Archive | March, 2012

Endangered Hawai’i Film Depicts Bird Extinction Crisis In Hawai’i

19 Mar

cross-posted from American Bird Conservatory

(Washington, D.C. , March 16, 2012) A new 30-minute film, narrated by actor Richard Chamberlain, explores the on-going bird extinction crisis in Hawai’i that has led to about 70 percent of all native bird species in the state becoming extinct.

The film, Endangered Hawai’i, was produced by American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation organization, with funding by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It is being premiered at the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, March 24 (at 12:30 and 2:00 p.m.) at the National Wildlife Visitor Center in Laurel, Maryland.

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Judi Bari documentary at film festival

18 Mar

Earth First! activist Judi Bari in Highland Hospital, Oakland, CA, just after the May 24, 1990, bombing in which Bari was severely injured by a pipe bomb in her car as she and fellow Earth First! member Darryl Cherney traveled through Oakland. From the film "Who Bombed Judi Bari."

Documentary on Judi Bari gets some coverage. For full article visit here


One Indigenous Among Three Killed in Peru’s March 14 Protests

18 Mar

Police officers and miners clash during a protest in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Thousands of illegal gold miners battled police for control of a regional capital in the Amazon basin on Wednesday and at least three people were killed by gunfire. The miners are fighting government efforts to regulate small-scale gold extraction, which is ravaging the rain forest, contaminating it with tons of mercury.

[EF! Newswire note: The politics behind this story are tricky. We suggest reading more background on recent mining struggles to get a clearer picture of the context in which these protests have occurred.]

A Shipibo man was one of three people killed March 14 in Puerto Maldonado, in Peru’s southeastern Amazon region, during a protest against new laws designed to control wildcat gold mining in the country’s Madre de Dios region.

Francisco Areque, 38, of the San José de Karene community in the Manú province, died shortly after 1 p.m. on March 14. Reports said he was shot, but his brother, Marco Areque, said that the official autopsy report was inconclusive.

Marco Areque said his brother’s widow, Natalia Omnia, a Harakmbut, told him she and her husband were sitting with a group of demonstrators in a town square when about 20 police approached. The group scattered, and when Francisco turned around, he was struck in the face and collapsed.

He was to be buried March 15.

Ten communities belonging to the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and its Tributaries (Federación Nativa del Río Madre de Dios y Afluentes, FENAMAD) are participating in the protests. The demonstrations began March 5, shutting down commerce in Puerto Maldonado, and became violent after talks with government officials broke down on March 12.

Officials estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 miners had joined the protests in Puerto Maldonado by March 14, when protesters tried to take over the airport and the main market. Eyewitnesses reported hearing gunfire.

The miners oppose a series of new laws designed to crack down on “informal” mining – claims where the miners lack authorization from environmental authorities and generally fail to comply with labor, occupational safety and health, and environmental standards. The new decrees make mining without proper authorization a criminal offense punishable by a prison term.

They also define an area, generally along the Madre de Dios River, where mining would be permitted, and prohibit it in other areas, especially the buffer zone of the Tambopata Natural Reserve, where thousands of miners began working last year.

FENAMAD representatives participating in talks with miners’ associations and government officials on March 12 stayed at the table even after the miners walked out, but then rejoined the protest. The group is seeking a special exemption that would allow communities to mine gold on their own lands.

To read full article go to source as cross-posted from here

Justin Solondz Sentenced to 7 Years

16 Mar

Cross Posted from The Seattle Times

Justin Solondz, 32, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to seven years in prison for his role in the 2001 arson at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. Damage in the fire was estimated at more than $6 million.

Solondz  pleaded guilty in December to charges of conspiracy and arson under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, who agreed to recommend the seven-year prison sentence. The defense also sought a seven-year term.

A former student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Solondz was arrested last July 6 in Chicago after his expulsion from China, where he had been serving a prison term for selling drugs.

Prosecutors said that Solondz built a firebomb in a “clean room” behind a home in Olympia, transported it to Seattle and served as the getaway driver the night of the arson.

The firebomb was planted in the office of UW professor Toby Bradshaw at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Bradshaw was targeted because the arsonists wrongly believed he was genetically engineering trees. [See correction in comments below.]

