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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 147,247

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Free market, my ass: How Kimberly-Clark fixed toilet paper prices in Colombia

Free market, my ass: How Kimberly-Clark fixed toilet paper prices in Colombia

written by Adriaan Alsema April 7, 2016

Colombia’s branch of multinational Kimberly-Clark and three other personal care companies face a $23 million fine over years-long illegal price-fixing.

According to the country’s Superintendency for Industry and Trade, Kimberly-Clark Colombia made illegal price-fixing arrangements with competitors Productos Familia, Papeles Nacionales and Cartones y Papeles de Risaralda.

Local media reported that 21 executives of the fined companies were also sanctioned for preventing competition through the “Toilet Paper Cartel.”

Consequently, the fair competition chief of the government watchdog recommended the Superintendency to impose the multi-million dollar-fine.


Venezuela: Regime change on the agenda?

Venezuela: Regime change on the agenda?

Apr Friday 8th 2016
posted by Morning Star

The Venezuelan right and the US president are ratcheting up the pressure on President Maduro. Solidarity is essential, writes TONY BURKE

VENEZUELA’S right-wing opposition last month launched a new campaign to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power, calling for his immediate resignation.

The last campaign to oust the elected constitutional president in 2014 led to a wave of violence.

“We call on the entire Venezuelan people in order to force Maduro to resign as the president of the country,” the executive secretary of the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition Jesus Torrealba told reporters. Torrealba also called on Venezuelans to take to the streets to demand Maduro’s resignation.

Responding to the right wing, the Socialist Party’s Diosdado Cabello, who is former head of the National Assembly, said: “They want to organise street rallies to generate violence and bring about a coup, supported by the US.”

His latter point is given credence by the fact that, just days before the Venezuelan right confirmed its campaign to oust Maduro, President Barack Obama renewed an executive order that declared Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

The order allows the US government to impose sanctions on Venezuela. Its renewal was announced by the president in a letter to congressional leaders, which claimed that alleged conditions that had first prompted the order had “not improved.”

When the executive order was first issued by Obama in March 2015, leaders from throughout the region condemned the decree and massive mobilisations took place in Venezuela. Obama eventually responded to this by seemingly admitting that Venezuela “does not pose a threat” to the United States in an interview with the EFE press agency, but his actions this week would suggest that the US is still strongly backing “regime change” in Venezuela.

The nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Union of South American Nations have again strongly criticised Obama’s move to renew the executive order.

It is true that Venezuela faces many problems, not least in terms of its economic difficulties. These are being exacerbated both by a conscious economic war — with echoes of the situation in Chile prior to the 1973 coup that brought General Pinochet to power — and the plunge in world oil prices. But the right’s programme of vicious neoliberalism — illustrated by its proposals for the mass sell-off of housing — will only make these worse, while reversing the gains in reduced poverty and inequality, plus increased labour rights, in recent years.

Throughout the labour and trade union movement, there is a collective memory of the awful developments that followed the overthrow of both Salvador Allende in Chile in the 1970s and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s.


Guatemala accuses 14 of forcing farmers to sell their land

Guatemala accuses 14 of forcing farmers to sell their land

Updated 6:18 pm, Wednesday, April 6, 2016

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemalan prosecutors have arrested 14 people who allegedly forced poor farmers to sell their land at cut-rate prices.

At least 28 farms were "bought" by gangsters who sometimes forced farmers to go to land offices at gunpoint. The gang later resold the land at market prices and pocketed the difference.

The farmers had received the land from the government as part of the 1996 peace accords that put an end to a 36-year civil war.

The U.N. commission against impunity in Guatemala says the gang used force, threats and deceit to get the land. The sales were registered by land office employees even though there were restrictions on such transfers.


If this follows a well-established pattern, the poor farmers' property will be part of a wealthy landowner's estate, or a mine, or a palm tree plantation, etc. This has been going on throughout the Americas, including the United States in its early days of the genocide against the US First People.

(Anyone wanting to make time for valuable information from a well-researched book, please consider reading An Indigenous Peoples' History of The United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, recommended by an exceedingly decent DU'er.)

An Unvanquished Movement

An Unvanquished Movement

Twenty-two years after their formation, the Zapatistas continue to resist the Mexican state’s repression.

by Paul Salgado

[font size=1]
Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico. Elizabeth Ruiz
In February, a federal judge in Mexico admitted that he had no choice but to accept that the state’s case against the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (ELZN) could not move forward. The charges of terrorism, sedition, riot, rebellion, and conspiracy filed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in 1994 against Insurgent Subcomandante Marcos and the indigenous leaders of the resistance were null and void: the statute of limitations had expired.

