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3/7/2011

RWANDA PIKININI GENOCIDE EXTRADITED ARMED SEX CHANGE CHILD-CANNIBAL BRIDES FROM JAPAN, UNLUCKY THAI TYPO DESERTIFICATION REBELS, SUPERBUG SMUGGLED STORM GENES, TOBAGO DEMON VACCINE STATUES, BHAGVAD GITA GREENHOUSE RECRUITED GAS EMISSIONS, LOST COCAINE-CLIMATE RAMPAGE MONEY, AND IVORY COAST EX-MANGA-COP KILL THREE BLOODY RIDGE GUINEA PIGS, WOUND 34 ROLL YOUR OWN INDIAN BILLIONAIRES, AS ARMOURED, ALLAHU AKBAR, PUBLIC DISSENT VEHICLE ROBBED AFTER TWO-MONTH PACIFIC EARTHQUAKE DOUBLE DRIFT PUPPET SATIRE TORMENTS FOOD CRISIS CORAL-DRUG GIANTS FROM SMOKED SOMALIA GOLD MINES OVER VENEZUELAN INDIGENOUS GANG RAPED MANAHUNE BORDER BRIDGES

The Late Pleistocene (approximately 141,000 years ago) glacial period came to an end because of changes to the obliquity, or tilt, of the earth. This is a possible climate change hypothesis “because of the relatively large and persistent increases in summer energy reaching the high latitudes of both hemispheres during times of maximum Earth tilt”. The warming of oceans, exacerbated by melting glaciers that flow into them, is causing “horizontal mass redistribution” of the world’s seas. Essentially, the weight and position of the world’s oceans have shifted, and this has literally caused the earth to shift its position on its axis! Indeed, Inuit observations seem tied to the technical science of long-term climate change, specifically the theory of the Milankovitch Cycles, which seem to predict natural planetary warming and cooling periods based on the position of the earth and its axis in relationship to the sun.

An estimated two-thirds of Papua New Guinea’s six million people cannot read or write – but the “Buk Bilong Pikinini” movement hopes to make a positive difference. In pidgin, it means children’s book. Some branches of Papua New Guinea’s public library system do not even have books. Many education institutions and schools have no libraries, and children find it hard to learn to read and write.

In recent decades, coral reef ecosystems around the world have declined dramatically. One-fifth have died, and human activity directly threatens another 24 percent. As atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide increase, higher temperatures and ocean acidification could kill 70 percent of the world’s coral reefs by 2050. By century’s end, they could be gone entirely.

A traditional indigenous practice is being taken up by different communities to fight a food crisis in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region. Bengalis and other ethnic groups have adopted the practice of the Mro tribe, of creating a Rice Bank, in their own communities. They say the Rice Bank can give them the chance to prepare as rodents threaten another spell of destruction of crops including paddy in the coming season.

Violence has broken out all over the country of Nicaragua. Armed again, but this time organized by Sandinista thugs. Beatings and brutal physical attacks against intellectuals, journalists and civil rights group members are frequent here now. There is currently no legal opposition allowed in the country against the policies of the Nicaragua government (FSLN), controlled by the Sandinistas. It was illegal for any opposition to the Sandinistas to paint anything on poles or walls, which is what students have been doing for weeks to declare the elections stolen. During the early hours of the morning vehicles carrying armed gangs erase any opposition on walls in the country’s capital, Managua.

A look at some other pests that are benefiting or could benefit from global warming: Ticks that transmit Lyme disease are spreading northward into Sweden and Canada, once too cold for them.

The Trinidad and Tobago police have found pages of the Hindu holy book Bhagvad Gita soaked in millions of dollars worth of liquid cocaine in a laboratory in Couva, Central Trinidad. A Venezuelan national and four citizens of Trinidad and Tobago – two men and two women – were arrested and investigations are now on into this innovative way to traffic cocaine.

Thailand has issued rules making sex change surgery more difficult — including a requirement that potential candidates cross-dress for a year — over fears that some patients are rushing into the operation. Transsexuals and transgender men are a common sight in Thailand, appearing
on soap operas and working at all levels of Bangkok society, from
department store cosmetics counters and popular restaurants to corporate
offices and red-light districts. A national transgender beauty pageant
draws thousands to the beachside town of Pattaya every year. But over the past two years, a rash of castrations, especially among young
men, has alarmed the medical establishment and prompted the new rules.

Giant Humboldt squid have reached waters as far north as British Columbia,
threatening fisheries along much of the western North American coast.

Battling with one of the world’s highest murder rates, Venezuela crushed more than 30,000 guns seized from the streets during police raids this year. Policemen used blow-torches to chop up some of shotguns and pistols. They compacted weapons including home-made pistols into a 5 ton block.

A typo tragically sent Queens firefighters barreling to the wrong address – as three men died in a fire a mere three blocks away. As trapped residents desperately tried to escape an illegally converted boardinghouse on 65th Street in Woodside, the nearest fire companies found themselves on “a wild goose chase” on 62nd Street – because a 911 operator had mistakenly entered a 2 instead of a 5. Two crucial minutes were lost during the rerouting of Engine Co. 292 and Rescue Co. 4. They got to the scene four minutes and 55 seconds after the 911 call.

The African version of “Spitting Image” has delighted big audiences by ridiculing corrupt politicians. A rapping president describes himself as “a real bad dude”; a prime minister and vice-president fight over lavatories; and a set of parliamentarians suffer from a brain disease called “corruptophaelia”. Welcome to Kenya, as seen and portrayed by Africa’s version of Spitting Image, a daring puppet satire that is steadily pushing the boundaries of free expression and outraging the Nairobi elite. The XYZ Show, now preparing for its second series, proved a huge hit. Its well-aimed barbs delighted a devoted and growing audience, while scandalising the politicians who are the show’s main target.

Nicaragua’s navy seized 2,400 kilos (5,286 lbs.) of cocaine in Caribbean waters and arrested five people linked to the consignment.This has been a heavy blow against drug trafficking, The five Hondurans were carrying in their boat more than 2,400 kilos (5,286 lbs.) of drugs, as well as fuel; the five in custody are of Honduran nationality. They were arrested 45 miles east of Puerto Cabezas.

Numerous accounts of rapes show a similar pattern at the Porgera Joint
Venture (PJV) mine in Papua New Guinea, partly owned by Toronto-based
Barrick Gold Corp. The guards, usually in a group of five or more, find a woman while they are patrolling on or near mine property. They take turns threatening, beating and raping her. In a number of cases, women reported to me being forced to chew and swallow condoms used by guards during the rape.

Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are now found in South Korea, the Papua New
Guinea highlands, and other places previously not warm enough for them.

A British tourist in Thailand had been raped after being dragged off the
street by two men. She was taken to a hotel where she was raped and then robbed of her belongings. The woman, aged 25, said the attack happened early morning in the Thai resort of Pattaya, twenty metres from a police sentry box. The attack happened after she had been separated from friends.

Seven Papua New Guineans adrift in the Pacific Ocean for more than two months have been rescued but two have since died. A helicopter from the US-based fishing vessel “Ocean Encounter” spotted a 22-foot boat drifting near Nauru in the central Pacific. Seven men were onboard, they left Tabar Island in the New Ireland area of Papua New Guinea to return home to Lihir Island, a distance of about 50 kilometres (30 miles). But they ran out of fuel during what was expected to be a daytime trip and drifted to the northeast.

Unusually heavy rain fell during the period needed to dry the land before burning, says a Bidayuh from Sarawak, Malaysia. New weeds grew quickly over the farms, making it impossible to burn and threatened to ruin the year’s harvest. In response, a Bidayuh-Krokong village held Gawae Pinganga, an almost-forgotten ritual to ask the ‘Pinyanga’, the village’s spirit guardians, for a dry season. The last time such assistance had been asked of ‘Pinyanga’ was during World War II and the elders were uncertain as to the exact composition of the offering.

Organized citizen gangs, called the CPC or Consejo del Pueblo Ciudadana work closely with some of the most dangerous criminal delinquent gangs in the city and region, mostly young disenfranchised and uneducated men, to prevent any opposition to Daniel Ortega and his government policies, while rumors fly that Ortega flies to Cuba for blood transfusions.

The number of Indian billionaires has almost doubled, from 27 to 52 in the
last year, despite one of the worst global recessions in history, In the last year the Indian stock market has gained more than 75 per cent and the economy has grown by almost seven per cent. Yet 42 per cent of the population still live below the poverty line.

The meaning of the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar”, shouted by the Fort Hood killer Major Nidal Malik Hasan before he opened fire, is known as the takbir and is used by Muslims to express a wide range of emotions.

The number of tobacco smokers currently in Thailand has reached 14.3
million. Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry is considering a proposal to the Finance Ministry to increase the tax level on hand-rolled cigarette
products after finding over 7.4 million people smoke this style of
cigarette. The remainder smoke manufactured cigarettes.

Police in Uganda have arrested and extradited a man who is among the most wanted suspects from the Rwandan genocide. The 100-day killing rampage led to the loss of an estimated 10 percent of Rwanda’s population.

A corrupt former Philadelphia cop who used his badge to rob drug dealers
was sentenced yesterday to 30 years in a federal lockup. Malik Snell’s criminal acts had so tarnished the badge that he wore for 12 years that it would be removed from service and destroyed.

The Japan Meteorological Agency is planning to start monitoring levels of ‘’super’’ greenhouse gases, which have an enormous effect on global warming compared with carbon dioxide, at two observatories as part of efforts to combat global warming under the Kyoto Protocol.

Bark beetles reproducing more quickly in warming climates and expanding
their ranges have devastated forests across western North America. In
British Columbia they have laid waste to an area twice the size of Ireland.

Thailand’s main airport is to relocate 12 giant “demon statues” to boost the morale of staff who thought the figures brought bad luck. The statues at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport will move from the arrivals
area to the check-in zone at a cost of around 1.7 million baht (51,000
dollars.)

A gunman went on the rampage in the Northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific, killing at least four people and wounding six,
including five Korean tourists. An Asian gunman killed four local people, including two children aged four and three, and critically injured a four-year-old girl in an apparent random shooting spree at a local shooting range. The man then drove in a van to Last Command Post Park, a popular tourist destination and opened fire on a group of South Korean tourists.

Before any pill reaches the pharmacy shelf, it must first pass through a
gauntlet of human guinea pigs: the ‘clinical subjects’ paid to take trial
drugs so specialists can observe their symptoms. But like call centers and high-end hospitals, drug trials too are rapidly shifting to India and Asia with Thailand as the region’s favored frontrunner.

Tokyo has banned the sale and lease of anime films and manga comics
depicting rape, incest and other sex crimes to under-18s. A bill,
introduced by the metropolitan assembly, calls on the industry to self
regulate by toning down graphic comics and films on general release.
Publishers and retailers breaking rules face fines up to JPY 300,000. A
group of publishers, complaining of censorship, have threatened to boycott
Tokyo International Anime Fair.

Students are now putting together El Libro Negro, the black book that proves the elections of 2008 were stolen. With this in mind coupled with the increasing pressure on the Ortega government, after one week of peaceful opposition protest met by brutal Sandinista violence, Daniel Ortega finally admitted there had been fraud in the elections.

The recruits assembled by moonlight at a watering hole. Hundreds of boys and young Kenyan men were herded onto trucks, which were covered with heavy canvas and driven through the night. It was so hot inside they could hardly breathe. One recruit, said they banged the sides of the truck for water but got none. Some had to urinate where they stood. Their destination: a secluded training camp deep in the Kenyan bush.

Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast faced a battering by high winds and heavy rains Friday, as remnants of hurricane Ida wrecked homes and officials warned as many as 40,000 could be affected by the storm. Despite being downgraded to a tropical depression, heavy rains from Ida swelled rivers, destroying an estimated 530 houses and decimating remote communities in one of Central America’s poorest nations.

When it comes to American policy in Pakistan or, for that matter, Afghanistan. It’s just the norm on a planet on which it’s assumed that American civilian and military leaders can issue pronunciamentos about what other countries must do; publicly demand various actions of ruling groups; opt for specific leaders, and then, when they disappoint, attempt to replace them; and use what was once called “foreign aid,” now taxpayer dollars largely funneled through the Pentagon, to bribe those who are hard to convince.

An armoured vehicle travelling between Wewak and Maprik has been held up by robbers armed with two AR15 rifles, a pistol, a Winchester and an axe. The thieves escaped with an undisclosed amount of money.

The thousands of refugees arriving in Liberia had fled violence perpetrated by rebels who support Ouattara. At least 14,000 people have fled the violence and political chaos in Ivory Coast, some walking for up to four days with little food to reach neighboring Liberia. At least one child drowned while trying to cross a river.

“I had parked next to the Japanese Memorial and two of us went down the hill to the Pigs Tails with the Barbwire to record a video promoting the Solomon Islands, and left a female at my vehicle. Whilst we were down there recording, a person of Local Features walked past the vehicle and eyed the vehicle to see if anybody else was around, and just as he disappeared over the hill, 4 Youths, WITH BUSH KNIVES, approximate age of 20-25, approached the vehicle and DEMANDED MONEY, when they were told that she had no money, they went into the vehicle and STOLE THE TWO BACKPACKS from out of the vehicle and then ran down the hill towards the accommodation areas near the Lunga River…”

In the latest sign of deteriorating relations between the Andean
neighbours. Soldiers destroyed the walkways because they were being used by illegal militia and drug traffickers. They are two foot bridges that paramilitary fighters used, where gasoline and drug precursors were smuggled, subversive groups entered. They are not considered in any international treaty.

“The Head Shaman called for the spirits to come and show us if and how they wanted us to conduct the ceremony to ‘bring them home’. Sure enough they came and showed us. Of course I could not see because I am not the ‘sighted one’, but Aturn saw everything in a flash and told us exactly what the altar and offerings should look like. The ceremony was then held. After the Chief Priest finished, we sat and waited for the response. Within a minute, there was a sound from the east like an old man crying. It was a bird circling the small altar and then above the main altar three times. It is supposed to be a night bird but now it was in broad daylight. It was simply amazing!!! The omen is interpreted as saying ‘We thought that you have forgotten us … but now you come … we are happy. How nice for you to come.’ The rains stopped for seven days within the week after the ceremony.”

