Townsend’s solitaire drinks, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

26 January 2016

A Townsend’s Solitaire drinking in Texas. These are long-tailed gray birds of the high western mountains, descending in the winter to lower elevations where they feed almost exclusively on juniper berries. Look out for their white eye ring, white outer tail feathers and buffy wing patch.

Video recorded by Timothy Barksdale/Macaulay Library.

George W Bush’s ‘super Berlin’ wall damages wildlife


This 2012 video is called Photos and video of wildlife stranded at the US-Mexico border wall.

From Newsweek in the USA:

The Environmental Impact of the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

By Melissa Gaskill On 2/14/16 at 2:28 PM

A line of 18-foot-tall steel posts placed four inches apart cuts like a scar across the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge near McAllen, Texas. It’s a stretch of a barrier extending intermittently across 650 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border from California to Texas, and presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio vow to enlarge it if elected.

The barrier is intended to deter illegal immigration and smuggling. Whether it has achieved those aims remains unclear, but what is clear in this part of Texas is that sections of the barrier bisect and isolate public and private lands, threatening to decimate wildlife habitats and leaving communities on both sides of the border that rely on wildlife tourism to wither.

Bats at former military base


This video from the USA says about itself:

World’s largest bat colony – over 40 million bats – BBC wildlife

Enter the deep toxic bat caves of Texas USA and take a closer look at the breeding skills and survival instincts of bat young.

Soesterberg in Utrecht province in the Netherlands used to be an air force base.

Now, it is reconstructed as a nature reserve.

Bats winter there. Mostly Daubenton’s bats, but also Natterer’s bats and greater long-eared bats.

Bat ‘Super Immunity’ To Lethal Diseases Could Help Protect People: here. And here.

Rufous-crowned sparrow drinks, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 January 2016

A Rufous-crowned Sparrow has a drink at a bowl of water in Texas. These bulky, long-tailed sparrows forage on the ground beneath sparse shrubs and grasses. They are not strong fliers and prefer to walk or run when on the move.

Texas policeman who arrested Sandra Bland sacked, indicted


This 27 July 2015 video from the USA is called Sandra Bland Laid to Rest; First Black Judge in Waller County Demands Sheriff Resign over Her Death.

From Associated Press in the USA:

Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Indicted And Fired For Lying In Police Report

Trooper Brian Encinia claimed in an affidavit that Bland was “combative and uncooperative” after he pulled her over and ordered her out of her car.

01/06/2016 05:26 pm ET | Updated 8 hours ago

HEMPSTEAD, Texas (AP) — A Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland after a contentious traffic stop last summer was fired Wednesday after being charged with perjury for allegedly lying about his confrontation with the black woman who died three days later in jail.

Trooper Brian Encinia claimed in an affidavit that Bland was “combative and uncooperative” after he pulled her over and ordered her out of her car. The grand jury identified that affidavit in charging Encinia with perjury, special prosecutor Shawn McDonald said Wednesday night.

Hours after the indictment, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it would “begin termination proceedings” against Encinia, who has been paid desk duty since Bland was found dead in her cell.

Bland’s arrest and death — which authorities ruled a suicide — provoked national outrage and drew the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protesters linked Bland to other black suspects who were killed in confrontations with police or died in police custody, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Video of the stop shows Encinia drawing his stun gun and telling Bland, “I will light you up!” She can later be heard off-camera screaming that he’s about to break her wrists and complaining that he knocked her head into the ground.

Encinia’s affidavit stated he “removed her from her vehicle to further conduct a safer traffic investigation,” but grand jurors “found that statement to be false,” said McDonald, one of five special prosecutors appointed to investigate.

She was taken to the Waller County jail in Hempstead, about 50 miles northwest of Houston. Three days later, she was found hanging from a jail cell partition with a plastic garbage bag around her neck. The grand jury has already declined to charge any sheriff’s officials or jailers in her death.

The perjury charge is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Encinia was not immediately taken into custody, and an arraignment date has not yet been announced.

