White-breasted nuthatch, other birds in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

25 December 2016

The White Breasted Nuthatch is in a bad mood again and doing his best to intimidate other birds with his scary nuthatch dance act.

It only works for awhile before the [dark-eyed] Juncos figure out he’s bluffing!

Bison, elk became nearly extinct in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Why the U.S. Army Guarded the 23 Remaining American Buffalo

16 December 2016

In 1882, General Philip Sheridan’s expedition to the protected buffalo haven in Yellowstone National Park revealed a gruesome reality: Poachers were continuing to slaughter the last remnants of America’s big-game icon. He then called in the U.S. Army to intervene.

Nearly 2,000 ´arrest-related deaths´ annually in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Why ‘Black Lives Matter‘ Is Important

7 July 2016

The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has met a lot of resistance from many who shout back, “All lives matter!” Context is important. History is important. Here is why ‘Black Lives Matter’ is important. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Two fatal police shootings of black men in less than 48 hours — one in Louisiana and one in Minnesota — have reignited long-running tensions over police and race. And at the center of it all will be the Black Lives Matter movement.

Americans are still trying to figure out how they feel about that.

Over the course of its existence, Black Lives Matter has become a polarizing and often contentious political movement. Opponents accuse it of fomenting violence and being anti-police. Supporters say it’s a long-overdue reaction to disparate treatment of black people by law enforcement.

Unsurprisingly, views of the movement are split along racial lines. But it’s also worth noting that, even among black Americans, support isn’t overwhelming, and most Americans don’t really know much about it.

A Pew Research Center poll last week found that 41 percent of black people said they support the movement “strongly.” An additional 24 percent support it “somewhat” — 65 percent support overall — while just 12 percent oppose it.”

Read more here.

From the World Socalist Web Site in the USA:

Justice Department report estimates nearly 2,000 “arrest-related deaths” annually in US

By our reporter

19 December 2016

A new report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 1,900 “arrest-related deaths” occurred in the United States between June 2015 and May 2016. The number of police killings, or homicides, recorded by the BJS is more than twice the number reported by the FBI.

The BJS, a division of the US Justice Department, defines “arrest-related deaths” as all deaths “that occur during the process of arrest or during an attempt to obtain custody” by state or local police agencies. This would include, for example, people who die of a heart attack or commit suicide while being arrested, but would not include individuals shot by police officers who are not on active duty.

Despite the enormous number of people killed by police every year, there is no reliable or standardized method for calculating the figure. The FBI’s annual report is based on voluntary reports from local police agencies, many of which do not submit figures. Web sites like Killed By Police and the Guardian’s The Counted rely on media reports, but not all deaths are reported in news stories.

The BJS report is based on a combination of media reports and a more systematic survey of police agencies. Based on media accounts, it identified 1,348 potential arrest-related deaths between June 2015 and March 2016, or an average of about 135 per month. It requested reports from local police to confirm or deny media tallies and identify other deaths, which resulted in a 12 percent increase in deaths for this period.

The 1,900 estimate is based on the full media survey from June 2015 to May 2016, plus an additional 12 percent extrapolated from the three-month survey of police agencies.

The BJS estimated that 64 percent of the deaths were homicides (that is, willful killings), while 18 percent were suicides and 11 percent were “accidents.” This would mean that about 1,216 fall under the category of police killings.

In comparison, the Guardian has recorded 1,026 individuals killed by police so far this year and 1,146 total last year.

The vast majority of police killings are never covered by the national media, and are buried in three- or four-paragraph summaries in local media, if reported at all. The individuals killed are from all racial backgrounds and ages, though overwhelmingly they are poor or working class. Some of the deaths are related to the commission of violent crimes, but most are a product of desperate social conditions and a brutal and disproportionate police response.

Among the recent killings this past week are:

* An unidentified 44-year-old man in Everett, Washington who was fatally shot Saturday night after police claim he reached for an officer’s gun during a struggle that followed a domestic violence incident.

* Jeffery Lee Lawson, 48, who was shot and killed Saturday night in Shelby County, Tennessee after police claim he threatened them with a knife while in his driveway. His wife had previously reported that Lawson was bipolar but did not always take his medication.

* Marlon Lewis, 37, died of cardiac arrest on Thursday after police in Badin, North Carolina used a Taser on him repeatedly. Police claim that Lewis, a father of two, was resisting arrest, but his sister said that he had called 911 for help and told police that someone was trying to kill him.

* Steven Garett Ward, 20, was shot in Jefferson Township, Pennsylvania after police responded to a domestic dispute call on December 7. He died last week. Police claim that he walked towards them with a knife in his hand.

These killings follow the shooting of Francisco Serna, a 73-year-old man suffering from dementia, by Bakersfield, California police last weekend. Police say they shot and killed the man in his neighbor’s driveway when he refused to take his hands out of his pockets. He was unarmed and had been holding a wooden crucifix in his jacket.

An autopsy released on Thursday reported that Serna was struck by five of the seven bullets shot at him by police officer Reagan Selman.

Based on the averages published by the BJS for 2015, something on the order of 10,000 people have been killed by police during the eight years of the Obama administration. Since protests erupted over the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014, the number of police killings has, if anything, only increased.

