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Another offshore Panamá company tied to Argentine President Mauricio Macri revealed.

Journalist Hugo Alconada Mon, who testified today before Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello in the Panamá Papers probe, said that during his research “data emerged related to another offshore company tied to the Macri Group” of which he also provided documentation.

The firm, Foxchase Trading SA, was opened in Panamá City on December 23, 2014 - just as Macri was preparing his presidential run - and remains active.

Partnership expert Silvana Martínez, an aide of Congresswoman Margarita Stolbizer and former official of IGJ, said that offshore companies should be declared before the AFIP tax agency if the business has a return. And in the case of directors, “they must be declared if they receive compensations over rendered services.”

Macri failed to do so, even after his swearing-in last December.

Both witnesses testified before Judge Casanello, who is expected to move forward with the case.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/212376/another-alleged-offshore-company-tied-to-macri-revealed

Fernando Niembro, to whom Macri gave $2.3 million for phantom services, hid proceeds in Panamá.

Former FOX Sports Américas sportscaster and close Macri ally Fernando Niembro was linked to an offshore account in Panamá by Open Corporates, the same database that earlier this week helped identify a second Panamá shell company in President Mauricio Macri's name. The Niembro account, according to Open Corporates, was opened in 2014, is listed under his son Diego F. Niembro, and remains active.

These revelations come just days after the international money laundering scandal known as the Panama Papers named Argentine President Mauricio Macri and several family members and officials in his administration as clients in the massive Mossack Fonseca offshore shell company scheme.

The offshore company, Tres Leones SA (Three Lions, Inc.), was opened shortly after the elder Niembro registered an advertising production company in Buenos Aires, La Usina, that from 2013 to 2015 received municipal publicity contracts for 21 million pesos ($2.3 million at the time) while Macri was still mayor of Buenos Aires. La Usina, however, has no registered employees.

The La Usina scandal, which emerged in September 2015, forced Niembro to abandon his bid for a seat in Congress on Macri's right-wing PRO ticket Buenos Aires, as well as his longtime post as senior football sportscaster at Fox Sports Américas. He was charged in September with suspected money laundering, and the case remains pending.

Niembro at the time denied the charges, asserting that he proceeded "in accordance with the law" and that he was being subjected to "an undeserved lynching."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lavoz.com.ar%2Fpolitica%2Fempresas-offshore-el-escandalo-tambien-salpica-de-cerca-fernando-niembro

California judge OKs FDA decision to approve additive banned in 150 countries.

Last Thursday, a federal judge in California dismissed two lawsuits claiming the Food and Drug Administration illegally approved a dangerous drug for use in animal feed.

The lawsuits were filed by the Center for Food Safety, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, United Farmworkers of America, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Humane Society of the United States. The Center for Food Safety originally filed the suit against the FDA in November 2014, stating the agency violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedure Act when it approved an animal feed additive that contained the controversial drug ractopamine hydrochloride.

Ractopamine is part of a class of drugs known as beta-agonists, which are intended to add muscle weight to animals before they are led to slaughter. Ideally, the drug helps animals gain weight while eating less, resulting in reduced costs. However, imports of beef, pork, and turkey with ractopamine are banned in 150 countries, including China, Russia, and member states of the European Union. Japan, the United States, Canada, South Korea, and 27 other countries still assert meat containing ractopamine is safe for human consumption.

The plaintiffs argued the FDA approved drugs manufactured by Elanco, a division of Eli Lilly, without properly testing ractopamine. An investigation by the Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) found that ractopamine is fed to “an estimated 60 to 80% of pigs in the United States” and has “resulted in more reports of sickened or dead pigs than any other livestock drug on the market.” In FDA records released under a Freedom of Information Act, FERN found that as of March 2011, 160,000 pigs administered the drug were reported to have suffered adverse effects including hyperactivity, trembling, broken limbs, paralysis, and death.

