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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 135,997

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US global aid chief to resign; oversaw secret Cuba programs

Source: Associated Press

US global aid chief to resign; oversaw secret Cuba programs

By JACK GILLUM and DESMOND BUTLER
Associated Press
December 17, 2014 Updated 2 hours ago

WASHINGTON — The head of the nation’s global development agency said Wednesday he will step down from his post in February, following an announcement by the U.S. government that it would start talks toward restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Rajiv Shah, the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, gave no public reason for leaving the agency he’s lead since 2000. In a statement released Wednesday morning, he said he had “mixed emotions” but did not elaborate.

Shah’s announcement also came hours before U.S. officials confirmed on Wednesday that USAID contractor Alan Gross was freed from a Cuban prison. He was arrested in December 2009 and later sentenced to 15 years after Cuban authorities said he tried to smuggle illegal technology into the country.

USAID, under Shah, drew intense criticism from some U.S. lawmakers and the Cuban government for its Cuba programs. An AP investigation this year revealed the agency – with the help of another Washington-based contractor – created a Twitter-like service, staged a health workshop to recruit activists and infiltrated the island’s hip-hop community.




Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/12/17/4032862/us-international-aid-head-to-step.html#storylink=cpy

The spirit is willing: Papal role in Cuba thaw started with John Paul II

The spirit is willing: Papal role in Cuba thaw started with John Paul II
by Tony Karon -
Dec
17
4:25 PM



Pope John Paul II traveled to
Fidel Castro's Cuba in 1998.
Jose Goitia / AP

U.S. officials have reportedly acknowledged that Pope Francis played a significant role in nudging President Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro toward the rapprochement signaled by Wednesday’s prisoner release and White House policy announcement.

But the Vatican’s role in promoting a U.S.-Cuba thaw is not a new innovation by a pontiff whose political inclinations are clearly more progressive than his predecessors — and closer to the more left-of-center consensus in his native continent of Latin America.

Obama’s announcement, after all, acknowledged that the U.S. had finally acknowledged the failure of an embargo long decried — and ignored — by the vast majority of the international community. At this year’s version of the annual U.N. General Assembly vote on the Cuba embargo, 188 of the 193 member states voted to strike it down; only the U.S. and Israel voted no.

“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Obama vowed Wednesday, promising “a new chapter among the nations of the Americas”.

More:
http://america.aljazeera.com/blogs/scrutineer/2014/12/17/pope-cuba-thaw.html

Researchers applaud U.S.-Cuba accord

Researchers applaud U.S.-Cuba accord
By Richard Stone and Allie Wilkinson 17 December 2014 6:00 pm

A new era in U.S.-Cuba relations could be a boon for scientific cooperation between the two nations. The diplomatic breakthrough between the Cold War foes, announced separately today by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, is expected to immediately loosen restrictions on U.S. and Cuban scientists getting together for joint research. It may also pave the way for U.S. organizations to sponsor workshops and meetings in Cuba and to export state-of-the-art instruments to Cuba, activities now essentially prohibited under U.S. law.

“This is huge news for science,” says David E. Guggenheim, president of Ocean Doctor, a nonprofit that has sponsored marine research with Cuba. “These policy changes will go a long way to ensure a more robust science relationship,” said Alan Leshner, CEO of AAAS, in a statement. (AAAS publishes ScienceInsider and has been working in recent years to promote science diplomacy with Cuba.) The new Obama administration policy, Leshner says, should boost collaboration on such topics as the spread of emerging pathogens like the chikungunya virus and atmospheric research on hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. has imposed a web of sanctions, including a trade embargo, on Cuba for more than half a century. The U.S. Treasury Department prohibits most expenditures by U.S. citizens in Cuba, including tourism. In 2009, however, the agency relaxed its regulations to allow U.S. scientists to conduct research visits to Cuba under a general license. That rule is unchanged.

~ snip ~
Scientists are already celebrating. “It’s such an emotional day,” says Guggenheim, who has made 81 trips to Cuba. “I was actually just out marching in the street with Cuban students celebrating all of this.”

More:
http://news.sciencemag.org/policy/2014/12/researchers-applaud-u-s-cuba-accord

Television station owner gunned down in Honduras

Television station owner gunned down in Honduras

New York, December 16, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of television station owner and news presenter Reynaldo Paz Mayes, who was shot dead in Honduras on Monday, and calls on authorities to fully investigate the crime and bring those responsible to justice.

