Wisconsin, USA forced to vote during coronavirus


This 7 April 2020 video says about itself:

The Wisconsin governor delayed the primary election vote, however, a court just overruled him. Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

By Jacob Crosse and Patrick Martin in the USA:

Wisconsin state Supreme Court overturns governor’s action, orders in-person voting today

In actions that have far-reaching and ominous implications for democracy in America, both the Wisconsin state Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court have intervened to support the demand by Republican Party officials in Wisconsin that the state conduct an in-person election today, despite the danger of coronavirus infection for any voter who goes to the polls.

The Wisconsin election is to go forward, both the Democratic presidential primary, a statewide vote for the state Supreme Court and a state referendum, and hundreds of local contests, despite the last-minute effort by Democratic Governor Tony Evers to postpone it until June. After weeks of prevaricating, Evers issued an executive order Monday to put off the in-person voting until June 9.

As of Monday, Wisconsin had 2,440 cases of coronavirus, of which 1,256 cases and 40 deaths were in Milwaukee, followed by Dane County (Madison) with 278 cases and nine deaths, Waukesha County, 160 cases and four deaths, and Kenosha County, 104 cases and one death. There is little doubt that holding a primary election with in-person voting will drive these numbers upward.

The vote is an election in name only, however. Because of the dangers of COVID-19 infection, particularly to the predominately elderly and retired people who traditionally staff polling places, there will actually be few places for voters to cast their ballots if they attempt to do so. Thousands of poll workers have refused to participate in the election because of the risk to their health.

In the entire city of Milwaukee, with a population of nearly 600,000, only five “voting stations” will be open. The city was compelled to reduce the number of polling stations from the usual 180 to five because it was essentially without poll workers. Nearly half of the 85 people who have died of coronavirus so far in Wisconsin were Milwaukee residents.

Many other cities were following suit. Green Bay, for example, cut the number of polling places from 31 to only two. Only Madison, the second-largest city and a Democratic stronghold, indicated it would open the usual number of polling places. But Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said, before the state Supreme Court issued its order, “I certainly hope that anyone who has any influence on the decision recognizes again that from a public health perspective, it would be a really, really bad idea to hold the election.”

The Republican-controlled state legislature has achieved its wildest dreams: an election in Wisconsin in which voters in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, and in many other smaller cities, are effectively disenfranchised, while voters in sparsely populated rural areas, where the coronavirus is not yet a major factor, are expected to turn out. And this has been sanctioned by a 4–2 vote of the Wisconsin state Supreme Court, on a party-line vote, with one Republican, Daniel Kelly, who is up for reelection in today’s ballot, recusing himself.

This travesty of democracy has been further sanctioned by the US Supreme Court, which issued a ruling, shortly after the state Supreme Court decision, overturning a federal district court decision to allow more time for voters to complete and mail in absentee ballots. By a party-line 5–4 vote, with five justices appointed by Republican presidents overruling four justices appointed by Democrats, the high court found that the lower court had exceeded its authority and that the coronavirus emergency did not justify allowing voters to mail in absentee ballots after the April 7 primary.

In his opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh explicitly declared that the court was not taking a position on whether the primary election should be held on April 7. That was left to be decided by the state Supreme Court. This is the opposite of the position taken by a 5–4 Republican majority on the court in the notorious 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore, in which the US Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Florida state Supreme Court to allow a statewide recount to continue because all voters, under the Florida state constitution, had the right to have their votes counted.

“The Court’s order requires absentee voters to postmark their ballots by election day, April 7—i.e., tomorrow—even if they did not receive their ballots by that date. That is a novel requirement,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent of the 5–4 decision, adding, “the Court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement.”

The US Supreme Court overturned the ruling made by District Judge William Conley, for the Western District of Wisconsin, which would have required counting absentee ballots mailed later than April 7 provided they were received by April 13, the legal deadline. Nearly 600,000 absentee ballots mailed to voters at their request have not yet been returned. Some 11,000 ballots had not yet been mailed out Monday morning to the voters who requested them. Given the disruption caused by the coronavirus epidemic, it is likely that tens if not hundreds of thousands of ballots will not be postmarked by April 7 and those votes will be disqualified.

In issuing Executive Order #74 to postpone the April 7 vote, Governor Evers cited language in the state Constitution which allows him to take extraordinary action which “he or she deems necessary for the security of persons and property.” The two top state Republicans, Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, immediately filed suit with the state Supreme Court, accusing Evers of “unconstitutional overreach.”

Evers had dithered over whether to go ahead with the election, even after 11 other US states with votes scheduled between March 24 and mid-May had either postponed their elections or switched to mail-ballot-only to allow voters to observe social distancing rules aimed at curbing the coronavirus infection. On Sunday, the mayors of nine Wisconsin cities, including Milwaukee and Madison, appealed to the state’s Department of Health Services to ban in-person voting Tuesday on health grounds.

After initially claiming he had no legal authority to postpone the vote, Evers issued the executive order Monday, with his spokesman saying conditions had changed because of the pandemic: “This is an unprecedented situation in our state’s history, and thus this is not even really a choice, but a need in order to protect personal security to not allow in-person voting tomorrow.”

The election is now supposed to go forward, putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people needlessly at risk. President Trump voiced his approval for the court’s decision, writing on Twitter, “The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that tomorrow’s election will proceed as scheduled. VOTE for Justice Daniel Kelly tomorrow, and be safe!”

