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Judi Lynn

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Mexican boy recovering after huge tumor removed

Source: Associated Press

Mexican boy recovering after huge tumor removed
By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press | November 25, 2014 | Updated: November 25, 2014 8:09am

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An 11-year-old Mexican boy with a massive tumor who drew international attention when U.S. officials helped him get treatment in New Mexico is still recovering after an 11-hour surgery to remove pieces of the growth.

And he got a surprise visitor while resting.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez visited Jose Antonio Ramirez Serrano on Monday, a week after the Ciudad Juarez-born boy underwent the risky procedure to remove what doctors called multiple cysts, spongy-soft tissue and a conglomeration of blood vessels.

Around a third of the watermelon-sized tumor was expunged and the boy now faces months of physical therapy, according to doctors at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

"In the operating room, we encountered more bleeding than expected," said Pediatric Surgeon Cynthia Reyes, who led the surgery team. But Reyes said the team was able to get the bleeding under control and the 97-pound boy is recovering in an intensive care unit.

"He's had an amazing attitude during the whole thing," said Jimmy Windsor, director of Pediatric Cardiac Anesthesia at the hospital.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/medical/article/Mexican-boy-who-had-massive-tumor-recovering-5915928.php#photo-7189017

The Reporter Who Paid a High Price for ‘Contra Crack’

November 20, 2014

The Reporter Who Paid a High Price for ‘Contra Crack’

A new film, Kill the Messenger, shows how the CIA, the Washington Post and the LA Times conspired to discredit a journalist, and destroyed a life.

BY Jim Naureckas

In Kill the Messenger, Gary Webb, the investigative journalist who exposed the contra-crack connection, is portrayed by Jeremy Renner—most familiar to a mass audience as Hawkeye in The Avengers, but known to film buffs for appearing in gritty, based-on-real-life films like The Hurt Locker and American Hustle. Kill the Messenger, which Renner also co-produced, is in that docudrama genre. More specifically, it recalls films like the 2010 Valerie Plame biopic Fair Game, where the story is not only true, but one that corporate news media would rather you not know. Kill the Messenger is a story about the story that the San Jose Mercury News reporter gave up his career to get out.

The movie opens with historical footage of the war on drugs: presidents from Nixon to Reagan declaring it, Nancy Reagan urging us to just say no, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America comparing our drugged brains to breakfast, news outlets reporting the crack epidemic. A later montage shows footage of the other “war” of the time: speeches about the Cold War, along with shots of the contra war in Central America, in which rebels organized by the CIA attempted to overthrow the socialist government of Nicaragua. (In These Times was one of the few outlets to cover the story while the war was still ongoing; for most in corporate media, the cognitive dissonance was too much to handle.)

As most people who go to see the film will know, Webb’s scoop of a lifetime was drawing a connection between these two major 1980s news stories, so successfully that it’s almost hard now not to think of them together, “contra crack” tripping off the tongue like “French bread” or “English muffins.”

The montages succeed in recalling how weird—and shocking—it originally was that Ronald Reagan’s favorite foreign policy endeavor would be intimately connected with a product so universally demonized.


Journalists Aren’t Covering Local Elections. Our Democracy Is Suffering Because of It.

November 21, 2014

Journalists Aren’t Covering Local Elections. Our Democracy Is Suffering Because of It.

What if you held an election and nobody showed up to cover it? Americans now know the answer: elections with lots of paid ads but little journalism, context or objective facts.

BY David Sirota

On a warm October night toward the end of the 2014 campaign, almost every politician running for a major office here in the swing state of Colorado appeared at a candidate forum in southeast Denver. The topics discussed were pressing: a potential war with ISIS, voting rights, a still-struggling economy. But one key element was in conspicuously short supply: the media.

This was increasingly the reality in much of the country, as campaigns played out in communities where the local press corps has been thinned by layoffs and newspaper closures. What if you held an election and nobody showed up to cover it? Americans have now discovered the answer: You get an election with lots of paid ads, but with little journalism, context or objective facts.

