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

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals

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

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

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

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


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A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

Brazil's Rousseff claims nation 'ready for greatest World Cup'

Brazil's Rousseff claims nation 'ready for greatest World Cup'
Google: Ready, set, goooaaallll! The WorldCup is finally here.

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ

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

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

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

Mossack Fonseca

Mossack Fonseca

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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dutch boat 'Women on Waves' in Mexico to offer women legal terminations

A Dutch sailing boat offering legal abortions has taken up a position off the west coast of Mexico. It is offering free, legal medical terminations for the victims of sexual violence.

Deutsche Welle, 23 April 2017


The Women on Waves boat arrived off the coast of Guerrero state last week on the invitation of more than 40 women's organizations who are campaigning for abortion to be legalized throughout the country.

On Thursday the ship sailed out to international waters where two women received safe, medical abortions. The women were given abortion pills and remained under observation for several hours before returning to shore. The female crew does not perform surgical abortions.


Speaking in Ixtapa on Friday, President of the Women on Waves group, Rebecca Gomperts said access to safe abortions was a matter of "social justice" in Latin America.

Abortion has been legal in the capital of Mexico for the last ten years. "It's absurd that according to geography, where women live in Mexico determines ... if they can access a legal and safe abortion," said Regina Tames, head of Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), a Mexican women's rights group.

"Access to abortion in cases of rape is really quite limited," Tames said.

The Women on Waves boat was cleared by Mexican authorities to stay offshore, registered as a private vessel. During the boat's last voyage to Guatemala it was detained by the army and expelled. It was unable to carry out any terminations at that time.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Clashes at Venezuela protest against 'dictatorship'

Yahoo – AFP, Javier TOVAR, April 6, 2017

Venezuelan opposition activists react to tear gas shot by the police during
protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro on April 6,
2017 in Caracas (AFP Photo/JUAN BARRETO)

Caracas (AFP) - Violence erupted for a third straight day at protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday, escalating tension over moves to keep the leftist leader in power.

Opposition protesters chanting "No more dictatorship!" hurled stones at National Guard riot police who blocked them from marching on central Caracas.

The police responded with tear gas and water cannon, prompting chaos on the eight-lane highway where some 5,000 protesters had tried to break through army barricades.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Scores of protesters were wounded at violent protests on Tuesday and Wednesday in the volatile oil-exporting country, where a political crisis is raising concerns about democracy and stability.

Street protests are among the few options left for the center-right opposition to increase pressure on Maduro, whom they blame for the country's descent into economic calamity.

Negotiations have failed and he has resisted international pressure, while retaining backing from the military and control over most state institutions.

The opposition has taken to the streets accusing pro-Maduro Supreme Court judges of attempting an internal "coup d'etat" for attempting to take over the legislature's powers last week.

The socialist president's supporters held counter-demonstrations on Thursday, condemning Maduro's opponents as "imperialists" plotting with the United States to oust him.

Maduro's camp accused the leading opposition figure Henrique Capriles of changing the route of the protest march toward the city center in order to provoke the security forces.

"Capriles is seeking a few deaths to set the country on fire," Maduro ally Freddy Bernal said.

The president himself has accused the opposition of seeking to "fill the streets with blood" to destabilize his government.

Genreal view of the Venezuelan National Assembly during the discussion on 
Supreme Court judges removal process, at the National Assembly in Caracas 
on April 5, 2017 (AFP Photo/FEDERICO PARRA)

'Coup' charge

Last week, Venezuela's Supreme Court -- which has staunchly backed Maduro through the crisis -- issued rulings transferring the opposition-majority National Assembly's legislative powers to the court and revoking lawmakers' immunity from prosecution.

The court later reversed the rulings after an international outcry, but kept in place other measures limiting the assembly's powers.

Opposition lawmakers launched an effort to impeach the judges on Wednesday.

But it looks unlikely to succeed since removing the judges depends on other state institutions loyal to the government.

"They have carried out an ongoing internal coup," senior opposition deputy Henry Ramos Allup told the assembly.

On the streets, protesters said they want to get rid of Maduro.

"We're tired of this dictatorship," said Yoleidy Rodriguez, a 22-year-old university student. "We're not afraid."

Protests, injuries

Scores of people were hurt on Tuesday when riot police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a protest march in Caracas, opposition groups said.

On Wednesday, similar clashes broke out in the western city of San Cristobal, the scene of deadly riots and looting last year, and in the city of Valencia.

The wave of protests has revived fears of broader unrest in Venezuela, where 43 people were killed during riots in 2014.

