Hunger strike protest against lethal San Francisco, USA police violence


This video from San Fransisco in the USA says about itself:

Meet the Frisco Five

3 May 2016

The Frisco Five are two rappers, an educator, a supervisorial candidate and a grandmother on hunger strike until San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr is fired or resigns.

From the New York Daily News in the USA, by Shaun King:

The ‘Frisco 5’ are now 12 days into a hunger strike, demanding justice outside the San Francisco Police Department

Monday, May 2, 2016, 2:39 PM

Is this what we’ve come to?

Racism and brutality by American police departments is so awful and so often left completely unchecked, that good people are literally starving themselves to death just to get justice. Four men and a woman have been camping out for 12 straight days in front of the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission station, on a full hunger strike, with the hope that their efforts will not only bring attention to injustice in the city, but lead to the police chief, Greg Suhr, being terminated.

The “Frisco 5,” as they are called, are doing something incredibly brave, peaceful, and non-violent — yet San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has refused to even meet with them, instead asking the activists to “email him,” according to the San Francisco Examiner. As compassion and momentum continues to build for these five wonderful warriors, their bodies grow weak from malnourishment.

While I have nothing but deep admiration for Sellassie Blackwell, age 39; Ilych Sato, 42; Edwin Lindo, 29; and two educators, Ike Pinkston, 42 and Maria Gutierrez, the lone woman, age 66, I am absolutely embarrassed that this is what needs to be done in 2016 to get justice. But make no mistake about it, this is absolutely what it takes.

The activists are using social media to spread the word, using the #Frisco5 hashtag to tweet and Facebook about the ordeal.

The Daily News was unable to immediately get comment from Mayor Lee.

The system itself has failed us time after time after time. That’s how 1,207 people could be killed by American police in 2015 without one single conviction among them the entire year.

A 0.0% conviction rate defies all logic and statistical probability.

Many of those shootings, unfortunately, have taken place in San Francisco. Even when filmed or witnessed, not a single ounce of justice has followed.

In 2012-2013, at least 14 different officers from the San Francisco Police Department were caught sending horrendously racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic text messages. The powers that be stalled and stalled and let essential deadlines pass until the officers were no longer allowed to be terminated for their actions. This is a disgrace.

Now even more bigoted messages are emerging from a new set of officers.

Elsewhere, the second-highest ranking law enforcement officer in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department resigned in disgrace Sunday after being caught sending bigoted emails. In fact, police departments all over the country are discovering the exact same type of bigotry among their officers.

That we have to starve ourselves to have these grievances addressed appears to be our sad reality right now.

America in 2016 is not nearly as different from 1966 as we hoped it was.

Stop United States police killings of people with disabilities


This video from the USA says about itself:

Man With Down Syndrome Killed Over A Movie Ticket | Police & The Disabled

12 October 2013

“On Jan. 12, Robert “Ethan” Saylor of Frederick County, Md., a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome and an IQ of 40, died of asphyxiation after a confrontation with three off-duty police officers. He was being restrained for attempting to see “Zero Dark Thirty” for a second time without a ticket. According to witnesses, Saylor’s last words included “it hurt” and “call my mom.”

Saylor’s ashes now sit in the family’s living room while the three officers continue their usual shifts. No charges have been filed.” The Young Turks hosts Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian break it down.

From the People with Disabilities Caucus in the USA:

Letter to San Francisco Mayor

CLICK HERE to send email messages to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and City Attorney Dennis Herrera saying POLICE CANNOT BE EXEMPT from the Americans with Disabilities Act!

Please ACT NOW!

Help stop police killings of people with disabilities!

A case before U.S. Supreme Court seeking police exemption from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has critical importance for all those seeking to stop unwarranted police killings. This case involves police shootings of people with mental illnesses. Your intervention is needed to stop the high court from using this case to strengthen the hand of the police and lessen police accountability in the killings of people with disabilities. The ADA mandates accommodations for those with disabilities.

Even with the ADA in place, at least half of the people shot and killed by police each year in this country have mental health problems, according to a recent study (TACReports.org). In many cases, police who used deadly force were called by family or neighbors to help get an individual mental health care. Many of those killed were people of color. It would be especially chilling if police are exempted from the ADA.

Oral arguments in the case Sheehan v. San Francisco, brought before the Supreme Court by the city of San Francisco, are set for March 23. More than 40 civil rights and disability activist groups have signed a letter urging San Francisco officials to drop the appeal, warning that it imperils the ADA, the most important piece of protective legislation that people with disabilities have. They ask that concerned people join this write-in campaign.

