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3/5/2017

Solmali Famine

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After withdrawing from Mogadishu earlier this month, Al Qaida-inspired Al Shabaab is placing more restrictions on the movement of people, particularly men, in areas under its control.

In Somalia’s Al Shabaab-controlled Kismayu, witnesses said malnourished children were dying due to the lack of food aid.

Gulf of Aden: A dangerous gateway

Yemen is host to the second largest Somali refugee population, with nearly 192,000. About 15,000 of those have arrived since in January.

They cross the Gulf of Aden on what are often unseaworthy and overcrowded boats. Many do not survive the dangerous crossing.

The agency said it expected more refugees to arrive in Somalia over the next months, but thought they were waiting for calmer seas. The route is also often used by migrants who pay smugglers to get them to Yemen, seen as a gateway to wealthier parts of the Middle East.

At least 6.2 million people in Somalia — or just about half the country — are grappling with the prospect of an acute food shortage due to deepening drought. And on Saturday, Somalia’s prime minister made it clear that the conditions are exacting a stark human cost.

Over a two-day span, at least 110 people died of hunger in just a single region, Hassan Ali Khaire said Saturday during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee.

“I can confirm that Bay region in the south and other parts of Somalia are deteriorating rapidly,” Khaire said, “and my estimation is that half of the country’s population has felt the impact of this drought.”

The country already declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. As Somalia has dried up, Khaire says the lack of clean water has increased the risks of waterborne diseases, while the ability of malnourished people to fight off those diseases has plummeted.

“It is a difficult situation for the pastoralists and their livestock. Some people have been hit by [hunger] and diarrhoea at the same time,” Khaire’s office said in a statement. “The Somali government will do its best, and we urge all Somalis, wherever they are, to help and save the dying Somalis.”

The United Nations is putting out urgent calls for aid, saying as many as 5 million people need aid in the shadow of a looming famine.

“Thousands have been streaming into Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies,” the news service reports. “Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently.”

If a full-blown famine should descend on Somalia, the World Health Organization says it would be the country’s third famine in a quarter-century — and the second in less than a decade.

Citing a joint report by the U.N. and the United States Agency for International Development, famine killed about 258,000 people in Somalia between 2010 and 2012.

The U.N. is currently appealing for $864 million in humanitarian aid, while “the U.N. World Food Program recently requested an additional $26 million plan to respond to the drought.” The country has been hit by a severe drought that has affected more than 6.2 million people who are currently facing food insecurity and lack of clean water because of rivers that are drying up and recent years with little rain. Earlier in the week, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, warned the drought could lead to famine. “If we do not scale up the drought response immediately, it will cost lives, further destroy livelihoods, and could undermine the pursuit of key state-building and peace-building initiatives,” he warned, adding that a drought — even one this severe — does not automatically have to mean catastrophe. According to the United Nations, “Somalia is in the grip of an intense drought, induced by two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall. In the worst-affected areas, inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock, while communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food and money to survive.” The United Nations adds that “the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) — managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) — have found that over 6.2 million, or more than half of the country’s population, are now in need of assistance, up from 5 million in September.”

“We estimate that almost half of the Somali population, 3.7 million people, are affected by this crisis and a full 2.8 million people live in the south, the most seriously affected area. It is likely that tens of thousands will already have died, the majority of these being children.”

The United Nations says a lack of rain over the past few years has created a famine in two areas in southern Somalia: Bakool and Lower Shabelle. Officials say the famine could spread to other areas.

This is the first time since nineteen ninety-one that the UN has declared a famine in Somalia. The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in sixty years. UN officials have said more than eleven million people are in need of food aid. Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when the former government was toppled by clan militias that later turned on each other. For decades, generals, warlords and warrior types have reduced this once languid coastal country in Eastern Africa to rubble. Somalia remains a raging battle zone today, with jihadists intent on bringing down a transitional government which relies on African Union peacekeepers and Western funding for survival.

No amount of outside firepower has brought the country to heel. Not thousands of American Marines in the early 1990s. Not the enormous United Nations mission that followed. Not the Ethiopian Army storming into Somalia in 2006. Not the current peacekeepers, who are steadily wearing out their welcome.

Somalia continues to be a caldron of bloodshed, piracy and Islamist radicalism. There are currently 6,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers in Mogadishu, but they are struggling to beat back Islamist fighters, who are rallying around Al Shabab, a brutal group that is aligned with Al Qaeda and has turned Somalia into a focal point of American concerns on terrorism .

In 2011 Somalia experienced a full-blown famine in several parts of the country, with millions of people on the brink of starvation and aid deliveries complicated by the fact that militants control the famine zones.

The Islamist militants controlling southern Somalia forced out Western aid organizations in 2010, yanking away the only safety net just when one of the worst droughts in 60 years struck. When the scale of the catastrophe became clear, with nearly three million Somalis in urgent need and more than 10 million at risk, the militants relented and invited aid groups back. But few rushed in because of the complications and dangers of dealing with the militants.

American government rules banning material aid to the Shabab complicate aid efforts. Aid officials have worried that paying so-called taxes to the militants who control needy areas could expose them to criminal prosecution.

2/20/2017

H7N9

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Bird flu is back. Chinese authorities are closing live poultry markets as H7N9 courses through the country, infecting 192 and killing 79 in January alone.

So far, this strain of avian flu appears to have been transmitted only through contact with live poultry, but there’s always a fear it will mutate and start passing between humans. That’s what really scares experts: the possibility of a sudden change that triggers faster spread between humans and leads to a pandemic.

A disease doesn’t count as a pandemic until it spreads worldwide – Ebola killed more than 11,000 people across West Africa before it was brought under control, and that was just an epidemic. The most modern pandemics include the Spanish influenza, circa 1918 (as many as 50 million killed), and HIV/AIDS (35 million dead).

As Chinese officials attempt to stem the latest bird flu outbreak, global public health officials are racing to get ahead of what they call the next “big one”: a disease that will kill tens of millions. It’s all about preparedness, and a large part of that is spotting outbreaks early, so action can be taken to contain any situation before it spirals out of control.

It’s anyone’s guess when and where the next major epidemic – or pandemic – might emerge. It could be a mutated version of avian flu, or perhaps something completely unseen before, like the mysterious illness with Ebola-like symptoms that struck out of the blue in South Sudan last year.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

When a patient in Madrid died last September of a disease called Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, there was no shortage of headlines about the “new” deadly virus. But the disease has actually been around for years – it got the first part of its name when first reported in Crimea in 1944, and the second thanks to a 1969 spotting in Congo.

The last two words of the disease, abbreviated as CCHF, speak to the symptoms: fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhoea, bruising and bleeding (the list goes on), and eventually death in the second week of illness – about 30 percent of patients (sometimes more) succumb to the virus.

CCHF is found pretty much everywhere south of the 50th parallel north: Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asia. Humans tend to contract the virus through contact with the blood of an infected animal (itself having been bitten by infected ticks) – vets, people working in slaughterhouses, and farmers are typically most at risk.

Once in humans, the virus can be spread through contact with blood, secretions, bodily fluids, and the like. It has been contracted in hospitals thanks to poor sterilisation of equipment and reuse of needles.

The virus bothers researchers and doctors for a number of reasons, one of them cultural: it’s endemic in some Muslim countries where large-scale animal slaughter is part of celebrating (and feasting) for the holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Doctors in Pakistan, for example, have warned of a potential health catastrophe unless slaughtering practices change, as the feasting holiday will be in the summer for the next 10-15 years, coinciding with tick season and CCHF prevalence.

There are similar concerns in Afghanistan, where public health officials have been warning the public about using gloves and other protective clothing when handling animals.

There is no vaccine for Crimean-Congo, and there is no cure, although antiviral drugs have shown some promise. Nipah virus Tackling drought with emergency aid is not the answer

This one’s got a Hollywood hook: The 2011 film Stephen Soderbergh film Contagion is reportedly based on it. Spoiler alert. In the movie, Nipah causes a global pandemic. In reality, we’re far from that.

But the way Nipah got going in real life is paralleled in the film: Thanks to drought, deforestation and wildfire, large fruit bats that carry the virus found their natural habitats in Malaysia destroyed. So they moved to fruit trees that happened to be in fairly close proximity to pig farms.

The pigs ate fruit contaminated by bat urine and saliva, the virus spread quickly among livestock, and again farm workers were the first hit. This first outbreak in Malaysia in the late 1990s saw the country cull more than one million pigs: a major hit to the economy.

In its first appearance, Nipah killed 105 of 256 known infected people.

But humans can also get Nipah by drinking raw palm date sap, a delicacy in Bangladesh. It is believed to be the cause of regular seasonal outbreaks in that country. When the sap is harvested, it has already been infected by bats in the trees.

Nipah scares researchers because it kills quickly – nausea, fever, and vomiting, patients progress to a coma within 24-48 hours, and then die. It has also spread swiftly from rural areas to cities.

Once in humans, the virus is found in saliva, so it can kill caregivers and family members who share utensils and glasses, or hug and kiss their sick family members. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Bandied about as the next pandemic possibility for a while, MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, although looking back researchers believe there were cases the same year in Jordan.

It’s deadly – a reported 36 percent of patients die – and looks to have come to humans via bats, again. There’s a pattern here: Bats carry a long list of killer viruses and likely triggered the Ebola outbreak as well as SARS and others.

MERS causes fever, cough, shortness of breath, and in more than one third of patients, death. A 2015 outbreak in South Korea killed 36, and caused serious panic. Thousands of schools were closed, and many businesses were hit hard as people were wary even of going outside, and many others were quarantined.

While MERS is deadlier than its cousin SARS, it is also less contagious. It is spread through close contact with an infected person, and most transmissions have been in healthcare settings. There’s no real evidence that it’s gone airborne – that’s always a major fear – but the possibility hasn’t been completely ruled out.

For now, there’s no reason to panic about MERS, but it’s always a worry during the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia, which sees some two million people converge in the country with the most cases.

Like the other diseases mentioned here, there’s no vaccine and there’s no treatment – it’s all about hygiene.

There are plenty of other scary killers out there, and researchers are both tracking the movement of viruses between species and attempting to figure out a key plot point: why exactly a virus goes airborne. One last top tip: keep a particular eye on influenza. It’s not exotic and everyone knows its name, but some form of the flu could easily become the next “big one”. Oh yes, and be careful of bats.

