All this month, we've been telling you about a fantastic challenge from the Encyclopedia of Life. Called Armchair Taxonomist, it's an opportunity to research and write about different plants, animals, fungi, and microscopic organisms — and, in the process, help move scientific information from places where it's hard for most people to see, to an open-access sandbox on the Internet.
If you've taken the time to write up an entry, fantastic. We're looking forward to reading them. You've also got a shot at the great stuff up for grabs — including a private, behind the scenes tour of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. If you've not entered yet, though, this is the last weekend you can. The deadline is Monday, May 20th at 6:00 pm Eastern.
The Source Family was a radical, utopian social experiment that emerged from the Los Angeles freak scene in the 1970s. Operating out of a hip health food restaurant owned by judo master/bank robber/accused murderer Jim Baker, aka Father Yod, The Source Family was everything you could want in a post-hippie, West Coast outsider spiritual trip. And they had a rock band too! Thanks to our pal Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos's absolutely fantastic new documentary now in theaters about Father Yod and his "children," interest in The Source Family and their band, Ya Ho Wa 13, has never been greater. The film, titled The Source Family: A Documentary, was inspired by The Source: The Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and the Source Family, written by family members Isis Aquarian and Electricity Aquarian, edited by Jodi, and published by our pals Process Media. To complete the full transmedia Source Family experience, Drag City is releasing The Source Family soundtrack, a collection of choice tunes from the nine albums that The Source Family recorded between 1973 and 1974. Boing Boing is pleased to premier this free stream of the entire album, The Source Family soundtrack, available next week on CD and, of course, vinyl. Far fucking out.
José Ceto Cabo, an Ixil civil war survivor who runs a small NGO that aids fellow Ixil survivors, leads Miles and Xeni to a clandestine grave from the armed conflict war. Photo by Xeni Jardin.
GUATEMALA CITY -- When the trial of Guatemalan General and former de facto head of state José Efraín Ríos Montt and his then chief of intelligence José Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez began on March 19, 2013, I was in Washington D.C., working with PBS NewsHour correspondent Miles O’Brien on some new science reporting projects in a shared office. The first time I went to Guatemala was around 1989, during the country’s 36-year internal armed conflict -- I was a teenager, and the experience was one of the most important and formative of my life. My interest in the peace and justice process following the end of the armed conflict and the lives of the Guatemalan people, has only grown since. So I was happy to learn that Guatemalan independent online media groups were in the courtroom with laptops and modems, live-streaming video and audio of tribunal proceedings.
I tuned in as soon as court opened at 8:30 every morning, Guatemala time. And in our shared D.C. office, over a course of weeks, every day Miles and I worked while listening to audio streaming over the internet from that courtroom far away in Guatemala City. The background audio of our workdays included witness testimonies; defense lawyers yelling at the judges; and elderly Ixil Maya women weeping as they re-told the horrors of being raped, and watching their children, brothers, mothers, and grandfathers be killed.
Both of us were trying to do other work at the time, unrelated to this story. But neither of us could turn away, or turn off the audio, even as the stories grew more graphic, more upsetting, more awful with each witness. Imagine the worst possible thing one human being can do to another. Each testimony was like that, but each in a new and seemingly more horrific way than the last.
Photo: James Rodriguez, mimundo.org. An Ixil Mayan woman listens to Spanish-Ixil translation in the courtroom during the historic genocide trial against former de facto dictator Efrain Rios Montt and his head of Intelligence Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez. Both are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity committed against the Ixil Mayan people during their de facto reign from March 1982 to August 1983.
Here in Guatemala City, the trial of José Efraín Ríos Montt and José Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez re-opened for the 25th session, moments ago. The trial began on March 19, and has stopped and started in fits and starts over the last month, as lawyers for the defense pursue tactics to delay (and, ultimately, stop) the proceedings. The Open Society Justice Initiative has a solid, easy-to-read analysis by
Jo-Marie Burt on where things stand (or more specifically, where they stood before doors opened 10 minutes ago).
Photo: James Rodriguez, a US-Mexican documentary photographer based in Guatemala since 2006, traveled to the State of Siege zone to document the conditions last week in Jalapa and Santa Rosa Guatemala.
I am publishing this post from inside the courtroom, which was less than half full today—there was much confusion over the last 48 hours about whether the trial could be suspended entirely. Rios Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez showed up this morning without attorney Garcia Gudiel, who literally called in sick. Judge Yassmin Barrios briefly responseded to an array of recent court rulings, said "There is no annulment of the trial," then suspended the trial for the day. She indicated to Rios Montt that if Gudiel remains unavailable, he may call back his previous defense team, who walked out of the courtroom in protest on Apr 19.
No one is entirely sure what will happen tomorrow.
Here is Episode #10 of their ongoing series of web updates from the trial, "An Attempt to Decimate the Future." In this episode, a Maya Ixil woman testifies before the court about sexual violence she survived. In the audience, women cover their heads in solidarity. The woman displaying this incredible act of courage was one of 98 Ixil survivors, men and women, who testified as criminal witnesses in the trial. Proceedings are due to resume tomorrow after several weeks of legal wrangling between lawyers for the defense and various Guatemalan courts.
