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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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The floating islands of Peru’s Lake Titcaca

The floating islands of Peru’s Lake Titcaca
By Nicole Crowder November 17 at 10:00 AM

[font size=1]
Andean actors sail in a totora raft during a re-enactment of the legend of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo in an Uros island at Lake Titicaca in Puno. (Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters)
The Uros islands are a group of 70 man-made totora reed islands floating on Peru’s Lake Titicaca. Its inhabitants, the Uros tribe, pre-date Incan civilization and continue to hunt and fish the plentiful land and waters they occupy.

Photographer Enrique Castro-Mendivile captured Andean actors performing a re-enactment of the legend of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo on a Uros island in early November. According to an Inca legend, Manco Capac and Mama Occllo emerged from the waters of the lake carrying a golden staff instructed by the sun god Inti to create a temple in the spot where the staff sank into the earth. The actors involved in the re-enactment were locals from the islands.

All photos by Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters


(Colorful images follow.)

Opinion: A Cuban Brain Drain, Courtesy of the U.S.

A Cuban Brain Drain, Courtesy of the U.S.

Leer en español (Read in Spanish) »

NOV. 16, 2014

Cuban health workers in Sierra Leone in October. Credit Florian Plaucheur/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry and the American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, have praised the work of Cuban doctors dispatched to treat Ebola patients in West Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently sent an official to a regional meeting the Cuban government convened in Havana to coordinate efforts to fight the disease. In Africa, Cuban doctors are working in American-built facilities. The epidemic has had the unexpected effect of injecting common sense into an unnecessarily poisonous relationship.

And yet, Cuban doctors serving in West Africa today could easily abandon their posts, take a taxi to the nearest American Embassy and apply for a little-known immigration program that has allowed thousands of them to defect. Those who are accepted can be on American soil within weeks, on track to becoming United States citizens.

There is much to criticize about Washington’s failed policies toward Cuba and the embargo it has imposed on the island for decades. But the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which in the last fiscal year enabled 1,278 Cubans to defect while on overseas assignments, a record number, is particularly hard to justify.

It is incongruous for the United States to value the contributions of Cuban doctors who are sent by their government to assist in international crises like the 2010 Haiti earthquake while working to subvert that government by making defection so easy.

American immigration policy should give priority to the world’s neediest refugees and persecuted people. It should not be used to exacerbate the brain drain of an adversarial nation at a time when improved relations between the two countries are a worthwhile, realistic goal.


Starving Central America

Weekend Edition Oct 31-Nov 02, 2014

The Roots of the Food Crisis

Starving Central America


“The drought has killed us,” a young Honduran, Olman Funez, explained last summer. He was referring to what the World Bank called “one of the longest droughts in nearly half a century.” A 60-year-old Guatemalan peasant emphasized he had never “seen a crisis like this.” Carlos Román, a Nicaraguan farmer, told a reporter that “there is nothing. We eat what we can find.”

These men are among the 2.8 million Central Americans “struggling to feed themselves” in the region’s “dry corridor”—“a drought-prone area shared by Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua,” according to the UN World Food Programme. The Nicaraguan government described its drought as the worst in 32 years. And last week the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies “said some 571,710 people were affected by the drought in Honduras,” and that “families are selling their belongings and livestock to secure food for survival, while others are migrating to escape the effects of the drought.” But food crises in Honduras and Nicaragua aren’t new phenomena. And in both countries, U.S. policy has helped starve Central Americans.

Consider Honduras, where the Choluteca Department is part of the “dry corridor.” The U.S. Consul in Tegucigalpa wrote in 1904 of Choluteca’s wide “variety of vegetation,” “ranging from the pines and oaks of the highlands to the palm and cocoanut trees along the coast.” These rich woodlands were devastated seventy years later, declining from 29% to 11% of the census area in the 1960s and ’70s. Pastures increased their territorial coverage from 47% to 64% during the same period. “The cattle are eating the forest,” Billie R. DeWalt explained in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists three decades ago. The anthropologist Jefferson Boyer concurred, noting that Choluteca’s ranchers “simply hired labor to slash and burn the trees and brush, opening the land to grass production.”

Honduras was “being converted into a vast pasture for cattle destined for export,” DeWalt elaborated—a development in line with Washington’s aims. Robert G. Williams noted that Kennedy’s “Alliance for Progress boosted Central America’s beef-export business,” for example, and that “the World Bank, AID, and the IADB” all viewed beef “as a pragmatic, quick way to achieve export-led growth.” This beef, DeWalt continued, was “not bound for the estimated 58 percent of Honduran children under five years of age who suffer from identifiable malnutrition,” but rather for the U.S.—the source of “insatiable demand for livestock products” and “the largest importer,” by a long shot, “of Central American beef export.” As U.S. citizens gorge themselves on steaks and hamburgers, “food supplies in poorer countries become scarcer, unemployment increases, and the land and other resources are increasingly degraded.” Poor Hondurans thus were forced “to compete with the animals for the locally available resources.”

