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Archive for the ‘Financial news’ Category

 A bit of common sense indeed:

[...] The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to prohibit any aid to Saudi Arabia as lawmakers accused the close ally of religious intolerance and bankrolling terrorist organizations. The prohibition, reflecting persistent tensions with the kingdom after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, was attached to a foreign aid funding bill for next year that has not yet been debated by the Senate. It also faces a veto threat from the White House because of an unrelated provision. [...]

Saudi Arabia propagates terrorism. We all know that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi,” said Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Nevada Democrat. She added that Saudi youths had entered Iraq to “wage jihad” against U.S. forces fighting there. Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born leader of the al Qaeda group that carried out the September 11 attacks, was expelled from the kingdom in 1991 for anti-government activities.

 [...] Lawmakers also complained that with Saudi Arabia’s vast wealth from oil revenues, U.S. taxpayers do not need to subsidize training Saudis. “With poor countries all over the globe begging us for help, why are we giving money to this oil-rich nation?” Berkley said.

House Bans Aid To Saudi Arabia :: Middle East News and Perspectives :: Hyscience

King Juan Carlos should be learning from this.

And of course, if later Bush vetoes this, he would make the error of his life.

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His return to Aranjuez, prison in which he was till March 1st, happens a day after the ETA’s announcement of the end to ceasefire. The terrorist band’s statement has not been alien to the measure applied to De Juana,who only a week ago was asking to be freed and go back to his house in a soft prison regime which had been granted to him last February.
But yesterday, after ETA’s statement was known, Interior Minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, assured that De Juana “in any case” was going to be given the soft prison-home regime, as has been speculated this last days.

ABC.es – De Juana Chaos ingresa en prisión al desaparecer “el riesgo para su vida”.

The Interior Minister has tols to leftist Radio Cadena SER, this Wednesday: “Circumstances have changed”. That is they have changed again. They changed when the State General Prosecutor asked his subordinates to take into account “the new situation” about ETA dialogue. And now they also change –but not 6 months ago, with the murder of Palate and Estacio–, because of the [supposed] pacts’ end. The minister Bermejo spoke in advance about this last change and Rubalcaba has confirmed it, sending De Juana back to prison. The T-4 terrorist attack [where both Palate and Estacio were killed] was no more than a “tragic accident” for the Government.

Libertad Digital: Rubalcaba justifica el regreso a prisión de De Juana: “Las circunstancias han cambiado”

The main problem is they are not underlining, not even telling us, what circumstances have changed now. That without considering that laws are not changed only by a change in circumstances. There are procedures to be met to change them. smile_angry

But for the Government and Socialist party, the culprits are not ETA terrorists -who are no more than poor communists a little bit confused- nor the Government -who has been kissing their asses repeatedly for the last year-. The culprit, of course, is the Popular Party, that is the only one who opposed to the ETA’s negotiation.

At the same time, Real Madrid has asked for special security measures. Something very clever specially considering what is the area in which it’s more probable to have a terrorist attack now.

Jesús Cacho in El Confidencial.com:

ETA has not surprised anyone. Who has again surprised till the shame has been Rodríguez Zapatero. According to his statement this morning [he is writing about yesterday's statement by the President], ETA is again wrong, not him. Without any autocritic, without any kind of rectification or correction intent, his statement has all the ingredients of the so-called “Alicia way-of-thinking” [this is a line of thought which is referred to Alicia in Wonderland]: “Spanish society has shown that its pain does not weaken its strength” And??? Even more serious than anything, because it shows the precarious intellect of the President, is when he says “Basques future depends on themselves”, an statement which makes dissapear something so elemental as is, according Spanish Constitution’78, that the sovereignty of Spanish nation resides in the Spanish people as a whole and not in Basques, Galicians or people from Murcia considered isolated from the rest.

So it would be ALL Spanish people the ones who, as the holders of Spanish sovereignty, the ones who should say what they want to do with Spain, Basque Country included. It’s obvious that Zapatero has not given to the terrorist band everything the latter demanded, because if not, we would be speaking about Basque’s independence. But it is equally obvious that the independence was the final step of this negotiation, the target that the band wanted to acquire as they decided to attend all the calls that Zapatero’s aides gave them since the moment he was named President. And it is obvious that the band has not abandoned any of its objectives, has not renounced to violence, has continued demanding the revolutionary tax, defying the State of Law, rearming itself

Prevost: ZP The Hard: Chaos comes back to Madrid. smile_teeth

Batiburrillo:

As it’s normal it was a trap ceasefire, with an evident objective: rearming itself, to recover economical means and to form its integrants. The first one in pointing it out as PP ex-Interior Minister, now in European Parliament, Mayor Oreja. All the things have happened as he told since the first moment of the ceasefire: from the first one till the last. “With ETA there is no possible negotiation, this is another trap truce”, he said on several occasions. PSOE members called him names back then.

Aquiles, as ever writes a very good post about the end of the truce who really did not exist.

Pandemonio criticizes the leftist journalists (and bloggers) who do not know what to say about the truce’s end.

Outside Spain there have been bloggers who have written about the ETA’s truce’s end: EURSOC, Gateway Pundit and Outside the Beltway. The latter writes:

Interesting, as I had at one point thought that 9/11 and the 7/11 Madrid bombing might have taken the political viability out of political violence for ETA.

