Global Scan

An 'uncontacted' tribe emerges from the Amazon — and into the dangers of modern life

Uncontacted Brazil tribe hi-res
An uncontacted Amazon tribe watches a plane in a 2010 photograph.


The Amazon rainforest is home to 70 or more tribes that are "uncontacted," meaning they've chosen to stay away from modern civilization. Recently, one changed its mind.

A little over a week ago, members of the group approached Brazilian scientists. The Brazilian Indian affairs department, or FUNAI, has had a "no contact" policy since 1987, unless a tribe's survival was at stake. Recently, local communities were complaining that members of the tribe were raiding their crops and tools, raising the threat of confrontation.

Making peaceful contact is a rarity for these groups — Brazil hadn't had an instance of it in nearly 20 years — and anthropologists aren't sure why this group decided to make such a dramatic move. Unfortunately, the group's choice could put them in danger, both from diseases they've never experienced and outsiders who want access to the forest. Science Magazine reports that the Brazilian government has sent specialists in to help. 

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Oops, Britain really should be more careful with its incriminating documents

If you have key documents in a global human rights investigation, you may want to keep them dry. British intelligence services apparently didn't get the memo. The Foreign Office says key files that might have detailed the United Kingdom's role in the CIA's rendition program were destroyed — when they got wet.

The Guardian reports that human rights groups aren't having any of it, saying the claims of water damage sound like excuses for a cover-up. The files in question concern the British base on Diego Garcia, a small island in the Indian Ocean, used by American and British military. The allegedly destroyed records show flights in and out of the base. Human rights groups say those flights transported prisoners kidnapped from their home countries by the CIA. The US Senate has a report due out later this year that is expected to reveal that the CIA built a secret prison there, as well.

These are the voices beneath the falling bombs in Israel and Palestine

For a second, forget the politics of the current violence flaring between Israelis and Palestinians. Instead, listen to Amjad Shawa in Gaza City, who doesn't know how to explain the loud explosions and danger to his four children. Or Adele Raemer, who had to cancel her daughter's wedding, which was due to take place on their kibbutz near the border with the Gaza Strip, and find shelter with her family in her concrete-reinforced safe room.

PRI's The World talked to people on both sides who are suffering through the airstrikes and rockets that are now raining on cities in the Gaza Strip and Israel. 

Fracking raises a new fear — radioactive waste entering landfills

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been deeply controversial in many places around the globe. Environmentalists claim the technique, which forces water and chemicals into shale formations to extract oil and gas, poisons groundwater with chemicals and methane. Now, there's a new threat that it surfaces radioactive rock waste.

PRI's Living on Earth reports on how the drilling brings up "cuttings" that look like black, wet sand and contain naturally-occurring radioactive rock. The rock found in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania — prime fracking territory — is more radioactive than elsewhere. That's sparked a fight between drilling companies and environmental groups, who fear radioactive radium will leach out from landfills.

Meet the man behind the kidnapping strategy of Hamas

The recent escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians was ignited a few weeks ago when three Israeli teens were kidnapped and killed near Hebron. The man who is believed to have turned kidnapping into a mainstay of the tactics used by Hamas now lives openly in Turkey.

Foreign Affairs profiles Salah al-Arouri, who is allegedly responsible for funding and supporting Hamas networks designed to carry out kidnappings. Israel has not said whether it believes al-Arouri had a role in the recent incident.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Even birds are taking note of how climate change is affecting the Arctic. The Guardian reports that, with temperatures rising and ice receding in Alaska, migratory birds are arriving up to a week earlier than usual to lay their eggs. Less cold means trouble for the planet, but it also means the birds have more insects to eat and places to nest. In the long term, though, scientists worry the changing seasons will throw the birds and their migration out of whack.

This post is a regular feature of It's a daily brief and email newsletter of stories, events and graphics that are catching the attention of our news staff. The World's Leo Hornak kicks it off from London and various folks on our editorial team around the globe contribute from there, like Cartoon Editor Carol Hills in Boston. Don't expect anything near the standard wrap of major news stories. This blog post and its email companion will be as idiosyncratic as our staff... and we'll want you to tell us what you like and don't like. Sign up for a account and subscribe to our newsletter to get it delivered to your inbox. The newsletter arrives during the US morning hours.

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