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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 147,101

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European retailers urge Brazil to drop Amazon squatters bill

Dozens of companies are threatening to stop using Brazilian produce amid concerns that the proposed law could accelerate deforestation.

Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest last year reached its highest level since 2008

. . .

What is the controversial proposed law?
The bill is an expansion of a 2009 law that granted land rights to so-called "land-grabbers" living in the Amazon rainforest.

Critics of the proposed legislation have warned that it would undermine anti-deforestation efforts by rewarding squatters in the Amazon.

On the other hand, proponents argue that the bill could force such properties to comply with deforestation laws by bringing the settlers into the legal system.

Land-grabbers in the rainforest — who occupy properties illegally — typically cut down areas for agricultural use.

. . .

Bolsonaro has also repeatedly pledged to increase agricultural activity in the region.


Supermarkets threaten Brazilian boycott over Amazon destruction

By Harry Holmes
5 May 2021
2 min read

Conservation groups have warned a potential new Brazilian law will legitimise illegal land grabs

British supermarkets have threatened to boycott Brazilian products if the national congress passes a bill to increase the speed of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Nearly 40 food companies have signed an open letter calling on Brazil’s legislature to reject a bill which would allow farmers legal rights over land occupied without authorisation.

Conservation groups have warned the new law will legitimise illegal land grabs and pave the way for more forests to be burned for agriculture such as beef and soy.

The same group of companies – including Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Lidl, M&S, Co-op and Waitrose – made a similar threat last year but withdrew it after the Brazilian government removed the bill.

Moy Park and Pilgrim’s UK – both owned by Brazilian meat giant JBS – are also signatories. Activists have pressured supermarkets to drop JBS as a supplier after numerous alleged links to Amazonian destruction.


Human Rights, Bolivia, and the Best of Harvard Law

By The Crimson Editorial Board
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board.
4 hours ago

In the last few months alone, we’ve seen several high-profile Harvard Law School graduates grace the news with unseemly headlines: vacationing during a massively impactful crisis, distorting the truth through non-stop falsities, or engaging in inappropriate use of governmental resources. The trend makes it tempting to view Harvard’s legal education as a corrupting force.
But it isn’t, or at least it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes our Law School can make us proud, with brave alumni who showcase the very best of our ideals and ambitions — the very best of Harvard, even.

Last month was such an occasion. After over a decade’s worth of litigation, Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic secured a landmark victory: A federal judge upheld a 2018 ruling that sentenced former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and former Bolivian defense minister José Carlos Sánchez Berzaín to $10 million in compensatory damages for their role in the 2003 massacre of Indigenous Bolivians.

The decision brings some closure to a dark chapter of Bolivian history, a tiny but long overdue slice of justice to the families of the victims of state-organized violence. It offers some solace to those who, in the aftermath of massive protests against a government plan to export natural gas through Chile, witnessed how their own government instructed the military to turn violently against its own citizens.

The original suit, filed in 2007 by HLS’s International Human Rights Clinic at the insistence of then second-year student Thomas B. Becker, charged Bolivia’s former officials with ordering the killings of 67 civilians. The two officials had fled Bolivia for the United States, but Becker believed that justice could follow them here and he found a way to make it happen. This case marked the first time that a former head of state sat before his accusers in a U.S. human rights trial.


~ ~ ~

Earlier article, worth reading for information. If you feel moved, pleases read the press release which gives a much deeper view of what happened in this outrageous assault in Aymara citizens ordered by a US-educated and supported monster who has fled to and found refuge, anlong with his defense minister in the US after his atrocities.

February 20, 2018

Clinic’s case against former Bolivian president for role in 2003 massacre to proceed to trial
Posted by Susan Farbstein and Tyler Giannini

We’ve got thrilling news today: After more than 10 years of litigation, our case, Mamani et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín, is finally headed to trial. This is an historic event. It’s the first time a former head of state will stand trial in the U.S. for human rights abuses.

In less than two weeks, on March 5, the former President and Minister of Defense of Bolivia will stand trial in Federal District Court in Florida for their roles in a 2003 civilian massacre in Bolivia. And our clients will be in the courtroom to see it, and to testify.

Plaintiffs Eloy Rojas Mamani and Etelvina
Ramos Mamani and their children, Rosalia
Rojas Ramos, Heide Sonia Rojas Ramos,
Nancy Rojas Ramos, Maruja Rojas Ramos,
and Marlene Rojas Ramos (named after her
sister who died), with Thomas Becker, JD ’08,
at top right.

