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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 06:11 PM
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South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping files for bankruptcy protection

Source: Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co. filed for receivership Wednesday, as shipping companies world-wide grapple with overcapacity amid a slump in global trade. It would become the biggest company in the industry to go under if it is ordered to fold.

The filing with the Seoul Central District Court came just a day after the company’s creditors discontinued providing a lifeline after financial assistance of more than 1 trillion won ($896 million) failed to keep it afloat. The court will soon determine whether Hanjin, the country’s largest container operator by capacity and the eighth-largest in the world, should be liquidated or given a chance to survive after restructuring, the company said.

The company’s main creditor, state-run Korea Development Bank, withdrew its support on Tuesday, saying a funding plan by Hanjin’s parent group wasn’t sufficient to tackle the shipper’s debt, which stood at $5.5 billion at the end of June.

Hanjin — a unit of the conglomerate that controls Korean Air Lines Co. — has faced an acute credit crunch after posting a loss each year from 2011 to 2014, as slowing global trade and overcapacity depressed freight rates. It has been under a creditor-led debt restructuring program since May.

The Korean government said it wants Hanjin’s domestic rival, Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., to buy healthy assets from the troubled company. It rejected the idea of a merger.

Read more: http://www.wsj.com/articles/troubled-hanjin-shipping-to-sell-healthy-assets-to-rival-1472611190

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff ousted from office by Senate

Brazil's Senate on Wednesday voted to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office, the culmination of a yearlong fight that paralyzed Latin America's most powerful economy and exposed deep rifts among its people on everything from race relations to social spending.

While Rousseff's ouster was widely expected, the decision was a key chapter in a colossal political struggle that is far from over. Rousseff was Brazil's first female president, with a storied career that includes a stint as a Marxist guerrilla jailed and tortured in the 1970s during the country's dictatorship. She was accused of breaking fiscal laws in her management of the federal budget.

Opposition lawmakers argued that the maneuvers masked yawning deficits from high spending and ultimately exacerbated the recession in a nation that had long enjoyed darling status among emerging economies. Rousseff proclaimed her innocence up to the end, noting that previous presidents used similar accounting techniques and saying the push to remove her was a bloodless coup d'état by elites fuming over the populist polices of her Workers' Party the last 13 years.

In the background through it all was a wide-ranging investigation into billions of dollars in kickbacks at state oil company Petrobras. The two-year probe has led to the jailing of dozens of top businessmen and politicians from across the political spectrum, and threatens many of the same lawmakers who voted to remove Rousseff.

Rousseff argued that many opponents just wanted her out of the way so they could save their own skins by tampering with the investigation, which Rousseff had refused to do. Many lawmakers and Brazilians nationwide, meanwhile, blamed Rousseff for the graft even though she has never been personally implicated. They argued that she had to know, as many of the alleged bribes happened while her party was in power.

Rousseff's removal creates many questions that are not easily answered. Michel Temer, her vice president who became her nemesis, will serve out the remainder of her term through 2018. But Brazilians have already gotten a taste of Temer's leadership, and they are clearly unimpressed.

In May, Temer took over as interim President after the Senate impeached and suspended Rousseff. The 75-year-old career politician named a Cabinet of all-white men, a decision roundly criticized in a nation that is more than 50% nonwhite. Three of his ministers were forced to resign within weeks of taking their jobs because of corruption allegations, which also follow Temer and threaten his hold on power.

When Temer announced the opening of the Olympics on August 5, he was so vociferously booed that he remained out of sight for the remainder of the games.

Rousseff's allies have vowed to appeal to the country's highest court. While previous petitions to the court have failed to stop the impeachment process, at the very least legal wrangling will keep the issue front and center.

At: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/brazils-president-rousseff-ousted-from-office-by-senate/ar-AAihpLP?OCID=ansmsnnews11

True to form, one of these senators (Aloysio Nunes, of Temer's PSDB) was caught by cameras with a dime bag of cocaine as Dilma was speaking.

Above all It's worth noting that while over a third of these good senators are under indictment on some form of corruption (usually bribery or massive tax evasion), Dilma herself is not and never has been.

Há sempre um amanhã.

Bank secrecy rules face ‘lethal blow’ in Uruguay.

Described by government officials as a “lethal blow” to bank secrecy, the administration of Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez has sent a bill to Congress that would force banks to automatically provide the DGI tax bureau information on the accounts held by individuals and companies, both Uruguayans and foreign citizens.

The bill, if passed, would eliminate the current need for a court order to access the data.

