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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 147,990

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My Last Talk with Gary Webb

Weekend Edition October 17-19, 2014

"I Knew It Was the Truth and That's What Kept Me Going"

My Last Talk with Gary Webb


I was heartsick. Just knowing that Webb was alive was enough to keep me going through difficult nights.

The Mercury News says that “Webb, an award-winning journalist, was … perhaps best known for sparking a national controversy with a 1996 story that contended supporters of a CIA-backed guerrilla army in Nicaragua helped trigger America’s crack-cocaine epidemic in the 1980s. The ‘Dark Alliance’ series in the Mercury News came under fire by other news organizations, and the paper’s own investigation concluded the series did not meet its standards. Mr. Webb resigned a year and a half after the series appeared in the paper. He then published his book, `Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion.’

Of course the newspaper did not report that he resigned only after months of commuting to a dead-end assignment 150 miles from his family and home to which he had been exiled. Forced to work so far from his family, Webb grew depressed and made a sane choice.

So he was not a stranger to depression. Conspiracy stories are already suggesting that his suicide was something else, but I know he would want more than anything for solid investigative work to stitch together all of the pieces, that we not impose a pattern prematurely. That’s what he did for his stories and it’s the least we can do for him.

Besides, why kill him now? As I said in my blog-piece three days ago:

Voices of clarity and conscience are effectively controlled and spun into irrelevance rather than silenced. Marginalization is more effective than assassination it leaves no dead heroes as leaders, after all – and there’s no blood.


Colombia police arrest ‘Torturer of Cordoba’ after 26 years on the run

Colombia police arrest ‘Torturer of Cordoba’ after 26 years on the run
Oct 17, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin

Colombian authorities on Friday detained the “Torturer of Cordoba,” a man wanted for 26 years over his participation in killings in northern Colombia ordered by infamous paramilitary leader Fidel Castaño.

Mario Alberto Alvarez, a.k.a. “Macario,” has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in the 1988 murder of an ex-senator and ex-secretary to the presidency.

Macario is the perpetrator of a massacre in the Cordoba state, which earned him his fearsome nickname.

During the 1990 Pueblo Bello massacre, 43 farmers were brutally killed. The number of farmers corresponded to the number of cattle the Castaño brothers, who founded the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary group, claimed to have lost and for which they held the village responsible.


Colombia hackers carrying out cyber attacks against Ecuador: Correa

Colombia hackers carrying out cyber attacks against Ecuador: Correa
Oct 17, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador said Thursday that his government had detected cyber attacks against his administration and the armed forces originating from Colombian territory, according to local media.

The Ecuadorean leader said that the country had already adopted security measures against the alleged hacks, which he described as being of a “systematic nature” from “organized networks,” according to the Colombian weekly Semana. He gave no more details about the identity of those responsible.

“We have traced these attacks many times, which have attempted to get information from the database of the Presidency, the hard drive of the president, the Armed Forces, Joint Command, and some of these attacks had their origin in Colombia,” Correa said at a press conference.

Cyber attacks against his government had happened “many times” before, the president said, but they were not announced over supposed worries that the press would manipulate the information to criticize his government.


‘Natural labs’ a magnet for Ecuador’s city of knowledge

‘Natural labs’ a magnet for Ecuador’s city of knowledge
16 October 2014 | By Holly Else

Recruitment is under way for Yachay University, a new campus that the country hopes will usher in a research and innovation culture

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Source: Secretaría Educación Superior Ecuador

Knowledge-based focus: Ecuador is aiming to develop a research culture, focused on a
‘city of knowledge’
“Academia is just like soccer…You recruit good players, you win,” José Andrade told Times Higher Education on a recent visit to London, adding that he and his colleagues are “just about to recruit the Manchester United of South America” for a new institution in Ecuador.

Professor Andrade is the academic secretary of Yachay University, a new research-intensive institution that will form the cornerstone of a “city of knowledge” being built from scratch in an Andean valley.

The 4,000-hectare site, near the small village of Urcuquí, an hour and a half from the capital Quito’s international airport, will eventually house the university, Ecuador’s 13 public research institutes, a technology park and industry.

