Saturday, June 11, 2011

American Banks 'High' On Drug Money: How a Whistleblower Blew the Lid Off Wachovia-Drug Cartel Money Laundering Scheme

A fraud investigator helped expose the shocking world of multi-billion dollar drug laundering by American banks and the surprising lack of oversight by the Feds.
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TAKE|Get Widget|Start an Online Petition � Martin Woods, an Englishman in his mid-40s, is blessed with a Sherlock Holmes instinct and demeanor. Woods is an expert at sniffing out "dirty" money passing through International Banking Systems.

A police officer for 18 years and later a detective with London Metro Police Agency, Woods capitalized on his unique expertise as a fraud expert by joining Wachovia's London-based Bank in March 2005 as an anti-money laundering officer.

It wasn't long after taking the job that he discovered that his own employer, one of America's leading banks, was a major player in aiding the "bloodthirsty" Mexico drug cartels to launder billions of dollars in drug money through Wachovia banks. Woods traced and identified a "number of suspicious transactions" related to Mexico-based Casa de Cambios (CDC).

Casa de Cambios are currency-exchange operations set up along the U.S. Mexico-border to assist cross border transfers of money to remit labor paychecks. And on the illegal side the Casa de Cambios are also known as the superhighway for narcotic proceeds into the U.S. and overseas financial markets.

When Woods zeroed in on deposited traveler's checks with sequential numbers sent by the CDC he discovered that large amounts of funds were exceedingly more than a typical person would need. The questionable CDC checks either lacked adequate identifying information or had none at all, including no legible signatures affixed on the funds.

Following this discovery investigator Woods issued a "suspicious activity report" (SAR) on a series of the CDCs' financial transfers and deposits. Then he requested the CDC checks to be temporarily blocked from transaction pending further investigation.

Not long after, an exchange of heated words occurred. A senior Miami-based manager called Woods' SAR reports "defensive and unwarranted."

Feeling jaded, Woods, as he recalls, "came under fire from the bank staff to change tactics and develop a better understanding of Mexico."

Wachovia officials ordered Woods to cease inquiries about Mexican CDCs and to also stop blocking other Eastern Europe and Moscow accounts. The British investigator, snapped, "I don't need to read up on Mexico. My interest are drug trafficking and money laundering."

His instincts proved correct. On April 10, 2006, during early morning hours, a DC-9 airplane landed onto the tarmac at the International Airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, located east of Mexico City. Once the engine turned off, military soldiers trained by U.S. FBI agents immediately grew suspicious and surrounded the aircraft. Armed with high-powered weapons, the soldiers searched the luxury plane and discovered five-plus tons of pure cocaine packed in suitcases.

The cocaine was valued at $120 million, and the Feds working with Mexico later determined the drugs were headed for the United States from Venezuela. A stash of paperwork found on the plane eventually identified discreet connections between an American bank and Mexico-based currency operation Casa de Cambios Puebla. A subsequent investigation would prove that Wachovia Bank washed billions of illegal drug money into the U.S. financial system on behalf of the Mexico-based Casa Cambios.

With U.S. Federal law enforcement backing him up, Martin Woods investigation assisted the Feds to build an airtight case against Wachovia. Starting off, the Feds discovered that $13 billion dollars in drug money was transferred by the CDC into correspondent bank accounts at Wachovia to purchase airplanes for the use of trafficking drugs from Colombia to Mexico and then the drugs were shipped to the U.S.

This high-profile investigation ultimately revealed that from 2004-2007, a staggering amount of illegal drug proceeds totaling $378.4 billion dollars were transferred into Wachovia by the Mexico-based Casa Cambios that violated U.S. government anti-money laundering compliance.


Friday, June 10, 2011

5 WikiLeaks Hits of 2011 That Are Turning the World on Its Head -- And That the Media Are Ignoring

Is 2011 capable of exceeding 2010's revelations? And what discoveries in 2011 has WikiLeaks unearthed thus far?
June 7, 2011 |

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Between Collateral Murder, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, and Cablegate, it appeared as though 2010 would go down in history as the most shocking year in WikiLeaks revelations. Americans discovered that trigger-happy soldiers who have been trained to kill are likely to shoot innocent

civilians, including journalists and children. They learned that the US military handed over detainees they knew would be tortured to the Iraqis, and as a matter of policy, failed to investigate the hundreds of reported torture and abuse by Iraqi police and military. The Afghanistan logs showed many more civilians killed than previously known, along with once-secret US assassination missions against insurgents. And Cablegate shed light on a US foreign policy that values self-interest over democracy and human rights at all costs, perpetuating anti-American sentiment in the process.

