teleSUR English ES Sun, 22 Sep 2019 13:57:19 -04:00 teleSUR English <![CDATA[Young Climate Activists Held World Leaders Accountable at UN]]> Sun, 22 Sep 2019 13:57:17 -04:00 Young climate change activists delivered a strong message to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Saturday: If elected officials do not take strong actions to combat climate change, they will be voted out of office.


Thousands Join World Climate Strike as UN Summit Approaches

Guterres gave around 500 youth activists the floor at the U.N.'s first youth climate change summit, an informal event aimed at connecting young activists and entrepreneurs with global leaders to build support for technological and policy solutions to combat climate change ahead of the official Climate Action Summit Monday.

Emboldened by Friday's global climate strike, in which millions of young people and adults from Australia to Iceland took off from school or work to demand urgent measures to stop environmental catastrophe, youth activists told Guterres that world leaders who will attend the UN climate summit Monday cannot ignore the outpouring of youth action, anger and fear.

"We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable," said Greta Thunberg, the 16-year old Swedish climate change activist who inspired the global action through her solitary protests outside the Swedish Parliament last year.

Fijian climate change activist Komal Karishma Kumar complained that world leaders have been negotiating climate change treaties since 1992 without achieving greenhouse gas emission reductions. "We will hold you accountable," she said. "And if you do not remember we will mobilize to vote you out."

 Bruno Rodriguez, 19, from Argentina  said that "climate and ecological crisis" is the "political, economic and cultural crisis of our time.”

"Many a time, we hear that our generation is going to be the one in charge of dealing with the problems that current leaders have created, and we will not wait passively to become that future: the time is now for us to be leaders," Rodriguez said

The secretary-general ditched his usual tie for an open collar and served as the "keynote listener," sitting beside the young activists in colorful chairs in the U.N.'s trusteeship room.

After their speeches, he urged the young activists to keep the pressure on.

"Hold my generation accountable. My generation has largely failed until now to preserve both justice in the world and the planet," he said.

]]> <![CDATA[Iran to Present Regional Security Cooperation Plan at UNGA]]> Sun, 22 Sep 2019 13:36:26 -04:00 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday his country will present a regional cooperation security plan this week when he attends the United Nations General Assembly.


US Sends Troops to Saudi Arabia Amid Row with Iran

Rouhani said in a speech commemorating the 39th Anniversary of the Iran-Iraq War that his country extends its "hand of friendship and brotherhood" towards nations in the region willing to cooperate in overseeing security in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, vitals for the global oil industry, Al-Jazeera continued.

U.S. President Donald Trump imposed a new round of sanctions against Iran Friday, which includes Iran's Central Bank. He also announced his government will send U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia to improve their defenses after the attacks on Saudi's Aramco oil sites last week.

Reuters reports both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia accuse the Iranians of the attacks, although Yemen’s Houthi movement, a group who has been fighting the Saudis in Yemen for four years, claimed responsibility for them. 

Rouhani, who will travel to the global meeting in New York on Monday and return to Tehran on Thursday, said the presence of foreign forces in the region would create insecurity for oil and shipping. The president also warned “We are not someone who will violate the borders of others just as we will not allow anyone to violate our borders.”

The attacks on Saudi Arabia have increased tensions which were rising since Trump retreated from their 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. Since then, the U.S. has constantly applied economic pressure on Tehran, even promising to take their oil exports to zero. 

]]> <![CDATA[Egypt: Protesters Gather for 2nd Night, Clash With Police]]> Sun, 22 Sep 2019 12:53:33 -04:00 Egyptian security forces clashed with hundreds of anti-government protesters in the port city of Suez Saturday, firing tear gas and live rounds, said several residents who participated in the demonstrations.


'Rise Up, No Fear, El-Sisi Has To Leave': Egyptian Protesters

A heavy security presence was also maintained in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt's 2011 revolution, after protests in several cities called for the removal of general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Such demonstrations are rare after Egypt effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of ex-president Mohamed Morsi.

But discontent over rising prices has been swelling in Egypt, where Sisi's government has imposed strict austerity measures since 2016 as part of a US$12-billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund.

Nearly one in three Egyptians live below the poverty line on less than US$1.40 a day, according to official figures released in July.

On Saturday protesters headed to downtown Suez for the second night in a row, where they were met by security forces barricading the streets and armored vehicles.

"There were about 200 or so people. They (security forces) fired tear gas, rubber, and live bullets and there were injuries", a man who took part in the demonstration but declined to be named told AFP.

Another resident, who also preferred to remain anonymous, said the tear gas was so thick it had reached her apartment block a few kilometers away from the turbulent downtown area.

"My nose started burning up. The smell was seeping through the balcony. I also saw some youth-run and hide in our street", the woman said.

On late Friday, hundreds of Egyptians poured through the streets of Cairo, chanting slogans including "Leave, Sisi!" and demanding the "fall of the regime.”

At least 74 people were arrested after clashes between the crowds and police in the capital, a security source said. 

The protests came after Mohamed Aly, an exiled businessman and opponent of Sisi posted calls online for demonstrations against Sisi.

He upped the pressure Saturday in an expletive-filled video, imploring Egyptians to join a "million-man march" next Friday and to fill all "major squares" of the country.

"This is a people's revolution... We have to link up together as one... and organize going down to the major squares," he said in a Facebook appeal to his followers.

The construction contractor has been posting videos that have gone viral since early September, accusing Sisi and the military of rampant corruption.

The president denied the allegations last week, saying he was "honest and faithful" to his people and the military.

"I think it's safe to say that the events of the past few weeks, including the development last night, pose the most serious legitimacy crisis facing Sisi," said Nael Shama, a Cairo-based political analyst.

"No one shouted bread, freedom, social justice like in 2011, they escalated straight to 'Leave' from the first minute," Shama noted.

"This is the first time people take to the streets in many years but I am not sure it will be the last.”

Under Sisi's rule, authorities have launched a broad crackdown on dissidents, jailing thousands of Islamists as well as secular activists and popular bloggers.

The government's foreign media accreditation body released a statement late Saturday cautioning international journalists that their reporting of events "should not be exaggerated", without explicitly mentioning the protests.

]]> <![CDATA[AMLO Weighs Referendum on Legalization of Some Drugs]]> Sun, 22 Sep 2019 11:54:35 -04:00 Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday he is willing to call a national consultation on the legalization of some drugs next year, Mexican newspaper La Jornada reported. 


Fight Corruption, Stop Impunity New Plan for Mexican Govt: AMLO

The statement came at his usual morning press conference held in Merida, Yucatan after a national security meeting. He stressed that legalization would be focused on medicinal drugs.

However, the progressive president said the matter is not a priority right now since his administration is focusing on issues such as the fight against corruption, the straightening of the National Guard and social welfare. After he completes his first year in office in December, the president and his team said they would evaluate the work done so far and then make a decision.

According to Milenio news outlet, AMLO assured he understood how the decriminalization of some drugs, done from a medical point of view, is part of the process of peacemaking in Mexico, where drugs and drug cartels are a major problem.

He said he was also aware of the views on the matter are diverse and many do not want to see such a law passed, not even for medicinal drugs. Others, he said, think the origin of violence is prohibition, therefore he agrees with the idea of legalizations of some drugs, Expansion Politica reported.

Nevertheless, he reminded reporters that his administration has also launched a campaign to help young people stay away from drugs.

Lopez Obrador had previously expressed his interest in evaluating the legalization of cannabis for therapeutic, pharmaceutical and recreational purposes. Morena, his party, even presented to at the Senate an initiative on the subject.

]]> <![CDATA[Israel: Arab Parties Emerge as Key Brokers in Forming New Gov't]]> Sun, 22 Sep 2019 11:14:52 -04:00 The Arab Joint List, an alliance of Palestinian-Israeli parties, met Sunday to discuss whom to recommend as the country's new prime minister of Israel to be in charge of forming the government. They said Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party has to meet their demands if he wants their support. 


Israel: Gantz Rebuffs Netanyahu's 'Unity Gov't' Offer

The alliance adjourned their meeting without deciding whom to support and will later convene for further discussions before they meet with President Reuven Rivlin. 

The Joint List’s demand for Gantz includes freezing house demolitions in Palestinian villages, stem violence in those areas, repealing the Nation-state Law and launching negotiation with Palestinian Authority. 

Lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman asked Gantz "to change direction. This is Gantz's crucial moment — or he's an alternative, or he's Netanyahu's double."

"We are committed to our voters and the values we've been advancing all along: ending the occupation, peace, justice, and real equality,” Touma-Sliman said, adding, “These principles and the aspiration to live in dignity led some half a million voters, many of them Jewish, to cast their ballot" for the alliance. 

Rivlin began Sunday two days of consultation with political parties regarding the position of the prime minister. Tuesday’s poll showed Gantz was marginally ahead of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party. The Arab list came as the third biggest party in the Kenest with 13 seats, making it a key coalition in talks for forming a new government.

“During the elections, I called for the establishment of a rightwing government,” Netanyahu said in a video message Thursday. “But unfortunately the election results show that this is not possible.”

If consultation does not work out, Rivlin might invite Netanyahu and Gantz for more consultations. Gantz had already rebuffed Netanyahu’s offer of forming coalition Thursday. 

The president has to choose a prime minister by Oct. 2 who will then have six weeks to form a government.  

There were only narrow differences in the two main parties’ campaigns on many important issues, and an end to the Netanyahu era would be unlikely to bring significant changes in policy on relations with the United States, the regional struggle against Iran or the Palestinian conflict.

]]> <![CDATA[Rigoberto López Pérez Lives in the Memory of Nicaragua]]> Sun, 22 Sep 2019 00:01:40 -04:00 The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and members of its youth branch, the Sandinista Youth, among others, paid tribute Saturday to poet Rigoberto López Perez, who was then shot to death by security guards for took the life of dictator Anastasio Somoza Garcia.


Over 50% of Nicaraguans Endorse the Sandinista Government: Poll

The Sandinistas have placed flowers on the monument that honors national hero López Pérez since 1981, when Sandinista government first came to power. Managua mayor, Reyna Rueda said at the ceremony that "Rigoberto lives in our memories and our hearts and we are willing to defend our peace and revolution, till the end.”

“Today we promise to keep continue this government because our hero's sacrifices weren't in vain and for us, the people, we are not ready to give a millimeter to violence and aggression,” Rueda expressed later.

Celebrations for López Pérez took places across the country Saturday, including León where the 27-year-old poet killed Somoza García in 1956, as the president was campaigning. The Somoza dynasty founder died eight days later at the Gorgas Hospital.

The Somoza family ruled in Nicaragua for almost 40 years till the Sandinista Revolution triumphed in 1979. The Somoza's main crime was the assassination of revolutionary leader Augusto César Sandino, after whom the Sandanistas took their name for their revolution.

The FSLN turned 40 years old last July 19th who have decreasd poverty, expanded the national electricity grid and the decrease crime rates.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuelan Army Dismantles 'Los Rastrojos' Base In Tachira ]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 23:45:19 -04:00 Venezuelan authorities announced Saturday afternoon they had dismantled a telecommunications base of the Colombian criminal gang 'Los Rastrojos' in the state of Táchira, which borders Colombia.


Venezuela: More Evidence of Guaido Links to Paramilitaries

Venezuelan government official, Freddy Bernal said via his Twitter account that authorities and found and taken apart a major communications post of the criminal gang that was located in Loma del Viento sector in San Cristóbal. The official posted photos of the machinery that resemble small satellites that included "15 transmitters with a bandwidth of 160 MHZ to 180 MHZ used to communicate throughout Colombia."

The high-ranking official also showed images of gallons of fuel and gas. Bernel said that 2,870 liters of gas had been seized at the site that resembled and outdoor camp.  

This is the first evidence of the criminal gang to appear in Venezuela after damning photos and videos appeared this week that show self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, posing with Los Rastrojos on Feb. 22 as he left Venezuela for Cucuta, Colombia to attend the Venezuela Live Aid concert the following day.  

The #FANB under the #VenezuelaSoberaníaYPaz operation found this facility located in an improvised booth with equipment within the 160 MHz to 180 MHz bandwith with 15 signal transmissions across Colombia.

While Guaido denies any direct relationship with the ​​​​murderous paramilitary group, Ivan Posso, aka, Nandito, a high-ranking member of Los Rastrojos has confessed in a now-viral video of how his group worked directly with the Colombian government to usher Guaido out of Venezuela where he was wanted for orchestrating a failed overthrow of the government in late January.

In the video, Nandito says that the photos with Guaido with the members of Los Rastrojos were taken as a "basis for the future," so that, if the opponent took power, the gang "could move freely along the entire border without any military or government pressure" or restrictions.

Guaido says he doesn't know these criminals and that he took photos with "hundreds" of people that day.


]]> <![CDATA[At Least One Dead, Many Wounded As Protests Continue In Haiti]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 22:00:46 -04:00 At least one person died and several were injured this Friday during violent protests in the Haitian capital where the local police used tear gas, as well as rubber bullets that turned lethal in order to suppress marchers' and prevent them from reaching the National Palace.


Haitians Mobilize Again Against Fuel Shortages

Chanting anti-government slogans, marchers blame the government for a fuel shortage and the end fuel subsidies, which would result in a rising diesel prices. The gas crisis has shut down schools, public institutions and businesses across the Caribbean nation already wracked by systemic corruption.

EFE journalists report that they witnessed the death of a man and another receive wounds by state authorities. Since protests began last Monday, at least three people have been killed and 69 injured. Another 77 have been arrested.

Several opposition leaders, including Senator Youri Latortue, Moise Jean Charles of the Pitit Dessalines party and Shiller Louidor of Familia Lavalás, participated in the demonstratios against the fuel shortage that began in mid-August.

Protests have been repeated daily in Port-au-Prince and other Haitian cities since last Monday demanding the arrival of 500,000 barrels of fuel to the country promised by the government. 

The recent protests also reflect Haitians' anger at President Jovenel Moise who refuses to step down, and a Congress that will not start impeachment proceedings against the head of state who allegedly conducted a major "embezzlement scheme" where he siphoned off Venezuelan aid money to intended for road repairs across the country, according to a June report by a high court.

While Moise promised food on the table of all Haitians, the majority of the public find it hard to feed themselves as unemployment maintains at 20 percent and prices of basic consumer goods also rise.

]]> <![CDATA[Stiglitz on Argentina: 'Neoliberal Experiment Has Failed']]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 23:05:41 -04:00 Only a few days after Argentina's Congress voted to extend the Food and Nutrition Emergency (EAN) bill, professor and Nobel Prize winner in economics, Joseph Stiglitz, talked about the critical situation that the South American country faces as a consequence of a President Mauricio Macri's "failed economic formula" of neoliberalism for the nation.


Argentina's Unemployment Highest in 14 Years

“Macri bet wrong and now the country is paying a high price for the mistake,” the 2001 Nobel Prize winner told Argentinian media when asked about the president's economic policies since taking office in 2015.

“Argentina ... and the bankers are the ones to blame, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They made the mistake of supplying those funds. Macri also committed several mistakes like eliminating exportation taxes to restore them later," calculated the Columbia University professor.

“I warned that he (Macri) was committing a great risk by reducing export withholdings. This reported profits brought about the rise in food prices and the impoverishment of lots of workers,” said the former president of the World Bank.

According to a report by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec) this week, Argentina's unemployment rate is at its highest in 14 years, reaching 10.6 percent in the second quarter of this year. That translates to more than two million people being out of work. The number is much higher among women and youth.

Stiglitz is known for being critical of Macri's economic plan since its inception. “I wrote an article when President Macri began to apply his economic policy in 2015. ... Somehow, the administration was committed to the idea that there would be a fever of foreign funds coming into Argentina and that, with that, Macri could pay the huge sum of money he was borrowing with outrageously high interest rates” that, since 2017 run at around 65-70 percent.

During his own interview last Saturday, Mauricio Macri had no choice but to admit that citizens are still struggling to get ahead financially and they notice it on “their tables every day,” referring to an increased number of poor who can't afford the high food costs across the nation. He tried to excuse himself by saying “more time is needed to achieve better results.”

By Monday of this week, three different opinion polls showed candidate Alberto Fernandez and vice presidential candidate, Cristina Fernandez are favorites to win the Oct. 27 elections by a wide margin.

"The primaries showed that Peronism is in a very favorable position for the October elections," said Stiglizt, "which was an optimal solution after the 2001 and 2002 crisis when Néstor Kirchner (and) Cristina Fernández de Kirchner created more independence" from the large banks, said the world-reknowned United States economist.

]]> <![CDATA['Rise Up, No Fear, El-Sisi Has To Leave': Egyptian Protesters]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 20:28:07 -04:00 Thousands of protesters took the streets of at least eight cities in Egypt on Friday, marching and chanting against president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over corruption allegations. At least 150 marchers were arrested, according to EFE.


Egypt Court Sentences Top Muslim Brotherhood Leaders to Life

The largest crowd gathered in Cairo's Tahir Square, the site of rallies that eight years ago brought down Egypt's longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. Police responded Friday by firing tear gas at protesters, but pro-government media claimed all was quiet in the major public plaza.

There was no official comment from Egypt's government regarding the demonstrations that rarely occur in the country following heavy crackdowns on protesters of the Sisi government took place in 2013. Mujtar Munir of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) told EFE that so far about 150 demonstrators had been arrested and were taken to military camps. 

"There have been random detentions of young people who were in Tahrir Square and surrounding areas," Munir said.

Other massive rallies took place in Alexandria and the port city of Damietta where protesters tore down a large poster of the 64-year old president who is being accused of corruption. Mohamed Ali, an actor turned political activist who lives in Spain who called for the protests after accusing Sisi and the military of political wrongdoing.

Sisi alerady dismissed the claims as "lies and slander".

The once highly popular president has lost major support due to his austerity measures and Egypt's soaring poverty rates.

Ali, who worked over 15 years as a building contractor for the army, posted a series of videos on Facebook accusing el-Sisi of squandering public funds on vanity projects despite rising poverty.

Official statistics released in July show that Egyptian level of poverty has increase to a 33 percent, up from 28 percent in 2015.

]]> <![CDATA[#NoMoreTrump Campaign Takes to Streets of Caracas]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 19:58:10 -04:00 Thousands of Venezuelans gathered in front of the Venezuelan prosecutor's office in Caracas to support the government campaign that collected nearly 13 million signatures of those against the United States blockade against the South American nation.


Venezuela: More Evidence of Guaido Links to Paramilitaries

Vice President Delcy Rodrigues and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza will give a letter and the signed petitions to the United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres during this week's U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York.

"I congratulate the immense anti-imperialist mobilization of our people that flowed into the streets of Caracas in a beautiful act of love and patriotism to hand in 13,287,742 signatures for peace and national sovereignty," said the President Nicolas Maduro during the Caracas rally.

"From Venezuela we say to the world: No More Trump!" shouted the head of state to massive crowds.

According to Vice President Rodriguez the petition “expresses the will of a people who want peace, progress, tranquility and above all, a free and sovereign homeland.”

The campaign was convened on Aug. 10 by President Maduro after Trump signed an executive order Aug. 5 that officially seized Venezuelan state assets in the U.S., essentially imposing a complete economic and diplomatic blockade on the country. 

The seizure includes the multibillion-dollar CITGO company, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA, depleting the nation of $US12 billion that could be used to “pay for five full years of food and medicine for the Venezuelan population," according to Arreaza. The decree also makes it difficult if not impossible for any other countries to do business with the South American nation, lest those nations risk U.S. sanctions themselves.

A recent economic study showed that the ongoing economic attack on Venezuela has left some 40,000 people dead because of lack of access to medicine and supplies from abroad.

The demonstrators on Saturday also protested the links between opposition lawmaker, Juan Guaido and Colombian paramilitaries, Los Rastrojos that were revealed via photos this week.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina: Cristina Fernandez Goes to Trial Again Amid Campaign]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 18:40:05 -04:00 Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio on Friday asked Argentine's Senate to take away Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's legislative immunity in order to put the lawmaker in preventive dentention for alleged connections to the "Notebooks" corruption case. 


Argentina Opinion Poll: Progressives Set for First Round Victory

For the second time in less than a year, former president Fernandez (2007-2015) must appear in federal court for her alleged connections to irregular public spending during her administration.

The judge's decision comes just as Fernandez de Kirchner is running for vice president alongside Alberto Fernandez for the Oct. 27 elections, and polls and primaries show them as the favorites to win.

Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli accuses Fernandez de Kirchner of being the "boss" of an illicit ring of politicians who raised money from private companies in exchange for granting them public contracts. A ledger 'notebook' supposedly lists all the transactions. A former chofer of Fernandez de Kirchner allegedly recorded the sums of money that the former president and her husband, Nestor Kirchner, also a former head of state, received.

More than 170 people have already been processed in the Notebooks case, among them are the owners of large private businesses who have already been released.

Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon: "Like Lula and Correa, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is being the object of a clear political persecution because she defends the people and faces immeasurable power structures."

During the previous legal proceedings related to the case, Fernandez de Kirchern's lawyers denounced several irregularities, including biased statements made by other defendants, indiscriminate detentions, burned evidence and other constitutional and due process violations.

According to Judge Bonadino, the vice presidential candidate should appear at an oral trial in the near future, but his requet for Cristina's preventive dentention cannot be executed until the Argentinian legislative removes Fernandez de Kirchner's legal immunity as a sitting legislator.

If this were to happen before the next elections on Oct. 27, Argentina would experience an unprecedented political crisis, amid growing popular mobilizations which are being carried out in rejection of President Mauricio Macri's neoliberal policies, rising unemployment, poverty and hunger.

]]> <![CDATA[Police Bullet Kills 8-Year-Old Girl in Rio de Janeiro]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 14:16:04 -04:00 The security policy implemented by Wilson Witzel, the Governor of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), brought about a new victim: an 8-year-old Afro-Brazilian girl, Agatha Felix, who lived in Fazendinha, a poor neighborhood located at the Complexo do Alemao, was hit by a military police bullet on Friday night and died on Saturday morning.


