Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shuar [Wampis] people of Central Andes mountains in Abya Yala [South America]

2011-09-21 "Indigenous people blockade river against 'murderous' oil company" by Jeremy Hance from ""
Over the weekend more than 100 Shuar indigenous people, also known as Wampis, blockaded the Morona River in Peru in an effort to stop exploratory oil drilling by Canadian-owned Talisman Energy. The blockade in meant to prevent oil drilling in an area of the Peruvian Amazon known as Block 64, home to four indigenous tribes in total and the Pastaza River Wetland Complex, a Ramsar wetland site.
 "We do not consider the oil company as a creator of jobs but instead as murderous, criminal and abusive. We do not want Talisman in the Wampis territory," a statement from the Shuar reads pointing to Talisman Energy's track record in Peru as well as alleged human rights abuses in Sudan during the nation's civil war. The company sold off its Sudan holdings in 2003 after international criticism, while a lawsuit in the US against Talisman was thrown out due to sufficient admissible evidence. The US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The Shuar blockade comes at a time when the new Peruvian administration is working to repair battered relations with indigenous groups. Earlier this month, Peru's new president Ollanta Humala signed into law a measure requiring that industry consult indigenous groups prior to any activities on their land, including oil drilling. Although the law does not go so far as to give indigenous groups a 'veto' over industrial activities on their land.
 "What we want to do with this law is have the voice of indigenous people be heard, and have them treated like citizens, not little children who are not consulted about anything," Humala said at the signing.
 The Shuar indigenous people contend that Talisman Energy had "not completed the prior process of consultation" before drilling on their land. Talisman drilling in Block 64 began in 2004.
 Despite this, the CEO of Talisman, John Manzoni, has said the company will "only operate in areas where it has consent and support from local communities."
 According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) the Pastaza River Wetland Complex—also located in Block 64—is the world's largest Ramsar wetland site in the Amazon, exceeding 3.8 million hectares. Local people depend on the area for fishing and water.
 "Talisman must respect the decision of the indigenous people living in and around Block 64 and halt oil exploration," said Gregor MacLennan, Peru Program Coordinator with indigenous rights NGO Amazon Watch, in a press release. "The Shuar, together with the Achuar and other indigenous groups, are sending a clear message that they do not want to risk contaminating important watersheds and their ancestral hunting and fishing grounds by allowing oil development to go ahead.
 Around 70 percent of the Peruvian Amazon has been opened for oil and gas exploration and drilling under an aggressive industrialization of the Amazon by previous Peruvian president Alan Garcia. The opening up of so much of the Amazon to exploitative activities has led to numerous conflicts between large companies and indigenous people. The situation came to a head in 2009. A standoff between indigenous protestors and government police ended with 23 police officers and at least 10 protesters dead, though indigenous people say that bodies of protesters were dumped in rivers to hide the numbers killed.

Oil and gas blocks in the western Amazon. Solid yellow indicates blocks already leased out to companies. Hashed yellow indicates proposed blocks or blocks still in the negotiation phase. Protected areas shown are those considered strictly protected by the IUCN (categories I to III). Image modified from Finer M, Jenkins CN, Pimm SL, Keane B, Ross C, 2008 Oil and Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, and Indigenous Peoples. PLoS ONE 3(8): e2932. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002932

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2011-09-15 "Scientists shocked by behavior of rare gray whale" by DAN JOLING - Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Scientists tracking a rare western Pacific gray whale were shocked last winter when the endangered animal left the Asian coast, crossed the Bering Sea and swam south along Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest coasts.
Researchers are back in Russia to see whether the feat will be repeated by other Pacific gray whales.
A science team coordinated by the International Whaling Commission has attached satellite tags to five more of the highly endangered whales, according to an announcement by Oregon State University, which is taking part in the study. Researchers hope to tag 10 more whales before field work concludes.
Only about 130 western Pacific gray whales remain and little is known of their winter habits. They spend summers near Russia's Sahkalin Island. They face threats from offshore petroleum development, according to environmental groups.
Researchers last October were limited by foul weather to placing a cigar-size satellite tag on just one whale on the last day of field work. The 13-year-old male was dubbed "Flex." It spent more than two months feeding near Sakhalin Island before moving across the Sea of Okhotsk to the west coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
On Jan. 3, to the surprise of researchers, it began swimming steadily east across the Bering Sea. Eighty miles north of Alaska's Pribilof Islands, the whale turned south, and swam between Aleutian Islands into the Gulf of Alaska. It continued southeast to shallow coastal waters off Washington and Oregon. Its last confirmed location was Feb. 4 off Siletz Bay, Ore., where researchers believe the satellite tag fell off. The whale had traveled 5,335 miles over 124 days.
Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, told The Associated Press in January that little was known about the winter habits of western Pacific gray whales. One hypothesis was that they swam south down the Asian coast to the southeast China Sea. Tracking one to North America waters was "surprising everybody," he said in January.
Marine researchers later determined that Flex had crossed the Pacific at least once before. Researchers sent a photo of Flex to Cascadia Research Collective, a scientific and education organization based in Olympia, Wash., which matched the photo to a whale photographed in 2008 off Canada's Vancouver Island.
Mate is again part of the research team and is leading the tagging portion. He said by e-mail Wednesday that weather will again be a factor in how many whales are tagged.
"We are having weather issues for sure (one day on the water in the last 8 days)," he wrote. "It will probably get worse as we continue, just because it is September, but we will not stay more than another 9 days."
The effort also includes scientists from the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.
Like last year, the public will be able to track tagged whales through weekly updates posted in English at and in Russian at . A tag on one whale was not completely attached, according to the Oregon State website, and may have fallen off.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Elem Pomo Tribe of the Pomo Nation [USA - State of California]