Please join this crucial effort. Click the link to e-mail San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and City Attorney Dennis Herrera to urge them to drop their appeal. (Text of Letter follows). The Americans with Disabilities Act needs to be expanded and enforced, not gutted. Having a disability must not be a death sentence!

Please ACT NOW!

The letter begins here:

Ed Lee, Mayor, City and County of San Francisco

City Hall, 1 Doctor Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 200

San Francisco, CA 94102

mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org

Dennis Herrera

City Attorney, City and County of San Francisco

City Hall, 1 Doctor Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 234

San Francisco, CA 94102

cityattorney@sfgov.org

Dear Mayor Lee and City Attorney Herrera:

I/we join more than 42 civil rights and disability rights groups and many progressive individuals in urging you to withdraw your appeal in the case of City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. Your appeal could result in the Supreme Court exempting police from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the most comprehensive civil rights law for individuals with disabilities. Your appeal puts the ADA at risk, and could lead to an increase in unwarranted police killings of people with disabilities.

People with disabilities need the ADA’s protections when they encounter law enforcement. A 2013 study by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sherriff’s Association revealed that at least half of the people shot and killed by police are people with mental disabilities. Many times these police had been called to help a person in psychiatric crisis. Often police who are first on the scene quickly respond with deadly force, without waiting for a unit specially trained to deal with people with disabilities to arrive.

In San Francisco, the figures are even higher. A local review of 51 San Francisco police involved shootings between 2005 and 2013 found that 58% of the 19 shootings of people killed by police had a psychiatric disability.

People with many types of disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, emotional disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy and deafness, face dangerous and often deadly consequences when law enforcement officials fail to honor the ADA.

The ADA needs to be expanded and honored, especially when it comes to encounters with police. Having a disability must not be a death sentence!

(Initiated by Workers World Party)


People with Disabilities Caucus

DisabilityButton

Support Disabled Liberation

Contact the Caucus via:

disabilitycaucusww@gmail.com;

212-633-6646

“Are you going to kill me?” That was the last thing Rubén García Villalpando reportedly asked Grapevine, Texas, Police Officer Robert Clark before Clark answered his question – in the affirmative. According to witnesses, García Villalpando had his hands up when Clark shot him twice, February 20, in Euless, Texas – a city technically outside the officer’s jurisdiction: here.

BLACK UVA STUDENT BLOODIED BY LIQUOR POLICE IN ARREST: “Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday asked state police to investigate the arrest of a black University of Virginia undergraduate by state liquor agents that left the student bloodied and needing 10 stitches in his head.” [Tyler Kingdale, HuffPost]

Rare ring-necked duck in Spain


This video from the USA says about itself:

10 March 2011

A flock of Ring-necked ducks hung around the Palace Lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

From Rare Birds in Spain, on Twitter:

27.2.2015 Aythya collaris. 1 male La Massona, PN AIguamolls Empordà, Girona.

Aythya collaris means ring-necked duck. They are rare in Europe, not so rare in their northern North American homeland.

Rare birds in Britain and Ireland update


This video from San Francisco in the USA says about itself:

23 February 2011

Several pair of American Wigeons were found at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park.

From Rare Bird Alert in Britain:

Thursday 26th February 2015

Lingering rarities included Harlequin Duck (Aberdeenshire), Ferruginous Duck (Gloucestershire), Black Scoter (Northumberland), Penduline Tits (Devon), Laughing Gulls (Wirral and Co Cork), Lesser Yellowlegs (Co Dublin) and King Eider (Cornwall).

The best of the rest included Dotterel and Little Bunting (Cornwall), two Cattle Egrets, two American Wigeons, three Glossy Ibises, five Rough-legged Buzzards and eight Waxwings.

Good San Francisco bird news


This video from the USA is called Welcome to the Pacific Flyway.

By Melissa Mayntz, About.com Guide in the USA:

San Francisco Getting Darker for Birds

September 1, 2013

Fall migration is dangerous for birds as they get disoriented by city lights and suffer from window collisions, but San Francisco has pledged to get a bit darker and help out migrants. According to the San Francisco Examiner, most of the city-owned buildings greater than five stories tall have agreed to turn off their lights as part of the Lights Out for Birds program, and because of the city’s hilly topography, shorter buildings and private residences are also being encouraged to participate.

