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Judi Lynn

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Colombia has 4th highest business tax rates in the world

Colombia has 4th highest business tax rates in the world
Posted by Claire Dennis on Oct 14, 2015

Colombia ranks fourth in the world for having the highest tax rates for businesses, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.

On average, 75.4% of a business’ profits go towards taxes, according to the report.

This exceptionally high number places Colombia right at the bottom of competitiveness for this category: #137 out of the 140 countries measured in the report. While it’s fourth in the world, Colombia managed to rank only third in Latin America for highest tax rates, behind Argentina (#1) and Bolivia (#2).

. . .

Consequently, the most problematic factor for doing business in Colombia is the South American country’s tax system, followed closely by corruption. The high tax rates reduce incentives to invest in Colombian businesses, and especially cause injury to smaller businesses, which have a narrower profit margin.


Mexico: Sting joins Amnesty International's campaign against disappearances

Mexico: Sting joins Amnesty International's campaign against disappearances
13 Oct 2015, 1:46pm

In support of Amnesty International’s campaign against disappearances in Mexico, world-renowned singer and songwriter Sting met this weekend with relatives of some of the thousands who have gone missing in the country.

More than 26,500 people have disappeared or gone missing in Mexico in the last few years, almost half of them during the current administration of President Peña Nieto.

Sting said:

“It is not hard to imagine the anguish and torment that families undergo when a loved one disappears, vanishes without trace or explanation, when attempts to find them or discover their fate are frustrated by the apparent indifference of the authorities to a situation that has become an epidemic in Mexico.

“I met with some of the families, but they are just the tip of the iceberg, I call on the Mexican government to follow up on these cases far more vigorously, to find and prosecute those responsible and to prevent through legislation this scourge of disappearances and human rights abuses.”


Native American Day 2015: Facts And History For North America's First Residents, Before Christopher

Source: International Business Times

Native American Day 2015: Facts And History For North America's First Residents, Before Christopher Columbus

By Jess McHugh @McHughJess j.mchugh@ibtimes.com on October 11 2015 5:05 PM EDT

[font size=1]
Native American advocacy groups have pushed to change Columbus Day to Native American Day or Indigenous People's Day. Pictured: Lakota
spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attended a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in January 2015. AFP/Getty Images
As people around the United States celebrate Columbus Day Monday, with government offices and most schools closed, many others will be hosting festivities for an alternative celebration: Native American Day. The relatively new holiday, celebrated in cities and towns across the country, was started as a way to honor the indigenous people who were living in North and South America long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

At least nine cities in the U.S. will be officially celebrating "Indigenous Peoples Day" this year, including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota, and Olympia, Washington, the Associated Press reported. Many of the festivities on this day involve celebrating traditions specific to the tribes of the region as well as educating other people about the culture and history of Native Americans.

The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain, landing in what is now the Bahamas in 1492. Columbus since has been credited with discovering the New World. Indigenous people from tribes across North and South America have protested his title as discoverer, pointing out that they had lived in the Americas long before 1492. Some scientists estimate the indigenous people in the Americas arrived at least 12,000 years ago.

Columbus' journey led to thousands of Europeans from across the continent leaving to come to the Americas to make their fortunes. As more and more settlers arrived, the Europeans often used force to push Native Americans off their land. Europeans also brought with them many diseases to which the native population never had been exposed and to which they had no immunity, such as smallpox and measles. As many as 20 million Native Americans died in the centuries following the arrival of European settlers.

Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/native-american-day-2015-facts-history-north-americas-first-residents-christopher-2136416

Easy Money: Cubans leave island to retire in Florida with US benefits

Easy Money: Cubans leave island to retire in Florida with US benefits

By Megan O’Matz, Sally Kestin and John Maines
Sun Sentinel
Published: October 9, 2015

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — More Cubans are coming to Florida in their golden years to retire, able to tap U.S. government assistance even though they never lived or worked here. The number of Cubans arriving over the age of 60 grew fivefold since 2010, according to state refugee data. At least 185 made the crossing in their 80s or 90s. Unlike most other immigrants, Cubans qualify immediately for food stamps and Medicaid. If they are over 65 with little or no income, they also can collect a monthly check of up to $733 in Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

“They’re getting cheap apartments, food stamps,” said Cuban-born attorney Pedro Fuentes-Cid of Tampa. “They tell their friends in Cuba, and they come over.”

The United States makes it possible under a humanitarian policy of treating Cubans who arrive as refugees. Elderly immigrants interviewed by the Sun Sentinel said they came primarily to be with family, met the aid qualifications and are grateful for the help.

Jose Angel Rodriguez immigrated at 81 to join his daughter. He now lives in Miami on food stamps, Medicaid and SSI. “It wasn’t that bad in Cuba,” he said. “But here, I’m better.”


Ecuador Rejects British Film on Yasuni Oil Road, Releases Own Video

Ecuador Rejects British Film on Yasuni Oil Road, Releases Own Video

By System Admin October 07 2015

Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment has publicly rejected a British documentary done by journalist Nina Bigalke called "Journey to Ecuador's Secret Oil Road" and has published a video of its own discussing oil operations being executed in Block 31, located in Yasuni National Park.

