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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 145,052

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Organic honey is a sweet success for Cuba as other bee populations suffer

Organic honey is a sweet success for Cuba as other bee populations suffer

When the Caribbean state was no longer able to afford pesticides – which have been linked with declining bee populations – it made a virtue out of a necessity

Reuters in San Antonio de los Baños
Tuesday 9 February 2016 12.00 EST

Long known for its cigars and rum, Cuba has added organic honey to its list of key agricultural exports, creating a buzz among farmers as pesticide use has been linked to declining bee populations elsewhere.

Organic honey has become Cuba’s fourth most valuable agricultural export behind fish products, tobacco and drinks, but ahead of the Caribbean island’s more famous sugar and coffee, said Theodor Friedrich, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) representative for Cuba.

“All of [Cuba’s] honey can be certified as organic,” Friedrich told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Its honey has a very specific, typical taste; in monetary value, it’s a high-ranking product.“

After the collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s main trading partner, the island was unable to afford pesticides due to a lack of foreign currency, coupled with the US trade embargo. By necessity, the government embraced organic agriculture, and the policies have largely stuck.


The Latest: Flint counsel says manslaughter charge possible

Source: Associated Press

The Latest: Flint counsel says manslaughter charge possible

Updated 11:31 am, Tuesday, February 9, 2016

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The latest on developments in the lead contamination of Flint's water (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

A special counsel appointed to investigate the lead contamination of Flint's water says the harshest criminal charge could include involuntary manslaughter.

Todd Flood suggested manslaughter as a possibility during a meeting with reporters Tuesday. He says government officials might face that charge if they were grossly negligent in breaching a duty.

Flood and others appointed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette remain in the early stages of their probe into the potential violation of civil or criminal laws. Flint's water is contaminated from lead pipes, and experts have suggested a link between the city's water switch and a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in which some people died.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/science/article/The-Latest-GM-UAW-pledge-3M-for-Flint-s-water-6817625.php

Kuelap, the Ancient Fortress That Aims to Become the Second Biggest Tourist Destination in Peru

Kuelap, the Ancient Fortress That Aims to Become the Second Biggest Tourist Destination in Peru

Translation posted 5 February 2016 11:54 GMT


Kuelap is an important Peruvian archaeological site located in the province of Luya, in the Amazonas region, built by the Chachapoya culture of Andean people 1,000 years ago. It might not be so well known worldwide as Peru's Machu Picchu, the ancient, sky-high estate built by the Incas, but Peruvian authorities are trying to change that.

Kuelap, a kind of walled city, has the following features, according to tour group Tambopata:

Original Quote

It's a huge stone architectural complex, located at the top of a mountain 3,000 metros above sea level [about 9,800 feet]. According to some estimations, it was built circa 1,000 AD, when the Chachapoya culture was at its peak.
In the native laguage, Kuelap means “cold place”, a reference to the fact that despite its location in the Peruvian jungle, it has temperate weather, dry during the day and with very low temperatures during the night.

The archaeological complex was “rediscovered” in January 31, 1843, by Juan Crisóstomo Nieto, a judge from Chachapoyas. While carrying out work related to his position, he arrived at the virtually unknown site — due to its location in a forested and rainy area that is hard to access — with the help of some local guides.

Kuelap is not free of mystery:

The old occupants of Kuelap abandoned their city before the Spaniards arrived, for reasons that remain unknown. Italian researcher Antonio Raimondi, the first one to study the area in 1860, found a skeleton of a two-meter-tall [6'5″] man and skulls with blonde hairs, which sparked a mystery that goes unsolved to this day.

In its day, Kuelap's residents used limestone to build the complex; its main architectural attractions include the Torreón (fortified tower), the Castillo (castle) and the Tintero (inkwell). The latter, as noted by historians, seems to have been used as an astronomical observatory and is considered a ritual structure because of its unique inverted cone shape.


15 Years and $10 Billion Later, U.S. Efforts to Curb Colombia’s Cocaine Trade Have Failed

15 Years and $10 Billion Later, U.S. Efforts to Curb Colombia’s Cocaine Trade Have Failed

By Megan Alpert
February 8, 2016 - 1:26 pm

Last week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos came to Washington to tout the dual-barreled successes of peace talks with the rebel group FARC and Plan Colombia, an aid program that began in 2000 when the government had control of only a third of its country. At a Feb. 4 reception, U.S. President Barack Obama announced the next phase of the partnership between Bogota and Washington would be called Peace Colombia and hailed “a country that was on the brink of collapse is now on the brink of peace.”

Amid the congratulatory speeches, however, nothing was said about the fact that Plan Colombia has done little to stem the nation’s cocaine exports after 15 years and $10 billion in U.S. aid devoted to what was initially a counter-narcotics program.

