Dazu Rock Carvings

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/912

The steep hillsides of the Dazu area contain an exceptional series of rock carvings dating from the 9th to the 13th century. They are remarkable for their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period. They provide outstanding evidence of the harmonious synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

Brief synthesis

The steep hillsides in the Dazu area near Chongqing, contain an exceptional series of five clusters of rock carvings dating from the 9th to 13th centuries. The largest cluster at Beishan contains two groups along a cliff face 7-10m high stretching for around 300m. There are more than 10,000 carvings dating from the late 9th to the mid-12th century which depict themes of Tantric Buddhism and Taoism. Inscriptions give insight to the history, religious beliefs, dating and the identification of historical figures. The late 11thcentury Song dynasty carvings at Shizhuanshan extend over 130m and depict Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian images in a rare tripartite arrangement. The Song dynasty carvings at Shimenshan dating from the first half of the 12th century extend along 72m and integrate Buddhist and Taoist subjects. At Nanshan the Song dynasty carvings of the 12th century extend over a length of 86m and depict mostly Taoist subjects. The culmination in terms of expression of Tantric Buddhism is found in the U shaped gorge at Baodingshan which contains two groups of carvings dating from the late 12th to the mid-13th century near the Holy Longevity Monastery. The very large group to the west stretches for about 500 metres and comprises 31 groups of carved figures depicting themes from Tantric Buddhism as well scenes of herdsmen and ordinary life.

The carvings are known for their grand scale, aesthetic quality and rich diversity of subject matter as well as for being well preserved. Standing as an example of the highest level of Chinese cave temple art dating from the 9th to 13th centuries, the Dazu Rock Carvings not only underline the harmonious coexistence in China of three different religions, namely Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, but also provide material proof that cave temple art has increasingly shed light on everyday life. Large numbers of carvings and written historical materials within the heritage site show the great changes in and development of cave temple art and religious beliefs in China during that period.

Criterion (i): The Dazu Carvings represent the pinnacle of Chinese rock art in their high aesthetic quality and their diversity of style and subject matter.

Criterion (ii): Tantric Buddhism from India and Chinese Taoist and Confucian beliefs came together at Dazu to create a highly original and influential manifestation of spiritual harmony.

Criterion (iii): The eclectic nature of religious belief in late Imperial China is given material expression in the exceptional artistic heritage of the Dazu rock art.

Integrity

The Dazu Rock Carvings are among the best preserved of this form of Chinese cave temple art. Each of the five clusters is contained within its own designated demarcation of property area and buffer zone, which ensures the integrity of the statues, their natural and cultural landscapes as well as the historical information they bear.

Authenticity

The Dazu Rock Carvings retain the original characteristics and values of the period when the carvings were created, as they have not suffered man-made damage or destruction by natural disasters. Daily maintenance and care have strictly adhered to the principle of ‘retaining the historic condition’. To date, the historical authenticity of the design, materials, technology and layout of the Dazu Rock Carvings have been maintained. In devoting effort to the conservation and protection of these statues, attention has also been paid to the protection of their surroundings, both natural and cultural. As a result, the historical scale, style and features of the Dazu Rock Carvings have been basically preserved, so as to retain to the utmost extent their functions of secular belief, cultural transmission and social education as a type of religious art.

Protection and management requirements

Laws and regulations for heritage protection apply at different administrative levels; at the highest level the property is protected by the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Cultural Relics. At the municipal level the Regulations of Chongqing Municipality on the Conservation and Management of Dazu Rock Carvings, have guaranteed that no damage or degradation will threaten the integrity and authenticity of the heritage in Dazu. In order to satisfy the necessary requirements, the local government has also incorporated the conservation and management of Dazu Rock Carvings into the local economic and social development plan.

As per the Conservation Master Plan of Dazu Rock Carvings, the conservation and management work of Dazu Rock Carvings will be carried out via the establishment of a fully elaborated heritage monitoring system, formulation of a scientific and precise conservation and maintenance plan and management measures, and the setting up of a team of conservation professionals.

How to fix a Windows (10, 8 or 7) corrupt user profile: The User Profile Service failed the logon

https://www.expertreviews.co.uk/software/8070/how-to-fix-a-windows-10-8-7-or-vista-corrupt-user-profile-the-user-profile-service

If you’re getting a “The User Profile Service failed the logon” message in Windows 10 or 7, don’t panic – we show you how to fix it.

There are many annoying things that can happen to your Windows installation, but one of the most irritating faults is a corrupt user profile.

Although all of your precious data like images, video and documents remain safe on your hard disk or SSD, this particularly nasty problem prevents you from gaining access to it.

It’s signified by the rather worrying message: “The User Profile Service failed the logon,” and this can occur across all the versions of Windows, from Windows 10 through to 8, 7 and even as far back as Vista. There’s no need to panic, however. The error is fairly easy to fix, and we’ll show you exactly how to do it in this article.

