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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 95,258

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US Aid To El Salvador Came With Strings Attached: Monsanto Seeds Required

US Aid To El Salvador Came With Strings Attached: Monsanto Seeds Required

El Salvador previously took steps toward banning glyphosate, the potential carcinogen found in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

By MintPress News Desk | July 13, 2015

A protestor demonstrates against Monsanto in the annual world March Against Monsanto.

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Farmers and activists for natural agriculture in El Salvador successfully resisted efforts by the U.S. government to tie foreign aid to the use of GMO seeds, in the latest attempt to link relief money with profits for Monsanto, the controversial multinational agribusiness giant.

In 2013, the U.S. offered El Salvador $277 million in aid through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a foreign aid agency established under President George W. Bush. Then, in 2014, Dahr Jamail reports for Truthout, U.S. officials started putting increased pressure on the Central American country to make “economic and environmental policy changes” in return for receiving the next phase of the aid package. A key part of the disagreement involved programs to provide locally produced seeds to poor farmers, which officials argued violated the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement by favoring local products over those produced by multinational corporations.

For his 2014 article, Jamail interviewed Nathan Weller, policy director for the NGO EcoViva, who argued that when Salvadoran farmers are allowed to grow traditional crops, they outproduce modern GMO alternatives. “Domestic producers have proven their ability to cultivate a quality product to government standards, offered at a significantly lower price than what the government had historically paid for conventional seed supplied, by-in-large, by a singular Monsanto affiliate,” Weller explained. Efforts to encourage use indigenous corn seeds locally put millions into the local economy and produced record corn yields in 2013, he also noted.

Armed with evidence of the effectiveness of traditional agriculture when supported by the government, El Salvador successfully pushed back against the U.S. government, allowing it to continue to provide non-GMO seed to subsistence farmers while still receiving the valuable aid. According to Jamail’s latest report, published last week, the most recent round of contracts to provide seeds for farm aid programs relies exclusively on these local producers.


Ritual music from the silence of nature: The transcendent music of Lulacruza

Ritual music from the silence of nature: The transcendent music of Lulacruza
August 2, 2015
3:49 PM MST

Lulacruza is made up of percussionist and electronic musician Luis Maurette and singer/songwriter Alejandra Ortiz. The duo doesn’t set out to create something that is “cool” or even unique, yet, the music they create is indeed that. Interlacing the silence that comes from nature and the potent effects of “ritual music” with their backgrounds in the myriad rhythms and timbres of their native Ecuador and Columbia, Lulacruza creates a very profound impact on their audiences. Visits to places like Ecuador, Mexico, and Chile, along with their time together at Boston’s Berklee College of Music has also added to the original electronic folk compositions the two carry.

The “electronic folk” label doesn’t quite seem to describe what Lulacruza does. It is, however, a quick synthesis for those who had been asking for a description from the duo. It was challenging for them to sum up a project that incorporated electronic elements, folk music and folklore, but the label seemed to stick.

“From Jagadera from Argentina to Samba from Brazil, all of these different styles, they influence us,” relates Luis Maurette in an exclusive interview with Examiner.com. He describes Lulacruza’s music as a fusion of all the influences they have touched; the rhythms, the people, and even vibration itself. “We don’t try to copy a style or genre when we set out to do a song,” he says, “but we kind of listen to the essential elements of that music and take from that.”

What was the genesis of the band? How did Alejandra and yourself come together?

Alejandra spent all of her childhood in Columbia and really traveled and spent time with indigenous cultures in Columbia. I kind of traveled around; my family was a little bit more nomadic. I spent time as a kid in Ecuador, Mexico, and Chile. I got a sense of different cultures, different ways of being, and also things that are the same no matter where you are. Then, we both came to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston and that’s where we met. Really, what clicked for us was that we both had a really strong interest in ritual music.


Mexican journalist found slain with signs of torture

Source: Associated Press

Mexican journalist found slain with signs of torture
August 2, 2015, 4:04 PM

MEXICO CITY - A photojournalist who was found slain in Mexico City after he fled harassment in his home state appears to have been tortured before he was shot to death, the head of a free press advocacy group said Sunday.

Ruben Espinosa sustained severe injuries to his face before he was killed, said Dario Ramirez, director of the Article 19 group.

Espinosa was found dead late Friday in an apartment in Mexico City. Three women who lived in the apartment and their housekeeper also were killed. They, too, appeared to have been tortured and sexually assaulted before being shot, Ramirez said.

Espinosa worked for the investigative magazine, Proceso, and other media. He had fled to the capital in June after being harassed in his home state of Veracruz.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mexican-journalist-ruben-espinosa-found-slain-signs-of-torture/

Oaxaca, Mexico, Faces Police Militarization as Governor Acts to Preempt Education Protests

Oaxaca, Mexico, Faces Police Militarization as Governor Acts to Preempt Education Protests
Saturday, 01 August 2015 00:00
By Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F., Truthout | Report

Thousands of federal and state police troops were dispatched in mid-July to the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico to guard strategic buildings, patrol the skies and ensure that protesters cannot take over local radio stations.

