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. …

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peru election

The Jakarta Post, The Associated Press, Lima | Wed, 06/01/2011

Presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, of the political party Fuerza 2011,
speaks during a campaign rally in Piura, Peru, Tuesday (Wednesday, Jakarta
time). Fujimori will compete in a June 5 runoff against former military officer
Ollanta Humala.
(AP/Silvia Izquierdo)

Germany to lead in green energy with nuclear shutdown: Merkel


German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives the report of the
so-called Ethics Commission for a Secure Energy Supply
from former German Environment Minister Klaus Toepfer (L) and
Matthias Kleiner, president of the German Research Foundation DFG
in Berlin May 30, 2011.
(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)


BERLIN, May 30 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that Germany could set an example in achieving a transition to efficient and renewable energies, after her government decided to close all 17 nuclear power plants in the country by 2022.

"We believe that we, as a country, can be a pioneer for a new age of renewable energy sources," Merkel said at a press conference hours after her coalition government drew up a nuclear phase-out timetable.

According to the ambitious plan, Germany's seven oldest reactors, which are taken off the grid following Japan's Fukushima disaster, will not be wakened up any time. The Kruemmel plant, which has been offline for years due to technical problems, will also be abandoned forever.

However, one of these old plants will be kept on "standby" from 2013, in case of possible electricity shortages. Another six plants will be closed by the end of 2021 and the three newest will remain operational until 2022.

The plan, which needs parliament approval, labeled Germany as the first major industrialized nation set to entirely abandon the atomic energy.

Germany could show to the world how a developed economy can achieve "such a transformation toward efficient and renewable energies, with all the opportunities that it has, for exports, development, new technologies and jobs," Merkel said.

"We will need a new architecture for our energy production," she added, acknowledging that Germany has to explore new sources for the vacancy left by the outgoing nuclear power, which currently accounts for 22 percent of the country's electricity production.

On Monday, the Federation of German Industry (BDI) expressed its worries, saying that the shutdown would force Germany to build more coal and gas power plants to stabilize the energy supply and price. As a result, it would lead to more greenhouse gas emissions.

"We don't only hope to give up nuclear energy by 2022, but also to reduce our CO2 emissions by 40 percent and double our share of renewable energies, from about 17 percent today to then 35 percent, " Merkel said.

Monday's decision was also seen as a return to the policy made by a previous Social Democrat-Green coalition government a decade ago. Last year, Merkel's coalition managed to extend the lifespan of nuclear power plants to around 2035, which was opposed by the majority of Germans and sparked rounds of protests afterwards.

Germany's anti-nuclear moods intensified after Japan's nuclear crisis starting in March. Merkel and her Christian Democrats had to change their pro-nuclear stance after suffering painful defeats in several local elections, including the one in Baden- Wuerttemberg, traditionally a stronghold for the conservatives.

Editor: yan

Monday, May 30, 2011

PSSC leaders show Dutch their gratitude

RNW, 30 May 2011

Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Affairs René Castro visited The Hague Monday to thank the Dutch government for its role in developing the Partners in South-South Cooperation (PSSC). The initiative was established in 2002 between Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica with financial support from the Netherlands.

Under the PSSC, farmers, entrepreneurs and scientists share their knowledge and experience in 36 projects. For example, Bhutan farmers teach their Costa Rican counterparts how to grow red rice while Costa Ricangardeners give lessons in Benin about cultivating organic produce.

Representatives from the governments of Benin and Bhutan, NGO Cordaid, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with Castro in The Hague to discuss the Dutch role in the PSSC. Whether the Netherlands should continue to offer financial support was a central point of discussion.

Participants stressed the role of the PSSC in setting a positive example for other countries. The programme’s main objective is to promote inter-cooperation rather than encourage poor countries to seek financial aid from rich countries.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Costa Rica police seize over a ton of cocaine in 9 days

Antara News, Sun, May 29 2011

San Jose (ANTARA News/AFP) - Costa Rican police seized 178 kilograms (392 pounds) of cocaine near the Pacific coast, bringing to over a ton the total snatched in the past nine days, the Public Security Ministry said Saturday.

