The number of Africans who have illegally traveled through Panama on their way to the United Sates has more than doubled so far this year, reaching more than 700, according to a Spanish-language news report.

That figure only accounts for those who have been apprehended by Panamanian authorities. When apprehended the immigrants are not deported. They are allowed to pass through instead. The illegals spend no longer than a week in Panama.

According to an August 8 report by the Spanish EFE news agency that went largely unnoticed by English-language media, in 2015 alone, “708 Africans have crossed the Darien jungle [in Panama] in search of the American dream.”

In just one year, the number of immigrants from Africa who have traveled illegally through Panama on their way to the United Sates has increased by 134 percent, adds that report.

“They were not deported because it is difficult to do so. Their countries of origin have no diplomatic representation in Panama and the process becomes complicated. In addition they are in transit, so you let them go,” Domingo Flores, the migration supervisor for the areas of Darien and San Blas, told EFE.

The migrant and economic crisis affecting Europe and the open door policy of some Latin American countries such as Ecuador, are behind this “abysmal” surge of immigrants, explained Frank Abrego, the chief of Panama’s National Border Service.

Many African immigrants are choosing to travel through the “inhospitable and hostile” Panamanian jungle to reach the United States, rather than cross into Europe through the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea, described as a “cemetery,” notes the report.

“The United States is better than Europe, there are more opportunities for us there, and it is much safer. The [Mediterranean] sea and the Sahara desert (Morocco) are extremely dangerous,” an Eritrean told EFE in perfect English, choosing not to give his name.

The vast majority of Africans traveling through Central America are males from Somalia, a failed state troubled by famine and Islamist terrorism, adds EFE.

“I almost died. That jungle is hell,” added Abdi Wahab Ali Osman, a 29-year-old Somalian, describing his journey through Panama’s Darien territory, nearly 8,000 square miles of tropical rainforest along the Colombia-Panama border controlled by drug traffickers and guerrillas from Colombia.

Somalia, Eritrea, and other African countries are found on a list of 35 nations described in a November 2004 U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) memo as “special interest countries.”

The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security described special interest countries as those “that have shown a tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members.”

Human trafficking “mafias” charge the African immigrants who end up traveling through Panama between $3,000 and $4,000 for an airline ticket to Brazil and Ecuador. From there, they travel to the border between Colombia and Panama where they encounter the immense and roadless Darien jungle, where they have to travel by foot for four or five days.

The human traffickers “wait for no man,” an 18-year-old man from Somalia told EFE on condition of anonymity.

Many immigrants die in the Darien jungle, “defeated by fatigue and the elements,” reports the Spanish news agency.

Africans are not the only foreign nationals trying to reach the U.S. through the Panamanian rain forest. Many of them are from Nepal.

According to a Panamanian border agency, 215 Nepalese immigrants crossed the Darien jungle in just the last two weeks of July, 150 more than during the same period in 2014.

During the Ebola outbreak in Africa last year, Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, warned that a “large percentage” of illegal immigrants attempting to enter the United States through Mexico are from West Africa.

He noted that West Africans are traveling through Central America on their way to the United States.

In March 2015, Gen. Kelly cautioned that Islamic extremists could exploit the knowledge of human trafficking organizations in Latin America to infiltrate the U.S.

He added that foreign nationals from countries like Somalia, where Islamist terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and al Shabaab are known to operate, could be seeking to enter the U.S. to do Americans harm.

Gen. Kelly mentioned that a group of Liberians were spotted on the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border on their way into the U.S. illegally. Costa Rica borders Panama.

Breitbart News, citing a leaked report from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), reported that illegal aliens from Somalia with ties to terrorist organizations have been working to bring other suspected terrorists into America through the Texas border.

In 2014, at least 474 illegals from terrorist-linked countries, some of them located in Africa, were apprehended trying to enter the U.S.

One Diagram That Will Change the Way You Look At the world Economy

21 July 2015

The US is by far the largest economy in the World, with a nominal GDP of $17.4 trillion in 2014.However, it is not the World leader in all economic sectors: the US is a service-based economy, with a smaller focus on agriculture and industry than other countries (though its industrial and agricultural sectors are still the second- and third-largest in the World due to the sheer size of the US economy).

