Posted tagged ‘Brazil’

WITCH HUNTING NANOTECHNOLOGY? QUE SERA SERA BRAZIL!

October 9, 2013

WITCH HUNTING NANOTECHNOLOGY? QUE SERA SERA BRAZIL!

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Magandang araw! Good day!

 

It seems that Brazilians have among them a new crop of superstitious punks whose noxious superstition discovered their enemy whom they need to stake to death in public: nanotechnology practitioners. By practitioners we mean those who practice the research & development of nanotech into usable byproducts.

 

The superstitious witch hunters have found allies among legislators who are proposing to ban nanotech items in food & beverage or F&B labels. If these Inquisitors have their way, they may end up heaping up public hysteria on the nanotech practitioners who may get lynched or stoned to death.

 

Fortunately, there are more sane minds than madmen among the legislators in the noblesse federal republic. Of course, it need not be stressed that the sane legislators struck down as impertinent and dismissed the inquisitional stone age superstitionists.

 

You can find the reportage about the rather ubiquitous inquisition below.

 

[Manila, 06 October 2013]

 

Source: http://www.scidev.net/global/technology/feature/brazil-struggles-to-regulate-emerging-nanotechnology.html

Brazil struggles to regulate emerging nanotechnology

Speed read

  • Congress has rejected a bill to label food and drugs containing nanotech
  • Yet a US$186 million nanotechnology initiative was launched last month
  • A new bill is pending, which may introduce what some see as badly needed regulation

[RIO DE JANEIRO] The Brazilian Congress has rejected a bill that aimed to introduce labelling on all food, drugs and cosmetics containing nanostructures, arguing that it was alarmist and that there was no scientific basis for warning people about nanotechnology in products.
 
The move is the latest rebuff to such regulation, even as the country spearheads multimillion-dollar nanotechnology programmes and experts argue that better oversight of this new technology could benefit both industry and consumers.
 
A Senate report on the rejected bill said that the proposed labelling could have been interpreted as a “warning” even on products improved by nanotechnology, potentially causing losses to companies that have invested in improving their products through this technology.
 
Consequently, there could be a fall in research and development investment in the sector, which would undermine national investment into nanotechnology such as the National Nanotechnology Programme, a multimillion-dollar initiative launched in 2005, and its extension the Brazilian Nanotechnology Initiative launched last month (19 August) that is worth 440 million reals (approximately US$186 million) by the end of 2014.
 
The bill’s demise marks the second failure to regulate the fast-growing sector: in 2005, a more ambitious bill, with provisions for a national policy on nanotechnology, including labelling, risk assessment and other decisions, was evaluated by the industry, science, and finance committees  from Congress’s Chamber of Deputies, which found the field to be at too early a stage for legislation.
 
The benefits of legislation
 
Meanwhile, some experts argue that regulation would make nanotechnology and its industrial applications more transparent, providing a good basis for advancing research and public support for it.
 
It would also help guide research and define, evaluate and minimise potential risks to human health and the environment, they say.
 
The most recently rejected bill was less ambitious than its predecessor, aiming primarily to introduce product labelling.

“Regulation … would bring only benefits to industry, trade, scientists and society.”

Edson Duarte, former
member of the Chamber of Deputies

First presented to Congress’s Senate in May 2010, the bill proposed changing existing laws to incorporate products made using nanotechnology, based on the argument that consumers have the right to know exactly what is in things they buy.

Just as genetically modified foods have to be labelled in some countries, the bill would have forced firms to label any foods, drugs and cosmetics containing nanotech.
 
But two of the Senate’s commissions — for social affairs and for the environment and consumer protection — that reviewed the proposal said there was no scientific basis for imposing “warnings” over nanotechnology’s use.
 
The senators added that the labels were not sufficient to inform consumers, who could be confused and then avoid what could actually be “improved products”.
 
This “alarmism” would harm companies that have invested in nanotechnology and halt plans for the sector’s development in the country, they said.
 
But the author of 2005 bill, which was rejected for similar reasons, says this reasoning is misguided.
 