Well, in fact the political violence has never dissapeared: business obliged to give the revolutionary tax, the deads of the T4 terminal, the repeated attacks on PP, PSOE and Basque Nationalist Party members during past elections, all the weapons stolen from a French factory after kidnapping its owner’s family… I don’t think that’s taken the political viability out of political violence. The reason? in Zapateroland the violence gives you political strenght as a result from negotiation. Unfortunately

Victoria Prego h/t Disculpen las molestias.

Spanish people have never denied their Government its citizen support to confront murderers. And they can do it again. Another thing is the trust that Zapatero can give the citizens in this hour. He can always gain it.

For my part, it’s very difficult to support him as this stage: the term has been entirely a mess. Both international and national politics are not focused on important things, such as the next economical crisis, which could become a reality next autumn, specially caused by lower expectations related with the building market.

The trust is Zapatero is so low big at this stage that there are people considering that even the truce’s end is a result of the negotiation and that they are just preparing to stage the next step in the negotiation. Zapatero wants to win the next elections and a hard stand towards ETA now, can give him the votes he needs.

Portuguese blog O Insurgente also wrote about this.

Como se previa, de nada serviu a política de apaziguamento levada a cabo pelo governo de Zapatero. É também provável que a ETA tenha aproveitado este periodo para se reorganizar e reamar (recordam-se da armas apreendidas em França?).

“As was forseen, the appeasement policies of Zapatero were worth nothing. And it also proves that ETA has used this period for reporganising and rearming itself (do we remember the stolen weapons in France?).

There is something I should say though: I’ve been surprised because all of them called ETA terrorists by their name: TERRORISTS. Something which I must thank after reading international MSM which named them as separatists as the hardest name of all (CNN called them separatists and BBC independentists smile_cry Well, considering that Iraqi terrorists for this MSM are insurgents, I really think we can thank God for not reading they have written freedom fighters instead).

UPDATE: You should read what JM Guardia aka Barcepundit has written for Pajamas Media.

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If some weeks ago we saw that Google was urged to clean up YouTube’s Copyright Troubles, now the Association of American Publishers are also suing them:

“The publishing industry is united behind this lawsuit against Google and united in the fight to defend their rights,” AAP President and former Colorado Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder said in a statement. “While authors and publishers know how useful Google’s search engine can be and think the Print Library could be an excellent resource, the bottom line is that under its current plan, Google is seeking to make millions of dollars by freeloading on the talent and property of authors and publishers.”

This comes after Google removed 20.549 videos from YouTube (Spanish), after being sued by a Japanese holding who defends the rights of the authors, because of an infraction related with intelectual property (here in English from BBC, here from PC World and here from Tail Rank).

In Spain, SGAE (General Society for Authors and Editors) is planning to install a new tax on every hard disk (link in Spanish)-whether they are on computers or not- that you purchase just in case you are going to copy protected material in them. Tribunals have issued sentences against the old canon (link in Spanish)in which the hard disks and other high capacity devices were not included. SGAE won [not earned] €29 millions only in 2004 and it increased 30% in 2005. The percentage is decided on average estimations on what would the normal share of clients using those means to archive forbidden material. There are a lot of campaigns  and on line petitions against the canon in internet.

Básicamente lo que pasa es que Google después de haber sido obligada a retirar casi 30.000 vídeos de YouTube por la SGAE Japonesa, ahora ha sido demandada también por la Asociación americana de Editores, debido a su nuevo proyecto que intentaba subir a Internet los libros de diferentes universidades. Los editores quieren dinero a cambio de la millonada que se va a llevar Google.

En cuanto a España, como seguimos a vueltas con el canon de la SGAE, aquí teneis un vídeo de traca que he encontrado en Internet… smile_teeth

Aquí teneis el link del video.

UPDATE: Javier de la Cueva from Derecho de Internet points me another sentence which is more recent that the one I pointed to above, in fact, from Sept 26th, 2006. The Judge failed to recognise his rights to the consumer but later the Provincial Audience has revoked that, recognising againthose rights.

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Some months ago, I posted a summary of the AFINSA scandal. It was nothing more than a summary of what had happened. I did not have an opinion of the case, but I wanted to know what had happened.

Well, an affected from the case wrote a coment in which he copied he letter the affected people are going to send to EU. Just go here and read it (it’s in English). It is very interesting. So were there Government’s passivity and they acted because they have other problems to hide or just because it was necessary?

I have my own opinion, but I will prefer you all to comment on this. The volume of affected people and of money involved makes necessary this scandal does not fail into oblivion.

Hace unos meses escribí sobre el escándalo AFINSA. Un lector víctima del fraude que supusieron AFINSA y Fórum Filatélico escribió un comentario en el blog en el que reproducía la carta que los afectados habían mandado a Bruselas. En ella, los afectados hacen notar que ninguna de las dos empresas habían dejado de pagar sus obligaciones, pero que estas fueron inmediatamente suspendidas después de la intervención del Gobierno, la Agencia Tributaria y fuerzas policiales muy armadas.

También señalan que han acusado a las empresas por delitos muy graves tales como lavado de dinero, transferencia de dinero a paraísos fiscales, sellos falsos, mala administración, etc. pero que ninguno de estos delitos, aparentemente, fue detectado con anterioridad.

Asimismo, aluden a la campaña mediática que rodeó a la intervención: TV y medios afines al Gobierno estaban allí antes para informar sobre la intervención. Tanto los empleados como los clientes creyeron que se estaba buscando a etarras.

