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Judi Lynn

Judi Lynn's Journal
Judi Lynn's Journal
June 16, 2020

Trump Hammers Cuba While Cuba Cures the Sick Worldwide

Published on
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
by Common Dreams

So great is the admiration for Cuban doctors that a global campaign has sprung up to award them the Nobel Peace Prize.

by Medea Benjamin, Leonardo Flores

A team of 85 Cuban doctors and nurses arrived in Peru on June 3 to help the Andean nation tackle the coronavirus pandemic. That same day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced another tightening of the sanctions screws. This time he targeted seven Cuban entities, including Fincimex, one of the principal financial institutions handling remittances to the country. Also targeted was Marriott International, which was ordered to cease operations in Cuba, and other companies in the tourism sector, an industry that constitutes 10 percent of Cuba’s GDP and has been devastated globally by the pandemic.

It seems that the more Cuba helps the world, the more it gets hammered by the Trump administration. While Cuba has endured a U.S. embargo for nearly 60 years, Trump has revved up the stakes with a “maximum pressure” strategy that includes more than 90 economic measures placed against the nation since January 2019. Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s ambassador to Canada, called the measures “unprecedented in their level of aggression and scope” and designed to “deprive the country of income for the development of the economy.” Since its inception, the embargo has cost Cuba well over $130 billion dollars, according to a 2018 estimate. In 2018-2019 alone, the economic impact was $4 billion, a figure that does not include the impact of a June 2019 Trump administration travel ban aimed at harming the tourist industry.

While the embargo is supposed to have humanitarian exemptions, the health sector has not been spared. Cuba is known worldwide for its universal public healthcare system, but the embargo has led to shortages of medicines and medical supplies, particularly for patients with AIDS and cancer. Doctors at Cuba’s National Institute of Oncology have had to amputate the lower limbs of children with cancer because the American companies that have a monopoly on the technology can't sell it to Cuba. In the midst of the pandemic, the U.S. blocked a donation of facemasks and COVID-19 diagnostic kits from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma.

Not content to sabotage Cuba’s domestic health sector, the Trump administration has been attacking Cuba’s international medical assistance, from the teams fighting coronavirus today to those who have travelled all over the world since the 1960’s providing services to underserved communities in 164 countries. The U.S. goal is to cut the island’s income now that the provision of these services has surpassed tourism as Cuba’s number one source of revenue. Labeling these volunteer medical teams “victims of human trafficking” because part of their salaries goes to pay for Cuba’s healthcare system, the Trump administration convinced Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil to end their cooperation agreements with Cuban doctors. Pompeo then applauded the leaders of these countries for refusing “to turn a blind eye” to Cuba’s alleged abuses. The triumphalism was short lived: a month after that quote, the Bolsonaro government in Brazil begged Cuba to resend its doctors amid the pandemic. U.S. allies all over the world, including in Qatar, Kuwait, South Africa, Italy, Honduras and Peru have gratefully accepted this Cuban aid. So great is the admiration for Cuban doctors that a global campaign has sprung up to award them the Nobel Peace Prize.


June 12, 2020

Archaeologists Discovered a Paleolithic Bird Figurine in a Rubbish Heap. Turns Out It's the Oldest 3

Archaeologists Discovered a Paleolithic Bird Figurine in a Rubbish Heap. Turns Out It’s the Oldest 3D Chinese Art in the World
Archaeologists believe the tiny bird suggests that the Chinese began creating art independently of other civilizations.

Sarah Cascone, June 11, 2020

A miniature bird figurine discovered at Lingjing (Henan Province, China), dated to 13,500 years ago, is now the oldest-known example of Chinese art. Photo courtesy of Francesco d’Errico and Luc Doyon.

Archaeologists have discovered what appears to be the oldest known example of three-dimensional East Asian art in a rubbish pile excavated in Lingjing, Henan, China. The ancient Paleolithic bird figurine, carved from a blackened bone, dates to 13,500 years ago, according to radiocarbon testing.

The critical find potentially changes our understanding of ancient Chinese civilization and suggests that art arose there independently of other parts of the world. (Although sculpture dates back some 35,000 years in Europe, ancient art from the region differs significantly from the newly discovered bird form, suggesting it developed separately.) The research team, led by Zhanyang Li of Shandong University, revealed their discovery in a study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

“It pushes back the origin of avian representations in Chinese art by 8,500 years and identifies a potential link between Chinese Neolithic art and its Palaeolithic origins,” the study’s co-author Luc Doyon, of the University of Montreal, told Courthouse News. “We were definitely struck by this technological feat and by the beauty of the object.”

