Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman Blog’

Getting Divorced In The Philippines Where It’s Against The Law

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 03 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Getting divorced in the United States is often emotionally taxing, but for the most part, it is doable. Depending on circumstances, it can take just a matter of months. The Philippines is the only country in the world where ending a marriage is not just difficult, getting divorced is against the law. The only option for most citizens there is to get an annulment, which, in the Philippines, is a long, expensive court proceeding. Journalist Ana Santos was 28 years old when she left her husband. Four years later, her marriage was legally ended through an annulment. She wrote about her experience for an article that recently appeared in The Atlantic. It’s titled “Ending A Marriage In The Only Country That Bans Divorce.” She joins us today from the Philippines to talk about it. Thanks much for being with us, Ana.

ANA SANTOS: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: Can you start off by explaining the law a little bit more for us? Why is divorce prohibited?

SANTOS: Well, to start off, divorce wasn’t always banned in the Philippines. When the Spanish came in, divorce was banned and then it was offered sporadically. And then after that, in 1949, the Civil Code of the Philippines totally outlawed divorce. Under Philippine law, there are a number of ways to separate from your spouse. One is through legal separation. You separate properties. You agree to live apart, but you are not allowed to remarry. And then there are two ways to annul a marriage – declaration of nullity and then annulment. And for a minority of the Philippine population who are Muslim, divorce is allowed because they are governed by a separate set of laws called the Muslim Personal Code.

MARTIN: So that’s a small percentage of the population. About 5 percent of the Philippines who are Muslim can get divorced, but for 95 percent of the residents there, it is against the law and the only option is to get an annulment. How difficult is that?

SANTOS: It is very difficult to get an annulment. You have to prove that your spouse is psychologically incapacitated to handle the responsibilities of being married, and that requires, you know, it requires evidence. You have to get a psychiatric evaluation and then your case is filed in family court, and it takes anywhere from two to four years. And during that time all the fees pile up and, of course, you know, the judges, along with the lawyers, offer to speed things along for a little bit of money on the side.

MARTIN: Do both parties have to get psychological evaluations?

SANTOS: You don’t – it’s a choice between – it’s a tossup, really.

MARTIN: So you just sought that label for your husband.

SANTOS: Yeah, and it was something that we had agreed upon.

MARTIN: Did he fight your petition for an annulment?

SANTOS: For the most part, he didn’t. Annulments are not supposed to be colluded. There is one party that is supposed to fight it out and that’s another part of the process that makes it totally insane. Why can’t we jointly agree as consenting adults not to be married anymore? That heightens the adversarial process of the annulment.

MARTIN: You did some reporting on this issue. This is a subject you wrote about for The Atlantic. Did you find out in your reporting just how many annulments are granted every year in the Philippines?

SANTOS: The office of the solicitor general gave me some statistics that show that there are more than 10,000 annulment cases that were filed in 2013. Of that number, there are – about 5 or 6 percent are denied.

MARTIN: Has the process of getting an annulment – since that’s the only mechanism to end a marriage – has that process gotten easier over the years?

SANTOS: No, it hasn’t gotten easier. It’s gotten more expensive. I had interviewed one of my former classmates and she told me that she paid 10,000 U.S. dollars for an all-inclusive package and a guarantee of a decision in her favor.

MARTIN: What is life like now? You live in the Philippines. Do you feel any stigma associated with being a divorced woman – I’m sorry – you’re not a divorced woman – with being a woman who went through an annulment?

SANTOS: Can I also just tell you, Rachel, it was also very difficult to know what to call myself even. On forms, employment applications, you know, those tick boxes there would be single, married and that was it. I was like OK, I’m not single. I’m not married, so what is this? And until now, they have added a couple of boxes, but they still don’t say annulled. It’ll say separated or widowed (laughter). I’m like, I’m still not one of these people (laughter). I wrote a piece about that saying that maybe they should just add a box that says it’s complicated.

MARTIN: (Laughter) What’s your relationship – may I ask – what’s your relationship now with your former husband?

