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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: City of Angels
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 7,663

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Venezuela is blowing debt payments ahead of a huge, make-or-break bill

One week before Venezuela faces a critical debt payment, the distressed petrostate is already late on a series of smaller bills — and no one can say exactly why.

The nation's state-owned oil giant, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA, has two major bond payments totaling about $2 billion coming due in the next two weeks. While the market expects the company, better known as PDVSA, to avoid default, the missed payments have rattled investors and raised fresh questions about how long embattled President Nicolas Maduro's regime might last.

"You're cutting close to the edge of not enough money in the checking account to pay the bills," said Ray Zucaro, chief investment officer at RVX Asset Management, an asset manager specializing in emerging and frontier markets.

Last week, Venezuela missed five coupon payments totaling nearly $350 million tied to the debt of PDVSA, the government and the utility Electricidad de Caracas. That stoked a minor sell-off in a number of outstanding bonds.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/20/venezuela-is-blowing-debt-payments-ahead-of-a-huge-make-or-break-bill.html

Will Venezuela become a new Cuba? Despite recent events, dont count on it

In the aftermath of Venezuela’s fraudulent Oct. 15 regional elections, the conventional wisdom is that President Nicolás Maduro has closed all avenues to an electoral solution to the country’s crisis, and that Venezuela will become a new Cuba. It may happen, but there are a few things that suggest otherwise.

There are many similarities. Maduro is increasingly acting like an all-out dictator, a la Fidel Castro. Maduro’s most recent elections for 23 governorships were so fraudulent that they were denounced by the United States, the 28-member European Union, and Latin America’s biggest countries, including Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

It sounds like a joke, but Maduro claims to have won 80 percent of the governorships in a clean election, despite the fact that virtually all polls show that 80 percent of Venezuelans want him to leave office.

In addition to using massive government resources to help his candidates, allowing widespread media censorship and refusing to allow credible international observers, Maduro invalidated more than 1 million opposition votes by preventing people in opposition strongholds from casting their ballots.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article179824416.html

Driven by unrest and violence, Venezuelans are fleeing their country by the thousands

As Ana Linares ambled around Lima’s sprawling and historic Plaza San Martin, holding aloft a tray of pastries, her shouts pierced the rush hour traffic roar: “Donuts, fresh donuts!!” She earns about $15 a day — more than she made in a month in her native Venezuela.

“It’s enough to live on and even send a little cash back to my family in Barquisimeto,” Linares said between sales. She buys the pastries from a Venezuelan neighbor and hustles downtown to the plaza. “I don’t leave until I’ve sold them all.”

Linares arrived in Lima last May after enduring a six-day bus trip from central Venezuela, her 8-month-old son on her lap, to join her husband who came months before. Life in Venezuela had become intolerable, with millions struggling with hyperinflation, food shortages, lack of work and lawlessness.

“Everything there has turned ugly. There’s hunger and crime. You can’t leave your house after 5 p.m. because you’re going to be robbed or killed,” Linares said, adding that she now earns enough to afford three meals a day, an impossibility for many these days in Venezuela.

http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-venezuela-refugees-20171019-htmlstory.html

Venezuela Maduro warns of repeat elections in states won by opposition

Venezuelan state elections may be repeated in the five states won by the opposition if the governors-elect continue to refuse to be sworn in by a controversial pro-government legislative superbody, President Nicolas Maduro warned on Friday.

His warning came in a televised speech after the government on Sunday unexpectedly won 18 of 23 states in a vote which the opposition calls fraudulent.

Authorities have mandated that all elected governors participate in a ceremony before the pro-government Constituent Assembly, but the five opposition winners did not take part. “Anyone who wants to be governor will have to recognize the Constituent National Assembly; otherwise elections will be repeated in states where the Assembly is not recognized,” Maduro said at the inauguration of one of the socialist candidates in western Lara state.

The opposition says that by law, the oath must be taken before regional parliaments and not before the Constituent Assembly, but so far none of their candidates have undergone that process and formally assumed their roles.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics/venezuela-maduro-warns-of-repeat-elections-in-states-won-by-opposition-idUSKBN1CP2UU

White House Says It Is Unpatriotic to Offer Irrefutable Video Evidence That a General Lied

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a stirring defense of Donald Trump’s chief of staff, General John Kelly, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Friday that it was “unpatriotic in the extreme” to offer irrefutable video proof that a four-star general lied.

“It is unpatriotic enough to accuse a four-star general of lying,” Sanders told the White House press corps. “But to make available a video that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that that general lied is unpatriotic bordering on treasonous.”

Warming to her subject, Sanders said that any American who sees undeniable video evidence that a general lied and chooses to believe the video “shows disrespect for our country and hatred for our flag.” “General Kelly has served our country with courage and valor,” she said. “He has earned the right to lie without fear of being contradicted by the facts.”

Minutes after Sanders concluded her remarks, Kelly also received a vote of confidence from Trump, who called his chief of staff “a good liar, for a beginner.”

