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Judi Lynn

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The Wall Street Journal is Playing Dirty in El Salvador, Again

May 6, 2016
The Wall Street Journal is Playing Dirty in El Salvador, Again

by Hilary Goodfriend

San Salvador, El Salvador.

As usual, Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady has raked up such a scandalous mountain of defamation, fabrication and redbaiting in her most recent piece on the power struggles within El Salvador’s oligarchic private sector that it’s hard to know where to start. The task of refuting Ms. O’Grady is daunting to the point of exhaustion. That is, of course, a hallmark of this kind of Reaganite Cold War propaganda: overwhelm the public with so much misinformation that those seeking the truth are left far behind as they scramble to disprove, fact-by-fact, the long-cold trail of lies.

Yet Ms. O’Grady’s column raises a deeply perplexing question: Why on earth should the internal elections within a remote Salvadoran business association make headlines in one of the country’s most widely circulated periodicals? To explore this, we must not lose ourselves in each incendiary absurdity, and instead examine the narrative.

Ms. O’Grady’s principal argument appears to be that bloodthirsty Soviet-Chavista-Cuban totalitarians have high-jacked El Salvador, turning what was once a free-market paradise into a Venezuelan hellscape of public pensions and environmental regulations.

It is worth noting that El Salvador’s government is not in fact trying to “nationalize the privatized pension system,” but in fact has proposed a mixed public-private system to reform the dismally unsustainable and inequitable current system that only covers 25% of the working population and has generated over $250 million in profits for private pension fund administrators while indebting the government to those same companies to the tune of millions.


Pánfilo, that Cuban comedian Obama joked with in Havana, pays a visit to Washington

Pánfilo, that Cuban comedian Obama joked with in Havana, pays a visit to Washington

By David Montgomery

May 1

Cuban comedian Luis Silva performs in the guise of his character Pánfilo at the Cuban Embassy in Washington. (David Montgomery/The Washington Post)

About two weeks before President Obama made his historic trip to Havana in March, one of Cuba’s most popular comedians received a phone call from the U.S. Embassy.

“I thought there must be a problem with my visa!” recalls Luis Silva, also known as Pánfilo, the name of his famous comedic character, a prickly but good-hearted retiree who jokes about the struggles of daily life.

The real reason for the call was to see if Silva was interested in doing some comedy during Obama’s visit. Silva assumed U.S. officials had in mind a performance for the dignitaries. But no. The pitch was: How would Silva like to collaborate on a sketch that would feature Pánfilo and Obama?

. . .

“I was astonished,” says Silva, 37, a writer and star of the weekly situation comedy show “Vivir del Cuento” — roughly, “Surviving by Your Wits” — that features Pánfilo and is watched by an estimated two-thirds of Cubans on Cuban television.


‘Brazil Is One of the Most Unequal Countries in the World’

‘Brazil Is One of the Most Unequal Countries in the World’

CounterSpin interview with Maria Luisa Mendonça on Brazil's president under fire

By Janine Jackson




Maria Luisa Mendonça: “This is not an impeachment, because there is no legal basis for the impeachment right now.”

Janine Jackson: The situation in Brazil—where President Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment charges spurred by legislators, many of whom are themselves under investigation for corruption—is hard to grasp at a glance, but glances are all we get in US media. And when it comes to Latin America, elite media haven’t been shy about their disaffection for leftist governments, sometimes going to great lengths to paint them as delusional and dangerous to the region, and somehow to the US.

So how do we assess the situation in Brazil without that particular filter? Here to help us with that is Maria Luisa Mendonça. She is director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights, and a professor in the international relations department at the University of Rio de Janeiro. She joins us now by phone. Welcome to CounterSpin, Maria Luisa Mendonça.

Maria Luisa Mendonça: Thank you very much.

JJ: NBC’s Chuck Todd retweeted an image of some of the people protesting in the street for Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, and it was labeled “The People vs. the President.” And that’s kind of the picture you get from a quick look at US media. Is that a fair picture of what’s happening in Brazil? What would be a clearer picture of events there?

MLM: Yes, that’s not at all a clear picture. What we have been seeing in the media in the United States is a very simplistic version, basically saying that there are accusations of corruption against the government, and people were protesting against the government. What is missing is that there have been huge demonstrations in favor, in support of the government, and against what we are calling a coup.

This is not an impeachment, because there is no legal basis for the impeachment right now. The president has not been accused of any corruption crimes, and the opposition parties themselves are the ones concerned with the recent investigations of corruption. Because the government gave more autonomy to the federal police, and several opposition leaders are being accused of having, for instance, hidden accounts in Switzerland, in offshores with millions of dollars. That has been documented.

