Monday, March 28, 2016

Obama in South America

I cut short his trip to Africa, but....

"The Obama administration is eager to make rapid progress on building trade and diplomatic ties with Cuba before the president leaves office. The coming weeks are seen as particularly crucial to building momentum ahead of a trip he hopes to make to Havana by the end of March."

It's by corporate order, and I've noticed it hasn't come with the incessant complaints regarding every move made by Iran after that "deal."

Obama plans historic trip to Cuba

Look who greeted him at the airport:

"Vietnam vet loses suit against VA to get benefits in Cuba" Associated Press  February 17, 2016

HAVANA — A Cuban-American veteran of the Vietnam War lost his lawsuit Wednesday seeking to force the US government to restore the pension that was cut off when he moved back to Cuba.

Otto Macias was 19 when he left Cuba, enlisted in the US Army, and served as a machine-gunner in Vietnam. As he stayed with family in Havana in 1980, he required hospitalization for a mental breakdown and never returned to the United States.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs then ended his pension. Lawyer Jason Flores-Williams said that was because of the Unite States’ trade embargo on Cuba.

On Wednesday, a US Court of Appeals judge denied Macias’s suit seeking the restoration of the pension. The ruling said Macias failed to show he had pursued his case with the secretary of veterans affairs before asking the courts to intervene.

Macias lives with his brother in a modest apartment in a high-rise in east Havana. He is psychologically stable after years of treatment but suffering from skin cancer and has said he would like to return to the United States to visit if he was able.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has declined to comment on the case."

Strange case, but it once again shows you the callousness of the AmeriKan war machine when it comes to its fodder, and blows apart the ma$$ media war spin regarding heroes and such. 

This guy escapes from Cuba during the odious Fidel era, serves in Vietnam fer crying' out loud, a Gulf of Tonkin lie of the worst sort, and then suffers PTSD while he's in Cuba so they cut him loose. 


Now if you will excuse me, I need to go phony up some appointments that were never given (and vets died waiting) so I can get a promotion and pad my six-figure VA salary.

"Cheered in Havana, Obama’s Cuba trip spurs GOP skepticism" by Josh Lederman Associated Press  February 18, 2016 

I knew someone would join in the boos.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s plans for a history-making trip to Cuba drew hopeful cheers in Havana on Thursday but equally emphatic condemnation from many U.S. lawmakers and Republican presidential candidates, who accused the president of rewarding a ‘‘dictatorial regime.’’

Jeb Bush called the plans ‘‘appalling.’’


Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, born in Havana, deemed Obama’s March 21-22 visit ‘‘absolutely shameful.’’ New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez — a member of Obama’s party — accused him of ceding U.S. leverage to the communist nation 90 miles south of Florida.

‘‘The president is again prioritizing short-term economic interests over long-term and enduring American values,’’ said Menendez, another Cuban-American. He likened Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba to his nuclear deal with Iran.

Not quite, Bob, although they entered into the Iran accord for the $ame rea$ons.

Not so, said Obama, who pledged to press President Raul Castro on human rights and other thorny issues during their sit-down in the Cuban capital. The White House said pointedly that it had put Castro’s government on notice that Obama would also meet with dissidents and activists —a precondition the president had laid out for a visit.

Okay! I'm sure they have gotten the message after 55+ years!

‘‘We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly,’’ Obama said as he announced the visit on Twitter.

The trip will mark a watershed moment in U.S.-Cuba relations, making Obama the first sitting U.S. president to set foot on the island in nearly seven decades. The U.S. was estranged from the communist nation for over half a century until Obama and Castro moved toward detente more than a year ago.

That's about the same time I shed interest in this public relations piece.

Since then, the nations have reopened embassies in Washington and Havana and moved to restore commercial flights, with a presidential visit seen as a key next step.

Yosvany Martinez, a 36-year-old government parking attendant in Havana, said he’d seen changes in his country since the thaw in relations: more tourism and happier people. But Cubans are still struggling economically, he said.

‘‘This visit for me and for all Cubans will be an open door to what we need, which is that they finally lift the blockade, which is what hurts us,’’ Martinez said.

Obama hopes to persuade Congress to lift the trade embargo — Havana’s biggest request of the U.S. Although short-term prospects have seemed unlikely, some Republicans have suggested Congress could pass legislation repealing sanctions by year’s end.

Cuban Foreign Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca, in Washington for business talks, told The Associated Press that Obama’s visit will be good news for his country.

‘‘The president will be welcomed,’’ he said in Spanish.

Though Obama sees the re-launch with Cuba as a major achievement of his foreign policy, he’s had to strike a careful balance to defend engaging with a communist government that still is seen as stifling political opposition and restricting free speech. 

It failed with Russia -- another reason for the rapprochement. Keep those Russians (and Chinese) from establishing a military outpost in our hemisphere!

The White House pointed to Cuba’s recent release of long-term political prisoners, expansion of Internet hotspots and easing of restrictions on private business. On the economic front, the two nations signed a deal this week on commercial air traffic, and the U.S. approved its first factory in Cuba since 1959, when Fidel Castro took power and nationalized billions in American property.

Still, Obama’s advisers said the U.S. isn’t satisfied with Cuba’s human rights approach, citing a rise in short-term detentions as one example.

Oh, I don't know if the U.S. ought to be making that argument considering the camp they have by the bay.

Obama has argued that the long U.S. effort to put an economic squeeze on Cuba has failed to advance U.S. interests. Engaging the former Cold War foe offers better prospects for reform, Obama and supporters of the policy change maintain.

Meaning it WAS NEVER ABOUT all the human rights blah-blah!

‘‘For Cubans accustomed to watching their government sputter down the last mile of socialism in a ‘57 Chevy, imagine what they’ll think when they see Air Force One,’’ said Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican and one of Obama’s closest allies on Cuba. Last year Flake traveled to Havana with Secretary of State John Kerry as the American flag was raised over the re-opened U.S. Embassy.

They will be thinking I'm glad I have decent health care and can read, unlike so many Yanquis up north? 

I mean, we got a $puttering government on its way to totalitarianism, too!

Castro’s government offered no details about preparations, though it typically marshals thousands of police and soldiers for any major state visit to maintain control and order on the streets.

And prevent something ill befalling the visiting dignitary, right? 

Like, you know, steps U.S. security services would take.

The logistics will require some creativity as the White House sends the president and his massive entourage into a country with sketchy Internet and limited connectivity for U.S. cellphones.

Interesting, what with his position on greenhouse gases and all. 

And not to ruin the histrionics, but how much is this costing the out-of-money U.S. taxpayers?

From Cuba, Obama will travel to Argentina, where he’ll meet with new President Mauricio Macri.

More on Macri below.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father came to the U.S. from Cuba, said Obama shouldn’t visit while the Castro family remains in power. Told of Obama’s trip, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio quipped that Obama is ‘‘probably not going to invite me.’’

Both Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, support moving toward normalizing relations and lifting the trade embargo. 

I'm always for that stuff over wars.

The last sitting president to visit Havana was Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Former President Jimmy Carter visited in 2011.


"Culture gap impedes US business efforts for trade with Cuba" by Victoria Burnett New York Times  March 12, 2016

MEXICO CITY — They have gone to Cuba with plans to build houses. To assemble tractors. To buy apps from young programmers. Even to import charcoal made from the sicklebush that grows in vast stretches across the island.

But 15 months after American prospectors began swarming Havana, filling hotels and hiring consultants, only a handful have inked deals to do business with the once-forbidden island.

As President Barack Obama prepares to visit Cuba this month, the lack of trade with the former foe threatens to sap momentum from the process of building relations. It is also a reminder that beyond tourism — which satisfies Cuba’s need for foreign currency and the desire of Americans to visit the island — the countries have very different visions of economic engagement.

“The litmus test of normalization is trade and investment,” said Robert Muse, a Washington lawyer who specializes in Cuba-related law. “That’s how the Obama legacy will be judged.”

Eager to show results, the Obama administration in late January made the biggest breach yet in the embargo by permitting Americans to trade with state-owned companies, which control much of Cuba’s commerce and are run, mostly, by the military.

You mean like here?

The new regulations mean that exporters can apply for a license to sell goods to state entities in sectors that include education, food processing and infrastructure, making them “the most significant” change since Obama announced a thaw with Cuba in December 2014, said Stephen Propst, a partner at the Hogan Lovells law firm in Washington.

The move was a concession to reality: Efforts at opening commerce had, until then, targeted everyday Cubans. But with the island’s trade apparatus controlled by the state, trying to sell American cement to Cuban homeowners or stoves to privately owned restaurants is impractical and of little interest to the Cuban government. 

And when corporations control the $tate? (whiff of fa$ci$m)

Cuba has made it clear that it will not alter the way it does business to suit U.S. needs.

Not with the Europeans and others pouring on in for years now. 

A stinging editorial published Wednesday in Granma, the official Communist Party organ, said that Obama could do even more to ease trade and that, for Cuba, “getting along does not mean having to give up our beliefs.”

Cuban officials are “overwhelmed” by the number of American delegations, said Philip Peters, a partner at D17 Strategies, a consultancy in Washington, who travels frequently to Cuba. And, he said, they are “not going to rewrite the rule book” for U.S. entrepreneurs.

That rule book is restrictive. The Cuban government usually insists on holding a majority stake in any joint venture outside the new development zone at the port of Mariel, near Havana, where foreign companies can wholly own ventures and receive a 10-year tax holiday.

