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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Eleven Years of the Process of Change in Evo Morales Bolivia

by Stansfield Smith / January 11th, 2018

Evo Morales will soon have been the president of Bolivia for 12 years, heralding the ascent of the indigenous social movements to governmental power. This ended the apartheid system against the indigenous that existed for 500 years in Bolivia. Morales won in 2005 with 53.7% of the vote, followed by re-elections in 2009 with 64.2% and 2014 with 61.3%.

The country has made great strides in economic development, national sovereignty, women’s and Original Peoples’ rights, respect for Mother Earth, raising the people’s standard of living, level of education, and health care.

His presidency, which has brought an era of relative social peace and economic growth, has been the longest in Bolivia’s history. Since 1825, Bolivia has had 83 presidents with 37, almost half, by means of coup d’etat.

Previous presidents typically lacked social legitimacy, representing a political system that excluded participation of the indigenous peoples, plagued by social and economic inequality, subjugated to foreign interests, and complicit with the looting of natural resources. By 2002, after years of neoliberal regimes serving foreign — mostly U.S. — corporations, the proportion of the rural population living in extreme poverty had risen to 75%.


Bamboo social housing in rural Mexico can be built by residents in a week

Eleanor Gibson | 1 hour ago

Mexico City studio Comunal Taller de Arquitectura has completed a prototype for social housing in a mountain town, using a prefabricated bamboo frame that residents can use to replicate the structure in just seven days.

Comunal Taller de Arquitectura, which translates to Communal Architecture Workshop, completed the residence in Cuetzalan del Progreso – a town in the south-central state of Puebla – as an example of social housing that could be quickly and easily built across the region.

The studio previously designed a similar proposal for social housing in 2013 in a town named Tepetzintan, after it found a backlog in the provision of government funded housing. It worked with residents to develop an alternative self-build scheme that utilised local bamboo to make a modular and prefabricated frame, along with local wood and stone.

However in 2016, Mexico's National Housing Commission reviewed its conditions for funding, and banned self-build projects that employed these materials and construction techniques.


Pardon of Former Peruvian President Fujimori Deals Blow to Fight Against Gender Violence

By Mariela Jara

LIMA, Jan 15 2018 (IPS) - The political crisis triggered in Peru by the presidential pardon of former president Alberto Fujimori granted on Christmas Eve casts a shadow of doubt over what actions will be taken to curb violence against women in this country, where 116 femicides were registered in 2017, and which ranks eighth with respect to gender-related murders in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The pardon devalues the actions that the government may undertake to achieve a life without violence, because it has released one of the worst violators of the human rights of women,” said Liz Meléndez, director of the non-governmental Flora Tristán Women’s Centre.

Meléndez pointed out that in the 1990s, Fujimori was responsible for a public policy that forcibly sterilised more than 200,000 Andean indigenous peasant women, a crime for which he will not be investigated or penalised since he was granted a presidential pardon.

“This impunity is outrageous,” she said, since due to problems of access to justice, poverty and discrimination, it was only possible to put together a file of 2,074 cases.


Brazil's far-right presidential contender gets soft drink named after him

Drinks company names new energy drink ‘Bolsomito’ after Jair Bolsonaro
‘Trump is doing an excellent job. That is the job we want in Brazil’

Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

Sun 14 Jan 2018 05.00 EST

Brazil’s extreme rightwing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro might not seem an obvious mascot for a fizzy drink: he has praised the country’s military dictatorship, said his children could never have been gay because they were too well-educated, and told a leftist lawmaker congresswoman that she was “too ugly to be raped”.

But a Brazilian company has named a new energy drink the “Bolsomyth” – “Bolsomito” in Portuguese – after the controversial Rio de Janeiro lawmaker.

Bolsonaro, a former army officer, is polling second after former president Luiz Inácio da Silva before October’s election.

. . .

The military dictatorship he defends imprisoned and tortured thousands of its opponents, including Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist guerrilla and Lula’s successor as Workers’ party president. Hundreds more were executed or disappeared.