More than 250 species of birds use the Pacific Flyway and travel through the Bay Area, and window collisions are just one of the threats migrating birds face, but one of the most significant. Does your city or town take steps to protect migrating birds? Learn how you can help!

Hummingbirds and conservation in California, USA


This video is about an Allen’s hummingbird chick hatching.

By Susie Cagle in the USA:

Hummingbird tree-sit could stop San Fran developers where occupiers failed

When dozens of police officers in riot gear raided the occupied Hayes Valley Farm in San Francisco early last Thursday morning, it seemed like the end of the road for this garden space. Activists from around the Bay Area had moved in on June 1 with the hopes of holding off the developers set to raze the farm and replace it with 182 condo units, retail space, and a parking garage. But after the early raid, a handful of arrests, and one activist falling 30 feet from a protest platform hung in a tree, it looked like time had run out.That was before everyone met the Allen’s hummingbird.
Allenshummingbird
Susie Cagle

After developers moved in and began toppling trees, someone alerted them to nesting hummingbirds on the land, and the project was put on hold while biologists and wardens from the Department of Fish and Wildlife investigated.

The Allen’s hummingbird is hardly endangered — it enjoys a pretty significant West Coast population in California and Oregon. Nonetheless, it is protected under the 1918 Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act along with, well, all other non-pet birds. It’s not illegal to destroy migratory bird habitat — otherwise no condos would ever get built! — but it is illegal to destroy their eggs and nests.

“The developers might get a fine, or the project might be on ice for now,” said farm activist Effie Rawlins. The Department of Fish and Wildlife didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Could a little bird really slow San Francisco’s epic apartment construction boom? Probably not for long: It may be springtime now, but those cute little Allen’s all migrate south to Mexico for the winter …

Susie Cagle writes and draws news for Grist. She also writes and draws tweets for Twitter.

eBird data shed new light on Allen’s Hummingbird populations, 14 February 2017: here.

Stop Pakistani civilian drone deaths


This 1 October 2016 video is called 🇵🇰 Pakistani sues CIA over drone strikes.

By Alyssa Figueroa, on AlterNet in the USA:

November 14, 2012

On Drone Warfare, Pakistani Man: “We Are The People Who Do Not Matter”

(L-R) Samina Sundas, Medea Benjamin, Dianne Budd and Toby Blome discuss CODEPINK's recent delegation to Pakistan
(L-R) Samina Sundas, Medea Benjamin, Dianne Budd and Toby Blome discuss CODEPINK‘s recent delegation to Pakistan.

“We are the people who do not matter; our voices cannot be heard over here,” one Pakistani man told Dianne Budd. “We are lucky for you to be here, and we want everyone to come fearlessly here.”

Budd is a member of CODEPINK, an anti-war organization that recently led a delegation of 34 activists on a trip to Pakistan in October. Last night, the organization hosted a report back in San Francisco to discuss their experiences in a country devastated by U.S. killer drones and our continued military intervention.

“People there feel so unseen and unheard,” Budd said.

This is perhaps because people haven’t made a real effort to see or hear them. According to CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, tribal areas in Pakistan have been off limits to foreigners for ten years. And so when CODEPINK’s delegation arrived, despite threats to their lives, hundreds of people had surrounded them, staring — “almost as if we were animals in a zoo,” Benjamin said. “They were so amazed to see Americans who had come there, especially Americans who had come there to denounce the drones. And everyone wanted to touch us, take their picture with us, just interact with us.”

Members of CODEPINK’s delegation spoke continuously about the hospitality they received, and how they were greeted so warmly by the Pakistanis they visited. Benjamin recalled that when the delegation got on stage at a rally, people immediately chanted: “Welcome! Welcome! We want peace! We want peace!”

Benjamin said, “It was so beautiful just to look out there and feel that people are so open to a loving and compassionate message, they want to hear that from Americans. They want really desperately to know that there are Americans who care about their lives.”

Which may not seem like the case as our drones continue to wreak havoc on their lives. As Benjamin said, our drones hover above their skies. Families are scared to go out as well as stay home. They are afraid of sending their children to school, to go to weddings and funerals, which are often drone targets. There is also fear of holding community meetings to talk about these issues because one of their community meetings was once attacked by a drone — killing 42 of the most respected leaders in the community. The drones have also increased depression and suicide throughout the country.

“What is happening in Pakistan is totally unlike the Pakistan I grew up in,” said Samina Sundas, founder and Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice Foundation.

