teleSUR English ES Sun, 26 May 2019 23:03:50 -04:00 teleSUR English <![CDATA[Catalan Leaders Win Seats in EU Parliament]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 23:03:48 -04:00 Catalan pro-independence leaders Carles Puigdemont and Oriol Junqueras have won seats in the European Parliament, as the election process wrap-ups in the 28 member-states. While the Prime Minister’s Pedro Sanchez Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) took the overall win. 

EU Elections: Far-right Make Gains Amid Hopeful Green Surge

“The result is a push for the Republic, for independence and for freedom. Independentism reaches the highest percentage in an election,” the former president of Catalonia tweeted on Sunday after learning the results. From May 23 to 26, the European Union’s (EU) 28 member states chose a total of 751 Members for the European Parliament (MEPs). 

The list of the ex-president received 28 percent of votes in Catalonia, which will also allow him to bring to Brussels former legislator and counselor Toni Comin. While Oriol Junqueras’ list, a coalition between Bildu and BNG, obtained three seats with 21 percent of the vote in the autonomous region.  

A Madrid court ruled on May 6 that Puigdemont could run for the post after Spain's electoral commission last month barred him and two other fugitive Catalan politicians from running due to an “unauthorized” breakaway referendum done in 2017, which resulted in a majority votes for independence.

After the controversial vote, the Catalan government was dissolved and he and four more official fled Spain to Belgium. The Spanish government tried to extradite the accused Catalan leaders but the legal process failed or was delayed. On July 10, 2018, a Supreme Court judge suspended him as a deputy in the Catalan parliament and nine days later, Spain dropped the European Arrest Warrants against Puigdemont and other Catalan officials in exile.

Yet the night’s big winner was the centrist Socialists that as Sanchez said at a news conference are “by far, the first political force in Spain.” Spain is entitled to 54 seats in EU Parliament, the PSOE got 20 MEPs, followed by the right-wing Popular Party (PP) and Citizens with 12 and seven respectively, left-wing United We Can with six - losing five since last elections in 2014 -; and the far-right Vox with three seats.

This renewed strength for Spanish Socialists has invigorated the party’s confidence. Madrid is likely to aim for the EU’s top foreign policy job and for a vice presidency at the European Commission, government sources have said in recent days.

On Sunday, Spaniards also voted for local authorities. Although the Socialists (33 percent) won more votes than any other party nationwide, the election was very fragmented as conservatives, center-right and far-right together were set to win in key cities and regions like Madrid.

]]> <![CDATA[China Says US Trying to Damage Its Economic Sovereignty]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 19:24:20 -04:00 The Chinese state news agency said on Saturday that the U.S. is attempting to invade China’s economic sovereignty, as tensions between the United States (U.S.) and China escalate, amid the so-called “trade war.”

China Will Protect Its Companies from US Trade War Threat

“At the negotiating table, the U.S. government presented a number of arrogant demands to China, including restricting the development of state-owned enterprises,” Xinhua said in a commentary, adding that “this shows that behind the trade war against China, the [U.S.] is trying to invade China’s economic sovereignty and force China to damage its core interests.”

State-owned business in China enjoy subsidies and special benefits such as government guarantees for debts and lower interest for bank loans, analysts and trade groups say. Yet for the U.S. government to meddle in internal affairs is “obviously, beyond the scope of trade negotiations and touches on China’s fundamental economic system,” the state agency added.

Bilateral relations between both nations have soured since the start of the Tariff wars. After the latest round of trade-talks didn't reach a comprise on May 10, Washington hiked U.S. tariffs by 25 percent on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

While China retaliated with higher tariffs on most U.S. imports on a revised US$60 billion target list. U.S President Donald Trump also ordered U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to target another US$325 billion of Chinese goods with 25 percent tariffs. 

On May 18, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the U.S. government not to go too far in its damaging moves against Chinese interests in a phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to state media. 

Yet Trump seems to continue to threaten and attack Chinese business interest across the world. On May 16, the Trump administration added Huawei Technologies to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with U.S. counterparts.

“Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android and will not be able to get access to proprietary apps and services from Google,” a company source said, which will affect the rising tech giant sales of smartphones across the world, starting Aug. 19.

Trump has announced that he'll meet face-to-face with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit late June, hoping to find a new channel to deescalate the situation. 

]]> <![CDATA[New Evidence Links Colombia’s Army Chief to Civilian Killings]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 19:14:40 -04:00 New documents have emerged linking the Commander of the Colombian National Army, General Nicacio Martinez Espinel, to the alleged cover-up of civilian killings in “false positive” operations during the 2000s, according to exclusive information obtained by The Associated Press. 

UN Warns Massacres in Colombia Increased 164% in 2018: Report

The evidence was provided by an anonymous source from Colombia’s prosecutor’s office and show that the Colombian officer in 2005 authorized at least seven payments, which never exceeded US$500, to supposed informants whose names and IDs didn’t match, turning out to be Colombian soldiers related to “false positive” operations. 

In two cases, judicial investigators found the real beneficiary was a soldier a Colombian soldier, Oscar Alfonso Murgas, who has been sentenced to 40 years for his role in civilian killings. Another hidden recipient, whom Martinez Espinel signed off to, was a former paramilitary commander sentenced to 15 years for extortion.

“A decade ago, soldiers across Colombia lured civilians to remote locations under false pretenses — such as with promises of work — killed them, placed weapons on their lifeless bodies, and then reported them as enemy combatants killed in action,” Americas director at Human Rights Watch, Jose Miguel Vivanco, said, adding that  “one can’t help wonder if any of the cockades in their uniforms, or the promotions throughout ‘successful’ careers, corresponds to the murder of innocent civilians committed over a decade ago.”

Yet this is not the first time General Martinez Espinel has been associated with extrajudicial murders. During the 2000s, as United States-backed Plan Colombia was in its height, he was the second-in-command of the 10th Brigade in northeast Colombia, years on which prosecutors have probed 23 illegal killings, including the death of an indigenous civilian and 13-year-old girl. 

A national court later convicted two soldiers for abducting them from their home, murdering them and putting weapons on their bodies so they appeared to be rebels, a practice that is known as “false positives.”


Colombia: FARC Party Denounces 128 Killings of Ex-militants

In context, at least 1,750 members of Colombia's army were involved in creating "false positives." 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. Fifteen years later not a single top commander has been held accountable for the slayings.

And the impunity and continuous use of these practices are still seen until today. In 2018, the United Nations (U.N.) found 11 new cases of alleged “false positive” executions registered in Antioquia, Arauca, Huila, La Guajira, Magdalena, and Northern Santander. “National police would allegedly be responsible for six cases, and the army of five”, the UN affirms.

Opposition voices in Colombian have called on Martinez Espinel to resign, pointing to the cases of suspicious killings and cover-ups by soldiers under his command. However, the country’s right-wing President Ivan Duque continues to stand by the commander.

]]> <![CDATA[Andean Countries' Presidents Meet in Peru for CAN Anniversary]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 19:04:13 -04:00 Presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru are meeting Sunday in the Peruvian capital in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Andean Community of Nations, or CAN.

Peru's Leader Floats China as Partner for Mega-Railway Project

The CAN's “political commitment” was established in 1969 in Cartagena de Indias by its founding members Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru in order to organize an equal a balanced development across the Andean region.

Over the last 50 years, the four neighboring nations were also able to unify its natural disaster response mechanisms, create the Andean Committee of Cultural Affairs, and realize a number of global agreements.

Trade remains the main unity factor between the four founding members, and the respective Trade Ministers are accompanying the Presidents in this Summit, along with their Foreign Ministers.

Last May, the Andean Nations Community elected Peru to preside over its international meetings after a seven-year vacancy in the Andean Presidential Council.

Peru's leadership aims to improve the regional integration, including the Andean Migration Card, more affordable telephone roaming fees, sharing of information on disease and plant pests, as well as US$50 million to be used towards business innovations in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

]]> <![CDATA[One Person Dead as Peru Recovers from 8.0 Quake]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 16:06:00 -04:00 Peruvian authorities were scrambling to assess the damage after an earthquake with a magnitude as high as 8.0 rocked the Peruvian Amazon region in the early hours of Sunday morning, leaving at least one person dead.


Massive Earthquake Hits Ecuador and Peru

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra left Lima early this morning to survey the damage following the strong quake that struck the Loreto region of northern Peru.

"This is a quake of great magnitude, the biggest in 12 years, since 2007," Vizcarra told reporters.

At least one person in the Cajamarca region was killed after a boulder struck his home, emergency officials said. Peru´s National Emergency Center(COEN) said there were at least 11 people injured and more than 50 homes destroyed. Several schools, churches, hospitals and clinics also reported damages.

The quake, rated as one of "intermediate depth" at around 110 kilometers, was felt around the country, and as far off as Colombia and Ecuador.

Intermediate depth quakes typically cause less surface damage than shallower tremors. Peru sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where the majority of the world’s seismic activity occurs.

The earthquake was around 75 km SSE of Lagunas and 180 km east of the town of Moyobamba, the USGS said.

There were local reports of electric power cuts in the cities of Iquitos and Tarapoto, Amazonian towns in the Loreto region of the country. Pictures and videos online also showed some cracked and damaged walls, homes shaking and a collapsed bridge.

In neighboring Ecuador, the quake was strongest near Yantzaza, in that country´s remote and sparsely populated Amazon region, causing momentary power outages.

Ecuadorian officials reported at least seven people injured, as well as mudslides and minor damage to homes. The country´s oil and mining infrastructure was operating normally, Ecuadorian Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner said on Twitter.

]]> <![CDATA[EU Elections: Far-right Make Gains Amid Hopeful Green Surge]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 14:26:18 -04:00 Germany's Green party doubled its share of the vote in Sunday's European Parliament election, leaping into second place behind Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and above the center-left Social Democrats.


EU Parliament Elections: A Far-right Takeover?

The far-right Alternative for Germany showed gains to 10.5 percent as Merkel's party shed nine percentage points from five years ago but Europeans looking for signs of an expect nationalist surge will be focused on results in countries where voting ends later - notably in France at 1800 GMT and Italy at 2100 GMT.

Britain, which voted Thursday but will publish results only after the Italians draw four days of elections across the 28-nation bloc to a close, is also expected to return a large number of anti-EU MEPs. These, however, may not hold their seats for long as the British negotiate to leave the Union.

Such indications so far tend to bolster hopes among Brussels officials that hostile-to-Europe, populist parties may fall short of their greatest ambition to form a solid bloc of 20 percent of the 751-seat chamber. That figure could, combined with milder eurosceptics, see 30 percent of seats held by lawmakers bent on thwarting mainstream leaders' plans for closer EU integration.

In the Netherlands, which also voted Thursday, an upstart anti-immigration party came only fourth with 11 percent, according to an exit poll, having been seen as a potential winner. The centre-left staged an unexpected comeback, helped by former Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans leading its EU-wide campaign.

In Austria, the party that took a lead in the renaissance of the far-right across the continent took a hammering, a projection showed. The far-right Freedom Party crashed out of government last week when a video emerged of its leader seeking favor from a supposed Russian oligarch in return for potential public contracts.

The party scored 17.5 percent, some six points below where it was polling before the scandal broke. The ruling centre-right of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz scored better by a similar margin.

However, in Hungary, the eurosceptic party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has led battles against Brussels over immigration and attempts to limit media and judicial freedoms, was on track to beat pre-vote poll expectations, a survey found.

In Germany, the biggest member state and one of 21 countries that voted Sunday, an exit poll for public broadcaster ARD showed the Greens on 22 percent, Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their conservative allies on 28 percent, down eight percentage points from 2014, and the SPD slumping nearly 12 points to 15.5%.

The poll for public broadcaster ARD bore out predictions of a "green wave" that could push climate and environmental issues up the agenda in Brussels and bring the Greens into a possible four-party, pro-EU coalition at European level.

On a night when German political attention was focused on the CDU's narrow defeat of Merkel's national coalition partner the SPD in the small city-state of Bremen, a left-wing bastion, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) raised its share of the EU vote by 3.4 percentage points to 10.5 percent.


Far-right Parties Could Double Seats in EU Vote With Steve Bannon's Puppeteering: Poll

Initial indications showed turnout was up in most countries, giving hope to EU officials who see an end to a 40-year run of declining participation as a mark of Europeans waking up to the importance of the EU legislature.

However, it could also reflect an increasingly angry debate in many European countries. Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally is challenging for first place in France against President Emmanuel Macron's avowedly pro-EU new party.

The anti-immigration League of Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini could find itself the biggest single party in the EU legislature if it can top the 28 seats polls indicate have been won by Merkel's Christian Democrats and their allies.

As the European Parliament in Brussels prepared for the EU-wide count, Brussels police detained dozens of "yellow vest" protesters, part of a movement that began in France to voice discontent with the political establishment.

And outside the Belgian capital, a new far-right surge was evident in a national election which also took place on Sunday. The far-right Vlaams Belang surpassed expectations in the richer half of the country, running second in wealthy Flanders.

The European Parliament election will usher in weeks and possibly months of hard bargaining in Brussels over who will run EU institutions.

The Parliament as an institution has insisted that one of its own winning members should succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the executive European Commission. But many national leaders, who will meet over dinner in Brussels on Tuesday, have said they will not be bound by that demand.

]]> <![CDATA[Four Killed, Seven Injured in 3 Explosions in Nepali Capital: Police]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 14:01:16 -04:00 Four people were killed and seven others injured on Sunday in three separate explosions in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, and police said they suspected a Maoist splinter group may have been responsible.

"Three people were killed on the spot and the fourth one died while undergoing treatment at a hospital," police official Shyam Lal Gyawali said, adding that the nature of the blasts was under investigation.

One person was killed in an explosion inside a house in the Ghattekulo residential area in the heart of the city.

"I heard a big noise and rushed to the spot to find the walls of a house had developed cracks due to the impact of the blast," 17-year-old student Govinda Bhandari told Reuters at the site of the first blast.

The second blast took place near a hairdresser's in the Sukedhara area on the outskirts of the city, where three people were killed.

The third blast, a crude device, went off near a brick kiln in the Thankot area of Kathmandu, injuring two people, police said.

All of the seven injured people were taken to hospital.

A Reuters photographer at the site of the second blast said it had shattered the door and window panes of the shop and the area had been sealed off by the army.

Gyawali, the police official, said they suspect the blasts may have been the work of a splinter group of former Maoist rebels who are opposed to the government for arresting its supporters. "A pamphlet from the group has been found at the site of the first blast," Gyawali said.

The house was used to make improvised or crude explosive devices by activists from the group, he said, adding that one of the injured people was a supporter.

Nepal emerged from a decade-long Maoist civil war in 2006 and the main group of the former rebels has joined the party that runs the government now.

The breakaway group of former rebels carried out a similar blast in Kathmandu in February, in which one person was killed and two others were injured. No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday's blasts.


]]> <![CDATA[Ilhan Omar Comes Out Against Abortion Ban Bills]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 13:12:09 -04:00 The United States Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asked women to stand up and speak up while slamming anti-abortion bills being passed across the country.


Anti-Abortion Laws Are Killing, Torturing Women

“So today I ask every woman in this country, no matter her age, her race, her political affiliation to stand with me, to stand with us, to stand up and tell those who challenge our voice, and our place, and our right to decide for ourselves to not be silent, to speak up, and to reclaim their right to choose,” Ilhan Omar said speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday a week after Alabama passed a blanket abortion bill even in the cases of rape or incest.

Under the law, those performing abortions would be committing a felony, punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison, although a woman who receives an abortion would not be held criminally liable.

“Religious fundamentalists are currently trying to manipulate state laws in order to impose their beliefs on an entire society,” the representative said. “All with complete disregard for voices and the rights of American women.”

She slammed the laws by saying that this is a way to “criminalize women for simply existing” and rejecting attempts to be controlled by society.

Texas has proposed to even allow capital punishment for women seeking an abortion which would be considered human rights abuse by the U.S. if any other country proposed the same according to Omar.

“But because it is happening here with the support of the ultra-conservative religious right, we call it religious freedom. It’s simply unthinkable.”


Google Granted $150K for Ads to Anti-Abortion Group: Report

She also said that when the “so-called religious politicians” talk about freedom and choice when the issue is their own lives but brings in religion to control others.

Omar highlighted that this week women in the country are celebrating the centenary of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Adopted in 1920, the 19th amendment was a result of the suffragette movement in the U.S. and abolished denying the right to vote to citizens on the basis of sex.

“How could it be that an entire century has passed and we are still forced to fight for our rights as women, as human beings, and as Americans?” asked the congresswoman.

The country has seen widespread protests against anti-abortion bills across the U.S. for the past few weeks since Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Alabama banned abortions.

The first four states prohibit abortion after a heartbeat can be found in an embryo. Many experts say that this can be as early as six weeks at which point most women don’t even know that they are pregnant.

Ilhan Omar also raised the fallacy in the arguments of legislators in favor of the abortion ban. According to her, the bans are not “simply about their care or concern for life.”

If they really cared about children, then the politicians would also be concerned about detained migrant children and the ones dying in camps across the U.S. border or the homeless ones according to the representative. 

Since December, at least five migrant children have died in the U.S. border custody.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution and Warmongering 'Pacifists']]> Sun, 26 May 2019 11:11:43 -04:00  “Oh, I am against military intervention!” goes a “pacifist” narrative heard in the North that serves as a pretext for a statement on Venezuela. This prelude consoles the soul, clears the liberal conscience and strives to maintain the desired – but increasingly elusive – “progressive” academic, journalistic and political credentials.


Timeline of Half a Decade of US Economic War Against Venezuela

However, the “pacifism” dealt with here has nothing to do with Norway’s recent gesture to seek a peaceful solution. The government of President Nicolás Maduro is of course fully involved in this latest attempt at negotiations. In fact, the Venezuelan government has been proposing this throughout the crisis.

For example, on May 1, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as one of the main architects of this “pacifist” narrative along with John Bolton and President Trump, said, “Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do…We’re trying to do everything we can to avoid violence… We’d prefer a peaceful transition of government….”

There is only one reason the U.S. has so far not been able to take the military option off the table and put it into action. It is not because it has any qualms about military invasion of other countries, but rather because it has failed miserably in its over-ambitious attempt to break up the civilian-military alliance, an explicit precondition for the military option, at least for the time being.

However, as far as Washington is concerned, the economic war option has not only always been on the table, but it has been ferociously applied. After the 2013 election of President Nicolás Maduro following the death of Hugo Chávez, the U.S. supported the all too often violent opposition protests against the legal election, resulting in a pretext for President Obama’s Venezuela legislation in 2014, designed to sanction individuals in the Bolivarian Republic as a lever of economic punishment with the goal of creating hurdles for Chavista political officials and a section of the state.

In March 2015, Obama extended this policy by declaring Venezuela a “threat to U.S. national security,” opening the door for additional individual sanctions. Trump expanded this further into collective economic sanctions and full-blown economic war. As the noted international writer/academic Vijay Prashad, influential in the U.S. left, has written, “Obama forged the spear; Trump has thrown it at the heart of Venezuela.”


Oslo To Host New Round of Talks Between Venezuela, Opposition

The Trump-led economic war against Venezuela especially hits the key petroleum industry.

According to an April 2019 study published in the U.S. by noted U.S. economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs, these and other economic sanctions “reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths." 

They go on to argue that "All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans…. We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017–2018; and that these sanctions would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the U.S. is a signatory.”

The Venezuelan government claims that the war also includes no fewer than three electrical grid sabotages in March 2019 (March 7–14, March 29 and March 30). Coupled with this were three coup attempts, on January 23, February 23 and April 30. All three were met with multiple and widespread opposition in the streets by Chavismo to defend the revolution. However, one can imagine how this mass mobilization affects the already-battered economy and the “normal” running of what has become a very difficult life.

Moreover, the U.S.-led media war against Maduro and Chavismo is one of the most ferocious against any revolutionary leader in recent history.

On May 16, after a one-month physical standoff, the Trump Administration ordered a police invasion of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC, arresting four members of the embassy protection collective who were there at the invitation of the government of Venezuela, all while the “pacifists” continued their silence on the war in the very city where many of them live and work.
What then remains of this “pacifist” narrative in opposition to an eventual military intervention and in favor of a “peaceful transition” while remaining silent on the current multi-faceted war?

The “pacifists” provide complicit apologetics for Washington’s rhetoric on “peaceful transition” by framing opposition to U.S. policy on Venezuela solely in terms of avoiding military intervention while failing to denounce U.S.-backed coup attempts and economic warfare.

This policy appears to be designed to provoke a social implosion in Venezuela so that the U.S. can set up a client government without ever having put one military boot on the ground. Is this the new war? If it is, then this type of war is not that new.

Was this not the goal of the U.S. in 1960 as the guiding line of the blockade against Cuba, that is, to create “disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship” as indicated by the Department of State in 1960, so that people revolt against the government? And was this not the scenario that unfolded to overthrow the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973? This new regime change wine in old bottles is just as lethal today as it was yesterday. The U.S. does not learn from history.

Arnold August is a Canadian journalist and lecturer, the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion and CubaU.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond. He collaborates with many web sites, television and radio broadcasts based in Latin America, Cuba, Europe, North America and the Middle East including TeleSur. Twitter   Facebook Website:

]]> <![CDATA[4 Latin American Films Receive Awards in Cannes Film Festival]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 10:48:05 -04:00 This year’s Cannes Film Festival saw films from Brazil, Chile, and Guatemala receiving multiple awards as they discussed political and social issues related to historical events. 


Guatemalan Film on Massacres of Indigenous Mayan Wins Award at Cannes Film Festival

A documentary by Chilean director Patricio Guzman won the prize for best documentary. “La cordillera de los sueños” (The Mountain Range of Dreams) is a documentary about the recent history of the country and childhood memories of the narrator, i.e., the director himself.

The documentary talks about the 1973 coup d'état carried out by Augusto Pinochet, as well as the repression during the dictatorship.

With this documentary, Guzman finished the trilogy that began with “Nostalgia de la Luz” (Nostalgic for the Light 2010) and “El botón de nácar” (The Pearl Button 2015).

Guzman left Chile when Pinochet came to power and lived in exile for the past 40 years.

Guzman’s film shared the prestigious L’oeil d'Or award with the film “For Sama” by Waad al Kataeb and Edward Watts.

"The Chilean Patricio Guzmán won the "L'oeil d'Or" award for the best documentary for "The Cordillera de los Sueños", in this film he tackles the Chile of his childhood and the current, with the focus also on the years of the military dictatorship."

At the closing ceremony of the prestigious film festival held in France, “Bacurau”, a film by Brazilian filmmakers Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles won the jury prize.

The two Brazilian directors received the recognition and dedicated it to their country, as well as to all the workers of science, education, and culture, at a time when the Brazilian government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is attempting to clamp down on social sciences in public education. 

Another Brazilian film by director Karim Ainouz, "The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao", a tale of two sisters and their struggles in a male-dominated society in 1950s-era Brazil, won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes, which aims to shine a light on more unusual movies.

Guatemalan film “Nuestros Madres” (“Our Mothers”) by Cesar Diaz won the prize of the Society of Authors and Dramatic Composers (SACD) of the Critics' Week, a parallel section.

Diaz highlights the massacres of Indigenous Mayan population. The function film tells the story of a young researcher trying to identify the victims buried in mass graves during the 1960 -1966 civil war in Guatemala which left 200,000 dead or disappeared.

]]> <![CDATA[Libya's Haftar Vows to Continue Offensive to Capture Tripoli]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 07:25:56 -04:00 The leader of the Benghazi-based Libyan National Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar,  has ruled out a ceasefire in the northwestern part of the country, despite pressure from the United Nations.


'No Ceasefire in Libya Yet,' General Haftar Tells Macron

Speaking to the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, Haftar said his forces will continue their push to capture the Libyan capital city, Tripoli, amid ongoing warnings from countries like Italy, Qatar, and Turkey. 

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) began an offensive in early April to take Tripoli from fighters loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) which has the backing of the United Nations.

The LNA, which is allied to a parallel government in the east, has not been able to breach the southern defenses of Tripoli. The fighting has killed at least 510 people, forced 75,000 out of their homes and trapped thousands of migrants in detention centers.