The country has undergone three attempted military coups since 1992.

Venezuelan opposition activists receive assistance after clahing with the police
 during protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro on 
April 6, 2017 in Caracas (AFP Photo/FEDERICO PARRA)

Election pressure

Maduro is resisting opposition efforts to hold an early vote on removing him from power.

Venezuela's next general election is due in December 2018. Regional elections last December were postponed indefinitely, and no date has been set for local polls due this year.

The collapse in energy prices has sapped the country's revenues, prompting shortages of food, medicine and basic goods along with a surge in violent crime.

The opposition blames Maduro for the economic crisis. He says it is due to a capitalist conspiracy.

Although he has retained the crucial support of the army so far, that could be changing, political analyst Luis Salamanca said.

"At this point, Maduro can't say he's sure of anyone's support," he said, "including the armed forces."
Related Article:


" ... South America and the New Energy

South America is starting to consider the same thing. My partner was just there and I allowed him to see the energy of the potential future in that land.

I would like to paint history for you regarding South America. There was a time when every single country had a dictator. Less than 15 years ago, they had failing economies and currencies that were worthless. Trouble and strife and killings were the norm. Marauding drug lords openly killed in the streets and corruption was everywhere. Even the politicians created fear and many disappeared overnight, never to be seen again. Today it isn't that way. Today, there is an ongoing stability as one country after another brings a new, positive, stable energy to their cultures. So, without a concentrated effort by any kind of multi-national leadership or direction, how could this have changed in only 15 years?

Within the entire continent, there's only one dictator left. What's happening? If you think that's amazing, there is a move afoot that you're not going to hear about yet. But they're discussing it right now, so let me tell you what they're thinking. "What would happen if we took these countries and eliminated the borders?" Sound familiar? They're talking about it. In back rooms where nobody is reporting it, they're saying, "What about a plan of eventually having one currency from the top of Columbia to the bottom of Chile? And we would be strong and we would be unified." And dear ones, I'm here to tell you, that it's going to work, and it might not take 50 years. Soon the one dictator will be gone, and the unification can begin.

There's a shift happening on this planet ...."

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Paraguayan activist killed in a night of political riots

Yahoo – AFP, 1 April 2017

Paraguay's riot police clash with protesters against the Congress building in
Asuncion, on March 31, 2017

Police apparently shot dead a Paraguayan opposition political activist Saturday in a raid after rioters stormed Congress in anger at a contested electoral reform, officials said.

Authorities said 30 people, including some opposition leaders, were injured in unrest in the capital after senators approved the bill in a secretive vote.

Opposition leaders denounced the vote Friday as a "parliamentary coup," saying it could clear the way for a return to dictatorship in the landlocked South American nation of 6.8 million people.

Riots, fires, arrests

Furious protesters broke into the Congress late Friday, ransacking lawmakers' offices and starting fires after senators approved a proposal to allow the president to run for re-election.

Right-wing President Horacio Cartes is seeking to amend the constitution to enable himself to run for office again in 2018 after his current term ends.

The measure requires approval in the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, which delayed a vote originally set for Saturday.

Paraguayan protesters set fire to offices as they stormed the Congress
building in Asuncion, on March 31, 2017

Rodrigo Quintana, 25, leader of the opposition Liberal Party's youth branch, was shot and killed as police searched the party's premises in Asuncion, party leader Efrain Alegre said.

The interior ministry said in a statement that "the authorities are investigating the circumstances of the death, which is presumed to have occurred at the hands of a member of the National Police."

It added: "We are going to establish fully what happened, and those responsible will be brought to justice."

Police raided the party offices after activists took refuge there during a night of riots, Alegre said.

The injured included three lawmakers, according to firefighters and an opposition senator. Police said 211 people were arrested, some of them minors.

To chants of "Dictatorship never again!" hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police, who used mounted units and water cannon to disperse them.

Calm was restored around 0400 GMT Saturday. Large numbers of police remained on alert.

Protesters rally outside the Paraguayan Congress in Asuncion, on March 31, 2017

Rubber bullets

Cartes's allies in the upper house of the legislature passed the bill on Friday, sidestepping resistance from opponents.

The vote took place in Senate offices as the main assembly hall was occupied by senators from the Liberal Party, opposed to the reforms.

Opposition senator Luis Wagner said those injured included Senate speaker Roberto Acevedo, lawmaker Edgar Ortiz, who was hit in the mouth by a rubber bullet fired by police, and Liberal leader Alegre, who lost to Cartes in the 2013 presidential elections.

