Giro d’Italia cycling, from Costa Rican to Dutch victory


This 20 May 2016 video in Spanish shows Costa Rican cyclist Andrey Amador winning the leader’s pink jersey in the Giro d’Italia cycling race.

Andrey Amador was the first Costa Rican ever, and the first Central American cyclist ever, to wear the pink jersey.

However, that was yesterday.

Today was a very difficult mountain stage.

When Amador had difficulty following other favourites on a steep slope, a woman waving a Costa Rican flag started running besides him, encouraging him.

By going downhill fast after the mountain top, Amador managed to catch up with other favourites again.

However, then came another mountain, and still another one …

Amador lost his pink jersey to Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk.

This April 2016 video is called Kruijswijk aiming high at the Giro d’Italia.

This is a Dutch interview with Kruijswijk after winning the pink jersey today.

Tomorrow, there will be time trial stage up a mountain. Kruijswijk now has 41 seconds advantage on number two, Italian favourite Nibali.

Who will win?

Hillsborough film, on English football fans’ deaths


This video from Britain says about itself:

EPSN/BBC : Hillsborough #JFT96

27 April 2016

Finally aired in the UK at 9pm on BBC 2 on Sunday May 8th 2016, without much additional material.

“American sports network ESPN, as part of its 30 for 30 series of sports films (under a new “Soccer Stories” subdivision), aired the documentary Hillsborough as a co-production with the BBC. Directed by Daniel Gordon, the 2-hour film chronicles the disaster, the investigations, and their lingering effects; it also included interviews with survivors, victims’ relatives, police officers and investigators. Hillsborough aired the first time on 15 April 2014, the 25th anniversary of the disaster. The documentary was unable to be shown in Great Britain upon initial release due to the 2012 High Court inquest still being in progress and the UK’s jury tampering laws; the documentary contains previously unreleased security camera footage from the stadium the day of the disaster. However, upon the inquest verdict the BBC announced they would air the documentary, with additional footage from the inquest and final verdict.”

Source: here.

A version of this documentary will be on BBC 2 at 9pm on Sunday May 8th 2016. It will be about 15 minutes longer and feature the inquest verdicts and proceedings.

By Robert Stevens in Britain:

Hillsborough: A powerful and moving account of Britain’s worst sporting disaster

14 May 2016

Hillsborough, aired on UK television for the first time on May 8, examines the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Sheffield Wednesday’s football stadium, a neutral site, on April 15, 1989.

It details how those responsible, above all the South Yorkshire Police, covered up their role for decades—in collusion with successive Conservative and Labour governments. They concocted a pack of lies, blaming the actions of football supporters for the tragedy they caused.

On April 26, 2016, a full 27 years later, an inquest concluded that the 96 were unlawfully killed. They were crushed to death after Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, the officer in command, gave the order to open Exit Gate C at 2.52 pm, just before the 3 pm kick-off. Hundreds of fans then entered an unpoliced tunnel leading directly into two already dangerously overcrowded and enclosed pens.

Hillsborough, produced and directed by British documentary film director Daniel Gordon, was originally shown in the United States two years ago. It could not be shown in the UK due to the just concluded two-year inquest into the deaths—the longest jury case in British legal history. The factual consultant on the film, Professor Phil Scraton, told the Liverpool Echo, “It was about to go into cinemas when the coroner [Sir John Goldring] placed an embargo on films and books about Hillsborough.”

BBC Two aired it on May 8, with public screenings in Sheffield, the city where the disaster took place, and Liverpool.

The documentary reconstructs key events and includes harrowing footage of the crush and its aftermath, interviews with family members, survivors and police officers on duty. Scraton narrates. He played an important role in uncovering the truth about Hillsborough. He was the lead author of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, whose 2012 report exonerated the Liverpool supporters of all blame. This led to the quashing of the original flawed inquest verdicts and the setting up of the new inquest.

The film explains the circumstances in which Chief Superintendent Duckenfield was placed in charge of operations at Hillsborough after a scandal led to the removal of his more experienced predecessor. Duckenfield had never been in charge of such a major policing operation and did not even know the name of the other club involved in the game in a pre-match briefing.

The film documents the poor layout and dilapidated state of the stadium. Prior to entering, thousands of Liverpool fans were herded into a small concourse at the Leppings Lane end. If all the fans had gone through the handful of turnstiles to enter the ground, it would have required the game to be delayed by 40 minutes. But no delay was ever considered by the police and the Football Association (FA).

