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. …

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kenneth Melson, who oversaw ATF's Fast and Furious, steps down

LA Times, by Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau, August 30, 2011

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' acting director
 Kenneth Melson speaks at a Houston news conference in April 2009.
(Pat Sullivan / Associated Press)

Kenneth E. Melson, who has faced heavy criticism in connection with the controversial Fast and Furious gun-trafficking investigation, announced Tuesday that he is stepping down as acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Also resigning is Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney in Phoenix whose office oversaw the Fast and Furious program, in which ATF agents purposely allowed weapons to be illegally purchased in the hope of catching Mexican drug cartel leaders.

Melson shared the news in a conference call at 11:30 a.m. EDT with supervisors at the bureau's field offices, telling them that he will be moving back to the Department of Justice to serve as a senior advisor with the Office of Legal Programs. His resignation will take effect at 5 p.m. EDT.

Attorney Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that B. Todd Jones, the U.S. attorney in Minneapolis, will replace Melson as acting director, effective Wednesday.

Despite the problems with Fast and Furious under Melson's tenure, Holder praised the outgoing acting director and his new responsibilities.

"Ken brings decades of experience at the department and extensive knowledge in forensic science to his new role and I know he will be a valuable contributor on these issues," Holder said. "As he moves into this new role, I want to thank Ken for his dedication to the department over the last three decades."

But simply transferring Melson within the Justice Department did not immediately sit well with some critics, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who has asked Justice officials for an accounting of all Fast and Furious cases in Texas.

"Instead of reassigning those responsible for Fast and Furious within the Department of Justice," Cornyn said, "Atty. Gen. Holder should ask for their resignations and come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme."

Under Melson's leadership, ATF launched Operation Fast and Furious, through which agents were to watch -- and in some cases record on video -- illegal gun sales and then use surveillance teams and electronic eavesdropping to follow the guns and learn how the weapons were moved. The goal was to arrest cartel leaders overseeing gun smuggling on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico.

But the chase for guns and cartel leaders soon hit a dead end. The ATF was attempting to follow each of the weapons as they were moved from the straw men who bought them illegally at gun shops to what officials expected would be cartel higher-ups in the U.S., who would move them to Mexico.

The agency, which didn't have the resources to follow so many weapons, soon lost track of many of them. When officials did follow them to the next level, the buyers of the guns often turned out to be Mexicans living legally in the U.S. and not cartel honchos.

An investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), uncovered emails that showed Melson was regularly briefed on the botched operation.

Cuban civil society fights to be heard

Groups of gays and lawyers struggle for legal recognition separate from state-supported organizations

Guardian Weekly, Paulo A Paranagua,  Tuesday 30 August 2011

Cuban director of the National Center for Sexual Education (Cenesex),
Mariela Castro, leads a march in Havana against homophobia.
Photograph: Adalberto Roque/Getty

Leannes Imbert Acosta, 34, has been trying since May to obtain legal recognition for Cuba's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Observatory. But in so doing she has encroached on the prerogatives of the National Sexual Education Centre (Cenesex) set up by Mariela Castro, Raul's daughter.

Although the government is much more tolerant of gay rights, some have accused Mariela Castro of monopolising the cause, and divisions have taken hold within the gay movement. The Observatory wants to set up an information centre open to everyone, but Imbert cannot access the Cenesex library without official accreditation.

In June Cenesex opposed a gay pride event, which it regards as an unjustified protest movement.

Imbert has turned to the Cuban Law Association (AJC), which represents several dozen lawyers and is also struggling to gain recognition. The AJC is involved in a similar campaign for the Brotherhood of Blackness, established to combat racial discrimination.

In January Wilfredo Vallin, a key figure in the law association, won the first round in the AJC's fight. "There is no separation of powers in Cuba," he says. "The judiciary is subordinate to the executive and receives instructions from state security."

Only lawyers working in "collectives" – all of whom are public-sector workers – can represent their clients in court. The government recently issued a list of 178 trades now open to the self-employed, but it does not include architects, computer programmers, teachers or doctors.

This article originally appeared in Le Monde

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Mariele Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban
President Raúl Castro

About the Challenges of Being a Gay Man – Oct 23, 2010 (Saint Germain channelled 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.”

