Business Feed

Algerian Cartoonist Faces 18 Months in Jail for Mocking President

Global Voices - Business Feed - Mon, 02/17/2014 - 2:41am

[All links lead to French-language web pages.]

His name is Djamel Ghanem, and he's a young Algerian cartoonist. His job is no fun in a country where censorship and prosecution await those who dare to speak their minds. Ghanem faces 18 months in prison for an unpublished caricature of Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika that was deemed offensive by the authorities. 

Djamel Ghanem via Algérie Focus. Used with permission

In fact, President Bouteflika is not represented or even directly mentioned in the unpublished cartoon. The drawing portrays two citizens mocking the fourth term the current president is seeking after ruling Algeria for 15 years. The caricature compares the fourth mandate to baby diapers. With the drawing, Ghanem wanted to convey the idea that Algerians are treated like children.

For that, he was taken to court and threatened with imprisonment. The district attorney of Oran, the second largest city in Algeria, located 400 kilometers northwest of the capital Algiers, wanted the cartoonist to admit that he had the intention of insulting the president. But Ghanem categorically denied that he had such intention. 

Neither Bouteflika nor his advisers filed the suit against Ghanem. It was Ghanem's former employer, La Voix de l'Oranie (Voice of Oran), a daily newspaper known for its pro-regime editorial line, who sued him for the cartoon which was never published in the media. 

Sued by his own newspaper, Ghanem saw all the doors of Algerian media closing in his face. Interviewed by Algerie-Focus, Ghanem explained that he has had difficulties finding a lawyer to defend his cause along with other challenges: 

Le directeur de publication d’un autre quotidien a été menacé si jamais il me recrutait. Je suis devenu persona non grata. A travers moi, ils veulent abattre l’opposition algérienne qui dit non à un quatrième mandat

the director of another newspaper was advised to not hire me. I became persona non-grata. Through me, they want to thwart the opposition who is fighting against a fourth term for the president.

After the case's first hearing, the judges requested an 18-month prison sentence against Ghanem. The final ruling is expected next month on March 4. Meanwhile, netizens are voicing their support for and solidarity with Ghanem. An online petition demands that Ghanem be let go:

Si les médias et l’opinion se taisaient sur cette atteinte à la liberté d’expression et ces violations des droits d’un citoyen dans les bureaux d’un juge, les tribunaux pourraient demain condamner un journaliste pour avoir pensé du mal du président de la république, d’un gradé de l’armée, d’un ministre ou d’un élu. Nous signataires de cet appel exigeons l’arrêt des poursuites judiciaires engagées contre Djamel Ghanem

If the media and the opinion keep quiet on this infringement of freedom of expression and the violation of a citizen's rights, then tomorrow any court can charge a journalist for criticizing the president of the republic, an army official, a minister or a deputy. With this petition, we demand an end to the prosecution against Djamel Ghanem.

By shielding the president against any criticism, the administration is trying to impose a totalitarian ideology upon its citizens. Freedom of expression is at risk in Algeria. Ghanem's case is a typical example of how dire the situation is for cartoonists and other people willing to speak up.

Categories: Business Feed

Ending Illegal Logging and Launching Forest Carbon Credits in Madagascar

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/14/2014 - 11:19am

Illegally logged rosewood from Masoala and Marojejy in Antalaha, Madagascar via wikipedia CC-BY-2.0

The new administration in Madagascar is seemingly making a concerted effort to curb down deforestation in Madagascar. First, new president Hery Rajaonarimampianina has made ending illegal logging of Madagascar rosewood a priority at his first executive meeting[fr]. Second, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced that the Government of Madagascar has approved carbon sales with Microsoft and its carbon offset partner, The CarbonNeutral Company, and Zoo Zurich. The funds from carbon sales will be used by Makira REDD+ Project for conservation, capacity building, and enforcement activities related to conservation of Madagascar's rainforest. It is yet to be seen whether these measures will be implemented in the field. 

Categories: Business Feed

Why are Rice Farmers Protesting in Thailand?

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 11:44pm

Protesting farmers in front of the Ministry of Commerce in Bangkok. Photo by Karnt Thassanaphak, Copyright@Demotix (2/6/2014)

Hundreds of rice farmers have been protesting in the past several days in Bangkok after the Thailand government has repeatedly failed to provide payments under the rice pledging program. Delayed payments have already reached 130 billion Baht affecting more than a million farmers.

Introduced in 2011 after the election victory of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the program involved the government buying the rice output of local farmers at high a price before reselling the rice to the global market. The program was meant to improve the savings of farmers.

For five decades, Thailand was the world’s largest rice exporter but it has been overtaken by India and Vietnam in recent years. Critics blame the rice pledging program for the huge financial losses in the rice sector.

The rice protest has intensified the country’s political crisis as anti-government protests continue to gather thousands in the streets of Bangkok.

Majority of farmer-protesters are not affiliated with the People's Democratic Reform Committee which has been the lead organizer of the anti-government protests. In fact, many farmers are from the village strongholds of the ruling party.

The opposition has expressed support to the protesting farmers and has initiated a donation campaign to help sustain the protest in the city. The opposition is also blaming corruption under the Yingluck government for the present suffering of rice farmers.

For its part, the government said it was unable to pay farmers because of the protests which caused the dissolution of the parliament. It urged protesters not to block or occupy government banks.

It assured farmers that the government is finding a mechanism on how to deliver the payments. It also rejected criticism that the rice subsidy program has become a disastrous populist policy:

Ultimate goal of the rice pledging scheme is not the Government’s popularity, but simply the upgrade of income security for the better lives of farmers, and for the better future of our posterity since rice farming means growing the better future on our own land without any impact to the country’s monetary and fiscal disciplines.

But Bangkok Pundit believes a new subsidy program should be implemented by the government:

…some other form of subsidy which doesn’t involve the government being in the business of selling rice is a better option. A direct subsidy of something similar would be a much easier scheme to implement and manage. You can set a budget and you wouldn’t have to go through the problems the government is facing now with trying to issue bonds and who to borrow the money from.

Below are some photos and reaction on Twitter. In this photo, farmers mounted a street blockade near Bangkok, the country's capital.