Santos did not deny that Colombia remains the world’s No. 1 cocaine producer. “We’ve never been No. 2,” he quipped during a Feb. 3 question-and-answer session hosted by the Wilson Center think-tank in Washington. In fact, Colombia did fall behind Peru for two years, before retaking the top spot in 2014.

Yet Santos also said coca production is expected to go up over the next few years — even though Plan Colombia originally sought to cut in half the country’s drug production by 2006.


Canines Communicate With Their Own 'Howling Dialects,' Study Finds

Canines Communicate With Their Own 'Howling Dialects,' Study Finds
Don't speak red wolf? Turns out grey wolves don't either.

 02/08/2016 03:35 pm ET

Nina Golgowski
Trends reporter, The Huffington Post

A new study has found that canid species -- from wolves and coyotes to dogs and foxes -- communicate with their own “howling dialects.”

A team of international researchers narrowed down 21 types of howls, linking their different pitches and fluctuations to specific species and subspecies, according to a new paper published in next month's edition of the journal Behavioural Processes.

"We found that different species and subspecies showed markedly different use of howl types, indicating that howl modulation is not arbitrary, but can be used to distinguish one population from another," the researchers wrote in the study.

In other words, howl types or "dialects" are similar to how we humans have different languages around the world.

The researchers used computer algorithms to analyze more than 2,000 howls collected from both captive and wild animals in Australia, India, Europe and the United States. The result is what’s being touted as the largest quantitative study of its kind.


AUC founder’s godson commanded ‘Urabeños’ in southwest Colombia: Police

AUC founder’s godson commanded ‘Urabeños’ in southwest Colombia: Police
Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Feb 6, 2016

Colombia police said Friday they have arrested the godson of slain AUC founder Carlos Castaño on charges he commanded the drug trafficking routes of AUC successor group “Urabeños” in southwest Colombia.

Yony Alberto Grajales, a.k.a. “The Godson,” was arrested just outside of the town of Buga, Valle del Cauca.

According to the National Police, Grajales had been sent there by Urabeños chief “Otoniel” three months ago to lead his neo-paramilitary organization’s drug trafficking routes to the Pacific ocean.

The son of the former personal chef of Castaño, one of the most feared paramilitary commanders in the history of Colombia, became one of “Otoniel’s” financial chiefs in Uraba, the birthplace of the AUC that morphed into the Urabeños between 2003 and 2006 when the AUC officially formalized.



Yony Alberto Grajales

The "godfather," Carlos Castaño.[/center]
Wikipedia account of WTF happened to Carlos Castaño:

Disappearance and death[edit]

Castaño was killed on April 16, 2004. Acting AUC commanders claimed initially that there was an accidental exchange of gunfire between his bodyguards and a separate group of paramilitary fighters.

Other sources within the group and among its dissident factions claimed that he and his men were captured and tortured before being executed and then buried by order of other AUC top leaders (perhaps his own brother Vicente Castaño and Diego Murillo AKA "Don Berna", who had become increasingly close to narcotraffickers and their trade. Colombian investigators found a makeshift grave and an unidentified body (yet apparently not Castaño's) near the supposed area of the events. Those same sources alleged that the bodies of Castaño and his other companions were dug up and taken to other locations before the investigators could arrive.

The possible death of the AUC co-founder remained in the air and was the subject of wild and rampant speculation. One of the rumours, dating from June 1, 2004, stated that unidentified diplomatic sources told the AFP agency that Castaño may have been spirited away to either Israel or Egypt, via Panama, allegedly with U.S. assistance. No specific reasoning or details regarding this claim were produced and the parties allegedly involved separately denied their participation.

Sources from the AUC and other local militant factions continued to dispute the exact whereabouts of Carlos Castaño. His personal and financial connections between narcotraffickers and other sectors of society could have allowed for their possible collaboration in his conspicuous disappearance or murder. Despite these claims, the truth regarding Castaño's exact condition remained unknown.

On August 23, 2006, Colombia's Attorney General publicly ordered the capture of his brother Vicente Castaño and seven other individuals, accusing them of being involved in Carlos Castaño's apparent death. Alleged witnesses to the crime stated that Castaño's body was apparently dismembered and incinerated.[3][4]

Castaño's skeleton was recovered from a shallow grave on September 1, 2006 and identified through DNA testing by the Colombian government authorities. His brother's second lieutenant named Jesús Roldán AKA "MonoLeche", a former Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación) guerrilla who later joined the paramilitaries, confessed to his murder and led authorities to the grave.


Climate change may have had a huge impact on ancient South American civilisations

Climate change may have had a huge impact on ancient South American civilisations

Climate change may have brought huge disruption to ancient South American societies before Europeans arrived in 1492, University of Exeter academics have discovered.

