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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 147,100

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25 Organizations Call for an End to U.S. Support for Aerial Herbicide Fumigation in Colombia


Colombia’s government is moving closer to reinstating a program, suspended in 2015, that would spray herbicides from aircraft over territories where coca is cultivated. Twenty-five U.S. and Colombian organizations have joined on this letter to President Joe Biden urging him to avoid supporting a renewed “fumigation” program, succinctly laying out the reasons why this would be an unfortunate policy mistake. The letter was shared with the White House on March 26.

March 26, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear President Biden,

We write out of strong concern about the imminent restart of a program that your administration is inheriting from its predecessor: an effort to eradicate coca in Colombia by spraying herbicides from aircraft. We encourage you not to provide funding for this program, which not only failed to achieve past objectives, but sends a message of cruelty and callousness with which the United States should no longer be associated. It will undermine the peace accords that are a powerful legacy of the Obama-Biden administration.

Aerial fumigation can bring short-term reductions in the number of acres planted with coca. But past experience shows not only that these gains reverse quickly, but that the strategy undermines other U.S. and Colombian security objectives. Recurring to fumigation is like going back in time, ignoring much that we have learned about what does and does not work.

Many of our organizations have published studies documenting the harm that fumigation has done in the past. The December 2020 report of the U.S. government’s bipartisan Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission found that forced eradication brought “enormous costs and dismal results.” Just since the end of February, we have seen strong critiques of forced eradication and fumigation from the International Crisis Group; the Ideas for Peace Foundation, a Colombian business sector think tank; a list of over 200 scholars, and seven UN human rights rapporteurs.

Between 1994 and 2015, a U.S.-backed program supported a fleet of aircraft, and teams of contract pilots and maintenance personnel, that sprayed the herbicide glyphosate over 4.42 million acres of Colombian territory—a land area 3 1/2 times the size of Delaware. In 2015 the Colombian government suspended the spray program, citing public health concerns based on a World Health Organization study finding glyphosate to be “probably carcinogenic to humans.”


Some Standard Cynical CIA-Style Cuba Covid Reporting at The Washington Post

APRIL 2, 2021

Never underestimate the cynicism of American corporate media. As the Scotland-based historian Helen Yaffe recently observed on Counterpunch, the socialist state of Cuba currently has five COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials “and is set to be among the first nations to vaccinate its entire population.” Further: “Cuba has gone on the offensive against Covid-19, mobilizing the prevention-focused, community based public healthcare system to carry out daily house visits to actively detect and treat cases and channeling the medical science sector to adapt and produce new treatments for patients and Covid-19 specific vaccines. These advances bring hope not just for Cuba, but for the world.”

Cuba has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates and one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates in the Western world. The relatively small island nation is the only Latin American country to have developed its own vaccine. We can expect Cuba to export its vaccine, as it has long exported its surplus medical workers, to other nations within and beyond Latin America. By the end of the year, the island nation of 11 million should be able to produce 100 million doses.

The Cuban accomplishment, achieved despite the United States’ draconian blockade, is remarkable. As Jaffe notes, it’s all about the socialism, the creation of a society outside and against the rule of imperialist capitalism. “Cuba,” Yaffe writes: “has become a world-leader in biotechnology because it has a socialist state with a centrally planned economy, that has invested in science and technology and puts human welfare before …capitalism and greed…. it is the absence of the capitalist profit motive which underlies the outstanding domestic and international response to Covid-19 by socialist Cuba…”

Indeed. Socialist Cuba, founded in part by a Marxist physician (Che Guevera) who said that love for one’s fellow human beings was at the heart of being a revolutionary, puts humanity first, without concern for private accumulation and return. Imagine.

But journalists Anthony Faiola and Ana Vanessa Herrero, reporters at the longtime CIA-affiliated Washington Post, know better. All they can see in socialist Cuba’s humanistic COVID-19 achievements are an attempted “public relations coup for an isolated country that was added back to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in the final days of the Trump administration.”


Astronomers declare no further research required

1 April 2021/

Astronomers around the globe reveal that we’ve learned everything we need to know about the universe.

