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Judi Lynn

Judi Lynn's Journal
Judi Lynn's Journal
May 31, 2017

Trumps anti-Cuba posturing clashes with his America First doctrine

Alan Pyke
Tips: apyke@americanprogress.org
May 30

If Trump wants to stop basing foreign policy on human rights concerns, why is he knuckling under to Cuba hardliners?


Passengers check in for the first direct commercial flight from Newark to Havana in decades, in November 2016. CREDIT: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Less than a year after America and Cuba formally reopened diplomatic ties and relaxed many conditions of the ongoing economic embargo, President Donald Trump will reportedly call an end to the United States’ new beginning with its closest communist neighbor.

The move is out of step with Trump’s broader commitment to reorienting American foreign policy around hard-edged economic and security interests, as opposed to seeking to export democratic values. Re-freezing the newly thawed cultural and economic portal between the countries makes sense only as a means to punish Cuban dictator Raul Castro’s regime for failing to allow a free and open society to prevail on the island.

Though Trump himself had reportedly explored business and hotel deals in Cuba, his campaign seemed to take its cues from Florida congressional delegation hardliners like Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R). Cuba-watchers had therefore braced for an abrupt reversal of President Barack Obama’s diplomatic overtures.

The whiplash speed of Trump’s own reversal makes it hard to predict exactly what form this new policy will take, Florida International University professor and Cuba expert Frank Mora told ThinkProgress.


May 30, 2017

Manuel Noriega: feared dictator was the man who knew too much

Manuel Noriega: feared dictator was the man who knew too much

Panamanian general was a CIA asset and go-between in Central America’s dirty wars but became a monster the US could not control

Simon Tisdall

Tuesday 30 May 2017 08.03 EDT

. . . .

In 1988, in the wake of Iran-contra, a Senate committee concluded: “The saga of … Noriega represents one of the most serious foreign policy failures for the United States. Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, Noriega was able to manipulate US policy toward his country, while skilfully accumulating near-absolute power in Panama. It is clear that each US government agency which had a relationship with Noriega turned a blind eye to his corruption and drug dealing.” Noriega was allowed to establish “the hemisphere’s first narco-kleptocracy”.

Two years after his overthrow, Noriega was put on trial in Miami. Sitting glumly in the dock day after day, he cut a much-reduced figure compared with the bumptious dictator who strutted outside the comandancia. Noriega was convicted on a restricted list of charges including money laundering and drug trafficking, and sentenced to 40 years in a maximum security jail.

The court refused to allow Noriega’s defence to present any evidence relating to his work for the CIA, his payments from the US government, his knowledge of US subversion in Central America, his contacts with senior figures such as Bush, and their knowledge of his activities as Panama’s dictator. His lawyers protested, but in vain. In many respects, the Miami proceedings resembled an east European show trial, with the outcome never in doubt.

Bush got his man, Noriega was silenced, nefarious US behaviour in Central America was effectively concealed, and the concept of justified, forcible regime change was fatefully reinforced.


May 29, 2017

Manufacturing fascism: The story of Colombias Gomez family

written by Adriaan Alsema May 28, 2017

Colombia’s second largest newspaper, El Colombiano, is owned by a family with a history of admiration for fascist dictators, massacres and state corruption. The family’s domination over public opinion in Medellin in arguably undisputed.

El Colombiano, nonetheless, has over history gone as far as inciting violence and concealing war crimes to advance the ultra-conservative agenda of the Gomez family, a family implicated in state crimes ranging from massacres to the embezzlement of funds for poor farmers.

El Colombiano is by a long shot not the only paper to put a family’s political and commercial interests above that of the public. In fact, it was founded a year after Liberal Party (LP) elites from Bogota founded El Tiempo, the newspaper that for decades promoted the political agenda of the family of President Juan Manuel Santos.

El Colombiano has a tradition of violating almost every basic principle of journalism for the benefit of either the Gomez’ family’s wealth or their ultra-conservative political convictions, initially in alliance with the regional branch of the Conservative Party and more recently the hard-right Democratic Center party of former President Alvaro Uribe.