Duckenfield was in the police control box looking directly over the Leppings Lane end and the seriously overcrowded central pens. Consulting with a police officer on the packed concourse, he made the catastrophic decision to open a main exit gate. The match kicked off at 3pm, with the fans already having been crushed.

The film shows fans trying to escape onto the pitch and police telling them to stop. There are graphic scenes of crushed bodies, with fans desperate to get out of the fenced-off terraces. Some are pulled up onto the elevated rear terrace behind. Others manage to climb the fences onto the pitch. Other fans desperately try to rip the fence open.

Describing people crushed against the main fence, one traumatised police officer states, “It was like looking at fish in a trawler net.” One of the police officers opens a gate in the adjoining pen, recalling, “I couldn’t understand why these people weren’t moving towards me. There’s actually six foot high spiked railing fences between the pens.”

One of the survivors managed, with the help of fans, to get out of the pen. Later, leaving the ground he tells how he saw the body of his father lying dead on the floor on a concourse area with around 10 other bodies.

The police control box is visited by FA Chief Executive Graham Kelly. Scraton states, “Duckenfield tells him there has been an inrush of Liverpool fans forcing entry through an exit gate into the stadium and down the tunnel. At that moment, the person who is ultimately responsible for the hiring of the stadium is told unequivocally that Liverpool fans have caused the disaster by violent access to the ground.”

Likewise, a BBC football commentator tells millions watching on television that a “gate was broken, people without tickets got in and were overcrowding the people with tickets and that’s why the crush occurred.”

“The lie becomes defining,” states Scraton.

No emergency rescue plan is enacted. Ambulances are seen backed up on Penistone Road outside the stadium, unable to go anywhere. The now infamous scene of police officers standing in a cordon across the middle of the pitch, doing nothing to help, is shown. The majority of people involved in the rescue were the fans who managed to get onto the pitch.

A few ambulances manage to get some injured fans to a local hospital, where 12 are pronounced dead. The other deceased were taken into the gymnasium at the stadium.

One of the police officers recalls that when asked what they should put in their police pocket books, a chief inspector replied, “You don’t need to put anything [in] your pocket books. It will be all be covered in the disaster log.”

On the basis of the lie that “drunk” Liverpool fans broke into the ground and caused the deaths, the coroner, Dr Stefan Popper takes the unprecedented decision to take blood alcohol level of all the victims, including the children.

A harrowing reconstruction is shown of relatives, some having driven for hours from Liverpool, waiting in a nearby Boys Club. After identifying the bodies, the families were not allowed to touch the bodies of their loved one. Family members are asked if they had recently drunk alcohol and if those who died drank alcohol.

The following day Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, her press secretary Bernard Ingham and local, ultra-right Tory MP Irvine Patnick are taken to the stadium by Peter Wright, the South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable and Duckenfield. Scraton notes that Ingham wrote, “What we learned on the spot is that a tanked up mob had actually caused the disaster.”

Rupert Murdoch's Sun lies on Hillsborough

The documentary forensically exposes this pack of lies, disseminated by right-wing newspapers, in the words of The Sun, as “The Truth.”

The Labour government which came to office in 1997 refused to call a new public inquiry, despite being presented with new evidence obtained by Scraton, that original statements by police officers had been significantly altered by South Yorkshire Police to delete any criticism of their role.

At the 20th memorial service for the 96 at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, the film shows a speech by leading Labour politician Andy Burnham being interrupted by fans shouting “Justice for the 96!” Burnham looks sick—like a deer caught in headlights.

Only then did Labour establish the Hillsborough Independent Panel, leading to the release of hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the events. Just a few years earlier, then Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair had ruled out any further inquiry, asking, “What is the point?”

The survivors of the disaster and family members never gave up fighting for justice. Margaret Aspinall, who lost her son James, is filmed speaking after the jury recorded the verdicts of unlawful killings. She notes that up to the very end, South Yorkshire Police were still “prepared to live with the lies and still sell them in the courts.”

Operation Resolve, a police investigation to establish whether any individual or organisation is criminally culpable for their role in the disaster put into place after the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, has not charged or even arrested a single person after more than three years.

Those with access to the BBC’s iPlayer can view the documentary here for the next 24 days.

The film is also available here.

