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. …

Friday, December 30, 2011

Doomed teen Ben Breedlove shares life after death experiences on YouTube

Rawstory, by Agence France-Presse, Friday, December 30, 2011 

Ben Breedlove
CHICAGO — A week before Ben Breedlove died of a heart attack, the Texas teenager posted a remarkable video describing the peace and bright lights he’d found the other times his heart stopped. 

Breedlove, 18, tells his story with simple note cards and the occasional smile, sitting close to the camera and stepping back just once to show the scar from when a pacemaker was implanted to help his troubled heart.

It is a remarkably hopeful video, though Breedlove also describes the fear he lived with after being born with a serious heart condition and disappointment that he could not play sports and “be the same as everyone else.” 

“The first time I cheated death was when I was 4,” one of the cards said.

Breedlove had a seizure and as nurses rushed him down a hospital hallway, he told his mother of the bright light overhead.

She said she couldn’t see anything, but he felt his fear and worries washed away and couldn’t help smiling.

“I can’t even describe the peace, how peaceful it was,” he wrote. “I will NEVER forget that feeling or that day.”

Breedlove nearly died again a few months ago when his heart stopped during a routine surgery to remove his tonsils.

“It was a miracle that they brought me back,” he wrote. “I was scared to die but am SO glad I didn’t.”

Breedlove’s heart stopped again on December 6. He was at his Austin high school and sat down on a bench after feeling like he was going to faint.

He passed out and when he woke up, he couldn’t talk or move. He could only watch and listen as paramedics put shock pads on his chest.

He heard them say that his heart had stopped and that he had no pulse, which he explains by the fact that “when people’s bodies ‘die’ the brain still works for a short time.”

“I really thought to myself, this is it, I’m dying,” he wrote.

“The next thing that happened I’m not sure if it was a dream or vision. But while I was still unconscious I was in this white room. No walls, it just went on and on…”

He found himself standing with his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi, and they were both dressed in really nice suits.

“Why he was the only one there with me, I’m still trying to figure out,” Breedlove wrote.

“I had that same feeling, I couldn’t stop smiling. I then looked at myself in the mirror and I was proud of MYSELF. Of my entire life, everything I have done. IT WAS THE BEST feeling.”

Kid Cudi put his hand on his shoulder and then Breedlove’s favorite song came on, the part where Cudi raps “when will this fantasy end… when will the heaven begin?”

Cudi told him “Go now” and Breedlove woke up.

After viewing the video, the rapper said he broke down in tears watching it.

“This has really touched my heart in a way I cant describe, this is why I do what I do. Why I write my life, and why I love you all so much,” Kid Cudi wrote on his blog.

“I know Ben is at Peace, and I hope he gets a chance to sit and talk with my Dad.”

Breedlove ended his video with four final cards: “I didn’t want to leave that place. I wish I NEVER woke up. Do you believe in angels or God? I Do.”

Breedlove died at Christmas and his family said in his death notice that it was a gift from God.

“We know the Lord used the amazing life of our precious son to reach a weary world on Christmas night, just as He did over 2000 years ago with his own Son,” they wrote, and urged people to find the video that Breedlove posted on YouTube on December 18.

Related Articles:

"Perceptions of God" – June 6, 2010 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Quantum TeachingThe Fear of God, Near-death Experience, God Becomes Mythology, Worship, Mastery, Intelligent Design, Benevolent Creator,Global Unity.... etc.(Text version)

“… When a Human almost dies, they get close to the veil, very close. They are ever so close to the creator's energy and just barely touched by it. When their heart was stopping and their breathing was almost gone, before they were brought back to life with science, they got to touch the hand of God for just an instant. What they saw was magnificent! The energy before them was filled with love and light, filled with family, filled with beauty. There was no strife there. There was no punishment there or even the hint of it. And when they came back from that experience, listen to what they told you. It changed their lives, didn't it? Listen to each one talk about it, for they continued to say, "There is nothing to fear and death is something you experience as a normal transition." Blessed is the Human Being who experiences both death and birth and has the wisdom to report, "Oh, it's uncomfortable, but I'll get through it, because I've done it before." The person who has experienced a near-death experience is no longer afraid to die! What does that tell you? They have seen what is there and they embrace it! …”

Fox asks: Did the Jews kill Jesus?, 30 December, 2011

Fox Latin America is being forced to apologize after Rupert Murdoch’s Spanish-language outlet added a questionable poll to its Facebook page as part of a failed promotion.

