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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 06:11 PM
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Argentine Federal Police transfer to City of Buenos Aires to officially begin.

The Argentine Federal Government and the City of Buenos Aires administration have signed an agreement for the transfer of the Argentine Federal Police to the Metropolitan Police. The agreement, in the form of one of many "urgent and necessary" decrees signed by President Mauricio Macri since he took office three weeks ago, will now have to be ratified by the Buenos Aires City Legislature (where his party, the right-wing PRO, holds a majority).

“This step is very important, in a path that will be long,” Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said today during an official ceremony at the Casa Rosada government house headed by President Mauricio Macri; both the mayor and the president belong to the PRO.

Today's agreement envisages the transfer by no later than October 1 of all 53 precincts and 21,000 officers and staff in the Argentine Federal Police to the Metropolitan Police, which was created by Macri early in his mayoral tenure in 2008.

Macri's Metropolitan Police, which has only 6,000 officers and staff and covers only 6 out of the city's 15 communes, has been the subject of numerous scandals since its formation. These include Macri's choice for its first director, Jorge "Fino" Palacios (who was still under indictment for obstruction of justice during the botched investigation of the 1994 AMIA Jewish mutual society bombing), the violent quashing of a 2013 protest by the disabled, as well as its use in the past for warrantless wiretapping and politically-motivated searches of homes and businesses belonging to opposition officials (even outside Buenos Aires).

The transfer of the 135 year-old Argentine Federal Police (whose main jurisdiction, despite its name, is the City of Buenos Aires) to municipal control was initially agreed to by former President Carlos Menem in 1993. Menem, however, signed in 1995 a law introduced by a fellow longtime Peronist, Senator Antonio Cafiero, to impede the transfer on fears that the Federal Police (the second-largest police force in Argentina) would be used by the city's anti-Peronist mayors for political ends.

Macri, however, was optimistic. “Once (the transfer) is completed, we will continue working together. We have no doubt it is the best way to improve the life of people,” he said, adding that his administration aims to make Buenos Aires “one of the safest cities in the world.”

Among the officials present in today’s signing ceremony, were Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and Justice and Security Minister of the City of Buenos Aires, Martín Ocampo. Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña was also part of the meeting after which he held a press conference along with Rodríguez Larreta to brief the press on the accord.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/206124/macri-larreta-arrange-federal-police-transfer-to-city-scope

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.ellitoral.com.ar/394930/El-traspaso-de-la-Policia-Federal-salda-un-viejo-conflicto-entre-la-Ciudad-y-la-Nacion&prev=search

According to Trump's son, his father is "very similar to Macri."

Eric Trump, son of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, compared his father to Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

"I think (Trump) will win; he's winning in all the polls by more than three points," Eric Trump claimed in an interview for right-wing Uruguayan newspaper El País, adding that his father "is very similar to Mauricio Macri, in the sense that he is also a successful entrepreneur."

"Six months into his political career and he's having great success everywhere he goes. Besides being a great person, he would be an excellent president and administrator," said the son of the conservative U.S. candidate, quoted by the German news agency DPA.

Eric Trump, visiting Punta del Este (Uruguay), where the Trump Group is building a luxury condominium building, also asserted that should his father win "it would certainly benefit many countries, including Uruguay," and attributed the support for his father to the fact that "he is not a politically correct candidate."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.urgente24.com/248151-segun-el-hijo-de-trump-su-padre-es-muy-similar-a-macri&prev=search

Besides both being xenophobic crony capitalists, Macri and Trump go way back:

Mauricio Macri himself isn't a "successful entrepreneur," as Eric Trump mistakenly states. That would be his father, Francesco Macri, who made his initial fortune in padded contracts during the Argentine construction boom in the '60s and '70s.

The Macris' relationship with Trump dates to the failed Lincoln West development in the Upper West Side of Manhattan (today known as Riverside South). The elder Macri reportedly made $100 million in improvements over the former Penn Central rail yard between 1979 and 1984 in order to obtain approval for Lincoln West.

