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Judi Lynn

Judi Lynn's Journal
Judi Lynn's Journal
May 27, 2024

Fishers decry 'underhanded' new initiative to protect Mexico's vaquita

by Daniel Shailer on 24 May 2024

  • Over the past two years, the Mexican Navy has installed hundreds of anti-trawling hooks to prevent vaquitas being caught in illegal gill nets in the Upper Gulf of California.

  • The long hooks, attached to concrete blocks, are designed to snag the gill nets that target totoaba fish, but which have become notorious for driving the vaquita porpoise to the brink of extinction.

  • The project was initially credited with an immediate drop in illegal fishing boats in the vaquita’s core habitat, but fishers from the community of San Felipe say new blocks were installed without warning outside the core habitat, snagging more of their equipment and creating ghost nets that could harm vaquitas.

  • Results from the latest vaquita population survey are expected in June; last year, scientists said as few as 10 of the critically endangered porpoises may still be alive.

The latest attempt to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise from being snagged in nets meant for the coveted totoaba fish may prove to be the most effective yet. But the way it’s being administered by the Mexican Navy is opaque and underhanded, local fishers say, and may even prove a threat to the species it purports to conserve.

Over the past two years, the Navy has placed hundreds of long metal hooks attached in pairs to concrete blocks in the Upper Gulf of California, off the coast of San Felipe, a fishing town in the Mexican state of Baja California. At first, all of the blocks were sunk in the vaquita’s core habitat, where fishing is banned entirely, called the zero tolerance area (ZTA).

The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) has been driven to the brink of extinction by gillnet fishing, a type of stationary trawling where a net is left hanging vertically in the water like a wall for fish to swim into. The holes in a gillnet are sized to capture specific animals, from shrimp to corvina, but are notorious for ensnaring marine megafauna such as sharks, turtles and cetaceans as bycatch.

There are between 10 and 13 vaquitas left in the world, according to the most recent survey last summer.

May 27, 2024

The Biden administration has a plan to shut down the border. But it needs Mexico's help.

The administration hopes to unveil a series of executive actions that President Biden can sign but will likely have to wait for the outcome of Mexico's June 2 presidential election.

May 23, 2024, 5:30 AM CDT
By Monica Alba, Julie Tsirkin and Julia Ainsley

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is finalizing details of a new executive action that would let the president temporarily shut the southern border to migrants if necessary, and it is in talks with Mexican leaders to get their crucial buy-in before proceeding, according to multiple officials familiar with the negotiations.

President Joe Biden directed top aides to develop plans to stem illegal migration months ago, and they are eyeing a presidential authority in the U.S. Code known as Section 212 (f), which would let the president unilaterally “suspend the entry” of specific groups of migrants whenever the number of attempted border crossings grew too great.

The administration hopes to unveil that and other executive actions in June, and it has been working with Mexico to get its cooperation on some key provisions, according to multiple officials familiar with the negotiations. No final decisions have been made, and the timing could shift.

A critical consideration is the coming presidential election in Mexico. On June 2 Mexican voters will choose a new president to serve a single six-year term.

Polls show a consistent lead for the left-leaning Claudia Sheinbaum, whose candidacy is supported by the outgoing administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.


May 27, 2024

A woman could be Mexico's next leader. Millions of others continue in shadows as domestic workers

Updated 11:02 PM CDT, May 26, 2024

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Concepcion Alejo is used to being invisible.

Alejo, 43, touches her face up with makeup on a Tuesday morning, and steps out of her tiny apartment on the fringes of Mexico City. She walks until the cracked gravel outside her home turns into cobblestones, and the campaign posters coating small concrete buildings are replaced with the spotless walls of gated communities of the city’s upper class.

It’s here where Alejo has quietly worked cleaning the homes and raising the children of wealthier Mexicans for 26 years.

Alejo is among approximately 2.5 million Mexicans — largely women — who serve as domestic workers in the Latin American nation, a profession that has come to encapsulate gender and class divisions long permeating Mexico.