Murdered Activist Marielle Franco Nominated For Sakharov Prize

According to witness reports, Agatha was traveling inside a van to her home when she was hit by a bullet fired by a Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) officer, who was shooting at a motorcyclist considered "suspect." Few minutes later, Agatha died while she was treated at Getulio Vargas State Hospital, which is in the northern side of the city.

"We want information on who shot and killed an innocent, intelligent, brainy and obedient girl," Ailton Felix, Agatha's grandfather said at the hospital door.

"Where are the cops who did this? They speak through weapons. Those who are crying now are not those from ​​​​​​​the families of the governor, the mayor or the police. My family is criying. Although they apologize tomorrow, they will not bring back to my granddaughter.”

Military police said an UPP team had been attacked on Friday night by criminals at Fazendinha, where there was an exchange of gunfire. The authorities also indicated that they will open an investigation to clarify what happened.​​​​​​​

Against violence at the Favelas. Black lives matter! It's Witzel's fault!

Although the mainstream media tried to minimize the event, Rio de Janeiro woke up shocked by the death of a girl whose images circulated quickly through social networks.

Dwellers in the city's slums called for citizen protest through the #It'sWitzel'sfault, a phrase which refers to a governor whose only political security, the locals say, seems to be indiscriminate repression of the poor.

“I just received confirmation that the girl Agatha Vitoria Felix did not resist the injuries and died," human rights defend Rene Silva tweeted.

"We cannot allow these sort of things to become normal. Enough, people! Black lives matter! It's Witzel's fault!"

"Rio's governor said nothing about Agatha's death," teleSUR journalist Nacho Lemus reported from the ground and recalled that Wilson Witzel celebrated the murder of a kidnapper after he turned himself in to the police.​​​​​​​

This former judge, who is currently an important ally of the far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, flaunted his ideology on May when he tweeted a video in which he appears inside a police helicopter that was firing at favelas.


]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: Bolsonaro's Economic Freedom Act Includes Labor Reform]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 12:55:27 -04:00 Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday sanctioned the Economic Freedom Act (MPLE), mostly known as "the mini labor reform", a proposal whose main objective is to facilitate investments by reducing the regulations employers must comply with.


Bolsonaro Wants to Pardon Police Officers Involved in Massacres

“We want to give people more encouragement, confidence and legal security to start a business,” the far-right politician said and explained that his regulations would allow entrepreneurs to “continue with their lives normally” in case their businesses fail.

On behalf of supposedly creating 3.7 million new jobs over the next decade, Bolsonaro's law allows mechanisms to increase workloads without adequate monetary compensations.

In that sense, for example, companies having less than 20 workers will no longer be required to keep records of their employees' entry time and departure time.

New regulations also "free" companies from the obligation to register working hours which are carried out on unusual days, such as weekends or holidays

In practical terms, all these changes will mean that employers can extend the workday outside the current legal limits.

"This proposal will greatly help our economy,” former capitan Bolsonaro said, referring to a law which will allow entrepreneurs to increase their profitability levels by making labor standards more flexible.

In April, the Brazilian executive sent a bill to secure free markets and restrict public participation in the economy. After introducing some minor modifications to the original text, Brazilian lawmakers approved his bill on August.

Other measures favored by the MPLE regulations are the exemption of licenses for "low risk" businesses such as startups and repeal of some requirements related to occupational safety and health.

Bolsonaro's law also allows companies to be created with a single partner and without the traditional "minimum capital" requirement.

"The Act is meant to facilitate workers' exploitation. Initially, the bill even authorized working hours on Sundays; however, the Senate eliminated such proposal due to its unpopularity," local outlet Causa Operaria recalled.

]]> <![CDATA[Chinese Tourists Killed in Tragic Bus Crash in US National Park]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 10:35:16 -04:00 On Friday, a bus carrying many Chinese tourists careened off a road and crashed near Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, killing four people and injuring the remaining 26 people aboard, several of them critically, authorities reported.


US Lowers Expectations About a Possible Agreement With China

The cause of the crash, which occurred at about 11:30 a.m. on State Route 12 just west of the park, was under investigation, but weather did not appear to be a factor, state Highway Patrol and Garfield County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

Thirty people, including the driver, were aboard the bus when it swerved across the road and back before rolling over against a guard rail and coming to rest upright, authorities said. Photos from the scene showed the vehicle’s roof crushed in on top of the passenger compartment.

The 26 survivors were taken to various hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening, according to a Utah Highway Patrol spokesman, Corporal Chris Bishop. At least five people were critically injured, Bishop said, noting that figure was a downward revision from the Highway Patrol’s initial report that 12 to 15 people were critically injured.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Denise Dastrup said five of the injured were evacuated to hospitals by helicopter.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington said on Twitter that it was sending diplomatic personnel to the area to further assist the victims. “We are saddened to hear about the accident in Utah involving a bus carrying Chinese tourists. We are thankful to authorities in Utah for their assistance,” the embassy said.

]]> <![CDATA[US Sends Troops to Saudi Arabia Amid Row with Iran]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 09:32:26 -04:00 U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday approved sending American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defenses after the largest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities, which Washington has squarely blamed on Iran.


US Calls for Another Round of Sanctions Against Iran

The Pentagon said the deployment would involve a moderate number of troops - not numbering thousands - and would be primarily defensive in nature. It also detailed plans to expedite delivery of military equipment to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Reuters has previously reported that the Pentagon was considering sending anti-missile batteries, drones and more fighter jets. The United States is also considering keeping an aircraft carrier in the region indefinitely.

“In response to the kingdom’s request, the president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news briefing.

“We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves.”

The Pentagon’s late Friday announcement appeared to close the door to any imminent decision to wage retaliatory strikes against Iran following the attack, which rattled global markets and exposed major gaps in Saudi Arabia’s air defenses.

Trump said earlier on Friday that he believed his military restraint so far showed “strength,” as he instead imposed another round of economic sanctions on Tehran.

“Because the easiest thing I could do, ‘Okay, go ahead. Knock out 15 different major things in Iran.’ ... But I’m not looking to do that if I can,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

But the deployment could further aggravate Iran, which has responded to previous U.S. troop deployments this year with apprehension. It denies responsibility for the attack on Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which has been battling a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the UAE, has claimed responsibility for the strikes.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Hundreds Protest to Legalize Abortion for Rape Victims]]> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 10:47:16 -04:00 Hundreds of women and men of all ages began protesting in Quito, Ecuador, Friday against a recent law which prevents safe, free and legal abortion in cases of rape.


Ecuador's Legislator Votes Down Abortion Bill

"We want the President of the Republic to veto the norm that prevents abortion in cases of rape because we want to stop forcing women and girls to give birth to children conceived with violence," activist Carolina Peña said.

On Friday afternoon, human rights, gender, and social organizations gathered near the National Assambly at El Ejido Park, where activists addressed the authorities through a manifesto that was read to the public.

"In Ecuador, seven raped girls under the age of 14 are forced to give birth everyday. They are thus doomed to a life full of physical and psychological suffering. Victims of sexual violence are denied access to justice and a dignified life," Carolina Loachamin, holding back her tears, read.

On September 19, Ecuador's National Assembly rejected a legal reform that would have allowed free, safe and legal abortion in cases of rape. This legislative decision immediately prompted an unusual citizen rejection, for there were only six votes left to protect women's rights.

However, these votes were not viable because several politicians did not attend the session where the future of thousands of Ecuadorian women was decided.

Among those who participated in this political maneuver were congresswomen and "progressive" politicians who had previously said they would support abortion in case of rape.

"Lawmayers, you could have guaranteed access to justice for victims of sexual violence; however, you didn't do it. Instead you decided to wash your hands with the blood of women who die in clandestine abortions and girls who die because their bodies cannot give birth."

After reading the manifesto, the Ecuadorean activists marched to the official residence of President Lenin Moreno, who has legal power to veto the National Assembly's decision.

"She was a virgin, a priest raped her and now the State says she is to blame. Get your rosaries out of our ovaries" and "You are not pro-life, you are anti-rights", were some of the screams that hundreds chanted.

According to official data, Ecuador witnessed at least 2,180 rape cases of girls under 14, pregnant and forced to give birth in the last year.

As a result, their lives changed dramatically starting with the fact that these pregnant children are often forced to stop attending educational institutions.

"Raped and pregnant women should have the legal opportunity to decide whether they want to have their child or not," Peña added.

"They are not mothers, they are raped girls", "Mothers by decision, not by rape" and "I don't force you to abort, you don't force me to give birth" were some of the messages delivered through banners.

"Between 2015 and 2018 nearly 14,000 cases of rape were reported, 718 of them of girls under 10 years old, while between 2008 and 2018, more than 20,000 girls under 14 – Ecuador’s age of consent – have given birth," Silvana Tapia, a PhD in Socio-Legal Studies, tweeted.

When the human rights defenders arrived in downtown Quito, the anti-riot police prevented them from approaching the presidential palace. In order to counteract the effect of tear gas, protesters burned papers in the streets.

For hours scenes of police repression were repeated without making demonstrators give up their intention to reach the Central Square, a historic site where civil power shares territory with the Archbishopric of Ecuador.

There, where the relationship between the Church and the State acquires a highly visual expression, people remained chanting "never again, never again."​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Italy's 5-Star Backs Local Pact with Center-Left PD]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 23:39:22 -04:00 Members of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement ​​​​​backed Friday a local alliance with the center-left Democratic Party (PD) in an online vote that could strengthen the new government and change the shape of Italian politics.

Italy: Mayors of Bologna and Lampedusa Propose Migration Pact

Following the recommendation of party chief Luigi Di Maio, 61 percent of 5-Star members voted in favor of fielding a joint candidate with the PD in an election next month to pick a new governor of the central region of Umbria.

The vote marked a reversal of 5-Star's traditional rejection of election pacts and the repercussions will extend far beyond Umbria, a land-locked region of 900,000 inhabitants in central Italy.

By joining forces in Umbria, traditionally a PD stronghold, 5-Star and the PD hope to halt a long streak of victories by the center-right, which has triumphed in seven regional ballots since the national election in March 2018.

Success at the Oct. 27 Umbria vote would probably pave the way for similar alliances in the next few months in the regions of Emilia-Romagna in the industrial north, and Calabria in the poorer south.

In the medium term, analysts say this would create the conditions for 5-Star and the PD to become a stable alliance that would contest future local and national elections against a conservative bloc led by Matteo Salvini's hard-right League.

5-Star governed Italy with the League until last month, when Salvini pulled the plug on the coalition in a vain attempt to trigger elections he expected to win. Instead, 5-Star formed a new government with the PD, pushing Salvini into opposition.

However, the path to stable 5-Star/PD cooperation may not be anything but easy.

Driven by a common desire to block Salvini, the traditional adversaries overcame their differences to form a national government, but fielding joint candidates in regional and mayoral elections requires a deeper level of cooperation.

On Thursday Alessandro Di Battista, considered a potential future 5-Star leader, warned his colleagues not to trust the PD, calling it Italy's most pro-establishment and "dangerous" party and "the most hypocritical party in Europe."

Even after Friday's vote in favor of the Umbria pact with the PD, the two parties still need to find a mutually acceptable candidate for governor. Preliminary talks have made little progress, running up against vetoes and local rivalries.

5-Star's pre-condition for any local deals is that candidates must come from so-called "civil society", meaning they cannot be career politicians or members of either party.

]]> <![CDATA[Germany Advocates to Reduce Greenhouse Gases in Half]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 23:32:19 -04:00 German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Friday a list of measures the government will take attain the nation's climate targets: 55 percent fewer greenhouse gases by 2030 than the country created in 1990. 


Germany Accepts Climate Protection Deal Amid Worldwide Protests

From Berlin, the nation's leader said from Berlin that from 2021 on, national transport and construction sectors will see a fixed price on carbon for petrol, diesel, heating oil and natural gas. The price for pollution rights would start at 10 euros per ton of CO2 and gradually rise to up to 35 euros by 2025. 

Merkel said that the country is not living sustainably and highlighted that: "We are called upon, especially in view of the many young people around the world who rightly demand that we do something that offers them good opportunities in life," referring to the weeklong #climatestrike taking place all over the globe, organized and inspired by the Swedish 16-year-old, Greta Thunberg who has galvanized millions to take action against climate change with ther First For Fridays protests.

As an additional measure, citizens that change their old oil-fired heating system with a more climate-friendly model will be compensated with 40 percent off of the cost of the system. The installation of oil heating systems will be banned in Germany starting in 2026.

Germany will also promote electric vehicles, a sector struggling to increase their share in the car market. Subsidies for purchasing electric vehicles will be boosted for cars costing less than 40,000 euros, around US$44,000. Initially, electric vehicles will be tax-exempt.

"We will do everything in our power to ensure that if we do not reach our target path, we correct it immediately and take further action. But now we have to start first," Merkel told reporters.​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Thousands Gather in the Rain in Madrid to Protest Femicides]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 22:51:40 -04:00 Thousands of protesters gathered in central Madrid on Friday to draw attention to domestic violence in a year when, so far, over 40 women have been killed by their partner or ex-partners.

Black Weekend Charges Four Femicides in Argentina

Protesters carried banners reading "We don't want to carry on counting victims" and chanted "We are not alone" as they brandished umbrellas in the pouring rain.

The latest victim was Adaliz Villagra, 31, assassinated Tuesday by her ex-partner in front of her children.

The government regularly publishes the number of women killed by partners or ex-partners. The number so far this year is 42, according to government statistics, with more than 1,000 killed since records started in 2003.

Earlier in June, massive protests were also staged in reaction to the "Wolf Pack" trial who were eventually found guilty of raping a young woman during the annual bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.

The case attracted international attention in the wake of the global #niunamas and later the #metoo movement that has highlighted sexual abuse and mistreatment of women. Spain's Supreme Court eventually ruled that the crime qualified as "rape" and not just "sexual abuse," a ruling that opened national debate about the shortfalls of the country's laws to protect victims of rape and assault. 

The government of Prime Minister Pedrio Sanchez said it would press ahead with plans to change legislation related to rape after a divisive election campaign in which women’s rights and gender violence were at the heart of debate.

Spain’s new parliament has the largest share of women in any European legislature although the election saw the anti-feminist Vox party enter the assembly for the first time.

]]> <![CDATA[Ireland See 'Improvement' on EU and UK Brexit Dialogue]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 23:53:38 -04:00 Ireland's deputy prime minister warned that the European Union and the United Kingdom remain very far apart on how to deal with the nearing Brexit, but that there have been improvements in the "mood music", as both neogitating teams agreed on Friday to continued to search for a last minute agreement on the exit of Britain from the EU.


Mark Ruffalo Calls Out UK PM for Comparing Brexit With Hulk

After weeks of demanding concrete proposals from Britain to break the deadlock, the European Commission said the technical meetings will now focus on "a first set of concepts, principles and ideas that the United Kingdom has put forward."

The announcement was released after meetings in Brussels between British Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, while the UK and the EU are struggling to reach a last-minute agreement before Britain's planned departure still scheduled to happen Oct. 31.

Barclay was optimistic, saying the meeting took longer than expected, which he saw as a sign of progress.

"There is a common purpose both in Dublin and in London and here in Brussels to see an agreement on the table," he said. "We're going into the details.”

Barclay added that the two sides' technical teams will meet next week, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet with EU Council President Donald Tusk at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

However, the Commission warned that "it is essential that there be a fully workable and legally operational solution" included in the Brexit legally binding divorce agreement.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina's Fernandez Meets with Evo Morales as Polls Approach]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 22:33:59 -04:00 During a meeting in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia, President Evo Morales and Argentinian presidential hopeful leading in the polls, Alberto Fernández, discuss a return to progressive politics in the region.

“I remember when ... you were still a candidate and (human rights activist) Hebe (Pastor de Bonafini) said to you: 'you are going to win, you will see'. She was right," Alberto Fernandez, Argentinian Frente de Todos candidate said to Bolivian president and incumbent, Evo Morales during their discussion in Bolivia.

"Look at now, you have done great things. You are role model to Latin America. I have great admiration for you,” Fernandez told Morales, reelected since 2006.


Bolivia: Indicators Confirm The Strength Of The Economic Model

The Argentinian politician is in Bolivia along with legislator Felipe Sola, his chief of staff Santiago Cafiero, and spokesperson, Juan Pablo Biondi. Bolivian Foreign Minister Diego Pary joined his president.

Fernandez and Morales also talked about a Mercosur meeting in Buenos Aires, shortly after Bolivia nationalized its gas and oil operations. 

The two left-leaning politicians also discussed a time when South America was lead by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Cristina Kirchner and Hugo Chavez. Yet, according to the Argentinian primaries and recent polls in Bolivia, a return to progressive regimes may be on the horizon. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Fernandez, whose running mate is former president, Cristina Fernandez, said he had planned to visit again Lula in prison, and meet with Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but both encounters were postponed for different reasons. The presidential candidate says he plans to meet soon with Peruvian president, Pedro Vizcarra, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

With an economy that continues to grow four to five percent each year during his tenure, Morales is also campaigning for his nation's Oct. 20 elections. 

His possible triumph next month, along with Fernandez in Argentina could bring the progressive from the previous decade back to power.



]]> <![CDATA[Haitians Mobilize Again Against Fuel Shortages]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 20:52:58 -04:00 Opposition parties in Haiti held on Friday general mobilization against fuel shortages, on the day that also marks the 261st anniversary of the birth of Haiti's independence leader, Jean-Jacques Dessalines.


Haiti's Capital Still Paralyzed On Second Day Of Protests

Protesters denounced the deep socio-political and economic crisis that the country is experiencing, in addition to demanding the immediate resignation of President Jovenel Moïse.

Demonstrations were taken up again this week over gas shortages, but protesters throughout the country were rampant, and state response repressive, as citizens protested against the nation's high rates of unemployment, hunger, high cost of living, ecological crisis, rural exodus, and the "new phenomena" of repressive paramilitary groups and criminal gangs that devastate the most vulnerable areas.

At a Friday press conference, organizers of the manifestations also demanded, once again, that President Moise step down over clear evidence of embezzlement of public funds, among other accusations. So far, Haiti's Congress has delayed the leader's impeachment process at least three over the past few months.

The call to keep demonstrating comes at a time when the country is experiencing social instability due to fuel shortages, which triggered mobilizations last Monday and Tuesday.

According to Democratic and Popular Sector spokesperson, André Michel, at least three people died in the recent demonstrations, another 69 were injured and 77 were arrested by security forces.

In addition, the Haitian National Police continues its investigations into the death of Vladimir Fede, allegedly at the hands of police during last Monday's marches.

Benjamin Jean Claude, Division Commissioner, reported that four officers were placed in solitary confinement and their firearms were confiscated for ballistic analysis.

According to official reports, Michel was killed by a gunshot wound as agents tried to prevent him and others from placing lit tires barricades on the street in Port au Prince.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Ex-President of Central African Football Accused of War Crimes]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 20:27:17 -04:00 Former president of the Central African Football Federation, Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, is facing more than one hundred charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to his role as leader of the Christian militia "Anti-Balaka".


Rwandan Hutu Militia Commander Killed in Congo, Army Says

The prosecution in Central African Republic (CAR) where the militia attacks were carried out, alleges that Ngaïssona implemented a plan from Cameroon, where he was in exile, to overthrow the government of the "Seleka." The Seleka were a coalition of mainly Muslim political and armed factions that came to power in March 2013 through a coup d'état.

Ngaïssona is said to have financed, supplied arms and given orders to the "Anti-Balaka" who murdered, deported and tortured Muslims and supporters of the "Seleka" between December 2013 and December 2014, according to the official indictment, with the intent to overthrown François Bozizé, CAR president from 2003 until 2013.

The prosecutor's office also said that Ngaïssona had the power to appoint the commanders of the "Anti-Balaka" militias.

Among the local leaders who carried out the attacks was Alfred Yekatom, or "Colonel Rambo", also on trial at the ICC for 21 war crimes and crimes against humanity.

According to his arrest warrant, Yekatom had 3,000 militiamen in his charge and exercised tight control over them. Like Ngaïssona, Yekatom said in the oral hearing said they understood the nature of the accusations they both face.

In the list of 111 war crimes and crimes against humanity that Ngaïssona faces, all committed by his order to paramilitary soldiers, the list includes attacks, murders, deportations, torture and sexual violations on the civilian population.

]]> <![CDATA[US Calls for Another Round of Sanctions Against Iran ]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 19:36:57 -04:00 United States President Donald Trump announced heavy sanctions against the Iran National Bank from the Oval Office on Friday, referring to the measure as the “highest tax ever against another country.” The move is meant to punish the Iranian government that Trump still believes is the responsible for the attacks to a Saudi refinery this past week, which Yemen factions already admitted to carrying out.



Iran Warns of 'All-Out War' if Attacked by US and Allies

Teheran continues to deny the U.S. allegations and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated on Friday that Iran has no "desire for war" but emphasized that the Islamic Republic will defend and has always defended its people and nation.

The top diplomat responded to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Friday statement that Iran wants an "all-out war" and will fight to the "last American" by tweeting: "@SecPompeo has it the other way around: It's not #Iran that wishes to fight to the last American; rather, it is his #B_Team hosts who seem to wish to fight Iran to the last American."

Though Trump has blustered threats of military action against Iran in recent months, the economic punishments may be a way the administration is avoiding open conflicts against Hasan Rohani's regime, though the U.S. president says the use of the military is never off the table.

This isn't the first time that the current White House has uppsed sanctions against the Islamic Republic since he broke away from the nuclear agreement with Iran in May 2018. 

U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin says the newest sanctions will cut all sources of funds to Iran, including their sovereign wealth fund.

“No more money to finance terrorism,” claimed the secretary.

Pompeo said Friday while in the allied United Arab Emirates that the White House prefers “a pacifist solution” with Iran.

