Investors Leave Venezuela Meeting With No Clear Insight

Foreign investors walked a red carpet at a state palace Monday eager to hear strategies for reorganizing Venezuela’s billions in debt, but they left minutes later having learned no concrete plans to address the country’s financial crisis.


Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who headed the talks, used much of his time to rail against U.S. President Donald Trump and foreign lenders for leading what the government calls an “economic war” against this oil-rich nation.


But he also tried to assure creditors that debts will continue to be paid, echoing statements by President Nicolas Maduro that Venezuela has made more than $70 billion in debt payments since 2013.


“The state has fully honored its national and international commitments, especially with regard to external debt service,” El Aissami said in a televised broadcast. “Even with great sacrifice, we have paid every penny of our debt service.”


Those few investors who bothered to show up had few expectations for the meeting, which from the start was clouded in confusion.


Maduro invited investors to Caracas a little more than a week ago while announcing his goal of renegotiating a foreign debt that he said has become impossible to repay because of a U.S.-led financial “blockade” of the socialist-run country.


As Venezuela spent heavily on social programs under the late President Hugo Chavez, a time when global oil prices soared, its debt skyrocketed to over $120 billion, about half of which is in the form of dollar-denominated bonds. The drop in crude prices has ravaged the country that sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves, leading to widespread shortages amid triple-digit inflation.


Strained relations between Venezuela and the United States are compounding the situation.


The Trump administration has sanctioned a growing list of Venezuelan officials, including the government’s top two debt negotiators, Economy Minister Simon Zerpa and El Aissami. The vice president is accused of being a major drug trafficker.


Washington has also barred U.S. companies from lending new money to Venezuela because of human rights abuses committed during months of anti-government protests and Maduro’s efforts to squash the opposition.


But in a sign the Trump administration might be willing to soften its stance, the Treasury Department said last week that it would consider allowing Americans to deal in new debt if any restructuring plan was backed by Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress, whose authority has been steadfastly ignored by Maduro’s government.


Russ Dallen, managing partner of Caracas Capital Markets, said several U.S. investors he represents told him they wouldn’t bother attending. One said he couldn’t get a visa on such short notice and another reported planning to send an intern, citing the lack of information.


“You’d think they’d put it on the table and let you study it if there was some kind of proposal,” Dallen said. “There’s nothing. Just crickets.”


Also Monday, at an informal meeting to discuss Venezuela at the U.N. Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called Venezuela “an increasingly violent narco-state” that threatens the world.


Venezuela’s U.N. ambassador, Rafael Ramirez, responded by denouncing the session.


“This is a hostile act from the United States and an interference that violates the sovereignty principles of a country that is a member of the United Nations,” he told reporters.


In Brussels earlier in the day, the European Union banned arms sales to Venezuela and set up a system to slap asset freezes and travel restrictions on Venezuelan officials as it seeks to ramp up pressure on Maduro. The weapons ban would stop sales of military equipment that could be used for repression or surveillance of Venezuelans.

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US Budget Deficit Up Sharply to $63.2 Billion in October

The federal government began its new budget year with an October deficit of $63.2 billion, up sharply from a year ago.

The Treasury Department reported Monday that the October deficit was 37.9 percent higher than the $45.8 billion deficit recorded in October 2016.

Both government receipts and spending were up for the month, with receipts climbing 14.3 percent to $235.3 billion, a record for the month of October. The larger spending figure was up a sizable 11.6 percent to $298.6 billion.

The deficit for the 2017 budget year, which ended on Sept. 30, totaled $666 billion, up 13.7 percent from a 2016 deficit of $586 billion.

Many forecasters believe the deficit will rise higher in the current budget year, reflecting the impact of proposed tax cuts Congress is considering and hurricane relief.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated in June that the deficit for the current budget year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, would fall to $563 billion. However, that estimate did not include money for a tax cut being pushed by the Trump administration and GOP lawmakers. It also did not include increased spending to deal with three devastating hurricanes that have hit the U.S. mainland and territories.

