Film on unarmed people killed by Cincinnati, USA police


This 2012 video says about itself:

Cincinnati Goddamn Video Compilation

Cincinnati Goddamn” is a feature-length documentary about police brutality, judicial misconduct, and the power of grassroots activism in Cincinnati, Ohio. The film focuses on the murders of Roger Owensby, Jr., and Timothy Thomas at the hands of Cincinnati Police.

Set against the backdrop of a successful economic boycott and a federal investigation into the city’s policing practices, this poignant and powerful story of injustice is told through first-person accounts and cinema verité footage of the surviving families’ long-suffering battle for justice.

From The Lantern in Ohio, USA:

“Cincinnati Goddamn” brings audience attention to police brutality and social change

By Japera Benson

September 3, 2015

With the riots in Ferguson, Missouri and the debate of Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter, the documentary “Cincinnati Goddamn” came at an opportune time. “Cincinnati Goddamn” covers 15 unarmed black men killed by the Cincinnati Police Department, primarily focusing on the untimely deaths of Roger Owensby Jr. and Timothy Thomas. Though taking place from 1995 to 2001, its relevance is still seen 14 years later.

This music video is called Nina Simone – Mississippi Goddam. Recorded in the Netherlands in 1965.

The name of the film alludes to this Nina Simone song.

On Wednesday night, more than 1,000 people came to view the film at Ohio State’s Wexner Center for the Arts. The event was also live streamed at the Mansfield campus.

This film examined the negative relationship between the citizens of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Police Department. The film also covered the trials of the police officers charged with killing the men and the rioting that followed the officers’ acquittals. “Cincinnati Goddamn” followed the long-lasting impact of the victims’ families and, ultimately, the city of Cincinnati.

Following the film, there was a Q&A session with April Martin and Paul Hill, co-directors of the film; Iris Roley, a community activist and monitor of the Cincinnati Police-Community Collaborative Agreement; and Rhonda Williams, the director of the Social Justice Institute at Case Western Reserve University. Treva Lindsey — an OSU assistant professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies — served as the moderator.

During the Q&A session, Williams said they are looking for ways to enforce “education instead of militarization of police forces.”

Martin said that she hopes for “the police to be part of, or at least understand the community they work in.” Martin added that if that doesn’t work, “(we) can start to police our own communities.”

“Cincinnati really started it all and it really goes hand-in-hand with the events happening in Ferguson, Missouri,” said Ginette Rhodes, a first-year in exploration, that was in attendance.

Rhodes is from the St. Louis area herself. She noted that she thought the film was very powerful and that it should be used as an educational tool to help people understand police brutality and affect change.

Hannah Sanders, a first-year in business and a Cincinnati native, was also in attendance.

“I was only 3-years-old when it happened, so I’ve grown up hearing about it, but I’ve never seen it like that,” Sanders said.

Co-director Hill said he foresees “Cincinnati Goddamn” to be available on DVD or online sometime next year.

New Spanish migratory bird atlas


This 2014 video is called Rare birds in Spain.

From BirdLife:

Coming soon: An atlas of Spain’s migratory birds

By Juan Carlos del Moral, Mon, 31/08/2015 – 09:37

Bird conservation’s key pillars are knowledge of the area of distribution, abundance, trend and size of the populations of birds. In countries like Spain, which see a large number of migratory birds, knowledge of migration routes and resting sites is also necessary. SEO (BirdLife in Spain) has been working for decades with the collaboration of thousands of volunteers to collect data.

SEO’s Bird Monitoring Unit launched the Migra initiative in 2011 to describe the movements of each migratory bird species that breeds or winters in Spain over one or several years. This means tracking, among other things, which species undertake long trips, their migration routes, resting areas during the trip, and wintering areas. In the short term, SEO aims to use Migra data and results from previous studies to compile and publish an atlas of bird migration in Spain.

Migra’s new marking systems – which include satellite transmitters, GPS data loggers and geolocators – establish the location of the bird several times a day for several years, allowing us to know exactly how long they stay in their breeding and wintering areas, when they begin their migration, the route they follow, their speed and altitude, how climate change and weather conditions affect migration, and whether the birds use the same route each time.