Señalan también la proximidad de la intervención con otros problemas “vergonzantes” para el Gobierno y los créditos a fondo perdido que han obtenido los socialistas para su campaña. También consideran que esta campaña ha beneficiado a los grandes bancos que no querían tanta competición por parte de otras inversiones mucho más lucrativas.

Critican a los administradores puestos por el Gobierno, que, mientras les dicen que las empresas están al borde de la quiebra, se han fijado unos salarios altísimos. También al Presidente del Gobierno español, Zapatero, de quien dicen que tiene sueños de grandeza y quién dijo a los afectados que tuvieran confianza. Y a Borrell y a Elena Salgado, que firmaron en el libro de honor. La actual ministra de Sanidad y Consumo, entonces Directora de Correos, escribió “para que los españoles ahorren más en sellos”.

Los afectados han intentado hablar con el Defensor del Pueblo europeo, pero su oficina les ha dicho que no atienden este tipo de problemas. Por eso, se dirigen a la Unión Europea como último recurso.

Así que ¿hubo pasividad del Gobierno y este actuó simplemente porque tenía otras cosas que tapar o bien porque no había más remedio? Yo tengo mi opinión, pero prefiero que digais las vuestras. Tanto el volumen de personas como de dinero implicado hace necesario que no caiga en el olvido.

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You remember that recently Google acquired YouTube. Well, now Google is urged to cleanup YouTube’s Copyright Troubles.

Google could make big money on advertising in the purchase of YouTube, but that potential won’t be realized unless the search engine giant cleans up the copyright violations on the online video site, an analyst firm says.

Right Voices has more.

You also remember that Google has made a special censored version of the search engine for Chinese users. Well, looks like that is making the giant firm lose market share:

When Google decided to offer a censored Chinese search engine it caused an outcry among the free-speech movement in the US who wondered what the company who had “Do no evil” as a motto was up to. Chinese internet users were equally puzzled, as they saw no reason to visit the censored Google, since they preferred the uncensored one. smile_wink [Chinese people are more intelligent that is clear...]

Two recent surveys indicated the US search engine has lost about one third of its market. While the domestic search engine Baidu was already a market leader in eyeballs, those were perceived less valuable than the group of relatively older, better educated and better-earning users of Google. The new research indicates that Google has been wiped away in its key markets in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

Como ya sabreis Google ha comprado YouTube. De lo que no se ha hablado mucho, sin embargo, es de los problemas de copyright que va a tener Google. YouTube aloja muchos videos piratas por los que algunas empresas ya habían iniciado acciones contra ella. Ahora, al convertirse en una parte del “imperio Google”, las van a dirigir contra ella.

Pero ese no es el único problema: Google había sacado una versión censurada de su motor de búsqueda y al parecer esa es la causa de una fuerte caída en su uso en China. Los usuarios chinos de Internet prefieren la versión no censuradá así que se han pasado en masa al motor de la competencia Baidu. El motor censurado ha sido echado del mercado en mercados principales como Shanghai, Pekín o Guangzhou y ha perdido más de la tercera parte de su cuota anterior.

Google se lo tiene muy merecido.

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From The Financial Times

The time European consumers spend online has, for the first time, overtaken the hours they devote to newspapers and magazines, a study revealed. [this is not rare: I mean, the level most newspapers and magazines -ugghhh- have here is totally disgusting. Most of them have large sections of "cotilleo", that is, of gossiping about the personal life of famous stupid people. I am not going to write about television, because that is even more depressing...]

But the growth of new media is expanding total media consumption rather than simply cannibalising print and television.

Print consumption has re-mained static at three hours a week in the past two years, as time spent online has doubled from two to four hours. Viewers are also spending more time watching television, up from 10 hours to 12 a week. [I am sure that blogging has a little responsibility for this...]

The Jupiter Research survey of more than 5,000 people in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain shows that Europeans’ use of the internet is still behind the rates seen in the US. A similar study by Jupiter of US habits found that Americans now spend 14 hours a week online – as much time as they spend watching television – and just three hours reading print. [I can only say ;) ]

However, the rapid spread of fast broadband internet connections in Europe is likely to accelerate the trend. The average time spent online by broadband customers in Europe was seven hours a week, compared with two hours for those with dial-up connections.

Por primera vez, los consumidores europeos emplean más tiempo en internet que en leer periódicos y revistas (lo que no me extraña nada :P ). Esto, sin emabrgo, no significó que se disminuyera la lectura de periódicos o las horas dedicadas a la televisión, si no que, se incrementó las horas dedicadas al consumo de comunicación (seguro que los blogs han contribuido a esto…).

Sin embargo, el uso de intenet por parte de los europeos (sobre todo, email y búsquedas) está todavía lejos del nivel de USA. Pero la rápida expansión de conexiones de banda ancha en Europa puede acelerar esta tendencia.

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From Wired News:

Internet search leader Google is in talks to acquire the popular online video site YouTube for about $1.6 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Mountain View-based Google and San Mateo-based YouTube are still at a sensitive stage in the discussion, the newspaper reported on its website.

The blog TechCrunch had reported on rumors of the acquisition talks. Representatives from Google and YouTube did not immediately return calls to The Associated Press.

We will see what happens with censorship in YouTube, that has been somewhat normal nowadays. Also it has been a normal policy of Google.

