teleSUR English ES Sun, 20 Jan 2019 10:51:53 -04:00 teleSUR English <![CDATA[6.8 Earthquake Rocks Chile, 2 Dead, 200,000 Without Power]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 22:11:37 -04:00 A 6.8 earthquake shook central-northern Chile Saturday, and was felt in several cities, including the capital Santiago, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported. Authorities reported that as many as 200,000 are without power and two people died of heart attacks.


Virus Kills 10th Victim in Argentina and Chile, Likely Mutated

The event occurred at 10:32 p.m. local time about 15.6 km (9.7 miles) south-southwest of Coquimbo, the USGS said. The quake was 53 km (33 miles) below the surface, a relatively shallow tremor that shook homes and had some worried about a possible tsunami.

The tremor 'quake left the northern city of La Serena without any electrical power, Reuters reported.

The Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Chilean Navy (SHOA) said that the earthquake did not meet the necessary conditions to generate a tsunami, while the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, similarly, quickly discarded a tsunami threat following the tremor.

A Reuters witness reported minor damage to older buildings and power outages in the nearby coastal city of La Serena, a popular beach town about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Santiago.

"It felt very strong...the tourists were very nervous, but nothing serious happened," Camila Castillo, a receptionist at a hotel in La Serena, told Reuters.

An elderly man and woman died of cardiac arrest thought to be associated with the earthquake, according to police and local media reports.

Chilean miner Antofagasta Plc said operations were normal at its Los Pelambres copper mine following the nearby earthquake.

Chile, located on the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire,” has a long history of deadly quakes, including an 8.8 magnitude quake in 2010 off the south-central coast, which also triggered a tsunami that devastated coastal towns.

But death and destruction are limited by strict construction codes especially designed to withstand earthquakes.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador Expresses Solidarity to Mexico After Pipeline Explosion]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 14:15:26 -04:00 Ecuador expressed solidarity with Mexico after the explosion of a fuel pipeline that killed 79 people.


Mexico Receives World's Solidarity After Pipeline Blast Tragedy

The foreign ministry of Ecuador issued an official statement which said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, on behalf of the people and the National Government, expresses its solidarity with the Government and people of Mexico, for the unfortunate loss of human lives and dozens of injuries caused by the explosion of a fuel pipeline in the Municipality of Tlahuelilpan, State of Hidalgo.”

The statement also expressed its condolences and sympathized with Mexican authorities through this trying period and wished a quick recovery of the affected families.

The President of Ecuador Lenin Moreno also expressed his solidarity and commended the Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) for his actions against fuel theft.

“We stand with the Mexican people in mourning the explosion in the state of Hidalgo. Corruption always affects innocent people. My solidarity with @lopezobrador_ and its firmness in the fight against money laundering by fuel theft,”


The accident occurred Friday afternoon in Tlahuelilpan when dozens of people, using buckets, were illegally collecting fuel, which stagnated in farmlands.

The mayor of Tlahuelilpan, Juan Pedro Cruz, said that the pipeline's leakage was reported at 5:00 pm local time. The Mexican army arrived to cordon off the area but could not control the some 200 people who were extracting the fuel. The agents asked the crowd to leave the area but they did not comply with the order, which caused the tragedy.

The fuel explosion created a 'fire barrier', causing a large number of people to become trapped in a ditch-like area.

Lopez Obrador launched a crackdown on fuel theft on Dec. 27 and ordered pipelines to be closed temporarily to stop illegal taps draining billions of dollars from the heavily-indebted state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

Through official statements, the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Panama, El Salvador, and Peru, among almost the hundreds governments, have shown their solidarity with the Mexican government and its people.

]]> <![CDATA[Libyan Journalist Killed By Shrapnel While Covering Clashes]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 13:11:38 -04:00 A freelance photographer, video journalist, and contributer to the Associated Press, RT’s video agency Ruptly, among other news organizations, was killed Saturday in clashes between rival militias in the Libyan capital Tripoli.


Libya: 3 Dead and 6 Injured in Attack on Foreign Ministry

Mohamed Ben Khalifa died from the impact of shrapnel in the Libyan capital while covering the clashes.

The 35-year-old photographer was accompanying a militia patrolling the Qaser Bin Ghashir area south of Tripoli when a shell hit him.

The journalism community in Libya mourned the death of the award-winnging journalist. He is survived by his wife and a five-month-old daughter.

“#Libya-n journalists continue to pay the ultimate price for merely doing the necessary work of journalism. Mohamed Ben Khalifa, a photographer and video journalist, was killed yesterday in #Tripoli’s Qasr bin Ghashir after being hit by shrapnel,” wrote The Libya Times on Twitter.

Ben Khalifa used to cover the Libyan clashes from the frontline and also the plights of migrants who venture to cross the perilous Mediterranean sea.

"RUPTLY was saddened to learn of the death of journalist @mbenkhalifaly who lost his life during clashes in Tripoli today. Over the past 3 years, he worked with us to deliver high-quality reports in difficult circumstances. We send our deepest condolences to his family," Ruptly said in a statement on Twitter.

Ben Khalifa is the 14th journalist killed in the line of duty in Libya. Data complied by the Committee to Protect Journalists' points out that most of these journalists were killed in the crossfire.

The current fighting in Libya broke out this week, breaching a shaky ceasefire brokered by the United Nations in September. The conflict killed 13 people and wounded more than 50, according to the Libyan Health Ministry.

Since the 2011 overthrow of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has seen huge conflict. The UNHCR estimates at least 434,000 people have been internally displaced in the country by ongoing fighting. However, given that most agencies pulled out of Libya years ago, it is impossible for the UN to accurately account for the number of Libyans uprooted by violence and persecution.


]]> <![CDATA[Israel to Shut UNRWA-Run Schools in Occupied East Jerusalem]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 12:53:04 -04:00 In the latest blow to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Israeli authorities are prepared to shut down the agency-run schools in occupied East Jerusalem next year.


UN: Israeli Demolition of Palestinian Structures in West Bank Up 10% in 2018

The schools will be replaced by Jerusalem municipal-run schools which are supported by Israel’s education ministry as decided by the occupying country’s National Security Council.

UNRWA, however, said that Israeli authorities did not inform the group of its plan to close down schools.

"UNRWA's existence in Jerusalem is not a gift from Israel," Sami Meshasha, the spokesperson for the agency said in a press statement Sunday.

"There are bilateral agreements binding on Israel to respect the agency's installations, jurisdiction, and immunity in Jerusalem," he said, adding, "In addition, Israel is a party to the 1946 Refugee Convention, and such attempts are in violation of this Convention."

UNRWA runs seven schools serving a total of 3,000 students in two refugee camps in occupied East Jerusalem.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) executive committee, said the Israeli decision is "a direct insult to the international community and disregard for its laws and decisions and institutions".

"This provocative step deliberately targets Palestinian refugees and their rights guaranteed by international and humanitarian law. It also targets Jerusalem and its institutions within the framework of the occupying state's strategy of Judaizing the Holy City, promoting the policy of ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, extending control over all aspects of life, and imposing new facts on the ground," she added.

Jerusalem’s former Israeli mayor Nir Barakat accused UNRWA of operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel.

"We are putting an end to the lie of the 'Palestinian refugee problem' and the attempts at creating a false sovereignty within a sovereignty," Barkat said.

In September, the United States administration decided to cut funding for UNRWA, a move welcomed by Israel.

The United Nations founded UNWRA in 1948 to help almost 700,000 Palestinians who were forcibly displaced after the state of Israel was established.

At present, UNRWA provides service to around five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the occupied Palestinian territories, and the besieged Gaza Strip.

]]> <![CDATA[Mali: Attack on Northern Village Kills 8 UN Peacekeepers]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 10:22:54 -04:00 Eight U.N. peacekeepers were killed and several were wounded while repelling an attack by armed assailants near a village in northern Mali Sunday, the West African nation’s U.N. mission said.


Mali: 37 Fulani Herders Killed in Row Over Resources

The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear. U.N. peacekeeping and French forces are stationed in northern Mali to combat well-armed jihadist groups seen as the gravest threat to security across Africa’s Sahel region.

The clash near Aguelhok occurred early Sunday following an attack “by assailants in many armed vehicles,” the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said in a statement.

It said peacekeepers had thwarted the attack, but eight died and several were wounded. The mission’s chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif demanded “a robust, swift and concerted response.”

A 2015 peace deal signed by Mali’s government and separatist groups has failed to end the violence. Islamists have also staged assaults on high-profile targets in the capital, Bamako, and in neighboring Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

French forces intervened in Mali in 2013 to drive back fighters who had hijacked a Tuareg uprising a year earlier, and some 4,000 French troops remain there. The U.N. Security Council then deployed peacekeepers, which have been targets of a concerted guerrilla campaign.

Mali is one of Africa's G5 Sahel countries, with th others being Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. Various projects have been plagued with insurgent violence and terrorist attacks since the collapse of Libya in 2011 and after an uprising in northern Mali in 2012. 

As a result, the countries launched a 5,000-man strong joint combat initiative backed by the EU, France, and Germany in July 2017. They are set to receive increased funding from the European Union (EU) as agreed in December  2018 to help address their security concerns.

]]> <![CDATA[Syrian Air Defense Thwarts Israel Attack, State Media Reports]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 10:33:00 -04:00 Syrian military air defenses thwarted an Israeli attack Sunday, it’s state media reported. The defense system shot down seven missiles targeting an airport in southeastern Damascus, Russia's National Defense Control Center was cited by RIA news agency as saying.


US-led Coalition Withdrawing Equipment From Syria

The attack, launched by four Israeli F-16 jets, did not damage the airport and there were no casualties, the control center was cited as saying.

"Our air defense systems thwarted ... an Israeli air aggression ... and prevented it from achieving any of its goals," a military source told state news agency SANA. It gave no further details.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Israeli military later said its Iron Dome interceptor system shot down a rocket fired at the northern part of the occupied Golan Heights on the Syria frontier.

The military's statement did not immediately specify from where the rocket was launched. The northern Golan is also close to Lebanese territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged an Israeli attack last week on what he called an Iranian arms cache in Syria, where Tehran provides Damascus with vital support.

He told his cabinet Israel had carried out "hundreds" of attacks over the past years of Syria's war to curtail Iran and its ally Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Usually silent about its attacks on Iranian targets near its frontier, Israel has lifted the veil this month, a sign of confidence in a campaign waged amid occasional tensions with Syria's big-power backer Russia.

Earlier Sunday, a bomb killed at least three civilians and wounded seven in Afrin, in Syria’s northwest.

The same day witnessed another explosion in the southern neighborhood of capital Damascus which has been deemed as a “terrorist act.”

Lebanese President Michel Aoun urged world powers Sunday, during the Arab economic summit to step up efforts for Syrian refugees to return home, regardless of any political solution to the war there.

]]> <![CDATA[Yemen: Saudi-led Coalition Bombs Capital]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 09:58:53 -04:00 On Sunday, Saudi Arabia-led forces launched overnight air strikes on Yemen’s capital which was described by one resident as the worst in a year. The strike came as the United Nations struggles to implement a peace deal.


Yemen: Vague UN-brokered Deal 'Unravels' Peace, Says Aid Group

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said its warplanes attacked seven military facilities used for drone operations in Sanaa, which is held by rival Houthi forces.

Yemen’s nearly four-year-old civil war, which pits the Houthi movement against the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi, has killed more than 50,000 and left millions on the brink of starvation.

Houthi-run al-Masirah TV said Sunday that the coalition had conducted 24 air strikes on Sanaa since Saturday evening, including four on the air base. It said a plastics factory was also hit, causing a large fire.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said the overnight targets included al-Dulaimi Air Base, a drone storage site, and military training sites.

Medical workers and residents told Reuters at least two civilians were killed, and others injured, and that the raids also damaged homes.

“The raids were very violent, the likes of which we have not seen for a year,” Sanaa resident Arwa Abdul Karim told Reuters. “The house shook so much we thought it would fall on our heads.”

The escalation in fighting threatens the second round of U.N.-sponsored talks this month aimed at ending the war.

Hadi was ousted from power in 2014, and the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in 2015 to try to reinstate him, starting a deadly war.

Rights groups have criticized the coalition for air strikes that have killed thousands of civilians at hospitals, schools, and markets since 2015.

Western nations, including some which supply the coalition with arms and intelligence, have pressed Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to end the conflict that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

The United Nations is trying to implement a ceasefire and troop withdrawal agreement in the port city of Hodeidah, the main entry point for most of Yemen’s imports and aid.

In the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts, a deal was reached in talks in Sweden last month to avert a full-scale assault on the port.

The truce has been largely restricted toHodeidah, which is controlled by the Houthis with thousands of coalition-backed forces massed on the outskirts. But the withdrawal of forces by both sides has stalled over disagreements over who would control the Red Sea city.

]]> <![CDATA[Jamaica: Uganda Activist Bobi Wine Says He Is Still State Enemy]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 10:26:27 -04:00 Member of parliament, freedom fighter and artist Bobi Wine traveled 36 hours to Jamaica, the politician says, to be able to spread his musical message to his fellow Ugandans and the rest of the world.

Ugandan President Museveni Scraps 75-Year Age Cap on Presidential Candidates

Bobi Wine made the remark while performing in the early hours of Sunday on the second and final day of the 26th staging of the annual Rebel Salute roots reggae festival held in St. Ann in northern Jamaica. 

During his set, the Ugandan representative for Kyadondo East took time to laud his countrymen for being "beautiful... enterprising people," adding that, somehow, there are still "40 million people living under oppression, and domination, and under dictatorship."

Wine explained that music has played a "big role to end slavery" while also trying to eliminate all versions of the colonial construct on the African continent. "When injustice continues and is being put on you by your own brother it is colonialism in black skin."

The freedom fighter and performer reminded the patrons of the festival that music helped to "open the eyes of the people ... to fight without violence, without shedding blood" against injustice, segregation and apartheid, specifically in South Africa.

"I want to dedicate the performance to the millions watching me live in Africa right now," Wine said while pacing the stage with the flag of Uganda being waved behind him. "I am in Jamaica now."

The activist — between performing songs in both English a native Ugandan language — recounted government official's "planting machine guns" in his hotel room to arrest him, since his message to the youth of Uganda was and is still viewed as a "threat" to the country's  dictatorship.

"They collect me and shoot my driver ... They beat me and put me in military detention," Wine said at the end of one of his songs.

"Back in Uganda, I been one of the most successful artist, the richest artists. And having come from the ghetto, I used to believe that was the top of accomplishment ... I was owning ... the most expensive [Ford] Escalade. ... As a youth, I used to think that is all there is — to acquire —until I look behind me and saw all the childhood friends languishing in poverty, which they are not supposed to be experiencing," Wine recalled.

"I represent for Africa, a new Africa, with a new imagination. That is why I thought that it is important to use my music for more than just entertaining but to use it for edutainment."

Additionally, Wine disclosed that he is still "banned from performing" in Uganda and the availability of his music is strictly prohibited and he is also prevented from attending public events anywhere in the country.

However, the artist added that he is "not afraid" and will not "give up" fighting for the freedom of the people of Uganda. Wine expressed that oppressors are trying to destroy the country, which he declares is "the most beautiful part" of the African continent.

The politician said reggae music has helped to influence him to fight against colonial afflictions while growing up in the ghettos of Uganda, stressing that Jamaica's music and its people are integral to freedom fighting across the continent.

"We shall continue to use the music to liberate the people of Africa," the activist emphatically stated. "Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you liberate the bodies of men," Wine added, citing Jamaican national hero and pioneer of black civil rights movements, Marcus Garvey.

"The most important weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed," the member of parliament highlighted, urging Jamaicans to keep their eyes on Africa to help expose suppression of the continent's peoples.

Wine explained that it was after the international scrutiny and pressure was mounted, by various people and a tweet from Jamaican reggae group Morgan's Heritage, that the Ugandan government was forced to release him from detention.

]]> <![CDATA[Peru: Environmental Leader Opposing Mining, Shot Dead]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 07:30:21 -04:00 Environmental defender Wildelber Vegas Torres, notorious for his opposition to illegal mining, was shot and killed Saturday in the Suyo district of Peru.

Peru: Judge in Keiko Case Ruled 'Partial' to State Prosecutors

Vegas was shot ten times by hit-men while traveling by motorcycle.

According to residents from the area, the assassination was conducted as an act of “vengeance” against someone who has “led the defense of communal lands” from the interests of illegal miners that reign in the farming community of Santa Rosa de Suyo, reported Servindi.

In the days prior to his assassination, Vegas had reportedly denounced threats against his life to the police but received no answer, according to El Comercio.

This is not the first time in recent years that farmers and social leaders have been targeted by people involved in natural resource exploitation in Peru.

In 2017, six farmers were killed by men connected to the palm oil business in order to gain control of their lands.

Prior to that, in 2014, indigenous leaders Edwin Chota, Jorge Rios, Leonicio Quinticima, and Francisco Pineo were murdered after opposing illegal logging in their lands. The leaders had previously denounced threats against their life but these had been archived by law enforcement which failed to protect them, according to Inforegion.

]]> <![CDATA['Make America Great Again' Students Mock Indigenous March]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 06:40:19 -04:00 A Catholic archdiocese outside Cincinnati is investigating the actions of some of its high school students during the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington Friday.


Indigenous Baby Will Be Returned to Family: First Nations

Students wearing 'Make America Great Again' hats taunted a Native American troupe as it performed the "American Indian Movement" song about strength and courage.

And the Diocese of Covington criticized any of their students who participated in the action, which broke out as a group from the school whuch was in Washington for the anti-abortion event March for Life.

Its statement, forwarded by archdiocese spokeswoman Laura Keener, singled out Native American leader Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam War veteran and Omaha elder. In social media videos of the incident Phillips can be seen singing as a male taunts him smilingly and gets close to his face.

"We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C.," the archdiocese's statement reads. "We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person."

"The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion," the joint statement between the high school, and archdiocese, said.

Phillips told NBC News that some of the young people surrounding him chanted support for President Trump's proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Chants of 'Build the wall' and other things that were even worse," he said as he stood in the rain in Washington. "They were brought up to believe I’m less than human."

"I’m still trying to process it," Phillips said. "Who they were, who those young folks were, where they came from and who’s bringing them up. Where were the chaperones? How did this come to take this point ... ?"

"It’s gonna take us all to come together," he added. "I’m about prayer, but then you have to have some action to go with it."

Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo tribe, said on Twitter that Phillips (a former Vietnam veteran) had risked his life for his country, and that the students showed "blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance".

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer, a Democrat, said the "appalling" footage had rightly inspired "a tidal wave of condemnation" and that his town was now being linked with "intolerance and ethnic intimidation" because of the boys' actions.

"The videos being shared across the nation do NOT represent the core beliefs and values of this city," he said in a statement.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic secretary of state for Kentucky, said the children were not solely to blame.

"I turn to the adults and administration that are charged with teaching them, and to others who are silently letting others promote this behavior," she said on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Phillips longed for a U.S. that would rekindle its family values, and historical roots, "This is indigenous land. We're not supposed to have walls here. We never did for a millennium, before anyone else came here, we never had walls. We never had a prison. We always took care of our elders. We took care of our children. We always provided for them. We taught them right from wrong. I wish I could see the energy of the young mass of young men, put that energy into making this country really, really great, helping those that are hungry."

]]> <![CDATA[35,000 Protest Industrial Agriculture in Germany]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 04:54:43 -04:00 Thousands of protesters gathered in Berlin to demonstrate on issues related to industrialized farming in Europe and to demand policies that promote ecologicially sustainable harvests and climate-friendly agriculture.

German Left Remembers Murder of Rosa Luxemburg

Germany’s Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner was called to action by thousands of protesters who had the message, that “farm work on the land, in the fields, and in the stables is something very valuable and worthy of protection.”

The event organizers reported that 35,000 protesters converged in Berlin, including 170 of them who drove there in tractors from their farms, to call for climate-friendly agriculture and healthy food. The used the slogan "We are fed up with the agriculture industr."  

Central concerns about current farming policy in the EU are the alleviation of climate change and the depletion of species.

Subsidies are a key policy area ripe for “reorganization” They currently total US$68 billion, including US$7.16 billion in Germany, according to groups leading the protests.

Protesters claimed that these subsidies are misdirected, as they are aimed to boost companies’ yields when they ought to be employed to “avert further farmyard closures and rural village die-offs,” reported Deutsche Welle.

Another issue with subsidies is the uneven distribution between large companies and small farmers. The protest’s spokesperson Saskia Richartz explained that Germany’s 3,300 largest businesses receive US$1.14 billion, while 200,000 farmyards, collectively, get US$796 million.

The protest also aimed to reach consumer consciousness. “We have to get away from the day-to-day [habit] of cramming calories into us as quickly as possible, regardless of how they originated,” said Green party co-leader Robert Habeck.

The event’s 56 civil organizations reached a wide consensus on the importance of re-directing agricultural practices for the sake of tackling poverty and alleviating climate change.

They hailed small-scale farming as more suitable to the life cycles of soil, plants, and animals. In terms of poverty, ecologically-based farming is an integral part of promoting development, according to a report titled “Bread for the World.”

The protest took place in the context of the Berlin annual Green Week expo, which was attended by 70 agriculture ministers.

]]> <![CDATA[Indigenous Leader Noe Jimenez Assassinated in Chiapas]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 04:29:03 -04:00 The bodies of the indigenous leader Noé Jiménez Pablo, member of the state coordination of the Independent Regional Peasant Movement-National Plan Coordinator of Ayala-National Movement (Mocri-CNPA-MN), and an unidentified person, were found in the municipality of Amatán, Chiapas, reported Eric Bautista, a spokesperson for Mocri.


200 Indigenous Mexicans Violently Forced out of Vacant Lot

Jiménez's body was found in a garbage dump located three kilometers from the municipal capital of Amatán, where on Thursday an armed group attacked the sit-in that several Mocri protesters had installed to demand the ousting of the mayor Manuel de Jesús Carpio Mayorga, reported Bautista Gomez

He added that instead the body of another man was found who has not yet been identified because "his face was disfigured by acid and was bagged."

Bautista explained that the men who evicted the plantón with bullets "left the house of the former mayor Wilber Carpio Mayorga", brother of Manuel, "covered with balaclavas, with heavy-caliber rifles and small arms." The attack left two people injured, eight women detained, and 50 people missing, while three vehicles were torched.

Among the wounded was Jiménez Pablo, who was shot in the abdomen and chest, "but the paramilitaries did not allow him to be helped, and shot anyone who came to help him, before finally took him away," Bautista added.

"The brutality with which they killed our comrades reflects the hatred of Jesús Carpio and his cacique group towards our comrade Noé Jiménez Pablo and towards the sympathizers and militants of the Indigenous and Popular Council of Amatán for opposing their cacicazgo, for denouncing their abuses, the use of paramilitary groups to perpetuate themselves in power, the looting of the municipal coffers, and their links with organized crime and drug trafficking," he stressed.

Faced with the facts, the Mocri-CNPA-MN demanded truth and justice for Noé Jiménez, as well as punishment for those responsible for his murder, as well as the dismantling of the paramilitary group of the Capio Mayorga.

]]> <![CDATA[Multiple Bomb Attacks in Syria Break Relative Calm]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 03:24:44 -04:00 Multiple attacks took place around Syria Sunday, with an explosion heard in the vicinity of Syria’s al-Motahalik al-Janobi, south of Damascus and another attack in the northwest Syrian town of Afrin which killed three civilians and wounded about 20 on a public bus.


Israel Confirms Air Strike on Iranian Arms Warehouse in Syria

Possible 'Terror Attack'

South of Damascus, State TV broadcaster claimed that, "first reports suggest a terrorist act," while also reporting that there have been some injuries, without giving further details. It was later reported that no one was, in-fact, injured while state news agency SANA reported that an attacker was arrested.

The head of the city's civil defense, Asef Hababe, told Reuters that military technicians had detonated a device.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitoring group, said the explosion was near a security post and that streets were closed around the area, and that gun fights could be heard.

Al-Motahalik al-Janobi is one of Syria's largest highways and connects Damascus to Eastern Ghouta. It is also known as the Southern Bypass.

