Kung Fu Meditation: Staying in Your Power Center

By Stacey Nemour – who is a black belt in Kung Fu, and a highly respected martial artist

Kung-fu is an art that entails not only self defense skills and getting in shape, but also teaches about the development of mind, body and spirit and how one can grow in all aspects of life. When our personal awareness is cultivated from within these three areas, it will reflect in our relationships with all people, the planet and the universe. In China, the spiritual and physical realms are traditionally not seen as separate.

In martial arts an important grounding force is learning to originate all your moves from the tan tian, (known as the sea of chi.) The psychic center that protects the center of gravity and produces a reservoir of force from which one can draw energy. It is located about two inches below the navel and inward in the body. In the martial arts tradition, it is the source of all power; our life force. Chi is defined as energy that can be directed through visualization from the tan tien to places outside the body. It is from this center that martial artists draw power to break concrete. When you study martial arts, you learn to use the breath to create a connection between the mover and the movement. Sometimes, when we are under pressure, threatened or intimidated, we move away from our power center into our head, where we can undermine ourselves. This rooting power centers the mind and body, so it is difficult to be dislodged or intimidated. From here you are able to control your mental states.

In martial art classes, white belts can be the most dangerous to spar with and are most likely to hurt you. Once while sparring with a white belt ground fighter, I had the advantage and this outraged my opponent. She lost control and flipped my legs behind my head, putting her full weight on me until my sternum separated from my ribs. I had to be rushed to the emergency room. A highly ranked martial artist will remain calm, unemotional and will have mastered their ego. It would be safest to spar with a partner such as this.

The spirit and feeling in training should be harmonious, working together as partners, not opponents. Working with another person helps both progress more rapidly. Working against someone is dangerous, as a calm disposition is essential in order to act with accurate judgment of your partner’s movement.

Success is measured not by rank, but how the student’s life improves. By learning to manage energy and emotions, and letting go of the need to be right, students become masters over their actions, rather than prisoners of their reactions. In ancient cultures, students studying martial arts disciplines did not practice to obtain a rank or belt. They practiced to develop themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. In Kung-fu, T’ai Chi and Karate the competitor seeks to lose all distractions of ego, analysis and self-referring thoughts, immersing him or herself completely within the activity. This is also known as being in the zone or flow.

In life there are many levels on which we can be attacked, but not just physically. Being centered physically reflects in being centered emotionally. How this translates into daily life is by not overreacting, avoiding conflict, standing ground, and allowing others to have their opinion without feeling like you have to convince them that you are right.

If you allow yourself to become defensive, a cycle is set in motion and, before you know it, the conflict has spiraled into negativity that has nothing to do with the truth at hand. Instead of making people over in a certain image or trying to force them to do things in a certain way, if we practice detachment, compassion and acceptance we create harmony. This positive state of mind prevents us from getting pulled into things that don’t serve us or the higher good.

Part of the training in martial arts includes learning how to fall and to trust that you won’t get hurt. We are often afraid of falling and hurting ourselves literally and figuratively. This can manifest as common fears … fear of failure, falling in love and of the unknown. In all of our lives we sometimes fall or feel out of control. Learning how to fall physically without hurting yourself and bouncing right back up is an empowering lesson that teaches us we can come back from anything with speed and wisdom.

In meditation or moving meditation, we have access to an inner sanctuary to retreat; a safe haven, a place no one can ever touch or destroy, available to us at any time.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacey-nemour/kung-fu-meditation-stayin_b_607042.html

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Why The END Of Cheap Chinese Labor Is Near

After the suicide deaths of ten workers (and three attempted suicides), Foxconn, the world’s largest contract maker of electronics and a large producer of Apple products, said that within three months it would double the salaries of many of its assembly line workers, reports the New York Times.

By Huffington Post

Last month, nearly 2,000 Chinese workers went on strike at a Honda transmission factory in southern China. The strike eventually spread across the mainland, halting production at all four of Honda’s factories in China.

One Honda worker on strike posted a question online to his fellow workers: “Our parents have suffered from this cheap labor market and now they are getting old. Do we want to follow in the footstep of our parents?”

A new generation is shaking China’s labor landscape, according to Reuters. With the support of the Chinese government, they are demanding higher wages. And if recent weeks are any indication, companies that depend on them to mass-produce electronics, auto parts and other goods sold around the world will answer their call.