By a comment in this blog, I was informed of a campaign -I had forgotten :( – of Amnesty International, about the role of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! in China: Undermining Freedom of Expression in China.

While the use of information and communications technology to suppress dissent has been documented in many countries, it is the example of China that has generated the most public and political concern internationally.

In part this is because the apparatus of Internet repression is considered to be more advanced in China than in any other country, and in part because of the willingness of Internet hardware and software companies to cooperate with the Chinese government in their quest to develop a large and lucrative market.

The control the Chinese authorities maintain over their citizens’ right to freedom of expression and information is continuing and pervasive. This has put the spotlight on the contribution of Internet companies such as Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google to China’s efforts to maintain such control and restrict fundamental freedoms. In assisting the Chinese administration by complying with its censorship demands, these companies are seen to be facilitating or sanctioning the government’s efforts to control the free flow of information. They thereby contravene established international norms and values, and compromise their own stated principles.

International concern regarding the role of US companies in China’s Internet censorship policy has led the US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations to hold a joint hearing of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations and the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

Among the parties that provided testimony, views were expressed that US Internet companies, including Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google, have colluded with the Chinese authorities, undermining their self-proclaimed corporate values, as well as the human right to freedom of expression and information. Although there are other Internet companies worthy of investigation for involvement and assistance in the Chinese government’s Internet censorship, as well as the suppression of dissent, the focus of this report is limited to Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google.

All three companies have, in one way or another, facilitated or colluded in the practice of censorship in China. Yahoo! has provided the Chineseauthorities with private and confidential information about its users.This included personal data that has been used to convict at least two journalists, considered by Amnesty International to be prisoners of conscience. Microsoft has admitted to shutting down a blog on the basis of a government request. Google has launched a censored version of its international search engine in China. All three companies have demonstrated a disregard for their own internally driven and proclaimed policies. They have made promises to themselves, their employees, their customers and their investors which they failed to uphold in the face of business opportunities and pressure from the Chinese government. This raises doubts about which statements made by these organisations can be trusted and which ones are public relations gestures.

Of the three companies, Google has come closest to acknowledging publicly that its practices are at odds with its principles, and to making a commitment to increase transparency by informing users in China when a web search has been filtered. Although there are many other transparency options that the company should consider, these are welcome first steps.While each of Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google may be considered to be complicit in the Chinese government’s denial of freedom of information, Yahoo!’s actions have, in particular, assisted the suppression of dissent with severe consequences for those affected. The company allowed its Chinese partner to pass evidence to the authorities that was subsequently used to convict individuals, at least two of whom received long prison sentences for peacefully exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression.

Thus Yahoo! appears to have failed to honour its responsibility to ensure that its own operations and those of its partners are not complicit in human rights abuses. This is in breach of widely recognised international human rights principles for companies

El líder de las búsquedas en Internet, Google, va a adquirir el sitio de vídeos de YouTube, por aproximadamente 1.6 billones de dólares, según ha informado el Wall Street Journal, aunque las conversaciones están todavía en un momento sensible.

Veremos si esto incrementa o disminuya la censura que se respira en Youtube y en Google. Hay que señalar que Amnistía Internacional presentó un informe sobre cómo Google, Yahoo! y Microsoft habían cambiado sus políticas para complacer al Gobierno chino en sus demandas de límites a la libertad de expresión.

UPDATE: According to Financial Times, there are several suitors pursuing YouTube. Among others, FT points to Ruphert Murdoch, from News Corp (owner of Fox News, for example).

Warner is also interested in YouTube: Warner Music

has agreed to make its library of music videos available to YouTube, marking the first time that an established record company has agreed to distribute its content through the user-generated media company.

Under the agreement, YouTube users will have full access to videos from Warner artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna. They will also be permitted incorporate material from those videos into the clips that they create and upload to YouTube. Warner and YouTube will share advertising revenue sold in connection with the video content.

No sólo Google quiere comprar YouTube: el periódico Financial Times apunta a Rupert Murdoch como otro de los intereados.

Por otra parte Warner Music va a empezar a distribuir los videos de sus artistas en YouTube, pudiendo los usuarios, no sólo verlos si no modificarlos y volverlos a colgar del sitio de descarga.

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Two tech news

Yahoo! Search is going to be pre-installed as the default search engine in all HP computers. This comes after Yahoo! has also signed a similar agreement with Acer. HP computers has an approx. share of 15% (19% on the US market and 16% in Europe), while Acer is now the 4th producer of computers, with a market share of 5%. Yahoo! will be offered in a fortnight to nearly 20% computers in the world.

These two agreements come as an answer to the one that Google and Dell made last May. Dell has 17% of the world market and more than 20% of US market.

The third in this war is Microsoft and its search engine MSN Search, which sees, with each of these agreements, how its market share vanishes a little more.

The second tech news is about Google Reader, Google’s web RSS reader, being launched with a new design and with new characteristics. If you are a Gmail user, you can launch it, pressing at the top left of your screen, “all my services” and then Reader. [Comment: I have encountered a problem. GR makes it easy to send each news with Gmail... Well, er... no. When you press the appropriate button, the program encounters an error and just stops.]

Yahoo! ha llegado a un acuerdo con HP para preinstalar su motor de búsqueda en todos los ordenadores como el preferido por el usuario, lo mismo que ya hizo con la marca Dell. Estos acuerdos se enmarcan en la lucha por la cuota de mercado con Google, que llegó a un acuerdo parecido el pasado mayo con Dell, y Microsoft, que ve como disminuye la cuota de mercado de su propio buscador MSN Search.