The accusation they are using against the president is that she used a type of budget mechanism to borrow from public banks and then invest in social programs in Brazil, which is a very common mechanism that is being used by other administrations, previous administrations in Brazil, by state governors. And every country in the world issues bonds to pay for social spending. The United States does this.

So there is no legal basis for the impeachment, and there is a lot of support for the government. In fact, because the opposition has not been able to win elections in more than a decade, and they never accepted the result of the elections that happened just last year that re-elected Dilma Rousseff, they are trying to subvert the electoral process and take power.


Argentina 'dirty war' suspect Omar Graffigna goes on trial aged 90

Source: Associated Press

Argentina 'dirty war' suspect Omar Graffigna goes on trial aged 90

Former head of Argentina’s air force and two ex-subordinates charged over disappearance of activist couple during 1976-1983 dictatorship

Associated Press in Buenos Aires
Wednesday 4 May 2016 21.14 EDT

The former head of Argentina’s air force and two ex-subordinates are on trial for alleged abduction and disappearance of activists during the Latin American nation’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.

Omar Graffigna, 90, is accused of abducting activist couple Patricia Roisinblit and Jose Manuel Perez Rojo in 1978.

Roisinblit was eight months pregnant when she, Perez Rojo, and a 15-month-old daughter were taken to a clandestine detention centre. What happened to the couple is unknown.

Guillermo Perez Roisinblit, the son Roisinblit gave birth to during detention, is a plaintiff in the trial that began this week. He was adopted by another family.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/05/argentina-dirty-war-suspect-omar-graffigna-goes-on-trial-aged-90

Honduras : opposition radio journalist narrowly escapes murder attempt

May 3, 2016
Honduras : opposition radio journalist narrowly escapes murder attempt

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the attempt to murder well-known opposition radio journalist Félix Molina in the Honduran capital yesterday, on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, and urges the Honduran authorities to identify those responsible and provide journalists with effective protection.

In the same day, Molina was targeted twice. The first time, he escaped two armed individuals who tried to rob him while he was travelling in a taxi. The second attempt happened a few hours later, when two different individuals attacked him at the same place where he had escaped earlier. This time, they did open fire against the taxi, but Molina managed to take cover behind a seat and the shots hit him in the legs. He is now in a Tegucigalpa hospital where doctors say his injuries are no longer life threatening.

Molina is the director of the community media organisation “Alter Eco” and was the former host of Resistencia, a programme aired by the very popular opposition radio stations, Radio Globo and Radio Progreso. He has been a popular broadcaster ever since the 2009 coup d’état and has received many death threats in connection with his frequent criticism of the government.

He had just pointed out that those arrested for the 3 March murder of environmental activist Berta Cáceres – a murder that shocked the entire country and the international community – were linked to certain Honduran politicians.


Building on shells: Interdisciplinary study starts unraveling mysteries of Calusa kingdom

Building on shells: Interdisciplinary study starts unraveling mysteries of Calusa kingdom

April 28, 2016 by Stephanie Schupska

Building on shells: Study starts unraveling mysteries of Calusa kingdom

This LiDAR image shows the central portion of Mound Key, located in Estero Bay adjacent to Fort Myers Beach in Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: Victor Thompson/University of Georgia

Centuries before modern countries such as Dubai and China started building islands, native peoples in southwest Florida known as the Calusa were piling shells into massive heaps to construct their own water-bound towns.

One island in particular, known as Mound Key, was the capital of the Calusa kingdom when Spanish explorers first set foot in the area. Supported in part by a grant from the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration, a new interdisciplinary study led by University of Georgia anthropologist Victor Thompson unearths information on how the composition of Mound Key, located in Estero Bay adjacent to Fort Myers Beach in Florida along the Gulf of Mexico, changed over the centuries in relation to both environmental and social shifts.

The findings were published April 28 in the journal PLOS One.

"This study shows peoples' adaptation to the coastal waters of Florida, that they were able to do it in such a way that supported a large population," said Thompson, an associate professor of anthropology in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the director of the Center for Archaeological Sciences. "The Calusa were an incredibly complex group of fisher-gatherer-hunters who had an ability to engineer landscapes. Basically, they were terraforming.

"China creates islands. Dubai creates islands. The Calusa created islands."

Mound Key was primarily constructed of heaps of shells, bones and other discarded objects known as midden. Thompson and his colleagues did intensive research on the island in 2013 and 2014 and used coring, test and block excavations and radiocarbon dating to determine that the midden wasn't uniform from top to bottom.