Still, some U.S. businesses have prospered. Airbnb began operating in Cuba in April; Sprint now has a roaming agreement with the Cuban state telecommunications company, Etecsa. Cleber, an Alabama company, received a license in February from the Treasury Department — and has an agreement with the Cuban government — to assemble simple tractors in Cuba to sell to private farmers and cooperatives. Florida Produce, a grocer in Tampa, Florida, has a license from the Treasury to open a distribution warehouse in Cuba and is in talks with the Cuban authorities.

You find a room yet?

But threading the needle between Cuba’s rigid rules and the restrictions that the United States continues to impose is tricky....

Look what the web stitched on:

The most important change that U.S. regulators could make — and that many expect will be made before Obama’s trip — is to lift a ban on using dollars in transactions with Cuba, lawyers and consultants said. The ban means that legitimate trade with Cuba has to be financed through complicated, three-way operations or simply does not happen because no bank wants to handle it.


This is about GETTING CUBA on the BUCK to PROP UP that POS PAPER!

Lifting that restriction would “take many of the excuses away from Cuba” for holding up business deals, said John S. Kavulich, the president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.

Muse predicted that the Obama administration would continue to relax restrictions during its remaining months, regardless of how Cuba responds.

The notion of the process as quid quo pro is false, he said, adding, “You cannot deal in conditionalities with the Cubans.”

Isn't that racist of him?


Related: White House eases more restrictions on travel to Cuba as President Obama prepares to make a trip to Havana next week.

He's going to take the measure of them.

"Isolating Cuba has created a useless artifact from the Cold War. The embargo has been effectively used by the Cuban government to maintain a self-serving narrative: blame the US for everything. It was time to try something different and Obama delivered boldly. To allow business to flow, slowly but surely, is the best bet for bringing about positive change in Cuba. “Economic exchange can be a potent political force,” said Richard Feinberg, a former senior Clinton administration official and expert on Cuban economic reform, at a recent hearing before Congress on the opportunities of trade with Cuba. “This makes more likely the advancement of fundamental US interests.” Cubans on the island seem to agree, and are hoping that the renewed relations won’t be dissolved by a new administration. Indeed, the next president would be wise to embrace Cuba, which, if Obama is right, will evolve into a good neighbor rather than a thorn in the side."

Who is Richard Feinberg

Is it also good enough for Palestinians?

"Obama hopes Cuba visit can be harbinger of political change" by Julie Hirschfeld Davis New York Times  March 19, 2016

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s trip, rich with symbolic significance, represents the start of a new era of engagement between the United States and Cuba that could open the floodgates of travel and commerce, and that has already unlocked diplomatic channels long slammed shut, but the president is determined to sweep aside disputes and do as much as he can to render irreversible the policy change he set in motion 15 months ago, buoyed by evidence that the American public was eager for a new approach.

Have been for years.

Obama and his aides point to public opinion polls that show Americans — including majorities in both political parties — lopsidedly in favor of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, a step the administration took in July, as well as lifting the embargo.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, has endorsed repealing the embargo. Donald Trump, who is leading the Republican field, has been muted in his criticism of Obama’s Cuba policy, and has merely said Obama “should have made a better deal.”

Critics, including some in Obama’s own party, have dismissed the president’s approach as naive and dangerous.

“I understand the desire to make this his legacy issue, but there is still a fundamental issue of freedom and democracy at stake,” Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., a son of Cuban immigrants, said in a 30-minute speech last week from the Senate floor. He mentioned a young dissident, Carlos Amel Oliva, who met in Miami this month with Benjamin J. Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser. Oliva was detained upon his return to Cuba for what the government called “antisocial behavior.”

“Unless the Castros are compelled to change their dictatorship — the way they govern the island and the way they exploit its people — the answer to this won’t be different than the last 50-some-odd years,” Menendez said. 

I don't want to get in the muck with him.

Rhodes said the president would address human rights head-on in his private talks with Castro as well as in his speech, which is expected to be broadcast in both Cuba and the United States.

“The difference here is that in the past, because of certain US policies, the message that was delivered in that regard either overtly or implicitly suggested that the US was seeking to pursue regime change, that the US was seeking to essentially overturn the government in Cuba or that the U.S. thought that we could dictate the political direction of Cuba,” Rhodes said.

Yeah, the torture on the other side of the island.

This time, he added, Obama “will make very clear that that’s up to the Cuban people.”

Always was!

There are limits to the new spirit of openness.

Somehow I knew this friend$hip bit was too good to be true.

The president will not meet with Fidel Castro, 89, who embodies the rancorous history between the United States and Cuba.

Translation: Obama doesn't want to have to apologize for all the assassination attempts and terrorist sabotage lo these 57 years.

I'm wondering if he did pass along his condolences though.

And as of Friday, there were no plans for Obama and Raúl Castro to take questions from the news media after their meeting, a standard element of the president’s schedule when he meets with foreign leaders overseas.

That a complaint?

At the heart of Obama’s policy is a gamble that the thaw will eventually force changes on Cuba’s communist government by nurturing the hopes of its citizens, particularly a younger generation more interested in Internet access and business opportunities than in Cuba’s history of grievances against the United States.

Look at them STILL TALKING REGIME CHANGE after all this!!

“Obama would like to be remembered as the president who ended the Cold War in Latin America and normalized relations with Cuba, so he needs to do as much as he can to make it difficult for the next president to reverse this,” said Geoff Thale, a Cuba specialist at the Washington Office on Latin America. 

Good God, it took U.S. butchers 25 frikkin' years after the fall of the Soviets to end the thing?

Maybe it was NEVER REALLY ABOUT THEM, huh? 


But suspicion of the United States remains potent in Cuba. Carlos M. Gutierrez, a Havana-born Republican who as secretary of commerce under President George W. Bush drafted a lengthy report in 2006 calling for an end to the “Castro-led axis” and the tightening of US sanctions against Cuba, said he now believed that Obama’s alternative had a better chance of bringing about change.

And you wonder why people remain "suspicious" of AmeriKa's intent?

Gutierrez, chairman of the Albright Stonebridge Group and the US-Cuba Business Council, will accompany Obama on the trip, along with several dozen members of Congress pressing for an end to the embargo and business leaders aiming to close deals in Cuba in the meantime.

That wouldn't be.... yeah, it is

There is your biparti$an$hip.

“The Cubans aren’t sure what the US intentions are — whether this is being done because it is a Trojan horse or a hidden regime-change policy,” Gutierrez said in an interview. “The president’s big challenge will be to make progress in chipping away at the tremendous distrust that remains between our two countries.”

Obama is planning a speech Tuesday on the future of U.S.-Cuba relations, and will also attend an exhibition baseball game between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays....

Where he gave the tragedy in Brussels all of 51 seconds before getting back to the game.


Time to wrap it up:

"The historic trip is affirmation of his foreign policy vision and could encourage a generational shift within the walls of one of America’s longest and most bitter adversaries."

That's the public relations narrative coming out of the thing.

Time to forget the pastlight a cigar, and start talking

Of course, what happens if the US doesn’t get its way

The play will continue, the band will play on (that hits a sour note with me), and it will be beginning again, right?

Did Gitmo (or the Cuban Five) ever come up? 

(I would have included them had I seen them)

So how is he getting to Argentina, by plane or ship?


"Argentina and US creditors reach deal in longstanding spat" by Peter Prengaman Associated Press  March 01, 2016

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina and a group of US holdout creditors unveiled a deal on Monday in a longstanding debt standoff, potentially breaking an impasse that has kept the South American country on the margins of international credit markets and has led to a rewriting of the terms of debt issuance and negotiations worldwide.

This is not $urpri$ing given the recent rigging down there.

The deal is a boost for President Mauricio Macri, who assumed power in December after campaigning on promises to modernize South America’s second-largest economy by solving the dispute and attracting foreign investment.

‘‘It gives me greatest pleasure to announce that the 15-year pitched battle between the Republic of Argentina and Elliott Management, led by Paul E. Singer, is now well on its way to being resolved,’’ arbiter Daniel A. Pollack said in a statement.

The war is over?

The agreement still must be approved by Argentina’s Congress, which would also need to revoke two laws that effectively ban such settlements. The ‘‘Lock Law’’ prevents Argentina from offering one group of creditors a better deal than others and the ‘‘Sovereign Payment Law,’’ passed in 2014, allowed Argentina to pay creditors with renegotiated debt in the face of a New York court order not to do so.

The 2014 law was passed at the behest of then-President Cristina Fernandez, who refused to negotiate with groups she called ‘‘vultures,’’ casting the fight as an American court trying to bully a sovereign nation.

Under the deal, Argentina would pay $4.653 billion to resolve all related claims, including those from Singer’s group in New York and other creditors around the world. The agreement would pay the funds managed by Elliot, Aurelius Capital, Davidson Kempner, and Bracebridge Capital about 75 percent of their judgments, the statement said."

Those are the ones circling around. 

Hard to believe Macri actually won the selection, 'er, you know. 

They use voting machines down there?

"Obama visit affirms Argentina’s shift toward center" by Jonathan Gilbert New York Times  March 24, 2016

BUENOS AIRES — The last time a US president visited Argentina, he got caught in the maw of a rising leftist movement in Latin America.

In 2005, when President George W. Bush sought to push through a free-trade agreement for the Americas, he was skewered by Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan leader, in a speech at a soccer stadium. Néstor Kirchner, the Argentine president, lectured Bush about regional policies promoted by the United States that had caused “misery and poverty.” And the free-trade accord was ditched.

A decade later the backdrop to President Obama’s visit, which began Wednesday, could not be more different. Chávez and Kirchner are dead, the momentum sapped from their leftist movement, and Argentina’s new center-right government is pursuing cozier ties with Washington.

At surprisingly early ages, too, God rest their souls. 

And who benefitted?

