En español: Guillermo Padrés en la Unidad de Quemados

September 17th, 2014

Guillermo Padrés,

Luego de que se revelara que construyó una presa en su rancho familiar sin pedirle permiso a nadie, el gobernador de Sonora llega a la Unidad de Quemados… y en el Cineclub de Nicasio: Lucy

Why the game should stand tall

September 17th, 2014

My latest article, Why the game should stand tall, a review of the excellent When the Game Stands Tall, is up at Da Tech Guy Blog. Go read it, and hit Pete’s tip jar.

Ecuador: If Correa ain’t happy . . .

September 17th, 2014

. . . he hires Putin’s PR people.

Two items from Ecuador,

First:

I’ve been hesitating to review Paul M. Barrett’s new book, Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who’d Stop at Nothing to Win about fraudster Steven Donziger.

While the book is interesting, I find statements like “While not a materialistic person driven by financial rewards, Donziger sometimes groused about the cost of his career choices” (page 134) exasperating. Paul Barrett may believe that Donziger was not “driven by financial rewards” while setting up a Gibraltar corporation to hold proceeds of the judgment, but readers of Law of the Jungle should read Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision, which quotes Donziger’s personal notebook on April 4, 2007:

. . . I sit back and dream. I cannot believe what we have accomplished. Important people interested in us. A new paradigm of not only a case, but how to do a case. Chevron wanting to settle. Billions of dollars on the table. A movie, a possible book.I cannot keep up with it all.

That said, Barrett is now under attack by the Republic of Ecuador’s U.S. public relations advisers, New York-based Ketchum. His article, What It’s Like to Be Attacked by Putin’s American Flack explains the latest,

Ketchum’s memo about my book connects the dots regarding why Ecuador cares so passionately about the case. Among the “difficult questions” Law of the Jungle raises, according to Ketchum:

Barrett’s book does raise many questions, among them,

• “Ecuador took the biggest part of the income obtained from petroleum extracted from the Amazon, approximately $23.5 billion against $1.6 billion for Texaco-Chevron.” The precise figures are subject to dispute, but according to government records, the split was roughly 90-10 in favor of Ecuador. This contradicts a central theme of the plaintiffs’ (and Correa’s) narrative: that Texaco derived all the benefit from industrializing the rain forest and left the host country with only the nasty side effects. The Ketchum memo warns the embassy that my reporting raises additional questions: How did Ecuador spend its majority proceeds from oil exploitation? Why wasn’t this money spent on environmental controls? Why was the money not used to help those harmed by the drilling?

Make sure to read Barrett’s full article. You can find all of his very interesting Business Week/Bloomberg articles here.

Ecuador engages in “widespread repression of the media”; now they try to export the repression to our shores via a public relations firm.

The second item:

As you may recall, president Rafael Correa has come up with a fake currency to cover up a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion.

Correa claims there’s no plan to replace the dollar. Steve Hanke, who 14 years ago was the chief intellectual architect of the nation’s switch to the dollar, is skeptical,
Ecuador’s Dollarization Architect Doubts Correa’s Pledge

“What Correa’s trying to do is kind of loosen the straitjacket that dollarization has him in,” Hanke said. “If you go off, the fiscal deficit gets bigger, the level of debt gets bigger, inflation goes up and economic growth goes down. All the economic indicators just go south.”

Correa is expected to run for a fourth presidential term in 2017, having changed the law on presidential term limits.

Ketchum may be looking forward to it.

RELATED:
For Ecuador’s PR Firm, Celebrity Backing Carries Hefty Price Tag
MCSquared paid more than $500,000 for Mia Farrow, Danny Glover junkets

UPDATE,
Linked to by Bad Blue. Thanks!


Is ISIS at the border? UPDATED

September 16th, 2014

Who to believe?

U.S. Pushes Back Against Warnings That ISIS Plans to Enter From Mexico

Militants for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have traveled to Mexico and are just miles from the United States. They plan to cross over the porous border and will “imminently” launch car bomb attacks. And the threat is so real that federal law enforcement officers have been placed at a heightened state of alert, and an American military base near the border has increased its security.

