Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (C) addresses the
audience during a meeting of the annual Mercosur trade bloc presidential
summit in Mendoza June 29, 2012. (Credit: Reuters/Enrique Marcarian)

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals
Chinese President Xi Jinping (4-L, first row) poses with leaders of the CELAC group of Latin American and Caribbean states, in Brasilia, on July 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Nelson Almeida)
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


.
A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

Brazil's Rousseff claims nation 'ready for greatest World Cup'

Brazil's Rousseff claims nation 'ready for greatest World Cup'
Google: Ready, set, goooaaallll! The WorldCup is finally here.

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ
The Conmebol headquarters in Luque, Paraguay, is seen on January 7, 2016, during a raid within the framework of the FIFA corruption scandal (AFP Photo/Norberto Duarte)

'Panama Papers' law firm under the media's lenses

'Panama Papers' law firm under the media's lenses
The Panama Papers: key facts on the huge journalists' investigation into tax evasion (AFP Photo/Thomas Saint-Cricq, Philippe Mouche)

Mossack Fonseca

Mossack Fonseca

.

.
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Friday, October 13, 2017

Chile penguins win battle in war against mine

Yahoo – AFP, Giovanna FLEITAS, 13 October 2017


They may be less than a meter tall but they have conquered a Goliath: Chile's vulnerable Humboldt penguins have thwarted -- for now at least -- a billion dollar mining project in one of the country's most depressed regions.

The rare species is only found on the coasts of Peru and Chile, which has created the National Humboldt Penguin Reserve -- but it's also an area rich in natural resources which has put the animals on a collision course with mining giant Andes Iron and their $2.5 billion project.

Conservationists jumped to their defense when the company unveiled plans to construct a huge open-cast mine and a port near the reserve, 600 kilometers (250 miles) north of Santiago.

The Dominga mine would have produced 12 million tonnes of iron ore a year, making it the biggest of its kind in the country, and 150,000 tonnes of copper.

For months it made headlines amid a bitter national debate over economic development and environmental conservation that was fought out on social media and split the socialist government of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

The project was rejected in March by an environmental commission but Andes Iron appealed the ruling.

In August, a special cabinet committee which included the energy and mines, health and environment ministers, finally vetoed the project citing of a lack of guarantees for the penguins.

Humboldts have been protected here since 1990, when the reserve was set up to encompass the islands of Dama, Choros and Gaviota, a stunning nature trail beloved of whale, sea-lion and penguin watchers.

Thousands of jobs

Rodrigo Flores, vice-president of the fisherman's union in nearby Punta Choros, a jumping off point for tours of the islands, welcomed the move.

"Dominga is an invasive project, for nature and for society," he told AFP. "It is incompatible with a place considered a hotspot of biodiversity at the global level."

But that's not everyone's view.

Joyce Aguirre is one of the project's staunch defenders in the local community of La Higuera.

"Every project has an impact," she said, arguing that the government had a duty to come down on the side of jobs.

"We want to be vigilant and watch what's going to happen. We are the ones who live here and we would never want to damage the area."

The region is among the most underdeveloped in Chile and many locals lament the loss of thousands of jobs promised under the plan.

Conservation NGO Oceana warned of the risks to the ecosystem from the mine, whose port terminal was set to be built only 30 kilometers away from the island of Choros.

The conservation group argued that increased shipping traffic, with its greater risk of oil spills, would do untold harm to a known cetacean migrant route and pristine waters that provide a rich food source to several vulnerable species including the sea otter.

"I've been diving in other areas and I've seen that residue from mining activity is noticeable on the ocean bottom, killing all existing life," said fisherman Mauricio Carrasco. "That's what we're afraid of."

Constant pressure on reserve

In Punta Choros, 160 families in the fishing community play an official role in watching over the penguin reserve, an area of 880 hectares which is home to 80 percent of the species.

Recent studies have shown the water to be pristine, largely due to conservation efforts.

But the reserve "is constantly under threat from mega-projects," warned Liliana Yanes, regional director of the National Forestry Office in Coquimbo.

French giant Suez was forced to pull out of a project to build a power plant in Barrancones, near Choros, in 2010. The then-president Sebastian Pinera demanded that the power plant be built elsewhere after thousands of people protested.

Around 60 kilometers away in the town of La Serena, part of the population has come out strongly against the U-turn on the Dominga project.

