One man is planting mangroves in Indonesia to stave off tragedy

“So that’s why I started doing this [conservation]   work.”
Tongke-Tongke, an early mangrove success story
In the 1980s, Tongke-Tongke was starting to look a lot like Palaloi’s hometown. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

Brown says most of that money is going to waste.  
Palaloi grew up about 150 miles up the coast from Tongke-Tongke, in another coastal village in the province of South Sulawesi.   
“Almost all of the people around here are crab farmers,” Bachtiar says. But eventually, because mangrove forests had been torn down to make way for aquaculture in the village, erosion ate away at the coast until the ponds were enveloped by the sea. Palaloi’s method is to tap local leaders like Saenuden to plant mangroves and then monitor the health of the trees. “The floods happened from January until April,” says Tongke-Tongke resident Saenuden, who lived not far from the coast in the 1980s. The somewhat stern 51-year-old’s motivation comes from a childhood tinged with tragedy. “People say some houses on the coastline disappeared and people had to move inland.”
Now, there are miles of mangroves that protect the village here. The protected waters around mangrove roots serve as excellent nurseries for one type   of crab   harvested in the region. Bachtiar says telling his neighbors that mangroves are good for business was key in getting them to help plant and maintain the coastal trees.    
“After we planted all the mangroves, our business started to grow,” Bachtiar says. Mangrove seedlings grow in a nursery outside of Makassar, Indonesia. Teenagers in this town of roughly 3,000 people take selfies with the dense leafy canopy as a backdrop, while   families stroll along the boardwalk. Palaloi says he’s glad the mangroves he’s planted since the early ’90s are trapping carbon and serving as some tiny buffer against global warming and future sea level rise. This story is part of a series on social entrepreneurs working to limit or reverse deforestation in Indonesia. Before, you could just catch one or two kilograms.”
Bachtiar has opened a crab processing facility since the mangrove project launched. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

After many of Indonesia’s mangroves were stripped away, erosion hit coastal communities hard. In Tongke-Tongke, villagers have a co-op to grow and sell mangrove seedlings to other villages looking to emulate their success. Palaloi stepped in to mediate in the late ’90s.  

The conversion of mangrove forests to aquaculture ponds like this one in Tongke-Tongke has accelerated erosion on the Indonesian coastline. “Otherwise they wouldn’t put in the work to maintain the mangroves.”
Many planting efforts marred by failure and wasted resources
After the Indonesian government supported the destruction of mangrove forests during the “blue revolution,” it has since reversed its course and now spends millions of dollars a year trying to replant them. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

Palaloi pitches mangrove projects based on their economic benefits in most of the villages where he works, just like he did outside of Makassar. He’s spread the gospel of mangroves to roughly 20 different communities around South Sulawesi. But Brown says they still might not fare well in the future. A long history of mangrove removal
In the 1980s and ’90s, the Indonesian government backed the large-scale conversion of mangroves into ponds for raising fish and shrimp in what was called the “blue revolution.”
This aquaculture strategy is part of the reason why the country has lost 40 percent of its mangroves in the past three decades. He and two of his staffers lived in Tongke-Tongke for years, staying with local residents on a rotational basis to build alliances with residents all over town. “So there are economic and also conservation motivations to continue this project.”

Crab pickers at a processing facility on the outskirts of Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. “The erosion was constant,” Palaloi says.   
The mangroves are often planted in places where they can’t survive, or they’re not maintained, Brown says. His data suggest   the vast majority of the mangroves planted by the ministry die. “One person can catch about 10 kilograms per day. None of this may have been here if it weren’t for Hidayat Palaloi. “My family tried to get other work, but it wasn’t enough.”
His family wasn’t alone. Palaloi successfully politicked enough to get community members working together, helping them to create a master plan for their village and expand their mangrove planting efforts. A boardwalk cuts through a mangrove forest in the village of Tongke-Tongke, in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Read more: Indonesia’s forests are key for saving orangutans — and slowing climate change
Palaloi’s family raised fish in ponds.  
“People who live in coastal areas need to understand that this conservation effort isn’t just aimed at conservation itself, but at helping people who live around the conservation area to improve their economic situation,” Palaloi says. “And so the whole coastal area, and that whole restoration — if sea level continues to rise —   is at risk of drowning.”  
The residents of Tongke-Tongke don’t seem to be worried about the more distant threat of sea level rise now that waves are no longer washing into their living rooms. Tongke-Tongke was largely planted with one type of mangrove species, rather than the dozens of different species that records show are native to the east and west coasts of South Sulawesi. There’s a spot in the Indonesian seaside village of Tongke-Tongke where people like to hang out at sunset. He sees his role as enabling community members to envision and complete their own projects, rather than dictating what communities should do. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

Selling the economic advantages of mangroves
Palaloi recruited a crab fisherman named Bachtiar to lead mangrove planting in an industrial area on the outskirts of the city of Makassar about eight years ago. “Before, this area was not like this, it was just empty land, coastline and a beach,” says Palaloi, the head of a mid-sized conservation nonprofit based in Makassar, Indonesia, called the Indonesian Self Growth Foundation. “When undertaking this successful restoration, they failed to restore the original biodiversity,” Brown says.  
It’s a boardwalk winding through a dense forest of mangroves along the coast. In the communities where he works, Palaloi stresses the economic advantages of mangrove restoration projects, including higher crab and fish yields. “Every day, the water came into the house almost two feet above the floor,” Saenuden says. “It was uncomfortable, to say the least.”  
Saenuden and other villagers started planting mangrove seedlings in tidal zones, but there was infighting among the different conservation groups and fishermen, and people threatened to chop the trees down for firewood. The tangled root systems of the trees poke out of the water, like tent poles holding up the tree trunks. That’s partly thanks to Palaloi, who’s been helping towns like Tongke-Tongke plant mangroves on the island of Sulawesi for more than two decades. The day I visited he was buying crabs from local fishermen, and about a dozen women were picking the meat out of the shells of cooked crabs to pack them for freezing and shipment. Meanwhile, the mangroves in Tongke-Tongke are thriving. They’re sprawling and sturdy. “The Ministry of Forestry spends around $13 million a year planting mangroves in every coastal district in Indonesia,” says Ben Brown, Indonesian mangrove expert and co-founder of Blue Forests, a nonprofit that focuses on building resilience in coastal areas.   
“I think if he didn’t help us to resolve the conflict, I’m not sure that this mangrove forest would be here now,” Saenuden says.  
“I saw for myself how erosion hurts people, and I knew I didn’t want to see another community experience what mine did,” Palaloi says. The sprawling island nation of Indonesia still has about a quarter of the world’s mangrove forests, but they’re disappearing faster there than anywhere else. And that’s a problem, because each type of mangrove survives only in a very specific depth of water. He wishes he could have done that for his own family, before their business got swept into the sea. Find more stories here. Mangrove restoration projects led by other government agencies, countless conservation groups and corporate social responsibility programs are often largely unsuccessful as well.   
“For my family, these fish ponds were the main income, and when they failed, our income was gone,” Palaloi says. But his main priority is hyper-local —   helping coastal communities protect themselves and make a better living. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

Without the natural wave protection offered by the mangroves, the coastline in Tongke-Tongke was being eroded. And they’re not the only ones.

Putin: Nobody believed Trump would win ‘except us’

“The next step must be the conclusion of a ceasefire agreement on all of Syria’s territory,” he said. “Trump during the campaign was saying that he thinks it’s right to normalize Russian-American ties and said it for sure won’t get worse as it can’t get any worse,” Putin said.  
Ties between Moscow and Washington hit their lowest point since the Cold War under President Barack Obama due to the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s military intervention in Syria. “He went to the end, though nobody believed that he would win except us,” Putin said. Moscow has been conducting an air campaign in Syria in support of long-time ally Assad since September 2015 and has taken steps to boost its presence in the country. ‘Liberation’ of Aleppo
While Putin was offering warm words for the incoming US leader, he was also flexing Russia’s muscles as the key power broker on the conflict in Syria. “The liberation of Aleppo from radical elements is a very important part of the normalization in Syria, and I hope, for the region overall,” Putin told defense minister Sergei Shoigu in a meeting aired just as the press conference was starting. “I agree and together we’ll think about how to make them better,” he said, adding he would head to the US for talks if Trump invited him. But the election of Trump, whom praised Putin as a strong leader, has provided a surprise boost for the Kremlin, though the Russian economy is still struggling due to Western sanctions and lower oil prices. Putin, however, backed Trump’s rejection of the allegations, insisting “as the president-elect said entirely correctly, who knows who these hackers were?”
The Russian leader also sought to play down a potential nuclear stand-off with the future US president, a day after they both pledged to bolster their nuclear capabilities. Russia forged a deal with Turkey — which supports groups seeking to topple Assad — that saw rebel fighters and civilians leave Aleppo. Russia’s defense ministry said in October that Moscow was poised to transform the Tartus facility into a permanent base, without providing a timeline for its transformation. At his annual end-of-year press conference, the confident Kremlin strongman praised Trump for tapping into the public mood in the US to claim his surprise win in November. Putin said later during his marathon press conference that he hoped that fresh peace talks could get all sides in the conflict to agree to a nationwide ceasefire. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday appeared to cozy up to US President-elect Donald Trump while asserting his authority as the key powerbroker in Syria. In another sign of strength, as he was addressing journalists, the Kremlin said Putin had signed an order to expand Russia’s naval facility in the Syrian city of Tartus. Officials in the US have accused Russia of cyberattacks aimed at interfering with the US vote, with some alleging Moscow sought to tip the balance in favor of Trump. Putin said that the presidents of Turkey, Iran and Syria had agreed to take part in new peace talks, which Russia had proposed take place in the Kazakh capital Astana. The Syrian army said late Thursday that it had retaken full control of Aleppo, scoring its biggest victory against opposition forces since the civil war erupted in 2011. Putin insisted there was “nothing unusual” about Trump’s call in a tweet Thursday to bolster America’s nuclear capability, hours after the Russian leader ordered his top brass to strengthen Moscow’s “nuclear potential.”
“We will never look to be dragged into an armed race and to spend resources that we can’t afford,” Putin said, after insisting he understood the US was the stronger military power but “we just say that we are stronger than any aggressor.”

Credit:

Ploughshares fund, based on data from the Federation of American Scientists.