Between 2003 and 2012, the newspaper workforce decreased by 30 percent nationally, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. That has included a major reduction in the number of newspaper reporters assigned to cover state and local politics. Newspaper layoffs have ripple effects for the entire local news ecosystem, because, as the Congressional Research Service noted, television, radio and online outlets often “piggyback on reporting done by much larger newspaper staffs.” Meanwhile, recent studies from the University of Chicago and the Federal Reserve Bank suggest the closure of newspapers can ultimately depress voter turnout in local elections.

Colorado is a microcosm of the hollowing out of local media. In 2009, the state lost its second-largest newspaper with the shuttering of the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News. The state's only remaining major daily, the Denver Post, has had rolling layoffs.


What the Media Are Not Telling You About the Late Marion Barry

What the Media Are Not Telling You About the Late Marion Barry
Dave Zirin on November 23, 2014 - 11:58 PM ET

A bevy of right-wing pundits, radio jocks and late-night comics will mock the passing of four-time DC mayor Marion Barry. In life and death, his enemies will take their shots without trying to understand why people—particularly the marginalized and criminalized—mourn his passing. Barry’s talent—and his sin in the eyes of the powerful—was the ability to organize a true urban political machine comprised of black residents in the old style of the white ethnic political bosses. Like the bosses of yesteryear, he gave and he took. He had vices both political and personal and he knew how to count votes. But Barry also understood social movements. He came out of the black freedom struggle in the 1960s where racists flicked lit cigarettes into his face. Barry always knew how to wear his scars like medals.

As the misinformation—and some lionization—flies, here are fourteen facts about Marion Barry to help decode the demonization, and a couple of memories about times our paths crossed.

1. Barry quit his graduate studies in chemistry at Fisk University to become an organizer in the civil rights movement—most famously with the student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was one of the more conservative members of SNCC where he fought alongside—and fought with—revolutionaries like Stokely Carmichael. It was reform vs. revolution amidst the rapid real time of a black freedom struggle exponentially expanding.

2. After moving to Washington, DC, in the mid-1960s, Barry organized a citywide boycott in response to bus fare hikes and against police brutality. Barry also organized hundreds of working class and poor black men into an organization called Pride, which helped people get jobs as well as organizing them as a voting bloc.


Lessons from Bolivia: re-nationalising the hydrocarbon industry

Lessons from Bolivia: re-nationalising the hydrocarbon industry
Stephan Lefebvre and Jeanette Bonifaz 24 November 2014

In Bolivia, renationalisation of the hydrocarbon industry has been a huge economic success.

CMI Cochabamba

President Evo Morales came to power in Bolivia in 2006 amid widespread discontent. The country had been experiencing a long-term economic growth failure, with income per capita in 2005 lower than it was 27 years prior, and privatization efforts had been widely unpopular, including with the indigenous majority. Conflicts over natural resources, most notably the water and gas wars of 2000 and 2003, respectively, led to the resignations of Presidents Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in 2003 and Carlos Mesa in 2005. The Morales administration marked a dramatic turn-around for the country. The economy began to grow, experiencing its fastest growth in decades. Bolivia increased its sovereignty over economic policy; social spending increased by 45 percent from 2005-2012 and poverty was reduced by 25 percent from 2005-2011. In order to achieve these results, President Morales nationalized the hydrocarbons sector by decree early during his first year in office, allowing his government to engage in effective redistribution and macroeconomic policies that benefited the poorest segments of society.

For decades, natural resources extraction in Bolivia has alternated between public and private control. The oil and gas industries in Bolivia were privatized in 1996 through Hydrocarbons Law No. 1689 in a process heavily supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as part of a neoliberal reform plan to increase foreign investment in those industries. YPFB (Bolivia’s state hydrocarbons company) was divided into three companies and 50 percent of the shares were auctioned to the private sector, a process that turned control of YPFB’s major assets over to private companies. The winners of the auction, including Enron, Shell and Repsol YPF, were not asked to pay for their shares; instead they simply committed themselves to investing an amount at least equal to the sale “price” over a period of seven years, the epitome of neoliberal governments giving away state assets.1 Additional efforts to attract foreign capital included lowering royalties and taxation rates on the gas industry from 50 percent to 18 percent. International companies were allowed to take possession of any hydrocarbons they extracted, except for a small amount slated for domestic consumption in Bolivia.

