La Señal Informativa de América Latina <![CDATA[Dominican Official Says Urgent Help Needed to Deliver Food, Water, Shelter]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:51:00 -0400 A Dominican official has revealed the level of destruction Hurricane Maria brought to the island nation. A statement from the advisor to the prime minister of Dominica called for aid and air support from the international community. He said the hurricane killed at least seven people, but feared that number might rise.

Hurricane Maria Makes Landfall on Puerto Rico's Vieques After Lashing St Croix

“It's 4:30 a.m. and I just spoke with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit via Satellite phone,” Principal Advisor Hartley Henry said. “He and family are fine. Dominica is not!! Tremendous loss of housing and public buildings. The main general hospital took a beating. Patient care has been compromised. Many buildings serving as shelters lost roofs, which means that a very urgent need now is tarpaulins and other roofing materials.”

Hartley painted a picture of Dominica’s current state, saying that although little contact has been made with outer communities, "persons who walked 10 and 15 miles towards the city of Roseau from various outer districts report total destruction of homes, some roadways, and crops."

The advisor said urgent helicopter services were needed to deliver "food, water and tarpaulins to outer districts for shelter," adding, "Canefield airport can accommodate helicopter landings and it is expected that from today, the waters around the main Roseau port will be calm enough to accommodate vessels bringing relief supplies and other forms of assistance."

“The country is in a daze — no electricity, no running water — as a result of uprooted pipes in most communities," Henry said. “The island has been devastated.”

Prime Minister Skerrit will attempt to reach out to the international community later on Wednesday via ABS Radio in Antigua to speak directly to world leaders and ask for immediate relief, Henry said.

“The urgent needs now are roofing materials for shelters, bedding supplies for hundreds stranded in or outside what's left of their homes and food and water drops for residents of outlying districts inaccessible at the moment,” he said.

“The country needs the support and continued help and prayers of all,” Henry added.


Hurricane Maria Devastates Dominica, Moves towards Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

“It's difficult to determine the level of fatalities but so far seven are confirmed, as a direct result of the hurricane. That figure, the Prime Minister fears, will rise as he wades his way into the rural communities today — Wednesday.”

According to the Henry, all public facilities are being used as shelters.

All communications with the island were knocked out by the force of the Category 5 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 257 kph ripping the roofs off buildings on the island of 72,000 people.

Ronald Jackson, ‎executive director, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said an estimated 70 to 80 percent of buildings have been damaged, along with hospitals, roads, and bridges.

The Caribbean Community, Caricom, is currently working out the region's response to the crisis in Dominica.

However, a report from the head of the U.K. Taskforce on hurricanes Irma and Maria, Chris Austin, said in a video Wednesday, that the mountainous and volcanic terrain of Dominica is proving to be a challenge to the relief effort. The U.K. is currently attempting to get an assessment team on the ground in Dominica.

St Lucia, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Belize are mobilizing relief efforts for the island, with a helicopter from Trinidad and Tobago able to land Tuesday night near the prime minister's official residence.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne said, “The government and people of Antigua and Barbuda stand in solidarity with the government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica during this time of need.” Barbuda was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma two weeks ago.

In Prime Minister Skerrit's last communication during the storm, he told teleSUR that the nation has suffered "mind-boggling" destruction.

He said initial reports are indicative of "widespread devastation. So far, we have lost all that money can buy and replace."

Skerrit added that his greatest fear was waking up to the "news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains. "

Skerrit himself had to be rescued from his house. In a Facebook post, he wrote "My roof is gone. I'm at the complete mercy of the hurricane. My house is flooding.

"So far, the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to, or otherwise made contact with. The roof of my own official residence was among the first to go, and this apparently triggered an avalanche of torn away roofs in the city and the countryside," he told teleSUR.

It was the first time Dominica had ever been hit by a Category 5 storm. In 1979, Hurricane David struck the island as a Category 4 storm. Some 56 people died and three-quarters of the population was left homeless.

<![CDATA[Hurricane Maria Makes Direct Landfall in Puerto Rico as a Deadly Category 4]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 10:59:00 -0400 After devastating Dominica and Guadeloupe, and battering St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hurricane Maria is currently making landfall in Puerto Rico as a category 4, with sustained winds of 250 kilometers per hour.

Hurricane Maria: Dominica's Social Media Users Share Dominica's Terror

According to the National Hurricane Center, the eye of Maria made landfall on mainland Puerto Rico at 6:35am local time.

The Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands and a section of Bahamas have issued hurricane warnings as the system makes its way to mainland Puerto Rico.

Previously, St Croix – which has a population of approximately 50,000 – was spared the eye of the hurricane, which skirted the south of the island. But, the winds and rains accompanying Maria’s eyewall lashed the island. 

In an interview with Time magazine, Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rossello, said, “Luckily our team planned and assessed for it. We were thinking of really bizarre scenarios occurring and one of them was getting back to back storms in Puerto Rico.” 

He added: “This is very dangerous ... You can replace infrastructure, you can’t replace lives. So let’s focus on the next 72 hours on saving lives. Let’s weather the storm and then let’s start rebuilding.”

