The chief hitman of Colombia’s most infamous drug lord, Pablo Escobar, was released from prison Wednesday after 22 years behind bars. Jhon Jairo Velasquez, alias “Popeye,” was set free after serving only three-fifths of his original sentence, for reasons of “good behavior,” according to Colombia’s W Radio. By his own admission, Popeye participated in over 300 murders; however, he has been implicated in coordinating over 3,000 assassinations, including of Colombian police, politicians, and journalists.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin apologized Monday (Aug 12) to his Brazilian counterpart for a remark by a foreign ministry spokesman calling the Latin American powerhouse a "diplomatic dwarf." ● The comment in July was made by spokesman Yigal Palmor after Brazil criticized Israel's military campaign in Gaza as excessive and recalled its envoy in Tel Aviv. In a phone call Monday, Rivlin assured Brazil President Dilma Rousseff that Palmor's comments "do not correspond to the sentiments of the population" of Israel, Rousseff's office said in a statement. Rousseff had criticised Palmor's remarks, saying "Words, including the spokesman's, sometimes create a very bad climate. In this case, we have to be very careful."
Bolivia has declared Israel to be a “terrorist state” and renounced a visa exemption agreement with the country in protest over the ongoing Israeli military offense in Gaza which already killed more than 1,300 dead and left over 7,000 wounded. ● Canceling the 1972 agreement which allowed Israelis to travel freely to Bolivia “means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state,” the country's President Evo Morales announced. Morales explained that Operation Protective edge clearly shows that “
Israel is not a guarantor of the principles of respect for life and the elementary precepts of rights that govern the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of our international community.”
Paul Craig Roberts ■ South America Takes Moral Leadership Away From The Immoral West
The group of emerging economies signed the long-anticipated document to create the $100 bn BRICS Development Bank and a reserve currency pool worth over another $100 bn. Both will counter the influence of Western-based lending institutions and the dollar. ● The new bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size. Each BRICS member is expected to put an equal share into establishing the startup capital of $50 billion with a goal to reach $100 billion. The BRICS bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, India will preside as president the first year, and Russia will be the chairman of the representatives. “
BRICS Bank will be one of the major multilateral development finance institutions in this world,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday at the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. The big launch of the BRICS bank is seen as a first step to break the dominance of the US dollar in global trade, as well as dollar-backed institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both US-based institutions BRICS countries have little influence within.
RT.com/Pepe Escobar: BRICS bank on its way to beat casino financial system - VIDEO
Wayne Madsen: Check Mating Washington in its Own Backyard with
RIA Novosti: BRICS Seek Joint Stance on Foreign Policy – Putin
RIA Novosti: Washington ‘Not Worried’ by BRICS Bank – Spokeswoman
Moscow and Havana have reportedly reached an agreement on reopening the SIGINT facility in Lourdes, Cuba - once Russia’s largest foreign base of this kind - which was shut down in 2001 due to financial problems and under US pressure. ● When operational, the facility was manned by thousands of military and intelligence personnel, whose task was to intercept signals coming from and to the US territory and to provide communication for the Russian vessels in the western hemisphere. Russia considered reopening the Lourdes base since 2004 and has sealed a deal with Cuba last week during the visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to the island nation, reports Kommersant business daily citing multiple sources. “I can say one thing: at last!” one of the sources commented on the news to the paper, adding that the significance of the move is hard to overestimate.
Forty years after the US-backed military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power in Chile, the truth about the sordid abuses and crimes that took place during his dictatorship are still emerging. ● The mountains of Patagonia in southern Chile witnessed a particularly bizarre chapter of the Pinochet era; one that is still claiming victims today. In 1961, a former Nazi corporal called Paul Schaefer fled Germany, along with hundreds of others, to found a sect in southern Chile. In an idyllic rural enclave framed by the Andes Mountains he created a virtual state within a state - one where horrifying events unfolded. Initially with the ignorance of the government, and then with the complicity of the Pinochet regime, children were separated from their parents at birth and raised in a Kinder House. Men and women were kept apart and often drugged, while Schaefer systematically sexually abused boys and, occasionally, girls. But it was not only the residents of Colonia Dignidad, or the Dignity Colony, that endured such brutalities. The secluded Colony, set on a huge estate featuring forests, mountains and rivers and enclosed by electrified barbed wire fences and look-out posts manned by armed guards, was the perfect place for the interrogation, torture and disposal of anyone Pinochet considered to be an enemy. It also served as a haven for Nazi fugitives - such as Walter Rauff, the inventor of the portable gas chamber, and Joseph Mengele, the so-called 'Angel of Death' - who were permitted to hide out there in exchange for overseeing sophisticated forms of torture. All of this took place with the full knowledge of the Pinochet regime, whose notorious intelligence chief, General Manuel Contreras, would often visit the site.
