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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 143,127

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North Colombia mayor investigated over community leader's homicide

The Otero family and former President Alvaro Uribe at his Uberrimo estate. (Image: Lengua Caribe)

by Adriaan Alsema June 26, 2019

The Inspector General announced an investigation into the mayor of a town in the north of Colombia over the murder of a local community leader that has triggered a national wave of indignation since Friday.

The killing of Maria Del Pilar Hurtado has put Mayor Fabio Otero and his family in the spotlight after another community leader denounced alleged police ties to a death squad and political activists dug up the family’s history of land dispossession.

The Inspector General’s Office said Thursday it had opened a disciplinary investigation into Otero and his Government Secretary, Willington Ortiz, who is responsible for the local police.

The investigations seeks to “determine the role of the administration against the occupation of plots by a sector of the community as well as the management of the alleged threats suffered by the leader and representative of the community that had squatted a number of lots in the municipality.

. . .

The mayor’s father is a large land owner from the region who has been sentenced to return land he had dispossessed from farmers who were displaced by paramilitary violence in Cordoba.

The Ortero family are associates of former President Alvaro Uribe, another rancher from the region who has been accused of having formed a death squad when he was governor of the neighboring Antioquia province in the 1990s.


Native People: Changing Our Ways of Seeing

JUNE 21, 2019

Haida totem carving, British Columbia. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

In the early 1960s while a student at the University of British Columbia I became fascinated with the study of cultural anthropology. Anthropology, for me, held up a “mirror for man.” It challenged us to see ourselves in the experience of others of different colour, to respect different ways of seeing values, kinship systems and social organization. But, I soon discovered, it was not easy to grasp who Natives were and how they understood themselves in their world of constant change, upheaval and intense traumatic suffering.

Indians had long filled a pathetic imaginative space for the dominant culture. Their cultures had been steadily eroding, at best hanging on in museum-like reservations or, perhaps worse, living only in anthropological displays. Anthropologists rushed out into the field to record the dying languages and capture fragments of once proud, beautiful but now vanishing people. Anthropologists were the saviours of non-western cultures.

I moved out of the schoolbook world of the University of British Columbia in the summers of 1963 and 1964 to travel up the North West Coast to see for myself the magnificent cultures of the Tsimshian, Tlingit, Haida, Kwakiutl and Coast Salish. My teachers (famous scholars like Harry Hawthorn, Wilson Duff and Wayne Suttles) had taught me to appreciate the meaning of majestic totem poles, the wonders of North West Coast mythology and art, the mysteries of the potlatch and the profound native sensitivity to land and sea. They presented me with powerful images of cultures as integrated, meaningful wholes.

But these images sat uneasily with my evangelical Christian beliefs. My anthropology teachers had nurtured respect for beliefs and practices different from my own. My Baptist teachers had encouraged me to see others in need of conversion. So, with these conflicting images of the North West Coast Indian in my imagination I sailed up the coast with twenty other members of the Marine Medical Mission. My assignment was to run youth programs on the island of Kitkatla, a Tsimshian village of about three hundred, located about 40 miles to the west of Prince Rupert, and in Port Edward, a cannery town reminiscent of Steinbeck’s cannery row on the mouth of the Skeena River.


Colonel Hernan Mejia: from The Americas' Best Soldier to one of Colombia's most feared war criminals

by Adriaan Alsema June 23, 2019

Former army Colonel Hernan Mejia was twice named “Best Soldier of the Americas,” but has since become one of the most feared war criminals in Colombia.

Mejia submitted to the JEP, “with the firm belief that the only way Colombia can reconcile with its past is by telling the truth, that history will not be an an agreement with a set of agreed-upon lies,” he told journalist Vicky Davila of W Radio.

Mejia’s omerta

The colonel’s subordinates, however, fear that if they tell the truth about the former colonel, they will await the same fate as two previous witnesses.