How many Thai rice farmers does it take to blockade key transportation arteries? Not many. http://t.co/wMu7XMPFLm pic.twitter.com/Hrnjinfqgt

— Andrew Clark (@qandrew) February 6, 2014

Bangkok protesters showed solidarity to the farmers by gathering cash donations:

Protesters donating money to help rice farmers, many of whom have not been paid by govt. since Oct. 2013 pic.twitter.com/RzLRTb8I7O

— teamkorn (@teamkorn) February 7, 2014

@PravitR thinks the Prime Minister should immediately apologize to farmers:

Yingluck should meet affected rice farmers right away & apologize instead of playing hide & seek with PDRC. #Thailand #Yingluck

— Pravit Rojanaphruk (@PravitR) February 5, 2014

This morning I am praying for #rice #farmers that they be paid fairly for all their hard work.

— Stewart Perry (@bangkokpastor) February 5, 2014

Personally think YL govt politicized rice issue2 by blaming late payment solely on protest pressure on banks, ignored own failure 2sell rice

— Waan Chomchuen (@waanspeaking) February 7, 2014

Categories: Business Feed

Why are Rice Farmers Protesting in Thailand?

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 11:44pm

Protesting farmers in front of the Ministry of Commerce in Bangkok. Photo by Karnt Thassanaphak, Copyright@Demotix (2/6/2014)

Hundreds of rice farmers have been protesting in the past several days in Bangkok after the Thailand government has repeatedly failed to provide payments under the rice pledging program. Delayed payments have already reached 130 billion Baht affecting more than a million farmers.

Introduced in 2011 after the election victory of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the program involved the government buying the rice output of local farmers at high a price before reselling the rice to the global market. The program was meant to improve the savings of farmers.

For five decades, Thailand was the world’s largest rice exporter but it has been overtaken by India and Vietnam in recent years. Critics blame the rice pledging program for the huge financial losses in the rice sector.

The rice protest has intensified the country’s political crisis as anti-government protests continue to gather thousands in the streets of Bangkok.

Majority of farmer-protesters are not affiliated with the People's Democratic Reform Committee which has been the lead organizer of the anti-government protests. In fact, many farmers are from the village strongholds of the ruling party.

The opposition has expressed support to the protesting farmers and has initiated a donation campaign to help sustain the protest in the city. The opposition is also blaming corruption under the Yingluck government for the present suffering of rice farmers.

For its part, the government said it was unable to pay farmers because of the protests which caused the dissolution of the parliament. It urged protesters not to block or occupy government banks.

It assured farmers that the government is finding a mechanism on how to deliver the payments. It also rejected criticism that the rice subsidy program has become a disastrous populist policy:

Ultimate goal of the rice pledging scheme is not the Government’s popularity, but simply the upgrade of income security for the better lives of farmers, and for the better future of our posterity since rice farming means growing the better future on our own land without any impact to the country’s monetary and fiscal disciplines.

But Bangkok Pundit believes a new subsidy program should be implemented by the government:

…some other form of subsidy which doesn’t involve the government being in the business of selling rice is a better option. A direct subsidy of something similar would be a much easier scheme to implement and manage. You can set a budget and you wouldn’t have to go through the problems the government is facing now with trying to issue bonds and who to borrow the money from.

Below are some photos and reaction on Twitter. In this photo, farmers mounted a street blockade near Bangkok, the country's capital.

How many Thai rice farmers does it take to blockade key transportation arteries? Not many. http://t.co/wMu7XMPFLm pic.twitter.com/Hrnjinfqgt

— Andrew Clark (@qandrew) February 6, 2014

Bangkok protesters showed solidarity to the farmers by gathering cash donations:

Protesters donating money to help rice farmers, many of whom have not been paid by govt. since Oct. 2013 pic.twitter.com/RzLRTb8I7O

— teamkorn (@teamkorn) February 7, 2014

@PravitR thinks the Prime Minister should immediately apologize to farmers:

Yingluck should meet affected rice farmers right away & apologize instead of playing hide & seek with PDRC. #Thailand #Yingluck

— Pravit Rojanaphruk (@PravitR) February 5, 2014

This morning I am praying for #rice #farmers that they be paid fairly for all their hard work.

— Stewart Perry (@bangkokpastor) February 5, 2014

Personally think YL govt politicized rice issue2 by blaming late payment solely on protest pressure on banks, ignored own failure 2sell rice

— Waan Chomchuen (@waanspeaking) February 7, 2014

Categories: Business Feed

India's Solar Vision Promises Clean Energy And Happy Farmers

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 4:37pm

Array of solar panels at Auroville, Pondicherry, India. Image from Flickr by Amaresh Sundaram Kuppuswamy. CC BY-NC-SA

Around 628 million people around the world do not have access to electricity and 290 million of them are from rural India. Many Indian farmers have to rely on archaic power grids and fossil fuels to run water pumps for their irrigation.

The Indian government is aiming to replace 26 million diesel-powered groundwater pumps with more efficient solar-powered irrigation models. This will save about six billion US dollars a year in electricity and diesel subsidies for the country. This will also help tackle the rising demand for coal as two-thirds of the country's electricity is generated by coal. Additionally crowd-sourcing of unused solar power will also add a lot of energy to the national grid.

India nearly doubled its solar capacity in 2013 to a cumulative 2.18 gigawatts of power. The country plans to install 10 GW of solar plants by 2017 and 20 GW by 2022, according to the the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), India’s flagship solar policy. India is also considering to apply to the World Bank for a 500-million-US-dollar solar loan to build the world's largest solar power plant (4GW) in Sambhar in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Yadav K writes in Indian Public Sector blog details about the 4GW power plant in Sambhar:

The project will spread across 19,000 acres at Sambhar in Rajasthan and will entail an investment of Rs 7,500 crore in the first phase. [..] The solar PV (photo-voltaic) power plant will use PV modules based on crystalline silicon technology and with an estimated life of 25 years, the solar plant can supply 6,400 million units of energy per year. It eco-friendly project will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 4 million tonnes per year.

Katie Fehrenbacher writes in technology blog Gigaom:

As more devices become connected to networks and the Internet — here comes the Internet of Things — more and more of them will seek to have their own power source, and currently solar power is one of the cheapest and most mobile forms of distributed energy available. [..]