A microscopic parasite is spreading a deadly disease among salmon in
Alaska and British Columbia. Researchers say rising water temperatures are
partly to blame.

Thousands of people, including children, are being secretly recruited and
trained inside Kenya to battle Islamic insurgents in neighboring Somalia,
according to deserters, local officials, families of recruits and
diplomats. Most recruits are Somalis living in crowded refugee camps and
Kenyan nationals who are ethnic Somalis living nearby.

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. A Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected. However, the Japanese Meteorological Agency has issued tsunami warnings for the Ogasawara Islands and a tsunami advisory for southern Japan. The quake, which occurred 3:19 a.m., is about 95 miles (155 km) from Chichi-shima, Ogasawara Islands. It is also 210 miles from Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, and 650 miles from Tokyo.

A Sri Lankan was arrested by the Solomon Islands police after he had
escaped from the airport where he was to be deported. The man, who had been illegally residing in the country, was allegedly at the departure lounge when a group of armed men had helped him escape the police. He had been arrested again while four others have been linked to the incident.

Gases such as sulfur hexafluoride and dinitrogen monoxide, which
respectively have 20,000 and 300 times more global warming effects than
CO2, will be monitored at the meteorological observatory in Minamitori
Island, Japan’s easternmost island, and the atmospheric environment
observatory in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture.

A little loop of genes that give bacteria the power to resist virtually all known antibiotics is spreading quickly and likely to cause doctors headaches for years to come. They come on the equivalent of a genetic memory stick – a string of genes called a transmissible genetic element. Bacteria, unlike higher forms of life, can swap these gene strings with other species and often do so with wild abandon.

IIdephonse Nizeyimana was picked up at a hotel in Rubaga, a suburb of the
capital, Kampala, by the National Central Bureau of Interpol. He was transferred to a U.N. detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania, where the tribunal is based. Top officials who allegedly took part in the genocide, such as army generals and politicians, are tried by the tribunal.

Kenya has long feared that the conflict in Somalia, which has been bloodied by civil war since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, will spill across the border into its own neglected northeastern region.The area is home to hundreds of thousands of ethnically Somali Kenyans.

Sixteen countries, home to more than half the world’s smokers and bearing
the highest tobacco use, were involved in the study: Bangladesh, Brazil,
China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland,
Russian Federation, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam.

Five armed men robbed the Big Rooster outlet in 4-Mile but three were captured by police as they tried to get away with an undisclosed amount of money. They were all armed with pistols as they entered the fast food outlet and held up the company employees, customers and security guards at about 9am. As they exited the building and made for their getaway vehicle, police closed in and captured three – two in front of Freeway Motors and one in front of Big Rooster while the other two managed to escape on foot.

Nizeyimana is one of the four top accused who are earmarked by the
prosecutor to be tried by the tribunal in Arusha after their arrest as part of the ICTR completion strategy. Of a list of 13 fugitives, he is the second to be arrested in less than two months.

Thousands of would-be fighters, some as young as 11, have been lured into the militia by promises of up to $600 a month, but many fled after they were not paid, were beaten or went hungry. Many recruits remain in the ranks and see the secret militia as their only way out of overcrowded refugee camps and the dusty, poor towns around them.

The U.S. government warns that such invasive plants as the common reed,
hyacinth and purple loosestrife are likely to spread to northern states.

Translated as “God is great”, it can be used to express delight and
euphoria or as a war cry during battles. It is also said during each stage of both obligatory prayers, which are supposed to be performed five times a day, and supererogatory prayers, which are said at will. The Muslim call to prayer, or adhan, and commence to the prayer, or iqama, also contains the phrase, which is heard in cities all over the Muslim world.

Directives have been given to homicide detectives to charge a man with the
murder of German national Peter Taut. The suspect is expected to appear before a Tobago magistrate tomorrow. Taut’s body was discovered on in a shallow grave at his Bacolet Crescent home where he lived. Taut, 56, an engineer, died as a result of asphyxia, an autopsy performed revealed.

For Western pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, Asia
offers a glut of people willing to accept less money for testing out trial
medicines. Softer regulation is another big draw, as are improvements in
Asian hospitals’ facilities and an increase in Western-educated doctors. Just eight years ago, only 6 percent of the world’s drug trial patients were tested in Asia and India. The figure is now 11 percent.

The gunman, believed to be aged in his late 30s to early 40s, apparently
killed himself following the shooting spree but his motive was unclear.
The injured South Korean tourists included a 39-year-old man critically
wounded when he was shot in the back, and two other men aged 38 who were
reported to be in a stable condition. Two Korean children aged eight and five were treated and released after receiving minor cuts during the rampage. After shooting the tourists, the gunman drove to the nearby Bonzai Cliffs area on the northern tip of Saipan island. Police found the gunman’s van with smoke pouring from it and three rifles inside. The body of the shooter was found nearby with a gunshot wound to the head and another rifle.

Since returning to the presidency in 2007, 17 years after being voted out
of office at the end of the Sandinista revolution in 1990, Ortega has
created a network of private businesses that operate under the auspices of
the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), an opaque cooperation
agreement of leftist countries bankrolled primarily by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Ortega’s “ALBA businesses” — known by an alphabet soup of acronyms, including ALBANISA, ALBALINISA, and ALBACARUNA — have cornered Nicaragua’s petroleum import and distribution markets, become the country’s leading energy supplier and cattle exporter, turned profits on the sale of donated Russian buses, and purchased a hotel in downtown Managua, among other lucrative investment moves.

It was unclear whether police had recovered the money and the firearms used in the robbery. They said that any information on this would have to come from their superiors. Cooperate Executive Guards’ Tom Vele was manning the door when the robbers burst in, beat him up and pointed their pistols at him. A shaken Vele, with blood on his head and face, said that he thought they were customers wanting to buy food but they were actually robbers trying to rob the company. They arrived in a blue Toyota RAV4 sports utility, believed to have been stolen. The robbery came two days after police superintendent of operations warned the public to be wary of criminals during the festive season as they were targeting owners of Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4 sports utility vehicles.

In the past the Nyando River basin experienced long rains from March to
June with very short rain spells in November. This trend has been rather irregular in recent years with floods occurring in August instead of April. Dry periods have increased in length and farm harvests are dwindling. The Wakesi community traditionally offers sacrifices to the gods for rain. These offerings are made under trees such as the Baobab, as they are associated with rain. The community revealed that they are increasingly offering sacrifices to the gods for rain. It appears climate change is catalyzing these practices.

Refugees are supposed to find safety in the camps, not a government that is trying to trick their sons into going back to fight in Somalia. The recruitment of children violates the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Kenya is a signatory. Kenya is eager to counter the influence of insurgents in Somalia who preach the spread of a pan-Islamic state into Kenya and Ethiopia, where many Somalis live due to borders drawn by former colonial powers. Somalia’s al-Shabab insurgents — some of whom have ties to al-Qaida –already cross into northern Kenya.

In the attacks that started in April 1994, Hutu militias and members of the general population sought out Tutsis and moderate Hutus, and went on a
100-day killing rampage. Civilians and children got incentives to take part in the atrocities, including promises of land belonging to their Tutsi neighbors.

Only six out of every 10 smokers said they planned or are thinking about
quitting, while five in 10 smokers had tried to quit in the last 12 months. The survey found that 3.3 million workers are exposed to tobacco smoke at the workplace and 20.5 million adults to tobacco smoke in their homes.

Fishermen are ruining Semporna’s rich heritage with fish bombing. During their 1,000 hours of diving, the scientists heard 15 fish bombs going off and came across four unexploded bombs. They have warned that conservation action is urgent because of high threats from overfishing, destructive fishing and pollution.

Two women who were walking along the road, after leaving their respective
vegetable gardens, were approached to enquire as to whether they had seen four youths running, and, they said that they had seen some youths running down the hill towards the river, but didn’t take any notice of what they were wearing. In the TV Crew Backpack was a 4 THOUSAND ENGLISH POUND (SBD$40,000), VIDEO CAMERA, and their HERITAGE PARK HOTEL ROOM KEY. And the immediate concern was for the Tens of Thousands of Dollars worth of Equipment in their room. So the chase had to be suspended to go to the Hotel and move rooms and to make sure nothing else was stolen.

40,000 people will be directly or indirectly affected by the hurricane in preliminary damage projections. Nineteen communities are expected to be affected by the storm, which was gusting at up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) per hour.

The shopkeepers are blaming the ‘demon statues’ for the problems they have faced at the airport, which was seized late last year by demonstrators and supporters of the People’s Alliance of Democracy” (PAD).The guardian spirit statues will be shifted from the inner zone of the passenger terminal to the check-in area to ‘improve morale’ of people working at the airport. The anti-government PAD seized two of the Thai capital’s airports in a crippling eight-day blockade late in 2008, which badly dented the kingdom’s tourist-friendly image.

Recruiters started openly operating in Kenyan towns and in nearby huts and tents of the refugee camps. Some recruiters even worked from a hotel fronting a heavily fortified U.N. Compound in the northern town of Dadaab, home to three overcrowded camps of about 275,000 refugees, most from Somalia. More than a dozen deserters said they were promised positions in the Kenyan or Somali armies or jobs with U.N. Security by men acting as recruiters. Some said they were told they would patrol the Kenya-Somalia border, but upon arrival at the training camp, they were told they were going to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, or Kismayo, a key southern city under Islamist control.

President Obama said of Pakistan: “We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.” When it comes to U.S. Respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty, this country has more important fish to fry. A look at the historical record indicates that Washington has, in fact, been frying those “fish” for at least the last four decades without particular regard for Pakistani sensibilities.

Residents of the Ogasawara Islands are urged to evacuate coastlines
immediately. Evacuate from the seashore immediately to the safe places
near the above coasts. Scores of villagers on a remote Japanese island chain in the Pacific scrambled for higher ground after a major 7.4-magnitude offshore quake sparked a tsunami alert.

It was one of the most brutal genocides in modern history. Some figures put the number of dead at 1 million — 10 percent of the population of the
central African nation. Millions more were raped and disfigured. A whole
generation of children lost their parents.

In the Islamic world, instead of applause, often someone will shout
“takbir” and the crowd will respond “Allahu Akbar” in chorus.
It can also be used as a protest. In the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian
presidential election many people shouted it for an hour between 10pm and
11pm every day for nine days to show their anger at the result.

Desertification and land degradation is the greatest environmental
challenge of our time and a threat to global wellbeing. People must be paid via global carbon markets for preserving the soil. The top 20cm of soil is all that stands between us and extinction. Conflicts and food price crises all stem from the degradation of land.

The Cook Islands Health Ministry has announced the first HIV infection in
the country. Nothing is known about the person who has been diagnosed for privacy reasons, but follow-ups will be made with their previous sexual partners, to ensure the virus has not spread. With the large number of
tourists who arrive in the country each year, it’s no surprise that this
has finally happened.

The survey found that 74.4 per cent of adults noticed anti-cigarette
smoking information on television. Only one in 10 adults were aware of
cigarette marketing in stores where cigarettes are sold; seven in 10
smokers considered quitting because of warning labels; and 98.6 per cent of adults believed smoking causes serious illness. Most people mistakenly believe smoking hand-rolled cigarettes is less dangerous than manufactured cigarettes.

Nizeyimana was a captain the Rwanda Armed Forces, he is
accused of exercising authority over soldiers and personnel through a chain of command, and allegedly sent a section of soldiers to execute of Rosalie Gicanda, a former queen of Rwanda who was a “symbolic figure for all Tutsis.

She said she was unable to resist the two men who, after raping her, took
her Natwest bank and credit cards and 60 pounds in cash and a bracelet
worth 100 pounds. Last night police in Pattaya charged two men with rape and theft. They were named as Krajon Senkam, 29, and Surasak Kovekasan, 20, who were described as local ‘maeng da’ a Thai expression, literally translating as cockroaches, describing men who live off the earnings of local prostitutes. The men were arrested quickly as they were known in the area.

We naturally grasp the extremity of the Taliban – those floggings, beheadings, school burnings, bans on music, the medieval attitude toward women’s role in the world – but our own extremity is in no way evident to us. So Obama’s statement on Pakistani sovereignty is reported as the height of sobriety, even when what lies behind it is an expanding “covert” air war and assassination campaign by unmanned aerial drones over the Pakistani tribal lands, which has reportedly killed hundreds of bystanders and helped unsettle the region.

One typical test, which measures the speed of blood stream absorption, can require volunteers to consume a pill and submit to more than 35 blood draws throughout a weekend. Two weekends of testing, in the United States, would pay approximately $1,000. Volunteers in Thailand would more likely receive less than $50. Other disease-specific trials test experimental drugs on patients over a series of weeks or months. The ‘payment’ in these studies typically isn’t cash but rather the promise of cutting-edge treatment.

More than a third of the world’s child brides are
from India, leaving children at an increased risk of exploitation despite
the Asian giant’s growing modernity and economic wealth.

The police was informed so if you see any of the following items up for
SALE, please ring me on +677 747 6372, after you have detained, or delayed
the person offering it to you. I will come as soon as you have rang and
then they will be handed over to the police to face the consequences.
The list of items that were stolen and what they were contained in was:
One (1) Dark Blue Backpack belonged to the Film Crew, Jamie & Kim,
contained the following: 1 x Very Expensive Digital Video Camera containing a Digital Tape for Recording, 1 x Room Key to Room
112 of the Heritage Park Hotel, and 1 x some other items that I can’t
remember at the time of writing this statement.

The average amount of sulfur hexafluoride, frequently used as an insulator
in electronic devices, found in the atmosphere is relatively small at 6 to
7 parts per million compared with 380 ppm of CO2, but the level has doubled from the 1990s, mostly due to man-made emissions.the National Institute for Environmental Studies has been taking
samples and analyzing them four times a year on Hateruma Island in Okinawa
Prefecture. The agency plans to start monitoring levels once a week at the
observatories in Minamitori Island and Iwate.