Bus Attack

A bomb in the northwest Syrian town of Afrin killed three civilians and wounded about 20 on a public bus, several witnesses told Reuter Sunday.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

It follows a blast on Wednesday in Manbij, a northern Syrian town controlled by a militia allied with U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, claimed by the Islamic State Group, which killed two U.S. troops and two civilians working for the U.S. military.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced last month that his army would launch an operation against the YPG east of the Euphrates. U.S. President Donald Trump later announced a decision to pull out of Syria, alarming allied Kurdish leaders who run much of the north.

]]> <![CDATA[Australia: Women Demand Equality, End to Violence]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 03:07:02 -04:00 Thousands took to major cities in Australia to stage a coordinated series of protests calling for women’s equality and against gender violence, and in memory of the recent murder of Aiia Maasarwe.

Ecuador Rocked With Brutal Gang Rape Case, Women Rights Groups Plan National Protests

Nearly 3,000 demonstrators gathered in Sydney alone. Among those present were survivors of domestic violence, women’s rights activists, and indigenous leaders.

Some protesters highlighted domestic violence as a key issue that needs more visibility. Many others also held signs referencing the alleged murder of Aiia Maasarwe, according to ABC news.

Massarwe, a 21-year-old female student from Palestine, was returning home from a night out at a comedy club when she was raped and then murdered by 20-year-old Codey Herrmann, who has been arrested and charged for his crimes.

“I feel so bad that she had to see that by herself...but I hope and I know she is in a better place,” said her sister. The family is awaiting Aiia’s body to be returned home.

Bree Lee, an author, rights activist, and survivor of sexual assault, commented on the sources of strength and projection of the women’s movement saying they need “anger to survive, but hope to strategize.”

“It is so, so hard to keep an olive branch in the palm of your hand when you need your keys between your fingers,” said Lee.

Yumi Stynes, television and radio presenter and host of the event at Hyde Park, addressed the crowd saying, “We have the right to be safe, to claim our space, to be respected and have our voices heard — so I want to hear your voice right now!”

3,000 protestors gathered at Hyde Park to protest against gender violence in Australia, moved by the recent rape and murder of 21-year-old Aiiwa Massarwe.

Lee believes the situation in Australia, as in many other parts of the world, needs to be addressed by transforming the very structure of society, “The statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate that perpetrators do not need a weapon, they do not need the cover of nightfall — the patriarchy gives them everything they need to perpetrate sexual and physical violence against us.” 

In 2018, 69 women were murdered across Australia, according to ABC news.

]]> <![CDATA[Dinghy Carrying 117 Migrants Collapses in Mediterranean Sea]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 02:54:28 -04:00 The Italian navy reported the sinking of a ship off the coast of Libya on Saturday. The boat was carrying 117 migrants on board, but the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is yet to verify the death toll.

Spanish Rescue Boat Blocked From Operating in the Mediterranean Sea

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported 10 women and two children, including a two-month-old baby, among the missing from the shipwreck.

The migrants aboard the dinghy come from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gambia, and Sudan, according to the IOM citing survivor’s statements.

A survivor who spent 24 hours stranded at sea is currently receiving medical treatment in Morocco.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the high number of people dying on Europe’s doorstep,” said top UNHCR official Filippo Grandi.

As many as 120 migrants were being transported on the smuggler’s dinghy which launched Thursday from the shores of Libya, according to another report by Flavio Di Giacomo from the IOM.

“After a few hours, it began sinking and people began drowning,” said Giacomo.

The Italian government said one of its patrol airplanes had been able to identify the sinking boat. At this point, there were 20 people aboard. Two life rafts were then dropped from the airplane near the site in an attempt to give immediate aid.

Later, the Navy sent a helicopter to the shipwreck area which was able to rescue three survivors, all suffering from hypothermia, according to the navy.

This latest tragedy is one of many which has taken place in recent years along the treacherous route from North Africa to Europe.

In 2018, more than 2,200 lost their lives trying to make it across the Mediterranean, according to the BBC.

Italy has recently been busy training the Libyan government on how to intercept and return migrants fleeing to Europe by way of the Mediterranean.

The UNHCR has expressed concern about this practice which sends refugees back to the places they are escaping from because they will be forced to face situations of poverty, rape, beatings, and torture.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentine Minor Raped By Neighbor, Forced to Give Birth]]> Sun, 20 Jan 2019 02:10:00 -04:00 The 12 year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was forced to give birth by caesarean section despite requesting an abortion in the Argentine city of San Pedro, in the province of Jujuy.


Argentina: Outrage Over State Inaction After Gang Rape of 13-Year-Old Girl

An Argentine minor requested an abortion after an initial ultrasound following a heinous rape in the city of San Pedro. She was denied by doctors who feared for her health.

The child was sexually assaulted by a neighbor, who claimed he'd kill both the victim, and her family should she report it to authorities.

A spokesperson at the hospital reported that both the victim and the newborn were in good condition, and that the baby would be put up for adoption.

"The caesarean is done ... a girl was born who did not need resuscitating, and is in neonatology; both are well, "the spokesperson said to Clarin Health Minister of Jujuy, Gustavo Bouhid.

Last week, Argentine's took to the streets of Jujuy to protest the lack of legislation for abortion, with the Fundación Más Vida, a pro-life group, lodging an injunction with Jujuy's courts last Wednesday to stop any related medical intervention on the girl.

During the march, pro-life groups clashed with abortion activists outside the Hospital Materno Infantil "Héctor Quintana."

In May 2018, a 10-year-old girl in the province of Salta continued with her five-month pregnancy with the support of her family. Her situation made national headlines after her mother took her to hospital over stomach pains. When doctors confirmed her 21-week pregnancy, the girl confessed that she had been raped by her stepfather, according to the Buenos Aires Times.

There are 2,700 births to “girl mothers” between 10 and 14 years old each year in Argentina, according to UNICEF data, which equates to 3.6 percent of all births in the country.

According to the adolescent pregnancy care protocol of the Government of Jujuy, "any pregnancy in a girl under 13 is a product of sexual abuse and can access a legal interruption of pregnancy." Despite this, doctors claimed there would be a "danger to the life of the mother" if the abortion were to proceed.

]]> <![CDATA[Full Lunar Eclipse To Be Seen in Americas]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 21:33:44 -04:00 A "Super Blood Wolf Moon" will on Sunday be visible in the Americas, Western Europe and Africa - the last until May 2021.

Star Gazers Seek a Glimpse of 'Blood Moon' in Longest Lunar Eclipse of 21st Century

This total lunar eclipse will be observable from America, Europe and Africa, but the best viewing - if skies are clear - willl be from North and South America.

The celestial spectacle, that will last for about an hour, will merge three different astronomical phenomena: a total lunar eclipse, a "blood moon" and a "super moon."

A "super" moon occurs when the moon is especially close to Earth, while a "wolf moon" is the traditional name for the full moon of January.

In a total lunar eclipse, the moon never goes completely dark. Rather, it takes on a reddish glow from refracted light as the heavenly bodies move into position - hence the "blood moon" moniker. The more particulate or pollution in the atmosphere, the redder the moon appears.

The phenomenon can be seen with the naked eye and no protection is needed to safely enjoy the view, Griffith Observatory said. While total lunar eclipses are not especially rare, the 2019 version takes place early enough in the evening that it can be enjoyed by the western hemisphere.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump: DACA and TPS Recipients’ Fate as Collateral for Wall]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 20:25:19 -04:00 US President Donald Trump has announced an updated plan regarding the government shutdown over border-wall funding after another claim that Mexico will pay for it.

His proposal includes temporary protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in exchange for the US$5.7 billion requested to fund 243 miles of barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump Deploys Fear Tactics in Making Case For Steel Border Wall

Trump claims the border wall would reduce crime and the growing opioid epidemic in the United States. He also said it “solves an immediate crisis. A humanitarian crisis like we rarely see in our country, and it provides immediate relief.”

But Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had been pushing the BRIDGE Act for weeks, before the shutdown even began. The act would extend DACA recipients’ deportation protections and work permits for three more years.

In that time, Congress is expected to develop a permanent solution for the recipients. Democrats are less than enthusiastic about this specific part of the deal, since previous debates show many Republicans were open to bills that would offer DREAMers the option of permanent legal status, and eventually, citizenship.

Trump’s willingness to compromise on the fate of DACA sheds light on the president’s weakening stance in this shutdown. Just nine days ago, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that the administration was “confident the Supreme Court will find DACA to have been unconstitutional” and that a “DACA-for-wall” deal was most likely off the table.

TPS differs from DACA in the sense that recipients are granted legal status, but are not offered any option to apply for a green card or citizenship. TPS is offered to people to stay in the U.S. while their country of origin recovers from war or natural disasters. Trump’s deal offers extension protections for recipients, but nothing more.

While it seems unlikely that Democrats will accept this deal, Trump used his “major announcement” to remind Democrats that “many of these security ideas have been proposed by Democrats themselves, and all of them have been supported by Democrats in the past, including a physical barrier wall.” As Democrats weigh the option to provide temporary security to the immigrants already within the United States versus the potential opportunities for future generations, the President continues to insist that any bill to reopen the government include the billions of dollars requested for the wall.

]]> <![CDATA[Uruguay Evacuates Over 5,000 People Due to Floods]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 19:44:49 -04:00 5,012 people have been forced to leave their homes because of the heavy rains and floods in parts of Uruguay, which have caused several rivers to overflow. 

Uruguay Defends Presence at Maduro's Inauguration in Caracas

The National Emergency System (Sinae) said over 5,000 people have been displaced, 1,145 evacuated and another 3,867 self-evacuated.

The affected departments are Artigas (north), Durazno (center), Florida (south center), Paysandú (west coast), Salto (north) and Soriano (southwest). Salto, about 450 km northwest of Montevideo, is the most affected, with almost 2,000 people leaving their homes, according to the authorities.

The Mixed Technical Commission of Salto Grande reported on Friday that the various meteorological models continue forecasting abundant rainfall for the coming days. Authorities toured the flooded areas, Juan Andres Roballo, Deputy Secretary of the Presidency, said: "We can leave at ease because everything is planned to serve families that are displaced from their homes."
Although the situation remains under control, the circumstances will continue to be monitored. In addition to the evacuations, the national government has sent trucks with mattresses, clothes, blankets, water and food to assist people who had to leave their homes.

The flooding has affected agricultural activities mainly in the soybean cultivations. It has also hit the most important phase of the summer tourist season, closing several roads and touristic spaces.


]]> <![CDATA[Entire Burkina Faso Cabinet and PM Resign From Office]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 18:57:18 -04:00 With no reason given yet, Paul Kaba Thieba, Burkina Faso's prime minister and the entire cabinet of ministers have resigned from office after pressure due to a rising wave of violence and kidnappings in the West African country.

Burkina Faso Re-Establishes Diplomatic Relations With China

The decision was made public by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore in a televised statement to the nation. President Kabore accepted the resignations according to the statement and it is expected that he will form a new government soon.

Attacks by Islamist militants have surged in the previously peaceful West African country in recent months. A state of emergency has been in effect since Dec. 31 in several northern provinces near the borders with Mali and Niger.

A Canadian man was kidnapped in an area of Burkina Faso that the government has warned is under growing threat from jihadist attacks, the African country's top security official said on Wednesday. A dozen gunmen abducted the man around 19:45 (local time) on Tuesday at a mining site owned by Vancouver-based Progress Minerals near northern Burkina Faso's border with Niger, Security Minister Clement Sawadogo said. On Thursday, Kirk Woodman was found dead.

Canadian 34-year-old Edith Blais, and her Italian partner 30-year-old Luca Tacchetto went missing in mid-December, "we have alerted our entire security presence to find these people," Sawadogo said.

Attacks allegedly by Islamist militants have surged in the country in recent months and Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces that has been in effect since Dec. 31.

Security has deteriorated in the West African country in the past three years. Jihadists with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, many based in neighboring Mali, have sought to increase their influence across the poorly policed scrublands of the Sahel region just south of the Sahara Desert in West Africa, Reuters reported.


]]> <![CDATA[Mexico Receives World's Solidarity After Pipeline Blast Tragedy]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 18:30:37 -04:00 Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has arrived at the municipality of Tlahuelipan, in Hidalgo state, to respond to the crisis caused by a gas pipeline explosion on Friday that killed 67, injured 76 and left 65 people missing.

Mexico: Death Toll in Pipeline Explosion Rises to 66

"We are shocked by these events, by this tragedy and we want first of all to offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and inform them that the entire Government is with them," the president said at a press conference held in Tlahuelipan, Hidalgo.

President AMLO said that currently, the most pressing matter is to try and save the lives of the survivors as well as helping the families of the deceased. Adding that the government was committed to clarifying the facts, looking for the truth on what happened, and to assert justice. These words were reinforced by the Office of the Prosecutor, also present in the press conference.

The president was also firmly against the stealing and smuggling of gas (known as Huachicoleo) that is happening in Mexico, which generated the stealing in which the victims were participating. "We are not going to stop, we are going to eradicate this, which not only damages materially, it is not only what the nation loses by this illegal trade, black commerce, this black market of fuels, but the risk, the danger, the loss of lives human beings," stated AMLO.

"Our solidarity with President Lopez Obrador and the people of Mexico in these difficult times. We also express our condolences to the relatives of the victims of the explosion of a pipeline of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex)."

Blaming previous governments for neglecting the population, AMLO stated that fuel theft had been a chronic problem for years and that the priority was to eradicate the social problems and lack of opportunities that had made people put their lives at risk.

Authorities and presidents of different countries have expressed their solidarity with the Government of Mexico and with the families of the victims of the explosion. The Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, thanked the 82 nations that have contacted Mexico to offer their help and solidarity.

Through official statements, the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Panama, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, among almost a 100 of other governments, have shown their solidarity with the Mexican government and its people.

"Government and people of Mexico deeply appreciate the signs of international solidarity, we have received calls from 82 countries to offer help and support on this day of sadness and mourning, our gratitude always," stated the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador Rocked With Brutal Gang Rape Case]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 14:33:22 -04:00 "To Martha: It's not your name, but I imagine you. I do not know you, but I hug you. I do not see you, but I feel your pain. You are strong and you will go forward, you will pass these dark pages and you will be a brave woman again," read one of the messages of solidarity that has been circulating on social media since Jan. 17, 2019, four days after the surfacing of a serious case of gang rape of a 35-year-old woman in Quito, Ecuador's capital was reported.

Women Take to Ecuador Streets Against Sexism, Femicides

"Martha," not the victim’s real name, went on Jan. 13 to celebrate her birthday at a restaurant in the north of the capital. Around 5:00 pm, the victim was found with blood, naked and sedated in the bathroom of that restaurant when the owner went in to open the doors.

Also three men with symptoms of intoxication were found at the restaurant, some of them with their shirts open, and with a mobile phone in which there were images and a video of the sexual assault, which are now being probed by the country’s Attorney General's Office, according to the victim’s lawyer Christian Arellano.

On January 18, #TodosSomosMartha (We Are All Martha) was the top trending topic in Ecuador, after the three men being accused for the rape were transferred to the Latacunga prison. According to article 171 of the Integral Penal Code of Ecuador, rape could carry a prison sentence of 19 to 22 years.

Likewise, activists, politicians, institutions, and citizens expressed their support for the victim, condemning the "machismo" culture in the country and the region that leads to such violence.

The Ombudsman's Office of Ecuador expressed its "deep rejection of the act of extreme sexual violence" against Martha. "This fact, through the means and cruelty demonstrated, reveals a social deterioration of the parameters of respect for human dignity, demonstrating at the same time the persistence of a male culture of undervaluation and contempt for the women … and also of the destruction that fundamentally undermines the freedom, integrity and life of women."

So far, two solidarity marches have been called for Monday, in which the feminist and women groups try to sound the alarm against a frequent phenomenon in the Ecuadorean society.

'Not One More Well': Indigenous Women Protest Ecuador's Oil Exploitation in Amazon

The first one will take place in Quito, from the Tribune of "De Los Shyris" Avenue to the Prosecutor's Office, and the second one in Guayaquil, at the "Plaza San Francisco."

Organizers of the protests are demanding that the authorities take preventive and just measures for an Ecuador without any type of violence. The events have been publicized through social media platforms asking people to attend with black clothes and posters.

"People who are mobilizing, who are organizing marches have their right to do so, and people who want to support Martha only have to send a message using those hashtags #TodasSomosMartha and #NoEsNo, which she receives and knows are in her honor," lawyer Arellano told EFE.

Martha had to be hospitalized for two days to recover from the brutal injuries caused by the attack, according to her lawyer, which include several tears in the genital area caused by having been sodomized and penetrated with different elements.

"Although support and struggle do not heal your wounds, Martha; that's what we can do, what we should do to somehow return the smile, even if it takes years to arrive. Martha, we are with you," a Facebook user wrote commenting on the case.

]]> <![CDATA[US Asked Ecuador Officials About Assange-Manafort Meeting]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 15:31:20 -04:00 United States officials spoke with officials from Ecuador's British embassy Friday about an alleged meeting between President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Ecuadorean government source said.

Assange: Ecuador Engaging in Espionage, Funnels Info to FBI

The Guardian newspaper reported the meeting in November, alleging that the two met at least three times, including in 2016, just before WikiLeaks released damaging emails about Trump's rival in the 2016 presidential elections, Hillary Clinton.

Manafort and Assange have both previously denied meeting each other at the embassy.

WikiLeaks, in a statement Friday entitled the "U.S. interrogation of Ecuadorian diplomats," accused Ecuador's government of assisting the United States in prosecuting Assange, who first sought asylum in the embassy in 2012.

The source said the embassy officials, at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, provided testimony in Quito at facilities provided by Ecuadorean authorities.

Ecuador's Foreign Ministry declined to comment and the U.S. embassy in Quito did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Manafort is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy against the United States and agreeing to cooperate with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible collusion with Trump's campaign.

Part of Mueller's probe has involved looking into whether Trump associates may have had advance notice before WikiLeaks published emails stolen by Russian hackers from Democratic computer networks to damage Clinton.

WikiLeaks called the Guardian's story "indisputably fabricated" and said it was being used as a pretext for the United States to prosecute Assange. The Guardian has defended the article and said it "relied on a number of sources."

A lawyer for Assange in Ecuador, Carlos Poveda, said he had not received any notification of the interviews with the embassy officials.

Assange's relationship with Ecuador has grown increasingly fraught and President Lenin Moreno has said he does not like his presence in the embassy. "Ecuador's new regime has done a 180 turn in relation to protecting Mr Assange," WikiLeaks said in the statement published on Twitter.

Assange initially took asylum at the embassy in London to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation. That investigation was dropped.

Assange denied the Swedish allegations saying the charge was a ploy that would eventually take him to the United States where prosecutors are preparing to pursue a criminal case against him.

]]> <![CDATA[Protesters Descend on Major Cities in 3rd Annual Women's March]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 14:04:01 -04:00
The newly elected women - nearly all Democrats - include the first Muslim women and first Native American women in Congress, as well as the first black women to represent their states in New England. Many cited Trump's presidency among the reasons they decided to run for office.
The marches have been criticized as being not welcoming to conservative women, who may support Trump's presidency and oppose abortion rights. The
Thousands of people have participated in the Third Annual Women's March at Freedom Plaza in Washington
Protesters Descend on Major Cities in 3rd Annual Women's March
A woman dressed as suffragette gestures during the Women's March calling for equality, justice and an end to austerity in London, Britain.
Protesters hold up signs in the Women's March calling for equality, justice and an end to austerity in London, Britain
Protesters take part in the Women's March calling for equality, justice and an end to austerity in London, Britain.
A girl takes part in a march organized by the Women's March Alliance in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S.
]]> <![CDATA[Released Emails Show NYPD Spied on Black Lives Matter]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 13:06:39 -04:00 Hundreds of recently released New York Police Department (NYPD) emails show the extent of efforts officers in the city took to closely monitor activists during Black Lives Matter protests that took hold in the city after the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police officers in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri, respectively.

LA Teachers Launch Strike in US Second Largest School District

Internal emails obtained by attorney M.J. Williams through a Freedom of Information Law request were initially reported by The Appeal.

According to those documents, undercover officers had infiltrated groups of protesters and reported back to superiors with updates while also photographing activists who were seen as leaders during marches from November 2014 to January 2015.

Williams said the emails are evidence that the NYPD was surveilling the Black Lives Matter movement.

"The assumption that the police are there to keep people like those who are participating in those protests safe is a falsehood," Williams said.

In response, NYPD released a statement denying the allegations. "The NYPD does not interfere with Constitutionally-protected activities, and did not investigate Black Lives Matter as a political organization or movement," according to a statement. "The NYPD was focused on ensuring the safety of the public, protesters and officers at these events."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was concerned that the NYPD may have been surveilling the Black Lives Matter movement, which he described as "nonviolent."

"I have no understanding of why there would need to be any monitoring so I will of course wait for the details," de Blasio said. "But they are not a security risk in any way, shape or form, so I don't know why that monitoring would have taken place."

Black Lives Matter protests have been monitored by the U.S. government and have been seen as a potential threat, according to documents released last year by the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Black Lives Matter was founded five years ago by three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in the United States in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. It has grown into an international movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards Black people.

“Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression,” the organization states on their website.

]]> <![CDATA[UN: Israeli Demolition of Palestinian Structures Up 10% in 2018]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 10:54:15 -04:00 During 2018, Israel reportedly demolished or seized 460 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, a 10 percent increase compared to the year before according to a report issued Saturday by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Gaza: Israeli Troops Injure at Least 14 Palestinian Protesters

Two of this month’s demolitions were on punitive grounds while the rest were the result of a lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are almost impossible to obtain.

From 2006 until Dec. 31, 2018, Israel demolished at least 1,401 Palestinian residential units in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem. This has left more than 6,200 people without their homes, including at least 3,134 minors.

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor issued a warning in October 2018 stating that if Israel destroyed the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank, it could constitute a war crime.

Khan al-Ahmar, the Palestinian Bedouin village in the Occupied West Bank, housing a mere population of 180 villagers, had been in the middle of a major international debate last year.

Palestinian activists claim the ongoing destruction of Palestinian structures in occupied Palestine is a key element of a general policy of ethnic cleansing, pushing Palestinians from their territories while expanding Jewish-Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law . 

Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians. The current right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu has been significantly expanding illegal settlements, approving and building thousands of housing units and structures at the expense of Palestinian lands and villages.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolsonaro's Son Received Suspicious Deposits in Account: Report]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 10:21:55 -04:00 Brazilian financial authorities have identified dozens of cash transfers worth almost 100,000 reais (US$26,665) that were deposited over the course of a month into the account of the president's son, according to a TV newscast Friday.

Brazil: Police Attack Protesters Against Bolsonaro Policies

The report on the National Journal, Brazil's main nightly news program, said that the Council for Financial Activities Control (COAF) had identified 48 deposits made into the account of former Rio de Janeiro state lawmaker and Senator-elect Flavio Bolsonaro, the son of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Each of the deposits, made between June 9 and July 13, 2007, was for 2,000 reais, and several of them were made at an ATM inside Rio's state legislative assembly, the National Journal said, quoting a COAF report it said it obtained exclusively.

The news show quoted the COAF report as saying that it was impossible to identify who had made the deposits, but the fact that many were for the same amount suggested whoever had done so was trying to obscure the origin of the funds.

The latest revelation is a new embarrassment for Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right nationalist who took office on Jan. 1 vowing to stamp out endemic graft and show zero tolerance to corruption within his government.

The supreme court this week agreed to a request from Flavio Bolsonaro's lawyers to suspend a probe into suspicious payments to his former driver, Fabricio Queiroz. Flavio's lawyers argued that, as a senator-elect, he now enjoys certain legal protections, including that any case involving him should only be decided by the top court.

The court's decision was widely slammed and handed ammunition to critics who noted that Bolsonaro and his politician sons have regularly railed against the immunity from prosecution that politicians enjoy - and which Flavio invoked.

The scandal arose last month when the COAF identified 1.2 million reais (US$305,000) that flowed through the bank account of Queiroz in 2016-17. Some payments were made to the president's wife, Michelle.

Flavio Bolsonaro, his father and Queiroz have all said they are innocent of any crime. Jair Bolsonaro has said the payment to his wife was Queiroz repaying a personal loan.

In a TV interview Friday, taped before the newscast, Flavio Bolsonaro defended his right to take his case to the supreme court, denied accusations he had been running a phantom employee scheme and said investigators had looked into his bank accounts without legal authority.

"I'm not hiding behind the right to immunity from prosecution," he said. "I have nothing to hide from anybody."

