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Judi Lynn

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Curiosity saves the cat: How tourist interest in spotting jaguars could help preserve the species

Curiosity saves the cat: How tourist interest in spotting jaguars could help preserve the species

A recent study found that the value of jaguars to tourism was far in excess of the cost to ranchers from depredation of their cattle.

skeeze/via Pixabay [Licensed under CC BY CC0]

Sep 17, 2017 · 09:30 pm
Jack Elliot Marley

From villain to hero, the jaguar (Panthera onca) stands at the cusp of a radical overhaul in its public image. As the largest cat in the Americas, the species commands a dominant role in the food chain of its native Pantanal – a vast swathe of tropical wetland that encompasses parts of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. Once hunted for its fur, the jaguar’s appetite for the abundant prey in the Pantanal has led it into deadly conflict with ranchers in recent decades, casting it as the stalking menace of livestock and livelihood in a region where much of the land is reserved for cattle rearing. However, in a hopeful development for conservationists, researchers have revealed in a new study published in Global Ecology and Conservation that jaguars are worth 60 times more to tourism than the cost the big cats inflict on ranchers.

“The study represents a regional reality in the Pantanal,” said Fernando Tortato, research fellow at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation group that helped lead the study. “Where the jaguar brings in far more revenue than the potential damage it can cause.”

Jaguars once abounded from the southwestern US to Argentina, but their numbers have fallen due to hunting and habitat loss. In the Amazon rainforest, deforestation is an ongoing threat, even while the dense foliage often precludes human encounters with jaguars. In the absence of benign tourism opportunities there is demand for jaguar teeth, paws and claws as souvenirs.

The jaguar’s predilection for lush and low-lying forest makes the Pantanal a stronghold for the species. But wetland’s web-like tributaries also open the wild cat’s home to human exploration, allowing tourists to share in their company.


Thousands of Haitians find 'Mexican dream' near US border

Elliot Spagat, Associated Press
Updated 2:55 pm, Tuesday, September 19, 2017

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Jose Luis Millan found a new crop of star employees at an upscale Tijuana car wash where customers cross the border from the U.S. to pay up to $950 to have their prized possessions steamed and scrubbed for hours. They're never late, always hustle and come in on days off to learn new skills, traits that he says make them a model for their Mexican counterparts.
They are among several thousand Haitians who came to Mexico's northwest corner hoping to cross the border before the U.S. abruptly closed its doors last year. The Mexican government has welcomed them, with a visa program that helps them fill the need for labor in Tijuana's growing economy.

In a country whose population is 1 percent black, Tijuana's Haitians stand out. They share tight living quarters, sending much of their meager wages to support family in Haiti. Haitians earn far less than they would in the United States but enough to forsake the risk of getting deported by heading north.
Two new Haitian restaurants downtown serve dishes with mangoes and mashed plantains. Dozens of Haitian children attend public schools. Factories that export to the U.S. recruit Haitians, who can also be found waiting tables and worshipping at congregations that added services in Creole.


The ones who swagger dont last as long: Jane Goodall doubles down on Trump-chimp comparison

18 SEP 2017 AT 16:00 ET

amed primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall has once again compared President Donald Trump to a chimp in a new Jezebel interview.

“It’s certainly true,” Goodall told Jezebel. “When chimps are competing for dominance, they do a lot of blustering, swaggering, and intimidation.”

Almost exactly a year ago, Goodall told The Atlantic that then-candidate Trump’s debate style reminded her of “dominance rituals” performed by chimps.

“In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks,” she told The Atlantic last September. “In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance ritual.”


Pic of Cubans at dominoes in Irma floodwaters sparks debate

Michael Weissenstein and Andrea Rodriguez, Associated Press
Updated 1:36 pm, Friday, September 15, 2017

HAVANA (AP) — As Hurricane Irma flooded the working-class neighborhoods behind Havana's seaside Malecon, a photographer for the Cuban Communist Party newspaper watched two men pulling broken furniture out of the calf-high water.