Before you progress, though, it’s worth taking precautions. When repairing any computer there’s always a chance that you could cause further problems, so make sure you carry out regular backups. If you haven’t got into the habit yet, and you can’t get into your computer, it might be an idea to remove the hard disk and save the files to another laptop or PC. USB disk caddies can be a lifesaver in this situation, letting you plug your hard disk with the damaged user profile in it, into another computer via USB.

How to fix a Windows corrupt user profile: Before you begin

  1. Restart your computer
    This might sound obvious, but try restarting the system as the first port of call. Windows can occasionally run into problems reading your user profile if you happen to have an antivirus scan running at the time. Reset your computer and attempt to log in again and you might be able to successfully get in this time. Otherwise, continue below.
  2. System restore
    There’s a chance that you can fix your computer by using System Restore. To do this, restart your computer and hit F8 to bring up Windows’ boot menu. Choose Safe Mode and boot into Windows. When you’re at the desktop get up a Command Prompt and type in rstrui to load System Restore. Click Next and then choose the restore point by date: pick a date where you know that your computer worked properly. Click Next and Finish to restore your computer. That may fix the issue but if not, you’ll need to begin preparations for further, slightly tricker, methods.
  3. Backup the registry
    Your first job is to backup the Registry, protecting your computer should the steps fail below. Fortunately, this is an easy job and you don’t need to be able to boot into the full OS to do it. Restart your computer and tap F8 after the BIOS POST screen to bring up the boot menu. Select Safe mode from the list.

Let your computer boot up. You may need to enter your username and password to log in to the Safe Mode Desktop. Normally, you’d be able to backup the Registry by creating a System Restore point, but you can’t do this in Safe Mode. Instead click on Start, type Regedit and hit Enter. In the Registry Editor hit File, Export, browse to where you want to save backup, enter a name and click Save.

If your computer has a second Administrator account that you can access, you can backup the Registry simply by booting into Windows and creating a new System Restore Point. Click Start, right-click Computer and select Properties. Click System Protection in the left-hand pane, then click the System Protection tab and click Create. Your computer will take a backup of key files and the Registry.

How to fix a Windows corrupt user profile on Windows 10

If you’ve encountered the ‘User Profile Service failed the logon’ error in Windows 10, then there’s a slightly different fix than before, but it requires you to have access to another Windows 10 system.

All you need to do is copy the ‘C:\Users\Default’ folder from a second, non-problematic PC over to your problem PC and pasting it in the same location. Rename the existing folder on your problem PC to something else, just in case you ever need to revert back for any reason.

To access the ‘Default’ folder on your second PC you’ll need to turn on hidden files by clicking ‘View’ in the folder toolbar and selecting ‘Hidden items’.

If you’re using an older version of Windows, such as Windows 8 or 7, then this method won’t work. Instead, you’ll have to follow either one of the two methods below to successfully access your desktop.

How to fix a Windows corrupt user profile on Windows 8 or 7: Create a new account

Creating a new account means that you don’t have to edit the Registry and can avoid more potential damage. It’s not such a clean fix, though, so if you’re more confident with using Windows, then the second method below may be more useful.

  1. Enable hidden administrator account
    The easiest and safest way to fix the problem is to create a brand new account and copy over your old files and settings. However, you can only do this if you’ve got another user account on the computer with Administrator settings. If you have, just boot your computer as normal and skip to Step 2. If you haven’t got another account, you need to enable the hidden Administrator account.

Boot into safe mode as above. Click Start, type ‘cmd’, then right-click Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator. In the command prompt type:

Net user administrator /active:yes

Hit Enter and you should see a message that says, “The command completed successfully”.

  1. Log in to the Administrator account
    Start your computer as normal, but when you get to the login screen, don’t log in with your normal user account. Instead, select either the hidden Administrator account, as enabled in Step 1, or another account on your computer that has admin access.
  2. Create a new account
    Open Control Panel from the Start Menu and select User Account and Family Safety, then click User Accounts. Click Manage another account, then click Create another account. Enter a name for your new user (it must be different to the old one, although you can rename later). Make your new account an Administrator, and click Create Account.
  3. Copy old data
    You now need to copy all of your old data to your new account. First, click Start and choose Switch account. On the Login screen, click your new account to log in to it for the first time (if you don’t do this, the user folder won’t be created). When you’re at the Desktop, log off and log into the Administrator account you used in Step 2.

Use Windows Explorer to go to your old user’s folder, which is most likely: C:Users

Press Alt, click Tools and select Folder Options. Click View and make sure you’ve selected ‘Show hidden files, folders, and drives’. Deselect ‘Hide protected operating system files (Recommended). Click OK.

Select all files in this folder, except the ones that start Ntuser.dat, Ntuser.dat.log, Ntuser.ini. Press Control-C or select Copy from the Edit menu (if you don’t see the menu press Alt first).

Browse to your new user’s folder (most likely c:Users). Press Control-V, select Paste, or select Paste from the Edit menu (press Alt if you don’t see this menu).

