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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 05:11 PM
Number of posts: 5,902

Journal Archives

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

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

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

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

Scioli, Macri in tight race to first runoff in Argentine history.

According to provisional results released early on Monday Victory Front candidate Daniel Scioli advanced to a tight lead with 36% over Mauricio Macri, of the "Let's Change" coalition, who obtained 35%. With 89% of the polling stations counted, Sergio Massa, from UNA front, ended in the third place with 21%.

Before any official data was unveiled, the candidates admitted a second-round scenario, which will take place on November 22.

The National Electoral Court (CNE) reported that 79% of the electoral roll voted today, 5 points more than in the PASO primaries held in August and the highest turnout since 1999.

Six candidates competed today to become Argentines’ next president with 32 million people entitled to decide the successor of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who will be leaving office on December 10 after two consecutive terms in office.

The results of the PASO primaries held on August 9 and the polls carried out prior to Sunday's elections forecast Daniel Scioli and Carlos Zannini of the Victory Front (FpV) would be the leading presidential ticket among the six candidates competing today:

Mauricio Macri and Gabriela Michetti for the right-wing Let’s Change coalition;
Sergio Massa and Gustavo Saénz for the centrist UNA alliance;
Margarita Stolbizer and Miguel Angel Olaviaga for the Progressives;
Nicolás Del Caño and Myriam Bregman for the leftist FIT front;
and Adolfo Rodríguez Saá and Liliana Negre de Alonso for the centrist Federal Commitment.

To win outright in the first round, and avoid a runoff election, a candidate requires 45 % of valid votes - or 40% and a 10-point lead over their nearest rival. For the first time since 2003 voters were faced with a runoff, and were without a Kirchner on the presidential ballots when they entered the voting booth.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/201672/scioli-macri-in-tight-race-to-first-runoff-in-argentine-history

Vatican synod holds line on gay marriage, but offers hope on communion for divorcees

Source: The Guardian

After a three-week marathon of Vatican talks on family issues, Roman Catholic bishops voted on a summary document which decided against overhauling the church’s teaching on gay Catholics but paved the way for greater openness towards divorcees.

Pope Francis described the Vatican summit as a way to “open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints. It's about seeing these difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.”

A push for more welcoming language was evident, but the final text was by no means a triumph for progressives. There was, however, a greater openness towards Catholics who divorce and remarry outside the church, who under Vatican teachings are excluded from receiving communion. Bishops agreed divorcees must be “more integrated in Christian communities”.

The bishops also paved the way for clergy to decide whether to allow divorcees to participate fully in church life: “It is to be hoped that in the dioceses paths of discernment and involvement of these people will be promoted.”

The statements on remarried Catholics, however, lacked specificity, reflecting the difficulty of reaching consensus among the bishops, who voted paragraph-by-paragraph on a text that on Friday received 1,355 suggested changes. Although the clash of conservatives and progressives ran as an undercurrent through this year’s synod, perhaps the greatest challenge was marked by the hugely diverse experiences bishops have of family life.

Such splits may have played a role in Pope Francis calling for a “healthy decentralisation” of the church and the need for a “conversation of the papacy.”

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/24/vatican-synod-gays

Pope Francis overcame vocal Opus Dei opposition to this one, obtaining a victory of 178 cardinals to 80.

It's a small step, of course - but very meaningful to the millions of Catholics worldwide who are separated/living separate lives but can't, or won't, divorce because of Church doctrine.

He holds the patent that could destroy Monsanto and change the world.

In 2006, a patent was granted to a man named Paul Stamets. Though Paul is the world’s leading mycologist, his patent has received very little attention and exposure. Why is that? Stated by executives in the pesticide industry, this patent represents “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed.” And when the executives say disruptive, they are referring to it being disruptive to the chemical pesticides industry.

What has Paul discovered? The mycologist has figured out how to use mother nature’s own creations to keep insects from destroying crops. It’s what is being called SMART pesticides. These pesticides provide safe & nearly permanent solution for controlling over 200,000 species of insects – and all thanks to the ‘magic’ of mushrooms.

Paul does this by taking entomopathogenic Fungi (fungi that destroys insects), and morphs it so it does not produce spores. In turn, this actually attracts the insects who then eat and turn into fungi from the inside out. This patent has potential to revolutionize the way humans grow crops – if it can be allowed to reach mass exposure.

To tolerate the use of pesticides in modern agriculture is to deny evidence proving its detrimental effects against the environment. Such ignorance really can no longer be tolerated. For example, can you imagine a world without bees? Monsanto’s chemical concoctions which are being sprayed all over farmers’ fields around the world are attributed to the large-scale bee die off. While a growing number of countries are banning Monsanto, it’s still being used in nations who should be aware of its dangers. To say that new methods need to be implemented before it is too late is an understatement.

Monsanto presently generates $16 billion dollars per year (as reported in 2014), therefore you can be certain they do not want anything interrupting that flow of revenue. Such income gives them nearly limitless resources and abilities to suppress information that may be damaging their reputation. But by becoming educated on the benefits of growing sustainable, organic, and bio-dynamic food, sharing articles like this, and boycotting GMO & herbicide-sprayed crops, they may soon get the message.

