Great egret and cypress in Florida, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

4 August 2016

A Great Egret hunting and a large Cypress Knee – two iconic symbols of the Florida Everglades. Both were in danger of extinction. The Egret is protected everywhere and protected cypress swamps like this one in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park protect old growth cypress trees.

Technical note: One of the challenges of filming a large pure white bird in a dark swamp is the “white balance” setting on the camera – average white balance is not working as you’ll notice early in the video. There is really no way to fix overexposed white in post-processing.

The elegant Great Egret is a dazzling sight in many a North American wetland. Slightly smaller and more svelte than a Great Blue Heron, these are still large birds with impressive wingspans. They hunt in classic heron fashion, standing immobile or wading through wetlands to capture fish with a deadly jab of their yellow bill. Great Egrets were hunted nearly to extinction for their plumes in the late nineteenth century, sparking conservation movements and some of the first laws to protect birds.

A cypress knee is a term used in the biology of trees to describe the distinctive structures forming above the roots of a cypress tree of any of various species of the subfamily Taxodioideae. Their function is unknown, but they are generally seen on trees growing in swamps. Some scientists have thought they may help in oxygenation to the tree’s roots or assist in anchoring the tree in the soft, muddy soil.

Osprey eats fish in Florida


This video from the USA says about itself:

30 July 2016

A magnificent Osprey enjoying a fish on the roadside. Always exciting to see these raptors up close – like most large raptors they have little fear of people. Ospreys also called “Fish Eagles” eat fish exclusively and are relatively common in Florida.

Salt marsh caterpillars in Florida, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

21 July 2016

Salt-marsh Caterpillars on the move in their true natural environment. Often a pest when they invade cropland, here they are in the vast and remote St. Johns Marsh of Florida. Preferring broadleaf plants to grasses these caterpillars are searching for better food and the 25 mph winds are not helping them any. They develop into rather large white moths with small black dots.

Florida police shoot unarmed African American therapist


This video from the USA says about itself:

Unarmed South Florida man with hands up shot by police while calming autistic patient

20 July 2016

NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) – A therapist who works with people with disabilities is telling his story after he said police shot him while he was trying to help his patient with autism.

Cellphone video was released Wednesday afternoon showing Charles Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands in the air, telling officers that weapons are not necessary. “When I went to the ground, I went to the ground with my hands up,” Kinsey said, “and I am laying there just like this. Telling them again there is no need for firearms. He is autistic. He has a toy truck in his hand.”

In his hospital bed and wearing bandages, Kinsey said, he was attempting to calm an autistic patient who ran away from a group home. Kinsey could be heard in the video saying, “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home.”

He is also heard asking his patient to calm down. “Rinaldo, please be still, Rinaldo. Sit down, Rinaldo. Lay on your stomach.”

The ordeal went on for a few minutes before Kinsey said one of the officers shot him. “I’m like this right here, and when he shot me, it was so surprising,” Kinsey said. “I thought it was a mosquito bite, and when it hit me I had my hands in the air, and I’m thinking I just got shot! And I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me were, ‘I don’t know.’”

North Miami Police said the incident began, Monday, when someone called 911 and said there was a man walking around with a gun threatening suicide. Kinsey said the man was his patient and the alleged gun was a toy truck. “I was really more worried about him than myself. I was thinking as long as I have my hands up … they’re not going to shoot me. This is what I’m thinking, they’re not going to shoot me. Wow, was I wrong.”

Kinsey said what police did after the shooting is what upsets him the most. “They got three sets of handcuffs. They cuff my hands, and they flip me over, and I am laying on the concrete like this. I’m bleeding,” he said.

Despite everything that’s happened, Kinsey is happy to be alive. Standing by his bedside, his wife said, “Right now, I am just grateful that he is alive, and he is able to tell his story.”

Kinsey only wants to help people and is perplexed as to why officers fired. “Everytime I close my eyes I am getting flashbacks,” Kinsey said.

Around 6 p.m. Wednesday, a group called the Circle of Brotherhood stood outside the North Miami Police Department, requesting that police answer questions about what happened and if the officer responsible for shooting will face charges.

North Miami Police have not released the officer’s name or an update on their investigation. However, they did say that the State Attorney is now involved with the investigation.

On Monday, North Miami police shot Charles Kinsey, a behavior therapist at a group home, as he lay in the street with his hands in the air. At the time of the incident, Kinsey was attempting to explain to officers that one of his patients was autistic and holding a toy truck, and not a gun: here.

Orlando massacre, self-hate, not jihadism


This video from the USA says about itself:

22 June 2016

The mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando earlier this month was an act of “revenge,” not terrorism, according to a man who claims to be gunman Omar Mateen’s former lover. The man, identified only as Miguel, claimed that Mateen was “100 percent” gay, in an interview with Univision Noticias on Tuesday. … We look at the latest revelations about the Orlando shooting on the Lip News with Mark Sovel, Margaret Howell and Elliot Hill.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Man claiming to be lover of Orlando shooter casts further doubt on “terror” claims

23 June 2016

The attempts to cast the horrific June 12 massacre of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as a case of Islamist terrorism have been further undermined by the testimony of a man claiming to have been the lover of the shooter, Omar Mateen.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday with the Spanish language television network Univision, a man who identified himself only as Miguel and who appeared with his face and voice disguised said that Mateen had attacked the gay nightclub not as an act not of [‘Islamic’] terrorism, but of “revenge.”