According to Uruguay’s Central Bank, accounts opened by Argentines account for 75% of the funds declared in the country by foreign citizens, with most of the rest from Brazil. The move would put pressure on the estimated $3.3 billion held by Argentines in Uruguay; over the last five years, Argentine deposits have grown by 52%.

These official numbers, however, only include regular retail banks, leaving aside those who choose to manage their money through offshore banks located in Uruguay such as HSBC. HSBC had its license to operate in Argentina suspended last year after evidence surfaced in the SwissLeaks scandal that it had helped wealthy locals evade taxes on some $4 billion; this license was reinstated by the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration.

Such entities will also be in the spotlight with the new bill, which would create a record of final beneficiaries so as to reveal the true identities behind each account. Uruguay would also steeply increase taxes charged on offshore entities that work in Uruguay so as to discourage their transactions in the country.

There are about 1,900 foreign companies using Uruguay as a tax haven, according to DGI data. More than 1,600 were created for real-estate projects, many of them by Argentine and Brazilian citizens.

The move follows stricter rules already implemented by former President José “Pepe” Mujica to prevent money laundering. Previously, those opening a bank account in Uruguay were not required to must explain where the funds originated, or even present valid identification.

“The government wants to expel offshore entities from Uruguay. Tabaré Vázquez doesn’t want them in the country,” Guzmán Ramírez, lawyer at the Bergstein firm, told the Herald. “The move will mainly affect real estate Argentines have through offshore societies. Taxes are going to be much higher.”

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/220685/bank-secrecy-rules-face-%E2%80%98lethal-blow%E2%80%99-in-uruguay

Argentina's Macri orders establishment of a detention center for undocumented immigrants.

The government of Argentine President Mauricio Macri signed an agreement with the City of Buenos Aires - whose mayor belongs to the same right-wing party - to create the first migrant detention center in the country.

The agreement, signed on August 19 by the National Migrations Director, Horacio García; the Minister of National Security, Patricia Bullrich; and her Buenos Aires counterpart, Martín Ocampo, envisaged the transfer of a municipal court archive building in Buenos Aires "for the housing of people infringing Law 25.871 and its complementary regulations." The four-year agreement will take effect on September 1.

The proposed detention center, to be used to "combat illegal immigration," was condemned by Amnesty International, Argentine human rights organizations, and foreign diplomatic delegations, all of whom expressed concern over the potential for abuses at such a facility.

Human rights lawyers believe the law being cited in the agreement - the National Immigration Law of 2004 - is being deliberately misinterpreted by the right-wing Macri administration. Diego Morales, director of legal defense services for Argentina's most prominent human rights organization - CELS - pointed out that Law 25.871 only enables the detention of migrants for very specific violations (mostly felonies) and allows deportations only with a court order. It also protects undocumented immigrants by mandating that authorities assist any law-abiding undocumented immigrant in applying for permanent resident status if so desired.

Signed by former President Néstor Kirchner, the 2004 law provided for the legalization of over 675,000 undocumented immigrants. "It abandoned the concept of combating immigration, and is considered a model internationally," Morales added.

While those who commit felonies are already subject to detention and deportation under the 2004 law, this would in effect be the first prison for migrants in the country. The 40,000 ft² facility, moreover, would be located in a largely residential neighborhood - raising the possibility that besides being a potential human rights and immigration law violation, its existence could also be contested as a gross zoning violation in what is already an economically-distressed working class neighborhood.

The National Migrations Directorate (DNM) conducted over 8,000 inspections from January through July and scrutinized 12,700 individuals - of which only 1,600 were undocumented immigrants.

Many of Argentina's undocumented are from neighboring Bolivia. The former Ambassador to Bolivia, Ariel Basteiro, denounced the proposal as an attempt "to break all ties with the neighboring countries of the region." The Macri administration, he added, "is having a servile attitude toward the United States in hopes that visa requirements (for Argentines visiting the U.S.) be lifted, while jailing fellow Latin Americans."

Over 500 academics, lawyers, and activists created a petition on change.org titled "No to the creation of detention centers for immigrants in Argentina." Argentina, they warned, had shifted "from a paradigm focused on the human rights of migrants to one based on expulsion by the state, which now sees migration as a problem of national security and public order."

Amnesty International also condemned the agreement for its "use of detention as a form of punishment or deterrence, rather than addressing the root causes of irregular immigration." If implemented it would, they said, be "a turning point in Argentina's immigration policy."

Macri was narrowly elected last November, and had made limiting immigration one of his central campaign themes. Critics charge that Macri, whose austerity policies are widely blamed for a doubling in inflation and a severe recession, is attempting to shore up support from his vocal right-wing base.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1-307814-2016-08-26.html&prev=search

Argentine court sentences 28 former officers to life in prison for role in La Perla detention camp.

