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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 143,891

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Chasing the Murderers of Ayotzinapa's Forty-Three


Examining the disappearance of forty-three students in southern Mexico four years ago can lead to only one conclusion: culpability lies with the Mexican state.

Family of forty-three missing students from Ayotzinapa normal school lead a protest, September 26, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico. Brett Gundlock / Getty

Review of Anabel Hernández, A Massacre in Mexico (Verso, 2018).

This month marks four years since the brutal attack on the students from the Aytozinapa rural normal school, a teacher training college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, in which six people were killed and forty-three students were forcibly disappeared. After all this time, and after multiple investigations, there is still no definitive explanation of what happened that night in 2014 in the small city of Iguala: Who took the students? Where were they taken? What happened to them? More than one hundred people have been arrested in connection with the Ayotzinapa attack, but despite this, students’ families still lack answers to these most basic questions.

The families are joined in their struggle for answers by human rights groups, international legal experts, and fearless journalists, perhaps most prominent among them Anabel Hernández, whose book about the Ayotzinapa disappearances, A Massacre in Mexico: The True Story Behind the Missing 43 Students (Verso), is out in English this fall. While there are few new revelations in the book (it was published in Spanish in 2017 and is based on reporting Hernández has undertaken since the attack) it is the most comprehensive account of what is known about the attack — and about the astonishingly corrupt government investigation that followed.

That investigation is the real subject of the book. The families’ frustrations derive not just from not knowing what happened to their sons, four years on, but also from the fact that they must undertake their struggle for truth against their own government, which has, at every turn, stymied their search for the truth.

Hernández shows why, in painstaking detail. A Massacre in Mexico presents an overwhelming case that federal government investigators working for the administration of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto created a false narrative of local culpability and sought to close the case before an investigation could reveal the involvement of federal officials.


Savage US ad: 'Biggest wow moment ever seen'

22 Sep, 2018 2:01pm 2 minutes to read

By: Nick Bond
A US political campaign ad is making waves online thanks to a surprising sting in its tail that's been described as "the biggest wow moment" of any political ad ever.

The advertisement is one of a series that Arizona Democrat David Brill has launched against Republican congressman Paul Gosar, who he is hoping to unseat in an upcoming election in the state.

It starts as a family standard political campaign ad, as a group upstanding citizens — Grace, a rural pysichian, lawyer David, medical interpreter Jennifer among them — passionately discuss why current congressman Paul Gosar does not represent them, reports news.com.au.

"If he actually cared about people in rural Arizona, I bet he'd be fighting for social security, for better access to healthcare. I bet he'd be researching what is the most insightful water policy to help Arizona sustain itself and be successful," says Jennifer.


With US Bombs Killing Kids in Yemen, Sanders Tells Pompeo 'Human Lives Worth Far More Than Defense C

Published on
Thursday, September 20, 2018
byCommon Dreams

With US Bombs Killing Kids in Yemen, Sanders Tells Pompeo 'Human Lives Worth Far More Than Defense Contractor Profits'
"Hopefully this news will reach the living rooms of all Americans," said Rep. Ro Khanna, "because I have faith the great people of this country do not support a war like this."

byJake Johnson, staff writer

American-made bombs are being used to massacre large numbers of civilians in Yemen, and new reporting shows that the Trump administration is allowing this carnage to continue and escalate in order to protect the profits of defense contractors.

Just days after the Yemen-based human rights group Mwatana gave CNN exclusive access documents showing that U.S.-manufactured bomb fragments have been found at the scene of at least 11 separate Saudi-led attacks on Yemeni civilians since 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opted to continue American military support for Saudi Arabia over the objections of his staff in an effort to preserve $2 billion in weapons sales to the brutal monarchy.

"Pompeo overruled concerns from most of the State Department specialists involved in the debate who were worried about the rising civilian death toll in Yemen," the Journal reported, citing a classified State Department memo. "He sided with his legislative affairs team after they argued that suspending support could undercut plans to sell more than 120,000 precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)."

"Secretary Pompeo's certification last week that the Saudi-led coalition was taking appropriate steps to protect civilians in Yemen was ridiculous on its face," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote in response to the Journal's reporting on Thursday. "But now we find out that Pompeo overruled the advice of his own State Department experts and legal advisers in order to make that certification to Congress, because he feared not doing so would endanger U.S. arms sales to the Saudis and Emiratis currently destroying Yemen."