Log off and then back on as your new user. All of your files and application settings should have transferred, although some email applications may have to have messages re-downloaded or their data exported separately (see the manufacturer’s help). When you’re sure that you’ve got everything, you can delete your old user and their files, and rename your new user account. Don’t forget to go back into Safe mode and disable the Administrator account, using the following command:

Net user administrator /active:no

How to fix a Windows corrupt user profile on Windows 8 or 7: Registry edit

This method has the potential to cause more harm, so it’s best followed only by more advanced users. Remember to backup your Registry following the instructions at the start of this article.

  1. Launch RegEdit
    Restart your computer and boot into Safe Mode, following the instructions at the start of the article. Click on the Start menu, type Regedit and hit Enter to start the Registry Editor.

Using the left-hand panel, browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows NT/CurrentVersion/ProfileList. You’ll see some folders with the name starting S-1-5 followed by a long number. Click on each one in turn, then in the Main Window look at the ProfileImagePath and make sure it’s the account with the problem. This is the name of the user folder and contains the name of the username it relates to.

If you have two folders for your username, and one ends in .bak, you need to right-click the folder that doesn’t have .bak in it, select rename and add ‘.ba’ to the end of the name. Rename the folder with .bak in it, deleting the .bak part of the name. If you have one folder with a .bak at the end, rename to remove the .bak part.

  1. Change RefCount
    Select the folder with the .bak in the name, then in the main Window double-click RefCount. Change the Value data to 0, then click OK. Close the Registry Editor and restart your computer, and you can now login to your existing account. If you have further problems, you can restore your original Registry settings following the instructions at the start of this article, then follow Method 1 to repair your corrupted user profile.

Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen | RPGFan

https://www.rpgfan.com/review/pokemon-firered-leafgreen/

Less than a decade after the American release of Pokémon Red and Blue, Nintendo released Game Boy Advance remakes of these beloved RPGs. Entitled FireRed and LeafGreen (in Japan, Blue was called Green), the remakes promised updated graphics, additional content, and extended multiplayer capabilities. As with any remake, a potential buyer wonders at the necessity of the transition. While not startlingly different from their predecessors, the remakes make minor changes throughout and add new locations. Despite contrived and unnecessary additions, FireRed and LeafGreen make the original Pokémon journey more accessible and convenient than ever before.

Story

The trademark story returns: the player begins in modest Pallet Town with the ambition to become a Pokémon trainer. Kindly Professor Oak offers up one of his last three Pokémon to begin the player’s collection of the quirky beasts, and his grandson becomes an instant rival. The player obtains a Pokédex shortly after and the mission to catch them all becomes clear, along with the goal to collect all eight Gym Leader badges and eliminate the Elite Four.

Every aspect of the plot from Red and Blue returns in the remakes, though there aren’t many aspects to carry over. Typical for a monster collecting RPG, the story serves only to provide a purpose for the countless battles, obsessive critter gathering, and long walks in tall grass. Those returning to the series will feel considerable nostalgia concerning the characters, but Gary is still a lame rival, Professor Oak is still boring, and Team Rocket is still mindlessly evil. Untouched from Red and Blue, the new storyline and characters are generic, but faithful to the Pokémon tradition.

Gameplay

The formulaic, addictive gameplay common to the Pokémon franchise remains intact in FireRed and LeafGreen, but the remakes make numerous changes with varying degrees of effect. Many changes are made for convenience, such as the short recap of what the player accomplished during the previous session when continuing a saved game. The Pokédex was also redone for accessibility. Pokémon can be sorted in more ways than ever before. Furthermore, the game includes equippable items for Pokémon, passive abilities, and two on two battles. These changes never diminish the quality of the experience, though I found some of them unnecessary.

Larger additions include multiplayer options and all-new locations. Packaged with the cartridge, the wireless adapter is the center of many new gameplay opportunities. Trading and battling are standard, but the new Union room allows for up to forty players to interact. The player will also need friends to take part in some of the new mini-games. Unfortunately, those without a wireless adaptor, or friends, are left out of these additions.

The remakes also include a series of islands that didn’t appear in Red and Blue. Mostly open after beating the Elite Four, these nine islands give the player access to new Pokémon, items, and dungeons. The new Pokémon cover those found beyond the original 150. This will excite many players, but possibly disappoint others due to excess tampering with the original formula. Although the islands provide further exploration and gameplay, they’re carelessly tacked on. At the mention of the islands’ unimaginative names — “one,” “two,” “three,” etc. — players will undoubtedly cringe. FireRed and LeafGreen preserve the traditional monster collecting gameplay and add plenty of minor additions, but the major changes are shallow.

Graphics

One of the best updates to the old formula is the graphics. Entirely revamped from the original Game Boy versions, the new graphical palette is vibrant and colorful. In battle, Pokémon no longer appear hideously distorted; instead, their designs are closer to the iconic images found in other mediums. Attacks are more lively and varied than before, but the Pokémon themselves still don’t animate. Outside of battle, environments have been upgraded for clarity, and the menus have undergone evolution. Conveniently laid out and full of life, the menus feature unique thumbnail portraits for every Pokémon species in place of the generic blobs found in Red and Blue. FireRed and LeafGreen preserve the originals’ feel, but provide a necessary graphical update.

