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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 108,669

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World Bank tribunal dismisses mining firm's $250m claim against El Salvador

World Bank tribunal dismisses mining firm's $250m claim against El Salvador

OceanaGold ordered to pay $8m legal costs after claim that El Salvador’s refusal to let it mine gold caused huge loss in potential profits is thrown out

Claire Provost and Matt Kennard
Friday 14 October 2016 16.59 EDT
An international tribunal has dismissed a multinational mining company’s demand that the government of El Salvador pay $250m (£205m) in compensation for refusing to allow it to dig for gold in the tiny Central American country where the slogan, “No to mining, yes to life” has become a national rallying cry.

The tribunal, which ruled that OceanaGold’s case was without merit, also ordered the firm to pay the Salvadoran government $8m to cover the majority of the country’s legal costs.

“For the people of Cabanas who have been fighting to defend their environment, it is mission accomplished,” said El Salvador’s attorney general, Douglas Meléndez Ruiz. “It is an important step for the country to have been victorious in this lawsuit.”

While an OceanaGold statement expressed disappointment at the verdict, the outcome was celebrated by civil society groups from El Salvador to Canada, although they questioned why the ruling in a case dating back to 2009 had taken so long.


For Día de los Muertos, a beautiful Guatemalan kite festival honors the dead

For Día de los Muertos, a beautiful Guatemalan kite festival honors the dead

By Edna Rheiner
October 27, 2016

In Guatemalan culture, the Día de los Muertos — or Day of the Dead — is a time when the worlds of the living and the dead are believed to mesh together and spirits return to Earth from heaven. The celebration, which begins November 1, is also known as All Saints' Day, or Día de Todos los Santos.

To celebrate Día de los Muertos, Guatemalans across the country pay visits to cemeteries, prepare a special dish called fiambre and, among other traditions, fly kites.

The Kite Festivals of Santiago and Sumpango — both in the Sacatepéquez region — are about honoring the dead and communicating with them, but locals also compete to see who has the most beautiful kite and which of them can stay flying the longest. There are prizes for best design, but for the winners, the cheers and admiration of the crowd are rewarding enough.


Harvard’s Curious Fascination with Colombia’s Homophobic Leaders

Harvard’s Curious Fascination with Colombia’s Homophobic Leaders

By Laura Correa Ochoa and Julian Ripoli Urrutia, CONTRIBUTING WRITERS 7 hours ago

While the rest of the Harvard community is busy speaking out against gender-based violence and working to create a more inclusive campus, this past Saturday, Harvard Business School proudly hosted the man who has become the most visible leader of a powerful, procrustean movement against women and the BGLTQ community in Colombia: former president Alvaro Uribe, who gave a keynote speech at the 19th Annual Latin America Conference. This is his second invited speech at Harvard this year, and his fourth in five years. Less than two years ago, the Law School’s Program on Negotiation extended an invitation to another architect of this movement’s agenda to disenfranchise women and the BGLTQ population, former Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez. It seems as though some of Harvard’s institutions have a curious fascination with hearing from misogynistic and homophobic Colombian leaders. Unfortunately, this predilection may be getting in the way of its educational mission.

Since the end of his presidency in 2010, Uribe has been the undisputed leader of the opposition to the government, and a vocal critic of the peace process ever since it was first announced in 2012. Ordoñez—an unapologetic burner of "immoral magazines and books" and ardent opponent of sexual and reproductive rights who served as Inspector General from 2009 to 2016 (when he was deposed on charges of corruption and other irregularities)—is one Uribe’s closest political allies. Uribe and Ordoñez have rallied a militant, sexist, and homophobic constituency that has become a decisive political force in Colombia. Their movement proudly claims to have contributed over two million votes against the peace agreement between the government and the FARC guerrillas in the recent plebiscite. This constituency—which succeeded in bringing down the peace accords by a margin of less than 54,000 votes—galvanized around Uribe’s and Ordoñez’s propaganda that the agreement promoted gay marriage, “homosexual dictatorships,” and “gender ideologies.” However, “gender ideology” does not feature anywhere in the text of the agreement. Rather, Uribe and Ordoñez distorted its progressive gender focus, which seeks to address the specific forms of violence faced by women—the demographic most affected by the conflict—and BGLTQ victims during the country’s 50-year civil war.

