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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 135,950

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Colombia: UN experts urge protection of Afro-Colombian communities against elevating violence

Colombia: UN experts urge protection of Afro-Colombian communities against elevating violence

15 June 2016 – Distressed over reports of violence against people of African descent in Colombia, a United Nations expert panel has called on the authorities to take concrete and urgent measures to protect the country’s Afro-Colombian communities.

“We are concerned that many Afro-Colombians community leaders have faced repeated death threats following their call for their ancestral land rights and to prevent the exploitation of their territories by outside mining interests, including multinational mining companies,” said human rights expert Ricardo A. Sunga III, who currently heads the Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent.

The call came at a time when several Afro-descendant leaders are being subjected to intimidation, including death threats, as they campaign for territorial rights.

“We ask for protection of Afro-Colombians, especially those engaged in active campaign for land restitution including in the Cauca Department. The communities’ territorial rights must also be respected,” Mr. Sunga stressed earlier in the week. “We urge the Colombian authorities to put an end to criminalisation and threats against human rights defenders and members of their families,” he added.

More:
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54241#.V2M6xeT2Yrk

Brazil: the revolution is proportional to the size of the crisis

Brazil: the revolution is proportional to the size of the crisis
Raquel Rosenberg 16 June 2016
First of all, Temer out!

When I was invited to write this article about my view of the Brazilian political crisis, I could only think "goodness, what am I going to say?" I imagine that this thought goes through the head of many Brazilians: what is happening in Brazil?

We certainly have more questions and doubts than answers, but much of this questioning has to do with reflections that go far beyond the fact of being on one side or another, or defending a particular party or its opposition. We are living in difficult times and through a much needed fight, because the regression I am witnessing today in my country I thought I would never see in my life. There is a feeling of fear, anxiety, impotence. But, above all, a feeling that we young people cannot stand still and need to act right now.

Where did it all start?

It seems such a short time since we took to the streets throughout Brazil, in June 2013, fighting not only against the increased bus fares, but also against the police repressive brutality that was pervasive during the demonstrations. It then turned into a mix of patterns that no one understood any more - people with placards against corruption, for improving education and healthcare, for gender equity, for the indigenous peoples and the environment. In short, everyone wanted to show their indignation at something. I think it was on June, 17, 2013, when millions of people drove Brazil to a standstill, that I realized the strength we had on the streets, but also the wide variety of the agendas and questionings in Brazilian society.

When Dilma Rousseff was elected with 51,64% of the votes against 48,36% for Aécio Neves in the tightest elections since 1989 - when the country was leaving the dictatorship behind -, I thought that disgruntled people were too big a percentage. The vast and absurd media campaign, manipulated by the handful of media that dominate the country's communication, was primarily responsible for the strengthening of the pro impeachment movements arising since then. And as from March 2015, an opposition began to take to the streets without any other project than loudly demanding the resignation, or removal, of a president elected by a majority vote - people on the verge of a nervous breakdown, claiming for absurdities such as the return of a military government, who wanted that which was denied them at the polls, for the only reason that they wanted it, and shouted so.

More:
https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/raquel-rosenberg/brazil-revolution-is-proportional-to-size-of-crisis

The Political Future of Brazil’s ‘Frank Underwood’

The Political Future of Brazil’s ‘Frank Underwood’

Eduardo Cunha, the legislator who led the charge to remove Dilma Rousseff, now faces his own crisis.

Marina Koren
| Jun 15, 2016

Two months ago, Eduardo Cunha was leading the impeachment movement that would temporarily unseat Dilma Rousseff, banishing her to the presidential palace to prepare for a trial while her vice president took over her job. Now, Cunha is facing his own fight for his political future.

Brazil’s congressional ethics committee on Tuesday voted in favor of removing Cunha from his seat in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Brazil’s congress. The decision arose from corruption allegations against Cunha, a member of the now-ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) who has been described as Rousseff’s “political nemesis.” In May, just one week before Rousseff’s decisive impeachment vote, the country’s Supreme Court suspended Cunha from his position as speaker of the house, at the request of the attorney general, for using his high-ranking role to obstruct ethics committee hearings and intimidate lawmakers.

Cunha said he would appeal the decision to another congressional committee. The full chamber will now vote on the ethics committee’s recommendation, which would require an absolute majority of members—257 of 513—to pass. If legislators vote to kick Cunha out, the chamber would hold elections for a new speaker; Waldir Maranhao, a member of the Progressive Party and a Cunha ally, currently holds the position on an interim basis. And Cunha, dubbed the “Frank Underwood of Brazil” by Western media for spearheading House of Cards-esque impeachment proceedings, would be barred from running for political office for eight years.