Along with an overall policy of war and social reaction, the incoming Trump administration has pledged to give police greater powers and an even freer hand to commit violence throughout the country.

US police kill over 1000 people in 2016

This video says about itself:

17 December 2016

So far this year, 1000 people have been killed by the police in the United States and Black people and Indigenous people have been disproportionately targeted.

US police killed more than 1,150 in 2016: here.

Women in astronomy

This video says about itself:

How a Team of Female Astronomers Revolutionized Our Understanding of Stars

24 February 2016

At the turn of the 19th century, male astronomers mainly studied galaxies, leaving female scientists wide latitude to research and innovate. Indeed they accomplished truly stellar work. Frebel’s book is “Searching for the Oldest Stars: Ancient Relics from the Early Universe“.

From Science News in the USA:

‘The Glass Universe’ celebrates astronomy’s unsung heroines

Women in the 19th century played underappreciated role in mapping and understanding the stars

By Macon Morehouse

8:00am, November 27, 2016

The Glass Universe
Dava Sobel
Viking, $30

In the early 1880s, Harvard Observatory director Edward Pickering put out a call for volunteers to help observe flickering stars. He welcomed women, in particular — and not just because he couldn’t afford to pay anything.

At the time, women’s colleges were producing graduates with “abundant training to make excellent observers,” Pickering wrote. His belief in women’s abilities carried over when he hired staff, even though critics of women’s higher education argued that women “originate almost nothing, so that human knowledge is not advanced by their work.”

Pickering and his “harem” sure proved the critics wrong.

In The Glass Universe, science writer Dava Sobel shines a light on the often-unheralded scientific contributions of the observatory’s beskirted “computers” who helped chart the heavens. By 1893, women made up nearly half of the observatory’s assistants, and dozens followed in their footsteps.

These women toiled tirelessly, marking times, coordinates and other notations for photographic images of the sky taken nightly and preserved on glass plates — the glass universe. These women’s routine mapping of the stars gave birth to novel ideas that advanced astronomy in ways still instrumental today — from how stars are classified to how galactic distances are measured.

Using diaries, letters, memoirs and scientific papers, Sobel recounts the accomplishments of these extraordinary women, going into enough scientific detail (glossary included) to satisfy curious readers and enough personal detail to bring these women’s stories to life.

Sobel traces the origin of the glass universe back to heiress Anna Palmer Draper. The book opens in 1882 with her exulting in hosting a party for the scientific glitterati under the glowing and novel Edison incandescent lights. Her husband, Henry Draper, a doctor and amateur astronomer, had pioneered a way to “fix” the stars on glass photographic plates. The resulting durable black-and-white images revealed spectral lines that could provide hints to a star’s elements — and eventually so much more. Henry’s premature death five days after the party launched Anna’s philanthropic support of the Harvard Observatory and the creation of the glass universe.

Other women featured in the book had a more hands-on impact on astronomy. For instance, Williamina Fleming came to the United States as a maid. But Pickering soon recognized her knack for mathematics. At the observatory, she read “the rune-like lines of the spectra,” Sobel writes, noticing patterns that led to the first iteration in 1890 of the Draper stellar classification system. That system, still used today, was later refined by the observations of other women.

Henrietta Leavitt, a promising Radcliffe College astronomy student slowly going deaf, joined the staff in 1895. While meticulously tracking the changing brightness of variable stars, she noticed a pattern: The brighter a star’s magnitude, the longer it took to cycle through all its variations. This period-luminosity law, published in 1912, became crucial in measuring the distance to stars. It underpinned Edwin Hubble’s law on cosmic expansion and led to discoveries about the shape of the Milky Way, our solar system’s place far from the galactic center and the existence of other galaxies.

The story belongs, too, to Pickering and his successor, Harlow Shapley. Perhaps partly motivated by economics at a time of shoestring budgets — in 1888, women computers earned just 25cents per hour — these men not only recognized, but also encouraged and heralded the women’s talent.

Sobel takes readers through World War II and a myriad of other moments starring women: first woman observatory head; first woman professor at Harvard (of astronomy, of course); discoveries of binary stars, the prevalence of hydrogen and helium in stars, and the existence of interstellar dust. In some cases, it took male astronomers to make those findings stick — the glass universe had a glass ceiling.

After World War II, radio astronomy emerged, and “the days of the human computer were numbered — by zeros and ones,” Sobel writes. Using film to photograph the stars ended in the 1970s. But the glass universe is far from obsolete. The roughly half-million plates hold the ghosts of pulsars, quasars and other stellar phenomena not even imagined when the plates were made. They also offer the promise of more discoveries to come, perhaps by the next generation of women astronomers.

Some pulsars lose their steady beat. New discoveries hint at hidden population of neutron stars. By Christopher Crockett, 9:00am, January 6, 2017: here.

American common gallinule couple, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

25 November 2016

A pair of Common Moorhens (aka Common Gallinule) enjoy a nice bath and a preening session in a freshwater marsh. Also known as “swamp chickens” these birds are unique for their huge non-webbed feet that allow them to walk easily on top of aquatic vegetation. A close relative of the [American] Purple Gallinule.