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04/19/2007


Scientists Baffled by Mysterious, Tiny Structures in Amazon: PHOTOS

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There's something fun about scientists being completely stumped--it's a little reminder that, despite everything we humans have figured out about our world, the Earth is far more diverse and mysterious than we can imagine.  One such enigma has cropped up this week in South America, as WIRED explains:

Something in the Peruvian Amazon is making weird, intricate structures that resemble white picket fences surrounding an Isengard-like spire.

No one has any idea who the mysterious craftsbug (fungus? spider?) is, or what the structure is even used for, excepting the fence part, which almost makes sense. Nobody, not even the scientists. We asked.

Troy Alexander, a graduate student at Georgia Tech, spotted the first of these structures on June 7. The little, seemingly woven fence was parked on the underside of a blue tarp near the Tambopata Research Center, in southeastern Peru. He later spotted three more of the bizarre enclosures on tree trunks in the jungle.

Photos of the mysterious structures were first posted to Reddit's "What's this bug?" section 10 days ago, and biologist Phil Torres, who works in the Tambopata area, tweeted a link to the photos last week.

WIRED reached out to a smattering of scientists to ask for hypotheses about the structures' origins and got back...well, not many answers:

“I have no idea what made it, or even what it is,” said William Eberhard, an entomologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

“I’ve seen the photo, but have no idea what animal might be responsible,” echoed Norm Platnick, curator emeritus of spiders at the American Museum of Natural History.

“I don’t know what it is,” said arachnologist Linda Rayor, of Cornell University. “My guess is something like a lacewing, but I don’t really know.”

Towleroad scientists--anyone have a theory as to what these tiny towers might be?

Check out some more photos of the formations, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Scientists Baffled by Mysterious, Tiny Structures in Amazon: PHOTOS" »


In Peru, Drag Is A Contact Sport: VIDEO

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This year's Miss Gay San Juan drag pageant also doubled as a UFC match when the runner-up decided to throw down with the newly crowned queen. The video below shows plenty of hair pulling, high-heel kicks and dagger-stares a-go-go.

RuPaul was wrong. In some parts of the world, drag is a contact sport.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "In Peru, Drag Is A Contact Sport: VIDEO" »


Outspoken Marriage Equality Ally Scott Fujita Retires from New Orleans Saints: PHOTOS

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NFL linebacker and Super Bowl champ Scott Fujita, who has been speaking out since 2009 for marriage equality and has appeared in videos for Americans for Marriage Equality, among others, retired from the New Orleans Saints yesterday, making the announcement with photos from Peru he posted to Twitter.

FujitaESPN reports:

Linebacker Scott Fujita signed a one-day contract with the New Orleans Saints on Monday and then announced his retirement after 11 seasons in the NFL. Fujita signed his contract in Machu Picchu, which is located in the Andes Mountains in Peru. He's there with former Saints teammate Steve Gleason, who is battling Lou Gehrig's Disease.

In a statement from the team, Fujita said he couldn't think of a better place to be to announce his retirement.

"What better place to reach the end of the road than here at 10,000 feet above sea level, in the Peruvian Andes overlooking Machu Picchu with my dear friend Steve Gleason?"

Said Fujita in a NYT column earlier this year:

I support marriage equality for so many reasons: my father’s experience in an internment camp and the racial intolerance his family experienced during and after the war, the gay friends I have who are really not all that different from me, and also because of a story I read a few years back about a woman who was denied the right to visit her partner of 15 years when she was stuck in a hospital bed...

...Believe it or not, conversations about issues like gay marriage take place in locker rooms every day. In many respects, the football locker room is a microcosm of society. While there is certainly an element of bravado in our sport, football players are not the meatheads many think we are. For some of my friends who raise personal objections to marriage equality, they still recognize the importance of being accepting. And many of them also recognize that regardless of what they choose to believe or practice at home or at their church, that doesn’t give them the right to discriminate.

Fujita


Peruvian Mayor Warns Citizens Tap Water Will Turn Them Gay

At the launch of a local project intended to increase access to water, Huarmey, Peru Mayor Jose Benitez expressed concern that drinking tap water would turn the town gay.

Paul Canning reports:

PantojaJosé Benítez, Huarmey mayor, says:

“Unfortunately Strontium reduces male hormones and suddenly we’ll be as Tabalosos, as other towns, where the percentages are increasing of homosexuality.”

Pink News adds:

The water comes from Tabalosos, a town which a Lima-based television station famously said in 2000 was inhabited by 14,000 exclusively-gay men.

The Tabalosina mayor, Jorge Luis Vasquez, said: “Young people have low self-esteem (because of) this stigma”.

Dr. Robert Castro Rodriguez, the dean of the College of Pharmaceutical Chemistry of Lima, told a radio station that strontium can cause bone cancer, anaemia and cardiovascular problems. A link with homosexuality has yet to be identified.

You may recall that in April 2010 Bolivian President Evo Morales made headlines when he made similar claims about chicken.


Police Rough-Up Gay Activists at Lima, Peru Kiss-In

Peru

Police broke up and assaulted a group of approximately 15 gay activists who were holding a kiss-in on Saturday in the Plaza de Armas de Lima in front of the Cathedral of Lima, in Lima, Peru.

El Comercio reports (rough translation):

According to (fellow activist Mary) Vargas, an activist named Alicia Parra was injured when police caned her head and she needed ten stitches, while six others sustained bruises.

All of them have filed complaints against for police abuse, though many of them refused identification.

This was the third time the Mohl (El Movimiento Homosexual de Lima) organized its "Besos against homophobia", and the first in which the police used violence to disperse. There is currently is an open political debate in the country about the possibility of civil unions for homosexuals.

Watch video of the police dispersing the activists, AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: Video with translation courtesy of Andrés Duques at Blabbeando.

Continue reading "Police Rough-Up Gay Activists at Lima, Peru Kiss-In" »


Peruvian Catholic Bishop Wants to Stop Hearing About 'Faggots'

Peruvian Catholic Bishop Luis Bambaren has apologized for remarks he made when asked about a civil unions proposal in that nation.

Bambaren Said Bambaren: "Why is there so much talk about gay, gay, gay? ... Faggots – that's how it's said, right?"

Civil unions for gays and lesbians are being discussed in Peru after a candidate for VP there said he would support such a measure, the Herald Sun reports:

"Bambaren's claim to call gay people faggots is totally inacceptable and constitutes an incitement to hatred," group head Christian Olivera said in a statement.

"In a country where we should all see ourselves as equals, Bambaren is encouraging violence by using a term that represents what is disgusting and perverse. Despising a community is not an example of what one supposes are Christian values."

Bambaren later (sort of) apologized: "I ask for an apology for everyone who felt offended. It is an offensive word, and (homosexuals) deserve respect."


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