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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Brazil: the First Republic under threat

16 octobre 2018

In the United States, it was not until the mid 1960s that the former slaves finally obtained the right to sit in the same buses as whites, to go to the same schools and, at the same time, accede to the right to vote. In Brazil, the right to vote for the poor dates from the 1988 constitution, just a few years before the first multi-racial elections in South Africa in 1994.

The comparison may shock: the population in Brazil is much more mixed than the two other countries. In 2010, in the last census, 48% of the population declared themselves to be ‘white’, 43% ‘mixed’, 8% ‘black’ and 1% ‘Asian’ or ‘natives’. In reality, more than 90% of Brazilians are of mixed origin. The fact remains that social and racial divisions are closely linked. While Brazil is not a country devoid of racism, it is sometimes described as the country of « cordial racism ». This is also a country where democracy is recent and fragile and at the moment is faced with a very serious crisis.

Brazil abolished slavery in 1888, at a time when the slaves still represented 30% of the population in some provinces, particularly in the sugar growing regions in the North East. Apart from the extreme case of slavery, this is a country where labour relations have long been extremely hard, in particular between the landowners and agricultural labourers or landless peasants. On the political level, the 1891 constitution was careful to specify that non-literate people would not have the right to vote, a rule that was also incorporated into the constitutions of 1934 and 1946. This permitted the exclusion of 70% of the adult population from the participation in the electoral process in 1890, and still over 50% in 1950 and 20% in 1980. In practice these were not only former slaves but more generally the poor who were thus excluded from the political scene for a century. In comparison, India had no hesitation in implementing genuine universal suffrage as from 1947, despite the huge social and status divisions inherited from the past and the immense poverty of the country.

In Brazil, despite the political exclusion of the illiterate no proactive education policy was implemented. The reason why inequality has remained so widespread in the country is primarily because the property-owning classes have never really attempted to reverse the heavy historical legacy. The quality of the public services and schools open to the majority has long remained extremely inadequate and is still insufficient today.


Anomalously Huge Planets Have Been Detected Orbiting a Bafflingly Young Star

This shouldn't be possible.


A wee baby star at the tender age of just 2 million years has revealed itself to be quite the precocious little cosmic object.

Astronomers have discovered it has not one, but four planets in the protoplanetary disc of dust and gas that surrounds it - and they are all gargantuan, with the biggest coming in at 11 times the mass of Jupiter, and the smallest about the mass of Saturn.

Moreover, their orbits are incredibly distant. The outermost is more than 1,000 times the distance from the star than the innermost. That's the most extreme range of orbits ever observed in a planetary system; Pluto, for context, is only around 102 times the distance from the Sun as Mercury.

The star is named CI Tau, located around 500 light-years away in a star-forming region of the constellation of Taurus, and it's been a bit of a brain teaser since 2016. That's when the first of its planets - the largest of the four, the super-Jupiter named CI Tau b - was discovered, orbiting really close to the star, completing a full orbit every 9 days.


10 years after the military murdered their sons, women doubt if justice in Colombia will ever prevai

by Adriaan Alsema October 15, 2018

Dozens of women whose sons were murdered by Colombia’s military went to mass on Sunday to demand justice for one of the worst war crimes in the history of the country’s armed conflict.

Ten years after the Washington Post and weekly Semana revealed that the military was executing civilians and falsely presenting them as guerrillas killed in combat, many of the victims’ families have yet to find out what happened.

Since the prosecution discovered the first “false positives” and the scandal broke in 2008, there have been reports indicating that the military assassinated between 4,200 and 10,000 innocent civilians after 2002.

. . .

The women successfully sued former President Alvaro Uribe for calling their murdered family members “bums,” but instead of justice for the mass murder of their loved ones they received death threats.


Brazil Is Falling Under an Evil Political Spell

Brazil Is Falling Under an Evil Political Spell
Brazil is falling under an evil political spell. The leading candidate in the presidential election is Jair Bolsonaro, an extreme right-wing politician. It is as if voters are sleepwalking their way to destruction of Brazilian democracy. Under the spell’s influence, they have become blind to the truth about Brazilian politics and blind to their better nature.

The resurrection of the fascist political tradition
Bolsonaro represents the resurrection of the fascist political tradition. That tradition discards norms of decency, tolerance, compromise and due process whenever they obstruct taking power.

He is an open advocate of racism, sexism, torture, and police execution squads. Those views are paired with a neoliberal economic program which aims to savage Brazil’s welfare state and privatize key state assets. That economic program has won him the support of the business elite, which has been willing to overlook his fascist inclinations as part of the bargain.

