brad brace

11/20/2012

The official Blog of John McAfee (excerpt)

Filed under: belize,culture,global islands,police — admin @ 6:10 am

Understanding the culture Part One – Timesha

Posted on November 20, 2012 by John McAfee
[ www.whoismcafee.com ]

I met Timesha 2 years ago while writing a story about the Mennonites of Belize. The Mennonites are austere and hard working, yet each Friday, many of the men allegedly went to a local bar in Orange Walk, drank, paid women for sex, and partied. I found it hard to believe, so I arranged to take photos at the bar on Friday mornings to help with my story. I showed up for five weeks straight before I finally got the photo I wanted:

While waiting for the right shot (it is difficult to get candid photos of men sneaking around and breaking rules), I met Timesha. She slowly opened up to me and over the next few months she told me her story. I asked permission to post it here, as I asked permission from everyone in every photo. Here is her story. I repeat it here because it is not an unusual story for young women in Belize. Here it is:

“Most of my hair fell out when I was 7 years old.” Timesha told me recently, sitting at a corner table in the abnormally quiet bar. “And my skin turned almost white. I was really sick. They said it was because I didn’t eat enough food. For a year, all we had to eat was boiled plantains. I got to hate them. My grandmother in Belize City started sending a box of food for us once a week on the bus and I got better.”

Timesha never really knew her father while growing up, and she and her four siblings were raised by her mother in Orange Walk Town. When she was nine, her mother’s boyfriend moved in with them and, not long before her tenth birthday, began having sex with her. She had her first child, a girl, when she was 15. The child was taken away from her by the girl’s father when the girl was 2 years old. The father, who was living with a woman in Gayle’s point in Southern Belize, seldom stayed at Gayle’s point and the child was left primarily in the care of the father’s girlfriend, who burned the child severely and repeatedly with a hot clothes iron. “She stares a lot now” said Timesha while describing her last visit with her daughter – something she is allowed by the courts to do once a month. Timesha has been trying, without success, to get her daughter back since the very day she was taken from her. As long as she keeps her current job, there will be no hope of retrieving the child.

She pulled out a tattered photo once to show me herself (left) and her daughter with the daughter’s paternal grandmother, who must be present at all Timesha’s visits with her daughter.

Timesha works as a “bar girl” in lover’s bar. She is not a prostitute. She is young and pretty and men may sit with her providing they simply buy her a beer. When the beer is finished, they must buy another or leave the table. Sometimes she dances to attract customers, either by herself of with another girl at the bar.

She dances provacatively, in the Garifuna stye – with much swinging of the hips and suggestive hand gestures and body language.

Timesha is charming and intelligent and is in high demand for conversation among the bar’s clients who can afford a beer, but not a prostitute, or who simply want the company of a pretty woman – frequently hoping that they can bed her later. A beer normally costs $1.50 for a patron who buys one for himself, and $3.00 if he buys one for a girl. Timesha is paid $1.00 for every beer that she drinks. When each beer is delivered to the table, the girl is given a chip which is cashed in at the end of the day. While a man is sitting with her, they are allowed to touch her, except for the private parts of her body, and she will place her hand in a friendly manner on the man’s leg or drape an arm across him in some fashion.

“How many beers do you drink on an average day?” I asked her.

“It depends” she replied. “On weekdays maybe 20. On weekends I can have over 50. I once drank 16 beers in half an hour. The customer liked me. I usually make an excuse, after a few beers, to leave the table and then go to the bathroom and throw them up. I put my hand down my throat”

“Do all the girls throw them up like that?” I asked.

“Most of them do” she said. “But a few just drink until they get too drunk to work”.

Timesha is adept at dispatching beers without appearing to chug them. The faster she drinks, the more money she can make.

Timesha was born and raised in a tiny house at the edge of Orange Walk Town 22 years ago. The house has belonged to her mother’s family for three generations. She seldom went to school – there was usually no money for books and other costs associated with education, and in addition, she was needed at home. Timesha is the eldest of five children – she has three younger brothers and one younger sister. They are all from different fathers. Timesha’s father left home when Timesha was three years old and never returned. He provided no support after leaving, and little support while there, and did not contact Timesha for 14 years after leaving. She confronted him when she was 17. She told him about the lack of food, clothes, electricity and the absence of even the simplest comforts in the home she lived in while he, during the same period, was drinking, partying and ploughing through a long line of women. He had come to the home, on learning that he had grandchildren, and brought a doll as a present.

“If you knew anything at all you would bring food.” She told him. “You buy that bitch you’re with a necklace and your granddaughter is hungry.”

Orange Walk is a small place, and the goings on of each citizen is well know to all of the others.

Timesha’s two daughters were born in this house. She had one miscarriage, at the age of 14. Few people in Belize go to hospitals to give birth. Most give birth at home, in front of the entire family. Children as young as two will watch. Mothers hand down the secrets of childbirth to their daughters, making midwives an unnecessary element of the society.

Violence in the home is the norm in Belize. Drug and alcohol abuse is endemic, and, when combined with widespread poverty, creates a volatile mix. Police will not respond to a domestic violence call unless a death or serious maiming has been the result. Judges will generally not mete out punishments for conflicts arising between husband and wife nor between parents and children. The general assumption of the populace is that marriage and family contain violence as an integral component.

11/9/2009

AN ELDERLY BRITISH BANGLADESHI BORDER GUARD SEIZES NEW NICARAGUAN CURRENCY DEPICTING CHINA COCAINE CLIMATE CYCLONE CHANGED COUPLE, AS SOUTHWEST CARIBBEAN SAUDI LANKAN OVERTURNED TANKER TAX CHEATS VENEZUELAN ROBBERY REFUGEES — PNG COSTA EUCALYPTUS DEGLUPTA RICAN WOMEN, BANGLADESH 'DEMON WORSHIPPER MATUTO` PAINTINGS FEAR MUHAMMAD YAMAHA MYANMAR MAY ATTACK THEIR SWINE COCOA POD BORER FORBIDDEN FLU FOOD VOUCHERS FOR FOUR MOTOR RIOT CITIES, OPIUM SEASON ISLANDS IN KENYAN LASHES SLUM TIGHT PANTS KILLING 330,000 INDIAN SNACKS, 22 PAKISTAN POUNDS, 510 KILOS OF AMAZONIAN BEACHGOERS — CALLS FOR 350 AWAKENING TROPICAL DIVALI DEPRESSIONS, READIES FLOOD-TOLERANT CORRUPTION AND OUTBOARD TORTURE IMMIGRATION SONGS

Bangladesh, which is currently engaged in a dispute with Myanmar over
border fencing, fears that Yangon may attack its St. Martin’s Island in the
Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), which guards the land border, has
identified the St Martin’s Island as the “probable main target” of Myanmar
and has asked the government to immediately strengthen its defence by
constructing aircraft landing zones and concrete bunkers. This is contained
in a “strategic proposal” that came in the wake of constant military
build-up and intimidation by Myanmar. The St Martin’s Island, the only
coral island of the country and the main attraction for local and foreign
tourists for its panoramic beauty and pristine marine life, is under the
jurisdiction of the Bangladesh Coastguards. The island, which is located in
a mineral rich region in the Bay of Bengal, is 8 km west of Myanmar coast.
The BDR has submitted its proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the
Prime Minister’s Office, the navy and air force headquarters and the
director general of Coastguards. It has also urged the government to
increase defence capability of land and sea borders to “repulse any
possible aggression by the neighbouring country”.

China has started the relocation of 330,000 residents to make way for a
canal bringing water from the south to the north of the country, in China’s
second-largest resettlement scheme. Families from Henan and Hubei provinces
are being moved to make way for a canal which will run from the Yangtze
River to Beijing. They are being moved to newly-built villages and will
receive an annual subsidy of around 88 US dollars. The scheme is part of an
expansion of the Danjiangkou reservoir. The government says it hopes to
have water flowing from the Yangtze and its tributaries to the arid north
part of the country by 2014. Around 1.3 million people have already been
relocated to make way for the Three Gorges Dam, which was completed last
year.

A high-profile coalition of artists — including the members of Pearl Jam,
R.E.M. and the Roots — demanded that the government release the names of
all the songs that were blasted since 2002 at prisoners for hours, even
days, on end, to try to coerce cooperation or as a method of punishment.
Dozens of musicians endorsed a Freedom of Information Act request filed by
the National Security Archive, a Washington-based independent research
institute, seeking the declassification of all records related to the use
of music in interrogation practices. The artists also launched a formal
protest of the use of music in conjunction with torture. “I think every
musician should be involved,” said Rosanne Cash. “It seems so obvious.
Music should never be used as torture.” The singer-songwriter (and daughter
of Johnny Cash) said she reacted with “absolute disgust” when she heard of
the practice. “It’s beyond the pale. It’s hard to even think about.” Other
musicians, including Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Tom Morello,
formerly of the band Rage Against the Machine, also expressed outrage. “The
fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens
me,” Morello said in a statement. “We need to end torture and close
Guantanamo now.”

Approximately 57 small islands scattered around southern Trenggalek
regency, East Java, are still unnamed. Their natural potentials have not
been identified as well. The islands are scattered, starting from Panggul
water to Prigi, Watulimo sub district. The small islands could yet be used
maximally. The procedure of island identification and the mapping of
natural potentials of the 57 islands are also very complicated. Permission
from the Local Affairs Department and recommendations from the provincial
government is required. Also, because island naming is overseen by the
international law, PBB must also approve it. Another challenge in the
identification of the islands is the different perceptions between
Trenggalek local government and Tulungagung regional government on some of
the islands located in the borderline between the two regions. The
anonymous islands have a considerable amount of swallow nests. Due to the
absence of budget to optimize the resources, the swallow nests are
reportedly often stolen.

Many “matuto” paintings, as a kind of scratches from the pre-historic rock
arts, were found in a number of villages which belong to Kaimana District,
Provinice of Papua Barat. Matuto is a shape of a half-man lizard and
believed as the ancestor of heroes. A lot of matuto paintings were found at
niche surfaces made as canvas for the artists of the pre-historic time in
several archaeological sites. Matuto motif belongs to an anthropomorphic
group with religious meaning representing the people`s ancestors living in
Kaimana in the pre-historic time. Besides matuto, the anthropomorphic group
also includes a palm-print motif which means a protective power to prevent
from evil things, and a human motif. Matuto paintings were found in the
sites of Omborecena, Memnemba, Memnemnambe and Tumberawasi located in
Maimai village. Whereas in Namatota village, matuto paintings were also
found in the sites of Werfora I, Werfora II, Werfora III and Werfora IV.
The other pre-historic paintings which were scratched at the niche surfaces
are in the motifs of lizard, fish, tortoise, crocodile, cuscus, snake, bird
and sea horse which belong to the fauna group. In the geometrical motif,
there are the pictures of sun, direction mark, rectangular and circle. The
pictures of man`s cultural objects include those on the shapes of boat,
boomerang, spear, rock axe, sago hammer and mask. Pre-historic men
scratched paintings on niche surfaces with natural color substance and
their works were called rock arts which served as media to express ideas or
thoughts concerning certain events. These archaeological relics are sort of
civilization from the ancestor`s community in Papua, and have enriched the
national culture.

A new World Food Programme (WFP) pilot project plans to use text messages
on mobile phones to distribute food vouchers to Iraqi refugees in Syria.
The United Nations announced the scheme this week and said it will target
1,000 Iraqi refugee families living in Damascus. Families will be provided
with a special SIM card to receive a 22 US dollar voucher every two months,
which can be exchanged for rice, wheat flour, lentils, chickpeas, oil,
canned fish, cheese and eggs at selected shops. The WFP explained that all
the 130,000 Iraqi refugees currently receiving food aid in Syria already
have mobile phones. The project will initially run for four months, but
might be extended depending on its success.

Members of the protective services routinely muzzle sweep each other, along
with civilians. One IATF officer shot himself in the toe while on patrol in
a densely populated area of the capital city. These armed persons are a
potential menace. Another member of the public was ‘accidentally’ shot by a
cop while holding his five-year-old daughter on the roadside, while waiting
to cross the street. This occurred at a busy intersection, at Charlotte and
Duke Streets, in Port of Spain. Criminals arriving by, and leaving in small
fishing boats, have been targeting sea-bathers at Chagville Beach in
Chaguaramas. What makes this particularly frustrating is that this beach is
across the street from the TT Defense Force Headquarters. The TTDF has a
proud history of serving this nation, so it’s ironic that these violent
crimes occur within line-of-sight of their HQ. One may argue that the
classical role of a defence force is not law enforcement. True; but if that
is the case in our country, then why do we have police/army “joint
patrols”? Surely TTDF Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Edmund Dillon is
taking this as a personal assault on the reputation of the TTDF. After all,
one of it’s stated responsibilities is, “cooperate with and assist the
civil power in maintaining law and order.” Additionally, every Chief of
Defence Staff has included these words (in one form or another) in their
speeches: “The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force is fully prepared to
defend the sovereign good of our nation from all enemies, foreign or
domestic.” How about starting with enemies across the street? The primary
agency charged with the responsibility of policing the Western peninsula is
the Chaguaramas Development Authority Police. Inspector Abdul Singh, the
highest ranking officer of the CDA police, has many challenges, including
acute shortages of personnel, arms, ammunition and vehicles.

In Ecuador, the Shuar are blocking highways to defend their hunting
grounds. In Chile, the Mapuche are occupying ranches to pressure for land,
schools and clinics. In Bolivia, a new constitution gives the country’s 36
indigenous peoples the right to self-rule. All over Latin America, and
especially in the Andes, a political awakening is emboldening Indians who
have lived mostly as second-class citizens since the Spanish conquest. Much
of it is the result of better education and communication, especially as
the Internet allows native leaders in far-flung villages to share ideas and
strategies across international boundaries. But much is born of necessity:
Latin American nations are embarking on an unprecedented resource hunt,
moving in on land that Indians consider their own — and whose pristine
character is key to their survival. “The Indian movement has arisen because
the government doesn’t respect our territories, our resources, our Amazon,”
says Romulo Acachu, president of the Shuar people, flanked by warriors
carrying wooden spears and with black warpaint smeared on their faces. A
month ago, the Shuar put up barbed-wire roadblocks on highway bridges in
Ecuador’s southeastern jungles to protest legislation that would allow
mines on Indian lands without their prior consent, and put water under
state control. An Indian schoolteacher was killed in a battle with riot
police. “If there are 1,000 dead they will be good deaths,” says another
Shuar leader, Rafael Pandam. The Shuar won, at least this round. A week
after the killing, President Rafael Correa received about 100 Indian
leaders at the presidential palace and agreed to reconsider the laws.
Correa had earlier called the Indians “infantile” for their insistence on
being consulted over mining concessions. But he didn’t need to be reminded
that natives — a third of the population — have become an indispensible
constituent and helped topple an Ecuadorean government in 2000.

Mouth-watering Indian snacks like the spicy chaat, masala dosas and chicken
rolls are increasingly becoming popular in Bangladesh where the taste for
western fast food has been holding sway till now. A number of trendy
restaurants in metropolis Dhaka and other cities are now introducing the
snacks in their menu in a bid to attract not only the local food buffs but
international visitors as well. “No longer satisfied with hamburgers, hot
dogs and fries, Bangladeshi eating out habits, never to be left behind, has
also caught on to the trend. Indian items are fast replacing the European
menu as the favoured grab-and-go food of choice, not just because of the
taste but its healthier make-up, and has spread around the world. Popular
restaurants like ‘Dhaba’ are now selling chaat items like bhel puri and the
golgappa. It also has dahi papri, papri chaat, aloo chaat and aloo tikki.
These mouth-watering treats are all served up to you with a smile.

The Weather Office has warned the country to prepare for the cyclone season
in coming months. In a media advisory, the office said the tropical cyclone
season is between November and April. However, the month of January has
been predicted as the peak month for cyclone to hit. Cyclone can also occur
during other months before November and after April however, with lower
risks. On average, one or two cyclone forms in Solomon Islands each year.
Although, El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a significant contributor
to the year to year variability in tropical cyclone activity in the South
Pacific Ocean, it does not have great influence on the cyclone frequency
occurring here. With the typical El Nino conditions continue to persist in
the Tropical Pacific the outlook for Tropical Cyclone activity in the
Solomon Islands during November 2009 to April 2010 is likely to be average
due to the weak El Nino condition. In light of a likely cyclone occurrence,
local communities have been reminded to remain alert and prepared for any
cyclone hit during this season.

Bangladesh is set to officially release three flood-tolerant rice varieties
that would help farmers prevent up to a million tonnes of annual crop loss
caused by flash floods. These rice varieties with submergence-tolerant
gene, known as Sub1, can withstand two weeks of complete submergence. The
Seed Certification Agency has been asked to release the three
submergence-tolerant varieties, Swarna-Sub1, BR-11-Sub1, and
BR-11-Recombinant-Sub1. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports the
project. The flood-tolerant versions of the high-yielding varieties (HYVs),
popular with farmers and consumers, that are grown over huge areas across
Bangladesh are effectively identical to their susceptible counterparts but
those recover after severe flooding to yield well. The Sub1 varieties
withstood submergence quite well during this year’s flash floods in
Jamalpur’s Dewanganj, Kurigram’s Kachir Char, Mymensingh’s Dhobaura and
Sylhet’s Golapganj. The Sub1 varieties have been tested in six BRRI fields
and nine farmers’ fields over the last couple of years and all results show
positive signs.

Trinidad and Tobago joined millions of Hindus around the world to celebrate
Divali, also known as Diwali, Deepavali or Dipavali. Thousands of Hindus
and non-Hindus lined their homes and streets with deyas, a clay vessel
holding coconut oil and a wick. The illuminated streets, a reminder of why
Divali is called the festival of lights, are reminiscent of good triumphing
over evil. The deya is also meant to raise awareness in the believer of his
or her own inner light. The streets of many parts of Trinidad and Tobago
where Hindus make up the majority were beautifully lit. Curved bamboo
strips, walls and fences were used as stands for the deyas. A growing trend
in Trinidad and Tobago is also to see non-Hindus lighting deyas and placing
them on their walls and banisters. Roti shops, caterers and other places
selling Indo-Caribbean food also report a sharp incline in sales around
this time, as enthusiasm about local Indian food spurts, primarily among
persons without home access to the popular dishes. On these islands where
many celebrate everything, every last trimester the local celebratory
spirit ascends. The muslim celebration Eid-ul-Fitr, the Hindu festival
Divali, and the Christian season of Christmas often ensue in rapid
succession. Many who put up lights for Divali will leave up their electric
lights until the end of Christmas and the start of Carnival. In some
regards, it could be argued that the cultural calendar of Trinidad and
Tobago begins with either Eid or Divali – whichever comes first – because
thereafter one season flows into the next. As a result, ethnic groups in
Trinidad and Tobago demonstrate high levels of religious tolerance,
cultural cohabitation and racial harmony. The world should take note.

The recent conflict in the Pakistani region of South Waziristan has already
displaced at least 160,000 people and could rise to 260,000 in the next few
weeks. Local aid workers have registered 160,000 people in six IDP camps
around Dera Ismail Khan, a town on the southern fringe of the tribal area.
They expect a further 100,000 people to arrive in the next few weeks. The
total would amount to just over half of the area’s 500,000 population.
Fighting in South Waziristan has escalated since the government launched a
renewed military offensive against the Taliban. The move follows attacks by
Taliban militants across Pakistan that left at least 175 dead, including a
suicide bomb that exploded at Islamabad University, killing four people.

The musicians’ announcement was coordinated with the recent call by
veterans and retired Army generals to shut Guantanamo. It is part of a
renewed effort to pressure President Obama to keep his promise to close the
prison in Cuba in his first year in office. A White House spokesman said
music is no longer used as an instrument of torture, part of a shift in
policy on interrogations that Obama made on his second full day in office.
The president also formed an interagency group, called High-Value Detainee
Interrogation Group, to examine the techniques used during questioning, but
a White House spokesman said that the new group has yet to be fully
constituted. “The president banned the use of ‘enhanced interrogation
techniques,’ and issued an executive order that established that
interrogations must be consistent with the techniques in the Army Field
Manual and the Geneva Conventions,” a White House official said. “Sound at
a certain level creates sensory overload and breaks down subjectivity and
can bring about a regression to infantile behavior. Its effectiveness
depends on the constancy of the sound, not the qualities of the music.
Played at a certain volume, it simply prevents people from thinking.

The CIA Playlist includes:

AC/DC Aerosmith Barney theme song (By Bob Singleton) The Bee Gees Britney
Spears Bruce Springsteen Christina Aguilera David Gray Deicide Don McClean
Dope Dr. Dre Drowning Pool Eminem Hed P.E. James Taylor Limp Bizkit Marilyn
Manson Matchbox Twenty Meatloaf Meow mix jingle Metallica Neil Diamond Nine
Inch Nails Pink Prince Queen Rage against the Machine Red Hot Chili Peppers
Redman Saliva Sesame street theme music (By Christopher Cerf) Stanley
Brothers The Star Spangled Banner Tupac Shakur

Pins Depicting Muhammad Picture Circulating: The pins also incribe an
Arabian writing that reads ‘Prophet Muhammad SAW’. After receiving report
on the circulation of the pins, East Makassar police immediately arrest the
pin owners. According to East Makassar Police Head, his team has caught two
owners of the Prophet pin. “They are Bahanda, the resident of Samata sub
district, Gowa regency, and Anto, the resident of Tonro, Makassar.” From
Bahanda’s house, the police confiscated 5 pins and stickers with the
drawing of Prophet Muhammad printed on. The police also seized a laptop.
“Currently, the focus of the investigation is the ownership of the pins
which have been circulating in Makassar during the past two days. The two
suspects are still undergoing inquisitions at the police headquarters. “For
now, no charges have been laid, including the accusation of religion
outrage.”

The figures by the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE) reveals that more
Nicaraguan men are more likely to marry Costa Rican women than Nicaraguan
women to marry Costa Rican men when the arrive in Costa Rica, with a total
of 12.515 Nicaraguan men marrying “ticas”, while only 934 Nicaraguan women
married “ticos” between 1950 and 2009. Nicaraguan men arrive in Costa Rica
single and without commitment, while the women leave behind children and a
significant other which to stay faithful to. Perhaps the reason is that
more Nicaraguan men come to Costa Rican than Nicaraguan women, explaining
the difference in the numbers. The man is looking to settle here, is more
irresponsible and not attached to theri children back in Nicaragua. The
woman are transitory, leaving children and partner behind with an eye to
returning. They marry for increased sexual potency, protection from
immigration and to have a Costa Rican child. One man said Costa Rican women
are pretty, while other say they don’t like Costa Rican woman because they
are “too liberal”, “like to go out a lot” and “are bossy”.

For the second year in a row, world grain production rose, with farmers
producing some 2.3 billion tons. The record harvest was up more than 7
percent and caps a decade in which only half the years registered gains.
Today, only 150 crops are cultivated, a sharp drop from the 10,000 used
over time, and three grains–maize, rice, and wheat–combined with potatoes
provide more than 50 percent of human energy needs.

At least two people died and 100 people were injured when Bangladesh police
fired rubber bullets at thousands of garment factory workers rioting over
unpaid wages. The two people were killed after around 15,000 workers began
hurling stones and rocks, prompting officers to retaliate, in the worst
industrial violence to shake Bangladesh as it struggles to cope with the
fallout from the global recession. The protesters, who worked for
Bangladeshi-owned Nippon Garments, were demanding three months’ back pay
from owners who had shut down the factory, blaming a lack of orders. The
law-enforcers had to fire rubber bullets from shotguns to disperse the
workers who hurled stones and bricks at the cops; two people had died. At
least 100 workers and a number of cops were hurt in the clashes in the
Tongi Industrial Area, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Dhaka. Nine of the
injured were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital « with wounds
caused by live ammunition and some are in serious condition. The cops said
they used only rubber bullets to quell the unrest. The angry workers became
unruly and violent this morning. They threw up barricades on the roads and
suddenly attacked police. The workers also damaged vehicles, torching some,
and blockaded road links between Bangladesh’s northern districts and Dhaka.
The clashes were the most severe since the global downturn began to affect
Bangladeshi apparel factories, which accounted for 80 percent of the
country’s 15.56 billion dollars worth of exports in the last financial
year. Some 50,000 workers protesting wage cuts and unpaid salaries clashed
with police, leaving scores injured. The global slowdown had forced many
factories in the country to lay off workers or shut down. Western retailers
who are our top buyers have cut orders and squeezed prices. The big
factories have somehow coped, but most of the small- and medium-sized
factories are facing very tough times. Overseas shipments fell by three
percent. Unions said factories have cut wages to compete for orders with
other apparel-producers, such as Vietnam, China and India.The owners of
Nippon Garments were due to pay the wages and had asked employees to
collect their money. But they shut down the factory in the night and sent
police to guard the factory. The workers became angry when they saw the
owners had left without paying the salaries. Forty percent of Bangladesh’s
industrial workforce is employed in the garment sector.

Indians make up one in 10 of Latin America’s half-billion inhabitants. In
some parts of the Andes and Guatemala, they are far more numerous. Yet they
remain much poorer and less educated than the general population. About 80
percent live on less than $2 a day — a poverty rate double that of the
general population — while some 40 percent lack access to health care. The
threats to Indian land have grown in recent years. With shrinking global
oil reserves and growing demands for minerals and timber, oil and mining
concerns are joining loggers in encroaching on traditional Indian lands.
Indians have been progressively losing control and ownership of natural
resources on their lands. The situation isn’t very encouraging. Hence the
revolt rippling up and down the Andes. In Peru, south of the Shuar’s lands,
the government has divided more than 70 percent of the Amazon into oil
exploration blocks and has begun selling concessions. Fearing contamination
of their hunting and fishing grounds, Indians last year began mounting
sporadic road and river blockades. Riot police opened fire on Indians at a
road blockade outside the town of Bagua, where jungle meets Andean
foothills. At least 33 people were killed, most of them police. The Indians
were unapologetic for resisting. “Almost everything we have comes from the
jungle,” says one of the protesters, a wiry elementary school teacher from
the Awajun tribe named Gabriel Apikai. “The leaves, and wood and vines with
which we build our homes. The water from the streams. The animals we eat.
That is why we are so worried.” Farther south along the world’s longest
mountain chain, Chilean police are protecting 34 ranches and logging
compounds that Mapuche Indians have targeted for occupations or sabotage.
The Mapuche, who dominated Chile before the Spanish conquest, now account
for less than 10 percent of its people and hold some 5 percent of its land
— among the least fertile. Mapuche activists agitating for title to more
lands and greater access to education and health care stepped up civil
disobedience this year. Riot police mounting an eviction killed one
Mapuche, and eight were injured. “If the government and the political class
doesn’t listen to our demands the situation will get a lot more difficult,”
Mapuche leader Jose Santos Millao said. He rejects as a “smoke screen”
President’s creation of an Indian Affairs Ministry.

The crime upsurge cannot be ignored despite the absolutely gracious
approach of the British couple who sent a letter of assurance to the
Minister of Tourism and to the THA about their undying love and affection
for the island and its people even after the vicious attack they suffered.
The killing and burying of a German, whose body was found in a shallow
grave, is the latest setback. Bringing the number of murders on the island
to 11, this latest incident also flies in the face of the attempts by the
police to demonstrate that they have the situation well under control.
After every such major crime, the police pledge to take stronger measures,
to increase patrols and to maintain a more visible presence in what they
themselves identify as vulnerable areas. The discovery of the body of the
German at what was his home in Bacolet Crescent does indeed present a new
feature to the murder picture in Tobago. It suggests that criminals are
employing even more grisly methods of perpetrating these offences, further
fouling the environment in which all concerned must respond. Sensing that
he was indeed in some danger, with death threats having been issued to him,
the man was reportedly in the process of making arrangements to leave
Tobago for good. That he was a German-the nationality that has had such a
long and deeply ingrained association with Tobago-is bound to send further
shock waves through that community many of whom have shared their hitherto
wonderful experiences with others who have been making regular trips to
Tobago. Much work is going to be needed to continue the repair job on the
island’s image occasioned by this and the other serious offences. But the
multiplier effect of another gruesome incident such as this on the island’s
profile cannot be underestimated, no matter what the manner of the media
coverage may be, no matter what means may be employed to colour the
presentation.

Try telling Brother Jerry Smith that the recession in America has ended. As
scores of people queued up at the soup kitchen which the Capuchin friar
helps run in Detroit, the celebrations on Wall Street in New York seemed
from another world. The hungry and needy come from miles around to get a
free healthy meal. Though the East Detroit neighbourhood the soup kitchen
serves has had it tough for decades, the recession has seen almost any hope
for anyone getting a job evaporate. Neither is there any sign that jobs
might come back soon. Some in the past have had jobs here, but now there is
nothing available to people. Nothing at all. The hungry, the homeless and
the poor crowded around tables. Many were by themselves, but some were
families with young children. None had jobs. Indeed, the soup kitchen
itself is now starting to dip into its savings to cope with a drying up of
desperately needed donations. This is an area where times are so tough that
the soup kitchen is a major employer for the neighbourhood, keeping its own
staff out of poverty. Officially, America is on the up. The economy grew by
3.5% in the past quarter. On Wall Street, stocks are rising again. The
banks – rescued wholesale by taxpayers’ money last year – are posting
billions of dollars of profits. Thousands of bankers and financiers are
wetting their lips at the prospect of enormous bonuses, often matching or
exceeding those of pre-crash times. The financial sector is lobbying
successfully to fight government attempts to regulate it. The wealthy are
beginning to snap up property again, pushing prices up. In New York’s
fashionable West Village a senior banker recently splurged $10m on a single
apartment, sending shivers of delight through the city’s property brokers.
But for tens of millions of Americans such things seem irrelevant. Across
the country lay-offs are continuing. Indeed, jobless rates are expected to
rise. Unemployment in America stands at 9.8%. But that headline figure,
massaged by bureaucrats, does not include many categories of the jobless.
Another, broader official measure, which includes those such as the
long-term jobless who have given up job-seeking and workers who can only
find piecemeal part-time work, tells another story. That figure stands at
17%.

Darshona Sub1 at Darshona remained unharmed despite being completely
submerged for nine to 16 days this year. 65 percent of farmers cultivate
BR-11 during aman season, which is susceptible to flash floods or rainwater
over 10 days. So the Sub1 varieties now hold the potential to become a good
replacement for BR-11. There are four different Sub1 varieties, IR-64-
Sub1, Samba Mahsuri-Sub1, BR-11-Sub1, and Swarna-Sub1, at the Darshona
trial site. Of these four, the former two are relatively shorter-duration
rice while the later two takes a long time to harvest. The new varieties
were made possible following the identification of a single gene that is
responsible for most of the submergence tolerance. The gene is found in a
low-yielding traditional Indian rice variety known to withstand floods. The
potential for impact is huge. In Bangladesh, for example, 20 percent of the
rice land is flood prone and the country typically suffers several major
floods each year. Submergence-tolerant varieties could make major inroads
into Bangladesh’s annual rice shortfall and substantially reduce its import
needs. As water inundates rice fields, Sub1 gene helps rice plants remain
‘metabolically inert’ for up to two weeks; thereby, keeping the plants
unaffected. But if the water remain stagnant for a longer duration, it will
not be possible for the crop to withstand.” Farmers would be benefited if
the submergence tolerant rice varieties are released soon. The Philippines
released its first submergence-tolerant rice variety, Submarino 1,
recently.