"We feel the disappointment, as Chileans, because the government is clipping our wings," said Marta Arancibia, adding that the region was one of the poorest in Chile.

She is a member of a residents association which signed an agreement with Andes Iron in which they promised to invest heavily in local education, healthcare and potable water projects.

"The state hasn't been present for us over the last 20 years, so we see these private enterprise projects as opportunities," said Aguirre, who also signed the agreement.

Andes Iron has signalled its intention to continue the battle in Chile's environmental court and if necessary, take it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Round one to the plucky penguins, though it seems the war has only started.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lawyer and activist Michelle Suarez becomes Uruguay's first transgender senator


Related Article: 


Solar panels shine in darkest Amazon, the 'last frontier'

Yahoo – AFP, Paula RAMON, October 11, 2017

Remote communities in the Amazon, such as here near Labrea, are being encouraged
to use solar energy to power their villages (AFP Photo/CARL DE SOUZA)

Ituxi Extractive Reserve (Brazil) (AFP) - In the darkest reaches of Brazil's Amazon, solar panels are bringing light -- and could help save the rainforest.

Aurelio Souza is working to install solar panels in villages along the remote Purus and Ituxi rivers in the western Amazonas state.

"The Amazon is the last big frontier for electricity in the country," says the consultant for a joint program of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Brazil's environmental agency ICMBio.

"You have at least two million people (in the Brazilian Amazon) without access to modern energy."

Bringing power to millions might not sound like an obvious way to preserve the world's greatest forest, already under constant pressure from loggers and farmers.

But consider what the solar panels are replacing.

In tiny communities of the Ituxi nature reserve, west of the city of Labrea, small scale farmers almost universally depend on noisy, smoky generators for light and refrigeration -- and frequent trips to buy more fuel at higher than usual prices.

To keep fish they catch in the rivers fresh they also use large quantities of Styrofoam, another environmental menace.

"The reduction in the consumption of diesel cuts greenhouse gases and reduces the dependency of communities on fossil fuels," Souza said.

The project was launched in July in a neighboring nature reserve, called Medio Purus, home to about 6,000 people who subsist on fishing and family farms. And without the din of generators drowning out the deep silence of the forest night, life is already changing.

In Cassiana, in the Amazon's Medio Purus Reserve, night classes have benefited
from solar energy (AFP Photo/CARL DE SOUZA)

Silence

At the community school in the Cassiana community, part of Medio Purus, night classes taught by satellite link have already become a whole lot more rewarding now that the generator is no longer needed.

"We couldn't concentrate with the noise of the motor and a lot of our classes were cancelled because there wasn't enough fuel," said Francisca de Almeida, 30, who is in her second year of studies.

Further up the river in the settlement of Jurucua, neighbors are using solar power to run a cassava mill, while Maria Francisca de Souza, 54, is finally able to have river water pumped to her house. She hopes to build her first bathroom soon.

The community association for the Ituxi reserve, with a population of barely 600, has hooked up to solar power to run a water well pump. There's even a refrigerator for special occasions that used to cost $400 a month in fuel.

These might be small steps but innovation is the best bet for Brazilians in remote communities. Despite an official state policy of bringing power to the entire country, "the cost is very high in these places," Souza said.

Solar panels donated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Brazilian government
are carried by boat to the village of Volta do Bucho in the Western Amazon (AFP Photo/
CARL DE SOUZA)

For Irismar Duarte, vice president of the Ituxi association, the solar panels open the door to more progress.

"Everyone is looking for ways to innovate and people are adapting to the changes. That's what we're trying to do here," she said.

The association hopes to get a freezer next and ability to power equipment to ramp up production of acai, a potentially valuable fruit which so far is only grown for domestic consumption.

When Duarte hears the solar panel-powered pumps fire up, almost noiselessly, she still can hardly believe the change.

"It's a dream, something I thought would never happen," he says.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Brazil arrests Rio 2016 Olympic committee chairman on corruption charges

Yahoo – AFP, Carola SOLÉ, Oct 5, 2017

Brazil's Olympic Committee chief Carlos Nuzman (C) is escorted from his
home by federal police in Rio de Janeiro (AFP Photo/Mauro PIMENTEL)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Brazilian police on Thursday arrested the chairman of the country's Olympic Committee as part of a probe into alleged vote buying to secure Rio's hosting of the 2016 Games.

