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Judi Lynn

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Oaxaca, Mexico, Faces Police Militarization as Governor Acts to Preempt Education Protests

Oaxaca, Mexico, Faces Police Militarization as Governor Acts to Preempt Education Protests

Written by Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F.
Thursday, 20 August 2015 14:29

Source: Truthout

Thousands of federal and state police troops were dispatched in mid-July to the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico to guard strategic buildings, patrol the skies and ensure that protesters cannot take over local radio stations.

The aim of this heightened police militarization? To prevent protesting teachers from exerting pressure on the administration of Gabino Cué Monteagudo, the current governor of Oaxaca, in their efforts to resist nationally imposed education reforms.

Protesting teachers have argued that the reforms, which were approved in 2013 by the Federal Congress and are being implemented in every state in Mexico, seek to reframe education as a private service, replacing current teachers with new workers who work on contract and have no labor rights.

"This is not an education reform as much as it is a labor reform; what they want is for the state to stop offering free and public education," said Dolores Villalobos, a teacher and member of the Section 22 teacher's union, which is part of the National Organization of Education Workers (CNTE).


Brazil's Lula steps back into political fray

Brazil's Lula steps back into political fray

by Agency Staff, August 31 2015, 06:23

SÃO BERNARDO DO CAMPO — Brazil’s popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has declared that he is returning to the bruising political frontlines to defend his successor, the embattled Dilma Rousseff.

"Our opponents talk about me from morning until night. Well, it’s harder to kill a bird if he keeps flying. That’s why I started flying again," Mr Lula said at a rally in Sao Paulo state on Saturday, a day after admitting he could even seek the presidency again in 2018.

On Friday he said that he did not want to see his ruling Workers’ Party lose power after 12 years. "I am sure that our rivals are heading out to undo what we achieved in improving people’s lives," he told the rally. "I have broad shoulders and I have been beaten up plenty in my life. Let’s see if our rivals give our beloved Dilma a little break and start being bothered by me again," Mr Lula said, alongside former Uruguayan president Jose Mujica.

Mr Lula was in office from 2003 to 2010 and was the country’s first democratically elected leftist leader. He spent generously on social programmes to reduce the number of Brazilians living in poverty and the economy boomed to the world’s seventh-largest.


Colombia’s Killing Fields

Colombia’s Killing Fields

Peace is War

by James Petras / August 30th, 2015

Colombia has received more US military aid — over $6 billion dollars in the past decade — than any country in the Western Hemisphere. For its part, Colombia allowed the Pentagon to build seven military bases, more than all the other countries in the region combined. There are over 2,000 US military officers and private US ‘mercenary’ contractors engaged in military activities in Colombia – more than any other country in Latin America.

During the decade-long (2001-2010) regime of President Alvaro Uribe, (a drug trafficker and death squad jefe in his own right), more than one-thousand trade union leaders and activists were murdered — over one hundred a year.

Nevertheless, the ‘Colombian killing field’ regime under Uribe was described in glowing terms by all the major respectable Anglo-American newspapers, including the Financial Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post for having brought “stability and peace” (of the graveyard) to the country and making Colombia “safe for investors”.

Eventually Uribe’s excesses, his policy of ‘peace through terror’ policies frightened and appalled many Colombians and (most important for the oligarchs) he failed to defeat the armed insurgency When the regime’s new extractive export growth strategy called for massive expansion of foreign investment in guerrilla-controlled mineral and oil-rich regions tactics and key political leaders had to change.


Ex-cop arrested in Mexican journalist's slaying

Source: Agence France-Presse

Ex-cop arrested in Mexican journalist's slaying
2015-08-31 09:34

Mexico City - Mexican authorities on Sunday arrested a former police officer in connection with the brutal slaying of a prominent photojournalist and four others in a case that sparked international outrage.

Police arrested a man "identified as Abraham Torres Tranquilino" for alleged involvement in the killing of Ruben Espinosa, rights activist Nadia Vera and three other female victims, Mexico City prosecutor Rodolfo Rios said in a statement.

