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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 97,178

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These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages

October 9, 2015
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages

by Margaret Knapke

“Abortion” in English is aborto provocado in Spanish. “Miscarriage” is aborto espontáneo. Simple enough.

Yet in El Salvador, a largely Catholic Central American country of around 6 million, this distinction has been blurred. For many expectant mothers, pregnancy losses — unexpected, frightening, and tragic — have been declared intentional and criminal. Some of these mothers are doing hard time.

Why is this happening?

The country’s 1998 penal code — which was enacted under a right-wing president but remains in force under the country’s current center-left government — prohibits abortion in all circumstances. That includes even when the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy, the fetus is severely abnormal or nonviable, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The following year, the country’s constitution was amended to give the embryonic human a right to life from the moment of conception, reinforcing the total ban.

Now a woman convicted of having an abortion can be sentenced to 2-8 years in prison, while medical professionals assisting her can serve 6-12 years. Complicating matters, penalties for women increase dramatically when they’re charged with aggravated homicide of a family member, which can happen when the lost fetus is considered to have been viable. Mothers can be sentenced up to 50 years in prison on these charges.

This August, I was part of a U.S. delegation led by Roy Bourgeois from the School of Americas Watch and organized by the Center for Exchange and Solidarity, or CIS. We went to San Salvador to learn more about this no-exception anti-abortion law and the punitive atmosphere it has fostered.


Rich Guy’s Inequality Fix: Raises for Workers. Just Kidding! It’s ‘Give Free Stuff to Rich Guys’

Tuesday, Oct 6, 2015, 1:32 pm

Rich Guy’s Inequality Fix: Raises for Workers. Just Kidding! It’s ‘Give Free Stuff to Rich Guys’

BY Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers President

Republicans and the rich guys who imposed on American workers 35 years of stagnant wages now offer a prescription for easing this pain.

Their solution for robber-baron-level income inequality is not the obvious: Give workers raises. They don’t want to increase the minimum wage, which would eventually push up pay for everyone else as well. They don’t intend to provide paid sick leave or decent pensions or fewer unstable contract jobs. They have no intention of strengthening unions so workers can collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions.

Instead of any of those straightforward measures, rich guys and corporate-owned Republicans assert that the solution is more free stuff for corporations! The government, they say, should provide that free stuff. The government, the very organization they deride and despise and denounce as incompetent and deserving of nothing but cutting and shrinking and destroying! Yes, they actually contend that very same government should take the taxes paid by workers and give that money to corporations to improve worker wages and working conditions!

This rich guy, Peter Georgescu, chairman emeritus of the PR firm Young & Rubicam, said in a New York Times op-ed in August that he feared the current grotesque level of income inequality would provoke major social unrest or oppressive tax levies on the rich – unless the rich did something about it right away. To avert restoration of the higher income tax levels that the rich paid from 1935 to 1985, Georgescu recommended that the federal government give money to businesses to raise the wages of workers earning less than $80,000 a year.


Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala, Part 1

October 6, 2015 | Edward Curtin

Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala, Part 1

A Trail of Bodies Leads Back to the USA

A friend of mine told me the following curious story. In the early 1990s, while taking a course at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, he sat next to an ordinary-looking older man, a soft-spoken, pudgy fellow, who said he was from Guatemala. After a few weeks into the term, he came to class one day and found the man sitting alone, far from the other students, who seemed to be avoiding him.

Another student explained to my friend who the man was: Hector Gramajo, a former Guatemalan general and defense minister who was there on a Mason fellowship, studying for a degree in public administration. While he was Army Vice-Chief of Staff and Director of the Army General Staff, the Guatemalan army massacred more than 75,000 Mayans in what a United Nations Truth Commission later (1999) called genocide.

On graduation day, while in his academic gown, Gramajo was handed court papers informing him that he was being sued in the US by eight Guatemalans who together with family members had been abused by soldiers under his command. Later, the lawsuit was joined by one from Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American nun, who had been raped and tortured by Gramajo’s men.

