Brazil: congressional bill would be “unmitigated disaster” for Indians

July 30, 2013

Survival International, 07/30/2013

Brazil’s Congress is currently debating a controversial bill to open up indigenous territories for mining, dams, army bases and other industrial projects. If it becomes law, the bill would be an ‘unmitigated disaster’ for Brazil’s Indians.

Most indigenous peoples rely on their lands to sustain themselves physically and culturally. Uncontacted Indians are particularly vulnerable and without their forests intact, they will not survive.

The Brazilian constitution currently guarantees the Indians’ right to exclusive use of their land, except in extreme circumstances of ‘relevant public interest’.

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Brazil: indian protestors to return to villages

June 12, 2013

Associated Press, 06/12/2013

Brazil’s government says more than 100 protesting Indians are expected to abandon the offices of the federal indigenous affairs agency and return to their villages Wednesday.

The chief administrative officer of the Brazilian presidency says 140 Mundurucu Indians occupied the offices of Funai on Monday to protest the construction of a huge hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rainforest.

Gilberto Carvalho says the government will ask a court to issue an eviction notice if the Indians refuse to leave.

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Brazil “on alert” over an oil spill from Ecuador

June 10, 2013

BBC UK, 06/10/2013

Brazil is “on alert” over an oil spill that originated in Ecuador and is travelling downstream towards the Brazilian Amazon.

In a statement, the Brazilian foreign ministry said the navy and other agencies had been informed, and help was offered to Ecuador and Peru.

Last month, an estimated 11,480 barrels of oil leaked from a damaged pipeline into the River Coca in Ecuador.

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Amazon.com to battle governments of Brazil and Peru for the .Amazon domain

April 26, 2013

POPSCI, 04/26/2013

In 2011, ICANN, the organization in charge of the internet’s domain names,decided to open up the field and expand the list of domains from the typical .com, .net, and country codes out to, well, pretty much anything. We knew we’d see some battles over the new domains, but one of the first is an interesting case: .amazon.

Web and content giant Amazon has been making big moves lately, moving into original content with its own version of television pilot season as well as a persistent rumor that the company is working on its own set-top box to compete with Roku, Apple TV, and Xbox. And Amazon has already attempted to get generic domains like .book and .author (which hasn’t sat well with book publishers). So it makes sense that the company would want to lock down its domain future with the .amazon domain; it’d be convenient to go to tv.amazon or store.amazon or kindle.amazon, and Amazon certainly doesn’t want some other company to snap it up and confuse people.

But what if the competition for the domain isn’t a company, but a coalition of governments?

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Researchers discuss details of the project on evolution of the Amazonian biota

March 7, 2013

Frances Jones – Agência FAPESP, 03/06/2013

Nearly 30 Brazilian and foreign specialists from various fields that range from botany and geology to paleontology and remote sensing took part in the first face-to-face meeting among members of a thematic project that will study what happened in the Amazon in the last 20 million years.

The project is supported by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) within the framework of an agreement that entails collaboration between the Biota-FAPESP and Dimensions of Biodiversity programs. The study will also have the support of the US space agency NASA.

“This bold and immense research study is an opportunity to do something that few are able to do,” stated Joel Cracraft of the American Museum of Natural History, the project’s lead researcher on the U.S. side, before an audience of 260 at the opening of the symposium entitled “The assembly and evolution of the Amazonian biota and its environment,” held at FAPESP headquarters in São Paulo.

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Brazil’s hydroelectric dam boom is bringing tensions as well as energy

February 12, 2013

Juan Forero – The Guardian, 02/12/2013

When it is completed in 2015, the Jirau hydroelectric dam will span 8km across the Madeira river and feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world. Then there are the power lines, draped along 2,250km of forests and fields to carry electricity to Brazil‘s urban nerve centre, São Paulo.

Still, it won’t be enough. The dam and the Santo Antonio complex that is being built a few kilometres downstream will provide just 5% of what government energy planners say the country will need in the next 10 years. So Brazil is building many more dams, courting controversy by locating the vast majority in the world’s largest and most biodiverse forest.

