Judi LynnJudi Lynn's Journal
Another journalist murdered in Honduras, no end to violence in sight
Published on Friday 30 May 2014
Reporters Without Borders is shocked to learn that community radio journalist Hernán Cruz Barnica was murdered near Dulce Nombre, a town in the western department of Copán, on the evening of 28 May. He was shot three times in the head.
Cruz hosted Otro Nivel, a daily programme about human rights in the region, for local community radio station Opoa, la Voz de la Esperanza.
We urge the authorities to do everything possible to identify those responsible for this horrible crime and bring them to trial, said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.
Coming less than two months after Radio Progreso employee Carlos Mejía Orellana was murdered in his home in the northern city of El Progreso on 11 April, Cruzs murder shows that the situation for journalists continues to be very dangerous in Honduras.
The War On Coal Miners: How Companies Hide The Threat Of Black Lung From Watchdogs And Workers
Posted: 05/29/2014 10:14 pm EDT Updated: 10 minutes ago
The dust was so thick that Justin Greenwell could barely see what was in front of him.
A 29-year-old miner, Greenwell had grown accustomed to working in the coal dust below ground in the Parkway Mine in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Yet the prevalence of the dust in the air bothered Greenwell more and more. He'd labored for seven years in the mines, and already he was experiencing shortness of breath when he worked on his farm on the weekends.
Prolonged exposure to coal dust leads to coal worker's pneumoconiosis, known colloquially as black lung. It's a miserable disease that forces miners to live out their last days coughing and gasping for air. To protect employees, mine operators are required by law to keep their coal dust levels in check. While inspectors do some of the monitoring, the operators themselves also collect samples and provide them to federal regulators to prove they're in compliance.
According to Greenwell, there was a simple reason the Parkway Mine managed to avoid fines despite all the dust: Its operator, Armstrong Coal, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Armstrong Energy, was submitting misleading samples to regulators.
"It's been going on since I started there," Greenwell alleged in an interview. "All these guys in management, they know it's wrong. But they don't care about our health."
Uruguay's José Mujica: the 'humble' leader with grand ideas
Interview with the former Marxist guerrilla turned president, who shares his views on same-sex marriage, drugs and abortion
Nicolas Bourcier and Christine Legrand
Guardian Weekly, Tuesday 27 May 2014 08.11 EDT
For many years he would go to bed early listening to what ants whispered in his ear. Sometimes he would chat with a frog or two, maybe share a hunk of bread with some rats. José Mujica, aka Pépé, is a survivor from a world he himself wiped off the map. A former leader of the Marxist Tupamaros, the country's main guerrilla group, he spent 13 years in prison under the military dictatorship in Uruguay, which held power from 1973 to 1985. Then he turned over a new leaf and devoted his efforts to restoring democracy.
In November 2009 he was elected president, polling 53% of the vote. "Locked up, I almost went mad," he says. "Now I'm a prisoner of my own freedom to think and decide as I wish. I cultivate that freedom and fight for it. I may make mistakes, some huge, but one of my few virtues is I say what I think."
To see him today, now aged 78, sitting on his wooden chair, surrounded by books and silence, a pair of sandals on his feet and a bust of Che Guevara opposite him, you might take Mujica for some Latino Diogenes, a benevolent patriarch, the last man on Earth and obviously indignant. He is also one of the few people to have experienced nothingness, spending two years' captivity at the bottom of a well.
He describes himself as a "humble peasant", meeting us at his small farm out in the countryside, about half an hour's drive from Montevideo. He speaks of himself and his native Uruguay in the first person plural: "We are a republican voice for the world." By which, one supposes, he means a possible future, a path, however modest, to take for the common good with politics as its ethical base and honesty as its guiding light. "I re-read Plato in search of keys to understand what is going on, for nothing is completely new," he explains. A very personal way of recalling the warning he issued to the United Nations general assembly in September 2013: "Politics, which should rule human relations, has succumbed to economics and become a mere administrator of what the financial system does not control."
The international media have described him as "the most incredible politician" or indeed "the best leader in the world". Some have suggested he should win the next Nobel peace prize. He is also thought to be the world's poorest president, because he gives almost 90% of his income to low-income housing organisations. He is not very keen on such labels. "My definition of poverty is the one we owe to Seneca: It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor."
May 27, 2014
All About Nationhood
Dispatch From Bolivia
by CHELLIS GLENDINNING
Independence Day in Sucre was the most electrifying day in the Andes since Cochabamba doctorsarmed with rocks and in full white-coat-stethoscope regaliahurled themselves into street battle against the police and the police hurled their computers into bonfires and burned down their own stations.
