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, January 31, 2013

Behind the scenes of Latin America's internet 'brain'

BBC News, Thomas Sparrow, Mundo, Miami, 31 January 2013

Access to one of the building's floors requires US government clearance

Related Stories

It may be one of central Miami's most recognisable buildings, yet only a few people know what goes on inside the sturdy concrete block with massive spheres on its roof.

The cube is the Network Access Point (NAP) of the Americas, one of the world's largest data centres, which redirects most of the digital information that comes from Latin America.

About 90% of data traffic from Central and South America passes through the south Florida facility before continuing to its final destination.

The NAP is, in short, one of the internet's brains - facilitating people's online activity, according to Douglas Alger, author of The Art of the Data Center.

"If you send an e-mail, download music, do social networking or buy something, the equipment to make it happen is based in a data centre," he tells the BBC.

In his book Mr Alger describes 18 data centres around the world - including NAP - which play an important role in global digital communications.

"Many of them face the outside world, but you also have others that are really private and support the activity being done by specific businesses," he adds.

Tight security

Security measures are especially strict at the NAP, and it is rare to be granted access.

Miami's Network Access Point
  • Located in central Miami, NAP is a purpose-built data centre designed to withstand category five hurricanes
  • Construction started in 2000, and it came online in June 2001, just after the dot-com bubble burst and three months before 9/11 - "the worst time in internet history to bring a company like this one online", according to NAP engineer Ben Stewart
  • The building has an uninterrupted power supply provided by 12 systems
  • More than 160 carriers exchange information
  • The six-storey 750,000-square-foot (70,000-square-metre) structure is full of cables and computers.

It may seem daunting but on a tour of the site Ben Stewart, NAP's senior vice-president for facility engineering, offers assurance.

"Many people do not understand what the internet is," he says. "They think it is a very complex thing to understand, but it is very simple."

He likens the operation to an international airport.

Instead of passengers with excess baggage there are e-mails with heavy attachments, instead of aircraft carriers - internet carriers.

Just as airports have security checks, he says, Miami's concrete cube features its own X-ray machines and sniffer dogs as well as internet-based firewalls, intrusion detectors and other protection devices.

That is why carriers and customers as diverse as Subway restaurants, the library of the US Congress and several US government agencies also use the facility owned by Terremark.

As most of their information is sensitive, no cameras or other electronic devices are allowed. Access to the third floor - 125,000 square feet entirely dedicated to US government users - is restricted to US citizens and requires government clearance.

Centre's heart

A team of experts ensure the centre
is kept safe and operational
The centre has a team of experts who sit in front of a dozen giant screens, displaying everything from the FBI's most wanted list to the weather forecast and 24-hour news channels.

Their job is to make sure this digital hub is kept safe and operational, no matter where threats might come from.

The heart of the operation is the so-called peering room - an area on the second floor where internet networks are connected, so that each network's customers can exchange information.

About 18 or 19 gigabits per second go through the NAP's peering fabric, says Mr Stewart - the equivalent of about 36,000 songs per second.

The centre, he adds, is "a playground for an engineer".

The NAP, unlike other data centres, rents its equipment and space to private and public customers, so that they can share information between them.

"For our customers, the main attraction is primarily up time," he explains.

"If you are an internet company, if you have got a store front or you are streaming video, you need to be in a facility that is not going to go down."

To prevent any service interruptions, the walls have 7in (18cm) thick, steel-reinforced concrete exterior panels; the building has no windows, and it is located in one of the highest parts of Miami.

What's more, the satellite dishes on the roof are covered, so no-one can easily determine which way they are pointing.


But what if a devastating weather came to south Florida, such as Hurricane Andrew, which wrought unprecedented havoc in 1992? Would the internet crash in Latin America?

Internet users in Latin America are
 unlikely to be aware their data passes
through the Miami centre
Mr Stewart says it would not because the internet is "self-healing".

According to the engineer, if NAP stopped working, it would also stop sending the signals that indicate it is receiving information. Routers would therefore stop sending data via that path and would seek a different one.

