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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Early Urban Planning: Ancient Mayan City Built on Grid

Early Urban Planning: Ancient Mayan City Built on Grid

by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | April 29, 2015 06:58am ET

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In the course of excavating remains of the Mayan city, archaeologists uncovered a corridor containing shiny white plaster that originally would have covered the city.
Credit: Photo by Evelyn Chan
An ancient Mayan city followed a unique grid pattern, providing evidence of a powerful ruler, archaeologists working at Nixtun-Ch'ich' in Petén, Guatemala, have found.

The city, which contains flat-topped pyramids, was in use between roughly 600 B.C. and 300 B.C., a time when the first cities were being constructed in the area. No other city from the Maya world was planned using this grid design, researchers say. This city was "organized in a way we haven't seen in other places," said Timothy Pugh, a professor at Queens College in New York.

"It's a top-down organization," Pugh said. "Some sort of really, really, powerful ruler had to put this together."
The ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan also used a grid system. But that city is not considered to be Mayan, and so far archaeologists have found no connections between it and the one at Nixtun-Ch'ich', Pugh said. [In Photos: Mayan Art Discovered in Guatemala]

People living in the area have known of the Nixtun-Ch'ich' site for a long time. Pugh started research on it in 1995 and has been concentrating on Mayan remains that date to a much later time period,long after the early city was abandoned. However, in the process of studying these later remains, his team has been able to map the early city and even excavate a bit of it.


Why some Guatemalans in this Florida city fear white guys driving big pickup trucks

Why some Guatemalans in this Florida city fear white guys driving big pickup trucks
by Tim Rogers
May 2, 2015 10:54 AM

JUPITER, Florida — Onesimo “Marcelino” Lopez-Ramos was savagely beaten to death in the brief time it took Heather Burga to go inside to use the bathroom.

From the window, Burga saw a sudden frenzy of flashlights darting across the darkened yard, where moments earlier she had been quietly drinking a late-night beer with her friend Marcelino and two of his family members.

“No one was yelling; it was just commotion—suddenly there were people running all over the yard,” she said, remembering the night of Friday, April 17.

When Burga returned outside, 18-year-old Marcelino was slumped dead in the driveway, laying face-down with blood spilling from his head. The mysterious assailants had scampered off into the thickening night, leaving Burga and Marcelino’s injured brother to wait for the police in panicked disbelief.



There's a disturbing truth behind 'swim with dolphins' tourist attractions

There's a disturbing truth behind 'swim with dolphins' tourist attractions

Christina M. Russo, The Dodo
May 2, 2015, 10:00 AM

Throngs of Americans are heading south to the Caribbean right now, for the balmy sunshine, intoxicating evening breeze, turquoise waters … and the opportunity to swim with dolphins.

But despite their popularity, swim-with-the-dolphin programs have a dark underbelly, and those on the inside are starting to speak out against them.

Swim-with-the-dolphin (SWTD) programs can be found all over the world, but they've become exceptionally popular in the Caribbean in the past decade or so.

A former dolphin trainer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Dodo that these programs are inherently problematic — and cetaceans simply do not belong in captivity.

"Dolphins are beautiful and amazing creatures in their natural habitat," says the former trainer, who requested anonymity because he still works in the Caribbean hotel industry. "But stick them in a cage, and you watch them change."


Guatemalan Campesinos Embrace Ancestral Farming Practices to Prevent Migration

Guatemalan Campesinos Embrace Ancestral Farming Practices to Prevent Migration
Saturday, 02 May 2015 00:00
By Jeff Abbott, Waging Nonviolence | Report

There is a crisis facing campesinos in rural Guatemala, as tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have traveled to the United States over the last year in search of work. Yet the same forces that have driven many onto the migrant trail have led to the emergence of a movement of young campesinos organizing to stay on their land, and not be forced to migrate to the cities or the United States. In the process, they hope to recuperate the ancestral Mayan forms of agriculture, and combat hunger and poverty in their communities.