With Yachay Tech, as it is known for short, the Ecuadorian government is hoping to introduce a research and innovation culture that will transform the country’s economy, which is currently based on the export of raw materials. Fearing that these natural resources could one day run out, President Rafael Correa, who took office in 2007, decided to switch direction to a knowledge-based economy. It is hoped that this will enable the development of an advanced manufacturing sector that can process local products and export high-value goods worldwide.


Venezuela: Colombia paramilitary aided in killing

Venezuela: Colombia paramilitary aided in killing
| October 15, 2014 | Updated: October 15, 2014 7:36pm

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says a Colombian paramilitary group collaborated in the killing of a young Venezuelan congressman earlier this month.

Maduro presented surveillance video and what appeared to be a taped confession during a Wednesday news conference on the stabbing death of 27-year-old lawmaker Robert Serra.

The president alleged that a Colombian paramilitary group conspired with the socialist legislator's bodyguards to commit murder with the aim of destabilizing Venezuela.

Maduro previously accused former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe of participating in the plot. On Wednesday, he said Uribe maintains links to groups working against Venezuela.


Morales Wins: Interviews with Voters in the Bolivian Streets and at the Polls

October 15, 2014

Morales Wins

Interviews with Voters in the Bolivian Streets and at the Polls


On October 12, Bolivia went to the polls for a general election which is expected to grant victories to President Evo Morales and many other politicians in his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) political party. (Update: Evo Morales has declared victory for a third term in office.) Below is a collection of interviews conducted today with voters from middle and working class neighborhoods in La Paz, Bolivia on how they voted and what they think of the MAS government. For more information on the election, its implications, and the successes and pitfalls of the MAS, see this article: Why Evo Morales Will Likely Win Upcoming Elections in Bolivia.

“The government of Evo Morales, which is a government that has done positive things, has also done negative things. For example, one of the positive things is the funds they have reserved in the government. Some other positive aspects are the public works the MAS has constructed, for example here in La Paz the aerial cable car, and a new two-lane highway to the city of Oruro. And in regards to the negative aspects, nationally and generally, is the level of political persecution against the opposition to the government. The other negative thing is the MAS’s focus on the rural social movements in the country, without focusing sufficiently on the middle class in the cities; this government has not helped the middle class at all.” – Ivan Villafuerte, lawyer

“President Evo does good work. He has created good public projects, and provided computers for school children. Evo does good work, and he’s not robbing everything like other presidents we’ve had in the past. This government provides support for children, pregnant women and the elderly. And for these reasons I voted for him this morning.” – Angelica Calle, street vendor

“I voted for President Evo because I am convinced that he is an excellent president. I’ve read through the history of my country many times, and I’ve seen that he is the best president in terms of the economy, education, development and other issues. With the previous governments the only thing they ever did was loot the country, and only look after their own personal interests. This isn’t the case with this government. This government is in function of the people, it is dedicated to creating an inclusive country, one without discrimination. Because here racism was very strong, and this racism is a legacy of colonialism, but now things have changed.” – Maria Isabel Viscarra, language teacher


Viva Morales.

Chiquita still fighting to withhold docs on Colombia paramilitary payments

Source: Colombia Reports

Chiquita still fighting to withhold docs on Colombia paramilitary payments
Oct 15, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin

The US multinational Chiquita is fighting to keep almost 10,000 payment documents from the public eye seven years after it was fined $25 million for its payments Colombian paramilitaries.

Michael Evans of the Washington-based National Security Archive told Colombia Reports that the banana company is still demanding that the US Security and Exchanges Commission (SEC) not release more than 9,600 documents known as the “Chiquita payments documents.”

The National Security Archive filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting these documents, which Chiquita tried to block with a reverse-FOIA case in April 2013. The company attempted to argue that the potential publicity and the affect on a jury in Florida considering a civil suit against Chiquita were sufficient reasons to keep the documents private.

The SEC and a U.S. federal court disagreed, saying the speculations did not “satisfy the level of certainty required,” according to Bloomberg News. The case is on appeal.

According to Evans, Chiquita “never expected to win the case” and is simply trying to “string it out as long as they can.”