Puerto Rican officials warned residents to leave their homes ahead of the hurricane's impending impact. “You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you’re going to die,” Puerto Rico's public safety officer, said, "I don’t know how to make this any clearer."

Over 4,000 people have already moved into the official emergency shelters, Rossello, posted earlier to his Twitter account. 

U.S President, Donald Trump, posted on his Twitter,"Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you – will be there to help!"

The storm appears to be following Hurricane Irma's path which left a trail of destruction across the region two weeks ago.

Seven people are known to have been killed in Dominica, where Maria first made landfall, and one person is dead, two others are missing in the French territory of Guadeloupe.

The Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, is working with the local authorities in the affected regions to assist in the relief operations, providing medical supplies and urgent care. 

Hurricane Maria, "could greatly impact already battered structures and debris, complicate humanitarian aid delivery, and displace more people to shelters," Ciro Ugarte, head of the emergency program, PAHO, said in a statement. 

It also said, "A quick delivery of needed supplies and human resources, as well as prepositioning and preparation for the coming storm, will be important to avoid further public health impact in the countries and territories located in the path of this powerful hurricane." 

The Caribbean Community, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago are also sending aid to Dominica


<![CDATA[Brazilian General Backs Call for Intervention by Military]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 10:23:00 -0400 Four-star Brazilian General Augusto Heleno has come out in support of an intervention by the military in the country, citing the ongoing political crisis.

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On Tuesday, he published a Facebook article in defense of Antonio Hamilton Martins Mourao, an active general in Brazil's armed forces, who defended the possibility of a Brazilian military intervention during a speech last week. Both decorated military men based their conclusion on the deteriorating political crisis in the South American country, according to Brasil24/7.

Writing in favor of his colleague, Heleno declared his “unrestrained support for my longtime friend and respected military chief.”

He chastised "some politicians, indicted for corruption and embezzlement of public funds, members of the gang that dissolved the country” for attacking Moura, demanding respect for the impeccable reputation and 45-year long military career of his colleague. He advised them to “at least, look in the mirror of consciousness and shame.”

He added that Moura simply said “in his habitual frankness and courage, what is envisaged in the constitution. The left, in their state of panic after their continued failures, interpreted this as a military intervention threat. Ridiculous.”

Comments related to his post have received ample support according to a military monitoring group.

Brazil’s Ruling Party Faces Criminal Organization Charges

Mourao's previous statements caused consternation within Brazil's top military command. Defense Minister Raul Jungmann summoned top military commander Eduardo Villa Boas to explain Mourao's declarations and “advise him on the proper measures to be taken,” according to Estado.

Jungmann stressed that Mourao's statements shouldn't be taken out of context, preferring to resolve the controversial remarks within military ranks and not apply any punishment.

Heleno was the first military commander to lead Brazil Peace Forces in Haiti in 2004. In 2014, he publicly criticized the ruling Workers' Party and former President Dilma Rousseff, which resulted in his losing his position as South Military Commander of the Brazilian states of Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. He currently serves as Military Secretary of Economy and Finances.

<![CDATA[Mexico Searches for at Least 30 Students Still Trapped in School After Quake]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:08:00 -0400 At least 26 people, including 21 children, were killed after a school south of Mexico City collapsed as a result of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the country Tuesday.

Mexico Quake: Images Show Panic and Destruction

Five adults, along with the children, were found by rescuers inside the Enrique Rebsamen School in Villa Coapa, south of the capital, and at least 30 people are still missing, according to authorities.

Work to rescue a girl began in the early hours after a rescue dog found her under the rubble. Rescuers asked people around the area to remain silent in order for them to be able to hear where she was trapped since noon Tuesday.

"They continue to pull out children, but we don't know anything about my daughter," Adriana D'Fargo told AFP, as she continued to look for her 7-year-old child.

Dozens of mothers remained outside of the school throughout the agonizing day, waiting for news on their children.

"Rescue of two children of the Enrique Rebsamen School, in Villa Coapa, DF."

The school, which had three floors, collapsed but left space on the first floor for rescuers to recover children caught under the construction, according to Army Major Jose Luis Vergara.

Social Media Shares Mexico's Earthquake Tragedy

Hundreds of people, including neighbors and relatives joined the efforts of clearing debris with their hands and removing rubble with whatever tools they could find.

Authorities said more than 700 members of the army and the city's civil protection services were involved in the rescue efforts.

About 38 buildings in the capital collapsed due to the quake. Classes have been suspended until further notice in several states.

Another 11 aftershocks were registered after the earthquake.

More than 200 schools in Mexico City have been affected, with 15 suffering severe damages. Schools around the country were participating in earthquake drills, since Sept. 19 is the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico.

<![CDATA[Guatemalans Hold ‘National Strike’ Against Corruption]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:08:00 -0400 Guatemalan citizens across the country are taking to the streets to protest a recent National Assembly decision that made it easier for elected officials to escape punishment for illegally financing elections while reducing prison time for those convicted. 