If India does reach these numbers of solar-powered water pumps, it would be the largest deployment of this technology in a single country. Reducing the grid electricity usage, and the use of expensive diesel, will not only lower carbon emissions, but it could also help the power grid operators better run their networks and reduce the power costs for the farmers.

Here are more reactions on Twitter:

$1.6 billion of investment in 5 years as the first 200,000 pumps go solar to save India’s Archaic Grid http://t.co/qa3b5fH28P

— Divyam Nagpal (@DivyamNagpal) February 8, 2014

India to build world's largest solar plant – 4,000 MW, 77 sq km area http://t.co/91LsPxZjIG Great…but when?? We are great at announcing!

— Amit Paranjape (@aparanjape) February 5, 2014

Solar energy production cost in India has reduced to half in recent years. It has shrunk to 7.50 rupees per kWh. #1 #solar

— Abdul Azeez (@abdulazeezsk) February 8, 2014

However, the rapid development requires industrial production of Solar plants which may create new bio-hazard:

Millions of tons of lead are dumped into rivers and farmland around solar panel factories in China and India,

— Earth Debt (@DebtSlave7bn) February 8, 2014

Blogger & Solar Energy expert Ritesh Pothan thinks that there are a number of issues that must be resolved if 2014 is to see India make any progress towards its solar ambitions.

More info on India's solar developments can be found in Renewable Energy India and Solar Power India Facebook pages.

Categories: Business Feed

India's Solar Vision Promises Clean Energy And Happy Farmers

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 4:37pm

Array of solar panels at Auroville, Pondicherry, India. Image from Flickr by Amaresh Sundaram Kuppuswamy. CC BY-NC-SA

Around 628 million people around the world do not have access to electricity and 290 million of them are from rural India. Many Indian farmers have to rely on archaic power grids and fossil fuels to run water pumps for their irrigation.

The Indian government is aiming to replace 26 million diesel-powered groundwater pumps with more efficient solar-powered irrigation models. This will save about six billion US dollars a year in electricity and diesel subsidies for the country. This will also help tackle the rising demand for coal as two-thirds of the country's electricity is generated by coal. Additionally crowd-sourcing of unused solar power will also add a lot of energy to the national grid.

India nearly doubled its solar capacity in 2013 to a cumulative 2.18 gigawatts of power. The country plans to install 10 GW of solar plants by 2017 and 20 GW by 2022, according to the the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), India’s flagship solar policy. India is also considering to apply to the World Bank for a 500-million-US-dollar solar loan to build the world's largest solar power plant (4GW) in Sambhar in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Yadav K writes in Indian Public Sector blog details about the 4GW power plant in Sambhar:

The project will spread across 19,000 acres at Sambhar in Rajasthan and will entail an investment of Rs 7,500 crore in the first phase. [..] The solar PV (photo-voltaic) power plant will use PV modules based on crystalline silicon technology and with an estimated life of 25 years, the solar plant can supply 6,400 million units of energy per year. It eco-friendly project will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 4 million tonnes per year.

Katie Fehrenbacher writes in technology blog Gigaom:

As more devices become connected to networks and the Internet — here comes the Internet of Things — more and more of them will seek to have their own power source, and currently solar power is one of the cheapest and most mobile forms of distributed energy available. [..]

If India does reach these numbers of solar-powered water pumps, it would be the largest deployment of this technology in a single country. Reducing the grid electricity usage, and the use of expensive diesel, will not only lower carbon emissions, but it could also help the power grid operators better run their networks and reduce the power costs for the farmers.

Here are more reactions on Twitter:

$1.6 billion of investment in 5 years as the first 200,000 pumps go solar to save India’s Archaic Grid http://t.co/qa3b5fH28P

— Divyam Nagpal (@DivyamNagpal) February 8, 2014

India to build world's largest solar plant – 4,000 MW, 77 sq km area http://t.co/91LsPxZjIG Great…but when?? We are great at announcing!

— Amit Paranjape (@aparanjape) February 5, 2014

Solar energy production cost in India has reduced to half in recent years. It has shrunk to 7.50 rupees per kWh. #1 #solar

— Abdul Azeez (@abdulazeezsk) February 8, 2014

However, the rapid development requires industrial production of Solar plants which may create new bio-hazard:

Millions of tons of lead are dumped into rivers and farmland around solar panel factories in China and India,

— Earth Debt (@DebtSlave7bn) February 8, 2014

Blogger & Solar Energy expert Ritesh Pothan thinks that there are a number of issues that must be resolved if 2014 is to see India make any progress towards its solar ambitions.

More info on India's solar developments can be found in Renewable Energy India and Solar Power India Facebook pages.

Categories: Business Feed

Yemenis Demand an End to Corruption and Unfair Sales Deals

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 2:39pm

Yemenis are back on the streets demanding their country's wealth – and holding those who squander it accountable.

Under the slogan “The People Reclaim Their Wealth” Yemen's revolutionary youth joined Yemen's Revolution Electronic Coordination (YREC) to demand the cancellation of what they describe as “unfair” liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales agreements, bleeding the country's resources.

According to on-going agreements, the former regime cheaply sold Yemen's LNG to France's Total and Korean Kogas, costing Yemen more than US$ 4 billion dollars in losses annually. Protesters claimed that LNG is sold below market price to those companies, following corrupt deals. They say that while Yemen sells its gas for US$ 2, the current market price for the gas is US$ 10.

Protesters also demanded compensation for the damage caused by the previous agreement and compelled the government to restore Yemen’s share in the production of LNG. According to the deal, Yemen keeps 22% of its LNG. The rest goes to benefit foreign companies, most notably Total's share of 39%.

On Thursday (February 6, 2014), the marches and rallies were staged across the capital Sana’a and in the western city of Hodeidah.

Protesters in the capital Sanaa marching and holding signs condemning Yemen's LNG sales agreement.

(video uploaded by presstv)

The slogan on the sign held in Hodeida's march reads “the people want to recover their wealth…the people want to recover their gas…the people want to recover their assets”

In Hodeidah, the rally started from the city’s Change Square, roaming a number of streets to mobilize citizens and make them aware of the corruption behind the deal.

Protesters in Hodeida holding signs demanding president Hadi to review Yemen's LNG deal


The campaign was adopted by the YREC two years ago under the slogan ” The People Reclaim Their Wealth ” to demand the restoration of Yemen's wealth and assets, to fight against corruption and to bring the corrupt signatories of such agreements to justice.