“Of course, the political solution is still the goal. But to get back to politics, we must first finish with militias,” Haftar told the newspaper.

Haftar also said the head of U.N. mission to Libya, Ghassan Salame, was no longer impartial. “Partition of Libya is maybe what our adversaries want. This is maybe what Ghassan Salame also wants.”

The flare-up in the conflict in Libya - which has been gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 - began in early April, when the LNA advanced on the capital.

Even though France and other Western countries officially back the Libyan government, some have supported Haftar as they see him as a bulwark against Islamist militias in the country.

Macron had asked Haftar in a meeting held in Paris this week to make a public step toward a ceasefire, without much luck, a French official told Reuters.

]]> <![CDATA[Massive Earthquake Hits Ecuador and Peru]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 05:49:10 -04:00 A massive earthquake has hit several countries in the northwestern region of South America this morning. 


Powerful Earthquake Reported in the Philippines

Measured at 8.0 on the Richter Scale, the earthquake's epicenter was reported in northwestern Peru. The neighboring countries of Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador were also effected by the earthquake. 

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno released a statement via his official Twitter, acknowledging the situation and the current issues that have arisen as a result of the quake. "I am aware of the information on the strong quake recorded this morning. The vice president @ ottosonnenh has already communicated with the prefect of Zamora Chinchipe. Power cuts have been reported in Yantzaza. Compatriots, it is important to remain informed by official channels."

The death toll and carnage caused by today's earthquake is still unknown at this present time.

The western coast of South America is located inside the seismic region known as the "Ring of Fire". This region is more susceptible to earthquakes and tsunamis than anywhere else in the world. 

]]> <![CDATA[Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Issues Resignation]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 03:24:16 -04:00 The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O'Neill, announced his resignation on Sunday after serving the country for seven years.  


Powerful Quake Rattles Residents on Papua New Guinea Island

Prior to his resignation on Sunday, O'Neill was facing calls for his resignation for weeks over a range of issues. But after several more defections on Friday he accepted he did not have the support to continue.

O'Neill stated during his resignation speech that he would hand over office to former Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan. "It is important that we maintain a certain amount of stability. We have heard the calls and we have agreed for a change of government," Mr O'Neill told reporters in the capital Port Moresby, according to Papua New Guinea (PNG) broadcaster EMTV.

Sir Julius said he wanted a smooth transition to ensure stability in the South Pacific nation of 7.3 million people.

"I want to thank the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill for all that he has done to bring this country (to where it is) today," he told journalists."Men and women of Papua New Guinea... we have very short memories. Tomorrow you will look back and see all the things that he has done. But like life itself, you have just got to move on."

]]> <![CDATA[Ireland's Green Party Surges in European Elections]]> Sun, 26 May 2019 01:27:56 -04:00 Ireland’s Green Party has recently surged in European and local elections, an exit poll showed on Saturday, putting it in line to take its first seats in the European Parliament for 20 years and make the biggest gains in county and city councils.


Irish Exit Polls for EU Elections Show Divorce Reform Referendum Will Win Big

According to the Reuters Agency, the Green Party is set to win as many as three of the 13 European seats up for grabs and increase their local vote to 9% from less than 2% five years ago, according to a RED C exit poll for RTE/TG4, a showing that would put them in contention for government formation if repeated at a parliamentary poll.

After 90 of the 949 council seats were filled at 1000 GMT, early results suggested The Greens’ performance was in line with the exit poll. In Dublin, some of their candidates topped polls by significant margins.

“We cannot yet count our chickens, but the exit polls for the Irish Greens are extremely encouraging,” Irish Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said in a statement issued by the European Greens.

European Greens co-lead candidate Bas Eickhout talked of a “green wave” rolling on to Irish shores from the Netherlands, where GroenLinks’ (GreenLeft’s) share of the vote rose to 10.5%, according to an exit poll there.

While Ireland does not hold a significant share of the 751-seat EU chamber - and will initially send 11 MEPs until Britain actually leaves the bloc - an ebb in support for mainstream parties is raising hopes among Europe’s Greens that they could act as kingmakers.

“It is those climate strikes, it is those young people standing up and saying we have to protect our future,” Ryan told national broadcaster RTE.

The exit poll showed that almost 90% of voters feel that the government needs to prioritize climate change more.

]]> <![CDATA[Covergirl Brings 'Full Spectrum' to Caribbean Women of Color]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 23:58:21 -04:00 Covergirl is taking its “Full Spectrum” collection to the Caribbean, launching its new line in Jamaica Saturday with its variety of shades, made especially for women of color.

Muslim Blogger Rejects Beauty Brand Award Promoted by Gal Gadot

In a “glitz n’ glam” event, the new collection took to the floor with women of all skin tones participating in the lavish unveiling to the rhythm of Jamaican tunes sung by Dancehall artise Tifa, Covergirl’s first Jamaican ambassador.

Models, beauty connoisseurs, artists, and advisors crowded the busy venue in Kingston’s Terra Nova Hotel. Samples and makeovers were distributed generously, while shoppers experienced Covergirl’s newest product, which Jamaican Brand Manager, Andrea Blake, said is “scientifically designed for women of color.”

For years, women with darker skin tones have been overlooked by the beauty industry. Thankfully, they are finally getting the attention they deserve with brands like Mac, Make Up For Ever, Fenty Beauty, and Il Makiage leading the way and changing the face of makeup and beauty to make room for diversity.

Global R&D Face Manager of CoverGirl, Johanne Richard, told Reginery29, “I come from a Haitian background and skin tones in my family run the gamut. So many of my friends and family have told me stories about mixing foundation shades, so we really wanted to create a collection that addressed the special nuances of our skin.

“Most women of color are put into the same category, but we all have different undertones and our complexions are all really different.

"Through our research we were able to get a better understanding of the undertones of dark skin — not only to deliver on shades but on finish, too," Richard said.

Sold at an affordable price, Covergirl’s newest collection boasts of 20 liquid foundations for medium-to-deep skin tones, powder foundation, mattifying primer, eyeshadow, brightening concealer, eyeliners, lipstick, among a host of others. The Full Spectrum products first hit U.S. stores in December 2018 and received mixed reviews, but many were excited about low prices and high quality.


]]> <![CDATA[Oslo To Host New Talks Between Venezuela Gov't, Opposition]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 23:11:22 -04:00 The Venezuelan government and the opposition will soon be reuniting for a second round of negotiations in Norway, said the Norwegian Foreign Ministry Saturday.

Timeline of Half a Decade of US Economic War Against Venezuela

“We announce that the representatives of the main political actors in Venezuela have decided to return to Oslo next week to continue a process facilitated by Norway,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We reiterate our commitment to continue supporting the search for an agreed-upon solution between the parties in Venezuela,” it added.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro responded on Twitter, thanking the Scandinavian country for extending its hospitality and hosting the discussions.

“I thank the Government of Norway for its efforts to advance the dialogues for peace and stability in Venezuela. Our delegation is leaving for Oslo with a willingness to work on the agreed comprehensive agenda and to advance the construction of good agreements,” Maduro wrote.

Earlier this month the Bolivarian president said he would "never give up" on his defense of the national sovereignty or his efforts to "dialogue with the Venezuelan opposition and to map out a peaceful agenda for the country."

]]> <![CDATA[Tens of Thousands of Israelis Protest Immunity for Netanyahu]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 21:51:20 -04:00 Thousands of Israelis protested Saturday against legislative steps that could grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution and limit the power of the country's Supreme Court.


Minority Coalition for Netanyahu as Liberman Refuses to Join

The demonstration in Tel Aviv was attended by nearly all opposition parties, a rare show of unity for Israel's splintered political system. Police did not say how many people attended. A Reuters photographer estimated about 20,000 were present, while organizers put the figure at 80,000.

Benny Gantz, the former Israeli army chief who ran against Netanyahu in the election, addressed crowds at the rally. He said Israel's dream was "falling apart" under Netanyahu's leadership.

In office for the past decade, Netanyahu won a fifth term in April despite an announcement by Israel's attorney general in February that he intended to charge him with fraud and bribery. The prime minister is a suspect in three graft cases.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing, calling the allegations a political witch-hunt. The right-wing leader has said that with a renewed public mandate to govern he has no plans to resign, even if charged.

Although the prime minister is under no legal obligation to step down if charged, Netanyahu loyalists in his Likud party have pledged to seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution for him while he is in office.

Expecting legal challenges, they also have been advocating legislation that would annul any Supreme Court ruling rescinding immunity.

Since the election, Netanyahu has not said whether he would seek immunity.

On May 13, Netanyahu said on Twitter that his policy had always been to preserve a strong and independent Supreme Court, but that changes were needed in order to restore balance between Israel's executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

The opposition has described any attempt to shield Netanyahu or put limitations on Israel's highest court as threats to Israeli democracy.

Yair Lapid, one of the leaders of the main opposition party, the centrist Blue and White, said on Saturday the demonstration that Netanyahu was trying to crush the Supreme Court in order to keep out of prison. "He's destroying the country," Lapid said. "We won't let him."

Benny Gantz, the former Israeli army chief who ran against Mr Netanyahu in the election, addressed crowds at the rally. He said Israel's dream was "falling apart" under Mr Netanyahu's leadership.

Netanyahu is trying to form a new coalition with right-wing, ultranationalist and religious parties that would give him control of 65 of the 120 seats in parliament, which has already been sworn in.

Most of the parties expected to join his coalition have expressed support for granting immunity to Netanyahu and limiting the powers of the Supreme Court, branded by some on the right as too liberal and interventionist.

However, Netanyahu has only until Wednesday to produce a government and he has not yet secured a deal with any party. Negotiations came to an impasse this week when the factions failed to agree on a new conscription law for Israel's military.

According to Israeli law, if Netanyahu fails to form a government by May 29 the president can ask another member of the Knesset legislature to try.

No political party has ever won an outright majority in Israel's Knesset, making coalition governments the norm. Coalition talks have often been protracted with deals signed at the very last minute.

Netanyahu is due to attend a pre-trial hearing over the graft charges with the attorney general, set for October.


]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Speed Walker Takes Gold, Makes South American History]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 21:24:01 -04:00 Ecuadorean athlete Karla Jaramillo broke records Saturday as South America’s fastest speed walker after taking first place in an international two-kilometer race in Lima, Peru.

Mexico: AMLO Promotes Baseball, ‘King of Sports’

Jaramillo shined during this year’s South American Athletics Championship, winning a gold medal for her native country and completing the race in one hour and 30 minutes with 52 seconds. a new national and South American record.

"I am very happy and grateful to God, my family and my trainer Giovan Delgado to achieve this triumph. The medal is dedicated to my son Mael, who is the engine of my life, " said Jaramillo.

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno lauded the speed walker on her success through his social media account, tweeting: “Overjoyed with happiness ... Congratulations!”

Jaramillo is now eligible to participate in Japan’s Tokyo 2020, Doha-Qatar 2019 World Championship, and the Pan American Games in Lima — which she says she plans to debut next.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico: Gunmen Kill Morena Candidate in Oaxaca, Third This Year]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 21:05:12 -04:00 Mayoral precandidate Braulio Marquez Garcia was reportedly gunned down Friday around midnight in Oaxaca while on his way home from a fishing event with his family.

Mexico: Another Leader From Morena Party Killed

Police say the politician was driving with his wife and children down a highway when they were intercepted and forced to pull over by a white car. The male drivers shot Marquez and disappeared.

Paramedics arriving at the scene tried to revive him to no avail. His family was shaken, but unharmed.

The death comes just five days after the politician launched his campaign for mayor of San Juan Colotepec under the banner of Mexico's National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party, the party of current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. This killing brings the number of members from the leftist party in Oaxaca to three since January, following Cutberto Porcayo of San Jose del Progreso and Alejandro Aparicio of Tlaxiaco.  

Since July 2018, at least 8 leaders from the Morena party have been killed following the last elections. A party leader, Yeidckol Polevnsky indicated in January that 37 others from her party have been killed in the last five years.

The attorney general has initiated an investigation and photos of the vehicle are in circulation.

Mexico's political sector often falls victim to deadly violence. The consulting firm Etellekt, which specializes in risk, political violence, and public policy reported 175 politicians murdered between September 2017 and August 2018 in Mexico. Of the total 850 attacks registered, 81 percent were against opposition party members.

Etellekt registered a record number of attacks during the past elections, with 48 candidates and precandidates murdered.

The states with the highest rates of poverty had also the highest violence levels.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia's AG Says Santrich Case 'Blown Out of Proportion']]> Sat, 25 May 2019 19:51:00 -04:00 Colombia’s Attorney General appeared Saturday before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) to argue its appeal against a JEP’s review board’s ruling on May 15 which released Jesus Santrich and guaranteed the former FARC leader protection from extradition.


Colombia's Supreme Court to Weigh on Case of FARC Leader

The Public Ministry announced its intention to appeal the ruling in the case of Seuxis Paucias Hernández Solarte, or Jesus Santrich, as soon as it was carried out, on grounds that the jurisdiction for such a guarantee belongs to the Supreme Court. The office is also arguing that the crime for which the extradition was requested and for which Santrich was arrested, was committed after Dec. 1, 2016, the day the Colombian government considers the start of the peace accords.

The Attorney General of Colombia Fernando Carrillo then gave a press conference before the JEP in Bogota in which he outlined the office’s reasons for the appeal. In his speech, he claims that the “Attorney General’s office hasn’t and wouldn’t ever hope for the JEP to fail, and that “the peace process is worth more than just an individual case.”

The top attorney also said that the guarantee of protection from extradition is not a “fundamental right” but rather “a parole benefit” and that people shouldn’t “blow it out of proportion.”

The Colombian government arrested a leader of the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons (FARC) in April 2018 at the request of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration who accused him of narcotics trafficking. He had a tumultuous time in prison with the courts denying him his right to habeas corpus three times, essentially holding him in detention for almost a year without proving any charges.

During that year, Santrich went on hunger strike for 41 days and was injured several times. The JEP issued an order on May 15 to release Santrich but he was immediately rearrested at the prison gates by Colombia’s ESMAD forces on new charges.

Referring to the illegal nature of Santrich's detention FARC has issued several statements asserting that the peace accord, as well as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, have been the “subject of multiple attacks meant to undermine their character, limit their scope and ignore their capacities” by the Colombian government.

In addition, former FARC members all over Colombia, are being killed at alarming rates despite having laid down their arms in search of peace,


]]> <![CDATA[South Africa: Ramaphosa to Announce New Cabinet Sunday]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 20:07:13 -04:00 Newly elected South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will announce his cabinet Sunday, opting for a more intimate, affordable and efficient team of advisers than seen in previous administrations, teleSUR correspondent Matuba Mahlatjie reports.

 South Africa: Ramaphosa Assumes Office Vowing Social Justice

Ramaphosa made the announcement to thousands of cheering supporters gathered in Loftus stadium in Pretoria, where the inauguration ceremony was being held. The large number of attendees forced organizers to move the ceremony from the traditional locale in the state Union Building, where President Mandela and Thabo Mbeki were inaugurated in 1994 and 1999.

Delegates and representatives from across the East African region were present at the ceremony in a show of solidarity with the large southern nation.

Although Vice President David Mabuza was also sworn in, he requested an early departure from the ceremony due to some bad blood with the current party, the African National Congress (ANC).

Tension surrounds Ramaphosa’s incoming administration as his supporters butt heads with loyalists of former President Jacob Zuma, who is currently on trial for corruption charges.

The next five years may be a turbulent time for the new president, but he has promised to boost economic growth, fight corruption and foster social justice. Many believe the new cabinet will be a sign of how Ramaphosa is going to deliver his promises.Many believe the new cabinet will be a sign of how Ramaphosa is going to deliver his promises.

]]> <![CDATA[Malta's Armed Forces Rescue 216 Migrants, Brings Them to Malta ]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 17:54:06 -04:00 A Maltese armed forces patrol boat picked up more than 200 migrants from two dinghies in the Mediterranean and was bringing them to Malta Saturday, a spokesman said.


Italian Police Seize Migrant Boat, Opening Way For Disembarkment

At least one pregnant woman and a number of children were believed to be among the 216 rescued migrants. Their nationality was not known.

An AFM spokesman said a patrol boat had been deployed to a sinking dinghy south of Malta Friday. After picking up the migrants, it was diverted to a second dinghy while on its way to Malta, picking up those migrants as well.

The armed forces said that with good weather conditions prevailing, departures of migrants from Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria had increased in the past two days, resulting in 12 migrant boats arriving in Sicily, Sardinia, and Lampedusa.

The Libyan coast guard said Friday it had rescued 290 migrants from inflatable rafts near the capital Tripoli.

Malta, which was holding a vote for the European Union parliament Saturday, the results of which could be driven in some countries by fear of migration, has also appealed to the EU for help in dealing with the flow of migrants.

The island of 450,000 people, which by official accounts is doing well economically is a common destination for refugees and migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa.

More than 500 migrants have reached Malta this year.

According to a study commissioned by the Ministry of Social Dialogue and Civil Liberties in Malta, the population "remains lukewarm or hostile to the presence of foreigners, although some make a distinction between asylum seekers and richer foreigners."

"Attitudes towards foreigners tends to be selective and utilitarian, with most respondents viewing foreigners either as a source of investment, especially in property or as an invisible army of labor which takes those jobs which are not wanted by Maltese."

]]> <![CDATA[NIKE Waives Performance-pay Penalties For 12 Months ]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 15:20:26 -04:00 The massive sports company Nike has agreed to not penalize women athletes they have contracts with for having a baby.


Indigenous Guna Force Nike to Drop Shoe With 'Stolen Design'

Under pressure from criticisms from the women athletes, who include runners such as Alysia Montaño, Kara Goucher, Phoebe Wright and Allyson Felix, Nike said in a statement Friday to The New York Times that it would waive performance-pay reductions for 12 months for athletes “who decide to have a baby.” This comment goes further than Nike’s May 17 public statement saying that in the future the company would “include written terms” for pregnancies into its contracts with female athletes.

The company came under fire earlier this month when the NYT began publishing opinion videos of current and former Nike-sponsored runners such as Alysia Montaño, Kara Goucher, Phoebe Wright and Allyson Felix who all said they had to decide between having children or having their pay reduced for taking time to have kids.

“We’ve recognized Nike, Inc., can do more, and there is an important opportunity for the sports industry collectively to evolve to better support female athletes,” Nike spokeswoman, Sandra Carreon-John, said to the NYT in an email May 24.

These sought-after Nike contracts makeup most of an athlete’s income. However, there are strings attached and if an athlete doesn’t meet a minimum of events or performance thresholds, for whatever reason, including pregnancy, they could be docked pay.

In one video, Montaño, a middle-distance runner who ran in the 2014 U.S.A. Track and Field championships eight months pregnant, contrasted Nike’s marketing rhetoric with its treatment of pregnant athletes.

“If we want to be an athlete and a mother, well that’s just crazy,” Montaño said in the video, referring to Nike’s “Dream Crazier” commercial.

The NYT videos and a report even caught the attention of United States Congress members Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) who wrote to Nike asking for an explanation as to why the billion dollar company stopped paying some athletes during their pregnancies.

Serena Shows Her Admiration for Colin Kaepernick Over Nike Ad

“We are deeply concerned by recent reports that Nike has reduced sponsorship payments, or ceased payment entirely, for female athletes during their pregnancy and postpartum recovery,” the legislators wrote in a letter to Nike’s chief executive, Mark Parker, obtained by The Washington Post, wrote the WP earlier this week.

In a memo addressed to all Nike employees Friday, Amy Montagne, the company's general manager for global properties, said Nike realized the performance thresholds weighed heavier on female athletes who became pregnant than males and that the company had begun creating a yet-to-be-released official maternity policy.

“This has been a humbling event,” Montagne wrote of the criticism.

]]> <![CDATA[Common Ground on Brexit Elusive for UK Tories Running for PM]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 18:12:19 -04:00 After Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement June 7 of her resignation, the battle for Tory leadership intensified Saturday with Brexit as the main point of friction among the conservative candidates.


May's Potential Replacements Ready Portfolios for PM Election

Aspirants to the next United Kingdom's office of Prime Minister include the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, who said that his party needs "to leave behind the fruitless policy" carried out in the last three years and get a Brexit deal different than PM May's.

This conservative politician ruled out convening early elections as a way to solve Brexit-related problems, arguing that those elections would be "disastrous for the country" and could turn the Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn into Prime Minister "before Christmas."

Other politicians who aspire to be elected as Prime Minister are the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, MP Boris Johnson, and former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey. According to British analysts, their race for power will inevitably be defined by their approach on accomplishing Brexit.

One of them, Johnson, is in favor of withdrawing from the EU on Brexit's latest deadline of Oct 31 with or without an agreement.

"The best way to get a good deal is to prepare for a Brexit without an agreement," he said Friday at a conference in Switzerland held shortly after May's announcement.

In reaction, however, Stewart confessed Saturday that he will not work in a cabinet led by Johnson.

"I could not serve in a government whose agenda is pushing the country into a Brexit without an agreement," he said and argued that such option is a "harmful and dishonest" scenario which would leave the U.K. in "limbo."

Stewart argues that he would be able to accomplish Brexit and "unify the country," which remains tremendously divided on this issue.

Another Tory politician, Amber Rudd, said she would "be very concerned" if the next Prime Minister is someone "too enthusiastic" about leaving the EU without an agreement.

"It is very important that whoever assumes the leadership looks for a solution and tries to work in order to see where the parliamentary majority is," she warned.

Before announcing she would leave her office on June 7, PM May unsuccessfully tried, on three occasions, to get parliamentarians to approve her EE-negotiated Brexit agreement.


]]> <![CDATA[French Yellow Vests Protest Day Before EU Polls Announced ]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 14:23:35 -04:00 Yellow Vest protesters gathered Saturday for a 28th round of demonstrations across France vowing not to vote for French mainstream parties in the European Parliament (EP) elections that began May 23.


We Are Not Fooled': 1,400 French Artists Back Yellow Vests

"We're going to get rid of Macron. Tomorrow he's going to get a thrashing and then I'm going to tear up my voter registration card," a protester told Reuter as he was marching through the Pere Lachise Cemetery in Paris.

A 72-year-old retired woman said she won’t vote for either President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic On The Move (RM) party or Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (NR) because along with being against the president's neoliberal policies, "we're against the far-right, it scares the crap out of everyone."

A similar opinion was held by a 23-year-old factory worker, Antoine, who summoned his fellow citizens to vote wisely.

"People must vote intelligently in the EU election. Of course that means not voting for Macron and all the parties that seem close to him," said Antoine who added that votes should go "for the people, for ecology and for everything that seems humane."

Voting for EPs across the 28 EU member states began May 23 and will run till May 26, the day the French elect their Euro Parliamentarians (MPs).

According to the latest polls, Le Pen's anti-EU movement could win more electoral support than Macron's strongly pro-EU party, which would represent further pushback against the French president who has been seriously weakened by six months of massive public demonstrations across the country.

The Yellow Vest movement presented two party lists, "Citizen Evolution" and "Yellow Alliance" for the EU polls. Francis Lalanne, a singer-songwriter who has become the Yellow Alliance's most visible leader, called on the public to reject the Macron-backed candidates.

These alternative lists, however, have not managed to gain much support because, according to national surveys, they will not be able to garner the necessary five percent of votes to send representatives to Brussels, says RFI media.

The Yellow Vests' entrance into electoral politics is happening at a time when 58 percent of EU citizens think that the union, formed in 1973, may disappear in the next 10 to 20 years, according to a study carried out by the European Council of International Relations (ECIR).

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivian Opposition Fails to Unite Against Evo Morales]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 12:17:51 -04:00 Bolivia’s Committee for the Defense of Democracy (Conade), along with other opposition groups, claim to declare a state of emergency after incumbents Evo Morales and Alvaro Garcia Linera announced their reelection bid last week for president and vice president of the nation, respectively.