“This is a historic opportunity for a new relationship, a new chapter,” Marcos Peña, the chief of cabinet, said last week. 

Let's hope it is not a return to the old chapter.

Obama’s decision to come to Argentina now — straight after his visit to Cuba, where the Communist government is slowly opening to market forces — signals Washington’s backing for a shift to the center, foreign policy analysts say. He may also be seeking to firm up the United States’s position in the region, where China has been establishing a foothold.

“Obama is working like a sort of pendulum,” said Carlos Escudé, a foreign policy adviser to the government of President Carlos Saúl Menem in the 1990s. “He’s going to the Communist regime that is transforming itself, and then he’s coming to the new right-of-center regime.”

Obama’s trip is also a show of support for President Mauricio Macri, who took office in December and has made market-oriented policy changes as he seeks foreign investment to reinvigorate a sluggish economy.

Macri, the scion of a wealthy family and a former mayor of Buenos Aires, is also repositioning Argentina internationally, distancing the country from socialist Venezuela, courting global business leaders, and welcoming his counterparts from Europe and the United States.

I will be stopping there on this trip.

These moves reverse the strategy of his predecessor, Cristina Fernández. Her nationalist policies often hindered trade and investment, and she reveled in pitting herself against Argentina’s business establishment and the United States, preferring to cultivate ties with Russia and China.

Cry for Argentina, readers.

Obama lavished praise on Macri and said his visit was ‘‘so personally important,’’ even riffing on his boyhood interest in Argentinian literature and culture.

I think I'm going to be sick.

‘‘President Macri is a man in a hurry,’’ Obama said in Casa Rosada, the pink-hued presidential palace. “I’m impressed because he has moved rapidly on so many of the reforms that he promised.’’

Macri was equally effusive about Obama.

The exchange was a remarkable contrast to the relations between the two countries just a few months ago.

“If anything should befall me,” Fernández said in a 2014 speech criticizing a judge in New York who had scolded her government for its behavior in an international debt dispute, “look to the North.”

Fernández “committed the error of winning political ground domestically at the cost of losing ground internationally,” said Dante Caputo, a former foreign minister.

Did you see that? 

You serve your people and your nation as we were all taught and yer out!

Macri has made counter- narcotics a tenet of his administration.

So he is going to shut down the CIA smuggling rings, or was Fernandez doing that? 

That why they broke her leg?

Patricia Bullrich, the security minister, has already been in Washington to meet with officials from the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and agencies that investigate money laundering revived bilateral cooperation this week after relations had soured under Fernández.

In other areas, Macri moved to end the prolonged debt dispute by reaching an agreement with litigating hedge funds in New York, although the deal still requires approval from the Argentine Senate. He also wants to increase bilateral trade, which has stalled in recent years, and lure US investors to Argentina’s renewable energy sector.

Talks are underway, too, to ease restrictions on Argentines traveling to the United States. And last month, the United States stopped its policy of opposing loans to Argentina from the World Bank.

Make the economy scream. 

Oh, wait, that was Chile.

Many Argentines look favorably toward an era of renewed cooperation with the United States and accompanying market-oriented policies.

They have forgotten the pa$t, and have they seen the wealth inequality up here lately?

“We’ve been in a political cesspit,” said María de la Paz Fernández, 67, a janitor who immigrated here from Spain as a child. “People were so disillusioned. I hope this is for the good of the country.”

Well, we do have that in common anyway.


"Obama: US was slow to speak out for human rights in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’" by Peter Prengaman  |  Associated Press  March 24, 2016

To say the least; they were collaborative in the effort!

BUENOS AIRES — As many Argentines paused to remember loved ones killed during their country’s brutal dictatorship, President Obama said Thursday that America was slow to speak out for human rights during that painful period and promised an honest accounting going forward.

First of all, can't speak out about human rights now, not him. 

For my part, as an American citizen that neither approved or sanctioned such actions in my name, I profusely and wholeheartedly apologize even if my war-criminal government won't.

Obama’s comments, sure to reverberate in Argentina and beyond, came 40 years to the day that a 1976 coup opened a period of military rule in Argentina that continues to have repercussions.

Too bad I've tuned him out.

Obama paid tribute to the victims of Argentina’s ‘‘Dirty War’’ by visiting Remembrance Park and tossing a wreath into the Rio de La Plata river near a memorial bearing thousands of names.

‘‘We’ve been slow to speak out for human rights, and that was the case here,’’ said Obama, standing alongside Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri.

Obama said it takes courage for a society to address ‘‘uncomfortable truths’’ about its past, but that doing so is essential to moving forward.

(Blog editor shakes his head considering the massive amount of staged and scripted crisis events on his watch, as well as the uncomfortable truths surrounding the lies that led to wars going back more than a century.

Of course, he indirectly called me courageous. Thank you.)

Prominent human rights groups shunned an invitation to attend, arguing that the presence of an American president on such an important date was disrespectful to the thousands who died.

Nora Cortinas of the iconic Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo group called Obama ‘‘a representative of death.’’

‘‘What would victims say if they saw [us] hugging and paying homage to a president from a country responsible for state terrorism?’’ she told a local radio station hours before the event.

Oh, I'm crying for them out of love! 

You go girl!!

The anniversary is always a sensitive time for the nation of 41 million, as many families are still searching for the remains of loved ones who disappeared and are presumed dead.

Yeah, they get emotional down there (as opposed to you know, persecuted and victimized Zionists throughout the centuries; that kind of sensitivity is normal).

Even decades later, the dictatorship is a topic of national importance. It shapes mainstream political ideologies and spawns debates over whether the government should continue to try perpetrators so many years later or spend millions on searching for remains.

It leads to the rise of Trump!

Obama said his administration will endeavor to make amends by declassifying even more documents that could shed light on what role the United States may have played in one of the region’s most repressive dictatorships. The release probably will come after Obama leaves office next year.

Type in Operation Condor to search engine and see what comes up.

May have?

Thousands of State Department documents were declassified in 2002, but they don’t paint a full picture of what the United States knew or its possible role in the bloodshed.

They never do. That's why I no longer bother with limited hangouts.

The most suggestive document is a series of notes from a late 1976 meeting between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Argentina’s foreign minister.

‘‘If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly,’’ Kissinger said, according to a transcript, suggesting an implicit green-lighting of a clampdown on dissidents.

The new classification, which the Obama administration announced last week, will include military and intelligence papers for the first time. Human rights groups have long demanded those documents, and historians say they could include grisly accounts of abuses and possibly more information about a US role.

Rights groups believe US backing for authoritarian regimes in Latin America extended to Argentina during the 1976-1983 period known as the ‘‘Dirty War.’’

Some 13,000 people were killed or disappeared during the brutal rule of ‘‘the generals,’’ according to government estimates. Rights groups put the number closer to 30,000.

They give you a plane flight out.

Yet even Obama’s promise of a full accounting hasn’t quelled the concerns.

It shouldn't given his record of keeping promises.

As Obama met with Macri on Wednesday, protesters gathered in Buenos Aires to express anger at his visit. A large march was planned Thursday afternoon to commemorate the 40th anniversary.

And yet somehow the voters want a return to this!

Protests and a commemorative march were also planned for late Thursday in Bariloche, a picturesque city in southern Argentina where Obama spent the afternoon with his family before returning to Washington.

How impolite!

Macri thanked Obama for visiting ‘‘on this very special day for us’’ and called for a renewed commitment to democracy and human rights.


‘‘Every day, somewhere in the world, they are jeopardized,’’ he said in Spanish.

And there is a U.S.-supported ruler behind it.

The son of one of Argentina’s richest businessmen, Macri has been criticized for being impervious to the need for US accountability as he pursues closer ties with Washington. He declined Wednesday to say what he expects the new records will reveal.


I will say one thing for him, he sure can dance around the issue.


Where he didn't go:

"Venezuela taking tiny steps toward fixing economy" by Hannah Dreier Associated Press  February 18, 2016

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has announced long-awaited economic reforms, but analysts say they’ll barely have any effect in rescuing the economy.

The socialist president raised gasoline prices and devalued one of the oil country’s multiple exchange rates Wednesday. He assured supporters the steps don’t amount to a dramatic austerity scheme.

You would't want that here, would you?

Analysts agree. They say the modest adjustments have no hope of bringing in the money Venezuela needs to save its crashing economy.

That's how I'm feeling reading this day after day, yup.

‘‘Whatever Maduro does now, it’s going to be too little, too late,’’ said Bruce Magid, dean of the international business school at Brandeis University, who previously worked as a banker in Caracas.

That tells you why.

Even a recovery in the price of oil would probably not be enough to save the economy at this point, he said.

‘‘It buys him more time. But it doesn’t do anything to address the underlying structural problems, which is the country has stopped producing and exporting anything,’’ he said.

They don't have a Federal Reserve to turn to?

Underlining the gravity of the situation, the Central Bank said Thursday said inflation hit 181 percent last year, and the economy shrank by nearly 6 percent. The International Monetary Fund predicts inflation will top 700 percent by the end of the year.

I see the old economic policy $quee$e, don't you?

Venezuela has been spending more than $12 billion a year to subsidize gasoline. The hike could save the state oil company the equivalent of more than 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product this year, according to the Caracas-based consultancy Ecoanalítica.

But analysts say a much steeper hike is needed to chip away at the country’s budget deficit of around 25 percent of gross domestic product. The new scheme means drivers will pay dimes instead of pennies to fill a gas tank, and the fixed price will continue to be eroded by raging inflation. 

How do we get that here now that prices are going back up?

Maduro also changed the strongest of Venezuela’s exchange rates, lowering it from 6.3 bolivars per dollar to 10. That rate is supposed to be available only for vital imports like food and medicine.