The data is stored in the device and can be recovered by recapturing the bird carrying it, downloading over a small distance or receiving them through a satellite system via the Internet. While these devices have their drawbacks and problems of their own (difficulty in recapturing birds to extract data; necessity of the device to be small, very lightweight and aerodynamic; batteries only last a few years), they have yielded much critical information. Since 2011, Migra has tracked data from 332 birds (98 are still active) belonging to 24 species, totalling 634,460 recorded locations (at the time of publishing).

Migra also helps fill the gaps in avian information: There is more data available for certain highly endangered and rare species, very limited information for many medium or large birds and virtually non-existent records for most small Spanish birds. It is important to know the migratory behaviour of each species as soon as possible, because without that information, we will lose track of what existed before and we will not have the basic information available to understand the changes in their biology.

What has been confirmed in recent decades is that many species have changed their migratory behaviour annually. Some of them have shortened their movements and do not cross to Africa (an increasing number of White Storks, Black Storks and Booted Eagles spend the winter on the Mediterranean coast or in the lower course of River Guadalquivir). These changes are thought to be at least partially due to climate change, resulting in milder winters and more food in the breeding areas.

But Migra is not only useful for scientific research. It can also be used as a tool for people to understand the spectacular phenomenon of migration. To this end, SEO proposes to expand the Migra website from Spain to all of Europe, Asia and Africa, across BirdLife International partners. Spreading awareness about migration and the perils migratory birds face among people not familiar with the subject could be a huge conservation tool.

European Union correctly criticized about refugees’ deaths


Drowned three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan, dead on the Turkish coast

This photo shows three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, a refugee from the war-destroyed town Kobani, dead on the Turkish coast. Aylan drowned this week, together with his mother, his brother and other Syrian refugees.

Again and again, on this blog there has been sharp well-deserved criticism for President Erdogan of Turkey.

However, even broken clocks indicate the right time twice a day.

Even politicians who are wrong nearly all the time may be right a few times.

Today, it’s Erdogan’s turn for that.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

European Union is partly responsible for death of each refugee

Today, 18:32

“Europe is making the Mediterranean a refugee grave. The EU by its policy is partly responsible for the death of all refugees losing their lives.” That is the harsh criticism by Turkish President Erdogan of the current refugee problem.

“In the Mediterranean not only refugees drowned, but also our humanity,” said Erdogan. His country has since 2011 accepted about one and a half million refugees from the Middle East. The EU is 5.5 times bigger than Turkey and is struggling this year with the reception of between half a million and a million refugees.

Britain: Ukip candidate sparks outrage after blaming Aylan Kurdi’s ‘greedy’ parents for his death: here.

By Markus Salzmann:

Thousands of refugees held at Budapest train station

3 September 2015

More than 3,000 refugees—the majority of them families with children—have been held at the Budapest East Train Station in miserable conditions since the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban blocked the access of refugees to the station.

Hundreds of refugees participated in a demonstration Wednesday demanding the right to continue their journey to Germany. They shouted slogans such as “freedom, freedom!” Jeering could be heard outside the station as angry refugees shouted at the hundreds of heavily armed police blocking the main entrance.

Since Tuesday, refugees have been camping outdoors since they are no longer permitted on the grounds of the station from which trains leave for Austria. A few found shelter in the neighboring subway station.

The hygienic conditions are disastrous. Only four portable toilets have been provided. The refugees have received no public assistance or accommodation. Help has come only from small organizations and private individuals who have distributed donated food and clothing and provided basic medical care. A reporter for the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel called the situation a “fundamental violation of human rights.”

The clearing of refugees from the train station was abrupt and harsh. Departures from the station were completely halted. Then, after a few hours, the station was reopened to passengers, but refugees were no longer permitted to enter, even though many had already bought tickets.

“The police came and told the Syrians: the trains are open,” a refugee told the German television news program Tagesschau. “Then they all bought a ticket here, 200 euro per person. Then the police came back when they had blocked everything off and said: ‘The trains are closed for you.’ We have not gotten our money back.”