Bolivia to Provide Housing for Displaced Landslide Victims: Evo

Opposition parties and civic groups met Friday in Santa Cruz, Bolivia,  to also demand the resignation of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), which they have requested several times, because its members sided with the nation’s Constitutional Court to allow Morales to run a third term, a decision also backed by Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Those present at the seven-hour long meeting Friday included Morales’ main opposition candidate and former president, Carlos Mesa, who refused to commit to any alliances with the several other opposition candidates, including Senator Edwin Rodriguez, a vice presidential candidate with the Democracy Party.

Local reports say that when Mesa tried to hurriedly leave the meeting he was met with protesters who shouted at the candidate, "Speak to the people, scoundrel," "Bolivia will condemn you, son of Satan" and "Respond! Are you with Bolivia, are you with democracy?" Mesa was forced to resign in 2005 after popular protests.

Luis Fernando Camacho, President of the Santa Cruz Committee, declared that a "national emergency” had been enacted and that all TSE members should resign and be replaced by May 31.


Evo Morales Implements Wage Raises, Freezes His Own

While opposition factions can't seem to conglomerate, President Morales inaugurated the nation’s first state-run glass packaging factory in southern Bolivia to the congratulations of former Uruguayan president, Jose Mujica.

In a social media video, Mujica said the decision of the Bolivian leader to move ahead with the state of the art factory was "astonishing" and confirms the "leap that Bolivia is making" with its industrialization process.

The new site has the capacity to produce 130 tons of glass bottles per day for juice, beer and soft drink firms.

The ex-president of Uruguay said the glass factory is an example of the  industrialization that Morales has been carrying out for more than 10 years and he hopes it "doesn’t stop" for the modernization of Bolivia, but without losing "its beautiful tradition and sociocultural vision."

]]> <![CDATA[General Qorbani: Iran Can Sink US War Ships ]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 11:55:06 -04:00 One of Iran’s most senior military figures warned the United States that Iran has the capacity to sink its ships in the event of an attack. The comments follow the Pentagon’s sending in three guided-missile destroyer ships close to Iran’s coast.


Iran vs. US: Who Will Win the War ... of Words?

On Saturday, General Morteza Qorbani, senior advisor to Iran’s military command came out with fighting words saying that if the U.S. “commits the slightest stupidity, we will send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes.” He added Iran could achieve this “using two missiles or two new secret weapons.” This assertion was in response to the May 10 arrival of the three U.S. destroyers in the Persian Gulf.

Qorabani's comments heighten concerns over a U.S.-Iran conflict ​​​​​​​that could that could be devastating for the region being that both sides are well-equipped.

U.S. foreign policy analyst, Harry J. Kazianis, Senior Director of Korean Studies at the conservative Washington think tank, The Center for the National Interest, warned about Iran’s missile capabilities saying: “On Iran’s military over the years, one can easily come to the conclusion that Iran’s forces, when confronted close to its shores, would not be easily subdued. What is referred to commonly as the 'tyranny of distance,' combined with Tehran’s growing A2/AD [missile] capabilities, creates an interesting challenge for U.S. warfighters if the unthinkable ever came to pass," said the expert.


Iran vs. US: Who Will Win the War ... of Words?

Tensions have increased between the U.S. and Iran following Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in which Iran agreed to restrict military nuclear development in exchange for easing of US sanctions. Trump, along with other war-hawks within his administration, such as John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, have instead convinced the president to pull out of the deal and tighten economic sanctions in an attempt to force Iran to abandon its nuclear program altogether. Moreover the U.S. is hoping Iran will cease to oppose U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East on issues such as Palestine and Yemen, in which Iran stands firmly against Israeli and Saudi aggressions.  

However, some in Tehran hope that cooler heads will prevail as Iranian Brigadier General Hassan Seifi said Saturday, “We believe rational Americans and their experienced commanders will not let their radical elements lead them into a situation from which it would be very difficult to get out, and that is why they will not enter a war.”


]]> <![CDATA[Thousands of Brazilians Join the 'Free Lula' Campaign]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 13:35:30 -04:00 Members of Brazil's "Free Lula" movement and the Workers' Party (PT) will kick off a nationwide campaign Saturday and Sunday, talking to the public about the lawfare taking place against former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a political prisoner since April 2018.

'Leave Venezuela Alone': Brazil's Lula Tells Trump in Interview

Thousands of volunteers, many of whom are youth and students who have been protesting President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies against education over the past couple of weeks, are participating in online and in-person campaign to support of Lula taking place in dozens of Brazilian cities.

In Maceio in Alagoas state, campaigners will have an art car parade along with the LGBTQ Pride march. In Belem, former presidential candidate Fernando Haddad will join students’ caravans and sessions.

In the State of Sergipe, Free Lula activists will march along Barao Avenue to organize meetings in defense of public education. In Belo Horizonte, organizers to free Lula are painting murals in low-income neighborhoods.

“The ‘Free Lula’ festival will swing Sao Paulo on June 2! Check out the attractions and confirm your attendance at the event!” 

In the city of Porto Alegre, avenues, highways and other public places will be covered in 'Free Lula' banners. Across the State of Espirito Santo, campaign participants will inform people in public places about how right-wing officials in Brazil are using the nation's court system to indict Lula for allegedly accepting bribes during his presidency in the form of a luxury beach house, despite the lack of evidence against him.

In Sao Paulo, the “Free Lula, Free Heart” committee and other grassroots organizations are setting up at the Cohab Raposo fair to promote participation in the June 14th nationwide strike against social security privatization.

PT committees also scheduled artistic, educational and political events in dozens of Brazilian cities, including Campinas, Guaratingueta, Mogi das Cruzes, Tocantins, and Brasilia.

"Help to write letters for Lula. Put a desk in a square in your city. May 25 & 26: All Brazil to the streets to free Lula."

The Worker's Party founder, Lula da Silva, will have spent 413 days in prison by May 25. Earlier this month, the American Association of Jurists (AAJ) categorized him as a 'political prisoner.'

In a recent interview, Lula said that far-right factions are using the law along with illicit actions to keep him in jail and that this hurts not only him, but the entire country.

"The U.S. and Brazilian elites are against the use of 75 percent of [public] funds to be invested in education so that Brazil finally gets past a 200-year [developmental] delay," said the ex-head of state and explained that these funds would be enough to keep "research, technology and health" going in the South American country.

Lula remains in prison regarding a lawsuit against him for which the Odebrecht construction company allegedly gave him a luxurious apartment in exchange for contracts with Petrobras, a state-owned oil company. Lula and the PT deny the corruption charges. 

The AAJ says Lula's sentence "was issued as a consequence of an accusation produced by violating the due process of law, that prejudiced (his) right to a defense, and without evidence." 

]]> <![CDATA[South Africa: Ramaphosa Assumes Office Vowing Social Justice]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 11:05:12 -04:00 The African National Congress (ANC) leader Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in Saturday as president of South Africa at a massive ceremony in Pretoria duing which he promised to boost economic growth, clean up corruption and foster social justice.


South Africa: Cyril Ramaphosa Wins With 57% of Votes

"I pledge here today that I will serve you, I will work with you, side by side, to build the South Africa that we all want and deserve. A new era has dawned in our country," he said at the Loftus Versfeld stadium in front of an audience estimated at 32,000 people.

"I am honored by the confidence you have placed in me, I am aware of the challenges our country faces, but I also recognize that our people is full of hope for a better tomorrow," Ramaphosa told the crowd.

His re-election was possible thanks to the victory of the ANC in the May 8 elections although his party scored its worst results in the last 25 years in light of systemic government corruption and socio-economic problems.

"Despite our most serious efforts, many South Africans still go to bed hungry, many succumb to treatable diseases, many live with intolerable deficiencies.Too many do not work, especially young people," Ramaphosa acknowledged.

Nevertheless, the ANC leader said that challenges are not "insurmountable" and encouraged to build a South Africa without racism or sexism.

"Let us forge a compact for growth and economic opportunities, for productive land and wider opportunities," he said and added "a compact of an efficient, capable and ethical state. A state that is free from corruption."​​

Among the ceremony's guests were presidents of African countries such as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). T​​​​he President of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Moussa Faki Mahamat and Cuba's first vice president Salvador Valdes Mesa were also both on hand to witness Ramaphosa's second swearing in.

Venezuelan's Social and Territorial Socialism Minister, Aristobulo Isturiz, also at the major event, thanked South Africa for its solidarity with his South American nation in the face of increased United States economic sanctions.

"The more our people resist, the more support and solidarity we find in the world," said Isturiz Friday and added, "on behalf of our people and President Nicolas Maduro, we want to thank for the solidarity we find here in South Africa."

Among Ramaphosa's main tasks for his five-years mandate is to increase the nation's economic growth, which reached only 0.8 percent in 2018, and to reduce poverty, which peacked at 56 percent in 2017. High unemployment, which affects 27 percent of the population and keeps South Africa as one of world's most unequal nations, is also on the newly inaugurated president's agenda.

Combating rampant corruption within the ANC and land ownership reform. The announcement of the new cabinet will be a sign of how Ramaphosa is going to deliver his promises.

"The speech was an honest and brutal reflection of South Africa's recent problems. But it was also optimistic," Political Futures Consultancy Director Daniel Silke, told Reuters, adding that "he will be judged on a very high bar and the next step is the cabinet. If it contains any semblance of the dead wood from the past he will be severely critiqued."

]]> <![CDATA[China Unveils Train Prototype Projected to Reach 600Kph]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 08:04:25 -04:00 On Thursday, China unveiled a testing prototype magnetic-levitation train, in the eastern city of Qingdao, that can reach a top speed of 600 kilometers per hour.

Seoul Train Crosses DMZ With Experts to Update North's Rail

The train is developed by China’s state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) and is China’s first high-speed maglev train. The train is expected to eventually transport passengers at speeds of up to 600 kilometers per hour and cutting travel between Beijing and Shanghai by one hour.

"Take Beijing to Shanghai as an example -- counting preparation time for the journey, it takes about 4.5 hours by plane, about 5.5 hours by high-speed rail, and [would only take] about 3.5 hours with [the new] high-speed maglev," CRRC deputy chief engineer Ding Sansan, head of the train's research and development team, said in a statement.

Currently, the testing prototype can check and optimize the key technologies and core system components of the high-speed maglev system and lay a technological basis for the forthcoming engineering prototype, the chief engineer said.

"Now the prototype has achieved static levitation and is in good condition," Ding further explained.

CRRC is currently building an experimental center and a trial production center for the high-speed maglev trains, Ding also noted.

According to a CGTN report, the research and development of a five-carriage engineering prototype are going smoothly and the engineering prototype is scheduled to roll off the production line in 2020.

Comprehensive tests to finish integrated verification should be completed and full production expected in 2021, CGTN said.

China already has the world’s fastest commercial maglev service in operation, which reaches 431 kilometers per hour.

]]> <![CDATA[Indonesia's Mount Agung Volcano Splurts 4,600-Meter Ash Cloud]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 07:13:21 -04:00 Multiple overnight flights between Bali and Australia were canceled after the Indonesian island’s Mount Agung volcano erupted, according to officials Saturday.  

Mexico's Popocatepetl Erupts 200 Times in 24 Hours

An ash cloud form in the sky and the volcano spewed lava which extended several kilometers from the crater. Rocks were also emitted over a distance of about three kilometers from the summit, Indonesian officials stated.

Mount Agung, which is located in eastern Bali, erupted at about 7:22 pm local time. The eruption reportedly lasted for four minutes and 30 seconds.

“The ash column could not be observed. Thundering sounds from the eruption were heard adequately strong from the monitoring post,” Indonesia’s Center of Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) noted. 

But the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Darwin warned that the ash plume had risen to an estimated 4,600 meters high or flight level 150.

Some 50,000 masks were made available as a precaution measure, though the alert level on the volcano remains unchanged, the authorities said.

There were no reports of casualties and there have been no evacuations.

The volcano experienced a major eruption in 1963 and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 people and razed several villages.

Mount Agung lays on the dreaded Ring of Fire.

]]> <![CDATA[China Donates 10,000 Tons of Rice to Help Idai Victims]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 06:25:00 -04:00 On Friday, Zimbabweans received over 10,000 tons of rice from China to assist people who were affected by Cyclone Idai.


Zimbabwe: Gov't Says Millions Needed to Recover, Crops Damaged

Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming handed over the consignment of rice to Zimbabwean government representative Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Sekesai Nzenza.

"This rice donation will go a long way in complementing our efforts to alleviate hunger. However, we are requesting for additional support to feed vulnerable households until the next harvest," Nzenza said.

Minister Qian assured that China was committed to helping Zimbabwe boost its production and providing emergency food assistance when required.

"This donation is another testimony of our continuous devotion to the development of Zimbabwe's agriculture and attainment of food security. We believe that giving food to Zimbabwe is not enough. Helping the country to produce more food and more jobs is key to Zimbabwe's agriculture development," Qian stated.

The Xi Jinping-led government had also pledged to donate medical supplies and send a medical team to treat victims of the cyclone without cost.

“The Chinese medical team in Zimbabwe will visit the affected areas and bring medical supplies and carry out free treatment to the local people. We hope these efforts will help the Zimbabwean people gain confidence and strength in the fight against the disaster and we believe that under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwean people will be able to recover from this disaster and rebuild their home places soon,” Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun said.

The government of China previously gifted Zimbabwe a cash donation Wednesday.

“The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe is authorized to announce that the Chinese Government decided to donate US$800,000 in cash as emergency humanitarian assistance to the Zimbabwean Government to help with its disaster relief and rebuilding effort,” Guo said.

The China-Zimbabwe cooperation includes farm machinery, agriculture inputs, secondment of senior Chinese agriculture experts to Zimbabwe and technology workshops for young Zimbabwean farmers.

Ambassador Guo said under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the Belt and Road Initiative, China will provide more grants and loans to encourage investment in the affected areas.

Prior to the cyclone, the  United Nations made a plea early March for donations to help with the ongoing drought in Zimbabwe.

The devastating cyclone hit the country in March, killing hundreds of people and destroying infrastructure.

]]> <![CDATA[Federal Judge Blocks Trump from Using Defense Funds for Wall]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 05:16:08 -04:00 Late Friday a federal judge blocked U.S. President Donald Trump from using US$1 billion in funds from the country’s Defense Department to build two sections of the long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

US Congress Fails to Override Veto, Border Wall Emergency Stays

"This order is a win for our system of checks and balances, the rule of law, and border communities. The court blocked all the wall projects currently slated for immediate construction. If the administration begins illegally diverting additional military funds, we'll be back in court to block that as well," CNN reported citing a statement from American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney Dror Ladin.

The decision comes more than three months after Trump declared a national emergency to divert billions of dollars from the Pentagon for the construction of his border wall.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU on behalf of plaintiffs the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition.

The 56-page ruling blocked the administration from moving forward, with the specific projects intended for the Texas and Arizona regions, explaining that Trump could not disburse the funds without congressional approval.

"The position that when Congress declines the Executive's request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds 'without Congress' does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic," Judge Haywood Gilliam of the Northern District of California wrote.

Friday's ruling does not prevent the Trump administration from using funds from other sources to build the projects - which would have added 57 miles of 18-foot-high fence to the wall. 

However, construction on the projects could have begun as early as Saturday, the court said.

In February, Trump had declared a national emergency - bypassing the U.S. Congress - to access billions of dollars in federal funds to build a wall on the southern border of the country.

Some 20 states, environmental groups and civil liberties groups have filed suits against the administration to stay wall construction plans.

The federal government was shut down for 35 days, from Dec. 22 last year, during a standoff with Congress over border wall funding.

Erecting a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border was a Trump campaign promise.

]]> <![CDATA[Kenyan Court Unanimously Elect to Uphold Law Banning Gay Sex]]> Sat, 25 May 2019 03:46:45 -04:00 On Friday, the high court in Kenya unanimously elected to uphold a law banning gay sex which keeps same-sex relations punishable by almost a decade-and-a-half, according to a report from Reuters.

Brazil: Supreme Court Judges Vote in Favor of Making Homophobia, Transphobia Crimes

“Rights cannot be trampled upon in the name of social disapproval. The Court of Appeal should revisit this ruling urgently,” New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s senior LGBT rights researcher, Neela Ghoshal, said and added that the verdict reduced Kenya’s gay people to “second-class citizenship.”

Gay rights activists wept openly after the verdict was issued while supporters of the ban cheered. 

“Kenya has missed an opportunity to take a clear stance against discrimination,” Njeri Gateru, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said.

“I believe justice will eventually prevail in Kenya, as in other parts of the world that have decriminalized same-sex conduct, but in the meantime, ordinary LGBT Kenyans will continue to pay the price for the state’s indifference to inequality.”

Meanwhile, Justice Roselyn Aburili remarked, “we find that the impugned sections are not unconstitutional, accordingly the combined petitions have no merit.” 

But, LGBT advocates, who filed the petition, challenged the judge’s statement saying the law violates the country’s 2010 constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy for all citizens.

“We will appeal. We expect that the court of appeal will overturn this erroneous decision which in our view is very biased,” one petitioner, Eric Gitari, said.

Rights campaigners explained that due to lack of legal protections sexual minorities in Kenya are routinely abused, assaulted by mobs, raped by vigilantes or enslaved by criminals.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has recorded more than 1,500 such attacks against LGBT Kenyans since 2014.

The East African nation also drew criticism from the U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who said the ruling “encourages hostility and even violence against LGBT individuals.”

The court claims that gay sex clashed with broader, traditional moral values in the constitution. Kenya’s anti-homosexuality laws were first imposed by British colonizers in 1897.

Aburili added that allowing gay sex would “open the door for same-sex unions.”

Kenya arrested 534 people for same-sex relationships between 2013 and 2017, according to the government.

Same-sex relationships remain a crime in over 70 countries around the world and almost half of them in Africa.

Thirty-eight out of 55 African nations have enacted laws that make it illegal to be gay. In Somalia and South Sudan it is punishable by death. In Nigeria, it carries a 14-year prison term, and 30 years in Tanzania.

South Africa is the only African nation to have legalized gay marriage.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazilian Film Wins Prestigious Award at Cannes]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 23:33:03 -04:00 A Brazilian victory in Cannes has sent a message of hope at a difficult time for the country's movie industry, director Karim Ainouz said Friday after winning an award at one of the film festival's prestigious side competitions.


Guatemalan Film on Massacre of Indigenous Mayans Wins Award at Cannes Film Festival

"The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao", a tale of two sisters and their struggles in a male-dominated society in 1950s-era Brazil, won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes, which aims to shine a light on more unusual movies.

Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has talked of waging war on "cultural Marxism" and has reduced the remit of the country's culture ministry, leaving many filmmakers fearing it will become more difficult to get their movies made.

"I think it sends a message of hope," Ainouz told Reuters after the ceremony in the south of France.

"I think it's a brilliant year for Brazilian cinema at the festival and I think, I hope, that this is not in any way challenged by what we're going through in the country," he said.

"Bacurau" by Brazil's Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles is also in contention for this year's top Palme d'Or prize at Cannes, which will be announced Saturday.

"The Invisible Life" centers on two loving sisters whose dreams are frustrated by some of the men in their lives, and was inspired by a book by Martha Batalha.

Variety said the film was "a gorgeous melodrama about women whose independence of mind remains undiminished", rendered in "lustrous textures, boldly saturated colors and lush sounds."

Lebanese director and actor Nadine Labaki, whose film "Capernaum" won the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes' main competition last year, headed up the Un Certain jury.

She said that although politics did not play a part in this year's choice, an award from Cannes sent a strong signal.

"Every kind of recognition on such huge platforms is making everything resonate so much louder," she told Reuters.

It's been a good year at Cannes for Latin American film generally, with a film about the Mayan genocide 

]]> <![CDATA[US Probes FEMA Official For Manipulating Puerto Rico Contracts]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 23:41:01 -04:00 U.S. Department of Defense is investigating Ahsha Tribble, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official, for allegedly manipulating contracts during the reconstruction of Puerto Rico following the devastating 2017 Hurricane Maria.

Trump's Vendetta Against Puerto Rico Hampers Disaster Relief, Says US Congressman

Tribble oversaw the repair of the U.S. territory’s electric system and is being accused of diverting numerous multi-billion dollar contracts to Cobra Acquisitions Energy, the Wall Street Journal said in a report Friday.

She has been placed on administrative leave while the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General probes the various records.

After Whitefish Energy, Cobra received the most income with various contracts valued at US$900 million and US$945 million to restore downed transmissions and distribution lines. The multi-million dollar agreements were signed by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and paid by FEMA.

Cobra was responsible for two power outages in 2018; one due to tree trimming and the other due to an excavator.

The accused FEMA official's attorney, Leo Aldridge, said, "The federal authorities are investigating Ahsha Tribble, and Dr. Tribble states unambiguously that during the entire time she worked for FEMA in Puerto Rico, she acted appropriately within the provisions of the law and seeking the recovery of the Island.

"Dr. Tribble had no interference with which companies were awarded contracts" and denounced "any indication of inappropriate actions during her time working for FEMA in Puerto Rico."

Two other FEMA officials are also being investigated and may be removed as a result of the case.

FEMA refused to comment on “matters of its staff,” but said it will “comply with all the requests and investigation directed by the Office of U.S. Inspector General of the Department of National Security.”

]]> <![CDATA[Paraguay: Indigenous Maka Community Elects First Female Leader]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 22:26:33 -04:00 Paraguay's Indigenous Maka community welcomes its first female leader, Tsiweyenki (also known as Gloria Elizeche), the group announced Thursday.

Indigenous Guna Force Nike to Drop Shoe With 'Stolen Design'

Despite centuries of tradition and patriarchy, the right to lead has been passed to the widow of Andres Chemei, former Maka chief, as there is no male heir.

“The Maka are respectful of women and in this case we have placed our trust in Chemei’s widow,” Maka Traditional Dance Director Yelukin told AP.

The community announced its decision Thursday, upending centuries of tradition and patriarchy and becoming one of Paraguay’s first Indigenous groups to elect a female leader.

Marilin Rehnfeld, director of the Department of Anthropology at the Catholic University of Asuncion, told AP, “Generally speaking, all indigenous people have a great deal of respect for women because they are decision-makers.

“They organize the community, educate the children and deal with all important matters. The title of chief was invented by our society, not the tribes.”

Tsiweyenka, 68, said, “I feel very good, very encouraged because the whole community respects me.”

She will be assisted by experienced advisers while adjusting to her new role, but according to witnesses, seems to be taking to the position with very little difficulty.

Roughly 2,000 Indigenous people reside in the 325-acre colony just outside the city of Asuncion where they make a living primarily from their handicrafts.

]]> <![CDATA[Peruvian Congressman Sentenced to Five Years on Collusion]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 23:02:21 -04:00 Peru’s public prosecutor reported Thursday that the judiciary has sentenced congressman Joaquin Dipas, a member of ex-President Fujimori's Fuerza Popular (Popular Strength) party, to five years in prison for collusion.


Another Senior Peruvian Politician Gets Jail for Corruption

"As the tax investigation showed, Dipas Huaman took advantage of his position as mayor of Pichari (2003-2006 and 2007-2010), in Cusco, to illegally approve an exemption from the process of acquiring at 3 hectares of land for the construction of a Biotechnology laboratory in Pichari-VRAEM," as indicated by the office.

The ruling was laid down by Judge Jorge Luis Sanchez Ramirez of the Superior Court of Justice of Ayacucho and also ordered that the ruling be reported to the Congressional Commission of Immunity Surveillance and the Supreme Court, in order to remove his parliamentary immunity which protects him from imprisonment.

In addition, three of Dipas’ ex-administrators were sentenced to five years in prison, while five other ex-employees of the Municipality of Pichari and the owner of the land in question were sentenced to four years in prison.

On Oct. 20, 2010, Joaquin Dipas resigned as mayor of Pichari to run for congress with the FP, but as he was leaving signed the contract to guarantee the payout of 840,000 soles (US$252,000) to the owners or the property at an inflated price, according to the court.

This case is but one of the many corruption cases that have thrown Peru’s political establishment into a tailspin as politician after politician is found to have participated in some form of corruption.

The most far-reaching scandal is the Odebrecht scandal which has brought down presidents and mayors, and contributed to the suicide of former President Alan Garcia last month.

