Why Is the Pope against Trump and Putin Forming an Alliance*
Why Is the Pope against Trump and Putin Forming an Alliance*
Tropical Islands and Traditional Culture in Guna Yala, Panama*
By David Dudenhoefer
As the boat carried our group from a coastal airstrip in eastern Panama to the Yandup Island Lodge, in the autonomous territory of the Guna Indians, I admired the timeless beauty of my surroundings. A woman in colorful traditional dress glided slowly across the glistening sea in a dugout canoe powered by a lateen sail. The shore of nearby Playón Chico island was lined with Guna huts, their cane walls golden in the morning light, a few bread fruit trees towering over their thatched roofs. A dozen brown pelicans in a flying V glided across the azure sky. A school of tiny fish broke the water’s surface near the bow.
Though it was my 10th trip to Guna Yala (Land of the Guna), which covers much of Panama’s eastern Caribbean coast, I was as thrilled as ever to be there. The combination of pristine tropical islands and a remarkably well-preserved culture make a trip to Guna Yala just the kind of exhilarating experience that foreign travel should be. Granted the region’s remoteness, lack of modern amenities and rustic accommodations keep many tourists away, but their absence simply adds to the area’s charm.
The Guna chiefs prohibit outsiders from owning land, or business in their territory, so every lodge is owned and managed by a Guna family, and most are quite rustic. Yandup, which belongs to the Alvarado family, has established a new standard of comfort and service for the region, as well as commitment to making tourism benefit the community.
We disembarked on a small, grassy island shaded by coconut palms, with a tiny beach in one corner. A Guna woman in traditional dress led me to one of the nine spacious bungalows – with cane walls and thatched roofs, perched over the sea – and informed me that breakfast would be served in 10 minutes (the hardest thing about visiting Guna Yala is that flights depart Panama City at 6 a.m.). The breakfast was tasty, and since the restaurant is built over the water, it overlooks the island village of Playón Chico and the lushly forested slopes of the Serranía de San Blas towering behind it.
A Bit of History
That mountain range is one of the reasons that a trip to Guna Yala is like travelling back in time. It has kept outsiders out since the 17th century, when the Guna moved up the coast from northern Colombia into their current territory to escape Spanish colonists. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Guna chiefs formed alliances with French and English pirates, providing them safe harbour and food in exchange for protection from Spain.
They lived in relative peace until the early 20th century, when authorities from the recently founded Republic of Panama established a presence in the area, and began repressing Guna culture. The Guna rebelled in 1925, killing, or capturing all Panamanian officials in their territory in an uprising they call the Revolución de Tule. The U.S. Government, which had considerable clout in Panama in those days, sided with the Guna, so the Panamanians backed off. Subsequent negotiations led to the creation of an autonomous territory called the Comarca Guna Yala (a.k.a. Comarca de San Blas) that is governed by the elected chiefs of the Guna General Congress, in coordination with the Government of Panama.
That territory is priceless – 300,000 hectares (740,000 acres) of rainforest and subsistence farms, 373 kilometres (232 miles) of Caribbean coastline and the 365 San Blas Islands – but the Guna now keep outsiders at bay with the law. This has kept Guna Yala relatively unspoiled, but has disappointed countless developers who covet their idyllic islands.
Sun, Sea and Coral Reefs
After breakfast, we picked up snorkeling gear and headed out to one of the comarca’s uninhabited islands – an acre of sand covered with coconut palms and spider lilies. Only 41 islands hold Guna villages, and most of the San Blas Islands are the stuff of screen savers, with palm-lined, white-sand beaches sloping into a turquoise sea.
Unfortunately, those islands are threatened by the rising sea, driven by climate change. Water from melting mountain glaciers and polar ice caps is pouring into the oceans, while the sea’s surface waters are heating up and expanding. Scientists expect the San Blas Islands – and low-lying islands around the globe – to disappear this century, which would be a tragedy for the Guna, and a loss for the entire world.