Paz, 48, was exercising in an outdoor sporting complex in the city of Comayagua in central Honduras on Monday morning when unidentified gunmen shot him twice in the back, according to news reports. Paz was the owner and founder of a small local television station, RPM TV Canal 28, where he also hosted a daily and weekly news program, according to news reports.

"Honduras has a disturbing pattern of letting journalists' murders remain unsolved and unexplained, perpetuating the cycle of impunity," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "Honduran authorities must launch an immediate and thorough investigation into the murder of Reynaldo Paz Mayes, fully examine all possible motives, and bring those responsible to justice."

Local journalists told CPJ on Tuesday that despite having no background in journalism, Paz had founded the television station two years ago and used his news programs to voice support for the opposition political party LIBRE and to criticize the 2009 coup that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya. As well as news, the channel featured sports, music, and entertainment shows, according to its Facebook page.

More:
https://cpj.org/2014/12/television-station-owner-gunned-down-in-honduras.php

Salvadorans protest plan to name street for death-squad chief

Salvadorans protest plan to name street for death-squad chief
Published December 16, 2014/
EFE

Victims of El Salvador's armed conflict marched Tuesday in this capital to reject the mayor's decision to name a street after the late Maj. Roberto D'Aubuisson, suspected mastermind of the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

"In the name of the victims, we wish to ask Mayor Norman Quijano and his City Council to find a way...to modify that municipal decision," a representative of the protesters, Jose Antonio Mejia, told reporters.

The march for peace was carried out in honor of Romero and in opposition to changing the name of San Antonio Abad street to Roberto D'Aubuisson, something the Catholic Church also opposes.

The march began with the placing of a floral tribute in commemoration of the late Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas in the San Salvador plaza that bears his name.

More:
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2014/12/16/salvadorans-protest-plan-to-name-street-for-death-squad-chief/

Unbelievable!

[center][font size=6]"BLOWTORCH BOB BOULEVARD" [/font]

Congratulations to the brilliant mayor for his towering leadership and goodness. Sarcasm.[/center]
Saturday, March 6, 2010

Blowtorch Bob: The Duty to Remember Roberto D’Aubuisson

El Salvador’s Roberto D’Aubuisson (1944-1992) was uniquely malevolent. He would throw babies in the air and shoot them in midair, just for fun. The death squads of which he was the leader, hunted down and executed insurgents in the slowest, most exquisitely painful ways possible. The Spanish Inquisition could have learned a thing or two about torture from him: his favorite method involved a blow torch, earning him the nickname of “Blowtorch Bob.” I bet no one ever called him that to his face.

During the Salvadoran Civil War, 75,000 people were killed; 8000 were disappeared, and one million were left homeless, slaughtered by D’Aubuisson and his death squads. They killed a group of Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter; and a group of Catholic lay nuns who had just arrived in El Salvador. In El Mozote, they killed at least 794 townspeople: they separated the men from the women, locked them in a church, then took them out in small groups. After they raped the women, they murdered each one of them. Then they burned the bodies.

His crowning achievement was assassinating Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero: On March 24, 1980, one of his gunmen shot him in the heart as he was saying Mass. Romero’s offense? Demanding the end to the killing of innocent men, women, and children in El Salvador’s Civil War. What an odd demand from a Catholic priest: love thy neighbor.

When throat cancer killed D’Aubuisson on February 20, 1992 , sending him, one hopes, to join Satan’s own favorite sons, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Chauchesku in the first circle of hell, I vowed I would remember and celebrate his date of death every year. So today, I remember by telling my students, my friends, and you, my readers, about the fiend of El Salvador, Roberto D’Aubuisson.

D’Aubuisson’s education at the School of the Americas is particularly galling. The SOA, chartered by the United States Congress, and sponsored by the United States Army at Fort Benning, Georgia, gained its fame by training Latin American military officers in methods of interrogation, torture, kidnapping and executions. These methods were described by former United States Representative Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) as “worthy of the Soviet gulag.” Our government allowed and encouraged this instructional program as part of a perverted foreign policy focused on maintaining stability in the region at any cost rather than in protecting the basic human rights of all of the citizens of the hemisphere.

More:
http://professinghistory.blogspot.com/2010/03/blowtorch-bob-duty-to-remember-roberto.html

[center] [/center]

“All I know is that D’Aubuisson is a free enterprise man and deeply religious.” – Jesse Helms

“Take care of this archbishop, these Jesuits, these other priests and especially these foreigners who are ruining the minds of our children. And if the gringos want to help the communists and cut military aid, we didn’t need military aid in 1932. If we had to kill 30,000…in 1932 (during “La Matanza” or “The Slaughter” where farmers and natives were killed during a revolt against the fascist government), we’ll kill 250,000 today.” — Roberto D’Aubuisson telling a rally of supporters what they would have to do ­after winning.