Elanco Companion Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly's Elanco, had previously filed a motion to dismiss the suits, claiming the defendants lacked standing because of their failure to “exhaust administrative remedies.” U.S. District Judge Yvonne González Rogers agreed and dismissed the lawsuit. The judge made no mention of the adverse health effects witnessed in animals.

At: http://www.myhealthycaregroup.com/judge-oks-fda-decision-to-approve-additive-banned-in-150-countries/

Panama Papers: Argentine President hires Obama's former public image advisor.

In response to strong pressures for unpopular policies and hit by the effects of the recent Panama Papers, Argentine President Mauricio Macri has hired expert Jim Messina, President Barack Obama's former public image advisor.

Veinte y Tres magazine reports that Messina while is a stranger in Argentina he has a successful career as a consultant, which includes leading Obama's political campaign in 2012 when he won reelection.

One of the main cornerstones of the campaign was the use of social networks and information posted by users in different platforms to know the preferences of voters, the article reveals.

On Wednesday, March 30, a representative of the Messina Group, vice-president Brennan Bilberry, met with Chief of Staff Marcos Peña and Public Communication secretary Jorge Grecco, the article goes on.

Messina, who was the architect of Obama's reelection in 2012, is regarded as one of the greatest strategists in public and communications issues worldwide. Currently, the Messina Group advises clients from several countries and a variety of fields that include energy, security, telecommunications, entertainment, health assistance and sports, and now will advise President Macri.

He comes at the right time, when President Macri is going through a difficult period after the revelations that he led a ghost company based in Bahamas and is the vice-president of another company in Panama.

At: http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4763341&Itemid=1

Macri's media law decrees debated at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Civil rights organizations and the Argentine government faced off yesterday at a public hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) over the right to the freedom of expression and the Mauricio Macri administration's decrees rescinding the 2009 Broadcast Media Law. The hearing was part of the 157th period of audiences which are currently being held by the IACHR, in Washington DC. The commission is part of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The hearing was set up following a request by the Argentine Public Ombudswoman’s office, which warned of the effect the amendments made to the anti-trust mandates of the regulation may have on the autonomy of the regulatory bodies. The decree, issued less than a month after President Macri was sworn-in, dissolved the AFSCA media watchdog and the AFTIC telecommunications watchdog, replacing the two with a department (ENACOM) with an overwhelming pro-government majority.

Horacio Verbitsky, president of the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), opened the debate, saying that “the Macri administration argues that all media will be able to compete in the market, glossing over the differences in scale that would make most community media inviable without regulation by the state. If the implementation of law was incomplete or imperfect, the new government had the opportunity to correct those aspects - but not to suppress with the stroke of a pen a legal framework that guarantees communication as a right for all society, and to instead decree the law of the jungle, where the big players will grab everything and will leave nothing for society.”

Professor Martín Becerra drew attention to the fact that in “Argentina there are high levels of market concentration. Nearly 40% of the broadcast television are in the hands of two groups. In cable television, which is how 83% of homes have access to television in Argentina, nearly 70% of subscribers are controlled by two groups. However, the new guidelines decreed by the government turn their back on this problem, blocking competition and as such promoting concentration.”

“ENACOM was decreed with a complete governmentalization of media in mind, departing from republican ideals as it combined the discretionality of the market with the discretionality of the executive.”

The government responded by attacking former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s record and promising to work toward the implementation of a new telecommunications law. Represented by Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj, ENACOM President Miguel de Godoy, the Argentine delegation argued that freedom of expression would be best served by the changes they have promised.

Avruj was among those listed in the Panama Papers scandal as the head of an offshore shell company, “Kalushy,” that he and his wife have maintained since 1992.