That morning, however, the San Blas Islands looked like an untouched paradise. Red sea stars dotted the pale green sea grass in the shallows near the beach, and small waves broke over a reef 50 feet off shore, where dozens of species of corals and sponges populate a submarine garden. I swam out to that reef with one of the guides, and spent more than an hour admiring the angelfish, wrasses and countless other species that live amidst the coral heads. Sea fans swayed to the rhythm of the waves, a school of minnows glittered in the sunlight, and a hawksbill turtle disappeared into the dark blue depths as we approached. At one point, I swam alongside a large eagle ray, until it left me behind with a few flaps of its spotted wings.
After a few hours of island life, we returned to Yandup for a lunch of fresh fish, rice and vegetables. I then retired to the hammock on the porch of my bungalow, and admired the view of sea and verdant mountains. I was about to slip into a siesta when I heard the sound of a conch bugle, which meant it was time for our tour of Playón Chico village.
A stroll through a Guna village is like stepping back in time, but for the cell phones and radios. Our guide led us through a maze of pathways lined with the cane walls of traditional Guna homes, with a few cement-block buildings scattered here and there – the clinic, a school, a store. Children played in the sandy streets, men chatted on stoops, and Guna women passed us in psychedelic outfits.
One of the most spectacular things about Guna Yala is the traditional dress of its women, which includes a bright-colored skirt and scarf, hand-stitched molas (fabric pictures) worn on their blouses, and intricate beadwork on their calves and forearms. That exotic costume evokes India, whereas their paradisiacal islands are right out of the South Pacific, yet Guna Yala is just a few hours from Miami, and less than an hour by small plane from the skyscrapers of Panama City.
Our guide stopped at the Casa de la Cultura, a massive thatched hall found near the centre of every Guna community. Villagers gather there on certain nights to listen to the sahilas (chiefs) sing ancient songs – which tell the history and legends of the Guna – from their seats in hammocks.
On the island’s main street, dozens of women had set up tables in front of their homes to sell handicrafts – beadwork, carved wooden figures, shells. A group of dancers performed a traditional Guna folkdance – rhythmically hopping back and forth while playing panpipes and maracas – for tips. Hundreds of colorful molas were hung in front of the cane walls in hopes of enticing the foreign shoppers.
Molas are one of Panama’s most popular souvenirs, and are sometimes sewn into shoulder bags and clothing, or framed to hang on walls. All Guna women sew molas, both to wear and sell, and they provide one of the main sources of income for people on the islands, along with the sale of coconuts and lobster. Unfortunately, the limited economic options in Guna Yala have led tens of thousands to abandon their island paradise – perhaps half the Guna population – and move to Panama City and other parts of the country to find jobs. Those “expat” Gunas send money to their relatives on the islands, which helps keep the local economy afloat.
Elijio Alvarado, owner of the Yandup Island Lodge, says that his goal is to show that tourism can be a positive force for the development of Guna communities. He explains that in addition to the 15 local people who work at the lodge, dozens of families sell molas and other handicrafts to its guests, whereas others sell produce, or seafood to the lodge’s restaurant.
A sociologist who spent years helping Panama’s indigenous nations to defend their territorial rights, Alvarado now wants to help the community he grew up in. His children run the lodge, which allows him to organize community projects, such as one to help Playón Chico improve its garbage management by teaching people to separate their trash, and send recyclables to Panama City. With support from a Spanish organization, he helped the local school start a computer centre, and he is promoting the creation of a museum of Guna culture there.
“I want Yandup to be a model of cultural and ecological tourism,” said Alvarado.
“For me, the only reason to have a business like this is to support the community and strengthen Guna culture.”
Yandup Island Lodge (www.yandupisland.com, tel. (507) 202-0854) is located near Playón Chico, approximately 150 kilometres (90 miles) northeast of Panama City. Accommodation is in wooden bungalows with private baths and solar-powered lights. All meals, tours and the use of snorkeling equipment are included in the rates.
