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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 147,250

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FARC to formally announce political party on September 1

written by Adriaan Alsema July 24, 2017

The FARC said Monday that it will have completed its transition from Marxist guerrilla group to political party on September 1, the day the demobilized rebels will announce the name of their party.

Over the past few days, demobilized guerrillas across the country have taken part in consults with the FARC leadership to come up with a name for the new party and an election program with which they will take part in the 2018 elections.

At a press conference, FARC leaders Luciano Marin, also known as “Ivan Marquez,” Luis Antonio Lozada, a.k.a. “Carlos Antonio Lozada” and Francy Maria Orrego, a.k.a. “Erika Montero” announced that the FARC has been holding internal consults to define their election program and the name of their political party.

. . .

The last time they tried to, in 1985 and under the banner of the Patriotic Union, thousands of party members and supporters of the FARC’s political participation were assassinated by paramilitary groups and state officials.


'Tail-Standing' Sperm Whales Snooze in Stunning Photo

By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | July 24, 2017 06:12am ET

- click for image -


A photographer recently snapped an image showing a group of whales sleeping vertically.
Credit: Franco Banfi/Solent News & Photo Agency

Sleeping dogs lie, but sleeping whales … "stand" on their tails? That was the scene recently glimpsed by a diver in the Caribbean, at least, when the photographer encountered a group of sperm whales napping together, all of them suspended tails-down in the water.

Photographer Franco Banfi was free diving — underwater diving without a breathing apparatus — on Jan. 28 off the coast of Dominica, an island in the Caribbean Sea between Martinique and Guadalupe, when he spied six still and silent sperm whales drifting in their upright postures at a depth of around 65 feet (20 meters).

Researchers first saw this unusual sleep behavior in sperm whales in 2008, describing it in a study published in January of that year in the journal Current Biology. The scientists in that study found that sperm whales dozed in this upright drifting posture for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time, and the whales did not breathe or move at all during their naps, the study authors reported. [Sleep Tight! Snoozing Animals Gallery]


Mexico murders up with deadliest month in at least 20 years

Christopher Sherman, Associated Press Updated 11:05 pm, Friday, July 21, 2017

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's spiraling violence reached new heights with 2,234 murders in June, the country's deadliest month in at least 20 years, according to government data.

Killings rose in states ranging from the tourist haven of Baja California Sur to the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and even in Mexico City, long considered a relative oasis from drug gang violence. For the first six months of 2017, authorities nationwide recorded 12,155 homicide investigations, or 31 percent more than the 9,300 during the same period last year.

Just Friday, the same day the report was released, a marine and four other people were killed when armed forces moved against the leader of the principal fuel-theft ring in the central state of Puebla.

Four of the dead were alleged members of "Los Bukanas," a violent gang that sells gasoline stolen through illegal taps in the government oil company's pipelines. It's a business that has been estimated to cost the government $1 billion annually and which has grown increasingly violent as authorities try to control it.


Mexico launches pioneering scheme to insure its coral reef

Hotels and local government in Cancún will pay premiums, and insurance industry will pay out if the reef is damaged by storms

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
Thursday 20 July 2017 11.25 EDT

A stretch of coral reef off Mexico is the testing ground for a new idea that could protect fragile environments around the world: insurance.

The reef, off the coast of Cancún, is the first to be protected under an insurance scheme by which the premiums will be paid by local hotels and government, and money to pay for the repair of the reef will be released if a storm strikes.

Coral reefs offer a valuable buffer against storm damage from waves but their condition has deteriorated in recent years, the result of human exploitation and destruction of the reefs, as well as climate change, plastic waste and the acidification of the oceans.

Under the Cancún insurance policy, pioneered by the insurance company Swiss Re and the Nature Conservancy, a US environmental charity, local organisations dependent on tourism will pay in to a collective pot likely to amount to between $1m (£770,000) and $7.5m for the insurance premiums on the policy, and a 40 mile (60km) stretch of reef and connected beach will be monitored. If any destructive storms damage the reef system, the insurer will pay out sums likely to be $25m to $70m in any given year.


Mexico City floating farms, chefs team up to save tradition

Lisa Martine Jenkins, Associated Press

Updated 11:37 pm, Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MEXICO CITY (AP) — At dawn in Xochimilco, home to Mexico City's famed floating gardens, farmers in muddied rain boots squat among rows of beets as a group of chefs arrive to sample sweet fennel and the pungent herb known as epazote.

By dinnertime some of those greens will be on plates at an elegant bistro 12 miles (20 kilometers) to the north, stewed with black beans in a $60 prix-fixe menu for well-heeled diners.

Call it floating-farm-to-table: A growing number of the capital's most in-demand restaurants are incorporating produce grown at the gardens, or chinampas, using ancient cultivation techniques pioneered hundreds of years ago in the pre-Columbian era.

While sourcing local ingredients has become fashionable for many top chefs around the globe, it takes on additional significance in Xochimilco (so-chee-MIL-co), where a project linking chinampa farmers with high-end eateries aims to breathe life and a bit of modernity into a fading and threatened tradition.


(18 photos with article.)

How the dark webs gunrunners covertly ship US weapons to Europe

20 July 2017

By Timothy Revell

After a mass shooting at a McDonald’s in Munich in 2016, authorities said that the gunman probably purchased his weapon on the dark web. But this was just speculation, as very little is actually known about the sale of weapons on anonymous marketplaces in this subset of the internet.

