teleSUR English ES Tue, 25 Feb 2020 23:36:08 -04:00 teleSUR English <![CDATA[US Top Court Dismisses Lawsuit Over Shooting of Mexican Teen]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 23:36:07 -04:00 The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against a Border Patrol agent for fatally shooting a 15-year-old Mexican boy on Mexican soil from across the border in Texas.


California: New Task Force To Curb Gun-Related Home Violence

The court voted five to four to uphold the dismissal already exercised by a lower court in the lawsuit against the agent Jesus Mesa, who was standing on the U.S. side of the border when he shot Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca in the face in 2010.

The boy's family sued the federal court for monetary damages, accusing Mesa of violating the Fourth Amendment's ban on unjustified deadly force and the Fifth Amendment's right to due process.

The ruling, which coincided with the position taken by President Donald Trump's administration in the case, also ended a lawsuit in which a Border Patrol agent fatally shot a 16-year-old Mexican kid named Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez from across the border in Arizona.

"Being left without a just solution after such a violent shooting weakens the constitutional foundation of the United States," said Robert Hilliard, an attorney for the Hernandez family, adding that the ruling could "promote a wild west attitude on the border.

The decision prevents civil rights lawsuits from being filed in U.S. federal court regarding such cross-border incidents if the injured or dead person was not on U.S. soil.

The ruling comes at a time of great tension on the southern border, where Trump continues to build a wall separating the United States from Mexico.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: First Possible Case Of COVID-19, More Tests Needed]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 23:15:41 -04:00 Brazilian health authorities reported on Tuesday the possible detection of what could be the first case of coronavirus in the country. However, they clarified that a new test has yet to happen for definitive confirmation.


1st Vaccine Batch Against Coronavirus Shipped to Clinical Study

The patient, according to official sources, is a 61-year-old Brazilian man recently returned
from Lombardy, northern Italy, where to date, 11 deaths have occurred, and nearly 320 people became infected with the virus.

The first test on this individual took place at the Albert Einstein Hospital, located in the southern part of the city of Sao Paulo, where he is currently receiving treatment.

These results, still considered "preliminary", have been sent to the Adolfo Lutz Institute, a national reference institute, for further analysis, before the case is officially confirmed as the first coronavirus case in Brazil.

Health ministry officials said they hoped the results of the re-test would be known by Wednesday, when a series of additional preventive measures would be taken, depending on the doctors' findings.

According to sources at the Albert Einstein Hospital, one of the country's most prestigious medical institutes, the patient has presented some characteristic symptoms of the coronavirus, such as fever, cough, sore throat, and itchy skin. Still, he is not at risk at the moment.

So far, Brazilian health authorities have investigated 154 suspected cases, but 51 were ruled out, and another 102 were classified as "excluded" because they do not fit the World Health Organization (WHO) definition for coronavirus.


]]> <![CDATA[Donziguer, Not the Lawyer Depicted by Chevron-Texaco: Report]]> Wed, 26 Feb 2020 00:06:50 -04:00 Environmental attorney Steven Donziger, known for winning the Chevron-Texaco oil spill case for Ecuador, got a 36-page recommendation letter. The letter asks for his law license back on Monday after a suspension and house arrest in a ruling that he claimed was pushed by Chevron as retaliation. 

Canada's Indigenous Community Challenges Pipeline

"My recommendation is that his interim suspension should be ended, and that he should be allowed to resume the practice of law," the officer presiding over his bar proceedings in New York, bar referee John Horan, wrote.

"The extent of his pursuit by Chevron is so extravagant, and at this point so unnecessary and punitive, while not a factor in my recommendation, is nonetheless background to it," Horan wrote according to Court House News.

Following bar proceedings that took place last December to review Denziguer's case, Horan suggested that Donziguer was not the intriguing manipulative character depicted by Chevron.

"Several witnesses, all distinguished in their respective fields, testified as character witnesses," including Pink Floyd band member Roger Waters. "Assessment of character is not an exact science, but we can all agree that the essential components are honesty, integrity, and credibility," Horan added. "It is far from clear that [Donziger] is lacking in those qualities as the committee argues."

The principal lawyer trying to bring Chevron Corp to justice for polluting two million hectares of Ecuadorean Amazonian region was suspended from practicing law in New York by an appeals court in July 2018.

Donziger, who won a US$19 billion settlement against Chevron in 2011 - later reduced to US$9.5 billion - on behalf of communities affected by the billions of gallons of oil waste and crude left by Texaco oil company, was ruled, "a threat to the public order."

Donziger said then that the ruling was made without allowing him a hearing and that the decision by the appeals court was based on information provided by Chevron. 

Ecuador's foreign ministry reports that 15.8 billion gallons of oil waste and 28.5 million gallons of crude were left behind by Texaco in the aftermath of its excavation practices between 1964 and 1992.

The government has long claimed that Chevron promised to clean to the over 220 wells and 1,000 pools that Texaco drilled. The company never followed through on its legal obligation, says Ecuador. Chevron merely paid a company to fill over 150 of the pools with "sticks, soil, and even cement (which allows crude) to continually spout from the pools and infiltrate the groundwater sources that are used for human consumption."

In 2011 Donziger won an $18 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador, which was later reduced by half. That same year Chevron appealed the ruling, and in 2014, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan sided with Chevron, saying that Donziger and his legal team used bribery, coercion, and fraud to obtain the first win. Judge Kaplan barred anyone from "profiting in any way from the egregious fraud that occurred."

His ruling was later upheld by a different U.S. appeals court in 2016.



]]> <![CDATA[California: New Task Force To Curb Gun-Related Home Violence]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 22:32:26 -04:00 Officials in the U.S. county of Santa Clara in Northern California are considering creating a new task force of law enforcement to curb the rise in domestic violence-related to gun crime, a local television station reported Monday.


More Than 38,000 Killed by Guns in US during 2019

Santa Clara's Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Cindy Chavez is pushing a plan to set aside about US$750,000 each year to fund the new team.

The main task of this new division will be to intervene in domestic disputes in a timely manner before such disturbances become violent or fatal by family members in possession of weapons, KTVU TV reported.

Local officials are trying to fill a void where police officers often do not have a legally coordinated way to prevent domestic violence suspects from carrying weapons.

The news outlet cited a case in June 2019 in which a desperate man shot and killed four members of his own family in a domestic dispute before committing suicide in San Jose, a major California Bay Area technology center about 70 miles south of San Francisco.

Such cases of domestic violence turned into massacres have steadily increased over the past decade, according to Santa Clara officials.

"We know that any weapon that is out there illegally held has the potential for violence," KTVU quoted San Jose Police Department Deputy Chief Heather Randol.

The new task force will consist of three analysts, a prosecutor and an investigator, according to officials.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Sends $2.5B Coronavirus Budget Request to Congress]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 21:27:09 -04:00 The White House sent to the United States Congress Monday its US$2.5 billion supplemental budget proposal to fight the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

1st Vaccine Batch Against Coronavirus Shipped to Clinical Study

“Today, the Administration is transmitting to Congress a US$2.5 billion supplemental funding plan to accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness and response activities and to procure much-needed equipment and supplies,” Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement.

The funding request is much smaller than the U.S. response in 2014 to the Ebola outbreak when a US$6.2 billion budget was requested by the administration of Barack Obama.

According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, over US$1 billion dollars will be used for vaccine development, and the other funds will be spent on supporting preparedness and response activities as well as procuring needed equipment and supplies.

Politico reported that U.S. public health groups had pushed the White House to ask for emergency funds.

This comes as the World Health Organization has said that the coronavirus outbreak has "pandemic potential" but it's not there yet.

As of Tuesday, the virus has now infected more than 80,000 globally, killing at least 2,700.

]]> <![CDATA[Protests Follow Day After Clash Between Haiti Military, Police]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 21:29:04 -04:00 The Haitian capital lived another day of protests on Monday, where commercial activities were paralyzed after a bloody shootout between police and military happened on Sunday in downtown Port-au-Prince.


Haitian Police Clashes With Armed Forces Near National Palace

A demonstration ran down the avenues of the capital's downtown, bringing together dozens of police and civilians in support of the labor demands by the police.

In almost all of Port-au-Prince, the streets are empty, shops closed, and public transportation paralyzed, a day after Sunday's serious incidents.

In the capital, a strong presence by security agents carrying long weapons was notorious, as well as civilians wielding machetes.

On Sunday, a group of policemen dressed as civilians and wearing hoods attacked the headquarters of the Armed Forces; the clashes extended to the central Champ de Mars square, located in front of the Presidential Palace.

The assault lasted more than six hours and caused at least two deaths, including a policeman and a soldier, and ten wounded, including three civilians, according to the army and hospital reports.

The police also attacked the headquarters of Radio Television Caraibes and set fire to several of the station's vehicles, according to journalists from that media outlet.

These incidents "continue to violate the rights of peaceful citizens and worsen the country's economic situation," government authorities said.

The Haitian government has called the events in downtown Port-au-Prince a "war situation," with gunfire throughout the day and streets blocked.

Meanwhile, the general director of the Haitian National Police, Normil Rameau, acknowledged that the police demands are fair and legitimate, but called on his agents to avoid violence, "because the National Police is an apolitical police force."

"The police have no preference or membership. Its membership and preference is the Haitian population and the laws of the Republic and the regulations of the National Police," Rameau said at a press conference.

Following the incidents, the Haitian government yesterday canceled the Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince to avoid "a bloodbath."

Haiti has been experiencing strong socio-political instability since July 2018, due to the weakness of the economy, accusations of corruption peppering President Jovenel Moise and growing insecurity.


]]> <![CDATA[1st Vaccine Batch Against Coronavirus Shipped to Clinical Study]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 20:29:45 -04:00 U.S. biotech company Moderna announced on Monday that it has shipped its first batch of novel coronavirus vaccine to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for further research.

 Hundreds More Infected of Covid-19 in Italy and South Korea

Vials of mRNA-1273 have been shipped to the NIAID to be used by government researchers in what is known as a Phase 1 Study at the National Institutes of Health, according to the Cambridge-based company.

Moderna, in cooperation with investigators at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center, used a molecule called mRNA that transfers genetic information into cells, mimicking a natural infection to stimulate a more potent immune response.

The vaccine could mimic the spike protein found on the novel coronavirus and other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said on Feb. 7 that if successful, initial clinical trials will start within 2.5 months to test the vaccine's safety on a small group of people.


]]> <![CDATA[Netanyahu Pledges to Build 3,500 Illegal Homes in West Bank]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 19:15:34 -04:00 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday his plans to authorize the construction of some 3,500 new illegal homes for Jewish settlers in one of the most sensitive areas of the occupied West Bank.

Palestine Blasts US Over West Bank Map Plans

"I have given instructions to immediately publish for deposit the plan to build 3,500 housing units in E-1," Netanyahu said in a speech, describing the first phase of a planning process, adding that "this had been delayed for six or seven years."

The E1 plan involves building hundreds of illegal settlement units to link the nearby settlements of Kfar Adumim and Maale Adumim with East Jerusalem in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank.

If fully implemented, Palestinians say the plan would effectively split the West Bank in half, as it is the only land corridor connecting the northern and southern West Bank. 

Also, it would separate East Jerusalem from Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and force them to make even lengthier detours to travel from one place to another.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Netanyahu's announcement "crossed all red lines" and he called on the international community to act.

 “Last time they tried to promote construction in E1 the world was shaken. This is a strategic area for the two-state solution and building a settlement in E1 means that Israel is officially choosing to risk perpetual conflict instead of resolving it,”  Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now responded to the announcement in a statement.

Israel halted a plan to build settlements in the E1 region since 2012 because of objections from the United States, European allies and other world powers who considered the project a threat to any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

"This is a dangerous policy and we consider this an act of destroying the peace process," Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said about Israeli settlement activities, which come days before the March 2 Israeli elections - the third electoral process in less than a year.

US Warns Israel Against 'Unilateral' West Bank Annexation

Israel has built some 140 settlements in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the 1967 six-day war. These settlements are illegal under international law, breaching the Fourth Geneva Convention, among other international agreements and U.N. resolutions.

However, under U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal, unveiled on Jan. 28, the Jewish state would keep key swathes of the occupied territory where Palestinians hope to see their future, independent state. 

Under the proposal dubbed “the deal of the century,” Israel would be allowed to annex all Jewish settlements in the West Bank, as well as the strategic Jordan Valley. It would have the entire city of Jerusalem as its capital.

The Palestinians were offered limited self-rule in Gaza, small portions of the West Bank, a village in the outskirts of Jerusalem as a capital, and some desertic areas of Israel, in exchange for complying with a long list of conditions. 

]]> <![CDATA[Hundreds More Infected of Covid-19 in Italy and South Korea ]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 19:22:24 -04:00 South Korea confirmed 144 more cases of Covid-19 Tuesday and the number of deaths to 10 as both the Asian country and Italy now with 322 top the charts of infected cases outside of China. 


Iran's Deputy Minister of Health Is Infected With Covid-19

The number of infected patients rose to 977, after 144 more cases were reported after one day. The Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has been updating the data twice a day at 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. local time.

Virus infections skyrocketed last week, with 802 new cases reported Wednesday through Monday. The country raised its four-level virus alert to the highest level on Sunday.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited Daegu City in the southeast of the country, where half of the virus infections have occurred and stressed that the spread of the virus into and out of the region must be prevented.

In Europe, Italy's Health Minister Roberto Speranza has also said that neighbouring European countries will not close their borders, in the midst of the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Speranza's statements come after Rome confirmed 11 people dead as a result of the epidemic, with hundreds infected.

"We agreed to keep the borders open, closing the borders would be a disproportionate and ineffective measure at this time," the health official told reporters in Rome on Tuesday.

On the same day, four more people infected with the deadly virus died in northern Italy, bringing the death toll in the Mediterranean country to 11. Three of the dead were in their 80s and came from Lombardy, the most affected region in Italy, Civil Protection agency chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.

In addition to the deaths, Italian authorities confirmed more than 90 new cases of the disease on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in Italy to 322.

As of Tuesday, the virus has now infected more than 80,000 globally, killing at least 2,700.

]]> <![CDATA[Israel-Gaza Ceasefire Finally Takes Hold After 2-Day Fighting]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 20:47:53 -04:00 A ceasefire brokered by Egypt and the United Nations took hold on the Israel-Gaza border on Tuesday after two days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, after the Israeli army killed a Palestinian man, member of the Islamic Jihad.

Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian, Drag His Body With Bulldozer

A video widely shared on social media showed what appeared to be a lifeless body of the militant dangling from an Israeli military bulldozer as it removed the corpse.

The images created an uproar in Gaza, prompting calls for retaliation that were followed by rockets launched by Islamic Jihad.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said that the Islamic Jihad had fired 90 rockets towards Israel along the Gaza border since Sunday.  

Meanwhile, Israel attacked sites in Gaza and Syria that killed three members of the militant group and injured at least 8, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

No casualties were reported on the Israeli side of the border, and Israel's Iron Dome missile system intercepted more than 90 percent of the rockets.

The violence came a week before an Israeli election in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term in office after two inconclusive votes.

The border fell quiet early on Tuesday after a Palestinian official said Israel and Islamic Jihad had reached a "reciprocal and simultaneous ceasefire" mediated by Egypt and the United Nations.

"This round is over and Palestinian resistance promised its people that every act of aggression by the Zionist occupation would be met by a reaction from the resistance," Khader Habib, a senior Islamic Jihad official, told Reuters.

The Israeli military said it reopened roads near the Gaza border on Tuesday that it had closed when the fighting began and that train services would resume in the area.

However, citing a security pretext, the military kept Israel's border crossings with Gaza closed, except for humanitarian causes, and banned Palestinian fishers from heading to sea.


]]> <![CDATA[Sanders Surpasses Biden Among Black Voters: Poll]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 17:56:36 -04:00 United States Senator and Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders has widened his lead for the Democratic presidential nomination and overtaken Joe Biden in support among Black voters, according to a Reuters/Ipsos national poll released Tuesday.

Bloomberg To Unleash Massive Media Attack Against Sanders

The poll, conducted Feb. 19-25, found that when asked which candidate they would support in their state’s nominating contest, 26 percent of Black voters said they would choose Sanders, up seven points from a previous reading conducted Jan. 29-Feb. 19.

Around 23 percent said they would back Biden, down 10 points from the last survey, and 20 percent would support Bloomberg, a rise of 10 points. The voting bloc until now had largely favored the former vice president.

The Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the U.S. It gathered responses from 4,439 U.S. adults. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of between two and five percentage points.

Among all registered Democrats and independents, 26 percent said they would vote for Sanders, while 15 percent said they were backing Bloomberg and another 15 supported Biden.

This comes days before South Carolina will hold its Democratic primary, ahead of the March 3 Super Tuesday in which 14 states will choose their candidate. However, Feb. 29 vote will be key in a state where black voters make up more than half of the Democratic electorate.

Sanders has won the popular vote in a contested and heavily criticized election in Iowa and has bagged two important wins in New Hampshire and Nevada. 

The latter state proved pivotal for Sanders it showed that minorities support the progressive candidate. Among Latino voters, Sanders won the bloc by 40 percent and proved competitive with Black voters, losing them by only 12 percent to Biden. 

]]> <![CDATA[Anti-Muslim Violence Engulfs New Delhi For 3rd Day]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 17:31:49 -04:00 A mosque was set on fire in the Indian capital New Delhi Tuesday as violent clashes continue across the city for the third day between Hindu mobs against Muslim protesters and civilians. 

‘Anti-Muslim Pogrom’ Denounced Amid Anti-CAA Protests in New Delhi

According to the Indian website The Wire a Hindu mob shouting "Jai Shri Ram" (‘Hail Lord Ram), celebrated around the burning mosque in the Ashok Nagar area of the capital placing a saffron flag - the official flag of Hinduism -  on one of the minarets. 

The violence, which has left the streets of north-east Delhi in flames, caused the death of one policeman and 12 civilians, and over 150 injured.

The Muslim community has denounced police has allowed violent clashes and even partaken. A video surfaced Monday of police forces making injured Muslim protesters laying on the street sing the national anthem while they recorded them. 

A senior Delhi Police official Anil Mittal announced on Tuesday additional police officers had been deployed in the northeast district of Delhi.

"Since yesterday, we've been calling the police to enforce a curfew, to send reinforcements," Saurabh Sharma, a student from a riot-hit area who took his injured friend to the hospital, told AFP. Local media reported that shops in the area were also being targeted by the mob. 

Fresh violence has also been reported from Muslim populated areas such as Karawal Nagar, Maujpur, Bhajanpura, Vijay Park and Yamuna Vihar, while stones were thrown in neighborhoods such as Maujpur.

"Some of the people brought in had gunshot wounds," Rajesh Kalra, an additional medical superintendent at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, said of Monday's violence.

Sachin Kumar, 35, an autorickshaw driver, told The Guardian that he witnessed the riots on the streets of Khajuri over the past two days and it was the first time he had seen Muslim and Hindus in such violent conflict.

“It is a religious riot that began when the Hindus tried to move Muslim protesters using violence,” Kumar said. “It has got completely out of hand. I saw shrines and mosques burning, Muslims’ shops were attacked and both sides were throwing stones. Cars were on fire and even the schools have been burned.”

The violence was sparked after provocation by a local leader of the ruling far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Kapil Mishra, led a rally in support of the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The law in question has sparked massive protests across the country, as hundreds of thousands of Indians have taken to the streets demanding far-right President Narendra Modi to revoke the legislation. 

The CAA was passed on Dec. 11 and provides non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who moved to the country before 2015 a pathway to citizenship. 

However, critics and opposition parties say the law, which excludes Muslims, is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on people’s religion and will marginalize India’s 200 million Muslim citizens.

]]> <![CDATA[Pot-Banging in Colombia Against Government's Political Genocide]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 17:56:15 -04:00 The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) called for a pot-banging that will take place on Tuesday at 6:00 pm at the Journalist's Park, in Bogota, as a response to the wave of violence that is plaguing the country.



Colombia: 46 Social Leaders, 10 Ex-FARC Members Killed in 2020


"The pot-banging is a call for Colombia not to be indifferent to this reality, in which 186 ex-guerrillas and more than 800 social leaders have been killed in recent years", FARC Party Senator Carlos Antonio Lozada declared yesterday to the local press.

In these first two months of 2020, 14 murders of former combatants have been verified, according to the latest report by the head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu.

According to Lozada, of the total number of guerrillas killed in 2020, two FARC party members who were executed last week stand out: Winston Moreno, found dead in Quibdó, Chocó; and Esder Pineda Peña, killed in Algeciras, Huila. 



"We left the guns behind. We're complying with the Agreement. We are building peace every day.   Duke stop the Genocide. Protect the lives of peace signatories." 


"Both had signed the peace agreements and laid down their arms. So, it's time for the State to stop this cruelty," the senator condemned.

The FARC knows "the names of every person killed, thanks to a daily count and follow-up. We will gather the necessary information to denounce these acts of political Genocide before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the UN," he said.

During the signing of the first peace agreement in Havana, Cuba, in September 2016, the then guerrilla group FARC and former president Juan Manuel Santos's government decided to put an end to a conflict that had lasted more than half a century. 

Afterward, a second and final agreement was needed, signed in November 2016, this time in Cartagena, Colombia.

However, when Ivan Duque became president of Colombia in August 2018, he reversed the gains that the 2016 peace accords had achieved after calling them an "excessive concession to the guerrillas."

During his first years as president, Duque unilaterally modified the text of the agreements, and launched an offensive against the FARC, causing the death of hundreds of former Colombian guerrillas from 2018 to date.




]]> <![CDATA[Egypt's Former President Hosni Mubarak Has Passed Away]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 16:05:51 -04:00 Egypt’s government Tuesday announced that former President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled this African country from 1981 to 2011,  passed away at the age of 91.


Egypt Upholds Detention of Researcher Patrick George Zaki, Denies Torture

Alaa Mubarak confirmed his father's death through social networks where he posted a video in which two images of Mubarak are presented, one as president and another as a young Army officer.

"With and against us, the homeland remains and people leave. Egypt is immortal," the former President says in one of the video's scenes.

Besides declaring national mourning, the President Abdul-Fattah El-Sisi administration referred to Mubarak as a hero of the 1973 Yom Kippur war against Israel, "the war that regained the Arabic nation's honor and dignity."

Mubarak, who died after being in intensive care for weeks due to a stomach operation​​​​​​​, was ousted as Egypt's president after the so-called Arab Spring which spread across African countries in 2011.

As a result of the death of citizens who had protested against his government, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012, although judges subsequently overturned that verdict.

In 2014, Mubarak was sentenced to three years in jail for financial irregularities. After that period, he was released.

Eight years after the end of his Presidency, the country's inhabitants remain divided into their opinions and attitudes towards his 30-years regime.

"Torture was the state policy at the time of Mubarak and was an organized method in prisons and at the hands of the Police," a human rights defender Aida Seif al Daula recalled.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[UK: Assange Mistreated in Prison After Extradition Hearing]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 14:47:40 -04:00 Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's lawyers Tuesday denounced that his client was mistreated in prison once he left the extradition hearing held at the Woolwich Crown Court in London.


Assange's Trial for U.S. Extradition Begins in London

"Assange was handcuffed 11 times, stripped naked twice and had his case files confiscated," his lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said.

"The case files, which the prisoner was reading in court on Monday, were confiscated by the guards when he returned to prison later. That same night he was placed in five cells," he added.

Assange's defense team appealed to Judge Vanessa Baraitser to consider such treatment as it was harming his "right to a fair trial and his ability to participate in the proceedings."


This opinion was also supported by James Lewis QC, the Queen's Counsel who is acting for the U.S. authorities in this case.

"I do not want Assange to be held in a condition or experience treatment that jeopardized his right to a fair hearing."

In response to the complaint, Judge Baraitser said she did not have "the legal power to comment or rule on Assange's conditions," but encouraged the defense team "to formally raise the matter with the prison."

