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

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals

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

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

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

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

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

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ

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

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

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

Mossack Fonseca

Mossack Fonseca


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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Obama blasts isolationism, with Trump in sights

Yahoo – AFP, Jerome Cartillier, June 30, 2016

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (L), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
 and US President Barack Obama (R) pose during the North American Leaders
Summit on June 29, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Ottawa (AFP) - US President Barack Obama warned against isolationist tendencies in America and elsewhere, calling it "the wrong medicine" to fix legitimate concerns about globalization.

While Obama did not mention Donald Trump by name, he took a clear swipe at the Republican presidential candidate's heated anti-trade rhetoric during a "Three Amigos" summit with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts.

"Even if we wanted to we can't seal ourselves off from the rest of the world," Obama said in a speech to the Canadian parliament after trilateral talks.

"In an integrated, global economy the solution is not for us to try to shut ourselves off from the world," he earlier told a news conference in Ottawa -- held as Trump repeated a threat to renegotiate or walk out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Delivering a plea for regional cooperation and free trade, Obama argued -- in a thinly-veiled rebuke to the real estate magnate -- for growing the United States' relationship with Mexico, "our neighbor, our friend."

He accused some of exploiting fears by "arguing that we must rebuild walls and disengage from a chaotic world... in order to regain control of our lives."

(L-R) Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Canadian Prime Minister Justin 
Trudeau and US President Barack Obama arrive for the North American Leaders
 Summit at the National Gallery of Canada on June 29, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario 
(AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

"We saw some of these currents at work this past week in the United Kingdom's referendum to leave the European Union," he said.

Trump has made Mexicans a prime target of his anti-immigrant rhetoric, promising to build a wall on the US-Mexico border that threatens to undermine the NAFTA accord that has bound the two countries together with Canada since 1994.

"We've had times throughout our history where anti-immigration sentiment is exploited by demagogues," said Obama. "But guess what? They kept coming."

"Unless you are one of the first Americans, unless you are a native American, somebody, somewhere in your past showed up from some place else. And they didn't always have papers."

'Friends and neighbors'

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto echoed Obama's comments, saying "Isolationism is not a road towards progress."

"We are neighbors, we are friends," he added, announcing he would soon visit the White House. "This friendship is based on strong cooperation and teamwork."

U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and 
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and their delegations take part in the North
 American Leaders’ Summit working session in Ottawa, Canada June 29, 2016. 
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

In the same vein, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the joint efforts by the three nations, calling it "proof that cooperation pays off, and that working together always beats going it alone."

For the billionaire Trump, NAFTA is the root of America's economic woes, including job losses.

Trump reiterated on Wednesday his intent to revisit the 1994 accord that unites 530 million consumers and represents more than one-quarter of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).

"I'm going to tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers, OK?" he told supporters at a rally in Bangor, Maine.

"If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal, OK?"

"No more NAFTA."

With less than seven months before he leaves the White House and a new president is sworn in, Obama will make his first joint campaign stop with Democrat Hillary Clinton next week as he throws his full weight behind her in the battle against Trump.

Brexit concerns

Six days after Britain's vote to exit the European Union, felt on both sides of the Atlantic, the shock British decision to go it alone topped the agenda of talks in Ottawa.

Obama recognized there existed "genuine concerns" about the impact on long-term global growth if the Brexit goes ahead.

But he expressed "confidence" in the global financial system's resilience and stability, and the ability of all parties in Europe to work out a smooth transition.

Do the United States, Canada and Mexico not fear a spillage from the so-called Brexit impacting the North American trade pact or raising questions about it?

Obama warned against "simple comparisons" between Europe's woes and North America.

In the spirit of stepping up collaboration, the three leaders announced a strengthening of efforts to fight climate change.

The aim is to produce 50 percent of the continent's overall electricity from "clean energy," including from solar and wind, nuclear and hydroelectric generation, by 2025. This is up from 27 percent in 2015.

"The Paris Agreement was a turning point for our planet, representing unprecedented accord on the urgent need to take action to combat climate change through innovation and deployment of low-carbon solutions," the leaders said in a joint statement calling for the accord to come into force before the end of the year.

Mexico also joined a commitment already made by the United States and Canada to reduce emissions of methane -- a powerful greenhouse gas -- by 40 to 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels.

Related Articles:

“… Human Nature is Changing

There's a new concept afoot, a change in Human nature. We've spoken about this before. How many of you studied European history? And in school, did your mind fill up with all of the dates you had to memorize? Who conquered whom and when? Over and over and over, every single country had their turn conquering another country. Borders moved constantly. As far back as you want to go, that's what Humans did. They separated, gathered, and conquered. But as little as 50 years ago, it all stopped.

