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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Torture report: CIA interrogations chief was involved in Latin American torture camps

Source: Telegraph

Torture report: CIA interrogations chief was involved in Latin American torture camps

Senior agent in torture programme was recommended for censure decades earlier for “inappropriate use of interrogation techniques”

By Peter Foster, Washington
7:00AM GMT 11 Dec 2014

The CIA officer tasked with interrogating the most important prisoners in America's secret detention programme allegedly abused captives during the agency's covert operations in Latin America in the 1980s, it has emerged.
The US Senate's three-year inquiry into the CIA's use of torture after September 11 reveals that a senior agent involved in the programme was recommended for censure decades earlier for “inappropriate use of interrogation techniques”.

The unnamed officer was appointed to head the CIA's "high value detainee" team in autumn 2002, shortly after the agency began waterboarding a prisoner at secret detention centre in Afghanistan.
Human rights groups said that the agent's promotion despite his track record of abusing prisoners was evidence that that the CIA did not hold its officers accountable for torture.

~ snip ~

According to the report, the agent who would become the CIA's chief of interrogations beginning in 2002 "was involved in training and conducted interrogations" in Latin America during that era. The report goes on to say that "the CIA inspector general later recommended that he be orally admonished for inappropriate use of interrogation techniques."

~ snip ~

“This group of officers included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault."

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11286727/Torture-report-CIA-interrogations-chief-was-involved-in-Latin-American-torture-camps.html

Privilege and Peace

Privilege and Peace
Dec 10, 2014 posted by Chelsey Dyer

Margaret Mead, a once famous anthropologist, theorized that warfare is an invention created by humankind. She staunchly rejected the notion that war is a biological or sociological inevitably and argued that should a “method more congruent with the institutions and feelings of the period be invented” war would become obsolete and a new invention would supersede its role.

I have often wondered over the veracity of this theory. Over time, citizens have turned to their governments and governments to transnational bodies to prevent citizen abuse during conflicts, end wars, and prevent them from starting. But violence has always remained an option.

Until now.

Until a small community in Colombia created another possibility, a new hope for peace. Despite a perpetuated cycle of violence and economic deterioration that erodes community bonds and the luxury of creativity, a group of dedicated Colombians has continued to persist in their recognition of the defects of war. And so some have created a new invention, a space in which violent actors are evicted and peace is groomed with non-violence and community bonds.

It is the humanitarian space of Puente Nayero.

Situated against the backdrop of Buenaventura, the people of the beachfront neighborhood of Puente Nayero established a humanitarian space with the aid and accompaniment of the Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace. Today, their success is echoed in the warmth that filters through the coconut trees and casts its glow on the children at play below, children who are already guaranteed a healthier future.

Peace is growing, despite the obstacles the city of Buenaventura provides.

With an 80% poverty rate, Buenaventura has been called “ground-zero” for the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Enacted in 2012, the FTA immediately eliminated 80% of tariffs on U.S. exports to Colombia, allowing a surge of cheap US goods to enter Colombia.


Water Grabs Power Predatory Development

Water Grabs Power Predatory Development

Alejandro Camargo
December 8, 2014

Latin America stands out as one of the regions where the deterioration of water resources is more dramatic than in other parts of the world. According to a recent NASA study, this critical environmental situation is directly connected to an increase in population pressure on a global scale. The experience of the people who face the deterioration of water resources in their everyday life, however, cannot be measured solely by population growth. For thousands of families whose livelihoods depend on aquatic resources, the deterioration of wetlands and rivers constitutes a form of water grabbing associated with the expansion of large-scale predatory economies such as mining and large-scale agriculture.

Water grabbing is the process in which powerful actors (often, but not always international) take control of bodies of water by diverting, draining, contaminating or enclosing wetlands, rivers and even the ocean. Contemporary development often depends on water grabbing for projects such as highway construction, large-scale dam building, monocultures and mining.