The end of cheap Chinese labor may be near. Here are some of the most telling signs:

Follow link for more photos -> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/08/why-the-end-of-cheap-chin_n_600330.html

Beijing’s Minimum Wage

According to the Global Times, on June 6th the Beijing municipal government announced it would raise its minimum wage 20 percent to about $140 a month. Thirty provinces or municipalities have raised or will raise their minimum wage this year, the paper reports.

What I Learned About Eating And Living From Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Geneen Roth – Author of eight books, including the New York Times bestselling When Food Is Love.

A few months ago, my husband gave me Team of Rivals — Doris Kearns Goodwin’ s book about Abraham Lincoln. I’ve never been a history buff, and I wasn’t particularly interested in Lincoln (which I realize is terribly un-American) and so I dismissed the book as one of those spousal-gifts, like the cappuccino maker he gave me on our first Valentines Day together (instead of the peridot earrings about which I’d dropped many graceful hints). But it turns out I was wrong about Lincoln. Very wrong.

Although I’ve never been a groupie — and I suppose it’s stretching it to describe myself that way when the idol in question has been dead for 145 years — I am unabashedly smitten with Abraham Lincoln. I dream about him, think about him, ask myself what he would do in difficult situations. I’ve learned a huge amount from him about everything from friendship to happiness to success against all odds. And although at 6’4″ and very thin, Lincoln was definitely not a compulsive eater, I’ve gleaned endless pearls from his life about how to handle the desire to eat compulsively — and what really matters. Given his magnanimity, I don’t think he would mind if I shared them with you:

Looks Aren’t Everything: We obsess about our thighs, butts, arms, bellies, as if the shape of our bodies and the lines around our eyes determine our worth as human beings. But consider this: Lincoln was not a traditionally attractive man; he was described as having a hatchet face and rooster hair. Ouch. He was so tall that his pants were perpetually too short, and the sleeves on his jackets didn’t reach his wrists. But he knew that the size of his body did not determine his self-worth. He knew that having a bad hair day did not mean anything about his inherent value. The next time you’re tempted to eat after looking in the mirror or trying on a pair of pants that are a teeny bit too tight, remember the words of our famous president: “The Lord prefers common-looking people. That’s why he made so many of them.”

Take Time Everyday to Do what You Love: Sometimes we get so caught up in the have-to’s of our lives, sometimes we feel so rushed and stressed, that we make the choice to drop out the electives — the rest time, the reading time, the play time. Food looks awfully attractive at those moments because we can stuff it in as we rush from errand to errand. But, as I’ve learned from our 16th president, you can’t do your job well unless you take care of yourself at the same time. In his first years as president, Lincoln went to the theater more than a hundred times. He took daily carriage rides with his family and friends. He read books he loved, recited poetry out loud. He understood the value of nourishing himself daily, of stopping the have-to’s and engaging in the want-to’s. Take note, all ye who eat cupcakes on the way to pick up your kids and take them to soccer: Take time for yourself. If someone who ran the country while managing a civil war could do that, so can you.

Don’t Pay Attention to Criticism: I often get letters from people who tell me that they turn to food when their friends or families or bosses speak to them in words that are less than kind. It’s important, I tell them, to leave the criticism where it belongs: in the mind of the person who makes it. When someone criticizes me, or doesn’t like my writing, I remind myself that Lincoln’s critics were merciless: they called him dumb, ignorant, a buffoon. Think about this: If he had let his critics stop him or affect what he was doing, slavery might still be in existence today. He said, “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business.” Ask yourself how you allow the internal or external critics to shut your life down. Then, use Lincoln as a role model and don’t let them.

Be outrageous: your quirks are important: Don’t try to fit yourself into everyone else’s ideals. Love what is different about you. The way you walk, talk, think. Your crooked nose, the birthmark on your right hand, the fact that you are passionate about understanding your relationship with food. “It has been my experience,” Lincoln said, “that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.” What a guy.

Never Miss an Opportunity to Laugh: Most of us are so terribly serious about our issues with food. We suffer, we groan, we feel sorry for ourselves that our metabolisms are slow or that we can’t eat the whole thing. But one moment of laughter, one joke, one streak of levity can remind us that our perspective has shrunk and that goodness abounds. Despite the seriousness of the ongoing war and his many responsibilities, Lincoln was known for cracking jokes during cabinet meetings that were high with tension. He said, “With the fearful strain that is on me day and night, if I did not laugh, I should die.” To that I say, if he could laugh during the middle of a civil war, we can laugh in the middle of any ol’ time in our lives. Laughter breaks the need to eat. It reminds you that goodness abounds.