The Hungarian police had unexpectedly allowed refugees to travel on Monday. The trains out of Hungary were stopped at the Austrian border, however, and the passengers had to wait for hours in extreme heat. According to the Austrian police, refugees who had already been registered in Hungary had to return to Budapest. The others would be permitted to seek asylum in Austria. The “aid” promised by the government for refugees in Budapest is contemptible given the situation. A tent camp is supposed to be erected beside the station within two weeks. With a capacity of between 800 and 1,000, it will barely accommodate a third of the immigrants.

Though EU countries such as Germany shed crocodile tears over the brutal treatment of refugees by Eastern European governments, the measures being carried out have their full support.

The heavy influx of refugees from Syria and other countries that have been devastated by the military and political interventions of the Western powers has led to the breakdown of the so-called Dublin Rule, which requires refugees to register and be processed in the first EU member country they enter. The authorities in Greece and Hungary are unable and unwilling to deal with the large numbers passing through their territories.

Berlin, in particular, has exerted pressure on the government in Budapest to prevent the refugees from traveling. As asylum seekers left for Germany on Monday, a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry declared, “Germany has not suspended Dublin.” In other words, the refugees should stay in Hungary and not seek better conditions by travelling to the north and west.

One can assume that the German government is frantically working behind the scenes to ensure that the Hungarian government prevents the onward journey of more refugees. This may well be the reason why the Orban government cordoned off the train station again.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is also exerting pressure on Orban to stop the stream of refugees. The two will meet on Thursday in Brussels to discuss the crisis.

In spite of the dramatic scenes unfolding in the Hungarian capital, Orban announced that he would treat refugees more harshly in the future. Chancellery Minister János Lázár said the police would be mobilized at the border and equipped with water cannon and rubber bullets. The security forces would not actively prevent refugees at the border from entering the country. “But the time for that will arrive,” Lázár declared.

Lázár confirmed media reports that the right-wing government in Budapest wants to deploy the army against refugees. The parliament will create the necessary legal framework in the coming week, he said. The government plans to use 13 new emergency laws to reduce the flow of refugees, starting in the middle of the month.

Hungary has erected a 175-kilometer fence on its border with Serbia. Most refugees travel through Greece and the Balkans until they get to Serbia. From there, they cross into the so-called Schengen area, the contiguous territory of 28 EU member-states where there is free movement across internal borders.

According to press reports from the German federal police, between 750 and 800 refugees a day travel to Hungary by land from Greece, through Macedonia and Serbia. The refugees originate predominantly in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

At a meeting of the Visegrád countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), Orban and his counterparts discussed plans for treating refugees even more harshly.

Twenty-five years after the collapse of Stalinism in these countries, the false promises of democracy and freedom have been replaced by chauvinism and police repression. Capitalism is revealing its ugly and inhuman face. Refugees who have been on the road for weeks are being greeted by the authorities with hostility and rejection.

Czech Republic Finance Minister and Vice President Andrej Babis is demanding a NATO deployment to keep refugees out of the EU. “We must close the Schengen area from the outside,” the millionaire businessman and founder of the right-wing liberal party ANO declared Tuesday on Czech radio. The flow of refugees is “the biggest danger for Europe,” he added.

Czech President Miloš Zeman echoed these remarks and accused countries such as Greece and Italy of a “lack of will power” when it came to protecting their borders. At the beginning of August, he said in an interview: “No one has invited refugees here.” He added that his country would rather take Ukrainian refugees because they “integrate themselves better in society than Muslims.” Social Democratic Minister President Bohuslav Sobotka spoke against the required quotas of refugees announced by the EU.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico denounced the refugees and said it was impossible to determine for certain that there were no terrorists among them. Before that, Ivan Metik, spokesperson of the Slovakian Interior Ministry, said that Slovakia would accept only Christian Syrians.

Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke in favor of closing the border to refugees, adding that Poland wanted to take only Ukrainian refugees. “Other European countries should take that into account when we talk about readiness to help,” Duda told the German Bild newspaper.

The right-wing Polish government has already explained to Brussels that it is willing to accept only 2,000 refugees from Syria and Eritrea. Even this token number has prompted harsh criticism from Duda’s national conservative camp, which refers to the “Islamization” of Poland.

