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Judi Lynn

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Brazil's capoeira gains UN cultural heritage status

26 November 2014 Last updated at 15:41 ET
Brazil's capoeira gains UN cultural heritage status

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Capoeira dancers on a beach in Brazil The movements of capoeira require great bodily dexterity
Capoeira - a Brazilian martial art form combining dance - has been given a special protected status by Unesco, the UN's cultural arm.

A Unesco representative said defining capoeira as "intangible cultural heritage" would help Brazil preserve the tradition.

Capoeira was originally created by African slaves to keep their fighting skills alive, disguising it a dance.

It is performed by two players who dance on their hands and feet.

A combination of martial art, dance and sport, capoeira is performed to percussion and chanting.

It requires great physical strength and flexibility and is regarded as being of immense acrobatic beauty.


Celebrating the Genocide of Native Americans

November 26, 2014

Celebrating the Genocide of Native Americans


The sad reality about the United States of America is that in a matter of a few hundreds years it managed to rewrite its own history into a mythological fantasy. The concepts of liberty, freedom and free enterprise in the “land of the free, home of the brave” are a mere spin. The US was founded and became prosperous based on two original sins: firstly, on the mass murder of Native Americans and theft of their land by European colonialists; secondly, on slavery. This grim reality is far removed from the fairytale version of a nation that views itself in its collective consciousness as a virtuous universal agent for good and progress. The most recent version of this mythology was expressed by Ronald Reagan when he said that “America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”

In rewriting its own history about Thanksgiving, white America tells a Disney-like fairytale about the English pilgrims and their struggle to survive in a new and harsh environment. The pilgrims found help from the friendly and extremely generous Native-American tribe, the Wampanoag Indians, in 1621. Unfortunately for Native Americans, the European settlers’ gratitude was short-lived. By 1637, Massachusetts governor John Winthrop ordered the massacre of thousands of Pequot Indian men, women and children. This event marked the start of a Native-American genocide that would take slightly more than 200 years to complete, and of course to achieve its ultimate goal, which was to take the land from Native Americans and systematically plunder their resources. The genocide begun in 1637 marks the beginning of the conquest of the entire continent until most Native Americans were exterminated, a few were assimilated into white society, and the rest were put in reservations to dwindle and die.

When Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas in 1492, on his quest for gold and silver, the Native population, which he erroneously called Indians, numbered an estimated 15 million who lived north of current day Mexico. It was, by all considerations, a thriving civilization. Three hundred and fifty years later, the Native American population north of Mexico would be reduced to less than a million. This genocide was brought upon the Natives by systematic mass murder and also by disease, notably smallpox, spread by the European colonists.

Columbus and his successors proto-capitalist propensity for greed was foreign to Native Americans. They viewed the land as tribal collective ownership, not as a property that could be owned by individuals. “Columbus and his successors were not coming to an empty wilderness, but into a world which, in some places, was as densely populated as Europe, and where the culture was complex, where human relations were more egalitarian than in Europe, and where the relations between men, women, children and nature were more beautifully worked out than perhaps in any other places in the world.” wrote Howard Zinn in his masterful A People’s History of the United States.


USAID Supported Fujimori Sterilization Campaign; Seeks to Cover-Up Involvement

USAID Supported Fujimori Sterilization Campaign; Seeks to Cover-Up Involvement

Steven W. Mosher 2003 Sep 1

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined forces with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to support Peru’s aggressive population control program of the late nineties. Then-President Alberto Fujimori was determined to meet international population targets, particularly among Peru’s large ethnic population, and launched an involuntary sterilization campaign with USAID assistance.

A Peruvian official who later complained about USAID involvement, Peru’s former Minister of Health Fernando Carbone, found himself defamed by the U.S. agency, whose pro-abortion partisans were also upset by his opposition to the abortion-inducing morning-after pill. Carbone’s removal from office followed.