Sound

Much of the music from the original games returns in the remakes. While some tracks were remixed, the soundtrack retains the simplistic lightheartedness of the Pokémon universe. Every track conjures appropriate moods for any given situation. Battle themes are exciting and fast-paced, route themes are adventurous, and town themes are upbeat and catchy. Sound effects are directly transferred from the original games, down to every Pokémon’s cry. Fortunately, the developers didn’t venture far from the blissful tunes of Pokémon Red and Blue for the remakes.

Overall

FireRed and LeafGreen should appeal to those who wish to relive the original Red/Blue experience with updated graphics and conveniences. They should also appeal to those new to the franchise, however few may exist, who wish to enjoy the first 150 Pokémon in their traditional habitat. Those wishing to augment the Red/Blue experience can play through new material, and for purists, the optional side quests exist without harm to the original game. Considering the vast number of Pokémon games, fans may consider FireRed and LeafGreen to be heartless moneymakers. Less cynical fans, however, will find the second iteration of the first entry in the series just as entertaining, addictive, and endearing.

FSM Releasing Complete Soundtrack For Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

TrekMovie is excited to announce some big news, especially for Star Trek soundtrack aficionados. Film Score Monthly and Screen Archives Entertainment are releasing the complete soundtrack to James Horner’s classic Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan score. We have all the details.

https://trekmovie.com/2009/07/20/fsm-releasing-complete-soundtrack-for-star-trek-ii-the-wrath-of-khan/

Star Trek II: The Expanded Soundtrack

Originally released in 1982, and owing to the limitations of space on cassettes and LPs at the time, the TWOK soundtrack featured about 44:50 minutes of music. As they have done with previous releases such as the amazing 8CD Superman box set, Film Score Monthly/Screen Archives Entertainment have now greatly enhanced the TWOK music offering with an expanded edition of the score. With 23 tracks, the expanded edition of TWOK includes 76:58 minutes of music, featuring all the previously unreleased music available. Fans will be able to hear some of Horner’s beautiful music (made all the amazing considering he was only 28 years old at the time) for the first time on CD.

The filmscoremonthly.com website has this description:

Star Trek II was released on LP by Atlantic Records in a 45-minute program issued on CD by GNP/Crescendo (long out of print). Although the album program featured the score’s highlights, fans have long clamored for a complete-score presentation—adding such important cues as the mind-control sequences involving Chekov and Capt. Terrell being possessed by alien eels, the revelation of the Genesis Cave, the final battle between the Enterprise and Reliant, and Spock’s death and funeral (“Amazing Grace”). FSM delivers in cooperation with Rhino Entertainment (who administer the Atlantic Records catalog) and Paramount Pictures (owners of the Star Trek film franchise)—remastering the complete score from Dan Wallin’s 1982 three-track film mixes, stored in the Paramount vaults in sterling sound quality.

Rare music from a Trek classic

Two of the more exciting offerings are the music from the scene where Spock sacrifices himself for the crew (“Spock (dies)”) and the amazing battle music of “Enterprise Attacks Reliant.” The expanded edition also includes the one selection not composed by Horner. The music for “The Genesis Project” was actually composed by Craig Huxley. Astute fans may remember that Huxley, now a Grammy and Emmy award winning musician, played Peter Kirk (nephew to Captain Kirk in “Operation Annihilate!”) and Tommy Starnes (“And the Children Shall Lead”). He is also the inventor of the “blaster beam” instrument which was the voice of V’Ger in Jerry Goldsmith’s music for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. There are also bonus tracks, including “Amazing Grace” and the original epilogue and end credits music. As many fans know, the scene with Spock’s photon casing on Genesis was added to the film after completion. This necessitated new music and reediting of the film. The TWOK bonus track includes the version of the music as it originally would have played if this scene was not added to the feature film.

The soundtrack also includes an extensive and detailed 28-page program booklet, with many rare photos (some supplied by myself, with director Meyer’s permission, from my collection of photos from the amazing “The Papers of Nicholas Meyer Collection” from the University of Iowa) and liner notes from Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall, and Alexander Kaplan. The soundtrack costs $19.95 is available now, online only. You can purchase (and listen to clips) at filmscoremonthly.com. [note: this Soundtrack is not a ‘limited edition’ so if you have trouble getting to their site today, don’t worry]

How Joe Biden’s privatization plans destabilized Latin America and fueled the migration crisis

https://thegrayzone.com/2019/07/28/biden-privatization-plan-colombia-honduras-migration/

On the campaign trail, Joe Biden boasted of his role in transforming Colombia and Central America through ambitious economic and security programs. Colombians and Hondurans tell The Grayzone about the damage his plans did to their societies.

While campaigning for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, former Senator and Vice President Joseph Biden has touted the crucial role he played in designing US mega-development and drug war campaigns that transformed the socio-political landscape of large swaths of Latin America.

“I was one of the architects of Plan Colombia,” Biden boasted in a July 5 interview with CNN, referring to the multibillion-dollar US effort to end Colombia’s civil war with a massive surge of support for the country’s military. According to Biden, the plan was a panacea for Colombia’s problems, from “crooked cops” to civil strife.