Twenty federal police agents swept into Rio de Janeiro's upscale Leblon neighborhood in an early morning operation to arrest 75-year-old Carlos Nuzman.

The Rio 2016 committee's chief operating officer Leonardo Gryner was arrested in a separate raid.

A grim-faced Nuzman left his home wearing a dark business suit in the Rio heat as he was escorted by police.

The agents, who were operating on orders from a federal judge, also seized documents.

Nuzman and Gryner "will be charged with the crimes of corruption, money laundering and criminal association," police said in a statement.

Nuzman appeared relaxed and chatted with the agents as he entered the police station.

The men were sent to the Benefica prison in northern Rio, a police source told AFP.

With their detention, the vice president of Brazil's Olympic Committee, Paulo Wanderley, has temporarily taken charge of the body.

Assets increased 457%

The arrests are the latest in a widespread corruption scandal rocking Brazil that has ensnared many of the country's top political and business figures, and which often has links to abroad.

Brazil's Olympic Committee chief Carlos Nuzman (L), whom prosecutors say 
increased his assets by 457 percent in the past decade with no clear source for 
the new income, is escorted inside the federal police headquarters in Rio de
 Janeiro (AFP Photo/Mauro PIMENTEL)

It is "essential" that the suspects be detained "as a guarantee of public order" to allow their assets to be blocked, and to stop them from engaging in any criminal act or interfering with evidence, the Rio prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Prosecutors asked for some $319 million dollars in assets belonging to Nuzman and Gryner to be blocked.

Nuzman, who has headed Brazil's Olympic Committee since 1995, saw his assets increase 457 percent over the past decade with no clear source for the new income, prosecutors said.

Nuzman also tried to hide his wealth, often in foreign accounts, the statement read.

He only declared he owned 16 gold bars weighing one kilogram (2.2 pounds) each when he was questioned a month ago, prosecutors said.

'Unfair Play - Second Half'

Following an investigation dubbed "Unfair Play" that spanned several countries, Brazilian officials last month said Nuzman was the "lynchpin" in a plot to bribe the International Olympic Committee into awarding Rio de Janeiro last year's Games.

At the time, Nuzman was detained and questioned and authorities confiscated his passport.

Investigators also searched the offices of Brazil's Olympic Committee and several companies suspected of links to the scandal.

Thursday's operation in Rio was dubbed "Unfair Play - Second Half."

Authorities allege that former Rio governor Sergio Cabral, who is serving a 14-year prison term for bribery and money laundering, was the mastermind of the plot, which saw $2 million in bribes paid to Papa Massata Diack, the son of Senegalese IOC member Lamine Diack, before the 2009 vote.

Leonardo Gryner, the chief executive officer of the Rio 2016 organizing committee, 
pictured in 2012, has been arrested and faces charges of corruption, money 
laundering and criminal association (AFP Photo/WILL OLIVER)

Businessman Arturo Soares, known as "King Arthur," a top contractor for Cabral's administration, allegedly delivered the payment three days before the IOC vote in Copenhagen in October 2009. Rio beat bids from Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo to host the 2016 games.

Honorary IOC member

Rio prosecutors say they have new information conclusively showing how the payments were made. In their statement they cite an email from Papa Massata directly asking Nuzman for help with "the final process," and an email discussing difficulties in bank transfers.

Rio 2016 was credited with being a sporting and organizational success, but revelations of massive corruption during the preparations and now even in the awarding of the Games have tarnished the legacy.

The latest scandal cast a pall over an IOC meeting in Lima last month following the designation of Paris for the 2024 Games and Los Angeles as the 2028 host city.

IOC President Thomas Bach was asked at the time about Nuzman's role in the organization as an honorary member. Bach pledged the IOC's cooperation, but noted that there are limits to any sports organization's powers of investigation.

Ban Ki-moon, chief of the IOC's ethics commission, on Thursday also pledged cooperation and asked Brazilian authorities to supply all the available information on the case.

"Given the new facts, the IOC Ethics Commission may consider provisional measures while respecting Mr Nuzman’s right to be heard," the IOC said in a statement.

The group "will not comment further on this matter until a recommendation is issued by the IOC Ethics Commission," and it "reiterates that the presumption of innocence prevails."

