United States police racism, homophobia, pornography discoveries


This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Miami Beach cops under investigation for racism

14 May 2015

Two high-level former Miami Beach police officers sent hundreds of racist, pornographic and crude emails to fellow cops, spurring a criminal probe. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine held a news conference on Thursday detailing the inappropriate messages.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Miami Beach cops sent more than 200 racist, homophobic and pornographic emails, says senior officer

Probe launched amid concerns hundreds of criminal prosecutions could be jeopardised

Andrew Buncombe

Miami, Sunday 17 May 2015

Police in Miami have launched an inquiry after it was revealed that a handful of officers – some of them senior figures – allegedly sent hundreds of racist and pornographic emails, which included so-called jokes about President Barack Obama.

Reports said an internal investigation had revealed that the sending of the emails possibly jeopardised dozens of criminal cases in southern Florida in which the officers were witnesses.

Police Chief Daniel Oates said that two of the 16 officers were senior members of the Miami Beach Police Department and were alleged to be the main instigators. One has retired, and the other was fired on Thursday, he said. They were identified as former Major Angel Vazquez and former Captain Alex Carulo, CBS Miami reported.

“They were the primary purveyors of pornography and high volume of it. I was shocked and angry,” Mr Oates told a press conference.

Mr Vazquez has since retired, but could face a potential criminal charge for his alleged role in circulating an post-mortem photograph of Raymond Herisse who was shot by police in 2011 during the Memorial Day holiday, Mr Oates said.

Mr Oates said the probe revealed about 230 emails that were demeaning to African-Americans and women, or else pornographic in nature.

Many were depictions of crude racial jokes involving Mr Obama or black celebrities such as golfer Tiger Woods. One showed a woman with a black eye and the caption, “Domestic violence. Because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once.”

One of the racially offensive emails depicted a board game called “Black Monopoly” in which every square says “go to jail.”

Miami-Dade government prosecutor Katherine Fernandez Rundle said about 540 cases in which the officers were witnesses are being reviewed to determine if they are tainted racially. Some charges could be dropped as a result, or prisoners could be freed from jail.

“These activities are a breach of trust. They are disgusting,” she said.

There has not yet been any public comment from the officers accused of sending the emails.

Mr Oates said the emails came to light in an unrelated 2013 internal affairs probe. Most of the messages spanned the years 2010 to mid-2012, and many of the officers involved apparently just received the offensive ones rather than forwarding them.

The case comes in the wake of another, similar scandal in the San Francisco Police Department involving officers exchanging racist and homophobic text messages.

It also comes amid a national debate about issues of race and law enforcement and the way some police treat black suspects.

A string of revelations by the Guardian newspaper have exposed widespread police torture by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) at a “black-site” detention facility known as Homan Square. Victims have described being detained illegally, without a lawyer, for hours or days, and being physically abused or sexually assaulted: here.

On Wednesday, an Illinois judge ordered the release of a Polaroid picture showing two Chicago police officers crouched, posing as hunters over an unidentified African-American man, who police have said was a “drug suspect.” Jerome Finnigan, the officer on the left, is holding a pair of antlers above the man, while the other officer, Timothy McDermott, holds the man’s head up. Both officers are posing with rifles and clearly instructed the man to stick his tongue out and roll his eyes back, creating the image of a deer that had been hunted and killed by the officers: here.

Bottlenose dolphins in Florida, new study


This video says about itself:

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

* Family: Delphinidae,

* Genus: Tursiops,

* Class: Mammalia,

* Order: Cetacea,

* Type: Mammal,

* Diet: Carnivore,

* Average life span in the wild: 45 to 50 years,

* Size: 10 to 14 ft (3 to 4.2 m),

* Weight: 1,100 lbs (500 kg),

* Group name: Pod,

**Did you know? Bottlenose dolphins have been observed to breach up to 16 feet (4.9 meters) out of the water, landing with a splash on their back or side.