2011-09-14 "Final Decision on Rattlesnake Island Development by Lake County Board of Supervisors Violates California Environmental Quality Act; Elem Pomo Call for Boycott of Nady Electronics" by Batsulwin Brown
LAKEPORT, CA –The Lake County Board of Supervisors issued a long-awaited final decision at the County Planning Commission hearing held last Tuesday, September 6th. The BOS voted 3-2 not to complete an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which would have called for a focused study of the archaeological and cultural resources located on Rattlesnake Island.
During the hearing, the board permitted the attorneys and hired anthropologist of wealthy businessman John Nady to respond for four hours to testimony provided two weeks ago. Closing statements by Nady’s attorneys followed, with little time for any response by representatives of the Elem Pomo tribe, who seek to protect their sacred site from becoming Nady’s vacation home.
Evidence presented during the hearing clarified that Nady’s archaeologist had not 'consulted' with the Elem, as was previously claimed, nor had he been asked 'not to remove artifacts'.  According to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements, consultation must take place if there is a possibility of the presence of human remains. “When a significant resource is involved, CEQA requires that the permitting agency first consider project alternatives, which will allow the "resources to be preserved in place and left in an undisturbed state" (CEQA sec. 21083.2 [b]).”
Dr. John Parker, Archeologist noted, “In this case, the county has decided to approve the project without proper mitigation measures. By approving the project with only "monitoring" they are saying that they will not formulate mitigation measures until something "significant" is discovered during construction…Monitoring is a way of "deferring" mitigation to some later date, which is not allowed by law”.
Supervisor Comstock, the Lake County Board Supervisor who cast the deciding vote, commented, “I'm a huge proponent of private property rights.” He added. “My family's been living in Lake County for 150 years- you can't get more native than that”.
Statements made by Nady’s party included character assassinations of Elem Tribal member Jim Brown, who was portrayed as 'unreliable’. Jim Brown responded, “I don’t need three attorneys to manipulate what I want to say.”  In his closing statement, Brown continued, “This [vote] is an embarrassment to your own planning department who made the recommendation; so it’s saying to them they’re not anybody. We need to stay together and make sure our laws are there for all of us, not just those that have the attorneys and money to manipulate.”
A request by Supervisor Rushing to follow up with an ethnographic report was ignored. The final vote was 3-2 in favor of the appeal to allow Nady's egregious development plans, which can begin within 45 days of the September 6th hearing. Nady can receive the building permit as early as November.
Nady’s development endeavor directly upon the village site and ceremonial grounds of the Elem Pomo, documented to be between 6-14,000 years, is not his first effort to desecrate sacred grounds. Nady’s company headquarters are located atop the Emeryville Shell mound, the largest Ohlone Shell mound in the bay area. In 2000, local bay area Native community members and allies attempted to block Nady’s development of the Emeryville Shell mound site, documented to be over 3,500 years old. Despite major community opposition at Emeryville City Council meetings, Nady was successful in his attempts to coerce council members to vote in his favor.
Due to his flagrant disrespect for local Indigenous communities, musicians & others of an electronic ilk are being asked to boycott NADY electronics
Help to protect the Environmental & Cultural Integrity of Rattlesnake Island. For more information and updates about efforts to Save the Island visit:
Stay tuned for further details about an upcoming protest at Nady Electronics.


The Headquarters of Nady Electronics is located at 6701 Shellmound Street
Emeryville, CA 94608-1023.

Urge the Lake County Board of Supervisors to reverse its decision against an EIR for Rattlesnake Island

Fax: (707) 263-2207
Telephone:  (707) 263-2368
Mail:  255 N Forbes St # 109 Lakeport, CA 95453-4759

Friday, September 2, 2011

2011-09-02 "Sri Lanka count finds more elephants than expected" by BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The first national survey of Sri Lanka's wild elephants found more than had been estimated — a sign the endangered species has a healthy, growing population on the Indian Ocean island.
The count conducted last month in forests and wildlife parks found 5,879 wild elephants, of which 122 are tuskers and 1,107 calves, Wildlife Minister S.M. Chandrasena said Friday.
Previous counts did not cover the entire island, but the end of a quarter-century civil war in 2009 opened former war zones to wildlife workers.
The information gathered from the survey will be used to devise plans to protect the endangered species, Wildlife Department Director General H.D. Ratnayake said.
The previous population estimate was 5,350 elephants, he said.
"These statistics show that Sri Lanka's elephants are in good health and that their population is growing," Ratnayake said.
Ratnayake said other details of the survey are still being processed and would be released later.
About 20 wildlife groups withdrew their support of the count, accusing the government of using it as a "smoke screen" for capturing the endangered animals and domesticating some of the young for use in Buddhist temples, tourism and labor.
Their accusation came after Chandrasena was quoted as saying 300 young elephants would be captured and handed over to Buddhist temples after the census. Elephants in elaborate costumes are often used in Buddhist ceremonies where they parade through the streets carrying the sacred relics of the Buddha.
Chandrasena has said he was misquoted and no wild elephants would be captured.
In the early 1900s, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 elephants roamed wild on this tropical island off southern India. But poaching and the loss of habitat due to human activities such as deforestation for farming have taken their toll.
Wild elephants are increasingly entering villages in search of food, rampaging through houses, destroying crops and killing an estimated 50 people a year.
Around 250 elephants are killed annually, mostly by farmers defending their crops or villages.
The survey was conducted using the method known as "water hole count" and about 4,000 wildlife workers, farmers and villagers were deployed for three days at more than 1,500 locations across the country to survey the elephants as they come to water sources for a drink.
Previous elephant counts were confined to specific regions. One such census, in 1993, found 1,967 elephants, but it excluded the island's north and east, where a civil war was raging at the time. With the war's end in 2009, wildlife officials this time conducted the survey in the former war zones too.