Taking those developments into account, economists at JPMorgan Chase estimate that the deficit in the current budget year could climb to $675 billion, with the deficit in 2019 rising even higher to $909 billion.

Lawmakers passed a budget resolution that would provide for $1.5 trillion in additional deficits over the next decade to reflect the lost revenue from the pending tax cuts. The Trump administration contends the tax cuts will end up generating increased economic activity and will not be that expensive.

For October, the 11.2 percent rise in spending reflected an increase of $4 billion in spending by the Department of Homeland Security, with outlays rising from $4 billion in October 2016 to $8 billion last month, a jump that was attributed to higher spending for hurricane relief.

The 14.3 percent increase in revenues included a $12 billion increase in individual taxes, including payroll taxes for Social Security, compared to October 2016.

The government has run deficits in October for each of the past 64 years.

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Italy State Museums See Record Numbers of Visitors, Revenue

Italian state museums are on track for another record-setting year in 2017 in terms of visitors and revenue, with the outdoor Colosseum in Rome and Pompeii near Naples topping the Culture Ministry’s most-visited and most-lucrative list.

The ministry on Monday issued a three-year review of its revolutionary decision to bring in non-Italian directors for some of the gems of its national museum network, and to give the institutions greater autonomy. The results were significant: an 18.5 percent increase in the number of visitors nationwide from 2013-2016, and a 38.4 percent increase in revenue — or about 48.5 million — to 175 million euros last year.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the ministry’s reforms “are starting to bear fruit.” He praised a continued “radical inversion of trends,” with visitor numbers already up 9.4 percent and revenues up 13.5 percent in the first nine months of 2017.

With more UNESCO heritage sites than any other country, Italy’s outdoor cultural patrimony is one of its biggest draws — Rome’s Colosseum and Forum, the lagoon city of Venice and the Roman amphitheater of Siracusa to name a few. Fresco-filled churches and basilicas, many in quaint Medieval hilltop towns, are other favored tourist destination.

Traditional museums often play second fiddle to such extraordinary sites and frequently pale in comparison to their counterparts in world capitals in terms of multilingual labeling, educational activities and lucrative licensing opportunities.

Franceschini sought to change that by overhauling the museum system in 2014 and bringing in a handful of foreign directors: The German Eike Schmidt runs the Uffizi, British James Bradburne heads Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera and French Sylvain Bellenger runs the Capodimonte in Naples.

The Culture Ministry is responsible for 439 of Italy’s 4,834 museums, so a small fraction of Italy’s artistic, archaeological, historical museums. But it runs some of the most important ones.

Overall, the Colosseum was consistently the greatest draw over the last three years, with some 6.68 million visitors in 2016.

The Pompeii complex last year outpaced Florence’s Uffizi Gallery to take second place, after seeing a 37-percent increase in visitors in the 2013-2016 period.

But the greatest increase was registered by the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, which went from 11,500 visitors in 2013 to 210,598 last year — a 1,728-percent spike.

The exponential growth is thanks to a new home for the collection and new display space for the Riace Bronzes, two bronze nude males that are considered the best examples of classic Greek art. The bronzes, believed to date from the 5th century BC, were discovered in 1972 at the bottom of the Ionian sea.

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Last Document Signed by JFK in White House Up for Sale

The last document President John F. Kennedy signed in the White House is up for grabs in Philadelphia.

A rare documents dealer is selling a photograph that Kennedy autographed for an ambassador for $80,000.

Raab Collection President Nathan Raab says it’s “one of the finest and most powerful mementos” of the administration to reach the market.

On the morning of Nov. 21, 1963, Kennedy had breakfast with his children and arrived at his office under an hour before his flight to Texas. He met with Thomas Estes, ambassador to Burkina Faso, and Charles Darlington, ambassador to Gabon. It would be his last meeting in the White House.

Estes has recounted Kennedy handed him the photo and asked him to remain Washington until he returned from Texas so they could continue their conversation.

He then rushed out to depart for San Antonio.