But many peasants, for whatever reason, couldn’t accept that they mattered as little as beasts grown for slaughter. They responded to the systematic destruction of their way of life by forming self-defense organizations. Landowners reacted in the predictable manner. “Murders by ranchers were common in the 1960s and early 1970s, and several massacres became public,” David Nibert explains. “For instance, in 1975, on a large ranch called Los Horcones”—in the Olancho Department, another site of expanding cattle pastures—“five people were burned to death in a bread oven, two priests were castrated and mutilated, and two women were thrown into a well that was then dynamited. All the victims were connected to a movement organized by subsistence farmers.”


Deporting Human Rights Abusers

Deporting Human Rights Abusers
By James Estrin Nov. 15, 2014

By James Estrin Nov. 15, 2014Nov. 15, 2014

When three Maryknoll nuns and a lay churchwoman were raped and killed in El Salvador in December 1980, the story sparked global outrage. Although five Salvadoran national guardsmen were eventually tried and convicted, no higher-ups were ever held responsible for the murders.

A video featured this week on NYTimes.com looks back at the murders and examines recent attempts to deport two Salvadoran generals who have lived in Florida for almost 25 years. This video is part of a continuing series presented by The New York Times and produced by the journalistic nonprofit Retro Report that looks at past news events from a current perspective. It was produced by the former Times correspondents Kit R. Roane and Raymond Bonner and edited by Jeff Bernier. An accompanying article by Clyde Haberman examines efforts to deport those who abuse human rights.

“If immigration courts have their way, the ranks of the deported will include two Salvadoran generals who were defense ministers in the 1980s, blood-soaked years in that country,” Mr. Haberman wrote.

“These men, José Guillermo García, now 81, and Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, 77, have been living in Florida for a quarter-century. They were allowed to settle there during the presidency of George Bush, who, like his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, considered them allies and bulwarks against a Moscow-backed leftist insurgency. But administrations change, and so do government attitudes. Over the past two and a half years, immigration judges in Florida have ruled that the generals bore responsibility for assassinations and massacres, and deserve now to be ‘removed’ — bureaucratese for deported. Both are appealing the decisions, so for now they are going nowhere. Given their ages, their cases may be, for all parties, a race against time.”

Video at link.


Why an Assassinated Psychologist - Ignored by US Psychologists - Is Being Honored

Why an Assassinated Psychologist - Ignored by US Psychologists - Is Being Honored
Sunday, 16 November 2014 00:00
By Bruce E Levine, Truthout | Op-Ed

In November 2014, people around the world who decry oppression will commemorate the 25th anniversary of liberation psychologist Ignacio Martin-Baró's assassination in El Salvador by a "counter-insurgency unit" created at the US Army's School of the Americas.

On November 16, 1989, in El Salvador, liberation psychologist Ignacio Martin-Baró, together with five colleagues, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter, were forced into a courtyard on the campus of Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, where they were then murdered by the Salvadoran government's elite Atlacatl Battalion, a "counter-insurgency unit" created at the US Army's School of the Americas in 1980. The massacre is detailed in the Report of the UN Truth Commission on El Salvador.

This year, 25 years after Martin-Baró's assassination, the Liberation Psychology Network, the Latin American journal Teoría y Crítica de la Psicología, and peace and justice activists around the world will commemorate Martin-Baró, whose integrity, courage and activism for the people of El Salvador cost him his life. Embarrassingly, the vast majority of US psychologists and psychiatrists know nothing about Martin-Baró and liberation psychology. Outside of Pacifica Graduate Institute, I'm not aware of any US graduate program with an announced focus on liberation psychology.

Noam Chomsky, longtime critic of both the US government and US psychology, has tried to inform the world about the life and work of Martin-Baró. Chomsky, in praising a collection of his essays, Writings for a Liberation Psychology, said that Martin-Baró had a "rare combination of intelligence and heroism to the challenge his work sets forth 'to construct a new person in a new society.' His life and achievement are a true inspiration."

~ snip ~

As a Jesuit priest, Martin-Baró embraced liberation theology in opposition to a theology that oppressed the poor, and as a social psychologist, he believed that imported North American psychology also oppressed the majority of people. Martin-Baró concluded that mainstream psychology either ignored or only paid lip service to social and economic conditions that shape people's lives.


