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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess

August 28, 2015
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess

by Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés

Not so long ago the fictional Cuba of the US myth-making machine was a Caribbean gulag, a dictatorship that sponsored terrorism and trafficked in human beings – that is when it wasn’t torturing them. Today we are left wondering what that was all about now that Sec. of State John Kerry has gone to Cuba for a flag-raising speech in front of the newly christened US Embassy and a brief walkabout in Old Havana.The gist of Kerry’s remarks is that Cuba should improve its behavior according to Kerry’s prescriptions. Apparently, he hasn’t been listening to the Cubans, who want the United States to get rid of the thick accumulation of obnoxious and warlike behaviors, starting with the blockade (embargo) and not forgetting to abandon the US gulag at Guantánamo.

So far the United States has offered no rational justifications for these behaviors as it seeks “normalization,” but we should at least look at how they originated. As terrifying as history is to leaders in Washington, we will take one of the key bright ideas — the (ongoing) manipulation of Cuban immigration as an example of how far it is from here to “normal.”

Creating the exile pool

Normalization has so far not included an end to the Cuban Adjustment Act, which encourages Cubans to become undocumented aliens. Mexicans are told to stay home or “get in line” for a green card, but Cubans who reach US shores can be fast-tracked to citizenship.

The approach to Cuban immigration after 1959 oscillated between a desire to encourage it for propaganda advantage and a concern that Fidel Castro might oblige by releasing an unmanageable torrent. A manageable number could give propagandists the chance to picture every Cuban who left by whatever means, including rafts, as a political refugee from communist tyranny. Too many could strain public services wherever the Cubans landed, create social friction and cost the taxpayers a lot of money. Jesús Arboleya Cervera has written that

…immigration was intimately related to the policies conducted by the United States against the island, conceived to drain Cuba of its human capital, dismantle the social structure, and create abroad the social bases for a counter-revolutionary movement that had no cohesion inside the island.


Why Do Parrots Talk?

Why Do Parrots Talk?

And do they know what they’re saying?

By Ashley P. Taylor
August 06, 2015

Alex the parrot counts red and blue objects at the behest of his owner, Dr. Irene Pepperberg.
Photo: Jeff Topping for The New York Times/Redux

Of all the creatures on Earth, only two can produce human language: humans…and birds. Of the few birds that can imitate human speech, including mynah birds, crows, and ravens, parrots are clearly the best at it—they give TED talks, speak multiple languages, and even front heavy metal bands. So why can parrots talk when our closer primate relatives cannot?

Parrots are vocal learners, meaning they grasp sounds by hearing and then imitating them. Although several other bird species can discern and repeat sounds, parrots are the pros.

Erich Jarvis, a Duke University neuroscientist and vocal learning expert, recently published a study in Plos One explaining why. Any bird that’s a vocal learner has a part of the brain devoted to this, called the ‘song system.’ But in parrots, the song system has two layers—an inner ‘core,’ common to all avian vocal learners, and an outer ‘shell,’ which is unique to parrots. Jarvis thinks that this recently discovered ‘shell’ is what allows parrots to be such expert mimickers (though he hasn’t figured out exactly how it works yet).

But why do they copy human speech? Peer pressure, it turns out. Parrots naturally try to fit in, be it among other parrots or other people.


Observers warn for apparent Bogota election fraud attempts

Observers warn for apparent Bogota election fraud attempts
Posted by Grace Brown on Aug 27, 2015

Electoral observers on Wednesday reported an unusually high increase in voter registrations, an indicator of possible voter fraud, for upcoming mayoral elections in Bogota.

The Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) said that the amount of people registered to vote has more than doubled in the Martires, Candelaria and Teusaquillo neighborhoods. According to the MOE, Bogota is known to have low electoral participation in all of its local elections, compared to the rest of the country, with 47.4% turnout in the mayoral elections compared to the 57.3% national average.

The director of the MOE, Aura Rodriguez said that,”in neighborhoods like Candelaria the registration of voters has increased by 213% in one month. In Martires it increased by 125% between July and August and in Teusaquillo the abnormal behavior increased by 97% in 27 days.”

Rodriguez called to the authorities “to investigate the irregularities”, mentioning previous cases in the neighborhoods of Egipto and Concordia where citizens were buying and selling votes.


Unfinished business between Cuba and the United States

Unfinished business between Cuba and the United States

Carmelo Ruiz

A memorial erected in recognition of the 73 passengers and 5 crew killed in the crash of Cubana Flight 455 in October, 6. 1976.
Photo by BCF.

