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Judi Lynn

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'Narco pardons' burden Garcia as he seeks Peru presidency

'Narco pardons' burden Garcia as he seeks Peru presidency
Associated Press
November 5, 2015 11:40 AM

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Alan Garcia granted hundreds of convicted drug traffickers early release the last time he was Peru's president, pursuing a clemency campaign believed unparalleled in the world that he said was giving the deserving a second chance while easing prison overcrowding.

Now the "narco pardons" are haunting Garcia as he seeks to return to the presidency for a third term, with the officials who arranged the releases on trial for allegedly running a get-out-of-jail-for-pay scheme.

Questioned about the commutations two years ago by a special congressional committee, Garcia insisted he carefully weighed each case, often staying up well past midnight to pore over thick files.

"I sought God's counsel in making each and every one of these concessions," he told the committee.

But witnesses testifying before a court at a maximum-security prison in Lima's dusty northern hills tell a different story, one of quick-turnaround commutations for convicts who paid thousands of dollars, dozens of releases sometimes arranged in a single day and a streamlined process that squeezed complicated cases into an eight-line questionnaire.


The Alamo: America’s Shrine to White Supremacy

The Alamo: America’s Shrine to White Supremacy
November 6, 2015
by Lee Ballinger

Phil Collins, the former drummer with Genesis who went on to be one of the biggest pop stars of the 1980s (“In The Air Tonight,” “Invisible Touch”) was in San Antonio on June 26, 2014 for a press conference at the Alamo. Collins announced that he was donating his vast collection of artifacts related to the 1836 Battle of the Alamo to the museum which sits on the Alamo grounds, just up the street from San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk.

Collins, who traces his Texas obsession to recreating the Battle of the Alamo with figurines as a kid in his English backyard, has been visiting the site periodically since 1973. He has written a book, The Alamo and Beyond, which is a coffee-table tome with photos and essays he’s written about each of the two hundred items in the collection. Collins has also written a forward to a book on music about the Alamo.

Collins claims he may have actually been at the Battle of the Alamo 178 years ago. Perhaps it’s that psychic backstory which causes him to speak, ad nauseum, about only the details of the 1836 battle in which Mexican troops annihilated a force of two hundred men of the Republic of Texas army. Yet Collins says he supports a full interpretation of the Alamo’s entire history. So let’s go there.

The Mexican troops who attacked the Alamo are always described in the history books as the aggressors, so the first thing to clarify is that the Alamo was in Mexico. The so-called “Texians” who were in the fort representing the Republic of Texas were part of an attempt by U.S. slave states to expand the scope of slavery westward.


Cuba’s Operation Carlota 40 Years Later

November 5, 2015
Cuba’s Operation Carlota 40 Years Later

by Matt Peppe

After 40 years, Republic of Guinea native Alpha Diallo still remembers the emotion he felt as a 20-year-old college student in Cuba when he made a decision that would change his life. The Cuban government had just decided to send troops to Angola to fight the invading South African army, which had crossed the border into Angola several weeks earlier on Oct. 23, 1975. Diallo, who had come from western Africa to Havana on scholarship two years earlier to study agricultural engineering, attended a rally of 800,000 people in the Plaza of the Revolution as Fidel Castro announced the military mission to support the anti-colonial Angolan movement and fight apartheid.

“I followed Fidel’s speech and it was compelling. Among the Guineans, 15 of us decided to give up our studies to go fight,” Diallo recalled recently in a phone interview from his home in Washington D.C. “We were so impressed and we were excited to go.”

Diallo said that as Africans, he and the other students felt a special obligation to help the Cubans fight for the liberation of other African countries. Since the early 1960s, Cuba had provided crucial support to movements throughout Africa seeking to free themselves from colonialism.

In Guinea-Bissau, Cuba had provided military instructors and doctors, enabling the rebels to gain their independence from Portugal two years earlier. After the Portuguese dictatorship fell in 1974 and Portugal prepared to grant Angola independence on Nov. 11, 1975, three local movements fought to take power.


Chilean government acknowledges poet Pablo Neruda might have been killed

Source: Associated Press

Chilean government acknowledges poet Pablo Neruda might have been killed

A panel of experts continues to investigate whether the Nobel-winning poet Pablo Neruda was killed by the Pinochet dictatorship

The Associated Press
November 5, 2015

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile’s government is acknowledging that Nobel-prize winning poet Pablo Neruda might have been killed after the 1973 coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power.

