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

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals

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

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

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

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

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

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ

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

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

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

Mossack Fonseca

Mossack Fonseca


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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rousseff government is "finished": Brazil opposition leader

Yahoo – AFP, March 29, 2016

Senator Aecio Neves, President of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB),
speaks during an interview at the National Congress in Brasilia, on March 29, 2016
(AFP Photo/Evaristo Sa)

Brasília (AFP) - Brazilian President Dilma Roussef's government is "finished," a key opposition leader said Tuesday as the leftist leader faced the exit of her coalition partner.

Rousseff, already up against a growing impeachment drive, faced more trouble with the expected exit of the centrist PMDB party from her crumbling coalition.

"Dilma's government is finished," said Senator Aecio Neves, who heads the PSDB opposition party and who narrowly lost to Rousseff when she won reelection in 2014. "The exit of the PMDB is the last nail in the coffin."

The PMDB, Brazil's biggest party, has been in an uneasy coalition with Rousseff's leftist Workers' Party for more than a decade, but its leader Michel Temer has called for a break. The party was meeting later Tuesday to decide.

Neves predicted that the PMDB's departure would prompt other forces supporting the government to follow.

Rousseff also faces impeachment proceedings over allegations that her government illegally borrowed funds to mask the reality of government finances during a deep recession. If she is toppled, Temer, who is vice president, would take over.

Neves said different opposition groups were already planning on a post-Rousseff scenario. "We have responsibility for the day after," he said.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on March 29, 
2016 (AFP Photo/Evaristo Sa)

Related Article:

Brazil leader's coalition collapses as impeachment looms - New
Brazil president cancels Washington trip: state news agency

Monday, March 28, 2016

Honduran ex-president pleads guilty in NY

Yahoo – AFP, Jennie Matthew, 28 March 2016

Former Honduran president Rafael Callejas leaves the Brooklyn federal court in 
New York, March 28, 2016 after pleading guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy
 and wire fraud conspiracy in connection with the FIFA corruption scandal (AFP Photo/
Kena Betancur)

New York (AFP) - Former Honduran president Rafael Callejas pleaded guilty in New York Monday to conspiracy to commit racketeering and wire fraud in connection with the FIFA corruption scandal rocking world football.

The 72-year-old, who has been free on a $4 million bail in the United States since leaving Honduras by private jet last December to face American justice, will be sentenced on August 5.

The two counts each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

"Guilty," Callejas told Magistrate Judge Robert Levy in a federal court in Brooklyn, entering his plea. He spoke calmly in fluent English with a US accent, and was dressed in a dark suit.

Callejas served as president of Honduras from 1990 to 1994. He was head of the country's football federation from 2002 to 2015, and is also a former member of FIFA's Television and Marketing Committee.

He originally faced eight charges of racketeering, fraud and money laundering, to which he pleaded not guilty on December 15.

"I knew it was wrong," he told court Monday, admitting to receiving bribes for awarding media and marketing rights contracts to a Florida-based company for Honduran FIFA World Cup qualifier matches.

As part of his plea, he agreed to forfeit $650,000 -- $180,000 to be paid within one week and the balance due within 12 months.

He is one of 39 officials and marketing executives accused of soliciting and receiving tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks in a case that has sparked an unprecedented crisis at FIFA.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter looking on with fake dollars note flying around him thrown 
by a protester during a press conference at the football's world body headquarter's on 
July 20, 2015 in Zurich (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)


US prosecutors accused Callejas of receiving $1.6 million in bribes between March 2011 and January 2013 for broadcast rights of games played by the Honduran national team.

They said Florida company Media World paid these bribes from its US bank accounts through an intermediary, to overseas accounts of Callejas and a co-conspirator.

Monday's plea brings to 14 the number of individuals to have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with US prosecutors in the FIFA case in exchange for a possible reduction in sentence.

Callejas told the judge that he had been under treatment from a cardiologist and was currently taking medication.