Is 2011 capable of exceeding 2010's revelations? And what discoveries in 2011 has WikiLeaks unearthed thus far?

1) The Arab Spring: Information is power. In January of this year, the north African country of Tunisia captured the world's attention, as a relentless and inspiring democratic uprising managed to overthrow the autocratic President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in just a matter of weeks. Protests were initially sparked by food price inflation and staggering unemployment, as demonstrated by the self-immolation of a disillusioned young man named Mohamed Bouazizi.

But we should never underestimate the power of information when it comes to stirring things up. The role of the WikiLeaks Embassy cables, which revealed the US government's view of the president and his ruling circle as deeply corrupt, cannot be overlooked.

Of course, Tunisians were well aware of their government’s corruption long before Cablegate. However, the Tunisian government felt threatened enough by the leaks to block access to the Lebanese news Web site Al-Akhbar after it published U.S. cables depicting Ben Ali and his government in an unflattering light. They went on to block not just WikiLeaks, but any news source publishing or referencing leaked cables that originated or referenced Tunisia. Their repressive reaction to the leaks pushed protesters over the brink, as it epitomized the country's utter lack of freedom of expression.

And if there's anything the hacktivists at Anonymous hate, it's censorship, which is why they retaliated by shutting down key Web sites of the Tunisian government, an effort they dubbed "OpTunisia."

The Tunisians were the first people in the Arab world to take to the streets and oust a leader for a generation. There is no denying that WikiLeaks acted as a catalyst in that effort, supplying more fuel to a fire that eventually toppled a regime. This helped inspire the revolt in Egypt and beyond, as uprisings against brutally repressive regimes extended to Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and Libya. As the protests spread, WikiLeaks cleverly released key cables revealing government abuse and corruption in those nations, which intensified the protesters' demand for democracy.

Amnesty International recently drew a link between the protests in the Arab world and the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic documents. In fact, the United Nations recently declared Internet access a basic human right in a report that cites WikiLeaks and the Arab Spring as driving factors.

2) The 'worst of the worst' included children, the elderly, the mentally ill, and journalists. In April of this year, WikiLeaks released the Guantanamo Files, which included classified documents on more than 700 past and present Guantanamo detainees. These files paint a stunning picture of an oppressive detention system riddled with incoherence and cruelty at every stage.



More Africans learn by mobile phone

The eLearning Africa 2011 conference highlighted the worldwide phenomenon of distance learning by mobile phone. There are more than 500 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa now, up from 246 million in 2008, according to industry estimates.

By Ludger Kasumuni in Dar es Salaam

Presenting his paper on “New Technologies in Restricted Environment”, Gerald Henzinger, a lecturer at the Catholic University of Mozambique, said students are rushing to use mobile phone learning.

“The only challenge is that logistics do not match the exponential growth of students’ demand.“

A sustainable project in teacher training that began in 2003 is supported by student fees for distance learning.

“Mobile learning at our Distance Learning Center (CED) focuses on SMS. Our students often are school teachers in very remote areas who have restricted or no access to electricity and the Internet. We use bulk SMS – short messages that can be sent to many students at the same time – as well as interactive SMS services. These help students communicate with our staff about the subject matter or on administrative issues.”

Dr Niall Winters of the London Knowledge Laboratory said the development of mobile phone learning in Africa is being encouraged by a huge demand for distance education.
Digital storytelling

Arndt Bubenzer and Dennis Joseph Mazali presented the lessons learnt from iCall, interactive storytelling delivered via mobile phone. In terms of scale, it was noted that users in the differing fields of formal education, community affairs and work-based learning required different approaches.

Working in community affairs meant designing a system for users of low-level phones. Such solutions were determined to scale relatively easily. Replication however, would require system design and implementation skills. The development of user-generated story content on behavioural change was highlighted as a means of making stories relevant to listeners.

Studying mathematics

Riitta Vänskä, senior manager of Mobile and Learning Solutions in sustainability operations at Nokia said students and teachers have used text messages and social media to exchange hints on topics and lessons, using Wikipedia and blogs.

