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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 06:11 PM
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World's most dangerous drug: ‘Devil’s Breath’ from Colombia blocks free will, wipes memory, & kills.

A hazardous drug that eliminates free will and can wipe the memory of its victims is currently being dealt on the streets of Colombia. The drug is called scopolamine;but is colloquially known as "the Devil’s Breath" and is derived from a particular type of tree common to South America: the borrachero tree – loosely translated as the "get-you-drunk" tree.

Stories surrounding the drug are the stuff of urban legends, with some telling horror stories of how people were raped, forced to empty their bank accounts, and even coerced into giving up an organ. Vice writer Ryan Duffy traveled to Colombia to reveal the shocking culture of another Colombian drug world, interviewing those who deal the drug and those who have fallen victim to it.

Demencia Black, a drug dealer in the capital of Bogotá, said the drug is frightening for the simplicity in which it can be administered. He told Vice that scopolamine can be blown in the face of a passer-by on the street, and that within minutes that person is under the drug’s effect. Scopolamine is odorless and tasteless.

"You can guide them wherever you want," he explained. "It’s like they’re a child." The drug, he said, turns people into complete zombies and blocks memories from forming. So even after the drug wears off, victims have no recollection as to what happened.

According to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, the drug – also known as hyoscine – causes the same level of memory loss as diazepam. In ancient times, the drug was given to the mistresses of dead Colombian leaders; they were told to enter their master’s grave, where they were buried alive.

In modern times, the CIA used the drug as part of Cold War interrogations, with the hope of using it like a truth serum. Because of the drug’s chemical makeup, however, it also induces powerful hallucinations.

Experts are baffled as to why Colombia is riddled with scopolamine-related crimes; but wager much of it has to do with the country’s torn drug-culture past, and the ongoing civil war.

At: http://www.healthfreedoms.org/the-most-dangerous-drug-in-the-world-devils-breath-chemical-from-colombia-can-block-free-will-wipe-memory-and-even-kill/

Meet the 94-Year-Old Civil-Rights Activist Who Is Now Challenging North Carolina’s Voter-ID Law

This week, a federal court will hear a challenge to North Carolina’s voter-ID law. Ninety-four-year-old Rosanell Eaton will be a key witness against the law.

In 1942, the 21-year-old Eaton took a two-hour mule ride to the Franklin County courthouse in eastern North Carolina to register to vote. The three white male registrars told her to stand up straight, with her arms at her side, look straight ahead and recite the preamble to the Constitution from memory. After she did that word for word, they gave her a written literacy test, which she also passed. Eaton was one of the few blacks to pass a literacy test and make it on the voting rolls in the Jim Crow era.

A granddaughter of a slave, she became a lifelong voting-rights activist, personally registering 4,000 new voters before losing count. But in 2013, after voting for 70 years, she became a casualty of North Carolina’s new voter-ID law, which goes into effect this year, because the name on her voter registration card (Rosanell Eaton) did not match the name on her driver’s license (Rosa Johnson Eaton).

Beginning in January 2015, Eaton undertook a herculean effort to match her various documents and comply with the law. Over the course of a month, she made 11 trips to different state agencies — four trips to the DMV, four trips to two different Social Security offices, and three trips to different banks — totaling more than 200 miles and 20 hours. “It was really stressful and difficult, [a] headache and expensive, everything you could name,” she said. More than 300,000 North Carolinians lack a government-issued ID, with African Americans twice as likely as whites not to have one.

The North Carolina legislature passed one of the toughest voter-ID laws in July 2013 — a month after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. Then, just three weeks before a federal court heard a challenge to the law in July 2015, the legislature unexpectedly softened the voter-ID requirement. Those without government-issued photo ID could still vote if they proved there was a “reasonable impediment” to possessing or obtaining the strict voter ID. Now the North Carolina NAACP and the Justice Department are challenging the modified ID law in court. Judge Thomas Schroeder, who will hear the case, recently denied a preliminary injunction to block the law before the state’s March 15 primary.

From 2002 to 2012, there were only two cases of voter impersonation out of 35 million votes cast in North Carolina, according to Minnite’s research. There have been no new referrals since the legislature passed the voter ID law, which raises the question: Why was it needed in the first place?Of the 18,749 provisional ballots cast in North Carolina in 2014, more than half — 9,793 — were rejected.

The new restrictions had a clear negative impact in the last election. Democracy North Carolina estimated that “the new voting limitations and polling place problems reduced turnout by at least 30,000 voters in the 2014 election.” These voting problems occurred before the state’s voter-ID law took effect and before a highly contested presidential election. As voters begin to head to the polls to decide the next president, in the first presidential election since the VRA was gutted, the stakes are much higher in 2016.

