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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 100,628

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15 Years and $10 Billion Later, U.S. Efforts to Curb Colombia’s Cocaine Trade Have Failed

15 Years and $10 Billion Later, U.S. Efforts to Curb Colombia’s Cocaine Trade Have Failed

By Megan Alpert
February 8, 2016 - 1:26 pm

Last week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos came to Washington to tout the dual-barreled successes of peace talks with the rebel group FARC and Plan Colombia, an aid program that began in 2000 when the government had control of only a third of its country. At a Feb. 4 reception, U.S. President Barack Obama announced the next phase of the partnership between Bogota and Washington would be called Peace Colombia and hailed “a country that was on the brink of collapse is now on the brink of peace.”

Amid the congratulatory speeches, however, nothing was said about the fact that Plan Colombia has done little to stem the nation’s cocaine exports after 15 years and $10 billion in U.S. aid devoted to what was initially a counter-narcotics program.

Santos did not deny that Colombia remains the world’s No. 1 cocaine producer. “We’ve never been No. 2,” he quipped during a Feb. 3 question-and-answer session hosted by the Wilson Center think-tank in Washington. In fact, Colombia did fall behind Peru for two years, before retaking the top spot in 2014.

Yet Santos also said coca production is expected to go up over the next few years — even though Plan Colombia originally sought to cut in half the country’s drug production by 2006.


Canines Communicate With Their Own 'Howling Dialects,' Study Finds

Canines Communicate With Their Own 'Howling Dialects,' Study Finds
Don't speak red wolf? Turns out grey wolves don't either.

 02/08/2016 03:35 pm ET

Nina Golgowski
Trends reporter, The Huffington Post

A new study has found that canid species -- from wolves and coyotes to dogs and foxes -- communicate with their own “howling dialects.”

A team of international researchers narrowed down 21 types of howls, linking their different pitches and fluctuations to specific species and subspecies, according to a new paper published in next month's edition of the journal Behavioural Processes.

"We found that different species and subspecies showed markedly different use of howl types, indicating that howl modulation is not arbitrary, but can be used to distinguish one population from another," the researchers wrote in the study.

In other words, howl types or "dialects" are similar to how we humans have different languages around the world.

The researchers used computer algorithms to analyze more than 2,000 howls collected from both captive and wild animals in Australia, India, Europe and the United States. The result is what’s being touted as the largest quantitative study of its kind.


AUC founder’s godson commanded ‘Urabeños’ in southwest Colombia: Police

AUC founder’s godson commanded ‘Urabeños’ in southwest Colombia: Police
Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Feb 6, 2016

Colombia police said Friday they have arrested the godson of slain AUC founder Carlos Castaño on charges he commanded the drug trafficking routes of AUC successor group “Urabeños” in southwest Colombia.

Yony Alberto Grajales, a.k.a. “The Godson,” was arrested just outside of the town of Buga, Valle del Cauca.

According to the National Police, Grajales had been sent there by Urabeños chief “Otoniel” three months ago to lead his neo-paramilitary organization’s drug trafficking routes to the Pacific ocean.

The son of the former personal chef of Castaño, one of the most feared paramilitary commanders in the history of Colombia, became one of “Otoniel’s” financial chiefs in Uraba, the birthplace of the AUC that morphed into the Urabeños between 2003 and 2006 when the AUC officially formalized.


Yony Alberto Grajales

The "godfather," Carlos Castaño.

Wikipedia account of WTF happened to Carlos Castaño:

Disappearance and death

Castaño was killed on April 16, 2004. Acting AUC commanders claimed initially that there was an accidental exchange of gunfire between his bodyguards and a separate group of paramilitary fighters.

Other sources within the group and among its dissident factions claimed that he and his men were captured and tortured before being executed and then buried by order of other AUC top leaders (perhaps his own brother Vicente Castaño and Diego Murillo AKA "Don Berna"), who had become increasingly close to narcotraffickers and their trade. Colombian investigators found a makeshift grave and an unidentified body (yet apparently not Castaño's) near the supposed area of the events. Those same sources alleged that the bodies of Castaño and his other companions were dug up and taken to other locations before the investigators could arrive.

The possible death of the AUC co-founder remained in the air and was the subject of wild and rampant speculation. One of the rumours, dating from June 1, 2004, stated that unidentified diplomatic sources told the AFP agency that Castaño may have been spirited away to either Israel or Egypt, via Panama, allegedly with U.S. assistance. No specific reasoning or details regarding this claim were produced and the parties allegedly involved separately denied their participation.

