brad brace

4/9/2016

Panama Papers

panamapapers

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.

3/7/2011

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.

10/19/2009

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

10/3/2009

FIFTY ON RUN TO 'ASYLUM' VENEZUELAN ARMS VESSEL'S LAND DISPUTE AFTER COCAINE-LADEN AIRPLANES IN L.A. COUNTY CONDOMS DEPARTMENT NABBED DISASTERS FUELING PHILANTHROPY'S TOILET AS JAKARTA CHOLERA AND HIV/AIDS SPREAD THROUGH PACIFIC EARTHQUAKE'S RAPIDLY DISAPPEARING WORLD FORESTS — BIOFUELS DITCH DOLLAR, CLIMATE CHANGE IN ALASKAN COASTAL VILLAGES AS HUNDREDS LEFT HOMELESS IN PANGA RAMPAGE AS FANGED FROGS DISCOVER HORRORS FACING YOUNG GIRLS' STRUGGLE TO CONTAIN SOUTHERN VIOLENCE FOR VANISHED REEF CEMETERY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA GIANT RATS PRISON BREAK

At a time when local law enforcement agencies are being forced to cut
budgets and freeze hiring, cities across Southern California have found a
growing source of income — immigration detention.Roughly two-thirds of the
nation’s immigrant detainees are held in local jails, and the payments to
cities and counties for housing them have increased as the federal
government has cracked down on illegal immigrants with criminal records and
outstanding deportation orders.Washington paid nearly $55.2 million to
house detainees at 13 local jails in California in fiscal year 2008, up
from $52.6 million the previous year. The U.S. is on track to spend $57
million this year.

After dumping its untreated wastewater into lake Managua for more than 80
years, the capital of Nicaragua has started to clean up the huge source of
water in this country, where 80 percent of fresh water sources are
polluted. “For 82 years we have turned Central America’s largest lake into
the world’s biggest toilet.We poison it every day with tons of feces and
garbage, and now, at this pace, it will take 50 years or more to salvage.”
However, that new Augusto C. Sandino wastewater treatment plant inaugurated
by President Daniel Ortega on the shores of Lake Managua (also known as
Lake Xolotl?°n, which means “dedicated to the god X??lotl” in the N?°huatl
language) is a huge step towards the aim of cleaning up the country’s water
sources. There is still much to be done; this is just the first step in a
good plan to rescue the country’s water sources. It will take more than 50
years to get to the point where the water can be used for consumption.

Despite Indonesia’s West Papua region being home to some of the world’s
largest resource extraction projects, which generate massive wealth for
multinationals and for the government in Jakarta, local indigenous people
still suffer from poor health. Documenting that has not been easy, since
Jakarta has been reluctant to allow outsiders into this remote region. But
recently a few international health NGOs, including Medecins du Monde, have
travelled to West Papua, and their data shows a region where tens of
thousands out of 2.5 million inhabitants are estimated to be infected with
HIV/Aids, and lethal cholera and diarrhoea outbreaks are frequent. The
health problems of West Papuans are often the result of change taking place
too quickly for such a remote people. Papuans are being overtaken by new
development and while the delivery of basic health services lacks support
and funding, they’re falling way behind in health standards.

A major 7.9-magnitude earthquake shook the South Pacific nation of Tonga,
prompting a tsunami warning but causing no major damage. The quake was
centred 210 kilometres (130 miles) south-southeast of the Tongan capital
Nuku’alofa. A 5.2-magnitude aftershock was also recorded in the same region
just over two hours after the initial quake. A resident of Nuku’alofa said
there was no sign of significant damage or of a tsunami after the shallow
quake, which struck at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles). The US Pacific
Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami warning for Tonga, Niue, the
Kermadec Islands, American Samoa and Fiji, but lifted it nearly two hours
after the quake struck.

Despite Australia’s best efforts to supply safe-sex aids to AIDS-ravaged
Papua New Guinea, there’s no stopping local creativity in finding unusual
uses for condoms. Local fisherman cut them up for lures, and women find the
lubricant good for their hair and beauty regime. Non-government
organisations and various HIV/AIDS groups know all too well where many of
those Australian-funded rubbers go. As one NGO boss said: “If they’re
fishing, they’re not f**king.” The PNG National AIDS Council Secretariat
was recently described as “rotten to the core” with corruption,
misappropriation and mismanagement amid news that two million condoms had
been left to expire in a Port Moresby warehouse.

Two leading networks of environmental and Indigenous Peoples’
Organisations, called on world governments to take immediate action to halt
deforestation and forest degradation. Deforestation rates continue to be
shockingly high in many countries despite increased awareness that forests
— which host more than 70% of terrestrial biodiversity — play a key role
not only in sustaining the livelihoods of more than one billion people but
also in mitigating climate change. The environmental networks called for a
stop to promoting plantations and urged governments to immediately halt the
conversion of forests into biofuel plantations in their countries.
Governments should also recognize urgently Indigenous Peoples’ territories,
promote community-based forest management and restoration, ban illegal
logging and related trade, and implement immediate deforestation moratoria.

A U.N. panel will recommend that the world ditch the dollar as its reserve
currency in favor of a shared basket of currencies, adding to pressure on
the dollar. the proposal was to create something like the old Ecu, or
European currency unit, that was a hard-traded, weighted basket. The
recommendation would be one of a number delivered to the United Nations by
the U.N. Commission of Experts on International Financial Reform. It is a
good moment to move to a shared reserve currency. Central banks hold their
reserves in a variety of currencies and gold, but the dollar has dominated
as the most convincing store of value — though its rate has wavered in
recent years as the United States ran up huge twin budget and external
deficits.

A reef-top cemetery in Solomon Islands has been destroyed in what villagers
say is clear evidence of the effects of climate change. Villagers in Temotu
Province say they have seen the effects in the Reef Islands, a group of 16
small coral islands 80 kilometres from Santa Cruz island, in eastern
Solomon Islands. an entire cemetery at Tuo village, Fenualoa Island, has
been washed away by waves. The villagers say the destruction was carried
out by a rise in sea levels which has happened gradually over the past few
years. Tuo village community leader, Ezekiel Nodua said the only remains of
the graves are broken pieces of cement scattered over a wide area of
off-shore reef. The reef at high tide now becomes submerged by the sea. Mr
Nodua says the people of Tuo village now bury their dead beside their
homes, because they no longer have a community cemetery to bury their dead.
The densely populated islands have been known to be previously subject to
tidal surges caused by cyclones and volcanic activity

There is a close correlation between disaster, whether natural or
manufactured, and the philanthropy industry. This implies the existence of
two symbiotic professions. First is conflict entrepreneurship and war
mongering whose business is to ensure continuous presence of warlike
activities and general instability in different places. In part this is
because war is big business and hence the tendency for war and business to
reinforce each other. Second is that of philanthropic entrepreneurs,
including peace activists, who make elaborate plans to raise funds to deal
with expected disasters that can be either natural or man-made. Total lack
of disaster is catastrophic to their interests. Man-made disasters can be
related to the business of war. The link between war and business gave rise
to two complexes that have the military at the centre perpetuating warlike
conditions.

Australia has recently seen a surge in asylum seekers arriving on boats. An
Australian navy ship has intercepted a boat carrying nearly 60 suspected
asylum seekers – the fourth such incident in less than two weeks. The boat
was stopped some 420km (265 miles) north of Broome in Western Australia.
Those on board were being sent to an immigration detention centre on
Christmas Island, about 2,575km (1,600 miles) north-west of the mainland.
The nationalities of the suspects were not immediately known.

The largest federal contract in the state is with the Los Angeles County
Sheriff’s Department, whose 1,400-bed detention center is dedicated to
housing immigrants either awaiting deportation or fighting their cases in
court. The department received $34.7 million in 2008, up from $32.3 million
the previous year. Some smaller cities have seen their income rise much
faster. Glendale received nearly $260,000 in 2008, triple what it got the
previous year. In Alhambra, last year’s $247,000 was more than double the
previous year’s payments. For some cash-strapped cities, the federal money
has become a critical source of revenue, covering budget shortfalls and
saving positions.

The new plant is processing 132,000 cubic metres of wastewater a day, and
will process 180,000 cubic metres a day when it reaches full operating
capacity. The wastewater from 60 chemical companies and Managua’s 1.2
million people has been dumped untreated into the lake from 17 drains since
1927, when the government ordered all sewage to be channeled into the lake
until a new sewer system was built. But the system was not in place until
2007, when 32 kilometres of underground drainage and sewage pipes running
to the treatment plant were completed. It is an old dream of the Nicaraguan
people to salvage the beautiful gifts that God gave this land of lakes and
volcanoes and, thanks to God, the government and friendly countries, we are
giving a start to that dream. Work on the plant began in 1997, with funding
from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the governments of Germany
and other European countries, and the Nicaraguan treasury. The total cost
was 85.5 billion dollars.

There were hundreds of new reported cases of AIDS, taking the total
official number to more than 4,000 (50% of Indonesia’s total cases). Some
health agencies estimate that the real number with AIDS has reached 70,000,
or about 2.5% of the population. Diarrhoea killed dozens in rural areas
while in urban centres, such as Jayapura and Manokwari, food poisoning
killed more. Deaths from a cholera epidemic in the Dogiyai and Paniai
districts were about 300 by the end of last year. “We are seeing just the
tip of the iceberg of several health problems, and access to clean water
and education. This cholera bacterium is always there. When people are in a
lower nutritional state, or have another disease like HIV/AIDS, then they
are more vulnerable to this. “All families in my village, someone dies…
every day,” says Ipo Hagwan of Northern Kamuu. “People are very scared. It
has been getting worse and we don’t know how to stop it.” The remoteness of
the region makes it difficult for Jakarta to deal with epidemics. But many
Papuans feel their welfare is just not a concern for Indonesia. “Since this
cholera outbreak hit, Jakarta has done nothing to help these people. Where
are the health services from the government and the World Health
Organisation when people are dying every day?”

The centre later said in an updated warning that a tsunami had been
generated that could have been destructive along coastlines of the region
near the earthquake epicentre. In Fiji, the authorities warned people in
coastal areas to move to higher ground and schools along the coast were
closed. Many businesses and government offices stayed closed until after
the warning was lifted. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Civil Defence also
issued a tsunami advisory for all coastal regions soon after the
earthquake. But the tsunami warning was lifted after there were no reports
of any significant rise in sea levels. The warning centre said after
cancelling the tsunami alert that only a minor rise in sea level of around
four centimetres (1.5 inches) was recorded by sea level gauges in the South
Pacific nation of Niue. Nuku’alofa resident Mary Fonua said no significant
damage was apparent after the quake, which lasted for about a minute.
“There was a lot of rattling and shaking. It went on for about 30 seconds
and I went outside and the house was shaking for about another 30 seconds,”
she said. Electricity and phone services were not disrupted.

So where do Aussie condoms end up besides going off in storage? Several
fisherman were out on Port Moresby’s harbour to catch what they promised
would be big tuna. “The fish think the condoms are squid,” fisherman Iewana
said. “Us coastal people use it, but it’s more in the north by the New
Guinea islands guys.” Other fishermen had said they would raid any condom
distribution point when the Aussie-funded rubbers bounced into town. Asked
about the raids, one woman said some of the sisterhood had taken to using
the lubricant for their hair and skin and on rashes because they had heard
it had healing properties. Back to the fishing excursion, which cost 100
kina and two tanks of petrol, but delivered precious little in the form of
tuna of any size. “It’s best to fish in the afternoon,” Iewana said. Even
as this condom fishing story seemed to be slipping away, the fisherman
friend wanted even more money. “You must buy petrol for us,” Iewana said as
they puttered back into shore. “But I’ve already bought ample and gave you
some cash,” the visitor retorted, used to the PNG try-on. “Okay,” he said,
miffed at missing an extra hand-out. They both felt a little screwed.

The expansion of large-scale monocultures of oil palm, soy and other crops
for agrofuel production has been a key factor in the failure to halt
deforestation. The report also states that “the potential for large-scale
commercial production of cellulosic biofuel will have unprecedented impacts
on the forest sector. If cellulosic biofuel leads to a strongly increased
demand for wood, it will have a dramatic impact on the world’s forests,
especially in regions like Africa and Asia, which are already facing
increased pressure on forests due to the failure to combat illegal logging
and the rapidly rising demand for wood in general.

News of the U.N. panel’s recommendation extended dollar losses because it
fed into concerns about the future of the greenback as the main global
reserve currency, raising the chances of central bank sales of dollar
holdings. Speculation that major central banks would begin rebalancing
their FX reserves has risen since the intensification of the dollar’s slide
between 2002 and mid-2008. Russia is also planning to propose the creation
of a new reserve currency, to be issued by international financial
institutions. It has significantly reduced the dollar’s share in its own
reserves in recent years.