Damage from the arson was estimated at more than $6 million.

Last June, Solondz’s former girlfriend, Briana Waters, pleaded guilty to charges of arson, conspiracy to use a destructive device, possessing an unregistered destructive device and the use of an explosive device in a crime of violence in connection with the arson.

Two other women, Lacey Phillabaum and Jennifer Kolar, pleaded guilty to the UW arson and were sentenced to three and five years, respectively.

Also charged in the UW arson was William C. Rodgers, who committed suicide in an Arizona jail in December 2005.

Solondz was indicted in Washington state and California in 2006. The FBI issued a $50,000 reward in late 2008 for information leading to his arrest. At the time, the FBI said he might be in Canada, Europe or Asia.

He surfaced in Dali, a Chinese city popular with Western tourists, using a phony Canadian identification and an altered appearance. He was arrested in a drug investigation in March 2009 and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Chevron Spying on Ecuadorian Activists

16 Mar

Photos from the Huffington Post

Cross Posted from Chevron Toxico

New York, NY – Facing increased financial risk in Latin America, Chevron has launched a corporate espionage campaign designed to intimidate and track the whereabouts of the lead lawyers who recently won an $18 billion judgment for environmental damage against the oil giant in Ecuador’s courts, said the Amazon Defense Coalition.

The purpose of the espionage campaign – being carried out by at least four different investigation firms working for Chevron in the United States and Latin America – is partly to threaten the legal team and partly to obtain confidential information about the strategy of the rainforest communities as they prepare to file collection actions against the oil giant’s assets around the world, said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorians.

Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the rainforest communities in Ecuador and himself a target of the campaign, issued an urgent call to human rights organizations and governments worldwide to protect the lawyers and other advocates working on the case.

“Evidence is mounting that the lives and well-being of those working on the case are under an orchestrated attack from Chevron,” said Fajardo. “We are urgently calling on all people of conscience to protect the right of the rainforest communities devastated by Chevron’s contamination to continue to pursue their legal claims free from threats and intimidation.”

A court in February of 2011 found Chevron dumped billions of gallons of toxic water of formation throughout an area the size of Rhode Island, decimating indigenous groups and causing an outbreak of cancer that threatens thousands of lives. See here and here.

The discovery of the spying operation comes at a delicate time for Chevron CEO John Watson and the company’s star General Counsel, former Bush Administration official, R. Hewitt Pate. Not only is Chevron facing the large liability in Ecuador for what experts consider to be one of the world’s worst environmental disasters, but also Brazil’s government recently sued the company for $11 billion over an offshore oil spill earlier this year.

Click here for the rest of the article

Grey Wolf Hunts In Northern Rockies To Continue, Rules Federal Appeals Court

15 Mar

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a lawsuit from conservation groups that want to block wolf hunts that have killed more than 500 of the predators across the Northern Rockies in recent months.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Congress had the right to intervene when it stripped protections from wolves last spring.

Lawmakers stepped in after court rulings kept wolves on the endangered list for years after they reached recovery goals. Wildlife advocates claimed in their lawsuit that Congress violated the separation of powers by interfering with the courts.

But in an opinion authored by Judge Mary Schroeder, the court said Congress was within its rights, and that lawmakers had appropriately amended the Endangered Species Act to deal with Northern Rockies wolves.

That amendment marked the first time Congress has forcibly removed a species’ endangered status. It was tacked onto a federal budget bill by Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson and Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

“This case has made it clear that those who persist in trying to manage wildlife through the courts, in spite of all scientific evidence that this species has recovered, no longer have a defensible position,” Simpson said Wednesday.

Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that sued to restore protections, said a Supreme Court appeal was possible but no decision had been made.

“We’re very disappointed and very saddened,” Robinson said. “Hundreds of wolves have been hunted and trapped and snared, and they are essential to their ecosystem.”

He called the congressional budget bill rider that lifted protections “undemocratic” and said that it set a precedent for future political meddling with imperiled wildlife.

Reposted from Huffington Press 

Peru Mining Protest Turns Deadly in Puerto Maldonado

15 Mar

Andean people protest against Newmont Mining's Conga gold project during a march near the Cortada lagoon at Peru's region of Cajamarca, November 24, 2011.

