Sunday, June 30, 2013

Senate Plebiscite Hearing August 1st - Puerto Rico Report

Senate Plebiscite Hearing August 1st

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The postponed U.S. Senate committee hearing on Puerto Rico’s status plebiscite held along with the territory’s general elections last November  will be held August 1st.
The hearing will focus on the Obama Administration’s response to the plebiscite as well as on the vote itself.
Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had originally invited the Obama Administration and Puerto Rico’s three political parties to testify June 11th.  But the hearing was postponed due to a death in the family of the Committee’s senior Republican Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).
It is still undetermined whether the Obama Administration will provide a witness for the hearing.  Its lead official on the issue, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew, is not expected to testify because the President’s staff rarely do so.
Agnew’s Co-Chair of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status, Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, will not be available unless he is confirmed for the Associate AG job by that time — which is said to be unlikely.  Nominees under consideration by the Senate also rarely testify in congressional hearings.
The presidents of Puerto Rico’s three political parties — Gov. Alejandro García Padilla of the “commonwealth” party, representative to the Federal government Pedro Pierluisi of the statehood party, and Independence Party leader Rubén Berríos Martinez — are expected to appear, however.
A spokesperson for the option of nationhood in a free (non-binding) association with the U.S., which obtained a third of the vote in the plebiscite, has not yet been invited.
Although Puerto Rico is often popularly called a “commonwealth”, it is actually a territory according to all three branches of the Federal government. The “commonwealth” party contends that it is not. So, it also does not appear that there will be an advocate for the islands’ current status, which got 46% of the vote in the plebiscite, in the hearing.
The plebiscite rejected the islands’ current status by a vote of 55% to 46%.  It choose statehood among the possible alternatives by 61.2%.  The other alternatives, nationhood in a non-binding association with the U.S. and independence, obtained 33.34% and 5.49% respectively.
The “commonwealth” party disputes the plebiscite.  One objection is that it did not include the party’s proposal for Puerto Rico’s status: an unprecedented governing arrangement that Federal officials say is impossible. The arrangement would be permanently binding on the U.S. and give the insular government the powers to veto the application of Federal laws and court jurisdiction and to enter into international agreements and organizations as if Puerto Rico were a sovereign nation. At the same time, it would give the insular government a new Federal subsidy and continue the grant of citizenship to individuals born in Puerto Rico and current Federal assistance to Puerto Ricans.
Gov. Garcia and ‘commonwealthers’ in the legislature also dispute the plebiscite results saying that the ballots of people who didn’t vote on the plebiscite questions should be counted — contrary to Puerto Rican law and the determination of the Elections Commission.  According to the commonwealthers, the current status, for which they urged votes, was rejected by 51.7% instead of 54%, and statehood won 44.4% of the vote instead of 61.2%.
A spokesman for President Obama, however, said that the plebiscite demonstrated that Puerto Ricans want to resolve the question of the territory’s ultimate status, a majority of the vote was for statehood as the alternative to the current status, and the Obama Administration would work with Congress on the issue.
The Obama Administration has also responded to the plebiscite by proposing legislation for another plebiscite. Under the U.S. Justice Department proposal, the Federal government would provide $2.5 million for a vote on options proposed by Puerto Rico’s Elections Commission found by the U.S. attorney general to not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the U.S.
This would exclude the “commonwealth” party’s proposals for the territory’s status.
The Obama Administration proposal recognized that Gov. Garcia and the Puerto Rico legislative majority dispute the results of the plebiscite. The White House feared that their opposition would cause Congress to not act on the plebiscite.  Presidential aides reasoned that a plebiscite under Federal auspices could not be disputed with any credibility by ‘commonwealthers.’
Resident Commissioner Pierluisi, who serves in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he can only vote in committees of which he is a member, and 86 other House members have sponsored a bill that also recognizes the results of the plebiscite. It would require the president to submit legislation to enable Puerto Rico to become a State after a phase in of equal treatment in Federal tax and program laws if Puerto Ricans confirm their desire for statehood in another vote. The bill would also commit the Congress to pass statehood transition legislation.
The Senate committee’s House counterpart committee has also said that it will hold a hearing on the plebiscite.  But it is waiting for a Government Accountability Office report on the budgetary impact of treating Puerto Rico equally in Federal laws before scheduling the hearing.
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Book:Puerto Rico - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Book:Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico
A quick overview of the island and its people
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Puerto Rico[edit]

A quick overview of the island and its people[edit]

Puerto Rico
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China to Dig a Canal through Nicaragua?

