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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 135,950

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Amazon aflame: What we've learnt in a year reporting on Brazilian beef and the rainforest


The fires that have swept through the Amazon rainforest are a direct result of beef consumption in Europe and around the world, as documented by the Bureau in a series of investigations throughout this year.

Our food and environment team has spent the last year investigating the links between the Brazilian beef industry and the ongoing destruction of one of our most important carbon sinks.

As the COP25 global climate negotiations draw to a close in Madrid, our latest story has revealed Brazilian Amazon fires were three times more common in the meatpackers’ estimated operating areas than outside them.

It is the latest in a series of reports we have produced working with the Guardian and Repórter Brasil evidencing the toll of Brazil’s beef industry. In July we shared our findings that JBS, the world’s biggest meat producer, had broken its own “zero-deforestation” policy by buying cows from a supplier grazing cattle on land that had been forbidden for use as a punishment for earlier felling.


Picked by slaves: coffee crisis brews in Brazil

DECEMBER 12, 2019 / 5:11 AM / UPDATED 19 HOURS AGO

Fabio Teixeira

PATOS DE MINAS, Brazil (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - As the coffee harvest drew to a close in the rolling hills of southeastern Brazil, labor inspectors raced to two sprawling plantations with one goal - to rescue workers from slavery.

The convoy, escorted by armed police, hit the road one August morning in Minas Gerais - a state bigger than France - that grows more than half the beans in Brazil, the world’s top coffee exporter.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation joined officials on a high-speed chase over fields, searching for coffee bean pickers crouched amid countless rows of lush trees.

The inspectors knew they had to act fast as supervisors running plantations were known to order workers to flee at the first sight of authorities, using WhatsApp to issue warnings.

By sunset, they had raided both plantations and found 59 workers - including children aged 13 - all undocumented, underpaid and lacking safety equipment as required by law.


The Return of the Indigenous Struggle in Bolivia

Post on: December 12, 2019 Javo Ferreira

The resistance to the right-wing coup in Bolivia has developed under the banners of the indigenous peoples. The working class needs to take up these demands as its own. We publish here the prologue to the third edition of Javo Ferreira’s book Comunidad, indigenismo y marxismo (Community, Indigenism, and Marxism).

ince the Bolivian elections of October 20, the subsequent coup d’état has been consolidated, reopening deep wounds and contradictions in society that Bolivian and Latin American “progressivism” thought had been overcome. The civilian, police, and military coup, consummated with the resignation of President Evo Morales on November 10, attempted to consolidate itself through savage repression that claimed the lives of more than 30 people and left hundreds injured and almost a thousand detained by the police and military forces. It is in this context, while the ashes of the roadblocks still smolder, that I write this prologue for the third edition of this book. Great events in the history of peoples are those that, like a judge’s decision that cannot be appealed, determine whether texts, analyses, and documents drawn up previously can pass the test of facts or are simply to be tucked away in the trunk of historical curiosities. I believe not only that this text, written mainly in 2009 after 14 years of government by the MAS, has comfortably passed the test of events, but also that much of what happened after 2009 was anticipated in its pages. I hope that, with the revival of the struggle of the exploited and oppressed of Bolivia—a large part of the country’s nations and native peoples—this text will contribute to that struggle and to organizing against the state, against its ruling classes, and against the racial structure of society that makes it easy to gain advantage from the social capital that comes with being white and Spanish-speaking.

It remains to be seen how far the coup plotters can go in dismantling the “Plurinational State of Bolivia”—as former Vice President Álvaro García Linera called the outcome of his administration’s efforts to overcome the racial structuring of Bolivian society. Constitutional and institutional reforms were undertaken by the government in an attempt to break through the state’s “gelatinous” nature and advance toward a unitary construction of civil and political society.

On November 10, after the resignation of Morales and García Linera, a group of coup plotters undertook an enormously symbolic act—lowering the wiphala1 at the Palacio Quemado (Bolivia’s presidential palace) and setting it on fire. This revealed the racist character of the coup and the white elite’s absolute hatred of indigenous peoples. It also left for dead any attempt to use reforms to satisfy the indigenous peoples’ structural democratic demands in a new constitution, without modifying the bourgeois character of the Bolivian state. Ultimately, the “apparent state”2 was never displaced, thus permitting the Right—which never accepted the Constitution or the state’s plurinational character—to trample on it once the balance of power allowed. Doing so, however, does not appear to be a simple task, as was demonstrated by the massive mobilizations that arose in resistance to the coup and that in their early days used slogans that centered fighting racism and defending cultures. The passivity of the MAS, the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB, the trade union confederation), and several of the leaderships that have validated the coup is an enormous help in this effort to dismantle, at least partially, many of the demands that had been embodied as provisions in the Constitution—and which are now under attack and could even be eliminated as the racist elite reoccupies the state.