Women like her play a fundamental role in Mexican society, picking up the burden of domestic labor as a growing number of women professionals enter the workforce. Despite reforms under the current government, many domestic workers continue to face low pay, abuse by employers, long hours and unstable working conditions some equate to “modern slavery.

. . .

“In a region like Latin America and the Caribbean, the history of slavery and colonialism continues to weigh on relationships to domestic workers even today in terms of class, race and gender dynamics,” she said.


May 26, 2024

Peruvian reporter is target of smear campaign after taking on political elite

Gustavo Gorriti, who has long exposed corruption, is the target of a criminal investigation campaigners call ‘politically motivated’

Dan Collyns in Lima
Fri 24 May 2024 07.30 ED

For more than four decades, Gustavo Gorriti has been a thorn in the side of corrupt elites, relentlessly uncovering government wrongdoing in Latin America – most recently exposing an unprecedented level of graft in Operation Car Wash, the continent-wide scandal that has ensnared nearly every elected Peruvian president of this century.

Gorriti made his name reporting the bloody rise of the Mao-inspired Shining Path. He was kidnapped by military intelligence agents during Alberto Fujimori’s 1992 power grab after unmasking his shadowy spymaster Vladimiro Montesinos.

Now at 76, the combative five-time former judo champion is facing a criminal investigation and a smear campaign unlike anything he has faced in the past. The assault comes as his body wrestles with aggressive lymphatic cancer. He completed chemotherapy in December – just as what he calls a “filthier kind of sickness” was pumped out in fake news outlets.

The “massive campaign of disinformation” led to him becoming the subject of a criminal investigation into claims he swapped “media support” for leaks from Operation Car Wash prosecutors.


~ ~ ~

Renowned Peruvian investigative reporter battles criminalized smear campaign — and cancer

Updated 12:25 AM CDT, April 28, 2024
LIMA, Peru (AP) — At age 75, one of Latin America’s most storied journalists had been looking forward to weaving into books the fragmented threads of more than four decades of investigative reporting that exposed high-level abuse of power in Peru and abroad.

In an illustrious career, Gustavo Gorriti has endured death threats from drug traffickers, survived Peru’s harrowing Shining Path insurgency and a kidnapping by silencer-toting military intelligence agents during a 1992 presidential power grab.

Then an aggressive lymphatic cancer struck, wasting the former five-time national judo champion’s robust physique. Diagnosed in August, Gorriti was in the final drips of two months of chemotherapy in December when a different kind of body blow landed.

A smear campaign — amplified by complicit, cowed or indifferent broadcast and print media — portrayed the self-styled “intelligence agent for the people” as Public Enemy No. 1, a ruthless, egotistical victimizer of innocents.

Gorriti is clear on who is behind it: A cabal of “kleptocrats” in Peru’s political and business elites who are in prosecutorial peril due in large part to his crowning gumshoe achievements. Their aim: “to liquidate all gains in the war on corruption.”


May 26, 2024

Beatings, brandings, suicides: life on plantations owned by Church of England missionary arm

Desirée Baptiste and Jon Ungoed-Thomas
Sat 25 May 2024 11.20 EDT

Documents from Lambeth Palace archives show how one of Justin Welby’s predecessors approved the purchase of enslaved people for the notorious Codrington sugar estate

  • Revealed: how Church of England’s ties to chattel slavery went to top of hierarchy

    Desirée Baptiste and Jon Ungoed-Thomas
    Sat 25 May 2024 11.20 EDT

    In the 18th century an enslaved mixed race woman named Quasheba escaped from a sugar plantation where she was held captive on Barbados. There are no records of Quasheba’s fate, but the horrific conditions from which she fled in 1783 are well-documented. She is simply recorded in official papers as “run away”.

    Other enslaved people on the same plantations killed themselves in the face of violence, punishment and tyranny. People transported from west Africa were forced “under the whip” to harvest canes and carry them to the mills to be crushed and boiled. Many were branded with hot irons.

    The sugar estate, known as the Codrington plantations, generated an estimated £5m a year in today’s money and covered 763 acres. It was owned and overseen by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the missionary arm of the Church of England.

