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, October 31, 2013

Cuba's Tower of Babel gives free medical education

Google – AFP, Rigoberto Diaz (AFP), 31 October 2013

Students take anatomy lessons at the Latin American Medicine School (ELAM), 
on October 14, 2013 in Havana (AFP/File, Adalberto Roque)

Havana — On a beach outside Havana stands the crown jewel of Cuba's renowned international program of medical education, training 13,000 students from around the world free of charge.

"Studying medicine was my life's dream. But for a poor family like mine, that was impossible," 18-year-old Merady Gomez of Honduras told AFP at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).

"Here, I am making my dream come true, and I have high hopes of being able to help my country. This school is a blessing."

Students take anatomy lessons at the
 Latin American Medicine School (ELAM)
, on October 14, 2013 in Havana (AFP/File,
Adalberto Roque)
Some 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of the Cuban capital, the school welcomes students from 124 different countries, most of them from low-income families.

Spread across 120 hectares (297 acres) dotted with palm trees, its 28 buildings, recently painted in blue and white, hold more than 130 classrooms, labs, dormitories, cafeterias and a hospital.

ELAM is one of three universities launched by Cuban revolutionary leader and former president Fidel Castro to boost his international credentials, with the other two dedicated to sports and film.

But unlike the film school, it has always been free, representing Castro's view that healthcare is a fundamental right.

With an average of one doctor per 148 inhabitants, Cuba is among the best-served countries in terms of health, according to the World Health Organization.

Ahmed Bokovi, a 22-year-old from Chad, thanked "God and Cuba" for giving him this "great opportunity to study medicine for free."

Douglas Macheri, 20, of Zimbabwe said he was following in the footsteps of his father, who studied medicine in Cuba before returning home to treat the poor in his country.

Of the 13,282 students currently enrolled, only 1,349 live in Santa Fe, where the first two years of the six-year program are taught.

The rest of the coursework is taught in more than a dozen institutions spread across the communist island, all in Spanish.

Students take lessons at the Latin 
American Medicine School (ELAM),
 on October 14, 2013 in Havana (AFP/
File, Adalberto Roque)
The school trains students in nearly all medical specialties, and students often choose their focus depending on the needs of their home country.

"One of our big successes is that we are like a big family, despite our many ethnic, cultural, religious or political differences," said Victor Diaz of the school's external relations team.

In the 14 years since it first opened its doors, explained co-director Heidi Soca, ELAM has graduated 17,272 doctors from 70 countries, "with the basic objective of having them return to their home countries and work with the most disadvantaged people."

But the school is not without its critics. Many of Cuba's opponents abroad claim the island's communist regime is using school to indoctrinate a global network of leftist medical professionals.

Soca rejects this.

"No politics at school," she insisted. "Here, we study medicine humanely and in solidarity... Not like other countries where medicine is considered a merchandise."

She said critics were just frustrated to see ELAM students compete with more "commercial doctors".

"Our students often go work in places where local doctors do not want to go, and their scientific and technical level is recognized around the world," she added.

ELAM's internationalist mission carries it beyond Cuba's shores. The school leads training programs in 67 countries and serves 26,000 students.

But Cuba has fallen on hard economic times. And ELAM's ability to provide quality education free of charge is being eroded.

Students take lessons at the Latin American 
Medicine School (ELAM), on October 14, 
2013 in Havana (AFP/File, Adalberto Roque)
Last year, the school received its first paying students, though they had received grants from their home countries.

"The country's economic hardship is no secret to anyone, and we need to find new sources of funding," Soca acknowledged.

One of the solutions being studied is to make students pay for specialized studies.

Cuba is now being forced to boost the number of bilateral agreements with different countries so that they can pay for part of the costs currently assumed by Havana.

Among the experts in training is an Ecuadoran couple -- Ingrid Toapanda, 28, and Fernando Cruz, 31.

They are finishing a specialization in clinical genetic medicine, after working with the Cuban mission in Haiti and with handicapped people in Ecuador.