"I think everyone in the court agrees that this is a fair hearing," Baraitser said as concluded that "I would expect Assange to be treated in a way that protected his right to a fair trial."​​​​​​​

Given that Donald Trump's administration has pointed to Assange as an enemy of U.S. who "must be brought down", his lawyers have been defended that his life could be at risk if he is forced to face a trial in the U.S.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Costa Rica: Jehry Rivera Dies While Defending Indigenous Lands]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 13:20:42 -04:00 Costa Rica's Indigenous leader Jehry Rivera was shot dead on Monday night while the Mano de Tigre community inhabitants tried to defend themselves from hitmen in San Antonio de Terraba, in the Puntarenas province.


Costa Rican Teachers Protest Against Privatization of Education

The events happened inside an area in which the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ((IACHR) issued protective measures in favor of the Indigenous population, for they have been constantly threatened by white landlords ("finqueros") who seek to appropriate their territory.

Costa Rica's President Carlos Alvarado, who said he deeply regretted what had happened, reported that the alleged culprit of the murder had already been arrested. His statements, however, did not convince social activists.

"This crime against the Indigenous rights defender Jerhy Rivera splashes with blood the hypocrisy of the Costa Rican State, which claims to protect human rights but its policies leave all Indigenous peoples abandoned and forgotten," the Federation of Ecologists (Fecon) said.​​​​​​​

Rivera's assassination occurred almost a year after the attack on another Indigenous leader, Sergio Rojas, who was also killed by hitmen in Puntarenas, even though he had protective measures.​​​​​​ 

"On Feb. 24, landowners' hitmen murdered the indigenous leader Jerhy Rivera in San Antonio de Terraba, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The public force's inaction turns Public Security Minister Michael Soto and President Carlos Alvarado into accomplices."

"Although Costa Rican legislation recognizes these lands as part of the Indigenous territories, governments do not apply the law. They protect the interests of racist groups," the Fecon explained.

Human rights defenders also denounced that the Costa Rican corporate media had made reports with negative dyes of the land recoveries carried out by the Indigenous peoples.

They also stressed that talking about "land conflict" is a just way of hiding the fact that companies have been invading Indigenous territories.​​​​​​​

"We condemn the perverse spirit of reports and journalistic approaches they have used to encourage violence against land recuperators," local outlet Surcos reported.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Brexit: EU Approves Negotiation of Its Future Relations With UK]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 13:02:40 -04:00 European Union's Foreign Ministers Tuesday definitively approved the mandate to negotiate the future relationship of its economic bloc with the United Kingdom after Brexit, which means that the talks could begin in March.


Brexit Day Has Come: The United Kingdom Quits European Union

The mandate for the European Commission (EC) to negotiate with the United Kingdom was approved during the General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

The EU-27 diplomats should have approved negotiations on Feb. 19, but failed to reach consensus in areas related to "the level playing field", which is important given that the U.K. is no longer subject to EU rules.

"It is important to respect European rules. We need to keep reciprocal conditions to make sure we keep an equal and loyal relationship," France’s Minister of State for European Affairs Amelie de Montchalin said​.​​​​​

The trade agreement proposed by the EC to the U.K. is "highly ambitious" because it seeks no tariffs or quotas for goods entering the single market and underlines the need to maintain a level playing field between the two parties.

Although the British have not yet published their negotiating mandate, their goal is to ensure "our economic and political independence on January 1st, 2021," as Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Tuesday.

The talks are expected to be complicated given that many regulatory gaps must be resolved. Among them are issues related to the "level playing field" and trade problems about fishing, as reported by The Guardian.​​​​​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Iran's Deputy Minister of Health Is Infected With Covid-19]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 10:31:42 -04:00 Iran's Deputy Minister of Health Iraj Harirchi, who is in charge of containing the new coronavirus outbreak, Tuesday announced that he is infected with Covid-19.


Italian Authorities Suspend Venice Carnival Due to Coronavirus

"Since yesterday I had a fever. My first test last night came out positive and since then I am isolated. A few minutes ago I was confirmed that the final test has also tested positive," Harirchi explained in a video.

The Deputy Minister indicated that he is already receiving treatment and that his condition "in general is not bad" and that he hopes that the fever will return and he will be able to return to work later.

"I wanted to assure you that we will succeed in the fight against this virus with the effort of the Ministry of Health, as well as with the support of you and the Government," he added.

The reformist deputy Mahmud Sadeqi also reported that he is infected by the coronavirus and said he has "little hope" to survive​​​​​​​.​​​​​​​

On the left is Iraj Harirchi, Iran's Deputy Health Minister, who has just tested positive for coronavirus. Yesterday he was talking to the press about the coronavirus.

According to official figures from the Ministry of Health, Iran has 95 people infected with the coronavirus and 15 patients have died up to Feb. 25.

The possibility that the numbers are higher exists. To help Iranian authorities implement the necessary containment measures, the World Health Organization (WHO) will send a scientific mission to Iran on Tuesday.

To prevent the spread of the disease, neighboring countries to Iran have closed their land borders and most airlines have suspended their flights.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Cuba Claims for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 11:05:44 -04:00 Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Tuesday asked the international community to work in favor of complete nuclear disarmament at the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.​​​​​​


US Deploys Dangerous Nuclear Weapon for First Time Ever

 "The international community cannot remain silent in the face of the current scenario, in which wars of pillage, arms race, and the lack of respect for the right to self-determination of peoples are proliferating," Rodriguez said.

"The behavior of the U.S. administration and its military domination strategy is worrisome. The modernization of its nuclear weapons arsenal threatens international peace and security," the Foreign Minister warned.​​​​​​

"This multilateral forum is prepared to negotiate simultaneously a treaty banning the arms race in outer space, and to provide effective security guarantees for non-nuclear-weapon States such as Cuba," he said.

"Disarmament Conference. Let's work tirelessly for general and complete disarmament, especially nuclear. Let's save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and let's achieve lasting and sustainable peace for all." 


The Foreign Affairs minister used the multilateral forum to denounce the U.S. campaigns against the Latin American leftist political forces, leaders, and progressive governments.

"We reject the unconventional war waged by the U.S. to try to overthrow the legitimately constituted government of President Nicolas Maduro in the sister the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," Rodriguez stressed.

Today, with more strength than ever, "it is indispensable that all States refrain from exerting pressure on other countries, including the application of unilateral coercive measures, contrary to international law."

"Total disarmament is the best way to preserve future generations from the scourge of war. Let us conquer a lasting and sustainable peace for all," the Cuban diplomat concluded.

]]> <![CDATA[Germany: 52 Injured After Car Drives Into Carnival Parade]]> Tue, 25 Feb 2020 09:29:04 -04:00 A Mercedes Benz Monday intentionally plowed into the crowd attending Carnival in Volkmarsen town, Germany, and injured at least 52 people, 18 of whom were minors. 


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The driver, a 29-year-old German, was injured and therefore has not been questioned so far. However, it is known that he has a police record for crimes related to public order alteration.

The Police do not rule out that the incident was an intentional attack with political motivations. In that regard, the Prosecutor General's Office in Frankfurt opened an investigation for an alleged crime of attempted murder.

The attack occurred around 14.30 local time on Monday when hundreds of people were celebrating the carnival in Volkmarsen, a town of about 7,000 inhabitants​​​​.

Volkmarsen, where a driver intentionally ran over a crowd of people celebrating the carnival. 52 people, including children, were injured, some seriously. The driver was arrested. The silence of the media is suffocating.

Then, after evading the prohibitions that prevented vehicles from circulating in the parade area, the driver speeded up his vehicle and hit dozens of people during a deadly journey of about 100 feet​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.

On Tuesday, the North Hesse police spokesman Henning Hinn reported that a second person, who has been detained in relation to these events, is investigated for an alleged crime of violation of the private sphere by having recorded the incident with his mobile phone. His relationship with the driver, however, "has not been proven."

Hinn also explained that the police presence in public events has been reinforced, even though "there are no concrete signs that lead us to believe that the level of risk has increased.”​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[African Youth Optimistic About Future on the Continent: Survey]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 23:44:46 -04:00 Young people across Africa are overwhelmingly optimistic about their future and believe the continent is heading for success thanks to new technologies and entrepreneurship, according to the African Youth Survey 2020 released Thursday.


The 2020 Africa Climate Week to Face Paris Agreement Challenges

The survey, conducted by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, said that “a rising Afro-Optimism among the continent’s youth-driven by a strong sense of individual responsibility, a post-colonial mindset, entrepreneurialism, and confidence in a shared African identity.”

“Africa’s youth believe they can solve problems collaboratively, and are hopeful of fighting corruption, achieving peace and improving their personal living conditions.”

Although most of the people interviewed are unhappy with the state of their own country, almost half believe Africa is in a better state than before, and two-thirds say the continent is going through a transformative era.

The survey covered 14 countries and included more than 4,000 interviews with young people aged between 18 and 24.

Eighty-one percent of those surveyed think technology “will change the fortunes of Africa,” and 79 percent say Wi-Fi access should be a fundamental human right.

Strongly believing in technology and business, three-quarters of young people say they want to launch their own business or social enterprise within the next few years, and many have already ideas they are ready to work on if given funding.

The biggest concerns among them remain corruption, the creation of new jobs for the increasing young population (average age in Africa is under 20), peace, and security in the continent.

Ichikowitz Family Foundation chairman, Ivor Ichikowitz said “the results of the African Youth Survey are a loud wake-up call to all the Afro-sceptics.”

“We have found that youth in Africa are imbued with optimism about the future – and want to shape their own destiny. We have found a youth that refuses to shy away from the very real challenges of Africa, that is honest about what needs to be done and what their role has to be to achieve this – and they are overwhelmingly keen to make that difference,” Ichikowitz said.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombian Congress to Investigate Duque Over Fraud Allegations]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 23:38:17 -04:00 Colombia's Lower Chamber's Accusation Committee opened a preliminary investigation Monday against Colombian President Ivan Duque after accusations of electoral fraud by former Congresswoman Aida Merlano.


Colombia: Judge Requests Probe Into Electoral Fraud Allegations Against Duque

"We have taken the decision to open an investigation" after receiving the complaint against Duque from House Representative David Racero, of the "Decentes" opposition movement, the president of the Accusation Commission, John Jairo Cardenas, told the press.

Cardenas explained that Congressmen Edward Rodriguez (Democratic Center), Andres Calle (Liberal Party), and Wilmer Leal (Green Party) were appointed to the investigation and will officiate "as investigators of the process."

"From this moment on, they are invested with the faculties that the Constitution and the law confer on them to carry out all that is pertinent in the development of this investigation," said Cardenas.

The Commission, which is in charge of investigating those who enjoy immunity, is made up of politicians from various parties, and although it has opened cases against several presidents or former presidents, it has never convicted anyone.

The Commission's decision is based on a complaint filed a few days ago by Racero and seeks to find out whether Merlano's statements are indeed true.

The investigation will seek to prove whether or not the head of state is responsible for the alleged crimes of electoral fraud, corruption, and vote trafficking.

Merlano, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Colombia on electoral corruption charges, escaped from a dental office in Bogota last October and was recaptured on Jan. 27 by agents of the Special Action Force (FAES) of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Colombia: Former Deputy Denounces President Duque, Lawmakers Involved in Major Electoral Fraud

During a live interview with Colombian magazine Semana last week, Merlano accused Duque was aware that the Gerlain and Char families bought votes in the Atlantic department to get him elected as president in 2017. 

“Julio Gerlein and the Char family bought votes to elect Duque (...) The Chars directed all the traditional politicians of the coast to purchase votes for the election of presidents of the Republic (...) Everyone bought votes to choose Duque," the former congresswoman said, adding that each vote was worth around 10,000 pesos.

Merlano recalled that Julio Gerlein told her that he had invested vast amounts in Duque's campaign in the face of his presidential aspirations. She said he invested 6,000 million pesos "and the Chars held a fundraising" between contractors. 

The Gerlein and Char families are among the most powerful economic groups in Colombia. Merlano said that Julio Gerlein - brother of Roberto Gerlein, a former Senator and career politician from the Conservative party to which Merlano belonged to - “not only bought votes, but he had ID cards, mistreated the leaders, and intimidated the people to comply with the agreements.”

Merlano also mentioned that former Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez is an accomplice of Colombian corruption and knew about the contracts granted to the construction company Odebrecht, as well as the bribe" that Colombian congressmen received, "if Nestor Humberto falls he goes down with the whole political class," she added.

]]> <![CDATA[Bloomberg To Unleash Massive Media Attack Against Sanders]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 21:49:30 -04:00 Mike Bloomberg's presidential campaign plans to unleash a massive media operation against presidential candidate Bernie Sanders after the Vermont senator's resounding victory in Nevada, according to CNBC, which broke the story Monday.


Bernie Sanders To Skip AIPAC Conference On Political Reasons

Bloomberg's campaign, which has already spent over US$500 million on media ad buys, have been discussing how they will use the billionaire plutocrat's ​​​​​​​ resources against Sanders.

"The Bloomberg machine turns its billions onto Sanders in a first test of what the general election will look like," tweeted The Hill's Sagaar Enjeti. 

According to direct sources who requested anonymity, they plan "multiple attacks," including publishing opposition investigations on Sanders, in addition to launching digital attack ads focused on Sanders' records as congressman and senator.

On Monday, Bloomberg's campaign tried to portray Sanders as a former ally of the National Rifle Association.

This comes after Sanders, now seen as the Democratic front-runner, has taken aim at Bloomberg for his public support as mayor of New York City of a policing policy known as stop-and-frisk that often targeted black and Latino people in the city. 

Many more ads aimed at tarnishing the image of the Vermont legislator are expected in the coming weeks. Bloomberg's technology company, Hawkfish, has been responsible for developing the campaign's digital ads.

Bloomberg's campaign is sounding the alarm about Sanders, a self-styled democratic socialist, ahead of Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states hold their primaries.

Sanders has moved ahead in state and national polls, while Bloomberg's momentum has stalled somewhat after a poor review of the results in last week's debate.​​​​​​​ Bloomberg has yet to participate in the primaries and has invested most of his campaign efforts in capturing the rich delegates from the Super Tuesday states, including the top prizes, Texas and California.

The campaign has previously acknowledged that Sanders is the biggest threat to face the Democratic nomination.

]]> <![CDATA[China Adopts Decision to Ban Trade, Consumption of Wildlife]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 21:11:06 -04:00 China's top legislature adopted Monday a decision to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals in an attempt to safeguard people’s lives and health.


Stock Markets, Oil Sink as Coronavirus Pandemic Fear Spreads

The move came in a bid to safeguard biological and ecological security and prevent major public health risks, as wild animals are largely believed to be the source of the novel coronavirus.

According to the decision, the consumption of wild animals "of important ecological, scientific and social value" including those that are bred or reared in captivity, will be thoroughly prohibited.

The hunting, trading, and transportation of animals that naturally grow and breed in the wild for the purpose of consumption will be completely prohibited.

Violation of the decision and other existing laws related to the consumption of wildlife will lead to heavy penalties, the decision stipulates.


Italian Authorities Suspend Venice Carnival Due to Coronavirus

It also states that the use of wild animals for non-edible purposes, including scientific research, medical use, and display, will be subject to strict examination, approval and quarantine inspection procedures.

Trade and consumption of wild animals -a multibillion-dollar industry that employs millions of people in China- have aroused huge public concerns following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, as experts suggested wild animals are likely to be the source of the virus.

The new coronavirus, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December, has killed more than 2,600 people and infected more than 79,500 worldwide.

It has spread to more than two dozen countries, but nearly 99 percent of the deaths and infections have been reported in mainland China.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, mainly because of fears that the virus could spread to countries with weaker health systems.

]]> <![CDATA[India Erects Walls Hiding Slums Ahead of Trump Visit]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 21:24:06 -04:00 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat geared up to welcome United States President Donald Trump  Monday, with the city of Ahmedabad receiving a facelift with walls erected to hide slums and impoverished neighborhoods.

Hundreds Protest Citizenship Law in India Ahead of Trump Visit

Trump's stop in the most important city in the western state preceded a two-day trip during which includes a visit to the Taj Mahal in the north of the country and New Delhi, where he will hold meetings on Tuesday.

Ahmedabad resembled an open-air temple dedicated to Trump and Modi, with dozens of posters bearing their images, including giant full-body portraits.

Dozens of workers were busy on Sunday putting the final details in place on the route Trump will take in Ahmedabad, where the asphalt is now a pristine black and the fences are freshly painted.

A hastily-erected wall has also been completed between the main road and a poor neighborhood, a move that has sparked numerous criticisms.

Local authorities insisted it had nothing to do with Trump’s visit and said the decision to build the wall was made two months ago. The city’s municipal commissioner Vijay Nehra said on his Twitter account that it was built to “prevent encroachments on footpath and road.”


But residents of the neighborhood have a different opinion.​​​​​​​ Rajubhai Surani told EFE he was sad to see that “the walls are being erected for them, to hide the poor.”

Surani was one of the few who dared to speak openly to the press.​​​​​​​ Others claimed they have been threatened with retaliation if they comment on anything.

One resident, who only gave his name as Rahul, had a newspaper article on his mobile chronicling the pressures against them from members of Modi’s far-right Hindu nationalist party BJP.

Activist Aswathy Jwala, who started a protest after learning about the wall, has disappeared.

“The police took her away,” neighbors said, raising their hands with their fists clenched in a gesture of being handcuffed.

]]> <![CDATA[Actresses and Activists React to Harvey Weinstein's Verdict]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 20:25:29 -04:00 Actresses, women's rights groups and activists welcomed the guilty verdict against Harvey Weinstein, the producer who had reigned as one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood.

Japanese ‘MeToo’ Activist Wins Lawsuit Against Rapist

Accusations against Weinstein helped fuel the #MeToo movement of women speaking out about mistreatment. Hollywood celebrities also founded Times Up, an organization dedicated to fighting sexual harassment and abuse across all industries.

“We will change the laws in the future so that rape victims are heard and not discredited and so that it’s easier for people to report their rapes,” actress Rosanna Arquette, who has said she resisted unwanted sexual advances by Weinstein, wrote on Twitter.

Ashley Judd, who testified against Weinstein accusing him of sexual harrassment, celebrated the courage of the women who pushed for the New York trial.

“While it is disappointing that today’s outcome does not deliver the true, full justice that so many women deserve, Harvey Weinstein will now forever be known as a convicted serial predator,” the Silence Breakers, a group of Weinstein accusers, said in a statement.

“This has been a flawed process from the beginning but has further exposed the difficulties women face in coming forward to tell the truth about powerful abusers,” the statement added.

“This trial - and the jury’s decision today - marks a new era of justice, not just for the Silence Breakers, who spoke out at great personal risk, but for all survivors of harassment, abuse, and assault at work,” Time’s Up president and CEO Tina Tchen said in a statement.

“The jury’s verdict sends a powerful message to the world of just how much progress has been made since the Weinstein Silence Breakers ignited an unstoppable movement,” Tchen added.

“While we celebrate this historic moment, our fight to fix the broken system that has allowed serial abusers like Harvey Weinstein to abuse women in the first place continues. Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There’s no going back,” she said.

New Yorker journalist Ronan Farrow, who broke stories about allegations against Weinstein, reminded the role of witnesses and prosecutors in the jury's decision on Twitter.

“Harvey Weinstein operated with impunity and without remorse for decades in Hollywood. Yet, it still took years, and millions of voices raised, for one man to be held accountable by the justice system,” the Me Too organization said in a statement.

“This case reminds us that sexual violence thrives on unchecked power and privilege. The implications reverberate far beyond Hollywood and into the daily lives of all of us in the rest of the world,” the statement added.

“Though today a man has been found guilty, we have to wonder whether anyone will care about the rest of us tomorrow. This is why we say MeToo,” the group said.

]]> <![CDATA[Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician, Dies at 101]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 20:17:35 -04:00 Katherine Johnson, the Black woman whose mathematical genius took her from a behind-the-scenes job in a segregated NASA as portrayed in the film “Hidden Figures” to a key role in sending humans to the moon, died on Monday at the age of 101, NASA said.

The 'Yaravirus', a Mysterious Harmless Organism Found in Brazil

“Our NASA family is sad to learn the news that Katherine Johnson passed away this morning at 101 years old,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine posted to Twitter. “She was an American hero and her pioneering legacy will never be forgotten.”

Johnson and her Black colleagues were little known to the public for decades but gained overdue recognition when the book “Hidden Figures” was published and the 2016 Oscar-nominated movie hit the screens. Johnson attended the 2017 Oscars ceremony, joining the film’s cast in presenting an award for documentaries, and was given a standing ovation.

In 2016, NASA named a research facility for Johnson in her hometown of Hampton, Virginia, and a year later her alma mater, West Virginia State, marked her 100th birthday in August 2018 by establishing a scholarship in her name and erecting a statue.

Johnson had a groundbreaking career of 33 years with the space agency, working on the Mercury and Apollo missions, including the first moon landing in 1969, and the early years of the space shuttle program. Astronaut John Glenn thought so much of her that he insisted Johnson be consulted before his historic earth-orbiting flight in 1962.

“Get the girl to check the numbers,” he said.

“He knew I had done (the calculations) before for him and they trusted my work,” Johnson told the Washington Post in 2017.

During the space race between the United States and the former Soviet Union that began in the late 1950s, Johnson and her co-workers ran the numbers for unmanned rocket launches, test flights and airplane safety studies using pencils, slide rules and mechanical calculating machines. But they did their work in facilities separate from white workers and were required to use separate restrooms and dining facilities.

Johnson always said she was too busy with her work to be concerned with racism.

“She didn’t close her eyes to the racism that existed,” Margot Lee Shetterly wrote in “Hidden Figures.” “She knew just as well as any other Black person the tax levied upon them because of their color. But she didn’t feel it in the same way. She wished it away, willed it out of existence inasmuch as her daily life was concerned.”

She grew up in West Virginia at a time when educational opportunities for Blacks were limited because of segregation. But her mother, a former teacher, and her father, a farmer and handyman, stressed education and moved the family 120 miles to a town that had a high school for black children.

Johnson’s math skills got her into West Virginia State College at age 15. She zipped through the school’s math program, earning degrees in math and French before becoming one of the first Black students in the graduate school at West Virginia University in 1938.

After teaching school for seven years, Johnson went to work for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, a forerunner of NASA, in Hampton in 1953 with dozens of other Black women.

Johnson found herself in a realm made up almost exclusively of white men when she was chosen to be part of the team supporting the 1961 mission that made Alan Shepard the first U.S. citizen in space. She would go on to calculate crucial rocket trajectories, orbital paths and launch windows.

Johnson made the transition to the computer era and worked on the shuttle program while writing or co-writing 26 research reports before retiring in 1986, NASA said.

She said she was most proud of her contributions to the first moon mission, which included the calculations that synched the lunar lander craft and the orbiting command module.

]]> <![CDATA[Saudi Authorities to Arrest Woman Rapper Over Mecca Music Video]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 19:31:51 -04:00 A black Saudi woman rapper is facing prosecution in Saudi Arabia because she posted a video of herself singing about being from the city of Mecca, home to the holiest site in Islam, the Kaaba.


Bangladesh Seeks Return From Saudi Arabia of Sexually Abused Worker

In her song, “Girl of Mecca,” Ayasel Slay, who is of Eritrean origin, praises women from Mecca. The artist sings proudly about how a woman from that city exceeds all other Saudi women in beauty and strength while a group of smiling children dances in the background.

Yet Saudi authorities claimed the song is "offensive" to the customs and traditions of the holy city. The video was removed from the artist’s YouTube channel. 

Mecca’s governor Khaled al-Faisal ordered the arrest of Slay and the video production team for "insulting the customs of Mecca" and “contradicting the identity and traditions of its esteemed population.”

The song sparked sharp responses from social media users in Saudi Arabia. The hashtag “You are not Mecca’s girls” went viral, and racist posts poured in reference to the rapper’s African origins. 

"Immediate deportation is the answer, in addition to holding every foreigner who claims to be from Mecca accountable," one person tweeted.

