Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (C) addresses the
audience during a meeting of the annual Mercosur trade bloc presidential
summit in Mendoza June 29, 2012. (Credit: Reuters/Enrique Marcarian)

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals
Chinese President Xi Jinping (4-L, first row) poses with leaders of the CELAC group of Latin American and Caribbean states, in Brasilia, on July 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Nelson Almeida)
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

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

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ
The Conmebol headquarters in Luque, Paraguay, is seen on January 7, 2016, during a raid within the framework of the FIFA corruption scandal (AFP Photo/Norberto Duarte)

'Panama Papers' law firm under the media's lenses

'Panama Papers' law firm under the media's lenses
The Panama Papers: key facts on the huge journalists' investigation into tax evasion (AFP Photo/Thomas Saint-Cricq, Philippe Mouche)

Mossack Fonseca

Mossack Fonseca


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Friday, November 28, 2014

Argentina charges HSBC with helping tax evasion

Argentina's tax investigation agency has charged the British bank HSBC with helping thousands of Argentines to commit tax evasion. The charges were said to be related to bank accounts in Switzerland.

Deutsche Welle, 28 Nov 2014

The Argentine inland revenue service AFIP said on Thursday that it had charged HSBC with helping more than 4,000 Argentines evade some $3 billion (2.4 billion euros) in taxes.

The money was said to have been handled by intermediaries using offshore accounts, including accounts in Switzerland that were linked to HSBC Argentina.

"We have filed a charge for tax evasion and illicit association relating to bank accounts in Switzerland," said AFIP director Ricardo Echegaray.

Echegaray alleged that some accounts in Geneva are owned by HSBC Argentina's president, as well as other bank executives. He gave no details about whether the bank's operations had been suspended in Argentina.

"There's no doubt that the AFIP will keep cracking down on tax havens because our objective is to collect taxes and to avoid harming those who have less," said Echegaray.

Bank's troubles in Europe

AFIP said that it had received information from France, where the bank was last week placed under formal investigation for suspected aiding of tax evasion. HSBC has also been charged with fiscal fraud in Belgium.

The Argentine branch of HSBC along with some of its executives have now been charged in an Argentine federal court.

The bank's directors in Buenos Airies denied any wrongdoing. "HSBC Argentina emphatically rejects its participation in any illegal association, including any organization that allows capital flight aimed at evading taxes," the bank said in a statement.

Argentina's left-leaning government has recently denounced several foreign firms over alleged tax irregularities, including the household goods giant Proctor & Gamble which was accused of tax fraud and which had its activities in the country suspended.

Argentine officials have been particularly eager to keep capital in the country for the central bank to pay off government debts. The country has been barred from global credit markets since it defaulted on its debt in the 2001-2002 financial crisis and suffered a further default in July this year.

rc/jm (AP, AFP)
Related Articles:

HSBC apologised for its lapses, said reforms had been put in place, and
admitted it was 'horrified' by what it found. Photograph: Gary Cameron/Reuters

Monday, November 24, 2014

Spanish police arrest several priests in pedophilia inquiry

Spanish authorities have arrested four Catholic priests accused of child abuse in the southern city of Granada. The country's Interior Ministry says investigations into the case began "some time ago."

Deutsche Welle, 24 Nov 2014

The arrests came a week after a 24-year-old man wrote to the Vatican alleging a number of priests sexually abused him when he was an altar boy in a Granada church. Media reports claim that Pope Francis ordered an inquiry into the allegations and had personally called the man in August to apologize on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.

"Police this morning arrested four priests implicated in this affair," Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters on Monday, adding that he could not divulge more details because of the nature of the case.

Francisco Javier Martinez, the Archbishop of Granada, removed several priests from their duties last week and initiated the church's own probe.

News agency AFP reported last week that Spanish officials had launched an investigation involving 12 people.

Pope Francis has pledged a zero-tolerance towards child abuse scandals related to the church since he took over from Pope Benedict XVI last year.