The weakest of the official rates, which trades at 200 bolivars to the dollar, is still just a fifth of the black market rate, leaving the door open to arbitrage and corruption.

The newly ascendant opposition says the problem is that the government itself cannot stop stealing.

I $ee that.

Opposition leader Jesus Torrealba said the measures would do nothing to stop the opportunities for rampant theft created by Venezuela’s byzantine currency scheme.

‘‘This crisis is the result of years and years of looting the public coffers,’’ he told reporters. ‘‘These new measures do nothing to rectify the obscene chasm between exchange rates.’’

Gas price increased conjure the specter of violence in Venezuela because of a days-long Caracas riot in 1989 that followed the announcement of austerity measures including a gas hike.

On Thursday, however, motorists were calmly waiting to buy what continues to be the world’s cheapest gas. 

You begin to wonder who in fact is behind the protests we are presented with in the paper.

‘‘These announcements did nothing to alleviate my sense of desperation and sadness,’’ 50-year-old María Quintero said. ‘‘We don’t care if we have to pay 10 bolivars for gas; it’s the always waiting in lines and getting up at 4 in the morning to buy a little bit of rice.’’ 

I take it they aren't Bernie fans.

The Maduro administration says it is looking for ways to work out distortions at home while aggressively pushing other oil countries to drive up oil prices. On Wednesday, Maduro said the country had made progress toward reaching an agreement with key allies to freeze production.

But with $10 billion in bond payments coming due this year, analysts say there are few paths for Venezuela to avoid default.

‘‘Maduro did not explain how the state is going to pay its debt, pay for primary materials, and guarantee food for the people,’’ said Luis Vicente León, president of the local polling firm Datanalisis. ‘‘It’s just impossible that these measures will be able to resolve a problem of this scale.’’

And that is the end of the regime. 

Maybe the next president can visit.


"Bolivia votes on whether Evo Morales can run for fourth term" Associated Press  February 21, 2016

LA PAZ, Bolivia — An influence-peddling scandal involving a former lover and a deadly incident of political violence dogged President Evo Morales as Bolivians voted Sunday on whether he should be allowed to run for another term.

The voters were deciding whether to amend the constitution so that Morales, in office for a decade, can run for reelection in 2019. The current limit is two terms, and the change would allow presidents to run for reelection twice.

Preelection polls indicated voters were about evenly split — with some 15 percent undecided — on whether to give Bolivia’s first indigenous president another shot at governing. Then the bombshell hit.

An opposition-aligned journalist revealed two weeks ago that an ex-lover of Morales’s in 2013 was named sales manager of a Chinese company, CAMC Engineering Co. Ltd, that has obtained nearly $500 million in mostly no-bid state contracts.

Morales denied any impropriety and said he last saw the woman in 2007.

Adding to Morales’s woes were last week’s asphyxiation deaths of six municipal officials in El Alto, the teeming city adjacent to La Paz that has been run since last year by an opposition mayor.

Pro-Morales forces are accused of setting the fire that provoked the deaths.


Look and smells to me like the U.S. lit that match for a number of reasons.

"Bolivian president confident in referendum as exit polls show loss" by Nicholas Casey New York Times  February 23, 2016

LA PAZ, Bolivia — President Evo Morales of Bolivia said Monday that he did not yet accept defeat in a contentious referendum to allow him to run for a fourth term, saying that despite the exit polls suggesting that it failed, the final vote count could still favor him.

As if polls meant anything anymore! 

Rig 'em when they're up, rig 'em when they're down, rig 'em when they're up, rig 'em all around.

On Sunday, Bolivians voted on whether to allow Morales, 56, to change the nation’s constitution to allow him to continue as president until 2025, if he kept winning elections. Multiple television exit polls Sunday night all showed the measure failing by single-digit margins.

At a news conference with reporters Monday, Morales said that the polls had in fact indicated a statistical tie. He said a final count was continuing in rural areas, where he said he had large support.

A partial count issued Monday afternoon by the electoral committee showed 59 percent of voters rejecting the measure and 41 percent supporting it. About a third of the total votes had been counted. A final count was expected in the coming days.

The numbers so far mark a dramatic turn of fortune for Morales, who has handily won three other elections promoting a Socialist-inspired program aimed at the country’s indigenous majority.

Morales, an Aymara Indian who was born poor, raised the minimum wage by four times the level it was when he arrived and brought the country’s indigenous majority into the president’s office for the first times.

But his opponents accuse him of becoming increasingly authoritarian during a decade in office. The vote also came as Morales struggled with scandal over a child born out of wedlock, accusations of corruption, and claims of abandonment by some of the indigenous sectors that had long supported him.

With an Asian woman of all things!

On Monday, pollsters defended their figures. Luis Garay, who heads Ipsos Bolivia, a polling firm, said in an interview with Bolivia’s ATN television station that the exit polls — 52.3 percent against, 47.7 percent in favor — would hold in the final result.

Morales’s opposition kept a muted response Monday after declaring victory and setting off fireworks in the capital the night before. Samuel Doria Medina, an opposition legislator who lost a presidential election to Morales, said Sunday the vote showed that Bolivians were against one-party rule.

So let's return to the mi$ery of the pa$t?

While the president said Monday that he believed he would prevail, he said that his leftist program — which remains widely popular in Bolivia — would continue regardless of whether the referendum failed.

But they don't want to keep him.

In 10 years in office, Morales has presided over an unprecedented economic boom as prices for raw materials soared just as he took office.

He is credited with spreading Bolivia’s natural resource wealth and empowering its indigenous majority.

Usually that would be a good thing.

Gross domestic product per capita rose by nearly one-third, according to the International Monetary Fund, and a new indigenous middle class was born.

Now get outta here!

But the boom is over.

And yet we still hung on to Obama for eight long years.

Bolivia’s revenues from natural gas and minerals, making up three-fourths of its exports, were down 32 percent last year. Economists say Morales leaned heavily on extractive industries to pay for populist programs and failed to diversify the economy. 

Think Midwest fracking operations.

Analysts said an influence-peddling scandal clearly cost Morales.

It was revealed that a former Morales lover was named sales manager of a Chinese company in 2013 that has obtained nearly $500 million in mostly no-bid state contracts. The president denied any impropriety and claimed he last saw the woman in 2007. But a picture of the two together last year emerged, casting doubts.

I had no idea that Bolivians were so racist.


"Bolivian leader’s quest for fourth term fails" Associated Press  February 24, 2016

LA PAZ, Bolivia — President Evo Morales grudgingly accepted on Wednesday his first direct electoral defeat in a decade in power, the narrow rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have let him run again in 2019.

‘‘We lost a democratic battle but not the war,’’ he told a news conference. ‘‘Evo’s work is not done.’’ He blamed the loss on a ‘‘dirty war’’ by the opposition and an ‘‘external conspiracy.’’

Yeah, I've seen that somewhere before in South America when the U.S. is involved.

Asked if the process of choosing a successor would begin in the governing party, Morales reminded the questioner that he still has four years left in office.

God willing.

‘‘It’s not the moment to speak of a successor. There is a lot of time for that.’’

Previously, Morales had averaged 61.5 percent of the vote in electoral wins, including a 2009 constitutional rewrite. But corruption scandals, a weakening economy, and the growing unpopularity of his movement stung this time. 

I was just told.... never mind.

After the outcome became clear Tuesday night, celebrants poured into the streets in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, where opposition to Morales is strong. But fireworks also sounded in La Paz, where there is weariness of official corruption.

Sunday’s ballot question lost by 51 percent to 49 percent.

Those percentages indicate a massive fraud and stolen vote to deny Bolivians self-determination in the name of "democracy."

The outcome also blocks Vice President Alvaro Garcia from running again.

A native Aymara, Morales is Bolivia’s first indigenous president and he changed the ethnic complexion of the landlocked nation’s politics in three terms in office.

He helped lift millions from of poverty by more equitably distributing natural gas revenues, spurring the creation of an indigenous middle class.

Now back to the way it was because it looks like the next ruler will necessarily come from there.


Maybe they could revote on it in a year or two?


"At least 16 killed in prison fire in Guyana amid riot" Associated Press  March 04, 2016

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — At least 16 prisoners died in a fire Thursday as they protested overcrowding and other issues inside a prison in the capital of the South American country of Guyana, authorities said.

Inmates set two fires during a riot in the most secure section of Georgetown Prison as guards swept the lockup and seized drugs, cellphones, and other items, said Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan.

‘‘We have a crisis on our hands,’’ he said. ‘‘Long delays in trials have caused much frustration and vexation among prisoners.’’

The first fire was set late Wednesday using mattresses and was extinguished with no injuries reported. The second fire was set Thursday around noon and led to the fatalities, officials said.

The colonial-era prison holds nearly 1,000 prisoners even though it was built to hold about 450 inmates.

Officials said that many fires have been set at the prison in recent years to protest conditions, but none had caused fatalities.

Or changed things.



"Gunmen kill Honduran indigenous, environmentalist leader" by Freddy Cuevas Associated Press  March 04, 2016

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduran indigenous leader Berta Caceres, who won the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for her role in fighting a dam project, was shot dead Thursday by multiple gunmen who broke into her home, authorities said.

Admit it, your first thought was IS.

Caceres, a 40-year-old Lenca Indian activist, had previously complained of receiving death threats from police, soldiers and local landowners because of her work.

Tomas Membreno, a member of her group, the Indian Council of People’s Organizations of Honduras, said at least two assailants broke into the home and shot Caceres to death early Thursday in the town of La Esperanza.

