Judi Lynn's Journal
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 85,963
Number of posts: 85,963
Cuba looks to mangroves to fend off rising seas
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press | July 23, 2014 | Updated: July 23, 2014 11:05pm
HAVANA (AP) — Many people in this tiny hamlet on the southern coast of Cuba remember when the shore lay about 100 meters (yards) farther out. That was four decades ago.
Since then, rising waters have gradually swallowed up rustic homes, a narrow highway that once paralleled the coast, even an old military tank that people now use to measure the sea's yearly advance.
"There was a road there," said Jose Manuel Herrera, 42, a fisherman and former charcoal harvester, pointing toward the gentle waves. "You could travel from here all the way to Mayabeque."
Worried by forecasts of rising seas from climate change, the effects of hurricanes and the salinization of farmlands, authorities say they are beginning a forced march to repair Cuba's first line of defense against the advancing waters — its mangrove thickets, which have been damaged by decades of neglect and uncontrolled logging.
In the second half of 2013, a moratorium was declared on mangrove logging. Now, the final touches are being put on a sustainable management master plan that is expected to be in place before the end of the year. President Raul Castro has said the plan is a top priority.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Thu Jul 24, 2014, 04:07 AM (1 replies)
Venezuelan Network Telesur Expands Into English
CARACAS, Venezuela — Jul 23, 2014, 7:39 PM ET
The Spanish-language television network started by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a vehicle for promoting in Latin America his leftist brand of political change will now reach audiences in English.
Under the motto "Don't resign yourself to having just one side of the story," Telesur has unveiled a news website that will serve as a hub for multimedia programming in English from correspondents and pundits across Latin America and the United States.
The website goes live Thursday to coincide with the ninth anniversary of Telesur's launch and the celebration of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar's birthday.
The network hired about 100 native English-speaking journalists and producers for the launch. Many are based in Quito, Ecuador, where a studio was built to produce the bulk of English-language programming.
(Short article, no more at link.)
Posted by Judi Lynn | Wed Jul 23, 2014, 08:57 PM (3 replies)
10 Colombia Senators ‘inherit’ votes from jailed ex-Senators
Jul 23, 2014 posted by Daniel Medendorp Escobar
Colombia’s recently inaugurated Senate will bring a new dynamic to national politics, though not necessary a new face to its politicians.
The arrival of former President Alvaro Uribe and his Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) party on the scene means a new right-wing opposition set to join the changed face of the leftist opposition, which now includes figures like Claudia Lopez and Ivan Cepeda.
Despite these developments, the shadow of corruption still looms large over Congress, after over 10% of the previous Congress was dismissed on charges including vote buying, nepotism, and links to illegal armed groups. Indeed, in this Senate, a number of politicians have direct family ties to members convicted on related charges.
MORE: 10% of Colombia’s 2010-2014 Congress kicked out of office
Of the 102 senators now starting their terms, 10 “inherited” votes, political structures, and support from jailed family members. In the vast majority of cases, the individuals in question were jailed for so-called parapolitics, political coordination with paramilitary death squads.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Wed Jul 23, 2014, 05:44 PM (2 replies)
Judicial harassment of journalists and social communicators
Published on Tuesday 22 July 2014.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the judicial harassment of 36 members of the Honduran Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH), who are being tried on sedition charges in the southwestern department of Intibucá.
The defendants include Radio Progreso reporter Albertina Manueles Peréz and the reporters of several community radio stations that are COPINH members. These “social communicators” are being persecuted for reporting the claims of the mainly indigenous population of the town of San Francisco de Opalaca that its current mayor, José Socorro Sánchez, was elected fraudulently.
At a hearing on 24 June, the Intibucá departmental court placed all the defendants under judicial control after the prosecutor accused them of “sedition against the internal security of the state of Honduras and usurping functions.” The next hearing is set for today.
“This judicial harassment of ‘social communicators’ and civil society organizations is indicative of a desire on the part of the authorities to restrict free speech,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.
