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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 143,934

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Guatemalan court acquits former Hudbay Minerals security guard of murder

Guatemalan court acquits former Hudbay Minerals security guard of murder


The Canadian Press
Published Friday, April 7, 2017 2:53PM EDT

TORONTO -- A court in Guatemala has acquitted a former security guard for a Canadian-owned mining company of murdering an indigenous activist and leaving another paralyzed in a ruling that comes amidst a landmark lawsuit in Canada, lawyers for the plaintiffs say.

At the time of the incidents in 2009, Mynor Padilla was head of security for a mine owned by Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals.

The widow of Adolfo Ich, the wife of the paralyzed man and 11 other indigenous Mayan Q'eqchi are suing Hudbay in what observers have called a precedent for holding multinational mining companies liable in their home countries for alleged abuses at mines they operate abroad.

Toronto lawyer Murray Klippenstein, who represents Ich's widow, said the acquittal was not unexpected given a justice system in the central American country that Human Rights Watch and others have denounced as rife with "rampant" corruption.


Apes can see things from your perspective and help you out

5 April 2017
Apes can see things from your perspective and help you out

By Sam Wong

Our closest evolutionary relatives are quite the mind readers. And they can use that knowledge to help people figure things out when they are labouring under a misapprehension, according to the latest research.

The ability to attribute mental states to others, aka theory of mind, is sometimes considered unique to humans, but evidence is mounting that other animals have some capacity for it.

In a study last year, chimps, bonobos and orangutans watched videos of people behaving in different scenarios as cameras tracked their eye movements. The experiment found that the apes looked where an actor in the video would expect to see an object, rather than towards its true location, suggesting the animals were aware others could hold false beliefs.

But that experiment left open the possibility apes were simply predicting that the actor would go to the last place he’d seen the object, without understanding that he held a false belief. Now, David Buttelmann at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues tested 34 zoo chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans, in search of more conclusive evidence.


Colombia creates historic Truth Commission

written by Adriaan Alsema April 5, 2017

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday inaugurated an historic Truth Commission that will investigate the victimization of civilians during the 52-year war between a multitude of actors, including the state.

The truth Commission is part of the transitional justice system, agreed with rebel group FARC in a peace deal in November last year.

This justice system, including a transitional justice tribunal and an amnesty court, was approved by Congress earlier this year in a series of tense votes. In one of the votes, almost one third of the senate claimed to have a conflict of interests related to war crimes.

Unlike the Transitional Justice Tribunal that will carry out criminal investigations, the Truth Commission’s primary mission is to find out what happened in Colombia that led to the victimization of 8 million victims.


More former Uribe aides ask inclusion in transitional justice system

written by Adriaan Alsema April 6, 2017

Former Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt and a former chief of staff of ex-President Alvaro Uribe have asked to be be included in the transitional justice system for war crimes.

. . .

While the transitional justice tribunal is not meant for corrupt politicians, but for suspected war criminals, Pretelt, former Health Minister Diego Palacio and former presidential chief of staff Alberto Velasquez, claim that their crimes were to secure the continuation of Uribe’s so-called “Democratic Security Policy” and consequently were crimes committed within the context of the armed confict.

Nevertheless, all three former Uribe aides have so far refused to accept responsibility in bribing at least two House Representatives in a 2004 vote on a constitutional amendment that made the way for Uribe’s 2006 reelection.

. . .

Uribe is formally suspected of complicity in a massacre and at least two military operations in which paramilitary forces took part, while a Medellin court has called for investigations into his alleged complicity of the formation of paramilitary groups that ended up killing thousands of civilians.


A US government website that used to warn about the risks of oil and gas drilling was changed to pro

A US government website that used to warn about the risks of oil and gas drilling was changed to promote their economic benefits


Zoë Schlanger
24 mins ago

Until recently, the US Government Accountability Office’s website described oil and gas drilling on federal lands as posing an “inherent risk” to human health and the environment. Now, that language has been replaced with wording about the economic benefits of oil and gas activity.

The edits—made between midday on Feb 15 and midday Feb 16, 2017—were spotted by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI), a group of programmers and researchers who are tracking changes to federal websites since president Donald Trump took office. They are the latest in a litany of similar modifications, many of which have involved public-health or climate-change science.

The edited page is part the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List,” updated every two years with federal agencies or programs the GAO believes are vulnerable to “fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation.” Oil and gas resources on federal lands were part of that list under the Obama administration—and remain on it, but without mention of the environmental and public health risks that originally drove their placement there.

Among the changes is the deletion of a line in the opening paragraph that references how rapidly changing drilling technologies that allow drillers to access previously inaccessible oil and gas reserves “challenge the government’s ability to provide oversight.”


Lawsuit: Kentucky police planted evidence in murder case

Source: Associated Press

Updated 4:29 pm, Wednesday, April 5, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Two people who spent years in a Kentucky jail after being wrongfully charged with murder have sued 10 police officers from three departments, alleging a conspiracy to frame them by planting evidence to protect a confidential informant.

Thirty-two-year-old Amanda Hoskins and 29-year-old Jonathan Taylor were charged with murder in the 2010 slaying of Katherine Mills in Flat Lick. Both were released from jail last year after prosecutors asked the court to dismiss the charges because they lacked probable cause. The case remains unsolved.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday says officers with the Kentucky State Police, Knox County Sheriff's Department and Barbourville Police Department framed Hoskins and Taylor because the evidence pointed to the guilt of another man who was a confidential informant for the police.

