Quetzal–an ancient symbol of Liberty

July 26, 2011

The Quetzal was the nahual (spirit guide)  of Tecún Umán (1500-1524), a warrior who was the last ruler of the Quiche Mayan people (in the highlands of Guatemala) during the latter stages of the Spanish conquest of the region.  Legend has it that when Tecún Umán was slain by conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, the quetzal flew down and landed on Umán, dipping its chest in the warrior prince’s blood.  It is there that the bird acquired its distinctive red chest feathers. (from www.3833.com)

“The name quetzal is an ancient Mayan term for tail feather, and the bird itself represents liberty. Ancient people believed the Quetzal would not survive in captivity, it would rather die than be held prisoner. So rather than killing these birds for their feathers, the Maya would pluck them and set the birds free to grow new feathers. Unfortunately this has since proved false and Quetzals can be viewed in zoos throughout the world.” (From wildernessclassroom.com)

To hear the song of this bird, click on  http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/quetzal/ and choose the “Audio” link

From National Geographic.com:

“The resplendent quetzal is an aptly named bird that many consider among the world’s most beautiful. These vibrantly colored animals live in the mountainous, tropical forests of Central America where they eat fruit, insects, lizards, and other small creatures….”

“Unfortunately, these striking birds are threatened in Guatemala and elsewhere throughout their range. They are sometimes trapped for captivity or killed, but their primary threat is the disappearance of their tropical forest homes. In some areas, most notably Costa Rica’s cloud forests, protected lands preserve habitat for the birds and provide opportunities for ecotourists and eager bird watchers from around the globe.

Such admirers continue a long history of adoration for the quetzal. The bird was sacred to the ancient Maya and Aztec peoples, and royalty and priests wore its feathers during ceremonies.”

Other facts:

– The quetzal is Guatemala’s national bird; it’s on the flag, coat of arms, and currency, which is named a “quetzal.”

– The quetzal eats wild avocado, and has a symbiotic relationship with the avocado (being the primary animal to distribute its seeds).

– The quetzal is the equivalent to the N. American bald eagle as a symbol of liberty in South America.

Meet Coyote

July 26, 2011

Do you always imagine smugglers to be brawny men with stealthy composures?  Think again!  The following articles reveal the current and historical significance of female borderland smugglers, also known as “coyotes”:

Women Are the New Coyotes

Death of a Border Queen

Birds & Tower Kills 3

July 22, 2011

Okay, here’s some “overkill” on the Birds & Cell Phone Tower Threat–see the previous two posts if you want the summarized version, but if you’re REALLY interested in this topic, try these websites:

Sibley Guides:  Causes of Bird Mortality





Birds & Tower Kills 2

July 22, 2011


“…Our TV and cell phone habits are contributing to the deaths of millions of migratory birds a year. The birds collide with the communications towers …and with the cables that anchor the towers. Those towers become sky-high death traps for birds, who then drop in grass, streets, parks, and fields, and on rooftops….conservation groups and government biologists estimate that communications towers kill from 4 to 50 million birds a year. They endanger or threaten at least 50 species….

The construction of new towers is deadly news for migratory birds. The tower-bird collisions occur (1) during spring and fall migrations, and (2) at night, when songbirds travel to avoid the heat and daytime predators. For birds, such as whooping cranes, that fly during the day but cannot see the power lines, the towers and lines are the Number One migration danger.

…Many of these nighttime travelers can cross oceans and navigate mountain ranges. What makes them crash into the blinking, lighted towers? Scientists aren’t certain. The worst kills happen when a flock, which might number half a million, flaps toward a lighted tower. Something about the lights attracts the birds. Red beacons seem to draw birds more than other lights do, although studies suggest that red wavelengths may disrupt the birds’ ability to navigate using the stars or the earth’s magnetic fields. The weather may play a role, since large kills almost always occur on cloudy or foggy nights. Fog, mist, or storms increase the odds of trouble. Unlike larger birds, which can climb above the clouds, smaller migrants sometimes try swooping underneath, right into the path of towers. “

Birds & Tower Kills 1

July 22, 2011

From the NJ Audubon Society:

“‘An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 birds, mostly Lapland Longspurs, were killed on the night of January 22, 1998, at a 420 foot tall communications tower in western Kansas. Apparently a heavy snowstorm sent the birds up looking for bare ground. Dense fog caused the tower’s aviation-safety lights (required on structures over 200′) to reflect off water in the air and form an illuminated space, causing the birds to switch to their diurnal (visual) mode of navigation. The flock circled the lighted tower and collided with its guy wires. Some birds were impaled by wheat stubble, suggesting they were so disoriented that they couldn’t tell which way was up and flew into the ground at full force. The tower had three white strobes. This is interesting because it has been suggested that flashing lights cause less mortality than steadily illuminated lights. Evidence suggests that continent-wide, communications towers kill 2 to 4 million songbirds each year.’ (American Bird Conservancy, Bird Calls, March 1998).

…five tower kill studies done in the eastern US in recent decades all showed kills of roughly 1,000-3,000 kills per year….

The problem is caused by the lights on the towers for aviation warning. On nights with a low ceiling, birds lose their cues for stellar and geomagnetic navigation. The light reflecting off water molecules in the air causes an illumined area, creating a whirlpool of birds circling the tower in the light space…

Some of these documented cases of tower kills are very revealing. Many of them indicate a very high percent of forest Neotropical long-distance migrants, especially warblers.”

The full, longer article on this, is at the link above.

ALEC Exposed: Round Two!

July 22, 2011

As you can see, we have been posting a lot of new articles involving NPR’s public exposure of ALEC.  It turns out that NPR is not the only one interested in this story, as Bloomberg and the Huffington Post have now published investigative stories on the corrupt handshake between the corporations and Congress.

View these new articles here:

Koch, Exxon Mobil Among Corporations Helping Write State Laws

ALEC Exposed: Milton Friedman’s Little Shop of Horrors

ALEC:  Democracy’s Arch-Nemesis

ALEC on NPR’s Fresh Air!

July 21, 2011
Dollar Bill across American Flag


Link to Program is HERE:  Who’s Really Writing States’ Legislation?

A group called ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — “is at the forefront of an effort to push business-friendly, conservative legislation at the state level,” says reporter John Nichols. He discusses what recently leaked documents reveal about the organization.


July 21, 2011

The Arizona SB 1070 legislation has sparked great enthusiasm from many other state legislators who want to pass similar immigration laws.  But is it not curious that Nashville had an unusually large influence on this controversial Arizona law?  CCA, also known as Corrections Corporation of America, is a Nashville based company that owns prisons and detention centers.  Managing more than 60 facilities, the CCA is now the largest partnership corrections company in the United States.

The private prison companies owned by CCA received donations from corporations and lobbyists that were members of ALEC, the conservative fiscal reform organization who drafted Arizona SB 1070.

One of the founders of CCA is none other than T. Don Hutto, whose Texas for-profit detention center by the same name was infamous for subjecting immigrants to inhumane conditions.

For more information on CCA, please visit these links:

CCA Website

CCA, immigration, and ALEC: the long-brewing national story

NPR Exposes ALEC

July 21, 2011

Since 2008, NPR has been working to shed a new light on the corrupt relationship between the SB 1070 legislation, private detention centers, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Check out these great articles and radio transcripts to learn more about the unethical handshake between the government and the private sector.

Prison Economics Help Drive Arizona Immigration Law

Immigration Detention Centers Under Suspicion

Shaping State Laws with Little Scrutiny

Walking Bird

July 11, 2011

Very clear video of a bird walking around: