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Ancient human tree cultivation shaped Amazon landscape

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

File Photo: A view is seen from the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) in Sao Sebastiao do Uatuma in the middle of the Amazon forest in Amazonas State, Brazil, January 10, 2015. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly/File Photo

Ancient indigenous peoples had a far more profound impact on the composition of the vast Amazon rainforest than previously known, according to a study showing how tree species domesticated by humans long ago still dominate big swathes of the wilderness.

Researchers said on Thursday many tree species populating the Amazon region appear to be abundant because they were cultivated by people who populated the area before Europeans arrived more than five centuries ago. These include the Brazil nut, cacao, acai palm, rubber, caimito, cashew and tucuma palm.

“So the Amazon is not nearly as untouched as it may seem,” said study researcher Hans ter Steege, a forest community ecologist at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands and Free University of Amsterdam.

The researchers used data on the tree composition of forests at 1,170 sites throughout the Amazon and compared it to a map of more than 3,000 known archaeological sites representing past human settlements.

The study found that 85 tree species known to have been used by Amazonian peoples for fruit, nuts, building materials and other purposes over the past roughly 8,000 years were five times more likely to be dominant in mature Amazon forests than species that had not been domesticated.

It also found that forests closer to the pre-Columbian settlements were much more likely to boast tree species domesticated by ancient peoples.

The Amazon rainforest is a commanding natural feature in South America and one of the world’s richest biological reservoirs, teeming with plant and animal life. Much of it is situated in Brazil but parts are also in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador and French Guiana.

Many of the trees found in large numbers represent species critical for the livelihood and economy of Amazonian peoples. At the time of European conquest, there were an estimated 8 to 10 million people in the Amazon, speaking at least 400 different languages.

“Past civilizations have had a great role in changing, both consciously and unconsciously, the vegetation in the surroundings of their settlements and along paths that they used to travel,” added study researcher Carolina Levis, a doctoral candidate in ecology at Brazil’s National Institute for Amazonian Research and the Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands.

The research was published in the journal Science.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Capiztahan Festival features seafood, agricultural products of Capiz Province

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Sumptuous seafood were on display at the Capiztahan Festival | Courtesy: Capiz Tourism and Cultural Affairs Facebook Page

The 118th charter anniversary of the Civil Government of Capiz highlights the province’s richness in agricultural and seafood products.

Among the agri products displayed in the festival are the capiz shells, abaca fiber, and cacao.

Also featured in the festivity are the sumptuous seafood varieties that are presented in the buffet table for everyone’s enjoyment.

There was an overflow of prawns, king crabs, saltwater crabs, squids, fish and oysters enough to feed an army.

Fruits also abound on the table.

Capizeños take pride of their seafood products because of the unique taste and quality.

Proof of this is the big demand for Capiz seafood products from hotels and resorts from other parts of the country.

“Ang amon mga producer, they are all happy because ginaagawan muna kun kaisa indi naton ma control ang price because naga agaw ang Boracay, naga agaw ang metro manila specially nga crabs, prawns talaba sang Capiz may ara nga quality nga manami [Our producers are happy because (merchants) outbid each other, sometimes we can no longer control the price. Those from Boracay bid against those from Metro Manila for crabs, prawns, and oysters of Capiz],” said the Capiz Governor Tony Del Rosario.

The Governor added that the province can now also export its seafood products to Hong Kong and other parts of Europe.

Meanwhile, the local government has launched a new Capiz Tourism and Culture Display Center at the Provincial Park wherein the products of the province are being showcased.

The Capiztahan Festival is an annual celebration in the province of Capiz which aims to promote the products and tourism of the province for its own economic growth. – Maris Federez (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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Fishermen discover whale carcass in Amazon mangrove

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Source: Instituto Bicho D’agua

A group of fishermen spotted a humpback whale carcass just off Brazil’s Amazon on Friday (February 22).

Photos taken by Instituto Bicho D’Agua, a non-profit organisation for their work on social-environmental conservation, showed the whale carcass stranded in the mangroves with its belly facing upwards.

The young male carcass was found around 15 metres from Araruna beach in Marinha de Soure Extractive Reserve in the country’s state of Para.

In a statement by the NGO, it was believed that the whale had already died around five days before reaching the shore, and the high tide had pushed the whale deeper in the mangroves before it became fully trapped.

Samples were collected to help understand the fate of the whale. – REUTERS

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Investors ask how the Bezos divorce will affect Amazon

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2019

Amazon logo. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) shares seesawed on Thursday as investors questioned how the impending divorce of company founder Jeff Bezos would affect his control of the most valuable company on Wall Street and its ambitious expansion plans.

Bezos, whom Forbes lists as the world’s richest person, worth an estimated $136.2 billion, said via Twitter on Wednesday that he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, will divorce. Amazon shares were down 0.5 percent in afternoon trading on Thursday, after gaining earlier in the session.

The split throws into question how the couple will split their fortune, which includes an approximately 16 percent ownership stake in Amazon’s roughly $811.4 billion market capitalization. Divorce laws in Washington state, where they live, hold that property acquired during a marriage is generally divided equally between spouses.

Most analysts and fund managers are largely sanguine and say the divorce will not lead to any significant change in the company’s leadership or its growth prospects.

Prominent short-seller Doug Kass, however, who runs hedge fund Seabreeze Partners, said he sold his stake in Amazon on news of the divorce. That was after initially buying a stake in late December and naming Amazon among his “best ideas list.”

“Is it premature to ask what happens to Amazon when Jeff Bezos chooses to turn over the day-to-day running of the company he founded?” he said. “His announced divorce gives me pause for thought.”

The couple has multiple residences across the country, so there is a possibility the divorce could be filed in a state where marital property is not presumed to be divided equally.

New York matrimonial lawyer Bernard Clair said in that case a judge would likely determine MacKenzie Bezos’ share of Amazon stock based on her contribution to her husband’s success, which could include helping him make important business decisions or raising their children so he could focus on work.

Any transfer of Jeff Bezos’ stock would be subject to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure requirements. As an officer and director at the company, Bezos could be required to file an SEC Form 4 within two business days of any transfer, though former SEC lawyer Broc Romanek noted a provision of U.S. securities laws exempts share transfers made pursuant to a domestic relations order.

Even if Bezos were exempted from filing a Form 4, he would be required to update promptly the record of his Amazon holdings on file with the SEC if his position in the company changed by 1 percent or more, said D.C. securities lawyer Thomas Gorman. MacKenzie Bezos would also need to file a similar record if she received more than 5 percent of Amazon stock.

Peter Henning, a securities law professor at Wayne State University, noted that Amazon, unlike fellow tech giants Facebook Inc. (FB.O) and Google Inc (GOOGL.O), does not give its founder’s shares greater voting rights. If MacKenzie Bezos is given a large block of shares, she could have a big say at the company.

Gorman agreed. “She could wind up with some sort of control block, and get herself a directorship,” he said. “It depends on what she wants to do.”

Any effort to dilute MacKenzie Bezos’ voting rights by creating a separate class of shares would require a shareholder vote, said Gorman, though he added that he thought such a move unlikely.

“Nobody wants to run their divorce through a shareholder meeting,” he said.

Robert Bacarella, portfolio manager of the Monetta fund, said that while he is not changing his investment in Amazon, he expects other growth-focused portfolio managers may trim their stakes due to concerns about the divorce’s impact.

“This is such an over-owned company and this gives them an excuse to say ‘Maybe I’ll trim some back because it adds a new question mark’,” he said.

Bacarella, however, said he is not concerned because even if MacKenzie Bezos liquidated a stake that could be as high as 8 percent, there would be no fundamental reason behind the sale. Any impact would be short-term in nature.

“Unless you worry that he will get so distracted by the divorce that he cannot manage the company, this will be a non-event,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. “He is given control of the company because shareholders like him and his vision, not because he has 50 percent of the stock.”

Thomas Forte, an analyst at D.A. Davidson, said questions about the future of the company due to the divorce are legitimate due to Jeff Bezos’ outsized influence on its value. Should he leave the company for any reason, its shares would likely immediately fall more than 10 percent, he said.

“His influence on the company is as a significant as if he had super-voting shares because of his track record and the way he runs the company as if he owned the whole thing,” he said.

Reporting by David Randall and Jan Wolfe; editing by Anthony Lin and Dan Grebler