Sunday, July 22, 2012


2012-07-21 "Indigenous Colombians Put Guerillas on Trial and Resist the Central Government" by Sarah Vrba
The Nasa people of southwestern Colombia will put three leftist guerillas on trial this week in an attempt to regain autonomy and peace over a region that has remained in the crosshairs of multiple armed groups over the years. The southwestern province of Cauca in Colombia has seen a number of violent and ceaseless battles occur, mostly between the central government’s armed forces and the leftist guerilla group FARC.
The Guardian reports [] that the Nasa people want their land back and that they will take the law back into their own hands in order to demand that all armed forces leave the area. The three leftists guerillas will be put on trial after they were captured on Nasa land carrying explosives and weapons. Local groups also clashed with government forces on a hilltop fortress this week, demanding that armed government troops must leave the area.
One man was shot and killed in the region by government soldiers angering the local Nasa people. The group captured 30 soldiers in retaliation and held them captive for an entire day before they released the men to a humanitarian organization this week.
The Chicago Tribune notes [] that at least two days of heavy violence have plagued the region as government forces threw tear gas and used armored vehicles to fight back protesters who were reported to be hurling stones. At least 26 people were injured and one was killed in the tense confrontations.
The Guardian notes that the Cauca region remains a critical area for rebel groups because it connects the region in which cocoa is grown with the coastline where the materials can be shipped out of the country.
Both the government and FARC leaders are at a standstill currently []. Neither force wants to leave before the other does. A FARC leader confirmed that as long as the Colombian military remains near and around the village of Toribio, so will the guerilla group, but if the military forces left, FARC would “have no reason to remain there,” CNN reports.
President Juan Manuel Santos has seen his approval rating drop drastically in the wake of these tensions in the south. Santos had visited the area last week in an attempt to preside over a meeting to consider locals’ demands for their land to be returned and armed forces to leave. CNN reports that he was booed as he walked through one village. The president has stated this week: "As president of all Colombians, I categorically reject this attitude and make an impassioned plea for the end of hostilities… What we are seeing are unacceptable acts that constitute criminal conduct and should be investigated by the authorities."
Unfortunately, Santos’ words only reaffirm the standstill that plagues all of the groups involved. No group has volunteered to back down, which has recently led to force meeting force in an escalation of arms and checkpoints that has caused major injuries and even death in the region.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Threats to the Gorilla Nations [link]

"Gorilla Youngsters Seen Dismantling Poachers' Traps—A First; "Very confident" four-year-olds outsmart hunters and protect their clan"
2012-07-19 by Ker Than from "National Geographic News" []:
Just days after a poacher's snare had killed one of their own, two young mountain gorillas worked together Tuesday to find and destroy traps in their Rwandan forest home, according to conservationists on the scene.
"This is absolutely the first time that we've vseen juveniles doing that ... I don't know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares," said Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund's Karisoke Research Center, located in the reserve where the event took place.
"We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas ... so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that," Vecellio added.
Bush-meat hunters set thousands of rope-and-branch snares in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, where the mountain gorillas live. The traps are intended for antelope and other species but sometimes capture the apes.
Adults are generally strong enough to free themselves. Youngsters aren't always so lucky.
Just last week an ensnared infant named Ngwino, found too late by workers from Karisoke, died of snare-related wounds. Her shoulder had been dislocated during escape attempts, and gangrene had set in after the ropes cut deep into her leg.
The hunters, Vecellio said, seem to have no interest in the gorillas. Even small apes, which would be relatively easy to carry away for sale, are left to die.

Rube Goldberg, Minus the Complexity -
Poachers build the snares by tying a noose to a branch or a bamboo stalk, Vecellio explained.
Using the rope, they pull the branch downward, bending it. They then use a bent stick or rock to hold the noose to the ground, keeping the branch tense. A sprinkling of vegetation camouflages the noose.
When an animal budges the stick or rock, the branch springs upward, closing the noose around the prey. If the creature is light enough, it will actually be hoisted into the air.

Rwema and Dukore Save the Day -
Every day trackers from the Karisoke center comb the forest for snares, dismantling them to protect the endangered mountain gorillas, which the International Fund for Nature (IUCN) says face "a very high risk of extinction in the wild."
On Tuesday tracker John Ndayambaje spotted a trap very close to the Kuryama gorilla clan. He moved in to deactivate the snare, but a silverback named Vubu grunted, cautioning Ndayambaje to stay away, Vecellio said.
Suddenly two juveniles—Rwema, a male; and Dukore, a female; both about four years old—ran toward the trap.
As Ndayambaje and a few tourists watched, Rwema jumped on the bent tree branch and broke it, while Dukore freed the noose.
The pair then spied another snare nearby—one the tracker himself had missed—and raced for it. Joined by a third gorilla, a teenager named Tetero, Rwema and Dukore destroyed that trap as well.

Gorilla Tactics -
The speed with which everything happened makes Vecellio, the gorilla program coordinator, think this wasn't the first time the young gorillas had outsmarted trappers.
"They were very confident," she said. "They saw what they had to do, they did it, and then they left."
Silverbacks in the Kuryama group have occasionally been caught in the snares, so Vecellio thinks the juveniles would have known the traps are dangerous.
"That's why they destroyed them," Vecellio said.