[EF! Newswire note: the politics behind this story are tricky. We suggest reading more background on recent mining struggles to get a clearer picture of the context in which these protests have occurred.]

Peruvian protests against government plans to regulate small-scale mining left at least three dead and 50 wounded in the southern Amazon jungle today, the government said.

The miners are protesting against tougher penalties for illegal mining.

Local officials said police were far outnumbered by the protesters, who are trying to take control of the airport at the city of Puerto Maldonado.

The miners say the new rules will put them out of work, but the government says the sanctions will encourage miners to get the necessary permits.

An estimated 50,000 miners do not have a licence to operate.

Poisoned rivers

The government says large areas of jungle have been destroyed by illegal mining and large portions of the area’s waterways show high levels of mercury, used in the mining operations.

Officials say they want the miners to obtain the correct permits and to abide by environmental rules, but the protesters accuse the government of wanting to hand over mining concessions only to large multinational companies.

The latest protests erupted after talks between the government and the miners broke down on Tuesday.

Regional officials said more than 10,000 miners tried to seize government buildings, markets and the airport in Puerto Maldonado.

Regional President Luis Aguirre described the situation as “untenable”. “You can hear gunshots throughout the entire city,” he said.

Police have asked for reinforcements as 700 officers were outnumbered by more than 10,000 protesters.

Informal miners also held protests in two other regions, in Piura in Peru’s northwest and in Puno in the southern highlands bordering Bolivia.

Peru is one of the world’s major gold producers and high prices have sparked a boom in recent years.

The government has urged the miners to return to the negotiating table for more talks scheduled for Friday, but it is not clear so far if the miners will attend.

Reposted from BBC News


FBI Reveals Surveillance of Crusties, Farmers Markets, and Hikers

14 Mar


In a new release of internal documents, the FBI has exposed surveillance activity conducted during the early-mid 2000s in the Pacific Northwest. Concentrated in and around Portland and Eugene, Oregon, the activity revealed such crack FBI activity as tailing a random subaru into the suburbs, surveilling a grower’s market, and monitoring the Cascadia Forest Defenders’ nature walks.

Click here for the full article

100 Groups Ask EPA to End Wildlife Poisoning From Lead Hunting Ammunition

13 Mar

Lead Kills Millions of Birds, Including Eagles, Condors, and Hurts Human Health

WASHINGTON- One hundred organizations in 35 states today formally petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic lead in hunting ammunition to protect public health and prevent the widespread poisoning of eagles, California condors and other wildlife. Up to 20 million birds die each year from lead poisoning after consuming spent lead shot and bullet fragments left in the wild from hunting.

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Giraffe Death at Nightmare Zoo

13 Mar

article cross-posted from Kitsap Sun

In this Sunday, March 11, 2012 photo, activists hold placards during a protest against the use of plastic bags, locally known as 'kresek' following the death of a giraffe who ingested pounds of plastic food wrappers at Surabaya Zoo in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia. Indonesia's biggest zoo, once boasting one of the most impressive and well cared for collections of animals in Southeast Asia, is struggling for its existence following reports of suspicious animal deaths and disappearances of endangered species. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

SURABAYA, Indonesia (AP) — The tigers are emaciated and the 180 pelicans packed so tightly they cannot unfurl their wings without hitting a neighbor. Last week, a giraffe died with a beachball-sized wad of plastic food wrappers in its belly.

That death has focused new attention on the scandalous conditions at Indonesia’s largest zoo. Set up nearly a century ago in one the most biologically diverse corners of the planet, it once boasted the most impressive collection in Southeast Asia.

But today the Surabaya Zoo is a nightmare, plagued by uncontrolled breeding, a lack of funding for general animal welfare and even persistent suspicions that members of its own staff are involved in illegal wildlife trafficking.

Incredibly rare species, including Komodo dragons and critically endangered orangutans, sit in dank, unsanitary cages, filling up on peanuts tossed over the fence by giggling visitors.

“This is extremely tragic, but of course by no means surprising in Indonesia’s zoos, given the appalling way they are managed on the whole,” said Ian Singleton, a former zookeeper who now runs an orangutan conservation program on Sumatra island.

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