At: http://www.getholistichealth.com/42450/he-holds-the-patent-that-could-destroy-monsanto-and-change-the-world/

Last Argentine polls before Oct. 25 election show strong lead for Daniel Scioli.

Ruling party’s pro-business candidate is expected to win presidential election in the first round.

The Argentine ruling party nominee, Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli, is primed to win the presidential election outright on October 25th, with a commanding lead over his nearest rivals, two polls published in local papers yesterday showed.

To win outright in the first round, and avoid a run-off election, a candidate requires 45% of valid votes or 40% and a 10-point lead over their nearest rival.

Scioli, a moderate Peronist from left-wing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Front for Victory Party (FpV), is set to garner 42% of votes, according to a poll published in Perfil. His closest rival, Mauricio Macri, the right-wing mayor of Buenos Aires, is getting 28% of the vote, according to the poll.

Similarly, Scioli is obtaining around 41% and Macri a little over 28%, in a CEOP poll released in Página 12. The same two polls showed that Sergio Massa, a suburban mayor who defected from the FpV in 2013 and is running as a center-right Peronist alternative to Scioli, would receive 23 and 22% respectively.

Governor Scioli, who owes much of his support to Fernández loyalists, is promising pro-business policies to spur growth and has made attracting new investment to Argentina a pillar of his campaign.

At: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/argentinian-polls-show-strong-lead-for-daniel-scioli-1.2396657

Macri's would-be Economy Minister Carlos Melconian: "There are $2 billion for the vultures"

In an interview with Radio Mitre, the economic policy adviser to right-wing PRO/'Let's Change' candidate Mauricio Macri, Carlos Melconian, referred to the dispute affecting the country with the holdouts who did not enter the 2005-10 debt restructuring (92% did). In this regard he stated that if Macri were elected President, US$2 billion of Central Bank reserves would be designated to cancel liabilities with the vulture funds. "You have to pay Griesa," stressed the economist.

It is not the first time that Melconian has spoken of the vulture funds and the need to solve problems in accessing the capital markets. What is striking is that this opinion is contrary to what had stated by the PRO candidate, Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri, in numerous campaign speeches. Assurances of immediate cash payments to vulture funds are also quite generous, considering that since the beginning of this year (when the RUFO clause that limited Argentina's options expired) they've stated willingness to accept bonds as payment.

The alleged "hard stance" vis-à-vis the vulture funds promised by Mauricio Macri on the stump is similarly contradicted by Melconian's recent statrements. "If we have to, we will negotiate with the hardest. I take care of the confidence that people give me and I will get the best possible conditions so that Argentina can grow again," promised Macri in a recent Radio 10 interview.

The original claim by vulture funds of US$ 428 million today represents more than US$ 1.6 billion, including principal, interest, and penalties awarded unilaterally by Griesa. More than half of that amount is claimed by Paul Singer's Cayman Islands-based NML Ltd., which originally bought defaulted bonds on the black market for $48.7 million in 2008, and, in the case of a Macri victory this October 25, now stands to receive a payout of 1,608%.

Who is this economist?

Carlos Melconian was head of the Department of External Debt of the Central Bank during the Carlos Menem administration in the 1990s, when foreign debt more than doubled despite massive privatizations. He was Menem's choice for Economy Minister in the 2003 election, which Menem forfeited.

According to official documents published in the news daily Página/12 he was one of the main architects of the policy that nationalized over $15 billion in private external debt in 1982 and 1983, during the last days of the dictatorship. During his tenure in the Menem years a decade later, Melconian also shelved investigations against multinational and local economic groups for billions in fraudulent debts discharged in the early eighties.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201510/9009-melconian-hay-us-2000-millones-para-los-buitres.html&prev=search

And more than a few million of that for you and Signore Macri, eh Carlos?

Pope Francis slams GMOs for destroying health and the environment.

A controversial new encyclical by Pope Francis set for release by the Vatican casts blame for worsening environmental damage on technology that is in common use today. In particular, the pontiff blames agricultural and fossil fuel technology for destroying ecosystems and changing the planet’s climate patterns.

Biotech companies claim their products are keys to solving hunger, but the Pope knows this isn’t true. No commercial GE crops are engineered for increased yield. Five of every six acres of GE crops are engineered for herbicide-tolerance, i.e. to survive being drenched with what would normally be a toxic dose of herbicide, usually Round-up, or glyphosate.

Pope Francis’s encyclical didn’t just cover climate change, he denounced pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) crops, declaring “the spread of these crops destroys the complex web of ecosystems, decreases diversity in production and affects the present and the future of regional economies.”

Pesticide use is at an all-time high. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says glyphosate use on corn and soy increased from 10 million pounds in 1996, the year Roundup Ready crops were introduced, to 204 million in 2013. The U.S. Geological Survey routinely finds glyphosate in our water. The Word Health Organization just declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen.

At: http://www.enlightened-consciousness.com/pope-slams-gmo-for-destroying-health-and-environment/
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