But many -under the hashtags “Mecca girl represents me” and “Help Ayasel”- defended the rapper and her song, and denounced racism in the kingdom.

They also highlighted what they described as hypocrisy and double standards on the part of Saudi authorities.

"What a contrasting situation ... [the government] invites singers and dancers to the country, and no one objected, but this girl did this song, and now everyone is against her?" a social media user said.

In recent years, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has attempted to implement a series of social reforms in Saudi Arabia, including giving women the right to drive and creating an entertainment industry in the conservative kingdom. 

For the first time, the country has invited globally renowned artists like Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj to perform there. Minaj, however, canceled her concert, citing her support for the rights of women and the LGBT community.

"This is so typical of the Saudi government to do - bring western influencers to art wash the regime but attack real Saudi women who try to artistically express their cultural identities," tweeted one Saudi-American, Amani al-Ahmad.

Severe crackdowns accompanied MBS’s measures to improve the country’s reputation on those critical of the regime. Activists - both men and women - journalists, political opponents, and dissents in any way have been imprisoned with some reportedly tortured.

]]> <![CDATA[US Wants Afghan President to Postpone Planned Inauguration]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 18:54:28 -04:00 The United States wants Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to delay his second-term inauguration over concerns it could inflame an election feud with his political rival Abdullah Abdullah, jeopardizing peacemaking efforts with the Taliban, Reuters reported Monday. 

US Dropped Record Number of Bombs on Afghanistan in 2019

Ghani plans to take the oath of office on Thursday, an Afghan official said as Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission declared him last week winner of the Sept. 28 presidential election.

However, his main rival Abdullah rejected the result and pledged to form his own government; also proclaiming himself the winner and planning a parallel inauguration, according to Afghan media reports.

The competing claims, neither of which Washington has recognized, threaten a U.S.-led peace process with the Taliban as the peace deal is to be followed by inter-Afghan talks on a political settlement to end decades of war.

The Ghani-Abdullah feud threatens to further complicate the naming of a delegation to negotiate with the insurgents. Also, the Taliban have always refused to negotiate with the government, which they consider a U.S. puppet.

In the 2014 polls, the same presidential candidates ended in a deadlock accusing each other of massive fraud. The U.S. arbitrated the dispute and settled in a power-sharing system that made Ghani president and Abdullah his chief executive.

Since then, the relationship between the two men has been marked by an intense struggle for power.


Ashraf Ghani Declared Afghanistan's President, Abdullah Rejects

A source familiar with the matter said that because of those concerns, U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been in Kabul since last week, wants Ghani to delay his planned inauguration to a second five-year term.

The U.S. State Department and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment and the Afghan Embassy in Washington declined to comment.

This comes as the U.S. and the Taliban - which has been fighting the U.S.-led NATO forces in the country since their regime was toppled in 2001 -  will start off a week-long reduction in violence that is to culminate on Saturday with the signing of a U.S.-Taliban deal on a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Talks between the Taliban and the U.S. aimed at ending the war collapsed on Sept. 7 as President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally cancel talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders after the group claimed the attack in Kabul that killed a U.S. soldier and 11 civilians, despite already having already reached a draft peace deal.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan continues to be Washington’s longest conflict in its history. It was started after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan as part of the so-called "war on terror" to dismantle Al-Qaeda by removing the Taliban from power. 

Almost US$975 billion has been spent and between 147,000 and 220,000 people have died.

]]> <![CDATA[Chilean President Piñera's Disapproval Increases to 83%: Survey]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 19:03:36 -04:00 The disapproval of Chilean President Sebastian Piñera's administration stood at 83 percent, an increase of five percentage points from the previous survey, according to the survey conducted by the consulting firm Cadem released Monday.


Chile: 3,765 Injured,10,000 Detained Protesters Since October

Similarly, the Chilean president's approval rating fell by one point to 12 percent from the last survey published on February 14. The figure continues in a downward spiral since Piñera's approval was at 29 percent in October 2019, when social unrest began.

This poll published comes four months after the start of the demonstrations against the right-wing government, in which 56 percent of those polled said they were in favor of continuing the protests.

The evaluation of the performance of Piñera's cabinet by those polled, rated Ministers Jaime Mañalich (Health) with 84 percent disapproval and Marcela Cubillos (Education) with 79 percent disapproval as the worst.

Finance Minister Ignacio Briones received the highest rating with 45 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval.

According to updated figures released by the National Institute of Human Rights, after four months of protests in Chile against the neoliberal policies of Piñera's government, more than 3,700 people have been injured, and 951 complaints of torture and 195 for sexual violence have been filed

The organization reported that 2,122 people were injured by shots from different types of ammunition, with pellets being the most commonly used, causing 1,681 injuries.

Massive demonstrations against the Chilean government and his right-wing president began in Santiago on Oct. 14 due to a 30-cent increase in the subway fare.

While this measure was revoked by Piñera, social unrest increased in magnitude as the Chileans began to question "30 years" of neoliberal policies, which have implied a systematic withdrawal of economic and social rights for millions of people.

]]> <![CDATA[‘Anti-Muslim Pogrom’ Denounced Amid Anti-CAA Protests in India]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 18:12:21 -04:00 Four people were killed and nearly 50 were injured Monday during violent clashes against protesters in New Delhi’s deadliest day since the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed last year.

Hundreds Protest Citizenship Law in India Ahead of Trump Visit

The capital saw its second day of violence as supporters and opponents of the CAA clashed in the northeastern part of New Delhi after alleged provocation by a local leader of the ruling far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Kapil Mishra, who led a rally in support of the new citizenship law.

In a video posted by Mishra on Twitter, he was heard issuing an ultimatum to police to remove anti-CAA sit-ins, adding that they should be quiet as United States President Donald Trump began his two-day trip of India.

The BJP leader said that if the roads were not cleared, "we will be forced to hit the streets.” 

On Monday, social media videos surfaced of riots and extreme violence against the Muslim community, at the heart of the controversial legislation. Many users dubbed the attacks a “pogrom” against Muslims in the capital using the hashtags #DelhiBurning and #DelhiRiots.

'A pogrom is happening in broad daylight, in New Delhi (Maujpur, Jafrabad, Noor-e-ilaahi, Chandbagh, Bhajanpura, Karampuri, Mustafabad),” Indian journalist Utsa Sarmin denounced adding that “Hindu households are marked with saffron flags for rioters to know that these houses aren't supposed to be attacked, videos have started coming from small streets of this part of Delhi.”

India's Home Minister Amit Shah called an urgent meeting of top officials of Delhi over the violence in Jaffrabad. While Delhi police said some incidents of "violence and arson" were reported.

"Yesterday, BJP leader Mishra's men came to Jaffrabad and incited people. Police officials were there but they did nothing," Nadeem Khan, a Delhi-based activist, told Al Jazeera from Jaffrabad.

The law in question has sparked massive protests across the country, as hundreds of thousands of Indians have taken to the streets demanding far-right President Narendra Modi to revoke the legislation. 

The CAA was passed on Dec. 11 and provides non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who moved to the country before 2015 a pathway to citizenship. 

However, critics and opposition parties say the law, which excludes Muslims, is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on people’s religion and will marginalize India’s 200 million Muslim citizens.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Threatens Union-Rights for 750,000 US Federal Workers]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 18:10:00 -04:00 U.S. President Donald Trump published Thursday a memorandum -signed on Jan. 29- that gives Defense Secretary Mark Esper the authority to circumvent collective bargaining rights for the Pentagon's 750,000 civilian workers.


109 US Troops Suffer Traumatic Brain Injury After Iran Attack

Trump argues in the document that a unionized workforce at the Department of Defense (DoD) could represent a threat to "national security" and that Esper should be able to call off collective bargaining rights in the interest of "protecting the American people."

"The national security interests of the United States require expedient and efficient decisionmaking. When new missions emerge, or existing ones evolve, the Department of Defense requires maximum flexibility to respond to threats," the memo states. 

"This flexibility requires that military and civilian leadership manage their organizations to cultivate a lethal, agile force adaptive to new technologies and posture changes."

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) said the memorandum is "a travesty and a disgrace."

"Denying nearly half a million Defense Department workers the collective bargaining rights guaranteed to them by law since 1962 would be a travesty, and doing it under the guise of 'national security' would be a disgrace to the sacred oath and obligation that all federal workers make to their country," AFGE's national secretary-treasurer Everett Kelley said in a statement.

"This administration will not stop until it takes away all workers' rights to form and join a union," said Kelley, "and we will not stop doing everything we can to prevent that from happening."

Since the president took office in 2017, his administration has been attacking unions both in the public and private sectors.

News media Politico obtained in October an internal memo written in 2017 by White House domestic policy adviser James Sherk, who urged Trump "to eliminate all job protections for federal workers and a requirement that federal contractors provide paid sick leave for employees."

AFGE had responded to Sherk's recommendations saying, "the administration's divide-and-conquer strategy concerning organized labor is as disgusting as it is shameful."

"But it won't work," the union said. "Across this country, our members and the members of every other labor union are getting educated, organized, and mobilized. As the largest union representing federal employees, AFGE will continue to resist the president's mob mentality and disrespect for the federal workforce and the work they do."

]]> <![CDATA[Stock Markets, Oil Sink as Coronavirus Pandemic Fear Spreads]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 17:26:11 -04:00 Global stocks plunged Monday, joining a global equity selloff, as fears of a coronavirus pandemic rattled investors, hampering the prospects for a global recovery in 2020.

Italian Authorities Suspend Venice Carnival Due to Coronavirus

The Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 fell more than three percent on Monday, as investors fled riskier assets. While oil prices slumped by nearly four percent as the rapid spread of the coronavirus in countries outside China added to investor concerns over the effect on demand for crude.

“The reports of the coronavirus spreading is raising more fears of demand destruction,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “When we saw the big move down in the stock market, oil traders were selling first and asking questions later.”

Europe took a beating early on, with Italy plunging more than four percent, Frankfurt and Paris down more than three and London’s FTSE dropped 2.5, meaning at least US$350 billion had been wiped off the region’ market value.

During the weekend, several countries including Iran, Italy, and South Korea reported a substantial rise in virus cases, fanning fears of a pandemic that also prompted a rush to safe-haven assets such as gold and U.S. Treasuries.

"The economic impact could be very strong. At this moment we can calculate that there will be a negative economic impact, we are not yet in a position to forecast what will happen," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reporters.

A yield curve - the gap between the yields on short-term bonds and long-term bonds- inversion between the three-month and 10-year U.S. Treasuries deepened in a classic recession sign. Adding to worries, Goldman Sachs slashed its U.S. growth forecast and predicted a more severe impact from the epidemic, CNBC reported. 

On Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that his country will step up policy adjustments to help cushion the blow to the economy from a coronavirus outbreak.

“The outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia will inevitably have a relatively big impact on the economy and society,” Xi said, adding that the impact would be short-term and controllable.

While Saudi Aramco expects the coronavirus impact on oil demand to be short-lived and for consumption to rise in the second half of the year, Chief Executive Amin Nasser told Reuters.

As of Monday, there are over 79,500 infected worldwide and 2,600 deaths caused by the novel virus. 

]]> <![CDATA[Dominican Republic: Protests Continue After Suspended Election]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 17:48:33 -04:00 For the sixth consecutive day since last Sunday's municipal elections were suspended, Santo Domingo's Plaza de la Bandera continues to be taken over by demonstrators, mostly young people, who are demanding the resignation of the members of the Central Electoral Council.


Protests Continue in Dominican Republic

The majority of the demonstrators have chosen to dress in black, as a sign of mourning "for the lack of transparency and the corruption that abounds in the institutions of government,

The banners of those who protest carry written messages like, "to get the criminals off the streets, first you have to get them out of the government"; "they took so much from us that they took away our fear"; "I protest because I got tired of them having parties using my taxes", "Enough, no more deception, the people woke up," among many others.

In addition to the banners, the sounds of horns, drums, and slogans invade the whole square, which is right in front of the Central Electoral Board (JCE).


The protesters come from different social classes and sectors of the capital, who say they will continue to demonstrate as long as necessary.

On the other hand, the National Council of Private Enterprise (Conep) called for the signing of a major national agreement that includes the necessary commitments to ensure full democracy.

In a statement, Conep called on the various political and social actors to play a responsible role in building a better and more lasting democracy.

"In the face of the events of last Sunday, February 16, we were active in establishing a permanent dialogue with the main political actors and the authorities in search of consensus," the text says.

We listen to all citizens, especially our young people, and in them we see the future. Our interest is to maintain social peace, with the intention of serving as a bridge at this moment in our history. We all yearn for answers," the document adds.


]]> <![CDATA[122 Murders Registered In Brazilian State Of Ceara]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 17:12:40 -04:00 One hundred twenty-two murders have been registered in the Brazilian state of Ceara after the police forces went on strike in that territory last Wednesday. 


Brazil Carnival: A Message of Protest Against Jair Bolsonaro

Local news media reported, under these circumstances, that the figure for homicides raised in comparison with a similar time last year, when 164 crimes of this kind were included in official reports. Currently, those felonies amount to 286. Similarly, the murder average increased to 30.5, an alarming number compared to the 8.4 in January.

The security crisis that the northern Brazilian state of Ceara experiences is a consequence of police protests demanding better salaries and social guarantees. Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, deployed military forces to maintain order.

However, violence has risen notably. Last Wednesday, senator Cid Gomes was shot in the chest as he tried to enter a police station in Sobral, 230 kilometers from the regional capital, Fortaleza. Gomes was discharged from the hospital after 4 days in intensive care. 


The police strike brought about the cancellation of carnival festivities in three municipalities in Ceara state, one of the most violent in Brazil. Recently, President Jair Bolsonaro took ownership of a low in murder statistics. However, experts explained that the drop was not a government achievement and that Bolsonaro’s policies were not effective in violence reduction. 

 Brazil finished 2019 with 41.635 homicides, 51.558 in 2018 and an alarming number of 59.128 in 2017. Experts say that Ceara state was the most violent in 2017 because of an intense crime war. 


]]> <![CDATA[New York Jury Convicts Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Assault, Rape]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 15:17:00 -04:00 Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape by a New York jury on Monday and handcuffed in court, a milestone verdict for the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.


Harvard Law Professor Sacked for Joining Weinstein Defense Team

Once one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, Weinstein, 67, was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013.

Weinstein was acquitted on the most serious charges that carried a potential life sentence.

Justice James Burke ordered Weinstein to be held in custody and he was put in handcuffs by officers in court. Officers helped Weinstein unsteadily to his feet before leading him away.

He faces up to 25 years in prison on the sexual assault conviction. The sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 11. He was also convicted of third degree rape which carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.

Lawyers for Weinstein asked that he be taken to a facility where he could receive medical treatment. Weinstein was being taken to a medical facility at Rikers Island jail, lawyer Arthur Aidala said outside the courtroom.

“We will have a very professional appeal done by the best and the brightest in the business,” Aidala said.

Aidala quoted Weinstein as saying to him after the verdict, “I’m innocent. I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?”

Weinstein still faces sexual assault charges in California, which were announced just hours after his New York trial began on Jan. 6. Dozens of women have filed civil lawsuits against him.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said at a news conference: “It’s a new day because Weinstein has finally been held accountable.” He praised the jurors. “Your verdict turned a page in our criminal justice system.

“To the survivors: I owe and we owe an immense debt of courage to you,” Vance said.

The jury acquitted Weinstein on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first degree rape of Mann. A conviction on predatory sexual assault would have meant the jury had concluded he was a repeat sexual offender.

]]> <![CDATA[Australia Remembers Bushfire Victims in Public Ceremony]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 15:46:22 -04:00 The Australian people, along with firefighters and politicians, paid tribute on Sunday to the men and women of the state of New South Wales (NSW) who lost their lives while trying to put out the wildfires that have plagued the country since last September.


Australia: New Bushfire Threat Reaches Southern Canberra

The public ceremony, which took place in Sydney, honored the 25 victims from the state of NSW, Australia's most populated state and the worst affected during the recent forest crisis. Of these, 19 were civilians, three were local volunteer firefighters and three were U.S. firefighters.

"Each of them is a story of pain, loss, and sadness. The suffering of the families is incalculable," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said during the ceremony.

At the tribute, six pairs of boots symbolized the lives of the six firefighters who died in the fires in the state of NSW.


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the commemoration, despite public outrage over his rejection of the role of climate change in the wildfires and his poor response to the crisis.

Scott Morrison, who was on holiday in Hawaii, USA, amidst the fires that hit Australia, attended the tribute to honor the victims and thank those who fought the fires.

"Last summer the sky turned black. The sunsets marked another night of terror, as the fire took over our beaches," Morrison said during the ceremony.

"The fire forced children to kiss their fathers' coffins and mothers to say goodbye to their children who should never have been buried," concluded Morrison, who reported last week that authorities will conduct an investigation into the causes of the flames after a dozen requests were signed for the government to provide the reasons for the fires.​​​​​​​


In Australia, a total of 33 people lost their lives during the crisis, 2,500 homes were destroyed, more than a billion native animals suffocated and a wilderness area the size of South Korea was devastated.

The forest fires broke out in September 2019, during what has been considered an unusually long wildland fire season. It was not until February that the flames were extinguished, with the help of torrential rains.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[At Least 120 Families Forcibly Displaced in Colombia]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 14:57:31 -04:00 At least 120 families were displaced from the countryside zones of the Ituango municipality on Sunday, in the Colombian state of Antioquia. The displacement affects the resident of zones like Torrentes, San Juanillo, las Arañas, el Cedral, and Santa Ana.


Colombia: Protests Called Against Murders of Ex-FARC Members

Human rights organizations denounced this situation, pointing out the presence of armed groups in the area as the main reason for the movements. These violent groups imposed control over traffic routes and illicit crops.  These circumstances also increase the threats against social leaders and defenders. 

Oscar Yesid Zapata, Nodo Antioquía’s organization spokesperson, explained that the community declared itself in a forced displacement because it does not perceive guarantees facing this situation, caused by the pressure of armed groups.

Zapata also affirmed that the functionary who should manage the movement and give the displaced one's responsiveness is out of the municipality.

Human rights organizations accused Colombian President Ivan Duque´s administration of being irresponsible for not implementing the peace agreements to solve the illicit crops situation. 

Local media affirm that the non-governmental organization Nodo Antioquia, the Permanent Human Rights Defense Committee, the Nibaru Corporation, Sumapaz Foundation, and the Legal Liberty Corporation visited Ituando on February 22 and emitted communication about community risks. 

The affected families are still waiting for a governmental response to this injustice, but the military presence in the area has already been confirmed.

The Ombudsman Office emitted an early alert months ago because of the violence in Ituango, explaining all the risk that the people suffer there.  

]]> <![CDATA[Viña Del Mar 2020 Starts in Chile Amid Large Protests]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 14:40:09 -04:00 The Viña del Mar International Song Festival, which is held every year in this municipality of the Chilean city of Valparaiso, began this Sunday amid violent demonstrations in the surroundings of the Quinta Vergara Amphitheater, home of the most important musical event on the American continent. 


18 Chilean Films to Compete for the 'Golden Bear' in Berlin

Just minutes before Viña 2020 began, with the presentation of Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin on the Quinta Vergara stage,  hundreds of people gathered in the Plaza Sucre in Viña del Mar to protest against the government of Sebastian Piñera.

The demonstration, that was part of the social upheaval that began in Chile last October, was repressed by the Carabineros, the police force that is part of the Forces of Order and Security of the Latin American country.

During the first day of the Festival, also a group of people threw objects at the Hotel O'Higgins, located in front of Plaza Latorre in Viña del Mar, near the Quinta Vergara Amphitheater.

"Massive protest at the opening of the Viña Festival. Shouts point to president @sebastianpinera who they equate with dictator Augusto Pinochet.
In 4 months of demonstrations +450 people have lost their eyes, +2000 people arrested and +5000 injured"

The windows and other structures on the hotel's façade were damaged, and most of the items thrown were reportedly fire extinguishers. 

Due to the protests, two long-awaited competitions will not be held this Monday, the day which they were agreed, reported Channel 13 and TVN, signals that transmit the music festival in Chile.

"The protests that took place this Sunday caused that part of the team that was participating in the opening of the Viña del Mar Festival were unable to move to the Quinta Vergara at the scheduled times. For that reason, this number had to be suspended".

"The national singer Mon Laferte will be opening the second night of the 2020 Viña del Mar Festival"

Therefore, the musical performances participating in the folkloric and international category competitions "are rescheduled for the afternoon of Monday, February 24," the television networks said.

However, "the 15 thousand people who entered the Quinta Vergara this Sunday were able to enjoy the show in complete normality and under high-level security conditions," they added.

During the inauguration of the Viña del Mar Festival, which began despite the disturbances, Ricky Martin did not stand out for performing the repertoire of his great hits on the Quinta Vergara stage, but for his messages of support for the demonstrations that are shaking Chile.


The 61st edition of the event, which is being held from 23 to 28 February in Viña del Mar, will this year feature other internationally renowned artists, such as Mon Laferte, Ana Gabriel, Pablo Alborán, Maroon 5, Ozuna and Pimpernel.


]]> <![CDATA[Russia to Complete Observation Flight Over Turkey]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 12:51:56 -04:00 Russia will carry out an observation flight over Turkey between Tuesday and Friday under the multilateral Treaty on Open Skies, the Russian Defense Ministry said Monday.


US Sanctions On Rosneft Won't Affect Relations With Venezuela: Kremlin

Russia's Tu-154M LK-1 observation plane will take off from northwest Turkey's Eskisehir airfield and cover up to 1,900 kilometers over the member country of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the ministry said.

The Treaty on Open Skies took effect in 2002 and currently has 34 party states, including Russia, the United States, Turkey and some other NATO members.

The confidence-building and arms-control agreement has established a system of observation flights over its participants to gather information about their military forces and activities.

Russia and Turkey are planning a series of consultations regarding Syria's last rebel stronghold of Idlib, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

Moscow hopes both countries can ensure Idlib becomes a real de-escalation zone, free of militants, Lavrov said at a press conference.

The de-escalation zone in Idlib is turning into "an escalation zone" as militants there attack targets outside the zone, he said.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the recent escalation of tensions in Idlib during a telephone conversation. The two countries said their militaries would continue to maintain close contact.

]]> <![CDATA[Geneva: Brazil Faces Accusations of Human Rights Violations]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 12:39:37 -04:00 Brazil's government will face accusations of human rights violations at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council. The South American country's government is under scrutiny for its violations of Indigenous rights and environmental protection. 


Brazilian Landless Rural Workers Mov.: Our Hope Is on Lula

According to Jamil Chade, columnist of the Universo Online portal, “it is particularly preoccupancy against the significant increase of the Amazonia burnings, after the promises of opening the Indigenous lands to agriculture and mining made by the government.”

On this topic, the national news media Brasil de Fato explains that the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro insisted in territorial exploitation, despite the rejection of activists, ecologists, and indigenous leaders, under the pretext that those territories should be properly utilized.  

One of the important topics during the session was the necessity of funds for social programs and independent surveillance organizations for human rights institutions. As Chade points out, for instance, the program “Hunger zero”, was an initiative that was affected in 2019 because of the National Alimentary Security and Nutritional Council dismantling. 

One of the critiques of Bolsonaro’s administration is the interruption of what was already accomplished in that field. 

It is expected that, in other work sessions, more claimers and not-governmental organizations would use this platform to denounce other human rights violations, among which may be Bolsonaro's racist remarks. 

More than 90 states and organizations represent the UN Human Rights Council; its work session counts with the participation of Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, who will make a worldwide request on human rights behalf. 

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil Carnival: A Message of Protest Against Jair Bolsonaro]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 12:21:10 -04:00 This weekend saw the start of Brazil's Carnival, the world's biggest party, which this time had a marked tone of protest against the current government of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro. 


