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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 90,169

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Field notes: What Cuba can teach us about building a culture of health

Field notes: What Cuba can teach us about building a culture of health
Maryjoan Ladden and Susan Mende • January 31, 2015

Ever since President Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba, there’s been growing excitement over the potential for new opportunities for tourism, as well as technology and business exchanges. Most people assume that the flow will be one-sided, with the United States providing expertise and investment to help Cuba’s struggling economy and decaying infrastructure.That assumption would be wrong. America can—and already has—learned a lot from Cuba. At RWJF, we supportMEDICC, an organization that strives to use lessons gleaned from Cuba’s health care system to improve outcomes in four medically underserved communities in the United States—South Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and the Bronx, N.Y. Even with very limited resources, Cuba has universal medical and dental care and provides preventive strategies and primary care at the neighborhood level, resulting in enviable health outcomes. Cuba has a low infant mortality rate and the lowest HIV rate in the Americas, for example—with a fraction of the budget spent in the United States.

This past October we traveled to Cuba to see for ourselves how health and well-being are integrated into daily life. We wanted to learn firsthand about best practices that might be adapted to improve the health of residents in our own low-income communities. It’s important to recognize, though, that all is not ideal in Cuba. Poverty is widespread, the government is restrictive and many freedoms and access to information that we take for granted are not available to Cubans.Our trip was focused on the health system, and there was a lot to learn. We visited schools, local health clinics, farms, and senior centers across the Havana area where we spoke with government officials, doctors, nurses, teachers, and Cubans of every age and many occupations. The journey was eye-opening: We saw how concerns about public health are deeply imbued in every aspect of daily life and play a part in every government decision. Staying healthy is considered a national responsibility, a message that consistently comes from the top, originating with Fidel Castro himself. If you keep fit and stay healthy you help your neighbors, your community, and Cuba.

How is this Culture of Health so deeply woven into Cuban society? For starters, the resources for maintaining health are free, universal, and available in every community. The central government views education, housing, public safety, and other national issues all through the lens of health. At a middle school, for example, students learn about nutrition and medicinal herbs along with physics and chemistry. Not far from our hotel in Havana, some streets were unpaved and buildings were in serious disrepair—yet the government had installed new pedestrian and vehicle countdown lights at crossings. When we asked why, we were told that there had been a lot of accidents on the road, so putting a system in place that lets pedestrians know they have 10 seconds left to safely cross the street is considered a good investment in public health.

Cuba’s health care system is not perfect. Medical records are still all paper, medicines are not always easy to come by, and people can wait a long time for dental and other care. But despite having few economic resources, the Cuban government has an effective system in place for offering its residents support at the community level for maintaining and improving their health.


Venezuela: Where the Wealthy Stir Violence While the Poor Build a New Society

Venezuela: Where the Wealthy Stir Violence While the Poor Build a New Society
By Dario Azzellini Berlin, Germany
April 28, 2014

Artist and documentary filmmaker Dario Azzellini argues the protests in Venezuela represent a vicious attack on the country’s social progress under Hugo Chávez, spurred on by anti-Chavista politicians in affluent regions.

The barrios of Caracas, Venezuela. Film still from Comuna Under Construction (2010), directed by Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler.

Before Hugo Chávez became president of Venezuela in 1999, the barrios of Caracas, built provisionally on the hills surrounding the capital, did not even appear on the city map. Officially they did not exist, so neither the city nor the state maintained their infrastructure. The poor inhabitants of these neighborhoods obtained water and electricity by tapping pipes and cables themselves. They lacked access to services such as garbage collection, health care and education altogether.

Today residents of the same barrios are organizing their communities through directly democratic assemblies known as communal councils—of which Venezuela has more than 40,000. Working families have come together to found community spaces and cooperative companies, coordinate social programs and renovate neighborhood houses, grounding their actions in principles of solidarity and collectivity. And their organizing has found government support, especially with the Law of Communal Councils, passed by Chávez in 2006, which has led to the formation of communes that can develop social projects on a larger scale and over the long term.

You will not hear about the self-governing barrios in Western reports of protests spreading across Venezuela. According to the prevailing narrative, students throughout the country are protesting a dire economic situation and high crime rate, only to meet brutal repression from government forces. Yet the street violence that has captured the world’s attention has largely taken place in a few isolated areas—the affluent neighborhoods of cities like Caracas, Maracaibo, Valencia, San Cristóbal and Mérida—and not in the barrios where Venezuela’s poor and working classes live. Despite international media claims, the vast majority of Venezuela’s students are not protesting. Not even a third of all people arrested in connection with the demonstrations since early February are students, even though Venezuela has more than 2.6 million university students (up from roughly 700,000 in 1998), thanks to the tuition-free public university system that Chávez created.

