I’m still recovering from peritonitis. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Wishing you a happy and blessed Easter,
J. S. Bach’s Easter Oratorio : Sir John Eliot Gardiner , 2013
Sir John Eliot Gardiner conductor
Hannah Morrison soprano, Proms debut artist
Meg Bragle mezzo-soprano, Proms debut artist
Nicholas Mulroy tenor
Peter Harvey bass
English Baroque Soloists (pre-1977, Monteverdi Orchestra)
London, PROMS 2013
Royal Albert Hall .
Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana, at the urging of the United Nations’ International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala and the Kremlin, has convicted Igor Bitkov, his wife, Irina, and their 26-year-old daughter, Anastasia, in spite of lack of plausible evidence.
Mary O’Grady describes the Kremlin revenge:
Mr. Bitkov was the owner of the St. Petersburg-based North-West Timber Company (NWTC). In 2005 he borrowed money from a handful of Russian state banks to upgrade some of his factories. Around the same time, a senior executive of one of the banks that lent him money asked to buy 51% of the company, Mr. Bitkov told me from prison through his Guatemalan lawyer Rolando Alvarado last week. He turned down the offer.
From 2005 to 2007 NWTC revenues grew by 30%, according to company financial statements. In 2007 Sberbank valued the company at $428 million. By 2008 he’d repaid 71% of the loan, along with interest due. NWTC was worth 2.7 times the remaining $158 million owed. Nevertheless, Mr. Bitkov says, in April 2008 the banks demanded that he immediately repay the balance.
He couldn’t comply and the company was forced into bankruptcy. Mr. Bitkov alleges that the bankruptcy administrator sold NWTC’s assets at fire-sale prices to entities controlled by various executives of the banks.
The Bitkovs feared for their lives and fled the country.
And that was only the beginning of their woes. Read the rest here.
This case raises many questions. For instance, I do not understand why the whole family is persecuted – after all, they lost all their assets. Why is the UN involved in this? What was the banks’ initial involvement?
And on and on. Should we just look at this as another instance of the long reach of tyranny and corruption?
Brazilians want blue-eyed babies so they’re buying sperm from the US:
Over the past seven years, human semen imports from the U.S. to Brazil have surged some 3,000%, with most buyers selecting donors whose online profiles suggest they will yield light-complexioned and preferably blue-eyed children.
Blond, blue-eyed guys are in demand,
The preference for white donors reflects a persistent preoccupation with race in a country where social class and skin color correlate with glaring accuracy. More than 50% of Brazilians are black or mixed-race, a legacy of Brazil having imported more than 10 times as many African slaves than the U.S.; it was the last Western country to ban slavery, in 1888. The descendants of white colonizers and immigrants—many of whom were lured to Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the ruling elite explicitly sought to “whiten” the population—control most of the country’s political power and wealth.
In such a racially divided society, having fair-skinned offspring is often viewed as a way to provide a child with better prospects, from a higher salary to fairer treatment by the police.
And don’t forget market forces:
Imports are rising in part because many Brazilians simply don’t trust the national product. Unlike in the U.S., it is illegal to pay men to donate their sperm here, so domestic stocks are low and information about Brazilian donors sparse.
I see a marketing opportunity for Scandinavians, too.
You can calculate the odds for eye color here.
He has denied wrongdoing but said on Wednesday that he did not want to be an obstacle to the country’s development.
Party leaders in Congress later agreed to accept President Kuczynski’s resignation. He had been facing an impeachment vote on Thursday.
Pressure has been growing after footage emerged of his allies offering opposition politicians financial rewards if they backed him in the vote.
Is he gone for good now?
Congress still has to vote on whether to accept President Kuczynski’s resignation. Lawmakers will meet on Thursday to discuss the issue and are expected to put it to a vote later on Thursday or Friday.
. . .
Mr Kuczynski has already been through one impeachment vote. In December, his opponents wanted to remove him for allegedly receiving illegal payments from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.
You can tell PPK’s resignation is bad news when you realize the Venezuelan communists celebrated with fireworks.
I don’t know what comes next. All I know is that LatAm news is an endless “shampoo rinse repeat” cycle of news in countries where people never learn.
The new cryptocurrency cannot be legally traded in the USA:
With the economy in shambles and the country cut off from debt markets, Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro launched the so-called petro cryptocurrency last month in a bid to skirt intensifying financial sanctions from the U.S., the European Union and others aiming to punish the government for its authoritarian rule.
“Investing in the petro should be seen as investing in the dictatorship,” a senior U.S. official said after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning the currency.
Indeed, (emphasis added)
U.S. officials say any other cryptocurrencies created by Venezuela’s government in the future will also be subject to the ban, which took effect immediately. Echoing the U.S. action, Venezuelan lawmakers opposed to Mr. Maduro say the petro is illegal because it was created without parliamentary approval, raising questions about the asset’s validity if there were a change of power.
The petro is the regime’s cheap excuse for a make-believe revenue source in exchange for nothing. If they were simply oriented towards creating a money laundering tool, there’s plenty of bitcoin action in that direction.
In other Venezuela news,
Tuberculosis is on the upswing
A city issues its currency: Venezuelan City Launches Its Own Currency Amid Cash Crunch
How can #Maduro say that the central bank of Venezuela is strong? Individual regions in Venezuela are starting there own "mini" central banks in order to print their own currencies. #socialism at its finest folks. https://t.co/PmIapDJF0c
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) March 20, 2018
Even the Russians are starting to worry: Rosneft seeks to ease fears over Venezuela loans.
Russian oil producer says repayments are being made on schedule
Last, but not least,
Venezuela's annual inflation rate for today, 3/20/18, is 8243%. pic.twitter.com/yK04z5txol
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) March 20, 2018
Canadian-based Phantom Secure made “tens of millions of dollars” selling the modified Blackberry devices for use by the likes of the Sinaloa Cartel, investigators said.
The charges marked the first time US authorities have targeted a company for knowingly making encrypted technology for criminals.
The Department of Justice arrested Vincent Ramos in Seattle last week. He was indicted on Thursday along with four associates.
. . .
They are charged with racketeering and conspiracy to aid the distribution of drugs. Both crimes have a maximum penalty of life in prison. Mr Ramos is the only one of the group currently in custody.
“This organisation Phantom Secure was designed to facilitate international drug trafficking all throughout the entire world,” US attorney Adam Braverman told the BBC.
“The difference is this company was specifically-designed to aid international drug trafficking organisations,” and new customers needed a referral from an existing customer. A six-month subscription cost $2,000-$3,000, easily affordable by their target customers.
The only surprising thing is that it took this long to create the business.
Linked to by The Other McCain. Thank you!