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The action comes as three government ministers have stepped down over ongoing political turmoil: Finance Minister Julio Hector Estrada, Labor Minister Leticia Teleguario and Interior  Minister Francisco Rivas. They agreed to remain in their posts until replaced.

The nationwide protest, declared a “national strike,” is also being held to protest a decision to impede the U.N. International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, Cicig, investigation into President Jimmy Morales. The former comedian is being accused of illegally financing his 2015 presidential campaign.

The protest is coordinated by the social movement Justice Now, which was formed in 2015 to end political corruption and impunity in Guatemala. The movement includes hundreds of civil society organizations, universities, high schools and businesses throughout the country. 

We are sharing some of the routes of #NationalStrike #20S. We will get together at different points. See you in the streets!

Anti-government protests have been held almost daily since Sept. 15.

Protesters are demanding that Guatemala’s electoral laws be reformed in order to combat government impunity. They are also demanding that National Assembly members who voted in favor of last week's decision step down.

Three weeks ago, Morales tried to expel Cicig Director Ivan Velasquez, a move which the Guatemalan Supreme Court blocked. Velasquez is not only investigating the president for an unaccounted US$825,000 during his election campaign, but also his son and brother, who are both suspected of being involved in the mishandling of funds.

During his opening speech to the 72nd U.N. General Assembly in New York, Morales hailed the work of Cicig, adding that he hoped to "improve the commission's role by ensuring due prosecution, presumption of innocence and to avoid selective prosecution and the politicization of justice."

<![CDATA[Escobar's Brother Says Netflix Should Get 'Hitmen Security' After Scout's Death in Mexico]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 06:53:00 -0400 A sibling of Pablo Escobar – who the widely popular Netflix series Narcos features – advised the streaming service to acquire “hitmen security” following the recent murder of a location scout.

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Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria, the brother of the late drug kingpin, said Netflix should avoid using Mexico and Colombia locations "without authorization from Escobar Inc."

His suggestion came after location scout Carlos Muñoz Portal's body was discovered in a remote area near San Bartolo Actopan – known to have one of Mexico's highest murder rates. "It is very dangerous," he told the Hollywood Reporter in an interview. "Especially without our blessing. This is my country."

Gaviria also added that Netflix should beef up security to protect the Narcos crew.

'You have to eliminate all threats,' said Escobar Gaviria. 'If you have the intellect, you don't need to use weapons. If not, you have to. In this case, Netflix should provide hitmen to their people as security.'

Concerns about whether production should continue on location in Mexico, or move back to Colombia, heightened since Muñoz's death.

Last year Gaviria reportedly sent a letter to Netflix demanding a $1 billion payout for unauthorized use of content related to Pablo Escobar and the Medellin cartel.

‘I don't want Netflix or any other film production company to film any movies in Medellin or Colombia that relates to me or my brother Pablo without authorization from Escobar Inc,’ Escobar Gaviria told The Hollywood Reporter over the phone.

Mexican authorities told El Pais that they had no suspects in the killing of Muñoz due to the lack of witnesses.

A friend of the deceased told the Spanish-language newspaper that Muñoz was out taking photographs when he was shot, and speculated that an unfamiliar man with a camera may have spooked locals in the crime-ridden area.

Police said the car appeared to have been involved in some kind of chase, but they were uncertain whether the chase began in Hidalgo or the State of Mexico, where the car was found. 

Netflix issued the following statement: 'We are aware of the passing of Carlos Muñoz Portal, a well-respected location scout, and send our condolences to his family.'

'The facts surrounding his death are still unknown as authorities continue to investigate,' the statement continued. 

Muñoz, a Mexican national, had worked as a film location scout since 2003. He previously worked on Man On Fire, Apocalypto, Spectre, Sicario and Fast & Furious.

<![CDATA[Spanish Govt. Raids Catalan Ministries, Arrests 12 Officials]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 06:17:00 -0400 Carrying through on promises to halt the upcoming independence referendum, a dozen top Catalan government officials were detained following the raiding of regional government offices by the Madrid state, according to La Vanguardia.

Protesters Turnout in Force to Defy Spain's Govt and Show Support for Catalan Referendum

The Catalan government was able to confirm that Catalonia's junior economy minister was among the arrested.

Police have confirmed that they were carrying out the raids, but declined to provide details.

Hundreds gathered outside government offices in Barcelona to protest the crack-down, chanting “We will vote,” Reuters reported.

The government spokesperson of Catalonia, Jordi Turull, urged calmness in the face of what he called the “police and siege state,” and said that the referendum will go on, La Vanguardia reported.

The Vice President of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras, said that the Madrid-based Spanish government is exhibiting “a total contempt toward the will of the people.”

The left-wing Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias, said that Spain is heading toward a situation in which they will have "political prisoners," El Pais reported.

The Catalonian leader, Carles Puigdemont, called an emergency meeting of his cabinet for later on Wednesday.

Among the buildings raided were the foreign affairs, telecommunications, social affairs, and presidential buildings, which were searched for computer equipment and documentation pertaining to the planned October 1st referendum.