Abu Dabi
]]> <![CDATA[US and El Salvador Sign Joint Immigration Deal]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 18:16:44 -04:00 The United States and El Salvador have reached a joint deal on immigration, the U.S. embassy in El Salvador said on Friday, without giving many additional details beyond those related to asylum claims.

126 Central American Mothers Sue US Gov't for Asylum Ban

Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan is scheduled to discuss the immigration agreement on Friday at a news briefing in Washington, D.C.

"The bottom line of this agreement is asylum. It seeks to recognize El Salvador's development of its own asylum system and its commitment to expand that capacity," said Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Kevin McAleenan, accompanied by Salvadoran Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill during a press conference in Washington.

"President Bukele's goal is not only to stop irregular immigration but to reverse migration, but that has to be done gradually," Hill told reporters. 

A preliminary deal was signed in August, but this agreement formalizes El Salvador being a 'safe' third country. Ironically, El Salvador's murder rate does not indicate the nation is safe, even for its own residents. Its murder rate rose to 51 per 100,000 residents during the first nine months of 2018, exceeded the homicide rates of Honduras and Guatemala.  

This is the latest move by McAleenan to push for bilateral immigration deals with the Northern Triangle countries of Central America—Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—where most immigrants arriving at the U.S. southern border hail from.

In late July, Guatemalan president, Jimmy Morales, signed a "safe third country"-type deal that requires asylum seekers to ask for refuge there instead of in the United States if they travel through the former on the way to the U.S.-Mexico border, however bypassing Guatemala for most migrating Central Americans is virtually impossible if they are making the trek by land.

Guatemala's Congress still has to ratify the deal, and incoming president Alejandro Giammattei isn't sold on the measure that was likely signed because of heavy pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump who threatened major tariffs on the country's imports and remittances back into Guatemala if the nation didn't agree to the White House policy.   

Guatemala is currently the region's heaviest 'sending country' meaning that most Central American refugees are Guatemalan citizens in the first place. Some 230,000 people apprehended by U.S. immigration officials at the border Between January and August of this year were from Guatemala, the largest number out of all Central American countries. Immigration advocates have said that Central American countries, where many people are fleeing from violence, poverty and endemic corruption, do not have the capacity to process more asylum claims and cannot provide a safe environment for vulnerable migrants.

Even though the U.S. State Department admits Guatemala “remains among the most dangerous countries in the world,” with an “alarmingly high murder rate,” on July 16, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a rule that would bar most migrants from gaining U.S. asylum if they had not sought safe haven in a country they transited through first.

A federal court initially blocked the rule from taking effect, but the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 11 allowed it to be implemented while litigation against the policy continues.

Separately, Mexico agreed to allow more migrants to wait south of the border while their U.S. immigration cases are resolved, following a Trump threat of across-the-board tariffs on Mexican goods. So far, since late January when this new administration policy known as the "Migrant Protection Protocols” went into effect, more than 42,000 migrants have been sent back to Mexico to wait for U.S. court dates.

]]> <![CDATA[More Human Remains Pulled from Mexican Town, 138 in Total]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 18:27:08 -04:00 At least 19 more bags of human remains have been found on the same site where at least 44 bodies were found in recent days in the Mexican state of Jalisco, authorities there said on Wednesday.

A Border-Industrial Complex Profiting, Behind Anti-Migrant Policy: Report

Experts from the Jalisco Institute of Forensic Sciences removed the bags from the pit after resuming a search of the property located in the municipality of Zapopan, according to a statement by the state attorney general’s office.

On Sept. 3, authorities uncovered a well more than 10 meters deep on the land, from which they extracted 119 bags of human remains belonging to at least 40 people.

“During the work carried out today at La Primavera by the prosecutor’s office staff who specialize in missing persons, a hole was located, inside which lay plastic bags, apparently with evidence of human remains and clothing,” the institute said.

The 19 bags were sent to the Jalisco Institute of Forensic Sciences, where their contents will be analyzed, the attorney general’s office said.

In the clandestine grave discovered on Sept. 3, experts worked for eight days to extract the 119 bags before ending the search. The new grave is located about 300 meters away from the initial one.

The Jalisco attorney general’s office said that trained dogs were used in the search the area and the staff did “a quadrant sweep, in addition to using georadar equipment to determine if there are more human remains at the site.”

The experts suspended the search owing to rain and planned to resume it on Thursday.

The 119 bags found earlier contained the remains of at least 44 people, out of which 29 have been classified; 13 bodies have been found whole and 16 in parts. Two of the victims are women and the rest men.

So far this year, 27 mass graves have been found in Jalisco State alone, containing 123 bodies, of which only some have been identified.

Jalisco is one of the areas where the Jalisco New Generation Cartel led by Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes is most active.

The CJNG is considered the largest criminal group in the country ahead of its rival Sinaloa cartel, according to the Mexican authorities.

Murders in Mexico jumped to the highest on record in the first half of 2019, putting the cartel-ravaged country on track to surpass its previous 29,111 record from last year.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela: More Evidence of Guaido Links to Paramilitaries]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 16:31:04 -04:00 Venezuela's Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez presented a video on Friday in which the Colombian narco-paramilitary Ivan Posso Pedroso explains the links that the opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido has with Los Rastrojos, a paramilitary group operating on the Colombian-Venezuelan border.


Colombia's Los Rastrojos Try to Kill Own Member for Guaido Pics

Presented at a press conference held in Caracas, the video shows Posso Pedroso, aka 'Nandito' providing details of the secret operation that made Guaido's transport from El Vigia in Venezuela to Santander Port in Colombia.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza also presented the information to the nation's diplomats that show clear ties between the opposition lawmaker Guaido and Colombian paramilitaries, Los Rastrojos.

After being captured by Venezuelan authorities, the mercenary testified about the validity of photographs in which Guaido is seen posing with four members of Los Rastrojos, well-known narco traffickers who operate at the Colombian border area, where locals accuse them of conducting a clandestine operation to torture and dismember enemies.

# PHOTOS | In a meeting with the nation's Diplomatic Corps, Vice President Jorge Rodríguez offers real information about Juan Guaidó's connections with Colombian paramilitaries

The Colombian paramilitary assured that he was the one who took the photos in which Guaido appears. He took those photos to have a "guarantee" which would allow Los Rastrojos to get "special benefits" in case at some point in the future the right-wing took power in Venezuela. 

"On February 21, the governor (of Tachira, Venezuela), Laidy Gomez, sent a woman to visit us who introduced herself as the right hand of the governor, stating that she had instructions from Mr. Roberto Marrero, who is Mr. Guaidó’s political chief," revealed Pedroso in a part of his nine-minute confession.

"Marrero said he needed 'Necocli' or 'Neco' (ex-leader of Los Rastrojos, Wilfrido Gomez) to ensure the passage of Guaido to Colombia providing him with all the necessary security,” added Pedroso.

The informant also said that Guaido traveled through the communities of La Pedrosa, El Quince, La Tendida and La Palmita until he reached El Paraiso.

To facilitate the transfer of the Venezuelan politician during the "Operation Padlock", the Colombian paramilitaries established a "curfew" in these locations.

To ensure that the population did not leave their homes, 200 members of the Colombian narco-paramilitary group previously generated disturbances in the area in order to generate fear.

On Feb. 23, once U.S.-backed politician Juan Guaido arrived in Colombian territory, he was transferred in a Colombian government's helicopter to Cucuta in order to attend the "Venezuela Aid Live", a concert financed by British billionaire Richard Branson.

However, under that facade, such event was actually organized to pressure Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro to allow the entry of alleged U.S. "Humanitarian aid".

Weeks later the Venezuelan government presented evidence of an ongoing ivestigation, proving that the opposition's humanitarian operations were plagued by corruption scandals. Details emerged of Guaido’s inner circle embezzling large sums that were initially destined for "aid projects".​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Netanyahu Clings to Power as Coalition Talks Continue]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 14:06:29 -04:00 Israel's current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced Israeli media headlines on Friday suggesting power is slipping from his grasp after an election in which he trails his main rival with nearly all votes counted.


Israel: Gantz Rebuffs Netanyahu's 'Unity Gov't' Offer

The right-wing leader failed on Tuesday, for the second time in five months, to secure a clear election victory and the centrist Blue and White party led by ex-armed forces chief Benny Gantz rebuffed his calls to join a unity government on Thursday.

Near-final results released on Friday by the Knesset’s election committee showed Blue and White will be the largest single party in the new parliament with 33 of the 120 seats, with Netanyahu’s Likud winning 31 seats, three less than it had before.

Israeli newspapers and commentators depicted the 69-year-old leader as in a weakened position, with headlines such as: “Himself Alone” and “Political Death Spasms”.

President Reuven Rivlin will on Sunday start consultations with the parties about choosing a leader to put together a coalition.

There were only narrow differences in the two main parties’ campaigns on many important issues, and an end to the Netanyahu era would be unlikely to bring significant changes in policy on relations with the United States, the regional struggle against Iran or the Palestinian conflict.

]]> <![CDATA['Neoliberalism Deteriorates Human Rights in Brazil': Report]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 14:16:21 -04:00 On Thursday morning, the Human Rights and Minorities Committee of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies (CDHM) delivered to Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (HNCHR), a report on the current human rights situation in Brazil, a document which provides detailed information on President Jair Bolsonaro administration's lack of commitment to human rights.


Bolsonaro Wants to Pardon Police Officers Involved in Massacres

The 2019 CDHM report was prepared following several standardized procedures that countries must meet to submit human rights periodic evaluations. Among other things, the document's elaboration involved dozens of meetings and hearings between lawmakers, officials and citizens.

From this consultation process, 246 recommendations were obtained, most of which are related to such issues as budget cuts, ideologization of education, reduction of HIV-related policies, black youth killings, police lethality, summary executions and torture.

“Brazil faces the recessive effects of an aggressive austerity policy. Constitutional Amendment 95, enacted in 2016, has frozen public spending and investment for 20 years, preserving external debt interest payments. This implies a reduction in all public policies and an inequality increase," the CDHM denounces.

The worsening of the Brazilian population's living conditions has been associated with the dismantling of public policies, which began at the government of Michel Temmer, who recently admitted that a "technical" coup d'etat against Dilma Rousseff allowed him to reach the presidency on August 2016.

As a result of the return of neoliberalism, the income of the richest Brazilians has risen, as poverty has increased from 25.7 percent in 2016 to 26.5 percent in 2017. In the same period, the extremely poor jumped from 6.6 percent to 7.4 percent.

Nowadays, “the richest 1 percent of the population now earns 28 percent of Brazil's total income, which is the world’s second largest income concentration... Misery, which had been falling since the redemocratization of Brazil, has grown again. The middle class has shrunk its income share.”

The deterioration of democratic institutions and the impoverishment of the population have been accompanied by a systematic criminalization of human rights defenders, environmental activists and social leaders.

Within this far-right-led lawfare, the CDHM report emphasizes the legal abuses whereby former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is kept as a political prisoner since April 2018.

]]> <![CDATA[U.S. Caused $4.5 Billion in Losses to Cuba Over the Last Year]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 13:01:37 -04:00 Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on Friday presented a report on the impact caused by the U.S .blockade policy on the Cuban economy over the last year.


Two Members of Cuba's UN Mission Expelled From US

"The U.S. blockade against Cuba impacts, as never before, on the everyday life of every Cuban family, in every sector of our economy, in every social development project in the country," Rodriguez said and anticipated that his country will insist on the elimination of such arbitrary policy before the international community.

"The U.S measures have a political motivation. Our Government will exercise its sovereignty and self-determination."

On November 6, for the twenty-eighth occasion, Cuba will present to the United Nations General Assembly the draft resolution entitled "Need to End the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."

This diplomatic initiative occurs in a context of growing aggressiveness against the Caribbean country. Over the last two years, U.S. President Donald Trump has strengthened a 60-year-old policy which attempts to use coercion instruments to overthrow Cuba's democratic government.

As a result of the above, and as a side effect of the aggressions the U.S. is deploying against Venezuela, Cuba is going through a fuel shortage, as shipping and insurance companies feel threats and pressures from Washington.

Appreciated from a broader time perspective, however, the damage caused to Cuba is substantially greater and reaches billions of dollars.

Since the 1960s, the U.S. blockade has caused losses to Cuba of over US$138.8 billion measured at current prices, according to estimates from local authorities.

Accumulated damages amount to over US$933 billion in real terms, that is to say, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against gold.

From April 2018 to March 2019, Trump's new wave of sanctions brought about US$4.3 billion in direct, material damages, as the Cuban minister denounced.

"Over the last year, the resurgence of the blockade has continued to be the central pivot of the U.S. government policy towards Cuba, with more and more notable effects on its extraterritorial application," Rodriguez recalled.

“The blockade policy continues to represent a brake for the development of the Cuban economic potential, for the implementation of the National Economic and Social Development Plan, for the achievement of the 2030 agenda and its sustainable development goals."

The Republican administration's resumed hostility towards Cuba began with the application of apparently small restrictions on U.S. citizens' trips to the island.

On the first moment, licenses for passenger and recreational cruisers, authorizations for educational group visits, and licenses to private airplanes were removed.

Subsequently, however, punitive actions became tougher as the White House began to reinforce instruments aimed at halting foreign direct investment flows towards Cuba, a socialist country which has been attracting significant European investments in its tourism sector since the 1990s.

To obstruct new investments, Trump then activated Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which allows U.S. nationals to file lawsuits before U.S. courts against countries, companies and persons who did business with companies or properties nationalized after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

If Cuba had received the income it ceased to receive as a result of US sanctions, its gross fomestic product would have grown by an average of 10 percent over the past 10 years, Minister Rodriguez denounced.

Although the damage is large,​​​​​​ the U.S. will get "no political concession from our government. They have failed for six decades and they will continue to fail."

]]> <![CDATA[Thousands Join World Climate Strike as UN Summit Approaches]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 10:29:08 -04:00 Thousands of people from all over the world took to the streets to join the "Third World Climate Strike" on September 20, a protest triggered by the Fridays for The Future (FFF) movement, which demands from governments concrete actions to resolve the ongoing environmental emergency generated by increased global warming.


Brazil Will Not Take The Floor At The UN Climate Summit

In Europe, Asia, Africa and Noth  America, hundreds of environmental, social, labor and human rights activists were hosting rallies in many cities throughout their countries. 

These demonstrations are taking place a few days before the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opens the Climate Summit in New York on September 23, a high-level meeting in which countries were invited to present concrete and realistic plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent in the next ten years.

In Brazil, a South American country where the burning of the Amazon has increased due to the auspices President Jair Bolsonaro provides for the transformation of rainforests into arable land, citizens carried out demonstrations in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Amazonas, Alagoas, Bahia, Amapa, Ceara, Federal District, Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, among other states.

"Deforestation caused by the devastating expansion of agribusiness, livestock, mining and pollution of rivers contribute to accelerate global climate change... Amazon rainforests deforestation is progressing at a rate of three soccer stadiums per minute," said the Brazilian Climate Coalition, which joins organizations such as Greenpeace, Fight for the Forest, Families for Climate, the Landless Workers Movement and the Worker's Party.

In Germany, 1,700 companies joined the climate strike by making it easier for their workers to attend the marches. The same happened at educational institutions where academic activities were suspended so that their students could go to demonstrations.

In the United Kingdom, hundreds of people took to the Westminster neighborhood in London, where the seat of the Government is located. With banners, slogans and songs, they demanded that the right-wing Prime Minister Boris Johnson put in place measures aimed at tackling the climate crisis.

"Young people and workers are coming out to say enough is enough. I'm proud to be joining London’s largest climate crisis mobilization to demand action," the Labor leader, Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted.

"This climate strike is inspiring - full of people who are demanding change to protect our planet and their future. Labor will honor that demand by kickstarting a Green Industrial Revolution."​​

This week, Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist whose actions were generated from the FFF movement, has participated in several public actions aimed at raising awareness about the environmental emergency.

On Thursday, for instance, she and a group of activists demanded that the U.S. Congress, which is the world's biggest emitter of gases and chemicals that foster climate change, take concrete action and show leadership to confront climate change.

On Friday, tens of thousands of people in Australia and South Pacific island nations also staged protests calling for urgent action on climate change.

Schoolchildren, teachers and parents gathered in Sydney holding placards that read "Time is running out," "Human change, not climate change", "There is no Planet B," and "If not now, when?"​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Germany Accepts Climate Protection Deal Amid Worldwide Protests]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2019 08:51:29 -04:00 The German government reached a consensus Friday on a new climate protection package, which includes a domestic carbon price and the possibility of more stringent measures in future, a source close to the talks said.


Australia 'Sets Standard' as Thousands Join #ClimateStrike

According to the reports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and her Social Democrat partners agreed a carbon price for energy used in buildings and transport in line with the existing European Union emissions trading scheme, in which certificates traded at 26.30/tonne on Friday CFI2Zc1.

That price, lower than the 40 euro price many climate economists had been advocating, means pressure on German companies to cut emissions will be lower than many expected.

But the source added that the scheme, details of which are set to be announced by Merkel later on Friday, will contain provisions allowing the government to take corrective measures if targets on emissions cuts risk being missed.

Another source said the package would have a volume of 50 billion euros ($55.2 billion) through to 2023 and would be financed without new debt.

The deal, billed as one setting the direction of Europe’s largest economy over the coming decades, was being finalised as protesters massed at thousands of locations around the world to demand swifter action to curb climate change.

Several thousand protesters, inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement, rallied at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate as the negotiations were underway.

The outcome appears to be a compromise between the conservatives’ desire for an emissions trading scheme that supports innovation in Germany’s corporations and the SPD’s desire for a carbon tax which would support those hardest hit by the costs of the transition away from carbon.

The plan also includes measures to help households pay for the transition away from the use of polluting heating oil that remains common in much of western Germany.

]]> <![CDATA[Murdered Activist Marielle Franco Nominated For Sakharov Prize]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 23:59:44 -04:00 Marielle Franco, a Brazilian human rights activist, is one of four Brazilian activists who were announced this Thursday as nominees for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize 2019.


Brazil Won’t Accept US$20 Million G7 Aid to Tackle Amazon Fire

The European Parliament (EP) Sakharov Prize is awarded every year to individuals and organizations that excel in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

This year, the list of nominees, which is proposed by EP members, names four Brazilian activists, including Marielle Franco, a deceased Black Brazilian human rights activist, who was openly bisexual and born in a favela. 

Marielle was an ardent activists for the civil rights of the favela residents, majority Afrodescendents in Rio de Janeiro, who continually denounced their extrajudicial executions and rights violations at the hands of city police.

Shortly before she brutally gunned down in March 2018, Marielle was appointed to monitor the federal intervention into public security in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Her assassination remains unsolved.

Another person nominated was the politician Jean Wyllys, who, in 2010, became the first openly homosexual activist to be elected to the Brazilian Congress.

During two terms as a legislator, Jean Wyllys de Matos Santos introduced laws on issues such as homosexual marriage, legalization of abortion, regulation of sex work, gender identity and legalization of cannabis.

The former lawmaker said of the nomination "honors the people or organizations that dedicated their lives or actions to defend human rights and freedom."

The other two candidates from Brazil are  the 89-year-old Brazilian indigenous leader Raoni Metuktire, known internationally for the struggle to preserve the Amazon and the customs of indigenous peoples and the environmentalist Claudelice Silva dos Santos.

The Sakharov Prize, worth €50,000, over US$55,000, has been awarded since 1988 by Parliament in honour of Soviet scientist, Andrei Sakharov and past recipients include Nelson Mandela in 1988 and Malala Yufsafzai six years ago.

]]> <![CDATA[Australia 'Sets Standard' as Thousands Join #ClimateStrike]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 23:28:43 -04:00 With the United Nations Climate Action Summit set to begin next week in New York, millions of activists around the world have already begun massive demonstrations for the #climatestrike to take place Sept. 20-27.  


Report Presents 10 Changes to Fight Climate Crisis

The demonstration, which begin Friday, are to demand that urgent actions be taken against global warming and the drastic climate change taking place across the globe. 

The climate strike was inspired and organized by climate activist Greta Thunberg who, just one year ago, began protesting by herself outside the parliament of her native Sweden to demand policy-makers to take immediate action to mitigate Earth’s rising temperatures. The small act has since galvanized millions to demand the same and has earned which have since earned the 16-year-old a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

The climate strike is planned to take place in 150 countries and where it is already Sept. 20 activists are out en masse. 

"Soon the sun will rise on Friday the 20th of September 2019. Good luck Australia, The Philippines, Japan and all the Pacific Islands. You go first!" Thunberg said on her Instragram account, Thursday. Over Twitter, Thunberg wrote, “Incredible pictures as Australia’s gathering for the #climatestrike. This is the huge crowd building up in Sydney. Australia is setting the standard!”

The strike was strategically scheduled to coincide not only with the U.N. climate summit on Friday, but for the duration of the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York City that will be attended by hundreds of world leaders and diplomats and end Sept 30.

New York’s education officials already said they will pardon the absences of any of the 1.1 million public school students who want to participate.

Global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels has already led to droughts and heatwaves, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and floods, scientists say.

Carbon emissions climbed a record high last year, despite a warning from the U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October that output of the gases must be slashed over the next 12 years to stabilize the climate.

Organizers said the demonstrations would take different forms, but all aim to promote awareness of climate change and to, namely reduce these emissions.

On Wednesday, Thunberg appeared before several committees of the United States Congress, submitting the 2018 IPCC report that urges rapid, unprecedented changes in the way people live to keep temperatures from rising 1.5C by 2030.

"I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take action," she told the U.S. leaders, many of who continue to deny that global temperatures are rising due to human causes.


]]> <![CDATA[Mexico, Uruguay Support Deal Reached in Venezuelan Talks ]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 22:17:40 -04:00 The governments of Mexico and Uruguay released a joint statement Thursday to “reiterate” their support for dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition parties, applauding the Maduro administration for the release of legislator Edgar Zambrano as part of the negotiations between the two sides up until now.


