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. …

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Brazil in steep slide on corruption index: Transparency International

Yahoo – AFP, Hui Min Neo, January 27, 2016

Transparency International said Brazil has slumped seven notches to 76th position out
of 168 countries over kickback allegations engulfing Petrobras (AFP Photo/Evaristo Sa)

Berlin (AFP) - Brazil, plagued by a scandal surrounding state oil giant Petrobas, registered the biggest plunge on the corruption index of watchdog Transparency International, which warned that emerging economies are struggling to shake off graft.

In its "Corruption Perceptions Index 2015" report, Transparency International said the Latin American country slumped seven notches to 76th position out of 168 countries over kickback allegations engulfing Petrobras.

On the other side of the globe, explosive graft claims surrounding Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also laid bare corruption dogging the Asian state, it noted.

Overall, two-thirds of the countries measured by Transparency scored below the 50-point mark out of a top score of 100.

Nordic countries -- Denmark, Finland and Sweden -- topped the chart with their clean public sectors as in previous years, while strife-torn or repressive states -- Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia -- brought up the rear.

Emerging giants in particular showed a worrisome picture in the index used widely used as a gauge of the level of corruption by governments, legal systems, political parties and bureaucracies.

"All the BRICS are challenged, the countries that are the really up and coming in the world economy, they all score below 50 in our index," Robin Hodess, TI group director for research, told AFP, referring to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

South Africa was in 61st place with 44 points. Brazil and India were tied in 76th place with scores of just 38, while China fared slightly worse, in 83th place with 37 points. Russia only came in at 119th, managing just 29 points.

Hodess noted that the Petrobras case has had a "tremendous impact... in the real uncovering of the way that the political networks and businesses have been covering up decades of corruption in the country".

"Things are starting to change, but this has been the scandal that brought Brazil into a difficult situation in terms of public sector perception of corruption."

The Latin American giant has been reeling over revelations that executives at Petrobras colluded with politicians and other businessmen to siphon off millions from the company through bribes and rigged contracts.

A massive probe dubbed "Operation Car Wash" has netted dozens of prominent figures, including high-ranking Congress members and executives at Petrobras and major construction firms.

President Dilma Rousseff herself has been investigated but so far emerged unscathed, although she was Petrobras chairwoman through much of the period when the corporation was at the centre of the embezzlement scheme.

Anti-corruption protesters in Malaysia demanded Prime Minister Najib Razak's
 resignation and electoral reforms in Kuala Lumpur on August 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/
Mohd Rasfan)

'Not enough political will'

Just hours ahead of the release of the Transparency index, Malaysia's top prosecutor cleared prime minister Najib of corruption, putting a spotlight on graft strangling the country's public sector.

In the long-running case that has gripped the nation, the attorney-general said on Tuesday that a $681 million (628 million euros) deposit in Najib's bank account was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family.

Najib has for months denied accusations that the payment came from a now struggling state-owned company he launched.

Samantha Grant, TI's Southeast Asia coordinator, said the verdict left key questions answered, including the reason for the donation.

"I think this case really highlights that kind of problem and the fact that while some measures have been taken, really getting to the bottom of the problem, and really working at the roots of corruption in Malaysia hasn't really been given enough political will and honest attention," she told AFP.

Malaysia scored 50 in the index and came in at 54th place, down four from last year.

TI, which uses data from institutions including the World Bank, the African Development Bank and business school IMD to compile the perceptions of the scale of public sector corruption, urged the public to prod their governments to carry out much needed reforms.

"Overall we think it's very important that not only the government comes in with the reforms we are looking for -- the policy changes, and enforcing them, but that these countries pay attention to people, to the efforts of people on the ground," said Hodess.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

UN Security Council approves mission to monitor Colombia ceasefire

The United Nations has agreed to dispatch diplomats to monitor talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels. The two sides have been at war with each other for more than five decades.

Deutsche Welle, 26 January 2016

The unanimous decision by the UN Security Council was made on Monday, not long after both Bogota and FARC requested that the UN participate in the ceasefire negotiations.

The British-drafted resolution will see the creation of a 12-month diplomatic mission to the South American country, which has been mired in a decades-long civil war between the government and leftist FARC rebels.