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Trump Wrapping Up Asia Tour Dominated by North Korea, Trade

President Donald Trump is wrapping up 12-day, five-nation tour of Asia dominated by talks on the North Korea nuclear threat and bolstering trade.

After talks in Manila on Monday with the prime ministers of Australia and Japan, Trump promised to make a “major statement” on North Korea and trade when he returns to Washington this week. But he offered no details.

Trump’s meeting with Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull and Japan’s Shinzo Abe underscored the growing relationship between the three nations in the face of regional security issues. The top concerns include North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and countering China’s increasingly assertive maritime territorial claims.

“The key for us is to ensure very close trilateral cooperation so as to bring peace and stability on the ground,” said the Japanese leader, who has been displaying a united front against North Korea with Trump.

“We’ve got the same values and the same focus on ensuring that the North Korean regime comes to its senses and stops its reckless provocation and threats of conflict in our region,” Turnbull said. “Peace and stability have underpinned the prosperity of billions of people over many decades, and we’re going to work together to ensure we maintain it.”

Show of military force

A massive naval drill involving three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups was underway in western Pacific waters as a show of force.

The U.S. naval vessels and aircraft were joined by elements of the South Korean navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force.

The three leaders met on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit. Trump said “big progress” had been made on trade but he did not offer further details.

​Meeting with Duterte

Earlier Monday, the U.S. leader met with Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, who hosted the ASEAN summit. Trump said the two have “a great relationship” and described their talks as “very successful.”

A joint statement released by the U.S. and Philippines said the two leaders condemned Pyongyang’s “unlawful nuclear weapons and missile development” and urged all nations, including those in the region, “to voice their opposition to these threatening programs and to take steps to downgrade their diplomatic and economic engagement with North Korea.

During a joint appearance, reporters tried to query whether Trump had raised the issue of human rights with Duterte. Duterte, facing strong criticism from human rights groups internationally, replied, “Whoa, whoa. This not a press statement. This is the bilateral meeting.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said of the meeting between Trump and Duterte:  “The conversation focused on ISIS, illegal drugs, and trade. Human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs.”  

Duterte’s spokesman denied that.

“No, that issue was not raised,” Harry Roque said replying to a reporter’s question. “My understanding is he explained at length the Philippine policy on the war against drugs. And from the body language of the U.S. president, he seemed to be in agreement and he made an assurance that President Duterte has a friend in President Trump and he’s been an ally since he was elected into office.”

Sidestepping controversy

Earlier, as regional leaders gathered at a colorful ceremony to open the summit in Manila, Duterte sidestepped the controversy over his war on illegal drugs and its thousands of extrajudicial killings.

In opening remarks before the 17 other leaders at the summit’s plenary session, he called illegal drugs a “menace” that threaten “the very fabric of our society,” without mentioning methods of the response.

“I apologize for setting the tone of my statement in such a manner,” said Duterte. “But I only want to emphasize that our meetings for the next two days present an excellent opportunity for us to engage in meaningful discussions on matters of regional and international importance.”

The communique resulting from the talks is expected to announce that ASEAN will begin official negotiations for a code of conduct for the South China Sea, where several nations have conflicting territorial claims.

A number of countries have concerns about China’s increased militarization of disputed islands it controls.  

Anti-Trump protests

For a second day Monday several thousand militant protesters marched in Manila, clashing with riot police who responded with truncheons, water cannons and sonic alarms to keep the demonstration out of sight of the delegates at the ASEAN Summit, which is surrounded by a security cordon.  

Protesters burned an effigy of Trump on Monday. Some protesters pushed the police, organizer Renato Reyes told VOA News, who said “scores” of protestors had been injured and some had to be treated at an on-site clinic. The protesters shouted for Trump to leave and accused the United States, a former colonizer of the Philippines, of looking for overseas wars.

Local media reported 10 people were injured, including six police officers.

Trump has praised his hosts during the Asia tour, which included stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

 “It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever seen,” Trump told reporters.

Ralph Jennings and Kenneth Schwartz contributed to this report.

