Wildfire disasters in the USA

This 11 September 2020 United States TV video is called ‘Everything Is A Total Loss’: Entire Towns Devastated By Oregon Wildfires | NBC News NOW.

Ten percent of Oregon’s population ordered to evacuate as wildfires continue to ravage the US west coast. By David Fitzgerald, 11 September 2020. At least fourteen people have died in the latest outbreak: a one-year-old boy in Washington, three people in Oregon, and ten in California, and the death toll is expected to rise.

NIGHTMARE IN OREGON: 500,000 EVACUATE Stunned residents of the small Oregon town of Phoenix walked through a scene of devastation after one of the state’s many wildfires wiped out much of their community. By Thursday evening, the number of Oregon residents evacuated statewide because of fires had climbed to an estimated 10% of the state’s 4.2 million population. Some firefighters in Clackamas County were told to disengage because of dangerous fire activity as two large fires in the area were believed to be merging. Across Oregon, California and Washington, many towns have been destroyed. [AP]

10 DEAD IN MASSIVE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE A Northern California wildfire became the state’s deadliest of the year Thursday when authorities announced seven more deaths, bringing the total to 10 and the unnerving prospect the toll would climb as searchers looked for 16 missing people. Among those unaccounted for are Sandy Butler and her husband, who called their son to say they were going to try to escape the flames by finding shelter in a pond. [AP]

United States police and the violent far-right

This 28 August 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Kyle Rittenhouse CHARGED with Murder: Kenosha Shootings White Vigilante caught 4 other felonies

The 17-year-old arrested in the fatal shooting of 2 Jacob Blake protesters in Kenosha allegedly killed at least one unarmed man, and could get life in prison for murder. …

The criminal complaint against Kyle Rittenhouse was released Thursday, and it says the first person the Illinois teenager allegedly shot, Joseph Rosenbaum, “appeared to be unarmed for the duration of video” reviewed by investigators.

Prosecutors say Rosenbaum appeared to throw an object at Rittenhouse before the fatal shooting, and a second video apparently shows the object in question was nothing more than a plastic bag.

Rittenhouse is also charged with first-degree intentional homicide of Anthony Huber. Prosecutors say Huber — seen with a skateboard in several videos — approached Rittenhouse, who was lying on his back, and appeared to reach for Rittenhouse’s gun. According to the complaint, Rittenhouse fired a round, sending Huber staggering away before collapsing to the ground and dying from a gunshot wound.

Prosecutors charged Rittenhouse with 5 felonies — the 3 others are 2 counts of first-degree reckless endangerment and one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide.

That last count was for allegedly shooting Gaige Grosskreutz.

By George Zornick in the USA today:

White Vigilantes Have Always Had A Friend In Police

New data shows that far-right vigilantes, often with support from cops, have threatened protesters nearly 500 times since police killed George Floyd.

On Tuesday night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a 17-year-old named Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly opened fire on anti-racist protesters, killing two people. Video posted to social media captured Rittenhouse roaming the streets in the hours before the shooting as part of a self-styled militia that purportedly was protecting local residents and their property from the protests — and appearing to receive some tacit support from police. Christopher Mathias is a senior reporter at HuffPost covering the far right, and he spoke with Must Reads about his story on how this incident actually has a long historical lineage in the United States.

How common has white vigilante presence been at the anti-racist protests this summer?

Pretty common! The data collected by the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right counted at least 500 times vigilantes or far-right paramilitaries appeared to confront anti-racist protesters since George Floyd was killed in May. That could be an undercount, too.

‌I think one of the strange developments this year is how accustomed we’ve grown to the presence of militia types, Boogaloo bois, Proud Boys and other far-right actors turning up to confront Black Lives Matter protests. Like, what a strange and awful routine: a video emerges of cops killing a Black American, a volatile uprising breaks out with images of burning cop cars and smashed windows, militias turn up to patrol the protests or “protect property,” as they put it, there are clashes with protesters, and then police crack down on protesters. It’s been a long, hot summer.

Videos from the scene in Kenosha showed Rittenhouse talking with police before he allegedly shot three people. To what extent have you seen white vigilantes’ presence accepted by law enforcement?

