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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 06:11 PM
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U.S. Takes Cuba off Terror List, Paving Way for Normal Ties

By Indira Lakshmanan
Bloomberg News

U.S. State Department Removes Cuba From Terror List

The State Department removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a largely symbolic step clearing the way for normalizing diplomatic relations 54 years after the U.S. severed ties after Cuba’s communist revolution.

Removal from the list, announced by the department on Friday, came as a matter of course because Congress made no move to block the action within 45 days after President Barack Obama unveiled plans to do so on April 14.

“While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation,” Jeff Rathke, a department spokesman, said in a statement.

The two nations intend to reopen embassies in Havana and Washington once officials resolve points of contention, including U.S. demands for freedom of movement for its diplomats in the island nation and Cuba’s concerns about U.S. democracy programs that it says undermine the government in Havana.

At: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-29/u-s-takes-cuba-off-terror-list-paving-the-way-for-normal-ties

Here's hoping the U.S. might realistically come off Cuba's State Sponsors of Terror list as well.(http://www.voltairenet.org/article132624.html)

Argentina opens largest cultural center in Latin America

Luiciana Bertoia
Buenos Aires Herald

The former Central Post Office Building yesterday officially became the Néstor Kirchner Cultural Center. According to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner it houses the dreams of her administration to build a more inclusive country, she said seven months before leaving the Casa Rosada.

The ceremony was taken as an opportunity for Fernández de Kirchner to praise her cultural policy — sitting next to Culture Minister Teresa Parodi and Planning Minister Julio De Vido. “Look at what we’ve done. We want to move forward with open digital TV — which is aimed at democratizing communications — but we first need to put into practice the Broadcast Media Law,” the president yesterday said in reference to the legislation her lawmakers and their progressive allies passed in 2009 and has become one of her government’s landmark achievements.

“This was possible thanks to a prospering economy. Culture is always linked to the economy,” Fernández de Kirchner said.

*Full Name: The President Néstor Kirchner Bicentennial Cultural Center.

*Location: Bouchard 350 (downtown).

*Dimensions: 100,000 m² (1.1 million ft²) total floor space, 60 metres (197 feet) high.

*Production: Six-year construction and renovation project; employed over 1,000 workers, used over 2,000 tons of steel.

*Cost: 2.46 billion pesos (US$275 million), plus 164 million pesos (US$18 million) for art work.

*Total Capacity: 5,000 people.

*Features: 12 floors, 15,000 m² (160,000 ft²) of exhibition space, two viewing galleries, six auditoriums, 12 vestibules, 16 rehearsal rooms, 40 exhibition halls. The main “Blue Whale” Auditorium has capacity for 1,950 people.

*Admission: Free and open to the public.

*History: Former Central Post Office headquarters. The original building took 30 years to complete, and opened in 1928. Designated a National Historic Monument in 1997, it fell into disuse in 2003. (more about the Central Post Office: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buenos_Aires_Central_Post_Office)

*Claim To Fame: Largest cultural centre in Latin America; fourth-largest worldwide after the Tokyo International Forum, the Barbican Centre (London), and Centre Pompidou (Paris).

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/189789/cfk-opens-largest-cultural-centre-in-latam

Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/culturaargentina/sets/72157652858377779

Argentine Gov’t defies ‘vultures’ with dollar bond issue

Debt paying 8.75% sees lots of interest, is oversubscribed three times.

Argentina had its most successful foray into dollar markets yesterday since its debt repayments were blocked by New York District Judge Thomas Griesa last year, selling US$1.4 billion in bonds despite attempts from “vulture fund” NML Capital to scare off potential investors earlier in the day.

Economy Minister Axel Kicillof had initially aimed low, saying the government would only be looking to raise US$500 million, maybe expanding to US$600 million if market conditions looked good, but the country was offered three times that amount: US$1.88 billion in total. “The vulture funds failed at scaring off investors. But the idea that Argentina is disconnected from the world is now completely dead after the offers we received,” Kicillof told the press during his visit to Russia.

“It is clear also that holdouts do not have the capacity to interrupt an issue like this,” said Jorge Piedrahita, CEO of broker Torino Capital. “It will be positive to the extent that Argentina can still issue paper.”

This is probably one of the reasons why NML Capital was so quick to react against the proposal, fearing it would reduce its leverage over Argentina. The country could decide to postpone a full repayment or negotiated settlement with what it calls “vulture funds” if it starts findings ways to maneuver around the sanctions imposed by Griesa for refusing to accept holdouts’ demands.

The US dollar-denominated Bonar 2024s are also seen as outside the reach of U.S. courts, as they were not part of the 2005 and 2010 restructurings contested by holdout creditors.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/187369/gov%E2%80%99t-defies-%E2%80%98vultures%E2%80%99-with-dollar-bond-issue

Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband

Adam Sherwin and Oliver Wright
The Independent
21 April

Rupert Murdoch berated journalists on his tabloid papers for not doing enough to stop Labour winning the general election and warned them that the future of the company depended on stopping Ed Miliband entering No. 10.