Sources from the AUC and other local militant factions continued to dispute the exact whereabouts of Carlos Castaño. His personal and financial connections between narcotraffickers and other sectors of society could have allowed for their possible collaboration in his conspicuous disappearance or murder. Despite these claims, the truth regarding Castaño's exact condition remained unknown.

On August 23, 2006, Colombia's Attorney General publicly ordered the capture of his brother Vicente Castaño and seven other individuals, accusing them of being involved in Carlos Castaño's apparent death. Alleged witnesses to the crime stated that Castaño's body was apparently dismembered and incinerated.

Castaño's skeleton was recovered from a shallow grave on September 1, 2006 and identified through DNA testing by the Colombian government authorities. His brother's second lieutenant named Jesús Roldán AKA "MonoLeche", a former Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación) guerrilla who later joined the paramilitaries, confessed to his murder and led authorities to the grave.


Climate change may have had a huge impact on ancient South American civilisations

Climate change may have had a huge impact on ancient South American civilisations

Climate change may have brought huge disruption to ancient South American societies before Europeans arrived in 1492, University of Exeter academics have discovered.

The European colonisation of the continent by Europeans had a devastating impact on local communities. It brought warfare, disease epidemics and mass migration, and caused the demise of 95 per cent of Native Americans.

New interdisciplinary research led by the University of Exeter shows alternations to the climate also brought about widespread changes to how people lived during this period. Recent advances in archaeology, paleoecology and climate science show major ecological and climate change also took place in the centuries before the conquest. This contradicts previous assumptions about how ancient societies in this region operated until they had contact with Europeans.

These preliminary findings will be discussed by scientists at a conference in Cornwall this week. International experts in archaeology, ethnohistory, paleoecology and paleoclimatology will be sharing their data and will work to piece together what happened in South America in the years before 1492.

Increases in the amount of rain may have caused changes to land use and wildfires. Research has shown the Llanos de Moxos savannas in Bolivia were seasonally flooded in about AD 1400. The construction of geoglyphs in Acre in Brazil ended around AD 1400, which suggests people didn’t live there after this time. A similar trend is seen in Central Brazil, where the spread of ‘circular villages’ stops during the same period.


Michigan Judge Pulls No Punches in 30-Minute Sentencing Tirade Against Police Officer

Source: .Mic

Michigan Judge Pulls No Punches in 30-Minute Sentencing Tirade Against Police Officer
By Zak Cheney-Rice
3 hours ago

In a speech that lasted almost 30 minutes, Judge Vonda Evans of Detroit laid into 47-year-old William Melendez, the former Inkster, Michigan, police officer caught on video beating an unarmed black man in January 2015.

Melendez was sentenced to 13 months to 10 years in prison Tuesday for his role in the attack on Floyd Dent, a 58-year-old black auto worker, that occurred during a late night traffic stop in the struggling Wayne County suburb last winter.

"The one image (from this trial) that stood out to the court was looking at Mr. Dent in his cell, shaking his head in disbelief of what had occurred to him," Evans said in a courtroom video published by local television station WJBK.

"If his conduct was indicative of what he was thinking, I would have thought this: 'What crime did I commit, being a black man in a Cadillac, stopped for a minor traffic offense by a group of racist police officers looking to do a nigger?'"

Read more: https://news.yahoo.com/detroit-judge-pulls-no-punches-183700902.html

How Colombia’s opposition tried sabotaging peace talks to win 2014 elections

How Colombia’s opposition tried sabotaging peace talks to win 2014 elections
Posted by Taran Volckhausen on Feb 2, 2016

Colombia’s Prosecutor General Office has released evidence that would show how the country’s conservative opposition in 2014 used illegal wiretapping and bribery to sabotage ongoing peace talks with leftist FARC rebels.

The Prosecutor’s accusation against the former campaign manager of Oscar Ivan Zuluaga (Democratic Center) lays out the strategy that former ambassador and then-campaign chief Luis Alfonso Hoyos used to orchestrate the wiretapping of the government peace talks with the rebel group the FARC. The 74-page document, which was obtained by local media Blu Radio, accuses Hoyos of engaging in “criminal activity” to attack the peace process and President Juan Manuel Santos’ reelection campaign.

“Luis Alfonso Hoyos met in January 2014 with Andres Fernando Sepulveda in order to concentrate on ending or discrediting the peace process that was moving forward with the FARC in la Habana, Cuba, which they would achieve by obtaining secret information that would be collected through different criminal activities,” the document said.

Sepulveda was arrested in May 2014, weeks before the presidential election, and sentenced to 10 years in prison in April 2015, for his role in wiretapping the peace talks. The hacker was contracted by the Zuluaga’s Colombian presidential campaign who represented the right wing opposition Democratic Center Party, led by former president, Alvaro Uribe.