    The Codrington estate is now one of the focal points in a public debate about the Church of England’s links to chattel slavery, in which people were traded as personal property.

  • May 26, 2024

    New Webb telescope photo truly boggles the mind

    Ancient collisions.
    By Mark Kaufman on May 22, 2024

    A deep view of the universe teeming with galaxies. Credit: ESA / Webb / NASA / CSA / J. Dunlop / D. Magee / P. G. Pérez-González / H. Übler / R. Maiolino, et. al

    Everywhere you look are galaxies.

    The powerful James Webb Space Telescope recently captured a new deep field view of the universe, which is a look into some of the farthest reaches of space. In the image below, the hundreds of objects you can see (except for the six-pointed stars in the foreground) are galaxies among the black ether of the cosmos, each teeming with stars and planets. Many are spirals, like our Milky Way galaxy. The deepest ones appear red, as the expanding universe has stretched their light into longer wavelengths of red light.

    This view, which looks back at galaxies billions of years ago — because it takes that long for such old light to reach us — reveals two galaxies and the black holes at their centers merging just some 740 million years after the Big Bang created our universe. The universe is now 13.7 billion years old.

    Specialized instruments aboard the Webb telescope called spectrographs — which separate different types of light into different color spectrums, similar to a prism — revealed dense gases rapidly spinning in the galaxies, which helped identify the black holes. (Black holes, wielding extreme gravities, pull matter around them in blazing-hot disks of matter, called accretion disks.)

    Astronomers have found that early black holes are extremely massive, which is unexpected because they're so young. But new evidence from Webb, like these new views, show the great mergers occurred long ago.

    "Our findings suggest that merging is an important route through which black holes can rapidly grow, even at cosmic dawn," Hannah Übler, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge who led the research, said in a statement. "Together with other Webb findings of active, massive black holes in the distant Universe, our results also show that massive black holes have been shaping the evolution of galaxies from the very beginning."

    Except for the six-pointed stars in the foreground, everything in this James Webb Space Telescope image is a galaxy. Credit: ESA / Webb / NASA / CSA / J. Dunlop / D. Magee / P. G. Pérez-González / H. Übler / R. Maiolino, et. al


    May 26, 2024

    Ecuador Investigates Eight Reported Extrajudicial Killings During State of Emergency

    By Reuters
    May 22, 2024, at 1:07 p.m.


    FILE PHOTO: Soldiers in an armored vehicle patrol the city's historic center following an outbreak of violence a day after Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency following the disappearance of Adolfo Macias, leader of the Los Choneros criminal gang from the prison where he was serving a 34-year sentence, in Quito, Ecuador, January 9, 2024. REUTERS/Karen Toro/File Photo

    By Alexandra Valencia and Oliver Griffin

    QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador's attorney general's office is investigating eight extrajudicial killings reported to have taken place during the country's most recent state of emergency, after rights groups warned authorities were not taking steps to prevent abuses.

    The killings are the most serious rights abuses reported by detained people, local advocacy groups and victims' families that allegedly took place during the January to April state of emergency.

    President Daniel Noboa declared the emergency amid spiraling violence in the Andean country, which officials blame on drug trafficking gangs. Under the measure Noboa deployed thousands of troops on streets and in prisons, with security forces making more than 18,000 arrests.

    The attorney general's office said it is also looking into dozens of accusations of torture and other alleged abuses. Neither the government nor the armed forces responded to requests for comment on alleged abuses.


    (Imagine this, in a country run by the country's one time wealthiest man, controlling the banana industry) who also lost many Presidential elections, himself!)

    ~ ~ ~

    Earlier statement from the Human Rights Watch, originally published in 2002:

    Ecuador: Escalating Violence Against Banana Workers

    Banana workers in Ecuador are facing an onslaught of illegal firings, violence, and intimidation as they try to exercise their rights to organize and strike, Human Rights Watch said today.

    The violence has been concentrated at the Los Álamos plantation group on Ecuador's southwestern coast, where at least ten striking workers were shot on May 16 by assailants. Los Álamos is owned by the Noboa Corporation, whose owner, Álvaro Noboa, is a leading presidential candidate in Ecuador's October elections.