Foreign investment and production increased, and new natural gas deposits were found, but the public sector’s chronic fiscal deficit worsened. Rather than attempt to raise taxes on the immensely profitable hydrocarbons industry, now dominated by foreign corporations, the government announced it would create an income tax (the so-called “impuestazo” of 2003) despite prevailing low wages, high unemployment, and high levels of poverty. At around the same time, the government announced plans aimed at raising revenues by expanding gas exports with a pipeline through Chile, which would enable sales to the U.S. and Mexico.

CMI Cochabamba

As the public’s backlash against these policies increased, and the country was immobilized by protests. Following the killing of over 60 protesters by state security forces, President Sánchez de Lozada resigned and fled the country, and Carlos Mesa took office in 2003, calling for a referendum on the energy sector to take place in 2004. 92 percent of voters supported nationalizing Bolivia’s gas and 87 percent supported repealing the 1996 privatization law.2


Mexico’s Military & Political Class In The Eye of Ayotzinapa Storm

Mexico’s Military & Political Class In The Eye of Ayotzinapa Storm
By Ted Lewis, www.huffingtonpost.com
November 22nd, 2014

Troubling Questions on Role of Military in Ayotzinapa Case as National Crisis Builds

Political Class and Governing Institutions Discredited on a Scale Not Seen for Generations

When Iguala, Guerrero municipal police and masked men in unmarked black uniforms opened fire on unarmed students from the Ayotzinapa teachers college last September, killing six people and kidnapping 43 students, they lit the fuse of a national crisis.

The atrocity triggered outrage because it illuminated the shadowy collaboration between local police, political bosses, militarized criminal gangs, and other state actors. It also raised deeply troubling questions about the role of Mexico’s armed forces that remain unanswered.

Mexico’s political class and governing institutions are suddenly under attack and discredited on a scale not seen for generations. The poor, angry, politically savvy and mostly rural families of the murdered and disappeared students are at the lead of a fast growing dissident movement that has the attention and sympathy of tens of millions of Mexicans. It should have the attention of the U.S. public and foreign policy decision makers as well.

A confrontation looms. Last week the families of the 43 disappeared students rejected the findings of the Mexican Attorney General who declared the students dead. His findings were based on the confessions of alleged participants, who described mass slaughter and the burning of corpses at a garbage dump.


Relatives question honor for civil rights workers

Source: Associated Press

Relatives question honor for civil rights workers
By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS, Associated Press | November 23, 2014 | Updated: November 23, 2014 11:43am

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Three civil rights workers who were killed by Ku Klux Klansmen in 1964 are going to be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but the honor makes some of their relatives uneasy.

They worry it could relegate the racial equality movement to history books when it should instead be seen as relevant as ever, particularly in light of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old in August.

A widow of one of the civil rights activists said the honor, which will be awarded Monday in a ceremony at the White House, "distorts history."

"There were not just three men who were part of a struggle. There were not just three men who were killed," Rita Schwerner Bender told The Associated Press in a phone interview from her law office in Seattle. "You know, the struggle in this country probably started with the first revolt on a slave ship, and it continues now."