]]> <![CDATA[WHO: Ebola Threatening DR Congo Bigger Cities, Uganda, Rwanda]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 07:47:58 -04:00 The World Health Organization is projecting that the devastating Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will worsen amid post-presidential election tensions.

West Africa: Deadly Ebola-Like Virus Discovered in Fruit Bats

"This is the most complicated setting we've ever experienced in order to stop an Ebola outbreak," Peter Salama, World Health Organization (WHO) deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, stated in a CIDRAP interview. "At a minimum, it will take six further months to stop."

The outbreak is seemingly threatening to spill over into the larger cities of the African nation. Ebola being discovered in Kayina “raises the alarm” for the deadly virus to reach major thoroughfare Goma, Salama warned.

WHO has already deployed a rapid response team to Kayina with other teams placed on alert for Goma. “These are crossroad cities and market towns,” Salama said, about places like Goma, which is a major transportation hub with major highways that lead to Rwanda.

The WHO official also reiterated that the current outbreak in the DRC will likely continue for at least another six months and double in cases rapidly.

"If we can control the outbreak in Beni, we can do it anywhere," Salama urged, referring to the most active outbreak region which is experiencing a crippling scourge of violence. “The persistence of insecurity threatens to reverse recent progress achieved around disease hotspots such as Beni and Butembo,” the WHO official commented.

There are some 450 health personnel dispatched across the region by the global health body.  

Salama said instability and danger are the main issues posing challenges for healthcare workers in the outbreak zone, in addition to language in a lesser capacity.

WHO says there is a very high risk of the outbreak spreading to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

“Now it’s doubling – it’s very possible that it can double again,” Jean-Philippe Marcoux, Mercy Corps country director for DRC said. “If we don’t significantly increase the resources, it will keep increasing. It will spread progressively to other health areas and it will be there for a long time.”

The current Ebola outbreak in the DRC started in August 2017. WHO has since recorded some 668 confirmed or suspected cases and 410 deaths. 

DRC is also experiencing outbreaks of cholera, polio and malaria, WHO disclosed.

]]> <![CDATA[Yellow Vests Say Macron Proposal A Distraction, Resume Protests]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 08:03:30 -04:00 The French authorities ordered a major police deployment on the tenth consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vests demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron. Some 80,000 agents have been mobilized throughout the country; some 5,000 in Paris.

Yellow Vests Continue Protests Despite Government Threats

The Parisian monuments and buildings were surrounded by riot police to allegedly prevent seizure by the Yellow Vests. In the French capital, the main concentration of demonstrators is expected to start at the Esplanade des Invalides, near Napoleon's tomb.

The Ministry of the Interior foresees some 84,000 demonstrators protesting throughout the country. This will be the first protest day after President Macron proposed a "Great National Debate," which would facilitate citizen complaints, channeled through dialogue.

Yellow Vests spokesmen have criticized Macron's proposal as a distracting action to reduce the strength of street protests.

According to the French president, however, his debate is aimed at overcoming the social, territorial, economic and democratic "fractures" that is plaguing France. To achieve such a goal, he proposes local meetings in which participants would be allowed 35 "smart" questions.

Among these queries are "How can we make our tax system more fair and efficient?," "What taxes should be reduced first?," "Are there too many administrative levels?" and "How would you like the state to be organized?"

The Yellow Vest's protests were initially triggered, in Nov. 2018, by a fuel tax increase. Although the French head of state backed off on the decision, the demonstrations have generated the largest anti-neoliberal movement that France has experienced in recent decades.

French citizens have largely complained about high taxes, low wages and few well-paid jobs. These demands are accompanied by a rejection of the actions that President Macron's Administration is carrying out, which demonstrators indicate are skewed for the benefit of the richest companies and people in the country.

]]> <![CDATA[2019 Women's Marches to Push Forward 'More Proactive' Agenda]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 06:54:17 -04:00 The third edition of the Women's March in New York City will be accompanied by other U.S. cities in a new Saturday mobilization for women's rights and against President Donald Trump's Administration ahead of the 2020 elections.

US: Activist Group Seeks Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

The Women's March began as a way to bring together several generations of activists working for the enforcement of human rights. Millions of people took part in marches across several U.S. and global cities on Jan. 21, 2017, one day after the Republican President Donald Trump was sworn in.

Since then, the movement has evolved and expanded the range and scope of its objectives. Vanessa Wruble, a co-founder of the original march, said the movement has grown from being just a reaction to Trump's presidency as “now you see [it] being far more proactive."

The movement's leaders on Friday released the "Women's Agenda," a 10-part policy platform in which the increase of the federal minimum wage, the validity of reproductive rights and the rejection of gender violence will be this year's priorities for collective action.

The 2019 staging of the march also supports the Equal Rights Amendment, the Medicare-For-All bill, among other progressive initiatives.

Currently, there are more than 175 groups involved with Saturday's Women's March collective mobilization. Among them are American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Organization for Women (NOW), MoveOn and the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN).

In this year, the Women's March Alliance hopes that the massive participation of citizens will also be a way to celebrate the results of the midterm elections last November, when a record number of female candidates were elected to public office.

Thanks to mirrored synthesize challenges across the world, the Women's March prompted replicas in cities such as Madrid (Spain), Johannesburg (South Africa), Moscow (Russia), Serang (Indonesia), Frankfurt (Germany) and Tunis (Tunisia).

In London, according to InfoLibre, women will march through the streets against austerity policies armed with the slogan "Women Demand Bread & Roses", which commemorates the '1912 Bread & Roses' protests that revolutionized women's labor rights.

The British organizers consider that austerity is responsible for the increase in economic oppression, violence against women, wage differences between genders, racist behaviors and sexual harassment.

In Paris - a city that will be, yet again, taken over by the Yellow Vests Movement Saturday - the Women's March will be held Sunday, with calls for demonstrators to wear dark clothing to symbolize mourning for all women, intergender and transgender peoples who have been murdered, mistreated, raped and discriminated against.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: War Victims Plea For Continuation of Peace Dialogue]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 04:41:14 -04:00 Civil society's support for the continuation of Colombia's peace process became more visible Friday through the words of 'War Victims' in the Department of Casanare.

Colombia: Duque Calls on Cuba to Hand Over ELN Peace Delegation

Previously, President Ivan Duque demanded that Cuba hand over the National Liberation Army (ELN) peace delegation. The president's request came after a car bomb exploded Thursday at the General Santander Police School (EPGS) in Bogota, killing 21 people and injuring 68.

"I get upset when I hear the dialogue will be broken. We feel very much the death of these people, but we do not want a labyrinth where our children will have to suffer again another war like the one we suffered... I do want no more war, please," Ana, a Casanare's victim of violence, pleaded with tears in her eyes, as reported by El Espectador.

According to this Colombian newspaper, the chairman of the Peace Commission, Senator Roy Barreras, stated that Casanare's social organizations advocate for a peaceful solution to the armed conflict.

"Mr. President Ivan Duque I share with you the pain, the indignation and the anger of the Colombians before the atrocious terrorist attack, but I ask you before your pronouncement that you do not close all spaces for dialogue. The dialogue deactivates car bombs and future violence!"

"Although what happened in Bogota is very painful, it would be more painful to see more deaths, difficulties and wars in Colombia. This would be much, much more painful for the farmers," Jairo Tapias, a Casanare's social leader, said from Yopal, a small municipality that suffered 405 targeted killings of social leaders during the last 60 years of the Colombian armed conflict, according to El Diario del Llano.

El Espectador also reported that Danilo Leal, another Casanare community leader, said that the EPGS tragedy "gives us anger but... we must make cold-headed decisions. If an eight-year effort to foster peace has already been made, the best thing to do is let waters calm down... afterward [President Duque should] make a decision that suits the country."

Senator Barreras, who contributed to the negotiation process between the Colombian government and the ELN, also joined the demands of the population.

"It is necessary to persevere in the quest for peace, maintain calm and keep going... We have no right to inherit our grandchildren and children a country full of violence, fear and attacks. We have an obligation to deliver them a better country."

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico: Death Toll in Pipeline Explosion Rises to 66]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2019 02:36:38 -04:00 The number of people killed by the explosion in a pipeline of the Mexican state oil company Pemex in the center of the country caused by a clandestine takeover for the extraction of fuel rose to 66, officials said Saturday.

Mexico's Fuel Sales Increase as AMLO Confronts 'Huachicoleo'

The governor of the state of Hidalgo, Omar Fayad, said at a press conference - together with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador - that so far 76 people had been injured, including seven children under 18 and a child of 12 years.

The accident occurred Friday afternoon in Tlahuelilpan when dozens of people, using buckets, were illegally collecting fuel, which stagnated in farmlands.

"There are many burned people, who were in the area trying to collect fuel where the leak escaped," said Fayad.

Veteran leftist Lopez Obrador launched a crackdown on fuel theft on Dec. 27 and ordered pipelines to be closed temporarily to stop illegal taps draining billions of dollars from the heavily-indebted state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

"Far from stopping the fight ... against fuel theft, it's going to become stronger, we'll continue until we've eradicated these practices," Lopez Obrador said early on Saturday.

The mayor of Tlahuelilpan, Juan Pedro Cruz, said that the pipeline's leakage was reported at 5:00 pm. The Mexican Army arrived then to cordon off the area but could not control some 200 people who were extracting the fuel. The agents asked the crowd to leave the area but they did not comply with the order, which caused the tragedy.

"More than 12,500 illegal fuel taps made foreseeable a misfortune such as that of Tlahuelilpan in Hidalgo. It was a miracle that there were no more explosions with victims like tonight, according to Pemex technicians."

"I am very sorry for the serious situation in Tlahuelilpan due to a pipeline explosion... I gave instructions to control the fire and attend to the victims," Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), wrote in a Twitter message.

Meanwhile, as part of a first official report, Mexico's Secretary of Government, Simon Vargas, stated that 29 died and 61 wounded were transferred to hospitals.

The fuel explosion created a 'fire barrier', causing a large number of people to become trapped in a ditch-like area.

The Tlahuelilpan tragedy occurs at a time when several Mexican states continue to have fuel shortages, which are reportedly related to the stealing of gas from the pipelines of Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX).

Since at least 15 days ago, Pemex changed its fuel supply model, prompting gas shortages in several places. Currently, the state-owned company uses tankers to supply gas in order to halt the 'Huachicoleo' or fuel stealing, which caused US$3.4 billion losses in 2018.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: Duque Calls on Cuba to Hand Over ELN Peace Delegation]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 21:36:48 -04:00 Colombian President Ivan Duque is demanding the Cuban government hand over the National Liberation Army (ELN) peace delegation.

Duque also ordered the lifting of the suspension of capture orders for the 10 members of the Cuban dialogue delegation.


Colombian Gov't Ends Peace Process with ELN

The Colombian government also revoked the resolution that created conditions for the 10 ELN members to stay in Cuba, which means ceasing benefits they had in order to be part of the peace negotiations, allowing the issue of red alerts by Interpol.

The Colombian government asked Cuba to imprison the 10 ELN negotiators and to hand them over Colombian Authorities, which puts an end to the peace negotiations roundtable between the ELN and the Colombian government.

According to journalist Victor de Currea-Lugo, these actions are an "insult to the Cuban Diplomacy" and also a "treason to what the Colombian state agreed in an eventual case of the breaking of roundtables."

The news of ending the peace process with the ELN prompted many to take to social media and demand that President Ivan Duque not give up on the agreements for the cessation of violence with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and to insist on maintaining the dialogue table the leftist guerrilla group.

Social leaders and "war victims" who have suffered under the decades-long internal conflict in Colombia also called on the Colombian president to not end the peace process with the ELN and avoid the military solution. 

"I get upset when I hear the dialogue will be broken. We feel very much the death of these people, but we do not want a labyrinth where our children will have to suffer again another war like the one we suffered... I do want no more war, please," Ana, a Casanare's victim of violence, pleaded with tears in her eyes, as reported by El Espectador.

The county’s prolonged armed conflict has been ongoing since the 1960s. Between October 2017 and January 2018, the Colombian government and the ELN agreed on a bilateral ceasefire that lasted 101 days.

Since then, the militant organization ordered unilateral truces, in what they claimed was in an effort to prevent any impediment of the voting process during last year's elections.

Funded and sponsored by Catholic priests and rebels, ELN is currently the largest active guerrilla group in Colombia after the peace agreement and demoralization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico's Fuel Sales Increase as AMLO Confronts 'Huachicoleo']]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 22:18:34 -04:00 Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says sales of fuel by state-owned Mexican Petroleum (Pemex) increased in 7.9 million liters between Jan. 7 and 14, thanks to the frontal strategy adopted by the new government to combat fuel stealing.


Mexico to Delay Clean Diesel Rule as Fuel is Scarce: Sources

Lopez Obrador said that gas stations that used to buy fuel from illegal sources were forced to stop and acquire it from Pemex as a result of the strategy. At a national level, sales increased from 119.1 to 127 million liters.

In Mexico City alone, the sales tripled from 4.3 to 13.4 million liters in that same period, said Octavio Romero, Pemex’s director. In Jalisco state, sales also increased by 1 million liters.

However, sales in the rest of the country decreased by 2.4 million liters.

Lopez Obrador explained that the increase in sales resulted in scarcity, as now the company is struggling to supply all the fuel that used to be purchased from illegal distributors.

“We’re selling more fuel than before because we’re also supplying what used to belong to the black market. Because they can’t steal what they were stealing anymore, now Pemex is selling more, even though what I’m saying seems incredible,” said the president.

He also informed that the bank accounts of four military officers, in charge of the pipeline's security, were frozen for their alleged collusion in fuel stealing networks and have arrest orders out for them.

Lopez Obrador announced the plan to combat fuel stealing, known as 'huachicoleo,' on Dec. 27, saying that such theft costs the state more than US$3 billion every year.

A week before he made the announcement, security officers began monitoring the state-owned fuel company’s pipelines. In January, AMLO closed them to avoid further stealing from illegal valves, opting instead to transport fuel by road in supervised tanker trucks.

The strategy and collective panic caused shortages in several cities, leaving people facing long queues to get their tanks filled.

Financial Investigations

Mexico’s security secretary Alfonso Durazo informed that the government freezed the banking accounts of 27 private companies and arrested 435 people accused of being involved with fuel stealing.

Thirteen of those companies were Pemex franchises but have no formal registries that can avail for their purchase of fuel, despite reporting incomes for about US$4,390 million in total, said the secretary on press conference Thursday. Other 114 companies are currently under investigation.

The secretary announced the creation of a new police financial division to participate in the general strategy against fuel stealing and address money laundering cases. So far, the Financial Intelligence Unit has been taking care of the investigations.

Durazo also informed that 16 of these companies are under investigation by the Public Ministry and that the accounts of 15 people were also freezed as part of the operation in the territory.

]]> <![CDATA[Belize: PM Rejects Interventionism in Nicaragua and Venezuela]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 20:47:11 -04:00 The Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Oliver Barrow, rejected the intervention in internal affairs of Nicaragua and Venezuela, during his visit to Cuba.

Unesco Lauds Belize's Efforts to Preserve Coral Reef, Removes from Endangered List

"Interference is a threat to peace. You should not try to interrupt the government that is right now in Nicaragua, what is needed is to promote dialogue, " Barrow said in statements to Cuban national television.

The Belizean Prime Minister ended the visit to Cuba on Friday, where he met with the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Tuesday, and carried out other meetings with Cuban officials.

Borrow arrived in Cuba on Tuesday to strengthen relations between the two Caribbean countries, and to discuss important issues in the region, he stated.

When asked about the attempts to destabilize the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, Borrow stated his reject to these attempts which above all want to dismantle the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Dean Oliver Barrow presented an homage to the historic Cuban national hero Jose Marti in the Memorial place with that has the name of the independent hero. Borrow will leave Cuba on Saturday, the country where he went in order to get closer bilateral relations.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala Calls for General Elections on June 16]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 20:44:13 -04:00 Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) called for general elections on June 16, 2019, as the country is going through a political crisis fostered by President Jimmy Morales’s conflict with the U.N. Anti-Graft body.


Guatemalans Demonstrate For and Against Banned Anti-Graft Body

“The Supreme Electoral Court calls to participation with a civi spirit, in harmony and without confrontations,” said Mario Aguilar, president of the TSE.

More than seven million Guatemalans will elect about 4,000 public servants, including president, vice president, municipal authorities and representatives for local, national and Central American houses.

Neither president Morales nor the presidents of the other government branches were present at the TSE ceremony announcing the elections date.

Morales was elected with a promise for change in 2015 after ex-President Otto Perez Molina resigned accused of corruption. The U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG ), which Morales is now trying to expel from the country as soon as possible, played a key role in the investigations.

While Perez Molina’s trial goes on, his vice president Roxana Baldetti was already sentenced to more than 15 years in prison.

His current dispute with the CICIG proved to have a strong political cost, with massive protests in favor of the international institution.

Thelma Aldana, who served as the Attorney General (2014-2018) and worked along the CICIG in several high profile corruption cases, has said in the past she would like to participate in the presidential elections. Although she hasn’t formalized her candidacy yet, her team has been discussing the possibility to make her the candidate of a new, progressive political party known as “Movimiento Semilla” (Seed Movement).

As soon as she left her position in 2018, several cases were filed against her by the political establishment, accusing her of embezzlement, abuse of authority and other cases.

Other visible names that will probably participate in the elections are Sandra Torres, who in 2011 divorced then president Alvaro Colom to be able to run in the elections and made it to the second round against Morales in 2015;  Alejandro Giammattei, who has been a candidate three times already; and Zury Rios, daughter of the late dictator Efrian Rios Montt, who founded a political party to participate.

The electoral authorities informed that there will be 27 out of 28 parties participating in the process so far, as one is suspended, receiving up to US$3.7 million for campaign expenses.

Parties will not be forced to include women or indigenous people in their candidacies because an electoral reform didn’t pass in 2016.

]]> <![CDATA[A Coup in Progress? Venezuela's FM Decries US-Backed Plans]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 19:51:00 -04:00 Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced an international plot led by the United States to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro and install a government that suits their interests in the region.


Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Dedicate 2,127th March to Venezuela

In an interview with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, Arreaza talked about a coup attempt being set up by the U.S. and allies, the negative effects of the sanctions imposed on Venezuela, the opposition and the geopolitical situation in Latin America.

“Who is Juan Guaido? Nobody knows him—but he’s being pushed to say that he is the new president, by the U.S. He hasn’t said that, but Pompeo says it, Almagro from the OAS says it, and other presidents say that now he’s the president... They are calling the armed forces to make pronunciations against President Maduro. That’s what they want, a coup d’état in Venezuela. They want a war in Venezuela. And it’s not going to happen,” said Arreaza.

Before Maduro was sworn in for his second term on Jan. 10, Juan Guaido was declared head of the National Assembly, in contempt of court since 2016, which agreed to declare Maduro an “usurper.” Even though Guaido didn’t declare himself the president of Venezuela by dismissing the elections as illegitimate, the government of Brazil led by far-right Jair Bolsonaro recognized him as such.

Arreaza argues that the Venezuelan opposition doesn’t do anything without permission from the U.S. State Department. He explained how part of the opposition called to boycott the 2018 elections and called them a fraud even before they took place, pressuring candidates to not participate in them.

“And now they say that because the elections were a fraud, then there’s no president of Venezuela, so the president of the National Assembly has to be the new president. And all these governments and the U.S. government are encouraging this thesis,” he said.

The U.S. national security adviser John Bolton announced that his government didn’t recognize the “Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s illegitimate claim to power.”

The Lima Group, founded by right-wing Latin American countries with the support of the U.S. to pressure Venezuela, issued a statement not recognizing Maduro’s new term. Mexico, part of the group, refrained from signing it, as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is returning to the historical foreign policy of non-intervention.

The foreign minister continued explaining the democratic processes in Venezuela, how society is organized in community councils and communes where people takes decisions, how education, health and housing were democratized instead of privatized.

“So, we are really trying to build a root democracy, rooted in the people. And that is what they don’t like, because that is not what they would like from the countries of Latin America,” he said.

But as it has happened in Cuba and Chile, to name a couple, the United States keeps pressuring governments that don’t play by their rules. “He wanted to make the Chilean economy under Allende scream,” said Goodman about Henry Kissinger, who is still in the game of U.S. foreign politics.

The United States is currently considering to impose a new set of sanctions against the Venezuelan government, potentially putting at risk the health and wellbeing of millions of Venezuelans.

]]> <![CDATA[New Migrant Caravan Enters Mexico]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 18:55:39 -04:00 Hundreds of Central American migrants entered Mexico undocumented through an open border, in spite of the Government's offer to give a humanitarian visa to transit freely for a year in the country.

Mexico Implements 'Change in Migration Model,' Issues Humanitarian Visas for Migrant Exodus

Between Thursday and Friday, over a thousand Central American migrants crossed the border between Guatemala and Mexico, into the state of Chiapas.

“The road today was open,” said Marco Antonio Cortez, 37, a baker from Honduras traveling with his wife and children, ages 2 and 9. “They didn’t give us bracelets or anything, they just let us pass through Mexico migration.”

The Mexican government, led by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), is trying to guarantee the safe and orderly flow of people through the border and offered a one-year humanitarian visa. To Help with the process, on Thursday, officials gave migrants wrist bands to wear until they could register with authorities and continue with the humanitarian visa process that would last for five days.

According to the Mexican National Migration Institute, the migrants can stay in temporary shelters in Mexico until they receive humanitarian visas allowing them to remain in the country, or they can wait in Guatemala for their document to be ready, as was written in a statement.

The majority of those migrants who crossed the border undocumented, seek only to go to the United States (U.S.) and won't stay in Mexico. Groups of migrants left El Salvador and Honduras earlier in the week, the latest in a string of caravans of people largely fleeing poverty and violence.

The caravans have inflamed the debate over U.S. immigration policy, with President Donald Trump using the migrants to try to secure backing for his plan to build a wall covering the country’s southern border with Mexico.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is pursuing a “humanitarian” approach to the problem, vowing to stem the flow of people by finding jobs for the migrants. In exchange, he wants Trump to help spur economic development in the region.


]]> <![CDATA[UN Secretary-General Condemns Car Bomb Attack In Colombia]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 18:08:36 -04:00 The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, condemned on Friday the bomb attack on Friday in the Colombian capital, Bogota, against a police academy and also expressing condolences to the families of the victims.

Colombia, With History of 'False Positives,' Ends Dialogue with ELN over Alleged Link to Bomb Attack

"The Secretary-General strongly condemns the car bombing at a police academy in Bogotá.  He expresses his condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to the injured," said the statement.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, released a short statement assuring that "the Secretary-General stands in solidarity with the people and Government of Colombia in this time of tragedy."

"The Colombian authorities have indicated that they have proof that this terrorist act was conducted by the ELN.  The perpetrators must be brought to justice," said the statement.

The accusation of the Colombian Government against the National Liberation Army (ELN), led to the announcement of ending of the peace process and dialogue with the leftist group.

The news of ending the peace process with the ELN prompted many to take to social media and demand that President Ivan Duque not give up on the agreements for the cessation of violence with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and to insist on maintaining the dialogue table the leftist guerrilla group.

According to the most recent figures, the car bombing killed at least 21 people, including the perpetrator, and 68 wounded at a police academy. The Colombian government has described the attack as an act of terrorism, a car broke through checkpoints into the grounds of the General Santander School before it detonated, shattering windows of apartments nearby.

]]> <![CDATA[Gaza: Israeli Troops Injure at Least 14 Palestinian Protesters]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 15:14:22 -04:00 Fourteen Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire in new clashes along the Gaza border Friday, said Gaza's health ministry, protests that are part of the March of Return protests that Palestinians in Gaza have been organizing weekly since last March.

Palestinian Dies as Israeli Forces Storm Great March of Return

The ministry said the 14 were shot, including two medics, but did not report that any were in life-threatening condition.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in multiple locations along the border, though clashes were less intense than in previous weeks, AFP and Reuters reported.

The Israeli occupation forces fired live bullets and rubber-coated steel rounds at the protesters, Palestinian State Agency WAFA reported,  injuring Ahmad Ghanem, a correspondent of Al-Mayadeen TV, and journalist Mohammad Abu-Qadus, in addition to three paramedics.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said approximately 14,000 Palestinians took part in "riots" along the border, with protesters "burning tyres and hurling rocks at (Israeli) soldiers".

Palestinians have held often violent demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border since March 2018.