"After so many years living away from family, it's true that you lose something. But the reward is this unique opportunity Cuba provides to train us and allow us to give back this knowledge to our people," Toapanda said.

Related Article:

Brazilian oil tycoon nears bankruptcy

Company owned by Eike Batista, who boasted he would be richest man in world, asks for protection from creditors

The Guardian, Jonathan Watts in Rio de Janeiro, Thursday 31 October 2013

Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista with a Mercedes-Benz SLR he kept in his
sitting room. Photograph: Eduardo Martino/Redux/Eyevine

The Brazilian owner of an oil company who – less than two years ago – boasted that he was on course to become the richest man in the world, took the first step in filing for bankruptcy yesterday after one of the most spectacular falls in global corporate history.

Lawyers from Eike Batista's firm OGX said they had asked a court in Rio de Janeiro to grant them protection from creditors.

The bankruptcy – said to be the biggest ever seen in Latin America – is the latest stage in the rapid break-up of the empire built by Batista, whose wealth was estimated at $34.2bn in March 2012.

Back then, his companies were expanding aggressively into offshore oil and gas fields, planning to build the biggest shipyard in the southern hemisphere, and bidding for everything from world cup stadium management to entertainment licenses.

But poor output from OGX's wells has prompted major investors to pull out of Batista's companies even more quickly than they rushed in. The share price of OGX has plummeted, and earlier this month the company failed to make an interest payment.

If the court approves the request, OGX will have 60 days to come up with a corporate restructuring plan.

The 56-year-old Batista – a former racing car driver – has already sold off his fleet of six private planes and helicopters, according to local media, and is dismantling his yacht.

Batista's demise may also have a wider impact on confidence in the economy, which limped along last year with growth of less than 1%.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Overwhelming UN vote against US embargo of Cuba

Google – AFP, Tim Witcher (AFP), 29 October 2013

View of the General Assembly at the United Nations June 7, 2012 in New York (AFP/File, Timothy A. Clary)

UNITED NATIONS (United States) — A record-equalling 188 countries on Tuesday condemned the five-decade-old US embargo against communist Cuba in an annual UN General Assembly vote that signalled hardening opposition to US sanctions.

Only Israel joined the United States in opposing resolution, the smallest number ever. Last year two allies voted with the US government.

Three Pacific island states normally close to the United States -- Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau -- abstained as the barrage of criticism of the embargo reached a new peak in the 22nd annual vote at the UN Assembly.

China, Iran, which has launched a bid to thaw relations with the US administration, Latin American and African nations all publicly condemned the United States.

"The US policy against Cuba is suffering from an absolute international isolation and discredit and lacks every ethical or legal ground," Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said.

While the United States has eased travel restrictions on Cubans, Parrilla said: "Sanctions remain intact and are being fully implemented."

Cuba has lost more than $1.1 trillion dollars because of the embargo, according to the minister who told the meeting how the blockade prevents Cuba from getting heart and anti-AIDS drugs for children.

The United States is being used as an "external scapegoat" for the island's problems, a US diplomat, Ronald Godard, hit back in an address to the meeting.

"Our sanctions policy toward Cuba is just one of the tools in our overall effort to urge respect for the civil and human rights" upheld by the UN, Godard said.

He said that two billion dollars in remittances were sent to Cuba from the United States in 2012 and that the United States is the biggest foreign food supplier to the island.

"The international community cannot in good conscience ignore the ease and frequency with which the Cuban regime silences critics, disrupts peaceful assembly (and), impedes independent journalism," Godard said in an appeal to other countries to oppose the resolution.

The United States started imposing measures after Fidel Castro seized power in 1959 and nationalized US-owned properties. An official embargo was imposed in 1962.

Envoys from around the world slammed US policy.

Iran called off a diplomatic ceasefire with the United States to condemn the embargo as a "despicable practice." The blockade "flouts international law," said Iran's deputy UN ambassador Hossein Dehghani.

"The call of the international community is getting louder and louder, demanding that the US government change its policy toward Cuba," China's deputy UN ambassador Wang Min told the debate.

