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Hometown: City of Angels
Member since: 2001
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Santos says referendum will be held on peace deal regardless of FARC

President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday said a referendum would be held on a possible peace deal with Marxist FARC fighters, whether the rebels want a vote or not.

The FARC and the government have said they aim to sign a peace deal by March 23.

"Whatever gets signed in Havana, I will submit to a referendum vote, whether the FARC likes it or not," Santos said in a Twitter post.

The FARC's lead negotiator Ivan Marquez earlier in the day had said he was opposed to the idea.


Wonder what the basis of the FARC's opposition is to a referendum. It's the democratic way, isn't it? Let the people's voices be heard on the deal?

Legislatures consider special protections for gun industry

Source: AP

A terse letter from Andrew Clyde's credit card-processing company explained it was discontinuing his corporate account because his Georgia firearms business "no longer met our underwriting guidelines." In a panic, Clyde called three other companies, which denied him, too.

After hearing from Clyde and others in the gun business who reported similar treatment, the industry's trade association launched efforts in several Republican-led Legislatures over the past year seeking to restrict discrimination by financial institutions.

But the legislation being pushed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation wouldn't offer a blanket protection for all businesses — just those "engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms or ammunition products."

"You have to think that someone's targeting us," said Clyde, who is set to testify on Georgia's version of the bill during a legislative hearing Tuesday.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/legislatures-consider-special-protections-gun-industry-230402700.html

It will be interesting to see competing business interests and their armies of lobbyists duke it out in state legislatures. It may be corporations that end up muzzling the gun industry to reduce their risk exposure.

Venezuela Is About to Go Bust

Venezuela’s economy is facing a tsunami of bad news. The country is suffering from the world’s deepest recession, highest inflation rate, and highest credit risk — all problems aggravated by plunging oil prices. Despite all its troubles, though, until now Venezuela has kept making payments on its $100-billion-plus foreign debt.

That is about to end. In recent days a consensus has emerged among market analysts: Venezuela will have to default. The only question is when.

A Venezuela meltdown could rock financial markets, and people around the world will lose a lot of money. But we should all save our collective sympathy — both the government in Caracas and the investors who enabled it had it coming.

In the last few years, the Venezuelan government has been steadfast about staying in good graces with its lenders. It has paid arrears on its debt religiously, and has constantly asserted that it will continue paying.


Will America stick with Colombia in peace, as it did in war?

After 15 years and $10 billion, the United States aid program known as Plan Colombia has helped put the country on the verge of peace for the first time in more than half a century.

The Colombian government is in the final stages of peace negotiations with rebels from the FARC, the last major guerrilla group fighting in Colombia’s war. The two parties are expected to sign a final peace accord at the end of March.

So as Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos takes a victory lap in Washington this week, the question is: What is Washington’s role now?

Mr. Santos wants to keep the money flowing. But there are questions about whether an aid program built to defeat a rebel insurgency can be changed to consolidate peace.


Shkreli Miraculously Makes Nation Side with Congress

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a feat that some observers called nothing short of miraculous, the embattled pharmaceuticals C.E.O. Martin Shkreli single-handedly made the American people side with Congress on Thursday morning.

According to polls taken after his appearance before the despised legislative body, Shkreli’s smug, smirking, and utterly douchey performance had the effect of temporarily transforming members of Congress into marginally sympathetic figures.

The University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, which tracks the American people’s attitudes toward the legislative branch, said that after Shkreli’s appearance Congress’s approval rating surged from eleven per cent to fourteen per cent.

“A three-per-cent gain may not seem like a lot, but I think everyone in Congress is popping champagne corks today,” Davis Logsdon, the pollster who supervised the survey, said. “Martin Shkreli is the best thing to happen to Congress in years.”


Fox to reduce workforce; targets $250 million in budget cuts

Source: LA Times

21st Century Fox intends to trim its West Coast workforce to help reach $250 million in cost cuts this year at its TV networks and film studio.

Fox's corporate bottom line has been under increased pressure because of higher programming and marketing costs. In addition, several of Fox's TV networks have grappled with lower ratings and lower advertising revenue.