The Interior Ministry released a statement Thursday amid press reports that Neruda might not have died of cancer. The statement acknowledged a ministry document dated March of this year, which was published by the newspaper El Pais in Spain.

“It’s clearly possible and highly probable that a third party” was responsible for Neruda’s death, the document said. However, the ministry cautioned that a panel of experts investigating the highly disputed topic had not reached a conclusion.

Neruda was best known for his love poems. But he was also a leftist politician and diplomat and close friend of Marxist President Salvador Allende, who committed suicide rather than surrender to troops during the Sept. 11, 1973, coup led by Pinochet.

Read more: http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/chilean-government-acknowledges-poet-pablo-neruda-might-have-been-killed/

World's highest glaciers, in Peruvian Andes, may disappear within 40 years

World's highest glaciers, in Peruvian Andes, may disappear within 40 years

Updated 5 November 2015, 16:05 AEDT
By Krista Eleftheriou

It's the world's highest tropical glacial field and scientists predict it will be gone within 40 years.

[font size=1]
Water flows into the glacier lake, Laguna 69, in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru. These
glaciers are disappearing over time. (Credit: ABC licensed)
In the process, it is likely to deliver water shortages and catastrophic floods to towns in the Peruvian Andes.

More than 2,500 glaciers slice through the mountain peaks of Peru. Around 660 of them lie in the country's highest mountain range, the UNESCO listed Cordillera Blanca.

The United Nations body warns the glacial retreat threaten the livelihoods of 2 million people, living in the valleys below and the desert coastal cities that rely on the glaciers' water.

"In the last 40 years the glaciers have retreated at least 34 per cent," Huaraz based Glaciologist and Civil Engineer Cesar Portocarrero said.


In Colombian mountains, natives see in winter, honouring the dead

In Colombian mountains, natives see in winter, honouring the dead
By Florence Panoussian (AFP) 3 hours ago

As millions elsewhere celebrate Halloween in fancy costume dress, for the Misak people of southeastern Colombia the coming of November is a solemn occasion to honour the dead.

Of the scores of indigenous groups in Colombia, the Misak are considered to have best conserved their ancestral traditions, which at the coming of winter means making offerings to their ancestors.

"For us, the year 2015 ended on October 31," said Manuel Julio Tomina, 52, a traditional doctor in this community around the town of Silvia, home to 14,500 of the 20,000 Misaks in Colombia.

"The new year started on November 1 and all the spirits of the dead come to visit us. Here people make offerings around the fireplace and all over the house."

The Misaks live at more than 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) altitude in the Andes.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/in-colombian-mountains-natives-see-in-winter-honouring-the-dead/article/448331#ixzz3qVpk1U4Q



Colombia to close popular Caribbean Park for natural protection

Colombia to close popular Caribbean Park for natural protection

English.news.cn 2015-10-29 13:38:19

BOGOTA, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Colombian authorities decided to temporarily close Tayrona National Nature Park, one of its most popular tourist destinations in the northern Caribbean region, in response to an indigenous community petition to protect nature.

The tourists ban takes effect on Nov. 1 and lasts one month.

The closure came after the indigenous community of Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta asked the authorities to close the park to revitalize the environment of Tayrona, a protected area with a diverse and rare

Tayrona Park, located a few kilometers east of Santa Marta city, covers approximately 30 square kilometers of maritime area in the Caribbean sea and approximately 150 square kilometers of land.

It boasts a variety of climate and geographical features, housing an extensive classification of animal species.


(Short article, no more at link.)