The campaign was widely accepted among Yemenis who are suffering from the severe economic conditions that the country is undergoing which has led the deterioration in their living conditions and decline into further poverty and unemployment levels.

Categories: Business Feed

Yemenis Demand an End to Corruption and Unfair Sales Deals

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 2:39pm

Yemenis are back on the streets demanding their country's wealth – and holding those who squander it accountable.

Under the slogan “The People Reclaim Their Wealth” Yemen's revolutionary youth joined Yemen's Revolution Electronic Coordination (YREC) to demand the cancellation of what they describe as “unfair” liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales agreements, bleeding the country's resources.

According to on-going agreements, the former regime cheaply sold Yemen's LNG to France's Total and Korean Kogas, costing Yemen more than US$ 4 billion dollars in losses annually. Protesters claimed that LNG is sold below market price to those companies, following corrupt deals. They say that while Yemen sells its gas for US$ 2, the current market price for the gas is US$ 10.

Protesters also demanded compensation for the damage caused by the previous agreement and compelled the government to restore Yemen’s share in the production of LNG. According to the deal, Yemen keeps 22% of its LNG. The rest goes to benefit foreign companies, most notably Total's share of 39%.

On Thursday (February 6, 2014), the marches and rallies were staged across the capital Sana’a and in the western city of Hodeidah.

Protesters in the capital Sanaa marching and holding signs condemning Yemen's LNG sales agreement.

(video uploaded by presstv)

The slogan on the sign held in Hodeida's march reads “the people want to recover their wealth…the people want to recover their gas…the people want to recover their assets”

In Hodeidah, the rally started from the city’s Change Square, roaming a number of streets to mobilize citizens and make them aware of the corruption behind the deal.

Protesters in Hodeida holding signs demanding president Hadi to review Yemen's LNG deal


The campaign was adopted by the YREC two years ago under the slogan ” The People Reclaim Their Wealth ” to demand the restoration of Yemen's wealth and assets, to fight against corruption and to bring the corrupt signatories of such agreements to justice.

The campaign was widely accepted among Yemenis who are suffering from the severe economic conditions that the country is undergoing which has led the deterioration in their living conditions and decline into further poverty and unemployment levels.

Categories: Business Feed

Public Buses Return To Cambodia’s Capital

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 5:48am

Promotional poster of the Phnom Penh bus trial.

Phnom Penh residents in Cambodia have one month to ride public buses which is part of an experiment to re-introduce public buses in the country’s capital in order to reduce traffic congestion.

Phnom Penh has one million motorbikes (motorcycle taxi or motodup) and 300,000 cars but this expanding urban hub surprisingly doesn’t have a mass transportation system.

The Phnom Penh governor hopes the one-month trial which will end on March 4 will help convince Cambodians to use public buses:

…the purpose of this pilot project is to reduce traffic accidents and traffic congestion as well as to change the Cambodians’ habit from using personal cars to public buses.

Public buses were first deployed in 2001 but the program lasted for only two months because of lack of government subsidies and passenger interest. Aside from riding the motor taxis, Phnom Penh residents also use the popular tuktuks.

Abigail Gilbert sees several benefits of using the bus:

The last public bus trial, more than 10 years ago, was not popular, as locals preferred the door to door service of the two-wheeled variety. This new City Bus trial, partly funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, will discover if attitudes have changed. There are some clear benefits for visitors to the city, including the icy air-con, the impossibility of bag snatching, a set fare, and a clearly marked route.

Phnom Penh resident and prominent blogger Tharum Bun welcomes the arrival of the buses:

We’ve talked a lot about traffic jam, too many motorcycles and vehicles, and no public transportation. Starting early this February, the bus will run on Monivong Boulevard. It’s an opportunity for most of us, who are willing to get back on the bus.

But Tharum learned that some motor taxi drivers are worried about the impact of the buses on their livelihood:

The motor taxi driver told me that he’s worried about this this public transportation as he’s got only one source of income.

The trial will involve 10 buses running every day from 5:30am until 8:30pm.

Many Phnom Penh residents were excited about the bus trial and they quickly posted photos of the public buses on Twitter:

Vitou waits for the bus. This is the first time for him. #cambodia pic.twitter.com/JBVAk3cDvU

— Santel PHIN (@khmerbird) February 9, 2014

First day of one month test w/ public bus in #phnompenh #Cambodia View fr my office at Monivong pic.twitter.com/uN6NDR6CUD

— Anna Maj Hultgård (@AnnaMajHultgard) February 5, 2014

One of #PhnomPenh's new public bus stops. Yeah, public bus is coming to town. FINALLY. #Cambodia pic.twitter.com/MTbIunoXdo

— Mongkol T. (@somongkol) January 26, 2014

#Cambodia's capital city Phnom Penh gets a public bus system http://t.co/YpKAvhOTv2 #transportation pic.twitter.com/B12haIY9mO

— M. Ibrahim (@RED_MHI) February 9, 2014

Finally a city bus service has arrived in Phnom Penh #Cambodia but will it get used? pic.twitter.com/cDjBSqjicH

— Khiri Cambodia (@KhiriCambodia) February 5, 2014

*Thumbnail used is from @KhiriCambodia

Categories: Business Feed

Public Buses Return To Cambodia’s Capital

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 5:48am

Promotional poster of the Phnom Penh bus trial.

Phnom Penh residents in Cambodia have one month to ride public buses which is part of an experiment to re-introduce public buses in the country’s capital in order to reduce traffic congestion.

Phnom Penh has one million motorbikes (motorcycle taxi or motodup) and 300,000 cars but this expanding urban hub surprisingly doesn’t have a mass transportation system.

The Phnom Penh governor hopes the one-month trial which will end on March 4 will help convince Cambodians to use public buses:

…the purpose of this pilot project is to reduce traffic accidents and traffic congestion as well as to change the Cambodians’ habit from using personal cars to public buses.

Public buses were first deployed in 2001 but the program lasted for only two months because of lack of government subsidies and passenger interest. Aside from riding the motor taxis, Phnom Penh residents also use the popular tuktuks.

