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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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World's oldest needle found in Siberian cave that stitches together human history

World's oldest needle found in Siberian cave that stitches together human history

By The Siberian Times reporter

23 August 2016

'Sensational' discovery in Denisova Cave is at least 50,000 years old BUT it wasn't made by Homo sapiens.

The 7 centimetre (2 3/4 inch) needle was made and used by our long extinct Denisovan ancestors, a recently-discovered hominin species or subspecies.

Scientists found the sewing implement - complete with a hole for thread - during the annual summer archeological dig at an Altai Mountains cave widely believed to hold the secrets of man's origins. It appears to be still useable after 50,000 years.

Professor Mikhail Shunkov, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, said: 'It is the most unique find of this season, which can even be called sensational.

'It is a needle made of bone. As of today it is the most ancient needle in the word. It is about 50,000 years old.'

The needle is seen as providing proof that the long-gone Denisovans - named after the cave - were more sophisticated than previously believed. It predates by some 10,000 years an intricate modern-looking piece of polished jewellery made of chlorite by the Denisovans.


Prisoner not seen publicly since 2002 at Gitmo hearing

Source: Associated Press

Prisoner not seen publicly since 2002 at Gitmo hearing

Robert Burns, Ap National Security Writer

Updated 3:29 pm, Tuesday, August 23, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — The first high-profile al-Qaida terror suspect captured after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 appeared Tuesday at a U.S. government hearing called to determine whether he should remain in detention at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian not seen publicly since his capture by the CIA in 2002, sat expressionless during the brief hearing. Zubaydah was also the first to vanish into the CIA's secret "black site" prison network and was subjected to "enhanced interrogation."

. . .

Following his capture, the CIA under President George W. Bush initiated an interrogation program, now widely viewed as torture. Under this once-secret program, Zubaydah was subjected to what the Bush administration called "enhanced interrogation" in the belief that he was withholding information about al-Qaida. A Senate report released in 2014 said that belief was false.

Zubaydah was subjected to the torment of waterboarding 83 times in August 2003. Straining under a waterlogged cloth clamped over his face, Zubaydah became "completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth," according to CIA emails cited in the Senate report. He was body-slammed by his captors. He was hooded, then unmasked and ominously shown a coffin-like box.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/politics/article/Abu-Zubaydah-appears-at-Gitmo-hearing-to-review-9179334.php

The three Rs: How Bolivia combats illiteracy

The three Rs: How Bolivia combats illiteracy

By Fellipe Abreu and Luiz Felipe Silva
El Alto, Bolivia

21 August 2016

Fellipe Abreu

Quintim Pulma was not allowed to learn to read and write when he was a boy

"Reading and writing were forbidden," says Quintim Pulma, 83.

Mr Pulma, a former policeman dressed elegantly in a slightly worn jacket and wearing a black hat, recalls the days when he was growing up in rural Bolivia: "I lived at the farm at which my parents worked and the owner threatened that if I went to school, he'd cut my tongue out."

But now things are different for Mr Pulma.

"These days, I can study and prove to people that I'm capable of doing anything," he says.

Mr Pulma is one of 39 elderly students in a literacy group in El Alto, Bolivia's second largest city.


Following dinosaur footsteps in Bolivia's fossil mecca

Following dinosaur footsteps in Bolivia's fossil mecca

Published Sunday, August 21, 2016 9:03PM EDT

It's not easy following in the footsteps of the largest animals ever to roam Earth.

There are no roads or even footpaths to get to the spot in Bolivia where researchers recently discovered a huge dinosaur footprint measuring 1.15 metres wide. But Bolivian paleontologist Omar Medina hopes to turn this remote corner of southern Bolivia into a magnet of paleontology that will attract visitors from around the world.

The enormous footprint, roughly 80 million years old, was discovered last month by local guide Grover Marquina, who specializes in fossil tours.

It was left by an abelisaurid theropod dinosaur, a carnivorous biped that Medina estimates would have been about 15 metres tall.



States Prove Playground Bullies in Push to Delist Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

August 19, 2016
States Prove Playground Bullies in Push to Delist Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

by Louisa Willcox

Photo by Tom Mangelsen.