The MAS was elected as a government based on the great uprisings and insurrections that shook Bolivia in the 2000s. This government had to express—albeit in a distorted way—the relationship of forces established by those great independent actions of the mass movement. This was expressed in various constitutional and legal reforms presented as a “democratic and cultural revolution.” The approval of the new constitution was the result of a pact with the Right that in 2008 had its strongholds in Sucre and in the so-called Media Luna.3 That constitutional pact brought a certain social peace to the country, lubricated by a boom in the price of raw materials that helped cushion the deep social, economic, and political cracks of the last decade. It was translated into important reforms that sought to resolve, through institutional means, the historical social exclusion of the great national majorities of Aymara, Quechua, and Tupi Guaraní origin. But that pact lasted only until October 20, 2019, when the crisis was reopened and the trend from 2008 toward civil war reemerged.


Morales's Coup Fits a Long Pattern in Bolivian History

Bolivia's exiled ex-President Evo Morales gestures as he delivers a speech at the Mexican Journalists Club, in Mexico City, on November 27, 2019.

Ted Snider, Truthout
December 11, 2019

Bolivia’s democratically elected president, Evo Morales, became the most recent victim of a U.S.-approved Latin American coup when, at the “suggestion” of the chief commander of the Bolivian armed forces, Williams Kaliman, Morales fled for his life to asylum in Mexico.

General Kaliman’s ties to the U.S. are not thin. Though seldom glanced at in the U.S. press, Kaliman was Bolivia’s military attaché to Washington from 2013 to 2016, during which time he may have developed deep ties to both the U.S. military and intelligence communities. And his ties to the U.S. go back even earlier than that: In 2004, Kaliman studied at the infamous School of the Americas (now rebranded as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), the military school notorious in Latin America for graduating coup leaders and dictators. After that, he attended again and took a course in 2013. Several other key players in the coup were also graduates of the School of the Americas.

As in other Latin American coups and attempted coups, the U.S. was quick to recognize and legitimize the coup government. The Trump White House applauded the coup as “a significant moment in democracy.”

U.S. Involvement in Bolivian Coups
The 2019 Bolivian coup cannot be properly understood ripped from its context. It is not the first Bolivian coup, and it is not the first U.S.-supported Bolivian coup. Since independence from Spain, Bolivia has had approximately 185 changes in government, and most of those changes — according to William Blum’s book, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II — were coups.


Indigenous Peoples Are Under Attack in Bolivia After Evo Morales' Departure

In this op-ed, a Harvard Medical School student and indigenous activist writes about his deep concern about the violence towards indigenous peoples in Bolivia after president Evo Morales fled the country.

DECEMBER 11, 2019

I am a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe on my father’s side and am Yaqui on my mother’s. I’ve had a blessed life, but like many Indigenous youth, it was not without hardship. My parents worked hard and fostered a loving family, but we lived paycheck to paycheck. My school and neighborhood struggled with drugs, alcohol, violence, and gang life. Many of my friends ended up in prison or jail.

What kept me strong was intergenerational resilience. It was the stories I heard about my ancestors, and the ceremonies passed down thousands of years. These experiences, among others, inspired me to become a healer and pursue medicine in order to give back to my community.

Now, I am a first-year student at Harvard Medical School and a cochair of the U.N. Global Indigenous Youth Caucus. Through this work, I’ve come to know that our rights are integral to our health, and Indigenous Peoples who work to defend these rights live in persistent danger of rampant resource extraction, politically sanctioned violence, assassination, and criminalization.

That is why I’m so deeply concerned about the recent violence toward Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia.

In October, Evo Morales, an Aymara man and the first Indigenous president of Bolivia, was reelected for a fourth term, sparking accusations of voter fraud and violating constitutional term limits. This led to civil protests and a military-backed ousting of the man better known as Evo. In response to the growing violence, Evo resigned along with his top-ranking cabinet members, and was granted asylum in Mexico.