A taste of freedom in a Colombian women's prison

Yahoo – AFP, Santiago TORRADO, October 5, 2017

Colombian inmates serving customers at El Interno, a restaurant in the San
Diego jail in Cartagena (AFP Photo/Raul Arboleda)

Cartagena (Colombia) (AFP) - Arleth Martinez smooths her clothes, kisses a photo of her twins and leaves for work. It's only a few meters from her Colombian cell to her unusually fragrant workplace, South America's first gastronomic prison restaurant.

Following the example of South Africa's Pollsmoor Prison, where Nelson Mandela wound down his 27-year sentence, and another in Milan, inmates at the teeming women's prison in downtown Cartagena are getting a taste for reintegration back into society with an experience that mixes cuisine with customer service.

The photo of the seven-year-old twins is Arleth's "lucky charm" -- a constant reminder of the future.

Sentenced to six years for extortion in 2015, present-day life in the San Diego prison has become a little more palatable since she started working at the restaurant late last year.

"Even though I'm still in prison, I feel free because it's a completely different environment," said the 26-year-old, wearing a pristine black t-shirt and apron, her hair gathered in a colorful pink turban. At least around the restaurant "you don't see so many bars".

Fifteen of the 150 inmates, most of them accused of murder or drug trafficking, work either in the kitchen, or in table service. The work is incentivised -- two days washing dishes, preparing or serving food, gets a day of prison time reduced.

Colombian inmates serving customers at El Interno, a restaurant in the San 
Diego jail in Cartagena (AFP Photo/Raul Arboleda)

A second chance

A fuchsia curtain separates the 50-seat restaurant from the cells. A mural of flowers painted by the inmates provides some colorful relief from the drab prison surroundings.

Named "El Interno," which roughly translates as "The Intern," the eatery provides a little extra frisson for curious locals and tourists while they enjoy a 30-dollar menu that runs from "fish ceviche in coconut milk" to "rice with seafood" and "posta Cartagenera" -- meat in black sauce typical of the city.

"When they arrive, people know that they are entering a prison, and that they will be served by prisoners," said Johana Bahamon, a Colombian television actress whose Accion Interna (Internal Action) Foundation was the driving force behind the idea.

"When they leave, they are happy to have met talented, courageous and real human beings," Bahamon told AFP.

El Interno is a rare opportunity for inmates in a country that has the largest prison population in South America after Brazil.

Colombian inmate Arleth Martinez shows photos of her twins in the San Diego
jail in Cartagena, Colombia (AFP Photo/Raul Arboleda)

In the last 17 years, the number of those behind bars in Colombia has more than doubled from 51,500 to 119,000, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Tougher sentences and an increase in convictions for drug trafficking have filled Colombia's 138 prisons to well beyond their combined 80,000 capacity.

Bahamon believes that women in these overcrowded prisons badly need to be offered a fresh start.

It's a recurring theme at the restaurant.

"Yo creo en las segundas oportunidades" (I believe in second chances) is emblazoned on Arleth's black T-shirt and inscribed on the signs on the walls pointing to the colorful eatery.

Bahamon said she was inspired by InGalera, a public restaurant run by Italian prisoners which set up in the parking lot of a Milan prison a few years ago.

She convinced the authorities to adapt the concept to the San Diego prison, located right in the tourist heart of Cartagena, a few meters from the luxurious hotels that abound around the old Colonial city's historic port.

For well-to-do customers like Antonio Galan, from the capital Bogota, "everything has a flavor and aroma of freedom, from the taste of the dishes to the ambiance of the restaurant."

25 to a cell

Thus, in the evenings at least, Arleth is surrounded by well-heeled influencers, personalities and media officials, who stand in solidarity with the cause.

Like other prisons in Colombia, San Diego is overcrowded. Some 150 women 
share a space designed for just 100 (AFP Photo/Raul Arboleda)

El Interno offers gourmet dinners from Tuesday to Sunday. But when it closes at 11:00 pm, it's back to the mundane reality of answering roll call in their prison cells for Arleth and her fellow inmates.

Like other prisons in Colombia, San Diego is overcrowded. Some 150 women, many of whom are awaiting trial, share a space designed for just 100.