More info here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Florida dolphins use their own forms of social media to choose their friends

Just like human beings, dolphins form highly complex and dynamic social networks, according to a recent study by scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) at Florida Atlantic University.

The researchers studied the interactions between some 200 bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), a 156-mile long estuary located on Florida’s east coast.

They discovered how the dolphins mingle and with whom they spend their time. They may not have Facebook or Twitter but they do have association patterns as well as movement behaviour and habitat preferences.

The IRL lagoon is long and narrow and composed of three distinct water bodies; Mosquito Lagoon, Banana River, and the Indian River. There are five inlets and one lock (Cape Canaveral lock) connecting the IRL to the Atlantic Ocean.

Researchers from HBOI have been conducting photo identification studies of IRL bottlenose dolphins since 1996, identifying more than 1,700 individual dolphins.

In their paper recently published in the journal Marine Mammal Science, the team found that individual dolphins exhibited both preference and avoidance behaviour – so just like humans, they have dolphins they like and associate with and ones they avoid.

The study also found that IRL dolphins clustered into groups of associated animals, or “communities,” that tended to occupy discrete core areas along the north-south axis of the lagoon system.

“One of the more unique aspects of our study was the discovery that the physical dimensions of the habitat, the long, narrow lagoon system itself, influenced the spatial and temporal dynamics of dolphin association patterns,” says Elizabeth Murdoch Titcomb, research biologist at HBOI who worked on the study.

“For example, communities that occupy the narrowest stretches of the Indian River Lagoon have the most compact social networks, similar to humans who live in small towns and have fewer people with whom to interact.”

In addition to providing a unique glimpse into dolphin societies, the study provides important insight and knowledge on how dolphins organise themselves, who they interact with and who they avoid, as well as when and where.

It also gives scientists and resource managers the roadmap needed to understand how dolphin populations perceive and use their environment, and how social networks will influence information transfer and potentially breeding behaviour and disease transmission.

Ku Klux Klan prison guards’ murder plot in Florida, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

25 June 2014

Ku Klux Klan (KKK), or just the Klan is the name of three distinct movements in the United States. They first played a violent role against African Americans in the South during the Reconstruction Era of the 1860s. The second was a very large controversial nationwide organization in the 1920s. The current manifestation consists of numerous small unconnected groups that use the KKK name. They have all emphasized secrecy and distinctive costumes, and all have called for purification of American society, and all are considered right-wing.

The current manifestation is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members as of 2012.

The first Ku Klux Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. Members made their own white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities.

The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, and adopted a standard white costume (sales of which together with initiation fees financed the movement) and code words as the first Klan, while adding cross burnings and mass parades. The third KKK emerged after World War II and was associated with opposing the Civil Rights Movement and progress among minorities. The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to the USA’s “Anglo-Saxon” blood, harking back to 19th-century nativism. Though most members of the KKK saw themselves in holding to American values and Christian morality, virtually every Christian denomination officially denounced the Ku Klux Klan.

From News4JAX in the USA:

KKK murder plot highlights racism in prison

Author: Kent Justice, Weekend anchor, reporter

Published On: Apr 02 2015 10:35:12 PM EDT Updated On: Apr 03 2015 12:13:00 AM EDT

UNION COUNTY, Fla. –

A crime story filled with racism, corruption and undercover success has three Union County men under lock and key following a four-month investigation by local, state and federal agents.

All three men worked for the Department of Corrections Lake Butler facility where investigators believe that Thomas Jordan Driver, with co-worker David Moran, and with former guard in-training Charles Newcomb conspired to get revenge on an inmate by killing him.

The state has not named the target of the murder plot but they do identify all three men as known members of a specific group in the Ku Klux Klan.

Federal agents apparently infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in order to uncover and stop the plot before the three men could complete their deadly scheme with the final nail in the coffin being a staged murder scene that was supposed to be proof of the heinous crime.