This 'starry night' toad was lost to scientists for decades

This 'starry night' toad was lost to scientists for decades

A starry night harlequin toad, or Atelopus aryescue.IMAGE: FUNDACIÓN ATELOPUS

There's a magical mountain on the Colombian coast, said Lina Valencia, a biological anthropologist and Colombia conservation officer at Global Wildlife Conservation. The 18,700-foot peak, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, is the tallest coastal mountain on Earth. At different elevations, the peak hosts life found nowhere else.

At about 6,500 feet up, a black toad, spotted in white like an impressionist night sky, inhabits the mountainous land. It's the starry night harlequin toad, or Atelopus aryescue, and conservationists hadn't spotted the ornately decorated species since 1991.

But the indigenous Arhuaco people knew the toad was there, all along. "It was never lost to them, it was lost to science," said Valencia.

Recently the Arhuaco banded with local researchers to document the toad's existence, and the pictures were made available on Wednesday by Global Wildlife Conservation.


Bogota police embarrassed over assaulting reporters, apparent kidnapping attempt

Bogota police embarrassed over assaulting reporters, apparent kidnapping attempt
by Adriaan Alsema December 11, 2019

Bogota police were embarrassed on Tuesday after assaulting journalists and being caught red-handed allegedly trying to kidnap a woman.

Commander Brigadier General Hoover Penilla denied the woman was kidnapped and asked press “not to question everything our policemen do.”

Penilla and his department have come under tremendous criticism over a slew of human rights violations reportedly committed in attempts to repress mass anti-government protests.

On Tuesday alone, the police found itself embroiled the alleged kidnapping attempt and the assault of reporters of television networks RCN and City TV, who were covering the student protest at the National University.


This is starting to sound like Argentina, Chile, Brazil before their military dictatorships.

Judge Absolves Lula and Dilma in "PT Gang" Case

Decision signed by Brasilia judge, Marcus Vinicius Reis Bastos

Dec.6.2019 1:20PM

Mônica Bergamo
A federal court summarily acquitted former presidents Lula and Dilma, as well as former ministers Antonio Palocci Filho and Guido Mantega, and João Vaccari Neto, in a case concerning the so-called "PT gang."

Judge Marcus Vinicius Reis Bastos of the 12th District Court signed decision. According to him, the complaint was an attempt to criminalize political activity.

The charge was received in 2017 by the Attorney General's Office, at the time headed by Rodrigo Janot. The case initially proceeded to the Federal Supreme Court, since one of the targets was then-Senator Gleisi Hoffmann (PT-PR).

"The initial accusation attempts to describe numerous autonomous criminal offenses without revealing the existence of a stable, orderly structure and coordinated action of the accused, which are characteristic traits of a criminal organization. Simply put, there is no evidence of any crime," said the judge in the decision.


Majority of Brazilians Think Lula's Release from Prison Was Fair

For 54% of Brazilians, his release was correct; 42% see it as unjust, according to Datafolha
Dec.10.2019 11:22AM

Felipe Bächtold
A majority of Brazilians consider the release of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT) from prison in November to be fair, according to a survey by Datafolha.

According to the survey, 54% of Brazilians see Lula’s release as fair, and 42% think it was unjustified. Another 5% said they did not know.

Approximately, 2,948 people were interviewed between December 5 and 6, in 176 municipalities across the country. The margin of error is plus or minus two percentage points.

Lula left prison on November 8 (Foto: Eduardo Anizelli/Folhapress) - Folhapress

Lula left prison on November 8, after serving 19 months for money laundering and money laundering in the case of the Guarujá (SP) triplex.

He obtained his freedom thanks to the Supreme Court ruling that found his arrest unconstitutional, given the appeals pending in higher courts.


Colombia's trial of the century: 'Uribe's fixer to be charged over witness tampering'

by Adriaan Alsema December 10, 2019

The fixer of Colombia’s former President, Alvaro Uribe, will be formally charged for allegedly tampering with witnesses in the case against the political patron of President Ivan Duque, local media reported Monday.

Prosecution sources told multiple media that the Prosecutor General’s Office will formally file bribery charges against self-proclaimed “gangstattorney”, Diego Cadena, on February 18.

Uribe is investigated by the Supreme Court for allegedly ordering Cadena to bribe witnesses in response to allegations that the far-right politician and his brother Santiago formed death squads in the 1990s.

Why Colombia’s former president is accused of forming bloodthirsty death squads
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the prosecution even plans to ask a judge to warrant the arrest of Cadena, who is embroiled in four ongoing criminal investigations.

One alleged crime, three investigations
The criminal charges reportedly pending against Cadena would be a game changer in the cases against the Uribes, particularly the former president.

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