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Squeezing the turnip: Argentines protest IMF, austerity measures

Argentina appears to be on the road to getting the IMF treatment 2.0, and the people are taking to the streets over it.. 

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Argentina appears to be on the road to getting the IMF treatment 2.0, and the people are taking to the streets over it..Radio Havanna reports:

Thousands of Argentineans marched in Buenos Aires on Thursday against the economic policies of the administration of Mauricio Macri and an announced deal with the IMF, the International Monetary Fund. Organizers of the protest said that the government will undoubtedly worsen the economic situation in the country and put in danger Argentina’s peso currency.

Under a driving rain, protesters from progressive organizations and unions carried banners and waved flags. Secretary-General of the Association of State Workers, Hugo Godoy, sounded defiant as he spoke out against the government policies. He said: “To the workers: they will not stop us, nor the storm and because we workers are not going to to permit this Congress to accept the interference of the International Monetary Fund, the increase of tariffs or the labor reform. We are going to fight until the end so that those infamous resolutions of the government of Macri are turned back. The workers have a memory. We know that policies like these led us to hell and we will not allow it.”
Macri and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde announced on Tuesday they were opening talks for a financing deal after Argentina’s peso currency touched a new low of 23.5 to the dollar, despite tighter fiscal measures and hiking interest rates up to 40 percent in Latin America’s third-largest economy.

On Wednesday, the Treasury Ministry announced it would seek a “stand-by deal” from the IMF, a type of financing that would likely require more conditions and orthodox policy reforms than a Flexible Credit Line (FCL), such as the more so-called stable economies of Mexico and Colombia have.

Argentines remember the last the time the IMF ‘helped’ them. Last time, measures adopted in connection with assuming a loan from the International Monetary Fund resulted in 1 in 5 joblessness, millions of people plunged into poverty, and strict austerity measures. Right now, history appears to be repeating itself, as President Macri has announced that he is seeking credit from the international lender. The AP reports:

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — It seemed like a collective moan could be heard across Argentina as President Mauricio Macri uttered three words that many in this country associate with the worst of times: International Monetary Fund.

Macri surprised Argentina by announcing this week that he will seek a financing deal with the IMF following a sharp devaluation of its currency and a tough global outlook. The move has brought back bad memories for Argentines who blame the IMF for encouraging free-market policies that led to the country’s worst economic crisis in 2001.

“Historically, the image of the IMF has been something very traumatic for us Argentines,” Jorge Fidler, a 72-year-old accountant, said of the economic crunch, which included government turmoil with five presidents in just two weeks. “This really is a bitter pill to swallow.”

The crisis 17 years ago resulted in one of every five Argentines being jobless, millions sliding into poverty and some reporting going hungry. The peso, which had been tied to the dollar, lost nearly 70 percent of its value.

Banks froze deposits and put up sheet metal barricades as thousands of protesters unsuccessfully tried to withdraw savings. At least 27 people died in protests and looting in December 2001 as South America’s second-largest economy unraveled.

Blame has been heaped since then on the IMF for its role in Argentina’s debt default of more than $100 billion. A survey by Argentine pollsters D’Alessio Irol/Berensztein said 75 percent of Argentines feel that seeking assistance from the IMF is a bad move. The survey of 1,077 people in early May had a margin of error of three percentage points.

“The IMF is the last instance lender. It’s a quasi-toxic word here,” Sergio Berensztein, a political analyst and co-author of the poll, told The Associated Press. “It’s like when you go to the dentist. You might need it, but you don’t want to go.”

In a nationally televised address, Macri said he had begun talks with the IMF as a way to combat economic woes at home and a complex situation worldwide, including rising interest rates, higher oil prices and a depreciation of emerging market currencies. A week earlier, the Argentine peso hit a historic low against the U.S. dollar and prices for Argentina’s bonds sank.

Still, the decision to reach out to the IMF for loans to shore up government reserves and dampen currency pressures caught many off guard. Just a year ago, Argentina was still a darling among investors. The government sold out an issue of 100-year bonds taking advantage of a low interest rate.

Many people spoke then of an economic miracle and said Macri was practically guaranteed re-election after his coalition scored a decisive victory in congressional elections. Now, the opposition has been emboldened and Macri’s political future seems more unsettled than ever.

What happened?

“There was a lot of optimism and financial markets were looking for any kind of yield anywhere. And any country which looked on the right path, and Argentina certainly did, was attracting a lot of attention and money,” said Monica de Bolle, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

She said that after Macri took office in 2015, he was able to accomplish a lot quickly. He resolved a longstanding legal dispute with creditors that returned Argentina to the global credit markets for the first time since its record default during the 2001 disaster. He removed currency controls and other economic distortions, and he ordered the government to publish credible statistics, which had been disputed by the IMF and local analysts under his predecessors.