“A lot of times in these cases, we have people come in and say we really didn’t mean it. But when the FBI staged this crime scene and these photographs were shown to each of these men, they were happy about it. They shook the source’s hand. The source even went to the point of asking them, “Is this what you wanted?” They each said yeah. They were happy about it. They were literally happy about it,” statewide prosecutor, Nick Cox, said.

Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi spoke in direct and powerful terms concerning the joint effort to stop the murder plot.

“I’ll tell you, we will not tolerate nor will we ever remain silent over the violence of hatred embedded in prejudice in this country,” Bondi said.

Bondai and other experts tracking hate groups said that this case is shocking because three present or past corrections officers were involved, planning to kill the inmate when he was released, because he had fought with one of those officers. And disturbing because of their alleged ties to the Ku Klux Klan.

“To actually have three people involved with the correctional system plotting the murder of a former inmate who annoyed one of them, yes I think that’s fairly amazing,” Mark Potok, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said. “It’s a very, very unusual case in this day and age. Historically of course, the prisons and Police Department, particularly in the Deep South, and that includes Florida, were filled with Klansmen. But that hasn’t been true for many years. It’s very unusual to come across these cases.”

Officials said the officers were tied to a specific group of the Ku Klux Klan, called the Traditionalist American Knights, whose imperial wizard made threats last fall during the upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri.

“In November he sent out a pamphlet in which he threatened to use “lethal force” against the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri if they in any way threatened his members. That got a lot of attention,” Potok said.

Potok says the KKK doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention in recent years because most members don’t operate out in the open and don’t operate in cities.

It is usually, he said, in rural areas and the larger group doesn’t initiate actions like the corrections officers are accused of.

“So what we see are people who act as lone wolves, that’s really the dominant thing that’s happening. They get tired of the hate groups which seem to never actually do anything other than rant and rave about their enemies. They take it upon themselves to one day walk out their door and start to kill,” Potok said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says racism is alive and well even though America has evolved in past 50 years from a civil rights standpoint, that prisons have become an ideal place for racism to survive.

“Many of the prisons are controlled, or at least partly controlled, by race-based prison gangs and it’s an environment in which racial hatred really flourishes. So it’s not terribly surprising when some of that rubs off on correctional officials,” Potok said.

Florida’s Department of Corrections has seen turnover at the top and down through the ranks in recent years, following complaints of racism and the mistreatment of prisoners.

Climate science illegal in Florida


This video from the USA says about itself:

Florida Bans The Phrases ‘Climate Change’ And ‘Global Warming’

16 March 2015

Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, discusses the move by Florida officials to ban the use of the term ‘climate change’.

Officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been told that the words ‘climate change’ when used together has been banned, according to former and current employees including attorney for DEP’s Office of General Counsel Christopher Byrd. Byrd stated that along with climate change that the words ‘sustainability’ and ‘global warming’ were also banned.

Chief officials of the DEP refused to answer why. The policy went into effect after Florida Governor Rick Scott came to office.”

Decades ago, there was a lot in NATO countries’ media about people in the then Soviet Union who had been declared to be mentally ill. Political abuse of psychiatry, the media said. These people were not mentally ill; they just disagreed with the (Soviet) government. Such an outrage, of course, would never happen in the western ‘free world’ …

After the Soviet Union of decades ago … and after the censorship of science during George W Bush’s presidency in the USA … now, censorship of science in Florida, the state of George W’s little brother Jeb Bush, maybe Republican party candidate in the next US presidential election.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Florida employee ‘punished for using phrase climate change

In a complaint against the state, worker says he was accused of violating policy and instructed to get a mental health evaluation after mentioning climate change

Katherine Krueger in New York

Thursday 19 March 2015 18.05 GMT

An employee of Florida’s environmental protection department was forced to take a leave of absence and seek a mental health evaluation for violating governor Rick Scott’s unwritten ban on using the phrases “climate change” or “global warming” under any circumstance, according to a complaint filed against the state.

‘Unwritten ban'; that reminds me of Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, officially there is not any law banning women from driving cars. However, if Saudi women drive cars, then they get jail terms and whip lashes.

