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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 152,485

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"There is Future if There is Truth": Colombia's Truth Commission Launches Final Report

In Fusagasugá, the mural "The Embrace of Truth" memorializes those killed during the conflict. (Source: Colombia Truth Commission)

Declassified U.S. Evidence Fortifies Truth Commission’s Findings and Recommendations

Bogotá, 28 June 2022 - Today, Colombia’s Truth Commission wraps up three-and-a-half years of work with the launch of its report on the causes and consequences of Colombia’s conflict. The publication of the Commission's findings and recommendations is an important step forward in guaranteeing the rights of victims and of Colombian society to know the truth about what happened, to build a foundation for coexistence among Colombians, and to ensure that such a conflict is never repeated.

. . .

Among the most impactful records are U.S. diplomatic and intelligence reports evaluating the nature and extent of ties between anti-guerrilla “paramilitary” death squads and the Colombian state. Of special interest are a handful of CIA operational reports—documents normally outside the purview of FOIA—that reveal contemporaneous U.S. knowledge that the Colombian military was engaged in a persistent pattern of collaboration with paramilitary operations.

One CIA report from May 1988 said that Colombian Army intelligence and brigade commanders were behind “a wave of assassinations against suspected leftists and communists” during 1987, including the killings of several members of the leftist Patriotic Union political party, victims of a state-sponsored “genocide” according to the Truth Commission.

The 1988 CIA report also said that the intelligence section of the Army’s 10th Brigade had supplied target lists and other support to the paramilitaries who murdered 20 workers in the infamous March 1988 massacres at the Honduras and La Negra banana plantations. The CIA said that the names of all the victims, most of whom were members of the Sintagro agricultural workers union, had “appeared on the B-2’s [Colombian Army intelligence section’s] interrogation reports” and “were accurately identified by their attackers from a list which the attackers possessed.”


Nicaragua a 'Dictatorship' When It Follows US Lead on NGOs

JUNE 16, 2022


President Daniel Ortega’s government in Nicaragua is “laying waste to civil society,” according to the Associated Press (6/2/22). The Guardian (6/2/22) called it a “sweeping purge of civil society,” while for the New York Times (2/14/22), Nicaragua is “inching toward dictatorship.” According to the Washington Post‘s Spanish edition (5/19/22), the country is already “a dictatorship laid bare.” In a call echoed by the BBC (5/5/22), the UN human rights commissioner urged Nicaragua to stop its “damaging crackdown on civil society.”

What can possibly have provoked such widespread criticism? It turns out that the Nicaraguan National Assembly’s “sweeping purge” was the withdrawal of the tax-free legal status of a small proportion of the country’s nonprofit organizations: just 440 over a period of four years. In more than half the cases, these non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have simply ceased to function or no longer exist. In other cases, they have failed (or refused) to comply with legal requirements, such as producing annual accounts or declaring the sources of their funding. Modest legal steps that would go unnoticed in most countries are—in Nicaragua’s case—clear evidence that it is “inching toward dictatorship.”

None of the media reports asked basic questions, such as what these nonprofits have done that led to the government taking this action, whether other countries follow similar practices, or what international requirements about the regulation of nonprofits Nicaragua is required to comply with. There is a much bigger story here that corporate media ignore. Let’s fill in some of the gaps.

Three basic questions

There are three basic questions. First, is Nicaragua exceptional in closing nonprofits on this scale? No, the practice is widespread in other nations. While figures are difficult to find, government agencies in the United States, Britain, Australia and elsewhere have closed tens of thousands of nonprofits in the last few years.

For example, between 2006 and 2011, the IRS closed 279,000 nonprofits out of a US total of 1.7 million; it closed 28,000 more in 2020. The Charity Commission in Britain closes around 4,000 per year. And in Australia, some 10,000 nonprofits have been closed since 2014, one-sixth of the total. In Nicaragua, four years of closures have so far affected only 7% of a total of more than 6,000 nonprofits.


Journalist's disappearance in Brazil shows risk of reporting in the Amazon


They disappeared Dom. That was the first thought that crossed my mind when I learned about the disappearance of the smiley British man whom I met at Copacabana beach back in 2018 surfing on a stand up paddle board. Dom Phillips, an experienced reporter, was accompanied by Bruno Pereira, one of the greatest experts in the Amazon region, where both went missing without a trace on Sunday, June 5.

