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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Ecuador Has the Best Social and Development Policies, Says UN

Ecuador Has the Best Social and Development Policies, Says UN

Published 25 March 2016

Ecuador is one of the most “resilient” countries in Latin America in how it has been able to cope with the current recession.

Ecuador has created some of Latin America's best social development and poverty reduction policies over the last few years, according to the United Nations Development Program.

The UNDP regional representative, Jessica Faieta, highlighted some of Ecuador's achievements in her last conference in the South American country Thursday. Among them include major advancements in poverty reduction, education, access to health care, and empowering women, among others.

Faieta added that these advancements continued despite the country going through a period of economic deceleration, caused mostly by the plunge in oil prices.

“Ecuador has one of Latin America’s most innovative, effective and interesting social agendas from the perspective of the United Nations and it is precisely in a moment for focusing its social and economic policies to safeguard people,” Faieta said in the framework of the Ecuadorean legislative accountability.


Open Letter to the International Community about the political situation in Brazil

Open Letter to the International Community about the political situation in Brazil
Professors and researchers from Brazilian universities 26 March 2016

A new type of “judicial-mediatic coup”, more complex and sophisticated than the military coup, is under way in Brazil. Brazilian intellectuals seek support from the international community. Español

We, professors and researchers from Brazilian universities, hereby address the International Academic Community to report serious breaches in the rule of law currently taking place in Brazil.

After a long history of coups and a violent military dictatorship, our country has enjoyed its longest period of democratic stability since the 1988 Constitution established a number of individual and civil rights.

Despite progress in recent years with respect to social policy, Brazil remains a deeply unequal country with a political system marked by high levels of patronage and corruption. The influence of big business in the electoral process through private campaign financing has led to consecutive corruption scandals involving politicians from all sides.

In recent years, a national outcry against corruption has increasingly dominated public opinion. Public accountability and law enforcement agencies have responded by intensifying anti-corruption efforts, targeting major companies and political elites.

Unfortunately, this laudable process has been used to destabilize a democratically elected government, resulting in an exacerbation of the current economic and political crisis in our country. The same judiciary that should protect the political and legal integrity of our country has become an epicenter of this process.

The main anti-corruption investigation, the “Operação Lava Jato” (Operation Car Wash), is headed by a lower level federal judge, Sérgio Moro, who has systematically utilized procedures that Brazilian legislation clearly defines as exceptional, such as pre-trial detention and coercive transportation of witnesses for depositions. Arbitrary detentions have been openly justified as a method to pressure the accused into accepting plea bargains in which they denounce alleged accomplices. Information about the cases has been regularly and selectively leaked to the media. Indeed, evidence suggests that the press has received prior information about important police operations so as to mobilize public opinion against the accused. Even the nation’s President was targeted by an illegal wiretap. The above-named judge subsequently handed over excerpts of both legal and illegal wiretaps to the press for public disclosure, even when they involved private discussions with no relevance to the investigation. The purpose was clearly to embarrass specific politicians.

Complaints against leaders of political parties in the opposition have been disregarded and silenced by the mainstream press. At the same time, although the “Operação Lava Jato” has yet to accuse President Dilma Roussef, the corruption investigations have been used to support impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Eduardo Cunha, an opposition congressmen. Cunha, however, is accused of corruption and is being investigated by the Ethics Committee of the same House

When the actions of public authorities begin to challenge basic legal rights such as the presumption of innocence, equal protection, and due process, we must exercise caution. When noble ends seem to justify procedural breaches, the danger is enormous.

Sérgio Moro does not have the necessary exemption and impartiality to head the current investigations. The fight against corruption must be conducted within strict legal boundaries that respect the fundamental rights of defendants.

Segments of the judiciary involved in this process have worked in close in alliance with the mainstream media, that has been historically aligned with Brazil’s political oligarchy. In particular, the country’s largest television station, the Globo Television Network, openly supported the military dictatorship (1964-1985).