In an interview with the Washington Post, Lois Frank, 57, the village clerk of tiny Cambria, located in rural eastern Wisconsin, spoke of the danger clerks like her will face tomorrow. “We’re going to be on the front lines just like the health care workers, I just personally know a lot of clerks that do have health risks, myself included.”

No in-person primaries have been held in the US since March 17 when Florida, Arizona and Illinois voters risked their lives waiting hours to vote in crowded understaffed polling stations. In the declaration accompanying his executive order, Evers compared the infection rates between Michigan and Ohio to explain why the elections needed to be postponed.

Michigan currently has 17,221 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 727 deaths, while Ohio reports 4,400 cases of COVID-19 with 142 deaths so far. Ohio actually has a larger population, and the two states are comparable in the social devastation and poverty of former industrial centers like Detroit, Cleveland and Youngstown. But Michigan held a presidential primary on March 10, in which some 1.4 million people voted, while Ohio canceled its scheduled in-person voting on March 17.

This past Saturday Evers had called a special session of the legislature to take up his belated request to postpone the primary until May 19 and to convert the election to an entirely mail-in election. The Republican-dominated assembly gaveled in and out of the special session in less than 20 seconds without taking up the governor’s request.

In addition to the Democratic presidential primary contest between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, the April 7 elections features the aforementioned supreme court race between Kelly and current Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky, as well as hundreds of contests for county board, school board and municipal judges.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that up to 7,000 poll workers had already made it known that they were not going to violate Evers “stay-at-home” order by working the polls. According to Evers’ own executive order, the city of Waukesha, with a population of nearly 73,000 people, would have had one available polling station. But limiting the number of stations exacerbates the danger of spreading the infection, since it insures longer lines at the polls.

Evers and the GOP had sought a deal to “protect” poll workers, many who are older and at higher risk of falling ill, floating a proposal to replace the older poll workers with younger ones. When this proposal, unsurprisingly, found few volunteers, Evers decided to call up soldiers from the Wisconsin National Guard to needlessly endanger themselves by manning the few polling stations that will be available.

RBG SOUNDS THE SIREN: DISENFRANCHISEMENT IN WISCONSIN Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg excoriated her conservative colleagues over their decision to deny Wisconsin Democrats’ request to extend absentee voting beyond the state’s election on Tuesday, despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc declared absentee ballots must be mailed by Tuesday. Ginsburg said the decision means voters will have to risk their health “or they will lose their right to vote.” [HuffPost]

Molson Coors corporation not compensating massacre survivors


This 27 February 2020 video from Wisconsin in the USA says about itself:

The shooting at Molson Coors makes at least 11 mass shootings in Wisconsin since 2004; at least five have taken place in southeast Wisconsin.

By Jacob Crosse in the USA:

Following Milwaukee brewery shooting, Molson Coors starts a GoFundMe for victims’ families

7 March 2020

Nearly two weeks have passed since a deadly shooting at the Milwaukee Molson Coors brewery left six workers including the gunman, Anthony Ferrill, 51, dead. Three of the victims were power operators at the brewery, Jesus Valle Jr., 33, of Milwaukee, employed since 2014, Gennady “Gene” Levshetz, 61, of Mequon, who started in 2008 and Trevor Wetselaar, 33, of Milwaukee, with the brewery since 2018. The two other victims were Dana Walk, 57, of Delafield, a machinist with the brewery since 2004 and finally, Dale Hudson, 60, of Waukesha, an electrician with the brewery since 2008.

Operations at the brewery were suspended for five days and resumed Monday evening. As many of the 1,400 workers returned to the brewery to begin their shift they were greeted by armed security agents and police. Workers have been subjected to bag checks and increased security screenings before entering the facility.

In response to the shooting the multinational brewing conglomerate Molson Coors, with revenue exceeding $10 billion last year, set up a “victims fund” on the website GoFundMe.com for the families whose husbands, father and brothers were killed while on the job. Millions of workers in the US are forced to rely on crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe to pay for everything from car repairs to medical costs, school supplies, and in this case, funeral expenses.

The initial goal for the fund was $1 million, with the company providing $500,000 and the rest expected to be raised by the general population. As of right now, the fund stands at just over $1.1 million, which is just over half of what the city of Milwaukee gave to the company last year to “refurbish empty office buildings”, and less than one-quarter of the $4.3 milllion compensation package given to Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersly last year, according to salary.com.

News of the company starting a GoFundMe was met with justified scorn and derision on social media. Several commenters pointed out the hypocrisy of a giant conglomerate shaking down the population for money to help pay for the consequences of deaths suffered while on the job.

“It’s publicity. They’re 100% aware that their insurance will be paying out with lawsuits. This will get families through until then. They’re sure as hell not going to give away any more shareholder cash than that. It’s a corporation. Employees don’t matter—shareholders do,” remarked Facebook user Valerie Ray. “This is a multi-billion dollar company. Why did they not pull off a few million from executives pay,” commented Thomas Reilly. …

Several media reports have reported that a noose was found on Ferrill’s locker five years ago, 2015, while Ferrill was not at work. While Ferrill, who was African-American, was alerted to the incident, he had not filed any discrimination complaints with the company …

The Milwaukee police, while emphasizing that they are still in the process of investigating, have pushed back against this racial motive of the shooting, stating that “neither race nor racism has been identified as a factor,” and that the department “is not aware of any of the victims targeted in the mass shooting being involved in any inappropriate or racist behavior toward the suspect.” …

Probably not the victims. But, if indeed racism, by others, caused Ferrill’s mental breakdown, then it is not any excuse for massacring people. But then, the corporate responsibility for a racist atmosphere, making them co-responsible for the mass murder, makes it even more cynical that Molson Coors lets the general public pay to the victims’ relatives.