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/white-house-says-it-is-unpatriotic-to-offer-irrefutable-video-evidence-that-a-general-lied

Venezuela swears in governors amid opposition boycott

Source: BBC News

In Venezuela, 18 newly elected socialist governors have been sworn in by the constituent assembly.

Five governors from the opposition Roundtable for Democracy (MUD) coalition boycotted the event.

They said they refused to bow to the constituent assembly, which they consider illegitimate.

The boycott is the latest stand-off between the opposition and the governing socialist party amid a grave economic and political crisis.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-41678337



Maduro apparently is threatening to not allow the opposition governors to take their offices because of their refusal to be sworn in by the constituent assembly.

Venezuela opposition governors refuse to be sworn in

Venezuela's opposition said its newly-elected governors would refuse to participate Wednesday in a swearing in ceremony before the pro-government Constituent Assembly, which it does not recognize.

The Democratic Union Roundtable (MUD) said it would not allow its five governors to be subjected to "the blackmail of the fraudulent Constituent Assembly" after President Nicolas Maduro threatened to remove them from office if they refused.

"We will only be sworn in before God and the respective legislative councils and not before the fraudulent Constituent Assembly," the MUD said in a statement shortly before a special swearing-in session convened at the legislative palace.

The opposition had previously said it would not participate but doubts remained until shortly before the ceremony because of internal divisions.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/venezuela-opposition-governors-refuse-sworn-153651983.html

Aides Concerned Trumps Mental Health Declining After President Admits He May Not Be Omnipotent God

WASHINGTON—Alarmed by the sudden change in his thinking and behavior, White House aides said Tuesday that they were concerned about President Trump’s declining mental health after he admitted he may not be an omnipotent living god.

“The president has always been completely clearheaded about his status as the supreme being, so we naturally began to suspect something wasn’t right when he started openly doubting that he was the creator and eternal master of existence,” said Trump staffer Greg Fairfield, adding that he sincerely hoped that the president was just tired or under stress on those occasions when he second-guessed his status as an all-knowing, all-seeing divinity.

“It’s just these little moments here or there where he mutters something like, ‘Maybe the universe didn’t spring forth from my essence,’ that make us worry he’s not quite there. I mean, that’s just not who he is.”

At press time, aides feared that Trump may never regain his faculties when he declared he was merely a demigod who would die after holding the presidency for a thousand years.

https://politics.theonion.com/aides-concerned-trump-s-mental-health-declining-after-p-1819655097

Our president can't even get a condolence call right

Over the past nine months, the nation has seen evidence accrue that the man it elected president entered office ill-prepared for the job, and whose core personality — vain, venal and vengeful — made him ill-suited for work that requires tact, humility and compassion. What the nation learned this week is that the man it elected president is so unsuited for the job, he can’t even get a condolence call right.

Two weeks ago, a team led by Green Berets was ambushed in Niger by extremists believed to be linked to the Islamic State, and four of the American servicemen were killed. President Trump did not reach out quickly to the families of the fallen, and a question about why he had not spoken publicly about the deaths drew an all-too-familiar response from the president: lies, braggadocio and an attack on his predecessor.

“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls” to the families of soldiers who died in the nation’s service, Trump told reporters, claiming that he had called every family of the soldiers who’d died on his watch. But Trump was embellishing his record on that front (the Associated Press found four families who had not received calls), and his politicization of the deaths of the four soldiers in the Green Beret unit displayed — again — what a small heart beats in the chest of our president.

Trump said he had written letters to the families but hadn’t mailed them yet, sounding more like a child trying to excuse his own failings than the leader of a country. Then on Tuesday, Trump finally called the families and reportedly told the pregnant widow of Sgt. La David Johnson that her husband knew what he was getting into — then acknowledged that this wouldn’t make her grief any less painful. Trump denied he acted so boorishly, tweeting that Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida), who revealed the comments and has been backed up by the sergeant’s mother, “totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!” Sadder is that the American people can’t believe any claim by their president. Until Trump presents his “proof,” the benefit of the doubt here goes to Wilson.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-trump-fallen-soldier-family-20171018-story.html

30 years after Black Monday, could stock market crash again?

It’s been three decades since Black Monday, the most disastrous single day in U.S. stock market history, and investors should be forgiven for wondering if Wall Street learned any lessons from that cataclysmic day.

On Oct. 19, 1987 the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.70% tanked 508 points, a fall of nearly 23%, in a chaotic, daylong selling frenzy that ricocheted around the world. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.07% shed more than 20% of its value. At today’s market heights, a percentage fall of that magnitude would knock more than 5,200 points off the DJIA.

The crash was blamed on a number of factors, but at heart, it was the growing complexity of the market that seemed to overwhelm participants and set the stage for the calamity. Computerized trading, then in its infancy, combined with new hedging strategies that used relatively newfangled stock-index futures contracts were all part of the picture.

Since then, financial markets have been transformed by the march of time and technology and regulatory change.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/30-years-after-black-monday-could-stock-market-crash-again-2017-10-16

I remember the day quite clearly. I was on vacation in London, and cashed all my traveller's checks and converted them into pounds, since no one knew what the effect would be on the exchange rate.
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