The defeat of the accords is largely the culmination of a programmatic agenda to roll back hard-won minority rights. Earlier this year, in reaction to a decision by Colombia’s Constitutional Court legalizing same-sex marriage and making it easier for same-sex couples to adopt children, Uribe and his supporters organized massive protests across the country denouncing gender-inclusive education programs and other “sexual garbage” in public schools, and demanding a return to “traditional” family values. As Inspector General Ordoñez defied the Constitutional Court’s rulings by obstructing women’s rights to an abortion in cases involving rape, danger to the mother’s health, or fatal fetal abnormalities, and initiating judicial actions against judges and public notaries performing same sex marriages. Both men used the fear generated by the peace process to advance discrimination and promote their political agendas for the 2018 presidential election. These actions are in opposition to Harvard’s mission—as stated by the Office of BGLTQ Student Life—to create a more inclusive campus by engaging and educating the University community “about the multiplicity of sexual and gender identities.”

Most troubling about Harvard's evident fascination with hearing from Uribe and Ordoñez is the apparent lack of interest in examining their controversial views and their illiberal agenda. Advertisements of their visits celebrate Uribe’s apparent successes in promoting economic growth and Ordoñez’s ostensible achievements at combating corruption. No mention is made about the fact that their political capital is largely built on misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, and human rights abuses, despite the fact that Colombian students and allies have consistently highlighted these silences.


Peru's royal pedigree: direct descendants trace roots to Incan emperor and kin

Peru's royal pedigree: direct descendants trace roots to Incan emperor and kin

New research has uncovered noble bloodlines that lead to emperor Atahualpa – often among the most humble families of modern Peru

Dan Collyns in Lima
Tuesday 25 October 2016 05.00 EDT

When the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, was executed by Francisco Pizarro in 1533, the conquistadores moved quickly to obliterate all traces of what had been the largest empire of its time.

Temples were sacked and stripped of gold; on holy days, Inca nobles were forced to parade Christian saints instead of the mummies of their ancestors; the engineering skills behind Machu Picchu and a 25,000-mile network of roads stretching from Colombia to Argentina were forgotten.

And in this new society that oppressed all of Peru’s indigenous population, the names of noble families – the “children of the sun” who had once lived as demigods – were gradually erased from history.

But new research in genetics and historical records is tracing noble Inca bloodlines to the direct descendants of Atahualpa and his kin – often among the most humble families of modern Peru.


Stand Up to Big Pharma Greed. Vote Yes on Proposition 61

Published on Monday, October 24, 2016
by The Los Angeles Times

Stand Up to Big Pharma Greed. Vote Yes on Proposition 61

by Bernie Sanders

Prescription drug prices in the United States are the highest in the world — by far. Californians on Nov. 8 have a chance to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry’s greed and spark a national movement to end this price-gouging.

Today, no laws prevent drug companies from doubling or tripling prices. So they just do it. The most recent flagrant example is the emergency allergy injection, EpiPen. Its maker, Mylan, jacked up the price of this 40-year-old medication by 461% between 2007 and 2015. During that same period, compensation for Mylan’s CEO rose 671%. And that’s just one company and one drug.

Proposition 61, the California Drug Price Relief Act, would bar the state from paying more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does for the same drugs. That would include medicine purchased for state employees and retirees, university students, prison inmates, uninsured people with HIV/AIDS and Californians covered by the public insurance program Medi-Cal.

The VA pays an estimated 24% less for drugs than most government agencies and about 40% less than Medicare Part D. Those are significant savings. In California, Proposition 61 would make drugs more affordable and accessible for about 6 million people.


4,000 year old children's rattle beautifully crafted as bear cub's head: and it still rattles!

4,000 year old children's rattle beautifully crafted as bear cub's head: and it still rattles!

By Tamara Zubchuk21 October 2016

Find-of-the-year by Novosibirsk archeologists is a toy that entertained prehistoric babies.

The remarkable discovery of one of the oldest toys in the world came from excavations at a Bronze Age settlement in modern-day Novosibrirsk region.

Inside it - and it remains sealed - are little stones 'that make a jingling sound', said Professor Vyacheslav Molodin, deputy head of Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography.