In an outlandish effort to promote a Christmas special this year on the National Geographic Channel, a Fox Latin America staffer asked fans on the group’s Facebook page, "Who do you think is responsible for the death of Christ?”

The options were Pontius Pilate, High Priests and “Jewish People.” Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with a decent number of Fox’s audience.

In the past, Fox has been called out for its criticism with Muslims and its misrepresenting of followers of Islam, and regularly considered a supporter of Judeo-Christian beliefs. The poll that made it to the network’s Facebook page suggests that a new religion might be on the hit-list for the Latin American branch of the News Corp empire, however.

Fox Spokeswoman Guadalupe Lucero immediately apologized to those offended by the error and assures the network’s Facebook followers that it would be the last time such a gaffe was given the go-ahead. The Simon Weisenthal Center, a Jewish advocacy group based out of Buenos Aires, says it isn’t that easy to dimiss, however. In a statement to the Associated Press, the group calls the inclusion of Jews in the answer pool a reference to outdated Catholic propaganda that characterizes Jewish people as the killers of Jesus Christ. That campaign, says the center, "resulted in the persecution and murder of Jews for two millennia."

Pope Benedict XVI has criticized the Catholic Church for the campaign himself, and in his book Jesus of Nazareth Part II he says there is no wording in the Bible that singles out the Jews for the killing of Christ.

Related Articles:

(Subjects: Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

" .. If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening...."

"Perceptions of God" – June 6, 2010 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Quantum Teaching, The Fear of God, Near-death Experience, God Becomes Mythology, Worship, Mastery, Intelligent Design, Benevolent CreatorGlobal Unity.... etc.(Text version)

Mayan culture in Guatemala - video, Kevin Rushby, Friday 30 December 2011

In Mayan culture, 2012 is a big year – an ancient prediction says it is the year the world will end. Kevin Rushby heads to Guatemala to find out more about the people behind the prophecy, visiting a village homestay and a co-operative of weavers at Santiago Atitlán, and on a hill-top near Chichicastenango he joins a shamanic ceremony

Related Article:

World pays Ecuador not to extract oil from rainforest

Governments and film stars join alliance that raises £75m to compensate Ecuador for lost revenue from 900m barrels Vidal, environment editor, Friday 30 December 2011

Supporters of the Yasuní 'crowdfunding' initiative say it could change the
way  important places are protected. Photograph: Prisma Bildagentur AG
/ Alamy/Alamy

An alliance of European local authorities, national governments, US film stars, Japanese shops, soft drink companies and Russian foundations have stepped in to prevent oil companies exploiting 900m barrels of crude oil from one of the world's most biologically rich tracts of land.

According to the UN, the "crowdfunding" initiative had last night raised $116m (£75m), enough to temporarily halt the exploitation of the 722 square miles of "core" Amazonian rainforest known as Yasuní national park in Ecuador.

The park, which is home to two tribes of uncontacted Indians, is thought to have more mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species than any other spot on earth. Development of the oilfield, which was planned to take place immediately if the money had not been raised, would have inevitably led to ecological devastation and the eventual release of over 400m tonnes of CO2.

Ecuador agreed to halt plans to mine the oilfield if it could raise 50% of the $7.6bn revenue being lost by not mining the oil. While the world's leading conservation groups pledged nothing, regional governments in France and Belgium offered millions of dollars – with $2m alone from the Belgian region of Wallonia. A New York investment banker donated her annual salary and Bo Derek, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Al Gore all contributed.

The idea of asking people to pay for something not to take place was widely dismissed by national treasuries as holding the world to ransom. The German development minister, Dirk Niebel, said that the principle of paying for the oil not to be exploited "would be setting a precedent with unforeseeable referrals". However, Germany has now contributed $48m in "technical assistance". The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was widely criticised after he wrote off $51m of Ecuador's $10bn external debt as Italy's contribution.

Other governments pledging support were Chile, Colombia, Georgia and Turkey ($100,000 each), Peru ($300,000), Australia ($500,000) and Spain ($1.4m).