Another driver for deforestation is illegal logging – 20% of the timber
supply comes from illegal sources. Europe remains one of the main markets
for illegal timber. Strong legislation to halt illegal timber trade and to
decrease Europe’s devastating impact on the world’s forests should be
adopted as a bare minimum – there is no time to lose. Illegal logging could
increase due to the global economic crisis, as it might cause a contraction
of the formal forestry sector. An additional worrying trend is the massive
replacement of forests by large-scale tree plantations in many countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that Russia will finance arms
purchases valued at $2.2 billion. This would increase the country’s
defensive capacity with more tanks, missiles and anti-aerial defense
systems. Venezuela will buy 92 T-72S tanks, Smerch missiles with a range of
90 kilometers, and an S-300, Antey-2500 anti-air defense system including
radars and missile ramps with a range of 400 kilometers. The Russian
government approved financing for $2.2 billion for arms spending. The arms
purchases are intended to defend the country’s petroleum and natural gas
reserves and aren’t intended to attack any other country. Since 2006,
Chavez has bought about $4.4 billion in Russian arms to modernize the armed
forces.

First is the big country complex of manufacturing weapons that have to be
sold or used somewhere. USA President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans
about the dangers of ‘a military industrial complex,’ as he left office.
His country was and is the world’s leading industrial power and weapons
producer. Second is the small country complex, having intricate weapons
buying arrangements. For small countries that do not have industries let
alone manufacture weapons, the concept is that of the military-business
complex in which those with access to strings of power determine the
stationing or removal of officers who influence military procurement. The
result is skewed purchases that might be irrelevant to actual defence and
national well being, but which make the well-connected very comfortable.
Consequently, they are often caught flatfooted when real disaster strikes.
The two complexes are intertwined in that the military industrial complex
needs the military business complex. Players in each complex tend to be
interested in ensuring “demand” for the weapons it deals with. Those in
charge, at either end, have to make money. The consequence can be man-made
disaster to humans and the environment. The misery of the victims, whether
due to natural or man-made disasters, is opportunity to the big
philanthropy industry. The symbiosis between producers and absorbers of
weapons is replayed in the philanthropy arena.

The immigration agency is inundated with detainees, if there were 100 more
beds, they’d be filled. Immigrant detainees stay in the local jails
anywhere from a few hours to many months. At most jails, they are not
separated from the rest of the population. Immigrant rights advocates have
raised concerns about local jails not following federal detention standards
and not segregating detainees from people suspected of committing crimes.
Immigration detention is civil, not criminal. If you are holding them in
the same place, that distinction is meaningless. Even though the cities may
benefit financially, the savings do not get passed along to taxpayers.
We’re still paying for it. It’s still a waste of resources to detain people
who do not need to be detained.

More than 120,000 users of the sewage system are now connected to the
treatment plant, which will begin to ease pollution of the 1,040 square
kilometre lake which is located in western Nicaragua, near the Pacific
coast. Another sewage network will be built, to hook up the districts of
Ticuantepe and Veracruz, as well as outlying areas to the south of the
capital, with the new treatment plant. In 1969, the dictatorship of General
Anastasio Somoza (1967-1979) declared the western shore of the lake, where
20 different Managua neighbourhoods were located, as uninhabitable due to
the health risks. The clean-up process is on the right track. By treating
the water bacteriologically, the main factors that produce bad smells and
colours, from sewage, are eliminated, and at least the landscape changes
and the lake will recover its normal colour, little by little.

The government’s failure to respond quickly to the cholera epidemic caused
many more deaths, and the repression Papuans have suffered for years at the
hands of the Indonesian military has exacerbated the problem. Papua has
been troubled by a low-level separatist insurgency since the 1960s.
Journalists need special permission to enter the area, and human rights
groups have accused the military of abuses. Many tribal people in the area
affected by the cholera outbreak believe they have fallen ill because
Indonesian soldiers have poisoned them, and they are suspicious of any
medical treatment. The living conditions of West Papuans can be primitive:
they rarely boil water and their wells can become cesspits. Papuans observe
traditional customs such as washing dead bodies and keeping them above
ground for days before burial. Diseases such as cholera can spread quickly.
“In our village we share a pit for a toilet,” says Sabar Ingiwaii from
Mimika. “And next to it is a pit for washing. We wash from the earth, like
our ancestors always did.” It’s not only disease contaminating the waters.
The Freeport mine in Timika is the world’s largest gold and copper mine and
has dumped an estimated 7bn tonnes of tailings and waste into surrounding
rivers.

It is surprising there had not been more damage in Tonga from the quake.
The critical point in earthquakes is buildings, so where there are not many
high rise buildings you don’t expect much damage or injuries. But 200
kilometres is very close for that type of magnitude and that kind of
shallow depth. She added a tsunami warning would be expected for such a
large earthquake. With a magnitude of nearly eight and very shallow, you
would send out a warning. Several earthquakes have been felt in Tonga
recently and an undersea volcano has been erupting off the coast of the
main island Tongatapu, although it was not considered to be a threat to
people in the area. The quake occurred near fault lines in the Pacific
“Ring of Fire” where continental plates in the earth’s crust collide and
earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. An undersea earthquake off
Sumatra, Indonesia, in December 2004 set off a tsunami that killed more
than 220,000 people around the Indian Ocean. In the South Pacific, at least
52 people were killed by a tsunami in the Solomon Islands in April 2007
after a 8.0 magnitude earthquake.

Plantations are not forests. All over the world, plantations destroy the
lands and livelihoods of local communities and Indigenous Peoples, as well
as biodiversity and water resources. They also store far less carbon than
natural forests. As they provide very little employment for rural people,
tree plantations are also a major cause of rural depopulation and a further
shifting agricultural frontier, thus causing the destruction of forests
elsewhere. By actively promoting monoculture tree plantations, they are
partly responsible for this global trend of replacing biologically diverse
forests with straight rows of usually non-native trees.

The United States was concerned that holding the reserve currency made it
impossible to run policy, while the rest of world was also unhappy with the
generally declining dollar. There is a moment that can be grasped for
change. Today the Americans complain that when the world wants to save, it
means a deficit. A shared (reserve) would reduce the possibility of global
imbalances. The panel had been looking at using something like an expanded
Special Drawing Right, originally created by the International Monetary
Fund in 1969 but now used mainly as an accounting unit within similar
organizations. The SDR and the old Ecu are essentially combinations of
currencies, weighted to a constituent’s economic clout, which can be valued
against other currencies and indeed against those inside the basket.

Less cocaine-laden airplanes are reaching Africa since Venezuela installed
radars covering the Atlantic coast and its southern border. Drug flights to
West African countries such as Guinea Bissau became more common in 2007 and
2008, as traffickers took advantage of weak air control systems in
Venezuela. The government has taken actions and the effectiveness of those
actions can be seen because cocaine trafficking from Venezuela to Africa
has dropped. Flights of Colombian-made drugs through OPEC nation Venezuela
on capacity lost when tension between Washington and President Hugo Chavez
led to the removal of three U.S-owned radars a few years ago. Venezuela,
which has thousands of miles of coastline and a rugged and porous border
with Colombia, the world’s top cocaine producer, ended cooperation with the
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2005 after accusing it of spying.

There were two main reasons why policymakers might consider such a move,
one being the current desire for a change from the dollar. The other
reason, was the success of the euro, which incorporated a number of
currencies but roughly speaking held on to the stability of the old German
deutschemark compared with, say, the Greek drachma. The dollar will give
way to the Chinese yuan as a global reserve currency within decades. A
shared reserve currency might negate this move, but he believed that China
would still like to take on the role.

A land dispute is believed to have sparked tribal violence that has left
three people dead and hundreds homeless in Papua New Guinea. Among the dead
is a disabled man who was burnt alive in a house near the town of Wau in
Morobe province. Several people were also treated for shotgun wounds after
hundreds of armed men from the Watut tribe raided villages inhabited by the
Biangai people on Friday. A long-running dispute over ownership of a parcel
of gold-bearing land is the cause of the violence. There’s about more than
50 houses have been burnt – even business, people lost business like stores
and coffee. Everything got burnt down. The national government has provided
money for temporary housing and to maintain a large police presence in the
area.

Several of the foreign nationals housed in Santa Ana said they believed
they should be let out on bond rather than incarcerated while fighting
their immigration cases, especially if they had no criminal records or had
already served their time. Victor Hidalgo, 36, finished a five-year
sentence in state prison on a drug charge before being transferred into
immigration custody. Hidalgo, who is from Nicaragua, said he and others
have jobs, families and homes here and are not a danger to society. “We’re
not national security risks,” he said. The jails that house detainees for
more than 72 hours — including in Santa Ana and Lancaster — are subject
to “stringent detention standards” and undergo inspection by a contracted
company. Other jails are inspected regularly by the immigration agency. The
federal contracts with local jails began about a decade ago but have
expanded over the last few years. The federal government operates some of
its own detention centers and contracts with private companies to run
others but relies heavily on the local jails. The cost varies from around
$80 to just over $100 per detainee per day, generally less expensive than
the cost of housing detainees at federal immigration facilities.

But here in the Pacific coastal region there are five large lagoons and two
lakes, and with the exception of Asososca lagoon, which provides the
capital with water, the rest are unprotected and exposed to pollution. 80
percent of the country’s water sources are polluted to some degree. That
includes the Xilo?°, Nejapa, Tiscapa, Venecia and Apoyo lagoons and the
large Managua and Cocibolca lakes. In 2006, the Latin American Water
Tribunal, found Nicaragua guilty of neglecting and deteriorating its water
resources, mainly for allowing the mining industry to pollute the San Juan
river, which runs out of lake Cocibolca and into the Caribbean sea. The
Ortega administration has plans to bolster the tourism potential of lake
Managua. Last year, the national port authority opened two ports on the
lake, and now offers scenic boat rides.

More than 50 prisoners have escaped from a Papua New Guinea jail after
wardens failed to show up for work and police were busy guarding a rugby
league match. Most of the 54 inmates are still at large after fleeing from
Bomana Correctional Institution near Port Moresby the day by making a hole
in a steel fence around their cell block. “We’ve got about 50 still on the
run,” the official said, adding four had been recaptured. The breakout was
not discovered for “some hours” because many wardens, who are involved in a
pay dispute, had not appeared for work at the prison, which houses some 600
to 700 inmates. The match had left officers unable to respond quickly. “We
were tied up at a security operation at the rugby league ground, and could
not do much,” Yakasa said. The prison official was unable to say what
offences the escapees had been charged with, but said that 22 had been
convicted.

Coastal villages in Alaska (USA) are reeling from the erosion caused by
unprecedented warming trends due to climate change. One of the most
impacted areas is Shishmaref, a traditional Inupiat village in the Bering
Straits with a population of just over 600 people. The village is located
on Sarichef Island, a barrier island in the Chukchi Sea. In the past, sea
ice would form in the fall, creating a blockade of ice along the shore
which acted as a protective barrier against sea storms. This protective sea
ice, which used to be in place by October or November, no longer forms
solidly. Its absence allows powerful waves to undercut the banks that are
already weakened by an increased melting of permafrost. The later freezing
of the sea ice is an indication of warmer temperatures in the ocean. Local
people say that the Chukchi Sea doesn’t freeze right or fast anymore… We
go out a couple of miles, and you have this creamy and dark-looking ice,
which is very thin and unstable.

In the medium term, the Construction Ministry foresees the creation of a
coastal road, which would link the country’s Pacific coastal departments
(provinces) and serve as a scenic drive along the shores of Lake Managua.
With development aid from Spain, the La Chureca municipal garbage dump will
be converted into a plant for the treatment and recycling of the solid
waste that has gone into the dump along the edge of the lake for over 30
years. In 2007, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources
launched a national reforestation campaign that includes the rivers and
basins around the lake‚ a measure that is essential to improving the
ability of the lake’s water sources to capture water. The treatment plant
has begun to operate, it hopes to eliminate 170 swamps that form every year
in areas around the lake and that are a source not only of bad odours but
of illnesses like malaria and dengue fever, and of flies, which increase
the incidence of diarrhea among children. The project to clean up lake
Managua is one step more towards compliance with the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs). Nicaragua will have to provide clean water and sanitation to
at least 2.5 million of its 5.8 million people by 2015, to meet the
drinking water target, one of the eight MDGs adopted by the international
community in 2000. The MDGs include a 50 percent reduction in poverty and
hunger; universal primary education; reduction of child mortality by
two-thirds; cutbacks in maternal mortality by three-quarters; the promotion
of gender equality; ensuring environmental sustainability; the reversal of
the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; and a global
partnership for development between the rich and poor.

U.S. accuses high level former officials in the Chavez government as being
involved in drug trafficking with Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. Venezuela
bought 10 radars from China and installed six of them last year. It is also
buying Chinese K-8 light attack planes to be used to pursue flights. They
replace a purchase of Brazilian Super Tucanos blocked by a U.S. arms
embargo. The United States says Venezuela let 300 tonnes of cocaine through
the country in 2008. Chavez blames the multi-billion dollar industry on
U.S. consumption. If you do the math, you can’t say 200 tonnes, or 100 or
500 are coming through here, pointing to a U.S. inter-agency report that
says less than 10 percent of Colombian cocaine headed north leaves via
Venezuela. A 4-year plan is to fight consumption, increase penalties for
traffickers to a maximum 30 years in jail and allow the shooting down of
suspected drugs flights. Tensions have flared between Venezuela and
Colombia over a deal which gives U.S. soldiers access to more Colombian
military bases to fight traffickers and rebels.