Users might feel that their information took longer than normal because it would have to take alternative routes, but it would eventually reach its destination.

This ensures that "internet communications never fail, even if NAP Miami crashes - which won't happen," he assures.

Cuba dissident Yoani Sanchez granted passport

BBC News, 31 January 2013

Related Stories

Yoani Sanchez has said she did
 not think she would be granted a
Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez says she has been granted a passport after years of being denied the right to travel abroad.

Ms Sanchez, who has criticised the Cuban government in her prize-winning blog Generation Y, announced the development on her Twitter account.

However, she said she was disappointed that her fellow activist, Angel Moya, was still denied a passport.

The move comes after Cuba eased travel restrictions for its citizens.

Ms Sanchez, 37, rose to prominence when she wrote about life in Cuba, emailing her blog entries to friends abroad to publish online.

Her writing led to her arrest last October as she prepared to cover the trial of politician Angel Carromero.

"Incredible! They called my house to tell me that my passport was ready. They just gave it to me," Sanchez tweeted.

"Now the only thing left is to be able to board that plane."

She added: "I am both happy and sad; on the one hand, I have my documents to be able to travel, but many of my friends like Angel Moya, are not going to be allowed."

Ms Sanchez has said she was denied the right to travel 20 times under Cuba's old travel law and doubted she would get a passport under the new ones.

Cubans have been queuing up
to receive their first passport
Cuba recently ended the need for exit permits, meaning a passport is the only document needed to travel abroad.

Queues outside Havana's immigration offices have grown longer than ever as Cubans rushed to apply for their first passport.

Havana imposed the restrictions soon after the 1959 revolution to halt a mass exodus of the island's most talented people to the US.

The move was widely criticised outside the island, and much complained about within.

Correspondents say that by making it easier to travel, the authorities are gambling that more Cubans will work and study abroad then bring their money and expertise back to the island.

Some restrictions, however, do remain in place.

The new travel law refers to "preserving the qualified workforce" which officials say includes athletes and "vital" professionals as well as Communist Party leaders.

Related Articles:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Guatemala ex-dictator to be tried for genocide

Google – AFP,  28 January 2013 

Former Guatemalan leader Jose Efrain Rios Montt, is seen during a court
hearing in Guatemala City on January 23, 2013 (AFP/File, Johan Ordonez)

GUATEMALA CITY — A Guatemalan judge on Monday ordered the trial of ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt for the genocide of the country's indigenous populations during his 1982-83 regime.

The landmark decision marks the first time that genocide proceedings have been brought in the country over the 36-year civil war that ended in 1996, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead, according to the UN.

Judge Miguel Galvez issued the order "opening the trial against Jose Efrain Rios Montt for the crimes of genocide" and crimes against humanity.

The 86-year-old former dictator, who has been under house arrest for a year, is accused of orchestrating the massacre of more than 1,750 indigenous Ixil Maya people in Quiche department during his time in power.

The former general is known for his "scorched earth" campaign against people the government claimed were leftist rebels but were often in fact members of indigenous Maya communities who were not involved in the conflict.

Rios Montt, dressed in a gray suit, arrived on time for the hearing. Upon his entry into the courtroom, a small group of retired military men saluted him.

Outside the courthouse in the center of Guatemala City, a group of relatives of victims set up a makeshift altar, where they placed flowers and other offerings, and burned incense.

Indigenous Maya communities make up a majority of the population in rural Guatemala.

Related Article:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Argentina, Iran agree on bombing probe

The Daily Star, AP, January 27, 2013

Handout picture released by the Argentinian Presidency of Argentinian Minister
 of Foreign Affairs Hector Timerman (R) and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar
Salehi as they exchange documents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 27,
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: Argentina and Iran have reached a breakthrough in the investigation of a Jewish center bombing that killed 85 people in Buenos Aires 19 years ago.

