Archive for September, 2011

Correa going to Elizabeth instead

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Remember how Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa was disinvited by Union City?

He’ll be going to Elizabeth instead.

Not as good a photo-op propaganda opportunity as being in a high school surrounded by young fresh faces, but a photo-op in the USA all the same.


What Argentina’s after: The Falklands oil

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Oil and the Falklands – the Saga Continues

British oil group Rockhopper Exploration has unveiled optimistic plans for a $2 billion oil infrastructure investment in the Falkland Islands announcing on 14 September that it expected to start pumping oil in 2016 from its four licensed Sea Lion concessions totaling 1,500 square miles, with a projected production rate of roughly 120,000 barrels of oil per day by 2018. Rockhopper Exploration said the fifth well in the Sea Lion complex “had found a high quality reservoir package and oil column.”

If this comes to full production,

If therefore Rockhopper Exploration’s drilling programs prove successful, a number of developments seem increasingly clear. First is that, depending on the political temperature in Buenos Aires, future activities may well need the protection of the Royal Navy.

Secondly is Latin America’s increasingly lining up behind Argentina’s claims to the islands, and Brazil recently stated that it would not allow British exploration vessels to use Brazilian ports to exploit any possible oil developments in the Falklands, Rockhopper Exploration will need to source virtually all of the necessary equipment from the other side of the Atlantic as well as possibly Britain, both major expenses for a company which states it has only $170 million of available cash. Furthermore should development go forward, then a total lack of access to Latin American hydrocarbon infrastructure support means that Rockhopper Exploration will probably be forced to use a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel to store and transport its output.

Last but not least, the de facto boycott by Latin America of any future Falklands oil production means that the oil at the very least will have to transit South Atlantic before reaching potential markets, further increasing both development costs and shrinking potential profits.

The article proposes joint ventures between Argentina and the Falklands.

Would that even be considered by the Argentinian politicians?


Market free fall today

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Breaking news at the WaPo,
U.S. stocks plunge after Fed action on bonds

U.S. stocks plummeted Thursday, following world markets as the global economic outlook appeared increasingly shaky, with investors reacting to a dour outlook on the U.S. economy from the Federal Reserve and fearing for the fate of European banks.

Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist of D.A. Davidson & Co., said the Fed’s policy shift “has raised more fears about the possibility of a recession” and that it “set off a chain of new questions when accompanied by a very negative Fed statement” about the U.S. economy.

And the markets don’t close for another hour and half.



Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Michelle Obama borrowed three very nice bracelets for Monday’s DNC fundraiser in New York (h/t Silvio),

If you’ve been saving your nickels and dimes, the cuffs are available locally at Judith Ann Jewels. The First Lady wore Katie’s Lotus cuff priced at $15,000 with 2.9 carats of diamonds, her Gothic cuff at $15,350 with 2.17 carats in diamonds and the Quatrefoil bracelet at $11,800 with 1.73 carats in diamonds.

The news is making a stir, considering the recent rumblings of class warfare; even NYC’s own mayor Bloomberg was saying there’ll be rioting on the streets. However the First Lady chose bracelets designed by Houston-based Texas A&M graduate Katie Decker, who will probably be able to hire more people, as Texas leads the nation on job creation:

The Lone Star State added 84,900 jobs in the field of professional and business services between the midpoints of 2006 and 2011.

That’s the kind of stimulus I favor.

DIfferent stimulus in fashion news comes from Paris, where Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández was strongly supporting the hotel and shoe industries:

Cristina Fernández and her daughter stayed at the luxurious “George V Hotel” ($1,500-$12,500 a night) in Paris during an official visit to France ahead of flying to New York for the United Nations General Assembly today.

Those of us who follow these stories may recall that terrorist Yasser Arafat’s widow lived at the 5-star Georges V for many years.

But I digress.

Before her meetings with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and other French officials, Cristina had the “George V Hotel’s Personal Shoppers” bring her several purses and pairs of shoes which she tried on in the comfort of her suite.

In addition to Louis Vuitton bags, Hermès Birkin and Kelly bag purses, the Argentine president purchased 20 pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes, at approximately $5,500 a pair.

You must be in Paris to get those. Here in the USA us plebes have to settle for the cheap Louboutins at Saks’s shoe department, all with the sought-after red sole,

The pair above retails for US$895, and certainly would be most appropriate for UN conclaves, even when you ought to miss the Durban III part where Ahmadinejad and Mugabe beat up on Israel.

For the budget-minded, I must admit that I own a pair of red-soled shoes,

Sharp-looking, but didn’t cost anywhere near Louboutin’s.

Ironically, they were made in Argentina.

Linked by The Other McCain. Thanks!


Union City disinvites Ecuadorian Pres. Correa

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Rafael Correa’s in the vicinity because of the UN General Assembly, so the thought he would drop by Union City High School on Friday.

Not so, said the city’s residents:

“It is evident that President Correa has associated with Fidel and Raul Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela,” said Union City Mayor Brian Stack in a statement. “Even associating with such regimes sends a terrible message to the world and condones the many evils that have been imposed on the residents of those nations.”

