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.)

Map of Latin America showing countries where major protests have occurred in recent months (AFP Photo)
A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

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. …

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Passports and war driving pregnant Russians to give birth in Argentina

Yahoo – AFP, Philippe BERNES-LASSERRE, 16 February 2023 

When migration officials detained six pregnant Russian women at a Buenos Aires airport last week, they exposed a phenomenon that has been growing in the country for a year: Russian birthing tourism. 

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin wages war in Ukraine, Argentina has gradually become the destination of choice for Russian expectant parents fleeing the threat of conscription and seeking new passports in the South American country. 

Pregnant Russian women and couples with a newborn baby have become increasingly visible in Buenos Aires over the last year, whether in cafes, parks, or buses, but especially in private clinics. 

The case of the six detained women sent alarm bells ringing at the Directorate of Migrations, worried that something underhand was afoot. 

The six heavily-pregnant women -- who traveled separately and were detained for only a few hours over two days -- had tourist visas but no return tickets and were unable to give any details about what they planned to visit. 

Authorities were worried criminal gangs were involved but in truth, the Russians just wanted to give birth in the country. 

Argentina's quality medical facilities and the ease with which nationality is obtained are part of the draw. 

'I want my son to live' 

But many are driven by fear that one day their children could be conscripted into the army and sent to wage a bloody war, like Putin is doing in Ukraine with the current generation. 

"Some 90 percent of the women who come are looking for a better future," interpreter Elena Shkitenkova, who has lived in Argentina for 20 years and helps expectant mothers in their administrative processes, told AFP. 

"There have been cases of women that when they have discovered they are expecting a boy, they decided to come to Argentina." 

The South American country bestows nationality on anyone born in Argentina, meaning those Russian boys born here would be able to avoid any eventual conscription when they become men. 

"They tell me: 'I want my son to live, I want peace for my son, I want a better future'," added Shkitenkova. 

The parents too are desperate to escape the war. 

"The war in Ukraine influenced our decision to come to Argentina, although that was not the only reason," Elena, 32, a mother of three girls who did not give her surname, told AFP. 

"It is certain that if we had stayed in Russia, my husband probably would have been conscripted," she added. 

The parents of Argentine babies are afforded residency rights and an accelerated process to apply for citizenship. 

Elena's youngest daughter, Severina, was born in Buenos Aires in May. 

"We want to stay here and assimilate. Our residency application is in progress," she said. 

At the Sanatorio Finochietto clinic, there is a noticeable presence of Russian families and pregnant women. 

Guillermo Capuya, who is in charge of the clinic's institutional relations, says the arrival of pregnant Russians "began very slowly" about a year ago, around the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

"We did not imagine it would become a phenomenon, but in the last quarter it started to increase exponentially" to the point that in December a quarter of the 200 births in the clinic were to Russian mothers. 

'It's an avalanche' 

Most of the Russians do not speak Spanish and almost none have ever visited Argentina before. 

But what is happening now "is an avalanche," said Florencia Carignano, the migration agency director. 

They mostly arrive on flights from Amsterdam, Istanbul and Addis Ababa. 

Carignano says there are 14 or 15 pregnant Russians on each of those flights. 

More than 5,800 have arrived in the last three months. 

There is nothing new about Russians seeking dual nationality for their children, a man who created an agency to help expectant parents in Argentina told AFP under condition of anonymity. 

Before, the preferred destination was the United States. 

The "package" deal for giving birth in Argentina can cost up to $15,000, he said. 

"If you have a bit of money and are able to have your child born outside Russia, you will do it. It's easy to acquire Argentine citizenship and you get treated a lot better than with the red Russian passport," he said. 

According to the federal police, some networks charge up to $35,000 for birthing tourism. 

Authorities are worried mafia organizations could be trying to get access to Argentine passports. 

Police conducted a raid in Buenos Aires last week, seizing telephones, documents and several currencies, although no arrests were made. 

The Argentine passport allows you to travel to 175 countries without a visa, around 50 more than with a Russian passport.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Cuban voters back liberalized family code

Yahoo – AFP, September 26, 2022 

Cubans voted to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption as well as surrogate pregnancies in a referendum over the weekend, the communist country's electoral officials said Monday. 

