British rugby players against wildlife crime

This video says about itself:

Catherine Spencer needs you. Are you ready to Endure?

5 September 2015

Catherine Spencer, former England women’s rugby captain turned adventurer & entrepreneur is embarking on the Endure 6 Skeleton Coast Expedition in November 2015. She will be leading ‘Team Snow Leopard‘ on a 150km trek across the Namib Desert to the Skeleton Coast to raise awareness and stop the illegal trade of wild animals in support of The Endure Foundation.

Catherine is looking for adventurers to join her team, if you’re interested in finding out more please visit here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rugby aces Ollie Phillips and Catherine Spencer to take on desert challenge to raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade

Rugby stars Ollie Phillips (former England 7’s Rugby Captain) and Catherine Spencer (former Women’s England Rugby Captain) are taking on the Endure 6 Skeleton Coast Expedition this November to raise awareness and help stop the illegal trade of wild animals.

The expedition is a 150km unsupported trek from the hinterland across the Namib Desert finishing ten days later at the Skeleton Coast in support of The Endure Foundation and its six charity partners. One of those charity partners is the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, who fund a range of innovative, vital and far reaching projects throughout Africa and Asia to achieve real results for endangered wildlife.

Ollie will be leading ‘Team Elephant’ and Catherine will lead ‘Team Snow Leopard’ and the expedition will be filmed and follow the teams on their journey to form a documentary to raise awareness and help stop the illegal trade of wild animals in partnership with DSWF.

Both Ollie and Catherine are looking for motivated team members to join them on this arduous expedition. They will be involved in the planning of the expedition and will face everything from searing heat and sand storms to wild animals and coastal fog.

Ollie Phillips said “I’m thrilled to be leading a team on this expedition. The desert is a completely new terrain for myself and Catherine. We’re looking for people from all walks of life to join our teams to raise awareness for some of the world’s most endangered animals.”

DSWF CEO, Sally Case added: “It is incredible that anything survives in the harsh conditions of much of Namibia’s terrain. That a species like the rhino has evolved and adapted to survive in desert conditions is testament to a species determined to survive. With the teams drawing inspiration from the indomitable spirit of the Namibian black rhino we are sure that this will be the challenge of a lifetime.”

Dutch football club welcomes refugees

This video shows highlights of the Dutch football cup final 2015, won by FC Groningen 2-PEC Zwolle 0.

Dutch NOS TV reports today that Groningen football club has invited 800 refugees in the Bellingwolde and Onnen camps to its Dutch soccer cup match against FC Twente, on Wednesday 23 September.

Buses will take the refugees to the Groningen stadium where they will get a meal as well.

A much-needed change after getting food thrown at them like at pigs by Hungarian police, for the refugees

FACEBOOK, GOOGLE MAPS KEEPING MIGRANTS OUT OF TRAFFICKERS’ HANDS “In the past, people in these situations had no choice but to put their money and faith in the hands of traffickers who are known to jack up prices and force passengers to pay in human organs if they can’t come up with the cash, Business Insider reported. But now that they have access to smartphones, they can pretty much bypass traffickers and make the trek to Europe safely, on their own.” [HuffPost]

Tennis player James Blake wrongly arrested in New York

This video from the USA says about itself:

NYPD Slams Tennis Star James Blake On The Ground Before U.S. Open Appearance

10 September 2015

From Reuters news agency:

N.Y. police chief apologizes to arrested ex-tennis star

By Scott Malone

September 10, 2015

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton apologized on Thursday to former U.S. tennis star James Blake, who was arrested after being wrongly identified as a suspect in a fraud ring and said he was concerned over how much force was used.

Blake, who is black, was surrounded by six plainclothes officers outside a Midtown Manhattan hotel on Wednesday while waiting for a car to take him to the U.S. Tennis Open. One of the officers slammed the 35-year-old man to the ground before handcuffing him.

The incident involving a well-known athlete revived questions over excessive police force that reverberated around the country after a series of police killings of unarmed black men that sparked sometimes violent protests.

“I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday’s incident,” Bratton said in a statement. “Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues.”

Bratton earlier told reporters the officer who tackled Blake had been put on desk duty while the department reviewed the incident.

“I have concerns about the takedown,” said Bratton, adding he had seen a video of the arrest.

“The concern we had: Was the force used appropriate, and the initial review – we believe it may not have been,” added Bratton, who was appointed by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio at a time when he was trying to improve relations between police and minority residents of the city.

Police said Blake, at one time ranked fourth in the world, had been mistakenly identified by a cooperating witness as a suspect in a fraud ring.

Bratton said he was also concerned that no report had been made of Blake’s arrest and detention, which became public after the former player reported it to the New York Daily News.

Blake told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he decided to go public with the incident after discussing it with his wife and imagining how he would have felt if she had been treated in that way.

“I was furious because I thought about what I would be thinking if someone did that to my wife, if someone tackled her in broad daylight, paraded her around in a busy, crowded sidewalk in New York City with handcuffs,” Blake said.


Blake added that he had cooperated throughout the incident with the officers, who did not immediately identify themselves as law enforcement.