Carnival 2019: Brazil Sambas for Lula, Marielle Franco, Against 'Neoliberal Vampires'

Men, women, and children from the samba schools of Rio de Janeiro and other cities of the country danced to the rhythm of samba while they paid homage to indigenous people, women who suffered slavery, and victims of police violence in Brazil's favelas, multiplying before the world messages of resistance and tolerance.

Despite the "cultural war" unleashed by Jair Bolsonaro's administration, from Saturday until the early hours of Monday morning the Carnival managed to reaffirm the position of the Brazilian people in the face of the political climate of the nation.

"It is a carnival with many protests so that the world can see what is happening in Brazil,"  told the press Camila Rocha, a 30-year-old woman who paraded in Rio de Janeiro, the city that marked the beginning of the great Brazilian celebration last Saturday, February 22.


Among the allegorical floats of the Carnival, one stood out representing the human rights activist and councilwoman Marielle Franco - killed in a shoot-out on 14 March 2018- holding a gag, during the first night of the Carnival parade at the Sambódromo in São Paulo, Brazil.

The Mangueira samba school, the reigning champion of Rio de Janeiro, showed a black Jesus dancing with his disciples in a favela as he passed through the Sambódromo in this city. During the presentation, they simulated an interruption of the dance by policemen, who dispersed the group by beating them with sticks. This was a metaphor for life in the favelas in Rio, where 1,800 people were killed in police interventions in 2019.

The violence in the favelas was also present in the "mess" of Uniao da Ilha, in Rio, which placed on top of a float an almost life-size helicopter flying over a community. But instead of bullets, it threw white T-shirts from the air, as a sign of peace.


The Portela samba school also displayed a tribute to the Tupinambá Indians, who lived in the Rio region before Portuguese colonization.

"Our village has no party or faction, no bishop and does not surrender to any captain," sang the traditional school, in verses that can be interpreted as a message to Bolsonaro, a former captain of the army, whose environmental policy is denounced for its human and climate impact inside and outside Brazil.

Bolsonaro has shown little interest in the carnival and has gone so far as to denounce the "libertine behavior" of these festivities.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Majority of Venezuelans Against U.S. Sanctions, Poll Reveals]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 10:45:27 -04:00 More than 80% of Venezuelans disagree with the sanction measures imposed on Venezuela by the U.S government, as Hinteracles pollster indicates. 


Venezuelan Heroism Defeated Last Year's Invasion: Maduro

The survey, taken between January 29 to February 12, explored the opinion of Venezuelans in relation to the economic blockade imposed against the Bolivarian Republic by Washington.

To the question: “Who was the most affected by these measures”, 84% of respondents affirmed that to all the Venezuelan nationals, meanwhile, a 15% said that to the Government and functionaries. 

Other data expresses that 83 % of the South American nation people do not want a military intervention to force President Nicolas Maduro to leave the presidency. Instead, 75% consider the dialogue as the resource to find concord between the Venezuelan government and the opposition. Only 16 percent of the respondents affirmed to agree on Trump’s administration approach on both nations' relationships.  

This information was made to know by the Venezuelan journalist and politician Jose Vicente Rangel in his TV show “Jose Vicente hoy” on Sunday. 

The Hinteracles questionnaire was applied to a total of 1580  Venezuelan families, by direct interviews, in a context marked by the hardening of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, especially early February with the measures against Conviasa airline. 

The poll results are also in coherence with the Bolivarian government announcement to the International Criminal Court because of the injuries of the U.S. government impositions to Venezuelan people.  On his part, the Venezuelan chancellor Jorge Arreaza recently qualified these measures as massive destruction weapons. 

]]> <![CDATA[Assange's Trial for U.S. Extradition Begins in London]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 10:37:39 -04:00 The first day of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's legal battle to prevent his extradition to the United States began on Monday amid strong social protests in support of the Australian journalist. 


Jailed Wikileaks Founder Assange's Health Improving: Spokesman

The case for Assange's extradition to the U.S. was opened at Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London as the sound of protest was heard in the distance. The slogans "Free Julian Assange", "Journalism is not a crime", "Free press, Free Assange", were repeated over and over again in the crowd.

Celebrities such as Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde, and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood have joined the wave of protests taking place since last Saturday, to protest spying charges against Assange.

"Assange is an innocent man, wrongly accused. The only reason he is on trial is for exposing information that is inconvenient for the United States government," Roger Waters has told reporters.

However, lawyers acting for the U.S. government have said on the first day of the legal battle that Assange "is not charged with disclosure of embarrassing or awkward information that the government would rather not have disclosed. The disclosures charges are solely where there was a risk of risk."

James Lewis QC, one of the U.S. government's lawyers, added that "by disseminating material in an unredacted form Assange knowingly put human rights activists, dissidents, journalists and their families at risk of serious harm in states operated by oppressive regimes."

The Australian journalist, accused of working with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified documents, faces charges of "theft and computer hacking, and of published information and identification of informants in Iraq and Afghanistan knowing they would be at risk of harm," Lewis said.


Assange's defense seeks to suggest that the risk to these individuals who, by having the individuals revealed as informants, is somehow overstated.


"But I would remind the court that these were individuals who were passing on information on regimes such as Iran and organizations such as al-Qaida," said Lewis.


"Journalism is not an excuse for breaking the law," Lewis concluded in Woolwich Crown Court.


Assange's case has received worldwide support. The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner commented last week that "Assange should not be extradited because of the potential impact on press freedom and concerns about the real risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.


"Assange will face what is a death sentence if he is sent to the United States," said the father of the Australian journalist, John Shipton.

]]> <![CDATA[Palestine Blasts US Over West Bank Map Plans]]> Mon, 24 Feb 2020 08:29:57 -04:00 Palestine on Monday said that the U.S.-Israeli team tasked with mapping the areas in the West Bank that would be annexed by Israel under the U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan has no legitimacy.


Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian, Drag His Body With Bulldozer

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian president's spokesperson, said that the new maps under the U.S. Mideast peace plan would not give legitimacy to any side, said a statement published by official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

"These maps that violate United Nations resolutions cannot be transformed into a fait accompli, and the only map that can be recognized and dealt with is the map of the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital," said Abu Rudeineh.

He urged the international community to take an action to halt the Israeli-U.S. moves, warning that it could lead to killing any opportunity for a just and comprehensive peace based on UN resolutions.

A U.S. team is expected to arrive in Israel to work with Israeli counterparts to work on the mapping of the areas in the West Bank that are envisaged as part of Israel under Trump's Middle East peace plan, according to media reports.

Since Trump unraveled his peace plan in a White House ceremony on Jan. 28, Palestinians embarked on an international campaign to rally support against it.

A few days after Trump's announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that a joint committee will begin a mapping process that would take a few months.

]]> <![CDATA[Bernie Sanders To Skip AIPAC Conference On Political Reasons]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 23:49:17 -04:00 United States Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced Sunday that he would not attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) conference this year, marking his stance against the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.


Bernie Sanders Wins Big in Nevada Democratic Vote

Two days after becoming the undisputed favorite in the Democratic race with a solid victory in Nevada's caucuses, the Vermont senator made it clear that he will not attend the AIPAC event for political, not agenda-related, reasons.

"The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people," Sanders wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

"I remain concerned about the platform that AIPAC offers to leaders who express intolerance and oppose the basic rights of Palestinians. For that reason, I will not be attending your conference."

The progressive candidate renewed his pledge to support the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis, saying he would do "everything possible" to bring peace to the region if elected president.

AIPAC issued a very direct response for Sanders, noting the attendance of many of his Democratic colleagues as well as other participants.

"By participating in such an odious attack on this American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his own colleagues and the millions of Americans who support Israel. Truly shameful," the group said in a statement, adding that Sanders has "never attended" the pro-Israel conference. 

Sanders won the New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic contests, after winning the popular vote in Iowa, and has proposed foreign policy lines outside the mainstream of U.S. politics, including a promise to pressure the Israeli government to end the occupation and improve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: Protests Called Against Murders of Ex-FARC Members]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 23:41:46 -04:00 The Colombian Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) party called for a new day of protests next Tuesday, to reject the recent killings of three former members in the northwestern department of Choco.


Violence Persists in Colombia: Another Ex-FARC Member Murdered

According to FARC Senator Victoria Sandino, the pot-banging (cacerolazo) will happen across the country in response to the government's silence, as it has ignored the party's requests for a meeting with Interior Minister Alicia Arango.

Sandino assured that the party has not received any proof of the fovernment's will to protect the signatories of the Peace Agreement and that the state entities have not provided the right protection for the territories.

190 peace signatories have been killed after the signing of the agreement. Mr. Ivan Duque this genocide has to stop. See you on the streets on Feb. 25 

The senator declared that the call consists of "a pot-banging for life in the face of this genocide that is happening against the signatories of the peace, the same day three comrades were murdered and this cannot continue to be hidden, these facts have to call the attention of all Colombian society because hope cannot continue to be murdered."

Sandino's message goes directly to President Ivan Duque, rejecting the lack of measures to protect the former ex-combatants as they "can't longer stand" the persecution.

The lawmaker also called for the actions to move from Twitter to the streets. 

According to the political organization, a total of 190 signatories have already been killed since the signing of the Peace Agreement in Havana in 2016 between the Colombian state and the then guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, now the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC).

]]> <![CDATA[Haitian Police Clashes With Armed Forces Near National Palace]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 22:58:17 -04:00 Haitian police and members of the army shot at each other for hours Sunday near the presidential palace in the capital Port-au-Prince, during a protest organized by police for better pay and conditions.


Haiti Joins US-Backed Lima Group Against Venezuela

Dozens of officers in uniforms marched faces covered, along with hundreds of supporters toward the palace to call for better pay and conditions, according to the Associated Press. 

The demonstrators stopped outside the army building, which faces the presidential palace. AP journalists saw soldiers shoot into the air, just before the exchange of fire erupted between both factions. 

At least three police officers were wounded, officers told AP. The army’s high command said in an online statement that a soldier had been wounded by a bullet in the back.

Since the beginning of the year, police have organized several protests as the Caribbean island nation is enduring a harsh economic and political crisis. Police demonstrations are not linked to the anti-corruption protests that shook Haiti for most of 2019, but they are rooted in the same dissatisfaction with President Jovenel Moise’s policies.

Police protests gained momentum this month after a half-dozen officers were fired after they tried to unionize. 


After the Earthquake: 10 Years of Domestic and International Failures in Haiti

A police officer who asked for anonymity told reporters outside the palace that officers were demanding the return of their colleagues as well as a salary increment for all officers.

“Until this is done we will not sit and talk,” said the officer. “The president has proven that he does not care about our demands.” However, police have also been part of the general crackdown on civilian protesters against Moise's government. 

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise has been ruling by decree since January after lawmakers’ mandates, as well as those of most the senators, came to an end in October with no successors elected as the country failed to hold elections.

The impoverished Caribbean nation is facing one of the worst and longest political, economic and social crises of its recent history. 

Severe shortages of food and fuel and have been paralyzing the country for months now.

The United States backed president, who has refused to step down, is facing widespread anger over inflation, rampant violence, allegations of corruption, particularly the embezzlement of the funds destined for social programs from the Venezuelan led Petrocaribe cooperation program.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina and IMF To Advance On New Debt Payment Agreement]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 21:56:56 -04:00 Argentina and the IMF announced Saturday that they are making progress in the negotiation of a new agreement for the South American country's debt, after a meeting held on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting in Saudi Arabia.


Alberto Fernandez: Argentina's Economy Will Grow Again

The managing director of the organism, Kristalina Georgieva, and the Argentinian Minister of Economy Martin Guzman took part in a meeting in which both sides highlighted the commitment to advance in the mutual collaboration to find a solution to the debt.

Based on the conclusions of the meeting that lasted from Feb. 12 to 19, the IMF chief said in a statement that the Argentinian government's plans to ensure a sustainable and orderly solution to the debt were discussed.

"Minister Guzman and I had another fruitful exchange on the country's challenges and the way forward to ensure more sustainable and inclusive growth for Argentina," Georgieva added.

The next steps will continue to be discussed with no details on possible goals or features of the new program.

Negotiations will continue on Monday, with meetings between Guzman and IMF specialists in Washington, a representative for the ministry confirmed.

Argentina owes the IMF US$44 billion, part of a record US$57 billion loan taken by former President Mauricio Macri's government.

The South American country is currently suffering from annual inflation of more than 50 percent, sharp currency depreciation and an increase in poverty to almost 40 percent.

After taking office in December, President Alberto Fernandez rejected the remaining disbursements and demanded that the IMF and other creditors renegotiate terms, capital and interest.

]]> <![CDATA[Not a Single Country Working to Ensure Children's Future: Study]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 21:29:47 -04:00 Not a single country on the planet is properly working to ensure safety, wellbeing, health and suitable environment for their children, a report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The Lancet, found. 


Venezuela to Expand Dietary Supplement Program to All Elementary Schools

“Despite dramatic improvements in survival, nutrition, and education over recent decades, today’s children face an uncertain future,” the report said.

“Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices threaten the health and future of children in every country.” 

The authors of the report recalled that successful societies invest in their children’s futures and protect their rights. However, many politicians and governments in the world still do not consider such an investment as a priority. 

Even in rich countries, many children, especially in marginalized groups -including indigenous people and ethnic minorities- still suffer from hunger or live in conditions of total poverty.  

Researchers based their work on the observation of and recommendations for four key areas: the investment in children’s health and education, greenhouse gases, the issue of “commercial harm” done to children, and the role decision-makers ought to play to protect children. 

One of the most dramatic observations were made regarding climate change.


US Blockade to Affect Medical Treatment of Venezuelan Children

“We live in an era like no other. Our children [...] stand on the precipice of a climate crisis,” the report said. It recalled that though impoverished countries still have a lot to do to provide their children with healthy lives, wealthy countries are threatening the future of all the children in the world through carbon pollution. 

Another observation was about the largely negative impact the commercial sector has on the well-being of children in all countries, with companies promoting “addictive or unhealthy commodities,” such as fast-food,  alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and social media.

The authors recommended that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopt a new protocol to protect children from commercial harm. 

“Children around the world are enormously exposed to advertising from business, whose marketing techniques exploit their developmental vulnerability and whose products can harm their health and wellbeing,” read the report.

The authors concluded by reminding that the world’s countries agreed in 2015 on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to leave future generations with a cleaner and healthier world. Yet the SDG agenda is so far still paralyzed, the researchers deplored, proposing a new global movement to place children at the center of these goals.

]]> <![CDATA[Italian Authorities Suspend Venice Carnival Due to Coronavirus]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 21:22:46 -04:00 In a bid to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country, Italian officials imposed this weekend strict quarantine measures in the northern Veneto and Lombardy regions and announced the Venice Carnival would end Sunday.


Coronavirus Prompts 'Atmosphere of Hate' In Italy

The Carnival had been due to close Tuesday but regional president Luca Zaia explained to a local news channel that it would be suspended, along with other events, in a bid to control the outbreak.

“The ordinance is immediately operative and will go into effect at midnight,″ Zaia said.

Italy has now the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe, with 152 infected. Three people have died, and officials say they are still trying to track down the source of the outbreak.

The head of Italy's Civil Protection Department Angelo Borrelli told reporters that 110 of the confirmed cases were in Lombardy, with 21 in Veneto and others in Emilia-Romagna and Lazio.

Outside the restricted zone, many businesses and schools have also suspended their activities, and important sporting events were canceled including several major league football matches.

Universities in Milan have been closed and the city's Mayor, Giuseppe Sala, said schools would also close their doors while the outbreak is not under control.

"As a precaution, I think that the schools have to be closed in Milan. I will propose to the president of the region to enlarge the precaution to the entire metropolitan city area. It is just a precaution, we don't want to create panic," he said.

The new coronavirus, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December, has killed more than 2,000 people and infected more than 75,000 worldwide.

It has spread to more than two dozen countries, but nearly 99 percent of the deaths and infections have been reported in mainland China.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, mainly because of fears that the virus could spread to countries with weaker health systems.

]]> <![CDATA[ALBA Rejects Disqualification of Evo Morales' Candidacy]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 21:16:49 -04:00 Member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for America- Peoples' Trading Treaty (ALBA-TCP), denounced this Saturday the disqualification of former President Evo Morales as a candidate for the Bolivian Senate for the May 3 elections.


'The Disqualification Is a Blow to Democracy', Evo Morales Says

According to the statement issued by the regional body, the measure taken by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) is further evidence of the continuing coup against Morales, as ​​​​the purpose of the TSE, is to "prevent the broad support of former President Morales from being proved through voting."

In view of this situation, ALBA-TCP members "call on the international community to denounce this arbitrary and unjustified measure that threatens the freedom of the Bolivian electoral process in their right to choose their representatives", the text states.

The countries of the alliance expressed their solidarity with the struggle of the Bolivian people and with Morales, who is "waging a historic battle for his dignity and that of his people."

Morales was the victim of a coup that took place on November 2019, with the collaboration of the Bolivian right-wing, the Armed Forces and the Police. From his exile in Argentina, the former president has called the TSE's decision a blow to democracy.

At a press conference held in Buenos Aires on Friday, the Indigenous leader rejected the decision of the country's TSE to disqualify him and his former Foreign Affairs Minister Diego Pary for the upcoming elections.

Despite the fact, Morales' party presidential candidate, Luis Arce, is still ahead with 32 percent of Bolivians voting intentions according to the survey performed by Studies and Market Company.

]]> <![CDATA[Syrian Forces Defend Damascus From Alleged New Israeli Attack]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 18:19:05 -04:00 Syria’s air defense is responding to "hostile targets" over the Damascus area, state news agency SANA reported Sunday.

Israeli Attack Endangers Civilian Aircraft in Damascus

According to the news agency, Syrian forces are repelling "a batch of hostile missiles coming from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.” 

Media reports said explosions were heard in the sky over Damascus, while videos allegedly confirm the attacks. SANA's correspondent confirmed that the missiles "failed to reach any of the airports" in the city. 

This comes as the General Command of the Army warned on Saturday that any violation of its airspace will be regarded as a "hostile target" and dealt it. 

The most recent attack from Israel to the Syrian capital was on Feb. 13, when air defenses also intercepted a barrage of missile strikes. While on Feb. 6 a civilian aircraft flying from Tehran to Damascus narrowly avoided fire from Syria's air defense systems, which were activated in response to an Israeli missile attack.

Israel, in the past years, has flown hundreds of similar bombing raids on Syria throughout the country’s civil war, claiming to be hitting “legitimate Iranian targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry​ informed last week with regards to the Feb. 13 attack. 

In 2019 alone, more than 17 Israeli attacks took place against targets in Syria.

]]> <![CDATA[IMF Extends Visit To Crisis-Hit Lebanon: Sources]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 18:33:20 -04:00 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will continue meetings with the Lebanese authorities on Monday, extending a visit to provide technical advice that was expected to end Sunday.


Lebanon Forms New Government

According to sources close to the process, the IMF began meetings with the Lebanese authorities on Feb. 20 to provide comprehensive technical advice on how to deal with the country's overwhelming financial and economic crisis. The fund initially said that its team would stay until Feb. 23.

Lebanon has not requested financial assistance from the IMF yet it is developing a rescue plan to address a long-running financial crisis that started last year when capital flows slowed and protests against the ruling elite erupted.

Sources familiar with the meetings said the talks would continue until the Lebanese government made a decision on technical assistance issues. The results of the meetings were "positive," they added, without specifying further.

Lebanon is dealing with an acute liquidity crisis that has led banks, which fear capital flight, to impose strict controls. The Lebanese pound has plummeted by about 60 percent in a parallel market, driving up inflation.

Burdened with one of the world's highest public debt, Lebanon is running out of time with approaching debt payments that include a US$1.2 billion Eurobond due on March 9.

Credit rating agencies Standard & Poor's (S&P) and Moody's downgraded Lebanon's credit rating to a deeper level, citing anticipated losses by creditors for what they said was a likely debt restructuring.

]]> <![CDATA[Hundreds Protest Citizenship Law in India Ahead of Trump Visit]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 17:54:15 -04:00 Hundreds gathered in India’s capital New Delhi to protest the controversial citizenship law Sunday just a day before United States President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit of the country.

Indian Police Files Case Against Social Media Users in Kashmir

In the latest eruption of violence people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the capital. Police were quickly called in used tear gas to disperse protesters. 

On Sunday, a separate protest was also organized in the northern Indian city of Aligarh, where protesters threw stones at the police, state administration official Chandra Bhushan Singh said.

The law has sparked massive protests across the country, as hundreds of thousands of Indians have taken to the streets demanding far-right President Narendra Modi to revoke the legislation. 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed on Dec. 11 and provides non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who moved to the country before 2015 a pathway to citizenship. 

However, critics and opposition parties say the law, which excludes Muslims, is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on people’s religion and will marginalize India’s 200 million Muslim citizens, especially in the occupied territories of Jammu and Kashmir.

This issue has also raised international criticism regarding human rights violations. 

Just last week, Indian authorities filed a police complaint (FIR) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against social media users, accusing them of defying government orders and misusing social media platforms.

Since New Delhi revoked on Aug. 5 the special status of Kashmir and Jammu by removing a constitutional provision that prevented non-Kashmiris to purchase any property in the Muslim-majority state, Indian authorities imposed a complete ban on the use of any social media platform in the disputed region.

The restrictions have been lifted partially and low-speed 2G internet was restored in January, but the ban on social media continued. 
Kashmiris have been resorting to virtual private networks (VPNs) to access blacklisted sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter. But the open FIR has triggered panic among many users, as a person arrested under the UAPA can be jailed for months without bail.

]]> <![CDATA[Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian, Drag His Body With Bulldozer ]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 18:27:16 -04:00 Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man near the border, east of the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, and severely injured two others who were trying to pull out the body, local media reported Sunday. 


Breaking with Washington: Arabs and Muslims Must Take a United Stance for Palestine

The two wounded men were rushed to a hospital for treatment, a paramedic of the Palestinian Red Crescent told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Israeli forces said they opened fire on the Palestinian man because they suspected him of trying to place a bomb near the fence that separates Gaza from Israel.

The army said in a statement it "spotted two terrorists approaching the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip and placing an explosive device adjacent to it."

"The troops opened fire towards them. A hit was identified," it stated.

An Israeli bulldozer was later seen on a video widely shared on social media, moving ​​​​​​ the body of the Palestinian man in a brutal manner to the Israeli side of the fence. The footage, which sparked outrage among Palestinians and others on social media, shows the vehicle dragging the body along by his clothes.

The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adala) has called for a criminal investigation into the incident. 

The center sent a letter to Israeli Chief Military Advocate General Sharon Afek citing international laws that could characterize the incident as a "war crime." Adala said the action also violates laws in the Jewish state as Israel’s Supreme Court recognized in past rulings that harm to the dignity of the deceased is a violation of the country’s law. 

A spokesman for Hamas Hazem Qassem told Al Jazeera that the incident is just one instance of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian lands and its treatment of Palestinians.

"There are hundreds of similar crimes that haven't been documented by the camera. Israeli occupation continues its crime without any legal or ethical deterrence," Qassem said.

The deceased man, Mohammed Ali al-Naim, 27, was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) faction, according to the latter.

Twenty rockets were fired towards Israel later on Sunday by Palestinian factions, in response to his killing, according to local media. No casualties were reported.

"The targeting of one of our own in the Gaza Strip in a brutal way is blatant aggression and the enemy must bear the consequences," a spokesman for the al-Quds Brigades, the PIJ's armed wing, said on Twitter. 

Israeli army said, also in a Twitter post, that 10 rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defense system.

Tensions between Palestine and Israel increased since last month when United States President Donald Trump unveiled his plan for resolving the decades-long conflict. The deal was categorically rejected by Palestinians who - both in the West Bank and in Gaza - said it was "a gift" to Israel.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: Judge Requests Probe Into Alleged Electoral Fraud ]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 17:23:16 -04:00 The magistrate of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Colombia Luis Guillermo Perez requested Saturday for the Deputy Secretary of the institution Lena Hoyos to initiate an inquiry over electoral fraud allegations made against President Ivan Duque. 

