brad brace


Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 6:34 am


The last time rival political forces fought one another street by street
for control of the Nicaraguan capital was three decades ago, in July 1979,
at the culmination of the Sandinista insurrection that overthrew the
Somoza dictatorship. The streets of Managua were once again aflame amid
the boom of mortar rounds, as the Sandinistas and their rivals battled for
control — but it was the erstwhile revolutionary movement that now stands
accused of being a dictatorship.

An undercover investigation of the illegal wildlife trade in five African
nations led to the seizure of about a ton of ivory along with hippo teeth
and cheetah, leopard and python skins, the Kenya Wildlife Service said.

In Vanuatu, a Chief pleads for forgiveness on behalf of his errant
jail-breaking son in an unprecedented custom ceremony, in the tropical
islands of Vanuatu, in the South Pacific.

The prize, this time, is not control of the Nicaraguan state, but simply
the mayorships in 146 municipalities, which were up for election on
November 9. But allegations of massive vote fraud and conflicting claims
of victory have set off several days of violence between rival political
bands, leaving Nicaragua’s fledgling institutional democracy struggling
for its life.

A four-month investigation coordinated by Interpol, an international
police association based in Lyon, France, led to the arrest of 57 suspects
in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia, the Kenyan
conservation agency said in a statement. Undercover agents tracked
suspects and illegal products to local ivory markets, airports, border
crossings and smuggling points.

Vanuatu, a peaceful tropical island nation in the South Pacific, witnessed
an never-before-seen kustom ceremony when, Chief Joshua Batakoro Vanua,
father of Lee Tamata, a high risk escapee, from the local jail,
ceremonially offered ten pigs to the community heads, in a plea for
forgiveness for the misdemeanors of his son.

The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) has announced a partial recount of
votes from last Sunday’s mayoral polls, in which it has yet to declare
winners in several hotly contested cities, including the capital. But the
mobs of activists of the ruling Sandinista party and the opposition
Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) aren’t waiting idly to hear the

The operation, which ended Saturday, was a blessing for countries whose
elephant populations “have declined tremendously over the years,” Wildlife
Service Director Julius Kipng’etich said.

Ten pigs were handed over to the community leaders during a custom
ceremony held at the Chief’s Nakamal. The leaders included the newly
elected Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Edward Natapei. This was the highest
price ever paid for peace, in the traditional custom system of the island
of Pentecost.

Downtown banks and businesses have been forced to close early for several
days and both the British and U.S. Embassies have warned their citizens to
remain vigilant and avoid any large crowds as political gangs clash on the
streets, destroying public and private property and turning parts of the
capital into a virtual war zone.

“Co-operation among countries in East, West and Southern Africa against
wildlife crime has set an inspired example,” said Giuliano Zaccardelli, an
Interpol program director. “Similar operations could also be conducted in
Asia, the Americas and in any other region where criminal interests,
including trafficking in illegal wildlife products, are common.”

Earlier this year, before the general elections, a Pentecost chief
demanded that Jenny Ligo,a woman candidate, pay 10 pigs in a kustom
ceremony for her right to continue to contest the elections. Jenny had
already performed a 10 pig-killing kustom ceremony, just to enter the male
dominated arena of politics.

The violence broke out after opposition leaders accused the Sandinistas of
turning the election into a fraudulent sham in order to take control of
the country’s most important cities, including Managua. The poll, in which
the government refused to allow monitoring by any credible outside
electoral observers, was riddled with alleged irregularities that began
months before election day when several opposition parties were banned
from participating, and continued after the vote, with stacks of ballots
found mysteriously dumped in the woods.

In one case, when Kenya Wildlife Service officers tried to arrest a Kenyan
and a Tanzanian man found with two pieces of ivory weighing 13 kilograms
(29 pounds), the men resisted and a wildlife officer fired in
self-defense, grazing one of the suspects in the head.

When Chief Joshua discovered how much fear and damage his son had caused
to members of the local community in Port Vila, he felt duty-bound to
offer the pigs on behalf of his son, asking for the leader’s forgiveness.

The U.S. State Department this week noted reports of “widespread
irregularities taking place at voting stations throughout the country,”
and said the Supreme Electoral Council’s decision to “not accredit
credible domestic and international election observers has made it
difficult to properly assess the conduct of the elections.”

In another case, a suspect who had been arrested escaped in the darkness.
In two separate instances, officials caught suspected smugglers
transporting several pieces of elephant tusks on motorbikes.

While Chief Joshua spend three months in the capital Port Vila, away from
his island home and family, he counseled his son. Chief Joshua had to sell
kava and taro to raise the funds to buy the pigs for the peace ceremony.

Business groups, church leaders and opposition parties have called for an
internationally audited nationwide recount, and the PLC has threatened to
paralyze the national legislature by walking out and denying it a quorum.

