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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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10 things threatening the peace in Colombia

REPORT from Norwegian Refugee Council Published on 21 Mar 2018

. . .

2018 will be a pivotal year for the country, and in May, a new president will be elected. Here are ten things threatening the peace in Colombia:

1. A fight for natural resources and drug routes

In many areas previously controlled by FARC, armed conflict is still ongoing. In some areas, the fighting has increased since FARC laid down their weapons, as armed groups are attempting to take control over strategic areas, natural resources and important drug routes. In many places, paramilitary groups have moved in, causing increased fear among the population. Violence has increased throughout the country, as has the number of local leaders being murdered.

2. The government is not doing enough

The government is still not able to guarantee the safety of the civilian population and has been criticised for not making this a bigger priority. The government says it lacks the resources and capacity.


12 Incredible New Images of Galaxies and Nebulae from the Hubble Telescope

Ryan F. Mandelbaum
Today 2:25 pm Filed to: HUBBLE

- click for image -


Image: NASA, ESA, STScI, and V. Rubin (Carnegie Institution of Washington), D. Maoz (Tel Aviv University/Wise Observatory) and D. Fisher (University of Maryland) (NASA)

Look up to the sky with the unaided eye and you’ll see lots of specks and globs that look mostly like stars. On closer inspection, though, some of those dots refuse to resolve, smeared out on the night sky.

Famed astronomer Charles Messier noticed these objects while studying comets—indeed, they looked like comments standing still in the sky, according to NASA. He therefore called these imposters “objects to avoid,” and catalogued them in his list of 103 “Messier Objects.” That list has since been expanded to 110.

It’s a good thing scientists didn’t avoid the imposters, though. It turned out to contain some incredibly important astronomical objects, smeared out because they consisted of not one, but many stars. The first comet-looking thing, M1, was the now often-studied Crab Nebula. His catalogue also included the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the pinwheel galaxy often used as a Milky Way lookalike (M101) and the Whirlpool galaxy (M51a). You, too, can spot many of these objects with an amateur telescope.

The Hubble Telescope has made spotting these objects simple, and has creating some breathtaking images along the way. That includes the Eagle Nebula, also called the Pillars of Creation or M16, perhaps the most famous nebula ever observed.


Soil and Satellites Are Telling a New Story About Ancient Civilizations in the Amazon

With new technologies, scientists are looking for clues in manmade “terra preta.”

The Amazon may not be as pristine as it looks. Rainforest in Manú National Park, Peru. KATARINA ZIMMER

WHEN FRANCISCO DE ORELLANA, A Spanish conquistador, paddled through the Amazon in 1541, he did not find El Dorado, the fabled kingdom of gold he had been looking for. But he did report to have found civilization: large villages and farms sprawled along the rivers, and even massive cities in the distance.

However, when later explorers and missionaries returned to the same spots centuries later, they found nothing but wild tangles of vegetation. Orellana’s reports were dismissed as bogus when scientists chimed in. Large settlements, in the Amazon rainforest? That would be impossible, they said, for the same reason that it’s still impossible to occupy the Amazon today. Although the forests have rich, wild plant life, the soils alone are too poor in nutrients to support long-term cultivation of agricultural crops.

“But what archaeologists have been seeing in the last 30 years is that, quite the contrary—the Amazon has been densely occupied in the past,” says Eduardo Neves, a Brazilian archaeologist.

One surprise has been the discovery of something that is, in some ways, much more valuable than the gold the Spanish had originally been looking for: terra preta de índio, “dark earth of the Indian,” a blend of charcoal and very nutrient-rich earth that is dark in color, and extraordinarily fertile—in stark contrast to the surrounding orange-yellowish, unproductive earth.


Doctors hope for blindness cure after restoring patients' sight

Treatment for common cause of blindness could be available within five years, scientists say

Sarah Boseley Health editor
Mon 19 Mar 2018 13.22 EDT

A treatment for the commonest cause of blindness could be available within five years, scientists believe, after revealing the first two patients given a revolutionary stem cell therapy have regained enough vision to be able to read.

The two patients have advanced AMD – age-related macular degeneration – which destroys the central vision. Both were losing their sight. They were, said their surgeon, unable to see a book, let alone the printed letters.