    "The efforts to stop unions on the banana plantations have been going on for a long time, but now we're seeing a descent into pure thuggery," said Carol Pier, Labor Rights and Trade Researcher for Human Rights Watch. "The Ecuadorian government has a responsibility to prevent this kind of violence."

    On April 25, Human Rights Watch released Tainted Harvest: Child Labor and Obstacles to Organizing on Ecuador's Banana Plantations, a 114-page report that detailed impediments to unionization and the widespread use of hazardous child labor on Ecuador's banana plantations.

    In early March, workers from the Los Álamos plantation group petitioned the Ministry of Labor to recognize their recently-formed union. Shortly thereafter, approximately 124 Los Álamos workers were illegally fired, among them over a dozen union organizers. Although some workers were eventually allowed to resume their posts, others, including the union organizers, are still out of work.

    In late April, the Ministry of Labor recognized three trade unions formed by the workers from Los Álamos, a positive step towards respecting workers' right to organize.

    According to Ecuadorian workers' organizations, however, three more union activists were reportedly illegally fired on May 2. On May 6, largely in response to the firings, the workers of the Los Álamos plantation group declared a strike. Though a workers' organization allegedly requested police protection for the striking workers, none arrived until violence erupted.

    At approximately 2:00 AM on the morning of May 16, between 200 and 400 hooded, armed men entered the Los Álamos plantation group, where workers living on the plantations were sleeping. Reports indicate that the hooded men banged on workers' doors with rifle butts, dragged roughly eighty of them from their homes, hit many with rifle butts, insulted them, looted their homes, and told many that they would be killed and dumped into the river. The hooded men also fired at at least one striking worker, injuring him critically and causing the subsequent amputation of his leg. Approximately six hours later, about six policemen reportedly arrived at the plantations.

    "These actions, the illegal firings and the anti-striker violence, are blatant union-busting tactics and serious human rights abuses," said Pier. "They must not go unpunished."

    The armed men remained on the Los Álamos premises throughout the day on May 16 and into the early evening, at which time they allegedly told all striking workers to leave the premises by 6:30 PM or be forcibly evicted. Shortly after 6:00 PM, with the workers showing no sign of leaving, the armed men allegedly began shooting, critically injuring one worker and injuring several others and a policeman. Reports indicate that at 8:00 PM, police reinforcements finally arrived and arrested approximately twenty of the armed thugs.

    According to reports, the injured worker whose leg was later amputated needs blood transfusions, which he was allegedly initially denied because his employer failed to make mandatory Social Security payments as required by Ecuadorian law. To ensure that the injured worker received the necessary care, a workers' organization signed as guarantor.

    "This is an example of what happens when you have weak labor laws and even weaker enforcement," said Pier. "Workers should not be threatened, beaten, or shot for exercising their constitutionally protected and internationally recognized human rights."

    Human Rights Watch calls on the Ecuadorian government to undertake a comprehensive investigation of these disturbing reports of violence against striking banana workers. Anyone found responsible should be prosecuted. A complete investigation should examine whether these and any other perpetrators were hired by other interested parties, and if proven, those parties should also be brought to justice. The government must enforce its labor laws, which allow striking workers to remain on their employers' premises guarded by police and which state that police must take all necessary measures to guarantee the rights of striking workers and their employers and prevent entry into the workplace by agitators and strike breakers.


    May 26, 2024

    From Rebel to Prisoner and Leftist Latin American Icon, Pepe Mujica Reflects

    By Reuters
    May 25, 2024, at 7:02 a.m.

    By Lucinda Elliott

    MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - José Mujica, a one-time guerrilla, prisoner and later president of Uruguay who has cemented himself as an icon of the Latin American left, maintains that he is a farmer and nature lover above all else. At his smallholding on the outskirts of Uruguay's capital Montevideo, the former president who turned 89 this week said he still feeds the chickens and enjoys a turn on the tractor.

    "It's more entertaining than a car, you are in permanent contact with nature, with the bugs and the birds," Mujica said in an interview with Reuters at his unpretentious single-storey home.