Venezuela Urges the World to Support Peace Dialogue

“The Governments of Mexico and Uruguay reiterate, as we did on February 6 in Montevideo, that dialogue and negotiations are the only acceptable way to reach a peaceful solution to the situation that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is going through,” read a statement published by Mexico’s foreign relations office. 

Last February, the two countries offered to act as mediators to the national dialogues, a measure that was eventually taken up by Norway, which has faciliated the talks in both Oslo and also Barbados in the Caribbean. 

This week, the government and opposition leaders announced several agreements that were fruit of this round of talks that began in August. On Monday, Venezuelan Communication Minister Jorge Rodriguez said that the accord included the return of Socialist Party lawmakers to the National Assembly, the establishment of a new electoral body, the release of certain prisoners, and harnessing oil sales to buy medicines and food supplies for Venezuelans - a measure the current government has long-enacted.

Most importantly, both side agreed to reject the illegal United States blockade on the South American country, and to defend Venezuelan rights over the Esequibo region.

The Uruguayan and Mexican presidencies urged for continual dialogue among the Venezuelan factions in a “civil and peaceful” manner "so that real and democratic solutions are reached based on trust between the parties.”

Completing a part of the deal, the Maduro administration released legislator Edgar José Zambrano on Tuesday. Zambraon played an important role in the failed coup attempt of the presidency, along side self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, on April 30 of this year. This was a move that the Uruguayan government under Tabare Vazquez and Mexico, under Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said they “valued.” 

“We value the release of the National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano.”

The two administrations ended by reiterating their “firm commitment to collaborate and support any type of initiative for inclusive dialogue between Venezuelans that prioritizes peace and unrestricted respect for human rights.”​​​​​​​


]]> <![CDATA[Argentina's Unemployment Highest in 14 Years]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 21:51:49 -04:00 The unemployment rate in Argentina reached 10.6 percent in the second quarter, with more than two million people out of work, becoming today the highest value in the last 14 years.

 Macri's Running Mate Denies Existence of Poverty, Food Shortages in Argentina

According to a report by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec), entitled Labor market, rates and socio-economic indicators, the lack of work - associated with the serious economic situation of the country - impacting more strongly on young women and It occupies 23.4 percent against 18.6 percent of not working men.

The numbers reflect that unemployment in the second quarter of the year, without even counting the economic impact registered in August, returned to 2005 levels.

In just one year almost 200 thousand people began to swell the ranks of unemployed in the 31 urban agglomerates that are taken into account by Indec for the elaboration of the index. Extrapolated to the rest of the country this number is even higher, reflect local media.

The report details that in the period evaluated corresponding to the total urban places show that the activity rate is 47.7 percent, the employment rate is 42.6 percent and the unemployment rate is 10.6 percent.

When making a comparison it was revealed that the region of the so-called Greater Buenos Aires registered the highest unemployment rate (11.9 percent) and the Northeast, the lowest (3.7 percent).

In the youth range, unemployment grew from 21.5 to 23.4 percent in women and from 17.3 to 18.6 percent in men compared to the same period last year.

]]> <![CDATA[Fire in Liberia School Kills at Least 27 Children]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 21:27:45 -04:00 A fire at a school in Liberia has killed at least 27 children, police said on Wednesday.

30,000 Children Risk Sexual Abuse After Mozambique Cyclones: UN

The blaze was caused by an electrical issue and that further investigations were ongoing, police spokesman Moses Carter said.

"The kids were learning the Quran when the fire broke out," he added.

Carter had originally said 30 children were killed before revising the death toll down to 27. Two survivors were taken to the hospital, he said.

The fire started late on Tuesday in the suburbs of the capital Monrovia, President George Weah said in a tweet.

"My prayers go out to the families of the children that died last night in Paynesville City," Weah said. "This is a tough time for the families of the victims and all of Liberia."


]]> <![CDATA[Mafias Controlling Amazon Have Killed 300 in 10 Years: Report]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 20:50:11 -04:00 Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that more than 300 people have been killed in the last decade in conflicts over the use of land and natural resources in the Amazon, but only 14 of those responsible have been brought to justice so far.

'US-Brazil Trade Deal is the Holy Grail', Minister Araujo Says

The report, published in Sao Paulo, added that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was driven by violent criminal networks that have been fueld by the Jair Bolsonaro government who has scaled back enforcement of environmental laws and done away with state agencies for Indigenous groups in the region.

The Rainforest Mafias report examines how illegal deforestation carried out by these criminal groups and the resulting fires are linked to acts of violence against environmentalists.

HRW denounced that the criminal networks that operate in the largest tropical forest on the planet have the logistical capacity to coordinate logging on a massive scale.

To do this, they employ armed men to intimidate and, in some cases, execute those who defend the jungle, according to the rights organization.

“Some environmental enforcement officials call these groups ipê mafias, referring to the ipê tree whose wood is among the most valuable and sought-after by loggers,” the report said.

HRW analyzed 28 murders from 2015 onwards and recorded serious omissions, such as the lack of autopsies in the investigations of deaths in cities not far from police stations. The failure to investigate the illegal activities has led to further violence and loggers continue to intimidate activists fueling a climate of fear that reduces the likelihood of people risking their lives to protect the forest, the NGO added.

The organization considers that the situation has worsened with the coming to power of president Bolsonaro, who has in the past accused environmental activists of so-called extremism.

“He has scaled back enforcement of environmental laws, weakened federal environmental agencies, and harshly criticized organizations and individuals working to preserve the rainforest,” the statement said.

“His words and actions have effectively given a green light to the criminal networks involved in illegal logging, according to environmental officials and local residents,” it added.

Bolsonaro’s attack on environmental protection bodies puts forests and the people living there at risk, Daniel Wilkinson, Director of Human Rights and Environment at Human Rights Watch, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Some experts and organizations, such as HRW, have linked the increase in fires in the Amazon to the rise in deforestation and the burning the region in order to graze cattle and plant monoculture crops. Forest fires in the Amazon basin in Brazil have increased by over 80 percent during the first eight months of 2019, just as Bolsonaro entered office, compared to the same period last year.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela: 'Operation Sovereignty and Peace' Exercises Continue]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 20:01:27 -04:00
Venezuelan soldiers at the Ceiba Port training for Operation Sovereignty and Peace 2019. The operation was put forth Spt. 10 by President Maduro to protect the border regions with Colombia
A military vessel comes to shore at Caiba Port as part of Operation Sovereignty and Peace 2019. Earlier this month the Colombian magazine, Semana, published allegedly false documents to connect the Venezuelan gov't with criminal groups, which Communications Minister Rodriguez says was fabricated and meant to legitimize Colombian attacks on Venezuela
Top FANB officials in Caiba Port during an exercise Thursday for Operation Sovereignty and Peace 2019. In September Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered an orange alert along the border with Colombia so as to tighten security against its neighbor.
Venezuelan General Remigio Ceballos salutes soldiers in Ceiba Port located along the Maracaibo Lake. Soldiers there are training for Operation Sovereignty & Peace 2019 meant to protect the nation against any Colombian agressions
The FANB during a military drill at the Caiba Port readying for Operation Sovereignty and Peace 2019 against possible Colombian incursions. Last week President Maduro reiterated that Venezuela does not attack any nation, but that “we neither will we ever allow others to interfere in our national affairs, or threaten us, or attack us.
Venezuelan General Remigio Ceballos addressing soldiers during Operation Sovereignty and Peace 2019 drills being held this week in Caiba Port.
]]> <![CDATA[Exiting Unasur Favors US Interests: Ex-Ecuadorean Minister ]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 20:29:55 -04:00 Reacting to the legislative vote on Wednesday where the Ecuadorean government finalized its withdraw from the Constitutional Treaty of Unasur, leaving the bloc, former foreign minister of the nation, Guillaume Long, said the move favor United States interests.

Ecuadoreans Protest Criminalization of Abortions in Rape Cases

The exit from the South American organization, founded in 2008 in a bid to form a stronger regional bloc to better position the region in negotiations with foreign powers, will be detrimental to Ecuador's interests said Long, who represented the Andean country to the United Nations between 2016 and 2017.

"Washington was always suspicious of Mercosur, and even boycotted" the pact, said the former diplomat. "Since the end of the 1990s, the U.S. government has always actively sought a solution similar to the NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico for the entire region," referring to all of Latin America.

The government of Lenin Moreno is now the second to formalize its abandonment of the treaty, putting it in the ranks of right-wing Colombian President Ivan Duque, who on Aug. 27, 2018, made a similar decision to leave the pact.

Since April 2018, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru also suspended their participation, leaving Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and Uruguay as active members of Unasur.

The Unasur's headquarters, located in Quito, Ecuador and whose property was donated by the previous government of Rafael Correa, will return to state hands, leaving the body without any building. In July 2018, Lenin Moreno announced his plans for the building, which are that he hopes to create an intercultural university.

]]> <![CDATA[French Unions Strike Against Privatization of Electricity]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 18:56:16 -04:00 More than a third of EDF's workforce in France was on strike on Thursday for the second day in a row in protest against a privatization plan, yet without affecting households, affirmed labor union leaders.

French Gov't Budget, Actions To Tackle Femicides Falls Short of Expectations

EDF workers are protesting plans steered by the French government to restructure and split the group in two, privatizing its nuclear power generation business set to one side.

The restructuring plan, which is known as "Project Hercule" and was requested by President Emmanuel Macron, will likely involve massive lay-offs, according to the workers on strike.

The project was dubbed a "catastrophe" by CGT union leader Philippe Page Le Merour who denounced the "purely financial purpose, with zero vision for the public service or the industry, and even less for a common good obviously," reported local media. 

"The move will tragically end with a medium and long-term rise of electricity bills, since part of the company's activities will be open to the stock market, and share-holders will quickly want to make profits," he added. "Second, this will also be a catastrophe for all the employees of the electricity sector, as the move will pave the way for social dumping."

But unions hope to pile pressure on EDF's management and the government to delay the project, arguing that a split would only weaken the group. The company is to present a final proposal by the end of the year.

"Nobody should forget that the one primarily responsible for EDF's situation today is undoubtedly the state (...) Dismantling EDF cannot be the answer", the unions said in a statement.

The strike was more disruptive than previous stoppages, with four unions representing a majority of France's energy workers joining forces behind the walkout. Previously, the unions have not acted together.

Unions leaders are expected to meet later on Thursday to decide whether further action is needed. The CGT has said it wants another strike on Sept. 24.

After the strike started on Wednesday night, there was a loss of power generation of over 8 percent, and by Thursday midday it had fallen another two percentage points, according to data from EDF and grid operator RTE.

The strike has reduced power generation by some 6 gigawatts, affecting the output only in several nuclear, hydro and gas-fired power plants. 

Power station outages will not knock out the grid or hit households, though cuts in power output are costly for EDF, as it has to import any shortfall.

EDF operates all 58 French nuclear reactors, which account for around 75 percent of the country's electricity needs.


]]> <![CDATA[Two Members of Cuba's UN Mission Expelled From US]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 17:41:30 -04:00 The United States announced Thursday the expulsion of 2 Cuban diplomats before the United Nations, accused of activities that, according to them, undermine US national security.

"We asked 2 members of the Cuban delegation to the UN to leave the United States who had engaged in activities that jeopardize US national security " while the UN General Assembly is just beginning, said State Department's spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

“ The members of the Cuban delegation to the United Nations should also travel only in Manhattan,”

The Cuban response was swift, Bruno Rodriguez, Cuba's Foreign Minister stated via Twitter that he "Categorically rejects the unjustified expulsion of 2 officials of the Permanent Mission of #Cuba #UN and hardening of restriction of movement to diplomats and families. The imputation that they performed acts incompatible with their diplomatic status is vulgar slander."

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela Establishes Petro as Payment System]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 16:51:17 -04:00 Homes under construction today through the Gran Mision Vivienda Venezuela (GMVV) will be paid with Petro cryptocurrency, in response to the U.S. economic blockade, reported Habitat and Housing Minister Ildemaro Villarroel.

 Maduro: Trump Has Obsessive Hatred Against Latin Americans

This system, implemented by President Nicolas Maduro, is a mechanism to strengthen and counteract the effects of money manipulation and the U.S. government's aggression against the South American nation, explained Villarroel.

He pointed out that 4,740 of the 40,000 homes to be built through Petro incentives are currently under construction, with the aim of confronting the existing economic war against the Venezuelan people.

'These actions will allow businessmen to use the currency to finance the construction of houses of social interest with private capital,' he said.

The minister also stressed that this system allows the construction of the cheapest homes in Latin America, through a legal procedure, which protects the execution of this policy.

GMVV is a program created in 2011 by Commander Hugo Chavez (1954-2013) to help families affected by the heavy rains between late 2010 and early 2011.

Endorsed in the so-called Homeland Plan (government program), the authorities' goal is to reach the figure of three million houses built before the end of 2019, and five million by 2025.


]]> <![CDATA[Poll in Uruguay Shows People Support Leftist Daniel Martinez]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 15:30:43 -04:00 A new poll showed that more people want to vote for the ruling Frente Amplio (FA) of Uruguay and its presidential candidate Daniel Martinez. Their support grew to 40 percent in September, from 37 percent registered in August, ahead of the elections October 27, Radar pollster revealed today.


Uruguay Touts Tango and More in Bid for UNESCO Council Seat

The opposition, the National Party (PN), with Luis Lacalle Pou as a candidate, rose from 21 to 22 percent, and the Colorado Party (PC), with Ernesto Talvi, fell from 20 to 17 percent, According to the survey released tonight on the VTV cable channel.

In addition, support for another opposition Cabildo Open (CA), which nominated Guido Manini Rios, rose from 9 to 10 percent, other small parties added up to 5 percent and those who will vote blank or do not reveal their choice is about 5 percent. hundred.

To win in the first round the winner must reach the absolute majority.

In a possible ballot to be held on Nov. 24, the former mayor of Montevideo, Martinez (62 years), would probably face former Senator Lacalle Pou (46), who would have the support of economist Talvi (62) and other opposition sectors. 

The survey was conducted between September 11 and 16.

Around 2.3 percent said they will vote blank and 2.7 percent do not know or did not want to answer the question. Less than 1 percent of respondents stated that they would not vote, and they are removed from the calculation of the percentage of intention to vote.

The elections will define the successor of President Tabare Vazquez, of the leftist FA, a party that has ruled uninterruptedly since 2005. The Uruguayan Constitution prevents the re-election of the president in a consecutive term.

]]> <![CDATA[Syrian Military Shoots Down Drone Over Rural Damascus: SANA]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 14:25:11 -04:00 The Syrian military shot down an enemy drone over southeastern Damascus this evening, the state-owned Syrian Arab News Agency reported. 


Syria Says US-Turkey 'Safe Zone' Patrol Violates Sovereignty

Syrian state media said the drone was shot down by the Syrian military as it was flying over the Aqraba suburb in Damascus' southeastern countryside. 

The reports did not specify who the 'enemy' drone belonged to, but it is believed to be an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle . 

Israel previously bombed the Aqraba suburb in early September, killing and wounding several members of Lebanon's Hezbollah forces. 

The Israeli military would follow up this attack by flying a suicide drone into the Hezbollah media center building in the southern suburb of Beirut. No one was injured during the attack, but the Lebanese government, including many Hezbollah opponents, and the Islamic Resistance's central command both condemned the attack.

Hezbollah would later respond to this attack by launching an anti-tank guided missile at an Israeli military vehicle that was traveling along the Lebanese-Israeli border. 

Israel said no one was hurt during the attack, which contradicted Hezbollah's claims about one IDF soldier being killed and few more wounded. 

Both sides eventually halted their hostilities after several international entities, including the United Nations, urged them to end the violence. 

]]> <![CDATA[Israel: Gantz Rebuffs Netanyahu's 'Unity Gov't' Offer]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 14:22:46 -04:00 Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw his offer Thursday of a coalition with his strongest political rival swiftly rebuffed after failing to secure a governing majority in a tight election.


Israeli Gov't Legalizes Colony in Palestinian Jordan's Valley

Netanyahu's surprise move was an abrupt change of strategy for the right-wing leader. Benny Gantz's rejection of this offer could spell weeks of wrangling after Tuesday's election, which followed an inconclusive national ballot in April.

Gantz's centrist Blue and White party emerged from the second round of voting this year slightly ahead of Netanyahu's Likud but lacking the numbers in the 120-member parliament to form a ruling bloc.

Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving leader, said in a video clip in which he urged Gantz, the country's former military chief, to meet him "as soon as today", that he had pledged during the election campaign to form a right-wing, Likud-led government.

"But to my regret, the election results show that this is impossible," Netanyahu said. "Benny, we must set up a broad unity government, as soon as today. The nation expects us, both of us, to demonstrate responsibility and that we pursue cooperation."

Responding to Netanyahu's call, Gantz made no mention of the prime minister and said he himself would head a "liberal" coalition, political shorthand for one that excludes the Israeli leader's long-time ultra-Orthodox allies.

Gantz said Israelis were eager for a unity government to end the political uncertainty.

But he then left it to Moshe Yaalon, a fellow Blue and White leader, to deliver a stinging rejection of a partnership with Netanyahu, citing looming corruption charges against the prime minister, who has denied any wrongdoing.

"We will not enter a coalition led by Netanyahu," Yaalon said, echoing a position Gantz had taken throughout the election campaign and appearing to suggest that an alliance with Likud would be possible if it dumped its veteran chief.

"The time has come for you to tell Netanyahu, 'Thank you for all you've done'," Yaalon urged Likud members - who have shown no sign so far of rebellion.

Netanyahu said he was "surprised and disappointed" and reiterated his call to Gantz to join him.

"It's what the public expects of us," Netanyahu said about a broad government.

The campaigns run by Netanyahu, 69, and Gantz, 60, pointed to only narrow differences on many important issues, and an end to the Netanyahu era would be unlikely to bring about significant changes in policy on relations with the United States, the regional struggle against Iran or the Palestinian conflict.

With Israeli media reporting 99 percent of votes counted in Tuesday's election, a Likud-led right-wing, religious bloc looked poised to control 55 of parliament's 120 seats, with up to 57 going to a center-left alliance.

Once all the votes are counted, President Reuven Rivlin, who welcomed Netanyahu's unity call, will hold consultations with parties that won representation in parliament and give one of its leaders up to 42 days to form a government.

The political deadlock left former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the far-right Yisrael Beitenu party which has eight seats, as a potential kingmaker in the coalition-building. He has called for a secular unity government.

But Lieberman, on Thursday, was unconvinced by Netanyahu's unity offer, which, in a statement, he said was "no more than a trick and an attempt to paint a false picture to prepare public opinion for a third round of elections."

Gantz is a newcomer to politics. Many voters saw him as a "Mr Clean", an alternative to Netanyahu and the cloud of alleged criminal misdeeds hanging over him.

Netanyahu's call for a broad government preceded a scheduled visit later on Thursday by outgoing U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt, an architect of President Donald Trump's as-yet unveiled plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Palestinians, who seek a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital, have rejected the Trump plan out of hand, accusing the president of pro-Israeli bias.

With Israeli politics in flux, Netanyahu canceled his annual speech at the U.N. General Assembly next week, a spokesman said on Wednesday about a visit that might have provided an opportunity to meet with Trump.

Netanyahu highlighted his close ties with Trump in his election campaign. But in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Trump appeared to distance himself from Netanyahu, amid political stalemate in Israel.

He told reporters he had not spoken to Netanyahu since Tuesday's ballot and said: "Our relationship is with Israel".

]]> <![CDATA[Maduro: Trump Has Obsessive Hatred Against Latin Americans]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 16:06:09 -04:00 In the new season of his RT TV show, Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa on Thursday interviewed Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, where both critically addressed the complex realities the Bolivarian Revolution is currently facing.


Maduro: 'Tremendous Scandal', Guaido With Colombian Narcos

During their one-hour conversation, those leaders of the contemporary Latin American politics talked about the economic and social situation of Venezuela, which, as Correa said, is "victim of a disinformation campaign" whereby political opposition tries to get benefit from problems that have been "clearly caused by the so-called 'sanctions' which are actually illegal aggressions against sovereign countries."

In order to highlight the effects of the U.S.-led economic aggression, President Maduro recalled that from the beginning of President Hugo Chavez's administration in 1999 up to 2015, “we had annual revenues of US$50 billion from oil sales. Now we only receive US$4 billion.”

Maduro also mentioned that the death of Commander Hugo Chavez in March 2013 meant a "very big blow" for his country because "internal enemies, but especially the U.S. imperial power, began to design tactics to replace Chavismo."

During the presidency of Donald Trump, over the last two years, "the war with Washington has had a devastating effect on our social stability and people's lives," the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader said.

"Venezuela cannot either open or close international bank accounts. It cannot pay for any type of product. In addition, we are now being threatened with a complete naval blockade."

In his talk with Correa, the Bolivarian president once again denounced that the U.S. government actions imply many financial costs to the Venezuelans. "They have confiscated and robbed us of almost US$30 billion," Maduro said and explained that Venezuela is living "an economy of resistance."

In order to tackle this situation, his administration has established priority policies, one of which is food and medicine production. This goal is "at the center" of those priorities so as to be able to supply the population.

"Venezuela has no sanctions, it has aggressions," Maduro said and added "Trump has kind of AN obsessive hatred against Latin American peoples, refugees, immigrants; he has a special hatred against the Venezuelan people and our history."

"I compare [what happens now] with the Hitler era, with that same vision that Hitler imposed against the Jews before the war," he stressed.

Based on the challenges it faces at the current ​​​​​​​historical moment, the Venezuelan government is laying the long-term foundations to overcome the country's traditional dependence on oil revenues.

"I have defined 16 'development drivers' on the basis of our country's economic, industrial and technological realities," Maduro said and recalled that transforming a natural resources-based growth model, which has been in place for the last 100 years, is a difficult task.

Nevertheless,, "despite all imperial aggressions, we are standing still and ready to resume the path towards growth", President Maduro said.​​​​​​​

#NoMoreTrump Campaign Ends With 13m Signatures Expected

For his part, in order to illustrate what is happening in Venezuelans' everyday live, former President Correa asked the audience to imagine what it means to live under siege.