2/3/2017

Largest DP Camps in the World

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The legacies of today’s conflicts can be seen in the enormous populations of the world’s largest displaced persons’ camps. For most these camps are far from a temporary home. With scarce local resources, the majority of the camps depend on external aid for survival.

10. Tamil Nadu State, India
An estimated 66,700 Sri Lankans currently reside in this refugee camp. Another 34,000 live outside of the camp.

9. Nyarugusu, Tanzania
This camp is home to an estimated 68,197 refugees. Nearly two-thirds are children between the ages 10-24. Almost all of them were born in the camp or became a refugee at a very young age. The majority of the refugees are Burundians and Congolese.

8. Nakivale, Uganda
As one of Africa’s oldest and largest refugee camps, Nakivale currently houses 68,996 people. Many of the residents fled the violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is unlikely the refugees will be able to return home in the near future.

7. Yida, South Sudan
This refugee camp is home to 70,736 registered individuals. After a sharp increase in registrations in February, the number of new registrations is slowly decreasing.

6. Mbera, Mauritania
UNHCR is predicting there to be 75,261 residents in this camp by December 2014. The majority of the refugees are from Mali, but many come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cote d’Ivoire, as well. It is expected the influx of Malian refugees will slowly stabilize. The situation in Mali still remains delicate and will not allow for large-scale returns.

5. Al Zaatari, Jordan
UNHCR reports there are 101,402 refugees currently in the camp and that number has been decreasing since February 2014. The majority of the refugees are Syrians fleeing the violence in their country. The camp has faced several violent protests since it opened two years ago, mainly due to poor living conditions.

4. Jabalia, Gaza Strip
The largest of the Gaza Strip’s eight refugee camps, Jabalia is home to 110,000 registered refugees who fled from southern Palestine. The camp faces extreme unemployment, as well as a contaminated water supply and electricity cuts.

3. Kakuma, Kenya
This refugee camp has been home to South Sudan refugees since 1992. The ongoing violence in South Sudan has prompted 20,000 people to flee to Kenya as of February 2014. Today, 124,814 refugees from 15 nationalities live in Kakuma. The camp is significantly over capacity and suffers from lack of resources.

2. Dollo Ado, Ethiopia
This camp holds 201,123 registered Somali refugees. The population of this refugee camp has been steadily increasing since March 2013 due to drought and famine in Somalia.

1. Dadaab, Kenya
UNHCR estimates that in December 2014 there will be 496,130 refugees in the camp from Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and various other places. They also estimate there to be 83, 660 people seeking asylum from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and South Sudan

10/20/2016

More Murdered: Jose Angel Flores and Silmer Dionicio George both members of the Unified Peasant Movement (MUCA)

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En Honduras, dos líderes campesinos han sido asesinados: José Ángel Flores era el presidente del Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA) y Silmer Dionosio George era uno de los principales organizadores del grupo. Ambos fueron asesinados por hombres armados el martes por la noche al salir de la oficina del MUCA en la comunidad de La Confianza, en el norte de Honduras, Valle del Aguán. Flores había denunciado las amenazas de muerte que recibió varias veces como consecuencia de su trabajo en defensa de la tierra, y la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos le había ordenado al gobierno de Honduras que les brindaran protección a él y a Silmer. Los miembros del MUCA tienen propiedades cooperativas de tierra, y el grupo está bajo presión para vender sus tierras para que empresas privadas puedan construir grandes plantaciones de aceite de palma. Los asesinatos del martes sucedieron en una región de Honduras en la que una zona especial de desarrollo, también conocida como ciudad modelo, se está desarrollando actualmente, lo que crearía una zona de libre comercio especial que opere fuera de la ley del gobierno de Honduras. Muchas de las empresas que presionan para crear zonas especiales de desarrollo en Honduras son apoyadas por el Banco Mundial.

TAKE ACTION: STOP US FUNDING OF VIOLENCE IN HONDURAS!

Demand that your US Congressional Representatives support the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act – HR5474. Since the 2009 coup, solidarity and human rights organizations in the US and in Honduras have worked to stop US funding violence in Honduras. On June 14, 2016, US Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia introduced HR5474. This Act would cut off US funding and support for the repressive Honduran military and national police and end US support for funding of mega-projects against the wishes of the local population. As of September 25, 2016, 41 representatives have signed on in support. Please contact your congressional representatives and find out if they are supporting HR 5474.

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8/12/2016

Argentina’s Mothers of the Disappeared March for 2,000th Time

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The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo led the organization

The Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo have been fighting for justice for the disappeared and respect for historical memory since 1977.

Argentina’s internationally-renowned Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo took to the streets Thursday with thousands of supporters for a historic event: the organization’s 2,000th march in memory of and for justice for the country’s 30,000 victims of forced disappearance during the U.S.-backed Dirty War in the 1970s and 80s.

The Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo have held weekly marches in Buenos Aires’ central square in front of the Presidential Palace, the Plaza de Mayo, every Thursday since founding the organization in 1977 to search for children and grandchildren who were kidnapped and disappeared during the dictatorship.

“It is history that marches on without stopping, our worn out feet that do not tire,” wrote president of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Hebe de Bonafini, in a statement announcing the 2000th march. “It is our 30,000 children that sew love for the nation with blood and make grow with this same love for the country millions of youth, who we all are.”

Former left-wing President Cristina Fernandez met with the Mothers hours ahead of the march and joined demonstrators in the square for the afternoon’s events.

The march comes after President Mauricio Macri made highly controversial comments in an interview, saying that he didn’t know how many people were disappeared in Argentina, whether “9,000 or 30,000.” The same day, he also called Bonafini, head of the Mothers, “deranged” and accused her of spewing “inappropriate nonsense.”

Both statements sparked widespread outrage. Estela Carlotto, renowned human rights activist and founder and President of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, responded with criticism. “He has the obligation to know that it is an estimated 30,000 people disappeared,” said Carlotto, adding that if he didn’t know, “so learn,” La Nacion reported. Carlotto searched for her missing grandson, born to Carlotto’s pregnant daughter after she was disappeared in 1977, for 36 years before being reunited.

Nora Cortiñas, co-founder of the Mothers of the Plaza of Mayo, accused Macri of undermining the tireless struggle for justice. “It is unfortunate, this is a president who lived in Argentina at that time,” she said, according to Politica Argentina. “With his opinions, he is devaluing our entire struggle of these last 40 years.” Cortiñas lost her son to forced disappearance in 1977, but does not have a known missing grandchild to search for.

The march also comes after the Mothers made international headlines last week when a judge issued an arrest warrant against Bonafini, who has fought for justice for years for her two disappeared sons and daughter-in-law and other victims of the dictatorship-era state terror. The warrant was later dropped in light of the backlash.

A batch of over 1,000 pages of newly-declassified documents released this week shed further light on the U.S. role in forced disappearances, political killings, and torture under the reign of state terrorism during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. The Dirty War in Argentina has been called a “genocide” against political dissidents.

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo have identified and reunited with their families 120 missing grandchildren disappeared during the last dictatorship.

In Argentina, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo held their their 2,000th march in Buenos Aires on Thursday demanding justice for their children who went missing during the country’s military dictatorship. The Mothers have been staging regular protests in the Plaza de Mayo since 1977.

Hebe de Bonafini: “Dear children, all the 30,000 missing, 15,000 who were shot in the streets, the 8,900 political prisoners and more than 2 million in exile who have all become our children, this is no small thing. It’s the heavy burden of so many children, but it is so beautiful, so amazing, so unique. I think that there are no women like us in the world with the strength in our bellies, in our hearts, in our bodies, with so much responsibility for our children whom we love, whom we love and whom we continue to defend.”

Thursday’s march in Argentina came just days after the United States declassified documents showing that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger thwarted the State Department’s efforts to stop the mass killings by instead praising Argentina’s military leaders in 1978.

6/27/2016

Cascadia

Filed under: canada,cascadia,culture,geography,government,intra-national,usa — Tags: — admin @ 8:19 am

Flag_of_Cascadia

As measured only by the combination of present Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia statistics, Cascadia would be home to slightly more than 15 million people (15,105,870), and would have an economy generating more than US$675 billion worth of goods and services annually. This number would increase if portions of Northern California, Idaho, and Southern Alaska were also included. By land area Cascadia would be the 20th largest country in the world, with a land area of 534,572 sq mi (1,384,588 km2), placing it behind Mongolia. Its population would be similar in size to that of Ecuador, Guatemala, or Zambia.
http://cascadianow.org

6/21/2016

Global forced displacement hits record high

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UNHCR Global Trends report finds 65.3 million people, or one person in 113, were displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution in 2015.

Wars and persecution have driven more people from their homes than at any time since UNHCR records began, according to a new report released today by the UN Refugee Agency.

The report, entitled Global Trends, noted that on average 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade earlier, when six people fled every 60 seconds.

The detailed study, which tracks forced displacement worldwide based on data from governments, partner agencies and UNHCR’s own reporting, found a total 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier.

“At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year. On land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders.”

It is the first time in the organization’s history that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed.

“More people are being displaced by war and persecution and that’s worrying in itself, but the factors that endanger refugees are multiplying too,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year; on land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders. Closing borders does not solve the problem.”

Grandi said that politics was also standing in the way of those seeking asylum in some countries.

“The willingness of nations to work together not just for refugees but for the collective human interest is what’s being tested today, and it’s this spirit of unity that badly needs to prevail,” he declared.

The report found that, measured against the world’s population of 7.4 billion people, one in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee – putting them at a level of risk for which UNHCR knows no precedent.

The tally is greater than the population of the United Kingdom – or of Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined.

To put it in perspective, the tally is greater than the population of the United Kingdom – or of Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined. It is made up of 3.2 million people in industrialized countries who, at the end of 2015, were awaiting decisions on asylum – the largest total UNHCR has ever recorded.

Also in the tally are a record 40.8 million people who had been forced to flee their homes but were within the confines of their own countries, another record for the UN Refugee Agency. And there are 21.3 million refugees.

Forced displacement has been on the rise since at least the mid-1990s in most regions, but over the past five years the rate has increased.

