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.)


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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

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.
"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. …

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chile moves to ease strict abortion laws

Yahoo – AFP, Giovanna FLEITAS, Paulina ABRAMOVICH, July 19, 2017

Activists hold signs reading "Stop criminalizing women, Free and safe abortion"
and "Verbal, sexual or institutional, it is violence anyway" during a pro-abortion
demo on November 11, 2014

Chile was poised to lift its total ban on abortion, after the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday weighed a measure to decriminalize the procedure in certain cases -- the last step before it would go to President Michelle Bachelet for her signature.

Until now, the South American country has been part of a small group of socially conservative nations that barred abortion under all circumstances -- including the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Gabon, Haiti, Malta, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Senegal.

But if passed, the legislation would allow abortion in cases of rape, if the mother's life is at risk or if the fetus presents a deadly birth defect.

The lower chamber's vote, expected on Thursday, will come after the senate passed the measure in the early hours of Wednesday.

Approval in the Chamber of Deputies would send the law to Bachelet -- a pediatrician who returned to office in March 2014 after serving as Chile's first woman president from 2006 to 2010.

After hours of tense debate and more than two years in the making, senators approved the proposal, capping a marathon session of nearly 17 hours.

"It's a historic morning," said Bachelet, who during her previous term pushed for the "morning after pill" and now again challenged conservative groups with the abortion law.

"Beyond the fact that everyone can have a personal opinion, this project shows that we are a country where women, faced with such situations, can make the best decision possible."

'Turn to Christ'

During the debate in Chile's senate, police were called in to remove religious activists, most of them youths, from the chamber because they kept interrupting debate with anti-abortion chants and protest signs.

"Human beings have dignity just by existing," one sign read.

Another woman held up a poster reading "Turn to Christ" and cried out "Return to the Lord!" as she was led out.

Chilean conservatives have rallied against the abortion bill ever since Bachelet introduced it in January 2015.

Nevertheless, polls show that 70 percent of Chileans support legalized abortion under the three conditions introduced in the senate.

Chile had permitted abortion for more than 50 years -- only if the mother's life was in danger or if the fetus was not viable -- until it was strictly outlawed in 1989 during the final days of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

Under current law, abortion is punishable by up to five years in prison.

However, about 30,000 provoked or spontaneous abortions are recorded each year in the country, though it is estimated that clandestine abortions could number around 160,000, according to a pro-abortion group.

Activists hold signs reading "Stop criminalizing women, Free and safe abortion" 
and "Verbal, sexual or institutional, it is violence anyway" during a pro-abortion 
demo on November 11, 2014

Top priority for Bachelet

"It's a great contribution to the history of Chile," Claudia Dides, spokeswoman for the Miles Foundation reproductive rights group, said after the vote.

"I think our girls, our teenagers and women will wake up happy today, feeling confident that they'll be able to decide every day of their lives."

Supporters of the measure who had gathered outside Congress clapped and cheered when news broke of the senate's approval.

The congressional action comes ahead of November presidential elections in which Bachelet will not be a candidate.

The president said that she will make the measure's approval and full implementation a priority before she leaves office in March 2018.

"It's an act of cruelty to not allow women to decide," Senator Guido Girardi said during the debate.

Conservative Senator Ena Von Baer warned that she would send the measure to the country's Constitutional Tribunal for review, claiming that it denies protection to unborn children.

Lawmakers from Bachelet's Socialist party have tried in the past to introduce abortion bills, but they have always been voted down by the legislature.

Bachelet, who was a senior United Nations official working on female empowerment issues after her first term in office, has seen her support wane due to administration scandals.

Opinion polls show that in November, voters will likely re-elect conservative former president Sebastian Pinera.

Conservative groups have historically had great influence in Chile, though they have lost ground in recent years. Chileans had to wait until 2004 to be able to divorce, and until just two years ago for same-sex civil unions.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Uruguay pharmacies start selling marijuana

Yahoo – AFP, Mauricio RABUFFETTI, July 19, 2017

A man shows two envelopes containing marijuana he just purchased at a
pharmacy in Montevideo, on July 19, 2017 (AFP Photo/MIGUEL ROJO)

Montevideo (AFP) - Pharmacies in Uruguay started selling marijuana Wednesday under a four-year-old law that has made the small South American country the first in the world to legalize pot from production to sale.

At a pharmacy in Montevideo's Old Town, five customers were waiting to buy when the store shutters went up at the start of the day, and lines grew longer as the day went on.