"The Akashic System" – Jul 17, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Religion, God, Benevolent Design, DNA, Akashic Circle, (Old) Souls, Gaia, Indigenous People, Talents, Reincarnation, Genders, Gender Switches, In “between” Gender Change, Gender Confusion, Shift of Human Consciousness, Global Unity,..... etc.)  New !

Shocking new details of US STD experiments in Guatemala

Fresh revelations about 1940s medical tests come to light, including deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases, Associated Press,Tuesday 30 August 2011

Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom received an apology last year
from US president Barack Obama. Photograph: Daniel Leclair /

Shocking new details of US medical experiments done in Guatemala in the 1940s, including a decision to re-infect a dying woman in a syphilis study, have been disclosed by a presidential panel.

The Guatemala experiments are already considered one of the darker episodes of medical research in US history, but panel members say the new information indicates that researchers were unusually unethical, even when placed into the historical context of a different era.

"The researchers put their own medical advancement first and human decency a far second," said Anita Allen, a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

From 1946-48, the US Public Health Service and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau worked with several Guatemalan government agencies on medical research paid for by the US government that involved deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases.

The researchers apparently were trying to see if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infections in the 1,300 people exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. Those infected included soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis.

The commission revealed on Monday that only about 700 of those infected received some sort of treatment. Eighty-three people died, although it's not clear if the deaths were directly due to the experiments.

The research came up with no useful medical information, according to some experts. It was hidden for decades but came to light last year after a Wellesley College medical historian discovered records among the papers of Dr John Cutler, who led the experiments.

President Barack Obama called Guatemala's president, Alvaro Colom, to apologise. He also ordered his bioethics commission to review the Guatemala experiments. That work is nearly done. Though the final report is not due until next month, commission members discussed some of the findings at a meeting on Monday in Washington.

They revealed that some of the experiments were more shocking than was previously known.

For example, seven women with epilepsy, who were housed at Guatemala's Asilo de Alienados (Home for the Insane), were injected with syphilis below the back of the skull, a risky procedure. The researchers thought the new infection might somehow help cure epilepsy. The women each got bacterial meningitis, probably as a result of the unsterile injections, but were treated.

Perhaps the most disturbing details involved a female syphilis patient with an undisclosed terminal illness. The researchers, curious to see the impact of an additional infection, infected her with gonorrhea in her eyes and elsewhere. Six months later she died.

Dr Amy Gutmann, head of the commission, described the case as "chillingly egregious".

During that time, other researchers were also using people as human guinea pigs, in some cases infecting them with illnesses. Studies weren't as regulated then, and the planning-on-the-fly feel of Cutler's work was not unique, some experts have noted.

But panel members concluded that the Guatemala research was bad even by the standards of the time. They compared the work to a 1943 experiment by Cutler and others in which prison inmates were infected with gonorrhea in Indiana. The inmates were volunteers who were told what was involved in the study and gave their consent. Many of the Guatemalan participants received no such explanation and did not give informed consent, the commission said.

The commission is working on a second report examining federally funded international studies to make sure current research is being done ethically. That report is expected at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Guatemalan government has vowed to carry out its own investigation into the Cutler study. A spokesman for the vice-president Rafael Espada said the report should be done by November.

Marta Orellana, 74, a victim of the US syphilis trial when she was nine.
'They never gave me a chance to say no,' she says.
Photograph: Rory Carroll for the Guardian

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chavez to have third chemo session in Venezuela

Reuters, CARACAS,  Sat Aug 27, 2011

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez talks during a television broadcast about
 Ciudad Caribia 'Caribia City' located outside Caracas August 27, 2011. 
(Credit: Reuters/Miraflores Palace/Handout)

(Reuters) - President Hugo Chavez will undergo a third round of chemotherapy for cancer at home in Venezuela beginning Sunday, he said, instead of traveling to Cuba where he had two previous rounds of treatment.

The 57-year-old gave few details during a TV appearance on Saturday, but the choice to have his next session at home could indicate he is more optimistic about the pace of his recovery ahead of a bid for a new six-year term at an election in 2012.