SANTOS: I will be very honest and I’ll be very fair. He’s been a very good father to our child. And he has been quite respectful. We have a very civil relationship right now. We have worked out a way to jointly but separately raise our child.

MARTIN: Ana Santos is a freelance journalist living in the Philippines. Her article “Ending A Marriage In The Only Country That Bans Divorce” was featured in The Atlantic. Ana, thanks so much for talking with us.

SANTOS: Thank you, Rachel.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/02/419554813/getting-divorced-in-the-philippines-where-its-against-the-law?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Deputy Secretary Of State: Iran Needs Nuclear Deal ‘More Than We Do’

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 03 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The new deadline to reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear program is a just a few days from now – July 7. The stakes are as high as they have ever been. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held direct talks with the Iranian foreign minister yesterday. Kerry said things are moving in the right direction.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN KERRY: We have some very difficult issues, but we believe we’re making progress and we’re going to continue to work because of that.

MARTIN: To talk more about where things stand, we are joined by Kerry’s deputy secretary of state, Tony Blinken. Thanks so much for being with us.

TONY BLINKEN: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: We just heard Secretary Kerry being hopeful, but his British counterpart was quoted as saying he doesn’t believe there’s any kind of breakthrough moment pending. If there is progress as Secretary Kerry has suggested, where is it?

BLINKEN: Well, Rachel, I don’t want to get into the details of the negotiations, but, you know, we’ve been at this for almost two years and it was worth taking a few extra days to see if we could finalize this agreement and to get it right.

MARTIN: We’ve talked on this program about the need for Iran to come clean about its past nuclear activities and separately Iran has to be willing to allow inspectors into its military facilities. Are those two items, are those deal breakers for the U.S.?

BLINKEN: Well, they’re two things. It’s clear that the so-called possible military dimensions of Iran’s program need to be accounted for. And this is, in fact, a separate process with the IAEA.

MARTIN: The International Atomic Energy Agency.

BLINKEN: That’s right. And they’ve been working on this with Iran for quite some time. Related to that is this question of access and inspections, and if we do not have and the IAEA does not have the access that it needs to be able to verify that Iran is not producing fissile material for a nuclear weapon, then we won’t have a deal. You know, you heard the president the other day being very clear that he will be very comfortable walking away from this if we don’t get – the international community doesn’t get what it needs. And at the heart of that are these questions of transparency and access and verification.

MARTIN: You have said before that what you don’t know is whether the Iranians have the political space to make a deal. What does that mean? Do you have any reason to believe that that space is opening?

BLINKEN: You know, it’s interesting because there’s sometimes a perception here that Iran is the only country on Earth that doesn’t have politics when in fact it’s exactly the opposite. Their politics are incredibly intense and if you just spend a little bit of time reading their newspapers, listening to their media, listening to the debates in their Majlis – in their parliament – it’s very, very clear. And there are people in Iran who are dead set against this agreement and there are others who are pragmatic and believe that it’s in Iran’s best interest to get a deal. And the challenge is who prevails politically and do the people who want an agreement have the authority to actually get to yes?

MARTIN: Are you clear on where the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is on this?

BLINKEN: I don’t think we are. I think – you’ve heard him makes statements in recent days, but again, this goes to the politics in Iran. But the bottom line is this – none of that matters. What matters is the agreement, if it’s reached. What we’ve seen to date is this – we have, as you know, an interim agreement, the so-called joint plan of action. And Iran has made good on all of its commitments in that agreement, as verified by the IEA, as verified by our own people and other countries. So if we get to that agreement in Vienna and Iran makes the commitments that it must make in order to get to a deal, what the track record of the interim agreement suggests is that they’ll keep their commitments.

MARTIN: Do you think it will happen?

BLINKEN: My sense is this – the Iranians have a lot invested in this and they need this agreement and they need it more than we do. So at the end of the day, I think there’ll be a lot of pressure internally in Iran to get this done because President Rouhani was elected, in large, part to deliver economically for the Iranian people. At the same time, you know, Iran continues to take actions in other areas – support for terrorism, destabilizing activities in the region and, of course, its own human rights picture – that are going to remain problems, serious problems, even if a deal is reached. But the bottom line is this – if we’re able to reach an agreement, even as Iran undertakes those other very objectionable activities, it’s because reaching an agreement will make the world a little bit safer

MARTIN: If a plan comes even a couple days beyond the July 7 deadline, the U.S. Congress has 60 days to review it. That’s a long time and there are vocal opponents on the Hill who don’t want a deal that would eventually mean relaxing sanctions. Are you concerned that after all of this work at the international level that Congress won’t ratify this?

