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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 149,384

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Even archbishops receive death threats for supporting peace in Colombia

Source: Colombia Reports

written by Adriaan Alsema December 19, 2016

Colombia’s recent wave of assassinations and death threats against rights defenders and community leaders has reached a new low after the archbishop of Cali, an active supporter of peace, received a death threat.

“Death to the FARC, to Santos and to all communist clergies,” Archbishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve was told in a letter addressed to him but delivered at the home of an assistant clergy.

The letter is the latest act or threat of deadly violence that has marred opposition to the peace processes sought by President Juan Manuel Santos who received a Nobel Peace Prize for successfully negotiating peace with the FARC.

But the FARC peace deal, and in particular its transitional justice clause, has opened a cesspool of political violence and crime left in impunity when paramilitary group AUC demobilized between 2003 and 2006.

Read more: http://colombiareports.com/even-archbishops-receive-death-threats-supporting-peace-colombia/

In Cuba, American tourists increase demand for hotels

In Cuba, American tourists increase demand for hotels

December 17, 2016 at 3:51 PM EST

- video at link -

Two years ago, President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba. Since then, Cold War-era travel restrictions that prohibited most Americans from visiting were lifted, leading to a surge of U.S. tourists and a scramble to accommodate them. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Amy Guttman looks at the growing hospitality industry in Cuba.


Countering the Buffalo-Killing Agenda

December 16, 2016
Countering the Buffalo-Killing Agenda

by Stephany Seay

Each year, Yellowstone National Park announces that they “need” to kill hundreds of buffalo to placate rancher’s unfounded fears and prejudices. With the assistance of the media, they manipulate facts and language in an attempt to persuade the public to believe their lies. For example, see the recent AP article, “Yellowstone Park Looks at Large Bison Cull to Trim Herds.” This brief but damaging propaganda is loaded with false premises supporting their buffalo-killing agenda.

Premise 1: hundreds of bison need to be killed to reduce herd size. Why do the herds of ecologically extinct wild bison need to be reduced? Scientists acknowledge that Yellowstone can support more than 6,500 individuals, and wild, migratory buffalo also create their own habitat. Gallatin National Forest, surrounding the north and west boundaries of Yellowstone, encompasses an additional 3 million acres which could support thousands more buffalo, while the whole of the Greater Yellowstone Bio-Community is around 20 million acres. The continent can support tens of millions of bison, yet, today, a few thousand is deemed “too many.” Compared to what? The 23 who saved themselves from extinction in Yellowstone’s remote Pelican Valley? The politics of competition is using declining baselines to define populations; instead we should compare them to those before European invasion and exploitation.

Premise 2: bison are spilling into neighboring Montana. When did seasonal migration become an accident? Do elk and deer “spill” over park boundaries? This is just more livestock rhetoric. Wild buffalo aren’t “park animals” who should stay put within artificial, ecologically meaningless boundaries for the “benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Migration is not some error that humans should correct.

Premise 3: 5,500 bison is a high number. Declining baselines again (see Premise 1). Interestingly, Yellowstone now claims they “underestimated” the population last year. How did these professionals miss counting over 1,000 of America’s largest land mammals? Who’s to say they aren’t overestimating now to serve livestock agendas? Yellowstone’s Central Herd, which migrates north and west is doubly impacted by management actions; they haven’t recovered from the 2008 slaughter. In spring, our field patrols typically see 400-600 buffalo in the Hebgen Basin, but last spring we saw fewer than 250 total. Recons into the park, to places suggested by Yellowstone’s bison biologist, also failed to reveal where these buffalo were. In what corner of Yellowstone were a thousand buffalo hiding? How convenient that this “mistake” is revealed when it’s time for them to kill again.


For Indigenous People in the Americas, Standing Rock Illustrates Centuries of Conflict

December 16, 2016
For Indigenous People in the Americas, Standing Rock Illustrates Centuries of Conflict

by Lewis Evans

The recent announcement by the United States military that it would not allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to jeopardize the lands and water sources of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was a remarkable landmark for indigenous struggles in the Americas. Though the victory might well not be permanent, it is still worth celebrating. However, it is vitally important that we do not lose sight of the many similar struggles indigenous and tribal peoples are facing around the world. From the scrublands of Patagonia to the icy reaches of the Arctic, the images of the Standing Rock protests that have been splashed across the American media may prove to be not only an inspiration, but a decisive turning point.