Abigail Gilbert sees several benefits of using the bus:

The last public bus trial, more than 10 years ago, was not popular, as locals preferred the door to door service of the two-wheeled variety. This new City Bus trial, partly funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, will discover if attitudes have changed. There are some clear benefits for visitors to the city, including the icy air-con, the impossibility of bag snatching, a set fare, and a clearly marked route.

Phnom Penh resident and prominent blogger Tharum Bun welcomes the arrival of the buses:

We’ve talked a lot about traffic jam, too many motorcycles and vehicles, and no public transportation. Starting early this February, the bus will run on Monivong Boulevard. It’s an opportunity for most of us, who are willing to get back on the bus.

But Tharum learned that some motor taxi drivers are worried about the impact of the buses on their livelihood:

The motor taxi driver told me that he’s worried about this this public transportation as he’s got only one source of income.

The trial will involve 10 buses running every day from 5:30am until 8:30pm.

Many Phnom Penh residents were excited about the bus trial and they quickly posted photos of the public buses on Twitter:

Vitou waits for the bus. This is the first time for him. #cambodia pic.twitter.com/JBVAk3cDvU

— Santel PHIN (@khmerbird) February 9, 2014

First day of one month test w/ public bus in #phnompenh #Cambodia View fr my office at Monivong pic.twitter.com/uN6NDR6CUD

— Anna Maj Hultgård (@AnnaMajHultgard) February 5, 2014

One of #PhnomPenh's new public bus stops. Yeah, public bus is coming to town. FINALLY. #Cambodia pic.twitter.com/MTbIunoXdo

— Mongkol T. (@somongkol) January 26, 2014

#Cambodia's capital city Phnom Penh gets a public bus system http://t.co/YpKAvhOTv2 #transportation pic.twitter.com/B12haIY9mO

— M. Ibrahim (@RED_MHI) February 9, 2014

Finally a city bus service has arrived in Phnom Penh #Cambodia but will it get used? pic.twitter.com/cDjBSqjicH

— Khiri Cambodia (@KhiriCambodia) February 5, 2014

*Thumbnail used is from @KhiriCambodia

Categories: Business Feed

The Dependence of Russian Independent Television

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 10:58pm

Who is to blame for the demise of TV Rain? Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

In the last two weeks, seven satellite and cable television providers decided to stop broadcasting TV Rain, Russia’s only independent news station, cutting [ru] its national audience from just over ten million households to about two million. The catalyst for TV Rain’s troubles was a January survey the station conducted about the WWII Siege of Leningrad, which self-described Russian patriots interpreted as offensively worded. The apparent crackdown on the channel sparked a wave of anger from Russian Internet users, many of whom accused the Kremlin of forcing cable providers to abandon TV Rain.

TV Rain’s chief investor, Aleksandr Vinokurov, said at a press conference [ru] on February 4, 2014, that the station is “absolutely sure” that the companies now dropping the channel are doing so “under pressure.” Though he refused to name names, Julia Ioffe of The New Republic reported days earlier that Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff, Alexey Gromov, and another high-placed figure, Sergey Chemezov, have both called cable and satellite operators several times, demanding that they “boot” the station.

While Vinokurov’s February 4 comments in part reaffirmed the widespread perception that TV Rain is currently battling political censorship, he also seems to have precipitated a backlash against the station, leading some bloggers to highlight the financial backstory that perhaps diminishes the degree of political persecution at work.

In his comments, Vinokurov offered [ru] to let cable and satellite operators broadcast TV Rain for free during the 2014 calendar year. Writing for politcom.ru, analyst Tatiana Stanovaya asked [ru] why Vinokurov is trying to address a political problem with “marketing” solutions. (In a Facebook post [ru] hours earlier, Stanovaya went so far as to call Vinokurov “naïve.”) For others online, the press conference’s focus on “marketing” similarly turned attention away from ‘crackdown by the bloody regime’ toward questions about the television business and TV Rain’s troubled past in that industry.

Why, after all, does Vinokurov’s offer extend only to the end of the year? What is the incentive to sign TV Rain, if operators must renegotiate new (paid) contracts in 2015? Stanislav Apetian, the blogger known as Politrash (who is notorious for ties to the Russian establishment and for attacks on opposition leader Alexey Navalny), seized on this detail, writing the next day on LiveJournal and Facebook that TV Rain’s troubles are more financial than political.

Drawing on a June 2013 report in Forbes.ru, Apetian cataloged TV Rain’s growth since April 2010, pointing out that the station’s problems with cable and satellite operators are as old as TV Rain itself. In the past, the chief dispute with operators like “Tricolor” has been who should pay whom. For the first year that the station existed, virtually no one was interested in carrying TV Rain, unless the channel agreed to pay for the privilege. Moscow’s biggest cable provider, Akado, broadcasted the station for a week in 2010 and then dropped it. Months later, the satellite company NTV+ agreed to carry TV Rain, but only after Sindeeva appealed to Natalia Timakova, a close friend who happened to be the press secretary for then-President Dmitri Medvedev.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Vinokurov, whose private fortune bankrolls TV Rain, actively sought outside investors to share the burden (and hopefully the future profits) of running the station. He courted the money of Mikhail Prokhorov and Alisher Usmanov, two of the richest men in Russia, both of whom have close ties to the Kremlin. Vinokurov couldn’t reach a deal with either of them, telling Forbes.ru that their offers to invest in TV Rain were underwhelming. The failure to tie the station to a powerful elite group like Prokhorov’s or Usmanov’s would later have great costs for TV Rain. Instead, Vinokurov and Sindeeva appear to have ‘bet on the wrong horse,’ placing their hopes in President Medvedev.

Even from the start, loyalty to Medvedev was never easy. In late March 2011, Sindeeva actually pulled the channel’s most popular show, “Poet and Citizen,” off the air, claiming that a lyric in the program directed at Medvedev was excessively critical. After a Facebook post explaining her reasons for the censorship, Sindeeva even appeared [ru] on TV Rain itself to defend the decision, on-air.

President Medvedev visits TV Rain's studio. Medvedev center, Natalia Sindeeva right. 25 April 2011, Kremlin photo service, public domain.