Fredys Oñate and Jose Trinidad were assassinated before they could testify about Mejia’s ties to “Jorge 40,” the paramilitary warlord who also had ties to Davila’s in-laws, the Gnecco crime family.


Colombia's military brass going after "rats" who denounce war crimes and corruption: report

by Adriaan Alsema June 23, 2019

Soldiers who have reported corruption or human rights violations by Colombia’s army commanders have suffered assassination attempts, death threats and constant persecution, according to weekly Semana.

Officers are additionally shadowed by counterintelligence agents, the magazine found out when one of its sources confronted one of the spies during an interview in a Bogota shopping mall.

Colombia’s war crimes tribunal last week ordered emergency security measures for 11 officers testifying against former army commander General Mario Montoya and former Colonel Hernan Mejia amid fears their lives could be in danger.

The reported violence and intimidation come amid war crimes tribunal investigations into the military’s mass killings of civilians, multiple investigations into embezzlement and recent reports that army chief General Nicacio Martinez’ orders could revive the mass violation of human rights.


So it's easy to see the silencing of Colombian journalists is continuing, all over again, as they have learned they are followed, their phones tapped, etc., etc., just like would-be witnesses against the organized murders of everyone in the road of the criminals who have been using the system for concealment and profit. Duque, Uribe's protege has continued his tradition.


Alleen Brown
June 23 2019, 9:30 a.m.
Video by Martyna Starosta

TERESA MUÑOZ WAS riding her motorbike along her regular delivery route on a winding Guatemala road, carrying the homemade cheese she sold for a living, when she saw in her rearview mirror one of the white sedans that employees of the Escobal silver mine drove. Mining company cars had followed her before, but this time, the vehicle swerved. The driver rammed her motorbike, pitching her into the street, and then sped off. Muñoz was left bruised and scraped, convinced they’d meant to kill her.

For years, she had been a leader in the fight against the silver mine, the project of Tahoe Resources, a U.S.-headquartered Canadian company. Located in the southeastern Guatemala city of San Rafael las Flores, Escobal was on its way to becoming one of the largest silver mines in the world. Muñoz and her family helped organize community votes on the mine, participated in rallies to stop production, and educated people about the mine’s potential harms.

Rainfall in the mountains that contain the Escobal mine feeds the Los Esclavos River and a multitude of natural springs, whose waters fuel the production of coffee and onions in the region, grown for export. For sustenance, families grow beans, corn, and squash in the forested hillsides. More than half the surrounding population lives below the poverty line, making them particularly vulnerable to changes in the local hydrology. Mines like Escobal use massive quantities of water and divert flows in ways that can disrupt communities’ access. Such projects have also been known to leach heavy metals into drinking water sources.

The mountains are part of the territory of the Xinca people, an Indigenous group whose language and culture were nearly wiped out by Spanish colonizers and the Catholic Church. For years, Tahoe Resources argued that there were no Xinca people left in the communities surrounding the mine who would require any consultation. They were wrong. In fact, the mine’s denial of the Xincas’ existence fueled a regional reclamation of the identity. “Soy Xinca” — “I am Xinca” — has become the rallying cry under which Muñoz and others fight.

. . .

In response to the anti-mining movement in San Rafael, Tahoe hired firms run by U.S. and Israeli ex-special forces veterans to protect the project and lobbied the Guatemalan government to quash the resistance. Over the course of the 12-year conflict, mine opponents have been shot, imprisoned, and even killed.


How America overthrew Guatemala's reformist president

In June 1954 President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala became the first Latin American leader overthrown in a coup organised by the US government.

On taking power, President Arbenz had proposed land reforms that were considered a threat to the interests of the powerful United Fruit Company in Guatemala.

He was labelled a communist by Washington and the US company lobbied for his removal.

Witness History hears from Arbenz's son, who was seven at the time, about the devastating effect of the coup on his family.

Witness: The stories of our times told by the people who were there.