"This concrete mandate of the Security Council will benefit all Colombians and will contribute to build confidence in a country determined to overcome the aftermath of a decades-long conflict that caused too much suffering for generations," Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin told reporters following the vote, according to the Reuters news agency.

Peace in sight

Bogota officials and FARC leaders issued a joint statement last week requesting the UN's help in monitoring the rebels' disarmament, in what many observers said was a clear sign peace talks could finally be reaching an end.

Negotiators have set a March 23 deadline to end the conflict. Both sides have also agreed on a deal handling reparations for war victims.

Conflict first broke out between the government and the rebels in 1964, and has led to the deaths of some 220,000 people and the displacement of millions.

blc/cmk (Reuters, AP)
Related Article:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bolivia's Morales marks decade in office, eying more

Yahoo – AFP, Raul Burgoa, January 21, 2016

Bolivian President Evo Morales (centre) welcomes the first rays of sunlight during
 a traditional ceremony celebrating his 10 years in office, at the pre-Inca archeological
site of Tiwanaku, on January 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Aizar Raldes)

Tiahuanaco (Bolivia) (AFP) - Bolivian President Evo Morales, the country's first indigenous head of state, held an ancient ceremony Thursday to mark a record-setting 10 years in office -- a term he is now seeking to extend to 2025.

In a dawn ritual, the leftist leader raised his hands to receive the first rays of the morning sun, then breathed in the incense from a large pyre lit to bring good fortune.

The rite, set to the sounds of Andean music, was held at the archaeological site of Tiahuanaco (or Tiwanaku) in western Bolivia, a city of pre-Incan stone ruins thought to have been a spiritual and political center from AD 400 to 900.

"With this small but very important act, I would like to take the opportunity to express our gratitude for these 10 years of service to the Bolivian people," said the president, who faces accusations of seeking to cling to power.

Morales took office on January 22, 2006, after defying centuries of discrimination against Bolivia's indigenous communities to win a landslide election victory.

He has since presided over a period of robust economic growth and transformative changes for the long-suffering indigenous majority.

A former coca grower who got his start in politics as a union leader, he has deftly managed the resource-rich economy, which has more than tripled in size during his decade in office.

Bolivian President Evo Morales (C) greets the people at a traditional ceremony 
celebrating his 10 years in office, at the pre-Inca archeological site of Tiwanaku, 
on January 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Aizar Raldes)

Thanks to that growth, Morales, an Aymara Indian who grew up with no running water or electricity, has managed to largely win over even his former critics in the business community.

"When I swore in as president in 2006, some of our opponents said, 'Poor little Indian, let him have fun for a few months. He won't be able to govern and after that we'll get rid of him,'" he has said.

But with the opposition riven by infighting, Morales, 56, has won resoundingly in the past three presidential elections: 54 percent of the vote in 2005, 64 percent in 2009 and 61 percent in 2014.

His politics blend the indigenous power movement with environmentalism and the "21st-century socialism" preached by late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

He has nationalized the oil, gas, mining and telecommunications sectors, rolled out welfare grants for the elderly, children and expecting mothers, and moved to empower marginalized groups -- especially the 65 percent of the population that is indigenous.

Defying opponents' dire warnings of economic catastrophe, Bolivia has instead boomed.

Despite plunging prices for its oil, its economy grew 4.8 percent last year, one of the strongest rates in Latin America.

Changing the constitution, again

The economic and political stability are welcome in the landlocked South American nation, which has had 160 coups since independence in 1825 and remains one of the region's poorest countries.

Bolivian President Evo Morales (C) makes an offering at a traditional ceremony 
celebrating his 10 years in office, at the pre-Inca archeological site of Tiwanaku
on January 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Aizar Raldes)

But opponents accuse Morales of presiding over expanding corruption and investing in flashy big-ticket infrastructure projects at the expense of basic needs like health and education.

And "Evo," who is already the longest-serving president in Bolivian history, is increasingly accused of trying to cling to the presidency for as long as he can.

A new constitution adopted in 2009 imposes a limit of one reelection for sitting presidents, but Bolivia's Supreme Court ruled that Morales's first term was exempt -- clearing the way for him to run again in 2014.