]]> <![CDATA[France: Bombing in Lyon Injures 13, Suspect Still at Large]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 21:19:20 -04:00 French police are searching for the criminal behind the Lyon central city bombing which injured 13 people Friday, officials confirmed.


France Threatens Journalists With Prison for Exposing Its Role in Saudi War on Yemen

The suspect was captured on security video leaving a bag in front of a bakery shortly before an explosion occurred at around 5:30 pm, police sources and local mayor Denis Broliquier said.

Police sources described the suspected attacker as a European or North African male, seen pushing a bike and wearing beige Bermuda shorts, an army-green scarf or head wrap and dark glasses.

Soon after he left, the blast rained metal bolts on passersby in front of the premises on rue Victor Hugo, several blocks from the city’s main station, according to police.

Many of those injured were hospitalized for treatment, some suffering from injuries inflicted by shattered metal and glass. President Emmanuel Macron denounced the “attack” and offered his support for victims during a televised YouTube interview, saying, “My thoughts are with the injured.”

On his official Twitter account, Macron wrote: "Tonight I think of the wounded in the explosion in Lyon, their families affected by the violence that has befallen their loved ones in the street, and all of Lyon. We are by your side."

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said police forces across France have been instructed to increase security in public places and event venues.

]]> <![CDATA[Armed Groups Massacre 54 Civilians in Central African Republic]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 20:29:15 -04:00 An armed militia killed at least 54 civilians in an attack Tuesday in Central African Republic (CAR), as reported by UNICEF in their statement of condemnation. The government of CAR has issued a deadline for the group's leader to give up the perpetrators to the authorities.


Child Soldiers Rampant in Africa as NGO Denounces the Unrest

The attack was the most deadly since 14 armed groups agreed to a peace deal in February that was meant to bring stability to a country rocked by violence since 2013, when mainly Muslim Selaka rebels ousted the then president, prompting reprisals from mostly Christian militias.

The group 'Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation,' or 3R, attacked a number of villages in the northwest region Pahoua, seeking revenge for the killing of an ethnic Peul, government spokesman Ange Kazagui said at a joint briefing Wednesday with the United Nation's MINUSCA peacekeeping mission.

The government is calling for 3R leader Sidiki Abass to "arrest and hand over those responsible for this massacre to the authorities in the next 72 hours or risk being held personally responsible", Kazagui said.

The bloodshed will further test the peace agreement, which has already come under strain due to disagreements over-representation in the cabinet.

"MINUSCA asks 3R in particular and all the armed groups in general to show strict respect for international human rights and the reconciliation and peace agreement," MINUSCA spokeswoman Uwolowulakana Ikavi-Gbetanou said at the briefing.

The government and rebels expressed optimism when the accord was signed on Feb. 5. But lasting peace is not guaranteed: similar agreements in 2014, 2015 and 2017 all broke down.

The 3R group emerged in late 2015 to protect the minority Peul population, who are mostly Muslim cattle herders, from attacks by Christian anti-balaka militias.

Thousands of people have died because of the unrest in the diamond and gold-producing country, and a fifth of the 4.5 million population have fled their homes.

In one gruesome story, a 77-year-old Spanish nun who was teaching girls how to sew in the country was found almost beheaded in the southwestern town of Nola. According to the Vatican's reports, a bishop said her throat had been slit so deep as to almost behead her. She was taken from her room in the night and nothing was stolen. No groups claimed responsibility for the attack.

]]> <![CDATA[May's Potential Replacements Ready Portfolios for PM Election]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 20:01:14 -04:00 Within hours of UK Prime Minister Theresa May announcing her resignation, speculation has risen around the host of possible successors in line for the coveted seat in parliament.

On Friday, May revealed her plans to quit as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, saying that during her tenure as prime minister, she had endeavored to make the U.K. a country that works for the many, not the few, and also to deliver Brexit.

Boris Johnson/ Reuters

Among the top contenders is Boris Johnson, the former British Foreign Minister — a favorite in public polls to succeed May due to his charismatic personality and experience in economically and socially liberal policies. Johnson also played a large role in the June 2016 Brexit referendum.

Andrea Leadsom/ Reuters

Also in the running is 56-year-old Andrea Leadsom, the former State Energy Minister and Environment Secretary. Although a firm supporter of a break with European Union (EU), Leadsom quit the House of Commons on Wednesday, after revealing reservations around the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. She believed the current approach could be dangerously divisive and not deliver the desired result.

Michael Gove/ Reuters

Michael Gove, 51 years old, is Minister of the Environment and a strong candidate and supporter of May’s Brexit plans. He was Boris Johnson's assistant during the referendum campaign in 2016. He is against a second referendum as he believes it is undemocratic and would be damaging for the U.K. and its integrity.

Dominic Raab/ Reuters

Another frontrunner for the role of Conservative party leader is Dominic Raab. Although Raab supports a departure from the EU, he left his position as Brexit Secretary just five months after accepting the post due to disagreements with the Brexit withdrawal agreement. He proposes lowering the income tax for the U.K.’s working class and improving employee rights for mothers.

Sajid Javid/ Reuters

Forty-nine-year-old and former business banker, Sajid Javid, stands a good chance of taking the seat as head of the party. He has expressed interest in the position and could bring a modern and multicultural outlook to the U.K.’s parliament. As home secretary, Javid has connections to both homeland security and the immigration ministry.

Jeremy Hunt/ Reuters

Finally just hours after May’s resignation, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had already stepped up and confirmed his intention to run for prime minister. He is believed to be the more moderate contender, between competitors Johnson and Raab. Hunt has led the British National Health Service for six years and initially defending the United Kingdom's presence in the European Union, before moving to support May’s Brexit campaign.

]]> <![CDATA[Exit Polls Show Divorce Referendum Will Win Big in Ireland]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 18:57:47 -04:00 The ruling Christian Democrat party in Ireland Fine Gae (FG)l, are slated to win the European elections Friday. At the same time, an overwhelming majority has approved a referendum also held today that would reform divorce law, according to an exit poll survey by the public network RTE.


Irish Garda Assembles Unit to Tackle Police Corruption Within

The exit poll also announced that FG and the main opposition Fianna Fail party are closely matched in the local elections with both receiving 23% of the votes.

Just over three million people were called to the polls in Ireland this Friday to participate in European and local elections, and on the popular referendum on divorce.

According to the RTE survey, Fine Gael, the part of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, could win four of the 13 seats that Ireland will have in the next European Parliament.

The rest could be shared among Fianna Fail, leftist-nationalist Sinn Fein, and the Green Party, which has gained prominence after a campaign in which environmental issues were heavily emphasized.

The Irish people also spoke out in a referendum on a government proposal to soften the current divorce law, which states that the official termination of a marriage is only granted when the spouses have lived separately for four of the previous five years.

According to the RTE, the "yes" vote ending these restrictions could win with 87% of votes, compared to 12% of "no" votes.

The final distribution of seats in local administrations and in Strasbourg will depend to a large extent on the transfer of votes among candidates, as allowed by the complex Irish electoral system.

The results of the local elections and the referendum could be known on Saturday afternoon, while the results of the European elections will not be released until Sunday night, once voting has concluded in the rest of the EU bloc countries.

]]> <![CDATA[US to Sell Arab Allies $8B in Arms to 'Deter Iran': Pompeo ]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 17:20:14 -04:00 U.S. President Donald Trump is invoking a rare executive provision bypassing congressional review in order to extend a multi-billion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia, citing alleged threats from Iran to the kingdom, U.S. Secretary Mike Pompeo confirmed Friday.

Iran vs. US: Who Will Win the War ... of Words?

Per the Arms Export Control Act, US$8.1 billion in ammunition, bombs, precision-guided munitions, and military support are being sent to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, Pompeo said.

The secretary said the decision was fueled by an existing emergency “which requires the immediate sale” of weapons “in order to deter further the malign influence of the government of Iran throughout the Middle East region.”

Pompeo continued, saying the transfers “must occur as quickly as possible in order to deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut’s Democratic representative said that “President Trump is only using this loophole because he knows Congress would disapprove of this sale. There is no new ‘emergency’ reason to sell bombs to the Saudis.”

Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez criticized the move, citing no practical or legal reason justifying the executive decision, outside of an alleged threat from Iran.

“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump administration has failed once again to prioritize our long term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia,” said Menendez.

The arms sale comes just hours after Trump announced his plans to send 1,500 additional troops to the region as a response for an unspecified threat from Iran.

]]> <![CDATA[China Will Protect Its Companies from US Trade War Threat]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 17:38:34 -04:00 China's Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng announced his country will take all necessary measures to safeguard the rights and legitimate interests of Chinese companies and demanded the United States correct its "wrongful actions."

China Ready to Tackle US President Trump's Tech Cold War

"If the U.S. wants to continue trade talks, they should show sincerity and correct their wrongful actions. Negotiations can only continue on the basis of equality and mutual respect," he said and added that "we will closely monitor relevant developments and prepare necessary responses."

No further trade talks between top Chinese and U.S. officials have been scheduled since May 10, when the U.S. government hiked tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods. 

Earlier this week U.S. retaliations continued as President Donald Trump included Huawei and its subsidiaries on a blacklist to force it to apply for authorization if it seeks to buy U.S. technology.

Gao said that the Asian county is opposed to the use of state power to repress Chinese companies and demanded fair treatment and non-discrimination in order to operate normally. He also rejected the "National Security" concept as it is used by U.S. officials to impose trade restrictions.

Besides seriously damaging trade cooperation between companies of both nations, such measures represent a great threat to global industrial chains, the Chinese spokesperson explained.

"We urge the U.S. to stop its wrongful actions and create conditions for trade and cooperation between entities of the two countries and prevent further blows to bilateral economic and trade ties."

The Chinese government, Gao reminded, asks Chinese firms to comply with international standards, and also calls for an environment conducive to develop their businesses in other territories without barriers.

The best response to U.S. economic bullying is to foster growth and strength in companies in developing countries, concluded the Chinese spokesman.

]]> <![CDATA[Second Venezuelan Child Dies As US Blockade Stops Transplant]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 16:14:02 -04:00 The Executive Secretary of the Venezuelan National Human Rights Council (CNDH), Larry Devoe, denounced through his official account in Twitter, the death of a seven-year-old infant as a result of the impossibility of receiving a bone marrow transplant, due to the economic blockade imposed on Venezuela by the United States Government (USA).

"The seven-year-old boy had chronic lymphoblastic leukemia and is the second child to die while awaiting for a bone marrow transplant, because this procedure is performed via an agreement between Venezuela and Italy that was suspended after the sanctions that president Donald Trump imposed on Venezuela. This has been stopping the corresponding payments to be issued", the Venezuelan official accused.

“We condemned the unfortunate death of a second boy that was waiting for a bone marrow transplant. This was made impossible by the de facto cancellation of the agreement PDVSA-ATMO caused by the criminal blockade that the U.S. has imposed to the people of Venezuela”.


Devoe highlighted the fact that the blockade against Venezuela caused the halt of an agreement between the state oil company PDVSA and an Italian-Argentinian network of hospitals, which was supposed to take care of the child  lymphoblastic leukemia treatment.

Devoe also noted that several international banks are disregarding their relations and commitments with PDVSA, which has caused damages for up to 5 million Euros. The money was assigned to cover the treatment of these kind of chronic patients.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, also condemned the event, stating that the US blockade against Venezuela was an unfortunate and criminal way of seige.

This is the second child to die awaiting for the international health agreements that Venezuela has previously signed to be reactivated, which would allow critical patients to have access to surgeries and proper treatments to their illness.

The economic and financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. to Venezuela are in effect since 2015, and Trump administration has been intensifying them. President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that the aim of the sanctions is to force President Nicolas Maduro to resign, but Human Rights Organization reports have demonstrated that instead, they have caused over 40,000 deaths.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Discontent Marks Moreno's First Two Years in Office]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 15:21:42 -04:00 Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno celebrates two years in office amid protesting citizens who demand fulfillment of electoral offers, request respect for senior citizens' rights and reject austerity policies.


Ecuador: Retirees Demand Gov’t Pay Their Pensions

After having taken distance from the leftist political and social forces that brought him to power, President Moreno approached traditional parties and embraced their public policy preferences.

One sign of the above happened in Dec 2018 when Moreno proposed to the National Assembly to elect Otto Sonnenholzner as vice president. This young economist linked to export-import business groups took office with the support of 94 of 128 legislators, most of whom were aligned with the former right-wing presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso.

In August 2018, the Ecuadorian President announced some policies which privilege budget deficit reduction over economic growth. Among those increases in fuel prices, downsizing the public sector, dismissal of thousands of public employees, private participation in public services, and budget cuts to education and health.

As a reward for this measures, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted Ecuador a US$ 4.2 billion loan; however, these resources will be delivered over the next three years and if the South American country complies with its "economic program". Additionally, President Moreno acquired an additional US$6 billion debt from other multilateral banks.

"24 months of rights losses, budget cuts to health and education, fuel price increases, disruption of state institutions, persecution, breach of government planning, zero public works, INA Papers case unclear, Ecuador has 24 months without a President." In the video, Ecuadorians are asked to mention a public work carried out by President Moreno administration.

While this was happening, Ecuador's Attorney General Office opened an investigation to President Moreno for the "INA Papers" case, a scandal related to a Panama-based offshore company which would have used to buy an apartment in Alicante, Spain.

On april 11, Moreno also surprised his former supporters by withdrawing asylum to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who had been refugeed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. Human rights defenders and lawyers have questioned this decision due to the violation of national and international standards.

Nevertheless, according to interpretations made by WikiLeaks and Assange's father, the Ecuadorian goverment handed Assange in retaliation to the INA corruption allegations and in exchange for the approval of the IMF loan.

In his second year in office, Moreno strengthened relations with the U.S. government through actions such as the visit of the head of the U.S. Southern Command Craig Faller, the announcement of Ecuador-U.S. joint naval exercises and the return of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to the country.

In an attempt to maintain governance levels, President Moreno announced on May 6 the beginning of the "Ecuador 2030 National Agreement," which would be a mechanism for dialoguing with various social sectors.

"Moreno + IMF = more taxes on food, health and education. We are tired of 24 months without a President and two years of nepotism."

Nevertheless, at the beginning of his third year in office, President Moreno's credibility and approval rates are at very low levels, which are unprecedented in the last two decades.

A local polling company Opinion Profiles (OP), which interviewed citizens at the country's three main cities, found that his credibility decreased from 85 percent on July 2017 to 24 percent in April 2019.

The OP survey also showed that 67 percent of Ecuadorians regret having voted for Moreno and 16 percent of the population still believe he is a man of his word.

This widespread distrust happens at times when the main concerns of Ecuadorians are inflation, poverty, public debt and unemployment (27 percent), corruption (14 percent) and poor management of the government (9 percent), as Cedatos, a local company affiliated with WIN-Gallup International, reported.

At the 2019 Report to the Nation, President Moreno, who sees himself as an environmental friendly ruler, announced Friday that he will eliminate the "Green Tax" which had been paid by owners of vehicles over 1500 cc since 2010.

"I have decided to eliminate the so-called green tax, which has proven to be a burden too heavy for people," he said.

]]> <![CDATA[Algeria: Protesters Demand Presidential Elections Be Delayed]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 12:41:21 -04:00 For the 14th consecutive Friday, Algerians took to the streets demanding the resignation of the officials that have taken power following the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Unlike previous occasions, confrontations with the police were more serious this week as the population called for the July 4 presidential elections to be postponed.


Algerians Intensify Street Protests Before Ramadan

Algeria's Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, who was a senator for the centrist National Rally for Democracy (RND), set out a proposal​​​​​​ for a political transition which is said to have not even convinced members of his own party.

"A lasting crisis will have serious consequences in the economic and social fields," the chief of staff from the Algerian People's National Army, Ahmed Gaid Salah, warned in his last speech and explained that only "the holding of the presidential election will silence those who are trying to perpetuate such crisis," as Jeune Afrique reported.

The Interim presidential alliance parties -the National Movement of Hope (TAJ) and the Algerian People's Movement (MPA)- openly supported General Salah’s position on Wednesday.

The Algerian Police, on Friday, arrested citizens who were protesting near “La Grande Poste”, the main post office which has become a one of the main rallying points for demonstrations in Algiers since Feb. 22.

At the Algiers' main post office. ''There will be a march on July 4.''

Nevertheless, hundreds of demonstrators kept demanding the dismantling of Bouteflika’s whole power system, a request which includes removing acting President Bensalah, Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui and General Salah.

“We will continue protesting”, "We are tired of generals!” or "Get out of here Salah!" were among the demostrator's favourite chants, as TelQuel reported.

The political situation has heated up even more since ​​​​​​​May 9, due to the arrest of the Algerian Workers' Party Secretary-General, Louisa Hanoune, a well-known activist who was the first woman to run for the presidency in 2004.

An international solidarity campaign in favor of Hanoune's liberation has been launched. The Argelian leftist leader is accused of conspiracy to undermine military authority and conspiracy to change the regime. 

"I am aware of comrade Loise Hanoune' arbitrary detention... and since I know her political career, I have no doubt in joining thousands of citizens who are fighting for her immediate release," the Brazilian political prisoner and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva wrote on an open letter on May 22.

]]> <![CDATA[President Maduro: Huawei Will Continue to Operate in Venezuela]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 10:00:58 -04:00 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced an investment in telecommunications in association with Huawei, ZTE  and other Chinese and Russian companies, Thursday, and also stated that he considered the U.S. veto against Huawei to be a "tremendous aggression" against the multinational.

Venezuelan president announced that he aspires to "raise the reach and strength" of Internet and cell phone coverage in Venezuela.

"Huawei will continue in Venezuela," President Maduro said, promising there will be new, immediate, investments along with the creation of a new "National Telecommunications Corporation", that will merge all the state companies in the sector.

Maduro said that the U.S. has attacked Huawei, "only because the company has taken giant steps and has become the world leader in the telecommunications sector by developing the system towards the installation of the 5G technology".

President Maduro praised the innovation of the 5G service and assured that a new world will be born with it.

This comes after the Trump administration intensified its trade war on China, for alleged national security reasons, putting Huawei on a blacklist of foreign technology companies, which means that it will be denied access to U.S. technologies and markets. This decision may be the first instance in a long-lasting "tech cold war".


]]> <![CDATA[No Planet B: Students Stand Up at Global Climate Strike]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 10:44:16 -04:00 After the success reached at the first Global Strike on March 15, the global students 'Fridays for Future Movement' hits the streets again with over 1.4 million teenager protesters who claim for real actions against climate change in more than 110 countries.


Canada: Indigenous Activist Calls Trudeau ‘Liar, Weak Leader’

Demonstrations carried out in 126 Italian cities made a precise request: the Italian Parliament and municipalities must declare a "state of climatic emergency" as did the British House of Commons on May 2 and the Milan's Communal Council on May 24.

"Regarding the first global strike, our demands became more precise," Francesca Travaglino, an Italian student, said and explained that "we ask now for a declaration of the climate emergency".

"There is no planet B" and "Change the system, not the climate" were the most heard phrases during the impressive marches held at Rome, as Ansa agency reported.

The fervor of youth for environmental protection has also taken over Belgium, a country where students are carrying out weekly actions in favor of climate and intergenerational justice, as Vice reported.

"If politicians come to talk to you during demonstrations, you have to keep a rude attitude," a Belgian student, Anuna de Wever, said, also explaining that "rulers should do their job and offer action plans now."

In Portugal, citizens occupied squares and streets holding banners that read "Do not frack Mother Nature", "Stop snoozing the problem", "I want to leave my grand daughters a clean and healthy planet," "I want to break free from plastic!," "Capitalism cannot ever be green," and "Let's change our production patterns and styles," as Renascenca reported.

In Spain, the need to declare a climate emergency was assumed by the left alliance formed by Podemos, Izquierda Unida, Participa, Equo, Izquierda Andalucista, Primavera Andaluza and Republican Alternative.

"Among our priorities we have the fight against climate change. It is now or never. There is no planet B as thousands of young people who take to the streets throughout Europe remind us every Friday", Susana Serrano, mayoral candidate of Adelante Sevilla, said.

It seems that the climate change global movement will not stop. Activist Greta Thunberg called Thursday to prepare for a new world-wide strike on September 20.

"Once again our voice will be heard in the streets, but it cannot depend only on us," says an open letter signed by 50 young environmental leaders who call on the whole society to get involved in the fight.

"We will start a 'climate action week' with a global strike on Sep. 20. We ask you to join in. There are many activities in different parts of the world to get involved in. Go out that day to the streets with your neighbor, co-worker, friends and family, so that our voices can be heard."

From Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., Australia, the U.S, France, South Africa, India, Japan or Chile, the open letter signatories seek a "turning point in history" on Sep. 20 by making adults go from "simply praising youth demonstrations to action."

"To change everything, we need everyone," the letter indicates and calls for a "massive resistance and collective actions to raise the pressure and ensure that change occurs as soon as possible... We are counting on you."

]]> <![CDATA[Palestine’s First-Ever Solar Power Station Near Completion]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 08:04:42 -04:00 According to Palestinian officials, the first of four planned solar panel plants has been inaugurated as part of a project which aims to reduce dependence on Israeli power sources.

Palestine Rejects US-Led Talk on Investment in Its Territory

Palestine’s first-ever solar power station is aiming to produce 7.5 megawatts (MW) of electricity from its Noor Jericho Photovoltaic Solar Park location.

Work on this first phase is expected to be completed in June.

There will be a total of three Palestinian solar parks: Noor Jericho, the largest; Noor Tubas solar park, much smaller with a capacity of 4 MW; and Noor Jenin project with a capacity of 5 MW.

Additionally, thousands of solar panels will be installed on the rooftops of some 500 public schools throughout Palestine to generate another 35 MW.

The Ministry of Education gave permission to use the rooftops of the public schools for solar panels due to a shortage of open land, resulting from Israeli military control of two-thirds of Palestinian land in the West Bank’s Area C.

Israel prevents Palestine from carrying out construction or benefiting from the land in that region.

The Noor Jericho plant will produce power from 20,000 solar panels that will be set up in two stations – one with 4000 panels and the other with 3500 panels – and be distributed by the Jerusalem-based Palestinian electricity company, Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO), which provides power to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho and their area villages and towns.

When all phases of the project is completed, estimated in eight years, it should produce 200 MW of electricity in total or the equivalent to 17% of Palestine’s power needs, according to Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) Chairman of the Board, Mohammad Mustafa.

“The whole idea here is to diversify the sources of energy without doing away with the current sources, mainly diesel fuel, which so far remains a main source of energy in Palestine,” Mustafa told WAFA.

According to the PIF chair, the power generated from the solar parks will reduce Palestinian dependence on Israeli power, which is currently 98% of its power needs of 1000 MW, annually.

Mustafa explained the West Bank consumes about $700 million a year in electricity and added that Palestine hopes to cut importation from Israel, by 50% over the next decade.

Noor Jericho Solar Park alone is expected to reduce the import of electricity by around US$1.25 million annually, with an estimated total of US$31 million during the 25 years expected lifetime of the park.

The PIF company’s subdivision Massader, which was established to lead investments in natural resources and infrastructure, undertook the first phase of the project to the tune of US$10-million.

One of the four plants will be donated by China.

]]> <![CDATA[UK Prime Minister Theresa May to Resign June 7]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 05:23:24 -04:00 United Kingdom head of government Theresa May has announced that she will quit as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7 and subsequently step down as prime minister (PM), according to a CNN report. 

European Union Keeps Backing PM May Despite New Brexit Delay

"... I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday 7 June so that a successor can be chosen. I have agreed with the Party Chairman and with the Chairman of the 1922 Committee that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week.", May said as she broke into tears at the end of her statement.

May, said her aim throughout her tenure as prime minister was to make the U.K. a country that works for the many, not the few, and also to deliver Brexit.

The British PM was unable on separate occasions to broker a Brexit deal.

Confederation of British Industry Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn noted that May's exit should be viewed as an opportunity for the country to reassess its circumstances.