Cunha’s political crisis is reminiscent of the one he laid out for Rousseff, the leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), this spring. Rousseff is accused of lying about and concealing the state of the government’s troubled financial situation during her re-election campaign in 2014; Cunha is accused of lying about and concealing bank accounts he owns in Switzerland. Rousseff spent days in limbo as lawmakers considered whether to oust her; Cunha will do the same. Signs reading “tchau querida”—bye, darling—followed Rousseff out after the months-long impeachment saga; last month, members of the lower house who oppose Cunha held up placards that read “fora Cunha”—out Cunha. Both Cunha and Rousseff have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. And both face increasing public distrust because of the same thing: the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Brazil.

More:
http://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/06/brazil-cunha-rousseff/487136/

Facing Expulsion, Brazil Coup Leader Cunha Ready to Rat on 150 Lawmakers

Facing Expulsion, Brazil Coup Leader Cunha Ready to Rat on 150 Lawmakers


[font size=1]
Former president of the Lower House Eduardo Cunha (C), president of the Senate Renan Calheiros (L) and Interim President Michel Temmer (R) | Photo: EFE

Published 15 June 2016 (19 hours 44 minutes ago)
[/font]


Eduardo Cunha, a main mover of the parliamentary coup against Dilma Rousseff, threatened on Wednesday to bring down 150 parliamentarians, a minister and a senator close to Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer with him if he is expelled from the Lower House.

He reportedly told Temer’s staff that, “if I’m condemned by your peers, or if the Supreme Federal Tribunal sentences me to prison, I will not go down alone.”

The Council of Ethics of the Chamber of Deputies, which Cunha once led, voted 11 to 9 on Tuesday to suspend the lawmaker and ban him for eight years from elected office for lying about his undeclared Swiss bank accounts.

Cunha was already suspended by the country's Supreme Court over allegations he was using his position to obstruct an investigation into possible improprieties.

More:
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Facing-Expulsion-Brazils-Cunha-Ready-to-Rat-on-150-Lawmakers-20160615-0018.html

Documents: Image of chained, diapered detainees worried Bush

Source: Associated Press

Documents: Image of chained, diapered detainees worried Bush

DEB RIECHMANN
June 16, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly declassified documents offer more details about a detainee who died inside the secret prison network the CIA operated abroad after the Sept. 11 attacks and disclose that President George W. Bush was worried about the image of shackled detainees wearing adult diapers.

Among the 50 documents released was a heavily redacted memo in which then-CIA Director Porter Goss recounts a meeting with Bush on June 7, 2006. The only sentence left to read said: "The president was concerned about the image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper and forced to go to the bathroom on themselves."

Human rights advocates said Wednesday that this week's release of the documents — many footnoted in the 2014 Senate report on the torture of detainees — depict the human suffering associated with the CIA's enhanced interrogation program, which President Barack Obama said did significant damage to America's standing in the world.

"A lot of these details haven't been released before and I think they kind of underscore the depravity of the program," said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. "You read these documents and you cannot help come away with and understand the grotesqueness of the methods they were using.

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/documents-image-chained-diapered-detainees-worried-bush-071558626--politics.html?nhp=1

Brazil’s Temer involved in Petrobras graft – witness

Brazil’s Temer involved in Petrobras graft – witness

June 16, 2016 10:04 am

BRASÍLIA: Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer was involved in a massive corruption scandal shaking the country’s political establishment and asked for dirty cash diverted from state oil company Petrobras, a key witness said.

The explosive allegations were made by Sergio Machado, the former chief executive of Petrobras subsidiary Transpetro, in a plea deal with prosecutors that could take down yet more big-name politicians in the sweeping scandal.

Machado said Temer personally asked him for money from an illegal kickbacks scheme at Petrobras to fund an ally’s campaign for mayor of Sao Paulo in 2012, according to a prosecution document obtained by Agence France-Presse Wednesday.

The oil executive told prosecutors Temer met with him to ask for “illegal resources from companies that had contracts with Transpetro” to finance the campaign of congressman Gabriel Chalita to the tune of 1.5 million reals ($431,000 at the current exchange rate).

More:
http://www.manilatimes.net/breaking_news/brazils-temer-involved-in-petrobras-graft-witness/

LBN:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10141490812

Brazil’s Temer involved in Petrobras graft – witness

Source: Agence France-Presse

Brazil’s Temer involved in Petrobras graft – witness

June 16, 2016 10:04 am

BRASÍLIA: Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer was involved in a massive corruption scandal shaking the country’s political establishment and asked for dirty cash diverted from state oil company Petrobras, a key witness said.

The explosive allegations were made by Sergio Machado, the former chief executive of Petrobras subsidiary Transpetro, in a plea deal with prosecutors that could take down yet more big-name politicians in the sweeping scandal.

Machado said Temer personally asked him for money from an illegal kickbacks scheme at Petrobras to fund an ally’s campaign for mayor of Sao Paulo in 2012, according to a prosecution document obtained by Agence France-Presse Wednesday.