Last Tuesday, Costas Takkas, the former Cayman Islands Football Federation general secretary, became the latest FIFA suspect extradited from Switzerland to appear in a New York court.

Takkas pleaded not guilty before Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohorelsky and was released on a $1 million bond with a $25,000 cash deposit, court documents show.

The 57-year-old accountant, who has British and Greek citizenship, will be confined to house arrest in Florida, allowed to leave only to see his doctors, lawyers, go to court or to attend religious services.

Takkas, who was born in Cyprus, was one of six FIFA officials arrested in May 2015 in Zurich at the request of US authorities.

The US judge granted him 60 minutes of exercise a day in a gym in the building of his Florida residence.

The US corruption investigation precipitated the downfall of longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his former heir apparent, Michel Platini, who have both been banned from the sport for six years for ethics violations. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Obama honors victims of US-backed Argentina dictators

Yahoo – AFP, Andrew Beatty, 25 March 2016

US President Barack Obama (L) walks with Argentinian President Mauricio Macri 
at the "Parque de la Memoria" (Remembrance Park) in Buenos Aires on March 24, 
2016 (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Buenos Aires (AFP) - President Barack Obama paid homage Thursday to victims of Argentina's former US-backed dictatorship, admitting the United States was "slow to speak out for human rights" in those dark days.

Obama became the first US president to formally acknowledge the victims of the 1976-1983 military regime, which declassified documents have revealed was supported by top US officials.

"There's been controversy about the policies of the United States early in those dark days, and the United States, when it reflects on what happened here, has to examine its own policies as well, and its own past," Obama said.

He spoke at Remembrance Park, a monument in Buenos Aires to the 30,000 people who were killed or went missing under the dictatorship. He paid tribute to victims' families.

"Democracies have to have the courage to acknowledge when we don't live up to the ideals that we stand for; when we've been slow to speak out for human rights. And that was the case here."

US President Barack Obama (L) and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri deliver
 statements during a visit to the "Parque de la Memoria" (Remembrance Park) to pay
 homage to Dirty War's victims in Buenos Aires on March 24, 2016 (AFP Photo/
Nicholas Kamm)

Tens of thousands of people joined a noisy demonstration later in Buenos Aires to mark the 40th anniversary of the US-backed coup that brought the dictators to power.

They marched to the din of drums, carrying pictures of the victims. Similar anniversary marches were called in towns across the country.

Some rights groups complained Obama had not gone far enough.

"The self-criticism was totally light," said Taty Almeida, founder of the victims' campaign group Madres Linea Fundadora.

She added that Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Obama "insisted we have to look to the future. They do not acknowledge the genocide and state terrorism that was supported by the United States."

Coup anniversary

Victims' groups had been angered by the choice of the date for Obama's visit, given the US support for the coup at the time.

US President Barack Obama (L) and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri throw
 a bouquet of white flowers into the River Plate on March 24, 2016 (AFP Photo/
Nicholas Kamm)

But they welcomed his promise to declassify further documents to shed more light on the fates of the regime's victims.

After the memorial ceremony Obama with his wife Michelle, her mother and the couple's daughters flew to the Andean resort of Bariloche, where they went for a hike and boat ride in a national park.

Locals lined the road smiling and waving as Obama's motorcade took the family from Bariloche airport, but at one place a crowd of protesters demonstrated noisily, some raising their middle fingers.

Tango diplomacy

In 2002, Washington declassified 4,000 diplomatic cables that showed US officials encouraged the Argentine junta's purge of leftists.

Obama promised to declassify other sensitive military and intelligence records linked to the "dirty war."

US President Barack Obama dances tango with
 Argentinian dancer Mora Godoy during a state
dinner at the Kirchner Cultural Centre in Buenos
Aires on March 23, 2016 (AFP Photo/Nicholas
They may shed more light on US involvement in secret police operations against dissidents in other South American states including Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia and Brazil.