Ferrill had been in the military, the United States Coast Guard. Had that contributed to his mental problems?

While reported in several articles, less emphasis has been placed on the fact that Ferrill, in conversations with his neighbor over the years, showed signs of severe anxiety and expressed fear that the company was spying on him. Ferrill was working more than 50 hours a week before the shooting.

Like most electricians, Ferrill was forced to work in a combination of cramped, crowded spaces or high up in rafters on ladders performing his various tasks. The enormous brewery, with its several flights of stairs and multiple buildings, meant that a typical day required walking miles between jobs, while carrying tools and supplies. In June 2015, Ferrill injured his shoulder after falling off a ladder and was forced to take time off to recover. In addition, he applied to be put on a restricted work status.

After his injury, Ferrill reported to his neighbor, Erna Roenspies that the company had sent “spies” to his home and were watching him to catch him in an act that would allow them to deny him any workers compensation. Ferrill advised his neighbor that company spies were always watching him. Roenspies recalled a recent incident to CBS 58 in which Ferrill pointed out to her a car that was parked outside, advising her that the “spying irritated him.”

It is not uncommon for corporations to hire outside agencies to spy on and report back to the company if they suspect an employee of “abusing” their limited work status. Amazon, the logistics and technology giant, routinely hires private detectives to surveil workers in their own homes. Workers are also tracked closely for performance while on the job.

With Molson Coors going through several acquisitions and mergers during Ferrill’s tenure, it would not be surprising to find out that management … had set about clearing the books of injured workers like him, seen as “non productive” assets, in order to aid the company’s drive for greater profits. …

Taking all of this into account, it is not hard to see where a worker would become suspicious or paranoid that they were being watched and harassed, and, compounded by the long hours of work needed to provide financially for his family, that this stress would be the catalyst for a worker lashing out in apparently inexplicable violence with tragic consequences for everyone involved.

That such scenes play out with frightening regularity in America is a symptom of a deeply sick society, where workers are driven over the brink by the unyielding demands of the capitalist system.

Oil plutocracy or democracy in Wisconsin, USA?


This 4 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

This is Happening | Dakota Access Pipeline protests

This episode takes a fresh look at the impassioned events at Standing Rock — the longest-running protest in modern history — through the lens of three fearless front-liners who dropped everything to join the resistance.

By Jacob Crosse in the USA:

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor signs oil-lobby-backed bill criminalising free speech

26 November 2019

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor Tony Evers, ignoring opposition from environmental groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and multiple Tribal Nations, last week signed into law Assembly Bill 426. The legislation makes it a felony, punishable with a $10,000 fine and up to six years in prison, to protest, trespass or cause damage to “critical infrastructure”, including transmission lines, fencing, posts and oil pipelines.

In a Wednesday press conference after signing the bill, Evers, who ran in 2018 on a platform of “pragmatism and change”, admitted that he had “problems” with the bill, but they were not enough to stop him from signing the bipartisan bill which passed with overwhelming Republican support.

While he easily signed off on the pro-corporate bill, Evers has not announced any plans to push for legislation reversing the corporate handouts to Foxconn or the anti-worker Act 10 measures enacted by his predecessor Scott Walker in the face of mass protests in 2011.

Democrats throughout the state, including State Senator Janet Bewley, tried to hide behind workers as justification for signing the bill. While she didn’t care to elaborate on workers’ safety in regard to the damage created by climate change, or the evisceration of safety regulations under Democratic and Republican administrations, Bewley instead focused on “workers on pipelines [who] feel more and more unsafe due to an increase in reported incidents of vandalism that jeopardize not only their safety, but the public’s safety as well.”

Assembly Bill 426 is based on the “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act” model bill which was distributed to state legislators by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a conservative “nonprofit” that derives over 98 percent of its funding from corporate goliaths such as AT&T, Exxon-Mobil, Koch Industries, Pfizer and Wal-Mart. “Model legislation” crafted by these corporations’ attorneys and lobbyists is distributed via ALEC to members of both parties for passage in legislatures across the country.

In audio obtained by The Intercept earlier this year, lobbyist Derrick Morgan, a senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs for the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) association, a powerful lobby group, elaborated the purpose of these bills and how he was ”intimately involved” in crafting the “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act”.

Speaking at a June conference in Washington, D.C. for the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation, Morgan explained that “this model legislation would itemize criminal trespass and also a liability for folks that cause damage during protest.”

While it is already a federal crime for individuals to destroy or impede the transportation of energy, this new legislation’s true purpose is to hold liable any political groups that work to organize protests or direct action against the corporations that are destroying the planet. Morgan noted, “[A]nother key aspect of it, which you also include, is inspiring organizations—so organizations who have ill intent, want to encourage folks to damage property and endanger lives—they are also held liable.”

By signing the legislation Evers made Wisconsin the tenth state to adopt legislation written by the oil companies which further enhances the power of the state in penalizing protesters. In fact, the Wisconsin law has the exact same language as “critical infrastructure” bills that have passed with bipartisan support in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Iowa, Louisiana, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas and Missouri.