Hauke Tekiman has lived most of his life in the area where communities are
nourished by fish from the Ajkwa river: “We were never told not to fish
from the river, we never knew that it is poison. And even when we know, we
have to eat fish from the river just to survive. But now some fish are
dying off and people are starting to get sick, too.” The health situation
is a prime example of how Special Autonomy status, which was granted to
Papua by Jakarta in 2001 and is supposed to deliver improvements in basic
living standards for Papuans, hasn’t been properly implemented. Major
development goes on, with massive road projects, oil palm expansion, BP’s
Tangguh Gas project, and the Freeport operations. Indonesian security
forces are massing in Papua. The role of the military, and Indonesia’s
transmigration policies, which has caused an increased Javanisation of
Papua, has been linked to the rising rate in sexually transmitted disease
in the region. HIV/AIDS is threatening the survival of the indigenous
people. Papua’s Provincial Legislative Council has said it wants
preventative measures taken to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, although it
recently shelved a plan requiring AIDS patients deemed to have shown
“aggressively sexual behaviour” to be implanted with microchips so they
could be monitored. Villagers have given pseudonyms as they say they fear
persecution.

Pretoria police shot and killed a panga-wielding man who attacked several
homeowners in Rooiwal. Police could not explain why the elderly man went on
the rampage. The attacks ended when police opened fire on the man when he
refused to surrender and started throwing stones at officers trying to
disarm him. The suspect was shot and killed when he refused to surrender. A
inquest docket had been opened. Why did the police kill the man instead of
just injuring him so that they could arrest him?

Situations around the world mean that large numbers of displaced persons
are looking for settlement in wealthy, developed nations like Australia and
can be targeted by, and fall prey to, people-smugglers. The Australian
government remains vigilant and committed to protecting Australia’s
borders. Canberra would work closely with neighbouring nations to tackle
people-smuggling. The government has blamed the recent rise in asylum
seekers on the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, along with
the global economic downturn. Australia’s opposition has linked the upsurge
with a relaxation of the country’s immigration policy. The government
scrapped the widely-criticised policy, under which asylum-seekers and their
children were detained for years in special centres in Nauru or Papua New
Guinea, a plan labelled the “Pacific Solution”. Asylum-seekers now arriving
by boat are held on Christmas Island, but their claims must be expedited,
with six-monthly case reviews by an ombudsman now government policy.

40 percent of all the Colombian cocaine that travels to Europe passed
through Venezuela in 2007, but overall traffic has fallen since then
because of a sharp output drop in Colombia. A shift in Colombian coca leaf
production from close to the border to the Pacific coast had also reduced
the amount of traffic through Venezuela. There was a substantive decrease
in the number of shipments passing through Africa headed for Europe last
year. New radars are tracking parts of eastern Venezuela, where planes
including private jets cross to the Atlantic or Caribbean to West Africa,
as well as a southern region close to Colombia and favored by cartels to
land light aircraft. The Chinese equipment cost $260 million and also
replaces two U.S.-made Venezuelan radars that fell into disrepair because
of Washington’s arms embargo against the Chavez government. The embargo
includes spare parts. Washington took its radars away after a short-lived
2002 coup against Chavez that worsened ties. Venezuela cooperated with all
countries except the United States on combating drug trafficking and does
not rule out signing a new deal with Washington. You can’t work with a
colleague who criticizes you every day. The president governs foreign
relations, he decides. Despite the rhetoric, the two countries often
collaborate on interdicting drugs in international waters and Venezuela
extradites captured traffickers wanted in the United States.

During a massive storm in 1973, nine metres of land was lost. In 1974, the
village experienced a storm of major proportions and high water partially
flooded the airport, prompting declaration of a national disaster. In 1997,
a severe storm eroded some 45 metres of the north shore, forcing the
relocation of fourteen homes. Five additional homes were relocated in 2002.
The teacher housing is in a precarious location near the bluff. The fear
that the next storm will leave them homeless, convinced long time and
well-liked teachers to leave Shishmaref. This has been a huge loss to the
community. The sewage lagoon, roads, water supply, laundromat, community
store, and fuel tanks are at risk of damage or loss. The main road to the
airport and landfill has been eroded in several places and the road is now
dangerously close to the sea. Yearly storms continue to erode the shoreline
at an average rate of retreat of 1 to 1.5 metres per year. Almost $23
million has been spent to construct seawalls that will provide only
temporary protection to what is left of Shishmaref.

A former United States deputy sheriff, featured on the popular television
series America’s Most Wanted, has been captured in Belize and is to be
extradited to face trial for murdering his wife and another man a year ago.
Derrick Yancey was caught over the weekend in a bar in Punta Gorda, the
largest town in southern Belize, just days after the US  Department of
State’s Diplomatic Security Service acted on a lead that he was hiding out
in that Caribbean country. Deputy Officer in Charge at the Punta Gorda
Police Station, Inspector Andres Makin, said Yancey was taken into custody
without incident. “We had his photograph in our possession and upon
identifying ourselves, he just handed over himself. There was no resistance
in his arrest,” he said, adding that Yancey was taken to the station in the
area before being transported to Belize City. “I believe that relevant
arrangement is being made for him to transported back to the United States.
He is in custody and a flight away from being taken back to the United
States.” Yancey was an officer with the Sheriff’s Office in Dekalb County,
Georgia when he was charged with murdering his wife Linda Yancey, 44, and
20-year-old labourer Marcial Cax Puluc. He had called into his own
department to report that he had shot and killed Puluc in self defence
after discovering that the young man had robbed, shot and killed his wife.
But police say ballistic tests show Yancey was responsible for both
murders. He was charged with two counts of murder, and released on
US$150,000 bond while he awaited trial, under the condition that he be
confined to house arrest. But Yancey escaped house arrest from his mother’s
home on the morning of April 4th, 2009. Police say he cut off his
electronic monitoring ankle bracelet before fleeing

The United States has charged Bolivia and Venezuela with failing to do
enough to fight the drug trade, but said it would continue aid to the two
countries, both led by critics of U.S. foreign policy. The United States
said Bolivia — the world’s third-largest cocaine producer — Venezuela and
Myanmar had all “failed demonstrably” to meet their counter-narcotics
obligations. The same three countries last year were cited on the list,
which allows the president to cut off U.S. aid other than counter-narcotics
and humanitarian funds. The White House has once again issued a national
interest waiver to continue certain bilateral aid programs in the two South
American countries. In Venezuela, funds will continue to support civil
society programs and small community development programs. In Bolivia, the
waiver will permit continued support for agricultural development, exchange
programs, small enterprise development, and police training programs.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s President Evo Morales are
persistent critics of U.S. foreign policy in the region, and particularly a
plan by U.S. ally Colombia to give U.S. troops more access to its military
bases for joint operations against drug traffickers and leftist rebels. It
did not give any similar detail for Myanmar. Washington is concerned by
Venezuela’s growing number of arms purchases, saying they could spark a
regional arms race. Along with the three countries identified as the worst
offenders, the U.S. list named 17 others as major production or transit
centers for illegal drugs: Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, the
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos,
Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru.

Residents voted to relocate the community. However, numerous problems have
slowed this process, including reluctance of the state and federal
governments to give monetary support for vital infrastructure or to take
the lead in the relocation project. The community learned that the site
chosen for relocation was not suitable due to permafrost issues. So efforts
had to begin anew. The place they now think would be the most suitable is
near Ear Mountain close to the village of Wales. It is possible that a
sustainable community can be created there utilizing geothermal potential
and wind power for energy. However, some people say they will never leave
Sarichef Island. But how will they fare, as no services will be available
once everyone relocates?

Scientists have discovered new species of fanged frog, grunting fish and a
giant rat, probably the biggest in the world, in a remote volcanic crater
in Papua New Guinea islands. Researchers have found more than 40 previously
unidentified species in the kilometre-deep crater of Mount Bosavi, lying
untouched since 200,000 years. The biologists discovered in the the
three-kilometre wide crater 16 frogs which have never before been recorded
by science, at least three new fish, a new bat and a giant rat. Other
predators included giant monitor lizards and kangaroos which have evolved
to live in trees. New species discovered include a camouflaged gecko, a
fanged frog and a fish called the Henamo grunter, named because it makes
grunting noises from its swim bladder.

More than 5,000 miles away from the Tri-Cities is a small village in Kenya,
where young girls are facing genital mutilation and forced marriage. Women
they cannot work, or women cannot do anything without asking a man, and
those are the things we would like to empower women, also to give them the
freedom to do things that they need to do. “Voices of Hope” shows Americans
how they can provide help for the young girls. The organization helps send
the young girls to school in a safe location, far from their village where
they would’ve had to go through the gruesome right of passage. Many of the
girls who have their genitals mutilated suffer from sever bleeding, HIV
from shared knives and even death. We don’t want to change the whole
culture, we just want to remove things that are really not important for
women to go through.

Thailand has seen an upswing in violence in its troubled south, where an
insurgency has resulted in close to 4,000 deaths. The attacks seemed to be
slowing down until a massacre at a mosque renewed tensions between ethnic
Thai Buddhists and Malay Muslims. Soldiers in an armored vehicle are
driving up to a military checkpoint on a road lined with barbed wire and
sandbags. They are all on guard, armed with M16 assault rifles and wearing
body armor and helmets. There are an estimated 60,000 security personnel in
southern Thailand’s Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani provinces. They are
struggling to put down daily violence from an insurgency. The ethnic Malay
rebels are seeking some form of independence from the Thai kingdom. A
spokesman for the Thai military’s Internal Security Operations Command,
says the insurgents and their objectives are still a mystery. “What they
want… there are many problems behind the violence – drugs, smuggling,
influential people – the problem of unrest is another one.” A century ago,
this majority ethnic Malay Muslim region was an independent sultanate until
Thailand seized it. The insurgents active in southern Thailand have never
said who they are and what they want. However, they usually kill people
viewed as symbols of the Thai Buddhist state or their collaborators.
Buddhist farmers, teachers, and monks collecting their daily alms require
constant security or they risk being shot and beheaded. Phra Palat Manat, a
Buddhist monk who has lived in Pattani his whole life, says the Buddhist
and Muslim communities used to have friendly relations. But he says when
the violence broke out they became suspicious of each other. “In the past
we depended on each other, helped each other. When Muslims had a wedding
they would invite Buddhists to attend,” he said. “But after the violence,
the visits were few and far between. Sometimes we would attend, but there
was always fear when we went out.”

2/9/2009

FLOODED POPPIES MINIMIZE SECURITY DROUGHT CRISIS

The Solomon Islands declared a national disaster after torrential rain and
flooding in the South Pacific nation killed eight people and left another
13 missing, destroying homes and bridges.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
is reporting that populations in large areas of Kenya and the Horn of
Africa are now facing an exceptional humanitarian crisis that requires
urgent food assistance. The combined effect of high worldwide food prices
and a crippling drought are seriously jeopardizing the lives, livelihoods,
and dignity of up to 20 million people in rural and urban communities.

Opium poppy cultivation inched up by 3 percent last year in Myanmar,
according to a United Nations report, the second consecutive annual
increase that appears to signal a reversal of years of declining opium
production in the so-called Golden Triangle.

Indonesian security forces attacked a group of one hundred tribal people
who were peacefully protesting about delays to local elections in Nabire,
West Papua.

“Containment of the problem is under threat. Opium prices are rising in
this region. It’s going to be an incentive for farmers to plant more.”

Twelve communities on the Solomons’ main island of Guadalcanal had been
assessed as disaster-hit and appealed for international assistance.
Australia and France have already promised emergency aid.

Papua New Guinea’s law and order problem is set to get worse if a
recommendation to increase the national minimum wage is approved by the
government.

The Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and
Myanmar meet, once produced two-thirds of the world’s opium, most of it
refined into heroin. But pressure by the Chinese government to eradicate
opium in Myanmar helped lead to steep declines, with a low point of 21,500
hectares, or 53,000 acres, of poppies planted in Myanmar in 2006. Since
then, opium cultivation has bounced back by around 33 percent, to 28,500
hectares last year.

For the past 17 years Papua New Guinea’s lowest income earners, like
security guards, have brought home just $US13 a week. Government plans to
increase that to $US43 has business owners worried.

When police began attacking the crowd, the demonstrators called for Mr
Yones Douw, a respected human rights worker, to document the violence. When
Mr Douw arrived, the police attacked him – witnesses said he was kicked,
beaten on the side the head and punched in the face before being arrested,
along with seven protesters. The police also beat other protestors, and
fired rubber bullets into the crowd. Five people were seriously wounded,
and many others received minor bullet wounds.

Since December, flooding has also hit the Pacific island nations of Fiji,
Papua New Guinea, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, with tens of
thousands of islanders abandoning homes.