But Biden’s plan for Colombia has contributed directly to the country’s transformation into a hyper-militarized bastion of right-wing rule, enhancing the power and presence of the notoriously brutal armed forces while failing miserably in its anti-narcotic and reformist objectives.

More than 50 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia in the first four months of 2019, while coca production is close to record levels. And as Colombian peace activists lamented in interviews with The Grayzone, the US is still in complete control of Bogotá’s failed anti-drug policy, thanks largely to Plan Colombia.

Biden has also pumped up his role in an initiative called the Alliance for Prosperity, which was applied to the Northern Triangle of Central America. The former vice president was so central to the program’s genesis that it was informally known as “Plan Biden.”

Marketed as an answer to the crisis of child migration, Biden’s brainchild channeled $750 million through a right-wing government installed by a US-orchestrated military coup to spur mega-development projects and privatize social services.

The Grayzone visited Honduras in July and documented, through interviews with human rights defenders, students, indigenous activists, and citizens from all walks of life, how the Alliance for Prosperity helped set the stage for a national rebellion.

In recent months, teachers, doctors, students, and rural campesinos have been in the streets protesting the privatization plans imposed on their country under the watch of Biden and his successors.

The gutting of public health services, teacher layoffs, staggering hikes in electricity prices, and environmentally destructive mega-development projects are critical factors in mass migration from Honduras. And indeed, they are immediate byproducts of the so-called “Biden plan.”

“Biden is taking credit for doing something constructive to stop the migration crisis and blaming the concentration camps [on the US-Mexico border] on Trump. But it’s Biden’s policies that are driving more people out of Central America and making human rights defenders lives more precarious by defending entities that have no interest in human rights,” explained Adrienne Pine, a professor of anthropology at American University and leading researcher of the social crisis in Honduras, in an interview with The Grayzone.

“So $750 million US taxpayer dollars that were allocated to supposedly address child migration are actually making things worse,” Pine added. “It started with unaccompanied minors and now you have children in cages. Largely thanks to Biden.”
‘I was one of the architects of Plan Colombia’

In an interview with CNN on July 5, Biden was asked if he favored decriminalizing the entry of Latin American migrants to the United States. Responding with a definitive “no,” Joe Biden stated that he would be “surging folks to the border to make those concrete decisions” about who receives asylum.

Biden argued that he had the best record of addressing the root causes of the migration crisis, recalling how he imposed a solution on Central America’s migration crisis. “You do the following things to make your country better so people don’t leave, and we will help you do that, just like we did in Colombia,” he said.

“What did we do in Colombia? We went down and said, okay, and I was one of the architects of Plan Colombia,” Biden continued. “I said, here’s the deal. If you have all these crooked cops, all these federal police, we’re sending our FBI down, you let us put them through a lie detector test, let us tell you who you should fire and tell you the kind of people you should hire. They did and began to change. We can do so much if we’re committed.”

With the arrogance of a pith-helmeted high colonial official meting out instructions on who to hire and fire to his docile subjects, Biden presided over a plan that failed miserably in its stated goals, while transforming Colombia into a hyper-militarized bastion of US regional influence.
Plan Colombia: ‘They come and ask for bread, and you give them stones’

Plan Colombia was originally conceived by Colombian President Andrés Pastrana in 1999, as an alternative development and conflict resolution plan for his war-torn country. He considered calling it the “Plan for Colombia’s Peace.”

The proposal was quickly hijacked by the Bill Clinton administration, with Joe Biden lobbying in the Senate for an iron-fisted militarization plan. “We have an obligation, in the interests of our children and the interests of the hemisphere, to keep the oldest democracy in place, to give them a fighting chance to keep from becoming a narcostate,” Biden said in a June 2000 floor speech.

When Plan Colombia’s first formal draft was published, it was done so in English, not Spanish. The original spirit of peace-building was completely sapped from the document by Biden, whose vigorous wheeling-and-dealing ensured that almost 80 percent of the $7.5 billion plan went to the Colombian military. 500 US military personnel were promptly dispatched to Bogota to train the country’s military.

“If you read the original Plan Colombia, not the one that was written in Washington but the original Plan Colombia, there’s no mention of military drives against the FARC rebels,” Robert White, the former number two at the US embassy in Bogota, complained in 2000. “Quite the contrary. [Pastrana] says the FARC is part of the history of Colombia and a historical phenomenon, he says, and they must be treated as Colombians.”

White lamented how Washington had abused the trust of the Colombians: “They come and ask for bread, and you give them stones.”

Plan Colombia was largely implemented under the watch of the hardline right-wing President Álvaro Uribe. In 1991, Uribe was placed on a US Drug Enforcement Agency list of “important Colombian narco-traffickers,” in part due to his role in helping drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s obtain licenses for landing strips while Uribe was the head of Colombia’s Civil Aeronautics Department.

Under Uribe’s watch, toxic chemicals were sprayed by military forces across the Colombian countryside, poisoning the crops of impoverished farmers and displacing millions.