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Nicaragua signed a $40 billion deal earlier this month

In the news... - Portal:Puerto Rico From Wikipedia

Puerto Rico Looks To Approve Budget To Solve Economic Crisis - Huffington Post

via puerto rico - Google News on 6/29/13


Puerto Rico Looks To Approve Budget To Solve Economic Crisis
Huffington Post
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico legislators on Friday rushed to try to approve a budget amid debate on how best to revive the U.S. territory's economy, which the New York Federal Reserve president warns has not yet bottomed out. The proposed $9.8 ...
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China to Dig a Canal through Nicaragua?

China to Dig a Canal through Nicaragua?

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Nicaragua signed a $40 billion deal earlier this month allowing a Chinese company to dig a canal through the Central American country that would connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The news has excited many in China, but has provoked deep skepticism among engineering experts, shipping specialists, analysts, environmentalists and more.
The $40 billion question is: Will it turn out to be a giant dig or a giant ploy?
Nicaraguans have dreamed of becoming home to a transoceanic waterway for centuries. But in 1914, when the U.S. completed a 50-mile canal through Nicaragua’s skinnier neighbor to the south, that dream seemed to die. After all, how many transoceanic shipping shortcuts does one hemisphere need?
In the late 1990s, China entered the equation after America relinquished its rights to the Panama Canal. A Chinese firm called Hutchison Whampoa Limited (hwl) stepped in and signed a long-term lease with Panama allowing it to operate the canal’s entry and exit points. Within the terms of this Panama-hwl agreement lies the likely reason why China is suddenly talking about a Nicaraguan canal.
The lease stipulates that hwl has exclusive control over the entry and exit points of the Panama Canal for 25 years, and then will have an option to renew for an additional 25 years. The first term ends in about a decade.
And what is the anticipated time of completion for the Nicaraguan canal? Initial estimates said carving the 135 miles through jungles and protected lands would take 20 years. But the most recent reports revise that figure down to 11 years or even less.
Could it be that Panama is putting up some resistance to Beijing, and somehow preventing the renewal from going the way the Chinese want it to go? Some in Beijing have said Panama is still too heavily influenced by the United States. If this is China’s view, then what better way for Beijing to pressure the Panamanians than threatening to build a bigger and better canal just a few hundred miles north, potentially making Panama obsolete?
Some say the U.S.’s shale revolution and the growth of global shipping means that two canals through Central America would benefit the industry, and be a boon to both Nicaragua and China. But the questions about the deal far outweigh and outnumber any economic justifications.
A Hollow Company?
The company Nicaragua signed the deal with is Honk Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., or hknd. It was registered in the Cayman Islands just last year, has never undertaken a single infrastructure project and is led by Wang Jing, a young lawyer about whom little is known.
Shortly after the canal news was announced, Reuters sent journalists to visit hknd’s facilities in Hong Kong. “The office is large and brand new with a view of Victoria Harbor outside its floor-to-ceiling windows,” it reported, but “the office was very quiet and few people were working there” (June 20).
Contrast this obscure company with Hutchison Whampoa Limited—a Fortune 500 company operating in 54 nations with 230,000 employees. With ports in Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, Ecuador, the UK, Egypt, Germany, Korea, Australia, Italy and, of course, Panama, hwl is the world’s largest port operator. It is privately owned, but over the years, evidence has amassedrevealing hwl to be an ideological clone of China’s ruling Communist Party—nestled deeply in Beijing’s pocket.
If China was interested in bisecting Nicaragua from sea to shining sea, wouldn’t it work through the company that has mountains of experience in that field? Wouldn’t it be likely to work through the company that is a tried and true agent of the government?
hknd is doubtless under the sway of the Chinese government as well, and it may grow into something substantial. But at present the enigmatic company is not capable of this titanic Nicaraguan challenge.
Clause 15.1
The framework agreement for the Nicaraguan canal project contains another important clue. It divides the canal plan into nine subprojects including an airport, a railroad, a pipeline, and of course, the actual canal. One clause in the agreement allows hknd to walk away from any of the subprojects at its own discretion without penalty. The Chinese could build, for example, only the railroad and airport, or just the pipeline without any legal or economic consequences.
Writing for The Power and the Money, economist Noel Maurer says Clause 15.1 means there is “some evidence that hknd does not intend to build the canal across Nicaragua. At the very least, they are prepared to walk away from that commitment at the drop of a hat. … I do not think that hknd really intends to build a canal. … [T]hey might try if the financing showed up … but I don’t think that they will try very hard” (June 14).
A Geological Challenge
Infrastructure experts are also skeptical about the proposal. History records attempts by French, Dutch and American financiers to dig a waterway through Nicaragua’s volcano-studded terrain. All failed.