Obama has tried to present a softer side of US power in Latin America during the trip this week that took him first to Cuba and then Argentina.

In Havana, he attended a baseball match with Cuba's Communist President Raul Castro and even made an appearance playing dominoes in a television show with Cuban comedians.

In Buenos Aires, he joked about tasting Argentina's national beverage mate and trying to meet football superstar Lionel Messi.

He danced tango at a state dinner in the city on Wednesday.

US creditors

On the first bilateral visit by a US president to Argentina since Bill Clinton in 1997, Obama hoped to nurture a new regional ally.

He praised Macri for the economic reforms he has passed since taking office in December after 12 years of leftist rule by the late Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina.

Obama also welcomed Macri's "constructive approach" in reaching a deal with US creditors to settle debts dating to Argentina's financial crisis in 2002.

He said it had led to the "possibility of a resolution" that could let Argentina back into international financial markets.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Obama, Castro hail 'new day' for US-Cuba relations

Yahoo – AFP, Andrew Beatty and Sebastian Smith, 21 March 2016

US President Barack Obama speaks during a joint press conference with Cuban
 President Raul Castro (R) after a meeting at the Revolution Palace in Havana
on March 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Havana (AFP) - Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro vowed Monday in Havana to set aside their differences in pursuit of what the US president called a "new day" for the long bitterly divided neighbors.

In a sometimes comic, sometimes tetchy press conference -- which in an extremely rare move was carried live on Cuban television -- Castro refused even to acknowledge that his government holds political prisoners.

"After this meeting is over, you can give me a list of political prisoners, and if we have those political prisoners, they will all released before the night ends," he said in a sarcasm-laden response to a US journalist's question.

Cuban President Raul Castro speaks at
 a press conference with US President 
Barack Obama in Havana on March 21, 
2016 (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
However, the mere fact that the joint press conference took place in Havana's Palace of the Revolution -- after the leaders met for more than two hours -- demonstrated how much has changed.

Obama, the first US president to visit Cuba in 88 years, hailed a "new day" -- a "nuevo dia," as he said -- in relations between the former Cold War foes.

And Castro suggested the former enemies take inspiration from US endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, who in 2013 managed on her fifth attempt to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

"If she can do it, we can do it too," Castro told journalists after the leaders met in the palace -- the nerve center of the communist government that has ruled Cuba since the takeover by Raul's brother Fidel Castro in 1959.

No sharks

Trying to draw a line under past heavy-handed US intervention in the island's affairs, Obama vowed that "Cuba's destiny will not be decided by the United States or any other nation."

The US leader also said, without making any promises on timing, that "the embargo is going to end."

He insisted that Washington was not going to give up pressing for political freedoms in Cuba, where the Communist Party controls politics, the media and the economy.

The United States "will continue to speak up on behalf of democracy," Obama said.

But the US president also appeared determined to move beyond the obstacles that have long made relations with Cuba a diplomatic dead end.

"Fortunately, we don't have to swim with sharks to achieve the goals you and I have set forth," he joked, referring to Nyad's feat.

US President Barack Obama (2-L) stands next to Cuban President Raul
 Castro upon his arrival at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 
2016 (AFP Photo/Gal Roma)

History in Havana

In only his third formal meeting with Castro, Obama was greeted by a military band that played the Cuban and the US national anthems.

Under pressure back home to show that his scrapping of deeply rooted US hostility to the Castro regime will pay off, Obama then sat with the Cuban president against a backdrop of tall tropical plants.

Earlier he laid a wreath at the monument of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti. On Tuesday, he was to give an address carried live on Cuban state television, and then attend a baseball game between the national team and Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays, before flying out.

Obama's visit has raised hopes among struggling Cubans that decades of economic and political stasis may be coming to an end.

But the brief detention of dozens of pro-democracy protesters hours before Obama's arrival Sunday served as a stark reminder of the regime's iron grip on power.

And despite the excitement among ordinary Cubans, officials appeared to be taking pains to give a restrained welcome.