Meanwhile, secrecy continues to surround the drone program and its effectiveness in killing militants. There is an estimate of about 2,600 – 3,400 people killed via drone in Pakistan — only two percent of which were on the U.S. government’s high-value target list. Most of the rest go unnamed and unacknowledged by the U.S. government.

The media, however, reports drones are constantly killing militants, mainly because Obama re-defined the term “militant” to mean every man of military age. In addition, CODEPINK activist Toby Blome said that while in Pakistan, she learned that some militants’ names are used multiple times in news reports to justify drone use. One Pakistani told her a militant’s name was used three times in the media, and exclaimed, “How many times can one man die?”

Still, as Benjamin noted, whether or not drones are “effective” in their mission looks past the fact that our military interventions do not create peace or stability. Pakistani people are living a life of fear under our drones as well as under the Taliban and its rising numbers. Benjamin added, “We see most people join the Taliban not out of ideology but out of despair and revenge.”

Baseball and wars in the USA


This video from the USA is about the 2012 World Series; San Francisco Giants beating the Detroit Tigers.

By James Brewer in the USA:

The World Series and militarism

30 October 2012

The 2012 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants professional baseball teams was held during the final days of an American election campaign in which the contending candidates, parties and programs represent little difference as far as the conditions for the vast majority of the population is concerned. Whether a Democrat or a Republican wins the presidential race, plans for advancing war on a global front will proceed apace after November 6. So it is hardly surprising that the powers that be have taken every opportunity to infuse the events around the culminating contest of “America’s pastime” with patriotism and glorification of wars, past present and future.

By now, the stadium flyover by Naval fighter jets in formation is almost routine, but the singing of the national anthem by “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips at the game one opening in San Francisco was particularly striking for its ostentation. Skyrockets were shot over McCovey Cove at the moment the words, “and the rockets’ red glare” were intoned. Of course, the fighter jets’ roaring appearance was timed to occur just after the words “and the home of the brave.”

Prior to game two in San Francisco, a special salute to the US military was orchestrated by Major League Baseball (MLB), both at the ballpark and on the national coverage by Fox Television. A special tribute to World War II veterans, described by MLB as a “public service announcement,” was given by retired newscaster Tom Brokaw. The ostensible reason for the tribute was to remind the public of the heroism by the World War II veterans before they were all gone.

To obtain the most mileage out of the glorification of US wars, the ceremonial pitch before the second game was thrown out by a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who had lost both legs and an arm in action.

Beginning with the World Series held immediately after the events of September 11, 2001, changes have been introduced in the game’s rituals to promote the “unity” of all Americans against its “enemies.” Military personnel are consistently paraded before the fans to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The traditional seventh-inning singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” has been replaced with Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” usually sung by uniformed vocalists.

In both San Francisco and Detroit, the security measures surrounding the games were unprecedented, involving local and state police, tactical squads, federal marshals, Coast Guard patrols, Homeland Security, US Customs, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents, and bomb squads. X-ray scanners and high technology surveillance equipment was utilized.

Prior to the third game, which took place at Detroit’s Comerica Park, a press conference was held by Mayor David Bing’s office concerning security preparations. At least 23 agencies were involved in the security preparations for the game. A sense of peril was implicit in the publicity for the event. The officials proclaimed that the police forces would not allow a single incident to disrupt the “smooth running” of the games.

The economic crisis has devastated Detroit, producing double-digit unemployment and widespread poverty. The price of tickets for the games at Comerica Park ranged from almost $200 for the “cheap seats” to $1,500 for box seats behind the home plate—clearly out of reach for the vast majority of the city residents. The concern of security forces was for keeping the local populace under control rather than protecting them.

The potential threat from America’s enemies is continually played up to provide a pretext for the massive mobilization of state forces around the games. More ominous, however, is what is left unsaid in official discourse. The expanding and pernicious use of tactical policing takes the form of rehearsal against growing opposition to government policy within the US.

The promotion of US nationalism and super-patriotism at an event called the “World Series” must resonate as contradictory at best with a large portion of the population. The big-business organizers of the games are no doubt aware that the US policy of expanding wars is increasingly unpopular. The constant reminder that war is with us is aimed at breaking down popular resistance to US military actions. Just as corporations and banks dictate policy to the politicians and decide what is acceptable in the country’s “democratic” debate, they use their wealth to attempt to dragoon the population into a warrior mentality.