The socialist leader underwent surgery in Havana in June to remove a baseball-sized tumor, then returned to the communist-led island twice for chemotherapy as the guest of his friend and mentor, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

In an apparent return to his governing style before he fell ill, Chavez has raised his pace at work this week, hosting several meetings on state TV to launch government projects.

"We have decided, because we have created all the conditions ... to do this third cycle here in Venezuela," said Chavez, shaven-headed and wearing a military uniform while leading a televised cabinet meeting for more than three hours.

Chavez, who has not specified what type of cancer he has, repeated that all his recent tests have been positive and his doctors have found no malignant cells in his body. He has said he could require radiotherapy after the chemotherapy.

Venezuela's fractious opposition coalition, which is due to hold primary elections in February to pick a single candidate to face him, sees next year's election as the best chance to unseat the former soldier and end his 12 years in power.

(Reporting by Enrique Andres Pretel; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Todd Eastham)

Related Article:

" .... Soon the one dictator will be gone, and the unification can begin.."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Brazilian women demand more equality

Deutsche Welle, 24 Aug 2011  

Brazilian women are entering jobs
once reserved for men
Brazil has pioneered some of Latin America's most advanced legislation and mechanisms to ensure women's rights and gender equality. But there is still a lot of work to be done.

Funk and rap music in Brazil often portrays women as sexual objects. But times are changing and women are talking back. With the hit song ‘I’m ugly but I’m trendy’, rebellious female MC Tati Quebra-Barraco became the first female rapper to break into Brazil’s funk music scene. She was a political sensation, using her lyrics to reverse the trend and make men the sexual objects.

Women in Brazil are increasingly taking jobs in fields that, until recently, were dominated by men. They're becoming bus or cab drivers, starting out in the police force or working as security guards and construction workers. One of the most symbolic advances is the recent election of the first female president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff.

Women leaders step forward

In her inauguration speech, in January of this year, Rousseff acknowledged this symbolism. 

Will Brazil's first female president
usher  in a new era of women's
"I want to state my first commitment after the elections: to honor Brazil's women so that today's unprecedented result becomes a normal event," she told supporters after she was sworn in. "I would very much like for parents to look into their daughters' eyes and say, yes women can."

Since taking office in January, the new president has named 10 female ministers to serve in the 38-member cabinet. That's double the number of ministers serving under her predecessor and mentor, Lula da Silva, during his eight years in power. In 2000, there were no women in the cabinet. Today, women hold key positions in offices like the Ministry of Institutional Affairs, which is in charge of negotiations with Brazil’s Congress and the Cabinet Chief.

'Not a revolution'

But while women in public office help raise the profile of women in politics, Silvia Pimentel from the United Nation's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women believes the election of Dilma as the first female president is not necessarily a result of more participation and conscience on the part of female voters in Brazil.

"[Dilma] is a very well prepared woman, everybody knows, but she would never be there if President Lula hadn't appointed her," Pimentel told Deutsche Welle. "So it's not a revolution or an evolution that women are now coming like this to high positions in my country."

The case of Maria da Penha

Brazil has pioneered some of Latin America's most advanced legislation and mechanisms to ensure women's rights and gender equality. But there is still a lot of work to be done. A survey conducted by the Fundacao Perseu Abramo foundation estimates more than 2 million women are subjected to sexual  and domestic violence or psychological abuse every year. In 2009, more than 200,000 women called a government-run hotline to report cases of assault and violence.

A turning point in the fight against violence towards women in Brazil was the case of Maria da Penha, who is considered one of the country’s most important voices in the struggle for women's rights. The 60 year-old pharmacist has used her experience of spousal violence to call for better protection of women by the police and the courts.

Maria da Penha is a heroine for
women's rights in Brazil
"I thought my marriage would last forever … but in 1983, I woke up with a bullet in my back. I was shot by my husband," she explained.

In the early 1980s, her then-husband beat Maria da Penha continuously and finally attempted to murder her twice, causing her to become a paraplegic. But it took eight years for the case to be heard and even though her husband was found guilty, he was released following an appeal.