Catalonia Begins Independence Campaign as Spanish Government Threatens Crackdown

On Tuesday, Spanish police seized nearly 50,000 envelopes with the Catalan government's logo from a delivery company, which were going to be used to deliver ballot materials.

The government has also opened a legal investigation into over 700 Catalan local mayors, who have said they will allow the referendum to continue in their municipalities. The first of these were forced to appear before a court on Tuesday.

Since the independence referendum for Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, was called earlier this month, the Spanish government has fiercely opposed the measure, which they say is illegal.

<![CDATA[US Navy to Use $30 Xbox Controllers to Steer Periscopes]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 05:24:00 -0400 The U.S. Navy is looking to use $30 Xbox controllers to manipulate its periscopes.

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The sailors are currently using Lockheed Martin-built controllers, which are less elegant in design and demands a longer learning curve. They cost about $38,000.

According to an Engadget report, the Xbox controllers may also be used to manipulate laser weapons and other equipment.

The USS Colorado is scheduled to be outfitted with the popular gaming console's controllers when it is introduced to the fleet in November.

The U.S. Navy plans to use the Xbox 360 controllers primarily for operating the periscopes aboard its newer submarines.

Fox 5 news cited a Virginian-Pilot report which stated that the Navy's Virginia-class subs will replace the traditional rotating periscope with high-resolution cameras and large monitors.

The report added that the Navy is eager to integrate the X-box controller because it is more familiar to younger sailors.


<![CDATA[Cuba Reiterates Long-Standing Support For Syrian Sovereignty]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 04:25:00 -0400 Cuba supports Syria's people and government in its war against terrorist organizations, and calls for respect for Syrian sovereignty, Deputy Foreign Minister of Cuba, Anna Teressa said according to Syrian media sources.

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Teressa called for all nations to “respect the Syrian people's right to determine their future away from foreign dictates,” Syrian news agency, SANA reported.

She also reiterated Cuba's support for Syria in its fight against terrorism.

“All await the day when the Syrian army declares full elimination of terrorist organizations and mercenaries being sent to fight in Syria,” she said, adding that she hoped victory would be close for the Syrian Arab Army and its allies.

The remarks came in a meeting between Teressa and the Syrian Ambassador to Cuba, Idris Mayya.

Mayya filled the Cuban minister in on recent developments in the ongoing Syrian conflict, including the victories in breaking the Islamic State group seige over the city of Deir -ez Zor, as well as the efforts toward restoring stability and stability so that displaced families can continue returning.

Syria and Cuba celebrated 53 years of diplomatic relations last month, during which Syria's consistent support for Cuba against the United States imposed blockade was celebrated, as was Cuba's support for Syria against foreign intervention and terror threats.

Syria's Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Fayssal Mikdad, recognized in a statement last month Cuba's contribution and support to developing countries and liberation movements around the world.

<![CDATA[Trump's 'Ignorant' UN Speech is 'Unworthy of a Reply': Iran]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 02:58:00 -0400 U.S. President Donald Trump's host of accusations levied against Iran in his United Nations General Assembly speech on Tuesday was slammed by the Islamic Republic, who called the remarks “unworthy of a reply.”

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"Trump's ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times – not the 21st century United Nations – unworthy of a reply,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Tuesday.

“Fake empathy for Iranians fools no one,” Zarif said.

Amidst threatening rhetoric and accusations singling out North Korea (DPRK), and Venezuela, Trump made the claim that Iran is a “corrupt dictatorship hiding behind the guise of a democracy.”

Trump said that Iran, who has played a key role in supporting the Syrian government against the attacks of the Islamic State and other terror groups, have been “supporting terrorism.”

“Trump’s shameless and ignorant remarks, in which he ignored Iran’s fight against terrorism, displays his lack of knowledge and unawareness,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

Trump slammed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which he called the “worst deal the United States has ever entered into,” and said that Iran needed to stop its supposed “pursuit of death and destruction.”

"The exiting of the United States from such an agreement would carry a high cost, meaning that subsequent to such an action by the United States of America, no one will trust America again,” President Rouhani said in an interview with NBC before Trump's address to the United Nations General Assembly.

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Rouhani said that should the United States pull out of the nuclear agreement, Iran would consider going “back to previous activities,” to develop peaceful nuclear technology for energy production.

"So we will never go towards production of nuclear weapons, just as in the past we never intended to go towards that path nor did we ever. It has always been peaceful," Rouhani affirmed.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said to reporters later that the only way the Iran nuclear deal would remain in place is if there were changes made to it. Iran has repeatedly rejected the idea that the deal could be renegotiated.

The Iranian nuclear deal, signed in 2015 between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the permanent member of the U.N. Security Council along with the European Union, resulted in Iran giving up nuclear power development in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Although it has been widely praised by the international community, the Trump administration has called for its destruction in order to take a “harder line” on Iran.

<![CDATA[People in Central Mexico Face Earthquake's Grim Aftermath]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 23:34:00 -0400 The people of Mexico City and its surrounding regions continue to reel from the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the state of Puebla as the complete scale of the disaster is yet to be revealed.

