Friday, October 31, 2014

Argentina/China: Seemingly, Any Deal Between Two Parties is Apparently Negotiable

According to The Latin American Tribune, the Central Banks of Argentina and China on Thursday (October 30) activated a bilateral currency-swap agreement, with the South American country submitting a request for an initial tranche of yuan equivalent to $814 million.

The Central Bank of Argentina said in a statement that the People’s Bank of China authorized that first installment in keeping with an agreement signed in July by the two monetary authorities.

“This instrument will help stabilize bilateral trade balances. At the same time, this Central Bank has authorized an equivalent amount in pesos in favor of the People’s Bank of China,” the statement added.

The Central Bank of Argentina said the yuan “is on a path to becoming one of the major global reserve currencies.”

Yuan “can be freely converted into dollars, euros, or any other reserve currency” in Hong Kong, London or Singapore, the monetary authority noted.

COMMENT: Negotiator-guru Herb Cohen once said, “Any deal agreeable by two parties is always negotiable.”

Seemingly, there are no exceptions where foreign currency conversion is concerned as evidenced by the Argentine-Chinese deal that renders virtually everything “negotiable.”

Of course, what is unknown is what Argentina is actually paying for such a sweetheart deal?

As part of the three-year agreement, aimed at boosting the South American country’s dwindling foreign-currency reserves, Argentina’s Central Bank may request additional swaps up to a maximum of $11 billion, “which represent support for the implementation of its financial, exchange-rate and monetary policies.”

In 2009, Argentina and China signed a similar three-year agreement for currency swaps of up to $10.2 billion.

Italy: German Tourist, Daughter Victimized by Licensed Airport Taxi Driver

According to, a German tourist and her 20-year-old daughter were robbed after taking a taxi from Rome's Fiumicino Airport, Roma Today reported.

The travelers agreed to pay €60 (US$75.60) for the ride to Rome’s Via Veneto, despite an established tariff being €48 (US$60.52).

Upon arrival at the airport, the travelers were summarily informed that there was an extra fee for their two bags and refused to give change from a €100 note (US$126.08).

The scene unfolded on the road outside the hotel, as the taxi driver chose not to pull up to the hotel doors.

The driver unloaded one of the bags, but suddenly got into his taxi sped off, running a red light simultaneously.

COMMENT: Increasingly, the integrity of taxi drivers worldwide is slowly unraveling to the point that I rarely hail or order conventional taxis anymore.

You can go never go wrong by having three cardinal rules:

1. NEVER use run-of-the-mill taxis;

2. Always negotiate ALL FEES in advance, including luggage fees, tolls, etc.; and

3. INSIST in using hotel-operated taxis. Although more expensive, complaints from drivers will be ZERO unless you fail to tip them 20%.

According to the German tourists, the stolen bag contained clothing worth around €5,000 (US$6,304), plus a watch of equal value, ROMA TODAY reported.

While hotel surveillance cameras did not capture the theft, CCTV footage depicted the moment the two tourists stepped into the taxi at Fiumicino airport.

As a result, investigators were able to trace the driver, a 44-year-old man from nearby Ostia.

When called in by police, the driver confessed to the crime and the bag was returned to the Germans. 

The driver is now facing charges of theft and for scamming the tourists out of €100 for the journey, the media source said.

México: Again, 43 Missing Student Teachers Evolving into National Disgrace

According to The Latin American Tribune, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has given a positive response to the proposal of a second meeting with the families of 43 students who disappeared in the southern state of Guerrero, presidential spokesperson Eduardo Sánchez said.

It would be the second such meeting after one on Wednesday (October 29) when some 70 students and family members of the victims met with Peña Nieto at the presidential residence.

“Those who were there asked the president for a second meeting next week and the president said “of course that there will be a second meeting” and without setting a date, proposed that it will happen when new information is available,” Sánchez said Thursday (October 30).

COMMENT: As with most national leaders, the Mexican president seemingly has been outraged by Texas Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) efforts to prevent illegal aliens from entering Texas. Strange.

Yet, seemingly the Mexican president somehow finds it perfectly acceptable that tens of thousands of illegals stream into the US with the tacit approval of US president Barack Obama.

Criminal Investigation Agency chief, Thomas Zerón, said that in the 25 days that the Attorney General has taken charge of the investigation into the case, extensive ground searches had been conducted in Guerrero, along with 143 reconnaissance flights and more than 20,000 flyers have been distributed.

Notwithstanding, divers and speleologists had joined the search that includes nine helicopters, five aircraft, eight boats, eight ambulances, four laboratories and even the use of Mexican satellites.

Despite this formidable deployment of resources, it is interesting to point out that the six individuals that the Mexican government seemingly cannot find is the Iguala former mayor and his wife, who reportedly led the corruption scandal as well as a handful of cartel members, all of whom are fugitives from justice.

It is noteworthy to point out that the President’s spokesman has not yet commented on the Thursday (October 30) meeting in Washington, DC insofar as the IACHR meeting is concerned nor has Peña Nieto commented on efforts thus far to take into custody the Iguala mayor and his wife, the latter of whom reportedly was a leader in the couple’s corruption scandal.