'Stop this disaster': Brazilian women mobilise against 'misogynist' far-right Bolsonaro

Source: Guardian

Jair Bolsonaro, who has called women idiots and issued taunts about rape, could be the next president. For the 2.5m women who joined a new Facebook group, something had to be done

Tom Phillips in Recife
Fri 21 Sep 2018 11.24 EDT

He has mocked women as idiots and as tramps, as unworthy of rape, let alone equal pay. Within weeks he could be crowned president of a country that is home to 108 million of them.

But with Brazil’s highly polarized 7 October election looming, huge numbers of Brazilian women are now mobilizing to derail the presidential bid of the far-right frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro, who is leading polls with about 26% of intended votes.

“We need everyone to pull together to stop this disaster happening to our country,” said Maíra Motta, a 40-year-old philosophy teacher from the city of Vitória da Conquista.

Motta is one of more than 2.5 million women who have in recent days joined a Facebook campaign to stop Bolsonaro in his tracks. Ludimilla Teixeira, a 36-year-old advertising executive, said she had founded the group – Mulheres Unidas Contra Bolsonaro or Women United Against Bolsonaro – on 30 August as a platform to coordinate protests against politicians with “misogynist, prejudiced and truly fascist” ideas. Within 24 hours it had accumulated 600,000 members.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/21/brazilian-women-against-jair-bolosonaro-misogynist-far-right-candidate

Black cowboys: Creole trail rides showcase unique culture

In Texas and Louisiana, a potent mix of zydeco, hip-hop and horses keeps an often overlooked tradition alive
by Joel Balsam in Calvert, Texas, with pictures by Stephanie Foden

Fri 21 Sep 2018 06.00 EDT

Pickup trucks started pouring into the tiny town of Calvert, smack in the middle of Texas’s four metropoles. Some pulled wagons with horses peeking out of the metal bars. Others dragged flatbed trolleys stacked with speakers, a barbecue and a portable toilet.

Inside the vehicles, urbanites from Dallas and Houston slipped off their baseball caps and threw on their cowboy hats, swapping their shoes or flip-flops for cowboy boots.

The occasion was a Creole trail ride, a country party that features a procession, zydeco music, dancing and feasting that runs every weekend through spring and fall in Louisiana and east Texas. Trail rides date back decades, but if you’ve never heard of one before, you aren’t entirely at fault – there are centuries of revisionist history to blame for that.

Who do you think of when you think of a cowboy? A gun-slinging John Wayne type? Some historians believe that well before Hollywood distorted our view of what a cowboy looks like, French-speaking slaves from Africa – later clumped in with the cultural mishmash known as Creoles – rode horses in Louisiana.


Why Is Trump Tacitly Supporting Corruption in Guatemala?

Why Is Trump Tacitly Supporting Corruption in Guatemala?

The administration’s silence empowers President Jimmy Morales to continue ruling with impunity.

By Francisco Goldman
Mr. Goldman is a novelist and journalist who has covered Latin America for decades.

Sept. 21, 2018

When President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala announced last month that he would not reauthorize a joint United Nations-Guatemala anticorruption commission to remain in the country, he set in motion what some are calling a slow-motion coup.

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known as Cicig, has been operating there since 2007. In the mid-2000s, Guatemala was on the verge of becoming a narco state — and Cicig’s international prosecutors and investigators, and their Guatemalan counterparts, were tasked with fighting organized crime and ending the institutional impunity that gave free rein to powerful criminals and corrupt officials.

Cicig has become especially effective since Ivan Velazquez, a renowned Colombian prosecutor, was appointed commissioner in 2013. In the last five years, more than 60 criminal groups, many deeply embedded in the government, have been exposed, and some 680 people have been jailed for corruption and related crimes.

In 2015, President Otto Perez Molina was imprisoned, along with his vice president, for presiding over a corruption network. Nearly 70 percent of Guatemalans view Cicig favorably.