Supporters of the scheme argued that it could be a model for change in the way the world pays to protect important places. The money raised is guaranteed to be used only for nature protection and renewable energy projects. Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and other countries with oil reserves, have investigated the possibility of setting up similar schemes as an alternative to traditional aid.

The biological richness of Yasuní has astonished scientists. One 6sq km patch of the park was found to have 47 amphibian and reptile species, 550 bird, 200 mammal and more species of bats and insects than anywhere in the western hemisphere. According to Ecuadorean scientists, it would take in the region of 400 years to record Yasuní's 100,000 or more insect and 2,000 fish species.

Of the 63.4% of Ecuadoreans polled last month who knew of the Yasuní initiative, 83.4% supported it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Russia scolds United States for human rights abuse

Reuters, MOSCOW,  Wed Dec 28, 2011

A demonstrator protests against
Guantanamo  Bay prison during a Stop
the War rally in Trafalgar Square, 
central London October 8, 2011.
 (Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor)
(Reuters) - Russia sought to undermine the authority of the United States as a global judge of human rights on Wednesday with Moscow's first report to detail allegations of torture, phone tapping and abuse by the U.S. government.

Criticizing the United States for double standards, Russia said President Barack Obama had failed to shut the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and accused the White House of sheltering officials and CIA operatives from prosecution.

The Foreign Ministry's report "On the situation with human rights in a host of world states," follows China's example in highlighting U.S. failings in an attempt to counter U.S. State Department criticism of domestic human rights abuses.

"The situation in the United States is far from the ideals proclaimed by Washington," Russia's foreign ministry said in a 63-page report posted on its Web site. "The main unresolved problem is the odious prison in Guantanamo Bay."

"The White House and the Justice Department shelter from prosecution CIA operatives and highly placed officials who are responsible for mass and flagrant breaches of human rights," it said.

Every year since 1976, the U.S. Department of State has published a detailed report on the state of human rights in the world, often with scathing analyses of abuses in China and Russia.

Washington scolded Russia for "governmental and societal human rights problems and abuses during the year" in its report published in April.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this month by suggesting that Russia's parliamentary elections were neither free nor fair.

Russia's counter-report is unlikely to harm ties with its former Cold War foe, though Obama's attempt to forge more friendly ties with the Kremlin has cooled since Vladimir Putin said in September he planned to run in the March presidential election.

"These kinds of human rights reports can be a useful mechanism," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

"We certainly don't regard it as interference in our internal affairs when foreign governments, individuals or organizations comment on or criticize U.S. human rights practices."

Russia also criticized European Union countries for the treatment of religious minorities and Britain in particular for breaching human rights in the wake of August's riots.

The report focused on the United States and European countries, mentioning China only once and then in passing.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn; Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by MatthewJones)

Related Articles:

Venezuela's Chavez: did U.S. give Latin American leaders cancer?

Reuters, by Daniel Wallis, CARACAS, Wed Dec 28, 2011

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrives to commemorate the death 
anniversary of national hero Simon Bolivar at the national cemetery in
Caracas December 17, 2011. (Credit: Reuters/Jorge Silva)

(Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speculated on Wednesday that the United States might have developed a way to give Latin American leaders cancer, after Argentina's Cristina Fernandez joined the list of presidents diagnosed with the disease.

It was a typically controversial statement by Venezuela's socialist leader, who underwent surgery in June to remove a tumor from his pelvis. But he stressed that he was not making any accusations, just thinking aloud.

"It would not be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now ... I don't know. I'm just reflecting," he said in a televised speech to troops at a military base.

"But this is very, very, very strange ... it's a bit difficult to explain this, to reason it, including using the law of probabilities."

Chavez, Fernandez, Paraguay's Fernando Lugo, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff and former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have all been diagnosed recently with cancer. All of them are leftists.

Doctors say Fernandez has a very good chance of recovery and will not need chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Her diagnosis was made public on Tuesday.

Chavez said other regional leaders should beware, including his close ally, Bolivian President Evo Morales.

"We'll have to take good care of Evo. Take care Evo!" he said.

The 57-year-old is Latin America's loudest critic of U.S. foreign policy along with Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro, and he frequently lashes out at what he calls the "Yankee Empire".