His current term ends in 2020, but he is pushing for a referendum to amend the constitution and enable him to serve until 2025.

Morales has had an antagonistic relationship with the United States, defending coca growers from the US "war on drugs."

Besides being the base ingredient for cocaine, coca leaves are widely chewed in Bolivia and brewed as tea -- uses Morales argues are part of the country's cultural heritage.

In 2008 he kicked the US Drug Enforcement Agency out of the country, along with the American ambassador, accusing them of conspiring against his government.

Morales will officially mark the anniversary Friday with a ceremony in Congress, where he will deliver a nationally televised address.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Colombian govt, FARC rebels ask UN to monitor peace

Yahoo – AFP, January 20, 2016

The head of the FARC delegation to peace talks, Ivan Marquez (L), speaks during
 a press conference at the Convention Palace in Havana on January 19, 2016
(AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)

Havana (AFP) - Colombia's government and FARC rebels said they have asked the United Nations to monitor the eventual end of their five-decade conflict, raising hopes they are close to a peace deal.

Negotiators from both sides said they had asked the UN Security Council to send an unarmed observer mission to Colombia for 12 months to oversee the disarmament of the Marxist guerrilla group and the end of the conflict.

They said the "political mission" would work alongside the FARC and the government in a tripartite body over which the UN observers will preside, overseeing a ceasefire, settling disputes, making recommendations and issuing reports.

The head of the Colombian government 
delegation to peace talks, Humberto de la
 Calle, speaks during a press conference
at the Convention Palace in Havana on 
January 19, 2016 (AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)
"This entity will begin work once the accord is signed," said government and rebel negotiators in a joint statement in Havana, where they have been holding peace talks since November 2012.

The mission will comprise observers from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a 33-nation regional group.

The government's chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, called it a "particularly significant step" toward peace.

"Peace in Colombia is possible," said his rebel counterpart, Ivan Marquez.

President Juan Manuel Santos however made it clear that the UN "blue helmet" peacekeepers will not be needed.

"This has to do with unarmed observers, not a blue helmet peacekeeping operation," Santos said.

Peace in sight

The two sides have made several key advances in recent months, notably in September, when they signed a deal on post-conflict justice, and Santos and FARC chief Timoleon Jimenez vowed to conclude a peace accord within six months.

But the FARC said last week that "substantial hurdles" were jeopardizing the March 23 deadline.

The two sides have signed deals on four of the six agenda items at the peace talks: justice for victims, land reform, political participation for ex-rebels and fighting the drug trafficking that has fueled the conflict in the world's largest cocaine-producing country.

The unsettled issues are disarmament and the mechanism by which the final accord will be ratified.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was launched in the aftermath of a peasant uprising in 1964.

The Colombian conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced six million, has over the years drawn in right-wing paramilitaries, drug traffickers and several leftist rebel groups, of which the FARC is the largest remaining.

A rival rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has held exploratory talks with the government but has yet to join the peace process.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Guantanamo population below 100 as 10 Yemenis sent to Oman

Yahoo – AFP, January 14, 2016

Guantanamo Bay facility opened under George W. Bush to hold terror suspects
after the September 11, 2001 attacks and became known for harsh interrogation
 techniques that some have said were tantamount to torture (AFP Photo/
Mladen Antonov)

Muscat (AFP) - Ten Yemeni former inmates from the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay arrived in Oman on Thursday, Muscat's foreign ministry said, as Washington struggles to close the notorious prison.

The transfer is the largest to a single country at any one time under the administration of US President Barack Obama, and brings the facility's population down to 93.

About 780 inmates have been held there since it opened in January 2002. It is the first time since then the population has dropped below 100 -- a significant milestone in the facility's history.

"Just last night, after a deliberate and careful review, we completed the transfer of 10 Yemenis -- roughly 10 percent of the total remaining Gitmo population -- to the government of Oman," US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said in Florida.

"Like every transfer that came before it, the decision to transfer these detainees happened only after a thorough review by me and other senior security officials of the government."