"I've been smoking since I was 14. Let's give it a try," said a 37-year-old man who would not give his name.

"It's funny," a pharmacy employee told AFP on grounds of anonymity. "In two hours we filled only three prescriptions, but 30 people came to buy marijuana."

Some pharmacies saw as many as 20 people lining up to make their first legal pot purchase.

"We did not expect this kind of movement," said Sebastian Scafo, 33, a pharmacy manager.

In all, 16 pharmacies have been authorized to sell marijuana under state controls, barely enough to cover a country of 3.5 million people.

No major pharmacy chain has agreed to sell the drug.

Many pharmacies have been unwilling to participate in the scheme because of concerns about security and doubts that the small market of registered users is worth the trouble.

Only about 5,000 people, most of them age 30 to 44, have signed up as prospective buyers since Uruguay's state registry opened in early May.

Walk-in sales are not allowed under the law, and only residents of Uruguay can register to buy pot -- thereby preventing marijuana tourism.

Graphic on estimated prevalance of cannabis use around the world (AFP 
Photo/John SAEKI, Laurence CHU, Adrian LEUNG)

Blow to drug-dealers?

Among those trying the new legal distribution system was Xavier Ferreyra, a 32-year-old city employee, who was making his first purchase at a pharmacy in Montevideo's Old Town.

He said he saw two main advantages to the new approach: "safety and the quality" of the drug, adding, "I no longer have to go buy it in some slum."

Pharmacy sales are the last of three phases set out under the 2013 law.

Under the early phases, nearly 7,000 people registered to grow weed at home, and more than 60 smokers' clubs were authorized.

Only two companies were authorized to produce marijuana for pharmacies -- under military protection, and with no public access.

The state Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCC) has authorized the sale of two types of marijuana, to be sold in five-gram packets.

On Monday, the National Drugs Council tweeted an image of what the packages would look like: blue-and-white sealed sachets that look something like condom packets.

An "Alfa I" package contains "Alfa I variety cannabis hybrid with Indica predominant."

Another sort has "Beta I variety cannabis" with Sativa. The levels of THC -- the psychotropic constituent in cannabis -- are given on the outside, for consumer information.

The packets also bear a "Warnings" section about the risks of consuming marijuana and recommendations on how to do it more safely.

People line up in front of a pharmacy to buy marijuana in Montevideo, on 
July 19, 2017 (AFP Photo/MIGUEL ROJO)

'A marvelous plant'

The buyers who talked to AFP reporters all said they had bought 10 grams of pot, a packet of each variety on sale.

The packets are being retailed at $6.60 each, according to the IRCCA.

Customers are identified through a digital fingerprint reader, which allows them to buy without having to show other forms of identification in the store.

Uruguay's goal in legalizing the sale of marijuana for recreational use is to cut down on illegal smuggling.

Camila Berro, a 24-year-old business student, walked out of a pharmacy smiling, two packets of pot in hand.

"I feel very lucky to be able to get it legally," she said. "I have friends in other countries who were imprisoned for smoking a joint."

To Ferreyra, the municipal worker, "Uruguay has taken a very big step... I hope one day they can legalize a lot more drugs."

And former President Jose Mujica, who enacted the marijuana reforms while in office from 2010 to 2015, said that while "no addiction is good," it was "horrible to condemn a marvelous plant."

Uruguay, he added, is "trying a new path."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Venezuela opposition calls nationwide strike against Maduro

Yahoo – AFP, Maria Isabel SANCHEZ, July 17, 2017

"Venezuela wants to live better" -- voters celebrate in Caracas after taking part in
 an opposition-organized ballot challenging embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas
Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution (AFP Photo/FEDERICO PARRA)

Caracas (AFP) - Venezuela's opposition called a nationwide strike for Thursday to press President Nicolas Maduro to back off a rewriting of the constitution, ratcheting up tensions after an unofficial vote rejecting Maduro's plan and amid months of deadly protests.

The strike call, issued on Monday, was part of what the opposition called a "final offensive" aimed at forcing Maduro out through early elections before his term ends in 2019.

On Sunday, in an event organized by the opposition, more than a third of Venezuela's 19 million voters rejected Maduro's bid to have a citizens' body called a "Constituent Assembly" elected on July 30 to redraft the constitution.

Several countries lauded the balloting. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday it sent an "unmistakable statement" to Maduro and his government.

