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It began with a Chinese surveillance balloon, taken out by a U.S. fighter jet on February 4.
Since then, there have been three smaller flying objects shot down – one over Alaska’s North Slope on Friday, another in Canada on Saturday, and then one in Michigan yesterday.
As Rhonda McBride from our flagship station KNBA reports, all of that has Alaska lawmakers like State Sen. Donny Olson (D-AK) on edge.
Sen. Olson was in the midst of a floor session on Friday, when he got word that an unidentified object had been shot down near the Canadian Border, a region that’s home to the Inupiat people and part of his district.
Sen. Olson, who is also a commercial pilot, says the dangers are very real.
He says he’s flown over the region many times at the 40,000-foot level, the same altitude where the invading object was shot down.
“It’s very concerning that you have something up there flying along, or suspended in the air, without an air traffic control clearance. If you couldn’t see it because of clouds, or it was nighttime, it could very easily be a collision.”
Sen. Olson says the Chinese spy balloons incursion into Alaska, coupled with Friday’s flying object, points to the North Slope’s increasing vulnerability to foreign aggression.
He worries that the region’s remoteness and sparse population will make it more difficult to protect itself.
Over the years, the Inuit Circumpolar Council has watched increased military activity in the Arctic with a nervous eye.
Jimmy Stotts, who recently retired from his job as president of Alaska’s ICC office, worries that the spy balloon and flying objects could be a distraction from the larger threat to the Arctic.
“Some of these conflicts elsewhere spilling over into the Arctic, I’m worried about that. Relationships, particularly over there in Northern Europe, the Scandinavian countries and Russian – how things there could pretty easily go sideways.”
Stotts says climate change, which has opened waters to navigation, has increased tensions in the Arctic and the potential for conflict.
The Central American country of Guatemala is entering an election this year, just as human rights groups say the country’s fragile democracy is deteriorating.
Recently, protests were held as Maya candidate Thelma Cabrera and her running mate, a well-known human rights activist, were disqualified after being accused of campaigning on social media before the official start date.
Maria Martin reports.
Hundreds of supporters of the Maya Mam candidate Thelma Cabrera of the People’s Liberation Movement took to the streets in downtown Guatemala City.
Their slogans asked the country’s highest election authority, the Supreme Election Tribunal, to reinstate Cabrera and her running mate, former human rights ombudsman Jordan Rodas, on the ballot for the June 25 election.
During the last election in 2019, Cabrera came in a strong fourth place, winning 10% of the vote – surprising in this country where the last Indigenous presidential candidate, Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu, only garnered the support of 3% of the Guatemalan voters in 2007.
This time around, Thelma Cabrera and her running mate were expected to gain the reform vote for change in Guatemala – where most of the 30 odd parties represent the old guard, the military, and what’s known as the “pact of the corrupt.”
Cabrera says if the election tribunal doesn’t reverse its decision, it’s definite proof of electoral fraud.
She and Rodas plan to challenge their party’s disqualification in court.
On Sunday, demonstrators gathered in Glendale, AZ as the Kansas City football team played in the Super Bowl.
They marched to the stadium where the game was held with signs calling on the team to change its name.
People traveled from the greater Kansas City area for the protest while others were from the Phoenix metropolitan area like Cher Thomas from the Gila River Indian Community, a tribe that was one of the Official Partners of the Super Bowl.
Thomas says she wanted to use her voice to take a stand.
“If there’s something that can be said, I’m going to say it. If there’s something that can be done, I’m going to do it. If there’s something that can be maneuvered or worked out…I believe in doing what I can with what I have.”
The Native advocacy groups Not In Our Honor and Arizona to Rally Against Native Mascots hosted the protest, and other events including a film screening and discussion about the fight against Indian mascots.
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