Scott Campbell ■ As technology offers new possibilities for connection, it also offers new means to keep tabs on people. Surveillance has become seemingly ubiquitous, from the NSA reading emails to drones in the skies. As a nation that has for 66 years been ruling over an indigenous population by force, one of the main countries practicing surveillance is Israel. And it is the Israeli defense industry that has been reaping the profits off of the oppression and surveillance of the Palestinian people. One of the top occupation profiteers in Israel is the defense firm Elbit Systems. The largest non-governmental defense company in the country, its revenue stood at $2.83 billion in 2010. Using knowledge and expertise gained from assisting in the occupation of Palestine, Elbit has made millions exporting surveillance and defense materiel worldwide – and increasingly so to Latin America.
Ecuador says US scientists have taken thousands of unauthorized blood samples from an indigenous group in the Amazon known for their unique genetic profile and disease immunity. ● Rene Ramirez, the head of Ecuador’s Higher Education and Science Ministry, said some 3,500 procedures were carried out in which blood was drawn without authorization from 600 members of the Huaorani indigenous community, living in the country’s Amazon basin region. Ramirez added that blood samples “were also taken from some people on more than one occasion.” Ecuador’s Higher Education and Science Ministry had previously released new details of a government investigation into the issue. In the initial report two years ago, members of the Huaorani community said that the US scientists deceived them into taking part in the sampling procedures between 1990 and 1991. The Huaorani people said they were told by the American researchers that the blood samples were for medical tests for them; however, they never received any results.
The Latin American countries are waking up to the fact that most of the world’s population does not want GMO food. Brazil recently increased their export of corn to China, for example, when China rejected U.S. genetically modified corn that was not approved in China. With an apparent eye to the potential export market for non-GMO corn, a court in Brazil banned approval of further GMO corn in the country. Likewise, judges in Mexico seem to also be waking up to the dangers of GMO corn and the market potential for non-GMO corn, and have recently banned GMO corn in some provinces. Unfortunately, the biotech industry responsible for producing GMO seeds in America has tremendous political power. We have documented in the past how the U.S. State Department has tried to force European countries to adopt made-in-the-USA GMO seeds. (See: U.S. State Department Wants to Pressure the EU to Accept our GMO Products) We have also documented how the United States has used their military might to force occupied countries to adopt our GMO seeds, at the expense of local sustainable agriculture. (See: US Foreign Policy Destroys Native Sustainable Agriculture) So it should come as no surprise that the United States is now trying to pressure Latin American countries to buy our GMO seeds.
A device containing radioactive substances [cesium-37 and americium-beryllium] was stolen from a government research facility and authorities are working to track it down, Mexico's No. 2 official said. "We have the report regarding the theft of this material and the alerts and protocol we follow in these cases have already been implemented," Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told reporters after speaking at a conference of state law enforcement chiefs and attorneys general. A group of armed men grabbed the device Sunday night during an assault on a National Construction Laboratory warehouse in Tultitlan, Mexico state.
Hours before the opening ceremony of the football-soccer World Cup in Sao Paulo Thursday, protests continued across Brazil. Sao Paulo, the center of the opening festivities, is a city occupied by military forces. In the morning hours, the police used tear gas and rubber bullets to contain a protest march. At least five people, three reporters and two protesters, were reported injured. Police surrounded the demonstrators as they were nearing the Itaquerao stadium and forced them to retreat. Subway workers staged another demonstration, demanding that the state governor rehire scores of transit workers victimized during last week’s strike in this city, the largest in Latin America. [...] The street protests and strikes are a continuing reflection of popular anger over the US$11.3 million spent on the World Cup—four times the initial estimate—at a time in which clinics, schools, mass transit and other social services are facing cutbacks.
Ecuador has ordered all 20 defence department employees in the US embassy's military group to leave the country by the end of the month, Associated Press says. The group was ordered to halt operations in Ecuador in a letter dated 7 April, said embassy spokesman Jeffrey Weinshenker. AP was first alerted to the expulsions by a senior Ecuadorean official who refused to be identified by name due to the information's sensitive nature.
