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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 149,397

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Medellin Police are city’s crime syndicate’s ‘biggest ally': Capo

Source: Colombia Reports

Medellin Police are city’s crime syndicate’s ‘biggest ally': Capo
Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Jun 22, 2015

The biggest ally of Medellin crime syndicate “Oficina de Envigado” is the city’s own police department, a commander of the group told television network Caracol.

The Oficina, founded in the 1980s by late drug lord Pablo Escobar, is the main criminal organization in Medellin and has controlled the many drug trafficking, drug dealing and extortion rackets taking place in the city for decades.

The organization was long controlled by former paramilitary commander “Don Berna,” but violently reorganized after the AUC chief was extradited to the United States in 2008 where he is currently serving a 31-year prison sentence for drug trafficking.

The commander admitted that most of his group’s income is derived from drug dealing and trafficking, and extortion, or “contributions to security” in neighborhoods where police have no to little control.

Read more: http://colombiareports.com/medellin-police-are-citys-crime-syndicates-biggest-ally-capo/

How some towns in Colombia have more registered voters than inhabitants

How some towns in Colombia have more registered voters than inhabitants
Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Jun 22, 2015 |

Almost 70 municipalities in Colombia curiously have more registered voters than inhabitants, electoral observers warned four months ahead of local elections.

The most prominent of towns is Envigado, a town bordering Medellin to the south and the former home of slain drug lord Pablo Escobar, who formed the “Office of Envigado” to turn the militias and neighborhood gangs in Medellin and Envigado into a hierarchical crime syndicate of gangs.

While Escobar has been dead for almost 22 years, his organization is alive and well and has major influence over the city’s economy and the region’s politics.

. . .

The systematic corruption in Envigado stretches so far that corrupt politicians succeeded in registering 225,101 voters; Quite the electoral accomplishment for a town with no more than 217,000 inhabitants.


Law Decriminalizes School Truancy

Source: Associated Press

Law Decriminalizes School Truancy
JUNE 20, 2015

DALLAS — A longstanding Texas law that has sent about 100,000 students a year to criminal court — and some to jail — for missing school is off the books, while a Justice Department investigation into one county’s truancy courts continues.

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to put preventive measures into effect. It will take effect Sept. 1.

Opponents of the previous law said the threat of a heavy fine — up to $500, plus court costs — and a criminal record was not keeping children in school and was sending those who could not pay into a criminal justice system spiral.

Under that law, students as young as 12 could be ordered to court if they had three unexcused absences in four weeks. Schools were required to file a misdemeanor failure to attend school charge against students with more than 10 unexcused absences in six months. Unpaid fines landed some students behind bars when they turned 17.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/us/texas-law-decriminalizes-school-truancy.html?_r=0

We need to make contact with isolated Amazon tribes, say academics

We need to make contact with isolated Amazon tribes, say academics
Steve Connor
Science Editor
Saturday 20 June 2015

Making contact with indigenous tribes who have remained isolated from the modern world should be encouraged rather than forbidden, according to two anthropologists who have challenged official policy towards “uncontacted” people.

In a proposal that has split the anthropological community, American academics Kim Hill and Robert Walker have suggested that the time has come to change the official line on uncontacted tribes by striving to make the first, controlled, contact with people who may be unaware of the rest of humanity.

It is thought that there could be more than 100 isolated indigenous societies in the world – mostly living in the Amazon rainforest of South America – who have never been in contact with the modern world.

After centuries of disastrous interaction between indigenous groups and European colonists, mainly in the Amazon basin where millions of native people have been killed through disease, starvation and slavery since explorers first penetrated, the official policy today is to “leave them alone”.


Meet the brave woman who convicted Guatemala’s former dictator of brutal war crimes

Meet the brave woman who convicted Guatemala’s former dictator of brutal war crimes

A new documentary, “Burden Of Peace,” chronicles Claudia Paz y Paz, Guatemala’s extraordinary first female attorney general

BYNeesha Arter

Photo Courtesy of "Burden Of Peace"

The surname Paz y Paz translates to “Peace and Peace,” which appropriately suits trailblazer Claudia Paz y Paz, Guatemala’s first female attorney general and the subject of the new documentary Burden Of Peace. The film was screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City on Thursday night. Paz y Paz effectively led the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Guatemala from 2010-2014, until her term was controversially cut short by seven months.