We would not be here without the work of our partners, listed below, and dozens of clinical students who have contributed over the years, from fact-finding to drafting briefs to thinking strategically about how to move the case forward. Foremost among those students is Thomas Becker, JD ’08. This case started as a seed of an idea in his mind, and he has been working tirelessly on it ever since.

Most importantly, we want to thank our clients, who have kept their wounds open so this case could move forward on behalf of those they lost, and the many other Bolivians whose lives were irrevocably damaged by the actions of these defendants. They inspire us every day with the extraordinary courage and dedication they have shown at every step of this journey.

Please see below for the press release in English and Spanish.


former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, nicknamed "Goni".

~ ~ ~

Goni on Trial
U.S. economic and political intervention defined the political career of former Bolivian president Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada. Now, in an unprecedented move, the U.S. is putting him on trial.

Jacquelyn Kovarik
March 22, 2018

Gonzalo "Goni" Sánchez de Lozada, ex-president of Bolivia (From the documentary "Un Minuto de Silencio" )

Former Bolivian president Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada and his one-time defense minister Jose Carlos Sánchez Berzain took the defendants’ stand on Tuesday March 6 in a United States civil trial in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This marks the first time in U.S. history that any former head of state has been put on trial before his accusers in a U.S. court. Tracing Goni’s decades-long relationship with U.S. politicians, economists, and political consultants makes this case all the more surprising—and emphasizes the importance of confronting U.S. intervention in modern Bolivian politics as this case unfolds in the following weeks.

The case against Goni alleges that the Bolivian military massacred over 60 citizens in October 2003 in El Alto, a case commonly referred to as “Black” or “Red” October. This violence marked the culmination of the Bolivian Gas War, when El Alto neighborhood organizations, Indigenous Aymara peasants, and citizens across various sectors of Bolivian society rose up to protest the privatization of natural gas reserves under Goni’s government. The bloody clashes between protesters and the Bolivian army would eventually lead to Goni’s forced resignation, two other short-lived presidencies, and finally the election of Bolivia’s first Indigenous president Evo Morales, who is of Aymara descent and remains president of Bolivia today.

On the first day of the trial, Goni and Berzaín sat quietly as they listened to various Aymara survivors testify about the repression and violence that they and their families endured almost 15 years ago. “This trial will offer Indigenous Aymara people, who have historically been excluded from justice, a chance to testify about events that led to dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries,” said Beth Stephens of the Center of Constitutional Rights, one of the attorneys of the eight families presenting the case against Goni, in a press release. The U.S. court’s decision to try Goni is an enormous victory for human rights activists, and especially for Indigenous peoples of Bolivia.

The trial results from a case that has been in various stages of litigation for over a decade. Bolivian plaintiffs were able to file Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) suits against Goni and Berzaín in the United States. This was possible due to a U.S. federal law that grants its federal courts jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed by non-U.S. citizens for crimes that violate international law—in this case, the crime of state-led extrajudicial killings.

That Goni is being tried in a U.S. court is not only unprecedented, but incredible, considering the context of the case. The October Massacre was the end result of years of boiling tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples over privatization—of natural resources and of elements of the Bolivian government—tensions that are deeply intertwined with the long history of U.S. presence in Bolivia. The series of events prior to the Gas War, the massacre itself, and the subsequent protection of Goni in the United States for almost 15 years before his trial all point to the United States’ ever-present hand in Bolivian politics. The significance of Goni being tried in a U.S. court, given these facts, is difficult to overstate.


Capitol Police Inspector General's Testimony Highlights Glaring Failures

Third Installment of Document Sourcebook Features Internal DHS Records Warning of Potential Violence, Testimony from D.C. National Guard Commanding General

Washington, D.C. - May 4, 2021 - Some United States Capitol Police (USCP) officers could not access their shields during the January 6, 2021, mob attack on the Capitol because the equipment was locked on a bus. Others had access to their shields, but, because they had been stored in a trailer without climate control, they shattered on impact.

These were just a few of the revelations made during USCP Inspector General Michael Bolton’s April 15 testimony before the House Administration Committee. His testimony is especially alarming considering the USCP’s own January 3 intelligence assessment stating that, “Unlike previous postelection protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counterprotesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself.”

Bolton also testified that USCP leadership:

  • Ordered officers on January 6 to use “heavier less-lethal weapons” out of concern that “they could potentially cause life-altering injury and/or death, if they were misused in any way;”

  • Did not ensure that recruits had the required hours of civil disturbance training;

  • Maintained outdated munitions;

  • Failed to complete required audits;

  • And tolerated a culture within the Civil Disturbance Unit that decreased “operational readiness.”

