A Raúl Sendic, candidato vicepresidencial de Uruguay, junto a Tabaré Vásquez, por el movimiento izquierdista Frente Amplio, del presidente José Mujica, le salpicó la “maldición“ del petróleo. Un cuestionado convenio de canje de crudo por derivados entre Ancap/Trafigura/Petroecuador que involucra USD 6.400 millones, empezó a pasar las primeras facturas, en medio de la campaña electoral. El escándalo ampliamente cubierto por la prensa uruguaya, hace referencia al libro Ecuador Made in China, y a una carta remitida al gobierno uruguayo y a varios legisladores de ese país.
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La referida cláusula del Convenio señala que Ecuador proveerá hasta 36000 barriles diarios de crudo, sin embargo en el contrato firmado el mismo día en Montevideo, se estableció la entrega de hasta 100000 barriles diarios, con lo que se violó el Convenio. Incluir un volumen de 100000 barriles día notificaba al más ingenuo que el crudo no estaba destinado a la refinería uruguaya, cuya capacidad máxima, cuando está operativa, es de 50000 barriles día, y de un crudo diferente al ecuatoriano. Al respecto, la Contraloría abona con conclusiones que dejan sin respuesta a los autores del Acuerdo: “se contrató con Ancap, sin que existan estudios técnicos que demuestren los beneficios para el país de una contratación directa”, señala en organismo.
The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund urged the appeals court to rule for Chevron on a highly technical but critical issue. You read that correctly: The nation’s oldest women’s-rights legal advocacy organization, a left-leaning group that helped enact the landmark 1994 Violence Against Women Act and represents victims of sexual harassment and spousal brutality, supports the multinational oil company in its struggle against a crusading lawyer who claims to represent the impoverished and oppressed.
Perhaps the most important legal scholar of his day, whose work on matters ranging from anti-trust to the complexities of privacy laws was both accessible and deeply considered, Bork was exactly the sort of choice serious-minded people should have welcomed. The Court had been in large measure the province of lightweights who were considered politically safe or somehow controllable, men who possessed no intellectual compass and were either the captives of their clerks or of the conventional wisdom. His nomination did the Court credit. It was an effort to elevate it.
But no. Nothing like the campaign to deny Bork the Supreme Court had ever been seen before. It was a systematic campaign of personal destruction undertaken by liberal interest groups who had come to see the growing conservatism of the Reagan-era judiciary as an existential threat to them. Only a year earlier, Antonin Scalia had been affirmed by a 98-0 vote in the Senate, but in the interim, Democrats had taken hold of the body in the 1986 elections and the stage was set for a new era of personal destruction in the pursuit of a supposedly higher good.
I had the honor of briefly meeting Judge Bork a few years ago. He was one of the most brilliant men of our times. Adam J. White points out that
The changed course of future Supreme Court nominations was the Bork nomination’s most obvious legacy, but that was not its only legacy. Indeed, the Bork nomination’s most significant impact may be not the manner in which Supreme Court justices are selected, but rather the content of constitutional law itself. For while Bork himself was pilloried for embracing an originalist approach to constitutional law, his nomination’s failure laid the basis for originalism’s eventual success. The Bork hearings galvanized conservatives and challenged them to refine originalism to achieve greater political effectiveness.
White concludes, “Only 25 years after Robert Bork suffered public defeat at the hands of Ted Kennedy and the left, the most interesting question in constitutional law is not whether conservatives can prevail with originalism, but whether liberals can prevail without it. Welcome to Robert Bork’s America.”
No doubt Fidel Castro will die, and keeping track of the rumors has become a pastime not only for all Cubans but also for all Latin America watchers – including the ones, like myself, who bring up the Zombie Fidel. And Cubans are restless.
This at first sounds like progress. But it doesn’t come close to setting Cubans free to roam the world. Citizens will still be required to secure a passport validation stamp, and for many Cubans the costs will add up to more than the fee for the white card. The stamp can also be withheld at the discretion of the regime.
As spelled out in the law, scientists, doctors and anyone deemed to be of high value to the state will have a hard time getting permission to travel—and even if they get it, they will have to wait five years between filing an application and actually boarding a plane. An editorial in the Cuban state newspaper last week said that the regime intends to protect itself from “the theft of talent applied by the powerful,” i.e., the U.S. The law also stipulates a catchall rejection category marked “defense and national security interests.” Translation: Nobody gets out without the dictator’s blessing.
HAVANA — Fidel Castro has appeared in public for the first time in months, a top hotel executive told The Associated Press on Sunday, challenging persistent rumors that the aging revolutionary is near death.
