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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 152,000

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Colombia has 2nd highest rate of forced displacement in the world: UN

Colombia has 2nd highest rate of forced displacement in the world: UN
Jun 20, 2014 posted by Arthi Nachiappan

Colombia is home to one of the world’s largest populations of displaced people, according to a study by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Half a century of war has uprooted a total of almost six million Colombians to date; a statistic which places the country second only to Syria with Nigeria being third, according to the latest data from the International Displacement Monitoring Center.

In 2013, the number of victims globally increased by six million, compared with 2012, said the UN study on displacement across the world, presented by High Commissioner Antonio Guterres.

Meanwhile, the number of people displaced in Colombia fell by 32% from 2012 to 2013, according to a joint report by the Colombian government and a local NGO released earlier this month.


Evidence in Colombia’s high profile judicial investigations disappearing

Evidence in Colombia’s high profile judicial investigations disappearing
Jun 20, 2014 posted by Nicolas Bedoya

Agents from the Prosecutor General’s office checked the computers of magistrates on Colombia’s State Council to see if they were being spied on, Colombian media reported on Friday. Agents from the Prosecutor General’s criminal investigation unit (CTI) checked the office of Magistrate Gustavo Gomez Aranguren for illegal spying after certain files had apparently been remotely deleted from his computer, according to Colombia’s FM Radio.

The Prosecutor General was invited by the president of the State Council, Maria Claudia Rojas, to see if they could find out who had been illegally accessing information on high profile judicial information.Rojas informed FM Radio that “there are times when we feel our decisions are being filtered and known by third parties, with commas and everything, even before they are analyzed by the criminal court, which has us very worried.”

This revelation comes at the same time that it was uncovered that evidence pertaining to Colombia’s former intelligence agency’s wiretapping scandal had gone missing from Bogota’s National Archive.

According to Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper, it has been established that Magistrate Aranguren’s computer would turn on and off without anyone controlling it, files would be deleted, and some paragraphs of rulings manipulated to change key phrases in the sentences. The hypothesis is that the computer was being controlled remotely.


US military aid to Colombia had a ‘significant impact’ on increased extrajudicial killings by Armed

Source: Colombia Reports

US military aid to Colombia had a ‘significant impact’ on increased extrajudicial killings by Armed Forces
Jun 20, 2014 posted by Oliver Sheldon

Military aid provided by the United States to Colombia between 2000 and 2010 had a significant impact on the increase in cases over the extrajudicial killings of civilians by the army, known as “false positives,” according to a report released Thursday.

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination (CCEEU) conducted this research, released on Thursday by the Lawyers Collective Jose Alvear Restrepo, who seek to “defend and promote human rights and the rights of peoples (…) in order to contribute to the fight against impunity.”

The report states that it is an “attempt to understand what role was played (if any at all) by security assistance of the United States in the rise and fall of extrajudicial killings committed under the name of “false positives” by the Colombian Army during the period 2000-2010.”

The report revealed that “there is a correlation between army brigades that received a medium level of US assistance with extrajudicial executions.”

According to testimony from military leaders, the positive correlation can be explained by the fact that there was an established policy to produce inflated kill-counts so as not to miss out on US aid. As a result, military units engaged in the extrajudicial killings of civilians, which they subsequently presented as guerrillas killed in combat.

Read more: http://colombiareports.co/us-military-aid-colombia-significant-impact-increase-extrajudicial-killings-armed-forces/

"False positives" is a remarkable euphemism meant to conceal the act of murdering innocent people and pretending they were rebels taken in war.

Evidence in Colombia’s intelligence agency wiretapping scandal gone missing

Evidence in Colombia’s intelligence agency wiretapping scandal gone missing
Jun 19, 2014 posted by Nicolas Bedoya

An inspection by agents from Colombia’s investigation unit discovered that evidence was missing from the National Archive in Bogota regarding the wiretapping scandal of Colombia’s former intelligence agency.

The disappearance of the evidence in the wiretapping case against Colombia’s now-defunct intelligence agency, DAS, was confirmed by journalist Claudia Julieta Duque, who claims to have been “psychologically tortured” and harassed by the former agency, Colombia’s Caracol Radio reported on Thursday.

“When the database was handed over, it had 40 modules with information and now there are only three. In that database were two resumes of my harassment conducted by the DAS, and now those archives are gone,” said Duque according to South American news outlet teleSUR.

To date, more than seven former officials of the DAS are under investigation over Duque’s case, according to Caracol.