Forced Population Control

Following the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, Fujimori was determined to achieve by force what his Ministry of Health had failed to achieve through voluntary family planning, namely to lower the Peruvian birthrate. With the support of USAID and UNFPA, he devised a national plan to sterilize large numbers of Peruvian women.1 The plan, called the Emergency and Alternative Plan, called for an all-out mobilization of the country’s medical personnel to carry out tubal ligations. Fujimori’s Emergency and Alternative Plan relied upon "sterilization festivals" to round up and sterilize large numbers of women. This plan had USAID’s blessing and support.

In 1997, with support and cooperation from USAID, Fujimori established the Family Planning Policies Coordination National Commission (COORDIPLAN) to fully implement his Emergency Plan. That year alone, almost ninety thousand women were sterilized. Over 300,000 women would be sterilized in all.2 Ethnic women were routinely called "pigs" or “dogs” in order to intimidate them to undergo sterilization. Bribes, incentives, and threats of withholding basic services were also used. Sometimes women were sterilized by brute force, or without their foreknowledge or consent during delivery. Sterilizations took place in filthy, USAID-funded clinics. Several women, including Alejandra Aguirre Auccapina and Juana Rosa Ochoa Chira, died shortly after involuntary sterilization procedures.3

Sterilization Programs Evidence of USAID’s close collaboration with Fujimori’s sterilization campaign abounds. For example, USAID funded programs to train military doctors to perform sterilizations, this at a time when the military was being drafted to help carry out the Emergency Plan. USAID also provided generous funding, on the order of $40 million, to Peruvian "non-governmental organizations" (NGOs) involved in the Emergency Plan. For instance, $5 million went to REPROSALUD, an NGO which was “formed alter an agreement between the Manuela Ramos Movement, ALTERNATIVA and USAID." The purpose of REPROSALUD was to promote to ethnic minorities only those methods of family planning approved by the government, which at the time meant sterilization. Women were to be discouraged from bearing additional children or refusing sterilization. USAID also provided $17 million to the Peruvian Programs for Reproductive Health and Family Planning (PRISMA), which distributed USAID contraceptives "in areas in which sterilization festivals were held" and which served as a clearinghouse for funding smaller NGOs that performed involuntary sterilization. USAID provided $18 million to CARE for training doctors to perform sterilization and supplying sterilization equipment used in the coercive campaigns.4


The artistic campaign to help 300,000 Peruvian women sterilised against their will

The artistic campaign to help 300,000 Peruvian women sterilised against their will

During the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of poor women in rural areas of Peru were forcibly sterilised, often without their knowledge - and ahead of the next presidential election, artists are helping campaigners finally find justice.

by Iain Aitch Published 24 November, 2014 - 11:39

The most stirring art has the ability to make us stop, think and even act, but a new interactive documentary made in Peru may just help decide the political future of the whole country. Created as a result of collaboration between the University of Bristol and London-based Chaka Studio, the Quipu project relays the story of a recent and very dark moment in Peruvian history. As many as 300,000 women in rural areas of Peru were possibly hoodwinked into being sterilised during the mid-to-late 1990s, all in the name of bringing an end to poverty.

The scale of the heinous medical campaign remained buried until recently, as the village areas most affected did not know that both neighbouring and far-flung areas had also been hit. Various legal cases on the issue brought against right-wing former-president Alberto Fujimori have hit the buffers and the local headlines, but the story has largely remained unknown outside the urban centres of Peru.

“I was working for Amnesty International in Peru in the 1990s and nobody knew this was going on,” says Matthew Brown of the University of Bristol. “Awareness has been growing in the last three years, partly because of our project and partly because of the efforts of victims groups. These women were sterilised at 20 and now they are coming up to 45 with no one to look after them in old age. That was the community welfare safety net.”

Brown had been looking for a creative way to get the story out there via social media, but it was not until he and fellow researcher Karen Tucker met with the team behind production company Chaka Studio that the solution became clear. The teams hooked up via Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded React Hub, an organisation set up to bring academics, artists and creative businesses together.