Bolivia's UN ambassador Sacha Llorenty Soliz said the embargo was "sullying the history of mankind" and finished his speech with the rallying cry: "Up with Cuba -- dear Cuba!"

European nations now oppose the embargo because US legislation even punishes foreign firms that trade with Cuba.

The United States last year eased restrictions on visas for Cubans. The Cuban government has also made travel easier for its nationals.

Cubans have made more than 180,000 trips abroad this year, according to official figures. The US interests section in Havana granted 16,767 visas to Cubans in the first half of 2013, up nearly 80% over the same period in 2012.

Esteban Morales, a Cuban intellectual and specialist on relations with the United States believes the increased travel could be a chink in the armor that could help "end" the embargo.

But other experts say the measures are too timid.

Mavis Anderson of the Latin America Working Group, a non government groups, said that the US administration would have to take a stronger step such as taking Cuba off its list of countries supporting terrorism if it wants better relations.

"The international community believes that Cuba should not be there ," said Anderson.

Ecuador could still consider Snowden's asylum bid

Google – AFP, 29 October 2013

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Ecuador's President Rafael
Correa during their joint press conference in the Kremlin in Moscow, on October 29,
2013 (AFP, Alexander Nemenov)

Moscow — Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said on Tuesday that his country could still consider an application for political asylum from US fugitive Edward Snowden.

"If Mr. Snowden ends up in the territory of Ecuador at some point, for example, if he comes to a diplomatic mission in some country and asks for asylum, we will accept his application, look at all the legal aspects, and make a decision," the Ecuadoran leader said in a press-conference in Moscow after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, is wanted in the United States for espionage and other charges after leaking details of vast US telephone and internet surveillance programmes.

He was granted asylum by Russia on August 1, after spending over a month holed up in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

Snowden wrote to a slew of countries seeking asylum while at the airport, although he mostly received swift rejections.

Correa, whose country has been sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its embassy in London since 2012, said at the time that Ecuador cannot process Snowden's request until he makes it to its territory, suggesting instead that Russia grants him refuge.

Asked on Tuesday if he discussed the Snowden case with Putin at their meeting in Moscow, Correa said "absolutely not".

Snowden is now in hiding in Russia, although a video was released this month of him meeting with four former US government employees who became whistleblowers and who presented him with an award in an unidentified location.

Snowden was initially thought to be headed for Latin America to seek asylum, but got stuck in Sheremetyevo during a layover after the US authorities revoked his passport.

His Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said in recent interviews that Snowden is now likely to remain in Russia.

Chilean gets life over murder of gay man Daniel Zamudio

BBC News, 28 October 2013

Patricio Ahumada was considered the leader of the attackers

Related Stories

A man in Chile has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a gay man who was brutally attacked in a park in Santiago in March 2012.

Three other men have been jailed for between seven and 15 years.

Daniel Zamudio, 24, was beaten unconscious, burned with cigarettes and had swastikas carved into his skin. He died of his injuries three weeks later.

The crime shocked the country and prompted legislators to approve a bill against homophobic crimes.

But correspondents say a similar assault in recent days has led to calls for tougher action.

A week ago, a 21-year-old gay man was beaten up in a provincial town 60km (37 miles) south of Santiago and is still fighting for his life, the BBC's Gideon Long reports from the Chilean capital.

Activists say the man has had one of his eyes cut out with a knife by the attackers.

'Total disregard for human life'

Mr Zamudio's family and friends clapped as the four sentences were read out at a court in Santiago on Monday, but his mother later said she thought some of the sentences were too lenient.

"I just want them to rot in prison for what they did. Let them dry up behind bars," Jacqueline Veras told the Associated Press.

Patricio Ahumada Garay was sentenced to life in prison by the a panel of three judges.

Daniel Zamudio was attacked
 for several hours
Two of his accomplices, Alejandro Angulo Tapia and Raul Lopez Fuentes, were given 15-year sentences.