Ongoing Earthquake Coverage

Arriving less than two weeks after a magnitude-8.1 temblor struck off the shore of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the quake caused apartment blocks, industrial buildings and highways to crumble, trapping countless people in the wreckage.

The quake was felt across central Mexico, from the capital's central Zocalo — where the flag was still flying half-staff in commemoration of the 98 killed by the September 7 earthquake — to cities and towns across neighboring states.

High-school student Gaby Palacios told teleSUR that she was standing at the entrance to her school in the city of Cuautla, Morelos — a mere 65 kilometers from the epicenter near the Puebla state town of Raboso — when the earthquake struck.

She said that she was frozen by shock then ran with a friend into the center of the street, where they hugged each other. The neighborhoods surrounding her school and home, where she lives with her mother, were hit hard.

“There was a lot of damage,” Palacios said. “Walls, houses and some parts of old buildings such as churches and museums collapsed.”

As she returned to her neighborhood, she noticed dozens of injured people being treated by ambulances and emergency personnel. When she finally arrived home, her mother cried in relief.

Cuautla, along with dozens of cities and towns across the region, is now suffering from widespread power outages, with phone signals also down. Palacios and her mother remain indoors, huddled around candle-light as an eerie silence blankets her community.

Social Media Shares Mexico's Earthquake Tragedy

Classes have been suspended across several states in central Mexico.

Mexico City, a sprawling megalopolis, is the most populous urban center in the world. It also sits in a highly earthquake-prone area that lies alongside the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. Built atop the ruins of the ancient Aztec capital Tenochtitlan and the bed of the long-drained Lake Texcoco, the ground beneath structures quivers violently in seismic events, amplifying the force of earthquakes by 100 times or more, according to seismologists.

The quake came on the precise anniversary of the 1985 temblor that devastated the city and killed over 5,000 people. Since then, Mexico City has ostensibly pursued development focusing on gentrification and erecting earthquake-resistant structures. Nonetheless, the city was blindsided by Tuesday's quake, which even managed to evade the country's famous alert system.

Thousands of state security and Civil Protection personnel have now been mobilized to deal with the recovery.

Citizens, too, are following the examples set in 1985 and earlier this month in Oaxaca. Donning hardhats and bicycle helmets and equipping themselves with wheelbarrows or shopping carts, Mexicans across the region are joining or forming brigades to address the widespread devastation. At the Ciudad Universitaria campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM, thousands of students gathered at tents established to recruit able-bodied volunteers to help with the recovery efforts.

In the Greater Mexico City area's periphery and its poorer sections, millions are expected to spend the night sleeping in dark streets, surrounded by destroyed buildings, anxious and terrified by the possibility of aftershocks.

As the death toll continues to climb, authorities and the people are now faced with the possibility that this will be a humanitarian disaster on an unprecedented scale.

<![CDATA[Bolivia's President Condemns Terrorism and Capitalism in UN Address]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:52:00 -0400 Bolivia's President Evo Morales has condemned terrorism, abusive market practices and wars in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya as well as the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

In his address to the 72nd U.N. General Assembly in New York, Morales sent his solidarity to the people of Mexico following the 7.1 earthquake.

He also expressed his solidarity with the Caribbean nations suffering the scourges of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The Bolivian leader attributed recent earthquakes and hurricanes to climate change, which is a consequence, in turn, of the capitalist model and excessive industrialization.

"Hurricanes, earthquakes, pollution, extinction of species, droughts, all this is a product of the capitalist model and industrialization," he said.

Morales also criticized the attitude of the United States government to the Paris Climate Agreement and called its decision to withdraw, unjustifiable.

He said as one of the main polluters, the U.S. refuses to join the global effort and its government has become a threat to Mother Earth.

He slammed the double standards of the U.S. President Donald Trump in his speech and the measures taken by the United States against migration and the construction of U.S. Mexican border wall.


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"Bolivia condemns the construction of walls and the laws that criminalize migration, for which we propose Universal Citizenship. Some governments instead of contributing to the solution of the structural causes that cause this phenomenon announce greater restrictions."

Morales also denounced the new U.S. sanctions against Cuba and urged Washington to compensate Havana for the damage caused by the economic blockade.

Returning to the environmental theme, he emphasized the importance of water as an element which unifies the planet and called for reflection on the inequality in the world.

Finally, President Morales condemned the development, manufacture and use of nuclear and chemical weapons, calling for restraint from any military intervention on the Korean peninsula and the resumption of negotiations to resolve the conflict in a peaceful way.

<![CDATA[Time for Pakistan to Learn the Lesson of Dignity and Sovereignty]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 18:43:00 -0400 In a recent speech on Afghan policy, President Trump accused Pakistan of not doing enough in Afghanistan and demanded the country "do more" or face the consequences.

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Pakistan was defensive. They argued that they have already sacrificed thousands of lives and should be acknowledged for their loss in the war. It would seem the United States is worried about the loss of trillions of dollars and thousands of lives of its soldiers in Afghanistan and wants to blame Pakistan for its failure.

But there are two other reasons why the United States has become aggressive.

Firstly, Pakistan is an important partner in China’s One-Belt and One Road project — considered the Marshall Plan for Asia. One of the most important corridors of that project is located in Pakistan. This project will not only benefit China but also Pakistan.