"Imagine a country which cannot sell oil, its main product; even if it could sell it and obtain some foreign currency, it cannot buy anything because it cannot use the international financial system," the Ecuadorean politician said.

“That is what they have done to Venezuela. And, in their eagerness to sanction a government without having the right to do so, they are sanctioning the whole population," Correa stressed.​​​​​​​

Before finishing the interview, Correa invited President Maduro to describe in his own words the Venezuelan political system.

"In Venezuela, they tell us, there is no democracy and you are a 'usurper'," Correa said provocatively.

"Over 20 years of revolution, we have had 25 elections for president, governors and mayors," Maduro replied and, with a hint of irony, he said that it would be "a strange dictatorship."

Then the Venezuelan president recalled that the Chavista movement has beaten the opposition in 23 out of those 25 elections.

Rafael Correa concluded his program by reiterating his support for Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan people.

"Intellectual honesty does not mean being neutral, which is impossible. Intellectual honesty means trying to keep objectivity, despite the partiality we all have and our ideological inclinations."

]]> <![CDATA[Canadian PM Justin Trudeau Slammed for 'Brownface' ]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 13:24:48 -04:00 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's brownface picture scandal deepened Thursday as other images of him emerged wearing dark make-up only hours after he had apologized for what he characterized as a racist act at a 2001 costume party.


Canada: Trudeau Admits Breaking Ethics Rule, Doesn't Apologize

With less than five weeks to go before a national election, Time magazine published a picture of him Wednesday in brownface from an "Arabian Nights" party when he was a 29-year-old teacher at a private school in Vancouver.

During his apology, he also admitted to performing "Day O", a traditional Jamaican song made famous by Harry Belafonte, in brownface during a high school talent show years earlier. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp then published a picture from that performance that was confirmed as authentic by a spokeswoman.

"I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn't have done it. I should have known better. It was something that I didn't think was racist at the time, but now I recognise it was something racist to do and I am deeply sorry,” Trudeau said Wednesday. 

Also, Global News put out a video showing Trudeau again in dark make-up making faces and sticking his tongue out. It was not immediately clear exactly when that video was from.

"We can confirm that it is him and it's from the early 1990s," a Liberal official said of the video without clarifying the circumstances around the video.

Trudeau was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for a campaign stop, and he was due to speak to reporters at an event there at 2:15 p.m. local time.

He spent the morning calling "many" Liberal candidates and community leaders to fully apologize for what he did "knowing how racist and hurtful this type of thing was to do," spokeswoman Eleanore Catenaro said.

Trudeau has championed racial equality and diversity as prime minister over the past four years, and he has three prominent ministers of Indian descent in his cabinet.

But it was clear when his main competitor, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, called him "unfit to govern" late Wednesday that it could be a turning point in a very tight election race that now has the two virtually tied.

"It is clearly very damaging at this time and the full impacts will not become clear for a week or so," said Frank Graves, head of EKOS Research polling company.

"I don't think it will be fatal but time will tell. The Liberals have high ground on the diversity and racism file, and Trudeau needs to unremittingly note how he screwed up... Voters will then decide," he said.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic party called the incident “jarring.”

Green party leader Elizabeth May said she was “deeply shocked by the racism shown in this photograph of Justin Trudeau.”

]]> <![CDATA[New Images Show Guaido with Leader of Narco-Paramilitary Group]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 12:32:46 -04:00 The head of the Venezuelan Public Ministry Tarek William Saab said Thursday that an investigation has been opened relating to opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido and his links to 'Los Rastrojos', a narco-parliamentary organization operating on the Colombian-Venezuelan border. The top prosecutor also said new images showing Guaido with leaders of the narco-parliamentary organization will be included in his office's probe. 

Juan Guaido Entered Colombia With Help from Paramilitaries, Drug Cartels

Earlier the Minister of Interior Nestor Reverol affirmed that Guaido's trip from Venezuela to Colombia on Feb. 22, was an "extraction operation made by narco-paramilitaries that provided him with security."

The lawmaker, who had illegally declared himself "interim president" of Venezuela in January, was heading to the Colombian city of Cucuta to attend the concert 'Venezuela Aid Live'.

Saab spoke of some images revealed in the TV program 'Con el Mazo Dando' hosed by the president of the National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello a day earlier, where Guaido is accompanied by Jonathan Orlando Zambrano García, alias 'Patron Pobre' who is another member of the right-wing paramilitary group that operates between Colombia and Venezuela. The photos showed Guaido and Zambrano García embracing, and others showed the narco trafficker in the driver's seat of a car in which Guaido was in. 

The Venezuelan prosecutor also spoke of John Jairo Durán, known as 'El Menor', one of the members of 'Los Rastrojos' who appears next to Guaido in one of the images. His group tried to kill him last week but failed to do so and instead killed four of his relatives.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Tunisia's Ousted President Ben Ali Dies in Saudi Exile]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 11:11:40 -04:00 Tunisia's ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali died in exile in Saudi Arabia Thursday, days after a free presidential election in his homeland, his family lawyer said.

"Ben Ali just died in Saudi Arabia," the lawyer, Mounir Ben Salha, told Reuters by phone.

Ben Ali fled Tunisia in January 2011 as his compatriots rose up against his oppressive rule in a revolution that inspired other Arab Spring uprisings abroad and led to a democratic transition at home.

On Sunday, Tunisians voted in an election that featured candidates from across the political spectrum, sending two political outsiders through to a second-round vote unthinkable during Ben Ali's own era of power.

However, while they have enjoyed a much smoother march to democracy than citizens of the other Arab states that also rose up in 2011, many of them are economically worse off than they were under Ben Ali.

While almost all the candidates in Sunday's election were vocal champions of the revolution, one of them, Abir Moussi, campaigned as a supporter of Ben Ali's ousted government, receiving 4 percent of the votes.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia: Indicators Confirm The Strength Of The Economic Model]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 12:36:17 -04:00 The Central Bank of Bolivia's (BCB) President Pablo Ramos reported that his country's International Reserves (IR) reached US$8.3 billion at the end of the first half of 2019, a figure which equals 19 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


Bolivia: Independent Poll Gives Evo Morales a Massive Lead

Besides having Latin America's second smallest foreign debt, Bolivia displays macroeconomic indicators that testify about the suitability of the development policies implemented by President Evo Morales.

Its current IR levels provide Bolivia with financial security in the event of an external shock or a fall in commodity prices, for those US$8.3 billion could guarantee this Andean country eight months of imports in a row.

The BCB also reported that IR investments yielded US$75 million that were reinvested in the Juana Azurduy Bonus (BJA), a social development implemented in 2009.

Through this conditional cash transfer program, the Bolivian government guarantees the health of pregnant women who receive an additional monthly income on the condition that they attend four prenatal checkups, institutional childbirth and postnatal check-ups.

"We participated in the signing of a contract for ​​​​​​​expanding the San Geronimo de Yacuiba neighborhood's drinking water system. Thanks to the My Irrigation and My Water programs, we also delivered an irrigation system in Yaguacua and home drinking water connections in Caiza Estacion."
"We can invest now because we are well economically. We have a political instrument that recovered our ancestors' values and achieved electoral victories. For us, politics means service for the benefit of the people. Unity guarantees Bolivia's development."

Ramos reported that the public-debt-to-GDP ratio in Bolivia averaged 25 percent at the end of June. This figure corresponds to the medium and long-term debt and was presented in the context of a presidential campaign in which opposition politicians have tried to debunk the strength of the Bolivian growth model.

They have argued that public external debt increased from US$5 billion in 2005 to US$11 billion in 2019. However, they do not mention that the Bolivian GDP quadrupled in that same period as it went from US$9.5 billion to US$40.5 billion, which means that this Andean country is able to fulfill its obligations more easily.

The BCB president also explained that Bolivia's GDP per capita, which measures national economic output that accounts for its number of people, tripled as it increased from US$1,037 in 2005 to US$3,589 in 2018.

Unlike what happened ​​​​​​​before Morales took office in January 2006, when this South American country used to obey the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recipes, Bolivian children are no longer highly-indebted since birth.

This is so because the GDP-per-capita value is USD2,689 higher than the value of the Bolivian per capita debt, Ramos recalled.​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[US Drone Strike 'Accidentally' Kills 30 Afghan Farmers ]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 10:40:37 -04:00 A U.S. drone strike intended to hit an Islamic State (IS) group hideout in Afghanistan killed at least 30 civilians resting after a day’s labor in the fields, officials said Thursday.


‘Our Doors Are Open for Peace Talks’: Taliban to Trump

The attack on Wednesday night also injured another 40 people after accidentally targeting farmers and laborers who had just finished collecting pine nuts at Wazir Tangi in eastern Nangarhar province, three Afghan officials told Reuters.

“The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them,” tribal elder Malik Rahat Gul told by telephone from Wazir Tangi.

Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry and a senior U.S official in Kabul confirmed the drone strike but did not share details of civilian casualties.

“U.S. forces conducted a drone strike against Da’esh (IS) terrorists in Nangarhar,” said Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts.”

About 14,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, training and advising Afghan security forces and conducting counter-insurgency operations against IS group and the Taliban movement.

Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar, said at least nine bodies had been collected from the site. Haidar Khan, who owns the pine nut fields, said about 150 workers were there for harvesting, with some still missing as well as the confirmed dead and injured.

IS group fighters first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north where they are battling the government, U.S. forces and the Taliban.

The exact number of IS fighters is difficult to calculate because they frequently switch allegiances, but the U.S. military estimates there are about 2,000.

In a separate incident, at least 20 people died in a suicide truck bomb attack Thursday carried out by the Taliban in the southern province of Zabul.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in fighting across Afghanistan after the collapse of U.S.-Taliban peace talks this month. The Taliban has warned U.S. President Donald Trump will regret his decision to abruptly call off talks that could have led to a political settlement to end the 18-year-old war.

The United Nations says nearly 4,000 civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of the year. That included a big increase in casualties inflicted by government and U.S.-led foreign forces.

]]> <![CDATA[US Navy Admits Leaked 'Classified' UFO Footage is Real]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 10:25:26 -04:00 The U.S. Navy has confirmed that three clips showing mysterious objects traveling the air at a high speed were indeed authentic, stating that they were unsure if the objects were drones or something else.


'Alien Asteroid' May Be The Oldest Object In Our Solar System

One of the videos confirmed by the Navy was filmed in 2004, while two others were taken by U.S. fighter pilots in 2015. The latter two videos featured audio from the U.S. fighter pilots; they expressed disbelief at what they saw.

Speaking to NBC News this week, the U.S. naval spokesperson Joseph Gradisher said that the Navy has classified the objects "unidentified aerial phenomena."

"The three videos show incursions into our military training ranges by unidentified aerial phenomena. The Navy has characterised the observed phenomena as unidentified," Gradisher said. 

The clips, which were first released by the Stars Academy of Arts & Science, a research group co-founded by Blink 182 frontman Tom DeLonge, said they went through a "declassification review process" and were approved for release.

The naval spokesperson has disputed the claims made by the Stars Academy of Arts & Science; in particular, the 2004 clip which was taken aboard an aricraft from the USS Nimitz carrier group.

He would add the U.S. Navy "has no information regarding how the 2015 clips ended up in the public domain. The two clips were first published by the New York Times after they surfaced. 

The U.S. government does not often discuss these cases and has often discouraged people from seeking information about these unidentified flying objects (UFO). 

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil Will Not Take The Floor At The UN Climate Summit]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 10:41:16 -04:00 The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba, said Brazil is not on the list of countries that will address the climate summit, which is scheduled to be held in New York on September 23.


Brazil: Temer Admits Impeachment of Rousseff Was a Coup

"Brazil has not put forward any plans to increase its commitment to climate change," De Alba said.

Previously, the United Nations requested the governments of its member countries to present a plan indicating what their actions would be to either mitigate or halt global climate change.

On the basis of the documents received, the U.N. authorities selected which countries would have important and pertinent speeches; Brazil was not among them, for its President Jair Bolsonaro is a climate denialist.

Brazil intended to speak during the summit, according to a Brazilian officer who said the U.N. criterion was "subjective".

Bolsonaro's diplomats, however, proposed to the U.N. that they hold an event to promote Brazilian biofuels at the summit's opening. Although this proposal was denied, an event to discuss biofuels is scheduled for Sunday.

Although President Bolsonaro has been practically banned, his government officials will attend the environmental summit and try to deliver a speech.

"If they let me talk, I will talk," said Brazil's Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, who is expected to attend the U.N. climate summit.

Environmental activists, who are looking for governments to have genuine commitments, welcomed the exclusion of Brazil from the opening speeches.

“The U.N. decision is welcomed. Global actors must demonstrate climate commitments to deserve a space,” Jennifer Morgan, director Greenpeace, said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened the 2019 climate summit with the purpose that heads of state could assume greater environmental commitments.

Such a goal was not particularly accepted by the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, which considers it an obstacle to the negotiations process established at the Paris Agreement.

According to the U.N. Secretary-General, however, a discussion on environmental commitments should not be postponed, for urgent actions are needed to contain the effects of adverse events, such as the Amazon's fires.

The commitments announced by the countries in the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 are not enough to contain the rise in the planet's average temperature below 2ºC.

]]> <![CDATA[Iran Warns of 'All-Out War' if Attacked by US and Allies]]> Thu, 19 Sep 2019 08:28:27 -04:00 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Thursday that any attack on the Islamic Republic would lead to an "all-out war".


Saudi Gives 'Evidence' of Iran's 'Attack' on Oil Reserve, Pompeo Calls it 'Act of War'

Zarif made the comment to CNN after he was asked what would happen if Iran was attacked by the U.S. and its allies

“I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want war; we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation ... But we won’t blink to defend our territory,” Zarif told CNN in an interview.

The United States has been discussing with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies possible responses to an attack on Saudi oil facilities on Saturday which they blame on Iran, and which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described as an act of war on the kingdom.

Zarif had earlier warned on Twitter that what he described as the B team - including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman - was deceiving U.S. President Donald Trump into a war against Iran.

Trump struck a cautious note on Wednesday. He said there were many options short of war with Iran, which denies involvement in the Sept. 14 strikes that initially halved Saudi oil output. He ordered increased sanctions on Tehran.

Zarif also said in a tweet on Thursday that Pompeo was trying to delay issuing visas for the Iranian delegation to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

Trump said he is not looking to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a U.N. event in New York this month.

]]> <![CDATA[Nearly Half of Bermuda Without Power as Humberto Hits]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 23:38:31 -04:00 Over 27,000 Bermudans are without electricity, according to the island’s main supplier, Belco, due to the presence of Hurricane Humberto that sits north of the island by about 140 km, whirling at the rate of 190 km per hour, as of Wednesday night.


"The Blob": A Monstrous Oceanic Heat Wave Hits Western US Coast

The category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale-storm is prompting Belco to declare the company in “emergency state” as over 80 percent of its users are left without power.

Earlier on Wednesday, the electric company told customers to refrain from using electrical products and appliances, only the case of emergencies. The National Security Minister Wayne Caines is telling residents and visitors to not leave their homes.

The United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that "a prolonged period of dangerous winds is expected to continue ... through Thursday morning, with hurricane-force winds expected during the next several hours," regarding Humberto that is hitting the island located approximately 1,300 km off the North Carolina coast.

Bermuda Governor John Rankin said military members will be conducting relief work in the wake of Hurricane Humberto that could produce waves as high as nine meters on the island’s northwest coast, and precipitation of up to 15 cm in some spots. Storm swells and flooding are being predicted for Florida's east coast line and along North Carolina beaches, according to the hurricane center.

Government offices and schools closed at noon Sept. 18, as is Hamilton Harbour. Regularly scheduled overnight flights from London, Miami and New York into the L.F. Wade International Airport were cancelled.

Humberto's eye should pass "just northwest and north of Bermuda tonight" and it is expected that from Thursday afternoon it will begin to weaken, according to the NHC based in Florida.

Meanwhile, three other major storms are hitting the Atlantic coast. Imelda, is currently a tropical depression, setting up to hit eastern Texas. Tropical Storm Jerry, still far east of the Leeward Islands, could become a hurricane by the end of the week.

Only 21 hurricanes have come within 160 km of the British island of Bermuda over the past century, with Hurricane Gonzalo in 2014 the last to make landfall there.

"They go by, but it's such a small target," CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett said. "So, they don't usually make landfall."

]]> <![CDATA[A Border-Industrial Complex Behind Anti-Migrant Policy: Report]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 23:08:58 -04:00 As United States President Donald Trump boasted Wednesday on the impenetrability of his U.S.-Mexico border wall, a new report by the Transnational Insitute shows that border militarization long pre-dates the Trump administration, in which both Republican and Democrats have forged “profitable” partnership between security firms to form a "powerful border–industrial complex."

US: Pentagon Approves Use of $3.6B For Trump’s Border Wall

As the last three decades have witnessed an ever-growing boom in U.S. border spending, the report, titled ‘More Than a Wall’ and released Monday, shows “this political consensus has been forged to a significant degree by the world’s largest arms (as well as a number of other security and IT) corporations that have made massive profits from the exponential growth of government budgets for border control.”

According to the author Todd Miller, U.S. budgets for border and migration have more than doubled in the last 15 years and increased by more than 6,000 percent since 1980, as they rose from US$350 million to US$23.7 billion in 2018, under two agencies, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“A closer look at border policy over the last decades, however, shows that Trump is ratcheting up – and ultimately consolidating – a long-standing U.S. approach to border control,” Miller explains.

For the U.S. president, migration is one the main campaign promises and preferred scapegoat to address structural problems, regarding inequality especially in ‘deep America’. The border-wall is just how Trump has managed to materialize this rhetoric, as his “Build the wall” promise has morphed into the rallying campaign cry “Finish the wall.”

The project is based on a 2017 plan presented by CPB officials to build or replace 1,162 km (722 miles) of fence along the Mexican border, with a total estimated cost of about US$18 billion. At the moment only 179 km (111 miles) have been built or are underway.

And behind projects like the U.S.-Mexico wall stand 14 companies that are considered the power players in the industry: Accenture, Boeing, Elbit, Flir Systems, G4S, General Atomics, General Dynamics, IBM, L3 Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, PAE, Raytheon, and UNISYS.

Coincidentally, these arms, security, and tech corporate giants are also the biggest campaign contributors to members of the House Appropriations Committee, the congressional body that regulates expenditures of the federal government, or earmarks the money for potential contracts; as well as to members of the strategic House Homeland Security Committee, which handles legislation on border and migration control.

The consolidation of the border-industrial complex, and its deep-rooted ties within the federal government, is topped by an army of lobbyists that sway legislation towards their business.  In total, from 2002 to 2019 there were nearly 20,000 reported lobbying visits related to homeland security.

“Corporations’ success in winning ever-bigger contracts is not an unexpected bonanza but has been engineered by the same corporations’ growing involvement in U.S. politics,” the report reads.

Yet it's not just firms that profit from border security. Research centers and universities are large beneficiaries that also help to double-down on rhetoric needed to justify such large expending, through nine Centers of Excellence on Borders, Trade, & Immigration that in 2017 received US$10 million directly, with another US$90 million dedicated to research and development.

“These border-security giants exercise a strong influence on Republican and Democrat politicians in strategic positions in the executive and legislature as well as in key media positions,” Miller affirms in the report. 

The document thus concludes that any strategy to change the direction of U.S. policy on migration will require confronting this border–industrial complex and removing its influence over politics and policy. 

]]> <![CDATA[Sri Lanka's Presidential Elections to Be Held on Nov. 16]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 21:23:47 -04:00 Sri Lanka's Elections Commission announced on Wednesday night that the country's presidential elections will be held on Nov. 16.

The election date is set nearly two months before the incumbent's term ends. In a special gazette notification, the Elections Commission said candidates could present their nominations on Oct. 7.

 Sri Lanka to Send Toxic Waste, Human Remains Back to UK

The island country's main opposition party has named former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's younger brother and former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa as its presidential candidate.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's ruling United National Party (UNP) will name its candidate next week, UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.

The minority Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has named leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake as the JVP's presidential candidate.

Elections Commission officials, quoted in local media reports, said that there could be a record 18 candidates in this year's presidential polls.

]]> <![CDATA[Ex-Vice President of Odebrecht Found Dead in Rio Apartment]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 20:47:16 -04:00 A former top Odebrecht executive was found dead in his Rio de Janeiro apartment Tuesday night after cutting a deal with state prosecutors to provide confessions and accomplices of the company’s systemic corruption to buy out politicians in return for public works projects. 


Odebrecht Paid $61 million in Bribes to Peruvian Politicians

The ex-vice president of the Brazil-based multinational construction conglomerate, Henrique Valladares, was one of the main informants of the company’s corruption scandals that amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks to high-ranking elected officials in several Latin American countries. He signed with the state prosecutor's office to confess his and the company’s wrong doings, in exchange for a reduced sentence. He was found dead at his residence in Rio de Janeiro Tuesday night by relatives. 

Medical officials performed an autopsy on the body of Valladares, but failed to establish his mode of death, which was pronounced as "indeterminate." According to the police, his body is now with family members.

Valladares was one of the main executives, among about 100, to collaborate with the Brazilian judicial department. Their agreement meant the former top business partner would provide critical information about the multitude of bribes paid to Brazilian officials in exchange for their unfairly contracting Odebrecht.  and in several Latin American and African countries, including Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

Among other confessions, Valladares said he approved the illegal contribution of 50 million Brazilian reais (about US$12.5 million) in foreign accounts to then Senator Aecio Neves, who was defeated by Dilma Rousseff in the second round of the 2014 presidential elections. 

The deceased VP also accused the former Minister of Mines and Energy, Edison Lobao, of accepting bribes in exchange for public contracts in the energy sector. According to Valladares, Lobao demanded a bribe from the company to construct the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant.