The deserters all said they were taken to Manyani, a training center for
the Kenya Wildlife Service outside the port of Mombasa. They said their
cell phones were confiscated upon arrival and Kenyan citizens had to
surrender their identity cards. Kenyans of Somali descent can easily pass for Somalis. They share with Somali nationals the Islamic religion, a common language, and a tall, slender appearance, looking distinct from members of other ethnic groups from farther south.

Uniformed men, apparently from the Venezuelan army, arrived in trucks on
the Venezuelan side at two pedestrian bridges that link communities on both sides and then proceeded to dynamite them. The row renewed tensions that have bubbled for weeks, with Venezuela’s
president, Hugo Chavez, recently telling his armed forces “to prepare for
war” with their neighbour in order to ensure peace. Colombia’s decades-long civil war has for years spilled across its 1,375-mile border with Venezuela in the form of leftist guerrillas, right-wing militias and drug traffickers, a nexus made even murkier by contraband and corrupt local authorities.

Seventy thousand H1N1 vaccines valued at US$675,000 will be here in time
for this country’s hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. And while the safety and the efficacy of the vaccine is still being questioned,these vaccines have
been used in over 20 countries over the past several weeks and have proven
to be very safe. While the vaccines are a welcomed move in light of the
215 confirmed swine flu cases and five related deaths, they hope the
ministry has a plan to deal with the chaos that can ensue.

A jury convicted Snell of conspiracy, attempted robbery and a
weapons offense in connection with a botched home-invasion robbery in
Pottstown. Snell, 37, was also convicted of taking $40,000 in cash from a South Philadelphia drug kingpin during a bogus police car stop

The seabed tremor struck at 2:19 am local time jolting people out of bed as loudspeakers blared across the Ogasawara islands and authorities warned of the risk of a two-metre (six-foot) high local tsunami. The tsunami alert was later downgraded and all warnings were lifted five hours after the quake hit near the islands, some 1,000 kilometres (600
miles) south of Tokyo. No injuries or damage were reported.

Nearly 25 million women in India were married in the year 2007 by the age
of 18; children in India, Nepal and Pakistan may be engaged or even married before they turned 10. Millions of children are also being forced to work in harmful conditions, or face violence and abuse at home and outside, suffering physical and psychological harm with wide-reaching, and sometimes irreparable effects.

The takbir is also included on the flags of many Arabic nations. It is
written on the centre of the flag of Iraq, 22 times along the borders of
the central white stripe on the flag of Iran, and beneath the Shahadah in
the 2004 draft constitution of Afghanistan in white script on the central
red background.

The Chinese government has abducted and unlawfully detained large number of Chinese citizens in illegal prisons. State-run hotels, nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals in Beijing are being used as so-called “black jails”. Many people
detained in these illegal prisons are citizens from rural areas who travel to Beijing and other provincial capitals to file complaints for abuses such as illegal land grabs, government corruption and police torture. In these “black jails” they are subjected to physical violence, theft, extortion, threats, intimidation, and deprivation of food, sleep and medical care,

The other Backpack, belonged to myself, was a Columbia Brand Backpack,
being a unique Backpack within the Solomon Islands as it was given to me by Patricks Defence Logistics whilst I was employed with them and told that it was a Prototype Backpack, which had a main pouch, a zipped opening at the top near the handle and a smaller front semi-attached pouch at the front with a zip for the main pouch and a smaller zip for an internal pouch at the front, and, was of sentimental value as it was the only thing that I got out of Patricks that I have left.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, many governments around
the world are forced to support their private economy in the face of weak
global demand. The combination of higher spending and lower revenues
results in the deterioration the government’s fiscal health. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has such concerns for several Pacific
Island countries.

Hand-rolled cigarettes also cause serious illness for smokers such
as oral cancer and cancer of the aesophagus. In India, about
100,000 died from smoking hand-rolled cigarettes each year.
Most cigarette manufacturers are now producing more smokeless
cigarettes after noting an increasing trend in smokeless tobacco use among
teenagers worldwide.

New Delhi metallobeta-lactamase 1 or NDM-1 for short, will cause more trouble in the coming years. What makes this enzyme so frightening is not only its intrinsic ability to destroy most known beta-lactam antibiotics but also the company it keeps. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are nothing new — virtually all strains of the common Staphylococcus bacteria are now resistant to penicillin. Almost as soon as penicillin was introduced in the 1940s, bacteria began to develop resistance to its effects, prompting researchers to develop many new generations of antibiotics.

Tiny rations of dirty food, beatings and failure to pay promised salaries
caused widespread desertion, recruits said. Some who tried to flee were
caught and beaten, but many managed to return home through Tsavo, a vast
national park filled with dangerous animals that surrounds the training
camp. At least one boy who fled at night with a group of nine others was attacked and killed by lions, another group of deserters was chased by elephants. Some recruits called their families on phones smuggled into the camp and whispered tearful pleas for help.

A society cannot thrive if its youngest members are forced into early
marriage, abused as sex workers or denied their basic rights. Despite rising literacy levels and a ban on child marriage, tradition and
religious practices are keeping the custom alive in India, as well as in
Nepal and Pakistan.

A spike in violence on the Venezuelan side, including the abduction and
murder of an amateur football team, and the drive-by shooting of two border guards, prompted authorities to reinforce the border. Destroying the bridges was a “necessary and sovereign act to curb border
infiltration and drug smuggling,” the economy minister said. Colombian media reported that villagers on their side of the border
remonstrated and threw stones at the Venezuelan troops in a vain
effort to save the walkways. They were sighted at two rural spots, Las Naves and Chicoral, near the Colombian municipality of Ragonvalia.

One cabinet minister denounced the programme as “weird”, while another
complained that villagers were mistaking the puppets for the real-life
equivalents. But to the relief of viewers, the government decided not to
order it off the air, even after a clip entitled “What if Kenya was
perfect?”, which depicted President Mwai Kibaki and the prime minister,
Raila Odinga, in jail in The Hague for crimes committed during last year’s
election violence.

The cholera outbreak in Papua New Guinea’s Madang is still worsening with more than 300 people now being treated for the illness. Cholera is a diarrheal infection caused by ingesting bacteria in water or
food, and can kill healthy people within hours.

More than half the world’s child brides are in south Asia, which also
accounts for more than half the unregistered births, leaving children
beyond the reach and protection of state services and unable to attend
school or access basic healthcare.

Thailand’s people are largely healthy and eligible for testing thanks to a
90-cents-per-visit public healthcare scheme. Its hospitals are staffed by
English-speaking physicians and specialists educated abroad. There’s also no single Thai regulatory body responsible for approving
trials — both a convenience and source of frustration for pharmaceutical
firms. In a departure from Western standards, trial supervisors don’t have to report what the industry calls “Unexpected Suspected Adverse Drug
Reactions” — meaning worrisome side-effects of prototype drugs don’t have
to be documented.

Rains could produce flash floods and mudslides, as Nicaraguans waited for Ida to head north out to sea. One of the first areas affected were the Corn Islands, a tropical paradise popular with backpackers. Around 300 tourists were evacuated from the islands by civil defense forces.

But about 120 people temporarily evacuated to higher ground on Chichi-shima island and some 50 people on Haha-shima island overnight. “It was the biggest earthquake I have ever felt,” said Masae Nagai, a hotel
owner on Chichi-shima, part of the remote archipelago also called the Bonin islands, which has a population of about 2,300.

Only 6 percent of all births in Afghanistan and 10 percent in Bangladesh
were registered from 2000-08, compared to 41 percent in India and 73 percent in the tiny Maldives.

The contents of my backpack at the time were a follows: 1. In the Main Backpack Pouch: a) 1 x Yellow Coffee Table Insert Book with Coastwatchers Posters, Pricelist and other advertising material, including a Coastwatchers Memorial Information Sheet from the Coastwatcher Memorial Trust, and, other Coastwatchers Paperwork related to SCUBA Diving, approximate Value of SBD$1,500, and 2: In the Top Main Backpack Pouch near the Handle: a) A packet of Sinus Tablets, approximate Value of SBD$80. 3: In the Front Smaller Pouch: a) 1 x DC500 Sealife Underwater Camera with Land & Sea Underwater Program (unique and the only one (1) in the Solomon Islands) containing a 1 Gigabyte SD Memory Card in a Camera Case designed for the Camera approximate Value of AUD$1,500; b) 2 x DC500 Sealife Underwater Camera Batteries (unique to the camera) approximate Value of AUD$200; c) 1 x Solomon Islands Tourism Industry Association (SITIA) ANZ Cheque Book with either 20 or 40 Unsigned Blank Cheques in it, approximate value of SBD$10 or SBD$20; d) 1 x SITIA Receipt Book with approximately 70 blank receipts, approximate Value of SBD$12; e) 1 x Coastwatchers ANZ Cheque Book with 22 Unsigned Blank Cheques in it, approximate Value of SBD$11; f) 1 x Reading Glasses Case containing: i) Reading Glasses, approximate Value of AUD$250; ii) Writing Pen, approximate Value of SBD$5; iii) A laminated Honiara Recompression Chamber Contact Numbers Checklist, approximate Value of SBD$100. iv) 5 Coastwatchers Business Cards, approximate Value of SBD$100. v) 1 x Packet of Pall Mall Blue Cigarettes, approximate Value of SBD$22.

Land conflicts in Somalia, dust storms in Asia and the food price crises of recent years all stem from the degradation of land, due to overuse by humans and the impacts of global warming. Since the early 1980s, a quarter of the planet’s land has been despoiled and 1% a year continues to be lost.

“Ocean Encounter” was expected to arrive in Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, to get medical treatment for the survivors, who are suffering from “overexposure and aggressive signs of
malnutrition.” After being picked up, crew spoon-fed small amounts of water and a rice-and-water mix to the survivors because “their systems could only accept small amounts under their condition.” It was not immediately known what the men had to eat or drink during their
two-month ordeal. The survivors said they saw several fishing
vessels during their two months at sea, but these “ignored their gestures
(calling for) assistance.”

Research on a “brain-eating tribe” may hold the key to understanding and
even treating mad cow disease: A genetic study of the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea has shown that certain members carry genetic mutations that protect them from a disease called kuru, which can be contracted by eating prion proteins in brain matter. The disease, which kills tribe members lacking the mutation, is similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), sometimes erroneously referred to as “mad cow disease.”

The better known issues of climate change and loss of biodiversity are both rooted in the global loss of fertile soil, as the soil
harbours a huge stock of carbon and the health of creatures living in the
soil underpins global food production and forest growth. The reason
desertification has not been a priority is because 90% of the 2.1 billion
people who live in drylands live in developing countries,

Also, about 44 million, or 13 percent of all children in south Asia, are
engaged in labour, with more than half in India.

Local authorities on the Ogasawara islands, near Iwo Jima, said they had
set up five shelters for residents but had closed them before sunrise in
the absence of damage reports. The jolts were relatively stronger than those we have felt in the past. But there was no panic as people acted in an orderly manner.

Children in the region have also been seriously affected by insurgency and
instability, as well as natural disasters. We were worried about our students as the jolt was quite strong and lasted very long. But we were relieved to confirm that none of our students were injured and no facilities were damaged. We were quite lucky, considering the size of the quake. The quake hit at a shallow depth of 14 kilometres, 153 kilometres (95 miles) east of Chichi-shima, and was followed by a series of aftershocks measuring between 5.3 and 5.6 which continued into the morning.

Kenyan politicians are not the only people to have suffered ridicule. A
jug-eared, foul-mouthed Barack Obama was shown debating with Osama bin
Laden, who wore a Nike turban and drank Pepsi while pledging to end western civilisation. After the death of Michael Jackson, his puppet equivalent was questioned by God about why he changed his skin colour and about “those little boys”. “Because I’m bad,” Jackson replied.

The Japanese government plans to tighten management of its mineral resources by demanding exploration permits and overhauling the granting of
mining rights.

Especially in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, past or ongoing conflicts
have broken down most child protection systems, leaving children especially vulnerable.

As it turns out, reefs are quite valuable. Inferring from more than 80
studies, the economists found that, on average, 2.5 acres of coral reef
provide $130,000 worth of goods and services, and sometimes as much as $1.2 million. Here’s the monetary breakdown: Food, raw materials, ornamental resources: average, $1,100 (up to $6,000). Climate regulation, moderation of extreme events, waste treatment/water purification, biological control: average, $26,000 (up to $35,000). Cultural services (e.g., recreation/tourism): average, $88,700 (up to $1.1 million). Maintenance of genetic diversity: average, $13,500 (up to $57,000).

The vast bamboo growing areas, spreading over parts of India, Bangladesh
(taking in the hill tracts) and Myanmar, have been facing acute food
shortages since 2007 due to a rat plague, which occurs on regular basis
every 47 to 50 years. According to government, around 1.1 million people live in the hill districts of Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban, with an area of over 13,000 square kilometres. Half belong to different indigenous groups and half are Bengalis who settled in the 1970s and 80s. Chakma, Bengali, Marma, Mro, Tenchunga, Pankho are the major communities. Mro farmers have traditionally deposited rice in a ‘bank’ during the
harvest period. Community members can take grain from it when necessary.
Non-farmers can also take food from the bank so the whole community
overcomes hunger together.

That’s why we see tanks full of bearded dragons at every shop (and not blue tongues) because bearded dragons have clutches and clutches of eggs many times during the year while the BTS only has 5-15 babies (on average) every 1-2 years. If you’re trying to make money in a reptile business or pet store, blue tongues are not the way to go! It’s much easier to snatch BTS out of the wild and sell them than wait on babies for months and years on end.

Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Tuvalu are maintaining their
government expenditures even as tax revenues have declined because of their weakened economies. The Cook Islands and Fiji Islands have expansionary fiscal policies because they are still subsidizing key industries, building their infrastructure, and trying to soften the impact of the global recession. The Samoan government has to cope with tsunami damages on top of the typical challenges that face Pacific Island countries.

About three hours after the quake, a 60 centimetre (two feet) wave was
monitored 700 kilometres away at Hachijo-jima, part of the Izu island chain that runs south of Tokyo. Waves of up to 20 centimetres also reached the southwestern Japanese main islands.