"I was very disappointed because he could walk out free like that,” Penha said. But she refused to give up. She wrote a book describing the brutality her husband inflicted on her and her daughters and became a voice for abused women across the country.

Justice at last

Maria da Penha's case was sent to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which said that Brazil’s failure to take legal action indicated the country condoned the violence. The court went on to say that Brazilian authorities had added to Maria da Penha's suffering with their failure to carry out justice.

The Maria da Penha law provides better
access to justice for women in Brazil
This landmark ruling contributed to the international consensus that governments around the globe have a legal obligation to take active measures in protecting women's rights.

And in 2006, President Lula da Silva signed the "Maria da Penha law", with the intent of reducing domestic violence. Among the changes initiated by the new law was an increase in punishment for those who are violent towards women, and protective measures for family members at risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.

Maria da Penha is just one of the thousands of strong women standing up and making a difference for justice and equal rights throughout Latin America. Their struggle and contributions are already bearing fruit for generations of women on the continent and around the world.

Author: Milton Bragatti (sjt)
Editor: Saroja Coelho
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Mariele Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban
President Raúl Castro

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cuban Athletes' Defections Prompt Calls for Change

Jakarta Globe, Anne-Marie Garcia, August 21, 2011

Cuban national team volleyball player Roberlandy Simon, right, is reported
by state newspapers to have defected. (AP Photo)

Havana. Cuba has become accustomed to the cream of its sporting talent defecting to the United States, and now it is considering the once unthinkable: the free market.

Communist Cuba has always had a problem keeping its prodigious sports and cultural talent on the island, not to mention its doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

Appeals to patriotism have proved only partially effective, so a new solution is being considered to combat the problem. As President Raul Castro’s government embarks on a wide-ranging initiative to let more people work for themselves instead of the state, there are increasing calls for the same to apply in sports.

Cuba must find a way to “stop the robbery of players,” baseball great Victor Mesa said. While hundreds of thousands of Cubans suddenly are going into business for themselves, he said, it is unfortunate that “there is no proposal to contract athletes to play abroad.”

Mesa, who manages Matanzas in the Cuban league, said he favors letting Cubans play for pay in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Japan, South Korea or Mexico after eight seasons at home. He did not mention Major League Baseball in the United States.

His comments reflected the chatter among Cuban athletes, coaches and fans, but it was significant that they were even published. In the past, sports people have gotten into trouble for disputing the official line, and talk of defectors was discouraged.

Now, Mesa is not alone in airing his views.

“Times change ... There are Cuban players who have wanted to test their luck,” Rey Vicente Anglada, former manager of Industriales and Cuba, told Prensa Latina. “They see themselves as having possibilities and see others who have done well.”

Delegates at April’s Communist Party summit on economic reforms approved the general idea of “a reference to athletes being hired abroad,” although the idea remains under discussion.

There is precedent: In 1999, the Cuban Sports Institute allowed a few volleyball and baseball players to work abroad, especially at the end of their careers, at salaries negotiated by officials. But that opening was shut in 2005.

Most Cuban sports players get monthly government salaries of $16. Olympic medalists receive an additional lifetime monthly stipend: $300 for gold medal winners and less for other medalists.

The government pays for entertainment, education, health, travel, housing and cars.

Its another world from that of hard-throwing pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who left the island and signed a five-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds for $30 million.

Defections drew rare mention recently in state newspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde, which detailed the “abandonment” by the pitcher and reigning league rookie of the year Gerardo Concepcion during a tournament in the Netherlands. After his departure, the national team lost the final to Taiwan.

The papers also reported that captain Roberlandy Simon and players Joandry Leal and Raydel Hierrezuelo had quit the national volleyball team that was the runner-up at the 2010 world championship in Italy. The reports said they left the team for personal reasons, but their absence sparked rumors they wanted to defect. Hierrezuelo has since returned to the squad.

Six volleyball players defected in 2001 during a tournament in Belgium, the beginning of an exodus of many others.

From the beginning of the revolution he fomented more than 50 years ago, baseball-loving Fidel Castro placed high value on sporting and cultural talent to burnish his cause abroad.