The reasons are threefold:

* conflicts that cause large refugee outflows, like Somalia and Afghanistan – now in their third and fourth decade respectively – are lasting longer; * dramatic new or reignited conflicts and situations of insecurity are occurring more frequently. While today’s largest is Syria, wars have broken out in the past five years in South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, Ukraine and Central African Republic, while thousands more people have fled raging gang and other violence in Central America; * the rate at which solutions are being found for refugees and internally displaced people has been on a falling trend since the end of the Cold War, leaving a growing number in limbo.

“We’re stuck here. We can’t go on and we can’t go back,” said Hikmat, a Syrian farmer driven from his land by war, now living in tent outside a shopping centre in Lebanon with his wife and young children. “My children need to go to school, they need a future,” he added.

The study found that three countries produce half the world’s refugees. Syria at 4.9 million, Afghanistan at 2.7 million and Somalia at 1.1 million together accounted for more than half the refugees under UNHCR’s mandate worldwide. Colombia at 6.9 million, Syria at 6.6 million and Iraq at 4.4 million had the largest numbers of internally displaced people.

While the spotlight last year was on Europe’s challenge to manage more than 1 million refugees and migrants who arrived via the Mediterranean, the report shows that the vast majority of the world’s refugees were in developing countries in the global south.

In all, 86 per cent of the refugees under UNHCR’s mandate in 2015 were in low- and middle-income countries close to situations of conflict. Worldwide, Turkey was the biggest host country, with 2.5 million refugees. With nearly one refugee for every five citizens, Lebanon hosted more refugees compared to its population than any other country.

Distressingly, children made up an astonishing 51 per cent of the world’s refugees in 2015, according to the data UNHCR was able to gather (complete demographic data was not available to the report authors). Many were separated from their parents or travelling alone.

4/9/2016

Panama Papers

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The Panama Papers reportedly cover more than 40 years of Mossack Fonseca’s operations on behalf of a who’s-who list of the global elite, including numerous important politicians and current or former heads of state, international criminals and star athletes, along with any number of less charismatic but equally wealthy corporations and individuals. Close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin appear in the Mossack documents (although Putin himself is not named), as do the father of British Prime Minister David Cameron, members of the Saudi royal family, the president of Ukraine and the prime minister of Pakistan. The Icelandic prime minister, named as a Mossack client with offshore holdings, was forced to resign on Tuesday, before apparently reversing himself on Wednesday. It’s safe to say the ripple effects of these revelations will be felt for years, if not decades. Mossack evidently created some 214,000 anonymous offshore companies for its moneyed clientele–“shell firms” with sham directors and phony boards of directors, reports the SZ, designed such that their “true purpose and ownership structure is indecipherable from the outside.” In most of these cases, “concealing the identities of the true company owners was the primary aim,” and the documents suggest that Mossack routinely engages in business practices that “potentially violate sanctions, in addition to aiding and abetting tax evasion and money laundering.” They’re just the tip of a really big iceberg. That’s true in several senses. First of all, although Mossack Fonseca is a major player in the lucrative international industry of helping the rich get richer, it’s only one company among the network of bankers and lawyers and honey-tongued advisers competing to grovel before the world’s elite caste and make safe their massive wealth. Perhaps the rich still believe they deserve to be rich, and too many of the non-rich believe it too. But their desperate attempts to hide their wealth beneath armies of lawyers and nests of imaginary companies and mailing addresses on distant islands suggest otherwise. They’re afraid that the illusion may be crumbling. They’re afraid that one of these days we’ll figure out how they got that money and decide to take it back.

3/18/2016

Indigenous activist Nelson Garcia has been shot dead in Honduras

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Another indigenous activist has been murdered in Honduras amid an escalating wave of repression against the relatives and colleagues of renowned campaigner Berta Cáceres, who was murdered less than two weeks ago.

Nelson García, 38, an active member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Copinh) was killed on Tuesday after a violent eviction carried out by Honduran security forces in a nearby Lenca indigenous community.

García was shot dead in the face by unidentified gunmen as he returned to his family home in Río Lindo, north-west Honduras – about 100 miles south of La Esperanza where Cáceres was murdered at home on 3 March.

7/31/2014

The Deported L.A. Gangs Behind This Border Kid Crisis

Filed under: el salvador,guatemala,honduras,intra-national,usa — admin @ 4:26 pm

Tens of thousands of Honduran thugs have been flown home on Con Air since 2001. Now, what they learned on U.S. streets with the monstrous MS-13 and MS-18 has sent children fleeing north.

Poverty was surely a factor, as no doubt was the mistaken belief that American immigration authorities would not send back unaccompanied children.

But only true terror could have driven kids by the thousands to make the harrowing journey from Honduras to the United States. “It has to be extreme fear,” says Al Valdez, formerly the supervising investigator of the gang unit at Orange County District Attorney’s Office and presently a professor at the University of California at Irvine.

The terrible irony is that the immediate sources of that terror are fellow Hondurans who once made that same journey only to be deported for having become swept up in two monstrous gangs that rose from the streets of Los Angeles. A member if the MS-18 gang stands next to graffiti of a cobra in the shape of the number 18 at the prison in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The 18th Street Gang was named after the locus of its birth in the Ramparts section. It is also known as the MS-18 and has been nicknamed The Children’s Army because of its predilection for recruiting even kids still in elementary school.

The Mara Salvatrucha gang was formed by refugees from the civil strife in El Salvador during the 1980s and grew to include thousands members from all of Central America. It is also known as MS-13.

Initially, only those gang members who were convicted of serious crimes and served their sentences were deported. A new law in 1996 then mandated the deportation of anybody busted for a crime that carried a year in prison or more, even if the sentence was suspended. A member of the MS-18 or MS-13 needed only to be caught in a petty drug bust or a minor theft to be deported via the unmarked planes of the real-life Con Air, officially known as the Justice Prisoner Alien Transport System run by the U.S. Marshals.

Between 2001 and 2010, Con Air flew 129,760 convicted criminals back to Central America, These included 44,042 who arrived in Honduras on daily flights that were initially to one of two cities. The flights to the capital, Tegucigalpa, were then suspended and they all began landing at the country’s second-largest metropolis, San Pedro Sula.

That was increasingly convenient for the members of MS-18 and MS-13, for the gangs had brought LA thuggery to SPS, where the police had proven to be as ineffective as they were corrupt. The gangs had essentially taken over big parts of the city, warring with each other and preying on innocents with virtual impunity.

“In recent years, federal law-enforcement authorities have targeted MS-13 and MS-18 alien gang members for deportation, an action that some argue has contributed to the development and proliferation of U.S.-styled gangs in Central America,” a 2008 U.S. congressional report notes.

Valdez, the former Orange County gang unit chief, says that when visiting Central America he came upon records indicating that some form of street gangs had existed there as far back as the 1950s.

“What was new was this ’90s generation of street gangs,” he says.

He also contends that the actual number of deported MS-18 and MS-13 members is fewer than the statistics might suggest. He adds that most of them were minor players in the U.S.

But, Valdez suggests, ubiquitous American popular culture gave enormous street cred to even a low-level LA-style gangbanger. An LA shoplifter could play an SPS Scarface.

The youngsters arrived at our border with the unspoken message that we reap what we sow.

“A big fish in a little pond,” Valdez says.

There were also a few who had been big even in a pond the size of Los Angeles. They marshaled their underlings in San Pedro Sula and set to recruiting a whole new crop of chairmen for their army.

“The gangs exploded, the membership exploded, and everything exploded,” Valdez says.

The result was that the murder rate in San Pedro Sula rose to 187 per 100,000, or more than double that of Honduras itself, and 10 times that of Chicago. San Pedro Sula had become known as the most dangerous city on Earth.

Neither gang hesitated to torture and kill youngsters, telling one boy, “You’re either with us or against us.” Anybody perceived as being against them was liable to be found shot and maybe tortured.

When the rumor swept Central America that unaccompanied children were being allowed to remain in the United States, few youngsters left Nicaragua. Poverty there is as crushing as elsewhere in Central America, but the gang presence is relatively minimal.

More than 2,200 kids left San Pedro Sula, heading in desperation for the very country that gave rise to the gangs they were fleeing.

“People don’t want to die,” Valdez observes.

The youngsters arrived at our border with the unspoken message that we reap what we sow.

Now some of us are clamoring for an added cruel irony. They want to send the border youngsters back on what would become Con Air for Kids.

Italy migrants: Nineteen ‘suffocate’ aboard boat from Africa

Survivor of shipwreck in Lampedusa, Italy Thousands of migrants have risked their lives to reach Italy this year

Nineteen migrants have died, reportedly by suffocating, aboard a crowded boat travelling from North Africa to Italy.

The migrants are thought to have choked on fumes from an old engine while they were confined below deck, Italian news agency Ansa reports.

Rescuers found 18 people in a tangle of bodies. Another person is said to have died during the evacuation. The boat was carrying some 600 people.

Italy is struggling to cope with a rising flow of migrants to its shores.

Many of them make the dangerous crossing from Africa on crowded and unseaworthy vessels, says the BBC’s Rome correspondent, Alan Johnston.

The boat in the latest incident was heading for the Italian island of Lampedusa. It was intercepted after it sent out an SOS signal.

Two passengers from the boat have been taken for treatment to a hospital in Sicily.

In the past month, at least 45 migrants have died in similar circumstances – as a result of being crushed or asphyxiated aboard overcrowded boats.

On Friday, Ansa reported that migrants rescued by a merchant ship this week had spoken of a shipwreck in which 60 people had drowned. Migration to Italy and Malta There has recently been a huge rise in the number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.

EU border agency Frontex says almost 60,000 migrants have already landed in southern Italy this year.

Most are from Africa or the Middle East and pay large sums to smugglers in Libya and Tunisia, who transport them in unsafe fishing vessels.

Officials say Libya’s continuing political instability is partly to blame for the rise.

Italy – which bears the brunt of migrants making the crossing – launched a rescue operation in the Mediterranean last year, and has repeatedly appealed for the EU’s help to tackle the problem.

6/27/2014

Controversy Over Australian Detention Centers

Filed under: australia,government,human rights,intra-national,png — admin @ 3:47 pm

Thousands of people attempt to reach Australia by boat each year to seek asylum, mostly from Indonesia and other pacific islands. It has been the practice of the Australian government to intercept these asylum seekers at sea and transport them to one of a number of asylum detention centers until the government decides what to do with them. One of these detention centers in located on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and another on the small atoll of Naru.