When she came to San Diego, Arleth said she got the shock of her life, as she had to come to terms with the prison drug abuse, poor hygiene, and a dilapidated building.

For four months she slept on the floor, 25 to a cell. She was anxious for her children, entrusted to their grandmother. Their father, she says, mistreated and abandoned his family.

But last year she passed her secondary school exams and trained as a waitress in the prison. Her work at the restaurant has earned her the right to a rare luxury here -- a bunk in a cell.

In prison, "only warriors" survive, she said.



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay confirm 2030 World Cup bid

Yahoo – AFP, Oct 4, 2017, 8:47 PM

Argentine President Mauricio Macri (C) speaks to the press next to his counterparts
Horacio Cartes (L) of Paraguay and Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay after a World Cup
bid meeting at the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires on October 4,
2017 (AFP Photo/Juan MABROMATA)

Buenos Aires (AFP) - Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay will form a joint bid to host the centenary World Cup in 2030, the presidents of the three countries confirmed on Wednesday.

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes had said in August that his country would join the shared bid by neighbours Argentina and Uruguay, which hosted and won the inaugural World Cup in 1930.

Cartes met with his Argentine and Uruguayan counterparts, Mauricio Macri and Tabare Vazquez, in Buenos Aires on Wednesday to finalise the announcement.

"The first meeting (for the bid preparation) will be organised in the first week of November," Cartes said. "Other countries are going to want to host but there is a very strong argument in favour of Uruguay, which will celebrate 100 years" since it staged the first World Cup.

South America last hosted the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Any bid for 2030 is likely to face stiff competition from the Asia region, where China is expected to be the front-runner to stage the finals.

The next World Cup takes place in Russia, with Qatar staging the event in 2022.

A joint United States-Mexico-Canada bid is the favourite to host the 2026 tournament, with only one other country, Morocco, having entered the bidding race.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first to feature 48 teams with the competition set to expand from its current 32-team format.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

First global pact backing indigenous land rights launched

MSN – AFP, Marlowe HOOD, 3 October 2017

Provided by AFP Brazilian natives demonstrate in front of the Planalto Palace in
Brasilia, during the National Mobilization Week to protest and demand their rights, in 2015

Native peoples struggling to retain or regain stewardship of forests that sustained them for countless generations may finally have backing from an organisation with both swag and sway.

The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility -- the first and only global institution dedicated to securing the land rights of indigenous communities worldwide -- was formally launched in Stockholm on Tuesday.

Funded by Sweden, Norway and the Ford Foundation, a major US philanthropy, the Tenure Facility has already provided grants and guidance for pilot projects in Peru, Mali, and Indonesia, helping local communities leverage rarely enforced laws to protect their land and resources.

Disputes over land rights in tropical forests teeming with exploitable resources -- from hard woods to precious stones to oil -- can quickly escalate into deadly conflict, and local peoples more often than not wind up on the losing end.

More than 200 environmental campaigners, nearly half from indigenous tribes, were murdered around the world in 2016 alone, according to watchdog NGO Global Witness.

Restoring some measure of control to the original inhabitants of forests appropriated by corrupt governments or extraction industries has also proven an effective bulkhead against global warming, according to a 2014 global survey by the US-based World Resources Institute, a think tank.

In Brazil, for example, deforestation in indigenous community forests from 2000 to 2012 was less than 1 percent, compared with 7 percent outside those areas.

'Unrelenting conflicts'

Provided by AFP Representatives of indigenous communities and activists protest
in front of the Chinese Embassy in Lima, Peru, on September 22, 2017, to support the
Achuar, Kichwa and Quechua Amazonic tribes affected by oil industry activities on their
ancestral lands


Tropical vegetation soaks up planet-warming CO2 emitted by the burning of fossil fuels.

Destroying these forests outright not only reduces the area available to absorb carbon dioxide, it also releases CO2 into the atmosphere, accounting in recent decades -- along with agriculture and livestock -- for more than a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

"We see climate change and inequality as two of the greatest existential threats facing the planet," said Ford Foundation president Darren Walker.

"Creating mechanisms that allow indigenous peoples and local communities to gain tenure over their land or forests is a way to tackle both these problems," he told AFP ahead of a conference keyed to the launch.

Walker has pledged five million dollars, and expects -- based on other grants in the pipeline -- the facility to have 100 million within a year.