According to statistics from the U.S. Homeland Security the number of Guatemalans arriving at the border had been steadily falling as the country returned to peace after the 36-year-long internal armed conflict. But this trend abruptly changed with the signing of Central America Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, in 2006. Today, rural communities in Guatemala are hemorrhaging people.

Campesinos, or rural farmers, are vital for any country. In Guatemala, roughly 1.3 million families are involved in the production of food. They produce 70 percent of the food consumed in the country and support 40 percent of the population economically. Despite their critical contribution to the country, small farmers across Central America are in trouble. Increasingly, they have lost the ability to produce. And as opportunity in the field declines, campesinos are forced to seek new opportunities in the cities and along the migrant trail.

Land has historically been inadequately distributed in Guatemala, with roughly 2 percent of the population owning 73 percent of the land at the end of the internal armed conflict in 1996. However, in the years since the signing of the peace accords, the situation facing farmers has worsened, with an estimated 3.2 percent of the population owning 84 percent of the land 2014.


(My emphasis.)

US businesses fear Colombia’s taxation proposals will increase tax burden

Source: Colombia Reports

May 1, 2015

US businesses fear Colombia’s taxation proposals will increase tax burden
posted by Alice Bradshaw-Smith

US companies holding business in Colombia are concerned over the possibility of new taxes that could emerge from a reform currently being considered by a group of experts selected by the government.

This sentiment was aired at Wednesday’s annual meeting of the American Business Council (CEA), an organization that brings together 125 US companies present in Colombia.

Company representatives highlighted at the event that American firms operating in the country generate more than 7% of Colombia’s gross domestic product, and a similar percentage of the taxes collected. Last year, the companies invested more than $15 million into the country.

Referring to the proposed structural reform, Director of the CEA Ricardo Triana said that they hope that this “does not continue taxing businesses, because that makes them less competitive both in the country and around the world.”

Read more: http://colombiareports.co/us-businesses-fear-colombias-taxation-proposals-will-increase-tax-burden/

Colombia’s Supreme Court urges investigation of Uribe for spying on opponents

May 1, 2015

Colombia’s Supreme Court urges investigation of Uribe for spying on opponents

posted by Adriaan Alsema

Following the sentencing of his former chief of staff and former spy chief on Thursday, former president Alvaro Uribe should be the next to be investigated for illegally spying on opponents, according to Colombia’s Supreme Court.

The scandal over illegal spying practices by now-defunct intelligence agency DAS dates back to 2008 when prosecution investigators began finding out that the intelligence agency had been spying on opposition politicians, the Supreme Court, human rights organizations and journalists.

The Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced Uribe’s then-chief of staff, Bernardo Moreno, and former DAS director Maria del Pilar Hurtado for having ordered and coordinated the spying on what seemed to be on persons and entities deemed inconvenient for the Uribe administration.

The scandal led to the dismantling of the DAS in 2011 and the incarceration of numerous intelligence officials including agents who hired civilians to plant bugs in the offices of the Supreme Court, the directors of both the Intelligence and Counterintelligence units, and recently one of its directors.


Cuba to Export Cancer Vaccine to U.S., New York Governor Confirms

Cuba to Export Cancer Vaccine to U.S., New York Governor Confirms

The New York government and business delegation to Cuba also hope to pressure the U.S. Congress to end its blockade on Cuba

Author: TELESUR | internet@granma.cu
april 23, 2015 15:04:34

The Cuban Immunology Center and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute of New York signed an agreement Tuesday for the U.S. to import a therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer developed by Cuba.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addresses the media during a conference before his departure at Jose Marti
airport in Havana April 21, 2015. | Photo: Reuters Photo: Reuters
“Signing this agreement means we can immerse ourselves in clinical trials when we return to New York,” said Candance Johnson, director of the U.S.-based Roswell Park institute.

The agreement was signed as part of a business delegation visit to Cuba headed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“We are very excited to be able to bring the vaccine to the U.S. and to treat patients,” Candance said.

Cuba created the vaccine in 2011 after 15 years of research. Brazil, Argentina and Colombia are currently applying to have access to the vaccine, while the U.K and Australia have already carried out their own clinical trials.