Chilean mountaintop blasted for giant telescope

Chilean mountaintop blasted for giant telescope
The Associated Press
Posted: 06/19/2014 12:39:16 PM PDT# Comments | Updated: about 3 hours ago

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Astronomers in Chile are blasting away the top of a mountain to install what they say will be the world's largest optical telescope.

The 9,800-foot (3,000 meter) Cerro Armazones mountain will be the new home of the European Extremely Large Telescope.

Thursday's blast is being overseen by officials at the European Southern Observatory in northern Chile.

Their ground-based telescope has a 128-foot (39-meter) mirror, and the astronomers are calling it "the world's biggest eye on the sky." They say it will help advance the study of planets around other stars, dark matter and supermassive black holes.


(Short article, no more at link.)

[center]~ ~ ~[/center]
World's Biggest Telescope to be Installed Atop Chile's Cerro Armazones
By Rahul R
June 19, 2014 13:09 BST

[font size=1]
VFTS 102, shown in the center, rotates more than 300 times faster than the Sun, astronomers found using the Very Large Telescope from the European Southern Observatory.ESO[/font]

The world's biggest telescope is all set to be installed atop the 3,000 metre high Cerro Armazones in Chile after blasting off a significant portion of the mountain's surface.

The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project is the brainchild of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), a Britain-based organisation.

According to a Guardian report, the blasting off of the mountain will take place at 2pm local time (7pm BST) on 19 June. This will be followed by month-long operations to clear the rubble after which work for installing the telescope will begin.

A massive, 2,500 tons of steel is expected to be used in building the E-ELT's most important mirror.

The world's biggest telescope is all set to be installed atop the 3,000 metre high Cerro Armazones in Chile after blasting off a significant portion of the mountain's surface.

The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project is the brainchild of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), a Britain-based organisation.

The E-ELT will aid stargazers and scientists in a big way. "I feel excited. We are opening a highway for the future knowledge of astronomy," Roberto Tamia is quoted as saying by the Guardian.



Cerro Armazones Mountain

This is the installation at Paranal. They are all within the Atacama Desert. [/center]

US Scientists, Oil Giant Stole Indigenous Blood

Published on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 by Common Dreams

US Scientists, Oil Giant Stole Indigenous Blood

For years, scientists working with Maxus Energy took blood samples from hundreds of Amazonian tribal members

- Max Ocean, editorial intern

[font size=1]
Members of the Ecuadorean indigenous group known as the Huaorani
(Credit: Jean-François Renaud/cc/flickr)[/font]

U.S. scientists working together with oil company Maxus Energy took around 3,500 blood samples from the indigenous Amazonian tribe known as the Huaorani, Ecuador charged on Monday.

The Huaorani are known for a unique genetic makeup that makes them immune to certain diseases.

René Ramírez, the head of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, told Ecuador state TV on Monday that samples were taken from around 600 Huaorani, and that multiple pints of blood were taken from many members of the tribe. Ramírez said that it is not yet known whether the samples have resulted in any commercial gains, but that samples were sold for scientific research.

According to an initial investigation two years ago, “It was demonstrated that the Coriell Institute has in its stores samples (from the Huaorani) and that it sells genetic material from the Huaorani people.” Harvard University was among the purchasers. Specifically, the 2012 report found that since 1994, seven cell cultures and 36 blood samples were distributed to eight different countries.

In the same report the Huaorani said that scientists had tricked them into allowing their blood to be taken between 1990 and 1991; however, President Rafael Correa said that there is now evidence that samples were taken as far back as the 1970s “in complicity with the oil company operating in the area.”

The Huaorani allegedly agreed to give the blood samples because scientists lied to them about why the samples were being taken. They were told the samples were being taken for medical tests, but never received results.

According to the website Hispanically Speaking News, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Correa said that at least 31 research papers were written between 1989 and 2012 based on the blood samples obtained––all without the consent of the Huaorani or the royalty payments normally required.

The taking of the samples was illegal, as Ecuador’s constitution bans the use of scientific research including genetic material in violation of human rights.

According to AFP, when the allegations first emerged in 2012, the U.S. Embassy said it was not aware of the case, and they did not immediately issue a response after Ecuador brought the charges on Monday.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.


Panama repeals asylum for Colombia’s former spy-chief

Panama repeals asylum for Colombia’s former spy-chief
Jun 18, 2014 posted by Victoria McKenzie

Panama’s Supreme Court has revoked political asylum for the disgraced former director of Colombia’s now-defunct intelligence agency, who is wanted in connection with a wiretapping scandal, national media reported Wednesday.

After repeated requests by Colombian authorities for the extradition of Maria del Pilar Hurtado, former head of Colombia’s now-defunct intelligence agency DAS, the Panamanian Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that her political asylum was “unconstitutional,” according to reports by Prensa Latina.