“Business and the country need honesty. [The] nation must be put ahead of party, prosperity ahead of politics. Compromise and consensus must refind their voice in Parliament. We call on politicians from all parties, on all those ambitious to lead, to take this chance for a fresh start.”

Early last month, the European Union’s Special Council granted the United Kingdom a “flexible” extension to part ways from the bloc, until October 31, after French President Emmanuel Macron opposed efforts to give the country an entire year.


Economists warned of the financial effects of a no-deal.

"It is difficult not to feel for Mrs. May, but politically she misjudged the mood of the country and her party. Two Tory leaders have now gone whose instincts were pro-EU. Either the party learns that lesson or it dies,"  leader of the Brexit party Nigel Farage noted.

May meanwhile added, "I have kept Her Majesty the Queen fully informed of my intentions, and I will continue to serve as her Prime Minister until the process has concluded."

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed May's upcoming exit and said it was long overdue.

"The burning injustices she (May) promised to tackle three years ago are even starker today. The Conservative Party has utterly failed the country over Brexit and is unable to improve the lives of people in our country or deal with their most pressing needs. The last thing the country needs is weeks of more Conservative infighting followed by yet another unelected Prime Minister."

The U.K. parliament had previously approved a law that would give British members the power to scrutinize and make legally binding changes to May’s request for the European Union to delay Brexit until June 30.

Green Party co-leader, Caroline Lucas said May was "almost uniquely ill-equipped to be negotiator we needed" and further explained that the PM was unlikely to "achieve a hard Brexit & avoid hard border in N. Ireland" and no other leader will either.

"I have done my best" to deliver Brexit, May stated in conclusion. "I have tried three times" unsuccessfully.


]]> <![CDATA[Indigenous Guna Force Nike to Drop Shoe with 'Stolen Design']]> Fri, 24 May 2019 04:48:05 -04:00 Sportswear giant Nike has been forced to forego the release of a limited-edition shoe after being accused of "pirating" the protected traditional design of a Panamanian Indigenous community for the product, according to a BBC report.

Brazil MPs Rebuff Bolsonaro's Move to Weaken Indigenous Agency

"We apologize for the inaccurate representation of the design origin for the Nike Air Force 1 'Puerto Rico' 2019," Nike's statement said according to the AFP. "As a result, this product will no longer be available."

The Nike Air Force 1 shoe carried a multi-colored, swirling pattern which claimed to be a tribute to Puerto Rico, featuring a graphic representing the country’s native Coqui frog, the New Zealand Herald said citing Sneaker News website.

However, the Guna Indigenous people of Panama disputed the attribution and objected to the launch, pointing out that the design mirrored that of the community’s traditional "mola" textile.

"The mola is like a flag for the Guna. There is really a cultural identity that is articulated around the mola. It is a very strong element of identity," Monica Martinez, professor of social anthropology at Barcelona University, said to AFP. The Guna is one of the seven Indigenous peoples in Panama. 

"We are not against our mola being commercialized. What we oppose is it being done without consulting us first," Belisario Lopez, the traditional leader of the Guna Yala community, noted.

The limited-edition Nike footwear, with the unsanctioned design, was previously scheduled to launch on June 6 with a price tag of about US$100.

Lawyers for the Guna people explained that the shoe was created without the community's permission, disregarding intellectual property rights and, as such, compensation is being sought.

"There is already damage to our image, to our design, to our mola. We are not going to wait for it to be thrown away," attorney Aresio Valiente remarked during a news conference Tuesday.

Panamanian law recognized Indigenous groups' rights to their intellectual property.

Lopez also commented that the company "must recognize that the mola that appears on the Nike shoes is from the Guna people" and pointed out that the case against Nike "is not the only one in the world. Thousands of designs and the ancestral knowledge of indigenous people are being pirated by multinational companies."

In 2015, a community of Tlahuitoltepec women from Mexico called out Isabel Marant for using an embroidered pattern that resembled their huipil clothing on a dress, according to The Guardian.

And, in 2016, Urban Outfitters compensated the Navajo Nation after using the tribe's name in a line of clothing and accessories.

"The interesting thing here is that there are debates in the World Intellectual Property Organization and there are demands from Indigenous peoples that something has to be done. But nothing is being done," Martinez added.

]]> <![CDATA[Sultan Returns Oxford Degree After 'Death by Stoning' Backlash]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 03:04:34 -04:00 Controversy-plagued Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, returned an honorary degree awarded by the United Kingdom’s (U.K.’s) famed Oxford University following global backlash after proposing the death penalty for gay sex and adultery.

Brunei Transgender Woman Seeks Asylum in Canada

“As part of the review process, the university wrote to notify the Sultan on 26 April 2019, asking for his views by 7 June 2019,” the university told Reuters.

“Through a letter dated 6 May 2019, the sultan replied with his decision to return the degree.”

More than 100,000 people had also reportedly signed a petition urging the university to rescind the honorary law degree which was conferred on the Sultan in 1993.

Oxford Member of Parliament Layla Moran had also requested that the university strip the Sultan of the degree.

"Oxford University now has a chance to redeem itself and move past being tied to such gross violations of human rights. I think it is best the university should undertake a thorough review of their honorary degree system to ensure a scandal like this doesn't happen again."

United Kingdom pop star and LGBT icon Elton John was among a slew of celebrities who led the charge against the Sultan of Brunei.

On April 3, the oil-rich southeast Asian country came under fire after rolling out laws that aimed to punish sodomy, adultery and rape with death, including by stoning.

The law was condemned by the United Nations and prompted rights groups and other activists to seek a boycott of hotels owned by the Sultan.

Several multinational companies have also banned staff using the Sultan’s hotel.

Earlier this month, Bolkiah buckled under pressure and said the death penalty would not be imposed in the implementation of the penal code changes.

Homosexuality is illegal, in Brunei, and currently punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Other Asian countries, like Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore, also implemented bans on sexual relationships between men, while there has been an increase in harassment of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in Indonesia.

The Sultan of Brunei is the world’s second-longest reigning monarch.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil Top Judges Favor Making Homophobia, Transphobia Crimes]]> Fri, 24 May 2019 02:07:18 -04:00 Six of Brazil's 11 Supreme Court justices have voted in favor of making homophobia and transphobia crimes in the South American country, which is led by a far-right president who systematically threatens LGBT and other minority group progress.

Over 150 Taiwan Gay Couples to Marry in Historic Day for Asia

"Homophobic crimes are as alarming as physical violence," the BBC reported citing Brazilian Supreme Court Vice-President Luiz Fux, who further highlighted that there are "epidemic levels of homophobic violence" across the country.

The judges ruled that homophobia should, for now, be framed within the context of the country’s racism law until Congress approves specific legislation which would be tailored to address LGBT discrimination.

“It is a decisive win for the LGBT community,” Flavio Grossi, a criminal defense lawyer, said. “LGBT people are scared. I have seen an increase in clients reporting instances of physical aggression, hate crimes and racism.”

Though there have been advancements, such as same-sex marriage being made legal in 2013 as well as LGBT couples being granted the right to adopt, Brazil’s only openly gay congressman vacated his seat and fled the country amid fear from death threats.

Every 16 hours someone is killed in a homophobic attack in the South American nation, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has reported.

The group of legislators noted that there existed an omission in law which had left members of the LGBT community legally unprotected.

President of the Niteroi Diversity group, Bruna Benevides, endorsed the positive outcome of the vote and added that the ruling "comes at a very good moment, when we have a head of state who is LGBT-phobic."

President Jair Bolsonaro has a history of making offensive comments about gay people, black people and other minorities. 

Bolsonaro once said he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.

"Racism is a crime against flesh and blood, whether it is a member of the LGBT community, a Jew or an Afro-descendant," Fux said Thursday and added that “there is no guarantee the bill will pass, and even if it does, it can be vetoed and homophobia will continue. The judiciary must act in defense of minorities against violence by the majority.”

Racism was made a crime, in 1989, and carries prison sentences of up to five years.

The Brazilian Senate is reportedly also reviewing a bill to criminalize discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender, with sentences of up to five years. 

According to rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia, some 420 LGBT people were killed across Brazil in 2018 and at least 141 so far in 2019.

Brazil led the world in transgender homicides in 2017, with 171 murders, according to the organization TransEurope.

The remaining five judges are set to vote in June, but the current result will not be modified and will take effect after.

]]> <![CDATA[Honduras: Teacher Unions Marching Against Privatization]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 23:28:21 -04:00 Teachers in Honduras called for a national strike on Wednesday to demand the elimination of executive decrees that declared both health and education sectors in a state of national emergency and other methods of attempted privatization.


Honduras: Doctors, Teachers Continue Strike After Repression

In a statement, teachers called on members from Honduras' 18 departments to join in the marches that will be taking place on Thursday and Friday in all departments and concentrated in Tegucigalpa. They have requested that schools and educational institutions make their premises available for participants of the demonstrations. 

The secretary of the Professional Teachers Union of Honduras (COPRUMH), Daniel Esponda, confirmed that there would be no classes Friday for the public education system of Honduras.

The teachers' referendum also included the acknowledgment of support from the National Pedagogic University Francisco Morazan (UPNFM), the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), and parents and students who have joined the protests. 

"Historically, the Teachers Union has not lost any struggle in the country because their requests have always been fair and for the benefit of the people. Over 60,000 teachers join together again in #Honduras, demanding the elimination of emergency decrees in health and education." 

The union of teachers condemned the repression they experienced at the hands of the national police and special forces. The statement also included the reiteration of their firm stance on the platform for the defense of education and health. 

The protests have been ongoing since last April when the national Congress repealed two of the controversial decrees during a rushed session. This decision was made after chaotic demonstrations in the Honduran capital that resulted in violent clashes between demonstrators and police forces. While these decrees were repealed, the current demand is to eliminate them permanently. 

Esponda added that in order for teachers to achieve their goals, including the restructuring of the education secretary and filling more seats, they do not need new laws or emergency decrees. He stresses that this can be achieved simply by enforcing the Teachers' Statute. 

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil MPs Rebuff Bolsonaro's Move to Weaken Indigenous Agency]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 23:35:25 -04:00 Brazil’s lower house of Congress Wednesday rebuffed President Jair Bolsonaro’s move to put decisions on Indigenous land claims in the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Brazil: Bolsonaro Modified Decree Easing Assault Rifle Sales

Lawmakers voted to restore land delineation decisions to the National Indigenous Affairs agency Funai, which will also be placed under the Ministry of Justice again.

The reversal must still be voted on in the Senate.

The far-right president had alarmed anthropologists and environmentalists by planning to assimilate Brazil’s 800,000 Indigenous people into Brazilian society and open reservation lands to commercial agriculture and mining, even in the Amazon rainforest.

Bolsonaro’s first decree reorganizing the executive branch the day he took office in January put Funai under a newly created Women, Family and Human Rights Ministry headed by an evangelical pastor who wants to Christianize Indigenous people.

Brazil’s main Indigenous organization APIB called Wednesday’s vote a historic victory against the government’s plan to open up Indigenous lands to agribusiness.

Indigenous leaders protested that without their ancestral lands, Indigenous languages, cultures and ways of life would die.

“Our relation with the land is about sustainability and respect for Mother Nature,” APIB said in a statement.

Environmentalists have defended the reservations as the best way to stop deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, considered by many as nature’s best defense against global warming, with its trees absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide.

]]> <![CDATA[Hungary: Foreign Minister Rejects Western European Criticism on China]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 23:24:20 -04:00 Hungary's foreign minister Thursday accused major Western European nations of "hypocrisy" and "hysteria" for criticizing central European countries' business dealings with China, and defended Hungary's use of Huawei 5G mobile phone technology.


China Ready to Tackle US President Trump's Tech Cold War

Sixteen central and eastern European countries, including 11 European Union members, held a summit with China in April during which it pledged to increase trade and provide more support for big cross-border infrastructure projects.

The area is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to link China by sea and land with Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

France and Germany oppose such independent moves, which they fear might make Europe appear disunited at a time when the EU is trying to forge a more defensive strategy towards China.

On Tuesday, speaking to reporters in Paris, France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire criticized "negotiations of 16 states from the east with China in parallel to negotiations that the EU is leading with China".

But Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who is serving in the government of far-right Prime Minister Victor Orban, rejected such criticism, saying Germany and France do far more business with China than the central European states, and often negotiate directly with Beijing.

"There is such a bad hypocrisy in the European Union when it comes to China," Szijjarto told Reuters on the sidelines of an OECD meeting in Paris. "The 11 central and eastern European member states ... represent 9.9 percent of EU trade with China."

"When the German chancellor and French president meet China's leadership nobody thinks that's a problem," he said. "Nobody raises a question about how it is possible that they sell 300 aircraft to China, which is a bigger deal than the (entire) trade represented by the 11 central European countries."

He said it was also unfair for Western European states to criticize Hungary for using technology from Chinese firm Huawei in its 5G mobile phone networks, when those networks were being built under license by German and British companies, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.

Hungary's government has been at odds with Brussels for the erosion of media and judicial independence, attacks on civil organizations, treatment of migrants, laws against poverty, and the ousting of educational institutions like the progressive Central European University.  

]]> <![CDATA[Minority Coalition for Netanyahu as Liberman Refuses to Join]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 22:08:00 -04:00 With less than a week before the deadline to form a coalition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met urgently on Thursday with right-wing parties in a bid to form a majority coalition, but without Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu party the PM will not muster enough seats. 

Israel: Netanyahu Wins Re-Election, Gantz Concedes Defeat

As the May 28 deadline approaches to present their coalition, Netanyahu called a meeting of all right-wing parties but former Defense Minister Liberman, leader of Israel Beitenu was not expected to attend.

Afterward, Netanyahu’s Likud party issued a statement saying that right-wing parties had agreed on the necessity to form a right-wing government, even if it doesn’t comprise Liberman.

This would mean that without Israel Beitenu’s five seats, Netanyahu would have to attempt to win the Knesset approval for a coalition with only 60 members, one short of a majority in the 120-member Israeli parliament. Liberman said he would vote against a minority government.

“A government of 60 is not a right-wing government, but an ultra-Orthodox government that, instead of preserving Israel as a Jewish state, will change it into a theocracy,” Liberman said.

The former Defense Minister, leader of the secularist party, has not agreed on the right-wing coalition over the ultra-orthodox refusals to allow men to serve in the military. 

On April 9 in the Israeli Legislative Elections, the right-wing Likud won 35 seats, the ultra-orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism won eight seats each, while the Right-wing union got five and Kulanu four. Yet Netanyahu counted on Liberman’s five seats to secure a parliamentary majority. 


According to the Israeli legislative process, after results were announced, all parties with representation submitted their chosen prime ministerial candidate to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The head of state assigned the job of forming a coalition to a party leader he believed has the best chance of forming a coalition, which was Netanyahu.

The candidate doesn’t have to be from the party that gained the most number of seats. It depends on the most likely person able to form a coalition. The nominee has up to 42 days to form a government before the president asks another politician to try.

]]> <![CDATA[Purdue Corrupted WHO to Boost Opioid Sales: Congress' Report]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 23:11:57 -04:00 Highly-addictive opioid-maker Purdue Pharma has influenced the content of the World Health Policies in order to make more profits in its sales of opioids, according to a congressional report released on Thursday and reported by Ars Tecnica.

Canada Sues Opioid Producers for Damages, Public Sector Cost

"The web of influence we uncovered paints a picture of a public health organization that has been manipulated by the opioid industry," said one of the report's author, representative Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), in a statement.

"The WHO appears to be lending the opioid industry its voice and credibility, and as a result, a trusted public health organization is trafficking dangerous misinformation that could lead to a global opioid epidemic," she added.

The report, commissioned in 2017 after representatives alerted the Congress, found two problematic guidance documents issued by the global organization in 2011 and in 2012: one affirming that opioids caused dependence in less than 1 percent of the case - an estimate that was already contested then - and a second one dismissing doctors' "opiophobia", affirming that there was no maximum doasge recommended for children, despite scientific literature already contesting such statement.

"It is difficult to imagine that the WHO could have been unaware that their claim was widely disputed," the report said. "Moreover, it seems impossible that the agency remains unaware of the true risk of substance-use disorder today. Yet [the guidance] remains available to the public."

Purdue faces roughly 2,000 lawsuits accusing the Stamford, Connecticut-based company, and increasingly the Sacklers, of aggressively marketing prescription opioids while misleading prescribers and consumers about risks from their prolonged use.

U.S. states, counties and cities are seeking billions of dollars in damages to address harm from opioids. Nearly 400,000 people have died after overdosing on opioids between 1999 and 2017, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half the deaths resulted from prescription painkillers.

Purdue has denied so far it contributed to the U.S. opioid crisis, pointing to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approvals of labels for the company's drugs that carried warnings about risk and abuse associated with treating pain. Purdue and its family owners argue that heroin and fentanyl are currently more significant culprits in the opioid epidemic.

However, health experts have said many people turn to those drugs after first getting hooked on prescription painkillers.

In March, Purdue and the Sackler family reached a US$270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma, which on Tuesday is set to take two other drugmakers to trial over claims they also helped fuel the opioid epidemic.

]]> <![CDATA[Femicides in Argentina Total 1,193 Since 2015 Protests Began]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 22:29:02 -04:00 A total of 1,193 women have been murdered in Argentina since June 3, 2015, when the first #NiUnaMenos (Not One More) marches were held in Buenos Aires, which shone a light internationally on the problem of violence against woman.


Argentina Already Has Its First Femicide in 2019

According to data released Thursday by a gender violence watchdog group named Now They See Us, from that first demonstration, which has become an annual event in many cities around the world, a woman in Argentina has been murdered every 30 hours.

From the start of 2019 to May 20, 133 femicides have been recorded, of which 121 were deaths of women and the other 12 were children related to them.

A majority of the murders, 52, occurred in the province of Buenos Aires, followed by Cordoba, with 12. These crimes left 84 children orphaned.

Eighty-eight percent of the perpetrators were known by the victim either intimately or as an acquaintance: 42 percent were partners, 21 percent ex-partners, 14 percent were relatives, 11 percent were casual acquaintances, and 2.5 percent were strangers.

Also, 17 of every 100 murdered women had reported abuse, and eight of every 100 had restraining orders in place issued by the courts.

"The number of femicides is alarming. For years, we have not been able to reduce the number of femicides in Argentina and the government of Mauricio Macri does not implement any public policies aimed at eradicating violence against women," said Raquel Vivanco, president of the observer.

The data will be presented officially on May 30 in the country’s Chamber of Deputies, where the group will also disclose a report on how much progress the media has made in treating cases of murder of women not as "crimes of passion" but referring to the legal concept of "feminicide" or "femicide," as it is known in Argentina.

Vivanco warned that women will continue to be killed daily if the necessary measures are not taken.

Different social organizations counted between 259 and 273 femicides in Argentina in 2018, figures taken from reports of deaths that appeared in the press.

]]> <![CDATA[Over 150 Taiwan Gay Couples to Marry in Historic Day for Asia]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 21:24:50 -04:00 Taiwan's first official same-sex weddings will take place later on Friday in a landmark moment for LGBT rights in Asia, a week after lawmakers took the historic decision to legalise gay marriage.

Chicago's 1st Openly Gay Mayor Takes Office Vowing Reform

In Taipei, more than 150 same-sex couples are scheduled to register on Friday, according to local authorities. The city hall will co-host an outdoor wedding party near the famous Taipei 101 skyscraper, with local and foreign dignitaries expected to attend.

Among those tying the knot will be social worker Huang Mei-yu, who will be marrying her partner You Ya-ting.

Legal recognition of their love, Huang said, was a crucial step and might help others accept the relationship.

"Now that same-sex marriage is legally recognized, I think my parents might finally feel that it's real and stop trying to talk me into getting married (to a man)," she said.

Taiwan made history last week when it became the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage, sparking jubilation among huge crowds of gay rights supporters on the streets of Taipei.

Same-sex marriage has also caused deep divisions on an island that remains staunchly conservative, especially outside of the cities and among older generations.

For veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei, Friday's weddings are the culmination of a three-decade-long fight trying to persuade successive governments to change the law.

It was Chi who eventually petitioned Taiwan's Constitutional Court leading to a 2017 judgment that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional.

Facing an imminent court deadline, parliament finally passed a bill last Friday allowing same-sex couples to form "exclusive permanent unions" and another clause that would let them apply for a "marriage registration" with government agencies.

Conservatives put forward rival bills that offered something closer to limited same-sex unions but those measures failed.

However, the new law still has restrictions not faced by heterosexual couples.

Same-sex couples can currently only adopt their partners' biological children and can only wed foreigners from countries where gay marriage is also recognized.

Conservative and religious groups were buoyed by a series of referendum wins in November, in which voters comprehensively rejected defining marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman.

Opponents have vowed to punish President Tsai Ing-wen and the lawmakers who supported the gay marriage law at January's elections when Taiwanese will elect both a new president and a new parliament.

]]> <![CDATA[Iran vs. US: Who Will Win the War ... of Words?]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 20:59:39 -04:00 As tensions rise between Iran and the United States (U.S.), leaders of both nations have upped their dangerous war rhetoric. On Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that his country will not surrender to the U.S., even if attacked, according to state media.  

War With The US Will Be The End Of Iran: Trump

"We need resistance so our enemies know that if they bomb our land, and if our children are martyred, wounded or taken as prisoners, we will not give up on our goals for the independence of our country and our pride," Rouhani said while addressing a ceremony in commemoration of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. 

Rouhani made similar remarks on May 11 as he called for unity among political factions, warning that due to current economic sanctions, conditions may be harder than those faced in the 1980s war with Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Persian nation’s armed forces chief of staff, Major-General Mohammad Baqeri, has stated that "the confrontation and face off ... is the arena for a clash of wills," which neither seems willing to lose. 

This comes as a response to Sunday's tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump, where he threatened to end Iran if they went to war. About a week prior, Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division warned that "if the U.S. makes a move” they will “hit them in the head." 

Nevertheless, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has emphasized that Tehran does not seek or want war with the U.S. despite mounting tensions. While the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Major General Hossein Salami, has downplayed U.S. actions, pointing out that the U.S. is just using psychological war to pressure the Iranian government.

This back and forth between both countries comes as Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal last year, and subsequently reimposed tough sanctions on Iran’s oil industry to strangle the country’s economy. 

On April 22, measures got worse as Trump decided to eliminate all waivers issued to eight economies allowing them to buy Iranian oil, basically imposing third-party sanctions. The Iranian response was to resume high-level enrichment of uranium if world powers did not protect its interests against U.S. sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani announced on May 8.

In a tit-for-tat, the U.S. increased their threat in the region by deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, a bomber task force of B-52s and a Patriot missile defense battery in a bid to intimidate Iran. A U.S. official said the forces "have been ordered to the region as a deterrence."

However, it seems that not even U.S. citizens want a war with Iran. Around 60 percent said the country should not conduct a pre-emptive attack on the Iranian military, while 12 percent advocate for striking first according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.

So for the moment, clashes continue, well at least those through Twitter and official statements.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Admin to Exploit Loophole to Sell Weapons to Saudi Arabia]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 19:59:02 -04:00 U.S. President Donald Trump’s top officials are getting ready to bypass Congress using a legal loophole in order to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, amid rising tensions with Iran.

US Senate Rejects Veto Override of Yemen War Resolution

“I am hearing that Trump may use an obscure loophole in the Arms Control Act and notice a major new sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia (the ones they drop in Yemen) in a way that would prevent Congress from objecting. Could happen this week,” Senator Chris Murphy (D) warned Wednesday on Twitter.

This comes after the U.S. Senate and House approved a bipartisan resolution in February and March, using the 1973 War Powers Act to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen, and rebuffing President Donald Trump's policy toward the kingdom. Trump vetoed the congressional resolution, but any sale of weapons would still need congressional approval. 

However, the Trump administration could avoid Congress altogether by citing rising tensions with Iran in order to call on emergency provisions. If a national emergency is declared, Trump would justify selling weapons to Saudi Arabia by arguing that the Kingdom is a strategic partner in the region. 

According to a report from the University Network for Human Rights (UNHR) and Yemeni monitoring group Mwatana, the U.S. — and U.K. — made weapons have killed or maimed nearly 1,000 civilians in Yemen, including children and women, since the start of the war in 2015. 