The 10 men are: Fahed Abdullah Ahmad Ghazi, Samir Naji al-Hasan Muqbil, Adham Mohamed Ali Awad, Mukhtar Yahya Naji al-Warafi, Abu Bakr Ibn Muhammad al-Ahdal, Muhammad Salih Husayn al-Shaykh, Muhammad Said Salim Bin Salman, Said Muhammad Salih Hatim, Umar Said Salim al-Dini, and Fahmi Abdallah Ahmad Ubadi al-Tulaqi.

Oman received the men "in response to a request by the US administration for help to resolve the issue of detainees at Guantanamo Bay," the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency ONA.

The statement did not give further details, but typically Guantanamo inmates are released on condition they undergo a rehabilitation or reintegration programme to make sure they do not threaten US security interests.

Still opposed by Congress

Human rights groups welcomed the latest releases.

"Now that the Guantanamo population is below 100 for the first time in its history, the momentum to finally close Guantanamo has never been stronger," Amnesty International USA said in a statement.

"That momentum can't be lost. It's time for Congress to stop standing in the way and stop playing political games with the lives of the men who remain there. All detainees should either be tried in federal court or released."

The Republican-controlled Congress has thwarted Obama's repeated efforts to close Guantanamo.

Demonstrators take part in a protest calling for the closure of the Guantanamo
Bay prison on January 11, 2016 in front of the White House (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

He came to office in 2009 vowing to shutter the facility, which opened under his predecessor George W. Bush to hold suspects after the September 11, 2001 attacks and became known for harsh interrogation techniques that some have said were tantamount to torture.

Inmates were called "enemy combatants" and denied standard US legal rights, meaning many were held for years without charge or trial.

In his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama again urged Congress to help him close the detention facility.

"It's expensive, it's unnecessary and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies," he said.

But US House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul blasted Thursday's transfers, calling the move reckless.

"This month, he will have released close to 20 percent of the facility's population, even though intelligence officials suspect nearly one-third of terrorists freed from the facility have returned to the fight," he said, using a widely disputed recidivism figure.

The United States has been working to repatriate low-risk inmates from the Guantanamo facility, located at a US naval base on the southeastern tip of Cuba.

Another former Guantanamo inmate was repatriated this week to Saudi Arabia, where he was to join the kingdom's programme to rehabilitate militants.

On January 9, the last Kuwaiti prisoner at the detention centre returned home to a family reception after 14 years of detention.

And a day earlier, two other Yemeni ex-detainees were transferred to Ghana.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mexico moves to extradite drug lord 'Chapo' to US

Yahoo – AFP, Laurent Thomet,  January 10, 2016

Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted into a helicopter at
Mexico City's airport on January 8, 2016 (AFP Photo/Alfredo Estrella)

Mexico City (AFP) - Mexican authorities announced they will begin the process of extraditing drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States, as his lawyer vowed a tough legal battle.

President Enrique Pena Nieto's government had balked at extraditing Guzman prior to his prison break in July but the administration has changed tack after recapturing him on Friday.

The attorney general's office said it received two US extradition requests last year on a slew of charges, including drug trafficking and murder, and that it later obtained arrest warrants to ship him across the border.

"With Guzman Loera's recapture, the respective extradition proceedings will have to start," the office said in a statement, though it did not indicate when the hearings would start.

Lawyers for Guzman will have three days to file objections and 20 more days to prove them, though that timeframe can be extended, prosecutors said, vowing to fight any appeals.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (C) congratulates Defense Secretary 
General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda (R) and Interior Secretary Miguel Angel 
Osorio Chong (L), in Mexico City on January 8, 2016 (AFP Photo/Omar Torres)

Once a judge rules on the extradition, the decision is sent to the foreign ministry, which will have 20 days to validate it. Guzman would have another chance after that to legally challenge the decision.

One of Guzman's attorneys, Juan Pablo Badillo, vowed to take the case up to the Supreme Court if necessary.

"A legal battle has begun in the constitutional framework that will be very serious, very tough," Badillo told reporters outside the Altiplano prison near Mexico City, where Guzman was sent following his arrest on Friday.

"He shouldn't be extradited because Mexico has a fair Constitution," he said.

US President Barack Obama's administration congratulated Mexico following the arrest but did not publicly indicate whether it would press Pena Nieto to extradite Guzman.

US politicians called for his immediate extradition as he faces charges in a half-dozen states.

