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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 157,286

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Autopsy on ex-Brazilian president is inconclusive

Autopsy on ex-Brazilian president is inconclusive

By JENNY BARCHFIELD, Associated Press | December 1, 2014 | Updated: December 1, 2014 2:55pm

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — An autopsy on the remains of late Brazilian President Joao Goulart was inconclusive, the country's minister of human rights said Monday, making it impossible to immediately prove or debunk suspicions he may have been murdered on orders of the military regime that once ruled the country.

Ideli Salvatti said at a news conference in the capital, Brasilia, that the autopsy did not turn up evidence Goulart was poisoned, as his family suspects, but also failed to prove he died of a heart attack, which was the official cause of death.

Goulart was toppled by a 1964 coup that installed the military regime that ruled Latin America's biggest country for 21 years.

He went into exile in Argentina, where he died in the city of Mercedes in December 1976. His body was quickly flown back to Brazil, where he was buried beside family members.

His death was ruled a heart attack, but an autopsy was never performed either in Argentina or in Brazil.

Suspicions he may have been poisoned stem from statements made in 2008 by a former Uruguayan intelligence officer imprisoned in Brazil for drug smuggling. He told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that Goulart had been poisoned by agents of Operation Condor, under which the military dictatorships that ruled much of South America in the 1970s and 1980s secretly cooperated in the torture and disappearances of each other's citizens.


Colombia’s dams end up in the dock over human rights abuses?

Colombia’s dams end up in the dock over human rights abuses?
Dec 1, 2014 posted by Robin Llewellyn

Colombia produces most of its energy from hydro-power and more dams are being constructed. To many this is a significant achievement, but the building of large dams has been accompanied with high levels of violence and displacement.

Over 60% of Colombia’s energy is produced by hydro-power, and new dams are being built across the country to boost this proportion further. The Sogamoso dam in Santander state will produce 10% of the country’s energy needs, while the Ituango dam in Antioquia will produce 20% of Colombia’s requirements.

This wealth of renewable energy will be promoted by Colombian diplomats attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima this week as evidence of the country’s environmental responsibility. But opponents of Colombia’s dams will also be in Lima, arguing that hydro-dams in tropical countries actually contribute to climate change through producing large quantities of the greenhouse gas methane. Hydro-dams are already the largest single source of methane related to human activities.

Their impact on the atmosphere is only one problem; activist Jorge Mario David from Colombia’s Rios Vivos movement said.

“What’s the relationship between the armed conflict and the construction of dams?” David rhetorically asked Colombia Reports.

“We know that displacement and assassinations have hit communities affected by dams, and we need to know the relations between these events for the Truth Commission and to understand how the environment has been made a victim of the conflict and of megaprojects.”


Complaint over sexual abuse during Pinochet dictatorship proceeding in Chile

Source: Agencia EFE (Spain national news agency)

Complaint over sexual abuse during Pinochet dictatorship proceeding in Chile
Published December 01, 2014/

Nieves Ayress Moreno, a woman who was imprisoned during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, on Monday confirmed her participation in the first complaint over sexual violence during the Chilean military regime, 40 years after the crimes were committed.

"We're on the right road," Alejandra Holzapfel, another of the victims who, along with Ayress Moreno and two other companions, presented the complaint over sexual harassment committed at the Pinochet regime's so-called Venda Sexy, Londres 38, Tejas Verdes and Villa Grimaldi detention centers between 1973 and 1990.

With this complaint, the four plaintiffs, Holzapfel, Ayress Moreno, Soledad Castillo and Nora Brito, are leaving to the Chilean justice system the decision to take up the case, which could set a precedent for punishing crimes involving sexual violence for political ends in the South American nation.

The crimes in question are still not enumerated in the Chilean Penal Code under the concept of torture but rather under "illegitimate pressure," and that is the way in which many of their perpetrators have managed to elude punishment.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2014/12/01/complaint-over-sexual-abuse-during-pinochet-dictatorship-proceeding-in-chile/

‘Colombian paramilitaries’ attack army post in Venezuela

‘Colombian paramilitaries’ attack army post in Venezuela
Dec 1, 2014 posted by Piotr Wojciak

Alleged Colombian paramilitaries attacked a military police post across the border in Venezuela, according to the local governor.

According to the governor of the southern Venezuelan state of Tachira, Jose Gregorio Vielma, the attack by “presumed paramilitaries” was carried out in the early morning hours on Sunday and aimed to recover 40,000 liters of confiscated contraband gasoline.

The new act of aggression from the group presumably composed of Colombian paramilitaries was recorded just days after at least 14 alleged drug traffickers from Colombia were killed in a confrontation between two rival drug trafficking organizations across the border.