About two dozen protesters attended Wednesday’s news conference where the indictment was announced. One protester’s sign read, “Legalize black skin.”

Speaking afterward, one protester, Jinaki Muhammad, called the misdemeanor charge “a slap in the face to the Bland family.”

Encinia also faces a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Bland’s family. Attorneys for Bland’s family did not immediately return messages seeking comment about the indictment.

Encinia pulled Bland over on July 10 for making an improper lane change near Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater, where she had just interviewed and accepted a job. Dashcam video from Encinia’s patrol car shows that the traffic stop quickly became confrontational.

The video shows the trooper holding a stun gun and yelling, “I will light you up!” after Bland refuses to get out of her car. Bland eventually steps out of the vehicle, and Encinia orders her to the side of the road. The confrontation continues off-camera but is still audible.

Encinia wrote in his affidavit that he had Bland exit the vehicle and handcuffed her after she became combative, and that she swung her elbows at him and kicked him in his right shin. Encinia said he then used force “to subdue Bland to the ground,” and she continued to fight back. He arrested her for assault on a public servant.

Bland’s sister, Shante Needham, has said Bland called her from jail the day after her arrest, saying she’d been arrested but didn’t know why, and that an officer had placed his knee in her back and injured her arm.

Her family has said they were working to get money for her bail when they learned of her death.

See also here.

‘Suspicious’ Texas mosque fire investigated by police


This video from the USA says about itself:

26 December 2015

According to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokeswoman a Friday fire at a Houston mosque had “multiple points of origin” and “appears suspicious.” Center president M.J. Khan said the Islamic Center of Houston caught fire after Friday prayers, when the place was “pretty much empty.”

According to officials and CNN affiliate KTRK, no injuries were reported in the two-alarm fire, drawing 80 firefighters. Special Agent Nicole Strong of the ATF’s Houston Field Division said the agency assisted in the investigation as it typically does “when houses of worship are affected.”

From AFP news agency:

U.S. authorities probe ‘suspicious’ fire at Texas mosque

Saturday, 26 December 2015

U.S. authorities on Saturday were investigating a suspicious fire at a mosque in Texas, weeks after a mass shooting in California by a Muslim couple that sparked fears of a backlash against members of their faith.

No one was hurt in the blaze at the Masjid mosque in Houston that broke out Friday afternoon and destroyed the interior of the small house of worship located in a shopping mall, local media reported.

The fire had “multiple points of origin” and “appears suspicious,” a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told local media.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged authorities to probe possible foul play.

“Because of the recent spike in hate incidents targeting mosques nationwide, we urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this fire,” the executive director of the group’s Houston chapter, Mustafaa Carroll, said in a statement.

“Officials are checking surveillance video and say the cause of the fire is ‘suspicious,’” the statement said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the incident, according to local news reports.

Earlier this month, authorities investigated a suspected case of arson at a mosque in Palm Springs, California.

On Dec. 2, a Muslim couple killed 14 people and injured 22 others in an assault in the California city of San Bernardino that is being investigated by the FBI as a terror attack.

The rampage has raised fears of a backlash against the Muslim community in the United States, especially in the wake of anti-Muslim rhetoric by Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump.

A fire at a Houston mosque on Christmas was intentionally set, fire department says: here.

Sandra Bland’s death, investigate it, petition


This video from the USA:

21 December 2015

Sandra Bland’s mother Geneva Reed-Veal criticized the grand jury proceedings in Waller County, Texas.

From UltraViolet in the USA:

BREAKING: A mostly white grand jury in Texas just failed to indict anyone in Sandra Bland’s death, and has allowed all Waller County sheriff officials and jail employees to escape accountability.1

It’s what Bland’s family and supporters feared–and it’s exactly why we need the Department of Justice to step in NOW to investigate. Despite months of grassroots pressure, the Department of Justice has done NOTHING.

Over 500,000 people have signed the petition demanding the DOJ step in and launch a federal investigation–can you add your name?