They form the single biggest mass of refugees today, and they face an
uncertain fate as a factor in a geopolitical game involving two Asian
giants and allied players. For the about 400,000 fugitives from tiny Sri
Lanka’s Tamil-speaking areas of less than 18,000 square kilometers
together, the outlook has only become more unsettling. The tide of Tamil
refugees from the island-state’s northern and eastern provinces represents
a twin issue. About 100,000 of them are inmates of rather inhospitable
refugee camps in India’s southern State of Tamilnadu. They have been
languishing there for varying lengths of time, with the influx starting way
back in 1984. The population in the camps includes a generation of Sri
Lankan Tamils who have known no home but India but are not made to feel
quite at home in the country. The rest – as many as 300,000 – have been
held in camps behind barbed wires as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in
the war-ravaged parts of Sri Lanka since Colombo declared total victory
over Tamil rebels seeking a separate state. The inmates have been told to
be prepared to stay put for a period of one to three years. The population
of these camps consists of divided families, with mothers looking for
separated children and women for lost husbands. The plight of these
uprooted people of both categories poses a humanitarian problem of huge
proportions. That, however, would not appear to be how it is viewed in
quarters which matter in India and could make a difference in the
increasing distress of the displaced. New Delhi is under pressure to look
upon the tragedy, if not as a trump card, at least as a useful lever in the
Indian Ocean region where its influence is seen to be under threat from
China with Pakistan in tow. The debate rages in the media over the role
India should play in this perspective, even as the refugees await an
aggravation of their conditions in the camps. The north-eastern monsoon,
which brings most of the rains for this region for about three months until
December, is round the corner. The wet season threatens to prove a time of
terrible woes, particularly for the IDPs in their tarpaulin tents in
overcrowded camps. Unless people are moved from these areas, … an
inundation of water … will make it impossible to live…. The latrines
will overflow, water supplies will be unusable and access by wheeled
vehicles impossible. It will be pretty unbearable. More intolerable to some
security analysts will be India’s failure to use this fresh opportunity to
counter the influence of China and allies allowed to grow in its own
backyard over the past two decades. India has had its share of refugee
problems, but the spillover from Sri Lanka’s civil war falls into a special
category. The most politicized of the problems has been Bangladeshi
immigrants, estimated at 10 million (against the country’s population of
about 1.15 billion). India’s far right has always called them
“infiltrators” and sought to fuel pseudo-religious hatred against them as
Islamist fifth columnists. But this has remained an internal political
issue, with rather poor returns for its inventors.

The Seventh Summit of the ALBA, the Venezuela-led trade and economic bloc,
ended with a decision to implement a single currency for transactions among
member states. The leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St Vincent
and the Grenadines were among those who approved the Single Regional
Payment Compensation System (SUCRE). A multidisciplinary team from the ALBA
nations will begin technical operations for its implementation. However, it
is not yet clear how the introduction of the SUCRE will impact the
governments in St John’s, Roseau and Kingstown, since all three are members
of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union that uses the EC dollar as its
common currency. The meeting also signed a special resolution condemning
the Honduras coup. The text demands the immediate reinstatement of Jose
Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a military coup. Zelaya sneaked back into
the Central American country and has been holding negotiations with the
newly-installed government on the way forward. Antigua and Barbuda,
Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines are the only Caribbean Community
countries that are also members the bloc that was formed in 2004 as an
alternative proposal to the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Actions and events are planned in every Pacific Island nation for the 350
International Day of Climate Action. In the last 24 hours, events from the
Federated States of Micronesia and Kiribati have been registered with
www.350.org, completing the entire list of Pacific countries. Pacific
communities, many of whom are already affected by climate change, are
uniting to create actions that will raise awareness of impacts in the
Pacific. Each country’s call for action on climate change will be broadcast
through a global network, including on a huge screen in Times Square, New
York. In Kiribati, the 350 action involves over 2000 students and the
President, Anote Tong, in a beach clean up. In FSM, 350 coconut trees are
being planted after a celebration of the use of coconuts in traditional
society. Inhabitants of Cartaret Island will be some of the first people in
the world to be displaced by climate change. The 350 action will be located
at their proposed relocation site to highlight the massive implications of
climate change on their future. Cartaret Islanders will be transported by
boat in a flotilla to the relocation site where church gongs will ring 350
times and 350 mangrove seedlings will be planted. There will also be live
contemporary and traditional song and dance performances. Many of the
Pacific events involve peoples aggregating in traditional dress, and
performances of traditional song and dance. In Fiji, the Econesians are
staging a giant procession in Suva with song, dance, poetry and
entertainment. The Pacific Council of Churches is organising lalis
(traditional wooden gongs) 350 times to show their support for a safe
climate future. In the Solomon Islands a public march will culminate with
traditional Kastom dance and music in the ‘Cultural Village’. Traditional
song and dance will also be a major part of events in Papua New Guinea.

Ten men who belonged to the same soccer team were slain execution-style
after being abducted in a crime that could be the work of warring factions
in neighboring Colombia. Venezuelan troops stepped up security patrols in
the area near the Colombian border after the bodies of 10 men, most of them
Colombians, were found in multiple spots in western Tachira state. The
victims were among a group of 12 men who were kidnapped from a field where
they were playing soccer. The victims’ relatives reported the abduction of
10 Colombians, a Peruvian and a Venezuelan. The kidnappers, described as
armed men dressed in black, were thought to have called out the names of
the team’s members one by one before taking them away in vehicles. The
killings occurred near a porous border where Colombian rebels, paramilitary
fighters and drug smugglers are often able to move about with ease.
Venezuelan officials also have struggled in recent years with frequent
kidnappings and murders blamed on common criminals in various parts of the
country. The motive behind the latest slayings remains unclear. The single
known survivor, 19-year-old Manuel Cortez of Colombia, was shot in the
neck, said Orlando Lopez, one of his brothers. Lopez said that his brother
didn’t know his abductors. “They had them tied up for 14 days in the sun,”
Lopez said. “They tied them up to some trees, with chains on their necks
and with their hands locked up.” Lopez said his brother recalled the men
saying the hostages “didn’t have anything to do with it but that they were
going to kill them because they had seen their faces.” As for Cortez, “they
put him on his knees and they shot him,” Lopez said by phone from the
military hospital in Caracas where his brother was moved after being afraid
for his safety at a hospital in San Cristobal in the border region. A
stranger arrived at the first hospital asking to see Cortez and was
detained by authorities, Lopez said. “We don’t know what group” was behind
the killings, Lopez said. A list of names released by Venezuelan
authorities showed the victims ranged in age from 17 to 38, and several
were from the Colombian town of Bucaramanga, about 90 kilometers (55 miles)
from the border. Investigators suspect the bloodshed may be tied to a
confrontation between irregular groups as part of the Colombian conflict.
Venezuelan troops in the area had been ordered to “act forcefully” against
any armed Colombian group. Colombian officials in the past have accused
Venezuela of allowing leftist rebels to take refuge across the border.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe condemned the killings and said they “show
that terrorism is international, that it has no borders.” He offered help
in the investigation and expressed confidence Venezuelan authorities will
act promptly to “take those terrorists to jail.” Relations have been tense
recently between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Uribe’s U.S.-allied
government. Colombian officials have been critical of Venezuela’s efforts
to police its territory and reduce the flow of Colombian cocaine. Venezuela
charges Colombia and the U.S. are trying to use the drug issue to unfairly
discredit Chavez’s government.

A demon worshipper killed four members of his family before killing himself
on remote Misima Island in Papua New Guinea’s Milne Bay province. Milne Bay
police described the gruesome murder-suicide on October 10 as a massacre on
Misima, an island 200km east of mainland PNG. The killer was said to be a
demon worshipper who believed in a black Jesus and worshipped on
mountaintops before dawn. Rodney Sinod, from Eaus village on the south
coast of Misima Island, had on numerous occasions told his family that he
was going to kill them so the world would be free. Police reports indicated
that on the fateful morning, after his usual worship on a mountain, Sinod
returned to the family home and, without warning, attacked his father with
an axe. The victim, who was feeding chickens outside, died instantly. Sinod
then ran past his shocked mother into the house where his niece and nephew,
aged two and five years, were playing and killed them with the axe, before
mowing down his sister-in-law. Sinod later turned on his 17-year-old niece,
who had just finished grade 10 at Misima High School a day earlier and had
come home to spend the holidays with her family. Sinod chopped off part of
the teenagers lower left hand with the axe and struck her on the head. The
girl survived the attack and is recovering from her wounds at the Misima
district hospital. Sinod then ran to a mountain where he stabbed himself in
the chest with a knife.At least six villages were engaged in such
activities and reported that even a police officer had established a church
on the island with similar beliefs. Bizarre cults spring up frequently in
PNG. Police in Morobe province were hunting a cult leader who was coercing
followers to take part in public sex with promises of a bumper banana
harvest.

The Government Accountability Office likes to point its finger at
Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands for sheltering tax cheats. But according
to the U.K.-based Tax Justice Network, the United States is the biggest tax
shelter of ’em all, thanks to the great state of Delaware. Delaware, says
the Tax Justice Network, is “the most secretive financial jurisdiction in
the world.” That’s based on an analysis of 60 financial jurisdictions
according to level of secrecy and cooperation with foreign tax authorities.
Luxembourg comes in second, followed by the Switzerland, the Cayman
Islands, and the United Kingdom. Here are some fun facts about Delaware: *
According to the Delaware Secretary of State’s office their operating
budget was $12 million in 2007 and they made $24 million in the fees for
expedited incorporation filings alone. * There are currently some 695,000
active entities registered in Delaware, including 50 percent of the
corporations publically traded on the U.S. stock exchange. * New business
formations in Delaware are currently running at about 130,000 per annum. *
The growth of private individual deposits by non-residents was most robust
in the United States outranking other popular financial jurisdictions such
as the Cayman Islands, United Kingdom, and Luxembourg with total
non-resident deposits equalling $2.6 trillion in 2007. Nicole Tichon of
U.S. PIRG, probably the foremost homegrown tax-haven basher, said the
United States needs to get its tax act together. “If the U.S. wants to be
taken seriously by the international community and try to get their
cooperation, then we’ve got to crack down on what’s going on here at home.
We can’t have it both ways,” said Tichon. “Bank secrecy breeds the same
problems, the same criminal behavior, and puts up the same roadblocks to
law enforcement regardless of where it occurs. As long as the U.S.
government looks the other way, it diminishes our credibility on this
issue.” The Obama administration talked a good game at first about clamping
down on U.S. corporations that abuse tax shelters, but the administration
has since waffled.

Streaks of brilliant colors — red, purple, yellow, blue, green — are
splashed across the trunk of this eucalyptus, which also goes by the name
of rainbow eucalyptus. The Mindanao gum is one of the few non-Australian
eucalypti. It is native to tropical rainforests in the Philippines,
Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and named for the Philippine island of
Mindanao. As such it likes regular water and cannot take drought. That and
the usual eucalyptus ills make it unlikely for it to be planted much
anymore, but its colorful decorations make it a prized specimen where it
does occur. Gum The tree is grown in tropical areas for pulpwood production
for paper and harvested at an early age. Sometimes it is allowed to develop
for construction lumber, but the wood is only moderately strong and not
durable. The Mindanao gum is a fast-growing, rather open, erect evergreen
tree that may reach a height of 75 to 200 feet and a width of 30 to 75
feet. The smooth bark peels off to display the bright colors underneath.
The oval, 6-inch-by-3-inch leaves are bright green. They contain only a
little aromatic oil. The tree may bloom when it is 2 years old. Flowers are
clustered together and not very conspicuous. When in bud the white to pale
yellow stamens that give blooming flowers a fluffy look are hidden in a
covered cap, known as an operculum. The stamens push this cap off at
flowering. The genus name, based on the Greek eu kalyptos, or well-covered,
refers to this hidden quality. Woody cone-shaped capsules appear after
flowering. The Mindanao gum will take a wide variety of soils, but likes
full sun. It is frost hardy down to 24 degrees Fahrenheit. Just like other
eucalyptus trees, it is susceptible to aphid-like psyllids and borers. The
genus Eucalyptus was named by the 18th century French botanist Charles
Louis l’Heritier. The tree is part of the myrtle family, or Myrtaceae.

Nowhere is Indian power so evident as Bolivia, which elected its first
indigenous president, Evo Morales, in 2005. Morales dissolved the Ministry
of Indigenous Affairs and Original Peoples, calling it racist in a country
where more than three in five people are aboriginals. Voters approved a
constitution that creates a “plurinational” state and accords Bolivia’s
natives sovereign status. Time-worn models of aboriginal government,
community justice and even traditional healing are now legally on equal
footing with modern law and science. In the capital of La Paz, “cholitas” —
Indian women in traditional bowler hats and embroidered shawls — now
regularly anchor TV newscasts. “Miss Cholita” beauty pageants are in vogue
and native hip-hop stars headline at nightclubs. At the presidential
palace, Morales — a former Aymara coca farmer who knew hunger as a child —
makes a point of lunching periodically with the lowliest of palace guards.
Morales is ensuring that profits from natural gas and mineral extraction
are distributed equitably and that water — whose privatization in the city
of Cochabamba spurred an uprising in 2000 — is never again privatized. He’s
also pushing to make electrical utilities public. Morales has founded three
indigenous universities, formalized quotas for Indians in the military and
created a special school for aspiring diplomats with native backgrounds.
And he is promoting a campaign to demand that all public servants be fluent
in at least one native tongue. “There is no way to return to the past,”
says Waskar Ari, an Aymara who changed his name to Juan in the 1970s so he
would be accepted to a private high school in La Paz. Now a University of
Nebraska professor, Ari likens his country’s “rebirth” to the casting off
of apartheid on another continent two decades ago. “Finally,” he says
proudly, “Bolivia is no longer the South Africa of Latin America.”

The warlords that the USA champions in Afghanistan are as venal, as opposed
to the rights of women and basic democratic freedoms, and as heavily
involved in opium trafficking as the Taliban. The moral lines we draw
between us and our adversaries are fictional. The uplifting narratives used
to justify the war in Afghanistan are pathetic attempts to redeem acts of
senseless brutality. War cannot be waged to instill any virtue, including
democracy or the liberation of women. War always empowers those who have a
penchant for violence and access to weapons. War turns the moral order
upside down and abolishes all discussions of human rights. War banishes the
just and the decent to the margins of society. And the weapons of war do
not separate the innocent and the damned. An aerial drone is our version of
an improvised explosive device. An iron fragmentation bomb is our answer to
a suicide bomb. A burst from a belt-fed machine gun causes the same terror
and bloodshed among civilians no matter who pulls the trigger. We need to
tear the mask off of the fundamentalist warlords who after the tragedy of
9/11 replaced the Taliban. They used the mask of democracy to take power.
They continue this deception. These warlords are mentally the same as the
Taliban. The only change is physical. These warlords during the civil war
in Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996 killed 65,000 innocent people. They have
committed human rights violations, like the Taliban, against women and many
others. In eight years less than 2,000 Talib have been killed and more than
8,000 innocent civilians has been killed. We believe that this is not war
on terror. This is war on innocent civilians. Look at the massacres carried
out by NATO forces in Afghanistan. Look what they did in the Farah
province, where more than 150 civilians were killed, most of them women and
children. They used white phosphorus and cluster bombs. The United States
and NATO eight years ago occupied Afghanistan under the banner of woman’s
rights and democracy. They put into power men who are photocopies of the
Taliban. Afghanistan’s boom in the trade in opium, used to produce heroin,
over the past eight years of occupation has funneled hundreds of millions
of dollars to the Taliban, al-Qaida, local warlords, criminal gangs,
kidnappers, private armies, drug traffickers and many of the senior figures
in the government of Hamid Karzai. The brother of President Karzai, Ahmed
Wali Karzai, has been collecting money from the CIA although he is a major
player in the illegal opium business. Afghanistan produces 92 percent of
the world’s opium in a trade that is worth some $65 billion. This opium
feeds some 15 million addicts worldwide and kills around 100,000 people
annually. These fatalities should be added to the rolls of war dead.

Added to that shocking statistic are the millions of Americans who remain
at risk of foreclosure. In many parts of the country repossessions are
still rising or spreading to areas that have escaped so far. In the months
to come, no matter what happens on the booming stock market, hundreds of
thousands of Americans are likely to lose their homes. For them the
recession is far from over. It rages on like a forest fire, burning through
jobs, savings and homes. It will serve to exacerbate a long-term trend
towards deepening inequality in America. Real wages in the US stagnated in
the 1970s and have barely risen since, despite rising living costs. The gap
between the average American worker and high-paid chief executives has
widened and widened. The richest 1% of Americans have more financial wealth
than the bottom 95%. It seems the American hope of a steady job, producing
rising income and a home in the suburbs, has evaporated for many. A
generation of aspiring middle-class homeowners have been wiped out by the
recession. Poor people just don’t have the political clout to lobby and get
what they need in the way Wall Street does. There is little doubt that
Detroit is ground zero for the parts of America that are still suffering.
The city that was once one of the wealthiest in America is a decrepit,
often surreal landscape of urban decline. It was once one of the greatest
cities in the world. The birthplace of the American car industry, it
boasted factories that at one time produced cars shipped over the globe.
Its downtown was studded with architectural gems, and by the 1950s it
boasted the highest median income and highest rate of home ownership of any
major American city. Culturally it gave birth to Motown Records, named in
homage to Detroit’s status as “Motor City”. Decades of white flight,
coupled with the collapse of its manufacturing base, especially in its
world-famous auto industry, have brought the city to its knees. Half a
century ago it was still dubbed the “arsenal of democracy” and boasted
almost two million citizens, making it the fourth-largest in America. Now
that number has shrunk to 900,000. Its once proud suburbs now contain row
after row of burnt-out houses. Empty factories and apartment buildings
haunt the landscape, stripped bare by scavengers. Now almost a third of
Detroit – covering a swath of land the size of San Francisco – has been
abandoned. Tall grasses, shrubs and urban farms have sprung up in what were
once stalwart working-class suburbs. Even downtown, one ruined skyscraper
sprouts a pair of trees growing from the rubble. The city has a shocking
jobless rate of 29%. The average house price in Detroit is only $7,500,
with many homes available for only a few hundred dollars. Not that anyone
is buying. At a recent auction of 9,000 confiscated city houses, only a
fifth found buyers.

A tropical depression has formed in the southwestern Caribbean, prompting
storm warnings for the coast of Nicaragua and two Colombian islands. The
National Hurricane Center in Miami said the 11th tropical depression of the
season formed Wednesday morning. It had maximum sustained winds near 35 mph
(55 kph) and is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm later in the
day or Wednesday night. The depression’s center is about 125 miles (200
kilometers) east-southeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua. It is moving toward
the northwest near 8 mph (13 kph). Colombia issued tropical storm warnings
for the islands of San Andres and Providencia.

China figured once in the issue of Tibetan refugees, too, but it bears no
comparison to the problem of their Sri Lankan counterparts. The island’s
refugees enjoy a measure of ethnic solidarity in Tamilnadu, and their cause
has a certain constituency there. The State’s ruling party, the Dravida
Munnetra Kazhagam (Party for Dravidian Progress) or the DMK, cannot ignore
the issue. And the DMK is an important part of Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh’s coalition in New Delhi, headed by his Congress Party. Pressures of
local politics have prompted the DMK-led State government recently to press
for citizenship for the refugees in the camps under its less-than-adequate
care. The demand has elicited opposition charges that it is designed to
help the Sri Lankan government by keeping the refugees from returning to
their homeland. New Delhi has not yet revealed its response to the demand.
Nor is it known whether it is listening to lectures from experts about the
role it should play in postwar Sri Lanka. The time has come for India to
once again play an activist role … India should assume the leadership
role in helping Sri Lanka in its relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction
tasks. India has “strategic interest” in the island. The Sri Lankan
Government has been cultivating China and Pakistan to keep India in check.
It has good political and economic relations with China. It has invited
China to construct a modern port in Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka. It
has invited the Chinese to help it in gas exploration in areas which are
closet to India. Similarly, there is a growing military-military
relationship between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, which worries India. The
strategic conflict in Sri Lanka is part of a wider power struggle in South
Asia. China has developed strategic assets like the Gwadar port in
Pakistan, besides the Hambantota port. Sri Lanka sits next to shipping
lanes that feed 80 percent of China’s and 65 percent of India’s oil needs.

The Spanish Civil Guard seized 510 kilos of cocaine hidden in the engine
room of a tanker from Venezuela when it was in the north-east port of
Tarragona. The tanker, whose registration was not identified, had sailed
mid-September from Maracaibo (Venezuela) for Egypt but had to stop at
Tarragona to enable the captain to be permuted. The route of the tanker
aroused the suspicions of police, who then decided to conduct an
inspection. The 510 kilograms of cocaine were hidden in a room which
communicated with the axle of the rudder which was reached from inside the
boat through a small hatch or by the sea. An organized group of drug
traffickers, aboard a zodiac and equipped with diving suits, had brought
the 14 bales of drugs from the sea in this inaccessible cache and had to
recover them by the same method on arrival of the tanker. Spain is one of
the gateways to the European drugs problem in Europe, whether of hashish
from North Africa, or Latin American cocaine.

Customs agents have seized 22 pounds of opium after two packages at an
Oakland delivery facility from Thailand aroused the suspicions of agents.
After a closer search, the drugs were found wrapped in plastic and
concealed inside the false walls of large musical drums. The shipment was
bound for a location somewhere in Northern California before it was
intercepted. Opium is made from poppies. It contains morphine, which can be
used to make heroine. Authorities say the drug is often linked with gang
activity.

A female journalist in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 60 lashes over a
TV show in which a Saudi man described his extra-marital sex life. The
programme, made by Lebanese satellite network LBC, caused a huge scandal in
conservative Saudi Arabia when it was shown several months ago. The
journalist is one of two female LBC employees who have been arrested. Mazen
Abdul Jawad, the Saudi man who talked about how he picked up Saudi women
for sex, has already been jailed. The original programme was part of a
series called Red Lines, made by the popular LBC network. It examined
taboos in the Arab world. Unmarried sex in Saudi Arabia amongst Saudis –
rather than expatriates – is one of the biggest. Mazen Abdul Jawad provoked
outrage by describing his techniques for meeting and having sex with Saudi
women. He tearfully apologised but was jailed for five years and sentenced
to 1,000 lashes. Three of his friends who appeared on the show got two
years each. Mr Abdul Jawad blamed LBC producers for tricking him. The
station’s offices in Saudi Arabia were closed down and two of its producers
– both female – put on trial. LBC has made no comment about the cases. It
has long been attacked by Saudi religious leaders for being at the
forefront of Arab satellite stations broadcasting programmes into the
kingdom featuring scantily clad Arab singers and actresses. Ironically,
however, LBC is part-owned by the Saudi media mogul and billionaire Prince
Alwaleed bin Talal.

Muslim women would be banned from wearing tight pants in a devoutly Islamic
district of Indonesia’s Aceh province under proposed regulations to take
effect Jan. 1. It is the latest effort to promote strict moral values in
the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, where most of the roughly
200 million Muslims practice a moderate form of the faith. Any Muslim
caught violating the dress code, which also prohibits shorts for men, will
be told to put on government-issued full-length skirts or loose pants.
Patrolling Shariah, or Islamic police, will determine if clothing violates
the dress code. Wearing tight jeans exposes their bodies, which is strictly
banned under Islam. Civil servants are told to go beyond the rules and
refuse government services to women wearing the banned clothing. Islamic
law is not enforced across the vast island nation. But bans on drinking
alcohol, gambling and kissing in public, among other activities, have been
enforced by some more conservative local governments in recent years.
Opinion polls show that a majority of Indonesians oppose the restrictions
on dress and behavior that are being pushed by a small fringe of hardliners
in the secular democracy. Aceh, a semiautonomous region, made news when its
provincial parliament passed a Shariah law making adultery punishable by
stoning to death. It also imposed prison sentences and public lashings
against homosexuals and pedophiles. Rights groups say the law violates
international treaties and the Indonesian constitution.

Here are the Countries who HIDE 100% from the TAX Collectors Exactly what
you would think was true!

Jurisdiction HIDING SCORE
Switzerland 100
Malaysia (Labuan) 100
Barbados 100
Bahamas 100
Vanuatu 100
Belize 100
Dominica* 100
Brunei* 100
Turks & Caicos Islands* 100
St Lucia* 100
Samoa* 100
St Vincent & Grenadines* 100
Seychelles* 100

Second Tier of Hidden From Tax Collectors (Range from 90% to 96%)
Also Secondary Sort on Financial Secrecy Index Value

Mauritius 96
USA (Delaware) 92
Cayman Islands 92
Bermuda 92
Bahrain 92
British Virgin Islands 92
Portugal (Madeira) 92
Panama 92
United Arab Emirates (Dubai) 92
Costa Rica 92
Antigua & Barbuda* 92
Gibraltar* 92
St Kitts & Nevis* 92
Cook Islands* 92
Nauru* 92
Marshall Islands* 92
US Virgin Islands* 92
Grenada* 92
Austria 91
Lebanon 91
Israel 90
Liberia* 90

Tax is the foundation of good government and a key to the wealth or poverty
of nations. Yet it is under attack. These places allow big companies and
wealthy individuals to benefit from the onshore benefits of tax – like good
infrastructure, education and the rule of law – while using the offshore
world to escape their responsibilities to pay for it. The rest of us
shoulder the burden. Tax havens offer not only low or zero taxes, but
something broader. What they do is to provide facilities for people or
entities to get around the rules, laws and regulations of other
jurisdictions, using secrecy as their prime tool. We therefore often prefer
the term “secrecy jurisdiction” instead of the more popular “tax haven.”
The corrupted international infrastructure allowing élites to escape tax
and regulation is also widely used by criminals and terrorists. As a
result, tax havens are heightening inequality and poverty, corroding
democracy, distorting markets, undermining financial and other regulation
and curbing economic growth, accelerating capital flight from poor
countries, and promoting corruption and crime around the world. The
offshore system is a blind spot in international economics and in our
understanding of the world. The issues are multi-faceted, and tax havens
are steeped in secrecy and complexity – which helps explain why so few
people have woken up to the scandal of offshore, and why civil society has
been almost silent on international taxation for so long. We seek to supply
expertise and analysis to help open tax havens up to proper scrutiny at
last, and to make the issues understandable by all.

An awareness campaign on the cocoa pod borer (Conopomorpha cramerella) has
begun. Cocoa pod borer is a cocoa pest, which can cause extensive damage to
cocoa pods and thus destroying the cocoa industry and is now present in
neighboring Bougainville. As such the cocoa industry is under serious
threat, in that currently, frequent movement of people to and from the
boarder is not controlled and there is a high possibility that this pest
can be easily spread to the nearest Islands of Choiseul or the Shortlands
through infected cocoa pods or other infected planting materials from
Bougainville. Since cocoa is an important commodity in the Solomon Islands,
the Government will try to implement the awareness program as quickly as
possible to help prevent the pest to come into the country through the
common border between PNG and Solomon Islands. Cocoa has earned the country
$71 million in 2008 with a total of 4,000 tons and about $60 (CEMA Report
2009) million actually goes back to the cocoa producers and that’s why
cocoa is important to the SI economy. The MAL staff led by Quarantine
officers will soon be deployed to Choiseul and Western Provinces to carry
out an extensive surveillance on all cocoa projects to find out whether the
pest is here already or not. The public has been clearly advised not to
bring cocoa pods or any plant parts from Bougainville as is also a
Quarantine regulation to be adhered to.

The legal groundwork for the empowerment drive by Latin America’s Indians
was crowned by a U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Though nonbinding, it endorses native peoples’ right to their own
institutions and traditional lands. It has been almost universally embraced
by Latin American governments. It has also helped Indians win some major
legal victories. * The Supreme Court of Belize ruled in favor of Mayan
communities that challenged the government’s right to lease their lands to
logging interests. * A similar ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human
Rights on behalf of the forest-dwelling Saramaka maroons in Suriname
reinforced that indigenous groups must give consent to major development
projects. * Nicaragua’s government finally granted collective land titles
to the Mayagna people, complying with a landmark ruling by the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights that it had no right to sell logging
concessions on Indian land. * Colombia’s Constitutional Court deemed more
than 1 million indigenous people “in danger of cultural and physical
extermination” and told the government to protect them. * Brazil’s Supreme
Court ordered rice farmers to leave the long-disputed Raposa Serra do Sol
reservation — 4.2 million acres (1.7 million hectares) inhabited by 18,000
Indians in the Amazon’s northernmost reaches.

Despite the legal rulings, Indians remain second-class citizens. Only one
indigenous representative has ever been elected to the national congress in
Brazil. Indians, occupy vast areas of the Amazon though they account for
less than 5 percent of the population. In Guatemala, where nearly half the
population is of Mayan descent, not a single Indian has ever made it to
national office. Educational disadvantages perpetuate the inequity. In
Guatemala, three in four indigenous people are illiterate. In Mexico, where
6 percent of the population is illiterate, 22 percent of adult Indians are.
Even in Bolivia, only 55 percent of indigenous children finish primary
school, compared to 81 percent of other children.

The drug trade has permitted the Taliban to thrive and expand despite the
presence of 100,000 NATO troops. The Taliban’s direct involvement in the
opium trade allows them to fund a war machine that is becoming
technologically more complex and increasingly widespread. The Taliban
earned $90 million to $160 million a year from taxing the production and
smuggling of opium and heroin, as much as double the amount it earned
annually while it was in power nearly a decade ago. The Afghan-Pakistani
border is the world’s largest free trade zone in anything and everything
that is illicit, an area blighted by drugs, weapons and illegal
immigration. The “perfect storm of drugs and terrorism” may be on the move
along drug trafficking routes through Central Asia. Profits made from opium
are being pumped into militant groups in Central Asia and “a big part of
the region could be engulfed in large-scale terrorism, endangering its
massive energy resources. Afghanistan, after eight years of occupation, has
become a world center for drugs. The drug lords are the only ones with
power. How can you expect these people to stop the planting of opium and
halt the drug trade? How is it that the Taliban when they were in power
destroyed the opium production and a superpower not only cannot destroy the
opium production but allows it to increase? And while all this goes on,
those who support the war talk to you about women’s rights. We do not have
human rights now in most provinces. It is as easy to kill a woman in my
country as it is to kill a bird. In some big cities like Kabul some women
have access to jobs and education, but in most of the country the situation
for women is hell. Rape, kidnapping and domestic violence are increasing.
These fundamentalists during the so-called free elections made a misogynist
law against Shia women in Afghanistan. This law has even been signed by
Hamid Karzai. All these crimes are happening under the name of democracy.”
Thousands of Afghan civilians have died from insurgent and foreign military
violence. And American and NATO forces are responsible for almost half the
civilian deaths in Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have
also died from displacement, starvation, disease, exposure, lack of medical
treatment, crime and lawlessness resulting from the war. Karzai and his
rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has withdrawn from the runoff election, will
do nothing to halt the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco-state.
NATO, by choosing sides in a battle between two corrupt and brutal
opponents, has lost all its legitimacy in the country.

The city has become such a byword for decline that Time magazine recently
bought a house and set up a reporting team there to cover the city’s
struggles for a year. There has been no shortage of grim news for Time’s
new “Assignment Detroit” bureau to get their teeth into. Recently a
semi-riot broke out when the city government offered help in paying utility
bills. Need was so great that thousands of people turned up for a few
application forms. In the end police had to control the crowd, which
included the sick and the elderly, some in wheelchairs. At the same time
national headlines were created after bodies began piling up at the city’s
mortuary. Family members, suffering under the recession, could no longer
afford to pay for funerals. Incredibly, despite such need, things are
getting worse as the impact of the recession has bitten deeply into the
city’s already catastrophic finances. Detroit is now $300m in debt and is
cutting many of its beleaguered services, such as transport and street
lighting. As the number of bus routes shrivels and street lights are cut
off, it is the poorest who suffer. People like TJ Taylor. He is disabled
and cannot work. He relies on public transport. It has been cut, so now he
must walk. But the lights are literally going out in some places, making
already dangerous streets even more threatening. “I just avoid those areas
that are not lit. I pity for the poor people who live in them,” he said.
The brutal truth, some experts say, is that Detroit is being left behind –
and it is not alone. In cities across America a collapsed manufacturing
base has been further damaged by the recession and has led to conditions of
dire unemployment and the creation of an underclass. There is a grim roll
call of cities across America where decline is hitting hard and where the
official end of the recession will make little difference. Names such as
Flint, Youngstown, Buffalo, Binghamton, Newton. Feldman sees a relentless
decline for working-class Americans all the way from Iowa to New York. He
sees the impact in his own family, as his retired parents-in-law have
difficulties with their gutted pension fund and his disabled son stares at
cuts to his benefits. The economic changes going on, he believes, are a
profound de-industrialisation with which America is failing to come to
terms. “We are going to have to face the end of the industrial age,” he
said. “This didn’t just happen lately either. It’s been happening here in
Detroit since the 1980s. Detroit just got it first, but it could happen
anywhere now.”