Cuba eliminated for-profit sports in 1961, but Castro put significant resources into a highly organized system of free education and training. Successful athletes are considered heroes and national treasures. When offered millions of dollars to fight Joe Frazier for the heavyweight title in 1972, Cuban boxer Teofilo Stevenson famously responded: “What is $1 million compared to the love of 8 million Cubans?”

Associated Press

Colombian-Honduran deal leads to drug plane seizure

BBC News, 21 August 2011
Related Stories 

The Honduran and Colombian air forces say an agreement on intelligence sharing has allowed them to seize a plane with 470kg (1036lb) of cocaine.

The Piper PA 34 was spotted in Colombian airspace
The Colombians became suspicious when they detected an unregistered light aircraft, which had not filed a flight plan, leaving for Central America.

They alerted their Honduran counterparts, and were able to follow it all the way to Honduras.

The Honduran air force boarded the craft and seized the drugs.

The Colombian Air Force said the new intelligence-sharing deal, which came into force in July, helped them co-ordinate the operation with their Honduran colleagues and allowed them to act quickly.

The two forces carried out joint operations last month in an effort to "close the Caribbean airspace to drug traffickers".

Honduras is a main gateway for cocaine smuggled from Colombia.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Moody's managers pressured analysts: ex-staffer

Reuters, by Sarah N. Lynch, WASHINGTON | Fri Aug 19, 2011

(Reuters) - An ex-Moody's Corp derivatives analyst said the credit-rating agency intimidated and pressured analysts to issue glowing ratings of toxic complex, structured mortgage securities.

In a 78-page letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, William Harrington outlined how the committees that make the ratings decisions are not independent and how managers often intimidated analysts.

"The management of Moody's, the management of Moody's Corporation and the board of Moody's Corporation are squarely responsible for the poor quality of previous Moody's opinions that ushered in the financial crisis," he wrote.

"The track record of management influence in committees speaks for itself -- it produced hollowed-out (collateralized debt obligation) opinions that were at great odds with the private opinions of committees and which were not durable for even a short period after publication," he added.

Harrington's August 8 letter, which was sent in response to a 517-page proposal by the SEC on credit-rating regulations, raises similar issues that are already at the heart of a Justice Department probe into McGraw-Hill's Standard & Poor's.

"We cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance Moody's places on the quality of our ratings and the integrity of our ratings process," said Moody's Corp spokesman Michael Adler. "For that very reason, we have robust protections in place to separate the commercial and analytical aspects of our business, and our ratings are assigned by a committee -- not by any individual analyst."

The Justice Department has been looking into what S&P analysts wanted to do with ratings during the financial crisis, and what they were told to do, according to one source familiar with the matter.

A second source has said the department also has been investigating Moody's in connection with structured product ratings during the crisis, although the exact focus on that probe is unclear.

Earlier this year, a U.S. Senate panel led by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin found that Moody's and S&P helped trigger the financial crisis after the two rating agencies gave overly positive ratings to toxic mortgage-related products and then later downgraded those ratings en masse.

Last year's Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul law tightens regulations for raters, including improving the transparency of the methodology used and curbing potential conflicts of interest. The SEC in May issued a proposal seeking comments on many of the Dodd-Frank provisions on rating agencies.

Harrington, who said he worked as an analyst in the derivatives group from 1999 until July 2010, said he thinks that if the SEC's proposed rules had been in place in 2002, they would still not have gotten to the heart of the problems at Moody's.

"Many of the proposed rules still give more license to the management of Moody's to step up its long-standing intimidation and harassment of analysts, to the detriment of opinion formation," he said.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky)

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Chavez to pull Venezuela's gold reserves out of Europe and US

Deutsche Welle, 19 Aug 2011

Caracas has benefited from a rally in gold
prices, but it could be at risk if prices fall
Venezuela's president will pull his country's international gold reserves out of the US and Europe and nationalize the gold industry. Still, those steps won't solve the country's serious economic problems, analysts say.

Venezuelan gold bars worth 7.7 billion euros ($11 billion) which are stored in banks in the United States and Europe will be removed by officials and either brought back to Caracas or taken to "allied countries" such as China, Brazil and Russia, according to President Hugo Chavez.