He also confessed that Odebrecht paid off Indigenous and unions in the region to refrain from protesting power plants in the Amazon.

So far, it’s known that the construction company also paid out millions of dollars in Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Panama, as well as to officials in African countries. State prosecutors in Peru recently tallied that Odebrecht allegedly gave out over US$60 million in bribes to Peruvian officials, including four former presidents. 

]]> <![CDATA[Rwandan Hutu Militia Commander Killed in Congo, Army Says]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 20:55:44 -04:00 The Democratic Republic of Congo’s army said on Wednesday that it had killed Sylvestre Mudacumura, the commander of a Rwandan Hutu militia who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Rwanda to Take in Refugees Trapped in Libya’s Detention Centers

The FDLR has waged periodic war with the Congolese government and rival militias, and Rwanda’s government has cited its presence on Congolese soil to justify repeated interventions across the border.

“Sylvestre Mudacumura was neutralized by the armed forces of Congo along with all the elements accompanying him ... in Rutshuru territory,” army spokesman Richard Kasonga told Reuters.

Mudacumura’s death is the latest blow to the FDLR, which has been weakened in recent years by arrests of several of its leaders and military pressure from Congo’s armed forces, the FARDC, and other militias.

Rwandan foreign affairs ministry official Olivier Nduhungirehe told Reuters he did not have confirmation himself of Mudacumura’s killing, but it was good news for peace and security in the region.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala: Local Land Conflict Leaves At Least Two Dead]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 19:09:46 -04:00 Guatemala’s Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart said Wednesday that he is "analyzing" the idea to declare a state of emergency in two municipalities of the centrally located department of Solola after an armed conflict between two local communities left two dead and about 15 injured.


UNHCR Regrets US Regulations Denying Asylum to Migrants

"Indeed, we have already received a request (and) it’s being analyzed,” Degenhart told reporters Sept. 18. Procedurally, the minister will prepare a recommendation, which is sent to the president.

According to the president’s cabinet, Degenhart said, only one person has been killed over the local feud, but the prosecutor's office tells EFE that there were at least two dead and 15 wounded.

However, Solola governor, Rodolfo Salazar, confirmed the local press that at least four were killed in the shoot out. Two residents from Nahuala, Francisco Feliciano Tzoc and Florencio David de Paz were killed, says Prensa Libre, and two from Ixtahuacan, whose names are unknown because relatives took away the bodies. One of them died from a gunshot wound to the head, reports local media. 

The Assistant Director of the Human Rights Department of the Prosecutor’s Office Miguel Colop says that on the evening of Sept. 17, community members of Nahuala had entered the bordering town of Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, about 171 km from Guatemala City, to intimidate Ixtahuacan residents, resulting in deaths and injuries.

Historian Diego Vasquez Monterroso says the confrontations between Nahuala and Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan are "not new" because the municipalities, which judicially separated in the 19th century, are still arguing over territorial boundaries and water rights. 

Mayor of Nahuala, Manuel Tzoc Carrillo, says the problem persists because the "central government does not litigate the issue." He added that Nahuala residents are “dismayed” and that "the situation is very bad because the authorities cannot solve this problem” even though they have been working with residents to resolve the issue.

According to national law, the executive can decree the state of emergency for reasons of "terrorist, seditious or rebellious" acts that pose the potential for public violence, or when serious events "endanger the constitutional order or state security. "

The emergency can also be called when "acts of … kidnapping, murder, armed attacks against individuals" are occurring. The decree obliges the public to provide the military authority "with the assistance and cooperation required of them, within the scope of their capabilities," and citizens’ rights, movement and ability to protest will be restricted by state security forces.

Regarding the local conflict, in June one person was injured over the feud and another was shot dead on April 1, 2019. 

The Guatemalan government recently declared a state of emergency over more than twenty municipalities in the northeast sector of the country to allegedly combat drug trafficking after the military was attacked by narcotics groups.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico Denounces 'Illegal' Auction of Precolumbian Art in Paris]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 21:15:37 -04:00 Mexico's Foreign Ministry urged French auction house Millon to halt what it called an "illegal" auction of 120 pieces of pre-Columbian artefacts at an event in Paris on Wednesday.

Uruguay Touts Tango and More in Bid for UNESCO Council Seat

"Mexico is the rightful owner of these artworks, and we've come here to express our unhappiness and to explain why this violates not only Mexican law but also international law," Juan Manuel Gomez-Robledo, the country's ambassador to France, told reporters outside the Drouot auction house where the sale was set to take place.

"We are obviously very aware that a substantial part of the market is fed by illicit digs. The Mexican state by definition does not know what was stolen because it happened in secret but where these artworks are identified anywhere in the world we will act on the advice of experts."

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that some artefacts appeared to have been stolen or illegally sold while others may not be authentic.

The tensions over the pre-Columbian art pieces come amid a wider discussion over whether Western collectors and museums should return objects to their countries of origin. Collectors and museums often argue that in the place of origin of the artefact, those countries don't know how to care for the antiquaties. 

French President Emmanuel Macron last year became the first Western leader to initiate a comprehensive review of artefacts looted during colonial times and promised to return 26 pieces to Benin.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[California Governor Signs Gig Economy Labor Law]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 18:27:38 -04:00 United States California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a labor bill, which would require companies from the “gig economy” sector to reclassify their workers as employees.

Uber and Lyft Drivers Strike for Better Working Conditions Across the World

“California is now setting the global standard for worker protections for other states and countries to follow,” the state assemblywoman who authored the bill,  Lorena Gonzalez, said in a statement.

The new law, under the name of Assembly Bill 5, has been opposed by companies that depend heavily on ‘independent’ workers, including ride-hailing and delivery services such as Uber or Lyft. 

Through the contested legislation, which will go into effect on January 2020, these companies will only be allowed to considered private contractors those that are doing work that is outside the usual course of a company’s business. 

The law codifies a 2018 state supreme court ruling and applies it to a wide range of state laws. In theory, this will make many ridesharing and courier companies offer fundamental labor rights like minimum wage, overtime, and paid leave.

The progressive governor called it a "landmark legislation," adding that the "next step is creating pathways for more workers to form a union, collectively bargain to earn more, and have a stronger voice at work—all while preserving flexibility and innovation." 

In the meantime, Uber has warned it will aggressively contest that its drivers are not employees. While a Lyft spokesperson said that if necessary the company is prepared “to take this issue to the voters,” with Uber and DoorDash Inc. the companies have each committed US$30 million to put a referendum on the 2020 ballot. 

A Gridwise study — an app used by ride-share drivers to be more efficient — found that the average hourly driver pay is currently at US$18.65, which means drivers are bringing home an average US$9 per hour after working for 12 to 16 hours a day, according to Washington-based think tank, Economic Policy Institute.

Drivers demand a guaranteed US$28 per hour minimum rate so that after expenses like gas, insurance payments, maintenance, they can bring at least US$17 per hour as implemented in New York City. Uber has stated that it can't pay its drivers more money yet paid its top five executives US$143 million in total compensation last year alone. 

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina: Senate Approves Extension of ‘Food Emergency Bill’]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 17:29:12 -04:00 Argentina’s Upper House approved Wednesday an extension for the Food and Nutrition Emergency (EAN) bill, which establishes at least a 50 percent increase in the national budget for public food programs in socially vulnerable areas.

Argentina: Lower House Extends Food Emergency Until Dec. 2022

The project was unanimously approved with 61 votes in favor and no votes against or abstentions. Now after been ratified in the Senate, there will be a period of 10 days for its promulgation by the president. 

Presented by the opposition to mitigate the social consequences of devaluation and high inflation, the EAN bill extends until December 31, 2022, the national food emergency that was decreed in 2002 after the freezing of bank accounts, an event which forced authorities to create the National Food and Nutrition Program.

On Sept. 12 Argentina’s Lower House approved by 222 votes in favor and just one abstention the extension, which was preceded by mass demonstrations in Buenos Aires, held for four days in a row, despite the fact that President Mauricio Macri tried to contain the demonstrations through the use of police force.

Argentinian economic growth has stalled sharply since last year, while inflation is far outstripping salaries, leading to a sharp uptick in poverty.

The National Institute of Statistics and Census (Indec) forecasts that food prices will increase by 80 percent next December when at least 1 out of every 10 Argentinians will be going through extreme poverty and homelessness. At the beginning of 2019, there was already 14.3 million people living in poverty.

"The situation is getting worse and worse. In the beginning, only children attended dining rooms for the poor. Now there are also parents who have lost their jobs," Monica Diaz, a woman who coordinates 23 social soup kitchens at Lomas de Zamora, in Buenos Aires, said.

]]> <![CDATA[30,000 Children Risk Sexual Abuse After Mozambique Cyclones: UN]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 18:40:16 -04:00 Tens of thousands of children are at risk of abuse and exploitation in Mozambique six months after the country was devastated by Cyclone Idai, World Vision warned Tuesday.


24 Million Children Living in Warzones Need Mental Health Help

As the southern African country is still struggling to recover from Cyclones Idai and Kenneth that hit in March and April, more than 60,000 people, 30,000 of them children, are living in resettlement camps after their homes were destroyed.

“As people struggle to find food we know girls and boys will be at particular risk from being forced to drop out of school and into abusive work, or that girls may end up being married off as children or forced to trade in sex to help their families survive,” World Vision Response Director David Munkley said in a statement.

The United Nations said the international response needs another US$397 million to help to the needs of affected people over the coming months.

More than 277,700 homes and 1,300 schools were damaged or destroyed in the storms, displacing hundreds of thousands of survivors.

Around 25 percent of the country’s cereal crops were decimated just before harvests were due, which has resulted in rising malnutrition rates among children.

Food surveys done earlier in the year in cyclone and drought-affected areas found 67,500 children needed treatment for malnutrition.The situation is likely to be worse now as the poorest families struggle to feed their families while trying to rebuild their livelihoods.

Mozambique already had one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 48 percent of girls married before the age of 18 and 14 percent before the age of 15.


Sex-for-Aid Trade Affects Cyclone Idai Survivors: Report

The number of people going hungry is expected to increase from 1.6 million to 1.9 million.

“As people get hungrier and struggle to survive, it is the children who have to help families pick up the slack by turning to all manner of dangerous survival strategies," Munkley said, adding that “our job as humanitarians is to make sure children can be children and do not have their futures and their education stolen from them.”

Cyclone Idai made landfall on March 14 in Beira, the second largest city in the country, where it caused damage to 90 percent of the buildings and infrastructure. It continued moving inland until it entered neighboring Zimbabwe, where it killed 344 people.

Three weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth hit the province of Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, but because it was an area of lower population density it caused less damage and 31 deaths.

There are still around 2.5 million people who need help in the aftermath of the storms, which represents 10 percent of the population of the country, according to data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

]]> <![CDATA[Palestinian Woman Killed by Israeli Forces]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 16:39:16 -04:00 A Palestinian woman was shot dead by Israeli forces this Wednesday at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank occupied territory, after allegedly she held up a knife, Al Jazeera reported.

The woman, whose identity remains unknown was pronounced dead later at a hospital, but sources say she spent time without receiving medical attention at the scene, the checkpoint to access East Jerusalem which many cross every day, says Middle East Eye.


Apartheid': Palestinians Can't Vote in Israeli Election Set to Decide on Their Lands' Fate

A video circulating on social media shows a uniformed man shooting the woman at close range, who drops an item from her hand.  Several armed men approach the injured and kick the item away. 

According to the Quds News Network, she did not pose any threat to the soldiers, since she had just lost her way at the checkpoint. International organizations have often spoken out about Israeli forces using excessive force when confronting Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks, Al Jazeera continues.

Later on, the soldiers closed the passing in both directions, preventing people from getting to their jobs. They also attacked several Palestinian civilians.

A study reported by Middle East Eye says 56 of Palestinians killed by  Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem since 2015 died at the checkpoints, which thousands have to cross everyday.

The same study reflects that in dozens of cases Palestinians are killed in spite  of “no evidence of possessing an object threatening soldiers' lives", this according to Middle East Eye.

Al Jazeera said open-fire regulations are lighter since 2015, and Israeli police officers are allowed to shoot live rounds in response to any attack.

]]> <![CDATA[Fuel Prices Stable in Mexico Despite Saudi Attacks: AMLO]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 17:04:58 -04:00 President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday that Mexico’s oil supplies and fuel prices would remain stable despite the disruption to global crude output caused by the drone attacks on Saudi Arabian petroleum facilities.

China Rejects TIAR Activation Against Venezuela

“Now, with this attack on the plants in Saudi Arabia, despite the upward adjustments to the price of crude, we are protected,” Lopez Obrador, the founder and leader of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), said during his daily press conference at the National Palace.

The president assured Mexicans that gasoline prices would not spike.

“We’re going to continue keeping the commitment of not increasing the prices of fuels in real terms. Because, despite this special situation abroad, we’re going to have stability in our country,” said Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO.

While Mexico benefits from higher petroleum prices as a producer, a spike in fuel prices can have a negative impact on the economy because the country is an importer of gasoline and diesel, AMLO said.

“We have to see where the balance is. We have our supply of gasoline assured without problems via imports and the refining capacity of the six Pemex refineries has also increased,” Lopez Obrador said.

On Saturday, two refineries belonging to state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco, which accounts for about 5 percent of the world’s daily oil production, were attacked by drones, causing a 50 percent drop in output.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, a Shia militia engaged in a protracted civil war against the internationally recognized Yemeni government, claimed responsibility the attacks on the two Aramco refineries.

A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis and providing military support to Yemen’s government.

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks and said there was no evidence to suggest they were launched from Yemen despite the claims made by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Iran said Monday that it was not involved in the drone attacks on the Saudi oil facilities.

Washington is a key ally of Iran’s regional foes, Saudi Arabia and Israel.


]]> <![CDATA[Ecuadoreans Protest Criminalization of Abortions in Rape Cases]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 15:27:29 -04:00
More than 20,000 girls under fourteen gave birth in Ecuador between 2008 and 2018, according to official data.
Ecuador’s current abortion law has been in force since 1938, and the last debate to legalize abortion in cases of rape, in 2013, was also voted against.
In Ecuador, a conservative country with an 80 percent Catholic population, abortion is only allowed when the life or health of the mother is at risk or if a pregnancy is the result of the rape of a woman with a mental disability.
Had it been approved, the votes on Tuesday would have modified 45 articles of the nation’s penal code and created six provisions to allow abortion in the cases of rape, incest, or poorly formed fetus.
Groups in favor of decriminalizing abortion in all cases of rape claim some 2,500 teenagers give birth as a result of sexual assault in Ecuador every year.
Demonstrators who had been in favor of the plan gathered outside the National Assembly after the vote, some trying to tear down metal fences around the building.
The law will continue to penalize women who terminate their pregnancies with up to three years in prison.
]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela: Another Opposition Party Joins Dialogue with Gov't]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 14:28:03 -04:00 Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez welcomed Pastor Javier Bertucci, representing the party Hope for Change, who will join the Agreement of National Dialogue, which was signed earlier this week in hope of solving the problems that caused the U.S. blockade against Venezuela. 

Venezuelan Court Frees Opposition Lawmaker as Part of Agreements with Opposition

"The only thing we expect from the United States is to recover the path of dialogue with the government of Nicolas Maduro, they have only one way, dialogue and peaceful negotiation," said the vice president, in statements to the press. 

In a brief speech at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry together with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, Rodriguez slammed opposition groups that want Venezuela to go astray.

She reiterated that Venezuela does not want war. "That sector that today throws stones at the dialogue table is an isolated sector; the vast majority of Venezuelans and Venezuelans are happy with this initiative."

The vice president said the sector that integrates and supports the agreement between the opposition and the Government is the "majority".

She said the installation of the National Dialogue Table generates "great satisfaction" for the Venezuelan people.

Previously, the Hope for Change Movement joined the National Dialogue Table that was installed this Sept. 16 at the headquarters of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry between the government and the Venezuelan opposition.

Javier Bertucci signed the six agreements in the presence of representatives of the Bolivarian Revolution and delegates of the four right-wing political parties that are participating in the recent talks: MAS, Advanced Progress, Solutions, and Change.

"This table has as its main objective generating solutions in a short time, that allows us to verify the will of the government to articulate actions for the benefit of the population and that is an open invitation for all," Bertucci said in a statement to the media.


]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: Temer Admits Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff Was a Coup]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 15:24:12 -04:00 Brazil's former President Michel Temer acknowledged that the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff, Worker's Party leader, was indeed a coup d'etat


Brazil Judge Takes on Fresh Corruption Compliant Against Temer

During a TV interview watched by millions on Monday, the man who ruled Brazil from Aug. 2016 to Dec. 2019 stated that he never supported the "coup" which led to the impeachment of Rousseff, a leftist economist who held the Presidency from 2011 until her removal.

"I never supported or committed to the coup," Temer confessed and added that he tried to prevent the political trial against Dilma.

Brazil's Congress opened a political trial against Dilma Rousseff in 2016 due to alleged irregular management of public accounts. After her departure from the Presidency, she was replaced by her vice president, Michel Temer.

On Monday's interview, the 78-year-old politician tried to defend himself against accusations according to which he would have participated in the "organization" of several actions which led to Rousseff's dismissal.

"I couldn't organize a coup because the government had gotten very bad," Temer said.

"Michel Temer committed a new act of sincerity... He admitted that I suffered a coup d'etat and said that the political trial would not have happened if Lula had participated in my government."

He became vice-president after participating in the 2011 elections, a political process which the Workers' Party won comfortably.

After the coup against Dilma, he distanced himself from the Brazilian left, which since then has denounced him as being part of the coup plot.

Once he came to the Presidency, Temer became the center of a corruption scandal. However, Brazilian justice, which was already controlled by the far-right, did not prosecute him, arguing that the alleged criminal acts were committed before reaching office.

On Jan. 1, 2019, Michel Temer handed over power to Jair Bolsonaro, a former captain who is currently ruling Brazil.

]]> <![CDATA[Pompeo Calls Attack on Saudi Oil Reserve 'Act of War']]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 15:09:38 -04:00 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who arrived in Saudi Arabia Wednesday said the attack on oil reserve is an “act of war” adding that "this was an Iranian attack" on the country. 


Iran Warns of Immediate Response to Any US Strikes

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a major increase in sanctions on Iran Wednesday as Saudi Arabia displayed remnants of drones and missiles it said were used in a crippling attack “unquestionably sponsored” by Tehran.

Trump gave no explanation in a Twitter post announcing the order, but it followed repeated U.S. assertions that Iran was behind Saturday’s attack and came hours after Saudi Arabia said the strike was a “test of global will”.

“I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase sanctions on the country of Iran!” he wrote.

In an attempt to support its assertion that Iran was responsible, Saudi Arabia displayed drone and missile debris it said was undeniable evidence of Iranian aggression.

A total of 25 drones and missiles were used in the attacks launched from Iran, not Yemen, Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki told a news conference. 

“The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran,” he said, adding Iranian Delta Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were used in addition to cruise missiles.

An investigation into where the attacks were launched from was still underway and the result would be announced at a later date, he said.

Trump has said he does not want war and is coordinating with Gulf and European states.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the strike was a “real test of the global will” to confront subversion of the international order.

U.N. officials monitoring sanctions on Iran and Yemen were also heading to Saudi Arabia to investigate.

France, which is trying to salvage an international nuclear deal with Iran that Washington quit last year, said it wanted to establish the facts before reacting.

A U.S. official told Reuters the strikes originated in southwestern Iran. Three officials said they involved cruise missiles and drones, indicating a higher degree of complexity and sophistication than initially thought.

The officials did not provide evidence or explain what U.S. intelligence they were used for evaluating the attack, which cut 5 percent of global production.

Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday the 5.7 million barrels per day of output lost would be fully restored by the end of the month.

Oil prices fell after the Saudi reassurances, having surged more than 20 percent at one point Monday - the biggest intra-day jump since the 1990-91 Gulf War. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has offered to sell Riyadh defense systems, called for a “thorough and impartial” probe during a phone call with Prince Mohammed.

Already frayed U.S.-Iran ties deteriorated further when Trump quit the nuclear pact and reimposed sanctions, severely hurting the Iranian economy. Iran has ruled out talks with Washington unless it returns to the pact.

Trump said he is not looking to meet Rouhani during a U.N. event in New York this month. Rouhani and his foreign minister may not attend the General Assembly at all unless U.S. visas are issued in the coming hours, state media reported Wednesday.

]]> <![CDATA[Sterilized Mosquitoes Released in Burkina Faso to Fight Malaria]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 13:32:12 -04:00 A new solution against malaria was applied as thousands of genetically sterilized mosquitoes were set free in Burkina Faso, a country where 100 percent of the population is at risk of getting that often deadly disease.


1st in Africa, Burkina Faso OKs Release of Modified Mosquitoes

For years scientists have been working on the technique known as Gene Drive which alters a gene on the species which are then spread through for reproduction. The goal, in this case, is to downsize the population of malaria-carrying species, not to totally eradicate them, according to researchers.

However, many oppose these experiments. In Burkina Faso some are not enthusiastic about being used as guinea pigs, Reuters continues, as some fear the mosquito will endanger other steps on the natural chain as well. Internationally others share such doubts because they see the possibility that Gene Drive could be used to alter human genetics or be weaponized. 

The Conversation reports Malaria is responsible for millions of people getting sick every year. Although the numbers of deadly victims have lowered, still nearly half a million die every year, 90 percent of them in the African continent. In Burkina Faso, half the population had the disease in 2018 and 28 thousand died because of it. 

This project is the result of years of efforts by scientists, activists and NGOs. Gene Drive was tested in Imperial College London, where it was successful, Reuters explains.

Only time will say if the experiment works in Burkina Faso and can be used to prevent malaria worldwide, although Gene Drive remains a worrying technique for many. 


