brad brace

8/31/2016

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances; 3 Campesino Activists Executed

disappeared

As Colombia Cease-Fire Begins, 3 Campesino Activists Executed

While the beginning of the cease-fire marked a historical step toward peace in Colombia, rural leaders are still assassinated for defending their lands.

While the beginning of the cease-fire marked a historic step toward peace in Colombia, rural leaders are still being assassinated for defending their land and natural resources, an important reminder of the difficulties the country faces in ending the violence and impunity that have been such a permanent fixture of the five decades-long civil war.

728 Human Rights Activists Killed in Colombia Since 1994

A few hours after the cease-fire between Colombia’s army and the rebels formally started Monday night, three campesino leaders were murdered in the southwestern province of Cauca.

At about 8 a.m. local time, men “dressed as military officers, with balaclavas and large weapons” stopped vehicles traveling to the weekly market in the town of Almaguer, local campesino organization Cima said in a statement.

The assailants then asked the passengers to turn off their phones and forced the three campesinos to come with them, including one of Cima’s historical founders, Joel Meneses, before driving the campesinos a few miles to a spot called Dark Mount, where they were found shot dead.

Meneses, as well as campesinos Ariel Sotelo and another Meneses, whose first name was Mereo, were leading the defense of the territory including the protection of water resources against illegal mining. The group took part in the national agrarian strike in June while Joel Meneses had received a series of death threats over the past year, emphasized the communique.

After a series of murders of campesinos in Cauca last fall, sometimes involving military personnel, Cima denounced “the continuing attacks that campesinos and Indigenous social movements in Almaguer are victims of, affecting its organizational and electoral processes”—as some of their members won in local elections last year.

The country’s ombudsman Fabian Laverde said back then that the issue of violence against campesions was the roots of a number of causes.

“First, the national government refuses to recognize the existence of paramilitarism. Second, the complaints from the social movements made about situations of threats or concrete actions against residents of these territories have been completely ignored,” he said.

At least 300 campesinos leaders have been killed in Colombia in 2015.

Land distribution in Colombia is extremely unequal. Less than 1 percent of the population owns roughly half of the land, and 70 percent of the population owns only 5 percent of the land. Campesinos who fight for their land are often at risk of losing their lives

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

August 30 is a day for commemorating those disappeared by repressive regimes, a day originally brought forward by families and human rights bodies struggling to find out the truth about their loved ones.

The Killing of Innocents: False Positives in Colombia

Six years ago on Wednesday, scores of young men from the poor neighborhood of Soacha near Bogota, Colombia, were offered work but ended up dead, and labeled left-wing guerillas. A recruiter later testified that he had received US$500 from the Colombian military for each man he recruited and delivered to them.

The Legacy of Disappearances in El Salvador

As El Salvador, Latin America, and the world celebrates the Vatican’s beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero, one of the causes most dear to the slain priest remains an open wound for the country: los desaparecidos, or the disappeared. During the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992), an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 civilians were disappeared, the vast majority victims of the military regime’s “dirty war” against Salvadoran civil society.

Canada’s Disappeared Indigenous Women

According to the most recent report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s national police force, there were at least 1,181 cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada over a 30-year period from 1980 to 2012. This report doubled the original estimate from the Native Women’s Association of Canada, who under the Sisters in Spirit campaign in 2010 met with Indigenous families and found no less than 600 murdered and missing. Even these two reports must be taken in the context of previous reports which have long highlighted Canada’s disappeared as a growing crisis.

Mexico’s Crisis of Enforced Disappearances Hits Women Hard

A gender crisis that sees four women forcibly disappeared every month in the western Mexican state of Jalisco has prompted authorities to launch a new initiative to immediately begin searching for missing women and girls in the state, local media reported Monday.

The families of victims and activists marched in Mexico City once again on Monday to urgently demand legislation to hold those responsible accountable. Our correspondent Clayton Conn has more.

Hundreds of mothers protested and demanded justice for their disappeared sons and daughters.

A London-based journalism advocacy group presented a report saying that 23 journalists have disappeared in Mexico since 2003, making it 2 every year, the highest number in the world. Most of the disappeared were covering corruption and organized crime.

Honduras After the Coup

“To defend life is the most beautiful thing that a human being can do.” Meet Bertha Oliva, whose husband was forcibly disappeared in Honduras and is now a leading human rights defender speaking up for those who can’t speak anymore.

From Reagan to Obama: Forced Disappearances in Honduras

Forced disappearance refers to the practice of secretly abducting and murdering victims, making them disappear from society without a trace. Bodies of the disappeared are often carefully hidden, or rendered unrecognizable, to instill fear without the identity of the victim or the perpetrator becoming known.

Operation Condor Remembered

For five decades, each week, these mothers and grandmothers have been meeting at Plaza De Mayo in Argentina seeking justice for their loved ones, the children who were disappeared during the era of state terrorism between 1976-1983.

The U.S. gave the green light for the tortures, murders, and disappearances that took place during the Argentine dictatorship.

Operation Condor: Cross-Border Disappearance and Death

Operation Condor was a covert, multinational “black operations” program organized by six Latin American states (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru), with logistical, financial, and intelligence support from Washington.

Operation Condor was the culmination of a U.S.-orchestrated campaign that entailed the ruthless silencing, murder, torture, and disappearance of tens of thousands of left-wing opponents of U.S. imperialism and the fascistic military dictatorships backed by the CIA and supported by infamous Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

7/31/2014

Mysterious earthen rings predate Amazon rainforest

Filed under: architecture,brazil,weather — admin @ 4:41 pm

A series of square, straight and ringlike ditches scattered throughout the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon were there before the rainforest existed, a new study finds.