After a couple of phone calls that mostly rejected the hypothesis of an accident, a friend of mine told me that some local residents had conducted a painstaking search in the surroundings. They found nothing. Then that same thought came to my mind repeatedly: They disappeared Dom.

Reporting on the Amazon has always been a hard, dangerous task, but it has become particularly lethal in recent years. In 2021, the number of deaths caused by conflict in local communities increased by over 1000% from the prior year. Eighty percent of the violent deaths in rural areas in Brazil take place in the Legal Amazon region. It was a matter of time until something like this occurred.

Three years ago, Dom Phillips attended an event with President Jair Bolsonaro. He questioned Bolsonaro about the rising and disturbing deforestation in the Amazon. He talked about the dismantling of the law enforcement meant to protect the environment. He commented on the criminal links between officials, the minister of the environment and illegal loggers. Contemptuous as usual, Bolsonaro said: “The first thing you must know is that the Amazon belongs to Brazil, it doesn’t belong to you.”


How Mexico ensures access to safe abortion without legalizing it

By Annalisa Merelli
Senior reporter based in New York City

Published June 6, 2022

When it comes to abortion, Mexico offers a glimpse of a possible future for the US.

Like its northern neighbor, the country is a federal republic of 32 states in which the legality of abortion varies. It does not have a federal law, or Roe v Wade-like constitutional decision legalizing abortion—a position the US is likely to find itself in by the end of June, when the Supreme Court is expected to officially announce its decision on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The decision, a draft of which was leaked last month, might overturn the precedent stating that a woman has a right to obtain abortion as part of her right to privacy. If the leak is confirmed, it would end the federal protection of abortion, and making its legality dependent on the individual state.

This would open the way to restrictive laws in Republican-majority states, many of which have trigger laws ready to go into effect as soon as the Supreme Court ruling is out, including ones that could lead to the arrest of women experiencing miscarriages. But in Mexico, the situation is different in a small, but very significant way: Abortion is not legal, but has been decriminalized federally. On Sept. 7, 2021, Mexico’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that it was unconstitutional to punish abortion as a crime.

The effects of decriminalization
The 2021 Mexican supreme court decision was propelled by the so-called marea verde, or green wave, a Latin American transnational movement promoting abortion rights, which pushed for the approval of abortion laws in countries including Argentina and Columbia, and in Mexican states. While it stops short of full legalization, its effects are significant in effectively giving women, including those who don’t qualify for an abortion in their home state, broader access to safe abortion.




While John F. Kennedy is widely regarded as one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history, his administration was not without its tribulations and scandals. One of the biggest was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion that took place in April 1961. According to the U.S. State Department, the CIA completely planned the invasion, which was aimed at unseating Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro. The attackers set out for Cuba from nearby Guatemala, but the invasion was over almost as soon as it began, and the forces were routed within a few days. The Bay of Pigs is an inlet of the Gulf of Cazones that leads to the Playa Girón beach, located on the southern coast of Cuba.


On January 8, 1959, Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba. He entered into Havana, the capital and largest city in Cuba, with his revolutionary organization known as the July 26th Movement (per the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University). That February, he became prime minister, and quickly started to implement agricultural reforms that severely curtailed the size of large landholdings. In April, he started redistributing the land to rural farmers, many of whom lived in deep poverty, and he also initiated a literacy campaign to teach them reading and writing skills. Throughout 1959, the U.S. and Castro still maintained normal relations, and Cuba did not recognize the Soviet Union, at least at first. However, by December, Cuba was admitting official Soviet journalists.

Initially, Washington and the CIA were unsure of how to proceed with Castro. According to Tim Weiner in "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA," some CIA members like Al Cox, the chief of the paramilitary division, wanted to arm Castro and work with him as an emerging democratic leader. Another CIA officer described Castro as "a new spiritual leader of Latin American democratic and anti-dictator forces." However, feelings in the agency and the Eisenhower administration soon started to change, and Eisenhower would write in his memoirs years later that they were becoming convinced that Castro was bringing Communism to America's doorstep. Given the administration's foreign policy of Massive Retaliation, planning for a military response to Castro seemed inevitable.


