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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
May 30, 2018

Tesla in Autopilot mode crashes into California police car

Source: AP

Authorities say a Tesla sedan in Autopilot mode has crashed into a parked police cruiser in Southern California.

Police Sgt. Jim Cota says the officer was not in the cruiser during the crash Tuesday in Laguna Beach. He says the Tesla driver suffered minor injuries.

The police SUV ended up with its two passenger-side wheels on a sidewalk.

Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot mode has come under scrutiny following other recent crashes. The carmaker says the function is not designed to avoid a collision and warns drivers not to rely on it entirely.

Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/tesla-in-autopilot-mode-crashes-into-california-police-car/ar-AAxZYLB?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Scene of the accident in Laguna Beach. The Laguna Canyon Road is a heavily transited, two-lane road - such that the crash could have easily been a fatal head-on.
May 29, 2018

Argentine finance minister profited from dollar futures trading amid recent devaluation

Documents provided by Argentina's National Securities Commission (CNV) show that Finance Minister Luis Caputo profited by at least $700,000 during the recent fall in the value of the peso, which has tumbled from 17.50 to 25 per dollar since December.

The gains were made through three dollar futures transactions through Caputo's investment fund, Axis.

Axis, founded in 2012, was discovered last year to have received at least $30 million in investments by the nation's social security agency (ANSES).

Caputo, 53, was listed in the Paradise Papers leaks last November as controlling at least three undeclared offshore funds. The offshore funds, established in 2009, were omitted from Caputo's financial disclosure when he was named finance secretary in 2015.

Back to the futures

This is not the first time Caputo and others in President Mauricio Macri's right-wing administration has been embroiled in a dollar futures scandal.

Numerous Macri officials and relatives were discovered in March 2016 to have purchased millions of dollars in the same futures contracts ahead of Macri's 40% devaluation on December 17, 2015.

While the devaluation led to 45% inflation by mid-2016 and a severe recession, Caputo's Axis fund made $50 million from betting on the move - a devaluation Caputo himself organized as finance secretary.

Macri responded to the scandal by having a closely allied federal judge, Claudio Bonadío, charge former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and other officials in her 2007-15 administration for having issued dollar futures in the first place.

The charges backfired when during subsequent testimony Mrs. Kirchner provided proof that the Macri family and several administration officials had personally profited from Macri's own devaluation, at a reported cost to the central bank of $4 billion in futures losses.

Central Bank President Federico Sturzenegger admitted on May 22 that the central bank had again issued dollar futures contracts in order to mitigate the recent run on the peso, which forced the central bank to sell $7.7 billion from its reserves and to request a $30 billion stand-by credit line from the IMF.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Fexclusivo-la-firma-que-fundo-caputo-gano-millones-el-dolar-futuro-macri-n44172&edit-text=

Argentine Finance Minister Luis Caputo: "If I'm guilty I'll eat this phone and throw myself through the window."
May 28, 2018

With its new embassy in Jerusalem, Bibi will ignore Paraguay's Nazi past

Taking a cue from the Trump administration, Paraguay was the third country to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last week.

Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and outgoing Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes spoke at the ceremony, in which they both delivered speeches rife with historical distortions.

Israel has a record of 51 years of occupying the Palestinian territories, as well as discrimination against and oppressing its Palestinian citizens - while Paraguay has a record of dictatorships.

The country’s last dictator, General Alfredo Stroessner, ran the country as a police state for 35 years until 1989, and was responsible for the torture of tens of thousands of citizens, and disappeared hundreds of others. Women and girls who were arrested were sexually tortured and raped.

Just as Netanyahu and his associates have been subpoenaed over corruption allegations, Cartes is also suspected of corruption, fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and even drug trafficking.

And Netanyahu omitted a number of incontrovertible facts.

In 1927, the first Nazi party outside of Germany was established in Paraguay. During World War II, much of the country’s elite, including Stroessner, supported the Axis Powers. With the end of the war, Paraguay became one of a few countries that served as an asylum for Nazi war criminals. These include Dr. Josef Mengele; Eduard Roschmann; and Hans-Ulrich Rudel, who became an arms dealer in Paraguay, helped harbor Nazis across Latin America, and became one of Stroessner’s close personal friends.

Israel and Paraguay do not have a history of close relations. When Paraguay took a temporary seat at the UN Security Council in 1968, the main role of the first Israeli ambassador, Benjamin Varon, was to convince Stroessner to refrain from or oppose voting against Israel and its occupation of Syrian, Egyptian, and Palestinian territories.

In turn, Varon had to refrain from criticizing Paraguay for accepting Nazis. In his autobiography, he describes how the Israeli Foreign Ministry ignored his reports on information he had on Mengele; and how those offering intelligence on Nazis in Paraguay were told that this was the responsibility of the German government, not Israel’s.

Israel’s relationship to Paraguay, and the respective crimes committed by both countries over the past 70 years, are no reason for celebration. As long as Netanyahu remains in power, the chances for soul-searching and change are small.