He told The Siberian Times: 'This is a clay rattle with a visible well-made handle - handy for a child to hold it. It was constructed by clay firing, it is hollow inside. There are little stones inside. We don't know what kind of stones these are, but we will be doing an X-ray to find out. The rattle is still working.'


Explosive Star System's Turbulent Relationship Revealed in Best View Yet

Explosive Star System's Turbulent Relationship Revealed in Best View Yet

By Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor | October 20, 2016 09:00am ET

- Video at link -

One of astronomy's most famous stellar pairs sports strange structures in the windy zone between the two stars, according to new observations from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI).

Eta Carinae is a star system located about 7,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Carina. The new images, released today (Oct. 19), provide unprecedented detail of the windy area between the two stars, which could help scientists better understand how massive star evolution works.

ESO researchers created this stunning video of Eta Carinae to zoom into the deepest-ever view of the star system. We weaved telescope imagery and a simulation from ESO, NASA and more and set it to music by The Claypool Lennon Delirium (the tune "There Is No Underwear in Space").


Environmental Official Murdered in Brazilian Amazon

Environmental Official Murdered in Brazilian Amazon
Thursday, 20 October 2016 00:00
By Sue Branford, Mongabay | Report

On Thursday 13 October, Luiz Alberto Araújo, 54 years old, who headed the environment department for the municipal government of the town of Altamira in the Amazonian state of Pará, was killed by two gunmen. They drove up to his car and fired nine shots into him, in front of his wife and two stepsons. Nothing was stolen and the killing is believed to have been a political assassination.

In his endeavors to enforce environmental legislation in the largely lawless Amazonian region, Araújo made powerful enemies. He, along with others, provided information to the Federal Police and to Brazil's Federal Public Ministry (MPF), an independent branch of government, that enabled them to launch Operaçāo Rios Voadores (Flying Rivers Operation) earlier this year.

This illegal logging investigation, one of the largest in the Amazon in recent times, led to 24 arrests, including that of the ringleader, Antonio José Junqueira Vilela Filho, known as AJJ. He and his son were accused of illegally invading the Amazon rainforest, extracting valuable hard timber, slashing-and-burning the remaining forest and turning it into pasture for cattle.

According to Luciano Evaristo, Director of Environmental Protection at Brazil's environmental agency, Ibama, AJJ developed a new method for clearing the forest. "He employed geo-processing technicians to organize numerous small-scale operations," he said.


Bolivia’s fast-melting glaciers are leaving behind lakes that could cause catastrophic floods

Bolivia’s fast-melting glaciers are leaving behind lakes that could cause catastrophic floods
October 20, 2016 10.33am EDT

Bolivia’s glaciers have shrunk by more than 40% in the past few decades. This puts further pressure on an already stressed water supply, while the meltwater lakes left behind risk collapsing in sudden and catastrophic outburst floods.

That’s the conclusion of a new study of the country’s glaciers I conducted with colleagues based in the UK and Bolivia. Our results are published in the journal The Cryosphere.

Although Bolivia sits in the tropics, the Andes run through the country like a spine. Many mountains exceed 6,000 metres, among the highest outside of south and central Asia, meaning that glaciers can exist here. Indeed, Bolivia contains around 20% of the world’s so-called “tropical glaciers”.

But these glaciers are very sensitive to the effects of a warming climate. Our study shows that Bolivian glaciers have shrunk by around 43% since the mid-1980s – a period marked by increasing temperatures. We estimate that these glaciers will be much diminished by the end of the century.


2 agrarian activists murdered in Honduras

Source: Associated Press

2 agrarian activists murdered in Honduras
Oct 19, 9:05 PM EDT
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- International condemnation poured into Honduras on Wednesday over the murder of two agrarian activists the day before.

Jose Angel Flores, leader of the United Farmworkers Movement of Aguan, or MUCA by its Spanish initials, and member Silmer Dionisio George were shot in northeast Honduras after leaving a meeting in the town of Tocoa.

In recent years, MUCA has seized thousands of acres of land, much of it privately held palm oil plantations that previously had been cooperatives cultivated by the same farmworkers.

U.S. Ambassador to Honduras James Nealon condemned the killings in a statement Wednesday. He said he had offered U.S. resources to the Honduran government to help find those responsible.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LT_HONDURAS_ACTIVISTS_KILLED?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-10-19-19-06-26
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