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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 144,862

Journal Archives

Outspoken Rio councilwoman who fought for the marginalized is shot to death; thousands mourn

MAR 15, 2018 | 3:45 PM

Marielle Franco, a hard-charging City Council member, had become the face of resistance in Rio de Janeiro as she defended the city's marginalized communities, stood up for human rights and railed against a police force she believed was overly aggressive.

She was at it again Wednesday, urging supporters at a rally she'd organized to push for better treatment of black women

Hours later, she was dead, gunned down along with her driver as they traveled through the city's downtown.

Franco's death reverberated across the city and beyond as thousands of people gathered at rallies, expressed their outrage on Twitter and wept openly in public. Several human rights organization suggested the shooting was political and was an attack on those who push for improved rights in Brazil. Activists urged authorities to investigate the slaying as an assassination.


Meet Steve, a Totally New Kind of Aurora

Canadian citizen scientist photographers spotted a fleeting type of aurora not seen before, dubbed “Steve,” and scientists have started working out what’s causing them.

Steve seen with the Milky Way over Childs Lake, Manitoba.

By Ramin Skibba

While the northern and southern lights have dazzled watchers of the night sky for millennia, vigilant citizen scientist photographers found another type of aurora over the past few years: a short-lived shimmering purple ribbon of plasma. Their intriguing discovery drew the attention of space scientists, who have just begun to study them.

“Dedicated aurora chasers, especially from Alberta, Canada, were out in the middle of the night, looking north and taking beautiful photos. Then farther south they happened to see a faint narrow purple arc as well,” says Elizabeth MacDonald, a space physicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. There’s different physics behind those purple aurora, she says.

MacDonald led a team who observed the aurora by sending one of the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites through it. The results suggest they’re a manifestation of accelerated and heated charged particles coming from the sun that interact with a particular part of the Earth’s magnetic field in the ionosphere. The team published their findings in Science Advances Wednesday.

The citizen scientists weren’t sure about what they’d seen, so they called the strange aurora structure “Steve.” The name caught on, and MacDonald and her team kept it, proposing the backronym Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE). While scientists had known about lower-latitude currents of charged particles for decades, they had no idea that they could produce auroras visible to the eye. But now that people have smartphones and digital cameras more sensitive than what scientists had back then, they can pick out these rare aurora, which last only about an hour.


Bolivian women weave devices to patch holes in hearts

MARCH 13, 2018 / 4:34 PM / UPDATED 8 HOURS AGO

Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) - A team of Bolivian women are using indigenous Aymara weaving patterns to craft devices that can help repair heart defects, doctors involved in developing the device report in JAMA.

The device is woven from a nickel-titanium alloy that can be collapsed and delivered within a catheter to the heart, where it’s then expanded to repair a hole. Traditional Aymara weavers repeat an Andean cross or chakana symbol up to 120 times to craft the device, called Nit-Occlud ASD-R.

“To my knowledge, it is the first time metal weaving is used for medical devices in Bolivia,” said lead study author Dr. Alexandra Heath of Kardiozentrum in La Paz, Bolivia in email to Reuters Health.

“It is surprising, that these women, after a training, can assume the task brilliantly,” said Heath, who has received consulting fees from the device manufacturer PFM Medical.


Curiosity led me to look for an Andean cross. This image is found in ancient temples:

Ancient temple wall discovered, shaped like Andean chakana
June 8th, 2009

Ventarrón, a 4000 year old ceremonial site with spectacular murals painted by ancient peoples who lived during the dawn of civilisation, has given up another stunning prize.

It had already made news when the site, once used by locals as a garbage dump, was found to be home to a temple complex with the oldest murals yet found in Peru.

Now, thanks to the work of archaeologist Ignacio Alva Meneses, son of the famed Walter Alva who discovered of the tomb of the Lord of Sipán, the 4000 year old temple has revealed another stunning secret.

To the side of the temple, one of a series of rooms has been discovered that is shaped like the ancient Andean symbol called the Chacana – also known as the Andean Cross, or in Spanish, the Cruz Andina. As one of the oldest examples of this important cultural symbol discovered, it may eventually help provide more insight into its origin.


Grounding Pinochet

For more than four years, Pinochet’s air force was paralyzed by 3,000 Scottish workers who refused to service its planes.