As the Obama administration and the American public have focused their attention on ISIS in recent weeks, conservative groups and leading Republicans have issued stark warnings like those that ISIS and other extremists from Syria are planning to enter the country illegally from Mexico. But the Homeland Security Department, the F.B.I. and lawmakers who represent areas near the border say there is no truth to the warnings.

So the question remains,
Who to believe? This, or the Obama administration?

UPDATE:
Frances Martel:

One country the Islamic State has made significant efforts to infiltrate, however, is Canada. Canadian jihadists are a significant contingent of the Islamic State Western population, and the group has targeted the nation in its propaganda videos. In one particularly egregious attempt to recruit Canadian jihadists, the Islamic State released atribute video to dead jihadist André Poulin, a Canadian, using footage of the man explaining why he left Canada to fight for the Islamic State. Poulin describes his early days watching hockey and fishing and concludes that jihad is much more fulfilling than Canadian life.

Moderate Muslims in the country have also raised the alarm that their congregations are being infiltrated by terrorist groups. Pacifist Canadian leader Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada (ISCC), received death threats from extremists for calling attention to their recruitment. ”Absolutely I am convinced that this recruitment is going on right here in this country, under our noses, in our universities, in our colleges, in the places of worship, in our community,” he told Canadian public television. Canadian citizens are so at risk for being radicalized by Islamist terrorist elements that the mother of one slain Islamic State jihadist has founded a support group for Western families struggling to cope with the loss of their child to jihad, and for those who fear their children are being radicalized and hope to prevent them from leaving to Iraq and Syria.

UPDATE
Linked to by Outrageous Minds. Thank you!


Venezuela: What do El Puma & Ricardo Hausmann have in common?

September 16th, 2014

What do a retired pop idol and a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government have in common?
Answer: Any criticism is met with public pillorying.

First instance: El Puma.

[Note: all the YouTubes are in Spanish]

Jaime Bayly interviewed last week singing star José Luís Rodríguez, best known as El Puma (link audio starts immediately) in his show last week. El Puma is Venezuelan and was very clear about Venezuela’s disastrous dictatorship,

It didn’t take long for Maduro to verbally pillory El Puma, saying that everybody will forget El Puma but all will remember Hugo Chavez,

Of course, Maduro may be correct, but for the wrong reasons.

Bayly talked about it last night, contrasting the joy El Puma brings his fans with the misery raining on Venezuela from chavismo,

Second instance: Ricardo Hausmann

Meet the Academic ‘Hitman’ Who Infuriates Venezuela’s President (emphasis added)

Ricardo Hausmann sounds like a scary guy. Last night, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called him a “financial hitman” and “outlaw” who is part of a campaign “that has been initiated around the world against Venezuela.”

Who is this supposed international assassin? A bearded, 50-something professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who wrote a recent opinion piece saying Venezuela should default on its international debts. Traders in the bond market already consider this a possibility given the country’s financial straits, but Maduro seems to have taken it hard because Hausmann is himself Venezuelan and served as planning minister in 1992-93.

Maduro, like his late mentor and predecessor Hugo Chávez, presents himself as the champion of Venezuela’s poor. Hausmann attacked that image in his opinion piece by writing that many of the bonds on which Venezuela is paying interest “are held by well-connected wealthy Venezuelans,” while “severe shortages of life-saving drugs in Venezuela are the result of the government’s default on a $3.5 billion bill for pharmaceutical imports.” He said that the choice of Maduro’s government not to default “is a signal of its moral bankruptcy.”

That clearly did not go over well with Maduro, who instructed the attorney general and public prosecutor to take unspecified “actions” against Hausmann.

Here’s Maduro in his TV cadena, calling Hausmann a financial hit man,

Chavismo has turned Venezuela into a country where whores (not just the streetwalkers) cash in as currency traders. Hausmann’s assertions shouldn’t come as a surprise.

UPDATE:
You wouldn’t know it from looking at Maduro, but there’s a shortage of boobs in Venezuela.