Credit: Bryan Allen / Getty Images.

Scientists across the world have declared that no further research is required in the field of astronomy, saying that everything about space is now sufficiently understood.

The decision, announced today at the virtual Global Consortium of Astronomy, Astrology and Astrophysics conference, was met with applause but not surprise from the astronomical community.

“The Pluto thing distracted us for a while, but really we’ve been on a trajectory to finishing our research since the early 2000s,” says Professor April Furst, an astrophysicist at the Facility Of Observational Lens’ and Spectrometry in Space (FOOLSs), University of Eastern Australia.

“We think we’ve figured it out at this point. There might be a few more black holes we can discover, but everything else is pretty much mapped. Humanity can now look to the stars, and not wonder about anything.”

The decision comes along with a proposal to convert the world’s biggest telescopes – including the Square Kilometre Array – into theme parks.


Honduras drugs: President's brother gets life in prison

Published 16 hours ago

Tony Hernández was arrested at Miami airport in November 2018

A court in the United States has sentenced the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández to life in prison for drug trafficking.

Former Congressman Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernández was found guilty in October 2019 of smuggling tonnes of cocaine into the US.

Prosecutors said he had bribed law enforcement officials and was also complicit in at least two murders.

President Juan Orlando Hernández called his brother's sentence "outrageous".

Lawyers for Tony Hernández said they would appeal against the sentence.

Who is Tony Hernández?
The 42-year-old served as a member of Congress for the National Party from 2014 to 2018.

He was arrested in November 2018 in Miami on charges that he had used his connections with the government to smuggle cocaine through Honduras to the US.


Skull of dinosaur called 'one who causes fear' found in Patagonia

Published17 hours ago

An artist's impression of Llukalkan aliocranianus

Scientists in southern Argentina have found the skull of a large meat-eating dinosaur named "one who causes fear" in the local Mapuche language.

The horned Llukalkan aliocranianus was around 5 metres (16 feet) long and roamed South America 85 million years ago.

Researchers found remains nearby of another carnivorous dinosaur, something they said was highly unusual.

The findings from Patagonia were published on Tuesday.

Like the Tyrannosaurus rex, the Llukalkan dinosaur was two-legged with very short arms, but was medium-sized compared to the giant T. rex.

It also had short horns and tiny fingers. It was estimated to weigh between one and five tonnes, slightly lighter than an adult African elephant.


Also posted in Science:

El Salvador president says missing teen found, daughter of woman killed by police

MAR 31 2021

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said on Wednesday that a missing teenager has been found, identifying her as the daughter of Victoria Salazar, who died in Mexico after a Mexican female police officer was seen in a video kneeling on her back.

The attorney general’s office of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, where Salazar died, said on Tuesday night that an amber alert had been issued for her daughter, 16-year-old Francela Yaritza Salazar Arriaza. Francela was last seen in the Caribbean tourist resort of Tulum, where her mother was killed.

“The oldest daughter of Victoria has been found. She is now in the custody of FGE,” Bukele tweeted, referring to the state attorney general’s office. “She is physically well.”

. . .

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador this week said Salazar, 36, had been subject to “brutal treatment and murdered” after her detention on Saturday by four police officers. An autopsy showed Salazar’s neck had been broken.


Salvadoran Refugee Victoria Salazar Dead After Police Brutality During Arrest
by Virginia Isaad March 30, 2021

On the same day that opening arguments in the George Floyd trial began, social media was ablaze with calls for justice after another death at the alleged hands of the police. Salvadoran woman Victoria Esperanza Salazar Arriaza was arrested on March 27 in Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico after a local shop owner called the authorities due to concerns over her behavior. A policewoman and three male police officers were on the scene and according to El Salvador.com, they used excessive force to detain her on the ground. Video footage shows 36-year-old Victoria crying in pain as they held her down despite her pleas. She reportedly lost consciousness and in the video footage, her limp and handcuffed body can be seen carried onto the back of a police pickup truck. She died in the aftermath. (WARNING: Video contains distressing footage)

Quintana Roo State Prosecutor Oscar Montes de Oca told Mexican outlet Milenio that the police officers used “disproportionate” use of force.” She died of “a fracture of part of the upper spinal column produced by the rupture of the first and second vertebra which caused the loss of the victim,” he said.