    It is the same tin-roofed house where he chose to live throughout his presidency from 2010 to 2015, having refused to move into the presidential residence. The old VW Beetle he famously drove from the farm to work is still in "phenomenal" shape, he said, but on a tractor, "you have time to think."

    Mujica's progressive thoughts are what transformed him from a boy who helped his mother grow flowers and vegetables, to a beacon of the political left in South America. During his presidency, same-sex marriage, abortion and cannabis were legalized, a major shift for many in the predominantly Catholic continent.


    Mujica and wife, Lucia, when young

    Mujica as a rebel, imprisoned

    former President Mujica, taking President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva for a ride in his VW.

    Former President Pepe Mujica and wife, Senator Lucia Topolansky

    (As with many of Latin American countries, Paraguay suffered under a hard right, violent dictatorship, also not well acknowledged by US "news" media)

    May 26, 2024

    Revival of vinyl records in Brazil spares a 77-year-old singer - and others - from oblivion

    It took almost a half century for Brazilian singer Cátia de França to find her audience, but she finally has — with the help of a near-obsolete audio technology

    Gabriela S. Pessoa
    Monday 29 April 2024 05:03 BST

    It took almost a half century for Brazilian singer Cátia de França to find her audience, but she finally has — with the help of a near-obsolete audio technology.

    Born in Paraíba, a state in Brazil’s poor northeast region, 77-year-old de França’s blend of psychedelic rock with traditional rhythms and modernist poetry long went overlooked, even as she toured the nation in the 1970s and '80s.

    During the pandemic, she retreated to a conservation area in the mountains above Rio de Janeiro, “where you can’t even imagine an internet signal,” she told The Associated Press.

    Then one day in 2021 her phone rang. It was the co-founder of an independent label in Sao Paulo who wanted to reissue her 1979 debut album, “20 Palavras ao Redor do Sol" (20 Words Around the Sun), on vinyl.

    “I thought, ‘This must be a prank,’” de França recalled. “He started talking to me, and I realized it wasn’t.”


    “20 Palavras ao Redor do Sol" (20 Words Around the Sun)

    ETC., ETC., ETC.
    May 24, 2024

    How Ecuador went from being Latin America's model of stability to a nation in crisis

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license; written by Eduardo Gamarra, professor of politics and international relations at FIU.

    Politics, Law & SocietyFIU in the newsThe Conversation
    By Eduardo Gamarra

    January 16, 2024 at 8:54am

    That reputation has surely now been destroyed.

    On Jan. 9, 2024, images of hooded gunmen storming a TV studio were broadcast around the world. It was one of a number of violent incidents that took place that day, including prison riots, widespread hostage-taking, the kidnapping of several police officers and a series of car explosions.

    I have been tracking how gang crime has affected states in Latin America for 38 years. When I started, few would have projected that Ecuador would descend into the crisis it finds itself today. But the story of Ecuador reflects a wider story of how countries across Latin America have struggled with organized crime and transnational drug gangs and how they have responded.

    Ecuador now looks set to follow the recent path of El Salvador under President Nayib Bukele’s leadership in trying to crack the gang problem through the use of military and the suspension of democratic norms. In the aftermath of the Jan. 9 violence, Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa named 22 gangs as terrorist organizations – a designation that makes them legitimate military targets. He has also imposed a 60-day state of emergency, during which Ecuadorians will be subject to curfews while armed forces try to restore order in the streets and the country’s gang-controlled prisons.

    Ecuador: Victim of geography
    To understand why Ecuador has become the epicenter of gang violence, you need to understand both the geography and history of Latin America’s drug trade.

    Ecuador, a nation of 18 million people, is situated between Colombia in the north and Peru in the east and south. Colombia and Peru are the two top producers of cocaine in the world. Further, Ecuador has a near-1,400 mile (2,237-kilometer) coastline through which drugs from the continent can be taken to markets in Europe and the United States. But it wasn’t until the U.S.-led “war on drugs” put the squeeze on cartels in other countries that Ecuador became the preserve of narco gangs.


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