Preliminary results indicate an "irreversible trend," with 66 percent of votes counted so far in favor of the government-backed change, electoral council president Alina Balseiro said on state television. 

"The Family Code has been ratified by the people," she said. 

The updated code represents a major shift in a country where machismo is strong and where the authorities sent LGBTQ people to militarized labor camps in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Official attitudes have since evolved, and the government conducted an intense media campaign in favor of the overhaul, which will replace the country's 1975 Family Code. 

The new code permits surrogate pregnancies, as long as no money changes hands, while boosting the rights of children, the elderly and the disabled. 

It defines marriage as the union between two people, rather than that of a man and a woman. 

According to the National Electoral Council, about 68 percent of Cuba's 8.4 million eligible voters had cast a ballot by 5:00 pm (2100 GMT) Sunday night. 

The law required 50 percent voter approval to be adopted. 

The referendum came amid the country's worst economic crisis in 30 years and some predicted the vote could provide an opportunity to voice opposition to the government, with dissidents calling on citizens to reject the code or to abstain.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Tourists return but Easter Islanders draw lessons from Covid isolation

RTL – AFP, 10 August 2022

Easter Island's giant human moai statues were carved by the indigneous
Rapa Nui people some time between 1200 and 1500 AD / © AFP

During more than two years of the coronavirus pandemic, Easter Island was closed to tourism -- forcing inhabitants to turn to a more sustainable way of life and relearn forgotten skills. 

Now that the island's borders are open once again, local people, including the Rapa Nui indigenous population, want to resist the temptation to return to their pre-pandemic lifestyle. 

"The time has come that the ancients predicted," Julio Hotus, a member of the Easter Island council of elders, told AFP. 

Hotus said the Rapa Nui people's ancestors had warned about the importance of maintaining food independence because of the risk the island faced of one day becoming isolated, but that recent generations had ignored the warnings. 

Before the pandemic, the island's food supply was almost exclusively provided by Chile. 

Easter Island lies 3,500 kilometers (2,100 miles) off the west coast of Chile and is world renown for its monumental statues of human figures with giant heads, called moai. 

With a population of just 8,000, it used to attract 160,000 tourists a year -- "an avalanche" according to Hotus -- but in March 2020 Easter Island closed its borders over Covid. 

No tourists, no income 

Olga Ickapakarati used to sell small stone moai figurines to tourists but once she was left without an income, she turned to agriculture and fishing to survive, just as her ancestors had lived before contact with European explorers. 

Easter Islanders pay their respects to the Mother Earth outside the island's
airport ahead of the arrival of the first tourists in 28 months / © AFP

"We were all left with nothing, we were left in the wind .... but we began planting," Ickapakarati told AFP. 

She took advantage of a program that delivered seeds before the island was shut off from the outside world. 

Ickapakarati planted spinach, beets, cilantro, chard, celery, basil, pineapple, oregano and tomatoes. 

What she didn't eat, she shared with neighbors, just as many families did in creating an island-wide support network. 

"All the islanders are like this. They have good hearts. If I see that I have a surplus of something, I give it to another family," said Ickapakarati, who lives with her children and grandchildren. 

This new focus on sustainable living does not mean an end to tourism on Easter Island. 

Last week, the first airplane of tourists for 28 months landed on the island, to much excitement from the locals desperate to see new faces. 

But there will be no immediate return to the two flights a day of yesteryear. There will be just two a week for now, although the number will gradually increase. 

Large hotel chains have decided to stay closed.

 "We will continue with tourists, but I hope that the pandemic has taught a lesson that we can apply for the future," said Hotus. 

'Archeological heritage at risk' 

Another thing the pandemic did was to create awareness of the necessity to look after natural resources affected by climate change, such as water and energy. And also the emblematic moais. 

Local Easter Island inhabitants like Olga Ickapakarati took to growing their own
 food during the pandemic as their tourism based income disappeared due to
the islands' borders being closed / © AFP

Carved from volcanic rock by the Polynesian Rapa Nui people between 1200 and 1500, there are more than 900 on the island, which measures 24 kilometers by 12 kilometers. 

The statues can measure up to 20 meters in height and weigh more than 80 tons. 

Most remain at the quarry where they were originally carved but many others were carted to coastal areas to look inland, presumably for ceremonial purposes. 