  • Bolton’s testimony is among the documents posted today in the National Security Archive’s third "January 6 Sourcebook." Other highlights include:


    Colombia begs for help as Duque embarks on indescribable terror campaign

    by Adriaan Alsema May 4, 2021

    Colombia’s security forces subjected cities to indescribable terror as they attacked anti-government protesters and human rights defenders.

    The latest terror campaign followed the announcement of Defense Minister Diego Molano that protests in opposition of far-right President Ivan Duque posed a “terrorist threat” to Colombia.

    Molano claimed that “criminal organizations are behind the protesters’ acts of violence” and that “these are premeditated and organized actions that are financed by illegal armed groups and the ELN” guerrilla group.

    The defense minister presented no evidence to support his claim that justified the use of military force against anyone opposing the increasingly authoritarian Duque, who came to power in 2018 with the help of the mafia.


    Government Report Documents US Responsibility for Venezuela's Humanitarian Dilemma

    by Roger D. Harris / May 2nd, 2021

    Venezuela was once one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America. The popular classes enjoyed major advances from the Bolivarian Revolution initiated by Hugo Chávez. Today Venezuela is experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis with severe humanitarian consequences.

    The US government blames the crisis on the mismanagement and corruption of the Venezuelan government headed by Nicolás Maduro. The Venezuelan government faults the US and its allies for imposing sanctions, unilateral coercive measures illegal under international law.

    An official US Congressional Research Service report issued April 28, “Venezuela: Background and US Relations,” suggests the Venezuelan government has valid arguments that it is being strangulated by US sanctions. According to the report:

    It is difficult to attribute precisely the extent of Venezuela’s economic collapse that is due to US sanctions versus broad economic mismanagement. A February 2021 Government Accountability Office report asserted that “sanctions, particularly on the state oil company in 2019, likely contributed to the steeper decline of the Venezuelan economy.” The Maduro government has defaulted on all its bonds, and US sanctions prohibit debt restructuring with creditors.

    US regime-change activities

    The Congressional Research Service report provides a brief revision of history to fit an imperialist narrative to justify the " target="_blank">hybrid war the US government welcomed a “return to democracy,” is euphemistically referred to as President Chávez’s “brief ouster from power.” The subsequent employers’ lockout in 2002-2003, designed to economically cripple the government and cause its fall, is called an “oil workers’ strike.” The lethally violent [iguarimbas] calculated to overthrow the elected Maduro government are called “student-led” protests.

    While in all the above instances, the US role in events is rendered invisible, the report describes how “Congress has provided funding to support democratic civil society in Venezuela,” which is Washington’s duplicitous shorthand for regime change programs.


    Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia Tended 'Forest Gardens' Found near villages, research suggest

    Found near villages, research suggests the Indigenous population intentionally planted and maintained these patches of fruit and nut trees

    The Sts’ailes forest garden near Vancouver, British Columbia seen from the air. (Nick Waber)

    By Alex Fox
    APRIL 29, 2021 8:05AM

    Along the coast of British Columbia, Canada, former villages of the Ts’msyen and Coast Salish Indigenous peoples are flanked by what researchers have termed “forest gardens.” On lands covered in forests dominated by hemlock and cedar trees, these forest gardens represent abrupt departures from the surrounding ecosystem. The dark, closed canopy of the conifer forest opens up and is replaced by a sunny, orchard-like spread of food-producing trees and shrubs, such as crabapple, hazelnut, cranberry, wild plum and wild cherry.

    New research, published last week in the journal Ecology and Society, makes the case that these forest gardens were planted and maintained by Indigenous peoples until roughly 150 years ago when the original inhabitants of these settlements were displaced by colonialist expansion and the smallpox outbreaks the encroaching colonizers brought with them, reports Andrew Curry for Science.

    "These plants never grow together in the wild. It seemed obvious that people put them there to grow all in one spot—like a garden," says Chelsey Geralda Armstrong, an ethnobiologist at Simon Fraser University and lead author of the study, in a statement. "Elders and knowledge holders talk about perennial management all the time. It's no surprise these forest gardens continue to grow at archeological village sites that haven't yet been too severely disrupted by settler-colonial land-use."

    These Indigenous-managed food production sites in the Pacific Northwest are the first forest gardens to be described outside of Central and South America, according to Science.