A look at recent arrests reveals that the “protest” leaders are really a mixture of drug traffickers, paramilitaries and private military contractors—in other words, the mercenaries typical of any CIA military destabilization operation. In Barinas, the southern border state with Colombia, two heavily armed barricade organizers were arrested, including Hugo Alberto Nuncira Soto, who has an Interpol arrest warrant for membership in Los Urabeños, a Colombian paramilitary involved in drug trafficking, smuggling, assassinations and massacres. In Caracas, the brothers Richard and Chamel Akl—who own a private military company, Akl Elite Corporation, and represent the Venezuelan branch of the private military contractor Risk Inc.—were arrested while driving an armored vehicle in possession of firearms, explosives and military equipment. Their car had been equipped with pipes to be activated from inside to disperse motor oil and nails on the streets, not to mention tear gas grenades, homemade bombs, pistols, gas masks, bulletproof vests, night-vision devices, gasoline tanks and knives.


Chile's President Bachelet proposes end to total abortion ban

31 January 2015 Last updated at 18:01 ET
Chile's President Bachelet proposes end to total abortion ban

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has announced plans to end a total ban on abortions in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Ms Bachelet has tabled a bill in Congress to legalise abortion in cases of rape or when there mother's life to the mother's or the baby's life.

Abortion is punishable in Chile by up to five years in jail.

The absolute ban of abortion puts the lives of thousands of Chilean women at risk every year, said Ms Bachelet.

She went on national television to announce the plans.

"Facts have shown that the absolute criminalization of abortion has not stopped the practice," she said.

"This is a difficult situation and we must face it as a mature country."


How Roy Cohn Helped Rupert Murdoch

How Roy Cohn Helped Rupert Murdoch

January 28, 2015

Special Report: Through Fox News and a vast media empire, Rupert Murdoch wields enormous political clout in the United States, but his entrée into the world of Washington power came from the notorious McCarthyite Roy Cohn who opened the door into Ronald Reagan’s Oval Office, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Rupert Murdoch, the global media mogul who is now a kingmaker in American politics, was brought into those power circles by the infamous lawyer/activist Roy Cohn who arranged Murdoch’s first Oval Office meeting with President Ronald Reagan in 1983, according to documents released by Reagan’s presidential library.

“I had one interest when Tom and I first brought Rupert Murdoch and Governor Reagan together – and that was that at least one major publisher in this country … would become and remain pro-Reagan,” Cohn wrote in a Jan. 27, 1983 letter to senior White House aides Edwin Meese, James Baker and Michael Deaver. “Mr. Murdoch has performed to the limit up through and including today.”

The letter noted that Murdoch then owned the “New York Post – over one million, third largest and largest afternoon; New York Magazine; Village Voice; San Antonio Express; Houston Ring papers; and now the Boston Herald; and internationally influential London Times, etc.” Cohn sent the letter nine days after Murdoch met Reagan in the Oval Office along with Cohn, his legal partner Thomas Bolan, and U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick.

In a photograph of the Jan. 18, 1983 meeting, Cohn is shown standing and leaning toward Reagan who is seated next to Murdoch. Following that meeting, Murdoch became involved in a privately funded propaganda project to help sell Reagan’s hard-line Central American policies, according to other documents. That PR operation was overseen by senior CIA propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. and CIA Director William Casey, but the details of Murdoch’s role remain sketchy partly because some of the records are still classified more than three decades later.


~ ~ ~

A few lovely photos of "commie" witch-hunt obsessive alcoholic Republican
Senator and his chief legal counsel, Roy Cohn in the height of their failed,
sadist assault on the human race.

Eight years of progressive politics in Ecuador

Eight years of progressive politics in Ecuador
Jan 2015 Friday 30th

Eight years ago President Rafael Correa was elected in Ecuador and, as in many Latin American countries in recent years, there’s been a tremendous shift in the country.
Today, at a time when we are constantly told about the inevitability of cuts and austerity, spending in Ecuador on healthcare and education has doubled.

