Despite their name, dragonflies are not related to common flies. In fact, they are part of an entirely different group of insects. Dragonflies are part of the Odonata Order, which have roamed Planet Earth for approximately 300 million years.

Dragonflies are predators, feeding on creatures smaller than themselves. They are useful in controlling mosquitos. They have large multifaceted (compound) eyes that can see nearly 360 degrees. As far as insects go, dragonflies are among the fastest. Some species can fly up to 30 miles per hour and quickly and accurately change directions.

Dragoneflies in this video:
20sec. Halloween Pennant
31 sec. Needham’s Skimmer male
34 sec. Needham’s Skimmer female
1.01 Eastern Pondhawk male
2.19 Needham’s Skimmer female
2.36 still Needham’s Skimmer male
2.45 still Black Saddlebags

The video was filmed at The Spring Creek Greenway, Texas (Montgomery County Preserve, Old Riley Fuzzel Road Preserve, Pundt Park and Jesse H Jones Park). The Greenway is an important segment of the Sam Houston Trail & Wilderness Preserve, designed to connect and protect up to 12,000 acres of forest. See here for additional information.

Royalty-free music by Kevin MacLeod: Infados, http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/

Photography by Ken Kramm: Canon Vixia HF S20 Camcorder, Canon PowerShot SX10 IS camera, IMovie09

From Wildlife Extra:

One million UK dragonfly records!

Dragonfly atlas reaches 1,000,000 records

March 2013. The British Dragonfly Society (BDS) now has more than one million records of dragonflies in the UK! This stunning and remarkable achievement has been reached after a co-ordinated recording effort fuelled by the society’s atlas project. The project started in 2008 with the aim of mapping the complete distribution of dragonflies in Britain.

1 millionth record

During the five year survey period the total number of observations of dragonflies has almost doubled and the target of one million records has been achieved. This milestone was marked this week by a special award to Ingrid Twissell. Her record of a Ruddy Darter from Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire on 9th August 2012 was the one millionth entry to the BDS database. She was presented with a signed Richard Lewington print of a Ruddy Darter at the British Dragonfly Society‘s annual Recorders’ Conference. This milestone in recording also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the BDS.

Scotland and Wales

Even more impressive than reaching the target of one million records has been the extent of coverage for the new atlas, particularly in Scotland and Wales. Here potential dragonfly habitat in virtually all under-recorded areas has been surveyed for records. This has only been possible through the dedicated efforts of a small team of volunteers coordinated by the British Dragonfly Society’s Dragonfly Recorder Network. Coverage has also been aided by recorders arranging dragonfly recording holidays to more remote parts of the British Isles. As a result, the atlas to be published later this year will provide a comprehensive picture of the current status of these fascinating insects and allow future changes to be monitored.


The British Dragonfly Society (BDS) started work on the new Atlas in 2008 when the database held 530,000 records. This was a good starting point, but coverage of Britain was patchy and a key aim was to achieve full coverage. As each year’s records were reviewed it was possible to identify areas still requiring more work by means of colour coded maps. These were used to encourage volunteer recorders to target the poorly recorded areas. This approach was very successful and at the start of the final year of recording (2012) only 14% of the 10km squares in the country did not have a recent dragonfly record and many of these did not contain suitable habitat, being rocky coasts or mountainous. The final tally of blank squares awaits the final analysis of records, but it is known to have reduced to below 8%.

Help from birders

Over recent years, bird-watchers have become increasingly interested in dragonflies and this has also helped the atlas project. Responding to this interest, the British Trust for Ornithology worked in partnership with the BDS in 2011 to add dragonfly recording to its Garden Birdwatch scheme. The following year dragonflies were also added to Birdtrack and these two systems now contribute thousands of sightings each year.