Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, Trump: The risks and rewards of corporate activism : The Conversation


Companies are increasingly taking stands on hot-button political issues from LGBT rights to Black Lives Matter. New research shines light on whether and when it can benefit the bottom line.

Source: Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, Trump: The risks and rewards of corporate activism : The Conversation

Dwindling tropical rainforests mean lost medicines yet to be discovered in their plants : The Conversation


Destruction of rainforests through wildfires or deforestation may harm human health. As these forests disappear, we may be losing precious medicinal plants that hold treatments for various diseases.

Source: Dwindling tropical rainforests mean lost medicines yet to be discovered in their plants : The Conversation

Only 8 People in This Indigenous Tribe Still Speak Their Native Language. The Amazon Fires May Wipe It Out Completely. – VICE


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Brazil’s indigenous Manoki have been watching fires tear through their ancestral land for weeks, fearing the devastating damage to their forests may mean the end of their cultural heritage as well.

“The fires did irreversible damage to the places we hunt and collect medicine. Huge trees that took centuries to grow have been cut and burned,” tribe member Giovani Tapura, 38, told VICE News from the Amazon’s smaller Irantxe Indigenous Territory, where the Manoki live.

But just as much as their hunting grounds, Tapura and other Manoki fear the loss of their language. It was already on the cusp of extinction, between population loss from Portuguese massacres and disease, and missionaries forbidding Manoki to speak their language. Of the 400 remaining Manoki left in Brazil, only eight speak the tribe’s native language, also called Manoki, according to Tapura.

Holding onto their land is not just essential for their own survival — forests managed by indigenous groups like the Manoki sequester significant amounts of carbon, and indigenous people conserve an estimated 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

Read more: Bolsonaro is spreading conspiracy theories about the fires.

They are far from alone with this problem: There are nearly 1 million indigenous Brazilians living in the Amazon, speaking roughly 200 languages, and almost half are endangered. The Amazon fires encroaching on many of their territories are heightening fears that if indigenous groups are driven out of the Amazon and forced into cities, their languages will go extinct.

Indigenous groups say government policies — and lack thereof — have set them up for failure. “There are no government incentives to help revive our language, and the policies for indigenous people the government is suggesting will decimate our culture — the most valuable thing we have,” said Tapura.

Brazil’s current President Jair Bolsonaro has stated that indigenous peoples should be assimilated into Brazilian society by opening up their lands to large-scale agriculture and mining — a move that would be unconstitutional. But experts believe that many of the fires set this year – and the rapid deforestation that preceded them – are strongly linked to land-grabbing and criminal networks. Amid an international outcry over thousands of fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, Bolsonaro, during a meeting of state governors, criticized indigenous territories and suggested he would soon draft measures preventing more indigenous territories from having the formal borders drawn that would give tribes more land rights.

Any threats to their land are a risk to the long-term existence of the Manoki as a cohesive community, said Bernat Bardagil Mas, a postdoctoral fellow specializing in Amazonian indigenous languages at the University of California, Berkeley. He added that their territory is “where the language revitalization efforts could be successful, where maintaining their traditions, their spiritual life, and their identity as Manoki is possible.”

“The fires did irreversible damage to the places we hunt and collect medicine.”

Without access to the Amazon rainforest, the community, surrounded on almost all sides by the steadily encroaching agricultural frontier in the southwestern edge of Mato Grosso state “would shift to a more and more urban type of life, moving progressively to the neighbouring cities of Brasnorte and Campo Novo do Parecís to find jobs and make living possible.” This would almost certainly drive their language to extinction.

Angel Corbera Mori, a linguist at the Institute of Language Studies at the University of Campinas, explained in an interview with Telesur that language itself is critical to the preservation of culture as a whole. “If a language is lost, so is the medicine, culinary, histories, traditional knowledge.”

The Manoki currently live on a much smaller territory than they did historically. The smaller Irantxe Indigenous Territory is adjacent to the larger Manoki Indigenous Territory in Mato Grosso, the state with the largest amount of fire alerts. The tribe has been awaiting official recognition of their land for nine years. It remains stalled because of appeals by squatters who illegally purchased land in indigenous territory. The Manoki and other tribes fear that outsiders are now emboldened by Bolsonaro’s pro-development and anti-indigenous rhetoric to invade their territory.

The environmental impact of the fires has been catastrophic, torching at least 130,000 acres of the rainforest — the equivalent to 72,000 soccer fields. The Amazon in its natural, humid state is essentially fireproof, but deforestation prepped it for the fires that some experts have suggested were in almost entirely all started by humans. Despite a ban issued by Bolsonaro against intentional burning at the end of August, the fires are still burning, and will likely continue through the dry season. Mato Grosso is currently the state with the highest number of fires detected by satellites.

 

Source: Only 8 People in This Indigenous Tribe Still Speak Their Native Language. The Amazon Fires May Wipe It Out Completely. – VICE

Amazon Admits Alexa Device Eavesdropped On Portland Family : Huffington Post


Amazon’s Alexa device has a lot of good qualities, but one bad one: It eavesdrops.

A couple in Portland, Oregon, was shocked to discover Alexa recorded a private conversation in their home and then sent it to a random person on their contact list.

Danielle, who asked her last name not be identified, told KIRO TV the revelation brought to life a fear that she and her husband had when they first installed the devices to handle their home’s heat, lights and security system.

“My husband and I would joke and say ‘I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,’” she said.

Things took a chilling turn into Big Brother territory about two weeks ago when the couple got a phone call from an employee of Danielle’s husband.