Hurtado, formerly director of Colombia’s secret police under the presidency of Alvaro Uribe, fled Colombia in 2010 before an arrest warrant could be brought against her for conspiracy, illegal interception of communication, abuse of public power, and fraud.

Hurtado, claiming to be a victim of political persecution, was granted asylum in Panama by then-president Ricardo Martinelli.

One of the country’s more infamous wiretapping scandals unfolded under Hurtado in 2008, after it was revealed that the DAS had been spying on the Supreme Court, journalists, human rights defenders, and politicians in opposition to the Uribe administration.


Uruguay's austere president urges leaders to fight 'culture of waste' growing in poor nations

Uruguay's austere president urges leaders to fight 'culture of waste' growing in poor nations
By The Associated Press June 15, 2014

LA PAZ, Bolivia - Uruguay's austere president is urging world leaders to fight a "culture of waste" in which poor nations try to emulate richer countries rather than live in balance with the environment.

Speaking in Bolivia on Sunday to a summit of the Group of 77 and China, Jose Mujica calls the growth in consumerism "a trap" that will produce material gain at the cost of human development.

Mujica is a former guerrilla leader and he has won attention for his no-frills lifestyle as Uruguay's president, including driving an old Volkswagen Beetle and living on a simple flower farm.

Opposition leaders in Bolivia have criticized the summit of representatives from 128 nations as a waste of money. President Evo Morales defends the meeting, saying will help promote Bolivia and its social reforms.


(Short article, no more at link.)

Louisiana shrimp season threatened by US ethanol policy: Larry McKinney

Louisiana shrimp season threatened by US ethanol policy: Larry McKinney
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
By Contributing Op-Ed columnist
on June 16, 2014 at 8:25 AM, updated June 16, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Louisiana's spring shrimp season is officially open, but what should be a time to celebrate the annual kickoff of a key driver of the coastal economy is now overshadowed by a looming threat to the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem. The "dead zone" -- a Connecticut-sized area of low oxygen water that kills off marine life -- continues to grow in size due to U.S. ethanol policy and is threatening this year's harvest and the coastal economy.

The key factor contributing to the size and duration of this "dead zone" begins hundreds of miles away in the Corn Belt. There, the aggressive expansion of a U.S. biofuel policy called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2007 incentivized the rapid escalation of corn planted for fuel production. This push for a domestically produced "green" fuel came at a time of increased reliance on foreign oil imports and heightened demand for gasoline. Yet, the U.S. energy landscape has since drastically improved due to a domestic oil and gas production boom and improvements in vehicle efficiency technologies.

Despite this, the Renewable Fuel Standard continues to require that increasing amounts of biofuels be blended into the nation's gasoline supply. As more than 80 percent of the mandate continues to be met by corn ethanol, farms across the Midwest have converted an additional 13.5 million acres to grow corn -- a particularly resource-intensive crop. For instance, while corn was planted on 23 percent of U.S. cropland in 2009, it received 40 percent of the fertilizer used across the nation. As the corn crop expands to meet the requirements of the RFS, it demands a greater amount of fertilizer, which then runs off into the Mississippi River and ultimately makes its way into the Gulf of Mexico. The end result is catastrophic.

The growing amount of fertilizer being lost to the Gulf has led to the creation of this low-oxygen area of water, which spanned nearly 5,900 square miles off the Gulf Coast last summer. That made it the second-largest manmade "dead zone" in the world. When fertilizer reaches the ocean, it encourages the growth of algae blooms. The algae eventually die and decompose in a process that consumes oxygen and creates oxygen-free areas where fish and other aquatic creatures cannot survive. Prized Gulf seafood like shrimp, crabs and clams are particularly threatened by the dead zone -- as are the Gulf communities supported by the seafood industry.


UN secretary general praises Cuba for hosting Colombia govt, FARC peace talks

UN secretary general praises Cuba for hosting Colombia govt, FARC peace talks
Jun 16, 2014 posted by Tim Hinchliffe

The secretary general of the United Nations (UN) stressed the importance of the ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba between Colombia’s government and the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC during the UN’s 50th annual Group of 77 (G77) Summit on Sunday.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Cuba’s President Raul Castro at the G77 Summit in Bolivia to offer him praise on being the country to host the peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government, according to a UN press release.

The secretary general expressed hope that with these peace talks, Colombia’s 50-year armed conflict could finally be put to an end.

Last week, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos announced initiating exploratory peace talks with the country’s second largest guerrilla group, the ELN.

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