May 28, 2017

Wild Amazon faces destruction as Brazils farmers and loggers target national park

The Sierra Ricardo Franco park was meant to be a conservation area protecting rare wildlife

Jonathan Watts in Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade
Saturday 27 May 2017 19.05 EDT

To understand why the Brazilian government is deliberately losing the battle against deforestation, you need only retrace the bootmarks of the Edwardian explorer Percy Fawcett along the Amazonian border with Bolivia.

During a failed attempt to cross a spectacular tabletop plateau here in 1906, the adventurer nearly died on the first of his many trips to South America. Back then, the area was so far from human habitation, the foliage so dense and the terrain so steep that Fawcett and his party came close to starvation.

He returned home with tales of a towering, inaccessible mesa teeming with wildlife and irrigated by secret waterfalls and crystalline rivers. By some accounts, this was one of the stories that inspired his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Lost World about a fictional plateau jutting high above the jungle that served as a sanctuary for species long since extinct elsewhere.

In their wildest fantasies, however, neither Fawcett nor Conan Doyle are likely to have imagined the modern reality of that plateau, which can no longer be certain of protection from geography, the law or Brazil’s international commitments.

May 27, 2017

Power through manipulation: The story of the Santos family

written by Adriaan Alsema May 26, 2017

Many of Colombia’s national news media are owned by families that use their outlets to gain political power, with devastating consequences for society. One of these families is that of President Juan Manuel Santos. This is their story.

Media like the ones controlled by the Santos family have traditionally spurred, even promoted social tensions, armed conflict and even organized crime.

Journalism has a number of core principles to prevent exactly this type of abuse. For example, those engaging in journalism must be independent of whom they cover. In Colombia’s newspaper industry, this has never been the case.

. . .

Colombia provides multiple, almost perfect examples of how the abuse of news media can cause tremendous harm to society, while at the same time accumulating both wealth and political power for a few, including the president’s family.

May 25, 2017

Tribes bash proposed Trump budget cuts to Native Americans

Source: Associated Press

GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press
Updated 4:19 pm, Thursday, May 25, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Dozens of Native American tribes in six Western states are bashing President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts to American Indian programs.

Tribal leaders in Oregon, Washington state and Idaho speaking on behalf of the group said Thursday the proposed budget guts spending on Native American education, health care and environmental initiatives.

Mel Sheldon, a councilman from the Tulalip Tribes in Washington state, says it's the "worst attack on Indian Country in recent memory."

The proposed spending eliminates funding for work on climate change and makes deep cuts to programs to restore endangered species.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/politics/article/Tribes-bash-proposed-Trump-budget-cuts-to-Native-11174096.php

May 24, 2017

The Guardian view on Brazilian corruption: the public deserve a voice


The explosive allegations faced by Brazil’s president Michel Temer are just the latest manifestation of a sprawling scandal. A quick political fix will not solve the problems

Tuesday 23 May 2017 14.16 EDT

“I not resign. Oust me if you want,” Michel Temer said this week. Brazilians would like to take the president at his word. After three years of political turmoil and public disgust, the “Carwash” investigation into corruption that involved some of the country’s biggest companies and a frightening number of its politicians was under growing pressure; some feared it was being neutered. Then came explosive allegations that a secret tape captured Mr Temer discussing hush-money. His ratings had fallen to single figures even before these latest claims. Now Brazil’s top prosecutor has formally accused him of conspiring to silence witnesses and obstruct a corruption investigation; and he has dropped a legal bid to have the case suspended.

Mr Temer denies wrongdoing, insisting the recording has been doctored, and says stepping down would be an admission of guilt. Other considerations are no doubt weighing on his mind – notably that he would lose legal protections. As president, impeachment would require approval by Congress to proceed, and he cannot be charged over allegations that precede his time in office. Support within his Brazilian Democratic Party and coalition is crumbling. Allies can see the attractions of letting him take the flak for weakening the Carwash inquiry, and handle a case beginning next month in the supreme electoral court, which could annul the 2014 election. But even so, Brazil could soon have its third leader in under a year.