On Correa’s election the rich were forced to pay their taxes for the first time in the country’s history, and as a result government investment has led to economic growth of 4 per cent year by year.
Additionally, for the first time in Ecuador’s history, extreme poverty is in single figures.
It is now less than 8 per cent, compared with 16.5 per cent previously.

Ecuador also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the continent, with the figures for 2014 closing at only 3.8 per cent.

~ snip ~

Yet prior to Correa’s election — as part what has been termed the “pink tide” in Latin America — Ecuador was a very unstable country, perhaps one of the most unstable in the region throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
It had seven presidents in 10 years, accompanied by a series of aggressive neoliberal economic packages, with a resulting sharp increase in inequality.


Take Cuba off the Terrorist List

January 29, 2015

Drop the Label

Take Cuba off the Terrorist List


The new US-Cuba talks are a refreshing burst of sunshine in the 54-year dismal relationship between neighbors separated by a mere 90 miles. The nations negotiated a successful swap of prisoners. The onerous travel restrictions the US government placed on just visiting the island are starting to crumble. Embassies in Washington and Havana will soon be opened. Rules designed to ease trade are being written. But despite this long-awaited meltdown of US policies that added to the island’s economic woes but never succeeded in tumbling Cuba’s communist government, a portion of the Cold War edifice remains intact: Cuba is still on the US terrorist list.

This list, reserved for countries that have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism”, is a very short one. It doesn’t include Saudi Arabia, the country that accounted for 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 and has been responsible for spreading extremist Wahhabi ideology throughout the Middle East. It doesn’t include Pakistan, a country that has long been a staging ground for Islamic terrorists and on the receiving end of US drone strikes for the past decade. It certainly doesn’t include Israel, a country Amnesty International called “trigger happy” for using “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force” against Palestinians. It doesn’t even include North Korea, a country that recently threatened to bomb the “White House, the Pentagon and the whole US mainland.”

Of the world’s 196 countries, only four are included: Iran, Sudan, Syria….and Cuba.

The US government first put Cuba on the list three decades ago, in 1982, accusing the island of providing a safe haven for members of the Basque separatist group ETA and Colombia’s FARC rebels. It also accused Cuba of providing political asylum to Americans facing criminal and terrorism charges. In 2006, the State Department added that Cuba opposed the US-led war on terror and made no attempt to “track, block, or seize terrorist assets.”

Over the years, these accusations have faded as Latin American dictatorships were overthrown and leftist groups started using the ballot instead of bullets to gain power. In Columbia, where decades-long fighting between government and guerrilla groups persists, Cuba has become an internationally recognized and appreciated mediator hosting peace talks. The ETA called a ceasefire in 2011 and said it would disarm. And despite US accusations, after 9/11 Fidel Castro roundly condemned terrorism, refused to harbor individuals wanted for terrorism, and signed onto all UN-sanctioned anti-terrorism treaties.


Former paramilitary leaders apologize to Colombia’s conflict victims

Former paramilitary leaders apologize to Colombia’s conflict victims
Jan 29, 2015 posted by Rebecca Florey

Three former heads of paramilitary organization AUC on Wednesday offered apologies to the victims of hundreds of their crimes.

“The physical, emotional and psychological pain caused to victims compels me to express remorse, forgiveness, deep sorrow and undeniable moral shame for everything we did in this fratricidal war. Gone are the pride and delusions of grandeur. Rest assured that this page of shame has already turned and we can say with certainty: Never again! ”

Those were the words Rodrigo Perez, alias “Julian Bolivar,” who spoke Wednesday at a Bogota court.
Perez, who was the top commander of the Central Bolivar Bloc (BCB) currently being held in prison, led a request for forgiveness offered by the various units that operated under his command. The apology was directed not only to the victims but also to the state institutions and society in general.

The BCB was a Colombian right-wing paramilitary organization and one of the largest members of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Tens of thousands of cases of kidnappings, rape, massacres, extortion, drug trafficking and displacement, among other crimes, have been attributed to the AUC during its existence between 1997 and 2006.


Cuban President Raul Castro: US Must Lift Embargo And Give Back Guantanamo To Normalize Relations

Source: International Business Times

Cuban President Raul Castro: US Must Lift Embargo And Give Back Guantanamo To Normalize Relations
By Dennis Lynch @neato_itsdennis on January 28 2015 4:04 PM

Cuban President Raul Castro said Wednesday the U.S. must return the land at Guantanamo Bay, lift the crippling U.S. trade embargo and compensate Cuba for damages in order to reestablish a political and economic relationship between the two nations. Speaking at the opening of the Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in Belén, Costa Rica, Castro said the “diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense,” if the U.S. did not agree to those terms, according to the Associated Press. The 83-year-old president added that talks would fall apart if Washington tried to interfere in Cuban politics.