Anything is Possible: For the first four years that Lincoln was president — during his entire first term — it looked as if the North was going to lose the war. In June of 1864, five months before the election, every paper in the country predicted that Lincoln would not be elected for a second term. And yet, miraculously, and against all odds, General Sherman marched into Atlanta and Ulysses Grant captured Richmond, and soon after that, the war was won. When asked if he ever doubted the outcome of the war, Lincoln said, “Not for a moment.” Think about the times in your life when it seems as if everything is going wrong. When it looks as if you are going to lose what you’ve been working for. Notice your first reaction. Is it to turn to potato chips and pizza? Is it to give up and say that you’ve lost, the other side is stronger? Instead of the dive into food at those times, make your resolution stronger. Stay steady on your course. Let Lincoln be your guide.

Take Your Time: The pain from compulsive eating can be so intense that we become impatient with ourselves. We want to wake up thin tomorrow. We want the whole thing to go away. Then we become willing to undertake quick methods to lose weight, only to fail for the 100th time and fall into a cycle of despair and hopelessness. The truth is that if we’ve been using food to distract or numb ourselves for years, then it’s going to take some time to unwind the pattern. During his presidency, Lincoln was often criticized for not moving fast enough, for not making speedy decisions but he didn’t let the pressure force him to doing anything before he was ready. He said, “I walk slowly but I never walk backward.” Take your time to do what feels right to you. Remember that the quicker you go, the more time it takes to get to your goal.

Diets Don’t Work: Since Lincoln was 6’4″ and rather skinny, and since the fashion for women in the 1860’s was not what it is today–rail-thin– he didn’t exactly speak to this issue of diets. But what he did say was that “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce is strictly.” And I am almost certain that he would forgive me (he was, besides being brilliant, incredibly forgiving) for using his statement as a reminder that being strict and rigid do not lead to change. Healing and change happen through understanding and acceptance, not through force, deprivation, guilt or punishment. Love heals, shame does not.

Be Your Own Best Friend: No one knows, not even your closest friend or your spouse, what it’s like to be you. To wake up in your skin, to live with the mixture of feelings, thoughts, impulses, dreams, conflicts, and passions, that are utterly unique to you. Ask for help. Seek counsel. But know that in the end, it is you, your heart, your guidance, your wisdom that you must trust. Notice what knocks at the door of your heart, what enlivens you, what inspires you, what energizes you. Follow that. Trust that. You will never be sorry. Lincoln said, “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end … I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.” From his venerable mouth to our vulnerable hearts, may it always be so.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geneen-roth/what-i-learned-about-eati_b_459130.html

Matt Taibbi Blasts David Brooks For Haiti Column: ‘Wait Until After The Bodies Were Cold’

Matt Taibbi

Translating David Brooks

A friend of mine sent a link to Sunday’s David Brooks column on Haiti, a genuinely beautiful piece of occasional literature. Not many writers would have the courage to use a tragic event like a 50,000-fatality earthquake to volubly address the problem of nonwhite laziness and why it sometimes makes natural disasters seem timely, but then again, David Brooks isn’t just any writer.
Rather than go through the Brooks piece line by line, I figured I’d just excerpt a few bits here and there and provide the Cliff’s Notes translation at the end. It’s really sort of a masterpiece of cultural signaling — if you live anywhere between 59th st and about 105th, you can hear the between-the-lines messages with dog-whistle clarity.  Some examples:

This is not a natural disaster story. This is a poverty story. It’s a story about poorly constructed buildings, bad infrastructure and terrible public services. On Thursday, President Obama told the people of Haiti: “You will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten.” If he is going to remain faithful to that vow then he is going to have to use this tragedy as an occasion to rethink our approach to global poverty. He’s going to have to acknowledge a few difficult truths.
The first of those truths is that we don’t know how to use aid to reduce poverty. Over the past few decades, the world has spent trillions of dollars to generate growth in the developing world. The countries that have not received much aid, like China, have seen tremendous growth and tremendous poverty reductions. The countries that have received aid, like Haiti, have not.
In the recent anthology “What Works in Development?,” a group of economists try to sort out what we’ve learned. The picture is grim. There are no policy levers that consistently correlate to increased growth. There is nearly zero correlation between how a developing economy does one decade and how it does the next. There is no consistently proven way to reduce corruption. Even improving governing institutions doesn’t seem to produce the expected results.
The chastened tone of these essays is captured by the economist Abhijit Banerjee: “It is not clear to us that the best way to get growth is to do growth policy of any form. Perhaps making growth happen is ultimately beyond our control.”