The 'Black Hole' Optical Illusion of the Bird of Paradise Explained By Stephanie Pappas, Live Scienc

By Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor | January 11, 2018 01:34pm ET

The blackest feathers of these rainforest birds are fundamentally differently shaped, on a microscopic level, compared with regular black feathers. The nanostructure of the feather makes them particularly prone to scattering and reabsorbing light, and that in turn makes them not only black, but a dull black that seems to whisk light away.

"The black is so striking on these birds of paradise. It really does look different," said Teresa Feo, a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution's Division of Birds. "When you look at them, they're so dark your eyes can't focus on them. You almost feel a little woozy." [In Photos: Beautiful Hummingbirds of the World]

Blackest of blacks
Birds of paradise are better known for their dramatically flashy colors than their dark plumage. They are found in places like Indonesia and Australia, and are famous for their long tails, bright colors and showy mating dances.

Alongside their colorful feathers, though, many species sport matte black feathers that are "just so weird," Feo told Live Science. This weirdness prompted Harvard graduate student Dakota McCoy to start studying the feathers' structure to figure out why they were so good at absorbing light. Feo and several other colleagues would later join the project to help do imaging work and model the optics of the feather structures of five bird of paradise species and two plain black bird species.


Brazil Joins France in Dangerous Pursuit to Snuff Out Fake News

By Francesca Friday • 01/10/18 4:30pm

Brazilian President Michel Temer at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Brazil has joined France in the unapologetic, state-supported pursuit of online censorship, citing that an onslaught of fake news is disrupting its impending elections. Brazil’s Federal Police announced its plan in a tweet to “combat false news during the election process” by means of a “specially formed group” for the upcoming 2018 primaries, adding that “the measures are intended to identify and punish the authors of ‘fake news’ for or against candidates.”

The proposed group of government officials who will be responsible for filtering online political content the way they see fit, even though there is no legislation currently in place to warrant censorship to such an extremity, will be comprised of high-ranking judiciary officials, including conservative Supreme Court Judge Gilmar Mendes, who is notorious for halting the impeachment of President Michel Temer after he was charged with illegal campaign funding.

One of Brazil’s top police officials, Federal Police Director of Investigation and Organized Crime Eugênio Ricas, told Brazilian news site RF that the delegated task force is already mobilized and that their goal is “not the creation of a new law” but “to establish a protocol of action during the elections to combat fake news.”

When pressed on what legislation is currently in place to reprimand purveyors of fake news, Ricas issued a grave warning—if current law fails, they will enact the Law of National Security, an archaic piece of legislation instated by Brazil’s military state in 1983 that makes it a felony to “spread rumors that cause panic.” Although Ricas admits that “Brazil needs to modernize its legislation,” censorship laws from a past dictatorship do not perturb him. “If this does not happen it is our obligation to work with the legal framework we have,” he said.


'Totally Wrong' on Jupiter: What Scientists Gleaned from NASA's Juno Mission

By Hanneke Weitering, Space.com Staff Writer | January 10, 2018 02:04pm ET

- click for image -


Cyclones swirl at Jupiter's south pole in this photo from NASA's Juno spacecraft.
Credit: Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Before NASA sent its Juno spacecraft to explore Jupiter, astronomers were "totally wrong" about much of what they thought they knew about the planet, the mission's principal investigator, Scott Bolton, said during a lecture here at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Tuesday (Jan. 9).

Juno, which launched in 2011 and is currently orbiting Jupiter, is not the first spacecraft to study the gas giant up close. NASA's Pioneer and Voyager missions flew by Jupiter in the 1970s, and the Galileo spacecraft later spent eight years orbiting the planet. Even before that, humans had been studying Jupiter with telescopes for hundreds of years.

"Our ideas were totally wrong about the interior structure, about the atmosphere, [and] even about the magnetosphere," Bolton said. Astronomers believed that Jupiter had either a very small and dense core, or perhaps no core at all. But data from Juno revealed that Jupiter has an enormous, "fuzzy" core that might be partially dissolved. This discrepancy between scientists' expectations and the data suggests that there's a lot we still don't know about giant gas planets, he explained.