“Everything appears to indicate that the aim is to foment an artificial political opposition via economic, political and communicational means,” he said, according to Reuters. “If these problems are not resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States would be meaningless.”

U.S. President Barack Obama announced he would seek to normalize relations in December. Castro agreed and was optimistic about the prospect. U.S. and Cuban officials held high-level talks last week in Havana.

The U.S. placed Cuba under an almost complete embargo in 1960 shortly after Cuban rebels led by Raul’s brother Fidel Castro overthrew a U.S.-backed regime led by Fulgencio Batista. It is the longest embargo in modern history and has devastated the Cuban economy. The Cuban Missile Crisis and dozens of other diplomatic rows nearly completely eroded relations between the nations.

Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/cuban-president-raul-castro-us-must-lift-embargo-give-back-guantanamo-normalize-1798254

Exporting Fascism: US Imperialism in Latin America

Exporting Fascism: US Imperialism in Latin America

by Mike Kuhlenbeck January 24, 2015

The United States will try to provoke anti-government sentiment and encourage the leaders of the right-wing opposition to lead a coup in Caracas.

The US sanctions against Venezuela, signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 18, 2014, resulted from charges of protestors’ rights being violated by the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro.

The sanctions allow the Obama administration to deny visas and freeze the assets of Venezuelan officials accused of violating the rights of anti-government groups. These groups, comprised mainly of the right-wing opposition, have been leading violent protests in Caracas since last February. US leaders blame the Venezuelan leadership, headed by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, for the deaths of 43 people during such demonstrations, which included both government supporters and opponents.

This charge has been widely disputed as an attempt for the American Eagle of Imperialism to dig its talons into Venezuela. As reported by Al-Jazeera, “Despite the widely accepted and facile media narrative about the government’s culpability for the origins of the protests and the ensuing violence, there is convincing evidence that Venezuela’s right-wing antagonists bear much of the blame.”

It is no secret that right-wing antagonists in Venezuela have been receiving US support. In New Eastern Outlook, journalist Caleb Maupin reported, “The so-called ‘Venezuelan opposition,’ which includes many open admirers of fascist dictators Francisco Franco and Augusto Pinochet, has received over $100 million in funding from the United States over the last twelve years.”

The US has been heavily invested in Venezuela for many years, financially and politically. By 1928, Venezuela became one of the world’s leading oil exporters. Today, it is a member of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and is third largest oil supplier for the US. For several decades, the nation’s corrupt leadership plunged the majority of the population into poverty. By 1998, that all would change with the election of Bolivarian presidential candidate of Hugo Chávez.


How the USDA and Big Food Keep the Public in the Dark

Weekend Edition January 23-25, 2015

In the Pocket of Big Meat

How the USDA and Big Food Keep the Public in the Dark


January brought implementation of the California law mandating more room for egg laying chickens. But larger cages do nothing for the suffering of hatchery chickens which are ground up alive at birth. Yes, you read that right. Until the egg industry ceases to buy its layers from hatcheries which the industry admits kills “200 million male chicks” a year, there is no such thing as an ethical egg. Hatcheries also risk human health by injecting the eggs of future egg layers with antibiotics. Yum.

Earlier this month, video obtained from a Whole Foods egg supplier, Petaluma Farms in Petaluma, CA, shows just how bad the situation is on commercial egg farms. Hens are depicted in disturbing states of sickness and suffering, despite the operation hewing to Humane Farm Animal Care standards, reports the New York Times.

While the U.S.D.A. is in charge of farm regulation– it recently announced new standards to reduce bacteria in poultry including better inspections–it shamelessly plays both sides of the food “street.” According to an expose recent in the New York Times, it uses tax dollars to help private industry develop more “profitable” animals in a semi-clandestine operation called the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center. The experiments often cause the death of mothers and offspring, reports the Times and veterinarians have objected for years.

The U.S. government’s allegiance to the meat industry at the price of consumers is also seen in its handling of “mad cow” scares. Four “mad cows” have been found in the United States in the last ten years and the government protected the identities of the Alabama and Texas ranches that produced two of them.

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