UN officials warn that the global economic crisis may fuel an increase in
poppy production because falling prices for other crops may persuade
farmers to switch to opium. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said corn
prices had fallen by half over the past year. The price of opium, by
contrast, has increased 26 percent in Laos and 15 percent in Myanmar over
the same period.

Heavy rain and flooding on Guadalcanal and nearby Savo Island has caused
widespread damage and forced the evacuation of more than 70 villagers to
the capital Honiara.

The PNG Manufacturers Council said the economy cannot accommodate a higher
salary. “It’s not the fact that the private sector doesn’t want to pay, its
whether the economy can accommodate that high level of salary.”

“In Kenya 80 percent of the territory is affected, with the northern and
lower eastern Kenya the most affected. We’re talking of a target population
of 1.6 million for the Red Crescent.”

Farmers in the isolated highlands of the Golden Triangle are also hampered
by bad roads and difficulties getting their crops to market. They often
find that small parcels of opium are easier to carry across the rough
terrain.

The Solomon Islands Red Cross had sent emergency staff and volunteers to
distribute relief supplies to communities in West Guadalcanal and Longu, in
the island’s east. The Solomon Islands is a nation of about 500,000 mainly
Melanesian people, spread across hundreds of islands, which gained
independence from Britain in 1978.

The global economic crisis is only just starting to short-change Papua New
Guinea, with the wage set to further undermine the local economy. “We
become less competitive, our prices go up and we don’t sell any goods.” It
could lead to thousands of workers being laid off, adding to the country’s
already high unemployment and crime rates.

Other areas are Djibouti with 50 thousand people in dire need. Ethiopia is
affected with an estimated 5 million need of food. The Red Cross is moving
in to start assisting the first 150 thousand people. The Red Cross and the
Red Crescent are also active in southern Somalia, as well as Somaliland and
Puntland.

Although opium is still grown in parts of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, UN
officials say that about 94 percent of the region’s opium comes from
Myanmar. Most of the Golden Triangle heroin is sold within the region, but
small amounts also reach the United States and Australia. Recent seizures
of heroin thought to come from the Golden Triangle have been made on the
Thai resort island of Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Yangon, Myanmar’s
commercial capital.

“The key issue for PNG is more people working and that basically improves
the lifestyle of people and that without a doubt helps law and order
because when people can put food on the table there is harmony, you take
that opportunity away and you have unrest. Or, employers could head to the
labour black market, choosing instead to pay workers their current wage
under the table.”

Eyewitnesses say that a range of security forces were involved in the
attack, including Brimob, Indonesia’s notorious para-military police, plus
soldiers and Indonesia’s Intelligence Service.

The alarming spread of HIV by heroin users in southern China several years
ago persuaded the Chinese authorities to crack down on opium and heroin
trafficking. Western intelligence officials say Chinese spies are active in
anti-narcotics operations in Myanmar, especially in northern areas where
central government control is weak. “There’s strong collaboration with
Chinese intelligence.”

Last month 11 Fijians died and more than 9,000 people were forced into
evacuation centres after the worst floods in decades. Sugar is Fiji’s
second major industry following tourism and sugar farms in the west have
been devastated by the flooding, with damages estimated to be in the tens
of millions of dollars.

The UN report on opium poppy cultivation is based on surveys taken from
helicopters and on the ground. The United States relies more heavily on
satellite images to calculate opium cultivation, and its reports are
sometimes at odds with those of the United Nations. The UN report did not
cover methamphetamine production and distribution, which among some
criminal syndicates has displaced opium and heroin in the region.

“We have launched an appeal seeking 95 million dollars, now we have
received only 6 percent in the two months since we launched and this is not
enough to run an operation.”

In Thailand, methamphetamines remain a problem but longstanding efforts by
the royal family to substitute opium production with vegetables, coffee and
macadamia nuts have virtually wiped out opium production among the northern
hill tribes.

Floods ravaging northern Australia have washed crocodiles onto the streets,
where one was hit by a car. More than 60 per cent of the vast northeastern
state of Queensland has been declared a disaster area, and flooding after
two recent cyclones has affected almost 3,000 homes. The army has been
called in to help with rescue and recovery efforts, while three reports of
large crocodiles washed up from flooded rivers have come in from homes in
the Gulf of Carpentaria region.

The incident fuels concerns that repression and violence against the Papuan
people is increasing.

“Many employers are doing the right thing, but there are many unscrupulous
employers who will exploit their workers to gain maximum profit out of the
cheap labour.”

Afghanistan remains the world’s premier source of opium, producing more
than 90 percent of global supply. Afghan soil is also remarkably more
fertile than the rocky, unirrigated opium fields in the Golden Triangle.
The UN estimates in its 2008 report that one hectare of land yielded an
average of 14.4 kilograms, or 31.7 pounds, of opium in Myanmar but 48.8
kilograms in Afghanistan.

“The damage bill is estimated at $76 million and growing. But we won’t
really know the full extent of the damage until the water subsides, so that
figure could double, it could treble.” It was the worst flooding seen in 30
years. Fresh food supplies were flown into the westerly townships of
Normanton and Karumba, which had been cut off by flood waters. The flooding
comes amid a heatwave over in south-eastern Australia.

The situation has been exacerbated by the global and financial crisis.
However a small fraction of the billions of dollars being spent by
governments to bail out banks and financial institutions could help save
millions of lives in the Horn of Africa.

The death toll in Australia’s worst-ever bushfires has risen to 128 people,
as hundreds more flood community shelters after losing everything they own.
The state government in Victoria, where the fires have raged since
Saturday, is being advised to prepare for 230 fatalities. Police confirmed
128 deaths from the fires, many which officials suspect were deliberately
lit.

1/30/2009

CLINICAL SLUMDOG KWASO GOLD TRIALS

Lihir Gold has reported a 26% rise in annual gold production to 882,000
ounces and forecast output this year would exceed 1 million ounces as new
mines in Africa and Australia are fully developed.

Armed police guarded cinemas in eastern India after slum dwellers ransacked
a picture house showing Slumdog Millionaire because they didn’t like the
use of the word “dog” in the title.

Seven officers were hurt in an attack and the blame is being attributed to
the illegal home-brew alcohol known as kwaso.

Expectations for a higher gold yield come despite a landowner wrangle over
royalties at the company’s main mine in Papua New Guinea that brought it to
a standstill.

Several hundred people rampaged through the cinema in Patna, capital of the
eastern state of Bihar and tore down posters advertising the film. They
said the title was humiliating and vowed to continue their protests until
it was changed.

Around 1500 litres of the brew was seized but that is considered to be only
a tiny drop in a very big ocean.

Lihir chief executive Arthur Hood said he was hoping for a quick resolution
that would enable the mine to restart but conceded he did not know how long
it would take. “I’d like to think we could get back to work in the next day
or so, but I’ve worked in Papua New Guinea a long time and these things are
always a little bit unpredictable,” he told reporters.

The protest was organised by Tateshwar Vishwakarma, a social activist who
filed a lawsuit over the title against four Indians involved in its
production – a lead actor, the music director and two others.

The explosion of the illegal trade, which results in potentially volatile
situations, is not easy for the police trying to contain it.

The dispute involves local islanders in the province of New Ireland, about
700 kilometres north-east of the capital Port Moresby, who want a bigger
share of the mine’s revenues.

Mr Hood said the company was already paying a 2% royalty to islanders on
all gold produced at the mine as well as awarding supply contracts worth
millions of dollars to local firms.

“Referring to people living in slums as dogs is a violation of human
rights,” said Mr Vishwakarma, who works for a group promoting the rights of
slum dwellers. We will burn Danny Boyle [the film’s British director]
effigies in 56 slums here.”

“The police can only do so much. We have a licensing squad of about 12
members and the community, chiefs and religious people have to get stuck in
too,” says Peter Marshall, Solomons Acting Police Commissioner.

“Last year we were looking at about $US130 million ($195 million) worth of
our supply contracts going to Lihirians,” he said.

The case will be heard in a Patna court, according to police. Kishori Das,
another activist, said: “We are in touch with like-minded organisations
across India to take the issue on a large scale.”

Prime Minister John Key visited Honiara to assess New Zealand’s role in the
regional assistance mission and he says it will be some time before NZ
assistance in the islands can be pulled out. “At least three to five years
and it could in all probability be longer than that,” Key says.

The overall increase in the company’s gold production was boosted by a
record yield of 315,000 ounces in the fourth quarter, Mr Hood said. It cost
on average $US400 to mine each ounce in 2008 but only $US353 per ounce for
the fourth quarter, he said. “This is exactly where we want to be,” he
said.

Social, political and religious activists in India often organise violent
protests over films to try to win publicity for their cause. In 1996, Fire,
a film about lesbianism, enraged Hindu fundamentalists who burnt down
several cinemas. In 2000, production of Water, a film about Hindu
widowhood, was moved from India to Sri Lanka after violence by Hindu
nationalists.

An organised gang member who agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity
says the gangs sell 60-70 litres of kwaso a day. The sellers, mostly in
village based gangs, take a quarter of the takings.

Gold currently sells for around $US900 an ounce. The Lihir mine produced
247,000 ounces in the last quarter, taking full year production to 771,000
ounces.

Slumdog Millionaire, which recently opened in India has been generally well
received, especially since it won four Golden Globes and 10 Oscar
nominations – including one for AR Rahman, the veteran composer.

Police believe the potent home-brew is fuelling violence and crime.

In the fourth quarter some 22% of the company’s gold was derived from
newly-developed mines in Australia and Ivory Coast, reflecting efforts to
geographically diversify operations, according to Mr Hood.

However, some reviewers, commentators and film industry insiders have
criticised it as “poverty porn” which glamourises the squalor of slums and
perpetuates Western stereotypes of India.

A carton of beer costs around 165 Solomon dollars but for the same effect
you can buy a bottle of kwaso for just $10. A small joint of marijuana
costs 50 cents (NZ$).

There had been no violence against employees or vandalism at the Lihir mine
site stemming from the dispute, he said.

About 40 Mumbai slum dwellers, organised by another social activist, held
up banners reading “Poverty for Sale” and “I am not a dog” outside the home
of Anil Kapoor, one of the film’s stars.

Many sellers say they do so for survival as the Solomon Islands are filled
with a lot of young unemployed people.

Lihir’s shares were up 4% at $3.15 in early afternoon trade, outpacing a
gain of 1% in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index. Analysts expect Lihir to
report 2008 net profit of $US135 million, against a $US24 million loss in
2007.

Amitabh Bachchan, the veteran Bollywood star, also caused a stir when he
accused the film in his blog of portraying India as a “third-world, dirty,
underbelly developing nation”. Mr Bachchan has since apologised to Mr
Boyle, but was conspicuously absent from the film’s star-studded premiere
in Mumbai.

“Money is very hard to come by and the making of kwaso is an easy way of
making money,” says Marshall

After selling $1.2 billion in shares in 2007 to close out an unprofitable
gold hedge book, Mr Hood said the company was now benefiting from exposure
to rising prices of gold, one of the few commodities not ravaged by the
financial crisis.

Mr Kapoor, who grew up in a Mumbai slum, has denied that “slumdog” is
offensive, saying that children from the slums are called many worse things
in India. Simon Beaufoy, the screenwriter, said last week: “I just made up
the word. I liked the idea. I didn’t mean to offend anyone.” Two hours
after opening, the pediatric waiting room at All India Institute of Medical
Sciences is like the anteroom to hell. Families, anxious, restless, sweaty
in the soupy air, cram into plastic chairs, crouch in corners, crowd
doorways, clog up aisles. Cries jangle off the ceiling. Feces litter the
floor. Signs in the corridor attempt to impose order on the chaos:

Don’t spit.

Don’t feed the monkeys.

Don’t pay bribes.

“I think gold will remain very strong,” he said, adding that a weak US
dollar and the requirements for a flight to quality were keeping the yellow
metal from falling.

This overstretched government hospital and medical college treats about
4-million people a year. It’s also one of a growing number of Indian
hospitals that use their patients to gather data on experimental drugs
destined for Western markets. It recently was revealed that 49 children
have died during clinical trials at the institute.

11/9/2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proof of Missing Iceberg?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/16/2008

Eat the Rich

People should start getting together in groups to work out collective responses
to the crisis, like making plans to share work and resources. Setting up food and
farming cooperatives and creating local networks for sourcing food is another possible
response. Organizing to push the government to support community production and work
sharing programs is another. The important point is to face the coming crash
collectively, not individually, which unfortunately is the way that capitalism has
socialized us to respond to crisis. The coming period, like the 1930’s, will probably
see a tremendous rise in mass organizing and the reemergence of progressive visions and
politics as a viable alternative to the system. People who have long been depoliticized
will start coming out of the woodwork. Crisis, as the Chinese say, is also opportunity.
•••

On World Food Day, UN urges rich donors to honour aid pledges.

Millions more are going hungry across the world as governments fail to deliver on promised aid, officials warned Thursday on World Food Day.