The proprietor of Britain’s best-selling tabloid warned executives that a Labour government would try to break up News Corp, which owns The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times. He instructed them to be much more aggressive in their attacks on Labour and more positive about Conservative achievements in the run-up to polling day, sources told The Independent.

The News Corp. boss, who has made no secret of his dislike of the Labour leader, told the editor of The Sun, David Dinsmore, that he expected the paper to be much sharper in its attacks on Labour.

At: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/rupert-murdoch-berated-sun-journalists-for-not-doing-enough-to-attack-ed-miliband-10191005.html

My thanks to Don Viejo for bringing this up at the Latest Breaking News forum.

Argentine Court of Cassation dismisses Nisman cover-up allegations

Source: Buenos Aires Herald

The Court of Cassations has refused to take on the criminal complaint formulated by late AMIA lead investigator Alberto Nisman, in which he accused President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and other government officials of covering up those responsible for the deadly 1994 bombing.

The chamber is Argentina's highest judicial authority for appeals, leaving the docket composed by the former prosecutor in limbo after being dismissed on no less than three instances.

Read more: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/187258/court-of-cassation-dismisses-nisman-coverup-allegations

These were the Nisman cover-up claims that the Secretary-General of Interpol at the time, Ronald Noble, debunked three months ago already.

This is an election year in Argentina; and while Mrs. Kirchner herself isn't running, her populist Front for Victory (FpV) is polling at or near the top in opinion polls just six months out. The FpV is the closest thing to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in Argentina. They've been in office for 12 years, during which real GDP doubled, poverty and unemployment fell by 70%, social programs and unions were revitalized, and real wages in Argentina rose by 75%. And yes: right-wingers hate them with the same virulent racism Teahadists hate Obama and Democrats.

The Argentine right wing (sponsored by the likes of neocons, Netanyahoo, GOP megadonor and Caymans bankster Paul Singer, and other vulture funds) has nevertheless been playing tag with this fable ever since, going from one Ken Starr-like prosecutor to another in the hope of keeping this going. This Appeals Court dismissal was their last real chance.

Definitely something we on DU can relate to given the never-ending GOP witch hunts against the Clintons and Obamacare.


Former IMF Director & Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Rodrigo Rato Arrested For Money Laundering

Source: The Spain Report

Former IMF director, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Economy Minister and chairman of Bankia Rodrigo Rato was arrested by anti-fraud police at his home in central Madrid on Thursday evening on charges of money laundering, fraud and defrauding creditors.

Tax and customs officials began searching his house on Thursday evening, El Mundo reported. Following his arrest, Mr. Rato was taken by police to an office in Madrid where a second search was carried out.

VozPópuli reported on Tuesday that Mr. Rato was one of 705 suspects being investigated by Spanish anti-fraud authorities for money laundering and that “Rato is not the only illustrious name in this list of taxpayers.”

Read more: https://www.thespainreport.com/16020/spanish-tax-officials-searching-home-of-former-imf-boss-spanish-deputy-prime-minister-rodrigo-rato/

Some may remember the aptly-named Mr. Rato as the former Director of the IMF from 2004 to 2007. It was Rato's objections -and of course, Dubya's- that were mainly responsible for the failure to adopt a global debt restructuring mechanism at the time. Vulture funds owe their continued existence to the lack of such a mechanism (they owe their successes in New York courts -the only ones that give them the time of day- to other per$uasion$).

Banksters of a feather...

New film to document the Buenos Aires Herald’s human rights stance.

By Julio Nakamurakare
Buenos Aires Herald
March 28, 2015

New film charts the newspaper’s editorial policy during the last military dictatorship

Proving that it was a fallacy to say that the Buenos Aires Herald, a centenary newspaper by the mid 1970s, was just a British community medium, the first three years (1976-1979) of the brutal military dictatorship saw the English-language news outlet soar to unprecedented heights when it took a fierce stance against human rights violations perpetrated by the military.

While the rest of the media, later referred to as the prensa canalla (scoundrel press), looked the other way and ignored the brutalities being committed in the name of the fight against terrorism, the Buenos Aires Herald, with Robert Cox at the helm, bravely reported on the thousands of cases of “disappearances,” described verbatim by other media as Armed Forces press releases about “shootouts in which terrorists were killed.” The Herald was the one and only news outlet to receive the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, an organization that had just started to take shape in order to find answers to questions the military government, Catholic Church dignitaries and society at large consistently refused to confront.

