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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Congress president apologizes for lawmakers’ ties to paramilitary group

Congress president apologizes for lawmakers’ ties to paramilitary group
Sep 11, 2014 posted by Emil Foget



The president of Colombia’s Congress issued a formal apology over lawmakers’ ties to a paramilitary group in one of the country’s most conflict-ridden states, but failed to mention other lawmakers’ ties to other paramilitary groups in the remaining 31 states.

The televised message of Senator Jose David Name was broadcast to comply with a court order that ordered Congress to take responsibility and apologize to victims of paramilitary leader “El Iguano” who ran the Catatumbo Bloc of paramilitary umbrella organization AUC.

The apology was explicitly directed at a number of communities in Norte de Santander, a state in the north of Colombia that has seen seven congressmen disappear behind bars for using the paramilitary forces for their political or personal benefit.

Seven congressmen from the state were subsequently investigated for “parapolitics.” In total, 45 Colombian congressmen have been sentenced and sent to prison for using paramilitaries to coerce voters.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/president-colombias-congress-apologizes-parapolitics/

What Happened to 92,000 Disappeared Colombians?

What Happened to 92,000 Disappeared Colombians?
By Reuters
Filed: 8/29/14 at 1:29 PM

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than 92,000 Colombians have disappeared during 50 years of war and at the hands of drug gangs, and the government needs to step up efforts to find missing people, the Red Cross said.

Every day nine people are reported missing in Colombia. Of the total number of those registered as missing over the years, nearly 70,000 remain missing without trace, according to the government’s official register.

Many are victims of five decades of armed conflict between government troops, right-wing paramilitary groups and leftist rebels, while others are victims of ongoing drug-turf wars.

"The problem of missing people in Colombia is as widespread as it is silent," Jordi Raich, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Colombia said in a statement on Friday.

More:
http://www.newsweek.com/what-happened-92000-disappeared-colombians-267589

We Must Degrow the 'Corporate Food Regime': Food Sovereignty Advocate

Published on Tuesday, September 09, 2014
by Common Dreams

We Must Degrow the 'Corporate Food Regime': Food Sovereignty Advocate

The industrial system in place has 'fetishized growth' but has not addressed hunger, according to Food First's Eric Holt-Giménez

by Andrea Germanos, staff

It's necessary to "degrow" the "corporate food regime" that over last five decades has impoverished the climate, water resources, local communities and crop diversity, and has not solved the problem of hunger.

This was the argument made by Eric Holt-Giménez, Executive Director of Food First, an organization whose mission is to work towards ending hunger by bringing about food justice, at a presentation Friday at the Fourth International Conference on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity, which took place in Leipzig, Germany.

Holt-Giménez made his address via video during a session entitled "The food challenge. Struggling for just and ecological food systems."

The food sector has been growth-focused, but this has not stopped the problem of hunger, Holt-Giménez said, pointing the example of 2008, which was a year of record harvests and record profits for agricultural giants like Cargill and ADM amidst record hunger.

"Clearly something has to change, and simply growing more food isn't going to solve the problem of hunger," he said. "This contradiction runs even deeper when we realize that most of the hungry people in the world are farmers. They're peasant farmers," most of whom are women, he added.

More:
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2014/09/10/un-bankruptcy-vote-could-stop-vulture-funds

The Real Agenda Behind the Detention of David Ravelo

September 10, 2014
The Real Agenda Behind the Detention of David Ravelo

A Colombian Prisoner of Empire

by W.T. WHITNEY Jr.

David Ravelo, arrested on September 14, 2010, is confined to Bogota’s enormous La Picota prison. Clearly innocent of any crime, he received an 18-year sentence. Ravelo relied on independent political thought, action, and courage to oppose Colombia’s oligarchic, militarized, U. S. backed regime. Having attracted considerable attention, he was as vulnerable to persecution as any of Colombia’s 9500 political prisoners. .

Ravelo had always lived and worked in gritty, oil-producing Barrancabermeja – famous for labor radicalism.

Now almost a year after his appeal failed, a year when even Colombia’s leftist media seemed to lose interest in his case, Ravelo returns to the news. In late August the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) submitted an amicus curiae report on his case to Colombia’s Supreme Court, having submitted a similar report a year earlier. The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective, whose members are defending Ravelo, noted on its website that, “the Supreme Court has the opportunity to do justice in a case of obvious persecution against a defender of human rights in Colombia.”

This amicus curiae report advances the legal doctrine of “annulment” of an erroneous conviction and sentencing. “Amicus curiae” refers to a group or individual offering an opinion to a court but not a party to the proceedings.

The British lawyers’ action puts the spotlight on international solidarity. The need for new ways to make solidarity efforts more effective shows up in the intransigence of authorities holding Colombian political prisoners and prisoners in the United States like Oscar López Rivera from Puerto Rico and the three remaining Cuban Five prisoners, and indeed prisoners all over.