Brazil is sleepwalking
Bolsonaro’s popularity is inconsistent with Brazil’s expressed political preferences, which is why it is as if Brazil is sleepwalking. Past polls have shown about 65 percent of Brazilians support democracy.

Even more striking is the fact that former President Lula was the most popular political figure prior to the election. However, Brazil’s corrupt political elite imprisoned him on fake corruption charges and, with Lula barred from the election, Bolsonaro has become the front-runner. That speaks to the blinding power of the evil spell since Bolsonaro is the polar opposite of Lula.



BY DAN CANCIAN ON 10/14/18 AT 9:04 AM

An archbishop who strongly opposed the military dictatorship in El Salvador has been canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday in Vatican City.

Oscar Romero was shot dead by a sniper while leading mass at the Church of the Divine Providence, a hospital chapel in the country’s capital, San Salvador, on March 24, 1980.

The murder came just a day after Romero had spoken to soldiers, pleading with them to stop the repression that descended into a bloody civil war. His assassination was one of the most shocking developments in the long-running conflict between the U.S.-backed regime, right-wing death squads and left-wing rebels.

Between 1979 and 1992, the Salvadoran Civil War killed almost 75,000 people and saw many Salvadorans fleeing the country. Like many priests, Romero was outspoken in criticizing both sides of the divide, blasting the rebels and the regime for inflicting untold devastation on the country’s most disadvantaged citizens.


'Flowering of hate': bitter election brings wave of political violence to Brazil

Supporters of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is leading in polls, have attacked journalists and activists

Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro
Fri 12 Oct 2018 02.00 EDT

The two contenders in Brazil’s bitterly contested presidential race have urged calm after a wave of attacks on journalists, activists and members of the LGBT community by supporters of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro including beatings, a knife attack and a murder.

Supporters of the former paratrooper – himself the victim of an assassination attempt last month – have also reportedly been targeted with violence.

But an investigation by independent journalism group Agência Publica found that an overwhelming majority of the violence was committed by supporters of Bolsonaro, who polls give a 16-point lead over his leftist opponent, Fernando Haddad, ahead of the second-round runoff on 28 October.

Agência Pública said bolsonaristas were behind 50 separate attacks since 30 September. In the same period, six Bolsonaro supporters were assaulted, the report found.

“There is a flowering of hate that I have never seen before,” said a reporter who was attacked by Bolsonaro supporters in the north-eastern city of Recife. “I am frightened because it could be anyone now.”


'Deeply concerning': Canada pension fund invests in US immigration detention firms

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has $5.9m of stock in firms profiting from Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ Mexico border policy

This story is co-published with the Documented news website and newsletter

Max Siegelbaum of Documented
Fri 12 Oct 2018 06.00 EDT

Canadian politicians have expressed alarm that one of Canada’s biggest pension investment funds has increased holdings in two private US companies that run American prisons and incarcerate the majority of detained immigrants.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which manages $366.6bn in pension funds on behalf of some 20 million Canadian retirees, holds US$5.9m of stock in Geo Group and CoreCivic, according to its latest US Security and Exchange Commission filings.

The move to increase holdings comes despite criticisms from Canadian politicians about US detention policies and following international outcry over the US “zero-tolerance” crackdown this summer on the US-Mexico border that led to children being separated from families.

Between August 2017 and 2018, the CPPIB grew its investment in Geo Group almost 13-fold to 153,500 shares worth $4.2m, according to filings from August 2018.


Salvadorans await justice in civil war killings as one of its first victims sainted

Source: Guardian

Archbishop Óscar Romero, an advocate for the poor, was one of 75,000 killed by the country’s US-backed military

Anna-Catherine Brigida in San Salvador
Sun 14 Oct 2018 04.00 EDT

When Guadalupe Mejía began searching for her husband – a community leader who had been forcibly disappeared by Salvadoran armed forces in 1977 – it was Óscar Romero who encouraged her to speak out despite the danger.

“Unite and that’s how you’ll be able to find your loved ones,” Mejía, 75, remembers the archbishop of San Salvador telling her and other bereaved women. “He supported us and was always beside us in everything we did.”

Romero earned powerful enemies for speaking out against military death squads and advocating for the rights of the poor – and on 24 March 1980 he was shot dead while celebrating mass, marking the beginning of the country’s 12-year civil war.

But as Salvadorans celebrate his canonization, pride and joy are tempered with anger and pain: 75,000 people were killed during the civil war, the majority at the hands of the US-backed Salvadoran military.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/14/el-salvador-oscar-romero-civil-war-saint-justice

Colombia registers 14% increase in infants dying of starvation

by Adriaan Alsema October 8, 2018

Colombia’s Ombudsman’s Office rang the alarm over a 14% increase in child deaths due to starvation or related illnesses last week, but the report has largely been ignored by authorities.