BLINKEN: No. We welcome the scrutiny. It’s important. It’s necessary. But I would also say this – if at the end of the day there are some who oppose the agreement, that’s their right, but they have an obligation, I think, not only to say why they oppose it, but what they would do differently and how they would actually get it done.

MARTIN: Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, thanks so much for taking the time.

BLINKEN: Thank you.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/02/419554848/deputy-secretary-of-state-iran-needs-nuclear-deal-more-than-we-do?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Yes, There Really Is A Town In Liberia Called ‘Smell No Taste’

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 03 2015

i

This is a photo taken in the town of Smell No Taste, where a teenager died of Ebola this past week. The home where he passed away is now under quarantine.

Abbas Dulleh/AP


hide caption

itoggle caption

Abbas Dulleh/AP

This is a photo taken in the town of Smell No Taste, where a teenager died of Ebola this past week. The home where he passed away is now under quarantine.

This is a photo taken in the town of Smell No Taste, where a teenager died of Ebola this past week. The home where he passed away is now under quarantine.

Abbas Dulleh/AP

A curious detail appeared in stories about the death this week of a 17-year-old boy from Ebola.

As The New York Times reported: “Abraham died Sunday in his father’s home in a community known as Smell No Taste, a few miles from his mother’s home and a short distance from Liberia’s international airport and the Firestone rubber plantation.”

Smell No Taste? It seemed as if someone was pranking the Times.

To check it out, we got in touch with James Ciment, author of Another America: The Story Of Liberia and the Former Slaves Who Ruled It.

“During World War II, Liberia became an important trans-Atlantic landing site for military flights, as Liberia is the closest point between the Americas and Africa,” Ciment wrote in an e-mail. “To guard the runways (as well as the country’s critical rubber plantations), the United States posted several thousand black GIs there. Their base was off-limits to most of the Liberians, but the smell of all that abundant American food cooking drifted beyond the base’s perimeter, hence the name.”

Freelance filmmaker Arwen Kidd, who has been based in Liberia since 2008, knows Smell No Taste well. She made a movie named after the town, profiling a teenager whom she describes as a “mover and a shaker.”

To get to Smell No Taste, she says, you drive about an hour from downtown Monrovia toward the airport. “I describe it as a large village or a small town,” she says. “It’s big enough to have a school.”

The town is also known as “Unification Town.” And there’s a story there, too.

Kidd heard from a source at the airport that a town near Smell No Taste used to be called “F*** No Pay.” The origin story is that those American GIs would visit local prostitutes and not pay for their services.

The government supposedly renamed both of these towns “Unification Town” in advance of a visit in the 1980s by Liberia’s president.

True or apocryphal? Maybe the latter. But you have to admit, it’s a great story.

Meanwhile, other Liberian towns, Ciment says, take their name from the places that settlers from America left behind: Greenville, Kentucky, Virginia. Like Smell No Taste, they’re a reminder of the ties that bind the U.S. and Liberia.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/07/02/419545292/yes-there-really-is-a-town-in-liberia-called-smell-no-taste?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Germans Express ‘Frustration’ With Greece For Stalling Bailout Deal

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 02 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

No country is playing a more critical role in dealing with Greece than Germany. Germany has the most powerful economy in Europe. It’s home to the European Central Bank – the ECB – and it’s the key political dealmaker. German public opinion has been stacked against Greece from the beginning of this crisis, and many Germans feel that the Greeks deserve the consequences of their actions. To hear more about the German view, I’m joined now by Roman Pletter. He is deputy head of the business and economics section of the newspaper Die Zeit, and he joins us from Hamburg. Welcome to the program.

ROMAN PLETTER: Welcome. Hello.