“My bill was rejected on the grounds that it could inhibit research and development of new products. It is an absolutely misguided justification,” says Edson Duarte, former member of the Chamber of Deputies. “Regulation would serve to establish a minimum level of control over the sector and would bring only benefits to industry, trade, scientists and society.”
 
Further legislation
 
The Senate may soon have another stab at legislating on the issue: a new bill, proposing the creation of a labelling law for all nanotech products, including imports and exports, is pending in the Chamber of Deputies.
 
Instead of changing existing laws on foods and drugs to include the labelling of anything made using nanotechnology, as the recently rejected bill attempted, the new proposal would encompass labelling all products containing nanotech, without requiring other laws to change.
 
“We are confident that our proposal will be approved,” says José Sarney Filho, the new bill’s author and a representative in the Chamber.
 
In his view, the business sector is becoming more aware of growing consumer pressure for information and is less resistant to labelling regulations, both of which may help convince senators to approve the bill. The bill was favourably reviewed by the Committee for Economic Development, Industry and Trade, in the Chamber of Deputies, last month.
 
But Duarte says that a remaining obstacle for nanotech regulation in Brazil is opposition by free-market groups. “These are the ones who can hamper regulation and press [Congress] not to create laws for industry,” he says.
 
Duarte is worried about nanotechnology advancing rapidly with no regulation.
 
Yet Oswaldo Luiz Alves, a nanotech expert at the State University of Campinas and a member of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s Advisory Committee on Nanotechnology, says the time lag between big investment in a new technology and its regulation is not unique to the nanotech sector.
 
“This situation has been happening with many technologies. Even in developed countries, regulation came in second,” he says.
 
Despite the setback of the bill’s rejection, Alves believes the situation is now favourable to advancing nanotechnology regulation in Brazil, especially as the nation’s new nanotechnology initiative gets under way.
 
“But we need to consistently move forward with the right steps and, above all, in harmony with the international context so that we do not create situations that prevent us from participating, as effective actors, in the trillion-dollar economic activity of nanotechnology,” says Alves.
 
Link to the senators’ report on the rejected bill (in Portuguese)
 
Link to the newly proposed labelling bill (in Portuguese)
 
Link to the 2005 rejected bill (in Portuguese) 

 

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EMERGING MARKETS OVERTAKE RICH NATIONS BY 2025 SAYS WB

May 26, 2011

EMERGING MARKETS OVERTAKE RICH NATIONS BY 2025 SAYS WB

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good news has played harmonious cords for the world’s emerging markets recently, as the World Bank released its most honest forecast that they will equalize wealth production with the richest nations by 2025. This wonderful forecast alone is very good news that is cause for celebration this early, as it means the era of hegemonism by the weathiest nations is coming to an end.

Richest nations often than not refer to the members of the OECD which has the G7 nations at the top. OECD economies, during their heydays, produced 60% of the world’s wealth, so you could just imagine their clout. They bullied developing economies no end, and they used the thuggish IMF as the institution to slam bang the poorer nations into submitting to their dictates of authority measures.

That era of OECD hooliganism is now drawing to a close, as the emerging markets make waves as growth drivers of the global economy. Emerging markets are those countries with (a) big populations, (b) growing consistently at a range of 5%-10% per annum, and (c) have a very significant numbers of families earning middle income range of U.S. $6,000-30,000 per annum.

Philippines, my beloved nation, has a population of past 94 Millions as of end of 2011, has been growing at an average of 5% for a decade now, and has 15% of its population at middle incomes (using the global middle-class yardstick). It is clearly among the emerging markets, and is a trend setter in the ASEAN together with the other emerging markets Indonesia and Vietnam.

Other trend-setting emerging markets across the globe are: China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Mexico, Egypt, and Pakistan. Let’s cross our fingers that the likes of Bangla Desh and Nigeria will mutate into emerging markets very soon.

Taiwan, Singapore, and Hongkong do not qualify as ‘emerging’, as they are classified as ‘dragon economies’, besides they are already wealthy. Malaysia and Thailand have relatively small populations, so they don’t qualify as ‘emerging markets’ but are classified among the ‘tiger economies’.