Six years after Bill Clinton initiated Plan Colombia, however, even US drug czar John Walters was forced to quietly admit in a letter to the Senate that the price of cocaine in the US had declined, the flow of the drug into the US had risen, and its purity had increased.

Meanwhile, a UN Office of Drugs and Crime report found that coca cultivation reached record levels in Colombia in 2018. In other words, billions of dollars have been squandered, and a society already in turmoil has been laid to waste.

For the military and right-wing paramilitary forces that have shored up the rule of leaders like Uribe and the current ultra-conservative Colombian president, Ivan Duque, Plan Colombia offered a sense of near-total impunity.

The depravity of the country’s military was put on bold display when the so-called “false positives” scandal was exposed in 2008. The incident began when army officers lured 22 rural laborers to a far-away location, massacred them, and then dressed them in uniforms of the leftist FARC guerrillas.

It was an overt attempt to raise the FARC body count and justify the counter-insurgency aid flowing from the US under Plan Colombia. The officers who oversaw the slaughter were paid bounties and given promotions.

Colombian academics Omar Eduardo Rojas Bolaños and Fabián Leonardo Benavides demonstrated in a meticulous study that the “false positives” killings reflected “a systematic practice that implicates the commanders of brigades, battalions and tactical units” in the deaths of more than 10,000 civilians. Indeed, under Plan Colombia, the incident was far from an isolated atrocity.

Forfeiting Colombia’s national sovereignty

In an interview in Bogotá this May, The Grayzone’s Ben Norton asked Colombian social leader Santiago Salinas if there was any hope for progressive political transformation since the ratification of Plan Colombia.

An organizer of the peace group Congreso de los Pueblos, Salinas shrugged and exclaimed, “I wish.” He lamented that many of Colombia’s most pivotal decisions were made in Washington.

Salinas pointed to drug policy as an example. “It seems like the drug decisions about what to do with the drugs, it has nothing to do with Colombia.

“There was no sovereign decision on this issue. Colombia does not have a decision,” he continued. It was the Washington that wrote the script for Bogota. And the drug trade is in fact a key part of the global financial system, Salinas pointed out.

But Biden was not finished. After 15 years of human misery and billions of wasted dollars in Colombia, he set out on a personal mission to export his pet program to Central America’s crime and corruption-ravaged Northern Triangle.
Biden eyes Central America, selling mass privatization

In his July sit-down with CNN, Joe Biden trumpeted his Plan Colombia as the inspiration for the Alliance for Prosperity he imposed on Central America. Channeling the spirit of colonial times once again, he bragged of imposing Washington’s policies on the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“We’ll make a deal with you,” Biden recalled telling the leaders of these countries. “You do the following things to make your country better so people don’t leave, and we will help you do that.”

Biden announced his bold plan on the editorial pages of the New York Times in January 2015. He called it “a joint plan for economic and political reforms, an alliance for prosperity.” Sold by the vice president as a panacea to a worsening migration crisis, the Alliance for Prosperity was a boon for international financial institutions which promised to deepen the economic grief of the region’s poor.

The Alliance for Prosperity “treated the Honduran government as if it were a crystal-clear, pure vessel into which gold could be poured and prosperity would flow outward,” explained Dana Frank, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of the book, The Long Honduran Night.

“In reality, the Plan would further enrich and strengthen the political power of the very same elites whose green, deliberate subversion of the rule of law, and destruction of natural resources and of Indigenous and campesino land rights, were responsible for the dire conditions the proposal ostensibly addressed,” Frank added.

In Honduras, the government had no capacity or will to resist Biden’s plan. That is because the country’s elected president, Juan Manuel Zelaya, had been removed in 2009 in a coup orchestrated by the United States.

As Zelaya told The Grayzone’s Anya Parampil, the Obama administration was infuriated by his participation in ALBA, a regional economic development program put forward by Venezuela’s then-President Hugo Chavez that provided an alternative to neoliberal formulas like the so-called “Biden Plan.”

Following the military coup, a corporate-friendly administration was installed to advance the interests of international financial institutions, and US trainers arrived in town to hone the new regime’s mechanisms of repression.

Under the auspices of the Central American Regional Security Initiative, the FBI was dispatched to oversee the training of FUSINA, the main operational arm of the Honduran army and the base of the Military Police for Public Order (PMOP) that patrols cities like an occupation force.

In an October 2014 cable, the US embassy in Tegucigalpa acknowledged that the PMOP was riven with corruption and prone to abuse, and attempted to distance itself from the outfit, even though it operated under the umbrella of FUSINA.

This June, the PMOP invaded the Autonomous University of Honduras, attacking students protesting the privatization of their school and wounding six.

The creation by the US embassy in Honduras of a special forces unit known as the Tigres has added an additional layer of repressive muscle. Besides arresting activists, the Tigres reportedly helped a drug kingpin escape after he was detained during a US investigation.

While violent crime surged across Honduras, unemployment more than doubled. Extreme poverty surged, and so too did the government’s security spending.

To beef up his military, President Juan Orlando Hernández dipped into the social programs that kept a mostly poor population from tumbling into destitution.