Instead, in 1985 he sold the land and development rights to Trump at cost - leading to speculation that Trump used his connections to deny Macri the needed credits and permits to go forward, only to take over the project once the necessary prep work (including a new subway station, which Macri also paid for) had been completed. Trump himself later declared bankruptcy and was unable to build his "Trump City;" Riverside South is now owned by a consortium led by the Carlyle Group.

Nevertheless, Trump and the Macris have remained friends ever since. Thick as thieves, if you will.

Uruguay approves bailout of ANCAP state oil concern.

Disagreements in the ruling Broad Front (FA) coalition were overcome yesterday as Uruguayan lawmakers voted in a special emergency session to approve an US$872 million aid package for state oil company ANCAP, as part of a push to shore up the firm’s finances. The 99-seat Lower House of Congress approved the legislation during a 14-hour marathon special session on Saturday, with 50 members of the Broad Front backing the bill despite some reservations in the ruling coalition. Only 89 lawmakers were in attendance; members of the opposition all opposed the bill.

The bill would recapitalize the state-owned oil company, which has a monopoly on importing and refining oil in Uruguay and has sidelines in alcoholic beverages, perfumes and cement, by writing off US$622 million of debt the company owed to the Economy and Finance Ministry. The government has also secured a US$250-million loan from the CAF Development Bank of Latin America on the company’s behalf to reduce its dependency on private lenders. The legislation has already been approved by the Senate, and the bill will now be sent to President Tabaré Vázquez for his signature.

ANCAP, Uruguay’s largest company of any type, is instituting a cost-cutting plan after ending 2015 with US$200 million in the red. ANCAP lost US$170 million in 2013 and US$323 million in 2014.

Lawmakers argued in Congress about whether the plan to bailout ANCAP should include demands that top company executives be removed from their posts; but the final package did not include such a measure. The company’s huge debt load has also created rifts in the governing left-wing Broad Front coalition, with many former allies blaming each other for the company's woes.

Current Economy Minister Danilo Astori, his allies in the Broad Front, and several businessmen have publicly blamed the company’s losses on mismanagement by former President José Mujica’s administration. Astori has also accused current Vice-President Raúl Sendic, a former head of ANCAP, of being partly responsible.

Mujica and Sendic, in turn, countered that it is in fact Astori (Mujica’s former VP) who is to blame, saying that he and his aides have run the company since 2005, when the Broad Front came to power.

Broad Front Deputy Darío Pérez avoided the intra-party criticism, demanding instead as the opposition did that ANCAP’s board resign. He called for an “act of contrition” involving “real repentance.”

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/206009/uruguay-approves-ancap-bailout

Seven out of 10 largest foreign banks pay no UK tax; Labour wants tougher approach.

Two more investment banks have reported paying zero tax in Britain in 2014, prompting the opposition Labour Party to urge the government to reverse a tax change it made for banks last year.

Citigroup and Credit Suisse disclosed that their main UK subsidiaries paid no corporate income tax in 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available. This means seven of the 10 biggest foreign investment and commercial banks operating in Europe's main investment banking center have said their main British arms paid no tax in that year.

In total the 10 banking groups generated over $40 billion in fees in Britain in 2014, reported $6.5 billion in profit and employed almost 50,000 people. But they contributed just $205 million in corporate income tax.

"These are damning findings that make a real mockery of the government’s approach to taxation of the financial sector,” said John McDonnell MP, the opposition Labour party’s shadow finance minister.

In July, following pressure from banks which threatened to move operations from London, Finance Minister George Osborne said he would halve a levy banks must pay as a percentage of their assets, and he would restrict the base on which it is calculated. At the same time he increased the tax rate banks must pay on corporate income, to 8% above the standard rate.

Tax experts, however, say corporation tax is easier to avoid than the bank levy. McDonnell said the figures showed Osborne was already pursuing a “soft touch” approach. "This report should be setting off alarm bells at the Treasury and he should be reversing his decision on the bank levy immediately,” he said.