Of the hundreds of powerful photos currently that have circulated online of the extraordinary face-off between the Sioux protestors and North Dakota police, one is perhaps especially eye-catching. It shows a young Native American man wearing jeans, cowboy boots, and what appears to be an improvised gas mask, on a horse looking out at a police barricade. Behind a makeshift wall of abandoned tires and wood is a phalanx of police in uniform and helmets holding wooden clubs. They are flanked by armored vehicles that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Iraqi or Afghan wars.

The image evokes civil rights struggles of the recent past. The police with their tan shirts and macho postures even look like the men in 1960s Alabama who were photographed using water cannons and setting dogs on African American protestors. As far as indigenous peoples across the Americas are concerned however, it has an even older history. Those police, protecting the commercial interests of a major oil company, are merely the latest representatives of colonial powers that have appropriated indigenous land and resources and ruthlessly crushed resistance since 1492.

If the Dakota Access Pipeline was the only struggle of its kind going on in the American hemisphere in 2016 it would be easy to focus human rights and environmental campaigning efforts. Sadly however, it is simply the best known and most widely publicized example of a conflict over land and resources that cannot be ignored, and which is unwinding as we speak.


Mexico plans to catch, protect last few vaquita porpoises

Mexico plans to catch, protect last few vaquita porpoises

Mark Stevenson, Associated Press

Updated 11:40 pm, Thursday, December 15, 2016

MEXICO CITY (AP) — So few of Mexico's vaquita porpoises remain that the international committee to protect the endangered species is preparing to catch and enclose as many as it can in a last-ditch effort to save them from extinction, experts said Thursday.

It will be a risky effort, because the species has never been held successfully in captivity.

According to rough estimates, only about three dozen of the world's smallest porpoise remain in the upper Gulf of California, the only place it lives. With population numbers falling by 40 percent annually — there were 60 alive a year ago — there could now be as few as eight breeding females left.

Fishermen lured by Chinese demand for a fish that swims in the same waters have apparently defeated Mexico's efforts to protect the vaquita in its natural habitat.



Mexico removes 'ghost' nets to save tiny porpoise

Mexico removes 'ghost' nets to save tiny porpoise

December 15, 2016

The Mexican government has removed so-called "ghost" fishing nets that are left floating in the sea in another effort to save the world's smallest porpoise, the vaquita marina, from extinction.

The environment ministry said Thursday that the navy, conservation groups and fishermen removed 103 nets between October 10 and December 7 in the upper Gulf of California.

The vaquita's population dropped to around 60 late last year despite the government's deployment of navy ships in April 2015 to prevent illegal fishing with nets that accidentally ensnare the porpoise.

Three drones joined the campaign in July, armed with high-resolution cameras to spot illegal activities in the Gulf area also known as the Sea of Cortez.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-12-mexico-ghost-nets-tiny-porpoise.html#jCp

Long Read: Latin Americas Schindler: a forgotten hero of the 20th century

Under General Pinochet’s rule of terror in Chile, one man saved thousands of people from the dictator’s brutal secret police. How did Roberto Kozak do it – and escape death?

by Ewen MacAskill and Jonathan Franklin

Wednesday 14 December 2016 01.00 EST

Just before 10am on New Year’s Eve 1986, armed men arrived at the office of a small organisation for the resettlement of migrants, in Santiago, Chile. They immediately began rounding up staff. “They tossed us in the meeting room, on the floor, face down. They cut computer cables and tied us up, wrist to wrist,” recalled Eliana Infante, one of the staff. “After they tied us up, they asked, ‘Which of you is the communist son of a bitch Roberto Kozak?’”

A tall, strikingly handsome and immaculately dressed man stood up. “That’s me,” he said, calmly.

Kozak was marched down a flight of stairs. With a machine gun to his head, he was forced to lie on top of a conference table while he was interrogated by the paramilitaries.

The gunmen were members of a rightwing death squad ultra-loyal to the Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet. They were looking for guns and money that they suspected were stashed in Kozak’s office: the Santiago branch of the Geneva-based Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM). They were also looking for evidence that Kozak was implicated in an assassination attempt on Pinochet a few months earlier, which had left five of the dictator’s bodyguards dead.


The neo-Nazi murder trial revealing Germany's darkest secrets

The neo-Nazi murder trial revealing Germany's darkest secrets

The only known survivor of a far-right group accused of a series of racist killings is now on trial. But the case has put the nation itself in the dock

by Thomas Meaney and Saskia Schäfer
Thursday 15 December 2016 00.59 EST

The Guardian

In the beginning, they were known as die Dönermorde – the kebab murders. The victims had little in common, apart from immigrant backgrounds and the modest businesses they ran. The first to die was Enver Şimşek, a 38-year-old Turkish-German man who ran a flower-import company in the southern German town of Nuremberg. On 9 September 2000, he was shot inside his van by two gunmen, and died in hospital two days later.