“The first words out of my mouth were, ‘I’m going to 100 percent cooperate. I don’t want any incident or whatever,’ just out of reaction from what I’ve seen in the media,'” said Blake, who was on his way on Wednesday to the U.S. Open, which is being played at Flushing Meadows in the borough of Queens. …

The police department last year promised to revamp how it trained officers after 43-year-old Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by officers who were trying to arrest him for suspected illegal cigarette sales on Staten Island in July 2014.

Garner’s death was one of a string of cases in the past year involving the deaths of black men in confrontations with police – including in Baltimore, Cleveland and Ferguson, Missouri – that sparked a national debate over race and justice.

Federal data show that U.S. police routinely use force when making stops of pedestrians, doing so in one out of every four non-traffic stops, according to a 2013 Justice Department report.

Some 57 percent of black respondents in a Pew Research Center poll last year said police do a poor job of using the right amount of force when they respond to situations, more than double the 22 percent of white respondents who reported that view.

That poll, of 1,501 U.S. adults, including 1,082 white adults and 153 black adults, was conducted in August 2014, days after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The margin of error for white respondents was 3.4 percentage points and for black respondents 9.1 percentage points.

(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Additional reporting by Katie Reilly in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)

Alabama, USA cheerleading coach sacked for reporting Ku Klux Klan propaganda

Ku Klux Klan and White Pride T-shirts, worn by cheerleading coach Brian McCracken, and Brian McDowell, respectively

By Justin Block in the USA:

Alabama Cheerleading Coach Dismissed After Reporting Racist T-Shirt Worn By Fellow Coach

08/26/2015 01:38 PM EDT

An Alabama cheerleading squad has lost two of its coaches after a pair of racist T-shirts appeared at an August practice.

Brian McCracken, the assistant vice president of a Boaz, Alabama cheerleading team, resigned from his post late last week after wearing a Ku Klux Klan shirt to a North Alabama Youth Football & Cheerleading League practice, reports local Alabama affiliate, WAFF. The shirt’s text reads, “The Original Boys In The Hood,” and offensively makes a comparison to the 1991 film “Boyz N The Hood,” which focuses on gangs South Central Los Angeles.

“We have zero tolerance for any kind of discriminatory apparel or anything,” said Jones to WAFF.

Jones responded to the incident by contacting McCracken and banning him from wearing racially inflammatory shirts to cheer practice — something that shouldn’t really have to be said — but nonetheless, it was Tipton who was ultimately punished, not McCracken.

According to WAFF, the next time Tipton showed up at practice, Boaz’s cheerleading vice president and Brian’s wife, Melynnda McCracken, asked her to not come back.

“I’m just disgusted because I feel like I didn’t do anything wrong besides make a complaint that should have been kept private to begin with,” Tipton said. “I asked why and she could not give me any reason.”

Both Brian and Melynnda have since resigned, reports WAFF, but the Tipton family iterated that the damage has already been done — not to the parents, who completely fumbled the situation, but to the kids, who had to witness this racially-inflamed drama first-hand.

“It’s hard for a biracial child that is 4 and 5 to understand what racism is,” Kayleigh’s husband, Cody Tipton, said. “It just outrages me and a lot of other parents but no one will stand up to it because of the consequences their children will get.”

Belgian judge arrested for recording police

Belfry of Bruges

Photography is not a crime … however, also in Belgium some police seem to think differently about people recording what they do. Even if a photographer is also a judge.

In the night of 26-27 August 2015, in a street in Bruges, Belgium, there was trouble between English Manchester United and Belgian football supporters. Many people living there made videos with their smartphones of police arresting football fans.

Including local judge Jan Nolf, who lives in that street as well.

Translated from Mr Nolf’s blog today:

No policeman objected to the filming or photographing.

Except suddenly that one, and then just when I wanted to make a picture of the lighted Halletoren [or: Belfry], right in the line of the street into view above the forest of white police helmets.

Now I will tell you literally about the “conversation”:

“Stop filming”.

“I do not film, I am photographing” (while I was putting away my photo equipment into my right pocket).

The masked policeman gets close to me. “Stop filming!” Since my photo equipment was already in my right pocket, I answered somewhat puzzledly: “I did not film, I took a picture.”

It seems like under his helmet he is deaf, because he repeats “Stop filming,” making me wonder what is really his intention.

So I ask “Why?”

The gruff answer is again: ‘Stop filming “- while I still have my camera in my right pocket (my iPhone during the whole scene remained in my left pocket).

I answer calmly shrugging my shoulders: “I did not film but I do not really agree that it is illegal.”

The man immediately shouts out a command and three helmeted and masked policemen frogmarch me away to the other side of the street … There they put me against the wall immediately with my hands on my back firmly enthralled with narrow straps.

Then I am led to the queue for the bus for the arrested people from Manchester.

Before I step on the bus, I ask the police three times if they realize what they are doing. They look at me and do not answer. Nobody asks for my ID.

The whole scene is too crazy to be true and that keeps me calm all the time in an unlikely way. I do wonder what will happen to me on the bus.

Judge Nolf ended up being freed without charges. He will lodge a complaint about this police behaviour.