Pozole, songs and the things that survived colonization

The language, well, things are better now, but when people would hear my accent they’d look at me like I was from another planet. Just a mortar and pestle, that was all we had. “But honestly, the hardest part was being without your grandma. You can build a home here. My grandmother is singing. Generations later, the legacy of Europeanization is still strong. “Your mom and I found so much joy here. When slightly browned, toss into blender with 6 cups of water. “Of course it was hard,” says my mother. A small part of you knows you’ll never be home again. They say you can never really go back home once you leave. Mom came to Arizona in 1981; grandmother followed two years later. Garnish with limes and chopped cabbage and serve. And speaking their language. Even the slights, you learn to laugh at them. Our ancestors have eaten it for generations dating back to the Aztecs, and it’s been passed down almost religiously since. Something you can’t put your finger on, and you’re happy, but it’s always there in the background. The years pass, but inevitably each Christmas I find myself back in our little space. But somehow the kitchen is just as it’s ever been. Attempts to keep our indigenous traditions alive are met with skepticism   and, sometimes, violence. People who had met her multiple times! Well, you three have pale skin and she didn’t, so of course, she had to be hired help.”

Natascha Uhlmann’s mother as a young girl in rural Mexico. A man in line didn’t like that she was using coupons — so he called her a “f*****g beaner”. “Mostly though, right now anyway, it’s funny to us. Makes 4 servings. She’d packed one shirt, maybe two, and a suitcase filled to the brim with those damn peppers. I couldn’t stand to be away from her, alone in this new place, learning a new tongue, thrust in the middle of a new culture. She never sings any more —   she says she’s no good at it. I think back to my grandmother’s skin lightening cream — and the news from family that a Nahuatl man was assaulted this month while practicing his Sun Dance in a public square in Obregon, Mexico. What would you do when things got lonely?”
“It was hard, but your mom was brave for doing it. Capitalizing on internal strife within the Aztec Empire, the conquistadors quickly formed alliances with nearby indigenous groups. But it’s never really home.”
The pozole bubbles, the scent starts to fill the kitchen. I start humming, Aca Entre Nos, a song I haven’t heard in a while. It’s easy to forget how much things have changed since then. Mom and I are making pozole, and the scent of roasted chilies brings family wafting in and out, hoping for the first taste. Reduce to medium heat and stir constantly. Your mom and I would spend hours peeling the chilies, grinding the peanuts — it was all by hand, in those days. I’d never laughed so hard in my life.”
“Was it hard?” I ask, though of course I know the answer. Once liquefied, return to stove and add the hominy, allowing the stew to simmer for 30 minutes. One time your aunt came with a suitcase full. So this store-bought stuff, well of course it just wasn’t the same.”
My mom steps in: “When your cousins would visit us from down south, we wouldn’t ask for gifts or souvenirs or anything. But you’ll still find yourself grasping for something. People who knew your names! When the Europeans came, they brought cows, pigs and chickens, fearing that the indigenous, plant-centered diet would make them like us. And wearing their clothing. “Did you ever feel unwelcome here? That it was why our kids were small and weak. Just chilies. I’ve been begging her for weeks to teach me to make pozole. She knows I worry, so she’ll say that things have changed, but just last week someone made a racial slur to her while she was in line at the grocery store. How could it be? And we almost forgot how to speak our own.”

When the Spaniards first reached Mesoamerica in 1517, they saw not a world of rich culture and traditions worth engaging, but one that could be exploited and bent to their will. But when she cooks, she lets go of that sort of thing, if only for a short while. Natascha Uhlmann is a writer and activist from Sonora, Mexico. Credit:

Natascha Uhlmann/PRI

Ingredients:
500 grams of hominy
3 red tomatoes
1 medium sized avocado
1 head of garlic
5 guajillo chilies
3 arbol chilies
3 pasilla peppers
1 1/4 cup onions
1 lime
Cabbage (to taste)
Preparation:
Place the tomatoes in a pan on high heat, letting them blacken on each side. It’s a savory stew brimming with hominy and ancho chilies. Even just for a few months. It was never the same, though. Were people kind? Credit:

Natascha Uhlmann/PRI

“You know,” my grandmother starts to tell me, “when we first moved here, we would eat pozole from a jar. “You know,” she starts to tell me, and I try not to protest the interruption of her singing, “when the colonizers came they told us our food was no good. “You know,” my mother says, “your grandmother used to love this song.”
How to make my grandmother’s pozole

Pozole, a dish that comes from the indigenous people of Mesoamerica. We couldn’t find any of the ingredients, only the store-bought stuff. Everything I’d ever known was suddenly different. I think I’m starting to understand that. You can build a life here and surround yourself with the people you love. We just couldn’t get them here. Eventually, I got braver and started giving it right back!”
She tells me things are better. Moctezuma, ruler of the Aztec Empire, ordered his subjects to welcome the explorers, hoping their hospitality would be repaid in kind. A mariachi croons softly in the background on my grandmother’s old cassette player. When Natascha Elena’s grandmother first moved to the US, they ate the savory stew from a jar. The chilies for pozole. The new livestock upset the delicate ecological balance and it wasn’t long before we had to adapt to their diets. When your mom would go out with you kids, when she’d take you to the park or go grocery shopping with you, they’d always think she was the maid. But would their food make us like them? It was hard, though, the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” my grandmother says. Credit:

Courtesy of Elena Buenrostro

My mom laughs, but I wonder how many times she’s forced that laugh before. Instead, they seized Moctezuma as a hostage and pillaged   the capital of Tenochtitlan, today known as Mexico City. So we started eating their foods. That it will always be different. When sufficiently darkened, throw in minced garlic, whole guajillo and arbol chilies, pasilla peppers and chopped onions. My grandmother is back to singing now, and I’m lost in my thoughts.

It has nothing to do with holiday spirit. Why your Christmas tree loses its needles.

Chastagner says the biggest factor in needle loss actually has to do with tree genetics. “Some tree species are predisposed to shed needles much more so than others,” Chastagner says. While ethylene helps fruits ripen, one Canadian study has found that in cut balsam fir, the hormone seems to signal that it’s time for the tree to drop its needles. “Does it have good color?” he asks. “If you look nationally at what the most common species are, they would be Fraser fir, balsam fir, Douglas fir, noble fir,” he notes. going on that’s associated with needle loss.”
In the future, we may just bring home Christmas trees that are genetically predisposed to keep their needles, even when dry. It’s not clear. And as they dry out, then they become more rubbery, and they bend a lot more.”
If you have questions at the Christmas tree lot, keep an eye out for Chastagner. You shouldn’t see any needle loss on the tree, particularly green needles.”
Chastagner adds that you can also test the needles themselves for freshness: “There are certain species that you can actually take the needles off of the tree and sort of try to bend them between your fingers,” he says. “We see needle loss on trees that are stored outdoors where there’s lots of air movement, and you wouldn’t expect ethylene to be the contributing factor there,” he says. Professional curiosity gets him out to see quite a few tree retailers during the holidays – even on his days off. “At this time of year when I’m on vacation, or like at Thanksgiving [when] I’m visiting my son and his family … I usually take a few days to go visit the Christmas tree lots,” he says, laughing. Pick out the freshest possible tree. According to his research, species like noble fir and Fraser fir naturally come out well, showing very little needle loss for six or more weeks after harvest. would be extremely helpful for the Christmas tree industry and consumers.”
In the meantime, he has some suggestions for shoppers heading to find their perfect tree. “Being able to develop genetic markers that would allow us to test an individual tree and tell genetically whether or not it’s a source that has good needle retention … “Do the needles appear nice and green [and] relatively soft, they’re not falling off? PRI.org

Last year, Americans took home 25.9 million live Christmas trees, according to a survey by the National Christmas Tree Association. “You know, so that under natural conditions it wouldn’t continue to dry to a point where the tree would be damaged,” he says. “It’s sort of a defense mechanism that trees have.”
In his ongoing research, Chastagner is also focusing on a less-understood cause of needle loss in conifers: Ethylene, a naturally-occurring plant hormone. And once indoors, one conifer species doesn’t necessarily stay fresh as long as another does. We all have our own ideas about the qualities that make a winning tree — from the perfect cone shape, to “fits perfectly in the living room.” But for Gary Chastagner, a plant pathologist at Washington State University, there’s another can’t-miss criterion: How long will the tree keep its needles? These studies have just started.”
But early signs in Chastagner’s ethylene research already suggest there might be more to the needle-loss puzzle. “We currently have a project underway to look at the role of ethylene in needle loss in a broader range of species,” he says, “and we sort of have a mixed result at this point in time. With the holidays just around the corner, another tradition is in full swing for many Americans: choosing the perfect Christmas tree.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. “So there may be more than one thing … First rule of thumb at the tree lot? Chastagner explains that a tree will drop needles as a protective measure if it begins to dry out. While a fresh, woodsy-smelling fir marks the start of the holidays, a dry, thinning tree can send the fun right out of the room — leaving a trail of crunchy needles in its wake. This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s   Science Friday. But properly caring for indoor Christmas trees can also help stave off needle loss, by keeping trees hydrated. “And if the needles are off of a tree that has a really high moisture content, they’ll snap just like a carrot stick.

Fossil hunters have hit pay dirt in northeastern China

Why haven’t we found any bird fossils from those intervening years? Teeth. sanctus fossils don’t sport these plumes, however, suggesting that they’re a male sexual trait used in courtship. The fossil record and the rock record has gaps, and we just don’t know of any rock that dates back to between 150 and 130 million years ago that has avian remains. As a result, most of the bird fossils are nearly complete, with large portions of plumage and, sometimes, the outline of skin etched into the rock. That’s not surprising; animal traits have evolved throughout hundreds of millions of years, and some traits that are found in the fossil record are no longer in existence. I can’t imagine having a toothed bird.It would put your lovebird bite to a new level of pain. The fossil record tells you that these dinosaurs are the closest relatives to birds, and they are not like   T-rex. We talked about the 20 million-year fossil gap between   Archaeopteryx   and the Jehol avifauna. But that’s a hypothesis. The majority of the Mesozoic birds were toothed, but there’s no toothed bird alive today. (The term is a historic reference to a region ruled centuries ago by the Khitan Empire.)
Throughout most of the 20th century, available fossil evidence suggested that birds didn’t flourish until after their close cousins, the dinosaurs, succumbed to a space rock. It seems like that would be quite a find.It would.  

