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forest444

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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 06:11 PM
Number of posts: 5,902

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3rd-place candidate Sergio Massa declines to endorse either man in Argentine presidential runoff

Sergio Massa was seen as the kingmaker in Argentina’s approaching presidential election, with the power to influence more than a fifth of the electorate after taking third place in last month’s first round. But he announced his refusal to throw his weight behind either candidate now facing a run-off vote later this month — casting uncertainty over the outcome of a close race that will end 12 years of populist rule by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner.

Despite the congressman’s pivotal position, he is stepping back from the unpredictable contest between Mauricio Macri, the right-wing mayor of Buenos Aires, and Daniel Scioli, the government-backed governor of the Province of Buenos Aires. “There are 5 million kingmakers, not one,” said Massa in an interview with the Financial Times, referring to the voters that backed his candidacy. “To attempt to influence the run-off vote would be to mock their trust in me. I’m not planning to support either candidate.”

Whoever wins the run-off on November 22 will inherit an economy which, though growing, has a ballooning fiscal deficit, inflation of about 20%, and a ongoing shortage of access to global capital markets following Argentina’s 2001 default. But despite speculation that he might back the market-friendly Macri — whom many see as the favorite after his surprisingly strong showing in the first round — in return for ministerial positions for his supporters, Massa says this would be “absurd.”

Massa — former mayor of Tigre, a middle-class suburban district north of Buenos Aires — was President Fernández de Kirchner’s cabinet chief in 2008-09 before splitting from the government and forming the centrist Renewal Front party, which gained seats in the 2013 midterms.

Massa criticises what he says is a “campaign of fear” from both sides, with Macri’s camp warning (despite his numerous padded contract scandals as mayor) corruption will reign if he loses, while Scioli’s supporters claim Argentines will lose their social rights if his opponents take power. “Argentines must vote with hope, not fear,” says Massa.

The congressman, whose coalition controls 36 of 257 seats in the lower chamber of Congress, vows to play a central role in checking the power of the next administration, since neither Macri nor Scioli will have the majority needed in both houses to pass laws without third-party support.

At: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ec5f24b6-8391-11e5-8e80-1574112844fd.html#axzz3qve2LAWa
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This was a surprise to almost everyone (although not to me, I must admit). Though probably not decisive, this announcement is all in all good news for Scioli given that polls suggest that Massa's voters lean toward Macri (the Clarín effect, since Massa's voters, while not right-wing per sé, tend to rely heavily on Clarín and its cable news outfit, TN, for their news).

Conventional wisdom had it that Massa would surely endorse Macri because, while his policies are much closer to Scioli (they're both Peronists), Massa and (especially) his wife are known to harbor a seething personal grudge against the Kirchners for having fired him in 2009 (he had hoped to succeed Cristina Kirchner as president with their endorsement, and that basically put the kibosh on those hopes).

Massa, however, still wants to be president (and hey, why not), and privately he knows that if Macri takes office next month, and does so thanks to him, the economic calamity and riots that will almost certainly follow will make Massa - more than Macri, ironically - the most hated man in Argentina. On the other hand, if Scioli wins, and if Massa plays his cards right, Scioli would owe him - and that could mean endorsing Massa for President in 2023.

Raúl Castro confirms retirement on historic visit to Mexico.

Source: Telesur

Cuban President Raúl Castro confirmed during a diplomatic meeting in Mexico on Friday he would be stepping down from office in 2018, an announcement he had already made two years ago. “I will not become the great-grandfather nor the great-grandson because otherwise Cubans would get bored of me,” Castro said, according to El Financiero.

The Cuban leader was at a lunch in Mérida, the capital of the southeastern state of Yucatán, with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Castro said he would like to return to Merida after his retirement from office. President Raúl Castro and his brother, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, lived in Mexico City in 1955, where they planned the Cuban Revolution.

President Castro's visit to Mexico was his first as Head of State and reinforced a change in relations that were severed by former President Vicente Fox (2000-06), who made former Cuban leader Fidel Castro feel uninvited during a regional summit in Mexico in 2002. Fox at the time suggested to Fidel Castro that he leave the country and not attend the dinner for the leaders of the region.

Raúl Castro, however, honored the Mexico’s “peaceful stance and solidarity” as the country had been the only one in Latin America to not cut ties with Cuba during the Cold War. Now 84, Raúl Castro has already picked a likely successor and announced in 2013 his intention to establish term limits and age caps for the presidency.

Read more: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Raul-Castro-Confirms-Retirement-on-Historic-Visit-to-Mexico-20151107-0002.html

Leaked Comcast Docs: Data Caps Have Nothing to Do With Network Congestion.