Tax avoidance has become a hot political topic in Britain after revelations in recent years of profit shifting by big groups including Apple Inc. and Amazon. Of the 10 biggest foreign investment banks measured by fee income, only three paid corporate income tax in 2014. Goldman Sachs Group Inc paid $27 million in tax on $2 billion of profit generated by its London arm, while Switzerland’s UBS Group AG paid $4 million on $140 million in UK profits. Both declined to comment.

The biggest taxpayer of the 10 was Paris-based BNP Paribas, which paid $174 million on $954 million profit generated by its UK unit, which focuses on investment and commercial banking. "BNP Paribas is determined to do its civic duty in the field of taxation,” the bank said in a statement.

It is not possible to compare the contributions of British banks including Barclays and HSBC, because even though they have large investment banking businesses, their country-by-country reports also include taxes paid on retail operations. Barclays declined to comment and no-one from HSBC was available.


Argentine unions toughening stance on salaries following devaluation-driven price hikes.

Key representatives of the CGT labor federation, which had so far remained relatively quiet in terms of protests against the new administration of President Mauricio Macri, called for wage hikes above 30% ahead of this year’s collective bargaining rounds.

Dredging and Signal Workers' union leader Juan Carlos Schmid, a key ally of Teamsters’ leader Hugo Moyano (who heads one of two CGT factions), estimated inflation in 2015 to have reached 28% “even without the effect of the devaluation.” With the recent price hikes following the lifting of foreign currency trade restrictions on December 17, “salary hikes would have to be above 30%,” Schmid said.

Schmid was joined by Health Workers’ union leader Héctor Daer, who said that “prices are moving very fast” due to the devaluation and that even businessmen were admitting that prices hikes have likely exceeded 30%. “The end of the clamp on the dollar and the reductions in export duties affected food prices strongly in December. Macri's decision to anticipate they would carry out a devaluation was a mistake,” Daer said, adding that “businessmen are already considering hikes above 30%” for when collective bargaining talks conclude in February and March.

Even Restaurant Workers' union leader Luis Barrionuevo, who had endorsed Macri, suggested that he would ask for 50% hikes if inflation reached those figures; his splinter CGT Azul y Blanca labor federation is smaller and less influential than the two main CGT and CTA federations (the CGT and CTA each split in 2011, with the majority factions in each endorsing former President Cristina Kirchner's successful reelection campaign that year and the minority factions adopting a more combative stance).

The leader of the CTA federation's Kirchnerist-leaning faction, Hugo Yasky, condemned Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay’s statement that “unions would have to think about what to prioritize: salary levels or jobs.” In an interview published yesterday in Página/12 Yasky declared that “we won’t accept blackmail such as Prat-Gay’s, who is recognizing in those words that he is part of the business groups that want to take back the rights gained by workers throughout these years. We will also resist decisions that imply turning salaries into company profits.”

Yasky’s union is in talks with UOM metal workers’ union leader Antonio Caló, who also leads the CGT faction that had supported the Cristina Kirchner administration, in order to coordinate their policies going forward.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/206044/moyano%E2%80%99s-cgt-toughens-stance-on-salary-demands

Orlando Ferreres (a Menem-era official whose CPI estimates were favorites of the Argentine right, until Macri took over that is), projects that inflation, which was 25% in 2015 according to MIT, will, thanks to Macri's devaluation and other policies, be no less than 38% in 2016. Macri had made "reducing inflation to single digits" a key campaign slogan.

Frank LaRue on Macri's AFSCA takeover: ‘This marks a return to the privileges enjoyed by monopolies’

Frank La Rue, who served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression from 2008 until 2014, warned that Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s move to nullify the landmark 2009 Media Anti-trust Law by decree was “an attack on freedom of expression” and “unconstitutional.”

“This represents a return to the privileges enjoyed by monopolies in Argentina, an era we hoped was over,” La Rue said in a conversation with the Herald.