At least 243 Palestinians have since been killed by Israeli fire, the majority during protests and clashes. Others have died in airstrikes or shelling.

Most of the casualties occurred on May 14, 2018 when Israeli forces attacked Palestinian protesters marking the 70th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of historical Palestine, elsewhere referred to as the Nakba of 1948, and the ensuing ethnic cleansing of half a million Palestinian refugees.

]]> <![CDATA[Internet Blacked Out in Zimbabwe as UN Urges End to Crackdown]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 13:29:15 -04:00 Zimbabwe was under an internet blackout on Friday after authorities extended a communications ban to cover emails, while the United Nations urged an end to a security crackdown on civilians triggered by days of deadly protests.

Zimbabwe: 600 Detained After 3-Day National Strike

The government has said three people died during demonstrations that broke out on Monday after President Emmerson Mnangagwa raised fuel prices by 150 percent. Lawyers and activists say the toll was much higher and that security forces used violence and carried out mass arrests to quell the unrest.

In Geneva, The U.N. human rights office called on the government to stop the crackdown and denounced allegations of "generalized intimidation and harassment" of protesters.

As life returned to a semblance of normality in Harare, civilians ventured outside to stock up on food and other supplies while police continued to patrol the streets.

Jacob Mafume, spokesman for the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party, said he feared the web blackout was a prelude to more violence.

"The total shutdown of the internet is simply to enable crimes against humanity," he told Reuters. "The world must quickly step in to remove this blanket of darkness that has been put on the country."

Authorities have yet to respond to the allegations of a crackdown, but many Zimbabweans believe Mnangagwa is falling back on the tactics of his predecessor Robert Mugabe by using intimidation to crush dissent.

The president has also failed to make good on pre-election pledges to kick-start the ailing economy - beset by high inflation and a currency shortage, and the trigger for this week's protests.

Referring to allegations of night-time door-to-door searches against demonstrators and beatings by police, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said hospital medics had treated more than 60 people for gunshot wounds.

"This is not way to react to the expression of economic grievances by the population," she said.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombian Gov't Ends Peace Process with ELN]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 12:34:38 -04:00 The Colombian government announced the end of the peace process and dialogue with the National Liberation Army (ELN) after accusing the leftist group of being behind the bombing at the Santander General Police School, which left 21 dead and 68 wounded in Bogota.

Colombians Call on Duque's Gov't to Maintain Peace Process With ELN

President Ivan Duque will give the official announcement after a meeting with the Security Council.

In a press conference Friday, Defense Minister Guillermo Botero declared that the attack with a vehicle full of explosives was allegedly committed by José Aldemar Rojas Rodríguez, 56, known as "El Mocho" or "Kiko".

"This is a guerrilla explosives expert who lost his right hand and who since 1994 served as a militant with ELN in Puerto Nuevo, in the department of Arauca, bordering Venezuela," Botero claimed.

For his part, the Attorney General of Colombia, Néstor Humberto Martínez, reiterated that "the material author of this terrorist act is a member of the National Liberation Army " and assured that the authorities have "documents that accredit it."

Likewise, Martínez indicated that the Prosecutor's Office will charge the members of the Central Command of the ELN for the attack.

He also explained that another man, named Ricardo Andrés Carvajal, was captured and who allegedly acknowledged being a co-author of the attack via telephone.

According to the Colombian authorities, the perpetrator of the attack, José Aldemar Rojas is a recognized ELN member. However, Rojas has no criminal record and there was no arrest warrant in effect against him.

Previously, local media had circulated false information about alleged statements by the ELN leader Pablo Beltrán about the attack on the police school, which were later denied by the insurgent group.

Meanwhile, former peace negotiator of the Colombian government with the ELN, Juan Camilo Restrepo, said in an interview with BluRadio Friday "I do not remember that the name of José Aldemar Rojas circulated in the Quito table while I was there," referring to the peace talks that took place in Ecuador before moving such talks to Cuba. .

The news of ending the peace process with the ELN prompted many to take to social media and demand that President Ivan Duque not give up on the agreements for the cessation of violence with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and to insist on maintaining the dialogue table the leftist guerrilla group.

Also, critics are pointing to the fact that the Colombian state and its successive governments have been denounced for repeatedly using false positives and untrue statements in favor of purely political interests.

On January 16, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the Colombian State for violations of the right to life, personal integrity, and personal liberty. The accusation stemmed from the death of six young people, under the modality of false positives, in the Colombian departments of Arauca, Santander and Casanare.

UN Condemns Colombia 'False Positives' Assasination Attempt

In the 84-page ruling, the international body found "violations of guarantees and judicial protections for actions contrary to guarantees to the natural judge, reasonable time and due diligence, mainly caused by the flaws and obstacles of investigations in the framework of the military criminal jurisdiction."

"Although the Court has known other cases of extrajudicial executions in Colombia, it is the first ruling of an international tribunal in which a pattern of commission of false positives is recognized," said a statement from the defendants’ lawyer José Alvear Restrepo.

Also earlier this month the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the attempts against the life of Alfamir Castillo, the mother of Darbey Mosquera Castillo, who was killed in 2008, as part of the “false positives” extrajudicial killings which rocked Colombia during President Alvaro Uribe’s administration.

In context, at least 1,750 members of Colombia's army were involved in creating "false positives," the name given to the practice of killing civilians and disguising them as combatants. According to Colombia's Office of the Attorney General, this phenomenon claimed the lives of at least 2,248 persons between 1988 and 2014.

The Colombian government provided an incentive for these extrajudicial killings by issuing a secret order, called "Directive 29," that offered a financial reward to those who killed guerrillas or paramilitaries.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombians Call on Duque to Maintain Peace Process With ELN]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 11:25:54 -04:00 After the attack in Bogota that left 21 dead and 68 wounded, hundreds of Colombians are demanding that President Iván Duque not give up on the agreements for the cessation of violence with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and insist on maintaining the dialogue table the leftist guerrilla group.

Toll from Colombia Car Bomb Rises to 21: Police

Through Twitter, they used the hashtag #AdelantePorLaPaz (forward with peace) in which they expressed their desire for the end of the armed conflict in the South American country as well as lamenting the loss of lives in the attack.

"#AdelantePorLaPaz It is the only way to make Colombia a country where young people: cadets, peasants and students are not killed and silenced in the context of a conflict that the only thing that generates us is death and rupture of the social fabric," one user said in a tweet

"The government @IvanDuque believes that dialogue with the ELN, will not achieve peace, and instead wants to defeat it militarily. That was done 16 years ago with the Farc, and Uribe in eight years could not. Let's not wait for more four years of violence and death," another Colombian said through the social media website. 

The call for maintaining the peace process came shortly after the government of Ivan Duque officially accused the ELN of ordering the attack. The leftist group has yet to issue an official statement on the accusations, however, the group did issue a tweet from its official Twitter account rejecting reports of its responsibility yesterday on media outlets and by officials following the bombing.

The Colombian government and the ELN had initiated peace talks in February 2017 under a mandate by former President Juan Manuel Santos.

Those talks are currently in an evaluation phase. In a move that pushes peace talks further away, on Nov. 21 the Colombian government announced they won’t suspend the Interpol arrest order against Nicolas Rodriguez, known as Gabino, who was designated as the ELN's chief peace negotiator.

The county’s prolonged armed conflict has been ongoing since the 1960s. Between October 2017 and January 2018, the Colombian government and the ELN agreed on a bilateral ceasefire that lasted 101 days.

Since then, the militant organization ordered unilateral truces, in what they claimed was in an effort to prevent any impediment of the voting process during last year's elections.

Funded and sponsored by Catholic priests and rebels, ELN is currently the largest active guerrilla group in Colombia after the peace agreement and demoralization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

]]> <![CDATA[US Women's Marches Return to Streets Against Patriarchy ]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 10:14:03 -04:00 Two years after filling the streets of U.S. cities to protest the start of Donald Trump's presidency, women will march again this weekend to try to build political pressure against him ahead of the 2020 elections.

Women Take to Ecuador Streets Against Sexism, Femicides

The loose movement around the marches has splintered as it enters its third year, and one of the various groups now involved has faced criticism it is anti-Semitic, which it denies. But leaders of the groups say momentum has not slowed, and the rallies will celebrate unprecedented gains for women in congressional and state races in last year's midterm elections. Millions of people took part in the women's marches in Washington and other cities in the United States and abroad on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after the Republican president was sworn in.

Vanessa Wruble, a co-founder of the original Women's March on Washington who left to start March On, a separate grassroots coalition, said the movement has evolved from being a reaction to Trump's presidency.

It was "essentially the resistance movement, and now you see the movement being far more proactive," she said.

Women's March, a national nonprofit organization that evolved from the initial Washington march, is using its #WomensWave marches in Washington and elsewhere on Saturday to roll out a 10-part policy platform that includes raising the federal minimum wage and protecting reproductive rights.

"Women are just not on the agenda in this current administration," Women's March Chief Operating Officer Rachel Carmona said.

March On will kick off an initiative to mobilize women voters by hosting a "March on the Polls 2020" on Saturday in dozens of cities, including Boston and Denver.

Dozens of like-minded organizations will host training sessions for activists and prospective candidates.

More than 400 women have applied to attend a candidate training session this weekend in Washington hosted by Emily's List, an organization that works to elect women who support abortion rights, said spokeswoman Tonya Williams.

Wruble said the 2018 elections showed the movement had "shifted the balance of power" in American politics. More women were elected to the U.S. Congress than ever before and many of the new Democratic women lawmakers cited Trump's presidency among the reasons they decided to run for office.

Of course, women are not all united around the same causes. The annual "March for Life" by anti-abortion campaigners, which takes place in Washington on Friday, is a movement of people who broadly embrace Trump and Republicans.

The Women's March now counts national progressive groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Move On among its partners. MarchOn partners include the ACLU, Rock the Vote and Emerge America, which recruits Democratic women to run for office.

There have been growing pains in a movement that grew out of hundreds of loosely affiliated marches in 2017.

Leaders of Women's March and March On insist the divisions are not a weakness.

"I know there have been controversies this year and rifts and divides and those may or may not affect numbers on particular marches, but I haven't seen that have any effect on the movement's strength over all," Wruble said.

Carmona said "there is a role for everyone" no matter which group they join, adding decentralized movements had a kind of power that is "hard to strike at."

]]> <![CDATA[Death Toll from Colombia Car Bomb Rises to 21: Police]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 11:36:52 -04:00 Colombian police Friday said 21 people were killed and 68 injured after a car bomb exploded at a police academy in Bogota in an attack that prompted fears of a return to the country's violent past.


Colombia: Campesino Boy Killed, Locals Point to Paramilitary

In Thursday's attack, which the government described as an act of terrorism, the car broke through checkpoints into the grounds of the General Santander School before it detonated, shattering windows of apartments nearby.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said he was returning to the capital from the west of the country, where he had been attending a security meeting and had ordered security forces to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

"All Colombians reject terrorism and are united to confront it," he said on Twitter. There was no word on who might be behind the explosion.

Images on social media showed the remains of a vehicle in flames in the parking area of the police school, and emergency responders at the scene.

On the outskirts of the police complex, dozens of family members of the cadets gathered crying and seeking information about what happened to the students hoping to become police officers.

Meanwhile, ambulances were leaving the area with the wounded as helicopters patrolled the skies.

The explosion also broke the windows of several apartment buildings and houses near the establishment. Witnesses told reporters at the site that the vehicle violently entered the police training center before the explosion in which the driver died.

"It's a car bomb that unfortunately violated security filters," Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez told reporters.

]]> <![CDATA[Driverless Tractors to Pave the Future of Chinese Agriculture?]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 07:52:24 -04:00 A combine harvester buzzes across a field without a driver on board, chopping golden rice stalks and offering a glimpse of what China's authorities say is the future of the nation's agricultural sector.

China Creates History, Lands Probe on The Dark Side of The Moon

The Chinese Government is encouraging companies to develop, within seven years, a fully automated machine capable of planting, fertilizing and harvesting rice, wheat and corn.

This push for the introduction of science into traditional production is key, as China faces an aging rural workforce and a shortage of young people willing to endure the difficulties associated with working the land.

"Automated farming is the way to go and the demand here is huge," Cheng Yue, the Changzhou Dongfeng tractors manufacturer's manager, said.

However, the road to automation is still full of obstacles such as high costs, different types of land textures and farm sizes.

"I've heard of driverless tractors, but I do not think they're practical, especially the big ones," Li Guoyong, a wheat producer in Hebei Province, said and explained that farms in his area are only a few hectares in size.

To achieve the ambitious seven-year policy goal, the Chinese Government is pushing for local testing, which will be organized by the Telematics Industry Application Alliance (TIAA).

The conglomerate of TIAA companies includes YTO, a state-owned company which developed its first driverless tractor in 2017 and aims to start mass production soon, Lei Jun, an executive of the company's technology center, said.

"China is expected to climb the autonomous technological ladder very quickly, mainly because its companies can access the local navigation satellite system [Beidou], which gives them an advantage over their international peers,," Alexious Lee, head of China Industrial Research at Hong Kong brokerage CLSA, commented.

The agricultural uses of Telematics - a branch of information technology dealing with the long-distance transmission of information - will contribute to fulfilling 'Made in China 2025', a campaign to promote the vast majority of China's farm equipment being produced domestically by that year.

]]> <![CDATA[Sudan: Protesters Urge President Omar al-Bashir to Step Down]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 06:37:37 -04:00 Sudanese citizens marched to the government palace in Khartoum, the country's capital Thursday to attempt to give President Omar al-Bashir a memorandum demanding his exit from office and a peaceful transition of power.

Sudan: 30 Consecutive Days of Protests Besiege President

More than a thousand people chanted slogans such as "The revolution is the people's choice " and "The people want change," before the security forces confronted the protesters with force.

This is not the first time marches have been held near the presidential palace, but protesters never managed to get close to the building in previous times.

Sudanese police were deployed at government buildings and the presidential headquarters, while protesters blocked several streets in Khartoum's downtown to prevent the arrival of reinforcement personnel.

Hundreds of citizens were arrested during the protests that were organized by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) to bring together non-official union groups and lead the anti-al-Bashir movement over the past month.

Hasan al Baker, a SPA member, said there were also protests in the states of Gizera, Al Qadarif and Sennar. In all the demonstrations, however, the police eventually dispersed the marches with violence.

“The number of people demonstrating is rising because of the government's violence,” TodayNg reported and added that at least 816 people have been arrested, so far.

Sudan's presidential assistant, Faisal Hassan Ibrahim, urged young people to be "positive" and not respond to "calls that hurt the country," adding that President al-Bashir is willing to talk with young people to pay attention to their needs.

These statements were aimed at halting the revolt's main force, the Sudanese youth. After a month of continuous protests, which began by expressing discontent to basic products scarcity and inflation, demonstrations have become a wide-spread movement against President al-Bashir, a 75-year-old ruler who has made no concessions.

]]> <![CDATA[African Union to DR Congo: Suspend Election Results Declaration]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 05:39:39 -04:00 The African Union (AU) Thursday urged the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to suspend the proclamation of the final results of the presidential election, which was held on Dec. 30, because there are serious doubts about the provisional data.

Southern Africa Bloc Urges DR Congo Election Vote Recount

In a high-level consultative meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, the AU members concluded that there are uncertainties surrounding the provisional results proclaimed by DR Congo's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on Jan. 10, which gave the victory to Felix Tshisekedi.

“The heads of state and government attending the meeting concluded that there were serious doubts on the conformity of the provisional results, as proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission, with the votes cast. Accordingly, [they] called for the suspension of the proclamation of the final results of the elections,” the AU stated in a statement issued from its headquarters.

The African Union leaders agreed to urgently send a high-level delegation to DR Congo, which will comprise the current AU president and Rwandan ruler Paul Kagame, other heads of state and the AU Secretariat's head, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

That delegation will seek "to interact with all Congolese stakeholders, with the view to reaching a consensus on a way out of the post-electoral crisis in the country."

"Elections in DR Congo: the country still deprived of Internet."

This decision caused surprise among politicians and analysts given that the African Union encompasses 55 countries. This integration bloc seeks to rid Africa of the vestiges of colonization and apartheid as well as to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state members.

According to the results published by CENI,  Felix Tshisekedi obtained 38.57% of the votes, Martin Fayulu had 34.86%, and Emmanuel Shadary got 23.84%.

Fayulu, a national deputy, rejected these results saying they are "invented", along with the National Episcopal Conference (CENCO) which also disagree with the figures.

In fact, Fayulu challenged the results before the Constitutional Court on Jan. 12 and demanded a manual recount of the votes, declaring that he obtained some 61% of the votes.

From the international community, the European Union (EU) has urged DR Congo to publish the polling minutes of the elections to appease doubts about Tshisekedi's triumph, while the United States has demanded a "clarification."

The 2018 presidential elections ended two years of delays and uncertainty since President Joseph Kabila - who has remained in power for the last 18 years - concluded his final legal term in 2016.

The electoral process was marked by numerous technical failures and delays in the opening of polling stations.

DR Congo is Sub-Saharan Africa's largest country and it stands out for its enormous mineral resources, although this natural wealth has not brought most of the Congolese population out of poverty yet.

]]> <![CDATA[Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Dedicate 2,127th March to Venezuela]]> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 04:44:09 -04:00 The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo have dedicated their 2,127th march - which was staged in Buenos Aires, Argentina - to the Venezuelan people and the country's President Nicolas Maduro.

Mothers of Argentina's Disappeared March to Keep Memory Alive

Mirroring every Thursday since 1997, the Mothers gathered at the square facing Argentina's presidential palace to perform their "March of Resistance;" except, this Thursday, the group also incorporated protesting recent attacks that Venezuela has been receiving from the United States and its regional allies.

The marchers, who were accessorized with their traditional blue flags and white scarves, flew Venezuelan flags to show support to President Maduro.

"I dedicate our 2,127th march to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and to its people," Hebe de Bonafini, the association's president, said and added that the United States "generates conflicts because [the country] wants a war in order to put a military base at the border with Venezuela."

"The Mothers celebrate 2,127 Thursdays of political occupation of the square. They dedicate their march to celebrate the triumph of democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and to embrace its revolutionary people, which keep the eternal Hugo Chavez flame alive."

During the symbolic event, Bonafini also referred to the current economic situation in Argentina, a country whose citizens are increasingly mobilized against public service rates hikes and other neoliberal policies promoted by President Mauricio Macri.

"I greet that all the people are mobilizing but we have to make a reflection... [rate increases] always affect the working classes, the most impoverished, those who suffer the most," she said.

Hebe lamented that some Latin American countries support the U.S. interventionist agenda against Venezuela while calling on the region to stay together and avoid conflict.

"The world needs Latin America to join. There is no formula but to move forward and advance in integration," Bonafini stressed.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala: Court Removes CICIG From Case Against Morales's Son]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 23:48:32 -04:00 A court in Guatemala ruled Thursday to remove the U.N.-backed Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG ) from the plaintiffs side in a fraud case against a brother and a son of President Jimmy Morales, who ordered the commission’s early expulsion from the country.


Agentina Removes CICIG Security Personnel from Guatemala

Judges Edna Maxia, Jaime Gonzalez and Juan Aceituno declared that CICIG’s legal representative, Amanda Trejo, must abandon the case as she was not present in court without giving an excuse.

The case involves Sammy Morales and Jose Manuel Morales, brother and son of Guatemala’s president, and 23 other people.

Every defense representative was able to speak after the decision was taken, and they supported it.

“They’re using a provisional appeal as an argument,” said Oscar Poroj, the brother’s representative, “but I can tell you the CICIG doesn’t exist anymore.”

The CICIG declared it presented a valid leave of absence request to the Crime Management Unit on Wednesday at 17:45 citing the president’s decision to expel the international institution on Jan. 7, a decision later overruled by the Constitutionality Court. In the notification, the lawyer asks the judges to not consider her absence as abandonment.

But the notification was brought to the court by a messenger at 9:25 a.m., in the middle of the session, 25 minutes too late.

Judge Maixa said that the case couldn’t be postponed forever and dismissed the notification for being “out of time.” The past hearing should’ve taken place on Jan. 9, but Maixa was on leave because of her mother’s health. Trejo had also presented a leave of absence at the time, as President Morales declared the end of CICIG’s mandate just two days before that.

CICIG’s members have been absent from several cases in which they collaborate with the Public Ministry after Morales’s decision.

Matias Ponce, CICIG’s spokesperson, declared that the leave of absence was presented on time.

“We presented an excuse on behalf of CICIG for the Property Registration Case. As we said, in the context of the contingency plan, the CICIG has adopted measures to continue supporting the work of the Public Ministry,” said Ponce.


Guatemalans Demonstrate For and Against Banned Anti-Graft Body

The case is centered on three irregular food contracts for US$36,000 that go back to 2013, when Morales was still not the president but a comedian.

Morales’s relatives were arrested in 2017, but both they were allowed probation while the case was solved.

Sammy Morales is well known to Guatemalans for having co-produced ‘Moralejas,’ with his brother, a comedy show often described as racist, sexist and classist.

Regarding the tribunal's decision, Sammy Morales said he couldn’t give his opinion.

“I just want to remind you that I have been present in this process since the first day. I’m respectful of justice,” he said.

The president accused the U.N. anti-graft institution of overstretching its faculties, committing crimes during investigations and having political interests that affect Guatemala’s sovereignty. Detractors of Morales argue that his efforts to expel it as soon as possible are likely related to their investigations of members of his family and himself over illegal financing allegations.

CICIG was established over a decade ago with the authority to conduct independent investigations and work with the country’s prosecutors. It has often clashed with Morales, whose National Convergence Front is close to military officers responsible for many human rights' violations during the country’s civil war.

]]> <![CDATA[Researchers Grow World's First 'Perfect Human' Blood Vessels]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 23:27:49 -04:00 A breakthrough in bioengineering, human blood vessels can now be grown in a lab, a scientific report revealed Wednesday, potentially opening up new avenues for treatment of common vascular diseases.


Study: Human Waste Cause High Levels of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Environment

“Being able to build human blood vessels as organoids from stem cells is a game changer,” said senior researcher and co-author, Josef Penninger.

Using the ever-adaptable stem cells, researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of British Columbia created three-dimensional organoids to mimic human blood vessels, a study published in the journal Nature said.

Author and research fellow, Reiner Wimmer, said, “Our organoids resemble human capillaries to a great extent, even on a molecular level, and we can now use them to study blood vessel diseases directly on human tissue.”

Penninger who directs the university’s Life Sciences Institute and the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA), said, “Every single organ in our body is linked with the circulatory system. This could potentially allow researchers to unravel the causes and treatments for a variety of vascular diseases, from Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, wound healing problems, stroke, cancer and, of course, diabetes.”

During their studies, scientists also discovered a potential means to treat basement membrane in diabetes patients.

Most diabetics develop a syndrome which causes their blood vessels to thicken abnormally, also known as “basement membrane.” This slows the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and cells and consequently cause a number of health issues such as strokes, heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure, and peripheral artery disease.

While testing on rodents, scientists introduced blood vessel organoids to a “diabetic environment” to gauge its effectiveness.

“Surprisingly, we could observe a massive expansion of the basement membrane in the vascular organoids. This typical thickening of the basement membrane is strikingly similar to the vascular damage seen in diabetic patients,” said Wimmer.

Current anti-diabetic medications had little to no effect on the membrane. However, the team of researchers discovered that an enzyme inhibitor of y-secretase did prevent thickening in the cell wall. Their findings could assist in identifying the underlying causes of vascular disease.

]]> <![CDATA[Spain: Podemos May Not Run in Madrid Elections]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 23:16:10 -04:00 The Secretary-General of the Spanish left-wing party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, accepted on Thursday for the first time, that Podemos might not run for the Madrid Municipality if the Mayor of the city Manuela Carmena decides to select all the members of the list.

Spain: Sanchez Compares Far-Right Opposition To Bolsonaro

The crisis comes after the candidate for the Madrid Comunity and co-founder of Podemos, Iñigo Errejon, decided to run with the platform of Carmena, More Madrid, at a local level.

"If the demands by Manuela to decide her list from first to the last name are a condition to stop the possibility for the corrupt and reactionary to return to govern Madrid, we are willing to stand aside and not present ourselves to the municipal elections in Madrid," wrote Iglesias on his letter to the militants of Podemos.