A judicial council in Belize has thrown out the convictions of three men
serving life sentences for allegedly bludgeoning a fisherman to death.
Sixty-two-year-old Justo Jairo Perez was killed in San Pedro on Ambergris
Caye seven years ago. Francis Eiley, Ernest Savery and Lenton Polonio were
convicted two years later but always maintained their innocence. The
London-based Death Penalty Project represented the men in their appeal. It
said in a statement that they do not face further legal action and will now
go free. The group said the council ruled the conviction was based on
uncorroborated evidence from a single man, who was discovered at the murder
scene with bloody clothing and later turned state’s witness.

Beijing provided Colombo not only the weapon systems that decisively tilted
the military balance in its favor, but also the diplomatic cover to
prosecute the war in defiance of international calls to cease offensive
operations to help stanch rising civilian casualties. Through such support,
China has succeeded in extending its strategic reach to a critically
located country in India’s backyard that sits astride vital sea-lanes of
communication in the Indian Ocean region.” Chellaney also wants India to
intervene in the issue of refugee rehabilitation. This is linked to the
larger strategic objective of replacing China in Colombo’s affections. If
the end influences the means, the refugees must realistically curtail their
expectations of India’s intervention on their behalf. A delegation of
Indian members of Parliament asked for an early release of the refugees
from the camp so that they can return home. Earlier, Colombo had argued
that it needed to screen the IDPs to “weed out” former Tamil militants.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, however, reportedly told the delegation that
the inmates could not be released before the entire region was de-mined.
According to official figures, 10,593 people had returned to their homes
and another 22,668 had been released from the camps. The vast majority,
thus, continues to live in conditions of internment. Hope for the refugees
has not been heightened, meanwhile, with the announcement that Sri Lanka
will hold both its presidential and parliamentary elections two years ahead
of schedule. The president is taking the plunge to cash in politically on
the military victory over the Tamil rebels. Rajapaksa hopes to reap a
two-thirds parliamentary majority that would enable him to change the
country’s constitution. The speculation is that the statute will be amended
to give him more than two successive presidential terms. Few expect him to
undertake the exercise in order to make Sri Lanka more federal and find a
political solution to the ethnic problem. Fewer still expect his electoral
victory to spell early relief for the refugees.

Prisoners at a Papua New Guinea jail attempted to escape because they were
not fed for two consecutive days. Prison guards successfully stopped the
487 prisoners from escaping. The prison break would have been the country’s
biggest mass break-out in history. The Baisu prison, located near Mount
Hagen in the Western Highland Province of Papua New Guinea, only has
capacity for 300 inmates, yet it holds 800 inmates. A warder stated that
the prison is extremely overcrowded and the facilities are “rundown.” The
800 inmates were starving and left without food because a contract with the
prison’s food suppliers had expired. The chief superintendent of Baisu jail
explained that the prisoners had nothing to eat since Sunday because of a
dispute between rival food suppliers over the contract with the prison. As
a result of the lack of food, three of the inmates fell ill. Fellow inmates
were furious and demanded that the ill inmates be taken to the hospital.
Soon after, 487 of the prisoners attempted to escape the prison. The
inmates were able to get pass three layers of fencing. Many of the watch
towers at the prison had been pulled down because they were rotten and in
extremely poor condition. Thus, the prisoners were able to pass the fencing
more easily. The prison guards had to fire shots at the escapees to stop
them, but no one was killed. This incident would not have happened had the
ongoing ration problem been resolved. The police commissioner has asked the
former contractor to return to feed the inmates, and will continue to
supply food until the dispute over the contract is resolved. A
representative of the prisoners stated that the next time the prisoners
“were made to go hungry, they would simply walk out and risk being shot
dead.” The representative further stated that “while they were lawbreakers,
they had a right under the law to be fed.”

Nearly 5,000 people have died from swine flu infections since the A(H1N1)
virus was uncovered. The death toll marked an increase of about 265 over
the 4,735 deaths reported a week ago. Most of the fatal cases — 3,539 —
have been recorded in North and South America. Iceland, Sudan, and Trinidad
and Tobago reported their first fatal cases over the past week. Mongolia,
Rwanda, and Sao Tome and Principe also recorded pandemic influenza cases
for the first time, as the virus continued to spread. However, A(H1N1)
influenza was declining in tropical areas of the world, with the exception
of Cuba and Colombia. There was also no significant pandemic related
activity in temperate areas of the southern hemisphere, the WHO said.
Meanwhile respiratory disease activity continues to spread and increase in
intensity in the northern hemisphere, mainly in North America.

Two people died and 15 others were seriously wounded after machete-wielding
rioters broke into violence over ethnic tensions in Nairobi’s largest slum.
The violence began after a dozen youths from the Nubian ethnic group were
hired to demolish trading stalls in the Kibera slum on behalf of a church
that believed the stalls were blocking its path. Later, Luhya tribesmen and
traders retaliated by hacking to death a Nubian man in his mid-20s. Nubian
youths then attacked people indiscriminately despite pleas from religious
leaders for calm. A second person was killed. Four victims of machete
violence had been brought to clinics. Several shacks were set on fire.
Nubians and Luhya have clashed before. Paramilitary police were patrolling
the slum, but officials feared the violence could flare into a larger
conflict.

The fight against tax havens is one of the great challenges of our age. Our
approach challenges basic tenets of traditional economic theory and opens
new fields of analysis on a diverse array of important issues such as
foreign aid, capital flight, corruption, climate change, corporate
responsibility, political governance, hedge funds, inequality, morality –
and much more. How big is the problem, and what is its nature? Assets held
offshore, beyond the reach of effective taxation, are equal to about a
third of total global assets. Over half of all world trade passes through
tax havens. Developing countries lose revenues far greater than annual aid
flows. The amount of funds held offshore by individuals is about $11.5
trillion – with a resulting annual loss of tax revenue on the income from
these assets of about 250 billion dollars. This is five times what the
World Bank estimated in 2002 was needed to address the UN Millenium
Development Goal of halving world poverty by 2015. This much money could
also pay to transform the world’s energy infrastructure to tackle climate
change. In 2007 the World Bank has endorsed estimates by Global Financial
Integrity (GFI) that the cross-border flow of the global proceeds from
criminal activities, corruption, and tax evasion at US$1-1.6 trillion per
year, half from developing and transitional economies. The annual
cross-border flows from developing countries alone amounts to approximately
US$850 billion – US$1.1 trillion per year. Offshore finance is not only
based in islands and small states: `offshore’ has become an insidious
growth within the entire global system of finance. The largest financial
centres such as London and New York, and countries like Switzerland and
Singapore, offer secrecy and other special advantages to attract foreign
capital flows. As corrupt dictators and other élites strip their countries’
financial assets and relocate them to these financial centres, developing
countries’ economies are deprived of local investment capital and their
governments are denied desperately needed tax revenues. This helps capital
flow not from capital-rich countries to poor ones, as traditional economic
theories might predict, but, perversely, in the other direction. Countries
that lose tax revenues become more dependent on foreign aid. Sub-Saharan
Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world in the sense that
external assets, measured by the stock of capital flight, exceed external
liabilities, as measured by the stock of external debt. The difference is
that while the assets are in private hands, the liabilities are the public
debts of African governments and their people. Globalisation and
international trade and finance have got a bad name of late. Each brings
opportunities, and risks. We must now start to address seriously what may
be the biggest risk of all: tax abuse, and tax havens and everything they
stand for.

In eastern Bolivia — where the United Nations says several thousand Guarani
Indians, including children, work as virtual slaves on large estates —
Morales has promised autonomy. But the area’s elite, Morales’ fiercest
opponents, won’t let that happen without a fight. Obtaining autonomy should
be less contentious for Indians in western highlands towns like Jesus de
Machaca, in part because the land in question yields so little. Jesus de
Machaca is a hardscrabble farming town near Lake Titicaca that is more than
96 percent Aymara Indian. It is among 12 Bolivian municipalities, mostly
Aymara and Quechua, whose inhabitants will vote on becoming autonomous.
Under self-rule, they would legalize governing practices that precede the
Inca empire. Local leaders called mallkus are democratically elected by
their communities in public votes, then choose senior town officials. Terms
in office are restricted to a year. The system is closer to socialism than
capitalism. Deputy mayor Braulio Cusi says autonomy will hugely benefit a
community where nearly all the 13,700 residents live in adobe brick homes
and use cow manure as cooking fuel, where most homes lack running water and
babies are born at home because there’s no hospital or clinic. “Dairy
cooperatives, cheese processing. There will be jobs,” says Cusi, who slings
a white leather whip over his poncho as a symbol of authority. He envisions
a slaughterhouse, and hopes to attract a veterinarian. The town’s more than
900 square kilometers (350 square miles) are devoted mostly to cattle,
llamas and sheep grazing, potatoes and quinoa. Purchased in the 16th and
17th century by natives who refused to become tenant farmers, they are
communally owned but parceled out. Selling to outsiders is prohibited.
Jesus de Machaca took its first step toward autonomy when it became an
independent municipality. It later elected its first mayor, also a mallku.
The national government more than doubled the town’s budget. More than 70
percent of homes now have electricity — up from one in ten in — and
construction just ended on a three-story municipal building with parquet
floors and oak doors. The town is even building a soccer stadium — with
astroturf, one councilman proudly notes. “Before, we were forgotten,” Cusi
says after watching the Wiphala banner of the Andes’ indigenous peoples
raised up a flagpole in the shadow of an imposing Spanish colonial church.
“Now we’re going to define, in our way, how we live — according to our own
customs and practices.” U.N. Declaration on Indigenous Rights:
http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/drip.html

Karzi’s government is filled with “glaring corruption and unabashed graft.”
Karzi is a president whose confidants and chief advisers comprise drug
lords and war crimes villains who mock our own rule of law and
counter-narcotics effort. Where do you think the $36 billion of money
poured into country by the international community have gone? This money
went into the pockets of the drug lords and the warlords. There are 18
million people in Afghanistan who live on less than $2 a day while these
warlords get rich. The Taliban and warlords together contribute to this
fascism while the occupation forces are bombing and killing innocent
civilians. When we do not have security how can we even talk about human
rights or women’s rights? This election under the shade of Afghan
war-lordism, drug-lordism, corruption and occupation forces has no
legitimacy at all. The result will be like the same donkey but with new
saddles. It is not important who is voting. It is important who is
counting. And this is the problem. Many of those who go with the Taliban do
not support the Taliban, but they are fed up with these warlords and this
injustice and they go with the Taliban to take revenge. Most of the people
are against the Taliban and the warlords, which is why millions did not
take part in this tragic drama of an election. The U.S. wastes taxpayers’
money and the blood of their soldiers by supporting such a mafia corrupt
system of Hamid Karzai,” said Joya, who changes houses in Kabul frequently
because of the numerous death threats made against her. “Eight years is
long enough to learn about Karzai and Abdullah. They chained my country to
the center of drugs. If Obama was really honest he would support the
democratic-minded people of my country. He is going to start war in
Pakistan by attacking in the border area of Pakistan. More civilians have
been killed in the Obama period than even during the criminal Bush.” “My
people are sandwiched between two powerful enemies,” she lamented. “The
occupation forces from the sky bomb and kill innocent civilians. On the
ground, Taliban and these warlords deliver fascism. As NATO kills more
civilians the resistance to the foreign troops increases. If the U.S.
government and NATO do not leave voluntarily my people will give to them
the same lesson they gave to Russia and to the English who three times
tried to occupy Afghanistan. It is easier for us to fight against one enemy
rather than two.”

The busy highway of Eight Mile Road marks the border between the city of
Detroit and its suburbs. On one side stretches the city proper with its
mainly black population; on the other stretches the progressively more
wealthy and more white suburbs of Oakland County. But this recession has
reached out to those suburbs, too. Repossessions have spread like a rash
down the streets of Oakland’s communities. Joblessness has climbed, spurred
by yet another round of mass lay-offs in the auto industry. The real impact
of the recession will continue to be felt in those suburbs for years to
come. For decades they stood as a bulwark against the poverty of the city,
ringing it like a doughnut of prosperity, with decrepit inner Detroit as
the hole at its centre. Now home losses and job cuts are hitting the middle
classes hard. Recovery is going to take a generation. The doughnut itself
is sick now. But what do you think that means for the poor people who live
in the hole? That picture is borne out by the recent actions of Gleaners
Community Food Bank. The venerable Detroit institution has long sent out
parcels of food, clothing and furniture all over the city. But now it is
doing so to the suburbs as well, sometimes to people who only a year or so
ago had been donors to the charity but now face food shortage themselves.
Gleaners has delivered a staggering 14,000 tonnes of food in the past 12
months alone. Standing in a huge warehouse full of pallets of potatoes,
cereals, tinned fruit and other vitals, Gleaners’ president, summed up the
situation bluntly: “People who used to support this programme now need it
themselves. The recession hit them so quickly they just became
overwhelmed.”

The Yanomami live in the border region between Venezuela and Brazil. Swine
flu has killed seven members of this endangered Amazonian tribe. Several
hundred members of the Yanomami tribe in Venezuela could be infected. An
outbreak among the isolated tribes of the Amazon could spread among the
indigenous population very quickly and kill many, campaigners fear. It may
already be happening among the Yanomami in the border region between
Venezuela and Brazil. The situation is “critical” and Venezuela and Brazil
must take immediate action to halt the epidemic. An estimated 32,000
Yanomami Indians remain, living in communities up to 400. Venezuelan
Yanomami live in a 8.2 million hectare (20.2 million acre) forest reserve.
Thousands of illegal gold miners have infiltrated the reserve. They also
need to radically improve the Yanomami’s access to healthcare; swine flu
was the suspected cause of the deaths of a pregnant woman and three small
children. The Yanomami have been hurt by epidemics in the past,
particularly when influenza and malaria were brought by miners in the
1980s. As much as a fifth of the community was killed during that period
and that the Yanomami population has fallen to about 32,000.

An elderly British couple was stabbed to death in a robbery while
vacationing in Kenya. Tony Joel, 70, was stabbed 17 times and his
67-year-old wife, Rita, 11 times. The couple from Southend, Essex were
killed while staying in Mombasa on the Kenyan coast. A police investigation
was launched following the deaths. A source close to the investigation said
two people had been arrested as a result.

Hello, I Live In Tobago And Would Like To Be An Agent For Yamaha Outboard
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showing them parts of Tobago. The boats here have outboard engines. Parts
are very hard to come by and it’s not always at your fingertips when
something goes wrong with the engine. I need good information like contact
person and number preferrable from Yamaha. Information that will help me
start up that business. Thank you

In Detroit many people see the only signs of recovery as coming from
themselves. As city government retreats and as cuts bite deep, some of
those left in the city have not waited for help. Take the case of Mark
Covington. He was born and raised in Detroit and still lives only a few
yards from the house where he grew up in one of the city’s toughest
neighbourhoods. Laid off from his job as an environmental engineer,
Covington found himself with nothing to do. So he set about cleaning up his
long-suffering Georgia Street neighbourhood. He cleared the rubble where a
bakery had once stood and planted a garden. He grew broccoli, strawberries,
garlic and other vegetables. Soon he had planted two other gardens on other
ruined lots. He invited his neighbours to pick the crops for free, to help
put food on their plates. Friends then built an outdoor screen of
white-painted boards to show local children a movie each Saturday night and
keep them off the streets. He helped organise local patrols so that
abandoned homes would not be burnt down. He did all this for free. All the
while he still looked desperately for a job and found nothing. Yet Georgia
Street improved. Local youths, practised in vandalism and the destruction
of abandoned buildings, have not touched his gardens. People flock to the
movie nights, harvest dinners and street parties Covington holds. Inspired,
he scraped together enough cash to buy a derelict shop and an abandoned
house opposite his first garden. He wants to reopen the shop and turn the
house into a community centre for children. To do it, he needs a grant. Or
a cheap bank loan. Or a job. But for people like Covington the grants have
dried up, the banks are not lending, and no one is hiring. There is no help
for him. It is hard not to compare Covington’s struggle for cash to the
vast bailout of America’s financial industry. “We just can’t get a loan to
help us out. The banks are not lending,” he said. On an unseasonal warm day
last week, he stood in his urban garden, tending his crops, and gazed
wistfully at the abandoned buildings that he now owns but cannot yet turn
into something good for his neighbourhood. He does not seem bitter. But he
does wonder why it seems so easy in modern America for those who already
have a lot to get much more, while those who have least are forgotten. “It
makes me wonder how they do it. And where is that money coming from?” he
asked.

The Parliamentary Bipartisan Committee investigating the anti-Asian rioting
in Papua New Guinea is allegedly shocked at reports of corruption and
bribery in the Foreign Affairs and Immigration Department. Senior
immigration officials told the committee that officers receive bribes and
are involved in other corrupt practices to allow foreigners into Papua New
Guinea. Several officers have been penalised for being involved in such
illegal activities. The committee was told more than 15,000 foreigners are
estimated to be living illegally in PNG and the immigration department
lacks the funding, staffing and technology to be able to deal with them.
The committee will travel around the country for the next two weeks
gathering public feedback and then present its findings to Parliament.

10/19/2009

ONE-THIRD OF DENGUE CALIFORNIA COFFEE CHILD BRIDES AND MASSIVE MADAGASCAR IVORY TEA FARMER COPS KILL SEVEN NEW GLOWING 'FORCED ACQUISITION' EARTHQUAKES, MONKEYS, MOSQUITOES, MUSHROOMS, TOBAGO MURDERS, SOUTH PACIFIC MALARIA, SECRETIVE RITUALS AND DERAILED PASSENGER TRAINS WITH BURMESE MIGRANT WORKERS HARASSED BY GANGS, PREFER HILTON HOTEL HORROR, ILLEGAL XINHUA FISHING, MALAYSIAN MALARIA MAYHEM, OVER BANGLADESH BORDER FENCING, POACHER BOATS, AND ALARMING NICARAGUAN CLIMATE CHANGE FOOD CRISIS AS RWANDA GENOCIDE'S GREENLIGHT RADIO STOCK EXCHANGE SURGES KILL THREE, WOUND 34 — HUNDREDS OF VENEZUELAN FOLK CORPSES TRAPPED FOR 100 YEARS IN KERMADEC, EASTER ISLANDS PONZI PRISON RAT-KILLING, ADMINISTRATIVE BUNGLED THAILAND TSUNAMI UNDERPANTS THIEF'S $60 MILLION PNG PATROL LOCK-UP

8/18/2009

AMID CHINA AIRPORT RIOTS 8,000 TONNES RED BANGKOK SCAM BLASTS 140 FISHING LENTILS KIDNAPPING 79 VENEZUELAN ONE-WAY HOMELESS TICKETS FOR SWINE FLU MOB ON RAMPAGE FROM INDIGENOUS POVERTY AS NEPALESE REFUGEES ARRESTED; SIX ISLANDS BECOME SEVEN WOUNDS KILLING 50 KENYANS IN HEAVY NICARAGUAN RAINFALL WITH BRITISH SIM CARDS FROM 828 TULELE PEISA TOBAGO MACHETES

A mob set ablaze eight buses and several shops after a schoolgirl was run
over by a bus at an unauthorized bus stand near Domjur police station. The
death of Riya Das, a Class-VII student of a local school, triggered mob
fury as locals alleged that the unauthorized bus stand was creating traffic
problems in the area and started setting ablaze buses and shops. Rapid
Action Force (RAF) had to be called in to control the situation.

Violent street battles killed at least 140 people and injured 828 others in
the deadliest ethnic unrest to hit China’s western Xinjiang region in
decades, and officials said the death toll was expected to rise. Police
sealed off streets in parts of the provincial capital, Urumqi, after
discord between ethnic Muslim Uighur people and China’s Han majority
erupted into riots. Witnesses reported a new protest in a second city,
Kashgar.

Venezuelan authorities found the bullet-ridden bodies of three Canadian
boys who had been kidnapped in the South American country, the justice
minister said. The bodies of 17-year-old John Faddoul, along with his
brothers Kevin, 13, and Jason, 12, were found near an electrical tower in
Yare, about 30 miles west of Caracas, Justice Minister Jesse Chacon said.
The body of the boy’s driver, 30-year-old Miguel Ribas, also was found with
them.

A total of 816 people died of swine flu worldwide, with most of the deaths
occurring in South America, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said. So
far, 707 people have died in the Americas, 44 in South-East Asia, 34 in
Europe, 30 in the Western Pacific region and one in the Eastern
Mediterranean region.

Many Strong Voices (MSV), unites indigenous peoples from the Arctic with
those from the tiny coral isles sprinkled throughout the globe’s oceans,
known in the parlance of climate change policy as Small Island Developing
States, or SIDS. MSV was spawned on the heels of a 2005 United Nations
climate policy meeting in Montreal and met for the first time in Belize two
years later. The grounds its constituents call home are as diverse as the
planet has to offer, but as the planet warms they share the same
catastrophe.

On many nights at sea off this Pacific port, Aaron Medina drops bombs that
cause dozens of fish to soar into the air. The 23-year-old fisherman
rubbernecks to ensure no police are around before pulling a 1-pound bomb
from his pocket. It’s an old sardine can wrapped in a cement bag filled
with gunpowder, sugar and sulfur. It is lit with a waterproof wick. “It’s
the only way to survive in fishing today,” said Medina, who has been
fishing with explosives off Corinto, Nicaragua’s largest port, since he was
12 years old.

Already poverty kills 50 children each day in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea
and Timor-Leste – a figure likely to rise as the global financial crisis
hits. Many countries in the Pacific are yet to suffer the full impact of
the global financial crisis but it is about to hit the region with all the
devastation and suffering of a tsunami. There is a critical ‘window of
opportunity’ to act in preparation for its impact but it is an opportunity
that is steadily slipping away. The central lesson learned from every
previous economic crisis is that the poorest people in developing countries
suffer the most and that not enough is done to help them.

Travelers to Thailand have braved a variety of hazards in recent years but
foreign governments are now warning about a new and different one:
duty-free shopping at the airport. Several European tourists say they were
falsely accused of shoplifting at the Thai capital’s main airport and some
recount being taken to seedy motels where they were shaken down for
thousands of dollars by a shady middleman. A British couple paid the
equivalent of $11,000 to secure their release five days after being accused
of stealing a Givenchy wallet that was never found, say police, who along
with airport authorities deny any wrongdoing.

A violent crowd went on the rampage at Jyoti Chowk in Kondhwa damaging
shops and vehicles which forced many shops and commercial establishments to
down their shutters. According to Kondhwa police, around 25 to 30 people,
carrying saffron flags assembled at Jyoti Chowk; first they asked all shops
to close down and started pelting at shops and hotels that were open. Four
two-wheelers, a few cars, a Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited bus
and an ATM centre were damaged in the incident. As the situation grew
tense, commercial establishments in the area closed down for an hour. Soon,
the Kondhwa police reached the spot. “We summoned two strike force to bring
the crowd under control,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Jalinder
Supekar.

For some time now, Carteret Islanders have made eye-catching headlines:
“Going, going… Papua New Guinea atoll sinking fast”. Academics have dubbed
us amongst the world’s first “environmental refugees” and journalists put
us on the “frontline of climate change.” So perhaps you have heard how we
build sea walls and plant mangroves, only to see our land and homes washed
away by storm surges and high tides. Maybe you can even recognise the
tragic irony in the fact that the Carterets people have lived simply
(without cars or electricity) — subsisting mainly on fish, bananas and
vegetables — and have therefore not had much of a “carbon footprint”.

Columns of paramilitary police in green camouflage uniforms and flak vests
marched around Urumqi’s main bazaar — a largely Uighur neighborhood —
carrying batons, long bamboo poles and slingshots. Mobile phone service was
blocked, and Internet links were also cut or slowed down. Rioters
overturned barricades, attacking vehicles and houses, and clashed violently
with police in Urumqi, according to media and witness accounts. State
television aired footage showing protesters attacking and kicking people on
the ground. Other people, who appeared to be Han Chinese, sat dazed with
blood pouring down their faces.

“We lament, despite the efforts that were made 24 hours a day since this
started, we have not been able to prevent this abominable homicide,” Chacon
said. “The three boys were identified by a relative.” Police have said that
the brothers were abducted when unidentified men dressed as police stopped
their car at a roadside checkpoint in Caracas as the boys were on their way
to school. Authorities have not ruled out the possibility that the
kidnappers could in fact be police officers.

In addition, more than 20 countries such as Afghanistan, Belize, Bhutan,
Botswana, Haiti, Namibia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Solomon Islands, among
others, have confirmed swine flu cases. A total of 134,503 people worldwide
have been affected by the influenza A(H1N1) virus, also called swine flu,
so far. The actual figure may be much higher, as countries are no longer
required to report swine flu cases.

“We want to tell the world that the Inuit hunter falling through the ice
and the Pacific Islander fishing on rising seas are connected.” Four years
ago the United States was indicted in front of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights for producing the greenhouse gas emissions that
were warming the Arctic homeland at rates twice as fast as elsewhere on the
planet. The warming hasn’t stopped but the network has increased, and the
world they inhabit has become even more tenuous. “This is the start of the
dying of a civilization” warned an economic advisor to the president of the
Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean just north of Madagascar.

Medina is part of the nation’s booming blast fishing industry, which is
quickly spreading across Central America’s Pacific coast. The practice is
also common in El Salvador and Honduras. Blast fishing is an illegal but
lucrative practice in which fishermen throw small homemade bombs into the
marine habitat, killing entire schools of fish and wiping out everything
else within the blast zone – including coral reef habitats – thus depleting
fisheries. “In a few years, blast fishing will be everywhere if it
continues like this,” said Reinaldo Bermuti of Nicaragua’s Fisheries
Institute in the capital, Managua. Other authorities fear the practice is
fueling a black market for increasingly potent explosives that could fall
into the hands of gangs or terrorist groups. “That’s why we’re constantly
working on intelligence,” said police investigator Lester Gomez.

Beneath the current financial crisis lies a development emergency with
catastrophic implications if we fail to respond effectively. And those in
the teeth of this economic storm are women and children. The Pacific
Islands countries are already burdened by poverty. One in four households
and almost one in three of the population are below the respective national
poverty lines. One in 10 Pacific Island children are underweight. Almost
one in five children do not enrol in primary school and of those who do
enrol, one in 10 do not complete their primary level schooling. Of course
the biggest sign of how well government action is protecting children is
the death rate of under-five-year-olds. If we add Papua New Guinea and
Timor-Leste, 18,000 Pacific Island children under five die each year – 50
children per day. Yet forecasts based on the impact of the global financial
crisis estimate the number of child deaths could rise by a further 800 each
year.

The Thai government has vowed a crackdown at Bangkok’s scandal-plagued
Suvarnabhumi Airport, which has barely recovered from its public relations
disaster when anti-government protesters shut it for a week and stranded
300,000 visitors. The airport opened in 2006 and has been dogged by
corruption allegations, taxi touts with “broken meters” and baggage thefts
— prompting a recent order for luggage handlers to wear uniforms without
pockets. But the allegations of extortion take things to another level. “We
are quite concerned about this,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Vimon Kidchob
said. “The government of Thailand is doing everything we can to ensure the
safety of tourists.”

Apparently, the incident occurred after some miscreants showed disrespect
to Shivaji Maharaj. The police have so far arrested five people in
connection with the incident and booked them for rioting and damaging
public property. The police are looking of Amar Dhawane, Maharashtra
Navnirman Sena vice president, Hadapsar Unit, and around 20 unidentified
people involved in the incident. Shrikant Surve (21), Nitin Kakde (23),
Ramesh Patlelu (24) of Wanwadi, Sunil Patil (21) of Kondhwa and Amol Kad
(23) of Katraj are the five arrested

You might know that encroaching salt water has contaminated our fresh water
wells and turned our vegetable plots into swampy breeding grounds for
malaria-carrying mosquitos. Taro, the staple food crop, no longer grows on
the atoll. Carterets Islanders now face severe food shortages, with
government aid coming by boat two or three times a year. However, the story
you have not likely read is the one of government failure and the strategy
we developed in response, so as to engineer our own exile from a drowning
traditional homeland. Carterets people are facing, and will continue to
face, many challenges as we relocate from our ancestral grounds. However,
our plan is one in which we remain as independent and self-sufficient as
possible. We wish to maintain our cultural identity and live sustainably
wherever we are.

Riya was returning home in Domjur’s Uttar Japardah locality and had barely
stepped down a private bus on route 63 when the driver accelerated the
vehicle to park it at the bus stand. At this, she fell and was crushed
under the rear wheels. Angry locals gathered at the spot within moments and
set the bus ablaze. The mob then targeted three other buses on route 63
parked at the bus stand. Then, the mob went on the rampage, setting fire to
five mini buses on the Domjur-Howrah route. The crowd also targeted all the
roadside shops, stalls and shade where bus drivers and conductors rest,
setting these ablaze.

There was little immediate explanation for how so many people died. The
government accused a Uighur businesswoman living in the U.S. of inciting
the riots through phone calls and “propaganda” spread on Web sites. Exile
groups said the violence started only after police began violently cracking
down on a peaceful protest complaining about a fight between Uighur and Han
factory workers in another part of China. The unrest is another troubling
sign for Beijing at how rapid economic development has failed to stem — and
even has exacerbated — resentment among ethnic minorities, who say they are
being marginalized in their homelands as Chinese migrants pour in.

“We really do not have words to express our pain to the Faddoul Diab family
and the Ribas Guerra family for the abominable and lamentable event today,”
Chacon said. Officials have not revealed exactly how much in ransom the
kidnappers demanded, but they have said it was more than $4.5 million — a
figure circulated in the Venezuelan media. A lawyer for the boys’ family,
Santiago Georges, said recently that the family was not in a position to
pay the sum. The boys’ parents were both born in Lebanon, and their father,
John Faddoul, is a naturalized Canadian who has been a businessman in
Venezuela for more than 20 years.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended a city program to send homeless
families out of New York on planes, trains and buses, saying it “saves the
taxpayers of New York City an enormous amount of money.” Speaking in the
Blue Room in City Hall to announce a new finance commissioner, Mr.
Bloomberg was asked if the program simply shifts the homelessness program
to a different place, as some critics of the program have suggested. “I
don’t know, when they get to the other places, whether they find jobs,” Mr.
Bloomberg said. “It may be an easier place for them. If we don’t — we
either have two choices. We can do this program or pay an enormous amount
of money daily to provide housing.”

Some islands in his homeland are composed of granite with spires that rise
into the clouds while others rest on a porous coral platform barely visible
above the ever-lapping waves. Should sea level rise just several feet, as
reports predict, these islands will be inundated. “Who will be prepared to
chuck away a 1,000 year-old album with the history of all their ancestors
overnight?” The near-term goal of MSV is to garner support for the greatest
emissions reductions possible at the UN Climate Conference.

Unlike many of Nicaragua’s coastal areas, Corinto’s rocky shoreline hasn’t
attracted international surfers or real estate investors. But over the past
decade, blast fishing has grown because poverty is rampant, homemade bombs
are increasingly available and law enforcement is lax. Local authorities
estimate fishermen drop 40,000 homemade bombs into the sea every week.
Often working undercover, police confiscated about 1,000 bombs last year,
most of which were seized at highway checkpoints. In 2007, Corinto police
confiscated 650 bombs from a clandestine bomb factory. The Nicaraguan navy
often cruises Pacific waters at night with no lights, hoping to catch
fishermen red-handed. Last year, naval officials say they caught five boats
blast fishing, and seized about 400 bombs. Navy Capt. Francisco Gutierrez
concedes that’s just a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of bombs used
each year.