Presenting her paper on “Nokia’s Investment in Education for All: Mobile Learning Solutions for Formal and Informal Learning”, she said, “Children in South Africa are addicted to studying mathematics through mobile phones’, describing it as “cheap, efficient and very exciting“.

“Children study mathematics very effectively through the use of mobile phones. They really compete each other. There are hints for every subject and topic“.

Students often have to share a mobile phone, so to improve supply, Nokia donated ten extra phones to each school. Using their own phones to send text messages and exchange ideas at low cost the young students had taken advantage of the low cost in South Africa of sending messages, only around 20 Rand a year.

“We hope that in the future all children will have equal access to education through mobile phone learning, Nokia has played a significant role in spreading mobile learning in Africa. We are collaborating with Pearson Foundation as content partner. Mobile phone learning is a really valuable investment.”
Promoting equity and equality

Vinod Ganjoo of U.S. based Harbinger Knowledge Products said mobile technologies are delivering equity and quality in the provision of education to young people.

He said mobile technologies have improved education opportunities for the poor communities, through blended learning and rapid interactivity.

“These new technologies have provided flexible and cheap learning channels for many students in classrooms and outside classrooms.“

According to industry estimates, there are more than 500 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa now, up from 246 million in 2008 (see the latest report by Mobile Monday).

Who needs a bank? Printer-friendly versionSend to friendPDF versionFacebookTwitter Peter Johnson, 9 June 2011

Should we make banks better, or just make them redundant? Peer-to-peer currency schemes like offer the possibility of networked money without banks. Should democrats embrace the possibilities?

A lot of people are busy trying to figure out how to make banks better. There is anger about what has gone on and puzzlement about the apparent inability of anyone to start doing something about it. Instead of rioting for change, we seem to be frozen in a technical discussion of bank separation, capital adequacy, product authorisation, remuneration and incentives, or taxation. All worthwhile subjects in their way, but guaranteed to keep the sans-culottes at home.

So let’s ask another question. Why do we need banks – what are they for?

This is less about what banks get up to, than about money. How should we think about the institutions that deal with our and other people’s money? What does it mean for you or me to have money?

Loosely speaking, banks make money. Banks are not the only entities that do this, but they are the ones whose purpose it is to do this. By creating credit they expand the ‘money supply’ to meet demand. And by taking and charging interest and fees, they pay themselves too, often very nicely. More strictly, however, banks don’t produce money: they only replicate money that already exists. Sometimes they annihilate it. They expand and contract the monetary balloon, but they don’t make the air that fills it. That is the function of central banks, those public bodies that provide banks with the materials and props for their financial conjuring tricks, encourage them to be careful with the knives, and then mop up the mess when things go wrong and the lady is sawn in half.

The conventional view is that money is (1) a unit of account, (2) a medium of exchange, and (3) a store of value. These are said to be the necessary features of anything that serves as money. Further reflection should make it clear that these are characteristics of what is already money, and reflect its ‘money-ness’. They aren’t and can’t be built in to a design because – to put it very simply – the characteristics of money arise from its acceptance as money by persons. Money is not created by either commercial or central banks. Money is what money does.

The other thing that banks (but again, not only banks) do, is to record and execute monetary transactions. In return for transaction fees, they hold and manipulate the data relating to people’s accounts with them. We are all either debtors or creditors of banks and we need to have accounts at banks because the trust system that banks represent is the required medium for nearly all financial transactions. When I transfer a sum of money to you, I simply instruct my bank to initiate a sequence of entries in its books and those of your bank.

In 1976 F.A. Hayek published a short book called Denationalisation of Money. It can be downloaded free from the link. Hayek conceived the essay as a response to the endemic debasement of currency by states addicted to inflation. He argued that legal tender laws should be abolished and that private institutions should be allowed to issue currencies in their own name.

With sufficient public information these independent currency-issuing banks could be held financially accountable for the prudence with which they manage the quantity of currency circulating in their name. They would have the strongest possible incentive to keep the amount of credit they create within sensible bounds. If they did not, they risked an early and devastating run on the bank. Gresham’s Law (not really his: the effect was known in ancient Greece) would be reversed, since no state would be in a position to cause money to be accepted at anything other than its underlying value.

Hayek understood that technology existed or would soon exist to price and complete even small everyday transactions real-time in several currencies at once and he expected that data on bank capital and money issuance could be gathered and disseminated without trouble.