The shipment, captured on Friday, was found in a farm vehicle pulled over during a routine inspection in Rio Claro de Golfito, about 350 kilometers (210 miles) southwest of the capital, the government said in a statement.

Police said 178 one-kilogram (2.2-pound) packages were found.

Costa Rican authorities intercepted a shipment of 560 kilogram (1,232 pounds) of cocaine Tuesday on the border town of La Cruz de Guanacaste, as it was about to enter Nicaragua.

On May 18, a cache of 378 kilogram (731 pounds) was discovered in Miramar de Puntarenas, some 110 kilometers (66 miles) north of San Jose.

Police say they have seized a total of 1,116 kilos (2,455 pounds) of cocaine in the past nine days.

Editor: B Kunto Wibisono

Like many before, Amazon activists silenced by gun

The Jakarta Post, Bradley Brooks, Associated Press, Sao Paolo | Sat, 05/28/2011

They watched as the Amazon rain forest fell around them. Instead of staying quiet, as so many people in the lawless region do, environmentalist leader Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria, fought back.

They reported illegal loggers to police and federal prosecutors. They confronted powerful interests that destroy the forest for the quick economic gains to be made from selling timber, or from clearing land to raise cattle or soybeans.

This week, like so many Amazon activists before them, the Silvas were gunned down.

They were killed Tuesday near the sustainable reserve on government-ceded land were they led about 300 families working the forest in the Amazon state of Para, one of Brazil's most violent and lawless. Federal police said Friday that they were investigating, but had not made any arrests.

Authorities say there is little doubt the couple were assassinated for their work. They faced numerous death threats, nothing was stolen off their bodies and Silva's ear was cut off, likely as proof that he was dead.

Two more names were tacked onto an ever-growing list of more than 1,150 rural activists who have been slain in land conflicts across Brazil in the past 20 years, murders mostly carried out by gunmen hired by loggers, ranchers and farmers to silence those who protest illegal cutting in the forest.

So many die because so few face punishment.

Of all those killings, fewer than 100 cases have gone to court. About 80 hired gunmen have been convicted. Only 15 or so of the people who have ordered killings faced charges. And just one of them one is known to be in prison.

Impunity rules among the 23 million people spread across the vast Amazon because Brazil's judicial system is weak and corruption among local officials is endemic, activists and federal prosecutors say.

It's a big hurdle for the Brazilian government's efforts to preserve a rain forest the size of the U.S. west of the Mississippi River. More than 20 percent of the forest already has been cut down. On the same day that Silva and his wife were slain, Brazil's lower house of Congress passed a bill that would weaken the nation's cornerstone environmental laws, changes that environmentalists fear will lead to more destruction if the measure passes the Senate.

Those on the ground in the Amazon say that until the violence stops, the forest will keep falling, because most people in a position to denounce illegal clearing keep quiet out of fear.

Threats against anyone who stands in the way of those who want to clear the Amazon are so routine, the Catholic Land Pastoral watchdog group keeps a running list of activists whose lives have been threatened.

Silva, who publicly predicted his own death just six months ago, was on the list, along with 124 other environmentalists.

"The impunity for killing us is getting worse by the day," said Leonora Brunetto, a 65-year-old Roman Catholic nun and activist in the Amazon who is on the death-threat list. "We can cry out, denounce what is happening to the forest, but it continues. I see no end o it."

Activists like Brunetto can be guarded by police, if they request it and if the threats against them are deemed real. She briefly took advantage of the protection years ago, but realized she was safer among the poor, small-scale farmers she counsels.

"You have no way of knowing if the policema who is guarding you today will be bought off tomorrow by the same forces that hire the gunmen who kill Amazon defenders," she said.

Brunetto, like many activists, leads a cloak and dagger life, rarely sleeping in the same place on consecutive nights. She travels furtively, frequently changing from car totruck to car, handed off like a sacred baton from one poor farmer to the next, visiting jungle settlements across Mato Grosso and Para states.