The elephant populations of many African countries were being decimated
until the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
banned the ivory trade in 1989. Since then the elephant population of
Kenya, for example, has grown from 16,000 to 27,000. But that is far fewer
than the estimated 167,000 elephants that lived in Kenya in 1973.

Ten mature pigs are not only highly prized, but a very expensive exercise
for the father as pigs are the wealth of a village. Curled pig tusks are
used as currency in some areas of the Vanuatu islands, with the Tari Bunia
Bank having 14 branches. The bank issues cheque books, has reserves and
gives loans, all on the currency of pig tusks. While there is a vault to
the bank there are no need for locks. “The bank is protected by spirits
and snakes,” says the bank manager.

The day after the vote, despite trailing by five percentage points in the
official count to Sandinista candidate and former boxing champ Alexis
Arguello, the PLC’s Managua mayoral hopeful Eduardo Montealegre declared
himself the winner based on his party’s own tabulation of the vote tallies
released to the parties at each balloting station. Montealegre, a former
finance minister who has adopted the cartoon image of Mighty Mouse after
opponents dubbed him “the rat,” called on his supporters to take to the
streets to “celebrate” the victory and “defend the vote at whatever

A plane equipped with body-heat sensors will be used by the Brazilian
government to locate and protect isolated Indian tribes in the Amazon. The
heat sensors will be mounted on a government plane normally used to
monitor deforestation. It is not clear when the effort will start.

Chief Joshua said “My son has erred and I ask for your forgiveness,” said
Chief Joshua, who spent time counseling his errant son while in Vila. The
Chief will now return home with assurances from his son that he will serve
the full term of his sentence and act with respect towards the law. Lee’s
name means peace in the language of his home island, Pentecost.


Filed under: General — admin @ 6:24 am




For Kiribati, the threat of submergence because of sea level rise seems
distant when compared to the range of potentially disastrous ecological and
economic problems it is faced with in the short-term.

There are many staple foods in the Solomon Islands many however prefer yam,
or uvi, as it is known in Guadalcanal.

The cost of treating infertile couples has halved with the launch of a new
programme expected to become one of the vanguard methods of addressing
Kenya’s high infertility rates.

The alarm bells of sea level rise as a result of global warming and climate
change—brought centrestage in no small measure by the 2006 documentary film
‘An Inconvenient Truth’— catapulted the world’s low-lying atoll nations to
the front pages of the global media.

According to the World Bank, tourism is the largest and the fastest
developing industry in the world today.

In the Pacific, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands have been
perceived as the most threatened.

Yams are a primary agricultural commodity in the Solomon Islands, and have
been used extensively prior to the colonization of the Islands.

Nairobi-based Aga Khan University Hospital said it has achieved its first
two pregnancies using the new treatment and that many more were in the

The amount of tourists having visited other countries has become 4.5%
higher and reached 842 million people as compared to 2005.

Over the past few years, these countries have been the focus of much
research by the world’s scientists to find definitive answers relating to
their impending submergence.

This essentially means that they were brought to the Solomon Islands by our
early ancestors.

Latest University of Nairobi statistics show that almost a quarter of
Kenyan men and nearly a fifth of women are infertile with the majority
unaware of their condition.

In Kiribati alone, two small islets have been submerged by rising sea
levels. Everything one has heard and read about Kiribati being a nation
that is supposed to be among the early victims of sea level rise, that may
not even survive the next few decades rings true as the jet approaches the
runway at Bonriki Airport on Tarawa, Kiribati’s capital.

According to the information given by Washington Profile, the largest
tourist inflow has been marked in Southern Asia and become 10% higher as
compared to 2005.

It is used for important ceremonial events such as reconciliation, weddings
or feasts to show ones status.

Until recently, there was almost nothing that could be done to help them.

India is the most attractive country for foreign travellers. A remarkable
growth – 8.1% has been noted in Africa.

The extreme vulnerability of this ribbon-like string of atolls in the
middle of the world’s largest ocean becomes apparent as their fraying edges
constantly battered by the tides come into view.

A simple Google search show that yams were first cultivated in Africa and
Asia about 8000 B.C.

Hospitals have since last year been racing to introduce wider and cheaper
In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) programmes, in a bid to open a route to
child-bearing for the infertile.

The retaining walls at the far end of the runway have been reduced to
rubble because of the relentless onslaught of the waves.

A remarkable growth – 8.1% has been noted in Africa. Most foreign tourists
have visited SAR, Kenya and Morocco. In countries of Asian-Pacific area the
number of tourists has become 7.6% higher, and in Europe – 4% higher.

The drive down the one single road that runs through the 30-odd kilometre
length of the atolls that form Tarawa — never more than a couple of hundred
metres at their widest and strung together by a series of two-lane
causeways — is marked with sights of crumbling sea walls and mounds of
refuse lining the coastline in several places.