Read more: http://colombiareports.co/chiquita-still-fighting-withhold-almost-10000-docs-payments-colombian-paramilitaries/

Guatemala may weigh softer drug punishments in liberalization push

Guatemala may weigh softer drug punishments in liberalization push
By Dave Graham,
October 15, 2014, 12:07 PM

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala will weigh easing punishments for minor narcotics-related offenses as part of a push to liberalize drug policy and explore regulating production of opium poppies and marijuana for medical use, President Otto Perez said..

Shortly after taking office at the start of 2012, Perez, a conservative retired army general, surprised many of his Latin American peers by proposing legalization as a means of curbing the power of criminal gangs and the deaths they cause.

Central America is one of the most violent regions in the Americas and Honduras, which like its neighbor Guatemala is a staging post for drug gangs moving their product to consumers in the United States, has the highest homicide rate on the planet.

"We have 17,000 prisoners in our jails. Many of them are linked to drug trafficking. Some of them are indeed criminals. And there are some who are in for minimal amounts of consumption or possession," Perez told Reuters this week in an interview.


Bolivia’s Transformation

Bolivia’s Transformation

The Victory of Evo Morales

by Binoy Kampmark / October 14th, 2014

It is a sometimes overly rich recipe, starched with violence and populism, but Latin American politics is something to behold. In the Americas, experiments have been run and tried with brutal consequences. Revolutions and counter-revolutions have been plotted and enacted. The good have tended to be a short time in office, while the coup d’état has had something of a long history.

Evo Morales’ victory in the Bolivian elections for a third term with just over 60 per cent of the vote is no minor achievement. Cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina received a paltry 25 per cent, something he blamed on the late entry of ex-president Jorge Quiroga, a move that potentially split the anti-Morales vote. Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism romped in, winning eight of the nine regions, including the affluent area of Santa Cruz. A remarkable achievement, given Morales’ own background as the son of peasant Altiplano farmers.

Victory for Morales in Santa Cruz also proved particularly sweet given its base for opposition to the MAS in 2008. Then, it was the aspiring Rubén Costas, co-founder of the right leaning Unidad Demócrata (UD), who attempted to fan the flames of secession. This, it was said, was also being facilitated by US money, be it through USAID or the National Endowment for Democracy. The latest victory has prompted Morales to quash claims that the country was one of half-moons “but a full moon”.

This victory is much more than a polling matter. The conflict between wealthy settlers and the indigenous populations has been the scar that never leaves, and a Morales victory did much to stare it down. (He, himself, is a native Aymara.) In 2009, he introduced a new constitution with a focus on indigenous rights and grants of greater autonomy. Then came the fiscal redistributions – income gathered from natural gas has been used in targeted programs. While the corruption stain lingers in its accusing tone, the country has not become the victim of dedicated kleptocrats. As long as the natural resource boom continues, Morales is on a purple patch. He knows, however, that such patches do turn colour in time. (This might be a literal statement, given the environmental costs of the Morales program.)

In the main, Morales has provided a copy book on the redistribution of natural wealth via the state pocket. Infrastructure projects connected with gymnasiums, schools and medical clinics have received funding through the Bolivia Cambia Evo Cumple program. Growth rates of 5.5 per cent this year, and 5 per cent for next, have been predicted by the IMF.


Authors see chance for breakthrough in U.S.-Cuba relations

Authors see chance for breakthrough in U.S.-Cuba relations
By Daniel Trotta
HAVANA Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:42pm EDT

Oct 13 (Reuters) - The authors of a new book detailing 55 years of informal communications between the United States and Cuba see a rare opportunity to normalize relations, provided President Barack Obama wants to seize the moment.

William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh co-wrote "Back Channel to Cuba," which was officially released on Monday and explains the informal and secretive "back channel" means that Havana and Washington have used to speak to each other despite their hostilities.

Based largely on declassified documents, the book created a stir with its revelation that former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered contingency plans for a military strike in order to "smash Castro" in response to former President Fidel Castro sending Cuban troops to Angola in 1975.

The authors are in Havana for a dual presentation of their work and a similar book by Cuban authors Elier Ramirez and Esteban Morales, also released on Monday, that is based on previously unreleased Cuban documents.

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