The ASEAN is surely a fortunate region as it has Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam among its emerging economies, aside from wealthy Singapore, the ‘tigers’ Malaysia and Thailand, and small but wealthy Brunei. It is now recognized as a regional powerhouse, and will be a global economic power before this decade’s end.

Producing aggregate income of $1.8 Trillions as of end of 2010, which will double in 2016, ASEAN is surely bound to be a pillar of the global economy. China already reached that status, and India is on its way there too. Japan was the only economic global pillar in Asia by the 20th century, but that situation had radically altered as China surpassed it recently.

For the emerging economies of the world, bon voyage to your journeys to global acclaim and wealth!

[Philippines, 18 May 2011]
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RE-ECHOING KUDOS TO PRESIDENT ROUSSEFF OF BRAZIL

January 7, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Brazil and the world are all eyes today on the newly elected president who just took her oath as chief exec, the magnanimous lady Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff replaces the very popular Lula da Silva who had to step down due to constitutional limits on presidential terms (2 terms only). Both leaders come from the same socialist party of Brazil, even as Rousseff once served as top cabinet aide of Lula, so we do expect a continuity of the redistributive policies of Lula.

A former guerilla, who was among the audacious patriots who dared to clash it out with the military dictatorships that were backed, or should we say installed by the U.S.A. She suffered incarceration and political torment, rose above those constrictions as democracy returned, and ascended to power like a phoenix.

To recall, Lula worked out to bring social equity to its fruition, the result of which enlarged the middle class in Brazil. Poverty alleviation programs have been churning out good results as more poor folks graduated to middle income status during his term. His government’s innovative cash transfer program is being copied by various countries in the world today including my own beloved Philippines.

Lula will surely be well remembered for his feats, and hopefully the socialist party that he belongs to will stand by those redistributive policies that were inspired foremost of all by socialist doctrines. For his feats, Lula became the world’s most popular and admired leader in the whole world, and put Brazil all the more at the center of the world’s global growth drivers.

We will all be missing Lula, the same way that we miss Mandela of South Africa. But no worry, there’s Lady Rousseff who will continue the Lula’s policies and programs and who will dare to innovate more in such areas as providing aid to developing countries that are in need. Rousseff will strengthen Brazil’s leadership in Latin America, enough to veer away the south from the hegemonistic bullying of the U.S.A.

I did echo my kudos to the honorable Rousseff after she won her electoral victory. Let me re-echo my greetings again:

Best wishes for you President Dilma Rousseff in your incumbency as chief executive of Brazil! Goodwill to all Brazilians! Mabuhay!

[Philippines, 04 January 2011]

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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs anytime!

Social Blogs:

IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com

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BRAZIL’S ROUSSEFF IS NEW PREX, KUDOS!

November 19, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day to you all! Solidarity greetings to all the Brazilians and South Americans!

Another leader of the Workers’ Party of Brazil just won the presidential polls. Lula da Silva’s former presidential aide, Lady Rousseff, is among the leaders of the socialist party in the rapidly surging emerging market, and will sit as the new chief exec soon after garnering the presidency in a closely fought presidential contest.

Already sick and tired of the globalization policies that only mired Brazil in poverty hovels, the voters decided to cast their vote for a second time around now. Not only that, Brazilians are also terribly sick of the militarism that encumbered the country closer to the ambit of the Anglo-American oligarchy and rendering it into a puppet of America amid unlimited tortures and deaths on anti-tyranny detractors.

As the latest electoral exercise had shown, an exercise that is buttressed by the economic surge of Brazil and its ballooning middle class, the route to sustained democracy and economic growth is the most longed for direction for the nation. Militarism is out and any return to worn out dictatorship is getting to be a remote possibility each day.

With the ascent to power of the socialists, the redistributive policies that ambitiously addressed poverty, hunger and unemployment were tried and tested in an erstwhile anti-populist country. A cash transfer program to the poorest of the poor achieved enormous mileage during Lula’s incumbency, a program that directly addressed the social equity problems that plagued Brazil since its independence from Portugal yet.