Growing tensions with Fidel Castro's Cuba quickly brought it into conflict with Washington. According to Tim Weiner in "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA," it caused the Eisenhower administration, and the CIA, to seriously consider removing Castro from power by late 1959. On December 11, 1959, Richard Bissell, the head of the CIA's clandestine department, communicated with Allen Dulles, the Director of the CIA, about the "elimination of Fidel Castro." Less than a month later, Dulles had Bissell get to work creating a task force charged with organizing Castro's overthrow. In March of 1960, the Eisenhower administration approved the use of covert forces to remove Castro from power. 

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/880158/chilling-details-from-the-bay-of-pigs-invasion/?utm_campaign=clip

Sun Sets in Perfect Alignment With New York Grid To Create 'Manhattanhenge'


In the coming days, the sun will set in perfect alignment with Manhattan's street grid to create the stunning phenomenon that has been dubbed "Manhattanhenge."

This phenomenon takes place on four evenings every year, providing spectacular photo opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

The term refers to England's Stonehenge, which was built in such a way that on the day of the summer solstice, the sun rises in perfect alignment with several of the stones.

"Manhattanhenge is a name coined by Neil deGrasse Tyson for the days of the year when the sun sets perfectly aligned with the grid of Manhattan. So, it is perfectly framed by the concrete jungle of this great city," Jacqueline Faherty, an astrophysicist from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York told Newsweek.


See many excellent "Manhattanhenge" photos at google images at this link:


Lidar reveals pre-Hispanic low-density urbanism in the Bolivian Amazon

Published: 25 May 2022

Heiko Prümers, Carla Jaimes Betancourt, José Iriarte, Mark Robinson & Martin Schaich

Archaeological remains of agrarian-based, low-density urbananism1,2,3 have been reported to exist beneath the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka and Central America4,5,6. However, beyond some large interconnected settlements in southern Amazonia7,8,9, there has been no such evidence for pre-Hispanic Amazonia. Here we present lidar data of sites belonging to the Casarabe culture (around AD 500 to AD 1400)10,11,12,13 in the Llanos de Mojos savannah–forest mosaic, southwest Amazonia, revealing the presence of two remarkably large sites (147 ha and 315 ha) in a dense four-tiered settlement system. The Casarabe culture area, as far as known today, spans approximately 4,500 km2, with one of the large settlement sites controlling an area of approximately 500 km2. The civic-ceremonial architecture of these large settlement sites includes stepped platforms, on top of which lie U-shaped structures, rectangular platform mounds and conical pyramids (which are up to 22 m tall). The large settlement sites are surrounded by ranked concentric polygonal banks and represent central nodes that are connected to lower-ranked sites by straight, raised causeways that stretch over several kilometres. Massive water-management infrastructure, composed of canals and reservoirs, complete the settlement system in an anthropogenically modified landscape. Our results indicate that the Casarabe-culture settlement pattern represents a type of tropical low-density urbanism that has not previously been described in Amazonia.

During the Late Holocene epoch, pre-Hispanic agriculturalists in the Llanos de Mojos, Bolivia, transformed the most-extensive, seasonally flooded, Amazonian savannahs (120,000 km2—roughly the size of England) into productive agricultural and aquacultural landscapes with an apparent diversity in sociopolitical organization, water-control systems and economic bases14,15,16,17. The southeast sector of the Llanos de Mojos (our study region) benefits from soils that have advantageous agricultural properties because of the deposition of a mid-Holocene sedimentary lobe that creates a slightly more elevated topography than the surrounding Llanos de Mojos, which in turn, provides base-rich, Andean-derived, well-drained soils18. The Casarabe culture developed here between around AD 500 and AD 1400, spreading over an area of 4,500 km2 (see ‘Chronology’ in the Supplementary Information, Supplementary Figs. 3–5 and Supplementary Tables 2–4). Previous remote-sensing and field-reconnaissance analyses have revealed the presence of 189 large monumental sites (locally known as ‘lomas’), 273 smaller sites and 957 km of canals and causeways10,19 (Supplementary Table 1). Excavations and bioarchaeology indicate that monumental sites were not unoccupied ceremonial centres but inhabited throughout the year by agriculturalists who cultivated a diversity of crops, with maize (Zea mays) as the primary staple10,11,12,20,21, and who met their protein needs by hunting22 and fishing23.

