Judi Lynn's Journal
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 104,577
Number of posts: 104,577
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The Brazilian Coup and Washington's "Rollback" in Latin America
Sunday, 29 May 2016 00:00
By Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research
It is clear that the executive branch of the U.S. government favors the coup underway in Brazil, even though they have been careful to avoid any explicit endorsement of it. Exhibit A was the meeting between Tom Shannon, the 3rd ranking U.S. State Department official and the one who is almost certainly in charge of handling this situation, with Senator Aloysio Nunes, one of the leaders of the impeachment in the Brazilian Senate, on April 20. By holding this meeting just three days after the Brazilian lower house voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Shannon was sending a signal to governments and diplomats throughout the region and the world that Washington is more than ok with the impeachment. Nunes returned the favor this week by leading an effort (he is chair of the Brazilian Senate Foreign Relations Committee) to suspend Venezuela from Mercosur, the South American trade bloc.
There is a lot at stake here for the major U.S. foreign policy institutions, which include the 17 intelligence agencies, State Department, Pentagon, White House National Security Council, and foreign policy committees of the Senate and House. An enormous geopolitical shift took place over the past 15 years, in which the Latin American left went from governing zero countries to a majority of the region. For various historical reasons, the left in Latin America tends to favor national independence and international solidarity, and is therefore less willing to go along with U.S. foreign policy. I remember the first time I saw Lula Da Silva. It was in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2002. He was speaking to a crowd at the World Social Forum, and standing under a huge banner that said "Say No to Imperialist War in Iraq."
Lula is a good diplomat, and he maintained a good personal relationship with George W. Bush during their overlapping presidencies. But he changed the foreign policy of Brazil, and contributed to the regional development of an independent foreign policy. In 2005 at Mar del Plata, Argentina, the left governments buried the U.S.-sponsored "Free Trade Area of the Americas," thus putting an end to the American dream of a hemispheric commercial agreement based on rules designed in Washington. Brazil under the Workers' Party also strongly backed Venezuela against U.S. attempts to isolate, destabilize, and even topple its government. Lula's first foreign trip after his re-election in 2006 was to Venezuela, where he supported President Hugo Chávez in his own re-election campaign. The Workers' Party(PT) government also supported regional efforts to overturn the U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras, and successfully opposed the expansion of U.S. access to military bases in Colombia in 2009. And many in the U.S. foreign policy establishment (including then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) did not appreciate the Brazilian government's role in helping to arrange a nuclear fuel swap arrangement to settle the dispute with Iran in 2010, despite the fact that it was actually done at Washington's suggestion.
Washington's Cold War never ended in Latin America, and now they see their opportunity for "rollback." Brazil is a big prize, as is evidenced by the new foreign minister in the interim government. He is José Serra, who ran unsuccessfully for president against first Lula (2002) and Dilma (2010), and is expected to use his current position -- if this government survives -- as a springboard for a third shot at the presidency.
In his 2010 presidential campaign, Serra went to unusual lengths to demonstrate his loyalty to Washington. He accused the Bolivian government of Evo Morales of being an accomplice to drug traffickers and attacked Lula's government for its attempts to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran. He also criticized them for joining the rest of the region in refusing to recognize the post-coup Honduran government, and campaigned against Venezuela as well.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Mon May 30, 2016, 04:45 PM (0 replies)
Ecuadorians tired of waiting for a cleanup of Guayaquil’s filthy waters
A World Bank loan helped privatise sanitation in Ecuador’s largest city, but some residents say they still lack clean water and claim the river is polluted with sewage
The waters flowing through Estero Salado, a river delta in Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, can be deceptive, even for those who have lived their entire lives alongside the filthy and meandering estuarine network.
“We know the water is not clean, but you build up a tolerance,” says 21-year-old local activist Jasmanny Caicedo. Though he says he can take a dip without becoming ill most of the time, even Caicedo says he gets caught out on the “really bad pollution days”.
The temperature in Ecuador’s most populous city typically ranges from 21-31C (70-88F), meaning swimming is a welcome pastime for many of Guayaquil’s 2.3 million inhabitants. But unsanitary water conditions can increase the risk of catching waterborne infections such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. One day, Caicedo says he plunged into the water for “just a few minutes” but that was still enough to gave him a severe allergic skin reaction. On other occasions he reports that bathing in the estuary has resulted in stomach cramps, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.