Secondly, there is concern about Pakistan’s nuclear and missile capability — a point Trump mentioned multiple times in his speech.

These two projects have concerned Western allies, but are key to Pakistan’s prosperity.

So, what will Pakistan do now? Will it bow down or stand up to the United States?

There's no doubt that Pakistan and U.S. have had a troubled relationship.

In the early 50’s, the newly-formed Pakistan followed the example of other British colonies and jumped into the lap of the United States. But the U.S. did not respond in kind.

Although Pakistan was a Western ally in the Cold War, it was barred from receiving U.S. military aid — an issue which did not sit well with Pakistan’s M. Ali’s government.

But the most important moment came when Pakistan went to war with India in 1965.

It was the first real test of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

During this time, the U.S. again stopped Pakistan’s military aid. The move left Pakistan in shock. It may have been the first time Pakistan felt so betrayed. Then foreign minister of Pakistan, Mr. Bhutto, lashed out at U.S. officials, using explicit language to criticize the decision.

The third historical moment happened in the 70’s when the country split into two.

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During that time, their relationship deteriorated. At one stage, then Prime Minister Mr. Bhutto was reportedly threatened by the U.S. which said it would make Pakistan a “horrible example” for the world.

Bhutto's execution as part of the U.S.' beleaguered interventionist policy did not improve the relationship. And so the mistrust continued.

The fourth turning point in Pakistan’s history came in 1980’s when the U.S. waged war against USSR and declared Pakistan a "criminal partner."

Although their relationship tentatively improved, it was still based on mutual distrust. The then head of the state, Zia-Ul-Haq (considered a U.S. puppet), was also once heard saying, “the United States never stood by its allies when the chips were down.”

After 90’s, the issue of Pakistan's nuclear capability continued to strain the relationship.

This was not helped by the deal to acquire F-16 aircrafts. According to the CIA, this was a "yardstick" to measure the relationship between the two countries.

Pakistan was unable to acquire the technology. Talks to receive the aircraft are now on the way with India. This could kill the last hopes of normalising relations between the two countries.

Famous scholar Hilali sums up Pakistan-United States relationship as: opportunistic — with Pakistan losing out.

He says: “The United States ... took advantage of Pakistan’s desperate need for military and economic assistance.” He further argues that, “Because Pakistan was the weaker partner in the relationship, its interests were sacrificed.”

But while Pakistan endures threats and mistrust from the United States, countries like Syria and North Korea are demonstrating the importance of defiance, dignity and sovereignty.

Pakistan may be tempted to leave its unequal relationship with the United States and join the alternative club with Russia and China.

Umar Bin Amin has double master’s degrees in Economics and International Development. Umar is a freelance journalist, social researcher and social justice activist in Australia. You can contact Umar at

<![CDATA[Trump Threatens Further Action Against Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Iran at UN]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:51:00 -0400 The U.S. President Donald Trump has lashed out at Venezuela, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in his speech at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Venezuela's UN Ambassador Hits Out at US Double Standards

Trump said "the socialist dictatorship" of President Nicolas Maduro had destroyed a once wealthy country, as every socialist or communist regime had always done. He said the United States has already taken significant action against the Venezuelan government, and that it was "prepared to take further action" if the government continues to impose its will on the Venezuelan people.

Trump thanked those Latin American countries that have supported U.S. measures against Venezuela.

In another attack, the U.S. president called Iran a "rogue state" and repeated his threat to pull out of the international nuclear deal with Iran.

But Trump's strongest words were directed at the DPRK. Referring to the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, he said, "Rocketman is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime." He promised to "totally destroy North Korea" if it continued to threaten the United States or its allies.

Global leaders have converged on New York City for the 72nd U.N. General Assembly, with the first session opened with a speech by U.N. General-Secretary Antonio Guterres, followed by the President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak.

The Brazilian president Michel Temer also criticized Venezuela, saying that human rights in the country are "deteriorating," even though Temer himself was never elected to the presidency and both he and many in his government are facing a raft of corruption charges.

“In South America, there is no longer room for alternatives to democracy. This is what we have stated in Mercosur, and this is what we will continue to uphold,” Temer said, whose approval rating sank to 3.4 percent according to the latest MDA Institute poll. Commissioned by the National Confederation of Shipments, the survey interviewed over two thousand people between Sept. 13 and 16 in five different regions of the country.

Other leaders scheduled to speak include: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos; Plurinational State of Bolivia President Evo Morales; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari just to name a few.

A total of 15 minutes are allotted for each leader to deliver their speech. However, the time slot is only a loose guideline, which has been exceeded on numerous occasions. Counting over 193 leaders, speeches will run until Sept. 29.

<![CDATA[Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro Rejects Trump's Threats at UN]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:27:00 -0400 The Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has rejected statements by his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump during his address to the United Nations General Assembly.


Trump Threatens Further Action Against Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Iran at UN

"Venezuela is a building in New York, which can blackmail the owners of the building for sale, but Venezuela is not United States real estate," Maduro said, adding: "The people of the United States are with the Venezuelan people."

