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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 92,793

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Colombia's health ministry seeks to halt coca spraying

Source: Associated Press

Colombia's health ministry seeks to halt coca spraying
Apr 27, 11:00 PM EDT

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Colombias Health Ministry is recommending the immediate suspension of aerial spraying of a herbicide thats the cornerstone of U.S.-financed efforts to wipe out cocaine crops.

The ministry on Monday based its decision on the reclassification last month of glyphosate as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization's research arm. It said it was acting in accordance with a constitutional court ruling that it take precautions whenever credible health risks are apparent.

President Juan Manuel Santos has yet to respond to the ministry's recommendation.

More than 4 million acres of land in Colombia have been sprayed with the popular weed killer over the past two decades to kill coca plants, whose leaves produce cocaine. The spraying program is partly carried out by U.S. contractors.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LT_COLOMBIA_COCAINE_SPRAYING?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-04-27-23-00-05

(Short article, no more at link.)

Military Personnel Trained by the CIA Used Napalm Against Indigenous People in Brazil

Military Personnel Trained by the CIA Used Napalm Against Indigenous People in Brazil

by Santiago Navarro F., Renata Bessi and Translated by Miriam Taylor, Truthout
November 11, 2014

Indigenous people of ethnic Pataxo struggle to return their lands. In October 2014, they closed
the highway to pressure the government. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

TRUTHOUT--For the first time in the history of Brazil, the federal government is investigating the deaths and abuses suffered by Indigenous peoples during military dictatorship (1964-1985). The death toll may be twenty times more than previously known.

Just as in World War II and Vietnam, napalm manufactured in the US burned the bodies of hundreds of indigenous individuals in Brazil, people without an army and without weapons. The objective was to take over their lands. Indigenous peoples in this country suffered the most from the atrocities committed during the military dictatorship (1964-1985) - with the support of the United States. For the first time in Brazil's history, the National Truth Commission, created by the federal government in 2012 in order to investigate political crimes committed by the State during the military dictatorship, gives statistics showing that the number of indigenous individuals killed could be 20 times greater than was previously officially registered by leftist militants.

Unlike other crimes committed by the State during that time period, no reparations or indemnification for the acts have been offered to indigenous people; they were not even considered victims of the military regime. "From the north to the south and from the east to the west, accusations of genocide, assassination of leaders and indigenous rights defenders, slavery, massacres, poisonings in small towns, forced displacement, secret prisons for indigenous people, the bombing of towns, torture, and denigrating treatment were registered ," Marcelo Zelic, vice president of the anti-torture group Never Again - SP, one of the organizations that makes up the Indigenous Truth and Justice Commission, created in order to provide documents and information to the National Truth Commission - told Truthout during an audience with the Truth Commission of San Pablo open to journalists.

Guaraní leader Timoteo Popyguá is from the El Dorado community in the state of Sao Paulo. He tells of his parents and grandparents, who lived in the municipality of the Manguerinha region in southern Brazil's Paraná state, and who were victims of the military regime. Popyguá explained to Truthout that his relatives were forcibly removed from their lands, and those who managed to stay suffered from a drastic reduction in their territories. Because these indigenous groups require "ample space" for the reproduction of their cultural life, according to him this is another form of violence that they were subjected to. "My parents were victims of abuses, chained to tree trunks. The reason was land," he says. "There must be reparations for the loss of our land and our culture."

The Commission for Amnesty - a different body that the Truth Commission - was put into place in 2001 by the Ministry of Justice with the goal of analyzing the requirements for political amnesty. Currently, their official documents count 457 victims who were either murdered or disappeared by the military. The Truth Commission determined that the total number of registered cases was 8,000 indigenous individuals, and another thousand people who belonged to political organizations who were killed between 1964 and 1985.


After Diplomatic Thaw, Cuban Cancer Vaccine May Start Saving American Lives

After Diplomatic Thaw, Cuban Cancer Vaccine May Start Saving American Lives
© AP Photo/ Mstyslav Chernov
01:17 25.04.2015(updated 08:57 25.04.2015)

Now that Cuba and the United States have warmed diplomatic ties after more than fifty years of tension between the two countries, Havana has decided to begin exporting a breakthrough cancer treatment for testing in America.

This week, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute of Buffalo, New York, signed a partnership with Havana’s Center for Molecular Immunology to import the Cuban lung cancer vaccine CimaVax.

The drug has already undergone rigorous testing in Cuba, where it has shown success in reducing antibody responses in lung cancer patients and reducing future tumor growth.