Globalization hit the underclasses so hard, with hyper-inflation in the 1990s driving prices up so madly that the poor laboring folks just can’t keep up with the spiraling cost of living. A similar incident also brewed so hot in neighboring Argentina, which saw the ascent of the Left there as a popular anti-globalization collective action.

Lula and the Workers’ Party rode abreast the rising tide of anti-globalization sentiments, with Lula ending up as the world’s most popular chief executive. Sweeping social policy reforms were instituted, supported by a dominant constituency. In almost no time at all, poverty and hunger were addressed and largely solved, and many Brazilian poor graduated to middle income status.

Lula thus left his office with a very memorable historic record of seeing Brazilians graduating to middle class due to his stewardship. Brazil has joined the select group of ‘emerging markets’, or those economies with large populations, a significant middle class, and growing at rapid rate.

Rousseff would most likely take Brazil to the next level, which is the institution of regulatory reforms that will bring Brazil closer to a ‘social market’ economy. A hybrid economy it will be, akin to China’s and Vietnam’s respective economies.

Whether Rousseff and aides will go for a full capital & monetary control policy regime remains to be seen though. What is clear, from a fiscal & monetary point of view, is that financial instruments will be further stretched to sustain the social equity efforts achieved by Rousseff’s predecessor.

On the political front, the new chief exec will be steward over a nation that will exert greater sovereignty and sustain the climb to regional power status. On the global political level, Brazil will be among those countries popularly called upon to constitute a new balance of power alongside the nascent Asian giants China and India.

Hopefully, through Rousseff’s auspices, a Brazil-Argentina binary power entity can stir Latin America away from flawed liberalization doctrines & policies towards stronger social policies, economy driven largely by domestic demand (strong middle class), and an independent and non-aligned Latin America that will stay closer with fellow developing countries.

Such a Latin America, to my mind, can move on to sustained high growth rates that will duplicate Asia’s growth patterns. Should Latin America join Asia in creating a broader zone of global growth drivers, the possible plunge of the global economy towards a ‘dark age’ due to the economic fiasco up North will be averted.

Let me extend my own kudos to Madame Rousseff and the voters who brought her to power. Congratulations and goodluck to your incumbency, Lady Rousseff!

[Philippines, 15 November 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

BRAZIL JETTISONS ECONOMICALLY: KUDOS, SUSTAIN & LEAD!

July 27, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Brazil is now clearly leading the growth path of the entire South America, and this is a most welcome news. I am truly impressed by the developments down south that Brazil had led, and so I extend my kudos to the citizens and development stakeholders of Brazil.

Under the able stewardship of the very popular president Lula, the growth policies of the country were strengthened and sustained. The added feature is that, under a socialist regime, Brazil’s social policy had been further stressed and strengthened, with the hopeful gains of growth distributed more equitably to the poor folks of the cities and countrysides.

As we should all realize, South America isn’t exactly following a growth trend akin to East Asia’s. While Asia generally surges upwards, breathing new life to the global economy, that of South America’s could only count on specific countries (not general trend) jettisoning their ways further upwards. Brazil, Argentina, Chile are the most concrete success stories, while Mexico burns in the embers of an anti-drug war (Mexico sputters in its role as a growth driver).

Among all regions down south (America), it seems that the Brazil-Mercosur promises the greatest hope for the continent. It remains to be seen though how far this can be sustained. Contrast this to Asia, where three regions—Northeast Asia (China-Korea), Southeast Asia (ASEAN), and South Asia (India-led)—are acting as a grand chorale that enchants and enthralls the global economy as a whole.

Brazil, as an emerging market, clearly leads the pack in the whole of the continent, and being large enough by itself, it can jettison ahead and be the equivalent of China-India-ASEAN of the south. Its ‘real economy’ is the base of its growth that enables it to veer away from the anarchic and destructive ‘virtual economy’ policies up north (America).

Such an upward surge should move on till the aerospace program of Brazil will clearly be established as solid rock, thus ensuring the country’s entry as a top producer of affordable satellites for diverse end-users. It can go on and establish, in 25 years’ time, active metallurgical R&D in other planets such as Mars and Jupiter that can be alternative sources of metals for our own planet.