The United States engineered a text messaging network in Cuba to try and spread unrest in the communist country. More than 40,000 people have shared news and opinions using the service. ● The documents obtained by the Associated Press state the project was led by Joe McSpedon, a US government official, who attracted a team of high-tech wizards from around the globe to set up a site that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. The Caribbean island has some of the world’s most stringent internet regulations, so text messaging via cellphones would help to evade the country’s strict information controls. Since Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother Raul, the use of mobile technology has been encouraged. Cubans were given the opportunity to call one another or send text messages, though the cost was high, given that the average salary is just $20 per month. The network was called ZunZuneo, which was a play on twitter, with the word being slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. The project was financed by the US Agency for international development (USAID), best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US humanitarian aid. The initial plan was to gain users by allowing access to light news stories, such as baseball bulletins, music and weather updates. However, once a critical number of subscribers was reached, operators would introduce political stories aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the Cuban government, with the aim of creating a ‘Cuban Spring’.
Ecuador has said it will not deal with the coup-appointed government in Kiev and has called for fair elections. President Rafael Correa declared he would only negotiate with a “
legitimate government” that represents the will of the Ukrainian people. ● In his weekly address to the Ecuadorian people, Correa explained why Ecuador had abstained from the UN General Assembly vote Thursday that passed a resolution condemning Crimea’s union with Russia. “
We will not fall for a farce, we will only deal with a legitimate government,” said Correa, adding that Ecuador does not recognize the current government that is the product of a coup d’état. To win the support of Ecuador, Ukraine should hold democratic elections and establish a legitimate government chosen by the Ukrainian people, Correa said. Moscow has also decried the coup-appointed government that came to power in Kiev at the end of February following weeks of bloody protests in the Ukrainian capital’s Independence Square. "
The current government is the product of devious machinations, to put to it mildly, clearly supported by hypocritical rhetoric from the West,” Correa said.
World-renowned Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia has died aged 66 in Mexico, reportedly of a heart attack while playing with his children on a beach. He is said to have died in the Mexican resort of Cancun. ● The death of one of the most celebrated flamenco guitarists was announced by the mayor's office in Algeciras, southern Spain, where he was born. ● Famous for a series of flamenco albums in the 1970s, he also crossed over into classical and jazz guitar. He also worked on films by Spanish director Carlos Saura, notably appearing in his 1983 version of Carmen, which won a UK Bafta award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985. Algeciras is to hold two days of official mourning. Its mayor, Jose Ignacio Landaluce, called the musician's death an "irreparable loss for the world of culture and for Andalusia". He had lived both in Mexico and in Spain in recent years. ● 'I knew every rhythm' - He was born Francisco Sanchez Gomez on 21 December 1947, the son of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sanchez, who was of Gypsy origin. He took his stage name in honour of his mother, Lucia Gomes. It is believed he had played the guitar from the age of five. "
My family grew up with the Gypsies," the guitarist was quoted as saying in a 1994 article in Guitar Player. "
My father and all my brothers played guitar, so before I picked it up, before I could speak, I was listening. Before I started to play, I knew every rhythm of the flamenco. I knew the feeling and the meaning of the music, so when I started to play, I went directly to the sound I had in my ear." - ¡En paz descanse, Paco!
Ayuntamiento de Algeciras:
Algeciras Llora En Silencio La Muerte De Paco De Lucía
Tres Días De Luto Oficial Por La Muerte De Paco De Lucía
Supporters of Edward Snowden have handed in to Brazil’s Foreign Ministry a petition signed by more than 1.1 million people calling upon the government of President Dilma Rousseff to grant the US National Security Agency whistle-blower asylum in the country. ● The petition, begun last November on the Avaaz web site, gathered support from throughout Brazil and around the world, providing a powerful expression of the immense popular support for Snowden and hostility to the global spying operations of the NSA. Revelations from the NSA documents made public by Snowden have had a particularly strong impact in Brazil, where they have established the US spy agency’s systematic hacking of the official and personal phone calls, text messages, emails and Internet searches of President Rousseff and her aides. They also uncovered economic espionage directed against Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, which is the fourth-largest energy conglomerate in the world, and the government’s ministry of mining and energy.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the expulsion of three US consular officials accusing the United States of supporting Venezuelan opposition to destabilize the country. Maduro ordered the expulsions on Sunday, as tensions rise over the anti-government demonstrations being held across the country. The American consular officials were not identified; however, Maduro said they had met with university students involved in the protests. “It’s a group of US functionaries who are in the universities. We’ve been watching them having meetings in the private universities for two months. They work in visas,” said the Venezuelan president. Maduro said he would not tolerate threats to Venezuela’s sovereignty.