Asylum seekers being rescued by Australian Navy Personnel

In February unrest broke out over night at the Manus Island detention center where one asylum seeker was killed and a great deal more were injured, 2 had to be flown to Australia to receive treatment, one with a gun shot wound and another with a fractured skull. Similar unrest has also occurred at the Naru detention center where the asylum seekers burned down their shelters at the facility last year.

Amnesty International reports that the asylum seeker who died in the February Manus riots was Iranian and that during the riots he was beaten and hit in the head until he died. Amnesty International‚^¿^Ÿs investigation of the incident, reports that the local police and the security staff used brutal and excessive force on the night of the riot. The investigation blames both the Australian government and the government of Papua New Guinea. Amnesty International reports that the asylum seeker who died in the February Manus riots was Iranian and that during the riots he was beaten and hit in the head until he died. Amnesty International‚^¿^Ÿs investigation of the incident, reports that the local police and the security staff used brutal and excessive force on the night of the riot. The investigation blames both the Australian government and the government of Papua New Guinea.

Despite the unrest Australia plans to continue its practice of offsite detention centers. The government maintains that it is still the best way to handle the issue of immigration, which is a serious political issue across the country. The government has cited the safety of the asylum seekers as one of the main reasons for the policy. The government claims that is it is important to deter these immigrants from attempting the perilous journey to Australia in open top boats. These boat are usually crammed to capacity or over capacity with immigrants and the journey is extremely perilous.

Even though the Australian Government presents valid points for their policies, human rights organizations have recorded a number of human rights violations at these detention centers. There have been numerous allegations of hunger strikes, suicide attempts, self-harm and unsanitary living conditions. Amnesty international has received reports that the detention centers do not provide adequate medical care. Amnesty international visited the Manus detention center this past November and reported asylum seekers were enduring unacceptably harsh conditions and humiliating treatment.

Empire Of Prisons: How The US Is Spreading Mass Incarceration Around The World

This article explains how the United States is exporting its model of mass incarceration and social and political control to at least 25 countries. This “prison imperialism” is rooted in the Program for the Improvement of the Colombian Prison System signed in March, 2000 by the US Embassy and Colombia’s Ministry of Justice. That program coincided with a rapid increase in Colombia’s prison population including a rise in political arrests and the militarization of the prison system. Other aspects of this experience are worsened overcrowding, human rights abuses and unhealthy conditions. Nevertheless, the US-Colombia collaboration has become the standard for prison imperialism around the world with Colombian training programs forming a major component. US involvement in international prison systems is carried out by several government agencies including the Bureau of Prisons, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Pentagon, and the US State Department’s Bureaus of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), Democracy, Human Rights and Law Enforcement (DRL) and Consular Affairs, as well as state penal systems. This article provides close-ups of prison imperialism in Colombia, Mexico and Honduras and ends with a discussion of international resistance to the US model by Prisoners of Empire and their allies. The author especially wishes to thank the Colombian human rights group, Lazos de Dignidad (Links of Dignity) for their invaluable help in researching and developing the ideas presented herein, and for their tireless advocacy for Colombia’s political prisoners. This article is a result of an ongoing joint effort between Lazos and the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) in exposing and resisting the Empire of Prisons, and in standing up for its antidote: peace with justice and real, participatory democracy.)

Prison Imperialism: an Overview

The United States, which leads the world in imprisonment rates, is exporting its model of mass incarceration to developing countries around the world. This “prison imperialism” is one of the foundational components to the infrastructure of Empire. Along with the militarization of police forces and borders, mass incarceration enables neoliberal economies to manage by force and intimidation the inevitable consequences of global capitalism: widespread social disruption and rising political dissent. (Neoliberalism is a system including free trade agreements, austerity programs and other measures that assure profitability is treasured above any other social value, and in the developing countries of the US Empire, it is backed up by the US military and its allies.)

Since 2000, there has been an explosion in US efforts to augment and restructure international penitentiary systems, providing training for prison personnel and/or building new jails in at least 25 different countries. The first of these efforts was the Program for the Improvement of the Colombian Prison System, signed by the US Embassy and the Colombian Department of Justice on March 31, 2000. The program was funded as part of the $9 billion the US has invested since 1999 in Plan Colombia mostly to benefit the military and law enforcement.

By 2002 in Afghanistan, and 2003 and 2004 in Iraq, the US was building and managing prisons as part of the invasion and occupation of those countries. These programs were connected from the start with the so-called “Global War on Terrorism” as well as the “Drug War”, through which many prison efforts have been funded. Closely related was the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in January 2002. Many have heard the horror stories of abuses in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the Bagram military detention camps. What most are unaware of is that US involvement in foreign jails has become a worldwide affair and is not just associated with direct military occupations.

The Foundation is Laid in Colombia

Virtually unreported in the US media were the appalling conditions that resulted from the initial US-Colombia collaboration that laid the foundation for future international programs. Funding began with an initial grant from the US of $4.5 million. The first prison built was the penitentiary in Valledupar, commonly known as Tramac?a, completed in November, 2000. Conditions at Tramac?a are so bad that prisoners have access to clean water for only an average 10 minutes a day, sanitary facilities rarely work, torture is common, neglect of health care is systemic and UN and Colombian authorities and international observers have on three different occasions documented the presence of fecal matter in prison food. Alleviation of overcrowding and improvement of prison conditions were cited as reasons for the Colombian restructuring program. However, the accord itself more explicitly links the project to the War on Drugs. The document states that, “Within the objective of the program of narcotics control, the project…seeks to consolidate strategies aimed at controlling illicit actions committed from the interior of the prisons by persons that belong to groups on the margin of the law and that are related to the [narcotics] traffic and crimes against humanity.”

The document goes on to declare that, “The financial support of the United States government to the Ministry of Justice and Law – INPEC [Colombian Bureau of Prisons], will be supplied under this Appendix of the Supplement to Plan Colombia and with annual allocations from the Department of State/ Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL)….”

The reality is that this program has little to do with narcotrafficking or “crimes against humanity”. This is shown by the double standard applied in Colombian prisons. Right-wing paramilitaries and narcotrafficking gangs are often one and the same, and paramilitary organizations and the military have been responsible for 70 to 80% of political violence and atrocities during the more than 50 years of the Colombian Civil War. Yet paramilitaries, big narcotraffickers and their associates regularly enjoy privileges and favors far beyond what is available to common prisoners. Of course, most rarely if ever see the inside of a jail. Murderers of unionists and human rights defenders enjoy a 98% impunity rate for their crimes and many who are convicted are awarded with house arrest-rarely an option for Colombia’s political prisoners.

A 2008 article by the Colombian weekly La Semana exposed how at the ItaguÌ maximum security prison, paramilitary prisoners were using cell phones to arrange murders and other violent operations. In a common area near paramilitary leaders’ cells, security cameras were not functioning, and a search found a pistol, grenade and money hidden inside books. La Semana questioned prison Director Yolanda Rodriguez about this, to which she responded that whenever she tried to do anything about paramilitary privileges, she found her “hands tied”. She said that on a daily basis she received communications from high government officials, including the Regional and General Directors of INPEC and the Minister of Justice, ordering rule changes in favor of paramilitary prisoners.

The experience is very different for the general populace and especially for the political prisoners. Indeed, Colombian prisons have been converted into theaters of war. While common prisoners already must deal with overcrowding, neglect and abuse, these are multiplied greatly for political prisoners and prisoners of war for whom direct attacks and torture are common occurrences. Prison professionals are being replaced with current and ex-members of the Colombian Armed Forces, including several instances of School of the Americas graduates put in charge of penitentiaries. Part of the legacy of US involvement has been the formation of GRI (Immediate Reaction Groups) and CORES (Operative Commandos with Special Reference to Security) in the prisons. These SWAT-style special operations units have on multiple occasions launched assaults on political prisoners and prisoners of war, especially those participating in hunger strikes and other forms of nonviolent protest. Raquel MogollÛn visited Tramac?a prison representing the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) shortly after an attack by the GRI and CORES against striking prisoners in June, 2011. Many of the inmates had suspended themselves in protest from makeshift hammocks and harnesses attached to railings up to 5 floors high. In an AfGJ article about Mogollon’s visit, she reports that:

“‘The GRI took these little nasty mats they had, about two inches thick, and put them on the floors. When they would start to cut down prisoners from their harnesses and hammocks, they would hope they hit the mats. Some did, some didn’t. One prisoner after another reported they counted as many as 50 to 60 times that projectiles were fired.

Prisoner Wilson Rodriguez said that he had been thrown from the fourth floor. He was one of five prisoners carried unconscious from the prison and hospitalized. He was later locked away and given access to water only five minutes each day. Osvaldo Guzman Toro, had fallen three floors. Rodriguez added, “They put out these little mattresses, pretending to use them for safety, but some of the people were being cut down from the fifth floor.”‘

MogollÛn described the GRI, the guards who undertook the attacks, saying that they `…look like SWAT teams, with shields, helmets and all. Several of the prisoners said they pleaded with the GRI not to attack, saying that the GRI shouldn’t be there, that the strike was peaceful. But the GRI responded that they were following orders, that they couldn’t back down. Specifically, the inmates said the GRI told them that they had been “ordered by the Minister and the General….”

MogollÛn reported that, `At least three inmates told me that guards stripped them naked and shot tear gas cans at their genitals. They said that during the attacks the guards were using “pimienta, pata y palos”, or, “peppers, kicks and batons”. Prisoners reported that some of the canisters they were shooting were the size of their forearms-about a foot long.'”

What have been the general results of the US-Colombia prison improvement program? With regards to overcrowding, the problem has not been alleviated but has gotten worse. According to the Office of the People’s Defender, the rate of overcrowding is 58%, the worst rate ever reported and some jails are overcrowded by as much as 400%. In 1998, two years before the program began, the Colombian prison population, according to INPEC figures, was 51,633. By 2007, the population had risen to 63,603. By December 2013, the number of prisoners had reached 120,032. Torture has become widespread. INPEC’s office for internal disciplinary control documented 79 cases of physical or verbal abuse against prisoners during the first six months of 2008. These included beatings, broken bones, denial of medical care, death threats, sexual harassment and hog-tying prisoners with both hands and feet handcuffed. In a 2008 survey of 230 prisoners, 54% of respondents answered they had been tortured in jail–46% did not answer the question at all, possibly for fear of reprisals. Psychological torture was reported by 86% of those who did answer, including isolation, threats to relatives and simulated executions.