Also, Brazil better lead in creating a continental-looping railway that can accelerate development of the other regions, quicken the movement of skilled peoples and information across borders, and magnify continental trade by many folds. Likewise should Brazil lead in cyber-looping the continent with state-of-the-art infotech cables like what the East is now ambitiously embarking on.

Likewise should Brazil lead in massive energy investments, with clean technologies leading the way. Incidentally, biofuels and other clean energies are now surging upwards in the emerging market, with a policy environment in place that qualitatively is as sterling as East Asia’s (the Philippines has one such policy environment now well built up).

On the other hand, Brazil should better go slow in taming the Amazons with massive energy projects that could sadly kill the indigenous cultures that are among the country’s top endowments. Furthermore, in no way should the Amazon jungles’ diverse species be terminated for the sake of producing power, mineral resources, timber, and heavy industries for the country and its trading partners.

The world is watching Brazil mutate into a gigantic pillar of the global economy, we in Asia are surely watching with awe, and such a rise of a giant will ensure that the imperialist power up north will tone down its hegemonic attitudes towards the southern continent in the short run. The USA should better choose the path of cooperation with the south if it desires to remain relevant at all, as its own economy slides down a 3rd world level notwithstanding the continuous ‘virtual economy’ predation of its industries, agriculture, and infrastructures.

Surging upwards under a series of conscienticized and enlightened leaders, Brazil will continue to come on as sweet and enchanting as samba and bossa nova. To celebrate Brazil’s victories, we better chill out with Brazilian music & dance while we relish Brazilian cuisine in a spirit of peace and cooperation worldwide.

[Philippines, 21 July 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

AMERICAS’ DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

August 13, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Let’s continue our news sharing about development-related matters. Across the Americas comes news bits, from penguin populations in Argentina to environmental news in Brazil, up through governance news in Venezuela.  

[01 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to DevEx database news.]

Argentina

Penguin populations have plummeted at a key breeding colony in Argentina, mirroring declines in many species of the marine flightless birds due to climate change, pollution and other factors, a study shows. Dee Boersma, a University of Washington professor who led the research, said the plight of the penguins is an indicator of big changes in the world’s oceans due to human activities. For the past 25 years, Boersma has tracked the world’s largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins on Argentina’s Atlantic coast. Since 1987 she has observed a 22 percent decrease in the population of these penguins at the site. (Reuters)

Brazil

Brazil’s new environment minister, Carlos Minc, called all sugar cane mills in the northeastern state of Pernambuco an environmental “disaster of disasters” and fined them USD 75 million. In a crackdown called Old Green Mill conducted jointly with the environmental protection agency Ibama, Minc said that all 24 mills in the state had committed a series of crimes. Since he took over as minister after conservationist icon Marina Silva stepped down several weeks ago, Minc has targeted Brazil’s powerful farmers, ranchers and miners, who are riding a global commodity boom, and blamed them for fueling deforestation. (Reuters)

Colombia

Republican John McCain, in an unusual trip to Colombia as a US presidential candidate, called on President Alvaro Uribe on July 1 to make further progress on human rights while pushing the US Congress to vote on a trade pact between the two countries. McCain kicked off a three-day trip to South America and Mexico by meeting Uribe in an effort to tout his positions on trade and showcase his foreign policy experience over that of Democratic rival Barack Obama. McCain pressed the Colombian president to make further progress on human rights issues while highlighting the success of efforts under his administration in fighting the FARC. (Reuters)

Haiti

Aid for Haiti is falling short as the Caribbean country is buffeted by urgent needs to help feed its poor while developing domestic food production and jobs, a UN official said on June 1. The UN System is an umbrella group that represents all of the international organizations and conventions that have been created by the world body. Permanent coordinator of the UN System in Haiti Joel Boutroue said the UN System plans to collect USD 131 million in funding for near- and mid-term programs to support local food production and the creation of new jobs in the poorest country in the Americas. (Reuters)