"Kill the Messenger" Kills a Chance to Comment on Real Reagan Atrocities

"Kill the Messenger" Kills a Chance to Comment on Real Reagan Atrocities
Friday, 14 November 2014 13:27
By Dan Falcone, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The film, Kill the Messenger, based on a true story, recounts a California reporter named Gary Webb. It discussed his real life effort to link the CIA with the 1980s crack epidemic and funding of the Contras. Webb implied that drug smuggling by Nicaraguans into American cities was intentionally overlooked by the CIA and a Reagan Administration weapons program in order to supply right wing anti-democratic fighters in Nicaragua. Webb maintained that the CIA knew of the drug trafficking operation. Reagan needed that operation since following passage of the Boland Amendment Congress would not help fund any Contra-oriented operation.

The movie essentially shows how Webb took on the world while no one else listened. The San Jose Mercury News decided to let him run his "Dark Alliance" series in 1996 and the story brought Webb notoriety. Other larger newspapers such as the LA Times, New York Times and Washington Post coalesced to marginalize the Mercury's editors and Webb, claiming that the story lacked credibility. They argued this was justified since Webb never nailed down a completely verifiable CIA source. They thought the story was plausible and interesting, but too circumstantial in proportion to the magnitude of its accusations and assertions. There is however, now evidence, based on the work of Robert Parry, that the CIA used its connections with the major print news publications to undermine Webb's work. Webb put himself out there and the mainstream news media (as well as his own publication) left him hanging out to dry.

A small news outfit like the Mercury was trying to enhance its reputation and the overly enthusiastic journalist Webb launched his efforts forward, based on probability and reliable secondary sources of evidence. The larger newspapers were beaten to the punch and had to be publically skeptical of the story, based on the fact that they didn't report it first.

The film conveys a few important concepts historically.

First, it reinforced the mid-1990s Luddite type of idea, that anything on the Internet was second rate reporting when compared to elite establishment newspapers. Since then, we have learned that the net can be a liberating tool, or an instrument of limited thought and coercion. The major media found themselves dedicated to promoting the latter during the period the film covers.


Mexican cartoonist reflects on massacre tragedy as country battles decades of corruption

Mexican cartoonist reflects on massacre tragedy as country battles decades of corruption

Correspondents Report By North American correspondent Michael Vincent

Updated about 8 hours ago Sat 15 Nov 2014, 5:51pm

Mexico has endured many horrors over the past decade in the war on drugs.

A recent disturbing case is the "soup man", who liquefied hundreds of victims in acid.

Now another horror has shocked Mexico.

Almost two months ago - on the orders of a city's mayor - 43 student teachers were attacked by local police, and handed over to a local drug gang to be tortured and "disappeared".

The nexus between local politicians and narco-criminals was laid bare.

The case provoked daily mass protests and even attacks on the presidential palace.

It has also provoked some very, very black humour.

Newspapers around the world and social media shared one particular cartoon that shone a light on Mexico's dark soul.

It showed the attorney-general with a shovel, digging up the skulls of the missing students from a shallow grave and saying: "Look, look, we found them all. Let's go back to being a country of peace and justice."


Tensions in the Arctic

Weekend Edition November 14-16, 2014
The Big Chill

Tensions in the Arctic


One hundred sixty eight years ago this past July, two British warships—HMS Erebus and HMS Terror—sailed north into Baffin Bay, bound on a mission to navigate the fabled Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. It would be the last that the 19th century world would see of Sir John Franklin and his 128 crewmembers.

But the Arctic that swallowed the 1845 Franklin expedition is disappearing, its vast ice sheets thinning, its frozen straits thawing. And once again, ships are headed north, not on voyages of discovery—the northern passages across Canada and Russia are well known today—but to stake a claim in the globe’s last great race for resources and trade routes. How that contest plays out has much to do with the flawed legacies of World War II, which may go a long way toward determining whether the arctic will become a theater of cooperation or yet another dangerous friction point. In the words of former NATO commander, U.S. Admiral James G. Stavridis, an “icy slope toward a zone of competition, or worse, a zone of conflict.”

There is a great deal at stake.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world’s oil reserves and 30 percent of its natural gas. There are also significant coal and iron ore deposits. As the ice retreats, new fishing zones are opening up, and, most importantly, shipping routes that trim thousands of miles off of voyages, saving enormous amounts of time and money. Expanding trade will stimulate shipbuilding, the opening of new ports, and economic growth, especially in East Asia.

Traffic in the Northern Sea Route across Russia—formerly known as the Northeast Passage and the easiest to traverse— is still modest but on the uptick. The route has seen an increase in shipping, from four vessels in 2010 to 71 in 2013, and, for the first time in history, a Liquid Natural Gas Tanker, the, made the trip. On a run from Hammerfest Ob River, Norway, to Tobata, Japan, the ship took only nine days to traverse the passage, cutting almost half the distance off the normal route through the Suez Canal.