“We call for the withdrawal of all the charges in this case and we point out that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has asked the Honduran authorities to guarantee the protection of some of the defendants.”
Posted by Judi Lynn | Wed Jul 23, 2014, 05:51 AM (1 replies)
How the Mexican Drug Trade Thrives on Free Trade
While President Peña Nieto celebrates the Aztec Tiger, Mexico’s cartels reach deeper into the legal economy.
Christy Thornton and Adam Goodman July 15, 2014
Since 2006, more than 100,000 people have been disappeared or killed in Mexico, a country where more than 90 percent of crimes go unpunished. While running for president in 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto promised a new security strategy for the country, and an end to the highly militarized campaign waged by his predecessor, Felipe Calderón. Since taking office, however, Peña Nieto’s strategy has focused not on the safety of its people but on the confidence of its international investors. To make Mexico more attractive to overseas capital, he has pursued a market-based reform agenda that includes a technocratic overhaul of education, a move to shake up the telecommunications sector and the opening of the energy sector to foreign private investment. New narratives about the “Aztec Tiger” won’t make the kidnappings, beheadings and mass graves disappear, but Peña Nieto is doing everything he can to make foreign investors forget about them.
The irony of touting market-based reforms as a means of sweeping the drug trade under the rug is that the cartels themselves have become some of the most ruthlessly effective multinational capitalist enterprises in Mexico. The cartels are beginning to diversify, making money not just from drugs and other criminal activities like kidnapping and human trafficking but increasingly from control over industries like mining, logging and shipping.
Meanwhile, finance and real estate sectors in Mexico and the United States are awash with cartel profits, with one United Nations analyst arguing that drug money was the “only liquid investment capital” that kept the international economy from completely imploding in 2008. Over the last few decades Mexican capitalism has become a tangled web of legal and illegal activity, and the distinctions between licit and illicit economies have become increasingly blurred. The policies of the Mexican and US governments are only accelerating this trend.
There are two separate but deeply connected histories that have created the situation in Mexico today: first, the neoliberal restructuring of the economy that began in the 1980s; and second, the rise of the drug trade and the cartels that control it. Squarely at the center of both stories has been the Mexican state, whose corruption, incompetence and often contradictory policy choices (in tandem with those of the United States) have served to create vast sums of wealth for a few, while heightening insecurity for Mexico’s working people. When we talk about the drug trade, we are talking about a deeply entrenched part of contemporary capitalism in Mexico, not its undoing.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Wed Jul 23, 2014, 03:53 AM (2 replies)
Across Latin America, a Struggle for Communal Land and Indigenous Autonomy
Sunday, 20 July 2014 00:00
By Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F., Truthout | News Analysis
Communal Land and Autonomy
Entering into the heart of indigenous communities in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, land of the Mixtecs and the Zapotecs, is like opening a door to a world of shapes, textures, colors and flavors that contrasts with the Western culture that governs daily life in big cities and westernized families. These indigenous communities are strongly tied to the mountains, to the smell of coffee that mixes with the smell of pines and the fragrance of flowers, to the legends that are woven by looms into clothing. All this takes place in lands that cannot be bought or owned.
If poetry, legends, clothing and food are the ways in which the ancestral culture of the indigenous Oaxacans is materialized and maintained, then "uses and customs" is the living expression of the political system of these communities, which has maintained its legitimacy historically, like any other state system. Of the 570 municipalities in the state of Oaxaca, 418 are governed through the traditional form of political organization of "uses and customs." Only 152 have adopted a conventional system using political parties, a striking reality that is not just relevant in Mexico but in all of Latin America.
As an example, Bolivia is the country with the largest indigenous population in Latin America; according to the UN, 62 percent of Bolivians are part of an indigenous group. Only 11 local governments, however, are recognized as autonomous, with the right to elect their authorities through their own "uses and customs" system.
