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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 149,522

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Wickham: Hey America, the Cold War is over

Wickham: Hey America, the Cold War is over

DeWayne Wickham, 7:49 p.m. EDT June 15, 2015

Normalizing U.S. relations with Cuba also means embracing Cuba's medical diplomacy.

HAVANA — When Alexandra Skeeter finished college in May 2014, she didn't want to do much of anything for awhile. Like a lot of students who successfully juggle a lot of things in school — she went to the University of Minnesota on a volleyball scholarship and graduated with a 3.3 GPA — Skeeter felt she needed a breather.

But instead of taking a break, she decided to go straight to medical school — in Cuba.

Skeeter, who is black, is one of more than 100 students from the United States who are enrolled in Cuba's Latin American School of Medicine, a huge training facility a 30-minute drive from the center of this city that was created by the communist government in 1999 to produce doctors for underserved communities in developing nations. It also increased Cuba's political stock in many parts of Africa and the American hemisphere, from which most of the students come.

In all, there are students from 117 nationalities attending this medical school. Students who don't speak Spanish get six months of intensive language training. Some who have difficulty keeping up with their studies take a class called "Learn to Learn." It helps them to be better students by teaching them how to take notes, improve their reading comprehension and make better use of the time they put into studying. Several of the U.S. students said they wish they had taken a course like that in high school.


Station Astronaut Snaps Super Sharp View of the Great Pyramids from Space

Station Astronaut Snaps Super Sharp View of the Great Pyramids from Space
by Ken Kremer on June 13, 2015


The Great Egyptian Pyramids of Giza from space and the International Space Station on 10 June 2015.
“It took me until my last day in space to get a good picture of these!
Credit: NASA/Terry Virts/@AstroTerry
See Pyramid map below[/center]
On his last full day in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS), NASA astronaut Terry Virts at last captured a truly iconic shot of one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” – the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Virts snapped the exquisitely sharp view of the Egyptian pyramids at Giza on June 10 looking out from the stations windows, just hours before entering the Soyuz return spaceship and closing the hatches behind him for his planned plummet back to Earth.

He proudly posted the spectacular photo on his twitter social media account from space while serving as station commander of Expedition 43.

The three pyramids of Giza dominate the fantastically beautiful photo. They are located about 9 km (5 mi) from the town of Giza on the Nile, and some 25 km (15 mi) southwest of the Egyptian capital city of Cairo.


Honduran Hilarity: Why Obama's $1 Billion For Central America Is Risky. And Urgent.

Honduran Hilarity: Why Obama's $1 Billion For Central America Is Risky. And Urgent.

9:00 pm
Wed June 10, 2015

By Tim Padgett

Honduras gives us so many reasons to cry. The world’s worst murder rate. Grinding poverty. All those desperate, unaccompanied child migrants who poured into the U.S. last summer – and who just might come knocking on our border again this summer. These days Honduras is giving us some good laughs, too. As in: I’m laughing so hard I’m crying, because the Honduran hilarity makes me nervous about the fate of the $1 billion the Obama Administration wants to send Honduras and Central America this year.

Consider Honduras' Supreme Court, which recently annulled the rule – Article 239 – that limited the country's presidents to one, four-year term. Fine. A lot of Latin American countries are relaxing presidential re-election bans these days. But Article 239 was considered, at least until now, the sacrosanct core of Honduras’ 1982 Constitution – a shield against the kind of dictators who litter the country’s banana-republic past.

It was so revered that if you wanted to witch-hunt people in Honduras you’d call them re-electionists instead of communists. In fact, Article 239 said that if presidents so much as mentioned to their spouses over breakfast that the constitution should be changed to allow a second term, they automatically forfeited the office.

And that’s why Honduras’ National Congress evoked the rule six years ago this month, during the shameless coup that ousted then President Manuel Zelaya. Under pressure from Honduras’ conservative oligarchy, the legislature decided Zelaya was too liberal and had to go. So it slapped him with a 239. Just one problem: The charge was bogus. Zelaya could certainly be accused of dopey demagoguery, but he hadn’t proposed presidential re-election.


The War in Colombia and Why It Continues

Weekend Edition June 12-14, 2015

Where Ecocide Turns Into Genocide

The War in Colombia and Why It Continues


In Havana, representatives of the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been negotiating peace for 30 months. The war they are trying to end has killed or disappeared 250,000 Colombians over 25 years. The future of the talks is uncertain.