But back in 1976 there was no alternative technical model of how monetary transactions might be carried out, and so whilst Hayek foresaw a world without central banks, it was impossible to conceive of one without banks. Nevertheless, it’s an elegant and in some ways compelling idea that addresses the problem of monetary discipline where states or central banks may be unwilling or unable to exercise control and private credit creators have every incentive to issue as much of this publicly guaranteed money as they can.

Precisely because of the opportunity legal tender offers to commercial banks to extract profits with negligible risk, Hayek’s proposal was not going to be popular there. Nor did it gain political traction in a Europe slowly moving to amalgamate national currencies in the Euro. The sound-money argument for the Euro and ECB was that only a politically embedded technocratic international institution could be trusted to manage the currency properly over the long term – a belief that the record of the German Bundesbank, in many respects the archetype for the ECB, suggested was realistic. Hayek would have argued for exactly the opposite: to abolish the national central banks and to allow economic agents in areas not defined by administrative boundaries to adopt the independent currency or currencies that suited their needs at the time.

Without going further into the details of the argument, the instructive point here is the attempt to think through what it would mean to take the ownership of currency away from sovereign states. As it turns out, the real problem may now be that currencies are no longer owned by sovereign states with at least some residue of democratic accountability, but by a financial sector of a size inconceivable in the 1970s that is intent on removing all traces of democratic accountability, and aims to coerce states to honour public debt burdens that can never be repaid without entirely impoverishing the general public. The implacable calls for Greece, Portugal and Ireland to cut spending and reduce wages in order to increase wealth, and the horror aroused by mention of debt rescheduling or reduction suggest that the citizens of these countries are indeed doomed to be the sharecroppers of today.

This view is trenchantly argued by Professor Michael Hudson of the University of Missouri, Kansas City. It is a long and fascinating read.

Which brings us to Bitcoin. Launched a couple of years ago and still in its infancy, it calls itself a peer-to-peer virtual currency. This means that instead of a bank, the collective network of users maintains a complete encrypted record of bitcoin (“BTC”) transactions and how many BTC each user has. Payments involve a public-private key exchange so that only valid identities can participate and each BTC can only be transmitted once. Because both parties have the complete data set, no external trust system is required. It’s a mechanism that removes the need for us to transact through banks.

At a macro level, the total number of BTCs in issue will approach a known fixed limit at a geometrically reducing rate (as in Zeno’s paradox, never quite reaching it) and expansion of the money supply takes place through the collective computation of the network. The advantages are claimed to be resilience, safety, absence of transaction costs, decentralisation, international acceptance, and no debasement. Because no physical currency is involved, arbitrarily small decimal units of BTC are possible. If convenient, BTC units could be subdivided or consolidated merely by a network-agreed software change. The monetary authority is therefore the network of users and their machines, which once it has reached a reasonable size becomes hard for even a super-computer user to dominate.

Even if we no longer need banks to store and handle our money, the BTC system, like any other currency, allows credit creation through fractional reserve banking. The BTC money supply could therefore exceed the number of BTCs in issue. However, without a BTC central bank, the imprudent lender may well go bust. It will be interesting to see how regulators deal with mainstream banks that acquire significant assets and liabilities in BTC. They might outlaw the BTC operations of regulated entities, but could they really close down an unregulated global user network?

It remains to be seen whether this is an advance of democratic self-determination. At this stage I would be optimistic, especially if Bitcoin’s proof-of-concept encourages others to develop distinct, communicating architectures that would create not just a digital currency but a digital currency exchange. There are some fascinating possibilities here:


We may soon not need banks to carry out monetary transactions or keep our money. The benefit in terms of near-zero transaction costs, nearly immediate confirmation of payment (are you still waiting 4 days for your cheque?), reduced credit risk, security and resilience would be immense.

Credit creation becomes an activity not linked to the transaction-handling franchise. It is also no longer underwritten by taxpayers. Inflationary behaviour requires public consent – not the taxpayer or voter public but the public that uses the particular currency.

Because all transactions are peer-to-peer, people can switch their currency holdings at will and costlessly. How much people trade, if at all, depends only their beliefs about the riskiness of the currencies on offer.

If peer-to-peer currency becomes mainstream, governments will have to decide whether to accept it and put the banks out of business, or refuse it and drive it underground. Either way, the relation of state and citizen in economic management is likely to be radically changed.