Colombia: Former Deputy Denounces President Duque, Lawmakers Involved in Major Electoral Fraud

The judge formally presented the document on Feb. 18, where he alludes that the statements made by former congresswoman Aida Merlano from Caracas should be investigated, as “there was a series of aspects that involve the powers attributed to the CNE.”

This comes as Merlano exposed a major scheme of electoral fraud and corruption last week during a live interview with Colombian magazine Semana. The CNE’s official reiterated that these are serious accusations that should not be taken lightly. 

Merlano, currently detained in Venezuela, went on air and reiterated that right-wing President Ivan Duque and powerful politicians want her dead and have rejected her extradition as her testimonies and evidence reveal the network of corruption that exists in the country.

During the interview, the former lawmaker directly accused Duque was aware that the Gerlain and Char families bought votes in the Atlantic department to get him elected as president in 2017. 

“Julio Gerlein and the Char family bought votes to elect Duque (...) The Chars directed all the traditional politicians of the coast to purchase votes for the election of presidents of the Republic (...) Everyone bought votes to choose Duque," the former congresswoman said, adding that each vote was worth around 10,000 pesos.

Merlano recalled that Julio Gerlein told her that he had invested vast amounts in Duque's campaign in the face of his presidential aspirations. She said he invested 6,000 million pesos "and the Chars held a fundraising" between contractors. 

The Gerlein and Char families are among the most powerful economic groups in Colombia. Merlano said that Julio Gerlein - brother of Roberto Gerlein, a former Senator and career politician from the Conservative party to which Merlano belonged to - “not only bought votes, but he had ID cards, mistreated the leaders, and intimidated the people to comply with the agreements.”

Merlano also mentioned that former Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez is an accomplice of Colombian corruption and knew about the contracts granted to the construction company Odebrecht, as well as the bribe" that Colombian congressmen received, "if Nestor Humberto falls he goes down with the whole political class," she added.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuelan Heroism Defeated Last Year's Invasion: Maduro]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 15:05:10 -04:00 The President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, recalled this Sunday the victory of the  Venezuelan people before the aggression of violent groups at the service of the right on February 23, 2019 on the border with Colombia.


Washington Still Pondering a Naval Blockade Against Venezuela

The President praised the courage of the people who together with the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fanb) defended Venezuela's sovereignty against the attempts of the U.S. administration and the Colombian government to enter the Venezuelan territory.

Through his account on Twitter, the President stressed that in military civic union "we defend with courage and dignity this sacred ground with the same strength and heroism as that of our liberators." 

"We remember the historic march of the Venezuelan people who, with temper, civic-military union and permanent mobilization, defeated the imperial claims to violate our sovereignty. I Ratify My Admiration! We will always defend the homeland that the liberators bequeathed us," Maduro tweeted.

On February 23, 2019, the right-wing opposition announced that shipments of food and drugs donated by the U.S. would enter through the Colombian border without the permission of the government.

For their part, the Venezuelan authorities made the sovereign decision to close the borders. 

On the day of the alleged aid, a concert was held in Cucuta, Colombia, promoted by billionaire Richard Branson, known as Live Aid Venezuela.

At the level of extremist actions against Venezuela, it is February 23, 2019, the most radical sectors of the opposition generated serious sources of violence in the western Venezuelan state of Táchira.

In complicity with the authorities of Washington and Bogotá, shock groups associated with the self-proclaimed 'president' Juan Guaidó staged destabilizing actions on the binational border, as part of an alleged humanitarian aid operation. 

As a result, some of the trucks from Colombia were burned and hundreds of people were injured after the confrontation in the border area.

The vehicles contained war material, which was intended to create a riot between the military and a revolt within the town against the government.

The delivery of the aforementioned assistance, collected in the Colombian border town of Cúcuta, was revealed by the Caracas authorities as a screen to cover up a military intervention in Venezuelan territory.

Several hundred people, civil and military, were injured on the side of Venezuela as a result of the incidents reported in the Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander international bridges, as well as in the town of Ureña.

]]> <![CDATA[Powerful Earthquake Kills 75 People in Iran]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 12:31:43 -04:00 At least 75 people were injured in the 5.7-magnitude earthquake that hit Qotur region in West Azarbaijan Province in the northwest of Iran on Sunday, the chief of Medical Emergency Center of Khoy city in West Azarbaijan said.


Iran: Coronavirus Has Spread to Several Cities, 2 More Deaths

Most of those who were sent to the medical centers had brief injury, Mojtaba Gamari told official IRNA news agency.

Earlier on the day, Mojtaba Khaledi, the spokesman for Iran's Emergency Organization told Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) that the quake has caused significant damage to 25 villages in Qotur which borders Turkey.

According to Iran's Seismological Center, the epicenter of the earthquake, which took place at 9:22 a.m. local time (0552 GMT) on Sunday, was at the depth of 6 km, 38.45 degrees north latitude and 44.52 degrees east longitude.

Over 20 aftershocks have trembled the region, the report said, while pointing out the tremendous destruction that was caused by the earthquake on Sunday. 

Iran and neighboring Turkey have been hit by a number of earthquakes over the past six months, leaving many people dead and wounded, and causing significant damage to the areas effected. 

]]> <![CDATA[South Korea Raises Alert Level After Coronavirus Cases Multiply]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 11:58:57 -04:00 South Korea raised its coronavirus alert to the " highest level" by recognizing that the situation reached a critical point, as on Sunday the country reported 46 new cases infected with the pathogen, raising the total to 602. 


South Korean Court Sentences Ex-President to 17 Years in Prison

The South Korean President has decided to activate the protocol after the number of infections has sky-rocketed in the last five days, especially around the city of Daegu, in the southeastern part of the country.

"The problem of COVID-19 has reached a turning point," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said at the meeting with members of his cabinet to activate the new alert level.

Moon warned that the next few days will be very important and insisted that the strongest measures be taken to contain the infection.

It is the first time in 11 years that the country, known for its strict quarantine measures, increased its alert for a virus at the "serious" level, the highest in the four-level system, since it took the same measure against the virus influenza A subtype H1N1.

The President explained that the health authorities are adopting "special" measures regarding the members of the Shincheonji sect, currently considered the main focus of infection in the country. 

Of the 602 infections recorded in South Korea, more than 300 are linked to this group, after it held a massive religious celebration at its headquarters in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

]]> <![CDATA[Bernie Sanders Wins Big in Nevada Democratic Vote]]> Sun, 23 Feb 2020 09:02:24 -04:00 Broad-based support across age, racial and ideological groups propelled Bernie Sanders to a dominant victory in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, tightening his grip on the front-runner spot in the race to find a challenger to President Donald Trump.


'Don't Extradite Assange' is the Shout at London's Streets

Joe Biden, the former vice president, appeared headed to a badly needed second-place finish in Nevada after poor showings earlier this month in the first two nominating contests in the Democratic presidential race ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Sanders’ triumph on Saturday in the first racially diverse state in the campaign suggested he was reaching a broader coalition of Democratic voters with his unapologetic message of social and economic justice, including his signature pledge to provide universal healthcare for all Americans.

For Biden and other moderates who argue Sanders is too liberal to beat Trump and who have been trying to blunt his momentum, however, the Nevada results made the job much harder.

“We have put together a multi-generational, multiracial coalition that is going to not only win in Nevada, it’s going to sweep the country,” Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont and self-described democratic socialist, told cheering supporters in San Antonio, Texas.

With 50% of the precincts reporting, Sanders had 47% of the county convention delegates in Nevada. Biden was a distant second to Sanders with 19%, but ahead of former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, in third with 15%.

“The press is ready to declare people dead quickly, but we’re alive and we’re coming back and we’re gonna win,” Biden told supporters in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had been looking to jump-start her campaign after poor finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, trailed in a disappointing fourth with 10% in Nevada. Senator Amy Klobuchar and activist billionaire Tom Steyer were well back at 5% and 4%, respectively.

Buttigieg cautioned Democrats about nominating Sanders, portraying him as an ideologue who would divide the country and lose to Trump.

“We can prioritize either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement. We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new, broad, big-hearted American coalition,” Buttigieg told supporters in Las Vegas.

]]> <![CDATA[Protests Continue in Dominican Republic]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 23:44:30 -04:00 Citizens of the Dominican Republic, participated Saturday in a national 'cacerolazo' to demand transparent elections after the municipal elections on Feb., 16 were suspended due to problems in electronic voting, four hours after the elections began.

Dominican Local Elections Rescheduled for March 15, Only Paper Ballots

From their homes, people took out their pots so that the municipal elections could be carried out with all the guarantees and called for the resignation of the entire board of the electoral body.

With this demonstration, citizens also ask the Central Electoral Board (JCE) for a comprehensive report explaining the reason for the suspension of municipal elections.

Last Thursday, dozens of passers-by gathered outside the JCE to repudiate their position in front of the elections, dressed in black, with bugles and banners referring to the electoral incident, protesters hindered traffic in that area of Santo Domingo (capital), because the protest coincided with the peak hour of vehicle traffic.

The student, Johanna Estevez said that the authorities of the Board knew the failures in the automated system and, even so, they called on the Dominicans to attend the vote.

Meanwhile, opposition political parties announced a demonstration next Sunday in front of the JCE, where they will read a proclamation regarding the upcoming municipal elections.



]]> <![CDATA[Sanders Scores Decisive Victory in Nevada]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 22:48:19 -04:00 Bernie Sanders scored a decisive victory in the Democratic presidential caucuses in Nevada on Saturday and gained a fresh burst of momentum, while Joe Biden appeared headed to a second-place finish that will give his struggling campaign new hope.

Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire

Sanders, a senator from Vermont, had 45% of the county convention delegates in Nevada with about 4% of the precincts reported, and television networks predicted he would cruise to an easy win.

But there were long delays getting more results reported, more than five hours after the caucuses started.

Biden, the former vice president, appeared headed to a badly needed strong showing after poor finishes in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire for the party’s nomination to face Republican President Donald Trump in the November election.

He was a distant second to Sanders with 19% of the vote, but ahead of former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, in third with 16%.

“The press is ready to declare people dead quickly, but were alive and were coming back and were gonna win,” Biden told supporters in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Senator Elizabeth Warren was trailing in a disappointing fourth with 11% in Nevada, where voters poured into more than 250 sites around the state.

Sanders showed signs of expanding his support beyond his core supporters, riding a wave of backing from most age groups, Latinos and union members to victory in Nevada. Entrance polls also showed heavy backing for his government-run Medicare for All healthcare plan.

“We have put together a multi-generational, multiracial coalition that is going to not only win in Nevada, it’s going to sweep the country,” Sanders told cheering supporters in San Antonio, Texas.

Buttigieg, however, told his supporters in Las Vegas that Democrats should stop and reconsider nominating Sanders, a self-identified democratic socialist that he portrayed as an ideologue.

“We can prioritize either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement. We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new, broad, big-hearted American coalition,” Buttigieg said.

After a technical meltdown delayed results during the Iowa caucuses, Nevada Democratic Party officials promised that a revised reporting system using a telephone hotline and photos of caucus reporting sheets would ensure a smoother process.

But precinct chairs at some caucuses reported long waits on the phone lines. Larry Van, a retired pharmacist who was the volunteer secretary at a precinct that went to Biden, said he called the phone number to report results eight times before he eventually got through.

In the final result of a caucus at the famed Bellagio hotel on the Las Vegas strip, Sanders finished with 76 votes, Biden had 45 and no other candidate ended with a vote.

Workers at the hotel, who are members of the Culinary Workers Union, streamed out of the caucus after backing Sanders despite their leadership expressing reservations about his healthcare plan.

“I went for Bernie. I’m not big into politics, but I like the things he’s going for: student loan debt, schools, free healthcare,” said Aleiza Smith, 22, a housekeeper at the Bellagio.

Four days of early voting in Nevada this week drew more than 75,000 Democrats, more than half first-time voters, putting the party in position to surpass the turnout record of 118,000 in 2008, when Barack Obama’s candidacy electrified the party.

But those early votes had to be counted along with those cast on Saturday, complicating the process.

An entrance poll by the Edison Research agency showed six in 10 Nevada voters at the caucuses backed the Medicare for All proposal, a version of which is also supported by Warren.

Six out of 10 caucus-goers wanted someone who can beat Trump more than someone who agrees with them on major issues, according to the poll.

The entrance poll showed that Sanders led in Nevada across all age groups except for those older than 65. Around 54% of Latino voters said they backed him, while 24% of college-educated white women and 34% of those who have a union member in their families supported him.

The Nevada caucuses came a day after news broke that Sanders had been briefed by U.S. officials that Russia was trying to help his campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the 2020 presidential election.

While Sanders’ rivals tried to blunt his momentum in the caucuses, they each faced significant challenges of their own.

Biden and Warren were looking to jump-start struggling campaigns after poor finishes in the first two states, while Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar are hoping to prove they can appeal to Nevada’s more diverse electorate.

Trump, who lost Nevada to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, tweeted on Saturday that he expected to win in Nevada in the general election in November and alluded to the reports that a Russian disinformation effort was supporting Sanders.

At a Democratic debate in Nevada on Wednesday, candidates launched scathing attacks on Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, who has been rising in the polls on the back of a self-funded advertising blitz but is not competing in Nevada.

The next primary will be on Feb. 29 in South Carolina, followed by the Super Tuesday contests in 14 states on March 3 that pick more than one-third of the pledged delegates who will help select a Democratic nominee.

Nevada is the first nominating state with a diverse population after contests in predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia: Tiquipaya Region Declared a Disaster Zone]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 21:55:03 -04:00 In Bolivia, the Tiquipaya region in Cochabamba woke up on alert Saturday, after several areas were affected by the overflow of the Taquiña River while local authorities declared a disaster zone.

Bolivia’s Coup-Born Regime Suspends Benefits for Pregnant Women

According to the latest report from the local authorities, 92 families and 22 homes have been affected, with 'Molle Molle' being the most affected area. Some families have lost everything and the danger continues.

"So far we have the report of 22 affected houses and 92 families that have been evacuated and that are in the different shelters. There are 23 people who have been treated for health issues," Cochabamba Governor Ether Soria told a local media outlet.

Soria urged residents who live three blocks from that flow to evacuate their homes because of the risk posed by the complex meteorological scenario, however, some residents refuse to lose everything, while trying to rescue in the middle of crying what little they have left.

On the other hand, numerous families denounced that the de-facto government of Bolivia left them completely abandoned in the face of constant rains in the region and that they are now forced to leave their homes.

"No one has come to help us, no one. We’ve been working on our own since last night to try to channel the water, " one resident of that region said.

After the overflow of the river, Tiquipaya was declared a disaster zone to mobilize the departmental apparatus and other levels. Flooded streets, downed posts and bridges  overflowed by water are reported.

The former president, Evo Morales, expressed his solidarity with those affected through his Twitter account.

"My solidarity with the families affected by the overflow of the river in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba. I also regretted that Indigenous communities have been isolated by floods in the Tropic region. Sisters and brothers: The main thing is to save life."

The candidate for the presidency of Bolivia, Luis Arce also said on Twitter that the State must prevent and act immediately in the face of disasters that he claimed have already caused 17 deaths throughout Bolivia.

For her part, the de-facto president, Jeanine Añez said in her social networks to have made available all government resources to help affected families in Tiquipaya.


]]> <![CDATA[Warhol, Pop Art and Its Legacy in Latin America]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 19:33:21 -04:00 Andy Warhol was one of the most influential U.S. artists of the 20th century and important figures of Pop Art in the 1960s. While the rise of this movement has its bases a decade earlier in the United Kingdom, it developed more influence and success in the United States, with Warhol being its most commercial benchmark that rapidly globalized the trend around the world, reaching Latin America as well.

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The popular art movement (Pop Art) in the U.S. emerged in the context of the Cold War, a time also marked by the rise of a new society inspired by consumerism and mass media, especially television, that stimulated new individual and collective behaviors. In the face of this, the movement was nothing more than a reflection of the zeitgeist of a decade inspired by everyday life and consumer culture.

"The themes, forms, and means of Pop Art are only a reflection of the essential features of the sixties. These include, as an example, the cult of Hollywood stars, (where the viewer becomes an anonymous and insignificant being), money (representing that everything has a price, universal remedy against frustrations), nationalism, consumerism in general: Soda bottles, cigarette packets or bubble gum wrappers are some of the objects often represented,” according to journalist Cintia Bourlot.

In that context, Warhol worked on the concept of Pop Art as a new form of artistic expression with a focus on mass-produced commercial goods. He started painting "iconic products" of all kinds, from the 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans paintings, Coca-Cola bottles to portraits of celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, among others.

Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol was also known as the 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans. It was a popular artwork made in 1962, and it includes 32 canvases that measure 20 x 16 inches.


These small canvas works of everyday consumer products created a major stir in the art world, bringing both Warhol and Pop Art into the national and international spotlight quickly.

The artist captured through his art a critique of mass culture that bombarded by the mass media was fascinated by unlimited consumption. For him, everything becomes a consumer product at this time, even politicians or celebrities.

The portraits were not just the register of individuals but were part of a cultural taste, the social imaginaries, the constant representation in the media and the political values of the time, ergo his representations of Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong.

Mao Zedong by Andy Warhol

His art reflected the irony about what Warhol observed as U.S. culture obsessed with superficiality. Images of public figures created by marketing companies to generate money but that actually said little about the people behind those invented characters.

The eccentric Warhol became a somewhat symbol of the U.S. counterculture movement and also became a master in cultivating his own celebrity profile by entering that world so criticized. In his book ‘The Philosophy of Andy Warhol’, he wrote that "making money is art and working is art, and good business is the best art."

Pop Art arrives in Latin America

While Pop Art was booming in the U.S. during the 1960s, with personalities such as Warhol, Latin America was experiencing the hegemonic presence of the U.S., which through political and economic strategies, had started the expansion of its influence in the region. This scenario marked a different path for Pop Art.

In the mid-1960s, American imperialist intentions behind the impositions of power in Latin America were evident and threatening. Countries like Brazil, Argentina, among others, had assumed forms of authoritarian governments, the anti-imperialist struggles in the region that took shape since the Cuban Revolution of 1959 posed a risk to the imperialist order, so cultural war was carried out as well.

One of the strategies carried out by the imperialist agents to dismantle the movements was the murder of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, commander of the Cuban revolution who later ends up becoming an icon for the representation of Latin American Pop Art in works such as those of the Brazilian Claudio Tozzi, "Guevara Vivo ou Morto" (Guevara Live or Dead) or those of the Cuban Raul Martinez, the "Fénix."

"Guevara Vivo ou Morto" by the Brazilian Claudio Tozzi

Amid a complex political and social context due to the fragility of democratic regimes, dictatorships or the U.S. interference that led to long periods of repression, Pop Art contrasts with a more subversive spirit, becoming a vital instrument of political and social denunciation.

According to Brazilian journalist Melissa Mota, one of the works that reflect the Latin American feeling of the time is that of the Chilean Hugo Rivera-Scott with the collage “Pop América” in 1968.

“Pop is represented as an explosion, as an onomatopoeia, while the name of the continent is written with tilde in the E a gesture that is opposed to the appropriation of the word by the United States and that opens the debate on the identity and definition of the American,” Mota explained.

“Pop América” by the Chilean Hugo Rivera-Scott

In Brazil, one of the countries that mostly housed Pop Art during this time, the assimilation of this trend was strengthened holistically in painting, cinema, music, and other expressions.

During the Brazilian dictatorship, several artists, intellectuals, journalists, musicians,  and others were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, exiled or killed. Brazilian art itself underwent several transformations that forged the need to host new alternatives for expression.

The rebellious spirit of Brazilian artists succeeded in creating connections with the public and stirring the minds of spectators both through art and through music. One of the most relevant groups, for example, was the Tropicalia movement that inspired by the avant-garde of the time, gave rise to a new musical genre that, among other issues, stood out for its lyrics that –with a certain irony– criticized the system of censorship and the reality of a society immersed in a dictatorship.

Argentina’s art also flourished during this period, as new expressive forms that were developed in the mythical Di Tella Institute, one of the most prominent cultural and artistic spaces in the country, where Marta Minujin was one of the most outstanding references.

The importance of Minujin lies in the fact that her presence questioned the idea of Pop Art as an exclusively masculine space, the imperialist men of art, knowledge or creativity. Minujin transgressed that myth and became one of the most recognized artists in her country and used her works to question censorship during the dictatorship.

Marta Minujin during the performance "Reading the news" in 1965.

However, the authoritarianism of the de facto government of Juan Carlos Ongania put a brake on the social and cultural effervescence that involved the mass exile of intellectuals, scientists and artists, many of whom no longer returned to the country. The Di Tella Institute was closed in 1970.

In Cuba, after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, artists are also submerged by Pop Art trends. One of the most outstanding faces was Raul Martinez, who, inspired by the historical process that the country went through, stood out for his originality with which he portrayed the main heroes of the revolution such as Jose Marti, Ernesto Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, and Fidel Castro.

Fidel Castro by the Cuban Raul Martinez

Cuban Pop Art stood out for its creativity and innovation, being one of the greatest legacies of the 60s. According to some critics, it was precisely this revolutionary spirit that catapulted it as the "golden period" of popular art in the Caribbean country.

The influence of Pop Art in Latin America developed in multiple ways and although each one with its own conception and representation sought to build a unique seal during its trajectory, the articulation of the entire Pop Art movement is summed up in its political character and the effervescence of consolidating a Latin American identity that is opposed to the U.S. or Europe.






]]> <![CDATA['Covid-19 Impact on the Global Economy to Be Minor', IMF Hopes]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 15:54:40 -04:00 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) director Kristalina Georgieva Saturday reaffirmed that the coronavirus outbreak will slightly decrease the growth of the world economy in 2020.


Iran: Coronavirus Has Spread to Several Cities, 2 More Deaths

“The impact on the world economy would be relatively minor and short-lived," said Georgieva at the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

According to IMF forecasts, the Covid-19 outbreak will reduce the growth of the global economy by about 0.1 percentage points and the growth of the Chinese economy by 5.6 percent in 2020.

Nevertheless, the growth consequences might be more protracted, if "the where the spread of the virus continues for longer and more globally," she explained.

The IMF director also added that international cooperation is “essential” to contain the Covid-19, especially in countries with weak health systems.​​​​​​​

So far, the coronavirus has infected 77,984 people worldwide, 2,362 of whom have died. In mainland China, 76,288 confirmed cases of infection have been recorded, 20,659 people have recovered from the disease, 11,477 patients are in critical condition, and 2,345 people died.​​​​​​​

The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting is part of the previous events that prepare the G20 Summit of Heads of State and Government which will take place in Riyadh on Nov. 23.

The G-20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K., the U.S., and the European Union.

]]> <![CDATA['Don't Extradite Assange' is the Shout at London's Streets]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 14:03:56 -04:00 In London, hundreds of free speech activists Saturday marched from the Australia House to Parliament Square in support of Julian Assange who faces a court that will decide whether or not to be extradited to the United States.


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Beginning Feb. 24, London's Woolwich Crown Court will examine a U.S. request which demands that Assange be handed over to judge him for the dissemination of classified files on military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In President Donald Trump's country, the Australian journalist who helped unveil US war crimes faces 17 charges for espionage, which could condemn him up to 175 years in jail.

Upon arriving at Parliament Square, social activists gathered to listen to speeches and shouted phrases such as  "Assange's freedom is our freedom," "journalism is not a crime," and "jail war criminals, free Julian Assange."

​​​​​His father John Shipton, WikiLeak supporters, Stop the War Coalition activists, journalists and other personalities of the British pop culture were present at the march.

"Prime Minister Johnson, act as an English bulldog, face the U.S hegemony, and cancel this judicial farce," the Pink Floyd's guitarist Roger Waters demanded.

"Delivering Assange to Justice will be the end of freedom of expression," the musician Brian Eno warned.