This tragic ‘headline figure’ would coincide with increased poverty in the
region, falling school attendance, higher malnutrition and deteriorating
access to healthcare. Yet the fact that the full impact of the global
financial crisis has not yet hit the Pacific means there is an opportunity
to brace for its impact. There is time for governments to readjust fiscal
and monetary policy to create a social protection (a safety net) for the
most vulnerable. Investing in children and women is not just a moral
imperative, it is smart economics. Irrefutable evidence has now accumulated
to show the societal benefits of investing in children in good times, as
well as in bad times such as the current global economic downturn.

It’s hardly the image the self-proclaimed “Land of Smiles” wants to
project, particularly as Thailand’s vital tourism industry faces its worst
crisis in years after political instability, the global financial crisis
and swine flu scares. The scandal has spawned lengthy chatter on travel
blogs about other scams to watch for in Thailand and a string of overseas
travel advisories on the perils of duty-free shopping in Bangkok. Ireland
is warning its nationals to “be extremely careful” when browsing at
Suvarnabhumi (pronounced “sue-WANNA-poom”).

Seventy-nine undocumented migrants from Asia and Africa were arrested in a
Nicaraguan port off the Caribbean Sea, local police said. The migrants from
Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Nepal said they had arrived by boat at the
eastern port of Bluefields, where their handlers led them to a hotel,
telling them to wait there for a train. But there are no trains in
Nicaragua.

While we call on the Papua New Guinea government to develop policy, we are
not sitting by. Instead, we now want to see the media headlines translate
into practical assistance for our relocation program. And we hope our
carefully designed and community-led action plan can serve as a model for
communities elsewhere that will be affected by climate change in the
future. Situated 86 km Northeast of Bougainville, the main island in the
autonomous region of which the Carterets form part, our atoll is only 1.2
meters above sea level. They say evacuation of the islands was inevitable
as for many, many years erosion has been doing its work. “King tides”, or
particularly high tides, are now doing worse. Originally the Carterets were
six islands, but Huene was split in half by the sea and so now there are
seven. In 1995 a wave ate away most of the shorelines of Piul and Huene
islands. Han island, has suffered from complete inundation.

The mob resisted fire brigade officials and chased them away. Flames spread
as oil tanks of the buses began exploding. Though the bus stand lies along
the boundary wall of Domjur police station, policemen were also prevented
from coming out to quell the mob. The crowd blocked the police station’s
entrance. Fire engines could be sent to the spot only after the RAF lathi
charged the crowd.

Thousands of people took part in the disturbance, unlike recent sporadic
separatist violence carried out by small groups in Xinjiang. The clashes
echoed the violent protest that rocked Tibet last year and left many
Tibetan communities living under clamped-down security ever since. Tensions
between Uighurs and the majority Han Chinese are never far from the surface
in Xinjiang, a sprawling region rich in minerals and oil that borders eight
Central Asian nations. Many Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers) yearn for
independence and some militants have waged a sporadic, violent separatist
campaign.

The victims were found with gunshot wounds in the head and neck area, and
it appeared they had been shot to death at least two days before their
bodies were found, judicial police chief Marco Chavez said on state
television. “We’re certain that the evidence and the advancements already
made in the investigation will allow us to conclude this investigation,”
Chacon said. Relatives, friends and classmates of three boys had held
vigils and demonstrations in the streets to call for their release.

It costs the city about $36,000 a year to provide shelter for a homeless
family. The average stay in shelter is about nine months. But Mr. Bloomberg
appeared sensitive to the image of flying homeless families to far-flung
places, as the program is set up to do. In the past two years, families
have been provided one-way tickets to Haiti, Peru, Mexico City, St. Croix,
Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Santo Domingo and Casablanca. (The most
popular destinations are Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.)

It was a theme echoed by many MSV participants. Paul Crowley, of the
Climate Law and Policy Project, was nearly moved to tears as he relayed
news that President Obama has said he is willing to work towards a
successful outcome in Copenhagen. But for groups like the Inuits of Alaska,
even a miracle in Copenhagen can’t reverse the damage already done.
Patricia Cochran, an Inupiat Eskimo born and raised in Alaska and current
chair of the ICC, presented a harrowing slideshow of her homeland. In
Shishmaref, homes hug cliffs crumbling because of melting permafrost into
seas more likely to be beset by storm as rising temperatures reduce sea
ice. The media has publicized this town’s problems, but there are half a
dozen other villages just like Shishmaref, noted Cochran. Ice that hunters
have relied on for centuries is melting earlier and shifting in ways locals
don’t understand. Last year a convoy of more than 200 snow mobiles had to
be rescued by helicopter after sea ice unexpectedly broke up, said Cochran.
“There is not one of us without a friend who has taken their snow machine
out and not come back home again,” she said. “That’s what we face every
day. These, in my opinion, are climate related incidents.”

Blast fishing is considered an environmental crime under Nicaraguan law,
punishable by up to four years in prison. Prosecutors can increase jail
time by tacking on illegal weapons possession charges. But prosecuting
cases is difficult because evidence is easily destroyed at sea. Gutierrez
said five fishermen are currently being processed for alleged blast
fishing, but he couldn’t recall the last time anyone went to jail. “They
have a system. It’s almost impossible to arrest them. When they see us
coming, they just sink the bombs in the sea with rocks,” Gutierrez said.
Widespread corruption among local police officers hinders enforcement
efforts, police investigator Gomez said. Many fishermen say police officers
routinely take bribes from bomb manufacturers and their distributors.

Global research by UNICEF, the World Bank and UNESCO has shown we could not
only save a young child from death but we could also help him or her
complete basic education by the age of 13 by investing altogether no more
than $US2,200 per child. Likewise providing micronutrients for the world’s
children who lack essential vitamins and minerals would cost just $US60
million per year and yield annual benefits of more than $1 billion –
implying a 1,500 per cent rate of return. For Pacific leaders this
illustration of the high returns – both in human lives and economic
productivity – for relatively low financial outlays presents a strong case
for paying particular attention to children in economic policy and fiscal
budgets.

“We have received reports that innocent shoppers have been the subject of
allegations of suspected theft and threatened that their cases will not be
heard for several months unless they plead guilty and pay substantial
fines,” says an Irish government travel advisory. It tells shoppers to keep
receipts to avoid “great distress.” The advice was posted after a
41-year-old Irish scientist, who was visiting for an international genetics
symposium, was accused of stealing Bobbi Brown eyeliner. The embassy
declined to discuss details of her case. Britain and Denmark have updated
their online travel advice to warn that Suvarnabhumi’s sprawling duty-free
zone has hard-to-detect demarcation lines between shops and patrons should
not carry unpaid merchandise between them.

“We suppose they were brought from Colombia to the island of San Andres”
and were then transferred to Bluefields, Nicaragua’s main Caribbean port,
“from which they had hoped to continue their journey to the United States
to pursue the American dream,” Deputy Commissioner Rolando Coulson told
reporters. The Colombian island of San Andres, located off Nicaragua’s
Caribbean coast, is used as a transit point for undocumented migrants
headed toward the United States, but many are cheated of their money and
abandoned in Nicaragua, officials say. One of the undocumented migrants,
Lexman Khaatri Chhetri, told the authorities he had spent much of his
savings to reach the American continent.

What climate change’s exact role is, even experts are hard put to answer.
Debate has raged over whether the islands are sinking, if tectonic plates
play a role, and whether sea levels are in fact rising. We do not know much
about science, but we watch helplessly as the tides wash away our shores
year in and year out. We also know that we are losing our cultural heritage
just as the sea relentlessly wipes out our food gardens. To relieve the
land shortage caused by eroding shorelines, in 1984 the government
resettled 10 families from the Carterets to Bougainville, but they returned
to the atoll in 1989 in flight from what began as a protest by landowners
against a mining company and escalated into civil war. Since that time, and
despite many promises, very little has been done by the Bougainville or PNG
government to assist Islanders’ relocation efforts. Tired of empty
promises, the Carterets Council of Elders formed a non-profit association
in late 2006 to organise the voluntary relocation of most of the Carterets’
population of 3,300.

Locals have demanded the removal of the unauthorised bus stand repeatedly.
They say rows of buses are parked on either side of the road — one of the
main thoroughfares of Domjur. This, along with rows of unauthorised shops
and stalls have reduced the road’s width to that of a narrow lane. Locals
allege that in spite of repeated complaints, Domjur police have allowed the
menace to thrive right under its nose.

Uighurs make up the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang, but not in the
capital of Urumqi, which has attracted large numbers of Han Chinese
migrants. The city of 2.3 million is now about overwhelmingly Chinese — a
source of frustration for native Uighurs who say they are being squeezed
out. About 1,000 to 3,000 Uighur demonstrators had gathered in the regional
capital for a protest that apparently spun out of control. Accounts
differed over what happened, but the violence seemed to have started when
the crowd of protesters refused to disperse. The official Xinhua News
Agency reported hundreds of people were arrested and checkpoints ringed the
city to prevent rioters from escaping. Mobile phone service provided by at
least one company was cut to stop people from organizing further action in
Xinjiang. Internet access was blocked or unusually slow in Urumqi. Videos
and text updates about the riots were removed from China-based social
networking sites such as Youku, a YouTube-like video service, and Fanfou, a
Chinese micro-blogging Web site similar to Twitter. A Fanfou search for
posts with the key word Urumqi turned up zero results while Twitter, which
is hosted overseas, yielded hundreds of comments in Chinese and English.
Major Chinese portals such as Sina.com, Sohu.com and 163.com relied solely
on Xinhua for news of the event and turned off the comment function at the
bottom of the stories so people could not publicly react.

The killings come just days after a prominent Italian-born businessman,
74-year-old Filippo Sindoni, was abducted and killed. That case prompted
Italy’s foreign minister to ask Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s
government to do everything possible to end the kidnappings of Italians in
the country. Officials in Italy said an Italian businesswoman and her
3-year-old son were freed two months after being abducted in Venezuela.
Four men were arrested for their roles in the crime, officials said.
Violent robberies, kidnappings and murders are frequent in Venezuela. There
were 9,402 homicides reported in 2005, slightly down from 2004, according
to government statistics.

“The average cost is trivial,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Most go by bus. Very
few go overseas, very few go long distances. Bus is the normal ways we pay
for transportation, rather than air.” In fact, the most common mode of
travel for families in the program is air, not bus. Forty-eight percent
travel by airplane; 37 percent by bus; and 15 percent by train, according
to city data.

“We will not assume the role of powerless victims, we will do everything we
can to ensure our people who have been here for centuries will be here for
centuries more.” Nick Illauq, deputy mayor of the remote Baffin Island
community of Clyde River, in Nunavut, an autonomous Inuit territory at the
top of Canada, voiced concerns about another type of visitor. “We know the
Earth is changing,” said Illauq, “everyone is rushing to the Arctic to get
our resources. To me, that’s my biggest fear. We are very poor, we ask for
money and we don’t get it. We know we are destroying [the Earth] and yet we
rush to find resources. It’s not just the Inuit anymore, it’s not just the
caribou, it’s the baby being born anywhere right now that is going to have
to face all this crap in the future. Imagine what they are going to have to
face! And it’s our fault.”

But Gutierrez is hopeful that a one-year program to educate fishermen about
the pitfalls of the practice is finally paying off. One month, for the
first time, fishermen turned in more than 311 bombs. “We’ve been trying to
persuade them in meetings,” Gutierrez said. But Medina believes blast
fishing is more widespread than authorities suspect. He says virtually
every fisherman he knows has traded in traditional nets, lines and hooks
for explosives. And the handful of clandestine bombmakers who sell
explosives for about $2 apiece are making more powerful explosives, he
adds. Most recently, Nicaraguan police caught two fishermen with 10-pound
bombs wrapped in cement bags – more destructive and risky than the usual
sardine-can-size bombs. Medina says even 15-pound bombs are now available
on the black market. Injuries and deaths Medina also says some bombs have
exploded while being handled by colleagues, causing loss of life and limbs.
In the past three years, Corinto authorities have reported two deaths, nine
cases of lost limbs and two men who were blinded by explosions.

Governments in the Pacific must not stray from their commitments to
children and women at this time of crisis. They must take all necessary
measures to enhance the role of women as economic agents and to protect
social sector budgets, especially to maintain and, if warranted, expand
essential social services for children and women. There are already
alarming signs that budget cuts have been made or are on their way. Budget
cuts are not necessarily bad, if there is greater efficiency and if the cut
does not impact on social protection measures, it can produce a benefit.
But social protection budgets are all too often a victim of the budget
razor.

British couple Stephen Ingram, 49, and Xi Lin, 45, technology experts from
Cambridge, took the alleged scam public. Their ordeal was pieced together
based on accounts from police, airport and embassy officials and an
interview the couple gave to British media. The couple was approached by
airport security before boarding a flight to London and told that security
cameras showed they had taken a Givenchy wallet. King Power, the company
that owns the duty-free store, has posted CCTV footage on its Web site that
appears to show Lin putting her hand in her bag while browsing a wallet
display. The security guards found nothing, but turned the couple over to
police, said Sombat Dechapanichkul, managing director of King Power Duty
Free Co. “We are not aware of what happened next. It was then the job of
the police to proceed with the case,” said Sombat. Ingram told The Sunday
Times of London that they were questioned at an airport police office and
then transferred to a nearby police station where their passports were
confiscated and they spent the night in jail. The next morning they were
introduced to a translator — a Sri Lankan named Tony — who said he could
arrange bail and get their case dropped, warning it could otherwise drag on
for months. Tony took them to a nearby motel, called the Valentine Resort,
Ingram said. The couple managed a visit to the British Embassy but then
returned to the hotel fearing Tony, who had warned they would be watched,
Ingram said.

The association was named Tulele Peisa, which means “sailing the waves on
our own”. This name choice reflects the elders’ desire to see Carteret
Islanders remain strong and self-reliant, not becoming dependent on food
handouts for their survival. After much hard work, the first five fathers
moved to Tinputz, onto land donated by the Catholic Church. These fathers
are already building gardens so that their wives and children can join them
later when there is food. “I have volunteered to relocate as I would like
my family to be able to plant food crops like taro, banana, casava, yams
and other vegetables that we cannot grow on the island,” said Charles
Tsibi. “I also want my family to grow some cash crops like cocoa to sustain
our future life here in Marau, Tinputz.” According to a recent Tulele Peisa
survey, 80 other families would like to move immediately and 50 wish to
move later on. Twenty families have already relocated on their own. Thirty
families remain unsure about relocating.

State-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) has issued an
international tender to import 8,000 tonnes of whole, husked red lentils.
The tendered cargo should include 3,000 tonnes of category A and 5,000
tonnes of category B whole, husked red lentils. TCB classified lentil
grains measuring 1.50-3.00 mm commonly known as Nepali/Indian variety and
3.50-4.50 mm Turkish variety as category A and category B respectively. A
tenderer may offer for both or either of the two items to supply the cargo,
to Chittagong port. Most of Bangladesh’s population of nearly 150 million
eat lentils along with the country’s staple food, rice, every day. It is
now sold at 110 taka ($1.60) per kg. Commerce ministry officials said more
essential commodities would be imported to keep prices stable especially
during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. ($1=69.06 taka)

The demonstrators were demanding justice for two Uighurs killed last month
during a fight with Han Chinese co-workers at a factory in southern China.
Uighur activists and exiles say the millions of Han Chinese who have
settled here in recent years are gradually squeezing the Turkic people out
of their homeland. But many Chinese believe the Uighurs are backward and
ungrateful for the economic development the Chinese have brought to the
poor region. Wu Nong, director of the news office of the Xinjiang
provincial government, said more than 260 vehicles were attacked or set on
fire and 203 shops were damaged. She said 140 people were killed and 828
injured in the violence. She did not say how many of the victims were Han
or Uighurs.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported that it had seized 36 bales of cocaine valued
at $55 million off Venezuela’s coast during a routine Caribbean patrol. The
crew of a go-fast boat threw the drugs into the sea when they spotted the
Coast Guard personnel on board the British frigate HMS Iron Duke. The
British and U.S. forces had detected the boat some 40 kilometers (25 miles)
west of Curacao, an island north of Venezuela. The Coast Guardsmen managed
to recover the drug packets from the water and, after boarding and
inspecting the go-fast boat, arrested four men, according to a communique.
“This is an outstanding example of the partnership between the U.S. and our
regional and NATO colleagues to stem the flow of illegal narcotics to
Europe and North America,” said Capt. Steven A. Banks, the head of Law
Enforcement for District Seven.

Kenya will register SIM cards to fight crime. The problem of criminals
using unregistered numbers became apparent last year during post-election
violence. After several months of battling criminals who have been using
untraceable mobile-phone numbers, the Kenyan government has given a
six-month ultimatum to mobile service operators to streamline registration
of SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards. The challenge of criminals using
unregistered numbers became apparent last year during post-election
problems when people used SMS (Short Message Service) messages to instigate
violence. The police had no way of identifying the culprits because there
was no registration information linked to the phones used.

The heaviest rainfall in 53 years left at least 10 people dead and
thousands stranded in floods across Bangladesh’s capital. Dhaka residents
were still escaping the rain while traffic ground to a halt with 80 percent
of roads underwater. The national weather office said more than 33cm of
rain fell in the city within 12 hours – the most in a single day since
1956. Thousands in low-lying areas of the city were isolated, while 10
people were electrocuted by broken power lines in their homes. Some
residents are frustrated at the situation. [Shakina Begum, Resident]: “We
are now stuck in rain water. The whole area is flooded. We are facing a
serious shortage of drinking water, our children can’t go to school, and we
can’t go shopping. We are facing a serious problem and can’t go anywhere.”
Forecasts are for more rain in the next few days. Flooding caused by
monsoon rains is common in Bangladesh, a delta nation of 150 million
people.

Medina only works at night, where he and his colleagues stick a flashlight
into the water to attract fish – usually sardines – before dropping bombs
anchored by rocks. The explosion, which kills everything within a 10-foot
radius, sends a few dozen sardines into the boat that are later used as
bait to attract larger fish such as snapper. Fishermen jump in with snorkel
masks to net remaining fish that float around the boat. Bigger explosives
cause an even greater radius of dead or stunned fish and require scuba gear
to dive deep into the ocean. “They go out to sea with one bomb and bring in
400 kilos (880 pounds) of fish,” Medina said of fishermen who use larger
bombs. As the resource is depleted by blast fishing, fishermen are now
lucky to bring in 100 kilos of fish on a given trip instead of 400 kilos a
decade ago, Medina says. While Medina and other local fishermen claim they
have little choice but to use explosives, Helen Fox of the World Wildlife
Foundation says they are motivated by making a quick buck. “It’s a case of
greed rather than need,” said Fox. But Medina says he has little recourse
in a nation with the second-lowest annual per capita income in the Western
Hemisphere at $3,000. “We’re deteriorating the fauna,” he said. “But
there’s no other way to bring money home.”

Of course the budget of many Pacific countries lack the reserves to respond
fully to such an economic crisis. It is therefore important that donors
maintain their aid commitments to the Pacific and ensure investments
benefit those most in need. To the Australian Government’s credit it has
maintained, even slightly increased, its aid budget. It is now hoped
Australia – as host of this year’s Pacific Island Forum – can also
facilitate a policy response across the Pacific that is going to shield the
most vulnerable – children and women – from the ravages of this economic
crisis.

An investigation found that the couple transferred into Tony’s bank account
400,000 baht ($11,800) — half for bail and the other half for Tony’s
“fees,” said police Col. Teeradej Panurak, who oversaw the case. “Tony came
in to translate for us. We can’t control what the accused agree to with a
translator,” said Teeradej. He said the couple was released because there
was not enough evidence to press charges. A visiting British government
official recently raised the case with Thai authorities, and the British
Embassy was consulting other embassies about the alleged scam.

Turning to crime, home invasions: it’s the term for armed attacks on
families in the confines of their homes. And these types of crimes seem to
be getting more frequent throughout the country. There was the most recent
invasion upstairs of Tow Tow Grocery on Fairweather Street in Belize City.
The victims were elderly mother and her daughter – both Belizean Americans
vacationing from Los Angeles. The incident happened quite early in the
night, while seventy-two year old Olive Arnold was in her bed watching the
local news. Her daughter, Rose Holland, was on the front porch with a
cousin while the thieves entered through the back door. The mother and
daughter just arrived in town and have been returning to Belize every year
since 1985. Holland feels the culprits had been planning to pounce since
the day they arrived and the experience has shaken them up so much that
they are not coming back home in a hurry.

Tulele Peisa’s plan is for Carteret Islanders to be voluntarily relocated
to three locations on Bougainville (Tinputz, Tearouki and Mabiri) over the
next 10 years. Our immediate need is for funding so that we can accomplish
the initial 3-year phase of our Carterets Integrated Relocation Programme.
The list of objectives is long and challenging but our plan is holistic so
we have faith it will succeed. Firstly, the three host towns have a
population of 10,000 and we are cognisant of the many complexities involved
in integrating the Carteret people into existing communities that are
geographically, culturally, politically and socially different. Therefore
exchange programs involving chiefs, women and youth from host communities
and the Carterets are in progress for establishing relationships and
understanding. While this is going well, the next urgent steps include
securing more land and surveying and pegging site boundaries. Next comes
constructing housing and infrastructure for 120 families. With the help of
the Catholic Church in Bougainville, the relocation programme aims to
provide design and carpentry services and local materials for basic housing
for these families. We also need to get on with implementing agricultural
and income generation projects (like the rehabilitation of cocoa and
coconut blocks), as well as education, health and community development
training programmes.

Xinhua said several hundred people had been arrested in connection with the
riot and police were searching for about 90 other “key suspects.” It also
quoted a local police chief as saying the death toll was expected to rise.
Uighur exiles condemned the crackdown. “We are extremely saddened by the
heavy-handed use of force by the Chinese security forces against the
peaceful demonstrators,” said Alim Seytoff, vice president of the
Washington, D.C.-based Uyghur American Association. “We ask the
international community to condemn China’s killing of innocent Uighurs.
This is a very dark day in the history of the Uighur people,” he said. The
association, led by a former prominent Xinjiang businesswoman now living in
America, Rebiya Kadeer, estimated that 1,000 to 3,000 people took part in
the protest. Xinjiang Governor Nur Bekri said in a televised address early
Monday that Uighur exiles led by Kadeer of caused the violence, saying,
“Rebiya had phone conversations with people in China in order to incite,
and Web sites such as Uighurbiz.cn and Diyarim.com were used to orchestrate
the incitement and spread propaganda.” A government statement quoted by
Xinhua said the violence was “a pre-empted, organized violent crime. It is
instigated and directed from abroad and carried out by outlaws in the
country.”

Later, the government also admitted defeat in an SMS scam believed to be
perpetrated by death-row inmates. The scheme tricked unsuspecting
subscribers into thinking they had won prizes and were required to send
money through the mobile M-Pesa service in order to collect the winnings.
The police recovered phones believed to be used in the scam in a
maximum-security prison, but could not pin down who the owners were due to
a lack of registration information. “To guard against these tendencies, I
am directing the Ministry of Information and Communication to put in place
an elaborate databank that will ensure all mobile telephone subscribers are
registered,” said Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. Mobile service providers
Zain and Safaricom embraced the idea but noted that registration is not a
panacea to fighting crime. “The issue of subscriber registration has been
oversimplified by the political class and, in itself, it is not a panacea
for addressing rising incidents of crime,” said Michael Joseph, Safaricom
CEO.

Blast or dynamite fishing stuns or kills fish for easy gathering. This
illegal practice indiscriminately kills large numbers of fish and other
marine organisms and can damage or destroy surrounding ecosystems such as
coral reefs. Although outlawed, the practice remains widespread in some 40
nations in Central America, Southeast Asia, the Aegean Sea and Africa,
environmental groups say. In the Philippines, blast fishing dates to before
World War I. During World War II, dynamite-wielding Japanese troops
popularized the practice in Indonesia. Nicaraguan fishermen say the
practice was introduced by bomb-wielding rebels of El Salvador’s Farabundo
Marti Liberation Front seeking a new livelihood after a 12-year civil war
in that country ended in 1992. Fishermen typically use commercial dynamite
or homemade bombs with glass bottles or cans layered with powdered
potassium nitrate and pebbles or ammonium nitrate and a kerosene mixture.

But one lawyer has taken issue with the directive, arguing that the
government’s approach is wrong because registration of subscribers is all
about capturing personal information, which is one of the most vexing legal
issues in the information technology sector. “What we need is very clear
law governing the collection and use of personal information. We failed to
include such a law in the Kenya Communications Amendment Act, and now we
want to patch it up with a presidential directive,” said Michael Murungi, a
Nairobi lawyer. Murungi says there is need to identify the subscribers of
mobile phones in order to deter phone-aided crime, but there is an even
more compelling need for a clear legal framework for the collection, use of
and management of personal information.

A husband and wife from Britain were seriously wounded in a machete attack
in Tobago, police said, comparing the home invasion to a similar one last
year that killed a Swedish couple on the Caribbean island. Authorities
identified the victims as Peter Greene, 65, and his wife, Marion, 59, but
declined to provide details about them or the attack on an island that has
been considered the safer part of the twin-island nation of Trinidad and
Tobago. “It’s a matter of serious concern, this is another serious attack
on tourists,” police superintendent Nadir Khan said. The couple were
airlifted to a regional medical center in Trinidad, but authorities did not
release details about their condition.

Olive Arnold, Victim of Home Invasion “This person come over me and tell me
be quiet. Now I’m not going to be quiet, then he go like – I couldn’t see
his face, he have on a brown cap and a brown shirt and ih gun. And ih tell
me be quiet and I tell him I’m not going to be quiet and I scream. I holler
for them out there and by the time they come to the door, one in a white
t-shirt follow the other one and they all run downstairs.” Rose Holland,
Victim of Home Invasion “I heard my mom screaming so I thought maybe she
fall so I ran in here and when me and Ms. Carol get to the door the guy
standing here and point the gun so we took off back. And they ran behind us
and start chasing us. All three of us fall down on the ground and they jump
on me and say give me everything you got. They tried to pull my bracelet
off and they scratched my hand. When they couldn’t get this off they popped
my Rolex chain off my neck. And they tackled my girlfriend. And she tell
them do you guys know who I am. I’m the mother of so and so. And they say
they don’t care and they popped her chain off too. And then they hopped the
fence back and they left.” Olive Arnold “First, I was gonna come back home
and live, now I tell them no I cannot because the younger generation them
is scandalous. I cannot come back home to live. They take guns like you’re
birds in the air – pop, you know, I’m scared for my life. I’m not coming
back in a hurry right now but I have to come back, but not to live.”

“The plan is slow to achieve but covers all areas dealing with human
relations and has adaptation alternatives, such as small cash income
activities for relocated families,” said elder Tony Tologina, chief of the
Naboin clan. On the long term, we want to build the capacity of Tulele
Peisa to be certain it can carry out its objectives and also develop it as
a resource agency for the Carterets and host communities on Bougainville.
“Tulele Peisa is our own initiative and will continue to co-ordinate and
facilitate the relocation of our island people. After the relocation, TP
will continue to provide monitoring and evaluation skills and further focus
on development options available to our people,” said Rufina Moi, woman
chief. An important part of the programme is that it will also set up a
Conservation and Marine Management Area that will let Carteret Islanders
make sustainable use of our ancestral marine resources. To keep the links
between the relocated Carterets people and their home island, sea resources
and any remaining clan members (who are not yet relocated), the plan
includes developing an equitable sea transport service for freight and
passengers. “In the future, we will keep coming to these reefs and manage
them as our fishing ground,” explained community youth leader Nicholas
Hakata. “When our children come back, they will have a connection to their
heritage.”

Ilham Tohti, a Uighur economics professor at Central Nationalities
University in Beijing and founder of Uighurbiz.cn — one of the implicated
Web sites — said “the relevant authorities” were questioning him about his
Web site. His site has become a lively forum for many issues about Chinese
rule in Xinjiang. Xinjiang’s top Communist Party official, Wang Lequan,
called the incident “a profound lesson learned in blood” and said
authorities “must take the most resolute and strongest measures to deal
with the enemies’ latest attempt at sabotage.” “We also must expose Rebiya
and those like her … we must tear away Rebiya’s mask and let the world see
her true nature.” Seytoff dimissed the accusations against Kadeer. “It’s
common practice for the Chinese government to accuse Ms. Kadeer for any
unrest” in Xinjiang, he said.

Trinidad & Tobago’s Newsday reported that Marion Greene was in serious but
stable condition and that her husband was in critical condition after being
placed in a medically induced coma to treat severe head injuries. Deputy
British Commissioner Jeff Patton described the attack as a “horrible crime”
but declined to discuss it further. Originally from Reading, England, the
couple had been living in the town of Bacolet along Tobago’s southern coast
off-and-on for 10 years. Khan told reporters that robbery has not been
ruled out as a motive and said it was similar to the unsolved killing in
October of Anna Sundsval, 62, and Oke Olsoon, 73, at their home in the Bon
Accord area of Tobago, about 7 miles (10 kilometers) from where the latest
incident occurred. Authorities detained a suspect in that case but released
him for lack of evidence. Khan said his department is “working assiduously”
on the case, but complained of a lack of leads.

Rose Holland “I came in and I guess when they saw me came in, they saw my
car and saw my jewelry and stuff cause I usually wear a lot of jewelry when
I come to Belize. But for one time this year I decided only to wear a few.
And one of my neighbours told me be careful because they are watching you,
be careful. She told me that the morning, which was yesterday morning. Then
in the night, that’s what made me went on the porch, they called me again,
be careful because I guess they hear the plot of what’s going on, so
they’re advising me. How could they have the audacity to just walk in a
person’s home with a gun and look and an ageable lady, be quiet. That is
wrong.”

“We have fully documented our process since beginning our plan and will
continue to, for the sake of developing a model relocation programme,” said
Thomas Bikta, a chief from Piul Island. “At the same time, we are
developing and formulating a Carterets relocation policy that we will
advocate to the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the rest of the
world,” Bikta added. We also intend to build an alliance of vulnerable
Pacific communities impacted by climate change who can lobby and advocate
for justice and policies that recognise and support those affected. We
think the Papua New Guinea government must set an example of such policies
by re-developing the Atolls Integrated Development policy and beginning a
recognized financing mechanism similar to REDD (Reducing Emissions from
Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries). The
committee or board of which must include all relevant stakeholders,
including community representation and other expertise, not just government
officials.

The clashes in Urumqi echoed last year’s unrest in Tibet, when a peaceful
demonstration by monks in the capital of Lhasa erupted into riots that
spread to surrounding areas, leaving at least 22 dead. The Chinese
government accused Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of
orchestrating the violence — a charge he denied. Seytoff said he had heard
from two sources that at least two dozen people had been killed by gunfire
or crushed by armored police vehicles just outside Xinjiang University.
Mamet, a 36-year-old restaurant worker, said he saw People’s Armed Police
attack students outside Xinjiang University. “First they fired tear gas at
the students. Then they started beating them and shooting them with
bullets. Big trucks arrived, and students were rounded up and arrested,”
Mamet said. Wang Kui, an official with the Foreign Affairs Department at
the university, said she aware of no such incident. She said no students
from the university were among those killed or injured. “We are not
allowing students to come and go because the situation is chaotic at the
moment,” Wang said. “All the students are at school, and we are taking care
of them. But we are not clear about what’s been going on outside.”

A renowned Scottish gemstone expert was brutally murdered in Kenya by a mob
armed with machetes, clubs, spears — even bows and arrows — in what police
believe was the final fight in a years-long mining dispute. A group of at
least 30 men attacked Campbell Bridges, 71, his son Bruce, and four Kenyan
employees near the Tsavo National Park, a popular tourist site in the
Kenyan bush known for its lions. “My men were cut to ribbons and I took a
panga [machete] to the neck. It was an ambush.” said Bruce Bridges. The
murder was the bloody culmination of a three-year battle between squatters
and Bridges — a senior jewel consultant with Tiffany and Company in New
York. The squatters have reportedly stolen rare tsavorite gems from
Bridges’ team in the past. Bridges’ son charges the local miners with
illegally digging for gems on the family’s 600-hectare property. He also
adds that the Bridges family has received repeated death threats, the most
recent one coming just two weeks ago. “As we drove towards our mining camp
we found huge thorn trees blocking the road. Eight men with machetes,
spears, clubs, knives, bows and arrows appeared shouting ‘We’re going to
kill you all!’ Then more people came down the mountain like ants, 20 or 30
of them,” Bridges said. According to his son, Campbell Bridges was attacked
by two men and was stabbed in the side.