"We reject @NinaBigalke video," said Minister Lorena Tapia on Twitter. "I invite you to see the truth and our commitment to the environment." Tapia attached the weblink of the video done by the ministry to her tweet; the video (in Spanish) is available on the Ministry's YouTube channel.

The video explains security measures implemented in Block 31 to protect flora and fauna of the area and denies Bigalke’s statements regarding the existence of a road and its dimensions. The ministry refers to the alleged road as a sendero or trail and states that it is made of dirt and Megadeck shoring mats, which can be removed when oil operations are finished.

A team of journalists from the Andes Agency visited Block 31 in May and confirmed there is an dirt trail that is 20 km long and 10 meters wide in total. Four meters are used as a lane for vehicle travel and six meters make up the road shoulder or right-of-way, where oil and fiber optic pipes are buried. The six-meter shoulder was already reforested with trees native to the area, and there is also a seedbed where native trees are being planted in order to reforest the entire area in the future.

[font size=1]
Disputed trail from the air[/font] [/center]

Originally published in ANDES on October 7, 2015.

These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages

October 9, 2015
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages

by Margaret Knapke

“Abortion” in English is aborto provocado in Spanish. “Miscarriage” is aborto espontáneo. Simple enough.

Yet in El Salvador, a largely Catholic Central American country of around 6 million, this distinction has been blurred. For many expectant mothers, pregnancy losses — unexpected, frightening, and tragic — have been declared intentional and criminal. Some of these mothers are doing hard time.

Why is this happening?

The country’s 1998 penal code — which was enacted under a right-wing president but remains in force under the country’s current center-left government — prohibits abortion in all circumstances. That includes even when the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy, the fetus is severely abnormal or nonviable, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The following year, the country’s constitution was amended to give the embryonic human a right to life from the moment of conception, reinforcing the total ban.

Now a woman convicted of having an abortion can be sentenced to 2-8 years in prison, while medical professionals assisting her can serve 6-12 years. Complicating matters, penalties for women increase dramatically when they’re charged with aggravated homicide of a family member, which can happen when the lost fetus is considered to have been viable. Mothers can be sentenced up to 50 years in prison on these charges.

This August, I was part of a U.S. delegation led by Roy Bourgeois from the School of Americas Watch and organized by the Center for Exchange and Solidarity, or CIS. We went to San Salvador to learn more about this no-exception anti-abortion law and the punitive atmosphere it has fostered.


Rich Guy’s Inequality Fix: Raises for Workers. Just Kidding! It’s ‘Give Free Stuff to Rich Guys’

Tuesday, Oct 6, 2015, 1:32 pm

Rich Guy’s Inequality Fix: Raises for Workers. Just Kidding! It’s ‘Give Free Stuff to Rich Guys’

BY Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers President

Republicans and the rich guys who imposed on American workers 35 years of stagnant wages now offer a prescription for easing this pain.

Their solution for robber-baron-level income inequality is not the obvious: Give workers raises. They don’t want to increase the minimum wage, which would eventually push up pay for everyone else as well. They don’t intend to provide paid sick leave or decent pensions or fewer unstable contract jobs. They have no intention of strengthening unions so workers can collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions.

Instead of any of those straightforward measures, rich guys and corporate-owned Republicans assert that the solution is more free stuff for corporations! The government, they say, should provide that free stuff. The government, the very organization they deride and despise and denounce as incompetent and deserving of nothing but cutting and shrinking and destroying! Yes, they actually contend that very same government should take the taxes paid by workers and give that money to corporations to improve worker wages and working conditions!

This rich guy, Peter Georgescu, chairman emeritus of the PR firm Young & Rubicam, said in a New York Times op-ed in August that he feared the current grotesque level of income inequality would provoke major social unrest or oppressive tax levies on the rich – unless the rich did something about it right away. To avert restoration of the higher income tax levels that the rich paid from 1935 to 1985, Georgescu recommended that the federal government give money to businesses to raise the wages of workers earning less than $80,000 a year.


Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala, Part 1

October 6, 2015 | Edward Curtin

Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala, Part 1

A Trail of Bodies Leads Back to the USA

A friend of mine told me the following curious story. In the early 1990s, while taking a course at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, he sat next to an ordinary-looking older man, a soft-spoken, pudgy fellow, who said he was from Guatemala. After a few weeks into the term, he came to class one day and found the man sitting alone, far from the other students, who seemed to be avoiding him.

Another student explained to my friend who the man was: Hector Gramajo, a former Guatemalan general and defense minister who was there on a Mason fellowship, studying for a degree in public administration. While he was Army Vice-Chief of Staff and Director of the Army General Staff, the Guatemalan army massacred more than 75,000 Mayans in what a United Nations Truth Commission later (1999) called genocide.

On graduation day, while in his academic gown, Gramajo was handed court papers informing him that he was being sued in the US by eight Guatemalans who together with family members had been abused by soldiers under his command. Later, the lawsuit was joined by one from Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American nun, who had been raped and tortured by Gramajo’s men.