The moais have been damaged by heavy rainfall, strong winds and the ocean waves crashing against the statues and their bases, leading to fears for their future. 

"Climate change, with its extreme events, is putting our archeological heritage at risk," said Vairoa Ika, the local environment director. 

"The stone is degrading" and needs to be protected. 

"The problem with the moais is that they are very fragile," added Pedro Edmunds Paoa, the island's mayor, who says the statues' worth is "incalculable."

The iconic moais have turned Easter Island into a tourist destination but these
stone sculptures are at risk from the elements / © AFP

He said that authorities need to "forget about the tourist" vision and take protective measures, even if that means covering the statues "with glass domes", which would ruin not just the authentic view but also tourists' photographs. 

He also wants inhabitants to make maximum use of natural resources and to prioritize locals in employment, while resurrecting the ancestral practise of fostering community solidarity. 

"From now on the tourist must become a friend of the place, whereas before they were visiting foreigners," said Edmunds Paoa.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Sinkhole larger than tennis court has Chile perplexed

Yahoo – AFP, August 3, 2022 

Experts in Chile on Tuesday were investigating the appearance of an enormous sinkhole, bigger than a tennis court, that has appeared near a copper mine in the Atacama desert. 

Experts were dispatched to examine the hole, some 32 meters (104 feet) across and twice as deep, which appeared in an area about 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles) north of Santiago over the weekend, the National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin) said in a statement. 

A 100-meter security perimeter has been erected around the hole in the Tierra Amarilla municipality, near the Alcaparrosa mine operated by Canadian firm Lundin Mining. 

The company said in a statement there had been "no impact to personnel, equipment or infrastructure," and the sinkhole has remained stable since its detection. 

As a preventive measure, "development work in an area of the Alcaparrosa underground mine has been temporarily suspended," the company said. 

Sernageomin director David Montenegro said experts would seek to determine the cause of the collapse and "ensure that all safety measures are taken to safeguard the lives of workers and communities close to the site." 

Cristian Zuniga, mayor of the Tierra Amarilla municipality of some 13,000 inhabitants, told journalists the sinkhole was unprecedented. 

"We ask that the cause be clarified: whether the collapse is the product of mining activity or something else," he said. 

Chile is the world's largest copper producer, responsible for a quarter of global supply.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Prince William says people in ex-colonies must decide monarchy's role

MSN – AFP, 27 March 2022 

© CHANDAN KHANNA Prince William has said that the Caribbean's former British
colonies must decide whether to scrap the monarchy's role in their countries

Prince William ended a turbulent tour of the Caribbean by starkly admitting this weekend that the region's former British colonies must decide whether to scrap the monarchy's role in their countries. 

The 39-year-old Duke of Cambridge also hinted that a British royal may in future no longer head the club of 54 Commonwealth countries as the political association of ex-colonies evolves. 

The unusually candid comments, which were splashed on the front of several British newspapers Sunday, followed a rocky three-country Caribbean tour over the last week which drew both protests and criticism. 

William and his wife Catherine, 40, faced calls to apologise for the slave trade that helped make past British royals' fortunes, and accusations of appearing "tone deaf" over elements of the visit. 

They were also forced to confront the issue of former colonies considering whether to follow Barbados' lead and ditch the queen as their head of state. 

Barbados formally declared itself a republic in November. 

Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas -- all stops on the royal tour -- are each said to be mulling such a move. 

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness pointedly told William in front of television cameras that the nation was "moving on" as an independent country. 

"I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future," the Duke of Cambridge said in an end-of-tour statement Saturday. 

"In Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon."   

William added he and his wife "are committed to service" and that meant "not telling people what to do" but instead "serving and supporting them". 

'On my mind' 

The Commonwealth, a grouping of 54 mainly former British colonies, is headed by Queen Elizabeth II. 

In 2018, its leaders formally announced that her son and heir Prince Charles would inherit the role when he becomes king. 

But William, second-in-line to the throne, said that "who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn't what is on my mind". 

"What matters to us is the potential the Commonwealth family has to create a better future for the people who form it, and our commitment to serve and support as best we can," he added. 

The couple's Caribbean trip was intended to help Commonwealth countries where his 95-year-old grandmother is also head of state celebrate her record-breaking 70 years on the throne. 