San Francisco porpoises back after sixty years


From National Public Radio in the USA:

60 Years After Leaving, Porpoises Again Play In SF Bay

by Lauren Sommer

December 28, 2011 from KQED

Something that has been missing from San Francisco Bay since World War II appears to be making a comeback: Harbor porpoises are showing up in growing numbers, and researchers are trying to understand why they’re returning.

The walkway across the Golden Gate Bridge is almost always packed with people taking photos. But Bill Keener isn’t here for snapshots of the stunning views. He’s aiming his massive telephoto lens at a dark shape in the water 200 feet below.

“There’s a porpoise right there, coming very, very close,” he says. “Here’s a mother and calf coming straight at us.” Keener is with Golden Gate Cetacean Research, a nonprofit group focused on studying local porpoises, whales and dolphins.

Harbor porpoises have dark gray backs, and they’re about 5 feet long — smaller than most of their dolphin relatives. Keener spots one turned on its side and spinning.

The porpoises, feeding in the middle of a busy shipping lane, spin as they go after schools of herring and anchovies. Seeing this behavior is huge for Keener because harbor porpoises are notoriously shy in the open ocean. But the fact that they’re here at all is what’s most remarkable.

Keener and his colleagues have identified 250 porpoises with their photos by looking for unique scars on the animals. When the team first started working on the bridge, the patrol officers took notice.

“We’re staring down at the water for hours,” Keener says. “They start getting worried about us. But they know us now; they know what we’re doing.”

Porpoises In Decline

The big question, though, is why harbor porpoises disappeared in the first place. Keener says the bay has always been porpoise habitat. Sightings were common until the 1930s.

“We don’t really have reports from around World War II, and there were a lot of things going on during World War II that could have caused [the decline],” he says.

San Francisco Bay became a wartime port. It was a major ship-building center. One newsreel reported that 14 warships at one time sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. And the Navy strung a seven-mile-long net underwater across the opening of the bay to keep out Japanese submarines. Hundreds of mines were planted in the waters outside the Golden Gate.

Keener says all of this certainly would have disturbed the porpoises. But there’s a bigger change that may have driven them away: water quality.

The bay waters today are a far cry from those of the 1950s and ’60s. As the region boomed, so did water pollution. Keener says raw sewage used to flow right into the bay.

“I remember coming across the Bay Bridge when I was very young, and it would just smell,” Keener says. “It would stink.”

Rediscovering The Bay

After the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, the bay’s water quality began to improve. But it took time for the food web to come back. San Francisco State University whale researcher Jonathan Stern says maybe the porpoises had to rediscover the bay.

“Over 60 years, we’re talking about a number of generations of porpoises,” Stern says. “So it’s quite likely that San Francisco Bay as a habitat was out of the institutional memory.”

Stern and Keener glide over the bay waters in a 22-foot boat, slowing down as they pass under the bridge.

“There’s porpoises between us and the south tower at 200 yards,” Stern says. Keener and Stern have a special permit to approach the porpoises. They wait, listening for them to surface.

“I just heard one here,” Keener says. “Here’s a cow-calf pair close to the boat, and we’ll hear this puff. The old-time sailors used to call them puffing pigs. That’s the exhalation.”

The porpoises seem calm around boats in the bay, which Stern says will let researchers study their life cycle and social structure.

“It’s one of those very few good-news environmental stories. And it’s in our backyard. It gives one hope,” Stern says.

It also gives researchers a chance to study how porpoises will react to the America’s Cup race, which comes to the Bay Area in two years.

Raccoons waiting for San Francisco bus


Raccoons and busFrom Paw Nation in the USA:

Raccoons Line Up for San Francisco Muni Bus

by Helena Sung

A photograph of a group of raccoons clustered around a San Francisco bus has gone viral. “I’m shocked, actually,” the photographer, Stephen W. Thomson, tells Paw Nation. The delightful photograph was posted to Thomson’s Flickr page, and has been reported by the Daily Mail in London, the Wall Street Journal, and local Web sites. …

Admired from afar, the raccoons outside the bus — some of whom were standing on their hind legs — were well-mannered as they ate bits of food off the ground. “They were quiet and not beating each other to get to the food,” Thomson says. While it’s been reported that the bus driver regularly feeds the raccoons who gather, Thomson says he does not know for a fact whether that is true. “I didn’t actually see the bus driver feeding the raccoons and don’t know if he does that regularly,” Thomson says, adding that he does not want to get the bus driver in any trouble.

“What I find interesting,” says Thomson, “is the joy that viewers get from seeing the photograph.” We sure do!