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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 146,998

Journal Archives

'I've Never Been in Favor of the Embargo': US Senator Says in Visit With Cuban President

Published 5 June 2018

Senator Jeff Flake and Google's Eric Schmidt visited Cuba aiming to improve cooperation between the island and the U.S.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel welcomed U.S. Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Google's technical adviser Eric Schmidt, who used to be the technology giant's CEO.

During the meeting, President Diaz-Canel and the U.S. visitors discussed the bilateral relations between both countries and their possible “mutual interest” areas, according to Cuban State media.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who was also present during the meeting, had already held conversations with Flake and Schmidt regarding the same issues, as well as the “negative” impact of Trump's administration foreign policies.


(Cuba watchers have known Arizona's Senator Jeff Flake has struggled steadily since at least as long ago as 2000 to get the U.S. to drop the travel ban and the economic war on Cubans, and he's even a Republican.)

Whale Found In Thailand Dies From Eating Over 80 Plastic Bags

06/03/2018 12:00 pm ET Updated 11 minutes ago

Rescuers unsuccessfully tried to nurse the male pilot whale back to health.
By Hayley Miller

A whale found in a canal in southern Thailand has died after eating more than 80 plastic bags, according to officials.

The small male pilot whale was barely alive when he was discovered on Monday in the southern province of Songkhla, Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said. Rescuers attempted to nurse the whale back to health, but he died on Friday after spitting up five plastic bags.

An autopsy revealed over 17 pounds of plastic, including more than 80 plastic bags, in the whale’s stomach.

Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the marine and coastal resources department, told Reuters that the whale likely thought the floating plastic bags were food.


"Sonic Weapon Attacks" on U.S. Embassy Don't Add Up--for Anyone

Cuban scientists and a new American report both shoot down a list of bizarre theories

By R. Douglas Fields on February 16, 2018

HAVANA—Heated charges have flown back and forth for months between the two countries that bracket the Strait of Florida. U.S. State Department officials contended Cuba staged a sonic attack on employees of the American embassy, causing a variety of neurological symptoms. Cuba has not only denied such an attack ever took place but has also emphasized the physical impossibility of a sound wave causing neurological damage trained on such a distant target.

But physicians and scientists fromM both countries now appear to be in agreement on one critical point: Both sides acknowledge they are baffled as to what happened to 24 embassy employees who were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain damage between November 2016 and August 2017.

The latest development is a preliminary publication in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association on Thursday, authored by the team of doctors at the University of Pennsylvania who examined 21 of the U.S. government employees. The study, commissioned by the federal government, found the patients had suffered from concussionlike symptoms—but without any blunt trauma to the head. The medical issues varied widely among the patients, and included cognitive difficulties and problems with balance, eye tracking, sleep disturbances and headache.

Adding yet another element to the mystery, the new findings show normal MRI brain scans in all patients, and normal hearing in all but three individuals. The authors of the JAMA study also discount the likelihood of sonic injury, infection or toxic agents—and they even downplay the frequent suggestion of mass hysteria. Many of the findings in the new report echo a previous investigation carried out by Cuban officials.


Judge overturns jury verdict against Ex-Bolivian president

Updated 5:41 pm, Wednesday, May 30, 2018

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge has overturned a jury decision that found a former president of Bolivia and his defense minister responsible for government killings during 2003 unrest.

U.S. Senior District Judge James Cohn upheld a defense motion Wednesday that there was insufficient evidence to support an April verdict that included $10 million in damages in a lawsuit filed by Bolivians whose family members were among the dead.

The jury verdict had followed a nearly three-week trial of the civil suit in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jurors found against former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and his former defense minister, Jose Carlos Sanchez Berzain. Both live in the U.S.

The lawsuit was filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act, which authorizes suits in the U.S. for extrajudicial killings.


~ ~ ~

If "former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada", or "Goni" didn't do order his soldiers to slaughter the protesters, why on earth did he flee to hide in the United States to evade the Bolivian law?

U.S. Senior District Judge James Cohn

US-funded police linked to illegal executions in El Salvador

Story by Nick Paton Walsh, Barbara Arvanitidis and Bryan Avelar

San Salvador, El Salvador (CNN) -- The United States has quietly funded and equipped elite paramilitary police officers in El Salvador who are accused of illegally executing gang members, CNN has learned.

Successive US administrations have pumped tens of millions of dollars into Salvadoran law enforcement and military to shore up the government’s “Mano Dura” or Firm Hand program, first launched in 2003 but redoubled in 2014 to tackle the country’s rampant gang problem.

Yet the country’s police will be broadly accused next month of “a pattern of behavior by security personnel amounting to extrajudicial executions” in a United Nations report, seen in advance by CNN, that will also call on Salvadoran security forces to break a “cycle of impunity” in which killings are rarely punished.

One police unit that killed 43 alleged gang members in the first six months of last year received significant US funding, CNN can reveal. Several of those deaths have been investigated as murders by Salvadoran police.


The far-right in Colombia

by Adriaan Alsema May 29, 2018

Colombia’s extreme left has long been recognized as a threat to democracy. The country’s far right, however, is at least as violent and often overlooked.