We've said this before. Fifty years ago, a seed, an idea, was planted at the end of World War II. "Let's put these European countries together," they said. "Let's even drop the borders and eventually give them one currency." Do this and they'll never war again, they predicted, for countries with common economic sources don't go to war! And that's exactly what's happened. Did it work? It's fairly fresh, but their money is threatening to take over the strength of your money, did you notice? It's worth more than yours. They still struggle to make it work and balance it. But then again, you do the same in the United States, always fine tuning the unity.

South America is considering the same thing right now. The seeds are being planted in Brazil. Within a generation, they would love to see the borders dropped and one currency. Can they do it? Perhaps. Perhaps it will take longer. Why do it? Because they see the European Union with the strongest currency on Earth. We've said this before. Here is a prediction: Perhaps not in your time, but there'll come a day when there are only five currencies in the world, because continents will start understanding that unification creates peace and prosperity. Separation creates chaos. What a concept. …

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Newly expanded Panama Canal opens for bigger business

Yahoo – AFP, Marc Burleigh, June 25, 2016

Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal, seen on June 25, 2016 (AFP Photo/
Johan Ordonez)

Panama City (AFP) - Panama is preparing to officially open its canal this weekend to far bigger cargo ships after nearly a decade of expansion work aimed at boosting transit revenues and global trade.

On Sunday, a VIP ceremony will be held on the banks of the canal to inaugurate the completion of the works.

President Juan Carlos Varela will unveil the new locks and third shipping lane built into the 102-year-old canal. Foreign dignitaries, including the presidents of Taiwan, Chile and other Central American nations, will be present at the ceremony.

A Chinese-owned Neopanamax-class cargo ship will be the first vessel to officially test the new infrastructure, entering from the Atlantic and exiting into the Pacific a few hours later.

The Neopanamax vessels are much bigger than the Panamax-class ships that previously were the largest able to pass through the 80-kilometer (50-mile) long canal. Each is able to haul three times as much cargo as the smaller predecessors.

The expansion work began in 2007 and was meant to have been completed in 2014, but it ran well past deadline, and over budget.

The expansion is estimated to have cost $5.5 billion. However, outstanding disputes between the Spanish- and Italian-led consortium that carried out the work and the Panamanian government could yet hike that figure by hundreds of millions more.

Pride, and opportunity

For Panama, the unveiling of the broader canal is a moment of pride and of opportunity.

Now, ships as long as the Eiffel Tower is tall, and as broad as Olympic-sized swimming pools, will be able to use the canal.

Annual cargo volumes should double over the next decade, leading Panama to hope to triple the $1 billion in shipping fees it receives each year.

Also, with the country these days linked to the "Panama Papers" scandal of offshore businesses owned by the world's wealthy and influential, the expanded canal is seen as a chance to burnish the country's tarnished image.

This will show the "real face of Panama," Panama Canal Authority (ACP) chief Jorge Quijano told AFP in an interview this week.

World trade should also benefit from what will essentially be an inter-oceanic highway for goods between the United States and Asia. More cargo on bigger ships should mean lower transport costs.

The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the
 Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016.
Reuters/Carlos Jasso

US gas shipments

Panama is also avidly eyeing the lucrative market of transporting liquefied natural gas between the United States and Asia, principally to Japan.

The ships carrying the gas were too big to use the old canal. With the expansion, they now can.

"When we started this expansion, we did not have on our radar that the United States was going to be a net exporter of gas and oil," ACP deputy administrator Manuel Benitez Hawkins told journalists Saturday.

Now, with the US producing gas and oil from shale, American interest in using the canal has grown.

"That will add to the revenue and help us recoup" the massive investment, Benitez said.

Currently, some five percent of global maritime commercial traffic uses the canal, which provides a valuable shortcut between North America and Asia.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Colombia, FARC rebels sign historic ceasefire

Yahoo – AFP, Alexander Grosbois in Havana with Alina Dieste in Bogota,  June 23, 2016

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (L) and Timoleon Jimenez, (R), 
head of the FARC leftist guerrilla, shake hands accompanied by Cuban
 President Raul Castro (C) during the signing of the peace agreement in
 Havana on June 23, 2016 (AFP Photo/Adalberto Roque)

Havana (AFP) - The Colombian government and the FARC rebel force signed a ceasefire and disarmament agreement Thursday, one of the last steps toward ending a half-century conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The deal puts a definitive end to fighting in Latin America's longest civil war, which has torn the country apart with shootings and bombardments in its coca-rich jungles and hills.