United States

US President George W Bush has signed a bill removing Nelson Mandela and South African leaders from the US terror watch list, officials say. Mandela and ANC party members will now be able to visit the US without a waiver from the secretary of state. The African National Congress (ANC) was designated as a terrorist organization by South Africa’s old apartheid regime. A US senator said the new legislation was a step towards removing the “shame of dishonoring this great leader.” (BBC)

Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez was personally involved in covering up his nation’s role in an Argentine election scandal, according to a court statement by a witness who might testify at a criminal trial in Miami. The claim was made by Franklin Duran, who faces trial on charges of acting in the US as an unregistered agent of Chavez’s government. Prosecutors say Duran conspired to silence a Florida businessman who toted USD 800,000 in a suitcase from Caracas to Buenos Aires, where the valise was seized Aug. 4. Prosecutors say the cash was intended for the campaign of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who was elected president of Argentina on Oct. 28. (Bloomberg)

AMERICAS’ DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

August 11, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Let’s continue our news sharing about development-related matters. Across the Americas comes news bits, from penguin populations in Argentina to environmental news in Brazil, up through governance news in Venezuela.  

[01 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to DevEx database news.]

Argentina

Penguin populations have plummeted at a key breeding colony in Argentina, mirroring declines in many species of the marine flightless birds due to climate change, pollution and other factors, a study shows. Dee Boersma, a University of Washington professor who led the research, said the plight of the penguins is an indicator of big changes in the world’s oceans due to human activities. For the past 25 years, Boersma has tracked the world’s largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins on Argentina’s Atlantic coast. Since 1987 she has observed a 22 percent decrease in the population of these penguins at the site. (Reuters)

Brazil

Brazil’s new environment minister, Carlos Minc, called all sugar cane mills in the northeastern state of Pernambuco an environmental “disaster of disasters” and fined them USD 75 million. In a crackdown called Old Green Mill conducted jointly with the environmental protection agency Ibama, Minc said that all 24 mills in the state had committed a series of crimes. Since he took over as minister after conservationist icon Marina Silva stepped down several weeks ago, Minc has targeted Brazil’s powerful farmers, ranchers and miners, who are riding a global commodity boom, and blamed them for fueling deforestation. (Reuters)

Colombia

Republican John McCain, in an unusual trip to Colombia as a US presidential candidate, called on President Alvaro Uribe on July 1 to make further progress on human rights while pushing the US Congress to vote on a trade pact between the two countries. McCain kicked off a three-day trip to South America and Mexico by meeting Uribe in an effort to tout his positions on trade and showcase his foreign policy experience over that of Democratic rival Barack Obama. McCain pressed the Colombian president to make further progress on human rights issues while highlighting the success of efforts under his administration in fighting the FARC. (Reuters)

Haiti

Aid for Haiti is falling short as the Caribbean country is buffeted by urgent needs to help feed its poor while developing domestic food production and jobs, a UN official said on June 1. The UN System is an umbrella group that represents all of the international organizations and conventions that have been created by the world body. Permanent coordinator of the UN System in Haiti Joel Boutroue said the UN System plans to collect USD 131 million in funding for near- and mid-term programs to support local food production and the creation of new jobs in the poorest country in the Americas. (Reuters)

United States

US President George W Bush has signed a bill removing Nelson Mandela and South African leaders from the US terror watch list, officials say. Mandela and ANC party members will now be able to visit the US without a waiver from the secretary of state. The African National Congress (ANC) was designated as a terrorist organization by South Africa’s old apartheid regime. A US senator said the new legislation was a step towards removing the “shame of dishonoring this great leader.” (BBC)

Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez was personally involved in covering up his nation’s role in an Argentine election scandal, according to a court statement by a witness who might testify at a criminal trial in Miami. The claim was made by Franklin Duran, who faces trial on charges of acting in the US as an unregistered agent of Chavez’s government. Prosecutors say Duran conspired to silence a Florida businessman who toted USD 800,000 in a suitcase from Caracas to Buenos Aires, where the valise was seized Aug. 4. Prosecutors say the cash was intended for the campaign of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who was elected president of Argentina on Oct. 28. (Bloomberg)