 On the other side of the argument, Íñigo Errejón does not consider "at all" that his decision to participate in the regional elections for Madrid with More Madrid, places him "outside of Podemos", and right now he continues to see himself as a candidate of Podemos for the presidency of the Community of Madrid.

According to Pablo Iglesias, there is something "much more important than Manuela or us: that the people of Madrid get a more decent government than the previous ones." Which is why Podemos might accept not running in these elections, but says that "Maybe those who supported and accompanied her then (Podemos) deserve another consideration."

"I am the candidate of Podemos," Errejón said in an interview with Cadena SER a few hours after the party leader, Pablo Iglesias, criticized the "maneuver" by Errejón in a message broadcast to the participants of the political party to warn that Podemos will compete and "will win" in the elections in Madrid.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico Grants Humanitarian Visas for Migrant Exodus]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 22:32:14 -04:00 The Mexican government led by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has implemented a change in the migratory policy and offered a special permit to members of the Migrants Caravan that try to enter Mexico (from Guatemala), so they can stay in Mexico documented for a year.

Thousands of Hondurans, Salvadorans En Route to United States

According to David Leon Romero, National Coordinator of the Gobernation Secretary (Segob), 601 bracelets were put on members of the Migrants Caravan, who entered Mexico through the Rio Suchiate migratory station. For Romero what the Mexican government is interested in is "in the human side."

The bracelet will permit the identification of the migrants that are applying for the Migratory Form of Visitors due to Humanitarian Reasons, which last one year and will allow migrants to transit freely in Mexico, access to the Unique Code of Population Registration (CURP) for foreigners that will guarantee the access to public services such as education, health and employment.

"It is possible that we are facing the biggest change in the Central American migration model in a very long time. Humanitarian visas that are delivered in 5 days. Permission to move and work one year."

The Segob official said that in 2018 migrants were forced to enter Mexico in an undocumented manner, and were received by security forces officers. On Thursday, "We received here in Chiapas, in Suchiate, 601 migrants, who received this first humanitarian, health care and went to their immigration register," he explained.

According to journalist Alberto Padilla, this might represent "the biggest change in the Central American migration model in a very long time," as it will allow members of the migrants caravan to access humanitarian services in Mexico, instead of being expelled from the country.

The people who wish to access the visa for Humanitarian Reasons have to apply and enter documented into Mexico through a Migration office. The National Migration Institute (INM) will make the process go faster, it will only last 5 days instead of the 40 days that it usually takes.

"Those who so choose it, may access the request for refugee status or, qualify for a voluntary and assisted return. They can also look for immediate insertion with employment options in the region," David Leon Romero said.

He said that the migrants' first contact with Mexican authorities is with employees of the migratory system, "who tell the migrants their rights, greet them, give them information about the process they are going to live, together with staff from the Ministry of Health." As opposed to the former "border militarization" that was the usual practice in the country.

Journalist Jacobo Garcia stated on his Twitter account that this is "A historic change! Mexican authorities allow all members of the caravan to enter the country with a bracelet that enables free transit."

]]> <![CDATA[Agentina Removes CICIG Security Personnel from Guatemala]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 21:30:50 -04:00 Argentine security personnel associated with the Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG ) are returning home, CICIG spokesman Matias Ponce confirmed Wednesday.


Honduran Migrants Break Police Barrier, Enter Guatemala

The United Nations, which oversees the anti-corruption initiative against President Jimmy Morales, was notified of the departure due to a change in immigration status and safety concerns.

"The Guatemalan government did not agree to renew the privileges and immunities to the Argentine security contingent that provides functions in the CICIG, and as a consequence, it has announced the change of migratory status they had upon arrival in Guatemala to perform functions in Cicig,” said Ponce.

"After receiving the communication from Argentina, the troops were removed in response to the concerns raised," Ponce said.

Neither the United Nations or the CICIG have commented on the Argentine soldiers' departure.

CICIG’s mandate was slated to end in September, after Morales decided to revoke work visas and expel the organization due to a personal and political dispute. Recent developments and controversies, however, brought forward the deadline.

Several Guatemalan organizations staged a “March for Justice and Democracy” to counter the government’s decision to end the CICIG mandate prematurely.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel announced that the government had reached an agreement with the CICIG after meeting UN Secretary Antonio Gutierrez, who protested the decision, and gave its members 24 hours to leave the country and terminate their anti-corruption mandate.

The CICIG was established over a decade ago to conduct independent investigations and work with the country’s prosecutors. It has often clashed with Morales, whose National Convergence Front is close to military officers responsible for many human rights' violations during the civil war.

The CICIG brought down Morales’ predecessor, Otto Perez, with a corruption probe and sought to prosecute Morales over illegal financing allegations.

]]> <![CDATA[Honduras: People Migrate Due To an 'Illegitimate Government']]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 22:01:04 -04:00 According to Luis Zelaya, the number of Hondurans leaving the country can be explained by the poor living conditions in the country, a consequence of the "illegitimate government of Juan Hernandez."

Thousands of Hondurans, Salvadorans En Route to United States

The president of the Honduran Liberal Party, the country's main opposition party, Luis Zelaya stated to Aristegui Noticias that the elections of 2017 left an illegitimate government, led by Juan Orlando Hernandez, that is linked to drug trafficking, which has led to "Between 300 and 400 Hondurans leave the country daily."

"While the country is "dry grass" and these conditions are maintained, anyone will light a spark to create this phenomenon of exoduses because the country's situation is complicated," said the president of an opposition party in Honduras, Luis Zelaya.

New migrant caravans leave Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala regularly, with thousands of Central American people in at least 3 caravans during October alone. For Zelaya, the cause of these migratory phenomena is the desperation of people due to lack of opportunities, the insecurity, a health system that has collapsed and the illegitimacy of the government. "The conditions are not only maintained they have gotten worse."

"We have a government that is linked to drug trafficking," he said while remembering that the brother of Juan Orlando Hernandez, was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Miami for drugs and arms trafficking for the last 14 years, according to Zelaya.

"This is a weak government, wobbly but with the support of a business sector, which generates hopelessness for the future of people who seek other opportunities," he said. Adding that people look for opportunities wherever because "here (in Honduras) they don't have them."

The Honduran Liberal Party, which is part of the main opposition in the country, will demand the ousting of President Hernandez before he passes his first year in power.  "He is the main person to break the Honduran family and, with him in power, there will hardly be stability and peace; the conditions of the country are going to deteriorate, affecting these caravans and these mass exoduses ", Zelaya explained.

Adding that the party is "going to take actions through citizen convergence against the dictatorship before the first year of this illegitimate government of Juan Hernandez and we are going towards with those actions depends on Juan Hernández leaving power."

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico: 40,180 Missing People According to Official Data]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 21:04:02 -04:00 According to the National Registry of Disappeared and Missing People, there are 40,180 missing persons in Mexico, and the count is still ongoing.


UN Report: Enforced Disappearances Widespread in Mexico

The institution’s director, Roberto Cabrera Alfaro, said that the registry is still under construction and counts with the “digital identity” of most disappeared people, including full name, birthdate, photography and fingerprints.

“Thanks to the Human Identification Work Group, the National Search Commission was able to identify more than 400 people registered as unknown, some waiting more than 10 years to be identified. Out of those 400 cases, 20 have a disappearance report,” said Cabrera on Thursday.

Cabrera presented his last report as head of the organization, as he resigned on Jan. 15.

He also pointed out that there are about 1,500 cases in which federal authorities have not been able to give an answer about the bodies.

“This could mean, in the worst of the cases, that the location is unknown,” said Cabrera.

Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete unveiled the “National People Search System” in October 2018 and announced there were 37,485 disappeared people in the country, but he also mentioned that the data might be higher than official numbers.

The new system was created under the General Disappearance Law, which was passed in November 2017, designed in cooperation between three levels of government to aid in the search and identification of victims. This system will be implemented in hospitals, shelters and other locations where missing people might turn up.

The number of disappeared people rose sharply following the launch of the country's "war on drugs" in 2007 by then President Felipe Calderon. The majority of missing people in Mexico are men between the age of 15 and 44, while the north, west, and center of the country record the highest number of missing people.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: Students Cancel ESMAD Protests After Car Bomb]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 20:34:19 -04:00 Colombian students from different organizations decided to cancel the planned marches for Thursday in respect of the victims of the bomb attack against the Anti-Riot Mobile Squad (Esmad) in Bogota, which left at least nine dead and 54 injured.


Car Bomb Explodes in Colombia Police Barracks, 10 Dead

The students were demanding the dissolution of the ESMAD because of its violent reactions to the months-long protests to increase public universities’ budgets. On Dec. 13, a university student from Popayan lost an eye.

The National Union of Higher Education Students (UNEES) cancelled the nationwide protests against ESMAD after hours discussing the situation in assembly and rejected any form of violence.

“The March in Bogota for the dissolution of ESMAD has been cancelled due to the risks related to today’s attacks. However, several members of our movement will participate donating blood for the injured,” says a public statement by UNEES.

The student organization postponed the march for Jan. 24 and reaffirmed the “necessity to remain in the struggle and continue with the assembly processes and socialization of the agreements.”

Out of the 26 universities on strike since Oct. 11, 2018, 13 are already back in classrooms because of the socialized agreements reached between the assemblies and Colombia’s government.

Students from the Atlantic University also postponed the march.

“This provoked a problem for public order and all Colombians. The faculties will dicuss a new date to have a march. We understand the situation the country is going through,” said Eloy Soto, student leader from the Atlantic University.

Another sit-in protest planned to demand the resignation of the Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez, accusing him of being involved in a corruption case with Odebrecht, was also cancelled.

“All our solidarity with the National Police, with the victims and their families… we think it’s important to safeguard the people that go out to protest. The best thing would be for the citizens to remain at home,” say the organizing people in a video shared through social media.

The protest against Martinez was a continuation of another sit-in from Jan. 11, summoned by social media, and the organizers said they will announce a new date. Meanwhile, they asked the population to place a candle in front of their houses to show solidarity.

A car bomb exploded at the General Santander Police Academy in the south of the capital on Thursday morning.

The governments of Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and others in Latin America have expressed their solidarity with Colombia and the victims.

]]> <![CDATA[War, Climate Change Hijack Social Media's #10YearChallenge]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 20:06:13 -04:00 Activists have harnessed the viral “10-Year Challenge” that has sent social media users scrounging through old photo albums, to bring awareness to war and climate change.


Sixty Percent of World's Coffee at Risk of Extinction: Study

The hashtag has brought thousands of photos of Arabia’s ravaged country land and melting glaciers to the forefront of the movement.

Since 2011, the Middle East has been the battling ground of foreign militia and various Arab governments. Warfare has levelled cities and displaced thousands, sending refugees to every corner of the world to escape the violence.

A powerful Twitter post circulated by the Communist Party of the Latin American and Caribbean Diaspora, showed before and after pictures taken in Libya in 2011, curtained with the phrase, “Before/After Imperialist Invasion.”

“Within the last 10 years in #Libya, slavery, extreme poverty and femicide have plagued the nation. This, after the US & Europe overthrew leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 as part of a direct imperialist invasion,” the organization wrote.

A photo shared by Munibar Mazari, Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Women Pakistan, pictured the incredible damage done to Syria after eight years of war and an estimated 500,000 casualties.

Scientists contributed to the “10-Year Challenge” with data, illustrating climate change and surging global temperatures with melting glaciers and decaying sea creatures.

A Twitter post from the SDG Academy read, “The real #10yearchallenge? Climate change. According to @IPCC_CH #SR15, we have just over 10 years to #ActOnClimate before we cause irreparable damage to our planet.”

Scientist Kristen Weiss tweeted, “A #10YearChallenge actually worth caring about (no disrespect to y'all who somehow look better now than 10 years ago): the world's glaciers are melting at alarming rates. We're losing freshwater fast, along with permafrost and precious habitats.”

Film maker Zara Balfour wrote, “I think what the 10 Year Challenge does is offer us a great opportunity to pause for a moment and look at how we're affecting the natural world, then modify our behaviour, especially our consumption, accordingly. #10yearchallenge #environment #savetheplanet.”

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico: AMLO 'Not Satisfied' With National Guard Outcome]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 20:52:50 -04:00 Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he’s “not satisfied” about the resolution on the National Guard approved by the House of Representatives and asked the Senate to include again an article that gives the military public security faculties.


Mexico's AMLO Aims For More Security to Address Drug Violence

The president said that by eliminating that transitory article the National Guard would be the Federal Police with another name.

“It will remain the same as if it was the new version of the Federal Police that we know didn’t work. It’s not the fault of its members. Since it was founded during Zedillo’s government, it wasn’t given strength,” said Lopez Obrador during a morning press conference Thursday.

“That’s why, even if it’s approved I’m making clear that I’m not satisfied because they removed a transitory article, among other things. But we must debate solving this all together,” the president continued.

The removed article would have reformed the constitution to enable the Army and the Navy to carry out public security duties for five years while the National Guard “develops its structure, capacity and national presence.”

It was Pablo Gomez Alvarez, deputy coordinator of Lopez Obrador’s party the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), who asked to remove the article during the negotiations.

Other important details that Lopez Obrador wants to amend through the Senate is giving those Armed Forces the responsibility to train the guard.

The lower house approved the resolution and its constitutional reforms on Thursday with the support of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a key vote to surpass the needed two-thirds majority to pass the constitutional reform. The National Action Party (PAN), which started the “war on drugs” with President Felipe Calderon in 2006 and took the military out to the streets, voted against.

When asked about the PRI voting in favor of the bill, Lopez Obrador said that he would like “an alliance with all, especially when dealing with public security,” but that he believes that having an opposition “is a fundamental element for democracy.”

A soldier looks on as tanker trucks wait to load fuel at the storage and distribution terminal El Castillo, in El Salto, on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Mexico January 10, 2019. Photo | Reuters

The Senate’s political coordinator Ricardo Monreal, from Morena, said the proposal approved by the lower house will likely be modified to address Lopez Obrador’s petitions.

“I’m almost certain it will happen this way, but I have to discuss it with the parliamentary groups… we have to review everything, including training of this new group called National Guard,” said Monreal.

According to Monrael, the Senate will wait until the next ordinary period in February to address the issue.

After Wednesday’s session, some representatives told the press that not even Morena’s lawmakers agreed with the removed article.

Many social organizations and rights defenders groups present during the session protested the approval of the resolution, arguing the National Guard would only continue with the confrontational strategy adopted by previous governments and perpetuated the militarization of the country.

Some of the critics argue that having a civilian force with a military leadership would only perpetuate the militarization of the country. Answering to these demands, Lopez Obrador asked for the guard to have a civilian leadership for its administration while keeping another military one for operations and security.


AMLO: Previous Governments 'Completely Destroyed Mexico'

PAN’s coordinator at the Senate, Mauricio Kuri, didn’t agree with the guard having two leaderships.

“We consider that the strategy is wrongly set out. We don’t think that a National Guard with a mixed leadership is best for the country. Even when there are two bosses in a private company there’s a power struggle and, therefore, it doesn’t have the efficiency needed. It’s only a change of shirt and the worst thing is that we’re militarizing the country.”

Miguel Angel Mancera, PRD’s coordinator and former mayor of Mexico City, expressed similar views on the National Guard’s leadership in the name of his party.

The National Guard will be a 60,000 strong security force to address the increasing insecurity and violence in the country. According to Lopez Obrador, the Armed Forces have so far focused on fighting organized crime, while the guard would have the objective to protect society.

The Security and Citizens’ Protection Secretary Alfonso Durazo said that the only institutions that were able to answer to insecurity were the Army and the Navy, while the National Guard wouldn’t be fully functional until 2021. It will be deployed in 150 high-risk regions in the country at first, slowly expanding its presence to 266 areas.

Its members won’t be able to take arrested people to military institutions and will be judged be civilian courts in case of committing a crime. The executive and legislative branches will evaluate the security police three years after its implementation to decide if it continues.

The bill compared the National Guard with the Spanish Civil Guard, the French National Gendarmerie, and other militarized police forces around the world.

Mexico’s National Guard is a historical group, which existed in the past and fought against the U.S. invasion in 1846 and 1848 and the second French intervention between 1862 and 1867.

The 1917 Constitution, still valid, mentions it eight times but doesn’t define it, which is what the lawmakers are trying to modify.

]]> <![CDATA[US Helms Burton Act is a Violation of International Law: Cuba]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 19:25:20 -04:00 Cuba rejects U.S. President Trump’s decision to activate Title III of the Helms-Burton Law for 45 days as the newest threat to Cuba’s economic, commercial, financial stability.


Cuba, Iran Sign Multiple MOUs to Strengthen Relations

“We strongly reject this new interventionist provocation, threatening, arrogant, violating international law. The US government shows its contempt for the rest of the world...Political blackmail and irresponsible hostility just to harden a blockade against #Cuba.” said Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on his personal Twitter account.

The Helms-Burton Law was introduced in 1996 under the Bill Clinton Administration and essentially enabled Cuban-Americans to sue companies profiting from properties confiscated by federal officials during the post-revolution era. Hundreds of lawsuits could potentially be filed against international companies stationed in the Caribbean country.

For that reason, since being approved, Title III- the most dangerous clause- has revolved around an endless six-month-suspension due to the potential damage it could cause for Cuban-U.S. immigration and international affairs with U.S. allies.

“All US Presidents since 1996, including the current, have suspended Title III due to flagrant extraterritoriality & harm it would cause to US corporate interests. It would arbitrarily put third country companies under US Courts,” Rodriguez tweeted, denouncing the motion as a violation of international law.

“The Helms-Burton Act is illegal, inapplicable and is void of any value or legal effect. Consequently, any claim filed under this law by a natural or juridical person, regardless of their citizenship or nationality, will be rendered null,” the minister said.

The strategic move is expected to merit at least a few lawsuits which will ultimately discourage foreign investment in Cuba, activists promoting the betterment of U.S.-Cuba relations say.

Over the last year, Cuba has suffered a loss of at least US$4 billion due to the 1960’s blockade which attacks the economic, commercial, and financial well being of the island and which has been denounced by multiple international groups as an act of war and a violation of human rights.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia: Historic Economic Levels Led by President Evo Morales]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 18:27:20 -04:00 Under the administration of President Evo Morales, Bolivia has become a benchmark in the region due to its economic growth and a decrease in external debt, based on a sustainable development economic and political model.

Bolivia: Neoliberals to Blame for US$22B in Economic Damage

The minister of economy in Bolivia, Mario Guillen, stated on Wednesday that in 2018 Bolivia managed to decrease its external debt rates under the limits established by the international organizations, that is, below 50 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"I think that these 13 years Bolivia has been an example in the region, we are an economy that grew steadily, in a sustained manner," Guillen said. According to Minister Guillen, Bolivia has been able to maintain economic growth because of the country's diversification, which avoided that the low prices of commodities affected its expansion in recent years.

The official stressed that these achievements are a consequence of the measures implemented in the country with the Social, Community and Productive Economic Model led by President Evo Morales, and Vice-President Alvaro Garcia-Linera.

Adding that thanks to this consolidation, Bolivia can be considered as an example among the countries of South America, due to the "constant and sustained growth" registered by the nation in the last 13 years. The Central Bank of Bolivia (BCB) has indicated that between 2005 and 2018, Bolivia's public external debt fell from 52 percent to 24.8 percent in reference to the national GDP.

"The economic growth is patrimony of the #ProcessOfChange. Since the founding of #Bolivia, we have never been like this. We open new markets and the accredited ambassadors inform us that entrepreneurs from their countries want to invest. All thanks to our stability and legal security."

"We are an international benchmark thanks to our struggles and economic growth," describe President Evo Morales on a tweet, after a meeting with the diplomatic corps of the South American country in the Casa Grande Del Pueblo (Big House of The People), the headquarters of the Bolivian government.

The Bolivian minister recalled that previous administrations asked international organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund (IM) or the World Bank (WB), for loans for economic resources just to cover the expenses of the State, which took the debt to around five billion dollars.

Pointing out that now the acquired foreign debt is invested to guarantee and boost the "industrialization of the country, the promotion of productive activity, the construction of roads, among other," tasks that the Bolivian government of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) takes on.

According to the minister, the main holders of Bolivias credits are China, with 791.4 million dollars; France, with 144.5 million; and Germany, with 59.8 million dollars.

]]> <![CDATA[Thousands of Hondurans, Salvadorans En Route to United States]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 15:53:42 -04:00 At least 150 Salvadoran migrants departed in a group for the United States Wednesday, the latest in a string of such 'caravans that U.S. President Donald Trump has used to build his case for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.


Trump Gov't Separated 'Thousands' More Immigrant Children Than Originally Reported: Watchdog

The group, organized through social media, is following in the wake of a larger caravan that departed from Honduras this week.

On Wednesday morning, between 900 and 1,000 Hondurans gathered at the country's border with Guatemala, waiting to cross en route to the United States, local police chief Jorge Rodriguez told Reuters.

Several hundred Honduran migrants already entered Guatemala Tuesday, according to activists traveling with them.

Caravans from Central America have inflamed the debate over U.S. immigration policy, with Trump pointing at the migrants to try to win backing for his border security plan.

The U.S. government has been partially shut down for over three weeks as Democrats resist Trump's demand that Congress provide $5.7 billion to fund a border wall.

In El Salvador, Jose Sorto, 30, said violence drove him to leave his home. Three years ago, he said, he was attacked by the Barrio 18 gang.

"I joined the caravan because here you can't live in peace. I have to run away and hide every day," said Sorto, who is unemployed and lives in the town of Ilobasco, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of the capital.

In the United States, he said, he hopes to "live quietly and work to buy a house for my mom."

Walking through the streets carrying backpacks and water bottles, the migrants were escorted by immigration authorities and the police.

El Salvador is grappling with a wave of crime and violence. In 2018, the country's murder rate stood at 50.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest levels in the world, according to the United Nations.

The Salvadoran government estimates that some 2,700 people have left the country through half a dozen caravans over the past year. About 600 have returned voluntarily, and three have died, according to government figures.

]]> <![CDATA[US Separated 'Thousands' More Immigrant Children: Watchdog]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 13:10:40 -04:00 The U.S. government may have separated "thousands" more immigrant children from their parents than previously known but inadequate record-keeping means the exact number is still unclear, an internal watchdog said on Wednesday.

US Authorities Blame Parents For Migrant Kids’ Deaths

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the agency had identified many more children in addition to the 2,737 that were included as part of a class action lawsuit challenging the separations brought by the American Civil Liberties Union last year.

The administration of President Donald Trump implemented a 'zero tolerance' policy to criminally prosecute and jail all illegal border crossers even those traveling with their children, leading to a wave of separations last year.

But the auditor said in a report that prior to the officially announced policy the government had ramped up separations for other reasons related to a child's safety and well-being, including separating parents with criminal records or lack of proper documents. Those separations were only tracked informally, making it impossible for the auditor to know the exact number.

The policy sparked outrage when it became public, and the backlash led Trump to sign an executive order reversing course on June 20.

But separations have continued since then, the report said. HHS, which runs the Office of Refugee Resettlement that is responsible for the children's care, told the auditor that at least 118 had been separated between July 1 and Nov. 7, 2018.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that 65 of those 118 children were separated because the parents had a criminal history but in some cases, the agency did not provide the details of that history.

The auditor raised concerns that the government is still not adequately counting separation cases.

"It is not yet clear whether recent changes to ORR's systems and processes are sufficient to ensure consistent and accurate data about separated children," the report said.

The news comes at a time when a new migrant caravan has left Central America including many families with children as they flee violence and drug wars in their countries, which has been made worse by decades of U.S. policies and interference in the region, seeking a better life and safety in Mexico and the United States. 

The Migrant Exodus as its members calls it is the second wave of migration north this year. 

]]> <![CDATA[CNN Brazil Will Have an Evangelical Pastor as CEO ]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 13:48:43 -04:00 Edir Macedo, an evangelist pastor will be the CEO of CNN Brazil. The United States media giant Cable News Network (CNN) will open for the first time in the Latin American country during the first year of the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration.


Brazil: Police Attack Protesters Against Bolsonaro Policies

Edir Macedo is the founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus). He is the main evangelist leader of the country and an open supporter of Bolsonaro and his policies.

CNN’s editorial line will also adhere to Bolsonaro’s government. Around 800 people will be hired including 400 journalists.

There will be branches in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasília, and the editorial line will be defined by the Brazilian bosses and not by the American group Turner.