The message: “Unplug your Alexa devices right now. You’re being hacked.”

 

Source: Amazon Admits Alexa Device Eavesdropped On Portland Family : Huffington Post

How Modern Life Depletes Our Gut Microbes


Original post from Goats and Soda

‘……….MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF  

Compared with Americans' digestive tracts, Yanomamis' teem with life, like a lush, tropical rain forest. Maria Fabrizio for NPR
Compared with Americans’ digestive tracts, Yanomamis’ teem with life, like a lush, tropical rain forest.
Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Looks like many of us don’t have the right stomach for a paleodiet. Literally.

Two studies give us a glimpse into our ancestors’ microbiome — you know, those trillions of bacteria that live in the human gut.

And the take-home message of the studies is clear: Western diets and modern-day hygiene have wiped a few dozen species right out of our digestive tracts. One missing microbe helps metabolize carbohydrates. Other bygone bacteria act as prebiotics. And another communicates with our immune system.

In other words, Americans’ digestive tracts look like barren deserts compared with the lush, tropical rain forest found inside indigenous people.

“The concern is that we’re losing keystone species,” says microbiologist M. Gloria Dominguez-Bello, at the New York University School of Medicine. “That’s a hypothesis, but we haven’t proved it.”

Dominguez-Bello and her colleagues are the first to characterize the gut bacteria of people completely isolated from modern medicine, food and culture.

In 2009, her colleagues and a medical team with the Venezuelan government took a helicopter to a remoteYanomami tribe at the border of Venezuela and Brazil. Members of the tribe have lived as hunter-gatherers for more than 11,000 years in a mountainous area of the Amazon rain forest.

The visit was the first time that particular tribe had direct contact with modern society. “They knew about us, but we didn’t know about them,” Dominguez-Bello says. “They had names [in their language] for our helicopters and planes.”

Dominguez-Bello’s colleagues took samples from 12 of the villagers’ fecal matter. Back in New York City, the team used DNA analysis to figure out which species thrived in the hunter-gatherers’ guts.

The biggest surprise was how many different species were present in the Yanomami’s microbiome. The tribe had about 50 percent more ecological diversity than the average American has, Dominguez-Bello and her colleagues reported Friday in the journal Science Advances.

As cultures around the world become more “Western,” they lose bacteria species in their guts, Dominguez-Bello says. At the same time, they start having higher incidences of chronic illnesses connected to the immune system, such as allergies, Crohn’s disease, autoimmune disorders and multiple sclerosis.

“So the big question is: Are these two facts related?” Dominguez-Bello asks. “It’s not clear if more diversity in the microbiome is healthier. But maybe we have lost species with important functions.”

Clearly diet plays a big role in determining which critters hang out in our digestive tracts. “The Yanomami tribe don’t sit down and eat big meals, three times a day, like we do,” Dominguez-Bello says. “They eat a little bit all day long. They just grab a banana when they want. Or go eat some fish soup with plantains.”

But Dominguez-Bello says there’s likely another reason, besides diet, for the diversity in the Yamomami’s GI system: The tribe had never been exposed to antibiotics before the 2009 visit.

“Antibiotics kill bacteria in the gut, and sometimes species don’t come back,” Dominguez-Bello says, “This is especially true with children, whose microbiomes are in the process of getting assembled. Impacts on the microbiome at a young age can have long-lasting consequences.”

But Jens Walter, a microbiologist at the University of Alberta, isn’t convinced antibiotics are the major reason for the bacteria extinctions in Western guts. His data point to a more subtle culprit.

Walter and his collaborators have characterized the gut microbes in two indigenous populations in Papua New Guinea. Unlike the Yanomami tribe, these groups regularly use antibiotics. But they still have high levels of diversity in their microbiomes, Walter and his team reported Thursday in the journal Cell Reports.

The Papua New Guineans’ microbiome had about 47 species that are essentially absent in the Americans they studied. The Americans, on the other hand, had only four species in their microbiome that were missing in the Papua New Guineans.

Sophisticated sanitation and hygiene in Western society might be limiting the species that end up in our guts, Walter and his team report. Bacteria spread more easily from person to person in Papua New Guinea because the communities don’t have sewage systems and clean drinking water.

“Clean drinking water is one of the most important achievements of Western culture,” Walter says. “It prevents the spread of infections, but it also prevents the easy exchange of our microbiomes.”

At the end of the day, though, less diversity in our guts may be a small price to pay for overall good health, Walter says.

“We don’t want to romanticize life in Papua New Guinea,” he says. “They may have much lower incidences of allergies and autoimmune diseases. But they are actually less healthy than people in Western societies. Their life expectancy is lower, and their infant mortality rate is high because of infections and parasites.”

Related

 

What in Common Book, Coffee and Internet companies and MP’s


Starbucks, Amazon and Google

It is true Starbucks, Amazon and Google have done nothing illegal, but is it a right thing to do.  Where are the consistencies, it appears if you have the money you are going to look for ways to minimise the amount of tax you pay.

Then lets look at MP’s, you would think they are whiter than white, except you only have to look at the way they claim expenses and to put it mildly, some of those ways are not even legal. It is good the Houses of Parliament is not made of glass, then they would have to be careful what they throw about and look to the road cleaners of Westminster for help.

It is easy to say the Chancellor of the Exchequer should close all the loopholes, but once they are closed, you have the Chartered Accountants, who specialise in finding other ways to avoid paying tax.

Not paying tax is not good for the country and will mean that others will have to pay more tax to compensate for the tax lost by avoidance.