Americas

Breaking News: TransCanada announces it will re-route planned Keystone XL Pipeline to avoid the Sandhills area of Nevada

November 14, 2011

“The company announced the decision Monday at a news conference at the Nebraska Capitol. TransCanada official Alex Pourbax says the company remains confident it will eventually get a pipeline approved, albeit with a different route.

That comes after the federal government’s announcement last week that it would delay a decision on a federal permit for the project until it studies new potential routes that avoid the Sandhills areas of Nebraska and the Ogallala aquifer, a vast underground water supply.

The Los Angeles Times reports this saves both the Federal government and the Nebraska government from having to make tough decisions.”

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The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has sent an investigative team to Mexico to help probe the helicopter crash that killed Mexico’s #2 government official

November 13, 2011

“The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team of investigators to Mexico to probe the helicopter crash that killed the country’s No. 2 official.

The board says it has also sent representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate Friday’s crash in a rural area south of Mexico City. The crash killed Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora and seven others.

The safety board said in a news release Sunday that Mexico requested help. The agents arrived Saturday.”

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Brazilian police and soldiers take control of Rio de Janeiro’s largest slum in an effort to control lawlessness leading up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics

November 13, 2011

“Some 3,000 police and soldiers moved into one of Rio’s largest slums on Sunday, the latest effort to assert control over lawless areas of the city ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.

Officials said that feat was made possible by months of intelligence gathering and the arrest last week of Antônio Bonfim Lopes, the drug lord know of Nem, who was said to have effectively ruled Rocinha. The slum sits between the city and areas where many Olympic events will be held.”

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Currency Controls in Argentina worry free market Argentinians

November 12, 2011

“Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has placed strict controls on the foreign-exchange market and forced oil, gas and mining companies to keep their export earnings in the country.

The moves are designed to shore up foreign-currency reserves and discourage citizens from sending their assets abroad. But they have set off alarm bells among her critics, prompting comparisons to the heavy-handed economic tactics of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.”

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Obama Administration will explore a new route for the Keystone XL Pipeline, thus delaying final approval until after the 2012 election

November 11, 2011

“The Obama administration plans to announce on Thursday it will explore a new route for a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, delaying a final approval beyond the 2012 U.S. election, sources briefed on the matter said.

The decision would be a victory for environmentalists, many of whom oppose the pipeline, and a setback for TransCanada Corp, whose $7 billion Keystone XL project is seen as the most important North American oil pipeline plan for decades.

One source familiar with the matter said that studying a new route for the pipeline would likely take 12-18 months, putting a final decision after President Barack Obama’s bid for re-election on November 6, 2012.

If the administration explores a new route, “it’s a huge victory, and it would probably be the biggest environmental gift that President Barack Obama has given us,” said Tony Iallonardo, a spokesman at the National Wildlife Federation.”

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Hugo Chavez cancer progressing faster than expected; the Venezuelan Leader may only have months to live

November 10, 2011

“President Hugo Chávez’s cancer is spreading faster than expected and his doctors fear that he may have only a few months left to live, a former U.S. government official said Wednesday, citing sources inside the Venezuelan government.

“The international team of doctors in charge of treating Hugo Chávez’s cancer does not expect him to live more than six months,” said Roger Noriega, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States.

“Sources who have given me privileged information and documents from inside the Venezuelan government indicate that Chávez’s cancer is spreading faster than expected and could kill him before the presidential elections in October 2012,” added Noriega, who was also undersecretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs in the Bush administration.”

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Nicaragua’s re-elected President Ortega promises more of the same

November 10, 2011

“Newly re-elected President Daniel Ortega said Tuesday there won’t be any dramatic changes in his new administration and that he will continue taking Nicaragua on a path that is “Christian, socialist and in solidarity.”

In his first public speech since his landslide win in Sunday’s presidential election, the one-time Sandinista revolutionary discarded major policy changes in his second consecutive term in office.

“Why change if we’re doing a good job,” said the onetime firebrand Marxist who in recent years has espoused a politics of personality based on Christianity, socialism and free enterprise.

Electoral council President Roberto Rivas officially declared Ortega the winner on Tuesday, though the incumbent president had a 63 percent to 31 percent lead over his nearest rival with 86 percent of the votes counted on Monday.”

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Report: Mexico abusing human rights in its war against drugs

November 9, 2011

“Two years in the making, the report says the deployment of Mexican troops has coincided with an escalation of violence that had killed more than 35,000 people by the end of 2010. The government hasn’t issued new figures since then, although news media and other groups put the number at more than 43,000.

The report outlines misconduct at all levels of authority, from prosecutors who give detainees prewritten confessions to sign, to medical examiners who classify beatings and electric shock as causing minor injuries.

Only 15 soldiers have been convicted out of the 3,671 investigations launched by military prosecutors into alleged human rights violations by soldiers against civilians from 2007 to June 2011, according to the report. Not a single soldier or state official has been convicted in any of more than 200 cases the New York-based organization documented in the report.”

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Cuban President Raul Castro picks former Fidel rebel fighter, General Leopoldo Cintra Frias

November 9, 2011

“Cuban General Leopoldo Cintra Frias, who joined Fidel Castro’s rebel movement in the 1950s, was appointed the island nation’s defense minister, the government said.