The impetus for the passage of this and similar pieces of legislation was the 2016-2017 Dakota Access Pipeline protest, which took place on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota against Energy Transfer Partners’ plan to construct an oil pipeline under the Missouri River.

The Standing Rock protests won broad support from workers and students as over 10,000 protesters stood firm against the combined might of the capitalist state and multinational oil conglomerates. Live video feeds from the protesters broadcasted the brutality of private military contractors hired by the oil companies as they worked in conjunction with state troopers to violently suppress and beat workers, students and the indigenous population.

In addition to police from across the Midwest, federal agencies including the FBI were mobilized against the peaceful protesters. Together these various private and public agencies developed “intelligence reports” gathered through drone surveillance and infiltration of the protest movement. These dubious reports, gathered from social media feeds, innuendo and hearsay, were shared across police networks, which prompted violence against protesters including the firing of rubber bullets, water cannon and flash-bang grenades.

The protest movement was eventually dispersed following months of police violence, frigid temperatures and the lack of independent political leadership within the movement. …

Following months of protests, riot police violently dispersed the remaining demonstrators in February 2017.

The sight of thousands of workers, students and indigenous peoples united together against the class enemy has led to the concerted effort to pass the latest raft of anti-democratic laws. The intended purpose is not to protect the lives of oil and gas workers but to further criminalize and enhance the punitive measures against any group or person who resists the further degradation and destruction of the planet in the name of private profits.

Once again, the Democrats have shown that they have no fundamental differences with their partners in the Republican Party. Both serve the interests of private profit above all else. The fight against multinational oil corporations requires an international, anti-capitalist socialist strategy uniting workers across national lines against the corporations responsible for the continued destruction of the planet.

Wisconsin, USA carnivorous mammals, camera trap research


This 4 April 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Wildlife Science in Wisconsin

Trout Lake Station

Tim Van Deelen Ph.D. is a professor of wildlife ecology having worked as a researcher in several conservation agencies in the Great Lakes region. His teaching and research focuses on the management of large mammals. These include population estimation and dynamics, hunting, interaction of deer life history and chronic wasting disease—and, not least, the growth of Wisconsin’s wolf population and its effects on white-tailed deer in the Great Lakes region.

Tim currently is investigating the factors that determine the distribution and abundance of the terrestrial carnivore guild in an island archipelago. The Apostle Islands are a chain of 22 islands of varying size in Lake Superior, and may be a model system for studying the effects of island biogeography on the carnivore community. Tim’s group is in their third year of placing camera traps in a rigorous design on the islands. Their current studies are focusing on carnivore richness, occupancy, extinction and recolonization rates, and how these will be affected by climate change.

From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the USA:

Camera trap study reveals the hidden lives of island carnivores

December 21, 2018

Researchers placed 160 cameras on 19 of the 22 Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin to see which carnivores were living there. After taking more than 200,000 photos over a period of three years, the team discovered that several mammalian predators are living on various islands in this remote archipelago in Lake Superior.

Reported in the journal Community Ecology, the study reveals a thriving community of carnivores, with some doing better than others on islands that differ in size and proximity to the mainland.

The researchers put motion-activated cameras on each of the islands studied, at a density of one camera per square kilometer. Over time, the camera traps recorded 10 of 12 Wisconsin land carnivores, including American martens, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, fishers, gray foxes, gray wolves, raccoons, red foxes and weasels. The cameras also captured images of semiaquatic carnivores mink and river otters, as well as raptors, small rodents, squirrels, songbirds and waterfowl.

“This is one of the first studies to focus on the carnivore community in an island system,” said Illinois Natural History Survey wildlife ecologist Max Allen, who led the new research with Morgan Farmer and Tim Van Deelen at the University of Wisconsin, and Erik Olson from Northland College. “The area is remote and difficult to access, with rough water in summer and variable ice conditions in winter, so the carnivore community had never been studied.”

The INHS is a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The research offers new insights into a phenomenon known as island biogeography, which describes the distribution and diversity of species in territories with distinct boundaries that can act as obstacles to inward and outward migration.

“Most research on island biogeography has been conducted in tropical marine systems that have innately high levels of biodiversity and few carnivores,” Allen said. The new study is unique in that it examines carnivores in a remote island system in a temperate locale, he said.

“We were surprised to find an intact carnivore community — including gray wolves and American martens — on these islands,” Allen said. “We found more carnivore species on islands that were larger and/or closer to the mainland.”

Black bears were found on 13 of the islands examined. They appeared to prefer bigger islands that were closer to other islands. Gray wolves, however, were seen only on one of the 19 islands studied. These differences may have to do with the animals’ diets and habits. Bears tend to be solitary and eat a variety of foods, while wolves are social, with more specialized diets. The latter tend to prey on ungulates like deer.

The researchers were surprised to find that some smaller carnivores, such as weasels and American martens, appeared to prefer life on islands further from the mainland.

The carnivores may swim from island to island or use ice bridges that form in winter between the islands. Documented declines in the duration of lake ice as a result of climate change may hinder the movement of carnivores between islands and to and from the mainland, Allen said.

“The study offers a first glimpse of the top predators making a living on the Apostle Islands,” Allen said. “It’s pretty exciting to be the first to document species in an area, especially a wild and remote piece of land in the National Park Service.”

Scientists have explored to what extent camera trap data are suitable to assess subtle species interactions such as avoidance in space and time: here.