Some questioned Mexico's ability to hold on to a man who fled prison through a tunnel under his cell's shower in July and fled from another penitentiary in a laundry cart in 2001.

Federal Police officers patrol the area near the Almoloya prision where 
"El Chapo Guzman" was re-admitted, in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico, on 
January 9, 2016 (AFP Photo/Pedro Pardo)

"Given that 'El Chapo' has already escaped from Mexican prison twice, this third opportunity to bring him to justice cannot be squandered," said US senator and Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio.

A Mexican federal official defended the decision to send Guzman back to Altiplano, saying measures were taken to improve security, including the installation of metal rods under the floor of prison cells.

Biopic bid

The world's most wanted drug baron was arrested after a deadly military raid early Friday in Los Mochis, a coastal city in his native northwestern state of Sinaloa.

Hours later, the Sinaloa cartel kingpin was flown to the Altiplano maximum-security prison, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of the capital.

On July 11, after just 17 months at Altiplano, Guzman slipped through a hole in his cell's shower, climbed on a motorcycle mounted on rails, and traveled 1.5 kilometers (one mile) through a tunnel to freedom.

But six months later, Guzman was back in custody after authorities located him, thanks to the kingpin's bid to make a biographical film about himself, according to Attorney General Arely Gomez.

Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter at Mexico 
City's airport on January 8, 2016 following his recapture (AFP Photo/Antonia Nava)

Gomez said Guzman even "established contact with actresses and producers" through his attorneys.

Last escape

The months-long manhunt culminated in a house in the palm tree-lined city of Los Mochis, which authorities began to stake out in December after pursuing him across the mountains of Sinaloa.

Marines were met by gunfire when they swooped in on Friday, leaving five suspects dead and one marine wounded. Six others were detained in the operation

"When we had the courage, we looked out the window and saw the soldiers on the ground firing at the garage door until they opened it," said a neighbor.

Guzman and his security chief fled through the city's drainage system, repeating a tactic the drug kingpin successfully used in escaping authorities in 2014 in the nearby city of Culiacan. This time however the marines expected such a move, Gomez said.

The wanted men came out of a manhole and stole a car, but they were captured on a road and taken to a motel, where Guzman was seated on a bed, wearing a dirty sleeveless shirt -- an ignominious end for a kingpin whose billionaire drug business reaches as far as Asia and Europe.

Related Article:

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Bolivia, Peru sign $500 mn deal for Lake Titicaca clean-up

Yahoo – AFP, January 8, 2016

Lake Titicaca, which is the highest in the world, at an altitude of 3,800 meters
(12,470 feet) above sea level, provides a habitat for a number of frogs, birds
and fish, including two species that have almost been wiped out (AFP Photo
/Aizar Raldes)

La Paz (AFP) - Bolivia and Peru agreed to provide more than $500 million towards cleaning up Lake Titicaca, whose polluted waters are home to some animals nearing extinction, a Bolivian environment official said.

The deal, which is meant to improve the lake's biodiversity, includes environmental management and recovery through to 2025.

Lake Titicaca, which is the highest in the world, at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,470 feet) above sea level, provides a habitat for a number of frogs, birds and fish, including two species that have almost been wiped out.

Bolivia's Environment and Water Minister Alexandra Moreira and her Peruvian counterpart Manuel Pulgar signed the agreement during a public event.

"For the short term we have a limit of $117 million and for the long term $400 million," said Moreira's advisor Sergio Arispe.

“It's a logistical matter we are trying to manage through 2025," he said.

Part of the waste in the lake is generated by the Bolivian city of El Alto, near La Paz, which is home to about 800,000 people.

Peru's minister stressed that the two countries are "already taking concrete actions such as investing in water treatment plants to address the main problems the lake is facing."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Another inmate leaves Guantanamo as population slowly dwindles

Yahoo – AFP, Thomas Watkins, January 8, 2016

The US military still has 104 prisoners in detention at its naval base
in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (AFP Photo/Mladen Antonov)

Washington (AFP) - The trickle of detainees leaving Guantanamo Bay continued Friday with the repatriation of a Kuwaiti man, as the general overseeing the military prison denied claims the Pentagon is stalling on shutting it down.