Credit:

Stephanie Abramowicz, from “Birds of Stone”

Feathers, of course, are a defining characteristic of birds. And then you fast-forward 20 million years into the Jehol, and you have an enormous diversity of avians. But there’s also a fact in nature that not all species have the same abundance. Fossil hunters have found many well preserved specimens in shale formations around Sihetun, a village in the countryside of Liaoning Province. How well have feathers been preserved in the Jehol fossils, and how do they compare with those of modern bird feathers?The feathers are beautifully preserved. Credit:

Stephanie Abramowicz, from “Birds of Stone”

Is there a bird species that’s most common to the Jehol fossils?In terms of a species — the way we understand it in modern biology, like   Homo sapiens — there’s   Confuciusornis sanctus   [which translates to, “sacred bird of Confucius”]. They may exist somewhere in vast, unexplored regions of our planet. But a bonanza of specimens from the Jehol “have radically transformed our understanding of the lives of birds,” write the authors of   Birds of Stone, a new book that focuses primarily on the Jehol avifauna. From an anatomical point of view, there’s some evidence of modernity that you see in the skeletons of the birds that are very close to living birds in an evolutionary context, yet they’re not that far from some of the others that became extinct. They don’t realize that there are many dinosaurs that have been found in the fossil record that are very bird-like, that would have been the size of a chicken or something like that, with feathers, some of them even with beaks, and without teeth. There are aspects of the ecology and behavior that could have contributed. Those fossils could answer a number of questions. Like modern birds, Jehol birds of the now-extinct enantiornithine lineage showed lots of variation in skull shape and size. Yanornis martini is a primitive member of the ornithuromorph lineage, the group that includes all living birds. Credit:

Stephanie Abramowicz, from “Birds of Stone”

There were multiple lineages of birds that existed during the time of the Jehol avifauna, but only ornithuromorphs — the group that includes all living   birds — survived. What, in your mind, is the most important revelation about bird evolution that the Jehol Biota has afforded us?It’s hard to say just one. The   discovery of feathered dinosaur fossils in the 1990s then set off a frenzy of digging, and   hunters have since   uncovered thousands of bird fossils in fine shale deposits across western Liaoning Province, northeastern Hebei Province, and southeastern Inner Mongolia. That doesn’t mean that next week someone won’t find them. When you go to Central Park, you’re going to find a lot more of those three species of birds, and then you’re going to find the occasional hawk or the occasional woodpecker. We also know that there was volcanic activity in the area, so you could imagine a mountain range of some size. There are no obvious places where you would go and explore. Occasionally there’s a better preserved skeleton, but by no means are there the feathers, the soft tissues, all the complete skeletons and so on that you have in the other deposits. The fossils are broken up, they’re single bones. For instance, Longipteryx chaoyangensis had an elongated snout with large teeth—the better to catch fish. Where could they be?That’s the million-dollar question. If you take the avian fossil record at face value, you have   Archaeopteryx   150 million years ago, and it’s a poorly diverse avifauna. Many were aquatic birds and perhaps fared better with the catastrophic event that led to the extinction of many of the terrestrial land animals, like the large dinosaurs. So that’s a big gap. “Numerous fossils of Mesozoic birds have been unearthed from sites around the world, but nowhere in such abundance, diversity, or superb preservation as in northeastern China,” the authors write. Fine sediment quickly encased   the carcasses in a benthic tomb, hindering their decomposition. Credit:

Stephanie Abramowicz, from “Birds of Stone”

No one has a good answer for that. And it could be that the abundance of fossils that we have of   Confuciusornis   reflects a real abundance of that species, for whatever reason, in the environment in which it lived. Our picture of bird evolution has changed dramatically over the past three decades, thanks to an avian fossil jackpot in northeastern China. The quality of those fossils has provided information about the evolution of the biology of birds in ways that we did not know before, from aspects that relate to how these animals grew up, to their physiology, to their diet, to their flight performance, and to the way they looked. Perhaps these animals lived by the lakeshore [where lake sediment could have preserved their carcasses], and perhaps they were more gregarious and formed big flocks. Some of the fossils also preserve the ultra-structure of these feathers, like, for example, small organelles called melanosomes — the little sacs that contain the pigment melanin that gives color to many feathers. Some people argue that maybe there’s more than one species of   Archaeopteryx, but the specimens are all very similar. Credit:

Stephanie Abramowicz, from “Birds of Stone”

Researchers dug up the first Jehol fossils in the late 19th century, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that paleontologists found   avian remains in the region. Can you paint a picture of what their environment was like in general?The deposits that contained the fossils are lakebeds, so we know that there were a number of lakes in the area, probably connected by streams, and we know that there were forests, because of the paleobotanical record that we have. Depending on the concentration of the different kinds of melanosomes that you find in a feather, you could infer the color of the fossil feather. The enantiornithine lineage first appeared in the fossil record about 131 million years ago, and Protopteryx fengningensis is perhaps the most primitive known member. Coarsened pads protected the toes of Sapeornis chaoyangensis, which might have used its clawed feed to subdue prey. Those places don’t need to be enormous — they could be as simple as a small pond in some national park in the American West. Confuciusornis sanctus is the most primitive example of a beaked bird. The pristine fossils stem   from a rare confluence of environmental conditions that occurred over millions of years. What do you think is a common misconception that people still have about the relationship between birds and dinosaurs?I think that, for most people, when they hear the word ‘dinosaur,’ they see a   T-rex, a   Triceratops. For example, 120 million years ago, flowering plants — the dominant plants that we see today — were just beginning to evolve. But the enormous paleontological wealth that we have in the Jehol—and that continues to grow—has provided us with a perspective of avian diversity during the Mesozoic that we had no idea existed. Numerous recent fossils, and many from the Jehol Biota, have provided pretty convincing evidence that birds descended from a group of carnivorous dinosaurs. These ancient remains, dating back 120 to 131 million years ago, are part of a diverse assembly of animal and plant fossils collectively known as the Jehol Biota. That tells you that those 20 million years are critical for understanding the pattern of that explosion of avian diversity. It has been proposed that the ecology of the basal ornithuromorphs may have played a role in their survival. Look at how many pigeons, sparrows, and starlings you find in New York City. Credit:

Stephanie Abramowicz, from “Birds of Stone”

The earliest known bird fossils in the Jehol Biota are nearly 20 million years younger than the fossils of the oldest bird we know of,   Archaeopteryx, which lived in what is today southern Germany. I think that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to answer that question. What were some of the significant traits that kept them going? It had fluffy, down-like feathers covering its body and a pair of long ornamental tail feathers. This story was first published by Science Friday with Ira Flatow. We recently chatted with paleontologist Luis Chiappe, one of the authors of   Birds of Stone   and the vice president for research and collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, to learn more about the stories that these shale deposits tell about avian evolution. You get to see the barbs, you get to see the shafts. Of course, the cast of species would have been different. What are some other distinctive features that are present in the Jehol bird fossils that modern birds are missing?The most obvious one? Lakes swallowed many birds (and other organisms) when they died — sometimes en masse, in volcanic eruptions. The latitude was approximately where it is now, in the low 40 degrees, so you’re looking at a temperate setting with warmer summers and cool winters. Are there any other major gaps that hinder our understanding of bird evolution?You have a really long period of time—70–80 million years—after the Jehol in which we do have records of birds, but not with the preservation quality and abundance that we know for either the Jehol or a combination of sites that are in Europe and North America [that date back to around 50 million years]. You’re looking at a critical junction in the story of how birds became birds. Some of the feathers that are found in the Jehol don’t exist in birds anymore — they’re essentially extinct as a type. A defining feature in many of its fossils is a pair of extremely long feathers. Why is there such a preponderance of that particular bird?That’s not an easy question to answer. Interestingly, you can, in the lab, create some of the early phases of tooth formation by stimulating developmental genes in bird embryos that would then produce tooth buds. Overall, ornithuromorph fossils reveal features that are better suited for a terrestrial or semiaquatic lifestyle rather than arboreal living, such as a larger size and lack of perching adaptations. So you would have had a lot more conifers and ferns in the undergrowth of the forest. But that’s very difficult to know. It was probably adapted for an arboreal lifestyle, given its small size and feet capable of perching. Thousands of specimens of that particular species have been collected from the Jehol. Some C. The Jehol birds flourished during the first half of the Cretaceous Period.

Suspect in deadly Berlin market attack shot dead in Italy

But it has suffered a spate of smaller attacks, including two in July that left 20 people injured, both committed by asylum seekers and claimed by the Islamic State group. But her assuring message failed to dampen criticism of what many politicians and newspapers slammed as glaring security failures leading up to Monday’s attack. He was released in 2015 and made his way to Germany. “It’s clear that a lot went wrong… Organisers dimmed festive lights and turned down the Christmas jingles as a mark of respect for those killed. The Tunisian man suspected of carrying out the Berlin truck attack was shot dead by police in Milan on Friday, Italy confirmed. Neumann argued that German security services lacked the manpower to maintain around-the-clock surveillance of the 550 known radical Islamists in Germany. In Tunisia, a brother of the fugitive had appealed to him to surrender and said: “If my brother is behind the attack, I say to him ‘You dishonor us’.”
‘Systemic failure’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she was “proud of how calmly most people reacted” to the country’s deadliest attack in years. The government has appealed for people to carry on as normal and not to give in to fear. Victims were also honored with candles, flowers, letters of condolence and signs reading “Love Not Hate”. German police said Amri steered the 40-tonne truck in the attack after finding his identity papers and fingerprints inside the cab, next to the body of its registered Polish driver who was killed with a gunshot to the head. Amri had been missing since escaping after Monday’s attack in central Berlin. Among the dead were six Germans, 60-year-old Israeli Dalia Elyakim, and a young Italian woman called Fabrizia Di Lorenzo. “Germany’s anti-terrorism structure is failing to match the scale of the problem,” he told news channel NTV. Identity checks had established “without a shadow of doubt” that the dead man was Amri, the minister said. News weekly Der Spiegel reported that in wiretaps, Amri could be heard offering to carry out a suicide operation, but that his words were too vague for an arrest warrant. Shortly after his arrival in Italy he was sentenced to a four-year prison term for starting a fire in a refugee centre. On Thursday, Berliners flocked to the reopened Breitscheid square Christmas market that was targeted in Monday’s carnage. Conservative lawmaker Stephan Mayer, a critic of Merkel’s liberal stance on refugees, said the case “held up a magnifying glass” to the failings of her migration policy that brought almost 900,000 asylum seekers to Europe’s top economy last year. Germany had until now been spared the jihadist carnage that has struck neighboring France and Belgium. it is a totally different situation.” A Europe-wide wanted notice had offered a 100,000-euro ($104,000) reward for information leading to Amri’s arrest. Officials earlier revealed that Amri was a rejected asylum seeker with a history of crime, had spent years in an Italian jail and had long been known to German counter-terrorism agencies. “Once the dust settles, it will be important to have a fundamental rethink.”
‘In the crosshairs’
While the security debate rages, and is set to intensify in the election year 2017, many Germans were looking ahead to Christmas Eve on Saturday, the country’s most important festival. Italy’s interior minister Marco Minniti told a press conference in Rome that Amri had been fatally shot after firing at police who had stopped his car for a routine identity check around 3:00 a.m. Berlin public broadcaster RBB reported that police filmed Amri heading into a Berlin mosque on Tuesday —   after the attack —   at a time when the investigation was still focussed on a Pakistani suspect who was later released. Forty-eight others were injured. it was a systemic failure,” said Peter Neumann, professor of security studies at King’s College London. Merkel said Germany had “known for a long time that we are in the crosshairs of Islamic terrorism. On Friday, a memorial concert was planned at the iconic Brandenburg gate under the theme of “Together Berlin”. Amri had been monitored since March, suspected of planning break-ins to raise cash for automatic weapons to carry out an attack —   but the surveillance was stopped in September because Amri was mostly active as a small-time drug dealer. He had links to Italy, having arrived in the country from his native Tunisia in 2011. Anis Amri, 24, was accused of killing 12 people and wounding dozens more in Monday’s assault on a Christmas market, which has been claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group. And yet, when it happens…

