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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 147,298

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Private Prison Corporation Geo Group Expands Its Stable of Former Top Federal Officials

Weekend Edition July 25-27, 2014
Meet Julie Myers Wood

Private Prison Corporation Geo Group Expands Its Stable of Former Top Federal Officials


Two weeks ago the private prison corporation Geo Group added yet another former government official to its inner circle. On July 2 Geo Group’s management voted unanimously to expand their board of directors to seven seats, adding Julie Myers Wood. From 2006 to 2008 Wood was the Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Wood is now the second member of Geo Group’s inner circle to have been employed by ICE. Geo Group’s executive vice president for corporate development, David Venturella, was an executive within ICE for 22 years before joining Geo Group in 2012.

Of course ICE is a major customer of Geo Group. Geo Group’s federal prison contracting began in 1987 when ICE signed a deal with the company to build and operate an immigrant prison in Colorado called the Aurora ICE Processing Center. Later this year Geo Group will open a new 400 bed immigrant “transfer center” in Louisiana. ICE will pay Geo Group $8.5 million a year to hold detainees in this prison.

Some might remember Julie Myers Wood for presiding over an infamous Halloween costume party at ICE’s Washington D.C. headquarters in 2007. Some ICE employees dressed up as immigrant fugitives. Wood awarded the best costume prize to an ICE employee who donned a dread lock wig and blackface paint, explaining to amused colleagues that he was a Jamaican detainee who had escaped from ICE’s Krome prison near Miami. Wood was accused by the House Committee on Homeland Security of exercising “poor judgement” when she rewarded the employee for the costume, and also of covering up the incident afterward when she ordered the deletion of pictures. The pictures included a photo of her smiling next to the make-believe Jamaican immigrant prisoner. (The pictures were later recovered.)

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Colombia’s largest paramilitary ‘landgrabber’ captured in Venezuela: govt

Colombia’s largest paramilitary ‘landgrabber’ captured in Venezuela: govt
Jul 24, 2014 posted by Nicolas Bedoya

Colombian authorities announced on Thursday that Venezuela captured former AUC paramilitary commander Omar Montero Martinez, alias “Codazzi,” who is accused of stealing up to 25,000 acres from farmers in northern Colombia.


Codazzi was part of the “Bloque Norte” of the paramilitary umbrella organization, AUC. Codazzi was a close confidant of alias “Jorge 40,” commander of the “Bloque Norte.”

Codazzi has 18 warrants for his arrest for the crimes of forced disappearances, homicide, recruitment of children, robbery, and displacement. He was sentenced to 39 year in jail for the homicide of a lawyer in 2003.

Codazzi also allegedly participated in six massacres in 2001 and 2002. In one particular event, 47 fisherman were brutally murdered in a hail of gunfire and machetes. Jorge 40 was sentenced to 47 years in prison for ordering the massacre, but will only serve eight years since he is enrolled in the Justice and Peace Law.

Accion Social conducted a study that documented over 36,000 displaced people in the area where Codazzi operated, according to the Colombian show “Fugitivos.” Much of the territory Codazzi seized is now in the hands of third parties and plantations of palm trees.




Peru now has a ‘licence to kill’ environmental protesters

Peru now has a ‘licence to kill’ environmental protesters

Law exempts soldiers and police from criminal responsibility if they cause injuries or deaths

Posted by
David Hill

Sunday 29 June 2014 12.46 EDT

Some of the recent media coverage about the fact that more than 50 people in Peru – the vast majority of them indigenous – are on trial following protests and fatal conflict in the Amazon over five years ago missed a crucial point. Yes, the hearings are finally going ahead and the charges are widely held to be trumped-up, but what about the government functionaries who apparently gave the riot police the order to attack the protestors, the police themselves, and – following Wikileaks’ revelations of cables in which the US ambassador in Lima criticized the Peruvian government’s “reluctance to use force” and wrote there could be “implications for the recently implemented Peru-US FTA” if the protests continued – the role of the US government?

The conflict broke out in northern Peru after mainly indigenous Awajúns and Wampis had been peacefully protesting a series of new laws which were supposedly emitted to comply with a trade agreement between Peru and the US and which made it easier, among other things, for extractive industries to exploit natural resources in their territories. Following a blockade of a highway near a town called Bagua – and an agreement that the protestors would break up and go home, reached the day before – early on 5 June the police moved to clear it and started shooting. In the ensuing conflict, 10 police officers, five indigenous people and five non-indigenous civilians were killed, more than 200 injured – at least 80 of whom were shot – and, elsewhere in the Bagua region, a further 11 police officers were killed after being taken hostage.

“So far only protesters have been brought to trial,” said Amnesty International in a statement marking five years since the conflict and pointing out that human rights lawyers have said there is no serious evidence linking the accused to the crimes they are being prosecuted for – which include homicide and rebellion. “[S]o far little progress has been made to determine the responsibility of the security forces. Likewise, no progress has been made to investigate the political authorities who gave the orders to launch the police operation.”