The project aims over the span of a decade to boost forestland properly titled to indigenous peoples by 40 million hectares, an area twice the size of Spain.

Such efforts, they calculate, would prevent deforestation of one million hectares and the release of 500 million tonnes of CO2, more than the annual emissions of Britain or Brazil.

"The Tenure Facility provides a powerful solution to save the world's forests from the ground up," said Carin Jamtin, director general of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, a key funder.

Corruption and abuses

More than two billion people live on and manage half the world's land area in customary or traditional systems, yet indigenous communities have formal legal ownership of only 10 percent.

And even where they do have title, corruption and abuses have led to protracted conflicts with local and national governments, companies and migrant workers.

Native populations can even run afoul of major green initiatives to fight climate change or stem biodiversity loss.

A controversial UN-backed programme, for example, known as REDD+ -- Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation -- creates incentives to keep forests intact, paid for by rich nations or companies seeking to offset pollution under carbon trading schemes.

But the projects that REDD+ finances can push aside the needs and rights of indigenous peoples who are often most directly affected by the changes set in motion, critics say.

A peer-reviewed 2013 study -- one of the few to examine the impacts on local communities -- concluded that less than half of 50-odd projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia did anything to alleviate the poverty of forest-dependent peoples.

But many did enhance their land tenure rights, they concluded.

Related Article:


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Brazil scraps bid to mine Amazon natural reserve

Yahoo – AFP, 26 Sep 2017

Brazil scraps bid to mine Amazon natural reserve

Brasília (AFP) - The Brazilian government backed off a controversial proposal to authorize private companies to mine a sprawling Amazon reserve Monday after blistering domestic and international criticism.

President Michel Temer's office will issue a new decree Tuesday that "restores the conditions of the area, according to the document that instituted the reserve in 1984," the Ministry of Mines and Energy said in a statement.

Last week, environmental activist group Greenpeace said at least 14 illegal mines and eight clandestine landing strips were already being used by miners in the Denmark-sized reserve known as Renca in the eastern Amazon.

Greenpeace said this showed the risks faced by Renca even without Temer's earlier proposal for ending a ban on large-scale foreign mining in the mineral-rich region.

Temer's decree signed on August 25 on opening up Renca was suspended days later after an international outcry.

The president had argued that lifting restrictions will allow Brazil to boost its struggling economy and also push the hugely destructive wildcat mining operations out of business.

In announcing the government was formally withdrawing the decree, the mining ministry insisted that the conditions that led to the measure in the first place were "still present."

"The country needs to grow and generate jobs, attract investments for the mining sector, including to exploit the economic potential of the region," it added.

The rainforest there is rich in gold and other valuable commodities but has been protected for decades from private industry and is home to several indigenous tribes.

Critics of Temer's decree included international environmental groups, the Catholic Church and even supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who is Brazilian.

The Renca reserve is home to the indigenous Aparai, Wayana and Wajapi tribes and vast swaths of untouched forest, covering more than 17,800 square miles (46,000 square kilometers).

Environmental groups say opening up Renca to mining would accelerate the advance of private mining and deforestation of preserved areas.

"The cancellation of the degree shows that, no matter how bad it is, no governing politician is absolutely immune to public pressure," said Marcio Astrini, public policy coordinator for Greenpeace Brazil.

"It is a victory of society over those who want to destroy and sell our forest."

He then added: "Renca is just a battle. The war against the Amazon and its different peoples, promoted by Temer and big agro business, is still on."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Puerto Rico faces floods, misery after Maria 'obliteration'

Yahoo – AFP, Hector RETAMAL and Edgardo RODRIGUEZ, September 21, 2017


San Juan (AFP) - Flash floods brought fresh misery to Puerto Rico on Thursday after its infrastructure was shattered by Hurricane Maria as President Donald Trump declared the US territory a disaster zone.

The hurricane, which Trump said had "absolutely obliterated" the island, left its 3.4 million people totally without power and officials said it may be months before it is fully restored.

The storm was blamed for 10 deaths in the Caribbean, including a man in northern Puerto Rico's Bayamon district who was struck by a board he had used to cover his windows.

"Puerto Rico is absolutely obliterated," Trump told reporters after declaring the island a disaster area in a move that will free up emergency relief funding.

"Puerto Rico is in a very, very, very tough shape," he said.

