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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 94,593

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The Dominican Time Bomb

The Dominican Time Bomb


In early 2006, my first long-term overseas posting as a journalist took me to the Dominican Republic. From my new home in Santo Domingo, I planned to write about tourism, baseball, corruption and drug trafficking, while working on my Spanish. If things went well, I figured, I might even get to cross the island of Hispaniola’s international border, into Haiti, whose chronic crises — including a recent coup d’état that had overthrown the president — drew more international interest.

To my surprise, I arrived in the midst of a crisis of the Dominicans’ own. Two dozen Haitian immigrants had suffocated in the back of a van headed toward Santo Domingo. Each year, thousands of Haitians venture east into the Dominican Republic in search of low-wage jobs in agriculture and construction and at the big all-inclusive resorts. The 69 migrants in the van paid about $70 each to be stuffed in like cattle, with no room to breathe. Dominican police officers learned of their deaths when the drivers began throwing bodies out of the van as it sped down the highway.

A couple of weeks after the van tragedy, with tensions over immigration running high, people in a central Dominican town burned the homes of Haitians and Dominican-born people of Haitian descent (the Dominican media and politicians tend to lump the two groups together, simply referring to both as haitianos). The arsonists were set off by rumors — never proven true — that a haitiano had raped a little girl. A major local paper headlined its story, “In Monte de la Jagua, They Don’t Want Haitianos.” The next day’s headline was more ominous: “Haitianos Disappear.” When I called the national police chief for comment, he wondered aloud if the victims had burned their own homes in preparation for leaving the country.

Like so many visitors to the Dominican Republic before and since, I saw a deep vein of racism and xenophobia that a world more interested in the country’s beaches and ballplayers generally prefers to ignore. That changed last month, when news spread of the Caribbean nation’s plan to expel hundreds of thousands of residents of Haitian descent. In broad daylight, the Dominican military showed off buses to transport the deportees; “processing centers” awaited exiles at the border.


Good reads:

The Hidden Script of US Militarization in Honduras

Weekend Edition July 3-5, 2015

Strange Deployment

The Hidden Script of US Militarization in Honduras


On June 2, the United States announced that 180 Marines would be deployed to Honduras as a preventative measure primarily concerning the upcoming hurricane season. Both the U.S. Marines and the White House affirmed that the military mobilization will be temporary and that its functions will only be to protect local citizens in the case of a natural disaster.

Regional specialists, however, fear that the presence of sophisticated U.S. military and surveillance equipment, as well as the sheer number of Marines that the United States brought to the Soto Cano Base Area in Palmerola, signal that this mobilization is the beginning of a new round of expansion of the United States presence in Central America reminiscent of Washington’s practices during the 1980s. These assumptions are based on how the United States has supported the new Honduran government, despite it being established by the illegitimate removal of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from office by military troops on the 28 of June 2009.

Countries in the Americas have been continually skeptical about both the 2009 coup d’état and the statements made by President Barack Obama regarding this issue. In fact, according to the journalist Michael Parenti, certain indicators suggest that the 2009 Honduran coup was sponsored by the United States , especially after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted in her book Hard Choices “that she used the power of her office to make sure that Zelaya would not return to office”. It was later revealed that the cadre of influential lobbyists hired to galvanize support in Washington for the coup have strong ties to both Hillary and Bill Clinton. Additionally, many Latin Americans have made historic links between the United States and the movement that overthrew President Zelaya in 2009 when, unlike his regional counterparts, President Obama shied away from promptly denouncing the military coup in Honduras.

On the other hand, according to a 2009 column written by Noel Brinkerhoff for AllGov, many of the accusations of past U.S. complicity with the military movement in Honduras are based on the fact that, at that moment and still today, a large segment of the Honduran military receives U.S. training. This suggests that the military coup that overthrew President Zelaya would not have succeeded if the United States had not conferred the adequate training. However, what is most disquieting about this situation is that, despite knowing how extensively U.S. military training affects the behavior of Honduran troops, the United States agreed to continue providing strategic help to the Honduran armed forces. The United States thus continues to be targeted with accusations regarding its implication and degree of participation in the 2008 coup that overthrew President Zelaya, most notably since the plane carrying Zelaya out of the country stopped at and was refueled at the U.S. military base at Palmerola. U.S. authorities, however, insist that they had no knowledge of Zelaya being on the plane.


Land & Rights Watch: 3 killings every 2 weeks due to land conflicts and struggles

#NoLandNoLife | Land & Rights Watch: 3 killings every 2 weeks due to land conflicts and struggles

Published: 01 Jul 2015

Short URL: http://farmlandgrab.org/25087

Posted by: Danica Castillo
- See more at: http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/25087#sthash.dX8dfZi2.dpuf

From January to June 2015, there have been about 56 cases of human rights violations related to land conflicts and struggles in Asia and Latin America, with around 510 victims. The victims are mostly indigenous peoples (461 victims or 90% of the total) while the remaining are land activists/community leaders and farmers and agricultural workers.

The data are from the Land & Rights Watch (LR Watch), the latest initiative of PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) to closely monitor and expose human rights abuses against communities opposing land and resource grabbing.