New scat study provides clues to puzzling existence of Humboldt martens in Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area: here.

Young entangled squirrels saved


This 17 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Squirrels separated by vets after tails become entangled with strips of plastic waste

Five young [gray] squirrels in Wisconsin are recovering from a procedure to separate them, after their tails became entangled in a “Gordian knot” with strips of plastic.

The animals were found by a passerby, hopelessly struggling to separate themselves. It is believed that they tied themselves together in the nest, getting caught up in strands of grass and plastic that their parents had used to create their home.

The authorities were alerted, and the squirrels taken to the wildlife rehabilitation center at the Wisconsin Humane Society, where veterinarians found the animals to be “unruly” and “nippy”.

“You can imagine how wiggly and unruly (and nippy!) this frightened, distressed ball of squirrelly energy was”, the centre wrote on its Facebook page. “Our first step was to anaesthetise all five of them at the same time.”

Vets then began unravelling what they called a “Gordian Knot” – a reference to the legend of Phrygian Gordium, associated with Alexander the Great – of tightly tangled tails and nest material.

All of the squirrels sustained some degree of tissue damage to their tails, but after around 20 minutes of snipping with scissors they were freed.

“Now, one day later, they are all bright-eyed, and three of the five are ‘bushy-tailed’”, the centre said. “But we’ll need to monitor all of them for a couple of days to watch for tail necrosis caused by impaired blood flow.”

Young Amerikan kestrels fledge, videos


This video from the USA says about itself:

American Kestrel Chick Fledges! – July 14, 2018

One of the American Kestrel chicks fledged first thing this morning! Watch one of the younger male chicks take his first flight at 6:05 AM on July 14. At least one male chick remains in the nest after two chicks likely fledged sometime on July 13.

The American Kestrel cam is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab or Ornithology and the Raptor Resource Project. Four downy American Kestrel nestlings are tucked into a gravel-bottomed nest on private property near Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. The nest box is located on the side of a traditional limestone-footed barn, overlooking a rolling grassland that slopes away into folded hills and forests. Our partners at the Raptor Resource Project have watched kestrels breed at this site for over 25 years, and the wonderful combination of grassland, forest, and water that surrounds the property is an excellent example of the habitat that kestrels need to survive and thrive.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Last Kestrel Chick Takes Flight From The Nesting Box! – July 14, 2018

Nearly five hours after its sibling left the box at 6:05 AM, the final American Kestrel chick took wing at 11:44 AM and joined its siblings in the wild world outside of the nesting box! All four chicks have now fledged, and the nesting box is empty. The age of the chicks at fledging ranged from 26–29 days post-hatch. Thanks to our partners at the Raptor Resource Project and to everyone for watching and learning along with us as these tiny falcons grew from fluffballs to fledglings. Good luck out there little ones!

American kestrel baby at play


THis video from the USA says about itself:

Kestrel Chick Plays With Feather And Pounces On Rocks – July 3, 2018

With the American Kestrel chicks now 15–19 days old, they are over the halfway point of the nestling stage (kestrels typically fledge at 29–31 days old).

Here, one of the chicks returns from the nest box patio and shows off an erupting set of juvenile feathers while stretching its wings, playing with a feather, and practicing its pouncing skills.

Watch the cams live at www.allaboutbirds.org/cams

The American Kestrel cam is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab or Ornithology and the Raptor Resource Project.

Four downy American Kestrel nestlings are tucked into a gravel-bottomed nest on private property near Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. The nest box is located on the side of a traditional limestone-footed barn, overlooking a rolling grassland that slopes away into folded hills and forests.

Our partners at the Raptor Resource Project have watched kestrels breed at this site for over 25 years, and the wonderful combination of grassland, forest, and water that surrounds the property is an excellent example of the habitat that kestrels need to survive and thrive. Watch cam.

The young birds began hatching out of their eggs on June 14th, and the remaining egg in the nest is unlikely to hatch at this point. Over the next 3-4 weeks the nestlings will transform from downy bobbleheads to sleek, dull versions of their parents on a diverse diet of invertebrates, small mammals, and birds. After fledging, the young will continue to be cared for by their parents, remaining near the nest as they learn to hunt and master flight.

Don’t miss the outside view! A second camera has been installed to give views of the nest box opening from the outside so viewers can observe the kestrels’ comings and goings, as well as the nestlings once they begin peering outside. To toggle between the two camera views, click the “switch camera” icon in the lower right of the livestream player, next to the settings wheel.

Fundamentalist Christian racist terrorist kills himself by mistake


This 6 April 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Wannabe White Terrorist Accidently Blows Himself Up

“Beaver Dam resident Benjamin Morrow was killed when his apartment blew up. Inside, rescue workers found a “homemade explosives laboratory” where he made the explosive out of peroxide. A newly uncovered search warrant for electronic records says that Morrow had documents “concerning white supremacy groups.” He also had two rifles, a scope, a handgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a bullet-proof helmet and vest.”

Read more here.

From the Daily Beast in the USA:

CLOSE CALL?

Suspected White Supremacist Died Building ISIS-Style Bombs

Friends and family say Ben Morrow was a Bible-toting lab worker. Investigators say he was a bomb-building white supremacist.

Kelly Weill

04.13.18 5:02 AM ET

Benjamin Morrow was found dead with white supremacist literature and the ingredients for a notorious bomb known as the “Mother of Satan.”