At: http://billmoyers.com/story/meet-the-94-year-old-civil-rights-activist-who-is-now-challenging-north-carolinas-voter-id-law/

Spain's conservatives rocked by fresh corruption scandal

Source: Yahoo News

Spanish police said 24 people had been detained in the eastern Valencia region in a fresh corruption case that allegedly involves a former high-profile member of the ruling Popular Party (PP).

It was the latest in a long list of scandals linked to Spain's conservative PP as well as the rival Socialists, angering Spaniards and contributing to the rise of upstart parties such as Podemos and Ciudadanos which came third and fourth in the December elections respecively.

A source at the Guardia Civil police, who refused to be named, told AFP the detentions were part of "a probe into an alleged corruption network" involving different public administrations in Valencia in connection with "getting commissions in exchange for public work" contracts. The source said 24 people had been detained so far, including the former PP regional president Alfonso Rus.

The party has come under increasing pressure following a string of scandals. On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría announced the resignation of one of her main associates in connection with a corruption scandal at a state-run water company the associate once oversaw.

Corruption cost Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy many votes in December's elections, along with Socialists who have also been hit hard by graft cases.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/spain-rocked-fresh-corruption-scandal-191755621.html

The tip of the iceberg no doubt. Just wait until Rajoy (finally) steps down.

Thai airline allows passengers to buy seat for 'supernatural' dolls.

It's time to board the plane. You cross your fingers, hoping you're not going to be seated next to a child; no such luck.

But this is no ordinary kid. She doesn't cry, move or kick seats. That's because she's actually a Luk Thep -- or supernatural "child angel" doll. Sounds too bizarre to be true? Not if you're boarding a flight in Thailand.

The lifelike dolls have become so popular that regional carrier Thai Smile Airways, a subsidiary of Thailand's flag carrier Thai Airways, recently instructed its staff to allow passengers to purchase a seat for their Luk Thep dolls. Luk Thep are believed to possess a child's spirit and bring good fortune, thus many Thais have taken to treating them like real kids.

The internal Thai Smile memo, being circulated among Thai media, says the dolls have to be buckled up like human passengers and will be served snacks and drinks. As with real children, they're barred from sitting in exit rows.

Thailand's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has taken notice of the issue, and is now reportedly discussing the matter with local aviation agencies and airlines to formulate a policy that complies with security regulations.

Turns out the DCA's security fears may have some merit. On Tuesday morning, police at Chiang Mai Airport reportedly intercepted a Luk Thep inside a black suitcase that was being used as a drug mule. Underneath that sweet exterior police say they found 200 tablets of yaba -- a methamphetamine-based drug produced in Thailand.

Though many of the Luk Thep are imported, they reportedly go through a ritual in Thailand that involves implanting them with a child's soul. They became popular when local celebrities started posting on social media about the impact the dolls have had on their lives.

At: http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/26/aviation/thai-smile-airways-luk-thep-doll/index.html

Bernie Sanders vows to protect organic farming, calls out Monsanto as presidential campaign heats up

Unlike most of the top candidates, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has a long history of speaking out against big corporations, factory farming, and the Biotech giants.

As early as 1994 he was fighting against companies such as Monsanto using chemicals that impact human and animal health. He was also one of the few senators that introduced the Farm Bill that would require labeling of any genetically engineered ingredients in food.

Unlike former Secretary Hillary Clinton, who fully supports GMOs, Sanders believes that the biotech companies are “transforming our agricultural system in a bad way.” He says that he stands for the right of the people to know what is in our food (through mandatory GMO labeling that he helped pass in Vermont, an effort that the GMO giants are trying to block through the DARK Act) and supports family-owned and organic agriculture.

During a private dinner event on December 27th, Sanders spoke about how to make sure our food is healthy and our farming is ethical, as well as other big issues that his campaign stands for. “The debate should be: how do we make sure that the food our kids are eating is healthy food. And having the courage to take on these huge food and biotech companies who are transforming our agricultural system in a bad way,” he said. Sanders also criticized the fossil fuel industry, saying it’s past due time we start to shift toward renewable and alternative energy.

He went on to describe the food scene in his home state, where organic farming and farmer’s markets are becoming commonplace. “We have hundreds of farmers markets (in Vermont), you’ll find people buying food, beef and poultry directly from farmers, and there’s a growing farm to school pipeline,” he said. “It’s something we’ve worked very hard on and I think all over this country people are concerned about the quality of food their kids are eating.”

Sanders went on to talk about how his own additions to the Farm Bill would help make this vision a reality for people across the country, and also called out Monsanto on a key food and GMO-related topic that is being completely ignored by the mainstream media once again.

