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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 146,669

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‘Persistent challenges to labor rights’ in Colombia: US govt

‘Persistent challenges to labor rights’ in Colombia: US govt
Nov 19, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin

A recent report by the United States Government Office of Accountability (GAO) claims that, despite positive steps, labor rights face “persistent challenges” in Colombia.

According to the report, requested by the US Congress to assess the “status of (free trade agreement) labor provisions in partner countries,” the Colombian government has “acted to change labor laws” and “acted to address violence against union members.”

~snip~
“Workers attempting to organize and negotiate better working conditions and wages consistently face the threat of violence, including murder, and the loss of their jobs. Few if any of these murders, assaults, bombings, let alone hundreds of death threats, are fully investigated and prosecuted. Illegal sub-contracting remains common,” claimed McGovern, a member of the congressional Monitoring Group on Labor Rights in Colombia.

The Congressman claimed the Colombian government has failed to effectively implement worker protection policies, as “inspections by the Labor Ministry are infrequent and uneven in quality. And when sanctions are levied against abusive employers, they are generally ignored,” said the Congressman.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/persistent-challenges-labor-rights-colombia-us-govt/

Trade deals criminalise farmers' seeds

Trade deals criminalise farmers' seeds

GRAIN | 18 November 2014 | Against the grain

What could be more routine than saving seeds from one season to the next? After all, that is how we grow crops on our farms and in our gardens. Yet from Guatemala to Ghana, from Mozambique to Malaysia, this basic practice is being turned into a criminal offence, so that half a dozen large multinational corporations can turn seeds into private property and make money from them. But people are fighting back and in several countries popular mobilisations are already forcing governments to put seed privatisation plans on hold.

Trade agreements have become a tool of choice for governments, working with corporate lobbies, to push new rules to restrict farmers' rights to work with seeds. Until some years ago, the most important of these was the World Trade Organization's (WTO) agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Adopted in 1994, TRIPS was, and still is, the first international treaty to establish global standards for “intellectual property” rights over seeds.1 The goal is to ensure that companies like Monsanto or Syngenta, which spend money on plant breeding and genetic engineering, can control what happens to the seeds they produce by preventing farmers from re-using them – in much the same way as Hollywood or Microsoft try to stop people from copying and sharing films or software by putting legal and technological locks on them.

~snip~
Onslaught of FTAs

The North America Free Trade Agreement – signed by Mexico, Canada and the US, at about the same time TRIPS was being finalised – was one of the first trade deals negotiated outside the multilateral arena to carry with it the tighter seed privatisation noose. It obliged Mexico to join the UPOV club of countries giving exclusive rights to seed companies to stop farmers from recycling and reusing corporate seeds. This set a precedent for all US bilateral trade agreements that followed, while the European Union, the European Free Trade Association and Japan also jumped on the same idea.3

A nonstop process of diplomatic and financial pressure to get countries to privatise seeds “through the back door” (these trade deals are negotiated in secret) has been going on since then. The stakes are high for the seed industry. Globally, just 10 companies control 55% of the commercial seed market.4

More:
http://www.grain.org/article/entries/5070-trade-deals-criminalise-farmers-seeds

California Tells Court It Can’t Release Inmates Early Because It Would Lose Cheap Prison Labor

Published on Tuesday, November 18, 2014
by ThinkProgress

California Tells Court It Can’t Release Inmates Early Because It Would Lose Cheap Prison Labor

by Nicole Flatow, ThinkProgress

Out of California’s years-long litigation over reducing the population of prisons deemed unconstitutionally overcrowded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, another obstacle to addressing the U.S. epidemic of mass incarceration has emerged: The utility of cheap prison labor.

In recent filings, lawyers for the state have resisted court orders that they expand parole programs, reasoning not that releasing inmates early is logistically impossible or would threaten public safety, but instead that prisons won’t have enough minimum security inmates left to perform inmate jobs.

The dispute culminated Friday, when a three-judge federal panel ordered California to expand an early parole program. California now has no choice but to broaden a program known as 2-for-1 credits that gives inmates who meet certain milestones the opportunity to have their sentences reduced. But California’s objections raise troubling questions about whether prison labor creates perverse incentives to keep inmates in prison even when they don’t need to be there.

The debate centers around an expansive state program to have inmates fight wildfires. California is one of several states that employs prison labor to fight wildfires. And it has the largest such program, as the state’s wildfire problem rapidly expands arguably because of climate change. By employing prison inmates who are paid less than $2 per day, the state saves some $1 billion, according to a recent BuzzFeed feature of the practice. California relies upon that labor source, and only certain classes of nonviolent inmates charged with lower level offenses are eligible for the selective program. They must then meet physical and other criteria.