Acevedo has challenged the bill in the Supreme Court, arguing it is unconstitutional.

The measure was scheduled to be considered Saturday in the Chamber of Deputies, where the president has a majority.

But after the rioting, the president of the lower house, Hugo Velazquez, announced the vote was postponed, saying he was shocked by the violence.

"I hope that calm and harmony will return," Velazquez said in a televised message.

Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes has been in office
since 2013

History of dictatorship

Paraguay has banned presidents from re-election since 1992 to avoid a return to dictatorships like that of General Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled from 1954 to 1989.

Removing the ban would also allow left-wing former president Fernando Lugo to run again. He held power from 2008 to 2012, when he was removed after an impeachment trial.

If the latest measure is approved by the two houses, it is expected to be put to a referendum within three months.

The opposition condemned the move as a "parliamentary coup" and called for resistance.

"It is a dictatorial plan by Horacio Cartes with the complicity of Ferdinand Lugo," said Senator Carlos Amarilla.

'Barbarians'

Cartes blamed the violence on "a group of Paraguayans embedded in politics and the media aimed at destroying democracy and political and economic stability."

"Democracy is not won or defended by violence," he said on his Twitter account.

"We must not allow barbarians to destroy the peace, tranquility and welfare of the people."

Related Article:


" ... South America and the New Energy

South America is starting to consider the same thing. My partner was just there and I allowed him to see the energy of the potential future in that land.

I would like to paint history for you regarding South America. There was a time when every single country had a dictator. Less than 15 years ago, they had failing economies and currencies that were worthless. Trouble and strife and killings were the norm. Marauding drug lords openly killed in the streets and corruption was everywhere. Even the politicians created fear and many disappeared overnight, never to be seen again. Today it isn't that way. Today, there is an ongoing stability as one country after another brings a new, positive, stable energy to their cultures. So, without a concentrated effort by any kind of multi-national leadership or direction, how could this have changed in only 15 years?

Within the entire continent, there's only one dictator left. What's happening? If you think that's amazing, there is a move afoot that you're not going to hear about yet. But they're discussing it right now, so let me tell you what they're thinking. "What would happen if we took these countries and eliminated the borders?" Sound familiar? They're talking about it. In back rooms where nobody is reporting it, they're saying, "What about a plan of eventually having one currency from the top of Columbia to the bottom of Chile? And we would be strong and we would be unified." And dear ones, I'm here to tell you, that it's going to work, and it might not take 50 years. Soon the one dictator will be gone, and the unification can begin.

There's a shift happening on this planet ...."

Friday, March 31, 2017

Maduro attacked from own camp over Venezuela power grab

Yahoo – AFP, Alexander MARTINEZ, March 31, 2017

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro is rarely criticized on state television,
which usually sticks to pro-government programming (AFP Photo/FEDERICO PARRA)

Caracas (AFP) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faced the strongest criticism ever from within his own camp Friday as his attorney general condemned recent court rulings that consolidated the socialist president's power.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega broke ranks with the president live on state TV to denounce two Supreme Court rulings this week that effectively dissolved the opposition-majority legislature and revoked lawmakers' immunity from prosecution.

Ortega is seen as staunchly loyal to the socialist "revolution" launched in Venezuela by Maduro's mentor Hugo Chavez in 1999.

But with Venezuela -- once a booming oil producer, now mired in food shortages, political chaos and an epidemic of violent crime -- Ortega fired off the most severe public criticism yet from a high-ranking "Chavista" official.

The Supreme Court rulings are a "rupture of constitutional order," she said at an event to mark the release of her 2016 annual report.

It was a shocking departure from script for Venezuelan state TV, where the programming is strictly pro-government and Maduro often delivers long speeches or shows off his salsa dancing.

"It is my duty to inform my country of my deep concern over these events," said Ortega, drawing a long salvo of applause from the crowd.

She delivered her remarks while brandishing a copy of what she referred to as "Chavez's constitution," adopted the year the late leftist firebrand came to power.

Venezuela's attorney general Luisa Ortega speaks during the release of
her 2016 annual report in Caracas, on March 31, 2017 (AFP Photo/HO)

Crisis talks, protests

The criticism came two days after the Supreme Court, which has staunchly backed Maduro through an economic and political crisis, assumed the powers of the National Assembly.

The legislature was the only pillar of power in Venezuela that was not under the control of the president and his allies.

The legislative speaker, Julio Borges, called on the military and other institutions to follow Ortega's example and speak up against Maduro.

