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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 06:11 PM
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Nisman money laundering case reaches Cassation (Appeals) Court in Argentina.

The country’s highest criminal court, the First Division of the Federal Cassation Court in Buenos Aires, will soon begin the process of determining if a key piece of evidence can be considered admissible in the money laundering investigation against the late AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s mother, Sara Garfunkel, and Diego Lagomarsino — the IT expert and confidant who lent Nisman the gun that killed him on January 18, 2015.

Lawyers representing Claudio Picón, who has also been charged in connection with the case, had requested that the courts dismiss a report by the FATF (the U.S. money laundering abatement bureau) that linked Picón to a Merrill Lynch bank account in the U.S. containing $666,000 and registered in the name of Nisman, his mother, sister, and Lagomarsino. The motion was filed on the grounds that it contains classified information and “cannot be considered proof or evidence and thus cannot be included in any court proceedings.”

The Picón lawyers' request to dismiss the FATF money laundering report has been rejected by lower courts.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/210069/moneylaundering-case-reaches-cassation-court

The "classified" information Picón's lawyers mentioned almost certainly refers to the fact that Picón is linked to the CIA through one of his partners in his firm, Palermopack.

Picón owned, through Palermopack, Nisman's Audi Q5 crossover and paid Nisman at least $200,000 (as proven by a Bank of America check for that amount found in Nisman's safe) for unspecified services - that is, a bribe; but on whose behalf?

Former Costco exec launches The Organic Coup, America's first 100% organic fast-food restaurant.

For most adults in the United States, juggling the responsibility of healthy eating with other priorities can be tough. This is exactly why the former executive of Costco, Erica Welton, launched the restaurant chain The Organic Coup.

Welton was a food buyer for Costco for 14 years before leaving but did so because she was inspired to meet consumers’ demand for some tasty organic fare. "We saw this huge shift at Costco with people purchasing more and more organic food," she told Business Insider magazine.

Won over by the concept of organic, Welton began purchasing pesticide-free produce and antibiotic and hormone-free meat(s) for her own family. She founded The Organic Coup shortly after leaving Costco, and opened the first location last month in Pleasanton, California, and already has happy customers lining up for more.

Welton plans to open 25 more restaurants just like it over the next 14 months, mainly on the West Coast. Eventually, the ambitious entrepreneur wants to expand The Organic Coup to cities including Las Vegas, New York City, Austin, and Chicago. She went through the tedious process of getting the chain certified by the USDA because she wanted customers to be able to trust The Organic Coup’s promise of organic food.

At: http://www.healthyadviceteam.com/former-costco-exec-launches-the-us-first-100-organic-fast-food-restaurant/

A string of attacks against progressives rocks Argentina.

Three separate attacks on party and labor union offices affiliated with progressive politics took place in Argentina over the weekend. The attacks, which resulted in windows shattered by gunfire and at least three injuries, have been repudiated by numerous lawmakers. President Mauricio Macri, however, has not commented on the incidents.

The first incident took place early Saturday morning at the local office of the center-left Kirchnerist youth chapter, La Cámpora, in seaside Mar del Plata. Staffers arrived at the office to find the front window shattered by five bullet holes fired from an assault rifle. Neighborhood residents who filed the police report stated that the attack took place around 1:00 a.m. Police are confident that nearby security cameras will help identify the perpetrators. No one was present at the time, and there were no injuries.

That day at around 11:00 p.m., as members of the center-left Nuevo Encuentro party gathered to inaugurate their new Villa Crespo neighborhood headquarters in midtown Buenos Aires, several shots were fired at the crowd from an apartment high-rise facing the office. Two women were injured, including a mother holding a toddler in her arms. Both women were rushed to the hospital, and are expected to make a full recovery.

The following afternoon, as members of the State Employees Union (ATE) demonstrated in Mendoza against ongoing austerity cutbacks and layoffs, a group of approximately 50 men attacked the ATE protesters assembled outside the Mendoza Racetrack, injuring several union members including their leader, Roberto Macho, who was hospitalized for a possible broken nose.

Congresswoman Soledad Sosa of the Workers' Party, who represents the district and had joined the demonstration, reported that police were present in the area but did nothing to intervene.

Congresswoman Fernanda Raverta of the Kirchnerist FpV, who represents Mar del Plata, linked the incident at the La Cámpora local office to President Mauricio Macri's "highly aggressive tone in his annual address to Congress on March 1, which some of his more violent supporters interpreted as a cue to act with impunity." She likewise pointed to Macri and his allies in Argentina's influential right-wing media, "who use calls for 'unity' to cloak their intolerance against those who dissent."