According to the government’s human rights office, 162 children under five died of starvation and associated causes of death between January 1 and September 8 this year.

Twenty-one more children died this year compared to the same period in 2017, despite of former Family Welfare director Karen Abudinen’s promise to increase government action to prevent preventable child deaths due to hunger exactly a year ago.

More than 160 dead children later, Abudinen left office quietly in August when President Ivan Duque took over power from his predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos.

Child mortality is most prevalent in the north of Colombia, particularly in the province of La Guajira, where national soft drink giant Postobon allegedly used children suffering food and water shortages as lab rats to test a new drink.

The department has been battered by corruption and the infiltration of regional mafias in government. Two former La Guajira governors are in prison, one because she was embezzling money meant to feed children.



OCTOBER 10, 2018

Jair Bolsonaro’s rise shows the worrying possibility of a return to military rule…


On October 7th, Congressman Jair Messias Bolsonaro secured a place in Brazil’s presidential runoff election. Bolsonaro is competing against Fernando Haddad from the center-left Workers’ Party (PT). Haddad is a moderate college professor and the former mayor of São Paulo, chosen by the PT to replace the popular but highly divisive former President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva who remains jailed under corruption charges. Bolsonaro entered the presidential race in a minuscule political party—the Brazilian system is full of them—called the Social Liberal Party (PSL), which had only one representative in the lower house before this election. His campaign, improvised and informal, focused on distributing memes and spreading fake news on WhatsApp. Nonetheless, Bolsonaro swept the first round with forty-six percent of the votes against Haddad’s twenty-nine percent, disproving every pundit and opinion poll. Until weeks ago, this outcome seemed unlikely. Yet, a closer look at Brazil’s history of military rule helps explain the appeal of Bolsonaro’s deeply reactionary politics.

While voting to impeach Dilma Rousseff, the first woman President of Brazil, on the Congress floor on April 17, 2016, Bolsonaro declared: “They lost in ‘64, they lost now in 2016 … against Communism, for our freedom … in memory of Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, the terror of Dilma Rousseff … for our Armed Forces, I vote yea.” Carlos Ustra was a colonel in the Brazilian Army and the head of the DOI-CODI, a torture center that terrified Brazil while the country lived under military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985. During Ustra’s tenure from 1970 to 1973, DOI-CODI tortured more than 300 people, including pregnant women and children as young as five. Like most Brazilians, Bolsonaro was also well aware that in 1970, military officers had arrested and tortured former President Rousseff for twenty-two days for being a member of an urban guerrilla group that fought the dictatorship. By evoking the memory of a torturer, Bolsonaro knew which buttons to press.

Bolsonaro has spent his three-decade career in the Brazilian Congress building a public profile as an apologist for the military regime. His discourse reproduces a more pedestrian version of the mentality of the generals who ruled Brazil when Bolsonaro spent as an Army captain, following his graduation from the Agulhas Negras military academy in 1977. It reflects a shallow nationalism and an obsession with persecuting internal enemies—“communists,” “f—-ts,” “subversives,” and “Indians”— and appeals to using clandestine violence to purge the nation of them. It shows an extreme reverence for the Armed Forces, particularly the Army, as the bedrock of the republic, and displays bitter contempt for the electoral process based on the belief that the “rabble” does not know how to vote. In a now famous TV interview from 1999, Bolosonaro declared that the military dictatorship— its hundreds of extra-judicial killings and thousands of people tortured notwithstanding—had failed to “finish its job.” He continued, “You are not going to change anything through voting.” Change, whatever that meant, would only come through a “civil war,” with the Army resuming the dictatorship’s campaign against internal enemies and “killing at least 30,000” more, including most of the political class. In his rhetoric, LGBT and other minorities must learn their place and disappear from the public sphere. Political adversaries are crooked subversives who should be straightened with a “good” beating and electric shocks. And death squads are the permanent solution for common criminals.

There is no question Bolsonaro is a fascist. But he is a Brazilian kind of fascist, astute at drawing upon the aesthetics of violence of the Southern Cone military regimes for his own political gain. Bolsonaro spent most of his political career as a fringe politician. He was a joke to the mainstream media and nothing more than a curiosity nationwide. For a while, his appeal seemed limited to a niche electorate of retired military, police officers, and the then-minuscule far right in Rio de Janeiro. His rallying point, besides diatribes against democracy and human rights, was to improve the salary of personnel in the Armed Forces. This helped elected him to Congress seven times.

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