That the two-decade-long battle the Zapatistas waged against the Mexican government’s policy of privatization and neoliberalization would end with a legal whimper seems, at first blush, anticlimatic. But it is part of the famous black-balaclava-clad fighters’ long-term strategy: silence in the face of oppression and opposition.

The San Andrés Accords

The Zapatistas appeared for the first time on the morning of January 1, 1994 to protest the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Armed members of the Tsotsil, Tseltal, Ch’ol, and Tojolabal indigenous peoples — the poorest of the poor, some barefoot, some carrying guns dating from the 1910 Mexican Revolution, others carrying cardboard cutouts of rifles — seemed like characters from the novels of Carlos Fuentes or Laura Esquivel. Upon their arrival, they took over cities throughout Chiapas, freed prisoners in San Cristobal de las Casas, burned military outposts, and claimed the ranches of wealthy landowners as their own.

Although the world learned of their existence when their battalions came down from the mountains that freezing morning, they had been secretly organizing for the moment in their communities for ten years prior to the 1994 uprising.

“Our date of birth is November 17, 1983,” Subcomandate Insurgent Marcos — who has now changed his name to Galeano to honor a comrade assassinated by paramilitaries in 2014 — recalled. “We prepared in silence for a decade to shout ‘Enough!’,” he said. “By keeping our pain inside, we prepared to cry out in pain, because we could no longer wait and hope to be understood by those who didn’t even understand that they didn’t understand.”


How Mexico's attack on human rights undercut an international investigation

How Mexico's attack on human rights undercut an international investigation

Pushback goes beyond the Ayotzinapa case of missing students with reports of widespread torture and group accusing government of ‘smear campaign’

David Agren in Mexico City
Wednesday 6 April 2016 13.48 EDT

With little fanfare, Mexican officials have quietly tried to undercut an international investigation into one of the country’s worst human rights tragedies: the attack on 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training school, who were kidnapped and presumably killed by police and whose bodies have never been found.

At a press conference on Friday, an investigator working on a third inquiry into the case repeated the government’s claim that the students’ bodies were burned at a rubbish dump – even though two previous investigations by international experts have rejected the theory.

Forensic scientists from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) and the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, a non-governmental organisation, have both ruled out the government’s version of the events: weather records show it rained on the night of the students’ disappearance, while satellite images show there were no fires at the site on the night.

But the Mexican government seems intent on maintaining its theory – described by the former attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam as the “historical truth” – in an effort to close down a case that has caused international embarrassment and sent President Enrique Peña Nieto’s approval rating plummeting.


In This Remote Corner of South America, It's Possible to Walk on the Sky

In This Remote Corner of South America, It's Possible to Walk on the Sky

Jordyn Taylor's avatar image By Jordyn Taylor April 04, 2016

Believe it or not, it isn't magic.

It's Salar de Uyuni: the world's largest salt flat, spanning more than 4,500 miles in southwest Bolivia.

The massive salt flat was formed by two prehistoric lakes drying up, according to the Los Angeles Times. When the lakes dried up, they left behind large deposits of salt from the surrounding mountains.

Salar de Uyuni now provides around 50% of the world's lithium, the chemical found in batteries. But it also delivers one of the greatest photo opportunities on Earth: In Bolivia's summer, the salt flat becomes a giant puddle, reflecting the sky above for as far as the eye can see. It's even been called the "world's largest mirror."

Lonely Planet has called Salar de Uyuni "one of South America's most awe-inspiring spectacles." Based on these jaw-dropping Instagram shots alone, we'd have to agree.


Some very pretty smaller photos follow the article.

Despite family’s dark past, legacy of criminal abuses, Peru poised to pick another Fujimori as presi

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A man holds a sign during a protest targeting presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori and against the 1992 coup by her father, former President Alberto Fujimori, in downtown Lima Tuesday. Keiko Fujimori is the front-running candidate in Peru's April 10 election. The sign reads in Spanish 'Keiko Fujimori Will not go!' | AP

Despite family’s dark past, legacy of criminal abuses, Peru poised to pick another Fujimori as president

Apr 7, 2016

LIMA – Father is in jail for crimes against humanity. Uncles and aunts have fled corruption charges. And daughter? She is in position to follow in dad’s footsteps by becoming president of Peru.