Congressman Carlos Heller, an ally of Kirchnerism from Buenos Aires, concurred. "We are a few days from the 40th anniversary of Argentina's last military coup in 1976, and therefore must not permit political intolerance or violence. I call on the president, on the mayor, and on the security minister to use all means at their disposal to investigate these acts and to prevent them in the future."

The mayors of Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata both belong to the same right-wing coalition that brought President Macri to office in December. But unlike Mar del Plata Mayor Carlos Arroyo, who repudiated the attack in his city and expressed his solidarity with his FpV rivals, neither President Macri nor Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta made any official comments either directly or through a surrogate.

The leader of the Nuevo Encuentro party, Martín Sabbatella, blamed the attacks on a "political context in which opponents (of the right-wing Macri administration) have been vilified as people" and called on President Macri to "emphatically repudiate these incidents of political violence, which by sheer luck didn't kill anybody." Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio later announced that they will meet with Sabbatella to discuss the incident.

Sabbatella also mentioned that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had called him to express her concern and support. The former president, he said, "was reminded of some of the darkest days in our country's recent history" - a reference to the military dictatorship which ruled Argentina with an iron fist from 1976 until the collapse of their laissez-faire economic policies forced them to call elections in 1983.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/283782/amplio-repudio-politico-a-los-ataques-a&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.infonews.com%2Fnota%2F283815%2Fsabbatella-culpo-al-contexto-politico

Argentina’s ties with China: pragmatism over politics.

Argentina’s new conservative government is reviewing several major projects to be carried out jointly with China. But despite deriding the joint projects for “lacking in transparency” during his campaign last year, President Mauricio Macri's administration is not expected to put the brakes on an alliance that Beijing itself classifies as strategic.

His centre-left predecessor, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, signed a set of laws in March 2015 that gave rise to a framework agreement with China on economic cooperation and investment, strengthening relations between the two countries.

“We can’t deny China’s weight in the world. It is not in Argentina’s interest to break with China,” said the new Argentine foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, describing their ties as part of “a balanced relationship with the world.”

Macri used a currency swap deal (the exchange of principal and interest in one currency for the same in another) in effect with China since 2014 as the first measure he took to shore up Argentina’s foreign reserves after taking office in December. He also chose Diego Guelar, a diplomat who is considered one of the promoters of the alliance between China and Argentina, as Ambassador to Beijing.

China’s ambassador in Buenos Aires, Yang Wan-ming, pointed out that his country is the third-largest investor in Argentina, and that in the last five years, investments and merger and acquisition operations in Argentina have totaled 8.3 billion dollars.

One of the most emblematic projects to be reviewed is the construction of the Néstor Kirchner-Jorge Cepernic Hydroelectric Complex in Santa Cruz Province, for a total investment of five billion dollars - 85% of which is to be financed by China.

The contract for the project was granted in 2013 to the Patagonia Dams consortium headed by the Argentine companies Hidrocuyo and Electroingeniería and the Chinese firm Gezhboua Group. The complex, which includes the construction of two dams on the Santa Cruz River, will generate 1,740 MW of electricity. This is projected to cover 8% of electricity demand in this energy-strapped country once it has been completed in 2020.

Another large project, agreed to in November, involves the construction of two nuclear plants – the fourth and fifth in the country – with a total investment of some 15 billion dollars. More than half of the parts in the plants are to be produced domestically, and 85% of the financing will likewise come from China.

Allowing these projects to go ahead “will set a good example for substantial China-Argentina cooperation in the future,” Ambassador Yang said.

Apparently, pragmatism appears to have once more taken precedence over political rhetoric.

At: http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/argentinas-ties-with-china-pragmatism-over-politics/

Pope Francis expressed his "concern about the serious economic and social situation in Argentina."

Speaking at the Santa Marta Residence in the Holy See, Pope Francis expressed his "concern about the serious economic and social situation prevailing in Argentina," especially from the "dismissal of public and private workers" and expressed support for the social movements of the world "as an important tool to exit the crisis in the economic system."

The pontiff made these remarks in an audience with Eduardo Murúa, president of the National Movement of Recovered Companies (worker-run co-ops whose former owners abandoned the firm), and Guillermo Robledo, president of the Hélder Cámara Movement for Peace between Religions and Peoples.

"Francis told us he was very concerned about the policies being applied today in Argentina because they exacerbate the problems of the poor and of workers," said Robledo. "We provided an overview of President Macri's austerity policies. We spoke of layoffs in the public sector as well as what was occurring in the private sector," said Murúa. "And we discussed our greatest concern, which is that Argentina is returning to a policy of foreign borrowing as the only way."

"We also discussed the implementation of repression on the part of the Macri government - and not so much toward opponents and towards the most impoverished sectors, where police repression is becoming tougher," he added.

"The Pope is very concerned about the Argentine people. He sees the Macri government as having a vindictive disposition, and as undermining unity and social peace," said Murúa.

Francis also drew a parallel with what happened after the bloody, right-wing coup against President Juan Domingo Perón in 1955. "You are very young and weren't there to see it," he told the activists, "but what is happening in Argentina is a kind of revenge towards the popular sectors and workers - as it was in 1955."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201603/12171-el-papa-mostro-su-preocupacion-por-la-grave-situacion-economica-y-social-de-la-argentina.html&prev=search

Monsanto threatens to exit India if govt imposes cuts on GM royalties

Source: Hindustan Times

Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed company, threatened to pull out of India on Friday if the government imposed a big cut in royalties that local firms pay for its genetically modified cotton seeds.

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India)(MMB), a joint venture with India’s Mahyco, licenses a gene that produces its own pesticide to a number of local seed companies in lieu of royalties and an upfront payment. MMB also markets the seeds directly, though the local licensees together command 90% of the market.

Acting on complaints of local seeds companies that MMB was charging high fees, the farm ministry last year formed a committee to look into the matter. The committee has now recommended about a 70% cut in royalty, or trait fee, that the seed companies pay to MMB, government sources said. The farm ministry is yet to take a decision on the committee’s recommendation.

In a partnership with Mahyco, US-based Monsanto launched a GM cotton variety in India in 2002 despite opposition from critics who questioned its safety, helping transform the country into the world’s top producer and second-largest exporter of the fibre. In a ruling last month, the Competition Commission of India, the antitrust regulator, said there were indications that MMB had abused its dominant position in the country and asked its director general to complete an investigation within two months.

Read more: http://www.hindustantimes.com/business/monsanto-threatens-to-exit-india-if-govt-imposes-cuts-on-gm-royalties/story-wM9mptHi2rCV6yVT1esbiO.html

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Despite devaluation, Argentina logs $160 million trade deficit in Macri's first full month in office

Argentina registered a merchandise trade deficit in January of $160 million, the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC) reported today.

The pullback in the nation's trade balance during the first month of 2016 was due to a fall in average export prices, especially agricultural commodities, of 17%. The deficit in January was nevertheless registered during the first full month in which President Mauricio Macri's export tax decrees were in effect, as well as the first full month after the 40% devaluation of the peso ordered on December 17.

These policies were touted as an effective stimulus for exports of industrial products and crops such as soy, wheat, corn, and regional products such as orchard produce. Total merchandise exports, however, reached $3.886 billion - a 9.5% decline from the $4.294 billion reported at the same time last year.

Argentina's dependence on agricultural exports (mostly milled and processed goods) increased markedly last month, with the share of exports from this sector increasing from 61% of the total a year ago to 68%. Agricultural exports grew by 1.5%, to $2.638 billion, despite a 21% collapse in agricultural export prices over the past year.

Industrial exports, however, did not share in the improvement, and plummeted by 28.6% from $1.378 billion in January 2015 to only $984 million in January 2016 mostly on lower quantities - the lowest reading for industrial exports in a decade. Energy exports fared even worse, plummeting by a third to $144 million in January.

Imports, meanwhile, outstripped exports for the third month in a row. These reached $4.046 billion, 4.1% below January of last year. Import prices fell 10% from a year ago, and this helped offset the 6% rise in import quantities that resulted from the Macri administration's lifting of most import controls.

As was the case with exports, imports in January exhibited a noticeably uneven performance depending on the sector: while imports of intermediate goods (those used as inputs in the production of other goods) fell by 18% from the same time last year, imports of motor vehicles and parts soared by 121%. This sharp increase occurred despite a 15% drop in auto sales during January, compared to the same time a year ago.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/283694/la-balanza-comercial-cerro-con-un-saldo&prev=search

Obama reorganises visit to Argentina to avoid 1976 coup anniversary

Source: The Guardian

President Barack Obama has rescheduled a trip to Buenos Aires following criticism over his planned presence in the Argentine capital on March 24, the 40th anniversary of the brutal 1976 coup that installed a military dictatorship - which the US initially supported.

The U.S. president will now travel to the southern tourist resort of Bariloche, nearly 1,000 miles from Buenos Aires, on March 24 to play golf.

The shuffle came after Nobel Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and other human rights activists called on Obama to cancel ­or at least reschedule ­his visit. According to the new schedule, Obama will arrive in the capital on the night of March 22, where he will meet President Mauricio Macri the next day before leaving for Bariloche.