Only a tenth of the some 22 billion euros in assistance for food and agriculture pledged for 2008 has reached the UN food agency, its chief Jacques Diouf said Thursday.

“Despite enthusiastic speeches and financial commitments, we have received only a tiny part of what was pledged,” Diouf said as he marked World Food Day at the Rome headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

His comments came as an expert warned that soaring food prices had pushed up the number of people in the world classed as hungry to 925 million, while more than 100 million had been driven into extreme poverty.

Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said in a statement in Geneva that the whole system of food production needed to be radically overhauled to ensure an equitable outcome.

“The violation on a daily basis of the right to food for hundreds of millions of people worldwide has its roots in an outdated and inadequate production system, rather than in the actual quantity of food available,” he said.

In Dublin former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said aid for the world’s hungry must not be hit by the global financial crisis which cannot be “an excuse for inaction” at a “critical juncture”.

“We must maintain our resolve. We can end hunger and poverty. Doing so is critical to Africa and to a healthy and resilient global food system,” he told a conference Thursday aimed at highlighting global hunger and advocating better ways to combat it.

To underline his point FAO figures revealed Thursday that about a million Burundian children under the age of five suffered chronic malnutrition, while in Ethiopia World Food Programme officials said that 84,000 children were suffering from malnutrition in famine-hit regions of Ethiopia.

Nearly seven billion euros (9.5 billion dollars) were pledged at an emergency summit on the world food crisis that Diouf hosted in June.

“Only 10 percent of the 22 billion euros announced (overall) was disbursed,” Diouf said, adding that most arriving funds were earmarked for food aid rather than urgently needed investment in agriculture.

Diouf reiterated his fear that the global financial crisis is taking attention away from the continuing food crisis, saying the “number of malnourished, instead of diminishing, grew by 75 million in 2007.”

The figure could grow further this year, he added.

“The structural solution to the problem of food security is to raise the productivity and output of the farming sector in low-income countries,” he said.

Diouf lamented that aid to agriculture slumped by more than half between 1984 and 2005, from eight billion dollars to 3.4 billion dollars, while agriculture’s share in development aid also fell, from 17 percent in 1980 to three percent in 2006.

Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who was honoured with the title of “patron” of FAO’s activities, echoed Diouf’s concern in a keynote speech, saying “falling stock markets have monopolised the world’s attention, turning it away from the poorest countries.”

Meanwhile Pope Benedict XVI blamed the persistence of world hunger on “the contemporary culture that favours only the race for material goods,” in a message to the FAO.

“The means and resources available to the world today can buy enough food to satisfy the growing needs of all,” he wrote, laying the blame on a lack of political will, “unbridled speculation” and corruption in some countries.
•••

Huge income gap grows

The gap between high and low wage earners has increased sharply in most countries,
according to a new United Nations report. It says the huge differences in pay were
counter-productive and damaging for most economies. The current global financial
crisis will widen the gap even further. The UN said top executives were earning
excessively more than average employees, with the chief executive officers of the
15 largest companies in the United States, for example, earning 520 times more than
the average worker in 2007. The huge income inequalities could be associated with
higher crime rates, lower life-expectancy, and in the case of poor countries
malnutrition and an increased likelihood of children being taken out of school to
work.

9/25/2008

Corruption Index 2008

Filed under: corporate-greed,government,wealth — admin @ 3:52 am

“Persistently high corruption in low-income countries amounts to an “ongoing humanitarian disaster”

“Against a backdrop of continued corporate scandal, wealthy countries backsliding too.”

With countries such as Somalia and Iraq among those showing the highest levels of perceived corruption, Transparency International’s (TI) 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), launched today, highlights the fatal link between poverty, failed institutions and graft. But other notable backsliders in the 2008 CPI indicate that the strength of oversight mechanisms is also at risk among the wealthiest.

“In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International. “The continuing high levels of corruption and poverty plaguing many of the world’s societies amount to an ongoing humanitarian disaster and cannot be tolerated. But even in more privileged countries, with enforcement disturbingly uneven, a tougher approach to tackling corruption is needed.”

The 2008 Results

The Transparency International CPI measures the perceived levels of public-sector corruption in a given country and is a composite index, drawing on different expert and business surveys. The 2008 CPI scores 180 countries (the same number as the 2007 CPI) on a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to ten (highly clean).

Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden share the highest score at 9.3, followed immediately by Singapore at 9.2. Bringing up the rear is Somalia at 1.0, slightly trailing Iraq and Myanmar at 1.3 and Haiti at 1.4.

While score changes in the Index are not rapid, statistically significant changes are evident in certain countries from the high to the low end of the CPI. Looking at source surveys included in both the 2007 and 2008 Index, significant declines can be seen in the scores of Bulgaria, Burundi, Maldives, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Similarly, statistically significant improvements over the last year can be identified in Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Tonga and Turkey.

Strengthening oversight and accountability

Whether in high or low-income countries, the challenge of reigning in corruption requires functioning societal and governmental institutions. Poorer countries are often plagued by corrupt judiciaries and ineffective parliamentary oversight. Wealthy countries, on the other hand, show evidence of insufficient regulation of the private sector, in terms of addressing overseas bribery by their countries, and weak oversight of financial institutions and transactions.

“Stemming corruption requires strong oversight through parliaments, law enforcement, independent media and a vibrant civil society,” said Labelle. “When these institutions are weak, corruption spirals out of control with horrendous consequences for ordinary people, and for justice and equality in societies more broadly.”

Global fight against poverty in the balance

In low-income countries, rampant corruption jeopardises the global fight against poverty, threatening to derail the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). According to TI’s 2008 Global Corruption Report, unchecked levels of corruption would add US $50 billion (€35 billion) – or nearly half of annual global aid outlays – to the cost of achieving the MDG on water and sanitation.

Not only does this call for a redoubling of efforts in low-income countries, where the welfare of significant portions of the population hangs in the balance, it also calls for a more focussed and coordinated approach by the global donor community to ensure development assistance is designed to strengthen institutions of governance and oversight in recipient countries, and that aid flows themselves are fortified against abuse and graft.

This is the message that TI will be sending to the member states of the UN General Assembly as they prepare to take stock on progress in reaching the MDGs on 25 September, and ahead of the UN conference on Financing for Development, in Doha, Qatar, where commitments on funding aid will be taken

Prof. Johann Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Passau, who carries out the Index for TI, underscored the disastrous effects of corruption and gains from fighting it, saying, “Evidence suggests that an improvement in the CPI by one point [on a 10-point scale] increases capital inflows by 0.5 per cent of a country’s gross domestic product and average incomes by as much as 4 per cent.”

Corporate bribery and double standards

The weakening performance of some wealthy exporting countries, with notable European decliners in the 2008 CPI, casts a further critical light on government commitment to reign in the questionable methods of their companies in acquiring and managing overseas business, in addition to domestic concerns about issues such as the role of money in politics. The continuing emergence of foreign bribery scandals indicates a broader failure by the world’s wealthiest countries to live up to the promise of mutual accountability in the fight against corruption.

“This sort of double standard is unacceptable and disregards international legal standards,” said Labelle. “Beyond its corrosive effects on the rule of law and public confidence, this lack of resolution undermines the credibility of the wealthiest nations in calling for greater action to fight corruption by low-income countries.” The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which criminalises overseas bribery by OECD-based companies, has been in effect since 1999, but application remains uneven.

Regulation, though, is just half the battle. Real change can only come from an internalised commitment by businesses of all sizes, and in developing as well as developed countries, to real improvement in anti-corruption practices.

Fighting corruption: A social compact

Across the globe, stronger institutions of oversight, firm legal frameworks and more vigilant regulation will ensure lower levels of corruption, allowing more meaningful participation for all people in their societies, stronger development outcomes and a better quality of life for marginalised communities.

9/18/2008

The Iraq War Will Cost $3 Trillion, and Much More

Filed under: corporate-greed,usa,wealth — admin @ 4:43 am

There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no such thing as a free war. The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can’t spend $3 trillion — yes, $3 trillion — on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.

Some people will scoff at that number, but we’ve done the math. Senior Bush administration aides certainly pooh-poohed worrisome estimates in the run-up to the war. Former White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey reckoned that the conflict would cost $100 billion to $200 billion; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld later called his estimate “baloney.” Administration officials insisted that the costs would be more like $50 billion to $60 billion. In April 2003, Andrew S. Natsios, the thoughtful head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said on “Nightline” that reconstructing Iraq would cost the American taxpayer just $1.7 billion. Ted Koppel, in disbelief, pressed Natsios on the question, but Natsios stuck to his guns. Others in the administration, such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, hoped that U.S. partners would chip in, as they had in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, or that Iraq’s oil would pay for the damages.

The end result of all this wishful thinking? As we approach the fifth anniversary of the invasion, Iraq is not only the second longest war in U.S. history (after Vietnam), it is also the second most costly — surpassed only by World War II.

Why doesn’t the public understand the staggering scale of our expenditures? In part because the administration talks only about the upfront costs, which are mostly handled by emergency appropriations. (Iraq funding is apparently still an emergency five years after the war began.) These costs, by our calculations, are now running at $12 billion a month — $16 billion if you include Afghanistan. By the time you add in the costs hidden in the defense budget, the money we’ll have to spend to help future veterans, and money to refurbish a military whose equipment and materiel have been greatly depleted, the total tab to the federal government will almost surely exceed $1.5 trillion.

But the costs to our society and economy are far greater. When a young soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, his or her family will receive a U.S. government check for just $500,000 (combining life insurance with a “death gratuity”) — far less than the typical amount paid by insurance companies for the death of a young person in a car accident. The stark “budgetary cost” of $500,000 is clearly only a fraction of the total cost society pays for the loss of life — and no one can ever really compensate the families. Moreover, disability pay seldom provides adequate compensation for wounded troops or their families. Indeed, in one out of five cases of seriously injured soldiers, someone in their family has to give up a job to take care of them.

But beyond this is the cost to the already sputtering U.S. economy. All told, the bill for the Iraq war is likely to top $3 trillion. And that’s a conservative estimate.

President Bush tried to sell the American people on the idea that we could have a war with little or no economic sacrifice. Even after the United States went to war, Bush and Congress cut taxes, especially on the rich — even though the United States already had a massive deficit. So the war had to be funded by more borrowing. By the end of the Bush administration, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus the cumulative interest on the increased borrowing used to fund them, will have added about $1 trillion to the national debt.

The long-term burden of paying for the conflicts will curtail the country’s ability to tackle other urgent problems, no matter who wins the presidency in November. Our vast and growing indebtedness inevitably makes it harder to afford new health-care plans, make large-scale repairs to crumbling roads and bridges, or build better-equipped schools. Already, the escalating cost of the wars has crowded out spending on virtually all other discretionary federal programs, including the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and federal aid to states and cities, all of which have been scaled back significantly since the invasion of Iraq.

To make matters worse, the U.S. economy is facing a recession. But our ability to implement a truly effective economic-stimulus package is crimped by expenditures of close to $200 billion on the two wars this year alone and by a skyrocketing national debt.

The United States is a rich and strong country, but even rich and strong countries squander trillions of dollars at their peril. Think what a difference $3 trillion could make for so many of the United States’ — or the world’s — problems. We could have had a Marshall Plan to help desperately poor countries, winning the hearts and maybe the minds of Muslim nations now gripped by anti-Americanism. In a world with millions of illiterate children, we could have achieved literacy for all — for less than the price of a month’s combat in Iraq. We worry about China’s growing influence in Africa, but the upfront cost of a month of fighting in Iraq would pay for more than doubling our annual current aid spending on Africa.

Closer to home, we could have funded countless schools to give children locked in the underclass a shot at decent lives. Or we could have tackled the massive problem of Social Security, which Bush began his second term hoping to address; for far, far less than the cost of the war, we could have ensured the solvency of Social Security for the next half a century or more.

Economists used to think that wars were good for the economy, a notion born out of memories of how the massive spending of World War II helped bring the United States and the world out of the Great Depression. But we now know far better ways to stimulate an economy — ways that quickly improve citizens’ well-being and lay the foundations for future growth. But money spent paying Nepalese workers in Iraq (or even Iraqi ones) doesn’t stimulate the U.S. economy the way that money spent at home would — and it certainly doesn’t provide the basis for long-term growth the way investments in research, education or infrastructure would.

Another worry: This war has been particularly hard on the economy because it led to a spike in oil prices. Before the 2003 invasion, oil cost less than $25 a barrel, and futures markets expected it to remain around there. (Yes, China and India were growing by leaps and bounds, but cheap supplies from the Middle East were expected to meet their demands.) The war changed that equation, and oil prices recently topped $100 per barrel.

While Washington has been spending well beyond its means, others have been saving — including the oil-rich countries that, like the oil companies, have been among the few winners of this war. No wonder, then, that China, Singapore and many Persian Gulf emirates have become lenders of last resort for troubled Wall Street banks, plowing in billions of dollars to shore up Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and other firms that burned their fingers on subprime mortgages. How long will it be before the huge sovereign wealth funds controlled by these countries begin buying up large shares of other U.S. assets?