TV Rain is often described as a product of the political thaw that occurred in Russia during Medvedev’s single term as president between 2008 and 2012. While this sentiment seems to imply that TV Rain bloomed into existence spontaneously, Apetian points out that the station failed to attract serious cable and satellite coverage until April 2011, when President Medvedev (less than a month after the “Poet and Citizen” scandal) personally visited the station’s office in downtown Moscow. Within weeks of Medvedev’s visit, Akado was broadcasting TV Rain again, even paying the station a “symbolic” 28 dollars per month for the rights. Before long, upward of 13 different operators were beaming the channel across the country—all suddenly amenable to TV Rain’s refusal to pay them any money.

Many of those cable and satellite companies are now backing away from TV Rain. Some are jumping on the bandwagon of moral outrage, faulting the station for its Leningrad Siege faux pas, and others cite business grounds. The suits running Russia’s cable and satellite operators have leapt at the chance to ditch TV Rain. That opportunity exists thanks to the mounting hostility of Russian apparatchiki and the decline of Medvedev’s political influence. But would a bit of bluster in the Duma and a few angry phone calls from a former arms-export official so easily sway an entire industry, if that industry wasn’t already itching to be rid of TV Rain?

Echo of Moscow pundit Anton Orekh asked this exact question in a blog post [ru] on February 4, arguing that cable and satellite operators can kill two birds with one stone by dropping TV Rain now, appeasing the conservatives in the Russian establishment and jettisoning a troublesome content-producer they never wanted in the first place.

The TV Rain developments suggest that its relative success was more a function of political protection (now gone) than business acumen. The station lost its patron before gaining the momentum necessary to stand on its own. Now the country's politicians and businessmen seem determined to watch it wither and die. That could very well happen—and soon.

Categories: Business Feed

The Dependence of Russian Independent Television

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 10:58pm

Who is to blame for the demise of TV Rain? Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

In the last two weeks, seven satellite and cable television providers decided to stop broadcasting TV Rain, Russia’s only independent news station, cutting [ru] its national audience from just over ten million households to about two million. The catalyst for TV Rain’s troubles was a January survey the station conducted about the WWII Siege of Leningrad, which self-described Russian patriots interpreted as offensively worded. The apparent crackdown on the channel sparked a wave of anger from Russian Internet users, many of whom accused the Kremlin of forcing cable providers to abandon TV Rain.

TV Rain’s chief investor, Aleksandr Vinokurov, said at a press conference [ru] on February 4, 2014, that the station is “absolutely sure” that the companies now dropping the channel are doing so “under pressure.” Though he refused to name names, Julia Ioffe of The New Republic reported days earlier that Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff, Alexey Gromov, and another high-placed figure, Sergey Chemezov, have both called cable and satellite operators several times, demanding that they “boot” the station.

While Vinokurov’s February 4 comments in part reaffirmed the widespread perception that TV Rain is currently battling political censorship, he also seems to have precipitated a backlash against the station, leading some bloggers to highlight the financial backstory that perhaps diminishes the degree of political persecution at work.

In his comments, Vinokurov offered [ru] to let cable and satellite operators broadcast TV Rain for free during the 2014 calendar year. Writing for politcom.ru, analyst Tatiana Stanovaya asked [ru] why Vinokurov is trying to address a political problem with “marketing” solutions. (In a Facebook post [ru] hours earlier, Stanovaya went so far as to call Vinokurov “naïve.”) For others online, the press conference’s focus on “marketing” similarly turned attention away from ‘crackdown by the bloody regime’ toward questions about the television business and TV Rain’s troubled past in that industry.

Why, after all, does Vinokurov’s offer extend only to the end of the year? What is the incentive to sign TV Rain, if operators must renegotiate new (paid) contracts in 2015? Stanislav Apetian, the blogger known as Politrash (who is notorious for ties to the Russian establishment and for attacks on opposition leader Alexey Navalny), seized on this detail, writing the next day on LiveJournal and Facebook that TV Rain’s troubles are more financial than political.

Drawing on a June 2013 report in Forbes.ru, Apetian cataloged TV Rain’s growth since April 2010, pointing out that the station’s problems with cable and satellite operators are as old as TV Rain itself. In the past, the chief dispute with operators like “Tricolor” has been who should pay whom. For the first year that the station existed, virtually no one was interested in carrying TV Rain, unless the channel agreed to pay for the privilege. Moscow’s biggest cable provider, Akado, broadcasted the station for a week in 2010 and then dropped it. Months later, the satellite company NTV+ agreed to carry TV Rain, but only after Sindeeva appealed to Natalia Timakova, a close friend who happened to be the press secretary for then-President Dmitri Medvedev.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Vinokurov, whose private fortune bankrolls TV Rain, actively sought outside investors to share the burden (and hopefully the future profits) of running the station. He courted the money of Mikhail Prokhorov and Alisher Usmanov, two of the richest men in Russia, both of whom have close ties to the Kremlin. Vinokurov couldn’t reach a deal with either of them, telling Forbes.ru that their offers to invest in TV Rain were underwhelming. The failure to tie the station to a powerful elite group like Prokhorov’s or Usmanov’s would later have great costs for TV Rain. Instead, Vinokurov and Sindeeva appear to have ‘bet on the wrong horse,’ placing their hopes in President Medvedev.

Even from the start, loyalty to Medvedev was never easy. In late March 2011, Sindeeva actually pulled the channel’s most popular show, “Poet and Citizen,” off the air, claiming that a lyric in the program directed at Medvedev was excessively critical. After a Facebook post explaining her reasons for the censorship, Sindeeva even appeared [ru] on TV Rain itself to defend the decision, on-air.

President Medvedev visits TV Rain's studio. Medvedev center, Natalia Sindeeva right. 25 April 2011, Kremlin photo service, public domain.

TV Rain is often described as a product of the political thaw that occurred in Russia during Medvedev’s single term as president between 2008 and 2012. While this sentiment seems to imply that TV Rain bloomed into existence spontaneously, Apetian points out that the station failed to attract serious cable and satellite coverage until April 2011, when President Medvedev (less than a month after the “Poet and Citizen” scandal) personally visited the station’s office in downtown Moscow. Within weeks of Medvedev’s visit, Akado was broadcasting TV Rain again, even paying the station a “symbolic” 28 dollars per month for the rights. Before long, upward of 13 different operators were beaming the channel across the country—all suddenly amenable to TV Rain’s refusal to pay them any money.