Four Uighur detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba were
recently released and relocated to Bermuda despite Beijing’s objections
because U.S. officials have said they fear the men would be executed if
they returned to China. Officials have also been trying to transfer 13
others to the Pacific nation of Palau. The men were captured in Afghanistan
and Pakistan in 2001, but the U.S. later determined they were not “enemy
combatants.” Previous mass protests in Xinjiang that were quelled by armed
forces became signal events for the separatist movement. In 1990, about 200
Uighurs shouting for holy war protested through Baren, a town near the
Afghan border, resulting in violence that left at least two dozen people
dead. In 1997, amid a wave of bombings and assassinations, a protest by
several hundred Uighurs in the city of Yining against religious
restrictions turned into an anti-Chinese uprising that left at least 10
dead. In both cases pro-independence groups said the death tolls were
several times higher, and the government never conducted a public
investigation into the events.

The women say they don’t know who their attackers were but they feel they
were held up by two men in their twenties who live in the same area.
Holland said the thieves also stole her cell phone which was in her bedroom
near the back door. While police have not yet retrieved any of the stolen
items, they have detained four suspects. Police believe that while only two
committed the robbery, it was planned by the four suspects. And while they
are in custody now, they are concerned that there will be retaliation
because the other victim who was visiting the home at the time is the
mother of a notorious George Street character.

7/7/2009

ABANDONED AMAZON INDIAN EXPLOSIVES ILLEGALLY FLOW FROM HUNGRY MISKITO BATTLE IN TRINIDAD MURDER CAPITAL'S COCA-COLA ZERO MAOIST RAMPAGE CONFIRMING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES A/H1N1 FLOOD-PRONE FLU CASES SO THAT THAI WHEAT STEM RUST MOSQUE ATTACK BANS VENEZUELA DENGUE DUCKS INSTEAD OF PERU SPAM CHICKENS

About 500 heavily armed Maoists encircled Chonha village under Dumaria
police station of Gaya district and blasted the primary health centre,
middle school building and community hall in the village using dynamite
sticks and other explosives. Earlier, the Naxalites had blown up a police
building in the same village. Incidentally, it was the eighth Maoist attack
in the district this month.

Influenza A/H1N1 continued to spread on with more confirmed cases reported
worldwide. Chilean health authorities confirmed the nation’s second death
from the new A/H1N1 flu in a man of 49. The man died and medical tests
confirmed the diagnosis. Five more A/H1N1 flu cases were confirmed in
Nicaragua, raising the total number of infected cases in the country to 26.

Gunmen killed 10 people and wounded 12 others when they opened fire with
automatic weapons at a mosque during evening prayers in Thailand’s restive
Muslim south. A rubber tapper was also shot dead and nine soldiers were
wounded by a roadside bomb, on one of the worst days of violence in the
region bordering Malaysia where a shadowy insurgency has rumbled since
2004. Police said at least five gunmen sprayed bullets into the mosque in
the Cho Airong district of Narathiwat, one of three mainly Muslim provinces
where more than 3,000 people have died in years of near daily bomb and gun
attacks.

The United States has created a new system for waging war. Where you no
longer have to depend exclusively on your own citizens to sign up for the
military and say, “I believe in this war, so I’m willing to sign up and
risk my life for it.” You turn the entire world into your recruiting
ground. You intricately link corporate profits to an escalation of warfare
and make it profitable for companies to participate in your wars. In the
process of doing that you undermine U.S. democratic processes. And you also
violate the sovereignty of other nations, ’cause you’re making their
citizens in combatants in a war to which their country is not a party. The
end game of all of this could well be the disintegration of the nation
state apparatus in the world. And it could be replaced by a scenario where
you have corporations with their own private armies.

A Council of Elders of the Miskito indigenous people on Nicaragua’s
Caribbean coast, citing the central government’s opening of the region to
corporate exploitation with little return to local residents, have
announced their secession from the country and declaration of a
“Communitarian Nation of Mosquitia.” But the ruling Sandinista government
are charging that the US embassy has fomented the move. Upon declaring
independence, Miskito Elders and their supporters seized the headquarters
of the ruling party of the autonomous region, Yatama, or “Sons of Mother
Earth,” in Puerto Cabezas. No move was taken to remove them, but National
Police seized the locally caught green sea turtle meat they planned to
consume at their celebratory feast, on the grounds that it is an endangered
species. The occupiers were finally ousted from the party headquarters by
Yatama adherents.

Across the globe, as mining and oil firms race for dwindling resources,
indigenous peoples are battling to defend their lands – often paying the
ultimate price. It has been called the world’s second “oil war”, but the
only similarity between Iraq and events in the jungles of northern Peru has
been the mismatch of force. On one side have been the police armed with
automatic weapons, teargas, helicopter gunships and armoured cars. On the
other are several thousand Awajun and Wambis Indians, many of them in war
paint and armed with bows and arrows and spears. In some of the worst
violence seen in Peru in 20 years, the Indians warned Latin America what
could happen if companies are given free access to the Amazonian forests to
exploit an estimated 6bn barrels of oil and take as much timber they like.
After months of peaceful protests, the police were ordered to use force to
remove a road bock near Bagua Grande.

A ‘time bomb’ for world wheat crop. The Ug99 fungus, called stem rust,
could wipe out more than 80% of the world’s wheat as it spreads from
Africa, scientists fear. The race is on to breed resistant plants before it
reaches the U.S. The sample spores arrived from Kenya on dried, infected
leaves ensconced in layers of envelopes. The suspended fungal spores in a
light mineral oil were sprayed onto thousands of healthy wheat plants.
After two weeks, the stalks were covered with deadly reddish blisters
characteristic of the scourge known as Ug99.

Venezuela’s Health Ministry said it has banned Coca-Cola Zero because it
failed to declare the use of an artificial sweetener allegedly harmful to
the health. Health officials said tests show the no-calorie soft drink
contains a sweetener called sodium cyclamate — charges Coca-Cola Co.
denies. The sweetener’s use is not prohibited in Venezuela. But the
ministry said the company failed to declare sodium cyclamate as an
ingredient in Coca-Cola Zero when it received its initial health permit to
begin selling the product. Coca-Cola is “failing to comply with sanitary
norms,” the ministry said.

Scientists have devised a new system that can predict outbreaks of dengue
fever with 60 per cent accuracy. The system, predicts outbreaks based on
sea temperature and changes in vegetation making predictions up to 40 weeks
in advance. The model could act as an early warning system, allowing
countries to be better prepared for the likelihood of an outbreak. About
two-thirds of the world’s population live in areas infested with mosquitoes
that transmit dengue fever. The new system can be used in Africa, Asia,
Latin America and the Caribbean, which are prone to the fever.

With a steady rise in violent crime including an alarming increase in
homicides, Trinidad and Tobago has overtaken Jamaica as the “murder capital
of the Caribbean”. While homicides increased two percent in Jamaica in
2008, murders were up a staggering 38 percent in Trinidad and Tobago.
Although much of the violence is gang-related, in recent years tourists
have increasingly become targets for robbery, sexual assault and murder.

After blasting the three centres, the Maoists raided the two-storey house
of Maqsood Khan, a big farmer and former mukhiya of Narainpur panchayat of
the Naxal-infested Dumaria block. Using walkie-talkies, they directed the
four female inmates of the house, including the farmer’s wife, daughter and
two maid servants, to move out of the house as they were going to blow it.
Once the womenfolk came out, the Maoists conducted what they call “seizure
of the movable assets”. After emptying the house, they looted about 100
quintals of rice, an equal quantity of wheat, 10 quintals of gram, potatoes
and onions, clothes, about 100 grams of gold jewellery and one kg of silver
ornaments besides utensils — the Maoists blew up the sprawling two-storey
house.

Cuba reported its fifth confirmed case of A/H1N1 flu in a 62-year-old
Canadian woman. Uruguayan health authorities reported four new A/H1N1
influenza cases, bringing the total in the country to 22. Three of them are
students from private colleges in Montevideo and the other is a woman who
recently returned from the United States and lives in the western Uruguayan
province of Rio Negro. The Dominican Republic’s Health Ministry reported 16
new cases of A/H1N1 flu, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 60.
There are a total of about 400 samples awaiting testing in a special
laboratory.

“The gunmen sneaked into the mosque and opened fire as the victims kneeled
on the floor praying.” The brazen attack was one of three in Narathiwat
province, which has seen a surge in violence. A Buddhist rubber tapper was
shot dead by unknown gunmen on a motorcycle in Rangae district and nine
soldiers were wounded, one seriously, when a powerful roadside bomb
exploded under their vehicle in neighboring Rueso district.

The President of Peru’s Amazon Indian organisation AIDESEP has been forced
into exile. Alberto Pizango sought refuge in the Nicaraguan embassy in
Peru’s capital Lima after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Nicaragua
has granted him asylum. Pizango was charged with `sedition, conspiracy and
rebellion’ following the violent confrontation between hundreds of
indigenous protesters blockading a road near the town of Bagua in northern
Peru, and riot police intent on breaking up the protest. The violent
tactics used by the police, firing automatic weapons at Indians who were
peacefully protesting, resulted in many deaths on both sides.

Yatama said the eviction was peaceful. “We’re not going to fight between
Miskito and Miskito,” the regional governor, said. “It’s not that we’re
afraid of that movement.” But Miskito Elders said they were armed. The
National Police apparently did not get involved. The separatists are still
maintaining that they are no longer part of Nicaragua, and have appointed
Héctor Williams as their wihta tara, or great judge. He cited lack of
central government response to devastating hurricanes, a rat plague, and a
mysterious hysteria-causing disease known as grisi siknis.

In the fights that followed, at least 50 Indians and nine police officers
were killed, with hundreds more wounded or arrested. The indigenous rights
group Survival International described it as “Peru’s Tiananmen Square”.
“For thousands of years, we’ve run the Amazon forests,” said Servando
Puerta, one of the protest leaders. “This is genocide. They’re killing us
for defending our lives, our sovereignty, human dignity.” As riot police
broke up more demonstrations in Lima and a curfew was imposed on many
Peruvian Amazonian towns, President Garcia backed down in the face of
condemnation of the massacre. He suspended – but only for three months –
the laws that would allow the forest to be exploited. No one doubts the
clashes will continue.

Nearly all the plants were goners. Crop scientists fear the Ug99 fungus
could wipe out more than 80% of worldwide wheat crops as it spreads from
eastern Africa. It has already jumped the Red Sea and traveled as far as
Iran. Experts say it is poised to enter the breadbasket of northern India
and Pakistan, and the wind will inevitably carry it to Russia, China and
even North America — if it doesn’t hitch a ride with people first. “It’s a
time bomb. It moves in the air, it can move in clothing on an airplane. We
know it’s going to be here. It’s a matter of how long it’s going to take.”

The ministry urged Venezuelans to refrain from sampling the drink, saying
it is “considered harmful to the health.” The U.S. prohibits the use of
cyclamates in human food because of health safety concerns. Sales of
Coca-Cola Zero elsewhere in Latin America have met with resistance over the
sweetener’s use. But Rosy Alvarez, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Servicios de
Venezuela, said that Coca-Cola Zero sold in Venezuela uses other artificial
sweeteners. “No ingredient of Coca-Cola Zero is harmful to peoples’
health,” she said. The local affiliate is nevertheless complying with
Venezuela’s order and has begun halting production, she said. The company
is in discussions with the Venezuelan government. Coca-Cola sells many
other soft drinks in Venezuela including Coca-Cola Classic, Chinoto,
Frescolita and Hit.

An Australian man with multiple serious ailments, including swine flu,
died, but authorities say they can’t be sure whether it was the virus that
killed him. The 26-year-old Aboriginal man could be the first person in the
Asia-Pacific to die from swine flu, which has swept rapidly through the
region but without the fatal impact it has had in the hardest hit countries
such as Mexico and the United States where dozens have died. Bangladesh,
Laos and Papua New Guinea all reported their first cases, while infections
continued to rise sharply in Thailand. Authorities in New Zealand said
widespread transmission of the virus meant it likely had more than 1,000
cases. The World Health Organization declared swine flu a pandemic. More
than 39,000 cases had been reported worldwide, with 167 deaths. The
Australian fatality was from the impoverished Aborgine minority in a remote
desert community. He died in a hospital in the southern city of Adelaide.
It is not yet known what the patient died of or where he became infected.
Australia has recorded the highest tally of swine flu cases in the
Asia-Pacific, reaching 2,330. Swine flu remained mild in Australia and most
people infected made rapid and full recoveries. New Zealand reported 63 new
cases of swine flu _ taking the national total to 216, but the country
likely had at least 1,000 cases. He said despite widespread transmission in
the community, virtually all the New Zealand cases were mild, with only one
patient so far becoming critically ill. More serious cases were expected
once the virus spreads. Officials were moving to ‘manage’ the spread of the
virus after attempting to contain it for two months. Bangladesh confirmed
its first case: a 19-year-old man who had recently returned from the U.S,
the Health Ministry said in a statement. It said he was being treated and
his family members were also under observation. A 27-year-old Australian
visitor has been confirmed as the first case of the virus in Laos, the
official Khaosan Pathet Lao agency reported. The unidentified Australian
has been quarantined but does not need hospitalization.

A Swedish couple was chopped to death in their hotel room in Tobago and two
British females were robbed and sexually assaulted by a bandit who forced
his way into their holiday apartment. The US and the UK issued travel
advisories warning travelers about increasing violence and the failure of
police in Tobago to apprehend and prosecute criminals. “You should be aware
that there are high levels of violent crime, especially shootings and
kidnappings,” states a travel advisory issued by the UK Foreign and
Commonwealth Office. “British nationals have been victims of violent
attacks, particularly in Tobago where law enforcement is weak.” A US travel
advisory issued about the same time warns travelers that armed robbers have
been trailing tourists as they depart international airports in Trinidad
and Tobago.

According to Rizwan, he was in a neighbouring village when the Maoists
started encircling his village. He immediately informed all senior police
officials about it. But the police arrived only after everything was over.
Admitting that she got information about the movement of the Maoists,
Magadh Range DIG Anupama Nilekar claimed that immediate steps were taken
and police parties dispatched to the village. According to the villagers,
the police reached the place a good 15 hours later. The police team was
greeted by “go back” slogans as angry villagers protested against the
apparent police failure. The villagers also raised slogans against senior
police officials.

In Hondura, 24 new cases of the A/H1N1 flu, bringing the country’s total to
56 with 100 more cases to be confirmed. Colombia confirmed one new A/H1N1
flu case, raising the total number of infected cases in the country to 25.
The boy, from Yopal, capital city of the central Casanare province, has had
close contact with a confirmed patient. The European Center for Disease
Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that 26 new A/H1N1 flu cases were
discovered in European countries within the last 24 hours. The new cases
were distributed in Germany, Netherlands, Austria, France and Denmark, it
said.

Nineteen people have been killed and 40 injured in the region’s latest
surge in violence. No group has made a credible claim of responsibility for
any of the attacks in the region, which was an independent Muslim sultanate
until annexed by predominantly Buddhist Thailand a century ago.

At least 30 Indians are thought to have been killed, but indigenous
organisations believe the real figure is significantly higher, and have
accused the police of throwing large numbers of bodies into the MaraÒon
river. More than 20 police officers are also believed to have died. Peru’s
President Alan Garcia has labelled the indigenous protesters `savages’,
`barbaric’, `ignorant’ and `second-class citizens’. The Indians’ protests
started in response to a series of government decrees promoting the opening
up of their lands to oil and gas companies. In recent years more than 70%
of Peru’s Amazon has been auctioned off to oil companies, with the Indians
rarely being consulted.

“We have the right to autonomy and self-government,” Wycleff Diego, the
separatist movement’s ambassador abroad said, holding up a copy of the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Even the government’s
allies concede that the separatists have valid grievances. “We haven’t been
the best administrators of public things, but that doesn’t mean we should
spill blood,” said Steadman Fagoth, a former Miskito guerilla leader who
has recently allied himself with Sandinista President Daniel Ortega. Two
major drilling concessions have been granted off Nicaragua’s Caribbean
coast, but officials fear the separatist movement could scare off
investors. “It’s going to send the signal that you can’t do business in
Nicaragua,” said a chief executive at Infinity Energy, a Denver-based
company. (A maritime border dispute with Honduras and Colombia has also
been an obstacle to offshore oil development.)

Peru is just one of many countries now in open conflict with its indigenous
people over natural resources. Barely reported in the international press,
there have been major protests around mines, oil, logging and mineral
exploitation in Africa, Latin America, Asia and North America. Hydro
electric dams, biofuel plantations as well as coal, copper, gold and
bauxite mines are all at the centre of major land rights disputes. A
massive military force continued this week to raid communities opposed to
oil companies’ presence on the Niger delta. The delta, which provides 90%
of Nigeria’s foreign earnings, has always been volatile, but guns have
flooded in and security has deteriorated. In the last month a military
taskforce has been sent in and helicopter gunships have shelled villages
suspected of harbouring militia. Thousands of people have fled. Activists
from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta have responded by
killing 12 soldiers and this week set fire to a Chevron oil facility.
Yesterday seven more civilians were shot by the military.

Though most Americans have never heard of it, Ug99 — a type of fungus
called stem rust because it produces reddish-brown flakes on plant stalks
— is the No. 1 threat to the world’s most widely grown crop. The
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico estimates that
19% of the world’s wheat, which provides food for 1 billion people in Asia
and Africa, is in imminent danger. American plant breeders say $10 billion
worth of wheat would be destroyed if the fungus suddenly made its way to
U.S. fields. Fear that the fungus will cause widespread damage has caused
short-term price spikes on world wheat markets. Famine has been averted
thus far, but experts say it’s only a matter of time.

The Solomon Islands police commissioner has warned against the practice of
cutting up unexploded wartime bombs to get explosives for fishing.
Commissioner Peter Marshall warned it was a very dangerous practice. He was
announcing that Hells Point, at the eastern end of the international
airport in the capital, Honiara, is out of bounds to the public. Solomon
Islands Broadcasting reports Mr Marshall said the area has been designated
by the Police Explosive Ordinance Division for destroying highly dangerous
products. The area is used to store explosives and ammunition left over
from World War II.

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry, meanwhile, confirmed 71 new cases,
bringing the country’s total to 589, most of them in Bangkok. Elsewhere in
the region, Papua New Guinea became the second South Pacific islands nation
to report a single confirmed case of the infection, after Samoa confirmed
its first case Tuesday. Singapore reported 11 new cases, bringing its total
to 77. Officials said all but two of the infections were contracted abroad.
In Beijing, an American high school student from Massachusetts was admitted
to a hospital with swine flu symptoms, while 14 other students and two
chaperones were quarantined. Numerous travelers have been quarantined over
swine flu concerns in China, including other school groups from California
and Maryland. Hong Kong reported 16 more cases, including seven that were
domestically transmitted. The new infections bring the city’s total to 237.
Malaysia confirmed four new cases of the virus, raising its tally to 27.

“Violent crimes, including assault, kidnapping for ransom, sexual assault
and murder, have involved foreign residents and tourists (and) incidents
have been reported involving armed robbers trailing arriving passengers
from the airport and accosting them in remote areas… the perpetrators of
many of these crimes have not been arrested.” Highest crime rates in the
English-speaking Caribbean, which extends from the Bahamas in the north to
Trinidad & Tobago in the south, averages 30 murders per 100,000 inhabitants
per year, one of the highest rates in the world. By comparison, the murder
rate in both Canada and the UK is about two per 100,000.

$27bn flows out illegally every year from India. Global Financial Integrity
(GFI) — has ranked the country fifth in the list of 160 developing
countries suffering from the outflow of huge amounts of money through
illicit channels.

Many countries in Asia also reported more infections. South Korea’s health
authorities on Monday confirmed one more case of Influenza A/H1N1, raising
the number of confirmed cases to 48 in the country. A 28-year-old man,
recently back from his business trip to New York, showed flu-like symptoms,
and, accordingly, was quarantined at a state-designated hospital. With four
more cases reported in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan’s tally of A/H1N1 flu
infections have amounted to 424. The four patients – three middle school
boys and one primary school boy – tested positive for the new flu after
having run fevers.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s recent takedown of an Internet service
provider thought to be a safe haven for spammers has reduced spam volumes,
but only by a little. Total spam volume dropped by about 15 percent as the
FTC got a court order to pull the plug on a notorious ISP named Pricewert.
which also did business under the name 3FN, was knocked off-line after the
companies that provided it access to the Internet stopped doing business
with it. This happened after the FTC was granted a temporary restraining
order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Frustrated by the refusal of the authorities to negotiate with them,
AIDESEP called for a series of peaceful protests. Indian communities
throughout central and northern Peru have been blockading rivers and roads
in a successful attempt to halt the oil industry traffic. Survival has
called for oil and gas companies in the Amazon to suspend their operations
until the government agrees to peaceful negotiations with the Indians’
representatives; for an independent and impartial inquiry into the tragic
events near Bagua; and for the lifting of all charges against Sr. Pizango.

Puerto Cabezas has twice been rocked by violent protests in recent years:
in 2007, over the central government’s slow response after a devastating
hurricane, and in 2008, when Ortega’s government postponed municipal
elections. Separatist leader Williams, who has enlisted the support of
hundreds of Miskito lobster divers who are protesting a drop in pay as
lobster prices plunge, said he had to discourage the divers from attacking
the party offices after they were re-taken. The separatists say they are
seeking financing to train and equip an army of 1,500. “We’ll defend our
natural resources,” vowed Guillermo Espinoza, the movement’s defense
minister, who was known as Comandante Black Cat during the 1980s war. If no
guns can be procured, he said, the separatists will make weapons
themselves.

The escalation of violence came in the week that Shell agreed to pay £9.7m
to ethnic Ogoni families – whose homeland is in the delta – who had led a
peaceful uprising against it and other oil companies in the 1990s, and who
had taken the company to court in New York accusing it of complicity in
writer Ken Saro-Wiwa’s execution in 1995. Meanwhile in West Papua,
Indonesian forces protecting some of the world’s largest mines have been
accused of human rights violations. Hundreds of tribesmen have been killed
in the last few years in clashes between the army and people with bows and
arrows. “An aggressive drive is taking place to extract the last remaining
resources from indigenous territories,” says Victoria Tauli-Corpus, an
indigenous Filipino and chair of the UN permanent forum on indigenous
issues. “There is a crisis of human rights. There are more and more
arrests, killings and abuses.

A significant humanitarian crisis is inevitable. The solution is to develop
new wheat varieties that are immune to Ug99. That’s much easier said than
done. After several years of feverish work, scientists have identified a
mere half-dozen genes that are immediately useful for protecting wheat from
Ug99. Incorporating them into crops using conventional breeding techniques
is a nine- to 12-year process that has only just begun. And that process
will have to be repeated for each of the thousands of wheat varieties that
is specially adapted to a particular region and climate. “All the seed
needs to change in the next few years. It’s really an enormous
undertaking.”

A Spanish cruise ship hit by an outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus among its
crew headed for its final stop at the Caribbean island of Aruba. The Ocean
Dream, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL.N), was on a week-long cruise
due to end but its itinerary was limited after several crew members came
down with the swine flu. Venezuela confirmed three cases of H1N1 flu among
the ship’s crew when the boat arrived at the island of Margarita and more
than 300 Venezuelan passengers were allowed off. The ship’s remaining 900
passengers and crew are expected to disembark in Aruba, the cruise’s final
stop.

Humanity will achieve the dubious distinction this year of having more than
1 billion members of its species living in hunger for the first time in
history. The number of undernourished is estimated to soar by about 100
million over last year, to 1.02 billion, according to the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The 11 percent surge
in the world’s hungry is primarily a product of the global economic crisis,
combined with persistently high food prices. World economic output is
expected to decline by more than 3 percent this year—the first global
contraction since the Second World War. The economic crisis, the FAO notes,
“has reduced incomes and employment opportunities of the poor and
significantly lowered their access to food.”

With 550 homicides in 2008, Trinidad and Tobago has a rate of about 55
murders per 100,000 making it the most dangerous country in the Caribbean
and one of the most dangerous in the world. The rate of assaults, robbery,
kidnapping and rape in Trinidad and Tobago is also among the highest in the
world. According to a report issued by the United States State Department,
gang-related homicides and other crimes will continue to increase in
Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 and 2010.

“In 2006, total outflows from developing countries outpaced incoming
official development assistance (ODA) by a ratio of 10 to 1. This means
that for every $1 in ODA a developing country received, $10 was lost due to
illicit financial outflows. China topped the list of countries for illicit
outflows with $233bn-$289bn, followed by Saudi Arabia ($54bn-$55bn), Mexico
($41bn-$46bn) and Russia ($32bn-$38bn).

Eight more A/H1N1 flu cases were confirmed on the Chinese mainland,
bringing the total number to 80. Three new cases were reported in Beijing,
including a 12-year-old Chinese boy and two foreigners. The boy studied in
the United States and returned to China from Orlando. Meanwhile, five
people were tested positive for the A/H1N1 influenza virus in Hong Kong
taking the number of confirmed cases of the disease in the city to 38.
Vietnamese authority updated the number of its A/H1N1 flu patients to 13.
The mother and younger sister of the 11th case has been confirmed to be
infected with the virus. The family returned to Vietnam from the United
States and were now isolated and treated at the Nhi Dong No. 1 Hospital.

According to the FTC, Pricewert was home to a host of illegal activity
including the distribution of viruses, phishing, spyware and child
pornography. Pricewert “actively shielded its criminal clientele by either
ignoring take-down requests issued by the on-line security community, or
shifting its criminal elements to other Internet protocol addresses it
controlled to evade detection.” The ISP has said that the alleged criminal
activity on its network was the result of bad customers and not its fault.
Pricewert lists its principal place of business as Belize City, Belize, but
it operated out of a DataPipe data center in San Jose, California.

A new kind of refugee is on the rise. And by 2050, there could be as many
as 200 million of them. CARE official says people in flood-prone Bangladesh
should raise ducks instead of chickens. They are not fleeing despicable
acts of violence or persecution but the very land and water on which their
livelihoods depend. They are some of the world’s poorest, forced from their
homes by global climate change.

A top Sandinista leader, Gustavo Porras, accused Robert Callahan, the US
ambassador to Nicaragua, of conspiring with the separatist movement in Cold
War-era fashion. Callahan—who worked in the US embassy in Honduras when it
was the command center for the Reagan administration’s Contra war in
Nicaragua—denies involvement. “The question regarding any contentious
issues that may exist between parts of the Miskito community and the
government of Nicaragua is a matter for the Nicaraguans, and one that they
themselves must resolve,” he said. Sandinista-aligned Miskito leader
Steadman Fagoth—president of Nicaragua’s Fishing Institute—said he
witnessed Ambassador Callahan and US State Department officials meeting
with separatist leaders in Puerto Cabezas.

“This is happening in Russia, Canada, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mongolia,
Nigeria, the Amazon, all over Latin America, Papua New Guinea and Africa.
It is global. We are seeing a human rights emergency. A battle is taking
place for natural resources everywhere. Much of the world’s natural capital
– oil, gas, timber, minerals – lies on or beneath lands occupied by
indigenous people.” What until quite recently were isolated incidents of
indigenous peoples in conflict with states and corporations are now
becoming common as government-backed companies move deeper on to lands long
ignored as unproductive or wild. As countries and the World Bank increase
spending on major infrastructural projects to counter the economic crisis,
the conflicts are expected to grow.

An ancient adversary, farmers have been battling stem rust for as long as
they have grown wheat. The fungus’ ancestors infected wild grasses for
millions of years before people began cultivating them for food. The
pathogen keeps mutating and evolving. It’s one of our biblical pests. This
is not a small enemy. When a spore lands on a green wheat plant, it forms a
pustule that invades the outer layers of the stalk. The pustule hijacks the
plant’s water and nutrients and diverts them to produce new rust spores
instead of grain. Within two weeks of an initial attack, there can be
millions of pustules in a 2.5-acre patch of land. Wheat plants that can
recognize a specific chemical produced by stem rust can mount a defense
against the fungus. But the rust is able to mutate, evade the plant’s
immune system and resume its spread.

The ship made stops earlier in the week in Barbados and Grenada, but
authorities there refused to let passengers leave the ship. Venezuelan
health authorities that the boat had been quarantined for a week along with
its passengers, who are mainly from Spain, Colombia and Venezuela but also
include Brazilian, British and French citizens. “The boat is continuing its
itinerary in the direction of Aruba, where the rest of the passengers and
the affected crew will disembark,” the company said in a statement.
Barbados refused to let the ship dock because 43 crew members exhibited
flu-like symptoms.

The world’s hungry are concentrated in Asia and the Pacific (642 million),
Sub-Saharan Africa (265 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (53
million), and the Near East and North Africa (42 million). Sub-Saharan
Africa has the highest concentration of hungry, while the Middle East and
North Africa saw the most rapid growth in the number of hungry people (13.5
percent). The agency’s definition of hunger is based on the number of
calories consumed. Depending on the relative age and gender ratios of a
given country, the cutoff varies between 1,600 and 2,000 calories a day. It
is likely the figures significantly underestimate the number of people
suffering from hunger. A study published earlier this year found that 12
million children are at risk of inadequate food in the United States.
Figures estimate the total number of hungry people in the entire “developed
world” (including the US and Europe) at 15 million.

The issue of money taken illegally abroad and stashed in tax havens has
recently acquired prominence because of the feeling, encouraged by the
global slowdown, that days of secret banking are over. The consensus was
reflected in the recent meeting of G-20, and has been strengthened by the
promises of Swiss authorities to cooperate with demands, provided they are
backed up by specific details, for investigation into accounts in banks
within their jurisdiction. In India, Supreme Court has taken up the matter
following a PIL by a group of well-known citizens. The Centre has promised
to get back to the court this week with details of what it has done to deal
with the issue, particularly with regard to details of 1,400 accounts with
a bank in Liechtenstein which has been made available by German
authorities.

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health on Sunday reported a ninth case of
influenza A/H1N1 infection in the country. The latest patient was a
29-year-old businessman who returned from the United States. According to
the latest update by the World Health Organization (WHO), 21,940 cases of
A/H1N1 infection have been confirmed in 69 countries, including 125 deaths.

Pricewert was thought to be home to several servers used to control
computers infected with the Cutwail Trojan program (also known as Pushdo).
Criminals had been using these infected machines to pump out spam messages,
and right before the takedown the ISP was responsible for about 30 percent
of the spam. Levels dropped close to 50 percent after notorious ISP McColo
was taken off-line by its upstream providers, and it took months for spam
levels to rebound to the same volume. However, the results from the
Pricewert takedown were not as dramatic.

Alarmed by the predictions on climate refugees, humanitarian agencies warn
that recent gains in the fight against poverty could vanish unless issues
of forced migration become an integral part of the dialogue on global
warming. Attended by delegates from 184 countries, the Bonn conference is
meant to serve as a precursor to a crucial United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. That summit is
expected to produce agreement on how to tackle global warming after the
Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets for industrialized nations for
reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expires in in 2012.

The US canceled more than $60 million in assistance to Nicaragua, citing
concerns about democracy, rule of law and a free market economy. The board
of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US-funded operation set up by
former President George W. Bush to fight poverty in developing nations,
said it had cut $62 million from a $175 million program for Nicaragua.
“This decision is made with deep disappointment, as our partnership with
Nicaragua has yielded tremendous progress over the past years in reducing
poverty through innovative economic growth projects. The cut in aid follows
a suspension in new US assistance announced after the contested municipal
elections. Ortega accused the US of punishing the poor with the suspension
and defended the local elections, in which his Sandinistas won a majority
of municipalities. “Given the lack of meaningful reforms or progress in
these areas by the government of Nicaragua, the board has agreed to
terminate these projects. The canceled projects include a property
regularization project and improvement of a road in León department.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, said US assistance must be “as
effective and transparent as it is generous.”