The aim of this heightened police militarization? To prevent protesting teachers from exerting pressure on the administration of Gabino Cué Monteagudo, the current governor of Oaxaca, in their efforts to resist nationally imposed education reforms.

Protesting teachers have argued that the reforms, which were approved in 2013 by the Federal Congress and are being implemented in every state in Mexico, seek to reframe education as a private service, replacing current teachers with new workers who work on contract and have no labor rights.

This is not an education reform as much as it is a labor reform; what they want is for the state to stop offering free and public education," said Dolores Villalobos, a teacher and member of the Section 22 teacher's union, which is part of the National Organization of Education Workers (CNTE).


Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism

July 31, 2015
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism

by Pete Dolack

Puerto Rico’s governor may have said the commonwealth’s debt is unpayable, but that doesn’t mean Puerto Ricans aren’t going to pay for it. Vulture capitalists are circling the island, ready to extract still more wealth from the impoverished island.

You already know the drill: Capital is sucked out by corporate interests that pay little in taxes, budget deficits grow and speculators swoop in to take advantage, leaving working people holding the bag. Already, the Puerto Rican government is considering imposing an 11 percent cut to Medicare and Medicaid for 2016 and more than 600 schools may be closed in the next five years on top of the 150 already closed by budget cuts.

To ensure more austerity, a group of hedge funds hired three former International Monetary Fund economists to issue a report on what Puerto Rico should do. And — surprise! — the report, released this week, says to lay off teachers, cut education spending and sell public assets to provide money for hedge funds.

The crisis has already been profitable for Wall Street as banks and law firms racked up $1.4 billion in fees from 86 bond deals that raised $62 billion for the island between 2006 and 2013 alone. Because of downgrades in Puerto Rico’s credit rating, Wall Street can demand hundreds of millions more in lending fees, credit-default-swap termination fees and higher interest rates.


Leopoldo López Is Not Venezuela’s Savior

 Leopoldo López Is Not Venezuela’s Savior

Despite US support, the revolutionary has only succeeded in pushing like-minded opposition leaders far, far away.

By Greg Grandin
Yesterday 11:58 am

 Roberto Lovato has just published a great investigative essay in Foreign Policy on Leopoldo López, the jailed darling of Venezuela’s opposition. López is celebrated in the US press as a cross between Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He is handsome, like King, and, like Gandhi, occasionally shirtless. Newsweek blushes over López’s “twinkling chocolate-colored eyes and high cheekbones.” He is, apparently, a “revolutionary who has it all”: an “attractive and supportive wife, two children who get along with each other and impossibly adorable Labrador puppies.” Everything except a revolution.

Drawing on WikiLeaked cables, Lovato reveals how López over the years has been handled by the US embassy in Caracas. (Roberto told me that 15 minutes after a colleague of his posted the FP article on social media, someone from the US embassy e-mailed and said, “You should really come to me when it comes to Venezuela.”) Despite this support, though, López remains a divisive figure within Venezuela, and Lovato’s piece helps explain why the opposition can’t get its act together, despite opportunities offered by serious economic problems and rampant corruption.

A few years ago, not long after Hugo Chávez’s March 2013 death and the razor-thin election of Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, López was at the center of a middle-class putsch attempt, protests that resulted in numerous deaths. It was as if all the rich, white gentry from LA’s Beverly Park started building barricades and stringing steel wire from lamppost to lamppost to decapitate motorcycle taxi drivers (as what happened to Venezuelan Elvis Durán), with the US media reporting on events as if it were Selma 1965.

Following these protests, López was arrested “on charges of arson, public incitement, and conspiracy.” His arrest got international attention, but, Lovato writes, “López’s trial has proceeded largely without fanfare…. López’s court dates in Caracas have generally attracted only small groups of supporters outside the courthouse, led by Lilian Tintori, López’s wife. Other key opposition leaders have stayed away, though they routinely voice support for López’s release. A recent campaign by his party, Voluntad Popular, to convene an assembly to rewrite the constitution and reorganize the government attracted criticism, with the leader of a rival opposition party calling for ‘responsibility and maturity’ and one opposition governor calling for an end to ‘anarchy or guarimbas,’ the street barricades that were the preferred tactic of López’s youthful followers.”

 López’s claim to lead the Venezuelan opposition rests on his insistence that he had nothing to do with the failed April 2002 coup against Chávez. But Lovato nicely shows this insistence to be a lie. Then mayor of a rich Caracas municipality, López was everywhere those April days, rallying crowds, appearing on TV. His “most controversial episode,” as Lovato describes it, was leading a crowd to surround the house where a Chávez minister was laying low, picking up a megaphone to charge the minister with murder: “Justice will be imposed,” López said. López’s anti-Chavistas beat the minister in the street and then kidnapped him. López, in other words, is a thug. Ted Cruz with a mob.