Beethoven goes salsa

September 15th, 2014


The third Monday in September Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

September 15th, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Judge Thomas Griesa Rules Against NML Capital in Argentine Debt Case
Citibank Doesn’t Have to Hand Over Documents in Hedge Fund’s Bid to Block Next Interest Payment

Argentina: Down the Tubes, Again

BOLIVIA
A Nuclear Bolivia? Why Not?

BRAZIL
Pelé unveils unique football pitch where players’ energy produces electricity
Brazillian football legend launches a revolutionary artificial pitch that converts players’ energy into electricty to power Rio de Janeiro favela

Brazilian Tycoon Faces Criminal Charges
Brazil’s federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Brazilian businessman Eike Batista, compounding the legal woes of the once high-flying entrepreneur.

CHILE
Memory is not history
“Dirty war” memorials should not be used to rewrite the past

The historical truth silenced by “memory” is that the cold war in Latin America was fought by two equally authoritarian sides. Argentina’s coup in 1976 was triggered in part by the violence of the Montoneros, a leftist-nationalist guerrilla group of which several of Ms Fernández’s officials were members.

In Chile, too, memories of history can be incomplete. The museum in Santiago is not trying to impose an interpretation of history, just recounting facts, Ms Bachelet told Bello in July. Yet the only clue that Allende’s government, through its attempt to impose a Marxist programme, had itself contributed to the breakdown of democracy and “the destruction or weakening of many points of consensus” is contained in a quote from a Truth Commission of 1991, which is inscribed on a wall tucked away by the toilets. Allende will be commemorated on this week’s anniversary of the coup as a fallen hero of democracy, with no mention of his own mistakes—even Zhou Enlai, then China’s leader, warned him that he was moving too fast towards communism.

Chile MP charged over 1981 killings
Chilean MP Rosauro Martinez is charged with the killing of three left-wing militants during the dictatorship of Gen Augusto Pinochet.

COLOMBIA
Chikungunya infections spread to Colombia

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica seizes 1.5 tons of pot in chase at sea

CUBA
Cuba to send doctors to Ebola areas

Cuban Political Prisoner of the Day, Daniel Enrique Quesada Chaveco, Sept. 13, 2014

Gerard Depardieu, great friend of the Castro dynasty, avatar of hypocrisy

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Poll Shows Dominicans Most Worried About Crime, Economy

ECUADOR
State Oil Firms to Invest $400 Million in Ecuador Oil Block
Exploration in the 490,000-Acre Oil Concession to Start in January

Ecuador’s Petroamazonas will have a 51% stake in the project, while Sipetrol SA, a unit of Chile’s state-owned Empresa Nacional de Petroleo, or Enap, will own 42% and Belarus’s Belorusneft will have the remaining 7%.

EL SALVADOR
Even Stronger: Truce Between El Salvador Gangs Has Unintended Consequence

But free of violence does not mean free of gangs. The entrance to Ilopango is still controlled by the Mara Salvatrucha, while a northern stretch of the suburb is controlled by 18th Street. Nothing about the agreement has impeded Gonzalez or any of his gang from walking around freely and exerting full control. In fact, it’s only strengthened their power.

GUATEMALA
Firms from Russia, China, Spain, U.S. Interested in Guatemala Pipeline

Companies from Russia, China, Spain and the United States are interested in participating in the construction of a pipeline linking Mexico and Guatemala, the Central American nation’s economy minister said Thursday.

HAITI
Ex-President of Haiti Put Under House Arrest

JAMAICA
In Jamaica, Rastas Ready for Pot Decriminalization

MEXICO
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif calls for deepening of ties with Mexico

ICE OFFICIALS DEPORT MEXICAN NATIONAL WANTED FOR MURDER

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua Requests U.S. Help in Investigating Meteorite

PANAMA
Egypt issues stamps to mark new Suez Canal – but uses pictures of Panama Canal
The multi-billion pound scheme to widen the canal was announced last month, but officials have suffered a series of false starts

PARAGUAY
Paraguayan bus drivers in crucifixion protest

PERU
Assassinations in the Amazon: how will Peru respond?
Indigenous leaders killed near Brazil border following logging and land title battle

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Finds It Has New Friends in Hedge Funds

VENEZUELA
Venezuela to charge two opposition activists deported from Colombia last week
Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles, two Venezuelan opposition activists, will face charges after they were deported last week from Colombia.