These human-made structures remain a mystery: They may have been used for defense, drainage, or perhaps ceremonial or religious reasons. But the new research addresses another burning question: whether and how much prehistoric people altered the landscape in the Amazon before the arrival of Europeans. “People have been affecting the global climate system through land use for not just the past 200 to 300 years, but for thousands of years,” said study author John Francis Carson, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

Blemished Amazon?

For many years, archaeologists thought that the indigenous people who lived in the Amazon before Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas in 1492 moved across the area while making barely a dent in the landscape. Since the 1980s, however, deforestation has revealed massive earthworks in the form of ditches up to 16 feet deep, and often just as wide.

These discoveries have caused a controversy between those who believe Amazonians were still mostly gentle on the landscape, altering very little of the rainforest, and those who believe these pre-Columbian people conducted major slash-and-burn operations, which were later swallowed by the forest after the European invasion caused the population to collapse.

Carson and his colleagues wanted to explore the question of whether early Amazonians had a major impact on the forest. They focused on the Amazon of northeastern Bolivia, where they had sediment cores from two lakes nearby major earthworks sites. These sediment cores hold ancient pollen grains and charcoal from long-ago fires, and can hint at the climate and ecosystem that existed when the sediment was laid down as far back as 6,000 years ago.

Ancient landscape

An examination of the two cores one from the large lake, Laguna Oricore, and one from the smaller lake, Laguna Granja revealed a surprise: The very oldest sediments didn’t come from a rainforest ecosystem at all. In fact, the Bolivian Amazon before about 2,000 to 3,000 years ago looked more like the savannas of Africa than today’s jungle environment.

The question had been whether the early Amazon was highly deforested or barely touched, Carson said.

“The surprising thing we found was that it was neither,” he told Live Science. “It was this third scenario where, when people first arrived on the landscape, the climate was drier.”

The pollen in this time period came mostly from grasses and a few drought-resistant species of trees. After about 2,000 years ago, more and more tree pollen appears in the samples, including fewer drought-resistant species and more evergreens, the researchers report today (July 7) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Charcoal levels also went down, indicating a less-fire-prone landscape. These changes were largely driven by an increase in precipitation, Carson said.

The earthworks predate this shift, which reveals that the diggers of these ditches created them before the forest moved in around them. They continued to live in the area as it became forested, probably keeping clear regions around their structures, Carson said.

“It kind of makes sense,” he said. “It’s easier to stomp on a sapling than it is to cut down a big Amazonian tree with a stone ax.”

Questions answered

The discovery that the human activity came before the forest answers some questions, like how Amazonian people could have built in the rainforest with no more than stone tools (they didn’t have to), how many people would have been necessary to construct the structures (fewer than if clear-cutting had been required), and how the population survived (by growing maize).

The study also has wider implications for the modern day, Carson said. The question of how to preserve the Amazonian rainforest is difficult to answer; some people say humans need to get out, and others believe people and the forest can coexist. Ancient history could provide a guide, as well as a greater understanding of how the forest has recovered from earlier perturbations. (The Amazon also drives climate as well as responds to it, thanks to its ability to take up carbon from the atmosphere.)

The new study suggests that the modern forest is a coproduction between humans and nature, Carson said. Natural cycles drove the rainforest to sprout, but humans stayed on-site for 1,500 years afterward, he said.

“It’s very likely, in fact, that people had some kind of effect on the composition of the forest,” Carson said. “People might favor edible species, growing in orchards and things like that, [or] altered the soils, changing the soil chemistry and composition, which can have a longer-lasting legacy effect.”

Those long-range changes are next for Carson and his colleagues to investigate. “This kind of study has only just started in Amazonia,” Carson said.

6/27/2014

World Cup

In Sao Paulo’s poor north zone, in the neighborhood of Tucuruvi, teams of city workers knock on doors, warning people to take pets and small children out of the area.

Quickly after, men in hazmat suits with metal cylinders strapped to their backs start spraying the street, and some of the interiors of the homes, with powerful pesticides. This is the front line of the war on dengue fever in Brazil’s largest city.

“This year, dengue transmission has been much more significant in Sao Paulo than in other years,” says Nancy Marcal Bastos de Souza, a biologist who works with the city authorities. “We spray neighborhoods where we have a confirmed case of someone contracting dengue so we know there are dengue-carrying mosquitoes there,” she says.

Only two weeks shy of the World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, which begins June 12, there’s concern that international visitors could get infected and then bring the disease back to their home nations.

Already, it seems like everything that can go wrong is going wrong. There have been protests and strikes, and now government officials, like those in Paraguay, are warning their citizens about the dengue epidemic sweeping Brazil.

Dengue fever has long been a problem in Brazil. The country has more recorded cases than any other in the world‚ some 1 million on average each year.

The infection is carried by female mosquitoes, who bite during the day and who pass on the dengue virus to their female offspring. Symptoms include fever, aching joints and headaches. There is no treatment or vaccine, and a rarer form of the disease ‚ dengue hemorrhagic fever ‚ can be fatal. The disease is caused by four different types of the dengue virus, all of which are active in Brazil. But the one that has everyone most worried is called Type 4, which has only recently arrived in the region. So why does Brazil have such a big problem with dengue?

Biologists say one of the reasons is poor water infrastructure.

“People have to put water in a space close to their homes, and there, the mosquitoes come and breed,” says Celso Granato, head of infectious diseases at the Federal University of Sao Paulo.

Mosquito eggs can survive up to a year as well, so he says the key to combating dengue is persistence. That means using a combination of controls, such as spraying even when there aren’t that many cases, as the infection comes in waves.

But the local governments in Brazil don’t do that, says Granato. “What does the public administrator here think?” he asks. “This year we didn’t have dengue so don’t worry about next year.” Politicians, he adds, are usually short-sighted.

A new project in the Brazilian state of Bahia with genetically modified mosquitoes has shown early promise but is still in the test phase.