Of the total number of cases, 31 are killings that claimed 36 victims while 6 cases are frustrated killings with 20 victims.

This means that 6 are killed every month - or three every two weeks - among members of indigenous and farming communities as well land activists in Asia and Latin America - in the context of land struggles and conflicts in the first half of 2015.

Most of the killings happened in the Philippines with 15 victims, followed by Honduras (5 victims); Colombia (4); Brazil (3); Indonesia, Pakistan and Mexico (2 each); Thailand Guatemala, and Peru (1 each).

Other common cases are threats and harassment (5 cases, 5 victims); arbitrary arrest and detention (4 cases, 9 victims); and trumped up charges (4 cases, 80 victims).

Overall, most of the human rights violations happened in the Philippines where 21 cases and 384 victims have been monitored. Honduras came in second with 13 cases and 90 victims.

- See more at: http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/25087#sthash.dX8dfZi2.dpuf

National Plutocrat Radio

National Plutocrat Radio

Corporate One-Percenters dominate NPR affiliates' boards

By Aldo Guerrero
Jul 02 2015

For a public radio service, NPR is notoriously known for its lack of diversity within its staff, audience and guests invited onto their shows—problems that NPR has itself acknowledged (6/30/14).

A new FAIR study finds that NPR’s diversity problem also extends into the board of trustees of its most popular member stations: Two out of three board members are male, and nearly three out of four are non-Latino whites. Fully three out of every four trustees of the top NPR affiliates belong to the corporate elite.

FAIR studied the governing boards of the eight most-listened-to NPR affiliate stations, based on Arbitron ratings (Cision, 2/13/13). The stations and their broadcast regions are KQED (San Francisco), WAMU (Washington, DC), WNYC (New York City), KPCC (Los Angeles), WHYY (Philadelphia), WBUR (Boston), WABE (Atlanta) and WBEZ (Chicago). (Two top-rated public stations, KUSC in Los Angeles and WETA in Arlington, Va., were not included in the study because they mainly play classical music rather than having a news/talk format.) Board members were coded by occupation, ethnicity and gender.

Out of the 259 total board members, 194—or 75 percent—have corporate backgrounds. Many of these board members are executives in banks, investment firms, consulting companies and corporate law firms. Some of the elite corporations include Verizon, Bank of America and Citigroup.


The Bolivian town that banned alcohol for a month to stop assaults and sexual abuse

The Bolivian town that banned alcohol for a month to stop assaults and sexual abuse

Video: Vigilantes would shoot firecrackers to warn bars to shut down

Kiran Moodley
Wednesday 01 July 2015

After three minors were raped in less than one week, the residents of a small town of cocoa farmers in Bolivia decided to take the law into their own hands.

With a strong distrust of local law enforcement and a huge amount of anger at the dominance of drug traffickers and car-smugglers in their town, neighbourhood leaders from La Asunta imposed a month-long ban on alcohol and a 10pm curfew for people under 18.

"This has gotten out of hand. The police can't do anything so we've decided to take our own measures and we've called for complying with a 30-day dry law," said Jorge Mendoza, a neighborhood leader in the town some 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of La Paz, the capital.

With the law taking place throughout June, Juan Carlos Coche, another member of the neighbour watch group, said the policy had been a success and there had been a clear drop in alcohol consumption, robberies, assaults and sexual abuses.


Honduras Bleeding

June 29, 2015

The Coup and Its Aftermath

Honduras Bleeding


June 28 marked the six year anniversary of the military coup in Honduras – the day that a democratically elected left wing government was ousted by a US-backed, US-trained cabal of generals and right wing politicians and landowners. It could correctly be called a “Quiet Coup” primarily because it took place with very little fanfare from the corporate media which, to the extent that it covered it at all, did so mostly from a distorted perspective which spread more misinformation than truth. Today, six years (and many innocent lives, and billions of dollars) later, this shameful moment in recent history still remains largely forgotten.

Perhaps it was the lingering euphoria felt by liberals and so-called progressives in the months after Obama’s election and inauguration. Perhaps it was the still new economic crisis and subsequent bailout and financial turmoil. Perhaps it was plain old imperialistic, neocolonial disregard for Latin America and the rights of the people unfortunate enough to be living in “America’s backyard.” Whatever the reason, the fact remains that the Obama administration and those who supported it, then and now, are complicit in an ongoing political, economic, and social tragedy in Honduras.

But why bring it up now, other than to mark the anniversary of the coup? For starters, because one of the primary participants and benefactors happens to be the likely Democratic Party presidential candidate: Hillary Clinton. Also, far from being a discrete episode of US imperialism’s sordid past, the coup and its legacy remain a driving force in Honduran politics and society today. The beneficiaries and participants are all still either in government or have shifted to the private sector, and continue to enrich themselves at the cost of the poor and working people of the country. The coup government of Honduras continues to wage a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against minority communities to benefit itself and its patrons from the US and elsewhere.

Perhaps most importantly, the coup of 2009 reveals the extent to which the United States remains a neocolonial, imperial power in Latin America, and reminds us of just what countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador have been struggling against. It illustrates in the starkest terms the human cost of Washington’s policies, not in books about a historical period, but in images and videos of a country under its thumb today. It reminds us just how real the struggle still is.