Guatemala’s long history of political unrest includes a lengthy civil war from 1960 to 1996, genocide, corruption, crime and a deadly drug war. A scandal erupted in 2010 when attorney general Conrado Reyes, in office for just 17 days, was linked to the Mafia there. Reyes was forced out and the country was left searching for an honest, transparent prosecutor. That’s where Paz y Paz, a human rights lawyer, stepped in. She says in the film, “When I took the job as attorney general, I knew there were risks, but I have to do it because the victims deserve justice … the country deserves justice.”

The film depicts Guatemala as a lawless country where one can “kill, rob, and rape while the state does nothing” prior to Paz y Paz assuming the attorney general post. “Guatemala cannot wait. I will do anything I can to reduce impunity,” Paz y Paz said at the beginning of her term. The film details that when Paz y Paz stepped in, more than 20 people were murdered in Guatemala every day. She risked her safety and reputation to address the issue and by the time she left office, 30 of every 100 murder cases were solved, compared to a mere 5 percent prior to her tenure.

In the first six months of her term, there were more drug traffickers arrested than in the previous decade, and throughout her time served, five of the top 10 most wanted criminals in the country were caught. Paz y Paz continued to imprison corrupt military members and many affiliates of the Zetas, Mexico’s most violent criminal syndicate. In addition to pioneering a new wave of justice in one of the most dangerous countries in Central America, if not the world, Paz y Paz opened 24-hour courts to specifically expedite proceedings of cases of violence against women.


Cuba’s Pristine Coral Reefs Could Become the Caribbean’s Best Dive Spots

Cuba’s Pristine Coral Reefs Could Become the Caribbean’s Best Dive Spots

Chris Gillette , Associated Press
Jun 20, 2015 1:00 pm

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In this June 10, 2015 photo, divers make an immersion at the International diving Center Maria la Gorda on Guanahacabibes peninsula in the province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba.
Chris Gillette / Ap Photo
The coral reefs and gin-clear waters off the coast of Cuba offer some of the best diving in the Caribbean and some of the best-preserved reefs on earth.

And if travel restrictions on U.S. tourism to Cuba are ever lifted, the remote Peninsula of Guanahacabibes could well become a popular destination for American divers.

The land and marine reserve encompasses some 200 square miles (518 square kilometers) on Cuba’s westernmost tip about 135 miles (217 kilometers) northwest of Havana. It juts into the Caribbean, with protected forests on land, aquamarine waters lapping at white sand beaches and pristine coral beds teeming with a colorful variety of fish just offshore.

In some ways, the peninsula is just as frozen in time as other aspects of life in Cuba, where 50-year-old cars are common and Wi-Fi is scarce.

But the lack of change here has had a positive effect, sparing Cuba’s reefs from the degradation evident in coral beds elsewhere. Lack of agricultural run-off, little coastal development and strong environmental laws have all helped keep Cuba’s reefs healthy.


(Hoping Cuba will find a way to stay clean after the flood.)

Eastern Cougar extinct, no longer needs protection, says US conservation agency

Eastern Cougar extinct, no longer needs protection, says US conservation agency

The US Fish and Wildlife service has called for the eastern cougar to be removed from endangered species list after four-year review confirms their extinction

[font size=1]
Western cougar cubs. Their eastern cougar cousins have not been sighted since 1938 according to a US Fish and Wildlife Service review. Photograph: Kevin Schafer/Getty Images
Eastern cougars that once roamed North America from Canada to South Carolina are extinct and no longer warrant federal Endangered Species Act protections, US wildlife managers have said.

The proposal to remove so-called eastern cougars from the list of endangered and threatened species comes nearly 80 years after the last of those mountain lions was believed to have been trapped and killed in New England, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Cougars, also known as panthers and pumas, were once the most widely distributed land mammal in the western hemisphere, but extermination campaigns have seen the large wild cats eliminated from roughly two-thirds of their original range, federal wildlife biologists said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011 opened an extensive review of the status of eastern cougars, cousins to mountain lions that still roam western US states and the imperilled Florida panthers.