Faez Mohammed Ahmed Al-Kandari became the latest transfer, sent back to Kuwait after the United States determined he no longer posed a national security threat.

He had been held without trial in the Caribbean detention center since 2002, and his return to Kuwait now means the facility has a population of 104.

President Barack Obama pledged to shut Guantanamo when he took office in 2009, but his efforts have been repeatedly thwarted by Congress.

The facility, nestled out of sight on the US naval base on the southeastern tip of Cuba, became a hated emblem of America's "war on terror."

Critics said images of inmates who were clad in orange jumpsuits and held in cages, along with a lack of legal recourse, inflamed anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and was used as a jihadist propaganda tool.

In all, 45 of the remaining inmates have been approved for transfer, and the Pentagon is trying to find countries to take them. Many are from Yemen and cannot go back given the country's collapse into civil war.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in December signed off on 17 of the 45 to be transferred as soon as this month, so officials say a further flurry of releases is expected in the coming weeks.

Even if all 45 are released, the remaining inmates are expected to stay in indefinite detention. These include the "9/11 Five," a group of five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks that unfolded in New York, at the Pentagon and in the skies over Pennsylvania.

Guantanamo North

Obama wants the remaining men to be transferred to federal facilities in the United States and has asked the Pentagon to come up with proposals for a "Guantanamo North."

But delays, bureaucratic hurdles and political opposition mean it is increasingly likely the clock will tick down on his presidency before Guantanamo closes.

Opponents also point to some former inmates having returned to fight against US interests.

Recent media reports cited unnamed officials claiming the Pentagon is deliberately slowing the process through which the men cleared for transfer are released.

"The fact that there was reporting about (the Pentagon) in any way, shape or form slowing down or trying to impede the release of detainees from my perspective is complete nonsense," said General John Kelly, who is retiring as head of the US Southern Command and spent the past three years overseeing Guantanamo.

Reports suggested Guantanamo officials were slow to respond to records requests from visiting foreign delegations considering taking prisoners.

"It's an insult frankly," Kelly said.

'Committed' Al-Qaeda member

In the case of Kandari, the Pentagon released virtually no information about the detainee, as is typically the case with Guantanamo inmates.

According to his leaked 2008 prison file, published by WikiLeaks and the New York Times, the 40-year-old was a "committed member" of Al-Qaeda and was an influential religious figure for the group's fighters in Afghanistan.

He was initially captured in December 2001 and sent to Guantanamo in May the following year.

On Wednesday, detainees Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby, both from Yemen, were transferred to Ghana.

Since 2002, a total of 779 detainees have been held at Guantanamo. Inmates are kept without recourse to the regular US legal processes and some likely will die in prison without ever being convicted of a crime.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ

Yahoo – AFP, 7 January 2016

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)

Asuncion (AFP) - Paraguayan police searched the headquarters of South American football's governing body CONMEBOL on Thursday as part of investigations into the corruption scandal rocking FIFA, state prosecutors said.

Paraguay's state prosecution service said in a statement it ordered the search on a request by the US Justice Department, which is investigating a vast bribery scandal at FIFA, football's world governing body.

Police and prosecution officials "are searching for documentation related to the granting of commercial and broadcast rights for sporting events," the statement said.

Witnesses said the current interim head of CONMEBOL, Wilmar Valdez, and the president of the Paraguayan football federation, Alejandro Dominguez, were in the building during the operation.

A lawyer for the confederation, Alfredo Montanaro, called the proceedings "irresponsible."

"It is very strange. We have been cooperating with the judicial authorities of the United States, Uruguay and Paraguay," he said on the radio.

CONMEBOL's headquarters near the Paraguayan capital Asuncion had diplomatic immunity from 1992 but that privilege was withdrawn last year after the scandal erupted.

US authorities last month indicted 16 Latin American football officials accused of accepting bribes in return for awarding contracts for tournament broadcast rights.

Paraguayan national Juan Angel Napout, the ex-president of CONMEBOL and a vice-president of FIFA, was extradited to the United States, where he pleaded not guilty.

The scandal over allegations of multimillion-dollar bribes has led to the suspension of numerous other top officials including Sepp Blatter, longtime president of FIFA.

CONMEBOL is the umbrella group for 10 South American football associations.