More Uribe aides to be charged, this time over paramilitary visit to presidential palace

More Uribe aides to be charged, this time over paramilitary visit to presidential palace
Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Jun 30, 2015

Colombia’s prosecution is planning to file criminal charges against the former press secretary and the former judicial adviser of Colombian ex-president Alvaro Uribe for meeting with a paramilitary representative, reported Caracol Radio on Tuesday.

According to the radio station, former Press Secretary Cesar Mauricio Velasquez and former Judicial Secretary Edmundo del Castillo will have to respond before the court over accusations they conspired with demobilized paramilitaries to fabricate false accusations against members of the Supreme Court that was investigating ties between the demobilized paramilitary organization AUC and politicians.

The former spokesman of paramilitary group AUC, Antonio “Job” Lopez, allegedly met with Velasquez, former Cauca governor Juan Jose Chaux, as well as Uribe’s then presidential adviser, current Senator Jose Obdulio Gaviria and former intelligence executive Marta Leal, who is currently in prison.

. . .

According to Don Berna, the meeting in the presidential palace “gave more solidity to the relations we had with the national government” and was the beginning of a collaboration between demobilized paramilitaries, intelligence agency DAS and the Uribe government to conspire against the Supreme Court, which was investigating ties between paramilitaries and dozens of Uribe allies in Congress.


Speeding to extinction? The fate of Pacific bluefin tuna may be decided this week

Speeding to extinction? The fate of Pacific bluefin tuna may be decided this week

By Melissa Cronin June 29 2015

Pacific bluefin tuna are hurtling toward extinction, and a meeting of the minds in Ecuador this week may be their last hope.

The meeting, set for Guayaquil, the county's largest and most populous city, is bringing together representatives from member countries of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), the organisation that governs management of Pacific tuna fisheries. One of their main goals: to figure out how to prevent one of the world’s most valuable fisheries from collapsing.

The past decade has been a disastrous one for Pacific bluefin tuna. Listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), its populations are at just 4 percent of what they were before commercial fishers began capturing them by the thousands. Now, according to a recent study, only about 40,000 adult Pacific bluefin tuna remain.

“If we keep on this track, it’s bad news,” warns Oceana's Max Bello. “We can only expect crash of this stock.”

The Ecuador gathering, to be held from June 29 to July 3, is a chance for countries to agree to enact catch quotas that could save the Pacific bluefin. Failure to do so could lead to their collapse.


On the streets of Cuba

On the streets of Cuba

Painstakingly maintained cars are a 'living museum' of pre-1959 design

By Bradford Wernle RSS feed
Published June 28, 2015 - 12:01 am ET

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba — I climb into the back seat of a fire-engine red 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air taxi owned by Argelio Pena Mendoza here in Cuba’s second largest city. Mendoza turns the key, and the ancient inline six-cylinder engine wheezes and rumbles to life in a haze of exhaust smoke. He shoves the car’s three-on-the-tree shift lever into first, and we’re off.

Only Mendoza knows the secret of how the door handles work, so he lets me and my friend Tom in and out of the 58-year-old car as we tour Santiago’s highlights, including San Juan Hill, where Teddy Roose-velt’s Rough Riders won their biggest victory of the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Mendoza, a 60-ish man, pulls into a gas station. I wait for him to flip open the little chrome door on the left rear fin behind which the 1957 Chevy’s gas cap is famously concealed. But Mendoza’s car has no gas tank. Instead, he hoists the hood and pumps gasoline into a pair of 1-gallon plastic bottles under the hood in front of the radiator. These bottles are connected to the fuel pump by plastic lines. Mendoza opens the trunk to show me a hole in the floor through which I can see the road below.

“Maybe someday I will find a gas tank,” he says with a shrug. For now, he must make do, as do so many Cubans, whose mechanical resourcefulness never ceases to amaze me.


Cuba's warming relations with the US may undermine its agroecological city farms

Cuba's warming relations with the US may undermine its agroecological city farms

Julia Wright & Emily Morris
27th June 2015

Lettuce on an Organic Farm in Havana, Cuba.
Photo: David Schroeder via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Cuba is a global exemplar of organic, agroecological farming, taking place on broad swathes of land in and around its cities, write Julia Wright & Emily Morris. These farms cover 14% of the country's agricultural land, employ 350,000 people, and produce half the country's fruit and vegetables. But can they survive exposure to US agribusiness?

For more than 20 years, Cuba has been developing a sophisticated urban and suburban food system, producing healthy food, improving the environment and providing employment. But how will the sector survive if the economy opens up to US agricultural and industrial trade and investment?

The first urban farms emerged spontaneously in Cuba out of the hardships of the early 1990s. People in towns and cities began to cultivate urban waste land and keep small livestock as a coping strategy.

Possibly the first co-ordinated effort was the Santa Fe project in the north-west of Havana City, initiated in 1991. Taking advantage of the available resources within the community, empty urban space was reclaimed for food production to help overcome irregular and inadequate food supplies.


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