Court files show bid to tar slain Honduran activist Caceres

Source: Associated Press

Court files show bid to tar slain Honduran activist Caceres

Freddy Cuevas and Peter Orsi, Associated Press

Updated 9:22 pm, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — For months before her death, environmental activist Berta Caceres complained of repeated threats warning her to stop leading protests opposing a hydroelectric project on her Lenca people's ancestral lands.

Then, on March 3, armed men forced their way into Caceres' home in the middle of the night, shot her four times and wounded a visiting Mexican activist, who survived by playing dead. The killing prompted widespread condemnation and calls for an independent investigation, in part due to Caceres' international prominence as the winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

. . .

Previously unpublicized court records from 2014 show that the government and DESA repeatedly sought to tar Caceres and her colleagues as violent anarchists bent on terrorizing the population through their protests at the project site. In filings seeking an injunction against the demonstrations, Caceres and two leaders of her organization were accused of "usurpation, coercion and continued damage" and even attempting to undermine the democratic order.

Activists say the demonizing language helped create a dangerous climate of hostility and harassment that they link directly to her murder.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Court-files-show-bid-to-tar-slain-Honduran-7390618.php

Three Former Soldiers Held for the Murder of Honduran Activist Who Wanted to Stop a Dam

Source: Vice News

Three Former Soldiers Held for the Murder of Honduran Activist Who Wanted to Stop a Dam

By Andalusia Knoll

May 3, 2016 | 5:05 pm

When environmental activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home in Honduras on March 2, the country's chief prosecutor said the crime was probably a robbery gone wrong.

Two months of international outrage and significant pressure later and the authorities have announced the arrest of four suspects — two of whom are employed by the company building the massive dam she had dedicated her life to fighting, and three of whom are former soldiers.

"These arrests show us that the assassination of our compañera was coordinated by the government," said José Gaspar Sánchez, spokesman for the same activist group known as the COPINH, to which Cáceres also belonged. "Neither COPINH nor Berta's daughters were notified about these arrests which is very concerning for us."

Cáceres was the best known member of the COPINH, which stands for the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras, and won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 mainly in the name of their struggle against the Agua Zarca Dam.

Read more: https://news.vice.com/article/honduras-police-arrest-four-people-for-berta-caceres-murder

Colombia seizes assets of paramilitary death squad collaborators

Colombia seizes assets of paramilitary death squad collaborators

written by Stephen Gill May 3, 2016

Colombia has begun seizing properties of businessmen, ranchers and companies that collaborated with far-right paramilitary groups that have killed thousands and displaced millions of Colombians.

The Metropolitan Police of Pereira oversaw the forfeiture of the property of rancher Jose Leonidas Osorio who was linked to the Cacique Pipinta Front of the now defunct paramilitary group AUC.

The former commanders of the Cacique Pipinta Front have admitted to killing 140 civilians, including school teachers, human rights defenders and labor rights workers, incriminating numerous politicians and businessmen implicated in these crimes.

. . .

The current investigation targets some 150 companies, entrepreneurs and ranchers who funded and supported extreme-right paramilitary groups like the Cacique Pipinta Front. The list includes multinational banana company Chiquita and prominent businessmen like the late “emerald czar,” Victor Carranza.



Tupac Amaru to Sue Argentina's Macri over 'Slander

Tupac Amaru to Sue Argentina's Macri over 'Slander

Published 2 May 2016

The social movement is filing a complaint against the president after calling it a “paramilitary organization” and accusing its leaders of stealing money.

The Argentine social organization Tupac Amaru announced the filing of a criminal suit against the country’s President Mauricio Macri and the governor of Jujuy province, Gerardo Morales, for "aggravated coercion", slander and false accusations against the social movement, their jailed leader Milagro Sala and congresswoman Mabel Balconte, a former member of the group.

The complaint is scheduled to be presented Monday morning at the Comodoro Py court in Buenos Aires and will be delivered by the national coordinator of the Tupac Amaru, Alejandro "Coco" Garfagnini.

The complaint seeks criminal charges be brought against Macri, the governor Morales and the prosecutor of Jujuy, Mariano Miranda “over making up accusations that the former leader Balconte was carrying bags of money to the city of Olivos," Tupac Amaru said in a statement Monday ahead of filing the suit.

The complaint also says Balconte was coerced by governor Morales, reportedly under the orders of President Macri, into testifying against jailed social activist Milagro Sala, the founder of Tupac Amaru, and other leaders over corruption allegations.


Milagro Sala standing with former President, Cristina Fernandez.

Milagro Sala with former President Kirchner

Milagro Sala with Pope Francis

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