“It helped to give the sense that Argentina is moving forward,” De Bolle said. “I don’t think markets were wrong — they might have been overly optimistic, but so was the government.”

Macri’s government said from the start that gradual austerity measures were needed to revive Argentina’s struggling economy. He cut red tape and tried to reduce the government’s budget deficit by ordering job cuts and cutting utility subsidies, which sparked labor unrest.

When his Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition scored a triumph in the midterm elections, Macri said he would seek even deeper changes in tax and labor rules. But Argentines continued to lose purchasing power from high inflation and many were frustrated with rises in fuel and transportation costs.

Argentina has long had one of the world’s highest inflation rates. Macri, a pro-business conservative, had promised to curb consumer prices, which estimates say rose up to 30 percent a year in 2015 under his left-of-center predecessor, Cristina Fernandez.

Then in December, officials announced a rise in the inflation target, causing investors to begin doubting Macri’s commitment to taming price rises.

Meanwhile, the peso slumped against the dollar as rising U.S. interest rates lured investors to pull money out of Argentina and put it in the U.S. That caused jitters among Argentines, who are used to stashing away dollars as a cushion since the 2001 crisis. Macri’s government was forced to impose three interest rate hikes and tighten the fiscal deficit target.

Despite central bank intervention and talks between Argentina and IMF officials that opened Thursday in Washington, the peso hit a new all-time low of 24.50 on Friday afternoon. Argentina’s treasury says it is seeking a stand-by deal, but the amount and terms have not been disclosed.

David Malpass, the U.S. treasury undersecretary for international affairs, said Thursday that he welcomed the talks to promote “growth and market reforms” in Argentina.

But for many Argentines, it spells the contrary. A local TV channel ran a banner this week reading: “Back to the future.” In Congress, opposition lawmakers protested by putting large signs on their desks proclaiming: “Out with the IMF!”

The international lender has admitted that it had a made a string of mistakes that contributed to Argentina’s economic implosion. A 2004 report by the IMF’s internal audit unit concluded it failed to provide enough oversight, overestimated growth and the success of economic reforms, while it continued to lend Argentina money when its debt burden had turned unsustainable.

“The IMF did not press the authorities for a fundamental change in the policy regime and in December 2001 effectively cut off financial support to Argentina,” the report said.

Without further IMF support, the government was forced to declare the largest sovereign debt default in history.

Many Argentines still blame the IMF for permissive and heavy lending that led to devaluation of the peso and the debt default.

“It’s very sad,” said Soledad Patane, 29, a university student in Buenos Aires. “What they do is indebt a country until that country can no longer pay the debt and it becomes an indirect colony of those countries that continue to lend us money.”

De Bolle, who worked at the IMF in the early 2000s, finds such sentiments understandable, but she says the international lender has changed radically since Argentina’s crisis. She said it has loosened policy prescriptions that forced austerity on borrowing nations and now puts more focus on inequality and social issues.

“It was nearly 20 years since the fund was involved with Argentina,” she said. “That’s a long time. It’s now a different institution.”

The government’s action comes after a protest of massively increased utility tariffs of over 500%, which was protested by a popular blackout, and a 40% interest rate jump.

These austerity measures intend to squeeze more money out of the economy while the government contributes less, which invariably means that consumer activity will slow down, leading to less received in taxes and more people losing jobs as the economy adjusts to less consumer spending in compensation for higher bills.

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Every dirty Democrat trick shows in bid to oust Kavanaugh

American democracy truly is mob rule now, and the mob is stupid, with no one taking a moment to truly consider the situation.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The most amazing thing about what is ostensibly the last minute “Hail Mary” smear campaign by the left against Judge Brett Kavanaugh is how utterly transparently partisan it is. Let’s look at the list of tactics used thus far in this very dirty escapade:

  • Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein sat on this allegation for three months, until after the confirmation hearings were over (and after no other barnstorming tactic during the confirmation hearings worked against the nominee).
  • The accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is a registered Democrat, and a feminist. RT notes that she appears to have a strong interest in politics.
  • Reports of “death threats” against Dr. Ford have been reported. This is a common feature of any anti-Trump attack, to relate him to some sort of “right-wing” radicalism. This radicalism does not exist among conservatives, but the media is determined to say otherwise.
  • Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, naturally, believes Ford’s story.
  • Every Democrat senator is in agreement that this matter should table the confirmation vote. Some Republicans were at first but appear to be backing away.
  • A woman Democrat senator,  Mazie Hirono, went on record telling men to “shut up and step up.” It seems abundantly clear that this assumes that there can only be one “step” that the men are expected to do. A second lady senator , Patty Murray of Washington, gave all men a warning against stepping off the plantation by saying “Women are watching.”
  • The Senate Republicans offered a chance for Dr Ford to testify on Monday. She refused, but now she is offering to come “next Thursday” – this is ten days later, past the October 1 start date of the US Supreme Court, and closer to the November Midterm elections.

