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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 142,656

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Political Prisoners are Victims Too

April 07, 2015

Political Prisoners are Victims Too

Simon Trinidad, Imprisoned, Connects with Colombian Peace Process

by W. T. WHITNEY, Jr.

Ricardo Palmera, alias “Simon Trinidad,” is a political prisoner and more. Even as such, his sixty-year sentence and constant solitary confinement are extraordinary. Post- sentencing legal services are not always available. His mail is blocked, visitors are limited, and he is shackled when they see him. Trinidad occupies a “Supermax” cell in the United States, in Colorado. In Colombia he’s an enemy of the state.

Simon Trinidad was a leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with responsibilities for political education, financial overview, and peace negotiations. He participated with the FARC in talks with the Colombian government in 1998-2002. In Ecuador prior to his capture in January 2004 – with CIA help – he was preparing to meet with United Nations representative James Lemoyne to review the situation of FARC prisoners of war.

On being detained, Trinidad was moved to Colombia, and then on December 31, 2004 he was extradited to the United States. Colombia had asked U.S. authorities to request his extradition. The United States at the time had no outstanding charges against him and Colombian officials had to fashion allegations. Later Colombian courts convicted Trinidad in absentia, and he faces jail time there.

Trinidad, although imprisoned in the United States, remains a political force beyond prison walls. The FARC’s negotiations with the Colombian government to end civil war there began in Cuba in November 2012. The FARC still regards Trinidad as one of its leaders, and at the outset of the talks, the guerrillas named Trinidad as one of their five accredited representatives to the negotiations. In group photos he stands with other FARC negotiators as a life-sized “cut-out” image.



Simon Trinidad[/center]

Good reads:

Guatemalans deliberately infected with STDs sue Johns Hopkins University for $1bn

Guatemalans deliberately infected with STDs sue Johns Hopkins University for $1bn

Lawsuit with 800 plaintiffs seeks damages for individuals, spouses and children of people deliberately infected with STDs through US government programme

Oliver Laughland in New York
Thursday 2 April 2015 17.59 EDT

[font size=1]
Marta Orellana was experimented on when she was nine. Photograph: Rory Carroll/Guardian

Nearly 800 plaintiffs have launched a billion-dollar lawsuit against Johns Hopkins University over its alleged role in the deliberate infection of hundreds of vulnerable Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis and gonorrhoea, during a medical experiment programme in the 1940s and 1950s.

Guatemala victims of US syphilis study still haunted by the 'devil's experiment'

The lawsuit, which also names the philanthropic Rockefeller Foundation, alleges that both institutions helped “design, support, encourage and finance” the experiments by employing scientists and physicians involved in the tests, which were designed to ascertain if penicillin could prevent the diseases.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine held “substantial influence” over the commissioning of the research programme by dominating panels that approved federal funding for the research, the suit claims.

The lawsuit asserts that a researcher paid by the Rockefeller Foundation was assigned to the experiments, which he travelled to inspect on at least six occasions. The suit also claims that predecessor companies of the pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb supplied penicillin for use in the experiments, which they knew to be both secretive and non-consensual.


Good reads:

Supreme court rejects Alan Gross lawsuit over Cuba imprisonment

Supreme court rejects Alan Gross lawsuit over Cuba imprisonment

  • Gross sought $60m for failure to prepare him for risks of working in Cuba

  • Lower court: government is immune from claims arising in foreign country

    Associated Press in Washington
    Monday 6 April 2015 10.35 EDT

    The US supreme court won’t hear an appeal from a former government subcontractor seeking to sue the US government for negligence over his five-year imprisonment in Cuba.

    The justices on Monday let stand a federal appeals court ruling that threw out Alan Gross’s $60m lawsuit blaming the federal government for failing to prepare him for the risks of working in Cuba.

    Gross was freed in December as the US announced it would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. He was working as a US Agency for International Development subcontractor in Cuba when he was arrested in 2009.

    The US court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit ruled last year that the US government is immune from claims arising in a foreign country.


  • Colombia's Only Forensic Geologist's Search for His Country's Disappeared People

    Colombia's Only Forensic Geologist's Search for His Country's Disappeared People
    April 7, 2015

    By Juan Pablo Gallón
    Jefe de redacción @ VICE

    [font size=1]
    The conflict in Colombia has left 68,000 people missing since 1977, when the first official complaint of a forced disappearance was made. Photos by Andrés Vanegas

    "I have had four relatives go missing since nineteen ninety-six," Jacqueline Orrego, 46, from Antioquia, Colombia, told me. Buried without mourning, markers, or prayers, her mother, stepfather, sister, cousin, and friend all disappeared, presumably killed by the Northwestern Bloc of the FARC paramilitary. The corpses of her mother, stepfather, and sister were discovered in August 2007, on the expansive grounds of a rural farm belonging to Guillermo Gaviria, father of the current mayor of Medellín, Aníbal Gaviria. Orrego is still hoping to find the bodies of the others.