Brazilian politics have been thoroughly discredited. The revelations that have emerged since Dilma Rousseff was forced out last year have highlighted the hypocrisy of those who brought her down. Though Ms Rousseff was impeached on separate charges, and appeared relatively clean herself, the anger against her was fuelled by revelations about her Workers’ Party. In March, the chief orchestrator of her impeachment, Eduardo Cunha, was jailed for more than 15 years in relation to a $1.6m bribe. The tape of Mr Temer, who was her deputy but was believed to be plotting against her in the later stages of the scandal, allegedly captures him approving cash payments to Mr Cunha.


May 18, 2017

Brazil: explosive recordings implicate President Michel Temer in bribery

Source: Guardian News

Street protests and calls for impeachment as prosecutors are handed tapes of discussions about hush-money payments to jailed powerbroker Eduardo Cunha

Jonathan Watts, Latin America correspondent
Wednesday 17 May 2017 23.23 EDT

Angry crowds and outraged members of Brazil’s congress have demanded the impeachment of President Michel Temer following reports he was secretly recorded discussing hush money pay-offs to a jailed associate.

The tapes were presented to prosecutors as part of a plea bargain by Joesley and Wesley Batista, brothers who run the country’s biggest meat-packing firm JBS, according to O Globo newspaper.

They are said to contain conversations that incriminate several leading politicians, including the former presidential candidate Aecio Neves and the former finance minister Guido Mantega.

Temer is alleged to have talked with Joesley about cash payments to Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the House who has been jailed for his role in the sprawling Petrobras corruption scandal.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/18/brazil-explosive-recordings-implicate-president-michel-temer-in-bribery

May 18, 2017

Investigation Reveals That Walmart and Lowe's Have Direct Links to Slave Labor

Logging camps in Brazil are committing one of the worst crimes of humanity.
By André Campos / AlterNet May 17, 2017

Products derived from timber extracted by workers living in conditions analogous to slave labor in Brazil are connected to a complex business network linked to the U.S. market—possibly reaching the shelves of large retailers and being used in renovation of landmarks —according to a new investigation conducted by Brazilian news outlet Repórter Brasil. After purchasing from suppliers held liable for that crime by the Brazilian government, local traders exported timber to companies like USFloors, which supplies the retail chain Lowe’s, as well as Timber Holdings, which supplied timber for construction projects at Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

The commercial network linking retailers to sawmill companies was identified by a three-month investigation and confirmed by the companies. The wood products were mixed at Brazilian intermediaries, so the investigation was unable to track the exact destination of each piece of wood. However, its findings reveal that large retail and construction groups are sourcing the product from companies whose supply chains are contaminated by the alleged use of criminal practices, with the conditions of workers rescued from sawmill sites aligning with slave labor practices as defined by Brazilian law.

Bonardi da Amazônia

The cases investigated by Repórter Brasil began at sawmill companies based in the state of Pará, an important hub for the timber industry in the Brazilian Amazon. One of them is Bonardi da Amazônia, a sawmill company that recruited nine people who were rescued from conditions analogous to slave labor exploitation in October 2012. The workers were located by the Brazilian Ministry of Labor and Bonardi da Amazônia was formally held responsible for the crime.

The investigation found that workers slept in shacks in the forest at night, in makeshift facilities made of logs removed from the forest itself and covered with tarps, 110 kilometers (over 68 miles) from the nearest town. There were no walls to protect them from the dangers of the forest such as snakes, scorpions and even jaguars. They bathed and washed their clothes in a stream shared with local animals; there was no bathroom. The workers had no formal contracts and told investigators they were paid based on their productivity.

May 17, 2017

Unexpected Finds Boost Mystery at Bolivia's Tiahuanaco Citadel

Published 15 May 2017

Archaeologists have found a large underground plaza and two platforms considered to be part of a pyramid, which Bolivian authorities want to excavate.

Several unexpected archaeological finds at the ancient Tiahuanaco, or Tiwanaku, citadel, are enhancing the research into and the mystery surrounding that long-vanished western Bolivian culture.

A Unesco consultant explained to EFE that the preservation and conservation work being undertaken at the site, 45 miles from La Paz, took a surprising turn when studies using topographic imagery, satellite technology and a drone found that the archaeological complex is larger than previously thought.

Tiahuanaco, which came before the Inca civilization, started out as a village about 1580 BC but grew into an Andean empire that began to spread about 724 AD, although it then went into decline about 1187 AD, according to historians.




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