Cintra, 70, assumes the position following the death of Julio Casas Regueiro in September. General Alvaro Lopez Miera, 68, replaces Cintra as vice-minister of defense, state-run Granma newspaper reported today on its website.”

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Attorney General Holder to the Senate Judiciary Committee: Fast and Furious tactics will not be tolerated

November 9, 2011

“In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder hit hard at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives practice that has tainted his tenure at the Justice Department and led to some Republican calls for him to resign.

“I want to be clear: Any instance of so-called ‘gun walking’ is unacceptable,” Holder said of weapons smuggling, later adding: “This operation was flawed in its concept, and flawed in its execution.”

Holder acknowledged what critics have been saying about the long-term consequences of “gun walking.” “Unfortunately we will feel its effects for years to come, as guns that were lost during this operation continue to show up at crime scenes both here and in Mexico,” Holder said. “We are losing the battle to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico.”

Holder defended his own actions, reminding the panel he called for the inspector general to examine the so-called Operation Fast and Furious and issued a directive that “gun-alking” was illegal and should never be repeated. The resulting report may be concluded before the end of the year. However, Holder stopped short of laying blame for the flawed operation.”

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Death toll from weekend landslide in Colombia reaches 38

November 8, 2011

“A weekend landslide in central Colombia killed at least 38 people and more than a dozen are still missing, a Red Cross spokesman said Monday.

Heavy rains, which triggered the Saturday landslide in the city of Manizales, forced rescuers to suspend their work Monday afternoon, Red Cross spokesman Leandro Soto told CNN. About 100 rescuers had been working in shifts at the scene.”

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Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega wins re-election by a landslide

November 7, 2011

“Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a socialist former guerrilla leader, cruised to a landslide re-election victory after drawing broad support for his anti-poverty programs.

Ortega had 62.7 percent of the vote with returns in from 86 percent of polling stations in Sunday’s presidential election. That was more than double the tally for his closest rival, conservative radio personality Fabio Gadea.

Ortega’s supporters poured into the streets of Managua to celebrate. “I’m happy … I think that people are convinced, they voted for social programs, voted for the future, voted for the poor,” said lawyer Silvia Calderon, 54.

Gadea refused to accept the results and accused Ortega of voter fraud, but international election observers said voting irregularities had not changed the final result.”

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Perez Molina wins the Guatemalan Presidential Election

November 7, 2011

“Retired army Gen. Otto Perez Molina won Sunday’s runoff presidential election in Guatemala, seizing on voters’ concerns about growing insecurity in the Central American nation.

With 98% of ballots counted, he led with more than 54% of the vote, said Guatemala’s election authority. His opponent, businessman Manuel Baldizon, garnered close to 46% of the vote.

Perez Molina, a retired army general who pledged to take a tough stand on crime, was the front-runner heading into the election. He won the most votes in the first round of voting in September.

Low voter turnout was reported in Sunday’s election, according to the state-run AGN news agency.”

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Kidnapped Member of Anonymous released by drug cartels after the hacktivist group threatened to release government e-mails with names of cartel members and associates

November 6, 2011

“The “hacktivist” movement Anonymous appears to have won a victory over a ruthless Mexican drug cartel, with word late Thursday that the Anonymous member kidnapped by Los Zetas had been released. However, unofficial Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown says he may yet share an alleged 25,000 Mexican government emails containing the names of Zetas members and associates.

“The Anon who had been kidnapped last month by the Zetas has been released, although it appears that the Zetas concerned did not know that the individual was the Anon whose release had been demanded by those who instigated #OpCartel. As such, no bargain has been fulfilled,” wrote Brown in a message posted on the Pastebin website yesterday evening.

Friday morning, Brown changed his tune after he apparently received more information.

“As many have heard, the individual who was kidnapped was indeed identified by Zetas, which changes things. More later,” he tweeted. “I will not be releasing Zeta names from those e-mails, but will be going after other cartels with help from informants,” adding in another tweet that the emails “are going to [the German newsmagazine] Der Spiegel.”

Yet Anonymous Iberoamerica, a Spanish-language Anonymous blog, predicted dire consequences if any cartel-related names were revealed — and consequently abandoned the fight.

“[The freed Anonymous member] has sent us a message,” a posting early this morning read. “If Anonymous unveils any name related to the cartel, the family of the kidnapped Anonymous member will suffer the consequences. For each cartel name revealed, 10 people will be put to death.”

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Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura in response to the TSA lawsuit dismissal: I’m gonna spend more time in Mexico and less time in the “Fascist States of America”

November 5, 2011

“Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is so upset by the dismissal of his airport security lawsuit that he threatened Friday to apply for dual citizenship so he can spend more time in his beloved Mexico — or run for president of what he labeled “the Fascist States of America.”

Ventura, also a former wrestling star, sued the U.S. government in January, alleging that airport scans and pat-downs amounted to unreasonable search and seizure. A district judge threw out his lawsuit Thursday, ruling it should have been filed in a Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ventura has said a titanium hip implanted in him in 2008 sets off metal detectors and that agents previously used hand-held wands to scan his body. He said he was subjected to a body pat-down after an airport metal detector went off last November. Ventura said he hasn’t flown since and won’t fly commercially again.”

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