Friday, October 13, 2006

Homophobic Bigots on Parade

Most distasteful, really:
Far right religious groups will attempt to unify their base Sunday in what is being described by foes as a gay-baiting to get out the vote.

Called "Liberty Sunday" it is patterned after similar events just prior to the elections in 2000 and 2004. But this time conservatives are concerned that evangelical Christians, considered the core of the Republican Party, may stay home on election day to show their disgust over the GOP handing of the Mark Foley affair.

Liberty Sunday this year will originate in Boston at the Tremont Temple Baptist Church and be broadcast by satellite to churches across the country. The list of speakers reads like a who's who of gay foes. It includes Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, Alan Chambers, President of the so-called ex gay group Exodus International, and video cutins from James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer from American Values, Alan Sears of the Alliance Defense Fund and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association.

It will also include a video presentation by Mitt Romney the governor of Massachusetts.


Oh, Please, Not Again

Is O'Reilly so pathetic that he's going to resort to the "War on Christmas" every year as a desperate measure to increase his ratings?

Sadly, yes (See the video here):

Bill O'Reilly tells the audience that he fears gains by progressives could mean "no more Christmas."

Secular progressives, O'Reilly claims, want "No more Christmas, no pledge of allegiance to God. No more Christmas – 'this is pulling us down, because it's too judgmental.'"



Blasts from the past.


Least Desirable Job in the World

Picking up trash in Iraq:
Sabah al-Atia sometimes calls home every 10 minutes when he is working to let his wife know he is still alive. After all, his job is one of the most dangerous in the city.

Mr. Atia is a trash collector.

In a city where a bomb could be lurking beneath any heap of refuse, and where insurgents are willing to kill to prevent them from being discovered, an occupation that pays only a few dollars a day has become one of the deadliest. Most of the 500 municipal workers who have been killed here since 2005 have been trash collectors, said Naeem al-Kaabi, the city’s deputy mayor.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Rove Insisted That the Pedophile Run for Office

Once again, power is all that matters to these people. There is no morality:

It seems increasingly clear that the GOP congressional leadership, eager for every safe incumbent in the House to run for re-election, looked the other way as evidence accumulated that Mark Foley had a thing for pages. Holding onto his seat became more important than confronting him over his extracurricular activities.

But there's more to the story of why Foley stood for re-election this year. Yesterday, a source close to Foley explained to THE NEW REPUBLIC that in early 2006 the congressman had all but decided to retire from the House and set up shop on K Street. "Mark's a friend of mine," says this source. "He told me, 'I'm thinking about getting out of it and becoming a lobbyist.'"

But when Foley's friend saw the Congressman again this spring, something had changed. To the source's surprise, Foley told him he would indeed be standing for re-election. What happened? Karl Rove intervened.

According to the source, Foley said he was being pressured by "the White House and Rove gang," who insisted that Foley run. If he didn't, Foley was told, it might impact his lobbying career.


Life in Prison, Please

Put this monster away:

A 46 year old man faces a life sentence for the murder of a woman who broke up with him after coming out as a lesbian.

At his trial the court was told that Queen was likely still alive as Seaton began sawing off her head in a frenzied fit. Her blood soaked body was discovered wrapped in a sheet on a quiet North London street last November.

On the witness stand pathologist Dr Vesna Djurovic testified that Queen had suffered dozens of injuries before she died.


Cashing In

No profit left behind by Neil Bush. Public education has gone to the dogs. Or, rather, to the COWs:
Across the country, some teachers complain that President George W. Bush's makeover of public education promotes "teaching to the test." The President's younger brother Neil takes a different tack: He's selling to the test. The No Child Left Behind Act compels schools to prove students' mastery of certain facts by means of standardized exams. Pressure to perform has energized the $1.9 billion-a-year instructional software industry.

Now, after five years of development and backing by investors like Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and onetime junk-bond king Michael R. Milken, Neil Bush aims to roll his high-tech teacher's helpers into classrooms nationwide. He calls them "curriculum on wheels," or COWs. The $3,800 purple plug-and-play computer/projectors display lively videos and cartoons: the XYZ Affair of the late 1790s as operetta, the 1828 Tariff of Abominations as horror flick. The device plays songs that are supposed to aid the memorization of the 22 rivers of Texas or other facts that might crop up in state tests of "essential knowledge."