Full-scale war between Colombia and Venezuela was “unlikely” but there
remained the potential for a bloody border clash. Things are so tense it’s definitely possible. Alarm bells should
be ringing. Chavez, who says he is leading a socialist revolution against US hegemony, has protested against a deal that will extend US access to Colombian military bases. He accused Colombia’s conservative president, Alvaro Uribe, of being a Washington pawn. Venezuela has cut the $7bn annual bilateral trade between the two countries, sparking protests from businesses on both sides of the border.

Trafficking of children for labour, prostitution or domestic services is
widespread, especially within Bangladesh and India, and within the region,
as well as to Europe and the Middle East.

The world is driven by city dwellers: political leaders are setting agendas to satisfy people who live in the
cities, we therefore tend to perceive soil as just dust, or mud, or a
dumping place. But if we don’t preserve that first 20cm of soil, where will we get our food and water from? Half the world’s livestock are raised on drylands and a third of crops, especially wheat.

The impacts of climate change — rising temperatures and more erratic
rainfall — are here already from Latin America to the Sahel.
Adding to the pressure on land is rising global population, which is
expected to pass the 7 billion mark next year and reach 9 billion by 2050.
As well as the consequences for food and water, violent conflicts and
migration will also increase, affecting those living outside
drylands.

Last Command Post Park was the site where the Japanese military commanders
were based during the final advance of American troops during World War II. The nearby Bonzai Cliffs site is also popular with tourists and was where thousands of Japanese civilians living on the island threw themselves into the sea as the Japanese defeat loomed. The Northern Mariana Islands has a population of about 89,000 people, and
is a self governing commonwealth in union with the United States, lying
about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines.

Inequality is increasing and nothing has been done to curb “grotesque”
amounts of wealth building up in India. Mukesh Ambani, the head of Reliance Industries, remains the richest person in India with a net worth of 32 billion US dollars. India’s 100 richest people have a combined wealth of 270 billion US dollars.

Soldiers who witnessed the shooting rampage that killed 13 people at Fort
Hood military base in Texas have reported that gunman Major Nidal Malik
Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar” before opening fire. Islamic groups have prepared for a public backlash after it emerged that
Hasan was a Muslim and have expressed fears about inter-faith relations,
already strained by the September 11, 2001 attacks, and wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan.

Most infections that people get while in the hospital resist at least one
antibiotic. For example, half of all Staphylococcus aureus infections in the United States are resistant to penicillin, methicillin, tetracycline and erythromycin. Methicillin-resistant staph aureus or MRSA killed an
estimated 19,000 people in the United States alone in 2005.

The Ogasawara chain, made up of more than 30 subtropical and tropical
islets some 240 kilometres north of Iwo Jima, were put under the control of the United States after World War II, and returned to Japan in 1968.
The remote islands have preserved their unique biological habitats and have been dubbed the Galapagos of the Orient. After sounding the
initial alert there was no threat of a destructive widespread tsunami and
no nearby islands were thought to be in the tsunami danger zone.

All villagers, irrespective of their livelihoods, would
get rice from the buffer stock during crisis periods. Rangamati inhabitants can cultivate rice during periods when the lake
waters recede from December to April. Their land goes under water during
the rainy season starting in May every year. They also depend on fishing, but for only eight to nine months a year as
the government bans fishing in Kaptai lake during the rainy season. Fishermen will be able to take rice from the bank provided that they give
more to the community stock when they earn more. About 300 villages throughout the hill tracts had accepted the Rice Bank concept.

Insufficient emphasis has been placed on protecting child victims of
trafficking and ensuring that any judicial proceedings brought against them are child sensitive.

According to 2009 data, Cook Islands and Fiji Islands had
their highest budget deficit as a percentage of GDP at 11.7 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. The Cook Islands and Kiribati had the highest trade deficits at 92.7 percent.

Japan has abundant supplies of methane hydrate in deep-sea regions off its
coast. And sea floor hydrothermal deposits that contain copper, zinc, gold
and other metals are distributed off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands.

The situation is critical. Coral reefs are showing signs of stress from local pressures at the same time that climate change is starting to have a bigger and bigger impact on reefs. Overfishing has reduced the quality of many reefs. The people of Sabah should be very proud that they own such a top marine eco-system in the world. Semporna is not only a world-class diving spot. The expedition, encountered 844 species of fish,
including 756 species of reef fish, more than 90 coral shrimp species and
more than 100 algae species. The scientists also discovered some coral shrimp and gall crab species that were new to science and a rare mushroom coral species, the lithophyllon ranjithi.

Suspected insurgents killed three people, including a toddler,
and wounded at least 34 Tuesday in a grenade, gun and car bomb attack on
two restaurants and a hotel in Thailand’s south.

The two-family home had been converted to at least seven single-room units, according to the Department of Buildings, which yesterday issued three violations. The house had 10 residents, including the
owners and their two children. There were no smoke detectors in the
basement, and two elsewhere in the house had no batteries, fire inspectors
found. “I heard a huge bang; I heard screams, so I looked through the window and saw flames coming out of the basement. Blue, red – it was raging.”

4) In the Front Smaller Pouch Front Zippered Area: a) 1 x Bendigo Bank (Australia) Internet Banking Key Code Machine with “The
light is on but nobody is home” Neck Holder, approximate Value of AUD$50.
b) A plastic bag containing the following keys from my Laptop Keyboard
approximate Value of AUD$200: i) Shift Key, ii) Letter ‘A’ Key, iii) Letter ‘Z’ Key, and iv) Caps Lock key. c) Toe Nail Cutters attached by an Elastic (Rubber) Band to Finger Nail Cutters, approximate Value of AUD$25,
d) 1 x one (1) Gigabyte Memory Stick with World War II Photos on it (a
Folder name of “Extras for Jaime” on it, approximate Value of AUD$200, e)
2 x Parker Pen without ink sticks, approximate Value of AUD$12, f) 1 x
Nokia Phone Headphone Attachment, approximate Value of AUD$25, g) 1 x
Infra-red Mouse Pouch (with possible instruction sheet inside), approximate Value of AUD$15, h) Another battery for the Sealife Underwater Camera, approximate Value of AUD$100, 5) In one of the Mesh Side Pockets was the SITIA & Coastwatchers Post Office Box Keys on a series of Key Rings and Tags approximate Value of SBD$200.

The brutal violence brings the death toll over the past two days to four
and the number of casualties to more than 50 as a result of militant
attacks in the troubled Thai south, which is gripped by a bitter five-year
uprising.

Increased aridity is making the drylands the most conflict prone region of the world. If you really want to look at the root causes of the conflicts in Somalia and Darfur, and drylands of Asia, you will understand that people in their quest to have access to productive land and water for life, they end up in conflict. In nothern Nigeria, where increased aridity means lack of fodder is driving herders south into the areas farmed for corn. Conflict is almost inevitable.

With 13,000 murders in 2007, the last time figures were published, violent crime consistently registers as Venezuelans’ main concern in opinion polls.
Gun laws are lax in the South American oil exporter. The government estimates there are 6 million firearms circulating among the population of about 28 million. Venezuela’s murder rate is about 8 times that of the United States. Crime has risen under President Hugo Chavez, who has focused on poverty reduction to tackle violence in poor city neighborhoods.

But it warned in a bulletin shortly after the quake: Earthquakes of this
size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within 100 kilometres of the earthquake epicentre. When a massive 8.8-magnitude quake, one of the most powerful on record,
struck off Chile’s coast in February, Japan issued its top tsunami alert
and ordered more than half a million people to evacuate seaside areas. Authorities later apologised after a wave of 120 centimetres hit and caused no injuries.

After missing work for several days, Jose Emilio Galindo Robles, the
regional director for Radio Universidad de Guadalajara in Ciudad Guzmon,
was found dead inside his home. Authorities have given little information about the case but have confirmed that the journalist
was killed. A motive had not been confirmed. Galindo, 43, known as “Pepe Galindo,” had experience as a reporter and
researcher of environmental topics, especially environmental legislation.
He won the Second Biennial of Latin American Radio for a report about
political crimes in Mexico, El Informador adds. In 2004 he won first prize
in the Biennial of National Radio for a report about pollution of the
Santiago River caused by private companies.

The rebels, travelling by car and on three motorcycles, hurled a hand
grenade into a restaurant at lunchtime in Sungai Kolok, a border
town in Narathiwat province, wounding four people.

NDM-1 resists many different types of antibiotic. In at least one case, the only drug that affected it was colistin, a toxic older antibiotic.
Thus far, the majority of isolates in countries throughout the world can
be traced to subjects who have traveled to India to visit family or have

received medical care there. However, the ability of this genetic element to spread rapidly among Enterobacteriaceae means that there will almost certainly be numerous secondary cases throughout the world that are unrelated to travel to the Indian subcontinent.

They then opened fire on customers, shooting dead a Buddhist police officer and injuring another four people. A three-year-old boy who
suffered gunshot wounds later died at hospital. The gunmen then began shooting at another nearby restaurant, killing the owner, a 45-year-old Buddhist woman, and wounding four people. A car bomb exploded in front of one of the town’s hotels soon afterwards, wounding 23 people.

Around 20 percent of the world’s most powerful earthquakes strike Japan,
which sits on the “Ring of Fire” surrounding the Pacific Ocean. In 1995 a magnitude-7.2 quake in the port city of Kobe killed 6,400 people. But high building standards, regular drills and a sophisticated tsunami
warning system mean that casualties are often minimal.

“The most obscene thing I came across was a copy of the Bhagvad Gita,
the pages torn and soaked in liquid cocaine.” This oil-rich nation continues to be the transhipment point for cocaine coming from South America to the US and Canada. Special anti-drug officers have been trained both at home and abroad in the government’s fight against drugs. The accused are to appear in courts shortly. Trinidad and Tobago is home to a large Indian diaspora sourced from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 1845 and 1917. The immigrants were brought here during the British rule to work on the sugar and cocoa plantation.

The explosive weighed 30 to 50 kilograms and was hidden in a Honda Civic
with a fake licence plate, which had passed a screening by a bomb detection machine. The bomb was hidden in the passenger car and detonated by radio signal; two of the wounded were in a serious condition.

An explosive hidden in a motorcycle went off in Pattani
province close to where Buddhists were attending a festival, wounding 17 — five of them seriously.

Desertification and rising aridity were the ultimate cause of the food
price crisis of 2007-8, as it began with a drought in
Australia. This year’s price spike started with a drought in Russia.
Another example of desertification’s impact was the loss of land bordering
the Gobi desert leading to record dust storms that damage the health of
people in Seoul in South Korea, thousands of kilometres away. Combating
desertification and soil degradation requires better land management,
better equipment and new technology to manage water, drought resistant
seeds and payment to communities for preserving the soil.

Four gunmen on two motorcycles opened fire on a 34-year-old Muslim rubber worker as he travelled to work in Narathiwat province; he died at the scene. The bloody rebellion has claimed more than 3,900 lives since it erupted in Thailand’s Muslim-majority southern provinces, bordering Malaysia, in January 2004.

In the early morning the little broadcasting center of the community radio
station “Radyo Cagayano” was being burned
down completely. At about two in the morning, eight mummed soldiers
infiltrated the premises in the small town of Baggao in the Northern
Philippines, captivated and gagged the employees and ignited the entire
radio station with petrol. Radyo Cagayano had just started broadcasting a
few weeks ago and had especially stood up for the interests of local
farmers.

Experts have been warning for years that poor hospital practices and the
overuse of antibiotics spread dangerous bacteria, but practices are
changing only slowly. The fact that there is widespread nonprescription use of antibiotics in India, a country in which some areas have less than ideal sanitation and a high prevalence of diarrheal disease and crowding, sets the ideal stage for the development of such resistance.

The Tongan people were acquainted with the Manahune under the name Haa-Meneuli. but The Haa-Meneuli appear to be Tongans. The Mana’une people of Mangaia Island, Cook Group,are stated by Taniera, their chief, to have come originally to Mangaia from Rapa-nui or Easter Island, and that in appearance they resemble the people of the Tokerau Islands.

The shadowy rebels, who have never publicly stated their goals, target
Muslims and Buddhists alike and both civilians and members of the security
forces, usually with shootings and bombings. The attacks echoed a serious blast in August, which ripped through a restaurant in Narathiwat packed with government officials, wounding at least 42 people. Tensions have simmered since the region, formerly an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate, was annexed by predominantly Buddhist Thailand in 1902.

While biodiversity is extremely high, the downside is that the population is glaringly low due to over-exploitation. Coral reefs provide a haven for fish and other creatures, and larger fish tend to congregate around reefs because they are good places to feed. Bleaching — a whitening of corals that occurs when symbiotic algae living within coral tissues are expelled — is an indication of stress caused by environmental triggers such as fluctuations in ocean temperature. Depending on many factors, bleached coral may recover over time or die. Semporna is within the 5 million sq km of sea straddling the waters of Sabah, the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Irian Jaya Blue Tongue Skinks are from Indonesia, and are often what you see in the pet stores for $199.99. They are snatched from the wild and sold to pet stores for about $25. Irian Jaya’s are truly terrific BTS that are capable of shades of orange, brown, and red. These babies 100% captive bred. Irian Jaya (and Indonesians) are the easiest type of BTS to find, but keep in mind, finding a truly captive bred bluey can prove to be very difficult. Nearly ALL pet store blue tongues are wild caught. Very, very rarely do you see Northerns in pet stores because it’s simply not cost-efficient for reptile businesses to breed them.

A cheque, for over K1 million belonging to the Telefomin people in West
Sepik, lost in a taxi by a politician, has been found. The cheque was
returned to Telefomin MP Peter Iwei’s parliament office following
widespread publicity and public appeal. Telefomin has a population of about 40,000 people who share a common border with Indonesia.

The idea is one of the ways of sharing poverty in the villages. Their spirit is: they will eat together and starve together. A cyclical plague of rats was likely to continue destroying crops in the region in the coming season. The hill tracts are experiencing a severe infestation of rats, which occurs every 50 years or so, as bamboo flowers produce seeds high in protein, and rats breed four times faster than normal during this time. The rats destroy the paddy and vegetable fields resulting in severe food crisis among the communities. The rat infestation grew over the last two years and may continue for another two to three years. The rodent plague is also affecting at least 25,000 people in six villages along the Indian state of Mizoram.