Castro did not greet Obama at the airport Sunday, sending his foreign minister instead, and a heavy police presence has ensured that Cubans have no chance of gathering spontaneously at any of Obama's appearances around the city.

"I think Raul does not want a warm relationship with the US. He sees it in limited terms for the moment -- tourism revenue and remittances plus the changes to the sanctions," said Paul Webster Hare, a former British ambassador to Cuba who teaches international relations at Boston University.

US President Barack Obama (2-L) stands next to Cuban President Raul 
Castro upon his arrival at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 2016
(AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Soft power

Obama's administration is betting that forcing Cuba to open up diplomatically, as well as a gradual relaxation of the embargo, will promote democratic change. But Obama is defending himself from critics who say he has given away too much.

Arriving in Havana, Obama admitted change is not going to happen "overnight."

"Change is going to happen here and I think that Raul Castro understands that," he told ABC News.

"Although we still have significant differences around human rights and individual liberties inside of Cuba, we felt that coming now would maximize our ability to prompt more change."

Related Articles:

Pope Francis waves to the crowd during his general audience
at St Peter's square on December 17, 2014 at the Vatican

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Cuban exodus leaves elderly behind

Yahoo – AFP, Carlos Batista, March 10, 2016

Elderly Cubans wait for help at La Milagrosa Grandparent House in Havana
(AFP Photo/Adalberto Roque)

Havana (AFP) - They have lived through dictatorship, the Cuban Revolution, the Missile Crisis, the Cold War, the near-starvation of the "special period" and rapprochement with the United States.

Now, many of Cuba's senior citizens are alone, left behind by an exodus of younger generations that has given the country a rapidly aging population.

"I'm 88 years old. My son doesn't send me anything. At first he sent a little money, but I don't even hear from him now," said Leocadia Aguila, whose son Valentin, a martial arts expert, left two years ago for the United States.

Leaning on her cane, the brown-skinned, white-haired former hospital janitor said she was scraping by with the help of the Catholic Church, which supplements her tiny pension from the state.

The average retiree in Cuba gets a pension of $10 a month.

Cuban emigration has resulted in abandoned elderly
 people and government-run retirement homes tend 
to be overcrowded and poorly maintained (AFP
Photo/Adalberto Roque)
To help impoverished seniors, the Church runs a charity called the "Grandparents' House" in Havana, where aging Cubans gather to talk, share their hardships, watch TV and play dominoes.

"My 'brothers' here are the only family I have," said 93-year-old Raimundo Aleman, who arrives at the center every morning at dawn to help out in the kitchen.

The retired delivery-truck driver's only close relatives are his three children in the US.

Politics drove the first major wave of Cuban migrants to the United States, after Fidel Castro's band of rebels overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

More recently, it is the communist island's economic woes that have sent younger Cubans abroad.

Cuba is doing better than during the economic crisis in the 1990s provoked by the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main benefactor -- the so-called "special period."

The economy grew a respectable four percent last year.

But tentative economic reforms by Castro's successor, his 84-year-old younger brother Raul, have so far failed to deliver the hoped-for results. This year, the government is forecasting just two-percent growth.

And the thaw with long-time enemy the United States has only accelerated the Cuban exodus.

Last year, 43,000 Cubans entered the US, a new record.

The restoration of US-Cuban ties after more than half a century of enmity has raised fears on the island that Washington will soon change its preferential policies on Cuban immigrants, which fast-track them for permanent residency.

Loneliness and poverty

"Today, emigration mainly involves the relatively young, from 20 to 45 years old," said demographer Alina Alonso.

Often, those who reach the US then bring over family members, but senior citizens are frequently left behind.

Today, 12.6 percent of Cuban households consist of just one person, a retiree.

The government runs some 150 retirement homes, but they tend to be overcrowded and poorly maintained.

Many would rather scrape by on their meager pensions and the money they get from the Church, which receives state funding and foreign donations to assist the elderly.