During her decades of work, at least 15 of her close friends have been murdered in the Amazon, Brunetto said.

And, she said, there will be no security until theunderlying problem of land titles in the Amazon is settled. The lack of clear ownership in the region drives its violent conflicts - and much of the deforestation.

A report last year from the environmental watchdog group Imazon said that on average, proper titles are held for only 4 percent of the land inthe states that comprise Brazil's Amazon, excluding federally protected zones. Nearly 45 percent of the Amazon lies within protected zones, but even those are encroached upon illegally.

The result is that loggers, for instance, can simply claim huge chunks of land with the power of a gun and authorities hae little way of knowing who is responsible for the destruction left behind by clear-cutting of trees.

Two years ago the government started an aggressive campaign to register landowners in the Amazon. In its first year officials registered more than 74,000 plots totaling 20.7 million acres (8.4 million hecares), an area the size of Panama. But that still leaves more than 50 percent of the land unregistered.

While much of the Amazon remains up for grabs, those backed by guns will continue to kill activists who stand in their way, said Edson Souza, a federal prosecutor in Para state.

Souza last year put in prison rancher Vitalmiro Moura, one of the men found guilty of ordering the 2005 slaying of 73-year-old U.S. nun Dorothy Stang. Moura is the only person known to be in jail for ordering an activist killed.

Another rancher convicted of ordering the killing of Stang, who also was shot down in Para state, is free pending an appeal.

"The killing of Silva and his wife was what we call an 'announced death,"' Souza said. "You could see it coming. A couple fighting against illegal logging in this part of the Amazon are targets, sadly. There is too much money involved."

Silva and his wife pioneered the creation of the 54,300-acre (22,000-hectare) sustainable reserve where they were slain. The reserve specializes in the sustainable harvesting of Brazil nuts, which come from huge jungle trees.

Silva filed numerous complaints with local police and prosecutors about loggers illegally entering the reserve and chopping down trees for lucrative lumber.

He and his wife received many death threats, but they pushed on with the project.

Silva's sister Claudelice dos Santos said she has handed over to police a list of names of people she suspects killed the couple.

"We will march in protest against the killings and for the environmental cause," she told a local newspaper. "We are certain they were killed because of their environmental work."

While the killings are meant to spread fear among the activists who work in the Amazon, the nun Brunetto said each death, while unwelcome, strengthens her convictions.

"I'll keep fighting. It won't do to give up," she said. "These events wake more people up, they make people more conscious of what is at stake here."


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Friday, May 27, 2011

Colombia identifies almost 10,000 bodies in unmarked graves

At least another 10,000 to be identified in search for victims of decades-long conflict

guardian.co.uk, Associated Press, Friday 27 May 2011


Fighting between Colombian rightwing paramilitaries (above), leftist
guerillas and government forces has been blamed for the deaths of
tens of thousands of civilians. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

The Colombian government has identified the remains of almost 10,000 people buried in unmarked graves across the country, and at least that many more bodies are still to be identified, an official said.

The interior minister, German Vargas Lleras, said it was "fundamental for advancing legal human rights proceedings" to identify the remains. Many of the bodies are suspected of being victims of the decades-long conflict between leftist guerrillas, rightwing militias and government security forces.

The process of identifying remains found in unmarked graves was carried out over the past five months by comparing fingerprints taken from bodies at morgues with data from the national registry, the agency that issues identity documents. Doing this enabled the identification of 9,969 people: 8,810 men and 1,159 women.

Politician Iván Cepeda said bodies in at least 10,000 more graves could not be identified because they were minors, lacked identity documents or their fingerprints were not taken properly.

Identified bodies would be exhumed from the graves and returned to their families, if they were claimed.

Each morgue in Colombia would have an attention centre and information would be posted on the website of the Legal Medicine Institute to help families recover the bodies of loved ones, Cepeda said.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cuban blogger pays price for her opinions

Deutsche Welle, May 26, 2011

Yoani Sanchez is Cuba's most
famous blogger
Cuban native Yoani Sanchez isn't known for holding her tongue, even in a country without freedom of expression. Her outspokenness has earned her the label of "mercenary of imperialism" and around-the-clock surveillance.