TRANSLATION: Don’t bother giving any money, it doesn’t do any good. And feeling guilty about not giving money doesn’t do anyone any good either. In fact, you’re probably helping by not doing anything.

The second hard truth is that micro-aid is vital but insufficient. Given the failures of macrodevelopment, aid organizations often focus on microprojects. More than 10,000 organizations perform missions of this sort in Haiti. By some estimates, Haiti has more nongovernmental organizations per capita than any other place on earth. They are doing the Lord’s work, especially these days, but even a blizzard of these efforts does not seem to add up to comprehensive change.

TRANSLATION: I, David Brooks, am doing my Christian best right here at home. Look, I even used a capital “L” in the word “Lord.” And I wrote that thing about Obama’s Christian Realism a few weeks ago. So I‘m doing my part. Of course I’d volunteer to help, but intellectually I just don’t think volunteering really helps. I mean, there are studies and everything.

Third, it is time to put the thorny issue of culture at the center of efforts to tackle global poverty. Why is Haiti so poor? Well, it has a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism. But so does Barbados, and Barbados is doing pretty well. Haiti has endured ruthless dictators, corruption and foreign invasions. But so has the Dominican Republic, and the D.R. is in much better shape. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island and the same basic environment, yet the border between the two societies offers one of the starkest contrasts on earth — with trees and progress on one side, and deforestation and poverty and early death on the other.
As Lawrence E. Harrison explained in his book “The Central Liberal Truth,” Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10.
We’re all supposed to politely respect each other’s cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them.

TRANSLATION: Although it is true that Haiti was just like five minutes ago a victim of a random earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people, I’m going to skip right past the fake mourning period and point out that Haitians are a bunch of lazy niggers who can’t keep their dongs in their pants and probably wouldn’t be pancaked under fifty tons of rubble if they had spent a little more time over the years listening to the clarion call of white progress, and learning to use a freaking T-square, instead of singing and dancing and dabbling in not-entirely-Christian religions and making babies all the fucking time. I know I’m supposed to respect other cultures and keep my mouth shut about this stuff, but my penis is only four and a third inches long when fully engorged and so I’m kind of at the end of my patience just generally, especially when it comes to “progress-resistant” cultures.

Fourth, it’s time to promote locally led paternalism. In this country, we first tried to tackle poverty by throwing money at it, just as we did abroad. Then we tried microcommunity efforts, just as we did abroad. But the programs that really work involve intrusive paternalism.
These programs, like the Harlem Children’s Zone and the No Excuses schools, are led by people who figure they don’t understand all the factors that have contributed to poverty, but they don’t care. They are going to replace parts of the local culture with a highly demanding, highly intensive culture of achievement — involving everything from new child-rearing practices to stricter schools to better job performance.
It’s time to take that approach abroad, too. It’s time to find self-confident local leaders who will create No Excuses countercultures in places like Haiti, surrounding people — maybe just in a neighborhood or a school — with middle-class assumptions, an achievement ethos and tough, measurable demands.
The late political scientist Samuel P. Huntington used to acknowledge that cultural change is hard, but cultures do change after major traumas. This earthquake is certainly a trauma. The only question is whether the outside world continues with the same old, same old.

