Sandra Bland, murdered for her #BlackLivesMatter views?


Sandra Bland

By Andre Damon in the USA:

The police murder of Sandra Bland

23 July 2015

The July 13 death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman, in an East Texas jail cell has once again brought the issues of police violence and attacks on democratic rights to the forefront of political life in the United States.

At this point, it is unknown precisely how Bland, a vocal opponent of police violence, met her death. But one thing is clear: no credence can be given to anything coming from official channels about the circumstances of her death.

According to the official narrative, the newly employed young woman used a trash bag to hang herself “in a semi-standing position” from a wall partition post not much taller than her own height. Only an hour before she supposedly took this drastic action, she spoke to jail staff about making a phone call. There was, conveniently, no video of the hall leading to her jail cell in the hours before she died—according to police because the cameras are set off by motion detectors.

A comment in the New York Times by columnist Charles Blow points to a number of additional discrepancies in the official account, including the fact that video of Bland’s cell after her death shows a trash can with the garbage bag still in it. Moreover, a bible in the cell appears to have been opened to a page referencing suicide sometime after Bland was killed.

Bland’s family immediately rejected any possibility that Bland had committed suicide, noting that she was excited about her new job. Adding to the uncertainty surrounding the case was the revelation yesterday of glitches in the official dashboard camera video depicting Bland’s arrest, which Texas officials attributed to technical errors.

Whatever the physical cause of her death, criminal responsibility lies with the police. On July 10, Bland was driving in her car to begin a new job when she was stopped by a cop who threatened and brutalized her, and then arrested her without cause. The actions of this officer set into motion a series of events that ended in her death three days later.

The video footage that does exist of Bland’s arrest provides a picture of the daily outrages perpetrated by police in the United States. The young woman was stopped for a minor traffic infraction—supposedly failing to use her turn signal. When she questioned demands from police officer Brian Encinia to put out her cigarette (an unlawful demand), she was ordered out of the car. When she protested this outrageous treatment, she was threatened with a Taser by Encinia, who yelled, “I will light you up!”

After being forced out of the car, Bland was told by Encinia that she was under arrest. When she sought to use her phone to record the incident and asked what she was being arrested for, Encinia brutally attacked her. In a cell phone video, Bland is heard complaining loudly that her face had been slammed into the ground.

Given the vast amount of information available to police on the political views and activities of the American population, it is likely that Encinia had at his disposal records indicating Bland’s vocal opposition on social media to police violence and her likely participation in protests against police killings. The video shows the officer taking a more provocative tone after checking her license and looking up her records in his squad car. The episode leaves the distinct impression that Bland was deliberately targeted for her political views.

In line with the standard modus operandi of US police departments, Encinia has not been charged with any crime. He has merely been consigned to desk duty.

Sandra Bland’s death is impossible to understand apart from its context: three decades of social counterrevolution in America, accompanied by the militarization of the police and the integration of police departments into what has come to be called the “total army.”

The evolution of the police into heavily-armed occupation forces in working-class communities is a central feature of the domination of political reaction over all aspects of US society. Over this period, the methods employed by the US military in its wars abroad have been used ever more directly to deal with explosive social tensions within the United States.

Thuggish actions such as those carried out by Encinia are deliberately encouraged in America’s police forces, which attract the most backward and violent social elements. …

Police officers are trained to respond with extreme aggressiveness to any questioning of their authority. When an officer commits an act of violence or even murder, the entire political apparatus springs to his defense. He or she is given the most favorable possible coverage on the news, while prosecutors maneuver to avoid bringing charges.

The White House has not brought federal civil rights charges against officers in any of the high-profile police murders in recent months, including the killing of Freddie Grey in Baltimore last April, the murder of Eric Garner in New York City in July of 2014, the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August of last year, and the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland last November. The administration has taken the side of the police every time a police violence case has come before the Supreme Court.

Police in the US have killed 647 people so far this year—an average of more than three per day. This follows the 1,100 deaths in 2014, according to one database.

While thousands of people have been killed at the hands of police over the past decade, only 54 officers have been charged for killing people in the line of duty, of whom only 11 were convicted, receiving mostly wrist-slap sentences, according to a recent analysis by the Washington Post.

The death of Sandra Bland has once again produced popular shock and anger that such things should happen in America. Not only do they happen, they occur with nauseating regularity. Every new killing produces nothing but empty expressions of concern and self-serving rationalizations by the political establishment. No one is held to account. Nothing is done to prevent such outrages from happening again.

The daily horror of police violence in the US is one of the most visible symptoms of a deeply diseased society.

LIVE: Officials give update on Sandra Bland autopsy results: here.

Turkish government censors truth on ISIS massacre in Suruç


Demonstration in Suruç, Turkey, after Monday's massacre. Photo: EPA

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today, 11:45:

Turkey has blocked access to Twitter. Thus, the authorities want to prevent sharing of photos and videos of the attack in the border town Suruç. Turks also have limited access to Facebook.

Earlier today, a judge ruled that websites and social media are not allowed to display these images. Once all the videos and photos would be removed, the blockade could be lifted.

On Twitter there were also calls to protest against the government. People who posted those messages thought that the government has done too little to prevent the bombing.

The attack in Suruç, near the Syrian border, was on the day before yesterday. 32 people died. There were at least 100 people wounded.

Bahrain pro-democracy activists threatened, 2011


Protest against torture in Bahrain

7 December 2011: Bahraini Human Rights Defenders Threatened on Twitter: here.

Bahrain: Death threats against Messrs. Mohammed Al-Maskati, Nabeel Rajab and Yousef Al-Mahafdha: here.

How Bahrain works Washington. In the latest twist on lobbying, Mideast autocracies repackage propaganda as “media awareness”: here.

Bahrain, under pressure to improve its right record to secure a purchase of US arms, has pledged to stop prosecuting athletes over their participation in pro-democracy demonstrations crushed by the government earlier this year: here.

Alaskan grizzly bears catching salmon on webcams


This video about Alaska is called The Land of Giant Bears | Full Documentary.

From eNature.com in the USA in July 2015:

Watch Live As Grizzlies Catch Salmon

Salmon are running in Alaska and Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park may be the best place to watch local bears gorge themselves on fresh caught salmon.

Explore.org has a number of webcams on the scene and you can almost always observe a bear or two (or three or four!) in action.

Euro Bird Portal, new Internet site


This video series is called Birds of Europe (Western Palearctic).

There is a new Internet site: Euro Bird Portal.

It says about itself:

Unraveling European-wide spatiotemporal patterns of bird distribution

Mobilizing 100,000 volunteer birdwatchers and 30 million new bird records every year

Bahrain pro-democracy woman stops dictatorship’s police, 2011


Bahrain woman stops police

1 December 2011. During a protest in Bahrain on Saturday, an American journalist named Matthew Cassel reported on Twitter that he had just witnessed something remarkable: a lone female protester who refused to move as police officers in riot gear charged past her, firing tear gas shells just a few feet from her head: here.

Bahrain: Twitter User Jailed for 66 Days for Tweeting: here.

15 July 2015: Bahraini rights defender Nabeel Rajab released; many others still unjustly imprisoned: here.

15 July 2015: ‘I will continue tweeting, I will continue criticizing’ – Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab: here.

My Real Neat Blog Award, for ten bloggers


Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that :)

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty :)

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you in 2015 so far?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. The poor side of life

2. Welcome to Makandal

3. Country Woman Paints

4. Malleable Art

5. Be Good to Our World

6. You handmade me {happy}

7. Charms of a Gypsy

8. TeaTime with Lilly

9. Kaluza pelna mirabelek

10. Bryana Ashley