So the dataset we used found about two dozen examples of law enforcement supporting or encouraging vigilantes and far-right paramilitaries this year. Those are just the ones we know about, of course. Over the last few years, there have been numerous examples of cops showing animosity toward leftist protesters while cozying up to fascists.

‌It’s also worth noting — and this is something I didn’t put in the article — but one of the favorite symbols for modern American cops is the Punisher skull. You see it on their uniforms. (I saw an NYPD cop wearing one when I got arrested earlier this summer.) They have it as tattoos, as bumper stickers on their cars. It’s firmly part of the Blue Lives Matter aesthetic that’s so, so popular with cops in this country. And it’s an ode to a white vigilante! Honestly something we don’t talk about enough.

There’s a long history of this kind of relationship in America — tell us about it.

This country was founded on white supremacy, and that racial hierarchy has, since the country was founded, been maintained and enforced by white vigilantes, always in partnership with the state. Vigilantes captured runaway slaves and massacred Native Americans for land.

The Ku Klux Klan was teeming with cops and government officials in the 1920s, even as it dealt out horrifying acts of terrorism against Black Americans. Then you had “Sundown Towns” across the U.S. during the Jim Crow era — essentially all-white municipalities — that prohibited Black people from being inside their borders after sunset. These kinds of laws, of course, were often enforced violently by vigilantes in partnership with police. What we’re seeing now during this summer’s uprising is an extension of that history.

What’s the danger moving forward that more vigilantes decide to act violently? Are experts concerned about that?

Experts are very concerned about copycat attacks after Kenosha. The rhetoric of right-wing media, the GOP and the White House is also adding fuel to the fire. Over the past few days, the MAGAverse has rushed to defend Kyle Rittenhouse. This will only embolden other vigilantes across the country. Not to mention we’re heading into an election, which is contentious enough on its own, let alone during a pandemic and a historic uprising against police. There are so many explosive elements to our current situation.

Shut down the gun-mad gang who back Trump. PETER FROST stays up late to watch some of the worst aspects of the gun-loving culture that is Trump’s United States.

How K-Pop fans are drowning out #AllLivesMatter hashtags.

‘FACEBOOK HAS BLOOD ON ITS HANDS’ Facebook deliberately took no action against a group on its platform as members plotted an armed takeover of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and encouraged each other to “shoot and kill.” Civil rights organization Muslim Advocates repeatedly highlighted the danger until Facebook took down the page. [HuffPost]

North American bighorn sheep and climate change

This video from the USA says about itself:

This 7 1/2 minute video highlights the desert bighorn sheep in Nevada. From the big rams to the next generation I’m sure you will enjoy. Hopefully, this will be playing at the Nevada Department of Wildlife booth during the 2015 annual sheep show in Reno.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Native desert bighorn sheep in ecologically intact areas are less vulnerable to climate change

August 26, 2020

In the American Southwest, native desert bighorn sheep populations found in landscapes with minimal human disturbance, including several national parks, are less likely to be vulnerable to climate change, according to a new study led by Oregon State University.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, is one of the largest genetic studies conducted on desert bighorn sheep. The researchers used genetic information from more than 1,600 individuals in 62 populations in and around 10 National Park Service units in four states — Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. Park service units include parks as well as other administrative units, such as reserves and recreation areas.

The researchers found that the least vulnerable bighorn populations are primarily in and around Death Valley National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. The results suggest that protecting these landscapes should be a priority for native bighorn conservation, said lead author Tyler Creech, an OSU graduate now at the Center for Large Landscape Conservation in Bozeman, Montana.

Meanwhile, the researchers determined that the populations with the highest overall vulnerability are primarily located outside of national park units in the southern Mojave Desert and in southeastern Utah.

In the study, the researchers analyzed the genetic structure and diversity of bighorn sheep populations and how connected they are to other populations, both genetically and geographically, and used that information to infer their vulnerability to a changing climate.

“We used DNA samples from bighorn sheep to tell us how genetically diverse populations are,” Creech said. “The populations that are less genetically diverse and less connected to their neighbors are more likely to be negatively impacted by climate change.”