We fear that the breakdown of the rule of law under way is a threat to Brazilian democracy that may lead to grave and even violent social polarization. For these reasons, we ask our colleagues abroad for solidarity and support in the defense of legality and of Brazil’s democratic institutions.


America’s Astounding Human Rights Hypocrisy in Cuba

America’s Astounding Human Rights Hypocrisy in Cuba

Posted on Mar 25, 2016
By Harvey Wasserman

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America has more people incarcerated (2.2 million) than any other country. (Bart Everson / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Our American president’s long-overdue visit to Cuba was a great thing for many reasons. But maybe our elected officials should cease their hypocritical yapping about the human rights situation in Cuba until they come clean about what’s happening here in the United States.

To be sure, there is much to say about how this authoritarian regime has handled dissent. The details abound in the corporate media. But the idea of the United States lecturing Cuba or any other country on this planet about human rights comes down somewhere between embarrassing and nauseating. Consider:

•The U.S. right now has the world’s largest prison population by far. There are 2.2 million citizens in prison here for offenses that include smoking pot and failing to pay off certain debts. At its peak, there were 2.5 million in Stalin’s Soviet Gulag.

•The U.S. prison population is hugely overfilled with African-Americans and Hispanics.

•The racial bias of the prison population is directly related to a deliberate Jim Crow strategy of disenfranchisement aimed at keeping people of color from voting.

•There are more citizens in U.S. prisons than there are prisoners in China, another authoritarian country. China’s population is 4 to 5 times as large as that of the U.S. They do not have an alleged Bill of Rights.


Journalist Robert Cox Recalls Work During Argentina's Dirty War

Journalist Robert Cox Recalls Work During Argentina's Dirty War

Updated March 25, 2016·6:58 PM ET

Published March 25, 2016·4:26 PM ET

President Obama paid tribute to the Argentines who suffered and died during the "Dirty War" starting in the 1970s. Among those he singled out for praise Thursday was journalist Robert Cox, then editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, who helped to reveal the disappearances, torture, and murder of leftists and others under the military junta. NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Cox about his work during that period.


Argentines are marking the 40th anniversary of the military coup that set off the Dirty War, a seven-year-long wave of political oppression that claimed thousands of lives. President Obama, who's just returned from a visit to Argentina, acknowledged the victims of the Dirty War there earlier this week. And he also acknowledged some of those who stood beside them.


BARACK OBAMA: The journalists, like Bob Cox, who bravely reported on human rights abuses despite threats to them and their families.

SIEGEL: Robert Cox edited the English-language Buenos Aires Herald. He ultimately had to leave Argentina. He moved to Charleston, S.C. But at age 82, he now returns regularly to Buenos Aires, and he was with the president there this week. He joins us now from Argentina. Welcome to the program.

BOB COX: Thank you. It's a great pleasure to be here.

SIEGEL: Take us back those days 40 years ago. Political dissidents were, in the phrase of the day, being disappeared. You were a newspaper editor. You faced a choice about how to cover what was going on. What led you to act as you did?

COX: What I realized was is that we could save lives. That sounds extraordinary, but it is what happened. And we had to just find the ways to do it in such ways that the government wouldn't deal with us as they dealt with other people. The point was to get the story out, too, because, with that, we were able to occasionally - well, fairly frequently, really - get the government to release people. I have friends now who survived the torture chambers there because I wrote a story about them. It's an incredible - so many incredible stories like that.

SIEGEL: The way that the Buenos Aires Harold managed to do this was actually quite fascinating. The idea was, if the families of people who had been disappeared filed a writ of habeas corpus, then you could cover a legal action in court - the filing of the writ and report on the content of it- and get away with it.

COX: We decided that's what we would do, and we did get away with it. It was chaos in that time. It was like some vortex of horror in Argentina, but most people managed to not see what was happening. One of the things that I take away with it is the ability of people to compartmentalize everything according to how they want to feel most comfortable.