The opening of CNN Brasil is giving rise to the speculations that it will try to compete with the regional media chain Globo which has GloboNewsChannel. Globo is known for being critical towards the far-right president. Hence, many believe that CNN Brasil will be equivalent to Fox News in the U.S. which supports the U.S. President Donald Trump administration.

"Brazil is an important country to follow the expansion of the CNN brand. This announcement is part of a global strategy to work with like-minded partners and see a clear opportunity for local CNN branded products and news," CNN Vice President of Sales Greg Beitchman told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

]]> <![CDATA[UK Labour Party Could Back Second Brexit Referendum: Corbyn]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 10:54:37 -04:00 Britain’s main opposition Labour party could back a second Brexit referendum if its proposals for leaving the EU are shunned by the government and a no-deal scenario looks likely, leader Jeremy Corbyn said Thursday.


UK PM May Survives No-Confidence Vote

“If the government remains intransigent, if support for Labour’s alternative is blocked for party advantage and the country is facing the potential disaster of no deal, our duty will then be to look at other options ... including that of a public vote,” Corbyn said in a speech in the southern English coastal town of Hastings.

Corbyn confirmed that he would only hold talks with Prime Minister Theresa May about Brexit if she ruled out a no-deal exit.

“She seems to be prepared to send the country hurtling towards a cliff edge,” Corbyn said. “To get a deal that can command a majority in parliament, Theresa May has to ditch the red lines and get serious about proposals for the future.”

He added, “The government confirmed that she would not take no-deal off the table. So I say to the prime minister again: I am quite happy to talk, but the starting point for any talks about Brexit must be that the threat of a disastrous no-deal outcome is ruled out, taken off the table.”

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: Campesino Boy Killed, Locals Point to Paramilitary]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 09:54:03 -04:00 Gruesome images coming out of Colombia show a child in the rural area of San Jose de Apartado in the north of Colombia in the department of Antioquia lying dead, another in a long string of murders that continues to shake Colombia’s rural areas increasingly victimized by violent paramilitary groups.


Duque: Colombia Will Create Prosur To Replace Unasur

The child, Deimer Usuga, was found dead in the afternoon of Jan. 16, lying by a sidewalk in front of a military base in the community of San Jose de Aparatado. A picture was snapped and uploaded to Twitter by Comunidad de Paz, an organization that was formed to help stop the violence in taking place against Campesinos in the community.

Another victim of the systematic violence in Colombia: Deimer Usuga, a young Campesino killed in San Jose de Partado. We condemn and hold the state responsible for this new crime that necessitates the Contra-paramilitary Force. 

Despite the so-called Peace Agreement in Colombia that supposedly ended years of violent conflict between paramilitary groups, violence has been ramping up.

This comes as a recent report has shown more and more murders of social leaders, especially those belonging to Communal Action Boards (JAC).

Colombian Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez had said that the greatest number of Colombians murdered over the past two years since the peace agreement was signed are social leaders who serve on Communal Action Boards (JAC).

According to Martinez, the assassinations of JAC leaders and their families  is "passively systematic." The attorney general says that those responsible are paramilitary groups “such as the 'Gulf Clan' that works on behalf of narco traffickers and 'Los Caparrapos' " he added.

Nearly all of the killings took place in rural areas in departments along the coast, such as Cauca, Valle del Cauca and Nariño that are rich in mineral deposits for mining and have fertile soil that criminal rings seek for growing cocaine, which Campesino and Indigenous people use for growing vegetable and corn crops.

These were also the departments that voted against right-wing President Ivan Duque and for left-leaning Gustavo Petro in the country’s electoral run-off last June.

]]> <![CDATA[ICE Detains Decorated US-Born Marine Veteran For Deportation]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 06:44:41 -04:00 A decorated United States-born Marine veteran tank crewman Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was mistakenly held for three days in an immigration detention facility, possibly marked for deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), before federal authorities learned his nationality.

ICE Agents Leave 100s of Refugees in El Paso With Nowhere To Go

“Why did they think he was a non-citizen? Did they get him confused with someone else? Who knows,” American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Miriam Aukerman said. “This is an individual who’s incredibly vulnerable with a mental illness.”

The 27-year-old was only discharged from the Calhoun County detention center after family members and attorney Richard Kessler advocated for his release, promptly presenting personal records on his behalf, according to ACLU of Michigan.

“I was shocked,” Kessler said in an interview. “Everybody knows that Jilmar is a U.S. citizen and a Marines vet. I think it’s racial stereotyping. And it should have been evident that he had pretty significant mental- health issues” the attorney pointed out, explaining that Ramos-Gomez suffers from severe effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kessler had been familiar with the veteran, after securing temporary residency for the ex-Marine’s mother - who is originally from Guatemala - under Citizenship and Immigration Services' “parole in place” stipulations for parents of service members. As a result, Kessler had proof of Ramos-Gomez citizenship, birth certificate and Social Security information available.

“I immediately called ICE and shouted at them,” the lawyer stated. “And they called me back and said, kind of, ‘Oops, yeah, come and get him.’ They didn’t say, ‘Our bad,’ but kind of implied that.”

Prior to ICE detention, the Afghanistan ex-veteran was being held at the Kent County jail for trespassing and damaging a fire alarm at a Grand Rapids hospital. Ramos-Gomez, according to ACLU, had pled guilty to the charges and was awaiting sentencing before ICE officials contacted the jail and subsequently removed him from the facility and detained him.

“Once he was released from our custody, he was under the domain of ICE. Where they take him is their process,” Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt said, adding that “our procedures were followed.”

Former Lance Corporal Ramos-Gomez, following the ICE ordeal, is currently under mental-health care and the ACLU has urged the Kent County sheriff and county officials uncover how Ramos-Gomez came to be released from the county’s custody by ICE agents. Khaalid Walls, and ICE spokesman in Detroit, said he was unable to respond to media inquiries due to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

Ramos-Gomez served between 2011 and 2014, earning a National Defense Service Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and a combat action ribbon, according to the ACLU.

“His family reports that he is focused on returning for his marine brothers in Afghanistan,” the ACLU said in a statement. “He has episodes where he disappears and when he is found again, he often has no recollection of where he has been.”

Aukerman added that the treatment of Ramos-Gomez has been “appalling.”

]]> <![CDATA[US: Activist Group Seeks Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 07:47:29 -04:00 A delegation of domestic workers visited the Capitol Wednesday to meet with members of the U.S. Congress to make a case for the institution of a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.

'Workers Should Not Live In Poverty': Bernie Sanders Wants $15 Minimum Wage

Just a few weeks after the formation of the new Congress, the National Alliance of Domestic Workers (NADW) called on legislators to instate federal rights for the benefit of the group, which represents more than two million people; mostly women.

California Senator Kamala Harris and U.S. House of Representatives from Washington Pramila Jayapal promised NADW leaders that, with the new position of Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, the lawmakers will be able to implement a legislative project for labor rights.

"When we talk about the voices of the vulnerable, we do not refer to weak people. These women are people with great strength who now demand the rights and dignity they deserve," Harris stated and commented that "many families' life cannot be understood without the domestic workers' strength and labor."

"Over two million women care for our nation’s homes and families... Nannies, home health care workers, and housekeepers have historically been excluded from basic labor protections. Without these protections, many domestic workers tolerate low or no pay, no health care or retirement security, sexual harassment, and other abusive and exploitative situations," Julie Kashen, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, explained, adding that "this workforce disproportionately composed of women of color and immigrants often faces systemic barriers, including our broken immigration system, that keep them from exercising their rights."

Harris and Jaypal hope to debate the Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights in Congress during the current legislative period.

"Now we have the majority and we are going to move this legislation. It is not a democratic aspiration, it is something positive for everyone," Jaypal said.

Currently, eight states and a city have included legislative protections for NADW, which is now putting pressure on national political representatives to push for the approval of a similar regulation for other parts of the country.

The executive director of the Brazilian Work Center, Natalia Tracy, compared the organization's struggle with labor protection advances that were successfully lobbied during President Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration (1933-1945).

"We have to create a framework of basic rights... [which] many domestic workers still do not have," Tracy said.

NDWA Director Ai-jen Poo is hopeful the legislative initiative will be approved since "the demand for domestic work is growing" and workers demand to work in dignified conditions.

"We are serious about this and we have to make ourselves heard," exclaimed Poo, an activist who accompanied film director Alfonso Cuaron for the Golden Globe's presentation of the film 'Roma', which tells the story of an Indigenous woman who labors as a domestic worker for a middle-class family.

"According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, most domestic workers earned about US$11 an hour and rarely receive benefits like health insurance or pension plans," The Slot reported.

]]> <![CDATA[Cuba, Iran Sign Multiple MOUs to Strengthen Relations]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 07:20:24 -04:00 Cuba and Iran signed multiple memoranda of understanding (MOUs) Wednesday as pledges to collaborate in the areas including trade, sports, agriculture, health and biotechnology.

Venezuela Welcomes 2,500 Cuban Doctors Leaving Brazil

Iran's Deputy Minister of Health, Mohsen Asadi Lari, and Cuba's Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, inked the MOUs at the 17th Session of the Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which was held in Havana, Cuba.

During the bilateral meeting, officials and businessmen from both nations also discussed financial and investment relations.

At the end of the negotiations, Malmierca additionally affirmed that Cuba was interested in increasing bilateral trade relationship with Tehran in medical services and biopharmaceutical industries as well.

An MOU was also signed between Cuba's Finlay Institute of Vaccines and Iran's Pasteur Institute as well as another between the Cuban Center for the Promotion of Foreign Trade and Investment and the Iranian Trade Promotion Organization.

"Iran and Cuba sign new cooperation agreements."

A collaboration between the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation of Cuba and the Iranian counterpart, and a prioritized bilateral scientific exchange for plant health and protection as well as medicines registration between the Center for State Control of the Quality of Drugs in Cuba and the Administration of Drugs and Foods in Iran were also tabled.

"The will of our countries' leaders is materialized in an effective economic and technological collaboration, whose fruits, beneficial to the peoples of the two nations, we will see in the near future," the Iranian Minister said.

Cuba and Iran first established diplomatic relations in 1979 and have maintained strong bilateral cooperation, which includes twelve agreements currently in effect for the exemption of diplomatic and service visas.

In September 2018, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani met with the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, to evaluate proposals for health services-related collaboration.

Over the past year, Diaz-Canel has maintained an intensive international agenda aimed at strengthening relations with several ally countries, which resulted in the signing of MOUs with Laos, North Korea, Spain and China, among others.

]]> <![CDATA[Macedonia Makes Albanian 2nd Language Amid President Opposition]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 04:44:37 -04:00 The newly minted Republic of Macedonia has passed a law to designate Albanian the country’s official second language. The law declares that the Albanian language and alphabet are regarded as official in the Republic of Macedonia. The passing of the law will boost the use of the language at the national level.

Macedonia Passes Name Change, Opposition Charges 'Treason'

The decree was delayed for months due to a clash between the left-led government and conservative President Gjorge Ivanov, who stated that the law - which serves to assuages the often restive ethnic minority - was unconstitutional and unnecessary.

The law was passed twice with majority votes in the Republic’s parliament, first on January 11, 2018 and, again, on March 14, 2018, but Ivanov had refused to sign the orders on both occasions.

The Republic of Macedonia's ethnic Albanians make up only about one-quarter of the country's 2.1 million population.

The law was made public Tuesday after it was signed off by ethnic Albanian Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi - who bypassed the president - and then being published in the government gazette.

“The Law on use of languages is published by the Official Gazette,” the message stated, in both Macedonian and Albanian, on Xhaferi’s Facebook account.

Though elected representatives previously used Albanian in parliament, under the new law the speaker will be allowed to speak and lead sessions in the language.

]]> <![CDATA[Palestine Rejects US Peace Draft on Shared Jerusalem]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 03:22:14 -04:00 On Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) responding to multiple reports of a United States-drafted Peace Plan, said that "any peace plan that does not include an independent Palestinian state — with all of East Jerusalem as its capital — on the 1967 borders, is destined to fail."

Palestinians Launch Bid for Full UN Membership

The U.S. Israel-Palestinian plan will reportedly propose that Jerusalem be divided into territories, designating some annexed Palestine regions solely to Israel and sharing others.

A spokesman for the PA presidency in Ramallah, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, reiterated that any valid resolution can only be determined through the required international procedures involving the principle of two states, Wafa reported.

According to Channel 13 News, U.S. President Donald Trump's so-called "deal of the century" will include a Palestinian state on some 90% of the West Bank but only parts of east Jerusalem. Trump previously indicated that a peace plan would be published in the upcoming months [after the Israeli parliamentary elections scheduled for April, 9], Israeli Reshet 13 said.

Information making the rounds in the media implies that Israel would retain sovereignty over the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the “holy basin” region - including the Old City and its immediate environs - which it should “jointly run” with Palestine, Jordan and possibly other countries. The plan will allegedly give Palestine two times the size of the country’s current territories.

Rudaineh commented that the "rumors and leaks about the deal of the century, as well as ongoing attempts to find regional and international parties that would cooperate with this plan, are failed attempts that will reach a dead end."

The peace plan will require the annexation of the large settlements and the evacuation of settlement outposts deemed illegal under Israeli law, the reported detailed, citing a source involved in the briefing.

The White House has since dismissed the report as inaccurate and speculative. “As in the past, speculations regarding the peace plan are inaccurate. We have no further reaction,” Washington stated in a release.

The Israeli government is yet to respond.

U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and relocated the US embassy to the city.

Trump’s action prompted Palestine to deem any United States-proposed peace process invalid, opting for one based on international law, and the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.
Palestinian-Israeli relations have been tense for decades, with an escalation of tensions during the Great Return March protests.


]]> <![CDATA[DR Congo: UN Raises Ethnic Violence Death Toll to 890]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 05:12:49 -04:00 The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) said Wednesday that violence from ethnic groups have caused hundreds of deaths in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Southern Africa Bloc Urges DR Congo Election Vote Recount

"At least 890 people were killed between Dec. 16 and 18 in four villages in Yumbi territory, Mai-Ndombe province... in what appears to have been clashes between the Banunu and Batende communities," UNCHR said in a statement which indicates that the number of deaths could be higher.

The ethnic clashes began in Kinshasa after the death of a Banunu traditional chief whose body was returned to Yumbi and buried next to his father's grave.

The Batende people protested, arguing that the chief should not have been buried on their lands, starting a dispute on Dec. 15. The following day, an upsurge in violence at dawn resulted in the death of several people including the Yumbi territory administrator, and a dozen children drowned in the Congo River.

UNCHR suggests there were at least 82 injuries, and 465 houses and other buildings burned. The affected population - including an estimated 16,000 people, who sought asylum on the other side of the river - were forced to move.

“It is crucial that this shocking violence be promptly, thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said, adding that “this is essential to ensure justice for the victims of these horrific attacks, but also to prevent new episodes of intercommunal strife, and to address the anger and feelings of gross injustice that may otherwise lead to repeated cycles of violence between communities.”

However, there is a deeper conflict between the two ethnic groups, who tend to experience clashes around election time, as evidenced when the Banunu majority and the Batende minority faced off with each other before the 2006 and 2011 elections.

During the recent elections held on Dec. 2018, the Batende people were in favor of the official Common Front for the Congo (FCC), while their Banunu counterparts supported the Lamuka coalition, led by Martin Fayulu.

In fact, due to the likely consequences of these political alignments, Congo's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) decided on Dec. 26 to postpone elections in Yumbi until March 2019.

]]> <![CDATA[Zimbabwe: 600 Detained After 3-Day National Strike]]> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 03:40:16 -04:00 Riot police were deployed Wednesday in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, to patrol, register, and arrest citizens on the third day of protests against an increase in fuel prices, a measure reportedly implemented by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's Administration to end “rampant illegal” fuel trading.

Zimbabwe: Protests Erupt Against 150% Fuel Price Hike

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called for the three-day national strike, starting on Jan 14. Protesters blocked roads and burned tires two days after President Mnangagwa announced measures to curb an increasingly serious economic crisis.

More than 600 civilians have been detained, charged with public violence and beaten, pointing to a heavy crackdown by the state.

Chronic shortages of U.S. dollars, which was adopted as the country's official currency in 2009, has plunged Zimbabwe's economy into disarray, threatening widespread panic social unrest.

The announcement of a 150% increase in fuel prices was met with opposition in the country where unemployment currently exceeds 80%.

“Years of political and economic mismanagement has brought Zimbabwe’s economy to its knees,” Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, said, adding that “millions of Zimbabweans are terrified about the knock-on effects that fuel increases will have on their daily lives, including for food and healthcare.”

Security forces arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, an opposition activist who became famous for promoting the "This Flag Citizens Movement", an initiative founded in 2016 "to speak out, ask questions and act against corruption, injustice and poverty."

Mawarire's arrest happens in a political context in which, according to the Ministry for National Security, hundreds of people have been detained. Human rights organizations denounce the actions of the security personnel, stating that repression has already left at least six dead.

Public transportation and basic services remained practically closed Wednesday.

A 27-year-old citizen, Phibeon Machona, commented that "the main roads to the city have been blocked... and there is no public transport available."

Internet services were initially disrupted, then partially restored, but without social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter which remain blocked on the order of the government.

Joana Mamombe, an opposition lawmaker, said she was in hiding after soldiers sought her out at her parents’ home Tuesday and beat up her father, leaving him hospitalized. “I am very scared for my life. This is a crackdown on those of us who oppose this government. They want to silence opposition voices,” she said.

In Harare, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd outside a shop as soldiers monitored people queued to buy food. Meanwhile, security forces were served ahead of civilian motorists at the only fuel station doing business.

President Mnangagwa is on a trip abroad, which includes a visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

]]> <![CDATA[Intellectuals, Artists, Back Zapatistas Against AMLO's Projects]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 23:57:37 -04:00 A large group of intellectuals, scholars and activists from around the world signed a letter standing with the National Liberation Zapatista Army (EZLN) and against the current “disinformation, lies and smear campaign” directed at them because of their opposition to megaprojects near their autonomous territory.


New Era for Mexico's Zapatista Army 25 Years After Uprising

The Zapatista struggle is “a great example of resistance, dignity and political creativity,” says the open letter, making the federal government responsible of “any aggression” against them by the government or through armed or not armed “civilian” groups, often used as a proxy armies in territorial conflicts in Chiapas, southern Mexico.

“We share the rejection expression by the EZLN to these and other big projects that seriously affect the autonomous territory and the lifestyles of the people,” reads the letter.

The open letter was signed by the likes of Juan Villoro, Raul Zibechi, Ignacio Ramonet, Marcos Roitman, Claudio Lomnitz, Arundhati Roy, Immanuel Wallerstein, Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, Havin Güneser, Michael Löwy, Toni Negri, Bertha Navarro, Cristina Rivera-Garza, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Walter Mignolo, Marcela Turati, Guillermo Espinosa, and many other writers, artists, journalists and rights defenders and organizations.

The group of people and organizations explain their concern for the “Transisthmus Corridor,” an infrastructure project that will connect the Gulf of Mexico with the Pacific for commercial purposes; a million hectares of fruit and wood trees in Chiapas that would replace native "unproductive" forests; and the so-called “Maya Train,” which was recently called “a humiliation and a provocation” by Subcomandante Moises, one of the Zapatistas’ spokespersons, because of its potential effects on the Mayan peoples.

"Through votes, they’re asking for permission to attack us. They’re consulting so they come and face us with that Maya Train crap, but if they provoke us we will defend ourselves. We won’t allow someone to come here and take this rebel territory,” said Moises in autonomous territory marking the 25 anniversary of the Zapatista uprising.

The Maya Train is a large-scale infrastructure project proposed by Lopez Obrador to connect the whole Yucatan Peninsula for tourism, transportation and economic purposes. It’s been strongly criticized by local organizations and welcomed by many others. To continue with it, Lopez Obrador called for a national consultation by late November, with an outcome of 89.9 percent in favor.


Mexico's Indigenous Congress Rejects Land Reform Bill by Morena

According to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Convention 169, Indigenous peoples should be consulted by governments over any project related to their territory. But Lopez Obrador’s consultation was at a national level, ignoring the established protocol.

“We think it’s very serious that international agreements made by Mexico are being violated like that,” says the letter, asking the people to combat the smear campaign against the Zapatistas and stay alert in case of any aggression against the communities.

The Indigenous National Congress (CNI) and the Indigenous Government Council (CIG), both backed by the EZLN and multiple organizations across the country, made clear their opposition to these and other mining, touristic, agroindustrial and infrastructure projects that threaten indigenous communities and territories.

The Zapatista declarations against the projects earned them a series of critiques from Lopez Obrador’s supporters. Besides racist slurs and calls to confront the Zapatistas militaries, several media outlets reported that the EZLN was an invention of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that ruled Mexico for most of its modern history and against which the indigenous army stood up in arms in the first place.

The Zapatista movement has always been at odds with Lopez Obrador. Since the first time he ran for president in 2006, the EZLN organized an alternative campaign and declared its opposition to the center-left candidate. Now, with its landslide victory in the 2018 elections, the Zapatistas have reiterated their position.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: Police Attack Protesters Against Bolsonaro Policies]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 23:27:21 -04:00 Sao Paulo's police, in Brazil, attacked protesters on Wednesday protesting against an increase in public transit tickets, implemented by the government of far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazil: Massive Protest Against Transport Fare Hikes

Police threw tear gas and rubber bullets at the hundreds of Brazilians, mostly students and members of the Free Ticket Movement (MPL), who marched peacefully towards Plaza de Ciclista (Cyclist Square) in Sao Paulo.

Ignacio Lemus, a teleSUR correspondent, reported that photojournalist Daniel Arroyo was injured in the knee while two others were arrested after the officers attacked the demonstrators. So far there have been one wounded and two people arrested during the repression carried out by officers of the Military Police of Sao Paulo.

"São Paulo | Students announced the course of their march. As in the previous demonstration, the Military Police fought the march: they repressed them when they were sitting. The message is a prohibition of protest, yet the answer is that on Tuesday there will be another."

"The people were just screaming our warcry, nobody was doing anything against the police and they started throwing bombs, out of nowhere, we were sitting on the floor," said a young student present at the protest.

The attacks intensified when representatives of the MPL read a statement rejecting the increase in the cost of public transportation that was effective on January 7, as well as other measures among them the loosening of gun laws in Brazil, promoted by Bolsonaro.

The MPL reaffirmed its readiness to continue the struggle to guarantee the rights of the people while confirming that the peaceful protests will continue despite repression. The next round of protests is scheduled for Tuesday, January 22, the third held so far in 2019 when far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro was sworn-in.

]]> <![CDATA[Los Angeles Teachers' Union Head Aims to Resume Talks 'Soon']]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 23:51:25 -04:00 The head of the Los Angeles teachers’ union voiced optimism on Wednesday about jump-starting stalled labor talks, as a teachers strike in the second-largest U.S. public school system stretched into its third day.

Thousands of Garment Workers Demonstrate in Bangladesh

No negotiations have been scheduled since contract talks with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) collapsed last Friday when union leaders rejected management’s latest offer as an “insult.” More than 30,000 educators represented by United Teachers Los Angeles walked off the job on Monday, demanding higher pay, smaller classes and more support staff.

But union President Alex-Caputo Pearl told a morning news conference he aimed to “get back to the table very soon.”

“We are working with Mayor Eric Garcetti to restart negotiations, and things are developing in a good way,” the union added in a message posted on its website. The mayor’s office confirmed that Garcetti, who has expressed support for the teachers’ cause, was speaking with both parties individually seeking to nudge them back to the bargaining table.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has also been urging a resumption of negotiations. But neither he nor the mayor — both Democrats — exercise any authority over the school district.

LAUSD spokeswoman Shannon Haber declined to comment on prospects for renewed talks. Superintendent Austin Beutner has accused union officials of stonewalling further bargaining attempts, an assertion that Caputo-Pearl denied.

Huddled under an umbrella in a steady downpour, Diana Castillo, a teacher at Harbor City Elementary School, said she disbelieved assertions by Beutner, a former publisher and investment banker, that the district could not afford to meet the union’s demands.

“He makes US$350,000 a year, has a district car and a driver. The money’s there,” she said.

At another rally across town, teacher Elizabeth DiMartino said classroom conditions at her school in the San Fernando Valley had been decrepit for so long that “people think this bare minimum is normal in Los Angeles.”

“The classrooms are falling apart. They look sad. We spend so much of our own money just to make the classrooms look presentable,” DiMartino said, also citing a lack of on-site nurses and specialized instructors for art, music and physical education.