MORE: 14 killed in combat between Colombia drug gangs on Venezuela border

“This new upsurge in Colombian armed groups on Venezuelan soil is proof of an increased mobilization of the paramilitaries in the border region,” said Vielma Mora.


Why the murder rate in Honduras is twice as high as anywhere else

Why the murder rate in Honduras is twice as high as anywhere else
The Conversation
29 Nov 2014 at 10:37 ET

~ snip ~
Cops and coups

Honduras, like other parts of Central America, is in the direct transport route for narcotics moving northwards, which foments both violence and corruption. Local narco influences either take advantage of weak state capacity or simply transplant state authority in a given locality. Increasing areas of Honduran territory are under the control of narco interests, while an estimated 50% of the Honduran police force have been corrupted by drug gangs. Trust in the institution is among the lowest in the region.

These police shortcomings have deeply political roots. In 2009 the elected president Manuel Zelaya was removed from office by the military and sent to neighbouring Costa Rica (still in his pyjamas). While the coup did not cause the high murder rates in Honduras, two issues make it relevant.

First, it exposed the subservience of state institutions to the political and economic interests of the elite who had Zelaya removed. The move was deemed wholly constitutional by both the supreme court and the legislature despite its widespread condemnation by domestic and international actors, including US President Obama.

Second and more pertinently here, the coup and its aftermath unleashed a wave of political violence that targeted a range of activists, including journalists and human rights defenders. UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) figures show that after the coup the murder rate increased from 60.8 per 100,000 in 2008 to 81.8 in 2010, 91.4 in 2011 and 90.4 in 2012.

Violence begets violence

Political elites used the existing context of insecurity to attribute much of this violence to common crime, while conservative pro-coup groups unleashed a targeted campaign of violence against women and LGBT groups. Most of the ensuing murders have not been investigated.

Illicit groups such as criminal gangs and drug cartels took advantage of the wider context of impunity to consolidate their position in the country. Wealthy business groups who pursue profit with little regard for the human costs have meanwhile consolidated channels of corruption. For example in one northern region, the Bajo Aguan, more than 140 peasants have been killed since 2009 in conflicts over land tenure after they were evicted to make way for massive African palm-oil plantations. At stake is fertile land and massive profits.

Witness statements claim that they have been killed by private militia forces, which operate with the tacit consent of government forces. Many of those who work for these private companies are off-duty military or fall under their protection, thus not only blurring the lines between public and private agents but also guaranteeing themselves impunity for their crimes.


A Storm is Coming: In the White City

Weekend Edition November 28-30, 2014

A Storm is Coming

In the White City


In the White City, all the days are beautiful days. The weather is temperate and mild. The parks are spacious and gleam with care. People stroll with elegant animals, talking on the latest devices, filling the cafes at all hours of the day. In the coffeehouses where the best coffee in the world is brewed cup-by-cup for them, they sit in parallel rows like they did as children in school, seeing no one else now, gazing intently into the white screens of their gleaming devices.

There are hardly any old people or school-aged children left in the White City. Everyone is slim and trim.

Except for one woman, standing outside a busy expensive grocery store where all the food is healthy, her hands clenched on the handle of a shopping cart which does not contain healthy food, or any food. Her face is twisted in madness. Her clothes are filthy. She screams and screams.

The busy shoppers gaze blankly past her, checking their devices as they go in and out of the gleaming store, their brown bags filled with healthy food.

In the Black City, whole blocks are empty, the houses crumble, the yards are full of weeds, the police are dressed like storm troopers in a movie of the future and tanks crawl the streets. The water is cut off when you can’t pay for it. The weather veers to wild extremes, the summers sweltering, the houses turning into ovens, the winters freezing, the houses burning through precious fuel that, like the water, is the difference between life and death and yet, unlike life and death, is not available to everyone for free.


The Bizarre Compulsion of Black Men to “Reach for their Waistbands”

Weekend Edition November 28-30, 2014

Waistband-Reaching Syndrome Could Get You Killed

The Bizarre Compulsion of Black Men to “Reach for their Waistbands”


If police accounts are to be believed, there is a bizarre urge among young, unarmed black men to provoke their own murder by “reaching for their waistbands” when cops are aiming service revolvers at them.

Just this week we heard Officer Darren Wilson claim that one of the reasons he killed Michael Brown was that the young man “reached for his waistband,” and–in what I guess was just an incredibly weird coincidence–we heard Cleveland police claim they killed a 12-year-old kid with a toy gun because he also “reached for his waistband.”

But this odd compulsion is not a new one. In 2011, fully half of all the young black men shot by LA cops were cut down because–again, if police accounts are to be believed–they too were “reaching for their waistbands.” The epidemic also spread to Houston, where multiple police accounts cite the same excuse. Oscar Grant, the young man killed by Oakland cops on a subway platform–and the subject of the movie “Fruitvale Station”–was shot for the exact same reason.

