Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Venezuela: Bi-partisan US Congress approves sanctions bill

Friday, May 30th, 2014

faustaBoth parties came together to approve HR4587, the Venezuela Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act. Read all about it at Da Tech Guy Bog, and please hit Pete’s tip jar.

Cuba: Why is the US Chamber of Commerce chief visiting?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Because they bought hook, line and sinker the propaganda bs:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief visits Cuba (emphasis added)

The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a group of American business executives visited a cooperative here Wednesday to become acquainted with the new forms of non-state management being pushed in Communist Cuba.

And,

Almost a year ago the service cooperatives began operating in Cuba, a novel iniative in a country that during five decades of ongoing revolution had only allowed that management formula to be applied in the agricultural sector.

So, five decades of Communist coops later, the agricultural sector continues to be in ruins. And Thomas Donohue hasn’t figured that yet?

Along with Donohue, Marcel Smits, the chief financial officer of Minnesota-based agribusiness giant Cargill, is there ” to assess the island’s business climate.”

Tweet of the Day: What Private Enterprise?

By Cuban democracy leader, Ailer Gonzalez Mena:The President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praises the expansion of private enterprise in Cuba. What private enterprise? Castro’s no?

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) called it “shameful that a group like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would choose to visit the island gulag of Cuba where the tyrants owe billions of dollars to the private sector all over the world.”

Alberto de la Cruz points out,

There are two simple yet very important requirements for doing business with Cuba’s apartheid Castro dictatorship: 1) All business agreements have to be made with the Castro regime and all monies from that business must go through them, and 2) You are required to actively and consistently parrot, regurgitate, and disseminate Castro-communist propaganda. Furthermore, neither of these two requirements are negotiable and any prospective investor looking to do business in Cuba has only two options; they either comply fully with the demands or they must forgo doing any business in Cuba.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donahue is fully aware of these requirements and seems to have no issue complying with them.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) describes the hostile environment in Cuba, in a letter to Donohue, naming businessmen the regime has incarcerated:

While the Cuban government may be undertaking cosmetic changes in an attempt to attract badly-needed foreign investment and revive an economy that has suffered from a half-century of chronic mismanagement, I believe it is imperative to detail the frequently hostile operating environment that international business leaders have encountered in Cuba. The case of British businessman Stephen Purvis of Coral Capital is an irrefutable reminder of the ongoing risk faced by foreign businesses working in the country. Although Coral Capital was one of the largest private investors in Cuba – working closely with the Cuban government to renovate the Saratoga Hotel and develop the Bellomonte Country Club – the government eventually turned on Mr. Purvis, accused him of espionage and breaches of financial law, seized all of his assets, and imprisoned him for 16 months prior to his release in July 2013.

It is important to emphasize that Mr. Purvis’ misfortune is hardly uncommon. Canadian citizen, Cy Tokmakjian, President and CEO of the Tomakjian Group, has languished in a Cuban prison for nearly three years and still awaits trial. After providing the Cuban government with transportation, mining and construction equipment for several years, Mr. Tokmakjian was jailed in September 2011. The Cuban government seized his personal assets and those of his business, but never formally charged him with any wrongdoing. These examples are a clear indication of the complete lack of protection for foreign investment in Cuba, and should serve as a sharp warning for any company, including any U.S. business group, studying conditions in the country.

And let’s not forget working conditions in the island-prison

Furthermore, I am deeply concerned about the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s willingness to seek out a relationship with a regime that is in constant violation of international labor rights. More specifically, the Cuban government’s labor and employment practices are in direct violation of International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions on freedom of association, collective bargaining, discrimination, the protection of wages, and the abolition of forced labor. Regrettably, Cuba’s recent foreign investment law makes no efforts to bring the country’s poor labor conditions into accordance with international standards and, therefore, bears a paradoxical implication – it proposes beneficial changes for the state but ultimately ignores the benefits of the people.

Donohue says

his agenda was unhindered by the Cuban authorities and he was confident he was getting a “fair look” at Cuba

Yeah, right.

I wonder if Donohue is fluent in Spanish (looking at the above photo he seems to be traveling with an interpreter), and, if not, is he allowed to bring his own interpreter. Or is he allowed only a Cuban government-approved interpreter – for which he is billed? How much is he billed for the interpreter? How much is the interpreter actually paid?

The only certain thing coming out of this trip is that the oppression of the Cuban people will continue.


En español: Terapia intensiva #209

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

@DrNetas nos pone al tanto,

The abridged Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, May 19th, 2014

LatinAmerSince last week I was attending my son’s college graduation, this week’s Carnival is brief.

Congratulations to my son in his wonderful achievement.

ARGENTINA
Court In Argentina Strikes Down `Truth Commission` With Iran
A federal appeals court in Argentina declared unconstitutional a controversial agreement between the South American country and Iran to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.

Argentina’s Vice President May Have to Testify
An Argentine federal appeals court decision on Friday opened the door for Vice President Amado Boudou to be called to testify as a suspect in a criminal investigation.