He didn’t contest the lawsuit; he just ignored it, and left the US for Guatemala to run for – what else! – the presidency. Before he left, however, he gave a public lecture at Harvard and, blessed by that august institution, and with his prestigious degree in hand, went to his other alma mater, the School of the Americas (SOA), which some refer to as the “School of Assassins,” at Ft. Benning, where he gave the commencement address. (More on this “educational” organization below.)


~ ~ ~

October 7, 2015 | Edward Curtin

Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala, Part 2

A Trail of Bodies Leads Back to the USA

United Fruit Company Building. Photo credit: Michael Bentley / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Guatemala’s current situation and tragic history can be traced back to the CIA-led coup in 1954 that ousted the democratically elected government of President Jacobo Arbenz and installed the military dictator Carlos Armas. Arbenz was an advocate for land reform and was loved by the poor. The wealthy hated him. And when the CIA couldn’t bribe him, they ousted him in a most humiliating way. Even after he went into exile, the agency used constant disinformation to smear him in every way imaginable until
his strange death in a bathtub in 1971.

“President Arbenz delivers on his
promise — Farmers: here is your
land. Defend it, care for it, cultivate
it.” (1954)

One of a series of photos by Cornell
Capa, documenting the sweet,short-
lived dream of life under a
democracy. Photo credit: Cornell Capa

Since the 1954 coup, and with the ongoing support of the CIA and the School of the Americas (SOA), the Guatemalan people have lived a nightmare. What follows should give you a sense of the CIA’s thinking behind the coup and its aftermath. It is a transcription of a CIA document released to The National Security Archive, a research institute, on May 23, 1997 under a Freedom of Information Act request.

“A hammer, axe, wrench, screwdriver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice.” For an assassin using “edge weapons,” the manual notes in cold clinical terms, “puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached.”

“A Study of Assassination,” unsigned, undated:

Among the documents found in the training files of Operation PBSUCCESS and declassified by the Agency is a “Study of Assassination.” A how-to guide book in the art of political killing, the 19-page manual offers detailed descriptions of the procedures, instruments, and implementation of assassination. “The simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination,” counsels the study. “A hammer, axe, wrench, screwdriver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice.” For an assassin using “edge weapons,” the manual notes in cold clinical terms, “puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached…. Absolute reliability is obtained by severing the spinal cord in the cervical region.” The manual also notes that to provide plausible denial, “no assassination instructions should ever be written or recorded.” Murder, the drafters state, “is not morally justifiable,” and “persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.”

No, this dirty work is not for the “morally squeamish.”

If one is searching for the truth about the coup, the document above is accurate and revealing. However, if one searched the web and discovered a posting at globalsecurty.org (see sidebar at the end of the article) one would be misled. That posting is nothing more than a summary of a Congressional Research Service report. It never mentions Guatemala, although it includes other Latin American countries — Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and Peru. A gullible reader might come away with the impression that the School of the Americas had nothing to do with Guatemala, when, in fact, it had a great deal to do with it. Why leave out this country in particular?


In Peru water is a high price for Lima's poor

In Peru water is a high price for Lima's poor

By John Mervin
New York business editor, BBC News

1 hour ago

The IMF and World Bank are holding their annual meetings in Lima, Peru, and one of the issues delegates are considering is the problem of income inequality.

One of the cruellest insults of inequality in the capital Lima, for the poor, is how cheaply the rich often seem to live.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on a walk through the neighbourhood of Nueva Rinconada. It's a slum that spreads across one of the hills above the city.

Here, Lydia Sevillano and her neighbours pay a high price just to stay alive.

. . .

Oxfam estimates that a poor person in Lima pays ten times more for their water than someone living in an affluent residential area.


Alabama Puts Up More Hurdles for Voters

Alabama Puts Up More Hurdles for Voters

OCT. 8, 2015

Barely one year after Alabama’s voter-ID law went into effect, officials are planning to close 31 driver’s license offices across the state, including those in every county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters.