An Argentine federal court tribunal sentenced 28 former military and police officers to life in prison for their roles in human rights atrocities committed in the La Perla detention camp and two other sites during the country's Dirty War against dissidents in the mid 1970s. Another nine defendants received sentences of up to 21 years and six were acquitted.

The landmark ruling, one of the largest and most significant of its kind since former President Néstor Kirchner signed a bill in 2003 rescinding amnesty for Dirty War perpetrators, involved 52 defendants (nine have died) and 716 identified victims - of which 279 remain missing.

Among those given a life sentence was former General Luciano Menéndez, who as Commander of the Third Army Corps from 1975 to 1979 oversaw La Perla and now has 12 life sentences for his prominent role in the Dirty War. Menéndez, 89, was found guilty of 52 murders, 260 kidnappings, and 656 cases of torture - as well as the expropriation of the the then-infant grandson of Sonia Torres, President of Córdoba chapter of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, established to locate the estimated 500 individuals taken as infants during the Dirty War and then adopted by members or supporters of the dictatorship, have located 120 such grandchildren thus far.

Another prominent defendant given a life sentence was former Army Major Ernesto Barreiro, chief torturer at La Perla. The most defiant and unrepentant of the defendants, Barreiro, 68, fled Argentina in 2004 - shortly after amnesty was rescinded - and lived in hiding in rural Virginia until his arrest and extradition in 2006. Barreiro was found guilty of 228 kidnappings, 78 murders, and the expropriation of an infant.

Former Army Captain Héctor Vergez, who directed La Perla as well as the smaller La Ribera detention site, also received a life sentence for his role as one of the most vicious torturers at the camp. Vergez, 73, is a already serving a 23-year sentence for three murders and three disappearances (including that of Juan Carlos Casariego de Bel, who was killed in 1977 after objecting to the $400 million bailout of the bankrupt CIAE electric utility by its chief shareholder, then-Economy Minister José Martínez de Hoz).

An estimated 10,000 people gathered outside the First District Federal Courthouse in Córdoba, Argentina's second largest city. The reading of the verdict by Judge Jaime Díaz Gavier began before noon and lasted almost two hours. Among those present in the courthouse were the head of Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela Barnes de Carlotto, as well as the country's most prominent Dirty War Apologist, Cecilia Pando.

The verdict was handed down after nearly four years of trial that included testimony from around 600 witnesses and experts and over a thousand hours of hearings. Prosecutors Facundo Trotta, Virginia Carmona, and Rafael Vehils sought prison sentences (including 34 life sentences) for charges ranging from illegal deprivation of liberty, aggravated deprivation, aggravated torture, torture followed by death, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, aggravated rape, murder in the first degree, and child abduction.

La Perla, located 5 miles west of the city of Córdoba in the scenic Andes foothills of central Argentina, functioned between 1975 and 1978 as one of the largest of around 300 detention centers maintained during the Dirty War. An estimated 3,000 people lost their lives there, second only to the 5,000 killed in the Navy Mechanics School (ESMA) in Buenos Aires. A total of up to 30,000 dissidents, violent and non-violent, died or disappeared at the time.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201608/16183-historica-sentencia-en-cordoba-28-condenas-a-perpetua-en-la-megacausa-la-perla.html&prev=search

Argentine GDP fell by 4.3% in June from the same time last year - sharpest decline since 2002 crisis

Argentina's National Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC) today published its first Monthly Economic Activity Estimate since November. Argentine GDP, according to the report, fell by 4.1% in June compared to the same time last year; GDP for the first half of 2016 was down by 1.3%.

This was the third consecutive monthly decline, with April and May both down 2.1% from a year earlier. This trend is in marked contrast to the 2.4% growth recorded in 2015, before the effects of a 40% devaluation, massive utility and fare hikes, and other austerity policies decreed by right-wing President Mauricio Macri.

This monthly GDP report is the first since the Macri administration decreed a statistical blackout within days after taking office last December; that report, published November 20, showed growth in September 2015 of 2.8% from a year earlier.

An earlier quarterly report, published by INDEC on June 29, had estimated GDP to have grown by 0.5% in the first quarter from the last time last year. Its claim that private consumption grew by 1.1% and public consumption by 2.7% lacked credibility, local economists pointed out, given the doubling in inflation rates and sharp cuts to public works since Macri took office.