The "Code Monkey Saves World" project is about to stretch itself into the world of kickass princesses. Troubadour Jonathan Coulton and filmmaker and comics writer Greg Pak teamed up a few weeks ago to launch a crowdfunding effort to raise $39,000 to create a series of comic books based on the villains and other characters from Coulton's songs. On their way to blow past $200,000 in pledges, the dynamic duo added more pages to the future comics, promised JoCo would record an album of newly recorded acoustic versions of the songs referenced in the comics, and provided other rewards, most of which existing backers get added without having to increase their pledge.
Pak and Coulton have at least one more rabbit to pull out of their jointly worn hat: a children's book created from "The Princess Who Saved Herself," the title of which explains the song.
Photo: Troops entering the region around a disputed mining site, shortly after the declaration of a State of Siege by the government of Guatemala. Photo: guatemala.gob.gt.
Photo: Carlos Andrino. "Caserío los Lopez. Santa Lucia Xalapan. Jalapa." May 2, 2013, Guatemala.
[Posted from Guatemala City]
Residents of four towns east of Guatemala's capital woke up to news that their communities had been placed under a 30-day State of Siege by the administration of President Otto Perez Molina, following anti-mining protests that turned violent. One policeman was killed, six civilians were wounded by rubber bullets, and a number of police cars were burned and overturned on roadways. Here is the government's official public announcement. Public gatherings in the area are banned for 30 days.
This is the second story in a four-part, weekly series on taxonomy and speciation. It's meant to help you as you participate in Armchair Taxonomist — a challenge from the Encyclopedia of Life to bring scientific descriptions of animals, plants, and other living things out from behind paywalls and onto the Internet. Participants can earn cool prizes, so be sure to check it out!
On the sixth floor of New York's American Museum of Natural History — far away from the throngs of tourists and packs of schoolkids — there is a cold, white room, filled with white, metal cabinets.
The cabinets are full of dead things; leeches, sea anemones, lobsters ... any kind of invertebrate you can imagine. Even a giant squid. All of them have been carefully preserved. Each soaks in its own, luxuriant ethanol bath. Here they sit, some for a hundred years or more, waiting for scientists to pull them out into the light.
It's a bit like the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but for slimy, crawly, spineless things. There are collections like this all over the world, containing every species of animal, plant, and microscopic organism. Together, they serve as a record of Earth's biodiversity, a library of life. In them, you'll find more than just random specimens. Some of the individuals are special. Called "type specimens", they serve as ambassadors for their species, real-world models that define what each species is. For instance, the leech species Myxobdella maculata is both a group of leeches and exactly one leech — A leech that I got to meet on a behind-the-scenes tour with invertebrate curators Estefania Rodriguez and Mark Siddall.
Ixil witnesses inside the courtroom, Tue. Apr. 30, 2013. At center, Maria Sajiq of Nebaj, Quiché, Guatemala. Ms. Sajiq was among the survivors Miles O'Brien and I interviewed in Nebaj recently, for a forthcoming PBS NewsHour report. (Photo: Xeni Jardin)
I am blogging from inside the Supreme Court of Guatemala, where Judge Jazmin Barrios has just re-started the genocide trial of Efrain Rios Montt and Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez after a two-week suspension, during which a series of obscure legal battles took place.
PHOTO: James Rodríguez/mimundo.org. "Protest demanding continuation of Genocide trial aganst Rios Montt."
A brief Saturday update from Guatemala, where the genocide trial of former US-backed military dictator Rios Montt and his head of military intelligence Rodriguez Sanchez has been on hold after a series of legal actions involving various Guatemalan courts.
The sense here today is that the trial could possibly reconvene next week, following Friday's hearing by Judge Carol Patricia Flores involving one set of disputed procedural details. But whether or when the trial will resume is not clear just yet.
In Guatemala City today, a demonstration to honor Monsignor Juan José Gerardi Conedera, and to call for the genocide trial of Rios Montt to continue. Image: NISGUA.
Today here in Guatemala, demonstrators marched through the streets of the capital to honor the life of Bishop Juan Gerardi, a Catholic priest and human rights champion. He was beaten to death 15 years ago today, two days after releasing a report about victims of the country's 36-year internal armed conflict. Gerardi has become even more of a hero since what the faithful describe as "his martyrdom."
In the past few weeks of my travels here in Guatemala, I have visited a number of Catholic churches; his name and his image appear often, with great reverence. At the central church in Nebaj, part of the Ixil Maya area at the center of the historic Rios Montt genocide trial, I snapped this photo of Gerardi's inclusion in a memorial to civilian victims of the armed conflict.
In the central church of Nebaj, Quiché, Guatemala, Bishop Juan Gerardi is honored in a memorial to civilian victims of the internal armed conflict. Image: Xeni Jardin.
The 15th anniversary of Bishop Gerardi's death comes at a time when Guatemala is once again experiencing a wave of polarizing rhetoric around human rights and post-armed-conflict justice issues—rhetoric that includes damning words for the Catholic church.
One example: "The Farce of Genocide," a recent paid campaign in a major Guatemalan newspaper by Guatemala's "Foundation Against Terrorism"(Fundación Contra El Terrorismo; blog, Facebook). The group was founded by Ricardo Méndez Ruíz, whose father was a military officer and minister of the interior under Rios Montt. The 20-page newspaper insert warned of an "International Marxist Conspiracy" transmitted through the Catholic Church; it included archival photographs said to be proof of "[Catholic] nuns manipulating indigenous people against" the US-backed former military dictator at the center of the current genocide trial.