In the Solomon Islands, where refrigerators are not yet a common household
item, yams are very important since they can be stored for up to six months
without refrigeration.

However, in Kenya, the first IVF baby was born just 18 months ago, under a
pioneer treatment priced at Sh300,000.

Along the lagoon to the west, acres of coconut trees shorn of both frond
and fruit stand mute testimony to the encroaching salt water and
lengthening periods of drought that the atolls have faced in recent years.

In countries of Asian-Pacific area the number of tourists has become 7.6%
higher, and in Europe – 4% higher

Further down at Betio, the southernmost point on Tarawa, one sees
overcrowding that is so unusual for Pacific islands — and of course

“We usually cook them very early in the morning, we store some for later in
the day and some for the kids to take to school,” said Lilly Vale, a mother
of two young kids who resides near the Poha area in West Guadalcanal.

Sea level rise not the only problem Increased global awareness of climate
change and sea level rise and the rash of alarmism that has predicted their
impending submergence have tended to portray these as the biggest problem
faced by the 33-island nation straddling the equator across three time

The huge need for better access to the treatment has seen two hospitals,
Nairobi and now Aga Khan, as well as two clinics introduce the procedure.

Despite the intense scrutiny of the scientific establishment, the interest
of ecologists and aid agencies as well as the glare of the global media,
islanders’ opinion on the submergence issue is sharply divided — and for
all sorts of reasons ranging from anecdotal and experiential evidence on
both sides of the argument, through religious beliefs, to downright

Most foreign tourists have visited SAR, Kenya and Morocco. In countries of
Asian-Pacific area the number of tourists has become 7.6% higher, and in
Europe – 4% higher.

President Anote Tong, the London School of economics-educated head of
state, is understandably cautious: “I am not suggesting and have never
suggested that the islands are sinking because of the rise in sea levels,”
he says. “But there is no doubt we are increasingly facing the effects of
climate change in many ways.”

“We cook them over hot stones… we keep the stones hot throughout the day
just to keep the yam hot.”

We have only started this year and so far we’ve handled two patients, one
in April and one in August both of whom are pregnant,” said Dr Praful S.
Patel, a senior lecturer at the hospital and an expert in IVF.

Germany which was the site of World Cup has become a leader here. Tourism
industry in the Near East has obtained the same result.

In fact, recent sea level data analyses suggest that the danger of
submergence for Kiribati’s atolls—unlike the neighbouring atoll nation of
Tuvalu — is no longer as immediate as was estimated earlier (estimates of
20 to 50 years have now been stretched to more like 80 to 100 years).
Though increased erosion, a greater frequency of higher tides and longer
periods of drought may be a direct result of climate change (just as
similar phenomena have affected other parts of the world, including the
frequent hurricanes in the United States), submergence is no longer the
immediate, central issue.

Lilly says that leftovers are often wrapped in banana leaves and stored in
the kitchen, normally a leaf hut separate from the main house.

These first pregnancies have put Aga Khan Hospital ahead of its peers in
success rates.

The amount of tourists having visited Southern and Northern American
countries became just 2% higher in 2006.

Yet, in actual fact, the country may be faced with a wide range of far
worse and far more urgent potential disasters than sea level rise — though
climate change may well be playing the role of a catalyst in many of these
looming problems.

Lilly says that her family will continue to consume yam even though many in
the village seem to prefer rice nowadays.

But from there, only about a third of IVF fertilised embryos lead to a
confirmed pregnancy.

Such low rates are connected with reducing of tourists visiting Canada and

“I just think that it is healthier, I have noticed many of the villagers
getting sick when they switch to rice and tinned food… our grandparents
lived healthy lives until they were very old, most depended only on yam and
sea food.”

The success rate in Kenya has so far been higher than that.

According to the information provided by the World Tourism And Travel
Council, 8.3% of world’s working places, 9.3% of international investments,
12% of exports and 3.6% of world internal gross product account for a share
of tourism and its branches.

Over the past decade or so, Tarawa has faced fiercer and more frequent
storms, higher tides and longer droughts. Several residents pointed out
that the westerly winds that ushered in the wet season around December had
virtually disappeared in the past seven years, resulting in longer dry
periods and erratic and far less frequent wet spells.

Dietitians would agree with Lilly since Yams are high in Vitamin C and
Vitamin B6.

The real obstacle for couples, however, has been cost. In Kenya, this
treatment has been pioneered by the likes of Dr Praful S Patel and Dr
Joshua Noreh of the Nairobi IVF clinic, who delivered Kenya’s first test
tube baby just over one-and-a-half years ago.

