Making flippy floppy:

Phase one of the Bush campaign strategy seems to be to attack Kerry on”flip-flopping”. Bush’s recent public statements suggest he has a one-track mind on the topic. His critics counter with two genres of response. Some point to the President’s own flip-flopping, for example most recently changing his position on how much time he will give the panel investigating 9-11. Others suggest that the flexibility to change one’s position in response to changing circumstances and the courage and candor to admit that one’s prior position was mistaken upon further reflection are desireable attributes in a national leader. Bush’s fault, this argument goes, is often that he is too rigid and changes his mind too little. That both diametrically opposite responses are valid indicates the meaninglessness of the entire ‘flip-floppiness’ concept as a measure of a candidate’s fitness. (Who was it who said that the most profound truths are those whose opposites are also true?) This early in the campaign season, the conventional wisdom goes that no one is yet listening (although that may be proven wrong in the 2004 race; polls are already indicating an extraordinarily high proportion of voters who have made up their minds). so this may be a throwaway issue for the Bush campaign. I’m convinced that the Republican big gun will be to tar Kerry with the ‘ultraliberal’ brush. Expecially because Bush is such an inflexible, one-track thinker, I expect a phased rollout of campaign issues so he can focus on one at a time. So we will start to hear the ‘L-word’ later, probably by the end of the summer.

‘Please do not touch the forest, because it gives us life. Please stop the bulldozers.’

Last isolated Indians south of the Amazon make contact: “A group of previously uncontacted Ayoreo Indians has emerged from the forests of Paraguay, under pressure from deforestation all around them. The 17 people (five men, seven women and five children) are in excellent health, but acutely short of water. Colonists who have settled in their territory have taken possession of the permanent water holes for cattle ranching, leaving the Indians unable to get water in the dry season.

The Indians made contact with fellow Ayoreo who were planning to establish a new community in the last sizeable area of forest in the region. For ten years the Ayoreo and their supporters have been trying to protect the zone from accelerating invasion. Now, ranchers and farmers occupy large parts of the Ayoreo’s forest.

Under national and international law, the Paraguayan government should have titled the area (some 550,000 hectares) to the Indians. But after ten years, only around a quarter has been titled. Some landowners continue to send in bulldozers to clear the forest, defying court orders which were supposed to halt all work in the area.” —Survival International press release