The graphic above (Voroni diagram) represents the relative size of each country’s economy in terms of nominal GDP: the larger the area, the larger the size of the economy. The areas are further divided into three sectors: services, industrial, and agricultural. The US economy is mostly composed of companies engaged in providing services (79.7% compared to the global average of 63.6%), while agriculture and industry make up smaller-than-average of portions of the economy (1.12% and 19.1% compared to averages of 5.9% and 30.5%).

The next largest economy, China, is roughly balanced between industry and services (though the service sector is growing at a faster rate), with a 9.1% contribution from agriculture. In this sense, China is a bit of an anomaly: other rich countries have service sectors that greatly outweigh both industry and agriculture. Over the past several decades, China has leveraged its competitive advantage and designed industrial policies to incent manufacturing in the country. But as China grows, it will continue to transition to a service-based economy. Similarly, India will see a decrease in agriculture’s contribution to its GDP and an increase in the size of the service sector.

Over time, the service sectors of developed nations have tended to grow relative to the other sectors. But are there limits to this trend? What is the natural size of each sector?

If you have any thoughts on this subject, drop us a line! We would love your feedback.

Sign up below for a future update from HowMuch on the release of its super-detailed cost of living analysis, based on geography and demographics

The 2015 edition of the ranking has been released

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) publishes the only global university ranking that measures the quality of education and training of students as well as the prestige of the faculty members and the quality of their research without relying on surveys and university data submissions.
CWUR uses eight objective and robust indicators to rank the world’s top 1000 universities:

1) Quality of Education, measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals relative to the university’s size [25%]
2) Alumni Employment, measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have held CEO positions at the world’s top companies relative to the university’s size [25%]
3) Quality of Faculty, measured by the number of academics who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals [25%]
4) Publications, measured by the number of research papers appearing in reputable journals [5%]
5) Influence, measured by the number of research papers appearing in highly-influential journals [5%]
6) Citations, measured by the number of highly-cited research papers [5%]
7) Broad Impact, measured by the university’s h-index [5%]
8) Patents, measured by the number of international patent filings [5%]
In addition to providing consultation for governments and universities, the Center for World University Rankings aims to provide the most comprehensive university rankings available, which are trusted by students, academics, university administrators, and government officials from around the world.

We have listed the top 20 and the last 20 universities from the ranking.

Top 20 Universities

Top 20 Universities

Last 20 Universities

Last 20 Universities

The brutal dictatorship the world keeps ignoring

On Monday, the United Nations released the results of a year-long investigation into human rights in Eritrea. What it found was horrific. Detailing “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations,” the U.N. commission of inquiry argued that Eritrea was operating a totalitarian government with no accountability and no rule of law.

“The commission also finds that the violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labor may constitute crimes against humanity,” the report said.

However, it appears the report failed to produce any mainstream outrage. Unlike similar U.N. reports on alleged crimes against humanity in North Korea, or online criticism of human rights abuses in places such as Saudi Arabia or Qatar, the horrific accusations against Eritrea didn’t produce a viral outcry.

Why not? It certainly doesn’t seem to be because of the severity of the accusations. Crimes against humanity are pretty much as serious as you can get, and it’s hard to read the United Nations’ full report and not be shocked.

It’s hard to imagine now, but hopes were initially high for Eritrea in 1993 after it gained independence from Ethiopia after 30 years of civil war. Since then, however, President Isaias Afwerki has clamped down and allowed no room for an opposition. The U.N. report described a Stasi-like police state that leaves Eritreans in constant fear that they are being monitored.

“When I am in Eritrea, I feel that I cannot even think because I am afraid that people can read my thoughts and I am scared,” one witness told the U.N. inquiry.

The system leads to arbitrary arrests and detention, with torture and even enforced disappearances a part of life in Eritrea, the U.N. probe found, and even those who commit no perceived crime often end up in arduous and indefinite national service that may amount to forced labor. Escape is not a realistic option for many: Those who attempt to flee the country are considered “traitors,” and there is a shoot-to-kill policy on the border, the report said.