‘‘Honduras has lost a brave and committed social activist,’’ Membreno said in a statement.

The killing appeared to be targeted: A Mexican rights activist at the house was only slightly wounded in the attack, but Caceres’s body had four gunshot wounds.

Police said they had detained a suspect, but did not identify the person.

Caceres, a mother of four, led opposition to a proposed dam on the Gualcarque river, which is considered sacred by the Lencas.

Many of the project’s backers have largely abandoned building plans.

Then what other reason could someone have for killing her?

President Juan Orlando Hernandez wrote in his Twitter account that ‘‘this act has caused mourning among all Hondurans.’’

His chief of staff, Jorge Alcerro, said ‘‘the president has instructed all government security forces to use all means to find the killers.’’

Hmmmm. That sounds familiar.

Alcerro said Caceres was supposed to be receiving special protection because of the death threats. Security Minister Julian Pacheco said police had initially been assigned to protective detail but Caceres asked for them to be withdrawn because they bothered her. He added that more than two attackers broke down the door of her home to gain entry.

Yes, it's almost as if she brought it on herself.

The US ambassador in Honduras, James D. Nealon, issued a statement saying, ‘‘We strongly condemn this despicable crime. The United States of America calls for a prompt and thorough investigation into this crime and for the full force of the law to be brought to bear against those found responsible.’’

Translation: they had something to do with it.

Later Thursday, the Honduran government said it was designating a commission of 12 experts to investigate Caderes’ killing.


There is BLOOD all over their HANDS!

‘‘The United States is helping on the case,’’ Hernandez told the nation, while inviting other countries to also ‘‘join this noble cause.’’

Shoveling fast and furious (pun intended) as they shovel it on with a bucket-loader.

The website of the Goldman Environmental Prize said Caceres ‘‘waged a grass-roots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam,’’ which the site said ‘‘would cut off the supply of water, food, and medicine for hundreds of Lenca people and violate their right to sustainably manage and live off their land.’’

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director for Amnesty International, said in a statement that ‘‘the cowardly killing of Berta is a tragedy that was waiting to happen.’’

‘‘For years, she had been the victim of a sustained campaign of harassment and threats to stop her from defending the rights of indigenous communities,’’ said Guevara-Rosas.

Outside the town morgue, dozens of indigenous people used flowers and sawdust to create a representation of the Gualcarque River that Caceres had defended. Relatives said her body would be interred Sunday.


Here is something else you may want to see before leaving Honduras.


"Cholera quietly still kills dozens a month in Haiti" by David McFadden Associated Press  March 04, 2016

Why quietly?

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — More than a dozen people reclined on cots inside the clinic in the Haitian capital, a few so sick they were receiving intravenous infusions to rehydrate their bodies and spare them an agonizing death.

The worst off one recent morning was a thin and spectral man, weak from the vomiting and diarrhea caused by cholera. But all were expected to survive. The disease spread by contaminated water is easily treatable but can lead to death within hours if unattended.

“However I got it, I really hope I never get this sick again,” another patient, Estin Josue, said as he recovered inside an immaculately clean and orderly treatment center in downtown Port-au-Prince run by Gheskio Centers, a Haitian medical organization.

Josue and his fellow patients were relatively lucky, getting sick close to the country’s first permanent cholera treatment center. Many others are not as fortunate as Haiti continues to wrestle with the worst outbreak of the disease in recent history.

Not only that, there had really been no such history on the island.

Cholera, which arrived in Haiti in October 2010, has sickened more than 770,000 people, or about 7 percent of the population, and killed more than 9,200. So far this year, it has sickened more than 6,000 and is killing an average of 37 people a month, according to the latest government figures.

The numbers tear your heart out, as does the near silence of my pre$$.

The persistence of the preventable disease has alarmed public health experts who fear that attention and resources have been diverted by newer challenges, including the regional spread of the Zika virus and the political crisis that recently halted Haiti’s elections.

World Health Organization spokesman Gregory Hartl said cholera is now considered “endemic” in Haiti, meaning it’s an illness that occurs regularly. Others have noted the cholera bacterium could very well be firmly established in Haiti’s rivers, estuaries and even coastal waters.

“Once it is established in a country’s aquatic reservoir, it is extremely difficult to eradicate,” said Afsar Ali, a researcher at the University of Florida who has led studies of cholera in Haiti for years.

Like U.S. troops.

Dr. Joseph Donald Francois, who coordinates the health ministry’s efforts to combat the illness, still believes Haiti, with international help, can eliminate cholera by 2022. But he acknowledged the effort is badly under financed.

Why not? 

It was international help that delivered it, or so the limited hangout went. 

Others suggest more evil intents are afoot in Haiti, like a slow depopulation type thing (at least Bill Clinton has a nice hotel to stay in during his stopovers. I wonder how many young Haitian.... never mind).

Only $307 million, or less than 14 percent, has been funded of a $2.2 billion plan announced in 2013 to eradicate cholera from the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic over a decade, according to a November report from the United Nations.

Gee, if you didn't know better you would think the U.N. is racist.

In the first year of the outbreak, more than 200 international organizations were providing money and expertise to combat the illness in Haiti. Now, there are fewer than a dozen, Francois said.

“Having far fewer deaths has led a lot of people to believe the situation is no longer urgent,” Francois said. “But if we had the resources, people wouldn’t be dying at all.”

Cholera was first detected in central Haiti’s Artibonite Valley. Researchers say there is ample evidence the disease was introduced to the country’s biggest river by inadequately treated sewage from a base of UN peacekeepers from Nepal, one of the units that have rotated in and out of a multinational force in Haiti since 2004.

Victims’ advocates have sued the United Nations in the United States. A federal judge ruled last year that the international organization was immune from a lawsuit seeking compensation. The US Court of Appeals this week heard arguments for the plaintiffs fighting the UN’s immunity claim.

Five UN human rights experts have criticized the United Nation’s “effective denial of the fundamental right of the victims of cholera to justice,” saying in a letter late last year to top UN officials that the approach “challenges the credibility of the organization as an entity that respects human rights.”

Cholera showed up 10 months after a devastating earthquake, deepening the country’s misery.

They still haven't cleared much of the rubble.

“We need to raise our expectations of what’s possible to do in Haiti and other countries in terms of these diseases that we’ve completely eliminated from our own societies,” said Dr. Louise Ivers, a senior policy adviser with Boston-based Partners In Health.


In years past I would have eagerly and enthusiastically posted such a thing because I have always asked the question when I posted about Haiti; however, after all this time the one-day wonders no longer thrill me.


I don't know WhatsApp in Brazil:

"Facebook executive released from jail in Brazil" by Bruce Douglas Associated Press  March 03, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — A Facebook executive detained for refusing to give law enforcement information about users of the WhatsApp message service was released from jail on Wednesday, part of a tussle between authorities and technology companies that recalls the US dispute between Apple and the FBI. 

See: Apple and the FBI

Facebook’s most senior representative in Latin America, Diego Dzodan, left a jail in Sao Paulo after one night in custody. A judge ruled he was wrongly detained because he was not named personally in the legal proceedings.

Another judge in the northeastern state of Sergipe had issued an arrest warrant accusing Dzodan of repeatedly failing to comply with a judicial order to cooperate with an investigation into drug trafficking and organized crime. Monica Horta, a spokeswoman for the federal police in Sergipe, said investigators have requested content from a Whats-App messaging group as well as other data, including geo-location.

Investigators first contacted WhatsApp — which was bought by Facebook in 2014 — about four months ago but have yet to receive a response, Horta said. Starting two months ago, Whats-App began to incur a daily fine of $12,700 for every day it ignored the order. The company has not yet paid the fine, which has risen to $250,000 in recent weeks, she said.

Brazilian police argue that Facebook’s stance is at odds with those of Yahoo, Google, and local telecommunications companies, which have been willing to hand over user information to help investigations.

WhatsApp has been rolling out a so-called end-to-end encryption system under which only the sender and recipient can access the content of messages, and it insists it doesn’t have the information requested.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the company said, ‘‘arresting people with no connection to pending law enforcement investigation is a capricious step and we are concerned about the effects for the people of Brazil and innovation in the country.’’

The standoff has drawn comparisons to the FBI’s battle with Apple following its request that the company unlock the iPhone belonging to one of the terrorists who carried out killings in San Bernardino, Calif.

See: Taking a Second Look at San Bernardino

‘‘The Apple versus FBI case and the WhatsApp case are in many ways exactly the same thing,’’ said Zaki Manian, a California-based cryptography engineer and privacy activist. ‘‘The encryption systems employed by these companies is such that they do not have access to encrypted data. The only way the company could access the data would be to employ a malicious update to allow access.’’

Brazil has cast itself as a defender of Internet freedom since revelations in 2014 that the US National Security Agency had spied on President Dilma Rousseff, her close advisers, and Brazilian commercial interests, including the state-run oil company Petrobras. Rousseff canceled a state visit to the United States during a diplomatic row over the disclosures, the result of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Rousseff also pledged to promote more home-grown Internet services and make Brazil’s piece of the global Internet less US-dependent.

That's all down the memory hole.

Some analysts say that stance is at odds with actions such as the Dzodan detention.

‘‘The Brazilians have spent several years complaining about the NSA. Technology companies have now delivered products to their customers that are much more secure from the NSA and the Brazilians are now complaining that they’re too secure,’’ said Chris Soghoian, principal technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union. ‘‘So maybe you should be careful what you wish for.’’

It may arrive on your newsstand.

‘‘It seems like what governments want is ways to communicate that are secure from foreign governments, but that allow their own government to spy,’’ Soghoian said. ‘‘And the fact is that those tools don’t exist.