"Quite Ingenious" -
Despite the unprecedented nature of the event, Vecellio said she wasn't surprised by the reports. "But," she said, "I'm always amazed and very proud when we can confirm that they are smart."
Veterinarian Mike Cranfield, executive director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, also said he wasn't shocked by the news.
"Chimpanzees are always quoted as being the tool users, but I think, when the situation provides itself, gorillas are quite ingenious," he said.
Cranfield speculated that the gorillas may have learned how to destroy traps by watching the Karisoke center's trackers.
"If we could get more of them doing it, it would be great," he joked.
Karisoke's Vecellio, though, said actively instructing the apes would be against the center's ethos.
"No we can't teach them," she said. "We try as much as we can to not interfere with the gorillas. We don't want to affect their natural behavior."

Wild gorillas Rwema and Dukore destroy a primitive snare in Rwanda earlier this week.
Photograph courtesy Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
2012-07-19 "Despite Criticism, Atleo Stays As Head for First Nations" by Amy Boughner
Despite those who voiced concerns that Shawn Atleo was granting the Harper government too much leeway, he managed to win the June 18 vote and keep his position as National Chief for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).
Atleo, a hereditary chief of Ahousaht, has held the position of national chief since 2009 and defeated seven challengers in three ballots for his second term.

His challengers accused Atleo of having too cozy a relationship with the Harper government and not challenging their policies enough. Atleo’s supporters say he is acting as an advocate and maintaining a civil relationship rather than being confrontational.
The Harper government has not been good to First Nations communities. The way Aboriginal Affairs Minister dealt with the housing crisis in Attawapiskat was shameful and the refusal of the Prime Minister to visit the community and see for himself the living conditions many of these communities face was a misstep at best.
When the UN rapporteur came to Canada and talked to First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis people about their food insecurity — and received a submission from the AFN — the government managed to totally ignore the issue, instead focusing on the fact that the rapporteur was from Europe and the European Union is moving to ban the import products made from seal skin. It was a totally nonsensical response and the minister didn’t see any particular backlash from Atleo or the AFN, though there was a call for an apology.
Now facing a majority Harper government for the entirety of his new renewed mandate, Atleo may not have a chance to get much of anything out of this Prime Minister, no matter what tactics he decides to use. Government ministers are aware of the potential for skilled labor coming out of reserves where Canada’s youngest population resides. It will be interesting to see if the situation improves in First Nations communities by 2015 and quite a waste if it doesn’t.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Republic of the United states of America

2012-09 "Republic for the united States of America" Minnesota Meet and Greet photo with President Turner and crew! Looks like they were having a great time!

Randi Shannon Letter

2012-07-14 "Iowa GOP State Senate Candidate Joins ‘Alternative’ U.S. Government" by David Taintor
A Republican state Senate candidate in Iowa has decided to bow out of the race and become a U.S. senator of an alternative form of government.
In a letter released Friday, Randi Shannon informs supporters of her new position as “U.S. Senator in the Republic of the United States of America.” You see, according to Shannon, the U.S. government has been acting unlawfully as the “‘official government,’ which clearly it is not!”
The libertarian-leaning group she joined claims it “re-inhabited” the government on March 30, 2010. The group claims the “United States Corporation” unlawfully formed in 1871 without the American people’s consent. “Since 1871, the abuses of this corporation upon both the international community as well as the American people are inestimable and unconscionable,” the group’s website claims [].
In her announcement letter, Shannon outlined her political plans. As someone who home schooled her own children, Shannon supports abolishing the Department of Education. She opposes unnecessary foreign wars. She believes life begins at conception. And she blames government abuse, invasive TSA screenings, “Obamacare,” and the 14th amendment on the corrupt “United States Corporation.”
Shannon did not return TPM’s requests for comment. But she told the Gazette that she knows people will question her move []. “If people think it’s crazy to want to have a constitutional government in place, then so be it,” she told the paper.

2012-07-15 "Iowa GOP Candidate Joins Alternate Reality Government" by Jessica Pieklo
It’s no longer a joke to say members of the hard right live in their own alternate universe.
Iowa Republican state Senate candidate Randi Shannon sent a letter Friday informing supporters of her new position as “U.S. Senator in the Republic of the United States of America.” The group is a libertarian-leaning organization that claims it “re-inhabited” the government on Mary 30, 2010 and apparently Shannon is a member of its Senate.
Her announcement letter also details her platform which includes abolishing the Department of Education, fetal personhood, unnecessary foreign wars, and fighting the corrupt “United States Corporation.” Shannon also opposes the 14th Amendment, and all those that follow, presumably including the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote.
Hard-right secessionists or sovereignists are scattered across the rural heartland, but Shannon seems to be the latest of this political movement going mainstream. Thanks in part to the Ron Paul revolution, we will see more neo-Confederates in the ranks as the party tilts even harder to the right. But at what point will the press start to critically examine a party that has embraced the darkest, most cynical elements of its base and its history? So long as they don’t we’ll continue to see a revival of segregationist policies like voter ID and “papers please” immigration bills dressed up in slightly more polite language.