Most interesting is the Mexican president going out of his way to quantify México’s exhaustive efforts to find the 43 missing students. Yet, interestingly the entirety of the Mexican government is seemingly incapable of producing cartel members or the former mayor of Iguala and his wife, the latter of whom was a key leader in the state-level corruption scandal.

The 43 students went missing on September 26 after an altercation with local police in Guerrero’s town of Iguala, in which six people were shot and killed and another 25 wounded.

Such a reality occurring in a climate of significant law enforcement illegal overreach and scandalous behavior by the leadership of a small town mayor and his culpable wife is unforgivable.

Following the violence, witnesses said the students were led away by police and they have not been seen since.

Zerón said that a permanent team had been established involving all federal agencies gathering intelligence around the clock to support the search parties in Guerrero and other sites, made up of students, family and federal forces.

He said that there have been 56 arrests, most of them police officers from the towns of Iguala and Cocula and members of a local crime cartel, including its leader, Sidronio Casarrubias.

Yet, in a country known worldwide for its extraordinary police abuses, none of those arrested can provide even one useful piece of evidence to make arrests?

Twenty-six arrest warrants have also been issued, including that of former Iguala Mayor, José Luís Abarca and his reportedly culpable wife, yet no one is talking?

Zerón also noted that 38 bodies that have been recovered from clandestine graves which were transferred to prosecution facilities for forensic analysis.

Please consider the significance of such a statement? The Mexican government has admitted that 38 bodies have found that belong to families that loved them…and this is viewed as “normal”?

Why have the Mexicans asked Buenos Aires for criminalistics expertise, when superior expertise is readily available in Europe, the US, Japan and other credible nations?

Ukraine, Russia, NATO: EU's Merkel, Hollande Unified Against Illegal Polling in Eastern Ukraine

According to Reuters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone that Sunday's planned elections in eastern Ukraine were illegitimate and would not be recognized by European leaders, a Berlin government spokesman said on Friday (October 31).
Merkel and Putin held a joint telephone conversation with French President François Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Merkel's spokesman Georg Streiter said at a government news conference.
He said in the call there were diverging opinions on Sunday's "so-called elections" in the self-proclaimed people's republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
COMMENT: "Merkel and Hollande underlined that there can only be a ballot in line with Ukrainian law," he said, adding that the vote would violate the Minsk agreement and further complicate efforts to find a solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
"The German government will not recognize these illegitimate elections," Merkel's spokesman said, adding that European leaders were united on this issue and had agreed on this at a summit last week in Brussels.
However, all four leaders welcomed the latest agreement between Russia and Ukraine on gas supplies, the spokesman said. Everybody agreed that both sides should put an end to violence in eastern Ukraine and implement the agreed upon, but cease-fire which exists in name only.
Over 3,700 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow rebels seek union with Russia. A ceasefire has been in force since September. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

México: Protesters, IACHR Express Concern, Political Impact in Washington, DC

According to EFE, a group of protesters demanding justice for the 43 education students who disappeared last month in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero jeered and chanted slogans Thursday (October 30) at México’s delegation to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, DC.

The demonstrators chanted “criminals, murderers!” at Mexican officials in the US capital to explain the Mexican government’s position at the body’s 153rd session.

“It is obvious that the Mexican government has provided an official version that is not true. We are here today to break that official version,” Salvador Sarmiento, a spokesman for the protesters, said.

Sarmiento invited rights activists to attend one of the five sessions on México being held by the IACHR.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met on Wednesday with relatives of the 43 education students who went missing last month in the city of Iguala and later offered in a nationwide address to dramatically increase the search for the families of the disappeared.

The students disappeared on September 26 during a series of violent incidents in the city blamed on municipal police and drug traffickers.

COMMENT: Neither the Office of the Presidency nor the Guerrero state government are in a position of strength at this time, considering federal officials should have been privy to corruption in high office within their own government with few knowledgeable officials in a position of knowing how and where the 43 students disappeared approaching a month ago.

Worse, the federal government is seemingly ill-prepared to produce cartel members or the former mayor of Iguala and his wife, who reportedly was a key leader in the state-level corruption scandal.

The case of the missing students is expected to come up at the first IACHR session requested by the Mexican government to explain its national human rights program.

Discussing “the National Human Rights Program will not solve anything,” Jacqueline Saenz, a member of the Fundar human rights group, told EFE.

Deputy Foreign Relations Secretary Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo told EFE that Mexico’s government and representatives of the missing students’ families would seek to reach an agreement with the IACHR to form a panel of experts to help find the 43 students who have disappeared.

Municipal police fired at students on the night of September 26 at the behest of then-Iguala Mayor José Luís Abarca, and his wife, María de los Angeles Pineda, both of whom are now fugitives from justice as well as key members of the Guerrerros Unidos drug cartel who are also fugitives.

Six people died on September 26, including three trainee teachers; 25 who were wounded; and 43 others who were detained by police and turned over to a Guerreros Unidos lieutenant identified only as “Gil.”