In 2013 it signed an allegedly graft-ridden TV rights contract with Argentine firm Datisa.

Of the 10 association presidents in office that year, just one has not been implicated in corruption by the FBI: Uruguay's Sebastian Bauza.

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Two Guantanamo detainees transferred to Ghana: Pentagon

Yahoo – AFP, January 6, 2016

Razor wire-topped fence and a watch tower at the abandoned "Camp X-Ray"
detention facility at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on April 9,
2014 (AFP Photo/Mladen Antonov)

Washington (AFP) - Two Guantanamo Bay detainees have been transferred from the US military prison to Ghana, the Pentagon said Wednesday, bringing the controversial facility's remaining population down to 105.

Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby, both from Yemen, are the first detainees to be sent anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, Pentagon spokesman Commander Gary Ross told AFP.

The men had been recommended for transfer as early as January 2010, according to their leaked case files published by The New York Times. But bureaucratic hurdles and Yemen's collapse into civil war meant the men could not be sent home.

The duo will be monitored and the Pentagon is confident they do not pose a threat, Ross said. They arrived in Ghana earlier Wednesday.

"There are security assurances that have been agreed on," Ross said, without giving details.

"The United States is grateful to the government of Ghana for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," the Pentagon said in a statement.

According to his leaked file, Dhuby had lived his entire life in Saudi Arabia but claimed Yemeni citizenship. He was a "probable" member of Al-Qaeda and allegedly received militant training in Afghanistan.

His file also states he "probably" engaged in hostile activities against coalition forces.

Atef's file states he was an admitted member of the Taliban and fought under Osama bin Laden's 55th Arab Brigade. He allegedly participated in hostile actions against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama pledged to shut Guantanamo -- reviled by critics as a stain on America's moral character that has helped fuel anti-US jihadist propaganda -- when he took office in 2009, but his efforts have failed and time is quickly ticking down on his presidency.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last month approved the transfer of 17 low-risk detainees from Guantanamo; Atef and Dhuby come from that group.

Since 2002, a total of 779 detainees have been held at Guantanamo in connection with America's "war on terror."

Guantanamo Bay sits on the southeastern tip of Cuba but is completely fenced off from the communist island.

Inmates are kept without recourse to regular US legal processes and some likely will die in prison without ever being convicted of a crime.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Defiant Venezuela opposition claims congress supermajority

Yahoo – AFP, January 6, 2016

A picture released by the Venezuelan presidency's press office shows President
Nicolas Maduro speaking in Caracas on December 30, 2015 (AFP Photo)

Caracas (AFP) - Venezuela's opposition-controlled state legislature on Wednesday swore in three anti-government lawmakers in defiance of President Nicolas Maduro, laying claim to the supermajority that could empower them eventually to oust him.

The new, opposition speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, swore in the three, defying an injunction by the Supreme Court to suspend them on the government's request.

The three extra deputies bring the total number of opposition seats in the legislature to a two-thirds "supermajority."

Their swearing-in flies in the face of an injunction by the Supreme Court which has yet to rule on whether the three opposition deputies, as well as one other pro-government lawmaker, can legally take their seats in the assembly, pending accusations of electoral fraud against them.

The opposition's defiant move further deepened a tense political standoff in the crisis-hit South American country.

Most of the opposition lawmakers were sworn in during a rowdy session on Tuesday as Maduro vowed to resist them with an "iron hand."

Allup said his opposition would within six months propose a way "to change the government by constitutional means."

The new president of the Venezuelan parliament, Henry Ramos Allup (C),
 speaks during the swearing-in ceremony in Caracas, on January 5, 2016
(AFP Photo/Juan Barreto)

"Here and now, things will change," he said.

Maduro responded in comments broadcast on television: "I will be there to defend democracy with an iron hand. They will not make me give ground or waver."

But he admitted he planned soon to announce a reshuffle of ministers in his government.

The December vote is widely seen as punishment by voters over the state of the economy, in the toughest challenge yet to Maduro's authority since he took over from his late mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013.

Venezuela has the world's biggest known oil reserves but has suffered from a fall in the price of the crude on which its government relies.

It is in deep recession, with citizens suffering shortages of basic goods and soaring inflation.