The youngest of the group, Fabian Mora Mora, was jailed for seven years because he co-operated with investigators and had no previous convictions.

After the four men were found guilty last week, Judge Juan Carlos Urrutia said they had shown "total disregard for human life".

Daniel Zamudio was attacked on the night of 2 March 2012 at the San Borja de Alameda park.

He was left for dead after an ordeal that lasted for several hours.

The attackers broke one of his legs with a large stone, beat him with bottles, and carved swastikas into his body with broken glass before walking away.

He was unable to recover from such serious injuries and died in a hospital 25 days later.

Chile's Gay Liberation and Integration Movement told the Efe news agency that Mr Zamudio had "made history in the fight against discrimination".

"He touched the whole country about the gravity of homophobia," it said.

Monday, October 28, 2013

NSA scandal journalist Greenwald urges Germany to protect Snowden

Deutsche Welle, 28 October 2013

The journalist who worked with US whistleblower Edward Snowden has urged Germany to offer protection to the former intelligence operative. Meanwhile, Berlin is to debate claims the US spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In an interview with German television on Monday, Brazil-based Glen Greenwald said Germany should offer asylum to former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden, who is currently being granted temporary asylum in Russia.

Through the British newspaper The Guardian, US journalist Greenwald uncovered details of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program early this year based on leaks from Snowden, a former NSA contractor.

In an interview with German public broadcaster ARD, Greenwald said the extent of spying activity of the NSA - including the eavesdropping on Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone - would not be known without information made available by Snowden.

"Germany is precisely one of the countries that has most benefited from these revelations, from the start," said Greenwald.

"Rather than thanking him or being grateful or just doing their duty under the law to protect people who are being politically persecuted, the German government has turned its back on him and allowed its ally the United States to threaten his political rights and persecute him."

"I think it really is up to the German people to ask why that is," said Greenwald, who no longer works for The Guardian.

Special parliamentary session

Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, is set to debate the spying affair on November 18 - signifying something of a change of heart on the part of Merkel's government. Such a debate had been requested by opposition parties weeks ahead of the German general election on September 22, but this was refused.

The formation of a special committee to discuss the NSA affair is also seen as likely, something that would require the approval of a third of Bundestag lawmakers. While the opposition Green and Left parties have only about a fifth of seats in the assembly, the CDU/CSU grouping and its expected coalition partner the SPD have said they would support an "appropriate" motion by the opposition.

Greenwald said that Snowden would be a "logical choice" to answer questions as a witness at the committee, but that he would need a guarantee that his basic rights would be respected. Several German deputies have also called for Snowden to be summoned.

However, the office of Chancellor Merkel said there were no plans to ask Snowden to attend.

The German government on Monday said it has learnt nothing new of about the spying affair since it came to light on Monday. A representative of the chancellor also refused to answer a question about whether Obama had apologized to Merkel.

"I never report on the confidential conversations of the chancellor," said the spokesman.

White House mulls changes

Meanwhile, the White House has said it believed some constraints were needed in light of recent revelations. As well as the spying on the German chancellor, the NSA is accused of tapping millions of phone calls of Spanish citizens the space of just a month. It is also accused of carrying out vast online trawling operations in that country.

"We recognize there needs to be additional constraints on how we gather and use intelligence," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"We also need to ensure that our intelligence resources are most effectively supporting our foreign policy and national security objectives, that we are more effectively weighing the risks and rewards of our activities," Carney said.

The head of the US Senate Intelligence Committee took a tougher line, calling for a "total review of all intelligence programs."

Senator Dianne Feinstein said her committee had been informed of the NSA's collection of phone records under a secret order. But she said the committee had been kept in the dark as to the extend of the surveillance.

"Unlike NSA's collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed," she said.

"With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of US allies - including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany - let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed."

Gold mining is ravaging Peruvian Amazon

Google – AFP, 28 October 2013

This photo shows the area where Peruvian police destroyed dredges, engines and
 other mineral extracting equipment from illegal gold mining grounds in the Tambopata
 area, in the south eastern Madre de Dios area on September 25, 2013 (Ministerio del 
Interior/AFP/File, Ruben Grandez)

Washington — Skyrocketing gold prices have fueled an illegal mining rush that has tripled the rate of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon since 2008, researchers said Monday.

The findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences were made with a combination of satellite data, laser technology to map vegetation and on-the-ground surveys.

"The rate of forest destruction is huge," said Greg Asner, a tropical ecologist with the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Illegal mining has increased by 400 percent between 1999 and 2012, particularly after the global financial collapse led to a boom in the price of gold, seen as a more durable asset.

"Gold prices have gone up over time but they went up a lot in 2008 following the global recession," he told AFP. "It greatly accelerated this rush for gold."

More than half of all mining operations in the Peruvian Amazon are done by clandestine operations.

There are as many as 70,000 illegal miners engaged in a rampant black market that involves small operations of individual miners who are laboring to work off debt to their "gold lords," he explained.

"They have to mine to pay off their debt. The debt is mostly related to resources like food, subsistence resources, and it is a huge social problem now," Asner said.

The extent and pace of rainforest damage they cause goes far beyond what the Peruvian government and other non-governmental agencies have reported until now, he said.

Prior to 2008, the rate of forest loss from gold mining was 5,350 acres (2,166 hectares) per year.

That rose to a rate of 15,180 acres (6,145 hectares) annually after the global financial crisis, according to the research paper.

The problems associated with mining and deforestation include the release of sediment into rivers, mercury pollution that pervades the food chain, and overhunting of wild game.

The Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (CLASlite) helped detect and map all sizes of mining operations, using algorithms to detect changes to the forest in areas as small as 10 square meters, or about 100 square feet.

Researchers also used Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) data which employs a sweeping laser light across the vegetation canopy to create a three-dimensional image.

"Obtaining good information on illegal gold mining, to guide sound policy and enforcement decisions, has been particularly difficult so far," said co-author Ernesto Raez Luna, senior advisor at the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment.

"We are using this study to warn Peruvians on the terrible impact of illegal mining in one of the most important enclaves of biodiversity in the world," he added.

"Nobody should buy one gram of this jungle gold. The mining must be stopped."

Tough showing for Kirchner's allies in Argentina midterm elections

Deutsche Welle, 28 October 2013

Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's allies have taken a hit in the country's midterm elections. Her congressional majority is set to dwindle, paving the way for her exit in two years time.

Kirchner's former Cabinet chief, Sergio Massa, beat the president's hand-picked candidate Sunday by 12 points in the province of Buenos Aires, which contains nearly 40 percent of Argentina's more than 30 million voters.

With 72 percent of the votes counted, the governing Front for Victory won just 33 percent of the congressional votes overall. The result is a steep decline compared to the 54 percent Kirchner helped bring in when she won re-election in 2011.

Poor showing for Fernandez

Kirchner, Argentina's first democratically-elected female president, is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term in that election and the latest midterm vote is seen as paving the way for her exit in two years. Her shrunken congressional majority ends any hope of amending the constitution to allow her to run again in 2015.

The lackluster performance Sunday indicates that Argentines are growingly increasingly unhappy with Kirchner, whose presidency is quickly losing power. Her approval rating has plummeted to 30 percent since beginning her second term.

The 60-year-old Kirchner has been isolated in the run-up to the election, recovering from brain surgery throughout the election campaign. That operation was just the latest in a series of health problems, including low blood pressure and a thyroid tumor.

Massa takes center stage

Meanwhile, Massa's success on Sunday makes him a top candidate for the 2015 presidential vote. The 41-year-old Massa has split with Kirchner to form a splinter Peronist party.

Peronism, according to its supporters, represents a "third way" ideology: rejecting the extremes of capitalism and communism and promising social justice and economic independence. It has its roots in the political movement of former President Juan Domingo Peron and his second wife, Evita Peron. Opponents describe Peronism as a totalitarian ideology.