]]> <![CDATA[Italy: Mayors of Bologna and Lampedusa Propose Migration Pact]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 14:16:46 -04:00 Virgilio Merola, the Bologna mayor, and Salvatore Martello, the Lampedusa mayor, presented on Wednesday the "Global Compact at the Local Level", a proposal made for the Italian cities which seek to promote "from the bottom up" the principles that the United Nations poses to achieve an "orderly, safe and regular" migration.


Three Men Accused of Torturing Migrants Are Arrested in Italy

On December 19, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” (GCM), which is a non-binding agreement whose contents describe some basic principles to handle contemporary migratory flows without undermining the power of national states to decide on them.

"The most effective way to combat illegal mimgration and traffickers is not to sink ships or close ports... it is to open the discussion about irregular channels," the Lampedusa mayor said and explained that former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's "Closed Ports" policy has always collided with reality.

"2017, 2018 or 2019, the issue has never changed. There have always been 'invisible' landings of small boats which arrive on the island... we have to stop seeing the migration problem as it were a soccer game... It is time to throw the fanatics out."

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) latest report, only 300,000 Africans arrived in OECD countries in 2018, a figure which forces to correct those false images proclaiming an "Invaded Europe."

The mayors of Bologna and Lampedusa have proposed that Italian cities undertake certain steps to open "humanitarian corridors" which will allow refugees to be distributed among different European cities and countries.

Merola and Martello also proposed that Italian mayors plan the reception of economic migrants following the U.N. Global Compact guidelines.

Migration "is a real issue. To solve it, however, tweets and slogans are not needed. Information is needed to get to know it and then give life to clear answers through laws emanating from parliament on behalf of municipalities," the mayors said on the occasion of the presentation of their proposal at the Italian Senate in Rome.

Through the local application of the U.N. global compact, the mayors of Bologna and Lampedusa hope to improve the availability and flexibility of migration procedures, facilitate fair and ethical recruitment of economic migrants, allow migrants to access decent jobs and eliminate all forms of discrimination.

]]> <![CDATA[Indonesia Arrests 200 as Forest Fire Creates Hazardous Smog]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 13:33:02 -04:00 Indonesia arrested around 200 people over their suspected involvement in forest fires which the authorities say have scorched 328,000 hectares (810,000 acres) of land since January but it is not clear how much of that has been to make way for palm plantations.


Brazil: Tenharim People, Guardians of Amazon, Battle Wildfires

The country’s National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Monday that 185 people had been arrested and four corporations are under investigation because “99 percent of the forest and land fires occurred due to human factors.”

Indonesia’s National Board for Disaster Management said hundreds of residents have been evacuated and more than 9,000 personnel have been deployed to battle the fires. 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Tuesday 52 planes and 5,500 additional personnel were deployed to fight the forest fires. 

Indonesian military poured bags of chemicals from an aircraft Wednesday to seed the clouds amid hopes of producing rain to douse raging forest fires which have been causing thick smog across the region.

"Knowing there is a potential of the cloud to rain, based on weather radar tracking that we have, now, there are some possible clouds that we can seed and produce rain with the blessings from the God. It (the cloud) is located in Bengkalis Siak. With the potential wind direction from the southeast, we hope that it can produce rain in Teluk Meranti area where the hotspots (of fire) at the moment are,” said Head of Airport Operations, Jajang Setiawan. 

Military officials said they had tracked wind direction around the fire hotspots and flew over the affected areas to pour chemicals into the clouds from the sky.

The smoke, or haze, has forced schools and airports to shut and tens of thousands of people are now suffering from respiratory problems. More than 600 schools have closed in Malaysia due to air pollution. 

]]> <![CDATA[126 Central American Mothers Sue US Gov't for Asylum Ban]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 13:00:42 -04:00 The U.S. government was sued Monday by 126 migrant mothers and their children who claim that President Donald Trump administration has violated their rights by implementing an asylum ban at the southern border.


​​​​​​Trump Imposes Rule to Detain Migrant Families Indefinitely

"The AsylumBan was evil enough. But our government is going further: cruelly playing with the lives of women and children asylum seekers by implementing the ban unlawfully to make sure NO ONE gets a chance to even seek asylum," Hassan Ahmad, the lawsuit main attorney, tweeted.

Filed at the U.S. Court for the District of Columbia, this lawsuit is the first to challenge Trump's policies since the Supreme Court decided on Sep. 11 that an anti-asylum rule will be allowed to take effect while a separate lawsuit on its legality is underway.

Unlike other suits, the latest filing challenges the U.S. government on procedural grounds, saying authorities have enacted changes without due warning, which resulted in elevated rejection rates for asylum-seekers.

Stated more specifically, the 126-families lawsuit holds that, with President Trump rolling out a series of immigration regulations in rapid succession, asylum-seekers are not being told which of the shifting standards will apply to their cases.

"What we are challenging is the haphazard lack of legal procedure. There's no rhyme or reason to it," attorney Ahmad said on behalf of Central American women and children who were rejected in the asylum process' early stages while staying at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.

Trump's Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program has forced thousands of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. court dates, swamping the dockets and leading to delays and confusion as judges struggle to handle the influx of new cases.

According to the ​​​​​​​Customs and Border Protection (CBP), at least 42,000 migrants had been sent to wait in Mexico through early September to wait for their applications to be processed.

The surge in migrants at the Southern border have put a strain on facilities in the United States, a country which only has courts to properly process these procedures in San Diego and El Paso.

In order to clear a backlog of asylum seekers, however, the U.S. has just set up ​​​​​​​"Tent Courts" in Laredo and Brownsville, Texas​​​​​​.

]]> <![CDATA[Ex-Puerto Rican President's Electoral Commission Pleads Guilty]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 11:11:09 -04:00 Rafael Ramos, former President of Puerto Rico´s State Electoral Commission, was sentenced Monday to a six year suspended prison term for several crimes committed while presiding over the Moca Commission, Prensa Latina reported.

The former Judge was part of two chats created by the political group Plan for Puerto Rico, where he shared sensitive information and engaged in conversations and plans with several members of the PNP, former governor Ricky Rosello´s political party.


Vazquez Sworn In, As Puerto Rico Gets Third Governor in 6 Days

Rosello appointed Ramos as President of the Electoral Commission shortly after the chats. An analysis of both chats conducted by the Justice Ministry showed Ramos had intervened hundreds of times and broken the ethical boundaries of his job. 

Rafael Ramos will comply the conditions of his conviction in San Antonio, Texas, where a parole officer will see to it. He has to be home everyday between 8 A.M.-5 P.M., Prensa Latina stresses. 

The prosecutor in charge of the case, Ivandeluis Miranda, said the conviction is much softer than originally intended. The lawyer will have to produce more information about the case and provide an explanation as to why Ramos was the only member of the chats on trial.  

]]> <![CDATA[Israeli Elections: Netanyahu Tied With Main Rival Gantz]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 10:36:13 -04:00 Israel’s election was too close to call Wednesday, with a partial vote tally showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tied with his main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz.


Israel's Netanyahu May Lose Majority in Congress: Exit Polls

An official result was still hours, perhaps days off. But with more than 63 percent of votes counted, the Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc was, as expected, more or less even with Gantz’s center-left.

With no single-party majority in the 120-seat Knesset, there will likely be weeks of coalition talks before a new government is formed.

The ballot’s wildcard, former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, emerged as a likely kingmaker as head of the secular-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.

Lieberman has been pushing for a unity government comprised of the biggest parties. He declined to back Netanyahu’s bid to form a narrow right-wing and religious coalition after the April election, bringing about Tuesday’s unprecedented repeat vote.

Campaigns run by Likud and Blue and White pointed to only narrow differences on many important issues: the regional struggle against Iran, the Palestinian conflict, relations with the United States and the economy.

An end to the Netanyahu era would be unlikely to bring about a significant change in policy on hotly disputed issues in the peace process with the Palestinians that collapsed five years ago.

Based on the partial vote count, Israel’s main TV stations, Channel 12 and 13, projected Likud and Blue and White would each have 32 seats. With support from smaller, like-minded parties, each was projected to command a block of about 55 or 56, short of a majority. That left Lieberman, whose party was forecast to win 9 seats. On Wednesday, he reiterated his call for a unity government but said he had not yet spoken to Gantz or Netanyahu.

“There is only one option - a national unity government, a broad, liberal government, and we will not join any other,” Lieberman told reporters.

Netanyahu, who highlighted his close relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump during the campaign, said in his 3 a.m. speech at Likud election headquarters in Tel Aviv that he intended to establish a “strong Zionist government” that would reflect the views of “many of the nation’s people”.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Picks Robert O'Brien for National Security Advisor Post]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 10:00:17 -04:00 U.S. President Donald Trump Wednesday named U.S. hostage negotiator Robert O'Brien as his choice to replace John Bolton as his White House national security adviser.

Charles Kupperman: A Bolton-Style Hawk Is Trump’s Acting National Security Advisor

O'Brien, currently a presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the U.S. Department of State, has a long history in Republican foreign policy circles.

"I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

He had served under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

Mr O'Brien served as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve. Former President Bush appointed him in 2005 to serve as a representative to the U.N. general assembly.

He is an attorney from Los Angeles who has served as a foreign policy adviser to several Republican presidential campaigns, handled a number of high profile legal cases and previously served in several State Department positions, including as an alternative representative to the U.N. General Assembly in 2005.

Trump had been weighing a number of potential replacements after Bolton left the post last week following disagreements with the president over his handling of North Korea and Venezuela.

His previous national security advisers were H.R. McMaster, who was replaced by Bolton in March 2018, and Michael Flynn, who was fired shortly after taking the role and later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

]]> <![CDATA[Iran Warns of Immediate Response to Any US Strikes ]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 10:05:21 -04:00 Iran warned on Wednesday that any strikes from the U.S. and its allies will be met with a crushing response from the Islamic Republic.


Iran Not Interested In Talks With US After Trump's Accusations

Stressing that they have no interest in war, the Iranian government said they will defend themselves if they are met with any aggression from the United States and its allies. 

In a letter sent on Monday to the United States via the Swiss embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, Tehran said it “denies and condemns claims” by U.S. officials that “Tehran was behind the attacks”.

“It was also emphasized in the letter that in case of any aggression against Iran, that action will face an immediate response from Iran and the response won’t be limited to its source,” the state news agency IRNA reported.

The Etemad daily newspaper describing U.S. accusations of Iranian responsibility for the Saudi attacks as part of Washington’s stated “maximum pressure” policy to isolate Iran.

“(We are) fully prepared to surprise aggressors through a crushing and comprehensive answer to possible evil actions,” s Etemad quoted Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying.

A U.S. official told Reuters the projectiles that hit the Saudi oil facilities on Saturday came from southwestern Iran. Three officials said they involved cruise missiles and drones, indicating a higher degree of complexity and sophistication than initially thought.

The Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen, to Saudi Arabia’s south, claimed responsibility for the attack. But Saudi Arabia said it would produce evidence on Wednesday linking Iran, to the northeast across the Gulf, to the assault.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the attack had been mounted by Houthis in retaliation for Yemen’s war which he blamed on the United States and a Saudi-led military coalition.

]]> <![CDATA[Macri's Running Mate Denies Existence of Poverty in Argentina]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 11:16:37 -04:00 Mauricio Macri’s Vice Presidential Candidate, Miguel Angel Pichetto, referred to hunger and poverty in Argentina as "an exaggeration” and strongly criticized the Archbishop of Salta for having talked about poverty.


Argentina Police Suppress Protesters Demanding Food Emergency

At a television interview on Monday, the right-wing vice-presidential candidate said there was no hunger in Argentina and that the food emergency law "is a phenomenal symbolic defeat," hinting thus that recent protests constitute attempts to damage the image of the Argentinian government.

In order to minimize Macri's responsibility for the current situation, Pichetto argued that poverty in Argentina has a "structural character" because there has not been job creation over the last 18 years.

The right-wing politician then took the opportunity to complain about the growth of social security funds: "75 percent of the national budget is for social spending," he claimed.

On Sep. 15, in a meeting with the Argentinian president held in the city of Salta, Monsignor Mario Cargnello delivered a strong rebuke to Macri for increasing poverty levels.

"Mauricio, you've talked about poverty. So take with you the faces of the poor, who are worthy and respectful Argentinians. They deserve to get on our knees in front of them," the Archbishop told Macri as he extended his hand.

Regarding this face-to-face delivered moan, vice presidential candidate Pichetto said: "speaking of hunger, of the concept of famine, is an exaggeration. If you see hunger, you should report where it is. There is no hunger in Argentina. The Archbishop, who lacks of the Vatican diplomacy, is not an intelligent man. His gesture with the president was incorrect, to put it mildly."

A couple of days after Senator Pichetto tried to save the Argentinian government's face, official data showed that the inflation trend is far from reversing. 

So far, annual inflation for producers has reached 62.9 percent, which means that price increases will affect consumers in a greater magnitude by the end of September.​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuadorean Congress Approves UNASUR Withdrawal]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 23:49:47 -04:00 The National Assembly of Ecuador approved Tuesday a report denouncing the Union of South American Nations’ treaty, formalizing the process to definitively leave the regional body.

Ecuador's Ex-President Rafael Correa on UNASUR 'Disintegration'

With 79 votes in favor, 36 against, 4 abstentions and no null votes, the national legislators approved the report that had been prepared by the Sovereignty, Integration and International Relations Commission and awaited the ratification of the plenary session of congress.

“With Ecuador's departure from Unasur, the country loses its chance to turn into a global player,” Citizen’s Revolution lawmaker and former president of the National Assembly Gabriela Rivadeneira said, reminding that this also affects the body’s goal, which was regional peace.

On March 11, the government of right-wing Lenin Moreno became the second to formalize its abandonment of the treaty, joining Colombian President Ivan Duque, who on Aug. 27, 2018, made a similar decision. Other conservative and far-right governments such as Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, and Peru denounced the treaty soon after. 

However, Ecuador’s withdrawal which was filed in May wasn’t immediate. According to article 24 of the Constitutional Treaty of Unasur, the pullout had to take effect after six months from the date the notification was received by the body. While the Ecuadorean Constitution of 2008 states that leaving international treaties are required to pass through the country's National Assembly.

With the official withdrawal, its headquarters, which are located in Quito, on property donated by the Rafael Correa administration will return to state hands, leaving the body without any building. In July 2018, Lenin Moreno announced his plans for the building, where he hopes to create an intercultural university.

UNASUR has promoted regional integration since its creation in Brasilia on May 23, 2008, under the leadership of the Bolivarian revolutionary, Hugo Chavez.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela Urges the World to Support Peace Dialogue ]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 00:02:07 -04:00 The National Dialogue Roundtable in Venezuela, constituted by members of the constitutional government and representatives of the opposition, urged Tuesday for the international community to support the peace and understanding initiatives.


Venezuelan Court Frees Opposition Lawmaker

The participants reiterated in a statement that all political factions are working hard to reach a diplomatic solution to all internal problems. They also invited the European Union and the other international institutions to contribute to the collective effort.

"The spirit of this national table is inclusive, open, and transparent. It invokes the openness and calls on all national political actors to participate and at the same time, shows timely and necessary results to generate the confidence and progress that the country requires," it read.

The members of the political parties affirmed that the main goal is to make proposals to specific issues faced by the country hit by an economic crisis, mainly generated ​​​​​by the illegal economic blockade, unilaterally imposed by the United States since 2016.

"The national roundtable is open to the incorporation of the different national actors. It also invites the International Community to accompany and comprehend this mechanism, with an open vision and with greater transparency by those who have shown a genuine concern for the well-being of our country," the statement concluded.

Since its starting, partial agreements have been reached such as the incorporation of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and allied factions back to the National Assembly; along with revision and adjustments to electoral guarantees, and appeals to the justice system to agree on measures of benefits for some detained citizens.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador Approves Use Of Medicinal Cannabis]]> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 08:28:04 -04:00 During the Tuesday plenary of the Ecuadorian National Assembly, they approved the production, commercialization, use and consumption of cannabis for medicinal or therapeutical treatment.


Women in Ecuador Demand Legal Abortion in Case of Rape

As conciliated before, legislators approved other issues less controversial. There were 83 votes in favor of the motion, while another 23 more were cons, a blank vote and 23 abstentions. Also, there was a request to redo the process due to some technical problems, but it was denied.

On the other hand, the matter of rape abortion was rejected. It only reached 65 votes out the 70 necessary for the decriminalization of rape, incestuous rape and malformation of the fetus.

In a previous interview with a local tv program, Ximena Peña, president of the Justice Comission, stated that “the reform is wide and brings a lot of positive items like citizen security, fight against corruption, crimes against sexual integrity of boys, girls and teenagers”.

The current legislation (article 150) only allows finishing a pregnancy in case of health risks for the mother or raping someone that suffers from a mental disability. They need only 70 votes out of 137 legislators available to approve the proposal.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump to Revoke California's Authority to Set Vehicle Standards]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 22:12:32 -04:00 United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)is set to revoke California’s authority to regulate gas emissions from automobiles, according to sources familiar with the matter Tuesday. 


California Outlaws For-Profit Prisons Including ICE Facilities

The sources said the announcement could be made as soon as this Wednesday, and mark another increase in the rising tensions between the state of California and U.S. President Donald Trump's administration. 

Trump administration's plan to freeze federal emission standards, a rollback of tightened standards created by the former Obama administration, could have led to two auto markets in the U.S., one subject to more restrictive California regulations and another linked to significantly less stringent federal standards.

One of the sources added that plans for the announcement are still being discussed and could change, and is likely to activate a long legal battle between the involved authorities.

“California will continue its advance toward a cleaner future. We’re prepared to defend the standards that make that promise a reality,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Whereas Andrew Wheeler, the EPA’s administrator told the National Automobile Dealers Association that they “will be moving forward with one national standard very soon." However, the agency did not respond to request for comment. 

Dan Becker, director of the Center for Auto Safety’s Safe Climate Campaign, said the move is an attack on states’ authority to set their own air pollution standards that he called a centerpiece of the Clean Air Act.

“It is hypocritical for the administration to encourage states to block some of their people from going to the polls, but then forbid states from protecting their people from auto pollution,” Becker added.

]]> <![CDATA[Thousands Being Killed by Rio Police]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 23:58:57 -04:00 Baby Enzo became one of the youngest civilian victims of Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel’s war on drugs, after he was gunned down in the arms of his mother, Margareth Teixeira, as she carried him to church in August. The bullet wound nearly cost him his left foot but he was lucky to survive, unlike his 17-year-old mother.


Bolsonaro Wants to Pardon Police Officers Involved in Massacres

Another three teenage victims, none of them carrying firearms, were found dead after police raids on the over 1,000 favelas in the sprawling coastal city between August 9 and 13. The number of deaths at the hands of state security forces and police in Rio's economically poor favelas is increaing under the conservative Witzel, that has gotten the tacit approval of right-wing Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, in office since last January.

Gabriel Alves, 18, was on his way to the school with a bag full of books. Dyogo Costa, 16, was going to his usual football training session with a pair of boots. Henrico de Menezes Jr, 19, was just picking up his motorbike from a repair shop when they were all caught in the cross fires of the police raids that now include state helicopters opening fire on the communities.

According to the Institute of Public Security, during the first seven months of this year, police were responsible for 30 percent of all violent deaths in the state of Rio, bringing the number of dead to over a thousand people, the highest number in more than two decades in the densely populated city.

Wilson Witzel, who took power in January and promised to wipe out the drug gangs that control almost all Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, refused to accept any responsibility of these or any other casualty as a result of his drug war.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuelan Court Frees Opposition Lawmaker]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 21:25:59 -04:00 The Second Special Court of First Instance with jurisdiction in cases related to crimes associated with terrorism with jurisdiction in the national territory and jurisdiction to hear and decide crimes associated with corruption and organized crime ordered the immediate release of lawmaker Edgar José Zambrano Ramírez , who is under prosecution for the alleged flagrant commission of crimes that threaten the Venezuelan State.

 China Rejects TIAR Activation Against Venezuela

According to the opinion of the aforementioned Court, the measure of preventive judicial deprivation of liberty that was decreed to Zambrano Ramírez on May 9, 2019, will be replaced by a precautionary measure replacing those established in article 242, in its ordinals 3 and 4 , of the Organic Code of Criminal Procedure, consisting of periodic presentations before the Court every 30 days and prohibition of leaving the country.

The attorney general of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,  Tarek William Saab, announced earlier that thanks to the agreements signed by the Bolivarian Government and the Venezuelan opposition, it was agreed to grant the lawmaker this precautionary measure.

He explained that in response to the request made by the Commission for Truth, Justice, Peace and Public Tranquility, created by the National Constituent Assembly, the revision of this replacement precautionary measure was carried out.


]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador's Legislator Votes Down Abortion Bill]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 23:43:47 -04:00 Ecuador’s National Assembly on Tuesday rejected the move to decriminalize abortions in the cases of rape. 


Women in Ecuador Demand Legal Abortion in Case of Rape

"With 65 yes votes, … the Assembly does not approve (the) reforms related to non-punishable abortion," Ecuador’s legislature announced on its Twitter account. 

Pro-abortion protesters shouted at well-armed national anti-riot police that the decision was wrong. The vote keeps in force that abortion is only legal in Ecuador when the life or health of the pregnant woman is at risk, or when the pregnancy is the result of a woman with a mental disability.

Had it been approved, the votes on Tuesday would have modified 45 articles of the nation’s penal code and created six provisions to allow abortion in the cases of rape, incest, or poorly formed fetus. 

The law will continue to penalize women who terminate their pregnancies with up to three years in prison. 

More than 20,000 girls under fourteen gave birth in Ecuador between 2008 and 2018, according to official data. 

Ecuador’s current abortion law has been in force since 1938, and the last debate to legalize abortion in cases of rape, in 2013, was also voted against.

"A raped woman must decide what to do with her pregnancy, she should have the opportunity to give birth to that child if she wishes, or to terminate her pregnancy, that is not possible today," Silvia Buendía, a lawyer and rights activist , told Reuters. 

"What we want is to give a raped woman the opportunity to decide, it is not that a raped woman should terminate her pregnancy, no woman should abort. What women need is to be able to decide," she added.