Indigenous groups say that large-scale mining is the most damaging. When
new laws opened the Philippines up to international mining 10 years ago,
companies flooded in and wreaked havoc in indigenous communities. “I have
never seen anything so systematically destructive. The environmental
effects are catastrophic as are the effects on people’s livelihoods. They
take the tops off mountains, which are holy, they destroy the water sources
and make it impossible to farm. Mining generates or exacerbates corruption,
fuels armed conflicts, increases militarisation and human rights abuses,
including extrajudicial killings.”

Stem rust destroyed more than 20% of U.S. wheat crops several times between
1917 and 1935, and losses reached nearly 9% twice in the 1950s. The last
major outbreak, in 1962, destroyed 5.2% of the U.S. crop. The fungus was
kept at bay for years by breeders who slowly and methodically incorporated
different combinations of six major stem rust resistance genes into various
varieties of wheat. The breeders thought it unlikely that the rust could
overcome clusters of those genes at the same time. After several
outbreak-free decades, it seemed that stem rust had been defeated for good.
Scientists switched to other topics, and the hunt for new resistance genes
practically slowed to a crawl.

Many of the small island states in the eastern Caribbean depend on cruise
ship arrivals as an important source of foreign exchange for their
vulnerable economies. A number of Caribbean states have reported confirmed
cases of the H1N1 swine flu, which was declared a pandemic by the World
Health Organization. Venezuela has confirmed at least 45 cases, with no
deaths. One person died from the virus in nearby Colombia.

According to the FAO, the growth of hunger is not the result of a decline
in food production. Cereal production, for example, will only slightly
decrease this year from 2008. Instead, “the poor are less able to purchase
food, especially where prices on domestic markets are still stubbornly
high…. At the end of 2008, domestic staple foods still cost on average 24
percent more in real terms than two years earlier; a finding that was true
across a range of important foodstuffs.” In other words, the sharp growth
in hunger is due not to a lack of capacity, although global food production
could be significantly increased given a rational and scientific allocation
of agricultural resources. Instead, the rise in social misery results from
the fact that millions more people are now unable to afford the most basic
necessities.

The GFI report estimated that total illicit capital flight from developing
countries was as high as $1 trillion per year during 2002-06. The illegal
outflows involve activities such as corruption (bribery and embezzlement of
national wealth) and proceeds of licit business that becomes illicit when
transported across borders in violation of laws and regulatory frameworks.
This massive loss of assets is the greatest impediment to economic
development and poverty alleviation and should be of concern to all
nations.

Millions of people living in Kenya’s slums are denied vital services and
live under threat of harassment and forced eviction, posing a major threat
to the country’s security. Kenya’s capital hosts Africa’s biggest slum,
Kibera. An estimated two million people live in Kibera, a slum called
Mathare and other sprawling settlements in and around Nairobi. The
development of slums in urban areas has become the iconic symbol of the
forgotten marginalised people — excluded not only from basic services like
sanitation but also from the decision-making that takes place even about
their own lives.

According to data from Cisco Systems, spam levels dropped about 30 percent
but rebounded to normal levels quickly. Security experts say that following
the dramatic McColo incident, spammers may have put better backup systems
in place to maintain control of their botnets of hacked computers.
“Obviously, this was not a McColo. They were ready for the takedown. We’ve
seen the backups pop up and have to get taken down and so on.”

“The consequences for almost all aspects of development and human security
could be devastating. Global warming fears overblown? The breakdown of
ecosystem-dependent livelihoods is likely to remain the main driver of
forced migration during the next few decades. In the Mekong River Delta,
for instance, the sea level rising by 2 meters (6.5 feet) could mean the
loss of millions of acres of agricultural land, reducing it by half.
Climate change will exacerbate stressful conditions unless vulnerable
populations, especially the poorest, are assisted in building
climate-resilient livelihoods. It’s morally imperative for developing
nations to adopt policy that addresses these global change.

A man was seriously injured after he fell from the overcrowded
Saharanpur-Ambala-Nangal passenger train between Haldari and Dukheri
stations today. The train, which plys between Saharanpr and Nangal Dam via
Ambala, was reportedly overcrowded with migrant labourers coming to Punjab
to find work during the paddy transplantation season. However, after
rumours spread that one person had died while another was injured due to
overcrowding, the agitated commuters stopped the train at Dukheri and
ransacked the station before assaulting a few labourers. One person, who
was injured in the accident, was admitted to PGI Chandigarh with head
injuries. On the other hand, a number of labourers sustained minor injuries
and were administered first aid at the Ambala station. They said despite
having valid tickets, they were assaulted.

The arrival of dams, mining or oil spells cultural death for communities.
The Dongria Kondh in Orissa, eastern India, are certain that their way of
life will be destroyed when British FTSE 100 company Vedanta shortly starts
to legally exploit their sacred Nyamgiri mountain for bauxite, the raw
material for aluminium. The huge open cast mine will destroy a vast swath
of untouched forest, and will reduce the mountain to an industrial
wasteland. More than 60 villages will be affected. “If Vedanta mines our
mountain, the water will dry up. In the forest there are tigers, bears,
monkeys. Where will they go? We have been living here for generations. Why
should we leave?” asks Kumbradi, a tribesman. “We live here for Nyamgiri,
for its trees and leaves and all that is here.” Davi Yanomami, a shaman of
the Yanomami, one of the largest but most isolated Brazilian indigenous
groups, came to London to warn MPs that the Amazonian forests were being
destroyed, and to appeal for help to prevent his tribe being wiped out.
“History is repeating itself”, he told the MPs. “Twenty years ago many
thousand gold miners flooded into Yanomami land and one in five of us died
from the diseases and violence they brought. We were in danger of being
exterminated then, but people in Europe persuaded the Brazilian government
to act and they were removed.

A new strain of stem rust was identified on a wheat farm in Uganda in 1999.
“It didn’t draw a lot of attention, frankly. There’s very little wheat
grown in Uganda.” East Africa is a natural hot spot for stem rust. Weather
conditions allow farmers to grow wheat year-round, so rust spores can
always find a susceptible host. Some of the wheat is grown as high as 7,000
feet above sea level, where intense solar radiation helps the fungus
mutate. The highlands are also home to barberry bushes, the only plant on
which stem rust is known to reproduce through sexual recombination. That
genetic shuffling provides a golden opportunity for the fungus to evolve
into a deadly strain.

A Royal Caribbean Chief Executive said last week the flu outbreak had “a
short, but highly disruptive impact to our operations,” although he added
vessels were returning to their original itineraries. The launch of a
Pullmantur cruise ship targeting Mexican nationals, the Pacific Dream, had
to be canceled because of the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico, the epicenter of the
pandemic.

Three aspects of the present crisis that make it particularly severe.
First, it follows the rapid growth in food prices in the years 2006-2008.
This bubble was driven in part by speculative activities of investors
pouring money into commodities as the financial crisis developed. This
preceding surge in prices eroded any buffer created by households to cope
with economic shocks. Second, the crisis is global. When economic crises
are confined to individual countries, or several countries in a particular
region, governments can make recourse to instruments such as currency
devaluation, borrowing or increased use of official assistance to face the
effects of the crisis. Third, poorer countries are “more financially and
commercially integrated into the world economy” and are therefore “far more
exposed to changes in international markets.” They are highly susceptible
to rapid changes in global demand or supply and credit restrictions.

“Places like Kibera are ticking time bombs. We see young people unemployed
in desperate conditions and they have no stake in creating stable society,”
In a part of Kibera known as Soweto, sewage runs though ditches while
pathways are littered with animal waste, garbage and human waste.
Overcrowding in Kibera is a huge problem and more than 800,000 people live
on 250 hectares. Kenya was convulsed by ethnic violence after President
Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election in December 2007, largely pitting
supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga against backers of Kibaki
and the police.

Simple changes can help address potential catastrophe. In flood-prone
Bangladesh, for instance, CARE is helping women who raise chickens switch
to ducks. In other regions, it could mean something as simple as changing
water-craving crops to more resilient foods. “So if the rains don’t come
when needed, you don’t lose an entire crop. Climate migration could climb
to staggering levels, its consequences reaching far and wide.

International disaster relief charity ShelterBox has distributed aid to up
to 2,000 people whose homes were destroyed by Cyclone Aila which hit
Bangladesh. A ShelterBox response team (SRT) arrived in the country days
after the cyclone struck. ShelterBox completed the distribution of 200
ShelterBoxes around the towns of Shyanmagar and Munshigaon, close to the
border with India. The area took the brunt of the storm damage, which also
affected eastern India.

But now 3,000 more miners and ranchers have come back. More are coming.
They are bringing in guns, rafts, machines, and destroying and polluting
rivers. People are being killed. They are opening up and expanding old
airstrips. They are flooding into Yanomami land. Governments must treat us
with respect. This creates great suffering. We kill nothing, we live on the
land, we never rob nature. Yet governments always want more. A warning to
the world that our people will die.” This is a paradigm war taking place
from the arctic to tropical forests. Wherever you find indigenous peoples
you will find resource conflicts. It is a battle between the industrial and
indigenous world views. There is some hope in that Indigenous peoples are
now much more aware of their rights. They are challenging the companies and
governments at every point.

Within a few years, Ug99 — named for the country and year it was
identified — had devastated farms in neighboring Kenya, where much of the
wheat is grown on large-scale farms that have so far been able to absorb
the blow. Then it moved north to Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen, putting more
small farms at risk. Those that can afford it are trying to make do with
fungicides, but that’s too cumbersome and expensive to be a long-term
solution. To make matters worse, the fungus is becoming more virulent as it
spreads. Scientists discovered a Ug99 variant in 2006 that can defeat Sr24,
a resistance gene that protects Great Plains wheat. Last year, another
variant was found with immunity to Sr36, a gene that safeguards Eastern
wheat. Should those variants make their way to U.S. fields any time soon,
scientists would be hard-pressed to protect American wheat crops.

Another related factor has been the way in which the US government has
monopolized credit markets to fund its multi-trillion-dollar bank bailouts,
exploiting the privileged position of the American dollar to do so. Poorer
countries do not have this privilege and are facing higher borrowing costs
as a consequence. Take note of the growth in interest rates for debt to
“developing countries” along with the complete absence of available credit
for some nations. The economic crisis has led to other rapid shifts in
capital markets, including the drying up of foreign direct investment. Many
poorer countries are seeing a sharp decline in remittances from migrants,
by 5 to 8 percent. What is more, remittances have usually been resistant to
shocks and often even increased during economic crises in recipient
countries. The countercyclical effect of these transfers is unlikely to
happen this time due to the global dimension of the current recession.

Both Kibera and Mathare became battle grounds during the post election
violence that killed at least 1,300 people in east Africa’s biggest
economy. Millions of dollars have been spent on government projects to
upgrade the slums but there is little to show for it on the ground.
Corruption is a big issue because a lot of assistance money has been
ploughed into these slums, but it seems to be siphoned off.

Without money or resources, climate refugees will likely stay within their
own borders, accelerating movement from rural areas to urban centers and
crowding into cities already bursting at the seams. That could lead to
government instability and further unrest. The challenge is to better
understand the dynamics of climate-related migration and displacement. New
thinking and practical approaches are needed to address the threats that
climate-related migration poses to human security and well-being. Climate
change is a formidable foe that must be tackled. One doesn’t want to see
the hopes of the world’s poorest turned to dust.

The recipients were so grateful. Whole villages had been destroyed and
people were forced to live out in the open. The tents have given them the
opportunity to start rebuilding their lives. Each ShelterBox contains a
10-person tent, blankets, water purification and cooking equipment, basic
tools, a stove and other essential equipment.

In Ecuador, Chevron may be fined billions of dollars if an epic court case
goes against them. The company is accused of dumping, in the 1970s and
1980s, more than 19bn gallons of toxic waste and millions of gallons of
crude oil into waste pits in the forests, leading to more than 1,400 cancer
deaths and devastation of indigenous communities. The pits are said to be
still there, mixing chemicals with groundwater and killing fish and
wildlife. The Ecuadorian courts have set damages at $27bn (£16.5bn).
Chevron, which inherited the case when it bought Texaco, does not deny the
original spills, but says the damage was cleaned up. Back in the Niger
delta, Shell was ordered to pay $1.5bn to the Ijaw people in 2006 – though
the company has so far escaped paying the fines. After settling with Ogoni
families in New York this week, it now faces a second class action suit in
New York over alleged human rights abuses, and a further case in Holland
brought by Niger Delta villagers working with Dutch groups. Meanwhile,
Exxon Mobil is being sued by Indonesian indigenous villagers who claim
their guards committed human rights violations, and there are dozens of
outstanding cases against other companies operating in the Niger Delta.

Now the pressure is on to develop new wheat varieties that are impervious
to Ug99. Hundreds of varieties will need to be upgraded in the U.S. alone.
“You can’t just breed it into one or two major varieties and expect to
solve the problem. You have to reinvent this wheel at almost a local level.
The first step is to identify Ug99 resistance genes by finding wheat plants
that can withstand the deadly fungus. Roughly 16,000 wheat varieties and
other plants have been tested in the cereal disease lab over the last four
years. The tests were conducted when the Minnesota weather is so frigid
that escaping spores would quickly perish. These and similar efforts at a
research station in Kenya have turned up only a handful of promising
resistance genes, which crop breeders are trying to import into vulnerable
strains of wheat.

The FAO also expects foreign aid to drop by 25 percent to the poorest 71
countries. Total official development assistance (ODA) aid from all
countries has been about $100 billion a year—as compared to bank bailouts
running in the trillions and a US military budget of more than $500
billion. Countries that rely on exports have been particularly hard hit by
the economic crisis, and world trade is anticipated to fall between 5 and 9
percent this year. The implications of the rapid deterioration of the
global economy and the consequent decline in living standards for millions
of people were not lost on UN officials. The silent hunger crisis poses a
serious risk for world peace and security. A hungry world is a dangerous
world. Many commentators pointed to the possibility of a repeat of the food
riots that broke out in 2008. Earlier, the G8 countries met to discuss the
global “food emergency.” Little emerged from the conference save a mutually
expressed concern about the danger of social upheaval and revolution.

“Indigenous groups are using the courts more but there is still collusion
at the highest levels in court systems to ignore land rights when they
conflict with economic opportunities. Everything is for sale, including the
Indians’ rights. Governments often do not recognise land titles of Indians
and the big landowners just take the land.” Indigenous leaders want an
immediate cessation to mining on their lands. A conference on mining and
indigenous peoples in Manila called on governments to appoint an ombudsman
or an international court system to handle indigenous peoples’ complaints.
Most indigenous peoples barely have resources to ensure their basic
survival, much less to bring their cases to court. Members of the judiciary
in many countries are bribed by corporations and are threatened or killed
if they rule in favour of indigenous peoples. States have an obligation to
provide them with better access to justice and maintain an independent
judiciary. But as the complaints grow, so does the chance that peaceful
protests will grow into intractable conflicts as they have in Nigeria, West
Papua and now Peru. “There is a massive resistance movement growing. But
the danger is that as it grows, so does the violence.”

Each year, hundreds of plants are crossed in a greenhouse to produce as
many as 50,000 candidate strains. Those are winnowed down, and the most
promising 2,000 are planted in the field. Only the hardiest strains are
replanted each year, until the 12-year process results in a single new
variety with dozens of valuable traits, such as the ability to withstand
drought and make fluffy bread. The oldest of the plants bred for Ug99
resistance are only 3 years old, but one of the strains has been planted in
the field already in case the fungus hitches a quick ride to the U.S. on an
airplane or in a shipping container. In the absence of stem rust, it would
not be the highest-yielding wheat. In the presence of stem rust, it would
be the only thing that would survive.

9/26/2008

Pirates hijack ship off Kenya coast in a Multipolar World

Somali pirates on Thursday afternoon seized a ship carrying more than 30 military tanks in a dramatic hijacking that sent ripples in the maritime industry.

The Ukrainian vessel flying the flag of Belize was expected to dock in Mombasa Friday morning with its cargo that was believed destined to Southern Sudan according to maritime sources.

The ship was on its last two of a 10-day voyage and was hijacked between Kismayu and Mombasa, Seafarers Assistance Programme Coordinator Mr Andrew Mwangura said.

“The ship, whose design is that of a vehicle carrier, had 17 crew members and 38 military tanks on board,” he said on the phone adding: “This was to be the third ship to dock in Mombasa with military equipment from Ukraine.”

Mr Mwangura said that although the destination of the tanks was not immediately known, they were likely destined to Southern Sudan where the previous ones had been delivered.

Somali waters are considered the most dangerous in the world, with each militia group controlling their own sections of the ocean.

Ships carrying food aid to the war ravaged country have to be escorted by navy war ships, with the most recent being Canadian Navy which ends its escort mission on September 27.

News agency reports quoting Ukraine’s foreign ministry, had earlier reported that the ship was carrying T-72 tanks and had a crew of 21 on board. The captain contacted the ship’s owner by telephone and reported that armed men were boarding, shortly before losing communications.

The country has not had an effective national government for 17 years, leading to a collapse of law and order both on land and at sea.

Multipolar World

The international financial crisis has suddenly accelerated a tendency that has been manifest since the United States’ first setbacks in Iraq: American hegemony, and, one should say, Western hegemony, which seemed to settle over the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Communist system at the end of the 1980s-beginning of the 1990s, has seen its heyday.

Already since the beginning of the 21st century, Western claims to impose a Western conception of human rights and to promote democracy as the best guarantor of security and prosperity have been challenged. The so-called emerging states, notably in Asia, preach another kind of modernization. The poor countries commonly called “third world countries” during the Cold War, denounced the unkept promises of development aid. As it benefited from the economic globalization it sought to insert itself into, China, joined by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, challenged Western pretensions to fixing the rules of the game.

The United Nations General Assembly, before which Nicolas Sarkozy spoke Tuesday, September 23, emphasized the birth of this multipolar world. It’s what French diplomacy has advocated for decades. However, contrary to what was imagined, multipolarity is not presenting itself as an orderly construction based on several power centers maintaining well-codified relations among themselves.

The multipolar world that is brewing is, quite the contrary, disorganized, almost anarchic. No organizing principle seems to preside over its constitution. Russia may well attempt to find new allies in Latin America, China and Africa against the United States; their interests diverge when Russia changes borders in the Caucasus by force. Both have reasons to rejoice over the decline of the American ex-“hyperpower,” but, in fact, their dependence on the global economy makes them as much victims as beneficiaries of the international financial crisis.

Everyone, or almost everyone, demands new rules. Nonetheless, before new equilibria emerge from the present disorder, it would be wise to expect some dangerous squalls.

Secret tank deal shows poor priorities

A secret tank deal by Kenya’s Army would have gone unnoticed if Somali pirates hadn’t hijacked a Ukrainian ship ferrying the 33 tanks to the port of Mombasa.

The Russian built T-72 tank can run on three types of fuel: diesel, benzene and kerosene.

Its not clear when the Department of Defence placed an order for T-72 tanks from Russia. The Army has not explained how much it spent on the equipment, neither has it explained the role of the 33 tanks in Kenya’s security strategy.

Apart from tanks, Somali pirates found tons of ammunition and auxiliary equipment within the ship, which they have threatened to offload for use in their country’s civil war. The pirates are demanding US$35 million in ransom before they release the vessel and its cargo.

Typical of most African governments, Kenya’s leaders are spending billions of dollars on security while ordinary people die of hunger, disease and poor shelter. Kenya ranks at the bottom of international social and economic indicators.

A growing population is putting pressure on neglected infrastructure. Public hospitals lack drugs as thousands of Kenyans perish each year on a road network broken to the point of tatters. Kenyan cities are going without fresh water due to lack of investment in water production.

The capital city of Nairobi is getting less water today than it was receiving a decade ago after a colonial era dam collapsed at Sasumua. The port city of Mombasa gets water from a supply system built by the British when the town’s population was less than a third of current figures.

Lack of investment in electricity production has made Kenya’s electricity tariffs the highest in Africa. Industries suffer from constant power blackouts which have undermined economic growth, leading to massive losses and job cuts.

Agricultural production in Kenya is far below demand. The country is producing less coffee, maize, tea, wheat, millet and everything else compared to twenty years ago. Sugar milling companies in Western Kenya, stuck with 19th century technology, are creaking out low quality sugar in significantly less quantities than when Kenya was a British colony.

Amidst all these, the Kenyan government has seen it fit to invest billions of shillings in military equipment. As stated earlier, if it wasn’t for Somali pirates, majority of Kenyans would never have known that tanks were about to get imported into the country. But, lack of priority in government procurement appears to be the norm these days.

Its been announced that Kenya will spend about $23 million in the purchase of second-hand fighter jets from the Kingdom of Jordan. The F-5 fighter that the Kenyan Airforce is so fond of went out of production in 1989, meaning that the jets Kenya is buying are at least 19 years old. Kenya will also pay Jordan to train its pilots in using the junk aircraft.

Meanwhile, other branches of the security forces are on a shopping bonanza. Regular and Administration police have enhanced their recruitment drives to boost numbers. They are receiving modern equipment, weapons, 4-wheel drive trucks, uniforms and riot gear. Considering the conduct of police during the post-election violence, its obvious that this enhanced expenditure is not for the benefit of ordinary men and women.

The Kenya Police has just finished rehabilitating giant Russian-built helicopters fitted with night-vision equipment, gun detectors and communications technology. The helicopters will carry a team of quick response officers assisted by highly trained dogs.

Just this week, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights – a government body – blamed police for the execution of 500 Kikuyu youth and the disappearance of scores of others. According to survivors, the dead and the disappeared were all abducted by people identifying themselves as police officers. A man whose dramatic arrest in Nairobi was shown on the front page of the Daily Nation, was later found dead in the city mortuary.

For most Kenyans, the acquisition of helicopters, night vision equipment and vicious dogs can only portend doom as far as personal freedoms are concerned.

By purchasing bigger weapons to arm a greater number of police and soldiers, the Kenyan government is treading a path set by authorities in situations of high wealth inequality. Kenya is among the top three most unequal societies on earth.

On one hand there is an extremely wealthy minority whose standard of living can comfortably secure them a place among the world’s rich and famous. On the opposite extreme is a majority of people without access to adequate food, housing, health care and education. These are people whose future is so bleak that the only options are crime, prostitution, alcoholism and violence.

Amidst this depressing scenario, authorities seek to preserve the status quo by unleashing greater surveillance of the disadvantaged majority. The objective is to make life safer and easier for the rich minority.

The fruits of economic growth are used to buy guns instead of building roads. Public funds are used to buy tanks instead of medicines for government hospitals. In an unequal society, the government will find it better to employ soldiers and police rather than employing doctors and teachers. Instead of facilitating constructive engagement between the rich and the poor, the system is designed to keep them apart.

Such trends have happened elsewhere and Kenya is blindly going down the same path. Unfortunately, that particular path usually ends up in self-destruction, for the human spirit cannot tolerate oppression forever.

4/28/2008

Higher Education on Nicaragua’s Multicultural Atlantic Coast

Filed under: belize,global islands,language,nicaragua — admin @ 4:36 am

http://209.200.101.189/publications/csq/csq-article.cfm?id=1718

The University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua (URACCAN) is a pluri-ethnic university located in the Caribbean region of Nicaragua. The university provides higher education to some of the country’s most marginalized peoples, including the indigenous Miskitu, Mayanga, and Rama, and the Afro-Caribbean Creole and Garífuna, all of whom live in the eastern half of the country. While comprising only four percent of Nicaragua’s total population, these coastal groups represent most of the country’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

The idea for creating the university came about during an organizational meeting of young Caribbean Coast leaders in 1978, attended by most of the region’s college graduates. A major topic of discussion was the idealistic dream of a regional university. In the 1970s, most costeños, or Caribbean coastal peoples, had little access to higher education because their only option was to travel far to the west to the universities of Hispanic Nicaragua.

It was not until after the war years of the 1980s that the dream could be realized. URACCAN was founded in the early 1990s, and in 1995 was recognized by the Nicaraguan National Council of Universities (CNU), the council that regulates higher education. A year later, the university began receiving government funding. The university continues, however, to compete with older, more established universities in Hispanic Nicaragua to obtain a fair share of national funding. The university is located in a poor region where tuition is extremely low (U.S. $12 per semester). Even so, a large share of the university budget is devoted to student scholarships. Outside funding sources are important to the university’s success. For example, a National Conference of URACCAN Supporters and Support Groups met in Chicago in the 1990s to raise money for the university, but most of the university’s external funding comes from European universities and organizations.

Serving a Diverse Population

URACCAN is designed to serve all of costeños and to emphasize the region’s multicultural heritage. The mestizo population of 117,143 is growing rapidly through immigration from the western, Hispanic part of Nicaragua. It threatens to overwhelm the other groups, thus underlining the importance of URACCAN’s focus on diversity.

The major languages spoken at URACCAN are Spanish, Creole English, Miskitu, and Mayanga. Signs on the university walls are written in all four languages. Miskitu has been a written language since Moravian missionaries, who arrived on the coast in 1849, recorded it in writing and translated the Bible and other religious documents (Helms 1971). The missionaries also trained local lay preachers, or sasmalkra, who preached from texts in their own language. Today various competing groups, including the Church of God, the Catholic Church, and the Seventh Day Adventists, all work on the coast. Nevertheless, in many ways the Moravian Church remains the central religious authority in the region. Moravians have recently established their own university, the Bluefield Indian and Caribbean University (BICU), which now occupies the old Moravian hospital building in Bilwi. BICU is privately funded and thus provides a second option for higher education. Costeño leaders hope that the presence of URACCAN and BICU will encourage the most capable young people to earn degrees on the coast, and remain afterward to contribute their talents to the region’s growth.

URACCAN opened its first three branches in Bilwi, Bluefields, and Siuna, and now has extension courses in La Rosita, Bonanza, Waspam, Pearl Lagoon, Orinoco, and Nueva Guinea. Today, about 2,500 students attend the university, with 200 professors teaching courses. Continuing education and technical training courses are offered, as well as courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in sociology, agro-forestry, business administration, and education.

The university also has four research institutes—the Institute for Linguistic Research and Cultural Recovery, the Natural Resource and Environment Institute, the Institute for Promotion and Study of Autonomy, and the Institute for Traditional Medicine and Community Development.

The Traditional Medicine Institute maintains a medicinal plant garden at Krabu Tingni, in a beautiful rainforest location midway between Bilwi and Waspam. A Miskitu medicinal healer is in charge of the gardens, to which other healers also have access. The resident healer demonstrates plant medicines to students and other visitors.

During his Fulbright grant from 1999 to 2000, Philip Dennis worked closely with the institute. In 1999, an outbreak of grisi siknis, a dramatic culture-bound syndrome, occurred at the Luxembourg Teachers College in Bilwi, causing a crisis in which many of the college students left after 10 young women were possessed by evil spirits. The institute hired a well-known traditional healer who treated the young women successfully with prayer and medicinal herbs, while Dennis and the healer’s husband served as assistants. Two physicians were also involved in the treatment, which constituted a remarkable example of collaboration between biomedical and traditional practitioners.

URACCAN relies on visiting professors to teach many courses. During the 1999-2000 academic year, Dennis taught an anthropology of health course in URACCAN’s first graduate program, an intercultural master’s degree in public health (MSPI). Thirty-eight graduate students participated in the course, of whom about two-thirds were physicians and nurses. Other participants included a nutritionist, a dentist, a psychologist, and a community development worker. Most of the graduate students were mestizos from western Nicaragua, but there were also a number of Creole and Miskitu health professionals. The master’s of public health degree (MPH) is an important credential for anyone involved in health matters in Central America, as it is in the United States. In Nicaragua, the traditional MPH degree is given by the National School of Public Health (CIES) in Managua. But URACCAN organized the intercultural MSPI degree for the Caribbean Coast, in recognition of the region’s multicultural nature and the particular health concerns it presents. The MSPI degree is accredited by the CIES, and coursework covers all the material in a traditional MPH program, plus cross-cultural material relevant to the coast. Dennis’ course was an important part of the MSPI’s multicultural perspective.

Most of the other courses in the new MSPI program were taught in intensive one- or two-week blocks by mestizo professors from CIES who flew to Bilwi to give lectures. Because Dennis planned to live in his research community, Awastara, to the north of Bilwi, he was able to teach his course over an 11-month period, holding classes one week each month. The MSPI students turned out to be hard-working and interested in the material, and responded enthusiastically to the fieldwork projects.

The university is developing a new master’s degree in socio-cultural anthropology in order to train Native anthropologists on the Atlantic Coast. Drawing from her extensive field experience among the Miskitu peoples of Honduras, Laura Hobson Herlihy will teach a graduate course on ethnographic field methods at URACAAN-Bilwi in spring 2004, also supported by a Fulbright grant. URACCAN’s first rector, Myrna Cunningham, said that the course will be part of the core curriculum of the new master’s program, which will be coordinated by Georg Grunberg and emphasize the region’s autonomy. Students will work with Herlihy both in the classroom and in the field, doing ethnographic research in local communities. Herlihy and Dennis both hope to keep the U.S.–URACCAN connection strong through future Fulbright exchanges.

The URACCAN was organized by and for local peoples, and tries to give voice to all the ethnic groups on the Coast. Large numbers of Miskitu students attend URACCAN-Kambla, and Creole students are prominent at URACCAN-Bluefields. However, there has been little Miskitu representation in the university administration. During his year at URACCAN, Dennis suggested that Miskitu intellectuals such as Ana Rosa Fagoth and Avelino Cox be invited to participate more in university activities, and that academic courses be offered using Miskitu as a language of instruction. In part, the limited participation of Miskitu scholars simply reflects the limited number of Miskitu people with university training. In addition, the Moravian Church-supported BICU may attract Miskitu people interested in faith-based education. Nevertheless, it seems ironic that the colonial languages, Spanish and English, continue to dominate, and that indigenous language and worldview remain underrepresented in university activities and administration. Indigenous peoples are lowest in the scale of interethnic relations on the coast, and to some extent this situation is paralleled in the university. It seems clear that to be successful as a multilingual, multicultural institution, URACCAN must invite more participation by leaders from all the region’s ethnic groups.

Miskitu people have a complex set of ideas about health and illness, and traditional healers provide a large share of the health care in the region. Historically, biomedical professionals from the United States and from the western, Hispanic region of Nicaragua have viewed local beliefs with skepticism, and have not taken traditional healers seriously. Given this context, some Creole administrators predicted the mestizo physicians in Dennis’ class would be narrow-minded and the most difficult group to work with. In reality, they asked the most perceptive questions and showed the most interest in the intercultural perspective presented. When Dennis invited traditional Miskitu healers to the class to explain Miskitu concepts of health and to demonstrate curing techniques, the mestizo physicians were the first to volunteer to help in the demonstration.

International Collaboration

Library holdings at URACCAN-Bilwi are modest indeed—one room of books. This lack of reading materials for students is a serious problem, and by necessity many classes use Xerox copies of articles or book chapters for reading assignments. For his anthropology of health course, Dennis brought textbooks from the United States, including a thick reader of medical anthropology articles in Spanish and the Spanish-language editions of Where There is No Doctor and Helping Health Workers Learn from the Hesperian Foundation. Dennis hoped that these texts would serve as useful future reference sources for the health care professionals taking the course.

Dennis also organized a large book drive at Texas Tech University, during which many colleagues in different fields donated basic texts and other books for the URACCAN library. Of course, most of these books were in English and may be of limited use to URACCAN students and faculty. But where books are available, one can hope they will eventually be of use to an aspiring scholar. Unfortunately, due to changes in U.S. Postal Service regulations, the last carton of books sent in 2003 cost about $75. At this price, it will be impossible to continue the book donation program.

