Posts Tagged ‘Ikea’

The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Argentina Runs Out of Other People’s Money
The demonstration in Buenos Aires this month was the largest since Argentines restored democracy in 1983.

In the second quarter, the economy contracted by 1.4%. The Buenos Aires-based think tank Foundation for Latin American Economic Research (known by its Spanish initials FIEL) is forecasting 2012 GDP growth of only 1.5%. Inflation is estimated by independent economists at almost 25% annually. As salaries are adjusted upward to compensate for the loss of purchasing power, workers are being pushed into higher tax brackets. Argentines traveling abroad now have to explain their plans to government bureaucrats if they want to buy hard currency.

Add these pocketbook issues to the rising rate of violent crime, recurring corruption scandals, increasing antidemocratic efforts to silence independent media outlets and pronouncements from Mrs. Kirchner’s inner circle that it wants to amend the constitution to allow her to run for a third term. The Kirchner government has also angered labor leaders by letting it be known that it plans to shift union control of hundreds of millions of dollars in health-care premiums to the government.

Turkey in November in Argentina

Software founder McAfee denies killing neighbor

Trickle-down diplomacy
Evo Morales tries to swap a stream for a piece of Chilean seafront

In sign of growing clout, Brazil’s corn helps hold up U.S. market

As the result of a 2009 WTO ruling, Brazil now receives about $17 million in monthly payments from U.S. taxpayers — money being used to advance the Brazilian cotton industry with research on best practices, pest management and other issues. The Obama administration agreed to the payments as an alternative to either curbing government support for U.S. cotton growers or having Brazil slap import taxes on American goods to compensate for the loss to its farmers.

Oil in Brazil
The perils of Petrobras
How Graça Foster plans to get Brazil’s oil giant back on track

Colombia Peace Talk Negotiators Meet Again

Students protest Costa Rica’s information crimes law

IKEA: No deep business contacts with Cuban suppliers
Test sofa sets were of such poor quality that no orders were placed, IKEA says.

Cuban health care
Nip and tuck in
Medicine is big business in Cuba

Can I Wake Up?

Reporters Without Borders condemns Castro regime’s increasing harassment of Cuban independent journalists

Los fabricantes de burbujas

Holding Salvadoran War Criminals Accountable: The Massacre at University of Central America, San Salvador, 1989

Mexico ex-mayor killed after surviving two attacks
The former mayor of a town in western Mexico, who had survived two earlier assassination attempts, has been beaten to death

Mexican Economy Slows on Weak Exports

Panama Canal’s $5 billion makeover could be boon for South Florida
The $5.25 billion makeover of this century-old engineering marvel could be a boon for South Florida.

Make this a Koki Day!

Puerto Rico Statehood: Luis Fortuño Pushes Bid To Become 51st State After Status Vote

The GREAT devaluation robbery coming to Venezuela

Of Virtual Ice Cream Plants And Ministers In The Chávez Revolution

Fake Venezuelan Olympians held
Ten Venezuelans who falsely claimed to be Olympic weightlifters are arrested in Buenos Aires after scans show drug capsules in their stomachs.

The week’s posts:
More #post-election info: 28% Latino poverty rate

Argentina: Broadcast licenses, cable TV and fiber-optic Internet networks to be auctioned off

China & Brazil: Striking out while the iron’s hot

Belize: McAfee goes bonkers, UPDATED

Cuban slave labor used to build Ikea furniture in the 1980s

Friday, May 11th, 2012

With the personal approval of Fidel Castro himself, IKEA used Cuban prison labor to make furniture in the late 1980s, but it wasn’t limited to furniture:

STASI records show Cuba deal included IKEA furniture, antiques, rum and guns
Documents of East Germany’s STASI security agency provide more details of the deal between Cuba and IKEA.

The memo notes that the agreements included a deal on “the production of furniture for export to Sweden” — the world headquarters of IKEA — with a total value of 12 million German Marks. But it does not specifically mention IKEA or prison labor.