Nearby four others sat on plastic chairs playing dominoes in the filthy water, which reached halfway up their legs to a makeshift wooden table balanced on their knees. Juvenal Balan snapped a photo and posted it online with a comment declaring it "incredible" that the four were playing while "others work together to mitigate the damage."
Then, something unexpected happened. The photo went viral and ignited a furious and complicated debate about the state of Cuban society.

Many on the island and in Cuba's sprawling international diaspora saw Sunday's scene as a textbook example of "social indiscipline," a commonly heard phrase in the country that's used to bemoan the flouting of prized civic values like cleanliness, politeness and helping one's neighbors. But for others the photo symbolized another, equally Cuban quality: good-humored resilience in the face of difficulty, even disaster.


Trump quietly extends Cuba trading with the enemy embargo just as Irma pummels island

09 SEP 2017 AT 09:20 ET

In a late Friday news dump, President Donald Trump issued a memorandum announcing the extension of the trade embargo against Cuba for another year just as Hurricane Irma was headed to pummel the island nation.

The White House issued the presidential memorandum Friday, under the Trading with the Enemy Act on Cuba, extending it until September 14, 2018.


Colombias transitional justice system possibly bribed by paramilitary chiefs

written by Stephen Gill September 11, 2017

Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating suspicions that demobilized paramilitary commanders bribed the transitional justice system that was supposed to try their crimes, newspaper El Tiempo reported.

According to the daily, paramilitary commanders “El Mellizo” and “Diego Vecino” had received judicial benefits that could’ve been the result of bribery.

The country’s top prosecution office began investigations into the country’s justice system after receiving audio in which its own top anti-corruption chief appeared to be conspiring with Supreme Court judges to fix rulings.

. . .

One of the prosecutors investigating the suspicions told El Tiempo that the possible compromise of the transitional justice system was “serious” and could amplify to include other court decisions that ended up favoring paramilitary war lords.


Uribes 1st intelligence chief convicted for setting up illegal wiretap operation

written by Adriaan Alsema September 12, 2017

Colombia’s Supreme Court on Monday convicted former President Alvaro Uribe‘s initial intelligence chief for setting up an illegal spy unit that would eventually wiretap the court, journalists and human rights defenders.

The court additionally ordered the investigation of the former president, who has seen three of his four former intelligence chiefs disappear behind bars because of the illegal spying practices by now-defunct intelligence agency DAS.

The first of Uribe’s intelligence chiefs, Jorge Noguera, is already serving a 25-year prison sentence for other crimes, but was called to trial again for spying on now-House Representative Alirio Uribe and journalist Claudia Duque.

. . .

Both Noguera and Narvaez at the time made the connection between the Uribe administration and the AUC, the paramilitary umbrella group Uribe allegedly colluded with.


Forgotten El Salvador, Again


If you go to the room on the second floor of The Crimson, fondly called the Sanctum, you’ll find our archives. Decades worth of the daily print version of the newspaper line the walls of the room. Critical moments in which Americans learned to understand themselves are immortalized in its pages: South African divestment, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq. But among the pages and pages of thin newspaper paper, one story has been remembered in the archives and forgotten by American memory.

Last week, I opened one of these bound books to find a story from December 14, 1981. It spread across an entire page of the paper, included two photographs, and had the glaring headline: Forgotten El Salvador. It rebuked the American public for ignoring the escalating state violence against Salvadoran citizens, even though Americans had just held protests in response to the killing of an American missionary and three American nuns by the Salvadoran National Guard just a year before. As the article claims, “It is an old axiom that only the threat of American deaths will arouse American concern; El Salvador seems a case in point.”

What the Crimson editor who wrote 35 years before me might have guessed, but couldn’t have known for sure, is that America would continue to forget El Salvador. The Reagan Administration continued funneling hundreds of millions of dollars towards a repressive El Salvadoran government that killed over 1,000 peasants in a single day in 1981, a fact that the Salvadoran Ambassador in Washington then falsely denied.