“Today the mountains and forests of Colombia are the heart of Latin America.” At an international forum on Colombia on June 8, former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica was saying that developments in Colombia, including the peace process, are “the most important in Latin America.”

Interviewed on May 30, head FARC negotiator Iván Márquez, asserted that “confidence at the negotiating table is badly impaired and that only a bilateral ceasefire can help the process advance.” He said deaths of “human rights defenders including over 100 members of the Patriotic March coalition” and “persecution of leaders of the social movements” were poisoning the atmosphere.

Since March in Cúcuta, thugs have killed four labor leaders, including on June 2 Alex Fabián Espinosa, a member of the MOVICE human rights group. In May assassins killed community leader Juan David Quintana and professor and social activist Luis Fernando Wolff, both in Medellin. Analyst Azalea Robles says that “a total of 19 human rights defenders were murdered in Columbia during the first four months of 2015.”


US Venezuela talks take place in Haiti despite tensions

US Venezuela talks take place in Haiti despite tensions
4 hours ago

Details have emerged of a high-profile meeting in Haiti between Venezuela and the United States.

Thomas Shannon, a counsellor to the US Secretary of State, met the chairman of Venezuela's national assembly, Diosdado Cabello.

Venezuelan officials tweeted that both sides had been working to resolve the crisis in their relations.

Earlier this year, Venezuela accused the US of plotting a coup and the US declared Caracas a security threat.


Some Cubans worry diplomatic thaw will shift after Obama presidency

Some Cubans worry diplomatic thaw will shift after Obama presidency

Residents who like their lives fret about becoming more like the U.S.

By Alfredo Corchado Dallas Morning News

June 13, 2015 — 4:10pm

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais • Associated Press

Fernando Rodriguez, left, took a selfie outside the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, D.C.
HAVANA – For all of his 27 years, Yaniel Nunez has been obsessed with one question: What becomes of Cuba in the post-Castro era?

It’s a question that has obsessed the entire nation. But with the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations begun by Presidents Obama and Raul Castro, there’s a new question, one that also underscores concerns about an uncertain future.

“What becomes of us, Cuba, in the post-Obama era? That’s the real question,” said Nunez.

Will a flood of U.S. investment change the very nature of Cuba and its communist system? Or will a new U.S. administration slam the door on any further openings?


Sexual Violence as a War Crime in Guatemala: Mayan Women Struggle for Justice

Sexual Violence as a War Crime in Guatemala: Mayan Women Struggle for Justice
Saturday, 13 June 2015 00:00
By Kelsey Alford-Jones, Upside Down World

Interview with Gabriela Rivera, Lawyer with Mujeres Transformando el Mundo (MTM, or Women Transforming the World) in Guatemala, on the Sepur Zarco sexual violence and sexual slavery case.

Q: We talk a lot about torture, massacres and other atrocities committed during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala, but don’t hear a lot about sexual violence. Can you give a little background on how this case developed?

Sexual violence happens during conflicts. Especially in Guatemala where racism and sexism are so widespread, it is really important to know what happened to women during the war.

After the peace agreements were signed in 1996, there was a truth commission to understand what happened during the conflict. During these investigations, it was known that women suffered from sexual violence, but they weren’t really looking for sexual violence. Because there were so many violations committed during the armed conflict, massacres, enforced disappearances, and they were not really asking what happened specifically with women. Many women even gave their testimonies for these truth commissions and spoke about what happened to others, but didn’t speak about the sexual violence they suffered.

The other two organizations in our alliance, ECAP and UNAMG, were hearing that a lot of sexual violence happened in the eastern part of the country. In 2009, MTM, an organization formed mostly of lawyers, was called in to help women learn about their options in the legal system. During that time, the conditions of the legal system were not very good (they still are not very good) but at the time organizations felt there were no real possibilities to go to trial. So the organizations decided to do a Tribunal of Conscience, a symbolic form of justice. In this tribunal, women from different parts of the country talked about how they suffered sexual violence from members of the army, some from members of the guerrilla, and military commissioners, but mostly the army.

Though there were hundreds of thousands of human rights violations, not many cases have gone to trial from that time. Maybe you have heard how, two years ago, former General Efraín Ríos Montt was brought to trial on charges of genocide and he was convicted. The events that happened in Sepur Zarco were during the same time Ríos Montt was president. It was all part of a widespread policy of the government to eliminate or exterminate Mayan people – by killing them, disappearing them, by displacing them and forcing them to leave the country, to leave their culture, or forcing them to live in conditions that were impossible to survive in. But the case was overturned.