19 Jun 2019


Video at link, lasting 4 minutes 10 seconds, short comment by the son of the deposed non-Communist, beloved President of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz. I learned something I had never heard. Very goddamned sad.

Oldest Known Galactic Get-Together Occurred Shortly After Big Bang

By Mindy Weisberger 9 hours ago

Artist's impression of the merging galaxies, together forming the object B14-65666, located 13 billion light-years away.(Image: © National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)

Signals written in elements from the early universe have revealed the oldest known merger between two galaxies, taking place less than a billion years after the Big Bang.

Researchers recently turned to the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile to look for radio emissions from a distant but very bright star-forming galaxy known as B14-65666, located about 13 billion light-years from Earth. Prior observations in the ultraviolet spectrum by the Hubble Space Telescope hinted that the galaxy contained two "clumps" of stars, the northeastern "Clump A" and the southwestern "Clump B."

New observations using ALMA, a highly sensitive radio telescope, identified three distinctive signatures in each of the two clumps: those from carbon, oxygen and dust. (The three sources all produce distinctive signals in radio waves.) Such signals have never been found in a galaxy this old; variations between those signals told the scientists that B14-65666's dual clusters represented two galaxies that had merged before the universe was even a billion years old, the researchers reported in a new study. [15 Unforgettable Images of Stars]

Located in Chile's Atacama Desert, ALMA uses 66 ground-based antennas to detect some of the universe's coldest and most distant objects, scanning the skies with an "eye" that is 10 times sharper than Hubble's, according to the European Space Agency.


From coup leaders to con artists: Juan Guaid's gang exposed for massive humanitarian aid fraud

June 17, 2019
From coup leaders to con artists: Juan Guaidó’s gang exposed for massive humanitarian aid fraud

An explosive new report reveals how Guaidó representatives in Colombia embezzled $125,000 meant for humanitarian aid, suckering deserting soldiers and blowing the aid money on luxury goods.
By Dan Cohen

A new investigation has exposed members of Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó’s inner circle for embezzling tens of thousands of dollars designated for humanitarian aid and spending it on luxury goods and lavish accommodations for themselves. Guaidó had been aware of the fraud for weeks and stubbornly defended his cohorts until a leak from Colombian intelligence forced him to acknowledge the scandal.

The scandal unfolded this February, when Venezuelan opposition figures and their supporters descended upon the border town of Cúcuta, Colombia for what was billed as a Live Aid concert to raise millions of dollars for humanitarian aid for Venezuelans suffering the effects of an economic crisis.

The operation was supposed to have climaxed with a Live Aid concert hosted by billionaire Virgin Group founder Richard Branson while trucks full of US aid blasted across the Venezuelan border. Instead, as Branson gathered his performers on stage for a cringeworthy rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” opposition hooligans set fire to the truckloads of aid with molotov cocktails as they failed to reach the border.

Now, a report by the staunchly anti-Maduro PanAm Post editor-in-chief Orlando Avendaño has revealed a shocking scheme of fraud and embezzlement behind the aid imbroglio. According to Avendaño, Guaidó’s lieutenants embezzled huge sums of money that had been promised to Venezuelan soldiers who deserted their positions and snuck across to the Colombian side at Guaidó’s urging.

The cash that was used to entice desperate soldiers and would-be mercenaries to defect became a slush fund for the US-backed coup leader and his gaggle, who spent it lavishly on hotels, expensive dinners, nightclubs and designer clothes. As Guaidó’s gang lived the high life, he covered for their fraud, keeping his lips sealed until it was exposed through a leak by the Colombian intelligence services.