When Canadian citizens sponsor Syrian refugees, things can get complicated

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Jodi Kantor, a New York Times journalist, has been reporting on   Syrian refugees in Canada who are   trying to come to grips with all they’ve lost. “The sponsors are extremely eager to help, but sometimes that eagerness can almost be a problem, because there are some boundary issues. Related: Some Canadians really want to sponsor Syrian refugees. Delegates from several other countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and the US, recently attended   sessions   to learn about how Canada’s program could be replicated in their countries. Kantor was there   when one Syrian refugee family met their sponsor family for the first time. Kantor is working on   a   multi-part series   about what the first year has been like for a few Syrian refugee families   that have been matched with private sponsors. “We [were] in   this airport hotel in Toronto, a group of Syrian refugees, a family that has only been in Canada for something like 48 hours, they don’t speak a lick of English, they come downstairs, and they are told through a translator, ‘These are your sponsors,’ and they are like, ‘What?’ The word doesn’t even mean anything to them,”   Kantor recounts. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with a Syrian refugee during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on July 1, 2016. 18, 2015. “The strong cultural tradition in Syria is that your kids are really supposed to listen to you. Credit:

Mark Blinch/Reuters

“I’m watching it kind of register for them,” Kantor says, “that these people they don’t know are going to adopt them for a year.”
The relationship between Syrian refugees and their sponsors can get complicated. A third of them got sponsors. Syrian refugees receive winter clothing as they arrive at the Pearson Toronto International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, on Dec. Credit:

Chris Wattie/Reuters

  Well, their kids have gotten to Canada, and [the Syrian parents]   say   that their kids are behaving like little lawyers and negotiators, kind of pushing back and questioning every decision, and the parents find it a little funny but also unnerving.”
Syrian refugees elsewhere could soon find themselves in similarly complicated   relationships with host families. These sponsors are ordinary Canadian citizens that have committed to do everything they can to help resettle a refugee family — from providing financial support   to   offering practical support, like helping with groceries, doctor’s appointments   and English lessons. 18, 2015. She’s also been reporting on how they have been building new homes   and starting new lives. Are these Syrian families even in a position to say no to certain things?”

A Syrian refugee holds his daughter as they arrive at the Pearson Toronto International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, on Dec. Listen to the full interview. “They find Canadian parenting so different,” she says. Turns out it’s harder than they thought. More than 35,000 thousand   Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada since November 2015. “Imagine going on Google Earth, and trying to find your old house, and not being able to find it because   its   been bombed to smithereens.”Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. Credit:

Mark Blinch/Reuters

Parenting is one thing that   refugee families and sponsor families often disagree over, Kantor says.

Germany finds itself in the center of the cyberstorm

Trump commented about Coldplay’s last album?”  
If the creator of such a bot wanted to spend a little time, effort and/or money, Neumann said his simple bot could be built out into an actual social bot army. This type of bot, Neumann explained, would create hashtags related to the president-elect and the band Coldplay. Now, if you just shake this reality, then this whole concept doesn’t work anymore. Germany is facing an unprecedented wave of cyberthreats. “What’s new is that anybody can do it in these social networks,” says Linus Neumann, a spokesman with the German Chaos Computer Club. … “It’s not only bad for democracy, it’s basically shaking the base [of] the whole concept that our democracy is founded on,” he says. And for one final example, German politician Renate Künast of the Green Party was forced to knock down a false quote attributed to her, which made her seem sympathetic to an Afghan migrant suspected of rape and murder. The process is remarkably easy. And it’s not just Russia and America,” Klingbeil adds. And he sketched out how this social media bot would work. Lars Klingbeil is a member of the German parliament from the Social Democratic Party who works on cybersecurity issues. Neumann spent five or 10 minutes downloading an open-source toolkit that helped him get started. It would tweet and re-tweet related stuff, attract followers   and pose leading questions such as, “Why hasn’t Mr. This network of Trump-Coldplay bots could then create exponentially more posts and be all that much more powerful. Credit:

Matthew Bell  

“What we’re seeing now is only the beginning,” Klingbeil says. Frank Hessenland contributed to this report. Klingbeil says other national governments are capable of carrying out large-scale cyberattacks. Credit:

Shane McMillan  

Nowadays, anyone can reach an enormous audience by creating a post on Facebook or Twitter that goes viral. After all, rumors, lies and propaganda have probably been around ever since people could talk. Klingbeil says he is not in favor of creating a government censorship body that would function like an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” But he says companies like Facebook need to be more responsible, and they need to be held accountable. In the interest of journalistic discovery, I asked Neumann if he could create a bot for fun that would, for instance, spread the false notion that Donald Trump enjoys the music of Coldplay. They’re sort of the good guys of the computer-hacking world. Because you can just hijack reality.”  
Neumann is skeptical about government initiatives that would try to stop fake news through censorship. “There is something like an objective outside world. Before that, nearly a million internet routers operated by Deutsche Telekom were taken offline in a malicious hack. If the public learns how to distinguish between reliable reporting and fake news, Neumann says, fake news will lose its power to influence people’s opinions. “That would be a vicious lie and fake news, of course, but we could,” Neumann says. To be clear, I asked Neumann not to unleash this thing into cyberspace for real. They detailed cooperation between German and US intelligence agencies. But it’s also true that the Americans are engaging in cyber-espionage.”
“They were listening to our chancellor’s mobile phone. It’s almost impossible to figure out who is responsible for disseminating this stuff, he says, because it’s so easy to cover your tracks. Social bots can spew forth all manner of content, malicious or otherwise, all by themselves. And here, says Neumann, is where we get to the heart of the threat. He supports new legislation that would impose hefty fines on social media sites if they fail to remove fake news posts quickly. What’s most important, Neumann says, is that people who get their news via social media sites need to be smarter about what they’re looking at. And the fact is, you don’t even have to be human. But it was instructive. The group calls itself Europe’s largest association of hackers. “I think this is a real threat to German democracy,” says Lars Klingbeil, a member of the German parliament with the Social Democratic Party, who works on cybersecurity issues. Early this month, almost 2,500 leaked documents were put online by WikiLeaks. The hope here, of course, would be that this fake information would take on a life of its own in the real world. In addition to the hacking, “there’s the problem of fake news, fake quotes and even fake videos floating around, and people believe this stuff, because they’re losing faith in traditional institutions.”  
Klingbeil says Germany needs new regulations for social media companies like Facebook and Twitter. Asked about allegations from US and German intelligence agencies that say the Russians are behind at least some of this cybermalfeasance, Klingbeil says, “We are irritated about Russia influencing the US election campaign. And all these theories of liberal democracy … are founded on the idea that there is a reality. “There used to be some kind of barrier stopping you from reaching, let’s say, national interest with a claim that you make,” Neumann says. In this objective outside world, there are facts. There was a hack into the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union, the party of Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel. “These are strategic operations. Linus Neumann is with the Chaos Computer Club, a collective of computer hackers based in Berlin. And people are only starting to learn about them now.”
Some of what is going on here, with fake news and digital disinformation campaigns, is nothing new. They’ve been going on for some time.

Many Christian icons are made in China. But these come from Bethlehem.

Almost a decade later, he returned to help restore a church in the nearby Christian Palestinian town of Beit Jala. “If you’re paid $50 a week for the work, you haven’t got any money to buy the best materials, so icons end up being done on the cheap,” Knowles explains. It’s the first of its kind in the Middle East, and he says Bethlehem is its natural home. Vinny Talamas, a young English teacher, is a student here at the center, and he is excited to study with Knowles. Seeing possibilities which are perhaps being overlooked otherwise.”

Ian Knowles founded the Bethlehem Icon Center in 2012. But ever since the Palestinian uprising in the year 2000, it has been devoid of tourists for most of the year. But Knowles wants to help Palestinians do something different, by making a living producing their own religious artwork. “Ian has taught us that it’s primarily how we see reality, and so we’ve been retraining our eyes and part of that is our interior life, too, being more attentive to how we view nature, how we view the human person,” Talamas says. Knowles says his long-term plan is to hand over control of the icon center to a Palestinian director. The idea is not to sell the work in souvenir shops, but to work on commission and sell pieces online, or at the icon center. “I want you to work on a whole face of Jesus,” Knowles tells the class. Bethlehem is the place of the icon.”
Knowles visited this city for the first time in 1999 as a pilgrim. How is this right?” Knowles asks. They commissioned one piece of work for a chapel in Birmingham, England, and this past summer, three students collaborated on another one that sold to a medieval cathedral, also in the UK. “We’re trying to do something which respects local people, respects —   isn’t a colonialist project,” he says. “So, when we do icons, we’re doing them because God has given us the icon of himself, and we can just copy and perpetuate what he’s begun.”
“It should be here in Bethlehem. The street used to be a magnet for pilgrims. That project led him to start teaching iconography in a space he rented from Bethlehem University. They don’t pay tuition, but they do have to bring their own tools. Kwais?” Knowles tells the students, using the Arabic word for “good.”
The face of Jesus, in art-school lingo, is called the Mandylion.  

Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

Throughout the course, students learn how to make their own natural dyes for use in paints. They grind stones from around Bethlehem to produce certain colors, and they use egg yolks and vodka to make others. Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

Knowles founded the center back in 2012. It’s one of the most important images here at the Bethlehem Icon Center, which houses a school, chapel and visitor center. On this day, students Vinny, Khuloud, Joanne and Samar are standing in front of their canvases with pencils in hand. Knowles hopes the center will help change that, and he wants visitors to be able to meet the local Palestinians who produce these icons. Then he got to thinking about building something more permanent. And so you end up with mediocre stuff, which is sold simply to make a bit of money.”  
“It feeds into this whole corrosive attitude that Bethlehem is just about making money from tourists.”