Technology has made seismic advances since these early efforts, but experts say the 20-foot tide difference between Nicaragua’s two coasts remains a formidable obstacle. “It means a lot of water is going to come from west to east,” said J. David Rogers, professor of geological engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. “I’m not saying you can’t do it, but it has some major engineering challenges that have to be overcome, and if it’s your first project, I wouldn’t invest in it.”
The scant plans also neglect to map out a firm route for the proposed waterway, but it would likely be nearly three times longer than the Panama Canal, and have to slice through that same volcano-studded terrain that defeated so many entrepreneurs.
Environmentalists also caution that the waterway could devastate the nation’s water supply, including the enormous Lake Nicaragua, a vital source of drinking water for many countries in the region.
Show Me the Pesos
The project is the biggest in Nicaragua’s history. Yet, the country’s congress approved it in less than 48 hours. The lack of robust congressional deliberation, the sheer absence of public debate and the lightening speed of it all has raised many eyebrows in the political sphere. Nicaragua’s Confidencialmagazine called it “the biggest scandal in recent memory.” Critics call the agreement a monumental surrender of Nicaragua’s sovereignty, saying that, under its terms, hknd (i.e. the People’s Republic of China) will basically own the nation.
Also bothersome is the question of who will fund this $40 billion project. hknd says it will finance the feasibility studies and then raise funds in international capital markets. Analysts like Evan Ellis, a national security studies professor at the U.S.’s National Defense University, think those funds will be in short supply. “Are international shipping companies going to trust a one-guy shop with minor telecommunications experience to be the system integrator on a $40 billion project in a country whose transparency is already subject to question?,” he said.
Europe’s Response
Whether the canal deal is legitimate or not, the news will have one consequence that Beijing may not expect.
Like China, geographic constraints prompt Europe to reach beyond its borders to obtain resources it needs to fuel its rise. The religion and languages shared by Europe and Latin America bind the two together as sister continents. These commonalities have long given European powers preferential economic treatment among most South and Central American nations.
But China has become the fastest-growing investor in Latin America. It has state-run companies undertaking billion-dollar projects all across the continent, and the trend is rapidly accelerating.
The blood Latin America shares with Europe remains thicker than its economic ties with China, yet Europe continues to lose influence there to Beijing’s swelling ambitions. Chinese Marxist revolutionary Mao Tse Tung vowed to his people decades ago, “All that the West has, China will have.” China’s rapacious drive into Latin America and other regions is evidence that Mao’s words still resonate clearly in the Chinese mindset.
But Europe will not sit passively by as Beijing gobbles up Latin America’s wealth. As the size of China’s Latin American footprint grows, Europe will strive to bolster its own presence there. At present, the lack of cohesion among European nations hampers this, but China’s deepening inroads into places like Nicaragua will actually act as a catalyst for EU unity.
Bible prophecy shows that, in the end, Europe-Latin America ties will trump China’s economic relationships in the region, but before that, indications are Europe and China will actually form a brief but robust economic alliance called a “mart of nations” in the Bible (Isaiah 23:1-3).
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has explained the motivation behind such an alliance: “[C]onsidering that China has come to possess most of the world’s strategic sea gates (which, ironically, at one time were held by Britain and America), we believe there may be a brief alliance between the German-led Holy Roman Empire and certain Asian powers (Russia, China, Japan—the kings of the east).”
China may actually dig a new canal through Nicaragua, but it is most likely only threatening to do so in order to tighten its grip on the strategic Panama Canal. In either case, Beijing’s grip on the world’s vital sea gates will become even tighter, and Europe’s interest in briefly allying with China could become stronger. This portends staggeringly dark times, economically and otherwise, for the U.S. and other nations. But that darkness will not last!
Dozens of Bible prophecies explain how suffering will be vanquished, and replaced with the globe-girdling peace, happiness and prosperity that has always eluded mankind. To understand the Europe-Asia trading partnership and the awesome future just beyond it, read Isaiah’s End-Time Vision
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Biden becomes Obama's Snowden attack dog - Los Angeles City Buzz |

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Faced with growing embarrassment over National Security Administration spying revealed by 29-year-old former CIA employee Edward Snowden, President Barack Obama ordered 71-year-old Vice President Joe Biden to mitigate the crisis. Whether Obama eventually faces more flogging in Congress or possible impeachment hearings is anyone’s guess. Take together with IRS abuses of GOP nonprofits and unresolved questions about Benghazi, Obama didn’t need the world exposed to the NSA’s covert spying program domestically and around the globe. With Snowden a fugitive, fleeing from the U.S. to Hong Kong, then to Moscow and awaiting possible asylum in Ecuador, Cuba, Yemen or wherever, Barack asked Biden to put the squeeze on Snowden. Revoking his U.S. passport June 23, the Immigration and Naturalization Service hoped to narrow Snowden’s options.
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Prensa Latina News Agency - Bolivia Seeks Russian Technology and Cooperation