    Saving the Bay of Pigs Prisoners: Did JFK Send a Secret Warning to Fidel Castro - through Brazil?

    President Kennedy receives the flag of the 2506 Brigade
    President Kennedy receives the flag of the 2506 Brigade during a ceremony at the Orange Bowl in Miami on December 29, 1962. (Credit: ST-19-3-62, Cecil Stoughton, the White House, JFK Library)

    Published: Apr 29, 2021
    Briefing Book #758
    Edited by James G. Hershberg, George Washington University

    President Kennedy receives the flag of the 2506 Brigade during a ceremony at the Orange Bowl in Miami on December 29, 1962. (Credit: ST-19-3-62, Cecil Stoughton, the White House, JFK Library)

    60 years after failed invasion of Cuba, new questions about unexplored backchannel dialogue with Castro over release of 2506 Brigade survivors

    Brazilian, U.S. declassified records point up Brazil’s role as U.S.-Cuba intermediary in early 1960s

    Washington, D.C., April 29, 2021 – John F. Kennedy may have secretly warned Fidel Castro against executing survivors of the Bay of Pigs invasion 60 years ago this month while also dangling a pledge of strict non-intervention if the Cuban leader spared their lives, according to new evidence posted today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive. Kennedy’s secret channel to Castro, the records suggest, was the president of Brazil, João Goulart.

    The declassified Brazilian and U.S. documents, along with a provocative journalistic report from the period, help to illuminate a residual mystery linked to that iconic event in Cold War and U.S.-Cuban history. The episode is a fresh case of "back channel" communications between Washington and Havana at a time when they lacked direct diplomatic relations, and a new instance of Brazil acting as a third-party mediator, or at least a communications conduit, in that relationship. Brazil’s role climaxed during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Compiled and edited by George Washington University historian James G. Hershberg based on his research on Brazil, Cuba, and the Cold War, today’s posting examines a tense moment in the Kennedy Administration's more than twenty-month struggle to gain the release of the nearly 1,200 CIA-trained, financed, and equipped anti-Castro Cuban exiles between their failed April 1961 invasion attempt and their release by Fidel Castro in December 1962.

    In late March and early April 1962, the captives went on trial in Havana for treason, and U.S. officials feared they might receive harsh punishments, or even be executed – triggering an untimely crisis, sharply intensified public pressure on the Cuban issue, and even a possible U.S. military intervention.

    . . .

    On April 17, 1961, about 1400 anti-Castro Cuban exiles, secretly armed, equipped, trained, financed, and organized by the Central Intelligence Agency, landed on Cuba's southwestern coast. The operation, approved a year earlier by Dwight D. Eisenhower and inherited (and then slightly scaled back) by Kennedy when he became president in January 1961, failed abysmally: Castro's armed forces pinned down the invaders at Girón Beach (Playa Girón), killed over a hundred, and captured the bulk of the survivors. (About 175 of Castro's soldiers, and hundreds more militia fighters, also died in the intense combat.)


    Storm causes structure over Aztec ruins to collapse in Mexico City

    April 29, 2021
    1:15 PM CDT
    2 minute read

    A roof that partly protected one of Mexico's most important ancient sites collapsed under the weight of a major rain and hail storm late on Wednesday, causing minor damage to the ornate temple complex that once hosted the Aztec empire's elite warriors.

    President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pledged on Thursday to repair any damages to the House of Eagles, which was covered by a large metal roof of modern construction that was toppled by the storm. The structure is adjacent to the ruins of the Aztecs' holiest shrine, known as the Templo Mayor.

    Mexico's culture ministry described damage to the ruins as "minor, recoverable and restorable" in a statement on Thursday, adding that removal of the collapsed roof will begin immediately.

    The House of Eagles features elaborately-carved relief sculptures along its walls and benches, depicting warriors in procession and blood-letting rituals. Remnants of its painted murals have remained visible five centuries after the 1521 Spanish conquest of the Aztec capital and subsequent razing of the city.