Local fauna - Tayrona Natural National Park, Colombia


For the indigenous peoples living on the steep slopes of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, sustaining the balance of the spiritual and ecological world is their sacred task. They call themselves the Elder Brothers, the guardians of the Earth, and the rest of modern civilization are the Younger Brothers, whose exploitative practices are destroying the mountain’s ecosystem and, by extension, the rest of the planet. The four indigenous groups of this region—the Kogi, Wiwa, Arhuaco and Kankuamo—believe the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the beating heart of the world: what happens here happens everywhere, and when its rivers run dry, its ice caps melt and its endemic species disappear, so do the rest of the world’s. They maintain their deep commitment to restoring equilibrium to the Earth through daily meditations, ritual practices and mental discipline, and they have continued this vigilance even as the Younger Brothers have encroached into the mountain with logging, mineral extraction, commercial plantations and drug-crop cultivation that placed them at the center of violence between warring factions in Colombia’s protracted civil war. Protecting the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta’s water resources is now their focus, as they protest projects that will dam two mountain rivers and a massive ocean port development that will export natural resources mined in the region while also blocking access to a sacred site by the sea. In 2007, the four tribes issued a joint statement condemning the projects: “From the beginning of these projects we have expressed in many ways our opposition … They negatively affect our way of life, they degrade the environment, and they violate every part of the Constitution that pertains to the fundamental rights of our people.”

The Land and Its People The four existing indigenous tribes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta are the remnants of a sophisticated pre-Hispanic civilization known as the Tayrona. When the first Spaniards set foot in Colombia in the 16th century, they found a civilization that practiced sustainable farming through crop rotation and vertical ecology, built terraced drainage systems that minimized erosion, and produced exceptional gold and pottery work. But the conquistadores drove the tribes high up into the mountain, where they tried to protect their culture through isolation. The Kogi were able to maintain the most traditional culture while the Wiwa and Arhuaco experienced different levels of acculturation. The Kankuamo, who had all but disappeared, are now working to recover their language and culture. Estimates for the total number of native people living in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range between 35,000 and 51,000. Though the tribes speak different languages, they have nevertheless retained a common spiritual tradition. According to this tradition, when the great Mother created the world, she spun a spindle, and the threads that unspooled crossed to form the four Tayrona peoples and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta itself. Within the indigenous communities, every action and behavior is informed by what they call the “Law of Origin,” an ecological philosophy that governs their relationship to nature, animals, weather, bodies of water and the cycles of the planets and stars. The spiritual practices and ethical beliefs of the Tayrona revolve around their conception of aluna, which is the belief that all reality is created by thought, and that every object or being has both a physical reality and a spiritual essence, all originating in thought. The tribes’ highly trained ritual priests—the mamas—communicate in the aluna dimension through ritual and meditation. In their communion with the aluna world, the mamas focus on maintaining the ecological and spiritual equilibrium of the mountain. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a singular ecosystem. This multi-peaked volcanic massif, located just 25 miles inland from Colombia’s northeastern Caribbean coast and rising to a height of nearly 19,000 feet, is the world’s highest coastal mountain. Shaped like a pyramid—each side approximately 90 miles long—the mountain climbs through multiple ecological zones, from the wetlands and mangroves along the coast, through tropical rain forests, deserts and alpine tundra, until finally reaching the snow-capped peaks. Thousands of plant and hundreds of animal species, dozens of which are endemic, have been found here, including 628 bird species—about equal to what has been identified in the United States and Canada combined. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is drained by more than 30 rivers, which makes it an invaluable water source for the 1.5 million people who live in the cities and towns that circle the base of the mountain. It is this rich water resource that is now threatened by the multiple dam and irrigation projects currently under way.

- See more at: http://www.sacredland.org/sierra-nevada-de-santa-marta/trackback/#sthash.CfDmeSQM.dpuf

‘Sicario’ Film Review: Dirty War on Mexican Drug Cartels Could Become Reality

‘Sicario’ Film Review: Dirty War on Mexican Drug Cartels Could Become Reality
Posted on Oct 28, 2015
By Sebastian Rotella / ProPublica

[center] [/center]

I saw the movie “Sicario” the other day. And it reminded me why the border still haunts me.

“Sicario” is an important contribution to a cinematic genre that examines the dark realities of the U.S.-Mexico border. The film centers on an FBI agent in Arizona who joins a shadowy, CIA-led task force pursuing a Mexican drug lord. She becomes alarmed by secretive, brutal methods that leave a trail of corpses. She discovers that the unit’s mysterious Colombian “consultant” is an assassin (sicario) unleashed by the U.S. government on the cartels.

“Sicario” has drawn admiring reviews, commentary about the tough subject, and criticism in Mexico. My editors asked me to assess its portrayal of the underworlds of the U.S.-Mexico border.

