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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Colombia After Peace

Colombia After Peace

With peace on the horizon, the Colombian left’s future seems hopeful, but daunting challenges confront it.

by Kyla Sankey

A Patriotic March rally in Bogotá, Colombia in 2012. Marcha Patriótica / Flickr

The situation in Colombia in recent years in many ways resembles the experience of other Latin American countries in the 1980s and 1990s. The devastations of neoliberalism — economic turmoil, poverty, an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, the collapse of agriculture, and the destruction of nature — finally sparked a mass movement resisting the country’s economic model and rejecting its ruling elite. However, unlike many of their Latin American counterparts, the Colombian left has been unable to convert this popular energy into a significant political force. They have lacked the conditions, but also the capacity to transform resistance to neoliberalism into an alternative political project.

A long history of systematic state-sponsored violence against all forms of collective activity has repeatedly thwarted the Left’s organizational efforts. The Patriotic March (PM), one of the country’s most important social movements, has denounced the assassinations of ninety-five of its leaders this year alone. The Left fears it is on the cusp of a new wave of political violence akin to the 1990s, when far-right paramilitary forces killed over four thousand members of the Patriotic Union, almost entirely wiping out this left-wing party.

But political repression alone cannot fully explain the Colombian left’s weakness. The strategic questions it must answer — about sustaining the energy of a mass movement, organizing in urban slums, overcoming fragmentation, and building coalitions — raise contradictions, tensions, and divisions that remain unresolved. These challenges have undermined the Left’s ability to deal a decisive blow to the establishment in this time of crisis.

The Agrarian Strike

In 2013 Colombia experienced a massive series of nationwide mobilizations. With 1,027 protests occurring throughout the country, this was the biggest upsurge in social struggle Colombia has ever seen. The national agrarian strike, which grew out of rural protests against neoliberal dislocations, became the most important of these actions.


The United States might be the next Argentina

By Matt O'Brien

December 22 at 10:22 AM

Argentina could have been the United States.

Like the U.S., it was one of the world's 10 richest countries at the turn of the last century. And also like the U.S., that made it a New World magnet for Old World immigrants. But unlike the U.S., that was as good as it ever got. There was no Argentinian Dream. Just a nearly never-ending nightmare of either falling behind gradually or falling behind suddenly. All of which was self-inflicted.

Its fundamental problem was how unequal it was. About 300 families controlled most of the land, the economy, and the government. Everyone else was just a cog in their beef-and-grain-exporting machine. Or, as the Financial Times's Alan Beattie has put it, Argentina is "what North America might have looked" like "if the South had won the Civil War and gone on to dominate the North." Which is to say that it was a semi-feudal aristocracy dependent on a steady supply of cheap labor.

If this sounds like a good way to start a class war, that's because it was. Up until recently, Argentina had spent most of the last 100 years alternating between left-wing populists who promised to share the country's wealth, and right-wing military dictatorships that tried to stop that from happening. And, of course, with the stakes so high, neither side was willing to play by the rules. The Peronists tried to tip elections in their favor by locking up the opposition's leaders, shutting down their newspapers, and getting rid of unions that weren't loyal to the regime. The army, meanwhile, didn't bother with any kind of democratic pretense. It launched coup after coup after coup, outlawing the Peronist Party, and, in the 1970s, "disappearing" tens of thousands of activists and ordinary people too.


Crossing the Darin Gap

Migrants from around the globe are forging a grueling path to America — through the heart of the rainforest

By Kate Linthicum | Photos by Carolyn Cole

Dec. 22, 2016

The day began with a crack of lightning over Turbo, a Colombian port city built along a murky, trash-strewn bay.

Once the site of gun battles between leftist guerrillas and paramilitary groups, the city’s narrow streets now swirled with all types of commerce: Shirtless men hauled timber to the docks. Women hawked freshly gutted fish. And smugglers offered their services to migrants from all over the world on their way to the United States.

“Every day they come,” said Emelides Muñoz Meza, a local official who has found himself consulting maps of the world to understand where some of the thousands of foreigners making their way through his city have journeyed from.