So there’s been little to stop the sudden spike in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city with a population of 20 million. With more than 6,000 cases so far in the city alone ‚ and almost 60,000 in the surrounding state ‚ hospitals are overrun.

Granato says once dengue arrives somewhere, it’s there to stay.

Antonio Rios Sobrinho, a lawyer in his 70s, says he began to feel sick on a Friday. He went home early from work and quickly got worse. He was rushed to the hospital where, after a lengthy period, he was diagnosed with dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Sobrinho says he’s been living in his neighborhood for 60 years and there had never been a single case of dengue. In fact, dengue was generally rare in Sao Paulo. But this year, just on his street, 15 people came down with the infection.

He says he was lucky to survive. This year was bad, but he fears next year will be worse.

US Scientists, Oil Giant Stole Indigenous Blood

Filed under: brazil,corporate-greed,culture,disease/health — admin @ 2:50 pm

For years, scientists working with Maxus Energy took blood samples from hundreds of Amazonian tribal members. U.S. scientists working together with oil company Maxus Energy took around 3,500 blood samples from the indigenous Amazonian tribe known as the Huaorani, Ecuador charged on Monday. The Huaorani are known for a unique genetic makeup that makes them immune to certain diseases.

RenÈ RamÌrez, the head of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, told Ecuador state TV on Monday that samples were taken from around 600 Huaorani, and that multiple pints of blood were taken from many members of the tribe. RamÌrez said that it is not yet known whether the samples have resulted in any commercial gains, but that samples were sold for scientific research.

According to an initial investigation two years ago, “It was demonstrated that the Coriell Institute has in its stores samples (from the Huaorani) and that it sells genetic material from the Huaorani people.” Harvard University was among the purchasers. Specifically, the 2012 report found that since 1994, seven cell cultures and 36 blood samples were distributed to eight different countries. In the same report the Huaorani said that scientists had tricked them into allowing their blood to be taken between 1990 and 1991; however, President Rafael Correa said that there is now evidence that samples were taken as far back as the 1970s “in complicity with the oil company operating in the area.”

The Huaorani allegedly agreed to give the blood samples because scientists lied to them about why the samples were being taken. They were told the samples were being taken for medical tests, but never received results.

According to the website Hispanically Speaking News, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Correa said that at least 31 research papers were written between 1989 and 2012 based on the blood samples obtained–all without the consent of the Huaorani or the royalty payments normally required.

The taking of the samples was illegal, as Ecuador’s constitution bans the use of scientific research including genetic material in violation of human rights.

According to AFP, when the allegations first emerged in 2012, the U.S. Embassy said it was not aware of the case, and they did not immediately issue a response after Ecuador brought the charges on Monday.

4/7/2014

Agrarian Reform

Filed under: agriculture,brazil — admin @ 6:52 am

Brazilian farmer Isabel Michi’s day starts before dawn, when she goes out to the organic garden on her small five-hectare farm that she runs with help from her husband and occasionally their children. Starting at 5 AM, the 42-year-old farmer of Japanese descent plows the soil, plants seeds and seedlings, fertilises, harvests, and carefully tends the plants in her greenhouse.

She acquired the farm in 2002 thanks to a swap in a settlement that emerged 10 years earlier as part of the government’s agrarian reform programme.

The settlement, Mutir„o Eldorado, is in the rural municipality of SeropÈdica, an area with 80,000 inhabitants located 70 km from Rio de Janeiro, a city that is home to agricultural research institutions and organisations that provide support to small farmers.

Six years ago, Michi took a radical step and decided to go 100 percent organic, abandoning all chemical products.

On average, chemical fertilisers and pesticides absorb 70 percent of the income of small farmers in Brazil, according to experts.

Michi is a cofounder of the group Serorg‚nico, made up of 15 small farmers, which has become a local leader in supplies of chemical-free seeds and seedlings.

The farmer, who is a Nisei – the term used for second-generation Japanese immigrants – said she was deeply affected by the death of one of her brothers at the age of 37. He died of lung cancer, even though he had never smoked. Michi blames his death on the intensive use of agrochemicals on the farm of their parents, who came to Brazil in the 1960s.

“In my family we worked the land with many pesticides. We were young and the damages they caused were not well-known then,” Michi said during a visit to her farm. She was one of the youngest of eight siblings, from a family who settled in another part of the state of Rio de Janeiro. “We were very poor; we managed to harvest a truckload of food, but we didn’t have money,” she said.

“It was a really hard life,” said Michi, who has worked in the countryside since the age of 13.

Michi stopped using agrochemicals on her crops when she married Augusto Batista Xavier, 51, who she met in 1992, the first time she visited an organic farm in a neighbouring state.

“When we moved to this land, I was already thinking about agroecology, because for me, it’s the future,” she said.

The land in SeropÈdica is good for growing mandioc, okra, maize, pumpkin, sweet potato and banana.

Besides these vegetables and fruits, Michi is also growing 25,600 organic seedlings in her new greenhouse, to supply Serorg‚nico.

Her husband’s job managing a cattle farm ensures them a steady income. But he helps her with the heaviest tasks in his free time. Their three children, between the ages of 14 and 16, also lend a hand when school is out.

On average, Serorg‚nico produces three tonnes of food a month, most of which is sold in the circuit of organic farmers markets in wealthy neighbourhoods in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

For Michi, chemical-free farming is part of a holistic philosophy, which also takes into account the social and economic welfare of farmers and of consumers of fresh farm products.

But many organic farmers find it hard to survive in the face of competition from those who use more conventional farming methods at a much lower cost.

Although ecological products in Brazil cost between 30 and 50 percent more than food produced with agrochemicals, demand has grown approximately 30 percent in recent years.

JosÈ AntÙnio Azevedo EspÌndola, a researcher with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA, pointed out to IPS that the number of organic farmers is still limited.