"Fidel always told me, 'Chavez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat ... a little needle and they inject you with I don't know what,'" he said.

In his comments on Wednesday, Chavez also slammed Washington and its European allies for criticizing Russia's recent parliamentary elections - and said they were planning the same thing for Venezuela's presidential election in October, when he will seek re-election.

"They are crying fraud and saying the elections need to be re-run ... They're trying to destabilize no less than Russia, a nuclear power. That's the madness of the Empire," Chavez said.

"I say this because here in Venezuela, the Imperial Yankee, the local bourgeoisie, and a good part of what they call the opposition parties here, are preparing a similar plan," he said.

"I call on the armed forces to be alert, on the Venezuelan people to be alert. Because we are not going to let the Imperial Yankee destabilize Venezuela again like they did in the past."

Details about Chavez's health remain a closely guarded secret, although he now appears to be recovering and is making longer and longer televised appearances.

Earlier this month he made his first official foreign trip after his surgery, to a regional summit in Uruguay.

Since his return he has often appeared sporting something of a younger, new look: a dark sports coat over an open-necked maroon shirt, and is hair is growing back after chemotherapy.

It is far cry from the green fatigues and red beret that he became famous for wearing for much of his 13 years in power.

(Editing by Kieran Murray)

Argentina's President Fernandez set for cancer surgery

BBC News, by Daniel Schweimler, Buenos Aires, 28 December 2011

President Fernandez was sworn in for her second term on 10 December

Related Stories 

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner went straight back to work following the announcement that she has cancer.

She met governors from some of her country's provinces at the presidential palace before making statements about the economy.

The president's team has been emphasising that the operation she will have on 4 January for cancer of the right thyroid gland will only incapacitate her for a short time and that the prognosis is very good.

The operation will be carried out by Dr Pablo Saco at the Austral Hospital in Buenos Aires where President Fernandez will spend three days.

She will then take three weeks off to rest and recover, with her new vice-president, former economy minister Amado Boudou, in charge during her absence.

The announcement about her ill health was made on Argentine television and radio and was unusually detailed. 

Argentina's media carried extensive
coverage of the story
There had been recent speculation about Ms Fernandez's health after she cancelled meetings and trips.

Her office would only say at the time that she was recovering well and would soon be back at work.

On this occasion, the head of the president's communication office, Alfredo Scoccimarro, read a statement in front of journalists gathered at the government palace.

He said that she had been diagnosed with cancer after a routine examination on 22 December. Follow-up tests showed that it had not spread to her lymph nodes and that her prognosis was very good.

Still working

Argentine newspapers on Wednesday morning were filled with explanations about the disease, details of the doctor carrying out the operation and opinions from other medical experts who generally agree that 90% of similar cases of cancer are curable.

Even opposition newspapers, such as Clarin which is involved in a bitter feud with the president, carried opinion pieces saying there was no need to be unduly concerned about Ms Fernandez's health. 

Vice President Amado Boudou will take over the
day-to-day running of the country
All point out that she has joined a group of South American leaders who have recently suffered from cancer and have continued working.

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was diagnosed with lymphoma in August 2010 but after chemotherapy was told the tumour had disappeared. He was soon back at work.

The Brazilian leader, Dilma Rousseff, had treatment in 2009 before taking office.

And the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, recently made his first working trip abroad after receiving cancer treatment in Cuba.

Brazil's former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is still being teated after a tumour on his larynx was detected last October.

Summer time

President Fernandez, who is 58, started her second term in office earlier this month after a resounding election victory in October.

She began energetically, pushing a number of controversial measures through parliament.

Ms Fernandez is still mourning the death of her husband and predecessor as president, Nestor Kirchner, who died of a heart attack in October 2010 aged 60.

She has worn black ever since and many political analysts put some of her popularity down to the sympathy she received and the way she carried herself following his sudden death. 

Brazil's former president, Lula, is being treated
for throat cancer
Other factors include a relatively buoyant economy and a weak and divided opposition movement.

Her party, now with majorities in both houses of Congress, still faces a number of tough challenges.

Inflation is still high and Argentina, like other countries in the region, is concerned about the knock-on effect economic problems in North America and Europe will have.

The news of Ms Fernandez's illness still took many by surprise and will cause some concern that she will not be holding the reins of power for three weeks.