The recall is part of a strategy the Venezuelan president says will protect the country from the effects of the global economic crisis.

"We will put the gold back in the central bank," Chavez told cabinet meetings in a telephone conference this week.

Klaus Bodemer
But analysts say that there are domestic political reasons behind that recall decision and the move to nationalize the gold industry.

"Chavez sees that his international oil policies and the search for allies has had little success," Klaus Bodemer from the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies in Hamburg told Deutsche Welle.

"At the same time, the 2012 election campaign is fast approaching and he needs money for that," he added.

Geopolitical considerations

Chavez pointed to the economic and financial crises afflicting the US and Europe, saying that putting some of his nation's gold and cash reserves in banks in China, Russia and Brazil is safer.

He said the "repatriation" of 211 of the 365 tons of Venezuelan gold is "a healthy measure for the country" and "an absolutely sovereign decision" that will benefit the Venezuelan people and economy.

Some 99 tons of Venezuelan gold worth 3.2 billion euros are stored in the UK, while the county has smaller amounts warehoused in Canada, the US and France.

"He sees the euro crisis and a possible recession in the US as proof of the instability of these regions," said analyst Bodemer.

"This recall is not going to solve the country's economic difficulties, but Chavez hopes he can take attention away from them."

Money troubles

Chavez has an election campaign to
think about, and finance
After two years of crisis, the Venezuelan economy is slowly beginning to bounce back. Still, its inflation rate of 27 percent is the highest in Latin America, and exploding food prices are hitting the poor, a key pillar of support for Chavez.

To lessen the pain, government guaranteed minimum-wage levels are being increased every few months.

Therefore, despite high oil prices, Chavez is experiencing a cash crunch, especially as oil production levels are declining. When Chavez came to power in 1999, production levels at the state oil company PDVSA were at three million barrels a day. In the 12 years since, that number has fallen to 1.8 million barrels.

Criticism of government expenditures has come from opposition politicians and industry, which has complained about stagnant investment levels and slow infrastructure development. In addition, however, dissatisfaction with state policy is also being expressed by Chavez' own allies.

While social welfare payments are already draining state coffers, Chavez will need to dip into them again for the upcoming election campaign.

"That's another reason for bringing the gold reserves back," said Bodemer. "Chavez would like to convert them into cash and use them in the campaign."

Oil production levels have been falling in Venezuela


This week, Chavez said that he will nationalize Venezuela's gold industry in a bid to stamp out illegal mining and boost international reserves.

"A law on nationalization of the gold production has been worked out," he said. "Let's convert it into our international reserves because gold is increasing in its value."

The country has significant gold reserves in the south-east where iron, bauxite and diamonds are also mined. The current euro crisis and economic turbulence in the US have driven gold prices up to above 1,200 euros per ounce.

"The nationalization of the gold industry will increase Venezuela's reserves, but it's problematic," said Bodemer. "Right now the price of gold is high, but it won't always be. And when it falls, Venezuela will be hit hard."

The analyst also sees a bit of schadenfreude behind Chavez' moves, saying the president wants to send a message to the US and Europe that he has lost trust in them and their troubled economies.

But the step could prove to be short-sighted, he added. Even if the BRIC states (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are playing an increasingly important role in the world economy, "they are still dependent on the northern industrial countries, and that includes China above all," he said. "They don't offer any long-term guarantees."

The gold transfers, according to the expert, are yet another aspect of Chavez' "anti-imperialistic doctrine," Bodemer said.

Author: Cristina Mendoza Weber (jam)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mayan Revelations for 2012: Classified Information & Mysticism

Reuters, by Steve Pond at TheWrap, Mon Aug 15, 2011

The Mexican government is releasing new information from the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilization to the makers of a documentary, "Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond."

But what exactly those revelations will be is hazy.

TheWrap's exclusive interviews with producers Raul Julia-Levy and Ed Elbert and the tourism minister for the Mexican state of Campeche, Luis Augusto Garcia Rosado, left lots of unanswered questions.

The filmmakers promised that they'll be revealing previously classified information and unveiling Mayan wisdom vital to the future of humanity. They also said, however, that they had yet to see this classified info.