But what were designed to be carefully choreographed photocalls and public appearances for Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee did not go entirely to plan. 

In Belize, they angered some locals after failing to consult on parts of their itinerary, while they then prompted placard-bearing protests in Jamaica. 

Demonstrators demanded the monarchy pay reparations and apologize for its role in the slave trade that brought hundreds of thousands of Africans to the island to toil under inhumane conditions. 

Meanwhile, some of the optics of the tour drew criticism for evoking colonial rule, including the couple greeting kids through metal chain-link fences and William parading in an open-topped jeep in military uniform.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Sealed with a kiss: Chile celebrates first same-sex weddings

Yahoo – AFP, March 10, 2022 

Jaime Nazar (L) and Javier Silva became the firs same-sex couple to legally
tie the knot in Chile (AFP/CLAUDIO REYES)

Two same-sex couples became the first Thursday to legally tie the knot in Chile, which joined a handful of countries in majority Catholic Latin America to allow LGBTQ couples to marry. 

Under a law approved by Congress in December and signed by outgoing President Sebastian Pinera, they can also now adopt children. 

"We never imagined we would experience this moment in Chile," Jaime Nazar, 39, declared proudly after marrying his partner of seven years Javier Silva, 38, in a Santiago suburb. 

The pair's two young children were there for the historic event. 

"Now, yes, we can say we are a family," said Silva. 

"Our children have the same conditions (as those of straight couples) and will have a better future without discrimination for having two dads who love each other," he added. 

Silva carried the couple's 18-month-old son in his arms, while Nazar bore their daughter of four months. 

The children are the product of surrogate pregnancies abroad that used the sperm of one of the couple. Until now, they had only one legally recognized father -- the biological donor. 

'Super proud' 

From 2015 until Thursday, same-sex couples wishing to formalize their relationship had only the option of civil union agreements, which confer most of the same rights that marriage does, but without the possibility of legal adoption. 

Jaime Nazar (L) and Javier Silva became the firs same-sex couple to legally tie
the knot in Chile (AFP/CLAUDIO REYES)

"This is a very important step for the country. We feel super proud, privileged to be here," said Nazar, who is a dentist. 

Consuelo Morales and Pabla Heuser, both 38, said they decided to get married mainly for their two-year-old daughter Josefa. 

"Today Josefa ceases to be an illegitimate daughter," said Morales. Heuser, who carried the child in her womb, had been the girl's sole legal parent until now. 

In total, three same-sex weddings took place in Chile Thursday -- the day the law took effect. 

It came on the eve of the swearing-in of leftist Gabriel Boric as Chile's youngest-ever president. 

Chile had been awaiting the passage of the marriage bill since then-president Michelle Bachelet sent it to Congress in 2017. 

In a surprise move, her conservative successor Pinera announced last year he would seek the urgent passage of the bill -- supported by a majority of Chileans -- through Congress. 

Pinera signed it into law just two days after lawmakers gave the green light ahead of presidential elections in which Boric and his far-right rival Jose Antonio Kast polled neck-and neck. 

Kast vehemently opposed broadening access to marriage rights, unlike Boric who supported the move. 

Chile is now one of 30 countries in the world that allow same-sex marriage, and seven in Latin America along with Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and some states in Mexico.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Chile congress approves same-sex marriage bill

France24–AFP, 7 December 2021

A demonstrator raises a clenched fist during a protest for abortion rights in
Santiago de Chile in September 2021 Pablo VERA AFP/File

Valparaíso (Chile) (AFP) – Chile's congress on Tuesday approved a long-awaited bill to legalize same-sex marriage, joining just a handful of countries in majority Catholic Latin America with similar laws. 

The measure has the support of President Sebastian Pinera, who must sign it into law, and will also enable married same-sex couples to adopt children. 

The bill got the green light from the upper house of congress, or senate, Tuesday, and was immediately given the final stamp of approval by the lower Chamber of Deputies with 82 votes to 20. 

There were two abstentions. 

In Latin America, same-sex couples could until now get married only in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina and in 14 of Mexico's 32 states. 

The country legalized same-sex civil unions in 2015, and has been eagerly awaiting the legalization of gay marriage since then-president Michelle Bachelet sent a bill to Congress in 2017. 