At least three people have died in violent protests in the Venezuelan capital, officials have confirmed. President Nicolas Maduro has condemned the unrest as an attempt at a coup d’état orchestrated by extremist members of the political opposition. Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of the Venezuelan capital on Wednesday in the worst unrest since Nicolas Maduro assumed the presidency last year. Demonstrators from several different political factions clashed in Caracas, leaving at least three people dead and over 20 injured. Venezuela’s top prosecutor confirmed the death of 24-year-old student Bassil Dacosta Frías, who was shot in the head and died later in hospital. Officials said that a government supporter was also assassinated in what they decried as an act of “fascism.” A third person was killed in the Chacao neighborhood in the East of the Venezuelan capital. As night fell in Chacao, police clashed with protesters, firing tear gas into a crowd of young protesters who burned tires and blocked a main road. RT Actualidad’s correspondent in Caracas, Karen Mendez, said that gunfire broke out in Chacao later during the night and her team had been caught in the crossfire.
Edgar Tamayo Arias, 46, an undocumented immigrant worker from Morelos, Mexico, imprisoned on death row for the last two decades, was killed late Wednesday night with a lethal injection in the death chamber of the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, 70 miles north of Houston. ● The act of state murder was carried out with flagrant contempt for international law and basic rights after the US Supreme Court rejected Tamayo’s appeal. “The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the court said in a terse statement Wednesday night. Scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Central Time, the high court’s cursory consideration of Tamayo’s fate delayed the killing for just three and a half hours.
Kissinger Gave the "Green Light" for Argentina's Dirty War. "That resulted in the disappearance—that is, deaths—of an estimated 30,000 people." ● Only a few months ago, Henry Kissinger was dancing with Stephen Colbert in a funny bit on the latter's Comedy Central show. But for years, the former secretary of state has sidestepped judgment for his complicity in horrific human rights abuses abroad, and a new memo has emerged that provides clear evidence that in 1976 Kissinger gave Argentina's neo-fascist military junta the "green light" for the dirty war it was conducting against civilian and militant leftists that resulted in the disappearance—that is, deaths—of an estimated 30,000 people.
A Mexican state government spokesman told Al Jazeera that the CIA and other international security forces "don't fight drug traffickers" as much as "try to manage the drug trade," Chris Arsenault reports. "It's like pest control companies, they only control," Chihuahua spokesman Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva told Al Jazeera. "If you finish off the pests, you are out of a job. If they finish the drug business, they finish their jobs." Chihuahua, one of Mexico's most violent states, borders on Texas.
Mexican vigilante gunmen disarm local POLICE so they can rid town of feared Knights Templar drug cartel
Residents living in fear of violent criminal gangs in south-west Mexico are taking matters into their own hands. Yesterday 600 vigilantes seized control of town of Paracuaro in Michoacan state in bloody battle that left one dead. Convoy of 'autodefensas', or self-defence groups, drove into the town controlled by drugs gang in blacked-out SUVs. They took back control from the Cabelleros Templarios (Knights Templar) gang which terrorised local residents. In neighbouring Guerrero state, vigilante group the Public Safety System marched in honour of first anniversary.
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy "open letter to the people of Brazil" that he's been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of NSA documents and that the agency's culture of indiscriminate global espionage "is collapsing." ● In the letter, Snowden commended the Brazilian government for its strong stand against U.S. spying. He wrote that he'd be willing to help the South American nation investigate NSA spying on its soil, but could not fully participate in doing so without being granted political asylum, because the U.S. "government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak." Revelations about the NSA's spy programs were first published in the Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers in June, based on some of the thousands of documents Snowden handed over to Barton Gellman at the Post and to Brazil-based American journalist Glenn Greenwald and his reporting partner, Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker.
Edward Snowden: An Open Letter to the People of Brazil
Brazil has rejected a contract for Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jets in favor of the Swedish Saab’s JAS 39 Gripens. The unexpected move to reject the US bid comes amid the global scandal over the NSA’s involvement in economic espionage activities. The announcement for the purchase of 36 fighters was made Wednesday by Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim and Air Force Commander Junti Saito. The jets will cost US$4.5 billion, well below the estimated market value of around US$7 billion.
Brazil has no plans to grant asylum to Edward Snowden even after the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor offered on Tuesday to help investigate revelations of spying on Brazilians and their president, a local newspaper reported. ● The Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, citing unnamed government officials, said the Brazilian government has no interest in investigating the mass Internet surveillance programs Snowden revealed in June and does not intend to give him asylum. In an "Open Letter to the Brazilian People" published by Folha and social media, Snowden offered to help a congressional probe into NSA spying on the country, including the personal communications of President Dilma Rousseff.
Russia Today/AWIP: Snowden offers to help Brazil investigate NSA spying when he's given asylum
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