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World Leaders to Meet Under All-Female Co-Chair Team at Davos 2018

The next World Economic Forum of world leaders and CEOs in Davos will be chaired by women including International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and IBM’s chief executive Ginni Rometty.

The seven co-chairs for the four-day event in January were announced in the face of criticism that the conference has in the past lacked female representation.

“Co-chairs… were chosen to reflect global stakeholders,” said a spokeswoman for WEF, adding the co-chairs were all leaders in their fields.

The co-chairs shape the program and lead discussions and panels. The theme of the 48th conference is to “explore the root causes of, and pragmatic solutions for, the manifold political, economic and social fractures facing global society,” WEF said.

WEF, in an annual report this month, found it will take another 217 years before women earn as much as men and have equal representation in the workplace, revealing an economic gap of 58 percent.

It is the second straight year the Swiss non-profit has recorded worsening economic inequality.

A typical representative of the more than 2,500 titans of industry and influence that each January descend upon the Alps has received the unofficial moniker of “Davos Man” — a sign of the further shift in representation and thinking still necessary to balance uneven gender dynamics.

Other co-chairs are Isabelle Kocher, head of French energy conglomerate Engie; Italian physicist and director general of the CERN particle physics research centre Fabiola

Gianotti; founder of the rural cooperative Mann Deshi Bank for women, Chetna Sinha; and International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Next year’s event will take place January 23-26, 2018.




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Комітет Генасамблеї ООН розгляне оновлену резолюцію щодо Криму – Джемілєв

У вівторок, 14 листопада, в рамках Третього комітету Генеральної асамблеї ООН має відбутися розгляд оновленої резолюції щодо прав людини в анексованому Росією Криму. Про це «Крим.Реалії» повідомив лідер кримськотатарського народу Мустафа Джемілєв, який вирушив до Нью-Йорка.

«У резолюції йдеться про грубі порушення прав людини на окупованій території, цього разу вона досить різка, там речі названі своїми іменами. Очікується, що в нас буде менше голосів, але для нас головне, щоб документ пройшов. Я думаю, документ усе ж пройде, там серед співавторів близько 30 держав – Євросоюзу, Канада, США», – сказав Джемілєв.

Він також зазначив, що крім засідання комітету, запланована низка заходів, зокрема, з іноземними журналістами.

У жовтні Україна внесла до секретаріату Третього комітету Генасамблеї ООН, який займається соціальними, гуманітарними й культурними питаннями, оновлену резолюцію щодо прав людини в Криму. У разі успіху під час розгляду, документ винесуть на Генасамблею.

У новому документі міститься вимога до Росії виконати тимчасові заходи наказу Міжнародного суду ООН про скасування заборони Меджлісу кримськотатарського народу й забезпечити навчання українською та кримськотатарською мовами.

Член комітету Держдуми Росії з міжнародних справ Сергій Железняк, коментуючи проект нової резолюції, заявляв, що документ може загрожувати суверенітету Росії.

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Фігуранту «справи кримських дезертирів» Одинцову продовжили арешт до 10 січня – адвокат

Дарницький районний суд Києва продовжив термін утримання під вартою Максиму Одинцова, якого звинувачують у дезертирстві і державній зраді, до 10 січня. Про це в коментарі сайту «Крим.Реалії» повідомив адвокат Одинцова Валентин Рибін.

«Одинцову продовжили арешт до 10 січня. Також сьогодні відбувся допит одного зі свідків. Наступне засідання відбудеться 21 грудня о 13:30», – сказав Рибін.

Валентин Рибін був одним із адвокатів російських військових Олександра Александрова та Євгена Єрофеєва, яких у квітні 2016 року обміняли на українську військову Надію Савченко.

Максима Одинцова і його товариша по службі Олександра Баранова затримали 20 листопада 2016 року на адміністративному кордоні з Кримом у «буферній зоні» поруч із пропускним пунктом «Чонгар». СБУ стверджує, що обидва кримчанина 2014 року перейшли з української армії до російської, чим порушили дві статті Кримінального кодексу України – вчинили держзраду й дезертирство.

