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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 138,213

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Brazil online petition spurs anti-corruption bill vote

Source: Anatolia News Agency

Brazil online petition spurs anti-corruption bill vote

06 June 2014 09:44 (Last updated 06 June 2014 09:56)

Brazilian activists have put pressure on lawmakers to lodge an emergency Senate vote on legislation banning corporate election donations.

SAO PAULO

Brazil's Senate is set to vote on previously-shelved legislation banning corporate election donations after pressure from thousands of ordinary Brazilians, online activist network Avaaz reported Thursday.

A group of 60 senators signed an emergency vote request for the legislation after receiving thousands of emails and phone calls and an online petition campaign, spearheaded by the network.

"Our politicians have been for sale for far too long, with the World Cup stadiums showing how out of control this has become," Avaaz campaign director, Michael Freitas Mohallem, said.

"The people of Brazil want elections, not auctions. This law could bring an end to Brazil’s shame and be bigger than any World Cup legacy."


Read more: http://www.aa.com.tr/en/rss/340949--brazil-online-petition-spurs-anti-corruption-bill-vote




Brazil online petition spurs anti-corruption bill vote

Brazil online petition spurs anti-corruption bill vote

06 June 2014 09:44 (Last updated 06 June 2014 09:56)

Brazilian activists have put pressure on lawmakers to lodge an emergency Senate vote on legislation banning corporate election donations.

SAO PAULO

Brazil's Senate is set to vote on previously-shelved legislation banning corporate election donations after pressure from thousands of ordinary Brazilians, online activist network Avaaz reported Thursday.

A group of 60 senators signed an emergency vote request for the legislation after receiving thousands of emails and phone calls and an online petition campaign, spearheaded by the network.

"Our politicians have been for sale for far too long, with the World Cup stadiums showing how out of control this has become," Avaaz campaign director, Michael Freitas Mohallem, said.

"The people of Brazil want elections, not auctions. This law could bring an end to Brazil’s shame and be bigger than any World Cup legacy."

More:
http://www.aa.com.tr/en/rss/340949--brazil-online-petition-spurs-anti-corruption-bill-vote

How the United States is Spreading Mass Incarceration around the World

June 05, 2014

How the United States is Spreading Mass Incarceration around the World

Empire of Prisons

by JAMES P. JORDAN

This article explains how the United States is exporting its model of mass incarceration and social and political control to at least 25 countries. This “prison imperialism” is rooted in the Program for the Improvement of the Colombian Prison System signed in March, 2000 by the US Embassy and Colombia’s Ministry of Justice. That program coincided with a rapid increase in Colombia’s prison population including a rise in political arrests and the militarization of the prison system. Other aspects of this experience are worsened overcrowding, human rights abuses and unhealthy conditions. Nevertheless, the US-Colombia collaboration has become the standard for prison imperialism around the world with Colombian training programs forming a major component. US involvement in international prison systems is carried out by several government agencies including the Bureau of Prisons, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Pentagon, and the US State Department’s Bureaus of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), Democracy, Human Rights and Law Enforcement (DRL) and Consular Affairs, as well as state penal systems. This article provides close-ups of prison imperialism in Colombia, Mexico and Honduras and ends with a discussion of international resistance to the US model by Prisoners of Empire and their allies. The author especially wishes to thank the Colombian human rights group, Lazos de Dignidad (Links of Dignity) for their invaluable help in researching and developing the ideas presented herein, and for their tireless advocacy for Colombia’s political prisoners. This article is a result of an ongoing joint effort between Lazos and the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) in exposing and resisting the Empire of Prisons, and in standing up for its antidote: peace with justice and real, participatory democracy.)

Prison Imperialism: an Overview

The United States, which leads the world in imprisonment rates, is exporting its model of mass incarceration to developing countries around the world. This “prison imperialism” is one of the foundational components to the infrastructure of Empire. Along with the militarization of police forces and borders, mass incarceration enables neoliberal economies to manage by force and intimidation the inevitable consequences of global capitalism: widespread social disruption and rising political dissent. (Neoliberalism is a system including free trade agreements, austerity programs and other measures that assure profitability is treasured above any other social value, and in the developing countries of the US Empire, it is backed up by the US military and its allies.)

