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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Why is the Dominican Republic Deporting Its Haitian Residents?

April 5, 2016
Why is the Dominican Republic Deporting Its Haitian Residents?

by Javiera Alarcon

They called it the Parsley Massacre.

Directed by the ruthless Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, soldiers rounded up thousands of people along the Dominican Republic’s borderlands with Haiti, demanding that they identify a sprig of parsley. The story goes that when French- and Creole-speaking Haitians failed to mimic the Spanish pronunciation, perejil, they were murdered. Estimates of the number killed range as high as 20,000 to 30,000.

The 1937 massacre is a haunting flashpoint in a long tradition of anti-Haitian politics — anti-haitanismo — on the eastern half of the island shared by the two countries. Now there’s a different kind of test for Dominicans of Haitian descent. And the price for failure is deportation.

It began in 2013, when a Dominican court ruling stripped up to 200,000 Haitian immigrants and their descendants of their Dominican citizenship — a stunning and unprecedented reversal of the country’s normal rules allowing birthright citizenship. Thousands of Dominicans were put at risk of being deported to Haiti, where many also lack citizenship.

The Dominican legislature followed the ruling with the Naturalization Law, or Law 169-14. In theory, the law is supposed to help disenfranchised Dominicans reclaim their citizenship, but it puts the burden of proof on the victims to provide records of their births — or even their parents’ births — in the Dominican Republic.


The Forces Behind the Attempted Coup in Brasil

April 5, 2016
The Forces Behind the Attempted Coup in Brasil

by Mark Weisbrot

If you are following the news of political turmoil in Brazil, it may be difficult to get a grasp of what is really going on. This often happens when there is an attempted coup in the Western Hemisphere, and especially when the U.S. government has an interest in the outcome. Usually the information about that interest, and often Washington’s role, is the first casualty of the conflict. (Twenty-first century examples include Paraguay in 2012, Haiti in 2011 and 2004, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010 and Venezuela in 2002.)

First, there is no doubt that this is a coup in progress. It is an attempt by Brazil’s traditional elite — which includes, as one of the most important players, most of the major media — to reverse the outcome of Brazil’s 2014 presidential elections. Exhibit A is the grounds on which they hope to impeach President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT by its Portuguese initials). It has nothing to do with corruption, or any serious offense.

The charge is that the government used borrowed money in 2014 to maintain the appearance that the primary budget surplus was within its target. But this is something that other presidents had done, and is hardly an serious offense. A comparison: When the Republicans in the U.S. Congress threatened to shut down the government over the debt ceiling in 2013, the Obama administration used a number of accounting tricks to extend the deadline, and there was little controversy over this.

The charges against Lula are also dubious, even if they turn out to be true. Most importantly, the accusers have not shown any connection to the big “Lava Jato” (car wash) corruption scandal — or any other corruption. Lula is accused of owning some beachfront property, which he denies owning, that was renovated by a Brazilian construction company; and of receiving money from various corporations for speeches. Most importantly, however, these are things that took place after he left the presidency. Although Bernie Sanders has rightly made an issue of Hillary Clinton’s receipt of millions of dollars from corporations for speeches, it is not illegal in the U.S. — or Brazil.


Beyond Panama: What the World Really Needs is the #DelawarePapers

Published on Wednesday, April 06, 2016

by Common Dreams

Beyond Panama: What the World Really Needs is the #DelawarePapers

'That giant sucking sound you hear? It is the sound of money rushing to the U.S.A.'

by Nika Knight, staff writer

Panama saw populist protests on Wednesday in response to Panama Papers revelations that the nation's lax tax laws are providing a haven for the world's wealthiest to stash their cash. But in the United States, where observers note that corporate greed is surely not lacking, the leak has yet to produce such a grassroots display of outrage.

This may be because U.S. one-percenters have largely escaped the leak unscathed (more Czech nationals were named in the documents than Americans), and also because wealthy Americans already call one of the world's foremost tax havens their home.

Beyond Panama

"The U.S. is one of the easiest places to set up an anonymous shell company to move ill-gotten gains around the world. It’s also one of the most popular places to do so for the criminal and corrupt," writes the UK-based anti-corruption group Global Witness.

Mossack Fonseca, the tax advisory firm whose documents were leaked in the Panama Papers, had set up offices in Nevada and Wyoming—two of the most egregious tax havens in the U.S.—so as to better enable the firm to take advantage of those states' lax laws on behalf of its international clients.