The Fujimoris may look like one of Peru’s most dysfunctional families, but they are also one of its most powerful. And although ex-President Alberto Fujimori, 77, is in jail, his children are looking to forge a dynasty.

His daughter, Keiko, 40, is close to being elected Peru’s first woman president in elections this coming Sunday.

That is in spite — or because — of the violence and drama of Alberto Fujimori’s time as leader and in his own family.

Fujimori seized vast powers by dissolving parliament and massacring leftist opponents.


Honduras suspends police brass linked to prosecutors' deaths

Honduras suspends police brass linked to prosecutors' deaths

Updated 8:04 pm, Tuesday, April 5, 2016

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduras' president said Tuesday that the government would suspend several top police officials amid mounting evidence they conspired to kill the country's top anti-drug prosecutor and two other prosecution employees several years ago.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez said at a news conference that any police official mentioned in a report published by the newspaper El Heraldo would be suspended and brought before justice.

Prosecution agents raided an old National Police headquarters in the capital looking for evidence in the alleged plot. After an eight-hour search, they left the building with a large number of documents, prosecution spokesman Carlos Morazan said.

El Heraldo published accounts of tapes that suggest police officials paid assassins about $20,000 to kill anti-drug prosecutor Julian Aristides Gonzalez in 2009. Police were also implicated in the killing of prosecutor Orlan Chavez in 2013 and security adviser Alfredo Landaverde in 2011.


Why is the Dominican Republic Deporting Its Haitian Residents?

April 5, 2016
Why is the Dominican Republic Deporting Its Haitian Residents?

by Javiera Alarcon

They called it the Parsley Massacre.

Directed by the ruthless Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, soldiers rounded up thousands of people along the Dominican Republic’s borderlands with Haiti, demanding that they identify a sprig of parsley. The story goes that when French- and Creole-speaking Haitians failed to mimic the Spanish pronunciation, perejil, they were murdered. Estimates of the number killed range as high as 20,000 to 30,000.

The 1937 massacre is a haunting flashpoint in a long tradition of anti-Haitian politics — anti-haitanismo — on the eastern half of the island shared by the two countries. Now there’s a different kind of test for Dominicans of Haitian descent. And the price for failure is deportation.

It began in 2013, when a Dominican court ruling stripped up to 200,000 Haitian immigrants and their descendants of their Dominican citizenship — a stunning and unprecedented reversal of the country’s normal rules allowing birthright citizenship. Thousands of Dominicans were put at risk of being deported to Haiti, where many also lack citizenship.

The Dominican legislature followed the ruling with the Naturalization Law, or Law 169-14. In theory, the law is supposed to help disenfranchised Dominicans reclaim their citizenship, but it puts the burden of proof on the victims to provide records of their births — or even their parents’ births — in the Dominican Republic.


The Forces Behind the Attempted Coup in Brasil

April 5, 2016
The Forces Behind the Attempted Coup in Brasil

by Mark Weisbrot

If you are following the news of political turmoil in Brazil, it may be difficult to get a grasp of what is really going on. This often happens when there is an attempted coup in the Western Hemisphere, and especially when the U.S. government has an interest in the outcome. Usually the information about that interest, and often Washington’s role, is the first casualty of the conflict. (Twenty-first century examples include Paraguay in 2012, Haiti in 2011 and 2004, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010 and Venezuela in 2002.)

First, there is no doubt that this is a coup in progress. It is an attempt by Brazil’s traditional elite — which includes, as one of the most important players, most of the major media — to reverse the outcome of Brazil’s 2014 presidential elections. Exhibit A is the grounds on which they hope to impeach President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT by its Portuguese initials). It has nothing to do with corruption, or any serious offense.

The charge is that the government used borrowed money in 2014 to maintain the appearance that the primary budget surplus was within its target. But this is something that other presidents had done, and is hardly an serious offense. A comparison: When the Republicans in the U.S. Congress threatened to shut down the government over the debt ceiling in 2013, the Obama administration used a number of accounting tricks to extend the deadline, and there was little controversy over this.

The charges against Lula are also dubious, even if they turn out to be true. Most importantly, the accusers have not shown any connection to the big “Lava Jato” (car wash) corruption scandal — or any other corruption. Lula is accused of owning some beachfront property, which he denies owning, that was renovated by a Brazilian construction company; and of receiving money from various corporations for speeches. Most importantly, however, these are things that took place after he left the presidency. Although Bernie Sanders has rightly made an issue of Hillary Clinton’s receipt of millions of dollars from corporations for speeches, it is not illegal in the U.S. — or Brazil.

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