Preparation for the grand event celebrating the Grito de Libertad began weeks in advance when workers of this White City set up scaffolding for the annual re-whitening of the Casa de Libertad in Plaza 25 de mayo. The paint businesses on Avenida Jaime Mendoza then realized their raison dêtre as every home-owning Sucreño within ten blocks joined the effort to repaint their façades white. But that wasn´t all. In the week before, the other business to bolster its bank account from the patriotic frenzythat of scaffolding assembly/disassemblywent into high gear to construct and deconstruct platforms and tiered seating for the outdoor concerts, fashion shows, and information tents that would whip up anticipation before the arrival of the Big Day.
25 de mayo 1809. Said Big Day is the moment in history when independence from their colonizers was declaredright here in Sucreand the true inheritors of this Andes terrain began their long journey toward post-Inca, post-Spain nation-statehood. The Casa de Libertad, often termed a sacred place, is the gloriously white colonial building where the country´s first congress was held, Sucre was named the capital of Bolivia, the Declaración de Independencia was written and signed, and the first Bolivian flag was raised. Its place in history today is as a museum honoring the heroism of past paisanos, most notably Juana Azurduy de Padilla, and a backdrop for such cultural events as guitar concerts and rites-of-passage for dignitaries.
The corner of Aniceto Arce and Hernando Siles, where I am staying, is the appointed gathering place for marching bands, neighborhood associations, and worker syndicates who will parade by the Casa de Libertad, and so I had to muscle my way through the heaving crowds of campesinos and trabajadores to arrive at the plaza. Vale la pena, I say, because after scooting up Calle España, I found myself standing in the second row of a mass of excited Bolivians smack in front of the Casa de Libertad; upon the newly-restored balcony above stood President Evo Morales in his tri-color sash and el Vice Álvaro García Linera festooned in the gold medallion of Simón Bolivar. The energy in the air was like that of a rocket taking offthat just keeps taking off and taking off and taking off. ¡Ole! The marching drums, trumpets, tubas, and cymbals of military training colleges from La Paz, Santa Cruz, et al. strode proudly by in their green uniforms, in their camouflage suits, in their ironed khakis to the thundering beat of military rhythms. Evo waved at comrades he picked out in the crowd below. The men and women of the armed forces made their dramatic display for the Mandatario next. The army! The air force! And yes the navy. The navy is a special story as Bolivia lost claim to its Pacific Ocean ports between 1879 and 1883 when neighbor Chile pilfered Bolivia´s coastal ports, as the story is told, at the moment that every Bolivian soldier was plastered on the home-made corn liquor known as chicha in celebration of Carnaval. 135 years later, the outrage remains El Numero Uno unresolved issue that every presidentdictator, liberal, or socialistreinserts into national consciousness to win friends, influence people, and bolster emotions for the nation-state.
Still, after all these years since that first grito, a country that is actually made up of 30-something historically separate Native groups, only truly launched its expedition toward the political identity of a nation-state during the 1932-35 Guerra del Chaco against Paraguay. The dynamic between decentralization and centralization is as present now as it was when the Inca roved across the altiplano with big-time plans for amalgamation on the tips of their tongues and spears; it manifests itself as debates about the meaning of the 2009 renaming of the country as Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, about the weight of power among the Palace in La Paz, the nine departments, and the village-communities; about the nature of responsible development in a world going to ecological hell in a hand basket.
Ancient 'Fish Lizard' Graveyard Discovered Beneath Melting Glacier
By Tanya Lewis, Staff writer | May 28, 2014 10:30am ET
Dozens of nearly complete skeletons of prehistoric marine reptiles have been uncovered near a melting glacier in southern Chile.
Scientists found 46 specimens from four different species of extinct ichthyosaurs. These creatures, whose Greek name means "fish lizards," were a group of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, about 245 million to 90 million years ago.
The newly discovered skeletons are from both embryos and adults. The creatures, likely killed during a series of catastrophic mudslides, were preserved in deep-sea sediments that were later exposed by the melting glacier, the researchers said in the study, published May 22 in the journal Geological Society of America Bulletin. (See Photos of the Ichthyosaur Graveyard Found in Chile)
Groups file U.S. data request on four 'terrorists' arrested in Cuba
By David Adams
MIAMI Thu May 29, 2014 4:46pm EDT
(Reuters) - Two U.S. groups critical of the government's counter-terrorism policies have asked the Obama administration to release information about four Miami exiles arrested last month in Cuba and accused of planning armed attacks against the island.
The groups filed joint Freedom of Information Act requests this week asking the FBI, CIA and State Department for any information they have on the four men, as well as records relating to several other Cuban Americans in Miami linked to armed attacks against Cuba.
"Instead of allowing U.S. soil to be used as a staging post for terrorism, the U.S. government needs to state across the board that it is not selective in its repudiation of terrorism," Brian Becker, director of the anti-war ANSWER Coalition, told reporters at a press conference on Thursday to announce the requests.