Morrow, 28, died in an explosion in the kitchen of his Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, apartment on March 5. His home was filled with bomb-making substances so volatile that firefighters chose to destroy the 16-unit apartment block in a controlled blaze, rather than let Morrow’s neighbors continue to live in the building. A search warrant unsealed last week revealed that Morrow kept white supremacist literature in his home. Investigators’ application for a second warrant suggests that Morrow had plans, announcing that he was clearing out a rented storage locker just hours before his death.

Kevin Heimerl of the Wisconsin Department of Justice called Morrow’s apartment a “homemade explosives laboratory.” When they responded to reports of an explosion at the home, investigators passed “a one gallon metal container of acetone,” an investigator told a judge in a newly unsealed warrant application.

Acetone is an explosive substance and ingredient in the “Mother of Satan”: a volatile bomb used by terrorists in ISIS attacks in Manchester, England, and Paris, France, in recent years.

Also sitting in plain sight where two white cardboard boxes stamped with the words “mix it, shake it, shoot it”, and three more packages labeled “sonic boom”, Heimerl testified, adding that he suspected the boxes contained materials that would explode when combined. Investigators also found pipes and pipe caps in the apartment.

When they entered the kitchen, investigators found Morrow dead in front of a still-lit stove. An “overpressure blast” had destroyed much of the room, blowing out the doors and windows and burying Morrow under the collapsed ceiling. Containers with more chemicals were spilling out an open refrigerator door.

The scene was so volatile that authorities barred the rest of the apartment building’s residents from re-entering their homes, and burned the entire building to the ground in a 1,600-degree controlled blaze overseen by 100 firefighters. Residents left their valuables inside. One of Morrow’s neighbors told the Wisconsin State Journal he planned on digging through the rubble to find a dead relative’s World War II dog tags, which had been left inside to burn.

At the time of the fire, the contents of Morrow’s apartment remained a mystery. But an unsealed warrant describes Morrow as building a terrifying arsenal.

In addition to more bomb-making materials, Morrow also had a collection of guns and accessories including a rifle scope, masks, vests, a ballistic helmet, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Morrow also had “white supremacist material” in his bedroom, the warrant said. …

In an application for a search warrant, Heimerl raised the possibility that Morrow had worked with or been inspired by others, pointing to the white supremacist literature when a judge asked about “propaganda that raises concern for this kind of collaborative work.”

The investigator who swept Morrow’s room described the literature as relating to white supremacist groups that “will involve multiple members” in potentially violent activities. He did not specify which groups were named in the literature.

Members of Morrow’s church community have pushed back on the idea that Morrow built the bombs in his bedroom and kitchen, for which investigators found handwritten instructions.

“I’d love to defend Ben because he has been described as a bomb maker and he’s not a bomb maker”, Rev. Jerry Marsden, the pastor who conducted Morrow’s funeral told the Associated Press. “He wasn’t a recluse as some have said he is. He was far from that.”

In an obituary, Morrow’s family described him as a religious man, who grew up homeschooled and later studied pre-pharmacy, math, and chemistry at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. The search warrant revealed Morrow had a Bible among his white supremacist literature and bomb-making material.

When he wasn’t building bombs, he worked as a quality control technician at Richelieu Foods, according to his LinkedIn profile. His coworkers told investigators Morrow sometimes came to work with an unpleasant smell on his clothes.

“Some of those co-workers reported that it was common for Benjamin Morrow to arrive for work and he had an odor emitting from his person that co-workers described as smelling like moth balls”, Heimerl told a judge in an application for a second warrant. “Those co-workers further stated that they had made comments to Benjamin Morrow about the fact that they could smell moth balls on him.”

Mothballs are made of flammable chemicals, which may explain the smell.

The second warrant application reveals that police were interested in the contents of a storage unit Morrow rented. On the morning of the fatal explosion, Morrow visited the storage company “and notified the business that he would be moving his personal property out of the storage unit by the end of March”, Heimerl told the judge in the warrant application, speculating that Morrow might have rented the storage unit to keep strong-smelling chemicals from his home.

The second warrant, the findings of which are not public, also extend to Morrow’s computers, flash drives, and phone. The records could reveal where Morrow received the white supremacist literature—and whether he was acting alone.

“I am aware that a person could work solely to connect this type of manufacturing homemade explosives themselves”, Heimerl said. “But I am also equally aware that individuals oftentimes communicate, inspire and engage with other persons to manufacture homemade explosives.”

Black Lives Matter smeared as ‘tools of Russia’


This video about Wisconsin in the USA says about itself:

16 August 2016

The family of Sylville Smith [killed by police] wanted to set the record straight. They revealed Sylville won a lawsuit against the police. After his courtroom victory the police started to harass him daily. They also revealed he wasn’t a felon and he called his mother during the police chase.

By Will Morrow in the USA:

The Russians are tweeting! The Russians are tweeting!

22 March 2018

Did you recently take part in a demonstration against police violence in the United States? If so, you may be the latest dupe of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his army of tweeters.

This is the implication of a March 15 report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which claims that Russian-linked Twitter accounts were “stoking the flames of racial division” in August 2016 as hundreds of youth in Milwaukee, Wisconsin engaged in angry protests against the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith by a police officer.

The article has been trumpeted by Democratic and Republican politicians alike as the latest evidence that Russian “hacking” was responsible for the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Based on their hysterical statements, all taken from the same CIA talking points, one would think that the otherwise placid state of Wisconsin had fallen under virtual Russian control.