If Vietnam was the first “television war,” then September 11, 1973 was arguably the first televised coup. Images of the brutal overthrow of Salvador Allende’s socialist government in Chile were beamed around the world in the days that followed, with few symbols of the CIA-backed assault on democracy proving more resonant than that of low-flying Hawker Hunter jets bombing the presidential palace. The body of Allende would later be pulled from the building, while his supporters were rounded up, tortured, and executed in their thousands.

Among those following the faraway events was Robert Somerville, a member of the Communist Party and a union shop steward at a Rolls Royce plant in the Scottish town of East Kilbride, ten miles south of Glasgow. A few days after the coup, Somerville brought a motion condemning the military junta to a union meeting in his workplace, where it was passed. There was nothing unusual about this in itself, with the coup sending shock waves around the world and rapidly spawning an international solidarity movement.

But there was an important difference about the East Kilbride plant: the factory was, by that time, the only one in the world that serviced the engines of the Hawker Hunter jets that were the mainstay of Chile’s air force. In the coming months the plant’s workers would organize a remarkable boycott that grounded most of Pinochet’s air force for years. For years, the story of their refusal was forgotten — but a new movie by the son of Chilean exiles aims to tell their tale.

Nae Pasaran
When a consignment of engines from Chile appeared in the factory in March 1974, the East Kilbride workers had an opportunity to turn their opposition to Pinochet’s junta into more than just words. After an engine inspector refused to let the consignment through, it quickly came to the attention of the factory’s union committee and within hours, an official boycott was underway. All 3,000 workers at the plant would maintain the “blacking” of the engines for four years. Their stand was widely celebrated by the Chilean solidarity movement, and proved a major cause of consternation for Rolls Royce, the British government, and the Chilean regime.  When Hortense Allende, the deposed president’s widow, visited Glasgow in 1975, she praised the boycott as a “beacon of light to those in Chile.”

For the workers, though, it was easy to feel that their actions had little lasting effect, with the engines’ presence becoming part of everyday life at the factory while debates raged in the background. In any case, the engines were spirited away in a mysterious pre-dawn raid one day in August 1978, with the workers and union left feeling powerless. What became of them was never known, with even the license plates of the vehicles used to remove the engines turning out to be fake. Military involvement was suspected.


The sins of Colombias ruling class: the Suarez family

by Adriaan Alsema March 9, 2018

Senator Olga Suarez is investigated for her ties to paramilitary group AUC

Colombia’s political system has long been hijacked by political mafias. One of the most notorious clans, the Suarez family, has a history of using fraud and violence to stay in power.

The family has controlled the city of Bello, next to Medellin, for more than 20 years and is represented in the Senate thanks to the support of the Conservative Party.

The clan of Oscar, Cesar and Olga Suarez have used their political power to enrich themselves through private security and cleaning services provided to local governments in the Medellin metropolitan area.

Despite the family’s evident corruption and proven ties to drug traffickers and death squads, Olga became senator for the Conservative Party in 2014. Cesar became Mayor of Bello in 2016.

. . .

Tell Ariel Avila that if he talks about the Suarez family again they will find him chopped in pieces in a bag. Don’t mess with us. They will find him with his mouth full of maggots.

Anonymous call to think tank Peace and Reconciliation


Never-Before-Seen Mineral Found Inside a 'Super Deep' Diamond The find can tell scientists how ocean

The find can tell scientists how ocean crust is recycled throughout Earth's interior.

By Sarah Gibbens

Hidden inside a diamond forged deep within the belly of the Earth, scientists have found the first evidence of a mineral that's never been seen before.

It's called calcium silicate perovskite, and without a hard casing like diamond, scientists have never been able to keep it stable at Earth's surface.

"We actually had no idea we would find it," said Graham Pearson, a professor at the University of Alberta and co-author on a new Nature paper that details the find.

"Most scientists would say you would never find it at the Earth's surface," he adds. That's because when the mineral ascends to the surface, less pressure is exerted on it and its carbon bonds are rearranged. Scientists estimate the mineral is the fourth most abundant mineral on Earth, but they have never been able to observe the substance at the surface.


Argentine church says it will hand over baptism certificates

Source: Associated Press

Updated 7:48 pm, Tuesday, March 6, 2018

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The Argentine Catholic Church announced Tuesday that it will hand over to a judge more than 100 certificates from baptisms performed in a chapel at a navy base that served as a clandestine torture center during the country's dictatorship.