Dr. Candace Johnson, director of Roswell Park, announced the partnership upon returning from a two-day state foreign trade mission to Havana, which was led by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/us/20150425/1021356354.html#ixzz3YX9PCD9m

Virgins recruited as sex slaves for Colombian drug lords - reports

Virgins recruited as sex slaves for Colombian drug lords - reports
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:26 GMT

BOGOTA, April 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Colombian authorities intercepted phone calls between a young woman and a member of Colombia's most powerful drug cartel, the Urabenos, they heard the woman offer merchandise with "zero kilometers". But the 23-year-old human trafficker, known by her alias Paola, was not referring to a car's mileage but to virgin girls she had recruited and groomed to serve as sex slaves for kingpins of the notorious organised crime network.

In excerpts of the taped phone calls published in Colombia's La Semana magazine, Paola is also heard offering up her 11-year-old sister to have sex with a man who is an alleged gang member.

As part of a massive manhunt for Colombia's most wanted drug lord, Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who authorities say is the leader of the Urabenos, Paola and 71 others have been arrested in recent days.

Paola allegedly recruited girls aged between 11 and 16 into forced prostitution, preying on poor and vulnerable teenagers at the school gates in Colombia's northwestern Uraba region, from which the Urabenos name derives.


Cuba’s Coming Out Party

Cuba’s Coming Out Party

The road ahead for U.S.-Cuban relations is rocky, but at least it's new.

By Medea Benjamin, April 15, 2015.

For the small island country of Cuba, the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama marked a kind of “coming out” party.

Banned from the for-capitalists-only gatherings from the time they began in 1994, Cuba was not only invited to participate in the summit this year, it was the belle of the ball (albeit the “belle” was a shaky, 83-year-old Raul Castro, who lacks his brother Fidel’s charisma). Cuba’s presence was heralded in the speeches of every nation’s leader, and the handshake between President Obama and Raul Castro was the summit’s Kodak moment.

In Raul Castro’s long. 49-minute speech (in which he joked that because Cuba had been excluded from six prior summits, he deserved six times the recommended eight minutes), he gave a history lesson of past U.S. attacks on Cuba — from the Platt Amendment to supporting the dictator Fulgencio Batista to the Bay of Pigs invasion and the opening of the Guantanamo prison. But he was gracious to President Obama, saying he was not to blame for this legacy and calling him an “honest man” of humble origins.

President Obama certainly won praise throughout the summit for turning this page in the Cold War. Some leaders insisted on clarifying, however, that Cuba was not at the summit because of Obama’s nice gesture: Cuba was there because the leaders of Latin America insisted that there would not be another summit without Cuba. Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos, no lefty, recalled his position at the last summit, which he hosted, that Cuba must be invited to the next one. Bolivia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and others had threatened to boycott any new gathering without Cuba.


Destination Cuba: Ferry operators eye Florida-to-Havana service

Destination Cuba: Ferry operators eye Florida-to-Havana service
Costas Paris • April 25, 2015

Ferry operators are racing to be the first to tie up pier-side in Havana.

At least five shipping companies have applied for special licenses from the U.S. State Department to relaunch overnight ferry service from ports in Florida, according to shipping executives familiar with the matter. The routes were popular with American tourists and weekend revelers before sea links were closed off more than 50 years ago.

The Obama administration has eased sanctions and promises to normalize relations with Havana. As part of that move, Washington has lifted some travel restrictions that have long made Cuba practically off limits for most American visitors.

The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls now allows visits for a variety of purposes that once required special approval. Those include trips by Americans to see family, professional and educational travel, and travel related to humanitarian projects and sporting events.

Tourism is still prohibited, but shipping executives are betting that those restrictions will fall away soon, too. Since the Obama administration first started easing travel restrictions to Cuba several years ago, approved travelers have been able to use several Washington-sanctioned charter flights to the island. There are some private ferry charters for humanitarian cargo and other approved shipments, too, but passengers aren’t typically allowed aboard.


Ros-Lehtinen’s new reality

Ros-Lehtinen’s new reality
Sarah Stephens • April 25, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Here’s a story about Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s sudden about-face on President Obama’s decision to drop Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list. It’s a little “in the weeds,” but it dramatizes how much the debate on Cuba has changed since we learned that Presidents Obama and Castro agreed to restore diplomatic relations.

We begin on January 8 of this year when Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) introduced H.R. 204, the North Korea Sanctions and Diplomatic Non-recognition Act of 2015, to reverse a decision taken by the Bush administration to drop North Korea from the state sponsors list.

To accomplish this result, she wrote legislation which says in part, “Notwithstanding the decision by the Secretary of State on October 11, 2008,” to remove North Korea from the list, Congress was putting them back on the list and re-imposing the sanctions because “the Government of North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism.”