More:
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/11/18/california-tells-court-it-cant-release-inmates-early-because-it-would-lose-cheap

'Tactics as Dirty as Their Oil': Leaked Docs Reveal TransCanada's Propaganda Plan

Published on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

by Common Dreams

'Tactics as Dirty as Their Oil': Leaked Docs Reveal TransCanada's Propaganda Plan

Documents show that oil and gas companies are placing serious resources of time, money, and personnel into countering the growing climate justice movement. "What this speaks to is that they are losing," says one campaigner whose group has been targeted by company strategy.

by Jon Queally, staff writer

Internal strategy documents prepared by a public relations firm on behalf of Canadian pipeline giant TransCanada reveal details of an enormous and well-organized effort by the oil industry to neutralized the transnational grassroots movement which has grown up around the industry's effort to expand tar sands mining and the building of huge infrastructure projects designed to get "the world's dirtest fuel" to market.

Obtained by Greenpeace and given to The Guardian newspaper, the documents show that TransCanada—which has proposed building a pipeline called Energy East to bring tar sands from Alberta to New Brusnwick through the largest such pipeline ever built—is aligned with other oil and gas companies placing serious resources of time, money, and personnel into countering the growing climate justice movement which has so far successfully delayed building the Keystone XL pipelein and affirmed its commitment to stopping similar projects in the name of fighting global warming and the resulting threat of climate change.

"These tactics are as dirty as the oil the pipeline would transport," said Mark Calzavara of Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut regional organizer with the Council of Canadians, one of the groups named in the corporate documents. "Filling Energy East would mean the climate pollution equivalent to adding 7 million cars to our roads. It threatens over 1000 waterways along the route with a devastating diluted bitumen spill."

~snip~

Responding to the revelations, Andrea Harden-Donaghue, lead climate campaigner for the Council of Canadians, told the Guardian that the ambitious scale of strategy suggested TransCanada was concerned about growing opposition to the Energy East project. "What this speaks to is that they are losing,” she said. “What these documents reveal is that they are bringing Tea Party activists into the equation in Canada combined with a heavyhanded advertising campaign. They are clearly spending a lot of time and thought on our efforts. I’d rather see them address the concerns that we are raising."

More:
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/11/18/tactics-dirty-their-oil-leaked-docs-reveal-transcanadas-propaganda-plan

Ten Illegal Police Actions to Watch for in Ferguson

November 18, 2014

Crackdown on the Constitution

Ten Illegal Police Actions to Watch for in Ferguson

by BILL QUIGLEY


When the Michael Brown verdict is announced, people can expect the police to take at least ten different illegal actions to prevent people from exercising their constitutional rights. The Ferguson police have been on TV more than others so people can see how awful they have been acting. But their illegal police tactics are unfortunately quite commonly used by other law enforcement in big protests across the US.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution promises the government will not abridge freedom of speech or to prevent the right of the people to peaceably assemble or to petition to the government for the redress of grievances.

Here is what they are going to do, watch for each of these illegal actions when the crowds start to grow.

One. Try to stop people from protesting. The police all say they know they have to let people protest. So they usually will allow protests for a while. Then the police will get tired and impatient and try to stop people from continuing to protest. The government will say people can only protest until a certain time, or on a certain street, or only if they keep moving, or not there, not here, not now, no longer. Such police action is not authorized by the US Constitution. People have a right to protest, the government should leave them alone.

Two. Provocateurs. Police have likely already planted dozens of officers, black and white, male and female, inside the various protests groups. These officers will illegally spy on peaceful protesters and often take illegal actions themselves and encourage other people to take illegal action. They will even be arrested with others but magically not end up in jail. Others inside the groups will be paid to inform on the group to the government. Comically, when undercover police are uncovered they often claim they have a constitutional right to be there and try to use the constitution they are violating as a shield!

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/18/ten-illegal-police-actions-to-watch-for-in-ferguson/

Water war in Bolivia led eventually to overthrow of entire political order

Water war in Bolivia led eventually to overthrow of entire political order

South American country found itself in need of aid from IMF and World Bank

First published:
Tue, Nov 18, 2014, 01:00

If the debacle of Irish Water suggests the State is “heading gradually” towards ungovernability, as Fintan O’Toole suggested in these pages recently, then events in Bolivia 14 years ago might stand as a warning to our politicians about the passions water can arouse.

Back in 2000, the South American country’s government so badly mismanaged a local dispute over water it escalated into the first water war of the 21st century and eventually helped lead to the overthrow of an entire political order.

Like metering in Ireland, the conflict had its roots when Bolivia became the ward of multilateral organisations, in its case the IMF and World Bank.

In return for the financial aid necessary to rescue a broken economy, these bodies demanded structural reforms, including the privatisation of Bolivia’s state enterprises. Mines, oil and gas fields, railways and electricity companies were all sold off, tens of thousands of workers fired, unemployment soared and poverty intensified.