"We accept our differences, plurality, and as our Pope Francis says, harmony, which is the best way to build our society," Massa said Sunday evening, in a speech where he urged Argentina's politicians to "please listen to the message of the people."

dr,rc/lw (AFP, AP, Reuters)
Related Article:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Peru's UFO investigations office to be reopened

Air force to revive office that lay dormant for five years after increased sightings of 'anomalous aerial phenomena'

The Guardian, Dan Collyns in Lima, Sunday 27 October 2013

1963 picture purportedly showing a UFO in New Mexico. The Peruvian unit will
 bring together sociologists, archaeologists, astronomers, meteorologists and air force
personnel to analyse sightings. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

Peru's air force is reopening an office responsible for investigating UFOs due to "increased sightings of anomalous aerial phenomena" in the country's skies.

The Department of Investigation of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena (DIFAA), first created in 2001, is being revived after lying formant for five years because more UFO sightings have been reported to the media, said Colonel Julio Vucetich, head of the air force's aerospace interests division.

The unit will bring together sociologists, archaeologists, astronomers, meteorologists and air force personnel to analyse these events, Vucetich told the Guardian. "Many people don't report UFO sightings because they fear they will be labelled mad or made fun of, but nowadays with new technology – cellphone videos, Facebook, Twitter – they can be much more open, without feeling that they are the only ones who have seen what they've seen," he said.

"This new office needs those people to come and report their sightings so we can open a file and, using their information, do the respective analysis and investigation," he added, flicking through a hefty scrapbook of newspaper cuttings recording Peruvian UFO sightings dating from 1950 to the present day. Peru's Institute for Studies of Historic Aerospace is turning it into a book.

Vucetich said the office had responded to increased sightings of natural and artificial phenomena, from meteorites to "space junk" in Peru. "When you present evidence of UFOs, people can react with terror or hysteria, so we have to be very careful how we present it," he stressed.

UFO sightings are not uncommon in Peru. Two weeks ago, local media reported that villagers in Marabamba, in Peru's central Huanuco region, watched luminous balls of light in the sky over several days. Numerous reported sightings of UFOs have been made in Chilca, a beach resort 59km south of Lima. The unexplained sightings have attracted UFO investigators from around the world. One former resident, Paulina Jimenez, 82, told the Guardian how 16 years ago she saw "a huge number of flashing lights" over a bluff overlooking the resort's Yaya beach, the most regular location for UFO sightings among local residents.

"There are various locations in Peru where there are regular sightings. What's bad is that those reports have never been proven so I can't, on behalf of the air force, verify those," Vucetich said.

He added that he, too, had seen what he could only describe as "anomalous aerial phenomena". "On a personal basis, it's evident to me that we are not alone in this world or universe."

The UFO office has a telephone hotline, an email address ( and a website for reports of UFO sightings.

The revival of the UFO office will allow Peru to compare and share information with similar agencies in Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina.

Last week, Antonio Huneeus, a Chilean UFO investigator, told Open Minds UFO Radio that the Peruvian move responded to greater interest in such phenomena in the region.

"There are a few cultural reasons too, the public is more open-minded about the phenomenon of UFOs," he added.

Related Article:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Domestic workers unite behind international convention

Google – AFP, 26 October 2013

A domestic helper from Mindoro island gathers hanging clothes in Manila on
September 6, 2012 (AFP/File, Jay Directo)

Montevideo — Unions representing domestic workers met here Saturday to urge countries to ratify a year-old international convention that sets minimal labor standards for domestic workers.

So far only 10 countries have ratified the International Convention on Domestic Workers, which went into effect a year ago in September.

But Myrtle Witbooi, president of the International Domestic Workers Network, said, "We are entering a new era for domestic workers."

Witbooi's organization, which represents 300,000 domestic workers worldwide, is promoting the convention, which gives domestics the right to a minimum wage, daily and weekly rest hours and freedom to choose where they live and how they spend their leave.

"The International Labor Organization convention is for everyone, but if people don't know about it, it can't be invoked," she told AFP.