When she introduced the legislation, no one questioned if Rep. Ros-Lehtinen had the authority to propose it. In fact, the Congressional Record published this definitive statement: “Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following: Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.”


Can Ecuador bring Chevron to justice?

Can Ecuador bring Chevron to justice?
A US appeals court may decide fate of a $9.5 billion fine imposed on the company for environmental damage
April 24, 2015 2:00AM ET
by Miguel Tinker Salas - @mtinkersalas

On Monday, judges in New York began hearing arguments in one of the biggest and longest-running environmental justice cases of all time. At stake is whether a developing country that happens to have oil can enforce its judgments against a multinational company. The results may tell Americans something about what the rule of law is worth in their own country.

In 1993 a group of public interest lawyers, working on behalf of indigenous people in eastern Ecuador filed a class action lawsuit against Texaco over millions of gallons of oil and toxic wastewater that it released into groundwater, rivers and streams. Texaco (which was acquired by Chevron in 2001) fought for nearly a decade to have the case tried in Ecuador, probably thinking that it would be easier to influence the outcome in a developing country. It was mistaken: In 2011 an Ecuadorean court found that Chevron was responsible for the pollution, and after appeals, the company was found liable for $9.5 billion in damages. Since Chevron has no assets in Ecuador, the plaintiffs were forced to sue in the United States and other countries with a Chevron presence to collect the judgment.

The case had enormous implications for the global oil industry. If poor, indigenous people could team up with environmental activist lawyers and win a legal judgment against a multinational corporation, the balance of power between Big Oil and its normally powerless victims might change forever. Although Chevron, valued at over $200 billion, didn’t need any help with legal expenses, it probably could have raised hundreds of millions from other oil companies hoping to maintain corporate dominance over local populations and national governments.

Having lost in Ecuador, Chevron brought the case to the U.S., where it went on the offensive and sued the plaintiff’s lead attorney, Steven Donzinger, and his legal team. Invoking the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — a statute designed to prosecute organized crime — the corporation accused the indigenous plaintiffs and their lawyers of bribing an Ecuadorean judge.


Colombia close to legal euthanasia

Colombia close to legal euthanasia
by Michael Cook | 25 Apr 2015 |

Colombia’s Health Ministry has finally drawn up guidelines for voluntary euthanasia, 18 years after the country’s supreme court ruled that it was a constitutional right. Health Minister Alejandro Gaviría told media that only competent adults would be able to request the procedure, that only patients with a terminal illness would be eligible, and that if the patient is unconscious, relatives must present audio, video, or written proof that he wanted to be euthanased. Minors and patients with degenerative diseases will not be able to receive a lethal injection.

Despite the 1997 ruling, Colombian law-makers dragged their heels on the issue and never drafted protocols. As a result, doctors feared that they could be charged with homicide if they helped someone to die.

The Catholic Church, one of the principal opponents of euthanasia in Colombia, was scathing in its comments. It told the Health Ministry that legalisation “is a grave attack against the dignity of the ill and against the sanctity of the basic right to life, enshrined in Article 11 of the Constitution.”

“It would be good, Mr. Minister,” it said in a letter, “if your ministry, so interested in regulating euthanasia and abortion, put the same effort into finding an effective solution to the crisis in the health-care sector and the needs of the poorest”.


(Short articles, no more at link.)

Roswell Park intrigued by Cuban vaccine for lung cancer treatment

Roswell Park intrigued by Cuban vaccine for lung cancer treatment
By Henry Davis | News Medical Reporter
on April 23, 2015 - 3:39 PM

The lung cancer vaccine from Cuba that Roswell Park Cancer Institute wants to study in the United States offers intriguing hope in extending the life of patients.

A small trial of the vaccine in Cuba for patients who failed chemotherapy and radiation found that it significantly increased life expectancy, and larger studies are underway in Cuba and other countries. The vaccine also appears to have few side effects and is inexpensive to produce. But any optimistic expectations must be put into perspective.

The potential improvement in survival in late-stage cancer patients is a matter of months. And, like other lung cancer vaccines in clinical trials, it will have to prove itself effective in larger studies in this country, a process that will take years.
“This is an interesting vaccine because of its novel approach. And, because it has such mild side effects, the possibility of using it for prevention is exciting,” said Dr. Kelvin Lee, chairman of the cancer center’s department of immunology.

Roswell Park struck a deal with the Center for Molecular Immunology in Cuba to bring into the U.S. for study two vaccines developed at the Cuban organization – CIMAvax and racotumomab. The announcement came Tuesday at the conclusion of a two-day state foreign trade mission to Havana. The delegation with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo included Lee; Candace Johnson, Roswell Park’s chief executive officer; and Howard Zemsky, president and chief executive officer of Empire State Development Corp.

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