The author also recommends:

Hillsborough inquest: Ninety-six UK football supporters unlawfully killed
[28 April 2016]

The Hillsborough disaster as it unfolded
[28 April 2016]

Report on Hillsborough football disaster exposes “biggest cover-up in British legal history”
[15 September 2016]

British Hillsborough football tragedy and injustice


This video from England says about itself:

Margaret Aspinall Accepts Pride Of Britain Award On Behalf of The Hillsborough Families

8 October 2013

See HFSG [Hillsborough Family Support Group]’s Margaret Aspinall accepting a thoroughly deserved award from John Bishop, John Barnes, Jamie Carragher & King Kenny Dalglish.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Hillsborough fight hero calls for level justice playing field

Thursday 12th April 2016

A MOTHER who lost her son in the Hillsborough disaster called yesterday for a “level playing field” for bereaved families in legal fights against the police.

In an emotional address to MPs, Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the tragedy, said it was a “disgrace” that South Yorkshire Police had public funding for legal representation during inquests while victims’ families did not.

She attacked cuts to legal aid and also called for the second stage of the Leveson inquiry — into the relationship between the police and the press — to go ahead.

Attacking cuts to legal aid, the Hillsborough Family Support Group chairwoman said: “Everybody is entitled to legal aid. [The current situation], to me, has got to change.

“The police cannot be funded the way South Yorkshire were funded.

“To go back into court for two years … and for them to be funded again to come out with the same lies again is a disgrace.

“At least give the victims a level playing field.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was in the committee room at Portcullis House to hear Ms Aspinall describe her experience of the fight for justice by the families of the 96 victims.

She broke down in tears as she said she had had to accept an insurance payout of little more than £1,000 after her son’s death because she had been told she had to raise £3,000 to pay for a barrister for the original inquest in 1990.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said: “We all let them down. No politician emerges with any credit because we all let them down.”

But he unveiled a package of measures to “rebalance” the justice system.

Labour have pledged that families seeking justice will be able to access legal aid in future, while abolishing the time limit on the period after leaving the police force during which retired officers can be investigated for misconduct.

Tom Dumoulin winst first Giro d’Italia stage


This video shows Dutch cyclist Tom Dumoulin, on his way to his victory in the first Giro d’Italia stage; a time trial today in Apeldoorn city in the Netherlands.

Second, just a few small parts of a second behind Dumoulin, was Primoz Roglic from Slovenia.

Third was Andrey Amador from Costa Rica.

Rare spadefoot toads on Dutch golf course


This is a common spadefoot toad video.

Today, Dutch Vroege Vogels radio reports good news about common spadefoot toads, a rare species in the Netherlands.

Three years ago, spadefoot toads were freed on Landgoed Bleijenbeek golf course in Afferden, Limburg province. It turned out this was a good environment for the toads: lakelets, sand and plants not too tall.

Giro d’Italia cycling and wildlife in Dutch Gelderland


Today, the Giro d’Italia cycling race will start in Apeldoorn city in Gelderland province in the Netherlands. Tomorrow, the cyclists during their second stage will pass the hill depicted in this 28 April 2016 video: the Duivelsberg; literally, Devil’s Mountain. The Duivelsberg is a beautiful area, where special animals live. An insect species, new to science was discovered there in 2003: Allopauropus montidiabolus.

Wildlife warden Thijmen van Heerde blogs today that he really likes cycling. And that he hopes that the spectators of the Giro will also notice how beautiful the scenery through which the race passes is.

Part of the third Giro d’Italia stage is through the Gelderse Poort nature reserve. This video shows Fort Pannerden in that reserve.

Tour of Italy cycling starts today in Dutch Apeldoorn


This video shows the first stage of the Tour of Italy cycling race, the Giro d’Italia, which will start today in Dutch Apeldoorn city. That first stage is a 10 kilometer time trial.

Also the second and third stages will be in Gelderland province in the Netherlands this weekend, around Arnhem and Nijmegen cities. All the other stages will be in Italy, including some in mountainous areas.

198 cyclists will participate.

Among the favourites to win the first leader’s pink jersey in today’s time trial is Swiss veteran Fabian Cancellara. However, he suffers from a flu attack. Other good time trialists are Dutch Tom Dumoulin and Jos van Emden.

Among the favourites for top spots in the final classification are Vincenzo Nibali from Italy, Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa from Spain, and Steven Kruijswijk from the Netherlands.

The South African Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will also participate; including four South African cyclists and Merhawi Kudus from Eritrea.