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Judi Lynn

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Brazil to study legalization of medical marijuana

Brazil to study legalization of medical marijuana
By RENATA BRITO, Associated Press | December 19, 2014 | Updated: December 19, 2014 3:28pm

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil will soon look into the possibility of legalizing the use of a marijuana derivative to treat people suffering from severe seizures.

ANVISA, the country's Health Surveillance Agency says in a statement posted on its website that the "reclassification" of marijuana derivative cannabidiol, which is banned in Brazil, will be discussed starting next month.
The statement came Friday, one day after some 40 people protested in Brasilia to demand the legalization of cannabidiol.

Some people resort to a clandestine network of illegal marijuana growers in Rio de Janeiro state that extract cannabidiol and donate it.

It is that network that supplies Margarete de Brito with the cannabidiol she gives her 5 year-old daughter Sofia, who was born with a genetic mutation that causes seizures.


U.N.'s Ban Ki-moon hails Obama for 'courageous' Cuba move

Source: Reuters

U.N.'s Ban Ki-moon hails Obama for 'courageous' Cuba move
By Tribune wire reports
December 20, 2014, 7:19 PM

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday for what he called courage and vision in renewing ties with Cuba and said he had asked Washington to pursue such a course.

Cuban President Raul Castro also demonstrated leadership in reciprocating the opening, Ban said.

Obama announced on Wednesday that the United States would renew diplomatic relations it severed 50 years ago, and expand commercial ties with the communist-ruled island. The move has been criticized by a string of Republican lawmakers but welcomed abroad, including by the European Union.

"I highly commend President Obama's very courageous visionary decision to address this issue. At the same time I really appreciate President Raul Castro. He has shown great humanity and leadership this time," Ban told Reuters.

Ban visited Cuba earlier this year and said he had been trying to advocate for an opening with Cuba to authorities in Washington over the issue.

"I am very glad that they have finally decided to agree," said Ban.

Read more: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/nationworld/chi-united-nations-obama-cuba-20141220-story.html

Mexico: official Ayotzinapa story questioned

Mexico: official Ayotzinapa story questioned
Submitted by Weekly News Update... on Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:40

On Dec. 13 the left-leaning Mexican news magazine Proceso published an investigative report challenging the government's account of the abduction of 43 students and the killing of three students and three bystanders the night of Sept. 26-27 in Iguala de la Independencia in the southwestern state of Guerrero. Based on cell phone videos, interviews, testimony by witnesses and leaked official documents, the report's authors, Anabel Hernández and Steve Fisher, claim that agents of the Federal Police (PF) were involved in the attack on the students, that the Mexican army was at least complicit, and that the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto has been covering up the role of federal forces.

The official version is that responsibility for violence against the students, who attended the traditionally leftist Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers' College in the Guerrero town of Ayotzinapa, lies entirely with Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez, municipal police in the Iguala area and a local drug gang. But a leaked document shows that federal and state police were regularly informed on the students' movements from the time they left Ayotzinapa for Iguala the evening of Sept. 26 through the time of the attack, according to the Proceso report. Federal forces could have intervened to stop the violence; instead, they may have participated in it. Some of the students reported seeing federal agents during the attack; other students said the police assaulting them had equipment, including a machine gun, not issued to municipal police departments in Mexico.

Guerrero state prosecutors clearly suspected federal involvement. On Sept. 28 they ordered the PF to provide records on the activities of federal agents in the area for the Sept. 24-28 period; the PF didn't comply. Under political pressure, the state government dropped out of the case on Oct. 4, leaving the investigation entirely in the control of the federal government.

The reporters also questioned the official claim that the Guerreros Unidos ("United Warriors") gang was involved, since the only evidence for this seems to come from confessions by gang members who had evidently been tortured by the authorities. The government asserts that the abducted students were transferred to members of the gang at a specific Iguala police station. According to the Proceso report, the activity would have been visible to anyone in the area, but neighbors said they saw and heard nothing unusual that night.


Haiti: UN 'peacekeepers' fire on protesters

Haiti: UN 'peacekeepers' fire on protesters
Submitted by Weekly News Update... on Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:44

At least two Haitian protesters were wounded by gunfire and another apparently shot dead in two days of opposition demonstrations in Port-au-Prince Dec. 12 and 13; there were also protests in the northern cities of Cap-Haïtien and Gonaïves. The demonstrations, which drew thousands, came as the government of President Michel Martelly ("Sweet Micky") was taking steps aimed at defusing a political crisis that has been building for several months.