SIEGEL: As we hear news about the very real fears and crises on the streets of Greece, how would you describe the mood in Germany?

PLETTER: Well, actually, it’s a mixture of frustration and indifference. I think frustration with the Greek government because many Germans feel like the Greece government were just playing them for several weeks when there was just enough time to get a deal done. But the other side is that in Germany itself, economically speaking, actually, it’s like living on an island at the moment. So unemployment is low. Growth is doing well. And I think we do not feel all the economic problems some other countries in the euro zone might face at the moment.

SIEGEL: When you say you feel like you’re living on an island, you feel like you’re living on a very pleasant island is what you are saying.

PLETTER: That’s right. And so I think there is no huge outrage about Greece. That’s not the case. Another side is that, of course, there are some politicians who think we have to rescue them because they fear that if the euro collapses, the whole euro zone and even Europe is an idea might be destroyed afterwards.

SIEGEL: Well, does maintaining the euro zone and maintaining the euro as a currency – does that trump whatever sense of fairness Germans might have, thinking that it’s only fair that Greece honor its obligations?

PLETTER: Well, I think that’s at the heart of the economic thinking of, for example, Chancellor Angela Merkel. She once said she wants to run the economy like a Swabian housewife, which refers to doing economic policy in a way like running your household. That means don’t spend more money than you have, and that’s what her conservative constituency expects from her. And given the fact that Germany had Social Security reforms 10 years ago, when former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder – he had to resign afterwards because people did not support these reforms. Now we are benefiting from these reforms. And many Germans think we had this hard time, and we expect the Greece people doing this themselves.

SIEGEL: But what – how did Germans react to the argument that, yes, Germany said, we should run this like a sound German household. On the other hand, by including Greece in the euro zone, you more or less said to an improvident member of the family go run up a bill. You can now borrow money is if you were a German, at very low rates.

PLETTER: I see your point, and I think that’s an argument often made by other countries criticizing Germany. The answer you would get from many German politicians is that when Greece joined the euro, they actually betrayed the other countries in the euro zone with delivering wrong numbers about their growth rates, about their economic situation. And they basically lied their way into the euro zone. And that’s something many people are still kind of struggling with. And that makes it so hard for many Germans to say, well, actually, we’ll bail out Greece anyway, but that’s a problem. In my personal opinion, that’s a problem because it’s very backwards-looking. It doesn’t help us in the future. Now we have to deal with the situation. They’re in the euro zone, and we have to deal with it.

SIEGEL: Roman Pletter of the newspaper Die Zeit in Hamburg. Thanks for talking with us today.

PLETTER: Thank you very much.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/01/419240766/germans-express-frustration-with-greece-for-stalling-bailout-deal?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Greece Moves Forward With Referendum On Proposed Bailout

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 02 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Greek prime minister said today he is willing to compromise to save his country from financial chaos. He said he’d work with European leaders on a new credit deal, but those leaders say they won’t talk about that until Greeks vote in a referendum Sunday. Greece’s previous loan deal expired yesterday. The banks are still closed, and the country is very close to broke. Joanna Kakissis has the latest from Athens.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: In a short televised address, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that he was still fighting hard for them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALEXIS TSIPRAS: (Through interpreter) We have been fighting all these months to protect your pensions and to make sure you have respectable ones. The proposals the lenders tried to blackmail us into signing would have cut your pensions. And that’s why we declined, and that’s why they’re taking revenge on us now.

KAKISSIS: That revenge, he says, is the closing of Greek banks and the limit on cash withdrawals until at least next week. But economist Platon Tinios says the European Central Bank had been using Greek government bonds as collateral to finance the banks. And since the previous bailout expired yesterday, that collateral may now be worthless.

PLATON TINIOS: So that would mean really big problems for the banks. The amount of money that the banks have on which they can lend will almost disappear.

KAKISSIS: The bank closures are affecting Kostas Youderis. The small fabric factory where he works can’t pay him until the banks reopen and credit is restored. The prime minister says Greeks should not regard Sunday’s vote as a referendum on the euro, but Youderis says that’s exactly how he sees it.