    "You always have this anxiety, the hope that they will be found alive, even though everybody tells you they are dead. You're in agony wondering where they are, and whether they are lost forever. Then, when you find the bodies, you rest," said Orrego, whose family had been accused by FARC of being guerrilla fighters. She maintains their innocence.

    These five "disappeared" form just a tiny part of Colombia's harrowing statistics on missing people. According to the National Register of Missing People (RND), which collects information from various government institutions, the number of disappeared in Colombia stands at 85,000. Gustavo Duque, a national transitional-justice prosecutor, said that figure may now be close to 96,000.

    . . .

    The fact that 19,000 people are still missing has generated questions about the methodology and effectiveness of the government's search effort. "Finding the bodies of Jacqueline's relatives was achieved through the testimony of a paramilitary commander who indicated the area where the bodies were buried. We dug within a five-hundred-meter radius using picks and shovels. Then the earth began to talk," Duque told me.


    Why Obama Should Remove Cuba From the Terror List: The Cuban Opportunity

    April 06, 2015
    Why Obama Should Remove Cuba From the Terror List

    The Cuban Opportunity


    After the announcement of a framework to a “deal” with Iran concerning their nuclear program, President Obama turns his attention to the Summit of the Americas transpiring April 9-11 in Panama. The fortuitous timing of this announcement allows Obama to address the Summit without the distraction of ongoing negotiations. Coincidentally, poll results published the day before the Iran announcement should give Obama even more swagger because his decision to reestablish diplomatic ties and move towards normalization with Cuba is playing very well with Cuban Americans everywhere.

    Indeed, the upcoming Summit had been threatened by boycott from a majority of the thirty-five Heads of State if the United States did not allow Cuba to participate. The position was clear: no Cuba, no Summit. Obama learned in the last Summit in 2012 that the rest of the hemisphere was not going to let this slide anymore and, to his credit, Obama has listened and moved on this.

    The historic announcements on December 17th, 2014 that put in motion an opening between the two estranged nations have been well received throughout the international community and across a wide spectrum of American society including business leaders, NGOs, and curious Americans who have flocked to Cuba since the traveling licenses were streamlined.

    According to a poll by Bendixen & Amandi International released Wednesday, April 1st during a summit of business leaders and Cuba experts in New York the idea of normalizing relations with Cuba is gaining steam with Cuban Americans both residing in Miami and throughout the U.S. A reported 51% supported Obama’s moves as opposed to 44% in December when he announced. As has been the trend with Cuban American polls the generation and geographical gaps are glaring and growing. 69% of people 18 to 29 years old are in favor of normalizing whereas 38% of people aged 65 and over support normalization. 41% of Cuban Americans living in Florida agree, 49% disagree, and 10% don’t know (Don’t know?!? ) while those living throughout the U.S. are 69% in favor of the measures. 66% of Cuban Americans born in the U.S. agree with Obama’s actions. Of those Cuban American citizens who were born in Cuba 45% agree, 46% don’t, and again 8% either don’t know or won’t answer. Those who arrived before 1980 are 32% in agreement and 60% disagree while, inversely, those who have arrived after 1980 have 56% in agreement and 35% who aren’t in favor of normalizing relations.


    Bolivia’s indigenous Aymara go from rags to riches

    Bolivia’s indigenous Aymara go from rags to riches
    Saturday April 4, 201511:47 PM GMT+8

    [font size=1]
    Picture of the function room of a building built in neo-Andean baroque architecture known as Cholet style (combination of
    the words cholo and chalet) in El Alto, Bolivia. ― AFP pic
    LA PAZ, April 4 ― Splashed in bright colours, sporting swank ballrooms and lavish apartments, new mansions are popping up in poor neighbourhoods in the Bolivian highlands, built by the booming nouveau riche of the indigenous Aymara.

    Locals call them “cholets,” a blend of chalet and “cholo,” a sometimes derogatory word for Bolivians of indigenous origin. But their growing prevalence is a sign of the changing times in Bolivia, where indigenous people have gone from being a silent majority long marginalised from the worlds of politics and business ― to major players on the national scene.

    The cholets have sprung up in tandem with an economic boom presided over by Evo Morales, who took office as Bolivia's first indigenous president in 2006.

    He swore in for a new term in January after presiding over average economic growth of more than five percent a year during his first two terms. During Morales's presidency, increasing numbers of his fellow Aymara have accumulated fortunes in industries such as mining, retail and transport that they are now using to build sumptuous mansions that are reshaping the country's architecture.





    Will Puerto Rico Become The New Cuba In Florida In The 2016 Election?

    Will Puerto Rico Become The New Cuba In Florida In The 2016 Election?

    Puerto Ricans will pass Cubans as the largest Latino group in Florida in the coming years. But will the issue of the island becoming the 51st state mobilize Puerto Ricans in the key swing state in 2016?

    Adrian Carrasquillo
    posted on April 3, 2015, at 12:45 p.m.

    When President Obama became the first sitting president to visit Puerto Rico since John F. Kennedy in the midst of the 2012 cycle, it wasn’t because the island is a pivotal swing state. Residents of Puerto Rico can’t vote for president, even though they’re U.S. citizens.