While monthly reports exclude a detailed sectoral analysis (that should appear in the next quarterly report, due in September), INDEC's other recently published data suggest that manufacturing and construction are bearing the brunt of this recession. Manufacturing declined 6.4% in June according to the latest report, while construction did so by 19.6%.


Inflation, estimated by the City of Buenos Aires to have doubled to 47%, is also taking a toll on retail sales. The CAME medium business chamber estimates real sales to have fallen in July by 8.1%, and INDEC's own data on supermarket and shopping center sales is even worse. The June INDEC report showed that while the peso value of sales rose by 27% in supermarkets and shopping centers, real sales in each fell by nearly 14%.

The latest quarterly INDEC labor market survey, published yesterday, showed that unemployment rose sharply from 5.9% in QIII 2015 (the last quarter covered before the statistical blackout) to 9.3% in QII 2016 - a 64% increase in the number of unemployed in just six months and the highest level in almost a decade.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.ambito.com/852282-segun-indec-la-actividad-economica-cayo-43-en-junio&prev=search

Unemployment in Argentina rises from 5.9% to 9.3% - the highest in nearly a decade.

Argentina's National Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC) reported that the country's unemployment rate rose in the second quarter of 2016 to 9.3%.

The figure was published in the first official labor market report since the Mauricio Macri administration decreed a statistical blackout within days after taking office last December.

This also represents a sharp increase from a 5.9% rate in the third quarter of 2015 - the last quarter covered before the statistical blackout - and marks the highest level of unemployment in Argentina since a 9.8% rate in the first quarter of 2007, when the country was still climbing out of its historic crisis five years earlier.

It is, however, the steepest jump since May 1995, when a ripple effect from the Mexican "Tequila" crisis caused unemployment in Argentina to skyrocket from 12.1% to 18.4% in just six months.

The latest rate is 57.6% higher than six months prior, and means a 64% jump (456,000) in the absolute number of unemployed - from 709,000 six months ago to 1,165,000 currently. This is consistent with the latest monthly labor market report published by the Center for Argentine Economic Policy (CEPA), which tallied layoffs and suspensions nationwide at 194,422 since the right-wing Macri administration took office eight months ago.

The rise in unemployment was widespread, with 26 of 31 metro areas surveyed recording an increase. The most severely affected was Neuquén, with around 300,000 people the largest metro area in windswept Patagonia. Layoffs at the state energy firm YPF and in the local horticulture industry have helped push unemployment there from 2.9% six months ago to 8.6% now.

Metro Buenos Aires, home to nearly one in three Argentines, also saw its labor market severely deteriorate, with unemployment rising from 6.0% to 10.6% - nearly doubling their ranks from 383,000 to 740,000 in just six months. Layoffs in the public sector, manufacturing, and construction - all leading metro area employers - accounted for most of that increase.

The Permanent Household Survey (EPH), published regularly by INDEC since 1974, now covers 31 metro areas nationwide with 27.2 million people between them (63% of Argentina's population).

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiempoar.com.ar%2Farticulo%2Fview%2F59423%2F&sandbox=1

Steven Hill, trailblazing TV star, dies at 94.

Source: MSN

Steven Hill, who originated imposing lead roles on two notable television series, Mission: Impossible in the 1960s and Law & Order in the 1990s, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 94.

Born Solomon Krakowsky on Feb. 24, 1922, in Seattle, the son of a Russian Jewish furniture-store owner, Hill graduated from the University of Washington and at first moved to Chicago to work in radio.

He was 44 and a veteran stage and television actor in 1966 when he was cast as Daniel Briggs, the leader of an elite covert-operations unit, in the new series Mission: Impossible. But he left after the first season, paving the way for Peter Graves’s six-season run as the show’s lead.

Almost a quarter-century after that experience, Hill took on the role of the district attorney Adam Schiff on a new cops-and-lawyers series based in New York, Law & Order. He played the role, said to be modeled on the long-serving Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, from 1990 to 2000.

In a 1996 interview with The Washington Post, Dick Wolf, the creator of Law & Order, called Hill “the Talmudic influence on the entire zeitgeist of the series.”

“Steven has more moral authority than anyone else on episodic TV,” Wolf said.

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/celebrity/steven-hill-trailblazing-tv-star-dies-at-94/ar-BBvXN3Z?ocid=ansmsnent11&OCID=ansmsnnews11


Hill in his best-known role, as D.A. Adam Schiff, in Law & Order[/center]

Jazz harmonica great Toots Thielemans dies at 94 in Belgium.

Source: MSN

Belgian harmonica player Toots Thielemans, whose illustrious career included playing with jazz greats like Miles Davis and whose solos have figured on numerous film scores, has died. Thielemans died in his sleep in a Belgian hospital on Monday, his manager said. He was 94.