KOSTAS YOUDERIS: (Speaking Greek).

KAKISSIS: “If we drop the euro and return to our old drachma,” he says, “we will all be crying in our mother’s arms. We will go right off a cliff.” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who leads the eurozone finance ministers, hinted that the blame for the crisis lay mostly with the Greek government, and he apologized to Greeks who feel like they’re expulsion from the euro is imminent.

JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM: Finally, I can just say that I’m very sorry about the situation, given the strong determination of the Greek people to be a part of Europe and to remain a part of the eurozone in which we fully support them.

KAKISSIS: Tsipras has asked Greeks to vote no on Sunday’s referendum in order to get a better deal from creditors. For NPR News, I’m Joanna Kakissis in Athens.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/01/419240759/greece-moves-forward-with-referendum-on-proposed-bailout?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Puerto Rico Says With Restructuring It Can Pay Off Debts

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 02 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We’ve been talking a lot about Greece’s financial crisis, but Puerto Rico has also been on the brink of financial collapse. Hundreds of millions of dollars in debt payments were due today, and media sources say that Puerto Rico did make those payments. But it’s still most likely the Commonwealth is not going to be able to pay off its entire debt, which totals $73 billion.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Earlier this week, the governor of Puerto Rico said he’ll seek a moratorium on paying back the loans in order to allow Puerto Rico to rebuild its economy. To find out more about the island’s debt burden and what it means for residents there, we called Luis Vega Ramos. He’s a member of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives.

LUIS VEGA RAMOS: We have cut spending in great terms during during the last two and a half years. We have reformed the banking system. We have enacted new tax measures for the people of Puerto Rico so we that can have more revenue. We’ve reduced operating expenses of the government close to $2 billion so far. And the only element of our public expenditure that is on the rise is still the payment of our public debt.

MARTIN: To say that you cannot pay back $73 billion in debt, understanding that you’re trying to restructure to be able meet some of those payments, what does this mean for Puerto Rico’s ability to secure international loans in the future?

RAMOS: Well, I mean, Puerto Rico can only secure loans, through our current political situation, through the U.S. municipal bond market. And the reality is that option has been practically non-available. So, in that sense, saying what we have said practically doesn’t change the possibility of Puerto Rico moving out and getting more financial loans. What we’re saying is we intend to pay, but we need to restructure the nature of those payments.

MARTIN: I understand this is a complicated question, but how did this happen – $73 billion in debt?

RAMOS: Well, it’s a combination of factors. Obviously, there is a financial crisis worldwide. To that, we also have to add some not-so-wise practices of borrowing money to use in operational expenditures instead of on capital improvements. And that’s like using the money to pay for the mortgage in order to buy perishable items.

MARTIN: As this financial crisis in Puerto Rico has unraveled over the past few years, there’s been a pretty steady exodus of Puerto Ricans to the United States and other places. Are you expecting that the fixes that you’ve outlined – are you expecting people to feel secure enough in Puerto Rico’s future that they come home? How is this likely to affect the lives of your residents and citizens who have dispersed?

RAMOS: That’s where I think our debt holders, by agreeing on new terms so that we can pay what we owe – that the money that we don’t have to pay up front can be used in certain, specific investments that promote the economy of Puerto Rico. The reason of development like aeronautics, like science and technology and medical – if we get an injection that permit us to develop those very important pockets of economic development, we’ll be in a better position to pay our debt holders. And we’ll also be in a better position to depend less and less and less on fellow subsidies for our working poor.

MARTIN: Luis Vega Ramos is a member of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives. Thanks so much for talking with us, sir.

RAMOS: Thank you very much – a privilege.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/01/419240842/puerto-rico-says-with-restructuring-it-can-pay-off-debts?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Puerto Rico’s Governor Seeks To Delay Debt Payments

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 01 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That’s the debt crisis in the Mediterranean. Closer to home in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is facing a fiscal crisis of its own. After years of borrowing to cover budget shortfalls, the U.S. territory is more than $72 billion in debt and faces some important deadlines tomorrow. The governor there, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, gave a televised address last night. In it, he warned residents that there would have to be sacrifices, and some of them would have to be borne by creditors. The governor is proposing a multi-year moratorium on debt payments.