Despite financial problems, URACCAN has been successful at forming national, regional, and international ties. Besides having a press office, a Web site, and a liaison office in Managua, the university has bilateral agreements with two Canadian universities, four U.S. universities, and three universities in Spain. Almost 30 URACCAN professors are pursuing advanced degrees in York, Canada, and Girona, Spain. One anthropologist colleague, Miguel González, former rector at URACCAN-Bluefields, is now completing his doctorate degree in political science at York University in Toronto.

The university also has ties with a vast array of non-governmental organizations, institutes, and foundations. Among them are Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbelt of Germany, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigaciones y Enseñanza in Costa Rica; and the Rigoberta Menchú Foundation in Guatemala. These ties allow URACCAN to lead several important regional and continental initiatives, “especially regarding Indigenous, educational, health, and human rights networks,” reports the URUCCAN Update in 1998.

URACCAN and Autonomy

The Atlantic Coast region won constitutional autonomy in 1987 during the Sandinista revolutionary decade. The Nicaraguan government established two autonomous regions on the Caribbean Coast, the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), and the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS). The RAAN and RAAS make up over 50 percent of Nicaragua’s territory. The RAAN regional government is located in Bilwi and the RAAS regional government is in Bluefields. URACCAN’s Bilwi-Kambla campus thus serves a large Miskitu population, and the Bluefields campus serves the Creole population.

URACCAN’s new vision of indigenous education is not only to provide life-long education to costeños, but, according to the URACCAN Update, “to help fortify the autonomy process on the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast through training and professionalizing of human resources.” The university, for example, offers many outreach or short-term courses to improve the working populations’ technical skills. These courses have a community-based and participatory focus, and provide costeños with a way to contribute to their own self-empowerment. The goal is to no longer be dependent upon mestizos from western Nicaragua. Rather, through higher education, costeños hope to be able to control their own development process in the future.

Constitutional recognition was also given to minority languages in the autonomous regions. Since then, URACCAN has played a central role in developing the Intercultural Bilingual Education Program (PEBI) on the coast. Linguists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and from Europe worked with Terra Nuova, an Italian development organization, to develop new bilingual (Miskitu and Spanish) textbooks for grades one through four. These textbooks are now being used in a number of schools in the RAAN.

Unfortunately, the bilingual program has not been supported by conservative central governments in Managua in recent years. Teachers continue, however, to train at URACCAN.

The URACCAN main campus is in the town of Kambla, seven kilometers west of Bilwi. A breezy coastal city, Bilwi is the intellectual, economic, and political capital for the Miskitu people. Here, Miskitu culture is popular culture. One hears the Miskitu language spoken on the radio and television, as well as in discos, buses, and marketplaces. Due to its proximity to Bilwi, URACCAN’s main Kambla campus is strikingly dominated by Miskitu culture and language.

Transportation by bus is provided to Kambla-Bilwi students, along the red dirt road linking the campus and the city. Indeed, just getting to class is a challenge during the rainy season. The campus is remotely situated for a reason: it sits on land formerly used by the Sandinista army. The classrooms, administrative offices, and small library are in one-story buildings that formerly functioned as Sandinista military barracks. Pleasant and attractive, the campus is surrounded by pine trees with green grass and cement social spaces between buildings. The gym and auditorium buildings loom the largest on campus.

In 1998, Herlihy attended a conference for Central American indigenous people on URACCAN’s Kambla-Bilwi campus. The conference, “Central American Workshop on Territorial Rights and the Legalization of Indigenous Territories,” was sponsored by Native Lands, Centro Skoki, and URACCAN. Much of the workshop focused on the International Labor Organization’s convention 169, which deals specifically with indigenous peoples’rights. Indigenous representatives came from all the Central American countries, and from Peru and Mexico. A majority of the representatives and attendees were Miskitu, since the conference was held in their homeland. Miskitu participants in the meeting spoke first in their own language, and their statements were then translated into Spanish. The main topic of discussion among Miskitu participants was autonomy, or klauna, for the Atlantic Coast.

URACCAN’s concept of autonomy does not imply separatism. Rather, it emphasizes improving the quality of life for all costeños through education. Through inter-cultural higher education, the university aspires to build a better Atlantic Coast and a better Nicaragua. This university has so far been quite successful, especially given that the Atlantic Coast is a marginalized region in one of the poorest countries in Central America. Watching the crowds of students and faculty boarding the bus for Kambla, one cannot help but be infected by their spirit of enthusiasm and optimism. These young people see higher education as opening doors to the future.

Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Nicaragua and the Atlantic Coast

The 110,000 Miskitu constitute the largest indigenous population in Nicaragua. They live in rainforest and coastal-lagoon terrain from the Rio Coco border with Honduras to just south of the Pearl Lagoon area. This mixed group speak the Miskitu language, a member of the Misumalpan language family, and trace their ancestry to an Amerindian group that intermarried with African and European populations, starting in the 17th century (Helms 1971). While other Latin American indigenous groups experienced assimilation and culture loss due to the colonial encounter, the Miskitu have grown in population, expanded their territory, and developed a strong ethnic identity. Today, the Miskitu are the major indigenous group on the coast. They became internationally known for their struggle against the Sandinista government in the 1980s.

Mary W. Helms did ground-breaking ethnography among Miskitu people, and her ethnography of the community of Asang, on the Río Coco, has become a classic. Helms suggests that the success of the Miskitu is closely related to their relations with outsiders who have come to the coast. Indeed, the Miskitu have continually expanded their population and established their identity through their interactions with the British, North Americans, and other foreigners. The colonial Miskitu, called “Zambos-Mosquitos,” dominated other indigenous groups on the Miskitu Coast. Through their alliances with the British, they acquired firearms, which they used to build a successful economy based on raiding and trade. In the last 200 years, the Miskitu have been residents of a British Protectorate, evangelized by the Moravian missionaries, and employed by North American and other foreign companies. The companies extracted local resources including gold, bananas, sea turtles, and most recently, shrimp, conch, and lobsters. The interconnectedness of global and local social identities is not new to the Miskitu, who have participated in what Helms (1969) calls a “purchase society” since colonial times. The Nicaraguan Miskitu seem to have refashioned their social identities into new practices that have empowered them in a globalized world. The Miskitu response to global economic and geopolitical forces provides an interesting lesson in survival and adaptation.

The Mayanga (previously known as Sumu) occupied the largest land area in eastern Nicaragua before European contact, but their numbers and territory have been much reduced. The modern Mayanga peoples, with a population of 13,204, have three surviving linguistic groups: the Panamaka, the Twahka, and the Ulwa. These languages also belong to the larger Misumalpan family. Traditionally swidden farmers and hunters, the Mayanga recently have become involved in monetized economies as wage-earners. They continue to live along the upper reaches and headwaters of Nicaragua’s northeastern rivers, particularly in the large Bosawas Reserve. The Mayanga share similar cultural and linguistic traits with the Miskitu, to whom they are closely related. The indigenous Rama people lived on the Miskitu Coast before contact and spoke Voto, a Chibchan language of South American origin. The Rama, like the Mayanga, also fell victim to Miskitu expansion during the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, their reduced population of 1,023 is centered on Rama Cay, a small island in Bluefields Lagoon. The Rama people have all but lost their language, and now speak their own version of Creole English (Barrett 1992). Atlantic Coast Creoles are descendants of British colonists and African slaves who have lived on the coast since the 17th century. They speak Creole English and practice Protestantism, and their population center is in the cities of Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas (called Bilwi in Miskitu). During the colonial era, Creole society included free blacks who acquired higher status and prestige than the indigenous groups on the Miskitu Coast, mainly because they were perceived as being more Europeanized. After the British formally left the coast in 1787, the Creoles stayed behind and became the dominant ethnic group, eventually displacing the Miskitu in the socio-economic hierarchy of the Caribbean Coast (Gordon 1998). Today, the Creoles number 50,000.

The Garífuna trace their ancestry to Island Caribs on St. Vincent of the Lesser Antilles. Here, the Caribs inter-married with African slaves and were later deported to Honduras in 1797. The Garífuna people’s Afro-Caribbean culture and their Arawakian language, called Garífuna, thrive along the coast in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, but in Nicaragua are now represented by only two communities. Coming from Honduras in the late 1800s, the Garífuna settled on the western side of Pearl Lagoon and now have a population of 3,068 people. Their two villages are an enclave that remains cut off from the rest of the Garífuna culture area (Davidson 1979). Although the Nicaraguan Garífuna now speak Creole English, they still maintain strong beliefs in ancestor spirits and a distinct Garífuna identity (Barrett 1992). Some young Garífuna have embraced a racialized identity as Latin American Blacks and see themselves as part of the African American diaspora.

Higher Education on Nicaragua’s Multicultural Atlantic Coast

Filed under: belize,global islands,language,nicaragua — admin @ 4:36 am

http://209.200.101.189/publications/csq/csq-article.cfm?id=1718

The University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua (URACCAN) is a pluri-ethnic university located in the Caribbean region of Nicaragua. The university provides higher education to some of the country’s most marginalized peoples, including the indigenous Miskitu, Mayanga, and Rama, and the Afro-Caribbean Creole and Garífuna, all of whom live in the eastern half of the country. While comprising only four percent of Nicaragua’s total population, these coastal groups represent most of the country’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

The idea for creating the university came about during an organizational meeting of young Caribbean Coast leaders in 1978, attended by most of the region’s college graduates. A major topic of discussion was the idealistic dream of a regional university. In the 1970s, most costeños, or Caribbean coastal peoples, had little access to higher education because their only option was to travel far to the west to the universities of Hispanic Nicaragua.

It was not until after the war years of the 1980s that the dream could be realized. URACCAN was founded in the early 1990s, and in 1995 was recognized by the Nicaraguan National Council of Universities (CNU), the council that regulates higher education. A year later, the university began receiving government funding. The university continues, however, to compete with older, more established universities in Hispanic Nicaragua to obtain a fair share of national funding. The university is located in a poor region where tuition is extremely low (U.S. $12 per semester). Even so, a large share of the university budget is devoted to student scholarships. Outside funding sources are important to the university’s success. For example, a National Conference of URACCAN Supporters and Support Groups met in Chicago in the 1990s to raise money for the university, but most of the university’s external funding comes from European universities and organizations.

Serving a Diverse Population

URACCAN is designed to serve all of costeños and to emphasize the region’s multicultural heritage. The mestizo population of 117,143 is growing rapidly through immigration from the western, Hispanic part of Nicaragua. It threatens to overwhelm the other groups, thus underlining the importance of URACCAN’s focus on diversity.

The major languages spoken at URACCAN are Spanish, Creole English, Miskitu, and Mayanga. Signs on the university walls are written in all four languages. Miskitu has been a written language since Moravian missionaries, who arrived on the coast in 1849, recorded it in writing and translated the Bible and other religious documents (Helms 1971). The missionaries also trained local lay preachers, or sasmalkra, who preached from texts in their own language. Today various competing groups, including the Church of God, the Catholic Church, and the Seventh Day Adventists, all work on the coast. Nevertheless, in many ways the Moravian Church remains the central religious authority in the region. Moravians have recently established their own university, the Bluefield Indian and Caribbean University (BICU), which now occupies the old Moravian hospital building in Bilwi. BICU is privately funded and thus provides a second option for higher education. Costeño leaders hope that the presence of URACCAN and BICU will encourage the most capable young people to earn degrees on the coast, and remain afterward to contribute their talents to the region’s growth.

URACCAN opened its first three branches in Bilwi, Bluefields, and Siuna, and now has extension courses in La Rosita, Bonanza, Waspam, Pearl Lagoon, Orinoco, and Nueva Guinea. Today, about 2,500 students attend the university, with 200 professors teaching courses. Continuing education and technical training courses are offered, as well as courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in sociology, agro-forestry, business administration, and education.

The university also has four research institutes—the Institute for Linguistic Research and Cultural Recovery, the Natural Resource and Environment Institute, the Institute for Promotion and Study of Autonomy, and the Institute for Traditional Medicine and Community Development.

The Traditional Medicine Institute maintains a medicinal plant garden at Krabu Tingni, in a beautiful rainforest location midway between Bilwi and Waspam. A Miskitu medicinal healer is in charge of the gardens, to which other healers also have access. The resident healer demonstrates plant medicines to students and other visitors.

During his Fulbright grant from 1999 to 2000, Philip Dennis worked closely with the institute. In 1999, an outbreak of grisi siknis, a dramatic culture-bound syndrome, occurred at the Luxembourg Teachers College in Bilwi, causing a crisis in which many of the college students left after 10 young women were possessed by evil spirits. The institute hired a well-known traditional healer who treated the young women successfully with prayer and medicinal herbs, while Dennis and the healer’s husband served as assistants. Two physicians were also involved in the treatment, which constituted a remarkable example of collaboration between biomedical and traditional practitioners.

URACCAN relies on visiting professors to teach many courses. During the 1999-2000 academic year, Dennis taught an anthropology of health course in URACCAN’s first graduate program, an intercultural master’s degree in public health (MSPI). Thirty-eight graduate students participated in the course, of whom about two-thirds were physicians and nurses. Other participants included a nutritionist, a dentist, a psychologist, and a community development worker. Most of the graduate students were mestizos from western Nicaragua, but there were also a number of Creole and Miskitu health professionals. The master’s of public health degree (MPH) is an important credential for anyone involved in health matters in Central America, as it is in the United States. In Nicaragua, the traditional MPH degree is given by the National School of Public Health (CIES) in Managua. But URACCAN organized the intercultural MSPI degree for the Caribbean Coast, in recognition of the region’s multicultural nature and the particular health concerns it presents. The MSPI degree is accredited by the CIES, and coursework covers all the material in a traditional MPH program, plus cross-cultural material relevant to the coast. Dennis’ course was an important part of the MSPI’s multicultural perspective.

Most of the other courses in the new MSPI program were taught in intensive one- or two-week blocks by mestizo professors from CIES who flew to Bilwi to give lectures. Because Dennis planned to live in his research community, Awastara, to the north of Bilwi, he was able to teach his course over an 11-month period, holding classes one week each month. The MSPI students turned out to be hard-working and interested in the material, and responded enthusiastically to the fieldwork projects.

The university is developing a new master’s degree in socio-cultural anthropology in order to train Native anthropologists on the Atlantic Coast. Drawing from her extensive field experience among the Miskitu peoples of Honduras, Laura Hobson Herlihy will teach a graduate course on ethnographic field methods at URACAAN-Bilwi in spring 2004, also supported by a Fulbright grant. URACCAN’s first rector, Myrna Cunningham, said that the course will be part of the core curriculum of the new master’s program, which will be coordinated by Georg Grunberg and emphasize the region’s autonomy. Students will work with Herlihy both in the classroom and in the field, doing ethnographic research in local communities. Herlihy and Dennis both hope to keep the U.S.–URACCAN connection strong through future Fulbright exchanges.

The URACCAN was organized by and for local peoples, and tries to give voice to all the ethnic groups on the Coast. Large numbers of Miskitu students attend URACCAN-Kambla, and Creole students are prominent at URACCAN-Bluefields. However, there has been little Miskitu representation in the university administration. During his year at URACCAN, Dennis suggested that Miskitu intellectuals such as Ana Rosa Fagoth and Avelino Cox be invited to participate more in university activities, and that academic courses be offered using Miskitu as a language of instruction. In part, the limited participation of Miskitu scholars simply reflects the limited number of Miskitu people with university training. In addition, the Moravian Church-supported BICU may attract Miskitu people interested in faith-based education. Nevertheless, it seems ironic that the colonial languages, Spanish and English, continue to dominate, and that indigenous language and worldview remain underrepresented in university activities and administration. Indigenous peoples are lowest in the scale of interethnic relations on the coast, and to some extent this situation is paralleled in the university. It seems clear that to be successful as a multilingual, multicultural institution, URACCAN must invite more participation by leaders from all the region’s ethnic groups.

Miskitu people have a complex set of ideas about health and illness, and traditional healers provide a large share of the health care in the region. Historically, biomedical professionals from the United States and from the western, Hispanic region of Nicaragua have viewed local beliefs with skepticism, and have not taken traditional healers seriously. Given this context, some Creole administrators predicted the mestizo physicians in Dennis’ class would be narrow-minded and the most difficult group to work with. In reality, they asked the most perceptive questions and showed the most interest in the intercultural perspective presented. When Dennis invited traditional Miskitu healers to the class to explain Miskitu concepts of health and to demonstrate curing techniques, the mestizo physicians were the first to volunteer to help in the demonstration.

International Collaboration

Library holdings at URACCAN-Bilwi are modest indeed—one room of books. This lack of reading materials for students is a serious problem, and by necessity many classes use Xerox copies of articles or book chapters for reading assignments. For his anthropology of health course, Dennis brought textbooks from the United States, including a thick reader of medical anthropology articles in Spanish and the Spanish-language editions of Where There is No Doctor and Helping Health Workers Learn from the Hesperian Foundation. Dennis hoped that these texts would serve as useful future reference sources for the health care professionals taking the course.

Dennis also organized a large book drive at Texas Tech University, during which many colleagues in different fields donated basic texts and other books for the URACCAN library. Of course, most of these books were in English and may be of limited use to URACCAN students and faculty. But where books are available, one can hope they will eventually be of use to an aspiring scholar. Unfortunately, due to changes in U.S. Postal Service regulations, the last carton of books sent in 2003 cost about $75. At this price, it will be impossible to continue the book donation program.

Despite financial problems, URACCAN has been successful at forming national, regional, and international ties. Besides having a press office, a Web site, and a liaison office in Managua, the university has bilateral agreements with two Canadian universities, four U.S. universities, and three universities in Spain. Almost 30 URACCAN professors are pursuing advanced degrees in York, Canada, and Girona, Spain. One anthropologist colleague, Miguel González, former rector at URACCAN-Bluefields, is now completing his doctorate degree in political science at York University in Toronto.

The university also has ties with a vast array of non-governmental organizations, institutes, and foundations. Among them are Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbelt of Germany, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigaciones y Enseñanza in Costa Rica; and the Rigoberta Menchú Foundation in Guatemala. These ties allow URACCAN to lead several important regional and continental initiatives, “especially regarding Indigenous, educational, health, and human rights networks,” reports the URUCCAN Update in 1998.

URACCAN and Autonomy

The Atlantic Coast region won constitutional autonomy in 1987 during the Sandinista revolutionary decade. The Nicaraguan government established two autonomous regions on the Caribbean Coast, the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), and the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS). The RAAN and RAAS make up over 50 percent of Nicaragua’s territory. The RAAN regional government is located in Bilwi and the RAAS regional government is in Bluefields. URACCAN’s Bilwi-Kambla campus thus serves a large Miskitu population, and the Bluefields campus serves the Creole population.

URACCAN’s new vision of indigenous education is not only to provide life-long education to costeños, but, according to the URACCAN Update, “to help fortify the autonomy process on the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast through training and professionalizing of human resources.” The university, for example, offers many outreach or short-term courses to improve the working populations’ technical skills. These courses have a community-based and participatory focus, and provide costeños with a way to contribute to their own self-empowerment. The goal is to no longer be dependent upon mestizos from western Nicaragua. Rather, through higher education, costeños hope to be able to control their own development process in the future.

Constitutional recognition was also given to minority languages in the autonomous regions. Since then, URACCAN has played a central role in developing the Intercultural Bilingual Education Program (PEBI) on the coast. Linguists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and from Europe worked with Terra Nuova, an Italian development organization, to develop new bilingual (Miskitu and Spanish) textbooks for grades one through four. These textbooks are now being used in a number of schools in the RAAN.

Unfortunately, the bilingual program has not been supported by conservative central governments in Managua in recent years. Teachers continue, however, to train at URACCAN.

The URACCAN main campus is in the town of Kambla, seven kilometers west of Bilwi. A breezy coastal city, Bilwi is the intellectual, economic, and political capital for the Miskitu people. Here, Miskitu culture is popular culture. One hears the Miskitu language spoken on the radio and television, as well as in discos, buses, and marketplaces. Due to its proximity to Bilwi, URACCAN’s main Kambla campus is strikingly dominated by Miskitu culture and language.

Transportation by bus is provided to Kambla-Bilwi students, along the red dirt road linking the campus and the city. Indeed, just getting to class is a challenge during the rainy season. The campus is remotely situated for a reason: it sits on land formerly used by the Sandinista army. The classrooms, administrative offices, and small library are in one-story buildings that formerly functioned as Sandinista military barracks. Pleasant and attractive, the campus is surrounded by pine trees with green grass and cement social spaces between buildings. The gym and auditorium buildings loom the largest on campus.

In 1998, Herlihy attended a conference for Central American indigenous people on URACCAN’s Kambla-Bilwi campus. The conference, “Central American Workshop on Territorial Rights and the Legalization of Indigenous Territories,” was sponsored by Native Lands, Centro Skoki, and URACCAN. Much of the workshop focused on the International Labor Organization’s convention 169, which deals specifically with indigenous peoples’rights. Indigenous representatives came from all the Central American countries, and from Peru and Mexico. A majority of the representatives and attendees were Miskitu, since the conference was held in their homeland. Miskitu participants in the meeting spoke first in their own language, and their statements were then translated into Spanish. The main topic of discussion among Miskitu participants was autonomy, or klauna, for the Atlantic Coast.

URACCAN’s concept of autonomy does not imply separatism. Rather, it emphasizes improving the quality of life for all costeños through education. Through inter-cultural higher education, the university aspires to build a better Atlantic Coast and a better Nicaragua. This university has so far been quite successful, especially given that the Atlantic Coast is a marginalized region in one of the poorest countries in Central America. Watching the crowds of students and faculty boarding the bus for Kambla, one cannot help but be infected by their spirit of enthusiasm and optimism. These young people see higher education as opening doors to the future.

Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Nicaragua and the Atlantic Coast

The 110,000 Miskitu constitute the largest indigenous population in Nicaragua. They live in rainforest and coastal-lagoon terrain from the Rio Coco border with Honduras to just south of the Pearl Lagoon area. This mixed group speak the Miskitu language, a member of the Misumalpan language family, and trace their ancestry to an Amerindian group that intermarried with African and European populations, starting in the 17th century (Helms 1971). While other Latin American indigenous groups experienced assimilation and culture loss due to the colonial encounter, the Miskitu have grown in population, expanded their territory, and developed a strong ethnic identity. Today, the Miskitu are the major indigenous group on the coast. They became internationally known for their struggle against the Sandinista government in the 1980s.

Mary W. Helms did ground-breaking ethnography among Miskitu people, and her ethnography of the community of Asang, on the Río Coco, has become a classic. Helms suggests that the success of the Miskitu is closely related to their relations with outsiders who have come to the coast. Indeed, the Miskitu have continually expanded their population and established their identity through their interactions with the British, North Americans, and other foreigners. The colonial Miskitu, called “Zambos-Mosquitos,” dominated other indigenous groups on the Miskitu Coast. Through their alliances with the British, they acquired firearms, which they used to build a successful economy based on raiding and trade. In the last 200 years, the Miskitu have been residents of a British Protectorate, evangelized by the Moravian missionaries, and employed by North American and other foreign companies. The companies extracted local resources including gold, bananas, sea turtles, and most recently, shrimp, conch, and lobsters. The interconnectedness of global and local social identities is not new to the Miskitu, who have participated in what Helms (1969) calls a “purchase society” since colonial times. The Nicaraguan Miskitu seem to have refashioned their social identities into new practices that have empowered them in a globalized world. The Miskitu response to global economic and geopolitical forces provides an interesting lesson in survival and adaptation.

The Mayanga (previously known as Sumu) occupied the largest land area in eastern Nicaragua before European contact, but their numbers and territory have been much reduced. The modern Mayanga peoples, with a population of 13,204, have three surviving linguistic groups: the Panamaka, the Twahka, and the Ulwa. These languages also belong to the larger Misumalpan family. Traditionally swidden farmers and hunters, the Mayanga recently have become involved in monetized economies as wage-earners. They continue to live along the upper reaches and headwaters of Nicaragua’s northeastern rivers, particularly in the large Bosawas Reserve. The Mayanga share similar cultural and linguistic traits with the Miskitu, to whom they are closely related. The indigenous Rama people lived on the Miskitu Coast before contact and spoke Voto, a Chibchan language of South American origin. The Rama, like the Mayanga, also fell victim to Miskitu expansion during the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, their reduced population of 1,023 is centered on Rama Cay, a small island in Bluefields Lagoon. The Rama people have all but lost their language, and now speak their own version of Creole English (Barrett 1992). Atlantic Coast Creoles are descendants of British colonists and African slaves who have lived on the coast since the 17th century. They speak Creole English and practice Protestantism, and their population center is in the cities of Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas (called Bilwi in Miskitu). During the colonial era, Creole society included free blacks who acquired higher status and prestige than the indigenous groups on the Miskitu Coast, mainly because they were perceived as being more Europeanized. After the British formally left the coast in 1787, the Creoles stayed behind and became the dominant ethnic group, eventually displacing the Miskitu in the socio-economic hierarchy of the Caribbean Coast (Gordon 1998). Today, the Creoles number 50,000.

The Garífuna trace their ancestry to Island Caribs on St. Vincent of the Lesser Antilles. Here, the Caribs inter-married with African slaves and were later deported to Honduras in 1797. The Garífuna people’s Afro-Caribbean culture and their Arawakian language, called Garífuna, thrive along the coast in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, but in Nicaragua are now represented by only two communities. Coming from Honduras in the late 1800s, the Garífuna settled on the western side of Pearl Lagoon and now have a population of 3,068 people. Their two villages are an enclave that remains cut off from the rest of the Garífuna culture area (Davidson 1979). Although the Nicaraguan Garífuna now speak Creole English, they still maintain strong beliefs in ancestor spirits and a distinct Garífuna identity (Barrett 1992). Some young Garífuna have embraced a racialized identity as Latin American Blacks and see themselves as part of the African American diaspora.

4/19/2008

Cops catch Copo but no Cocaine

Filed under: belize,global islands,wealth — admin @ 6:08 am

Zacarias Copo, believed to be a big player and the missing link in the drug plane landing on the Northern Highway on the night of March 7, 2008, has handed himself over to Orange Walk Police.

He was accompanied by his lawyer, Senior Counsel Simeon Sampson, when he did so last Friday morning April 11.

Copo, 45, was being actively hunted by Orange Walk Police who suspect that he played a major role in the drug smuggling drama which ended in a shoot out between the smugglers and Belize security forces who stormed the plane and captured it.

Police have since booked him on charges which include causing a rogue aircraft to land on the Northern Highway, and the illegal handling of aviation fuel.

He has not been charged with drug trafficking, although it is generally known that the plane brought more than a ton of cocaine from Colombia.

Others who have been charged in the illegal landing of the drug plane include Ervin Canton, Luis Novelo, Victor Torres, Ricardo Rivero, Arnaldo Rivas, Cesar Cananche and Roy Lanza.

All have been charged with obstructing the flow of traffic, landing an aircraft without authority and dealing in aviation fuel without a permit. No one has been charged with cocaine trafficking so far.

The men have been allowed to secure bail in the sum of $10,000.00 each. The next court hearing will be on May 23.

The police have yet to capture the pilot and copilot of the plane, and they have found no trace of the cocaine, which the twin-engine plane reportedly brought from Colombia.

It is generally believed that the pilot and copilot both made it safely out of Belize.

Armed men wielding AK 47 assault rifles emerged out of the darkness and at gunpoint about a mile off the long stretch of the Northern Highway near mile 40 on the night of April 11, this year.

At that time of night traffic was light but a few motorists used their cell phones to call the police.

Police and BDF personnel who were deployed to the area, arrived in time to seize the plane, but the cargo of cocaine had already been shipped out.

It is believed the cocaine was trucked out that same night and smuggled into Mexico.

When Security Forces approached the area, the drug smugglers began to fire their assault rifles at them.

Re-fuelling was interrupted and in the gunfight which followed, one or more of the smugglers got hit. Police and BDF reported no casualties.

As the firefight intensified the drug smugglers withdrew and fled into the bushes, leaving the plane, the refuelling truck and the gear they had brought with them.

Five men were captured in the area and two more were apprehended in Orange Walk Town, but Zacarias Copo, whose truck was used for the refuelling operations, was nowhere to be found.

The truck contained 1,200 gallons of aviation fuel.

Police investigations focused on how the cocaine was shipped out of Belize into Mexico, and how the drug smugglers were able to accumulate 1,200 gallons of aviation fuel without arousing suspicion.

Investigators are not convinced that Copo was the mastermind behind the shipment, and are still looking for the person higher up who master-minded the operation and coordinated with the drug cartel in Colombia.

4/14/2008

ANDY PALACIO

Filed under: art,belize,General,global islands,nicaragua — admin @ 5:01 am

BELIZE’S ANDY PALACIO dedicated his entire life to preserving Garifuna music, the enchanting music of the black communities of the Central American countries of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Thanks to Palacio’s efforts, Garifuna music is today regarded as one of the best schools of world music. By the time of his death on January 19, 2008, in Belize city, Palacio, 47, had gained popularity both in Belize and abroad and had performed in the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe and Asia.

He appeared at the Festival Internacional de Cultura del Caribe in Cancun, Carifesta VI in Trinidad and Tobago, Carifesta VII in St. Kitts-Nevis, the Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia, the Antillanse Feesten in Belgium, the World Traditional Performing Arts Festival in Japan and other events in the United States, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany and the UK. He started performing in 1988.

In memory of Palacio, leading Garifuna musicians recently toured the US and Europe to celebrate the life and music of a bandleader and songwriter who spearheaded a revival of the unique music of Central America.

They started their performance in New York on April 4, at the Symphony Space, and will visit Atlanta, Miami, and other cities, concluding on August 29 with a performance in Los Angeles. The tour will promote an album titled Watina (“I called out,” in the Garifuna language), released in the US and Canada on February 27 on the new record label Cumbancha. Dates for the European tour are yet to be released.

WATINA, A 12-TRACK album performed by Palacio and the Garifuna Collective, was acclaimed as one of the best world music releases of 2007. It was declared album of the year on the European World Music Charts and won on several other charts the same year. Watina has been described as the soul of Africa, the spirit of the Caribbean and the heartbeat of Central America, resonating to the unique and threatened Garifuna culture.

Palacio was not only revered as the most popular musician in Belize, but was also a serious musical and cultural archivist with a deep commitment to preserving his unique culture. A long time proponent of Garifuna popular music and a tireless advocate for the maintenance of the Garifuna language and traditions, Palacio had undertaken a new and ambitious direction with the formation of the Garifuna Collective band.

Palacio’s passion can be traced to the history of the Garifuna people.

The Garifuna are descendants of West African slaves who were shipwrecked in 1635 off the coast of what is now the island of St Vincent. The survivors were welcomed by the local Arawak and Carib Indian populations, leading to a distinctive Afro-Amerindian culture and language.

Thus began the history of the Garinagu, more widely known as the Garifuna, one of the most unique and threatened cultures in the Americas. Their tale is one of tragedy and adversity, as well as one of triumph, community and hope.

Called the Black Caribs by the British, the Garifuna lived in relative tranquility for many years, their ranks increased by other escaped slaves who heard about this outpost of free Africans.

After siding with the French in a battle over control over St Vincent, however, the Garifuna were defeated by the British in 1797 and exiled to a small island off the coast of Honduras.

Nearly half of the Garifuna population died en route, but 3,000 people survived, and eventually journeyed out to set up small villages on the Caribbean coasts of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Today there are roughly 250,000 Garifuna in the world, including immigrant communities in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Miami. A small and often oppressed minority in their home countries, the Garifuna have valiantly preserved their heritage over the years in the face of tremendous outside pressures. Recently, however, the forces of globalisation have overwhelmed them, threatening extinction to their unique language, traditions and music.

Fewer children are learning the Garifuna language, performing the songs or memorising the oral histories and stories that serve as the legacy of the culture.

Born and raised in the coastal village of Barranco, Palacio grew up listening to traditional Garifuna music as well as foreign music on radio from neighbouring Honduras, Guatemala, the Caribbean and the United States. He joined local bands while still in high school and began developing his sound, performing covers of popular Caribbean and US Top 40 songs.

However, it was while working with a literacy project on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast in 1980 and discovering that the Garifuna language and culture were steadily dying in that country, that a strong cultural awareness took hold and his approach to music became more defined.