He also gets a few shots in against the factory farm industry. “We need legislation and efforts designed not to protect factory farming, corporate farming but to protect family-based agriculture,” he said.

At: http://jbanews.com/2016/01/26/bernie-sanders-vows-to-protect-organic-farming-calls-out-monsanto-as-presidential-campaign-heats-up/

Obamas’ love blooms in Sundance premiere of 'Southside with You'.

It’s the sweet, romantic story of a first date — albeit fictionalized — of the couple who currently occupy the White House. Southside With You, the feature film based on Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s first date, debuted yesterday to a packed house at the Sundance Film Festival.

The movie tells the story of a single day in 1989 — the first day that summer associate, Harvard student Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers), spent with his adviser, Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter), a second-year associate with a Chicago corporate law firm. He believes he’s on a date. She believes she’s spending the day with a professional colleague. By the end of a day that moves from the Art Institute of Chicago to a picnic lunch to a community organizing meeting, sharing beers and the then-newly released Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing, they’re both on the same page.

Sawyer’s portrayal of Obama brings to the screen the unmistakable cadence and quick smile of the man who would become president. Sumpter shows a young Michelle as confident and determined, caring and kind. Director and screenwriter Richard Tanne says though the movie is fictionalized, he researched what actually happened on the date from news articles and books. He filled in the conversation — “there wasn’t a note-taker on the date.”

Sumpter, who also co-produced the film, said her aim was simple: “Ultimately, I wanted to see someone who looked like me falling in love up there and I think everybody can relate to that. ... It’s not Republican, Democrat or anything else. It’s just a love story.” She was intrigued by the concept of the film when she saw the synopsis. “Just the perspective — not seeing these two as we see them now, but from before. ... It started because I was just inspired by the love story ... and I wanted to see that kind of love up there. It’s not the normal rom-com. It’s real conversations of what might have been said,” she said.

The Obamas haven’t yet seen the film, but Tanne said he’s heard that they’re aware of it. “They’re excited and they’re also a little baffled by its existence,” he said.

At: http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/207398/obamas%E2%80%99-love-blooms-in-sundance-premiere

Revenue sharing demand takes center stage at Peronist Governors' Summit in Argentina.

Eleven governors and numerous party leaders and lawmakers attended the Justicialist Party summit in the Province of San Juan (in the Argentine Andes) on Friday. Among the issues they addressed was the Supreme Court ruling last November that ordered the reimbursement of the 15% social security tax provinces had been paying back to the federal government on their revenue sharing income since 1992. Federal revenue sharing, first enacted in Argentina in 1988, reached US$44 billion in 2015.

The ruling, which pertained to a suit brought forward by three provinces (Córdoba, San Luis, and Santa Fe), prompted former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to extend the reimbursement to all provinces and the City of Buenos Aires, since Article 75 of the Argentine Constitution requires that federal tax rates be equal across the country. President Mauricio Macri, who has been ruling by decree since his December 10 inaugural, rescinded the order however.

President Macri, on the other hand, last week decreed a raise in the revenue sharing quota allotted to the City of Buenos Aires from 1.9% to 3.75% - an increase of nearly US$1 billion. Santa Cruz Governor Alicia Kirchner questioned the recent decision by the federal government to increase the revenue sharing quota of the City of Buenos Aires considering it “unfair.”

Governor Kirchner added that the Macri administration used the transfer of the Federal Police to the City as an “excuse” to boost the City’s share in the federal funds. “I think it has to do with the very significant borrowing by Macri when he was the City Mayor that is due this year,” said the former Minister of Social Development during the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration.

Over US$600 million in debt interest and amortization payments are due by the City of Buenos Aires in 2016 - more than the city's entire debt load when Macri took office as Mayor in 2007.

In tune with Alicia Kirchner’s statements, Río Negro Province Senator Miguel Ángel Pichetto said that the demand for reimbursement of 15% of the revenue sharing for all provinces was “fair,” adding the position of the federal government was “centralist” (i.e. Buenos Aires-centric).

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/207325/revenue-sharing-demand-takes-center-stage-at-san-juan-summit

Centralism in favor of Buenos Aires, even to the detriment of the nation's 23 provinces, has been a fixture of Argentine conservatism through the country's 200 year history. Argentina's George Washington, Gen. José de San Martín, was in fact forced to leave the country in 1824 for refusing to support centralism (or any other regional demands).

To this day, Buenos Aires right-wingers (Macri's core base) are said to believe that “Argentina ends at the Buenos Aires beltway.” Macri's certainly proving them right.

Spain digs up Franco-era graves, 80 years after civil war that brought him to power.

