As expected: WH finishing up latest plan for closing Guantánamo

July 27th, 2015

All part of the plan:

A White House spokesman says the administration is in the “final stages” of drafting its latest plan to close the prison holding terrorism detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
. . .
Press secretary Josh Earnest says closing Guantánamo remains a priority. Earnest said Wednesday it’s a waste to spend more than $100 million per year on a prison holding only 116 detainees.

Earnest ignores any importance of Guantánamo base as a strategic asset.

I stand by my prediction: Obama will gift Guantánamo base to the Castros before his term is over.

The Indoctrinator Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

July 27th, 2015

Today’s Carnival is dedicated to cartoonist Luciano Cunha, creator of The Indoctrinator.

ARGENTINA
Pathetic: Now Argentina accuses Falkland Islands fishermen of stealing their FISHA SENIOR Falkland Islands diplomat has hit back at claims by an Argentine minister that the wealth of the remote archipelago derives from “stolen” fish.

PRO’s Macri says government seeking to ‘demonize’ him

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Frees 47 of 51 Arrested after Violent Protests

BRAZIL
Brazilian politics
The power behind the throne
A junior partner in government is running the country

It is the person, not the party, that is abandoning the coalition, the PMDB was quick to declare. Still, Mr [Eduardo] Cunha’s exit is a worry for the president. Last week came news that police are investigating her predecessor and political mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, for possible influence-peddling on behalf of construction firms. He denies the allegation. That is a further blow to the battered PT. Ms Rousseff needs the PMDB more than ever if she is to survive until the end of her term in 2018. Increasingly, it is running the show.

An oil scandal is shaking Brazil’s democracy to its core

New plant species ‘discovered on Facebook’
Experts identified a plant pictured on Facebook as a new species, since named as “drosera magnifica“, or magnificent sundew, according journal research paper
. Someone tell Pope Francis.

CHILE
Chile charges over burning students
A Chilean judge charges seven former soldiers over the burning of two students during a 1986 protest against Gen Augusto Pinochet’s government.

COLOMBIA
Colombians Outraged by Gang Rape of Bus Driver

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica: Examples of How to be Like Greece (h/t JC)

CUBA
Evidence Mounts That Oswaldo Payá Was Assassinated by the Castros
Human Rights Foundation Documents Cuban Agents at Work on Tragic Day
; Victims of Communism organization follows up on Ted Cruz’s address change proposal

Inside the offices of Granma, Cuba’s government newspaper

There’s a sucker born every minute: Cuba Hoping To Kickstart Offshore Oil & Gas Industry

Springtime for America’s EnemiesDangerous and short-sighted U.S. diplomacy has empowered no one except state sponsors of terrorism and fascistic regimes.

ECUADOR
Rafael Correa recibe la asesoría de la chavista Eva Golinger
La «novia de Venezuela», como la llamó Chávez, se ha ocupado en «desacreditar» a quienes critican al presidente de Ecuador

GUATEMALA
Fired for Daring to Prosecute Extortion in Rural Guatemala
Georgetown University’s False Heroine: Part III

HAITI
A Glimpse Of An Everyday Struggle Among Haiti’s Health Care Workers

JAMAICA
Pennies on the dollar: Jamaica to retire $3B in oil debt to Venezuela

Jamaica has forged a deal to retire $3 billion in oil debts to Venezuela thanks to bond sales.

In a Friday statement, Jamaica said it has issued roughly $2 billion in bonds on the international capital market that will pay down the debt it accumulated through Petrocaribe, a Venezuelan program that provides fuel to countries at market prices but under generous credit terms.

Officials say a negotiated settlement with Caracas will dismiss about $3 billion in long-term debt in exchange for $1.5 billion. It was not immediately clear Friday if Jamaica’s deal will retire all of its Petrocaribe debt.
. . .
Jamaica’s Petrocaribe settlement is similar to one the Dominican Republic negotiated with Venezuela earlier this year. That Caribbean country dismissed $4 billion in Petrocaribe debt in exchange for $2 billion.