The Inuit believe our world has tilted on its axis and this contributes to climate change. The elders in Pangnirtung, Iqaluit, Resolute Bay and Igloolik – all believe this phenomenon to be true. It’s been very interesting to see elders and hunters across Nunavut make the same observation about the world having shifted on its axis. Elders across Nunavut have noticed that the sun and stars have changed their position in the sky. The sun is now rising higher and staying longer than it used to. Importantly, in the far north, you must remember that the sun goes below the horizon for a large part of the year, and therefore Inuit are very familiar with its celestial pattern. Indeed, Inuit are telling stories about how in the old days, during the dark months, they would travel the land by dog team using stars as their navigational tools. So, when Inuit talk about the sun and stars, they do so with an intimate knowledge of these systems.

11/9/2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The CIA Playlist includes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello, I Live In Tobago And Would Like To Be An Agent For Yamaha Outboard
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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.

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.

1/20/2009

MIGRANTS ADRIFT WITH POWERFUL QUAKES SEIZING KILINOCHCHI KINGDOM

A series of powerful earthquakes killed at least four people and injured
dozens more in remote eastern Indonesia, cutting power lines and destroying
buildings.

The loss of Kilinochchi, its capital, is a major blow to the Tamil Tiger
movement fighting for autonomy in the Sinhalese-dominated country. But the
army’s success in capturing the town does not mark the death of the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Thailand’s new prime minister was under pressure to answer allegations that
hundreds of Burmese and Bangladeshi migrants were set adrift at sea with
little food and water by the armed forces.

One of the quakes — a 7.3-magnitude tremor — sent small tsunamis into
Japan’s southeastern coast, but there were no reports of damage there and
no tsunami in Indonesia’s impoverished Papua area.

Kilinochchi was the LTTE’s political headquarters, strung out on the main
tarmac road from Colombo to Jaffna. The government could always strike it
at will by air, as it did when aircraft bombed the offices of SP
Thamilselvan, the man with whom foreign diplomats as well as the government
had frequently negotiated.

Abhisit Vejjajiva met with officials from the country’s human rights
commission amid claims that up to 1,000 migrants, mostly from the Rohingya
ethnic minority from western Burma, were towed out to sea and abandoned on
boats without engines. At least 300 remain unaccounted for. Human rights
groups allege four migrants were thrown into the sea to encourage others to
climb aboard the vessels.

The first 7.6-magnitude quake struck on land about 85 miles (135
kilometers) from Manokwari, Papua, at a depth of 22 miles (35 kilometers),
the U.S. Geological Agency said. It was followed by 10 aftershocks.

By advancing into the town by land the army has forced any remaining LTTE
politicians to withdraw altogether. But the movement’s military HQ and its
logistical bases are hidden well to the east near its coastal stronghold of
Mullaitivu. The whereabouts of the Tiger’s ruthless leader, Velupillai
Prabhakaran, has never been clear.

Vejjajiva stressed the alleged abuse of the migrants ran counter to
government policy, and that the military had confirmed to him that it
respected all migrants.

At least four people died in Papua, and the airport runway nearest the
epicenter was cracked, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters.
Commercial flights to the area were canceled.

Seizing Kilinochchi was done at a fearful human cost. Comparisons with Gaza
are not amiss, down to the censorship that prevented journalists entering
the area while the fighting was underway. Several days of unopposed
airstrikes and artillery fire killed civilians as well as Tiger militants,
and forced tens of thousands of families to flee into the jungle en masse.
Hundreds of troops have died on both sides in the offensive, which has
taken months to reach its goal.

However, Thailand’s foreign ministry has launched an inquiry into the
damning allegations that the navy and the army had imprisoned and
mistreated the migrants on the southern Thai island of Koh Sai Daeng before
abandoning them to die in the Indian Ocean.

“I’ve instructed emergency steps be taken to help our brothers and to
restore power and other vital utilities,” he said without commenting on how
widespread the damage might be.

Among the dead was a 10-year-old girl whose head was crushed, said local
hospital director Hengky Tewu.

If the survivors’ tales prove correct the expulsions are a reversal of a
policy Thailand followed for years, allowing the impoverished and stateless
Muslim Rohingya to land on their way to Malaysia. Many were said to have
been turned over to human traffickers.

“We have our ambulances picking up two more,” he said. Another 19 patients
at the hospital were treated for broken bones, cuts, crushed fingers and
other injuries.

Like Gaza too, this is asymmetrical warfare and the Tigers were quick to
take the shine off the government’s victory by sending a suicide bomber
into the heart of Colombo to kill two airmen at the air force headquarters.
This has always been the Tiger tactic in extremis, and they will probably
revert to more of it in the aftermath of losing Kilinochchi.

Indian authorities on the Andaman Islands say they have rescued 446
refugees lately.

Papua police chief Maj. Gen. Bagus Ekodanto said he received reports that a
hotel and rice warehouse had been “destroyed,” but he did not know if
anyone had died. A search for possible victims was under way.

Several stories of the Mutiara Hotel in the main city Manokwari collapsed,
said Ina, a nurse at a navy hospital treating 20 quake patients. Like many
Indonesians she goes by a single name.

In one incident, the Thai navy allegedly set adrift an open-topped,
engineless barge loaded with 412 people. Those aboard had just four barrels
of water and two sacks of rice.

Meanwhile, the government hopes to move on to capturing the Elephant Pass,
the last Tiger bastion on the road to Jaffna. If it falls, this will make
it easier to re-supply the island’s second largest town, which at the
moment has to get its provisions by sea and air. The army boasts of seizing
the ultimate prize, Mullaitivu.

Electricity was cut off and people in the coastal city of 167,000 fled
their homes in the dark fearing a tsunami, said Hasim Rumatiga, a local
health official. The Indonesian Meteorology and Seismology Agency issued a
tsunami alert, but it was revoked within an hour after it was determined
the epicenter of the main quake was on land.

After they drifted at sea for 15 days, the Indian coastguard rescued 107
people near the Andaman Islands, where they are being held in camps. But up
to 300 are missing after they tried to swim ashore.

Capturing it would certainly weaken the Tigers severely. But guerrilla
movements have the capacity to go underground and reemerge, as long as they
remain popular in their own communities. The government calls the LTTE
terrorists, and they have been designated as such by the European Union.
But the EU also recognises that they speak for many, if not most, Sri
Lankan Tamils in denouncing the discrimination that Tamils suffer on the
multiethnic and multicultural island. The Tamil diaspora is unlikely to end
its funding for the Tigers any time soon.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said tsunamis of 4 inches (10 centimeters) to
16 inches (40 centimeters) in height splashed ashore in towns along the
coast. It also warned that bigger tsunamis were possible later.

In another incident just before new year, three overcrowded fishing boats
loaded with 580 Burmese migrants were intercepted off the Thai coast, but
were towed back out to sea after their engines had been removed, according
to minority rights group the Arakan Project.

The damage in Indonesia was still be being assessed.

Sri Lanka needs a just political settlement. There is no military solution.
Yesterday’s army success is producing a triumphalist mood in Colombo, and
President Mahinda Rajapakse, who already holds the portfolios of defence,
finance and nation-building, has just made himself minister of the media as
well – an apparent sign that he wants even tighter control over the
country’s reporters. Sinhalese politicians will be in no mood for
concessions for many months to come. Sri Lanka faces a grim new year.

Two of the boats reached the shore; one with 152 people aboard landed on
the Andaman Islands while another reached Aceh in Indonesia. One boat is
missing. Another boatload of 46 migrants arrived on Thailand’s southern
coast was seized by the military along with the occupants.

“My son’s head was wounded when a cabinet fell on him,” said Ferry Dau, a
father of two who said the walls in his house were cracked. “It was very
strong and scary. The power and phones went dead after the utility lines
fell down.”

A Thai court sentenced Mr. Nicolaides, an Australian, to three years in
jail for offending the monarchy, a criminal offense in the Kingdom of
Thailand. He had pleaded guilty, earning a sentence at the lower end of the
prescribed range for lèse-majesté.

Rahmat Priyono, a supervisor at the National Earthquake Center, said there
was no immediate information on casualties or damage. “But since the
epicenters were on land, they have a potential to cause significant
damage.”

The Rohingya are stateless and mostly have no rights in Burma, where they
are at the mercy of the military junta that curtails their movement while
using them as forced labor.

Quakes centered onshore pose little tsunami threat to Indonesia itself, but
those close to the coast can still churn up large waves emanating out to
other countries like Japan.

The crime was committed in a single paragraph in “Verisimilitude,” a 2005
novel set in Thailand that is salted with social commentary. At the
sentencing, the judge read out the offending section to the court, which
was packed with foreign reporters. The judge said the author had insulted
the king and crown prince in the passage.

Relief agency World Vision Indonesia was flying in 2,000 emergency
provision kits, including canned food, blankets and basic medical supplies,
said spokeswoman Katarina Hardono.

Papua is the Indonesian portion of New Guinea island, located about 1,830
miles (2,955 kilometers) east of the capital Jakarta. It is among the
nation’s least developed areas, and a low-level insurgency has simmered in
the resource-rich region for years. It is off limits to foreign reporters.

Indonesia straddles a chain of fault lines and volcanoes known as the
Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is prone to seismic activity. A huge quake off
western Indonesia caused the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed about
230,000 people, more than half of them on the western Indonesian island of
Sumatra.

10/31/2008

Sandy Springs in Congo

Filed under: capitalism,congo,human rights,military,resource,sri lanka,usa — admin @ 5:53 am

Another glimpse of a disaster-apartheid future can be found
in a wealthy Republican suburb outside Atlanta. Its
residents decided that they were tired of watching their
property taxes subsidize schools and police in the county’s
low-income African-American neighborhoods. They voted to
incorporate as their own city, Sandy Springs, which could
spend most of its taxes on services for its 100,000 citizens
and minimize the revenue that would be redistributed
throughout Fulton County. The only difficulty was that Sandy
Springs had no government structures and needed to build
them from scratch-everything from tax collection to zoning
to parks and recreation. In September 2005, the same month
that New Orleans flooded, the residents of Sandy Springs
were approached by the construction and consulting giant
CH2M Hill with a unique pitch: Let us do it for you. For the
starting price of $27 million a year, the contractor pledged
to build a complete city from the ground up.

A few months later, Sandy Springs became the first “contract
city.” Only four people worked directly for the new
municipality-everyone else was a contractor. Rick Hirsekorn,
heading up the project for CH2M Hill, described Sandy
Springs as “a clean sheet of paper with no governmental
processes in place.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
reported that “when Sandy Springs hired corporate workers to
run the new city, it was considered a bold experiment.”
Within a year, however, contract-city mania was tearing
through Atlanta’s wealthy suburbs, and it had become
“standard procedure in north Fulton.” Neighboring
communities took their cue from Sandy Springs and also voted
to become stand-alone cities and contract out their
government. One new city, Milton, immediately hired CH2M
Hill for the job-after all, it had the experience. Soon, a
campaign began for the new corporate cities to join together
to form their own county. The plan has encountered fierce
opposition outside the proposed enclave, where politicians
say that without those tax dollars, they will no longer be
able to afford their large public hospital and public
transit system; that partitioning the county would create a
failed state on the one hand and a hyperserviced one on the
other. What they were describing sounded a lot like New
Orleans and a little like Baghdad.

In these wealthy Atlanta suburbs, the long crusade to
strip-mine the state is nearing completion, and it is
particularly fitting that the new ground was broken by CH2M
Hill. The corporation was a multimillion-dollar contractor
in Iraq, paid to perform the core government function of
overseeing other contractors. In Sri Lanka after the
tsunami, it not only had built ports and bridges but was,
according to the U.S. State Department, “responsible for the
overall management of the infrastructure program.” In
post-Katrina New Orleans, CH2M Hill was awarded $500 million
to build FEMA-villes and was put on standby for the next
disaster. A master of privatizing the core functions of the
state during extraordinary circumstances, the company was
now doing the same under ordinary ones. lf disasters had
served as laboratories of extreme privatization, the testing
phase was clearly over.

When we glance at the holocaust in Congo, with 5.4 million
dead, the clichés of Africa-reporting tumble out: this is a
“tribal conflict” in “the Heart of Darkness”. It isn’t. The
United Nations investigation found it was a war led by
“armies of business” to seize the metals that make our
21st-century society zing and bling.

At the moment, Rwandan business interests make a fortune
from the Congolese mines they illegally seized during the
war. Congo is the richest country in the world for gold,
diamonds, coltan, cassiterite, and more. Everybody wanted a
slice — so six other countries invaded.

These resources were not being stolen to for use in Africa.
They were seized so they could be sold on to the West. The
more we bought, the more the invaders stole — and
slaughtered. The rise of mobile phones caused a surge in
deaths, because the coltan they contain is found primarily
in Congo. The UN named the international corporations it
believed were involved: Anglo-America, Standard Chartered
Bank, De Beers and more than 100 others. (They all deny the
charges.)

The debate about Congo in the West — when it exists at all
— focuses on our inability to provide a decent bandage,
without mentioning that we are causing the wound. The 17,000
UN forces in the country are abysmally failing to protect
the civilian population. But it is even more important to
stop fuelling the war in the first place by buying
blood-soaked natural resources. Rwandan-backed militias only
have enough guns and grenades to take on the Congolese army
and the UN because we buy the loot. We need to prosecute the
corporations buying them for abetting crimes against
humanity, and introduce a global coltan-tax to pay for a
substantial peacekeeping force. To get there, we need to
build an international system that values the lives of black
people more than it values profit.

10/8/2008

PNG tribes and refugees

Refugees from the West Papua who are currently living in Papua New Guinea have expressed that they wish to settle in Vanuatu, instead of PNG.

As reported by PNG’s The National, the refugees who were evicted from Eight-Mile, National Capital District, last year, said ‘they wanted to leave for a third country despite the reluctance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to resettle them’.