No Mercy in Mexico

Weekend Edition November 14-16, 2014

The Missing Mexican Opinion

No Mercy in Mexico


Within twenty-four hours of protestors setting fire to the National Palace door in Mexico City, Mexico, I phoned a close friend. I cannot say much about him; however, I can say that he is from Mexico City, lives there, and that he works with elected officials who respond directly to the head of state. I asked him what the back-story was regarding recent polemics surrounding the protests and missing/murdered 43 students. He told me that nobody knows the official story, but that the popular perception of the tragedy undergirds the current commotion.

Everything allegedly started in Iguala, a town in the State of Guerrero. The mayor’s wife is fairly outspoken politically, and she planned to give a speech. In the past, however, she had trouble with confrontations and protestors—especially students of “normal” schools. Normal schools are for students who want to become, or are studying to become, teachers. My friend said:

There are all these things going on in terms of education. They are cutting the budgets of different schools; they are diminishing the amounts of credits or courses that students have to take. For example, you can graduate, but you will no longer be an engineer, you would be a ‘technical engineer’ because of how the curriculum works out now. However, in Mexico, people are very big into their titles. Everywhere you go, people call you licenciado, or maestro, or doctor. They are really into their titles.

The roots of the current unrest go deeper than titles; not only does a change in professional title demote students’ and teachers’ socially, but it also places them at a lower market value for the workforce. This “changes a lot in terms of salary,” my friend said, “which, in Mexico, is nothing. So, you go from nothing, to even more nothing. So, students and teacher are fed-up, and protesting.”

My friend could not stress enough that the now missing/murdered “(43 students) wouldn’t have done anything. They wouldn’t engage in any violence; they would just be there making noise. But [the mayor’s wife] told the police—which she controls—to ‘take care of them.’” For that matter, student protests take aim at issues of education in the hopes of it shaping their future work, not to diminish the state. In Mexico, however, my friend explained that to “take care of someone” does not mean to put up roadblocks, or to arrest people unduly. He said, “What it means is, kidnap them, dismember them, and burn them alive. So, that’s essentially what happened. She told the police, ‘Hey, don’t let them come near me.’ So what they took that as, was, ‘let’s kill them off.’” The Mayor of Iguala’s wife apparently did not want any rabble-rousing during her speech.


Jesuit massacre: Anniversary in El Salvador is a 'cleansing moment'

Jesuit massacre: Anniversary in El Salvador is a 'cleansing moment'
By Margaret Russell
Special to the Mercury News

This week, several Santa Clara University colleagues and I traveled to El Salvador to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter. Their murders were planned at the highest levels of El Salvador's military leadership during a decade of civil war in which they received massive United States military and economic aid. The priests, all associated with the University of Central America in San Salvador, were known for their outspoken commitment to the poor and disenfranchised of El Salvador.

Their assassinations on Nov. 16, 1989, shocked the world yet were hardly the first in a bloody decade of human rights violations. Although this is my first time in El Salvador, the names of the dead are familiar to me because they are inscribed on student-made white crosses planted in the garden outside of the Mission at Santa Clara: Ignacio Martin Baro, Ignacio Ellacuria, Armando Lopez, Segundo Montes, Juan Ramon Moreno, Julia Elba Ramos, Celina Mariceth Ramos.

Along with the murders of Salvadoran Jesuit Rutilio Grande in 1977, Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980 and thousands of others, the deaths of these eight people linger in historical memory as a reminder of our country's deep involvement in the injustices of the war in El Salvador.

As a scholar of U.S. constitutional law and civil rights -- as well as a child of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s -- I view the opportunity to remember these martyrs as a kind of "cleansing moment" in the struggle for social justice . "Cleansing moments" is a phrase used by Myrlie Evers, widow of assassinated U.S. civil rights leader Medgar Evers, to describe the transcendent power of both historical memory and legal redress in reopening past human rights cases not only to identify perpetrators, but also to recognize and heal the societal wounds inflicted by human rights abuses. In the U.S., this has meant revisiting and sometimes prosecuting U.S. civil rights murders of the mid-19th century-- a daunting task given the structure of U.S. law.

Internationally, however, there are other models for reopening and prosecuting long-dormant human rights cases, including the Jesuit community murders that occurred 25 years ago in San Salvador. For example, the Center for Justice and Accountability, based in San Francisco, is pursuing the Jesuit massacre case through legal proceedings in Spain, which has both a "universal jurisdiction" law and a recognition of international human rights law in its domestic cases. In addition, there is a concrete tie between the victims and Spain because several of the Jesuit priests were Spanish citizens. Accordingly, in 2008 the center filed a lawsuit in Spain against the known high-level perpetrators of the murders, and proceedings are ongoing.

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