And in this kind of world, which may be not that far off, what is a good banker to do?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Coming Election and comments from our various surveyors

Our election is running with a rush wave by strict observation of NEC. Specially EC is maintaining their free and impartial role to present the qualified candidate to peoples of Bangladesh. From view of our Muktidooth media we think, Ec is continue their better roles for the nation. But its true in some places, much chaos and corrupting offense tried to place in absence of the authority.Some unexpected situation happened in some area. But as neutral observer we'd appreciate EC's satisfactory roles. On the coming City Corporation election, we'd observe the commitments which we got from our honorable CEC and commission for free, impartial roles.We'd urge to CEC and EC authority to have their maximum free exchange of information for the media, press and news service providers for co ordinate each other for have a expect able present for the nation.

Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Law: How Friends Launched a Movement

The FOI advocacy was even more exciting because it originated as a citizen-led demand and was for the most part led by ordinary folks whose extraordinary resilience in the face of serial reversals ultimately earned the respect of good friends amongst the high and mighty. A story with many subplots, the tale of how the FOI bill became law awaits full treatment elsewhere.

Ultimately, though, it was a tale about how citizens—even those who don’t know one another—can become friends in a common cause.

It began late in 1993. Few would have been willing then to give what ultimately became the FOI movement a snowball’s chance in hell of making it into the law books. General Sani Abacha was in power and transparent government was not his thing. To drive the point home, he sported trademark sunshades, even at night.

Edetaen Ojo provided the spark. He was in search of an issue to define the niche of the Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a young organization for the defense of free expression rights, which he led. Naturally, he looked to a network of friends. Edet (as he’s better known) enlisted the once mighty and now sadly mangled Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Lagos.

I helped by providing the background synthesis of FOI laws from around the world, and a framework for the drafting. Tunde Fagbohunlu, then a strapping lawyer with the firm Olisa, Agbakoba & Associates, and now senior advocate of Nigeria, did the first draft, showing the skills that would make him one of the most outstanding lawyers of his or any other generation in Nigeria.

The core proposals from that draft, remarkably, have survived largely intact through the many years of bargaining and negotiation. We were all friends.

Tunde’s draft went through several reviews. He was always willing to revise, update, edit. In addition to Edet, Abdul Oroh, a future federal legislator, then executive director of CLO, and Eze Anaba, now the deputy editor of Vanguard, were very helpful early friends.

In May 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office as a civilian president. For most of the previous two decades of his retirement from both government and the military, the General had campaigned loudly for good governance in Africa, if necessary with the help of juju.

We believed him and requested him early in June 1999 to transmit the draft FOI bill to the National Assembly as an executive measure. He declined, advising MRA instead to do so if they wished.

It was friendly advice, and too good an offer to turn town. Thus began what would become a riveting legislative learning curve for everyone.

In the then House of Representatives, the bill was sponsored by three more friends: Jerry Ugokwe, Nduka Irabor and Tony Anyanwu. They were to be joined as champions of the bill by Nze Chidi Duru. They were terrific to work with.

Maxwell Kadiri, then a young lawyer employed by the MRA and now with the Open Society Justice Initiative, arguably the most impressive legislative lobbyist in the country, became the lead legislative advocate for the bill. He would become the principal recruiter of friends for FOI in Nigeria.

Four years later, Maxwell would be joined in this by Ene Enonche, a young mass communication graduate from Ahmadu Bello University whose father was a retired Colonel.

Every new friend helped. With Maxwell and Ene, we later recruited Ledum Bhule, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s niece and an outstanding young lawyer. Supported by Edetaen and myself, these three young people gave Nigeria the FOI Act. Let’s put it this way: without Maxwell, Ene and Ledum, it would not have happened. Towards the end, they spent nights in the National Assembly to make sure it happened.

The Right to Know Initiative grew naturally out of this. We called it R2K.

Our first lessons in the intricacies of the process came from then Clerk of the House, Yomi Ogunyomi.

The bill excited strong passions and strong suspicions. It failed to make much progress through the 4th Parliament (1999-2003) but won over several more enthusiastic friends.

By the 5th Parliament, this community of friends had grown to include many more across party lines and in both Chambers. On the House side, some of the more prominent supporters included Usman Bugaje, Haruna Yerima, Uche Onyeagucha, Abike Dabiri, as well as Austin Opara and Aminu Masari.

The last two were deputy speaker and speaker respectively. Abdul Oroh, one of the original birthers of the bill, had by 2003 become a federal legislator and a natural ally.