MEXICO
Mexican judge jails three Joaquin Guzman prison guards

Filmmaker Ridley Scott to bring life of “El Chapo” to the big screen
British director purchases rights to Don Winslow’s bestseller ‘The Cartel’

Is there a rift between Mexico’s president and first lady?
Rumors fly after videos capture allegedly awkward moments between Enrique Peña Nieto and his wife, Angélica Rivera

PANAMA
Panama, Costa Rica join forces, demand corruption investigation of CONCACAF Gold Cup

PARAGUAY
US asks Paraguay to extradite Fifa official Nicolas Leoz

PERU
Police burn down illegal gold mine town in Peru
Action against La Pampa is latest blow in war against illegal mining that is destroying rainforest and spreading mercury poisoning


First pictures of last-uncontacted Amazon tribe
Mashco Piro tribe have lived in the jungle in Peru for at least 600 years, but have never before been approached

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico debt crisis: austerity for residents, but tax breaks for hedge funds
The Caribbean territory has courted some of Wall Street’s richest citizens, selling its debt and offering inducements while local people face high taxes and cuts

URUGUAY
Uruguay says more Syrian refugees welcome

VENEZUELA
Mega-Gangs the New Plague in Venezuela
Organized Crime Takes Root in Neglected Slums

Venezuela Bars Foreign Lawmakers’ Visit to Jailed Opposition Leader

Memo To Venezuela: The Soviets Nationalized Food Distribution And Guess What? It Didn’t Work

Mother of all battles in scarcity-hit Venezuela: having a baby

The last available health ministry figures for infant mortality under 1 show an increase of 2.35 percent from January to October last year compared with the same period of 2013.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Madrid’s City Hall and the man on the Moon: Tales from a socialist mindset

Puerto Rico: The bets are on

Argentina: #Nisman’s killer washed his hands in the sink

Venezuela: A lesson we can’t forget

Brazil: Meet The Indoctrinator

Mexico: El Chapo’s buddies tunneled out, too UPDATED

Planned Parenthood and the evil of our times

Argentina: Judge in Cristina’s hotel case, “If I turn up suicided, look for the killer”

LatAm currencies slide

Colombia: Today’s infographic

Cuba: “Mojito diplomacy”

Cuban embassy now open in DC



Sunday palate cleanser: Royal Ballet company class

July 26th, 2015

This will [hopefully] be the first of a new category, Sunday palate cleansers, dedicated to the arts:

Royal Ballet company class

Insights at Neo-neocon.

Madrid’s City Hall and the man on the Moon: Tales from a socialist mindset

July 25th, 2015

Taking time out from Latin American news stories to look at a news item that illustrates one more instance of government overreach:

Edificio España is a 25-floor, 384′ high building that took 5 years to build, and at the time of its inauguration in 1953 was Europe’s tallest hotel, office and apartment building. If you are in Madrid, you can’t miss it.

It has been vacant since 2007.

Last year the Chinese real estate conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group bought it for €265 million from Banco Santander, who had paid constructor Metrovacesa €389 million. Under the deal,

the city allowed the proprietor to tear down part of the 25-story structure but stipulated that the façade and side wings should remain intact.

Dalian Wanda proposes tearing down the whole thing, and rebuilding

the façade to make it look exactly the same again, using similar materials that comply with modern building standards.

But noooo! (emphasis added)

The request was not well received in Madrid City Hall, now in thehands of a leftist bloc named Ahora Madrid after a quarter century of conservative rule by the Popular Party.
. . .

Local government sources have told EL PAÍS that the department of city planning will instruct Dalian Wanda to maintain as much of the main body of the building as necessary to prop up the façade, which may not be demolished in any case.

The company, which is chaired by Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man according to Forbes magazine, says that “the consolidation of the façade is not viable under safe conditions. There are no prior references or similar experiences relating to maintaining a structure of similar height and dimensions, which additionally lacks bearing capacity.

To which City Hall found a former head of the Madrid Professional Association of Architects and a university professor who teaches structure calculus, who compared tearing down the building while preserving the façade with putting a man on the Moon,

But if we’ve been to the Moon, there’s almost nothing that is technically impossible.

Last time I looked, Spain didn’t send anyone to the Moon, but you can be sure any foreign investors thinking of doing business in Madrid (with an unemployment rate of 17.53 % in 2014) will be looking elsewhere.

In the meantime, Dalian Wanda is left holding the bag.

Puerto Rico: The bets are on

July 24th, 2015

Wall Street, Seeing Opportunity, Invests in Struggling Hotels in Puerto Rico

On Thursday, the island received a lift from one of its biggest cheerleaders, John A. Paulson, the billionaire hedge fund manager, who is investing $20 million for the San Juan Beach Hotel. This week, Fundamental Advisors, another Wall Street investment firm, bought the iconic El San Juan Resort and Casino for $71 million from Blackstone.

Romantic fools, or do they know something we don’t?