Bush's Ignite! Inc. has sold 1,700 COWs since 2005, mainly in Texas, where Bush lives and his brother was once governor.


Big Fat America

We're about to hit 300 million, but we consume enough that you'd think we're as heavily populated as India:

If all goes according to plan, next Tuesday you should take a minute out of your busy morning to reflect on the state of affairs in the world's only superpower. Set your watch to beep at 9.01am and 48 seconds.

At that precise moment a baby will be born in Los Angeles to a Mexican mother. The child will enter into relative poverty, but in a way she will be a millionaire - the 300 millionth citizen of the United States of America.

Be afraid, Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly. This milestone baby is going to be Hispanic! And maybe illegal!

Maybe we pull a Herod and just deport all babies born on that day. Just to be on the safe side.


Norwegian Gay Giraffe Porn

The US isn't the only nation to be plagued with fundie Christian whackjobs:
Oslo's internationally acclaimed Natural History Museum is being assailed by Norwegian church groups over an exhibit called "Against Nature" which shows same-sex animal pairs.

The exhibit documents homosexuality among penguins, parrots, giraffes, whales and other animals and insects. A translation from Norwegian into English of a statement at the exhibit says

"We may have opinions on a lot of things, but one thing is clear — homosexuality is found throughout the animal kingdom, it is not against nature."


But conservative Christian groups are accusing the museum of displaying pornography. One evangelical pastor said museum directors should burn in hell.


Marijuana Forests

We're pretty clearly losing the War on Drugs in this instance:

Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet (three metre) high marijuana plants.


Bush's Administration Full of Frauds

Why does this not surprise me?
At least 135 federal employees, including a White House staff member and National Security Agency employees, bought bogus online college degrees from a diploma mill, a lawyer in the case against the mill operators said.


The Entrepreneurial Spirit

These soldiers saw a golden opportunity in Iraq and seized the day. Well done, except for the getting-caught:

Nine British soldiers have been charged with smuggling weapons out of Iraq to trade for drugs and cash, the Ministry of Defence said.

The soldiers, all from the 3rd Battalion of The Yorkshire Regiment, will appear at a hearing at Catterick Garrison on November 30 to determine whether there will be a court-martial.


Men Are the Spawn of Parasites

Very strange:
Keep clear of the cat if you want baby girls. It sounds like the lamest of old wives' tales, but according to scientists women infected with a common cat parasite give birth to more sons than daughters.

The parasite, toxoplasma, infects around 15% of Britons, but up to 80% of the population in some countries. It is spread by contaminated cat faeces, but also lurks in uncooked pork and beef.

Researchers in the Czech Republic collected medical records from 1,803 newborn babies between 1996 and 2004 and checked them for information on the mothers and babies including gender, the number of previous pregnancies, and the mother's levels of toxoplasma antibodies.

They discovered that women whose antibody count was high - suggesting a substantial infection - had a much higher chance of having baby boys. In most populations the birth rate is around 51% boys, but women infected with toxoplasma had up to a 72% chance of a boy.


Just Plain "Goofy"

Yes, it's true. The Bush administration is entirely cynical in its use of evangelicals:
More than five years after President Bush created the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, the former second-in-command of that office is going public with an insider’s tell-all account that portrays an office used almost exclusively to win political points with both evangelical Christians and traditionally Democratic minorities.
Kuo, who has complained publicly in the past about the funding shortfalls, goes several steps further in his new book.

He says some of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders were known in the office of presidential political strategist Karl Rove as “the nuts.”

“National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy,’” Kuo writes.



Wow. The first such charge since WWII:

A U.S. citizen was officially charged with treason on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in California, the first person to be charged with treason against the United States since the World War II era, the Justice Department announced.

Adam Gadahn, also known as Azzam Al-Amriki, was indicted on federal charges of treason and providing material support to al Qaida, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty told a news conference.

"A charge of treason is exceptionally severe and it is not one we bring lightly," he said.

According to the indictment, Gadahn appeared in a series of al Qaida videos broadcast in the United States and elsewhere between October 2004 and September 2006.