The agencies involved did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Lawsuit-Kentucky-police-planted-evidence-in-11053186.php

(Short article, no more at link.)

Mexican journalist held at US border for past two months

Source: Reporters Without Borders

April 4, 2017

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the US authorities to admit Mexican journalist Martin Méndez Pineda into the United States. The target of death threats in the southwestern state of Guerrero, Méndez has been awaiting a response to his political asylum request since 5 February.

RSF is extremely concerned about the plight of Martin Méndez Pineda, a former reporter for the Guerrero-based Novedades Acapulco newspaper who has been held by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a detention center in El Paso, Texas, for the past 60 days.

Méndez requested political asylum at the US border on 5 February in order to escape repeated death threats in Guerrero. On 1 March, he passed the “credible fear interview” which the US authorities use to decide whether there are prima facie grounds for accepting that a real threat exists.

Normally, ICE would have then approved his conditional release and allowed him to enter the United States officially.

Read more: https://rsf.org/en/news/mexican-journalist-held-us-border-past-two-months

Trees Have Their Own Songs

Trees Have Their Own Songs
A new book by David George Haskell invites us to listen.

An oak tree in EstoniaAbrget47j / Wikimedia Commons


Just as birders can identify birds by their melodious calls, David George Haskell can distinguish trees by their sounds. The task is especially easy when it rains, as it so often does in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Depending on the shapes and sizes of their leaves, the different plants react to falling drops by producing “a splatter of metallic sparks” or “a low, clean, woody thump” or “a speed-typist’s clatter.” Every species has its own song. Train your ears (and abandon the distracting echoes of a plastic rain jacket) and you can carry out a botanical census through sound alone.

“I’ve taught ornithology to students for many years,” says Haskell, a natural history writer and professor of biology at Sewanee. “And I challenge my students: Okay, now that you’ve learned the songs of 100 birds, your task is to learn the sounds of 20 trees. Can you tell an oak from a maple by ear? I have them go out, pour their attention into their ears, and harvest sounds. It’s an almost meditative experience. And from that, you realize that trees sound different, and they have amazing sounds coming from them. Our unaided ears can hear how a maple tree changes its voice as a soft leaves of early spring change into the dying one of autumn.”

This acoustic world is open to everyone, but most of us never enter it. It just seems so counter-intuitive—not to mention a little hokey—to listen to trees. But Haskell does listen, and he describes his experiences with sensuous prose in his enchanting new book The Songs of Trees. A kind of naturalist-poet, Haskell makes a habit of returning to the same places and paying “repeated sensory attention” to them. “I like to sit down and listen, and turn off the apps that come pre-installed in my body,” he says. Humans may be a visual species, but “sounds reveals things that are hidden from our eyes because the vibratory energy of the world comes around barriers and through the ground. Through sound, we come to know the place.”

In his first book, The Forest Unseen, Haskell trekked to the same patch of Tennessee forest and described how a single square meter changed over a year. His keen observations and achingly beautiful narration earned him a spot on the Pulitzer finalist list in 2012. Now, he brings the same sensibility to his sophomore effort. In The Song of Trees, he visits a dozen specially chosen trees, including: a pear tree in the heart of Manhattan; an olive tree in Jerusalem; a sabal palm, roughing the salt and sun of a Georgian beach; a towering, rain-drenched ceibo in Ecuador; and a bonsai pine that survived the Hiroshima bombing and now lives in Washington, D.C. Each of these protagonists is a focal point for stories about the natural world.


Ecuador Small Farmers Day In US Court Over Crop Spraying Comes Closer

Ecuador Small Farmers’ Day In US Court Over Crop Spraying Comes Closer
2017 Wednesday 5TH posted by Morning Star

MORE than 2,000 Ecuadorean small farmers began a joint legal action against US military contractor DynCorp on Monday, claiming that it unlawfully invaded Ecuador in 2000 and sprayed farms with toxic chemicals.

International Rights Advocates (IRA), representing the farmers before a jury at Washington District Court, hailed the trial as a positive step.

The group has been trying to take DynCorp to court since 2001 in the face of numerous attempts by the transnational to dismiss the case.

“This is an historic case — a finding against DynCorp will bring justice to the Ecuadorean farmers, who have been waiting a long time to have their day in court,” said IRA executive director Terry Collingsworth.


Panama seizes ex-president's helicopter over bribery claims


Panama on Tuesday seized a helicopter belonging to a wealthy former president, Ricardo Martinelli, whose family is under suspicion of accepting bribes from a Brazilian construction group.

Prosecutors said in a statement they had taken "provisional possession" of the Airbus aircraft, registration N16261, after it was confiscated by authorities in Mexico.

Although the prosecutors' statement did not name Martinelli as the owner, the former leader and his lawyers confirmed ownership.

Martinelli, who went to live in self-exile in the United States after his 2009-2014 term, said on Twitter he was preparing a lawsuit for "helicopter theft."

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/panama-seizes-ex-president-s-helicopter-over-bribery-claims/article/489565#ixzz4dK6zgrmI


Martinelli, when he ran from Panama to visit his friend, Silvio Berlusconi,
in Italy when the heat was on regarding Panama's legal interests in him at home.
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