Editorials and other articles:

Mexico's president-elect grounded for hours on commercial flight after he refuses to use luxury jet

Mexico's president-elect grounded for hours on commercial flight after he refuses to use luxury jet
‘I would be ashamed to have a luxury plane in a country with so much poverty,’ says left-wing leader

Adam Forrest
3 hours ago

President-elect was stuck for three hours ( Reuters )

Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to uphold a promise to sell a luxury presidential jet, despite getting grounded on a commercial flight.

Bad weather in Mexico City shut down the capital’s airport, forcing the recently-elected politician to wait on the tarmac with hundreds of other passengers for three hours.

The left-wing populist has pledged to turn his presidential palace into a cultural centre and sell the presidential plane costing $218m (£165m).

. . .

The president-elect, who won by a landslide in July, added: “I would be ashamed… to have a luxury airplane in a country with so much poverty.”



Forced labour in Paraguay: the darkness at the bottom of the global supply chain

Experts believe that action is urgently needed to expose horrifying labour conditions across Paraguay’s Chaco region

Carlos Juliano Barros and André Campos in Paraguay and Jo Griffin
Tue 18 Sep 2018 09.00 EDT

“For me, there are two very important anthropological concepts,” says Patrick Friesen, speaking Spanish with a thick accent. He is a descendant of protestant Mennonites who left Europe to found agricultural colonies in the arid region of the Paraguayan Chaco; he is also the communication manager of Chortitzer, one of the three large Mennonite cooperatives that dominate the economy of this inhospitable part of the country.

“The first [concept] is that people from the north[ern hemisphere] need to stockpile. They work from sunrise to sunset, investing, so they can survive the winter. But a person from the south, to put it crudely, can sit under a mango tree and wait for a mango to fall on his head. Nature provides security,” he says, differentiating what he believes to be the mental maps of the Mennonites and the indigenous peoples who have been living together in the Chaco for a century.

Formed by dry forests resistant to drought and scalding temperatures, the Chaco occupies more than half the land in Paraguay. Over the past decade, cattle farming in this region has grown rapidly and it now has 43% of the country’s livestock population, and is increasingly becoming the crucible of Paraguay’s growing export industry, selling soybeans, meat and leather to the rest of the world.

But as Paraguay’s export market develops and the country becomes a bigger player in the international market, the darker side of the Chaco region is coming into focus, with reports of illegal deforestation and slave labour among the indigenous population.


Electronic 'Skin' Creates Robots From Ordinary Objects

Developed for a NASA project, the soft sheets full of high-tech gear can turn almost anything into a versatile automaton.

- video at link -



When NASA put out a call for soft robotic technologies, Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio and her team at Yale University replied with something remarkable: robotic skins that can wrap around everyday objects, turning almost anything into a moving, grasping robot.

Described this week in Science Robotics, the skins are made of pliable elastic sheets with moving actuators and sensors on one side. They are designed to be reusable and modular, allowing them to be combined in a variety of ways to create different movements and uses, Kramer-Bottiglio explains via email.

In tests in the lab, Kramer-Bottiglio and her team wrapped the skin around the legs of a stuffed animal, and the toy horse lurched forward in an awkward gallop. A foam tube wrapped with a skin was able to inch forward like a worm. And a piece of skin connecting two pieces of cardboard could contract, turning the object into a rudimentary gripper.

I'm Delighted I Can Do That, Dave
In unpredictable environments like outer space, where unforeseen problems can arise, this diversity gives the skins a creative advantage over traditional robots that are only designed for a limited amount of activities. (Also see intimate pictures of Sophia, a remarkably human-like robot.)


Young Narwhal Adopted By Totally Chill Beluga Whale Pod

09/16/2018 11:30 pm ET

“It’s a like a big social ball of young juveniles that are playing some social, sexual games,” one Canadian whale expert said.
By Mary Papenfuss

A rare narwhal in eastern Canada’s St. Lawrence River has apparently been adopted by a band of beluga whales, scientists have revealed.

The young, gray-speckled narwhal was first spotted in the river in 2016 with approximately 100 adult belugas. But it has recently begun traveling with a pod of about ten belugas, all believed to be juvenile or young adult males.

Narwhals have a single pointed tusk growing from their head. Their tusks can be seen in drone video footage of the whales taken by the Canadian nonprofit Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals.

The narwhal “seems to be at home with the St. Lawrence belugas,” said a GREMM statement.


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