‘‘If you want your communications to be secure from the NSA then they will also be secure from your local law enforcement.’’

Brazilian authorities also clashed with Facebook in December, when a judicial order forced Brazil’s telecommunications companies to block WhatsApp over its refusal to cooperate with a police inquiry. The move shut down communications for many of its 100 million users in Brazil for around 12 hours. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the time said he was ‘‘stunned’’ by the ‘‘extreme decision.’’

Robert Muggah, the research director at Iguarape, a Rio de Janeiro think tank, said the latest conflict over the WhatsApp messages could bolster support for proposed legislation that would allow judges to make more demands of tech companies.

‘‘The danger with these cases is that the pendulum is swinging too far away from digital rights to law enforcement,’’ Muggah said.

Problem now is it is never swinging back.


"Former Brazilian president questioned in corruption case" AP  March 04, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police on Friday were questioning former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and searching his home and other buildings linked to him as part of the sprawling corruption case at the oil giant Petrobras.

Silva’s spokesman, Jose Crispiniano, confirmed that police were at addresses belonging to Silva, including his residence in Sao Bernardo do Campo in the greater Sao Paulo area and the Instituto Lula, his nonprofit organization. Crispiniano said Silva was speaking to investigators at the federal police station at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport.

Brazil’s O Globo news network ran images of police officials around a building they was the Sao Bernardo do Campo apartment, and the broadcaster said police were also at an address connected to one of his sons. Images showed clashes breaking out between Silva’s supporters and detractors outside the Sao Bernardo do Campo apartment.

Crispiniano said police are acting on a warrant that requires Silva to answer questions as part of the continuing probe into corruption at Brazil’s Petrobras oil giant.

Christianne Machiavelli, the spokeswoman of Judge Sergio Moro, who is spearheading the so-called Car Wash investigation into corruption at Petrobras, said that Silva is permitted to answer questions at any federal police station in the country and will not be taken to Curitiba, where Moro is based.

In a statement on their website, the police said they are carrying out 44 judicial orders as part of the Car Wash probe.

The statement did not provide the names of those targeted, but it did specify that some of the orders are taking place in the beachfront city of Guaruja, as well as the rural town of Atibaia.

Silva is suspected of having homes in both places, and investigators are probing reports they may have been remodeled by construction companies caught up in the Petrobras scandal, which has already ensnared top businessmen and heavyweight politicians from the governing Workers’ Party as well as the opposition.

Last week, Silva and his wife, Marisa, were initially meant to appear before state investigators over the matter, but their lawyers said the two would not come and the appearance was cancelled.

I don't know why Cosby just came to mind but he did.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court allowed corruption charges in the case to be brought against Eduardo Cunha, a top opposition figure and speaker of the lower house of Congress.

Prosecutors say more than $2 billion was paid in bribes by businessmen to obtain Petrobras contracts. Investigators also have said that some of the money made its way to several political parties, including the Workers’ Party.

Looks like $mall peanuts considering the $ea of ill-gotten loot out there.

Silva last week denounced suggestions of personal corruption, accusing the media and opposition of spreading ‘‘lies, leaks and accusations of criminality.’’


Globe wiped his face clean.

Brazilian police haul former president from his home and question him for about 4 hours in a sprawling corruption case involving state-run oil company Petrobras that has already ensnared some of the country's top lawmakers and businessmen

Must be why the Globe is keeping it quiet.

"Brazil’s Marcelo Odebrecht sentenced to more than 19 years" Associated Press  March 08, 2016

SAO PAULO — A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced the former president of the country’s largest construction company to more than 19 years in prison for involvement in the massive corruption scheme at Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras.

Judge Sergio Moro, who is heading the Petrobras investigation, sentenced Marcelo Odebrecht to 19 years and four months imprisonment on charges of corruption, money laundering and for belonging to a criminal organization.

Odebrecht is the highest profile executive to be convicted in the so-called ‘‘Operation Car Wash’’ investigations. He is one of the central private sector figures in what prosecutors have called a criminal organization.

Prosecutors have said the overall scheme involved more than $2 billion in bribes paid to obtain Petrobras contracts, with some money making its way to political parties, including the governing Workers’ Party. Some of Brazil’s wealthiest people have been caught up in the probe, as have dozens of politicians from both the governing coalition and the opposition.

Petrobras is Brazil’s biggest company and is in charge of tapping big offshore oil fields and creating wealth that leaders expected would propel the country to developed-world status.

Odebrecht’s attorney Nabor Bulhoes said in an emailed statement that the sentence against his client was ‘‘unfair and unjust because none of the evidence produced backs it.’’

‘‘None of the documents produced so far links Marcelo Odebrecht to any illicit act being investigated,’’ Bulhoes said, adding he would appeal the sentence.

Odebrecht and other executives from other construction companies were arrested last year as part of the investigation into the corruption scheme at Petrobras.

Marcio Faria and Rogerio Santos, former executives at the builder, were also sentenced to 19 years and four months in jail, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, former Sen. Luiz Estevao turned himself Tuesday to begin serving a more than 20-year sentence for misappropriating up to $100 million in government funds during construction of a federal courthouse in the early 1990s.

Estevao was convicted in 2006, but managed to avoid imprisonment by filing several appeals. The appeal process ran its course and federal judge Alesssandro Diaferia ordered his arrest on Monday.


"Brazil government regroups after huge protests" Associated Press  March 14, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — A day after massive demonstrations urging the ouster of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, her chief of staff on Monday acknowledged popular discontent with the political class but said the flagging economy was the main reason behind the high turnout at the protests.

Jacques Wagner’s comments, made in a news conference that followed a meeting between Rousseff and her advisers, were among the government’s first official attempt to explain what top newspapers here have described as the largest political demonstration in Brazilian history.

An estimated 3 million people were thought to have taken part in more than 100 protests nationwide — more than the mass protests in 1984 that demanded direct presidential elections amid the country’s military dictatorship, according to the respected Folha de S. Paulo daily.

Rousseff is fighting impeachment proceedings in Congress amid the worst recession in decades and a sprawling corruption investigation closing in on key figures in her Workers’ Party.

‘‘The fact is that Sunday can be seen as a watershed moment, which frightens the government [and] pressures Congress,’’ Folha said in an editorial on Monday. ‘‘Surprised by the strong turnout on Sunday, the government has been put on alert that it needs to act quickly’’ to avoid Rousseff’s impeachment.

Rousseff has categorically ruled out resigning."

"Former president joins Brazil’s cabinet, gaining legal shield" by Simon Romero New York Times  March 16, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Faced with multiple corruption investigations, Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is joining the Cabinet of his successor, Dilma Rousseff, in a move that may offer him more legal protections but intensifies the political upheaval in Latin America’s largest country.

Da Silva, 70, will become Rousseff’s chief of staff, said Afonso Florence, the leader of the governing Workers’ Party in the Chamber of Deputies.

Da Silva, a founder of the Workers’ Party and its most towering figure, is thrusting himself into a government that is lurching from one crisis to another. The economy is reeling from a bad slump and major corruption scandals. Rousseff is struggling for her own political survival, with protesters demanding her ouster and lawmakers pursuing impeachment proceedings against her. 

I never realized I had so much in common with Brazilians.

“Vested with the unprecedented function of a de facto prime minister, Lula will oversee an act of political desperation to save what’s left of his project,” said Igor Gielow, a columnist for the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

The move could offer da Silva some practical protection as prosecutors seek his arrest in a graft inquiry involving his ties to giant construction companies. Cabinet ministers are among the 700 or so senior officials in Brazil who enjoy special judicial standing, meaning they can be tried only by Brazil’s highest court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal.

Effectively, this prevents nearly all of these figures from going to prison, because trials at the court drag on for years. Nearly a third of the 594 members of Congress, including the leaders of the lower house and the Senate, are under scrutiny before the court over claims of violating laws.

Da Silva, who was president from 2003 through 2010, is grappling with various investigations into his accumulation of wealth since leaving office. He was taken into custody for questioning this month in a federal inquiry into renovations of luxury properties by scandal-plagued construction companies OAS and Odebrecht.

Da Silva has insisted that he is innocent of any wrongdoing, describing the inquiries as attempts to destabilize Rousseff’s government and prevent him from returning to the presidency. He has recently begun mounting a bid to run again in 2018, denouncing political opponents and critics in the news media.

But upon taking up his post, he will have to start with damage control. Delcídio do Amaral, a senator from the Workers’ Party, reached a plea deal with investigators in which he accused da Silva and Rousseff of obstructing corruption investigations.

“I am a prophet of chaos,” do Amaral told reporters after the Supreme Federal Tribunal accepted his plea deal, in which he implicated figures across the ideological spectrum in graft scandals, including Vice President Michel Temer and Aécio Neves, a leader of the opposition Social Democracy Party.

While Brasília braces for the return of da Silva to the daily political fray, others around the country are trying to decipher what comes next. Brazil’s currency, the real, fell sharply against the dollar Wednesday, and the main index of the São Paulo stock exchange dropped nearly 1 percent on concerns over potential shifts in economic policy under da Silva.

Why, are they dumping dollars and moving towards something else?


"Brazil braces for protests as former president joins Cabinet" Associated Press  March 17, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as his successor’s chief of staff on Thursday and President Dilma Rousseff insisted he would help put the troubled country back on track while denouncing attempts to oust her.

Critics have called Silva’s appointment a bald-faced attempt to help him avoid possible detention in a sprawling investigation into corruption at the state-run Petrobras oil company, as Cabinet members cannot face criminal charges unless the charges are approved by the Supreme Federal Court.