The oil executive told prosecutors Temer met with him to ask for “illegal resources from companies that had contracts with Transpetro” to finance the campaign of congressman Gabriel Chalita to the tune of 1.5 million reals ($431,000 at the current exchange rate).

Read more: http://www.manilatimes.net/breaking_news/brazils-temer-involved-in-petrobras-graft-witness/

Cold War, Cold Beers: How an Abandoned Iran-Contra Plane Ended up a Bar in Costa Rica

Cold War, Cold Beers: How an Abandoned Iran-Contra Plane Ended up a Bar in Costa Rica

Meg Van Huygen



Perched in the jungle on the Pacific edge of Costa Rica, a 1954 Fairchild C-123 Provider aircraft originally built for the U.S. Air Force sits looking like it might have crashed into a hill. It’s a cargo plane, the kind often used for covert operations. But it’s not just a historical relic from one of the biggest scandals in U.S. history—it’s also a bar.

A quick rundown of the Iran-Contra Affair for those not familiar: If you’re an American, you may remember the name Oliver North. He’s the man who worked for the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan in the mid-’80s and was responsible for artificially inflating the prices of arms that the U.S. sold to Iran, a deal they struck with the Iranians in order to win back American hostages in Lebanon. North then scooped up the profits and, with the help of the CIA, used (some of) them to buy a bunch of military planes, spare parts, and munitions, then construct a secret airstrip on a ranch in Costa Rica. North funneled the goods to the anti-communist guerrilla Contra rebels in Nicaragua, who were fighting the Cuba-allied Sandinistas.

Two of the shady planes that North bought for the Contras were Fairchild C-123s. One of them famously got shot down over Nicaragua on October 5, 1986, as it was shuttling Soviet-made AK-47s, ammo, rocket grenades, and more to be dropped off in the waiting arms of the Contras. The pilot, who parachuted out, was apprehended by the Sandinistas. His testimony ultimately caused a huge snowball of cover-ups on the part of the Reagan administration to come to light—and the end of the cargo-smuggling operation.



Stephen Allen


Meanwhile, the other 123-C, our heroine, sat moldering away at Costa Rica’s international airport in San José for the next decade and change. In 2000, some enterprising locals managed to buy the orphaned plane for just $3000 USD, with the idea of schlepping it out to the rainforest on the Pacific coast as a tourist attraction. They ran into a problem, though, when it turned out that the narrow roads and bridges transversing the area, built over a century earlier in order to transport bananas, were too slender to accommodate a clunky 1950s military plane. They ended up dismantling the aircraft and shipping it to the coast on an ocean ferry, hauling seven pieces up the steep road through the Manuel Antonio hill.

More:
http://mentalfloss.com/article/81644/cold-war-cold-beers-how-abandoned-iran-contra-plane-ended-bar-costa-rica

El Salvador's sugarcane workers and their silent killer

El Salvador's sugarcane workers and their silent killer


A small organisation is tackling a deadly epidemic of chronic disease among El Salvador's sugarcane workers.

14 Jun 2016 15:35 GMT



In El Salvador, a mysterious epidemic has been killing thousands of young sugarcane workers and devastating the country's most impoverished communities.

The epidemic is responsible for more deaths inside the sugarcane-producing community than leukaemia, diabetes and Aids combined.

For years, the deaths have been blamed on the workers' unhealthy lifestyles, chemical fertilisers and even bacterial infections. But there is growing consensus among medical professionals that the real reason may be far simpler - the extreme work conditions.

Rising temperatures, hard labour and dehydration all contribute to a decline in kidney function. Over time, the accumulated effect becomes chronic, leaving individuals at the mercy of chronic kidney disease.

More:
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/thecure/2016/06/el-salvador-sugarcane-workers-silent-killer-160606133827688.html

Guatemala Elite Accused of Coopting Govt to Run Huge Fraud Ring

Guatemala Elite Accused of Coopting Govt to Run Huge Fraud Ring
Published 15 June 2016


Former President Otto Perez Molina and his Vice President Roxana Baldetti are accused of operating a corruption scheme that stole millions through state institutions.


Guatemalan prosecutors began presenting evidence on Tuesday to bring charges against over 50 defendants, including former President Otto Perez Molina and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, for a massive multi-million dollar government corruption scandal involving a slew of crimes including money laundering, bribery, and illegal campaign financing.

The trial, which kicked off on Monday, continues the probe into government fraud that picked up speed last year as investigators unravelled an intricate customs fraud network, known as La Linea, in the country’s Tax Authority.

Perez Molina and Baldetti, who both stepped down last year under massive social movement pressure, are accused of heading the corruption ring that allegedly stole more than US$1 million. Fraud in other institutions, including bribes for contracts, and illegal campaign financing swept up as much as over US$100 million more.

More:
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Guatemala-Elite-Accused-of-Coopting-Govt-to-Run-Huge-Fraud-Ring-20160615-0001.html
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