Havana: one of the world's great cities on the brink of a fraught transition

Havana: one of the world's great cities on the brink of a fraught transition

With negotiations under way to restore US ties, the Cuban capital’s days as a kind of open-air museum where time stood still are numbered. As the country opens up to the outside world, its people look likely to push for faster change

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‘Havana today can be a jarring collision of the antique and the nouveau’. Photograph: Walter Bibikow/JAI/Corbis
Michael Deibert in Havana
Wednesday 17 June 2015 02.30 EDT

To visit Havana in the late spring, before the torpid humidity and showers of summer, is a glorious thing. Strolling through the streets of La Habana Vieja, its derelict and weather-worn facades still elegant, one encounters the grandeur of squares such as the Plaza de la Catedral, its church built in 1727, where leisurely cats and songbirds find refuge from the exhaust fumes that plague so much of the city.

As they have for decades, at dusk fishermen cast their lines and nets off the Malecón and into the splashing Caribbean, the sun descending as a fiery globe into the sea before them. In Vedado, once a glittering nightlife destination for the 1950s jet set, the old houses and green parks manage to catch some afternoon coolness as they slouch down towards the bay.

The last few years have one been ones of rapid change in Havana, one of the world’s great iconic cities for well over a hundred years and a traditional weathervane of the fortunes of the country as a whole. The days where it served as a kind of an open-air museum where time stood still appear to be drawing to a close, with the opening of a long-closed system generating an inevitable tension and dynamism.

Cuba – including even its increasingly cosmopolitan capital – remains an authoritarian state

Ruled by the Communist dictatorship of the Castro brothers since 1959 (and by the US-backed capitalist dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista for seven years before that), last December US president Barack Obama and Cuban president Raúl Castro announced that long-standing travel and commercial restrictions the US had placed on Cuba would be relaxed, and that full diplomatic relations would be restored. Confirmation that embassies are to reopen in Washington DC and Havana is expected in early July, according to the latest reports. Many in Cuba and abroad hope that the US embargo on the country – a blunt and ineffective tool that collectively punishes Cubans as a whole rather than their government – will soon end as well.


Congress most corrupt institution in Colombia: Report

Congress most corrupt institution in Colombia: Report
Posted by Emma Rosser on Jun 19, 2015

Colombia’s Congress is by far the country’s most corrupt government body, according to Transparency for Colombia.
The 2015 National Transparency Index evaluated 85 national institutions across three factors aimed at combating corruption; visibility, institutional practices and accountability scoring from 0 to 100, where 0 signifies the highest risk of corruption.

The House of Representatives was ranked as the most corrupt institution with an overall score of 24.3, also achieved alarmingly poor levels of accountability and institutionality of just 2.8.

This was closely followed by the Senate also performing poorly in accountability and overall achieving a 45.4. Ancient methodologies that enable officials to violate laws was stated as the main issue for corruption in legislative institutions.

~ snip ~

“The State is obliged to anticipate the action of the corrupt. And in Colombia we are clear that corruption affects the quality of life of the people and the legitimacy of the state,” said Ungar.


Police lieutenant sentenced to prison for selling classified information to political campaign

Police lieutenant sentenced to prison for selling classified information to political campaign
Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Jun 18, 2015

A Bogota police lieutenant was sentenced to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine on Wednesday for selling classified information to an employee of former Colombian presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. The lieutenant is the second police official to be sent to prison over a scandal that involved the illegal spying on ongoing peace talks between the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, and the apparent selling of this information to the Zuluaga’s campaign.

The involved campaign worker, a computer engineer called Andres Sepulveda, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, while four more police officials and the leadership of the conservative opposition party Democratic Center are under investigation.

Among the suspects are Zuluaga, his son and his campaign manager. Former President Alvaro Uribe, the ideological leader of the party, is not formally investigated, but was called to clarify his alleged involvement in the spying scandal in March.

Uribe, who has seen a number of prominent political allies be sent to prison since leaving office in 2010, claims the allegations are part of a political persecution on behalf of his successor and Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre.

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