Getting there: Most travelers arrive from Panama City via a 50-minute flight in a small plane to a coastal airstrip (www.flyairpanama.com), where the lodge’s guides meet guests. An alternative trip by jeep and boat takes about six hours. Yandup Island Lodge can arrange transportation. Most major U.S. airlines have daily flights to Panama City, which has an array of hotels and attractions (www.visitpanama.com).
Foster Father Called a ‘Hero’ Because He Only Takes In Terminally-Ill Children*
By Brianna Acuesta
This foster dad hasn’t had a day off since 2010
When it comes to fostering children, it’s already a rough process because of the unstable home life the children have and the constant change in parents. For the parents, it can be difficult assimilating the child to their new environment, rules, and schedule, let alone providing the emotional support that’s necessary for children that may have been through trauma.
For one foster parent in Los Angeles, Mohamed Bzeek, there are added challenges because of the types of foster children he takes in; he only accepts terminally-ill children that have exhausted their options because no other foster parents are willing to put in the time for these dying children. It’s understandable because the emotional strength that’s needed to deal with the constant sickness and eventual death are something that virtually no one can handle on their own, but Bzeek takes on the challenge with his huge heart.
“You have to do it from your heart, really. If you do it for money, you’re not going to stay for long,” Bzeek told PBS.
Bzeek has said that it’s his Muslim faith that has kept him going all these years but that his late wife, Dawn, is who inspired him to open their heart and their home to these special needs children. She became a foster parent before they married and was involved in toy drives and other activities to help the foster kids in Los Angeles county. It wasn’t until she fell ill herself a few years ago that she found herself frustrated and unable to care for herself or the children. She died in 2014 but Mohamed has kept their dream of helping abandoned children going.
Mohamed currently cares for a 6-year-old with a rare brain defect called encephalocele, which caused her to be born with a small head and for some of her brain to be exposed as it protruded from her skull. Doctors removed the brain matter and she was removed from her biological parents’ care at just 7 weeks old, at which point Bzeek took her in. She cannot hear or see and only responds to touch; she also experiences daily seizures and her arms and legs are paralyzed. He also cares for Adam, his own 19-year-old special needs child who was born with brittle bones and dwarfism.
The 62-year-old foster dad has buried 10 of the foster children he has taken in and he says each death is difficult but inevitable. The baby that he and Dawn took in at the beginning of their time together died when she was just one-year-old as a result of a spinal disorder she developed because her mother breathed in too many pesticides during her pregnancy. He has cared for several children with similar brain defects as his current foster daughter, and he says this condition is a life sentence.
“The key is, you have to love them like your own. I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God,” he said in an interview with the LA Times.
Near the end of last year, Bzeek discovered that he had colon cancer and needed surgery to remove tumors the following month. It was tough for Bzeek because he employs a nurse to care for the children while he works during the day and when he comes home he is constantly caring for his children. He says he hasn’t had a day off since 2010 and had no time to have the surgery and undergo the care afterwards, but he had to make arrangements and the surgery wound up being successful. Throughout the whole process, he didn’t have anyone to lean on for support.
“I felt about the kids who’s been sick for all their life. If I am adult, 62 years old, and I feel this, that I am alone, I am scared, nobody tells me it’s okay and it will be fine, this experience, this humbled me,” he told PBS.
After reading about his story in the LA Times, one good samaritan reached out to Bzeek and wanted to help anyway that she can. She started a GoFundMe page for him so that he could improve his home for his children and hire a second nurse for whenever he needs a break and the fund has skyrocketed since then. As of this publishing, the fund has reached nearly $500,000.
On the page, Margaret Cotts, the one who started the page, lists the things that Mohamed would like to use the money for. This includes fixing the roof, which has been extremely leaky for some time, getting central heating and air because his daughter’s brain doesn’t allow her body to regulate her temperature, buy a new wheelchair-accessible van because his current one is 14 years old, and pay for his son’s college education. If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe page to support Mohamed, you can do so here.
Corruption Investigation in Brazil Recovers $270 Million*
Plea deals under the country’s largest corruption investigation have allowed the Brazilian government to recover millions that were lost.