The public hearing is taking place a few days after the 2009 Broadcast Media Law - which has been praised the UN, the Carter Center, the IFJ, and Reporters Without Borders - was buried by Congress on Wednesday, as Macri's coalition in Congress and members from Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front voted to approve the president’s recent “emergency” decreto dissolve it. The ruling coalition ordered that voting take place through a show of hands instead of an electronic vote, meaning there was no record of each lawmaker’s vote.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/212224/media-law-dispute-reaches-oas-stage-

PAMI (Argentina's Medicare) reduces list of free drugs for the elderly.

The Macri administration's decision to end subsidies on some 150 prescription drugs for beneficiaries of the PAMI public health insurance program was criticized by the Pharmacists and Biochemists’ Association in Buenos Aires, whose president, Claudio Ucchino, said that the list of medicines to be affected by the subsidy cut and price hikes included “important antibiotics” and other key medicines that pensioners relied on.

“There are important antibiotics such as amoxicillin with ambroxol, such as butetamate, which are products that are widely used in winter because the elderly can have bronchitis or other pathologies,” Ucchino said.

Ucchino added that the Pharmacists and Biochemists’ Association had not been consulted by PAMI prior to its decision to end the subsidies. Congresswoman Mirta Tundis of the Renewal Front (the centrist wing of Peronism) suggested that alongside other economic austerity measures being taken by the government, PAMI’s decision would affect pensioners severely.

“It’s very bad news because it is instead of expanding the list of coverage, it’s shrinking it,” she said, adding that the move would in effect “take more money out of the pockets” of pensioners.

PAMI Director Carlos Regazzoni justified his decision to cut subsidies across the range of medicines. “Before we excluded these drugs we had consultations with experts, including international experts, and in no country in the world are these drugs covered 100 percent,” Regazzoni said, adding that the the wide-ranging subsidies now annulled by PAMI included many drugs “that had little benefit for people. They use them; but the clinical effect is very low.”

PAMI, established in 1972, covers medical costs for some 4.6 million Argentine senior citizens and manages a budget of nearly $7 billion - 86% of which goes to reimburse medical care.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/212166/staterun-pami-thins-list-of-free-drugs-for-the-elderly

Bill Moyers: Why are there so many anonymous corporations in Delaware?

From the Federal Election Commission’s suggestion that it might finally begin scrutinizing donations to super PACs from mystery limited liability companies (LLCs) to the revelations in the Panama Papers, LLCs are very in right now. The leak of the Panama Papers reportedly shows the use of offshore shell companies to hide cash by many high-profile foreign figures, from highly-paid soccer star Lionel Messi to the prime minister of Iceland, but the lack of Americans implicated in the investigations has raised eyebrows in the international community.

We’d all like to believe that it’s because most Americans are law-abiding folks; but there might be another answer: Americans don’t need offshore companies in tiny island nations to hide their money. America has Delaware.

Delaware is home to more than a million companies, meaning it has more companies than actual human residents. In 2012, The New York Times reported that a single building in Wilmington was the legal address of over 285,000 separate businesses. About 65% of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware. Many companies choose to incorporate there because of the “business-friendly” climate and extensive body of corporate law, or because Delaware has much lower corporate taxes than most states. The New York Times says incorporating in Delaware “has enabled corporations to reduce the taxes paid to other states by an estimated $9.5 billion.” But it also happens to be one of the easiest places in the world to set up an anonymous company, making it a great place to establish an LLC to do business that you don’t want anyone to know about or you don’t want to be easily connected to.

The New York Times quotes the chief executive of a registration agent — a company that registers companies — as saying Delaware has “the most secret companies in the world and the easiest to form.” A senior researcher at the Tax Justice Network quoted in its piece concurs, calling Delaware “the biggest single source of anonymous corporations in the world.”

Even though it’s the easiest place to set up an anonymous company, Delaware isn’t the only state whose laws allow corporate anonymity. Several states — like New Mexico, Wyoming and Nevada — don’t require public disclosure of a company’s owners, though they may compel the release of more information through subpoena. And even if these states don’t provide complete legal protection through anonymity from lawsuits or federal investigation, they can make it significantly more difficult for law enforcement or the public to look into who’s behind these business entities. That matters a lot when those LLCs are, for example, making big donations to super PACs.