La herencia kirchnerista
La sociedad enfrenta divisiones inducidas desde el poder político, y la unión nacional se ha vuelto a convertir en una asignatura constitucional pendiente

BRAZIL
Police clash with protesters near São Paulo airport
Tear gas and rubber bullets fired amid demonstrations less than a month before Brazilian city hosts World Cup opener

COLOMBIA
Inside Medellin: How Pablo Escobar’s hometown hopes to become South America’s ‘Silicon Valley’
Medellin was once the world’s most murderous city, famed for cocaine cartels and death squads. But now, writes Harriet Alexander, it is putting its business acumen to good use, and reinventing itself as a thriving tech hub

Colombia rebels and government reach agreement on drugs
FARC will divorce itself from the drug trade.
Color me skeptical.

Alvaro Uribe president again in a month. What happens then?

CUBA
Remarks by Cuban author and democracy leader, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C.

ECUADOR
Galapagos emergency over stranded cargo ship
Ecuador has declared an emergency in the Galapagos Islands, saying that a cargo ship which ran aground last week still poses a threat to the archipelago’s fragile ecosystem.

HONDURAS
SLAUGHTER OF HONDURAN CHILDREN LIKELY LINKED TO TEXAS ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION INFLUX

MEXICO
Mexico ‘Los Rojos crime cartel boss’, Leonor Nava Romero, arrested
Mexican authorities say they have jailed the head of a major criminal gang in the southern state of Guerrero.

PUERTO RICO
The Fight To Save Puerto Rico’s ‘Alcatraz Of The Caribbean’, the Oso Blanco,

Oso Blanco is on the National Register of Historic Places and was named after the cement brand used to build it. Among its claims to fame: a 1974 exhibition fight featuring boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who sparred with an inmate while Puerto Rican actress and singer Iris Chacón served as referee.

PERU
Peruvian Regional President Suspected in Murder of a Rival
Court Issues Arrest Warrants for Cesar Alvarez and Others in Connection With Killing of Activist in March

VENEZUELA
Taps: Last of Protesters Keep Vigil in Venezuela
A small group of protesters in the city San Cristóbal, the town where the recent nationwide demonstrations began, try to keep up the pressure after the government largely succeeded in cowing the opposition.

I am afraid there is no peaceful outcome for Venezuela anymore

In the land of silicone socialism

The week’s posts:
Argentina: Joseph Stiglitz’s conflict of interest

Argentina: World’s largest dinosaur found

Saturday night kizomba: Isabelle and Félicien

Brazil: 1 stadium, 3 x the cost

En español: La historia de Argenzuela

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Venezuela: Crackdown time


Argentina: World’s largest dinosaur found

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

No, not this one,


Cristinasaurus Kirchnerus

this one:


Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
Hip bone connected to the back bone

Fossilised bones of a dinosaur believed to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth have been unearthed in Argentina, palaeontologists say. Bigger than Argentinosaurus,

Scientists believe it is a new species of titanosaur – an enormous herbivore dating from the Late Cretaceous period.

A local farm worker first stumbled on the remains in the desert near La Flecha, about 250km (135 miles) west of Trelew, Patagonia.

How big was it?


Brazil: 1 stadium, 3 x the cost

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

The Mané Garrincha stadium is up in Brasilia, at a whopping US$900million, triple the estimated cost:
Soccer Stadium Raises Brazilian Ire
Cost of Building a Stadium in Brasília Has Tripled From its Original Budget, Drawing Allegations of Graft and Mismanagement

Costing 2 billion reais, or about $900 million, the Mané Garrincha National Stadium is the most expensive soccer stadium ever built in Brazil. Projected costs have tripled since construction began in 2010, and a federal auditor has concluded in a series of reports that nearly a quarter of the stadium’s costs are excessive or inflated.

“Price overruns are either a gross error or bad faith,” said Renato Rainha, an audit official who has directed two probes into the stadium.

Local officials dispute those allegations. Federal prosecutors have filed no charges or lawsuits. Authorities responsible for the contracts denied any wrongdoing and said they are cooperating with the auditors.

It seats 71,412, which comes to $12,603/seat.


Ecuador: Patton Boggs to pay Chevron $15 million

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

HUGE:
Following Chevron’s win in the fraud case committed against them, Chevron and Patton Boggs settle their epic legal battle over jungle oil pits in Ecuador

Chevron and Patton Boggs have settled disputes linked to long-running litigation over toxic drilling waste pits in Ecuador, with Patton Boggs agreeing to pay Chevron $15 million, issue a statement of regret, and withdraw from the Ecuador case. Chevron agreed to release all claims against Patton Boggs and its partners.

The settlement is a stunning and highly unusual setback for any law firm, let alone the nation’s leading lobbying firm, long a bedrock of the Washington establishment. While the payment will cover only a tiny portion of the money Chevron has spent on the legal battle, the settlement overall tarnishes the reputation of Patton Boggs.

I know of no other instance where a top lobbying law firm has settled publicly in such terms, particularly when

Now, as part of the settlement with Chevron, Patton Boggs has agreed to assign its 5 percent interest in any money the plaintiffs might obtain. It also agreed to assist Chevron with discovery against the Ecuadorian plaintiffs and their New York-based lawyer Steven Donziger, who has been doggedly fighting Chevron for more than two decades and who Chevron has argued was part of a racketeering scheme to obtain a fraudulent judgment.