But an implanted “patch” of stem cells over the damage at the back of the eye has restored the central vision enough not only for reading but to see faces that used to be a grey blur.

In the future, the scientists behind the breakthrough anticipate the procedure could be as common as cataract surgery, helping large numbers of the 600,000 to 700,000 people in the UK who are losing their sight because of AMD.


Copspeak: When Black Children Suddenly Become Juveniles

MARCH 19, 2018

As FAIR has noted many times before (7/10/16, 1/30/18), one of the primary goals of “Copspeak”—broadly defined as the media internalizing police verbiage to sound Cool and Official—is to dehumanize those officers have detained, harassed or killed.

One popular iteration of Copspeak is when reporters refer to children or teenagers as “juveniles.” This works to criminalize and dehumanize a distinction—being a child—we would otherwise view in a sympathetic light, by using the dry, scientistic language of an anthropological study. “Police shoot fleeing juvenile” impacts us far less than “police shoot fleeing child” or “police shoot fleeing teenager,” which is why it’s the preferred term of the police, and thus police-aligned local reporters doing their best Copspeak impression.

. . .

For centuries, societies have made a distinction between crimes committed by children and adults, with an understanding that, developmentally, they have different notions of guilt and responsibility. Blurring this distinction with “juvenile” turns children into criminals, instead of what they are: children.

Often, the term “juvenile” is coupled with “male” to maximize the dehumanization. This works in conjunction with other elements of Copspeak (FAIR.org, 1/30/18): Instead of a “boy” or “teenager killed,” we have a “dead juvenile male” dying “after” an “officer-involved shooting.” The normal language of human interaction is replaced with Borg-like jargon: Chests become “torsos,” boys become “juvenile males” and—by design—humans become cadavers.


World's Happiest Country Also Has No Carbon Emissions The small kingdom of Bhutan could be a model

The small kingdom of Bhutan could be a model for countries on the front lines of climate change.

Bhutan is one of the world's remaining biodiversity hotspots. Approximately 72 percent of Bhutan is covered by forests. The country's government has a mandate that 60 percent will be protected for all time. Despite their environmental commitment, Bhutan's glaciers are retreating and melting, causing dangerous floods and resource scarcity.

By Sarah Gibbens
Photographs by Ciril Jazbec

Picture of the mountains of Bhutan
Bhutan is one of the world's remaining biodiversity hotspots. Approximately 72 percent of Bhutan is covered by forests. The country's government has a mandate that 60 percent will be protected for all time. Despite their environmental commitment, Bhutan's glaciers are retreating and melting, causing dangerous floods and resource scarcity.
By Sarah Gibbens
Photographs by Ciril Jazbec

National Geographic produced this content as part of our partnership with Rolex, formed to promote exploration and conservation. The organizations will join forces in efforts that support veteran explorers, nurture emerging explorers, and protect Earth’s wonders.
Bhutan is small, about the size of Switzerland, and similarly mountainous—though more geographically remote. To the south, Bhutan is landlocked by India, and to the North, it's buffered by the mighty Himalaya. Before 1974, Bhutan was completely closed off to tourists and most outsiders, and even now, only a few fee-paying visitors are allowed in at a time.

The small mountain kingdom is home to a thriving, ancient culture, as well as stunning natural beauty. What many believe is the world's highest unclimbed peak, Gangkhar Puensum, soars nearly 25,000 feet into the clouds. Without a sizeable wallet, or an outsized sense of adventure, few people will actually get to visit this unique kingdom.

Slovenian photographer Ciril Jazbec is one of the lucky few who have visited Bhutan. He recently toured the country, visiting small villages, exploring vast forests, and meeting local people. His resulting work is an intimate look at the small nation that few foreigners ever see.

His photos range from traditional pastoral scenes to what may surprise outsiders as modern lifestyles. But because it's Bhutan, striking glacial mountains flanked by deep, green forests are often in the background. The overall impression is one of a special place that hangs in the balance. It's a blend of history and change, old and new, impact and resilience.


Surreal Photos of India's Living Root Bridges

These intricate living structures take 15 to 30 years to complete.