Російська влада розцінює затримання Баранова й Одинцова як «викрадення» своїх військовослужбовців. Слідчий комітет Росії відкрив у зв’язку з цим кримінальну справу.

Процес у «справі кримських дезертирів» розпочався в Києві 7 лютого. Справу Максима Одинцова слухають у Дарницькому райсуді Києва, а іншу справу колишнього українського військового Олександра Баранова – в Подільському райсуді.

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Fashion Designer Exposes Domestic Servitude in India’s ‘Sunshine State’

When celebrated Indian fashion designer Wendell Rodricks sat down to write his third book, haute couture was not on his mind.

He was thinking about his neighbor Rosa — an elderly woman who had lived her life as a poskem — adopted as a child by a wealthy family in the western Indian state of Goa, given their family name but condemned to a lifetime of domestic servitude.

Rodricks’ new novel, “Poskem: Goans In The Shadows,” is a fictional tale of four people caught up in a Goan tradition that finally appears to be dying out in the 21st century.

Rodricks writes of an unspoken world of the last generation of people who fell victim to the poskem tradition, preserving their story for posterity, the publisher’s note states.

The author, a Goan himself, describes it as “the sunshine state’s dark secret.”

“The worst part of being a poskem… was that the entire village knew of these people and did not treat them with respect,” Rodricks told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Alda, the protagonist of the book inspired by the real-life Rosa, discovers she is different from the other children in the house when she is 10.

While her six “siblings” went to school, she did household chores, and while they ate from porcelain plates, she ate in the kitchen with the servants.

“Poskem has so many emotions — incest, sodomy, rape, seduction, love, hate, murder. But all this happened in reality,” Rodricks said at the book’s launch in India’s southern city of Chennai.

India’s 2011 census recorded more than 4 million laborers aged from five to 14 years old.

In Goa, one of India’s top tourist destinations, poskem were normally from poor families or illegitimate children, Rodricks said.

“They were taken into a family, given the family name, introduced to a religion but, for the most part, not given equal treatment like the other siblings in the house,” he said.

“Very often they had no right to property and were even selfishly denied marriage so that the family could keep them in lifelong servitude.”

Rodricks said his mother’s family had a poskem, but he did not know the meaning of the word when he was young. He first understood what it meant in his twenties and later got to know more when he settled down in Goa and Rosa was his neighbor.

“The book is an apology to all the men and women who lived their lives as poskem in a 200-year-old tradition that has been rarely questioned,” he said.

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Штаб: бойовики стріляли 14 разів, поранені двоє військовослужбовців

Штаб української воєнної операції на Донбасі заявляє, що підтримувані Росією бойовики від початку доби і до 18-ї години понеділка 14 разів відкривали вогонь у напрямку українських військ. Як йдеться в повідомленні штабу на сторінці у Facebook, унаслідок бойових дій поранень зазнали двоє українських військовослужбовців.

«Під вогонь з піхотного озброєння потрапили оборонці Авдіївки, Пісків, Мар’їнки та Старогнатівки, а поблизу Новотроїцького наші позиції обстрілював снайпер. Також у районі Маріуполя ворог випустив близько двох десятків мін калібру 120 і 82 міліметри по захисниках Водяного», – повідомили українські військові.

Згідно з даними штабу, обстріли сьогодні також тривали поблизу Луганського, Лопаскиного, Троїцького, Кримського та Зайцева.

Раніше сьогодні у прес-центрі штабу АТО повідомили про 33 випадки порушення режиму перемир’я за минулу добу з боку підтримуваних Росією бойовиків.

В угрупованні «ДНР» звинуватили українських військових у 40 обстрілах за минулу добу, луганські сепаратисти заявили, що українська сторона 10 разів стріляла в бік підконтрольних угрупованню «ЛНР» територій.

Черговий режим припинення вогню, про який заявила 23 серпня Тристороння контактна група, мав почати діяти з 25 серпня, напередодні початку шкільного року, і стати постійним. Про перші його порушення сторони заявили вже через кілька хвилин після настання часу перемир’я.

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про уродов и людей