According to women’s rights organizations all were treated by national health system and were required to carry out their pregnancies to term. Of all the cases, 80 percent were the result of sexual abuse committed within the home, school or in their religious community.



]]> <![CDATA[Rohingya in Myanmar Still Face 'Threat of Genocide': UN Report]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 21:37:42 -04:00 Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who remain inside Myanmar face systematic persecution and are living under the threat of genocide, a United Nations fact-finding mission said Monday, repeating calls for top generals to face trial.

Rohingya Villages Demolished to Build Gov’t Camps: Report

Myanmar security forces are accused of killings, gang rape and arson during a crackdown that drove more than 730,000 people to flee the western Rakhine state for neighbouring Bangladesh after attacks on police posts by Rohingya insurgents in August 2017.

"The threat of genocide is continuing for the remaining Rohingya," Australian human rights lawyer and panel member Christopher Sidoti said in a statement accompanying a new report issued in Geneva, adding that Myanmar was failing to prevent and punish genocide.

"These facts underscore the impossibility of return for the nearly one million Rohingya refugees, mostly in Bangladesh," he said.

Myanmar's Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun told the U.N. Human Rights Council that some Hindus and Muslims had gone back to Myanmar where authorities were creating a "conducive environment."

"We cannot overlook the horrific atrocities committed by ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) against innocent people and its coordinated terror attacks on police outposts," he said.

Tun, referring to the former U.N. Secretary-General who led an advisory commission on Rakhine, tried to play down the situation by saying that "the late Kofi Annan cautioned on the use of the word genocide in referring to the situation in Rakhine state. It is a charge which requires legal review and judicial determination and should not be thrown around loosely."

Myanmar rejected the fact-finding mission when it was formed at the rights forum in March 2017, with a mandate to investigate military abuses against the Rohingya and in other conflicts with ethnic armed groups in Myanmar.

The new report accuses the security forces of "torture and ill-treatment" of suspected insurgents in northern Myanmar, and says sexual and gender-based violence by the Myanmar military "remains a prominent feature of conflicts in Shan and Kachin states."

Two military spokesmen did not answer phone calls seeking comment.

100,000 Rohingyas Rally in Bangladesh to Mark Genocide Day

"In Rakhine State, the Tatmadaw (army) has been using helicopter gunships against the Arakan Army and both sides are accused of indiscriminate use of heavy artillery fire, gunfire and landmines in civilian areas,"  U.N. Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee said in her own update on Monday.

"Myanmar has done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution and the Rohingya who remain in Rakhine live in the same dire circumstances that they did prior to the events of August 2017," she told the council during a three-hour debate.

The U.N panel said the evidence it gathered from nearly 1,300 interviews with witnesses had been passed to a new investigative mechanism for Myanmar to support any future prosecution in international courts.

Tun said Myanmar's own independent commission of inquiry was a "work in progress" and action would be taken against perpetrators upon credible evidence. He said his government strongly rejected any attempt to take the matter to any international judicial or legal body unless national processes were clearly exhausted.

]]> <![CDATA[Haiti's Capital Still Paralyzed On Second Day Of Protests ]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 21:35:44 -04:00 A second day of protests took place on Tuesday in Port-au-Prince and several provincial capitals of Haiti against fuel shortages, leaving at least one person dead, according to local reports.


Haitian Deputies Vandalize Lower House Ahead of PM Ratification

The protests have continued, despite the fact that the government announced the arrival of 500,000 barrels of fuel to the country, a cargo that so far has not reached the gas stations, where there are rows of hundreds of cars, motorcycles and people carrying cans.

Several roads and avenues in the city center of Port-au-Prince were closed by barricades and burning tires by frustrated citizens who have been suffering from not only the current gas shortage, but months of demanding their president Jovenel Moise step down over a major oil corruption scandal, a move he refuses to make.

Hundreds of the demonstrators chanted slogans against the president, and it was Vladimir Phebe, a young protester, who was shot dead in a Carrefour protest, according to the city's mayor, Jude Edouard Pierre. 

General Coordinator of the Unified Movement of Transporters of Haiti (MUTH), Duclos Benissoit, told Efe that the new shipment of gas will not solve the problem fuel shortages in the long run, or to pay the price the government is asking. 

"In the past, it was the people who blocked the country, now it is the government that does. The population is willing to buy fuel at a normal price, but not at the price that the government wants," said Benissoit. The unionist said the political and social situation will continue because Haiti has no protections against fuel price fluctuations in the international market. He denounces the authorities' and traders' tendency to increase the price of diesel for their own benefit.

"Fuel is a strategic product. Fuel is available. Suppliers keep it to sell on the black market." added Benissoit.

Nearly all summer protests took place in the Caribbean nation as civil society groups denounced the impunity of officials, the growing climate of insecurity, the inflation that exceeds 18 percent, and “the misery faced by the Haitian population,” in general said protest organizers during that time.

]]> <![CDATA[Tunisia: Saied, Karoui To Runoff Elections]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 21:11:00 -04:00 Tunisia's Electoral Commission (ISIE) confirmed Tuesday that law professor Kais Saied and jailed media mogul Nabil Karoui won the most votes in Sunday's presidential election, heading thus to the runoff.


Absence Of Political Agreement Pushes Spain Back to Elections

The date of the second and final round has not been announced, but it must happen by Oct. 23.

"Tunisians have written a new and brilliant page in the history of the country," Saied told reporters at his headquarters in the heart of the capital after the announcement.

"I am an independent, but I am ready to work with all parties to build a new Tunisia."

Karoui's Qalb Tounes party did not release any immediate statement, with their candidate still in jail over allegations of tax evasion and money laundering.

The announcement, following a full count of votes, confirmed exit polls released on Sunday evening and partial results issued throughout Monday. 

Saied took 18.4 percent of the votes and Karoui 15.6 percent. Tunisia’s prime minister, two former prime ministers, the defense minister, and a former president were among the political heavyweights competing, along with moderate Islamist party Ennahda’s Mourou.

“We received the message sent by the Tunisian people,” Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said late Sunday, conceding defeat.

The results came as a sharp rejection of the political elites and established forces that have ruled the country since the 2011 revolution but failed to address economic problems including high unemployment which stands at 15 percent and inflation.

Saied, who always speaks as if in a faculty meeting in didactic, ultra-correct formal Arabic, drives a shabby old car and wants to remain in his humble house if elected rather than move into the luxurious presidential palace at Carthage.

A social conservative who backs restoring the death penalty and rejects equal inheritance for men and women, Saied’s main focus is decentralization in a country where politicians in the capital have traditionally dominated.

"We are at war with #Israel and those who normalize their relations with the enemy are traitors who must be judged," Saied said.

Several losing conservative candidates, including former President Moncef Marzouki, came out in support of Saied. Ennahda congratulated the two candidates without formally backing either. No losing candidates have yet endorsed Karoui.

Karoui has for years used his television station Nessma and the charity he founded after his son died, to present himself as a champion of the poor and a scourge of government, while his critics describe him as an ambitious, unscrupulous, and a populist.

He was detained weeks before the election over tax evasion and a money laundering case brought three years ago by an independent transparency watchdog.

Karoui denies all claims of wrongdoing against him, including old tax evasion and money laundering charges for which he was detained late last month and spent election day in jail, calling them an "undemocratic plot."

His wealth and massive electoral organization stand in sharp contrast to Saied, who spent so little on his campaign that Tunisians joke it cost no more than a coffee and packet of cigarettes.

A Karoui victory in the second round could raise difficult legal and constitutional questions given his legal status, in a case for which no verdict has yet been delivered.

The commission said that if Karoui wins the runoff, it will send his name to the parliament and the matter will then be for it and the judiciary to resolve. A constitutional court, mandated by the 2014 constitution, has not yet been set up.

Tunisia opted for a parliamentary system after 2011, in which the president has limited powers, controlling foreign and defense policy, while the prime minister appointed by the parliament manages other portfolios.

Tunisia's main political parties are now turning to a parliamentary election on Oct. 6.

]]> <![CDATA[‘Our Doors Are Open for Peace Talks’: Taliban to Trump]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 18:28:41 -04:00 Afghanistan’s Taliban told the BBC that their "doors are open" should United States President Donald Trump want to resume peace talks in the future, despite him having unilaterraly scrapped a draft peace deal between the two factions.

Taliban Delegation Travels to Russia as Peace Prospects With US Collapse

"From our side, our doors are open for negotiations," Chief Taliban negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said, reiterating that peace is the “only way” for Afghanistan.

On Sept. 7 Trump decided to cancel talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders after the group claimed the attack in Kabul that killed a U.S. soldier and 11 civilians. The insurgents denounced that an agreement had been “finalized” and that discussions had ended in “a good atmosphere,” but the deal had been sabotaged by Trump.

"They killed thousands of Taliban..but in the meantime if one [U.S.] soldier has been killed that doesn't mean they should show that reaction because there is no ceasefire from both sides," Stanikazai added.

As the year-long peace process crumbled, in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that U.S. negotiations are on hold and that the U.S. would not reduce military support for Afghan troops or presence currently estimated at 14,000 U.S. troops and about 8,000 NATO forces.

The Afghan government echoed this on Saturday informing that consultations for peace in Afghanistan will be paused until after the Sept. 28 elections, in which current President Ashraf Ghani seeks re-election to a second five-year term while facing strong rejection from the Taliban, who have warned civilians to not campaign or head to the polls, dismissing them as a sham.

Meanwhile, the insurgents sent a delegation to Russia on Saturday to seek international support to push for the withdrawal of U.S. troops following the collapse of talks with the U.S. this month.

Without an end in sight, the war in Afghanistan will continue to be Washington’s longest conflict in its history. It was started after the September 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 approximately 220,000 people have died.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia: Conservatives Seek to Disqualify Mesa From Polls]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 20:00:07 -04:00 Bolivia's National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) presidential candidate, Virgilio Lema, expects the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to disqualify Carlos Mesa of the Comunidad Ciudadana (CC) party from running in the upcoming October presidential election.

Lema, along with Chi Hyun Chung, candidate for the Christian Democratic Party, are petitioning to the TSE that Mesa and his party be disqualified from the Oct. 20 polls after publishing a poll from the Main University of San Andrés (UMSA) and other institutions not authorized to publish political polls by the TSE. 


Bolivia: Independent Poll Gives Evo Morales a Massive Lead

Bolivian Minister of Communications, Manuel Canelas, however, admitted this morning that it is highly unlikely Mesa be kicked out of the race because of the lack of regulations regarding the use of a candidate’s social media profile during the campaign. The minister added that Mesa and the CC will certainly not be seen as trustworthy after what he described as a "clumsy" move, but one that wasn't worthy of a disqualification.

The “Ormacheda” case began last week when José Manuel Ormachea, congressional candidate for Comunidad Ciudadana, published and commendted on the UMSA survey on his Facebook profile. A precendent similar to this case was set in 2015 when governor of Beni, Carmelo Lens, was forced to resign after he disclosed the results of a survey commissioned by the Democratic Unit, also not approved by the TSE.

]]> <![CDATA[New York Students Miss School to Protest Climate Change ]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 20:53:34 -04:00 Over a million students from public schools in New York can participate in Friday´s demonstrations against climate change without worries after the Education Department of the city granted them permission to miss classes.


Report Presents 10 Changes to Fight Climate Crisis

Parents and teachers were initially concerned about the consequences of participating in those activities. However, not everybody is happy with the idea.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio´s opponents accused him of using this as way to promote his political plans. Despite that NY Major, who aspires to be nominated by Democrats for the 2020 presidential elections, has made climate change one of the main focus of the campaign.

This isn´t the first time the city allows students to participate in protests with political significance. In 2018 the students participated in protests in favor of stricter gun control in the nation, after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is the leader ahead of the protest and has inspired other student protests in at least 100 other countries. During her visit to New York she was welcomed by hundreds of people that also supported her initiative.



]]> <![CDATA[China Rejects TIAR Activation Against Venezuela]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 17:35:34 -04:00 The Chinese government reiterated Monday its rejection of any external intervention against Venezuela, the latest being the Organization of American States’ attempt to activate the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR).

Venezuelan Military Vows to Defend Country Against TIAR

“On the issue of Venezuela, China adheres to the United Nations Charter and the basic norms that govern international relations and believes that the problem must be resolved through inclusive political dialogue and negotiation within the framework of the Venezuelan Constitution,” Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

China joined Nicaragua, Cuba, Mexico and Uruguay’s strong dismissal to a possible engagement in military actions against the Latin American nation, reaffirming that Beijing opposes any form of interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, including military intervention. 

On Sept. 11, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza denounced the initiative, pushed by a group of United States-backed regional governments. 

"It is painful that countries which were invaded by United States troops and whose peoples were massacred by the application of the TIAR, endorse today a similar crime against a brother country, in a clearly invalid session of the OAS," Arreaza’s statement read.

At the OAS assembly, 12 countries voted in favor of the implementation of an initiative against Venezuela, saying the country represents "a threat to the security of the region," after Colombia accused Venezuela of allegedly protecting armed groups within its territory. 

Venezuela has rejected the accusation and pointed out the lack of evidence, affirming these allegations are just an excuse for military intervention.

The TIAR is an agreement signed in September 1947 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It functions as a mutual mechanism of defense between member countries of the OAS. The treaty was imposed on the region by the United States within the context of the Cold War, with the aim of legitimizing military interventions in Latin America for ideological reasons.

The South American country withdrew from the treaty in 2013 together with other nations pertaining to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), including Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.

However, the opposition-held Venezuela National Assembly, in contempt and suspended since 2016, illegally and unconstitutionally approved the reincorporation to the treaty on July 23, 2019. 

A flagrant violation of the Constitution, as Article 236 states that the public figure whose the attributions and obligations are to “celebrate and ratify treaties and international agreements” is the president and not legislators.

]]> <![CDATA[Purdue Begins Bankruptcy in Push To Settle Opioid Lawsuits]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 20:51:26 -04:00 OxyContin maker, Purdue Pharma LP, filed for bankruptcy on Sunday after reaching a draft deal with states and local governments that accuse the company of deceptively marketing opioids by overstating their benefits and downplaying the drugs' risks, which prompted the United States government to declare a nationwide 'opioid epidemic' in 2017.

Purdue Corrupted WHO to Boost Opioid Sales: Congress' Report

The settlement, which Purdue claims is worth more than US$10 billion, would require the Sackler family to cede their ownership of Purdue to a trust controlled by the plaintiffs that are suing the drug company. In addition to turning over Purdue, the Sacklers would sell their non-U.S. pharmaceutical businesses and also contribute about US$3 billion of their own money to those who brought forth the case.

Numerous states oppose the plan, including New York. A lawyer for the state says that the proposed deal did not address how settlement funds will be allocated among governments. He also said settling states did not appear as interested in conducting thorough investigations of Purdue.

"We have different views and different experiences in terms of our aggressive pursuit of some issues, including payments to the Sacklers," said David Nachman, who leads the New York's opioid litigation.

On Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she uncovered roughly US$1 billion in wire transfers "between the Sacklers, entities they control and different financial institutions, including those that have funneled funds into Swiss bank accounts."

A spokesman for former Purdue board member Mortimer D.A. Sackler said in a statement that the transfers were legal and appropriate, and accused James of using the transfers to try to undermine the settlement.

Purdue is the second drug company to seek bankruptcy over causing the U.S. opioid crisis. Insys Therapeutics Inc. filed for bankruptcy in June, also citing opioid litigation.

The Chandler, an Arizona-based drugmaker, which recently agreed to sell its flagship fentanyl spray Subsys, unveiled a liquidation plan to repay its creditors on Tuesday, including states and localities that have sued. The plan did not spell out how much state and local governments would recover, but said they would not be paid in full.

]]> <![CDATA[Absence Of Political Agreement Pushes Spain Back to Elections]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 18:37:00 -04:00 After a second day of consulting with King Felipe, Pedro Sánchez announced a new round of elections on November 10th after four months of failed political negotiations and zero agreements. This is the second round of elections in seven months and the fourth time in four years. It´s the first time this has ever happened in Europe.


Spain: Ciudadanos Presents Conditions to Put Sanchez in Power

Pablo Iglesias of Podemos kept his denial to an immediate investiture without some basic agreements, so the monarch had no choice but to confirm that there was no consensus, in the meeting held yesterday at La Zarzuela.  

Popular Party, Ciudadanos and Podemos blamed the Socialist Party and argued that the current leading party wanted elections anyway. Sánchez, on the other hand, returned the favor by pointing out that Podemos “has blocked for the fourth time the investiture of a socialist”.

Moncloa´s administration keeps a positive perspective towards November´s appointment and polls reflect that the Socialist Party can improve their current numbers and position, but only if there´s an arrangement that avoids a possible dead end again between parties, like what happened back in 2016.

There are still two days available for a settlement but “we don´t want to create false expectations” Pedro Sánchez said after returning from La Zarzuela, still bitter over Pablo Iglesias' proposal of a Coalition Executive as a government. “Two governments in one” Sánchez called it.

Spain is back to ground zero.

]]> <![CDATA[Israel's Netanyahu May Lose Majority in Congress: Exit Polls]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 17:07:27 -04:00 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's battle for political survival looked compromised after exit polls following Tuesday's election showed his party could not secure a majority in Congress.

Israel to Rule Over Revocation of BDS Founder's Residency

The surveys by Israeli television stations gave Netanyahu's far-right Likud 31 seats out of parliament's 120 seats - not enough to reach a 61 majority, compared with 32-34 for the centrist Blue and White led by former general Benny Gantz.

They indicated that Netanyahu's ally-turned-rival, ex-defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, could be the kingmaker, with the backing of his far-right Yisrael Beitenu party critical to the formation of any ruling coalition.

Without Lieberman's support, the polls suggested, Likud could put together a right-wing coalition controlling only up to 57 parliamentary seats, while Blue and White could enlist no more than 58 legislators - meaning both parties falling short of the 61 needed for a governing majority.

Lieberman was forecast to capture 8-10 seats, nearly doubling his current tally in parliament, making him the linchpin.

The election was called after Netanyahu, 69, failed in efforts to cobble together a coalition following an April ballot in which Likud and Blue and White wound up in a dead heat, each taking 35 parliamentary seats. It is the first time Israel has had two general elections in a single year.

As in the election five months ago, his opponents, including Gantz, focused on bribery and fraud allegations against Netanyahu in three corruption cases. The prime minister, due to face a pre-trial hearing in October to argue against the charges being filed, has denied any wrongdoing.

An election loss could leave Netanyahu more at risk of prosecution, without the shield of parliamentary immunity which his political allies had promised to seek for him.

Before the last election, Trump gave Netanyahu a lift with U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, taken from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. This time, the White House seems more preoccupied with Iran.


]]> <![CDATA[South Africa Apologizes to Nigeria for Xenophobic Attacks]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 15:09:17 -04:00 South Africa apologized to Nigeria over a series of xenophobic attacks which escalated tension between the two countries. 


South African President Vows to Quell Attacks on Foreigners

A special envoy from South Africa apologized to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari Monday. 

"The incident does not represent what we stand for," envoy Jeff Radebe said, adding that South African police would "leave no stone unturned" in bringing those involved to justice.

"President Buhari responded to profuse apologies from the South African president, pledging that the relationship between the two countries will be solidified," a statement from President’s office said. 

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa last week said, "We are very concerned and of course as a nation we [are] ashamed because this goes against the ethos of what South Africa stands for.”

Nigeria started Wednesday the repatriation of more than 600 of its citizens from South Africa after attacks broke out in the beginning of September. 

The repatriation came after a cycle of violence burst out in Johannesburg on Sept. 1 leading to attacks on some 1,000 foreign-owned businesses and shops, and killing 12 people while injuring many. 

The nationalities of those killed have not been confirmed yet, but Nigerians, Ethiopians, Congolese, and Zimbabweans were assaulted, according to local media.

Many videos of the attacks circulated on social media, triggering international outrage and calls for a boycott of South Africa.

The attacks on foreign nationals and their businesses were not the firsts of their kind in the Southern African country. Before 1994, migrants used to face discrimination and violence, as the nation transitioned from South Africa's National Party government which ruled the country since 1948 and advocated the apartheid system to the African National Congress (ANC), contrary to expectations, the frequency of xenophobia increased.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuelan Military Vows to Defend Country Against TIAR]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 14:57:35 -04:00 Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López gave a press conference Tuesday where he condemned those threatening to apply the so-called Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) against the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people.


Cuba, Uruguay, Nicaragua Reject TIAR Treaty Against Venezuela

"The application of an interventionist, colonialist, and imperialist instrument in the 21st century, trying to create a state of war in Venezuela, based on absurd maneuvers and the use of false flags," said the Minister Padrino López.

Lopez added that the TIAR and its possible activation is reminiscent of the Monroe Doctrine, that sees Latin America as the ‘backyard’ of the U.S. government. 

The TIAR is an agreement signed in September 1947. It functions as a mutual mechanism of ‘defense’ between member countries of the OAS. The treaty was imposed on the region by the United States within the context of the Cold War, allowing for the regional authorization of military intervention in Latin America for ideological reasons.

Last week, the OAS voted to implement the initiative against Venezuela, labeling it "a threat to the security of the region”, following a complaint made by Colombia that the Venezuelan government is colluding with dissident guerillas. However, Venezuela has exposed the complaint as being based on the use of fake evidence. 

In response to the vote at the OAS, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded saying "It is painful that countries which were invaded by U.S. troops and whose peoples were massacred by the application of TIAR, endorse today a similar crime against a brother country,"  

Progressive governments in the region do not recognize the U.S.-imposed TIAR. In 2013, ALBA governments such as  Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua formally withdrew from the treaty.

Lopez closed the press conference vowing to defend the country against any possible implementation of the TIAR.

“The Bolivarian armed force will defend Venezuelan territory against the attempts by very powerful interests to destabilize the government, including such attempts by the United States and the right-wing opposition.”