Although no-one chooses when they fall ill, January is probably the best time to be absent from work.

It is generally a quiet period in Argentina with many thousands escaping to the beaches to escape the sweltering heat in Buenos Aires at the height of the southern hemisphere summer.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crime and unemployment dog Guadeloupe

Social crisis and lack of police resources lead to wave of delinquency among disaffected young people

Guardian Weekly, Laurent Borredon, Tuesday 27 December 2011

Women hold a banner reading: 'Stop the slavery' during a demonstration
 in 2010 in Pointe-à-Pitre, on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe,
against high living costs. Photograph: AFP

There is a growing sense of insecurity in Guadeloupe. This is not to say that crime figures have gone unnoticed in the past: Guadeloupe has France's highest crime rate. But people have started talking about an "outbreak of delinquency", "increasingly violent minors" and gangs.

Policymakers have accused the central government of negligence, Paris has blamed the local authorities, and both sides agree that the media have not helped. The facts were set out in a confidential report, commissioned by the interior ministry and its overseas counterpart, delivered in July. The report describes the "impregnation of Guadeloupean society by violence" and the "development of violent gangs". Above all it registers a "distinct deterioration" in 2009-10.

On an island with a population of 400,000, news travels fast and everyone has noticed the wave of petty crime. It is a direct threat to the tourist trade. After 6pm, the old town centre of Pointe-à-Pitre, a port of call for Caribbean cruises, is taken over by drug-dealing and prostitution.

The Socialist (PS) leader of the regional council, Victorin Lurel, made violence and insecurity the central theme of a congress last month. Some claimed this was a political ploy; he belongs to PS candidate François Hollande's campaign staff for the coming French presidential election.

Over several weeks a team formed by Lurel interviewed policymakers, magistrates, police, social workers and sociologists. All this groundwork was reduced to single phrase that a contributing criminologist let slip: "It is striking to observe that the majority of crimes and offences are committed by Guadeloupeans of African descent." This caused an outcry. "An unfortunate statement," admits Gladys Démocrite, who co-ordinated the survey. "What she meant was that outstanding identity issues may generate violence."

So ultimately leftwing councillors and separatist groups can agree on at least one point: Guadeloupean identity, the legacy of slavery and the social crisis are the three main factors driving delinquency and violence.

Eric Jalton, an independent leftwing member of parliament, blames "the social situation", with more than half the island's young people unemployed. "We are moving away from European standards and Guadeloupe is caught in a downward spiral of underdevelopment," says the separatist Luc Reinette. "We were lucky the violence did not take a more violent form," adds Jacques Bangou, leftwing leader of the Pointe-à-Pitre council.

Convinced the problems are due to a social crisis and the lack of resources, local politicians have been slow to use their powers for law and order. They are "out of touch", says Jean-Michel Gobardhan, the head of the UNSA-Police trade union.

There is certainly one person who stands out as a potential model, at the head of a municipality in striking contrast with the mood elsewhere. Baie Mahault is on the strip of land connecting Grande Terre to Basse Terre. It benefits from the huge Jarry trading and industrial estate (3,500 businesses, 15,000 jobs). But the independent council leader, Ary Chalus, is convinced it is a matter of "willpower". The council went looking for funds far and wide, even in Brussels.

What matters most are social policies targeting the young, with a job-seeking unit, free driving lessons, assistance for prospective entrepreneurs, work integration schemes and even a course preparing candidates for the exam to join the municipal police. This is backed by law-and-order policies that are unique on Guadeloupe, with 40 police officers patrolling the municipality round the clock. At Pointe à Pitre, there are 21 and they concentrate mainly on parking and street markets.

The congress in November concluded with recommendations on youth support. In a more daring move, Lurel suggested buying vehicles for the police.The existing fleet, designed for the roads and climate of mainland France, is unsuitable. There are times, often several weeks, when every single patrol vehicle is out of action.

End of story? Maybe not. On 17 December an unusual event reawakened the embers. A man tried to attack Lurel with a machete at a neighbourhood party in Basse Terre. Three police officers managed to restrain the assailant. He turned out to be a regular offender, much the worse for drink and cocaine. Delinquency as usual in Guadeloupe.