The Bush team, then, is not merely handing over the war to the next administration; it is also bequeathing deep economic problems that have been seriously exacerbated by reckless war financing. The US faces an economic downturn that’s likely to be the worst in more than a quarter-century.

Until recently, many marveled at the way the United States could spend hundreds of billions of dollars on oil and blow through hundreds of billions more in Iraq with what seemed to be strikingly little short-run impact on the economy. But there’s no great mystery here. The economy’s weaknesses were concealed by the Federal Reserve, which pumped in liquidity, and by regulators that looked away as loans were handed out well beyond borrowers’ ability to repay them. Meanwhile, banks and credit-rating agencies pretended that financial alchemy could convert bad mortgages into AAA assets, and the Fed looked the other way as the U.S. household-savings rate plummeted to zero.

It’s a bleak picture. The total loss from this economic downturn — measured by the disparity between the economy’s actual output and its potential output — is likely to be the greatest since the Great Depression. That total, itself well in excess of $1 trillion, is not included in the estimated $3 trillion cost of the war.

Others will have to work out the geopolitics, but the economics here are clear. Ending the war, or at least moving rapidly to wind it down, would yield major economic dividends.

As we head toward November, opinion polls say that voters’ main worry is now the economy, not the war. But there’s no way to disentangle the two. The United States will be paying the price of Iraq for decades to come. The price tag will be all the greater because we tried to ignore the laws of economics — and the cost will grow the longer the U.S. remains.

8/6/2008

Raskol gangs rule world’s worst city

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands,png,police,wealth — admin @ 6:05 am

High levels of rape, robbery and murder help keep Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, at the wrong end of the hardship table.

In Lagos, expect chaos. There are gun battles in Bogotá. Crime has been a curse in Karachi. But there is nowhere on earth quite like this.

According to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the capital of Papua New Guinea has beaten all-comers – again – to take a title that no city on earth would covet.

With poverty, crime, poor healthcare and a rampant gang culture, Port Moresby consistently scores highest in the unit’s “hardship” table, meaning it is regarded as the worst place to live among 130 world capitals. Baghdad is not on the list.

According to the unit, most aspects of daily life in Moresby are problematic.

Little bigger than Plymouth, with a population of 250,000, it is a place where murder rates are exceptionally high, thanks mainly to the “raskol” gangs that control large areas of the city.

Tales of their exploits are legion; from bank robberies with M-16 machine guns, to car holdups by mobs armed with machetes.

Rape cases are even worse: in one widely reported incident last year, an injured nurse was dragged away from a car crash to be gang-raped.

Visitors to Port Moresby are advised not to go out after sunset, and to avoid walking the streets in most areas even during the day.

The houses of the wealthy squat behind walls tipped with razor-wire and gates watched by security guards.

The precautions are necessary because a survey of international crime by the Home Office shows that the murder rate there is three times that of Moscow, and 23 times that of London.

The rates for robberies and rapes are just as dire.

But the raskols say much of the violence is meted out by the police, and that they are provoked into retaliation.

The base of Moresby’s Bomai gang can be found up a dark sidestreet in the suburb of Four Mile. At the entrance to their squatter settlement a man is on guard, armed with a walkie-talkie.

“The police we know are very dangerous. They come in to the settlement and raid the people’s food and property and beers,” says Koiva, one of the leaders of the gang.

He has a pattern of welts on his head where he says he was beaten by a police officer with a glass bottle to extract a confession.

Another gang member, Stephen, shows two dark scars on his legs which he says were caused when he was shot in police custody.

Most people living in Port Moresby show little sympathy for the Bomai, whose raids on businesses and residential compounds have made them infamous. “Bloody raskols. Shoot first and ask questions later, that’s what they [the police] should do,” says an Australian expatriate.

Often, that is precisely what happens.

“I think the government are happy every time the police shoot a young man but we have thousands more youths on the streets,” says Peter Gola, a former raskol working at City Mission, a charity that helps the city’s street children.

Most raskols argue that their crimes are driven by the crushing poverty of life.

“We never mean to kill people,” says Koiva. “We’re just trying to scare them and get what we want to get.”

Papua New Guinea has no welfare state, so in rural areas family and clan networks have kept people in food and lodging. That system has broken down in the capital, which sits in an arid part of the country where unemployment rates are estimated to be between 60- and 90%.

A kilo of rice here costs four kina – about 70p – and a tin of fish is three kina, but this is beyond the means of many families.

Most raskols say they get into crime when their parents send them out to make money. Pressured to generate an income, they turn to violence. An armed robbery can easily net more than 100,000 kina (£17,500).

“When that happens, we live like kings,” says Harris, another Bomai member. “If you’re lucky, you eat something good. Maybe chicken.”

But there is some hope for change. Twenty minutes’ drive from Moresby, City Mission’s New Life farm has offered an alternative to the violence for between 5,000 and 6,000 street children since it opened 11 years ago.

The regime is strict: smoking and drinking are forbidden and there is a strong religious flavour to the instruction.

But the founder, Larry George, says the structure and respect of their new lives can work wonders.

“Most of them aren’t bad kids,” says Mr George. “It’s mainly just poverty that’s driving the crime. People can read in the papers about the government stealing millions of kina and get really frustrated.”

Many of the children, he says, end up as security guards, exchanging fire with the raskols who were once their peers.

Global ranking

Best five

1= Melbourne, Australia

1= Vancouver, Canada

1= Vienna, Austria

4 Perth, Australia

5 Geneva, Switzerland

Worst five

126 Phnom Penh, Cambodia

127 Lagos, Nigeria

128 Dhaka, Bangladesh

129 Karachi, Pakistan

130 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

7/10/2008

World leaders enjoy 18-course banquet as they discuss how to solve global food crisis

Filed under: corporate-greed,General,government,human rights,wealth — admin @ 5:21 am

Just two days ago, Gordon Brown was urging us all to stop wasting food and combat rising prices and a global shortage of provisions.

But yesterday the Prime Minister and other world leaders sat down to an 18-course gastronomic extravaganza at a G8 summit in Japan, which is focusing on the food crisis.

The dinner, and a six-course lunch, at the summit of leading industrialised nations on the island of Hokkaido, included delicacies such as caviar, milkfed lamb, sea urchin and tuna, with champagne and wines flown in from Europe and the U.S.

But the extravagance of the menus drew disapproval from critics who thought it hypocritical to produce such a lavish meal when world food supplies are under threat.

On Sunday, Mr Brown called for prudence and thrift in our kitchens, after a Government report concluded that 4.1million tonnes of food was being wasted by householders.

He suggested we could save up to £8 a week by making our shopping go further. It was vital to reduce ‘unnecessary demand’ for food, he said.

Last night’s dinner menu was created by Katsuhiro Nakamura, the first Japanese chef to win a Michelin star. It was themed: Hokkaido, blessings of the earth and the sea.

But Dominic Nutt, of the charity Save the Children, did not approve.

‘It is deeply hypocritical that they should be lavishing course after course on world leaders when there is a food crisis and millions cannot afford a decent meal,’ he said.

‘If the G8 wants to betray the hopes of a generation of children, it is going the right way about it. The food crisis is an emergency and the G8 must treat it as that.’

In 2005, at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, world leaders promised to increase global aid by £25billion a year by 2010 and raise aid to Africa, the world’s poorest continent, by £12.5billion. But the bloc of rich nations is only 14 per cent of the way towards hitting its target.

Britain is meeting its commitments in full, but other countries are understood to be dragging their feet – and there are fears the figures on global aid could be watered down.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, who face pressure to cut spending at home, are understood to be leading the charge to weaken the Gleneagles proposal.

Tory international development spokesman Andrew Mitchell said: ‘The G8 have made a bad start to their summit, with excessive cost and lavish consumption.

‘Surely it is not unreasonable for each leader to give a guarantee that they will stand by their solemn pledges of three years ago at Gleneagles to help the world’s poor.

‘All of us are watching, waiting and listening.’

A World Bank study released last week estimated that up to 105million more people, including 30million in Africa, could drop below the poverty line because of rising food prices.

Yesterday the European Union agreed to channel £800million in unused European farm subsidies to African farmers, as part of its response to the global food crisis.

‘The EU really can give a boost to agriculture in developing countries,’ Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, told the meeting.

The money will be used to buy seed and fertiliser and fund agriculture projects in Africa.

The meal was served at the Windsor Hotel, on the shores of Lake Toya, where the presidential suite costs £7,000 a night.

Japan has spent a record sum of money and deployed about 20,000 police to seal off the remote lakeside town of Toyako for the three-day talks.

6/19/2008

Coin Shortage, Tooth Surplus for Solomon Islands

Filed under: General,global islands,solomon islands,wealth — admin @ 10:16 am

Yes, yet another nation is reporting a coinage shortage, this time it being the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific Ocean region. The difference between this shortage and shortages in other such places as India and China is that primitive money items traditionally used in barter may become a handy backup in the Solomons.

The Central Bank of Solomon Islands has called on citizens of the island nation to cash in their coins. Both the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio New Zealand International reported May 1 that Solomon Island businesses and local merchants were simply running out of coins to use in commerce.

Part of the problem, according to the ABC, is that “The low value of coins in Solomon Islands’ currency has led many there to either hoard them, or to give them as gifts to children.” RNZ added, “However, the number of people doing this is starting to affect businesses.”

Denton Rarawa is the acting governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands. He was recently quoted by both sources as saying, “When coins don’t come back into the system we have to continuously mint new coins,” adding, “The bank has now begun a public appeal asking Solomon Islanders to cash in their coins for [bank] notes.”

So, what do you do if you live or work in this South Pacific archipelago and run out of coins to use in commerce? According to an April 30 Wall Street Journal article by Yaroslav Trofimov, you do business the old fashion way. You use dolphin teeth.

Have any doubts about if dolphin teeth, wild dog teeth, tapa cloth, feathers of specific exotic and likely endangered species of birds, or any of a number of other things that were at one time used as what in numismatics is usually dubbed “odd and curious money?” Ask the International Primitive Money Society. To put in a shameless plug for the IPMS, the organization can be contacted at 2471 SW 37 St., Ocala, Fla. 34474 or through Charles Opitz at opitzc@aol.com. The IPMS meets at the annual American Numismatic Association convention. It will hold its next meeting in Baltimore Aug. 1 at 4 p.m. in Room 318. The IPMS publishes a newsletter twice a year containing original articles on primitive money and offers free ads to members.

Getting back to Trofimov’s Wall Street Journal article, the author states: “Over the past year one spinner tooth has soared in price to about two Solomon Islands dollars (26 U.S. cents), from as little as 50 Solomon Islands cents. The official currency, pegged to a global currency basket dominated by the U.S. dollar, has remained relatively stable in the period.”

Apparently dolphin teeth must be all the rage in the islands. Central Bank of the Solomon Islands Governor Rick Houenipwela is described in the article as an investor in dolphin teeth, purchasing what is described as a “huge amount” a few years ago.

Houenipwela is quoted in the article as saying, “Dolphin teeth are like gold. You keep them as a store of wealth – just as if you’d put money in a bank.” It doesn’t sound as if Houenipwela’s commodity position will encourage people to want to put Solomon Island coins back into circulation.

Houenipwela has had his chance to literally put his dolphin teeth into the bank. Some time ago he was approached by local Solomon Island businessmen who wanted to establish a bank in which dolphin teeth could be deposited. Houenipwela declined the request not because he didn’t think it was a good idea, but because only conventional currency can be deposited in banks under Solomon Islands law.

According to the Trofimov article, “Hundreds of animals are killed at a time in regular hunts, usually off the large island of Malaita. Dolphin flesh provides protein for the villagers. The teeth are used like cash to buy local produce. Fifty teeth will purchase a pig; a handful are enough for some yams and cassava.”

According to Trofimov, the ancient native tradition of purchasing the bride with dolphin teeth is alive and well, also encouraging the use of odd and primitive money over that of metal coins. The Wall Street Journal article identifies one individual as needing 5,000 teeth for an upcoming double wedding of his two sons. This individual ordered the teeth through someone at a hunting village in Malaita.

The natives aren’t particularly humane about how they harvest the dolphin teeth, according to Trofimov. The natives still use the traditional method of nearly suffocating the dolphin, then cutting off its head with a machete.

One individual who sells dolphin teeth was quoted in the Wall Street Journal article as saying, “The white man’s money will end, but the dolphin teeth will always be there for us.” It would appear the Central Bank of Solomon Islands may have a challenging time getting people to put metal coins rather than dolphin teeth back into circulation.

5/27/2008

Poverty Thrives Amid Unprecedented Prosperity

Filed under: corporate-greed,General,human rights,wealth — admin @ 2:25 am

Global poverty is thriving — rather ironically — amidst one of the most prosperous times in human history.
Kul Chandra Gautam, a former assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, points out that world economic output was never more prodigious: last year it hit the 60-trillion-dollar mark.

At this time of unprecedented global prosperity, in which someone becomes a new billionaire every second day, “We have the contrasting situation of nearly one billion people living on less than a dollar a day and 800 million going to bed hungry every night,” he added.