The Balkan countries Macedonia and Serbia, which are not EU member-states, are likewise taking harsh action against refugees. Macedonia blocked the border with barbed wire for two days and fired tear gas and rubber bullets on refugees.

The xenophobic attitude of the Eastern European governments, which are highly unstable and lack significant public support, is encouraging attacks on refugees by the most right-wing forces in the region.

On August 27, the fascist “64 Burgkomitate” held a demonstration in front of the Budapest East train station. Ahead of the demonstration, a group of neo-Nazis attacked several refugees who were waiting for their train. When the police arrived, they left the attackers alone and detained the refugees, including children, and took them to provisional refugee lodgings.

Refugees and Hungarian supporters at the train station in Szeged faced a similar situation when refugees were attacked by fascist gangs with close ties to the ultranationalist Jobbik party. Here as well, the police did not intervene. Various groups publicly and repeatedly boasted on social networks that they were hunting refugees on the Serbian border and “maintaining order.”

In Slovakia, the government campaign against refugees has led to riots. On Tuesday, several hundred right-wing extremists from the Our Slovakia party of Marian Kotleba demonstrated in the village of Gabcikovo, where some 500 refugees have been taken.

Meanwhile, today a train departed from Budapest station. Refugee passengers thought that at last their train tickets to Austria and Germany would bring them to Austria and Germany indeed. The xenophobic Hungarian government had a cruel surprise for them: it made the train stop at a prison camp in Bicske town.

Hungarian police dragging refugee family off railway track

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Refugees lie down out of despair on rails at Hungarian camp

Today, 17:10

In protest, a man pulls his family on the train rails at the station where the train stopped. “I will not go,” he shouts. “I had to leave my country. I left everything. I’m staying here on this track.”

Many of the refugees who just arrived on a train from Budapest do not know how to cope. They were on their way to Sopron, near the Austrian border, but were stopped in the Hungarian town of Bicske, where there is a refugee camp.

Policemen pull the man harshly off the track. They have been trying to catch all afternoon refugees from the trains, but these resist strongly. Before this man and his family already dozens of others lied down on the rails.

‘No camp’

The train left at the end of the morning from Budapest. It is the first train since Tuesday transporting migrants. The vehicle seemed on the way to the Austrian border, but stopped already after 40 kilometers.

In Bicske, the Hungarian police has by now sent all journalists away from the station. The refugees are still not giving in. …

Meanwhile refugees bang on the windows of the train. “No camp, no camp!” they cry.

UPDATE 3 September, 22:52, NOS TV: Refugees in three trains are now surrounded by police at Bicske.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

German chancellor feigns sympathy for refugees

3 September 2015

Merkel has finally found the right words,” “Merkel’s words are encouraging,” and “Suddenly chancellor for refugees” read the headlines on the traditional summer press conference given Monday in Berlin by Chancellor Angela Merkel. The press was enraptured by Merkel’s references to “human dignity” and the “incredible suffering” of refugees, her description of the refugee problem as a “national task that affects everybody,” and her threat to confront violent xenophobes with “the full force of law.”

In fact, the policy of the German government has not changed. It continues to be characterised by a brutal disregard for refugees fleeing for their lives from the war zones in the Middle East and Africa.

For months, Merkel remained silent on the fate of refugees and the series of arson attacks on refugee shelters in Germany. As recently as mid-July, a video went viral showing Merkel in her typically bureaucratic manner reducing a Palestinian student to tears by telling her that she still faced deportation despite her excellent academic performance.

Merkel has adopted a different tone in recent days basically for two reasons.

First, she completely misjudged the mood of the population. Despite determined efforts, in particular by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Saxony and the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria, the government has failed to incite xenophobic sentiments on a large scale. Refugees have been met with a wave of solidarity, which intensified after the recent series of arson attacks and neo-Nazi demonstrations in front of refugee centres. Many people instinctively realise that the refugees are victims of a policy that is also a threat to themselves.

Merkel’s cynical expressions of compassion are aimed at absorbing such sentiments. The pastor’s daughter from East Germany is adept at such gestures. She owes her stunning political ascent not to any firmly held beliefs, but rather to her ability to detect and adapt to the prevailing trend—only to steer it in a reactionary direction.