There are some lessons we learn without needing a teacher. They're the lessons that get passed on through whispers at home.

It's thanks to these kinds of lessons that I realized, even as a young person in the 80s, that we Cubans would only be allowed to have a voice as a state-organized group. We had to be members of an official organization or face punishment. Forming our our own groups or clubs was out of the question. It's a lesson we learned and learned well.

As children we were automatically part of the Young Pioneers and when girls turned 14 they became members of the Women's Club. The neighbors went to the meeting for the Committee to Protect the Revolution and workers were part of the national union. There was an organization for students and another for farmers.

All of our names showed up on the memberships lists for any number of state organizations. But none of them allowed us to determine how things were run, or organized. Instead, they were designed to instill order - from the top down.


Members of the Cuban dissident group "Ladies in White" demonstrate
in Havana

A desire to integrate

As a girl, I was impressed by the annual celebrations marking the Cuban revolution. All of the big organizations were called to the Plaza de la Revolución where at some point, the crowd would begin singing song with names like "Cuba, yes! Yankees, no!" and "Fidel knows how to send the Yankees to hell."

Every time you applied for a job, for a spot at a university or for the right to buy a house, you had to fill out a long form. But all the questions really boiled down to one: Which state organizations do you belong to?

The most important ones - the Communist Party and the Union of Young Communists - were at the top of the list. Now when I think back to how I automatically checked the boxes with abbreviations like OPJM, CDR and FMC, it all seems so silly. I was like a machine, a so-called "integrated citizen" – a "normal revolutionary."

The truth comes to light

I can't remember the exact moment when I suddenly felt the desire to speak my mind and let my opinions be heard, the moment when I wanted to say things that differed from the ubiquitous slogans, when I wanted to belong to groups that truly had shared interests.

Screen shot of Sanchez' blog
"Generacion Y"
But what I do remember is that my problems started as soon as I started speaking my mind. I was at university and published a magazine titled "Letter for Letter."

It was an alternative publication made up of poetry, personal essays and prose. At some point I was summoned to the university dean's office. He told me I couldn't hand out "that stuff" to students anymore.

Even after this run-in, I still believed the state's stories: "Political prisoners are in jail in Cuba because they are agents of imperialism."

The truth finally came out during the "Black Spring" in 2003. Within two weeks, 75 people who were critical of the regime were taken into custody and sentenced to between 15 and 28 years in prison - all for speaking their mind and organizing meetings not sponsored by the state.

I knew some of those people and what they had at their disposal: typewriters, tape recorders, words.

The state strikes back

It wasn't long after that I myself was labeled a "mercenary of imperialism" for having the audacity to put my blog, "Generation Y," online. I used the blog to write about everyday things I noticed in the world around me.

Sanchez in her home in Havana
The simple fact that I published my opinions and pointed out that all these organizations did more to control rather than represent us carried serious consequences. Even now, I can't leave the country. The state is seeking revenge because I contradicted it. People follow me on the street, watching my every move. My telephone has been tapped.

Opinions are not crimes

I stopped parroting the government's slogans years ago and I no longer belong to any official organizations. I am a free citizen, a free radical. My blog, my political platform, consists of a single demand: the diversity of opinion can no longer be a crime!

But we in Cuba are still far from reaching this goal. Regardless of the slight opening up that has taken place, criticism remains unwelcome - whether it's questioning a minister's management or a school's curriculum.

In Cuba, since the government makes it impossible to start something as banal as a fan club for salamanders, there's no chance anyone is going to found a new political party anytime soon.



Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez writes the blog "Generacion Y," which deals mainly with the difficult conditions Cubans face in their daily lives. The 35-year-old philologist lives in Havana.

Author: Yoani Sanchez / sms
Editor: Kyle James

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brazil sex education material suspended by President

BBC News, 25 May 2011

Related Stories

President Dilma Rousseff has suspended the distribution and production of sex education films for schools in Brazil.