Dubbed the “Forgotten War,” the Yemeni civil war started on March 26, 2015, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of countries into a military campaign against Ansar Allah (Houthi) rebels in Yemen in support of the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi. 

The war in Yemen has already, according to a United Nation’s report, claimed 230,000 lives, many of those civilian, and has left almost 14 million people at increased risk of famine. “At least 85,000 children may have died of hunger and preventable diseases,” General Director of Pax International Jan Gruiters said. 

]]> <![CDATA[Honduran Congress Moves Journalism Awards After Protest Threats]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 19:37:51 -04:00 The National Congress of Honduras announced an abrupt change of venue Thursday morning for an annual event meant to honor journalists. The president of the National Congress cited threats of boycott and vandalism from the Libre political party as the reason.


Honduras: Murder Rate Surges Deflating Hopes for a Better 2019

The Premios Parlamentarios (Parliamentary Prizes) 2019 event was scheduled to take place Thursday morning within the legislative chambers of Honduras’ National Congress. However, it was held instead at a restaurant somewhere in the capital of Tegucigalpa.

At the new restaurant venue, 12 journalists were awarded prizes in different categories.

Authorities from the National Congress said that there were threats of a boycott of the awards made by the Libertad y Refundacion (Liberty and Refounding, or Libre) party and in one tweet said there was a threat of vandalism within the chamber.

A member of the Libre party, lawmaker Edgardo Castro, confirmed that party members were planning to disrupt the ceremony to call attention to a new election law in the works.

President of the National Congress Mauricio Oliva commented on local television news that he wanted to make sure the event took place in “peace.”

Members from the Libre party — which was founded in 2011 by the National Popular Resistance Front, a leftist coalition opposed to the coup of 2009 — have used theatrics in the legislative chamber to make its point. On Wednesday, one party member burned the Honduran constitution on the chamber floor.

They have also declared an end to the “condescension” of the ruling parties and to "bipartisanship." In a statement released May 15, the party announced their "insurrection" which will include protests at every Congressional session.

]]> <![CDATA[US Urging Firms to Stop Trading Fuel with Venezuela: Report]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 19:16:15 -04:00 The United States is threatening foreign firms with sanctions if they do not stop trading jet fuel with Venezuela, according to a report from Reuters.


Timeline of Half a Decade of US Economic War Against Venezuela

The news agency cites two industry sources, who say U.S. State Department officials made calls to several large Swiss-and British-based trading houses. The aim is to limit commercial and military flights in Venezuela, as Washington continues its efforts to undermine the democratically-elected government of Nicolas Maduro.

"We continue to engage with companies in the energy sector on the possible risks they face by conducting business with (Venezuela's state oil company) PDVSA," a State Department official said when asked about the calls.

This latest attempt to hurt Venezuela’s economy follows similar calls made in March, during which U.S. officials told global trading houses and oil refiners they also would face sanctions unless they stopped working with Venezuela.

U.S. officials have been trying to end deliveries of gasoline and refined products necessary to make Venezuela's heavy crude ready for export. In March, at a conference in Houston, Texas, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even laid out a vision of working with energy firms to isolate Iran and Venezuela.

]]> <![CDATA[EU Parliamentary Elections Kick Off in UK and Netherlands]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 18:56:07 -04:00 Dutch and British voters started voting Thursday for the European Parliament. From May 23 to 26, the European Union’s (EU) 28 member states will choose a total of 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

EU Parliament Elections: A Far-right Takeover?

Polls opened first in the Netherlands, then half an hour later the election began across the U.K., as both nations kicked off the four-day election process, marking the ninth occasion since the first direct elections in 1979. The current number of MEPs is 751, although those seats are set to drop to 705 when the U.K. leaves the bloc. The Dutch currently get 26 MEPs, a number that will rise to 29 after Brexit. 

This year’s elections will be closely watched as Eurosceptic and far-right parties poise themselves as new and powerful players. The Dutch vote is the first test of the appeal the far-right and nationalist, as well as Eurosceptic, parties running in elections across the bloc. Based on those results alone, the outcome may offer some relief to pro-EU supporters.

In an unexpected win, the Netherlands’ Labour party won most Dutch votes Thursday, according to an exit poll, easily beating the nationalist Eurosceptic Forum for Democracy party of populist Thierry Baudet, who had been topping the polls.

“I hope that this gives a tailwind for a lot of other social democrats in Europe,” European Commissioner Frans Timmermans, Labour’s lead candidate, said in reaction to the poll result.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party finished second, loosely followed by Forum for Democracy, which had been neck and neck in polls with the VVD. But the biggest upset was the anti-Islam far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) founded by Geert Wilders.

All voting intention polls were giving Wilders’ PVV about 10 percent of the vote, which would have meant similar results as 2014 — four seats in the EU Parliament. However, according to Ipsos, Wilders' party merely got four percent, a decade low, which means only one MEP for the Dutch far-right. 

Meanwhile, the British also took to the polls Thursday. U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned in the morning that “the far-right is on the rise,” adding that “the actions we take now will have huge consequences for our future.”

Although no exit polls are expected Thursday night from the U.K. voting, many prior polls and the latest YouGov poll Wednesday placed Nigel Farage’s recently created (Feb. 2019) Eurosceptic Brexit party, as the big winner with about 37 percent. 

The pollster predicted that Liberal Democrats will come in second with 19 percent, Corbyn’s Labour with 13, closely followed by the Green party with 12 and the Conservatives of Prime Minister Theresa May with a mere seven percent. From these figures, the U.K. will get 73 MEPs. Yet the government said that if Brexit occurs by the end of June, they will not take up their seats.

Latvia, Malta, and Slovakia will vote on May 25, while the Czech Republic will have two days to go to ballots on May 24 and 25. The remaining countries will vote on May 26, as final results from all 28 EU nations will be published after voting ends late Sunday.

]]> <![CDATA[UN Declares Algeria and Argentina Free of Deadly Malaria ]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 18:34:42 -04:00 Algeria — the nation where malaria was discovered — is officially free of malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, making it the third African country to eliminate one of the world’s leading killer diseases.

Malawi to Pilot Groundbreaking Malaria Vaccine

With no recorded cases of malaria in three consecutive years, Argentina was also declared malaria-free — the second country in the Americas after Paraguay in 45 years to wipe out the disease, which kills more than 400,000 people a year.

“Algeria is where the malaria parasite was first discovered in humans almost a century and a half ago, and that was a significant milestone in responding to the disease,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa.

“Now Algeria has shown the rest of Africa that malaria can be beaten through country leadership, bold action, sound investment and science. The rest of the continent can learn from this experience,” he said in a statement.

Algeria is the third African nation to become malaria free, after Mauritius in 1973 and Morocco in 2010, which brings economic benefits, said Abdourahmane Diallo, head of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership to End Malaria.

“Malaria-free status provides external economic benefits ... enabling them to free up resources to address other health and development priorities and improve worker productivity and school attendance,” he said.

]]> <![CDATA[US Announces 17 New Charges Against Julian Assange]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 16:12:15 -04:00 The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced 17 new criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying he unlawfully published the names of classified sources and conspired and assisted ex-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in obtaining access to classified information.


Ecuador Agrees to Deliver Assange’s Documents, Devices to US: Report

The superseding indictment comes a little more than a month after the Justice Department unsealed a narrower criminal case against Assange.

He was initially charged with conspiring with Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of a 2010 leak by WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some of which exposed potential war crimes.

In response to new charges, Wikileaks tweeted: "This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment."

Assange is currently fighting extradition to the U.S., after Ecuador revoked his seven-year asylum in the country's London embassy back in April. He was arrested on April 11 by British police.

He is now serving a 50-week sentence in a London jail for skipping bail when he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012.


]]> <![CDATA[Egypt Court Orders Release of Journalist After Nearly 3 Years ]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 15:50:02 -04:00 An Egyptian court Thursday ordered the release of a journalist from Al Jazeera television network held in pretrial detention for more than two years, his lawyer and a judicial source said.


Afghan Journalist, Women's Education Advocate Shot Dead

It is unclear when Mahmoud Hussein will be released from prison. Gamal Eid, the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said that under Egyptian law he should be released from prison within 24 hours.

"This is a final court ruling but the problem is that security forces tend to delay releases when they do not like those freed," said Eid.

Hussein, who was detained in 2016, was being held on charges of spreading false news, joining a banned group and receiving foreign funds, his lawyer Taher Abou Nasr said.

Zahra Hussein, the journalist's daughter, announced her father’s release with a social media post that said: “Dad has been freed, thank god.”

At the time of his arrest, Hussein was in Egypt on holiday.

Another Al-Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Shamy, who was imprisoned in Egypt between 2013 and 2014, wrote on Twitter that Hussein has been released with “precautionary measures” although the measures have not been clarified by the court.

Cairo accuses Qatar of supporting the Brotherhood, which the country branded as a terrorist group in 2013. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful group.

Rights groups accuse the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of a sweeping crackdown on dissent, which they say is the worst ever for Egypt.

Since 2013 when Sisi took power, thousands of Islamist opponents, as well as scores of liberal activists and journalists, have been imprisoned by the authorities.

In February, the United Nations called Hussain’s imprisonment “arbitrary detention.”

]]> <![CDATA[Trump's Anti-Iran, 'Arab NATO'  Dangerous, Russia Warns]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 16:32:42 -04:00 Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin on Thursday said that the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (SAME), known as the Arab NATO, is a dangerous proposal and will create new dividing lines in the region.

Iran Will 'Suffer Greatly' If They Target US Interests: Trump

"As for the creation of different coalitions, ad hoc coalitions or alliances, we believe that it would be extremely important, given the current situation, not to create additional dividing lines in the region, in the Near and the Middle East in particular," Vershinin said. "It is a dangerous path. We should look for something that unites us in this region."

The Strategic Alliance of the Middle East, which U.S. President Donald Trump announced as "the Deal of the Century" on April 14, is a military cooperation tool aimed at boosting an anti-Iran alliance by summoning Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.

This initiative, which was first suggested by the Arab League in 2015, has been widely promoted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton since Trump revived the idea in 2017.

So far, however, the alliance has not been successful due to discrepancies among GCC countries over Washington's stance on Iran.

While Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain defend a hard-line policy, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman want to improve relations with the Islamic Republic.

Additionally, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced in April that his country, which has the largest army in the region, will not participate in the U.S. military initiative.

In March 2018, Trump negotiated with Saudi Arabia huge purchases of U.S. weapons. On January 10, during a conference held at the Arab University in Cairo, Pompeo said that the SAME was already underway and that it would be an alliance against Iranian expansionism.

"In practice, it would be a Sunni-Jewish alliance against the Shiites ... its real objective would be to prevent Russian and Chinese influence in the region," said Antonio Abreu, a Portuguese research journalist.

"In any case, this ‘Arab’ alliance will be driven by the Pentagon. Israel would secretly play the same role performed by the U.K. in the Baghdad Pact during the Cold War," Abreu said. "The SAME would be limited to organizing national armies interoperability, but without any joint military operation. It would especially ensure the compatibility of their armaments in order to maintain those countries purchasing U.S.-manufactured weapons."

]]> <![CDATA[Pentagon Considering Sending More Troops to Middle East]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 16:33:11 -04:00 Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan Thursday confirmed that the Pentagon is considering sending additional troops to the Middle East as Washington continues to ratchet up tensions with Iran.


Majority US Population Rejects Preemptive Strike on Iran: Study

"What we're looking at is: Are there things that we can do to enhance force protection in the Middle East," Shanahan said. "It may involve sending additional troops."

Earlier Thursday, the Associated Press reported that defense officials were preparing to present the Trump administration with a plan to send 10,000 more troops to the region.

Citing anonymous U.S. officials, the Associated Press reported that the plan also includes more ships and Patriot missile batteries. But the officials insisted that no final decision has been made and that it’s unclear whether the Trump administration will approve it.

Tensions between the two countries have been rising since the U.S. military accelerated the deployment of a carrier strike group to the Middle East earlier this month in response to what Washington called troubling threats from Iran. However, the United States has provided no evidence of the alleged Iranian threats.

At the same time, U.S. President Donald Trump has been ratcheting up his rhetoric. On Sunday, Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Last week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran does not seek war with the United States.

“There won’t be any war. The Iranian nation has chosen the path of resistance,” Khamenei was cited as saying by the state media. “We don’t seek a war, and they don’t either. They know it’s not in their interests.

]]> <![CDATA[UN: Bolivia’s Universal Healthcare Is 'Model For The World']]> Thu, 23 May 2019 15:58:01 -04:00 The U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) praised Bolivia’s newly implemented universal health care system, known in the country as the Single Health System (SUS). The WHO pointed out that Bolivia’s leftist government has given generous funding and resources to health, ensuring free treatment for all.


Bolivia's Housing Program Benefitted 150,000 Since 2006

Alfonso Tenorio, a representative of the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization, spoke Wednesday in Geneva, in praise of Bolivia’s health system and the country’s health minister Gabriela Montaño.

Tenorio spoke afterwards with state radio company Red Patria Nueva, saying: “Bolivia has become an important model for the world ... the minister is always taking advantage of the strength of others and the exchange of knowledge to strengthen the SUS.”

The day before, Carina Vance, UNASUR representative, also praised Bolivia’s leftist government, saying that they have “deepened the right to healthcare.”

The SUS was officially formed on March 1, 2019, ensuring that millions of previously uninsured Bolivians now have access to free treatment. In the first 20 days of the system being launched, it was announced that over 30,000 had already received free treatment. The SUS has also initiated vaccination campaigns across the country, in one such campaign, over 80,000 were inoculated in just one week, in the department of Cochabamba. Experts have argued that such social programs are possible thanks to the nationalization of much of the country’s natural resources in 2006.

Other leftist governments in the region have also achieved significant results in health. On Tuesday, the Sandinista government in Nicaragua announced a 40% drop in infant mortality in the first few months of 2019.  

]]> <![CDATA[China Ready to Tackle US President Trump's Tech Cold War]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 14:24:34 -04:00 A recent tour by Chinese President Xi Jinping across southern China was an indicator of how the Asian leader will fight against President Donald Trump's trade war, namely, China is readying to replace U.S. technology with its own.

US Crackdown on Huawei Typical Economic Bullying: Chinese FM

"The most important thing now is to focus on our own (products), to promote independent innovation capabilities in key areas and to accelerate the development of our own intellectual property-related technology," said Xi Tuesday in Nanchang, the cultural, economic and scientific center of Jiangxi Province.

Xi has said his country will go through a "technological transition," comparing it to the 1934 Chinese Long March.

"China is on a new Long March. The country now depends on the Party and the people's strong will and firm faith to secure new victories," said Xi in Ganzhou, the city where the communist march began.

His statements occur when the Trump administration intensified its trade war on the country, putting Huawei on a blacklist of foreign technology companies that will be denied access to U.S. technologies and consumers. This decision may be the first scenario for a long-lasting tech cold war.

"Companies like Huawei will take some time to get technology and register cutting-edge patents ... but Huawei has great advantages to survive: the huge Chinese domestic market and government subsidies," said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, Director of the Political Science Department at the Hong Kong Baptist University.

The scholar also explained that the so-called "tech cold war" will affect the global economy due to the high degree of interdependence between the United States and China.

"Uncoupling the most strategic sectors of the U.S. and Western economies from those of China is already inevitable. ... [However] the dispute will not affect all trade between China and the West."

The tech cold war concept appeared Thursday in Chinese media editorials in which the U.S. is accused of being more concerned about who will dominate technology than global economic growth.

"Google will only hurt itself by breaking with Huawei, a leading company which has the potential to revolutionize global economy with 5G," the China Daily said. 

Google announced this week it would not allow Huawei users to update their Android phone systems in a matter of 90 days. According to the China Daily, the country's prospertity depends upon becoming a great technological power and enhancing its domestic consumption, saying though "the U.S. is determined to prevent this from happening at any price, including [trade-related] discriminatory practices."

On Thursday, China's Foreign Affairs Minister spokesman Lu Kang criticized Washington in a serious manner.

"U.S. uses its national powers to oppress Chinese technology. Obviously, this does not help to create a proper atmosphere for resuming trade negotiations."

"We're used to the distinction between hard and soft power, but what's being used here is a kind of 'sharp power' where the U.S., in particular, is trying to bully or coerce other countries to follow their particular line on something like technology," the London School of Economics Co-director, Iain Begg told Reuters.

]]> <![CDATA[Canada: Indigenous Activist Calls Trudeau ‘Liar, Weak Leader’]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 12:24:35 -04:00 An Indigenous leader from Canada called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a "liar" and a "weak leader" at a Liberal Party fundraiser in Vancouver Wednesday, calling out the political leader for promoting oil extraction in the country while claiming to be a climate change advocate.


Trudeau Angers Indigenous Community After Axing Whistleblowers

Trudeau was speaking at a Liberal Party fundraiser in Vancouver when Will George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver confronted him with questions about the government’s plan to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline.

He asked whether Trudeau plans to push the pipeline project through.

"You're a liar and you're a weak leader," George said. "Climate leaders don't build pipelines. We say no. No means no."

Trudeau was giving a speech at the event about the necessity of “real action” on climate change when George questioned him.

George is a member of Protect the Inlet, an advocacy group iniated by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in what is now referred to as Vancouver, against the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion by its owner, Kinder Morgan.

“Our waters, those are our spiritual highways. You have no right to do that to us,” said George.

Trudeau has advocated for Canadian competion with U.S. oil companies saying the government would build pipelines “right away.”

The pipeline, a purchase of US$4.5 billion approved by the Canadian government last August, was immediately shut down by Canada's First Court of Appeal, deciding the government failed to effectively consult First Nations groups or assess the environmental impact of the expansion.

The original Trans Mountain line has already registered 81 oil spills since 1961.

“As long as Justin Trudeau continues to come to BC and sell his dirty pipeline, I’ll be here to tell him that he will be met with fierce opposition. He sells his story of truth and reconciliation and tells the world that he wants to be a climate leader while buying a diluted bitumen pipeline,” said George at the event.

Examined: Indigenous Resistance To Major Oil Pipelines

After being questioned by the Tsleil-Waututh leader, Trudeau said that he was also concerned about the environment, and hence his government is planning a “world-class” ocean protection plan with the partnership of Indigenous communities.

George was removed from the room a while after confronting the prime minister.

He later told the reporters that Trudeau has “directly threatened our body of water here. It's important for me to go in there in these rooms and tell him he's not welcome here and neither is this pipeline.”

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: Bolsonaro Modifies Decree Easing Assault Rifle Sales]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 13:19:39 -04:00 Due to public and political pushback in Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was forced to soften his previous executive decree and prohibit the sale of rifles and shotguns to the public.

Brazil Loosens Gun Control, Civilians Can Own Military Rifles

Under the newest proposal, revised from the original May 8 decree, only politicians, truck drivers, crime reporters, transport companies employees, hunters, shooting club members, among others, will be allowed to purchase guns.

In all cases, weapon bearers must be over 25 years old, cannot have criminal records and must prove they are "morally suitability" and possess "psychological and technical capabilities" to use arms. Previously, purchasers only needed to be 18 years old. 

Big news for those against the measure, Bolsonaro backed off on allowing the public to purchase the T4 rifle, a 5.56 caliber weapon with a force of 1320 joules.

"Facilitating the possession of weapons in a country with high rates of violence is a serious human rights violation," Erika Guevara, Director of Amnesty International for America said, adding that Bolsonaro's discriminatory rhetoric encourages "hate crimes" and "gives an order to attack."

"Lula: violence is faught by providing education and employment rather than weapons."

At the end of 2017, the Geneva-based NGO Small Arms Survey estimated that 15 million weapons were in circulation in Brazil, putting it among the world's top 10 most armed nations.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) also reported that Brazil was the country with the most deaths caused by firearms (43,000) in 2016. The United States followed with 37,200 homicides, India with 26,500, 15,400 in Mexico, and 13,300 in Colombia.

Recently, a NGO which monitors violence, the Brazilian Public Security Forum, said that local authorities seize some 120,000 illegal weapons a year within the country.

During his 2018 presidential campaign, the former army captain, famous for gesturing shooting a gun, promised that he would encourage "self-defense" with the loosening of gun sales. President Bolsonaro justified his proposal saying 65 percent of the population supported an ease on rifle and hand gun sales, which President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva shot down in 2005.

"Taurus' headquarters are in Brazil but its owners are U.S. citizens!!! If they want killings, just increase weapons sales from the Miami factory to the gringos... Taurus says Bolsonaro's decree releases rifle sales to civilians. The manufacturer expects the regulation to take effect in order to serve customers. 'There are 2,000 people waiting,' it says."

However, a Monday poll by Parana Pesquisas found that 60 percent of Brazilians do not want to have a weapon at home.

"Freedom is more important than life," said Bolsonaro while posing with a T4 rifle in front of a Taurus stand at a 2017 arms show.

A Taurus spokeperson said that it can still offer customers "a complete product portfolio which includes pistols, tactical weapons and sports long weapons in twelve different calibers," while still remaining within the confines of the decree.

]]> <![CDATA[EU Parliament Elections: A Far-right Takeover? ]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 11:50:10 -04:00 The next election of the European Parliament will be held from May 23 to 26, marking the ninth parliamentary vote since the first direct elections in 1979. A total of 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will be chosen to represent a population of more than 512 million people from the EU’s 28 member states.


Far-right Parties Could Double Seats in EU Vote With Steve Bannon's Puppeteering: Poll

These elections will mark a precedent in the bloc’s history, as far-right, nationalist and Eurosceptic parties have appeared as new and powerful political actors, but who are they and do they really represent a “threat” for the EU?

On May 18, Nationalist parties from across Europe held a rally led by Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, promising to reshape the continent following next week’s EU parliamentary election. 

While the beleaguered Austrian Freedom Party had to skip the event — due to its leader quitting after corruption scandals — parties from 11 countries did show up, including France’s National Rally (RN), Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV). Salvini announced the creation of the European Alliance for People and Nations (EAPN), where all like-minded parties would converge. 

“This is a historic moment,” said RN leader Marine Le Pen, and, in a sense, she was right as Europe had not seen this large support or openness to the far-right, in some cases borderline fascist parties, since the beginning of the 20 century. 

“The signs of the ‘30s are resurfacing,” United Nations special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng, a Senegalese lawyer, has warned, adding that “unless we are blind or of bad faith, we should admit that it’s time to stand up,” referring to the advance of a new class of nationalist, far-right leaders in Europe is reminiscent of the 1930s when Nazis rose to power.

So who are the main parties that lead this rise of right-wing nationalism?

Italian Northern League leader Matteo Salvini speaks during a political rally in Milan, Italy February 24, 2018. Photo: Reuters 


The strongest far-right party is the Italian Lega (League), led by Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Salvini. The League's popularity in Italy is largely based on an anti-migration discourse and nationalist populism, as well as anti-Muslim rhetoric such as when Salvini said Europe will become an “Islamic caliphate” unless nationalist parties make gains in next elections.

In the 2018 Italian General elections, the party won 37 percent of the votes, emerging with a relative majority of votes in the parliament.

On Saturday's rally, Salvini told the crowds that “there are no extremists, racists or fascists in this square,” as a bid to distance themselves from neo-nazi ties. However, its past open use of symbols, vocabulary and ideas of Benito Mussolini-era fascism raise questions on the validity of his latest remarks. At the same time, Salvini's government has shown its indifference to human rights as it has implemented various measures to stop the migrants from disembarking. 

A poll on voting intentions in Italy has given Salvini’s League about 32 percent of the vote

Marine Le Pen, leader of French National Rally party gestures as she addresses a major rally of European nationalist and far-right parties ahead of EU parliamentary elections in Milan, Italy May 18, 2019. Photo: Reuters


The National Rassemblement (RN), formerly the National Front party of far-right leader Marine Le Pen leads voter intention with 22 percent for the upcoming European Parliament elections, just ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic in March (REM) party, according to an Ipsos poll.