We interrupt this list to make this point. The issues at hand are threefold.

First, the Democrats and other left-wing activists are terrified that they will lose the “Warren Court”, which is the name of the Supreme Court Justice who was a major left-wing judicial activist that enabled the Court to “legislate from the bench” along liberal policy lines since 1969. If Kavanaugh comes in, even if President Trump is somehow magically removed from office, his mark will remain on the Court for at least a generation. Of course, the removal of President Trump is predicated on the Democrats regaining control of the House, which actually looks somewhat likely if polling data is to be believed, and of course a Democrat Senate. (The actual tiny caveat that the President has done absolutely nothing which warrants impeachment will not be taken into consideration. He is to be eliminated. That is Democrat point number one, and make no mistake.)

Second, if the Judge is confirmed, it will look great on the President’s achievement list and energize his voter base even more than it already is. The result could be that the Senate expands its Republican majority, and gains Trumpian conservatives in its ranks, which would likely help the President continue his really great agenda. A defeat in the House that holds or expands GOP, again with Trumpian conservatives, would solidify this, and make it more difficult to stop Trump’s re-election and further solidification of reforms in 2020.

Third, and probably even more important, is that the possibility of a third seat getting vacated on the Court in the time period between now and 2024 is relatively high. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the oldest Justice on the Court, and she is a raving liberal. If she retires (which she promises not to do), or if she is retired by the processes of old age, Trump can score a three-peat and get a third constitutionalist justice into the Court and that will signal the closure of one of the biggest avenues of liberal activism.

To return to the list, some of the further characteristics that make this situation patently obvious are these:

  • As reported in The Duran, the smear job is looking a bit ragged around the edges as time goes by. President Trump called Dr Ford’s bluff by saying he is interested in having her come to testify and that it would be “unfortunate” if she didn’t do so. Ford’s response was as shown above, to try and delay this testimony.
  • The Hollywood “sisterhood” is on record defending Dr Ford. For them, she’s right. She said Kavanaugh did this, so she is right. And why? Because she is a woman, a feminist and a Democrat. She is one of them. It would very interesting to know if the sisterhood would stand behind a conservative woman raising such a concern against a Democrat, but we have President Clinton to show how well that all went.

This by no means concludes the list of characteristics, but as noted earlier here, anyone that does even just a little critical thinking about this can see that this issue is no moral outrage, it is strictly partisan hackery, making use of the greatest weapon against conservative men put in use over the last fifty years – the sexual allegation from a woman, who must always be believed, because the woman is always right. 

The unfortunate truth is that this tactic works. It works because most men are actually gentlemen. We honor women, and we are taught to defer to them in America, because that is what a gentleman does. Feminism takes this characteristic of men, especially in modern times who really want to make sure they treat the ladies right, and it throws it back in their face in contempt. It is so bad it even has a physiological effect on men, who are now marrying less, and having fewer kids. There are even physiological changes that result from this abuse.

Further, there is an appalling lack of critical thinking in our society. The British news site, The Independent offers a poll with questions about the Kavanaugh case. The astonishing lack of critical thinking is clearly evident as the reader votes his or her thought and then sees the results for that question. Going through the questions and observing their responses can be very illuminating.

Dr Ford is demanding an FBI investigation, but she has no date, time or location attached to the incident she accuses now-Judge Kavanaugh of perpetrating. Rush Limbaugh did a great job at showing just how absurd this demand actually is, given these glaring areas of non-knowledge and we include some of that transcript below:

What would happen, let’s say — I don’t know — in the last 10 years up to last week if any woman had walked into any FBI office in the country and said the following: “Hi. I’m here to report that I was abused 35 years ago. I was — I was — I was at a party. Uh, I was 15, a little bit to drink, and a 17-year-old guy pushed me down on top of a table and laid on top of me. And then — and then and then I think — I think — a friend came in and did something and anyway they left and I was left locked in the room. And I want to you to investigate.”

Do you think if somebody shows up at an FBI office with that story, if they show up in person with that story, that the FBI is gonna give it any time whatsoever? The agents are gonna look at each other with kind of wary eyes and they’re gonna crack silent jokes to one another. I’m not kidding. You take this out of the realm of a letter to a crazed, partisan United States senator, Dianne Feinstein, and just move this into the victim walking into an FBI office, “It was 35 years, 34 years. I’m not sure where. But I know that when I was 15, I was at a party, and some guy jumped on top of me.”