Gay rights campaigners expressed
concern about the ban on the films
President Rousseff believes the footage is not suitable for youngsters.

The education packs contain gay and lesbian video scenes and are supposed to combat homophobia.

However, evangelical church groups and their allies in Congress threatened to block any upcoming legislation unless President Rousseff halted the films.

'Anti-homophobia kits'

A government spokesman said President Rousseff had viewed the material personally and decided to suspend its distribution.

"She didn't like what she saw," Gilberto Carvalho said.

He said President Rousseff was unhappy with the footage and believed it did not offer an objective picture of homosexuality.

The "anti-homophobia kits", as they are known in Brazil, were about to be rolled out by Brazil's ministry of health and the ministry of education.

Several members of Brazil's chamber of deputies with strong evangelic Christian beliefs said the sex education packs encouraged homosexual behaviour.

Gay and lesbian rights campaigners have expressed serious concerns.

A leading rights campaigner and congressman, Jean Wyllys, said the decision called into question President Rousseff's commitment to human rights.

"I voted for her in the last elections," he said, "because I thought she would defend the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens."

"If she doesn't do a U-turn and change her mind, I will urge all gay people not to vote for her again."

Related Articles:

About the Challenges of Being a Gay Man – Oct 23, 2010 (Saint Germain channeled by Alexandra Mahlimay and Dan Bennack) - “You see, your Soul and Creator are not concerned with any perspective you have that contradicts the reality of your Divinity – whether this be your gender, your sexual preference, your nationality – or your race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or anything else.”

Colombia: Law for victims passed by Senate

BBC News, 25 May 2011

Related Stories

Colombia's Senate has approved a law to compensate victims of the country's long-running civil conflict and return land to millions of displaced people.

Indigenous communities have suffered some
of the worst violence
President Juan Manuel Santos hailed the law as "historic" in a Twitter message.

One of the aims is to return land to up to four million people forced from their homes by rebels, paramilitaries and traffickers.

However, implementing the law will be a huge challenge and officials estimate it may take a decade to restore land.

For more than 40 years, Colombia has seen fighting and violence by guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug gangs, and the security forces.

This led to Colombia having one of the largest populations of internally displaced people, officially put at 3.4 million by the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR.

The conflict has lessened in recent years but the process of giving financial compensation to victims and returning land to people will be a huge logistical task.

Moves to restore land are already under way but illegal armed groups have tried to undermine the process.

Several local leaders who campaigned for their communities to return to their land have been killed in recent months, rights groups say.

The law stipulates that those who qualify for compensation are the victims of "armed conflict", thereby differentiating them from the victims of common crime.

Mr Santos's predecessor as president, Alvaro Uribe, fiercely resisted this wording, arguing that it equated the state's actions with those of the illegal armed groups.

As a result, the law does not describe the armed groups as belligerents but as "terrorists", with the armed forces able to pursue them in defence of Colombian society.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brazilian Amazon activist and wife ambushed and killed

BBC News, 25 May 2011

Related Stories 

A prominent Brazilian conservationist and his wife have been killed in the Amazon region, police have said.

The government is debating changes to the
existing Forest Code
They said Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo were ambushed in Para state, near the city of Maraba.

The environmentalist had repeatedly warned of death threats against him by loggers and cattle ranchers.

The government has ordered an immediate investigation and promised to catch those responsible for their deaths.

The bodies of the couple were found inside the nature reserve, Praialta-Piranheira, where they had been working for the past 24 years.

According to family and friends, the pair had been subjected to numerous threats in the past two years for their environmental activism.

They made a living with eco-friendly cultivation of nuts, fruit and rubber.

News of the deaths came just hours before Brazil's chamber of deputies began debating changes to the existing Forest Code.

The legislation, first enacted in 1934 and subsequently amended in 1965, sets out how much of his land a farmer can deforest.

Regulations currently require that 80% of a landholding in the Amazon remain forest, 20% in other areas.