The business delegation also saw an agreement between New York company Infor, and a Cuban organization. “We are surprised by the level and experience that there is in Cuba in health and technology,” company representative Charles Phillips stated.


Awaiting Cuba's thriving tech industry to boom | Opinion

Awaiting Cuba's thriving tech industry to boom | Opinion
By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist
Follow on Twitter
on April 25, 2015 at 5:00 PM

By James Barrood

Last week, the NJ Tech Council led a truly remarkable trade mission. The destination: Cuba.

Our group was made up of business leaders from many industries including mobile software/apps, biotech, IT staffing, renewable energy, construction, engineering, banking and others. Whatever our preconceptions about the island were, they were mostly turned upside down.

Before my first trip, I was told to expect little more than a communist dictatorship filled with unhappy and poor people. I can only speak for what I observed: that is not what I saw in the many meetings I held, or in the many areas of Cuba I visited. Rather, I found one of the most literate, healthy, educated, cultured, proud, warm and happy societies on the planet.

On this, my second trip to Cuba in 15 months, I didn't expect to learn much more -- but indeed I did. Visits to two biotech institutes, the chamber of commerce, a tech company, tourism officials, a software entrepreneur, and others, enlightened me about the incredible work that is going on there.

Some of the Cuban biotech industry's earliest and most significant products were targeted to fight diseases of children and mothers. The results have been quite impressive. Cuba has one of the lowest rates of infant and maternal mortality. Polio, neonatal tetanus, diphtheria, measles, rabies, mumps, whooping cough, and congenital rubella have been eradicated; its bacterial meningitis rates are among the world's lowest. One stand out product is recombinant epidermal growth factor -- the vaccine against hepatitis B -- with which the entire Cuban population under 25 years old is immunized.


Peru Turns to Ancient Aqueducts to Prevent Droughts

Peru Turns to Ancient Aqueducts to Prevent Droughts
By Jack Moore 4/10/15 at 6:29 PM

One of the world's driest cities is attempting to solve its water problems by reviving its ancient network of waterways. The Peruvian capital, Lima, is to restore pre-Inca aqueducts in the Andes mountains to service its population during the seven-month dry season.

The project, as reported by New Scientist, would see a series of disused stone canals, locally referred to as amunas, re-grouted with cement to collect surplus rainwater in the rainy season to be used for during the dry season when there is a substantial rainwater deficit.

The canals are believed to have been constructed in 508 AD before the Incas and their revival is set to cut the city's water deficit by 25.9 cubic meters of water, over half of the current 42 million cubic metre water deficit.

The purpose of the amunas is to prevent the water flowing downhill quickly, taking it sideways across the mountains and slowing its descent, allowing for it to be preserved and used weeks later. This strategy will allow Peruvians access to additional water during the dry season instead of it being lost as surplus in the wet season.


Colombia spymaster sentenced to 14 years in prison

Colombia spymaster sentenced to 14 years in prison

Date May 1, 2015 - 8:55PM
Julia Symmes Cobb

Bogota: The former head of Colombia's intelligence service was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Thursday for spying on opposition lawmakers, judges and journalists in one of the biggest scandals to mar the government of ex-president Alvaro Uribe.

Maria del Pilar Hurtado, 51, headed the now-defunct Administrative Security Department (DAS) intelligence service from 2007 to 2008, which was shut down following the scandal and replaced with a new intelligence entity. Hurtado received political asylum in Panama in 2010, but the Panamanian government revoked it last year. She surrendered to authorities in January, hours after Interpol released an international order for her arrest.

The former spymaster was tried in absentia for illegally intercepting phone calls and abuse of public office, among other crimes. Separately, Bernardo Moreno, one of Uribe's aides, was given an eight year sentence for his involvement, to be served at his home.

. . .

Two-thirds of Mr Uribe's closest political allies during his presidency, including ex-cabinet ministers, have been convicted, sanctioned or investigated for crimes ranging from corruption to hacking.


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