He also said that his nation is ready to send medical aid along with relief workers to the island of Dominica after it was hit by Hurricane Maria.

Maduro then assured Mexico that Venezuela is preparing to provide the necessary assistance in the aftermath of its 7.1 earthquake, adding that countries must be united in times of difficulties.

He said, "Climate change provokes the hurricane season, three hurricanes in the Caribbean, for the first time in history. Fidel Castro said if the world didn't change there was one species in danger of extinction" (ie. the human species)."

Maduro emphasized that climate change is more important "than any puff of hatred and war that has launched Trump at the U.N."

The President spoke about Venezuela's relations with countries like China, which he described as the first world power, "China does not seek a relationship of subordination," said Maduro who called for resistance to defend the sovereignty of the South American country and the peoples of Latin America.


The Venezuelan president then invited the US president to discuss socialism in the 21st century.

<![CDATA[Opioid Deaths Stall Life Expectancy in the U.S.]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 15:44:00 -0400 A study led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found opioid usage has been taking 2.5 months off life expectancy in the U.S. from 2000 and 2015.

More Bases, Military Exercises: The (Para)Military Option Against Venezuela in Action

The findings were published in the Journal of American Medical Association.

While the overall average life expectancy increased from 76.8 to 78.8 witin that time, the life expectancy in the U.S. halted in 2014 due primarily due to opioid deaths among white and non-Hispanics.

Researchers say opioid deaths increased from just over 8,400 deaths in 2000 to just over 33,000 in 2015, while death rates from nepsis, heart disease, influenza, stroke, and diabetes are down.

They gathered this information by studying the death certificates in each state over the past 15 years. Yet the AFP reports that autopsies and death reports are faulty and there could be even more underreported opioid deaths.

<![CDATA[US Inaugurates Its First Military Base in Israel]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 15:37:00 -0400 The first U.S. military base in Israel has been officially inaugurated. It's located within the confines of the Aerial Defense Division in the south of the country.

Trump Threatens Further Action Against Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Iran at UN

A few dozen U.S. soldiers will live and work on the base, situated inside the school of the of the Israeli Air Force, in the Negev.

“The base is here to stay. It involved a significant allocation of resources, in the understanding that this was right and necessary and part of the United States’ assets in Israel,” said the commander of the division, Zvi Haimovich, speaking to Haaretz.

While commenting that the base is a reflection the close military ties shared between the two nations, Haimovich refused to disclose what type of activities the U.S. soldiers will undertake.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump referred to Iran as a "rogue state" and repeated his threat to pull out of the international nuclear deal with Tehran during his speech at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

The move, according to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, will certainly send a message to Iran and other Muslim-majority nations in the region that the United States deems hostile towards its policies.

The new base adds to the U.S. garrison of the world, which accounts for some 800 military bases on soil other than its own. It comes only a day after the U.S. Senate all but unanimously approved a ginormous $700-billion military bill. The amount exceeds U.S. President Donald Trump's initial budget request by $97 billion and eclipses a $549 billion military spending cap established by the 2011 Budget Control Act, according to PressTV.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute also details that the United States has a higher military expenditure than the next 8 countries combined.

<![CDATA[Death Toll Rises to 225 After 7.1 Earthquake Hits Mexico]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 15:02:00 -0400 A 7.1-magnitude earthquake has hit central Mexico, killing at least 225 people and toppling dozens of buildings, officials said.

Mexico Quake: Images Show Panic and Destruction

In Mexico City, there are 94 people reported dead, 71 in Morelos south of Mexico City, 43 in Puebla where the epicenter of the quake struck, as well as 12 in the state of Mexico, 4 in Guerrero and 1 in Oaxaca, according to Luis Felipe Puente, Coordinator of Civil Protection of the Interior Ministry.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said 44 buildings were severely damaged or destroyed. Several major gas leaks and fires have also occurred. In the state of Puebla, the governor told Aristegui Noticias, many were killed in a collapsed church.

Mexican President Peña Nieto gave his first televised address following the quake, in which he delivered a call for unity, and detailed the government's ongoing rescue efforts.

The priority, he said, “is to continue with the rescue of those who are trapped and to bring medical attention to the injured.”

He continued to say that approximately 40 percent of the residents of Mexico City do not have electricity, and at least 60 percent in Morelos don't have it either.

Nieto said that he had called for a National Emergency Committee to evaluate the situation, adding that 22 people have died at a school which collapsed and 30 children and eight adults are still unaccounted for.

The country's public education secretary, Aurelio Nuño, confirmed four deaths and 40 injuries at the Tecnológico de Monterrey university.

According to the National Seismological Service, the 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit 5 miles southeast of Atencingo in the central state of Puebla at a depth of 32 miles.

"Authorities report to date 45 dead and various toppled buildings"

"Solidarity in Jojutla Morelos"

"We have detected damage to 20 or more buildings ... we have reports of people trapped. We can't rule out the loss of life," Miguel Angel Mancera, mayor of Mexico City, told ForoTV.