. . .
The water and sanitation services in Guayaquil were privatised in 2001, backed by $18m (£27m) from the World Bank and $40m from the Inter-American Development Bank. The contract was won by a consortium of international companies called Interagua. The privatisation – backed by Jaime Nebot, mayor of Guayaquil since 2000 – was meant to improve sewerage and clean water provision, in particular for the poor of the city.
You remember sleazoid right-wing Mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot?
Nebot and a real American winner, Rudi Giuliani. Two of a kind.
What's in the boxes? I'm guessing a pen and pencil set, and the other, long barbeque matches.
"I invite you to pull this finger!"
Posted by Judi Lynn | Sat May 28, 2016, 09:54 PM (1 replies)
May 27, 2016
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
by Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
The two multinationals that teamed up during the Vietnam War to poison millions of people with its Agent Orange herbicide—St. Louis, Mo.-based Monsanto and Germany’s Bayer AG—are looking to become one.
Bayer has announced a bid to buy Monsanto in a deal that would expand Bayer’s GMO and pesticide holdings and add drugs to Monsanto’s global portfolio. Monsanto has rejected the latest bid, but the two are still in talks.
If Monsanto, perhaps the most hated GMO company in the world, joins hands with Bayer, one of the most hated Big Pharma corporations on Earth (whose evil deeds date back to World War I and the Nazi era), the newly formed seed-pesticide-drug behemoth would have combined annual sales of $67 billion.
That’s a staggering figure. But here’s another, even more alarming: Combined, the new mega-chemical/seed company would control 29 percent of the world’s seed market and 24 percent of the pesticide market.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Fri May 27, 2016, 06:37 PM (10 replies)
May 27, 2016
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
by Gloria Jimenez
Less than three months before Lenca leader Berta Cáceres was brutally assassinated, the social arm of Desarollos Energeticos SA (DESA)–the Honduran company leading the Agua Zarca dam project Cáceres was campaigning against–signed a contract with USAID implementing partner Fintrac, a Washington DC based development contracting firm.
The DESA representative who was present for the public signing of the USAID agreement was none other than Sergio Rodríguez, the company’s Social Investment Manager, who is now accused of Cáceres’ assassination along with another former DESA employee and individuals with military ties. The arrests also included Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, a retired military officer and the former head of DESA’s security detail. The trial against the accused murderers began on Monday.
COPINH’s Powerful Political and Economic Enemies in Rio Blanco
As one of the strongest and most recognized indigenous organizations in Honduras, the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH, have challenged powerful economic and political forces while working to protect the environment and conserve the Lenca culture.
The Agua Zarca dam project is illustrative of DESA’s business dealings and of what COPINH is up against. DESA is owned by the Atala family, one of the most powerful families in Honduras. In fact, the dam project allegedly received funding from the largest bank in Honduras–Ficohsa, headed up by Camilo Atala. Although it has been recently under attack for its possible complicity with Cáceres’ assassination, it has a dark past including allegations of money laundering.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Fri May 27, 2016, 04:42 PM (0 replies)
Source: Associated Press
State judge in 'Mississippi Burning' trial dies at age 84
Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press
Updated 5:43 pm, Thursday, May 26, 2016
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The state judge who presided over the "Mississippi Burning" trial in 2005 has died.
Retired Mississippi Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon died Thursday at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, the state Administrative Office of the Courts said. He was 84. A cause of death was not immediately available. A court spokeswoman said Gordon had been hospitalized after falling and breaking his hip in April.
Gordon sentenced Edgar Ray Killen to 60 years in prison after a mixed-race jury convicted the reputed former Ku Klux Klan leader of manslaughter in the 1964 kidnap-slaying of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County.
The revival of the cold case from the civil rights era marked the first time state prosecutors had brought charges in what the FBI called the "Mississippi Burning" investigation.
Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/State-judge-in-Mississippi-Burning-trial-dies-7947357.php
Edgar Ray Killen
In this Oct. 19, 1967 file photo, Neshoba County Sheriff Deputy Cecil Price,
right, with Edgar Ray Killen as they await their verdicts in the murder trial.
Kenneth Killen, brother of former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen, smiles
while testifying in the fourth day of the Edgar Ray Killen civil rights murder trial.