The EU's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said that Maduro should suspend his plan, or he "risks further polarizing the country and increasing confrontation."

However Maduro and his government, backed by a loyal military, have dug in against the opposition tactics and the international criticism.

Despite growing public anger at food and medicine shortages under a spiralling economic crisis that has fed into the opposition movement, authorities in Caracas portray the efforts against them as illegitimate and the result of interference from the "imperialist" United States.

Julio Borges (C), leader of Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature, says
 the vote result shows a public desire to see President Nicolas Maduro leave 
power before the end of his term in 2019 (AFP Photo/RONALDO SCHEMIDT)

'Escalation' to follow

"We are calling all the country to take part in a massive and violence-free protest through a nationwide civic strike for 24 hours," said one leader in the opposition coalition, Freddy Guevara.

He said the stoppage was a "mechanism for pressure and to prepare for the definitive escalation to take place next week."

There were fears, however, that the stepped-up confrontation could worsen violence in Venezuela's streets. Since April, when anti-Maduro protests and police pushback turned bloody, 96 people have died.

The opposition set the scene for the strike with its vote Sunday, which it called a "plebiscite" but which the government dismissed as "illegal."

Electoral authorities, who have systematically sided with Maduro against the opposition-controlled legislature, denied authorization for the balloting.

Academics who oversaw the symbolic poll as guarantors of its credibility counted a turnout of more than seven million voters, undermining legitimacy for Maduro's future Constituent Assembly.

Brazil's foreign ministry said in a statement "the high turnout in the plebiscite... was an unmistakable sign the Venezuelan people want democracy quickly restored." It, too, called on Maduro to shelve his Constituent Assembly idea.

Volunteers count the ballots in Caracas during the opposition-organized vote 
challenging Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his plan to rewrite
the constitution (AFP Photo/FEDERICO PARRA)

Change wanted

Venezuela's opposition, invigorated by the voter support and the international reactions, clearly was keen to seize the moment.

"The mandate the people have given us is clear," said Julio Borges, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Borges said the vote showed a public desire to see Maduro leave power before his term ends.

Political analyst John Magdaleno told AFP that "there is evidence of a persistent and durable demand for political change."

The result of Sunday's vote may not have been binding, but Venezuela "sent a clear message to the national executive and the world," announced Central University of Venezuela president Cecilia Garcia Arocha, one of several experts who oversaw Sunday's vote.

Garcia noted that 6,492,381 voted in the country and 693,789 voted abroad, according to a count of 95 percent of ballots. Final results would be released Monday, she said.

According to Borges, once all ballots are counted, there will be some 7.5 million votes, which he said would be sufficient to overturn Maduro's mandate if there were a recall referendum.

To lend weight to the vote, a group of former Latin American presidents, including Mexico's Vicente Fox, who was declared "persona non grata" by the government, took part as observers.

But Luis Vicente Leon, head of the polling firm Datanalisis, said the opposition's challenge now was to leverage the vote to "crack" Maduro's stance and "press for negotiations that would give an peaceful chance for change."

The opposition has accused Maduro of driving the country into bankruptcy, and of planning to use the Constituent Assembly to entirely sideline the legislature.

For many ordinary Venezuelans suffering under shortages of basic goods, sky-high inflation and climbing unemployment, the vote was a way of expressing frustration at the president and his policies.

Yet Maduro has insisted his proposed Constituent Assembly is "the only path" to peace and economic recovery. Thus far, he has shown no sign of backing down.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ecuador designers reinvent indigenous style for modern age

Yahoo – AFP, Paola LÓPEZ, July 16, 2017

The fashion-conscious in Ecuador are returning to their roots by embracing
 indigenous fashion: Puruha-style hand-embroidered blouses are popular at
this store in Riobamba

After years of taking a backseat to Western style, indigenous fashion is re-emerging in Ecuador, thanks to a new generation of designers who are re-imagining traditional clothes.

"Make the turn snappy!" says Juana Chicaiza, who founded the modeling agency "Awkis y Nustas" -- "Princes and Queens" in the Quechua language.

She is teaching her young charges how to best show off the "anaco," a traditional Andean skirt, on the catwalks.

A former beauty queen with long dark hair, Chicaiza -- a member of the Puruha indigenous group -- was mocked at a pageant because of her traditional garb.

The experience inspired the 32-year-old to open her agency in 2013 and "strengthen the identity" of the Puruha on the runways, where models now sashay in outfits that mix "the Western and the ancestral."