Texas says Scott Panetti is sane enough to execute, and that is insane

Texas says Scott Panetti is sane enough to execute, and that is insane
Katie Halper
26 Nov 2014 at 15:24 ET

Texas plans to kill Scott Panetti Wednesday December 3rd for the murder of his in-laws. The state argues that the 58-year-old paranoid schizophrenic is sane enough to be executed. And that, ironically, is inane… or dishonest and cruel. The state reaffirmed its commitment to not only capital punishment, but executing the mentally ill, in particular, on Tuesday, when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied yet another motion for a stay of execution for Panetti. Not that it matters to Texas, apparently, but the evidence of Panetti’s severe mental illness is overwhelming. His upcoming lethal injection is even more criminal given that his mental health history is well documented and goes back nearly thirty years! Let’s take a look at the evidence of not just Panetti’s mental illness, but the numerous ways the courts and the state have failed him.

1.Scott Panetti was first diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 20 at the Brook Army Medical Center, shortly after being honorably discharged from the Navy in 1978.

2.Over the next 14 years leading up to the crime, Panetti was hospitalized thirteen times, both voluntarily and involuntarily and his shizophrenia and paranoid schizophrenia were diagnosed again and again.

3.The Social Secuirty Administration deemed that Panetti’s schizophrenia was so debilitating, it entitled him to government benefits in 1986.

4.Panetti hallucinated that he killed the devil who was in his home, then washed the devil’s blood off the walls.


In Darren Wilson's Testimony, Familiar Themes About Black Men

In Darren Wilson's Testimony, Familiar Themes About Black Men
November 26, 2014 3:11 PM ET
Frederica Boswell

After Michael Brown was shot dead in August, his mother, Leslie McSpadden, said, "My son was sweet. He didn't mean any harm to anybody." He was, she said, "a gentle giant."

But when police officer Darren Wilson fired the shot that ended Brown's life, he saw things differently. "I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan," he said in his testimony to the grand jury. "That's just how big he felt and how small I felt." Wilson said "the only way" he could describe Brown's "intense aggressive face" was that it looked like "a demon." He feared for his life.

Many observers, such as Slate's Jamelle Bouie and Vox's Lauren Williams, pointed out that Wilson's testimony has historical echoes of the "black brute" caricatures which portrayed black men as savage, destructive criminals.

After the Civil War, many white writers argued that the institution of slavery was what kept the supposed savagery of black men in check, and also justified the punishments that they met. In his reconstruction-era novel, Red Rock, for example, Thomas Nelson Page wrote of a black politician – a "repulsive creature," Moses – who tried to rape a white woman: "He gave a snarl of rage and sprang at her like a wild beast," he wrote.


Efforts to Curb Destructive Palm Oil Plantations Brings Together Strange Bedfellows

OpEdNews Op Eds 11/26/2014 at 13:23:37
Efforts to Curb Destructive Palm Oil Plantations Brings Together Strange Bedfellows
By Richard Schiffman

(image by macinate)

Orangutans are being displaced by palm-oil development in Indonesia

Will corporations and activists join forces to end deforestation in Indonesia?

September brought good news for the world's forests with the unveiling of the New York Declaration on Forests at the UN Climate Summit. The Declaration, which pledges to end global deforestation by 2030, was signed by 130 governments, including the US, Germany, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Perhaps most significantly, it was also backed by commitments from 40 major food corporations to eliminate from their supply chain palm oil grown on deforested lands.

That's a big deal, given that palm oil has been the single largest driver of tropical deforestation in recent years. When the medical establishment deemed trans-fats heart-unhealthy in the mid-1990s, demand for the supposedly more benign palm oil soared, increasing nearly six-fold since the year 2000. Palm oil is now used in nearly half of all foods on supermarket shelves, added to everything from breakfast cereals to margarine to potato chips. It is also an ingredient in shampoo, soaps, cosmetics, toothpaste, and laundry detergents, and is used as a feedstock for biofuels.

Palm oil is cheap. It is the highest yielding oil crop in the world, and the most abundant. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that every hour, an area of rainforest the size of 300 football fields is cleared to make way for new palm oil production -- mainly in Indonesia, the country with the highest rate of deforestation in the world.

At this breakneck and still accelerating pace, 98 percent of the Indonesian rainforest will be gone by 2022, and along with it one of the greatest remaining biodiversity treasure troves on Earth. The palm oil boom has been a disaster for the orangutan, the Sumatran tiger, the clouded leopard, the pigmy elephant, and countless lesser known endangered species whose homelands are rapidly being converted to large-scale plantations.