“There is potential for growth, but there is also a long road ahead,” he said. “In the last few years, society’s concern about food quality has grown, from the point of view of the environment and of more sustainable, healthy production.”

EspÌndola is a researcher in EMBRAPA’s agrobiological unit, which is dedicated to developing ecological farming techniques and methods.

Organic farmers represent a mere one percent of agricultural producers in Brazil. In 2006, when the last agricultural census was carried out, there were 5,000 certified ecological farmers, most of them small-scale family producers.

EspÌndola estimates that there are now around 12,000 organic producers, who farm a combined total of 1.75 million hectares. But threats loom on all sides.

Michi’s small farm is one illustration of the problems organic farmers face. It scrapes along, surrounded by quarries, cattle ranches, a sanitary landfill and a projected orbital motorway to be built just two km away.

In other words, the neighbourhood endangers her ecological production.

Trucks hauling rocks and gravel rumble up and down the dirt road in front of her farm, trailing clouds of dust, while the dump gives off a terrible stench and brings swarms of flies. Chemicals used at the dump are also in the air, causing skin ailments among her family.

Given these difficulties, Michi’s family constantly debates whether to move away.

“Besides the bad smell, there is the danger of water pollution,” Michi says. “There are days when I can’t stand working in the garden because of the odours and the flies. We’re an organic community directly affected by developments that arrived here after us.”

Family famers in SeropÈdica are worried about being hemmed in by industrial endeavours, while they put up with pressure from companies interested in setting up shop in the area. “They made me an offer to buy my land, but I turned it down,” Michi said. “I’ll only leave here if I can buy the same thing elsewhere, where I can farm. I don’t know how to do anything else.”

Besides the challenges of using green-friendly farming methods, small-scale organic farmers have to overcome other obstacles, Michi said, like difficulties in access to credit and technical assistance from institutions dedicated to agricultural research and development.

The solution, according to EspÌndola, is for the different parties involved to be brought together by a public policy specifically providing support for the organic farming sector.

“If that doesn’t happen, there will always be a bottleneck limiting production levels,” he said.

Another EMBRAPA technician, Nilton Cesar Silva dos Santos, said that organic farming was undergoing a major restructuring.

“The conditions still don’t exist in Brazil for a 100 percent organic chain of food production,” said Santos, who is earning a graduate degree in sustainable development in rural settlements that emerge from the government’s land reform programme.

Not only the ecological farming sector but family agriculture as a whole is suffering from a scarcity of resources, said Santos, who is behind the first project to set up greenhouses on family farms in the state, with support from EMBRAPA.

Michi’s farm was one of the first four to have a greenhouse installed. Santos said it is possible to improve working conditions for organic farmers while at the same time getting the city “to look to the countryside once again.”

First contact

Filed under: brazil,colonialism,culture — admin @ 6:42 am

It was disastrous when Europeans first arrived in what would become Brazil — 95 percent of its population, the majority of its tribes, and essentially all of its urban and agricultural infrastructure vanished. The experiences of Brazil’s indigenous societies mirror those of other indigenous peoples following “first contact.”

A new study of Brazil’s indigenous societies led by SFI researcher Marcus Hamilton paints a grim picture of their experiences, but also offers a glimmer of hope to those seeking ways to preserve indigenous societies.

Even among the indigenous societies contacted in just the last 50 years, says Hamilton, “all of them went through a collapse, and for the majority of them it was disastrous,” with disease and violence responsible in most cases, and with lasting detrimental effects. “That’s going on today — right now.”

Brazil is “a tragic natural experiment,” Hamilton says: several hundred native tribes contacted by outsiders remain, according to Instituto Socioambiental, a non-governmental organization that reports census data on 238 of those societies going back a half-century or more. That volume of data makes possible a detailed analysis of the health and prospects of the surviving contacted — and uncontacted — societies, an analysis that wouldn’t be possible any where else in the world.

Using a method called population viability analysis, the researchers found that contact by outsiders is typically catastrophic, yet survivable. While first contacts in Brazil led to population declines of 43 percent on average, that decline bottomed out an average of eight or nine years after contact, following which population numbers grew as much as four percent a year — about as much as possible. Projecting those results into the future suggests that contacted and as-yet uncontacted populations could recover from a low of just 100 individuals.

Hamilton and co-authors Robert Walker and Dylan Kesler of the University of Missouri describe their analysis in a paper published this week in Scientific Reports.

While their analysis paints a hopeful picture, Hamilton notes that deforestation, the breakdown of interactions between tribes, and assimilation with the outside world pose ongoing threats to indigenous societies.

“Demographically they’re healthy,” Hamilton says, but as for their long-term survival, “it’s very up in the air.” Lowland South America has long been a battle-ground between European colonization and indigenous survival. Initial waves of European colonization brought disease epidemics, slavery, and violence that had catastrophic impacts on indigenous cultures. In this paper we focus on the demography of 238 surviving populations in Brazil. We use longitudinal censuses from all known indigenous Brazilian societies to quantify three demographic metrics: 1) effects of European contact on indigenous populations; 2) empirical estimates of minimum viable population sizes; and 3) estimates of post-contact population growth rates. We use this information to conduct population viability analysis (PVA). Our results show that all surviving populations suffered extensive mortality during, and shortly after, contact. However, most surviving populations exhibit positive growth rates within the first decade post-contact. Our findings paint a positive demographic outlook for these indigenous populations, though long-term survival remains subject to powerful externalities, including politics, economics, and the pervasive illegal exploitation of indigenous lands.

6/20/2013

Filed under: brazil,capitalism,japan,mexico,philippines,police,turkey,usa,weather — admin @ 4:06 am

7/11/2011

Filed under: art,brazil,General,intra-national,japan — admin @ 4:44 am

intriguing japanese-brazilian artist

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
Parts How Can That Be Setup? Tobago’s main source of income is tourism and
taking the tourist to the Buccoo Reef in the glass bottom boat is part of
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

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.