Despite these important advances in the archaeology of the Casarabe culture, until now, we knew the extent and details of mounded architecture only from less than a handful of isolated sites (Extended Data Figs. 5a, 7) because of the logistical difficulties of mapping sites in tropical forested settings. As a result, our understanding of the civic-ceremonial architecture of the major sites and the regional organization of the Casarabe-culture settlements has remained poorly understood. To remedy this situation, we conducted airborne laser mapping for six areas (10–85 km2) that have known concentrations of major settlements, totalling 204 km2 (Fig. 1).

Lidar (light detection and ranging) documented in detail the two large settlement sites and 24 smaller sites, of which only 15 were previously known to exist. The new data allowed us to define a four-tiered hierarchy classification of sites (Supplementary Table 5) on the basis of (1) the dimensions of human-made base platforms; (2) the elaboration of the civic-ceremonial architecture on top of them; (3) the presence, number and total area enclosed by the outermost polygonal enclosures (Figs. 2, 3 and Extended Data Figs. 1–4); (4) the number of constructed, straight causeways leading to the site (Fig. 3); and (5) the scale of investment in water-management infrastructure, including systems of canals and water reservoirs (see Supplementary Information for a detailed description of the architectural elements and a description of representative sites).


Also posted in Anthropology:


by Melissa Truth Miller
May 13 2022 • 7:13 AM

Some cuteness for your feed. The latest unlikely animal friendship is between a beagle and a sloth. The pair live in Venezuela. Chuwie the sloth was rescued after being badly burned by power lines. The beagle, named Seven, is part of a pack of dogs living with the rescuers. Seven wanted to be friends with Chuwie, and her patience paid off with lots of snuggles and scritches.

Like human friendships, shared interests were part of the journey for Seven and Chuwie. In the video, the beagle brings toys for the sloth to play with. She also tries out eating leaves, which is what the sloth spends much of his day doing.

We learned about this cuteness overload thanks to Laughing Squid. It’s clear from Seven’s Instagram page that Chuwie is now friends with the entire pack of beagles. Other sloths rescued by the center are returned to the wild. But Chuwie can’t be due to missing claws that sloths need to climb trees and forage for food.

Instead, Chuwie serves as an ambassador for the rescue center. Power lines injure thousand of animals every year in Central and South America. Monkeys and sloths that climb on them are especially vulnerable. There are groups working to have more power lines insulated or buried. Wildlife bridges and other protected crossings save lives.


Abortion rights activists in the US can learn from recent progress on abortion access in Latin Ameri

Abortion rights activists in the US can learn from recent progress on abortion access in Latin America
MAY 12, 2022

(CNN) — The prospect of the United States overturning decades of abortion rights, which materialized this week in a leaked draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, triggered shock waves in many countries in Latin America, where many feminist organizations have often looked at the US as a model of greater reproductive rights and freedoms.

However, that model has flipped on its head in recent years. Just as several US states have put in place further barriers to abortion access through various restrictions, some countries in Latin America have moved in the other direction, with a growing number of countries liberalizing such laws.

Laura Gil, a gynecologist and abortion rights activist in Bogota, Colombia has experienced this turnaround firsthand. “I remember we would meet with health professionals in the US, and for years they would always look at us with admiration for our struggle to expand reproductive rights. Now it’s the opposite,” she told CNN.

The doctor was in Florida when news of the leak broke on Monday. Her US colleagues were disparaged, she said. “They come from an environment where abortion is legal, while for us, abortion used to be banned and now it’s not,” she said.


Colombian Leftist Front-Runner Says Assassination Risk Very High

1h ago

Matthew Bristow, Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Police, bodyguards and anti-explosives experts are on high alert to prevent assassins from getting to Colombia’s most divisive presidential candidate in the final weeks before elections.

Colombia is the only major country in Latin America that’s never had a leftist leader, and polls suggest it’s about to get one in Gustavo Petro. That’s raising the campaign temperature in a country with a history of political violence.

“Many alternative presidential candidates have been assassinated, and I’m the one who’s come closest to winning, according to the polls,” Petro said in an interview en route to a rally in eastern Colombia last week. “That is to say, the risk level is very high.”