At: https://972mag.com/with-its-new-embassy-in-jerusalem-bibi-will-ignore-paraguays-nazi-past/135778/

A marriage of convenience, Cartes and Netanyahoo entertain the press at the opening of Paraguay's new embassy in Jerusalem last week.
May 25, 2018

Science teacher credited with stopping Indiana school shooting, according to students

Source: News 5 Cleveland

The mother of the teacher credited with helping to stop a school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School says her son, Jason Seaman, was shot three times.

Seaman is a science teacher at the school.

A juvenile was also believed to have been shot. A second student was being treated for an ankle fracture, according to Riverview Health.

As of 11:30 a.m., police said they had the suspected shooter, a student at the school, in custody. The suspect has not been identified by police.

Read more: https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/national/science-teacher-credited-with-stopping-indiana-school-shooting-according-to-students

Indianapolis Middle School science teacher Jason Seaman and friend. Seaman was shot three times.
May 25, 2018

Mariano Rajoy's party hit with prison sentences over corruption

Source: The National

Sentences totalling more than 350 years have been handed down by Spain’s National Court in a long-running corruption case at the centre of which is Mariano Rajoy’s ruling People’s Party (PP).

Former party treasurer Luis Bárcenas was sentenced to 33 years in jail and fined €44 million ($47 million) and the PP itself around €250,000 ($293,000) for benefiting from kickbacks given in exchange for awarding contracts to a network of business people.

Businessman Francisco Correa, the scheme’s ringleader, was jailed for 51 years and Pablo Crespo, another businessman, for 37 years for his part in what was known as the “Gürtel” plot - named after the German translation for belt, for which the Spanish word is correa.

The case saw Rajoy give evidence in July, the first time a serving prime minister has appeared in court while holding office since Spain’s transition to democracy four decades ago.

Read more: http://www.thenational.scot/news/16247629.Spanish_PM_s_party_hit_with_prison_sentences_over_corruption/

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and proof of kickbacks in his name.

Former hardline IMF head Rodrigo Rato, currently in prison, is also listed.
May 25, 2018

Brazil truck strike enters fourth day

Brazil’s nationwide trucking strike entered its fourth day Thursday, disrupting the country’s already weak economy and threatening to leave many gas stations and some airports around the country without fuel supplies.

Truckers and other transport workers are striking because Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company, has increased diesel prices — by over 40% — in the last six months, at the same time that the right-wing Michel Temer administration has substantially hiked fuel taxes.

The strike began Monday morning, with the Brazilian Association of Truckers demanding the government cut the tax on diesel fuel in the face of a recent price spike the union called “unsustainable.”

Brazil lacks a big railroad network, making its economy highly dependent on road transportation. The strike already has caused logistics problems around the country, leading McDonald’s to release a statement that a small number of its restaurants might run out of certain menu items.

Brazil is an agricultural powerhouse, and most of its farm produce is moved to market by trucks. Because of the strike, some dairies have had to dump milk down drains as storage has overflowed, while cattle ranchers and chicken and pig farmers say they aren’t receiving enough feed for their livestock - potentially threatening the country’s food supply.

“When truckers go on strike, the economy grinds to a halt,” said Carlos Melo, a professor at São Paulo’s Insper business school.

The strike also puts Brazil’s tenuous recovery, following a two-year recession, at risk as the supply disruptions ripple through the economy. The work stoppage has spread to at least 20 of Brazil’s 26 states and the Federal District.

At: https://www.wsj.com/articles/brazil-truck-strike-enters-fourth-day-1527182315

Brazilian truckers strike over a 40% hike in diesel prices by the Temer regime.

Appointed by a parliamentary coup in 2016, Temer has recently announced he's not running in elections this October.
May 24, 2018

Shut up, investors told, as Argentina unleashes crisis crackdown

Early on the evening of Friday, May 11, Argentina’s most-powerful corporate executives rushed over to the official residence of President Mauricio Macri north of Buenos Aires.

The peso had just plummeted 6% against the dollar for a second straight week, and the small group - which included a billionaire, a real-estate mogul, and the local head of Fiat - had been summoned to discuss the steps being taken to combat what had quickly turned into a crisis.

Macri, after all, was an ex-businessman himself. He understood their concerns and would soothe their frayed nerves.

It didn’t turn out that way.

Within minutes, a heated exchange broke out that left a frosty tension between the two sides which has only deepened in the days since. The problems began, according to three people present that evening, when some of the CEOs spoke up to express concern over the central bank’s decision to boost benchmark rates to 40%.

They were immediately silenced by two Macri aides: Deputy Cabinet Minister Gustavo Lopetegui and Industry Minister Francisco Cabrera.

Don’t worry about rates, they insisted. Focus instead, they said, on expressing support for the government at a difficult time; that’s why the meeting had been called.

The message had been sent: Toe the line or keep quiet.

From market darling to IMF bailout

Early in Macri’s term, having finally put its epic 2001 default behind it, Argentina was the darling of the bond market once again. It sold more than $40 billion worth of securities, including a rare 100-year bond last year.

But in 2017 budget and current account deficits rose to a record $38 billion and $31 billion, respectively, and inflation over the last six months is now at an annualized 31%.