Oaxaca, one of Mexico's 31 states, has the country's highest level of diversity as well as the largest indigenous population. Of the 3.5 million inhabitants in the state, according to official statistics, more than one-third of the population is of indigenous origin (1,165,186 individuals). However, it wasn't until 1995 that all the municipalities' normative systems of "uses and customs" were legally recognized in Oaxaca's state congress.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Tue Jul 22, 2014, 10:44 AM (0 replies)
Ethnic cleansing on Peru's jungle border
Submitted by WW4 Report on Mon, 07/21/2014 - 19:50 Amazon Theater
Highly vulnerable "uncontacted" indigenous bands who recently emerged in the Brazil-Peru border region have said that they were fleeing violent attacks in Peru. FUNAI, Brazil's indigenous affairs agency, has announced that the uncontacted bands have returned once more to their forest home. Seven members of the band made peaceful contact with a settled indigenous Ashaninka community near the Ríó Envira in Brazil's Acre state three weeks ago. A government health team was dispatched and has treated seven band members for flu. FUNAI has announced it will reopen a monitoring post on the Rió Envira which it closed in 2011 after it was overrun by drug traffickers. Survival International called the emerging news "extremely worrying," noting that isolated indigenous groups lack immunity to the flu, which has wiped out entire tribes in the past. Brazilian experts believe that the isolated bands, who belong to the Panoan linguistic group, crossed over the border from Peru into Brazil due to pressures from illegal loggers and drug traffickers on their land.
Survival also protested plans to expand the Camisea gas project, located in the Nahua-Nanti reserve for isoalted indigenous groups, and Canadian-Colombian oil giant Pacific Rubiales' current exploration on lands inhabited by the Matsés tribe and their "uncontacted" neighbors. Both projects will bring hundreds of oil and gas workers into the lands of isolated groups, introducing the risk of deadly diseases and violent encounters, Survival asserted. Survival has launched an urgent petition to the Brazilian and Peruvian governments demadning that they protect the lands of "uncontacted" indigenous groups, and called on the authorities to honor their commitments of cross-border cooperation.
Survival’s director Stephen Corry said: "This news could hardly be more worrying —not only have these people confirmed they suffered violent attacks from outsiders in Peru, but they have apparently already caught flu. The nightmare scenario is that they return to their former villages carrying flu with them. It's a real test of Brazil's ability to protect these vulnerable groups. Unless a proper and sustained medical program is immediately put in place, the result could be a humanitarian catastrophe." (Survival International, July 21)
Posted by Judi Lynn | Tue Jul 22, 2014, 09:44 AM (0 replies)
July 21, 2014
Obama Aid Ravages Third World Farmers
by JAMES BOVARD
President Obama proclaimed two years ago: “As the wealthiest nation on Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger.” Obama loves to preen about the U.S. government’s purported generosity to the world’s downtrodden. However, like previous presidents, he has largely ignored how U.S. aid programs clobber recipients.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the sordid history of U.S. food aid. Food for Peace was devised in 1954 to help dump abroad embarrassingly huge crop surpluses fomented by high federal price supports. The primary purpose of Public Law 480 (in which the program is embodied) has been to hide the evidence of the failure of other farm programs. Although PL-480 sometimes alleviates hunger in the short run, the program disrupts local agricultural markets and makes it harder for poor countries to feed themselves in the long run.
The Agriculture Department (USDA) buys crops grown by American farmers, has them processed or bagged by U.S. companies, and pays lavishly to send them overseas in U.S.-flagged ships. At least 25 percent of food aid must be shipped from Great Lakes ports, per congressional mandate. Once the goods arrive at their destination, the Agency for International Development (AID) often takes charge or bestows the food on private relief organizations.