Now, a report published by the RAND Corporation provides the first detailed glimpse into this hidden world. It is “a good overview of the current situation”, says Julio Hernandez-Castro at the University of Kent.

The report reveals an alarming pattern: the majority of vendors are based in the US and are willing to ship worldwide, with Europe the biggest source of profit. Lax gun laws in the US are undermining stricter rules elsewhere.

And while absolute numbers are still small – accounting for less than 1 per cent of items sold on the dark web – capabilities go far beyond simply putting a gun in the mail. From manuals on how to create explosives to detailed instructions on how to disassemble and ship a gun to various overseas destinations, the information and technology available to purchase is well-placed to facilitate lone-wolf attacks.

Anonymous marketplaces
The dark web is a subset of the internet that requires specific software to access so that users can remain anonymous. Not all of the items for sale in dark web marketplaces are illegal, but the promise of anonymity makes it easier to subvert the law. “It could revolutionise how normal people purchase firearms. It’s a game changer,” says Giacomo Persi Paoli, lead author of the report.


Salem Memorializes Those Killed During Witch Trials

July 19, 20176:01 PM ET

The city of Salem, Mass., has opened a memorial to commemorate the people who were convicted and killed during its notorious series of "witch trials" in 1692.

The memorial stands at the site where 19 innocent women and men were hanged in a series of mass executions. According to the city, the memorial opened on the 325th anniversary of the first of three mass executions at the site, when five women were killed: Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Wildes.

Andrea Shea of member station WBUR attended the ceremony at Proctor's Ledge, and said Salem residents and descendants of those killed gathered to pay their respects.

"We should not be here today. We should not be here dedicating this memorial and setting aside this small patch of rocky earth," the Rev. Jeffrey Barz-Snell of the First Church in Salem told the assembled crowd, Shea reported. "We should not be here commemorating the heartbreaking and tragic loss of life, people who were falsely and unjustly accused of being in the snare of the devil."


Corporate Media Largely Silent on Trumps Civilian Death Toll in Iraq

JULY 19, 2017


Earlier this week, human rights group Amnesty International issued a lengthy report accusing US-backed forces of “repeated violations of international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to war crimes,” in Mosul, Iraq, causing the deaths of at least 3,700 civilians. Neither this report, nor the broader issue of the civilian toll in the US war against ISIS, has come close to penetrating US corporate media.

The only major radio or television outlet to report on Amnesty’s claims was NPR (7/12/17). While traditional print outlets, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, did run Reuters (7/11/17) and AP(7/12/17) articles, respectively, on the report, neither covered it themselves. Neither Amnesty’s charges, nor the broader issue of civilian deaths in Mosul, garnered any coverage in television news, with no mention on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or MSNBC.

The expulsion of ISIS from Mosul by the US-led coalition did receive coverage, but the US role in killing civilians was uniformly ignored.

CBS News’ reports (6/25/17, 7/4/17, 7/9/17) made no mention of US responsibility for civilian deaths, referring only vaguely to “a rising civilian death toll” and “whole neighborhoods” that “cease to exist.” The role of US bombing role in that rising death toll or those no-longer-existing neighborhoods was never mentioned.


Castro's casa: social work lessons from Cuba

Social workers defy poverty, foster social justice and prevent social problems leading to poor health by supporting the oldest population in Latin America

Rory Truell
Tuesday 18 July 2017 06.46 EDT

In a street of salmon and teal painted houses, once home to wealthy colonial administrators, sits the Casa del Abuelo. Now a community centre providing free day services for older inhabitants of the neighbourhood, Casa del Abuelo – or home for grandparents – was the first of many such facilities set up by Fidel Castro during a wave of social reforms to provide care and support for ordinary Cubans after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US economic blockade crippled the country’s economy.

The warm pastel colours of the building and Cuban flag fluttering in the humid Caribbean breeze accord well with the gentle kindheartedness I found inside.

Julio, an 89-year-old member, clasped my hand as she showed me around the converted colonial mansion. She explained that each day in this community-led enterprise starts with breakfast and a discussion about politics.

After this, it is exercise classes. “The key to long life is an active mind and body,” she said. She then showed me the occupational therapy facilities and crafts that members make daily. “The men don’t do this though,” she said with a smile. “They prefer checkers – they think it’s more manly.”


Every Year, the Sky Rains Fish. Explanations Vary.

Leer en español

JULY 16, 2017

La Unión, a small rural community in Honduras, where residents report an annual “rain fish” and where, four days
before, locals recovered silver sardines that had supposedly fallen from the sky. Credit Adriana Zehbrauskas for
The New York Times

YORO, Honduras — Things don’t come easy in La Unión, a small community on the periphery of Yoro, a farming town in north-central Honduras.

Poverty is universal, jobs are scarce, large families are crammed into mud-brick homes and meals often are constituted of little more than the subsistence crops residents grow — mainly corn and beans.

But every once in a while an amazing thing happens, something that makes the residents of La Unión feel pretty special.

The skies, they say, rain fish.

It happens every year — at least once and often more, residents say — during the late spring and early summer. And only under specific conditions: a torrential downpour, thunder and lightning, conditions so intense that nobody dares to go outside.

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