‘Leader of the West Papuan displaced refugees Freddy Waromi said there were 148 people from 25 families living under makeshift tents and tarpaulins, with only one water tap and a dug pit toilet’ and that the “Vanuatu council of chiefs has indicated to adopt us as Melanesian brothers and sisters, but the only problem is that Vanuatu is not a signatory to the UN refugee charter”.

West Papua is under Indonesian rule and many had fled over the border to PNG during the times of unrest.

‘According to Mr Waromi, the UNHCR granted them refugee status in 1980 and the PNG Government had also earlier granted them permissive residential status, but now both parties wanted to repatriate the refugees back to West Papua’.

According to the report, ‘ABC news reported that the UNHCR would not resettle the West Papuan refugees living in PNG in Vanuatu’ and UNHCR regional representative in Canberra, Richard Towle, ‘said the West Papuans had been campaigning to the UNHCR to be resettled in Vanuatu but their plea had been rejected’.

He stated that from their point of view, “resettlement is really a last resort for the most deserving on the basis of protection needs” and that they did not think “that this group falls within that category” and that ‘the PNG Government would rather see the refugees return home across the border to the Indonesian-governed Papua’.

But Mr. Waromi stated that “UNHCR wanted us to go back to West Papua but the sad fact is that we will be dead when we go back. UNHCR arranged for some of our Melanesian brothers to go back to East Awin in 2001 and none of those who got repatriated are alive today; they are all dead.”

PNG hill tribes negotiate peace deal

In Papua New Guinea, at least 30 warring hill tribes from the Southern Highlands have agreed to lay down their arms and cease generations of fighting in what’s being described as the regions first peace agreement. The so-called Tari District peace deal has taken 5 years to negotiate through a series of peace building activities organised by a team of local and international volunteers lead by a former Philippines born nun now living in Australia.

Sri Lankan refugees duped by HK traffickers

Hong Kong-based agents are charging US$11,800 to smuggle Sri Lankan refugees to Papua New Guinea, the Post-Courier reported.

The newspaper, quoting unnamed PNG intelligence service officers, says the human smuggling operators are charging $31,600 for refugees who want to go on to Australia. These smuggling groups are reportedly using agents in PNG.

“But it still looks like they came into PNG to have easy access somehow to Australia because they would not have had an easy way out if they had gone straight to Australia from wherever they came from.

“But in any case, coming to PNG, especially from a dangerous grouping, is a threat to the national security of this country in itself,” the intelligence officers said.

10/6/2008

How human cargo is trafficked through Kenya

Immigration Police have identified routes used by human traffickers and smugglers to move their cargo in and out of Kenya.

The most active route was discovered in northern Kenya in Moyale.

Immigration Police say that from Moyale, human cargo is ferried to Garissa, Isiolo then Nanyuki and Voi from where it is taken to Tanzania through Taveta border town.

Another route starts from Moyale to Isiolo and Nanyuki and to Nairobi’s Eastleigh.

Some of the human cargo, comprising girls and boys hidden in trucks carrying beans, is sold into slavery in this sprawling suburb, while the rest is taken to Mombasa destined for South Africa or to Busia for transportation to Burundi or South Africa.

South Africa is the launch-pad to Europe and Canada.

Panya routes

While there are three border points between Mombasa and Lunga Lunga, on the border with Tanzania, there are 820 ‘panya routes’ used by traffickers to transport their human cargo to Tanzania, according to an immigration officer in Lunga Lunga.

The route from Moyale is ideal because the vast expanse of land in Kenya’s north is poorly secured.

“There are only 20 immigration officers in northern Kenya, an area bigger than many European states,” said an immigration officer.

“But there are 4,500 policemen, mostly locals eager to see their people secure jobs in foreign lands and a good number of them collude with cartels.”

Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis come through Mombasa disguised as ship crews because sailors are not required to have passports.

Ship docks

Once the ship docks, they are moved to Nairobi to await Kenya passports, genuine or otherwise, to move to Europe and North Africa.

The traffickers are reported to poison those who fail to secure jobs in Kenya or passage out of the country to avoid confrontation with victims’ relatives back in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh who would have paid dearly for the service.

“These things happen,” says Immigration spokesperson John Njehu.

International press reports indicate that key suspected traffickers, Nagaratnam Thavayogarajah, popularly known as Thavam, and Satkunarasan Satkunasingam (aka Rajan), used Nairobi as a base to ferry hundreds of Sri Lankans to the West.

Their offices were situated in a travel agency and a popular Nairobi restaurant where they charged $12,000 in the late 1990s for passage from Sri Lanka through Kenya and Malawi.

Most baffling

According to police and immigration officials at Busia, the most baffling route is from Somalia to Kenya through Uganda.

Hundreds of Somalis charter planes to Entebbe International Airport from where they get to the Busia border where their passports are stamped.

Instead of crossing into Kenya immediately, they return to Uganda to await nightfall when they cross over into Kenya using ‘panya’ routes.

“We don’t understand why they should go through Uganda immigration and then use ‘panya’ routes to get into Kenya,” says a Busia police spokesman. “We have arrested a number.”

Terror suspect

As these investigations were carried out in Busia, a Canadian of Somali descent was arrested for having inexplicably travelled through Uganda. “He is a terror suspect. We are interrogating him,” police said.

Three in every four foreigners arrested in Busia between May and August entered Kenya through ‘panya’ routes despite their travel documents being stamped in Uganda.

Authorities are convinced that the cartels use Uganda because it does not have sophisticated equipment to detect fake travel documents.

Somalis don’t require visas to travel to Uganda, which is not the case with Kenya. However, Ethiopians don’t require visas to get into Kenya, yet they are required in neighbouring Tanzania.

And to get around this, they come to Kenya and take up new citizenship to allow them passage through Tanzania to South Africa or elsewhere.

About 800 Ethiopians who passed through Kenya are languishing in Tanzania jails. The Indian Ocean has been a free-for-all gateway to and out of Kenya.

Recently, Kenyan authorities rescued a group of Somalis attempting to cross into Kenya by sea from drowning.

“They almost drowned,” said an officer at Lunga Lunga border post.

3/29/2008

U.N. human rights body turns to climate change

GENEVA – Climate change could erode the human rights of people living in small island states, coastal areas and parts of the world subjected to drought and floods, the U.N. Human Rights Council said on Friday.

In its first consideration of the issue, the 47-member forum endorsed a resolution stressing that global warming threatens the livelihoods and welfare of many of the world’s most vulnerable people.

The proposal from the Maldives, Comoros, Tuvalu, Micronesia and other countries called for “a detailed analytical study of the relationship between climate change and human rights”, to be conducted by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, headed by Louise Arbour.

“Until now, the global discourse on climate change has tended to focus on the physical or natural impacts of climate change,” the Maldives’ ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, told the session.

“The immediate and far-reaching impact of the phenomenon on human beings around the world has been largely neglected,” he said. “It is time to redress this imbalance by highlighting the human face of climate change.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made the fight against climate change one of his top priorities, and encouraged all U.N. agencies to incorporate it into their work.

Experts say global warming could cause rising sea levels and intense storms, droughts and floods which would restrict access to housing, food and clean water for millions of people.

The Human Rights Council, which wraps up its latest four-week session in Geneva on Friday, also agreed to appoint an independent expert to assess countries’ human rights obligations linked to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Under the resolution introduced by Germany and Spain, that expert will clarify what can be done to stop discrimination in their provision.

“This issue is very important for quite a large number of people,” Doru Romulus Costea, Romania’s ambassador who serves as council president, told a news briefing.

Russia voiced concern that the council’s foray into water and sanitation issues may unduly stretch its agenda and complicate its work, and Canadian diplomat Sarah Geh stressed that setting up the post did not create a human right to water.

U.N. member countries have set a goal of halving the proportion of people who lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation services — such as toilets — by 2015.

10/8/2007

Myanmar's rubies; bloody colour, bloody business

BANGKOK – The gem merchants of Bangkok display their glistening wares proudly; diamonds from Africa, sapphires from Sri Lanka and rubies, of course, from Myanmar.

The red stones from the country formerly known as Burma are prized for their purity and hue. But they have a sinister flaw.

The country’s military rulers rely on sales of precious stones such as sapphires, pearls and jade to fund their regime. Rubies are probably the biggest earner; more than 90 percent of the world’s rubies come from Myanmar.

International outrage over the generals’ brutal crackdown on pro-democracy rallies encouraged the European Union this week to consider a trade ban on Myanmar’s gemstones, a leading export earner in the impoverished country.

There is also pressure in Washington to close a loophole on existing U.S. sanctions which allows in most of its precious stones.

But in neighbouring Thailand, where the majority of Myanmar’s gems are bought and sold, the stone merchants have yet to be put off business with the junta.

“People are unhappy about what’s going on but they are not angry enough to stop buying rubies,” said Pornchai Chuenchomlada, president of the Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association.

“If they killed a lot of people like they did in 1988 we might consider banning their products,” said Pornchai, adding that he personally bought little from Myanmar on moral grounds.

Official media say 10 people were killed when soldiers fired on protesters, including Buddhist monks, in downtown Yangon last week, but the real toll is thought to be much higher.

The junta killed an estimated 3,000 people during the last major uprising in 1988.

VALLEY OF RUBIES

Myanmar’s generals are estimated to have earned around $750 million since they began holding official gem and jade sales in 1964. A far bigger number of precious stones are smuggled over the border into Thailand and China.

The official expositions, held twice a year in the tropical heat of Yangon, are increasingly popular. More Chinese bidders are attending, attracted by slabs of jade.

The state holds a majority stake in all mining operations in Myanmar, including the “Valley of Rubies”, the mountainous Mogok area, 200 km north of Mandalay, famed for its rare pigeon’s blood rubies and blue sapphires worth tens of thousands of dollars apiece.

Conditions in the mines, off-limits to outsiders, are reported to be horrendous.

Debbie Stothard of the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma said her organisation had reports of mining operators hooking employees on drugs to improve productivity. Needles are shared, raising the risk of HIV infection, she said.

“Heroin is given to people at the end of the working day as a reward,” said Stothard. “Young people go off to the mines with big hopes and dreams and they come back to die.”

“These rubies are red with the blood of young people.”

REVULSION

Couples buying engagement rings often now ask where the diamonds come from since last year’s Hollywood film “Blood Diamond” raised awareness about gems which finance conflicts.

But even during the late 1990s, when war was still raging in Sierra Leone, where the film was based, only between 4 percent and 15 percent of the world’s diamonds were estimated to have come from conflict zones.

Brian Leber, a third generation jeweller from the U.S. state of Illinois, decided years ago to stop buying Myanmar gems.

“I think it’s more important to sleep at night,” said the 41-year-old who founded The Jewellers’ Burma Relief Project, an organisation that supports humanitarian projects in the country.

Although the United States imposed a ban on imports of Myanmar gems in 2003, a customs loophole allows in stones cut or polished elsewhere. As Myanmar exports virtually all its gems uncut, this interpretation rendered the ban useless.

Leber is hopeful last week’s brutal crackdown will convince U.S. lawmakers to close this loophole. He would like to see consumers shun all gems from Myanmar, whatever their cachet, until the generals are gone.

“For the time being, Burmese gems should not be something to be proud of. They should be an object of revulsion.”

In Bangkok, some dealers have stopped handling stones from Myanmar and they are angry that colleagues haven’t followed suit.

“This is a Buddhist country. I was expecting the price of rubies to drop dramatically after they shot at the monks, but I’m beginning to think these people are hypocrites,” said one Bangkok-based jeweller, who declined to be named.

“It’s the only country where you can get really top quality rubies, but I stopped dealing in them. I don’t want to be part of a nation’s misery.”

“If someone asks for a ruby now I show them a nice pink sapphire.”

Myanmar’s rubies; bloody colour, bloody business

BANGKOK – The gem merchants of Bangkok display their glistening wares proudly; diamonds from Africa, sapphires from Sri Lanka and rubies, of course, from Myanmar.

The red stones from the country formerly known as Burma are prized for their purity and hue. But they have a sinister flaw.

The country’s military rulers rely on sales of precious stones such as sapphires, pearls and jade to fund their regime. Rubies are probably the biggest earner; more than 90 percent of the world’s rubies come from Myanmar.

International outrage over the generals’ brutal crackdown on pro-democracy rallies encouraged the European Union this week to consider a trade ban on Myanmar’s gemstones, a leading export earner in the impoverished country.

There is also pressure in Washington to close a loophole on existing U.S. sanctions which allows in most of its precious stones.

But in neighbouring Thailand, where the majority of Myanmar’s gems are bought and sold, the stone merchants have yet to be put off business with the junta.

“People are unhappy about what’s going on but they are not angry enough to stop buying rubies,” said Pornchai Chuenchomlada, president of the Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association.

“If they killed a lot of people like they did in 1988 we might consider banning their products,” said Pornchai, adding that he personally bought little from Myanmar on moral grounds.

Official media say 10 people were killed when soldiers fired on protesters, including Buddhist monks, in downtown Yangon last week, but the real toll is thought to be much higher.

The junta killed an estimated 3,000 people during the last major uprising in 1988.

VALLEY OF RUBIES

Myanmar’s generals are estimated to have earned around $750 million since they began holding official gem and jade sales in 1964. A far bigger number of precious stones are smuggled over the border into Thailand and China.

The official expositions, held twice a year in the tropical heat of Yangon, are increasingly popular. More Chinese bidders are attending, attracted by slabs of jade.

The state holds a majority stake in all mining operations in Myanmar, including the “Valley of Rubies”, the mountainous Mogok area, 200 km north of Mandalay, famed for its rare pigeon’s blood rubies and blue sapphires worth tens of thousands of dollars apiece.

Conditions in the mines, off-limits to outsiders, are reported to be horrendous.

Debbie Stothard of the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma said her organisation had reports of mining operators hooking employees on drugs to improve productivity. Needles are shared, raising the risk of HIV infection, she said.

“Heroin is given to people at the end of the working day as a reward,” said Stothard. “Young people go off to the mines with big hopes and dreams and they come back to die.”

“These rubies are red with the blood of young people.”

REVULSION

Couples buying engagement rings often now ask where the diamonds come from since last year’s Hollywood film “Blood Diamond” raised awareness about gems which finance conflicts.