A drawing provided to the U.N. by an Eritrean torture survivor.

A drawing provided to the U.N. by an Eritrean torture survivor

It’s also worth noting the significant effort and risk put into creating the report: The Eritrean government refused to allow the United Nations access to the country to investigate, so the U.N. team interviewed more than 550 witnesses in third countries and accepted 160 written submissions. Many approached by the United Nations declined to give testimony, even anonymously, citing a justifiable fear of reprisal.

Still, experts don’t seem too surprised at the lack of outrage generated by the report. “Clearly, Eritrea doesn’t capture the imagination, or rouse the conscience of Americans, much in the way North Korea does,” Jeffrey Smith, an advocacy officer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, explained. “President Afwerki, while unquestionably a chronic human rights abuser and eccentric despot, isn’t portrayed by the American media in the same way that Kim Jong Un is.”

“North Korea also makes headlines for other reasons — namely its nuclear ambitions and the ongoing threat it poses to regional stability in East Asia,” he added. “Similarly, while Eritrea is certainly a police state similar to North Korea in many ways, it’s largely kept out of the headlines because Africa in general doesn’t feature highly on the agenda of policymakers here in the United States.”

The fact is, while the scope and authority of the U.N. report lent its allegations an added weight, academics and human rights researchers had long written similar things about the Eritrean state without a significant mainstream response in America or Europe.

In 2014, for instance Human Rights Watch called Eritrea “among the most closed countries in the world” and pointed to “indefinite military service, torture, arbitrary detention, and severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and religion.” Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly ranked it as the worst country in the world for press freedom — worse even than North Korea.

“The U.N. report? We knew it already,” said Ismail Einashe, a Somali-British journalist who works with Eritrean migrants. “Too little, too late.”

Despite this, some reports on the country ignore this and focus on another aspect of Eritrea: Its unlikely tourism sector. International isolation, a history as an Italian colony and reported Qatari investment may have made Eritrea a unique if distasteful vacation destination: As one travel blogger put it last year, the capital of “Asmara felt much more like Naples than North Korea.”

Sara Dorman, an expert in African politics at Edinburgh University, doesn’t think much of either comparison.

“I don’t think it’s particularly helpful,” she said of the country’s reputation as the “North Korea of Africa.” At the same time, she stressed that Eritrea really does deserve to be seen as a special case. “As somebody who studies authoritarian regimes elsewhere in Africa, the Eritrean regime’s control over its population is qualitatively different than other African states,” Dorman said, before pointing to features such as the scale of Eritrea’s intelligence service and the practice of punishing entire families for the crimes of one member.

There are plenty of historical arguments for why the world should pay more attention to what’s happening in Eritrea. Former colonial rulers Italy and Britain have an obvious legacy there, and so does the United States, which allowed Ethiopia to incorporate Eritrea with the aim of keeping the U.S. Kagnew Station military base in the country. In addition, Eritrea has a difficult recent history with its East African neighbors: It’s currently under U.N. sanctions for supporting al-Shabab, the Somali Islamist group, and others in the region.

But one important reason to pay attention has become an unavoidable reality for Europe. Eritreans make up a large share of the migrants crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy boats to seek asylum in Europe: More than 22 percent of those who made the journey in 2014 were from the country, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, second only to Syrians. They flee not because of a civil war like that in Syria, but because of the immense restrictions the Eritrean state puts on their lives. As one escaped Eritrean put it, life there is a “psychological prison.”

Despite this, a number of European nations have recently tightened the restrictions on Eritrean migrants, many citing a Danish immigration reportfrom last November that prompted criticism from human rights groups. The European Union is also considering increasing the amount of aid it sends to Eritrea via the European Development Fund. Experts like Dorman hope that the U.N. report may lead some in Europe to reconsider.

“If organizations don’t take note of this report, we really have to wonder about how they make these decisions,” she said.