The phenomenon is not a new one. "Already the largest location for managing foreign wealth," the Economist wrote back in February, the U.S. "has picked up business as regulators have increased information-exchange and scrutiny of banks and trust companies in Europe and the Caribbean. Money is said to be flowing in from the Bahamas and Bermuda, as well as from Switzerland."


Tens of thousands in Peru protest against presidential candidate Fujimori

Tens of thousands in Peru protest against presidential candidate Fujimori

A huge crowd of people has taken to the streets of Lima to protest presidential frontrunner Keiko Fujimori. The demonstration came on the 24th anniversary of her ex-president father's notorious power-grab.



Anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 people marched on the streets of the Peruvian capital on Tuesday night amid concern over Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's notorious ex-president, who is predicted to win the upcoming election.

The protest occurred on the 24th anniversay of her father Alberto Fujimori's move to dissolve the country's parliament. The elder Fujimori, who governed Peru from 1990 to 2000, is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuses.

While his daughter is topping the polls in Peru, she appears to lack the support needed to gain a simple majority. Nevertheless, many protestors fear that if she were to win during Sunday's election, she would simply be a repeat of her father.

In an effort to put her detractors at ease, Fujimori published a statement online promising not to follow in her father's footsteps.


Scientists Are Using Virtual Reality to Help Conserve Jaguars

Scientists Are Using Virtual Reality to Help Conserve Jaguars

Michele Debczak

Virtual reality is primed to change the entertainment industry, but the new technology could have an impact on science as well. As reported by Mashable, scientists from Australia are now finding ways to use VR to choose better habitats for jaguars in Peru.

That was one of the objectives of a recent expedition led by Kerrie Mengersen of Queensland University of Technology's School of Mathematical Sciences. While visiting the Peruvian jungle, Mengersen and her team used GoPros to film 360-degree footage of various habitats. Along with mathematical and statistical modeling, the virtual reality experiences are intended to give scientists an immersive view of an environment without having to be there in person. This could prove useful when choosing sites for jaguar corridors, the large areas of land the cats use to travel between different parts of the jungle.

When viewing a habitat virtually, experts will be able to search for nearby water sources, signs of human life, or fruiting trees that could potentially attract prey. Having a better understanding of these factors could help conservationists make smarter decisions when buying land and building wildlife corridors.

Jaguars are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, with only around 15,000 of them still alive in the wild today. Anyone can get a virtual look at the footage captured on Mengersen's expedition using Google Cardboard or a similar VR device.


(Short article, no more at link.)

Panama Papers Revelations Have Only Just Begun, Investigative Editor Says

Source: Time Magazine

Panama Papers Revelations Have Only Just Begun, Investigative Editor Says
Melissa Chan @melissalchan
5:49 PM ET

“This is the start, not the end"

More explosive revelations will be uncovered in the Panama Papers, including the offshore dealings of hundreds of Americans, according to a lead editor of the nonprofit news organization that helped break one of history’s largest data leaks.

The release of 11.5 million confidential documents from the obscure Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca has caused a global firestorm, leading to the resignation of Iceland’s Prime Minister and the head of global corruption watchdog Transparency International’s Chile branch on Tuesday.

But the fallout from the yearlong investigation is far from over, according to Michael Hudson, the senior editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which published the documents. “We see more coming out,” Hudson, 54, told TIME on Tuesday. “We’ve done a lot of searches and a lot of work, and we’ve obviously found what we believe is important information, but we’re going to continue working on reporting. This is the start, not the end.”

At least 200 Americans who are linked to offshore companies have been discovered in the records — some of whom have been convicted of serious financial crimes, Hudson said. The New York-based editor, who has worked for the ICIJ for more than four years and joined the project six months after it began, said that information will trickle out as hundreds of journalists across the globe continue to pore over the papers. “We’re still looking,” Hudson said. “We’re still digging.”

Read more: http://time.com/4282811/panama-papers-icij/

Military deployed to protect Colombian school children

Military deployed to protect Colombian school children

Government responds to mafia threats with show of military force


By Richard McColl

BOGOTA, Colombia

Soldiers were deployed Monday to parts of northern Colombia to combat violence and threats from a paramilitary group that imposed a 48-hour blockade of the area.

Forty towns in 15 departments were paralyzed economically as business owners and schools were threatened should they open during the blockade that also resulted in the deaths of nine policemen.

“Colombia has never before given in to criminals using acts of violence like this,” said President Juan Manuel Santos during a press conference.

“We will continue strike at their criminal structures until they understand that there is no alternative than to surrender to Colombian justice,” he added.

The Usaga Clan, an off-shoot of former right-wing paramilitary groups formed to combat the country’s leftist guerrillas and which nominally demobilized in 2006, number an estimated 3,000 fighters and receives its income from drugs trafficking, illegal mining and extortion.