In Argentina, for instance, the enclosure of wetlands to the expansion of agri-business has caused the deterioration of aquatic ecosystems and rural livelihoods. On Oct. 13, 2012, the Families of Small Producers of Gallo Sapukay, in Mercedes, sent a letter to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner denouncing the Saanto Ignacio S.A. firm, which bought and fenced large swaths of wetlands where they used to work and live. Furthermore, the Families made public the fact that employees of the firm had threatened them, and that it was illegal to build an embankment that would have disastrous effects in the hydrological processes of the wetland complex.

The Families insisted upon their right to work and live in the disputed area, and expressed fears of experiencing a situation similar to what occurred in the nearby area of Yahaveré, where the firm Forestal Andina—which later became Hacienda San Eugenio S.A. and was involved in other environmental conflicts such as the illegal use of lands pertaining to a natural reserve—fenced a large area of wetlands and built an embankment to introduce large-scale cattle ranching in the area.

In Chile, the expansion of large-scale extractive industries that has led to the deterioration and eventual disappearance of vast swaths of wetlands has been one of the main drivers of water grabbing. That has been the case of the Aymara community of Cancosa in Northern Chile, which has long suffered the devastating effects of the operations of BHP Billiton on their wetlands. BHP Billiton is a multinational company predominantly involved in copper mining. In Cancosa, this company has extracted copper for more than two decades and, in so doing, has destroyed many wetlands and wells. By destroying wetlands, BHP Billiton triggered a process of dispossession in the Aymara community of Cancosa. More than 90 percent of the Aymara families were forced to leave their community because of the deterioration of water resources.


International court convicts Colombia state for Palace of Justice Siege

International court convicts Colombia state for Palace of Justice Siege
Dec 10, 2014 posted by Adriaan Alsema

While Colombia’s Supreme Court is considering absolving a military commander convicted for disappearing 11 people in the 1985 military retake of the Palace of Justice, the Inter-American human rights court convicts the country for these disappearances.

According to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Court in Washington DC, plaintiffs successfully proved that “there existed a modus operandi aimed at the forced disappearance of persons held on suspicion of participating in the taking of the palace of justice or collaborating with the M-19″ rebel group that stormed and occupied the building on November 6, 1985, one day before the army violently retook the building.

At the end of the double siege, more than a hundred people had been killed, including almost half of the 25 members of the Supreme Court. Eleven people, mostly cafeteria workers, disappeared after having been rescued from the building by the military.

The state crimes

According to the court, the disappeared persons had been “separated from other hostages, taken to military compounds and in some cases tortured and/or disappeared.”

“Under the command of military officials, the authorities severely altered the crime scene and committed several irregularities in the removal of bodies” to complicate criminal investigations into the alleged series of extrajudicial executions.


16 businessmen sentenced to prison for paramilitary ties

16 businessmen sentenced to prison for paramilitary ties
Dec 10, 2014 posted by Piotr Wojciak

A Medellin court sentenced 16 businessmen behind a large palm oil project in western Colombia to prison for using paramilitary groups to illegally obtain territory for their businesses.

The agricultural mega project seeking to turn the lower Atrato river region into the most extensive area for cultivation of palm oil in Colombia was a sweeping criminal scheme orchestrated by the paramilitary apparatus, announced the Medellin judge earlier this year.

Traces of broader conspiracy are all over the case. Among the most resounding names from the paramilitary elite circles to drop during the trial were the United Self-Defense Forces (AUC) founder Vicente Castaño, his step-sister Sor Teresa Gomez and ex-councilman Remberto Manuel Alvarez.

Moreover, the case which found its finale on October 30 involved a plethora of palm-cultivating companies such as Urapalma S.A., Pamlas de Curvarado SA, and Palmura SA in cooperation with the paramilitary warmongers.


Besides prison sentences, the judge ordered various agencies, including the Colombian territorial agency Incoder to carry out works aimed at returning of the lands in the Jiguamiando and Curvarado regions, where the palm oil projects were developed, to their rightful owners – the Afro-Colombian communities who were displaced by the paramilitaries.