Colombia exhumes murdered guerrilla leader

Source: Associated Press

Colombia exhumes murdered guerrilla leader
By LIBARDO CARDONA, Associated Press | November 26, 2014 | Updated: November 26, 2014 11:50am

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia is digging up the remains of a former guerrilla leader who was assassinated 25 years ago while running for president in one of the most emblematic crimes committed during a wave of terror against leftist activists.

Carlos Pizarro was killed when an assailant opened fire with a machine gun inside a crowded airliner in midflight.
Authorities on Wednesday dug up Pizarro's remains and those of his assailant to resolve one of the crime's nagging doubts: whether bodyguards assigned by the state to protect the politician also had a hand in his murder.

"There's evidence in the case that doesn't add up," Maria Jose Pizarro, the slain politician's daughter, told The Associated Press as forensic specialists removed the marble tombstone covering the remains in Bogota's Central Cemetery. "It suggests there's a campaign to stop any progress from being made in the investigation."

The former M-19 rebel leader was the third candidate killed during the 1990 presidential race. At the time, leftists and anti-corruption crusaders were being hounded by right-wing paramilitaries aligned with powerful drug cartels.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Colombia-exhumes-murdered-guerrilla-leader-5919607.php

(My emphasis.)


Carlos Pizarro[/center]

Cleveland to release video of boy shot by officer

Source: Associated Press

Cleveland to release video of boy shot by officer
By MARK GILLISPIE, Associated Press | November 26, 2014 | Updated: November 26, 2014 12:39pm

CLEVELAND (AP) — City police plan to release the names of the two officers involved in the shooting death of a 12-year-old boy, along with dispatch calls and a surveillance video that authorities say clearly shows what happened.
The evidence and names will be made public at a briefing early Wednesday afternoon.

Tamir Rice died at a hospital after being shot Saturday by an officer who had responded to a call about someone with a gun at a Cleveland playground. Police say Tamir was told to raise his hands but instead reached into his waistband for what appeared to be a firearm. Police later determined it was an airsoft gun, which shoots small plastic pellets, that did not have an orange safety indicator at the end of the barrel.

Police Chief Calvin Williams told Cleveland City Council members at a safety committee hearing Wednesday morning that police will be making the evidence public "so that people can come to their own conclusions."

The family's attorneys saw the video Monday. They later called for the full footage to be released publicly. City officials had withheld the video, saying that it was evidence and that they wanted to be sensitive to the family, the community and the officer, whom they described as distraught.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Cleveland-to-release-video-of-boy-shot-by-officer-5918940.php

Colombia intelligence official arrested for ‘psychological torture’ of journalist

Source: Colombia Reports

Colombia intelligence official arrested for ‘psychological torture’ of journalist
Nov 25, 2014 posted by Victoria McKenzie

Claudia Duque

The Prosecutor General’s office has captured a seventh member of Colombia’s now-defunct secret police wanted in connection to the psychological abuse of a journalist.

To date, three high-level officials of Colombia’s former intelligence agency (DAS) are on trial and three more have pled guilty to the “psychological torture” of journalist Claudia Duque, who was investigating the 1999 murder of another journalist.

According to the Colombian Foundation for Freedom of the Press, Duque received repeated phone threats between 2003 and 2004, including one that elaborated the torture and rape of her 10-year-old daughter.
Duque was threatened in reprisal for her investigations into the 1999 murder of another journalist, Jamie Garzon, whose assassination has been linked to paramilitary organization AUC and the DAS.

The Garzon case

At the time she began receiving death threats, Duque was looking into irregularities in the case of Jaime Garzon, a popular Colombian journalist and satirist who was gunned down in 1999. Although police have captured two key suspects in the case, investigations have nonetheless stalled in the system for over 15 years. According to the Colombian Commission of Jurors, the prosecution has been hampered by criminal acts, including “deliberate diversion” by former government officials linked to the murder.

Read more: http://colombiareports.co/colombia-intelligence-official-arrested-psychological-torture-journalist/
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