Blood on the Tracks: Yellowstone Buffalo Atrocities

March 25, 2016
Blood on the Tracks: Yellowstone Buffalo Atrocities

by Louisa Willcox

This winter, 582 Yellowstone buffalo have been killed, either by hunters or government agents. The killing is escalating as winter drags on and buffalo, desperate for food, leave Yellowstone Park for lower elevation grasslands north in Montana. Hundreds more buffalo could be sent to slaughter or quarantine by the time spring green-up occurs, when buffalo return to graze in the protected core of the Park.

Once buffalo approach the border of the nation’s first park, management turns fundamentally hostile. As in the case of grizzly bears and wolves, management of buffalo caters primarily to a minority of well-heeled and politically well-connected agriculture interests at the expense of the broader public, who flock to Yellowstone to see these rare and iconic species in the flesh. More on what is behind this later.

Yellowstone supports the largest and most genetically pure free-roaming buffalo population in the country. In most other places buffalo have been interbred with domestic cattle. The comeback of Yellowstone’s buffalo from the brink of extinction is one of the greatest wildlife success stories in history of the US.

We came close to losing buffalo in the American West, which is incredible given that they once numbered between 21 and 88 million animals. It is important to remember that the 4,500 or so buffalo that now live in Yellowstone are descendants of just 23 surviving buffalo at the turn of the last century. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature continues to designate Bison bison as “vulnerable to global extinction.” Our current policies that led to this year’s slaughter don’t help.


Richard Nixon used America's 'war on drugs' as excuse to target ‘anti-war left and black people,'

Richard Nixon used America's 'war on drugs' as excuse to target ‘anti-war left and black people,’ claims former aide

The civil rights leader, Rev Al Sharpton, said that John Ehrlichman’s remarks were ‘a frightening confirmation of what many of us have been saying for years’

Tim Walker US Correspondent |
@timwalker |
Wednesday 23 March 2016

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John Erlichman served 18 months for his role in the Watergate scandal Wikimedia/Creative Commons
America’s so-called “war on drugs” began as little more than a ploy to enable Richard Nixon to go after his political enemies, one of the disgraced President’s former policy gurus admitted in an interview which has surfaced for the first time.

John Ehrlichman, who had advised Nixon on domestic policy, told the journalist Dan Baum that the drugs war was an excuse to target “the anti-war left and black people”, Mr Baum writes, in a new report advocating drug legalisation for Harper’s Magazine.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people,” Mr Ehrlichman said in the 1994 interview.

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalising both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.


Brazil’s Revolution Starting to Reveal its True Colors

March 23, 2016
Brazil’s Revolution Starting to Reveal its True Colors

by Pepe Escobar

As we approach High Noon in the savage Brazilian politico-economic western, here’s what is at stake following my previous piece on RT.

For the past five days, all hell has broken loose. It started with judge Sergio Moro, the tropical Elliott Ness at the head of the two-year-old, 24-phase Car Wash corruption investigation, crudely manipulating an – illegal – phone tapping of a Lula-Dilma Rousseff conversation, which he duly leaked to corporate media and was instantly used as “proof” that Lula may be back in power as Chief of Staff because he’s “afraid” of Elliott Ness.

As a crucial instance of the total information war currently at play in Brazil – with the hegemonic Globo media empire and the major newspapers salivating for a white coup/regime change more than ever – the shaky “proof” turbocharged the Rousseff impeachment drive to a whole new level.

The conversation

The appalling politicization of the Brazilian Judiciary is now a fait accompli, with many a judge moved by opportunism and/or corporate interest/shady political agendas. That implies a “normalization” of illegal procedures such as phone tapping of defense lawyers and even the President (Edward Snowden, in a lightweight aside, commented that Rousseff is still not using cryptography in her communications).

Supreme Court ministers – at least so far – have not punished Elliott Ness for his illegal tapping of the President’s phone and for his illegal leaking of the Lula-Rousseff conversation (there’s nothing in it to implicate them in any wrongdoing, as Elliott Ness himself admitted).