State wildlife managers from Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho have recently dispelled any illusions about how they intend to treat grizzly bears after wresting management control away from the federal government. Removal of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections will probably happen later this year and, if that happens, the states have made clear that they plan to go on a blood-letting binge involving the slaughter of hundreds of bears. They are already showing their thuggish nature in dealings with the public and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). State managers, most notably those representing Wyoming, have been the proverbial playground bullies during recent public meetings and, unfortunately, the FWS is rewarding this nastiness by acquiescing to every demand.

Not only do the states intend to allow trophy hunting, they also want a free hand to kill more grizzlies without any accountability to the national public that treasures these bears… or even any accountability to the majority of state residents who don’t support hunting grizzlies. At a meeting of grizzly bear managers earlier this month, only Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk had the courage to speak out in defense of the grizzly bears that define the nation’s oldest Park (link). Wenk objected to hunting grizzly bears in lands bordering Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The state managers who were present responded by saying, basically, “bugger off.”

The battle lines are clearly drawn. On one side, the states are representing the ethos of death and violence, slaved to the interests of hunters and ranchers. On the other, the Park Service is upholding an ethos of preservation and respect, on behalf of the broader American public. The states are about guarding the franchise of a few and their exploitative pursuits, while the Park Service is about empowering the many, who tend towards more benign, even altruistic, treatment of wildlife and wildlands.

The Park Service’s philosophy reflects a broader cultural trend towards greater inclusiveness, greater tolerance, and greater respect for those who are different—increasingly including animals (Among other great books on the topic is Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature). This trend is reflected in the fact that, according to Acting FWS Recovery Coordinator Wayne Kasworm, over 99% of the 290,000 comments submitted during May of this year to the FWS in response to its proposed removal of ESA protections opposed this move, opposed trophy hunting, and supported increased protections.


Cyclists brave the world’s most dangerous road in Bolivia

Cyclists brave the world’s most dangerous road in Bolivia

High, scenic and varied terrain on Yungas road makes for a white-knuckled ride, as a guide reveals stories of what’s also known as death road.

By Tamara HinsonSpecial to the Star

Sat., Aug. 20, 2016

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA — No doubt the guide is trying to be reassuring when he says he’s undergone rope rescue training, but it’s a timely reminder that the road we’re about to cycle down has claimed hundreds of lives.

Regarded as the world’s highest capital (Sucre is Bolivia’s official one, but La Paz has more government buildings and is regarded as the de facto capital), La Paz is a city crammed into an enormous bowl, 3,640 metres above sea level. It’s also home to the world’s most dangerous road.

In 1998, New Zealand mountain biker Alistair Matthew came to La Paz. At the time, access to the city had been via the Yungas road, a crumbling dirt track carved into a mountainside. Vehicles regularly toppled off. Matthew heard about the road, saw its potential as the ultimate adrenaline-fuelled adventure for cyclists and founded Gravity Bolivia, starting out with just three bikes.

The road quickly became a rite of passage for backpackers. Today, 20 operators offer excursions along the death road — named not because of fatalities, but because many of the prisoners of war who built it died during construction in the 1930s, during the Chaco War.

A shiny new road opened in 2006 and now only a few foolhardy drivers brave the route. Accidents involving drivers and cyclists still happen with alarming regularity, although one particular incident helped reduced these fatalities. After British cyclist Theo Dreyfus died in a 2009 accident, his father Dominic founded a memorial fund to pay for a permanent ambulance on the road.


(More photos at link.)

Nicaragua’s Right-Wing: Ideology and Wishful Thinking

Nicaragua’s Right-Wing: Ideology and Wishful Thinking

By: Tortilla con Sal

Among the wreckage of Nicaragua’s right-wing political opposition to Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, it is hard to make out anything resembling a coherent political and economic program independent of clearly bankrupt U.S. imperialist ideology. The academic and former Nicaraguan ambassador to the U.S. and Canada, Arturo Cruz, tried to dignify that failure with some vestige of intellectual rigor back in 2013 in an essay whose title translates to “Political reform in Central America: Is Democratic institutional rule at risk?” Recently, Cruz has revived his arguments in a series of lectures whose overall title translates as “Government's petty cash in trouble.”