Even with the resumption of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana, the two countries have unfinished business to take care of. There is the issue of terrorism — the terrorism that U.S.-based exile extremist outfits perpetrated against Cuba.

These groups sought for decades through violence and terror to prevent a rapprochement between Cuba and the United States. Their attacks included arson, bombings and targeted assassinations and claimed many Cuban lives. Declassified documents show the CIA trained a lot of these terrorists in the early 1960s as part of the failed Bay of Pigs landing and the violent Operation Mongoose directed toward regime change in Cuba.

Cuban exiles participated in the infamous Operation Condor, set up by South American dictatorships to eliminate their foes abroad. It included the 1976 murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in the streets of Washington, D.C., a crime that Cuban expatriates carried out.

The vilest of all acts that these U.S.-based extremists committed was the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger airliner in Barbados, in which all 73 occupants were killed. Exile militant Luis Posada Carriles has been directly linked to this crime in declassified CIA and FBI documents. He is currently free and living in Miami, and the Cuban government is requesting his extradition.


There have been almost 100 mass shootings this summer, according to this site

Over one a day

There have been almost 100 mass shootings this summer, according to this site

by Daniel Rivero
August 27, 2015 4:13 p.m.

Yesterday, as the world’s eyes were fixed on the shooting of two journalists on live TV in Virginia, two separate tragedies were unfolding elsewhere.

In West Palm Beach, Fl., a drive-by shooting left two dead and two wounded. It raised the total homicide count for Palm Beach County to 62 so far this year, the Palm Beach Post reported.

About 1,300 miles away, a man was killed and three others were wounded in a shooting at a Chicago park. Throughout the day, at least eight people were wounded by gunfire in the city, the Chicago Tribune noted.

It has been a hot and bloody summer. Since June 21st, the first day of the season, there have been 93 mass shootings in the United States, according to ShootingTracker.com, a crowdsourced site. A shooting in Salinas, Ca. that killed two and left two wounded happened just as I was writing this.


An arugula-growing farmer feeds a culinary revolution in Cuba

An arugula-growing farmer feeds a culinary revolution in Cuba

By Nick Miroff August 21 

Farm owner Fernando Funes Monzote laughs as he is greeted by an arriving worker. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

CAIMITO, Cuba — Like all homestead stories, Fernando Funes Monzote’s starts with an epic battle against harsh elements and long odds.

Funes, a university-trained agronomist, settled on a badly eroded, brushy hillside here outside Havana four years ago and began digging a well into the rocky soil. The other farmers nearby thought he was crazy, or worse — a dilettante with a fancy PhD whose talk of “agroecology” would soon crash into the realities of Cuban farming.

Funes had no drill, so he and a helper had to break through layers of rock with picks and hand tools. Seven months later and 50 feet down, they struck a gushing spring of cool, clear water.

“To me, it was a metaphor for agroecology,” said Funes, 44, referring to the environmentally minded farm management techniques he studied here and in the Netherlands. “A lot of hard work by hand, and persistence, but a result that is worth the effort.”


Florida sheriff claims there is ‘Absolutely no evidence’ man in mug shot was beaten

Florida sheriff claims there is ‘Absolutely no evidence’ man in mug shot was beaten

by theGrio | August 25, 2015 at 1:23 PM

(Martin County Sheriff's Office)

fter pictures of a bloody mug shot began to circulate, a Florida sheriff claimed that there was “absolutely no evidence” that the man in the picture had been beaten by a police officer.

According to the report filed by Martin County Deputy William Jaques, 31-year-old Jamell Adamson did not immediately pull over when Jaques tried to stop him for expired tags, and when Adamson did pull over, Jaques tried to grab him but was pushed away, at which point Adamson tried to flee.

According to the arrest report, Jaques warned Adamson to stop before he deployed his Taser to stop him, at which point Adamson fell, and the bloody injuries to his face occurred when he hit the ground.

“He made it clear he wasn’t going to surrender peacefully,” Sheriff William Snyder said on Monday. “So the deployment of that taser was 100% within our guidelines.”


Cuba’s medical breakthroughs have caught U.S. attention

Cuba’s medical breakthroughs have caught U.S. attention

Cuban biotech researchers work in a clinic in Cuba. Many in the Tampa Bay area medical community hope warming relations between the two nations helps the U.S. benefit from Cuban medical successes. One Tampa medical center is said to be interested in bringing Cuban doctors here. MEDICC

By Paul Guzzo | Tribune Staff
Published: August 2, 2015 | Updated: August 2, 2015 at 10:49 AM

TAMPA — As relations with Cuba improve, many people in Tampa are hoping for easier access to one export item the island nation has made famous — premium cigars. But there’s far more at stake with another product developed in Cuba — a treatment for lung cancer, the disease most commonly caused by tobacco smoking.