But even during the late 1990s, when war was still raging in Sierra Leone, where the film was based, only between 4 percent and 15 percent of the world’s diamonds were estimated to have come from conflict zones.

Brian Leber, a third generation jeweller from the U.S. state of Illinois, decided years ago to stop buying Myanmar gems.

“I think it’s more important to sleep at night,” said the 41-year-old who founded The Jewellers’ Burma Relief Project, an organisation that supports humanitarian projects in the country.

Although the United States imposed a ban on imports of Myanmar gems in 2003, a customs loophole allows in stones cut or polished elsewhere. As Myanmar exports virtually all its gems uncut, this interpretation rendered the ban useless.

Leber is hopeful last week’s brutal crackdown will convince U.S. lawmakers to close this loophole. He would like to see consumers shun all gems from Myanmar, whatever their cachet, until the generals are gone.

“For the time being, Burmese gems should not be something to be proud of. They should be an object of revulsion.”

In Bangkok, some dealers have stopped handling stones from Myanmar and they are angry that colleagues haven’t followed suit.

“This is a Buddhist country. I was expecting the price of rubies to drop dramatically after they shot at the monks, but I’m beginning to think these people are hypocrites,” said one Bangkok-based jeweller, who declined to be named.

“It’s the only country where you can get really top quality rubies, but I stopped dealing in them. I don’t want to be part of a nation’s misery.”

“If someone asks for a ruby now I show them a nice pink sapphire.”

9/25/2007

Resort Charges $14,500 for Dessert

Filed under: General,global islands,sri lanka — admin @ 10:43 am

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — This dessert may be a little too rich for you, but you’re probably not rich enough for it. A Sri Lankan resort is charging $14,500 for what it calls the world’s most expensive dessert, a fruit infused confection complete with a chocolate sculpture and a gigantic gemstone.

“The Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence” was created to give visitors at The Fortress resort in the coastal city of Galle a one-of-a-kind experience, said the hotel’s public relations manager, Shalini Perera.

The dessert is a gold leaf Italian cassata flavored with Irish cream, served with a mango and pomegranate compote and a champagne sabayon enlighten. The dessert is decorated with a chocolate carving of a fisherman clinging to a stilt, an age old local fishing practice, and an 80 carat aquamarine stone.

The dessert has to be specially ordered, Perera said. Though the hotel has gotten calls about it from as far away as Japan, she said, no one has yet forked over the money to try it.

9/18/2007

Plan for Sea Canal Puts Hindu Belief In Sharp Relief

Filed under: General,global islands,india,sri lanka — admin @ 5:24 am

ADAM’S BRIDGE, India — In the emerald waters separating India and Sri Lanka lies a long chain of sand-capped rocky formations. Devout Hindus believe the god Ram built the shoals before a battle with a demon king. Fishermen along India’s coast believe the shoals saved them from a tsunami three years ago. And environmentalists treasure them for their patch reefs, sea fans, sponges and pearl oysters.

Now, however, the shoals — which form what is known as Adam’s Bridge — are being threatened by the construction of a massive sea canal.

The Indian government began dredging the shallow ocean bed two years ago and is now poised to break apart Adam’s Bridge, whose demolition is necessary to allow ships to traverse a direct route between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. But the project has become entangled in a complex web of resistance from environmentalists, fishermen, political parties and Hindu activists.

Opposition to huge industrial projects is common in India, but the controversy over Adam’s Bridge, or Ram Sethu, marks one of the first times religion has become an obstacle to major development. Thousands of Hindu protesters have rallied in the streets since last week, blocking traffic and chanting, “We will save Ram Sethu, we will save Hindu heritage!”

“Millions of Hindus believe that Ram built that bridge across the sea. Our scriptures and epics mention it,” said Surendra Jain, a leader of the World Hindu Council, a hard-line Hindu group. “We will not let them destroy our religious heritage.”

An ambitious project with an estimated cost of more than $500 million, the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal was originally envisioned in 1860, and at least 14 proposals have been abandoned over the years because India lacked the financial resources to build it.

Ships coming from the Arabian Sea currently go around Sri Lanka to reach India’s east coast and Bangladesh. With the proposed channel, 13 yards deep and 328 yards wide, ships are expected to be able to pass straight through India’s territorial waters. That would mean more revenue for India’s ports.

“The ships will save about 30 hours in navigation time,” said Rakesh Srivastava, a senior official at the Shipping Ministry in New Delhi. “More than 3,000 ships will use this channel every year. This is a very prestigious project for India and would lead to the economic transformation of the ports and the coastal people.”

While many critics have petitioned the Supreme Court in a bid to have the project scrapped, the Hindu activists support the sea canal as long as it can be built in a way that would avoid damage to Adam’s Bridge. Some activists have proposed dredging to the west of the bridge to make way for a canal.

Government officials have said that approach would be misguided. And they contend the bridge isn’t important in Hinduism.

“People have mixed religion with reality,” Srivastava said. The shoals were formed from calcium deposits and natural sedimentation over millions of years.”

In court, the government contended that the Hindu god Ram was a mythical character, an argument that only further enraged Hindus opposed to the current project. The Hindu nationalist political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, called the statement a blasphemous insult, and the government hurriedly withdrew it.

Hindu opposition to the project is only the most recent hindrance to the canal’s completion. Naval experts have questioned assertions that the canal would save ships 30 hours in travel time, as well as the economic viability of the project. Fishermen’s unions have staged sit-ins, blocked rail traffic and petitioned the court.

Umayavel Tharakudiyan, a 55-year-old fisherman in the village of Ramakrishnapuram on the coast of Tamil Nadu state, said the dredging of sand has already reduced the number of fish he and others catch. He explained his fears by drawing a map of his village and the canal route in the sand.

“We will lose our freedom. For different kinds of fish, we go out at various times of the day. Once the ships start sailing, we will be assigned special times of the day for fishing. They will deny us entry with our boats and nets in some areas,” he said as he sat on the sandy ground outside his thatched-roof home.

His wife, Tamilarasi, said Adam’s Bridge has shielded the area during cyclones and other natural disasters. “The bridge protected us from the tsunami,” she said. “Once that goes, our villages may disappear in the next cyclone.”

Although the government has received formal environmental clearance for the canal, there are lingering concerns about the impact it would have on a marine biosphere reserve 12 miles west of the area to be dredged. A row of 21 islands rich in coral reefs, sea turtles, dolphins and sea cows, the reserve is one of the most biologically diverse areas in South Asia.

A recent government report said the canal could “drastically alter the dynamics of the ecosystems” in the biosphere.

“Sea animals communicate through waves, and the dredging work disturbs them. In the last six months, sea cows are losing their way and are seen closer to the shore,” said Rakesh Kumar Jagenia, the wildlife warden at the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve. “It will get worse once the ships start sailing, with the high noise levels and thermal pollution.”

Environmental activists and fishermen complain that despite their long struggle, it is the religious claim to Adam’s Bridge that has provoked the most public interest and drawn a reaction from the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, ecologists and fishermen’s groups are reluctant to build alliances with the Hindu nationalist organizations.

“People are debating nonissues,” said T.S.S. Mani, an activist fisherman opposed to the canal. “This is a battle for environment, people’s lives and livelihoods, but unfortunately it has acquired a religious branding.”

9/9/2007

Breaking 10-year silence, China reveals it’s now No 1 arms supplier to Bangladesh

Filed under: bangladesh,General,global islands,india,military,sri lanka — admin @ 5:29 am

While Islamabad remains Beijing’s traditional business partner when it comes to weapons and military equipment, it’s Dhaka that’s emerging as the prime buyer of weapons made in China.

This has been revealed for the first time in 10 years when last week, China submitted a report on its exports and imports of major conventional arms for year 2006 to the United Nations.

And outside South Asia, Africa is China’s new destination for weapons supplies.

This has implications for India. Given that the military holds the levers of power in both Pakistan and now Bangladesh, too, China’s weapons trade brings a new dimension to India’s engagement with its two neighbours.

India’s only defence export between 2000 and 2005 has been the sale of six L-70 anti-aircraft guns to Sri Lanka two years ago. New Delhi never openly admitted to this — wary of domestic political repercussions — but has indicated it in its annual submission to the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

The seven categories on which this reporting is done are battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships (including submarines) as well as missiles and missile-launchers.

According to its declaration to the UN, China has sold 65 large-calibre artillery systems, 16 combat aircraft and 114 missile and related equipment to Bangladesh last year.

A scrutiny of Bangladesh’s report to the UN also confirms the growing profile of China as its major arms supplier over the last three years.

The 65 artillery systems shown as exports to Bangladesh in China’s report are further sub divided in Dhaka’s import list: 18 122-mm Howitzers and 16 rocket launchers. In 2005, 20 122-mm guns were imported from China.

Besides this, some 200 small arms like pistols and sub-machine guns have been imported along with regular 82-mm mortars.

Interestingly, the other keen supplier to Bangladesh is Pakistan which sold 169 anti-tank Bakhtar Shikan missiles to Bangladesh in 2004.

China’s 1996 record shows that its principal buyers were Pakistan and Iran, which purchased five warships, five combat aircraft and over 100 missiles and missile launchers. A decade later, the profile has changed with Pakistan (10 battle tanks) still on the list as a traditional importer of Chinese equipment. Bangladesh tops the list and the rest of the concentration is in Africa.

China has sold four armoured combat vehicles to Congo, six to Gabon and two to Tanzania. Six combat aircraft each have been exported to Namibia and Zimbabwe. Outside Africa, the one-time large export is to Jordan of 150 large calibre artillery systems.

A decade ago, China stopped providing this information to the UN because US had mentioned Taiwan in a footnote while explaining some of its exports.

An angry China had then remarked that the UN register is a “register of legitimate transfers” and that Taiwan being a “province of China”, any arms transfer between US and Taiwan is “illegitimate”.

With US deciding, of late, to no longer make such a mention in its reports, Beijing last week took a decision to file the arms transfer report as well as tell UN about its military spending.

“In light of the fact that a certain country has stopped providing data on its illegal arms sales to the Taiwan province of China to the UN Register of Conventional Arms, China decides to resume providing annually the data of its imports and exports of conventional arms in the seven categories to the Register from this year,” the Chinese representative in Geneva told relevant UN bodies.

As for its own purchases, China indicates importing two warships from Russia and a little over 1500 missile and missile launching equipment from Russia and Ukraine. There are no other imports in any of the other categories.

Breaking 10-year silence, China reveals it’s now No 1 arms supplier to Bangladesh

Filed under: bangladesh,General,global islands,india,military,sri lanka — admin @ 5:29 am

While Islamabad remains Beijing’s traditional business partner when it comes to weapons and military equipment, it’s Dhaka that’s emerging as the prime buyer of weapons made in China.

This has been revealed for the first time in 10 years when last week, China submitted a report on its exports and imports of major conventional arms for year 2006 to the United Nations.

And outside South Asia, Africa is China’s new destination for weapons supplies.

This has implications for India. Given that the military holds the levers of power in both Pakistan and now Bangladesh, too, China’s weapons trade brings a new dimension to India’s engagement with its two neighbours.

India’s only defence export between 2000 and 2005 has been the sale of six L-70 anti-aircraft guns to Sri Lanka two years ago. New Delhi never openly admitted to this — wary of domestic political repercussions — but has indicated it in its annual submission to the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

The seven categories on which this reporting is done are battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships (including submarines) as well as missiles and missile-launchers.

According to its declaration to the UN, China has sold 65 large-calibre artillery systems, 16 combat aircraft and 114 missile and related equipment to Bangladesh last year.

A scrutiny of Bangladesh’s report to the UN also confirms the growing profile of China as its major arms supplier over the last three years.

The 65 artillery systems shown as exports to Bangladesh in China’s report are further sub divided in Dhaka’s import list: 18 122-mm Howitzers and 16 rocket launchers. In 2005, 20 122-mm guns were imported from China.

Besides this, some 200 small arms like pistols and sub-machine guns have been imported along with regular 82-mm mortars.

Interestingly, the other keen supplier to Bangladesh is Pakistan which sold 169 anti-tank Bakhtar Shikan missiles to Bangladesh in 2004.

China’s 1996 record shows that its principal buyers were Pakistan and Iran, which purchased five warships, five combat aircraft and over 100 missiles and missile launchers. A decade later, the profile has changed with Pakistan (10 battle tanks) still on the list as a traditional importer of Chinese equipment. Bangladesh tops the list and the rest of the concentration is in Africa.

China has sold four armoured combat vehicles to Congo, six to Gabon and two to Tanzania. Six combat aircraft each have been exported to Namibia and Zimbabwe. Outside Africa, the one-time large export is to Jordan of 150 large calibre artillery systems.

A decade ago, China stopped providing this information to the UN because US had mentioned Taiwan in a footnote while explaining some of its exports.

An angry China had then remarked that the UN register is a “register of legitimate transfers” and that Taiwan being a “province of China”, any arms transfer between US and Taiwan is “illegitimate”.

With US deciding, of late, to no longer make such a mention in its reports, Beijing last week took a decision to file the arms transfer report as well as tell UN about its military spending.

“In light of the fact that a certain country has stopped providing data on its illegal arms sales to the Taiwan province of China to the UN Register of Conventional Arms, China decides to resume providing annually the data of its imports and exports of conventional arms in the seven categories to the Register from this year,” the Chinese representative in Geneva told relevant UN bodies.

As for its own purchases, China indicates importing two warships from Russia and a little over 1500 missile and missile launching equipment from Russia and Ukraine. There are no other imports in any of the other categories.

8/15/2007

5,749 Enforced Disappearances in Sri Lanka – Amnesty International

Filed under: General,global islands,sri lanka — admin @ 8:08 pm

“Enforced disappearances are not a thing of the past. They continue all over the world – in Algeria, Colombia, Nepal, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslavia – to name but a few countries. The USA, sometimes acting with the complicity of other governments, has carried out enforced disappearances of terror suspects. Those who commit these crimes have done so with almost complete impunity.

”In Sri Lanka, the Vice-Chancellor of Eastern University, Sivasubramanium Raveendranath, was reportedly abducted while at a conference in the capital, Colombo, on 15 December 2006. He was in an area of the capital tightly controlled by the army; it is likely that his captors were military agents. He has not been heard from since.