    ~ ~ ~

    Google translation:

    Above : Four Petals Flowers and a Sidewalk with Reliefs of Warriors. Main temple. Below : Detail of a bench with reliefs of warriors. Main temple. Photos: Oliver Santana / Raíces; Jorge Pérez de Lara / Roots

    The building was built towards stage V of the Templo Mayor (1480 AD) and a new construction stage was placed on it, from which we see the basement and two stairs that allowed us to reach its interior. The previous stage could be excavated and consists of an L-shaped vestibule with remains of pillars. One of the two entrances shows polychrome benches with representations of warriors in procession. On the sidewalks and on either side of the door were the two formidable clay figures of almost life-size eagle warriors. The access leads to a long room that also has the aforementioned sidewalks. A narrow corridor leads us to another patio, where we see the four pillars that supported the roof and a small interior patio. At the north and south ends there are two rooms. The decoration found on the external wall of the north room is striking, consisting of a flower with four petals carved in stone. Already inside this room we can see the warriors' benches that end in a projecting altar that shows azacatapayoli or ball of hay, where the thorns were embedded for self-sacrifice. Colors such as red, yellow, white, etc. have been preserved. Two ceramic braziers were found in front of the altar, as in other parts of the rooms. The room on the south side was affected by the construction of a colonial oven that was built on the site.

    The entrance hall that we referred to earlier has another door to the north, which also leads to other rooms. On the bench and flanking the entrance were two figures, also made of clay, of the god Mictlantecuhtli, lord of the underworld. They represent the half-disembodied god with raised arms. The head has small holes, probably to place natural hair in them, as this god is seen in some codices. Between the ribs a piece painted pink was found that represents the liver, an organ that is related to the world of the dead. The figures are truly impressive and can be seen, like the eagle warriors, in the site museum.

    Studies on the House of the Eagles seem to indicate that it is a set destined for certain ceremonies, since inside it they have been detected, by means of archeometric techniques and others, accumulation in certain areas of remains of blood components, as in the large clay sculptures, and the presence of products containing vegetable and animal fats, as well as carbohydrates from a substance rich in sugars and starches, possibly pulque.

    Apparently, the tlatoani or ruler carried out a ritual in which he went out through the door that faces the west - where the eagle warriors were found - to follow the path of the Sun towards the west. The hall would lead you to the door that faces north, where the figures of Mictlantecuhtli are, to the place of the dead or Mictlan. It must be remembered that the north was considered the path of the dead, the mictlampa . Thus, the route was made from the birth of the Sun to its sunset.


    ~ ~ ~

    Click for image:



    The House of Eagles is protected from the elements by a large metal awning. In the foreground you can see the various levels of the North Patio that were built up over the centuries as Lake Texcoco periodically flooded the ancient island city. Also known as the Palace of Eagle Warriors, the House of Eagles was destroyed during the Spanish assault on Tenochtitlán, which may also have caused the damage you can see on the eagle in the previous photo. The Eagle House was one of the most important structures in the Sacred Precinct of the city. This was where the Mexica elite, which included the Eagle Warriors, conducted ceremonies, meditated, prayed, and rendered offerings. It was a large complex, spread out over a broad platform with columns, meeting rooms, and patios. The initial House of Eagles was built in 1430 AD and then was enlarged in 1470 by the Emperor Axayócatl. The third and final structure was finished in 1500. After the Spanish conquered Tenochtitlán in 1521, they built the Church of Santiago Apóstol on top of the ruins of the Eagle House. Since this had been one of the key centers of power in the Mexica Empire, the Spanish wanted to obliterate any memory it. They were successful until the 1980s when it was rediscovered during the excavation of the Templo Mayor area. (Photo taken at the Templo Mayor archaeological site)

    Click for image:



    Eagle heads bracket the broad staircase leading up to the main platform. The L-shaped platform was discovered in 1981. Inside the platform is an older substructure built in 1469 AD. Only part of the House of Eagles has been fully excavated because the rest lies under an adjacent street. Tunnels have been built into that section, revealing rooms with wall murals and long benches with carved friezes of warriors. (Photo taken at the Templo Mayor archaeological site)

    . . .

    Click for image:



    More images, and descriptions of places in the "House of Eagles."

    Colombia Reports shuts down for 24 hours to protest attacks on press

    by Adriaan Alsema April 28, 2021

    Colombia Reports shuts down for 24 hours on Wednesday to protest the ongoing attacks on the press that are making independent journalism virtually impossible.

    Reporting will resume on Thursday and will continue until I decide to throw in the towel.

    I have spent half my life in journalism and have dedicated one third of my life to reporting on Colombia.

    I love this country infinitely more than my native country, the Netherlands, which has always been more than mutual.

    The people that I have met, the local cultures and the astonishing nature have generously rewarded me for everything I have invested in this country.

    It’s this love for Colombia that has given me a drive to work harder than I ever have, endure hardships I didn’t even know existed and resist fear I have never felt before.

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