Cecil Ray Price: Cecil was the deputy sheriff of Neshoba County
and the man in the center of the conspiracy to murder
Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Thu May 26, 2016, 07:11 PM (0 replies)
May 26, 2016
Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment
by José L. Flores
Currently, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has become the target of a political insurrection. The legislature is in the process of convicting Ms. Rousseff on charges of corruption, thereby permanently removing her from office. In the meantime, Vice -President Michel Temer has assumed the responsibilities of president. Ms. Rousseff’s charges include using profits form Petrobras, the Brazilian semipublic oil corporation, to cover-up budget shortfalls.
The manipulation of the national budget could be considered unorthodox; however, the funds were mostly used on covering the costs of popular social programs. Acting President Michel Temer is simultaneously being investigated for bribery and corruption; however, he is a great friend to Wall Street and is a U.S. intelligence informant, which arguably puts him beyond reproach when considering impeachment or indictment.
Due to huge protests and the highly corrupt culture in Brazilian government, it has been argued that these impeachment proceedings are well overdue. However, when one studies Michel Temer and his political apparatus, it has become apparent that a return to neoliberal economic policies, diverging from Rousseff’s center-left Workers Party, is the actual goal. Furthermore, these impeachment proceedings seem to have pernicious despots secretly guided by the U.S. State Department, Defense Department and U.S. business interests, all of which have been operating in the shadows of Brazilian politics since 1962.
According to recent internal documents, provided by WikiLeaks, on several occasions Michel Temer was an embassy informant for U.S. intelligence. Temer secretly shared information to the U.S. Southern Command concerning the 2006 election of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the vitality of his center-left Workers’ Party. Temer assured the Defense Department that despite Lula’s clear path to reelection the president would have to negotiate with the opposition, the Brazilian Democratic Workers Party (PMDB), who had just won most governorships and the Senate. He also assured the U.S. that the PMDB would soon coalesce with Brazil’s right wing parties, therefore greatly minimizing the Workers’ Party platform. Additionally, Temer also criticized the social programs being implemented by Lula and the Workers’ Party, claiming Lula was too concerned the poor and not concerned enough about “economic growth.” In these communications a thin line was drawn between espionage and informant. Temer’s loyalty seemed to be with the United States and capital and not to Brazil and democracy.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Thu May 26, 2016, 05:42 PM (3 replies)
After Honduras Military Coup, Manuel Zelaya Considers Running For President Again
By Clark Mindock @clarkmindock On 05/26/16 AT 9:19 AM
The former president of Honduras who was ousted in a 2009 military coup has plans to take back his post. Manuel Zelaya said he’s thinking about running for president in the next election if he can gain the support of his party.
The announcement has reignited a debate around presidential term limits, which have proved contentious in the Central American nation, TelsurvTV reported Wednesday. Currently, more than one presidential term in Honduras is prohibited.
Zelaya, who became president in 2006 and served until he was ousted in June 2009, announced recently the left-wing Libre Party has said it’s OK for him to begin asking party members at internal elections if they support his bid if the opposing right-wing party pushes to re-elect President Juan Orlando Hernandez. Those internal deliberations will occur in late October. The election will be held roughly a year later in 2017. A Hernandez re-election bid has not been confirmed officially.
The notion Hernandez would break from custom and attempt to regain on power is notable. At least part of the rationale for kicking Zelaya out of office in 2009 stemmed from accusations he was planning on manipulating the country’s constitution to extend his presidency. He had scheduled a referendum in the next election to organize a constituent assembly to consider that possibility.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Thu May 26, 2016, 05:11 PM (1 replies)
Bernie Sanders accuses US Trade Rep of intimidating Colombia over Novartis patent
By Ed Silverman @Pharmalot
May 26, 2016
Bernie Sanders is the latest lawmaker to chastise United States Trade Representative Michael Froman for pressuring Colombia not to sidestep a patent on a Novartis drug.
In a letter sent Thursday, the presidential aspirant and Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio, wrote that they find it “unconscionable” that Froman’s staff would attempt to “intimidate” Colombian officials for planning to issue a compulsory license for the Gleevec cancer medicine. And they warn that such actions suggest the US is “elevating corporate profits over public health priorities.”