Activists hope the information will help determine what happened to children taken from political prisoners at the center and later illegally adopted, often by military families. Human rights groups say most of the detained biological parents were later killed.

"We firmly believe the Church should make every effort to contribute to the path of memory, truth and justice in all fields, especially given the gravity of the crimes against humanity committed during the years of state terrorism from 1976 to 1983," the Argentine Episcopal Conference said in a statement.

The bishops said the decision was a response to "a longing of Pope Francis," the Argentine pontiff who previously promised human rights groups that the church would hand over documentation to help clarify the crimes committed by the military regime.

Read more: https://www.chron.com/news/world/article/Argentine-church-says-it-will-hand-over-baptism-12733357.php

Kissinger hindered US effort to end mass killings in Argentina, according to files
Newly declassified files show the former secretary of state jeopardized efforts to crackdown on bloodshed by Argentina’s 1976-83 military dictatorship
Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

Tue 9 Aug 2016 14.05 EDT

Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger jeopardized US efforts to stop mass killings by Argentina’s 1976-83 military dictatorship by congratulating the country’s military leaders for “wiping out” terrorism, according to a large trove of newly declassified state department files.

The documents, which were released on Monday night, show how Kissinger’s close relationship to Argentina’s military rulers hindered Jimmy Carter’s carrot-and-stick attempts to influence the regime during his 1977-81 presidency.

Carter officials were infuriated by Kissinger’s attendance at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina as the personal guest of dictator Jorge Videla, the general who oversaw the forced disappearance of up to 30,000 opponents of the military regime.

At the time, Kissinger was no longer in office after Carter defeated Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election, but the documents reveal that US diplomats feared his praise for Argentina’s crackdown would encourage further bloodshed.


Study finds false stories travel way faster than the truth

Seth Borenstein, Ap Science Writer
Updated 3:44 pm, Thursday, March 8, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — Twitter loves lies. A new study finds that false information on the social media network travels six times faster than the truth and reaches far more people.

And you can't blame bots; it's us, say the authors of the largest study of online misinformation.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at more than 126,000 stories tweeted millions of times between 2006 and the end of 2016 — before Donald Trump took office but during the combative presidential campaign. They found that "fake news" sped through Twitter "farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information," according to the study in Thursday's journal Science .

"No matter how you slice it, falsity wins out," said co-author Deb Roy, who runs MIT's Laboratory for Social Machines and is a former chief media scientist at Twitter.


What the US Government Is Not Telling You About Those Sonic Attacks in Cuba

The key victims were CIA agents. Not a single tourist was affected, and the island remains among the safest countries in the world to visit.

By Peter Kornbluh

Tourists ride classic convertible cars on the Malecon beside the United States Embassy last October in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo / Desmond Boylan)

When the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published a preliminary clinical evaluation of health problems suffered by US embassy personnel in Havana, the State Department seized the opportunity to reiterate a countrywide “health alert” on Cuba. “Discuss the JAMA article with a doctor if you have concerns prior to travel,” the department advised on February 14. “We encourage private U.S. citizens who have traveled to Cuba and are concerned about their symptoms to share this article with their doctor.”

The alert reflects an ongoing effort by President Trump’s State Department to frighten US travelers away from Cuba. Last September, when the administration announced a drastic 60 percent embassy staff reduction in Havana in response to the mysterious health maladies, the department issued a categorical warning to US citizens “not to travel to Cuba.” In early January, when the State Department issued a new safety ranking system for all nations, Cuba received a “level 3” designation—“Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security.” In late January, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs told The Miami Herald that, following the September alert, 19 US citizens had called to report health problems after traveling to Cuba—out of close to 620,000 travelers who visited the island in 2017—even though officials at the Bureau of Consular Affairs who fielded those calls readily admit that they took no steps to determine when, where, and how those illnesses occurred, and simply passed the callers on to the FBI. And last week, when the State Department determined that the embassy would not be restaffed and will “continue to operate with the minimum personnel necessary to perform core diplomatic and consular functions,” the department posted a long list of warnings for anyone thinking about traveling to Cuba—even though the island remains among the safest countries anywhere in the world for US citizens to visit.