NPR’s Greg Allen joins us now from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Greg, today, Puerto Rico’s bonds fell in value for the second day in a row, the first following an interview in which the governor called Puerto Rico’s debt, quote, “unpayable.” Is the governor threatening to default at this point?

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Well, bondholders might disagree, Rachel. But officials here say definitely not. They say – what they’re asking is in the best interest not just of Puerto Rico but also the bondholders and the hedge funds that hold Puerto Rico’s debt. What Puerto Rico wants is better terms from its lenders, even, as the governor said last night, a moratorium on debt payments for a couple of years until the island can get its economy going again. I spoke today to a representative from the governor’s party, Rep. Luis Vega Ramos. He’s – he compared Puerto Rico to a family that’s had a setback and can no longer pay their home mortgage. Here’s what he had to say.

LUIS VEGA RAMOS: That family does what Puerto Rico needs to do now. They put their best suit and tie. They go to the bank, and they say to the bank people, we’ve never missed a mortgage payment. We cannot pay you as it is right now. So in one pocket, I have my checkbook, and I can structure a new way of paying you. Or in the other pocket, I have the keys to the house.

MARTIN: OK, but is there any reason to believe that lenders in Puerto Rico want the keys to the house?

ALLEN: I don’t think they do. Lenders really just want their money. The main thing Puerto Rico has going for it at this point is that lenders – they don’t want assets like the island’s troubled power company. So the lenders are at the table negotiating, but something like a multi-year moratorium on debt payments that the governor’s asked for – that might be a bit of a stretch.

MARTIN: Puerto Rico has to make some big debt payments tomorrow. What are people saying? Does it have the money?

ALLEN: Well, clearly they have some. Puerto Rico’s reported to have paid off a $700 million short-term loan to a group of banks today. The head of the government bank has said they will have the cash to make a big debt payment tomorrow on general obligation bonds. But there’s other things going – out there. The island power company has a big payment due tomorrow and Puerto Rico officials have been doing last-minute negotiations with bondholders in that deal. It looks like they might have a deal where the power company pays much of what it owes and is able to postpone paying back part of the debt while negotiations continue there.

MARTIN: You’re there in San Juan, Greg. What’s it feel like walking around the city for average workers? What does it feel like to them?

ALLEN: Well, you know, it seems like a crisis to me because the way we report it. Then you get here, and you realize that things have been so bad for so long that I think for most people here, it’s just another day. In the governor’s address last night, he talked about pain and shared sacrifice. And we’ll have to see what that means because in the past, when there’s been big layoffs of government workers, cuts to education spending – things that did cause pain – there were big protests in the streets. So we won’t know until probably August or later. The governor’s appointed a working group to work something out with lenders, and we’ll see what they come up with and whether big spending cuts are going to be part of that picture.

MARTIN: NPR’s Greg Allen in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thanks so much, Greg.

ALLEN: You’re welcome.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/30/418924548/puerto-ricos-governor-seeks-to-delay-debt-payments?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

U.S. And Cuba Will Formally Re-Establish Diplomatic Relations

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 01 2015

A White House administration official confirms that the United States and Cuba have come to an agreement to formally re-establish diplomatic relations and open embassies in Havana and Washington.

The Obama administration will announce the agreement on Wednesday.

As NPR’s Krishnadev Calamur has explained, the U.S. imposed sanctions and then broke off diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro’s communist regime in the early 1960s.

Krishnadev gives us a little more history on the embargo and restrictions:

“The George W. Bush administration had tightened the embargo and increased travel restrictions, but Obama eased those soon after assuming office in 2009. And as CFR notes, ‘He went further in 2011 to undo many of the restrictions imposed by the Bush administration, thus allowing U.S. citizens to send remittances to non-family members in Cuba and to travel to Cuba for educational or religious purposes.’

“Cuba, too, is changing, as this story on NPR’s Morning Edition by Nick Miroff notes. Raul Castro has introduced modest changes to a country cossetted for decades by a socialist economic model. Obama has acknowledged these changes and called for a renewed approach to the nation.