Former AK-47 Dealer Goes Cyber, Supplied Surveillance Tools to Honduras Government

Former AK-47 Dealer Goes Cyber, Supplied Surveillance Tools to Honduras Government
Lee Fang
July 27 2015, 1:24 p.m.

Ori Zoller made headlines over a decade ago selling thousands of AK-47s that eventually found their way into the hands of terrorists in Colombia.

Now, according to recently leaked documents, the former small arms dealer is working as cyber arms dealer, supplying the government of Honduras with powerful surveillance tools used to spy on computers and cell phones.

The revelations are contained in the internal files and emails from Hacking Team, an Italian company that has sold spyware to repressive regimes and law enforcement agencies around the world, including Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. The Hacking Team files were dumped on the web by an anonymous source.

Zoller, a former member of the Israeli special forces, acted as the middleman for Hacking Team to sell its surveillance equipment to the Honduran government, a relationship that was formalized in July 2014, according to Hacking Team records. The records show the Hondurans paid at least $355,000 for the software, which is used to seize control of a target’s computer or cell phone, with the ability to track an individual’s movements, log their keystrokes and even activate their computer camera.


For a Glimpse of Plan Central America's Future, Look to Colombia

For a Glimpse of Plan Central America's Future, Look to Colombia
Posted 27 July 2015 17:51 GMT

In an attempt to curb the flow of thousands of unaccompanied children who flee to the US, the Obama administration has proposed ‘Plan Central America’: a US $1 billion aid program for improving the economic and security situation in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, collectively known as the Northern Triangle. The US Congress is expected to vote on it later this summer.

When Vice President Joe Biden presented the plan in an op-ed in the New York Times, he argued for increased training and support for police and armed forces, measures to increase transparency and accountability including strengthening tax collection and encouraging foreign direct investment through market liberalization.

The plan, the vice president wrote, will be modelled after Plan Colombia, continuing a Washington tradition of coupling neoliberal projects with military aid. A similar approach was applied in Mexico with the 2008 implementation of the Mérida Initiative. All three plans have in common a belief that complex social and economic problems, and the outcomes of these, such as a rampant narcotics industry, can be resolved through ramped-up military and security spending.

Revisiting Plan Colombia can be instructive as to what could lie ahead. For over ten years, it provided Colombia with over US $9 billion in military and financial aid aimed at fighting the narcotics industry. As one of the original designers, Biden argues that the program led to “notable improvements in security, governance and human rights”.


Washington Post: Do the world’s ‘uncontacted’ tribes deserve to be left alone?

Do the world’s ‘uncontacted’ tribes deserve to be left alone?
By Ishaan Tharoor July 23

For the first time, anthropologists working for the Peruvian government will attempt to make contact with members of a remote tribe living in the Amazon jungle. The move follows growing concerns about the behavior of the Mascho Piro people, which has included attacks and raids on neighboring communities.

South America, and in particular the vast Amazon region, is home to some of the world's last remaining "uncontacted" tribes -- indigenous communities that, for whatever reason, have managed to exist almost entirely outside the purview of the nation-states in which they technically live. Experts fear a whole slew of risks that may follow should these tribes come into full contact with the outside world, from exploitation by rapacious mining and logging companies to the devastating transfer of pathogens to which they have no immunity.

In recent decades, some governments have taken a protective stance, working to shield these communities from outside contact mostly because of the health risks involved. After all, some estimates suggest contact with outside diseases killed up to 100 million indigenous people following the European arrival in the Americas.

Peru bars contact with about a dozen "uncontacted" Amazonian tribes living within its borders, a positive departure from an earlier time when the government would not even recognize their existence. Brazil has its own federal agency responsible for indigenous peoples. In 2011, it allowed cameras to document unprecedented aerial footage of its observations over the jungle.


Guatemala: Ex-dictator’s daughter clear for presidential run

Guatemala: Ex-dictator’s daughter clear for presidential run
Jul 2015 Friday 24th

GUATEMALA’S Supreme Court has ruled that the daughter of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt can run for president.

The decision on Wednesday clears the way for Zury Rios Sosa to be selected as presidential candidate for her father’s Christian conservative Vision with Values (Viva) party.

Guatemala’s constitution bans relatives of dictators or coup leaders from contesting presidential elections.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal had applied the rule to block Ms Rios Sosa’a candidacy on three previous occasions. But on July 16 she sought a Supreme Court injunction to overturn the tribunal’s latest decision.


As you may remember, the genocidal dictator's daughter, Zury
Rios Sosa married Republican former Congressman Jerry Weller.

Zury Rios Sosa following her father, the mass murdering, mass torturing genocide specialist,
beloved by right-wing actor Ronald Reagan & US fundie evangialists, Efrain Rios Montt through the door.

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