President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez shook hands and smiled after negotiators signed the deal at a ceremony in Cuba.

The deal establishes "a bilateral ceasefire and end to hostilities and the definitive laying down of arms," according to the text.

"This is a historic day for our country," Santos said in a speech to assembled leaders including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"After more than 50 years of confrontations, deaths, attacks and pain, we have put a final end to the armed conflict with the FARC."

Disarmament will begin after the signing of a full final peace agreement, expected within weeks.

Thursday's agreements "leave us on the verge of completing a final accord relatively soon," Jimenez said.

The final deal "will allow us to return at last to legal political activity through peaceful and democratic means," he added.

The state of peace negotiations between the Colombian government 
and FARC rebels (AFP Photo/Tatiana Magarinos, Gustavo Izus)

Tears of joy

In the Colombian capital Bogota, crowds gathered to watch the announcement on a big screen.

One man, Camilo Gonzalez, was moved to tears.

"It has been a tragic journey. Millions of victims, people displaced, fighting, broken dreams," he said.

"But I think now we have reached a moment of hope."

Under the agreement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) must hand over its weapons to United Nations monitors within six months.

The FARC's members -- an estimated 7,000 or so -- will gather in "normalization zones" for a demobilization process.

The sides also agreed to government action against "criminal organizations" blamed for fueling the conflict.

The United States congratulated Colombia. "We will stand ready to help the Colombian people as they work toward a just and lasting peace," said US National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

The European Union's foreign representative Federica Mogherini in a statement called it a "a turning point in the Colombian peace process."

"Now all efforts must be devoted to reaching a final comprehensive agreement that will pave the way to durable peace in the country" and justice for victims, she said.

Colombians celebrate in downtown Bogota as they watch on a giant screen 
the signing of the ceasefire in Havana, on June 23, 2016 (AFP Photo/
Guillermo Legaria)

260,000 dead

The Colombian conflict started in the 1960s as a rural uprising for land rights that spawned the communist FARC.

The conflict has drawn in various leftist rebel groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs over the decades.

It has left 260,000 people dead, 45,000 missing and nearly seven million displaced, according to official figures.

Human rights groups say atrocities have been committed on all sides. Many families are still searching for missing loved ones.

Thursday's deal resolves one of the final points in peace talks between the government and the FARC, the country's largest rebel group.

However, the means of implementing the final peace deal remain to be settled after three-and-a-half years of negotiations.

The two sides said they would wait for the courts to rule on whether a referendum can be held to endorse the accord, and would accept the court's decision.

Although peace with the FARC would virtually end the conflict, other armed groups are still operating in Colombia.

A bid to hold peace talks between the government and the second-biggest rebel group, the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN), has stumbled because of its alleged kidnappings.

"The activity of the ELN above all and the criminal gangs means that we cannot yet talk of a complete end to the armed conflict," said Kyle Johnson, Colombia analyst for the International Crisis Group.

"It will be the end of Colombia's biggest armed conflict, but not all of them."

Monday, June 20, 2016

Scores of environmental activists murdered in 2015: report

Yahoo – AFP, Marlowe Hood, June 20, 2016

Lumad people protest against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Summit on November 19, 2015 (AFP Photo/Joseph Agcaoili)

Paris (AFP) - At least 185 activists and indigenous people fighting environmental pillaging were murdered in 2015, the watchdog group Global Witness said on Monday.

The grisly toll is the largest recorded -- nearly 60 percent more than in 2014 -- since the NGO began tracking such violence worldwide in 2002, and is probably higher because many killings go unreported, it said in its annual report.

Brazil and the Philippines together accounted for nearly a third of the total, followed by Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

2015 Was a Deadly Year for 
Environmental Activists
More than 40 murders were related to mining operations, according to the report.

Disputes over agribusiness, logging and dam projects also led to numerous killings.

"Communities that take a stand are increasingly finding themselves in the firing line of companies' private security, state forces and a thriving market for contract killers," Global Witness campaign leader Billy Kyte said in a statement.

"Governments must urgently intervene to stop this spiralling violence."

Indigenous people -- nearly 40 percent of the victims -- are frequent targets of land and resource grabs, often in collusion with corrupt local officials, he said.

The area on Mindanao in the Philippines inhabited by the Lumad people, for example, saw 25 killings last year alone, the highest death rate of any region monitored.

The Lumad homeland is rich in coal, nickel and gold.