Second, even if it sought to do so, the government could not immediately curb the influx of refugees. The Dublin Rule that for years kept asylum seekers away from Germany’s borders has virtually collapsed. The agreement, which came into force in 1997, stipulates that refugees must seek asylum and remain in the first European Union (EU) country they enter. The agreement has proved extremely beneficial for Germany, which has no external borders with the regions from which most of the refugees come.

The massive influx of refugees from Syria and other countries that have been ruined as a result of the military and political intervention of the Western powers has overwhelmed the Dublin agreement. Refugees are either prevented from crossing borders by means of brute state force, or handed on as soon as possible to the next country.

This begins on the Greek islands, where fugitives, having crossed the Aegean Sea, are housed under unspeakable conditions, and continues at the borders of Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary.

The Hungarian government has sealed off its border with Serbia with a fence and is considering the use of the military. The main railway station of Budapest was temporarily blocked and then cleared of refugees by the police. On Monday, thousands of desperate refugees were able to board packed trains before the station was cordoned off again. The trains were stopped again at the Austrian border, ostensibly for security reasons. Finally, Austria organised special trains to transport some of the refugees to Germany.

Previously, the Dublin Rule kept refugees out of Germany. Now, it is doing the opposite. There is no country to which the German government can pass on the refugees.

In addition, many EU countries, especially Greece, have been so impoverished by the austerity policies imposed by Berlin that many refugees have concluded that better opportunities await them in Germany. Merkel was cynical enough to cite this as proof that “the world sees Germany as a land of hope and opportunity.” She added, with a nod to Germany’s past, “This really was not always the case.”

If one looks at Merkel’s statements to the press more carefully, it becomes clear that she is trying to buy time. She wants to impose her conditions on the other EU member states to remove refugees to the fringes of the EU and—under the pretext of combatting the roots of the refugee problem—prepare new wars and military interventions in Africa and the Middle East.

She has insisted that other European countries, and eastern European countries in particular, take in more refugees. “Europe as a whole needs to move,” she declared. The EU as a whole would be damaged, she said, if Europe failed to address the refugee issue. She announced that, together with France, she will push for the rapid erection of registration centres in Greece and Italy.

In Brussels, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who works closely with Merkel, wrote a letter to all EU member governments threatening them with fines if they failed to comply with the Dublin procedure. On Thursday, Juncker will admonish Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán personally in Brussels.

In Germany itself, Merkel announced, the processing of asylum applications is to be accelerated, so that rejected applicants can be deported quickly. Refugees will be compelled to remain in prison camp-like reception centres until their applications are processed. Only in the event of acceptance will they be transferred to accommodation in the municipalities.

By September 24, the government plans to present a programme that will significantly lower the standards for accommodation of refugees under the pretext of reducing bureaucratic hurdles. For example, the regulations for fire and pollution control are to be watered down.

Merkel promised that the federal government would support the states and municipalities with “billions” to bear the costs of accommodation and management of refugees. She did not specify an exact amount. However, it is assumed that the sum will be well below the €5 billion Finance Minister Schäuble is due to rake in this year due to increased tax returns.

In the media, there is a growing chorus demanding that the refugee crisis be fought at its root—i.e., via military intervention in those countries already destroyed by previous Western military actions.

On Monday, Richard Herzinger thundered in Die Welt against the “conspiracy theory” that “with its aggressive intervention, especially in the Middle East, the West created the bloody chaos that has forced millions of people to flee.” He continued: “Not the intervention of the West, but its shameful retreat has detonated the region…. The current crisis reminds the West, and particularly Europe, to undertake not less, but more global interventionism.”

Bird migration in Italy


This 2006 video is about a starling murmuration in Rome, italy.

From BirdLife:

Bird migration through Italy: The good, the bad and the ugly

By Claudio Celada, Wed, 02/09/2015 – 09:06

The beauty of Italy, and how easy it is to recognise from space was recently lauded by an Italian cosmonaut. The cosmonaut may be biased of course, but there’s no doubt the elongated shape of the country and its position in the middle of the Mediterranean is of crucial geographic importance for millions of birds migrating between Africa and Eurasia.