Anthropologists note that the embrace of symbolic thought, beyond the basic survival needs of a people, leads to the creation of art, which is an important factor in the development of a culture.


June 12, 2020

Human Nature

By Eleanor Finley, originally published by Uneven Earth
June 11, 2020

What is “human nature”? How can we make sense of human beings as creatures which are part of the natural world? What makes our species distinct from others? People have been asking ourselves these kinds of questions for millennia. Aristotle, the classic Greek philosopher and harbinger of modern biology, famously characterized human beings as zoon politikon, a political animal that can deliberate collectively upon what should be in the world. Since the Industrial Revolution, it has become popular to define human beings in economic terms. So-called “man the toolmaker” alters his physical environment to suit his purposes. Yet, as we shall see, Aristotle’s ancient idea still resonates with much of what the science says about the human species today.

Anthropologists are scientists who study the human species from a holistic perspective, taking into account our biology, language, material culture (archaeology), social systems, and everyday life. Over the course of a century, anthropologists have amassed first-hand accounts of human societies from all over the world. We call this “ethnographic record”. The ethnographic record shows that within broad realms of “universals” like family and friendship, spirituality or religion, play and sports, politics, and production, the range of possibilities are endless. For this reason, anthropologists have long ceased trying to define “human nature” and instead focus on exploring the human potential. In other words, there is no single “human nature” or blueprint for organizing human life.

The idea of “human nature” nonetheless remains deeply lodged in our popular imagination about good and evil. Most often, people invoke the notion to justify an evil act or system of injustice. It is supposedly “human nature” to be greedy, for instance, or to exploit others. Although on the surface these expressions appear politically neutral, they are tautologies: “explanations” that merely repeat themselves. Why did men rape women, children, and other men? Why, because it was supposedly in their male nature to do so! Yet hardly explains why some men choose to rape and others don’t. It is equally in men’s capacity not to rape, so why bother blaming “nature” at all? Below the surface, statements about what is “natural” are really expressions about what we see as morally permissible. We invoke “human nature” as if to say, “These things will never change so don’t even try”.

The debate about “human nature” is really a veiled way of talking about good and evil. To question the good of humankind is to question whether it is ethical to respect others. If we decide humans are bad, then we don’t feel bad treating them badly.

June 12, 2020

Distortions and Attempts to Undermine the Cuban Medical Brigades Will Not Succeed

by Bill Hackwell / June 11th, 2020

Every evening for the past two and a half months the people of Cuba have come out on their streets and porches to applaud and cheer for the 3,000 members of the Henry Reeve medical brigades who are fighting the Covid-19 pandemic on the front lines in 28 countries with 34 brigades. For the Cuban people these medical professionals are not just doctors going abroad but representatives of a society where health and human life are considered an absolute priority.

After two and a half months the first brigade that had been in Lombardy, Italy returned home and were met at the airport by President Diaz Canel via a video conference who told them, “With your noble gesture and your brave disposition to defy death to save lives, you have shown the world a truth that Cuba’s enemies have tried to silence or misrepresent: the strength of Cuban medicine! You represent the victory of life over death, of solidarity over selfishness.”

In the last 55 years, 600,000 Cubans have provided medical services in 160 countries and that entire time the US State Department has done everything in its array of dirty tactics to discredit them and undermine their purpose of administering health to poor people most especially in Latin America. This included the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program (CMPP) from 2009 to 2017 whose whole reason to exist was to lure Cuban doctors away from their mission with promises of passage to the US where there would be green cards and lucrative jobs waiting. It never stops. Last year the Agency for International Development (USAID), the agency that provides funds for subversion programs against Cuba, allocated $3 million specifically for projects directed against the medical brigades abroad.

The example of Cuba’s model of health care for all and sharing that view with the world sends the US and the champions of neo-liberalism into some kind of frenzy. It is the antithesis of the US model of health that excludes millions and sends others into bankruptcy to pay doctor and hospital bills. Imagine a model like that minus the parasitic insurance corporations and pharmaceutical giants who want to control all medicine and legally sell it at any price they wish. It is no wonder they will stoop to any depth to smash the prestige that Cuba maintains with the world. Can anyone think of just one sustained humanitarian mission made by the US that did not have strings attached?