“The investment to build these plants is very high, and they are to be put in a region which is an icon for environmental preservation, the Amazon,” said Paulo Domingues, energy planning director for the ministry of mines and energy. “So that has worldwide repercussions.”

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Research In The Brazilian Rain Forest

August 14, 2012

Red Orbit, 8/14/2012

Slash and burn practice for centuries as source of stable carbon compounds in the oceans

Until recent decades the Atlantic Rainforest covered a large area of today’s Brazil from Amazonas to present-day Argentina. In the 1970s, after years of deforestation, this rain forest was almost completely destroyed, mainly replaced by cattle pastures. This study reveals an unexpected aspect of deforestation. Thorsten Dittmar’s team and colleagues from Brazil and the USA show that the common practice of slash and burn left huge amounts of charcoal in the soil. This charcoal is washed out by rainfalls and transported by rivers into the Atlantic Ocean. The soluble fraction of charcoal is composed of extremely stable carbon compounds. The authors conclude that the amounts of these compounds dissolved in the ocean will increase due to human civilization. So far, the effects on marine microorganisms and the global carbon cycle are unknown.

Since way back mankind used fire to shape Earth’s vegetation. This was common practice in the 16th century when European settlers came to Brazil, and the beginning of the end of the rain forest. Slash and burn during the centuries reduced its size of 1.3 million to a mere 100,000 square kilometers. What was left was 200-500 millions tons of charred carbon in the soils. These remnants are complex and extremely stable carbon compounds. During the rainy seasons the water elutes the soluble fractions and transports the carbon to the Atlantic Ocean, affecting biogeochemical cycles for centuries and millennia.

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High school students explore Amazon, Brazilian tribes

August 7, 2012

Lindsey Anderson – Boston Globe, 8/7/2012

Fishing for dinner in a river full of stingrays. Celebrating a maturation ceremony with an indigenous tribe. Witnessing Brazil’s land struggles firsthand.

Eight Massachusetts high school students returned to the United States Monday with unique stories to tell after spending two weeks in the ­Amazon.

The Wilbraham & Monson Academy students and their chaperones studied conservation, land issues, and two indigenous tribes in western Mato Grosso state, as well as how to catch dinner while avoiding stingrays, piranhas, and ­anacondas.

‘‘If you shuffle your feet, [the stingrays] go away, but I just screamed and ran away,’’ 16-year-old Jessica Smith said via phone from Pirenopolis, Brazil, on Friday.

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Brazil questions sale of Amazon land rights to Irish firm

March 13, 2012

EFE/Fox Latino, 03/12/2012

The Mundurucu Indians have sold their rights to 23,000 sq. kilometers (8,880 sq. miles) of land in the Brazilian Amazon to the Irish company Celestial Green Ventures, one of the world’s leading firms in the world carbon-credits market, the press reported.

The $120 million deal was not approved by the entire tribe and is being investigated by the government, which questions the validity of the 30-year contract that bars the indigenous community from legally logging or growing crops in its territory, the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.

The land is in the Jacareacanga municipality in the northern state of Para, and authorities fear that this surrender of land rights will endanger biodiversity and the development of the Indian community, the paper said after its staff was allowed to study the contract.

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Amazon defenders face death or exile

February 13, 2012

Tom Phillips – The Guardian, 02/12/2012

A logging truck enters a deforested area on the outskirts of Novo Progresso, Brazil. Photograph: Rodrigo Baleia/LatinContent/Getty Images

A single shot to the temple was Mouth Organ John’s reward for spilling the beans. His friend, Junior José Guerra, fared only marginally better.

Guerra’s prize for speaking out against the illegal loggers laying waste to the greatest tropical rainforest on Earth? A broken home, two petrified children and an uncertain exile from a life he had spent years building in the Brazilian Amazon.

“I can’t go back,” said Guerra, one of the Amazon’s newest environmental refugees, three months after his friend’s brutal murder forced him, his wife and his two children into hiding. “We’ve been told that they are trying to find out where I am. The situation is very complicated.”

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