Skunks of the Americas

There are nine species of skunk, all endemic to the Americas. They are, of course, best known for their defensive spray, which they can project up to 12 feet (3.75 m). If got in the eyes, it can cause temporarily blindness, but even the surprise and the smell can provide enough of a window for escape.

The smell doesn’t just bother humans - most mammals are also deterred and won’t attack a skunk; the main predator of skunks is actually Great Horned Owls, as most birds have a very poor sense of smell.

Skunks used to be classified in the Family Mustelidae - the weasels and other musk-producing animals - but are now placed in their own family, the Mephitidae.

The Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is the most widespread in North America, found from northern Mexico north into the Canadian boreal forests. Like all skunks, it is omnivorous, but mostly eats invertebrates. It, and other skunks, will sometimes dig at bee nests, eating the guards who come out to investigate and relying on their thick fur to protect them from stings.

photograph by K. Theule/ USFWS - Mountain-Prairie Region

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

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Our latest 360 video - On the dangerous route north through Mexico there are hostels where Central American asylum-seekers and migrants can stay without fear of arrest or attacks by criminals. Lenard, from Honduras, is waiting to find out if he will receive asylum at a hostel in Tenosique, Tabasco State, in southern Mexico. 

Find out about MSF’s touring exhibition, Forced From Home, which will feature 360-degree video and virtual reality documentaries that show the realities of displacement around the world at: http://www.forcedfromhome.com/

splcenter.org
Belize Supreme Court strikes down colonial-era law that made gay sex illegal
Belize Supreme Court strikes down anti-sodomy law in lawsuit opposed by U.S.-based anti-LGBT groups

This week, the Supreme Court of Belize made a decision that was long overdue: they struck down a colonial-era anti-sodomy law.

The Caribbean has a high preponderance of colonial-era laws that criminalize homosexual sex. Section 53 of the Belizean criminal code stipulates a penalty of up to ten years in prison for any person engaging in “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” […]

Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin found that Section 53 of the criminal code that criminalizes consenting intercourse between adults of the same sex contravenes rights granted under the Belize Constitution, and added that the court has an obligation to amend the law so it adheres to the Constitution. He ordered an amendment specifying that section 53 does not apply to consenting sexual acts between adults of the same gender.

This is so important. How far we’ve come; how far we have to go. 

fusion.net
Hunger Strike Enters Second Week for 22 Immigrant Mothers Stuck in Family Detention
A group of mothers incarcerated with their children at an immigration detention center in Pennsylvania is entering their second week of a hunger strike in an effort to get asylum for their families and draw attention to the fact that some of them have been stuck at the facility for a year.

A group of mothers incarcerated with their children at an immigration detention center in Pennsylvania is entering their second week of a hunger strike in an effort to get asylum for their families and draw attention to the fact that some of them have been stuck at the facility for a year.

The mothers, many of whom are reportedly from Central America, started their hunger strike on Aug. 8 after Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said immigration authorities have been “ensuring the average length of stay at [family detention] facilitiesis 20 days or less.”

That’s simply not true, the women argue.

“We are 22 mothers who have been imprisoned at the Berks Family Residential Center for 270 to 365 days,” the group wrote in an open letter addressed to Secretary Johnson.

“We are already traumatized from our countries of origin. We risked our own lives and those of our children so we could arrive on safe ground. While here our children have considered committing suicide, made desperate from confinement,” the women said in their letter.

Advocates representing the mothers say the 22 women are in their eighth day of the hunger strike, but immigration officials claim that nearly half the women have already discontinued their protest.

sciencemag.org
This bee lives on the edge—of an active volcano
Insect has adapted to hellish lava landscape

They call it “the kill zone.” Just outside the Nicaraguan capital city of Managua, the Masaya volcano smokes as magma sloshes and bubbles near its surface. Clouds of noxious fumes and slow-cooling lava wipe out any traces of life. But when a team of scientists visited, they saw something unexpected: life. A little bee, Anthophora squammulosa, was zipping through the ash heaps looking for nectar and burrowing in a pile of volcanic debris. The find, a shock on this unforgiving mountain, makes these insects the first of their genus to be found living in volcanic ash, a rare home for any bee…

Daily reminder that the United States is prosperous and existing as it is today only because of the exploitation, destruction, and theft of resources, governments, and people from Central American, Carribbean American, South American, Indigenous North American, African, Southwest, Southeast, and Eastern Asian countries, nations, confederations, and tribes all throughout North American history to today.

America only became great from the destruction, enslavement, and manipulation of others.

And no matter who’s in charge of the nation, this trend will always continue.

theguardian.com
US and Mexico's mass deportations have fueled humanitarian crisis, report says
Tide of vulnerable people fleeing violence in Central America preyed upon by criminals and corrupt officials in part due to inadequate asylum procedures
By Nina Lakhani

Mass deportations and inadequate asylum procedures in Mexico and the US have fueled a humanitarian crisis where desperate Central Americans seeking refuge from rampant violence are routinely preyed upon by criminal gangs and corrupt officials, according to a new report by the International Crisis Group (ICG).

The tide of people fleeing Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – three of the five most dangerous countries in the world – continues apace despite beefed-up border control measures implemented after Barack Obama declared the 2014 surge in undocumented migrants a humanitarian crisis. Last year, Mexico deported 165,000 Central Americans, while the US expelled 75,000.

In order to avoid detection, vulnerable people – who include increasing numbers of women and unaccompanied children – are forced to pay higher fees to smugglers, crooked officials, and kidnappers, and use riskier, more isolated routes through Mexico, according to the report Easy Prey: Criminal Violence and Central American Migration. Once deported, many simply try again rather than face hunger and violence at home, creating a revolving door of vulnerable migrants and refugees.

The report comes after the US, for the first time, recognised that the surge in people currently fleeing Central America includes potential refugees, not just economic migrants. The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a new scheme whereby Costa Rica will offer temporary protection to 200 eligible Central American refugees at a time before they are settled in the US or another country.

While the news was welcomed as a positive emblematic step by immigrant rights’ groups, there was widespread scepticism about its potential impact amid rapidly rising asylum claims. As violence in the Northern Triangle spiked in 2015, the number of asylum seekers from these countries rose to more than 110,000 – a fivefold increase from 2012. Most seek refuge in Mexico and the US.