“For these reasons, I refuse to welcome President Correa to Union City.”

The announcement by Stack comes a day after he met with Cuban exile leaders who were outraged after learning that Correa – who is in the New York/New Jersey region because of the United Nations General Assembly — was going to be featured at an Ecuadorian event at Union City High School on Friday.

The Cuban exiles pressed for Correa to be dis-invited because of what they denounced as his oppressive government in Ecuador and his support for the Communist regime in Cuba as well as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“The mayor said he was going to cancel the event,” said Sergio Gatria, an exile leader who was at the meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the Former Cuban Political Prisoners organization. “He said he had no idea that his was planned at the high school, and that as long as he’s mayor, no dictator, or sympathizer of dictators and terrorists, would be welcome to Union City.”

“Correa supports dictators, is an oppressive leader and hobnobs with [Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This man is a sworn enemy of the United States. It is an affront to this community to roll out the red carpet for someone like that.”

In Ecuador, 7 radio broadcasters face sanctions for airing freedom of expression debate. Earlier this month, Reporters Without Borders asked Correa to stop attacks on the press, and

that the Ecuadorean government address several facets of its media policy and the proposed communications law that would create a state media oligopoly and regulate the awarding and confiscation of radio and television broadcasting rights, and to cease making offensive statements about the press

Correa’s visit to UCHS had been arranged by Ecuadorian officials.


“Say cheese!”, and today’s roundup

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

No, it was not photoshopped.


Iran released the two Americans on $1 million bail.

Report: At least 200 murders in Mexico now linked to Fast & Furious weapons, as Mexican officials learned of “Gunwalker” from news reports

In yesterday’s phone conference, Sen. Issa explained that the US- Mexico relationship has been seriously damaged. As the investigation finds more bodies, one has to wonder if the damage is irreparable

Around 1,500 of the guns went unaccounted for, about two-thirds of those guns ended up in Mexico, a border patrol agent was shot and killed with weapons that were sold as part of the operation, 57 Fast and Furious weapons have been connected to at least 11 violent crimes in the U.S., and in Mexico an unconfirmed toll of at least 200 people have been killed or wounded with other weapons linked to the botched effort.

And then there’s this: ATF agent suggests digging up dirt on Sen. Chuck Grassley to help forestall Gunwalker investigations


Tetrachromats, anyone?

I’ve only found this at El Herald, which is not yet in English-language media,
Spain arrested a Cuban accused of being a member of al-Qaeda. Among other activities, Ernesto Feliú Mora, age 26, allegedly posted 1,126 jihad-related videos.

And, on a lighter mode, Claude: to know him is to love him.


Just how much money does Warren Buffett’s secretary make?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

According to the WSJ, long-term capital gains and dividends are taxed as follows:

For taxpayers in the 15% income tax bracket and below, the rate is zero. For those in the 25% bracket and above, the rate is 15%

and the federal income tax rate for people earning $10,000,000 or more is 26.3%

Adjusted Gross Income, 2009 Average Federal
Income Tax Rate (%)
$10,000 to $15,000 6.8%
$15,000 to $20,000 6.6%
$20,000 to $25,000 8.7%
$25,000 to $30,000 9.7%
$30,000 to $40,000 10.0%
$40,000 to $50,000 10.6%
$50,000 to $75,000 11.6%
$75,000 to $100,000 12.3%
$100,000 to $200,000 16.3%
$200,000 to $500,000 24.6%
$500,000 to $1,000,000 28.8%
$1,000,000 to $1,500,000 29.4%
$1,500,000 to $2,000,000 29.6%
$2,000,000 to $5,000,000 29.7%
$5,000,000 to $10,000,000 29.1%
$10,000,000 or more 26.3%
Average 17.8%

Warren Buffett claims that his secretary is taxed at a higher rate than he. President Obama repeated that claim

“Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett.

She may be, if she’s pulling in a salary in the vicinity of $2-$5 million per year, claims no deductions, and has no capital gains.

Otherwise, the evidence doesn’t support Warren’s claim, particularly considering the various tax exemptions, deductions, etc., that change the numbers when you look at what people actually pay. Today Stephen Ohlemacher did a FACT CHECK: Are rich taxed less than secretaries?

This year, households making more than $1 million will pay an average of 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes and payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent of their income in federal taxes.
Lower-income households will pay less. For example, households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will pay an average of 12.5 percent of their income in federal taxes. Households making between $20,000 and $30,000 will pay 5.7 percent.
The latest IRS figures are a few years older — and limited to federal income taxes — but show much the same thing. In 2009, taxpayers who made $1 million or more paid on average 24.4 percent of their income in federal income taxes, according to the IRS.

Those making $100,000 to $125,000 paid on average 9.9 percent in federal income taxes. Those making $50,000 to $60,000 paid an average of 6.3 percent.

Obama’s claim hinges on the fact that, for high-income families and individuals, investment income is often taxed at a lower rate than wages. The top tax rate for dividends and capital gains is 15 percent. The top marginal tax rate for wages is 35 percent, though that is reserved for taxable income above $379,150.