3/31/2009

PRISON JUMPING SPIDERS BANKRUPT STRANGLED PARADISE WAR APPAREL AID AMID INDEPENDENT CYCLONED TREE PLANTATIONS

South Asia’s export based apparel industry is reeling under the impact of
the global recession as demand for clothing from Western countries slows
down. The industry is one of the biggest employers in this region.

Burmese people beg for food in the rain as aid begins to arrive following
cyclone Nargis. International aid for cyclone victims in Burma was
deliberately blocked by the military regime.

One in every 31 adults, or 7.3 million Americans, is in prison, on parole
or probation, at a cost to the states of $47 billion in 2008.

Police found the body of a strangled woman in a suitcase dumped at
Bangladesh’s Zia International Airport. Security officials alerted customs
and police after the suitcase was found on a trolley outside the airport’s
departure door late yesterday.

It began with British betrayal after the Second World War and has
stubbornly outlived every other conflict. But now, as it marks it diamond
jubilee, the world’s longest-running war is nearing its endgame. The
guerrilla army of the Karen ethnic group, which has been fighting since
1949 for independence from Burma, is facing the greatest crisis in its
history. If Karen resistance collapses, as some believe is likely, it will
be a triumph for the Burmese junta as it consolidates its hold on power.

A British man is allegedly killed by thieves in a raid on his yacht during
a boating holiday off the southern coast. Malcolm Robertson and his wife
Linda were sailing their boat off the coast of southern Thailand when he
was allegedly beaten with a hammer and thrown overboard by a group of men
trying to steal a dinghy.

The Seychelles, the idyllic archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the coast
of Africa, is best known as an island paradise playground for celebrities,
royalty and the ultra-wealthy. These days, it’s better known for something
else: bankruptcy.

The junta’s wilful disregard for the welfare of the 3.4 million survivors
of cyclone Nargis – which struck the Irrawaddy delta last May, killing
140,000 people – and a host of other abuses amount to crimes against
humanity under international law. The storm surge coupled with intense
winds swept away homes, fields, livestock and rice stores, leaving little
or nothing for survivors. But the military regime, which was at the time
preparing for a national referendum on its plans to hold elections in 2010,
insisted it could cope with the disaster despite its scale and shunned most
international relief for weeks.

Criminal correction spending is outpacing budget growth in education,
transportation and public assistance, based on state and federal data. Only
Medicaid spending grew faster than state corrections spending, which
quadrupled in the past two decades. The increases in the number of people
in some form of correctional control occurred as crime rates declined by
about 25 percent in the past two decades.

Customs officials scanned the luggage and found the body of a 35-year-old
woman dumped inside. She was strangled by a rope. She is a married woman
with two children and her husband lives in Malaysia.

After a three-year offensive by the junta, the Karen National Liberation
Army (KNLA) has been forced into increasingly small pockets of resistance.
Deprived of funds and equipment, it is able to do little more than slow the
advance of the Burmese Army as it lays waste to hundreds of villages,
driving thousands of terrified civilians before it.

Executions around the world increased by more than 90 per cent last year.
2,390 people were executed last year. China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the
United States were responsible for 93 per cent of the executions. China had
the highest figures, carrying out 72 per cent of all executions. Fifty-nine
countries retain the death penalty worldwide but only 25 of them carried
out executions in 2008. In Europe only Belarus carried out the death
sentence. Africa, Botswana and Sudan were the only countries to have
carried out executions. The fact that fewer countries carried out
executions shows we may slowly be moving toward a world that is free of the
death penalty.

The tiny country’s debt burden may be tiny compared to Iceland, which
needed a $2.1 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund last
fall, but the Seychelles’ problems illustrate the degree to which the
global economic crisis has leveled some economies altogether. And because
of its small size, with just 87,000 people, the Seychelles now has the
unenviable stature of being perhaps the most indebted country in the world.
Public and private debt totals $800 million – roughly the size of the
country’s entire economy.

For the last three years, 40-year-old Phekan sewed buttons on cotton shirts
in a small factory in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of New Delhi earning about
$100 a month. But she lost her job earlier this month after the European
retailer buying the shirts slashed orders. Phekan is worried how she will
continue to live in the city while searching for another job. Phekan says
her landlord will demand rent on the first of the month, and she does not
know how she will pay the money.

The Burmese army obstructed private cyclone relief efforts even among its
own concerned citizens, setting up checkpoints and arresting some of those
trying to provide help. Supplies of overseas relief materials that were
eventually allowed into Burma were confiscated by the military and sold in
markets, the packaging easily identifiable.

As US states face huge budget shortfalls, prisons, which hold 1.5 million
adults, are driving the spending increases. States have shown a preference
for prison spending even though it is cheaper to monitor convicts in
community programs, including probation and parole, which require offenders
to report to law enforcement officers. A survey of 34 states found that
states spent an average of $29,000 a year on prisoners, compared with
$1,250 on probationers and $2,750 on parolees. The study found that despite
more spending on prisons, recidivism rates remained largely unchanged. As
states trim services like education and health care, prison budgets are
growing. Those priorities are misguided.

Three new case studies and a video have been released on the impacts of
monoculture tree plantations on women in Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and
Brazil. These tree plantations provide rubber for car and bus tires, palm
oil for processed foods and pulp for toilet paper – all items being used in
the west. They are also destroying local communities.

Most serious of all, the Karen leadership is losing the support of
neighbouring Thailand, where it was formerly able to organise, arm and –
when necessary – retreat. Trapped between the Burmese Army to the west and
an increasingly unfriendly Thailand to the east, with hundreds of thousands
of their people in wretched refugee camps, the Karen are experiencing a
humanitarian and military catastrophe.