I covered the borderlands for the Los Angeles Times in the 1990s and return there now and then. I’ve spent years reporting about mafias, justice and intrigue across the Americas and around the world. And I’ve written fiction and nonfiction in which the border plays a big role.

My first novel, “Triple Crossing,” describes the troubled dreams of a rookie Border Patrol agent: “The border seethed on the edge of his sleep. Haunting him. Disembodied faces surging up out of the riverbed at him.”

That image comes from personal experience. I still see the faces of people I knew — heroes and outlaws, bigshots and grunts — who lived intensely and died violently.

I remember interviewing a reformist police chief days before rogue federal cops assassinated him. I see a young prosecutor in a Tijuana diner telling me about investigating the chief’s murder — 18 months before killers butchered him in front of his house. I relive an early-morning phone call with sad news about a gentle, doomed warden who let me explore one of the world’s strangest prisons: a savage village where gangsters lived with their families, inmates ran shops and eateries, and gunfights erupted on the basketball court at high noon.

So I watched “Sicario” with a wary but respectful eye. I once wrote that the storytellers of the border know there is no better story in the world. But it’s a hard tale to tell, especially for Americans. Even if you speak fluent Spanish and have walked both sides of the line.


Do Indian Lives Matter? Police Violence Against Native Americans

October 29, 2015
Do Indian Lives Matter? Police Violence Against Native Americans

by Debra Loevy

With all our talk about police violence aimed at poor and minority communities, we have yet to talk about the group most likely to be killed by law enforcement: Native Americans.

Native American men are incarcerated at four times the rate of white men and Native American women are sent to prison at six times the rate of white women. Those are pretty stunning statistics on their own. Even more stunning is that although Native Americans comprise only .8% of the population, with these elevated rates of police encounters, they make up three out of the top five top age-groups that are most likely to be killed by law enforcement.

Unlike racial profiling of other communities of color, law enforcement’s singling out of Native Americans is not limited to racial profiling based on the color of the person’s skin. There are also geographic components, for those living or working on reservation land. And in South Dakota many Native Americans complain that the police target people driving cars or trucks with license plates that start with the number 6, which identifies that the car is registered to a resident of a reservation.

Law enforcement’s pattern of immediately escalating encounters with Native American communities has led to many horrifying results. To see how this plays out first hand, consider the following video. In it, a 50 year old Native American man named John T. Williams ambles across the street at a Seattle cross walk. He is an accomplished artist – a wood carver – and he has a knife and a piece of wood in his hand. A Seattle police officer immediately escalates this non-situation. The officer jumps from his squad car, shouts at Mr. Williams to put the knife down, and a few seconds later, guns Williams down in three shot. There’s no claim that Mr. Williams was threatening anyone or acting aggressively, only that he was carving the piece of wood in his hand as he walked and that he did not drop the knife fast enough when ordered to do so. (It turns out that Mr. Williams was deaf in one ear, and the officer approached him from behind, which likely explains why his reflexes were just not fast enough). Keep in mind, as you ponder this incident or watch the video, that in Washington State (as with most states) it is perfectly legal to walk around toting a gun. Yet, an officer kills a non-aggressive man, merely for whittling with a knife while he walks? It is unfathomable. Except that it occurred. This senseless shooting gives you an idea how it is that the police kill Native Americans at a higher rate than any other ethnic group.


Pregnant and homeless in the Arctic: housing crisis hits Canadian territory

Pregnant and homeless in the Arctic: housing crisis hits Canadian territory

Family’s story of life in a makeshift tent in Iqaluit underscores severe public housing crisis in Canada’s northernmost territory

Thursday 29 October 2015 11.54 EDT

Conditions in the Arctic town of Iqaluit are tough at the best of times: temperatures drop well below freezing for two thirds of the year, and in the winter, the settlement – capital of Canada’s northernmost territory Nunavut – is strafed by blizzards.

But for the past three months, an indigenous family of six, including a pregnant woman and an 18-month-old baby, have been forced to live in a makeshift tent in the town while they wait for public housing.

Since July, Alison Nakoolak, 36, her partner Norman Laisa and their four children have been living in the tarp-covered tent after losing their home when Laisa gave up a second job.

“It’s cold inside the tent,” Nakoolak told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “It’s hard for us to live there.”

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