Daniel Fisher at Forbes puts it best: Patton Boggs Pays Chevron $15 Million To Rid Itself Of Donziger

The settlement, down to the humiliating, pre-negotiated press release, resembles deals Chevron has negotiated with London-based Burford Capital and other parties that assisted New York attorney Steven Donziger in his attempt to make the oil company pay for widespread pollution left over from a Texaco drilling program in Ecuador in the 1970s and 1980s.

Law firms are rarely found liable for tactics they use to zealously represent their clients, and multimillion-dollar settlements are even rarer. Perhaps more unusual is the law firm’s agreement to deliver partners James Tyrrell and Eric Westenberger to Gibson Dunn’s New York offices for depositions overseen by a court-appointed special master. The firm has also agreed to turn over documents, provided its former clients don’t prevail on challenges under the attorney-client privilege.

Maybe, just maybe this will give pause to anyone considering to engage in fraudulent legalfare against U.S. corporations.

Related:
Why Patton Boggs Has Come to Regret Picking a Fight With Chevron

A federal judge in New York has dismissed a suit Patton Boggs filed against Chevron (CVX), which accused the oil giant of bad faith in response to the law firm’s attempt to enforce a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment in Ecuador. While the fizzling of the Patton Boggs case by itself might not seem significant, the dismissal leaves behind Chevron’s counter claims against the law firm, in which the oil company accuses the Washington partnership of participating in a massive fraud and coverup related to that same Ecuadorian judgment.

I’lll be in Silvio Canto’s podcast tonight at 8PM Eastern to talk about this and other Latin American news.

UPDATE:
Paul M. Barrett writing for Business Week:

In nearly three decades of writing about the law business, I can’t think of a comparable retreat.

Linked to by Doug Ross. Thank you!

Linked to by Instapundit. Thank you, Ed Discoll!

Linked to by Bad Blue. Thank you!

Linked to by American Thinker. Thank you!

Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion‘s post of the day. Thank you! Understatement of the year: “Chevron must have really good lawyers.”


Colombia: Another campaign aide quits

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

First Rendon, now Andres Fernando Sepulveda; Rendon has not been charged, but Sepulveda is under arrest (emphasis added):
Aide to Colombia Presidential Candidate Arrested on Spy Charge
Advisor to Oscar Ivan Zuluaga Charged With Intercepting Emails of President, Chief Rebel Negotiator

An adviser to a leading candidate in Colombia’s presidential election was arrested Tuesday and charged with heading a spy ring that allegedly intercepted the emails of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Marxist rebels’ chief negotiator in peace talks with the government.

Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre read the charges at a news conference after authorities raided a Bogotá office and arrested Andres Fernando Sepulveda, who is an adviser to Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. Mr. Zuluaga, a conservative supported by former President Álvaro Uribe in his quest to win the presidency on May 25, is in second place in the latest polls behind Mr. Santos, who is seeking re-election.
. . .
The attorney general said that the spy ring’s objective appeared to have been to sabotage the peace talks, which began in November 2012 and are being held in Havana, Cuba. Mr. Montealegre said investigators had not determined who was benefiting from the information.

Nestor fever #PoneleNestorATodo: Tympanoctomys Kirchnerorum UPDATED

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA
“Néstor forever. Stay strong, Cristina”

Néstor Kirchner fever hits Argentina:
Leonardo Míndez is keeping track of all the monuments, streets, public buildings and locations named after Néstor. There are almost a hundred, and counting. His hashtag is #PoneleNestorATodo, or #GetNestorOnEverything

Now: we’ve got 92 Nestor Kirchner at http://ponelenestoratodo.tumblr.com/ Reaching a hundred! #PoneleNestorATodo

There’s even going to be a Néstor Kirchner nuclear power plant after they rename the Atucha II plant. Atucha I is being renamed after Juan Domingo Perón.

Makes you wonder if Atucha I gets to keep the Perón name once Cristina is no longer of this world, but I digress.

Lest you think that Nestor is the new Evita (which, by the way, the day he died graffiti sprang all over Buenos Aires saying “Evita and Nestor, together in heaven”), to the best of my knowledge Evita Perón hasn’t had a rat named after her. Behold, Tympanoctomys Kirchnerorum:

it was dubbed T. kirchnerorum as a tribute to Nestor and Cristina Kirchner for “their efforts in promoting science.”

No irony in that dedication.

UPDATE:
Hilarity ensues,

‘Dude, this was like two years ago’

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

My latest at Da Tech Guy Blog, ‘Dude, this was like two years ago’ is about the former van driver, former National Security Advisor Tommy Vietor dude.

More on the appalling Obama foreign policy team and the tangled web of media-Obama administration ties from Thomas Lifson, and a chart (click to enlarge):

And yes, Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser, is the brother of David Rhodes, the President of CBS News the man who fired Sharon Attkisson. Attkisson was the only mainstream reporter to pursue Benghazi, asserting there was a coverup (h/t Monica Showalter).