Since 2000, there has been an explosion in US efforts to augment and restructure international penitentiary systems, providing training for prison personnel and/or building new jails in at least 25 different countries. The first of these efforts was the Program for the Improvement of the Colombian Prison System, signed by the US Embassy and the Colombian Department of Justice on March 31, 2000. The program was funded as part of the $9 billion the US has invested since 1999 in Plan Colombia mostly to benefit the military and law enforcement.

By 2002 in Afghanistan, and 2003 and 2004 in Iraq, the US was building and managing prisons as part of the invasion and occupation of those countries. These programs were connected from the start with the so-called “Global War on Terrorism” as well as the “Drug War”, through which many prison efforts have been funded. Closely related was the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in January 2002. Many have heard the horror stories of abuses in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the Bagram military detention camps. What most are unaware of is that US involvement in foreign jails has become a worldwide affair and is not just associated with direct military occupations.

The Foundation is Laid in Colombia

Virtually unreported in the US media were the appalling conditions that resulted from the initial US-Colombia collaboration that laid the foundation for future international programs. Funding began with an initial grant from the US of $4.5 million. The first prison built was the penitentiary in Valledupar, commonly known as Tramacúa, completed in November, 2000. Conditions at Tramacúa are so bad that prisoners have access to clean water for only an average 10 minutes a day, sanitary facilities rarely work, torture is common, neglect of health care is systemic and UN and Colombian authorities and international observers have on three different occasions documented the presence of fecal matter in prison food.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/05/empire-of-prisons/

Good Protesters—and the Bad Kind

Apr 01 2014

Good Protesters—and the Bad Kind

When Molotov cocktails are just a ‘boy’s adventure’

~snip~

In Venezuela, meanwhile, demonstrators are similarly labeled. Here’s Mariana Atencio on ABC World News (2/23/14):

It’s been 12 straight days of violent clashes here in Venezuela. On one side, students and the middle class. On the other, police and pro-government groups, followers of the party of anti-American President Hugo Chávez.

So it’s students versus people who support the “anti-American” government—not difficult to figure out whose side you’re supposed to take. Nor did Newsweek (2/21/14) leave much doubt when it described protest leader Leopoldo López this way:

With twinkling chocolate-colored eyes and high cheekbones, López seems to have it all: an attractive and supportive wife, two children who get along with each other and impossibly adorable Labrador puppies. He is charismatic, athletic and good-looking.

Even government opponents who embraced violent tactics received positive media spin. The New York Times (2/24/14) explained that one group in the opposition stronghold of San Cristóbal, one of whom was described as “casually guarding a beer crate full of firebombs,” were “not your ordinary urban guerrillas.”

The next day (2/25/14), the same correspondent, William Neumann, reported that oppositionists “have a variety of homemade weapons—mortars to lob small, noisy explosives, miniature firebombs, slingshots, clubs and nasty-looking things called Miguelitos made from hoses festooned with nails.”

When one such armed group prepared for an assault on a National Guard post, the Times reporter remarked that “at times the whole business has the naïve feel of a boy’s adventure tale”—though it’s hard to remember the Hardy Boys ever throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers.

http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/good-protesters-and-the-bad-kind/

Let Colombia End Its Civil War

Let Colombia End Its Civil War
Analysis by Adam Schaffer and Gimena Sanchez


[font size=1]
Unmarked graves of victims of Colombia’s half-century civil war, like this one in La Macarena in central Colombia, are
scattered across the country. Credit: Constanza Vieira/IPS[/font]

WASHINGTON , Jun 3 2014 (IPS) - After half a century, Colombia may put an end to its conflict—if the U.S. will allow it.

Colombia has been the host of some of the most extreme and brutal violence in Latin America’s history. The country’s half-century long conflict has taken the lives of almost a quarter million women, men, and children, and displaced nearly six million more.

The United States has financed much of the conflict in recent years, investing nine billion dollars since 2000 – much of it to bolster Colombia’s security forces.


Yet peace may be near. On May 16, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest guerrilla group, signed a preliminary accord on the third of five negotiating points in their ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba: illicit drugs.

The agreement offers a viable plan for the FARC to end its involvement in the Colombian drug trade, alternatives for small-scale cultivators of crops destined for illicit drug markets, and meaningful policy reforms at the national level for addressing issues of drug consumption and public health.