Source: Philadelphia Magazine

Comcast’s new data caps for Internet usage aren’t meant to keep its network running smoothly. Instead, the goal is “fairness and providing a more flexible policy to our customers,” according to leaked Comcast instructional documents found on Reddit on Friday.

Comcast has implemented four different data usage trials in the United States — and the most recent plans charge users $10 for every 50 GB of data they use over the 300 GB threshold. The program is expanding to Arkansas and Virginia December 1.

In the leaked documents, Comcast specifically tells customer-service reps not to say "the program is about congestion management." It also tells them not to use the term "data cap."

To be fair, Comcast won't charge you for the first three times you exceed 300 GB, and will send you a courtesy ‘in-browser’ notice and an email letting you know when you reach 90% of your monthly data usage plan amount. You can also elect to receive notifications at as low as 50% of your monthly plan.

"This plan sets up a mechanism that those who use more, pay more and those who use less, pay less," Charlie Douglas, executive director of corporate communications at Comcast said in an interview on Saturday.

On the leaked documents, however, Douglas said: "Just like we’re educating customers, we’re also educating care agents. Everything in those documents is consistent with everything we’re saying both internally and externally."

Read more: http://www.phillymag.com/business/2015/11/07/comcast-leak-data-cap/



It's not the money, it's the principle (don't cha know).

Imported subway cars claimed by Macri to be retained at Customs found hidden in a Clarín warehouse.

The City Government of Buenos Aires, headed by current right-wing presidential candidate Mauricio Macri, denounced days ago through an article in Clarín that the National Government retained 30 Nagoya-5000 subway cars in Customs. However, according to enelsubte.com, an online daily specializing in issues affecting the Buenos Aires Subway, 24 of these cars are in a warehouse owned by the Clarín Media Group. The remainder were already at the city's Polvorínes Street subway workshop.

The city subway authority, SBASE, today admitted this was the case; but insisted on blaming the national government for their being hidden from service, claiming in a statement that "the cars are not hidden. None can be put into service if the national government does not sign the certificates."

The website enelsubte.com clarified, however, that "the National Customs Office does not have authority over any subway cars stored in Clarín or city warehouses. "

The website also reported that Southside Buenos Aires warehouse where the 24 subway cars were found, is being rented by the city government from the Clarín Group for US$1.5 million a year. The Clarín Group, the largest media conglomerate in Argentina, is a vocal supporter of Macri's ongoing presidential bid and a top recipient of padded city contracts under his tenure as mayor.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201511/9512-la-ciudad-admitio-que-tiene-coches-del-subte-en-un-taller-de-clarin.html&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201511/9512-la-ciudad-admitio-que-tiene-coches-del-subte-en-un-taller-de-clarin.html&prev=search
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Note the freshly-installed rails, just for the occasion (this is a publishing warehouse, after all):

Chile sentences 64 former Pinochet era officers.

Source: Buenos Aires Herald

Chilean judge Hernán Crisosto of the Appeals Court of Santiago sentenced 64 former secret police officers (DINA) to jail time for the detention and disappearance of Washington Cid Urrutia in 1974 during the country’s military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet (1973-90). Judge Crisosto sentenced the former spy agents to 13, 10 and four years in jail.

The retired generals César Manríquez Bravo and Raúl Iturriaga Neumann, as well as brigadiers Miguel Krassnoff Martchenko, and Pedro Espinoza Bravo were given the highest sentences in this trial of 13 years. All of them are already serving prison terms of over 200 years for dozens of other human rights violations trials. A total of 35 other DINA officers, among them many women, were given ten-year sentences, while 24 others received four-year sentences for being accomplices to the crime. One agent was given a 541-day jail sentence. Crisosto, who is specialized in human rights violations cases, absolved 11 officers.

The 24-year-old was a militant of the revolutionary left movement (MIR) and was captured by DINA officers, together with his wife María Isabel Ortega and Hernán Carrasco Vásquez, on December 8, 1974, in his home in Santiago. The three were taken to a torture and extermination centre in Villa Grimaldi. His name first appeared in a July 1975 list of 119 disappeared Chileans published once in two Chilean newspapers. The article at the time said that the victims had supposedly been killed abroad in internal fighting between MIR members; but it was later revealed to be a cover up.

In 25 years of democracy, there have been 1,149 convictions handed down for dictatorship-era human rights crimes. During Pinochet’s dictatorship, a total of 3,200 citizens were killed by the regime, according to official figures. There are still 1,192 Chileans who are unaccounted for. A total of 33,000 people were kidnapped, detained and tortured due to their political views.

Chile’s military government retained support among conservatives after its downfall, and for years they blocked attempts to deal with the dictatorship's crimes. Pinochet himself died in 2006 without ever being convicted for human rights abuses.