In a particularly brazen attack, the father and grandfather of Filipino activist Michelle Campos were murdered in public for their stand against mining operations, Global Witness reported.

"We know the murderers -- they are still walking free in our community," Campos, who escaped harm, said in a statement.

In Brazil, the NGO said, the fight to save the Amazon is "increasingly a fight against criminal gangs who terrorise local populations at the behest of timber companies and the officials they have corrupted."

Thousands of unauthorised logging camps are scattered across Brazil's Amazon basin, where precious hardwoods -- mahogany, ebony, teak -- are cut and prepared for export.

A 2014 report from Chatham House estimates that 80 percent of timber coming from Brazil is illicit, accounting for a quarter of illegal wood on the global market.

"The murders that are going unpunished in remote mining villages or deep within rainforests are fuelled by the choices consumers are making on the other side of the world," Kyte said.

The top markets for precious woods are the United States, China and the European Union.

In early March this year, two masked men gunned down indigenous activist Berta Caceres, recipient of a prestigious international environmental prize for fighting a dam project in Honduras.

Last week, some 500 indigenous Lenca people held a protest in Honduran capital Tegucigalpa to demand an international probe into the murder.

One of five people arrested for Caceres' murder is a high-ranking employee of Desarrollos Energeticos (DESA), an electricity company involved in the construction of the hydro-electric dam against which she campaigned.

Friday, June 17, 2016

'Crazy' ex-minister's bags of cash scandalize Argentina

Yahoo – AFP, Paula Bustamante, June 17, 2016

Argentinian police video image shows money, weapons, jewels and other objects
seized from former minister Jose Lopez, 55, while trying to hide them at a nunnery
(AFP Photo)

Buenos Aires (AFP) - It's been a heck of a week for Jose Lopez, an Argentine ex-cabinet minister who was arrested trying to hide bags stuffed with cash and jewels at a monastery.

On Monday, Lopez, 55, seemed like any ordinary politician, with a slight paunch, graying hair and a fairly anodyne job as a member of the South American regional parliament.

On Tuesday, he was caught red-handed tossing 160 suitcases and duffel bags containing more than $9 million over a wall into the garden of an old monastery outside Buenos Aires.

An Argentinian police photo of former 
secretary of public works Jose Lopez
 in detention in Buenos Aires on 
June 15, 2016 (AFP Photo)
On Wednesday, his lawyer said he was delirious and suffering hallucinations.

And on Thursday, he showed up at his first court appearance hitting himself on the head, shouting and demanding cocaine.

His lawyer, Fernanda Herrera -- who is better known in Argentina as a cumbia singer and former model -- says her client is mentally unfit to testify.

Herrera, a curvaceous peroxide blonde, had an ambulance take Lopez to the hospital Wednesday after his arrest.

But doctors who examined him said they found nothing wrong besides stress and high blood pressure.

The bizarre case is scandalous even by the standards of Argentina, a country that has been around the block a few times when it comes to corruption.

Lopez served for 12 years in the cabinets of Argentina's last two presidents, Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, as the deputy minister for public works.

His unexplained bags of cash have embarrassed the left-wing power couple's party, the Front for Victory, which is still stinging from losing the presidency to business-friendly conservative Mauricio Macri in December.

22 hours to count

Lopez and his former boss, ex-planning minister Julio de Vido, managed the federal government's public works projects under the Kirchners (2003-2015).

They were the only two ministers to survive the various cabinet reshuffles across the couple's 12 years in power.

The two elderly nuns who now live at the old monastery said Lopez and De Vido were regular visitors who would stop by with late archbishop Ruben Di Monte, a close ally of the Kirchners who died in April.

Lopez "is a very good man. He used to come every year to help us," said one.

The other nun, who was present when Lopez was arrested, wasn't so sure. She said he was "half crazy" and told her: "They're going to put me in jail... because I stole money to help you."

Investigators are now trying to figure out how Lopez amassed a stash of cash, jewels and luxury watches so large it took police nearly 22 hours to count it all.

The total came to $8,982,047, plus 153,610 euros, 49,800 Argentine pesos, 425 yuan and two Qatari riyals, officials said.

Money, weapons, jewels and other objects seized from former minister Jose 
Lopez (AFP Photo)

Buried cash?

Since Macri came to power in December vowing to crack down on graft, authorities have opened sweeping investigations into alleged corruption, money laundering and tax evasion by the Kirchners and their inner circle.

Cristina Kirchner is facing money-laundering and embezzlement accusations and an indictment for depleting state coffers by having the central bank sell dollar futures at an artificially low price.