More:
http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/06/let-colombia-end-its-civil-war/

Lawmakers Push Back Against Administration’s Failed Latin America Policy

Published on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 by The Hill

Lawmakers Push Back Against Administration’s Failed Latin America Policy

by Mark Weisbrot

In a remarkable eruption of sanity in Washington, there is finally some pushback from Congress against the far-right and “center” on U.S. policy toward Venezuela and Latin America -- something that has not happened under the McCarthyite pall that has prevailed for years.

A letter from members of Congress to President Obama last Tuesday expressed strong opposition to legislation that will impose economic sanctions against Venezuelan officials. In an election year in which there is nothing for politicians to gain from standing up to the bullies of the recently merged anti-Cuba and anti-Venezuela lobbies, this is significant. But even more striking were some of the points that the letter made about U.S. policy in the region.

The members of Congress noted that the U.S. government typically “takes European or African governments’ opinions into account in those regions,” and put forth the proposition that it should do the same for Latin America. Now this might seem like a no-brainer, but the White House and State Department routinely take decisions and actions on regional issues without any consultation whatsoever with other governments. Secretary of State John Kerry’s initial decision to not recognize last year’s presidential election results in Venezuela – which he later reversed under pressure from South America – comes to mind as an example. The U.S. government’s numerous actions in support of the 2009 coup government in Honduras – which were vehemently opposed in the region – are another example of unilateral actions that caused much resentment in the hemisphere.

In a move sure to infuriate the right, the letter also called for the Obama administration to accept Venezuela’s ambassador, and to appoint one for Venezuela. The members of Congress also noted:

"The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the Organization of American States (by a 29-3 vote) have all issued statements that are in various ways supportive of the Venezuelan government and that call for the respect of the country’s democratic institutions. A number of presidents and governments, including Michelle Bachelet of Chile, have publicly warned against attempts to forcibly remove the democratically elected government of Venezuela."

More:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/06/04-11

Santos campaign accuses police of meddling in Colombia’s elections

Santos campaign accuses police of meddling in Colombia’s elections
Jun 3, 2014 posted by Hannah Matthews

Colombia’s police force came under attack on Tuesday after close allies of President Juan Manuel Santos accused the police of campaigning for Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the hard-line rival of the incumbent in the second round of elections.

According to German Vargas, the running mate of Santos, members of the police force have been cited participating in politics in favor of Zuluaga, the candidate of former President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Center party.

The running mate said that some policemen went as far as destroying the incumbent’s political propaganda while the force is supposed to stay neutral during elections.

“In all the states I go I receive from our political leaders complaints about harassment, reaching the extreme of destroying ‘Santista’ propaganda and constraining Santos voters in order to make them tell who they voted for or will vote for,” the running mate said.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/police-politics/

Beating and arbitrary detention of human rights defender Mr José Guadalupe Ruelas García

Posted 2014/5/13

Honduras – Beating and arbitrary detention of human rights defender Mr José Guadalupe Ruelas García

On 8 May 2014, at 11pm, human rights defender Mr José Guadalupe Ruelas García was severely beaten in front of the Presidential Palace by members of the military police before being detained. He was detained on the grounds of driving dangerously and under the influence of alcohol. The alcohol tests, however, confirm his sobriety. He now faces charges of causing harm and injury. José Guadalupe Ruelas García is the Director of Casa Alianza – Honduras (Housing Alliance – Honduras), working on the rights of children and young people in Honduras. The human rights organisation offers crisis care, attention for victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, and assistance for children struggling with drug addictions. The organisation has published research on the impact of government policies upon children.

The human rights defender was driving in front of the Presidential Palace after a meeting with officials of Plan International, when police signalled him to stop. A few minutes later, a motorbike collided with the human rights defenders car, while it was still stationary. The military police forced José Guadalupe Ruelas García out of the car and began to hit and kick him. They insulted him and confiscated his wallet, car and other belongings in the car. They reportedly took 200 USD before dragging the human rights defender to the entrance of the Presidential Palace. -

At 12am, the human rights defender was brought to the first entry of the Kennedy colony. The officials performed six alcohol breath-tests. Despite his requests, José Guadalupe Ruelas García did not receive medical attention. The human rights defender's wife and son, two journalists and a representative of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) were present at the station. At approximately 3:30am, the police brought the human rights defender to the old Core 7 office, where the Prosecutor ordered that José Guadalupe Ruelas García receive medical treatment. At 4:30am, he was treated by a doctor in Viera Hospital who performed another alcohol level test that reportedly confirmed that the human rights defender was not over the legal limit. At 10am, the police brought him to Core 7 before releasing him. José Guadalupe Ruelas García spent the next two days in hospital. The human rights defender is in recovery, but fearful of the impact of the claims on his reputation as a human rights defender. José Guadalupe Ruelas García has been charged with causing harm and injury and a hearing will be heard on 16 May 2014.