Another feature of the Colombian model has been massive relocation of prisoners far from family and friends. For poor families, these transfers make it virtually impossible to maintain contact with loved ones. When family members are able to visit, they are frequently subjected to humiliating treatment and sudden policy changes that often result in denial of the visitor’s entry into penal institutions.

The rate of increase of political prisoners has gone up considerably as well. In a meeting with Colombia’s MOVICE (the Movement of Victims of State Crimes) in 2009, the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) was told that between 1992 and 2002, there were some 2,000 provably arbitrary political arrests later thrown out of courts. Between 2002 and 2006, there were 8,000 such arrests. Detainees were usually charged with “rebellion” based on falsified evidence and the testimony of paid informers. Charges were usually dropped after “suspects” had served an average two to three years in jail. Thousands of prisoners of conscience and those jailed as a result of frame-ups for nonviolent political activities do not have their cases dismissed and are condemned to spend long years in prison. Prisoners of war, who make up a minority of the political prisoners, are treated the worst of all. The social and political context to their imprisonment has been largely unrecognized or denied, although the current peace process will likely address their situation as part of the negotiations, provided it is not derailed by Colombia’s extreme right wing.

Exact statistics are not currently available regarding rates of political arrests today. However, based on the experience of the AfGJ and what we are hearing from our partners and contacts in Colombia, all indications are that the rate has not diminished but risen, especially since the installation of the Marcha PatriÛtica (Patriotic March) popular movement for a just peace. Marcha PatriÛtica leaders and members have been specifically targeted for repression. The state is especially targeting leaders of farmers strikes and union officers for arrest.

Honduras

Colombia has provided the pattern for US involvement in international prison systems, including the institutionalization of abuses that are now being exported globally. Especially, the Colombian model has been applied to Mexico and Central America where the US (and Colombia) have been involved in prison programs since 2009. Once again, these have been funded and overseen as part of the Drug War via the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). Of great concern has been the support the US has given to Honduras following the 2009 coup. Since that time, reports of human rights abuses have skyrocketed. In 2012, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield visited Central American countries offering funds from a $200 million package earmarked to fight drug trafficking by reinforcing police departments, borders, courts and prisons.

In his March, 2012 visit to Honduras, Brownfield designated an additional $1.75 million for Honduras to spend on prison, police and border and port security. In his announcement, Brownfield heaped praise on the Honduran coup government and Armed Forces. A State Department spokesman said of the visit that “”By partnering with Honduran law enforcement agencies, the United States aims to boost anti-drug trafficking efforts, promote citizen safety, and help young people find alternatives to joining gangs.” By May, 2012 the US government had authorized another $50 million for security aid to Honduras.

The 2014 Human Rights Watch report on Honduras, maintains,

“Honduras suffers from rampant crime and impunity for human rights abuses. The murder rate, which has risen consistently over the last decade, was the highest in the world in 2013. Perpetrators of killings and other violent crimes are rarely brought to justice. The institutions responsible for providing public security continue to prove largely ineffective and remain marred by corruption and abuse, while efforts to reform them have made little progress.

Journalists, peasant activists, and LGBTI individuals are particularly vulnerable to attacks, yet the government routinely fails to prosecute those responsible and provide protection for those at risk….

Impunity for serious police abuses is a chronic problem. Police killed 149 civilians from January 2011 to November 2012, including 18 individuals under age 19, according to a report by Honduras’s National Autonomous University. Then-Commissioner of the Preventive Police Alex Villanueva affirmed the report’s findings and said there were likely many more killings by police that were never reported….”

Specifically in regards to prisons, a February 13, 2014 report by Marcos Rodriguez of the HRN radio network informs us that,

“The investigations of HRN reveal that overcrowding in the country’s jails has soared by 300%….Presently apprehensions by the police increased 35% according to official statistics….It is calculated that by the end of 2014, the penitentiary population in Honduras could exceed 19,000 inmates….In these instances the 24 jails of the country are occupied by almost 13,000 inmates, however the system only has capacity for 8,500 prisoners, signifying a [rate of] overcrowding of approximately 49%.”

Mexico

In Mexico, the US is funding the construction of up to 16 new federal prisons and is advising an overall prison “reform” based on the US and Colombian models. The Federal Center for Social Readaptation (CEFERESO) #11 in Hermosillo, Sonora is the first Mexican prison built with private investment and will be managed by a for-profit company for the next 20 years. True to form, the opening of Ceferso #11 was occasioned with the massive transfer of 1,849 prisoners from all over Mexico. Five months after the transfer, prisoners were still being denied access to family and legal defense teams.

Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) visited CEFERESO #11 in October, 2013 a year after its installation to investigate conditions in Mexico’s for-profit prison and reported that the institution had “…even graver deficiencies than those found in other jails of the Republic of Mexico without private capital.” The abuses noted by the CNDH included arbitrary and sudden transfers, being held for long periods incommunicado, being kept in cells for excessively long periods, no classification system for prisoners, insufficient food, poor quality of health services, lack of sports, recreation and cultural activities, lack of work and job training, and insufficient personnel. In only 4 months, the CNDH received 47 complaints regarding sudden transfers to CEFERSO #11 without warning or notice either to families or legal reps.

And while exact figures are not readily available, reports from a number of sectors in Mexico indicate a significant increase in politically motivated arrests since US involvement, including notable political detentions of labor and indigenous leaders.

Once more, the Drug War is the main reason cited for US involvement in the Mexican prison system. But in a country that has been itself described as a “Narco-state” with a 98% impunity rate for violent crime, one must question the veracity of this justification just as we must in Colombia, Honduras and elsewhere. According to a report by the Universal Periodic Review (EPU by its Spanish initials) of the United Nations Human Rights Council in coalition with three Mexican human rights organizations, 60% of those incarcerated in Mexico are there for minor crimes and only 12% for grave crimes such as murder, rape and violent robbery. Again, we must state the obvious: US funded and restructured prisons are about social and political control, not about drug trafficking. Federal prison construction in Mexico is the southern twin to immigrant detention centers on the US side of the border. Privately run immigrant detention centers make profits off of the misery of those uprooted by the neoliberal policies imposed by the US government and the US and Mexican oligarchy, and off of the displacement of rural communities, the vacuum of which has been filled by the proliferation of extremely violent narco-gangs.

Colombia as Partner in Prison Imperialism In Mexico, Central America and elsewhere, the US has drafted Colombia as a major partner in prison imperialism. Both in collaboration with the US and independently, Colombia operates its own international training programs. Between 2009 and 2013, Colombia had given training to 21,949 international students, including military, police, court and prison officials. Half of those trained are from Mexico. Honduras, Guatemala and Panama are the other leading recipients of this training.

An earlier April 14, 2012 US Department of State Fact Sheet on the Colombia Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI) reported that Colombia had trained over 11,000 police officers in 20 Latin American and African countries, as well as in Afghanistan. It reported that “Colombia has trained more than 6,000 Mexican federal and state law enforcement personnel, over 500 prospectors and judicial personnel and 24 helicopter pilots. Prison guards and officials are included among the “law enforcement personnel”.

General John Kelly who oversees the US Southern Command, told a House hearing on April 29, 2014 that

“The beauty of having a Colombia – they’re such good partners, particularly in the military realm, they’re such good partners with us. When we ask them to go somewhere else and train the Mexicans, the Hondurans, the Guatemalans, the Panamanians, they will do it almost without asking. And they’ll do it on their own. They’re so appreciative of what we did for them. And what we did for them was, really, to encourage them for 20 years and they’ve done such a magnificent job.

But that’s why it’s important for them to go, because I’m-at least on the military side-restricted from working with some of these countries because of limitations that are, that are really based on past sins. And I’ll let it go at that.”

Prison Imperialism Around the World

According to a Report on International Prison Conditions released by the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Law Enforcement (DRL), the US has been involved in prison programs in at least 25 countries since 2000. State Department agencies participating in international prison programs besides the DRL include the Bureaus of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and Consular Affairs. The report also refers to participation of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Bureau of Prisons and state prison systems.

In 2003, the INL along with the Department of Justice and International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) led efforts by the US government to reestablish Iraq’s national security system. The INL is now funding 23 programs overseas in partnership with federal and state agencies. The report also tells us that “In South Sudan, for example, INL has obligated $6.5 million since 2010 in support of the country’s first prison training center for corrections officers, the Lologo training academy.” Similarly, since 2010, the DRL has spent $5 million in programs around the globe, including in Iraq, Morocco and South Korea.

What this document downplays is perhaps more telling than anything. In the whole report, Colombia only bears the following mention: “In Haiti, Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala, USAID Missions have worked to address prison overcrowding through the reform of penal codes and by improving processes such as alternative dispute resolution to reduce the amount of time individuals spend in pre-trial detention.” An appendix states that “…prison and detention facility conditions in the following 25 countries whose governments receive United States assistance raise serious human rights or humanitarian concerns….” Nowhere on that list is Colombia.

Likewise, the report downplays the role of the US Bureau of Prisons, letting us know that “The Federal Bureau of Prisons…has also provided prison reform assistance to 17 countries. This assistance is primarily comprised of visits by foreign delegations to BOP institutions and briefings by BOP staff on issues ranging from inmate and staff management to prisoners’ rights and correctional services.” What they don’t let us hear is anything about the major construction projects carried out with BOP supervision in Colombia and Mexico, nor the extent of BOP advice, direction and accreditation in restructuring those countries’ prison systems.

Also unmentioned are US military detention centers. It is with military oversight that the transitions of these centers to civilian institutions is undertaken. We have already seen the example of the INL and other agencies that in the midst of the invasion and occupation of Iraq were tasked with setting up a new prison system. US prison imperialism is one of many threads that weave together the US government’s civilian and military branches.

In Conclusion – and in Resistance

For us in the United States it is important that we remember that US international prison programs are reflections and extensions of our own internal situation. The US has the highest overall rate of incarceration in the world. This rate has almost quadrupled since 1980 despite falling crime rates. In 1980 the rate was 221 per 100,000 US residents. Today the rate is 716 prisoners per 100,000. The number of US federal prisoners has risen by 790% since 1980. Thus we can see that this expansion overseas parallels what is happening at home. To further put this matter in perspective, the US has 700,000 more prisoners than China, even though China has four times our population.