"They take good care of me here," said Maria Angelica Vidal, a 72-year-old former English teacher with a son in Haiti and grandson in the US.

At the Grandparents' House, she gets food, clothing, medical care and most importantly, affection.

Cuba, where nearly 20 percent of the populace is over 60, is on track to have the oldest population in Latin America by 2030. It is currently second only to Uruguay.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Mysterious 13ft Sea Creature Washes Up On Beach In Mexico

Yahoo, 10 March 2016

Mysterious 13ft Sea Creature Washes Up On Beach In Mexico

It looks like something from a terrifying horror movie, but this is the mystery sea creature that’s baffled experts after washing up on a tourist beach in Mexico.

The monstrous 4-metre (13-foot-long) beast was discovered on Bonfil Beach, in the city of Acapulco, in the south-west Mexican state of Guerrero.

Stunned beach-goers stood around the beast and began taking photos - while also speculating on the possible species of the creature.

The creature’s body was washed on the shore by strong currents that have been affecting parts of the Mexican coast.

Mysterious 13ft Sea Creature Washes Up On Beach In Mexico

Rosa Comacho, the coordinator of the Civil Guard and Fire Brigade believes the animal had not been dead for a long time - but it has started to rapidly decay.

She said: ‘We have no idea what type of animal this is, but I do know that it does not smell bad or have a fetid aroma.

‘It is four metres long and was found on Bonfil Beach.’

The photos of the mysterious creature have since provoked huge debate online - with some suggesting that it might be a type of giant squid, while others have suggested that it is a whale.

Frog with yellow eyebrows discovered in Colombia

Yahoo – AFP, March 9, 2016

Pristimantis macrummendozai frog was discovered in the Iguaque Merchan
paramos, Colombia's East Andes (AFP Photo)

Bogota (AFP) - A new species of terrestrial frog with yellow eyebrows has been found in Colombia's East Andes, researchers announced.

The Pristimantis macrummendozai was discovered in the Iguaque Merchan paramos, an Alpine ecosystem, north of the town of Arcabuco in the central department of Boyaca, according to the Humboldt Institute, which worked on the study in collaboration with the Environment Ministry.

The discovery "places Colombia among the five most biodiverse countries in the world," said Andres Acosta, curator of the Humboldt Institute's biological collections.

Researchers said on Tuesday the frog has a skin with folds that retain humidity, and that its dark color helps it blend well with the rocky soil of this mountainous region.

"Unlike other species, the Pristimantis macrummendozai reproduces well in the humidity of the paramos region, laying its eggs in the ground," the Humboldt Institute said in a statement.

The frog's front legs have sticky pads similar to velcro that allow the male to keep its grip on the female during reproduction.

The Humboldt Institute noted that with this latest discovery, there are now 10 known species of high-altitude frogs in the East Andes, home to 16 paramos regions such as the Chingaza, Santurban, Almorzadero and Cundinamarca.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Thousands attend funeral of slain Honduran environmentalist

Yahoo – AFP, Noe Leiva, 6 March 2016

People attend the funeral of murdered indigenous activist Berta Caceres and call
for justice in La Esperanza, Honduras on March 5, 2016 (AFP Photo/Orlando Sierra)

La Esperanza (Honduras) (AFP) - Thousands of mourners paid their final tributes Saturday to Berta Caceres, the indigenous activist killed on Thursday, demanding justice for the renowned environmentalist.

The 45-year-old head of the Civic Council of Indigenous and People's Organizations (COPINH) was gunned down in her hometown of La Esperanza, 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of the Honduran capital Tegicigalpa, in what her family has called an assassination.

Mourners from across the country attending the funeral in La Esperanza chanted "Justice, justice!" "Berta lives!" and "The struggle continues!" as her coffin was taken to a church service before its burial.

Caceres's brother Gustavo, one of the first to find her body, told AFP that at least two masked men entered the back of the house where his sister was sleeping early on Thursday.

