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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘latin america

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • At Alpha Sources, Claus Vistesen links to his podcast wherein he argues that too much blame is being placed on the IMF.
  • blogTO notes a documentary on a CBC prop warehouse.
  • City of Brass celebrates the Fourth of July and the end of Ramadan.
  • Crooked Timber is scathing about the IMF, the European Union, and Syriza.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper that studies Gliese 229B, one of the nearest and first-found brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that half of the banded iron formations extant on Earth are products of microbes.
  • Geocurrents notes how non-inevitable the Saudi state was within its current borders.
  • Language Log looks at the use of Sinitic characters in modern Korea.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money tackles pea guacamole.
  • Marginal Revolution shares photos of an abandoned Soviet space shuttle.
  • Towleroad notes that Cuba has managed to halt mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphillis.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the anti-Ukrainian slur Khokhol’s unacceptability, looks at controversy over national textbooks in Tatarstan, and examines a dying Finnish-language magazine in Karelia.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World warns of radical Islam among Albanians.

[LINK] “Freedom has bitter, baffling taste for former Guantanamo inmates”

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The Globe and Mail‘s Stephanie Nolen reports on the unfortunate aftermath of an initiative by Uruguay to welcome six releasees from Guantanamo. Apparently too little has been done to ensure their reintegration into their new society.

This began as a story of compassion and renewal. Before dawn one warm Sunday last December, six inmates from the U.S. military jail in Guantanamo Bay landed at an airstrip here in the Uruguayan capital. The U.S. flew them from Guantanamo shackled and hooded, but Uruguayan officials insisted they be unbound before they left the plane, and walk as free men into their new lives.

These six – four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian – were all identified as former al-Qaeda fighters, and theirs was a significant resettlement from the prison that bedevils the Obama administration.

They moved into a house in a slightly down-at-heel neighbourhood in the centre of Montevideo. In the first days, the six – who had spent years in solitary confinement and on hunger strikes – took wide-eyed trips to the grocery store and walks on the beachfront. Uruguayans waved and approached to welcome them and wish them well. They were to begin Spanish classes, and a construction company and other businesses promised them jobs.

The euphoria, however, was fleeting. Six months in, the men are adrift and struggling – baffled by Uruguay in the best case, enraged and bitter, in the worst. As the U.S. government seeks somewhere, anywhere, to resettle the other Guantanamo inmates, Uruguay’s story of transcultural empathy stands as a cautionary tale.

[. . .]

[President José Mujica] agreed to take them – but did not, it now appears, do much to prepare his tiny country, with a total Muslim population of about 300, to support and resettle six men with murky pasts who endured years of brutal interrogation and isolation.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2015 at 10:22 pm

[LINK] “Venezuela’s oil industry beset by pirates and scrap thieves”

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The Globe and Mail hosts Alexandra Ulmer’s Reuters article describing how looting is literally gutting the Venezuelan oil industry.

When night falls over western Venezuela, armed gangs known as “pirates” sometimes ride boats into muggy Lake Maracaibo to steal equipment from oil wells.

In the country’s Paraguana peninsula, opposite the Caribbean island of Aruba, slum dwellers at times break through a perimeter wall into Venezuela’s biggest refinery and rob machinery, construction tools and cables to sell as scrap.

On the other side of the OPEC country in Monagas state, around 26,000 potential barrels were lost in March during a shutdown after state oil company employees and contractors stole copper cables and caused a tank to overflow.

Venezuela’s national crime pandemic – the United Nations says the country has the world’s second-highest murder rate after Honduras – is a growing headache for the oil industry, which accounts for nearly all of the country’s export revenues.

Hold-ups and thefts in the sector are on the rise, taking a toll on output, according to interviews with around 40 people, including oil workers, union leaders, foreign executives, opposition politicians, scrap dealers and people who live near oil installations.

Shortages of spare parts or the prospect of further theft stymie replacements of the stolen items, forcing some wells to function at partial capacity or at times even shut down, the people said.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 26, 2015 at 10:35 pm

[LINK] “How Mexico Quietly Legalized Same-Sex Marriage”

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NPR’s Carrie Kahn writes about the background to the Mexican Supreme Court’s quiet nation-wide recognition of same-sex marriage.