According to his account, Mateen was enraged over a sexual encounter with two Puerto Rican men he had met at the Pulse nightclub, one of whom, he said, later acknowledged that he was HIV positive. He described Mateen as “terrified” of becoming infected with the virus.

“I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me,” he recalled Mateen telling him, adding that “he hated Puerto Rican gays” because of the incident.

Bigotry both against both Puerto Ricans and other Latin American people, and against LGBTQ people, is widespread among Republican party politicians like Donald Trump, also in Florida. As it is widespread in the G4S mercenary corporation where Mateen worked.

The man recounted that he had met Mateen via a gay dating app and had gone with him between 15 and 20 times to the Ambassador Hotel in Orlando. A receptionist interviewed by Univision confirmed that she recognized Mateen and that the man the network interviewed had been a regular guest.

The FBI confirmed the man’s report that he had been interviewed several times by the agency, which has also sought security video from the hotel.

The testimony of “Miguel” conforms with accounts given by a number of others, including Mateen’s former wife and a number of patrons of the Pulse nightclub, who described him as a regular and reported that he had been on gay dating apps for years.

The gunman’s ex-wife, Sitora Ysufiy, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, told a Brazilian television news interviewer that Mateen had been “mentally unstable and mentally ill,” having physically abused her during their brief marriage.

Ysufiy added that she believed he was gay, and that his father, an Afghan immigrant, had denounced him as such in front of her. According to her and her fiancé, she recounted this experience to the FBI, but had been asked by FBI agents “not to tell this to the American media.”

The media, for its part, has largely cooperated. Neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post, two newspapers that set the agenda for the national press, had published as of Wednesday a word about either the Univision interview or Mateen’s ex-wife’s account of her encounter with the FBI.

Instead, the overwhelming attention has been given to Mateen’s call to 911 during the massacre, in which he delivered “a pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State [ISIS],” and the controversy surrounding the FBI’s redaction of this statement from a transcript originally released to the press.

Given the widespread testimony relating to Mateen’s apparent mental illness and internal conflicts over his sexual identity, as well as the extremely repressive social attitudes within his family, there is every reason to suspect that the invocation of the Islamic State was aimed at concealing his real motives.

There is a clear political purpose behind the media’s selective reporting. The aim is to support the narrative that Mateen acted as a “domestically radicalized” Islamist terrorist, inspired to violence by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), rather than, as with the far more typical mass shooter in America, driven by mental illness, perceived grievances and the toxic social atmosphere that prevails in a country dominated by unending war and deepening inequality.

The massacre in Orlando is being harnessed to a drive by the US ruling establishment to escalate war abroad and political repression at home. The mass killing has coincided with demands by US generals for the dispatch of more American troops to Iraq as well as a call by some 50 State Department officials for the redirection of the US intervention in Syria to more directly target the Russian-backed government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, the US Senate Wednesday narrowly defeated legislation that would further empower the FBI to troll through the Internet browsing histories, emails and social media activity of American citizens without the necessity of securing a court order. The measure represents a significant expansion of the warrantless searches authorized under the Patriot Act, which require only an administrative subpoena, called a “National Security Letter” (NSL). Over the past decade, the FBI has issued some 300,000 such letters.

While supposedly not including access to the content of emails, the legislation in the Senate would allow the FBI to track the web sites viewed by citizens and determine how long they visited them, as well as the “to” and “from” lines of emails and location information garnered from IP addresses.

Telephone and Internet companies served with NSLs are barred under the law from disclosing either to their customers or the general public that they have received these letters.

Those backing the legislation have invoked the Orlando attack as the pretext for the further shredding of constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

One of the sponsors of the measure, which was presented as an amendment to a spending bill that included funding for the FBI, was Arizona’s Republican Senator John McCain. “In the wake of the tragic massacre in Orlando, it is important our law enforcement have the tools they need to conduct counterterrorism investigations and track ‘lone wolves,’ or ISIS-inspired terrorists,” he said.

The vote on the measure was 58-38, just two shy of the 60 votes needed for it to go forward. Eleven Democrats joined all but six members of the Republican majority in voting to approve it. In a procedural move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed his vote from “yes” to “no,” allowing him to reintroduce the legislation during a later debate.

Rehabilitated red-shouldered hawk freed in Florida, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

21 June 2016

Audubon‘s Michael Goldman takes you on an adventure to release an immature Red-shouldered Hawk who was rehabilitated at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida. Learn more here.

Orlando mass murderer, self-hating homophobic gay rather than jihadi


This video from the USA says about itself:

Orlando Shooter’s Lover Comes Forward

22 June 2016

Many like to point out that the Orlando shooter claimed allegiance to ISIS before he attacked the Pulse nightclub. However, his motivations may have had much more to do with his feeling shame in his sexuality rather than radical Islam. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down.