In a surprise move, her conservative successor, Pinera, announced in June he would seek the urgent passage of the bill -- which has the backing of a majority of Chileans -- through Congress. 

The project has been consistently opposed by the most conservative bloc of Chile's ruling right wing, but has nevertheless obtained a majority "yes" vote at every step of the process in an opposition-dominated congress. 

The issue deeply divides the two candidates headed for a presidential run-off on December 19. 

Gabriel Boric, 35, who represents a leftist alliance that includes the Communist Party, supported the bill and voted "yes" in his capacity as lawmaker. 

But 55-year-old, far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast, who won 28 percent of first-round votes compared to Boric's 26 percent, campaigned against it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

New republic Barbados names 'Diamond' Rihanna national hero

Yahoo – AFP, 30 November 2021 

Rihanna (with President Sandra Mason, L) was declared a national hero of
Barbados minutes after the island became the world's newst republic (AFP/WPA POOL.

As Barbados became the world's newest republic, its prime minister's first act was to officially declare the island's most famous citizen, Rihanna, a national hero. 

Barbados had already conferred the title of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary on the billionaire multiple Grammy-winning singer and businesswoman in 2018 and tasked her with encouraging education and tourism. 

The "Umbrella" songstress commanded "the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence with her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth," Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the assembled dignitaries at the "Pride of Nationhood" celebrations on Tuesday. 

"On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you the designee for national hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty," Mottley said, inviting the singer up to stand alongside her. 

"May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your words, by your actions, and to do credit, wherever you shall go," she said, with a nod to the singer's hit "Diamonds." 

Mottley paid tribute to the humble origins of Rihanna, who was born in Saint Michael and raised in the capital Bridgetown. 

Garfield Sobers, regarding as one of the greatest crickters of a
ll time, hugs fellow national hero Rihanna (AFP/JEFF J MITCHELL)

Rihanna, 33, grew up in a troubled home in Barbados and was propelled to fame after American producer Evan Rogers recognized her talents. 

The star parlayed her musical success into a make-up and fashion empire, with earnings that now dwarf those of other megastars such as Madonna and Beyonce. 

Forbes in August estimated she was worth $1.7 billion, around $1.4 billion of which comes from the value of her cosmetics company Fenty Beauty, a partnership with French fashion giant LVMH. 

Mottley said the government chose to honor Rihanna as the first national hero designated by the new republic as a "signal to the world." 

Rihanna joins a select group of 10 other Barbadians including Garfield Sobers, regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time and the only other living national hero. 

Sobers was also at the ceremony and hugged Rihanna. 

The title would be conferred on her Wednesday morning, the prime minister said. 

Rihanna was among many nominations for national hero submitted by the people of Barbados and Mottley said others would be named by National Heroes Day next year. 

The independence ceremony was closed to the general public amid a pandemic curfew, which was relaxed to allow Barbadians to enjoy festivities including fireworks displays. 

The guest of honor was Britain's Prince Charles, who acknowledged the "appalling atrocity of slavery" the island suffered under colonial rule.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Pollution turns Argentina lake bright pink

Yahoo –AFP, July 25, 2021 

An Argentina lagoon turned a bright pink color caused by sodium sulfite,
an anti-bacterial product used in fish factories

A lagoon in Argentina's southern Patagonia region has turned bright pink in a striking, but frightful phenomenon experts and activists blame on pollution by a chemical used to preserve prawns for export. 

The color is caused by sodium sulfite, an anti-bacterial product used in fish factories, whose waste is blamed for contaminating the Chubut river that feeds the Corfo lagoon and other water sources in the region, according to activists. 

Residents have long complained of foul smells and other environmental issues around the river and lagoon. 

"Those who should be in control are the ones who authorize the poisoning of people," environmental activist Pablo Lada told AFP, blaming the government for the mess. 

The lagoon turned pink last week and remained the abnormal color on Sunday, said Lada, who lives in the city of Trelew, not far from the lagoon and some 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) south of Buenos Aires. 

Environmental engineer and virologist Federico Restrepo told AFP the coloration was due to sodium sulfite in fish waste, which by law, should be treated before being dumped. 

The lagoon, which is not used for recreation, receives runoff from the Trelew industrial park and has turned the color of fuchsia before. 