Petro, 62, may have a point in doubting his safety in a country where four presidential candidates have been murdered since the 1980s. Petro says that his status as the alternative to “traditional power in Colombia” makes him a target ahead of the May 29 first-round vote.


~ ~ ~

Before the 1980's, immediately preceding 10 years of total chaos, and the period called "La Violencia," there was the assassination of the extremely popular leftist presidential candidate, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán:


Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Ayala (January 23, 1903 – April 9, 1948) was a left-wing Colombian politician and charismatic leader of the Liberal Party. He served as the mayor of Bogotá from 1936-37, the national Education Minister from 1940-41, and the Labor Minister from 1943–44.[2] He was assassinated during his second presidential campaign in 1948, setting off the Bogotazo [3] and leading to a violent period of political unrest in Colombian history known as La Violencia (approx. 1948 to 1958).

. . .

Gaitán was active in politics in the early 1920s, when he was part of a protest movement against the president Marco Fidel Suárez. Gaitán increased his nationwide popularity following a banana workers' strike in Magdalena in 1928.
After US officials in Colombia, along with United Fruit representatives, portrayed the worker's strike as "communist" with "subversive tendency," in telegrams to the US Secretary of State,[12] the US government threatened to invade with the US Marine Corps if the Colombian government did not act to protect United Fruit's interests[citation needed]. Strikers were fired upon by the army[13] on the orders of the United Fruit Company, which resulted in numerous deaths.

Gaitán used his skills as a lawyer and as an emerging politician in order to defend workers' rights and called for accountability to those involved in the Santa Marta Massacre.[13] Public support soon shifted toward Gaitán; Gaitán's Liberal Party won the 1930 presidential election.[13]

. . .


It is widely speculated that Gaitán would likely have been elected President had he not been assassinated on April 9, 1948.[19][13] That occurred immediately prior to the armed insurrection or Bogotazo.[20][13] Gaitán was then the leading opponent of the use of violence and had determined to pursue the strategy of electing a left-wing government, and he had repudiated the violent communist revolutionary approach that was typical of the Cold War era.[21] His assassination directly led to a period of great violence between conservatives and liberals and also facilitated the rise of the existing communist guerrillas.[14] Over the next fifteen years as many as 200,000 people died from the disorder that followed his assassination.[15]

Gaitán's alleged murderer, Juan Roa Sierra, was killed by an enraged mob, and his motivations were never known.[22] Many different entities and individuals have been held responsible as the alleged plotters, including his different critics, but no definite information has ever come forward, and a number of theories persist. Among them, are versions that, sometimes conflictingly, implicate the government of Mariano Ospina Pérez, sectors of the Liberal party, the Soviet Union ,[23] the Colombian Communist Party, or the CIA.[24] According to one version, Roa Sierra acted under the orders of CIA agents John Mepples Spirito (alias Georgio Ricco) and Tomás Elliot, as part of an anti-leftist plan that was supposedly called Operation Pantomime.[citation needed] It is claimed that it would also have involved the complicity of the then Chief of Police, who would allegedly have ordered two police officers to abandon Juan Roa Sierra to be killed by the mob, a claim that conflicts with mainstream accounts of Roa Sierra's death.[25] An eyewitness to the actual events, Guillermo Perez Sarmiento, Director of the United Press in Colombia, stated that upon his arrival Roa was already "between two policemen" and describes in detail the angry mob that kicked and "tore him to pieces" and does not suggest any police involvement.[26

. . .

Other details which have interested historians and researchers include the fact that Gaitán was murdered in the middle of the 9th Pan-American Conference, which was being led by U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, a meeting which led to a pledge by members to fight communism in the Americas, as well as the creation of the Organization of American States.


~ ~ ~

Gustavo Petro, Colombia's progressive candidate has always known how deadly life is for liberals in US-heavily supported Colombia, and how much suffering the oligarchy has inflicted from the first, and he still has the courage to try to be the person who brings the country out of the darkness, and puts the interests of the PEOPLE first. He deserves praise, not to have to live in fear for the rest of his life. He has earned real respect. He puts his life in danger every day.

Gustavo Petro

Best wishes.
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