The probe already has ensnared dozens of public figures from across the political spectrum as well as prominent business leaders. It’s just one of several crises battering the nation that in five months will host the Olympics, including a deepening recession and an outbreak of the Zika virus.

Anger over Silva’s appointment fueled protests Thursday in Sao Paulo, where demonstrators brandishing inflatable dolls of Silva in black-and-white prison stripes shut down the showcase thoroughfare in the metropolitan area of 18 million. In the capital, Brasilia, three demonstrators were detained during scuffles with government supporters.

And in another surprise development, a low-level federal judge in Brasilia issued an injunction suspending Silva’s nomination, though officials expected it to be swiftly overturned by a higher court.

Solicitor General Jose Eduardo Cardozo, a close ally of Rousseff’s, said ‘‘political motivations’’ were behind the injunction, which he called ‘‘absolutely inappropriate.’’

‘‘The situation is absurd,’’ Cardozo said at a news conference, adding that the government has appealed.



Judges knock down challenge to Brazil ex-president

Brazil poll shows strong support for president’s impeachment

In reading through all those one gets a very distinct feeling of a destabilization effort.


"Watch Out for Judicial Coup in Brazil"  "Langley's Latest Themed Revolution: the Yellow Duck Revolution in Brazil" -- xymphora"

As long as "it" doesn't spoil the games (anybody check their numbers?), and I suspect the flare-up is over.

"Former South African president criticized for AIDS comments" Associated Press  March 08, 2016

JOHANNESBURG — A decade ago, South Africa was in crisis, struggling with AIDS and widespread criticism of the president at the time for a policy blamed for the early deaths of several hundred thousand South Africans from the disease. Now former leader Thabo Mbeki faces fresh scrutiny for defending his old pronouncements about the disease.

The comments by Mbeki, who was ousted in a political shakeup in 2008, are a grim flashback for South Africans who recall the heavy toll inflicted by AIDS in conjunction with, critics say, the government’s decision to withhold antiretroviral drugs that would have kept AIDS patients alive and instead promote garlic and beet treatments.

If you don't work for the all-powerful pharmaceuticals you are out!

AIDS was the most significant cause in a drop in South African life expectancy to 52 in 2005, down from around 60 years in 1990. The country’s life expectancy is now around 61 years, largely reflecting the positive results of a robust rollout of the drugs after Mbeki left office. Today, South Africa says its antiretroviral treatment program is the largest in the world; more than 6.4 million people in South Africa live with HIV, according to 2014 data.

Mbeki, who had questioned the link between HIV and AIDS, said in a Monday post on his foundation’s website that nutrition was critically important and that antiretroviral drugs, or ARVs, should be used ‘‘with great care and caution.’’

No natural remedies of any kind!

He repeated an allegation that pharmaceutical companies wanted to sell products ‘‘at prices which the well-off white South African population could afford,’’ noting his administration’s efforts to push down the price.

‘‘They would price their products in South Africa bearing in mind that South Africa serves as a role model for other developing countries, and as commercial companies they have no choice but to pursue the profit motive! From all this you can see why it was absolutely necessary for ‘the AIDS industry’ that South Africa was whipped into line so that it sets an example by being an enthusiastic purchaser of ARVs!’’ Mbeki wrote. 

Lump 'em in with all the other over-priced pills.

South Africa emerged from white minority rule after all-race elections in 1994. 

And yet wealth inequality still persists.

Mbeki, an anti-apartheid leader who had lived in exile for many years, railed with other African leaders against what some termed foreign interference that echoed the colonial era in Africa.

Some groups, however, sought to donate medication for South African patients with AIDS, and drug prices also dropped. The South African government was accused of blocking effective treatment for many of its desperate citizens. A Harvard study concluded that more than 330,000 lives were lost ‘‘because a feasible ARV treatment program was not implemented in South Africa.’’

The Treatment Action Campaign, a South African group that which promotes access to AIDS treatment, said Mbeki had refused to take responsibility for his flawed policy. ‘‘The important point, and the point Mbeki still refuses to face, is that he intentionally delayed the introduction of life-saving treatment to the people he was trusted to serve,’’ the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

Referring to Mbeki’s commentary, a group established by the government to address health threats urged South Africans to avoid ‘‘a debate that will take us back to a fractious past and can only serve as a distraction.’’

The group, the South African National AIDS Council, said it is looking forward to an international AIDS conference in July in the South African city of Durban. The office of President Jacob Zuma said the conference will be an opportunity ‘‘to mark the progress we have made in fighting the AIDS epidemic.’’


Sorry I missed that earlier.

"South African president rejects allegations of corruption" Associated Press  March 17, 2016

JOHANNESBURG — President Jacob Zuma on Thursday rejected allegations that he is influenced by a wealthy business family, declaring under sharp criticism from opposition lawmakers that he is in charge of the appointment of Cabinet ministers in South Africa.

A day before, the country’s deputy finance minister issued a public statement saying the politically connected Gupta family directly offered him the finance minister job in December, around the time that the incumbent, Nhlanhla Nene, was sacked in a move that rattled markets.

In a combative exchange in parliament, Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance party, said to Zuma: ‘‘Is the president willing to take accountability for the decision and resign in front of the people of South Africa?’’

In the best way possible.

‘‘I am in charge of the government, I appoint in terms of the Constitution,’’ President Jacob Zuma said responded, to cheers from ruling party parliamentarians. ‘‘There is no minister who is here who was ever appointed by the Guptas or by anybody else.’’

Opposition lawmakers said Zuma’s decision to fire the finance minister, replace him with a relatively unknown parliamentarian, and then again replace him with a more experienced former finance minister weakened the economy and currency.

Zuma denied this, saying the rand was already in decline before he shuffled finance ministers. Maimane attempted to challenge the president and was told to leave by the Parliament speaker.

As he left, members of the Democratic Alliance followed him out. They and other critics say the alleged influence of the Gupta family over Zuma is a threat to the country’s democracy.

Earlier in the day, members of the Democratic Alliance filed a legal complaint alleging that the Gupta family had broken South Africa’s anti-corruption laws. Maimane said Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas’s statement provided evidence after numerous allegations of ‘‘state favors, murky business relationships and clear-cut nepotism’’ between the president and the wealthy family.

In revealing the Guptas’ alleged offer, Jonas said Wednesday he rejected it because ‘‘it makes a mockery of our hard earned democracy.’’

The family denied the deputy minister’s claim, dismissing it as infighting between rival factions of the ruling African National Congress party.

‘‘Any suggestion that the Gupta family or any of our representatives or associates have offered anyone a job in government is totally false,’’ the family said in a statement Wednesday.

Earlier this week, another ruling party member alleged that the Guptas offered her the post of minister of public enterprises, the department that handles South Africa’s national electricity supplier and national airline carrier. South Africa’s sports minister has denied allegations from opposition party members that the Guptas offered him his ministerial portfolio.

The Guptas have been entrepreneurs in South Africa since they emigrated from India in 1993, with thriving businesses ranging from computer technology to media outlets and energy and mining, with their holdings firm listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2014, according to the company’s website. 

Where is Gandhi when you need him -- again!

The family’s perceived influence has even irked some senior members of the ruling party.

‘‘When the Gupta family says in its response, it’s about factions in the (African National Congress), I look at that and I came to the conclusion that it’s an arrogance of power,’’ ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told eNCA, an independent South African television news station.

Mantashe dismissed public speculation that Zuma will be recalled by the party and forced to resign.


I'm on the wrong continent now!


Time to wrap up the trip:

"Latin America’s leftist parties falter even as their policies thrive" by Nicholas Casey New York Times  February 27, 2016

COBIJA, Bolivia — When Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, took office a decade ago, he vowed to put this impoverished town in the Amazon Basin on the kind of pedestal often reserved for a capital city.

He filled its coffers with profits from the country’s natural gas industry. He even seized large estates and handed them to new arrivals like Tania Chao, 19, whose family received a house when it came to Cobija with nowhere to live.

Yet when Morales asked Chao to vote for him last week, in a referendum to let him run for a fourth term, she did not feel that she could return the favor. The president had improved the town, she said, but he had been in office for longer than most people had lived in Cobija.

“It’s time to find someone else to continue what he did,” she said after the referendum, which Bolivians rejected.

Latin American leftists like Morales have suddenly felt their longevity ebb as a tide rises against them.

The inside of the voting machine is like a self-contained wave machine at the science museum.

But is the wave of discontent a rejection of the left? Or is it something more personal, aimed at the outsize leaders themselves, not necessarily at the ideas they have promoted?

In Venezuela, former President Hugo Chávez’s movement lost by a landslide in recent elections. In Argentina, the left-wing allies of former President Cristina Fernández could not hold onto her office.

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, a U.S.-educated populist, abandoned an effort to seek another term. Corruption accusations and economic woes have left President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil battling impeachment proceedings. But while longstanding leftist leaders and their movements may be faltering, their policies have taken a lasting hold in Latin America.

Much as President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher took the United States and Britain down a more conservative path, leaders like Morales made a commitment to diminishing inequality that is expected to remain even as governments come and go.

“No leader in Latin America today can afford not to focus on inequality and go back to the neoliberal formulas of the 1990s,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a policy institute in Washington. “Whatever criticism you might have of the leaders of the left, they put their finger on the legitimate grievance of Latin Americans: that they had been excluded from the political system.”

For some of the opponents now taking power, the question is not about razing the leftist models, but about making repairs and adjustments to them.

No case is more extreme than Venezuela, where years of government controls over the economy and reliance on a booming oil industry diminished agricultural production to the point that the country was importing its meat, milk and rice.

Then came the perfect storm when oil prices sank last year, creating triple-digit inflation and food shortages. In parliamentary elections, leftists were wiped out after 16 years of control.