Conservationists searching through the undergrowth of a remote mountain
region have identified up to 50 new species of jumping spiders. Medical
science could benefit from the discoveries through the study of the
chemicals contained in their venoms. Insights into how to develop vision
for robots and how to miniaturise could also be made by the study of the
jumping spider eyes.

Last year, as tourism and fishing revenue began slowing, the Seychelles
defaulted on a $230 million, euro-denominated bond that had been arranged
by Lehman Brothers before its own bankruptcy. The IMF came in in November
with a two-year, $26 million rescue package, and the country has since
taken a series of emergency steps: It laid off 12.5% of government workers
(1,800 people), floated its currency (the Seychelles rupee, which has
fallen from eight to the U.S. dollar to 16, effectively doubling the prices
of imports), lifted foreign exchange controls and agreed to sell state
assets.

Bigger manufacturers are able to absorb the impact of the slowdown, but
many smaller units are badly hit. “The bigger people, because economies of
scale and cost pressures are important, are still going to grow, but it is
small companies which don’t have economies of scale, they might go out of
business.”

The researchers were repeatedly told that surviving men, women and even
children were used as forced labour on reconstruction projects for the
military. “[The army] did not help us, they threatened us,” said one
survivor from the town of Labutta. “Everyone in the village was required to
work for five days, morning and evening without compensation. Children were
required to work too. A boy got injured on his leg and got a fever. After
two or three days he was taken to [Rangoon], but after a few days he died.”

States are looking to make cuts that will have long-term harmful effects.
Corrections is one area they can cut and still have good or better outcomes
than what they are doing now. Focusing on probation and parole could reduce
recidivism and keep crime rates low in the long run. But tougher penalties
for crimes had driven the crime rate down in the first place. One of the
reasons crime rates may be so low is because we changed our federal and
state systems in the past two decades to make sure that people who commit
crimes, especially violent crimes, actually have to serve significant
sentences.

In the case of Nigeria, in 2007, the French tire maker Michelin came in to
the Iguóbazuwa Forest Reserve, a biologically diverse region supplying food
for around 20,000 people. Michelin bulldozed the forest and local farm
lands to convert them into rubber plantations. Women living there lost
their subsistence farms and the local forest which provided medicinal herbs
and plants.

The military situation is as bad as it’s been at any time in the past 60
years. The Karen have less territory, fewer soldiers and fewer resources to
sustain resistance. The Burmese have them more and more surrounded, and
their backs are up against the wall. A Karen leader on the Thai border said
that the KNLA and Burmese Army were fighting near the town of Kawkareik,
close to the Thai border. All year there have been reports of Karen
villagers being driven into the jungle by marauding soldiers.

Along with spiders, which can leap 30 times their own body length,
researchers discovered three previously unknown frogs, two plants and a
stripy gecko. The great age of discovery isn’t over by far. Spider venom
has evolved for millions of years to affect the neurological systems of the
spider’s insect prey and each species of spider gives us another
opportunity to find medically-useful chemicals.

The IMF has given a thumbs-up to the initial progress, but it warned that
the economy would contract 9.5% this year. The government of Australia is
sending tax experts to help overhaul the revenue collection system and
audit local companies. Now the Seychelles is negotiating with the
governments of Britain, France and other Western countries including the
U.S. – the so-called Paris Club – to reschedule $250 million in debt it
owes them. It is asking for 50% of it to be forgiven – a rate it hopes its
commercial creditors will then apply to its remaining $550 million
outstanding.

The industry is impacted slightly less in India, where strong domestic
consumption is providing a market for manufacturers. But the export
dependant industries in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been impacted more
severely by shrinking retail sales in the West. An estimated 25 percent of
orders have been cancelled by Western buyers.

The Burmese regime’s response to the disaster violated humanitarian relief
norms and legal frameworks for relief efforts. The systematic abuses may
amount to crimes against humanity under international law through the
creation of conditions where basic survival needs of people are not met,
intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to
mental or physical health.

Over all, two-thirds of offenders, or about 5.1 million people in 2008,
were on probation or parole. The study found that states were not
increasing their spending for community supervision in proportion to their
growing caseloads. About $9 out of $10 spent on corrections goes to prison
financing (that includes money spent to house 780,000 people in local
jails). One in 11 African-Americans, or 9.2 percent, are under correctional
control, compared with one in 27 Latinos (3.7 percent) and one in 45 whites
(2.2 percent). Only one out of 89 women is behind bars or monitored,
compared with one out of 18 men.

In Papua New Guinea, monoculture oil palm plantations provide palm oil
which is used to produce soap, cosmetics, processed foods and agrofuels for
the European Union (EU) and other western countries. These plantations,
however, also destroy forests, biodiversity, and local community
livelihoods. Small farmers were promised the opportunity to benefit
financially from the palm plantations and have been using much of their
land for palm oil production, depleting the soil, but earning less than was
promised. Women living near these plantations don’t have enough arable land
to farm and are exposed to toxic pesticides. “Health is a very big concern
in our place right now we breathe in the chemicals… I’m pretty sure we are
inhaling dangerous substances and definitely are dying every minute. Some
women had babies who developed asthma when they were just one or two months
old.” said a woman from the community of Saga.

It’s a cat-and-mouse kind of struggle. The Burmese burn down villages and
relocate the people close to their own camps. The Karen conflict has its
origins in the Second World War, when many Karen fought alongside the
British Army against the invading Japanese. The seven million Karen were
promised their own state by the British but when independence came in 1948
the promise was forgotten. A year later, in January 1949, the Karen began
the armed struggle that has continued ever since.