The Los Angeles walkout follows a wave of teachers strikes last year across the United States over pay and school funding, including work stoppages in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona.

Those represented battles between teachers’ unions and Republican-dominated state governments focused on cutting costs, while the Los Angeles strike is unfolding in a Democratic-controlled state.

Denver teachers could vote to strike by Saturday if no deal on a new contract is reached by then.

Beutner said the district had proposed staff increases that would cost US$130 million a year - more than county officials have said is available - while the union’s demands would cost $800 million. Beutner offered on Tuesday to accompany teachers in lobbying state lawmakers to increase education funding.

The union wants a 6.5 percent pay raise. LAUSD teacher pay currently averages US$75,000, according to state figures. The district has offered a 6 percent hike with back pay.

]]> <![CDATA[Greek Prime Minister Tsipras Wins No-Confidence Vote By a Hair]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 23:06:23 -04:00 The required 151 lawmakers showed their support for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a confidence vote Wednesday avoiding the struggle of a snap election.


Greek PM Appeals to Parliament for Confidence, Says 'Listen to Your Conscience'

“With the power of the Greek people, we build a Greece of progress, towards a Greece of conservation. This Greece deserves us,” the Prime Minister wrote on his personal Twitter page.

Tsipras called the confidence motion after his right-wing coalition partner Panos Kammenos quit the government on Jan. 13 in protest over a naming deal signed between Athens and Skopje last year. Per the agreement, the former Yugoslav Macedonia would be renamed the Republic of North Macedonia.

Primarily supported by defectors of Kammenos's Anel party and independents, Tsipras won 151 votes, meeting the threshold he required in the 300-member assembly, and allowing him to complete his term til’ October.

Prior to casting their ballots, the prime minister spoke to the chamber, saying he had called for the motion in order to reestablish a “vote of confidence in stability.”

"I call upon you with hand on heart to give a vote of confidence to the government which gave battle, which bled, but managed to haul the country out of memorandums and surveillance," he said, adding that he still had much to accomplish in the seven remaining months of his term.

Greek opponents of the agreement say Macedonia's new name - the Republic of North Macedonia, reached after decades of dispute between Athens and Skopje, represents an attempt to appropriate Greek identity.

The leader of the conservative opposition party New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, denounced the motion as an attempt to divide the chamber, "This disgrace of borrowing MPs back and forth in order to create temporary majorities ... You have used foreign policy to undermine national unity.

"This isn’t called patriotism. It's called opportunism," Mitsotakis said.

Macedonia is the name of Greece's biggest northern region. The deal was signed between the two countries in mid-2018, contingent on ratification of parliaments in both countries and a necessary step for the tiny Balkan state to be considered for European Union and Nato membership.

The Macedonian parliament ratified the pact last week. It has yet to be brought to a vote by Greece, though that is expected this month.

]]> <![CDATA[US: Second Lady Karen Pence Teaches at Openly Anti-LGBTQ School]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 22:35:44 -04:00 Karen Pence, the wife of United States Vice-President Mike Pence, returned to teaching art in a school that has openly discriminatory policies against LGBT people.

Queer Dance Party Protest at VP-elect Mike Pence’s House

She is returning to the Immanuel Christian School where she taught before in Springfield, Virginia, a school that can ban teachers that engage or condone "homosexual or lesbian sexual activity (...) transgender identity." The school lists homosexuality as an example of moral misconduct, on the same terms as sexual harassment or sexual abuse.

The school can also "refuse admission" or "discontinue enrolment" of a student when "the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches," according to the parent agreement of the elementary school.

According to a job application for the school, the teachers have to sign that "I (they) understand that the term “marriage” has only one meaning; the  uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture and that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other."

While in the public system, it is prohibited that schools require students and staff to follow any given religious creed, this does not happen in private education, which raises the question of why the wife of the U.S. vice-president would not teach at a public school.

According to Kara Brooks, communications director for the second lady, "Mrs Pence has returned to the school where she previously taught for 12 years." Adding that "It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, be under attack."

In early 2018, hundreds of LGBTQ activists and their allies took to the streets in front of his suburban D.C. rental home to protest Pence’s infamous history of homo- and transphobic policies. A Christian extremist, Pence has attempted to ban same-sex marriage, going to far as passing a bill while governor of Indiana which would impose criminal penalties on couples attempting to exercise their constitutional right to marry; tried to divert funding to HIV/AIDStreatment into anti-LGBTQ “conversion therapy” programs; and served on the board of an affiliate of Focus on the Family, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivarian Cities Get a Makeover with Venezuela Bella Mission]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 21:38:57 -04:00 Sixty Venezuelan cities will benefit from President Nicolas Maduro’s beautification project which will begin January 30, the state head announced Wednesday from the Miraflores Palace in Caracas.


Venezuela: Arreaza Pursues Stronger Ties With UN's Guterres

"I have set aside 1000 million euros for the first phase of the Venezuela Bella Mission...We will go first through the most populated capitals and then we will reach the whole country, together with organized popular power to make Venezuela the most beautiful country that has ever been seen in Latin America and the Caribbean," Maduro said.

“Rain or shine,” the project will launch at the end of January, transforming them into functional and beautiful homes for the citizens of Venezuela, the president said.

Better street lighting is the first mode of business for the beautification initiative. Changing the lighting will contribute to a universal change and open opportunities to infrastructure, public services, and the cities’ overall aesthetic, Maduro said.

"You have to light up Venezuela from end to end. There are no excuses! I ask governors, mayors, and ministers to save space in their agenda for: Mission Venezuela Bella,” Maduro said.

The president encouraged state officials to go into the streets and become involved in the project, investigate the needs and desires of the public, as well as their dreams for the future of the country.

The project will open up thousands of jobs for workers across the country. Over 11 thousand, two hundred bolivars are being allocated for the initiative to cover labor, employee health benefits, and operating expenses.

"I am sure that thousands of infrastructure projects are going to emerge hereafter and assist Venezuela to become a 21st century, modern, advanced country," Maduro said.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil's Lula: 'Jobs And Books, Not Guns']]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 21:15:36 -04:00 Brazil’s ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says he regrets President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to loosen gun restrictions, proposing a different strategy instead.


Brazil to Treat Landless Workers Activists as Terrorists: Govt

“It would be better to arm the people with work and books,” said Lula in his Twitter account on Tuesday.

Bolsonaro signed a decree Tuesday temporarily making it easier for Brazilians to buy guns and “guarantee the legitimate right to defense,” the first step toward a campaign promise to overturn regulations that have essentially prohibited civilians from bearing arms.

“I, as a president, will use this weapon,” he said before signing it.

The decree, which will expire unless it is ratified within 120 days by Congress, will remove the "discretionary" role that federal police have played in approving civilians' requests to buy guns. Bolsonaro has said that decisions on who may or may not carry weapons are completely subjective.

Now, citizens over 25 years old with no criminal records will have it easier to get a gun.

Gleisi Hoffmann, senator and national president of the Workers’ Party (PT), pointed out tat 61 percent of the population declared to be against arms possession in December, according to a poll by Data Folha, and declared the PT will challenge the decree.

“He wants to arm the people who are against weapons,” she said.

A one-time army captain who took office on Jan. 1, Bolsonaro wants to overturn a 2003 law that was tantamount to a ban on civilians from purchasing guns, arguing that Brazilians have the right to bear arms and defend themselves from criminals, a narrative that right-wing supporters of gun ownership use in the United States.

He has also promised to arm farmers and large-scale landowners against social movements and landless workers, in a country with a history of massacres against indigenous populations that are an obstacle for loggers and other economic ventures in the Amazon jungle.

]]> <![CDATA[Sixty Percent of World's Coffee at Risk of Extinction: Study]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 20:40:34 -04:00 Sixty percent of coffee species are facing extinction due to climate change, loss of natural habitat, diseases and pests, researchers from Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens said Wednesday.


Ethiopia: Farmers Threatened by Global Coffee Price Slump

Africa and Madagascar are home to 75 of the world’s 124 wild coffee species. Scientists say that 13 of these species are “critically endangered,” 40 are “endangered,” and 22 are considered “vulnerable.”

“Among the coffee species threatened with extinction are those that have potential to be used to breed and develop the coffees of the future, including those resistant to disease and capable of withstanding worsening climatic conditions,” said lead research director Aaron Davis, referring to Arabica, a relative of a world favorite coffea arabica, which contributes to multimillion dollar industry.

Arabica, also known as “mountain coffee,” flourishes in high altitude and in shady, tree-studded farms. Wild deforestation and climate changes have brought random rainfalls which, in turn, make plants much more vulnerable to fungal diseases.

The threat of extinction puts 15 million African coffee workers at risk for unemployment.

Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the IUCN REd List of Threatened Species, said, “The climate change impacts on Arabica coffee raise serious environmental, economic and social concerns, particularly for the millions of smallholder farmers that rely on this crop for their livelihood. The numerous wild relatives of commercially grown crops such as Arabica coffee are essential to ensure the resilience of cultivated coffee in the face of climate change and other threats.”

Aaron Davis, said, “Targeted action is urgently required in specific tropical countries, particularly in Africa, to protect the future of coffee.”

Scientists are suggesting reforestation, further research into coffee varieties, pests, and diseases; conservation projects, nature reserves, or simply better management.

"We do not want to cause panic [with these studies], it's a call to action, a catalyst, to say: 'we may not need these resources immediately, but unless we start thinking about their conservation now, as we lose extinct species, our options decrease,” said Davis.

]]> <![CDATA[JJ Rendon Involved in El Chapo's Bribes, Says Witness]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 20:33:48 -04:00 Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s one-time “right-hand man" testified Tuesday that the drug kingpin payed off former President Enrique Peña Nieto through an assistant of the political strategist J.J. Rendon, who was worked for several right-wing governments in Latin America.


‘El Gordo' Martinez to Evidence 'Chapo's' Sinaloa Leadership

Alex Cifuentes, a Colombian national who spent years working with Guzman as his personal aid while hiding from Mexican authorities in Sinaloa, was crossexamined by the defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman about declarations in past years.

In 2016 and 2017, Cifuentes told U.S. authorities that Guzman paid US$100 million to Peña Nieto in October 2012, when he was president-elect. On Tuesday, however, he said he was “confused” about the exact amount.

Cifuentes said that Guzman told him the bribe would allow the business to continue.

Reviewing the declarations, Lichtman said Cifuentes confessed that they used to deliver brives through his former personal assistant, Andrea Velez Fernandez, who worked for Rendon.

According to the witness declarations, Velez sent Cifuentes pictures of suitcases filled with money in Rendon’s personal plane at the time he was advising Peña Nieto’s presidential campaign.

Rendon denied Cifuentes' allegations in an interview with CNN Español on Tuesday, and said he is willing to be investigated for them.

Lichtman had already claimed in November that Peña Nieto “received hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes” from the Sinaloa Cartel.

As has been happening with all the politicians and public figures stained by the trial’s statements, both Rendon and a spokesman for Peña Nieto denied the accusations.

Rendon, who was born in Caracas, has worked for several right-wing campaigns, including those of Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico, Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, Juan Orlando Hernandez in Honduras, and Rafael Calderas and Henrique Capriles in Venezuela.

Although Rendon isn't currently employed by any Mexican party, he has said there are many ways to act on their behalf without being on any official payroll and revealed in an interview that he would do anything to prevent Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador becoming the next president of Mexico in 2018.

Lopez Obrador was sworn in on Dec. 1, 2018.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: National Museum Launches First Exhibition After Fire]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 20:37:55 -04:00 The Brazilian National Museum inaugurated, on Wednesday, its first exposition after the serious fire that destroyed its headquarters in September. The exposition is called: "When not everything was ice, new discoveries in the Antarctic continent."

Brazil Salvages 1,500 Artifacts from Ashes of National Museum

This exposition "shows that the Museum is still alive and continues to fulfill its function," stated the president of the Brazilian National Museum, Alexander Kellner. The exposition has been prepared in another seat of the museum, the house of the coin of Rio de Janeiro, but has been put together by the National Museum team.

The exposition is focused on the Antarctica and shows the work of paleontologists in the continent. It is made out of fossils, tools such as drills and brushes, used by the researches that worked in the Antarctica.  The most impressive piece of the exposition, according to the researcher Juliana Sayao, is a Pterosaur's fossil, a flying reptile which is recorded for the first time in Antarctica in the Cretaceous period.

Only one percent (six) of the pieces that the exposition offers, were recovered from the museum after the fire that destroyed most of the artifacts in the principal headquarters. This exposition was supposed to begin in October and was planned for a long time, which is why the team decided to continue with the process.

Approximately 90 percent of the museum's collections, and items lent by other museums, were lost in the fire on September 2. However, around 1,500 signed artifacts were salvaged, including the oldest known human fossil in the Americas, the skull of Luzia, the star of the 200-year-old museum’s collection. The skull lost 20 percent of its mass but was saved in part by a cabinet that fell over the fossil’s glass encasing.

The museum, the oldest and largest collection in Brazil by nearly 200 years, initially served as the imperial palace of Brazil and was considered Latin America’s largest museum of its kind and one of the five largest in the world of natural history.

]]> <![CDATA['Zebra' Tribal Body Paint Cuts Fly Bites 10-Fold: Study]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 19:08:59 -04:00 Traditional white-striped bodypainting practiced by Indigenous communities mimics zebra stripes to reduce the number of potentially harmful horsefly bites a person receives by up to 10-fold, according to new research published Wednesday.

Romeo the Frog Finds Love, Saves His Species From Extinction

Tribes in Africa, Australia and southeast Asia have practiced bodypainting in cultural ceremonies for generations. Traditionally mixed from clay, chalk, ash and cattle dung, the white or grey paint is widely thought to help individuals moderate body heat in the soaring bush and savanna temperatures.

But scientists now believe that the striking striped patterns also slash the amount of biting insects attracted to the naked flesh of people living in nature. It is known that zebras get bitten far less than animals with a single fur color, so a team of researchers decided to see if the light stripes painted on humans would have a similar deterrent effect.

They used three shop mannequins — one with dark skin, one with lighter skin, and a dark-skinned model painted with white stripes — and coated each with a thin layer of adhesive to capture creepy crawlies. They then stuck them in the middle of a meadow for eight weeks in summer and counted the number of horseflies and other biting insects each one attracted.

The results were startling: the dark-skinned mannequin was 10 times more attractive to horseflies than the striped model and twice as attractive than the light-skinned dummy.

The team behind the study believe that the stripes disrupt the polarisation of light reflected off human bodies, making them less delicious-looking to horseflies and other bugs.

“Traditional bodypaintings with their typical white-striped patterns on a brown body surface have the advantage of deterring blood-sucking horseflies as these patterns are unattractive to these parasitic insects,” the authors wrote in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Because of their need to lay their larvae in ponds and lakes, horseflies often come into contact with indigenous people seeking reliable water sources.

Gabor Horvath, from the Department of Biological Physics at Hungary’s Eotvos Lorand University, told AFP that the fly-repellant effect was a happy by-product of the cultural significance of bodypainting: the purpose of the paint is not to stop fly bites, it just happens to be good at doing so.

“We are however convinced that these people know well the horsefly-repelling characteristic of their bodypaintings,” he told AFP. “Essentially, the use of white-striped bodypaintings can be considered as an example for behavioral evolution/ecology and an adaptation to the environment.”

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela: Arreaza Pursues Stronger Ties With UN's Guterres]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 18:47:01 -04:00 The Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza met on Wednesday with Antonio Guterres Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) for an important bilateral meeting.

Venezuela Rejects US Attempted Coup and 'Puppet Government'

Minister Arreaza thanked the UN secretary-general for "the cordial, respectful and warm meeting held minutes ago in his office in NY," he wrote on his Twitter account, before reaffirming "the irreducible commitment of President Nicolas Maduro with peace, multilateralism and the 2030 Agenda." The meeting was held to strengthen relations between Venezuela and the UN mainly in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the 2030 Agenda.

"If we achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, we will achieve a more equitable society, it is essential to strengthen multilateralism," said Arreaza in the press conference after meeting the UN Secretary-General.

The Foreign Ministry of Venezuela stated on its Twitter account that the meeting was also favorable to denounce the assaults and attacks perpetrated against the South American country. The agency indicated that Arreaza presented to Guterres the interference actions committed by "the United States (U.S.) Government against the sovereignty of Venezuela."

"#NOW from the headquarters of the United Nations Organization, in New York, Chancellor Jorge Arreaza is received by Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the #UN to hold an important bilateral meeting."

In a press conference after the meeting, Arreaza stated that he had denounced before Antonio Guterres, a new coup attempt against the Government of Nicolás Maduro. "We have reported to the secretary-general that an attempted coup against Venezuela is underway (...) We have already gone through experiences such as the 2002 coup d'état and the oil strike, that same year," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday Minister Arreaza responded the interventionist acts of the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in relation to the policy Venezuela, promoting a coup against the Bolivarian Government. "Mike Pompeo not satisfied with leading a criminal economic blockade and an operation of international aggression against Venezuela, now shamelessly promotes a coup, citing articles of a Constitution that he obviously does not know," said the Venezuelan foreign minister through his Twitter account to a tweet released by Pompeo.

"While President Nicolas Maduro seeks a respectful dialogue with the U.S., the U.S. Secretary of State and other extremist spokespersons seek to destabilize the country and incite violence," said the Venezuelan official, who also recalled that the Venezuelan people demand respect for its democracy, its sovereignty and its Constitution.

]]> <![CDATA[India's Transgender Community Takes First Kumbh Mela Dip]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 18:41:11 -04:00 On Tuesday Laxmi Narayan Tripathi and dozens of other resplendent "Kinnars" splashed in the sacred waters of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers alongside revered Hindu ascetics at the immense Kumbh Mela festival in northern India.

Chile: Trans Woman Testifies Against Priest For Sex Abuse, Joining 100s of Cases

It was the first time that members of India's estimated two-million-strong transgender community have been allowed to do so at the festival, the biggest religious gathering in the world that got underway this week.

Dressed in saffron and red saris, they reached the river banks to take the ritual bath that Hindus believe will rid them of their sins, as devotees chanted religious hymns and thousands of people looked on.

"For us, this participation is about mainstream society accepting us. The creator is within us and once we die, we will go back to him. Our doors are open for all," Tripathi told reporters last week.

Hijras, a term used in India for transgenders and eunuchs, often live on the extreme fringes of society, with many forced into prostitution, begging or menial jobs.

But Hinduism has many references to transgenders, including gods and goddesses who belong to the third gender. Over the centuries transgenders have assumed different roles in society, from royal courtesans to participants in birth ceremonies and other auspicious occasions.

They have waged a lengthy battle to protect their rights and end discrimination. India's Supreme Court recognized them as a third gender in a historic 2014 ruling, followed by a judgment last year that overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing gay sex.

Tripathi, 40, heads Kinnar Akhara, a religious gymnasium or monastery for Sadhus or ascetics. It has however not yet won official recognition from the other groups.

"Establishing Kinnar Akhara aims to show the correct path to the next generation and to ensure that they do not face the stigma and discrimination we faced," Pavitra Nimbhorker, the group's secretary, told AFP.

The Kumbh Mela, which began on Tuesday, is expected to attract more than 100 million Hindus over the coming seven weeks to bathe at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers.

]]> <![CDATA[US: Jesuits Accuse 50 Priests of Sexually Abusing Minors]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 18:38:31 -04:00 Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus is accusing 50 Jesuit priests of sexually abusing minors from 1950 to 1996, a credible report released by the U.S. religious group said Tuesday.

Chilean Bishops Meet Pope to Discuss Scandal, Plans for 2019

“At the heart of this crisis is the painful, sinful and illegal harm done to children by those whom they should have been able to trust. We did not know any best practices to handle these violations many decades ago and regrettably made mistakes along the way,” said Rev. John J. Cecero, the order’s superior.

Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said, “Releasing these names publicly is crucial not only for the healing of survivors, but also to encourage victims who may be suffering in silence to come forward and to deter future clergy sex crimes and cover-ups.”

However, some have questioned the effectiveness of the report as none of the priests are actively participating in the ministry. All but 15 are dead, two others have been imprisoned, one for child pornography and another for abuse, while eight have left the order, and one was laicized.

Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney who represents clergy abuse victims, "Given that the Jesuits have actively practiced the cover-up of clergy sexual abuse for decades upon decades, victims question whether the criteria used by the Jesuits in determining if a pedophile priest has been credibly accused is fair or is just a means to name as few pedophile priests as possible.”

In an open letter, Cecero begged the public’s forgiveness, vowing to work towards creating a safer environment for children and to offer support for survivors. In 2002, the order implemented numerous measures which will transfer any religious person carrying credible abuse allegations to a community without minors where he is closely monitored, Cecero said.

Hiner said, “This is a long-overdue move prompted only by pressure from prosecutors, parishioners and the public.”

The report is the latest establishment in the large scale sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church and spans the U.S. northeastern region, namely New England, New York, and New Jersey.

In December, over 150 Jesuit priests and clergymen were named on a list of “credible allegations” released by two Catholic Jesuit provinces.

In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury also released a report that named more than 300 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims over several decades in that state; snowballing debates and investigations.

]]> <![CDATA[UK PM May Survives No-Confidence Vote]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 15:56:55 -04:00 Prime Minister Theresa May's government won a confidence vote in the British parliament Wednesday, clearing the way for her to attempt to forge a consensus among lawmakers on a Brexit divorce agreement.

Theresa May's Brexit Deal Defeated in UK Parliament

Lawmakers voted 325 to 306 that they had confidence in May's government, just 24 hours after they handed her Brexit deal a crushing defeat that left Britain's exit from the European Union in disarray.

With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Brexit, the United Kingdom is now in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.

May pledged to work with senior politicians across parliament to find a compromise that would avoid a disorderly no-deal Brexit or another referendum on membership. But critics said she was not budging from a deal that had alienated all sides of the debate.

John McDonnell, finance spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, said May could eventually get a deal through parliament if she negotiated a compromise with his party. Labour wants a permanent customs union with the EU, a close relationship with its single market and greater protections for workers and consumers.

But her spokesman said it was still government policy to be outside an EU customs union while May, an initial opponent of Brexit who won the top job in the turmoil following the 2016 referendum vote, insisted Britain would leave the bloc as planned on March 29, leaving little time for a solution to be found.

Yet Tuesday's crushing defeat appears to have killed off her two-year strategy of forging an amicable divorce in which a status-quo transition period would be followed by Britain operating an independent trade policy alongside close ties to the EU, the world's biggest single market.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said she was now leading a "zombie government". Labour says its aim is to win power and negotiate Brexit on better terms.

However, many Labour members want to see another referendum with an option to cancel Brexit, and the party says it is ruling nothing out if it fails to bring May down.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina Inflation Average at 47.6% in 2018: Study]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 16:22:30 -04:00 The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec) of Argentina says the country’s 2018 inflation rate reached 47.6 percent, the highest in 27 years when the Carlos Menem administration was in office.

20,000 Argentines Protest President Macri's Economic Policies

According to the report, the most significant increase in prices was regarding basic consumer goods such as food, beverages, cleaning products and public transport, which directly affected all classes of the population. The Macri administration also eliminated certain transport subsidies that increased bus and subway costs for passengers. In sum public transport went up by 67 percent during 2018, cleaning products were up by 50 percent.

National unions and organizations protested government austerity measures to education, culture, and housing by the thousands throughout the year. The government has laid off at least 32,000 people—13 percent of the workforce—since Macri took office in December 2015, according to France 24.

The country's currency devalued by 50 percent between May and September of last year and has remained at the record low since. The government attempted to stabilize the economy through a US$57 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan while selling off billions in pesos and dollar reserves in the form of short-term government bonds.

These bonds and austerity measures have been the government's Aquiles heal and have brought the economy down the hardest, Mark Weisbrot from the Center for Economic and Policy Research told teleSUR in September. 

]]> <![CDATA[NYT Faces Backlash Over Graphic Images of Nairobi Attack ]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 16:02:30 -04:00 New York Times (NYT) faced a huge backlash over their article "Shabab Claim Responsibility for Deadly Assault on Nairobi Hotel-Office Complex" which covered the recent Nairobi attacks. 


Kenya: Upscale Hotel Under Attack With Heavy Gunfire

At least 15 people have been killed and 30 wounded Tuesday following an attack on a luxury hotel complex in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

Heavy gunfire exchange and multiple explosions continued for some 12 hours, spilling over into early Wednesday as security personnel engaged the four gunmen, who — according to Reuters, citing police officials — launched explosives at vehicles prior to detonating devices attached to their bodies.