They have agreed to establish an international truth commission led by an independent legal expert of high moral authority to examine Argentina's worst terrorist attack. The commissioners will be able to examine evidence gathered by Argentine prosecutors, and travel to Teheran to question the Iranian suspects. It will then issue recommendations to both countries on how to proceed.

President Cristina Fernandez praised the agreement signed Sunday by foreign ministers Hector Timerman and Ali Akbar Salehi as "historic."

The plan now must be approved by the parliaments of both nations.

Related Article:

Fire at packed nightclub kills 233 in Brazil: police

Jakarta Globe, Jefferson Bernardes, January 28, 2013

Relatives of victims of a fire that broke out at a nightclub in Santa Maria,
southern Brazil, on January 27, 2012

At least 233 people died Sunday when a fire gutted a nightclub packed with students and killed merry-makers desperately clamoring to get past blocked doors, police and survivors said.

Shocked survivors, mostly young adults in the southern college town of Santa Maria, described a frantic rush to the exits as flames swept through the club, with scores of people getting trampled and passing out from smoke inhalation.

"It was sheer horror. I lost a very dear friend. The emergency exits did not work, and then I lost my friend in the confusion," young dentist Mattheus Bortolotto told local television Band News.

"Then a girl died in my arms. I felt when her heart stopped beating. I had only ever seen something like that in the movies."

Even outside, he said, "the metal barriers they used to keep people in line on their way in, ended up blocking people from getting out. People were bumping into each other, crushing each other, falling down.

"And the people who were at the back of the club were simply trapped."

Brazil quickly postponed an event dubbed "500 Days until World Cup-2014" set for Monday in the federal capital Brasilia.

"As a sign of mourning due to the tragedy in Santa Maria, Federal District governor Agnelo Queiroz, who is deeply saddened, has decided to push back the event that had been scheduled for National Stadium," his office said.

Another 131 people were injured, and the death toll from the inferno climbed rapidly as firefighters pulled bodies from the charred remains of the "Kiss" club, believed to have been packed with hundreds of revelers.

Health Minister Alexandre Padilha told a news conference the government's priority was "saving the lives that we still can save."

The tragedy appeared to be the deadliest such blaze in more than a decade, since a fire at a shopping center and discotheque in the central Chinese city of Luoyang killed more than 300 people in 2000.

Reports said the fire broke out after 2:00 am (0400 GMT) when the nightclub was hosting a university party featuring a rock band using pyrotechnics, but authorities have yet to offer an official explanation.

Survivor Michelle Pereira said the blaze broke out when a band member lifted a firework into the air, setting the ceiling on fire. The flames quickly engulfed the entire room.

"Everyone was pushing and shoving... The fire started out small, but in a matter of seconds it exploded," Taynne Vendruscolo, another survivor, told reporters. "Those who were close to the stage could not get out."

The discotheque's fire permit had expired in August 2011, the local press reported, citing Moises Fuchs da Silva, head of the state fire department.

Santa Maria fire chief Guido de Melo said the fire caused widespread panic, and that many revelers were trampled or died from smoke inhalation. He said club security blocked people from exiting, sparking panic and trampling.

Young men helped evacuate the wounded as firefighters doused the blackened shell of a red brick building with water and used sledge hammers to punch holes in the walls to get people out faster.

The bodies were taken to a sports stadium that was blocked off by police to keep grieving family members from streaming in.

Family members and survivors, many of them sobbing and some with soot-blackened faces, gathered outside in the hope of getting news of their loved ones. The town is home to the Federal University of Santa Maria.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cut short a visit to Chile, where she was attending a European and Latin American summit, to head to Santa Maria and oversee the response to the tragedy.

"It's a tragedy for all of us, and I cannot continue here at the summit, because my priority is the Brazilian people," the visibly emotional leader told reporters traveling with her in Santiago.

She said federal and local authorities are mobilizing "all resources, so that we do not just recover the bodies but also support families at this time and provide very efficient care to the injured."

Argentina's transplant center INCUCAI said it would be sending banked skin to help Brazil with a likely greater need for burn-related skin grafts.