In the videos, Gadahn acknowledged that he had joined al Qaida and declared "the streets of America shall run red with blood, casualties will be too many to count, and the next wave of attacks may come at any moment," McNulty said.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Working for Justice Is Against the Law

With less than a month until Virginia voters go to the polls to consider an amendment that would ban gay marriage, civil unions and likely domestic partner benefits canvassers going door to door urging people to vote against the measure in the town of Warrenton have been threatened with arrest.

Police officers pointed to a town ordinance meant to control door-to-door salespeople. It does not specifically mention political campaigns, and it is believed candidates running for office have not been threatened.


Cheney: Pathetic Coward

As per usual, the manly men in charge cannot stand to hear one word of criticism, delicate little flowers that they are:
Howards says he was taking two of his kids to their Suzuki piano camp in Beaver Creek, Colorado. They were walking across the outdoor public mall area when all of a sudden he saw Cheney there.

“I didn’t even know he was in town,” Howards says. “He was walking through the area shaking hands. Initially, I walked past him. Then I said to myself, ‘I can’t in good conscience let this opportunity pass by.’ So I approached him, I got about two feet away, and I said in a very calm tone of voice, ‘Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.’ And then I walked away.”

Howards says he knew the Administration has a “history of making problems” for people who protest its policies, so he wanted to leave off at that.

But the Secret Service did not take kindly to his comment.“About ten minutes later, I came back through the mall with my eight-year-old son in tow,” Howards recalls, “and this Secret Service man came out of the shadows, and his exact words were, ‘Did you assault the Vice President?’ ”

Here’s how Howards says he responded: “No, but I did tell Mr. Cheney the way I felt about the war in Iraq, and if Mr. Cheney wants to be shielded from public criticism, he should avoid public places. If exercising my constitutional rights to free speech is against the law, then you should arrest me.”

Which is just what the agent, Virgil D. “Gus” Reichle Jr, proceeded to do.

“He grabbed me and cuffed my hands behind my back in the presence of my eight-year-old son and told me I was being charged with assault of the Vice President,” Howards recalls.


The House Is Just Like Football

A former House page said he witnessed inappropriate contact between former Republican Congressman Mark Foley and another page in the back of the House floor in early 2001.

The page, Richard Nguyen, a first-year student at the University's Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, said he saw Foley pat a male page's behind.

Foley's attorney did not return calls for comment.

Nguyen said he was not sure during which month the incident took place. He was a page between January and June of 2001.

Nguyen did not report the incident to authorities. At the time, the then-16-year-old thought it was "questionable activity," but he was unsure how to interpret it.

"I wasn't sure if it was a social norm I wasn't accustomed to," Nguyen said. "I mean, you see athletes patting each other's asses all the time on the field."



Escalation continues on the Korean peninsula, one of the worst diplomatic debacles of Bush's administration. And that's saying something:

NORTH KOREA said harsh economic sanctions against it would equal a declaration of war, while across the heavily fortified border, South Korean generals met to discuss military readiness.


Kicking Them When They're Down

What twisted, evil wretch came up with this brilliant plan?
HIV/AIDS groups say hundreds of poorer New Yorkers with AIDS could be forced to live on the streets because of new state regulations.

The state has ordered New York City welfare administrators to hike the rent paid by about 2,200 poor adults with AIDS who live in subsidized housing. Under the new scheme residents will have to fork out more than half their income - all of which comes from federal assistance - to pay rent.

Those affected make up about one-third of those who receive housing services through the HIV/AIDS Services Administration and live on Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance - the federal programs that help the disabled.

Most of them used to be homeless and now live in buildings that offer medical services. But now they could end up back on the streets.


A Huge Advance

Very good news in the fight against AIDS:
Scientists at two American institutions have found a way of replicating the HIV-1 virus ending a scientific conundrum that has slowed research on the virus.

The HIV-1 virus won’t replicate in monkey cells, so researchers use a monkey virus — known as SIVmac, or the macaque version of simian immunodeficiency virus — to test potential therapies and vaccines in animals. But therapies and vaccines that are effective on SIV don’t necessarily translate into human success.

It has been likened to trying to fit the proverbial square peg into the round hole.

Now, using a combination of genetic engineering and forced adaptation, researchers at Rockefeller and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center have created a version of the AIDS virus that replicates vigorously in both human and monkey cells — an advance that the researchers say has the potential to revolutionize vaccine research.