From a conservation viewpoint, it seems like a good time to ask ourselves how dangerous a migratory trip along the Italian flyway is. Has the situation improved in the 50 years since BirdLife’s Italian partner LIPU was created?

To answer these questions, we start with BirdLife’s recent report on the illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean. The report clearly highlights that Italy is by far the worst country on the northern rim of the region, with an estimated 5.6 million birds killed yearly in the country. This figure reflects the fact that illegal killing of birds (especially of passerines) in Italy is still widespread. This is certainly the case for most of the islands, for a vast region in the central Alps and for many areas along the peninsula.

But there are also reasons for hope, in particular from a LIPU case study in southern Sardinia. LIPU has a long history of fighting illegal killing and taking in this area, mainly by removing thousands of traps each year from the beautiful but deadly evergreen forests and maquis (shrubland). It has only recently been possible – through the LIFE project A safe haven for wild birds: Changing attitudes towards illegal killing in North Mediterranean for European Biodiversity – to implement a comprehensive strategy, including raising awareness in schools, launching a public information campaign (called Leaving is Living) and stronger co-operation with enforcement agencies. This strategy is starting to pay off and the number of traps found in the area has decreased in the last few years.

Traditionally, hunters are a strong lobby in Italy and unfortunately have been mostly using their political power to support the continuation of these practices. But this group is ageing and recruitment of young hunters is proving difficult. Killing birds isn’t so cool in Italy anymore and mentalities are changing. LIPU is active in showing that while traditions are important, not all traditions are good–particularly not illegal ones.

In July 2015, the Italian Parliament approved a law to ban bird capturing by mist-nets and the use of living decoys. This is an extremely important step, although moving from theory to full implementation on the ground will require all our attention.

The campaign against the shooting of soaring birds of prey and storks on the Messina Strait has been a success both in Sicily and on the mainland. However, it would be a terrible mistake to reduce efforts in Italy’s main bottleneck. This is why LIPU and other organisations still help to patrol the area during migration.

For waterbirds, most of the largest Italian wetlands have been given legal protection and designation as Natura 2000 sites. The huge impact of hunting has been partially reduced as a result, but illegal killing and taking, pollution and a poor level of habitat management are still serious issues.

Overall, there are still many open wounds, but important battles have been fought and won. There are concrete signs that eliminating deadly traditions and illegal practices is possible. Many Italian youth are realising that birds have a right to migrate. In absolute terms, the situation is improving for birds travelling through Italy. However, many populations of migratory species have drastically fallen over the last few decades and the effects of climate change are expected to hit them harder in the coming years. So we need to intensify our efforts and speed up the healing process.

Monitoring birds in Europe: here.

Sandra Bland, Texas activists don’t forget her


This video from Texas, USA is called Sandra Bland Mass Action Waller County 08.09.15.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Sandra Bland activists maintain jail vigil despite dimming media spotlight

Activists make regular trips Waller County facility to celebrate Bland’s life and ‘ask the questions in person that her family and friends are asking’

Tom Dart in Hempstead, Texas

Thursday 3 September 2015 12.00 BST

The hourlong drive from Houston to the Waller County jail has become a regular commute for Hannah Bonner.

Since the death of Sandra Bland on 13 July, the United Methodist reverend has kept vigil outside the building almost every day, joined by others who are determined to honour Bland’s life and promote her legacy, long after the national gaze moved elsewhere and despite an ongoing investigation with few if any answers.

No one could deny that Bland’s death has prompted visible change at the jail. New barriers were erected in front of the building, eliminating the ability to sit or stand by the wall where protesters tended to gather because the overhanging roof made it the best place to find shade.

Bonner sometimes sat in a folding chair and strummed a guitar. Others brought posters, food and water. They used the jail’s restrooms. There were candles and statuettes of angels, and photographs of Bland. Bonner said people sought refuge from the summer sun and 100F temperatures under a tree in the parking lot. Last month, it was cut down.

Now, signs either side of the reflective-glass entry doors insist on “no loitering in the lobby”. The sheriff’s patience appeared to run out after 9 August – the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – when protesters entered [see video] and chanted for several minutes until officers forced them outside.