“Eritrea? I didn’t even know this country existed,” Muñoz said.


Montana ski town roiled by white supremacist 'troll army'

Source: Associated Press

Montana ski town roiled by white supremacist 'troll army'

Matt Volz, Associated Press

Updated 2:43 pm, Thursday, December 22, 2016

The email to a group that promotes diversity in northwestern Montana warned that white supremacists would encircle the advocacy organization's office and end with someone "swinging by a rope from the nearest lamp post."

"Those days are not far off Jew," wrote the author, identified only as Rudolf, to the group Love Lives Here in the Flathead Valley. "It's best you leave now while you can."

The ski resort town of Whitefish, 6,600 people strong in a valley just west of Glacier National Park about 60 miles from the Canadian border, is an unlikely flashpoint between white supremacist groups and residents trying to preserve the town's reputation as a welcoming vacation destination.

But white supremacists have also been drawn or actively recruited over the years to the libertarian-leaning Flathead Valley in their search of a haven where they can preach and practice their views unmolested. Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the so-called "alt-right" movement, an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism, is a part-time resident and his National Policy Institute is headquartered there.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/us/article/Montana-ski-town-roiled-by-white-supremacist-10813783.php

Road project reveals millennia-old wetland-gardening site

Road project reveals millennia-old wetland-gardening site

As early as 1,800 BC, ancestors of the Katzie First Nation appear to have engineered the wetland environment to increase yields of wapato

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press
December 21, 2016

VANCOUVER – An ancient wetland-gardening site unearthed during a road-building project in British Columbia is as culturally important as any other wonder of the world, says a member of the indigenous group who directed the excavation project.

A study published Wednesday found that as early as 1,800 BC, ancestors of the Katzie First Nation in B.C.’s Lower Mainland were engineering the wetland environment to increase the yield of a valuable, semi-aquatic plant known as a wapato. The report describes the finding as the first direct archeological evidence of the cultivation of wild plants in the Pacific Northwest.

“This is as important to us as the Egyptian pyramids, or the temples in Thailand, or Machu Picchu,” said Debbie Miller, who works with an archeological consulting firm owned by the Katzie Nation.

Road building crews uncovered a rock platform measuring about 12-square metres made up of flat stones that would have rested several feet underwater four millenniums ago. The distribution of the stones into a pattern of single and double layers, as well as their closely packed arrangement, suggests they were placed deliberately, the study published online in ScienceAdvances found.


Also posted in LBN:

Artificial leaf could make a medicinal mini-factory

Artificial leaf could make a medicinal mini-factory

Michael Irving
|3 hours ago

Leaves are kind of like nature's power plants, converting incoming sunlight into energy for the plant to thrive on. Inspired by the real thing, scientists have previously created artificial leaves that function in much the same way as their natural counterparts to produce electricity and even liquid fuels. Now a team at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is using a similar system to produce chemicals, which could one day lead to solar-powered "mini-factories" that can produce drugs, pesticides and other chemicals almost anywhere.

To mimic the light-capturing molecules in leaves, the researchers turned to luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs), materials seen in solar-harvesting window technology and used to catch and amplify laser beams carrying data in Facebook's drone-mounted internet project. These LSCs absorb incoming light, convert it to specific wavelengths and then guide the photons to the edges of the device.

The TU/e team's take on the idea was to create a leaf-shaped device, made from a silicon rubber LSC, with a thin channel running through it like the veins in a leaf. As chemicals are pumped through the channel, the LSC material directs sunlight towards it, and the high intensity of the sunlight can trigger a chemical reaction with the liquid in the channel. Essentially, one substance enters, and by the time it comes out the other end, the device will have converted it into a different chemical, which may be useful as a drug, fuel or other agent.

"Using a reactor like this means you can make drugs anywhere, in principle, whether malaria drugs in the jungle or paracetamol on Mars," says Timothy Noël, lead researcher on the study. "All you need is sunlight and this mini-factory."