Agreements with those under investigation for corruption in Brazil led to the recovery of US$275.6 million in the last two weeks, according to the Attorney General’s office.
Plea deals in Operation Car Wash, an ongoing investigation into the largest bribery scheme in the country’s history, helped the government retrieve the large sum of money. The government is expected to retrieve more funds in coming days.
The announcement comes after the Federal Police decided to eliminate a special team dedicated to investigating the cases, which uncovered possible wrongdoings by hundreds of politicians, including President Michel Temer.
“The expressive and unprecedented amount recovered in 10 days reveals that this technique allows in record time the advance of compensation for damages caused to the public coffers,” said the Prosecutor’s office in the state of Parana, where corruption investigations are being held.
The fines have been paid by companies connected to the corruption ring, such as Odebrecht, Brazil’s largest construction company, Braskem, Odebrecht’s petrochemical subsidiary and Andrade Gutierrez, the country’s second-largest construction company.
The largest fine collected belongs to Braskem, which on Wednesday deposited about US$224.5 million. The company will need to pay approximately US$954 million throughout the next six years as part of an agreement reached with prosecutors in December.
Operation Car Wash, which began in March 2014 with investigations into alleged bribes within the Petrobras oil company, later unearthed the largest corruption case in Brazilian history.
Temer, who has repeatedly denounced the investigation, faces possible suspension and impeachment if the Lower House of Congress and the Supreme Court approve a trial based on the corruption charges presented against him. Prosecutors allege Temer arranged to eventually receive a total of US$11.49 million from the largest meatpacking company in the country, JBS.
Opposition lawmakers have criticized the government and warned that Temer and his aides could find ways to block the investigation by the Federal Police.
Bill Gates: We Must Depopulate Africa to Save Europe*
You realize here, they are talking about Africa’s wealth…
By Jay Greenberg
Billionaire Bill Gates has spoken out about the immigration crisis in Europe saying that the continent will be “devastated by African refugees” unless severe and immediate action is taken.
In an interview with German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, Gates suggested that European nations must work together to reduce the population growth in Africa by committing more in overseas aid. In a total backtrack of his usual New World Order style open border policies, Gates is now suggesting that the mass influx of migrants into Europe from Africa is threatening to overwhelm countries like Germany who have welcomed globalism. Bill Gates recently caused a huge controversy in Africa when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was accused of secretly sterilizing millions of women in Africa by doctors in Kenya after abortion drugs were discovered in Tetanus vaccines. Could this have been a test for his proposed depopulation program?
In a total backtrack of his usual New World Order style open border policies, Gates is now suggesting that the mass influx of migrants into Europe from Africa is threatening to overwhelm countries like Germany who have welcomed globalism.
Bill Gates recently caused a huge controversy in Africa when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was accused of secretly sterilizing millions of women in Africa by doctors in Kenya after abortion drugs were discovered in Tetanus vaccines. Could this have been a test for his proposed depopulation program? Zero Hedge reports: According to Gates, the combination of explosive population growth in Africa combined with Europe’s notoriously generous open-border migrant welfare programs – as illustrated by the ‘German attitude to refugees’ have incentivised migrants to flood into Europe.
Comment: Not the secret war on Africa by the West
“On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees, but the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this – which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa.”
While Germany has been one of the pioneers of the open door policy, it cannot
“take in the huge, massive number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.”
Thus Gates advised European nations to take action in order to make it “more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes.” –Bill Gates
How to stop them?
Gates, whose third world vaccination programs have contributed to Africa’s population explosion, suggested that heaping tons of money onto Africa while taking steps to prevent transit into Europe is the best solution. After calling Germany’s commitment to allocate 0.7% of GDP towards foreign aid “phenomenal,” Gates encouraged “other European nations to follow its example.” (Because Africa is of course known for efficiently managing billions in foreign aid without corruption to ensure that their people are taken care of. Surely Europe’s donations will create an Africa that rivals downtown Hamburg.) Italy Gates’ comments come as European leaders discuss the surge of Africans washing up on Italy’s shores every week, with Rome calling on other E.U. nations to accept more refugees.