The US prison system has over 80,000 persons in solitary confinement. In 2012 the Justice Department estimated that that year alone there had been 216,000 victims of prison rape. We have more political prisoners than many know of or care to admit, and our basic rights to protest and dissent are being undermined and even criminalized on an almost daily basis. Overcrowding, denial of health services, physical abuse and torture, lack of safety, lack of job training and rehabilitation services, forced relocation far from home communities and family and denial of access to visitors and legal counsel for long periods of time are all features of prison imperialism that are rooted in the policies and practices of the US penal system. It almost goes without saying that the beginning of resistance to prison imperialism must therefore begin at home.

But it must not stop there. We must link our struggles with international struggles. We have seen how the experiment that began in 2000 in Colombia has spread to Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Honduras, South Sudan and across the planet. By looking specifically at the examples of Colombia, Mexico and Honduras, we start to see the kinds of results and concerns we must look for as we examine prison imperialism in other countries.

The US government is clearly spreading an Empire of Prisons around the world. And just as clearly, around the world Prisoners of Empire are resisting abuses. On July 25, 2013, the AfGJ reported on a prison hunger strike in Colombia that, without planning, was happening at the same time similar hunger strikes were happening in California and elsewhere, noting that,

“Prisoners in the DoÒa Juana Penitentiary in Colombia are halfway through the third week of a hunger strike to demand better conditions. Located in La Dorada, Caldas, the prison is one of the jails built with US funding and advice as part of the `New Penitentiary Culture`. Typical of such prisons are overcrowding, lack of medical treatment, a concentration of political prisoners, and beatings and other forms of torture by prison guards…It is no coincidence that prisoners at DoÒa Juana and prisoners in the California prison system began hunger strikes on the same day. Strikes are or have been also underway in Guantanamo and Afghanistan. From California to Colombia, all are protesting US `Prison Imperialism` that jails the population at high rates and uses inhumane practices such as solitary confinement, torture and denial of services to dehumanize the incarcerated.”

Shortly after the above statement was released, AfGJ also learned of hunger strikes happening in immigration detention centers in Arizona.

The international awareness and linking together of each others’ struggles is something that is just starting to happen and grow. We are seeing these struggles come together spontaneously and by accident. These movements resist not only the US model of mass incarceration: they resist the Empire itself. If these movements can become more cognizant of each other and interconnected through shared international solidarity, it may be more than just the prisons that are liberated.

James Jordan is an organizer with Alliance for Global Justice.

How Mexico’s Cartels Are Behind the Border Kid Crisis

Filed under: human rights,intra-national,mexico,usa — admin @ 2:38 pm

Mexico’s drug gangs have taken over the human-trafficking business along the border, and agents suspect they may have a hand in the unprecedented number of underage migrants stagnating in Arizona’s detention centers.

NOGALES, Mexico — Father Ricardo Machuca strides back and forth between six long, metal picnic tables packed with men and women as volunteers pass out plates piled high with corn, beans, rice and pork rinds. Clutching a microphone and wearing jeans, a white tunic, sandals and a messenger bag, Machuca looks more like a bohemian motivational speaker than a Jesuit priest.

Don’t accept offers from strangers who want to help you cross, he warns his audience in Spanish as they quietly dig into their meals. Crossing with coyotes is human trafficking and it’s “un delito federal,” he says. A federal offense. In recent years, warnings about who to avoid on the streets of Nogales have become a key part of Machuca’s advice to those who pass through the binational Kino Border Initiative’s migrant outreach center. Better known as the Comedor, meaning “soup kitchen” in Spanish, the center has been offering hot meals, first aid, clean clothing, and spiritual guidance to migrants since 2009. Someone offering to help wire money could rob you, Machuca tells the migrants. Or a stranger willing to let you use their cellphone to call your family might save their number and use it to extort them later.

“The vulnerability is very high here on the border,” Father Sean Carroll, Machuca’s American counterpart, tells me as an assembly line of volunteers rushes hot plates from the kitchen to the tables. “They want to contract the migrants to try to cross again.”

Carroll is referring to Mexican drugs cartels, along with the smugglers hired by the cartels to recruit desperate migrants looking for a way back into the United States. Over the past decade, after long existing side by side with coyotes, the cartels decided to get in on the action. Now, they’ve turning what was once a relatively informal and somewhat familial underground operation into a highly sophisticated human trafficking network.

While the journey north was always treacherous and costly, in the hands of the cartels it has become deadlier than ever. The entire border, and the routes leading up to it, are controlled by some combination of the Los Zetas, Sinaloa and Knights of Templar cartels, along with a few smaller groups–making it impossible to cross without their permission. And their permission will cost you. Where migrants may have once paid a single person from their hometown $300 to $500 to guide them across, the initial going rate to cross the cartel-occupied border can range between $3,000 and $6,000 per person, the price varying depending on the age, gender, and origin of the migrant. Most people can’t afford that much up front, so family members in the States will often wire money to the smugglers, or pay in installments along the way.

Under the cartel-run migration model, migrants typically make arrangements to cross from their hometowns and are told to find their own way to a certain point where they will meet the coyote. The city of Altar, for example, about 112 miles from Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, is a popular launching point for border crossers, and as such, it has become a center of immigration commerce. Here, smugglers often tell migrants to wait for days before they cross, during which time they are nickel-and-dimed into buying stealth desert-crossing gear–camouflage backpacks, black water bottles, and carpet booties–from vendors who set up shop around town.

For those coming from Central America, just getting to a meeting place like Altar often means riding buses or atop freight trains from southern Mexico where they may be subjected to robbery, beatings, and getting thrown off the train by cartel lackeys. Those who make it will continue to encounter crippling fees at practically every leg of their journey to the border. Refusal or inability to pay may result in migrants being forced to carry backpacks filled with marijuana, getting kidnapped in order to extort money from their families, or being murdered on the spot. Last year, Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales was captured by Mexican Marines and charged with ordering the kidnapping and murder of 265 migrants. For female migrants, there is always a good chance they could be raped along the way, either by their guide or one of the stray predators who stalk the desert.

It’s almost impossible to separate the cartels’ migration takeover from the security crackdown on the U.S.-Mexico border. In the 13 years since U.S. Border Patrol became a part of the post-9/11 Department of Homeland Security and adopted the mission of keeping terrorists out of the country, the Southwest border has been transformed into a militarized zone, with nearly 700 miles of varying degrees of steel fencing, 21,000 Border Patrol agents, security cameras and ground sensors, with more high-tech surveillance on the way. Some combination of this beefed-up security, a George W. Bush-era policy of jailing and formally deporting all illegal border crossers, plus the U.S.’ weakened housing and job markets, brought the net flow of migration from Mexico to a standstill in 2011. While traffic over the border has slowed, those still crossing have been funnelled into the roughest corners of the desert, where human predators are only part of the danger.

To avoid areas where Border Patrol agents are most highly concentrated, migrants must take longer routes through Mexico, often walking for days through the blistering heat and unpaved and often mountainous desert terrain, dodging rattlesnakes, yellow jackets and cacti, before they even reach the international line. It’s physically impossible to carry the amount of water needed for more than a few days in the desert.

To coyotes getting paid for each person who successfully makes it over, it’s not worth the risk of stalling the whole group to stop and care for someone who is hurt or sick. More often than not, those who can’t keep up will be left to die in the desert. Even as the number of illegal crossers apprehended at the border has reached all-time lows, more people are dying than ever. According to a report by the human-rights group the Washington Office on Latin America, 463 migrants died in fiscal year 2012. The last time that there were more deaths was in 2005, when 492 migrants died. But the pool of people crossing over was much larger–that year, Border Patrol apprehended three times as many people as in 2012.

Juanita Molina is the executive director of Border Action Network and Humane Borders, two Tucson, Arizona-based humanitarian groups that set up water tanks in the desert based on their maps of where the most deaths occur and advocate for humane treatment of migrants and border communities by Border Patrol. She argues that the criminalization of economic migration has backed an already vulnerable group of people into a corner, with the cartels capitalizing on the situation.

“As a society, we feed the danger by forcing all of these people into the shadows,” Molina told me at her office in Tucson. She speculates that limiting the ability to cross the border to the most dangerous areas was part of the Border Patrol strategy to deter people from crossing.

“Or maybe they didn’t care that people were dying, that there is a certain amount of collateral damage that comes with enforcement,” she says. “It’s hard to know.”

What Molina does know, from mapping desert deaths for the past 12 years, is that people are dying closer to the international line and farther from the roads in town. “The dynamic of pushing people further into these wilderness areas is almost like putting out meat for the wolves,” she says.

Central American migrants are naturally more vulnerable to cartel manipulation and violence on the journey north than native Mexicans. But the cartels may actually be responsible for the recent influx of Central Americans attempting to cross the Southwest border and, specifically, the surge in unaccompanied minors coming from the region.

In 2011, the World Bank declared narcotics trafficking to be one of the greatest threats to development in Central America. After Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on drug traffickers within his country in 2006, Mexico’s most powerful cartels–Los Zetas, Sinaloa and others–started to spread south, recruiting local gangs to join their operation and terrorizing Guatemalan, Honduran, and Salvadoran cities with the same indiscriminate violence that once made Ciudad Juarez the world’s murder capital. Whereas three political parties plus institutions like the Catholic Church and the business community have prevented Mexico from completely crumbling under the cartel chaos, Central America’s historically fragile economy and easily corruptible political, judicial and military systems are much less poised to withstand the weight of the wealthy and heavily-armed drug cartels. Peace accords to end Guatemala’s civil war in 1996, for example, cut the country’s army by two-thirds, leaving a major opening for organized crime. As of 2011, Guatemala’s murder rate was double that of Mexico. And while that rate technically dropped during the past three years, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security noted in its 2013 Crime and Safety Report that the commonly cited statistics provided by Guatemala’s Policia Nacional Civil undersell the homicide situation, as they do not include murders in which the victim didn’t die right at the scene of the crime.

“Guatemala’s worrisome murder rate appears driven by four key factors: an increase in narco-trafficking activity, growing gang-related violence, a heavily armed population (upwards of 60 percent possess a firearm), and a police/judicial system that remains either unable or unwilling (or both) to hold most criminals accountable,” read the report. “Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished.”