A day later, Bonner filmed the sheriff, Glenn Smith, telling her: “Why don’t you go back to the church of Satan that you run?” The next day she found temporary barricades had been erected by the wall along with signs saying “no one beyond this point”. Later in the month they were replaced with yellow and brown metal railings. She said the sheriff has taken pictures of her license plate.

A spokesman for the Waller County sheriff’s office did not respond to a request for comment. …

But most days are quiet now. On Tuesday, Bonner and Karisha Shaw, a Houston-based school worker, were there in the rain. “Our presence here is to keep the attention on Sandra Bland,” Bonner said. “We don’t really have answers to what happened to Sandra Bland and we might never know, but we do know she should never have been in this jail.”

Bonner said she has made the journey from Houston on all but four or five days since activists started showing up at the jail 50 days ago, emphasising that she is not a protester but part of a “peaceful prayer vigil here to honour Sandra Bland’s life and to ask the questions in person that her family and friends are asking”.

Bland was found dead on 13 July. The official account – that she hanged herself in cell 95 using a trash bag, three days after being arrested when a routine traffic stop turned into a confrontation with a state trooper – was hotly disputed. Her family and many on social media found it implausible

The 28-year-old’s death underlined strained relationships between African Americans and law enforcement, both in the context of the number of black people killed by police across the country and locally in this rural county with a history of racism.

Bland was moving from Chicago to start a job at the majority-black Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater. Flowers are still by the roadside at the spot where she was stopped on University Drive, near the campus.

Last week, the Prairie View city council voted to rename the road Sandra Bland Parkway for at least the next couple of years. A sign near the flowers in front of a balding patch of grass announces the “future home of the proposed Sandra Bland memorial park”. …

Bonner said: “Black Lives Matter is not about hating white people, it’s about loving black people, and if you feel [loving both races is] mutually exclusive, then that’s where the problem in our country lies.”

Legal processes are still pending and information about the fallout from Bland’s death is scarce. Brian Encinia, the trooper involved, was placed on administrative leave after video emerged of him threatening to “light up” Bland with a taser during the traffic stop.

A spokesperson for the Texas department of public safety (DPS) said that an investigation into his conduct is “ongoing”. The Waller County district attorney’s office, which said in July that it would present evidence on Encinia’s conduct to a grand jury for possible indictment, did not respond to a request for comment.

“We’re very, very disturbed at the fact that they [DPS] still have not terminated that man,” said Cannon Lambert, the Bland family’s attorney. “This situation is very public – transparency is huge. If there’s a reason why you’re keeping him on staff … then you should tell us.”

Last month, Texas lawmakers announced an investigation into jail safety standards and Bland’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against parties including the sheriff’s office, two jailers and Encinia. Lambert said the legal action means officials will have to provide them with information about the case, including details that will allow an independent autopsy to be completed.

Bland’s family has called for the US justice department to become involved, though that has not happened so far.

Pledging transparency, Smith, the sheriff, asked Paul Looney, a local attorney, to form a committee to conduct an independent investigation of the sheriff’s office. Looney said that the six-member panel had held several meetings, each person was working several hours a week to gather “impressions, observations and data” and that he is “completely” happy with the level of cooperation from the department.

“We’ve got access to every piece of paper they have, every prisoner, every deputy,” he said. “We’re not going to discuss anything [publicly] until we have a report ready.”

When will Bonner and others feel the time is right to stop coming? “We are looking for where that point is,” she said. “I told her sisters: ‘I’ll do this as long as you need me to’… What keeps me going is her videos, her goofy pictures with her family, her sense of what they’ve lost. I can think she’s freaking hilarious and amazing and I’ll never get to meet her.”

Migratory birds arrive in Africa, help them


This video is called Where Do Birds Go In Winter?

From BirdLife:

Africa, it’s your turn – migratory birds need you!

By Shaun Hurrell, Thu, 03/09/2015 – 15:17

Make your garden, balcony or school bird-friendly with Spring Alive

Migratory birds have already started arriving in Africa after their epic migrations from Europe and Asia. Nature is getting ready for their arrival; are you?

Nature is providing things that birds will need: budding leaves and fruits; taking insects to the air; trickling water. Millions of birds fly enormous distances every year to feed in Africa and escape the cold winter, and they need your support too. Click here for 10 reasons to get involved!