"This is very important for humanity, not just for Mexico," said Julia-Levy (left), the son of the late actor Raul Julia.

"This information has been protected for 80 years, and now it's important for people to understand the series of events that are coming, and the consequences for all of us."

But Julia-Levy has been specifically ordered not  to talk about any of the more mystical possibilities that might strain credulity as Mexico prepares to launch the far-reaching (and tourism-inducing) 2012 Mayan World Program.

Mexican minister Rosado, who was quoted talking about contact between the Mayans and extraterrestrials in a press release that was subsequently recalled, now paints this as a simpler, more archaeological-oriented documentary.

"The Mayans used to construct one pyramid over another," he told TheWrap. "In the site at Calakmul (photo below), workers for INAH [the National Institute of Anthropology and History] have discovered rooms inside the pyramid that have never been seen or explored before.

"And we're letting this documentary film there, to see what has been discovered inside the pyramid."   

The film, in other words, might be a serious, eye-opening exploration of Mayan culture and artifacts uncovered by archaeologists, or it might be considerably more wild-eyed and speculative than that.

Julia-Levy, for his part, talks about revealing Mayan knowledge of future catastrophes, and "shocking" wisdom that will tell the world "this is what we have created on our planet, this is what's coming, and this is what we can do to fix it."

In the summer of 2010, Julia-Levy said he was writing a novel variously entitled "Chronicles of the Mayan Tunnel" and "Secrets of the Mayan Time Machine." He and Elbert were also going to make a 3D movie from that novel starring himself and Wesley Snipes, he said at the time.

And several reports said the novel itself was being written with the help of "secret information" never before released by the Mexican government.

But in their conversations with TheWrap, Julia-Levy and Elbert dismissed that project as a "Harry Potter"-style piece of fiction with no connection to the current documentary, and said that the film has been set aside because Snipes is serving a prison sentence for tax evasion.

"We put that film on hold," said Elbert. "Dollar-wise, this documentary might be smaller, but it is based on the release of new and important knowledge from the Mayans."

The English-language documentary will be directed by Juan Carlos Ruflo (whose other films include the 2006 Sundance winner "In the Pit"), and will begin shooting later this year. Elbert said the filmmakers are currently talking to investors and waiting for the government to give them their first look at the material and the site.

Julia-Levy said he'd been made aware of secret Mayan information by former Mexican president Vicente Fox, and that after four years of phone calls he finally got the okay from current president Felipe Calderon.

"At the moment, talk of the Mayans is a big thing," confirmed Rosado. "We've counted over three million websites talking about the end of the Mayan calendar, and we have been contacted by a lot of producers who want to come and film on our sites."

The Mexican government, said Elbert, is adamant that the film get an initial theatrical release, which is planned for next fall. "It has to be released before the end of the Mayan calendar, which is December 21, 2012," said Julia-Levy.

That’s the date that the Maya "long count calendar" comes to the end of a 5,126-year cycle. Many scholars have said that the belief that the Maya calendar actually ends on that date, rather than simply resetting for another cycle, is erroneous -- and the implication that the calendar predicts a worldwide cataclysm is wrong.

Asked if the movie will involve aliens, mystical elements or doomsday scenarios that have fueled the popular imagination, Julia-Levy declined to elaborate.

"I'm not allowed to speak about that," he said. "Everything is going to come out in time, but I can't comment on aliens or on 2012.

"I can just say that the Mexican government is preparing to tell humanity and the world things that are critical for us, for the way we live, for the way we've been handling the planet."

Related Article:

Mayan Secrets to Be Revealed by Mexican Government in '2012' Doc

‘’… We have discussed with you that the Mayans had a system in their observatories besides pure astronomy. Like many of the ancients, they used their intuition to develop systems around the calendar that were the esoterics [spiritual] of the study of time fractals and predictions of potentials used even today. We told you that you are in a 36-year window representing the precession of the equinoxes, the center of that time window, which is 2012. We told you this 36-year event is what you have called the 2012 Galactic Alignment energy, and also what you have called The Great Shift. If this is so, this means it was predictable - and many predicted it. Also, if this is so, it means it was expected, and the potentials of the expectations are upon you now…. “