"Cuba has asked the U.S. government for cooperation and the public has a right to know the truth," added Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, which is seeking the release of a group of unregistered Cuban government agents convicted of spying in the United States.
Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/29/us-usa-cuba-terrorism-idUSKBN0E928420140529?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=401
Source: New York Times
Lawmakers Ask State Dept. to Review Support for Honduras
By ELISABETH MALKINMAY 29, 2014
MEXICO CITY More than 100 members of the House of Representatives, outlining the deteriorating human rights situation in Honduras, urged the State Department on Wednesday to press the Honduran government to protect human rights and ensure the rule of law.
In the past few months, international organizations have raised renewed concern over the targeted killings of journalists and advocates for human and land rights.
The letter to Secretary of State John Kerry was signed by 108 members of Congress, led by Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois. In it, the lawmakers argued that the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández has adopted policies that threaten to make the human rights situation even worse by promoting a militarized police force and using its army for domestic law enforcement.
The letter called on the State Department to evaluate Washingtons support and training for the Honduran police and military.
In its 2013 human rights report, the State Department acknowledged the severity of human rights abuses in Honduras. It described the corruption, intimidation, and institutional weakness of the justice system leading to widespread impunity, along with unlawful and arbitrary killings by security forces, organized criminal elements, and others.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/29/world/americas/lawmakers-ask-state-dept-to-review-support-for-honduras.html
Source: Colombia Reports/El Espectador
Caracas mayor alleges US, Colombia plot to assassinate Venezuelan president
May 28, 2014 posted by Tim Hinchliffe
The mayor of Venezuelas capitol has accused Colombia and the US of conspiring to stage a coup to assassinate the Venezuelan president, Colombian newspaper El Espectador reported on Wednesday.
Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodriguez claimed to have evidence of the coup and assassination plans from intercepted emails allegedly sent between Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, among others, and the USs newly-appointed ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker.
We announce ( ) that there is a complex plan aimed at ending the peace in this country, including, in the first place, the assassination attempt ( ) from Venezuelas right-wing attempt to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro along with a military coup in development, which has fortunately been disabled, said Rodriguez.
The Venezuelan mayor said that the protests were just one phase of an ongoing coup aimed at destabilizing the region and eliminating President Maduro, so that foreign intervention could be imposed.
The alleged email went on to read, We have a stronger checkbook than the regime, for to break the international security ring that they themselves had created.
Read more: http://colombiareports.co/caracas-mayor-alleges-us-colombia-plot-assassinate-venezuelan-president/
As Guatemala replaces attorney general, some see setback to rule of law
By Benjamin Reeves
McClatchy Foreign StaffMay 28, 2014 Updated 21 minutes ago
Claudia Paz y Paz, appointed the attorney general in December 2010, who won the first convictions against officers
accused in some of the worst massacres, sits in her office in February 2013 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. She has now
been replaced by a new attorney general who is closely aligned with Guatemala's former dictator.
VICTOR J. BLUE NYT [/font]
Antigua, Guatemala The installation of a new attorney general with close ties to the party founded by former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt likely signals the end of any effort to pursue a genocide conviction against the retired general.
Former Supreme Court judge Thelma Esperanza Aldana Hernandez took office May 17 as attorney general, generating pessimism among judicial rights analysts who fear that she may cease prosecuting human rights and organized crime cases and focus on lesser street crime.
The selection process leading up to Aldanas appointment as attorney general was "irregular," said Angelina Godoy, director of the Center for Human Rights at the University of Washington. "Guatemala faces a huge challenge Its hard not to see recent events as setbacks."
News reports in Guatemala say Aldana may favor amnesty for crimes committed during the 1960-1996 civil war, and her selection is seen by many as a death knell for the genocide prosecution of Rios Montt, who ruled 1982-1983 in a particularly brutal phase of the war.
Torture in 2014: Stories of modern horror
Source: Wed, 28 May 2014 11:12 PM
Author: Amnesty International
This article was written exclusively for trust.org by Amnesty International
A Mexican woman is raped on a police bus, as officers cheer on the assailant; a Nigerian man still suffers from migraines four years after police repeatedly banged his head against a concrete wall; a woman from the Philippines still has flashbacks of the moment a soldier poured hot candle wax over her skin.
Torture is as alive as ever with Amnesty International documenting the use of torture techniques such as electroshocks, waterboarding and rape in more than 141 countries over the past five years.
It is happening across the world, in dark prison cells, secret detention centres and in broad daylight. Most of those responsible never face justice, and in the context of the overwhelming impunity torturers enjoy, government are sending a signal that the practice is allowed.
In some cases, torture is so brutal that individuals die. In others, men and women manage to survive and go on to dedicate their lives to bringing those responsible to jail and putting an end to impunity
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