A military junta imposed martial law on March 24, 1976, and began the killing of thousands of mostly young opponents of a regime that continued until democracy was restored in 1983.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/04/obama-urged-not-visit-argentina-40th-anniversary-military-coup

Considering Argentine President Mauricio Macri is a vocal sympathizer of the 1976 dictatorship, belives human rights are "a scam," and is flouting UN calls to release a political prisoner (indigenous activist Milagro Sala), President Obama should have skipped the visit altogether.

Rescheduling his arrival by one day was nevertheless a very thoughtful concession on the president's part.

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention calls on Argentina's Macri to release Milagro Sala.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention made ​​an "urgent appeal" to Argentine President Mauricio Macri that indigenous rights activist Milagro Sala, who has been behind bars with no charges since January 16, be immediately released. According to the AFP news agency, the United Nations gave the Macri administration two options: free Milagro Sala, or justify any refusal to do so in writing. In the latter case, the Working Group could launch an international case.

The brief of the complaint issued by the UN states that the Jujuy Province government (led by a close Macri ally, right-wing Governor Gerardo Morales) has formulated a "profuse and active state strategy of harassment and criminal prosecution of the leaders of the Tupac Amaru indigenous neighborhood organization (which Sala led) and the Network of Social Organizations of Jujuy in order to prevent protests" in that province.

This, according to the UN, "is an attempt to justify imprisonment in order to restrict their right to freedom of expression."

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a division of the UN High Commission on Human Rights, issued this appeal as a result of a complaint presented by Amnesty International, the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS - Argentina's most prominent human rights watchdog), and Lawyers in the Argentine Northwest for Human Rights and Social Studies (ANDHES). "The national government must now respond to the United Nations for this arbitrary arrest," declared CELS in a statement.

CELS officials recalled that despite filing criminal charges against Milagro Sala for incitement, unauthorized protest, and sedition on December 15, the state prosecutor appointed by Governor Morales could not obtain court approval to proceed with a criminal case. Sala was nevertheless arrested on January 16 with no charges and no judicial warrant, and after two weeks of arbitrary detention she was ordered released on January 29.

"But the Tupac Amaru leader was not released," CELS lawyers added, "because the day she was to be released, a local judge was called back from holiday in order to approve a separate warrant accusing Sala of fraud, extortion, and conspiracy."

The Macri administration's Minister of Justice, Germán Garavano, refused to reply, except by admonishing the UN "not to interfere with the judicial process, as our predecessors constantly did, whether we like the courts' decisions or not."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/283598/el-gobierno-cruzo-a-la-onu-por-milagro&prev=search

Nisman case prosecutor implicates the owner of the murder/suicide weapon, Diego Lagomarsino.

District Attorney Ricardo Sáenz, chief prosecutor on the case of the death of the controversial AMIA Bombing prosecutor Alberto Nisman, declared that Diego Lagomarsino, the Nisman computer technician and confidant whose gun was used to fire the fatal shot, should be declared a suspect in the case.

Sáenz, who replaced the initial prosecutor, Viviana Fein, in December, recategorized the wrongful death case as a murder investigation on February 25.

Speaking to Continental Radio, Sáenz stressed that doing so would be "the only way to put the case in order." Sáenz first brooked the possibility of officially naming Lagomarsino a suspect the day he declared the case as a murder investigation on February 25. For Sáenz, Lagomarsino should be investigated for murder and not solely for providing Nisman with the weapon that fired the fatal shot. "Lagomarsino has to be investigated in regards to all aspects of the case, even the death itself," he said, "but that's the judge's decision."

He was also "surprised" by Judge Fabiana Palmaghini's sudden decision to decide she has no jurisdiction over the case after having overseen it since days after Nisman's death on January 18, 2015. Palmaghini, a Criminal Court Judge, is transferring the case to a Federal Court - a controversial decision in itself since most Federal Court judges in Buenos Aires are known to be close to President Mauricio Macri.

Referring to yesterday's deposition of former State Intelligence operative Antonio "Jaime" Stiusso, Sáenz dismissed his "attempt to cast aspersions against the previous administration while himself knowing there is nothing in his own, very brief affidavit to indicate it." Stiusso, who worked closely with Nisman and persuaded him to dismiss his security detail shortly before his death, was fired by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner one month before Nisman's death.

Sáenz believes that both Fein and Palmaghini "have been promoting a fiction by which Lagomarsino is only charged with the delivery of the weapon." Doing so, he pointed out, allowed the computer technician to "participate in all aspects of the investigation" even as a potential suspect. Lagomarsino, said Sáenz, could then use the information to "appeal any court findings as to the mode of death, be it murder or a suicide."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/283573/el-fiscal-saenz-insiste-en-apuntar-contra&prev=search
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