“Genetic diversity allows populations to adapt to new environments,” said study co-author Clint Epps, a wildlife biologist and associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “This study highlights the important role our national park units can play in keeping these populations up as the climate changes.”

The researchers primarily used fecal pellet samples to obtain DNA from up to 85 individual bighorns in each population, and combined genetic datasets from multiple projects covering different portions of the study area, dating back to 2000. After the samples were processed and genotyped, they grouped the individuals into populations based on the locations where they were sampled, then quantified the isolation and genetics of each population.

They also considered how exposure to harsher climatic conditions within bighorn sheep habitat “patches” could influence populations’ vulnerability. Desert bighorn sheep live in some of the hottest and driest landscapes in the U.S., and climate modeling shows those areas could get hotter and drier.

To assess climate change exposure, they used an index known as “forward climate velocity,” which indicates the speed at which species must migrate to maintain constant climate conditions. They considered two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios for the 2050s developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, one that models moderate emissions and the other that models high emissions.

“We believe this approach was suitable for assessing relative exposure of desert bighorn populations across a large geographic range because although temperature and precipitation are known to influence fitness of desert bighorn sheep, the specific climatic conditions to which bighorn are most sensitive are not fully understood and may vary geographically,” Creech said.

United States sports people oppose police brutality

This 25 August 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

LeBron James is speaking out on the shooting of Jacob Blake. Rick Strom breaks it down.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Wave of protest in American sports against police brutality

The refusal of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball players to continue playing games as long as US police violence against black people continues has sparked a chain reaction in the United States sports world.

The Bucks decided on Wednesday evening not to play the fifth game in the playoff series against Orlando Magic after a black man was shot by police in the town of Kenosha, just south of Milwaukee.

Besides being a statement against racist police violence, not playing may also save players’ and their families’ health and lives as long as there is a big COVID-19 pandemic in the USA.

Last Sunday, Jacob Blake, a black man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shot by police during his arrest. Blake was shot seven times in the back. It is the second incident this summer in which police brutality against a black citizen leads to riots in the US.

In May, George Floyd died in Minneapolis after a crackdown by policemen, prompting protests across the country. The Black Lives Matter movement, which had already emerged, gained significance through that event, resulting in worldwide demonstrations.

‘More important matters deserve attention’

In the hours after the Bucks decision, baseball association MLB, women’s basketball association WNBA and football [soccer] association MLS announced that several games will be cancelled and tennis star Naomi Osaka announced that she will not play for the time being.

Osaka, who, as a child of a Haitian father and Japanese mother, feels strongly connected with the black population, also took a stand. “I am a tennis player, but primarily a black woman, there are more important things that deserve attention right now,” she said on Instagram.

Players of Los Angeles Football Club make statement after their Real Salt Lake match was cancelled. Getty Images photo

The NBA also decided to cancel Wednesday’s two other games in the playoffs (Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers).

Also in the MLB (three games) and MLS (five games) was not played. Kelvin Leerdam, former player for Feyenoord and Vitesse and now active for Seattle Sounders, was outspoken on the matter. “As an athlete, you live in a bubble, but we wanted to show everyone that we see what is happening and that it affects us too. These are difficult times, but we have to take a stand.”

Two of the three games in the WNBA were about to start when it was announced that they would not be played.

For the WNBA game between Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream, the players of the Mystics made a statement by wearing shirts with seven bullet holes on the back.

Washington Mystics' anti-police brutality statement, Getty Images

Ice hockey association NHL decided not to cancel the three scheduled play-off matches, much to the annoyance of Evander Kane, a black player of the San Jose Sharks.

He said on Twitter:

Japan’s Osaka, who grew up in the US, and earlier in the day won her quarter-final match at the WTA tournament in New York against Estonian Anett Kontaveit, announced after her match that she would not play in the semi-finals.

“I don’t expect much to change if I don’t play, but if I can start a conversation in this predominantly white sport, I see it as a step in the right direction,” said Osaka.

After Osaka’s decision, the organization of the Western & Southern Open announced that it has postponed all games until Friday. Whether Osaka will still play then is not known.