Many of those cable and satellite companies are now backing away from TV Rain. Some are jumping on the bandwagon of moral outrage, faulting the station for its Leningrad Siege faux pas, and others cite business grounds. The suits running Russia’s cable and satellite operators have leapt at the chance to ditch TV Rain. That opportunity exists thanks to the mounting hostility of Russian apparatchiki and the decline of Medvedev’s political influence. But would a bit of bluster in the Duma and a few angry phone calls from a former arms-export official so easily sway an entire industry, if that industry wasn’t already itching to be rid of TV Rain?

Echo of Moscow pundit Anton Orekh asked this exact question in a blog post [ru] on February 4, arguing that cable and satellite operators can kill two birds with one stone by dropping TV Rain now, appeasing the conservatives in the Russian establishment and jettisoning a troublesome content-producer they never wanted in the first place.

The TV Rain developments suggest that its relative success was more a function of political protection (now gone) than business acumen. The station lost its patron before gaining the momentum necessary to stand on its own. Now the country's politicians and businessmen seem determined to watch it wither and die. That could very well happen—and soon.

Categories: Business Feed

Station's Rights to Sochi Games Leave Caribbean Viewers in the Dark

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 9:02pm

Six Caribbean teams are competing in this year's winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: Bermudathe Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Naturally, sports fans throughout the region want to watch – but there's a problem. SportsMax, a premium subscription-based television station, has been awarded exclusive rights to the 2014 Sochi games in the Caribbean. “Inside The Games” reported on the details:

The deal, announced between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and  International Media Content Ltd (IMC), the parent company of SportsMax, is applicable for 21 nations and territories ranging from Anguilla to Trinidad and Tobago.

It consists of exclusive English language broadcast rights on all media platforms, with live coverage to be provided on both SportsMax and SportsMax2 for the duration of the Games when they get underway in Sochi.

Columbus Communications, owners of the Flow cable network which operates in several Caribbean territories, took to its social media outlets to address the issue:

Flow Fans, please be advised that SportsMax holds the exclusive broadcast rights to the '2014 Winter Olympics’ in the Caribbean for the period February 7th to 23rd 2014. Olympic programming will be broadcast mainly on Sportsmax 1 with some content on Sportsmax 2. Consequently, we are legally required to blackout the coverage of the games on all channels including but not limited to NBC & CBC who will be carrying portions of the SOCHI games. During the blackout periods the affected channels will carry a notice to our customers advising of the blackout requirement and directing you to SportsMax. 

We understand the inconvenience that this issue poses and are aware and acknowledge that blocked content is disruptive for our viewers, however we MUST comply. Once the broadcast rights to air a program is (sic) purchased we are obligated to block out that program (when requested) as both a legal and regulatory (TATT) obligation. Failing to comply could lead to legal actions against Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited. This arrangement is not unique to Trinidad, all video service providers worldwide will be required to take similar action based on the Network which has purchased the rights in that country. 

Irate Jamaicans posted on Flow Jamaica's Facebook page about having to pay to watch their team parading in the opening ceremony and competing in the games. Diego Armando Thomas had this to say

So because i don't have the #SportsMax package on #Flow I am not allowed to watch the #Olympics? This is BULL. You block the channels am paying for? Really!!!

Another viewer, David Valentine, urged Jamaicans to take action by writing to the Jamaican Broadcast Commission:

This is a sheg up situation, taking advantage of the people who no have no options. The blasted Olympics should not be held ransom, by forcing people to pay for some purely subscriber based channel. Imagine if Showtime did have the exclusive rights to the Olympics? Something wrong with this blow wow picture man. Them really corrupted. PEOPLE WRITE TO THE BROADCAST COMMISION!!

Others expressed their disgust on Twitter:

Coulda been watching the #WinterOlympics only @GoWithFlowJa chose to give all the rights to SportsMax who isn't even showing it live #SMH

— Kimberly (@K_Wil_) February 7, 2014

One viewer who subscribed to the SportsMax service was dissatisfied with the coverage of the opening ceremony:

I'm tryin to watch the dam Winter Olympics opening ceremony and these assholes on #SportsMax a chat STFU!!!’ And come off my screen!!!

— Lexy Nash (@WhoDatLexy876) February 7, 2014

Competitor cable provider Lime has been offering viewers in some of the countries in which it operates, a free trial of SportsMax for the duration of the games:

Get FREE Sportsmax trial during the Winter Olympics on LIME TV pic.twitter.com/h0A1Z7bsWA — Anderson Armstrong (@bloodarmstrong) February 7, 2014

The issue of broadcast rights for local television stations versus those of the cable company was discussed in this post:

Television programmes generate advertising revenue for broadcasters such as TV6 and CNC3. While customers pay cable providers for premium channels, it should be noted that  the programmes which occupy the schedules on these channels are governed by separate contracts.

While SportsMax is indigenous to the region, it is a pay-per-view service, and some netizens have complained about the failure of free-to-air broadcasters to obtain rights to the games. Yvon Tripper commented on an article in the Bermuda Royal Gazette:

IOC simply gives rights to the highest bidder. Nothing is stopping a Bermuda-based broadcaster from asking the IOC for Bermuda-only rights, and then just using the American and Canadian feeds. If no one in Bermuda pays for broadcast rights for the island's Olympic coverage rights, then there's no point in complaining when someone else does. The IOC would be happy to exclude Bermuda from the Caribbean region if it mean that they got more money — it's all about the Redbirds, baby.

While Trinidad and Tobago is not competing in the games, none of the terrestrial broadcasters have purchased rights to the games, forcing interested viewers to subscribe to SportsMax for live coverage. Annoyed cable subscribers vented their feelings on Twitter:

.@SportsMax_Carib bought the rights. RT @DayVan_TeaMal: Why is the Sochi Olympics blocked on @Flowtt? — Hassan Voyeau (@tech_tt) February 6, 2014

@Flowtt well give us Sportsmax free during that time

— ?Mark De Silva? (@Markanthonysilv) February 7, 2014

The Sochi Games run until February 23, 2014.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Giga Paitchadze, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. Visit Giga Paitchadze's flickr photostream.
Categories: Business Feed

Station's Rights to Sochi Games Leave Caribbean Viewers in the Dark

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 9:02pm

Six Caribbean teams are competing in this year's winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: Bermudathe Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Naturally, sports fans throughout the region want to watch – but there's a problem. SportsMax, a premium subscription-based television station, has been awarded exclusive rights to the 2014 Sochi games in the Caribbean. “Inside The Games” reported on the details:

The deal, announced between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and  International Media Content Ltd (IMC), the parent company of SportsMax, is applicable for 21 nations and territories ranging from Anguilla to Trinidad and Tobago.