On Sunday, Granada's archbishop and six other priests prostrated themselves in front of the altar as a gesture to seek pardon for alleged sexual abuse.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bodies of 500 sea lions found on Peruvian beach

Yahoo – AFP, 23 Nov 2014

Peruvian authorities are investigating the deaths of some 500 sea lions
that appeared on a northern beach (AFP file)

Peruvian authorities were investigating Sunday the deaths of some 500 sea lions whose rotting corpses were found on a northern beach.

Environmental police told the official Andina news agency that the decomposing bodies of adult and juvenile sea lions were found on a beach in Santa province about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Lima.

Police are investigating a complaint from the governor of the local Samanco district, who said the sea mammals had been poisoned by marine farmers and fishermen who harvest shellfish.

Sea lions come close to the shore to look for seafood and scallops to eat.

City workers hauled away the corpses, which risked posing a public health hazard.

In early November, the bodies of another 187 sea lions were found in the Piura region farther to the north of Peru, along with four dead dolphins and the corpses of sea turtles and dozens of pelicans.

Wildlife officials are investigating those deaths but have yet to announce their findings.

A range of possible causes are being considered, including disease, entanglement in fishing nets, the ingestion of plastic trash and hunting.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mexico, Central America hail Obama immigration plan

Yahoo – AFP,  21 Nov 2014

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto delivers a speech in Beijing on
November 13, 2014

Mexico's president on Friday joined Central American leaders and Latino celebrities in applauding US President Barack Obama's landmark offer to shield millions of undocumented migrants from deportation.

"I wish to express our appreciation, as a country, to the president of the United States for his announcement," President Enrique Pena Nieto said at a gathering of justice officials in Mexico City.

"Speaking of justice, this is an act of justice that values the great contributions made by millions of Mexicans to the development of our neighboring country of North America," he said.

Mexican and Central American officials said they would provide information about the program to their citizens through their consulates in the United States.

Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, praised "the courage of the US executive, who decided to move forward toward a fair goal that did not deserve to be further postponed."

The measure shared the spotlight at the Latin Grammy Award ceremony in Las Vegas late Thursday.

"I don't think I have heard any US president speak so beautifully about our Latinos as Obama did," Colombian singer Carlos Vives said as he dedicated his award for best contemporary tropical album to the US leader.

Defying his Republican Party rivals, Obama announced Thursday that he would offer up to five million undocumented migrants protection from deportation.

The controversial overhaul provides three-year relief for those who have lived in the United States for more than five years and have children who are US citizens or legal residents.
The order will affect about 44 percent of more than 11 million people -- mostly from Mexico and Central America -- living in the United States illegally.

"We thank President Obama for his decision," Guatemalan President Otto Perez said late Thursday, shortly after the US leader's announcement.

El Salvador's foreign minister, Hugo Martinez, voiced "the satisfaction of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren's administration because many of our compatriots will have temporary relief regarding their migratory situation."

The Honduran government said the move was "a great step in the right direction by the United States to resolve the migratory problem of 11 million people."

Central American migrant rights groups also welcomed the move.

"While they are temporary, these are actions for which we have fought for years," Cesar Rios, director of the Salvadoran Migrant Institute, told AFP.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Energy firms agree to come clean on coal used in Dutch power stations, November 17, 2014

Five energy firms active in the Netherlands have pledged to take action to improve the working conditions of coal miners and have signed an agreement with aid minister Lilianne Ploumen to that effect.

The agreement centres on Colombia where 25% of the coal used in Dutch power stations comes from. Aid groups describe the coal as ‘blood coal’ because of the human rights abuses suffered by the miners.

MPs had earlier urged energy firms to come clean about the origins of their coal. E.ON, EFZ, Essent, GDF Suez Energie and Nuon say they will talk to their suppliers about conditions at the mines and will name the mines they do business with.

NGO Pax said in a recent report entitled The Dark Side of Coal that companies Drummond and Prodeco are guilty of serious human rights abuses in the region. Pax  claims 3,100 people in Cesar, where the mines are located, have been killed by paramilitaries paid by the mining firms.

When the Pax report was published in June, Nuon, E.ON, EPZ and Essent – the four biggest Dutch energy firms – issued a joint statement in which they said they would not stop buying blood coal, despite calls in parliament for them to do so.

‘If we immediately stop buying the coal, someone else will. The Netherlands is too small a country to exert any influence on its own. And that means you lose your grip on the local situation,’ the statement said.