Like their Italian counterparts, the RN blames all the current national and bloc problems on migration, mainly coming from Muslim-majority nations. Before the Paris attacks of Nov. 13, 2015, Marine Le Pen made a link between immigration and militant Islamism. As a eurosceptic, the French leader pushes for a nationalist discourse, “French First,” that has reverberated with the far-right. 

In a rally called on by Vox, thousands gathered some with the dictatorship-era Spanish flag. Photo: EFE


With the April 28 general elections in Spain over, the far-right party Vox gained about 10 percent of parliamentary seats, marking the far-right’s rising comeback into politics four decades after Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. 

The party appealed to voters in one of Spain's most contested elections since its return to democracy, mostly basing its arguments against leftists politics, social liberals, migrants, charged mainly with an Islamophobic narrative. Emphasizing the return of a long lost Spain and pushing to fight what they refer to as an “Islamist invasion,” which is the “enemy of Europe.” One could summarize it as an Iberian version of “Make Spain Great Again.”


Formed just six years ago, in 2017 the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the federal parliament for the first time with 12.6 percent of the vote, becoming Germany's biggest opposition party.

The far-right party has tapped into neo-nazism believed to have been forgotten in Germany. With a racist, anti-migration, anti-Muslim and anti-European discourse, the party rallies sectarian and fascists supporters. The AfD has proposed to ban mosques and headscarves, blaming Muslim migrants as the scapegoat to Germany's issues. Various voter intention polls expect the AfD to obtain around 11 percent of the votes.


Founded in 2006, the Party for Freedom (PVV) is Geert Wilders' creation. It came third in the 2014 European Parliament election, winning four out of 26 seats. The party calls for a strong assimilationist stance, proposing the banning of the Quran and closing mosques in the country.

In 2008, he wrote the short film Fitna which attempts to demonstrate that the Quran motivates its followers towards terrorist acts. While Wilders was found guilty of incitement and encouraging discrimination against Moroccans, he faced no punishment.

In 2010, a sizeable delegation arrived in Israel consisting of some 30 leaders of the European Alliance for Freedom, gathering leaders such as Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, Philip Dewinter from Belgium and Jorg Haider's successor, Heinz-Christian Strache, from Austria, as part of Israel’s public support of European far-right parties.

A poll on voting intentions has given Wilders’ PVV about 10 percent of the vote, which would mean similar results as in 2014.

Far-right in other European nations

In Denmark, the Danish People's Party, which is the second largest party in parliament, imposes the toughest anti-migrant rules in the bloc. Viktor Orban’s Fidesz rules Hungary since 2018 with similar stance. The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) was the largest party in this year's general election. Estonia's far-right Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has more than doubled their share of the vote to nearly 18 percent since 2014.

In Finland, the far-right Finns Party were narrowly beaten by 0.2 percent into second place in the April 2019 general election, by the left-wing Social Democratic Party (SDP). Their neighbors the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) made significant gains in the 2018 general election, winning about 19 percent of the vote.

Bannon not Hiding Interference in EU elections: French Candidate

While Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ) became the only far-right party in power in Western Europe, it is now under fire over serious corruption scandals. All remaining ministers are to resign, a party spokesman said Monday, after one of their members, Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, was fired in the fallout from a corruption scandal that has brought down the government. 

Greece’s neo-nazi Golden Dawn party is still the third largest in the Hellenic Parliament and will likely obtain around eight percent of the votes in the EU elections. 

Steve Bannon, the former adviser to Donald Trump, claimed that an "earthquake" will take place in this week's elections, with the emergence of a large far-right bloc in the European Parliament, yet this seems more like a fascist dream than a reality.

According to Europe Elects, the far-right European Alliance for People and Nations (EAPN) can be projected to receive somewhere between 84 seats. Such a scenario would place them as the fourth largest group in the new Parliament, and potentially place them in competition with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe for third place.

While a less alarmist reading would say that the far-right was always there, hidden in the conservative and right-wing parties, the fact that they are out in the open should be a warning for the bloc, but once again only parliamentary elections will tell.

]]> <![CDATA[European Union Keeps Backing PM May Despite New Brexit Delay]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 10:35:28 -04:00 The European Commission (EC) said Thursday that Prime Minister Theresa May is still the leader at a time when the United Kingdom is pulling out of the European Union (EU) and the British government and parliament are pressuring her to leave office.


'May Needs to Go:' Leader of House of Commons Quits Prime Minister's Gov't

"We will always have Mrs. May as our interlocutor and we will always be ready to speak with the U.K. Prime Minister," the European Commission Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said, recalling what the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a TV interview Wednesday.

"What I do not like about the British debate is that it seems more important to replace Prime Minister than to reach an agreement between them," Juncker said and added May, "is a woman who knows how to do things, but she is unable to have success in doing them. ... I like her a lot, she's a tough person."

May moved the publication of the Brexit agreement bill from May 24 to June 3, arguing that she wishes parliamentarians to vote on her proposal. This deferment, however, has been interpreted as just another sign of her fragile political position.

If May is to go, her departure will deepen the Brexit crisis as a new leader, raising the chances of a confrontation with the European Union and an election that could usher in a socialist government, says Reuters.

In that case, Britains face an array of options including an orderly exit with a deal, a no-deal exit, an election, or a second referendum that could ultimately reverse the 2016 decision to leave the EU.

The EC president now seems resigned to, but frustrated with the possibility of an Oct. 31 Brexit, although the U.K. can leave the EU sooner if legislators approve the Brexit bill. "I'm getting fed up because we're waiting for the next extension," Juncker commented.


Schinas insisted that the "divorce" cannot be reopened, although the political statement on the future relationship between London and Brussels "can be reviewed as long as it does not reverse the [withdrawal treaty's] spirit."

Nearly three years after Britain voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU, it remains unclear how, when or even whether it will leave the European club it joined in 1973. 

The prime minister will meet Friday with Graham Brady, the head of the Conservative Party's 1922 Committee, to determine her political future. This Tory meeting will take place one day after the European elections, in which U.K. Conservatives expect a tough setback.

According to local media, May might finally provide her resignation date by Friday, although there are more and more conservative parliamentarians who are asking for her immediate resignation.

Formally speaking, however, she cannot be challenged until the end of this year, for she survived a no-confidence vote of Conservative MPs in December 2018, as explained by BBC.

]]> <![CDATA[India’s Far-Right Hindu Nationalist Party BJP Wins Election]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 09:16:39 -04:00 It seems India’s far-right Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has won a landslide victory in the nation's parliament. Even though final results have not been announced, official data from the Election Commission showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party ahead 300 of the 543 seats up for grabs, up from the 282 it won in 2014. 


India's Opposition Parties Allege Vote Machine Fraud

A party needs 272 seats to form a government. The 2019 Indian election was seen as a referendum on Modi’s rule allowing him to solidify right-wing Hindu nationalist politics.

"Whatever happened in these elections is in the past, we have to look ahead. We have to take everyone forward, including our staunchest opponents," the re-elected prime minister said in a televised address.

He was critical of the many people that doubted the BJP could increase its majority. "The political pundits of India have to leave behind their ideas of the past," he added.

Renowned academic Zoya Hasan said, “BJP’s strategy, of divide and divert, has worked very, very successfully. At the end of the day, the Hindu vote bank has been consolidated, consecrated, and sanctified in a sense.”

The ruling BJP has been accused of politics of hate against the minority Muslim community in India. 

Since the BJP came to power in 2014, hate crimes against Muslims are being carried out with impunity. The perpetrators are often applauded by the local BJP leaders while the prime minister always maintained his silence. 

“In the past we talked about the dangers of majoritarianism. Now, it is something that’s clearly present, it’s there, and on the basis of this election, India’s democracy can clearly be described as a majoritarian democracy,” Hasan wrote.

In this election, for the first time in Indian history, a terror-accused was given a ticket to run for elections and won too. Sadhvi Pragya, a Hindu god woman was accused of a 2006 blast in the eastern state of Maharashtra. The blast was targeted at a mosque during prayer times. She was released on bail this year due to health issues. 


‘Soul of India at Stake': Why Progressives Want Modi Out

Over 600 million people voted during the elections, out of 900 million eligible voters. The initial results show that Modi’s party won more votes than in 2014.

That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984.

The opposition party, Indian National Congress, or Congress, has obtained only 48 seats, a poor showing for the party that will lead many to question the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty whose father, grandmother and great grandfather all served as prime ministers for the party.

Activists, rationalists, and progressives are condemning the results. Many are also attributing BJP's victory to the growing communal division in the last five years. The BJP has successfully managed to instill hatred against Muslims and Dalits (people lowest caste of Indian society) which contributed to Thursday's results according to various political analysts.

"More than anybody else, he (Modi) knows how this result was produced. His campaign carefully avoided any reference to the promises of development he had made five years ago and relied instead on stoking fears about Muslims in the minds of Hindus and marketing himself as the only Indian leader capable of defeating terrorism," wrote Siddharth Varadarajan, a founding editor of a progressive media organization in India. 

]]> <![CDATA[Youth Politician Vows to Rid Finland of Dark-skinned Families]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 07:46:49 -04:00 A new campaign by Finnish Youth, the junior wing of Finland's largest right-wing party, is receiving widespread criticism over claims that dark-skinned families are not welcome in the country.


Senator Barred for Racist Letters Against Indigenous Community

The youth organization affiliated with the Finns Party made a public comment on a European Parliament ad portraying a happy black family. The group shared a screenshot of the ad, and in an attempt to secure their expected electoral gains in the upcoming EU election, captioned it with "Vote Finns so that Finland's future will not look like this."

The tweet has since been deleted.

Many politicians and social leaders expressed outrage, including Social Democrat Sakari Timonen, who referred to the post as "openly racist." While the leader of the Left Alliance Li Anderson added that the "racism" of the organization was "crystal clear." 

Timonen urged the government to cease providing funding to the Finns Youth for violating Finnish law, which states that such organizations must have "solidarity, cultural diversity and internationalism" as a part of their foundation in order to receive funding.

Contrastingly, the Finnish Youth has stated on their website that one of its principles as anti-multiculturalism.

The Ministry of Education and Culture has noted that they are taking a further look into the funding of the Finns Youth as a result of the post.

Ministry officials spoke to Asseri Kinnunen, the Finnish Youth's president, in March. One ministry official expressed that the Youth leader seemingly understood the requirements and expectations for funding disbursement.

Kinnunen, however, now plans on running in the European Parliament election and also announced plans to focus on the country's economy, security and agriculture, while stressing support for strict immigration policies and increased border control. 

]]> <![CDATA[Chilean Prosecutors Request 15 Years For Catrillanca Murder]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 06:59:59 -04:00 On Tuesday, Chile's district attorney's office requested for Carlos Alarcon, the police officer who murdered Mapuche community leader Camilo Catrillanca in November of last year, to serve 15 years in prison.


Waorani, Other Indigenous Groups March Against Conservatism

According to judicial sources, the Public Prosecutor's Office will bring eight accused individuals to trial for different offences linked to the case and will produce over 70 witnesses to testify, including Interior Minister Andres Chadwick.

Catrillanca was shot in the back of the head while driving a tractor, along with a 15-year-old child in the community of Temucuicui. The incident took place during a supposed police operation against alleged car thieves.

The chief prosecutor of the Human Rights Unit of the Prosecutor's Office of the city of Temuco, Roberto Garrido explained that there is "expert evidence that contains the ballistic trajectories and testimonial evidence that confirms that there was no attack against the police officials."

Chile's Prosecutor's Office has charged Carlos Alcaron, a retired sergeant, for the crime of homicide as well as attempted manslaughter against the minor who was accompanying Cartillanca on the tractor at the time of the event.

Relatives of Camilo Catrillanca considered the penalties requested by the Public Ministry as insufficient for the crime against the Mapuche community. They have announced their plan to ask for the maximum penalty.

One of the accused, Raul Avila, is facing several charges, including the destruction of the memory card on one of the police cameras and unlawful coercion of a child.

The other six accused face lesser offences, with sentences ranging from 300 days imprisonment to cash fines.


]]> <![CDATA[Climate Change is Making Allergies Worse]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 06:25:49 -04:00 As allergy season - which affects about 40 million people - hits the United States, a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists has confirmed that climate change is contributing to worsening its effects.


Ethiopia: US$1M Grant Approved for Renewable Energy Investment

Human activity increases carbon dioxide on the planet, which traps heat and increases plant growth. With more plants comes the increased potency and quantity of pollen on the planet.

As heat is trapped and temperatures rise, the duration of the growing season for pollen-producing plants is extended. Higher temperatures also cause individual plants to produce more pollen, which in turn, can increase its geographic range as well.

From 1995 to 2011, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) calculated that allergy season had been extended by up to 27 days in the United States. More recently, 2018 to be exact, was recorded as the fourth-warmest year to ever be recorded and the warmest year for oceans. 

Another study on "temperature-related changes in airborne allergenic pollen abundance and seasonality across the northern hemisphere" analyzed data over a 26 year period. Some 70% of the locations that were studied noted increases in circulated pollen and 65% observed longer pollen seasons.

Another potential threat to allergy sufferers is rising sea levels.

Epidemiologist Isabella Annesi-Maesano pointed out that "flooding is at the origin of mold proliferation" and that "mold can cause respiratory irritation and is a common trigger for asthma and allergies."

Annesi-Maesano added that the most vulnerable demographics are children and the elderly. The epidemiologist also noted that as long as carbon emissions continue to rise, allergies will continue to get worse. 

]]> <![CDATA[6,000-y-o Aboriginal Aquaculture Farm Proposed For UNESCO List]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 06:08:21 -04:00 Australia’s Budj Bim cultural landscape could become the country’s first Aboriginal cultural value to make it on United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO’s) World Heritage List, after being nominated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites Tuesday.

75 Tons of Oil Spill So Far, UNESCO Heritage Site Under Threat

Budj Bim is a 6,000-year-old aquaculture system located in southwest Victoria that was developed by the Gunditjmara people.

“There are around 200 registered and recorded stone house sites, so people were living a sedentary life,” Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation project manager, Elder Denis Rose, explained.

The Gunditjmara people constructed what is thought to be one of the world’s oldest aquaculture systems, configured into channels and weirs using volcanic rocks to manipulate the water flow of rivers and trap migrating eels for food.

“Budj Bim holds a vast network of wetlands that was constructed by first nation people, it contains evidence of a system used to farm and smoke eels and fish,” Chief Operating Officer of Parks Victoria, Simon Talbot stated. “It was permanent settlement, with huts and house remains that have been protected by Gunditjmara people.”

According to UNESCO, the evidence of construction and farming at Budj Bim "challenges the common perception and assumption of Australia’s First Peoples as having all been hunter-gatherers living in resource-constrained environments."

Budj Bim is also home to a dormant volcano.

The Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation has developed a plan for sustainable tourism.

“There’s the economic benefit to the region,” Elder Rose said. “Millions of people travel the Great Ocean Road each year, and if we could attract even a fraction of that to Budj Bim, it would be beneficial to tourism.”

The International Council on Monuments and Sites monitors the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places globally.

“We fought battles to get land back and we had access to very little land 20 to 30 years ago and such little control,” Rose said.

"Today, we have management responsibility of about 10,000 hectares including the Budj Bim national park, and that pride and sense of achievement we have is so important. It’s also nice to look back and really appreciate how our ancestors looked after country so well.” 

The nomination of Budj Bim will be formally reviewed by the world heritage committee in July.

“Budj Bim is one of Australia’s most important cultural sites and now it’s a step away from World Heritage Status. We’re supporting the Gunditjmara people in their self-determination as they lead the development of this landscape to share it sustainably with the world,” Victoria’s Aboriginal affairs minister, Gavin Jennings, noted.

Budj Bim Landscape are recognized and protected by the Victorian Government under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and by the Commonwealth Government under the National Heritage List, and was added to Australia’s Tentative World Heritage List in 2017.

Australia has 19 world heritage sites, including Sydney Opera House, Kakadu national park and the Great Barrier Reef.

]]> <![CDATA[Ethiopia: US$1M Grant Approved for Renewable Energy Investment]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 04:46:59 -04:00 A grant close to US$1 million, earmarked for the development and implementation of renewable energy projects in Ethiopia, has been approved by the African Development Bank's (AFB) Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA).


4th-Largest US Coal Mining Company Files for Bankruptcy

Ethiopia's Independent Power Producers (IPPs) will increase participation across the country as a result of the grant, which is intended to roll out a sustainable procurement framework, according to an AFB statement. The grant is valued at US$995,000 and aims to promote private investment into hydropower projects operated by the country's Renewable Energy Program.

The allocated funds will facilitate the government's ability to project analyses for the project in various areas, including financing, technical and feasibility. The grant will also assist in conducting assessments of environmental and social impacts, resettlement procedures and document preparation.

According to the Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth, Wale Shonibare, a "well-structured procurement framework is crucial in mobilizing investments necessary to achieve energy access in Africa." 

Ethiopia has been making strides towards its goal to develop the country into a regional hub for renewable energy by 2030.

The SEFA program acts in conjunction with the AFB's Institutional IPP/PPP Support project and its Power Supply for Industrial Development and Access Scale-up Project.

All of the projects fall in line with Ethiopia's Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II).

]]> <![CDATA[Voters Angry Over Joblessness As Modi Set to Win 2nd Term]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 03:41:06 -04:00 Though all seats remain undeclared, according to numbers posted by India's Electoral Commission, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi - who heads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - will retain a sweeping majority amid growing concerns about the high instances of unemployment among the youth of the country.

India's Opposition Parties Allege Vote Machine Fraud

There were polar-opposite reactions, by voters outside multiple polling stations, to the Electoral Commission's trending figures, which favors a right-wing National Democratic Alliance coalition majority that will be led by Prime Minister Modi. The Commission showed the PM's party leading in hundreds of constituencies, while the opposition was in front in fewer than 100. 


Local businessmen Gaurav Sharma and Amit Goel are two such individuals who expressed despondence after casting their vote. "Modi has not kept his promises made over the last five years," Sharma said and added that he voted for Congress, which is led by Rahul Gandhi.

While Goel added that Modi had "promised thousands of jobs" and has not delivered. "Where are they? What jobs? The young people in our country have no jobs."

However, hundreds of millions of voters went to the polls - over a five-week period - in the election which pushed the seemingly embattled incumbent pass the 272 votes required to give the BJP the unassailable lead and a projected victory. 


Election authorities reportedly stated that the number of voters who participated in the polls has increased significantly from about 550 million, in the last election, to 900 million - more than the over 800 million eligible 2014 voters.

“The difference between Modi and Congress is, as they say in English, 'divide and rule.’ That is what the BJP has done and I don’t agree with it. This is why I voted Congress and always will. Right now I am optimistic,” an opposition Congress party supporter bemoaned.

But, one celebrating Modi supporter countered saying, “watch how India will progress in the next five years. This is just the beginning" and added that "the BJP is here to stay. Congress is done and dusted for good. They are the party of corrupts. Modi will jail all the corrupt Congress politicians in the next five years.”

In 2014, the Modi-led party won the general election with 282 Lok Sabha seats, becoming the first party in three decades to do so by such a majority. The coalition took 336 seats overall.


]]> <![CDATA[Sixth Migrant, 10-Year-Old Girl, Dies While in US Custody]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 23:28:23 -04:00 The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Wednesday the death of a sixth migrant child in U.S. custody, a young girl, who's death had gone previously unreported.


5th Migrant Minor Dies While in US Custody

The young girl, 10, was from El Salvador and had been detained by United States Border Patrol, an organization that has come under fire of late after the deaths of five other children, either while under their care or shortly after having been released.

A spokesman for the department, Mark Weber, provided few details except to confirm that she had been under the care of HHS since March of 2018 and died later that year on Sep. 29. The official reported that the young girl was “medically fragile” and had congenital heart defects.

"Following a surgical procedure, complications left the child in a comatose state. She was transported to a nursing facility in Phoenix, Arizona, for palliative care in May after release from a San Antonio hospital," Weber said. "On September 26, she was transferred to an Omaha, Neb., nursing facility to be closer to her family. On September 29, the child was transported to Children's Hospital of Omaha where she passed due to fever and respiratory distress."

On Monday, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy named Carlos Hernandez died while under the care of Customs and Border Patrol. According to CBS News, the boy was diagnosed with Influenza A virus.

The Trump administration has been under fire for its treatment of migrants. From October 2018 to April 2019, nearly 293,000 people traveling as families were apprehended at the southern U.S. border — a nearly four-fold jump over the same time frame the previous year.

Immigrant advocates say the administration’s policies, including making it more difficult for migrants to seek asylum at official ports of entry, contribute to making their journeys more arduous and drive migrants to seek out remote border outposts badly equipped to care for children.

Julie Linton, co-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Immigrant Health Special Interest Group, said she was concerned about sick children potentially being housed in bare-bones border protection facilities for extended periods of time.

“There certainly need to be conditions that do not include lying on a mat with a Mylar blanket on a floor that is cold, and cage-like fencing that extends to the ceiling,” she said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “We absolutely need pediatric health experts at the border.”

]]> <![CDATA[US Crackdown on Huawei Typical Economic Bullying: Chinese FM]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 23:05:48 -04:00 With the use of state power, Washington's groundless crackdown on Chinese private company Huawei is typical economic bullying, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters here Wednesday.

During a press conference on the sidelines of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers, Wang said some people in the United States do not want China to have legitimate rights to develop and are attempting to impede China's development process.

 Chinese Airlines Demand Compensation Over Boeing 737 Grounding

This is classic example of Washington using its state power to unjustifiably suppress Huawei without any factual basis, Wang said, adding that "this is typical economic bullying."

The Bureau of Industry and Security of the U.S. Department of Commerce earlier put Huawei and its affiliates on an "Entity List," which restricts the sale or transfer of U.S. technologies to the company. The ban has triggered opposition from markets worldwide.

"A just cause attracts much support, an unjust one finds little," said Wang, quoting an idiom said by Mencius, an ancient Chinese philosopher.

Such an egocentric approach by the United States will not win the recognition and support of the international community, said Wang.

The SCO Council of Foreign Ministers on Wednesday adopted a press communique in which the members jointly oppose all forms of unilateralism and trade protectionism.

The communique particularly stressed their opposition to discriminatory practices against mutually beneficial international cooperation in the fields of digital economy and communication technology under any pretext.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil's Justice Minister Moro Loses Battle in Congress]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 23:57:46 -04:00 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was close to losing support from Congress Wednesday, only winning approval from disgruntled lower house lawmakers by a small margin, for his move to downsize the country’s executive branch.

'Leave Venezuela Alone': Brazil's Lula Tells Trump in Interview

But lawmakers voted against putting the Council for Financial Activity Control (COAF), a key tool for flagging suspicious funds moving through the banking system, under the control of Justice Minister Sergio Moro, a former judge who jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Sliva despite a lack of evidence.

The vote on the first decree Bolsonaro issued the day he took office in January was a test of his ability to govern without courting traditional parties in Congress, which is threatening to derail his agenda after months of mutual antagonism.

The decree that reduced the number of ministries to 20, from 29 previously, was due to expire on June 3.

Failure to gain approval would have thrown the government into crisis, forcing a ministry reshuffle and increasing doubts that he could rally enough support for a neoliberal pension reform bill now in the hands of a political class he openly insults.

A former army captain and apologist for Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship, Bolsonaro wielded little influence in his three decades in Congress and cast his grassroots campaign as a crusade against the horse trading of Brazil’s “old politics.”

“Bolsonaro despises democracy. We have to isolate his anti-democratic attitude and lack of respect for institutions so this does not paralyze the country,” lawmaker Marcelo Ramos, chairman of the congressional committee on pension reform, told Reuters.

Ramos said Bolsonaro was unable to build a coalition with the 308 votes needed to pass the pension bill, estimating the bill could at the moment only muster 200 votes.

Bolsonaro has said he would rather work with issue-focused caucuses than party leaders and has called on his supporters via social media to pressure lawmakers obstructing his agenda.

He attacked the political class Monday for being the country’s “big problem” and blamed interest groups for impeding him from governing.

Lawmakers passed the decree despite their frustration with Bolsonaro’s refusal to reach out to them with government jobs and support for projects in their constituencies.