His remarks came days after the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States (OAS), Edison Lanza, described the offensive against the AFSCA media monoply watchdog as an “unorthodox” move that bypassed the law and puts the agency “back to when governments had full control of the media office.”

“I share Lanza’s concerns,” said La Rue, a Guatemalan-born labor and human rights law expert. “We need to ask ourselves: what other setback will the new government bring to Argentina?

La Rue hailed the new anti-monopoly regulations soon after the Media Law was passed in 2009 with broad majority in both houses of Congress and signed by President Cristina Kirchner, saying that “it seeks an equitable formula in the administration of broadcast frequencies” between public/state, commercial and community/non-commercial media outlets. “Argentina has turned into a worldwide example,” LaRue added at the time, “especially in relation to community media.”

Macri's decrees also reaped criticism from Professor Diego de Charras, Dean of the University of Buenos Aires School of Communications, who said that Macri's idea to transfer the regulation of cable television to a telecommunications department within the executive branch and of Macri's own creation (ENACOM) was “outrageous.”

Página/12 revealed yesterday that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had sent the Macri administration a confidential letter demanding more details about the legality of the many measures adopted by decree since he took office on December 10. In the letter, the IACHR reminded Macri of the organization’s standards on freedom of expression, which includes working against media concentration to promote diversity and pluralism in the country.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/206040/%E2%80%98this-marks-a-return-to-the-privileges-enjoyed-by-monopolies%E2%80%99

Macri's illegal decrees have been suspended for the time being by an administrative law court (http://www.democraticunderground.com/11741604). He can still fall back on the "judiciary party" though - right-wing judges and prosecutors (many of them Opus Dei) who use their offices to run interference for Macri's far-right entourage and harass opponents.

Megaswap II: Sturzenegger's Revenge

Alfredo Zaiat, Página/12.

Through a "Decree of Necessity and Urgency" signed by President Mauricio Macri, the Argentine Central Bank will receive a series of National Treasury bonds paying 7.75% and 7.875% in return for nontransferable notes paying only 0.6% (both, denominated in dollars). The new bonds will then be sold to international banks, including HSBC, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Citibank and Goldman Sachs.

The operation, led by Central Bank President Federico Sturzenegger and Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay, includes a discount of 15% in principal and constitutes an additional debt service obligation of over $9.1 billion during the whole duration of the bonds (ranging from 6 to 11 years in maturity). Whereas the Treasury notes being relinquished are mostly for low-cost intra-public sector debt of a revolving nature, these new bonds are more costly (at 7.8% interest) and cannot easily be refinanced. Sturzenegger, moreover, has announced plans to use these bonds as potential collateral for at least $5 billion in further foreign borrowing.

This would be the second such megaswap for Sturzenegger, who is currently under indictment for having authored Argentina's infamous 2001 bond swap; the consequent increase in debt and interest helped result in the country's much-publicized collapse that December and opened the door to holdout lawsuits that affect Argentina to this day. As in the 2001 megaswap (which yielded $150 million in commissions), this transaction is expected to generate tens of millions in fees for the banks and individuals involved.

The initial Megaswap of $16.1 billion could, by Prat-Gay's own admission in the press conference, be followed by similar additional swaps for a total of up to $64.5 billion. The current megaswap would be in the form of three issues: Bonar 2022, at 7.75% ($4.5 billion, including the 15% discount); Bonar 2025, at 7.875% ($4.5 billion); and Bonar 2027, at 7.875% ($4.7 billion).

These bonds will thus require an estimated additional debt service of $9.1 billion compared to the Treasury notes being swapped: $2.0 billion additional in the case of Bonar 2022; $3.1 billion for Bonar 2025; and $4.0 billion for the Bonar 2027.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/economia/2-289452-2016-01-03.html&prev=search

Coming soon to a country near you. Rated R, for ripoff.

Judge issues injunction blocking Macri's takeover of AFSCA media monopoly watchdog.

Judge Luis Arias of the La Plata (Buenos Aires Province) administrative law district issued an injunction prohibiting Argentine President Mauricio Macri from modifying the Federal Authority of Audiovisual Communication Services (AFSCA) or the Authority for Information Technology and Communications (AFTIC).