ElSalvador.com reported that the police officers are in custody and will go before a judge in the case of femicide which has a prison sentence of up to 50 years. According to local media, the mother of two daughters, age 15 and 16, moved to Mexico as a refugee in 2018 on a humanitarian visa. She left her hometown of Sonsonate in El Salvador to escape the gang violence and had been working in Tulum, a popular resort town, as a housekeeper in a local hotel. El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele urged that the “full force of the law” be applied in Mexico and said that El Salvador will care for her daughters once they are repatriated.


~ ~ ~

Mexico police under fire after woman's death in custody
Published1 day ago

Women called for "justice for Victoria" during protests in both Mexico and El Salvador
Outrage has been growing over the death in police custody of a Salvadorean woman in the Mexican resort of Tulum on Saturday as more details of the incident emerged.

A post-mortem examination suggests Victoria Esperanza Salazar's neck was broken after a female officer pinned her to the ground.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said she had been "murdered".

The incident comes amid growing protests against femicides in Mexico.

Who was Victoria Salazar?
The 36-year-old from El Salvador had been in Mexico since at least 2018, when she was granted refugee status for humanitarian reasons.

Her mother says she left her hometown of Sonsonate five years ago to escape the violence which El Salvador's notorious street gangs were spreading.


White supremacy in Colombia Part 3: 'the negroes multiply by themselves'

by Adriaan Alsema March 30, 2021

Colombia’s ethnic discrimination reached the point that 31% of people who identified themselves as African descendants in 2005 no longer wish to identify themselves as such.

According to statistics agency DANE, some 2.9 million of Colombia’s population identified themselves as black in the 2018 census compared to 4.3 million during the previous one in 2005.

Colombia’s ethnic minorities have disproportionally been the victim of armed conflict and ethnic violence for more than 500 years, but the recent changes do not account for the more the 31% reduction in those who identify as themselves as Afrocolombian.

. . .

Centuries of slavery, persistent ethnic violence, and relentless discrimination appear to be the final straw for a significant portion of black youth.


The role of fascism in Colombia Part 1: the coffee corporatists

by Adriaan Alsema March 29, 2021

No coffee farmer in Colombia is allowed to export coffee without paying the mighty coffee federation, historically one of the main promoters of fascist economics.

Coffee federation Fedecafe was founded in 1927, inspired by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s “corporatism” model, which rejected free market capitalism and the central planning of the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin.

The holy trinity

“Corporatism” was originally invented by the Catholic Church in the late 19th Century to counter capitalism with a neo-feudal economic model that sought to maintain a medieval class system.

Mussolini adopted the idea to create corporations that controlled the different sectors of the economy in coordination with the State and the Catholic Church.

. . .

Exporting Colombia’s corporatism

Under the leadership of Medellin oligarch Arturo Gomez, the coffee federation created the brand “Juan Valdez” in 1960 to promote its coffee in the United States.

Colombia’s coffee growers were starving, but Fedecafe controlled the entire supply chain and was able to publish a number of fancy ads in the New York Times.


Cuba Libre to be COVID-Libre: Five Vaccines and Counting...

MARCH 30, 2021

On 23 March 2021, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a group of Conservative Party backbenchers: ‘The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends.’ Johnson was articulating the dogma that the pursuit of private profit through capitalist free markets leads to efficient outcomes. In reality, however, Britain’s accomplishments in developing the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and in the national vaccination rollout have more to do with state investments than the market mechanism. Government money subsidised the vaccine development at the University of Oxford, and it is the state-funded National Health Service that has carried out the vaccination programme. Johnson did not admit that it is due to capitalism and greed that Britain now has the fifth worst Covid-19 mortality rate in the world with over 126,500 deaths (almost 1,857 per million people in the population) and counting.