Several business executives close to her and her late husband are under investigation for illicit enrichment.

The former head of the Argentine court of auditors, Leandro Despouy, says he long suspected the Kirchners' inner circle was diverting huge sums of cash from public works projects.

"The dirty money was always in cash," said Despouy, who served from 2002 to 2016.

"In public works projects, there's a very clear way to accumulate money. Advances were paid whether construction started or not, and in cash."

The problem, he said, was how to hide the money.

He said he used to have nightmares about where it could be.

"There was no way to get it out of the country," he said. "The only way was to bury it."

Macri came to power in December promising a sea change in Argentine politics.

But he now faces corruption allegations of his own.

The president is under investigation for suspected tax evasion after his name came up in the Panama Papers leaks of offshore accounts in tax havens.

He denies wrongdoing.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

LatAm powers to meet Venezuela crisis mediators: OAS

Yahoo – AFP, June 16, 2016

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech during a rally in Caracas
on June 14, 2016 (AFP Photo/Federico Parra)

Santo Domingo (AFP) - Venezuela has asked its regional neighbors to meet next week with international mediators trying to help settle the country's economic and political crisis, officials said Wednesday.

The Organization of American States (OAS) scheduled a session of its permanent council for June 21 in Washington to meet with the mediators at Venezuela's request, according to an OAS document.

The council will talk with three ex-leaders seeking to mediate between Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and opponents seeking to remove him from office.

The three mediators are former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and former presidents Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic and Martin Torrijos of Panama.

The document was shown to AFP during the OAS general assembly in the Dominican Republic.

OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro of Uruguay has called for the 34-country organization to meet on June 23 to discuss possibly suspending Venezuela over Maduro's human rights record.

The mediation led by Zapatero has been proposed as a possible alternative.

US Secretary of State John Kerry with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy 
Rodriguez during the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, 
on June 14, 2016, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (AFP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Venezuela-US talks

On Tuesday, Venezuela and the United States agreed to launch new high-level talks after years of tension.

The announcement came after US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez on the sidelines of the OAS gathering.

Rodriguez said in televised comments on Tuesday that she had asked for the June 21 meeting.

Panama's current president, Juan Carlos Varela, on Wednesday issued a call for dialogue between Venezuela's government and opposition after meeting with opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Capriles has in recent days also met with the presidents of Argentina and Paraguay to ask them to pressure Maduro.

Maduro's opponents are pushing to hold a referendum on whether to cut short his term to ease mounting humanitarian concerns.

The opposition blame him for an economic crisis that has led to food shortages and prompted riots and looting.

Maduro blames the crisis on an "economic war" against him by the business elite.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Dutch court tears up cannabis cafe conviction; says supplies essential to do business Business

DutchNews, June 3, 2016

Photo: wollertz 
Appeal court judges in The Hague have torn up a community service sentence handed down to a cannabis cafe owner, saying officials should have been aware he had marijuana stored in a nearby building. 

The owner of the Leiden cafe and one member of staff were both found guilty of breaking drugs laws in 2014. 

The appeal court judges said the men were right to assume that officials not only turned a blind eye to the coffee shop but to the fact they needed a supply of the drug in order to do business. 

The cafe, which booked annual sales of €900,000, did not have more than the regulation 500 grammes of marijuana on the premises. The main stash – 7.5 kilos at the time of the arrests – was kept nearby so the cafe could be regularly restocked. 


The court ruled that in turning a blind eye to such a large operation, officials must have been aware that it would need a considerable supply of marijuana, otherwise it could not function.

This, the court said, limited the options open to the public prosecution department to take legal action against the cafe owner. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Brazil eases visa rules ahead of Rio Olympics

Yahoo – AFP, 1 June 2016

The tourism ministry said Tuesday that it was throwing the doors open to tourists
from the four countries because they are already a good market and pose a
low security risk (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi Chiba)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Brazil is lifting visa requirements for tourists from Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States starting Wednesday to encourage travel to the Rio Olympics, the government said.

The tourism ministry said Tuesday that it was throwing the doors open to tourists from the four countries because they are already a good market, have strong interest in the Olympics and pose a low security risk.

"These tourists will boost the country's economy by spending in hotels, restaurants, car hire, travel agencies and many other sectors," Tourism Minister Henrique Eduardo Alves said in a statement.

"In this period, our attractions will be on global view. If we do our part, many of these tourists will return after the Olympics bringing friends and relatives," he said.

The Olympics, the first to be held in South America, start August 5.