The civil rights workers — Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman — were killed June 21, 1964, in Neshoba County, Mississippi. The FBI launched a massive investigation that it dubbed "Mississippi Burning," and the three bodies were found 44 days later, buried in an earthen dam.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Relatives-question-honor-for-civil-rights-workers-5912692.php

Partners in Crime: The Continental Capitalist Offensive and the Killing Fields of Mexico

Partners in Crime: The Continental Capitalist Offensive and the Killing Fields of Mexico

Part I: State Terror and the Murder of 43 Students

Richard Roman & Edur Velasco Arregui Human Rights November 23, 2014

The Mexican government, welcomed as a partner of the Canadian and U.S. governments in continental economic development (North American Free Trade Agreement – NAFTA) and continental security also happens to partner in crime and the slaughter of its own people. The murders and disappearances of the students from the Rural Normal “Raúl Isidro Burgos,” of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, was a crime of the State, as hundreds of thousands of Mexicans have claimed in their protests. The governmental investigation that followed the September 2014 attack on these students has been deliberately incompetent and not aimed at getting to the roots of the crime as these roots, in fact, are the tangled web of state-drug gang corruption and the state’s dirty war in defence of the neoliberal transformation of Mexico. The investigation has been staged, quite ineffectively, as a public relations operation to calm foreign investors and to cool out protest, efforts that have completely failed within Mexico. By claiming that the blame was at the local level, the corrupt collusion of a local mayor and his avaricious wife with a brutal cartel, it seeks to present itself, the national government, as the defender of justice.

But as Luis Hernández Navarro shows in his article, “La matanza de Iguala y el Ejército,” (The Iguala Massacre and the Army), there is – and has long been – a deep entanglement between the Army, the local government of Iguala, and drug production. Sixty per cent of the Mexican production of poppies and opium gum for making heroine comes from the state of Guerrero. The cities of Iguala and Chilpancingo are key centers for its storage and transportation. The Army is viewed by many as the real government of the state, a state with a history of guerrilla groups, militant protests and a long dirty war carried out by the army. As Francisco Goldman wrote in the New Yorker:

The Mexican Army, according to many journalists and other commentators, is the real government authority in Guerrero State. ‘The army knows that state millimetre by millimetre,’ a Mexican legislator pointed out in a recent speech, ‘and they know minute by minute what’s happening there.’ (“Crisis in Mexico: The Protests for the Missing Forty-Three,” The New Yorker.)

Intertwining of Government, Army and Drug Gangs

The intertwining of the government and armed forces with the drug gangs has a long history in Guerrero. Plaza Tamarindos in Iguala, a retail commercial center, built on land donated by the armed forces to José Luis Abarca, sits across from the military barracks. Abarca, now under arrest, accused of ordering the attack and having links to Guerreros Unidos, the drug gang, had been accused of ordering the murder of three protesters earlier. The investigation was not pursued. And Colonel Juan Antonio Aranda Torres, commander of the 27th Battallion, stationed in Iguala, claimed that he and his troops knew nothing of the attacks, though they took place within 100 meters of the army barracks. At the time, he was attending a fiesta organized by María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, the wife of Mayor Abarca, now also accused of ordering the attack and being connected to drug gangs. Though Aranda Torres was trained as an intelligence and counter-intelligence officer, he claims, like the three wise monkeys to have seen nothing, heard nothing, and he certainly has said nothing. (“La matanza de Iguala y el Ejército,” The Iguala Massacre and the Army).

This was not an isolated event. Unfortunately, torture, killings, and assassinations have become commonplace in Mexico with different levels of the police or armed forces involved as well as drug gangs. The 27th Battallion participated in the dirty war of the 1970s and 1980s. And Human Rights Watch, in a 2011 report, “Ni Seguridad, ni derechos” (Neither Security nor Rights) wrote that there is strong evidence that the 27th Battallion participated in the disappearance of six young people in Iguala in March 2010. These state crimes against humanity, sadly, are the rule not the exception in Mexico. Several months earlier, in June, 2014, the federal army carried out a mass execution of 22 young people in the same region, in the town of Tlatlaya, in the neighboring state of Mexico. The army and the federal government then attempted to cover up these executions in Tlatlaya. After journalists and human rights groups exposed the cover-up and mass execution, the government arrested some low ranking soldiers.