Argentina’s New Order

Argentina’s New Order

Newly elected Argentine president Mauricio Macri has inaugurated harsh austerity measures and quashed dissent.

by Adam Fabry

Argentina’s New Order

Newly elected Argentine president Mauricio Macri has inaugurated harsh austerity measures and quashed dissent.


It’s been four months since multi-millionaire businessman Mauricio Macri took office as president of Argentina, narrowly defeating Daniel Scioli — the uninspiring candidate of the Peronist ruling party Frente para la Victoria — in last November’s elections.

The win was a coup for the unapologetically pro-market, but ideologically neoconservative Cambiemos coalition, ending a twelve-year stretch of Peronist leadership. Since he was sworn in last December, Macri has wasted little time rolling back the populist policies of the Kirchner era.

In his inaugural speech Macri offered a potpourri of promises: ending the confrontational politics of his populist predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner; creating an independent judiciary; fighting corruption and drug trafficking; maintaining welfare programs; and eliminating poverty.

However, since then, Macri has moved swiftly to reconfigure the Argentinean economy along explicitly neoliberal lines — to the joy of domestic capitalists and international corporations alike. To do so he has relied on an unprecedented number of “emergency decrees” (similar to executive orders in the US) to bypass Congress — where the Frente para la Victoria has a majority in both houses.


Where are all the Americans in the Panama Papers?

the panama papers universe

Where are all the Americans in the Panama Papers?

April 4, 2016 3:52 p.m.

This weekend, Fusion and more than 100 other media organizations started publishing the Panama Papers, a global investigation into the secrets of offshore finance. So far it has yielded huge revelations about heads of state and politicians around the globe. Some of the biggest names to come out of the files include close friends and associates of Vladimir Putin, as well as the prime minister of Iceland, the president of Argentina, and the family of Chinese president Xi Jinping. But we haven’t seen a lot of high-wattage U.S. names in the headlines.

So far, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has only been able to identify 211 people with U.S. addresses who own companies in the data (not all of whom we’ve been able to investigate yet). We don’t know if those 211 people are necessarily U.S. citizens. And that figure covers only data from recent years available on a Mossack Fonseca internal database — not all 11.5 million files from the leak.

In other words, that 211 number comes from just a small sliver of the data. “It’s a complete underestimate,” says Mar Cabra, head of the data and research unit at the ICIJ. Finding a precise number of Americans in the data is difficult.

Not surprisingly, though, a lot of people are asking: If this is the biggest data leak in history – and our biggest window ever onto the offshore world – where are all the Americans? After all, an estimated $150 billion in potential U.S. tax revenues disappears into offshore tax schemes each year, according to a 2014 Senate subcommittee report. We asked top experts in offshore finance to break down the American-related aspects of the Panama Papers leak.


Financial Oversight and Colonialism in Puerto Rico

April 4, 2016
Financial Oversight and Colonialism in Puerto Rico

by Matt Peppe

118 years after U.S. troops landed at Guánica, Puerto Rico, the liberal political site the New Republic asks, “Why Are We Colonizing Puerto Rico?” The occasion for this comically tardy acknowledgment of Puerto Rico’s colonial status is a Republican proposal to deal with the island’s $72 billion debt problem by allowing a cabal of unelected technocrats carry out austerity measures against the will of the Puerto Rican people. Or, as the bill puts it: “To establish an Oversight Board to assist the Government of Puerto Rico … in managing its public finances.”

The Republican plan most certainly would “spell disaster for vulnerable Puerto Rican citizens, and create a bonanza for private corporations looking to take over public functions,” as David Dayen writes in the New Republic piece. But Dayen is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
As I reported recently, vulnerable Puerto Ricans are already facing disaster in the form of cuts to social programs and oppressive increases in taxes. Private corporations have already taken over public functions, including the island’s largest airport and its largest highway. Former Governor Luis Fortuño created the Public Private Partnership Authority to allow the firesale of public assets to corporate vultures nearly seven years ago.

Alternative plans have been advanced in the Senate and the Obama administration. Both of these would allow restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt, which the House Republican plan would not. While the Republican legislative proposal for Puerto Rico is vastly inferior to either of the other options, neither the Democratic Senate plan nor the White House plan would be fair to Puerto Rico’s residents.

The Senate plan would grant priority for pensions over bondholders. This would directly challenge the outrageous clause in Puerto Rico’s colonial Constitution which mandates that if revenues are ever insufficient to cover appropriations, the interest on public debt must be paid before anything else.

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