” ‘We have to be creative,’ he said last month in Miami. ‘And we have to be thoughtful. And we have to continue to update our policies. Keep in mind that when Castro came to power, I was just born.’ “

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/30/418966890/u-s-and-cuba-will-formally-re-establish-diplomatic-relations?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Peru’s Pitmasters Bury Their Meat In The Earth, Inca-Style

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 01 2015

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A traditional pachamanca in Peru in 2012.

A traditional pachamanca in Peru in 2012.



Sam Grey/Flickr

What’s the epitome of summer for a lot of Americans? It’s communing around a grill, with friends and family, waiting for a slab of meat to cook to juicy perfection.

In Peru, people like to gather around heat and meat, too. Except the heat — and the meat — are buried in the ground. It’s called pachamanca, a traditional way of cooking that dates back to the Inca Empire. The pit cooking technique has evolved over time but remains an important part of the Peruvian cuisine and culture, especially in the central Peruvian Andes all year-round for family get-togethers and celebrations.

Imagine a cornucopia of dozens of potatoes and corn ears and giant slabs of well-marinated meat, stacked carefully in layers (like these carefully constructed Pizza Hut salad bar salads). Pachamanca is that cornucopia turned upside-down and sealed for hours.

Pachamanca is the combination of two words in the Quechua language: pacha, for earth and manka for pot. To make one, “you basically make a pot in the earth,” says Rosa Maria La Madrid, foodways coordinator of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which is held on the National Mall this year from June 24 to July 5 and this year has Peru as its central theme. Traditionally, you’d dig a hole in the earth. But since this pachamanca demo that happened Friday was on the National Mall, the team improvised by building a small oven with bricks above ground.

Big volcanic rocks serve as heat source, so instead of grilling your meat, you grill the rocks over fire for roughly an hour.

“It has to be volcanic rocks that can support all the heat or else the rock will burst,” La Madrid says. The rocks used for demonstration were lava rocks that came from a local gardening store, she says.

After the rocks are blazing hot, they become the bottommost layer of the pit. Then the first layer of food goes on: vegetables that need longer cooking times like potatoes, sweet potatoes and the Peruvian tubers yucca, oca and mashwa. The second layer is the meat — a whole lot of it.

“We use three to four types of meat,” La Madrid says, “The most common ones are chicken, beef and pork. You can also use lamb and mutton. We call these different types of meat Pachamanca flavors.”

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People throw potatoes into a pachamanca during the gastronomic fair Mistura in Lima in 2011.

Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images


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Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

People throw potatoes into a pachamanca during the gastronomic fair Mistura in Lima in 2011.

People throw potatoes into a pachamanca during the gastronomic fair Mistura in Lima in 2011.

Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Another layer of rocks — as hot as charcoal at this point — go on next. Then, it’s vegetables that need less cooking time, such as corn, fava beans in their pods, a little pot with cheese inside it and sweet Peruvian tamales.

After the food is in there, it’s time to cover it all up. Banana and plantain leaves go first to give some flavoring, and then craft paper (think your brown lunch bag), polyester fabric and some cotton fabric too. Lastly, soil is put on top. Traditionally, the soil covers almost all of the fabric, but here at the demonstration it was only sprinkled on for safety reasons.

A little cross and flowers go on top. Then, according to La Madrid, you designate someone to be the godfather and godmother for the pachamanca. It’s typically the person in charge and it’s their job to bring beer for everyone at the end.

Now, you can go grab that beer, or the sweet fermented corn drink chicha as the oven to does its magic for one to two hours. Seasoning slathered onto the meat is steaming and trickles down through the layers to every single potato at the bottom. When the pit is opened, even the steam that emerges is filled with a delicious smoky aroma.

“Sunday is for family and pachamanca is a very Sunday dish,” La Madrid says. It’s not only a family activity that involves many helping hands, but the big portions can easily feed a whole extended family.