2/3 of a Million

You've got a break a few eggs, right?

A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.

The estimate, produced by interviewing residents during a random sampling of households throughout the country, is far higher than ones produced by other groups, including Iraq's government.

It is more than 20 times the estimate of 30,000 civilian deaths that President Bush gave in a speech in December. It is more than 10 times the estimate of roughly 50,000 civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group.

The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups. In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq's mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war.

Of the total 655,000 estimated "excess deaths," 601,000 resulted from violence and the rest from disease and other causes, according to the study. This is about 500 unexpected violent deaths per day throughout the country.


Birds of a Feather

Hastert is seeking consolation from one twisted fuck:

You're House Speaker Dennis Hastert. You're up to your wattle in the recriminations and repercussions of the Foley page scandal. You probably lost whatever chance you had of keeping your party in the majority. You're trying to save your own skin, much less the skins of your loyal staff, while multiple investigations are digging into your side about who knew what, when, and what they did or didn't do about it.

So you decide to take a meeting with a globe-hopping, PR-happy evangelist who (if accounts can be believed) faked his own leper colony?


According to a June 2006 article from the Houston Press, Paul has plenty of history to be wary of, including:

- claiming another minister's leper colony as his own, and videotaping said lepers for a promotional video

- transporting children in an airplane one former crew member called a "flying death trap"

- leaving a trail of unpaid bills for the plane's fuel and maintenance

- interfering with a murder investigation in India, earning the wrath of that country's National Council of Churches

- fleeing to the United States from India after nine of his American volunteers were arrested and thrown in prison

- abandoning an 11-year-old girl after checking her into a hospital.



Cheery news:
The world's glaciers and ice caps are now in terminal decline because of global warming, scientists have discovered. A survey has revealed that the rate of melting across the world has sharply accelerated in recent years, placing even previously stable glaciers in jeopardy. The loss of glaciers in South America and Asia will threaten the water supplies of millions of people within a few decades, the experts warn.

Georg Kaser, a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, who led the research, said: "The glaciers are going to melt and melt until they are all gone. There are not any glaciers getting bigger any more."


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Kinder, Gentler Army

Again, imagine if this were to happen with Dems in charge. What would the likes of O'Reilly and Limbaugh say?

Hollywood may have to tone down its portrayal of the military's screaming, in-your-face boot camp drill sergeant. In today's Army, shouting is out and a calmer approach to molding young minds is in, says the head of Pentagon personnel. The Army says it has reduced by nearly 7 percent the number of recruits who wash out in the first six to 12 months of military life.


Come Out, Come Out!

Happily, that injunction is less necessary than ever, given how many already have done so:
As schools, colleges and community groups across the country prepare to observe National Coming Out Day on Wednesday two new reports show encouraging signs of LGBT acceptance.

The first report is a national survey that found that seven out of ten heterosexual adults in the United States say that they know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

The online poll, conducted by Harris Interactive in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications, was taken from September 7 to 14 and involved 2,932 adults.

Furthermore, 83 percent of those who self-identify as gay or lesbian consider themselves “out”.

In general, when asked if they considered themselves open about their sexual orientation, 92 percent of gays and lesbians said they are “out” to their close friends and 78 percent said they are "out" to their parents.

Many gays and lesbians also say they are "out" to other relatives such as grandparents or cousins and to co-workers and colleagues.

The second new report provides even further insight into what living openly means to the advancement of equal rights. Not only are more Americans becoming familiar with the lives of GLBT people but as they become more familiar they are more supportive.


Free Time

Looks as though I'll have a lot more of it, since I was just laid off, half an hour ago.

Bolt from the blue.

Still rather numb.


Human Experimentation... in Israel!


Four senior doctors at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot and Hartzfeld Geriatric Hospital in Gedera suspected of illegally experimenting on humans were arrested Monday.

The national fraud squad has opened an investigation into the affair. The four are suspected of abuse, aggravated assault, causing death through negligence, fraud, forgery, breach of statutory duty, and disruption of legal proceedings.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Flunked for Refusing to Learn

Sounds fair enough to me. (And anyway, how is imagining yourself as a straight person in the minority going against any Christian principle at all? That whole argument is senseless.)

(Brisbane, Australia) Evangelicals and conservative politicians are up in arms after a 13-year old girl received a failing grade for refusing to do an assignment on homosexuality.