Meanwhile, Honduras and El Salvador have maintained the world’s highest and second-highest homicide rates since the mid-1990s.

By making these countries so dangerous and virtually unlivable for their poorest citizens, the cartels have effectively created an incentive for people to flee, providing themselves with more clientele for their human smuggling business to supplant the hole left by the drop in Mexican migrants.

The cartels are also driving the current border-children crisis in the U.S. Since last October, 52,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended by Border Patrol. House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans have blamed local news coverage in Central American countries of Obama’s pathway to citizenship for the massive influx of kids. But as The Huffington Post discovered by scouring Central American news reports, regional media has accurately covered DACA and the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform and regularly depicts President Obama as tough on immigration.

In reality, it’s more likely a loophole in the George W. Bush-era policy of expeditiously charging, imprisoning, and deporting adult illegal border crossers that is drawing children in droves. According to this policy, while Mexican minors can be sent back over the border immediately, minors from other countries must be held in Customs and Border Protection’s custody for a maximum of 72 hours before they are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORR houses the minors in shelters while searching for U.S.-based relatives with whom they can stay during their deportation proceedings. As of March 2014, there were 366,758 pending deportation cases in U.S. immigration courts. That backlog means even just receiving a court date could take years, by which time the minor could make the case that they are better off with their extended family in the States. Or they could just not show up to court and choose to live under the radar like the 11 million other undocumented immigrants in the United States. No doubt the criminals interested in recruiting border crosses have emphasized to families that kids face better odds in the U.S.–and so the children keep on coming.

Some suspect the recent inundation of unaccompanied minors at the border is part of a strategic move by the cartels to distract Border Patrol while they move drugs.

Last week the Obama administration publicized plans to open more facilities to detain children and families, and to reassign immigration officers and judges to population (upwards of 60 percent possess a firearm), and a police/judicial system that remains either unable or unwilling (or both) to hold most criminals accountable,” read the report. “Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished.”

Meanwhile, Honduras and El Salvador have maintained the world’s highest and second-highest homicide rates since the mid-1990s.

By making these countries so dangerous and virtually unlivable for their poorest citizens, the cartels have effectively created an incentive for people to flee, providing themselves with more clientele for their human smuggling business to supplant the hole left by the drop in Mexican migrants.

The cartels are also driving the current border-children crisis in the U.S. Since last October, 52,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended by Border Patrol. House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans have blamed local news coverage in Central American countries of Obama’s pathway to citizenship for the massive influx of kids. But as The Huffington Post discovered by scouring Central American news reports, regional media has accurately covered DACA and the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform and regularly depicts President Obama as tough on immigration.

In reality, it’s more likely a loophole in the George W. Bush-era policy of expeditiously charging, imprisoning, and deporting adult illegal border crossers that is drawing children in droves. According to this policy, while Mexican minors can be sent back over the border immediately, minors from other countries must be held in Customs and Border Protection’s custody for a maximum of 72 hours before they are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORR houses the minors in shelters while searching for U.S.-based relatives with whom they can stay during their deportation proceedings. As of March 2014, there were 366,758 pending deportation cases in U.S. immigration courts. That backlog means even just receiving a court date could take years, by which time the minor could make the case that they are better off with their extended family in the States. Or they could just not show up to court and choose to live under the radar like the 11 million other undocumented immigrants in the United States. No doubt the criminals interested in recruiting border crosses have emphasized to families that kids face better odds in the U.S.–and so the children keep on coming.

Some suspect the recent inundation of unaccompanied minors at the border is part of a strategic move by the cartels to distract Border Patrol while they move drugs.

Last week the Obama administration publicized plans to open more facilities to detain children and families, and to reassign immigration officers and judges to population (upwards of 60 percent possess a firearm), and a police/judicial system that remains either unable or unwilling (or both) to hold most criminals accountable,” read the report. “Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished.”

Meanwhile, Honduras and El Salvador have maintained the world’s highest and second-highest homicide rates since the mid-1990s.

By making these countries so dangerous and virtually unlivable for their poorest citizens, the cartels have effectively created an incentive for people to flee, providing themselves with more clientele for their human smuggling business to supplant the hole left by the drop in Mexican migrants.

The cartels are also driving the current border-children crisis in the U.S. Since last October, 52,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended by Border Patrol. House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans have blamed local news coverage in Central American countries of Obama’s pathway to citizenship for the massive influx of kids. But as The Huffington Post discovered by scouring Central American news reports, regional media has accurately covered DACA and the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform and regularly depicts President Obama as tough on immigration.

In reality, it’s more likely a loophole in the George W. Bush-era policy of expeditiously charging, imprisoning, and deporting adult illegal border crossers that is drawing children in droves. According to this policy, while Mexican minors can be sent back over the border immediately, minors from other countries must be held in Customs and Border Protection’s custody for a maximum of 72 hours before they are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORR houses the minors in shelters while searching for U.S.-based relatives with whom they can stay during their deportation proceedings. As of March 2014, there were 366,758 pending deportation cases in U.S. immigration courts. That backlog means even just receiving a court date could take years, by which time the minor could make the case that they are better off with their extended family in the States. Or they could just not show up to court and choose to live under the radar like the 11 million other undocumented immigrants in the United States. No doubt the criminals interested in recruiting border crosses have emphasized to families that kids face better odds in the U.S.–and so the children keep on coming.

Some suspect the recent inundation of unaccompanied minors at the border is part of a strategic move by the cartels to distract Border Patrol while they move drugs.

Last week the Obama administration publicized plans to open more facilities to detain children and families, and to reassign immigration officers and judges to speed up deportation proceedings. During a visit with senior leaders from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in Guatemala on Friday, Vice President Joe Biden announced the U.S. would be dedicating $225 million to the Central American countries to better prosecute gang members, cut down on gang recruitment with youth outreach programs, and help reintegrate deportees.

On the opposite side of the border in Nogales, Arizona Border Patrol spokesman Peter Bidegain is pointing at a two-story yellow brick house just across the border fence. “This yellow building here, it’s operated by the one of the cartels as a scouting facility,” he says. Nearby, a yellow Caterpillar excavator sits idle next to an opening that once led into a cross-border tunnel. “You can see guys on the porch sometimes with binoculars. They work in shifts just like we do.”

Bidegain describes a common cat-and-mouse game played by smugglers and the Border Patrol agents in which migrants are led over the fence on a ladder, prompting the agents to go after the migrants and allowing drug smugglers to sneak by. Vast scouting networks using cellphone or radio transmissions, powered by solar panel battery chargers in the mountains, allow lookouts on both sides of the border to study Border Patrol agents’ every move, waiting for the perfect time to pounce. With Border Patrol and Mexican police stacked on either side of the 15-foot-high steel wall, drugs stuffed in the sides of cars or fake fruit in the back of trucks or even on the back of a single person have a better chance of making it through Nogales than a group of migrants.

“A lot of times the people who are being smuggled here are just being used as bait,” he says.

Some suspect the recent inundation of unaccompanied minors at the border is part of a strategic move by the cartels to distract Border Patrol while they move drugs.

“We have grave concerns that dangerous cartel activity, including narcotics smuggling and human trafficking, will go unchecked because Border Patrol resources are stretched too thin,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson this month, requesting $30 million for additional law enforcement. Recent U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration statistics back this theory. Total marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine seizures between January 1 and June 14 of this year have dropped across all states that line the U.S.-Mexico border, but the decrease in Texas–the center of the surge in unaccompanied minors–has been bigger than the average, at 34 percent. The DEA and Border Patrol have said it’s too soon to tell whether the decrease in drug seizures is at all connected to the increase in underage crossers.

As policymakers debate how best to handle the current immigration crisis, the day-to-day game of Whack-A-Mole continues along the border. Border Patrol zeroes in on the highest trafficked areas and, in turn, smugglers change position.

“They will use what’s successful, so they’ll try anything,” Bidegain told me. “It just depends on the smuggling du jour.”

5/24/2014

Migrants

At least 17 people were killed when a ship carrying migrants sank Monday about 100 miles off southern Italy, the Italian navy said Tuesday.

Just over 200 other people who’d been on the ship were rescued, the navy said. 2013: Video shows naked migrants being hosed

The incident came a day after a boat carrying illegal migrants sank off the coast of Tripoli, Libya, killing at least 40 people, according to an account from Libya’s Interior Ministry.

Southern Italy — especially tiny Lampedusa, which is the closest Italian island to Africa — is a frequent destination for refugees seeking to enter European Union countries from Africa. Migrants often pack into unseaworthy and ill-equipped boats, and shipwrecks off Italian shores are common.

The Italian military has rescued about 2,000 migrants in the last five days alone, Italy’s navy said Monday, highlighting the difficulty in keeping up with the flow of migrants seeking to reach European soil.

Tens of thousands of people are rescued from the Mediterranean Sea each year, according to the European Union border agency, Frontex.

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, expressed its dismay Tuesday over the rising number of migrants dying as they try to make the perilous crossing. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters that those who lost their lives Monday include 12 women, three children and two men.

In addition, 121 people are believed to have died in three separate boat accidents off the Libyan coast over the past two weeks, he said.

Some of the 53 survivors of a shipwreck off Libya on May 6 told the UNHCR that the smugglers pushed them onto the boat and set off even though the boat was damaged in the middle, Edwards said. It’s believed 77 people drowned in that incident.

The deaths of more than 300 African migrants in a shipwreck off Lampedusa last October shocked Italy and the world, and led to calls for EU lawmakers to review their migration policies.

A rescue operation established by the Italian government after that tragedy saved more than 20,000 people at sea through early April, the United Nations refugee agency said. Nearly 43,000 migrants arrived in Italy by sea in 2013, according to the agency.

Many of the migrants are from African nations, while others have fled war-torn Syria.

The UNHCR believes more than 170 migrants have died at sea trying to reach Europe so far this year.

It praised rescue efforts by the Italian and Libyan authorities, as well as private boats, but said more still needs to be done.

“We also urge governments around the world to provide legal alternatives to dangerous sea journeys, ensuring desperate people in need of refuge can seek and find protection and asylum,” the agency said. “These alternatives could include resettlement, humanitarian admission, and facilitated access to family reunification.”