A record trade deficit of $8.5 billion last year is up 165% so far this year.

When yields suddenly climbed in the U.S., investors got nervous and started yanking money out of the country, forcing Argentina's central bank to sell $7.7 billion from its reserves and to request a $30 billion stand-by credit line from the IMF.

The peso has sunk 24% this year to a record low of 25 per dollar - the worst of all emerging markets.

At: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-21/shut-up-investors-told-as-argentina-unleashes-crisis-crackdown

Macri and Argentine business leaders in happier days.

Record trade deficits, massive utility rate hikes, and a 40% prime rate have since fouled consumer and business sentiment.
May 22, 2018

Echoing 2001 crisis, Argentina's Macri appoints "superminister"

Following a turbulent month in local markets, Argentine President Mauricio Macri ordered the promotion of Economy Minister Nicolás Dujovne to a “superminister” with coordinating powers over nine of the nation's 20 cabinet ministries.

The move comes after a run on the peso forced the central bank to sell off $7.7 billion from its reserves from April 23 to May 15, during which the peso nevertheless tumbled from 20 to 25 to the dollar.

While the peso has since stabilized, the panic forced Argentina's Central Bank to raise its discount rate from 27% to 40%, borrow $2 billion from the Bank for International Settlements, $2 billion from the New York-based vulture fund BlackRock, as well as request a stand-by credit line from the IMF for a whopping $30 billion.

Dujovne, 51, is media-savvy but controversial. He became one of several Macri officials listed in a tax “whitewash” scandal when it was revealed in April that he had obtained amnesty in 2016 for $1.3 million in undeclared income kept offshore.

His promotion is also seen as a signal to U.S. President Donald Trump, whose son Eric hired the minister's father, architect Berardo Dujovne, in 2012 to design Trump Tower Punta del Este, a luxury condominium building in neighboring Uruguay.

Deficit hawk

Dujovne has nevertheless moved quickly to reduce record fiscal deficits by cancelling further tax cuts to the influential soy export sector. Further cuts to subsidies and public works have also been announced.

Corporate tax cuts and rising interest payments on high-yield LEBAC notes have pushed budget deficits under Macri to a record $38 billion, while removing protectionist measures has doubled current account deficits to $31 billion.

The public debt has meanwhile grown by a third in two years, to $320 billion - of which over half is now foreign debt.

Opposition lawmakers have slammed the proposed austerity measures, noting that subsidy cuts have already led to utility hikes of up to 1700%. The lower house passed a bill on May 9 freezing utility rates at their December 2017 levels - legislation Macri has threatened to veto should it pass the senate.

Back to the future

The IMF stand-by and the naming of a superminister recall the country's 2001 crisis, after '90s era privatizer Domingo Cavallo was given the same title in an effort to calm markets.

Cavallo's appointment, as well as a $38 billion “bulletproof” IMF stand-by similar to the one now being sought, were instead interpreted as crisis moves, and by December 2001 Argentina defaulted on a then-record $83 billion in sovereign debt.

The economy later recovered under the populist Néstor and Cristina Kirchner administrations from 2003 to 2015, though growth sputtered after exchange controls were imposed in 2012 in an effort to curb current account deficits.

Cavallo, who is reportedly back as an informal adviser, criticized Macri last week for rescinding the exchange controls without first tackling inflation, currently running at 31% on an annualized basis.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eltelegrafo.com.ec%2Fnoticias%2Fmundo%2F8%2Fargentina-nicolas-dujovne-ministro-ajuste-fmi&edit-text=

Macri's new “superminister” Nicolás Dujovne: In search of market confidence.
May 21, 2018

Man reports being followed by pig in North Ridgeville, OH

Police in this Lorain County community thought they had a drunk on their hands when a man called to report a pig following him home from a train station.

A North Ridgeville officer arrived on the scene early Saturday to find the man was very sober and a pig was in fact following him.

The officer managed to get the pig in his patrol car and transported it to the station. It was eventually reunited with its owner.

Writing on Facebook, police mentioned "the irony of the pig in a police car now so that anyone that thinks they're funny is actually unoriginal and trying too hard."

At: https://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2018/05/man_reports_being_followed_by.html

Aww. The poor thing was probably hungry.
May 21, 2018

Pope Francis tells gay man: 'God made you like this'

A survivor of clerical sexual abuse has said Pope Francis told him that God had made him gay and loved him, in arguably the most strikingly accepting comments about homosexuality to be uttered by the leader of the Roman Catholic church.

Juan Carlos Cruz, who spoke privately with the pope last week about the abuse he suffered at the hands of one of Chile’s most notorious paedophiles, said the issue of his sexuality had arisen because some of the Latin American country’s bishops had sought to depict him as a pervert as they accused him of lying about the abuse.

“He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are,’” Cruz told Spanish newspaper El País.

Now 87, Fernando Karadima, the man who abused Cruz, was found guilty of abuse by the Vatican in 2011.

At: https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/pope-francis-tells-gay-man-god-made-you-like-this/ar-AAxyXr3

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