Proponents of change say the law impedes economic development and contend that Brazil must open more land for agriculture.

However, opponents fear that in their current form some of the proposed changes might give farmers a form of amnesty for deforested land.

U.S. sanctions Venezuela's oil giant for Iran trade

Reuters, by Andrew Quinn, WASHINGTON | Tue May 24, 2011

PDVSA's El Palito refinery is seen in Puerto Cabello, 150 miles (241 km)
west of Caracas, September 23, 2009. The banner reads: ''Venezuela
now belongs to all''. (Credit: Reuters/Edwin Montilva)

(Reuters) - The United States took aim at Venezuela's state oil giant on Tuesday in its latest effort to disrupt Iran's fuel supplies, threatening to provoke a fierce response from anti-American President Hugo Chavez.

The U.S. sanctions against PDVSA, Venezuela's state oil company, for engaging in trade with Iran are narrowly targeted, and will not affect the company's vast sales of oil to the United States or the activities of its subsidiaries including U.S.-based CITGO.

Nonetheless, the U.S. move against PDVSA and six other oil and shipping companies was a diplomatic escalation as Washington tries to further stifle Iran's energy sector and convince it to abandon a suspected nuclear weapons program.

PDVSA would be barred from access to U.S. government contracts and import/export financing, and the move marks a significant shot across the bow of Chavez, a frequent and vocal critic of Washington who has in the past threatened to cut off oil supplies to the United States.

PDVSA is one of the top five crude oil suppliers to the United States and Venezuela supplies about 10 percent of U.S. crude imports.

There was no immediate reaction from Chavez.

"By imposing these sanctions we're sending a clear message to companies around the world: those who continue to irresponsibly support Iran's energy sector or help facilitate Iran's efforts to evade U.S. sanctions will face significant consequences," Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told a news briefing.

The U.S. measures were aimed at squeezing Iran's gasoline supplies, he said.

Other companies covered by the new U.S. sanctions include PCCI, the Royal Oyster Group and Speedy Ship of the United Arab Emirates, Tanker Pacific of Singapore, Ofer Brothers Group of Israel and Associated Shipbroking of Monaco, as well as PDVSA.

'UNWILLINGNESS TO BREAK ITS TIES'

Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the sanctions on PDVSA were a result of Venezuela's "unwillingness to break its ties with terrorist organizations and countries that support them."

The U.S. move could put Chavez in a bind despite the temptation to impose retaliatory measures, according to Simon Wardell, director of oil markets at IHS Global Insight.

"Ultimately I don't think Chavez will be able to do much about the sanctions. He might talk a lot and make a lot of noise but will continue to sell crude to the United States," Wardell said.

Steinberg said the main objective of the sanctions was to encourage Tehran to engage in real negotiations with the major powers over its nuclear program, which western nations and Israel fear is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

He said the sanctions would be calibrated differently for each targeted firm. In some cases they were intended to shut down the company's operations, while in others they simply impose new restrictions.

"All these companies have engaged in activities related to the supply of refined petroleum products to Iran," he said.

Venezuela, which in the past has been the largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the United States, has seen its U.S.-bound shipments shrink in recent years as its production falls and as the South American country, home to the largest known oil reserves outside the Middle East, ships more of its oil to other destinations including China.

The United States remains the largest oil trade partner to Venezuela, which shipped an average of 987,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the United States last year, down from 1.06 million bpd in 2009, according to U.S. data.

In 2009, Venezuela said that PDVSA planned to supply Iran with up to 20,000 barrels per day of gasoline, in an effort to help its import-dependent political ally.

Later, in 2010, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said PDVSA had halted supplies of fuel to Iran after the country resolved its fuel shortages. However, bills of lading suggest that PDVSA continued to ship some fuel to Iran from its refinery and oil storage facilities on the Caribbean island of Curacao.

To try to get Tehran to drop its nuclear work, the U.S. Congress passed sanctions last year targeting Iran's energy and banking sectors by threatening to penalize foreign companies that do business with Iran.