Energy needs

The companies said they are not dodging their responsibilities but do not want to ‘sit in the judge’s chair’. The companies pointed to initiatives to improve and monitor conditions in the mines.

Three new coal-fired power stations are currently under construction in the Netherlands. 

Figures from the national office of statistics CBS show 25.5% of Dutch electricity in 2013 was produced using coal, up from 23. 6% in 2012 and 18.4% in 2011.

Related Article:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thousands of Brazilians march in gay rights parade

Yahoo – AFP, 17 Nov 2014

Revellers take part in another LGBT Pride Parade in Rio de Janeiro,
 Brazil, on September 28, 2014 (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi Chiba)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Thousands of Brazilians took part Sunday in Rio de Janeiro's 19th Gay Pride parade, speaking out against homophobia in a country that has seen years of violence targeting the gay community.

Under the slogan "A million voices!", gays, lesbians, transvestites, transsexuals and supporters marched along Copacabana beach.

"It is important that the population understands their rights and they express themselves against homophobia," said Carlos Tufvesson, one of the event organizers.

More than a million people were expected for the event, organizers said.

Brazil recorded 312 murders of people in the gay community in 2013. The country averages about 300 murders motivated by sexual orientation a year.

The violence prompted rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia to label the country "the world champion of homophobic crimes."

Around 40 percent of recorded crimes against gays in South America occur in Brazil.

For years lawmakers in the Catholic and socially-conservative country have opposed a bill to criminalize homophobia.

But recently the country's highest court has taken steps in favor of gay rights.

In 2011, the Supreme Court recognized gay unions, which are afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that public institutions could not reject gay marriage applications.

Obama und Rousseff - end of the freeze?

Ever since the NSA's spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff came to light, relations between Brasilia and Washington have been particularly icy. The G20 meeting in Australia brought the leaders face to face.

Deutsche Welle, 16 Nov 2014

For more than a year, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has been waiting in vain for an apology from her American counterpart Barack Obama. It was over twelve months ago when the story broke that the NSA had spied not only on Brazilian businesses and citizens, but also on the president herself.

Unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel, no one suspected Rousseff of feigning her outrage. She immediately cancelled her planned state visit to the White House in September 2013. Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and US Secretary of State John Kerry all renewed the invitation several times, but Rousseff has doggedly refused, and Obama has still not issued a personal apology, or indeed even considered such an apology necessary. If he had, he could have easily done it shortly after the fact at the 2013 G20 meeting in St Petersburg. Another chance to approach one another came at this year's summit in Australia.

The G20 meeting in 2013 yielded no
relaxation of tensions
Neither friend nor enemy

Traditionally, the relationship between the two countries has been good, if not particularly strong. "Brazil has always viewed the US hegemony skeptically," Matthew Taylor, political researcher at American University in Washington, DC, told the BBC recently. The problems are much more deeply rooted than any personal animosities.

The relationship blossomed for a short period during the presidency of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994-2001), who threw his support behind the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a proposal that came from President George H. W. Bush. This was quickly cut short by Cardoso's successor Lula da Silva, who - along with other Latin American heads of state - condemned the plan as another tool of US domination. Brazil's complaint to the World Trade Organization against US cottons subsidies did the rest, although larger diplomatic complications never came to pass.

The two largest economies in the Americas remain far removed from any free trade agreement. Juan Carlos Hildalgo, Latin American analyst from the CATO Institute in Washington, offers this to consider: "In her first term, Dilma Rousseff focused even more than her predecessor da Silva on South-South cooperation." And when it comes to the North, a relationship with the European Union is more important than the United States.

Altogether, the EU is Brazil's most important trade partner, accounting for more than one fifth of Brazil's foreign trade. China and the US follow with around one-sixth of foreign trade combined.

Brazil's share of US trade on the other hand is well below three percent. For the United States, the development of relations with the EU and China has priority over partnerships in the Americas.