"We face a dark force that wants to extradite Assange and throw him into a dungeon forever. We must stop this," WikiLeaks Editor in Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson stressed.​​​​​​​

Assange has been in Belmarsh prison since May 2019, after being sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Despite the end of this period, a British judge ordered the Australian journalist to remain in prison while facing proceedings regarding his possible extradition to the U.S.

]]> <![CDATA[Washington Still Pondering a Naval Blockade Against Venezuela]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 12:37:44 -04:00 The digital media Zero Hedge (ZH) Saturday published information holding that that the United States keeps on considering military actions as an option to overthrow Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.


Maduro Announces Measures to Defend Venezuela’s Oil Industry

More specifically, despite all the previous failed attempts to destabilize the Bolivarian government, U.S. President Donald Trump is still considering the possibility of a naval blockade against the Venezuelan people.

The ZH article quotes Bloomberg's information according to which a senior U.S. official said that the Republican politician is frustrated by the failure of pressure actions against the Venezuelan president.

Apparently, economic and financial sanctions against Venezuela, as well as the attempt to block all its oil exports, are not "putting a sufficiently rapid or severe pressure" on Maduro.

“Trump believes a slow-moving bureaucratic process hasn’t delivered the swift, steady pressure on Maduro he’s sought... Trump has pressed for Maduro’s ouster since 2017,” a senior administration official told Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, Washington is eager to intimidate oil companies doing business with the Venezuelan state-owned company PDVSA.​​​​​​​

Among those business partners is a subsidiary of Rosneft, a Russian state oil company which was recently sanctioned by the U.S. government.

According to Bloomberg's sources, the White House wants to secure the international backing of Juan Guaido so that he ensures the loyalty of the military and therefore the control of the country.

To implement the new wave of destabilization actions, the U.S. strategists would seek to turn Spain into a key element in their campaign and instrumentalize the European Union against Maduro.​​​​​​​

While these pieces manage to be placed on the board, the Trump administration executes several initiatives to maintain and increase pressure against the South American nation, the ZH article recalls.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: Carnival Opens Mocking Bolsonaro, 'The Clown President']]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 11:05:28 -04:00
Actress Alessandra Negrini wore Indigenous symbols to recall the rights of the Amazonian peoples, which the Brazilian far-right intends to suppress.
Aerial view of
The X-9 Paulistana samba school paid tribute to women and Black peoples in Sao Paulo on Feb. 22.
Diversity is another of predominant them in the Brazilian carnival.
The Socialist and LGTB activist Marielle Franco, killed by paramilitaries in Rio de Janeiro, was remembered by Tom Maior samba school
The 31-year-old Bianca Monteiro paraded as
Sophisticated outfits and accessories are part of the Brazilian colorful multicultural party.
With the motto of
At the Sao Paulo's sambodrome, dances were accompanied by a parody about how the police exert violence against the black population
]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas Set Triple Jump World Record: 15.43 m]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 09:06:40 -04:00 Venezuela’s 24-year-old athlete Yulimar Rojas Friday set a new triple jump indoor world record in Madrid, Spain, with a 15.43-meter mark.


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This result was expected as she is not a rookie in athletics. She has already been twice the triple jump world champion and is the current Olympic runner-up in this specialty.

In Madrid, Rojas executed the best jump in the history of indoor athletics, reaching 15 meters and 43 centimeters in her sixth attempt.

In Venezuela, this sporting feat was immediately commented by her proud fellow citizens, among whom was President Nicolas Maduro.​​​​​

"Tremendous jumping! I congratulate our champion, Yulimar Rojas, for achieving a new triple jump indoor world record, in the Madrid meeting," President Nicolas Maduro tweeted.

"The entire Venezuelan people celebrate this great achievement of our national sport. Long live Venezuela! Heading to Tokyo 2020!"

With this new mark, Rojas broke the 15.36-meter world record set by the Russian athlete Tatyana Lebedeva in Budapest in 2004.

The Venezuelan athlete's next goal will be to break the current triple jump outdoor world record, which was set by the Ukrainian Inessa Kravets at 15.50 meters in 1995.

Rojas is also training to compete in the next Olympics that will begin on July 24 in Tokyo.

]]> <![CDATA[Nicaraguan President: The US Repeats Policies Against Peoples]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2020 00:14:01 -04:00 Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega inaugurated Friday the new mandate of the Army's Chief Julio César Avilés, during a ceremony celebrating the 86th anniversary of the death of the revolutionary leader, General Augusto Nicolás Calderón Sandino.

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The National Assembly opened the session in Niquinohomo, where Sandino was born, as a tribute to the revolutionary leader.

"Sandino, our national hero, and with him, we walk through his heroic path with the flags and our dignity intact," said the country's Vice President Rosario Murillo.

Then Ortega gave Julio César Avilés the symbolic stick of mandate and took his oath.

"Today is a national day of mourning," said Ortega " since sadly, we do not have the conditions in this world to make peace a reality," adding that Nicaragua was fighting to get such peace.

Nicaragua has been a victim of U.S. expansionist policies, and Washington "continues to repeat its policies, not only against Nicaragua but against other peoples, disrespecting international law, the UN Chart, violating rights, and this is the biggest threat against peace."

Ortega said that powerful nations should be determinant factors to promote peace, but that they were not making efforts in that direction - the criminalization of immigrants while investing funds in problematic countries.

He highlighted the heritage of Sandino and his fight against U.S. occupation in the first half of the 20th century.


]]> <![CDATA[Correa Returns To Ecuador To Register His Candidacy]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 23:55:21 -04:00 The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, will return to his country at the end of the year to register his candidacy for vice president or as a member of the assembly, facing the 2021 presidential elections, Fausto Vase, his lawyer, told Reuters.


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"We intend for his return to Ecuador; once he registers his candidacy, he would immediately be protected by electoral immunity (…) he will return this year, in November or December," Vase said.

In August, Correa declared that he intended to be a candidate for the vice presidency of his country or to occupy a seat in the National Assembly.

According to Ecuador's Constitution from 2008, Rafael Correa could aspire to any candidacy other than the Presidency, as long as a court of law does not sentence him.

Correa has said he is not interested in power, but instead in preventing the elites from controlling Ecuador for the next 30 years. "We have to react and thus return the State to the people, to the citizens," he said at the time.

Ecuador's former president has indicated that the most important thing "is to fulfill the historical role of recovering the homeland," after asserting that the current Government has delayed the country at least 15 years.


]]> <![CDATA[Iran: Coronavirus Has Spread to Several Cities, 2 More Deaths]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 23:37:08 -04:00 The coronavirus has spread to several Iranian cities, a health ministry official said on Friday, as an outbreak that the authorities say began in the holy city of Qom caused two more deaths.

Coronavirus Prompts 'Atmosphere of Hate' In Italy

“Based on existing reports, the spread of coronavirus started in Qom and with attention to people’s travels has now reached several cities in the country including Tehran, Babol, Arak, Isfahan, Rasht, and other cities,” health ministry official Minou Mohrez said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

“It’s possible that it exists in all cities in Iran,” she said.

The majority of coronavirus cases in Iran have been in Qom, a Shi’ite Muslim holy city 120 kilometers south of the capital Tehran.

The new cases comprised seven people diagnosed in Qom, four in the capital Tehran and two in Gilan province, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a tweet.

Health officials had called on Thursday for the suspension of all religious gatherings in Qom.

“It’s clear that new coronavirus has circulated in the country and probably the source of this illness was Chinese workers who work in the city of Qom and had traveled to China,” health ministry official Mohrez said, according to IRNA.

The widening outbreak came as Iranians were voting in a parliamentary election seen as a referendum on authorities after a series of crises, including a near full-blown conflict with the United States last month.

Iraqi Airways has suspended flights to neighboring Iran as a protective measure against the coronavirus outbreak, the Iraqi state news agency said on Thursday.

The epidemic originated in China and has killed more than 2,100 people there. New research suggesting the virus is more contagious than previously thought has added to the international alarm over the outbreak.


]]> <![CDATA[Technology Kicks China-LatAm Cooperation Into High Gear]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 22:29:56 -04:00 "I was surprised by the service," Chilean Cristobal Velasquez recently said of Chinese ride-hailing app Didi, which in a short time has gained a firm foothold in Latin America.

"While it's a relatively new app (here), it has spread quickly in (Chile's capital) Santiago and throughout the whole country," offering a "safe and economical" alternative to standard ride-sharing services, said Velasquez.

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Didi is a prime example of the kind of technology-driven cooperation China is spearheading in Latin America today.

Andres Borquez, director of the Chinese Studies Center at the University of Chile, described Didi as the face of the "new wave" of Chinese cooperation in Latin America "based on the development of sophisticated products and services" to promote "the development of innovations and solutions for smart cities."

From the southern tip of Argentina to Mexico, Chinese technology is helping boost productivity and raise standards of living with innovations in transportation, agriculture, renewable energy, e-commerce and other sectors.


In Mexico City, a fleet of 63 Chinese-made trolley buses are propelling the capital towards cleaner electromobility.

Manufactured by Chinese company Yutong, the buses began circulating in early January along one of the city's main arteries.

"Mexico City's last trolley bus acquisition was 22 years ago, so this purchase is very important because it radically changes users' experience," said Guillermo Calderon, general director of the Mexico City Electric Transport Service.

These modern units can run for 75 km on battery power, should overhead cables fail to operate, and emit no pollutants, an important factor given that Mexico City is one of the most polluted urban areas in the world, according to the World Air Quality Index.

The trolley buses are part of Mexico City's "Trolebici" project, a 35 million-U.S.-dollar scheme to improve cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

City Mobility Secretary Andres Lajous said that the Chinese-made vehicles were the best value for a city looking to improve commuter services.

The buses fit into Mexico City's plans for future changes to its transportation network, as "they consume less electricity, and they have obstacle detectors and special alarms that alert the driver to cyclists," Lajous said.

According to Ren Wenhui, commercial manager of Yutong in Mexico, the country's capital is the first Latin American city to use the trolley buses, though the company's electric and gas buses are already present on streets in central Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru.

"I am confident that there will be more clients in the future," he said.

Meanwhile, Chinese expertise in e-commerce is helping Latin American exporters grow businesses by expanding their markets.

Andres Diaz Bedolla, a member of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's team in Mexico, said "we believe that everyone can be part of an open, smart, integrated, cooperative economy that also benefits everyone."

Diaz recently led a panel discussion on e-commerce for some 50 business representatives in Mexico City, inviting them to join a free online community to receive consultancy.

The first Mexican product sold via Alibaba was avocado, which has been a great success.

Mexico registered some 303 million online purchases between January and September in 2019, a 53-percent increase over the same period of 2018, according to official data.


Farther south in Latin America, a China-backed renewable energy project is about to substantially increase Argentina's power output.

Cauchari, South America's largest solar park, is scheduled to come online in March, following a test phase.

"We are going to replace tons of carbon dioxide emissions with green energy through this plant, as many international organizations have already recognized," said Luis Gonzalez, technical adviser at Shanghai Electric Power Construction (SEPC), the company leading the facility's construction.

In addition to helping Argentina meet its energy and environmental targets, "the plant is important for the progress of the families of the Puna (region), as it was built in an area that was practically free of development," Gonzalez said.

Led by SEPC and largely funded by the Export-Import Bank of China, Cauchari Solar Park is located atop a remote mountain peak 4,000 meters above sea level near Cauchari, a town in the province of Jujuy, which borders neighboring Chile and Bolivia.

Divided into three smaller parks with a generating capacity of 100 megawatts each, Cauchari features more than 1.18 million solar panels distributed across 800 hectares.

In neighboring Brazil, a bilateral initiative is underway to develop a variety of rice that will appeal to Chinese palates.

"Our type of rice is different from what the Chinese consumer prefers ... that is why we want to develop hybrid rice in Brazil, so that we can supply this grain to China," said Ivo Mello, a researcher at the Rice Institute of Rio Grande do Sul.

The initiative is another example of how China is applying technology to promote win-win cooperation.

The institute is working with the Hunan Rice Research Institute "so we can become a supplier to China in the future, especially by developing a rice that's to the taste of the Chinese people," said Mello.

Brazil and China are also cooperating in space.

The jointly developed China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite-4A (CBERS-4A) was sent into orbit in December 2019, pushing forward aerospace cooperation between the two countries, according to the China National Space Administration.

The sixth satellite of a joint cooperation program, the CBERS-4A is designed to improve the Brazilian government's ability to monitor the Amazon rainforest and environmental changes.

According to Marcos Cesar Pontes, Brazil's minister of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications, cooperation between China and Brazil has contributed to international economic and social development.


Tech-driven cooperation between China and Latin America has recently been kicked into high gear, said Luis Paulino, a professor at Sao Paulo State University's Faculty of Philosophy and Sciences.

"I think ties between Latin America and China have gone beyond the phase of shallow integration, based only on trade, to a new phase of deep integration, based on foreign direct investment, and scientific and technological cooperation," said Paulino.

"Throughout 2019, China and Latin America made progress in institutionalizing their ties through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a proposal that represents major opportunities for expanding bilateral trade and investment," said Argentine academic Carla Oliva, coordinator of the China and Argentina Study Group at the National University of Rosario.

Paulino believes "this new model of cooperation is interesting for both sides" as it offers Latin America access to advanced technologies and techniques "to boost local production, job creation, and demand for local inputs."

Crucially, "Chinese investments, especially in the areas of infrastructure and logistics, are fundamental to improving the competitiveness of local companies and the productivity of the economy," Paulino said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping envisions greater cooperation as a means to build a community with a shared future for mankind, "a concept that underlines our common goals, such as tackling climate change, underdevelopment and poverty," he said, calling it "a very important contribution" to building "a more peaceful and just world."

Oliva echoed this comment, saying that the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind "is one of the great propositions in China-Latin America bilateral ties."

"In recent years, we have seen a notable increase in cooperation in strategic matters such as renewable energy, sustainable development, transportation networks and the application of new technologies," she said.

"All progress in these areas is designed to achieve mutual prosperity by spurring trade and creating jobs," Oliva said.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazilian Landless Rural Workers Mov.: Our Hope Is on Lula]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 23:31:05 -04:00 Rosana Fernandes, head of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil, acknowledged that former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is the only one who "has the leadership" to stand up to the current administration of Jair Bolsonaro.


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Fernandes declared to the EFE news agency that the movement lives a moment of active resistance to the threats and attacks made by Bolsonaro in an interview from Thailand. She attended an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the so-called Alternative Nobel Prize, awarded by the Right Livelihood Foundation to MST in 1991.

"We already live periods of neoliberal governments with massacres, murders, and violence that occurred in the countryside. However, we had never faced a government as hostile as the current one," Fernandes said about the current Brazilian far-right Government.

She added that the MST has been under constant violent attacks during its 36 years of history, "but now we have a serious confrontation. There are communities attacked by militias authorized by this Government, which also intends to pass laws that allow the population to be armed".

However, the agrarian leader expressed that Lula's freedom is a partial conquest because they have to restore his political rights still threatened by other judicial processes. "We need Lula free, but also declared innocent for that freedom to be complete."

Fernandes declared that their hope is based on Lula's leadership, despite acknowledging that municipal elections will be complicated because of the deep division on the leftist movements and organizations. "But they will serve as a test for the 2020 presidential elections".

Referring to the neoliberal wave that has struck Latin America with military coups and the return of conservative wing governments, she expressed that there is a possibility of reversing the situation.

"Latin America has a force that has not yet exploded, perhaps Chile is making progress in this moment of struggle or the electoral victory in Argentina. We must believe in the resistance and hope of the people to make the changes in Brazil, Latin America and all over the world," she said.


]]> <![CDATA[Giorgio Armani: “Women Are Still Raped by Designers”]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 21:55:37 -04:00 Giorgio Armani, on Friday, accused the fashion industry of "raping" women with their short-term trends and sex-driven marketing, outside a parade of his Emporio Armani line at Milan Fashion Week.


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"You can rape a woman in many ways, either by throwing her into the basement or suggesting she dress in a certain way," the fashion mogul expressed about the imposition of beauty canons and trends by the fashion industry.

"If a woman walks down the street and sees an ad with a woman with her breasts and butt in sight and wants to be like that too, that's a way to rape her," he added.

"In my parade, there are short skirts, long skirts, wide pants, and tight pants. I have given women maximum freedom so they can use all possibilities if they are sensible," he stated.

Giorgio Armani, also known for empowering women by popularizing the female suite in the seventies, expressed feeling tired of hearing the word trend. "We have to try to work for women today. There should be no trends," he insisted.

"Please stop writing trends," he insisted to journalists. "Write about what Michele did in Gucci, what Miuccia Prada did in Prada and what I do, but let's not play this game anymore," Armani concluded, adding that he will now say everything he thinks.

Giorgio Emporio founded his brand in 1975 and is a household name known for his sober and elegant designs. For 2020 Milan Fashion week, the titular of the brand commented that "strong-willed" young women inspired the latest line.


]]> <![CDATA[In Mexico's Cradle of Corn, Climate Change Leaves its Mark]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 21:49:20 -04:00 At least 9,000 years ago, humans began domesticating corn for the first time near Tehuacan, in the central Mexican state of Puebla, laying the foundation for permanent settlements in the Americas.

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But in the past few years, more frequent and more prolonged droughts have forced many farmers in the area to give up corn and other cereals in favor of alternatives requiring less water such as pistachio nuts or cactus.

Agricultural experts predict parts of Mexico will feel the effects of climate change more than many countries, not least because its location between two oceans and straddling the Tropic of Cancer expose it to weather volatility.

Sol Ortiz, director of the agriculture ministry’s climate change group, noted that 75 percent of Mexico’s soil is already considered too dry to cultivate crops. In regions such as Tehuacan, temperatures may rise more than the global average.

“We know there are areas where the increase is going to be greater. That will obviously affect rain patterns, and in turn, agriculture and food security,” Ortiz said.

The area under corn cultivation in Tehuacan decreased 18 percent to about 40,000 hectares between 2015 and last year, a Reuters calculation using statistics by the agriculture ministry shows, outstripping a nationwide decline.

In the five years before that, the area planted with corn had been slowly increasing in Tehuacan.

Nationally, the area under corn cultivation declined 4 percent from 2015 to 7.4 million hectares last year. While factors leading farmers to switch crops are complex, in Tehuacan, farmers and local officials describe a fast-changing climate as a leading cause.

Mexico’s rainy season last year was the driest since 2011, which in turn was one of the driest on record, numbers from the country’s national water agency showed.

Climate change is expected to cause substantial declines in yields of corn globally, especially in the tropics, a 2018 study published in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science concluded.

In Tehuacan, conditions are fast changing for the worse. In a field where dried out plants have been lingering in the dust since the last drought, farmer Porfirio Garcia, holding a stunted cob, was struggling to make sense of it all.

Garcia, who has 12 children, half of them working with him on the farm, recalls how one hectare in some years yielded as many as four tonnes (8,800 lbs) of corn In the past five years, he said, with luck it produced 700 kg (1,543 lbs).

“The corn harvest has shrunk because in the months of June, July, August and September there was no rain,” said Garcia, 59, who uses ancestral farming techniques to grow corn, beans and pumpkin, an ancient system called a “milpa.”

“Our lives center on corn, so what do we do without it?”

Eusebio Olmedo, director of rural development, agriculture and livestock in Tehuacan, recalls that it began to get hotter at the turn of the millennium.

Having worked in the department for five years, Olmedo said the area used to be characterized by a “very pleasant, very benevolent” climate.

Last year was the warmest on record in the state of Puebla - where Tehuacan is located - with thermometers reaching an average maximum temperature of 26.8 Celsius (80 F). In 1985, the first year the available state records show, Puebla, registered an average maximum temperature of 24.7 Celsius (76 F).

A 2016 study commissioned by the environment ministry and backed by the U.N. Development Program concluded climate change in Mexico would mean less rain, lower yields for basic grains such as corn, beans and wheat, as well as “unexpected effects on food security.”

“When rain patterns change, agriculture becomes risky,” Olmedo said.

Mexican corn farmers have suffered significant shocks in the past - most notably the arrival of cheap imports from the United States under the NAFTA free trade agreement in the 1990s.

In the north of Mexico, where vast cornfields are irrigated, climate change may initially have little impact, studies show.

But in the south, where the oldest corn strains on earth are grown using traditional methods without irrigation, the changing rain patterns and temperatures are already being felt.

Agricultural consulting group GCMA estimates Mexican corn production will continue to decline in 2020, and that corn imports mainly from the United States will reach a record 18 million tons.

Mexico is now the world’s second-largest corn importer thanks to a reliance on U.S. grain for animal feed. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador calls that “a contradiction” and has implemented programs to boost national production.

Garcia, however, chose to diversify into other crops, planting 300 trees of pistachio, a desert plant that can withstand temperatures between minus 10 and 40 degrees Celsius.

Nearby farmer Natalio De Santiago also abandoned the corn that he, his father and his grandfather used to plant for other crops that require less water. Those include maguey, a raw ingredient for mezcal, a Mexican liquor.

“I stopped sowing (corn) because the weather is changing,” said De Santiago, 56. “Now, I plant maguey because it needs less water.”

Wearing a cowboy hat to shield his face from the sun, he said he irrigates 400 maguey plants every month with a liter of water each. When he planted corn, he said, his crops needed four months of rain.

Others in the area gave up agriculture altogether and sold the land to real estate developers.

In an attempt to stop this trend, local authorities developed a bank of native corn seeds more resistant to pests and that need less water.

“We have to adapt to climate change, and these are the best varieties to recover food self-sufficiency,” Olmedo said of the seeds.

Other government measures meant to help farmers adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change include agricultural insurance, alternative crops and campaigns to reduce agricultural burning.

“It’s very difficult to reverse the tendency to increase CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere,” said the agricultural ministry’s Ortiz. “That’s why we’re prioritizing adaptation.”

“Climate change is here to stay,” he added.


]]> <![CDATA[South Sudan Rivals Agree To Unity Government]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 21:41:16 -04:00 South Sudan’s former rebel leader and its president will form a unity government by Saturday’s deadline; it was announced on Thursday, quashing fears the deadline would be pushed back again.

Sudan To Hand Ex-President Al-Bashir to ICC over Genocide

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into a civil war in 2013 when President Salva Kiir sacked his then-deputy Riek Machar, who went on to lead the main rebel faction.

The conflict claimed an estimated 400,000 lives, triggered a famine and created Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Many issues remain outstanding, but last Saturday, the president agreed to reduce the number of states, a key rebel demand.

“We have agreed to form the government on Feb. 22,” former rebel leader Machar told journalists after a meeting at the State House.

President Kiir said he would appoint Machar as the first vice president on Friday and provide all the members of the former opposition with protection.

“We are going to discuss the security arrangements for the protection of all opposition forces and members,” Kiir added. “If there are things we have not agreed upon, we have agreed to resolve them. We shall finalize them in the coming days.”

South Sudan became the world’s youngest nation when it won independence from neighboring Sudan following decades of scorched-earth conflict.

Civil war broke out two years later when forces loyal to Kiir and Machar clashed in the capital. Kiir is a Dinka, the country’s largest ethnic group, and Machar comes from the Nuer community.

The war was marked by extreme sexual violence and ethnic cleansing. Fighting forced a third of the population from their homes.

The current peace is exceptionally fragile, warned a United Nations report released on Thursday.

High-level corruption is rampant; militias are armed and civilians deliberately starved, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said in its report. More than half the 12-million strong population face food shortages, it said.

“The revitalized peace process has led to a fragile peace at the national level in South Sudan, the conflict having shifted to an intensification of ethnic violence at a localized level,” the report said. It accused government forces of arming local militias to attack neighboring communities.

“Deliberate starvation is clearly occurring along ethnic and political lines,” it said.


]]> <![CDATA[Over a Thousand People Paid Tribute to Hanau's Victims]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 19:44:44 -04:00 Less than 24 hours after Wednesday's far-right attacks, on Thursday evening, over one thousand people took the streets of Berlin to express their sadness, anger, and solidarity with family and friends of the nine fatal victims of the event.