On the Senate side, Victor Ndoma-Egba, Comrade Uche Chukwumerije, Julius Ucha and Tawar Wada were quite vocal and articulate. Inatimi Spiff, a one-term senator from Bayelsa State was remarkably disciplined and constructive in improving the Bill. Kenechukwu Nnamani, then senate president, was also a supporter.

All of these and more worked hard to pass the bill and ensured it was transmitted to a President who, by this time was preoccupied with prolonging himself in office. First he denied receiving the bill, but when confronted showed too much knowledge of a law he had not read. Finally he admitted to having read it and swore on the gods of his ancestors that he would never sign “that thing.”

And so another try bit the dust. But FOI had made more friends. It is difficult to say specifically when the FOI advocacy went viral. Friends were busy recruiting friends everywhere. The FOI coalition electronic listserve became a cacophony. Everyone wanted to be counted in support of the FOI bill.

There were redoubtable supporters everywhere, especially in the media. Reuben Abati at the Guardian weighed in repeatedly in his column, with more support coming from publishers including Ajibola Ogunshola at The Punch, and Nduka Obaigbena at Thisday, and Dele Olojede at NEXT, up until the presidential assent finally came.

From the Bar, Balarabe Mahmoud, senior advocate of Nigeria and former attorney-general of Kano State was creative in improving the Bill; Boma Ozobia, president of the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association worked her Rolodex from airport terminals around the world if necessary. We lost count of the circle of friends when we woke up one morning to read that Ibrahim Babangida had called for the passage of the FOI bill. We treasured that.

In the end, the biggest friends proved to be the really big fish. Ita Ennang was a wizard of the rules of the House of Representatives. He deserves his place in the Senate. Ayogu Eze in the Senate and Dickson Seriaki in the House managed final concurrence deftly. Speaker Dimeji Bankole and Senate President, David Mark, found the right side of history with astute judgement and President Goodluck Jonathan set the seal on it.

There were, of course, friends inside very high places who would prefer to remain anonymous. They know themselves.

But who can forget the friends we lost along the way?

Bankole Aluko, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, co-founder of Aluko & Oyebode, one of the biggest commercial law firms in Nigeria, whom we tragically lost in his prime, vetted the initial draft of the Bill and always prioritized work or appearance at a legislative hearing in support of the Bill over his paid casework.

Tony Anyanwu, one of the first friends a Bill could have in Parliament, also lost in his prime; and Tawar Umbi Wada, a towering legislative operator who was always the ultimate loyal friend.

Kole, Tony, Tawar, I hope you’ve heard: Yes, we did it—for you!

Posted in: Africa, Governance & Accountability

Topics: Chidi Odinkalu, freedom of information, Goodluck Jonathan, Maxwell Kadiri, Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, Right to Know Initiative

Uruguay considers China a ‘strategic partner’ and supports a Beijing-Mercosur trade accord

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Wednesday, June 8th 2011 - 16:36 UTC
Uruguay considers China a ‘strategic partner’ and supports a Beijing-Mercosur trade accord

Uruguay sees China as a ‘strategic partner’ and has kept good relations with Beijing since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1988, said Uruguayan Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro, a former ambassador to China from 2007-2009. Almagro made the statement as Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping begun his official visit to Uruguay.

The Uruguayan official revealed that the administration of President Jose Mujica would support an initiative for the regional Mercosur customs union to reach a trade agreement with China, “although complicated and has not yet been considered or proposed by any member, it would be very positive for both sides”

Uruguay considers Xi's visit as one of the most important foreign policy events of the year that will help boost bilateral trade, investments and facilitate agreements on cultural and political issues, Almagro said, who revealed that President Mujica is scheduled to travel to China in 2012.

Economic relations between China and Uruguay have experienced a sustained expansion in the last few years, said Almagro pointing out that Chinese corporations have strong investments in the telecommunications and automobile sectors of Uruguay.

Bilateral trade in 2010 reached a record 2.629 billion U.S. dollars, up 69.3% over the previous year. In the first quarter of 2011, bilateral trade soared to 530 million USD, up 46.7% over the same period a year ago.

China in the last five years has become Uruguay's second largest trading partner behind neighbouring Brazil. However Almagro said Uruguay is interested in boosting exports with higher added value.

“We must find the best way to boost trade but of quality goods, not only commodities. There have been software exports to China and it is something that can be boosted with the right promotion” said Almagro.