Palestinian students are shown here at work in the Bethlehem Icon Center. “Even people who are very talented don’t have time to invest in their talent, to train.  

Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

The icon center is located in a small refurbished stone building on Star Street, believed by some to be part of the route taken by Mary and Joseph just before the birth of Jesus. Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

At the school, students can take one-week courses or even do a three-year program in Christian iconography. “This is sacred art. “The artists, they can’t even feed their children. The economy in Bethlehem, which is only a short drive from Jerusalem, depends heavily on the tourism business. Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa   Credit:

Dalia Hatuqa  

Many of the icons in Bethlehem’s tourist shops are cheap knockoffs, imported from places like China or Greece. “OK? Here is Ian Knowles (center) working with some of his Palestinian students at the Bethlehem Icon Center. This is Bethlehem, there’s a spiritual imperative which says you don’t act in this way.”
Bethlehem is not a desperately poor place, but the unemployment rate here is about 20 percent, which is the highest in the West Bank. Ian Knowles was first captivated by Christian icons as a teenager, during a trip to Greece. “It’s a place where they can learn, they can ask questions, they can interact with the people doing it,” Knowles says. “It’s just me sharing a few skills I have. Some of Knowles’ art students have already shown signs of being business savvy. “He supplements that with a lot of theology and even some anatomy in a way of bringing out the fullness of what iconography is.”

Students learn how to make egg tempera, a kind of paint, using egg yolk, vodka, water and some natural pigments. These days, the 54-year-old British expert on religious art is busy working with Palestinian art students in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, helping them learn an ancient style of iconography. “This is the place where you get the first physical image of God ever in history,” says Knowles. “And it becomes a living relationship between the pilgrims and the people who live here.”

In Orthodox Churches, the image of the face of Jesus is known as a Mandylion.

What it’s like to be the victim of a Russian online smear campaign

— and as I’m not running for president, frankly who cares. There was no way to correct the stories —   to whom would I complain? Elements of it could have been lifted out of a spy novel, but the basic idea was quite simple: In the wake of the invasion of Crimea, when I was writing quite a bit about Ukraine, nasty little articles about me started appearing on Russia-based websites. We talked with Warsaw-based journalist Anne Applebaum about what it’s like to be   on the receiving end of a personal fake news attack. But it was eye-opening to watch the stories move through a well-oiled system, one that had been constructed for exactly this sort of purpose. That’s in part because of disinformation designed to confuse the news consumer. And yet no one was really outraged until now. We were told in October that material subsequently passed on to WikiLeaks came from the same source. Once you have understood its power, you stop laughing. Why? You can read the rest of Applebaum’s column   at The Washington Post. It’s getting harder to tell. The technique was the same as that used by people who later dressed up the stories from the emails of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta: mix truth and lies — my book contract and royalties were described as mysterious income from questionable sources — make ludicrous claims, pass on the lies to other Russian-backed websites, and then watch them pass it on again. If I was slightly ahead of the curve, it’s only because I saw it firsthand. I have a theory: Until you have seen for yourself how 21st-century disinformation works, you laugh at the very idea of it. A couple of years ago, I was the focus of a smear campaign. Here’s an excerpt from her recent column in The Washington Post:  
We were told in June that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked by Russians. The process finally peaked in November 2015, when WikiLeaks — out of the blue — tweeted one of the articles to its 4 million followers … What’s true and what’s not? Eventually the articles about me were echoed or quoted in a dozen places: on quasi-respectable websites with ties to Russian business, on Russia Today, and on pro-Russian American websites like Ron Paul’s Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Numerous articles were written about these leaks and about Donald Trump’s many Russian connections.

Food has played an important role in America’s social justice movements

“It’s the way to hold on to the memory of our ancestors, stay connected to family and our Southern traditions, all while changing the diet and feeding the soldiers.”
The topic of food and its role in social justice movements has also become a focus of arts organizations. Bendele is determined to instill the concept of down-home global vegan cooking as a way to teach African Americans that eating healthy is not a rejection of black soul food culture, but a healthy alternative. At a shared co-op kitchen near downtown Detroit, Nezza Bendele chops, mixes and bakes. She says she feels she has to do this work. Members of the Black Panther Party organized one of the first school breakfast programs in the country. “Workers tell me, ‘I used to have a family, I used to have a home, Thanksgiving used to be at my house, I had all the things people had in the ’70s and ’80s.’”
He admits that the food he cooks isn’t a fix to inequality, lost jobs or lower wages, but it is a commitment to supporting activists and people in their own struggle — that, he says, is the essence of any social movement. Mama Myrtle Curtis, a co-founder of a nonprofit that provides monthly classes on how to cook delicious, local, seasonal food, was the presenter. She says that “recent food movements   are usually formed by white people with economic means,” which means discussion of food and agricultural movements are constructed and publicized mostly by white folks. In the 1950s and ’60s, black women played a significant role in the advancement of colored people. Some “urban-ag” leaders like Curtis have focused exclusively on nurturing African Americans to grow their own food and be leaders in food justice and food security in Detroit. “Cooking and eating food is what we do as people, it’s where important discussions around politics, justice and humanity happens.” She made fresh biscuits with plantain syrup. Food and justice. Bendele is part of Detroit’s racial equity movement, but instead of protesting, her work is in the kitchen. “As Napoleon said, an army marches on its stomach,” he says. “They need energy,” she says of the activists. Bendele regularly cooks at organizing events and social justice gatherings. She’s cooking for an event for social activists who fight mass shutoffs, tax foreclosures and the unequal distribution of large swaths of land.  
Dorceta Taylor is the director of diversity, equity and inclusion at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. Curtis’ work is about cooking, but her greatest emphasis is on growing fresh, healthy food — a central premise of black advancement. “[White folks] don’t have language around food inequality and resist to understand how access to food ties to structural inequality.”  
“For blacks and Native Americans, links to food go back to the slave days when we did not have sovereignty,” says Taylor. “If our community is not healthy, we can’t keep fighting,” she says. Unions were instrumental in creating the black middle class in Detroit, and the concerted effort to dismantle labor unions in the last two decades has left workers in economic disaster. “We have to change the way the folks think about food and how it’s rooted in food justice and food sovereignty,” says Curtis. One of the main topics? “In the beginning, [there] were huge meals for about 1,000 people,” says Rehberg. “We have something to contribute in our food,” says Rehberg. Newly refurbished buildings, a Whole Foods grocery store and bars with $12 cocktails surround the once vibrant urban space. The Charles H. Home cooks and backdoor restaurants fueled the activists marching for change.  
“Georgia Gilmore was one of many women who, when their employers found out they were in the movement, was fired,” says Frederick Opie, a professor of history and foodways at Babson College and author of the book, “Southern Food and Civil Rights.” “Women like Gilmore competitively cooked and baked goods to sell to black and white folks, and used the money to keep the Civil Rights Movement alive.”
Opie says food is a critical component to activism. Cooperatives like Wobbly Kitchen are providing homemade meals for Detroit’s “forgotten workers” — manufacturing employees who once had a decent standard of living and now live in poverty.  
A breakout session was held in the kitchen of the museum, instead of a conference room. “They get to decide what the movement is,” says Taylor. She says women like Bendele and Curtis are changing the current discourse around justice and food. Wright Museum of African American History and ArtChangeUS, a program of the California Institute of the Arts, recently held a conference in Detroit. “If there is no food, the movement will end.”
In Oakland, California, in 1968, the Black Panthers were pioneers of the Free Breakfast movement. Although multimillion-dollar development projects are a short, walking distance away, the park is still a gathering place for the city’s low-income community. The park sits in the middle of two of the most developed neighborhoods in Detroit. The collective is made up of former union members who began cooking during a contentious Detroit newspaper strike from July 1995 to February 1997. “You can’t fight a revolution if you’re hungry or malnourished.”
A black, vegan chef for more than three decades, Bendele is using her knowledge to nutritiously feed the community. She does it with the ease of someone who has long mastered the art of being in a kitchen.  
From Standing Rock to Occupy Wall Street, food has long had a prominent role in justice movements. About a mile from the Wright Museum, Jim Rehberg from the Wobbly Kitchen collective, hosts biweekly Sunday meals in Cass Park. “Our community can’t reach its full potential if we are eating Hot Cheetos for breakfast.”
Yet her commitment to cooking and teaching about healthy food doesn’t come without opposition. “We want to get people back in the kitchen and away from fast food.” Fast food chains disproportionately target black children, and community elders say this is as important as water shutoffs. “We live in a city that had thousands and thousand of jobs,” says Rehberg. Bendele says “African Americans can be resistant to my food because eating soul food is a way to stay connected to culture and heritage.”
Soul food is connected to historical events and has social significance.

UN Security Council postpones vote on Israeli settlements

Diplomats said it could happen on Friday. “The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed,” the Republican said in a statement. A similar resolution was vetoed by the United States in 2011, and it remained unclear whether Washington would take a different approach this time, possibly abstaining to allow the measure to pass, but without US support. The report was to serve as the basis for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process which has been comatose since a US initiative collapsed in April 2014. Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations described the proposed measure as the “peak of hypocrisy” arguing that it will “only reward the Palestinian policy of incitement and terror.”
The measure calls for “immediate steps” to prevent acts of violence against civilians, but does not specifically single out the Palestinians to stop incitement, as demanded by Israel. Under Netanyahu’s government, settlement construction has surged with some 15,000 settlers moving into the West Bank over the past year alone. “This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis,” Trump added. Israeli settlements are seen as major stumbling block to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state. The United States joined the European Union, the United Nations and Russia in calling for a halt to Jewish settlements in a report released in October by the so-called diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East. Obama’s administration has expressed mounting anger over Israeli settlement policy and speculation has grown that he could launch a final initiative before leaving. “We expect our greatest ally not to allow this one-sided and anti-Israel resolution to be adopted by the council,” Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement. The United Nations maintains that settlements are illegal, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months. France set January 15 as the date for an international conference to re-launch the peace process and “reaffirm the necessity of having two states,” Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said. The move prompted immediate calls from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the United States to use its veto power at the Security Council to block the resolution. The text stresses that halting settlements was “essential for salvaging the two-state solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground.”
UN diplomats have for weeks speculated as to whether the administration of President Barack Obama would decide to refrain from using its veto to defend its closest ally in the Middle East. Trump, who campaigned on a promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, said in a statement that Washington should use its veto to block the resolution. The UN Security Council on Thursday postponed a vote on a draft resolution demanding that Israel halt its settlement activities as President-elect Donald Trump weighed in and said the United States should veto the measure. Egypt requested the delay to allow time for consultations, but no new time or date for the vote was scheduled. Saving the two-state solution
The draft resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
It states that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution” that would see an independent state of Palestine co-exist alongside Israel. Trump has chosen as ambassador to Israel the hardliner David Friedman, a man who has said Washington will not pressure Israel to curtail settlement building in the occupied West Bank. Egypt circulated the draft late Wednesday and a vote was initially scheduled for Thursday. Some in the Israeli government view Trump’s victory as an opportunity to expand settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian land occupied by Israel for nearly 50 years. “As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations,” he said.