‘Racism Is Poison’, Angela Merkel’s Statement on Hanau Shooting

Berliners chanted anti-fascist slogans, as they rallied in Neukolln, an area southeast of the capital and home to significant Turkish, Arab, and other German minority communities. The nine victims all had minority backgrounds, including people with Kurdish origins and Turkish citizens.

Authorities identified the criminal as Tobias Rathjen, a man with a "deeply racist mindset," who also killed his mother the same night before shooting himself.

Hanau, a commuter town close to Frankfurt nearly 600 kilometers (373 miles) southwest of Berlin, was thrown into a state of shock and mourning as authorities identified the perpetrator as Tobias Rathjen, 43, a man with a "deeply racist mindset". He killed his mother before shooting himself.


"Racism is a poison; hate is a poison. This poison exists in our society, and it's to blame for too many tragic events," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said about the events that shocked Hanau, a commuter town close to Frankfurt nearly 600 kilometers southwest of Berlin.

Gokay Sofuoglu, federal chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, a prominent organization that works to promote the interests of the country's large Turkish community, called on authorities to do more to tackle the growing threat of far-right violence.

"The declared goal of right-wing extremist terrorists and their parliamentary arm, the AfD, is to destabilize our democracy and create civil war-like conditions," he expressed referring to the far-right Alternative for Germany party. He also commented that his organization called for a parliamentary committee of inquiry to deal with right-wing terrorism and racism.

In recent years, authorities in the capital have increasingly raided shisha bars in areas like Neukolln in attempts, they say, to crack down on organized criminal gangs. Opposition voices, including some local politicians, have criticized the frequency of the police raids, and say they stigmatize entire communities.


On Thursday the premier of the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival is expected. The organizers sent a message of solidarity via Twitter with the families and friends of the victims of the attack: "With great dismay, the Berlinale learned of the fatal attack in Hanau. Our deepest sympathy goes to the victims & their families. We stand for tolerance and hospitality. We oppose violence and racism".


The President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also expressed condolences for the victims via Twitter.


]]> <![CDATA[Bolsonaro Administration Claims Murder Reduction Rate in Brazil]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 17:40:53 -04:00 The G1 website, in association with the Public Security Forum and the Center for the Study of Violence at the University of São Paulo (NEV-USP), published statistical information about a lower homicide rate in Brazil.  Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's president, and Minister Sergio Moro are now presenting this statistic variation as an accomplishment of their administration. 


Bolsonaro: ‘More and More the Indian Is a Human Being Like Us’

These results correspond with the Justice and Public Security Ministry data, a forecast that announced a decrease of 21,4% for 2019. According to G1's publication, that gauge dropped 19 %.

Despite the president's triumphalist vision, Public Security experts offer other interpretations on this topic. As the national media Brasil de Fato publishes, authorized voices explain that the reduction in homicides is hardly related to government policies.

On his profile on Twitter, Bolsonaro published: "2019, our first year of government: the lowest murder rate in the decade. We are on the right side". 


Bruno Paes Manso, NEV's researcher, points out that the decreasing tendency corresponded with the prior reduction on this indicator in Brazil in 2018 when it got reduced to 13%. According to the expert, the time-lapse credited with this indicator is not enough to be a result of the administrative measures.

"If we think in what the federal government did to control violence, it is practically null; it lost lots of time with gun possession relaxation. It also lost a lot of time trying to approve the security plan of Minister Sergio Moro. These were two initiatives that had no impact on everyday life," the expert said. 

Luis Fábio Paiva, Professor of Sociology at the Federal University of Ceara, also explains that the killing ratio between 2017, 2018, and 2019 is not sustainable because of the different circumstances every year.  The academic points out 2017 as the deadliest year because of an intense factions war, especially in Ceara state. 

Statistically, Brazil finished 2019 with 41.635 homicides, 51.558 in 2018, and an alarming number of 59.128 in 2017. 


]]> <![CDATA[Canada: 1,000 Rail Employees Laid-off Due to Railway Blockade]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 17:23:43 -04:00 Canada's passenger train service company, Via Rail, temporarily laid off 1,000 employees, while indigenous groups continue to block roads in several parts of the country.



Protests Continue Against Gas Pipeline Construction in Canada


 "The layoffs are due to the cancellation of services that have taken place in much of our passenger transportation network," the government company Via Rail reported Thursday.

Via Rail has also been forced to cancel 530 passenger trains since February 6, when protests began in Canada in support of Wet'suwet's hereditary chiefs, who oppose the construction of a natural gas pipeline through Indigenous territory.

Because of the temporary mass layoffs, and the absence of circulation of hundreds of trains, "for the last two weeks, the passenger transportation service on the Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto routes have been suspended," said the company's general director Cynthia Garneau in a statement.




For Garneau, the decisions "are unprecedented in the history of Via Rail. In the 42 years of the company's existence, it is the first time that an intercity public passenger rail service has interrupted most of its services throughout the country.

Via Rail's decisions come amid growing pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government to take action against blockages that have disrupted rail service across the country.

"We are not asking you to stop defending your communities, your rights, and your beliefs," Trudeau said in Parliament during a speech that was interrupted by booing.

"We're just asking you to be willing to work with the federal government as a partner in finding solutions."

Native leaders have expressed their support to the Coastal Gas Link pipeline construction, acknowledging it as a fundamental economic asset for the country. Still, they refuse to compromise their ancestral territories and resources, like forests or rivers. 

Meanwhile, a Wet'suwet'en hereditary chief said that "they will not meet with the federal government about their opposition to the pipeline until both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Coastal GasLink leave our territory."

Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair assured that the Trudeau government won't issue an ultimatum to remove the blockades.



]]> <![CDATA[Uruguay: Lacalle's Investiture Ceremony Alined With US Biases]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 16:23:24 -04:00 Uruguay's President-elect Luis Lacalle decided not to invite the diplomatic representatives of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to his investiture ceremony on March 1rst.


Lacalle Looks to Turn Uruguay Into Tax Haven Again

“We have taken the decision not to invite the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua to my inaugural ceremony. It’s my decision," Lacalle said.

He alleged that those countries violate the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), which refers to the governments' duty to protect and promote democracy.

Instead, Lacalle has invited Bolivia's coup-born leader Jeanine Añez, a U.S.-backed senator who proclaimed herself president of the Andean country.

Upcoming Foreign Minister Ernesto Talvi also declared that the President-elect Lacalle acknowledges opposition politician Juan Guaido as Venezuela's president. 

With these affirmations, Lacalle takes a clear political stand against the Latin American progressive movements and governments.

Nevertheless, he expressed that his administration will take advantage of Cuba's cooperation, for “Cuban doctors performed 90.000 ocular surgeries for free.”

Uruguay's Broad Front condemned Lacalle's allegations and pointed out that his declarations are a lack of respect for other countries' sovereignty.

Lacalle will assume his country's presidency as a liberal nationalist mandatary after 15 years of Leftist administrations.

]]> <![CDATA['Fare Hikes Are Not on the Agenda', Argentina's Fernandez Says]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 15:26:47 -04:00 Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez Thursday said that raising public services' fares is not currently a policy option to overcome the country's economic crisis.


IMF: Argentinian Debt 'Unsustainable', Economic Crisis Deepens

"Increasing fares is not on the current agenda," Fernandez said regarding possible options to pay the country's debt.

"I'm going to take care of the Argentines' pockets until the last minute I am in government," he added. 

Previously, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) declared that Argentina's debt was "unsustainable" and agreed to renegotiate its terms.

Fernandez's immediate goal is to review former President Mauricio Macri's fare increases and analyze the "exorbitant profits" of the companies that are being enriched by the people's pockets.

"I welcome the IMF's recognition of Argentina's position on debt processes.
If all parties show a willingness to agree, we can grow again, we will honor our commitments and we will have Argentina back on its feet."


"I want to fix Argentina's economic reality with justice and logic criteria," Fernandez said and recalled that it is important to review how public fares are related to companies' profits.

"Let's see who grabbed money over the last four years and then we will decide whether the Argentines must pay more or not," he said.

The Argentine President mentioned that he is not focused on finding the ultimate culprit of service fees that increased as much as 1,600%.

"People want me to fix the problem, not tell them who is responsible," he answered when asked about the responsibility of Macri and his economic team.

At an interview at Radio AM750, Fernandez recalled that the IMF statement on Argentina's debt was historic and "a triumph."

"For the first time, we asked them to let us make the exit plan and they told us: 'Do it'," he stressed.

]]> <![CDATA[US Imperialism in Nicaragua and the Making of Sandino ]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 12:10:08 -04:00 Nicaragua’s twentieth-century history cannot be told without placing the United States government as the main antagonist. It is their active interventions that have shaped the Central American country’s political, economic and social systems, but it is also the opposing forces to this imperialist aggression that has served as a counterbalance to writing the story of the Nicaraguan people. 

Blood of Augusto Sandino Runs Through Nicaragua's Veins: Ortega

From military invasions to economic blockades, the U.S. has set to extinguish every attempt to a left-wing alternative against the imposed 'Banana Republic' model, that U.S. transnational interests have exerted in the country ever since the 19th century.

Yet it is out of U.S. imperialism, that a figure rose in Nicaragua to become a symbol of rebellion and hope for past, current and future generations. Know as the ‘General of Free Men’, Augusto Cesar Sandino’s life and murder on Feb. 21, 1934, would shape the Central American republic.

But to understand the emergence and death of Sandino one must see that U.S. imperialism is at the heart of Nicaragua's composition as a nation.

US' “Good Men” in Nicaragua

By the nineteenth century, the U.S. was prepping itself to become the new dominant empire in the world. A newfound power that was especially felt in Latin America, a region the North Americans consider theirs by belief in the manifest destiny, which in turn was materialized in the Monroe Doctrine (1823). This way the U.S. assumed their role of self-declared caretakers of the American continent. But it wasn’t until President Theodore Roosevelt (1901 - 1909) that the reach of U.S. imperialism, in Central America specifically, would take its most modern configuration. 

With the new imperialist sense, the U.S. reaffirmed its foreign policy through Roosevelt’s 1904 Corollary, which was was an addition and interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine presented after the European naval blockade to Venezuela in 1902–1903. The corollary states that the U.S. will intervene in Latin American if the rights or property of U.S. citizens or businesses are threatened or endangered.

"Chronic wrongdoing . . . may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation," Roosevelt said in his 1904 state of the union, adding that "in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power."

Consistent with Roosevelt's foreign policy it legitimized the use of force as a means to defend the interests - in the broadest sense - of the U.S. The result was the so-called 'Banana Wars', a series of U.S. military interventions in several Latin American countries from 1898 to 1934 of which Nicaragua was one of the main victims, as the U.S. wanted to “teach” the country how to choose “good men” as leaders.

A Nation Under US Tutelage

Under the liberal government of Jose Santos Zelaya (1893 - 1909), Nicaragua would transition into a modern state. As part of his modernization program, the country made concessions to Germany and Japan for a transisthmian canal across Nicaragua. Since the U.S. had its plans set in Panama, a competing venture financed by foreign interests, was not of their liking. 

As relations with the U.S. deteriorated, civil war erupted in October 1909 when anti-government liberals joined with a group of conservatives under Juan Estrada to overthrow Zelaya. The U.S. then saw an opportunity to invade after two U.S. mercenaries serving with the rebels were captured and executed by government forces. Soon thereafter, 400 U.S. Marines landed on the Caribbean eastern city of Bluefields.

Rebel leader Juan Estrada's forces seized Managua, Nicaragua's capital and the conservative leader assumed power. U.S. Secretary of State Philander C. Knox agreed to recognize the new government, provided that U.S. demands were met. A conservative-liberal regime, headed by Estrada, was recognized by the U.S. on Jan. 1, 1911. However, Estrada’s hold on power was weak at best, sensing instability in Nicaragua once again, Knox sent Thomas C. Dawson as a “special agent” to Nicaragua. Dawson had previously overseen the U.S. invasion in the Dominican Republic. 

Debt and Lackeys Shackle Nicaragua to the US' Will

The U.S. agent assessed the political situation and reported that if elections were held, Zelaya's liberals would certainly win. To avoid an unwanted liberal victory, the U.S. pushed  Estrada to agree on a constituent assembly to get himself elected, approve a first short-term U.S. loan, among other concessions.  As political rivalries within the conservative-liberal coalition surfaced, the Minister of War General Luis Mena forced Estrada to resign, replacing him with his vice president, Adolfo Diaz.

Nicaraguan and U.S. representatives then signed a treaty on June 6, 1911, which included U.S. Government and private bank approval for the post of customs collector. In a second, short-term loan agreement, the collector general was nominated by a consortium of private banks and approved by Knox. As part of the deal, the newly appointed president Diaz handed control of the Nicaraguan national rail company and the central banking system to U.S. private firms. Although the treaty was rejected three times by the U.S. Senate as many legislations opposed the William Taft Administration's connections with large corporations, Nicaragua’s government proceeded to comply with the stipulations.

As history would have it, only US$1.5 million was obtained by Nicaragua from the US$15 million due to the non-ratification of the treaty, but truly only US$100,000 reached Nicaragua and to the pockets of private bankers to form the National Bank. The rest of the money stayed in New York's banking system while the collateral for the loans came from Nicaragua’s customs revenues, railways, and shipping industry.

The main purpose of the 1912 occupation was to impede the construction of an inter-oceanic canal, though their stated objective was to promote democracy in this country.

By mid-1912, Minister of War Luis Mena persuaded the constituent assembly to name him successor to Diaz when the president’s term expired in 1913. Diaz then asked the U.S. government to intervene to “secure” the property of U.S. citizens. When the U.S. refused to recognize the decision, Mena began a revolt to seize power.  

In August 1912, a force of around 2,700 United States marines once again landed at the ports of Corinto and Bluefields; Mena fled the country. This gave way to the U.S. occupation which lasted almost continually until 1933. Although reduced to 100 in 1913, the contingent stayed as a reminder of the willingness of the U.S. to use force and quickly intervene to preserve its interests in the country. With U.S. tutelage, conservative governments ruled until 1925 without any major mishaps, especially as the country assumed a quasi-protectorate status under the 1916 Bryan–Chamorro Treaty. This was a revised version of the 1914 Castillo-Knox Treaty, which gave the U.S. the right to intervene in Nicaragua to protect its interests. 

The modified version omitted the intervention clause but gave the U.S. exclusive rights to build an interoceanic canal across Nicaragua. As the Panama Canal was inaugurated in 1913, the Nicaraguan agreement served to impede any potential foreign countries, mainly Germany or Japan, to building another canal in Central America. Also for 99 years, Nicaragua leased the Corn Islands to the U.S. and gave them the right to establish, operate and maintain a naval base anywhere in the Gulf of Fonseca; both concessions would be subject exclusively to the laws and U.S. sovereignty.

The Occupation Doesn't End, Just Changes

By 1924, a moderate conservative, Carlos Solorzano was elected president presenting a coalition ticket with liberal Juan Bautista Sacasa as his vice president, although he ended up purging all liberals from his government. Solorzano then requested that the U.S. stay to build a national military force, which would be the National Guard. After deciding it was “safe” to leave the Central American nation, the remaining Marines were withdrawn after a thirteen-year occupation on Aug. 3, 1925. 

Not even a month after the occupation forces left, former conservative president (1917 -1921) General Emiliano Chamorro launched a coup d'état, forcing Solorzano and Sacasa to flee the country, and proclaimed himself president on January 1926. The political situation broke into a civil war by May, as exiled liberal forces landed in the Caribbean port of Bluefields.

Fearing the new round of conservative-liberal violence and mainly worrying that the infighting in Nicaragua might result in a liberal victory as it happened a few years earlier in Mexico, the U.S. invaded Nicaragua once again. A peace was brokered by the U.S. between liberal and conservative factions in October 1926. Chamorro resigned and the Nicaraguan Congress elected former president (1911- 1916) Alfonso Diaz to serve as head of state once again. 

Yet due to Chamorro’s resignation, his vice president liberal Sacasa returned from exile from Guatemala and declared himself Constitutional President of Nicaragua from Puerto Cabezas on Dec. 1, 1926, only recognized by Mexico who was providing weapons to the liberal army.

Thousands of liberal soldiers made their way towards Managua led by General Jose Maria Moncada, winning key battles along the way. In January 1927, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge lifted the arms embargo on the Nicaraguan government, allowing his country to legally provide military aid to the conservatives. Coolidge then sent politician Henry Stimson to negotiate an end to the war. On May 20, 1927, both factions agreed to sign the truce known as the Pact of Espino Negro, under the conditions that Diaz would remain president until a new, U.S.-supervised election in 1928, both sides would disarm ending the Constitutionalist War, and a new National Guard would be established.

Sacasa left the country since he refused to sign, as did another liberal leader, Augusto Cesar Sandino.

The ‘General of Free Men’ Rises 

The illegitimate son of a wealthy landowner of Spanish descent and an Indigenous servant of the Sandino family, young Sandino was the definition of the mestizo identity in Latin America. From an early age, he saw and lived the disparities between the wealthy elites and the working-class people of his country. 

Although he lived with his mother until nine years old, his father then took into his home and arranged his education and well being. As a young adult, Sandino witnessed the U.S. invasion of Nicaragua in 1912 and the power struggle between the conservative elites. But it was at the age of 26 in 1921 that his life took a turn, as he tried to kill the son of a rich conservative townsman who had insulted his mother. Afterward, he had to flee and went to Honduras, Guatemala and eventually settled in Mexico. Influenced by the ideals of the Mexican Revolution, during his three-year stay in Tampico, Mexico, Sandino acquired a strong sense of Nicaraguan nationalism, strongly embraced his Indigenous heritage and took on an anti-imperialist stance. 

In 1926, his father urged him to come back, Sandino returned and settled in the northern department of Nueva Segovia. He took a job at the San Albino gold mine owned by a U.S. firm, where he organized the mine workers and taught them about social inequalities and the need to change the political system and soon after the civil war erupted. Parallel to Moncada’s liberal army, Sandino organized a rebel force consisting mostly of peasants and workers to fight against the conservative regime of Chamorro for the liberals. After the U.S. intervention ended the war with the Pact of Espino Negro, Sandino refused to order his followers to surrender their weapons and returned with them to the Segovia Mountains.

Sandino, called Moncada a traitor vendepatria (nation-seller) and denounced the foreign intervention, reorganized his forces as the Army for the Defense of Nicaraguan Sovereignty (Ejercito Defensor de la Soberanía de Nicaragua-EDSN) and led a new counter-offensive against the ruling elite and the U.S. empire that backed them. He declared war on the U.S., which he called the "the enemy of our race," referring to the Latin Americans. 

"I will not abandon my resistance until the...pirate invaders...assassins of weak peoples ...are expelled from my country...I will make them realize that their crimes will cost them, dear...There will be bloody combat...Nicaragua shall not be the patrimony of Imperialists," Sandino said in 1928.

Venezuelan Communist Leader Gustavo Machado with the flag of the U.S. invaders that was taken by the Sandinistas in the heroic combat of El Zapote on May 14, 1928.

As the general and his forces gained international notoriety, the U.S. grew more annoyed by the fact that they couldn’t capture him. On Jan. 20 1928 Rear Admiral David F. Sellers, Commander of the U.S. Special Service Squadron operating against the forces of Sandino in Nicaragua, wrote to the general demanding his surrender, arrogantly ordering him to stop the fighting in the Nueva Segovia department, especially against U.S. forces and mining companies from the U.S., alluding to the Espino Negro accords and the fact the U.S. would intervene in Nicaragua based on the agreements. 

“The only way to put an end to this struggle is the immediate withdrawal of the forces invading our country, at the same time replacing the current President with a Nicaraguan citizen who is not among the candidates for the Presidency and that representatives from Latin America supervise the elections instead of North American marines,” Sandino proudly responded. 

With the popular and rural support, Sandino’s forces grew both in number and strength, inflicting important losses to the U.S. Marines who never captured the ‘General of Free Men’. But most importantly showing the world that a group of peasants could face the "Colossus of the North," as he referred to them. After a year-long exile in 1929 in Mexico, where he desperately looked for foreign support, he returned to Nicaragua to continue his fighting to face an internal enemy as well. 

As the support within the U.S. for the Nicaragua occupation faded and the Great Depression (1929) made overseas military expeditions too costly for the U.S in January 1931 Henry Stimson, then-Secretary of State announced that all U.S. soldiers in Nicaragua would leave following general elections and that newly created and U.S.-commanded Nicaraguan National Guard would take over responsibility for the fighting. In the 1932 elections liberal and former vice president, Juan Bautista Sacasa won and was installed as head of state on Jan. 2, 1933.

As the U.S. withdrawal loomed close, the U.S. Ambassador Matthew Hanna and General Moncada had their trusted ally Anastasio Somoza Garcia named as director of the National Guard, the most important power in Nicaragua’s political scene. Somoza Garcia was born in Nicaragua’s elite, being the son of a rich coffee landowner. He attended school in Philadelphia and was trained by U.S. Marines, thus developing strong ties with the military, economic, and political figures of the U.S. 

With US Invaders Gone, A Dictator is Placed

U.S. troops left Nicaragua in January 1933 as Franklin D Roosevelt invoked his new Good Neighbor policy ending 40 years of direct military intervention in the region. The Marines passed control of the 4,000 enlisted National Guard troops to Somoza Garcia. With the occupying forces gone Sandino agreed to talk with Sacasa’s government. In February 1934, negotiations began. During their meetings, the liberal administration offered Sandino a general amnesty as well as land and safeguards for him and his guerrilla forces to stop the fighting still raging between the guerrilla forces and the National Guard. 

Sandino, who regarded the Somoza’s forces as unconstitutional because of its ties to the U.S. military, insisted on the guard's dissolution, yet he pledged his support for the president and agreed to order his forces to surrender their weapons within three months. 

Somoza saw in Sandino a strong force that could affect his hunger for power later on. So on Feb. 21, 1934, as the General of Free Men left the presidential palace after having dinner with Sacasa, Somoza Garcia gave orders to kill Sandino, without the president’s approval. 

Sandino, his brother and two of his most trusted generals were arrested by National Guard officers, they were then taken to the airfield, executed, and buried in unmarked graves in Larreynaga. The Nicaraguan president, despite his disapproval, was too weak to contain the National Guard director. After Sandino's murder, the National Guard launched a ruthless campaign against the EDSN, and in about a month, Sandino's army was destroyed. 

As Sacasa’s popularity and power diminished, Somoza Garcia took advantage of pushing the president to resign by June 6, 1936, an interim president was elected by Congress until elections were held. In December, Somoza was elected president by a margin of 107,201 votes to 108, “an implausibly high margin that could have been obtained only through massive fraud.” 

On Jan. 1, 1937, he took office and also the role of director of the National Guard, combining the roles of president and chief of the military. The military dictatorship was established and a U.S.-backed dynasty under the Somoza family that would last four decades. 

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: Teachers, Students, Truck Drivers on Demonstrations]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 13:53:46 -04:00 Colombia's largest cities Friday are the scene of protests against President Ivan Duque performed by students, teachers, and truck drivers. 


Colombia: Colonel Involves General in Extrajudicial Killings

Initially, truck drivers' claims were motivated by restrictions on vehicular traffic in Bogota, a city that limited the circulation of trucks to those vehicles below 20 years of use. 

Although such a policy has environmental protection objectives, it represents the disablement of some vehicles, which harms trucker’s livelihoods.

The Colombian Association of Student Representatives (Acrees) president Jose Cardenas announced that public and private colleges will join the unions' demonstrations. 

The Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode) requests more guarantees to protect teachers' lives given that more than a thousand teachers had been murdered over the last 30 years.

“Eleven educators were killed in 2018 and 14 in 2019. So far this year one teacher was murdered in Arauca”, Cardenas said.

Besides demanding the accomplishment of prior agreements, the Colombian citizens are asking President Ivan Duque to renegotiate the truck's circulation measures. 