However, despite the hardship, resistance among the population was patchwork. Until, that is, 1999, when the government gave a multinational consortium headed by US firm Bechtel a 40-year concession to manage the water of Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third-biggest city in return for a commitment to modernise the network.

More:
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/water-war-in-bolivia-led-eventually-to-overthrow-of-entire-political-order-1.2004444

Number of victims of Colombia’s conflict surpasses 7 million

Number of victims of Colombia’s conflict surpasses 7 million
Nov 18, 2014 posted by David Wing

More than seven million Colombians have become a victim of the country’s conflict, according to the government. This year alone, more than a 100,000 people were victimized.

According to the government’s Victim’s Unit, political violence in Colombia left 7,028,776 victims between 1956 and November 1 this year. The majority of these victims were victimized after the year 2000 when the conflict had escalated and leftist rebel groups like the FARC and ELN were fighting both the Colombian military and state-aligned paramilitary groups.

It was in the same period that the fighting between the military and guerrillas, and a violent expansion of paramilitary group AUC caused massive displacement mainly among Colombia’s rural population.

~snip~
The official estimation could be low as independent statistics regarding displacement show a higher number of victims in recent years than the Victim’s Unit has recognized.

According to the latest Victim’s Unit report, 6 million were victim of forced displacement alone, and more than 930,000 people have been killed, 150,000 were forcibly disappeared and 90 thousand lost their home or belongings.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/number-victims-colombias-conflict-surpassed-7-million/

Study: More Homeless Children Now Than Any Point in US History

Published on Monday, November 17, 2014
by Common Dreams

Study: More Homeless Children Now Than Any Point in US History

A new report on child homelessness in America finds that 2.5 million children experience homelessness annually.

by Jon Queally, staff writer

The annual levels of homelessness among children have never been higher in the United States, according to a new comprehensive report released on Monday.

Prepared by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the report—America’s Youngest Outcasts (pdf)—shows that with poverty and inequality soaring in recent years, approximately 2.5 million children in 2013 found themselves without a roof over their head or place to call home. That number equals one in 30 American children nationally, and constitutes an 8 percent increase over the previous year.

"Child homelessness has reached epidemic proportions in America," said Dr. Carmela DeCandia, director of the NCFH, in a statement. "Children are homeless to night in every city, county and state — in every part of our nation.”

Based on federal and other available data and broken down by state, the analysis shows that homelessness among children varies widely depending on geography. The report includes an index ranking based on four basic criteria: 1) the extent of child homelessness (adjusted for population); 2) general well-being of the children; 3) risk for family homelessness; and 4) state policies designed to combat the problem. Ranked from 1-50, the states with the best scores were Minnesota, Nebraska and Massachusetts. The worst states for homeless children were Alabama, Mississippi and California.

More:
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/11/17/study-more-homeless-children-now-any-point-us-history

Fast-tracked bill would shield execution drug

Source: Associated Press

Fast-tracked bill would shield execution drug
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, AP Legal Affairs Writer | November 18, 2014 | Updated: November 18, 2014 1:19am

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Opponents have lined up to testify against a fast-tracked legislative proposal to shield the names of companies whose drugs are used for lethal injections in Ohio.

The bill introduced a week ago and already set for a vote later this week in the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee also would bar companies from entering into contracts prohibiting states from acquiring drugs for executions.

The bill also prevents information about a lethal injection drugmaker or distributor from being disclosed in court.

Such a proposal raises separation of power issues at the state and federal levels and likely would be ignored by a federal judge, state public defender Tim Young planned to tell the committee.

The Republican-backed legislation is sponsored by state Reps. Jim Buchy and Matt Huffman and pushed by prosecutors, who say the bill is needed to help restart executions in the state. Buchy has said he believes the bill is constitutional.


Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/us/article/Fast-tracked-bill-would-shield-execution-drug-5900027.php

Uribe wants government monopoly of medical marijuana if legalized

Uribe wants government monopoly of medical marijuana if legalized
Nov 17, 2014 posted by David Wing

Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe, leader of the conservative opposition in the Senate, wants the state to have the monopoly on the cultivation and sales of medical marijuana if approved by law.

The bill to find a framework for legalizing marijuana for medicinal, therapeutic, and scientific purposes passed the first senatorial debate last week.

The bill is strongly supported by the current governing liberal administration. President Juan Manuel Santos has also declared support in the past for the legalization of medicinal marijuana.

MORE: Santos in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in Colombia

The head of Colombia’s opposition party, Alvaro Uribe, presented an alternative proposal. The main point of his proposal was to ensure that marijuana grown for scientific purposes remains in the control of the government.

“We do not agree with the (Senate's approval). We accept that under the direction of the state we can investigate how a drug, like marijuana, can serve therapeutic (purposes). Now if the state needs crops for research, those crops are in the control of the state,” he said in a press release.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/colombia-opposition-party-demands-government-monopoly-marijuana-legalized/
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