He opted for the language and rhythms of the Garifuna, a unique cultural blend of West African and Carib and Arawak Indian language and heritage. “It was a conscious strategy. I felt that music was an excellent medium to preserve the culture. I saw it as a way of maintaining cultural pride and self esteem, especially in young people,” he said on his record label website.

Palacio became a leading figure in a growing renaissance of young Garifuna intellectuals who were writing poems and songs in their native language. He saw the emergence of an upbeat, popular dance form based on Garifuna rhythms that became known as punta rock and enthusiastically took part in developing the form.

Palacio began performing his own songs and gained stature as a musician and Garifuna artiste. In 1987, he was invited to work in England with Cultural Partnerships Ltd, a community arts organisation, and returned to Belize with new skills and a four track recording system. He helped found Sunrise, an organisation dedicated to preserving, documenting and distributing Belizean music.

Palacio and the Garifuna Collective had been planning an extensive tour of the world this year, and Palacio was looking forward to being accompanied by women from the Umalali project, whose album was released on March, 18 this year.

According to the producers, Umalali musicians blend the rich vocal textures of women from the Garifuna communities with echoes of rock, blues, funk, African, Latin and Caribbean music.

The ongoing tour of the Garifuna musicians — consisting of the Garifuna Collective and three women of Umalali — is promoting the album Watina—Jacob Edgar, president of the record company, Cumbancha, told The EastAfrican: “The album has sold well; it is certainly one of the bestselling world music releases of the past year. It was a struggle at first because few people were familiar with Palacio and his music, but the international media response was tremendous, both before and after his death.”

The idea of the Collective came about five years ago when Belizean producer Ivan Duran, Palacio’s long time collaborator, persuaded Palacio to focus on less commercial forms of Garifuna music. Duran and Palacio set out to create an all-star, multigenerational ensemble of some of the best Garifuna musicians from Guatemala, Honduras and Belize.

The Collective unites elder statesmen such as legendary Garifuna composer Paul Nabor, with up-and-coming voices of the new generation such as Aurelio Martinez from Honduras. Rather than focusing on dance sounds like punta rock, the Collective explores the more soulful side of Garifuna music, such as the Latin-influenced paranda, and the sacred dügü, punta and gunjei rhythms.

THE WORLD TOUR FEATURES Aurelio Martinez, whose album Garifuna Soul was highly praised in the world music press; Adrian Martinez, who sang and composed the moving song Baba from the Watina album and who is a rising young star in Belize; and Lloyd Augustine, one of Belize’s most popular young musicians.

“We have no plans to tour Africa at the moment, although one of the members of the Garifuna Collective will be performing regularly and recording with Youssou N’Dour this year,” said Edgar.

Soon after his death, Palacio was announced winner of the Americas Category in the 2008 BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music. Although decided by the jury in December, the official announcement of the winners was not due to be made by the BBC until April 10.

The government of Belize honoured him with the Order of Meritorious Service in September 2007, and in November, he was named a Unesco Artist for Peace.

In his acceptance speech on receiving the 2007 Womex Award, Palacio said: “I see this award not so much as a personal endorsement but in fact as an extraordinary and sincere validation of a concept in which artists such as myself take up the challenge to make music with a high purpose that goes beyond simple entertainment. I accept this award on behalf of my fellow artistes from all over the world with the hope that it will serve to reinforce those sentiments that fuel cultures of resistance and pride in one’s own.” Palacio lived in San Ignacio, Belize, where he was accorded a state burial. He died of respiratory failure after a stroke and heart attack.

11/28/2007

Hurricane season – mild for U.S. but not the rest

Filed under: belize,General,global islands,nicaragua,panama,usa,weather — admin @ 6:03 am

For a second year in a row, the United States has escaped a severe hurricane hit, pushing memories of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans another notch into the past.

But for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, the 2007 hurricane season ending on Friday has hardly been benign.

“No, not at all. The consequences for the poor have been very high,” said Judy Dacruz, a representative in Haiti of the International Organization for Migration.

The 14 tropical storms that formed in the Atlantic this season killed more than 200 people in Martinique, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua and Mexico and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to often impoverished and vulnerable communities throughout the region.

U.S. experts and media have labeled initial predictions the six-month season would be busier than normal “a bust” because only one weak hurricane struck the United States — a far cry from 2005 when a record 28 storms formed, 15 of which strengthened into hurricanes, including Katrina.

The 14 storms beat the long-term average of 10 per season while the number of hurricanes, five — or six if you count Tropical Storm Karen which most weather experts expect will be posthumously upgraded — is about normal.

Yet most of the storms were perplexingly short-lived, lasting on average just 2.4 days, the lowest ratio since 1977, according to a noted hurricane season forecasting team at Colorado State University.

“Our 2007 seasonal hurricane forecast was not particularly successful. We anticipated an above-average season, and the season had activity at approximately average levels,” Philip Klotzbach, Bill Gray and other CSU forecasters said in an end-of-season report on Tuesday. The CSU team had predicted there would be 17 storms this year.

DIFFERENT VIEW

In the Caribbean and Central America, though, few were breathing sighs of relief.

In the Mexican town of Mahahual on the Yucatan Peninsula, Hurricane Dean destroyed a cruise ship pier which had been a key source of income. “Windows, doors, electrical systems — except for the basic structure of the hotel, everything was destroyed by Dean,” said Rodolfo Romero, owner of the boutique Hotel Arenas.

Dean, which became a maximum-strength Category 5 hurricane, killed at least 27 people as it roared through the Caribbean in August and struck the peninsula.

Hurricane Felix in September also became a Category 5 storm on the five-step scale of hurricane intensity, killing 102 and leaving another 133 missing in Nicaragua, according to the Pan-American Health Organization.

Dean and Felix were the first two Atlantic hurricanes since records began in 1851 to make landfall in the same season as Category 5 storms.

The last storm of the season, Noel, soaked the Dominican Republic and Haiti, killing more than 150 people as rivers broke their banks and surged through towns.

“It’s been very busy, especially in Central America but also in the Caribbean,” said Tim Callaghan, a senior official with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. “We have provided disaster assistance to Dominica, Belize, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico.”

Even when no actual storm was swirling somewhere, unusually heavy rainfall characterized the wet season, washing away roads in Jamaica and flooding sugar fields in Cuba.

A rain-swollen river burst its banks at the end of October in Mexico, leaving four-fifths of Tabasco state under water and 800,000 homeless.

“The hurricane season was more intense this year on a regional level as there were states of alert in every country,” said Walter Wintzer, director of the Guatemala-based CEPREDENAC center for disaster prevention in Central America.

11/23/2007

American Indian Movement

Indian people were never intended to survive the settlement of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere, our Turtle Island. With the strength of a spiritual base, AIM has been able to clearly articulate the claims of Native Nations and has had the will and intellect to put forth those claims.

The movement was founded to turn the attention of Indian people toward a renewal of spirituality which would impart the strength of resolve needed to reverse the ruinous policies of the United States, Canada, and other colonialist governments of Central and South America. At the heart of AIM is deep spirituality and a belief in the connectedness of all Indian people.
During the past thirty years, The American Indian Movement has organized communities and created opportunities for people across the Americas and Canada. AIM is headquartered in Minneapolis with chapters in many other cities, rural areas and Indian Nations.

AIM has repeatedly brought successful suit against the federal government for the protection of the rights of Native Nations guaranteed in treaties, sovereignty, the United States Constitution, and laws. The philosophy of self-determination upon which the movement is built is deeply rooted in traditional spirituality, culture, language and history. AIM develops partnerships to address the common needs of the people. Its first mandate is to ensure the fulfillment of treaties made with the United States. This is the clear and unwavering vision of The American Indian Movement.

It has not been an easy path. Spiritual leaders and elders foresaw the testing of AIM’s strength and stamina. Doubters, infiltrators, those who wished they were in the leadership, and those who didn’t want to be but wanted to tear down and take away have had their turns. No one, inside or outside the movement, has so far been able to destroy the will and strength of AIM’s solidarity. Men and women, adults and children are continuously urged to stay strong spiritually, and to always remember that the movement is greater than the accomplishments or faults of its leaders.

Inherent in the spiritual heart of AIM is knowing that the work goes on because the need goes on.

Indian people live on Mother Earth with the clear understanding that no one will assure the coming generations except ourselves. No one from the outside will do this for us. And no person among us can do it all for us, either. Self-determination must be the goal of all work. Solidarity must be the first and only defense of the members.

In November, 1972 AIM brought a caravan of Native Nation representatives to Washington, DC, to the place where dealings with Indians have taken place since 1849: the US Department of Interior. AIM put the following claims directly before the President of the United States:

1. Restoration of treaty making (ended by Congress in 1871).
2. Establishment of a treaty commission to make new treaties (with sovereign Native Nations).
3. Indian leaders to address Congress.
4. Review of treaty commitments and violations.
5. Unratified treaties to go before the Senate.
6. All Indians to be governed by treaty relations.
7. Relief for Native Nations for treaty rights violations.
8. Recognition of the right of Indians to interpret treaties.
9. Joint Congressional Committee to be formed on reconstruction of Indian relations.
10. Restoration of 110 million acres of land taken away from Native Nations by the United States.
11. Restoration of terminated rights.
12. Repeal of state jurisdiction on Native Nations.
13. Federal protection for offenses against Indians.
14. Abolishment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
15. Creation of a new office of Federal Indian Relations.
16. New office to remedy breakdown in the constitutionally prescribed relationships between the United States and Native Nations.
17. Native Nations to be immune to commerce regulation, taxes, trade restrictions of states.
18. Indian religious freedom and cultural integrity protected.
19. Establishment of national Indian voting with local options; free national Indian organizations from governmental controls
20. Reclaim and affirm health, housing, employment, economic development, and education for all Indian people.

11/20/2007

Smuggled Chinese Travel Circuitously to the U.S.

A canoe sits on the Rio Hondo River, which runs between Mexico and Belize. Villagers in a border town say goods and people – including many Chinese hoping to make it to America — are smuggled into Mexico from Belize.

Since the late 1980s, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from China’s Fujian province have been smuggled into the United States.

The business of human-smuggling has evolved as security has tightened in the U.S. And the smugglers, called by Chinese as “snakeheads,” have become more sophisticated.

In the summer of 1993, a rusty steamer ran aground off New York City. Nearly 300 passengers plunged into the chilly waters, desperate to touch American soil. Ten would die in the water, within sight of shore.

The boat was called the Golden Venture, and its passengers were immigrants smuggled from Fujian.

The capsize of the Golden Venture became national news. It was the first time many people had heard of people being smuggled from China. The incident was a source of embarrassment for both the Chinese and U.S. governments.

Changes in the Human-Smuggling Business

Fourteen years later, the flow of Fujianese to America continues, but the business of human smuggling has changed significantly. When the smuggling began two decades ago, the cost of coming to the United States was around $15,000. Now, immigrants pay $60,000 to $80,000 to be brought to America.

In one village in Fujian, people gather in the communal area. Old men play cards in the corner; others drink tea and talk. There are very few women and no young people.

Villagers say smuggling is an open business here. One of them says everyone knows how to find a snakehead —but that you need to have the money to go.

People who can go are aided by family, friends and former neighbors who have already prospered in the United States. Sometimes people living abroad lend money to pay for the snakehead.

For the most part, human smuggling is no longer about packing hundreds of people into dangerous ships. Nowadays, smuggling involves airports and cars and crisscrossing the globe on scheduled flights. Snakeheads use methods that mimic legal means of entry.

Getting a Fake ID

Smuggling people through legal points of entry — instead of skirting them — requires fake documents. And Bangkok is one place to get phony papers.

In Thailand’s capital, there is a closed-off street known as Kao Sarn Road. At night it lights up with bright signs advertising tattoo and massage parlors. The air smells of humidity, grilled meat, people and booze.

You can buy fake IDs, driver’s licenses, press cards and even fake degrees. The people who sell these documents set up shop among racks of knock-off Puma T-shirts and fake Chuck Taylors. They sit on cheap, plastic lawn chairs behind card tables.

You won’t find fake passports on these tables, but they’re available if you have the connections and the cash. At the end of Kao Sarn Road, a restaurant owner and part-time stolen passport dealer says the documents are in demand. The man didn’t want his name used.

“Most of them are foreigners. There’s a hotel called Malaysia Hotel at Lumpini that has some people who make fake passports. It is the biggest source of fake passports in Thailand,” he says. “At the hotel, they do everything for you.”

The restaurant owner started dealing passports about 10 years ago. He is a middleman, buying passports and selling them to the next middleman. He doesn’t know who ends up using the passports.

“It’s not that every passport has the same price. For example, the U.S. passport is almost worthless because everything is very strict. It’s the same with the U.K. passport,” he says. “You cannot fake it. There is high demand for passports from Israel and Japan.”

“People will use the same passport. They peel back the cover and switch the picture,” the dealer says. “They change the name, the signature — like how they do it with fake student IDs.”

Newer passports that use photos from digital cameras are made in Malaysia, he says.

Traveling Along the Smuggling Route

For the Chinese who are smuggled through Bangkok, the journey starts out legally. Many of them fly into Bangkok International Airport on legal tourist visas with their own Chinese passports — but these tourists never go home.

In Thailand they get fake documents and then move on to the next stop along the smuggling route.

Once they’re on the road, the Chinese travel a meandering route — through Russia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Canada — before finally reaching the United States.

Good smugglers — the expensive ones — run a full-service operation. They escort the immigrants each step of the way, providing food, lodging and transportation.

Working through local operators with local nicknames, snakeheads in China work with the “pig daddies” in Thailand who hand off their charges to “coyotes” in Latin America.

On the Belize-Mexico Border

With Mexico to the north, Belize has become a stopover for smugglers traveling by land from Latin America to the United States.

Residents of Douglas in Belize know their village is a popular spot to smuggle goods and people into Mexico. The village lies next to the Rio Hondo River, which divides the two countries.

Belize has a surprisingly large Chinese population, making up more than 3 percent of the country’s total population of 300,000. Those familiar with the trade say the smugglers are local Chinese-Belizean businesspeople.

Two men with bikes and a gaggle of kids show up when they realize someone is at the banks of the Rio Hondo. The river’s edge is lined with trees and sugarcane. The water is still. Tied to the embankment are little canoes that locals say are used to shuttle contraband between Belize and Mexico.

The sun sets, and the light quickly slips into darkness. One of the men, in a white T-shirt and jeans, initially doesn’t seem surprised by the visitor. But after some questioning, he becomes suspicious and says the canoes are used for fishing.

Later that night, one of the men is still out by the water. He leans on his bike as if waiting for something or someone.

Reaching America

After the Chinese cross into Mexico, they travel north and are smuggled across the border into America. Every week, 50 to 100 Chinese nationals are caught trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border.

Those who make it to the United States are taken to a safe house and handed cell phones. They call home to say they’ve arrived safely. The snakeheads immediately go to the relatives’ homes either in China or the United States to collect payment.

Once they’re released by the snakeheads, these new immigrants fan out across the country, boarding Chinatown buses that take them to every corner of the U.S.

They go to jobs offered by Chinese immigrants who’ve already made it. They seek prosperity — the same prosperity that others who have traveled a similar path before them have found.

11/16/2007

The Garifuna

Filed under: belize,General,global islands — admin @ 6:43 am

As a true melting pot of various cultures, Belize has woven bits and pieces of many ethnicities to make what we know as our beautiful country. With many cultures coming in, tradition and custom sometimes disappear as the days go by. However, a group that is not going silently is the Garifuna. With November 19th, being their special day and designated a national holiday, Garifunas countrywide live up to this year’s theme of Proudly empowering our children in their Garifuna heritage. On May 18th, 2001, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed the Garifuna language, music and dance a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. Belize’s very own Andy Palacio, celebrated musician and singer was honored with the title of Artist for Peace by UNESCO. With much history, culture, tradition, song, food, religion, the Garifunas have certainly left their mark in Belize.

Grappling with the ramifications of the end of slavery, a new ethnic group, the Garifuna appeared. In the early 1800s, the Garifuna, descendants of Carib peoples of the Lesser Antilles and of Africans who had escaped from slavery, arrived in the settlement. The Garifuna had resisted British and French colonialism in the Lesser Antilles until they were defeated by the British in 1796. After putting down a violent Garifuna rebellion on Saint Vincent, the British moved between 1,700 and 5,000 of the Garifuna across the Caribbean to the Bay Islands (present-day Islas de la Bahia) off the north coast of Honduras. From there they migrated to the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and the southern part of present-day Belize. By 1802 about 150 Garifuna had settled in the Stann Creek (present-day Dangriga) area and were engaged in fishing and farming.

The Flag

Any country or entity has a flag which symbolizes their history and what they stand for. The Garifuna have their own with a black strip, which is located at the top. This black band represents the black ancestry of the Garifuna people. The people have always acknowledged the African input into what became the Garifuna people, a phenomenon that occurred in St. Vincent starting in the seventeenth Century.

This colour, at another level, recognizes the hardships and injustices that the people have had to endure, their struggles for survival and the odds that they have had to overcome in the course of their history. As tough as these experiences have been, they helped to strengthen the Garifuna spirit and shaped their spirituality which is based on the principle of reciprocity, mutually beneficial two-way relationship between individuals or nations.

The yellow strip at the bottom of the flag symbolizes the other half of the ancestry of the Garifuna — the Amerindians or Yellow Caribs as they were referred to by Europeans. These were actually a mixture of Caribs and Arawaks and formed the host community in which the fusion of Africa and South America took place to give rise to the emergence of the Garinagu as a distinct group indigenous to the circum-Caribbean region.

In contrast to the hardships experienced in the course of history, the yellow symbolizes the hope and prosperity. Yellow is the color of grated cassava, which is further processed to make ereba, one of the Garifunas’ staple foods. It is the color of cassava juice, a color that is further brought out in the process of turning it into dumari, an additive for enhancing sauces, soups and stews. Yellow is also the color of the rising sun, which brings new promise and much hope for a better life. Yellow, therefore, represents hope, plenty and prosperity, as well as the Carib/Arawak input into the Garifuna identity.

The white strip, located in the middle between the black and the yellow, reminds them of the role of the white man (Europe) in the history and formation of the Garifuna people � the forcible removal and enslavement of the African, the seizure of Garifuna land, which precipitated the Garifuna resistance, and the forcible removal of the people from St. Vincent. Even after the arrival and dispersal in Central America, it was still necessary to deal with the white man.

At another level, white symbolizes the peace that has eluded the Garifuna people for most of their turbulent history – the peace for which they continue to yearn.

Garifuna culture

Garinagu are a resilient tribal people who have survived many years of extreme hardships. Despite these, ethnological studies show that they are the only black people in the Americas to have preserved their native culture. Because their ancestors were never slaves, they have been able to preserve their rich and unique Afro-Caribbean heritage. Also, the Garifunas traditions, deep sense of kinship and participation in community cultural activities have provided them with a sense of solidarity and cultural identity during times of turmoil.

Religion and spirituality

Garinagu are a proud people devoted to their roots and their religion consists of a mix of Catholicism, African and Indian beliefs.

Belief in and respect for the ancestors is at the very core of their faith. The Garifuna believe that the departed ancestors mediate between the individual the external world. If a person behaves and performs well then he will have good fortune. If not, then the harmony that exists in relationships with others and the external world will be disrupted leading to misfortune and illness.

The religious system thus implies certain responsibilities and obligations between the living and deceased. Food and drink should occasionally be laid out for the ancestors who may also appear in dreams. A spiritual leader, a Buyei leads the contact of a family with the deceased. In preparation of these spiritual gatherings with healing, drumming and dancing, a feast of seafood, meat and cassava bread is prepared.

Garifuna spiritualism is creatively expressed through music, dancing and other art forms.

Food

Traditional Garifuna foods are based around fish, chicken, cassava, bananas, and plantains. Most of the meals are rich and hearty.

One of the staples of the diet is cassava. Cassava is made into a bread, a drink, a pudding, and even a wine! The cassava bread is served with most meals. The process of making the bread is very labor intensive and takes several days.

Hudut is a very common traditional meal. Hudut consists of fish cooked in a coconut broth (called sere) and served with mashed plantains or yams. Dharasa is the Garifuna version of a tamale made with green bananas. It can be made either sweet or sour.

The foods are very labor intensive and used to be cooked over an open fire hearth. Today, stoves save time, but some families still prefer the taste of the fire hearth.

Music

Garifuna music is similarly different from the rest of Central America; the most famous form is punta. An evolved form of traditional music, still usually played using traditional instruments, punta has seen some modernization and electrification in the 1970s; this is called punta rock. Traditional punta dancing is consciously competitive. Artists like Pen Cayetano helped innovate modern punta rock by adding guitars to the traditional music, and paved the way for later artists like Andy Palacio, Children of the Most High and Black Coral. Punta was popular across the region, especially in Belize, by the mid-1980s, culminating in the release of Punta Rockers in 1987, a compilation featuring many of the genres biggest stars.

Other forms of Garifuna music and dance include chumba and hunguhungu, a circular dance in a three beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta. There are other songs typical to each gender, women having eremwu eu and abaimajani, rhythmic a cappella songs, and laremuna wadauman, men’s work songs. Other forms of dance music include matamuerte, gunchei, charikawi and sambai. Paranda music developed soon after the Garifunas arrival in Central America. The music is instrumental and percussion-based. The music was barely recorded until the 1990s, when Ivan Duran of Stonetree Records began the Paranda Project. In the Garifuna culture, there is another dance called Dugu. This dance is a ritual done for a death in the family to pay their respect to their loved ones.

In 2001, Garifuna music was proclaimed one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

Steeped in rich traditions and amazing ancestry, we join the Garifunas in celebrating Garifuna Settlement Day. They have joined our country and formed part of it; integrating themselves to our roots and have grown to prominent businessmen, entrepreneurs, teachers and have joined our Belizean workforce with such strength. Their music, their dance, stories, food, history — it all makes them a proud and much welcome addition to ‘Our Belize Community.’

11/7/2007

Garifuna music

Filed under: belize,General,global islands,nicaragua,panama — admin @ 7:05 am

Garifuna music is similarly different from the rest of Central America; the most famous form is punta. An evolved form of traditional music, still usually played using traditional instruments, punta has seen some modernization and electrification in the 1970s; this is called punta rock. Traditional punta dancing is consciously competitive. Artists like Pen Cayetano helped innovate modern punta rock by adding guitars to the traditional music, and paved the way for later artists like Andy Palacio, Children of the Most High and Black Coral. Punta was popular across the region, especially in Belize, by the mid-1980s, culminating in the release of Punta Rockers in 1987, a compilation featuring many of the genre’s biggest stars.

Other forms of Garifuna music and dance include chumba and hunguhungu, a circular dance in a three beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta. There are other songs typical to each gender, women having eremwu eu and abaimajani, rhythmic a cappella songs, and laremuna wadauman, men’s work songs. Other forms of dance music include matamuerte, gunchei, charikawi and sambai.

Paranda music developed soon after the Garifunas arrival in Central America. The music is instrumental and percussion-based. The music was barely recorded until the 1990s, when Ivan Duran of Stonetree Records began the Paranda Project.

In the Garifuna culture, there is another dance called Dugu. This dance is a ritual done for a death in the family to pay their respect to their loved ones.

In 2001, Garifuna music was proclaimed one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

11/3/2007

Belize Kriol Council launches Kriol-Inglish dikshineri

Filed under: belize,General,global islands — admin @ 6:16 am

Sylvana Woods, Myrna Manzanares and Yvette Herrera proudly display their Kriol Dikshineri.

The Belize Kriol Project launched the new ‘Kriol-Inglish dikshineri’ at the House of Culture in Belize City on Wednesday, October 31. The first 1,000 copies of the first edition were printed by Print Belize through funding from the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) and the Ministry of Education.

In its 474 pages, the ‘dikshineri’ contains over 5,000 kriol words, their English equivalents and meanings, enhanced by the use of the word in a sentence, its etymology, the parts of speech and variants. The first section, some 360 pages, lists the words alphabetically according to their ‘kriol’ spelling, while the second section lists the English word alphabetically with their ‘kriol’ equivalents.

National Kriol Council President Myrna Manzanares welcomed the dignitaries, students and the general public to Wednesday’s launch. The editor-in-chief for the ‘dikshineri’ project was Paul Crosbie of Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) International, who also had some anecdotes to share with the audience at the launching.

The King and Queen of ‘Kriol Kolcha’, Wilfred Peters and Leela Vernon entertained the audience with renditions of Belizean brukdown music, including Vernon’s hit called ‘kolcha’. Vernon also presented specially sculpted bookends, “A to Z”, to the Governor General Sir Colville Young, for his work in keeping the ‘kriol’ language alive. The Governor General did his doctoral thesis on the subject of the Belize ‘kriol’ language, as Minister of Education Francis Fonseca noted when he took the podium to add his thanks and acknowledgements to the National Kriol Council for their achievement. NICH director Yasser Musa also chimed in with a few choice words of praise for the National Kriol Project and the new ‘dikshineri.’

The Ministry of Education is making copies of the ‘dikshineri’ available free of cost to the school libraries of every primary, secondary, and tertiary –level school in the country. The dikshineri retails for $30.00 but was available for the wholesale price of $25.00 per copy at the launching. If you can’t afford your own copy, simply go down to the local library, as every media house, cultural organization, the National Archives Department and the National Library Service were furnished with free copies.

The Belize Kriol Project is where the writing arm of the National Kriol Council meets paper, and it has published some 15 books in the ‘Kriol’ language since it began in 1993, including a ‘Kriol’ grammar book and several translations of bible passages and hymns into ‘Kriol’. The project has also maintained a presence in the local media with its weekly “Weh Ah Gat Fi Seh” column in the Reporter, and online at www.kriol.org.bz

With the publication of the new ‘Kriol-Inglish dikshineri’, the Belize Kriol Council has saved the language from the fate of some 2,000 other languages spoken around the globe which are on the verge of extinction because they are not written languages. Those 2,000 other languages are dying because only the parents and the grandparents of those ethnic groups still speak their language or dialect; the younger generation understands the language but prefers to speak another more widely accepted and written language.

Sylvana Woods and the National Kriol Council are to be congratulated for keeping the language alive as an intrinsic part of our Belizean culture. ‘Nuff rispek’.

10/30/2007

Ploy to smuggle cocaine in shoes trips up drug ringleaders

Filed under: belize,General,global islands,wealth — admin @ 11:05 am

Unwitting couriers lured with cash, agents say.

The Mexican vacation was supposed to be free for dozens of Columbus-area residents. But they paid the price when they went to prison for smuggling drugs home in their sneakers.

Most were in their early 20s, recruited by members of an international drug ring that shipped cocaine from the Central American country of Belize to Columbus by way of Houston.

The lure was an all-expenses-paid vacation to Chetumal, Mexico, and $1,000 in cash when they returned.

The trip sold itself, said Internal Revenue Service agent Bernard Clark. “All the kids started jumping on board.”

Some of the couriers didn’t know until they got to Mexico what they were being asked to do, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn Jones Hahnert. Others were told before they left home.

When they returned to Port Columbus, they wore the shoes with cocaine hidden in the soles.

Investigators got a break when the ringleaders became bolder and greedier.

The trips became more frequent. Shipments that started with a pound or so of cocaine in each shoe doubled to more than 2 pounds apiece. And the shoes eventually caught the eye of U.S. customs agents.

“They had women wearing men’s size 12 shoes,” Jones Hahnert said. She likened them to “Bozo the clown shoes.”

More than 30 couriers ended up serving a few months to a few years in federal prison. Others charged in the case included people who recruited the couriers and kept an eye on them once they had the cocaine, and people who sold the drugs in the Columbus area.

But for 10 years, the three brothers thought to be the ringleaders of the operation remained at large.

Now, thanks to a U.S. marshal who never gave up on the case, two of the three are in custody, accused of smuggling 74 kilos — nearly 163 pounds — of cocaine into Columbus, Jones Hahnert said.

All are natives of Belize and took refuge there when they learned they were being sought, Jones Hahnert said.

10/27/2007

Filed under: belize,General,global islands — admin @ 7:38 am

MS-13 Gang Member Deported to Honduras

Earlier this week police rounded up 16 suspected members of the feared Salvadoran criminal gang – the Mara Salvatruchas or MS-13. Six of those suspects have been charged for displaying gang insignias because of tattoos and today another suspected gang member was deported. He is Walter Suazo – a Honduran national. He was served with an expulsion order yesterday and today he was deported back to Honduras.

Dive Boat with 19 Tourists on Board Erupts Into Flame

Tonight a boat worth more than half a million dollars is at the bottom of the sea and 19 tourists are lucky to be alive after a fire at sea. It occurred yesterday afternoon near Lighthouse Reef where the tourists were on a dive tour. The divers had just finished lunch when the boat experienced engine trouble. Police are investigating. The boat is valued at $700,000 and was insured.

Dengue epidemic in Belize

Filed under: belize,General,global islands — admin @ 6:09 am

Friday, 26 October 2007

Belize on Friday confirmed 80 cases of “classical” dengue fever since the start of the year and appealed to residents to take all necessary precautions against the spread of the disease.

An official statement said that the majority of the cases were in the Corozal district and Belize City and that there has been only “one confirmed case of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever”.

“The Ministry of Health is addressing the increased number of cases seen recently in Belize with insecticide spraying and treatment of mosquito breeding sites,” it said urging citizens to help stem the spread by washing water storage containers at least once a week, changing the water in flower pots every four to five days and avoid having containers that can collect water on their premises.

Dengue, also known as “Break-bone Fever”, is an infectious disease that is transmitted by the bite of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which breed in fresh water stored in natural or artificial containers.

The Ministry of Health said that dengue fever usually occurs during or after the rainy season and the symptoms include high fever, severe headache; backache; muscle pain; joint pain and swollen lymph nodes

“Dengue Fever is a disease that must be taken very seriously, in particular if you have had these symptoms in the past, and every effort should be made to keep yourself, your family and your community safe by maintaining a clean environment.

“The haemorrhagic form of Dengue Fever is more severe and associated with loss of appetite, vomiting, high fever, headache and abdominal pain. Shock and circulatory failure may occur. Untreated haemorrhagic Dengue Fever results in death in up 50 per cent of cases.”

The statement urged citizens travelling to countries where dengue fever is epidemic to take all necessary precautions to reduce their risk of acquiring the disease and named countries like Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador and Honduras that have had dengue fever outbreaks this year.

Dengue epidemic in Belize

Filed under: belize,General,global islands — admin @ 6:09 am

Friday, 26 October 2007

Belize on Friday confirmed 80 cases of “classical” dengue fever since the start of the year and appealed to residents to take all necessary precautions against the spread of the disease.

An official statement said that the majority of the cases were in the Corozal district and Belize City and that there has been only “one confirmed case of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever”.

“The Ministry of Health is addressing the increased number of cases seen recently in Belize with insecticide spraying and treatment of mosquito breeding sites,” it said urging citizens to help stem the spread by washing water storage containers at least once a week, changing the water in flower pots every four to five days and avoid having containers that can collect water on their premises.

Dengue, also known as “Break-bone Fever”, is an infectious disease that is transmitted by the bite of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which breed in fresh water stored in natural or artificial containers.

The Ministry of Health said that dengue fever usually occurs during or after the rainy season and the symptoms include high fever, severe headache; backache; muscle pain; joint pain and swollen lymph nodes

“Dengue Fever is a disease that must be taken very seriously, in particular if you have had these symptoms in the past, and every effort should be made to keep yourself, your family and your community safe by maintaining a clean environment.

“The haemorrhagic form of Dengue Fever is more severe and associated with loss of appetite, vomiting, high fever, headache and abdominal pain. Shock and circulatory failure may occur. Untreated haemorrhagic Dengue Fever results in death in up 50 per cent of cases.”

The statement urged citizens travelling to countries where dengue fever is epidemic to take all necessary precautions to reduce their risk of acquiring the disease and named countries like Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador and Honduras that have had dengue fever outbreaks this year.

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