Bears in Alaska and British Columbia


This 31 July 2020 video from North America says about itself:

Majestic Bears of Alaska & British Columbia | Free Documentary Nature

Our film journey begins in Alaska’s west. We are hoping to find glacier bears in the glacial regions of the Katmai National Park on the Douglas River. At the end of July, brown bears have now arrived to fish for salmon. In the surrounding forests, grizzlies look for berries and fresh, green twigs.

The Katmai is Alaska’s most volcanic area, and with 15 active volcanoes it is a veritable powder keg, surrounded by glaciers. In the Hook glacier region moose and lynx accompany us. Bald eagles have arrived at the glacial boundary and begin to tear apart their freshly caught prey. At last, we catch sight of a glacier bear. Hungry, he has left the ice region and has been forced down here in search of food, which he satisfies extensively with fresh shoots and berries.

Continuing our film trip, we head for Prince Royal Island in British Columbia. En route, we meet with black bears on their way with their young to fish for salmon. The mother bears have to remain alert to protect their young, as we have spotted some New World porcupines too.

Then, out of the blue, directly in front of us: the Kermode, or spirit bear. He shows no signs of timidity and is only interested in one thing: salmon. Then, a further Kermode appears, enjoying his cranberry dessert, allowing us to approach him, almost too close for comfort. But a black bear arrives on the scene and claims the cranberry bush for itself. After a brief confrontation, the Kermode opts to leave, preferring to focus on salmon fishing. Fascinating footage of this rare species of animal.

Policeman killer of Michael Brown scot free


This 1 August 2020 video says about itself:

Prosecutor Will Not Charge The Police Officer Who Shot And Killed Michael Brown In Ferguson

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell announced that he will not charge former police officer Darren Wilson with the murder of Michael Brown. Wilson, a white officer, shot and killed Brown on Aug. 9, 2014.

Bell reasoned that after an independent and in-depth review of the evidence they could not prove that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law.

By Ceren Sagir, 31 July 2020:

US police officer who shot a black US teenager will not have charges brought against him

A FORMER police officer who shot dead a black teenager will not have charges brought against him, prosecutors in St Louis, Missouri, said on Thursday evening.

The killing of Michael Brown in 2014 in the city’s Ferguson district triggered weeks of protests and led to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Police, eyewitness and family members continue to dispute what happened to the 18-year-old, who was shot at 12 times while walking down a street with a friend.

By Isaac Finn in the USA, 1 August 2020:

New prosecutor refuses to press charges against cop that killed Michael Brown

1 August 2020

On July 30, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Wesley Bell announced that no charges would be filed against Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in 2014. The murder of Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, and earlier failure to indict Wilson, who is white, six years ago sparked massive nationwide protests against racist police violence.

In justifying his decision Bell, elected St. Louis County’s first African-American prosecuting attorney in 2018, stated, “Although this case represents one of the most significant moments in St. Louis’ history, the question for this office was a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law?”

Bell claimed that a review of the evidence could not prove Wilson’s guilt, continuing the whitewash carried out by his predecessor, Bob McCulloch.

In fact, there is a substantial body of evidence showing Wilson gunned down the 18-year-old, despite the youth not posing any threat to the cop. Most witnesses to the event cited in a federal government report described that Wilson initially tried to force Brown into his police car and shot the youth after he attempted to flee. Brown, who was injured by the initial volley of gunfire and some distance away, then tried to surrender putting his hands up and turning around. Wilson then resumed shooting, with one bullet fatally hitting Brown in the head.

An independent autopsy of Brown’s body was also conducted in 2014 by long-time medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden and forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells. The autopsy disproved claims by Ferguson police that the death was caused by a physical altercation between Brown and Wilson.

Bell, in an attempt to distance himself from his own decision to not file against the former cop, also stated, “There are so many points at which Darren Wilson could have handled the situation differently, and if he had, Michael Brown might still be alive.”

One of Wilson’s lawyers, Jim Tower, told the New York Times that neither he nor Wilson was aware of the investigation.

Bell’s failure to bring any charges against the former cop are a travesty of justice and indicative of the entire political establishment’s defense of police violence. Bell became prosecuting attorney last year after beating incumbent McCulloch on a platform of reforms to reduce jailing for non-violent crimes and transparent investigations. Both Bell and McCulloch are Democrats.

McCulloch was known to have close ties to the police. As prosecutor, he utilized a grand jury process that lasted three months to clear Wilson and claimed that “physical evidence” contradicted the accounts of witnesses. The decision by the grand jury not to indict was suspicious given the amount of evidence and witnesses involved in the case. An indictment does not have the same legal standard as a guilty verdict in a trial.

Mass anger over Brown’s killing and the decision not to indict Wilson, resulted in protests across the US. Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon deployed National Guard troops to disperse the peaceful demonstrations in Ferguson.

The Obama administration throughout the protests feigned sympathy for Brown’s family, while accepting the grand jury decision and decrying “mistrust of the police.”

Following Bell’s victory over McCulloch in the 2018 Democratic primary, there was a growing demand for Bell to reinvestigate the killing of Brown. Brown’s family also made a public plea to the attorney to reopen the case.