She got up to investigate the noise and confronted the men, who fractured her arm and leg before shooting her at least eight times at point blank range, he said.

A bullet also wounded Gustavo Castro Soto of the organization Friends of the Earth Mexico, who had been sleeping in the next room, when he came out to see what was happening. The attackers fled after he pretended to be dead.

Relatives mourn over murdered indigenous activist Berta Caceres' coffin during her
 funeral in La Esperanza, 200 km northwest of Tegucigalpa, on March 5, 2016 (AFP
Photo/Orlando Sierra)

Caceres lived in the house, which belongs to her mother, until moving out two months ago.

"Now we understand it was a way to protect her family," Gustavo Caceres said.

A mother of four who would have turned 45 Friday, Caceres rose to prominence for leading the indigenous Lenca people in a struggle against a hydroelectric dam project that would have flooded large areas of native lands and cut off water supplies to hundreds.

In 2015, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize, considered the world's top award for grassroots environmental activism.

She persevered in her activism despite numerous death threats.

Caceres was arrested in 2013 for illegal possession of firearms in what critics say was harrassment. She was acquitted in 2014.

Caceres's killing has drawn international condemnation, including from the United Nations, the United States and many environmental activists.

The activist's family has accused the authorities of trying to mask her death as a random murder, insisting that she was assassinated because of her activism against environmental destruction by large mining and hydroelectric companies.

They also accuse the government of responsibility in her murder for failing to provide protection and investigate the threats against her.

Scientists discover 'ghostlike' octopus off Hawaii

Yahoo - AFP, 6 March 2016

This image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016, shows small
translucent octopus, nicknamed Casper for his resemblance to the famous
cartoon ghost (AFP Photo)

Washington (AFP) - Scientists have discovered a "ghostlike" octopus in deep water off Hawaii that appears to belong to a previously unknown species, researchers said.

A submersible research craft spotted the small, translucent octopus by chance around 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) underwater off Necker Island on the northwestern end of the Hawaiian Archipelago, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

"As the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) was traversing a flat area of rock interspersed with sediment at 4,290 meters, it came across a remarkable little octopod sitting on a flat rock dusted with a light coat of sediment," the NOAA's Michael Vecchione said.

"The appearance of this animal was unlike any published records and was the deepest observation ever" for this type of marine creature, he added, in a statement released on March 2.

The octopus -- nicknamed "Casper the Friendly Ghost" on social media -- was caught on camera by the Okeanos Explorer, which the NOAA uses to explore underwater geology and marine life in little-known parts of the world's oceans.

Vecchione said the newly discovered octopus has a single row of suckers on each tentacle instead of the usual two, but is "particularly unusual because it lacked the pigment cells, called chromatophores, typical of most cephalopods, and it did not seem very muscular."

"It is almost certainly an undescribed species and may not belong to any described genus," he said.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Brazil mine disaster company settles for $6.2 billion

Yahoo – AFP, Eugenia Logiuratto, 3 March 2016

A fireman rescues a dog that was trapped in the mud that swept through Bento 
Rodrigues, in Minas Gerais, Brazil on November 9, 2015 (AFP Photo/Douglas Magno)

Brasília (AFP) - The owners of an iron ore mine in Brazil where a burst dam spewed a toxic flood, flattening a village and killing 19 people, settled with the government Wednesday for $6.2 billion.

Representatives of Samarco -- co-owned by Brazil's Vale iron ore giant and the Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company -- signed the accord in the capital Brasilia.

President Dilma Rousseff said the settlement would help heal "a tragedy without precedent."

The funds, which will go toward social and environmental damages, will be paid out over 15 years.

BHP Billiton's chief commercial officer Dean Dalla Valle (L) attends the signing
 of the agreement between Brazil's federal government, the states of Minas Gerais
 and Espirito Santo, and mining company Samarco in Brasilia on March 2, 2016
(AFP Photo/Evaristo Sa)

Twenty billion reais ($5.1 billion) is earmarked for damages and an extra 4.4 billion reais ($1.1 billion) is specifically allocated for investments aimed at providing compensation for irredeemable losses.