Together with Angela Merkel, Dilma
 Rousseff has launched a UN-initiative
against US spying
Mutual disinterest

But the US and Brazil are planning a visa deal to ease entry from both sides. And Obama has recently showed more interest in Latin America. Yet more pressing questions are plaguing both leaders: Obama's forces are in demand in Syria and Ukraine. At home he is fighting to secure his legacy against a Republican-dominated Congress. And Dilma Rousseff is heavily involved in the after-effects of her reelection in late October: She must put together a new cabinet with which to lead her country out of the economic doldrums.

Now, the two leaders have had to face each other at the G20 summit in Australia. Obama had already congratulated Rousseff on her reelection, and expressed his desire to meet her in Brisbane. "There will be polite exchanges, but certainly no substantial strides in relations," hypothesized Marcos Troyjo, leader of the BRIC lab at Columbia University in New York.

Political scientist Paz Neves also doesn't hold out much home for rapid convergence: "In the White House, there are approximately two state receptions per year. Rousseff isn't going to get another invitation so quickly."

But if anyone is supposed to make a move, says Paz Neves, it's the Brazilian president who should give a sign: "The ball is clearly in Dilma Rousseff's court."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Germany warns Uefa may quit Fifa if World Cup report not published

• German League president attacks ‘complete loss of credibility’
• Report summary clears Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing
• Investigator says his findings were misrepresented

Guardian, Owen Gibson, The Observer, 15 November 2014

Uefa has called on the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, to stand down and is looking
for a candidate to take on the Swiss. Photograph: Ito Takashi/AMA/Corbis

The president of the German Football League has warned that Uefa’s 54 member nations could take the ultimate step of quitting Fifa if Michael Garcia’s report into World Cup bidding is not published in full.

Dr Reinhard Rauball laid bare the tensions within Fifa over the split between the ethics committee judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert, and Garcia, the US attorney who heads the investigatory arm and spent 18 months probing the race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Garcia has disowned Eckert’s summary of his 430-page report, which effectively cleared Russia and Qatar.

“The result was a breakdown in communication, and it has shaken the foundations of Fifa in a way I’ve never experienced before,” said Rauball.

“As a solution, two things must happen. Not only must the decision of the ethics committee be published, but Mr Garcia’s bill of indictment too, so it becomes clear what the charges were and how they were judged,” he told the German website

“Additionally, the areas that were not evaluated [in the report] and whether that was justified [should be published]. It must be made public. That is the only way Fifa can deal with the complete loss of credibility.”

He said that if the report was not published in full – and Eckert has already said that he will not do that, while Fifa argues it cannot intervene – then Uefa should consider its own position within Fifa. “If this doesn’t happen and the crisis is not resolved in a credible manner, you have to entertain the question of whether you are still in good hands with Fifa,” Rauball added. “One option that would have to bear serious consideration is certainly that Uefa leaves Fifa.”

Rauball’s intervention comes against the backdrop of Uefa’s calls for the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, to stand down, as he promised to do at the end of his current four-year term. Although the Uefa president, Michel Platini, has opted against standing against Blatter in next year’s election, Uefa is continuing to cast around for an alternative candidate to take on the 78-year-old Swiss.

Before the Brazil World Cup, a series of speakers at Uefa’s congress stood up to call for Blatter to make his current term his last, while the FA chairman, Greg Dyke, denounced Blatter for claiming corruption allegations in the media were motivated by racism.

Fifa confirmed on Friday night that it had received formal notification of Garcia’s intention to take Eckert’s summary of his investigation to its appeals committee.

Meanwhile, one of the two whistleblowers discredited in Eckert’s statement, Bonita Mersiades, the head of communications for Australia’s 2022 bid, was scathing in her assessment of Fifa’s handling of the investigation. “It’s an organisation that, in terms of governance, is just a farce,” she said.

“The only people that come out well in that summary report by Eckert is Fifa. [It says] they got their decisions right in respect to Qatar and Russia, and there’s even a sentence and a reference in there that Sepp Blatter ran a wonderful process. It’s almost like high comedy.”

Related Articles:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Public prosecutor presses foreign countries to prosecute SBM Offshore staff,  November 13, 2014

The public prosecution department wants to see former SBM Offshore workers prosecuted for their role in the recent bribery scandal, the department’s chief Marianne Blos told the NRC newspaper.