"Now is the time to obey the orders of your conscience," he said.

Street protests erupted for a second day Friday in Caracas. Students marched on the Supreme Court, where they scuffled with soldiers.

Protesters also blocked streets in the working-class Petare neighborhood, and opposition lawmakers clashed with Maduro supporters downtown.

Two students and a journalist were arrested, activists said.

International condemnation continued pouring in, adding to the criticism already voiced by the United States, the European Union and a host of Latin American countries.

Colombia recalled its ambassador to Venezuela, joining Chile and Peru.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said Venezuela's high court had "finally made the overthrow of parliament official."

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Twitter that "when you break the division of powers, you break democracy" -- a comment echoed by the UN high commissioner for human rights.

Many have said the Supreme Court's move amounts to a coup.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has staunchly backed President Maduro through 
an economic and political crisis (AFP Photo/JUAN BARRETO)

Venezuela rejected that accusation Friday, lashing out at its critics as "imperialists."

The head of the Organization of American States called for the regional group's permanent council to hold crisis talks on the situation.

South American regional bloc Mercosur -- which suspended Venezuela in December -- will also hold crisis talks Saturday, Argentina announced.

Venezuela's center-right opposition has meanwhile called for more street protests Saturday.

Power struggle

The Supreme Court ruled the National Assembly leadership was in contempt of court for swearing in three lawmakers who were banned over alleged electoral fraud.

The opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) condemns the fraud charges as a trumped-up bid to curb the party's power after it won a landslide in legislative elections in December 2015 with a promise to oust Maduro.

The court has overturned every law passed by the current legislature.

Venezuela has the world's biggest oil reserves, but the collapse in prices has sapped its revenues, prompting shortages of food, medicine and basic goods.

Maduro, who was elected to succeed Chavez in 2013, is not up for re-election until October 2018.

But his popularity has plunged amid the crisis, forcing him to fend off opposition efforts to call a referendum on removing him from power.

Related Article:


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Brazilian ex-speaker sentenced to 15 years for corruption

Yahoo – AFP, Sebastian Smith, March 30, 2017

Brazil's former President of the Chamber of Deputies Eduardo Cunha, arrives
 at the Forensic Medicine Institute in Curitiba, on October 20, 2016 (AFP Photo/
Heuler Andrey)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Eduardo Cunha, the once-powerful speaker of Brazil's lower house of Congress who spearheaded the impeachment of leftist president Dilma Rousseff, was sentenced Thursday to more than 15 years in prison for corruption.

The sentence, imposed by top anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro in Curitiba, was a landmark for the country's battle against rampant, high-level graft.

Moro, frequently cited as a hero by Brazilians at demonstrations, cited Cunha's conviction for corruption, money laundering and tax evasion in handing down the sentence of 15 years and four months.

Cunha "took wrongful advantage of his mandate as a federal (congressional) deputy," Moro wrote. "There can be no more serious offense than betraying the parliamentary mandate and the sacred trust placed in him by the people for personal gain."

Cunha's defense lawyer immediately said an appeal would be lodged, G1 news site reported. However, Cunha will remain incarcerated in Curitiba, in the south of Brazil.

Prosecutors said he took millions of dollars in bribes as part of a sprawling corruption network in which politicians and major contractors embezzled from state oil company Petrobras. The investigation, dubbed Operation Car Wash, has upended Brazilian politics, with dozens of politicians accused of participating in the scheme.

A member of current President Michel Temer's PMDB party, Cunha, 58, was one of Brazil's most influential politicians until he was removed from his speaker's post in July and arrested in October 2016.

When he outmaneuvered Rousseff and triggered impeachment proceedings, she was replaced by Temer, then her conservative vice president in a coalition between the PMDB and Rousseff's Workers' Party. This briefly left Cunha first in the line of succession for the presidency.

Widely hated by Brazilians, Cunha earned a reputation as the ultimate master of dark political arts and was dubbed Brazil's Frank Underwood -- the scheming, corrupt anti-hero of the hit Netflix series "House of Cards" about a US politician.

Symbol of rot

Cunha is only one of many politicians tainted by the Car Wash probe or by other investigations. No less than one in three members of the lower house -- 155 out of 513 deputies -- face criminal cases, according to the specialist political website Congresso em Foco.

That number could shoot up soon when the Supreme Court, which handles all cases involving sitting politicians, acts on a request by the prosecutor general to open new Car Wash-related probes against about 100 as-yet unnamed politicians.