The dramatic cuts — announced Monday — reflect an increasingly turbulent media environment. Consumers are migrating to digital platforms for entertainment and canceling or scaling back their traditional pay-TV subscriptions. That means less revenue for Fox and other programming companies that rely heavily on cable programming fees for profits.

"Our industry is changing rapidly, presenting new challenges and even more opportunities," Fox TV Networks Chief Executive Peter Rice wrote in an email sent Monday to TV employees to notify them of the staff cuts.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-fox-workforce-reductions-250-million-20160201-story.html

Maduro's critics want to know: Is he actually Colombian?

A high-profile group of Venezuelans has called on the opposition-controlled National Assembly to investigate persistent rumors that President Nicolas Maduro is in fact Colombian, disqualifying him from holding the office.

A letter addressed to assembly president Henry Ramos Allup and reproduced in local news outlets refers to "the reasonable doubts existing around the true origins of Maduro, who has so far refused to produce his birth certificate."

The letter -- with echoes of the challenges to the citizenship of US President Barack Obama -- carries 62 signatures, including those of a former ambassador, a leading businessman and some former military leaders opposed to Chavism, the leftist ideology associated with Maduro's predecessor, the late president Hugo Chavez.

The letter asserts that Maduro, as the "son of a Colombian mother" and having lived in that neighboring country as a youth, is "Colombian by birth" under the Colombian Constitution.


Final two California escapees captured near upscale store

Source: AFP

The two remaining escapees from a jail break in southern California have been captured in San Francisco, police announced Saturday.

The two -- identified as Hossein Nayeri, 37, and Jonathan Tieu, 20 -- were arrested after a passerby recognized their white van as the one authorities said had been stolen following the dramatic jail break last week in Santa Ana, near Los Angeles.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens told reporters that Nayeri ran from the van, which was in the parking lot of a Whole Foods grocery store near Golden Gate Park, as police approached.

Nayeri was arrested following a short foot chase, and Tieu was then captured when police returned to the van.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/final-two-california-escapees-captured-near-upscale-store-215330043.html

Escapees shopping at Whole Foods -- it's a California thing.

FARC will be 'ally' in Colombia war on drugs: president

FARC rebels will be an "ally" of the Colombian government in the war on drug trafficking once they strike a peace deal to end a half century of conflict, President Juan Manuel Santos said Thursday.

The Marxist guerrillas and Bogota have made several key advances in recent months and the two sides set a deadline of March 23 to sign a final peace accord -- though the FARC have warned that "substantial" obstacles could get in the way.

The conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced six million, has drawn in right-wing paramilitaries, drug traffickers and several leftist rebel groups, of which the FARC is the oldest and largest remaining.

Illegal drugs have given rise to horrific violence by drug cartels in Colombia and fueled the five-decade conflict.


Interesting statement. Will the FARC will be transitioned into some sort of rural police force? It might be quite a challenge to kick the habit and the narcotrafficking income.

Venezuela opposition leader urges fast action to oust president

Source: Reuters

Venezuela's opposition must define within weeks its strategy for ending Nicolas Maduro's presidency given the OPEC nation's "monstrous" economic crisis, opposition leader Henrique Capriles believes.

Having won control of the National Assembly last month due to voter ire at Venezuela's punishing recession, the opposition coalition has vowed to find a constitutional mechanism to oust Hugo Chavez' successor in the first half of 2016.

Options for the multi-faction coalition include demanding his resignation, forcing a recall referendum as allowed half-way through his term, or reforming the constitution to trigger a new presidential election.

"We have to find a common position. The clock is ticking ... We can't wait longer than the first quarter," Capriles, a state governor who narrowly lost a 2013 presidential vote to Maduro, told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/venezuela-opposition-leader-urges-fast-action-oust-president-140929811--business.html

The Venezuelan economy's downward spiral will continue unless Maduro changes his policies, and there's every indication he plans to stay the course. It's a case of politics trumping reality, much like what is seen in supply-side embracing states like Kansas.
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