TRANSLATION: The best thing we can do for the Haitians is let them deal with the earthquake all by themselves and wallow in their own filth and shitty engineering so they can come face to face with how achievement-oriented and middle-class they aren’t. Then when it’s all over we can come in and institute a program making the survivors earn the right to keep their kids by opening their own Checkers’ franchises and completing Associate’s Degrees in marketing at the online University of Phoenix. Maybe then they’ll learn the No Excuses attitude real life demands, so the next time something like this happens they won’t be pulling this “woe is us” act and bawling their fucking eyes out on CNN while begging for fresh water and band-aids and other handouts. Maybe that will happen, or maybe we’ll just keep sending money, fools that we are, so that they can keep making more of those illiterate ambitionless babies we’ll have to pull out of the next disaster wreckage.

p.s. Did I miss anything? Because I think that’s pretty much it. One would have thought a column on the Haitian’s lack of an achievement culture could maybe wait until after the bodies were cold, but… hey, who am I to judge?

p.p.s. I’ve got to put this comment up on the main piece, since so many people seem to have missed my point.

Again, unlike Brooks, I actually lived in the Third World for ten years and I admit it — I’m not exactly in the habit of sending checks to Abkhazian refugees, mainly because I’m not interested in buying some local Russian gangster a new Suzuki Samurai to tool around Sochi in. And I’ve actually seen what happens to the money people think they’re giving to Russian orphanages goes, so no dice there, either.

But you know what? Next time there’s an earthquake in Russia or Georgia, I’m probably going to wait at least until they’re finished pulling the bodies of dead children out of the rubble before I start writing articles blasting a foreign people for being corrupt, lazy drunks with an unsatisfactorily pervasive achievement culture whose child-rearing responsibilities might have to be yanked from them by with-it Whitey for their own good.

An earthquake is nobody’s fault. There’s nothing to do after a deadly earthquake but express remorse and feel sorry. It’s certainly not the time to scoff at all the victim country’s bastard children and put it out there on the Times editorial page that if these goddamned peasants don’t get their act together after a disaster this big, it might just be necessary to start swinging the big stick of Paternalism at them.

I mean, shit, that’s what Brooks is doing here — that last part of the piece is basically a threat, he’s saying that Haiti might have to be FORCED to adopt “middle-class assumptions” and an “achievement ethos” because they’re clearly incapable of Americanizing themselves at a high enough rate of speed to please Brooks. That’s this guy’s immediate reaction to 50,000 people crushed to death in an earthquake. Metaphorically speaking, he’s standing over the rubble and telling the people trapped under there that they need more of a “No Excuses” culture, which is insane on many different levels.

Brooks’s implication that the Haitians wouldn’t have died in such great numbers had they been Americans is the kind of thing that is going to come back to bite us the next time we have a nuclear accident or a hurricane disaster or a 9/11 and we’re looking to the rest of the world for sympathy and understanding.

http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi/2010/01/18/translating-david-brooks-haiti/

Architecture for Humanity’s Long-term Haiti Relief Plan

Posted by Willem Van Lancker

Architecture for Humanity, the non-profit architecture and design network of over 40,000 professional architects, engineers, and designers has issued a sweeping long-term reconstruction plan to help the over 2-3 million people without shelter. In just four days they’ve raised over $45,000 in individual donations and have pledges by a number of companies.

Click here to donate to Architecture for Humanity’s efforts.

A brief synopsis of AfH’s plan:

Our Current PlanRight now the need is relief and recovery but very soon it will be long term reconstruction. Beyond the pre-existing issues with the building stock we need to think about upgrading and restoring in a sustainable manner. The NGOs focused on rebuilding need to be aware that in areas of great need structures are usually rebuilt in unsafe ways by well intentioned volunteers.

As we survey the damage, and in talking with our partners, what we think would help is a recovery centers – much like the ones we help develop after Hurricane Katrina. The two Katrina studios, supported by local partners and staffed with our building professionals, were integral in the housing of hundreds of families in East Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana. If there is to be a community led long term reconstruction initiative for Haiti, we need to do the same.

Three reasons this is important:

1) Aid organizations, especially local groups, will know where they can go to get professional design and construction services. We can serve not one organization doing one project, but many. When we get it setup, they know they can walk in any day at any time to get professional help. This will prevent a lot of shoddy construction. We can host training sessions in job site safety and in basic building. Make sure that these volunteers really do have the skills and knowledge they need to build safely in a seismic and hurricane zone. We can engage local officials and coordinate the services we and they provide better.

2) Volunteer professionals who want to come down for a week or a month or just a few days will have a place to check in and be helpful doing damage assessments, housing plans, etc. Architects and engineers partnering with NGOs will have a local place where they can touch down, understand the local building codes and conditions. They can design remotely and know that someone will be shepherding the project on the ground and assisting as they need it. At the same time the services will have some continuity and the community will have a place they know they can come for design and construction help.