The Uruguayan official said China has shown great interest in investing in infrastructure projects such as port facilities, shipping, railways and communications. Uruguay has also advanced in supplying China with agro-business technology.

Finally Almagro revealed that Uruguay will support an initiative to have Mercosur and China reach a trade agreement.

”They are complementary economies. It has not been planned yet, none of the countries in Mercosur have taken the initiative, but it is something we must consider for the future. China is a leading trade and investment partner of all Mercosur members“ he said.

”I’m convinced it would be something most important for both sides and even if it demands very complex negotiation, it has good possibilities of going ahead” concluded the Uruguayan minister, who is a close advisor of President Mujica. Almagro left Beijing to join the electoral campaign of Mujica in 2009.



Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights in the world. This violence takes many forms including: physical, sexual and psychological abuse, as well as harmful cultural practices such as forced child marriage. According to the World Health Organization, more than 50 percent of women and girls in some countries experience domestic violence. Almost every day, we hear and read about domestic violence, sexual abuse and "honor" killings. These cases are the ones that make the news; so many more go uncovered, even unreported.
This type of violence has extensive health and social consequences for individuals, families and communities. Violence against women and girls reduces their contributions to development, inflicts costs on national economies and undermines poverty reduction efforts. In short, acts of violence against women and girls prevent individuals, families and whole communities from escaping poverty.
Sign the petition above to call for an end to these atrocities right now. Together, we can make ending violence against women a priority.
*CARE will gather the signatures and deliver them to our elected officials with the message that more must and can be done to address gender-based violence.

Gender-Based Violence and HIV/AIDS among Women Workshop 21st – 22nd July 2011 Holiday Inn Hotel, Rosebank, Johannesburg

broadly defined as any harm to a person resulting from the power disparities caused by
gender inequality.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, among women aged 15-44 years, gender violence accounts for more death and
disability than cancer, malaria, traffic injuries, and war put together. And in Africa, it is estimated that 1 in every 3 women will be raped in their
lifetime. GBV poses a serious threat to both personal and public health. Those survivors who live through the experience may face unwanted
pregnancies, STI infections (including HIV/AIDS), chronic pain, and/or disability.GBV also contributes to infertility and other reproductive health
problems, and often leads to unsafe self-induced abortion. The psychological trauma of GBV leaves lasting scars as well; survivors may struggle
with depression and are at higher risk for suicide, GBV also robs the community of productive women and girls, who would otherwise be
working and contributing to the well-being of other community members.
Gender-Based Violence and HIV/AIDS among Women Workshop
21st – 22nd July 2011
Holiday Inn Hotel, Rosebank, Johannesburg
29 – 30 June 2010
Workshop Highlights!!
Gender-based Violence
Gender based violence as a cause of HIV
Sexual and relationship difficulties result as a
consequences of GBV & HIV
Gender based Violence as a consequence of
HIV infection
Intersectionality" when working with
How to intervene and address GBV and HIV
The link between HIV/AIDS and Gender Violence
Human Trafficking as Gender violence
Policy and action
Who Should Attend?
Gender Co-coordinators
* HR Managers
* Gender Focal Persons
* Members of Women’s Forums
* Special Program Managers
* Budget officers
* Gender Practitioners
* Transformations Officers
* Peer Educators
* Immigration Officers
* Representatives from NGO’s & International
* Community Leaders
* Councilors
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Jatiyo Party Press release

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Prominent journalist dies in targeted killing in Pakistan

Prominent journalist dies in targeted killing in Pakistan

Syed Saleem Shahzad, right, with Pakistani journalist Qamar Yousafzai at the Afghan border in 2006. The two had been detained for several days by the Taliban. (AP/ Shah Khalid)
New York, May 31, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed and angered by the targeted killing of senior Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistan bureau chief of the Asia Times online website. Shahzad, considered an expert on Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, disappeared on Sunday night as he was on his way to participate in a talk show on Dunya Television, media reports said. His body, showing signs of torture, was later found outside Islamabad, according to local and international media reports.
Pakistan had the most journalists deaths in the world in 2010. On World Press Freedom Day (May 3), a CPJ delegation met with President Asif Ali Zardari and Interior Minister Rehman Malik and several other members of the government to press for a reversal of the abysmal record of impunity with which journalist are killed in Pakistan. The country ranks 10th on CPJ's global Impunity Index.
"President Zardari and Interior Minister Malik each personally pledged to address the vast problem of uninvestigated and unprosecuted targeted killings of journalists in Pakistan," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator. "With the murder of Saleem Shahzad, now is the time for them to step forward and take command of this situation."
Shahzad, who wrote Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11, had recently reported in an Asia Times article, "Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistan strike," that members of Al-Qaeda conducted the May 22 attack on a naval air station in Karachi. In 2006, he was held for five days by Taliban forces in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
Shahzad's death is the third this year in which a journalist was clearly killed because of his work. Nasrullah Khan Afridi died when his car blew up in Peshawar, and popular TV reporter Wali Khan Babar was gunned down on January 13 in Karachi. At least one other reporter, Naveed Kamal with the local news channel Metro One TV, has survived a targeted attack, with a gunshot through his jaw.
CPJ counts 15 cases of journalists apparently targeted for their journalism in Pakistan since the 2002 killing of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. None of their killers have been brought to justice.