Latin American agencies generally seek models with hourglass figures and fine features, the designer told AFP.

"We're not looking for that," Chicaiza said. "We're looking for women with character."

In Ecuador, indigenous peoples make up 30 percent of the population of 16.5 million, according to organizations representing them.

But many inhabitants do not recognize themselves as such: official census records say the country's indigenous population is just seven percent of the total.

Lucia Guillin is one of the Puruha-style fashion designers making waves in Ecuador

Like Chicaiza, fashion designers are also working to help people renew their pride in their heritage.

A hint of edge

Lucia Guillin and Franklin Janeta, who are also members of the Puruha ethnic group, have launched their own indigenous fashion labels -- respectively, Churandy and Vispu.

"Our Puruha clothes have disappeared and young people have started dressing in the Western style," says Guillin, donning one of her own shoulder-baring creations.

Pieces from their lines, including tops and skirts embellished with hand-embroidered flowers, range in price from $150-800.

The most expensive items, often embellished with stones and embroidery, are aimed at brides and beauty queens.

The designers use traditional ornaments and symbols, like flowers or the sun, but are making updates more in line with contemporary styles, such as with more daring cuts.

"There were no low-cut necklines, no short sleeves," Janeta said. "I asked myself, 'What if we changed it?' Because young girls like things a little more modern."

Ecuadoran designers have lured customers back to their roots with 
traditional garb with a modern edge -- slits, see-through detailing or flaring

Guillin, for her part, has succeeded in convincing women to wear the anaco skirt proudly once more by giving the garment a hint of edge, playing with styles including mermaid cuts, trains, flaring and side-slits, she said.

"We must put a stop to the idea that Indians are closed off," she said. "If we continue with this, we also risk losing our culture."

According to Janeta, who said he makes some $12,000 a month in sales, customers are beginning to understand the value of the handmade attire.

"We taught people how to distinguish different qualities," he said. "Before it was difficult to sell a blouse for more than 60 dollars -- not anymore. They'll pay up to 400 dollars for a corset."

This new generation of indigenous entrepreneurs also includes Esther Miranda, Jose Mullo and Jacqueline Tuquinga -- who launched the perfume brand Yuyary (Memory, in Quechua) -- designers who also see Westerners as potential target consumers.

"As it's a brand in Quechua, people think it's just for our communities," Miranda said. "But we want to go beyond that."

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pharmacies in Uruguay to start selling pot next week

Yahoo – AFP, July 14, 2017

Uruguay is the world's first country to legalize production, sale and consumption
of marijuana for recreational purposes (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Montevideo (AFP) - Uruguay will allow pharmacies to sell marijuana starting next Wednesday, in the final phase of a law making the small South American country the first in the world to legalize and regulate pot from production to sale.

Under legislation approved in 2013, Uruguayans have been allowed to grow their own pot and smoke it in clubs.

But working out a timetable for pharmacies to sell it -- the third and last conduit called for in the legislation -- proved more tricky. This has now been resolved, the state agency regulating marijuana said in a statement Friday.

People have to register to buy pot in pharmacies, and so far 4,700 have done so, most of them in the 30 to 44 age group, according to government figures. Uruguay's total population is 3.4 million.

Under the first phase of the 2013 law, more than 6,600 people have registered to grow weed at home, and 51 smokers' clubs have been authorized.

The state Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCC) has authorized the sale of two types of marijuana, to be sold in packages of five and 10 grams.

Pharmacists say they are not sure how profitable pot sales will be -- registered smokers can buy no more than 40 grams a month, at $1.30 a gram -- and they have expressed concern about training the employees who will handle pot, and providing security against theft.

There have also been questions about the quality and potency of the officially provided weed, with some saying it is remarkably weak.

Only two companies were authorized to produce marijuana for pharmacies -- under military protection, and with no public access.

Government officials insist they will prevent "cannabis tourism." Only Uruguayans and legal residents will be allowed to partake.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

European Parliament approves first EU-Cuba pact

Yahoo – AFP, July 5, 2017

The European Parliament approved the Political Dialogue and Cooperation
Agreement, signed in December 2016, which is widely seen as a European
 riposte to US President Donald Trump's hardline stance against Cuba
 (AFP Photo/PEDRO PARDO)

Strasbourg (France) (AFP) - The European Parliament overwhelmingly approved Wednesday a first-ever cooperation deal between the EU and Cuba, despite lingering concerns about human rights violations in the communist-ruled country.