Students in the grade nine class at a high school south of Brisbane were asked to imagine living as a heterosexual in a mainly gay colony on the moon. The assignment was aimed at teaching students what it is like being in the minority.

The assignment asked the students to consider ten points in writing their term paper, including the origins of homosexuality and what strategies they would use to exists in a mostly gay society.

The 13-year old refused, citing her religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. When she did not turn in a paper she received a failing grade for the course.


Gerald Schoenewolf Should Do Himself (And Us) a Favor...

And just stop talking:
A prominent member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is under fire for publishing an essay in which he argues that Africans were fortunate to have been sold into slavery, and the civil rights movement was "irrational."

"There is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America," writes Gerald Schoenewolf, a member of NARTH's Science Advisory Committee. "Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle... Life there was savage ... and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off."

NARTH is a coalition of psychologists who believe it's possible to "cure" homosexuality, a position rejected by the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association. The controversy over Schoenewolf's apology for slavery has battered the so-called "ex-gay" movement with accusations of racial bigotry for the first time. The movement's leaders and their close allies at Christian Right powerhouses like Focus on the Family have failed to condemn Schoenwolf's inflammatory arguments.


Olbermann Out of Control

And his vitriolic anti-Bush stance is very popular, it seems:

Keith Olbermann's tipping point came on a tarmac in Los Angeles six weeks ago. While waiting for his plane to take off he read an account of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's speech before the American Legion equating Iraq War opponents to pre-World War II appeasers.

The next night, on Aug. 30, Olbermann ended his MSNBC "Countdown" show with a blistering retort, questioning both the interpretation of history and Rumsfeld's very understanding of what it means to be an American.

It was the first of now five extraordinarily harsh anti-Bush commentaries that have made Olbermann the latest media point-person in the nation's political divide.

"As a critic of the administration, I will be damned if you can get away with calling me the equivalent of a Nazi appeaser," Olbermann told The Associated Press. "No one has the right to say that about any free-speaking American in this country."

Since that first commentary, Olbermann's nightly audience has increased 69 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research. This past Monday 834,000 people tuned in, virtually double his season average and more than CNN competitors Paula Zahn and Nancy Grace. Cable kingpin and Olbermann nemesis Bill O'Reilly (two million viewers that night) stands in his way.


Nuclear Korea

Another step has been taken:

North Korea's claim to have successfully carried out a nuclear weapon test underground has sparked international condemnation.

President George W Bush said the US was working to confirm the claim, which he branded a "provocative" act.

He said he and regional leaders agreed North Korea's actions were unacceptable and deserved an immediate response from the United Nations Security Council.

Security Council members are meeting in New York to discuss their reaction.

South Korean media said the test took place in Gilju in Hamgyong province at 1036 (0136 GMT).

But both the US and Japan said they had detected seismic waves. Russia said it was "100% certain" a nuclear test had occurred.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Jeb Bush: In the Closet

While supporting Santorum. Heh:

Protesters greeted Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on his way to a campaign event for a Pennsylvania senator, and he briefly took refuge in a subway station supply closet to avoid the anti-Republican demonstrators.

The president's brother encountered protesters on their way to join a demonstration outside the exclusive Duquesne Club, where Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican, was holding a fundraiser Friday.

Officers used stun guns to subdue two protesters, saying they disobeyed orders to disperse, said Bob Grove, a Port Authority spokesman.

"It was a very tense situation. They were very close to the governor and shouting on top of him," Grove said.

Bush was not injured.

The protesters, made up of members of the United Steelworkers union and the anti-war group Uprise Counter Recruitment, chanted, "Jeb go home," and said Bush blew them a kiss.

Bush, accompanied by a security guard and an aide, retreated into a nearby subway station and was followed by about 50 picketers, said Bob Grove, a Port Authority spokesman.

"(Bush) was quickly getting out of the way and not wanting to engage us," said Jon Vandenburgh, a protester and a researcher for the United Steelworkers.

As a precaution, Bush was ushered into a station supply closet and stayed there until the crowd left.

The incident lasted about five minutes. No one was arrested or cited, Grove said.


