Spring wildflowers in the USA, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

29 April 2016

Azure Bluet (Houstonia caerulea) wildflowers at 5000 feet in the Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina. Also called “Quaker Ladies”, they are stunning close up and in a large grouping. Filmed with Motorola Droid Turbo 2 in 4K Video.

Pearl Jam against homophobia in North Carolina, USA

This music video is called Pearl JamMTV Unplugged 1992.

From the site of rock band Pearl Jam in the USA:

Pearl Jam Cancels 4/20 Raleigh, NC Concert in Opposition to HB2; Official Band Statement

April 18 2016

It is with deep consideration and much regret that we must cancel the Raleigh show in North Carolina on April 20th.

This will be upsetting to those who have tickets and you can be assured that we are equally frustrated by the situation.

The HB2 law that was recently passed is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens. The practical implications are expansive and its negative impact upon basic human rights is profound. We want America to be a place where no one can be turned away from a business because of who they love or fired from their job for who they are.

It is for this reason that we must take a stand against prejudice, along with other artists and businesses, and join those in North Carolina who are working to oppose HB2 and repair what is currently unacceptable.

We have communicated with local groups and will be providing them with funds to help facilitate progress on this issue.

In the meantime we will be watching with hope and waiting in line for a time when we can return.

Perhaps even celebrate.

With immense gratitude for your understanding,

Pearl Jam

Link to image of statement here.

What is HB2?

North Carolina’s HB2 legislation targets the basic rights of transgender people and strips many nondiscrimination protections from the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In addition to harming LGBT North Carolinians, the law limits the ability of municipalities to provide living wages above what the state provides, closes the door on state courts as a recourse for employment nondiscrimination claims, and imposes the values of Raleigh lawmakers on local elected officials and the people they serve.

What Needs To Be Done:

Please join us in signing this petition to repeal HB2.

Ringo Starr against homophobia in North Carolina, USA

This music video is called All You Need Is Love – The Beatles (with lyrics).

From CBS in the USA:

Ringo Starr Latest To Cancel North Carolina Concert

April 13, 2016 4:21 PM …

In a news release, the onetime Beatles drummer said he was joining with Bruce Springsteen and other artists as he called off an All Starr Tour show that had been planned for June 18 at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, North Carolina over the law, known as HB2.

“I’m sorry to disappoint my fans in the area, but we need to take a stand against this hatred,” Starr said in the release. “Spread peace and love.”

Starr’s release said the law “opens the door to discrimination everywhere.”

“How sad that they feel that this group of people cannot be defended,” he said in the release. …

The North Carolina law further bars local governments statewide from prohibiting discrimination in public places based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A new statewide nondiscrimination law doesn’t contain those specific protections.

In announcing the cancellation of his concert, Starr asked his fans to support organizations fighting to overturn the law.

“As Canned Heat sang, ‘Let’s work together.’ And The Beatles said, ‘All you need is love,’” Starr’s release said.

Because of the same law, Springsteen this past Friday announced the cancellation of a concert that had been planned for last Sunday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them,” Springsteen wrote Friday. “It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.” …

The new law would also make clear local governments can’t require area businesses to pay workers above the current minimum wage, with some exceptions.

Bruce Springsteen against homophobia in North Carolina, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

GOP [Republican] Politician Calls Bruce Springsteen A ‘Bully’ For Caring About Gays

11 April 2016

While many people are cheering Bruce Springsteen’s decision to cancel a North Carolina concert in light of the state’s new anti-LGBT legislation, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) is not one of them.

Read more here.

TENNESSEE PASSES ANTI-LGBT LEGISLATION “Tennessee legislators on Monday passed a bill that could jeopardize access to mental health treatment for LGBT individuals, part of a string of recent anti-LGBT legislation in the South.” [Marina Fang, HuffPost]

Barred owl in the USA, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

9 April 2016

Beautiful Barred Owl comes out to start hunting at dusk in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. In theory these owls should exist in the jungle behind the Florida Backyard, but I believe the Great Horned Owls keep them away. These owls are noteworthy for their “Who Cooks For You” calls.

Governmental homophobia in North Carolina, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

The Wilmington 10: North Carolina Urged to Pardon Civil Rights Activists Falsely Jailed 40 Years Ago

28 December 2012

As the new year approaches, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue is being urged to pardon a group of civil rights activists who were falsely convicted and imprisoned 40 years ago for the firebombing of a white-owned grocery store. Their conviction was overturned in 1980, but the state has never pardoned them.

We’re joined by one of “The Wilmington Ten,” longtime civil rights activist Benjamin Chavis, who served eight years behind bars before later becoming head of the NAACP. We also speak to James Ferguson, a lead defense attorney for The Wilmington Ten; and to Cash Michaels, coordinator for The Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project and a reporter for the Wilmington Journal where he has been covering the activists’ case.

By Mollie Reilly, Deputy Politics Editor, The Huffington Post in the USA today:

North Carolina Governor Signs Bill Banning Cities From Protecting LGBT People (UPDATE)

“This is a direct affront to equality, civil rights, and local autonomy.”

03/23/2016 03:21 pm ET

North Carolina’s General Assembly voted Wednesday to block cities and counties from passing protections against LGBT discrimination in a wide-ranging bill that could have enormous implications for the state.

HB 2, which passed in a special session, would set a statewide anti-discrimination policy, banning employers and businesses from discriminating against employees or customers based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, age or “biological sex.” The bill offers no protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prevents local governments from passing any nondiscrimination policy that goes beyond the statewide standard.

The bill also pre-empts local employment ordinances governing wages, benefits, employee protections and leave policies. It would prevent schools from allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

The measure passed 83-25 in the House of Representatives, and 32-0 in the state Senate. (Senate Democrats walked out of the chamber before the vote.)

Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said he signed the bill Wednesday night.

“This bill essentially repeals 50 years of non-discrimination efforts and gives lawmakers in Raleigh unprecedented control over our city and local governments,” Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue said in a statement. “North Carolina Republicans want to pass what would potentially be the single most discriminatory act in the country. This is a direct affront to equality, civil rights, and local autonomy.”

Republican lawmakers called the state’s General Assembly into a special session with the goal of blocking Charlotte’s anti-discrimination measure from going into effect. That measure, which passed last month in a 7-4 vote, bans businesses from discriminating against customers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. …

Arkansas and Tennessee have laws preventing cities from enacting protections for LGBT people. However, North Carolina’s bill is unprecedented in its scope.

In addition to blocking anti-discrimination protections across the state and imposing standards for single-sex bathrooms, the bill also prevents cities and counties from raising the minimum wage.

The bill would also end anti-discrimination protections for veterans. At least two North Carolina jurisdictions — Greensboro and Orange County — have anti-discrimination ordinances in place banning bias based on military or veteran status. Under the new measure, cities and counties would be prohibited from passing protections for veterans or service members.

Stephen Peters, the Human Rights Campaign’s national press secretary and a Marine Corps veteran, criticized this consequence of the bill.

“Thousands of LGBT veterans have fought to secure our freedom, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by the North Carolina legislature’s willingness to wipe protections for local veterans off the books,” he said in a statement. “Gov. McCrory must take a stand for fairness and equality for all and veto any bill that would increase the risk of discrimination.”

During debate, state Rep. Grier Martin (D) introduced an amendment that would add protections for veteran status, sexual orientation and gender identity to the bill. Rep. Paul Stam (R), a veteran, argued he doesn’t think it’s necessary to protect veterans from discrimination — despite reports to the contrary. The assembly voted to table the amendment.

HB 2 drew immediate rebuke from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D), who is challenging McCrory in the fall.

“North Carolina is better than this,” Cooper said in a video statement. “Discrimination is wrong, period. That North Carolina is putting discrimination into the law is shameful.”

North Carolina, USA police kills unarmed man

Akiel Denkins

By Kate Randall in the USA:

Fatal police shooting in Raleigh, North Carolina provokes protests

2 March 2016

A crowd of about 300 people gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina, Monday evening to protest the fatal police shooting of a young black man earlier in the day.

On Tuesday, police identified D.C. Twiddy, 29, as the Raleigh police officer who shot and killed the man during a foot chase the day before. Twiddy’s account of the incident has not been released and he has been placed on administrative duty pending investigation.

As of Tuesday afternoon, police had not released the name of the deceased. However, a Raleigh woman, Rolanda Byrd, told NBC News that she believes it was her 24-year-old son, Akiel Denkins, and that witnesses told her they saw him shot while running from the police. She said her son worked for a moving company and was the father of two young boys.

Raleigh police said in a statement that Twiddy had been pursuing a man wanted on a felony drug charge Monday afternoon when he fired at the suspect and killed him in the vicinity of Bragg and East streets in the city’s impoverished South Park neighborhood.

Chief of Police Cassandra Deck-Brown claimed that a gun was found “in close proximity” to the suspect.

Deck-Brown had been scheduled to meet with the Raleigh mayor and city council Monday to discuss equipping police officers with body cameras, but the meeting was postponed after the shooting death.

People soon gathered at the scene of the fatal shooting, shouting at police across yellow crime scene tape. “They killed my son for no reason,” Byrd told local news station WRAL. “Everybody out here said he was running, didn’t have a gun, [was] trying to jump a fence, and that officer shot my son seven times. For what? For nothing,” she said.

“My son didn’t have no gun on him. My son wasn’t threatening that officer,” Byrd told reporters. She said people in the area at the time told her that her son was fleeing the police and “they couldn’t catch him, so they shot at him seven times.”

Byrd told reporters that her son had a warrant out for his arrest for failure to appear and that she believed that was why he ran from police. She told NBC News that her son didn’t own a gun and that witnesses told her they didn’t see him with one during the police chase.

A witness, Truvalia Kearney, told the Raleigh News & Observer that she was standing near Denkins around noon on Monday when a police car pulled up and Denkins “took off running.” She said that Denkins jumped a chain-link fence and ducked into the backyard of a house while Twiddy, the officer, pursued him.

Kearney told the News & Observer, “The officer jumped the fence and fell down” and then “pulled his gun out and started shooting. [Denkins] got shot in the back.”

Byrd, the slain man’s mother, spoke to reporters at the scene of the shooting several hours after it happened. “Everybody out here’s saying that he ran,” she said. “He wasn’t running toward the officer, he was running away from the officer. … He wasn’t threatening anyone.”

Byrd told reporters that her lawyer is in possession of a video in which the shooting can be heard, but not seen. “There’s video,” she said. “Y’all are going to see it soon.”

Police chief Deck-Brown said that the shooting would be investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation and by the Raleigh Police Department’s internal affairs unit.

People gathered Monday evening at a makeshift memorial and vigil near the scene of the shooting. Neighborhood resident Casanova Womack told WRAL that tensions were running high in the neighborhood and that “People are just frustrated, angry, upset and disappointed.”

Rev. Chris Jones, pastor at a church several blocks from the shooting scene, told WRAL of Jenkins, “I treated him like my son. I’ve fed him at my church before,” Jones said. “Now, he’s lying back there, dead.”

Jones questioned why the police had to kill Denkins, WRAL reported. “If he ran from you today, you could have arrested him tomorrow,” he said. “Why did you have to kill him today?”

According to a Washington Post database that tracks fatal police shootings, Monday’s shooting is the first time a Raleigh police office has shot and killed someone since at least the beginning of last year. Twenty-nine people were fatally shot by police in North Carolina in 2015.