Argentina: #Nisman’s killer washed his hands in the sink

July 24th, 2015

While the official investigation drags on, the latest:

EXPERT WITNESS USES ANIMATION TO PROVE ARGENTINE PROSECUTOR NISMAN WAS MURDERED

An expert witness brought to trial by the family, Daniel Salcedo, presented evidence this week proving that Nisman could not have killed himself and made the blood stains found in his bathroom.

. . .

Salcedo told the chief prosecutor in the Nisman case, Viviana Fein, that bloodstains in the bathroom could not have been made by Nisman because of the angle at which he fell. The stains, he argued, were “almost half a meter above where the victim’s head was found.” In addition, he noted that no bloodstains were found under the sink, only above it. Had Nisman shot himself and fell to the floor under the sink, it is to be expected that some blood would splatter there.

Salcedo used a digital animation to make his point. His evidence will be taken into consideration, though the federal police have ruled out homicide.

More:

Salcedo also presented Fein with a digital animation sequence to back his murder hypothesis, noting that the blood stains slanted downward and began at a height of 60 centimeters (23.5 inches), or almost 50 centimeters (20 inches) above the spot where the victim’s head was found, the daily said Tuesday.

The expert said the alleged killer was standing behind Nisman and to the right, while the prosecutor was down on one knee by his bathtub.

The blood stains could have occurred when the purported killer shook his hands before washing them, Salcedo said.

Federal Police experts and an expert hired by the defense team of Diego Lagomarsino are ruling out the existence of another person inside Nisman’s apartment.

Venezuela: A lesson we can’t forget

July 24th, 2015

Venezuela: A lesson we can’t forget.

You’re probably thinking, “But Fausta, we have bigger things to worry about: ISIS, border crime, Iran nuclear deals. Why are you carping about Venezuela?” For the answer, read my article here.

Brazil: Meet The Indoctrinator

July 23rd, 2015

I can hear Vin Diesel speaking in Portuguese.

Brazilian comic-book antihero out for revenge against corruptionThe Indoctrinator’s battle against unscrupulous officials has made the character a cult hit

Get this man an agent!


O Doutrinador is the creation of Rio native Luciano Cunha, who started the strip on line
The Indoctrinator appears to personify, in an extreme way, the indignation many Brazilians hold against the political class in their country, their bad feelings about government, and the protests “against everything” that has sprouted up over the past few years.

But Cunha’s fans are just not typical comic-book readers. He believes people read his creation not because of the artwork but because of the message the main character tries to get across: that “some sort of justice” will be handed down against corrupt public officials.

Cunha isn’t able to make a living from O Doutrinador. Any agents out there? I want to see him at Comicon, and getting bids on movie rights!

You can read O Doutrinador online. Here’s the Facebook page.

Mexico: El Chapo’s buddies tunneled out, too UPDATED

July 23rd, 2015

Not only did he tunnel out, ‘El Chapo’ Ally Tunneled Out Months Before

Nearly 14 months before crime boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escaped from his maximum-security cell through a tunnel, one of his Sinaloa Cartel lieutenants broke out of another prison in the same way. (emphasis added)

The passage through which Adelmo Niebla González and two underlings busted out of a prison in Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa state, in May 2014 shared many of the same technological and building styles.

Side-by-side

We’re talking about a cartel known for its elaborate tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border, but Mexican authorities put them all on ground-floor because,

“No one can say it was obvious this would have happened,” Mr. Rubido, whose more than three decades included several stints as Mexico’s top spy chief, said of Mr. Guzmán’s escape.

How do you spell c-o-r-r-u-p-t-i-o-n . . .

Hey, how about an open border!

UPDATE
At Breakfast to Talk El Chapo, Drug War Veterans Serve Up Cynicism

Over eggs at a San Antonio café, a reporter listens as former law enforcement officials and one ex-drug cartel operative swap theories about El Chapo’s latest escape and what it says about the U.S. and Mexico

Sinaloa became the McDonald’s of the drug trade. Customers could find its products — cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines — everywhere. Operations ran so smoothly that after Chapo’s arrest in February 2014, many experts predicted that they’d continue to hum along without him. However, hopes ran high in the United States and Mexico that Chapo’s arrest would herald a new era of trust between the two governments. The arrest was seen as a sign that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto was serious about ending a long history of government corruption, and that Washington, after some skepticism, could trust him.

Chapo’s latest spectacular escape seems to have put an end to any such illusions.

Planned Parenthood and the evil of our times

July 22nd, 2015

Planned Parenthood and the evil of our times.

The practice puts PP on the same level as the Chinese government’s organ harvesting from executed prisoners (a practice the Chinese authorities claim to have stopped). Read my article here.