June 12, 2020

Chile: Police-Involved In Force Misuse Scandal

This is not the first time Chile police "Carabineros" are embroiled in controversy due to force misuse. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 June 2020 (6 hours 57 minutes ago

A man is bedridden in the hospital after a cop shot him in the head with a gas bomb gun.

Chilean Police (Carabineros) seriously wounded a man during protests demanding government aid amidst coronavirus pandemic crisis, according to a statement released by the victim family on Thursday.

Manuel Flores Osorio was shot in the head by a policeman when he was at his house surroundings in the Villa Francia neighborhood. The shot, triggered by an officer, strongly impacted in Osorio's forehead, causing severe damage. According to the statement, the fragments penetrated his skull and lodged in his brain

"He was with two friends when riots began(...)Then pepper gas and water cannons arrived and a patrol stopped next to my uncle, a policeman got off the car and triggered his gas bomb shotgun straight to his head," niece Alida Illanes related.


~ ~ ~

Beaten, mutilated and forced to undress: Inside Chile’s brutal police crackdown against protesters
Security forces have deliberately shot demonstrators in the eyes and forced those arrested to strip naked. Some of those affected tell Naomi Larsson

Sunday 26 January 2020 13:15

Breathing air thick with teargas and smoke from makeshift barricades on Valparaiso’s street corners, Carla Casoni remembers feeling her skin and eyes burn with the chemical-infused water used as a common police tactic to disperse demonstrators.

“I lost vision temporarily so I was an easy target for the police,” she says. Casoni is one of nearly 30,000 people who have been detained, many arbitrarily, in more than two months of unrest that has swept across Chile.

Just days before Casoni’s detention in the port city on 22 October, Chile had imploded into a social uprising initially sparked by a student protest over metro fare hikes in Santiago. People across the country have since mobilised against economic and social inequality, engaging in mostly peaceful but sometimes violent protests.

Over the weeks, protests have been met with state repression. Soon after the unrest began, President Sebastian Pinera sent military to the streets and issued a curfew, declaring authorities “are at war”. In the following two months, security forces have been accused by rights groups of brutality and a series of human rights abuses, including torture and sexual violence.

Casoni tells The Independent she was beaten by Chile’s Carabineros, the militarised police force, during a protest in the port city. She was with demonstrators who had blocked Avenida Errazuriz, a main thoroughfare in Valparaiso, when a Carabinero pinned her to a tree and hit her legs and back with a baton. She claims she was hit again while she looked for her documents and ID card, and again on the way to the police vehicle.

June 11, 2020

Important to remember: The Confederacy Made Its Last Stand in Brazil


After the Civil War, more than 10,000 Southerners left the U.S. rather than submit to Yankee rule.

By the time the Civil War ended in 1865, much of the South lay in ruins, physically, economically and socially. Fears of Yankee reprisals and racial conflict percolated through society. Black slaves had been freed; Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned. For William H. Norris, a former Alabama state senator and staunch Confederate, it was all too much to bear.

Rather than rejoin the United States, he and a son traveled to southeastern Brazil in late 1865 and purchased about 500 acres of rolling hills and reddish soil that reminded them of Alabama. They then bought three slaves, planted cotton, sent for the rest of the family and proceeded to live as if the Confederacy hadn’t just collapsed.

The Norris family was not alone in their desire to avoid Yankee rule. In the decade after the Civil War, roughly 10,000 Southerners left the United States, with the majority going to Brazil, where slavery was still legal. (Others went to such places as Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Honduras, Canada and Egypt.) Though hardships prompted most to come right back, descendants of these so-called Confederados maintain a presence in Brazil even today.

Amid the post-Civil War chaos, several countries tried to entice Southerners, largely for political and agricultural reasons. In Mexico, for example, Emperor Maximilian I (soon to be executed before a firing squad) awarded land and tax breaks and hired Confederate oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury to be his “imperial commissioner of immigration.” In Venezuela, the authorities also provided land and tax breaks. And in Egypt, an Ottoman viceroy brought over ex-Confederate and ex-Union officers to help invade Ethiopia.

The best incentives, however, came from Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro II, a Confederate ally who had sheltered and supplied Southern ships during the Civil War. He offered land to the Confederados for as little as 22 cents an acre, subsidized their transport to Brazil, provided temporary lodging upon arrival, promised them quick citizenship and, at times, even personally greeted them as they disembarked.