By the time Juno launched, astronomers had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the new images and data it would collect at Jupiter — or so they thought. [Photos: NASA's Juno Mission to Jupiter]


Why getting rid of Costa Rica's army 70 years ago has been such a success

Amanda Trejos, Special to USA TODAY
Published 6:05 a.m. ET Jan. 5, 2018 | Updated 10:28 a.m. ET Jan. 5, 2018

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are plagued by chronic poverty and violence that have sent a flood of refugees fleeing to the United States. Panama has gained the unwanted title as a world capital for money laundering and corruption. And all of them, plus Nicaragua, face recurrent political upheaval.

Yet amid this chaos, one Central American neighbor remains an island of political stability, economic prosperity and contentment: Costa Rica.

The country's secret is something that virtually no other country in the world can claim — no standing army. It has used the savings from defense spending to improve education, health care and a durable social safety net.

In 2018, Costa Rica will mark its 70th anniversary since it abolished its military, and that seems to suit the population. It ranked first in Latin America and 12th in world in happiness, according to the 2017 World Happiness Index. The Happy Planet Index ranked it No. 1 in the world.

Tourists visit the butterfly exhibit at the National Biodiversity Park, near Heredia, Costa Rica.
(Photo: Kent Gilbert, AP)


Only International Pressure Prevents the End of Funai, Says Indigenist

Only International Pressure Prevents the End of Funai, Says Indigenist
01/08/2018 - 10H49

Ouvir o texto

Married and the father of two children, indigenist Jair Candor, 57, is about to complete his 30th year working with several isolated indigenous groups in Brazil.

He is the coordinator of the Front for the Ethnic and Environmental Protection of Madeirinha-Juruena, which works in two conflicting areas in the northwest of the state of Mato Grosso. He has a pessimistic view of the future of Brazilian indigenous policies. "It is going from bad to worse," says Candor.


Folha - There are reports of isolated indigenous people killed by gold prospectors along the Amazonas river and in areas invaded by loggers. How do you see this scenario?

Jair Candor - I really do not see an improvement on the horizon. In my opinion, it is going from bad to worse. The influential political power in these areas is huge. We know that these are strong people with a lot of money. And these guys get what they want, because what the government wants today is the end of Funai (the National Indian Foundation). I tell my colleagues that the agency is still standing because of the isolated indigenous communities – because the attention given by the media abroad is very strong. That is the only factor that is still barely keeping it alive, because foreigners are harsh critics and it seems like they are more worried about the isolated communities here than the Brazilian government. If they were not isolated, Funai would already have become something else. We know that the big soybean and cattle farmers are taking over.


Interview: When the US Government Hides Evidence

January 9, 2018 12:00AM EST

US Government Can Construct Stories to Hide Illegal Searches

The US government can use evidence that it may have obtained illegally – from methods ranging from old-fashioned wiretaps to sophisticated data sweeps – to prosecute people without telling them how it got the evidence. Because the government wants to keep the source of this illegally obtained information secret, it concocts an alternative story to cover it up. This process, called “parallel construction,” is undermining the US judicial system. Researcher Sarah St.Vincent talks about her new report with Amy Braunschweiger, detailing the danger parallel construction creates for everyone in the US and why it needs to stop.

What does parallel construction look like?

We identified a case in Arizona where government officials illegally tracked a suspect’s rental car with a GPS device they’d secretly installed without a warrant. Then the federal official contacted the police near Flagstaff, Arizona, and told them to find a reason to pull over and search the car. So the local police pulled the person over, using the temporary paper license plate in the window as an excuse. They then used a drug-detecting dog to sniff the car and found drugs.

In the US we have a concept that’s called “the fruit of the poisonous tree.” That means prosecutors are not supposed to be allowed to enter anything stemming from an illegal search into evidence in court. If we let the government use something illegally gathered at trial, there’s little incentive for law enforcement to obey the law.

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