Venezuela’s Opposition: Manufacturing Fear in Exchange for Votes

Interesting information discovered during a search:

Venezuela’s Opposition: Manufacturing Fear in Exchange for Votes

Written by Lainie Cassel
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 11:19

~ snip ~

History of Media and Violence

A look back to before Chavez was elected in 1999 helps give context to the current challenges facing Caracas today. One of the wealthiest countries in Latin American largely due to its immense oil reserves, Venezuela also became known for its drastic inequalities of wealth. After the implementation of numerous neoliberal policies that cut social programs and raised the price of basic goods, many of the city’s poor were forced to turn to gangs and illegal activities. Police corruption and easy access to guns created a sense of chaos in the streets. In The Street is my Home, the Venezuelan author Patricia C. Marquez reports on research she conducted on violence in Caracas in the 1990’s:

“In effect, Caracas, is now in a state of siege. The walls that surround the properties of the well-to-do grow higher and higher, and even among the less well off and the poor, there is anxiety, uncertainty, and hopelessness. But while some seek to protect themselves in their fortresses, others cannot escape the bullets flying inside their thin rancho wall.”

However, as Marquez claims, the media largely underreported the violence. She notes that, “The violence in Caracas is much more serious than anything portrayed in the media.” Before 1999, the media, she continues, underplayed “the dimension of the problem to avoid disturbing the public.”

When I spoke with Julio Cesar Velasco, the former civil boss of a poor barrio in central Caracas, he reaffirmed Marquez’ remarks: “Before President Chavez the media reported one of every hundred killings.” However, now he argues, “the media reports every killing a hundred times.”

Yet one NGO, the “Venezuelan Observatory of Violence” (OVV) claims to use media as a method to generate statistics. Numbers published by the OVV, which is run by a right-wing opposition member, Roberto Briceño León, are widely quoted in numerous articles including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Strangely both articles were printed this month even though Reuters reported the same statistics in March of this year.3

Another report published in 2008 by Foreign Policy magazine claimed that according to “official” statistics, Caracas was one of the “Murder capitals of the World”. Mary O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal also quotes supposed “leaked” official reports in a piece published last week. Both articles fail to offer an explanation as how they obtained statistics that were not published and showed no investigation into their validity.


150 Years Later, Two Universities Answer for Their Founder's Role in the Sand Creek Massacre

Published on Friday, June 12, 2015
by YES! Magazine

150 Years Later, Two Universities Answer for Their Founder's Role in the Sand Creek Massacre

Under pressure from students and community members, Northwestern University and University of Denver take the first steps towards righting historic wrongs.

by Ned Blackhawk

[font size=1]
Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. (Photo: Jessica Lamirand/flickr/cc)
November 29, 2014, was the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, one of the most violent days in American Indian history. On that fateful morning, a force of American cavalry officers, led by Colonel John Chivington, and settler militia forces mounted an attack in southeastern Colorado. Through the day, into the night, and again the next morning, nearly 700 soldiers raped, mutilated, and killed peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians allied under the leadership of Black Kettle. Accounts at the time noted the brutality of the attack, with soldiers taking scalps and body parts as trophies. At least 163 community members perished, accelerating a process of ethnic cleansing that ultimately cleared all equestrian Indians from the eastern half of the state. A territory that held few English-speaking communities in 1850 would, by 1870, become dominated by them.

In the lead-up to the 150th anniversary, both Northwestern University and the University of Denver issued detailed reports on Sand Creek. Those investigations were inspired by the demands of students and community members that the universities examine the role of John Evans, Colorado’s second governor. Evans helped found Northwestern before moving to Colorado, where he subsequently founded the University of Denver.

Evans had ordered the recruitment of his territory’s volunteer militia and had fanned the flames of racial hatred in the region beforehand. A Methodist doctor from Illinois, Evans became territorial governor shortly after the election of his close friend Abraham Lincoln, whose administration worked to expand the Republican Party’s influence in the West. Evans had hoped to bring the Colorado Territory into the Union as a free state, and the University of Denver became one of the first universities established in the West. His name figures prominently across each institution as well as their respective metropolitan areas. Northwestern has the John Evans Alumni Center. Endowed professorships carry his name. Evanston, Illinois, home of Northwestern, as well as Colorado’s Mt. Evans are named after him.

Both universities lack Native American Studies programs, which may partly explain why they were so unprepared for student and community concerns. Neither institution had ever recognized Evans’ involvement with the massacre. University leaders were unaware of their founder’s ties to Native American massacre and dispossession, and few American Indian history or studies courses have ever been offered at either school.