It’s ostensibly a cost-cutting effort, but coupled with the voter-ID law, these closings will make it even more difficult for many of the state’s most vulnerable voters to get one of the most common forms of identification now required to cast a vote.

Like voter-ID laws elsewhere, Alabama’s version requires voters to bring a government-issued photo ID to the polls. The rationale is that these laws are necessary to stop voter fraud. The problem is that in-person fraud — the only kind that voter-ID laws could conceivably prevent — almost never happens. Still, these laws have proliferated around the country, nearly always enacted by Republican-controlled legislatures at the expense of minorities, the poor and other groups who tend to vote Democratic.

Alabama has a long and ugly history of racial discrimination in voting. From 1965 on, at least 100 voting changes were blocked or altered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required Alabama and other states and jurisdictions with histories of discrimination to get federal approval before changing their voting practices. But in a 2013 case brought by Shelby County, Ala., the Supreme Court said that the section could not be applied to those states and jurisdictions because the data about discrimination was outdated. On the same day as that ruling, Alabama announced it would enforce its voter-ID law, which had passed in 2011 but was never submitted for approval.


Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster

October 5, 2015
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster

by Robert M. Nelson

Republican presidential aspirants Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum all describe themselves as devout Catholics and, like most Republican candidates, they argue that religion should play an expanded role in American politics and government. However, on matters related to global warming, Messrs. Bush and Rubio both agree with Mr. Santorum, stating that we should, “…leave science to the scientists.”

Fortunately for these Republican candidates, Jorge Bergoglio, a chemist from Argentina, has stepped forward to address the concerns of those who think that global warming issues should be only confined to scientists. Recently, Bergoglio, analyzed the available data and produced a most remarkable treatise titled Care for Our Common Home. His book is well worth reading.

Bergoglio has an interesting past. In 1929 his family fled fascism in Mussolini’s Italy and migrated to Argentina, where he was born in 1936. He is well credentialed. He attended Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles, a school of the Salesians of Don Bosco, in Ramos Mejía, Buenos Aires, and entered the technical school Escuela Técnica Industrial #27. After graduation he began work as a chemist at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory in Buenos Aries (to finance his education, he also worked as a bouncer in an Argentine bar).

Thanks to a most magnificent, almost lyrical writing style Bergoglio’s book should be be easily understandable by the general public — and even by politicians. His words are firm. He resolutely reflects on the general state of our environment, and particularly on the contribution of modern society to environmental degradation. He writes:

Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths.” He continues, saying that society creates a “… pollution that effects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general.


GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science

October 5, 2015
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science

by Kristine Mattis

In August of 2014, the website Gawker revealed documents that demonstrated the lengths to which the global chemical giant Monsanto would go in order to control the narrative about their products – in particular, their genetically modified crops. At a minimum, Monsanto enlisted Condé Nast publications, and appealed to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in need of donations, to help produce a celebrity-driven video series in support of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While we all like to believe that our scientific/rational brains see through the transparent marketing, public relations rhetoric exists because it greatly sedates critical thought.

Although the proposed campaign by Monsanto never materialized, a quick perusing of GMO articles over the past year elicits suspicion that Monsanto’s and Condé Nast’s relationship did not end. In addition, Monsanto almost certainly had its hand in a number of other propaganda ventures. Since last year, the pro-GMO rhetoric has increased tremendously in news media articles on genetically modified organisms. Recent disclosed documents have also exposed numerous scientific experts enlisted in Monsanto’s messaging. But what is most pernicious is that a whole new rhetorical talking point has come to the forefront, which threatens anyone – particularly scientists – who speak out against their “tent pole” technology: If you are anti-GMOs you are anti-science.

The new talking point represents a brilliant strategy to promote genetic engineering. Most people do not want to be characterized as anti-science, not journalists, not public officials, not celebrities, and least of all, not trained and educated scientists. Furthermore, the propaganda plays to pro-science liberals who have accused conservatives of being anti-science due to their denial of climate change.