If police accounts are to be believed, this compulsion only exists among young black men. I have been approached by angry or frustrated cops several times in my life–twice as an angry young protestor, eager to defy them– and have never felt even the slightest urge to reach for my waistband. Maybe white skin contains a protein that protects against this terrible compulsion?


The corporate nullification of the human right to water: the case of El Salvador

The corporate nullification of the human right to water: the case of El Salvador
Ed Atkins 28 November 2014

Multinational corporations are increasing their control over valuable fresh water supplies, particularly in Latin America. But the people of El Salvador are fighting back.

As we enter a new period of Neoliberalism 3.0, the global economic system has become increasingly characterised as one in which natural resources are appropriated for private extraction and gain. These ‘resource grabs’ have seen the transfer of the control and benefits of a resource from communities to powerful, private actors. Ranging from land grabbing for the biofuels industry to the appropriation of the earth’s minerals, such processes push many communities to the peripheries of society, allowing large multi-national corporations to reap the benefits of the resources in question.

At the heart of this global process lies freshwater and the dissolution of the already-vague human right to fresh, clean and accessible drinking water. In many parts of the world, local waterscapes have been dramatically transformed through the neoliberal era and its commodification of water. The hydrosocial flow of the resource, already dogged by the battles of gender, class and other power hierarchies, has become dominated by international finance. This is particularly evident in the nation of El Salvador.

Despite being the region’s smallest country, El Salvador has the third largest economy in Central America and is the region’s most densely populated country. However it suffers from unprecedented levels of environmental stress and degradation. Even before accounting for the process of water grabbing, access to clean drinking water is a national problem – with demand consistently outpacing supply. An estimated 90% of its surface water is contaminated, and a 2012 survey found that only 69.8% of the nation’s rural households have piped access to water, compared to a figure of 93.5% in the urban areas. In the growing industrial area of Nejapa, located 20km north of the capital, San Salvador, problems of water-stress and restricted access have been exacerbated by the private activity of some of the world’s biggest, most profitable companies.

Things go better with Coke

The aquifer beneath Nejapa is one of El Salvador’s largest and is integral to the communities around it, providing an important resource for local farms, towns and a large part of the nearby capital. The largest brewer in El Salvador, Industrias La Constancia (ILC) transferred its bottling operations to the town of Galera Quemada in 1999 – digging two wells into the local aquifer, before being acquired by the world’s second largest brewer SABMiller, (the South African company, based in London, most famous for the Fosters, Grolsch and Peroni brands) in 2005. The operations at the ILC Nejapa plant also include soft-drink bottling operations for Coca Cola. As a result, ILC has become a local subsidiary for both multinational drinks companies.


Colombian army executed 4,382 civilians between 2002-2008

Colombian army executed 4,382 civilians between 2002-2008
Nov 27, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin

Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has revealed that the number of extrajudicial executions by state agents has risen to 4,382, indicating more than 160 victims have been identified this year, according to local media.

The “false positives” scandal is centered around the extrajudicial killings of civilians by members of the armed forces who dressed their victims as guerrillas in order to present them as combat kills.

A total of 2,225 cases of false positives are being investigated in which 4,919 state agents, mostly from the army, have been implicated, according to Blu Radio. The number of implicated military and police personnel has increased by nearly 150 since January of this year.


While governmental and non-governmental organizations had been denouncing the practice for years, the Colombian government of then-President Alvaro Uribe denied the armed forces were killing civilians until late 2008 when prosecution investigators linked the bodies of unidentified rebel fighters found in the north of the country to people who had been reported missing in Soacha, a city south of the capital Bogota.


Mexican authorities accused of persecuting peaceful protesters

Mexican authorities accused of persecuting peaceful protesters

Eleven demonstrators charged with attempted murder and riot after mass protest in capital over disappearance of 43 students

Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
Tuesday 25 November 2014 15.27 EST

Human rights groups have accused Mexican authorities of using arbitrary detentions, trumped-up charges and excessive force in an attempt to quell a mass protest movement unleashed by the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students.

The complaints centre on the indictment for attempted murder, criminal association and rioting of 11 protesters who were arrested after masked youths clashed with police in the central Zócalo square, following a huge and mostly peaceful march through the capital last Thursday.

Supporters of the 11 accused insist that they had nothing to do with the violence, alleging that several of the detainees were arrested later, during an aggressive police operation to disperse the crowd.

“There is no evidence that they did anything other than attend the march,” said Fernando Ríos of the Mexican human rights network All Rights for Everybody. “What we do know is that the police used excessive force as they cleared the Zócalo.”

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