Maryland delegation should petition for release of Cuban Five

Maryland delegation should petition for release of Cuban Five
By Kurt L. Schmoke
November 21, 2014, 10:45 AM

In 1999, I accompanied the Baltimore Orioles on their historic trip to Havana, Cuba. This marked the first time since 1959 that a Major League Baseball team played in Cuba. Many of us hoped that a baseball game involving teams from the United States and Cuba might be a precursor to normalized diplomatic relations the way a ping-pong match signaled a change in U.S. relations with China. Unfortunately, those hopes were not fulfilled..

Recently, I visited Cuba to see how life had changed since the Orioles' visit. What I learned was that, on a people-to-people basis, the citizens of Cuba and the United States desire close ties and normal business relations, but the governments of our two countries remain stuck in Cold War-era political battles. Although both Cuban and American doctors are in West Africa fighting the Ebola crisis, such cooperation remains the exception rather than the rule.

One hears statements from some government officials about a willingness to begin a new era of diplomatic relations the way a new era seemed to begin in U.S.-Soviet relations with the destruction of the Berlin Wall. However, there always seems to be a roadblock erected just as the parties move forward. The current roadblock involves the imprisonment in Cuba of Maryland resident Alan Gross and the imprisonment in the United States of a group known as the Cuban Five. I believe that the Maryland delegation to Congress may hold the key to opening the prison doors for all these men and subsequently opening a new era of diplomacy for these two countries.

Alan Gross, a 65-year-old from Montgomery County, was arrested in Cuba in 1999 while working on a contract sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development to increase Internet access in small communities across the country. The Cuban government alleged that his work entailed acts detrimental to the Republic of Cuba (essentially labeling him a spy) and sentenced him to a term of 15 years. He has served four years. His friends and supporters indicate that he is in very poor health, having lost about 100 pounds while incarcerated.

The Cuban Five are, in fact, intelligence officers sent to Miami in the 1990s to collect information on local anti-Castro groups allegedly engaging in activities that violated U.S. law, including acts of violence designed to bring down the Castro regime. Although the U.S. government received evidence supporting those allegations, U.S. prosecutors targeted not the groups in question but instead the five Cuban intelligence officers. The government chose to prosecute the Cuban Five in — of all places — Miami.


Chilean ex-navy officers found guilty of murdering priest

Chilean ex-navy officers found guilty of murdering priest

Jose Manuel Garcia Reyes and Hector Palomino Lopez given three-year sentences for killing Michael Woodward 40 years ago

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Patricia Bennets holds up a placard with a picture of her brother priest Michael Woodward at a press conference in 1999.
Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP
Four decades after British Roman Catholic priest Michael Woodward was arrested, tortured and murdered by Chilean navy personnel during a coup led by notorious dictator general Augusto Pinochet, two of his killers have at last been found guilty by a local court. But while the sentence provides final recognition that he was kidnapped and taken to the four-masted navy training ship Esmeralda to be tortured, it does not provide a solution to one of the most painful mysteries left over from his murder – the whereabouts of his clandestine grave, which Chile's armed forces have done nothing to find.

The three-year sentences handed down to non-commissioned officers Jose Manuel Garcia Reyes and Hector Palomino Lopez fell far short of the aims of a tireless campaign by his sister Patricia Bennetts.
"The truth about what happened to Michael has been revealed," his sister said in a statement on Thursday. "We regret that Michael's body, hidden by the Chilean Navy, has still not been found."

The original court investigation involved 33 navy personnel, including four vice-admirals, but only seven were eventually brought to trial.
Threats of violence by supporters of Pinochet were part of a concentrated attempt to intimidate his septuagenarian sister and those who backed her quiet but tenacious campaign for justice.

On one occasion protesters tried to kick her when she arrived at court. On another, prosecutor Karina Fernandez had her house broken into and her laptop stolen, while the thieves deliberately left her jewellery and money on her bed. Investigating magistrate Eliana Quezada received regular death threats.


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Surely sounds like right-wingers, doesn't it?
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