The story —that of a small foreign-language newspaper braving a dictatorship and standing up for human rights — has been told in hundreds of newspaper articles, books and film documentaries. Now comes Messenger On A White Horse, a documentary written and directed by former Herald staffer Jayson McNamara. An indie project financed through crowd-funding and the unflinching support of human rights organizations — not to mention the filmmakers’ own willingness to work long hours at no profit — Messenger On A White Horse promises to take viewers on a long ride through a painful period in recent Argentine history.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/185396/documenting-the-herald%E2%80%99s-human-rights-stance

Not surprisingly, Herald editor-in-chief Robert Cox had to leave Argentina during the fascist 1976 dictatorship (which the GOP vocally applauded, until they turned into loose cannons and invaded the Falklands of course). We're very fortunate to have a living link to history like him and so many others still around, and still fighting the good fight.

Here's Bob Cox at the Carter Center last July. Skip to 1:20:00 for his contribution, although the entire segment is worthwhile for anyone interested in learning more about the Argentine Dirty War (all the more so since history is being repeated in Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico as we speak).

Jazz Radio Host Bob Parlocha Dies at 76.

By Jeff Tamarkin
Jazz Times
March 16, 2015

Longtime jazz radio host Bob Parlocha, best known for his long run at Bay Area station KJAZ-FM and for his syndicated program Jazz With Bob Parlocha, died on March 15, of a heart attack. Parlocha was 76.

Born in Solano, CA, on April 18, 1938, Parlocha listened to KJAZ (1959-1994) and also played jazz saxophone in his youth. He worked as a psychiatric nurse following his graduation from high school and became the host of KJAZ’s Dinner Jazz Show in 1978. He eventually became the station’s music director and developed several programs for the station. He also produced and engineered a number of jazz recordings.

In 1994, when KJAZ was sold, Parlocha developed his syndicated program, which was carried by numerous stations across the country and alternated between four- and six-hour shifts on different nights of the week.

At: http://jazztimes.com/sections/news/articles/157453-jazz-radio-host-bob-parlocha-dies-at-76


I lived in L.A. from '04 to '10, and enjoyed Jazz With Bob Parlocha almost every evening on KKjZ (88.1). After leaving L.A. I bookmarked KKJZ, but over time lost the habit of tuning in - much to my regret. I know I speak for a lot of his listeners when I say that Bob was Mr. Jazz Radio, and that American radio itself has lost one of its treasures.

Godspeed, Bob. Spin some Johnny Hartman for me when I get there, won't you?

Costa Rica powered with 100% renewable energy for 75 straight days.

By Miles Gough
Science Alert
March 20, 2015

And it's mostly thanks to heavy rains and geothermal energy.

Well done Costa Rica, well done. The Central American country has achieved a major clean energy milestone, meeting 100 percent of its power demand with renewable energy for 75 straight days.

“The year 2015 has been one of electricity totally friendly to the environment for Costa Rica,” the state-owned power supplier Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said in a press release.

The ICE says the country's zero-emission milestone was enabled thanks to heavy rainfalls at four hydroelectric power facilities in the first quarter of 2015. These downpours have meant that, for the months of January, February and so far March, there has been no need to burn fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Instead, Costa Rica has been powered primarily by hydro power - both pumped storage and run-of-the-river plants - and a mixture of geothermal, wind, biomass and solar energy.

At: http://www.sciencealert.com/costa-rica-powered-with-100-renewable-energy-for-75-days


My thanks to JaneyVee for her post to this effect on the General Discussion forum: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026400861

Griesa authorizes Citi to process payments of Argentine bonds

Source: Buenos Aires Herald

New York District Judge Thomas Griesa has authorized Citibank to process interest payments on US$2.3 billion of Argentina bonds due on March 31st. The order also authorizes the bank to process a future payment on June 30th, and compels the financial entity to get out of its custody business in the South American country.

Griesa had blocked payments from Citibank Argentina to bondholders following his sentence in favor of holdout tenants of Argentine debt. The judge ordered so-called “vulture funds” should be paid in full, blocking interest payments on Argentine denominated bonds until that sentence is met. Ranked one of the world’s leading custodian banks, Citigroup portrayed itself as an innocent third party faced with the untenable choice of ignoring Griesa and being held in contempt of a federal US court, or putting its license in jeopardy, as the Argentine government has threatened to cancel Citibank Argentina’s operating license if it refuses to process payments.

Citibank had said on Tuesday it planned to get out of the business of making bond payments for the country and transfer the responsibility to another entity. “Our custody business represents approximately 2 percent of Citi Argentina’s incomes and, by its own nature, does not have any relation with the rest of its banking activities. Citi has fulfilled a relevant role in Argentina’s economy for over 100 years and hopes to continue developing that role throughout upcoming decades,” a statement released by Citibank Argentina reads.

Read more: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/184937/griesa-authorizes-citi-to-process-payments-of-argentine-bonds

Basically, the judge had been trying to block any and all bondholders from collecting on their Argentine bonds (as they have since 2005) in order to pressure Argentina to pay vulture funds a 1,600% return on their bonds. Buying bonds for the purpose of suing for more later is explicitly illegal under New York Law (and just about anywhere else in the world).

Good to see Citibank keeping Griesa honest.
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