Still, even if they don’t, the report does have one very vocal audience: The Eritrean government and pro-government media. In a statement published on Tuesday, Eritrea called the U.N. report a”cynical political travesty” that was an attack “not so much on the government, but on a civilized people and society who cherish human values and dignity.”

Source: WP

Odds of Qatar Hosting the World Cup Slashed After Blatter’s Resignation

Qatar’s plan to host the 2022 World Cup might be in jeopardy after the head of soccer’s international governing body, Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, said he would resign.

The odds on Qatar, a country about the size of Connecticut, losing rights to the world’s most-watched sporting event were slashed to 5-4 from 5-1 on Tuesday at U.K. bookmaker William Hill. That means a successful $4 bet would return $5 plus the original stake. William Hill set odds of 4-7 that it still takes place in the desert state.

Qatar is spending about $200 billion on infrastructure for the event. The selection stirred controversy because of the country’s limited soccer tradition and the extreme temperatures in the June and July period when the tournament is usually held. Blatter’s FIFA changed the dates, which will force major leagues in Europe to change their schedules. Qatar has also been criticized by rights groups over the conditions for migrant workers building the new stadiums.

Swiss prosecutors have opened a probe into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively, after a U.S.-led investigation that focused on alleged corruption in earlier decisions over venues.

“The big issue now is if the event doesn’t happen in Qatar,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Sonia Baldeira said in an interview before Blatter’s announcement. “Many infrastructure projects that have already been awarded can be at the risk of being canceled or delayed.”

Separate Issue

Qatar’s benchmark QE Index for equities dropped 4.1 percent in the two days after the FIFA probe was announced last week, with declines driven by real estate and bank stocks. Shares recouped most of the losses this week, and rose 0.1 percent on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Qatari committee in charge of World Cup preparations declined to comment on Blatter’s resignation and said it was a separate issue from hosting the tournament. The committee said in a statement on Friday that it “fully complied” with investigations of the World Cup bidding process and plans to host a “successful” tournament in 2022.

Not ‘Catastrophic’

Blatter was re-elected to a fifth four-year term as president of FIFA last week but said Tuesday he will call a special congress sometime between December and March to elect his successor.

The organization has been under scrutiny after U.S. authorities unveiled a criminal investigation into bribes and tax issues of several FIFA executives with a raid on a Swiss luxury hotel last week.

Qatar’s plan includes at least eight new stadiums and a $35 billion metro and rail system. New highways are being laid and a city for 200,000 people is rising north of Doha, the capital.

Slowing the pace of construction and scrapping plans for expensive stadiums that won’t be needed after the championship may create “efficiencies” that benefit Qatar, according to John Sfakianakis, the Riyadh-based director of the Middle East at Ashmore Group Plc.

“Losing the World Cup wouldn’t have a catastrophic impact on the economy,” Sfakianakis said before Blatter’s decision. “Qatar will still need to spend on infrastructure, but instead of doing it by 2022 it can do it by 2030.”

Source: Bloomberg

The surprising reason the US is prosecuting the FIFA case

Source: VOX

The United States is pursuing corruption charges against 14 current and former officials from FIFA, the global governing body for international soccer, federal prosecutorsannounced Wednesday.

There is some irony in the fact that this case is being brought by US federal prosecutors. The United States is famously uninterested in soccer, which lags behind (American) football, basketball, and baseball in popularity. So what’s this case doing in a Brooklyn court?

Part of the explanation is that many US federal laws have a global sweep — especially those that involve financial wrongdoing. As long as there is some “nexus” with the US to provide jurisdiction, such as the involvement of a US financial institution or a US citizen, then US attorneys often can and do prosecute wrongdoing that took place primarily overseas. For instance, in 2014 former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo was sentenced to six years in US federal prison for laundering money through US banks. The corruption at the core of the case took place in Guatemala — Portillo was accused of using the office of the president as his “personal ATM” — but the nexus with US banks was enough for him to be prosecuted by US courts.

That’s why the indictment focuses so much on what it refers to as the “centrality of the US financial system” to the alleged crimes: the use of US financial institutions gives prosecutors jurisdiction to prosecute the cases.

But the FIFA case actually has much stronger connections to the United States than one might have guessed.