As media and press freedom we want justice and human rights.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Major Indian oil company interested in shale gas assets in Argentina

State run India OIL Ltd has drawn up a war chest of over 1 billion US dollars, for acquiring a producing oilfield abroad and the company is trawling major oil-producing geographies, among which shale gas assets in Argentina, chairman N M Borah said last week.

OIL is India’s second-largest explorer after ONGC and is looking for a medium-sized discovered or producing oil property. The acquisition is to supplement its present operations.
“We are scouting South America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, CIS countries and Russia. We are looking into some properties but at this point in time I cannot say that we are acquiring 'this' company,” Borah said. The company reported a 30% jump in its fourth quarter profit in spite of its fuel subsidy burden doubling.
India is the world's fourth-largest oil importer, buying about 80% of its crude needs. It has been scouting for oil and gas assets abroad to meet demand in an economy growing around 8.5%, and to feed its expanding refining capacity.
N M Borah said his company had joined hands with IOC to acquire exploration acreage in Gabon, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Yemen, Timor Leste, Egypt, Venezuela and Sudan.
OIL has abandoned its acreage in Libya after failing to find commercially viable oil. However, he said Block Shakti in onshore Gabon, West Africa, looked promising. In Venezuela, the company in partnership with ONGC Videsh, Petronas of Malaysia and Repsol-YPF of Spain plans to start heavy oil production from 2013 onwards.
The Indian company produced 3.627 million tons of crude oil and 2.352 billion cubic meters of gas in 2010-11 from its domestic fields.
OIL is on the lookout for a medium sized discovered or producing oil property/company overseas to supplement its present operations which are confined mostly in the North East of India. “Acquisition of overseas exploration blocks and oil and gas properties is a strategic focus area of OIL” added NM Borah.


On Monday Customs delayed back-log of Argentina made-cars should be in Brazil

On Monday Customs delayed back-log of Argentina made-cars should be in Brazil
Argentina and Brazil seem to be again on the path of normalizing bilateral trade following the mid May spat that triggered a round of technical exchanges in Buenos Aires and a final meeting at ministerial level in Brasilia. On Monday, allegedly all the Argentine cars delayed in the border will have been cleared into Brazil.
Only hours after the meeting between Argentine Industry Minister Debora Giorgi and her Brazilian counterpart, Fernando Pimentel, Brazil allowed 11,700 Argentine- made cars into the country that had been held at the border during the conflict between both nations. Value of the cars was estimated in 200 million USD.
At last week’s two hour meeting between Giorgi and Pimentel it was agreed to speed up trade between both countries and strictly comply with the non automatic import licences maximum period admitted by the World Trade Organization, WTO, which is 60 days.
Differences over the implementation of the sixty days licence period, and Argentina’s efforts to try and balance bilateral trade with Brazil which last year was over 33 billion USD but with a 4 billion surplus for Brazil, have been at the heart of the dispute.
At the height of the trade dispute Brazil prevented Argentine made cars to enter the country, as retaliation to Argentina applying of non-automatic licenses on 529 Brazilian products, including shoes, tires and agricultural machinery.
“Last week’s agreement made Argentina give priority to non automatic licences applied on agriculture machinery from multinational corporations established in Brazil”, according to Argentine sources.
Apparently an additional incentive for Buenos Aires to facilitate the farm equipment imports is the fact that at least two of those corporations have plans to set up factories in Argentina. One of them has already announced it will be investing 100 million US dollars in a plant to manufacture tractors, engines and harvesters. A percentage of the parts will be imported, in a complementation agreement, from Brazil.


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