Jumping spiders with their remarkably miniaturized yet acute eyes could
help us understand how to push the limits of vision. In addition to filling
in the gaps in our planet’s natural history, exploring spider biodiversity
and evolution could potentially inform fields as diverse as medicine and
robotics. Jumping spiders have better vision than other types of spider and
two of their eight eyes are especially well developed for high resolution
vision. In effect, they have evolved a design that has deconstructed the
eyeball and put it together, with modifications, section by section in
miniature. The retina of the spiders could be of particular interest
because instead of the three-dimensional hemisphere in the human eyeball it
has developed like a flat scanner.

“We borrowed more than we can repay. This was wholly irresponsible.”

Heavily reliant on tourism, the Seychelles is desperately searching for
ways to raise capital – at a time when tourism is forecast to drop
precipitously this year. The country has already seen a drop of 15% in
visitor arrivals from the start of 2009; tourism revenue for the year could
drop by some 25% more as a result of the global recession.

The industry was hoping to exceed last year’s exports which totaled over
$10 billion, but is unlikely to meet the target. “The export goal initial
in this year was $13 billion, and we are little scared whether we will be
able to achieve that goal. Buyers are delaying the goods because of falling
demand. We are struggling for survival in these bad days.”

Georgia had 1 in 13 adults under some form of punishment; Idaho, 1 in 18;
the District of Columbia, 1 in 21; Texas, 1 in 22; Massachusetts, 1 in 24;
and Ohio, 1 in 25.

In Brazil, Eucalyptus plantations provide pulp for paper that is used for
toilet and facial tissue, as well as other disposable paper products in the
west. These Eucalyptus plantations, push out local agriculture, deplete the
soil and are water-use intensive, devastating local flora and fauna. One
woman, anonymously interviewed in Southern Brazil, explains that “the
companies only give work to men. The few jobs they give to women are the
ones that pay the least.” Even in the case of men, the companies tend to
hire workers from outside the region, and this influx of strangers
invariably leads to a rise in sexual harassment cases.

In the early decades of the war, the KNU dominated the Irrawaddy Delta,
close to the former Burmese capital Rangoon, as well as areas north of the
city and all of Kayin State. But in the 1990s an increasingly well-armed
Burmese Army made steady gains and in 1995 the KNU was driven out of its
capital, Manerplaw. At this time, Buddhists in the Christian-dominated KNU
broke away to form the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), which now
fights alongside the Burmese Army. Formerly, the KNU had operated as a
quasi-government, providing schools and clinics and receiving income from
tax, as well as from a profitable trade through Thailand in timber, gold,
zinc and antimony. The loss of territory brought a loss of funds, which
made it harder to arm and equip itself. The KNU claims to have 10,000
soldiers, including village militia men, but the number of active fighters
is probably between 3,000 and 5,000.

The 30 to 50 new species of jumping spiders were spotted and caught during
a survey of a region of Papua New Guinea. Among the new spiders were types
that came from particularly unusual evolutionary branches and zoologists
hope that these will offer new clues into how jumping spiders evolved, a
question that remains a puzzle. There are 5,000 species of jumping spider
yet to be discovered around the world. They evolved much more recently that
other spiders.

Seychelles officials have another idea though: to promote the country’s
longstanding virtue of being an off-shore business haven, with no corporate
tax, no minimum capital requirements, only one shareholder or director
required, and an annual licensing fee of just $100. It also hopes to grow
revenue from fishing licenses in its territorial waters, and soon it will
present a proposal to the United Nations to expand its exclusive rights to
the surrounding seabed, potentially increasing prospects of revenue from
underwater minerals, oil and gas.

The textile and garment factories in the region provide jobs to tens of
millions of people, especially women, and are the biggest employers in the
region after agriculture.

States started spending more on prisons in the 1980s during the last big
crime wave. Basically, when we made these investments, public safety and
crime was the No. 1 concern of voters, so politicians were passing all
kinds of laws to increase sentences. Now, crime is down, but we’re living
with that legacy: the bricks and mortar and the politicians who feel like
they have to talk tough every time they talk about crime.

The impacts of these monoculture plantations are not gender neutral. As
much attention should be placed on gender equality in the nations supplying
the raw materials to support the western lifestyle as they do within their
own borders. They argue that consumers need to understand the impacts of
their consumption on both environmental and social justice, and consider
reducing consumption rates. At the same time, benefitting countries must
push for policies and protections for the environment and the people that
live there. The current monoculture plantation system is not
environmentally or socially sustainable.

Last year the KNU suffered another blow when its respected and charismatic
leader, Pado Mahn Shar, was assassinated at his home in Thailand by
unidentified gunmen. Among many Karen there was a suspicion that the ease
with which the killers escaped, and the failure to apprehend them,
reflected a cooling of the welcome afforded by Thailand. Last month Karen
military commanders were ordered out of Thailand and back across the
border. This probably reflects the Thai Government’s increasing dependence
on Burma for raw materials and energy – the two governments are jointly
planning ambitious hydroelectric dams along the Salween River which forms
part of their border.

Instead of building webs or responding to the motion of prey they have
learnt to distinguish between different animals and their attack techniques
depends on what they are tackling. Instead of sitting at the centre of a
web, jumping spiders found a new way to make a living by wandering around
their habitat and pouncing – like cats – on their prey. Some of them are so
cute. There is a whole lot of beauty in these small spiders if we look
closely enough.

And hopes for expanding tourism remain high. In addition to the usual
roster of luxury-seeking royals and high-spending celebs, the middle-tier
traveler is now being heartily courted, too. The government in early March
announced an “Affordable Seychelles” campaign – what would have until
recently been an oxymoron – with the motto: “Once-in-a-lifetime vacation at
a once-in-a-lifetime price,” based on lower prices caused by the halving in
value of the currency.

The border is a valuable conduit not only for the Karen but for Burmese
struggling to overthrow the military dictatorship. After the junta cracked
down on large pro-democracy demonstrations of monks and activists in 2007,
many of them escaped into Thailand.