United States workers strike against racism

This 20 July 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

#StrikeforBlackLives | We the People, not we the corporations

In this moment of national reckoning, working people from across the nation and allies in the interconnected fights for justice are standing together to Strike for Black Lives. Led by the SEIU, the Movement for Black Lives and dozens of other labor rights and racial justice organizations, thousands of fast food, ride-share, nursing home and airport workers in cities across the US will walk off the job today for a full-day strike to call attention to systemic racism in the economy and acknowledge that racial justice is impossible without economic justice.

We join in solidarity with the release of a new digital short exposing how corporations wield outsized influence over our society, inhibiting workers, particularly from Black communities and other communities of color, from accessing the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. This unbalanced corporate power is unethical, unfair, and a threat to racial justice everywhere. #FundCommunitiesNotCorporations

Learn more here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 20 July 2020:

Strike for Black Lives demands end to structural racism and inequality

TENS of thousands walked out in US cities today in protest at systemic racism and a deepening structural inequality that has worsened due to the country’s disastrous handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Strike for Black Lives saw care staff, cleaners and delivery drivers down tools in a 24-hour stoppage, while others stopped work at noon for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time that a Minnesota cop knelt on George Floyd’s neck, killing him.

Ash-Lee Henderson, the spokeswoman for the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of 150 organisations, said: “We are … building a country where black lives matter in every aspect of society — including in the workplace.”

DEMS URGE PROBE INTO TRUMP’S USE OF FEDERAL OFFICERS TO QUELL PROTESTS House Democrats on Sunday sent a letter to the inspectors general of the Justice Department and Homeland Security Department requesting an investigation into the Trump administration’s use of federal law officers to suppress anti-racism protests. The leaders of three House committees ― Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee; Bennie Thompson of Homeland Security; and Carolyn Maloney of Oversight ― said they were “increasingly alarmed” by the situation. [HuffPost]

Racism, anti-racism, police in the USA

This 10 July 2020 video says about itself:

Corrupt Prosecutors In Bed With Cops Who Killed Breonna Taylor

It’s time for police reform. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss on The Young Turks.

“LOUISVILLE — Previously unheard audio of interviews from the investigation of the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor reveals new details about the events leading to her death, as well as the sympathetic approach investigators took while scrutinizing one of their own.

In the interview with Louisville police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who led the late-night raid in March, the investigator questioning Mattingly describes a raid involving at least seven officers and a battering ram as “the most passive way in””

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Strike for Black Lives set for July 20 in 25 US cities

STRIKES against systemic racism and police violence are set to take place in at least 25 US cities later this month, unions announced on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of fast-food, care-home and airport workers will walk out in a 24-hour stoppage on July 20 for marches and rallies.

The Strike for Black Lives has been co-ordinated by organisations and trade unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than two million workers in the US and Canada.

Protests erupt after Detroit, Michigan police shoot and kill 21-year-old man. By Stephen Fuller, 11 July 2020. Tensions are high in the city after weeks of protests against police brutality in which hundreds have been arrested and police have rammed into protesters with their vehicles.

Racism and police in the USA

This 9 July 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

The Chase Key: Exclusive report on how US Black man died of dehydration in custody

Exclusive investigation into death of Terrill Thomas, a Black man, who died of “profound dehydration” inside a Milwaukee jail in 2016, exposes how inmates with mental illness fail to get adequate care.

FAR-RIGHT ADOPTS ISIS TACTICS Black Lives Matter protesters nationwide have been the targets of vehicle-ramming assaults, a tactic used by Islamist extremist groups like ISIS, al Qaeda … but now adopted by the far-right. Propaganda and memes on social media encourage the violent tactics. [HuffPost]

Probably, the direct inspiration for that right-wing violence is not groups like ISIS or al Qaeda. Right-wingers in the USA, not just on social media, but on corporate Rupert Murdoch media like Fox News; not just ‘lone wolves‘, but also Republican party professional politicians, have for years propagated cars as weapons against demonstrators. Resulting in the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. And the Islamophobic murder at the Finsbury Park mosque in London, England. And Islamophobic attacks with cars in France.