Among the many big names already in the crosshairs is former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a larger-than-life figure in leftwing Latin American politics who founded the Workers' Party and helped Rousseff into power.

Like Cunha, Lula is accused of corruption and money laundering.

However even in this rogue's gallery Cunha stood out, a feared and grudgingly admired political operator who ended up symbolizing the thieving and lack of accountability in the capital Brasilia.

Even before his arrest, Cunha was already in trouble for lying to Congress. Through a variety of delaying tactics he managed to avoid his eventual expulsion from the legislature for months.

According to analysts, Cunha triggered the impeachment of Rousseff -- after a long period of merely threatening to make the move -- in order to stave off his own legal problems.

Argentine Congress votes to legalize medical marijuana

Yahoo – AFP, March 30, 2017

Argentina is set to join Uruguay, Colombia, Chile and Mexico in legalizing
medical marijuana (AFP Photo/FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)

Buenos Aires (AFP) - Argentina's Senate voted unanimously to legalize medical marijuana, joining the lower house and setting the country on course to become the latest to relax its laws on pot.

President Mauricio Macri is all but certain to sign the bill, which garnered an unusual level of cross-party support and was applauded by patients and their families.

A group of mothers with sick children burst into tearful applause in the Senate as lawmakers voted 58-0 to pass the bill.

"This is a dream fulfilled, an immense happiness because it will bring solace to patients," said Maria Laura Alasi, whose four-year-old daughter Josefina suffers from West syndrome, a form of epilepsy that causes her to have dozens of seizures a day.

The new law lifts a ban on importing cannabis oil and allows Argentines to buy it with a prescription.

It stops short of allowing home-grown marijuana, something young patients' families had demanded.

"I have faith the senators will find a way around that," said Alasi. "A lot of mothers are already growing their own."

Latin America has seen a major political shift on pot in recent years.

In 2013, Argentina's neighbor Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana at every stage of production, sale and consumption -- though users must be registered.

Colombia, Chile and Mexico have all legalized the cultivation and use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

'When I'm 64': Beatlemania blooms belatedly in Cuba

Yahoo – AFP, Carlos BATISTA, March 23, 2017

A woman puts glasses on a statue of John Lennon, in a park in Havana,
on March 11, 2017 (AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

Havana (AFP) - While their American and European peers twisted and shouted to The Beatles in the 1960s, in Cuba childhood sweethearts Gisela and Hector kept their Beatlemania a naughty secret.

Now, still Beatles-crazy after all these years, but with the communist island's Cold War-era censorship of rock music a thing of the past, they are making up for lost time.

"We are very happy that Cuba is becoming reconciled to the Beatles," says Gisela, 64.

She and Hector, 65, have decorated their home with pictures, posters and souvenirs dedicated to the British band.

Whenever they can, they join crowds of fellow Cubans in their 60s and 70s, singing and dancing at the Yellow Submarine bar -- El Submarino Amarillo -- in downtown Havana.

"This is not nostalgia," says the artistic director of the club, journalist Guillermo Vilar, 65.

"This is about them claiming their right to experience what they could not experience before because of all the contradictions of the time."

A fan of The Beatles shows John Lennon's driver's license at his home in
Havana, on March 12, 2017 (AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

You Can't Do That

Fidel Castro's revolutionary regime banned songs in English, the language of its enemy the United States, for fear such music would spawn ideological deviance.

Gisela Moreno and Hector Ruiz would listen to The Beatles on US radio stations they captured on short-wave radios.

Records lent by the occasional returning traveler were copied in state recording studios, with the complicity of staff, onto low-quality metal discs.

"You put it on the record players we had back then and you just heard noise with the music in the background," Ruiz recalls.

"It was terrible, but hey, at least it was The Beatles."

At their high school, skinny-leg trousers, miniskirts and long hair were also banned.

But times have changed. The Yellow Submarine, opened in 2011, is one of at least six Beatles tribute bars across the island -- all of them run by the culture ministry.

One of them, in the eastern city of Holguin, is said to be an initiative of ruling party leader Miguel Diaz-Canel -- widely touted as the country's possible next president.

A man with his sons sit next to a statue of John Lennon in a park in Havana, 
on March 11, 2017 (AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

I Should Have Known Better

On a bench near the Yellow Submarine sits a bronze statue of late Beatle John Lennon.

Fidel Castro himself inaugurated the statue in 2000. In footage of the ceremony, the late leader can be heard bewailing the former censorship of Beatles songs.

"I greatly regret not having met you sooner," Castro told the statue.