In the U.S., the Supreme Court’s widely anticipated ruling on same-sex marriage has been the focus of nonstop speculation and debate. In Mexico, meanwhile, the highest court effectively legalized same-sex unions this month with a decision that was so low key many failed to notice.

Mexico’s Supreme Court quietly published an opinion, known as a jurisprudential thesis, ruling that defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman is discriminatory and in violation of Mexico’s constitution.

While the court did not explicitly say that same-sex unions were legal, the decision is seen as having that effect. And this month’s ruling follows a number of court decisions in the past year that pointed in the same direction.

[. . .]

Until recently, it had been extremely difficult for same-sex couples to be wed in Mexico, as Victor Manuel Aguirre and Fernando Urias know all too well.

Speaking by phone from their home in Mexicali, just across the border from Calexico, Calif., Aguirre says the couple tried four times in the past two years to marry at city hall.

Each time they were confronted by protesters, hostile local officials and legal obstacles. They finally took their case all the way to Mexico’s highest court, which ruled in their favor. They were wed on Jan. 17.

“After so much troubles,” Aguiree says with a laugh.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 17, 2015 at 10:27 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • The Big Picture has a photo essay about albino children in Panama.
  • Crooked Timber considers African-American radicalism.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper imagining the frequency of habitable planets in other universes, and links to another suggesting that to host habitable worlds exoplanet systems will need their worlds to have aligned orbits.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that police in Seoul cannot halt the Pride parade.
  • Language Hat reports on a pavilion at the Venice Biennale featuring Native American languages.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that 19th century Chinese bet on the outcome of student exams.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes the crackdown on money laundering has not hit the average Mexican.
  • Savage Minds considers race from the perspective of a library cataloguer.
  • Torontoist notes a local call for ghost bikes.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the repression of Crimean Tatars, notes a Chinese proposal for settlement in Siberia, and looks at how the war in Ukraine has given nuclear weapons new life.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Centauri Dreams anticipates Ceres.
  • Crooked Timber notes Big Oil is turning against Big Coal.
  • Geocurrents shares Martin Lewis’ slides on Nigeria.
  • Language Hat, reflecting on Irish and Hebrew, considers language change and shift.
  • Language Log examines the historical American broadcast r-less accent.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money wants a good history of the Occupy movement.
  • The New APPS Blog wonders what philosophical work might look like as technology and modes of scholarship evolve.
  • The Power and Money’s Noel Maurer looks at Mexico’s political parties.
  • Towleroad notes controversy in Houston over elderly LGBT housing and relations with police.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues against the policies that led to Orange Telecom’s withdrawal from the Israeli occupied territories.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russification, notes how Russia’s satellite program depends on American imports, and looks at the military incapacity of Tajikistan versus foreign threats like ISIS.

[LINK] “Native Communities in Mexico Demand to be Consulted on Wind Farms”

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The Inter Press Service’s Emilio Godoy notes how indigenous communities in Mexico’s southern Oaxaca state are organizing to protest wind farms, which they claim are being sited in their territories without gaining local consent or taking the environment into account.

“It hurts us that our land is affected, and the environmental impacts are not even measured. Wind farm projects affect streams and hurt the flora,” said Zapotec Indian Isabel Jiménez, who is taking part in the struggle against the installation of a wind park in southern Mexico.

The 42-year-old healer says the turbines endanger medicinal plants, which are essential for her traditional healing work in the city of Juchitán in the state of Oaxaca, 720 km south of the capital.

“We are right, we know the truth,” Jiménez told IPS. “That’s why we are resisting this, and exercising our rights.”

The Zapotec indigenous woman is one of the leaders of the opposition to the Energía Eólica del Sur (Wind Energy of the South) company’s plans to build a wind park in the area to generate 396 MW that would feed into regional power grids.

Jiménez belongs to the Asamblea Popular del Pueblo Juchiteco – the Juchiteco People’s Assembly – founded in February 2013 to protect the rights of native communities in the face of the introduction of wind farms in their territories.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 11, 2015 at 10:45 pm

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