Longtime employee Barton Bibler reportedly included an explicit mention of climate change in his official notes from a Florida Coastal Managers Forum meeting in late February, during which climate change, rising sea levels and the possible environmental impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline were discussed.

On 9 March, Bibler received a formal reprimand for “misrepresenting that ‘the official meeting agenda included climate change’”, according to a statement from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer), a nationwide non-profit that champions public employees’ rights and providers resources and guidance to whistleblowers using its network of members across the country.

Bibler was instructed to stay away from the office for two days and told he could return to work only after a mental health evaluation from his doctor verified his “fitness for duty”, the complaint said. In the letter to Florida’s inspector general, Candie Fuller, the state’s Peer director calls for a full investigation to the matter.

Bibler told the Miami Herald that he “didn’t get the memo” about the gag order, so when he introduced himself by congratulating other officials on the call for the “exciting” work they were doing to address climate change, the “reaction was mostly shock”.

News of the governor’s ban on the phrases first surfaced in early March, when the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting found that the ban came from the top after Scott took office and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr as DEP director.

Guardian requests for comment from Scott, the Florida inspector general and the environmental protection department were not immediately returned on Thursday, but Scott and representatives from his office have ardently denied such a policy exists.

Scott has also long dodged questions about climate change with a refrain of “I’m not a scientist” and consistently misrepresented the state’s preparedness for rising sea levels.

Florida is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as 80% of the state’s residents live or work near the coasts and damage from recent storms, including hurricane Wilma, has caused billions of dollars in damage since 2005.

Republicans’ new climate strategy: just ban the words ‘climate change': here.

Ringling Bros. circus retiring elephants


This video is called Earth Focus Episode 58 – Asian Elephants in Peril.

From Discovery News:

Ringling Bros. to Phase Out Use of Circus Elephants

Mar 6, 2015 09:20 AM ET

Across America through the decades, children of all ages delighted in the arrival of the circus, with its retinue of clowns, acrobats and, most especially, elephants.

But, bowing to criticism from animal rights groups, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced Thursday it will phase out use of their emblematic Indian stars.

The company said the giant pachyderms will be gradually withdrawn from the big top, and will be gone from the show altogether by 2018.

Feld Entertainment — the parent company of America’s best known circus — called the decision an “unprecedented change in the 145-year old ‘Greatest Show On Earth’.”

Thirteen of the animals currently part of the circus’ migrating entourage will be relocated to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, the company said.

It added that the retirement decision “was not easy, but it is in the best interest of our company, our elephants and our customers.”

Family scions Nicola and Alana Feld, meanwhile, acknowledged that the decision to retire their elephant act is part of an ongoing cultural shift.

“As the circus evolves, we can maintain our focus on elephant conservation while allowing our business to continue to meet shifting consumer preferences,” they said.

It once would have been unthinkable to have a big tent circus act without elephants, long a crowd favorite.

World’s oldest crocodile dies


This video from the USA says about itself:

The American Crocodile: Waterways

8 June 2013

They’ve been around since the dinosaurs and are certainly as scary as T-Rex (not the band), the American Crocodile has consistently lost habitat, and decreased in numbers. Follow the decades long research and work to save this wonderful, toothy creature.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Rotterdam Zoo mourns after death of the ‘oldest crocodile in the world’

Today, 11:50

In Blijdorp Zoo crocodile Hakuna has died. According to the zoo, he was probably the oldest crocodile in a zoo in the world. How old Hakuna was exactly is not known, but he came to the park in 1930 and was already an adult. He must have been certainly over 85 years.

The zoo has announced the death of Hakuna on Facebook.

Hakuna came along with his female partner Matata to Rotterdam Zoo. They were a gift from singer and actress Josephine Baker. Matata died last year. The two American crocodiles were among the few animals in the zoo which survived the bombing of Rotterdam [by Hitler’s air force] in 1940.

See also here.