A number of liberal publications including the Times also hailed the election of Bell and Ella Jones, the first African-American mayor of Ferguson, claiming that they would be more sympathetic to peaceful protests and open to reforms.

On the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s murder, the WSWS noted:

…The military/police occupation of Ferguson revealed to the whole world that behind the outward trappings of democracy in the US, the groundwork for a police state has been created. This is one expression of the deep decay and crisis of American capitalism.

The last two months have completely confirmed the perspective of the WSWS. The promotion of politicians like Bell with the claim that due to his race he will implement policies that benefit the poor or “black community” has proven to be a complete failure.

In fact, in the US roughly 1,000 people are killed by police every year. While a disproportionate number of people killed by police are black and the plurality are white, the shared aspect of those killed by police is that they are poor. According to the data gathered by killedbypolice.net, which has tracked police killings in the US since 2015, the number of police killings has remained relatively constant under both the Obama and Trump administration.

The ongoing wave of police killings is reflective of the continued lurching of the political establishment toward authoritarianism. The Trump administration’s deployment of federal agents to disperse protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in cities throughout the US is only the most recent and overt expression of the ruling elite’s moves toward dictatorship.

Cycad plants help other wildlife


This January 2020 video is called World’s Largest Cycad Collection at Nong Nooch, Thailand.

From the University of Guam:

Cycad plants provide an important ‘ecosystem service’

Loss of cycads from natural habitats may create detrimental ripple effects for other organisms

July 27, 2020

A study published in the June 2020 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Horticulturae shows that cycads, which are in decline and among the world’s most threatened group of plants, provide an important service to their neighboring organisms. The study, completed by researchers from the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center at the University of Guam and the Montgomery Botanical Center in Miami, found that at least two cycad species share nitrogen and carbon through the soil, thereby creating habitable environments for other organisms.

“The new knowledge from this study shows how loss of cycad plants from natural habitats may create detrimental ripple effects that negatively influence the other organisms that evolved to depend on their ecosystem services,” said Patrick Griffith, executive director of the Montgomery Botanical Center.

Cycad plants host nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria within specialized roots. The tiny microbes willingly share the newly acquired nitrogen with their hosts as their contribution to a symbiosis that benefits both organisms.

Research teams at the University of Guam have long been studying the nutrient relations of Cycas micronesica throughout its endemic range, according to Adrian Ares, associate director of the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center.

“This unique arborescent cycad species is of cultural and ecological importance, and the findings illuminate new knowledge about the ecosystem services that are provided by the plant,” Ares said.

The study focused on the concentrations in soil of three elements that impact the growth and development of living organisms. In soils nearby the cycad plants, nitrogen and carbon increased to concentrations that exceeded those of soils that were distant from the plants. In contrast, phosphorus concentrations were depleted in the soils nearby the cycad plants when compared to the distant soils.

“In addition to the direct contributions of carbon and nitrogen to the bulk soils, the chemical changes imposed by the cycad plants created niche habitats that increased spatial heterogeneity in the native forests,” Ares said, adding that ecosystems with high biodiversity are generally more resistant to damage by threats and more resilient after the negative impacts.

The niche spaces created by the cycad plants provide the soil food web with a microhabitat that differs from the surrounding forest soils. These soils imprinted by the cycad plants benefit the organisms that exploit spaces characterized by greater nitrogen levels relative to phosphorus and greater carbon levels relative to phosphorus. Scientists call these elemental relationships “stoichiometry,” and much has been studied about the importance of these relationships to organismal health and productivity.

The model cycad plants that were employed for the study included two of the cycad species that are native to the United States.

“This study was apropos because the Montgomery Botanical Center is positioned within Zamia integrifolia habitat in Miami, Fla., and the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center is within Cycas micronesica habitat in Mangilao, Guam,” Griffith said.

The Florida species is the only cycad species that is native to the continental United States, and the Guam species is the only Cycas species native to the United States.

“Both research teams were gratified to successfully answer questions that were asked of the botanical denizens that have long resided in the respective local forests,” Griffith said.

Korean cult boss arrested for spreading coronavirus


This 17 September 2018 video says about itself:

Accused South Korean cult leader filmed beating her followers

Footage has emerged of a South Korean pastor beating and slapping her followers. The video also appears to show family members being encouraged to abuse each other. Pastor Shin Ok-ju led 400 of her followers from South Korea to Fiji where it is alleged she was using them to work without pay. Shin was arrested when she returned to Seoul from Fiji in August. The footage in this video was first aired by Seoul Broadcasting System’s investigative program ‘Unanswered Questions’.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

South Korean cult leader arrested for withholding information about outbreak

In South Korea, the leader of the Christian Shincheonji cult has been arrested. The 89-year-old Lee Man-hee is said to have withheld information about the outbreak in his sect in February.

The Shincheonji cult has been linked to 5,200 infections, 36 percent of all coronavirus cases in South Korea. According to the indictment, Lee refused to share information with the authorities about the 200,000 members and where they meet. This made it more difficult for health services to contain the outbreak.

Lee previously called the coronavirus “an act of the devil”, who supposedly wanted to put an end to the growth of his cult.