Making the distinction between democratic conservatism and fascism is difficult in Colombia. Unlike in most country’s, Colombia’s Conservative Party has traditionally opposed democracy.

. . .

Since “La Violencia,” the party has embraced democracy, but anti-democratic ideologies we associate with the far-right continue to be common, particularly in rural areas and in Medellin, the country’s second largest city.

. . .

The far right’s most prominent representative in contemporary politics is former President Alvaro Uribe, who is investigated by the Supreme Court for allegedly forming a death squad and on multiple occasions has opposed the rule of law.


Charges filed against former agents of Brazil dictatorship

Updated 1:48 pm, Monday, May 28, 2018

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian officials are trying yet again to prosecute agents of the country's 1964-1985 dictatorship, targeting two former army officers accused of killing a couple who opposed the regime.

Dozens of earlier attempts to prosecute so-called "Dirty War" crimes have been slapped aside by courts due to a 1979 amnesty law that barred prosecutions for politically motivated crimes under the dictatorship.

The prosecutor's office said Monday that former army officers Mauricio Lopes Lima and Carlos Setembrino da Silveira "summarily executed" a leftist militant couple after security forces invaded their house in Sao Paulo in 1970.

Prosecutors argue that neither amnesty nor the statute of limitations apply because the executions were part of a "generalized attack" against the Brazilian people and as such were "crimes against humanity."


(Short article, no more at link.)

"Sea Nomads" May Have Evolved to Be the World's Elite Divers

“Sea Nomads” May Have Evolved to Be the World’s Elite Divers
New genetic evidence suggests these indigenous Southeast Asians are singularly suited for underwater hunting

By Angus Chen on April 19, 2018

A Bajau freediver swims amongst a large school of Jack Fish shoaling on a reef at Sipidan Island,
Sabah, Malaysia. Credit: Timothy Allen Getty Images

When a human is submerged in water, within seconds the body begins to reflexively adjust. The heart rate slows; blood vessels in the extremities tighten, diverting blood flow to vital organs. And, crucially, the spleen constricts, expelling a precious reserve of oxygenated red blood cells into the bloodstream. All of this extends the time we can go without gasping.

Now a new study suggests some seafaring people may have evolved over thousands of years to push the limits of typical dive responses even further. Genetic changes have allowed one population in Southeast Asia to grow plus-size spleens that may enhance their breath-holding capabilities, according to an international research team’s analysis. Some scientists have likened these evolutionary adaptations to the ones that have allowed Tibetans to thrive at high elevations.

The new study dealt with people who are often locally called “Sea Nomads” and live among the islands and coastlines of Southeast Asia. “Traditionally, they live on houseboats and come to land only occasionally,” says Melissa Ilardo, a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Utah and first author on the study. “They have a reputation for being incredible divers, and for their connection to the sea. I went diving with them, and their abilities are just unreal.”

Among the Bajau—one group of people who live on houseboats in the waterways around and between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia—divers have been recorded holding their breath for over five minutes while hunting for fish or shellfish. In comparison, average people might be able to stay underwater for one to two minutes, and world-class free divers can hold their breath in competitive settings for up to three or close to four and a half minutes.


Why the extraordinary story of the last slave in America has finally come to light

Afua Hirsch
Sat 26 May 2018 05.59 EDT

(Click for image.)


Oluale Kossola was taken from the Yoruba kingdom of Takkoi to Alabama in the 19th century.
Photograph: Courtesy of McGill Studio Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
University of South Alabama

Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon was written in the 1930s, but has only just been published. Why has it taken so long for the remarkable story of Oluale Kossola to be made public?

“We stand as living monuments,” wrote the historian Len Garrison, of the black British descendants of slavery and empire. “For those who are afraid of who they must be, are but slaves in a trance.” For Garrison, the idea of the African diaspora as “living monuments” was to some extent figurative. But a new book makes it literal. Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave presents the remarkable fact that there were people alive in America who had experienced abduction from Africa – being examined, displayed, traded and enslaved – well into the 20th century.

The book is the story of Cudjo Lewis; a man born Oluale Kossola in the Yoruba kingdom of Takkoi. Kossola was the last survivor of the last known slave ship to sail from the African continent to America with a human cargo. Written in the 1930s, but hidden away from a public audience until now, it is also perhaps the last great, unpublished work by the Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston.


Scientists Found This Stunning "Secret Garden" Of Corals Thousands Of Feet Below The Sea

By Jeremy Berke
27 MAY 2018, 12:42

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted an expedition to explore uncharted waters in the deepest parts of the Gulf of Mexico — and they found an astonishing "secret garden" of coral thousands of feet below the surface.

Using a remote-operated submersible (ROV), the researchers came across a vibrant, underwater community of bamboo corals over 7,500 feet down.

"This is a truly magnificent garden of coral fans, I don't think we've seen these densities yet in the Gulf of Mexico," one of the expedition's scientists said as the ROV revealed the collection of corals.

For a community of corals this dense to exist in the inky darkness thousands of feet below the sea, a lot of factors need to align, according to NOAA.

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