The incidents come two days after a statement by the human rights defender in the media criticising the policies of the government towards children. A report published by Casa Alianza - Honduras last month concluded that, since January 2014, 259 children were murdered in the country, the majority with firearms, but some were also killed by blanks, asphyxiation, burnings and other undetermined means. José Guadalupe Ruelas García stated that there exists a systematic campaign of child killings, adding that “violent deaths of girls, boys and young people have increased in this country, and with greater brutality due to the bad policies implemented to fight the problem, because instead of cameras, gates or military battalions, conditions of cohabitation must be created.”

- See more at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/25926#sthash.lgsU5m8j.dpuf

Colombian elections offer a chance for peace – or endless war

Colombian elections offer a chance for peace – or endless war

Presidential hopeful Oscar Iván Zuluaga is promising a hard line on Colombia's Farc rebels – threatening to undo years of work towards peace

Posted by
Jonathan Glennie

Wednesday 4 June 2014 02.00 EDT
theguardian.com


[font size=1]
Supporters of Oscar Iván Zuluaga celebrate incoming results at Zuluaga's campaign HQ
in Bogota, Colombia. (Photograph: AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)[/font]

After four years of the government moving painstakingly from the language of war, which characterised the previous administration, a hard-right wing presidential candidate could end the fragile dream of peace and modernity in Colombia for another generation.

Oscar Iván Zuluaga, an ex-finance minister virtually unknown in Colombia a few months ago, won a notable victory in the first round of the presidential election last week, with his flagship promise to suspend peace talks with the decades-old guerrilla insurgency.

Ex-president Alvaro Uribe, who brought security to large parts of Colombia at the expense of human rights and at the cost of many innocent lives, and who is still Colombia's most popular politician, is masterminding his campaign.

Zuluaga's rival in the second round is Colombia's incumbent president Juan Manuel Santos, who was once Uribe's chosen one, and his ex-defence minister, but is now the object of furious attacks for having begun negotiations in Cuba with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, (Farc) the leftist guerilla group.

More:
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/jun/04/colombia-elections-peace-war-zuluaga

Chiquita Bananas Blocking 9/11 Victims’ Bill to Avoid Punishment for Funding Terrorism

Chiquita Bananas Blocking 9/11 Victims’ Bill to Avoid Punishment for Funding Terrorism
by Tina Nguyen | 11:38 am, June 3rd, 2014

There’s always money in the banana narco-terrorism slush fund: The Daily Beast discovered that Chiquita, the world’s largest banana company, is spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in lobbying fees to block a 9/11 victims funding bill, because it would interfere with their ability to pay off terrorist organizations in South America.

The key to this story is a bill stalled in Congress known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which would allow victims of terrorism and their families to seek accountability from companies that finance international terrorist groups. But Chiquita’s lobbyists found one teensy wrinkle in the bill: namely, the fact that the banana company would be punished for making payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a drug trafficking ring and right-wing paramilitary group which the US has officially designated as terrorists. While Chiquita claim that they were extorted and made nearly $1.7 million in payments to protect their employees in South America, the government didn’t buy that and fined them $25 million in 2007. (AUC has since disbanded.)

So basically, Chiquita has a terrorist problem on their hands:

By 2003, Chiquita’s most profitable operation was its Colombian subsidiary. That same year, Chiquita officials consulted the opinion of outside lawyers in Washington, D.C., who pointedly advised that the payments were illegal and needed to be halted. They did not stop until Feb. 4, 2004. The subsidiary was sold off later that year.

Having acknowledged payments to terrorists—though they claim to be extorted—Chiquita’s interests conflict with those of 9/11 victims’ families.

More:
http://www.mediaite.com/online/chiquita-bananas-blocking-911-victims-bill-to-avoid-punishment-for-funding-terrorism/
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