He didn’t contest the lawsuit; he just ignored it, and left the US for Guatemala to run for – what else! – the presidency. Before he left, however, he gave a public lecture at Harvard and, blessed by that august institution, and with his prestigious degree in hand, went to his other alma mater, the School of the Americas (SOA), which some refer to as the “School of Assassins,” at Ft. Benning, where he gave the commencement address. (More on this “educational” organization below.)


[center]~ ~ ~[/center]
October 7, 2015 | Edward Curtin

Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala, Part 2

A Trail of Bodies Leads Back to the USA

[font size=1]United Fruit Company Building. Photo credit: Michael Bentley / Flickr (CC BY 2.0) [/font]

Guatemala’s current situation and tragic history can be traced back to the CIA-led coup in 1954 that ousted the democratically elected government of President Jacobo Arbenz and installed the military dictator Carlos Armas. Arbenz was an advocate for land reform and was loved by the poor. The wealthy hated him. And when the CIA couldn’t bribe him, they ousted him in a most humiliating way. Even after he went into exile, the agency used constant disinformation to smear him in every way imaginable until
his strange death in a bathtub in 1971.

[font size=1]
“President Arbenz delivers on his
promise — Farmers: here is your
land. Defend it, care for it, cultivate
it.” (1954)

One of a series of photos by Cornell
Capa, documenting the sweet,short-
lived dream of life under a
democracy. Photo credit: Cornell Capa
Since the 1954 coup, and with the ongoing support of the CIA and the School of the Americas (SOA), the Guatemalan people have lived a nightmare. What follows should give you a sense of the CIA’s thinking behind the coup and its aftermath. It is a transcription of a CIA document released to The National Security Archive, a research institute, on May 23, 1997 under a Freedom of Information Act request.

“A hammer, axe, wrench, screwdriver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice.” For an assassin using “edge weapons,” the manual notes in cold clinical terms, “puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached.”

“A Study of Assassination,” unsigned, undated:

Among the documents found in the training files of Operation PBSUCCESS and declassified by the Agency is a “Study of Assassination.” A how-to guide book in the art of political killing, the 19-page manual offers detailed descriptions of the procedures, instruments, and implementation of assassination. “The simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination,” counsels the study. “A hammer, axe, wrench, screwdriver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice.” For an assassin using “edge weapons,” the manual notes in cold clinical terms, “puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached…. Absolute reliability is obtained by severing the spinal cord in the cervical region.” The manual also notes that to provide plausible denial, “no assassination instructions should ever be written or recorded.” Murder, the drafters state, “is not morally justifiable,” and “persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.”

No, this dirty work is not for the “morally squeamish.”

If one is searching for the truth about the coup, the document above is accurate and revealing. However, if one searched the web and discovered a posting at globalsecurty.org (see sidebar at the end of the article) one would be misled. That posting is nothing more than a summary of a Congressional Research Service report. It never mentions Guatemala, although it includes other Latin American countries — Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and Peru. A gullible reader might come away with the impression that the School of the Americas had nothing to do with Guatemala, when, in fact, it had a great deal to do with it. Why leave out this country in particular?


In Peru water is a high price for Lima's poor

In Peru water is a high price for Lima's poor

By John Mervin
New York business editor, BBC News

1 hour ago

The IMF and World Bank are holding their annual meetings in Lima, Peru, and one of the issues delegates are considering is the problem of income inequality.

One of the cruellest insults of inequality in the capital Lima, for the poor, is how cheaply the rich often seem to live.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on a walk through the neighbourhood of Nueva Rinconada. It's a slum that spreads across one of the hills above the city.

Here, Lydia Sevillano and her neighbours pay a high price just to stay alive.

. . .

Oxfam estimates that a poor person in Lima pays ten times more for their water than someone living in an affluent residential area.


Alabama Puts Up More Hurdles for Voters

Alabama Puts Up More Hurdles for Voters

OCT. 8, 2015

Barely one year after Alabama’s voter-ID law went into effect, officials are planning to close 31 driver’s license offices across the state, including those in every county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters.

It’s ostensibly a cost-cutting effort, but coupled with the voter-ID law, these closings will make it even more difficult for many of the state’s most vulnerable voters to get one of the most common forms of identification now required to cast a vote.

Like voter-ID laws elsewhere, Alabama’s version requires voters to bring a government-issued photo ID to the polls. The rationale is that these laws are necessary to stop voter fraud. The problem is that in-person fraud — the only kind that voter-ID laws could conceivably prevent — almost never happens. Still, these laws have proliferated around the country, nearly always enacted by Republican-controlled legislatures at the expense of minorities, the poor and other groups who tend to vote Democratic.

Alabama has a long and ugly history of racial discrimination in voting. From 1965 on, at least 100 voting changes were blocked or altered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required Alabama and other states and jurisdictions with histories of discrimination to get federal approval before changing their voting practices. But in a 2013 case brought by Shelby County, Ala., the Supreme Court said that the section could not be applied to those states and jurisdictions because the data about discrimination was outdated. On the same day as that ruling, Alabama announced it would enforce its voter-ID law, which had passed in 2011 but was never submitted for approval.

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