Macri had issued decrees on December 23 that dissolved the AFSCA and AFTIC, replaced their directors without Senate confirmation, and merged them into a single entity that regulates communications: the National Authority for Communications (ENACOM). None of the decrees were submitted to congressional review.

Arias explained that while his ruling "does not bar presidential intervention in the agencies or the reinstatement of displaced authorities, it prevents, for example, the removal of any of its officials or employees as well the merger of the two communications agencies." "We have done this," Arias noted, "because we think these decrees were flagrant violations that flout international standards. These are preventive measures to minimize the damage." Macri's ENACOM, Arias added, "stands rescinded as of today."

Referring to Macri's stated decision to rule by decree until the Senate returns from its normal recess on March 1, Arias noted that "the fact that Congress is closed is not an 'emergency' (as required by Article 99 of the Argentine Constitution). There needs to be a major disaster for that to be the case, and the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly in that regard." "There is then no reason to change a law by decree; this is a flagrant violation of the Constitution and the law allows us to take preventive measures against fragrant violations such as these decrees."

"The administration has to respect the law," Arias stressed. "We are used to mentioning 'the Government' in reference to the executive; but the government includes Congress even in presidential regimes. Americans, for instance, do not talk about the 'Obama government', but rather the 'Obama administration' because government must always include Congress."

"Faced with a threat to the international responsibility of the State in accordance with decisions from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, as cited in this court's ruling, I think there is a situation of imminent damage we had to try to mitigate," Judge Arias concluded.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/273385/el-juez-de-la-plata-explico-el-fallo-que&prev=search

The Special Rapporteur (monitor) on Freedom of Expression for the OAS, Edison Lanza, was unequivocal regarding Macri's attempted power grab over the media: "Trying to make the AFSCA in the image of the new government is going back to the times when governments had full control over the body" - a clear reference to Argentina's infamous 1976-83 dictatorship. http://www.democraticunderground.com/110846509

Antonio Carrizo, the "lord of the radio" in Argentina, has died at age 89.

The legendary Argentine journalist, broadcaster and entertainer, Antonio Carrizo, died today in Buenos Aires of complications from a stroke. Carrizo, whose career spanned seven decades, was known as el señor de la radio ("the lord of the radio" in Argentina.

A son of Italian immigrants whose real name was Antonio Carrozzi, he debuted in 1948 on Radio El Mundo and soon became head of programming. Carrizo later produced a number of his own radio programs, notably Cíclo Los Intérpretes (Performers' Series), devoted to folk and classical music; Papeles Sueltos (Loose Papers), an intellectual round table; and his best-known production, a musical news and interview program called La Vida y El Canto (Life and Song), which aired on Radio Rivadavia from 1971 until a stroke ended his career in 2008.

Carrizo also had numerous film credits and hosted top-rated television programs such as the variety show Sábados Continuados (Rolling Saturdays) in the 1960s and Polémica en el Fútbol (Football Controversy), a popular football analysis program, in the 1970s. He was also successful in comedy, notably as co-host with Juan Carlos Calabró in the 1990s television comedy sketch series El Contra (The Contrarian) in which Carrizo played the straight man to Calabró's impossibly skeptical title character.

A man of varied cultural interests, he was chosen by his peers as president of the Society of Argentine Bibliophiles and of the Argentine Chess Federation. Among the chess champions he befriended was the American Grand Master Bobby Fischer, who stayed in Carrizo's home during most of his many visits to Buenos Aires over the years.

During a particularly difficult match with Argentine Grand Master Miguel Quinteros, Fischer nearly shattered Carrizo's Japanese forest glass coffee table. "Let him win," Carrizo whispered to Quinteros, "before that son of a bitch breaks my table!"

Carrizo was 89.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/205935/celebrated-radio-tv-host-antonio-carrizo-dies

To Natalie Cole (1950-2015). Always unforgettable.

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