And according to the U.S.-based Forbes magazine, the number of billionaires worldwide reached 1,125 this year, a staggering increase from 179 in 2007.

They emerged not only from rich countries such as the United States, Germany and Japan but also from developing countries, such as Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Belize, China, India, Mexico and Venezuela.

Addressing the third forum of the Tokyo-based Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC), Gautam said it is because of poverty that nearly 10 million children die every year from causes that are readily preventable.

“It is poverty that keeps 93 million children out of primary schools, the majority of them girls, and it is poverty that lands millions of children in child labour, often in hazardous circumstances, when they should be going to school.”

The recent dramatic rise in food and petroleum prices is also bound to further impoverish the already poor, “and as usual, children are likely to be its main victims”, Gautam said.

The Arigatou Foundation of Japan, the organisers of the Hiroshima Forum, is convinced the time has come for the world’s religious institutions, and all those who profess religious faith, to come forward and join hands in this global fight to alleviate the suffering of children and promote their well-being.

Since its founding in May 2000, GNRC has emerged as an important global alliance of religious organisations and people of faith committed to interfaith dialogue and action aimed at improving the lives of children.

One of the themes of the Hiroshima Forum, currently underway, is “the ethical imperative to ensure that no child lives in poverty”.

The United Nations estimates that over 600 million children live in absolute poverty worldwide. The reduction of extreme poverty by 50 percent is one of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with a target date of 2015.

But Dr A.T. Ariyaratne, founder and president of the Sarvodaya Movement, one of the most successful grassroots movements in Sri Lanka, is sceptical about reaching that goal.

“Poverty and powerlessness go hand in hand — both at the political and economic level,” he said. In most developing countries, Ariyaratne said, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen by the day.

He dismissed as a “bunch of lies” some of the statistics doled out by national governments to bolster the argument that poverty is on the decline in their respective countries.

“I have met a number of political leaders — even at the cabinet level — who don’t even know what the Millennium Development Goals are,” Ariyaratne said.

The Venerable Kojun Handa, supreme priest of the Tendai Buddhist denomination, singled out the “deep economic disparities” in which children are deprived of their basic necessities, including adequate food and education.

“At the same time, if we turn our eyes to those regions of the world that are considered ‘advanced nations,’ including Japan, we see a ubiquitous emphasis on excessive material wealth.”

He said these rich nations believe in the ultimate superiority of their economies and the many negative facets of an internet-based society in which children are corrupted through the damage inflicted upon them.

Still, Gautam quoted his former boss and mentor, the late Jim Grant of UNICEF, who said there had been more progress for children in the last 50 years — during the second half of the 20th century — than perhaps in the previous 500 years.

In Asia alone, over a billion people have been lifted out of poverty in the past half century, of whom 400 million were from China.

India is rapidly following a similar trend. The Republic of Korea has seen its per capita income increase from 100 dollars to 17,000 dollars.

Late last year, UNICEF reported that for the first time since it started keeping records, the annual number of child deaths decreased to below 10 million. This accounted for a 60-percent reduction in the under-five mortality rate since 1960.

“This is a remarkable testimony to the continuing progress in child survival and success of many health interventions,” said Gautam.

Smallpox, which used to kill five million people a year in the 1950s, was eradicated during our lifetime. Polio, which used to cripple millions, is on the brink of eradication. Deaths due to measles, one of the biggest killers of children, declined by 90 percent in Africa in the last seven years, he noted.

“There are more children in school today than ever before, and gender disparity is rapidly declining at the primary school level,” he added.

“And thanks to the heightened sensitivity created by the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, issues such as child labour, trafficking and abuse of children, children in armed conflict and other violence against children are being systematically exposed, and action taken to address them.”

“And many non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-based and inter-faith groups like the GNRC, and civic leaders are championing the cause of children,” he said.

Overall, he said, children are much higher on the world’s political agenda. Increasingly, they figure prominently in election campaigns, parliamentary debates and national legislation.

The fantastic communications capacity in the world today makes it possible to bring the blessings of science and technology to the doorsteps of even the poorest people in the most remote corners of the world.

And child-oriented programmes are benefiting from this information and communications revolution.

But the bad news is that much of this progress has bypassed the bottom billion people in the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia, Gautam said.

Civil wars and conflict, and the pandemic of HIV/AIDS have exacerbated the fight against poverty by weakening the economies and social fabric of many countries, specifically in Africa.

“We all thought there would be an era of peace, and a huge peace dividend, following the end of the cold war. But regrettably, ethnic conflicts and tensions spread following the collapse of the Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia,” he added.

Poverty Thrives Amid Unprecedented Prosperity

Filed under: corporate-greed,General,human rights,wealth — admin @ 2:25 am

Global poverty is thriving — rather ironically — amidst one of the most prosperous times in human history.
Kul Chandra Gautam, a former assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, points out that world economic output was never more prodigious: last year it hit the 60-trillion-dollar mark.

At this time of unprecedented global prosperity, in which someone becomes a new billionaire every second day, “We have the contrasting situation of nearly one billion people living on less than a dollar a day and 800 million going to bed hungry every night,” he added.

And according to the U.S.-based Forbes magazine, the number of billionaires worldwide reached 1,125 this year, a staggering increase from 179 in 2007.

They emerged not only from rich countries such as the United States, Germany and Japan but also from developing countries, such as Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Belize, China, India, Mexico and Venezuela.

Addressing the third forum of the Tokyo-based Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC), Gautam said it is because of poverty that nearly 10 million children die every year from causes that are readily preventable.

“It is poverty that keeps 93 million children out of primary schools, the majority of them girls, and it is poverty that lands millions of children in child labour, often in hazardous circumstances, when they should be going to school.”

The recent dramatic rise in food and petroleum prices is also bound to further impoverish the already poor, “and as usual, children are likely to be its main victims”, Gautam said.

The Arigatou Foundation of Japan, the organisers of the Hiroshima Forum, is convinced the time has come for the world’s religious institutions, and all those who profess religious faith, to come forward and join hands in this global fight to alleviate the suffering of children and promote their well-being.

Since its founding in May 2000, GNRC has emerged as an important global alliance of religious organisations and people of faith committed to interfaith dialogue and action aimed at improving the lives of children.

One of the themes of the Hiroshima Forum, currently underway, is “the ethical imperative to ensure that no child lives in poverty”.

The United Nations estimates that over 600 million children live in absolute poverty worldwide. The reduction of extreme poverty by 50 percent is one of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with a target date of 2015.

But Dr A.T. Ariyaratne, founder and president of the Sarvodaya Movement, one of the most successful grassroots movements in Sri Lanka, is sceptical about reaching that goal.

“Poverty and powerlessness go hand in hand — both at the political and economic level,” he said. In most developing countries, Ariyaratne said, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen by the day.

He dismissed as a “bunch of lies” some of the statistics doled out by national governments to bolster the argument that poverty is on the decline in their respective countries.

“I have met a number of political leaders — even at the cabinet level — who don’t even know what the Millennium Development Goals are,” Ariyaratne said.

The Venerable Kojun Handa, supreme priest of the Tendai Buddhist denomination, singled out the “deep economic disparities” in which children are deprived of their basic necessities, including adequate food and education.

“At the same time, if we turn our eyes to those regions of the world that are considered ‘advanced nations,’ including Japan, we see a ubiquitous emphasis on excessive material wealth.”

He said these rich nations believe in the ultimate superiority of their economies and the many negative facets of an internet-based society in which children are corrupted through the damage inflicted upon them.

Still, Gautam quoted his former boss and mentor, the late Jim Grant of UNICEF, who said there had been more progress for children in the last 50 years — during the second half of the 20th century — than perhaps in the previous 500 years.

In Asia alone, over a billion people have been lifted out of poverty in the past half century, of whom 400 million were from China.

India is rapidly following a similar trend. The Republic of Korea has seen its per capita income increase from 100 dollars to 17,000 dollars.

Late last year, UNICEF reported that for the first time since it started keeping records, the annual number of child deaths decreased to below 10 million. This accounted for a 60-percent reduction in the under-five mortality rate since 1960.

“This is a remarkable testimony to the continuing progress in child survival and success of many health interventions,” said Gautam.

Smallpox, which used to kill five million people a year in the 1950s, was eradicated during our lifetime. Polio, which used to cripple millions, is on the brink of eradication. Deaths due to measles, one of the biggest killers of children, declined by 90 percent in Africa in the last seven years, he noted.

“There are more children in school today than ever before, and gender disparity is rapidly declining at the primary school level,” he added.

“And thanks to the heightened sensitivity created by the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, issues such as child labour, trafficking and abuse of children, children in armed conflict and other violence against children are being systematically exposed, and action taken to address them.”

“And many non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-based and inter-faith groups like the GNRC, and civic leaders are championing the cause of children,” he said.

Overall, he said, children are much higher on the world’s political agenda. Increasingly, they figure prominently in election campaigns, parliamentary debates and national legislation.

The fantastic communications capacity in the world today makes it possible to bring the blessings of science and technology to the doorsteps of even the poorest people in the most remote corners of the world.

And child-oriented programmes are benefiting from this information and communications revolution.

But the bad news is that much of this progress has bypassed the bottom billion people in the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia, Gautam said.

Civil wars and conflict, and the pandemic of HIV/AIDS have exacerbated the fight against poverty by weakening the economies and social fabric of many countries, specifically in Africa.

“We all thought there would be an era of peace, and a huge peace dividend, following the end of the cold war. But regrettably, ethnic conflicts and tensions spread following the collapse of the Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia,” he added.

5/9/2008

Global Poverty: More Big Business is Not the Solution

Filed under: corporate-greed,human rights,resource,wealth — admin @ 8:43 am

By most accounts, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is genuinely passionate about reducing global poverty.

But he is not willing to challenge the structures of the global economy that generate poverty, or the corporations that build, benefit from and maintain those structures.

Nor, apparently, is he immune to gimmicky notions of corporate leadership to support development, or the lure of high-profile summits to shed light on new plans to do — very little.

Thus, earlier this week the UK was treated to the spectacle of the Business Call to Action summit, which Brown’s office co-sponsored with the UN Development Program. More than 80 CEOs of large companies gathered with Brown and other luminaries to discuss how they could help meet the Millennium Development Goals, which aspire to reduce global poverty by half by 2015. Roughly two dozen of these CEOs — from Anglo American, Bechtel, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, De Beers, Diageo, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, GE, Merck, Microsoft, SAB Miller, Wal-Mart and others — have signed the Business Call to Action, which states, “as leaders from the private sector, we declare our commitment to meet this development emergency.”

The premise of the event, as Gordon Brown said, was to advance “a new approach — moving beyond minimum standards, beyond philanthropy and beyond traditional corporate social responsibility — important though they are — to develop long-term business initiatives that mobilize the resources and talents that are the central strengths of global business.”

The mantra of the event was for corporations to “explore new business opportunities that use their core business expertise” and that also help spur development.

Taken at its face value, this was, um, not exactly inspiring. Says Peter Hardstaff of the UK-based World Development Movement, the CEOs “have all agreed — to do more business.”

But the problem goes way beyond the fact that business as usual — or even a little bit of new business initiative with a development-conscious orientation — is not going to do much to reduce global poverty. The real problem is that business as usual is a central part the problem.

“Instead of holding these companies to account for their actions,” says John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, a UK-based anti-poverty group. “Gordon Brown has allowed them to portray themselves as allies in the fight against poverty. The prime minister should be working to address the poverty and human rights problems caused by business, not giving the companies a free ride.”

War on Want focused attention on the harmful development impacts of many of the corporations signing the Business Call to Action. The group has campaigned against mining giant Anglo American. It has documented how Anglo American has benefited from human rights abuses associated with civil wars in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Local mining communities in Ghana and Mali have seen little economic benefit from Anglo American’s operations (or the spike in the price of gold); instead, says War on Want, the company’s mines harm their environment, health and livelihoods.

Other corporate signatories to the Business Call to Action have directly hurt poor people through their “core business” more than can be offset by development-tinged ventures (even assuming such ventures succeed). Wal-Mart contracts with sweatshops. Bechtel tried to price-gouge and rip-off Bolivian consumers and the Bolivian state through control of the country’s privatized water system. Merck refuses to license life-saving medicines for cheap generic production.

Simultaneous with Brown’s business summit, Action Aid UK pointed to a major systemic abuse by multinational corporations that undermines development: They don’t pay their taxes. The group released a report looking at tax payments of 14 corporate signers of the Business Call to Action. It found that these companies combined are underpaying taxes by more than $6 billion a year, as compared to what they would pay if they paid at the statutory rate in the United States and UK. The group did not suggest any illegal activities by the companies — there are plenty enough legal tax avoidance strategies.

Money lost to developing countries through capital flight and tax avoidance is many times greater than aid flows into poor countries, says Jesse Griffith, the lead author of the Action Aid UK report.