3) All of the work produced in these centers are shared openly, under Creative Commons license, and distributed through the Open Architecture Network. By connecting with other NGOs and open sourcing construction documents we can influence many building programs in the region. We can leave a legacy of innovative locally appropriate solutions to protect from future disasters (inc. hurricanes and climate change)

To learn more visit Architecture for Humanity’s Haiti Reconstruction website, follow and spread the word AfH Founder Cameron Sinclair on twitter, or donate directly to the American Red Cross.

http://www.core77.com/blog/broadcasts/architecture_for_humanitys_long-term_haiti_relief_plan_15744.asp

Biker-centered design in Denmark

Posted by Mark Vanderbeeken

Check the railings that the man is holding onto and resting his foot on. It’s located on a little Copenhagen traffic island where cyclists often wait, reports Copenhagenize.com.

The City of Copenhagen has implemented this double railing simply as a convenience for the cyclists who stop here. A high railing to grasp with your hand and a foot railing for putting your foot up, if that’s what you fancy doing. Either way you can also use the railing to push off when the light changes.

The foot rest reads: “Hi, cyclist! Rest your foot here… and thank you for cycling in the city.”

It certainly is a fine example of the City understanding human behaviour and basic anthropology.

>> Read article

http://www.core77.com/blog/object_culture/biker-centered_design_in_denmark_15746.asp

Guatemala pushes for DNA tests of kids adopted in U.S.

For three years Olga Lopez desperately searched for her baby daughter who was snatched from her home in Guatemala, until her face appeared in government paperwork for an international adoption.

Lopez, along with two other mothers who also believe their children were stolen and put up for U.S. adoption, pushed Guatemala to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to track down the babies and give them DNA tests so they can be returned.

“I recognized my daughter from her photo in the adoption files but there’s always the possibility that it’s not her. I don’t want to live in doubt. I want a DNA test,” Lopez said.

So far there has been no response from U.S. authorities, Lopez says. U.S. officials would not confirm they had received a formal request from Guatemala.

Guatemala, a small Central American country of 13 million people, used to have the world’s highest per capita adoption rate, with 5,000 children sent abroad each year. Private lawyers charged up to $50,000 to handle an adoption and sometimes forged papers or paid mothers to sell their children.

In December 2007, Guatemalan authorities introduced tough new rules to crack down on baby traffickers. A newly created adoption authority has not allowed a single international adoption since.

Some 3,000 cases that started under the previous adoption system are still in progress, with prosecutors promising to meticulously examine the files for fraud. So far, about half have been completed successfully, and the rest will likely be resolved by the end of January, said a spokesman for the new adoption authority.

But Loyda Rodriguez suspects the new system has cracks. Her 2-year-old daughter, Anyeli, was playing on the porch in the outskirts of Guatemala City when a woman grabbed her and sped off in a waiting taxi. Like other mothers whose babies were taken, she began scouring government adoption records to look for her daughter. She believes the baby was adopted by a couple in Missouri in December 2008.

Guatemala’s Attorney General’s office asked the United States in April of this year to test the three children, all adopted under the old system, after activist Norma Cruz went on a hunger strike to draw attention to the mothers’ plight.

Cruz wants Guatemalan courts to nullify the adoptions.

STOLEN CHILD FOUND

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala requires couples to have records of two matching DNA tests to issue a visa for an adopted child, but DNA results are sometimes faked by laboratories colluding with child traffickers, said Cruz’s organization of mothers, called the Survivors Foundation.

The new government adoption agency prioritizes local adoptions over international ones. But Guatemala said last month it would start sending babies abroad again on a limited basis, since some children have not found local homes.

Cruz says that problems persist despite the new controls.

“The networks behind illegal adoptions haven’t been disbanded and they’re still operating because they’ve been making exorbitant amounts of money. This is a million dollar business,” said Cruz.

Cruz began her campaign after Ana Escobar found her 8-month-old daughter, who had been kidnapped at gunpoint, in a government office in charge of handling adoptions about to be sent off to the United States.

Escobar recognized her daughter Esther by the crooked little fingers on both her hands and confirmed her identity with a DNA test in 2008 and got her baby back.

(Editing by Eric Beech)

http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre5b7418-us-guatemala-adoption/