The highly technical JAMA study, titled “Neurological Manifestations Among US Government Personnel Reporting Directional Audible and Sensory Phenomena in Havana, Cuba,” certainly sounds scary. The article summarizes initial medical findings on 21 of the 24 members of the US embassy community in Havana—diplomats, family members, and intelligence agents—who suffered a range of neurological-related symptoms from a still-unidentified source between late 2016 and August 2017. “Persistent cognitive, vestibular, and oculomotor dysfunction, as well as sleep impairment and headaches, were observed among US government personnel in Havana, Cuba, associated with reports of directional audible and/or sensory phenomena of unclear origin,” a team of doctors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Brain Injury and Repair reported. “These individuals appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma.”

. . .

The report, however, was accompanied by an editorial warning that the findings remain preliminary and incomplete. “At this point, a unifying explanation for the symptoms experienced by the US government officials described in this case series remains elusive and the effect of possible exposure to audible phenomena is unclear,” states the JAMA editorial. “Before reaching any definitive conclusions, additional evidence must be obtained and rigorously and objectively evaluated.”


Oscar Romero loved the people so much he continued when he knew the state would kill him.

Archbishop Óscar Romero

Younger Óscar Romero.

Archbishop Oscar Romero
The Last Sermon (1980)

Let no one be offended because we use the divine words read at our mass to shed light on the social, political and economic situation of our people. Not to do so would be unchristian. Christ desires to unite himself with humanity, so that the light he brings from God might become life for nations and individuals.

. . .

The spokesman of Amnesty International said that the victims' bodies characteristically appeared with the thumbs tied behind their backs. Corrosive liquids had been applied to the corpses to prevent identification of the victims by their relatives and to prevent international condemnation, the spokesman added. Nevertheless, the bodies were exhumed and the dead have been identified. Fuentes said that the repression carried out by the Salvadorean army was aimed at breaking the popular organizations through the assassination of their leaders in both town and country.

According to the spokesman of Amnesty International, at least three thousand five hundred peasants have fled from their homes to the capital to escape persecution. "We have complete lists in London and Sweden of young children and women who have been assassinated for being organized," Fuentes stated....

I would like to make a special appeal to the men of the army, and specifically to the ranks of the National Guard, the police and the military. Brothers, you come from our own people. You are killing your own brother peasants when any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God which says, "Thou shalt not kill." No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you recovered your consciences and obeyed your consciences rather than a sinful order. The church, the defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such an abomination. We want the government to face the fact that reforms are valueless if they are to be carried out at the cost of so much blood. In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression.


~ ~ ~

Remembering Those Murdered At Oscar Romero’s Funeral
Dozens of poor El Salvadorans were killed during the bishop’s funeral thirty five years ago.
By Greg Grandin
MARCH 25, 2015

. . .

As one of the concelebrating priests, I had been inside the cathedral from the start. Now I watched the terrified mob push through the doors until every inch of space was filled. Looking about me, I suddenly realized that, aside from the nuns, priests and bishops, the mourners were the poor and the powerless of EI Salvador. Absent were government representatives of the nation or of other countries. The ceremony had begun at 11 am and it was now after noon. For the next hour and a half or two, we found ourselves tightly packed into the cathedral, some huddled under the pews, others clutching one another in fright, still others praying silently or aloud.

The bomb explosions grew closer and more frequent until the cathedral began to shudder. Would the whole edifice collapse? Or would a machine-gunner appear in a doorway to strafe the crowd? A little peasant girl named Reina, dressed up in her brown-and-white checked Sunday dress, clung to me in desperation and pleaded, “Padre.”

We lived through that horror of bombs, bullets and panic, now dead bodies were being carried into the cathedral from outside, for nearly two hours. At certain moments one could not help wondering if we would all be killed…. Eventually, the bombing and shooting subsided. The papal nuncio to El Salvador received assurance by phone from some government source that it was safe for the people to leave the cathedral. Gradually, we filed out into the street with hands raised high above our heads, according to instructions, so as to assure any potential snipers that we were unarmed.

Later in the afternoon, back at the Jesuit residence where I was staying, we listened by radio to the government’s official account of the incident. The entire affair, the statement explained, was the work of leftist terrorists. Our own experience had given us, of course, a different picture…. All of us knew full well that we had not been held captive in the cathedral by leftist terrorists, as the official version had it, nor had any leftists attempted to make off with the archbishop’s body.


YouTube, graphic:

Massacre in El Salvador during Oscar Romero's funeral

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