Espinosa and the other victims were found dead on July 31 this year in a Mexico City apartment, their hands bound and their bodies bearing signs of torture.

Torres, aged 24, worked as a police officer in the capital until 2011, when he was arrested and convicted of torture in a separate case. He went on to serve about a year in jail.

Read more: http://www.news24.com/World/News/Ex-cop-arrested-in-Mexican-journalists-slaying-20150831

Bid to lift Guatemala president's immunity advances in Congress

Sat Aug 29, 2015 8:37pm EDT

Bid to lift Guatemala president's immunity advances in Congress


Aug 29 A Guatemalan congressional committee on Saturday recommended that President Otto Perez be stripped of immunity from prosecution over his suspected involvement in a customs racket, paving the way for a full vote in Congress in the coming days.

The five-member congressional committee told a news conference that Congress could vote on their recommendation as early as Tuesday. Presidential immunity can be lifted with a vote in favor by at least two-thirds of the 158-member Congress.

That vote will be closely watched after the Guatemalan Supreme Court on Tuesday approved a request by Guatemala's attorney general to impeach the president.

If Congress votes to lift his immunity, the Supreme Court then turns the matter to prosecutors, who would then able to bring charges against him in court.


For Inca Road Builders, Extreme Terrain Was No Obstacle

For Inca Road Builders, Extreme Terrain Was No Obstacle

August 29, 2015 6:49 AM ET

Jasmine Garsd.

[font size=1]
The Inca were innovators in agriculture as well as engineering. Terracing like this, on a steep hillside in Peru's Colca Canyon, helped them grow food.

Doug McMains/Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
One of history's greatest engineering feats is one you rarely hear of. It's the Inca Road, parts of which still exist today across much of South America.

Back in the day — more than 500 years ago — commoners like me wouldn't have been able to walk on the Inca Road, known as Qhapaq Ñan in the Quechua language spoken by the Inca, without official permission.

Fortunately, I have Peruvian archaeologist Ramiro Matos by my side. He is the lead curator of an exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian called "The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire."

That's "Inka" with a K, as it's spelled in Quechua. And today, we're taking a virtual journey down what was once more than 20,000 miles of road traversing some of the world's most challenging terrain — mountains, forests and deserts.


Supporters rally to back Venezuela government’s crackdown on migrants

Source: Associated Press

Supporters rally to back Venezuela government’s crackdown on migrants
CARACAS — The Associated Press

Published Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 6:14PM EDT
Last updated Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 6:16PM EDT

A sea of government supporters in red shirts rallied in Caracas on Friday to back a crackdown on migrants, smugglers and paramilitary groups that has triggered an increasingly bitter dispute between Colombia and Venezuela and led the neighbouring countries to recall their ambassadors.

The spat erupted a week ago when Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shut a major border crossing to combat what he says are rampant smuggling and paramilitary activities near Colombia, and declared a state of emergency in six western cities. Venezuelan officials deported more than 1,000 Colombian migrants and another 5,000 have left voluntarily, with some carrying all of their belongings across a muddy river on a frantic moving day.

. . .

On Friday, thousands of government supporters snarled traffic as they marched to the presidential palace in support of the new measures and emphasized that they were gathering to support the security and integrity of Venezuela, not to demonize Colombian immigrants. Some waved signs saying “No to Colombian paramilitarism” as lively merengue music played and a carnival atmosphere reigned.

. . .

With two border crossings closed, the underground economy has come to a halt, satisfying Venezuelan officials who have long blamed transnational mafias for widespread shortages, but also jeopardizing the livelihood of tens of thousands of poor Colombians who depend on the black market.