Oscar Ivan Zuluaga and Alvaro Uribe.

"Pull my finger."

British Columbia reaches agreement to protect vast coastal rainforest

British Columbia reaches agreement to protect vast coastal rainforest

Deal marries interests of First Nations, environmentalists and logging industry, who will see 15% of Great Bear forest available under ‘most stringent’ standards

Reuters in Vancouver
Monday 1 February 2016 12.14 EST

British Columbia is set to announce a historic agreement to protect a vast swath of rainforest along its coastline, having reached a deal that marries the interests of First Nations, the logging industry and environmentalists after a decade of often-tense negotiations.

The agreement to be announced on Monday will see roughly 85% of forest within the Great Bear rainforest protected, with the other 15% available for logging under the “most stringent” standards in North America, environmental groups involved in the talks said.

The Great Bear rainforest is one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests and the habitat of the spirit bear, a rare subspecies of the black bear with white fur and claws. It is also home to 26 Aboriginal groups, known as First Nations.

“Under this landmark agreement, more old and second-growth forest will be protected, while still ensuring opportunities for economic development and jobs for local First Nations,” said Premier Christy Clark in a statement.


Infographic: How Private Prison Companies Rake In Profits From Our Criminal Legal System

Infographic: How Private Prison Companies Rake In Profits From Our Criminal Legal System
Saturday, 30 January 2016 00:00
By Donald Cohen, Truthout | News Analysis

A new look at the prison industry shows that private companies profit from nearly every function of the United States' criminal legal system. The industry's scope is vast: Companies perform functions like prison operation and immigrant detention, and even GPS ankle monitoring and residential re-entry.

While the usual suspects - Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group - operate prisons, numerous companies with similar track records provide services like health care, food provision and prisoner transport. Companies like Corizon, Aramark, JPay and GTL have histories of providing low-quality services, harming not only prisoners, but communities and taxpayers as well.

We already know that the industry routinely cuts corners to make more profit, resulting in prison violence, lawsuits, accidental releases and high staff turnover. One only has to look at recent news to see the unforgiving intersection between for-profit companies and the criminal legal system. An executive with GEO Group, the second-largest private prison operator in the United States, recently boasted that the country would continue to "attract" crime because, among other issues, we have a "bad education system." The United States' largest for-profit prison health-care provider, Corizon, ended its contract with the state of Florida in November after two years of endless controversy. Alameda County in California is currently dealing with Corizon's mess after a prisoner died in the company's care there; the prisoner required surgery but was denied it for seven months despite three court orders.

No one should profit off of putting or keeping people behind bars. And now it's clear how much of our system is influenced by private companies, which are driven by profit to keep or even expand existing services.


In pictures: Bolivia's colourful Oruro carnival

In pictures: Bolivia's colourful Oruro carnival

29 January 2016

The Oruro carnival is famous for its elaborate costumes and masks

People in the Bolivian city of Oruro are gearing up for carnival.

This year's celebrations start on 30 January, but the main days will be on 5, 6 and 7 of February when thousands of people will congregate in Oruro.

The carnival dates back more than two centuries and is one of Latin America's most colourful.

Photojournalist Fellipe Abreu and reporter Luiz Felipe Silva recorded some of its highlights in 2015.


Tinkus, dance originary of Bolivian

Fraternidad Tinkus Cochabamba


("I got the fever, I got it real bad, the only thing that can help me is more TINKUS!")

Mexico Recognizes Indigenous 'Identity' with Birth Certificates

Mexico Recognizes Indigenous 'Identity' with Birth Certificates

Published 28 January 2016 (9 hours 20 minutes ago)

As many as 12 million people in Mexico lack a birth certificate, limiting their ability to travel and obtain social services.

Mexico delivered birth certificates to over 7,000 indigenous people on Wednesday as part of a campaign to increase access to official documents in underserved areas.

Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said that when he signed the law enshrining the right of indigenous peoples to a Mexican birth certificate, he “gave them their identities,” which would “change their lives” because “they will know who they are, that they exist, that they have rights, obligations and above all, that they feel Mexican — Mexican as we are all, proudly.”

Between 4 million and 12 million Mexicans are currently unregistered with the state, most from small, poor communities that have few public services, where people cannot afford the fee that some states charge for the document.

Without an identity card, people can be denied the right to education, healthcare, legal protection, a vote and even a job, as well as the ability to legally travel abroad. They are also more vulnerable to organized crime, and many end up migrating, becoming “doubly-undocumented” immigrants abroad.

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