Does this desperate failure of justice not effectively constitute a “licence to kill” for the police? Maybe, maybe not, but whatever the answer Peru has now formalised that licence by emitting a law that, as the Dublin-based NGO Front Line Defenders (FLD) puts it, grants:

. . . members of the armed forces and the national police exemption from criminal responsibility if they cause injury or death, including through the use of guns or other weapons, while on duty. Human rights groups, both nationally and internationally, the Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensoria del Pueblo) as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights all expressed deep concern about the law. In the words of the [Lima-based] Instituto Libertad y Democracia [IDL], the law equates, in practice, to a “licence to kill.”


Court throws out Chiquita terror payment claims

Source: Associated Press

Court throws out Chiquita terror payment claims
| July 24, 2014 | Updated: July 24, 2014 2:37pm

MIAMI (AP) — A divided federal appeals court on Thursday threw out claims against produce giant Chiquita Brands International made by relatives of thousands of Colombians killed during years of bloody civil war.

A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that federal courts have no jurisdiction over the Colombian claims. The lawsuits accused Chiquita of assisting in the killings by paying $1.7 million to a violent right-wing paramilitary group known as the AUC, the Spanish acronym for United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

Chiquita, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, formerly operated large banana plantations in Colombia through its Banadex subsidiary. Chiquita insists it was the victim of extortion and was forced to pay the AUC or face violence directed at its employees and assets in Colombia.

The majority cited a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum that imposed limits on attempts by foreigners to use U.S. courts to seek damages against corporations for human rights abuses abroad. Chiquita had insisted that ruling meant the Colombians' lawsuit had to be tossed out.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Court-throws-out-Chiquita-terror-payment-claims-5644479.php

Cuba looks to mangroves to fend off rising seas

Cuba looks to mangroves to fend off rising seas
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press | July 23, 2014 | Updated: July 23, 2014 11:05pm

HAVANA (AP) — Many people in this tiny hamlet on the southern coast of Cuba remember when the shore lay about 100 meters (yards) farther out. That was four decades ago.

Since then, rising waters have gradually swallowed up rustic homes, a narrow highway that once paralleled the coast, even an old military tank that people now use to measure the sea's yearly advance.

"There was a road there," said Jose Manuel Herrera, 42, a fisherman and former charcoal harvester, pointing toward the gentle waves. "You could travel from here all the way to Mayabeque."

Worried by forecasts of rising seas from climate change, the effects of hurricanes and the salinization of farmlands, authorities say they are beginning a forced march to repair Cuba's first line of defense against the advancing waters — its mangrove thickets, which have been damaged by decades of neglect and uncontrolled logging.

In the second half of 2013, a moratorium was declared on mangrove logging. Now, the final touches are being put on a sustainable management master plan that is expected to be in place before the end of the year. President Raul Castro has said the plan is a top priority.


Venezuelan Network Telesur Expands Into English

Venezuelan Network Telesur Expands Into English
CARACAS, Venezuela — Jul 23, 2014, 7:39 PM ET
Associated Press

The Spanish-language television network started by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a vehicle for promoting in Latin America his leftist brand of political change will now reach audiences in English.

Under the motto "Don't resign yourself to having just one side of the story," Telesur has unveiled a news website that will serve as a hub for multimedia programming in English from correspondents and pundits across Latin America and the United States.

The website goes live Thursday to coincide with the ninth anniversary of Telesur's launch and the celebration of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar's birthday.

The network hired about 100 native English-speaking journalists and producers for the launch. Many are based in Quito, Ecuador, where a studio was built to produce the bulk of English-language programming.


(Short article, no more at link.)


10 Colombia Senators ‘inherit’ votes from jailed ex-Senators

10 Colombia Senators ‘inherit’ votes from jailed ex-Senators
Jul 23, 2014 posted by Daniel Medendorp Escobar

Colombia’s recently inaugurated Senate will bring a new dynamic to national politics, though not necessary a new face to its politicians.

The arrival of former President Alvaro Uribe and his Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) party on the scene means a new right-wing opposition set to join the changed face of the leftist opposition, which now includes figures like Claudia Lopez and Ivan Cepeda.

Despite these developments, the shadow of corruption still looms large over Congress, after over 10% of the previous Congress was dismissed on charges including vote buying, nepotism, and links to illegal armed groups. Indeed, in this Senate, a number of politicians have direct family ties to members convicted on related charges.

MORE: 10% of Colombia’s 2010-2014 Congress kicked out of office

Of the 102 senators now starting their terms, 10 “inherited” votes, political structures, and support from jailed family members. In the vast majority of cases, the individuals in question were jailed for so-called parapolitics, political coordination with paramilitary death squads.


Judicial harassment of journalists and social communicators

Judicial harassment of journalists and social communicators
Published on Tuesday 22 July 2014.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the judicial harassment of 36 members of the Honduran Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH), who are being tried on sedition charges in the southwestern department of Intibucá.