"We need to educate (workers) and we need to find those countries that don't even have national laws, so they can pass laws and ratify the convention," she said.

Uruguay, which was the first country to ratify the convention in 2012, is hosting the first international conference on domestic work.

"It's already in force here, and has been approved by more than 10 countries, and there are four or five countries in the process of approving it," said Uruguay's Labor Minister Eduardo Brenta.

He said salaries of domestic workers in Uruguay have risen 400 percent over the past eight years, and about 66 percent have a formal status now.

The ILO estimates that domestic workers -- housekeepers, cooks, gardeners, and babysitters -- account for between four and 10 percent of the workforce in developing countries, and 2.5 percent in industrialized countries, or about 52.6 million people overall.

But the ILO believes the numbers employed as domestics could be as high as 100 million people, because of undercounting by some countries.

Reports presented at the conference said 60 percent of under age domestic workers were found in Asia, including an estimated 1.5 million in Indonesia, one million in the Philippines, 420,000 in Bangladesh and 100,000 in Sri Lanka.

Legal protections for domestic workers are minimal in Asia, according to the ILO, which said 797 cases of torture have been reported by media over the past 10 years in Bangladesh.

In Indonesia, 472 cases of violence against domestics have been reported and in Malaysia 13 domestics were killed in 2011 alone.

Moreover, in 97 percent of Asian countries, domestic workers have no legal right to weekly rest or annual vacations.

In Latin America, ILO estimates that there are more than 14 million domestic workers, and that it is the principal occupation of women in the region.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Pesticide illness triggers anti-Monsanto protest in Argentina

Deutsche Welle, 25 October 2013

Monsanto pesticides are causing birth defects and cancer in Argentina, according to a new report. In a farming community near Córdoba, residents say they have been poisoned by pesticides used in soy fields.

Sofía Gatica sits in the sun on a café patio in the Argentine city of Córdoba. She talks about raising her three children in Ituzaingó, a Córdoba suburb surrounded by soy fields. In the mid-1990s her oldest son became extremely ill.

"When he was four years old, he came down with the illness that left him temporarily paralyzed," she recalls. "He was admitted to the hospital. They told me that they didn't know what was wrong with him."

The Gatica family lived just fifty meters from fields planted with genetically-modified soy. Planes regularly flew overhead, spraying the plants with the herbicide glyphosate. Slowly, the entire suburb started getting sick.

Argentina is the world's third-largest
soy producer
"Children were being born with deformities," Sofia says, "little babies were being born with six fingers, without a jawbone, missing a skull bone, with kidney deformities, without an anus - and a lot of mothers and fathers were developing cancer."

In 1999, Sofía Gatica gave birth to her fourth baby, a little girl. Three days later, the baby died of kidney failure. The loss of her child prompted Gatica to take action. She decided to find out what was happening in her neighborhood.

"I went door-to-door and did a survey - asking each mother for the sick person's name, address, clinic, everything. And each mother sent me to another, and to another, and so on."

Major health consequences

Soon Sofia Gatica was joined by others. "The mothers started to come help me, to tell me, 'Look, I have another sick person.' They came to me by themselves and decided to join the struggle."

The group named themselves the Mothers of Ituzaingó. They took their survey to the government and demanded an immediate investigation. In 2002, the government agreed.

The introduction of patented seeds and chemicals has transformed Argentina's
agricultural sector

The results were alarming. The area's water supply was polluted, and eighty percent of the neighborhood's children had agrotoxins in their blood.

Around this time, a doctor at the University of Buenos Aires - Andrés Carrasco - proved that the herbicide glyphosate can cause birth defects in vertebrates. "In most cases, the fetus dies before birth because of its deformities," Carrasco explain said in an interview with DW. "The inhalation or the introduction of these agrotoxins kills the embryo."

According to a new report from the Associated Press, there are similar cases being recorded across Argentina. Monsanto herbicides and pesticides are drifting into residential communities and seeping into water sources, farmers are using the chemicals without proper protective gear and discarded pesticide containers are being used to store water and other farm goods.