The censorship was not his idea, Castro went on: he delegated cultural policy to underlings while he was busy leading Cuba through the Cold War.

Fidel Castro's death last November marked the end of an era in Cuba. His brother Raul, in charge now for more than a decade, has been gradually opening up the economy and foreign relations.

The bronze Lennon has become an attraction for locals and the growing number of foreign tourists visiting the island.

The statue's spectacles have been stolen several times and a guard has been appointed to take care of them, getting them out for passers-by when they want to take photos.

A man with his dog walks next to The Beatles bar in Varadero, Matanza, 
on March 17, 2017 (AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

From Me To You

Fans trace the rise of Beatlemania in Cuba to 1990, when Vilar organized a tribute concert to mark the 10th anniversary of Lennon's murder.

For many Cubans, that marked the belated birth of rock on the island -- for the old generation and the new.

At the Yellow Submarine, gentlemen's bellies bulge under black Beatles t-shirts and grey ponytails, while the ladies show off their miniskirts and long boots.

On stage, Cuba's top Beatles tribute singer Eddy Escobar, 46, plays the band's hits for scores of ageing revelers.

This ponytailed rocker was not yet born when The Beatles lit up the counter-culture movement before they broke up in 1970.

But he discovered the music, like younger Cubans are doing now.

"Good music will always last as long there is someone who somehow appreciates it, right?" says Escobar.

"The Beatles are here to stay," he says. "I give the bug to anyone I can."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mexico threatens to ditch US corn imports

Yahoo – AFP, Yussel GONZALEZ, March 21, 2017

Mexico imports billions of dollars' worth of corn from the US to feed its
livestock (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Mexico City (AFP) - Mexico has identified a potential weapon in its trade wrangle with US President Donald Trump: lucrative yellow cobs of American corn.

The Latin American nation imports billions of dollars' worth of the yellow grain from the United States to feed its livestock.

But with Trump pushing to shake up the countries' trade ties, Mexico is now threatening to buy from elsewhere.

That is worrying corn growers in some of the very same US states that voted heavily in favor of Trump: Iowa, North Dakota, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Trump has vowed to restrict free trade with Mexico in order to protect US jobs and industry.

But with Mexico gearing up for a potential trade battle, the effect could be the opposite -- at least when it comes to corn.

"For US corn producers, Mexico is their number one export customer," Thomas Sleight, president of the US Grains Council, told AFP.

"They are concerned about maintaining excellent relationships with long standing customers that they've built over generations."

Leverage for NAFTA talks

Mexico's Agriculture Secretary Jose Calzada said Mexico is in advanced talks with two other corn producers, Brazil and Argentina.

The US grain is cheaper than those countries' corn at $198 a ton, says Juan Carlos Anaya, head of the Agricultural Markets Consulting Group, a Mexican research firm.

Brazilian corn costs $210 a ton and Argentine corn $217, Anaya said.

Buying corn from other countries would drive up the price of certain products in Mexico, he warned.

The US grain is cheaper than Brazil and Argentina's corn, at $198 a ton
(AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan)

But Mexico needs alternative sources of corn to gain leverage in trade negotiations.

Trump has vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada.

He wants new conditions that will help shift manufacturing jobs back to the United States and boost US production and exports.

Talks are expected to start this year.

"We do not know what the United States will propose," said Calzada.

"We have to act first to be sure that when we arrive at that negotiating table we are starting from a position of total strength."

One leftist opposition senator, Armando Rios Piter, has launched a legislative proposal to buy corn from Brazil and Argentina.

US "corn producers may have been fooled by Donald Trump when he said that Mexico was the only one benefiting from NAFTA," Rios told AFP.

"Now that they see what is at stake, they will have to change their minds."

US farmers concerned

Corn is Mexico's fourth-biggest import from the United States, after gasoline, diesel and natural gas.

Mexico imported $2.32 billion worth of corn in 2016 -- 10 percent more than the previous year, according to Mexican government figures.


By comparison, it imported just $17.7 million of corn from Argentina and $10 million from Brazil.

Mexico is also a major importer of US dairy products, pork, rice, wheat and soya.

Sleight said producers in five big corn-exporting US states have been lobbying lawmakers in Washington to stress how important NAFTA is for their business.

On January 23, agriculture industry leaders wrote to Trump saying that US food exports had quadrupled since NAFTA came into force in 1994.

"The sector in the US is struggling under the weight of low prices, reduced land values and rising interest rates, meaning farm profitability has declined", said analysis firm BMI Research.

"US farmers would suffer considerably from trade disruption with Mexico."