Unfortunately, the food prepared at the demonstration is not for consumption, so the pachamanca made wasn’t served, although La Madrid said everything turned out well. It’s said that the meat is very similar to barbequed meat, a little charred on the outside but much more moist on the inside. There’s no extra sauces needed since the seasoning provides the flavor and the steaming helped spread the seasoning everywhere.

Pachamanca-style pit cooking also exists in other South American regions under a different name, such as curanto in Patagonia. Francis Mallman, an Argentine chef and guru of cooking with fire, praises pit cooking and its unique flavors in the documentary series Chef’s Table.

“The taste you get from this pit in the vegetables is amazing because they’re extremely moist and smoky,” Mallman says on the show.

So there you have it — a steaming pit full of ancient Inca traditions. Better start loading up on those volcanic rocks (which can be found at local gardening stores) if you want to try your hand at the recreating a Peruvian taste in your backyard.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/30/418845104/perus-pitmasters-bury-their-meat-in-the-earth-inca-style?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Like Greece, Cash-Strapped Puerto Rico Needs A Fiscal Lifeline

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jun 30 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Over the weekend, two dramas played out simultaneously in the world’s financial markets. In Greece, the government announced it would shut down the country’s banks after efforts to reach agreement with its European creditors ran aground. And in Puerto Rico, the governor of the U.S. territory announced that it could no longer pay its debts and would seek concessions from its creditors. As NPR’s Jim Zarroli reports, Puerto Rico’s debt troubles have a lot in common with those of Greece and there are also important differences.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Like Greece, Puerto Rico saw its economy weaken substantially during the past decade. Its unemployment rate soared. For a while, Puerto Rico borrowed heavily to keep up government spending, but over time, it couldn’t get out of the fiscal hole it had dug. David Tawil is president of Maglan Capital, which purchases distressed government debt.

DAVID TAWIL: Greece seems to have some pretty fundamental headwinds that it faces, you know, in terms of its economy, in terms of its tax collection, in terms of its pension burden. Puerto Rico has a lot of those same types of issues.

ZARROLI: Today, Puerto Rico was unable to pay its debts and its governor says he will ask its creditors for more time. While the Treasury Department isn’t commenting on Puerto Rico’s problems, there have been published reports that the island is seeking a loan from the federal government. With the bond markets all but closed to the commonwealth, any solution to Puerto Rico’s troubles is likely to involve some type of federal help. Economist Arturo Porzecanski teaches at American University.

ARTURO PORZECANSKI: What Greece is for the eurozone, that’s what Puerto Rico’s going to become for us. It is going to become a territory which we’re going to have to subsidize even more than before, give more tax breaks; eventually give federal aid.

ZARROLI: But there are important differences that mitigate Puerto Rico’s risk to the financial system. Puerto Rico is a tiny part of the U.S. economy, even smaller than Greece is to the eurozone. And because the island a U.S. territory, its banks are already guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. That prevents the kind of bank runs now plaguing Greece. David Tawil says the mutual funds and banks that invested in Puerto Rican bonds have had ample warning about the island’s troubles and many sold off their holdings at a loss long ago.

TAWIL: The fact that we – the market has had such a heads up for so long has allowed anyone who’s wanted to bail on the sinking ship, so to say, to get out. And those folks that see opportunity, you know, went in with eyes wide open.

ZARROLI: Many of those who still hold Puerto Rican bonds are distressed debt investors who bought them cheap and are hanging on in hopes of making a killing. If Puerto Rico isn’t the kind of systemic problem that Greece has been, it does present policy challenges to the federal government. Former IMF economist Andrew Wolfe is one of the authors of a report on Puerto Rico that was released today.

ANDREW WOLFE: The interesting dilemma I think for the U.S. Treasury is, you know, what type of assistance can they give and what precedent does it send to other distressed states, let’s say, that may come down the pipe.

ZARROLI: Wolfe says there are a lot of cities and states in fiscal trouble right now. As conditions on Puerto Rico deteriorate, they’ll be watching to see what kind of help Washington prides. And Washington will want to avoid sending signals that it’s ready to provide bailouts to all who find themselves in trouble. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/29/418641161/like-greece-to-europe-puerto-rico-is-americas-sinking-ship?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world