Power was cut to 3.8 million customers, the national electricity company CFE said. Officials warn the lack of power could complicate rescue efforts.

Residents have been warned to turn off the gas, avoid using lighters and switch off the power. Shelters have been offered to house people who have lost their homes. Social organizations are asking for food donations to help those stranded by the quake.

"It is important for people not to return home to pick up their things because there could be more aftershocks," Mancera said.

Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong has advised people to leave buildings located in the areas hardest hit by the earthquake.

"We urge people to leave their buildings, according to the directions of the civil protection."

Free public transport has been offered to help people unite with their families and reach safe areas. Google has activated a service to help people locate one another and to identify the zones worst hit by the earthquake.

Highways have been closed due to the severe damage. The airport of Mexico City resumed operations after briefly suspending all activities to assess damages to infrastructure.

The earthquake also caused panic in hospitals in the capital. Patients are being evacuated from the hospitals affected by the quake. Private and public hospitals are offering free emergency medical attention.

School and university classes have been canceled in Puebla, Mexico City, Guerrero and Veracruz. The Mexican football league has suspended upcoming matches. Cultural events have also been canceled across the city.

: Social Media Shares Mexico's Earthquake Tragedy

People across Mexico have come together to help in the aftermath. There are reports of people arriving on motorbikes and bicycles to help with the rescue efforts. Messages of solidarity have also flooded social media.

Patricia Leal in Mexico City told Aristegui Noticias that people were opening their homes to strangers, offering one another access to Wi-Fi networks and loaning their cell phones so that people could communicate with their loved ones.

The Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, said: "Mexico can depend on Venezuela in this moment of difficulties and tragedies ... this is what solidarity is for, this is why we must be united."

Lenin Moreno, the president of Ecuador, said in a message on Twitter: "All our solidarity with the Mexican people and the president."

After being criticized for not offering support to Mexico after the earlier 8.1-earthquake, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter: "God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you." The city and its surrounding area are home to about 20 million people.

The quake hit only hours after many people participated in earthquake drills on the anniversary of the devastating quake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985.

The disaster comes just days after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake left 98 people dead and thousands more injured and displaced in the southwestern state of Oaxaca, and the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico that killed thousands and hit Michoacan with an 8.1 magnitude. 

Photo: Alejandro Cruz Padilla
<![CDATA[Trump Promotes Terrorism and Destruction: Venezuela Foreign Minister]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 14:15:00 -0400 Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has told reporters outside the U.N. General Assembly that President Donald Trump’s comments promote terrorism and destruction rather than peace.

Trump Threatens Further Action Against Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Iran at UN

In response to Trump’s comments that the U.S. will “take new actions” against Venezuela in order to force its government to change, Arreaza said that the threats were illegal, “disrespect the U.N., Venezuela, and the international community.” He added that the U.S. government is violating international law by trying to enforce its way of governing on Venezuela and Cuba saying the Trump is promoting a “return to the Cold War.”

He told reporters that while Venezuela has been working for 18 years to build the Bolivian Revolution led by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, Trump has been growing his fortune. Arreaza reminded Trump he should govern the U.S., not the rest of the world, and that he can’t “touch the democracy, independence and sovereignty” of any foreign country.

This comes a day after Trump and the presidents from Colombia, Panama, Brazil, and Argentina convened to discuss how to “restore democracy” in Venezuela. Yesterday Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, emphasized that no countries in Latin America would support military intervention in Venezuela, but only diplomatic solutions.

<![CDATA[Facebook Blocks Cuba's Mariela Castro After Post Urging Hurricane Aid]]> Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:46:00 -0400 Facebook blocked the profile of Mariela Castro, director of the Cuban National Center for Sexual Education and daughter of President Raul Castro after she published information of a bank account created to receive aid after the destruction of Hurricane Irma in Cuba.

How the US Blockade Against Cuba Takes a Toll on Health, Not Just Politics

Mariela Castro said her post and her account were blocked after she posted the number of the bank account used to receive aid. "An urgent announcement," she wrote on her Twitter account, linking to a report of the said measures by Facebook.

Castro also questioned if the network would block "all the Cuban press" that spread the bank account information, denouncing that the social network had blocked her account due to "community guidelines."

Facebook later apologized for the action, claiming that an employee had eliminated her account in error. "We apologize for this error. We have recovered all the content and it should already be available."

After opening the account, authorities stated that those interested in making contributions should contact the Cuban embassies abroad or the foreign ministry.

Tillerson Says Closing Cuban Embassy 'Under Review'

In response to the block, Cenesex said it was a "siege of individuals who in the end — under the mantle of cowardly personal attacks — are only intended to discourage endless expressions of affection and solidarity, as well as to hinder the many initiatives of solidarity that Cuba receives from the various ends of the world."

Hurricane Irma reached Cuba between Sept. 8 and 10, killing ten people, as well as causing material damage, landslides, damage to agriculture and the electric system in the island.

The hurricane, which rocked the island nation’s northern coast, left vast areas without power for days.

Despite internal devastation, Cuba has dispatched 771 physicians to several Caribbean islands in the wake of the tropical storm's destruction.