The opposition rose by criticizing government subsidies, but its plan focuses on cutting them for the wealthy and stabilizing them for the poor. President Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s successor, agreed to raise the price of gasoline, reducing a subsidy seen as benefiting the car-owning wealthy. No one has suggested making changes that could harm the poor.

Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, has enacted sweeping changes that have shifted the country to the center-right, including shrinking the state payroll and reducing electricity subsidies.

But Macri has maintained price control strategies intended to shield people from inflation. He also extended a child benefit program that was the cornerstone of Fernández’s social policy.

“Macri, as well as the rest of Latin America, now understands that it’s necessary to maintain and improve the social agenda,” said Alejandro Grisanti, a former Latin America economist at Barclays Capital.

Here in Bolivia, many point out that while Morales was blocked from running in the next election, no successor could undo his work in Cobija.

This small Amazonian rubber port became a laboratory for Morales’ project to bring the government to the country’s poor periphery. The portion of Cobija’s annual municipal budget from national gas taxes increased to $40 million today from $1.2 million in 2006, the year Morales took office, and helped underwrite a public university and a large solar plant in a place where there had been cows, jungle and dirt roads.

“I don’t know why other governments never sent any resources here before,” says Luis Adolfo Flores, the governor of Pando, the state that includes Cobija, and a member of Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party.

Yet Shifter, of the policy institute, said that development had backfired on Morales, raising expectations in an electorate that became more critical of him, especially as his presidency dragged on.

“He became a victim of his own success,” Shifter said. “People now have pride and demands.”

How Shifterly insulting!

Corruption allegations surround the president. On Friday, authorities arrested Gabriela Zapata Montaño, with whom Morales had a child out of wedlock.

That doesn't look like a Chinese name.

Zapata, who was the director of a Chinese company that received millions in government contracts, was under investigation in connection with peddling favors, authorities said.

Similar complaints surfaced in Cobija, where the Evo Morales School sits empty, a $650,000 project that was never completed because a developer vanished after receiving government money. Only half of the first story was built, and vines are growing on the exposed rebar.

On Thursday, protesters here blocked a road, demanding that the city provide water, gas and electricity to a neighborhood they had created after seizing land. Morales once supported such takeovers but had not supported these people, and they wanted to know why.

“We are in the middle of a city, and we have no lights,” said María Estera, a 61-year-old teacher.

Finally an organizer said the government had relented and would begin installing electricity.

“We will have lights by 6 p.m. tomorrow,” he said to cheers.

The protest broke up.

“We have learned from Evo how to do this, and we can use it against them,” one of the demonstrators said. “When he was a peasant, this was the strategy that he used.”


Obama didn't stop in Colombia?

SeeColombia's Mass Graves

That's what usually happens when AmeriKa visits you.

I dug up a few old clippings there, and they want to free FARC to fight for Saudi Arabia (Colombian troops are among the most battle-hardened in the Americas, and hiring foreigners or contractors to wage war or defend installations is an age-old military practice) over in Yemen (Blackwater now under new management).

And can there be any doubt regarding who was behind the scene in Pakistan yesterday, given that the Iranian president was just there talking peace (did you get a heads-up from Facebook)?

Maybe Obama brought back a few things?

"Somerville man accused of hospital cyberattack picked up off Cuban coast" by Brian MacQuarrie Globe Staff  February 17, 2016

In October 2014, Martin Gottesfeld of Somerville spoke with the FBI about a cyberattack launched against Boston Children’s Hospital to protest its care of Justina Pelletier, a Connecticut teenager involved in a bitter dispute over her medical treatment.

Gottesfeld admitted he had posted a YouTube video that called for the attack, authorities said, but he denied participating in the weeklong assault in April 2014 that crippled the hospital’s website, disrupted its day-to-day operations, and affected its research.

Gottesfeld was not charged at the time, and the cyberattack receded into memory. But last week, spurred by concerns from Gottesfeld’s relatives and employer, Somerville police knocked on his door for a wellness check.

They should have been looking elsewhere.

On Tuesday, Gottesfeld and his wife were plucked from a disabled sailboat bobbing in the warm waters off Cuba, federal prosecutors said. Their rescuers? A Disney cruise ship that responded to the small boat’s distress signal.

Gottesfeld, 31, was arrested Wednesday when the cruise ship pulled into Miami. Soon, he will appear in a less tropical destination: US District Court in Boston, where Gottesfeld is scheduled to face a charge of conspiring to damage the computers of Children’s Hospital and a Framingham treatment center where Pelletier had lived.

The US attorney’s office did not confirm that Children’s and Wayside Youth and Family Support, in Framingham, had been targeted. However, Children’s officials and another person with direct knowledge of the case confirmed that Gottesfeld’s arrest was connected to attacks on computers at the two institutions....



"Parents of Justina Pelletier sue Boston Children’s Hospital" by Michael Levenson Globe Staff  February 25, 2016

Nearly two years after she returned home in the arms of her father, Justina Pelletier was back in the spotlight Thursday, speaking in a small, slightly shaky voice about the 16 months she spent in state custody, much of it in a locked psychiatric ward.

Justina, whose case drew national attention to the power of medical professionals to override parental rights, said she remains outraged that she was placed in state custody in 2013 after Boston Children’s Hospital accused her parents of interfering with her care.

The 17-year-old Connecticut girl clutched a purple stress ball, fingernails painted turquoise, as she spoke from a wheelchair in front of the State House, where her parents had convened a press conference to discuss the lawsuit they recently filed against Children’s Hospital.

“I’m very angry, and I just don’t understand how this happened, and I just really don’t want this to happen again to another family,” said Justina, who was with her parents, two of their attorneys, and a family spokesman from the Christian Defense Coalition.

She was taken into state custody three years ago after Children’s determined that her many health problems were the result of psychiatric issues and that her parents were pushing for her to undergo unnecessary treatment. The Pelletiers vehemently disagreed, pointing to the opinion of doctors at Tufts Medical Center, who said Justina suffers from mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects how cells produce energy.

On Thursday, Justina criticized her treatment at Children’s Hospital. “They really treated me badly,” she said, looking older and more mature than when she was last publicly seen, being carried into her home by her father after being released from state custody. “They didn’t really care. It was awful.”

Boston Children’s Hospital said in a statement that it “welcomes the opportunity to vigorously defend the medical care it provided to Justina Pelletier.”

“We are committed to the best interests of our patients’ health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care,” the hospital said. “Out of respect for the patient’s privacy and the ongoing legal process, Boston Children’s is unable to provide further comment about the specific issues of this case at this time.”

They ignored the parents and misdiagnosed the case is what they did.

Justina’s parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, sued Children’s Hospital in Suffolk Superior Court this month, accusing the renowned institution and four of its doctors — Jurriaan Peters, Simona Bujoreanu, Alice Newton, and Colleen Ryan — of gross negligence and civil rights violations. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

“There’s been enormous financial impact on them,” said Kathy Jo Cook, a Boston attorney who is representing the Pelletiers in their lawsuit. “You can imagine if you couldn’t work for 18 months because all you were doing was driving back and forth from Connecticut to Children’s and trying to figure out how to get your child home.”

I can imagine it, but they experienced it. There is a difference.

Last year, the Pelletiers filed for bankruptcy, according to court records.

They also faced foreclosure on their home but were ultimately able to settle their mortgage payments using money from a fund called “A Miracle for Justina” that was controlled by another daughter, Jennifer, court records show.

Lou Pelletier said he is suing Children’s Hospital because he doesn’t want other parents of children with complex medical problems to fear losing custody if they have to seek emergency medical care at a hospital.

“This is not about revenge,” Lou Pelletier said. “This is about making people accountable and making the medical community think twice before they take actions that can do damage to a child and a family that can be irreversible.”

Justina was being treated at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease when her parents brought her to Children’s Hospital with gastrointestinal problems in 2013.

Doctors at Children’s concluded that she was a victim of medical child abuse as a result of her parents interfering with her care.

A juvenile court judge, relying on the opinion of those doctors, removed Justina from her parents’ custody. She was placed in a locked psychiatric ward at the hospital, where, her parents say, she was denied an education and not allowed to attend Mass.

Looks like TORTURE to ME, poor kid!!

Children’s Hospital said that patients and their families have access to the hospital’s multifaith chaplains and tutors.

Justina’s case became a rallying point for Christian conservatives and parent activists, who accused the hospital and state officials of violating the Pelletiers’ rights to make medical decisions for their daughter.

Oh, those people bad, bad!

Under mounting pressure, the same judge who had placed Justina in state custody returned her to her parents’ care in June 2014, saying there was “credible evidence that circumstances have changed” and that her parents “have been cooperative and engaged in services,” including individual therapy for the teen and family therapy.

Justina said that since returning home, she has undergone several surgeries and is “doing a lot better.” She said she rides horses to build strength and attends a school for children with learning disabilities.

“I just really, really want them to get what they deserve,” she said of the doctors at Children’s Hospital. “And I really, really want to walk again and skate.”


How about that smile, huh?!!

I love a happy ending (or was it?)!!


Fidel Castro to Obama: We don’t need your ‘presents’

Morales wants his money back.

"Israel confirmed that it has withdrawn the nomination of former West Bank settler leader Dani Dayan as ambassador to Brazil, caving in to what appeared to be Brazilian objections to his political past. Also Monday...."

Throws another little factor into what is happening in Brazil, doesn't it? 

Bad things seem to happen to governments, nations, and peoples that object to the conduct of Israeli administration.

50 years after war, local Vietnam veterans officially recognized

Did they restore their pensions?