Bolivia's 'Forgotten': Operation Condor Era Familiar History For Oscar Voters

Bolivia's 'Forgotten': Operation Condor Era Familiar History For Oscar Voters
By Anthony D'Alessandro
December 9, 2014

“I couldn’t make this film nine years ago,” exclaimed Carla Ortiz, the producer and star of Forgotten (Olvidados), Bolivia’s Oscar entry for foreign film at the Awardsline screening last night, “We had an extreme right government (for quite some time) and I would have been killed or kidnapped.”

Set during the 1970s, Forgotten tells the story of a group of middle-class, anti-dictatorship individuals who are kidnapped and tortured during Operation Condor in Bolivia, an era in the southern cone of South America when right wing dictatorships, in cahoots with the U.S. government, weeded out any Communist or Socialist groups. It’s a topic that has been dramatic fodder for a number of Oscar-winning and nominated foreign films from the continent, including 1985’s best foreign film from Argentina, The Official Story, and the country’s 2009 best foreign film winner The Secret in Their Eyes. Official Story centers around an upper-middle class family, who learn that their adopted child was kidnapped during The Dirty War, a period during Operation Condor when many subversives disappeared. The Secret in Their Eyes deals with a modern day couple, a retired judiciary employee and a judge, who worked together on an unsolved 1974 rape and murder case that occurred during The Dirty War.

Given Bolivia’s recent liberal-leaning tendencies, Ortiz finally had the inspiration and confidence to make Forgotten, which she also co-wrote with Elia Petridis and Mauricio D’Avis. The film was directed by Mexican filmmaker Carlos Bolado.

“Suddenly, we are seeing the light, we’re seeing democracy, not the perfect democracy, but now we’re feeling a sense of brotherhood,” Ortiz told Deadline’s Dominic Patten. In the film, Ortiz plays Lucia, a pregnant woman who is a member of a young radical group. While her character is tortured severely in the film, Ortiz said the reality was worse, and that oppressors of the time would unleash rats on pregnant women in a luscious way.

“There are debates going on right now (after the film’s release in Bolivia). In the film we show people being tortured with electrodes attached to their ears, but in real life, many say they were attached to men’s testicles,” Ortiz said.


Georgia Supreme Court Refuses to Delay Execution

Source: New York Times

Georgia Supreme Court Refuses to Delay Execution

The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to delay the execution of Robert Wayne Holsey, rejecting his argument that the state’s unusually strict standard for judging mental disability is in violation of guidelines set by the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Holsey, who killed a deputy sheriff in Baldwin County after robbing a convenience store in 1995, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Holsey’s lawyers sent a final appeal to the Supreme Court in Washington while officials at the state prison in Jackson prepared for the execution. Mr. Holsey requested eight pieces of fried chicken for his final meal, according to the Department of Corrections.

Mr. Holsey’s case received wide attention in part because his lawyer at his trial in 1997 later admitted to drinking up to a quart of vodka a day at the time and was trying to avoid theft charges that would soon land the lawyer in prison.

An appeals court found that the defense had been deeply inept during the penalty phase of Mr. Holsey’s trial. His lawyer failed to present potentially mitigating details about Mr. Holsey’s history of abuse as a child and did not press arguments that he is intellectually disabled.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/us/georgia-supreme-court-refuses-to-delay-execution.html?_r=0

Why the Founding Fathers Thought Banning Torture Foundational to the US Con

Published on Tuesday, December 09, 2014

by Informed Comment

Why the Founding Fathers Thought Banning Torture Foundational to the US Constitution

by Juan Cole

I have argued on many occasions that the language of patriotism and appeal to the Founding Fathers and the constitution must not be allowed to be appropriated by the political right wing in contemporary America, since for the most part right wing principles (privileging religion, exaltation of ‘whiteness’ over universal humanity, and preference for property rights over human rights) are diametrically opposed to the Enlightenment and Deist values of most of the framers of the Unites States.

We will likely hear these false appeals to an imaginary history a great deal with the release of the Senate report on CIA torture. It seems to me self-evident that most of the members of the Constitutional Convention would have voted to release the report and also would have been completely appalled at its contents.

The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution is full of prohibitions on torture, as part of a general 18th century Enlightenment turn against the practice. The French Encyclopedia and its authors had agitated in this direction.