Rousseff underlined that the heavy financial costs for Samarco might not end there.

"There will be complete restoration of socio-economic conditions and of the affected environment. And I want to emphasize: There will be no financial limits until there is full reparation," she said.

"We want to build a new life on the ruins."

Destruction and 'homicide'

The November 5 accident near Mariana in Minas Gerais state began when a tailings dam at Samarco's mine failed, unleashing the flood of polluted water and mud into the River Doce, one of the most important in Brazil.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attends the signing of the agreement between 
the federal government, the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo (Southeast 
Brazil) and mining company Samarco, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on 
March 2, 2016 (AFP Photo/Evaristo Sa)

A village was destroyed, drinking water supplies for hundreds of thousands of people were interrupted and damage reached as far as the river's mouth on the Atlantic coast, with wildlife, tourism businesses and fishing communities all suffering.

Seventeen people were confirmed killed and two are missing, presumed dead.

BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie called the agreement an important step toward recovery and said his company was making a "commitment to repairing the damage caused and to contributing to a lasting improvement in the Rio Doce."

Paulo Hartung, governor of Espirito Santo state, which also straddles the River Doce, said the toxic flood marked "the biggest environmental disaster in the history of Brazil."

Last month, police announced homicide charges against six Samarco executives, including the CEO at the time of the accident, and an engineer.

A general view on November 6, 2015 of the village of Bento Rodrigues, in Mariana,
Brazil where a dam burst at a mining waste site (AFP Photo/Douglas Magno)

Samarco and its powerful owners could still face further legal difficulties, despite Wednesday's deal.

Last week, a federal prosecutor said that he would challenge the settlement, arguing that not enough care was taken in assessing the true costs of the disaster.

"How can you define an amount if there are no criteria for evaluating the damage?" Jose Adercio Leite Sampaio said. "Where did they get this number? For us, it's a magic number... It could be 23 or 24, 30, 40 billion."

Vale reported last week that it lost $12.3 billion last year due to lower prices for iron ore, the sharp depreciation of the real, and the deadly accident at the Samarco mine. The 2015 loss followed a 2014 profit of $657 million.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Drug lord 'El Chapo' Guzman 'desperate' for US extradition

Notorious cartel leader Joaquin Guzman has ordered his lawyers to press for his extradition to the United States. The two-time prison escapee fears for his health in Mexico, they have said.

Deutsche Welle, 2 March 2016

Lawyers for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman said on Wednesday that the imprisoned Mexican drug lord would like to be extradited to the United States as soon as possible. Defense attorney Jose Refugio Rodriguez said he would open negotiations with US authorities, despite the fact that he had earlier filed an injunction against his client's extradition.

"He can no longer take this situation," said Rodriguez, citing the practice of waking high-profile inmates every four hours to make sure they are still alive.

"He is isolated and segregated in a special area, separated from the other inmates. He told me that he was taken to a small room ... [and] doesn't see the sun," the lawyer added, telling French news agency AFP that his client was in a "in a moment of desperation" over his health.

After Guzman's January 8 recapture, authorities have taken the task of preventing another escape extremely seriously. The guard outside his cell must wear camera on his helmet at all times, and reinforced metal bars have been placed in the floor to stop another escape attempt via tunnel as happened twice in other prisons.

The 58-year-old leader of the Sinaloa cartel first went to prison in 1993, when he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking and murder. He escaped in 2001 by bribing his guards, and was recaptured in February 2014. He fled for the second time in July 2015 through a tunnel that led to a construction site nearby.

In the United States, where Guzman is also wanted on federal murder and trafficking charges, two courts have already formally requested the drug lord's extradition. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she had reason to believe the Mexican courts would rule very soon on whether to send Guzman north to face trial.

es/sms (AFP, Reuters)