The Dec. 12 demonstration started with a gathering at the ruins of the Saint-Jean Bosco Catholic church; protesters then marched through a number of working-class neighborhoods and approached the site of the National Palace, which was destroyed by a January 2010 earthquake, in the central Champ de Mars park. At this point security forces, including at least one contingent from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), dispersed the marchers with tear gas grenades and gunfire. Spokespeople for the international group said its members only used tear gas and fired in the air, but a video seems to show at least two men from MINUSTAH taking aim and shooting at eye level; one wears a blue cap and fires a pistol, while the other wears a blue helmet and fires a rifle.

It is unclear from the video whether the men were using live ammunition. Two people were reportedly wounded by gunfire and taken to the hospital during the Dec. 12 march, but who shot them wasn't reported. This was said to be the first time in several months that MINUSTAH, a joint police-military operation led by Brazilian officers, intervened in an anti-government demonstration. (AlterPresse, Haiti, Dec. 13, Dec. 15; VICE, Dec. 13)

Protesters accused Haitian police of shooting a man dead the next day at the Dec. 13 protest; the victim "had a visible bullet wound in his chest," according to the Miami Herald. "No one died in today's protests," police spokesperson Gary Desrosiers claimed. He suggested that somebody "put the body there." (MH, Dec. 14, from correspondent)


Ferguson prosecutor says he knew some witnesses were ‘clearly not telling the truth.’ They testified

Source: Washington Post

Ferguson prosecutor says he knew some witnesses were ‘clearly not telling the truth.’ They testified anyway.
By Peter Holley December 20 at 7:00 PM

St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Bob McColluch knowingly placed witnesses who were not telling the truth in front of grand jurors investigating this summer’s police officer-involved shooting death of Michael Brown, according to a radio interview he gave Friday.

After nearly a month of silence following the the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, McCulloch told St. Louis radio station KTRS 550 AM that some of the witnesses were “clearly not telling the truth,” but were allowed them to testify anyway.

“Early on, I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything was gonna be presented to the grand jury,” McCulloch said, noting that “And I knew that no matter how I handled this, there would be criticism of it. So if I didn’t put those witnesses on, then we’d be discussing now why I didn’t put those witnesses on, even though their statements were not accurate.”

On Monday, the Smoking Gun published a story revealing the identity and troubled history of “Witness 40,” a woman whose elaborate story of witnessing Brown’s death was allegedly taken from newspaper accounts. The woman, who told investigators that she is racist, bi-polar and has raised money for Wilson, approached prosecutors five weeks after the Aug. 9 shooting. In a journal entry that she showed the grand jury, the woman said she had driven through Ferguson at the time of the shooting “so I stop calling Blacks N—— and Start calling them People.”

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/12/20/ferguson-prosecutor-says-he-knew-some-witnesses-were-clearly-not-telling-the-truth-they-testified-anyway/?tid=hpModule_9d3add6c-8a79-11e2-98d9-3012c1cd8d1e

In El Salvador, 17 Women Imprisoned for Miscarriage Await Pardon

In El Salvador, 17 Women Imprisoned for Miscarriage Await Pardon
Friday, 19 December 2014 10:11
By Danica Jorden, Truthout | News Analysis

Seventeen women, ages 19 to 30 years old at their sentencing, remain in prison in El Salvador as international pressure rises to exonerate them.

The women were all convicted on the charge of "aggravated homicide" of a newborn. At least one of them underwent a psychiatric evaluation and exhibited intellectual disabilities. Most of them suffered miscarriages, premature births or stillbirths; all of them were poor and without access to prenatal care or obstetrical services; and the majority of them have been sentenced to - and are serving - 30 years in prison.

According to Julia Evelyn Martínez, university professor of economics in El Salvador and social advocate, these women have been wrongly accused and convicted of the crime of murder.

"One needs to understand that all of these cases deal with women who have lived and continue to live in situations of extreme financial need, without social support networks or access to quality health services," Martinez said. "Most of them had obstetrical problems during their pregnancies and suffered miscarriages or went through childbirth without either health or medical care. They arrived at public hospitals unconscious, bleeding, in search of assistance, at which point, in flagrant violation of professional ethics, they were reported, tried and sentenced, first for abortion and then for aggravated homicide, forcing them out of hospital and into prison."


How Panama changed history in the Americas

How Panama changed history in the Americas

To go to Panama or not to go to Panama — that was the question. After all, Cuba’s president would be there. Now U.S. President Barack Obama will be there, too.

By: Oakland Ross Feature Writer, Published on Fri Dec 19 2014

Thank Washington. Thank Havana. But also thank Panama City.

Jorge Dominguez does.

The Harvard University Latin America scholar says it was a bold but largely unacknowledged master stroke by newly elected Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela that sparked this week’s stunning announcement that Cuba and the United States mean to restore diplomatic relations, after more than five decades of bitter hostility.