The grand jury is reconvening in January to decide whether to indict Trooper Brian Encinia, the cop who wrongfully arrested Bland. But it’s clear that we can’t trust Waller County officials to investigate themselves. The DOJ has the ability to probe the entire police department and determine if the death of Sandra Bland is a symptom of a larger issue with police violence in Waller County. If the DOJ remains silent, we can’t expect that the Waller County police will ever be held accountable–that’s why we need as many people as possible taking a stand for justice.

Add your name.

-Nita and Shaunna

P.S. Here’s the original email we sent about the case:

Sandra Bland was driving from Illinois to Texas to start a new job at her alma mater. By all accounts she was thrilled at the opportunity.

But that opportunity is gone, after a routine traffic stop Friday in Waller County, TX led to her death in a jail cell Monday morning.2

And the local sheriff–who was fired in a different city for racist and violent conduct–claims Sandra killed herself. 3 But Sandra’s family and friends say that’s not possible. They are demanding answers but getting little help from local authorities. If left up to a racist sheriff, you can bet justice for Sandra and her family will be delayed–possibly forever.

That’s why we need the Department of Justice to step in and investigate Sandra’s death. Can you sign the petition?

Tell Attorney General Loretta Lynch: Waller County Police must be held accountable. Launch a federal investigation into the death of Sandra Bland.

Sign the petition

In the video, you can hear Sandra screaming, “You slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that?”3 She was just about to start a new job in student outreach at her alma mater Prairie View A&M University. Her family and friends say she was excited about her new job, and describe her as “strong,” “outspoken,” and “passionate.” She was also a proud advocate against police violence and brutality. Her death is tragic.5

Black women and men are 4.2 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than anyone else.6 From Natasha McKenna, Alexia Christian, and Sheneque Proctor, to Yvvette Smith and Rekia Boyd, the deaths of Black women at the hands of police–with no accountability–needs to be stopped.

The police department is claiming she took her own life by hanging herself–but there were no shoestrings or blankets in her cell she could have used.7 And they’re refusing to release any video footage from that night. The police aren’t going to police themselves–that’s why we need the Department of Justice to launch a full investigation of Sandra’s death.

Sandra Bland deserves justice, and as we’ve seen with cases like those of Renisha McBride and Marissa Alexander, justice often comes only after we all raise our voices loudly.8 When people demanded an investigation of Ferguson police, the Department of Justice found undeniable patterns of racism and violence, and they were held accountable.9 Together, with our friends at ColorofChange, we can make sure Waller County police are held accountable, and stem the tide of police violence against Black women.

Will you add your name?

Thanks for speaking out.

–Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Karin, Adam, Gabriela, Holly, Kaili, Kathy, Onyi, Susan, Clarise, Anathea, Audine, Ryan, and Shannon, the UltraViolet team

Sources:

1. Prosecutor: No indictment in Sandra Bland jail death, Associated Press, December 21, 2015

2. Sandra Bland Drove to Texas to Start a New Job, so How Did She End Up Dead In Jail?, The Root, July 16, 2015

3. Texas Sheriff involved in the death of Sandra Bland fired from previous post for racism, Daily Kos, July 16, 2015

4. Sandra Bland Drove to Texas to Start a New Job, so How Did She End Up Dead In Jail?, The Root, July 16, 2015

5. Family wary after Naperville woman’s death in Texas jail; grand jury to inquire, Chicago Tribune, July 16, 2015

6. Here’s the Data That Shows Cops Kill Black People at a Higher Rate Than White People, MotherJones, September 10, 2014

7. What Happened to Sandra Bland, a Black Woman Who Died in Jail Monday?, Gawker, July 16, 2015

8. Renisha McBride’s family: ‘You can rest now, justice is served’, myFOXDetroit.com, August 7, 2014

Marissa Alexander Released From Prison, The Root, January 28, 2015

9. Ferguson’s Conspiracy Against Black Citizens, The Atlantic, March 5, 2015

Texas grand jury refuses to indict police officers involved in the death of Sandra Bland: here.