“The major has lived, step by step, the process of pacification of the country.” — Armando Calderon Sol on D’Aubuisson.


Who is this handsome man pictured above, waving his clenched fist at someone off-camera and with his big mouth wide open? It’s Roberto “Blowtorch Bob” D’Aubuisson, given such a charming name for his penchant for using blue-hot butane torches on his victim’s limbs and genitalia during the torture sessions of suspected leftists, liberals, communists and labor leaders. He became infamous in his home country of El Salvador during the civil war against the leftist FMLN movement for leading CIA-trained death squads that carried out scores of massacres. He was trained at the infamous “School of the Americas” in 1972.

The Hitler-loving D’Aubuisson was quoted as saying, “You Germans were very intelligent. You realized that the Jews were responsible for the spread of Communism and you began to kill them.” A former National Guard and founder of the ultra-conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance or ARENA party, it wasn’t popular support but rather support from abroad that was the true source of his power. Robert E. White, Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to El Salvador, called him a “pathological killer” on American national television.

There is no area of the Cold War quite as consistent as the United States’ support for jackbooted anti-communist dictators and neo-fascist mass murderers such as ole’ Bob. His victims were by no means limited to left-wing categories—other undesirables in Bob’s way to neo-liberal privatized power were civilians, villagers, priests, nuns, women, children, infants and pretty much anyone unlucky enough to get between his death squads and supporters of the left-wing in El Salvador.

Despite this, D’Aubuisson and many others like him received exorbitant amounts of financial support and training from the United States. As the New York Times stated,

“In El Salvador, American aid was used for police training in the 1950’s and 1960’s and many officers in the three branches of the police later became leaders of the right wing death squads that killed tens of thousands of people in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s” (1).

A favorite of wealthy landowners and rich capitalists, D’Aubuisson first became known through nighttime television broadcasts where he accused civilian leaders, teachers and unionists of being communist subversives (the mutilated bodies of some were later found). D’Aubuisson studied intelligence and security in Virginia and New York, and in 1970 and 1971 studied at the International Police Academy in Washington. The academy was later closed after members of Congress said it had taught techniques of torture.

More:
http://theredphoenixapl.org/2012/08/12/cold-war-killer-file-the-death-squads-of-el-salvador-part-1/

Colombia’s Congress approves wealth tax

Colombia’s Congress approves wealth tax
Dec 16, 2014 posted by Adriaan Alsema

Colombia’s Congress has approved a polemic wealth tax meant to increase revenue for the government that — faced with dropping oil prices — is more than $5 billion short of closing the 2015 budget.

The tax reform was approved by the House of Representatives in the final voting round, days after the Senate had approved the reform. The bill will now be sent to President Juan Manuel Santos for sanctioning.

The newly approved wealth tax is meant to increase the government’s spending power with $22 billion in the coming four years. Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas told press after the vote that the money will mainly be used for social investment projects.

According to the new tax system, those who possess property worth more than $500 thousand will have to pay a 1.15% tax over this property next year. The tax rate will then gradually be lowered and abandoned in 2018 for businesses as agreed with employers.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/colombias-congress-approves-wealth-tax/

Pro-government Venezuelans protest US sanctions

Pro-government Venezuelans protest US sanctions
Dec 15, 4:24 PM EST

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Supporters of the Venezuelan government have marched in the streets of the nation's capital to protest sanctions that US lawmakers approved last week.

The South American country's socialist government called Monday's march to protest the move by the US Congress and mark the 15-year anniversary of Venezuela's constitution.

The proposed sanctions would freeze the assets and ban visas of people accused of violating the human rights of Venezuelan government critics. The legislation was introduced in the spring amid a violent crackdown on anti-government street protests. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.

Thousands of Venezuelans marched bearing signs with slogans such as "respect Venezuela" and "Yankee go home." The demonstration culminated in a speech by President Nicolas Maduro.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LT_VENEZUELA_SANCTIONS_PROTEST?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-12-15-16-24-25

(Short article, no more at link.)