Earlier this month, staff from both the US Senate Finance Committee and the US Trade Rep’s Office met with Colombian embassy officials in Washington D.C., and told them that issuing such a license might jeopardize $450 million in US funding for a peace effort, as well as backing for a free-trade treaty. The meetings were described in letters that embassy officials sent to Colombian government ministers.
A country can issue a license so that a generic company can make a brand-name medicine without the consent of the company holding a patent. And Colombia Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria plans this step because it is in “the public interest,” since Novartis has refused to negotiate a lower price and won an exclusive patent on one of two forms of the drug, precluding competition.
Read more: https://www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2016/05/26/bernie-sanders-novartis-patent/
Posted by Judi Lynn | Thu May 26, 2016, 04:56 PM (6 replies)
The Right Marches on Brazil
Brazil’s interim government is orchestrating a stunning transfer of power to the country’s elites.
by Sabrina Fernandes
Michel Temer in 2010. Michel Temer / Flickr
Brazil’s new interim president Michel Temer’s motto seems to be: “Injure all at once, and perhaps, one day, return benefits little by little.” Existing social gains, especially those won by the Workers’ Party (PT), are already being eroded. His government hopes the Brazilian people will swallow this bitter pill in hopes of a vaguely defined payoff later.
The domestic popular outcry and international opposition — which could turn into a diplomatic crisis if more countries recall their ambassadors — have only accelerated this process.
Fearing that the impeachment might not stick, Temer is trying to accomplish the coup’s mission as quickly as possible: remove as many rights as he can, transfer the weight of the economic crisis from the elite to the working class, and contain the anti-corruption outcry.
While Dilma Rousseff’s second term was the least progressive of the past four PT administrations, Temer seems intent on proving even Rousseff’s least enthusiastic supporters right by demonstrating that what is bad can always get worse.
The Temer Agenda
One of Temer’s first moves was to assemble an all-male, all-white cabinet that better suits a military regime than a diverse, populous democracy.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Wed May 25, 2016, 08:19 PM (0 replies)
Neanderthals built mysterious cave structures 175,000 years ago
Ian Sample Science editor
Wednesday 25 May 2016 13.01 EDT
Mysterious structures found deep inside a French cave are the work of Neanderthal builders who lived in the region more than 100,000 years before modern humans set foot in Europe.
The extraordinary constructions are made from nearly 400 stalagmites that have been yanked from the ground and stacked on top of one another to produce rudimentary walls on the damp cave floor.
The most prominent formations are two ringed walls, built four layers deep in places, which appear to have been propped up with stalagmites wedged in place as vertical stays. The largest of the walls is nearly seven metres across and, where intact, stands up to 40cm high.
“This is completely different to anything we have seen before. I find it very mysterious,” said Marie Soressi, an archaeologist at Leiden University, who was not involved in the research. Unique in the history of Neanderthal achievements, the structures rank among the earliest human building projects ever discovered.
Scientists: Underground stone rings made by Neanderthals
By FRANK JORDANS
Posted: May. 25, 2016 8:00 am Updated: May. 25, 2016 1:03 pm
BERLIN (AP) — Two mysterious stone rings found deep inside a French cave were probably built by Neanderthals about 176,500 years ago, proving that the ancient cousins of humans were capable of more complex behavior than previously thought, scientists say.
The structures were made from hundreds of pillar-shaped mineral deposits, called stalagmites, which were chopped to a similar length and laid out in two oval patterns up to 40 centimeters (16 inches) inches high. They were discovered by chance in 1990, after remaining untouched for tens of thousands of years because a rockslide had closed the mouth of the cave at Bruniquel in southwest France.
While previous research had suggested the structures pre-dated the arrival of modern humans in Europe around 45,000 years ago, the notion that Neanderthals could have made them didn't fit long-held assumptions that these early humans were incapable of the kind of complex behavior necessary to work underground.
Using sophisticated dating techniques, a team led by archaeologist Jacques Jaubert of the University of Bordeaux, France, found that the stalagmites must have been broken off the ground around 176,500 years ago "making these edifices among the oldest known well-dated constructions made by humans."
"Their presence at 336 meters (368 yards) from the entrance of the cave indicates that humans from this period had already mastered the underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human modernity," the researchers concluded in a study published online Wednesday by the journal Nature.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Wed May 25, 2016, 07:59 PM (1 replies)