Tax avoidance is a key issue because it strips money from national treasuries that would otherwise be available for social investment, and because it reflects structural problems that could and should be cured without any need for global philanthropy or aid.

But tax avoidance is only one of many ways that corporations exploit and perpetuate economic policies and institutional arrangements that contribute to poverty or inhibit authentic development.

The World Development Movement issued a 10-point challenge to corporations that claim an interest in promoting global development. It called on companies to stop using their political influence to promote policies that undermine development. It urged companies to: stop lobbying to open up developing country markets, and let developing countries “use the same trade policy tools industrialized countries used to get rich;” stop demanding rich country-style patent rules for the poor; support radical government action, starting in rich countries, to address climate change; support binding codes of conduct for multinationals, including respect for labor rights; end support for privatization and deregulation, including particularly financial deregulation; stop lobbying for and exploiting tax loopholes; and other measures.

This is not exactly an agenda that global business leaders are likely to take up soon.

On the other hand, it’s not exactly likely that global business leaders are going to lead the way to end global poverty.

Among other things, that’s going to take a global movement, led from the Global South, to implement the policies implicit in the World Development Movement call.

4/29/2008

Man charged over Pacific money laundering scheme

Filed under: global islands,intra-national,vanuatu,wealth — admin @ 5:52 am

A 58-year-old Australian man is due to be extradited to from Western Australia to the state of New South Wales after police broke up an international money laundering scheme.

The alleged scheme operated in Australia, Vanuatu and New Zealand and involved around $US87 million.

Robert Agius, who had been living in Vanuatu, has been charged with fraud and money laundering offences relating to the scheme, which was exposed by a police task force targeting tax evasion.

Australian federal police officer, Warren Gray, says around 400 people put money into a scheme, allegedly operated by Agius, in which millions of dollars was moved into offshore bank accounts to avoid tax

Agius was arrested on Monday in the western Australian city of Perth, and appeared briefly in court where he was ordered to be returned to Sydney to face trial.

He faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison if convicted.

4/24/2008

Mercy: false hope

Filed under: global islands,government,human rights,kenya,wealth — admin @ 9:31 am

Mercy: completely forgotten

Mercy, 25, is a Kamba from south-east Kenya. Her husband was “an excessive drunk” and violent, so she left to live alone with their two children. She is sometimes forced to resort to ukahaba: “taking up with any man and going with him as long as he can feed your children for the day, or pay their school fees.” She is aware of the risk of HIV and AIDS but says this is “the reality” of being jobless.

She worries about security in Kibagare, the behaviour of young people and the rising incidence of rape, due partly to the increasing abuse of marijuana and alcohol.

Her children are her main concern and she longs for the opportunity to have some vocational training or a loan to start a business. “If…I am given a good foundation…I am convinced – without any doubt – that I could change my life and the future life of my children.”

I left Kitui (south-eastern Kenya) and came to live here in Nairobi in 1999. I am now 25.

When I got to Nairobi, I worked as a maid for a while, then I got married. My husband and I were blessed with two children, a boy and girl, but we did not stay together for long because he was an excessive drunk and he would beat me so much. So I decided to leave him and live alone with my children… When I left this man, he continued being a terrible drunkard, and he was hit by a car one day and died.

The harsh reality of unemployment

I raise these children on my own, with many problems. At first I was still working as a housemaid for a Nigerian family, but then they returned to their home. So now I depend on any casual labour I can find to feed them. Mostly I find temporary work washing clothes, but if I don’t get that I take up with a man, as I cannot watch my children die of hunger…

I live in a small room which I rent at 700 shillings a month, but it’s not easy to make the rent money… It is this situation that forces me into ukahaba, even if there are problems ¬ like diseases such as AIDS. I don’t have any other option. This practice of ukahaba means taking up with any man and going with him as long as he can feed your children for the day, or pay their school fees… I just have to do that so I can get food, rent and school fees for my children… This is the reality of not having a job.

I just pray to God that I get a good job or that as young people we get a good project, such as keeping chickens. Whatever kind of job really, so that I leave prostitution alone… Also if I could get a good man we can live together as husband and wife – that would be great.

Poverty undermines cooperation
We do not have [self-help] groups — those that exist are [older] women’s groups and their lives are much better than ours. We cannot work together because our problems [are so bad that] everybody can only be concerned with their own house. So now, even if you call a meeting it’s difficult to get enough people. Everybody follows their own path and thinks you will just waste their time — they do not see that any good results might come of it. I would like to have a group, but there are many different opinions on that.

The [only] organisation that I’ve seen helping people is the Catholic Church. It helps the very old women, especially those who have been left with their own children’s orphans. But even then it’s not all of them who are helped — just a very few.

“We have been completely forgotten”

Other private organisations or government agencies do not come here, they just get us together and take pictures and promise to return – but they do not. I don’t know if they feel that our problems are just too many, I don’t know…

Nowadays, we feel like everyone who comes here are liars and they just give us false hope…
because it seems that there are people using us for their own benefit. There are so many who have come here, taken our pictures and done things like that, but then they disappear, so we wonder where do they go? It looks like we have been completely forgotten…

We even wonder if we are wanted in this world – because of the conditions we live in, which truly are not fit for humans. And we wonder when will this situation change or will we die in this state? We also wonder if our children will also be poor like us, because they have no foundations upon which to build a future.

“Life back home is very hard”

My parents died a long time ago, even before I came to Nairobi. I started living with my sister and my elder brother, but now they both live back in Ukambani (Kitui district, south-eastern Kenya).

We last saw each other a very long time ago; I don’t go home because I lack the bus fare and [my brother] is also unable to come to Nairobi. With the little money that I earn I am just able to cover the rent and to buy food. I would very much like to go home but for now, life does not allow it.

Life back home is very hard, however, even more than here in Nairobi, because there money can scarcely be found at all. Back at home, even though education is free, parents contribute money to help provide a meal for the schoolchildren and it’s very hard to get that cash. It’s better here in Nairobi, where you can at least wash clothes for somebody and make some money.

“It was my wish…to support myself”

I went to school until Standard 8 (final class of primary school) and then there was no more money for fees… I was one of seven children and the last. I am the only child who went to school because my elder sister was married by then and she lived in Nairobi — she helped me. But there was no money to take me on to a college to acquire any skills, or to go to secondary school, even though it was my wish to get enough education to support myself in life…

I pray that I receive some help so that I can acquire some skills — even tailoring — so that I can fend for myself. I think if I get 1,000 shillings I can start training myself, even if it’s just one day a week, so that even if I am fired from being a maid I can take care of myself without relying on anyone. So that even if the maid jobs were not available I could have my own work and my children would be educated without many problems.

I would also find them a nice place to live so that they could grow up with good manners, because I will not lie to you, if I sent these children of mine to stay with you, you would not even last two days before returning them to me! Because they have no respect, they have been misled by others here in this kijiji (Swahili for village, here meaning Kibagare). I tell you, my sister, there are problems here.

“The fear that is in this community is great”

Cases [of rape] have increased greatly, especially of children who are deceived by grown-ups. Some are promised sweets and mandazi (popular semi-sweet doughnut) and such like. Rape is also on the increase because of drunkenness and drugs – also the smoking of bhang (marijuana), which has increased in the village. Now the children are seeing that it is OK to imitate these people…

I tell you, the fear that is in this community is great. I go everywhere with my daughter and I don’t know when I’ll stop doing this, because I do not know when this situation will change. There are so many problems that you just thank God when you wake up in the morning and find you are still alive [smiles].

Drug use has reduced the security situation in this kijiji… The police pass through here, but the young people know the time [they come]. So when the police are in the area, you don’t see anyone loitering about aimlessly. But just let the police leave, and they start committing the most outrageous acts [laughs].

Some even ask to be arrested because in jail nowadays there is food, not like here in Kibagare. Now when you hear somebody wants to commit a crime in order to be arrested, what can you do but leave them to it?! I think that, even if we do get help, these youths should go and have the drugs removed from their system first.

The impact of poverty on young girls

As you can see, so many girls are pregnant; almost every girl in this village has at least one child. Those girls don’t really care about their children because at night they leave them and go roaming around, looking for men in Kangemi and then in the morning they go home to sleep and leave the children [to fend for themselves].

They get pregnant when they are so young – around 12 years, sometimes younger – because their lives are hard. You know, because they have been born in such hardship this way of life attracts them, so they start making money early so that maybe they can start helping their parents. You often find they have left school and taken up a bad lifestyle; so many of them have started contracting different diseases. Many have died of AIDS.

“We live like we are not human beings”

The problem is that there are very many people and the population is increasing at a very fast rate. You see here, there are many houses which are so close together there is no space left to build toilets. Most people have to relieve themselves in polythene bags and tins, and in the morning you find those bags spread everywhere and sometimes in the river that people use for their domestic water supply. As a result, people get diseases…

We have drinking water but most people don’t have the 2 shillings you need to buy the water; many have died because of drinking dirty water.

I hear some people saying this is the government’s land; others say it is private so I don’t really know whose it is. It has become an issue that politicians use to get our votes at election time. There are times when we are threatened that the community will be demolished; other times [buildings are] burned down. We don’t really know where we stand — we just live on God’s mercy.

My request would be that the owners of these houses get the title deeds and that they build real houses. So that when we build homes too, we are sure that the houses will not be burned down or destroyed, so that we stop being afraid of losing our belongings as now. When somebody leaves their home to look for work, they are always afraid and hoping not to hear that something has happened in the village.

In my opinion, I think that if we could find somebody to buy us plots of land, and if they built houses and made toilets for us, I think life would change – so we could be like other Kenyans. You see, we live like we are not human beings. When I look at other people, they have so much money they don’t even know what to do with it, while for us, even finding food is by the grace of God. I wonder if there is really anybody thinking about us.

“I am convinced…I could change my life”

When I look at the children we have, I wonder: if our lives are this bad and have no direction or hope for the future, what will the future hold for our children? I feel like if we don’t get help from somewhere, it will get worse. But if, say, I am given a good foundation somewhere else, if I am given money to start a business, or if I received training in some vocational work, I am convinced – without any doubt – that I could change my life and the future life of my children. So that when I die, I would leave them at least some foundation from which they could rely on themselves, and be of use to future generations.

There are many businesses to undertake; the problem is getting money to start the business. For example, if I could get some money I could start to sell kale, cabbage, tomatoes. If we could get money, even a loan that we repay with a small amount of interest, I can see that would help us.

Our problem as young people is lack of employment. If it was possible for us to be given jobs, even something like rearing chickens, we would be able to create more opportunities and life would be better, as we would be busy rather than just being idle…

4/20/2008

A man-made famine

There are many causes behind the world food crisis, but one chief villain: World Bank head, Robert Zoellick.

For anyone who understands the current food crisis, it is hard to listen to the head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, without gagging.

Earlier this week, Zoellick waxed apocalyptic about the consequences of the global surge in prices, arguing that free trade had become a humanitarian necessity, to ensure that poor people had enough to eat. The current wave of food riots has already claimed the prime minister of Haiti, and there have been protests around the world, from Mexico, to Egypt, to India.

The reason for the price rise is perfect storm of high oil prices, an increasing demand for meat in developing countries, poor harvests, population growth, financial speculation and biofuels. But prices have fluctuated before. The reason we’re seeing such misery as a result of this particular spike has everything to do with Zoellick and his friends.

Before he replaced Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank, Zoellick was the US trade representative, their man at the World Trade Organisation. While there, he won a reputation as a tough and guileful negotiator, savvy with details and pushy with the neoconservative economic agenda: a technocrat with a knuckleduster.

His mission was to accelerate two decades of trade liberalisation in key strategic commodities for the United States, among them agriculture. Practically, this meant the removal of developing countries’ ability to stockpile grain (food mountains interfere with the market), to create tariff barriers (ditto), and to support farmers (they ought to be able to compete on their own). This Zoellick did often, and enthusiastically.

Without agricultural support policies, though, there’s no buffer between the price shocks and the bellies of the poorest people on earth. No option to support sustainable smaller-scale farmers, because they’ve been driven off their land by cheap EU and US imports. No option to dip into grain reserves because they’ve been sold off to service debt. No way of increasing the income of the poorest, because social programmes have been cut to the bone.

The reason that today’s price increases hurt the poor so much is that all protection from price shocks has been flayed away, by organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank.

Even the World Bank’s own Independent Evaluation Group that the bank has been doing a poor job in agriculture. Part of the bank’s vision was to clear away the government agricultural clutter so that the private sector could come in to make agriculture efficient. But, as the Independent Evaluation Group delicately puts it, “in most reforming countries, the private sector did not step in to fill the vacuum when the public sector withdrew.” After the liberalisation of agriculture, the invisible hand was nowhere to be seen.

But governments weren’t allowed to return to the business of supporting agriculture. Trade liberalisation agreements and World Bank loan conditions, such as those promoted by Zoellick, have made food sovereignty impossible.

This is why, when we see Dominique Strauss-Kahn of the IMF wailing about food prices, or Zoellick using the crisis to argue with breathless urgency for more liberalisation, the only reasonable response is nausea.

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