So let’s say the FBI agent decides to actually take this further and in a very respectful way says, “Well, Miss, were you raped or injured?”

“Uh, no, not really.”

“Did you report this or tell anyone at the time, 36, 35 years ago?”

“Uh, no.”

“What year was this, again, that this happened?”

“Uhhh, I’m not — I’m not sure. I think it was 1982.”

“Where did this happen?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know. I was so traumatized; I don’t remember any of it. I just remember some guy jumping on me and I was drunk and — and I don’t know. But I want you to investigate it.”

“Okay. Ma’am, were there any witnesses?”

“Just the one friend of his that pushed him off, and then they left before he could do anything.”

What would the FBI do with this, if that scenario happened in one of their field offices? I will tell you what they would do: Zip, zero, nada. And the reason for bringing it up this way is to try to shine some kind of a different light on this and try to put this kind of allegation in some kind of context. The president is handling this in a quite fascinating way. He’s saying, “I hope she shows up. I want to hear what she has to say. I really hope she shows up. I’m very interested in what she has to say. We all are. And if she shows up and if she’s credible, why, then we’re gonna have to do something about that.”

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Russian Hierarch explains Ukrainian issue in detail (VIDEO)

A Russian Orthodox Hierarch explores the incursion of earthly politics into the life, pastoral activity and needs of the Orthodox Church.

Seraphim Hanisch

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RT’s “Worlds Apart” interview program recently interviewed Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), a hierarch who heads the Department of External Church Relations for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. The Duran has covered the crisis in Ukraine surrounding the activity of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, of Constantinople, intended to create a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This effort falls completely outside the normal and authorized operating procedures of the Orthodox Church, but to the lay listener it is difficult to understand what the fuss really is all about.

Metropolitan Hilarion and Oksana Boyko do an excellent job with both the answers, but more importantly, the questions, since Ms. Boyko asks the questions that someone who knows nothing about the Church might ask. This situation is completely about politics and not about the true work of the Church, and Met. Hilarion answers these questions very completely and thoroughly.

One of the really interesting points that Met. Hilarion makes is the idea that the Ecumenical Patriarch seeks to bring about the creation of a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church from these four groups:

  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (which is canonical and which has not requested self-rule, called autocephaly
  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Church “Kyiv Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko, which is a completely schismatic group. This group, and Filaret, are leading the charge.
  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church – another schismatic group that is not in communion with Filaret’s church
  • The Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine – and this is truly interesting, because this group is not even Orthodox, but is an Eastern Rite group under the Pope of Rome, and is in fact Roman Catholic.

The notion of bringing together such a disparity of groups is stunning to the Metropolitan, and yet he understands the motives of the men driving this idea, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, Patriarch Bartholomew, and Filaret Denisenko.

While the United States is not mentioned in this interview in any prominent sense, it should be noted that this move also does have strong US support as the American political leadership has been advocating for the Poroshenko government in an effort to continue to surround and isolate Russia. As we have noted elsewhere, this series of moves may well create more problems for Russia, by design.

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James Woods Suspended From Twitter Over Satirical Meme That Could “Impact An Election”

James Woods crushes Jack Dorsey: “You are a coward, @Jack.”

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Outspoken conservative actor James Woods was suspended from posting to Twitter over a two-month-old satirical meme which very clearly parodies a Democratic advertisement campaign. While the actor’s tweets are still visible, he is unable to post new content.

The offending tweet from July 20, features three millennial-aged men with “nu-male smiles” and text that reads “We’re making a Woman’s Vote Worth more by staying home.” Above it, Woods writes “Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible.”

According to screenshots provided by an associate of Woods’, Twitter directed the actor to delete the post on the grounds that it contained “text and imagery that has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election.

In other words, James Woods, who has approximately 1.72 million followers, was suspended because liberals who don’t identify as women might actually take the meme seriously and not vote. 

In a statement released through associate Sara Miller, Woods said “You are a coward, @Jack,” referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “There is no free speech for Conservatives on @Twitter.

Earlier this month, Woods opined on the mass-platform ban of Alex Jones, tweeting: ““I’ve never read Alex Jones nor watched any of his video presence on the internet. A friend told me he was an extremist. Believe me that I know nothing about him. That said, I think banning him from the internet is a slippery slope. This is the beginning of real fascism. Trust me.”

Nu-males everywhere non-threateningly smirk at Woods’ bad fortune…

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