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Climbing : Politics

Tarahumara Indians Increasingly Used as Drug Runners

Tarahumara Indians, the tribe made famous in Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run, are being used more and more by traffickers to ferry drugs across the U.S. border with Mexico. Aram Roston has written a detailed feature for Newsweek on the practice, titled "Mexican Drug War's Next Victims: Tarahumara Indian Runners."

“You get a guy who can go 50 miles with almost no water ... they’ve been indirectly training for [cross-border smuggling] for 10,000 years,” says Christopher McDougall in the article. “It’s just tragic and disgraceful. This is a culture that has tried its best to stay out of this mess, all of these messes—the messes of the world—and now the messes have come and found them.”

Below is an excerpt from the story detailing the increase seen by U.S. defense lawyers.

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Environmentalists Are Literally Dying to Protect Land and Resources

Deforestation_flickr_maraPhoto: Mara/Flickr

One of our top 10 environmental news stories of 2011 was the troubling violence that environmental activists face in many parts of the world, particularly in Brazil, where three high-profile activists were slain last May. While researching that story, I'd found reports of nine murdered environmentalists last year around the world. I had only just scratched the surface.

A story last week in German newspaper Der Spiegel about the ongoing violence says that there were 29 deaths in Brazil alone. Much worse, a report from the NGO Global Witness shows a very troubling trend, with 106 activists killed worldwide in 2011—a death toll that is nearly double the number killed in 2009.

Brazil has begun offering some protection for small farmers and others who have spoken against the logging and cattle industries as they continue to push into the Amazon. But bounty hunters, reportedly hired by a logging industry mafia, continue to threaten them. Der Spiegel interviewed 45-year-old Nilcilene Miguel de Lima, who is part of a government-backed effort to increase sustainable farming and has a $10,080 bounty on her head because she filed a complaint over illegal logging activities.

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A Rio+20 Primer: 'Ecosystem Services' and Other Action Words

Earth_shutterstock_KesuPhoto: Kesu/Shutterstock

I know, it's Friday and in your head you're probably half-way down the nearest trail or river already. But next week, world leaders are meeting in Rio, 20 years after their last meeting there (thus, "Rio+20") to try to hammer out some meaningful agreements at the United National Conference on Sustainable Development.

If you follow these U.N. conferences, you know that they tend (especially in recent years) to fail to produce binding agreements. And you know that with each failure, the need for nations to collaborate and cooperate to mitigate the effects of climate change becomes more and more dire.

So, with that in mind. Here's a quick primer on some key issues on the agenda, as well as a round-up of Rio+20 news sources worth your attention.

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Hackers to Consumers: You Have the Power to Get Greener Gear

Buycott_logo

This past Sunday I forewent a gorgeous afternoon in the sun, opting for the headquarters of frog, a global innovation firm (they design/re-design products and experiences for major companies). Frog and LRN, a consultancy, were hosting a weekend "hackathon." Unless you're a computer programmer or a geek of some other stripe, you might not immediately recognize this term, but hackathons are basically brainstorming sessions. People with similar interests and talents come together to re-imagine a product or service—or sometimes something broader—by hacking and rebuilding existing products or services.

This hackathon was, indeed, something much broader. The participants—designers, coders, business leaders, students, filmmakers, and many other thinkers—were handed this task: reinvent business. No big deal. Also, they had just 30 hours to do it.

I arrived just in time to hear about the products and services that the 20 teams at the hackathon came up with. Each team had three minutes to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that two of these ideas are tied in an important way to the outdoor/adventure sports gear market.

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Summer Reading: 'Our Dying Forests'

Sure, summer reading lists are usually filled with the latest mysteries or epic dramas to hit paperback. But for your list, consider adding a series of reports by the Salt Lake Tribune, "Our Dying Forests." The series recently claimed the The Grantham Prize for environmental reporting and tells a story that contains some mystery and a whole lot of drama—but is unfortunately non-fiction.

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