Read more: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/202289/chile-sentences-64-formerpinochet-era-officers-

Opus Dei bishop in Argentina, an opponent of Pope Francis, steps down ahead of corruption probe.

In a surprise announcement, first made over weekend to a congregation in side Luján Cathedral, Oscar Sarlinga, the Bishop of Zárate-Campana, in Buenos Aires Province, is resigning his post amid an internal Church investigation into embezzlement, corruption and “abuse of power” within the clergy.

Sarlinga, who has a long history of confrontations with Pope Francis, was appointed to his post by Pope Benedict.

While Sarlinga declined to comment on what had prompted his resignation, the ecclesiastical investigation into allegations of malpractice in the Zárate-Campana parish, including money laundering and sexual abuse, was likely a central factor in determining his decision. The investigation is ongoing and was launched by Pope Francis a year ago, who appointed his successor in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Mario Poli, to lead the inquiry.

According to sources inside the church, the investigation examined a number of specific instances of illegal activity in the parish, including “mismanagement of educational institutions” involving “a money laundering operation in San Pedro and San Pablo for diverting subsidies for soup kitchens granted by the Ministry of Social Development.” Also cited were reports of an alleged cover up and settlement regarding sexual abuse involving a priest within Sarlinga’s jurisdiction, and the resignation of at least one other member of the clergy who reported ethical violations in the parish.

The investigation has yet to publish its findings, but Sarlinga’s story also has a political angle. Sarlinga was also under pressure within the church regarding his relationship with Pope Francis and the proximity of the Catholic Church to institutional politics in the country and in Buenos Aires Province, the country's largest. Sarlinga’s relationship with the Pope soured in recent times by the disclosure of a 2008 plan to remove Archbishop Bergoglio of Buenos Aires (the future Pope Francis) from his post. The plan was discussed at the time with former Renewal Front presidential candidate Sergio Massa and businessman Jorge O’Reilly, who like Sarlinga is affiliated with conservative catholic group Opus Dei.

Sarlinga later admitted his involvement in discussions surrounding this plan, though he insisted it was not his alone.
Indeed, the episode was attributed by many to Sergio Massa primarily, who unlike the majority of key Argentine politicians contesting the 2015 general elections did not visit Pope Francis during the campaign.

Bishop Sarlinga is also close to the influential Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a former Vatican Secretary of State removed by Pope Francis early in his papacy.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/202233/former-francis-rival-steps-down

French ambassador mocks Jeb Bush's France-bashing as 'bombastic nonsense'.

Jeb Bush accomplished at least one thing during his Wednesday debate performance. Now he's not just a laughingstock, but an international laughingstock.

Bush, attacking Rubio for missing a string of Senate votes, said his rival needed to show up to work -- which he said wasn't that hard, given the Senate's "French work week." But CNBC reported his comment didn't sit well with the French ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, who said that Jeb Bush was full of "bombastic nonsense."

Araud later tweeted:

A French work week of 3 days? No. But a pregnancy paid leave of 16 weeks, yes! And proud of it.


And so we find ourselves in an oddly familiar place: A member of the Bush family tossing petty insults towards America's European allies, and our European allies reacting with glee at being able to mock the hammy Bush and his apparent ignorance of what le flying hell he is talking about.

Several American media outlets said Bush's insult fell flat, and French reporters appeared to agree Thursday. The Local newspaper published an article about the debate with the headline "White House race stoops to French bashing, again." L'Express called Bush's tirade "a classic attack," and the Metro News denounced it as "Republican humor."

At: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/10/29/1442328/-French-ambassador-mocks-Jeb-Bush-s-France-bashing-as-bombastic-nonsense?detail=email
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I suppose the next thing he'll say is that the problem with the French - in the words of his ever-quotable brother - is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur.

Which would be ok, since I'm sure Dubya didn't think they had a word for imbecile either.

Switzerland approves banking information sharing agreement with Argentina.

The agreement that comes into effect next year will make it easier for AFIP, the Argentine revenue agency, to locate evaders.

Starting next year, Argentina will be able to demand fiscal and financial information about its citizens from Switzerland as part of a a wider agreement signed between both countries to prevent double taxation. Switzerland finished ratifying the agreement yesterday, which had already been approved by the Argentine Congress. The new text puts an end to the agreement vacuum between both countries and gives the AFIP tax bureau a key tool to tackle tax evasion. Argentines are unoficially estimated to hold some US$400 billion in tax havens.

The agreement exempts Swiss and Argentine companies from paying several key taxes, including income tax and personal property tax in the two countries at the same time. Argentina is the second most important investment destination in Latin America for Swiss companies at some 5.7 billion euros per year.