A remarkable display of international solidarity unfolded on September 1 as Kirsty Brimelow, BHRC international litigation head, and Reinaldo Villalba of the Restrepo group held a joint news conference in Bogota to discuss Ravelo’s case. The YouTube rendition of the conference has Villalba reminding viewers that Ravelo led the fight against right-wing paramilitary domination in Barrancabermeja, also that the charge against him of involvement in the 1991 murder of a municipal official rested entirely on accusations by two paramilitary chieftains. These were serving long prison sentences because Ravelo had implicated them in the 1998 massacre of 32 people in Barrancabermeja. The state evidently took advantage of their lust for vengeance.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/10/a-colombian-prisoner-of-empire/

Sinking Iceland volcano crater raises flood worries

Sinking Iceland volcano crater raises flood worries
Source: Reuters - Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:33 GMT

REYKJAVIK, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano registered one of its most powerful earth tremors yet on Wednesday while the sinking of its caldera raised concerns of an eruption and flooding, authorities said.

The caldera, the cauldron-like crater at the top of a volcano, had sunk by up to around 20 metres since last week as magma channeled through underground passages moves away from the volcano, Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, geophysics professor at the University of Iceland, told public service broadcaster RUV.

The caldera covers about 80 square km and is covered by an ice cap that is 700 to 800 metres thick.

A cloud of abrasive ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, in a different region of Iceland, closed much of Europe's air space for six days in 2010, stranding tens of thousands of passengers, after an eruption under the ice cap.

"We take this increased subsidence in the caldera of Bardarbunga volcano very seriously, due to a possible large eruption and glacial flood," said Vidir Reynisson, Department Manager at Iceland's Civil Protection Department.

More:
http://www.trust.org/item/20140910143342-urvl0/?source=jtOtherNews2

Peru's Modern Economy Clashes With Its Past

Peru's Modern Economy Clashes With Its Past
By Ryan Dube
Updated Sept. 10, 2014 9:35 p.m. ET


[font size=1]
Ancient pyramids at El Paraíso, above, outside Peru's
capital of Lima, are at the center of a legal dispute.
Ryan Dube/The Wall Street Journal
[/font]
LIMA, Peru—For 4,000 years, the pyramids at an archaeological site on the edge of Lima survived earthquakes, Spanish conquistadors and a bloody revolution. But they were no match for developers cashing in on Peru's economic boom.

Prosecutors in August filed charges against a developer that Peruvian officials said used a front-loading tractor last year to level a 20-foot pyramid at El Paraíso, and planned to flatten three others to make way for housing construction.

Archaeologists say such incidents are increasingly plaguing Peru's cultural patrimony, which includes one of the world's great empires, the Incas, and several other notable civilizations. The quick rise of Peru's modern economy, they say, is colliding with the remains of ancient societies in a way that dwarfs the artifact looting that has long afflicted Peru's ruins.

"This is now a much bigger problem than looting," said Walter Alva, a Peruvian archaeologist who has made some of the most important discoveries in Peru over 30 years. "It is very difficult to juggle the protection of cultural heritage with economic interests."

Over the past decade, Peru has clocked average annual growth of more than 6%, the fastest in South America, as foreign investments in the mineral-rich nation rose from $1.6 billion in 2004 to $10 billion in 2013. The poverty rate fell to 24% from almost 60% as a bigger middle class fueled demand for homes and cars. But the protection of Andean fortresses and pyramids has lagged behind, government officials and archaeologists say, in part blaming an archaeology budget of just $7.3 million.

Less than 20% of the 14,000 archaeological sites in the Ministry of Culture's database have been mapped—their precise boundaries marked—by authorities. Only 133 sites have been included in a land registry intended to provide them more legal protection.

More:
http://online.wsj.com/articles/development-in-peru-clashes-with-its-ancient-past-1410397160

Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero deserves justice as much as sainthood

Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero deserves justice as much as sainthood
By MARY JO MCCONAHAY
Los Angeles Times September 9, 2014

When Pope Francis announced he was unblocking the canonization process for Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, killed in 1980 by a death squad during his country's civil war, it was heartening and frustrating. Romero stood up to a murderous army on behalf of the poor in El Salvador. President Obama visited his tomb in 2011, and his statue stands on a wall of Westminster Abbey, among modern Christian martyrs including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yet the archbishop's murderers remain free. Judges in El Salvador have said a controversial amnesty law forbids prosecuting war crimes, though the nation's Supreme Court is considering a challenge to that decision. Most notoriously, Romero's brother bishops, who might be expected to call out for justice, have dragged their feet or blocked progress toward legal redress for Romero's killing and the rest of El Salvador's wartime crimes.

"Sainthood, yes - for us he is already a saint," said a Salvadoran friend after he heard the pope's news about Romero. "But without going after the perpetrators, this will induce a form of amnesia, pushing away the violence while creating a kind of myth that serves the country." The perpetrators are alive, he pointed out, as are their financiers.