Former US attorney general under the Obama administration, Eric Holder, while on a campaign visit in the state capital Madison on March 16, claimed that the discovery of less than three dozen tweets by accounts linked to Russia posted in August 2016 “really shows the sophistication” of Russian efforts to “influence racial tension in a state in our nation to have an electoral effect.”

Holder ominously suggested “looking into people in the country who might have possibly helped” the Russians, and called for Congressional hearings and an investigation by the FBI.

A spokeswoman for Republican governor Scott Walker stated that it was “outrageous that any foreign interests would try to cause disruption in our communities and [we] hope the federal government will spend time looking into this interference.”

Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin declared that Putin “directed an attack on our democracy” and called for federal legislation to provide states with cybersecurity grants. Democratic State Senator for Milwaukee LaTonya Johnson tweeted that “we were trying to help keep peace in the community…while these fools [Russia] were sowing seeds of racism and hatred.” She claimed that “we’re still vulnerable to these tactics.”

“These are enemies of the United States who are trying to sow dissension in our country and on the streets of Milwaukee”, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett exclaimed.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel utilized a database of thousands of tweets, collected by NBC News, originally published by accounts identified by Twitter in January as being somehow connected to Russia.

The Journal Sentinel report claims that on August 14, 2016, in the midst of three days of protests in Milwaukee, fake Russian Twitter accounts published 32 tweets using the hashtag #Milwaukee. The most prominently cited offender is a fake account intended to impersonate the Republican Party in the state of Tennessee named “Tennessee_GOP.”

The report does not indicate why a supposedly “sophisticated” plot to sow tensions “on the streets of Milwaukee” would use as its vehicle a Twitter account impersonating the branch of a major party in another state, nor provide any proof that anyone in Wisconsin actually read any of the automated tweets. Instead, it simply reports that the tweets were retweeted more than 5,000 times.

According to the report itself, though contradicting its premise that the tweets were intended to promote the election of Donald Trump, the Russian-linked accounts “presented themselves as grassroots opponents or supporters of movements like Black Lives Matter”, both “defending police and criticizing them.”

More than 100 mainly young people took part in spontaneous demonstrations on the evening of August 13 in the neighborhood of Sherman Park, following the killing of Smith by 24-year-old police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown. Both the officer and the victim were African American. While Smith had been carrying a gun, he had already thrown it away when Heaggan-Brown fired a fatal shot through the young man’s heart. In the ensuing unrest triggered by the killing, a handful of businesses were looted and several cop cars were set on fire.

Governor Walker responded by mobilizing the National Guard, a section of the military, and placing them on standby in case the police were unable to put down the protests, which continued for a further two days. Heaggan-Brown was charged but later acquitted in the killing.

The residents of Milwaukee did not need Russian bots to “sow dissension.” The real roots of the eruption of social anger on the streets of Milwaukee are to be found in the catastrophic social crisis which wracks the city and the systematic violence and abuse committed by police against workers and youth.

Milwaukee, once known as the “Machine Shop of the World” because of its high concentration of manufacturing jobs, is today the second poorest big city in America after Detroit, littered with abandoned lots and disused factory buildings. The city’s poverty rate in 2014 was 29 percent, and 42 percent for those aged 18 or under. The neighbourhood of Sherman Park where the killing took place has a poverty rate of 43 percent.

The attempt to present the Milwaukee protests as a product of Russian interference should be taken as a serious political warning about the authoritarian character of the Democrats’ anti-Russia campaign.

The Journal Sentinel report is part of a broader campaign to present every manifestation of social and political opposition in the United States, including mass demonstrations against police violence, as the product of Russian interference, rather than stemming from the untenable levels of social inequality, in which three Americans hold the same amount of wealth as half the American population, more than 25 years of unending war, and the brutality and violence of American society, where more than 1,000 people are killed every year by police.

With this bogus anti-Russia campaign the media, Democratic Party and intelligence agencies are attempting to create the conditions for the censorship of social media and the labelling of all forms of political opposition and dissent as the work of “foreign agents”, thereby justifying their immediate suppression by the state.

PROTESTS OVER STEPHON CLARK’S DEATH SHUT DOWN SACRAMENTO KINGS GAME, FREEWAYS “Black Lives Matter activists linked arms and blocked the Golden 1 Center while chanting: ‘Stephon Clark!'” [HuffPost]

The release of footage showing the brutal police murder of 22-year-old Stephon Clark has sparked two days of protests in Sacramento, the capital of California, once again revealing the immense social tensions latent within American society: here.

THE grandmother of an unarmed black man shot dead by police in Sacramento, California, last week has called for change in the way police confront suspects. Sequita Thompson gave a press conference on Monday night and recounted the events of March 18, when Stephon Clark was shot 20 times in the back garden of her house, where he lived: here.

Donald Trump administration and opposition to it


Pro-immigrant worker march in Milwaukee, USA

By Chris Davion and Jeff Lusanne in the USA:

Thousands demonstrate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin against deportations

14 February 2017

Tens of thousands of workers, families and youth marched through Milwaukee in the “Day Without Latinos, Refugees and Immigrants” protest against the Trump Administration’s raft of anti-immigrant measures. The larger-than-expected turnout reflects enormous opposition to Trump’s xenophobic and racist plans to deport millions of immigrants and refugees. The demonstrations took place in the wake of last week’s ICE raids rounding up nearly 700 immigrants and following Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s decision to enroll the Milwaukee County law enforcement in Section 287(g) program (referring to the Immigration and Nationality Act). This deputizes local Milwaukee County police officers to carry out raids against immigrants as an extension of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The protest was striking both in the number of workers, families and youth attending to denounce the anti-immigrant policies and in the broadly working-class character of the population that attended.