Source: Buenos Aires Herald

Spanish activists dug up a mass grave yesterday in a search for victims of the country’s civil war and the fascist dictatorship it put in place, as an Argentine court presses Spain to confront its troubled past. The exhumation, expected to last several days, is the first agreed to by a Spanish court after a campaign by Argentine investigators working on a case being advanced by Argentine Federal Judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría.

Hundreds of Spaniards turned to the Argentine court system two years ago for help in uncovering crimes committed during the 1936-39 civil war and the subsequent 36-year dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, by using an international human rights law.

On the edge of a cemetery in Guadalajara, some 50 kilometres from Madrid, volunteers dug open a grave believed to hold 22 or 23 bodies after a campaign by 90-year-old Ascensión Mendieta, who is seeking her father’s remains. “I’m overwhelmed by all this, but I know we’re going to get there and get what we wanted,” she said. “After this I can die in peace.” Her father Timoteo, who fought against Franco’s forces, is believed to have been shot amid reprisals after the war ended.

Hundreds of thousands of people died during the conflict, with atrocities committed on both sides. The victors under Franco went on to execute thousands of people after the war, according to British historian Paul Preston’s book The Spanish Holocaust.

Forty years after Franco’s death, the Argentine-led investigation into possible crimes against humanity during his rule could revive a movement to confront Spain’s past, which gained prominence after the Socialists came to power in 2004. A historical memory association, which helped with the dig in Guadalajara, has carried out several exhumations in recent years at the request of families. But building legal cases in Spain has been impossible. The country passed an amnesty law in 1977 which pardoned the crimes of the Franco government.

Read more: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/207091/spain-digs-up-franco-graves-80-years-on

Amnesty International calls for Argentine indigenous activist's release.

Amnesty International is asking authorities to release activist Milagro Sala even as the government of the province where she is held, led by right-wing Governor Gerardo Morales, has expanded the case against her.

Sala is the head of Argentina's Tupac Amaru social movement and won a seat last year on the regional parliament of the Mercosur group of South American nations.

The international rights organization says Sala was arrested Saturday and accused of "inciting criminal acts and riots" in connection with a protest she led against authorities. The Jujuy Province government on Tuesday broadened the claims against her, saying her movement had "embezzled in public funds."

Sala has denied the accusations.

Amnesty International said Tuesday that Sala's detention violates the right to demonstrate in Argentina.

At: http://news.yahoo.com/amnesty-international-calls-argentine-activists-release-222235716.html

This is the same Governor Morales (a close Macri ally) whose demands for a federal riot squad - for an inexistent riot - led to the deaths of 43 gendarmes in an accident a month ago. http://www.democraticunderground.com/110846173

Italian writer and director Ettore Scola dies at 84.

Ettore Scola, one of the last of a generation of great Italian writers and directors, who was best known for “Il Sorpasso” (1962), “We All Loved Each Other So Much” (1974), “A Special Day” (1977), "That Night in Varennes (1982), “The Family” (1987), and “The Dinner” (1998), fell ill on Sundayand died late Tuesday at a Rome hospital. He was 84.

Scola was perhaps best known for “We All Loved Each Other So Much,” a 1974 portrait of postwar Italy that starred Nino Manfredi, Vittorio Gassman and Stefania Sandrelli. He directed and co-scripted with Maccari the 1977 Sophia Loren-Marcello Mastroianni film “A Special Day,” which picked up Oscar nominations for best foreign film and best actor for Mastroianni. He and Loren played neighbors who meet in 1938 during Hitler’s visit to Italy.

Scola won best director at Cannes for 1976’s “Ugly, Dirty and Bad” and shared the festival’s best screenplay award for “La terrazza” (1980). Another film much applauded on the festival circuit was the director’s 1983 film “Le bal.”

Scola started as a screenwriter, co-scripting “Il Sorpasso” with director Dino Risi and Ruggero Maccari. Starring Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant, the 1962 film was a road movie that is a classic of the genre.

Scola directed and co-scripted 1987’s “The Family,” starring Gassman, Stefania Sandrelli and Fanny Ardant; the Washington Post called the film “a thoughtful Italian ‘Upstairs, Downstairs.’ ”

He directed and co-scripted 1998’s “The Dinner,” starring Ardant, Gassman and Giancarlo Giannini; Variety said of the film, “A grotesque grab bag of trattoria diners, repping a cross-section of Italian society, eats its way through Ettore Scola’s ‘The Dinner,’ a relaxing, well-oiled comedy with little to digest. “

At: http://news.yahoo.com/italian-writer-director-ettore-scola-dies-84-014801530.html
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