Para los que teneis Gmail, ha llegado la nueva generación del Google Reader, su lector de RSS, con nuevo diseño y características. Podeis iniciarlo pinchando -una vez en Gmail- a la izquierda arriba en donde pone “todos mis servicios” y luego en Reader.

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But not ANY share: the ones which the Spanish Bilbao-Vizcaya Argentaria Bank manages, from the oil companies. Of course, he is not going to pay for it. The Bolivian VicePresident García Linera has announced it saying that “if in three days BBVA and Zurich Financial Service do not handle them the shares, their offices will be intervened, as clear as that“.

BBVA and Zurich Financial Service are not the owners but the institutions who are managing the funds who owns the shares. These shares are from the Argentinian Andina, owned by Spanish-Argentinian Repsol-YPF; Transredes, owned by US Enron and Anglo-Dutch Shell; and Chaco, owned by British Petroleum.

García Linera -left- is a very interesting fellow. Some days ago, he asked the social movements and the Indian communities to arm themselves and to defend with their lifes the nationalization policy“, remembering at the same time, his past as guerrilla fighter, “to defend the natural resources of Bolivia“.

From Wikipedia, this is his life:

He graduated from Colegio San Agustin. Then, he studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and became a mathematician. Returning to his native Bolivia, he attempted to put some of his long-held socialist ideals to practice and joined the Katarist “Ayllus Rojos”, a series of experimental, Marxist-inspired native communities in northwestern Bolivia. When this attempt at grass-roots politics failed to come to fruition, Garcia Linera opted for a more radical approach. Alongside Felipe Quispe, he organized and worked, mainly as an ideologist, in the insurgent Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army. After being caught destroying electrical distribution towers in rural La Paz, he was arrested and charged with insurrection and terrorism. While imprisoned without trial, he studied sociology. After his release he worked as a university professor, political analyst, and news commentator. He was a well known academic, known for his support of indigenous and left-wing political movements in South America (in spite of his upper-middle class upbringing). He was elected vice president as the running mate Evo Morales in the 2005 Bolivian presidential elections.

Very interesting: from Marxist to an “insurgent Army” in spite of his upper-middle class upbringing. But in the conflict lived between the members of the Government, he is the visible head of the “moderates”, who want a “multicultural Bolivia and to maintain the institutional model“, while Morales is more populist, radical and is patronising a much more hostile discours again the people who traditionally has been governing the country.

But the real situation of Bolivia is worsening: there is a serious collapse of the transport system, caused by demonstrations and blockings, which have caused severe problems to exports, especially to Chile and Peru. This has benefited the offensive by the opposition led by the rich regions of the country.

As I wrote some months ago, it won’t be the last.

UPDATE: Looks liks a civil war in Bolivia can be the result of this kind of politics. Bolivian bloggers are writing about it. MABB and Ciao! are writing about a report of Argentinian think-tank Stratfor in which they say there is a 50% chance that a civil war breaks out in Bolivia. More on Publius Pundit and Sonitus.org. BlogBis has an Argentinian perspective of this worrying news.

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Forum offered credits to their clients to buy the stamps, although the plans also served for paying the mortgages -in Spain most people have mortgages-. Finance Minister, Pedro Solbes denied on March 17th, that these kind of credits had a “financial nature”, what would have risen the supervision from both Spanish Central Bank and the National Assets Market Commision (CNMV) and also the guarantees to the investors, who would have had a Deposit Fund. He had denied that cualification when the firms assured a yearly minimum interest of 5-6.5%, which was qualified by the experts of the Tax Bureau -dependant from the Financial and Economy Ministry- as a “financial activity“.

Wikipedia explains this much more clearly:

As with equity investment, investment in tangible goods is not protected by a mandatory warranty fund under Spanish law (available only to registered financial institutions, which allowed the victims of the earlier Banesto and Gescartera scandals to recover a small part of their assets). Such investment is overseen by the Consumption departments of the regional governments instead of the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores. Customers of Afinsa affected by the situation have formed several associations, as have customers of Forum.

As the majority owner of NASDAQ traded company Escala Group, the scandal deeply affected Escala’s share price, which plummeted more than 85% in the days after the arrests before recovering slightly.

They went up again after (103%) the Spanish authorities assured Escala was not affected.

The Times:

Investors were told they may not recover their money after the raids. Afinsa is not registered as a financial institution and is not subject to the same regulatory guidelines affecting other companies. Under Spanish law, Afinsa simply acts as an intermediary to buy investments for its clients.

As a result investors are not entitled to the same standard of protection as if they had bought shares or put their money in a bank.

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the Interior Minister, said yesterday the police operation was important and had been carried out with the co-operation of some of the alleged victims.

Feelings were running high among worried investors outside the companies’ offices. One investor, who gave his name as Felix, protested outside the offices of Fórum Filatélico in Madrid. He had looked forward to cashing in profits from his stamp investment when he retires in August. “My whole life is here,” he said. “Clearly I am nervous, but this is not the only reason. My wife is going to kill me. She wanted to take my money out of the company.” Another investor, called Roberto, said: “I have put a lot of money into this. This could ruin my life. I want my money back now.”