Lawmakers in the eastern French city of Strasbourg approved the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, signed in December 2016, which is widely seen as a European riposte to US President Donald Trump's hardline stance against Havana.

"Europe has a great opportunity to demonstrate to the United States, which intends to withdraw, that it is possible to maintain the highest level of expectations on Cuba" and normalise relations with Havana, said MEP Elena Valenciano, the rapporteur of the agreement.

With the deal, Cuba joins other Latin American countries with similar agreements with the EU, whose relations with the island had previously been conducted within the so-called Common Position that linked ties to improvements in human rights.

Human rights remained a major hurdle to the deal, which had been negotiated since April 2014, with many MEPs calling for tougher language on the issue.

In an effort to placate opponents of the deal, the European Parliament adopted a non-legislative resolution on Wednesday in which MEPs urged the EU to assist "the economic and political transition in Cuba" including towards "democratic standards".

MEPs, who in the past granted Cuban dissidents the Sakharov Prize for human rights, also urged the release of all those jailed "for their ideals and their peaceful political activity."

With the vote, the agreement, which also lays the basis for trade relations, will enter into force provisionally in the coming months.

Full implementation will require ratification by the EU's 28 member countries in a complex process that can take years.

Canada to award millions to former Guantanamo inmate: reports

Yahoo – AFP, July 4, 2017

A guard tower outside the fencing of Camp 5 at the US Military's Prison in
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Canadian Omar Khadr, who is reportedly set to be
awarded millions of dollars of compensation by his government, spent ten
years at the detenteion camp. (AFP Photo/Thomas WATKINS)

Montreal (AFP) - Canada is set to apologize and award millions of dollars of compensation to a former Guantanamo detainee who was captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15 and pleaded guilty to killing a US soldier, reports said Tuesday.

Omar Khadr will receive at least Can$10 million ($8 million US) from the federal government for the treatment he was subjected to during his captivity, according to reports in the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star which cited anonymous sources.

Khadr, a Canadian citizen, became the youngest prisoner at the US detention camp in Cuba following his capture from Afghanistan in 2002.

Canada's Supreme Court in 2010 ruled that his rights had been violated by Ottawa, which shared statements he made to Canadian officials with the United States.

While at Guantanamo, he was sentenced in 2010 to eight years plus time already served for murdering a US soldier with a grenade, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and spying.

He won the right to be extradited and was sent home to Canada in 2012 to serve the remainder of his sentence.

His lawyers fought for several years to have his status as a minor at the time of the attack recognized. Canada's Supreme Court finally agreed one week before his conditional release in 2015.

His legal team was pursuing Can$20 million against the Canadian government because his rights as a prisoner were violated.

Public Safety Canada said the government was not in a position to provide additional information owing to the strictly confidential nature of the case.

"There is a judicial process underway that has been underway for a number of years now, and we are anticipating, like I think a number of people are, that that judicial process is coming to its conclusion," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ireland.

The ruling has precedent. In March, Ottawa apologized to three of its citizens who were tortured in Syria, allegedly with the indirect participation of Canadian officials.

The government said it had settled civil suits with three Canadian nationals -- Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin -- who were arrested and tortured in Syrian custody just after the 9/11 attacks and detained until 2004.

In a similar case, Canadian computer engineer Maher Arar was tortured in a Damascus prison in 2002, after he was transferred there by US officials based on a Canadian tip-off.

But Arar was later cleared of any suspicion by the Canadian authorities, and in January 2007 won an apology from then prime minister Stephen Harper and Can$10 million in compensation from the Canadian government.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Colombia's ELN rebels to release two Dutch journalists

Yahoo – AFP,  June 22, 2017

Colombian rebels formed the National Liberation Army (ELN) in 1964

Colombia's National Liberation Army admitted Thursday that it has detained two Dutch journalists and announced plans to free them, in the midst of talks for the country's last guerrillas to end more than five decades of fighting.

Derk Johannes Bolt, 62, and his cameraman Eugenio Ernest Marie Follender, 58, who were kidnapped Monday, "are in good health and will be released," the ELN rebels announced on one of their social media accounts.

The two men were stopped in El Tarra, a region in the Norte de Santander district near the Venezuela border.

In May 2016, ELN rebels kidnapped in the same region a Colombian-Spanish journalist and two Colombian TV reporters. The reporters were handed over to intermediaries a few days later.