According to Fecode president Nelson Alarcon, more than 300 thousand professors will participate in the demonstrations in Bogota and in other cities such as Bucaramanga, Cali, and Medellin.  

]]> <![CDATA['The Disqualification Is a Blow to Democracy', Evo Morales Says]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 12:01:01 -04:00 At a press conference held in Buenos Aires (Argentina) on Friday, Bolivia's former President Evo Morales rejected the decision of his country's Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) to disqualify him and his former Foreign Minister Diego Pary for the upcoming May elections.


Bolivia's Electoral Body Disqualifies Evo Morales' Candidacy

"Unfortunately, the TSE does not allow free, healthy, and transparent elections. That is what it seems," the leader of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) said.

Morales also asked the Bolivian coup-born regime not to destroy the political, economic, and social institutions built during the last decade.

"You can do whatever you want with me, but don't destroy democracy,' the Socialist leader said.

The TSE president Salvador Romero Thursday announced the disqualification of Morales' candidacy for a seat in the Senate, for he had not "sufficiently" proved his permanent residence in Bolivia.

This disqualification was a foreseeable event in a country where the self-proclaimed President Jeanine Añez is complying with Washington's agenda. Therefore, Morales directly accused the United States.

“We meet all the requirements. Instructed by the U.S. embassy, they did not approve the legality,” he said and warned that “the People is mobilized and organized. We will continue to fight for our sovereignty and dignity.”

The meme's photo presents Bolivian electoral authorities announcing the disqualification of Evo Morales and Diego Pary as candidates for senators.

At the press conference, Morales' Lawyer Raul Salvador also highlighted the arbitrary and illegal nature of the Bolivian Electoral Court's decision.

"These decisions violate Bolivia's Electoral Law. They are irrational interpretations," he stressed.​​​​​​​

Although Diego Pary's candidacy was also rejected, the Bolivian TSE did not disqualify Luis Arce, a Socialist politician who will compete as MAS presidential candidate in the May 3 elections.

According to a survey released on Feb. 16, Arce is the favorite to win the elections as he has 31.6 percent of the vote intention. ​​​​​​​His closest rival, Carlos Mesa, would receive 17.1 of the votes.

Only 16.5 percent of the Bolivians would vote for Jeanine Añez, who said that she would not be a candidate when she seized power through a U.S.-backed coup d'etat in Nov. 2019.

]]> <![CDATA[The 2020 Africa Climate Week to Face Paris Agreement Challenges]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 12:53:09 -04:00 People from all over the world are expected to participate in the 2020 Africa Climate Week (ACW), which is to be held in Kampala, Uganda, to discuss ways to implement the Paris Agreement.


2010-2019: The Decade Confirming Global Climate Change

"We must show the world is capable of working together to tackle our most urgent challenges," the High-Level Champions for Climate Action participant Nigel Topping said.

The ACW seeks that representatives from the public and private sectors share ways to further implement the Paris Agreement, which hopes to strengthen countries' capacities to cope with the effects of climate change.

"We must ensure that governments respond, design and implement increasingly ambitious national climate action strategies," declared Topping, who was appointed by the U.K. government as its representative to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP-26) in Glasgow.


Africa's young people are being educated on climate issues as their countries' economies are growing. "They are committed and eager to boost development across the continent," Muñoz said.

He added that the event will be a key opportunity for the people of the region to become global leaders in green growth and to provide the continent's youth with the cutting-edge opportunities they desire. 

Under the theme, 'Partnering for Transformation towards a Low-carbon Climate-resilient and Prosperous Africa: Managing Risks, Seizing Opportunities', Africa Regional Week will take place from April 20 to 24.

The event in Kampala will be followed by "climate weeks" in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean, and Middle East and North Africa regions

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuelan Parliament Reinstates Committee to Choose New CNE]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 00:46:40 -04:00 The deputies of the Bloque de la Patria and of the Venezuelan opposition in the National Assembly announced that the period of nominations for the Preliminary Commission that will choose the members of the new National Electoral Council (CNE) will soon be over.


Maduro Announces Measures to Defend Venezuela’s Oil Industry

The preliminary committee was installed last December, but the elections of the new directive of the National Assembly on January 5th and the refusal of the deputy Juan Guaido to accept his defeat against another opposition sector, blocked the work of the group.

The deputy to the National Assembly for 'Primero Justicia' (PJ) party, Angel Medina, stressed that the commission responsible for evaluating the candidates received 73 applications from 68 social organizations from different sectors throughout the country.

"Today we are here reuniting efforts. We are resuming the work together. We want to unlock the crisis and for this, the new CNE is a fundamental step," Medina said. He also highlighted the political will of the opposition sectors gathered at the dialogue sessions with the Bolivarian Government.

Julio Chávez: the government of President @NicolasMaduro  welcomes the meetings that are being held based on the proposed dialogue

For his part, the representative of the Bloque de la Patria and deputy of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Julio Chavez, said that the meeting between the opposition and the ruling party took place in cordial terms from the Federal Legislative Palace in Caracas.

Both delegations informed that next Wednesday, February 26th, they will reveal the names of the 10 men and women who will make up the Council of Nominations for the new CNE.

Chavez stressed that the Bloque de la Patria recognizes and respects the Venezuelan opposition gathered in the dialogue: "We are aligned by virtue of the progress made at the Dialogue Table. We are ready to finish refreshing the electoral power."

The road to dialogue

The National Dialogue Sessions were installed last September with the participation of the Bolivarian Government and some sectors of its political opposition.

President Nicolás Maduro has reiterated, on several occasions, his commitment to compliance with the agreements established in the dialogue.

The release, by the Attorney General's Office, of 24 citizens involved in crimes in the context of the 2014 and 2017 protests against the legitimate Government of Venezuela, is one of the steps taken by the Executive as a sign of wanting to guarantee peace in the country.

The members of the Dialogue Sessions seek to solve the political frictions and overcome the economic crisis generated by the commercial blockade imposed by the United States through sanctions that attack the stability and sovereignty of the South American country.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexican Senator Accuses Mine CEO of Digging Tomb for Workers]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 00:23:11 -04:00 Mexican mining union leader and senator for the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party Napoleon Gomez Urrutia accused businessman German Larrea of being responsible for the Pasta de Conchos mine blast, where 65 miners died.

'Greed Brought the Brumadinho Dam Tragedy in Brazil' Lula Says

Larrea was accused of not making the necessary efforts to rescue the victims, going against the guild's criteria as the search ceased when there were still hopes that those miners were alive. The businessman denies any wrong doing.

Gomez Urrutia denounced that the Pasta de Conchos concession was now being given away 14 years after the blast because Larrea, the head of Grupo Mexico and one of Mexico’s richest billionaires, only seeks to evade his responsibility in the tragedy.

Along with other senators from the MORENA party and members of the Union's Executive Committee, Gomez Urrutia stated that they contiue demanding decent and fair compensations, as well as the investigations to be reactivated in order to determine the responsibility of Grupo Mexico mining corporation and the government of Vicente Fox, who allegedly covered up the chain of interests and the corruption.

The Pasta de Conchos mine blast took place in northern Coahuila state.

The mine was operated by Grupo Mexico, one of Latin America’s largest miners. 

A special prosecutor for the case blamed Grupo Mexico for allowing a deadly mix of methane, heat and oxygen to build up in the mine, failing to build proper ventilation shafts or to neutralize explosive coal dust. Government inspectors who failed to enforce the necessary safety precautions were also implicated.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia's Electoral Body Disqualifies Evo Morales' Candidacy ]]> Thu, 20 Feb 2020 20:43:33 -04:00 The president of the Supreme Electoral Court of Bolivia (TSE) Salvador Romero informed that the former President Evo Morales will not be able to participate in the 2020 general elections, which will be held on May 3.

Morales' Candidacy in Peril as Electoral Body Ponders Ineligibility

During a press conference, Romero told reporters that Morales did not meet the permanent residency requirements to be a Senate candidate for his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, which is currently leading in the polls.

The candidacy of former Chancellor Diego Pary, as the candidate of the MAS party for senator in the Potosi region, was also disqualified on the same grounds.

However, the electoral body dismissed the observations against the presidential candidate by MAS party Luis Arce and enabled his candidacy.

Morales on his Twitter account wrote that the decision taken by the TSE was "a blow against democracy."

"The decision of the  Supreme Electoral Court is a blow against democracy. The members of the TSE know that I meet all the requirements to be a candidate. The ultimate goal is the proscription of MAS."

The sentence of the Bolivian electoral body comes two days after the MAS party declared itself in a "state of emergency," due to the alleged political attempt of "embedded sectors" in the body to "eliminate" its candidates under interests that they described as "undemocratic."

Meanwhile, Arce, who was Minister of Economy and Finance during the Morales administration, is the favorite to win the presidency according to the most recent poll by the research firm Ciesmori. Arce leads the vote with 31.6%, followed by former president Carlos Mesa with 17.1%, de-facto president Jeanine Añez with 16.5% and Luis Camacho with 9.6%.



]]> <![CDATA[Cuba Thanks Caricom for Condemning the US Blockade]]> Thu, 20 Feb 2020 20:56:04 -04:00 Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez thanked the heads of Governments of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) for their condemnation of the tightening of the U.S. blockade against Cuba.

Caricom Calls For Resilient Caribbean Community

"I thank the heads of Government of #CARICOM for their condemnation of the tightening of the #US blockade against #Cuba and against the enforcement of the Helms-Burton Act," Rodriguez wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday night.

He also acknowledged the regional bloc's gratitude for Cuba's medical cooperation that has for years contributed to their peoples' wellbeing.

At the conclusion of the CARICOM meeting in Barbados, the Caribbean leaders repeated their concern over the sanctions announced by the U.S. Government regarding the enforcement of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which tightens the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.

Regarding Cuba's international medical cooperation, they condemned the smear campaign launched by the United States against it.

]]> <![CDATA[Oil Workers Temporarily Suspend Strike in Brazil]]> Thu, 20 Feb 2020 20:26:20 -04:00 In Brazil, oil workers suspended their strike Thursday after 19 days, while state oil company Petrobras promised to start a round of negotiations with the unions.

Brazil: 20,000 Oil Workers on Strike to Halt Privatization Plan

The decision was taken after a council of the Single Federation of Oil Tankers (FUP) meeting and they warned that if negotiations with the state oil company do not meet the demands of the workers, the union will resume the strike again.

The FUP said that the decision to interrupt the strike also corresponds to the progress in Petrobras' management regarding the negotiations with the workers, however they expressed that “the fight does not stop, the struggle is continuous.”

They also said that the negotiations will take place under the intermediation of the Superior Labor Court (TST) and representatives of the Public Ministry of Labor.

“It was a great achievement for our oil brigade. The negotiation and the strike are in the DNA of our organization and we made it very clear that our collective agreement was being violated and that we have to negotiate in some area," Petrobras' union leader, Tadeu Porto, said.

The FUP also called to defend Petrobras, since that means fighting for national sovereignty, labor rights defense for Brazilians, industrial and technological development as well as environmental security and energy sovereignty.

The strike against Petrobras executive board began on Feb. 1 as a protest for the massive lay-off that was carried out despite a collective convention reached between the workers and the head of the state-owned oil company.

Workers' union denounced the mass dismissal of at least a thousand workers, which Petrobras executive board denied by admitting the responsibility “only” for 400 affected employees. The divergence in figures is something that continues to be debated between the two sides.


]]> <![CDATA[IMF's Georgieva: "Uncertainty Is Becoming the New Normal" ]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 01:43:41 -04:00 The managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, warned in the emirate city of Dubai that the growth of the world economy, estimated at 3.3 percent by 2020, could be reduced between 0, 1 percent and 0.2% percent for the coronavirus outbreak.


IMF: Argentinian Debt 'Unsustainable', Economic Crisis Deepens

Georgieva explained that the epidemic could have a negative effect on global growth depending on China's ability to avoid its spread, therefor she asked not to draw "hasty conclusions." Even so, she acknowledged that the tourism and transport sectors, among others, have already been affected by the epidemic.

In a note for G20 finance ministers and central bankers, the global lender mapped out many risks facing the worldwide economy, including the disease and a renewed spike in United States-China trade tensions, as well as climate-related disasters, Al Jazeera reported.

"Uncertainty is becoming the new normal," Georgieva wrote in a blog posted on the IMF website. "While some uncertainties - like disease - are out of our control, we should not create new uncertainties where we can avoid it."

However, she declared in US television that the most likely scenario was a sharp decline in activities in China given the epidemic situation, followed by a rapid recovery and a relatively limited global impact.

Georgieva also urged G20 policymakers to act to reduce trade tensions, mitigate climate change and tackle persistent inequality. Cyber attacks, an escalation of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East or a breakdown in trade talks between China and the US could impede the short-term global recovery, the IMF stated.

Climate-related disasters, protectionism, and social and political unrest triggered by persistent inequality posed further economic risks.

]]> <![CDATA[Femicide of Peruvian Activist Solsiret Rodriguez Still Unsolved]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 01:24:04 -04:00 Three years and a half after the feminist activist Solsiret Rodriguez' femicide, the Prosecutor's Office of Peru asked for preventive detention against the confessed authors Andrea Aguirre and Kevin Villanueva, her friend and ex-brother-in-law, respectively.


Suspects in Fatima Femicide Case Arrested in Mexico

Callao provincial prosecutor Jimmy Mansilla announced Thursday that he will request nine months of pretrial detention against Aguirre and Villanueva as alleged co-authors of the qualified homicide.

The Prosecutor's Office indicated that their confessions involved forensic expertise and the lifting of the secrecy of the communications of the defendants. Evidence made possible to argue that in August 2016, Aguirre, sentimentally related to Villanueva at that time, would have pushed the victim during an argument and would have caused her death, after which she called the other accused to cut off the body and try to get rid of it.

The main question is how was it possible that for years authorities not only refused to investigate what happened, but accused the activist of having "abandoned" her family.

Today we will make common strength for the justice that #Solsiret deserves. To the incompetent, indifferent and inhuman authorities, we will face the great damage caused by their actions, omissions, but above all their prevailing machismo. See you

Feminist organizations protested on Thursday outside the National Directorate of Criminalistics (Dirincri) in Lima, demanding effectiveness of the judicial process surounding Rodríguez femicide.

In light of the national outrage for the ineffectiveness of the justice system, prejudices and disinterest of the authorities in dealing with gender violence in the country, Interior Minister, Carlos Moran, apologized personally to Solsiret's parents on behalf of the State "for the negligence and insensitivity shown by the political and police authorities who did not investigate the disappearance of his daughter in 2016".

In this matter, Moran also expressed empathy for "the indignation of the family for this punishable negligence of some police officers and even the Interior Minister at the time, who did not have proactivity or sensitivity to boost research."

Still some doubts…

However, Solsiret Rodríguez's death still raises eyebrows. She disappeared in 2016 from the house shared with her two children, her partner, Brian Villanueva his parents, and his twin brother, Kevin Villanueva.

The fiscal thesis suggests that even when Andrea Aguirre had the help of Kevin Villanueva to dismember and get rid of the body, as indicated by relatives of Solsiret, there could have been also the involvement of other inhabitants of the house in this crime.

Her husband, Brian, never looked for Solsiret and reported her disappearance to the police as "abandonment of the home", a complaint that authorities collected and even defended while the parents of the victim asked them to investigate more. Solsiret's in-laws, who remained in the care of her children, also supported this thesis and did not contribute to the investigations.

For the lawyer of the Rodríguez Aybar family, as he said in statements to Peruvian television, it is clear that "there are more involved" in this case.

]]> <![CDATA[New Mexico Federal Judge Files Lawsuit Against Google]]> Thu, 20 Feb 2020 18:40:27 -04:00 Once again giant tech company Google is under a legal suit, this time filed by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. The lawsuit allegates that Google acquired personal information from school children in the state violating their privacy rights.

UK Google Users to Lose EU Data Protection Due to Brexit

The magistrate expressed that the company violated the Federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act by collecting information of students under 13 years of age, without parental consent, through the use of its suite of products such as Gmail, Calendar and Drives.

This is the second time the federal judge starts a legal process against Google. Two years ago Balderas filed a similar lawsuit against the tech giant and few other companies arguing illegal data collection from mobile apps made for children. The accused part has denied any wrongdoing, and the case awaits a decision by a federal judge.

Google’s YouTube video service was asked in September, last year, to pay $170 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations that broke federal law by collecting personal information about children.

Social media companies have been facing regulatory scrutiny globally over their policies and data monitoring practices particularly for children. Earlier this month, Facebook Inc said it plans to add new tools and features for parental control in its messaging app for users under the age of 13.

]]> <![CDATA[Europe's Human Rights Watchdog Opposes Assange's Extradition]]> Thu, 20 Feb 2020 18:29:52 -04:00 WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States because it would have a chilling effect on press freedom, a European human rights chief said on Thursday.

Jailed Wikileaks Founder Assange's Health Improving: Spokesman

Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, said Assange’s case raised questions about the protection of people who publish classified information in the public interest, exposing human rights violations.

“The broad and vague nature of the allegations against Julian Assange, and of the offences listed in the indictment, are troubling as many of them concern activities at the core of investigative journalism in Europe and beyond,” she said.

“Consequently, allowing Julian Assange’s extradition on this basis would have a chilling effect on media freedom, and could ultimately hamper the press in performing its task as purveyor of information and public watchdog in democratic societies.”

Mijatovic said she was also concerned about detention conditions in the United States and about the sentence likely to be imposed on Assange. He could spend decades in prison if convicted.

British shadow chancellor John McDonnell also expressed his opposition against Assange's extradition on Thursday, after a two-hour visit in the activist's Belmarsh prison in London.

“I think this is one of the most important and significant political trials of this generation,” he said, reported The Guardian. “In fact, longer. I think it is the Dreyfus case of our age, the way in which a person is being persecuted for political reasons for simply exposing the truth of what went on in relation to recent wars.”

Assange’s WikiLeaks website made global headlines in early 2010 when it published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a dozen people.

Since then, the website has published a vast amount of secret U.S. diplomatic cables and other confidential documents.

]]> <![CDATA[18 Chilean Films to Compete for the 'Golden Bear' in Berlin]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 08:54:17 -04:00 Chile became Thursday the first Latin American country to participate in the European Film Market (EFM), an event which is part of the celebration of the Berlin film festival, "the Berlinale."


Chile: 3,765 Injured,10,000 Detained Protesters Since October

The 70th edition of the prestigious international event, in which Chile will participate in the "Focus Country" section, is one of the best places to promote Latin American films.

One of them is Indigenous voices in Chilean cinema, which explore issues of resistance, identity, and solidarity, as recently explained by the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage.

"The Tango of the Widower and its Distorting Mirror", by directors Raul Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento, will be the first of about 20 Chilean films brought by the nearly 70 independent film professionals and producers from the Latin American nation invited to the event.

This feature film is one of the most anxiously awaited premieres by the world's film community, according to CinemaChile, the sectorial brand of the foreign trade agency ProChile.

Chilean producers are on the catalog's cover of the European Film Market of the Berlin Film Festival, the Berlinale 

The Chilean films that will compete for "the Golden Bear" are 18, six of which are directed by women. The international jury is presided over by British actor Jeremy Irons.

"Chile's participation in the market has grown a lot because of the wonderful work of the industry and the quality of the films. Also because of the energy, the great ideas and the expansion of Chilean cinema in Latin America and Europe," the EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knol noted.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The Berlin Film Festival will pay tribute to the victims of the shootings that took place in two bars​​​​​​​ at Hanau city on Wednesday, as the Berlinale organizers said.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[China Reacts to Wall Street Journal's Discriminatory Article]]> Fri, 21 Feb 2020 10:19:29 -04:00 China's Foreign Minister spokesman Geng Shuang stated that his country is not threatening freedom of expression by revoking the credentials of three reporters of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).​​​​​​


China: 'Venezuelan Oil Sales Are Legal and Should Be Respected'

On Feb. 3, the WSJ published an article whose title says, "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia", which has been appreciated as a racist opinion by the Chinese people​​​​​​​.

In addition to this, Geng pointed out that the WSJ article underestimates China's effort to eradicate the Covid-19 outbreak.

"The Wall Street Journal published an article filled with aggressions, which also denigrates China, alongside a title with a racist touch… Could it be that the publishing of such a discriminatory article, which publicly insults an independent country and its people, is freedom of speech?" Geng stressed.​​​​​​​

Given that the WSJ did not apologize for an article spreading discriminatory propaganda against the Asian country, the Chinese authorities considered that the ​​​​​​offended ones have the right to respond.

As a result, Josh Chin, Chao Deng, and Philip Wen Han, who are the WSJ reporters related to the article, must leave the Chinese territory, for their credentials were revoked on Feb. 19. 

China asked the U.S.-based outlet to “recognize the seriousness of the error, openly and formally apologize, and investigate and punish those responsible, while retaining the need to take further measures against the newspaper,” Geng said, as reported by the WSJ.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Portugal: Parliament Approves the 'Death With Dignity' Right]]> Thu, 20 Feb 2020 15:55:40 -04:00 Despite protests from fundamentalist religious groups, Portugal's Parliament Thursday took the first step in favor of the decriminalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.


Chile Proposes 'Passive Euthanasia' With Fresh Bill

In 2018, the "anticipation of death" bill was rejected by just five votes. On this occasion, however, the Portuguese parliament analyzed five different bills on the same subject.

Among the main proposals were those presented by the Left Bloc, the Socialist Party, the Ecological Party, the People-Animals-Nature (PAN) party and the Liberal Initiative, each of which had its own bill.

The decision was taken in the middle of an intense and politicized debate, which has been taking place both inside and outside the parliamentary precinct.

According to a recent survey, 70 percent of Portuguese doctors are in favor of euthanasia being decriminalized, an opinion which many citizens also share.

Euthanasia does not force you to die. Abortion does not force you to abort. Divorce does not force you to divorce. Equal marriage does not force you to marry an LGBT person. I have the right to choose what concerns me! The meme reads, "Euthanasia. Nobody has to be in favor of, or against, a decision that only the interested one has to make. The State has to legislate and regulate the procedures."

“I am Catholic but I do not share the Church's opinion. We have come [to this world] to live, not to suffer. If people are suffering psychologically so much that they don't want to live anymore, I am nobody to tell them to keep on living," Lola, a Portuguese woman, said.

“I will continue fighting to say that we have the right to a decent life, with more health resources. We have the right to decide whether we want to live or not," she added.

To effectively enter into force, however, the law of euthanasia must also be sanctioned by Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a conservative politician who could veto the new norm.

In Europe, the Netherlands was the first country to decriminalize "medically assisted death" in 2002. It was followed by Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.

]]> <![CDATA[France: Tenth Day of National Protests Against Pension Reform]]> Thu, 20 Feb 2020 13:56:44 -04:00 The French unions are carrying out the tenth day of a general strike against the bill for the pension reform proposed by President Emmanuel Macron.


France to Impose More Controls on Mosques in Its Territory

"We will not give up because we are convinced of the correctness of our analysis. This project will be a danger in the coming decades," the Labor Force (FO) secretary Yves Veyrier said.

On Feb. 17, Macron handed his bill to the National Assembly, where his party, the Republic in March (LREM), has a large majority. Its first vote is scheduled for early March.

Today's strike is actively supported by teachers, health workers, lawyers, and railroad personnel. There are also demonstrations in different cities where citizens demand the total withdrawal of the bill.

Through the new law, President Macron seeks to merge 42 different pension schemes into a single pension system. These schemes offer early retirement and other benefits to some public sector workers, lawyers, physiotherapists, employees of the Paris Opera, and other professionals.

After several weeks of intense demonstrations, the French government withdrew its proposal to increase the minimum retirement age to 64 years, an issue that caused outrage among citizens.

Nevertheless, Macron insists on making changes to the pension system to achieve what he calls a "more equitable and solvent" retirement system.

French workers hold that the proposed reforms would force the population to work longer for a smaller pension, which would be a setback of their rights.