Yesterday the department announced that the marine services company had agreed to pay $240m in an out of court settlement on bribery and corruption charges. The deal is made up of a $40m fine and a penalty of $200m for financial gain and focuses on corrupt deals made in Brazil, Angola and Equatorial Guinea.

Because the workers involved are not in the Netherlands, they will have to be pursued through the local courts in the countries concerned.

Blos said the Netherlands is in talks with various countries to ensure this is ‘organised’, the paper reported. Less than a handful of former workers is involved but their number does include ‘people whom SBM Offshore has taken disciplinary measures against’.

The prosecution of staff coupled with the record fine would send out a ‘very powerful signal’, Blos said.

Related Article:

Catholic flock thinning in Latin America

Yahoo – AFP, 13 Nov 2014

Although Argentine-born Pope Francis is largely popular in Latin America, the
number of adults in the region who describe themselves as Catholic is falling,
says a study published Thursday (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)

Washington (AFP) - Although Argentine-born Pope Francis is largely popular in Latin America, the number of adults in the region who describe themselves as Catholic is falling, says a study published Thursday.

In a study of 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the US territory of Puerto Rico, the Pew Research Center said the Roman Catholic church is losing adherents to Protestant faiths or seeing them abandon organized religion altogether.

The study said that historical data suggest that from 1900 through the 1960s at least 90 percent of Latin America’s population was Catholic.

But today 69 percent of adults polled identified themselves as Catholic, the study said.

Latin America has more than 425 million Catholics, who account for nearly 40 percent of the world's Catholic population, the center said.

But the number of people switching to other religions, mainly Protestant churches, is on the rise.

According to the report, 84 percent of today's Latin American adults say they were raised as Catholics. That is 15 percentage points more than those who still call themselves Catholic.

At the same time, membership of Protestant churches and people who say they are not affiliated with any church are increasing.

Nine percent of Latin Americans say they were raised as Protestants, but almost one in five now call themselves Protestants.

"In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether," the study said.

As to why Catholics are leaving the church, Pew said that of eight answers available in the poll, the most frequently chosen was that people were "seeking a more personal connection with God."

The study said that in general Latin America has embraced the former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit who was elected pope in March 2013 and took the name Francis.

In his native country, 91 percent of those polled have a favorable view of the pontiff. But that support is uneven across the region.

"Among former Catholics, relatively few give the pope a positive rating, with many saying it is too soon to rate him," the study said.

"Similarly, while majorities of Catholics in most countries describe the election of Francis as representing a major change for the Catholic Church, this view is held by much smaller shares of former Catholics," it added.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Infighting cost China's high-speed rail project in Mexico

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-11-11

Mexico's transportation minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, fourth left, and dignitaries
 at a press event held on Nov. 4 to announce the contract between Mexico and
China Railway Construction Corporation. (File photo/Xinhua)

The Mexican government's cancellation of a US$4 billion deal with a Chinese-led consortium for the construction of a high-speed railway line can be attributed to political infighting, a source close to Mexico's opposition party told Shanghai's China Business News on Nov. 9.

Mexico's Ministry of Communications and Transportation announced on Nov. 6 that it will annul a contract to build a high-speed rail line linking Mexico City and Queretaro due to public concerns about the bidding process.

China's state-run China Railway Construction (CRC) Corp, the leader of a consortium of six companies that had won the rail project, declared itself extremely shocked by Mexico's decision.

Previously, the Mexican government had announced that CRC won the rail project bid as part of a consortium of six companies, including state-owned train car maker CSR Corp. The other four companies in the consortium are Mexican.

The turnaround is unrelated to any external factors but is mainly a result of Mexico's economic stagnation and social problems. Given the situation, the strong push for the project could tarnish the government's image, the source told the newspaper.

The Mexican economy grew only 1.1% in 2013, far lower than the levels seen during the last few years.

In addition, protesters' calls for justice have reached every corner of the country following the government's announcement that 43 college students missing since September were killed by a drug gang and their bodies burned on a pyre of branches and tires.

The crisis has also forced Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto to cut short his upcoming trips to China and Australia.

Because of the growing popular discontent over the case, the Mexican Congress even considered voting to ban the president from making foreign visits, a source said.