Mexico City Main Square among the Top 20 Sites to Visit in the World

Mexico City Main Square among the Top 20 Sites to Visit in the World

Mexico, Dec 21 (Prensa Latina) The ice rink at the Zocalo, the main square in central Mexico City, is considered by the magazine National Geographic Traveler among the best 20 places in the world to visit this winter, the Ministry of Labor and Employment Promotion reported today.

The institution highlighted the importance of this project, which allows thousands of people to go skating for free on three rinks, sliding down two slides or traveling through two frozen paths.

One thousand people per hour are assisted every day, and they have calculated that one million people would come to this place the current year, the entity said.

Every year, the Mexico City government sets this ice rink, which will remain open until January 8, at the Constitution Square at the Zocalo.

In this place, located in the historic center of the capital city, there are emblematic buildings, such as former City Hall Palace and the Government Palace.


(Short article, no more at link.)


Fidel Castro hailed at UN as iconic leader of 20th century

Source: Associated Press

Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press
Updated 5:13 pm, Tuesday, December 20, 2016

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The president of the U.N. General Assembly called Fidel Castro "one of the 20th century's most iconic and influential leaders" at a memorial tribute Tuesday to the late commander of the Cuban revolution who led his country for nearly 50 years.

Peter Thompson told the ceremony in the assembly chamber that for many people Castro "embodied the struggle of the global south for independence, justice and development."

He said Castro's "activism in pursuit of a fairer and more just world made him a symbol of resistance and inspiration to people across the world in Latin America, Africa and beyond."

Nearly 30 representatives of various groups and countries lauded Castro, who died Nov. 25 at the age of 90. But there were no speakers from Western nations.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/us/article/Fidel-Castro-hailed-at-UN-as-iconic-leader-of-10809367.php

General Pinochets long shadow still hangs over Chiles National Stadium

General Pinochet’s long shadow still hangs over Chile’s National Stadium
December 19, 2016 2.52pm EST

A decade after General Augusto Pinochet died, Chileans still feel the legacy of his regime and its horrific actions on a daily basis – and perhaps nowhere more tangibly than in football. Despite the celebrations that marked Chile’s victory in the Copa América Centenario in June 2016, football is still a highly sensitive area of Chilean culture. At the heart of it all is the country’s national stadium, the Estadio Nacional, in Santiago.

The morning after the bloody 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power and left democratically elected president Salvador Allende dead, tens of thousands of Allende’s supporters were detained by the military, first in another sports stadium, the Estadio Chile, and other centres in the capital. (Among those held was singer-songwriter Víctor Jara, after whom the venue was eventually renamed.)

Within days, thousands of these detainees were transferred to the Estadio Nacional. It is estimated that a week later there were 7,000 prisoners being held there, including around 250 non-Chilean nationals. Over the course of the next three months, some 40,000 men and women were imprisoned. Some of them were tortured and executed.

. . .

Today, when players line up in the stadium at the start of a game, a section of the stands remains empty, bearing the words “Un pueblo sin memoria es un pueblo sin futuro” – a people with no memory is a people with no future. And alongside these public memorials, a lot of work has gone into commemorating and dealing with the stadium’s horrific associations.


See the New Species Discovered in This Ecologically Threatened Part of the World

Mahita Gajanan @mahitagajanan
Tyler Essary @tyleressary92
3:33 PM ET
    
Researchers discovered 163 new species

Researchers confirmed the discovery of 163 new species in the Greater Mekong region, according to a report from the World Wildlife Fund.

Among the new species were a rainbow-headed snake, a three-centimeter long frog and a newt covered in red and black markings, evoking Star Trek‘s Klingons, the report said. Scientists also discovered a rare banana species from Thailand.

The Greater Mekong, which spans Southeast Asia, is under intense pressure as developments of mines, roads and dams threaten the environment. Poaching of bush meat and the illegal wildlife trade also threaten the species
—often before they are even discovered.

“The Greater Mekong region is a magnet for the world’s conservation scientists because of the incredible diversity of species that continue to be discovered here,” Jimmy Borah, wildlife program manager for WWF-Greater Mekong, said. “These scientists, the unsung heroes of conservation, know they are racing against time to ensure that these newly discovered species are protected.”


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