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/supporters-rally-to-back-veneuzela-governments-crackdown-on-migrants/article26153818/

The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess

August 28, 2015
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess

by Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés

Not so long ago the fictional Cuba of the US myth-making machine was a Caribbean gulag, a dictatorship that sponsored terrorism and trafficked in human beings – that is when it wasn’t torturing them. Today we are left wondering what that was all about now that Sec. of State John Kerry has gone to Cuba for a flag-raising speech in front of the newly christened US Embassy and a brief walkabout in Old Havana.The gist of Kerry’s remarks is that Cuba should improve its behavior according to Kerry’s prescriptions. Apparently, he hasn’t been listening to the Cubans, who want the United States to get rid of the thick accumulation of obnoxious and warlike behaviors, starting with the blockade (embargo) and not forgetting to abandon the US gulag at Guantánamo.

So far the United States has offered no rational justifications for these behaviors as it seeks “normalization,” but we should at least look at how they originated. As terrifying as history is to leaders in Washington, we will take one of the key bright ideas — the (ongoing) manipulation of Cuban immigration as an example of how far it is from here to “normal.”

Creating the exile pool

Normalization has so far not included an end to the Cuban Adjustment Act, which encourages Cubans to become undocumented aliens. Mexicans are told to stay home or “get in line” for a green card, but Cubans who reach US shores can be fast-tracked to citizenship.

The approach to Cuban immigration after 1959 oscillated between a desire to encourage it for propaganda advantage and a concern that Fidel Castro might oblige by releasing an unmanageable torrent. A manageable number could give propagandists the chance to picture every Cuban who left by whatever means, including rafts, as a political refugee from communist tyranny. Too many could strain public services wherever the Cubans landed, create social friction and cost the taxpayers a lot of money. Jesús Arboleya Cervera has written that

…immigration was intimately related to the policies conducted by the United States against the island, conceived to drain Cuba of its human capital, dismantle the social structure, and create abroad the social bases for a counter-revolutionary movement that had no cohesion inside the island. [1]


Why Do Parrots Talk?

Why Do Parrots Talk?

And do they know what they’re saying?

By Ashley P. Taylor
August 06, 2015

[font size=1]
Alex the parrot counts red and blue objects at the behest of his owner, Dr. Irene Pepperberg.
Photo: Jeff Topping for The New York Times/Redux
Of all the creatures on Earth, only two can produce human language: humans…and birds. Of the few birds that can imitate human speech, including mynah birds, crows, and ravens, parrots are clearly the best at it—they give TED talks, speak multiple languages, and even front heavy metal bands. So why can parrots talk when our closer primate relatives cannot?

Parrots are vocal learners, meaning they grasp sounds by hearing and then imitating them. Although several other bird species can discern and repeat sounds, parrots are the pros.

Erich Jarvis, a Duke University neuroscientist and vocal learning expert, recently published a study in Plos One explaining why. Any bird that’s a vocal learner has a part of the brain devoted to this, called the ‘song system.’ But in parrots, the song system has two layers—an inner ‘core,’ common to all avian vocal learners, and an outer ‘shell,’ which is unique to parrots. Jarvis thinks that this recently discovered ‘shell’ is what allows parrots to be such expert mimickers (though he hasn’t figured out exactly how it works yet).

But why do they copy human speech? Peer pressure, it turns out. Parrots naturally try to fit in, be it among other parrots or other people.


Observers warn for apparent Bogota election fraud attempts

Observers warn for apparent Bogota election fraud attempts
Posted by Grace Brown on Aug 27, 2015

Electoral observers on Wednesday reported an unusually high increase in voter registrations, an indicator of possible voter fraud, for upcoming mayoral elections in Bogota.

The Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) said that the amount of people registered to vote has more than doubled in the Martires, Candelaria and Teusaquillo neighborhoods. According to the MOE, Bogota is known to have low electoral participation in all of its local elections, compared to the rest of the country, with 47.4% turnout in the mayoral elections compared to the 57.3% national average.

The director of the MOE, Aura Rodriguez said that,”in neighborhoods like Candelaria the registration of voters has increased by 213% in one month. In Martires it increased by 125% between July and August and in Teusaquillo the abnormal behavior increased by 97% in 27 days.”

Rodriguez called to the authorities “to investigate the irregularities”, mentioning previous cases in the neighborhoods of Egipto and Concordia where citizens were buying and selling votes.


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