“It’s the first time Argentina can sign an agreement like this. We worked a lot for it to be approved in Congress quickly since it allows us to strengthen the commercial relationships between the two countries,” AFIP head Ricardo Echegaray said yesterday in a meeting with the Swiss Ambassador in Argentina, Hanspeter Mock.

The exchange won’t be automatic and information can only be requested once an investigation has been launched by the judiciary. The deal, moreover, won’t be retroactive so it shouldn’t have any effect on the HSBC tax evasion scandal that is currently being discussed in Congress; but it will help to get information from current account holders. Argentina charged HSBC last year with aiding more than 4,000 Argentine clients evade over US$3 billion taxes by stashing their money in secret Swiss bank accounts at HSBC.

Tax experts anticipate that there will be a large number of information requests filed by AFIP starting in January. But if these requests do not have enough legal backing, Switzerland can reject it. That happened many times with Uruguay, a country with which AFIP signed a similar agreement.

In the last few years, AFIP has sealed numerous double taxation agreements, signing the last one with Spain in 2014, as well as having subscribed to an agreement with the OECD, which allows it to be part of a 35-country network that can exchange relevant fiscal information.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/201978/switzerland-approves-argentine-tax-deal
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Over the last 12 years, Argentina achieved what had previously been thought hopeless: a real (though not total) mitigation of tax evasion, which in most years had cost federal coffers around half their revenues. Of course, if Macri takes office it'll be party time again for tax cheats; tax laws (including this key agreement) will simply cease to be enforced.

Freedom House: World Internet Freedom Keeps Eroding

Internet censorship around the globe continues to intensify. According to a report by the independent monitoring group Freedom House, for the fifth consecutive year, more nations are censoring information online and demanding that companies and individuals remove content or face retribution.

The annually released Freedom of the Net Report assessed 65 countries and identified China as the worst offender. Gady Epstein, former Beijing bureau chief for The Economist magazine, said China has become more aggressive with censorship in the last couple of years under President Xi Jinping. “They’ve blocked Google; they’ve blocked Gmail and other Google services. They arrested more online activists, people who comment independently on a range of issues, including corruption,” said Epstein.

Freedom House said China is only one nation in which this type of crackdown has been increasing. In Russia and Iran, people who post content deemed offensive by the government can quickly and easily land in prison. “Those countries tend to block materials of political and social relevance. They tend to arrest users for writing about human rights and opposition,” said Sanja Kelly, director of the report.

Syria is the second-worst performer in the study. Bloggers, journalists and activists face execution by armed groups in the country, according to Freedom House.

In Iran, rated the third-worst nation, Tehran’s conservative powerbrokers, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, keep extremely tight control over the Internet, despite better bandwidth and the increase of 3G cellular connections.

Social media’s role

Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, increasingly play a big role in the way people get access to information in countries with restricted Web freedom. These social media services, however, are banned from nations like China and Iran. That means citizens there have to find alternative ways to use them and have contact with family and friends abroad who post content they would not otherwise be able to reach.

Threats to companies

Freedom House said that during the research for the report, which focuses on events from June 2014 through May 2015, it stumbled upon a new development: Governments increasingly attack the source now. Kelly said authorities warn individuals that they must remove offensive content or face torture or imprisonment.

The watchdog group emphasized that this new approach also extends to technology companies. “The governments are actually going to the company and saying, ‘This type of information exists on your servers. Take it down. If you don’t take it down, we’re going to either block your services or we’re going to take away your license so you will not be able to operate in our country any longer,’ ” said Kelly.

At: http://www.voanews.com/content/freedom-house-world-internet-freedom-keeps-eroding/3027570.html
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According to the 2015 Freedom on the Net report cited above, the countries with the most and least internet freedom in each region are (the higher the score, the more restrictive):

*Africa: South Africa, 27; Ethiopia, 82.
*Asia: Japan, 22; China, 88.
*Europe: Iceland, 6; Belarus, 64.
*Middle East: Lebanon, 45; Iran, 87.
*North America: Canada, 16; Cuba, 81.
*South America: Argentina, 27; Venezuela, 57.
*Australia: 19 (New Zealand not available)

Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez assists teen with allergic attack on plane.

Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez, who is an oncologist, assisted a 14-year-old French girl with a serious allergic reaction on board the plane that was taking Vázquez to Paris for a meeting with French President François Hollande.

The Uruguayan daily El Observador reported Thursday, citing the girl‘s mother, that President Vázquez and his personal physician, Dr. Mario Zelarayán, responded to a call for assistance from the crew and gave an injection to the girl, in an incident that happened Tuesday.

The teenager had eaten peanuts, and that triggered an allergic reaction that made it difficult for her to breathe.

At: http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/uruguayan-president-assists-teen-with-allergic-attack-on-plane_420211.html
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