The following June, in the same city, 49-year-old Abdurrahim Özüdoğru was killed by two bullets while helping out after hours in a tailor’s shop. Two weeks later, in Hamburg, 500km north, Süleyman Taşköprü, 31, was shot three times and died in his greengrocer’s shop. Two months later, in August 2001, greengrocer Habil Kılıç, 38, was shot twice in his shop in the Munich suburbs.

The crime scenes indicated that the killers favoured a particular execution method. Typically, several shots were fired at close range to the face. Most of the bullets were traced back to a single weapon, a silenced Česká CZ 83 pistol. Police assumed that the professional method of killing, as well as the intimate nature of the murders – when they died, the victims were presumably looking directly into the eyes of their killers – meant that the executions must have been carried out by Turkish gangsters fighting out turf battles. No hard evidence ever substantiated this theory. Nevertheless, the taskforce assigned by the German authorities to the case was given the name “Bosphorus”.

The Bosphorus team tried to persuade the widow of Enver Şimşek, the first victim, to say that her husband was connected to the Turkish mafia. They invented a false story of marital infidelity – that Şimşek was having an affair and had a secret family elsewhere – in the hope that her fury would lead her to reveal his non-existent underworld ties. She said nothing, but the police continued to waste time and resources attempting to prove the killings were the work of Turkish gangs.


Peruvian activists fight for forcibly sterilized women

Source: Reuters

Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:00am EST

By Sophie Davies

LIMA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Feminist activists in Peru are fighting a government decision to stop investigating claims by women who say they were forcibly sterilized, arguing that thousands of women deserve to have their cases heard.

Some 350,000 women were sterilized in the mid-1990s under a program promoted by former president Alberto Fujimori, who argued a lower birth rate was crucial to eliminating poverty in Peru.

Many were sterilized without their knowledge and consent, and those who refused were often threatened with a fine or prison, say activists who view the campaign as one of Peru's biggest human rights scandals.

. . .

Many of the women sterilized were indigenous peasants from the nation's poorest areas. Those who signed consent forms in Spanish were illiterate and spoke only the indigenous Quechua language, rights groups say.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-peru-women-sterilisation-idUSKBN1430JQ?rpc=401&

A Massacre in the Rear View Mirror: El Mozote at 35

by Christy Rodgers / December 12th, 2016

In three days, from December 11-13, 1981, U.S.-trained troops in Central America’s smallest, most densely populated republic, El Salvador, rounded up and killed over a thousand unarmed civilians in the hamlet of El Mozote, in Morazán province, near the Honduran border. This massacre, I believe, still has the dubious distinction of being the largest mass killing of civilians by state forces in the Western Hemisphere in the 20th century.

Most people who know anything about the Central American civil wars in the last decades of the Cold War know that they were U.S. proxy wars, the Reagan Administration’s “line in the palms” against Soviet expansion. In Weakness and Deceit, then New York Times foreign correspondent Raymond Bonner carefully exposed the bloody fingerprints of the administration on that massacre and the years-long cover-up that followed, and was exiled from the paper for his pains.

El Salvador’s twelve-year civil war ended in a negotiated settlement, after displacing a fifth of the country’s population of five million and killing over 75,000. And after billions of U.S. tax dollars were poured in to prop up its army and political class by Carter, Reagan and Bush – El Salvador was at one time the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world, after Israel and Egypt. The war was followed by fifteen years of right-wing dominated plutocratic governments that institutionalized denial, and pushed through a craven amnesty for all military and political figures implicated in war crimes, while they continued (a little more discreetly than before) looting the country. A few triggermen were prosecuted for death squad activities but by and large, the major perps walked free, some of them settling comfortably in the U.S. A lot of other Salvadorans ended up in the U.S. as well, but the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service worked diligently to ensure that none of those who had fled government repression were given political asylum.

El Salvador’s guerrilla army, the FMLN, had taken swifter, if limited, justice: in 1984, they lured the massacre’s engineer and top commander Colonel Domingo Monterrosa into a booby-trapped helicopter by letting him think he had captured the transmitter for the guerrilla radio station, Radio Venceremos. They blew him up in mid-air. A pretty good film, Trap for a Cat, made by a Venezuelan filmmaker sympathetic to the struggle tells this as a story of poetic justice, with some dramatic license.

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