The British government, like most neoliberal regimes, refused to take the measures necessary to slow and halt community transmission, it failed early on to provide health care and social care workers with adequate PPE and other resources which could have saved the lives of hundreds of frontline staff who died as a result. It contracted private businesses to carry out essential activities, most with little or no relevant experience, for example, instead of equipping the community-based GP system of the National Health Service to take charge of ‘track and trace’, the government dished out £37 billion to Serco to manage part of the system. In public health terms it has been disastrous; but measured by Boris Johnson’s celebrated standards of capitalism and greed it is has indeed excelled. The greatest beneficiaries of Britain’s response to the pandemic have been the private corporations making huge profits. Around 2,500 Accenture, Deloitte and McKinsey consultants are on an average daily rate of £1,000, with some paid £6,624 a day.

Johnson has now laid out a road map for reopening the economy. As a result, even the most optimistic scenario predicts a third wave between September 2021 and January 2022 resulting in at least 30,000 additional deaths in Britain. These deaths are preventable. But it precisely because the British government is driven by the capitalism and greed that it insists that we have to learn to ‘live with the virus’ so that the business of business can continue.

Contrary to Johnson’s claims, this pandemic has affirmed that public healthcare needs cannot be adequately met under a profit-based system. Indeed, it is the absence of the capitalist profit motive which underlies the outstanding domestic and international response to Covid-19 by socialist Cuba, which now has five vaccines in clinical trials and is set to be among the first nations to vaccinate its entire population.


Stop the Genocide! Garfuna Land Defenders Fight Against State-Sanctioned Violence in Honduras

Post on: March 28, 2021 Marisela Trevin

More than eight months after the kidnapping of four young land defenders from the Garífuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz, in northern Honduras, their whereabouts are still unknown. In a recent statement, the local organization OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras) issued a denunciation saying that the State of Honduras is committing genocide against the Garífuna people, with the aim of achieving their definitive displacement. We discussed this situation with César Benedith, member of OFRANEH, community leader and former president of the Triunfo de la Cruz Community Board.

Image from a protest demanding the safe return of the five disappeared Garífuna community members. "Alive they were taken, alive they return." Photo: OFRANEH

More than eight months after the kidnapping of four young land defenders from the Garífuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz, in northern Honduras, their whereabouts are still unknown. Given the state’s inaction and involvement in concealing the facts of the case, the community decided last February to set up a committee to search for the kidnapped community leaders.

The cases of persecution, torture, and murder in this area have increased dramatically in recent years, in the context of the Garífuna communities’ struggle to defend their lands against the government of Honduras and private companies seeking their displacement to build tourist resorts and exploit their natural resources. In the last month alone, four Garífunas were killed in the communities of Masca and Corozal, including Martín Pandy, the president of the Community Board (patronato) of Corozal.. Two activists were also arrested in Trujillo for defending their land. In a recent statement, the local organization OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras) issued a denunciation saying that the State of Honduras is committing genocide against the Garífuna people, with the aim of achieving their definitive displacement. We discussed this situation with César Benedith, member of OFRANEH, community leader and former president of the Triunfo de la Cruz Community Board.

Can you tell us about the context in which the recent killings and detentions took place in the Garífuna communities?

As Garífuna leaders, we feel that our people are being systematically dispossessed by the government, in conjunction with the businessmen of this country. We are being threatened and criminalized, and the Garífuna leaders of different communities are being killed for the economic interests of these politicians and some businessmen from our region. Since they have control over the justice — or injustice — system in our country, when they can’t kill us, they criminalize us. It’s scary, because many communities are losing their leaders, who have been at the forefront of our struggle to protect our lands.

What are the interests behind this systematic violence against the Garífuna people?

The State wants to take control of the natural resources that belong to the indigenous people of this country. They see our land as a resource that they need to access to keep making money, regardless of whether they have to displace the communities that are living on the seashore. And when we go out and defend our territory, we are criminalized and often killed. A Minister of Tourism of Honduras has even said that his dream is to turn Honduras into another Cancun. So we feel that the State of Honduras views us as an obstacle for that.

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