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa is one American institution that has expressed interest in the Cuban drug CimaVax, recently sending representatives to the island nation.

In addition, an unnamed Tampa medical center is said to be interested in bringing doctors here from Cuba. And local cancer survivors and their families are traveling to Cuba to learn more from their counterparts there.

“As the doors open wider between our countries, there will be other medical benefits,” said Candace Johnson, CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, which is seeking FDA approval to run a clinical trial on CimaVax.


Soto Cano/Palmerola, hot topic between the US/Zelaya. The US won, of course,

thanks to the convenient coup at just the right moment:

July 22, 2009
Zelaya, Negroponte and the Controversy at Soto Cano

The Coup and the U.S. Airbase in Honduras


The mainstream media has once again dropped the ball on a key aspect of the ongoing story in Honduras: the U.S. airbase at Soto Cano, also known as Palmerola. Prior to the recent military coup d’etat President Manuel Zelaya declared that he would turn the base into a civilian airport, a move opposed by the former U.S. ambassador. What’s more Zelaya intended to carry out his project with Venezuelan financing.

For years prior to the coup the Honduran authorities had discussed the possibility of converting Palmerola into a civilian facility. Officials fretted that Toncontín, Tegucigalpa’s international airport, was too small and incapable of handling large commercial aircraft. An aging facility dating to 1948, Toncontín has a short runway and primitive navigation equipment. The facility is surrounded by hills which makes it one of the world’s more dangerous international airports.

Palmerola by contrast has the best runway in the country at 8,850 feet long and 165 feet wide. The airport was built more recently in the mid-1980s at a reported cost of $30 million and was used by the United States for supplying the Contras during America’s proxy war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua as well as conducting counter-insurgency operations in El Salvador. At the height of the Contra war the U.S. had more than 5,000 soldiers stationed at Palmerola. Known as the Contras’ “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” the base housed Green Berets as well as CIA operatives advising the Nicaraguan rebels.

More recently there have been some 500-to-600 U.S. troops on hand at the facility which serves as a Honduran air force base as well as a flight-training center. With the exit of U.S. bases from Panama in 1999, Palmerola became one of the few usable airfields available to the U.S. on Latin American soil. The base is located approximately 30 miles north of the capital Tegucigalpa.


~ ~ ~

The Latin America mistake

Memo to Secretary Kerry: Stop funding the bad guys in Honduras.

February 12, 2013|By Dana Frank

The United States is expanding its military presence in Honduras on a spectacular scale. The Associated Press reported this month in an investigative article that Washington in 2011 authorized $1.3 billion for U.S. military electronics in Honduras. This is happening while the post-coup regime of Honduran President Porfirio Lobo is more out of control than ever, especially since the Honduran Congress staged a "technical coup" in December.

But as the Obama administration deepens its partnership with Honduras, ostensibly to fight the drug war, Democrats in Congress are increasingly rebelling. Here's a message, then, for new Secretary of State John Kerry: Recast U.S. policy in Honduras and the murderous drug war that justifies it.

In the last few years, the U.S. has been ramping up its military operations throughout Latin America in what the Associated Press called "the most expensive initiative in Latin America since the Cold War." The buildup has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $20 billion since 2002, for troops, ships, clandestine bases, radar, military and police training and other expenses.

U.S. military expenditures for Honduras in particular have gone up every year since 2009, when a military coup deposed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. At $67.4 million, 2012 Defense Department contracts for Honduras are triple those of 10 years ago. The U.S. spent $25 million last year to make the U.S. barracks at the Soto Cano air base permanent, and $89 million to keep 600 U.S. troops based there. U.S. direct aid to the Honduran military and police continues to climb as well.


~ ~ ~

A Tale of Two Elections: Iran and Hondura

Michael Corcoran

. . .

The near monolithic consistency with which U.S. media outlets heralded the “peaceful” and “fair” election dramatically conflicts with the many reports of voter intimidation, violent repression, and the large boycott of opponents of the coup who did not even run a candidate. Amnesty International released several reports of voter intimidation and other such problems.10 The vast majority of foreign governments, as well as virtually every election-monitoring agency in the world, refused to accept the results of the election.11 Video footage plainly showing state violence against protesters demanding the return of their democratically elected leader were circulated widely on the Internet.12

“Since Zelaya was overthrown by the military in June, 4,000 have been arrested, hundreds beaten and hospitalised and dozens charged with sedition,” noted Calvin Tucker in the U.K. Guardian. “Yet more have been kidnapped, raped, tortured, ‘disappeared’ and assassinated.”13 Those relying solely on U.S. mainstream media outlets, however, would likely have no idea how brazenly corrupt the election was.