Born in Brussels on April 29, 1922, Jean-Baptiste Frederic Isidore Thielemans started playing the harmonica as a hobby and got "contaminated" by the jazz virus during the German occupation, according to his website.

His first international breakthrough came in 1950 when he joined Benny Goodman on a European concert tour. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1952, joining Charlie Parker's All Stars, and later played with Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, and Billy Joel. His harmonica solos figure on many film scores, including Midnight Cowboy, The Getaway, and Sugarland Express, and also on the theme music to the children's TV series Sesame Street.

Thielemans, who also played guitar, was honored by Belgium's royal family in 2001, when King Albert II gave him the title of baron. The U.S. National Endowment for the Arts granted him the 2009 Jazz Master Award. Belgium's royal family said it was "deeply moved by (the) passing away of Toots Thielemans, one of the greatest jazzmen."

On the liner notes of one album, Quincy Jones said that "without hesitation that Toots is one of the greatest musicians of our time. On his instrument he ranks with the best that jazz has ever produced. He goes for the heart and makes you cry."

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/music/news/jazz-harmonica-great-toots-thielemans-dies-at-94-in-belgium/ar-BBvU4AD?ocid=ansmsnent11&OCID=ansmsnnews11

Head of Argentine Customs, veteran of past coup attempts, fired after proof of bribery surfaces.

The Director General of Customs in Argentina, Juan José Gómez Centurión, was dismissed yesterday following revelations that he had solicited bribes.

The revelations were part of a complaint filed against Gómez Centurión at the National Security Ministry which included audio evidence of the National Customs Director soliciting bribes in exchange for allowing the value of imported goods to be underreported. Gómez Centurión denies the charges.

The now former Director General of Customs had been presented by the Mauricio Macri administration as "an example" in the effort to "clean up corruption." Gómez Centurión, however, had been a controversial appointment long before his recent dismissal for bribery.

A close associate of far-right Col. Mohamed Ali Seineldín, Gómez Centurión took part in the failed Easter and Monte Caseros rebellions in 1987 and 1988, both led by Colonel Aldo Rico. Rico headed the infamous Carapintada ("painted face" faction in the Argentine Army, which opposed any trials for Dirty War human rights abuses and which staged these mutinies periodically in the late 1980s to destabilize the administration of President Raúl Alfonsín.

Alfonsín, elected in 1983, succeeded a military dictatorship under which up to 30,000 dissidents were killed and the economy collapsed under the weight of $30 billion in bad speculative loans. He ordered the regime's leadership tried in 1985 for their abuses, and initially sought the prosecutions of at least 600 other officers; amid pressure from the Carapintadas, however, Alfonsín himself later signed two bills in 1987 granting them amnesty.

Alfonsín's successor, Carlos Menem, pardoned the Carapintadas in 1989 (they nevertheless attempted a mutiny on Army Headquarters the following year).

Despite this background, or, critics charge, because of it, in 2012 Macri (then Mayor of Buenos Aires) chose Gómez Centurión to head the City Government Control Agency, which issues and administers municipal permits and closures. Under Gómez Centurión, the AGCC became notorious for closing dance or music halls over minor issues while ignoring complaints against sweatshops. Macri's wife, Juliana Awada, has been charged numerous times with labor violations related to sweatshops turning out garments for her casual ladies' wear chain, Cheeky.

It was during his tenure at AGCC that the February 2014 Iron Mountain warehouse fire - in which nine firemen and a paramedic died - took place. Massive amounts of documents stored by HSBC Argentina and other institutions under investigation at the time for tax evasion and money laundering was lost as well.

Macri reportedly tapped Gómez Centurión as Defense Minister following his narrow victory in the 2015 presidential race. His involvement in the mutinies against Alfonsín, however, made him unacceptable to the junior partners in Macri's right-wing "Let's Change" coalition, the centrist UCR (to which Alfonsín had belonged). Macri instead chose a former UCR lawmaker, Julio Martínez; but two key positions - Undersecretary of Strategic Planning and Military Policy, and Director of Planning - were filled by associates of Gómez Centurión.

Both these appointees were part of the military policy team of 28 people led by Gómez Centurión for Macri's right-wing think tank Fundación Pensar. Pensar and other think tanks linked to Macri's party, PRO, have recently come under fire after it was revealed that Vice President Michetti had been illegally donating large sums in cash to SUMA - a "think tank" she leads, but with no declared partners or employees.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1-307373-2016-08-20.html&prev=search


Mr. Clean.[/center]
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