The tragedy recalled a 2003 blaze in a nightclub in the US state of Rhode Island that killed 100 people and another in Buenos Aires in 2004 that killed some 200, both blamed on faulty safety measures.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Brazil to survey Amazon rainforest

BBC News, 26 January

Huge swathes of rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon have been cleared
by loggers

Related Stories 

The Brazilian government has announced that it plans to undertake the huge task of recording an inventory of the trees in the Amazon rainforest.

The Forestry Ministry said the census would take four years to complete, and would provide detailed data on tree species, soils and biodiversity in the world's largest rainforest.

The last exhaustive survey was carried out more than 30 years ago.

In that time the rainforest has become increasingly threatened by logging.

The Brazilian government made a commitment in 2009 to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80% by the year 2020.

'Inside knowledge'

According to the government, in 2012 the destruction of the Amazon rainforest reached its lowest level since monitoring began more than two decades ago.

But ministers said they would be able to act more effectively if they had more accurate data.

"We are going to come to know the rainforest from within," Forestry Minister Antonio Carlos Hummel said announcing the inventory.

Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said it would help the government to formulate environmental policies.

"In international debates about climate change, for example, we will know how much forest we have and what state it is in (...), we'll discover species, and gain knowledge about species becoming extinct, as well as information about the distribution of the forest and its potential economic use", Ms Teixeira said.

Brazil's national development bank said it would contribute $33m to the project.

The last detailed survey of the Brazilian Amazon was carried out in the 1970s, and its results published in 1983.

Forestry Minister Hummel said partial results would be published yearly, as it progressed.

Related Articles:

Brazil landless leader Cicero Guedes shot dead in Rio

BBC News, 26 January 2013

Related Stories

A leader of the landless movement in Brazil, Cicero Guedes, has been killed in Rio de Janeiro state.

Mr Guedes, 43, was shot dead on Saturday as he was cycling home.

He was killed near a former sugar plant which members of the landless movement, or MST, have occupied.

Non-governmental organisations say the number of landless activists killed over the past years has fallen but that the number of death threats issued against them has almost tripled.

Legal battle

The MST campaigns for land reform and the rights of landless workers and is considered the best organised social movement in Brazil.

MST activists said Mr Guedes, a sugar-cane cutter, had led the occupation of the Usina Cambahyba sugar plant in Campos, 285km (180 miles) north-east of Rio de Janeiro.

The sugar plant has been at the centre of a long-running legal battle between the landless and the heirs of its deceased owner.

A judge ruled last year that the plant and its surrounding land totalling about 3,500 hectares (8,600 acres) was "unproductive" and should be expropriated.

The heirs are appealing against the decision.

The MST, who had occupied the land for six years before being moved by police in 2006, staged a second occupation in November in an attempt to pressure the courts into speeding up their decision.

The Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) says conflicts over land in Brazil have risen and the number of activists threatened has jumped from 125 to 347 between 2010 and 2011.

Europe losing out to Chinese conquista

Deutsche Welle, 26 January 2013

China's growing economic presence in Latin America comes at Europe's expense. European leaders are trying to make up lost ground at this year's annual EU-Latin America Summit in Chile.

A battle for access to Latin America's markets is being waged between Europe and Asia. German companies, too, are increasingly exposed to Asian competition. That is why German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to seek closer ties with her Latin American counterparts at the summit between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in the Chilean capital Santiago this weekend (26-27.01.2013).

"The most important Latin American countries have very dynamic trade with the countries of the Pacific Rim and China," said Günther Maihold, deputy director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, who currently teaches at the Humboldt Institute in Mexico City. "The Europeans need to consider how to position themselves," Maihold told DW. "More is expected of them than just free trade agreements."

China conquers Latin America

Ten years ago, Asia's presence in Latin America was insignificant.Chinese and South Korean cars on Latin America's roads were as unthinkable as Chinese trains and roads.

But today, Chinese manufacturers JAC Motors and CN Auto have set up shop along with Ssangyong from South Korea - and competition for European manufacturers such as VW, Audi or BMW is gearing up.