The 86-year-old leader dropped off a Venezuelan guest at the Hotel Nacional on Saturday afternoon, then stayed for about half an hour to chat with hotel staff, commercial director Yamila Fuster said.
este sábado, la influyente revista Veja publicó que uno de los condenados, el publicista Marcos Valerio Fernandes (cuyo grupo publicitario pagaba a los diputados y a la tesorería del partido de Lula con prestamos fraudulentos de bancos estatales), ha dicho que “Lula era el jefe” de toda la trama que juzga el STF. “Todo lo que hacía era del conocimiento de Lula”, lanzó. Aunque el abogado de Valerio negó la declaración (una aparente amenaza cifrada), ésta podría ser la primera acusación directa en contra del ex presidente.
In the short-term, the Party is trying playing the immigration card a few weeks before the U.S. presidential election. Why? In part, because it can. They think they can influence votes in South Florida’s large Cuban-American community by using the immigration/family reunification talisman to divide voters in Miami. I can think of at least one Congressional race where this could become an minor issue, but it is mostly quixotic.
An offshore remittance company called Caribbean Transfers financed a complex money-laundering ring that moved more than $30 million in stolen Medicare money from South Florida into Cuba’s banking system, federal authorities said Thursday.
The revelation surfaced in the widening case of a now-convicted check-cashing store owner who was first believed to be at the center of the federal case. It marked the first time that investigators traced tainted Medicare proceeds to Cuba’s state-controlled bank.
Let me save you some time: There is nothing in there that will inform your opinion of Mitt Romney.
How do I know? Because I saw many of the exact same documents months ago, after requesting them from a Bain Capital investor. What I quickly learned was that there was little of interest, except perhaps for private equity geeks who want to know exactly how much Bain paid for a particular company back in 2006. Sure I would have loved the pageviews, but not at the expense of tricking readers into clicking on something of so little value.
Let’s go over what Gawker believes it found:
“Mitt Romney’s $250 million fortune is largely a black hole: Aside from the meager and vague disclosures he has filed under federal and Massachusetts laws, and the two years of partial tax returns (one filed and another provisional) he has released, there is almost no data on precisely what his vast holdings consist of, or what vehicles he has used to escape taxes on his income.”
There actually is plenty of data on Romney’s Bain-related holdings. For example, Bain’s own website lists most of its active private equity portfolio companies. Then there are third-party databases operated by such organizations as Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters and CapitalIQ — each one of which includes searchable lists of past Bain Capital deals (often with detailed financial information). And, finally, Bain isn’t really in the business of doing tiny purchases of unknown family businesses. When it buys something, there is almost always a press release and/or media coverage. Perhaps Gawker hasn’t yet discovered the magic of Lexis-Nexis. Maybe it should sign up for the daily Term Sheet email.
“Today, we are publishing more than 950 pages of internal audits, financial statements, and private investor letters for 21 cryptically named entities in which Romney had invested… Many of them are offshore funds based in the Cayman Islands.”
I get it. “Cayman Islands” is supposed to be code for tax avoidance or shady dealings. But the reality is that most private equity firms form Cayman-domiciled funds to accommodate investors based outside of the United States (particularly when those funds also are making some non-U.S. investments). One private equity fund formation attorney I spoke with says that the Caymans structure usually doesn’t have real tax benefit for the non-U.S. investors, but that they nonetheless feel more comfortable. He added that, for most U.S. private equity executives, the Cayman structure has little to zero impact in terms of personal taxes.
Gawker Media has been going through a big corporate revamp over the past year or so. The ultimate parent company has never been in the U.S.: it used to be Blogwire in Hungary, but now Blogwire Hungary has become a subsidiary of a Cayman Islands entity called Gawker Media Group Inc, which also owns various U.S. operations like Gawker Media LLC, Gawker Entertainment LLC, Gawker Technology LLC, and Gawker Sales LLC.
Then there’s this little tidbit of information; something regarding obscene profits, untaxed revenue, and side-stepping the IRS…
The Hungarian companies get all of Gawker’s international income, which flows in from 13 different salespeople in ten different countries and which, since it’s international income flowing to a Hungarian company owned by a Cayman Islands parent, is basically pure profit which never comes close to being taxed in the U.S. The result is a company where 130 U.S. employees eat up the lion’s share of the U.S. revenues, resulting in little if any taxable income, while the international income, the franchise value of the brands, and the value of the technology all stays permanently overseas, untouched by the IRS.
As Rusty says, “This is weapons-grade hypocrisy…” but what else can you expect?