“Panama said, ‘We’re going to do it — and tough luck,’ ” says Dominguez.

He is referring to Varela’s decision this past October to invite Cuban President Raul Castro to attend a hemispheric summit scheduled for next April in the Central American country.
That move put the ricocheting ball of regional diplomacy firmly in Washington’s court.

There have been several previous such meetings, known as Summits of the Americas, but the host leaders in every case have bowed to U.S. wishes and kept Cuba off the guest list.

Varela chose a more daring course.

“Panama decided to invite Cuba as a full participant,” says Dominguez. “The White House had to reach a decision, to accept or not.”


The Invasion of Panama and the Proclamation of a Lone Superpower Above the Law

The Invasion of Panama and the Proclamation of a Lone Superpower Above the Law
Saturday, 20 December 2014 09:46
By Matt Peppe, Just the Facts Blog | Op-Ed

Twenty five years ago, before dawn on December 20, 1989, U.S. forces descended on Panama City and unleashed one of the most violent, destructive terror attacks of the century. U.S. soldiers killed more people than were killed on 9/11. They systematically burned apartment buildings and shot people indiscriminately in the streets. Dead bodies were piled on top of each other; many were burned before identification. The aggression was condemned internationally, but the message was clear: the United States military was free to do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted, and they would not be bound by ethics or laws.

The invasion and ensuing occupation produced gruesome scenes: "People burning to death in the incinerated dwellings, leaping from windows, running in panic through the streets, cut down in cross fire, crushed by tanks, human fragments everywhere," writes William Blum.

Years later the New York Times interviewed a survivor of the invasion, Sayira Marín, whose "hands still tremble" when she remembers the destruction of her neighborhood.
"I take pills to calm down," Marín told the paper. "It has gotten worse in recent days. There are nights when I jump out of bed screaming. Sometimes I have dreams of murder. Ugly things."

In the spring of 1989, a wave of revolutions had swept across the Eastern bloc. In November, the Berlin Wall fell. The Cold War was over. No country was even a fraction as powerful as the United States. Rather than ushering in an era of peace and demilitarization, U.S. military planners intensified their expansion of global hegemony. They were pathological about preventing any rival to their complete military and economic domination.


Better bananas: Chiquita settles lawsuit over green marketing, but the legal battle isn't over

Better bananas: Chiquita settles lawsuit over green marketing, but the legal battle isn't over

A Seattle nonprofit alleges that Chiquita banana suppliers – certified sustainable by the Rainforest Alliance – pollute water supplies in Guatemala, but the banana giant stands by its record

Sarah Shemkus
Friday 19 December 2014 16.10 EST

Chiquita has reached a settlement in a lawsuit over its claims of environmentally friendly production, which a Seattle nonprofit alleges amounts to deceptive marketing. Now the group – Water and Sanitation Health, or Wash – has filed an additional lawsuit against the Rainforest Alliance, claiming that the environmental organization is also responsible for unfair marketing because it certified Chiquita farms as sustainable.

In a statement, the Rainforest Alliance called Wash’s allegations untrue and said it stands by its auditing practices. The environmental group also objected to the lawsuit’s charges that the alliance sells its endorsement. Businesses that receive certifications must meet rigorous sustainability standards, the statement said.

Wash sued the Chiquita at the end of last year, saying that the North Carolina-based fruit distributor’s partner farms in southern Guatemala have contaminated drinking water with fertilizers and fungicides – and have air-dropped pesticides perilously close to schools and homes.

Wash unknowingly and unintentionally helped fund “significant environmental harm to ecosystems” when it bought Chiquita bananas, the now-settled suit alleges. The new suit, filed Wednesday, claims the Rainforest Alliance is also complicit, because the group certified Chiquita farms and advertised its collaboration with the fruit company.


Venezuelan President Calls Obama’s Outreach to Cuba ‘Courageous’

Venezuelan President Calls Obama’s Outreach to Cuba ‘Courageous’
David Stout @david_m_stout
2:01 AM ET

Cuba’s staunch Latin American ally approves of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the old foes

U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba was nothing short of “courageous,” according to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Following dual announcements in Washington and Havana on Wednesday, the Venezuelan head of state openly lauded the new chapter in American-Cuba relations during a trade summit in Argentina’s southern city of Paraná.

“You have to recognize the gesture of Barack Obama, a gesture that is courageous and necessary,” said Maduro, according to Reuters.

Caracas has been one of the most outspoken supporters of Cuba since late President Hugo Chávez first rose to power in the country during the late 1990s.


(Short article, no more at link.)
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