Norte de Santander Governor William Villamizar said a humanitarian commission was mediation the journalists' release, which could happen as early as Thursday.

"We are indeed launching a humanitarian operation to allow the Dutch journalists to be delivered by the ELN in Catatumbo department," he told Blu Radio.

"The release does not affect the dialogue being carried out with the ELN."

On Tuesday, the government's chief negotiator with the guerrillas, Juan Camilo Restrepo, had warned that the latest kidnapping complicated negotiations with the ELN that began in February.

Villamizar said the military and the ELN had been asked to reduced their operations in the area "so as not to endanger the lives of the Dutch journalists" and in order for them to be moved and released in safe conditions.

The Dutch journalists work for Spoorloos, a program on Kro-Ncrv TV regularly presented by Bolt that helps Dutch people trace their biological relatives around the world.

Since launching in 1990, the program says it has received more than 1,000 requests every year for help.

The country's biggest rebel group, the FARC, is scheduled to complete its disarmament by June 27.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hawaiian canoe comes home after epic round-the-world odyssey

Yahoo – AFP, 18 June 2017

Hawaiian canoe comes home after epic round-the-world odyssey

Los Angeles (AFP) - A traditional double-hulled canoe has returned to Hawaii after concluding a three-year epic journey around the globe, the first trip of its kind by such a boat.

The Hokule'a vessel and its crew entered the marina at Honolulu's Magic Island peninsula on Saturday after sailing more than 40,000 nautical miles (74,000 kilometres) since its departure from the island of Oahu in 2014.

Large crowds gathered for the homecoming celebration to commemorate the end of the odyssey, which intended to "weave a lei of hope around the world through sharing indigenous wisdom, groundbreaking conservation and preservation initiatives," according to voyage organisers.

The goal was to use only ancient methods of wayfinding -- reading the stars, winds and waves -- to guide the journey, just as the first Polynesian settlers who reached the archipelago did hundreds of years ago.

The Hokule'a -- the Hawaiian name for "star of gladness" -- was the first traditional double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe built in 600 years, according to the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

The canoe's maiden voyage in 1976 was to Tahiti in French Polynesia.

Crews of some dozen people rotated at major ports of call throughout the round-the-world journey after undergoing training.

The homecoming celebration kicked off a three-day summit to celebrate the journey and discuss future sailing plans.

"Through her voyages, Hokule'a has sparked a reawakening of Hawaiian culture, language, identity and revitalised voyaging and navigation traditions throughout the Pacific Ocean," voyage organisers said.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Adviser to Brazil president arrested in corruption probe

Yahoo – AFP, June 3, 2017

Brazilian President Michel Temer is fighting calls for his impeachment as
prosecutors build a corruption and obstruction of justice case against
him (AFP Photo/Nelson Almeida)

Brasília (AFP) - A close adviser to Brazil's President Michel Temer was arrested in Brasilia on Saturday, police said, in the latest move in a corruption case that threatens to bring down his government.

Police filmed the aide, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, in March running from a Sao Paulo pizza restaurant parking lot to a taxi with a black suitcase containing 500,000 reais, about $152,500.

The judge who ordered Loures' incarceration is leading the Supreme Court's investigation into a sprawling pay-for-play corruption case at state oil giant Petrobras that already has swept up many in Brazil's political and business elite.

It now threatens to bring down Temer, who is fighting calls for his impeachment as prosecutors build a corruption and obstruction of justice case against him.

The president was drawn into the scandal last month with the release of an audio recording secretly made by an owner of the world's largest meatpacking company, Joesley Batista, at a late night March 7 meeting with Temer at his residence.

In the recording, which Temer says has been tampered with, the president allegedly gives the OK for payments to buy the silence of a politician imprisoned in the Petrobras scandal, Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the lower house.

Batista turned over the audio recording to prosecutors, and said Temer had designated Loures to receive bribes in return for favors to the company.

Shortly after the Temer-Batista meeting, police filmed Loures with the bag full of money, which allegedly came from a contact at Batista's JBS meatpacking company.

The scene has been played repeatedly on Brazilian television.

Temer has staunchly defended Loures and did so again in an interview published Saturday in the Veja news magazine.

Loures may have been "the victim of a trap," Temer said, describing the former congressman as "a very intelligent person, very capable, of a very prestigious family ... who doesn't need money. He truly was a trusted adviser."

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