It appears from the memo that Delta acted on behalf of the Swedish furniture and housewares chain.

Also mentioned in the memo are deals on textiles as well as 10,000 tons of grapefruit juice valued at 4.5 million marks, 200,000 bottles of rum and 200,000 cigars — all three products highly coveted in East Germany because of their “tropical” image.

KuA also ordered three containers of “antique furniture,” the memo added. Castro’s government seized tens of thousands of valuable antiques, paintings and sculptures as wealthy families fled abroad in the early years of the revolution and had to leave their property there.

The Cuban partners also asked for KuA help in exporting to the non-communist world what the document called “Oldtimers” — the antique U.S.-made cars and trucks still seen in Cuban streets to this day. “400 Oldtimers are ready for export,” the document said.

Alberto de la Cruz links to Penúltimos Días, which posted a page of the document,

I’m sure some Castro apologist somewhere is saying, “but they have free healthcare.”

It is an island prison.

The rich, the debt, the Ikea hell, and the roundup

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Spain’s Duchess of Alba, one of the world’s richest women, is remarrying at age 85. The Will of the Duchess of Alba: All for Love and Money. All, except good judgement, at least when it comes to plastic surgery:

Maybe she’ll buy herself some eyebrows for the wedding.

From my Facebook thread,

Todd wrote: “If I were going to marry a babboon, I’d pick a much younger one.”

Now, now, Todd…


National debt has increased $4 trillion under Obama: Currently the National Debt stands at roughly 97% of Gross Domestic Product. Does anyone want to pretend that the ratio will be the same when we’re talking about $25 trillion in debt?

How about an outline?


The last time I went to Ikea Bill Clinton was President; Charles Martin reminded me why: Dante’s IKEA.


What’s next for Moammar Gadhafi?
Nobody seems to know where the embattled Libyan leader is hiding, or where he’s headed. Here, 5 predictions

I very much doubt that Muammar will be welcome in Caracas until Hugo’s moved the gold and is not worried about sanctions.


Which brings me to the next item,

How to get $12 billion of gold to Venezuela

It’s not much of a precedent, but it’s the only precedent we’ve got; my gut feeling is that Venezuela would be do well to get away with paying 3.3% of the total value of the gold in total expenses. Given that the gold is worth some $12.3 billion, the cost of Chávez’s gesture politics might reasonably be put at $400 million or so.

It seems to me that Chávez has four main choices here. He can go the FT’s route, and just fly the gold to Caracas while insuring each shipment for its market value. He can go the Spanish route, and try to transport the gold himself, perhaps making use of the Venezuelan navy. He could attempt the mother of all repo transactions. Or he could get clever.

In the first instance, the main cost would be paid by Venezuela to a big insurance company. I have no idea how many insurers there are in the world who would be willing to take on this job, but it can’t be very many, and it might well be zero. If Venezuela wanted just one five-ton shipment flown to Caracas in conditions of great secrecy, that would be one thing. But Chávez’s intentions have been well telegraphed at this point, making secrecy all but impossible. And even if the insurer got the first shipment through intact, there would be another, and another, and another — each one surely the target of criminally-inclined elements both inside and outside the Venezuelan government. Gold is the perfect heist: anonymous, untraceable, hugely valuable. Successfully intercepting just one of the shipments would yield a haul of more than $300 million, making it one of the greatest robberies of all time. And you’d have 39 chances to repeat the feat.

Would any insurer voluntarily hang a “come get me” sign around its neck like that? They’d have to be very well paid to do so. So maybe Chávez intends to take matters into his own hands, and just sail the booty back to Venezuela on one of his own naval ships. Again, the theft risk is obvious — seamen can be greedy too — and this time there would be no insurance. Chávez is pretty crazy, but I don’t think he’d risk $12 billion that way.

Chavez Credits Castro, Jesus for Recovery


Former Tiananmen Square Student Leader Urges Joe Biden to Call for an End to China’s One-Child Policy, after Biden says he “fully understands” the one-child policy.