PP has accused the Government of leaving the affected unprotected. But Elena Salgado, Minister of Health and Consumption, has denied the consitution of a Fund, which was requested by PP and the affected, because “it would be unjust, because it would mean that the contributors ahould be ready to finance the haigher risk united to a higher interest rate these inversions have“. This proposal has been critisized hardly because of the conception of State that this happens to be based upon: a nanny State who provides about everything. The affected people have demonstrated in front of Central Offices of PSOE in Madrid.

More than 350.000 people are affected because of this fraud, who were eager to invest, as the rate was, in some cases between 14 and 16%, when the normal rates in other pension plans were 7,22%. The total compromised inversion was about the 10% of all the inversion in pensions plans at the end of 2005. The most affacted are people with very low income and self-workers, but the Government is going to give a very low payment for the affected people who are retired and do not have any other pension.

To pay the accumulated debt the Judges had to ask for help to determinate the real value of the stamps. But the operation is going to be difficult and if all the stamps they own are sold in the market, the price will fall completely as these two firms moved 80% of Spanish stamp’s market. Any of them determinated the value according to Edifil and Manfilsa’s catalogs. This has produced various abuses: Afinsa’s stamps have a value 10 times higher than the ones any other stamp collector would have payed for them.

The fact that the Financial Ministry had the proofs for the intervention of the societies 9 months ago and the proximity to the debate of the Statute of Catalonia and to the prosecution of 3 policeman for illegal detention of 2 PP militants -who had been accused of an inexistent aggression to Defense Minister Bono-made a lot of people guess this was not a mere “coincidence”. Although the Anti-Corruption prosecutor said that a lapse of 9 months is normal to ionvestigate this kind of cases, this margin was sufficient for Fórum to pick up 16.000 more investors. In the first report, the Tax Bureau pointed out that “the stamps were valued for more than 13 times its market value“. But the investigation went further to detect that the firms were destroying stamps for a total value of 5 million of euros and buying others for a much larger quantity than the ones accounted. Both are signs of a possible transfer of actives to foreign countries.

So the process for the liquidation of Afinsa has begun with the appointing of its administrators during this process. Afinsa’s ex-president and 3 of the members of the Management Council were freed.

And today it has begun the process for the liquidation of Fórum Filatélico, which has a financial hole of 2.700-3.400 millions of euros. The total compromises of the firm were between 3.500 and 4.200 millions of euros but its assets were only 410 millions. This is one of the causes of opposition to the provisional freedom of the ex-president of the company, Mr. Briones, now in prison, and other three members of the Mangement Council. They are accused of aggravated swindle, unloyal management, punishable bankruptcy, fraud against Public Treasury and money laundering -although it’s not clear this last one and they have risen the prohibition of the banks account’s disposal of several of the accused-.

The two of the have a “financial hole” of 4.166 euros, greater than the one discovered in Banesto in 1993.

The prosecutors have said that the firms were lying twice to the investors: first, when they were selling at prices much higher than real and then, by telling them, the rates came from a rise in their value, which was non-existent.

When Madrid is far the most affected city of all, Time.com choses Barcelona’s affected to finish its article with “I am ashamed to be Spanish“. As if Enron or Clearstream never existed eh???

And the Portuguese are worried about the scandal.

The bitter critics is for the Consumer’s Associations who did not make any move till today, when they are demanding the affected investors to affiliate themselves and, as a result to pay the respective fee.

Libertad Digital asks other questions. Among others:

  1. Why Socialist Minister Rubalcaba filtered this operation when the offices of the firms had not even begun?
  2. Why if the auditors alerted about some irregularities in Afinsa’s documents and the assurance firm Lloyds did not renew the insurance policy, no one raised the alarm about the stamps’ value?
  3. Can two societies like Afinsa and Fórum set up a swindle that last 25 years without any authority taking notice of it?
  4. How on earth a firm whose objective is to attract savings is under the control of the Health and Consumer Ministry.

There are other obscure things in this case: never has any Autonomous Community renounced to a exclusive competence of the granted to them by the Constitution. Well, in this case they have.

Last news are that Escala Group is going to sue Spanish Government for unjustified alarm.

More information: The Guardian, Fox News, Think Spain, Forbes.com, Cinco Días,

Blogs treating this:

  1. ZP no es bueno: Gestynsa, the auditor firm of Afinsa, is owned by Francisco Blázquez Ortiz, father of Jorge Blázquez, who works with Miguel Sebastian, Chief of Economical Office of Mr Zapatero’s Government. Mr. Blázquez pressured the Institute of Accountancy and Business Administration (ICAC, in Spanish) not to begin any process -administrative- against Gestynsa.
  2. Nescencia Necat: the post about the scandal by an affected of it. Compares this scandal with RUMASA, holding expropriated to its owner, Ruiz Mateos.

 

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According to on-line newspaper El Confidencial Digital, the last operation of Spanish Judge Grande-Marlaska and French Judge Le Vert, against the extortion net of ETA, is going to provoke dificulties to ETA and its “surroundings” -I should say this is good-. ETA needs a lot of money, because it has to pay the leaders, the assassins and the detained and imprisoned members but also to the rest of the people who live of the terrorist band.

So the Government is searching for a solution to give the quantities that ETA needs to survive. [I say, NOT WITH MY MONEY].

So in the contact phase, someone from ETA said Mr Zapatero: “President, the ETA problem is solutioned with some few measures. But do not forget that this band needs money to survive. And we will have to camouflage the millions of euros that we need for this people to have means to live, because they do not know but to live of the extorsion“.