The report signals growing concern among doctors, who warn that these chemicals may be the cause of rising cancer rates, birth defects and respiratory illness. Cancer rates in Santa Fe are reportedly two to four times higher than the national average. In Chaco, birth defects quadrupled in the ten years after biotechnology for improving crop yields was introduced.

Pesticides for food security

In the mid-1990s, Monsanto introduced soybean seeds engineered to resist herbicide. Argentine farmers were quick to start using it in their fields, which improved productivity and eventually turned the country into the urned the country into the world's third largest soy producing nation. Despite the growing anti-pesticide and anti-GMO movements, many farmers remain convinced that Argentina’s economic stability and future food security depends on the continued use of Monsanto’s products.

César Soldano has been farming in Córdoba and the nearby province of Santiago del Estero for three decades. He plants soy and corn in the spring and summer, and wheat and garbanzo beans in the winter. The land where he now farms wasn't productive until he started using genetically-modified soy beans and the glyphosate herbicide.

"This was all scrubland," Soldano says, gesturing to his fields and adds that glyphosate enabled him to transform the landscape.

"Monsanto's 'Roundup-Ready' soy means that the soil doesn't have to be turned," Soldano continues. "The glyphosate destroys all plant growth except the soybean. This makes it possible to conserve water and grow crops."

Argentine soy is considered essential
for food supply as the global population
Soldano drives around his fields, describing his irrigation system and explaining that today's green shoots will soon become garbanzo plants. Before the arrival of glyphosate, he says, farming techniques caused erosion, depleted the region's water supply, and polluted the environment with chlorine-based weedkillers, which have now been internationally banned.

"Our crops were not productive. And when this technological change came about, everything changed radically," Soldano notes. "The person who was able to alter the plant's nucleus in order to improve our food crops deserves a Nobel Prize."

Soldano points out that genetically-modified soy has also made an important impact on Argentina's economy. Almost ten percent of the national government's budget comes from taxes on soy.

Attacks on anti-pesticide campaigners

Sofía Gatica, however, doesn't believe the short-term economic benefits make the long-term damage worthwhile. Her continued protests against genetically-modified crops and the pesticides used with them has made her a target. She was harassed for two years by a woman who met her at the bus stop and insulted her for the entire forty-minute bus ride to work.

Once, Gatica says, a man appeared at her home and threatened her with a shotgun, telling her to give up the fight against soy farmers. "Then the threatening phone calls began. They told me that I had three children and that I would end up with two. And it was awful not to know if your child would come home."

But Gatica has continued to speak out against pesticides and GMO crops. And slowly, she and other activists are gaining support. "Everyone is demanding pesticide-free borders - for agrotoxins not to be sprayed near people. Some places now have 1,500-meter (4,921-feet) borders, others 2,500 meters," Gatica says.

Soy is broadly used as animal feed,
tofu and biodiesel
"And now we've got clean water in Ituzaingó, where before we didn't have potable water. And Córdoba has started a tumor registry; before there wasn't a registry of people with cancer," she says.

In a landmark case last year, a soy farmer and the pilot of a fumigation plane were found guilty of spraying harmful herbicides near residential areas, says Enrique Viale, the president of the Argentine Association of Environmentalist Lawyers. "A court in Córdoba gave a verdict that, for the first time, punished a farmer for the crime of polluting with agrotoxins," Viale says. "The verdict is the product of the struggle by citizens, by women like Sofía Gatica, by the Mothers of Ituzaingó. It's helpful and valuable as a precedent, but it's not widespread yet."

Sofía Gatica says she wants Argentina's government to strictly control the activities of soy farmers. She wants genetically-modified soy and all the associated chemicals banned - and the multinational companies that sell them to leave Argentina. "The multinationals come here to steal our land, to kick out the people who live on the land, to steal our water, and to sow death," she says.

But the world's population is growing and soy from the farmlands of Argentina is considered essential for ensuring food security for the future - making the battle between anti-GMO campaigners and soy farmers far from over.