Chile’s Plantation Economy

December 15, 2014

The Brutal Truth

Chile’s Plantation Economy

by ROBERT HUNZIKER


The developed world is just crazy in love with the “miracle of Chile,” as expressed by Milton Friedman some years ago. The accolades are everywhere, ranked as a “high-income economy” by the World Bank. The country has the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. It is a role model for neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism is the Milton Friedman school of thought that the best government is the least government. After all, people can take care of themselves and make much more money when they are free to make decisions in a deregulated free marketplace. The operative formula is: Less government equals more profits for the private sector. As such, Chile represents the epitome of neoliberalism, and the likely future direction of America.

The “miracle of Chile” is absolutely true, if you are already wealthy.

However, once the curtain is pulled back, Chile’s complexities defy the blaring of trumpets for neoliberalism’s goddess of capitalism.

Chile is a “plantation economy,” similar in many respects to the plantation economy in the U.S. South during the 19th century. At its peak, there were 4-5 million slaves owned by only 3.8% of the people. The slave owners bought slaves, housed them and fed them.

Whereas today, in Chile, the moniker “slave” has been changed to “worker,” and rather than provide room and board like 19th century slave owners did, they now provide a stipend of $500 per month for the workers to provide their own room and board. Thus, removing the stigma of slave ownership. It is estimated that one-half of all Chileans make less than $500 per month. Thus, the slave market is rather sizeable, measurably more so than in the United States of America in 1850.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/15/chiles-plantation-economy/

The Proclamation Of A Lone Superpower Above The Law: The Invasion Of Panama

December 15, 2014

The Proclamation Of A Lone Superpower Above The Law

The Invasion Of Panama

by MATT PEPPE


Twenty five years ago, before dawn on December 20, 1989, U.S. forces descended on Panama City and unleashed one of the most violent, destructive terror attacks of the century. U.S. soldiers killed more people than were killed on 9/11. They systematically burned apartment buildings and shot people indiscriminately in the streets. Dead bodies were piled on top of each other; many were burned before identification. The aggression was condemned internationally, but the message was clear: the United States military was free to do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted, and they would not be bound by ethics or laws.

The invasion and ensuing occupation produced gruesome scenes: “People burning to death in the incinerated dwellings, leaping from windows, running in panic through the streets, cut down in cross fire, crushed by tanks, human fragments everywhere,” writes William Blum. [1]

Years later the New York Times interviewed a survivor of the invasion, Sayira Marín, whose “hands still tremble” when she remembers the destruction of her neighborhood.

“I take pills to calm down,” Marín told the paper. “It has gotten worse in recent days. There are nights when I jump out of bed screaming. Sometimes I have dreams of murder. Ugly things.”

In the spring of 1989, a wave of revolutions had swept across the Eastern bloc. In November, the Berlin Wall fell. The Cold War was over. No country was even a fraction as powerful as the United States. Rather than ushering in an era of peace and demilitarization, U.S. military planners intensified their expansion of global hegemony. They were pathological about preventing any rival to their complete military and economic domination.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/15/the-invasion-of-panama/

Pinochet’s Mad Scientist

Pinochet’s Mad Scientist

December 15, 2014

From the Archive: Much like the 9/11 attacks, the Cold War plunged the U.S. government into the “dark side,” especially in Latin America where the CIA colluded with torturers and assassins, leading to grisly murders and enduring mysteries, as Samuel Blixen described in 1999.

By Samuel Blixen (First published on Jan. 13, 1999 and updated in 2006)


On Nov. 15, 1992, a terrified scientist — trapped inside a white bungalow in the Uruguayan beach town of Parque del Plata — broke a window to escape. Chubby, in his mid-40s, the man struggled through the opening. Once outside, furtively and slowly, he picked his way through the town’s streets to the local police station.

“I am a Chilean citizen,” the scientist told the police. He pulled a folded photostatic copy of his identification papers concealed in his right shoe. “I have been abducted by the armies of Uruguay and my country,” he claimed.
The scientist, rumpled with a graying beard, said he feared for his life. He insisted that his murder had been ordered by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, then the chief of Chile’s army who had ruled as a dictator from 1973 to 1990.

The motive for the execution order was the man’s anticipated testimony at a politically sensitive trial in Chile, a case that could have sent reverberations all the way to Washington, D.C., potentially embarrassing the man who in November 1992 still sat in the White House, President George H.W. Bush.

The scientist had worked as an accomplice in a terror campaign that included the bombing deaths of Chilean dissident Orlando Letelier and an American co-worker Ronni Moffitt as they drove to work in Washington in 1976. That terrorist attack in America’s capital had occurred when George H.W. Bush was CIA director, despite prior warnings to the CIA about the plot.

More:
https://consortiumnews.com/2014/12/15/pinochets-mad-scientist/

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