All along their migratory routes, children and adults are excitedly preparing for the arrival of birds with Spring Alive, an international project that launches its 2015 African season this week. Spring Alive is a BirdLife educational conservation initiative organised by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) that encourages children to take action for the conservation of the migratory birds they learn about.

“At this time of year, people of Africa need to celebrate and care for their amazing migratory birds; and the people of Europe and Asia will return the favour next spring,”

says Karolina Kalinowska, Spring Alive Coordinator.

This year Spring Alive wants you to make your garden or balcony bird-friendly to help support tired birds on their magnificent migrations! We need you to spring to action and make bird boxes, bird feeders and look after your birds as they arrive. Spring Alive educational events and web pages teach children and adults how. With a record number of 6.4million people reached through Spring Alive this year, this is potentially a strong force for the celebration and care of migratory birds on the African-Eurasian flyway.

As well as the bird-friendly garden theme this year, every year by posting their first sightings of Barn Swallow, White Stork, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift, and European Bee-eater on the www.springalive.net website, children from Europe, Central Asia and Africa create a real-time map of the incredible journeys these birds take every year. As well as by these migratory routes, Eurasian and African schools are also connected with matching initiatives like ‘Spring Twin’.

Migratory birds face threats from climate change including drought and mis-timing of the emergence of insects; agriculture; urbanisation; and hunting. With appreciation and support of local children and adults, hopefully these birds can find enough food and shelter to continue to return year after year.

Spring alive for birds! How you can get involved with Spring Alive in Africa this year:

  1. Check the Spring Alive events calendar and birds events map on the www.springalive.net website to go to an event near you.
  2. Share in the wonder of birds with others from Europe to Asia to Africa. Share your photos of migratory birds, Spring Alive events, birds in your garden, and actions to make your gardens/balconies bird-friendly on the Spring Alive facebook page: www.facebook.com/springaliveforbirds. Keep checking it for exciting photos and facts about the migratory species you can see, and tips on how to help them. 
  3. Get outside and take photos of migratory birds and birds in your garden as later this year we will be holding a photo competition on our flickr page: www.flickr.com/groups/springalive/
  4. What would your ideal bird-friendly garden look like? Enter the “A Perfect Garden” drawing contest to show us and you could win a pair of binoculars, supplied by Opticron. Other prizes include a White Stork wall clock and bird book. Enter at www.springalive.net/world/contest
  5. Record your observations of Barn Swallow, White Stork, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift, and European Bee-eater on the website.

Spring Alive was successful in 2015 in Europe & Asia; now Africa it is your turn!

Spring Alive poster

  • Over 6.4 million people reached
  • 104 371 observations
  • 629 events held (333 outdoors, 296 indoors)
  • 55 conservation actions organised
  • At least 185 new members gained for BirdLife Partners
  • 10th anniversary of the European season of the project took place this year
  • Over 3,400 teachers helped children learn about Spring Alive species and the phenomenon of bird migration
  • 54,694 children and 13,113 adults directly engaged in Spring Alive
  • 455 volunteers directly involved in Spring Alive activities

Spring Alive is an international campaign to encourage children’s interest in nature and the conservation of migratory birds. Spring Alive is organised by OTOP, the BirdLife Partner in Poland, on behalf of the BirdLife Partnership. Wildlife groups, teachers and others who would like to become more involved in Spring Alive should contact the International Manager, Karolina Kalinowska, at karolina.kalinowska@otop.org.pl

For more information go to: www.springalive.net

Follow Spring Alive on Facebook, YouTube and flickr.

Supermoon lunar eclipse, September 27th, 2015


This video from the USA says about itself:

NASA | Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

31 August 2015

On September 27th, 2015 there will be a very rare event in the night sky – a supermoon lunar eclipse. Watch this animated feature to learn more.

Ed Mazza in the USA about this:

09/03/2015 04:10 AM EDT

It’s a supermoon and a lunar eclipse at the same time, and it’ll be visible in much of the world on the night of Sept. 27 in North and South America and the morning of Sept. 28 in Europe, Africa and parts of Central Asia (sorry, Asia-Pacific — most of you will miss out on this one).