Cuba Evokes the History of American Imperialism in Latin America

March 23, 2016
Cuba Evokes the History of American Imperialism in Latin America

by Cody Cain

As President Barack Obama makes history as the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since 1928, we find ourselves reflecting upon our historic relationship with Latin America.

We were all taught in school that America is a great and kind nation that promotes freedom and democracy around the world. And many still drink the Kool-Aid of how America can do no wrong.

History, however, paints a rather different picture.

Latin America has suffered grievously as a result of the unfortunate circumstance of being located in the same neighborhood as the mighty empire of the United States. This is really no different from subjugated territories of other empires in history, such as the Roman Empire, or the Ottoman Empire. It is no fun living in the shadow of imperial domination because the empire exploits you. And if you step out of line, you are crushed like a bug.


Rainbow-colored bird draws bird watchers to Vermont town

Rainbow-colored bird draws bird watchers to Vermont town

Lisa Rathke, Associated Press

Updated 7:48 pm, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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Photo: Kent P. McFarland, AP

In this March 18, 2016 photo provided by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, a rare painted bunting sits on a fence in Pittsfield, Vt. The bird, sometimes described as a "flying rainbow," normally does not fly north of the Carolinas on the East Coast. It's the sixth time a painted bunting sighting has been recorded in Vermont. (Vermont Center for Ecostudies via AP
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Bird watchers have flocked to a small town in Vermont hoping to catch a glimpse of the painted bunting, a rare bird described as a "flying rainbow" that normally doesn't fly north of the Carolinas on the East Coast.

It's the sixth time since 1993 a painted bunting has been recorded in Vermont, said Kent McFarland, a conservation biologist with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, who photographed the colorful bird on Friday.

"It's a flying rainbow. It's a really bright bird," he said of the tennis ball-sized bird that has appeared in a yard and at a feeder in Pittsfield.

McFarland said the painted bunting really sticks out in Vermont's early spring brown landscape.



Male and green female painted buntings. [/center]

Story of cities #6: how silver turned Potosí into 'the first city of capitalism'

Story of cities #6: how silver turned Potosí into 'the first city of capitalism'

The discovery of a mountain of silver (and a new way to extract it) transformed this remote Incan hamlet into the economic centre of Spain’s empire – larger than London, Milan or Seville. But then the silver ran out …

Patrick Greenfield
Monday 21 March 2016 06.00 EDT

“For the powerful emperor, for the wise king, this lofty mountain of silver could conquer the world.” So read the engraving on an ornate shield sent by Spain’s King Felipe II in 1561 as a gift to the city of Potosí, in what is now southern Bolivia.

Felipe was all too aware of the vast riches hidden beneath this remote Andean settlement. The conquistadors may never have found El Dorado, but they did find a mound of silver so large it would turn an isolated Incan hamlet into the fourth largest city in the Christian world in just 70 years, fund the creation of the most advanced industrial complex of its era, and define economic fortunes from China to western Europe.

At its peak in the early 17th century, 160,000 native Peruvians, slaves from Africa and Spanish settlers lived in Potosí to work the mines around the city: a population larger than London, Milan or Seville at the time. In the rush to exploit the silver, the first Spanish colonisers occupied the locals’ homes, forgoing the typical colonial urban grid and constructing makeshift accommodation that evolved into a chaotic mismatch of extravagant villas and modest huts, punctuated by gambling houses, theatres, workshops and churches.

High in the dusty red mountains, the city was surrounded by 22 dams powering 140 mills that ground the silver ore before it was moulded into bars and sent to the first Spanish colonial mint in the Americas. The wealth attracted artists, academics, priests, prostitutes and traders, enticed by the Altiplano’s icy mysticism. “I am rich Potosí, treasure of the world, king of all mountains and envy of kings” read the city’s coat of arms, and the pieces of eight that flowed from it helped make Spain the global superpower of the period.

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