How Police Brutality Can Function as Terrorism

This was posted by two sources on Facebook:

8:00 A.M.
By Zak Cheney-Rice

Photo: @megoconnor13/twitter

Video was made public over the weekend showing Phoenix police officers threatening to shoot members of a black family, which included a child and a toddler. The incident occurred on May 27, when the 4-year-old daughter of Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper allegedly stole a doll from a Family Dollar store. (NPR reports that the child’s parents were unaware of the alleged theft.) Officers followed the family — Ames and Harper, who was pregnant, and their two daughters, ages 4 and 1 — to an apartment complex where the family’s babysitter lived. Officers are seen on cell-phone video shouting at the four to exit their vehicle. One is heard yelling, “Get your fucking hands up” and “I’m gonna put a fucking cap in you,” while another voice — perhaps of the same officer — is heard threatening, “You’re gonna get fucking shot.”

The profane tirades turn physical when one officer handcuffs Ames and another tries to yank the toddler from Harper’s arms. The officer with Ames shoves the 22-year-old father against a police vehicle, kicks his legs until Ames falls to one knee, and thrusts his elbow into Ames’s back. The officer with Harper is seen shouting and pointing in her face and pulling on the arm in which she is carrying her 1-year-old baby. He eventually permits the pregnant woman to hand her children to a bystander before arresting her. None of the family members is armed.

The confrontation has prompted a $10 million civil-rights lawsuit and apologies from Phoenix’s mayor and chief of police. According to the suit, the 1-year-old was injured when the officer tried to wrench her from her mother; the 4-year-old has been experiencing nightmares and wetting the bed out of distress ever since. As far as accountability, Mayor Kate Gallego has scheduled a public forum where residents can voice their concerns about the incident and called for quicker implementation of body cameras across the Phoenix Police Department — an odd solution given that visual evidence was not lacking here. Aside from that, it is possible that no further legal or administrative recourse will be forthcoming. Officers routinely skate for killing people. Why would black Phoenicians expect them to be held accountable for merely threatening to kill?

Official accountability aside, the fear and mistrust sown in black communities via such incidents and the resulting mental-health downsides are well documented. The Phoenix debacle is further evidence that many officers’ interactions with black children in particular are rooted in intimidation and violence, with far-reaching side effects. By most definitions, the brutality applied disproportionately against black people by police across the United States is not “terrorism,” in a technical sense, only because it is permitted by law. That said, it serves a similar end: ensuring that its targets and their communities live in a state of constant stress, mistrust, and fear, practically from the cradle to the grave.


The Latest Imperial Aberration; Preparing "Guaidos" for Cuba

June 18, 2019

By Oscar Sanchez Serra

Following such a failure in Venezuela you really have to be desperate to insist on creating leaders to oust governments. But the heads of the White House’s aberration team never seem to learn and now is intending to create another Guaido, this time in Cuba.

We heard about this plan thanks to the Twitter page of the Cuban Ambassador to the United States, Jose R. Cabañas. He wrote on the social media that, “while the U.S. Administration is strengthening measures of the blockade against Cuba, the State Department has announced a program to manufacture Cuban ‘Guaidos’. Don’t they read history?”

When it comes to Cuba it is apparent that they have either ignored it or not even looked at it and that is why the Cuban Revolution has seen 11 U.S. presidents pass by—all of them with the same idea and goal of destroying it—and certainly this one, the 45th in the history of U.S. will be number 12.

This new attempt is now public. Anyone interested on knowing the truth just has to enter the following URL on your browser: https://www2.fundsforngos.org/latest-funds-for-ngos/u-s-department-of-state-bureau-of-wha-announces-emerging-cuban-leaders-project/

There you will find, “The United States Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) has announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to support emerging individual Cuban leaders, particularly within civil society.”

According to the website, the purpose of the WHA-funded emerging Cuban leaders project is to allow the participants to establish themselves in Cuba with professional resources for grassroots efforts in democracy and human rights promotion and to further open communications across the island and internationally as well. The information explains that alumni of the project will have the tools to promote causes by attracting wider audiences, communicating messages effectively to other leaders and partners, and mobilizing independent actors within civil society to promote freedom of expression and assembly.

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