Nigeria seizes shipment of fake plastic rice as food prices soar

A suspect has been arrested over the haul of 102 bags of the fake   rice, which officials warned Wednesday was dangerous for human consumption. “We have done a preliminary analysis of the plastic   rice. Nigeria has seized over 100 bags of plastic   rice smuggled into the country, where prices of the staple food are rocketing ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays. Nigeria has banned   rice   imports as it seeks to boost local production. Its   cost   is more than double   what it was in December last year. Haruna said the plastic   rice   was to be sold ahead of Christmas and New Year festivities, with the price for the popular Nigerian staple hitting the roof because of galloping inflation. Nigeria’s inflation stood at 18.5 percent in November, its 13th consecutive monthly rise, driven by higher food prices. They are suspected to have been smuggled or illegally shipped in from China through Lagos port, a senior customs official in Nigeria’s commercial hub told AFP. The bags, branded “Best Tomato   Rice,”   had no date of manufacture and were intercepted Monday in the Ikeja area of the sprawling city, the official said on condition of anonymity. The customs service has sent the fake   rice   to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control for further analysis. After boiling, it was sticky and only God knows what would have happened if people consumed it,” Ikeja area customs controller Mohammed Haruna was quoted as saying.

The Syrian army says they have fully retaken Aleppo

“The last four buses carrying terrorists and their families arrived in Ramussa,” a district south of Aleppo controlled by government forces, the channel said. The evacuation agreement was brokered by Russia, which launched air strikes in support of Assad’s regime last year, and Turkey, which has supported some rebel groups. The announcement came shortly after state television reported that the last convoy carrying rebels and civilians had left eastern Aleppo. “Thanks to the blood of our martyrs and the sacrifices of our valiant armed forces as well as allied forces … The Syrian army announced on Thursday that the country’s second city Aleppo has been fully recaptured from rebel fighters, the government’s biggest victory in the nearly six-year civil war. the general command of the armed forces announces the return of security to Aleppo after its release from terrorism and terrorists, and the departure of those who stayed there,” the army said in a statement. The United Nations said it had deployed observers to monitor the final evacuations, under a Security Council resolution adopted on Monday. Ahmed Qorra Ali, an official with the rebel group Ahrar al-Sham, confirmed that “the last convoy has left the rebel-controlled area.”
Earlier, the Red Cross said that more than 4,000 fighters had left rebel-held areas of the city in the “last stages” of the evacuation. Rebel forces, who seized control of east Aleppo in 2012, agreed to withdraw from the bastion after a month-long army offensive that drove them from more than 90 percent of their former territory.

How to save forests? Run them like a business, says this former Wall Street man.

The government owns it. The World Bank estimates the fires cost the country about $16 billion. And just last month, the Katingan Project got its final major government permit. “All pioneers, they either make it or they don’t make it. I’m still very optimistic that we will make it.”
Hartono hopes to finally start selling carbon credits next year. Then there’s the science: Measuring the carbon stored in the company’s 600 square miles of peat forest took two years, and then the methodology had to be verified by an independent carbon credit certification body called the VCS. “It has almost been nine years and we are still not making revenue. These patrols are popular in the villages that border the protected area. Credit:

Titis Setianingtyas

A big criticism of projects like Hartono’s is that they cut forests off from the people who’ve lived in and worked them for generations. Credit:

Titis Setianingtyas

But though Hartono says he’s been gaining the trust of communities year by year, his company has yet to make any money off of carbon credits. “I thought that in two years, we should be selling credits,” Hartono says. “Unlike the typical mineral soil,” Hartono says, “peat soil is actually dead wood, leaves and logs that become part of the soil.”

A fire tower on the southern edge of a protected area in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia helps fire patrols spot smoke. “It’s about, how can we provide livelihoods for communities so therefore they don’t cut the forest. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

Some see it as a test case for the kind of large, for-profit conservation projects needed to help slow global warming. “This makes life more difficult,” he says, “because I don’t have any income from it anymore. In the wet season, they clear firebreaks and build look-out posts. Wildfires in Indonesia last year cloaked huge parts of the country in black smoke for months. They use the forest like their families have for generations: They log it, they burn it, and they drain it for agriculture.  
“He came to me with this idea [that] you can actually protect rainforest and make money out of it,” Hartono says. He grew up in Indonesia but went to college and business school in New York. All I can do now is fish.”
“For young people who get jobs with [the Katingan Project], its impact is quite positive,” Masdansyah says. So Hartono set up the Katingan Project with his college friend-turned-business partner Kusumaatmadja, to capitalize on the emerging market. For a businessman used to the lightning-fast pace of Wall Street, that’s been difficult. “It would emit about 6 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent,” Hartono says. “Showing that a project like this can work and at the same time be financially viable is essential to being able to scale up and do this on multiple continents.”  
Balancing the needs of people and the forest
Saving the forest isn’t as easy as simply buying up land and not cutting down the trees, as Hartono has learned in the nine years since he started the Katingan Project. They create jobs and help prevent wildfires that destroy crops like rubber trees and pineapple plants. “Which is in this case close to about 5 million cars a year.”
Hartono’s job is to prevent that from happening. “We welcome the Katingan Project,” says a man named Bahrudin, the secretary of a village that borders the protected land. Credit:

Titis Setianingtyas

The layers of wood and decomposing leaves create a forest floor so thick it bounces when Hartono steps on it. About 43,000 people live in dozens of villages surrounding the project’s land. “The more I learned, the story’s actually not about the climate change,” Hartono says. Credit:

Carolyn Beeler

Under broiling tropical sun, small teams patrol the borders of the protected area, looking for wisps of smoke that are the only evidence of huge underground fires. The haze kept kids from school and caused a spike in respiratory problems. “This is the risk of being a pioneer,” Hartono says. “Suddenly my JP Morgan head blipped and said, ‘This is just like real estate,” Hartono says. Now that the land is inside the Katingan Project boundaries, he can’t farm the way he used to. If I would have known that this was going to be this complex, I would have walked away.”
Hartono attributes the slow start to the fact that this type of project is so new in Indonesia. Conflict over land tenure complicates conservation plans
The Katingan Project manages the land. The combination of new conservation laws and the presence of the Katingan Project has cut people off from what they consider to be their land. He did a stint on Wall Street, working in real estate for JP Morgan. Fire patrol leader Mohlazin clears a fire break near the Katingan Project’s protected area. “He gives people a platform to talk about what they want for their community, and then helps them work toward it.”
The key to conservation is in the people, not the land  
Hartono himself says he started this business focused on carbon credits and climate change. “But for old men like me, life is more difficult.”

Dharsono Hartono, far left, speaks at a community meeting in a village bordering the Katingan Project’s protected area in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.   
“When there’s no water, you can just throw a match and they’ll just catch fire,” Hartono says of peat forests. Indonesian conservationists say the slow launch of Hartono’s carbon credit project has allowed him to work closely with community members to develop alternatives to slash and burn agriculture and logging. Hartono knows that all over Indonesia, this carbon-rich type of forest is being burned or cleared for palm oil or paper pulp plantations. “We’re happy.”
Bahrudin and many of his neighbors are rubber farmers, and a big fire last year wiped out some of his village’s crop. “If you manage it properly, there will be value, there will be appreciation, you can make money out of it.”
The idea of making money on forest preservation was relatively new in 2007, but it was about to take off. Getting the right government permits has been a bureaucratic nightmare. But other parts of the Katingtan Project’s fire control plan are more controversial. It signaled that national governments may soon start buying carbon credits to offset their countries’ pollution. But when he looks down from the fire tower with his businessman’s eye, Hartono is more interested in the soil than anything he could plant in it. If that happened on his land, one wayward spark could cost Hartono’s company millions. “Now I can’t do anything with my land,” says a man named Masdansyah, who lives in a riverside village built on stilts and boardwalks. Read more here. All those decomposing plants contain lots of carbon, which means peat forests store more greenhouse gases than a regular tropical rainforest. An unlikely conservationist
Hartono doesn’t have the background of a typical conservationist.  
His company won’t be the first to sell carbon credits based on forest protection — forest carbon was an $88 million   industry last year — but Hartono’s is one of the largest and most ambitious projects of its kind in the world. He used to harvest trees and burn a plot of land   for farming outside of town. If the forest in front of Hartono were converted to plantations like much of Borneo already has been, tons of carbon would be freed from the soil and released into the atmosphere, where it would contribute to global warming. But because it’s taken nearly a decade for Hartono to launch his business, some in the Indonesian conservation community say he’s put in the time to make sure local communities don’t get left behind when their backyards are converted into protected areas. A coconut farmer in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan climbs a tree to harvest coconut nectar that will be made into sugar. So he’s set up fire patrols in 19 villages surrounding Katingan Project land. Hartono is good at asking questions, and is just as comfortable talking to local farmers about their new cover crops as he is talking with investors. This story is part of The World’s Fighting for Forests series from Indonesia. And that is a problem. A big UN meeting in Indonesia that same year flagged forest preservation as a key way to fight climate change. They don’t burn the forest.”
Along with hiring people for fire patrols, the Katingan Project is teaching farmers alternatives to slash and burn agriculture and trying to develop a coconut sugar industry in one town bordering the protected area. He is the CEO and co-founder of the Katingan Project, which manages 600 square miles of land in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan. Anything that could prevent another blaze has his approval. “We need to show that projects like this can work at very large scale,” says Alex Lord, project manager at Permian Global, an investment firm backing the Katingan Project. Hartono was back in Indonesia by 2007, when an old Cornell friend named Rezal Kusumaatmadja approached him with the idea of protecting forests for a profit. But some residents in the surrounding towns have long considered portions of it theirs in a traditional land tenure system. That certification finally came through in October this year. “Dharsono knows how to approach the people, he listens to people’s needs,” says Happy Rezkiana, a regional environmental official in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan. And to make sure his company turns a profit along the way.  
The project aims to protect the peat forest, then sell carbon credits based on the amount of greenhouse gasses they can keep sequestered in the ground. The sun is just starting to dip toward the horizon in Indonesian Borneo, and Dharsono Hartono is standing on a fire tower, looking out over a peat forest falling into shadow.