In the 1950s and 1960s massive U.S. wheat dumping in India disrupted India’s agricultural market and helped bankrupt thousands of Indian farmers. In 1984 George Dunlop, chief of staff of the Senate Agriculture Committee, speculated that American food aid may have been responsible for the starvation of millions of Indians. The Indian government generated fierce hostility from the U.S. government because of its pro-Soviet leanings in the Cold War. In a secret White House tape in 1971, Richard Nixon declared, “The Indians need — what they really need is a mass famine.” The story behind Nixon’s deprecation is told in a new book, The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, by Gary Bass.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Tue Jul 22, 2014, 04:28 AM (1 replies)
Ortega calls attack on supporters in Nicaragua a "massacre"
July 22, 2014, 2:34 pm
Managua (AFP) - President Daniel Ortega on Monday slammed as a "massacre" an attack on his political supporters that killed five people and left 28 more hurt.
"This was a genuine massacre, one that has been condemned by the nation," the leftist president said at a memorial for the dead at a convention center, carried on state and pro-government media.
Unidentified assailants opened fire late Saturday, in Matagalpa department, on buses bringing supporters back from a party in Managua to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the 1979 revolution.
The civilian Sandinista party supporters "were ambushed on a highway with rifles (by men) who fired on buses bringing some of the families that had come (to the capital area) for the event," Ortega added.
"These are expressions of rancor, of hatred. ... They are a minority, but they are there, latent and suddenly crop up in abominable deeds like these," the president said.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Tue Jul 22, 2014, 04:02 AM (2 replies)
The Argentina Debt Case
Posted on July 22, 2014 by Yves Smith
By Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics and Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Originally published in Frontline (India)
Almost everyone now knows that the world of international finance is not a particularly robust one, nor is it particularly just or fair. But it has just got even weirder and more fragile, if this can be imagined. A recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, refusing to hear an appeal by the government of Argentine against a decision of a lower court on a case relating to its debt restructuring agreement with creditors over a decade ago, is not just a blow against the state and people of Argentina. It has the potential to undermine the entire system of cross-border debt that underlies global capitalism today.
The case has its origins in the 1990s, when the government of Carlos Menem fixed the Argentine peso at the value of one U.S. dollar, through a currency board arrangement that restricted base money supply to the amount of external reserves and sought to increase its spending through the build-up of external debt. This was obviously an unsustainable strategy, which exploded in a financial crisis in 2001, bringing on a major devaluation of the currency and a default on around $100 billion of external debt.
In 2005, the government of Nestor Kirchner, which had then managed to revive the economy to some extent, offered its creditors debt swaps that significantly restructured the debts. Since Argentine bonds were anyway trading at a fraction of their face value in the secondary market, this deal, which reduced the value of the debt by nearly 75 per cent, was acceptable to most of the multinational banks and other creditors. (Since unpaid interest is added on to the principal and compounded, the actual face value of the debt in such cases is typically much more than the amount originally borrowed or lent out.) Indeed, creditors holding 93 per cent of government bonds participated in the debt swaps of 2005 and 2010.
However, a tiny minority of creditors held out and refused to accept the negotiated settlement. These then sold their holdings to hedge funds (in this case known as “vulture funds” that take on distressed assets in the hope of recouping a higher value from them). One of the most prominent of these funds in the Argentine case is NML Capital, a subsidiary of Elliot Capital Management, which is run by U.S. billionaire and major Republican party donor Paul Singer. This fund has a history of using aggressive tactics to force struggling sovereign debtors to pay the full value of debts that have already been deeply discounted by the market. In the past, it has successfully sued the governments of Peru and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Ever since it bought Argentine bonds at around 20 per cent of the face value in 2008, it has been pursuing the case both legally and physically. In 2012, it hired mercenaries to detain and try to seize an Argentine ship where it was docked off the coast of Ghana; at another time it even attempted to grab the Argentina Presidential plane from an airport—as “collateral” for its supposed holding of debt. Legally, NML Capital and another vulture fund, Aurelius Capital Management LP, have been pursuing a case in a New York district court, demanding full payment on their debt, of the value of around $1.5 billion. It has been estimated by the Argentine government that this could amount to a return of more than 1600 per cent on the initial investment made by these vulture funds.
Posted by Judi Lynn | Tue Jul 22, 2014, 03:43 AM (1 replies)