Birds in the USA, new report


This video from the USA is called The State of the Birds 2014 report.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

State of the Birds Report: Conservation Works, but There’s More Work to Do

This week, the Cornell Lab and partners released the 2014 State of the Birds Report. The report commemorates Martha, the world’s last Passenger Pigeon, whose tragic passing 100 years ago spurred the creation of the world’s greatest conservation movement.

In the last century we’ve saved Wood Ducks and Bald Eagles, Kirtland’s Warblers and Brown Pelicans, and more. The new report offers the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever, identifying a Watch List of 228 high-concern species as well as 33 Common Birds in Steep Decline to begin conserving now. See the full report and download the lists.

Rare birds in North America update


This video is called Birds of Western Canada – Ducks, Geese & Coots.

From the American Birding Association:

Rare Bird Alert: September 5, 2014

By , on September 5, 2014

This week could reightly be called the week that Alaska exploded. Granted, this time of year means that there are groups of birders on two of the ABA’s most noted vagrant traps, Gambell and St. Paul Island, dedicated to finding Asian strays, but even by the exceptional standards that birders on those islands set year after year, this last week has been extraordinary.

We may as well get used to starting with Alaska this week, because I get the feeling we’ll be starting with Alaska regularly for the next few. On Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, birders seemed to hit the jackpot over and over again. The most notable find so far is likely the ABA’s 4th record of Tree Pipit (ABA Code 5), an accommodating individual present at least through the writing of the post. Also at Gambell one and likely two Brown Shrikes (4) have been hanging around, as well as a Eurasian Hobby (4) and a Yellow-browed Warbler (4) as recently as yesterday. Coming close to matching Gambell’s truckload of rarities, on St. Paul birders found a Jack Snipe (4) and a Siberian Rubythroat (4) . Lest you think all the action is on the islands, a Long-billed Murrelet (3) was photographed in Homer.

One first record this week, a report that went public only a few hours before this post published. In British Columbia, a Green Violetear, a first provincial record and the third for Canada, was photographed at Port Alberni. More on this as it develops. Also in the province, a Little Stint (3) was well-photographed in Sidney, a Ruff (3) was seen at Ladner, and a Lark Bunting at Port Hardy.

Washington also had a Ruff (3), this one at Ocean Shores, Grays Harbor.

Vagrant shorebirds in Oregon took the form of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (3) in Coos. Meanwhile, an Indigo Bunting was seen inDouglas.

Excellent for Idaho was a young Sabine’s Gull in Valley.

A pair of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds visited two separate feeders on opposite sides of California this week. One was in San Luis Obispo and the second in Eureka. These are the 13th and 14th records for the state.

A nice find in Nevada was a Lark Bunting in Washoe.

Vagrants in Utah this week include an American Redstart in Weber, an Ovenbird and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher in Davis, and aClay-colored Sparrow in Salt Lake.

Colorado also had a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, this one in Phillips, and an Eastern Towhee was found in Logan.

Arizona’s recurring Sinaloa Wren (5) has made its appearance for the third straight year at Fort Huachuca in Cochise.

In Texas, a Greater Pewee was seen in Houston, where it has spent the last 5 winters.

A Crested Caracara in Barber, Kansas, is that state’s 7th.

A Little Gull was seen this week on Yankton Reservoir, which straddles Nebraska and South Dakota, and the bird was seen on both sides of the line. Unique to Nebraska, however, was a Long-tailed Jaeger found in Lincoln.

A Long-tailed Jaeger was also seen in Marion, Iowa, this week, along with a Red Phalarope near Saylorville.

A Mottled Duck in Mason, Illinois, is around that state’s 10th record. A Ruff(3) was also seen in Chatauqua.

In Ohio, a Reddish Egret in Delaware is a remarkable record, and only that state’s 2nd.

Always a nice bird inland, a Great Black-backed Gull was photographed in Hamilton, Tennessee.

Infrequent in recent years, birders on a trip out of Hatteras, North Carolina, were surprised to get great looks at the enigmatic Bermuda Petrel (3).

In Virginia, a Wood Stork has spent the better part of two weeks in Clarke.

Less notable as the years wain, a White-winged Dove was seen in Cape May, New Jersey.

An apparent Brown Booby (3) was photographed in Queens, New York.

In Ontario, a Glossy Ibis was found near Hamilton.

Great for Quebec, a Lark Bunting was photographed at Côte-Nord.

Rare for Connecticut, a Parasitic Jaeger was spotted in the Connecticut waters of Long Island Sound.

And yet another Brown Booby (3) stopped off on a fishing boat on the Grand Banks, Newfoundland, that province’s 3rd record.

Assata Shakur’s autobiography, new book


This video is called Eyes Of The Rainbow – a documentary film with Assata Shakur.

By Carlos Martinez:

Inspiring account of a black activists struggle

Monday 1st August 2014

Assata: An Autobiograhy

by Assata Shakur

(Zed Books, £8.99)

ASSATA SHAKUR remains an essential text for understanding both the prison-industrial complex and the state of race relations in the US, as well as providing a profound insight into the successes and failures of the Black Power movement of the late 1960s and 1970s.

