Thursday, March 09, 2017

Will we find The Clinton Foundation in the Odebrecht scandal sweeping Latin America?

It started in Brazil and it is now moving into just about every other country in the region. We are not talking about “zika” but rather “Odebrecht”!   
Let me share this story from the Washington Post:     
Odebrecht made a humble start in Brazil’s muggy northeast, where in 1944, founder Norberto Odebrecht launched a neighborhood construction firm with global ambitions. 
“He believed in a model based on trusting people,” said one former Odebrecht executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. 
“He said, ‘If I choose them well, the sky’s the limit.’ ” 
The sky was indeed the limit as the company began to make money the old-fashioned way.     
Then Brazil’s crony capitalism got in the way and Mr. Odebrecht figured out that bribing politicians was a good way of getting ahead and keeping the regulators out of your business.   
It was working beautifully as late as the 2014 World Cup:
Odebrecht was on a cloud during the first decade of the millennium, when Brazil won hosting rights to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, affirming its status as a rising star.
With the charismatic President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva touting Odebrecht abroad, the company secured lucrative foreign contracts to build highways, transportation systems, stadiums and power plants.
But Odebrecht’s other export was Brazilian-scale corruption, undermining countries it was supposed to be building up. 
The company is today at the core of Brazil’s biggest-ever graft scandal, a $2 billion kickback scheme in which nearly 100 executives and politicians have been imprisoned. 
Then it just went crazy and now it has become one of the biggest, if not biggest, scandal in Latin America history.    
It is exhibit A of what crony capitalism has done to Brazil and many other countries:     
The fallout is spreading across the region, creating a test for other countries tainted by Odebrecht’s dirty money. 
Prosecutors in Brazil, the United States and elsewhere have unearthed evidence that could implicate current and former presidents across the Americas in criminal conduct.    
Anti-corruption protesters marched in the streets last month in the Dominican Republic, where Odebrecht allegedly paid $92 million in bribes but where no charges have been filed. 
Colombia’s top prosecutor made an explosive allegation this month: that Odebrecht channeled $1 million in illegal donations into President Juan Manuel Santos’s 2012 reelection campaign. But the jailed ex-senator who allegedly made the claim denied it a week later.    
In Panama, 17 business executives and former officials have been charged, and one former Odebrecht executive has said he paid bribes to the sons of former president Ricardo Martinelli. The sons deny it. Prosecutors investigating the Odebrecht case have also raided the offices of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the “Panama Papers” leak.
Then there are countries such as Venezuela, where Odebrecht has left bridges to nowhere rusting in the jungle. The late Hugo Chávez gave the company $11 billion in contracts, and Odebrecht paid an estimated $98 million in bribes, according to the Justice Department…
And in Ecuador, where leftist Lula ally Rafael Correa is not running for reelection, his party’s loss in an upcoming runoff vote could open the books on $116 million worth of deals allegedly greased with $34 million in bribes.    
As they say in Spanish, all of this leaves with my “boca abierta” or mouth open. The numbers are huge, the territory is wide and we can say “unprecedented” without any trouble.
My reaction is that this may be good for the region because so much of the corruption in Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador is with left-wing regimes.   
In other words, they’ve been preaching and singing kumbaya while practicing some good old-fashioned in-your-pocket corruption.     
The left is in the middle of this mess with one hand waving at the workers and the other taking bribes from executives!
My question is this: How much longer before we find the Clinton Foundation playing in this game?
We remember the connection between the Clinton Foundation and FIFA, another corrupt enterprise.
The Odebrecht episode is exactly the kind of place where you would find President Clinton looking for cash and selling access to his wife, then Secretary of State and potentially President of the U.S.
Call me cynical but there has to be a Clinton floating in this “pay to play” movie!
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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Will we see any women today supporting “Las damas en blanco”

We had “a day without immigrants”. It did not change anything except the poor souls who lost their jobs.   After all, employers can not afford to be without employees. Employers, unlike march organizers, live in the real world of deadlines and invoices.
Today, we have “a day without women”, an idea based on International Woman’s Day.
We know why “Las damas” march in Cuba. They want freedom and their men released from prison.
What exactly are these women in the US protesting about?
In Virginia, a school district shut down classes today.    Why? The answer is that some teachers decided to put political protest over their jobs. Wonder who is explaining that to the working moms who can’t drop off their children at school today?
What specifically is the protest about?  Well, Amanda Carpenter has a few thoughts:

No specific requests are apparent.
All the organizing material is bathed in vague blather about raising awareness without asking for any specific reforms.
Unlike this month’s “Bodega strike,” in which immigrant businesses closed their doors in objection to Trump’s travel ban, or #GrabYourWallet, which seeks to protest the Trump family’s conflicts of interest, or even January’s “Women’s March on Washington,” which was at least reacting to President Donald Trump’s inauguration and history of sexist comments, “A Day Without A Woman” is a protest without a point.
If women are going to put thousands of children out of school and consider grinding the American economy to a halt, they at least ought to have a good, clear reason to do so.
This is about abortion rights, left wing causes and peddling the lie that men make more money than women, an absolute insane proposition that does not take into consideration the realities of the labor force.   See Karin Agness, a woman who blows up this nonsense about pay equity.
At the same time, is anyone protesting for the rights of little girls who will be aborted today?  These little girls will never be born or get to participate in any political parade or vote for a woman running for president.
Or what about the women in the Middle East, or the countries that flooded The Clinton Foundation with cash?   or the way women are treated in other countries like China?
Will anyone remember the women of Cuba?   “Las damas en blanco” are real women under siege by an inhumane regime.
Sadly, today’s marches are about protesting for the sake of protesting, a sad reflection on the corrupt state of feminism in the US.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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