Both the murder of Heather Heyer by a nazi driver in Charlottesville, Virginia and the attempted murder by Daniel Wenzek in California were inspired by ‘mainstream’ right-wing campaigns by the Rupert Murdoch empire and others encouraging drivers to violently attack Black Lives Matter and other activists with pro-crime slogans like ‘Black Lives Splatter’.

Black Lives Splatter racist decal from nazi site Daily Stormer

This variation on the United States racist “All Lives Splatter” decal which encourages drivers to wound or kill protesters against police brutality is specifically a call to kill or injure supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is from the nazi Internet site Daily Stormer, one of the organisers of the Charlottesville violent fascist rally. The murderer of Heather Heyer got his inspiration from this.

‘THEY’LL KILL ME’ Transcripts of body camera footage released Wednesday show that George Floyd said more than 20 times that he couldn’t breathe during his fatal arrest May 25. Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged in Floyd’s death, tells him, “It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.” The accounts add chilling details to the encounter that set off widespread protests against police brutality and racism.  [HuffPost]

SOLE DOJ POLICE PROBE FINDS ALARMING RESULTS The Justice Department has only investigated one police department since President Donald Trump took office. But that one probe — of the narcotics unit in Springfield, Massachusetts — found that officers “repeatedly punch individuals in the face unnecessarily” and use “excessive force without accountability.” [HuffPost]

Trump campaign: Jewish billionaires are using their money to try to ‘rig’ election.

How American bison help cliff swallows

This 6 July 2020 video from Yellowstone National Park in the USA says about itself:

How Bison Are Helping Cliff Swallows Build Their Nests

It’s a partnership that’s as unlikely as any: herds of bison on the move are kicking up chunks of earth. This, in turn, gives cliff swallows the valuable mud pellets they need to build their nests.

Pro-Big Business ‘centrism’ isn’t real centrism

This 19 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Journalist Krystal Ball joins the show to talk about why centrism sucks, responding to Bill Maher’s Klobuchar for president suggestion, her time at MSNBC, and more.

From Our Revolution, the organisation of Senator Bernie Sanders in the USA, today:

Tell the media to stop using the word “centrist” to make pro-corporate policies seem more popular than they are!

One of the most toxic elements of our current media culture is the persistent misuse of the word “centrist” to refer to candidates who support unpopular pro-corporate policies.

Last year, New York Magazine published an article that used public opinion data to prove that what the media calls “centrism” is actually extreme, unpopular, and far from the “center” of public opinion.

But the media continues to actively misleading voters by referring to pro-corporate candidates and policies as “centrist.” With hatred and authoritarianism on the rise, voters deserve accurate information from the media.

Add your name here to demand that the media stop referring to pro-corporate candidates and positions as centrist!

The media needs to do better.

Their job is to inform voters so that we can make informed decisions about which candidate represents us.

Their misuse of the word centrist to refer to pro-corporate candidates like Joe Biden is intentionally misleading, and is designed to trick the audience into thinking that Biden‘s policies are more popular than they actually are.

Tell the media to focus on informing voters and stop intentionally misusing the word “centrist” to trick voters into accepting unpopular pro-corporate policies.


The whole team at Our Revolution

Racism and police brutality in the USA

This 22 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Cops Pepper Spray Amputee, Steal His Legs

What more is there to say. This took place in Columbus, Ohio.

More about this police attack on Black Lives Matters demonstrators is in Newsweek.

This 22 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Robert E. Lee Was a Brutal Slave Master”: Activist’s Call to Rename Louisiana School Goes Viral

We play a video that has now gone viral from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where community activist Gary Chambers Jr. calls out members of the Lee High School school board for their racism during a June 18 meeting to discuss a resolution to rename the school, which is named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Chambers urged members to choose a name in honor of people who fought slavery and racism, not someone who defended it, and addressed board member Connie Bernard, who had defended Robert E. Lee and was seen shopping on her computer during the meeting.

This 22 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace Finds Noose Hanging In Garage | NowThis

A noose was found hanging in the garage of Bubba Wallace, a Black NASCAR driver, days after the company banned Confederate flags at its events.

In US news and current events today, NASCAR is investigating a noose found hanging in the garage of Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in the sport.