Tourists spend 10.2% of all means expended by world consumers. An average
tourist having visited Europe has made an income at amount of $790 (for
Eastern Europe and European Republics of the Former USSR this rate is

This has resulted in large-scale migration from the smaller outer islands
to Tarawa, particularly to Betio, where the population density at about 111
per square kilometre compares with that of Hong Kong, making it the densest
urban agglomeration in the Pacific islands. In the past five years alone,
the population is thought to have grown by as much as 20,000 on that narrow
strip of land. With almost no sewerage system, not just groundwater but
even the surrounding lagoon is contaminated and travel advisories warn
strongly against swimming in the lagoon or drinking well water.

This means that yams are high in potassium and low in sodium which is
likely to produce a good potassium-sodium balance in the human body, and so
protect against osteoporosis and heart diseases.

In its first two years of availability in Kenya, IVF has been priced at
more than Sh300,000 per treatment. Aga Khan is now offering IVF for an
average Sh150,000, opening the cheapest route yet for childless couples.

For the USA and Canada the income from a tourist is $1190, for Asia – $890,
for Africa – $590, for The Near East – $710.

The local hospital (manned mostly by Cuban doctors) has been registering
increasing cases of enteric disorders. Housing in Betio resembles
shantytowns in other parts of the world—and without adequate garbage
disposal systems, waste accumulates on the shoreline. In some places around
Tarawa, this is simply burnt, compacted and used as a base for reclaiming

Almost 80% of foreign tourists come from European and Southern American
countries. Eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand supply approximately 15%
of tourists.

The only source of freshwater on these remote atolls is rainwater and
because of the unfortunate combination of a fast growing population and low
rainfall, groundwater reserves have been depleting faster than in previous
years. Also, newly sunk bore wells pump out water faster than the rate at
which it percolates, leaving the population facing serious freshwater
shortages — which is expected to only get worse in time to come.

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 6:55 am


Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 12:27 pm


Filed under: General,media — admin @ 7:46 am

* PDF:
* For video updates:
* Contact:

Early this morning, commuters nationwide were delighted to find out
that while they were sleeping, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had
come to an end.

If, that is, they happened to read a “special edition” of today’s New
York Times.

In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million
papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged
pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass
them out on the street.

Articles in the paper announce dozens of new initiatives including the
establishment of national health care, the abolition of corporate
lobbying, a maximum wage for C.E.O.s, and, of course, the end of the

The paper, an exact replica of The New York Times, includes
International, National, New York, and Business sections, as well as
editorials, corrections, and a number of advertisements, including a
recall notice for all cars that run on gasoline. There is also a
timeline describing the gains brought about by eight months of
progressive support and pressure, culminating in President Obama’s “Yes
we REALLY can” speech. (The paper is post-dated July 4, 2009.)

“It’s all about how at this point, we need to push harder than ever,”
said Bertha Suttner, one of the newspaper’s writers. “We’ve got to make
sure Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do.
After eight, or maybe twenty-eight years of hell, we need to start
imagining heaven.”

Not all readers reacted favorably. “The thing I disagree with is how
they did it,” said Stuart Carlyle, who received a paper in Grand
Central Station while commuting to his Wall Street brokerage. “I’m all
for freedom of speech, but they should have started their own paper.”

# 30 #


Latest Film Studies

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 4:41 am

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Edition • Girl 27 • Bird • Millennium Mambo • Le Petit Soldat • Steamroller
and the Violin • Disappearing World: The Lau of Malaita • The Thin Red Line
• South Pacific • Tsotsi • The Silence • Wages of Fear • Night and Fog •
Kaagaz Ke Phool • L’Argent • Maria Full of Grace • Manda Bala • Ace in the
Hole • Sunset Boulevard • The BRD Trilogy: Veronika Voss • Amores Perros •
BRD Trilogy: Marriage of Maria Braun • Dead Man • La Jetee / Sans Soleil •
Au Hasard Balthazar • Pickup on South Street • A Man Escaped • Bay of
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Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 6:09 am

Money Laundering, Motion-activated Cameras Taint Economic Growth as New Gecko Burns Houses

Faced with a growing number of drug trafficking, money laundering and
organised crime investigations, the head of Cape Verde’s judiciary police
said his agents may know who the traffickers and money launderers are, but
do not have enough resources to catch them all.

According to scientists at France’s National Museum of Natural History, a
new species of gecko has been discovered — after it hatched from an egg
removed from a nest on a South Pacific island and carried 12,000 miles to
Paris in a box lined with Kleenex. The island, Espiritu Santo, is one of
the larger South Pacific islands of the Vanuatu Archipelago, east of

Oscar Silva dos Reis Tavares, who directs high-level crime investigations
at the judiciary police, said his agents are handling 150 investigations,
including 10 money laundering cases. But the police should be looking into
more, he said: “We can’t just go up to someone on the street and use what
they say as evidence in a court of law. This is a small community. People
may know who earns money illegally, but we need proof.”