Romero died at the beginning of a 12-year civil conflict, a leftist attempt to overthrow a repressive, military-backed government. The war ended in 1992 with a truce between the government and rebels of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. The United Nations-backed Truth Commission for El Salvador described horrific massacres, calling Romero's murder "a brutal symbol of the nightmare the country experienced during the war." Its report said about 70,000 people died, most of them unarmed civilians, at the hands of a military supported by the United States.

A bespectacled provincial bishop with a reputation as a conservative, Romero was appointed in 1977 as archbishop of the small Central American country, a nation riven by inequalities. The Salvadoran church had long enjoyed a marriage of convenience with wealthy families who ruled with help from the army. Romero, however, responded like a pastor to growing violence.

More:
http://www.islandpacket.com/2014/09/09/3302912_salvadoran-archbishop-oscar-romero.html?rh=1

91 Colombian human rights defenders receive death threat over email

91 Colombian human rights defenders receive death threat over email
Sep 10, 2014 posted by Craig Corbett

The United Nation’s human rights office in Colombia has condemned a death threat sent to at least 91 human rights defenders in Colombia over the past few days.

The email which was received by dozens on Tuesday contained a “black list” featuring the names of 91 human rights activists currently working within the country. The threat was not signed and no group has claimed responsibility for the threats.

The UN has officially urged the Colombian government to publicly reject the threats and to take measures to assure the protection and safety of those involved in human rights work in Colombia.

In response to the pamphlet, which contained direct threats to the lives of the 91 named workers, the U.N commissioner said that he had worked with many of those featured in the ´blacklist´ and said that “they were making a valuable and legitimate contribution to respect for the rights of people in Colombia”.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/91-colombian-human-rights-defenders-receive-death-threat-email/

Zebra-suited urbanists of Bolivia undeterred by hit-and-run death

Zebra-suited urbanists of Bolivia undeterred by hit-and-run death

The recent death of a teenager working as a ‘zebra’ road safety helper shines a spotlight on what has otherwise been a success story of how at-risk youth can transform a city

Sara Shahriari in La Paz

theguardian.com, Tuesday 26 August 2014 10.00 EDT


[font size=1]
‘A zebra is humility’ ... zebra urbanists in La Paz, Bolivia. All photographs: Sara Shahriari
for the Guardian [/font]

On a freezing, brilliantly sunny day, Karen Huaylluco is trotting along an intersection on the busiest street in downtown La Paz, wearing a striped suit and plush zebra mask. Waving her hooves, she ushers people along the black-and-white pedestrian crossing, rejoicing when they wait for green and clutching her head in agony when an errant soul sprints across oncoming traffic. Her work earns many smiles from harried commuters.

“A zebra is love, a zebra is humility, it’s respect,” says Huaylluco, 24, a soft-spoken young woman who cares for her three younger sisters while her parents work in neighbouring Chile. “We learned all that here, and we take it with us and will be this way wherever we go.”

Huaylluco began the programme four years ago and is now a “zebra administrator”. Any morning during rush hour in La Paz, you will find her and a herd of zebras capering down the sidewalk, calling out buenos días and stopping to hug children.

La Paz has experienced a dramatic population increase in recent decades as people relocate from rural areas, and an even bigger spike in the number of cars that cruise its narrow, colonial-era streets. The people and cars are a chaotic, sometimes dangerous mix, so in 2001 the city government created the zebras to educate pedestrians and drivers on sharing the road.

More:
http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/aug/26/zebra-urbanists-bolivia-hit-run-death-road-safety



Fugitive Honduran government official arrested

10 September 2014 Last updated at 01:12
Fugitive Honduran government official arrested


[font size=1]
Mario Zelaya has been accused of fraud, bribery, abuse of public funds and money laundering[/font]

The former head of the Honduran Institute of Social Security, Mario Zelaya, has been arrested near the border with Nicaragua. Mr Zelaya is suspected of misappropriating millions of dollars from the country's social security programme.

~snip~

Mr Zelaya had been on the run since January. He denies any wrongdoing.


~snip~

His lawyer, Marcelino Vargas, said his client had been improperly detained in Nicaragua by ``two masked persons'' who took him to the border and handed him over without a formal extradition process. The authorities have seized more than $7m (£4.3m) of assets under his control, including houses, flats and vehicles.

Mr Zelaya was head of the Honduran Institute of Social Security (IHSS), from 2010 to 2014, during the government of former President Porfirio Lobo. Prosecutors allege theft and fraudulent spending of over $300m (£180m) involving funds that were supposed to pay for medicine, medical supplies and pensions for retirees and the disabled.

The alleged fraud involved overpricing goods and services by more than 100%. Businesses that benefited allegedly paid commission to officials.

The former deputy health and labour ministers, Javier Pastor and Carlos Montes, have also been detained on the same charges. They were part of the IHSS investment committee during the government of former President Lobo.

More:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29137408
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