June 11, 2020

Coronavirus parties highlight Brazil's fractured approach to pandemic

A doctor was savagely beaten when she objected to one of the many shindigs taking place in defiance of health experts’ advice

Caio Barretto Briso and Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

Tue 9 Jun 2020 07.42 EDT

For weeks, the booze-soaked, coronavirus-themed parties had raged over the road from Ticyana Azambuja’s home in Rio de Janeiro, until finally she snapped.

She picked up a hammer, marched across the street and used it to smash the rear windshield and Union Jack-patterned wing mirror of a reveller’s car.

“I just wanted them to come out and listen to me. I’d pay to fix the car, but they needed to understand how ridiculous it was to be throwing those parties day and night … right in the middle of a pandemic,” the 35-year-old said.

Azambuja’s moment of fury was understandable, if illegal: an anaesthetist, she has spent the last three months battling to save lives on the frontline of Brazil’s fight against Covid-19 – even catching the disease herself.


Also posted in Editorials and other articles:

June 11, 2020

Chile's women's minister, Pinochet's great-niece, resigns following backlash

Macarena Santelices oversaw a string of controversial decisions, prompting #WeDoNotHaveAMinister to trend

Charis McGowan in Santiago

Tue 9 Jun 2020 15.03 EDT

Chile’s women and gender minister, a great-niece of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, has resigned after just a month following a furious backlash to her appointment and a string of misssteps in office.

Macarena Santelices stood down on Tuesday, tweeting: “The day it is understood that women’s rights are not political – that they belong to all and for all – we can move forward.”

Before she was named minister in May, Santelices, had spoken positively of the “good side” of Pinochet’s regime, under which thousands of women were subjected to torture and almost all female political prisoners endured sexual violence.

Once in office, she oversaw a string of controversial decisions, prompting the hashtag #WeDoNotHaveAMinister to trend in Chile.

June 11, 2020

Outrage as Guatemalan Maya spiritual guide is tortured and burned alive

  • Domingo Choc Che’s final moments captured on video
  • Four suspects held after attack on indigenous elder

    Jeff Abbott in Guatemala City

    Wed 10 Jun 2020 05.14 EDT

    Police in Guatemala have arrested two men and two women on suspicion of murder after a respected indigenous Maya spiritual guide was tortured, doused in gasoline and burned to death after being accused of witchcraft.

    Domingo Choc Che, 55, an expert on traditional herbal medicine who had worked with researchers from University College London, was seized from his home in the village of Chimay on Saturday night by a group of people.

    The abductors accused him of carrying out a ceremony on a family grave and tortured and beat him for more than 10 hours before setting him alight on Sunday morning, according to a local prosecutor. Three other suspects remain at large.

    A widely shared video of his final moments shows Choc Che running in flames and begging for help before collapsing. Nobody comes to his assistance.

    . . .

    The 1996 peace accords for the first time recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditions and spirituality. But persecution continues against those who practice Maya spiritualism, which is often referred to as “witchcraft” by conservative Christian religious groups.


  • June 10, 2020

    Brazil: New Arrests in Relation to Marielle Franco's Murder

    Published 10 June 2020

    The Public Prosecution Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro (MPRJ) Wednesday ordered the arrest of firefighter Maxwell Simoes Correa who has been accused of being involved in the murder of the Socialist councilor Marielle Franco and her driver on March 14, 2018.

    According to police investigations, Correa and four other people were denounced for trying to hide the weapons used in the crime with clear political motives. Correia is a friend of police officer Ronnie Lessa, who is in prison accused of being the direct executor of the murders.

    Since 2018, Franco's murder has generated shock in Brazil because she was leading a citizen investigation against the extrajudicial killings by police and paramilitaries, a type of illegal activity that has been historically related to the far-right in this South American country.

    “So far four suspects have been arrested for the murder, all with ties to state security forces, and two of them with links to the family of recently elected right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro,” the Working Class History (WCH) web page recalled on March 14, 2019.

    "Bolsonaro, glorifying dictatorship, the torture state and extrajudicial violence by police and paramilitaries rose that crest to power and in turn it is what continues to keep him there," Georgetown University Professor Ananya Chakravarti tweeted, adding that "Franco bore the brunt of the backlash for her fight against racist police brutality."


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