German investors like ThyssenKrupp have invested in Latin America

"Chinese companies sometimes come with very attractive financing options with which we can not compete," said Rafael Haddad, head of Brazil Board, an association of German companies investing in Brazil, concedes.

Chinese companies are increasingly trying to buy up Latin American companies, Haddad told DW.

"Germany can't catch up"

According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), China increased its direct investment in Latin America and the Caribbean from $ 621 million in 2001 to nearly $ 44 billion in 2010 (including investment in the Caribbean offshore financial centers).

By comparison, German direct investment in the region grew over the same period from $41 billion to $50 billion.

Oliver Parche, coordinator of the German industry's Latin America Initiative, does not see the growing competition between Asia and Europe as a huge problem. "We cannot catch up with the Asian countries," he says, "but we will certainly improve our position in the coming years." As Division Head for North and South America at the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), Parche says he believes there is a "great future" for collaboration between German and Latin American small and mid-sized businesses.

Günther Maihold: Europe needs to
reach out to Latin America
Germany is still one of the major foreign investors in Latin America. The production volume of local German subsidiaries alone totaled $160 billion in 2010. According to a survey by the Chamber of Commerce's Latin American Association, German direct investment in Latin America doubled from 2001 to 2010, from $ 36 billion to $ 72 billion.

Germany is losing market share

However, Germany's economic influence in Latin America has waned compared to the 1990s. "After German reunification, the door opened to the east, and mid-sized businesses concentrated their resources there," Parche said.

In the 1990s, many Latin American countries embarked upon radical privatization programs. But Germany lagged behind its European neighbors when it came to buying up Latin American companies and resources: Spain became the second-largest investor after the United States, while Germany lost market shares.

In trade relations with the EU, Latin America still occupies a relatively modest position. In 2010, the 27 countries of the EU together exported more goods to Switzerland than to Brazil and Mexico: 105 billion euros worth of exports went to Switzerland, while exports to Brazil and Mexico together totaled a mere 52 billion euros.

Only one of the EU's ten most important trading partners is Latin American: Brazil.

At the summit in Santiago, the EU aims to bridge the growing economic distance between the two regions, at least politically. "A fresh start with less arrogance" is what Maihold is calling for: "The summit is an opportunity to reach out to Latin America," he said.

Because of its financial crisis, Europe needs to look more closely at Latin America as an equal partner. "If we do not seize this opportunity, there will be no future for this languishing relationship."

Related Article:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mexico top court orders French woman's release

Google – AFP, 23 January 2013 

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's Supreme Court ordered Wednesday the immediate release of a French woman serving 60 years in prison for kidnapping, ruling that authorities had violated her legal rights.

This undated picture released by her
 parents shows French Florence Cassez 30,
 from Bethune, northern France (AFP/File)
Three of five justices voted for the release of Florence Cassez, 38, who has been in prison for seven years.

Court president Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo instructed that the authorities notify the prison to "give total and absolute freedom to Florence Cassez."

Cassez has claimed her innocence ever since federal police re-enacted her arrest in an operation shown live on national television seven years ago on December 9, 2005.

Cassez was accused of being involved with a gang of kidnappers known as the Zodiacs, allegedly run by her ex-boyfriend Israel Vallarta.

Mexican television showed police storming Vallarta's ranch, where they arrested her and freed three hostages.

Interviewed on the spot by Televisa, the slight, red-haired woman looked stunned as she said: "I have nothing to do with this. I'm not his wife. I didn't know anything!"

It was later revealed that Cassez had been arrested on a road hours before the raid.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Secret papers show extent of senior royals' veto over bills

Court order reveals how approval of Queen and Prince Charles is sought on range of bills

The Guardian, Robert Booth, Monday 14 January 2013

The Queen was asked for consent on a range of bills, including those affecting
 her estates. There is growing concern in parliament at a lack of transparency
over the royals’ role in lawmaking. Photograph: Sergeant Dan Harmer

The extent of the Queen and Prince Charles's secretive power of veto over new laws has been exposed after Downing Street lost its battle to keep information about its application secret.

Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that overall at least 39 bills have been subject to the most senior royals' little-known power to consent to or block new laws. They also reveal the power has been used to torpedo proposed legislation relating to decisions about the country going to war.

The internal Whitehall pamphlet was only released following a court order and shows ministers and civil servants are obliged to consult the Queen and Prince Charles in greater detail and over more areas of legislation than was previously understood.

New laws required to receive the seal of approval from the Queen or Prince Charles cover issues from higher education and paternity pay to identity cards and child maintenance.

In one instance the Queen completely vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, a private member's bill that sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament.

She was even asked to consent to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 because it contained a declaration about the validity of a civil partnership that would bind her.

In the pamphlet, the Parliamentary Counsel warns civil servants that if consent is not forthcoming there is a risk "a major plank of the bill must be removed".

"This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a ceremonial role," said Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, which includes land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales' hereditary estate.

"It shows the royals are playing an active role in the democratic process and we need greater transparency in parliament so we can be fully appraised of whether these powers of influence and veto are really appropriate. At any stage this issue could come up and surprise us and we could find parliament is less powerful than we thought it was."

The veto has been used by Charles on more than a dozen occasions and has been described by constitutional lawyers as a royal "nuclear deterrent" that may help explain why ministers appear to pay close attention to the views of senior royals.

The guidance also warns civil servants that obtaining consent can cause delays to legislation and reveals that even amendments may need to be run past the royals for further consent.

"There has been an implication that these prerogative powers are quaint and sweet but actually there is real influence and real power, albeit unaccountable," said John Kirkhope, the legal scholar who fought the freedom of information case to access the papers.

The release of the papers comes amid growing concern in parliament at a lack of transparency over the royals' role in lawmaking. George has set down a series of questions to ministers asking for a full list of bills that have been consented by the Queen and Prince Charles and have been vetoed or amended.

The guidance states that the Queen's consent is likely to be needed for laws affecting hereditary revenues, personal property or personal interests of the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall.

Consent is also needed if it affects the Duchy of Cornwall. These guidelines effectively mean the Queen and Charles both have power over laws affecting their sources of private income.

The Queen uses revenues from the Duchy of Lancaster's 19,000 hectares of land and 10 castles to pay for the upkeep of her private homes at Sandringham and Balmoral, while the prince earns £18m-a-year from the Duchy of Cornwall.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: "It is a long established convention that the Queen is asked by parliament to provide consent to those bills which parliament has decided would affect crown interests. The sovereign has not refused to consent to any bill affecting crown interests unless advised to do so by ministers."

A spokesman for Prince Charles said: "In modern times, the prince of Wales has never refused to consent to any bill affecting Duchy of Cornwall interests, unless advised to do so by ministers. Every instance of the prince's consent having been sought and given to legislation is a matter of public record."

Graham Smith, director of Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state, has also called for full disclosure of the details of the occasions when royal consent has been refused.

"The suggestion in these documents that the Queen withheld consent for a private member's bill on such an important issue as going to war beggars belief," he said. "We need to know whether laws have been changed as the result of a private threat to withhold that consent."

The Cabinet Office fought against the publication of the 30-page internal guidance in a 15-month freedom of information dispute. It refused a request to release the papers from Kirkhope, a notary public who wanted to use them in his graduate studies at Plymouth University.

Cayman Islands to name previously hidden companies

The Cayman Islands will open the thousands of companies and hedge funds domiciled on the offshore Caribbean territory to greater scrutiny, in a break from decades of secrecy.

The Telegraph, 18 Jan 2013

CIMA, the three-islands' monetary authority, sent proposals, seen by the FT,
to  Cayman-based hedge funds and outlined plans to create a public database
 of funds domiciled on the island for the first time and will also list the funds’
directors, pending an ongoing consultation process due to close in mid-March.
Photo: Getty Images

The British overseas territory, which has been criticised as being one of the most secretive finance jurisdictions in the world, is introducing reforms that will make public the names of thousands of previously hidden companies and their directors, reports the Financial Times,

CIMA, the islands' monetary authority, sent proposals, seen by the FT, to Cayman-based hedge funds and outlined plans to create a public database of funds domiciled on the island for the first time and will also list the funds’ directors, pending an ongoing consultation process due to close in mid-March.