”There are currently 5,749 outstanding cases of enforced disappearance in Sri Lanka being reviewed by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Since 2006, hundreds of people have reportedly been abducted and forcibly disappeared by the security forces or armed groups in areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka, as well as in Colombo. Often taken in “for questioning” and held incommunicado, no records of their detention are available. Many cases implicate members of the security forces, others implicate armed groups including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Karuna group.”

5,749 Enforced Disappearances in Sri Lanka – Amnesty International

Filed under: General,global islands,sri lanka — admin @ 8:08 pm

“Enforced disappearances are not a thing of the past. They continue all over the world – in Algeria, Colombia, Nepal, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslavia – to name but a few countries. The USA, sometimes acting with the complicity of other governments, has carried out enforced disappearances of terror suspects. Those who commit these crimes have done so with almost complete impunity.

”In Sri Lanka, the Vice-Chancellor of Eastern University, Sivasubramanium Raveendranath, was reportedly abducted while at a conference in the capital, Colombo, on 15 December 2006. He was in an area of the capital tightly controlled by the army; it is likely that his captors were military agents. He has not been heard from since.

”There are currently 5,749 outstanding cases of enforced disappearance in Sri Lanka being reviewed by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Since 2006, hundreds of people have reportedly been abducted and forcibly disappeared by the security forces or armed groups in areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka, as well as in Colombo. Often taken in “for questioning” and held incommunicado, no records of their detention are available. Many cases implicate members of the security forces, others implicate armed groups including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Karuna group.”

8/14/2007

Battered jeans earn big bucks for Sri Lanka

Filed under: General,global islands,sri lanka — admin @ 6:46 am

The denims look tattered and frayed, but shoppers in Europe and the United States are prepared to pay good money for “distressed” jeans and Sri Lanka is cashing in. In the industrial town of Avissawella east of the capital Colombo, it takes workers around 13 minutes to cut and sew basic five-pocket denims. They then spend another four days torturing the pants by dying, bleaching, and sandpapering them to get a “distressed” look. “Each garment is dyed or dipped around 16 and sometimes as many as 30 times to achieve the proper torn, tattered look,” explains Indrajith Kumarasiri, chief executive of Sri Lanka’s Brandix Denim. “We earn more money by making denims look dirty and torn, the classic clean look doesn’t bring us much,” Kumarasiri said during a visit to the 10-million dollar plant, which can make over three million pairs of jeans a year. Basic denim jeans cost around six dollars to make, but the shabbier “premium” ones cost twice as much. “In many ways, premium denims are replacing the little black dress as the wear-anywhere fashion staple,” he said. Overseas buyers such as Levis, Gap and Pierre Cardin are now regular buyers of premium jeans from Sri Lanka where they can be made for as little as 12 dollars a pair, and often sell for over 100 dollars. Buyers have been gradually shifting production out of Europe to low-cost countries such as Sri Lanka, explains Ajith Dias, chairman of the Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Association Forum. “Retaining the business and growing the order book is tough with India and China competing with us on price and quicker lead times,” Dias said. Sri Lanka’s three-billion dollar garment industry accounts for more than half its annual seven billion dollars of export earnings, and it provides jobs for nearly one million people. Nearly all the garments are shipped to the United States and the European Union. But Dias said casual wear, including jeans, are they key to Sri Lanka’s success in the price-sensitive global apparel market, and now account for 16 percent of total garment export earnings. “We have invested millions to install high-tech plants, develop a sound raw material base and design garments, to ensure we remain competitive, by doing everything from fabric to retail hangers,” Dias said. Brandix, Sri Lanka’s biggest exporter with annual sales in excess of 320 million dollars, and MAS Holdings, are also expanding overseas. In an attempt to get an advantage over the competition, Sri Lanka is trying to position itself as an ethical manufacturer in the hope of getting greater access to the US and European markets at lower duty rates. “We have high labour standards. We don’t employ child labour, we provide rural employment and we empower women. There are no anti-dumping cases against us on trading practices,” said Suresh Mirchandani, chief executive of Favourite Garments. While eco-friendly and ethically-made clothes are becoming increasingly fashionable, their manufacture provides challenges for Sri Lanka. Big-name brands are now adding organic-cotton clothes to their collection. “The joke is that one day we’ll have a shirt we can eat,” said Prasanna Hettiarachchi, general manager of MAS Holdings. He said Levis recently launched eco-jeans using organic cotton, natural dyes, a coconut shell button on the waist band and a price tag made of recycled paper printed with environmentally friendly soy ink. The price tag is a cool 250 dollars. “We are also working on an eco garment,” said Brandix Denim’s Kumarasiri. And when asked what made a perfect pair of jeans, he had a quick answer. “Same as always. It comes down to how your behind looks when you wear them,” grins Kumarasiri. “No matter how good the wash, the detail or the label, if it doesn’t look good on your behind, it won’t sell.”

6/22/2007

Sri Lanka under fire over Internet censorship

Filed under: General,global islands,media,sri lanka — admin @ 5:05 am

Media rights groups attacked Sri Lanka’s government for blocking domestic access to a website favouring the Tamil Tiger rebels and for saying it would like hackers to disable the site.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Colombo should immediately unblock the Tamilnet.com website.

“Sri Lanka’s Internet service providers have been blocking access to the website on the government’s orders since June 15,” RSF said. “The government must put a stop to this censorship and restore access to the site at once.”

A local rights group, the Free Media Movement (FMM), also criticised government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella over comments in which he said he would “love” to hire hackers to pull down Tamilnet.

The FMM said Rambukwella’s statement was “tantamount to government sanctioned cyber-terrorism against websites that do not toe its line.”

“The FMM seeks urgent clarification from the government as to whether Minister Rambukwella’s comments are indicative of official government policy to shutdown, disrupt or censor content and websites on the Internet.”

But Sri Lanka’s Media Minister Anura Yapa insisted his ministry had nothing to do with preventing users of Sri Lanka Telecom, the country’s main Internet service provider, accessing Tamilnet.

“It is unreasonable to level charges against the government,” Yapa told reporters here. “We have nothing to do with this.”

Military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said the security forces had not ordered the blocking of Tamilnet either.

“Security forces have not asked the Tamilnet to be blocked,” Samarasinghe said.

Despite the denials, Sri Lanka Telecom’s Internet service help desk told callers that the “government has asked to block Tamilnet.”

“You can access any other site, but you can’t access Tamilnet,” callers are being told.

The government owns just under 50 percent of Sri Lanka Telecom, which is run by NTT of Japan.

A Colombo-based editor of Tamilnet, Dharmaratnam Sivaram, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in April 2005. The killing remains unresolved.

Some Internet service providers, who have their main offices abroad, still allow access to the website.

Tamilnet is an influential source of Tamil views on the island’s separatist conflict, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives in a 35-year campaign by rebels for a separate homeland for minority Tamils.

Sri Lanka under fire over Internet censorship

Filed under: General,global islands,media,sri lanka — admin @ 5:05 am

Media rights groups attacked Sri Lanka’s government for blocking domestic access to a website favouring the Tamil Tiger rebels and for saying it would like hackers to disable the site.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Colombo should immediately unblock the Tamilnet.com website.

“Sri Lanka’s Internet service providers have been blocking access to the website on the government’s orders since June 15,” RSF said. “The government must put a stop to this censorship and restore access to the site at once.”

A local rights group, the Free Media Movement (FMM), also criticised government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella over comments in which he said he would “love” to hire hackers to pull down Tamilnet.

The FMM said Rambukwella’s statement was “tantamount to government sanctioned cyber-terrorism against websites that do not toe its line.”

“The FMM seeks urgent clarification from the government as to whether Minister Rambukwella’s comments are indicative of official government policy to shutdown, disrupt or censor content and websites on the Internet.”

But Sri Lanka’s Media Minister Anura Yapa insisted his ministry had nothing to do with preventing users of Sri Lanka Telecom, the country’s main Internet service provider, accessing Tamilnet.

“It is unreasonable to level charges against the government,” Yapa told reporters here. “We have nothing to do with this.”

Military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said the security forces had not ordered the blocking of Tamilnet either.

“Security forces have not asked the Tamilnet to be blocked,” Samarasinghe said.

Despite the denials, Sri Lanka Telecom’s Internet service help desk told callers that the “government has asked to block Tamilnet.”

“You can access any other site, but you can’t access Tamilnet,” callers are being told.

The government owns just under 50 percent of Sri Lanka Telecom, which is run by NTT of Japan.

A Colombo-based editor of Tamilnet, Dharmaratnam Sivaram, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in April 2005. The killing remains unresolved.

Some Internet service providers, who have their main offices abroad, still allow access to the website.

Tamilnet is an influential source of Tamil views on the island’s separatist conflict, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives in a 35-year campaign by rebels for a separate homeland for minority Tamils.

6/1/2007

Sri Lanka: Food shortages, fear of abductions – Jaffna residents feel the pinch

Filed under: global islands,sri lanka — admin @ 6:02 am

COLOMBO, 31 May 2007 – Last year at this time 16-year-old Jeevun Kumaraswamy, who lives on the isolated Jaffna peninsula in northern Sri Lanka, was on top of the world. His school, Jaffna Central College, was competing against traditional rivals St. John’s College in the centenary game of their annual cricket match. Jaffna was decked-out in flags. The kids were dancing in the streets.
This year there’s anything but dancing for Jeevun and his friends: Since all-out conflict began between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) the climate has been tense – tense enough that even the big school cricket match had to be cancelled.
The closure of the A-9 highway in August 2006 has also meant most essential supplies, including food, could no longer be delivered from the south in the volumes necessary. Families like Jeevan’s have been feeling the economic and nutritional pinch as only scant supplies can be imported by ship and air.
Fear of abductions
But for Jeevun and his school mates and their families there is a bigger concern. With abductions in the area on the rise, Jeevun’s father, Sinnathambhi Kumaraswamy, told IRIN “I am scared to live here because I have three young boys to look after. I don’t know when they will go missing.” He said: “I have seen many young boys abducted and now I am seeing their parents suffer.”
The worried father says he won’t even allow his sons to leave the house for fear they could be abducted. Eighty people, all males, were abducted in Jaffna between January and April 2007, according to the Human Rights Commission, a semi-autonomous government body.
Young Jeevun says he is particularly fearful because he witnessed the abduction of a close friend just five months ago.
“I will never forget my friend’s last scream,” says Jeevun. “Passers-by just stared at the commotion while he was forced into a white van by four unidentified men. I certainly don’t want myself or my brothers to suffer like that.”
“I love playing cricket with my friends and I had really been looking forward to this year’s big cricket match, but now it seems everything has just died,” Jeevun says. “My brother and I can’t even step out of the house to be with our friends.”
Various groups have been accused of carrying out child abductions in Sri Lanka – including the LTTE and the pro-government Karuna group, which is a breakaway faction of the LTTE. There have even been allegations – denied by the government and the military – of army or government involvement.
Seeking help
Some Jaffna residents who have had family members abducted seek the help of the local branch of the Human Rights Commission. It records their cases and conducts its own investigations. Families of victims have also lodged complaints with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which is monitoring the situation and is in touch with all parties to resolve complaints.
ICRC Spokesperson, Davide Vignati, told IRIN: “The ICRC, currently, on a weekly basis, is collecting information on missing persons and abductions. The cases have only been increasing in the peninsula.”
Jaffna university
Even academic work at Jaffna university has been affected by fear of abductions and other intimidation. According to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), which monitors the truce between the government and the LTTE, “the problems at Jaffna University campus have continued.
Students and staff have been receiving death threats aimed at people with LTTE (Tamil Tiger) affiliations which has caused considerable fear and led to the closure of the campus,” the SLMM said in a situation report dated 14-20 May 2007.
The threats and abductions are occurring in a city that over the past year has faced increasing isolation and economic challenges due to the conflict and the A9 road closure. Just two years ago, even though there were breakdowns in talks between the government and the Tamil Tigers, Jaffna was making the most of the tentative ceasefire.
Jaffna residents who had fled the violence more than a decade earlier, like some from the local Muslim population, were returning to their former homes and businesses. Goods were freely available and guest houses were opening up to the increasing number of visitors. Even private airlines and mobile service providers were lining up to get a piece of the action.
A9 road closure
All that has now changed and today, principally because of the A9 closure, Jaffna is now a city marked by shortages of basic commodities and medicine and, most critically, food.
The World Food Programme (WFP), which is currently conducting its food assistance programme in Jaffna, has been able to ship only 20 per cent of its total food allocation for internally displaced peoples (IDPs) and vulnerable people to the peninsula due to the A9 road closure.
“Through the food assistance programme, WFP is required to send 1,000 metric tonnes of food to Jaffna every month. But due to the closure of the A9 road and the lack of space on government vessels, WFP has been able to ship only 200 metric tones of food per month since August,” WFP Country Director Jeff Taft-Dick told IRIN.
Lack of ships
“Our biggest concern is the low number of ships available to transport food,” Taft-Dick says. “With the monsoon expected, we will face more difficulties.”
WFP says it is in consultation with the commissioner general of the Essential Services Commission to increase the number of supply ships as soon as possible. The government did increase the number of ships last year when supplies thinned out in the peninsula.
“Food prices were quite high several months ago,” says Taft-Dick, “but they have come down now. It is a little better now because some private traders are also bringing in food from India,” he said.
“Very soon our children will be starving”
However, some residents feel that economic conditions in Jaffna are so dire that the cost of commodities, including food, are priced beyond their reach.
“Prices keep increasing weekly.” Rosy Theyagarajah told IRIN. “A fixed rate on commodities is not maintained and shops sell goods at whatever price they want,” she complains. “Very soon our children will be starving as we no longer have money to buy food.”
Rosy Theyagarajah has been living in Jaffna for the past 32 years and says the current situation is the worst she has experienced. She says some children are now suffering malnutrition. “Even during the 20-year war between the government and the LTTE, we had food to fill our stomachs,” she says. “But today we have nothing. My husband is out of work and my children only get one meal a day,” she adds.

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