Two types of torture were common during the lifetimes of the Founding Fathers. In France, the judiciary typically had arrestees tortured to make them confess their crime. This way of proceeding rather tilted the scales in the direction of conviction, but against justice. Pre-trial torture was abolished in France in 1780. But torture was still used after the conviction of the accused to make him identify his accomplices.


Mars mountain may have formed from big, wet lake

Mars mountain may have formed from big, wet lake
By MARCIA DUNN - AP Aerospace Writer
12/08/2014 2:36 PM
| Updated: 12/08/2014 2:36 PM

[font size=1]
This mosaic image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS made from photographs taken by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover looks to the west of the Kimberley waypoint on the rover's route to the base of Mount Sharp. The mountain lies to the left of the scene. Sets of sandstone beds all incline to the south, indicating progressive build-out of sediment toward Mount Sharp. These inclined beds are overlain in the background by horizontally bedded fine-grained sandstones that likely represent river deposits. NASA / AP Photo

NASA's Curiosity rover is helping scientists close in on a Martian mystery: Why does a mountain jut out of a barren crater?

Scientists said Monday that rock images indicate that 3-mile-high Mount Sharp may have formed in a big lake bed over a million or even tens of millions of years. Deposits of sediment seem to have shaped the mountain.

That begs the question as to whether microbial life may have existed there in those wet ancient times.

"This lake was large enough, it could have lasted millions of years — sufficient time for life to get started and thrive, sufficient time for lake sediment to build up to form Mount Sharp," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist of NASA's Mars exploration program.


Palm Oil and Extreme Violence in Honduras: The Inexorable Rise and Dubious Reform of Grupo Dinant

Palm Oil and Extreme Violence in Honduras: The Inexorable Rise and Dubious Reform of Grupo Dinant
Monday, 08 December 2014 11:11
By Jeff Conant, Truthout | News Analysis

As one of the fastest growing global commodities, palm oil has recently earned a reputation as a major contributor to tropical deforestation and, therefore, to climate change as well.

About 50 million metric tons of palm oil is produced per year - more than double the amount produced a decade ago - and this growth appears likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Because oil palm trees, native to West Africa, require the same conditions as tropical rainforests, nearly every drop of palm oil that hits the global market comes at the expense of natural forests that have been, or will be, burned, bulldozed and replaced with plantations.
With deforestation garnering headlines due to forests' crucial role in regulating the climate, global commodity producers, from Nestle and Unilever in Europe, to Cargill in the United States to Wilmar International in Indonesia, are recognizing the need to provide products that are "deforestation-free." Other corporate-led initiatives like the public-private Tropical Forest Alliance that promises to reduce the deforestation associated with palm oil, soy, beef, paper and pulp, and the recent New York Declaration on Forests signed at the UN Climate Summit in New York, suggest that saving the world's forests is now squarely on the corporate sustainability agenda.

But what is being left behind is the other significant impact of palm oil and other agro-industrial commodities - namely human rights. Commitments to protect forests and conservation areas can, if well implemented, address environmental concerns by delimiting the areas of land available for conversion to palm oil. But natural resource exploitation is inextricably linked to human exploitation, and such commitments do little to address this.

A case in point is Grupo Dinant, a Honduran palm oil company that declared last month that it has been awarded international environmental certifications for its achievements in environmental management and occupational health and safety. Dinant has also been making overtures toward joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), including hosting the RSPO's 4th Latin American conference in Honduras in 2013. But, Dinant, which produces about 60 percent of the palm oil in Honduras, is at the center of what has been called "the most serious situation in terms of violence against peasants in Central America in the last 15 years."

Owned by Miguel Facussé, one of the wealthiest men in Honduras, Dinant has been associated with the killings of over 100 peasant farmers, and appears to be involved in a virtual terror campaign to ensure control of a large swath of land in the Lower Aguan Valley near the Caribbean coast of Honduras.



Miguel Facussé, left, sitting next to sitting with Porfirio Lobo, Honduran President.

(For a look at his imprint upon the people of Honduras, scan down the rows of images on this page at google images:


It wouldn't be appropriate to post many of them here. Graphic.)
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