Venezuela Arrests 64 for Anti-Maduro Protests: Rights Group

Now what? Venezuela on static noise

Venezuela’s ongoing collapse

Glen Chavez?

The week’s posts and podcasts:
Venezuela: The next default

Venezuela: Deadly new illness

Today’s illegal invasion headlines

En español: Unidad de quemados

Chile seeks foreign help in subway bombing case

September 11: In memory of Joe Angelini, Jr.

55 years a slave: The new Cuba-Brazil human traffic

Venezuela, springboard for Hezbollah

Puerto Rico: Trump golf course defaults

Chile: Terrorist attack injures 14

This week’s podcast:
US-Latin America stories of the week with Fausta Wertz editor of Fausta’s Blog

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
“Obama’s Betrayal of the Constitution”

Gov. Walker and the curious case of the district attorney’s wife

Venezuela: The next default

September 15th, 2014

Mary O’Grady writes on more to come from the ALBA deadbeat zone:
Venezuela Heads to a Default Reckoning
Amid bills for imports and debt servicing, and shrinking dollar liquidity, something has to give.

Venezuelan bond prices swooned last week on renewed speculation that the government of President Nicolás Maduro might soon default on as much as $80 billion of foreign debt. The yield on the government bond due in 2022 hit a six-month high of 15.8% on Sept. 9. David Rees of London-based Capital Economics, who last year warned of the risks of falling oil prices to Venezuelan solvency, told Bloomberg News by telephone that “the bond market is finally beginning to wake up.”

That may be true. It’s clear that the foreign exchange that Venezuela earns from oil exports cannot pay its import bills along with debt service. There are dire shortages of industrial and consumer goods as well as services. Something has to give and odds are that allowing the required adjustment to the economy won’t be the government’s first choice.

Nearly 1 million [corrected] barrels per day (almost one third of the daily 2.3 million barrels of crude OPEC says Venezuela produces) don’t generate revenue: 300,000 bpd go to Cuba, some 100,000 bpd are smuggled into the Colombia by insiders, and 650,000 bpd are sent to China to pay debt. This is even more disastrous when considering how the Venezuelan economy has become more dependent on oil after foreign capital leaves the country and productivity plummets.

Venezuela: Deadly new illness

September 12th, 2014

El Nuevo Herald and La Patilla reports that Venezuelan doctors are on the alert for a mysterious new illness whose victims die within 72 hours and which the hospitals don’t know how to treat.

Eight people from the state of Aragua have died in the past ten days. The symptoms are general malaise, high fever, skin rash, and mouth sores that become infected, after which the patients develop internal and external bleeding.

Duglas León Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, has gone on the record saying, “we don’t know what it is.”

Happening in the middle of a health crisis in the country, the Venezuelan government has denied the reports, accusing Natera of “engaging in a campaign of rumors and terrorism.”

In other medical news, Exported to Venezuela, miserable Cuban doctors clamor to get into U.S.


Today’s illegal invasion headlines

September 12th, 2014

Mary Landrieu Fenced In on Immigration

POLL: SWING OF MORE THAN 20 PERCENTAGE POINTS AGAINST PATHWAY TO CITIZENSHIP

At Drudge,

SESSIONS: DON’T GIVE MASTERS OF UNIVERSE THEIR AMNESTY!

WHITE HOUSE TALKS IMMIGRATION WITH LATINO LAWMAKERS…

PLEDGES EXECUTIVE ACTION BEFORE HOLIDAYS…

DEPORTATIONS PLUMMET…

Schools scramble to meet ‘emotional needs’ of illegals…

Feds Plan Family Housing Facility in TX…

Mexico says Perry’s border deployment politically motivated…

Illegal stabs woman three times with kitchen knife…