This article originally appeared in Le Monde

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cuba expands free-market reforms

BBC News, 26 December 2011 

Many restaurants and food stalls
are already privately operated
Cuba says it is expanding free-market reforms, opening more of the retail services sector to private business.

From 1 January workers including carpenters, locksmiths, photographers and repairmen will be allowed to become self-employed.

They will be able to set their own prices, while paying taxes and leasing their premises from the state.

The measures are the latest reforms aimed at reviving Cuba's socialist economy by boosting private enterprise.

President Raul Castro, who took over from his brother Fidel in 2008, has said the changes represent an effort to update rather than abandon the socialist model.

His government plans to have up to 40% of the the workforce employed by the non-state sector by 2016, compared with just 10% at the end of 2010.

Dramatic change

Restrictions on private business have been relaxed, large numbers of state workers have been laid off, and tens of thousands of Cubans have applied for licenses to work for themselves.

For the first time in decades people are allowed to buy and sell homes and cars and take out private business loans from banks.

Earlier this year state barbers shops and beauty salons were handed over to their employees, who now work for themselves while paying rent, tax and social security to the state.

That initiative is now being extended to a wide range of small retail services, including shoe, watch and electronic repairs, the official Communist Party newspaper Granma said.

The change will be rolled out gradually over the course of the year, starting in six provinces including the capital, Havana.

President Castro's programme of reform represents a dramatic change in Cuba, which for nearly half a century was been run as a command economy, with almost all activity controlled by the state.

Related Article:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Brazil overtakes UK as sixth-largest economy

UK relegated to seventh place in world league of leading economies in 2011, according to team of economists

TheGuardian, Phillip Inman, Monday 26 December 2011

Brazil's economy is now bigger than the UK's, say economists,
booming on the back of exports to China. Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP

Brazil has overtaken the UK to become the world's sixth-largest economy, according to a team of economists. The banking crash of 2008 and the subsequent recession has relegated the UK to seventh place in 2011, behind South America's largest economy, which has boomed on the back of exports to China and the far east.

Russia and India are expected to benefit from a surge in growth over the next 10 years and push the UK into eighth place. Like most economies, India is struggling with high inflation and slowing growth, but its highly educated workforce and skills in growth areas from IT and services to engineering will push the economy into fifth place. After a decade of selling oil and gas to Europe and other parts of Asia, Russia will be at number four.

The only compensation for ministers concerned by Britain's relative fall is that France will fall at a faster pace. Nicolas Sarkozy can still boast that France is the fifth-largest economy behind the US at number one, China, Japan and Germany, but by 2020, the Centre for Economics and business Research (CEBR) forecasts it will fall past the UK into ninth spot. Germany will also slip to seventh place in 2020.

CEBR chief executive Douglas McWilliams said: "Brazil has beaten the European countries at soccer for a long time, but beating them at economics is a new phenomenon. Our world economic league table shows how the economic map is changing, with Asian countries and commodity-producing economies climbing up the league while we in Europe fall back."

Europe is expected to suffer a "lost decade" of low growth following a credit binge over the past 20 years. Paying back debts over a short timescale will restrict growth and prevent many countries, including the UK, from clawing back output lost in the banking crash for many years.

The European Union, recently described by one Chinese official as "a worn-out welfare society", will remain the world's largest collective trading bloc, though a recession next year is expected to hit global growth. The latest forecasts by the CEBR show world growth falling to 2.5% in 2012, a downward revision from the forecast made in September.

However, the CEBR warned a scenario involving "one or more countries leaving the euro, sovereign defaults and banks going bust and needing to be bailed out" would reduce global growth in 2012 to 1.1%. The European growth slowdown is forecast to be even more marked, with a fall in GDP by 0.6% and a possible fall of 2% if the euro currency club breaks up. The US forecast is better, with growth of 1.8%.Emerging economies, which have seen their stock markets dive in recent months as investors assess the fallout from the euro crisis, would regain their momentum, said the CEBR.

China is forecast to grow by 7.6% and India by 6%. But other recent star economies with closer links to the EU or commodity prices are likely to face an economic slowdown with Turkish growth slowing to 2.5% from 7.1% this year, Saudi Arabia at 4% after 6.1% this year, Russia 2.8% after 3.8% this year, and Brazil 2.5% after 2.8% this year.