The New York Times reports that the indictment was built on information obtained from former FIFA executive Chuck Blazer — a US citizen. Blazer, who was the general secretary of CONCACAF, the regional organization governing soccer in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, secretly pleaded guilty in 2013 to charges including wire fraud, racketeering, money laundering, and tax evasion. Bloomberg describes him as a “former Westchester soccer dad.” Several other defendants are US citizens. And one of the corporate entities that already pleaded guilty is a US company, Traffic Sports USA.

CONCACAF  has its principal administrative office is in Miami. And soccer is growingmore popular in the US, which has raised the value of the marketing rights that were obtained through bribes.

In other words, this isn’t just a case of a federal prosecutor aggressively targeting conduct overseas. This is a case in which US individuals and a US company conspired to commit crimes with foreign co-conspirators, using US financial institutions, in order to exploit US and foreign markets. Viewed through that lens, it’s not surprising that the Justice Department decided that this was a good use of US federal resources.

‘Assimilation’ to ‘genocide’: Australia acknowledges stolen generations

Forcible separation […] since the very first days of the European occupation of Australia.

Assimilation, reconciliation, ‘Stronger Futures’ and genocide are just some of the labels given to Australia’s policy of removing mostly mixed-race children from their families between 1910 and the 1970s.

May 26 marks an annual ‘National Day of Healing’ – formerly known as ‘National Sorry Day’ – acknowledging the ‘stolen generations’: an estimated 50,000 children taken from their families across more than six decades. Many were never reunited with their relatives.

Officials and some missionaries claimed the relocation of indigenous children was done with good intent, arguing that mainstream society offered more advantages, Time magazine reports. However, this seems to be contradicted by A. O. Neville, Australia’s Commissioner for Native Affairs during the 1930s. He reportedly said that the only way to assimilate people of Aboriginal lineage was by “breeding out the colour.”

‘Bringing them Home’

On May 26, 1997, Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission presented parliament with the results of an inquiry into the alleged mistreatment of children over the decades-long period.

The 680-page ‘Bringing Them Home’ report was damning. Originally dubbed policies of ‘assimilation’ and ‘protection’, the practices carried out during the period by ‘Native Affairs’ officials were described as “an act of genocide, aimed at wiping out indigenous families, communities, and cultures.”

It found that successive governments, as well as religious bodies, had been complicit in the “forcible separation” of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families “since the very first days of the European occupation of Australia.”

Three main recommendations came from the inquiry: for funding to be made available to indigenous organisations to help chronicle their history; for reparations to be made to those forcibly removed from their relatives; for the Australian government to make an official apology and acknowledge their predecessors’ responsibility for the laws, policies and practices of forcible removal.


While an annual ‘National Sorry Day’ was established exactly a year after the publication of the report, other recommendations proved to be easier said than done.

The final point was a particularly thorny issue. At the time of the report being published, Conservative John Howard was Prime Minister of Australia. He, notably, refused to issue a formal apology, instead expressing “deep and sincere regret that indigenous Australians suffered injustices under the practices of past generations.” His excuse: the then government of Australia “was not responsible for the actions of past governments” and “admissions of wrongdoing could open the door to compensation suits.”

Ten years after the implementation of ‘National Sorry Day,’ Kevin Rudd made a formal apology to Australia’s indigenous people. A day after being sworn in as prime minister, the leader of the Labor Party vowed to “remove a great stain from the nation’s soul, and in a true spirit of reconciliation to open a new chapter.” He added: “I want to be blunt about this. There will be no compensation.” Described by the Sydney Morning Herald as a “shrewd manoeuvre”, Rudd’s statement was perceived to have “cleared away a piece of political wreckage in a way that responds to some of its own supporters’ emotional needs, yet changes nothing.”

While compensation may not have been forthcoming, Rudd did go on to set aside a 4.5 million-dollar (3.2 million-euro) budget to close gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in health, education and unemployment. In a later New York Times interview, Rudd described the apology as “the spiritual bridge that is necessary to be crossed before you can start doing practical stuff.”

Source: Euronews