As Alex Rubinstein reported for The Grayzone, the instability of post-coup Honduras has been particularly harsh on LGTTBI (Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Travesti, Bisexual, and Intersex) Hondurans. More than 300 of them have been killed since 2009, a dramatic spike in hate crimes reinforced by the homophobic rhetoric of the right-wing Evangelical Confraternity that represents the civil-society wing of the ultra-conservative Hernandez government.

As the social chaos enveloped Honduran society, migration to the US-Mexico border began to surge to catastrophic levels. Unable to make ends meet, some Hondurans sent their children alone to the border, hoping that they would temporary protective or refugee status.

By 2014, the blowback of the Obama administration’s coup had caused a national emergency. Thousands of Hondurans were winding up in cages in detention camps run by the US Department of Homeland Security, and many of them were not even 16 years old.

That summer, Obama went to Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to ramp up border militarization and deport as many unaccompanied Central American minors as possible.

Biden used the opportunity to rustle up an additional billion dollars, exploiting the crisis to fund a massive neoliberal project that saw Honduras as a base for international financial opportunity. His plan was quickly ratified, and the first phase of the Alliance for Prosperity began.

Energy industry rush dooms indigenous communities and human rights defenders

The implementation of the Alliance for Prosperity was overseen by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), a US-dominated international financial institution based in Washington, DC that supports corporate investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.

A graphic on the IADB’s website outlined the plan’s objectives in anodyne language that concealed its aggressively neoliberal agenda.

For instance, the IADB promised the “fostering [of] regional energy integration.” This was a clear reference to Plan Pueblo Panama, a region-wide neoliberal development blueprint that was conceived as a boon to the energy industry. Under the plan, the IADB would raise money from Latin American taxpayers to pay for the expansion of power lines that would carry electricity from Mexico all the way to Panama.

Honduras, with its rivers and natural resources, provided the project with a major hub of energy production. In order for the country’s energy to be traded and transmitted to other countries, however, the International Monetary Fund mandated that its national electricity company be privatized.

Since the implementation of that component of “Plan Biden,” energy costs have begun to surge for residential Honduran consumers. In a country with a 66 percent poverty rate, electricity privatization has turned life from precarious to practically impossible.

Rather than languish in darkness for long hours with unpaid bills piling up, many desperate citizens have journeyed north towards the US border.

As intended, the Alliance for Prosperity’s regional energy integration plan has spurred an influx of multi-national energy companies to Honduras. Hydro-electric dams and power plants began rising up in the midst of the lush pine forests and winding rivers that define the Honduran biosphere, pushing many rural indigenous communities into a life-and-death struggle.

This July, The Grayzone traveled to Reitoca, a remote farming community located in the heart of the Honduran “dry sector.” The indigenous Lenca residents of this town depend on their local river for fish, recreation, and most importantly, water to irrigate the crops that provide them with a livelihood. But the rush on energy investment brought an Italian-Chilean firm called Progelsa to the area to build a massive hydro-electric dam just upstream.

Wilmer Alonso, a member of the Lenca Indigenous Council of Reitoca, spoke with The Grayzone, shaking with emotion as he described the consequences of the dam for his community.

“The entire village is involved in this struggle,” Alonso said. “Everyone knows the catastrophe that the construction of this hydro-electric plant would create.”

He explained that, like so many foreign multi-nationals in Honduras, Progelsa employs an army of private thugs to intimidate protesters: “The private company uses the army and the police to repress us. They accuse us of being trespassers, but they are the ones trespassing on our land.”
US reinforces ‘factors that generate violence the most in our society’

The Alliance for Progress also provided the backdrop for the assassination of the renowned Honduran environmentalist and feminist organizer Berta Cáceres.

On March 3, 2016, Cáceres was gunned down in her home in rural Honduras. A towering figure in her community with a presence on the international stage, Cáceres had been leading the fight against a local dam project overseen by DESA, a powerful Honduran energy company backed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and run by powerful former military officers.

The representative that DESA sent to sign its deal with USAID, Sergio Rodríguez, was later accused of masterminding Cáceres’ murder, alongside military officials and former company employees.

In March 2018, the Honduran police arrested DESA’s executive president, Roberto David Castillo Mejía, accusing him of “providing logistics and other resources to one of the material authors” of the assassination. Castillo was a West Point graduate who worked in the energy industry while serving as a Honduran intelligence officer.

This July, The Grayzone visited the family of Berta Cáceres in La Esperanza, a town nestled in the verdant mountains of Intibucá. Cáceres’ mother, Doña Berta, lives there under 24-hour police guard paid for by human rights groups.

The Cáceres household is bristling with security cameras, and family members get around in armored cars. In her living room, we met Laura Zúñiga Cáceres of the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the human rights group that her mother Berta founded.

“The violence in Honduras generates migrant caravans, which tears apart society, and it all has to do with all of this extractivism, this violence,” Zúñiga Caceres told The Grayzone. “And the response from the US government is to send more soldiers to our land; it is to reinforce one of the factors that generates violence the most in our society.”