4/7/2014

State news agency aligns covert ZunZuneo program with other ‘anti-Cuban’ plots including failed Bay of Pigs invasion

Filed under: capitalism,cuba,culture,government,ideology,intra-national,media,usa — admin @ 6:38 am

Revelations of a secret US government programme to set up a cellphone-based social network in Cuba are being trumpeted in the island’s official media as proof of Havana’s repeated allegations that Washington is waging a “cyber-war” to try to stir up unrest.

“ZunZuneo joins an extensive list of secret anti-Cuban operations” including the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 and plots to assassinate Fidel Castro, state news agency Prensa Latina said.

The findings of an Associated Press investigation, published on Thursday, featured prominently on multiple Cuban state TV newscasts and occupied a full page in the Communist Party newspaper Granma on Friday. They also were to be the focus of the nightly two-hour news analysis show “Mesa Redonda”, or “Roundtable”.

Prensa Latina recalled a 1 January speech in which President Ra??l Castro warned of “attempts to subtly introduce platforms for neoliberal thought and for the restoration of neocolonial capitalism‚^¿^›.

“Castro’s denunciations of the US government’s destabilising attempts against Cuba were corroborated by today’s revelation of a plan to push Cuban youth toward the counterrevolution, with the participation of a US agency,” Prensa Latina said.

US officials defended the program as being in line with the mission of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which oversaw it. They said it did not amount to a “covert” operation, although they said the government takes steps to maintain discretion when working in “non-permissive environments” such as Cuba.

Documents obtained by the AP showed that the network, dubbed ZunZuneo after the Cuban word for hummingbird, operated from 2009 until it vanished in 2012. Some Documents obtained by the AP showed that the network, dubbed ZunZuneo after the Cuban word for hummingbird, operated from 2009 until it vanished in 2012. Some 40,000 island cellphone users signed up and used ZunZuneo to receive and send text messages, mostly innocuous jokes or snippets of international, sports and entertainment news.

However the AP revealed that the network, which was built using secret shell companies and financed through a foreign bank, sought to first build an audience of mostly young people and then nudge them toward dissent.

In a statement late Thursday, Josefina Vidal, director of US affairs at Cuba’s foreign ministry, demanded that Washington halt “its illegal and clandestine actions against Cuba”. She said the ZunZuneo case “shows once again that the United States government has not renounced its plans of subversion against Cuba”.

Cuba has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world, though the country has taken small steps to expand access. Last year it opened about 200 cyber-cafes around the country, though at $4.50 an hour many Cubans are effectively priced out. The government also controls nearly all traditional media.

Cellphone use is increasingly common among the island’s population of 11 million. Official statistics say there were about 1.8 million active Cuban mobile accounts in 2012, compared with 400,000 in 2007.

On the streets of Havana, some echoed their government’s complaints about US interference and ZunZuneo.

“Coming from them [the United States], nothing can surprise us anymore,” said 25-year-old Claudia Garcia.

11/21/2013

Exile Islands

Histories of Exploitation

Exile Islands, Then and Now

by DEANNA RAMSEY

Christmas Island sits 220 miles off the southern coast of Java, a tiny, isolated Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. Boven Digoel is a remote spot of jungle on the island of New Guinea in Indonesia’s Papua province, once accessible only by a days-long journey upriver.

Aside from being both tropical and secluded, these sites share something darker and more ignominious, for Boven Digoel was a penal colony established by the Dutch in 1926 for rebels and critics of the colonial government, and the way-station for asylum seekers known as Christmas Island is our modern-day equivalent, a place for the marginalized of the globe to live out lives in geopolitical limbo.

So many boats filled with people from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa were landing on Christmas Island in the last decade that the Australian government built a US$370 million detention center there in 2009. The site houses more than 2,000 people, and sits in one corner of the 12-mile-long island.

The increasing number of asylum seeker arrivals to Australia – more than 15,000 in 2013 alone – has become such an issue that in July former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took a new “hardline” stance, saying that no one arriving by boat would ever be allowed to settle there. He announced that new arrivals would be moved to a center on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island for processing and possible resettlement, while also granting the country a much-needed assistance package. In August, Rudd announced a similar agreement with the South Pacific island nation of Nauru.

Now, instead of Christmas Island’s isolation, those from conflict-torn countries seeking better lives are being sent to a 60-mile-long stretch in Papua New Guinea’s northern waters or to Nauru’s even more remote eight square miles, left to wait indefinitely for their refugee claims to be processed.

Considering the history of the region, these moves to expel people to ever more distant locations – and essentially dodging the reasons why so many are there in the first place – bleakly echo polices of detainment and exile practiced by colonial-era powers.

The use of Australia as a penal colony is an obvious example, and the British East India Company banished its colonized subjects to the Andaman Islands and Singapore. The French employed New Caledonia in the Pacific and the infamous Devil’s Island in Guiana in similar ways, to name just a few.

After a failed communist uprising in Jakarta (then Batavia) in 1926, the Dutch created Boven Digoel, a prison deep in New Guinea at the easternmost border of the Dutch East Indies. The site housed those espousing communist and revolutionary views, including Sutan Sjahrir, future prime minister of Indonesia, and Mohammed Hatta, who would become the country’s first vice president.

The region’s modern exiles, fleeing countries that are centers of contemporary conflict like Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq, must pay people smugglers to take them on the hazardous journey to Australian territory, but they often do not reach their destination.

The rickety wooden boats that smugglers employ routinely break down and sink, with asylum seekers drowning in the seas between Indonesia and Australian territory. In 2010, a boat dashed upon the rocks on Christmas Island’s shores and 50 people drowned. In September, a boat heading to the island sank off the coast of Java, with at least 28 killed. And in October, 30 asylum seekers from Pakistan, Somalia and Eritrea were discovered on an Indonesian beach intending to travel to Christmas Island. According to reports, after a dispute with the smugglers they had paid, they were abandoned and later taken into custody by police.

The journey to Boven Digoel in the 1920s and 30s was not as fraught with danger, with Sjahrir even writing eloquently of the beauty he experienced during his voyage from Jakarta. But life in the penal colony was bad, with prisoners dying of disease, eaten by crocodiles or weakening through their efforts to create new homes in hostile jungle. Mas Marco Kartodikromo, an accomplished writer and vocal critic of the colonial government, was sent to Boven Digoel in 1927; in 1932 he died there of malaria, as many inmates did.

In both the colonial prison camp and our modern-day detention centers there was anger, rebellion and attempts at escape. In Boven Digoel, so many refused to do the work required of them that a special site was created for those “recalcitrants” to live in even further exile. Escape attempts were unsuccessful as no one could navigate the jungle. Some were caught, others just disappeared, never to be heard from again.

In March 2011, the recalcitrants of Christmas Island rioted, some jumping the center’s fence and heading to the airport, others setting fire to buildings, including their own tent accommodations, and throwing rocks at police. And on July 19 of this year, a riot by the mostly Iranian detainees at the Nauru center, reportedly in frustration at the interminable waiting involved in the processing of their claims of refugee status, destroyed many of the site’s buildings.

A United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report from February 2013 on Manus’ center states, “the current policy and practice of detaining all asylum-seekers on a mandatory and indefinite basis, without an individual assessment or possibility for review, amounts to arbitrary detention which is inconsistent with the obligations of both Australia and PNG under international human rights law.” A December 2012 UNHCR found that Nauru’s center did not meet international standards and the conditions were “harsh, with little natural shelter from the heat during the day.” Images illustrate this, showing row upon row of tents exposed to the elements in Nauru and Manus and Christmas Island’s prison-like center wrapped in fencing and topped with barbed wire.

How strange it is that the inconspicuous Christmas Island has emerged as a destination, a space that connects Indonesia and Australia across sea – and now through the desperate people crossing their borders – and also entwines the shared colonial histories of the region. On a map, one can almost trace a straight line from Christmas Island, named by an East India Company voyager, to Boven Digoel and its echoes of the Dutch colonial past, to Manus, which was German colonial territory and later British, and on to the former German colony of Nauru.

Christmas, Manus and Nauru, with their histories of exploitation, now house modern colonies designed to imprison the innocent. The places are marked by the denial of rights, imperialist attitudes and little recourse – all on far-flung tropical islands populated by people who never intended or wanted to stay.

But one difference between then and now is that almost immediately after Boven Digoel was established, dispatches from the prison were published in newspapers throughout the Dutch East Indies, as historian Takashi Shiraishi has noted. The public could read Mas Marco’s description of the shackles he was kept in during his journey to the camp, or Sjahrir’s encounters with the locals of the New Guinea jungle or even a fictionalized account of life at Boven Digoel by the writer Kwee Tek Hoay serialized over three years in a weekly paper.

But what do we hear from our modern-day exiles, people who have fled war and terror and strife and risked their lives to make it to safer shores? Aside from news documenting political maneuverings or boat arrivals and, regrettably, capsizings, there is little from the detained themselves, especially ironic in our age of mass and social media. Those who are detained – the families even – have traveled far, far from their homes in hopes of a respite from conflict and have ended up in ironically named “centers”, with no voice and no recourse but the occasional riot.

Before arriving in Boven Digoel, Hatta somewhat optimistically wrote that he hoped the exile camp might become a “Mecca” for the progressive movement in Indonesia, a place where new leaders could emerge. And while he was certainly correct about himself, there were many others who never, ever left the place.

In December of 1938, the Dutch minister of the colonies wrote to the governor general on the closing of Boven Digoel, “That I am of opinion that the Netherlands authority over the Indies derives its great moral prestige in the world from its effective and humane administrative methods and [therefore I believe that] the sooner it can do without the exceptional means of a special place of internment, the better.”

We can only hope similar correspondence will be sent regarding the “immigration detention centers” marring our southern oceans, for those immigrants – the victims of humanitarian crises that spring from very global issues – deserve much, much better.

7/11/2011

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

intriguing japanese-brazilian artist

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
Parts How Can That Be Setup? Tobago’s main source of income is tourism and
taking the tourist to the Buccoo Reef in the glass bottom boat is part of
showing them parts of Tobago. The boats here have outboard engines. Parts
are very hard to come by and it’s not always at your fingertips when
something goes wrong with the engine. I need good information like contact
person and number preferrable from Yamaha. Information that will help me
start up that business. Thank you

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

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

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