[center]~ ~ ~[/center]

[font size=1]
Carol Berry

A carrier of the eagle staff for the annual Sand Creek Massacre Memorial Run in 2013 took a moment to reflect at the
Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site near Eads, Colorado, where ceremony was conducted before young
runners started out on their three-day journey to the state capitol.
6 More Insights Into the People and Times of the Sand Creek Massacre
Konnie LeMay

This month, 150 years ago, more than 600 troops—temporary militia in the Third Colorado Cavalry and professional soldiers in the First Colorado Cavalry—converged above the camps of mainly Cheyenne and Arapaho people beside Sand Creek in the Colorado Territory. In the quiet, slightly snow-sprinkled morning, the troops executed the most horrifying massacre of as many as 200 people—mainly women, children and elder men. This inhuman killing and subsequent mutilation of even children’s bodies happened at the location where chiefs—Black Kettle, White Antelope, Left Hand and others—were sent to await word on peace negotiations with the U.S. military and Colorado government.

Immediately afterward, Col. John Chivington, leader of the unprovoked attack, extolled the “battle” to his superiors, but it soon became evident through letters of other officers and the bloody scene itself that this was nothing less than mass murder, a finding confirmed by federal investigations. The massacre outraged even some of the Civil War-hardened politicians and military men of the time and it likely set in motion the years-long wars between tribes and the U.S. government that followed. Trust had been broken beyond repair, making peaceful negotiations between the clashing cultures more difficult. In remembrance of this event, here are six selected insights into the times and short introductions to some key people involved.

Capt. Silas Soule Tried to Stop the Attack

Capt. Silas Soule, who refused to attack the people at Sand Creek, actually tried to stop the massacre in advance. Days before November 29, Soule encountered Col. John Chivington and the hundred-days men while on patrol. Chivington asked about the Sand Creek camp and Soule reminded him that these chiefs and their people were sent there after peace discussions with the colonel himself. Hearing conversations about Chivington’s men, Soule recognized their murderous intentions.

He first approached officers, chiding anyone who would take part in an attack on a peaceful community as “cowardly sons of bitches,” but some officers reported him to Chivington. He next approached Maj. Scott Anthony, the military head of the region who had assured Chief Black Kettle that he would continue protection given by his predecessor, Maj. Ned Wynkoop. Rather than helping to stop the attack, Anthony told Soule that he was only bidding time until he could gather a large enough force to kill all the Indians.
[font size=1]
Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle survived one massacre only to become the victim of another. (Oklahoma Historical Society)
Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/27/6-more-insights-people-and-times-sand-creek-massacre-158017

The Honduras migrants taking the 'train of death' to the US

The Honduras migrants taking the 'train of death' to the US
12/06/2015 / AMERICAS

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Amiredis president José Luís Hernandez Cruz standing at the back of one of Mexico's 'trains of death'. Photo courtesy of Pedro Ultreras.
Some call it 'the train of death', others 'the beast'. Every year, migrants seriously injure themselves after falling from freight trains that they ride through Mexico in pursuit of the American dream. Fearing that other migrants might suffer the same nightmarish fate, victims left mutilated by 'the beast' have rallied together to raise awareness of their plight.

In 2008, a group of Hondurans created the Association of Returned Migrants with Disabilities (Amiredis). It brings together migrants that were forced to go back to Honduras after they fell from trains, suffering horrific injuries that left them without an arm or leg. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people attempt the perilous journey aboard these freight trains that snake through Mexico in the hope of reaching the United States.

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Some of the members of Amiredis. Photo sent by José Luís Hernandez Cruz.
José Luís Hernandez Cruz, 28, is the president of Amiredis.

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"I fell from the train after I had passed out, because I hadn't eaten for several days"
"Like many young people, when I was 18 years old I left Honduras to try to find work in the United States. After crossing Guatemala, I arrived in Mexico. That's when the nightmare began. I was attacked and the little money I had was stolen from me. So I resigned myself to taking the train, because it's the cheapest mode of transport. I climbed aboard ten trains in all. I fell from one of the wagons after I had passed out, because I hadn't eaten or slept for several days. I lost my right leg, my right arm and three fingers of my left hand.

I fell from the train near the city of Delicias, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. I was lucky - at the time a man was passing through the area saw me fall and he helped me. He called an ambulance that arrived a few minutes later. Without him, I would've certainly bled to death, like many migrants do."

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