“We are receiving reports from our comrades that there is a US military presence in indigenous Lenca territory,” she added. “For what? Humanitarian aid? With weapons. It’s violence. It’s persecution.”
Gutting public healthcare, driving more migration

The Alliance for Prosperity also commissioned the privatization of health services through a deceptively named program called the Social Protection Framework Law, or la Ley Marco de Protección Social.

Promoted by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández as a needed reform, the scheme was advanced through a classic shock doctrine-style episode: In 2015, close associates of Hernández siphoned some $300 million from the Honduran Institute for Social Services (IHSS) into private businesses, starving hospitals of supplies and causing several thousand excess deaths, mostly among the poor.

With the medical sector in shambles, Hondurans were then forced to seek healthcare from the private companies that were to provide services under Hernandez’s “Social Protection” plan.

“The money that was robbed [in the IHSS scandal] was used to justify the Ley Marco Proteccion Social,” Karen Spring, a researcher and coordinator for the Honduras Solidarity Network, told The Grayzone. “The hospitals were left in horrible conditions with no human capital and they were left to farm out to private hospitals.”

“When Hondurans go to hospitals, they will be told they need to go to a private company, and through the deductions in their jobs they will have to pay a lot out of pocket,” Spring said. “Through the old universal system you would be covered no matter what you had, from a broken arm to cancer. No more.”

In response, Hondurans poured out into the streets, launching the March of Torches – the first major wave of continuous protests against Hernandez and his corrupt administration.

In March 2015, in the middle of the crisis, Joe Biden rushed down to Guatemala City to embrace Hernández and restore confidence in the Alliance for Prosperity.

“I come from a state that, in fact, is the corporate capital of America. More corporations are headquartered there than anyplace else,” Biden boasted, with Hernández and the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador standing by his side. “They want to come here. Corporate America wants to come.”

Emphasizing the need for more anti-corruption and security measures to attract international financial investment, Biden pointed to Plan Colombia as a shining model – and to himself as its architect. “Today Colombia is a nation transformed, just as you hope to be 10 to 15 years from now,” the vice president proclaimed.

Following Biden’s visit, the privatization of the Honduran economy continued apace — and so did the corruption, the repression, and the unflinching support from Washington.
Hondurans take to the streets, wind up in US-style supermax prisons

By 2017, the movement in Honduras that had galvanized against the US-orchestrated 2009 coup saw its most immediate opportunity for political transformation at the ballot box. President Hernández was running for re-election, violating a constitutional provision on term limits. His opponent, Salvador Nasrallah, was a popular broadcast personality who provided a centrist consensus choice for the varied elements that opposed the country’s coup regime.

When voting ended on November 26, Nasrallah’s victory appeared certain, with exit polls showing him comfortably ahead by several points. But suddenly, the government announced that a power outage required the suspension of vote counting. Days later, Hernández was declared the victor by about 1 percent.

The fraud was so transparent that the Organization of American States (OAS), normally an arm of US interests in Latin America, declared in a preliminary report that “errors, irregularities and systemic problems,” as well as “extreme statistical improbability,” rendered the election invalid.

But the United States recognized the results anyway, leaving disenfranchised Hondurans with protest as their only recourse.

“Hondurans tried to change what happened in their country through the 2017 elections, not just Hernández but all the implementation of all these policies that the Biden plan had funded and implemented all these years since the coup,” explained Karen Spring, of the Honduras Solidarity Network.

“They tried to change that reality through votes and when the elections turned out to be a fraud, tons of people had no choice but to take to the streets.”

At the front lines of the protests in 2017 was Spring’s longtime partner, the Honduran activist Edwin Espinal. Following a protest in November of that year where property damage took place, Espinal was arrested at gunpoint at his home and accused of setting fire to the front door of a hotel. He fervently denied all charges, accusing the government of persecuting him for his political activism.

In fact, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had placed a protective measure on Espinal in 2010 in response to previous attempts to legally railroad him.

The government placed Espinal in pre-trial detention in La Tolva, a US-style maximum security prison normally reserved for violent criminals and narco-traffickers. Last October, Espinal and Spring were married in the jail while surrounded by masked guards.

“Since the Biden plan, contractors have been coming down to build these US-style maximum security prisons,” Spring said. “That’s where my husband Edwin Espinal is being held.”

“They say the company is Honduran but there’s no way Hondurans could have built that without US architects or US construction firms giving them the plans,” she added. “I’ve been in the prison and it’s like they dumped a US prison in the middle of Honduras.”

Reflecting on her husband’s persecution, Spring explained, “Edwin wanted to stay in his country to change the reality that caused mass migration. He’s one of the people who’s faced consequences because he went to the streets. And he’s faced persecution for years because he’s one of the Hondurans who wanted to change the country by staying and fighting. Berta Caceres was another.”

“Hondurans wanted to use their votes to change the country and now they’re voting with their feet,” she continued. “So if Biden’s plan really addressed the root causes of the migrant crisis, why aren’t people asking why migration is getting worse? Hondurans are voting on the Biden plan by fleeing and saying your plan didn’t work and it made our situation worse by fleeing to the border.”

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