11/20/2008

OVER OUR BURNING IVORY PIG BODIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/8/2008

World Organ Trafficking

Filed under: brazil,china,disease/health,General,india — admin @ 8:41 am

https://www.dafoh.org/
Worldwide there are different forms of organ theft reported. These cases
have in common that they are scattered in various countries and regions.
In some countries reports say that organs were removed from homeless
people, in other cases those “donors” were offered a refund of a couple
hundred dollars in exchange for a kidney donation. All of these cases are
questionable and dubious. If these cases are related to living donors they
are limited to donations of a second kidney.

However none of these documented reports about organ theft has ever
aroused any suspicion that there would exist a nationwide, state sanctioned,
systematic organ theft from living people. The extent of organ harvesting
in China as described by witnesses, by publicly accessible data about
transplantations in China and by the Kilgour & Matas Report is unprecedented.
The data collected by Kilgour & Matas depicts a transplantation-on-demand-
system. The latter carries the potential to enhance transplant tourism to China.

In contrast to the totalitarian regime in China most of the democratic
governments of the affected countries that have encountered such forms of
organ thefts have taken steps to stop these degenerated forms of organ
supply.

The international trade in human organs is on the increase fuelled by growing demand as well as unscrupulous traffickers. The rising trend has prompted a serious reappraisal of current legislation, while WHO has called for more protection for the most vulnerable people who might be tempted to sell a kidney for as little as US$1000.

Increasing demand for donated organs, uncontrolled trafficking and the challenges of transplantation between closely-related species have prompted a serious re-evaluation of international guidelines and given new impetus to the role of WHO in gathering epidemiological data and setting basic normative standards.

There are no reliable data on organ trafficking — or indeed transplantation activity in general — but it is widely believed to be on the increase, with brokers reportedly charging between US$100,000 and US$200,000 to organize a transplant for wealthy patients. Donors — frequently impoverished and ill-educated — may receive as little as US$1000 for a kidney although the going price is more likely to be about US$5000.

A resolution adopted at this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) voiced “concern at the growing insufficiency of available human material for transplantation to meet patient needs,” and urged Member States to “extend the use of living kidney donations when possible, in addition to donations from deceased donors.”

It also urged governments “to take measures to protect the poorest and most vulnerable groups from ‘transplant tourism’ and the sale of tissues and organs, including attention to the wider problem of international trafficking in human tissues and organs.”

Earlier this year, police broke up an international ring which arranged for Israelis to receive kidneys from poor Brazilians at a clinic in the South African port city of Durban. But such highprofile successes merely scratch at the surface.

Countries such as Brazil, India and Moldova — well-known sources of donors — have all banned buying and selling of organs. But this has come at the risk of driving the trade underground.

Behind the growth in trafficking lies the increasing demand for transplant organs.

In Europe alone, there are currently 120,000 patients on dialysis treatment and about 40,000 people waiting for a kidney, according to a report last year by the European Parliamentary Assembly.

It warned that the waiting list for a transplant, currently about three years, would increase to 10 years by 2010, and with it the death rate from the shortage of organs.

In Asia, South America and Africa, there is widespread resistance — for cultural and personal reasons as well as due to the high cost — to using cadaveric organs, or those from dead bodies.

The majority of transplanted organs come from live, often unrelated, donors. Even in the United States, the number of renal or kidney transplants from live donors exceeded those from deceased donors for the first time in 2001.

Yet the Guiding Principles on human organ transplantation, adopted by the WHA in 1991, state that organs should “be removed preferably from the bodies of deceased persons,” and that live donors should in general be genetically related to the recipient.

They also prohibit “giving and receiving money, as well as any other commercial dealing”.

9/16/2008

U.N. watchdog denounces police killings in Brazil

Filed under: brazil,police — admin @ 5:11 am

Police frequently kill criminal suspects and ordinary citizens in Brazil, driving up the homicide rate in what is already one of the world’s most violent countries, the United Nations said on Monday.

In a 49-page report, the U.N. Human Rights Council also concluded that a sizable portion of the Brazilian population in high-crime areas supports extrajudicial killings and vigilante justice in the absence of an efficient criminal justice system.

While police killings are commonplace all across the South American country, the problem is most pronounced in the tourist mecca of Rio de Janeiro, according to Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on unlawful killings, who visited Brazil at the invitation of the government.

“In Rio de Janeiro, the police kill three people every day. They are responsible for one out of every five killings,” Alston said in the report, which was based on a 10-day fact-finding mission to Brazil last November.

The report found that on-duty police officers using deadly force are only part of the problem. A large number of off-duty officers routinely moonlight as members of death squads and take part in other forms of organized crime, it said.

The report singled out the proliferation of so-called militias as especially worrisome. These groups, mostly made up of off-duty and retired police officers, originated as private security providers in Rio’s violent slums but evolved into extortion rackets that frequently mete out summary justice.

“A remarkable number of police lead double lives,” Alston said. “While on duty, they fight the drug gangs, but on their days off, they work as foot soldiers of organized crime.”

Another hot spot for police violence is the northeastern state of Pernambuco, where Alston estimated that 70 percent of all homicides are committed by death squads made up of off-duty and retired officers.

The report identified a handful of factors that may drive police to take part in organized crime, such as poor salaries and a shift structure with long hours that is followed by several consecutive days off.

But the most important factor contributing to police killings may be Brazil’s shabby criminal justice system, which seldom achieves convictions even in ordinary murder cases. The report found that, in Sao Paulo, only 10 percent of homicides ever go to trial.

Alston also offered some recommendations on how to reduce police violence. They included higher salaries for police, better forensics, an improved witness protection program and a series of measures aimed at holding officers accountable for unlawful behavior and the use of excessive force.

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