Los Angeles police are using motion-activated cameras to warn vandals that
they’re being watched.

In the past five years, the islands have increasingly been used as a
transit point for drugs coming from Latin America, destined for Europe and
West Africa, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Minister of Justice Marisa Morais said Cape Verde’s geography has left it
open to transatlantic traffickers: “Our geographical location is both a
privilege and a threat.”

The Police in Solomon Islands have confirmed around three houses were burnt
to the ground over the weekend.

The new reptile species, which was formally assigned the Latin name,
Lepidodactylus buleli, is only three inches long as an adult, and lives
near the tops of the rainforest on the west coast of Espiritu Santo, eating
insects and possibly drinking nectar from flowers.

The houses belonged to Malaitan settlers in West Guadalcanal about a 30
minute drive from the capital Honiara.

Based on government records, Cape Verde, with a growing tourist economy,
controls more than 700,000sqkm of water that include 10 islands and eight
islets with 1000km of volcanic, at times difficult to access, coastline.

Police say a dispute had risen among the settlers after a young man had
defiled a young girl and caused a row between the settlers.

But despite a recent jump in tourism dollars, the government reported about
10 percent of its population living in extreme poverty as of May 2008.
Illegal housing settlements continue spreading out in northern Praia
neighbourhoods like Safende, Calabaceira, and San Pedro, which lack
drainage, roads and easy access to water.

Geckos are small to medium-sized reptiles in the family Gekkonidae. These
fascinating animals are unique among lizards because they are vocal: their
social interactions frequently involve chirping sounds.

In a recent UNODC report, researchers wrote that what appears as legitimate
economic growth in some West African countries may be explained through the
drug trade: “Once the channels for disguising drug money have been
established,” wrote UN researchers, “they can be used for concealing all
manner of criminal proceedings.”

Many geckos also have specialized toe pads that rely on weak intermolecluar
attractive forces, known as van der Waals forces, to enable them to climb
smooth and vertical surfaces, and even to stroll upside down across
ceilings. It is estimated that there are roughly 2,000 species of geckos
throughout the worldwide — and many are still to be discovered.

According to the 2008 African Development Bank and Organization of Economic
Development report for Cape Verde, its economy grew more than 10 percent in
2006, in large part from tourism investments, which increased more than
tenfold from 2004-2006 to $509 million. Since then, the government has
passed legislation to attract additional foreign investment.

The motion triggers a recorded voice that states, “This is the Los Angeles
Police Department. It is illegal to spray graffiti or dump trash here.” The
voice warns vandals that they are being recorded and will be prosecuted.

The egg was collected, along with eight others, from a nest that had been
found in the treetops during a collecting trip to Espiritu Santo in 2006.
Ivan Ineich, the museum’s herpetologist, noticed a bloody carcass that had
accidentally hacked in half by one of collectors.

Josep Coll, European Commission ambassador in Cape Verde, said legitimate
foreign investments can be undermined by money laundering: “Yes, we can
have the mirage of a booming economy, but this is false if there are
illegal investments, condemned by international law, in the mix which lead
to unfair competition.”

The camera provides a high-resolution image of the tagger and the vehicle.
It can capture an image of a license plate from 250 feet.

Economists call this the “Dutch disease” effect, when illicit businesses
generate more money and jobs than the legal economy.

“I said to myself ‘this guy looks bizarre,’ but I couldn’t tell right away
it was a new species because it had been so massacred,” Ineich said.

Proof of Missing Iceberg?

Police chief Tavares said the country’s crime lab has limited chemical
analysis capabilities and relies on analyses conducted in Portugal for
investigations. But it is more than lab improvements that are needed, said
Tavares. “It has been impossible to pin down one of the most well-known
traffickers here [Cape Verde] when we don’t have phone recording equipment
to investigate.”

Climbers later collected a plant where nine minuscule gecko eggs had been
hidden. Ineich wrapped the eggs in wet Kleenex, packed them into a pillbox
and carried them home, where he gave them to a friend who raises lizards as
a hobby. Unfortunately, eight of the geckos died after temperatures in the
terrarium plummeted during a power outage, but the ninth lived.

The number of organised, drug and money laundering cases jumped from 19 to
60 between 2007 and 2008. There may be more, said Tavares: “We don’t know
if we are addressing 10 percent or 90 percent of the problem. It may be the
tip of the iceberg, or we may be at the base.”

“We don’t have a doubt that we’ll be able to identify them once we get them
on camera,” said police Captain Sharyn Buck.

Tavares said in the last four years, the government has frozen 12 accounts
worth more than US$1 million as a part of ongoing high-level crime
investigations. He added that since 2007, the government has seized $1
million worth of land and homes, and cars worth more than $622,000.

Police also say the fires were not caused by indigenous people of the area
but by those within the settlers community.