Southeast Asia is experiencing a thrilling wave of species discovery

Another “Klingon Newt” resting by the Thai-Myanmar border. But they no longer have to reach its shores via creaky sailboats. “Not many people would immediately notice [the Klingon newt] if they came across it in the forest. “There are still a lot of unexplored areas,” says Jimmy Borah, a Southeast Asia-based program manager with the World Wildlife Fund. “But if you look deeply, you’d be surprised by how many species you can find,” Borah says. (Researchers have already dubbed it the “Ziggy Stardust” snake.)

Researchers call this recently found creature the “Ziggy Stardust” snake. Ideally, the Klingon newt will persevere — but if it doesn’t, it wouldn’t be the first creature to get wiped out within a mere decade of its discovery. As the term “sixth extinction” suggests, there were five others in the past. They might say, ‘This snake has a rainbow on its head so that’ll give you power.’ It’s pretty easy to convince consumers.”
At this point, there’s no way of knowing how many Klingon newts or Ziggy Stardust snakes are wriggling around Southeast Asia. Humans clock in around 30 percent. The world’s scientists know that places such as Madagascar, for example, are rife with undocumented creatures. The newt’s toes and tail are creamsicle orange, a striking contrast to its ochre-brown torso. Its head is shaped like a hexagon. In fact, if you exclude small critters, most hot-blooded creatures standing on the Earth’s surface live their entire lives in captivity. Credit:

Courtesy of the World Wildlife Fund. They’re severely outnumbered by domesticated animals such as dogs and chickens. Credit:

Wikimedia Commons/Penprapa Wut

This is not just an Asian phenomenon. Researchers aren’t certain how many species go extinct each year; after all, we don’t know how many we haven’t yet discovered. But they do know it’s highly sensitive to man-made poisons in the form of pesticides. Now it’s among a wave of species discovered in and around the Mekong River. “Whenever a new species is discovered,” Borah says, “illegal wildlife traders will think, ‘Oh, there’s a new species here. This pace is owed in large part to technology: online archiving, precision DNA tests and cheap flights to remote lands. Centuries after we began cataloging plants and animals in earnest, humans are still finding loads of new ones. Researchers such as Borah also worry about another human threat: jungle poachers. Credit:

Courtesy of the World Wildlife Fund

This type of creature would be easy to market within a global illicit wildlife trade — centered in Asia — that rakes in an estimated $10 billion per year. Thanks to humans, much of the planet’s sentient life is now narrowed down to a band of lifeforms that we like to eat. Or rather, a Klingon’s forehead that somehow sprouted tiny limbs. It dwells near the Thai-Myanmar border in a province called Chiang Rai. Scientists don’t know much about the newt at this point. Many ecologists believe the world is now suffering through the “sixth extinction,” a catastrophic mass death of species. Yet they’re pitted against humanity’s destructive hand in a race to catalogue as many species as possible before they’re eradicated. “Whenever a new species is discovered,” Borah says, “it becomes easy for poachers to throw out some new superstitious idea. Until recently, this creature — full name, tylototriton anguliceps — was one of them. Harari puts it succinctly: “Homo Sapiens has rewritten the rules of the game. This single ape species has managed within 70,000 years to change the global ecosystem in radical and unprecedented ways.”
So what does all this mean for creatures like the little Klingon newt? Those catastrophes were caused by ice ages and asteroids. But the river is, in fact, a great giver of life — much of it slithering. According to the macro-historian Yuval Noah Harari, livestock accounts for roughly 60 percent of the Earth’s biomass, at least when it comes to animals larger than a few pounds. Maybe we can sell it for our own profit.’”
He cites the example of a snake, recently discovered in Laos, with brilliant irridescent colors shimmering on its head. Scientists trudging through the Greater Mekong region are finding a surprising number of previously uncatalogued species. Actually spotting new creatures means sticking your nose in rotting logs or checking under rocks — both choice hangouts for the Klingon lizard. For biologists, tracking down and identifying new species is easier than ever before. But this one is brought on by human activity. Wild animals? The sort of creatures usually evoked by the word “wild animal” — say, a tiger or a fox — are increasingly hard to find. All together, the creature looks remarkably like a Klingon. In fact, in a good year, we can rack up as many as 20,000 newly discovered species. Most people would think, ‘Oh, it’s just a lizard.’ But there are people looking for new species that can spot all kinds of morphological differences.”
Scientists who hunt new species are enjoying what some environmentalists call a “golden age of discovery.” When it comes to wildlife preservation — often a horribly depressing subject — this is a rare bit of upbeat news. Maybe 10 percent. At this point, neither are fully protected by the core international treaties that attempt to protect wildlife from smugglers. Its causes are varied but involve climate change, deforestation, poaching and industrial farming. The jungles of Southeast Asia are teeming with undiscovered species. But some estimates suggest the planet loses 150 per day. “There’s a lot of energy involved in finding new species,” Borah says. But its defining feature is a craggy ridge of bones along its back and skull. But don’t get too comfortable. In the minds of many Americans, the river recalls death; its delta region saw gruesome battles following the US invasion of Vietnam. “We’re finding more than two per week.”

A 2011 map of the Mekong River, highlighting its fertile delta.

How a major American museum gave its exhibits a dye job — for authenticity’s sake

In the next year, the team will host a workshop on retreating mammal hair, designed for museum professionals and other conservators who care for historic taxidermy. As an aid to their inquiry, the team acquired a time-traveling device of sorts: an accelerated aging chamber, which artificially speeds up the toll that time would naturally take on an object. “We’re coming up with ways of representing what we’ve found — different visual representations of how to ‘rank the dyes’” based on how lightfast they are, Ritchie says. For example, in the bison exhibit, “the painted specimens and the background were still nice and brown, [but] then the taxidermy specimens had faded to about a blond color,” Ritchie says.  

Fran Ritchie inspecting dyed quartz plates in front of the accelerated aging chamber. They applied different dye solutions onto quartz plates — which are inert, durable, and optically pure — and then placed the plates into the chamber and blasted them with the “equivalent of three suns’ worth of energy,” says Ritchie. To that end, they’re mixing the dyes with a variety of solvents—including acetone, ethanol, and isopropanol—to find out which combinations are the most stable after airbrushing onto animal hair. The museum conservators found that if they mixed these powdered dyes with a solvent but left out the binder, they produced a lightfast (that is, fade-resistant) medium that looked natural when airbrushed onto hair.  

Credit:

Courtesy of   AMNH/F.  

Credit:

Courtesy of   AMNH Natural Science Conservation

The new bulbs revealed one glaring problem in particular concerning the taxidermied animals, some of which had been on display since 1942: Their scientific accuracy was quite literally   fading away. “We’re hoping this will tell us whether hair makes a good dye go bad — if a lightfast dye becomes a non-lightfast dye due to hair interaction,” Ritchie says. “Of course, in nature, animals are different colors. Commercial dyes generally require a lot of water, which can warp the skin, and acrylic paints make the hair feel matted and stiff, she says. Then they’ll use a spectrophotometer to measure how much light the hair transmits or reflects (faded dye won’t reflect as much light). The team’s main objective is to test and rank the metal complex dyes by their lightfastness. Using these dyes, the AMNH completed the renovation of the Hall of North American Mammals in 2012. Such   chemicals consist of dye molecules and a   transition metal   ion, like chromium, copper, or cobalt (the ion makes the dye soluble so that it can react with fiber). The bison diorama, before and after re-dyeing, in the Hall of North American Mammals. “You really need to know how materials will degrade over time, how they’ll interact with each other over time, and what can be the most stable so that you don’t risk harming your precious object by something that you did to it.”
This story was first published by Science Friday with Ira Flatow. The conservators weren’t sure how long the dyes would last before the animals would have to be re-treated, however. That’s when museum conservators realized that their displays could use a makeover. Ritchie

By the time the project wraps up next fall, the team hopes to have collected enough data to inform the creation of a set of openly accessible best practices for retreating mammal taxidermy in museums in the future. “I liken it to when you do renovations or re-do your living room in your own home, and you might replace the blinds or the couch, and then when you do that, you realize you should really take a look at everything else,” says Fran Ritchie, a project conservator at the museum. The team is now moving on to a second phase of testing, which will involve   spraying the most promising dyes onto white deer hair and exposing those samples to the aging chamber. After that, the conservators plan to spray dye onto bison hair, stick those samples into the chamber, and then use a Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy machine to see if the dye degrades the hair. They also compared the aged plates to dyed swatches exposed to the museum lights, to better determine what the real-time equivalent is to a stint in the aging chamber. Finnin

Using the machine, conservators have already completed an initial phase of testing, which entailed studying   how the dyes weather on their own, before being sprayed onto hair. The museum   found its solution in metal complex dyes, which are often used in printing inks. It’s possible that these standards might become a sort of protocol for recoloring and retreatment practices for natural history museums as well as art institutions, says Ritchie.  

Credit:

Courtesy of   AMNH/D.  

Project intern Caitlin Richeson preparing fur cup samples using fox hair. The chamber is equipped with three xenon arc lamps that mimic daylight, and settings for adjusting the relative humidity and temperature inside. But there is a certain point where it gets out of the natural realm of that species, and that’s the point that the museum had reached.”
Reviving the color of the animals’ fur would require a more tailored approach than historic restoration methods. “There’s very little published information about this, and so we’re really hoping to contribute to the field of art conservation in general through this project,” Ritchie says. In 2011, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City changed out the light bulbs illuminating the dioramas in the Hall of North American Mammals in an effort to conserve energy. To find out, they partnered with the Yale University Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage in 2013, bringing together a team of conservators, scientists, and consulting taxidermists, with additional support from curators and exhibition staff. Just like humans, their hair color can vary. In the past, museum taxidermists might have used acrylic paint or commercial dyes like those found in the drugstore, but such products would be harmful to the fragile hide of their mounted specimens, Ritchie explains.