Kenyan security forces killed the militants Wednesday.

The NYT article by its East Africa bureau chief Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura included photos of injured people and dead bodies which angered the Kenyans.

The graphic images generated social media anger and started a virtual protest calling for deporting Kimiko in a viral hashtag #DeportKimiko.

Kenyans felt that the images used by NYT were disrespectful towards black Africans and biased against them as, according to them, such images are never used in coverage of the United States. Soon after that, another hashtag #SomeoneTellNYTimes started, showing how the community came forward to help the victims.

NYT tweeted a response defending the use of the images.

"It is important to give our readers a clear picture of the horror of an attack like this. This includes showing pictures that are not sensationalized but that give a real sense of the situation."

A netizen, in response, wrote that “#SomeoneTellNYtimes we do not need your sensationalized photos to "get the picture". We have family, friends, fellow Kenyans who have lived the nightmare of terrorism. Some are gone forever. You are a disgrace. Disrespectful.”

]]> <![CDATA[UK's Labour Party Ready To Negotiate Brexit Deal With May]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 13:40:59 -04:00 British Prime Minister Theresa May could eventually get a Brexit deal through parliament if she negotiated a compromise with the opposition Labour Party, the second most powerful man in the party told Reuters Wednesday.


UK: Jeremy Corbyn Calls for No-Confidence Vote Against May

May’s Brexit deal suffered a crushing defeat in parliament Tuesday, triggering political chaos that could lead to a disorderly exit from the EU, a reversal of the 2016 decision to leave or a compromise deal of some sort.

The Labour Party’s finance policy chief, John McDonnell, said Labour would support May if she agreed to stay in a permanent customs union with the EU, a close relationship with its single market and greater protections for workers and consumers.

“We will support a deal that brings the country back together, protects jobs and supports the economy,” McDonnell said. “We have had that open door policy all the way through. For two years she has not contacted, not approached us, not reached out.”

In an indication of the scale of the political crisis gripping Britain, May has said she is ready to reach out to opposition lawmakers in cross-party talks to find an amicable divorce deal to leave the EU.

A group of 71 Labour lawmakers Wednesday urged their leader Jeremy Corbyn to swing behind a second referendum on remaining part of the European Union.

McDonnell, who describes Karl Marx as one of his main influences, told Reuters that there was no majority in parliament for leaving the EU without a deal so the two most likely options are a compromise deal or a national election.

“It is a bizarre situation but here I am, the shadow chancellor, going on the news to steady the markets because the Tories and the existing chancellor can’t do it,” he said.

“The reason that I am trying to do that is because there are an overwhelming majority in parliament against a no deal. We will use every parliamentary mechanism to prevent a no deal.”

McDonnell, 67, said he still prefers a snap election to win for Labour its own mandate for an EU exit based around a permanent customs union with the EU, rather than holding a new Brexit referendum.

“Our view is that we have should have a general election while having a debate on Brexit amongst all the other issues as well, a much wider debate but you can also choose the team that will then do the negotiation,” he said.

McDonnell said it is increasingly likely that the government will have to ask for an extension to the formal process of leaving the EU, which is known as Article 50.

“The next fortnight will be critical,” he said. “The more time it takes up over the next couple of weeks, the more likely the government is to have to ask for an extension.”

The confidence motion, called by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn after lawmakers rejected May’s Brexit deal by 432-202, will be held at 7:00 p.m. local time. 

]]> <![CDATA[US: Aid Org on Trial for Leaving Water for Migrants]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 15:56:00 -04:00 Several volunteers for the humanitarian organization No More Deaths/No Mas Muertos (NMD) based in Southern Arizona are on trial for supposedly littering and trespassing in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge along the U.S. Arizona border with Mexico. One volunteer, Arizona State University professor and NMD volunteer, Scott Daniel Warren, is on trial for allegedly harboring and conspiring against the U.S. government.

 US: Pentagon Outlines Options for Military Strike in Iran

All volunteers were leaving food and water for Central American and Mexican refugees and immigrants traveling through the harsh desert refuge making their way to the U.S.

Starting Tuesday, at least four of the nine volunteers will begin their trial in Tucson, Arizona on charges brought against them by federal authorities.

No More Deaths says the humanitarians were leaving behind water, food and vital supplies for migrating Central Americans trekking through the harsh national park located about 60 km north of the U.S.-Mexico border near Ajo, Arizona, in order to cross the U.S. border. Volunteers say they were also searching for the bodies of migrants who died in the desert where temperatures can reach over 43 degrees Celsius.

Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. Greg Hess says the remains of many as 2,816 undocumented border crossers were recovered from 2000-2017. NMD puts that number at  6,915 between 1998 and 2016.

The U.S. government since Bill Clinton has taken on the “Prevention Through Deterrence” tactic of preventing migrants from entering the country through urban sectors forcing the vulnerable to take the more difficult routes through the unpopulated mountainous desert that characterizes the U.S. southern border, increasing their risk of injury, dehydration, heat stroke, exhaustion and hypothermia, according to The Guardian.

Journalist and NMD volunteer Ryan Devereaux told Democracy Now that the charges against the nine were filed last year in January immediately after NMD released a report that that showed that the increased number of U.S. Border Patrol agents in these remote border regions routinely destroyed or confiscated aid items left for them.

The 2018 NMD report says that between 2012 to 2015 alone over 3,600 gallons of water were eliminated by border agents over an “800-square-mile corridor” near Ajo, Arizona. The NMD say agents "are responsible for the widespread interference with essential humanitarian efforts," read the report.

US: Florida Lawmakers Join Workers to Call for End of Shutdown

Scott Warren has a felony charge against him of harboring and conspiracy for leaving water, food and clean clothes in the desert. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on all accusations.

“These charges together sort of indicate a crackdown on No More Deaths and a crackdown on humanitarian aid work in the Arizona desert here, that began really as Trump was coming into office in April 2017,” Devereaux said to Democracy Now in a Tuesday interview.

Dr. Sara Vasquez of NMD told supporters gathered outside of the Tucson courtroom Tuesday: "I really worry about the effect on the health of our community — and our nation — if the humanitarian aid work we do is allowed to be criminalized," according to the No More Deaths website.

Judge Bernardo Velasco from the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, is presiding over the case. In mid-December, Warren was trying to get Velasco removed from the trial saying that the judge was having unacceptable communications with government prosecutors.

Warren’s lawyers, Gregory J. Kuykendall and Amy P. Knight, argued that the communications amounted to “improper influence by the government” saying that Velasco “can no longer issue rulings in this case with the appearance of the strict impartiality demanded of our judicial system.”

On Tuesday during the trial, Velasco said: "I think it goes without saying you need water in the desert and without water, you'll die," according to the NMD Facebook page.

The Trump administration has adopted a nationalist, anti-immigrant stance since taking office in 2016. At the southern border he has order the increased militarization in the region, separated Central American families and turned away asylum seekers at legal points of entry. 

]]> <![CDATA[Huawei Founder: China 'Never Requested Company To Spy']]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 13:41:41 -04:00 Technology company Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei is denying any claims that the Chinese government is using his company to spy. The father of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, said he misses his daughter who has been held by Canadian authorities on request from the United States for allegedly misleading banks about the company's operating a firm in Iran.

 Canada Arrests Huawei CFO by US Request, Tensions Rise, Stocks Fall

"I still love my country, I support the Communist party, but I will never do anything to harm any country in the world," Ren said, adding he missed his daughter "very much."

The Huawei founder, Ren, a former military officer who founded the multinational company in 1987, assured reporters during an interview in Shenzhen that he "never received any request from any government to provide improper information." Ren owns 1.14 percent of the company's shares.

The Huawei company told Reuters the same.

According to Reuters, since last April U.S. authorities have been investigating Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker, since at least 2016 for allegedly shipping U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of the U.S.’s longtime economic and export sanctions against the Persian country.

Meng has been paying the price since Dec. 1 when she was arrested by Canadian authorities. She was released on bail on Dec. 11 but still faces possible extradition to the U.S. inflaming China-U.S. trade tensions anew.

China's foreign ministry said Tuesday that the arrest is an abuse of legal procedures. On Monday, China sentenced a Canadian to death for drug smuggling.

Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, has been facing intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with China's government and over U.S. allegations that its devices could be used by Beijing for spying.

No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the accusations, but some Western countries have restricted Huawei's access to their markets.

Poland said this week it could consider banning the use of Huawei products by public bodies, after it too arrested a Chinese Huawei official.

Ren dismissed fears over the security of Huawei's equipment, saying "no law in China requires any company to install mandatory backdoors (that could be used for spying)" and added the company has had "no serious security incidents".

The company is the world’s second biggest smartphone maker and generates US$93 billion in revenue last year.

 Huawei Arrest: Canada Faces ‘Serious Consequences’ Says China

"You can't work with everyone  ... we'll shift our focus to better serve countries that welcome Huawei'” Ren told interviewers, adding the company already has 30 contracts globally to build 5G networks which are being rolled out.

U.S. President Donald Trump in August signed a bill that barred the U.S. government from using Huawei equipment and is considering an executive order that would also ban U.S. companies from doing so.

However, Trump told Reuters last month he would intervene with the Justice Department in the case against Meng if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing.

Ren described Trump as "great" and praised his tax cuts as good for American industry.

"The message to the U.S. I want to communicate is: collaboration and shared success. In our world of high tech, it's increasingly impossible for any single company or country to sustain or to support the world's needs," Ren added.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico's Truth Commission To Begin Probe of Ayotzinapa Case]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 12:43:15 -04:00 The federal government of Mexico signed an order Tuesday which fulfilled its commitment to investigate the Ayotzinapa case and sanction the officials involved in the disappearance of 43 students.


Ayotzinapa 43: Four Years After The Crime That Shocked Mexico

The Commission for Truth and Access to Justice was established for carrying out the investigations.

“I respectfully ask the members of the commission, the experts who are part of it, their most determined effort and commitment to help to know the truth in the shortest time that is human, legal and scientifically possible,” said the head of the Ministry of the Interior (SG), Olga Sanchez Cordero in front of the Parents of the disappeared young people.

The organization will not only investigate the Ayotzinapa case but also the disappearance of more than 37,000 Mexicans according to officials.

On Sep. 26, 2014, 43 students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ School of Ayotzinapa went missing.

Security footage indicated they were kidnapped by police, and the official investigation by outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration concluded they were later handed to the Guerreros Unidos cartel, executed and their bodies incinerated at a local landfill.

Relatives have demanded the federal government let them enter the barracks, which is where they believe the students were taken after being kidnapped. In 2015, after multiple petitions were ignored, they forced entry but were escorted out before they found any evidence.

Both the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) have suggested the Mexican government should include the army in the investigation.

]]> <![CDATA[US: FBI Arrests Iran TV Anchor, Removes Hijab, Serves Her Pork]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 12:22:45 -04:00 The United States arrested a U.S. born journalist working for Iran’s state media Press TV on unspecified charges, the media house said Wednesday.


US: Pentagon Outlines Options for Military Strike in Iran

Marzieh Hashemi, 59, was arrested as soon as she arrived at St. Louis Lambert International airport, Missouri, Sunday and transferred by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to a detention facility in Washington.

Marzieh, born Melanie Franklin, was visiting her ailing family in the country.

“PressTV would like to hereby express its strong protest at the recent apprehension and violent treatment of Ms. Marzieh Hashemi, born Melanie Franklin in the United States, who is currently serving as an anchor for the English-language television news network,” said the media organization.

According to the Iranian media, she was not allowed to contact anyone for the first two days.

"Her relatives were unable to contact her, and she was allowed to contact her daughter only two days after her arrest," Press TV reported.

Marzieh told her daughter that she was handcuffed and shackled but no charges against her were made public.

She was reportedly denied from observing her faith. Her hijab (headscarf) was forcefully removed, and she was served pork, which is prohibited in Islam.

“Ms. Hashemi has had nothing to eat other than a packet of crackers since her apprehension. The resulting malnutrition, compounded by cold weather conditions, has made her weak and infirm,” Press TV reported.

"We condemn the illegal arrest of Marzieh Hashemi, the reporter, and presenter of Press TV, and the inhumane treatment of her in jail in Washington," Bahram Qasemi, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said Wednesday.  

The Press TV also demanded her release saying, “We, further, call for the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Hashemi, and for the US government to apologize to both the journalist and the international media community for her treatment.”

]]> <![CDATA[Iran Says Ready for New Satellite Launch in a Few Months]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 11:35:25 -04:00 Iran will be ready for a new satellite launch in a few months' time after a failed attempt this week, President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday, ignoring U.S. and European warnings to avoid such activity.

Iran: Lone Survivor Critical As 15 Die in Plane Crash

Iran's bid to send a satellite into orbit failed Tuesday as the space vehicle Payam did not reach adequate speed in the third stage of the launch.

"We have achieved great success in building satellites and launching them. That means we are on the right track," Rouhani was quoted as saying by state media. "The remaining problems are minor, will be resolved in a few months, and we will soon be ready for a new launch."

The United States warned Iran this month against undertaking three planned rocket launches that it said would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology.

France's foreign ministry Wednesday condemned the abortive launch and urged Iran to cease ballistic missile tests, which Paris sees as of potential use for nuclear weapons.

"The Iranian ballistic programme is a source of concern for the international community and France," foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.

"We call on Iran not to proceed with new ballistic missile tests designed to be able to carry nuclear weapons, including space launchers, and urge Iran to respect its obligations under all U.N. Security Council resolutions," von der Muhll said.

Iran, which considers its space program a matter of national pride, has said its space vehicle launches and missile tests do not flout U.N. resolutions and will continue.

Western powers are concerned that the long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads.

Iran has repeatedly denied any intent to develop nuclear weapons and curbed its disputed uranium enrichment program under a 2015 deal with world powers.

But the pact is now at risk after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from it, in part because it did not cover Iran's ballistic missile program, and reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela: Opposition Former Campaign Manager Says 'Maduro Won']]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 10:11:08 -04:00 Claudio Fermin, politician and the former campaign manager for Henri Falcon, the opposition candidate for president which now-President Nicolas Maduro won on May 20, made an appeal for people to respect the political process of Venezuela.


Venezuela Rejects US Attempted Coup and 'Puppet Government'

On Tuesday, Fermin said,  "we can’t ignore reality. I’m making a call to get your head out of the clouds. This is not a case of a president pro tempore” and stressed that “a government is legitimized by its own citizens.”Referring the new board of the National Assembly (AN), he said they have "the difficult task of finding a way to remove the lack of authority the Assembly has" and added that "Juan Guaidó has emerged to do politics in times where people don’t believe in that policy, and he is now president of the AN. I feel represented."

Additionally, he stated that "it is a fact that Maduro won the elections of May 20," despite the continuing challenges regarding the results and the claims of irregularities.

This statement comes amid the backdrop of the Venezuelan state having accused Washington of promoting a coup d’etat by imposing a “puppet government” in the nation, according to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry. 

]]> <![CDATA[Kenyan Forces Kill Hotel Assailants Who Took 14 Lives]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 10:45:48 -04:00 Kenyan security forces have killed the militants who stormed an upscale Nairobi hotel compound, taking at least 14 lives and forcing hundreds of others to make terrifying escapes, the government said Wednesday.

Kenya: al-Shabaab-Claimed Hotel Attack Kills More Than A Dozen

More than 700 civilians were evacuated from the DusitD2 complex after a 20-hour siege that echoed a 2013 assault that killed 67 people in Nairobi's Westgate shopping center in the same neighborhood.

Some hid under desks as bullets shattered plate glass doors. Others jumped from windows, or ran out under fire, Reuters reported.

"The security operation at dusit complex is over, and all the terrorists eliminated," President Uhuru Kenyatta told the nation, looking drained and grave.

"As of this moment, we can confirm that 14 innocent lives were lost through the hands of these murderous terrorists."

Kenyatta did not specify how many assailants there were, but CCTV clips showed at least five dressed in black.

One is seen waiting outside the restaurant before blowing himself up in a cloud of debris just after 3 p.m. local time. Four others then shot assault rifles as they crossed the car park.

The attack was claimed by Somali group al Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate fighting an insurgency to topple the weak U.N.-backed government and impose strict Islamic law.

Air strikes against the group have stepped up under U.S. President Donald Trump, but Tuesday's attack showed it retains ability to strike outside Somalia's borders.

Neighboring Kenya, a hub for expatriates, became a frequent target for al Shabaab after sending troops into Somalia to try to create a buffer zone along the long, porous border.


US Military to Shift Focus From Syria And Somalia

At least two groups of people had still been trapped inside as dawn broke, and gunfire continued to ring out. Some of those trapped inside sent out messages begging for medical help.

Eleven Kenyans, an American and a Briton were among the casualties, morgue staff said. By Wednesday lunchtime, messages still circulated on social media asking for help finding people.

Some victims had been dining in the Secret Garden restaurant and lay slumped at tables, photos seen by Reuters showed.

The complex is home to offices of international companies including Colgate Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, Pernod Ricard, Dow Chemical and SAP, as well as the dusitD2 hotel, part of Thai group Dusit Thani.

Kenya is home to hundreds of diplomats, aid workers, businessmen and others. Hiram Macharia, a marketing executive at LG Electronics, heard the first blast around 3 p.m.

"I grabbed a fire extinguisher and we started going downstairs. Then we saw two of the attackers firing at the elevators and we turned back. We hid under desks in our office," he told Reuters outside the hotel.

"They were firing twice at each of the elevator doors and the two staircase doors on each floor as they walked up the building. One of them fired at our office doors, entered slightly and then moved on."

Macharia hid in his office, but one colleague ran to the roof and was shot dead there, he added.

The overnight blasts and shots undercut assurances from the interior minister Tuesday evening that the complex was secured, provoking anger and scorn from some at the scene.

But the initial response on social media was largely supportive of security forces. They appeared to have avoided the mistakes made at the 2013 attack, when police and soldiers shot at each other then soldiers looted the mall.

"I thank ... the rescue operations commander... and the rest of the security forces for saving the hostages," tweeted former legislator Boni Khalwale, whose daughter was saved.


Somalia: UN Envoy's Expulsion Follows al-Shabab Attack on Base

Mamadou Dia was on a business trip from Paris for STP Consultants when he ended up huddled in a room with Chinese and Canadian residents of the hotel and a waiter who worked there.

He received updates on his telephone.

"They told us by text that the police knew we were in that room and that they would come, and one and a half hours later, the police came to evacuate us," he said.

As armed officers escorted them out, the attackers started shooting at them "like snipers," he said, adding that police fired back.

Families who went to Nairobi's Chiromo morgue were told they could not view bodies until a forensic investigation had been performed, provoking grief and anger.

The family of a missing 35-year-old man collapsed upon hearing a body had arrived with his identification papers.

"He is gone, he is gone," the father repeated into his phone as his mother wrapped a shawl around herself and wept. Another family arrived, demanding to see whether their relative was there but were told only police had access.

As they argued, an elderly couple arrived in silence, bringing a freshly pressed suit to dress their dead son, according to Reuters reporters.

]]> <![CDATA[Peru: Judge in Keiko Case Ruled 'Partial' to State Prosecutors]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 12:30:34 -04:00 A Peruvian appeals court has ruled to dismiss Judge Richard Concepcion Carhuancho from the controversial case against legislator Keiko Fujimori who, along with several Fuerza Popular party advisors is accused of accepting at least US$1.2 million in bribes from Odebrecht for her 2011 presidential bid.

Peru: Court Upholds Preventive Prison For Keiko Fujimori

Lawyers of Fujimori’s former campaign chief Jaime Yoshiyama requested the change.

"The Second National Criminal Appeals Court declares that the challenge against Judge Richard Concepcion Carhuancho is well founded," said the appeals court in a statement. Yoshiyama’s defense team argued that Concepcion was not acting impartiality and accused the judge of defending state prosecutors working against their client to the media.

"The judge ... did not preserve … impartiality on facts (about the case and) made conclusive statements about facts that are still under investigation, which implies advancing the case in favor of one of the parties," said the appeals court in its ruling.

During a recent interview with a Peruvian radio station, Concepcion evidently making conclusive statements on the case and added: "I understand that I am a judge, but above all I am also a citizen and this news has caused me deep indignation and concern," which the appeals court says adds to Concepcion’s impartiality.

Yoshiyama is currently in Miami, Florida, where according to his lawyers, he’s recovering from an eye treatment. Concepcion had ordered his extradition and preventive detention in Peru.

 Peru's Interim Attorney General Declares State of Emergency

Fujimori, daughter of former authoritarian Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) and her political advisor both deny that state prosecutors have any proof against them even though former Odebrecht CEO Marcelo Odebrecht and the company’s director in Peru, Jorge Barata already confessed to making illicit campaign donations to Peruvian prosecutors in 2018.

According to local media, the change in judges could result in the early release of Keiko from the 36-month preventive detention mandated by Concepcion last November.

According to special prosecutors Jose Domingo Perez and Rafael Vela, in charge of the case against Fujimori and other cases within the sprawling Odebrecht scandal, Keiko leads "a criminal organization" within her party. She has a 19 percent approval rating according to Ipsos for her current work within the national legislator which doesn’t bode well for her 2021 presidential hopes.

"This situation causes me surprise and outrage," prosecutor Vela told the media on Tuesday. Vela and his team coordinating the Odebrecht case in Peru are trying to nullify the appeal court's ruling.

Concepcion was set to rule on a resolution on Jan. 25 brought forth by Perez and Vela accusing Keiko’s lawyers over interfering with their investigation against their client. The next presiding judge will have to make the ruling.

No replacement judge has been chosen yet, but there are three possible candidates: Roger Benitez, Elizabeth Arias Quispe and Angel Mendivil Mamani.

According to La Republica newspaper out of Peru, Benitez worked on a previous corruption case in which Fujimori was on trial and ruled in favor of the lawmaker. Mendivil is investigated for releasing two alleged drug traffickers.

After Peru's attorney general stepped down last week after being accused of interfering in the Keiko case, the state office was declared under a state of emergency by high courts in order to restore public confidence in their judicial and oversight systems that are swirling in several corruption scandals.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump to Face Off With US Congress to End Saudi War in Yemen]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2019 07:33:53 -04:00 United States President Donald Trump is expected to face a new vote, this time in the U.S. House of Representatives, which could limit his authority to continue waging war in Yemen. The action is limited by internal politics and the option of a presidential veto.

Head of Military Intelligence Dies After Houthi Drone Attack

In December last year, the U.S. Senate passed a measure which called on the 1973 War Powers Resolution, by a 56 to 41 vote, marking a historic move to end military support for the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen.

The House of Representatives, now controlled by Democrats, is leading the same effort to curtail the president’s authority to continue to fuel the backing of the Saudi-led military campaign.

Specifically, the measure would serve to cut off “U.S. refueling, logistical support, intelligence, and special forces operations” to Saudi allies, according to Reuters. 

However, even if Trump is curtailed, he cannot be completely stopped as he can overrule the measure and continue fueling the aggressors. It is unlikely that his opponents will be able to get the necessary two-thirds majorities in both houses to override a presidential veto, according to The Guardian.

In context, a group led by independent Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the bill in the Senate but to a different mix of lawmakers. The upper house’s composition changed after the recent election and so the measure would need to be reintroduced.

Factions in the U.S. Congress have bowed to pressure on the Khashoggi murder in order to give bipartisan support to measures aimed toward ending the promotion of the Saudi-led war.

In addition, it appears that the compromise to curtail Trump’s backing for the Saudi war in Yemen is conditioned by the ebbs of the conflict in Yemen, which has no clear end in sight. Specifically, “the legislation could be held back,” in the event that the cease-fire concerning the Yemeni port of Hodeidah is successfully upheld, and if the Saudis show more transparency over the brutal assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Reuters reported.

The Yemeni war started in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and 12 regional allies formed a coalition to restore the pro-Saudi government into power after the Houthi movement took over the capital Sanaa. Saudi Arabia and its allies, who have received logistic and intelligence support for the intervention in Yemen, have been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity over intentionally targeting civilians as well as allegations of torture.

The country has also spiraled into one of the most catastrophic humanitarian disasters of the 21st century. More than 24 million people, representing three-quarters of the population, are in need of assistance and protection, and 20 million people lack access to food, according to the United Nations.