As long as any US state has rules this lax, it affects the entire country — just look at how many impossible-to-trace LLCs we found donating to super PACs, contributions that the public will never know the true source of.

At: http://billmoyers.com/story/why-are-there-so-many-anonymous-corporations-in-delaware/

Illinois illegally seizes bees resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup; kills remaining queens

The point of this confiscation can not possibly be clearer: Monsanto wants no honeybees resistant to their Roundup product to continue to exist. The Illinois Dept. of Agriculture illegally seized privately owned bees from renowned naturalist, Terrence Ingram, without providing him with a search warrant and before the court hearing on the matter, reports Prairie Advocate News.

Behind the obvious violations of his Constitutional rights is Monsanto. Ingram was researching Roundup’s effects on bees, which he’s raised for 58 years. “They ruined 15 years of my research,” he told Prairie Advocate, by stealing most of his stock.

A certified letter from the Ag Dept.’s Apiary Inspection Supervisor, Steven D. Chard, stated:

“During a routine inspection of your honeybee colonies by … Inspectors Susan Kivikko and Eleanor Balson on October 23, 2011, the bacterial disease ‘American Foulbrood’ was detected in a number of colonies located behind your house…. Presence of the disease in some of your colonies was confirmed via test results from the USDA Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland that analyzed samples collected from your apiary….”

Ingram can prove his bees did not have foulbrood, and planned to do so at a hearing set in April; but the state seized his bees at the end of March. They have not returned them and no one at the Ag Dept. seems to know where his bees are.

The bees could have been destroyed, or they could have been turned over to Monsanto to ascertain why some of his bees are resistant to Roundup. Without the bees as evidence, Ingram simply cannot defend against the phony charges of foulbrood. Worse, all his queens died after Kivikko and Balson “inspected” his property, outside of his presence and without a warrant.

Of note, Illinois beekeepers are going underground after Ingram’s experience and refuse to register their hives, in case the state tries to steal their private property on phony claims.

At: http://herbalhouse365.com/2016/02/20/illinois-illegally-seizes-bees-resistant-to-monsantos-roundup-kills-remaining-queens/

Divorced Catholics cheer Pope Francis' views on modern family

Annette was 31, living more than 6,000 miles from home with three young children, when she decided she had to leave her husband. "I experienced great violence and the doctors asked me how many times they were going to have to patch me up," she recalled nearly 50 years later. Annette is Catholic, and the Catholic Church frowns on divorce. She said she doubts the bishops in her day had "true understanding of what human relationships were," accusing them of "draconian" decisions.

But on Friday, she welcomed a sweeping statement from Pope Francis telling priests to be more welcoming to divorced Catholics. "The divorced who have entered a new union should be made to feel part of the Church," the Pope wrote. "Christian communities must not abandon divorced parents who have entered a new union." The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and writer, called the paper a "groundbreaking new document."

Francis was delivering a kind of a statement called an apostolic exhortation. That's an official statement from a pope urging Catholics to behave in a particular way. Friday's statement is called "On Love in the Family" in English and "Amoris Laetitia" in Latin. The Pope calls on pastors not to "pigeonhole" divorced Catholics but to use their own judgment about how to integrate them into the church.

Vince Frese, a conservative Catholic in suburban Atlanta, called the statement "a breath of fresh air." Frese, 55, a software company owner, divorced 16 years ago after nine years of marriage that gave the couple three children. Once divorced, he found the church and its parishes provided no help to the faithful like him. That, he said, prompted many divorced Catholics to seek acceptance in other Christian denominations. "At the time, there was nothing available in the church that was helping Catholics recover and heal from divorce," Frese said.