Though legislation criminalised money laundering in Cape Verde in 2002, the
most recent amendment requires for the first time that those working in
financial transactions, including lawyers, bill collectors, auditors and
accountants, report any suspicion of money laundering.

Three cameras installed last year led to an 85-percent decline in graffiti
and those locations, according to the LAPD. The LAPD recently installed 10
more cameras. The cameras were installed after a series of violent
confrontations that involved vandals.

This is the first time a new species of lizard has been identified from an
individual raised from an egg rather than from adults collected from the
wild, according to France’s National Museum of Natural History.

In passing the amendment, Cape Verde’s Council of Ministers wrote that
money laundering in Cape Verde is “connected to a circuit of organised
crime, such as traffic of arms, people, drugs.”

This new species of gecko is not thought to be endangered.

A woman in Pico Rivera was killed last summer when she confronted taggers
near her home.

When asked to quantify trafficked contraband circulating in Cape Verde,
Justice Minister Morais pointed to the Atlantic Ocean behind the Praia
hotel where she spoke at a recent high-level ministerial conference on drug
crimes: “How big is our problem? Well, how big is the ocean?”


Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 4:21 am

White Farmers on Radio Qman Txun Swim 12 Hours For Land

Filed under: fiji,media,rampage — admin @ 4:15 am


A tourist left behind on a dive trip swam all night, covering nearly 10
kilometers through shark-infested water before reaching land in Taveuni,
Fiji Monday.

If there’s a model of hope for the world’s indigenous peoples, it is the
town of Todos Santos Cuchumatan in northwestern Guatemala. The Mayans who
live here still wear their traditional clothing with pride and practice
their traditional ceremonies and customs, and 95 percent of the population
still speaks Mam. At the same time, the people of Todos Santos also
participate vigorously in the larger society and have a thriving economy.

Some white farmers whose land was acquired by the Government for
resettlement purposes have reportedly destroyed maize fields belonging to
new farmers in Mashonaland West, claiming that the land was theirs.

Thomas Holz, 40, of Berlin, Germany, was out a scuba diving trip with three
other tourists at Rainbow Reef, near Viani Bay in Vanua Levu, according to
the local Fiji Times.

The key to this indigenous success story is Radio Qman Txun, the town’s
community radio station. The station’s programs reinforce the local
language and the culture while also bringing news from the nation and the
world into the town. The station is all the more important because the
whole country of Guatemala is flooded with Western music, information, and
cultural standards, and without Radio Qman Txun, those influences would
quickly overwhelm the town.

He surfaced after running out of oxygen and waited for the dive master to
return with the other divers. A local police spokesman said that when the
dive master resurfaced with the other tourists, they couldn’t find Holz.
They searched until nightfall, and began again early at 5 a.m. Monday.

At least two new farmers who had done dry planting had their germinating
maize crop destroyed recently. It is said that the white farmers are
refusing to vacate the land and to recognise the new farmers’ offer
letters. One new farmer Colonel Tony Kapanga said he lost over 20 hectares
of his maize crop on Wednesday after the former owner of his Chingford Farm
in Selous Mr Colin Cloete allegedly ploughed the land. He said he also lost
billions of dollars worth of fertiliser he had applied to the crop.

“The currents were strong, and my main fear was for my family in Germany.
Even though I was tired, I hung on to the oxygen cylinder and kept
swimming,” Holz told the Fiji Times. “Then early this morning, I felt the
seabed and just screamed out for help before I collapsed on the shore.”

But Radio Qman Txun, along with all the other community radio stations in
Guatemala, is at extreme risk. Elements in the government do not want these
stations to succeed. In past few weeks police have raided four radio
stations near Todos Santos and confiscated all the equipment. The country’s
constitution guarantees the right to community radio, but the
telecommunications law does not, and government forces are using the
pretext of this law to shut down the stations and cut off this vital
cultural lifeline.

Police at Selous confirmed the incident saying they had opened
investigations into the matter. When contacted for comment Mr Cloete said
he had ploughed down the maize seed because Col Kapanga was not supposed to
be on the farm. “Selous Police have recorded my statement and are charging
me with malicious damage to property but when Mr Kapanga was disturbing me
no one came to my rescue. This is my farm and the house in which the police
details are housed is my father’s house, so how do you explain this,’’ said
Mr Cloete.

A local woman heard his cries and helped him from shore. Holz has recovered
and is continuing his tourist activities on an eco tour.

This assault on Mayan culture has to stop, and right now we have a unique
chance to do it: a new telecommunications bill has been introduced in the
Guatemalan Congress, and recent elections resulted in 94 of the 158 members
of Congress being new. We have a very short window of time to reach these
new legislators before they are swamped with conflicting agendas. And the
math is all too simple: for the new bill to pass, 80 legislators must vote
for the bill. Currently, we have the support of 24; we need 56 more.