Moreover, some Mexican opposition senators have expressed doubts about possible corruption in the bidding process for the high-speed rail project as they deem a Mexican company's background suspicious, the source added.

The deal was therefore canceled after some senators asked for an explanation from the minister of communications and transportation as to why only the Chinese-led consortium was the sole bidder for such a big rail project and why all the biggest infrastructure projects launched have been won by "good friends" of the ruling party.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dead fish in Rio Olympic bay baffle scientists

Yahoo – AFP, Claire de Oliveira Neto, 8 Nov 2014

Thousands of dead fish have begun mysteriously washing up in the polluted Rio
 bay that will host sailing events at the 2016 Olympics -- and experts are at a
loss to explain why (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi Chiba)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Thousands of dead fish have begun mysteriously washing up in the polluted Rio bay that will host sailing events at the 2016 Olympics -- and experts are at a loss to explain why.

Guanabara Bay has already been the subject of concern amongst sailors who are to compete in Rio because of the human sewage that gets pumped into its waters.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed confidence that Guanabara will be fit for purpose by the time of the games.

A fisherman weighs fish in Paqueta Island,
 located at Guanabara bay in Rio de
 Janeiro, Brazil, on November 5, 2014
(AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi Chiba)
But the recent appearance of thousands of dead fish, and the foul stench of their rotting carcasses, has attracted further scrutiny with the Olympics less than two years away.

Scientists are baffled by the phenomenon but say there is no evidence so far to suggest pollution is the cause.

The foul odor first took over the usually peaceful Paqueta Island, where cars are banned and the population of 4,500 people travels on horseback or bicycle among the only baobab trees in Brazil.

With the help of a bulldozer, a municipal company has removed 20 tonnes of dead sabalo fish -- from the Clupeidae family of herrings and sardines -- as well as four dead sea turtles.

"Tests showed that this is not a matter of chemical or toxic water pollution," Rio do Janeiro State University oceanographer David Zee told AFP.

Leandro Daemon of the National Institute for the Environment, or INEA, agreed that water testing had not identified any toxic chemicals or any unusual change in the water's pH (potential of hydrogen), salinity or oxygen.

"We have no answer yet about what happened, but we can certainly exclude the hypothesis of a chemical pollution killing the fish," he said.

'Don't go in'

But not everyone is so sure.

Worried fishermen and islanders are pointing the finger at the petrochemical activities of state giant Petrobras.

"We want to know why so many fish have died. The rotten smell is horrible and there are many flies on the island. The authorities tell us nothing," said Vilma Leocadio of the Paqueta citizens' association.

"We are afraid, we do not bathe in the sea any more and do not buy fish here."

Rosimere Figueiredo, 52, said Paqueta was in distress.

"I do not encourage you to step in the water with all those dead bodies of fish. We see them dying," she said.

Five of the fish were sent Tuesday to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro's biology department for analysis, and the results will be announced in a week.

Experts want to know if there are any signs of pollution or disease in the entrails or gills.

High temperatures to blame?

One hypothesis is that the culprit is predatory fishing.

At this time of year, fishing is prohibited, but it is common for fishermen to still work, catching fish like sabalo that have a lower market value, Zee said.

But the expert said the likeliest scenario was that the deaths are caused by "thermal pollution" of the water.

Worried fishermen and islanders are
 pointing the finger at the petrochemical
 activities of state giant Petrobras (AFP
Photo/Yasuyoshi Chiba)
"Sabalo are very sensitive to any lack of oxygen. Warm water temperatures such as those recorded several days ago -- ranging from 27 to 30 degrees Celsius (81 to 86 Fahrenheit) -- in shallow water decrease the solubility of oxygen," Zee said.

He noted that Paqueta is located at the bottom of the Rio bay, where water circulation and exchange is more difficult, a phenomenon exacerbated by the low tide.

"What is striking is the duration of this mortality and also the high temperature of the water," said biologist Mario Moscatelli, who has studied the bay's waters for 20 years.

"I flew over the area in early October, and fish were floating. At first, we thought they were thrown into the sea by fishermen. But before too long, I saw them dying in a way that seemed they were missing oxygen."

He said the sabalo, being more sensitive, are the first fish to die in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, which contains sea water carried through a canal in Rio's southern zone.