Further, media outlets like Bloomberg reported the Honduran Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s grossly exaggerated turnout numbers of about 61%. The correct number, it would later be revealed, would turn out to be below 50%.14 But by the time the truth came out, these false numbers had already been used to justify recognition of the sham elections by some nations, including the United States. The “turnout appears to have exceeded that of the last presidential election,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “This shows that given the opportunity to express themselves, the Honduran people have viewed the election as an important part of the solution to the political crisis in their country.”15

Few media outlets provided any of the crucial context for understanding the coup and its aftermath. Few noted that the Honduran military that carried out the coup is funded and trained by the United States. Nor did many outlets report that during the coup, the plane carrying the kidnapped Zelaya—still in his pajamas—landed and refueled at Soto Cano, a military base shared by the United States and Honduras.16 While the media did report on the occasional condemnations of the coup made by U.S. leaders, it downplayed the U.S. decisions to treat the coup authorities as legitimate political actors, to continue providing them with the flow of substantial aid, and to refuse to use its significant diplomatic muscle to assure Zelaya’s return to power.17 Moreover, according to a report by the Institute for Southern Studies, General Romeo Vásquez, a leader of the Honduran armed forces and a political opponent of Zelaya, was trained at the School of the Americas (now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation)—the Georgia-based military school well-known for training Latin American authorities who have been charged with various human rights abuses.18 But despite these clear connections between the United States and the coup government, the media continued to report as if the United States were not enabling it and its many abuses.


~ ~ ~

June 11, 2012 Issue

Honduras: Which Side Is the US On?

In the name of fighting drugs, the Obama administration has allied itself with a corrupt coup regime.


Dana Frank

. . .

 What’s driving the administration’s aggressive policy? The United States has long regarded Honduras, its most captive client state in Latin America, as strategically important. As in the 1980s, when Honduras served as the US base for the contra war against Nicaragua, the country is the regional hub for US military operations in Central America. It received more than $50 million in Pentagon contracts last year, including $24 million to make the barracks at the Soto Cano Air Base permanent for the first time since 1954. Soto Cano has great strategic significance as the only US air base between the United States and South America. Sixty-two percent of all Defense Department funds for Central America in 2011 went to Honduras.


Chile Is About to Decriminalize Marijuana

Chile Is About to Decriminalize Marijuana

The moves in Santiago highlight a growing movement toward acceptance of pot in Latin America.

By Olivia Marple / Council on Hemispheric Affairs
August 21, 2015

With its proposed changes to Ley 20.000 (Law 20,000), Chile joins a growing list of Latin American countries decriminalizing marijuana. The initiative, which would grant Chileans the right to possess up to 10 grams of cannabis and grow up to six marijuana plants at a time, was passed in Chile’s Chamber of Deputies on July 7 with 68 voting in favor and 39 against. The bill must first be adjusted by a health commission and then passed by the Senate before it officially becomes law, but strong support for cannabis legalization in the country illustrates that legalizing marijuana use appears to be the new norm in the Western Hemisphere and, once again, that the War on Drugs has been a failed campaign.

Support for Legalization

The future of legalization is most apparent in the opinion of Latin American young adults on the War on Drugs. In a 2012 poll of 18 to 34-year-olds in the region by Asuntos del Sur (Southern Affairs), 79 percent of Chileans “voiced strong approval” for legalization, 52 percent disapproved of government campaigns attempting to reduce drug use, and 54 percent did not support current government policies on drugs.

In Chilean society at large, those in favor of legalizing the use and cultivation of pot are also in the majority. Fifty percent of Chileans are in favor while 45 percent are against, according to a 2014 poll carried out by Cadem, a Chilean market and public opinion investigation company. When polls address the legalization of medical marijuana, this figure skyrockets to 86 percent in favor. These numbers are especially significant when one considers that Chile is one of the more socially conservative countries in South America and indicate that support for legalization is becoming a mainstream opinion, rather than a progressive pipe dream.

So far, it is legal to smoke marijuana with varying restrictions in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. After creating a legal marijuana market in 2013, Uruguay in particular has been deemed a “trailblazer” on this issue. However, there have been delays in implementing the government-regulated system. In March, the Spanish newspaper El País reported that cultivating the drug had become legal in Uruguay and that an estimated 2,000 people had enrolled in the official register, a slower registration rate than originally expected. One factor slowing implementation of the law in Uruguay is concern surrounding the safety of marijuana on the part of some pharmacy chains in the country.

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