On Sunday, Italy’s interior minister Marco Minniti begged for help – telling an E.U. summit in Tallinn “We are under enormous pressure”S “If the only ports where refugees are taken to are Italian, something is not working. This is the heart of the question” –Marco Minniti Italy has taken in over 82,000 migrants in the first six months of 2017, 19% more than the same period last year. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the rescue organization SOS Mediterranee which runs an aid vessel along with Doctors Without Borders said that it would be logistically difficult to redirect migrants to other European ports. If the order came “we would have no choice, we would obey. But it would be completely impossible with more than 1,000 people on board,” Mathilde Auvillain told AFP.
So there you have it
After years of liberal open-border policies predictably resulted in a flood of North African (economic) migrants into Europe, the E.U. is panicking. And the solution to preventing millions of migrants from upgrading their lifestyle by picking up sticks and moving is to throw more money at Africa… However, as SHTFplan’s Mac Slavo asks, does this represent a major shift in the way globalists view immigration? And if so, why would this shift occur? If I were to guess, it has nothing to do with the fact that mass migration is ruining Europe and Western civilization. The globalists have always advocated for the disintegration of Western values and borders. It has to do with the indirect results of mass immigration. The refugee crisis is what has spurred the most resistance to globalism in recent years. It has ignited countless nationalistic political parties in Europe. It has contributed to Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and the slow motion fracturing of the E.U. What Bill Gates is saying, is a sign that the globalist may have realized that they’ve made a fatal mistake. By promoting open borders, they’ve sown the seeds for their own destruction. Their decision to allow millions of refugees into Europe has solidified populist conservative movements across the West that threatens to dethrone them. Now they’re trying to close this can of worms. Unfortunately for them and us, it may be too late.
All-girl Robotics Team from Afghanistan Banned from Entering U.S, But Their Robot Will Enter*
By Amando Flavio
Six teenage girls from Afghanistan have been left disappointed after the U.S. embassy denied them visas to travel to the first-ever international robotics competition for high school students from across the world, known as the First Global Challenge, due to be held in Washington, D.C. this month.
Although the girls were denied visas, their robot would be allowed to be sent to compete in the event. Graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, helped the students to program their robot.
According to local media reports, the six girls twice trekked around 500 miles from Herat, a western city in Afghanistan, to the American embassy in Kabul to apply for the one-week travel visas. But after a series of interviews, their applications were rejected by U.S. officials. The aspiring inventors reportedly wept when they heard they couldn’t escort their machine to Washington.
Roya Mahboob, Afghanistan’s first female technology boss, confirmed that the girls have been crying all day since their applications were rejected. She said the decision to deny the girls entry into the U.S. for the competition has demoralized the spirit of the teenagers. The girls are now left with no choice than to appear at the event via video link from Herat, she added.
One of the disappointed girls, Fatemah, told Forbes:
“We want to show the world we can do it, we just need a chance.”
When news broke concerning the plight of the girls, some observers in the U.S. took to Twitter to register their displeasure.
I feel safer now that we’ve denied a once in a lifetime opportunity to a group of girls whose country we’ve been bombing since their birth. https://t.co/55bR2pFBPq
— Jonathan Blanks (@BlanksSlate) June 30, 2017
Also, former vice president of communications for Verizon, Anthony Citrano called the decision “infuriating”. Most of these concerns were triggered due to the fact that the Afghanistan team was all-girl. Observers believe their presence at the competition would have encouraged more Afghanistan girls to venture into science, mathematics, engineering and technology related courses.
Apart from the girls from Afghanistan, other students from Gambia, a small nation in West Africa were also denied visas for the event. However, students from Iran, Iraq, and Sudan were granted visas. These three countries are among the Muslim-majority countries Donald Trump imposed travel ban on.
Six Afghan girls have received U.S. visas and are set to fly to Washington after President Donald Trump intervened to allow them into the United States for an international robotics competition.