    That is not the case in Florida, however, where the Puerto Rican population is booming. Between 2010 and 2013, nearly 150,000 more people left Puerto Rico than settled there, according to Pew. Puerto Ricans, in fact, are poised to pass Cubans as the largest Latino group in the state in the coming years. Obama would go on to win Florida by less than 1%, with internal campaign numbers showing they won 86% of the Puerto Rican vote.

    The question of what appeals to Puerto Rican voters — what will bring them out to the polls — will increasingly play in the Democratic calculus for the critical state. The answer is less than clear. But some donors and activists are already pushing hard for Puerto Rican statehood as a campaign promise from Hillary Clinton or for granting Puerto Rico residents the right to vote.

    “The island is collapsing under the weight of an ancient territorial infrastructure,” said Puerto Rican lawyer Andrés W. López, co-chair of the Futuro Fund, which raised $32 million for Obama’s re-election. “Absolutely, she needs to clarify. That’s how the Cuba issue became salient. You had to take a position on what the policy ought to be on the island.”


    Mexico: Police filmed throwing rocks at bus carrying missing trainee teachers' schoolmates

    Mexico: Police filmed throwing rocks at bus carrying missing trainee teachers' schoolmates
    By Umberto Bacchi April 4, 2015 17:58 BST

    Mexican police officers were captured on camera throwing rocks at a bus carrying student protesters from the institute attended by 43 trainee teachers who went missing last autumn.

    The incident happened last weekend in Chilpancingo a district of the violence-ridden southern state of Guerrero.

    Riot police halted a coach carrying about 50 trainee teachers from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa, as it was travelling on a federal road connecting Chilpancingo to Iguala, a city that became infamous worldwide as the site of the disappearance and murder of 43 students from the same school.

    Local media reported the bus initially failed to stop at a checkpoint set up over the alleged theft of a gas pipe. Footage recorded by the local Guerrero News Agency shows the officers in riot gear surrounding the vehicle and attempting to force the students out.


    Reuters: Venezuelan 'resistance' movement struggles to bruise Maduro

    Thu Apr 2, 2015 12:06pm EDT

    Venezuelan 'resistance' movement struggles to bruise Maduro

    VALENCIA/MERIDA, Venezuela | By Andrew Cawthorne and Girish Gupta

    (Reuters) - Housewives stash bottles and fuel for Molotov cocktails. Activists run a network of safe houses. Masked youths block roads. A rifle-wielding dissident general makes a call to arms.

    From clandestine meetings to guerrilla-style broadcasts, an amorphous and quixotic "resistance" movement has emerged across Venezuela aspiring to force President Nicolas Maduro from power and end 16 years of socialist rule in the OPEC nation. The most hardcore still sporadically barricade streets with burning trash and pelt security forces with stones, or occasionally torch a government vehicle, especially in the western Andean regions they nickname "the Wild West".

    Some admit trying to connect with active and retired soldiers in the hope of a coup against Maduro.

    "We want to bring down the government. There's no other way out," said one housewife in her fifties who helps coordinate the self-styled resistance in the central city of Valencia, a hotbed of protests last year that led to 43 deaths nationwide.

    She hurled stones at police, ferried students around and stored materials to make petrol bombs and spiked tubes known as "Miguelitos" that are laid on roads to puncture police vehicles. Upset at the failure of those protests, she tries to help keep the movement alive by organizing secret meetings and forging contacts with former military officials.


    U.S. Should Cut Mexico Security Aid Over Atrocious Human Rights Record, Activists Say

    U.S. Should Cut Mexico Security Aid Over Atrocious Human Rights Record, Activists Say
    Posted: 04/02/2015 5:20 pm EDT Updated: 4 hours ago

    Felipe de la Cruz received a call from his son, Angel Neri, the night of Sept. 26, saying he and fellow college students were being attacked by police after stealing buses. De la Cruz urged his son to stay calm, thinking the cops would simply detain him. Instead, police in the city of Iguala killed three of Angel Neri de la Cruz’s classmates from a teachers' college in the nearby town of Ayotzinapa, and abducted 43. Angel Neri survived the attack. The remains of only one of his missing classmates have been identified.

    The Mexico attorney general’s office says police handed the abducted students over to a drug gang, which killed them and incinerated the corpses. But families of the victims say the government has mishandled the investigation and doubt all of those responsible for the attack have been arrested. The mass abduction prompted nationwide protests, sinking Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s popularity to the lowest level for the presidency since the aftermath of the 1994 peso crash.

    But Felipe de la Cruz isn’t just looking to Mexico for accountability. On the six-month anniversary of the attack last week, he was in Washington at a State Department demonstration, where he and other activists demanded the U.S. rethink a $2.3 billion aid program called the Mérida Initiative, implemented in 2007 to help Mexico fight drug cartels.

    “The Mérida Initiative is being used the wrong way,” de la Cruz told The Huffington Post. Instead of stopping organized crime, he argued, the security assistance has helped Mexican officials perpetuate human rights violations. “It’s being used to kill ordinary people."

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