Well, just do not maintain them and let them disappear. They should learn to live as all the other people in this country. Peacefully and reasonably.

Julen Madariaga, the historical leader of ETA, the man who founded it and also detained by Grande-Marlaska, said: “We have a problem of survival. With 20 or 22 millions of euros till the end of 2007 we can try to go on living, because at our age, we cannot even have a job“.

This is the most despicable shameless person I have ever read. So as you cannot maintain yourself, you are asking for 20 or 22 millions of euros to the “oppresive State”, and to the same society who has lived throughout more than 30 years havng to cope with your murders! If you do not have money to live, go to charity and see if they can give you something. But of course, for a “manager” of ETA -that is the way he defines himself, as if ETA was a dolls’ firm-, this must be a difficult stage, eh?

[NOTE: El Confidencial Digital was the first paper who wrote about a policeman tipping ETA, something which is now under judicial investigation].

So the leader of the Basque Socialists, Patxi López -he had to change his name because his is really “Francisco”, but that did not sound enough nationalist :( – has said that “the dialogue with ETA must begun, even without PP” -that is good: PP is not going to take part in this mascherade- because “Zapatero has done everything required to sum up PP support and its about time to continue with this. I hope, though, that PP will finish by addind themselves to it“.

Zapatero by the way is going to ask this same week for the parliamentary support for beginning the dialogue with ETA terrorists. It is probable he will ask for it in the next parliamentary session on Wednesday. Vice-President, De la Vega, has said “the Government will fulfill all the compromises he has with all the political forces and will continue working with all the Democrats for the future “peace process”“.

So can we consider Batasuna as a political force? Mr Zapatero is trying to legalize it. If he has a compromise with Batasuna he has one with ETA, because Batasuna is the political wing of ETA.

Of course, Mr Zapatero has said that he is looking for a great political agreement, who will involve all the plurality of Euskadi. So the Constitution of 1978 is not valid, isn’t it? It’s curious that only Batsuna and ETA are not represented AFTER Batsuna was illegalised for praising the violence…

Judge Grande-Marlaska continues with the investigation of the extortion net by interviewing the businessmen who payed the “revolutionary tax”. They are accused of a crime of collaboration with armed band. The judge has also decreed freedom without fine, but with weekly appearences in court for Ignacio Aristizábal Aguirre.He also ordered inconditional prison for Jean Pierre Harocarene, aka “Txampiñón”, and José Carmelo Luquín, for alleged integration in armed band -that is, terrorist band-. Guess who are critizicing him? Nationalists and socialists.

I read the other day who was Harocarene, an anchorman of Cadena Ser -one of the MSM from leftist holding PRISA- and is terrifying really. Written by one of the councilman of Irún, Spanish-Basque city where the family of Harocarene lives, a letter tells about him that he shouted once and again “Gora ETA” -that is: “Long live to ETA”- and that he was related with ETA in his youth. And she continues:

But everyone can evolution and here people thinks: well, this is very unoffensive. I remember that in the bar his father owned in Benobia a Civil Guard was killed in the early 80’s and it was said they have informed the band where to find him.

And I remember also when Borja Sémper presented himself to Basque MP, he was terribly beaten in the street. The “youths” intended to kill him that way, but Borja was defended by some of his family who lived there. When one of his cousing entered the Harocarene’s bar to ask him to call the police, because if not Borja was going to be killed, he just said “Fuck him”.

We are asked now by PSOE to forget and to be generous, because if not we are vengeful and rancourous. More than we have already been? We have believed that the people would change and maintained a normal relationship. But we are informed at last that we have done all this to aid financially to your murderers for them to be succesful (Borja has survived to 3 frustrated attempts, and I have been alerted by the National Police that they were after me and have survived to the frustrated terrorist attack in Zarauz).

The National Court judges tomorrow ETA terrorist Celaya for the murder of a taxi driver 30 years ago. You know, taxi drivers in Spain are soooooooooooo important in the “repression of the State”, you have to kill them to finish it. Oh, what a bunch of idiots are the foreign journalists, such as the Christian Science Monitor -Raid on ETA shadows peace process with terror group-, Euronews – ETA puts pressure on Spanish government over talks-, Nouvel Observateur -ETA wants to negotiate peace-, etc. They do not see but the slogan “we have been fighting against Franco and for democracy“. Well, then why they have been killing people AFTER Franco’s death? And peace? Peace can only be built on justice.

Le Monde published on June 23rd a note saying “ETA wants to involve Paris in the political process” -take note: they do not call here “peace process”, but “political process”-. We have known that for some time. And it’s very important what the French policial forces say:

[They] remember the truce of 1998, which let ETA rebuild their killing power. “From a geopolitical point of view, ETA is in a war with France sice 40 years ago, but its priority was Spain. [that is, as Spanish people were killed, they were "freedom fighters" and we were not very interested, but now that they are menacing us directly, uuhuhuh, then we are much more interested.. .] The truce does not prevent them for rearming [ and they are going to use our taxes to pay them...]. And with the punishment’s reduction most of their activists will be out by 2010 [note: they are activists, not terrorists]

I beg your pardon, but I can only say Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

But it is even worse what the French leader of Batasuna says. I copy it:

“Là-bas, les discussions n’ont pas commencé il y a deux mois mais il y a deux ans, remarque Peio Etcheverry-Ainchart, porte-parole de l’organisation Abertzaleen Batasuna. La légalisation de Batasuna, la sortie des prisonniers gravement malades ou en fin de peine, le regroupement des autres, tout cela est déjà ficelé. Le vrai pas inédit serait l’évocation de l’autodétermination.”