At Maunze Farm in Darwendale employees of one Mr J S Crowley allegedly
ploughed down more than six farmers’ fields which had maize seed. One of
the affected farmers Mr Roy Chinanga claimed he had nine hectares of maize
destroyed by Mr Crowley’s managers. “I used seed from last year’s reserves
but that has now been ploughed down and I do not have anywhere to turn
to,’’ said Mr Chinanga. Mr Crowley could not be reached for comment as he
was said to be living in Harare.


Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 5:16 am

Secret Sand Thieves on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Rampage as Toll in India’s northeast explosions rises to 77

Filed under: capitalism,General,rampage — admin @ 5:06 am

13 hours ago

The level of sophistication in the bombings that killed at least 76 people
in northeastern India indicate that local militants had help from other
terrorist groups to carry out the attacks, officials said Friday.

Caribbean round grains, favored in creating smooth surfaces for plastering
and finishing, are being hauled away by the truckload late at night. On
some islands not much bigger than Manhattan, towns and ecologically
sensitive areas are now exposed to tidal surges and rough seas.

For over 40 minutes, armed robbers were on the rampage on the Lagos-Ibadan
Expressway in southwest Nigeria on Thursday, snatching vehicles and other
valuables from commuters.

The scale and planning behind Thursday’s 13 coordinated blasts in Assam
state surprised authorities, who struggled to determine who was behind the
attacks — among the worst ever in a region plagued by separatism and ethnic

The Director of US National Intelligence today disclosed the 2008 budget
for the National Intelligence Program: $47.5 billion. That
figure does not include spending for the Military Intelligence Program,
which is at least another $10 billion.

The death toll in the explosions rose to 77 on Friday after more than a
dozen people died from their injuries overnight, said Subhas Das, the
state’s home commissioner. More than 300 people were wounded.

In Puerto Rico, thieves once mined the dunes in the northern coastal town
of Isabela, said Ernesto Diaz of the Department of Natural Resources. But
now they are stealing the beaches of the tiny island of Vieques _ 52 square
miles where the U.S. military only recently halted its controversial
bombing practice.

Top government officials in Ekiti State became targets of armed robbers as
three of them have lost their cars to the bandits.

Assam state Inspector General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said the
state’s largest separatist group, the United Liberation Front of Asom, was
the main target of the investigation, but he added that the sophistication
of the blasts suggested the rebel group was “assisted by a force who has
adequate expertise in such attacks.” He did not elaborate.

Among the hardest hit is Grenada, where officials are building a $1.2
million seawall to protect the 131-square-mile island. Large-scale sand
thefts have exposed north-coast towns to rough seas, said Joseph Gilbert,
the minister of works and environment.

No fewer than 10 cars have been snatched in the past two weeks in which the
victims were held hostage at gunpoint before being made to part with their

Anjan Borehaur, a spokesman for the United Liberation Front of Asom, denied
his group had any role in the blasts.

One of the region’s largest sand thefts targeted Jamaica, where nearly 100
truckloads were swiped from private property in the northwest, exposing
protected mangroves and a limestone forest to wind and waves.

Among the high-profile robbery victims are the Commissioner for Local
Government and Culture, Prince Biodun Bamiteko, Commissioner in the State
Universal Basic Education Board Iyabo Babatunde and the Permanent
Secretary, Establishment and Training Lekan Ayeleso.

The separatist group has never carried out an attack of this size and
complexity, which closely resembled bombings that have rocked other Indian
cities this year. Those attacks were blamed on well-financed and well-armed
Islamic militant groups.

Roughly 706,000 cubic feet of sand were taken in late July, enough to fill
roughly 10 Olympic-sized pools, said Jamaica Mines Commissioner Clinton
Thompson, who suspects government officials were involved.

Bamiteko and Babatunde were robbed of their Toyota Camry and Toyota Avensis
2008 model cars at gunpoint.

Federal investigators and forensic experts sifted through the rubble of the
blasts Friday for clues.

“I was surprised at the amount,” he said. “This one could not have been
stolen without persons knowing about it.”

Ayeleso’s home at Ado-Ekiti GRA was attacked by robbers who made away with
his car and other valuables.

Mahanta said that preliminary investigations indicated the militants had
used PE-3, a complex plastic explosive.

Police have refused to comment on their investigation.

Babatunde told reporters Thursday that five armed robbers broke into her
home at about 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Sunday and in the 45-minute operation,
made away with her Toyota Avensis car, money and other valuables.

On Friday, police fired rubber bullets to disperse angry mobs who took to
the streets of the state capital, Gauhati, stoning and attacking vehicles
and buildings, said C.K. Bhuyan, a local magistrate.