In a nutshell, Cruz' argument explains the widely acknowledged success of the Sandinista Government as a result of its ability to combine sound macro-economic free market policies with the capacity to satisfy the ever growing demands of both the Sandinista grassroots as well as the demands of many Nicaraguans who previously supported the liberal right-wing parties, in a scheme Cruz labels “responsible populism.” However, Cruz argues, with the virtual collapse of Venezuelan aid due to the economic crisis and the fall of oil prices, the Sandinista government today lacks the “petty cash” needed to make the system work which may herald a period where its hold on political power will be put to test. Cruz has to make mighty omissions to make this case. He might better have called his series of lectures “Whistling in the dark.”

Cruz’s argument serves as an apology for Nicaragua’s capitalist class and its political right-wing expression in a historical period during which the impoverished and excluded popular classes have emerged as economic as well as political and ideological subjects. In 200 years of independent history, Central America’s capitalist elites have been incapable of formulating a sovereign political project of their own, depending mostly on imperial networks of political and economic influence. Now Nicaragua’s political right-wing needs arguments against the emergence of Nicaragua as a sovereign revolutionary society. Cruz’s arguments offer an unconvincing alibi for that historic political and intellectual failure. His view of Nicaragua’s impoverished majority is elitist, a mass of “clients” with little sense of citizenship and no strategic consciousness of their needs. This is part of what Cruz wrote back in 2013:

“Today, Nicaraguans' consumption expectations are undoubtedly low (which should facilitate the task of distributing scarce goods), but they are also immediate, anchored in the present, with little attention to the future, unable to reach a minimum of abstraction. The client – as opposed to the citizen, who expects a lot from government, except from what he can afford with his family income – is focused on the most basic, such as a pound of beans or a galvanized roofing sheet, convinced that the government's main role is to serve him as a crutch.” Clear? It’s hardly important that impoverished families live in dehumanizing immiseration, the important thing is that they look beyond their hunger and their leaking roofs and behave like true citizens. Cruz’s argument goes a long way to explaining why support for right-wing political parties in Nicaragua’s has collapse.


“People’s Tribunal” Launched in Haiti to Commemorate 101 Years of U.S. Occupation

“People’s Tribunal” Launched in Haiti to Commemorate 101 Years of U.S. Occupation

by Mark Schuller

Vol 10 # 4 Du 3 au 9 Août 2016

Thu., Jul. 28, when Hillary Rodham Clinton took to the stage to accept the Democratic nomination to be the first female candidate of a major political party for president, was also the 101st anniversary of the U.S. military occupation of Haiti that lasted 19 years.

. . .

These contemporary struggles underscore the stakes in the efforts to re-unify the Haitian left. And they also underscore the need for a historical analysis and reparations. Without naming them all, here are six contemporary legacies of the first 1915-1934 U.S. Occupation:

1/ Creating a new constitution that gave foreigners the rights to land in Haiti. Today, land rights – intimately linked with food sovereignty – remains one of the biggest struggles. International projects – free trade zones, export-oriented agriculture like Agritrans, high-end tourist development such as that at Île-à-Vache, or mining – threatens this right.

2/ Creating an army – which had devastating consequences of human rights violations and massacres, not to mention setting the stage for the Duvalier dictatorship.

3/ Appropriating wealth – the U.S. stole $500,000 in gold reserves on Dec. 17, 1914, right before the Occupation. During the occupation, National City Bank took control of Haiti’s central bank. Since this time, Haiti’s financial management remains under international agencies’ rule.

4/ Centralizing political and economic power in Port-au-Prince. Regional economies were undermined as nearly all wealth and all industries were developed in the capital. Political power was also centralized. These factors contributed to the hyper-urbanization, and certainly after the killing of the Haitian pig population in the early 1980s. The 2010 earthquake exposed the consequences of this centralization in the “Republic of Port-au-Prince.”

5/ Fanning the conflict with other neighboring countries, certainly the Dominican Republic – it is not coincidence that the Dominican state chose the date of 1929, wherein if someone was born after this date their citizenship status was revoked in 2013. The U.S. occupied both sides of the island for several years, triggering a migration of Haitian laborers to cut Dominican sugar cane. Since Jun. 18 of last year – where tens of thousands were either expelled or left ‘voluntary’ fearing mob violence – this situation has become a crisis and massive human rights violation.