Translation: “There, the discussions have not begun 2 months ago, but 2 years ago. The legalization of Batasuna, the exit of the ill prisoners or the ones just at the end of their punishment, the reagroupment of the prisoners, all of that is already tied up. The true step will be the evocation of the self-determination”.

So no compromises, eh? You’re no more than a bunch of liars.

The State of Justice in Spain, by Spanish cartoonist Mingote.

Lastly we have to congratulate the Catholic Church for the election of José Ignacio Munilla Aguirre, Basque priest, for Bishop of Palencia. He has distinguish himself in the fight against ETA terrorists, preaching in masses “corpore in sepulto” -that is, for people who are just going to be buried- for the ETA victims. Those are good news for all Spanish Catholic people. Just as me.

Sent to Mark My Words’ Open Monday Trackback.

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Read at La Razón:

The Council has 14 members -one of them is Aznar now- does not have executive powers and meets in any city of the world, although the central site is in New York. Its functions are mainly strategic, taking decisions on future perspectives.

Aznar is the first non-Anglo-saxon member and was proposed personally by Mr. Murdoch.

And Spanish people changed Mr Aznar for Mr Zapatero. There are days in which it’s better not to wake up…

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In a communiqué (PDF) sent by ETA, after yesterday’s detentions, ETA has also asked Spanish Government that “no legislation, Law order, or Consitution should be an obstacle for what the Basque country demands”. “ETA’s will and desire to reach, using dialogue and negotiation, a durable and just peace with Spanish State is total”, and “warns about the intents to mischief the Basque People”. Apàrt from the autodetermination, they are asking for Navarra’s annexation and the cease of the Judges acts against them, calling the measures taken against the ETA members as “exception and repressive” ones.

ETA has so much “will” and “desire” to reach a “durable and just peace” that ysterday 12 people were detained and can be acused of belonging to terrorist band and of catching funds for terrorist bands.

Rajoy has said that “a negotiation with Batasuna is against the EU rules”, as Batasuna is illegalised according to them. “Or is the President taking steps for it to be cleared from the list?”. Outside the Parliament, in the street, some hundreds of people have gone to protest against the President, in a march for the dignity of ETA vitims. They were gicing people white roses except to PSOE MPs that were given them stained with red ink. One has been given to Mr Zapatero, sating: “This is from Miguel Angel Blanco”. Prevost has told about it in his blog.

As a said yesterday, one of the detained is the founder of ETA, Julen Madariaga. If you read Spanish, just read this post by Spanish blogger, Fernando Díaz Villanueva. It’s worth it. Other detained is a journalist from Cadena SER (one of the MSM controlled by leftist holding PRISA), Jean Pierre Harocarene.

About the Catalonian Statute, both Aragón (ruled by PSOE) and the Balearic Islands (ruled by PP) are going to appeal it before the Constitutional Tribunal because of the appropiation Catalonia makes of the Archive of the Crown of Aragón, whose capital was never in Catalonia. (HT Librepensador racionalista).

Related links:

Sent to Beltway Traffic Jam.

[as ever, all links in Spanish, except the links to this blog]

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The EU is planning to stage a Eurovision-style song contest and organise cake-baking competitions, under a public relations offensive celebrating the 50th birthday of the EU next year.The celebrations are part of Brussels' drive to win the public's sympathy after French and Dutch citizens voted down the EU constitution last year, according to Reuters."We have big plans to make the EU more punter-friendly," one EU official told the agency.
The campaign begins this month with the launch of a competition to find a logo and slogan for the EU's 50th birthday.In 1957, the six founding member states of the EU established its predecessor, the European Economic Community, in the Treaty of Rome.The ultimate choice for the logo and slogan will be left to citizens in a popular vote, according to a document outlining the plans.
One highlight of next year's festivities will be an EU-wide song and dance party, proposed by Belgium, modelled along the Eurovision song contest, which enjoys huge popularity."We want to show the EU can dance," says the document, with live television coverage planned across the union.But new member states in particular are reportedly unhappy with the song and dance contest idea."They feel people are being forced to dance and sing, like they were by the communists," said one EU diplomat according to Reuters.

EUobserver.com

HT: Instinct de survie.

That is what the EU needs, of course. Another eurovision contest.Are they fool or just stupid? What we need is more investment, more competitivenes AND to clarify what is going to be our future. Not another idiotic Eurovision contest.

But all they are doing is asking for new subsidies. France are Italy are asking for it because of the "crisis distillation":

The stand-off is expected just before Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU’s agriculture commissioner, unveils her ideas for reform of EU wine subsidies. She said last month she would try to push through a “bold reform” to force the European wine sector to reduce capacity and help it regain market share from New World competitors such as Australia and Chile. The controversial system of crisis distillation, which cost the EU €180m ($233m, £123m) last year, will be one of the main reform targets.

A spokeswoman for Ms Fischer Boel said the high distillation demands made by France and Italy “merely reinforce why a radical reform is so important. It is a tool that was meant to be there for crisis but has become a depressingly regular feature of the regime over the last two years”.

Sent to 123 open trackback weekend.

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