Illegal sand mining in the Caribbean began in the 1970s, when people with
shovels stole small amounts for construction because most homes were built
with wood. But the thefts increased as builders switched to concrete homes
and have only gotten bigger with the rise in construction of resorts and
hotels _ built, ironically, for tourists drawn by the Caribbean’s
immaculate beaches. An estimated 80 new hotels and resorts are expected to
open in the Caribbean through 2012, according to Smith Travel Research.

She said many houses in Ado-Ekiti GRA were raided with some of the
residents beaten up.

Similar incidents had taken place on Thursday.

Some islands offer local quarries or designate certain beaches for mining,
but large-scale nighttime thefts persist despite police patrols. Front
loaders and other heavy equipment are now used instead of shovels to steal
sand, which sells for nearly $200 for 1 cubic yard.

The increasing wave of robbery in Ado-Ekiti has also affected night life as
many fun-seekers now go home early so as not to fall victim of the robbers.

“If we continue to mine the beaches the way we’ve been doing, we will have
no sand to boast about. Just sea and sun,” Gilbert said.

A curfew was imposed in parts of the city on Friday, Bhuyan said, adding
that no one was injured when police fired rubber bullets.

National Chairman of the Action Congress (AC) Chief Bisi Akandeand his
wife, were among those who ran into the armed bandits at Sapade,
Isara-Remo, Ogun State around 9 a.m. (2000 GMT).

No one knows how much sand in all has been carted away, but the islands of
Tortola, Anguilla and St. Vincent are now vulnerable to flooding, said
Gillian Cambers, associate researcher at the University of Puerto Rico. Up
to two-thirds of sand dunes in Tortola and Nevis have been decimated, she

The bombs were planted in cars and rickshaws, and the largest explosion
took place near the office of Assam’s top government official, leaving
bodies and charred, mangled cars and motorcycles strewn across the road.

He had left Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, for Lagos to attend the swearing
in of local government chairmen by Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN). He
missed the ceremony.

On Grenada’s 13-square-mile Carriacou island, population 6,000, the beach
is shrinking by 3 linear feet every year from illegal sand mining, Gilbert

Bystanders dragged the wounded and dead to cars that took them to
hospitals. Police officers covered charred bodies with white sheets in the

Amid sporadic shootings, there was commotion as vehicles on the other side
of the road turned back.

In Barbuda, illegal sand miners dug a 23-foot crater that damaged a
freshwater aquifer. Saltwater seeped in, and droppings from cows and
donkeys contaminated the exposed aquifer, which is now unusable, said local
environmentalist John Mussington.

India’s northeast — an isolated region wedged between Bangladesh, Bhutan,
China and Myanmar with only a thin corridor connecting it to the rest of
India — is beset by dozens of conflicts. More than 10,000 people have died
in separatist violence over the past decade in the region.

In panic, many abandoned their vehicles and ran for cover in the nearby

Hurricane damage also has bumped up demand for sand, with residents using
concrete blocks to rebuild homes and sand to finish them, according to the
government of Antigua and Barbuda.

In October, more than 50 people were killed in violence between members of
the Bodo tribe and recent migrants to the area, most of whom are Muslims.

There was wailing on the road as the armed robbers seized car keys,
molested drivers and forced people to part with their money and other

If caught, thieves face light fines and jail time that critics say are
unequal to the crime. Grenada, for example, imposes up to $190 in fines,
less than the cost of a single load of sand.

The region is also home to dozens of separatist groups who accuse the
government of exploiting the area’s natural resources while doing little
for the indigenous people — most of whom are ethnically closer to Burma and
China than to the rest of India.

Akande, who was stuck in the hold-up, was quickly spirited away by his
security aide as the robbers advanced on his vehicle. He took cover in the
bush. The former Osun State governor said although he had witnessed
robberies in the past, he had never seen armed robbers at a closer range.

“One could go out, engage in sand mining, pay all the fines and … still
come out making a profit,” said Randolph Edmead, director of St. Kitts’
planning and environment department.

“But today we really ran into them and we saw them face-to-face. My
security assistant advised me not to wait to confront them face-to-face,”
Akande said.

Grenada legislators expect to triple that amount and extend prison terms
from three months to two years. Jamaica also plans to approve new maximum
fines of $11,000 and allow police to seize sand-mining equipment.

“I saw people wailing and running towards me when I looked up and I saw
many cars turning. But, before we could turn, many vehicles were behind
us,” he said.

Some islands have considered importing sand to replenish their beaches, but
say it is expensive and worry about shifting the problem elsewhere.

Akande said he escaped into a wet bush close to a river, with insects
swarming all over him.

Gilbert said he is “appalled” and called for more oversight to prevent loss
of the region’s treasured shores.

He also said respite came about 40 minutes later when policemen arrived
after the armed robbers had left.

“We should take action now,” he said. “Or otherwise we will lose our


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