The defendants include Radio Progreso reporter Albertina Manueles Peréz and the reporters of several community radio stations that are COPINH members. These “social communicators” are being persecuted for reporting the claims of the mainly indigenous population of the town of San Francisco de Opalaca that its current mayor, José Socorro Sánchez, was elected fraudulently.

At a hearing on 24 June, the Intibucá departmental court placed all the defendants under judicial control after the prosecutor accused them of “sedition against the internal security of the state of Honduras and usurping functions.” The next hearing is set for today.

“This judicial harassment of ‘social communicators’ and civil society organizations is indicative of a desire on the part of the authorities to restrict free speech,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.

“We call for the withdrawal of all the charges in this case and we point out that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has asked the Honduran authorities to guarantee the protection of some of the defendants.”


How the Mexican Drug Trade Thrives on Free Trade

How the Mexican Drug Trade Thrives on Free Trade

While President Peña Nieto celebrates the Aztec Tiger, Mexico’s cartels reach deeper into the legal economy.
Christy Thornton and Adam Goodman July 15, 2014

Since 2006, more than 100,000 people have been disappeared or killed in Mexico, a country where more than 90 percent of crimes go unpunished. While running for president in 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto promised a new security strategy for the country, and an end to the highly militarized campaign waged by his predecessor, Felipe Calderón. Since taking office, however, Peña Nieto’s strategy has focused not on the safety of its people but on the confidence of its international investors. To make Mexico more attractive to overseas capital, he has pursued a market-based reform agenda that includes a technocratic overhaul of education, a move to shake up the telecommunications sector and the opening of the energy sector to foreign private investment. New narratives about the “Aztec Tiger” won’t make the kidnappings, beheadings and mass graves disappear, but Peña Nieto is doing everything he can to make foreign investors forget about them.

The irony of touting market-based reforms as a means of sweeping the drug trade under the rug is that the cartels themselves have become some of the most ruthlessly effective multinational capitalist enterprises in Mexico. The cartels are beginning to diversify, making money not just from drugs and other criminal activities like kidnapping and human trafficking but increasingly from control over industries like mining, logging and shipping.

Meanwhile, finance and real estate sectors in Mexico and the United States are awash with cartel profits, with one United Nations analyst arguing that drug money was the “only liquid investment capital” that kept the international economy from completely imploding in 2008. Over the last few decades Mexican capitalism has become a tangled web of legal and illegal activity, and the distinctions between licit and illicit economies have become increasingly blurred. The policies of the Mexican and US governments are only accelerating this trend.

There are two separate but deeply connected histories that have created the situation in Mexico today: first, the neoliberal restructuring of the economy that began in the 1980s; and second, the rise of the drug trade and the cartels that control it. Squarely at the center of both stories has been the Mexican state, whose corruption, incompetence and often contradictory policy choices (in tandem with those of the United States) have served to create vast sums of wealth for a few, while heightening insecurity for Mexico’s working people. When we talk about the drug trade, we are talking about a deeply entrenched part of contemporary capitalism in Mexico, not its undoing.


Across Latin America, a Struggle for Communal Land and Indigenous Autonomy

Across Latin America, a Struggle for Communal Land and Indigenous Autonomy
Sunday, 20 July 2014 00:00
By Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F., Truthout | News Analysis

Communal Land and Autonomy

Entering into the heart of indigenous communities in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, land of the Mixtecs and the Zapotecs, is like opening a door to a world of shapes, textures, colors and flavors that contrasts with the Western culture that governs daily life in big cities and westernized families. These indigenous communities are strongly tied to the mountains, to the smell of coffee that mixes with the smell of pines and the fragrance of flowers, to the legends that are woven by looms into clothing. All this takes place in lands that cannot be bought or owned.

If poetry, legends, clothing and food are the ways in which the ancestral culture of the indigenous Oaxacans is materialized and maintained, then "uses and customs" is the living expression of the political system of these communities, which has maintained its legitimacy historically, like any other state system. Of the 570 municipalities in the state of Oaxaca, 418 are governed through the traditional form of political organization of "uses and customs." Only 152 have adopted a conventional system using political parties, a striking reality that is not just relevant in Mexico but in all of Latin America.

As an example, Bolivia is the country with the largest indigenous population in Latin America; according to the UN, 62 percent of Bolivians are part of an indigenous group. Only 11 local governments, however, are recognized as autonomous, with the right to elect their authorities through their own "uses and customs" system.

Oaxaca, one of Mexico's 31 states, has the country's highest level of diversity as well as the largest indigenous population. Of the 3.5 million inhabitants in the state, according to official statistics, more than one-third of the population is of indigenous origin (1,165,186 individuals). However, it wasn't until 1995 that all the municipalities' normative systems of "uses and customs" were legally recognized in Oaxaca's state congress.

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