Though the storm had moved back out to sea, authorities declared a flash flood warning for all of Puerto Rico as "torrential" rains continued to lash the island.

"If possible, move to higher ground NOW!" the National Weather Service station in San Juan said in a tweet, calling the flooding "catastrophic."

Puerto Rico was expected to receive 20 to 30 inches (51 to 76 centimeters) of rain through Saturday, with some isolated areas receiving 35 inches, the National Hurricane Center said.

The rain had turned some roads in the US territory into muddy brown rivers, impassable to all but the largest of vehicles.

Toppled trees, street signs and power cables were strewn across roads that were also littered with debris.

Although Maria has now passed over Puerto Rico and lost some of its power, it is still packing winds of 115 miles per hour (185 kilometers per hour) and moving northwards towards the Turks and Caicos Islands after brushing the Dominican Republic.

'Totally destroyed'

Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello, who called Maria "the most devastating storm in a century" said the island was having to contend with mass flooding and a total breakdown of its power and telecommunications infrastructure.

Ricardo Ramos, who heads the island's electricity board, said it could take months before power is fully restored.

"We recognize that the system, you know, has been totally destroyed," he said of the electricity network.

While the island had suffered major blackouts from previous hurricanes, Ramos said the impact would be felt much more keenly this time.

"Everybody uses, of course, their social media, and the kids play on their electronic games and video games, and now really the customer has changed," he told CNN.

"I guess it's a good time for dads to buy a glove and ball and change the way you entertain your children and the way you are going to go to school and the way you are going to cook for gas stoves other than electric."

Under curfew

In San Juan, where tens of thousands rode out the storm in shelters or else hunkered down in their homes, residents told of their terrifying ordeal.

"This was absolutely the worst experience we've had with a hurricane," Kim Neis, an American who has lived on the island for 30 years, told AFP.

"None of the others were anything like as intense as this."

Rossello imposed a 6:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew until Saturday and warned of flooding and mudslides.

"I urge the people of Puerto Rico to commit to peace, understanding, and good judgment during these difficult times for our island," he said.

There were reports of looting and authorities said 10 people had been arrested.

Dominica devastation

Maria has already torn through several Caribbean islands, leaving at least seven people dead on Dominica.

In the French territory of Guadeloupe, one person was killed by a falling tree as Maria hit, while another died on the seafront.

At least two are missing after their boat sank off the French territory, while 40 percent of households were without power.

Strong winds were recorded in the Dominican Republic on Thursday due to Maria but there were no immediate reports of casualties or serious damage.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Dutch king to visit hurricane-hit Sint Maarten as relief effort picks up steam

DutchNews, September 11, 2017

Fresh water supplies reach Saba. Photo: Ministerie van Defensie / Gerben van Es
/ Hollandse Hoogte

King Willem-Alexander will visit the hurricane-hit Caribbean island of Sint Maarten on Monday as part of a short visit to meet locals and assess the relief effort. 

The king and home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk arrived on Curaçao on Sunday where they were briefed about the aid effort so far. They also visited a hospital to meet people who had been injured when hurricane Irma lashed the former Dutch colony last week.

‘I’m here in the first place to find out what has happened so far and what the coordination from Curaçao has done,’ the king told local media. ‘The only message I have so far is that we realise what has happened to you and we are doing our best to help everyone who needs it. You can count on our help.’ 

The evacuation of people injured by the hurricane has been completed and holidaymakers are now being brought out, news agency ANP said. It is unclear how many tourists are on the island. 

The US has evacuated some 3,000 tourists and American nationals who live there. 

Soldiers

Plasterk said he is impressed by what the police and military have achieved so far. He dismissed claims that the Netherlands has not done enough by pointing out that hundreds of people had already been dispatched to the islands before the hurricane hit. 

On Monday, fresh water will be distributed to people left without water supplies and equipment to turn sea water into drinking water is also being flown in. Some 550 Dutch soldiers are in the region to help with the relief effort. 

On the smaller islands of Saba and Sint Eustatius, which were not as badly hit as Sint Maarten, the roads have now been cleared of debris and made passable again, ANP said. 

Meanwhile, prime minister Mark Rutte told a news conference on Sunday that the death toll in the Dutch half of the island has risen to four, including two unidentified bodies which were washed ashore.