Born in 1947, Shakur — then Joanne Deborah Byron — grew up between North Carolina and New York, experiencing the intense racism that prevailed, and still prevails, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

As a black, working-class woman she became acutely aware of the special oppression she and others like her faced. When a college student, she came across activists — especially from newly liberated Africa –— who challenged her anti-communist prejudices and her internalised stereotypes.

They encouraged her to get involved in the struggle for black power and against capitalism and imperialism. This led to her membership of the Black Panther Party and, later, the Black Liberation Army.

The larger part of the book is devoted to documenting Shakur’s experiences with the US “justice” system in courts and prisons between her arrest in 1971 and her escape eight years later.

Few readers would fail to be shocked at the extent to which this human being, whose real “crime” in the eyes of the state was to be a loud campaigner for justice and equality, was tortured and abused in prison — often at the hands of openly fascistic prison officers.

Her account also serves as a crucial reminder that there remain many political prisoners in the US, languishing behind bars for decades on trumped-up charges and that international pressure must be maintained and intensified until Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, Leonard Peltier, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Kenny “Zulu” Whitmore, Albert Woodfox and all political prisoners are freed.

As the book demonstrates, it’s a fight that must be maintained against a phenomenally unjust prison system which disproportionately targets poor and non-white people.

This is not restricted to the US — a recent study showed that black people in Britain are seven times more likely than their white counterparts to be imprisoned.

Shakur’s profound and thought-provoking reflections on the decline of the black power movement deserve to be studied and discussed, as they could help illuminate a path for the current generation of organisers and activists.

Apart from the FBI’s large-scale covert assault on the Panthers and others, she focuses too on subjective elements —adventurism, sectarianism, amateurishness, the failure to consistently raise levels of political consciousness and alienation from the masses — which hampered the movement.

Shakur’s continuing relevance is not lost on the FBI. Last year it added her to its list of “most wanted terrorists” and she is the first woman to enjoy this honour — good to see US imperialism doing its bit for gender equality.

Thankfully, she is safely in exile in Cuba, a country she describes as “one of the largest, most resistant and most courageous palenques (palisades) that has ever existed on the face of this planet.”

Essential reading.

See also here.

United Nations condemn U.S. police brutality


This music video from the USA is called G.A.G.E. – I Am Mike Brown (Tribute).

From Reuters news agency:

UN Condemns U.S. Police Brutality, Calls For ‘Stand Your Ground’ Review

By Stephanie Nebehay

Posted: 08/30/2014 8:31 am EDT

* Panel issues recommendations after review of U.S. record

* Says killing of Michael Brownnot an isolated event

* Decries racial bias of police, pervasive discrimination

* ACLU calls for addressing racial inequality in America

GENEVA, Aug 29 – The U.N. racism watchdog urged the United States on Friday to halt the excessive use of force by police after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman touched off riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of disparities, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said after examining the U.S. record.

“Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing,” Noureddine Amir, CERD committee vice chairman, told a news briefing.

Teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer on Aug. 9, triggering violent protests that rocked Ferguson – a St. Louis suburb – and shone a global spotlight on the state of race relations in America.

“The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown,” said Amir, an expert from Algeria.

“This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials.”

The panel of 18 independent experts grilled a senior U.S. delegation on Aug. 13 about what they said was persistent racial discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities, including within the criminal justice system.

U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper told the panel that his nation had made “great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination” but conceded that “we have much left to do”.

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, has been put on paid leave and is in hiding. A St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence and the U.S. Justice Department has opened its own investigation.

Police have said Brown struggled with Wilson when shot. But some witnesses say Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest.

“STAND YOUR GROUND” LAWS

In its conclusions issued on Friday, the U.N. panel said “Stand Your Ground” Laws, a controversial self-defense statute in 22 U.S. states, should be reviewed to “remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to principles of necessity and proportionality when deadly force is used for self-defense”.

Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old shot dead in a car in Jacksonville, Florida during an argument over loud rap music in November 2012, attended the Geneva session. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed in Miami, Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, testified.

The U.N. panel monitors compliance with a treaty ratified by 177 countries including the United States.

“The Committee remains concerned at the practice of racial profiling of racial or ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration, border enforcement officials and local police,” it said, urging investigations.

The experts called for addressing obstacles faced by minorities and indigenous peoples to exercise their right to vote effectively. This was due to restrictive voter identification laws, district gerrymandering and state-level laws that disenfranchise people convicted of felonies, it said.

Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the U.N. recommendations highlighted “shortcomings on racial equality that we are seeing play out today on our streets, at our borders and in the voting booth.

“When it comes to human rights, the United States must practice at home what it preaches abroad,” he said.

For the second time in less than a month, the New York City Medical Examiner’s office determined that New York Police Department officers were criminally responsible for a man’s death. A spokeswoman announced Friday that the death of Ron Singleton was a homicide attributable to “physical restraint by police.” Singleton, a 45-year-old worker, was killed by police officers on July 13 after being taken into custody as an “emotionally disturbed person”: here.

The death of a 22-year-old Louisiana man who was in police custody at the time has become a new focus of national attention. Victor White III of New Iberia, Louisiana, about 130 miles west of New Orleans, is the third young man to die in a series of “Houdini handcuff” suicides that have occurred across the country over a two-year span: here.