As a result, major oil companies have halted business with Iran, which is dependent on gasoline imports due to a lack of refining capacity.

The U.S. prohibitions are separate from U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Those sanctions do not include a ban on gasoline sales.

Steinberg said Iran's response to the latest offer of nuclear talks was inadequate and that the United States and its allies would continue to increase pressure, although there has been little sign that Tehran is willing to change its posture.

Steinberg said the United States was imposing additional sanctions on 16 companies and individuals for activities related to proliferation of technologies related to nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction as well as cruise and ballistic missiles.

Most of the companies and individuals -- based in China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Belarus -- were sanctioned due to dealings with Iran, Steinberg said. The new U.S. move will exclude them from U.S. government contracts, bar certain weapons sales and impose other restrictions.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Arshad Mohammed, Matt Robinson, Joshua Schneyer and David Sheppard; Editing by John O'Callaghan, Warren Strobel and Vicki Allen)

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Colombian security forces seize massive cocaine haul

BBC New, 23 May 2011

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The Colombian security forces say they have seized a massive haul of cocaine in the port city of Cartagena.

Police say the cocaine was from Valle del Cauca
and was destined for Mexico
Sniffer dogs found more than 12 tonnes of the drug hidden in a shipment of brown sugar destined for Mexico.

It is believed to belong to one of Colombia's most powerful drug gangs, the Rastrojos.

The Colombian government recently declared criminal gangs its new enemy and promised to devote more resources to the fight against them.

Sniffer dogs checking a ship bound for Mexico alerted their handlers to the presence of drugs in the hull of the vessel.

Laboratory tests revealed a large shipment of brown sugar had been laced with cocaine.

Investigative teams are still testing the 33,450 units of 500g of sugar to determine the exact concentration of cocaine, but officials say it already amounts to more than 12 tonnes of the drug.

It is one of largest hauls of cocaine seized in Colombia over the past years.

'New enemy'

Police said it came from the Valle del Cauca region, in the south-west of Colombia.

The area is the stronghold of the Rastrojos, a drug gang which exports large amounts of cocaine to Central America and Mexico.

In January, Defence Minister Rodrigo Rivera told Colombian news magazine Semana drug gangs were increasingly taking control of drug-trafficking networks from Colombia's left-wing Farc guerrillas.

Chile prepares to exhume ex-President Salvador Allende

BBC News, 23 May 2011

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The remains of Chile's former President Salvador Allende are due to be exhumed in bid to determine whether the former leader killed himself or was murdered.

Salvador Allende was elected
president in 1970
The official version is that Allende shot himself in the presidential palace as General Augusto Pinochet's forces closed in on him during the 1973 coup.

But as his death was never formally investigated, some believe the military killed him and covered up the crime.

The coup led to 17 years of military rule under Gen Pinochet.

More than 3,000 political opponents were killed or "disappeared" by the military and thousands more were imprisoned and tortured.

The Allende case is one of 726 alleged rights abuses that investigators are looking into.

With the Allende family's blessing, a judge has set up a panel of Chilean and foreign forensic experts that will try to clarify the circumstances surrounding his death.

The exhumation is due to begin on Monday morning local time (at about 1100GMT).

Bitter memories

Allende's body was found in the presidential palace after the building had been attacked by troops and planes.

An official post-mortem report found he committed suicide using a rifle given to him by his friend, Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Allende's doctor confirmed that conclusion and it was accepted by his family.

But some of his supporters continue to believe he was killed by soldiers.

Pinochet's forces attacked the palace from
ground and air
Allende, who was 65, died in La Moneda presidential palace on 11 September 1973 as it was being bombed by air force jets and attacked by soldiers.

The planned exhumation has stirred bitter memories in Chile, a country still scarred by the coup and the 17-year dictatorship that followed it, says the BBC's Chile correspondent Gideon Long.

For some, Mr Allende was a reckless Marxist, intent on turning Chile into another Cuba, our correspondent says, while for others, he was a democratic Socialist cut down in his prime by General Pinochet's forces.