“In the 24 months subsequent to the onset of the financial crisis, the BVI Financial Services Commission, the Central Bank of Ireland, the Jersey Financial Services Commission, the Bahamas Financial Services Board and the Isle of Man Supervision Commission all updated their corporate governance codes, laws and/or regulations,” the FT reports CIMA said in one document.

CIMA did not respond to the FT's request for a comment.

The Cayman Islands are seen as a tax-haven by many companies to avoid payer higher rates of tax in other countries.

Related Articles
Last month, filings showed that Facebook hid almost half a billion pounds in a Cayman Islands tax haven last year in an effort to avoid paying tax in Britain and its other main markets.

Monday, January 21, 2013

'Curious' Cuban net cable has activated, researchers say

BBC News, 21 January 2013

Related Stories
Slow internet download speeds have
 been a frustration for Cuban internet
A high-speed fibre-optic cable connecting Cuba to the global internet appears to have finally been activated, monitoring experts have said.

Cubans currently rely on satellite connections - which are expensive and slow - to get online.

But the cable, which has been in place since 2011, has shown the first signs of activity, Renesys said.

Curiously, researchers noted traffic via the cable seemed only to be flowing into the country, not out of it.

"In the past week, our global monitoring system has picked up indications that this cable has finally been activated, although in a rather curious way," wrote Doug Madory, Renesys' senior researcher.

He explained that in the past week it had been noted that Telefonica, the Spanish telecoms company, had begun appearing in their data for Cuba.

When contacted by the BBC, Telefonica was not able to confirm that the activation had taken place.

But Renesys' data is a strong indicator that the cable is beginning to show signs of life - be it over five years since its original inception.


A joint project between the state-owned telecommunications companies of both Venezuela and Cuba, the Alternative Bolivariana para los Pueblos de nuestra America cable - known more succinctly as Alba-1 - had been hit by numerous delays before being completed in 2011.

The cable's activation coincided with
a change in visa rules
But users were left in the dark as to why they were unable to get themselves hooked up to the connection, and were forced to make do with the high-latency connections provided by satellite.

But in the past week, much lower latencies - meaning faster connections - have been observed in the country, a strong indicator that the cable was now in use.

But Mr Madory stressed: "These aren't exactly low latencies. Our measured latencies to Cuba are still quite high, albeit improved.

"The fact that the latencies to Cuba from many locations around the world have dropped below 480ms [milliseconds] means that the new Telefonica service cannot be entirely via satellite.

"However, if it were solely via submarine cables, we would expect latencies from many nearby countries to be less than 50ms."

Rule changes

Mr Madory speculated that the activation of the cable may be a sign the country is becoming "freer and more open" - particularly as the cable first showed signs of activity on the same day as rules about exit visas were changed.

The BBC has approached the Cuban government on the issue, but it is yet to comment.

Mr Madory went on to say that he did not believe there to be a China-style censorship firewall in place for Cuban internet users.

Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez writes
 about life in Cuba under the current
"In countries where we see latencies are impacted by censorship regimes, we often see a diurnal [daily] pattern in latencies," he said.

"This is due to traffic slowing during busy times when everyone is awake and using the Internet, and the censorship software is struggling to keep up.

"When looking at the distributions of these [Cuban] latencies over time, I see no diurnal pattern."

Despite the country's lacklustre internet, an online community has taken shape in the recent years. Most notably, blogger Yoani Sanchez rose to fame as a dissident blogger who wrote about life in Cuba.

Ms Sanchez used to email blog entries to friends outside of the country to publish online.

Her writing led to her being arrested in October last year as she prepared to cover the trial of politician Angel Carromero.
" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20,2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)