A group of children cross a living root bridge in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. The bridges are essential for rural connectivity in a vertical landscape.

During monsoon season in northeast India, rainwater gushes through the emerald valleys and deep gorges of Meghalaya, the“abode of the clouds.” The mountainous plateau between Assam and Bangladesh is one of the wettest places on Earth, and the Khasi tribes who inhabit these hills have developed an intimate relationship with the forest.

Long before the availability of modern construction materials, the Khasi devised an ingenious way to traverse the turbulent waterways and link isolated villages: living root bridges, locally known as jing kieng jri.

Tree trunks are planted on each side of the bank to create a sturdy foundation, and over the course of 15 to 30 years, the Khasi slowly thread Ficus elastica roots across a temporary bamboo scaffolding to connect the gap. A combination of humidity and foot traffic help compact the soil over time, and the tangle of roots grows thick and strong. Mature bridges stretch 15 to 250 feet over deep rivers and gorges, and can bear impressive loads—upwards of 35 people at a time.

A double-decker root bridge in Cheerapunji is one of the main attractions in Meghalaya. The growing tourism in the region supports the local economy.

Unlike modern building materials like concrete and steel, these structures typically become more resilient with age and can survive centuries. They regularly withstand flash flooding and storm surges that are common in the region—a low-cost and sustainable way to connect remote mountain villages scattered throughout the steep terrain. The exact origin of the tradition in this region is unknown, but the first written record appears more than a hundred years ago.


Fantastic Florida Cuban-American legislators back in the news!

Rubio and Diaz-Balart have ($$) ties to Miami’s collapsed-bridge builders
Álvaro Fernández • March 16, 2018

Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart are beholden to their political benefactors first and foremost. And people are dying because of it.

For example, they’d rather protect the gun industry at the expense of… even children. It is a known fact both Rubio and Diaz-Balart are major supporters of the National Rifle Association. Some say they are owned by the NRA, who over the years has showered them both with money. Nobody in Florida has received more money than these two from this gun lobby that believes the 2nd Amendment and the right to shoot people carries more weight than the life of a 14-year-old in Miami or for that matter a six-year-old in Sandy Hook Elementary.

But it’s not the NRA that has me up in arms today!

By now most everyone around the country and other parts of the world know that a 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed over Tamiami Trail on Thursday afternoon in southwest Miami-Dade killing at least six people. More dead are expected. As of Friday (March 16), workers were still digging out the site of the tragedy looking for bodies.


Gross rejects Trump plan to launch task force into Cuban cyberspace

Emilio Paz • February 5, 2018

Remember Alan Gross, the elderly American who tried to smuggle electronic equipment into Cuba to start an unauthorized Internet system, was arrested in 2009 and spent five of 15 years in prison for his troubles?

Well, his plight made quite a splash in the U.S. media. In his defense, he said that he was simply a contractor for USAID, the Washington-based Agency for International Development. Many in Cuba still believe that USAID is an agency for espionage and disruption.

Be that as it may, Gross is again in the public eye on the topic of Cuba and the Internet. Surprisingly, this time on Cuba’s side.

Two weeks ago, on Jan. 23, the U.S. State Department said it was convening a Cuba Internet Task Force “to promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba. The task force will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding Internet access and independent media in Cuba.” The short announcement gave no details.


More than 800 businesses in Colombia tied to death squads: report

by Frank Cardona March 16, 2018

More than 800 businesses sponsored paramilitary groups that committed tens of thousands of human right violations in Colombia, in most cases without consequence, according to a recent report.

The report was published by Colombian think tank Dejusticia, Oxford University and other investigators after a two-year research into corporate Colombia’s extensive ties to paramilitary groups.

According to the investigators, “a total of 439 cases of corporate complicity were mentioned in 35 … sentences handed down by Colombian courts until 2015.”

These cases would implicate 17 business associations, 862 businesses and 347 businessmen.

In the 1980s, those who created the Puerto Boyaca paramilitary groups were businessmen defending their businesses (Ronderos 2014), so the economic interests shaped the paramilitary project. Then, the second generation paramilitary groups that emerged in the 1990s continued this tradition, using local and national socio-economic elites to operate in the territories and ensure their impunity.

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