Unlike anthropogenic climate change, though, there is absolutely no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs. In fact, each and every new GMO needs to be fully tested individually for its safety, because each genetic modification confers a not only a novel gene into the genome, but also a possible genetic interaction within the genome. The notion that one gene always only controls one trait is known to be far too simplistic. Often, many genes function in concert to produce traits, and sections of DNA can also turn traits on or off. Therefore, inserting novel genes into DNA sequences may affect untargeted traits in unpredictable ways.


Contemporary Dance of Cuba to Present Carmina Burana in Mexico

Contemporary Dance of Cuba to Present Carmina Burana in Mexico

Havana, Oct 6 (Prensa Latina) Danza Contemporanea de Cuba (DCC) will present in Mexico a version of Carmina Burana, winner there in 2009 of the Luna Award for the Performing Arts.
The work will be seen on October 8 and 9 in the National Auditorium, main space for shows in the country, with capacity for 12,000 spectators.

This piece involves putting a backdrop of LED screens and a smaller circle one in the center, where they project a video of various contents, from the origin of the universe and some of the current events in any street to the possible destruction of everything we know.

The relation between the physical and spiritual seems inescapable in a piece that aims to tear the soul of anyone, and the dancers assume that with strength and conviction.

Carmina Burana is an ode to the life of man in this world, told Prensa Latina its choreographer George Céspedes.

For me, the intellectual world is the attraction when dealing with creation, because everything starts from images, from them I got the tool I need, spiritual or physical, but there is usually an intellect that is connected with the emotional and leads us to the physical. The final instrument is the body, the young Cuban choreographer said.

To complete the cast, the production includes 68 musicians, a choir of 100 voices, 35 children and three singers (a baritone, a soprano and countertenor), as pointed by DCC director, Miguel Iglesias. This year, the great dancer from the United States Rasta Thomas, someone whose affability allows him to integrate as another member of the company, returns as guest of the group.


Danza Contemporanea de Cuba

Meeting with Beyoncé and Jay-Z

U.S. guest dancer, Rasta Thomas.

Danza Contemporánea de Cuba

Danza Contemporánea de Cuba

Bankruptcy Lawyers Strip Cash From Coal Miners' Health Insurance

Bankruptcy Lawyers Strip Cash From Coal Miners' Health Insurance
Sunday, 04 October 2015 00:00
By Alec MacGillis, ProPublica | Report

This story was co-published with The Daily Beast.

There was plenty in the complex deal to benefit bankers, lawyers, executives and hedge fund managers. Patriot Coal Corp. was bankrupt, but its mines would be auctioned to pay off mounting debts while financial engineering would generate enough cash to cover the cost of the proceedings.

When the plan was filed in U.S. bankruptcy court in Richmond last week, however, one group didn't come out so well: 208 retired miners, wives and widows in southern Indiana who have no direct connection to Patriot Coal. Millions of dollars earmarked for their health care as they age would effectively be diverted instead to legal fees and other bills from the bankruptcy.

As coal companies go bankrupt or shut down throughout Appalachia and parts of the Midwest, the immediate fallout includes lost jobs and devastated communities. But the Indiana case stands out as an example of how financial deals hatched far from coal country can also endanger the future safety net.

At issue is health insurance promised to people who worked for the Squaw Creek Coal Company in Warrick County, Indiana, near Evansville, who, like other retired union miners, counted on coverage after they turned 55.


Mexico: No country for journalists

Mexico: No country for journalists

We explore Mexico's 'red lines' and look at why the Latin American country is one of the deadliest for reporters.

04 Oct 2015 14:32 GMT | Media, Latin America, Mexico, Journalism

One of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, the carefully staged murders of reporters in Mexico has became all too common.

By some counts Ruben Espinosa became the 11th journalist to be killed this year when he was tortured and shot dead along with four women on August 1.

Investigators called it a robbery gone awry but friends, colleagues and press freedom campaigners say that Espinosa's enemies in the state of Veracruz where he did most of his work followed him home.

Fearing for his life, Espinosa had fled Veracruz after his work, which focused on student protests, the environment and social movements - led to him receiving threats from local government officials.

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