Rejection by the church was traumatic for many divorced Catholics. Now, Frese said, the Pope is offering hope and mercy. "He's shining a light in this darkness, and that's a wonderful thing. The Pope is saying we need to help these people, and that's why ultimately I think it's going to help." Frese took the initiative to help divorced Catholics. He developed a program to help them recover, now writes a blog at VinceFrese.com, founded a divorced Catholic ministry at his parish, and co-wrote the book "Divorced. Catholic. Now What?" He said the Catholic Church has underserved divorced people for many years.

Officially, the church considers Catholics who have divorced and remarried without getting an annulment to be in a state of adultery. Francis, however, has already moved to make it easier to get an annulment. Now the Pope is also seeking to influence pastoral behavior without changing doctrine that he cannot change."What he is trying to say is: 'Don't get all focused on the rules, let's be merciful to them and let God work out the details,' " Frese said.

About a quarter of American Catholics have experienced divorce, according to the Pew Research Center, a think tank in Washington; that's slightly lower than the national average of 30% as of last year. Some priests are already acting in line with Francis' teaching.

"If someone is looking for ... a community of welcome and comfort and understanding, it shouldn't be an exclusive community," Annette said. "None of us are perfect. Even bishops."

At: http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/08/europe/divorced-catholics-pope-reaction/index.html

Panama Papers: Argentina's Macri to put assets in blind trust to "dispel doubts."

Argentine President Mauricio Macri said he will put all his assets in a blind trust to help reassure critics after recent leaks showed he was named a director of two companies listed in Panama.

A civil court will hear a petition to certify his declaration of assets on Friday, he said in a speech at the presidential palace on Thursday. “I have nothing to hide,” he said. “I am ready for any other judge that may require information about what I am saying. I want there to be no doubts.”

Since being named in a widespread leak of documents about shell companies known as the Panama Papers, Macri’s government has defended his reputation as he seeks to consolidate power and carry out a series of economic reforms in Argentina four months after taking office. Macri has denied any wrongdoing, saying the shell company Fleg Trading Ltd. was legal and created with funds by his father, who appointed him as a director.

On Thursday, prosecutor Federico Delgado said that there are sufficient grounds to begin a probe after Macri was formally accused by opposition Congressman Norman Martínez. Macri will be investigated for tax irregularities for his participation as director in Fleg Trading and a second firm, Kagemusha SA, Delgado said in an interview on Radio Continental. The information about Macri was originally published Sunday in a leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm that helped people and companies set up companies offshore.

We want to determine if President Macri omitted his participation in his tax declarations before the tax agency and before the Anti-Corruption Office and then to determine whether that omission was malicious and if he should have included it,” Delgado said.

Fleg Trading was created in 1998 to invest in Brazil and was dissolved in 2008 "without ever having operated," Macri told Canal C. Asked about the alleged existence of a second company known as Kagemusha, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña didn’t confirm or deny the existence of the company; but reiterated that Macri has nothing to hide.

Numerous other Macri administration officials and close associates were also discovered to taken part in the leaked Panama offshore schemes, including Boca Juniors football club President Daniel Angelici, Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj, Lanús Mayor Néstor Grindetti, Congressman Daniel Ivoskus, Vicente López Mayor Jorge Macri (his cousin), and Francisco Macri (his father).

At: http://washpost.bloomberg.com/Story?docId=1376-O59VI76JTSEG01-7IJDPJ0LEF8OFH9QVN2C791ABA

Politicians of all nations and stripes and long resorted to blind trusts as a favorite legal gimmick by which they can give voters the "impression" they won't profit from their posts.

Some of the best known such cases here in the U.S. include Obama, LBJ, Ted Kennedy, Mitt Romney, and of course George H.W. Bush, who placed his inherited UBC proceeds (the Nazi money laundry) in a blind trust when Reagan won in 1980. The trust was managed by his old friend, William Farish III, who was president of Standard Oil of New Jersey when it invested millions in IG Farben (the makers of Xyklon B).
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