We are being subjected to class-warfare propaganda.

Warren, since you think the government is doing such a stellar job of managing things, leave the rest of us alone, and put your money where your mouth is and give all your income and all of your assets to the government. I beg you.

In the meantime, pay up: Berkshire Hathaway Owes Taxes Going Back To 2002


The AFL-CIO vs. Guatemala

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Mary O’Grady reports on the AFL-CIO’s attempt to obstruct the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR):
Big Labor’s Yanqui Imperialism
The U.S. trade representative is trying to deny due process to Guatemala in defiance of free-trade agreement rules.

The action, according to the USTR, was born of an AFL-CIO petition—filed with six Guatemalan workers groups—which makes the same allegation. USTR says it, along with the Departments of Labor and State, analyzed the AFL-CIO claim and decided to pursue it because it “appeared” to be correct.

This is what they demand (emphasis added)

One of the U.S. demands is to add 100 labor inspectors to the government payroll immediately. Mr. Velásquez says that while Guatemala is willing to comply with the increase, the estimated cost, in the millions of dollars, is not in the current budget. Guatemala has said it will add the inspectors next year but that’s not good enough for Uncle Sam.

A second demand is to force all exporters to indemnify their workers against a company failure by buying a bond. Mr. Velásquez says that Guatemala’s constitutional court has said no to this because singling out exporters would be discriminatory. He also notes that U.S. exporters are under no such obligation.

Finally, and perhaps most egregiously, the U.S. wants Guatemala to give labor inspectors the authority to close a plant deemed to be in violation of the labor code. The trouble is, Mr. Velásquez points out, inspectors are not judges and the accused has the right to have the case heard in a court of law. Otherwise, he says, “we would turn our inspectors into emperors.” It is passing strange that the U.S. is trying to undermine Guatemala’s frail democracy in favor of the kinds of practices that occur in dictatorships.

More broadly, the AFL-CIO-inspired demands would raise costs for Guatemalan exporters and even drive them out of business.

Free trade? Not if the AFL-CIO has any say on it.


The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 19th, 2011

India Eyes Latin America
The South Asian giant’s burgeoning presence in the Western Hemisphere is unambiguously good for both Latin America and the United States.

Cristina, Guevara, la patria liberada

Big Fears on Big Food Prices

Evo Morales llegará a Cuba el domingo para reunirse con Raúl Castro
El presidente de Bolivia, Evo Morales, llegará el domingo a Cuba para una visita de trabajo de dos días durante la que se reunirá con el gobernante Raúl Castro, informó este sábado un comunicado oficial.

Bush, Bismarck and Brazil

Brazilian politics
A packed chessboard

The Road to Rio is America’s Road to Ruin

Rescued Chilean miner in rehab

New Chilean telescopes push the boundaries of astronomy
With two gigantic telescopes coming in the next decade, Chile is gaining a reputation as one of the best places in the world for stargazers.

Libyan rebels execute 10 Colombians thought to be FARC mercenaries

Paramilitaries and Colombia’s government
The biggest fish so far
: Jorge Noguera

Six Months for Letting Grandma Do His Laundry

Colombian mountain cyclists try to pedal out of poverty toward glory in Europe

Bill Richardson went to Cuba to intercede on Alan Gross’ behalf and was resoundedly turned down: Alberto de la Cruz writes on how the Obama State Dept. authorized Richardson to offer concessions in exchange for Gross

Taxes in Cuba
Get used to it
The Castros’ subjects get acquainted with that other sure thing

Trips Back to Cuba Draw Fire

Big Labor’s Yanqui Imperialism
The U.S. trade representative is trying to deny due process to Guatemala in defiance of free-trade agreement rules.

Good news: ATF’s Gunwalker may have helped Mexican cartels buy rocket launchers

Cloward-Piven: The Ultimate Goal of Gunwalker?
It’s hard to think of a more logical reason for Gunwalker to exist.

Free speech in Mexico
Be careful what you Tweet

Time for Another Reminder

Panamanian politics
With friends like these

Masked intruders rob casino in Puerto Rico

Officials: Teen goes on rampage at Puerto Rico school, stabbing 37 classmates with needle

Venezuelan government providing support to terrorist Carlos the Jackal

Human Rights Court rules in favor of Leopoldo Lopez, slaps Chavez tactic of illegally disqualifying opposition

Chavez is in Cuba for a 5th round of chemo, instead of going to the UN this week. He claims it’s “the last round.” Evo Morales stopped in Caracas and they both flew together.

Since Chavez is not going to NY, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit him in Caracas on his way back from the UN Assembly.

Smoke and Mirrors in the Chavez Revolution: Oil and Research

This is the lawyer of Chavez defending what cannot be defended

The week’s posts:
The AFL-CIO vs. Guatemala
Mexico’s cartels vs bloggers, part 3
Mexican cartels now going after bloggers, part 2
Venezuela to withdraw from the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes

At The Green Room,
Mexican cartels now going after bloggers


Saturday night Body and Soul

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Tony Bennet and Amy Winehouse,