How Putin has created the mirage of media pluralism in Russia

 
These developments have been especially troubling given the state of other media options in Russia. He says Timchenko was replaced with a new editor-in-chief, “who was known to be, so-to-speak, the Kremlin’s guy.”
Those still working inside Russia have had many more difficulties, says Gorbachev.  
Gorbachev says there are any number of ways journalists are under threat — “either through your business, like hurting your business — your media business — or the primary business of your owner. America Abroad   is an award-winning documentary radio program that takes an in-depth look at one critical issue in international affairs and US   foreign policy every month.  
“The internet is still relatively free. If you want, if I could use the expression nourishing of civil society, the democratic idea, democratic culture, ideas that would be useful in public policy for opposition parties and politicians, either not so much or he who pursues those courses runs afoul of authorities and can be pressured, intimidated   or end up in jail.”
Anne Garrels, a former NPR foreign correspondent, says it’s still possible to find independent news online but it comes with a few big caveats. It’s a very effective way of dealing with it.”
But despite these risks, Gorbachev notes   that there are still some journalists doing good work. Not at all like the Soviet Union, lots on offer. He has decided that mass media is very important in Russia, television.   
“Putin is not the leader of the Soviet Union and that is meant in more ways than one. This is not a communist totalitarian state in a pre-high-tech era where he could block, and jam, and manage, and control the information space. What he’s done is he’s created the image or the idea of pluralism.”
Still, Gedmin says print publications are limited in their scope of coverage. In Russia, while some direct censorship does occur, a bigger issue is self-censorship; people are afraid of the ramifications of writing or saying something that may offend the government. It was founded in 2014 by Galina Timchenko, the former head of lenta.ru, one of Russia’s biggest news websites. He notes in November, Igor Sechin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and head of the state-owned oil company Rosneft, won a high-profile lawsuit against the Russian newspaper Vedomosti. But what has he done?  

A screenshot of the article in the Russian newspaper Vedomosti   about Igor Sechin, says in Russian, “Material removed by the court.”  

Credit:

Screenshot  

Gorbachev considers the verdict against Vedomosti   an affront to all Russian journalists. Or through direct censorship, blocking some websites or demanding some websites that, for example, they delete articles because of privacy violations.”
Meduza covers Russian politics from Latvia, outside the reach of the Russian government. Gorbachev notes that if Sechin, one of the most powerful men in the country, can hide behind libel laws, that makes it nearly impossible to hold accountable any of Russia’s elite. Timchenko was fired following Lenta’s publication of an interview with a Ukrainian far-right nationalist leader, which included a link to a profile that a media regulator said promoted “ethnic hatred.” Gorbachev was also working at Lenta at the time. Sechin was incensed that the paper published a story about an expensive country house he owns.  
“I think I painted a pretty grim picture, I wouldn’t say that it’s as grim as it may seem. You can follow them on   Facebook, talk to them on   Twitter, and subscribe to their   weekly newsletter   for updates. There are, not many, but, a bunch of very good independent news organizations in Russia, like newspapers, websites that do investigative stuff, dig things about corruption and power abuse.”
The question remains, how long will these organizations be able to last? There are discussions there, but anybody who begins to become too popular, who begins to challenge the authorities in a real way, will certainly find himself under threat, usually by the tax police. He says that because much of television and radio is state-run, print is one of the last bastions of independent journalism. 41. Freedom of the press is a right ingrained in Americans. The US was No. According to Reporters Without Borders, in 2016 Russia ranked 148 out of 180 nations in terms of press freedom. In Russia, press freedoms can’t be taken for granted. He has decided that small print publications with modest circulation where intellectuals publish is less important, tolerate that a little bit.  
“There ain’t much to it when you scratch the surface because, in Russia, if you want to have information about cars, or sports, or fashion, or entertainment, or travel, there’s lots of it. The court found the article violated Sechin’s right to privacy and not only ordered the online article removed but also demanded all surviving copies of the newspaper containing the article be destroyed. He   and many of his colleagues quit their jobs after Timchenko’s firing, because they felt they would not be allowed to be independent. “The Russian judicial system is pretty much very corrupted and mostly controlled by the government,” says Gorbachev. “It’s harder than before to practice independent journalism, just because there are a lot of ways that the government can basically confront you,” says Aleksandr Gorbachev, features editor at Meduza, an independent news outlet. Jeffrey Gedmin is a nonresident senior fellow for the Future Europe Initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Germany struggles with the issue of deportations

Schuster says another thing migrants can do to avoid deportation is relocate to a more liberal jurisdiction within Germany, such as Berlin, where authorities are reluctant to put people on the path to quick deportation.  

Credit:

Shane McMillan  

Deporting people from Germany can appear to be extremely slow, costly and complicated. “When you look at the German mentality, on one side there is great humanity and respect for people’s well-being,” Schuster says. Wasem said that doesn’t mean, however, that the prison is not a necessary part of the overall immigration system. “You have to look at every single case,” Wasem says. This means an estimated 550,000 people living across the country right now are facing deportation orders. “What would we do if we were born somewhere else?”  

Peter Wasem says Germany is only beginning to seriously discuss immigration and what to do about hundreds of thousands of people facing possible deportation. “It’s important in a liberal, constitutional country to see every single case and make sure that there is no inhumanity. Credit:

Shane McMillan  

Peter Wasem knows about deportation. “But on the other hand, Germans value order, discipline and law.”  
“You can’t deny this. While it has the   capacity for 100 prisoners, only 12 people were being held there on the day that I visited. “Of course you have to deport,” Wasem says. The far-right Alternative for Germany party — or AfD, as it’s known — is already making political hay out of the immigration issue. These critics say Afghanistan is too dangerous for Germany to be sending people there. “But we have to make sure that those who need support, need our help, who need to stay here because they would be killed or tortured in their home countries, [that they] stay here.”  
“We are talking about human beings,” he adds. “Because if you don’t deport [anyone], no one is leaving voluntarily.”  
Even if the prison was entirely empty, he says it would still serve the important purpose: “To show [that] you are confident about the deportation [system], that you are strong.”  

The prison at the Eisenhüttenstadt Refugee Center can hold up to 100 prisoners, but it has been mostly empty   in recent months. They also offered a reward of more $100,000 for information leading to his arrest. And many of them are still receiving public assistance. If migrants lose or throw away their identity papers, that can make it difficult to identify them and have them sent out of the country. Last week, for instance, when authorities put about 50 Afghans on a charter flight to Afghanistan, protesters showed up at the Frankfurt airport. If people become sick, pregnant   or they injure themselves just before their deportation date, that can put the process on hold. This fact is going to fuel an already intense debate about the large number of people who have entered Germany recently and failed to win official permission to stay in the country as refugees. But others see the problem differently. Wasem is the director of the deportation prison in Eisenhüttenstadt, about 80 miles east of Berlin, which handles immigration cases for the German state of Brandenburg. The terrorism suspect had reportedly applied for asylum in Germany but had been rejected, and was facing a deportation order. AfD supporters say this week’s deadly attack in Berlin was a direct result of Merkel’s lax policies on immigration. That takes time, and you always have cases where you [must] decide you can’t deport them right now.”  
At the current pace, it would take decades for Germany to deport the bulk of those people in the country facing deportation orders. One segment of the German public argues that stepping up the pace of deportations would be a mistake. But as someone who actually carries out deportations, Wasem says there is one thing that he hopes the German public will keep in mind. They would point to the fact that 12,000 people from Afghanistan residing in Germany have been given deportation orders. But the prison that Wasem runs is mostly empty. But he says numerous hurdles for deporting people whose applications for asylum have been rejected will remain in place. But in the first half of this year, only 18 were deported. Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. In 2016, Wasem says his staff has helped deport about 170 people and facilitated about 500 voluntary departures. About a million people have entered Germany in the last one to two years, and more than half of them have had their applications for asylum rejected. PRI.org

Authorities said they were looking for Anis Amri, a Tunisian man in his 20s who could be armed and dangerous. Peter Wasem, head of deportation at the Eisenhüttenstadt Refugee Center, gives a tour of the prison used to hold deportees. And if you ignore the law, it creates great tension in German society.”  
Schuster is working on a plan to tighten security and immigration procedures along Germany’s borders. German police went public on Wednesday with the name of their main suspect in Monday’s truck attack that killed 12 people and injured nearly 50 more at a Christmas market in west Berlin. For many Germans, one detail about Amri’s story will jump out: his immigration status. But Wasem says there are some good reasons for that. “We need to make sure that those who are harming us, those who are not supposed to be here, [they] need to leave the country,” Wasem says. “It can’t stay that way,” says Armin Schuster, a member of the German parliament from the Christian Democratic Union, the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Credit:

Shane McMillan   “There needs to be a more honest political discussion about what to do” with these hundreds of thousands of people, Schuster says.

Why Montreal has a Charlie Brown Christmas tree

PRI.org

In fact, it was supposed to rival the Christmas tree at New York City’s Rockefeller Center. It was supposed to be Canada’s tallest Christmas tree.Player utilitiesPopout
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— Adrian Speyer (@adrianspeyer) December 11, 2016
“It’s quite bent and obviously missing a lot of branches,” New York Times   Canada correspondent Ian Austen said. Montreal’s ugly Charlie Brown Xmas tree isn’t so bad at night, but a bit lopsided. He wrote about the tree’s shortcomings. I think it’s awesome. “It was a classic story of over-ambition and lack of money,” says Austen. A giant balsam fir tree in the Canadian city of Montreal is being compared to that   classic Charlie Brown Christmas tree. #KissMeImUgly #Sapingate #SapinHaters.”
But just like Charlie Brown’s tree, there is some love for this one. @UglyTreeMTL
— Johnnycanuck (@johnmerrithew) December 17, 2016
#Montreal must embrace its awful #ChristmasTree. And it didn’t hold up well on that journey. One sad tree in Montreal   pic.twitter.com/jYu1d0qTXo
— Brad Yule (@BradYule) December 8, 2016
Leave it to Montreal to install a tree so ugly it makes international news. Turn the fail into a win. “Come see the exact opposite of the #NewYork Rockafeller Tree!”
— Tim Parent (@timparent) December 7, 2016
Hey! A small tree delivery company in Montreal wanted to put up a festive tree that would be the largest in Canada. Branches fell off along the way, and now it’s become the subject of ridicule on social media. We kinda like our giant albeit crooked Christmas tree…that’s why we’re Montreal
— Andres Manniste (@amanniste) December 17, 2016 Montreal has its own Charlie Brown Christmas tree. But it fell a bit short and more than a bit skinny. Get over it! The 88-foot tree is not only droopy, gangly and lopsided, but decorated with mini red triangles that are the logo for a home goods store. But the tree that was chosen had to be hauled on a flatbed truck from southern Ontario. Not exactly an artistic masterpiece. — Marco Sav (@MarcoSav93) December 8, 2016
It even has its own mock Twitter account:   @sapinlaid, which translates to “ugly fir.” Tweets say things like: “I am thin and unkempt and poorly decorated and that’s all.