On January 27, Clarke announced that he enrolled in Section 287 to support the Trump Administration’s executive orders and plans to deport millions of immigrants and refugees. He declared: “President Trump made it clear with his Executive Order on enforcement of our immigration laws… No more catch and release of criminal illegal aliens. I will assign as many deputies to this initiative as I can. It is a public safety priority.”

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to demonstrators at the rally. Yesenia said the deportations are “not fair, they are breaking up families. This is their home. Even though they say they are sending them back where they came from, they don’t know anything there; they live here, this is their home. And then parents have to leave their kids behind, because they are the ones that are being sent back.”

Many demonstrators explained that the anti-immigration policies of the Trump administration were prepared by the Obama administration, which deported 2.5 million migrants, more than all previous presidents combined.

Jeider, a young demonstrator, noted, “Even throughout the Obama Administration, this march has been going on for every single year that I can remember. There is a lack of humanity in these deportations. I see it in my house, it is right there, my parents suffer, I suffer. People are denied access to opportunities— federal aid, for example. I couldn’t go to the university I wanted to.”

Jeider and Favi

His friend Favi added, “Immigrants are here for a reason. They believe this is a great place, and they are already working. Sheriff Clarke’s new law is just a new way of making us fear, of keeping us on our toes, and we already live like that. It is unnecessary, and it is based on prejudice and discrimination. That should not be allowed, ever.”

Milwaukee Sheriff Clarke has distinguished himself as an ultra-right and fascistic proponent of police state measures and is closely aligned with the Trump Administration. An African-American and registered Democrat, Clarke posted tweets endorsing a martial law-like response to social unrest regarding Trump and popular anger over police shootings, calling for a state of emergency and the use of “all non-lethal force” to “quell” the anti-Trump protests that erupted across the country after the elections.

Earlier in January, it came to light that Clarke had made bullying threats to the Milwaukee County chief medical examiner after the examiner released information about two inmates who died from horrific neglect in Milwaukee County Jail. Under Clarke’s tenure, four people died in Milwaukee jails over a six-month period in 2016, including a newborn baby birthed by a mentally-ill woman who was “laughed at” by prison guards when she cried for help while going into labor. In addition, a black man died in jail from dehydration after jail staff shut off his water supply.

Signs at the Milwaukee protest supporting the democratic rights of immigrants

In Clarke’s myriad interviews in right-wing news outlets, he has referred to demonstrators against police violence participating in Black Lives Matter protests as “subhuman creeps” and made dubious claims about the group’s potential to collaborate with ISIS and that the protesters should be eradicated “from American society”. In a 2015 radio interview, Clarke said impoverished African-Americans turn to crimes of desperation “because they’re uneducated, they’re lazy, and they’re morally bankrupt. That’s why.” He epitomizes the brutal and fascistic social outlook of the American police, who serve to protect private property and the privilege of the wealthy.

The tens of thousands of marchers carried a variety of signs denouncing Trump and Clarke and opposing the anti-democratic and discriminatory measures. Workers, families and students came from across Wisconsin, and as the mostly Latino crowd marched up 5th Avenue, a cheer erupted at the sight of hundreds of Muslim protesters and others defending refugee rights.

General strike Friday 17th February as anti Trump demos go viral: here.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION CONFIRMS DEPORTATION RAIDS Experts say there has been an uptick in Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation raids, with 680 people picked up last week. [HuffPost]

Donald Trump’s national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, resigned late Monday following an escalating controversy in Washington over reports that he discussed anti-Russian sanctions with Moscow’s ambassador to the US in the month before President Donald Trump took office. … Just a week and a half ago, Flynn came forward as the spokesman for the real policy of escalating militarism and war that underlies Trump’s “America First” policy, when he marched into a White House press conference announcing that “we are officially putting Iran on notice” over the country’s ballistic missile test. At the time, there was no comparable hue and cry over this ultimatum and implied threat of a new and far bloodier war in the Middle East. Rather, the reaction of the Democrats and the media that supports them was either subdued or sympathetic … Meanwhile, it was also reported that Trump has arranged an interview with David Petraeus on Tuesday, possibly to take the post of national security advisor. Petraeus, a former CIA director and four-star general, was forced to resign in 2012 and was subsequently convicted in connection with sharing classified information with his mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell. In testimony to before a House panel at the end of last month, Petraeus portrayed Russia and the Putin government as attempting to undermine “our entire democratic way of life”: here.

Petraeus, contrary to whistleblower on war crimes Chelsea Manning, was not tortured and not sentenced to decades in prison, but got just a slap on the wrist.

Behind the Flynn resignation and Trump crisis: A bitter conflict over imperialist policy: here.

The US Senate confirmed Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Treasury Department on Monday night, voting by 53 to 47 to install former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin as secretary of the treasury. It was virtually a party-line vote, with only one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, supporting confirmation, joining all 52 Republicans. Mnuchin, who was the principal fundraiser for Trump’s presidential campaign, has no previous government or regulatory experience: here.

Restaurant Co-Owner: I Was Beaten Because I’m Gay And I Blame Trump: here.