6/ Submitting the country under international agencies’ tutelage – many in Haiti argue that the Occupation that began 101 years ago has never stopped. The 1915 military occupation prepared the ground for foreign control of development and fiscal policies. Haitian sovereignty has been eroded ever since. The debt claimed by international agencies was the opening for what used to be called “Structural Adjustment” programs, where international agencies forced the country to be open to foreign products, especially U.S. rice. In effect, Haiti was turned into a dumping ground for the U.S. and neighboring countries. In addition to this direct control, the 1915 Occupation prepared the country for what Sauveur Pierre Etienne called an “invasion of NGOs.” After the earthquake, Haiti was often called a “republic of NGOs” undermining state capacity and authority. This “humanitarian occupation” is accompanied by a U.N. invasion. These troops, who have brought cholera to the country with several documented cases of rape and sexual assault, have immunity.


Review: Malaysia’s Original People: Past, Present and Future of the Orang Asli

Review: Malaysia’s Original People: Past, Present and Future of the Orang Asli

August 16, 2016 Book Reviews, Books, Culture

By subashini navaratnam

Malaysia’s Original People: Past, Present And Future Of The Orang Asli is a dense, far-reaching compendium of essays edited by Kirk Endicott, a professor with the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College in the United States. The essays run the gamut – from pieces on Orang Asli religion, language, and culture to the legal battles and political situation that renders them displaced and marginalised within the Malaysian nationalist framework.

The book is systematically divided into several sections under the categories mentioned above. As the contributors are mostly academics and researchers, each essay is packed with information from several angles; an essay on Orang Asli animism and cosmology, for instance, is also rife with facts about the history of oppression they’ve faced on the Malay Peninsula, starting from Malay and Indonesian slave raiders of the 18th and 19th centuries.

There is no beating around the bush here in an attempt to neutralise or even erase colonial British and Malaysian government complicity in the systematic displacement and marginalisation of the Orang Asli. From start to finish, these essays excavate the devastating impact of capitalism via the oil palm plantation and logging industries, for example, and the bureaucratic nature of the capitalist democracies like Malaysia whose state interests are, with greater intensity and frequency, tied to the profits of corporations.

Because it’s written by academics, some essays tend to read as though they were written for other academics, an insider’s conversation that might leave the non-specialist reader confused. While the essays on Orang Asli belief systems, for example, are fascinating, they are complex and verbose; whole pages were sometimes indecipherable to me because it throws together a string of words in Orang Asli languages couched between linguistic concepts, terms and phrases. Despite this, these essays demonstrate that Orang Asli beliefs about animism and interconnectedness between humans and non-humans are the key to how they manage the land and resources. It’s not that the Orang Asli abstain from eating meat or clearing land; it’s that they do it within a belief system that says they shouldn’t take more than they should, and that for what is taken, something should be done on the part of humans to restore the balance.

An interesting concept among most Orang Asli groups is the taboo about mocking or insulting non-human life. This is an idea that is almost alien to the money-obsessed, work-driven, middle-class urban professionals. To me, it demonstrates something beautiful; the value of words and ideas, and the effect it has on one’s own wellbeing and one’s community and family. This interconnectedness makes it hard to close one eye and sanction widespread ecological destruction through various excuses, such as “We need to modernise” or “The technology helps us in the end”.


Colombia: In the Final Stage Before Peace

Colombia: In the Final Stage Before Peace

August 12, 2016
by Manuel E. Yepe


In any conflict between two, it is logical that the conclusion should produce a winner and a loser. Only three forms of postwar peace have always existed: the one imposed by the victor, humiliating for the vanquished; Pyrrhic peace in which to reach victory the winner has suffered many or more losses than the defeated; and peace determined by the inability of either party to achieve success after extreme suffering for both sides. The latter is the one that seems closer to become a reality in Colombia.

All humanity has received with joy the promise of peace in Colombia that was sealed with the agreements on ceasefire, deposition of weapons, security guarantees and other aspects signed on June 23 in Havana by the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, and Commander Timoleon Jimenez, Chief of Staff of the Colombian FARC-EP.

The senior leader of the guerrilla organization was adamant in his speech at the document signing ceremony saying that “neither the FARC nor the Colombian State are defeated forces and therefore the agreement cannot be understood by anyone as a result of any imposition of one party to the other.

“We have discussed at length and even got to alleys that seemed to be dead-ends. These could only be overcome thanks to the generous and effective intervention of the guarantor countries, Cuba and Norway, and the opportunities and wise formulas suggested by the creativity of the spokespersons of both parties and their diligent advisers,” Jimenez said.


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