The final death toll of the conflict was over 750,000 Salvadoran men, women, and children and millions more displaced. Despite its heavy involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War, the United States government has not apologized for training murderers, and the American public has largely forgotten its repulsive involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War.


No question: my Virginia town's 'slave block' should be removed from our sight

Mia Mullane
In Fredericksburg, Virginia, there sits a pre-civil war slave auction block. It’s upsetting to black and white residents – and it should be in a museum

Saturday 9 September 2017 08.00 EDT

As hurricanes ravage large parts of the US, another kind of tempest continues in my hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia, over whether to move a pre-civil war slave auction block from a prominent historic district corner to be housed at the local museum.

I signed the petition to remove the now infamous slave auction block and was surprised to see the local political controversy elevated to the world stage in last week’s article, penned by fellow Fredericksburg native David Caprara. To put it frankly, I believe Caprara buried the lede.

The crux of this issue is that tourists perform mock slave auctions atop this block, or otherwise disrespect it by sitting on it, standing on it, and taking smiling pictures of their family with it. It’s upsetting – to black and white residents alike. In the words of Chuck Frye Jr, Fredericksburg’s only black city councilman and a strong proponent of the auction block’s removal: “If it weren’t there, this wouldn’t be happening. It’s that simple.”

One solution might be to cordon off the block to visitors while providing more contextual signage – the current sign says nothing of the slave families who were brutally ripped apart there. However, it’s the block’s location – mock auctions or not – that many find distressing. Several friends have told me they’d like to feel free to take their families out for pizza, or just go for a walk to the corner coffee shop, without being confronted with a visual reminder of the atrocities committed against their ancestors. At a recent city council meeting, Faith Childress said she has friends who avoid William Street altogether.


Sonic Attack on the U.S. Embassy Likely Psychological

Claims of an ‘acoustic wave’ attack by Cuba, sound fishy
Posted Sep 05, 2017

Be very skeptical over claims of a mysterious ‘sonic wave’ attack on U.S. Embassy personnel in Havana. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and so far, the American government has failed to provide any concrete evidence. Cuba has vehemently denied engaging in any such attack, calling it baseless and ridiculous. Based on the scant information that has been disclosed thus far, it is very possible that the symptoms are psychogenic in nature, as most of the complaints are headaches and dizziness. The claims do not make logical sense. For instance, an acoustical device generating inaudible sounds, cannot damage a person’s hearing. The most serious case is described as “mild traumatic brain injury” and could be entirely unrelated. Furthermore, what exactly does this diagnosis mean? It is very, very vague.

There have been many documented cases in the mass hysteria literature of so-called ‘sick buildings’ that have supposedly caused outbreaks of illness, that turn out to be psychological. The human mind can play tricks on itself, especially in the wake of rumors and conspiracy claims. For instance, shortly after the anthrax mail attacks attributed to possible terrorists during the fall of 2001, the U.S. Postal Service began to irradiate mail to kill any biological agents sent through the mail. Soon dozens of workers at the irradiation centers reported feeling unwell and blaming their symptoms on the machines. Yet the irradiation of medical supplies had been going on for over a decade, without any reports of adverse effects. Irradiating mail produces no residual radiation, but the perception was that it was radioactive.

More recently, some schools have removed Wi-Fi after complaints by parents that it was generating symptoms like headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Wind turbines have been blamed for everything from dizziness to headaches and tinnitus. Hearing problems, headaches and lightheadedness have been associated with many cases of mass psychogenic illness.

The likelihood of mass hysteria is certainly in possible. If it is the culprit, what could have triggered such an outbreak? There is a long Cold War history of Cuban agents harassing American Embassy personnel in Havana. Many of these stories have been exaggerated and become part of American military folklore. This could have given rise to the expectation that similar shenanigans are happening again now that the U.S. has re-opened diplomatic relations with Cuba. It is also worth noting that the symptoms were not officially noticed until February 2017, after the Trump administration took office – an administration that is prone to creating conspiracy theories with little supporting evidence, such as the recent announcement by the Justice Department which said that claims Barack Obama had ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower, were unfounded.


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