]]> <![CDATA[New Poll Shows More People in US View Socialism as 'Good']]> Wed, 22 May 2019 22:29:57 -04:00 A Gallup poll released this week found that more people in the United States believe socialism would be a good path for the country to take.


Progressive US Lawmakers Ridcule Trump's Statements Against Socialism

Socialism is gaining ground in the U.S, after a survey, conducted from April 17 - 30, found socialism-supporters lost by only a small percentage to those U.S. citizens who still oppose the political idealogy.

The pollsters are comparing this year's answers to those received in 1942, when the survey was first introduced. At that time, 25 percent of people responded “Good” to the question, “Would socialism be a good thing or a bad thing for the country as a whole?,” as compared to 2019 which saw the answer rise to 43 percent, an 18 percent increase.

in 1942, 40 percent of participants said they believed socialism would be “bad” while at present, 51 percent responsed negatively, an increase of 11 percent.

The most marked shift is in the number of people who replied “no opinion” — in 1942, 34 percent didn’t have an opinion about socialism, a number which has dipped to 9 percent in 2019.

According to Gallup, this trend is related to a previous survey done in 2018 on U.S. citizens demonstrating a shift in the definition of socialism. The number of people who believe socialism means equality or equal opportunity rose, while the number of those who believe it is means government or state ownership or control of utilities dropped significantly.

The poll takers also see a partisan divide noting that self-identified Democrats or those who lean in that direction are far more likely to take a favorable view of socialism, while those who identify as Republican are more likely to define socialism as government of control and speak about it in derogatory terms.

Drilling further down into the poll, however, it’s clear that most U.S. respondents favor the free market over government control in certain areas. One question posed asked, “Would you prefer to have the free market or the government be primarily responsible for what happens in each of the following areas?

It lested technololgical advance, higher education, wages, healthcare, the environment, distribution of wealth, et al. Most people only favored government control in relation to the environment and consumer protection, preferring that the government stay away from questions of technological innovation and distribution of wealth.

The rise of congresspeople in the U.S., like Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, mirrors the shifting opinions of the populace in the United States and provides the opportunity to define how U.S. citizens view socialism come the next time this question is asked.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Request to Reopen Probe on CIA Killing of Jaime Roldos]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 21:57:17 -04:00 Prominent Ecuadorean historian Jaime Galarza presented a request on Wednesday at the Attorney General's office to reopen the investigation on the alleged role of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli Mossad in the 1981 murder of former left-wing president Jaime Roldos Aguilera. 

Operation Condor Docs Show US Wanted to Rig Election in Ecuador to Prevent Left-Wing Victory

"That death to date remains unpunished and I do not say it remains a mystery, because of mystery it really had very little," Galarza has pointed out many times. In his book, "Who Killed Roldos," he argues that the CIA and the Israelis were involved in the crime as part of Operation Condor in the region.

The respected historian and writer documents that after the death of the president information was misplaced, people were threatened, peasants from the alleged area of the accident disappeared and there were successive plane crashes where military personnel involved or aware of the event died. 

After a CIA document was released in 2014 revealing that Ecuador assisted in Operation Condor, Ecuador’s former attorney general’s office opened an investigation into Roldo's death.

“With this information, we are going to examine the information of whether the accident which killed President Roldos was, in fact, an accident,” said former Attorney General Galo Chiriboga. 

Yet there has been no official disclosure surrounding the possible U.S. role in his death after it was once again filed without explanation, according to Galarza. 

Roldos won the runoff election and became Ecuador’s president in August 1979, as democracy returned to the Andean nation. His campaign was built on a populist platform on human rights and labor reforms. He was an outspoken supporter of other left-wing governments and movements in Latin America and critic of U.S. interventionism. 

On May 1981, he died on a plane crash, which created accusations that it was a part of a U.S.-backed assassination. Panama President Omar Torrijos, who also was critical of the U.S. role in the region and was known for his human rights leadership, coincidently died two months later in a similar plane crash.

John Perkins, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" has backed this claim and argued that Torrijos warned him about his impending death months prior to the plane crash.  As in less than four months, three Latin American leaders died in similar circumstances, mysterious aviation accidents, which were common practices used by dictatorships and U.S.-trained mercenaries. 

]]> <![CDATA[Old Mold: Fossil of World's Earliest Fungus Unearthed in Canada]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 21:46:31 -04:00 Microfossils of a globular spore connected to a T-shaped filament excavated in an Arctic region of northwestern Canada represent the oldest-known fungus, a discovery that sheds light on the origins of an important branch in Earth's tree of life.

Scientists Unearth 'Most Bird-like' Dinosaur Ever Found

Scientists said on Wednesday the multicellular fungus that they named Ourasphaira giraldae — forerunner to an immensely diverse group that today includes the likes of mushrooms, yeasts and molds — lived in an estuary environment about 900 million to 1 billion years ago. Until now, the oldest-known fungus fossil was one about 410 million years old from Scotland.

Fungi belong to a broad group of organisms, called eukaryotes, that possesses a clearly defined nucleus and also includes animals and plants. A fundamental difference between fungi and plants is that fungi are incapable of photosynthesis, harnessing sunlight to synthesize nutrients.

Because of a close evolutionary relationship between fungi and animals, the researchers suspect that early forms of microscopic animal life may have lived at the same time as Ourasphaira. The earliest fossils of rudimentary animals are about 635 million years old.

"Fungi are one of the more diverse groups of eukaryotes known today and, despite this, their ancient fossil record is very scarce," said paleobiologist Corentin Loron of the University of Liege in Belgium, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature.

The microscopic fossils, contained in shale rock from the Northwest Territories of Canada, dated to the Proterozoic era before the advent of complex life forms. The fossil record from that era "is still a mysterious jigsaw puzzle and we just added a new piece to it," Loron said.

In determining that the fossils were of fungi, the researchers identified the presence of a fibrous substance called chitin in Ourasphaira's cell walls, a key fungal characteristic. Chitin also is present in the durable exoskeletons of invertebrate animals such as insects and crustaceans.

"Of course, when talking about fungi, we think of poisonous mushrooms or mold that grows on food," Loron said. "But fungi are also well known to help productivity in cultivated fields, for fermentation purposes like yeast in beer, or for their role in the digestive system — for example, in the rumen of cows — to help cellulose digestion."

]]> <![CDATA[Money, Another Reason to Promote Gender Equality: UN Report]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 21:32:06 -04:00 Companies that improve gender diversity — especially at the top — perform better and rake in higher profits, while countries that increase women employment see better economic growth, the U.N. said Wednesday.

Backlash Against Alabama Abortion Ruling Calls for Boycotts

In a fresh study, the UN's International Labur Organization (ILO) found that companies that improve gender diversity in management report significant profit increases.

"Gender diversity is a smart business strategy," according to the report, which based its findings on a survey of nearly 13,000 companies across 70 countries.

According to the survey, nearly three-quarters of companies that tracked gender diversity in their management reported profit hikes of between five and 20 percent.

And some 57 percent said growing the number of women at the top made it easier to attract and retain talent, while nearly as many said they saw improvements in creativity, innovation, openness and an enhancement of the company's reputation.

The report also analyzed data from 186 countries between 1991 and 2017, and found that increasing women's employment is associated with more economic growth at the national level.

"These results are eye-opening," said Deborah France-Massin, who heads ILO's employers' activity bureau. "Companies should look at gender balance as a bottom-line issue, not just a human resources issue," she said in a statement.

Gender balance in senior management is defined as 40-60 percent of either gender, and the ILO said the beneficial effects of gender diversity begin to kick in when women hold at least 30 percent of senior management and leadership positions.

But it warned that nearly 60 percent of the companies surveyed acknowledged that they did not meet this target.

And in nearly half of the companies surveyed, women accounted for fewer than one on three of entry-level management recruits.

"The glass ceiling is still intact. There are some cracks in it but there is still some way to go," France-Massin told reporters in Geneva.

The situation obviously varies depending on the country and region where a company is based. Businesses in the Middle East and North Africa generally reported only around 10 percent of women in management positions, the study showed.

While women's employment has grown worldwide in recent decades, they still remain 26 percentage points less likely to hold a job than men, ILO data shows.

And they remain far less likely to rise to the level of management or to sit on company boards.

"It is still quite clear that there are fewer women in (management) roles than in the workforce as a whole. And the higher you go up the chain of command in a company, the less likely you are to find women," France-Massin said.

In addition to the glass ceiling, France-Massin pointed to "glass walls," which tend to limit women who rise to management positions to the realms of human resources or administration, rather than areas like financial management.

Diversifying company boardrooms can also be hugely beneficial to the bottom line, according to the ILO report.

And yet, women still hold only 23.6 percent of board seats globally, with as little as 11 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, it showed.

]]> <![CDATA[Paraguay Prosecutes Campesinos who Protested Soy, Agrochemicals]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 19:54:38 -04:00 Four Paraguayan Campesinos are in danger of being sentenced to preventative detention in a case where they, along with 30 other Campesinos, protested the planting of soy crops in their area of eastern Paraguay.


Paraguay's Campesino's Join Indigenous People in Deman for Right to Land

The Coordinator of Human Rights of Paraguay (Codehupy), which is on the four women's defense, asserts that the Prosecutor's Office is "criminalizing people for defending a healthy environment," said defense attorney Sonia von Lepel.

The opposition to the soy plantation on land rented by Brazilian soy croppers in the community of Mariscal Lopez in the district of Capiibary, began about five years ago when the inhabitants refused to accept the cultivation of soy, as well as the agro-toxins that come with it.

Soybean production has become a huge industry in Paraguay where last year it was projected to surpass the exports of its neighbor, Argentina, for the first time. 

According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the scale of this industry has had social impacts in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, "where the concentration of farmland in the hands of a few has pushed small farmers and communities off the land and encouraged exploitation of workers." 

"Around the world, agrochemicals and fertilizers are used to efficiently manage soybean farms of increasing size and to reduce labor costs as production expands into areas with insufficient labor. These chemicals are a major source of nutrient pollution in rivers, lakes and estuaries."

"They are small communities and soy plantations are not viable. You cannot put a containment strip (to fumigate), it affects the animals, the water resources ... and in front of that is the school and the health center," said the lawyer.

During the protests, locals threw gasoline on the tractor of one of the plantation workers, but deny that they were armed or made any attempts on the lives of workers, according to Von Lepel.

The four women are being accused of eight crimes, including aggravated robbery, possession of weapons and attempted homicide.

For Von Lepel, the case is about "unsubstantiated criminal offenses and a generic accusation," and maintains that the Prosecutor's case lacks "evidentiary elements" against the Campesinos.

The defense asked the Public Prosecutor's Office to change the category, to "remove the crime but keep the offense," which would imply the dismissal, among others, of the charge of attempted homicide.

However, the petition was rejected and is now in the appeal phase.

The process against the Campesinos began in November 2018 when an arrest warrant was issued on them, according to her lawyer's statements.

"They were fugitives for six months because the first steps of the Public Prosecutor's Office were to capture them and they went to live in the mountains," said Von Lepel.

That order was lifted later and the women, all over 30 years old, were able to return to their homes.

The four Campesinos await the court’s provisional decision at their hearing on June 17 and at which preventive detention could be ordered.

]]> <![CDATA[Chinese Airlines Demand Compensation Over Boeing 737 Grounding]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 19:34:29 -04:00 Three major Chinese airline companies have officially requested compensation for losses caused by the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max fleet. 

Boeing Finally Admits Responsibility for Plane Crashes

Air China, China Southern and China Eastern told CNN on Wednesday that they have asked to be reimbursed for costs and losses incurred since the plane was deemed unsafe to fly on March 2019 following two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. 

“The grounding of 737 MAX aircraft since March 11, 2019, has caused relatively big losses to China Eastern. With the passing of time, related losses will further expand,” the company said, adding that “at the same time, delayed deliveries of planes ordered also caused economic losses.” The amount requested from Boeing has not been disclosed.

China was the first country to ground about 96 planes from its fleet made by the United States (U.S.) aircraft manufacturer, Boeing. “This is about four percent of its airplanes. The grounding causes huge losses for Chinese airlines,” China aviation expert Li Xiaojin said. Soon after, governments around the world followed China by grounding the 737 Max. 

This was a result of the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight on March 10, which killed all 149 passengers and eight crew members on board. This was the second crash connected to the model in less than five months. In October 2018, a Lion Air flight crashed near Indonesia killing all 189 people aboard, as the pilots fought an automatic safety system for control of the craft.

On April 4, the company’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg acknowledged that bad data played a role in the crashes.

"It’s apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to the erroneous angle of attack information,” Muilenburg in a statement. 

The accident and global response have resulted in a hasty drop in the company’s stock value. From a price of US$422.42 on March 8, the firm's stock has dropped almost 17 percent to US$352.78 as of May 22. The company reported in April that profits fell 21 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday he does not have a specific timetable for when the agency may again take flight in the U.S.

]]> <![CDATA[Leader of House of Commons Quits Prime Minister May's Gov't]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 18:52:31 -04:00 Prominent Brexit supporter and leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom resigned from her post in Prime Minister Theresa May's government Wednesday, piling more pressure on the British leader after a new Brexit proposal angered members of her own party and fueled calls for her resignation.


UK's Opposition Will Not Support New Brexit Bill

So far May has resisted those calls, vowing to press on despite opposition from lawmakers and other ministers. She has softened her stance on a second referendum and customs arrangements in order to get her Brexit deal through parliament.

Leadsom said she could not announce the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which will implement Britain's departure, in parliament Thursday as she did not believe in it.

"I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result," Leadsom, once a challenger to May to become prime minister, said in a resignation letter.

"It is therefore with great regret and with a heavy heart that I resign from the government."

A Downing Street spokesman praised Leadsom and expressed disappointment at her decision, but added: "The prime minister remains focused on delivering the Brexit people voted for."

May might still try to press on with her new Brexit plan, which includes a vote on whether to hold a second Brexit referendum — once her legislation passes the first stage — as well as closer trading arrangements with the EU.

But it has been met with a swift backlash, with several lawmakers who have supported her in previous Brexit votes saying they could not back the new plan, particularly over her U-turn regarding a possible second referendum.

"I have always maintained that a second referendum would be dangerously divisive, and I do not support the government willingly facilitating such a concession," Leadsom said.

"No one has wanted you to succeed more than I have," Leadsom wrote to May. "But I do now urge you to make the right decisions in the interests of the country, this government and our party."

Labour lawmaker Ian Lavery, chair of the opposition party, said the resignation underlined that "the prime minister's authority is shot and her time is up".

"For the sake of the country, Theresa May needs to go, and we need an immediate general election," he said.

Labour's call echoed those of many of May's own Conservatives, who say that a fourth attempt to get her deal approved by parliament should be shelved and she should leave office to offer a new leader a chance to reset the dial.

"There is one last chance to get it right and leave in an orderly fashion. But it is now time for Prime Minister Theresa May to go -- and without delay," said Conservative lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, chairman of parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

"She must announce her resignation after Thursday's European (Parliament) elections," he wrote in the Financial Times.

But while so much about Brexit is up in the air, what is clear is that May plans to stay for now.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Retirees Demand Gov’t Pay Their Pensions]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 18:49:34 -04:00 Hundreds of Ecuadorean pensioners from the public sector took to the streets of Quito on Wednesday to demand Lenin Moreno’s government pay their severance pensions that have been in default since 2008.

Lenin Moreno's 'Social Deal' Could Raise Retirement Age to 70

"It is preferable to die fighting than to go begging," the coordinator of the Federation of Retirees of Ecuador, Galo Bacca, said while announcing that the affected retired teachers and health workers will go on a nationwide hunger strike starting on May 22.

The mobilization began at 09:00 local time starting from the main streets of Quito to the vicinity of the National Assembly (AN). Among the demands of the 30,000 retirees are the full payment of severance pensions, and to request the AN impeach the Minister of Economy and Finance, Richard Martinez, for violation of their rights. The debt currently rests at US$350 million.

"We are in Quito this day to demand that the president of the Republic pay us in cash and not in state bonds," the representative of the Committee of Retirees of Santo Domingo, Vinicio Lara added. 

Nearly 30,000 unionized retirees from different organizations demand through their mobilized representatives the payment of their bonuses and pensions, they also request the dismissal of the Minister of Economy.

This latest rally against Moreno comes a month after large sectors of civil society protested neoliberal policies under the chant of “not even one less right.” The movement was a response to Moreno’s structural reforms that are already underway to satisfy the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) conditionalities for the US$4.2 billion loan. 

As part of these measures, the Ecuadorean Social Security Institute (IESS) Board of Directors chairman, Paul Granda, indicated that the 'National Agreement for Social Security' will discuss increases in the retirement age as well as payments for public health care to children under 18 years old.

"[Ecuador's] retirement age is 60. The average age in Latin America is 65 and [the average is] between 67 and 70 in Europe because life expectancy has risen over there. In Ecuador, men's life expectancy is 80 and women's is 83," Granda said and added that "then, evidently, we have to analyze this issues in such a way that allows us to increase the affiliate's compulsory payments time."

Meanwhile, the first set of labor reforms announced in Ecuador also caused indignation by workers and the protestors. These measures will include extending trial periods for hired workers resulting in instability, flexible labor contracts and extension of five days a week work period. 

]]> <![CDATA[Child Mortality in Nicaragua Drops by 40% in Jan-March 2019]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 19:13:23 -04:00 Child mortality dropped by 40 percent during the first trimester of 2019, compared with the same period last year, reported the country's Vice President Rosario Murillo on Tuesday.

Nicaragua in the Shadow of Western Fascism

She lamented "all these hate crimes and perversity that were carried out against our people," in 2018, adding that "they will not occur again this year."

"We will continue to promote health with prenatal attention programs."

Earlier this month, the minister also announced that 2019 has been a successful year for tackling HIV in the Central American country.

She announced that in the first few months of 2019, over 100,000 had been tested free of charge, which is 16 percent higher than at the same point in 2018.

]]> <![CDATA[Portugal: First Eurozone Country to Issue 'Panda Bonds' in Yuan]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 15:22:11 -04:00 The Portuguese government, lead by socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa, decided that Portugal will be the first Eurozone country to issue bond notes in Chinese currency after receiving authorization from the Asian country, Finance Minister Ricardo Mourinho Felix confirmed Wednesday.

Portugal Celebrates Carnation Revolution's 45 Anniversary

Portugal, which already issues loans denominated in euros and dollars, will issue a three-year bond worth of RMB 2,000 million, appoximately US$290 million.

The Portuguese Yuan-denominated financial operation will begin next week and its average cost will be just 0.2 percent higher than a Euro debt issuance.

"Our goal is to be in a large, full of liquidity market and thus expand our investor base," Mourinho said and explained that the Chinese regulators' authorization paves the way for larger transactions in the future.

In May 2010, the Chinese government set rules aimed at allowing countries to issue this kind of debt titles. This financial opportunity has already been grasped by Poland in 2016 and the Philippines in 2018.

On March 20, Italy, the first Group of Seven major industrialized nation to join officially the New Silk Road project, also announced a Panda Bonds program to co-finance Italian companies which are working in the Asian country.

China is currently the largest non-European foreign investor in Portugal and has investments in sectors such as electricity, water, banks, insurance and health.

In the last visit to the Mediterranean country on Dec. 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed an agreement with PM Costa to include Sines, Portugal's main port and industrial city, in the New Silk Route, a multinational project which seeks to join China to Europe.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemalan Film on Massacres of Mayans Wins Award at Cannes]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 14:54:40 -04:00 “Nuestras Madres” (Our Mothers) is the first Guatemalan film to be screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France. The film also won the SACD (Authors Society) at the 58th edition of Critics’ Week, a parallel section of the festival.


Maya Ch'orti' Environmental Leader Found Dead in Guatemala

The film directed by Cesar Diaz highlights the massacres of Indigenous Mayan population. The function film tells the story of a young researcher trying to identify the victims buried in mass graves during the 1960 -1966 civil war in Guatemala which left 200,000 dead or disappeared.

"The one who remains behind always has the feeling that the disappeared one day will appear, and that situation is terrible because you always have that hope," said the director.

Diaz’s father was one of the disappeared people and his experience worked as a point of departure for the film.

According to him, Guatemala is turning its back on the dead without giving their families any justice. He also argued that a lot has been spoken about Argentine and Chilean dictatorships but people are not aware of the Guatemala dictatorship and the film is born from the need to discuss the nation's history.

After the U.S. backed coup brought a military regime in Guatemala in 1954, an uprising began which led to a civil war between the government and leftist groups in 1960.

The rebels were mainly supported by the rural poor, composed of Indigenous, Mayan people and Ladino Campesinos (a mix of Mestizo peoples who are referred to as Ladinos by Spanish colonial power to describe Spanish speaking people who are neither elite nor Indigenous).

The Guatemalan government of the time was condemned for committing genocide against the Mayan people and violating the human rights of civilians.

The film shows real relatives of the dead and missing. Women are keeping the legacy alive and sharing it with the next generation.

"They are the ones that maintain the country. The day those women break down, the country is going to shit. They are the ones that maintain the memory, the wisdom and the healthiest social bonds,” Diaz said.

The director is “very excited” to be in Cannes with a film like this as, for him, cinema is a “political act, not just an artistic gesture.”

]]> <![CDATA['No Ceasefire in Libya Yet,' General Haftar Tells Macron]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 14:50:47 -04:00 During a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, held Wednesday in Paris, France, the Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar said that there are no conditions for a ceasefire in the latest round of the civil war in Libya.

Libya: Haftar Calls for the People to Rebel in Tripoli

"Distrust among Libyan actors is stronger than ever," said a French presidential official referring to Haftar, who launched a military offensive on April 4 against the Tripoli-based National Accord Government (GNA), which is headed by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj and backed by the United Nations.

"When the ceasefire issue was put on the table, Haftar replied 'with whom to negotiate a ceasefire today,'" the French official added, commenting that the Libyan commander considers that Tripoli's government "is completely infested by militias" and it does not benefit him to "negotiate with militias' representatives."

Although Macron asked Haftar to take the first step towards a ceasefire, the LNA commander responded that an inclusive political dialogue was necessary and that he would be ready for it if ceasefire conditions were created.

The European countries' foreign policies could be, however, a factor obstructing an effective political dialogue between contending forces in Libya.​​

“France [sees] Libyan society through the reading provided to it. Namely, all those who do not agree with Marshal Haftar are Islamists. And those who call themselves moderate are liars. It's a binary vision summing up a very complicated country. This reading is also propagated by very powerful centers like the Emirates, Saudi Arabia or Egypt,” said Jalel Harchaoui, a researcher at Clingendael Institute in the Netherlands, TV5Monde reports.

​​​​Currently, Libya has two governments: a United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, which still controls the capital city and some western areas; and a Tobruk City-based government whose army controls most of the Libyan territory, which is nevertheless less populated as most of the population concentrated at the coastal areas. 

On Thursday, the Head of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya, Ghassan Salame, told the U.N. Security Council that the Libyan situation is getting worse and could turn into a long-lasting civil war.

"Libya is on the verge of descending into a civil war which could lead to the permanent division of the country," he said and added that "the damage already done will take years to mend, and that’s only if the war is ended now."

The U.N. officer also reported that the Libyan conflict has so far produced over 460 dead; 2,400 injured; 75,000 displaced and 100,000 people who remain trapped in immediate frontline areas.

]]> <![CDATA[Indonesia: 6 Killed in Massive Protest Against Election Results]]> Wed, 22 May 2019 14:40:33 -04:00
Indonesian police fired water cannons and rubber bullets at protesters setting fires and trying to breach barbed wire barricades.
Joko Widodo won more than 85 million votes of 154 million cast, but retired general Prabowo Subianto has alleged
Medics were seen treating dozens of protesters affected by tear gas and using oxygen to revive some who had passed out.
Indonesian authorities say 40,000 police and army personnel are on duty across Jakarta to maintain security.
Chief Security Minister Menko Polhukam Wiranto said the government would temporarily block certain social media functions to prevent inflammatory hoaxes and fake news.
Police said at least 257 people had been detained who were suspected of starting riots.
National Police Chief Tito Karnavian said reports of the deaths were being investigated.