"But in case of chemical contamination, other species will die," he said. "We have more questions than answers. We must wait for the results of the analysis."

Suspects 'admit to mass killings' of Mexican students

Suspected gang members in Mexico have confessed to killing more than 40 missing students, according to the country's attorney general. Investigators are scouring a site where it is thought remains may have been dumped.

Deutsche Welle, 8 Nov 2014

Suspected gang members in Mexico have confessed to killing more than 40 missing students, according to the country's attorney general. Investigators looking for possible remains are examining one site where it is thought they may be.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo said Friday that gang members detained over the disappearances of 43 students in the state of Guerrero had admitted to killing a large group of people.

"I am angry, sad and Mexican society is, too," said Murillo, delivering the news at a meeting with relatives of the missing students.

Murillo said three newly detained suspects had admitted setting fire to the group, some of whom were said to have still been alive, in a rubbish dump near the town of Iguala. The students went missing on September 26 after clashing with police, although six bodies were discovered in the immediate aftermath.

Investigators say Iguala police took the students to Cocula, where they were loaded into a dump truck and handed over to the Guerreros Unidos gang. Information from the suspects appeared to confirm the sequence of events, the attorney general said.

The disappearances have led to a wave of protest across the country, with demonstrations turning violent in Iguala and the state capital, Chilpancingo.

Unidentified remains

Authorities on Friday told relatives of the missing students that they had found six bags of unidentified human remains. The remains were said to have been found near a river in the vicinity of Cocula.

Several clandestine graves have previously been found further away in mountains of Guerrero state, but the students' families have been left frustrated. Forensic experts last week combed a gully below the dump some 13 miles (20 kilometers) from Iguala.
Relatives have been camped at their school, the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa, since the disappearances.

Former Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca - described by authorities as as a "chief suspect" - and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda were on Tuesday found to be hiding in a neighborhood of Mexico City after nearly a month on the run. Prosecutors claim Abarca ordered police to confront the students, fearing they intended to disrupt an event that was being hosted by his wife.

rc/jm (AP, Reuters, AFP)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Argentina requests extradition of Franco-era officials from Spain

An Argentine judge has requested the extradition of 20 former Spanish officials to Argentina to stand trial for human rights violations. An amnesty enacted in the late 1970s prevents them from being tried in Spain.

Deutsche Welle, 2 Nov 2014

A judge in Argentina has asked Spain to extradite twenty former Spanish officials suspected of human rights violations during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Judge Maria Servini de Cubria issued the request as part an investigation into allegations of torture and other crimes committed during Franco's reign. Servini made the request to international police agency interpol to demand Spanish authorities carry out "pre-emptive detention with a view to extradition" of the subjects.

Former government ministers Jose Utrera Molina, 86, and Rodolfo Martin Villa, 79, are among the 20 accused. They are charged with attempted homicide.

Groups advocating for justice for people tortured and killed under Franco have praised the extradition request. "It is historic," said Maria Acenegui Siemens, spokeswoman for the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory, an advocacy group that supports victims of the Spanish Civil War and Franco's dictatorship. "It is a great day," she added.

Officials serving during the Franco era cannot be prosecuted in Spain due an amnesty that was enacted after the death of Franco and when Spain returned to democracy in the late 1970s. Spain viewed the amnesty at the time as essential to avoid endless score-settling as the country transitioned to democracy.

The treaty however prompted families of alleged victims to turn to Argentina for help, which has an extradition treaty with Spain.

Judge Servini is using a concept known as universal jurisdiction, the idea that certain crimes, including torture, are so serious that they can be tried in countries other than the ones in which they were committed.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Carlos Slepoy, said it was the first time that former ministers of the Franco regime were being targeted under universal jurisdiction. "We are convinced, as are many judges and prosecutors in Spain, that these matters must be investigated," Slepoy said.

"This day offers hope that those criminals will be judged in Argentina and even in our country," Plaintif Jose Galante added.

Spain has not yet responded officially to the extradition request, and in April declined a request to extradite to Argentina two former police officers who were accused of torturing prisoners during the Franco regime.

bw/jm (Reuters, AFP)