The European colonisation of the continent by Europeans had a devastating impact on local communities. It brought warfare, disease epidemics and mass migration, and caused the demise of 95 per cent of Native Americans.

New interdisciplinary research led by the University of Exeter shows alternations to the climate also brought about widespread changes to how people lived during this period. Recent advances in archaeology, paleoecology and climate science show major ecological and climate change also took place in the centuries before the conquest. This contradicts previous assumptions about how ancient societies in this region operated until they had contact with Europeans.

These preliminary findings will be discussed by scientists at a conference in Cornwall this week. International experts in archaeology, ethnohistory, paleoecology and paleoclimatology will be sharing their data and will work to piece together what happened in South America in the years before 1492.

Increases in the amount of rain may have caused changes to land use and wildfires. Research has shown the Llanos de Moxos savannas in Bolivia were seasonally flooded in about AD 1400. The construction of geoglyphs in Acre in Brazil ended around AD 1400, which suggests people didn’t live there after this time. A similar trend is seen in Central Brazil, where the spread of ‘circular villages’ stops during the same period.


Michigan Judge Pulls No Punches in 30-Minute Sentencing Tirade Against Police Officer

Source: .Mic

Michigan Judge Pulls No Punches in 30-Minute Sentencing Tirade Against Police Officer
By Zak Cheney-Rice
3 hours ago

In a speech that lasted almost 30 minutes, Judge Vonda Evans of Detroit laid into 47-year-old William Melendez, the former Inkster, Michigan, police officer caught on video beating an unarmed black man in January 2015.

Melendez was sentenced to 13 months to 10 years in prison Tuesday for his role in the attack on Floyd Dent, a 58-year-old black auto worker, that occurred during a late night traffic stop in the struggling Wayne County suburb last winter.

"The one image (from this trial) that stood out to the court was looking at Mr. Dent in his cell, shaking his head in disbelief of what had occurred to him," Evans said in a courtroom video published by local television station WJBK.

"If his conduct was indicative of what he was thinking, I would have thought this: 'What crime did I commit, being a black man in a Cadillac, stopped for a minor traffic offense by a group of racist police officers looking to do a nigger?'"

Read more: https://news.yahoo.com/detroit-judge-pulls-no-punches-183700902.html

How Colombia’s opposition tried sabotaging peace talks to win 2014 elections

How Colombia’s opposition tried sabotaging peace talks to win 2014 elections
Posted by Taran Volckhausen on Feb 2, 2016

Colombia’s Prosecutor General Office has released evidence that would show how the country’s conservative opposition in 2014 used illegal wiretapping and bribery to sabotage ongoing peace talks with leftist FARC rebels.

The Prosecutor’s accusation against the former campaign manager of Oscar Ivan Zuluaga (Democratic Center) lays out the strategy that former ambassador and then-campaign chief Luis Alfonso Hoyos used to orchestrate the wiretapping of the government peace talks with the rebel group the FARC. The 74-page document, which was obtained by local media Blu Radio, accuses Hoyos of engaging in “criminal activity” to attack the peace process and President Juan Manuel Santos’ reelection campaign.

“Luis Alfonso Hoyos met in January 2014 with Andres Fernando Sepulveda in order to concentrate on ending or discrediting the peace process that was moving forward with the FARC in la Habana, Cuba, which they would achieve by obtaining secret information that would be collected through different criminal activities,” the document said.

Sepulveda was arrested in May 2014, weeks before the presidential election, and sentenced to 10 years in prison in April 2015, for his role in wiretapping the peace talks. The hacker was contracted by the Zuluaga’s Colombian presidential campaign who represented the right wing opposition Democratic Center Party, led by former president, Alvaro Uribe.



Oscar Ivan Zuluaga and Alvaro Uribe.

"Pull my finger." [/center]

British Columbia reaches agreement to protect vast coastal rainforest

British Columbia reaches agreement to protect vast coastal rainforest

Deal marries interests of First Nations, environmentalists and logging industry, who will see 15% of Great Bear forest available under ‘most stringent’ standards

Reuters in Vancouver
Monday 1 February 2016 12.14 EST

British Columbia is set to announce a historic agreement to protect a vast swath of rainforest along its coastline, having reached a deal that marries the interests of First Nations, the logging industry and environmentalists after a decade of often-tense negotiations.

The agreement to be announced on Monday will see roughly 85% of forest within the Great Bear rainforest protected, with the other 15% available for logging under the “most stringent” standards in North America, environmental groups involved in the talks said.

The Great Bear rainforest is one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests and the habitat of the spirit bear, a rare subspecies of the black bear with white fur and claws. It is also home to 26 Aboriginal groups, known as First Nations.

“Under this landmark agreement, more old and second-growth forest will be protected, while still ensuring opportunities for economic development and jobs for local First Nations,” said Premier Christy Clark in a statement.

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