The Corfo lagoon in Patagonia, which is not used for recreation, receives runoff
from the Trelew industrial park, and it is not the first time it has turned this unnatura; color

But residents of the area are fed up. 

In recent weeks, residents of Rawson, neighboring Trelew, blocked roads used by trucks carrying processed fish waste through their streets to treatment plants on the city's outskirts. 

"We get dozens of trucks daily, the residents are getting tired of it," said Lada. 

With Rawson off limits due to the protest, provincial authorities granted authorization for factories to dump their waste instead in the Corfo lagoon. 

"The reddish color does not cause damage and will disappear in a few days," environmental control chief for Chubut province, Juan Micheloud, told AFP last week. 

Sebastian de la Vallina, planning secretary for the city of Trelew disagreed: "It is not possible to minimize something so serious." 

Plants that process fish for export, mainly prawns and hake, generate thousands of jobs for Chubut province, home to some 600,000 people. 

Dozens of foreign fishing companies operate in the area in waters under Argentina's Atlantic jurisdiction. 

"Fish processing generates work... it's true. But these are multi-million-dollar profit companies that don't want to pay freight to take the waste to a treatment plant that already exists in Puerto Madryn, 35 miles away, or build a plant closer," said Lada.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

El Salvador first country to approve bitcoin as legal tender

Yahoo – AFP, Nayib Bukele, June 9, 2021 

The bitcoin law passed with the support of Bukele's allies despite minority
opposition parties -- which criticised the speed of the vote -- refusing to back it

Bitcoin is to become legal tender in El Salvador, the country's president said, making it the first nation to adopt a cryptocurrency for everyday use. 

Lawmakers in the Central American nation's Congress passed a bill late Tuesday that will eventually allow the famously volatile digital currency to be used for many aspects of daily life, from property purchases to tax contributions. 

"The #BitcoinLaw has just been approved by a qualified majority" in the legislative assembly, President Nayib Bukele tweeted after the vote late Tuesday. 

"History!" the president added. 

The 39-year-old leader said a majority of 62 out of 84 lawmakers approved the bill, which he proposed just last week. 

The law passed with the support of Bukele's allies despite minority opposition parties -- who had criticised the speed of the vote -- refusing to back it. 

Cryptocurrencies have soared in popularity due to their use as a store of value, the relative anonymity they offer users and wild price fluctuations that present opportunities for greater profits than investing on the regular stock exchanges of the world. 

The volatility of bitcoin -- currently priced at $33,814 -- and its murky legal status have raised questions about whether it could ever replace traditional currency in day-to-day transactions. 

But El Salvador -- a small nation where four out of 10 people live in poverty -- has turned to the top crypto asset that has been backed by billionaires like Elon Musk and large financial companies such as PayPal in a bid to boost its remittance-reliant economy. 

El Salvador's main currency is the US dollar and it remains unclear how the country plans to implement bitcoin as a functioning currency. 

El Salvador -- a small nation where four out of 10 people live in poverty -- 
has turned to the top crypto asset to boost its remittance-reliant economy

Yet the Salvadoran leader has hailed the virtual currency as "the fastest growing way to transfer" billions of dollars in remittances and to prevent millions from being lost to intermediaries. 

Remittances from Salvadorans working overseas represent a major chunk of the economy -- equivalent to roughly 22 percent of Gross Domestic Product. 

In 2020, remittances to the country totaled $5.9 billion, according to official reports. 

'On the world's radar' 

Before the vote, Bukele said adopting the cryptocurrency would bring "financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development" to the country. 

"This is a law that will put El Salvador on the world's radar, we will be more attractive for foreign investment," Romeo Auerbach, deputy of the Grand Alliance for National Unity party, an ally of Bukele, said. 

The cryptocurrency market grew to more than $2.5 trillion by the middle of last month, according to the Coinmarketcap page, driven by interest from increasingly serious investors from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. 

Between the beginning of 2020 and a peak in mid-April of $64,870, the price of bitcoin gained nearly 800 percent. 

But since then, the cryptocurrency has fallen in value by more than 50 percent. 

Its price has fallen sharply towards a symbolic $30,000 threshold it has not crossed since January, dragging other cryptocurrencies in its wake. 

After Tuesday's vote, the price jumped more than five percent.