The War on Iraq's Women

One more horrific aspect
of our invasion:

They came for Dr Khaula al-Tallal in a white Opel car after she took a taxi home to the middle class district of Qadissiya in Iraq's holy city of Najaf. She worked for the medical committee that examined patients to assess them for welfare benefit. Crucially, however, she was a woman in a country where being a female professional increasingly invites a death sentence.

As al-Tallal, 50, walked towards her house, one of three men in the Opel stepped out and raked her with bullets.

A women's rights campaigner, Umm Salam - a nickname - knows about the three men in the Opel: they tried to kill her on 11 December last year. It was a Sunday, she recalls, and 15 bullets were fired into her own car as she drove home from teaching at an internet cafe. A man in civilian clothes got out of the car and opened fire. Three bullets hit her, one lodging close to her spinal cord. Her 20-year-old son was hit in the chest. Umm Salam saw the gun - a police-issue Glock. She is convinced her would-be assassin works for the state.

The shootings of al-Tallal and Umm Salam are not isolated incidents, even in Najaf - a city almost exclusively Shia and largely insulated from the sectarian violence of the North. Bodies of young women have appeared in its dusty lanes and avenues, places patrolled by packs of dogs where the boundaries bleed into the desert. It is a favourite place for dumping murder victims.

Iraqis do not like to talk about it much, but there is an understanding of what is going on these days. If a young woman is abducted and murdered without a ransom demand, she has been kidnapped to be raped. Even those raped and released are not necessarily safe: the response of some families to finding that a woman has been raped has been to kill her.


Winning = Losing

Winning the case for civil rights equals losing your career, that is:
The Navy lawyer who took the Guantánamo case of Osama bin Laden's driver to the U.S. Supreme Court — and won — has been passed over for promotion by the Pentagon and must soon leave the military.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, said last week he received word he had been denied a promotion to full-blown commander this summer, "about two weeks after" the Supreme Court sided against the White House and with his client, a Yemeni captive at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Under the military's "up-or-out" promotion system, Swift will retire in March or April, closing a 20-year career of military service.


We're Losing

In Iraq, too:

The number of U.S troops wounded in Iraq has surged to its highest monthly level in nearly two years as American GIs fight block-by-block in Baghdad to try to check a spiral of sectarian violence that U.S. commanders warn could lead to civil war.

Last month, 776 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq, the highest number since the military assault to retake the insurgent-held city of Fallujah in November 2004, according to Defense Department data. It was the fourth-highest monthly total since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.


Saving the Kawesqar

Good for Tonko:
A once-nomadic tribe of hunters and fishermen living in the frigid channels near the bottom of the world is nearing extinction.

Down to just 15 full-blooded members, the Kawesqar people could soon go the way of other indigenous tribes in Chile, its language and culture disappearing to all but the history books.

Juan Carlos Tonko, however, is doing all he can to stop the Kawesqar's slow march to oblivion.

Six months ago, the 40-year-old left the comforts of the capital, Santiago, to return to Puerto Eden on Wellington Island in southern Chile and re-embrace the traditions of the people he left 25 years before.

Tonko is the lone Kawesqar of his middle-aged generation to come home, and now considers himself "the transmitter of history" for his tribe.

"I feel that I have a great responsibility," the soft-spoken father of four said during a visit to Santiago with his children's school, a trip that took two days by boat and a third by bus.

With support from the Chilean government, Tonko and a research team are recording the handful of Kawesqar speakers left in Puerto Eden, most of whom are in their 70s and 80s. "The immediacy is urgent," Tonko said.


We're Losing

Not Iraq. Or rather, not just Iraq, but also that other war. Remember it?
NATO's top commander in Afghanistan warned on Sunday that a majority of Afghans would likely switch their allegiance to resurgent Taliban militants if their lives show no visible improvements in the next six months.


But It's Ours!

It's only a matter of time...
A former government adviser has warned it is "only a matter of time" before BP or Shell faces a bid from a Russian state-owned group such as Gazprom which could threaten western oil supplies.

Professor Peter Odell, an energy economist, says ExxonMobil is also vulnerable to a Chinese takeover as the large UK and American stock-listed oil groups lose their influence in global markets.

"A Chinese bid for Exxon and/or Chevron and/or a Russian bid for Shell and/or BP, backed by funds provided by the wealthy member countries of Opec seem likely to be only a matter of time.