The all-girl team picked up their visas at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on July 13. The team was set to board a plane at Kabul International Airport within hours.
“We are so happy since we have been informed that we were accepted,” 16-year-old team member Lida Azizi said. “From the students to the teachers, we are all so very happy.”…
A Pop Star Who Sings About Social Justice Is Uganda’s Newest Legislator*
By James Propa
Wine is not new to activism. His music has for a while been focused on social justice issues. But singing about policy issues is not enough. On 29 June, he finally crossed the line to become a policy maker after securing a parliamentary seat in Kyadondo, winning 75% of the votes in a by-election.
He began singing about social justice in 2005. During the 2016 general election he refused to take part in a song that praised and campaigned for incumbent President Museveni — who has been in office for three decades — to stay in power. Many top musicians took part in the song that Wine refused to take part in.
One of his more popular songs, “Ghetto”, talks about police brutality against people residing in the slums of Kampala and the inadequate services that delivered to them.
Wine refers to himself as “The Ghetto President” and “Omubanda Wakabaka,” loosely translated as “The King’s Gang Star”. He is the fifth person from the country’s art fraternity to go into politics, following in the footsteps of Ali Ndawula Wowoto, Sulaiman Madada, Judith Babirye and Kato Lubwama, who now serve as members of parliament.
His campaign was characterized by music, with large numbers of musicians, radio personalities and TV presenters turning up and using their social media accounts to push his message to the electorate, employing the hashtag #BikwaseKyagulanyi, which means “hand over everything to Kyagulanyi”.
At his final rally, he was arrested by the police, who alleged that Wine was holding the gathering in a wrong venue close to where President Museveni was campaigning for his candidate. The video below by NTV Uganda, a local broadcaster, shows him being detained. He pleads with the police, saying he is fighting for people’s rights.
Nevertheless, he won the by-election handily. He secured 25,659 votes, defeating Sitenda Sebalu, the ruling NRM party candidate, who only received 4,556 votes. Wine’s platform focusing on unemployment and other issues that affect youth, who he believes are misrepresented, captured huge amounts of support.
After he was announced as the winner of the election, he tweeted to his 28,000 followers that something profound has happened in Uganda’s electoral politics.
THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN
This 29th day of June marks a turning point in the politics of our country! History has… https://t.co/4cIbj3mHXu
— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) June 29, 2017
Ugandans took to social media to congratulate the 35 year-old celebrated artist on his election into Parliament. The list of supporters included politicians, musicians and ordinary people on the media platforms.
A few hours before the electoral commission announced the results, NRM Secretary General Justine Lumumba tweeted his message of congratulations:
Congratulations to the people of Kyadondo East, congratulations to @BobiWineOmuband Kyagulanyi Robert Sentamu.
— JustineKasuleLumumba (@JustineLumumba) June 29, 2017
And Kizza Besigye, the first runner up in the 2016 presidential campaign, also came out to applauded Bobi Wine’s victory; Besigye never campaigned for him as his party had fronted another candidate in the election:
— Kifefe Kizza-Besigye (@kizzabesigye1) June 29, 2017
Fellow artist Jose Chameleone congratulated Bobi Wine on his win:
When we believe, We Achieve.
Congrats to Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi,Family,Friends and Kyadondo East for the remarkable victory .
Leaders are chosen by God. So, May he guide you as you deliver Kyadondo East to the promised Land.
Fellow musicians Radio and Weasel also thanked Bobi Wine for his efforts towards giving the poor a voice through his music and now in politics as well:
You Have Brought The Ghetto UpTown. Congrats Broda Bobi Wine
In the past, Bobi Wine was known for the use of marijuana and beefing with fellow musician Bebe Cool. Yet the people of Kyadondo East were willing to overlook those things and elected him to parliament. The challenge for him going forward is to ensure that he works hard to catch up to his fellow parliamentarians that have been in the legislature for more than a year and deliver on the expectations of the people he represents and the country at large.