It consists of exclusive English language broadcast rights on all media platforms, with live coverage to be provided on both SportsMax and SportsMax2 for the duration of the Games when they get underway in Sochi.

Columbus Communications, owners of the Flow cable network which operates in several Caribbean territories, took to its social media outlets to address the issue:

Flow Fans, please be advised that SportsMax holds the exclusive broadcast rights to the '2014 Winter Olympics’ in the Caribbean for the period February 7th to 23rd 2014. Olympic programming will be broadcast mainly on Sportsmax 1 with some content on Sportsmax 2. Consequently, we are legally required to blackout the coverage of the games on all channels including but not limited to NBC & CBC who will be carrying portions of the SOCHI games. During the blackout periods the affected channels will carry a notice to our customers advising of the blackout requirement and directing you to SportsMax. 

We understand the inconvenience that this issue poses and are aware and acknowledge that blocked content is disruptive for our viewers, however we MUST comply. Once the broadcast rights to air a program is (sic) purchased we are obligated to block out that program (when requested) as both a legal and regulatory (TATT) obligation. Failing to comply could lead to legal actions against Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited. This arrangement is not unique to Trinidad, all video service providers worldwide will be required to take similar action based on the Network which has purchased the rights in that country. 

Irate Jamaicans posted on Flow Jamaica's Facebook page about having to pay to watch their team parading in the opening ceremony and competing in the games. Diego Armando Thomas had this to say

So because i don't have the #SportsMax package on #Flow I am not allowed to watch the #Olympics? This is BULL. You block the channels am paying for? Really!!!

Another viewer, David Valentine, urged Jamaicans to take action by writing to the Jamaican Broadcast Commission:

This is a sheg up situation, taking advantage of the people who no have no options. The blasted Olympics should not be held ransom, by forcing people to pay for some purely subscriber based channel. Imagine if Showtime did have the exclusive rights to the Olympics? Something wrong with this blow wow picture man. Them really corrupted. PEOPLE WRITE TO THE BROADCAST COMMISION!!

Others expressed their disgust on Twitter:

Coulda been watching the #WinterOlympics only @GoWithFlowJa chose to give all the rights to SportsMax who isn't even showing it live #SMH

— Kimberly (@K_Wil_) February 7, 2014

One viewer who subscribed to the SportsMax service was dissatisfied with the coverage of the opening ceremony:

I'm tryin to watch the dam Winter Olympics opening ceremony and these assholes on #SportsMax a chat STFU!!!’ And come off my screen!!!

— Lexy Nash (@WhoDatLexy876) February 7, 2014

Competitor cable provider Lime has been offering viewers in some of the countries in which it operates, a free trial of SportsMax for the duration of the games:

Get FREE Sportsmax trial during the Winter Olympics on LIME TV pic.twitter.com/h0A1Z7bsWA — Anderson Armstrong (@bloodarmstrong) February 7, 2014

The issue of broadcast rights for local television stations versus those of the cable company was discussed in this post:

Television programmes generate advertising revenue for broadcasters such as TV6 and CNC3. While customers pay cable providers for premium channels, it should be noted that  the programmes which occupy the schedules on these channels are governed by separate contracts.

While SportsMax is indigenous to the region, it is a pay-per-view service, and some netizens have complained about the failure of free-to-air broadcasters to obtain rights to the games. Yvon Tripper commented on an article in the Bermuda Royal Gazette:

IOC simply gives rights to the highest bidder. Nothing is stopping a Bermuda-based broadcaster from asking the IOC for Bermuda-only rights, and then just using the American and Canadian feeds. If no one in Bermuda pays for broadcast rights for the island's Olympic coverage rights, then there's no point in complaining when someone else does. The IOC would be happy to exclude Bermuda from the Caribbean region if it mean that they got more money — it's all about the Redbirds, baby.

While Trinidad and Tobago is not competing in the games, none of the terrestrial broadcasters have purchased rights to the games, forcing interested viewers to subscribe to SportsMax for live coverage. Annoyed cable subscribers vented their feelings on Twitter:

.@SportsMax_Carib bought the rights. RT @DayVan_TeaMal: Why is the Sochi Olympics blocked on @Flowtt? — Hassan Voyeau (@tech_tt) February 6, 2014

@Flowtt well give us Sportsmax free during that time

— ?Mark De Silva? (@Markanthonysilv) February 7, 2014

The Sochi Games run until February 23, 2014.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Giga Paitchadze, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. Visit Giga Paitchadze's flickr photostream.
Categories: Business Feed

Caribbean Numbers Involved in Telephone Phishing Scam

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 12:06pm

If you see a missed call originating in the Caribbean from someone you don't know, it is likely that you have been targeted by perpetrators of the ‘one-ring phone scam’. While the numbers used in these phishing activities can originate anywhere in the world, Slate reports that Caribbean numbers have been noticed with alarming frequency over the past few weeks:

The Better Business Bureau lists calls from Antigua and Barbuda (268), the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), the British Virgin Islands (284), and Grenada (473) as potential scam threats. People who do call back could be charged something like $30 for the international call, depending on the carrier, and see fraudulent service fees showing up on their phone bills. This process of ‘cramming,’ when third-party scammers sneak bogus charges onto legitimate phone bills, is ever on the rise, according to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.

Affected persons around the world took to Twitter to report the issue:

Gona go out on a limb here and assume that the missed call I just got from Antigua/Barbuda is not a close friend of mine. If so, sorry.

— Craig Doran (@CDoran19) February 4, 2014

Got a missed call today from Jamaica. Definitely a first. A puzzling, puzzling first.

— Casey Morell (@csymrl) December 14, 2013

Occurrences of these calls have also been reported in Trinidad and Tobago on Facebook. Shelley-anne L Thompson weighed in on the discussion:

I get that like once a month and have never called. come on, people you know this scam! dont let your curiosity trap you.

Maisha Hyman had this to say:

I'm glad to see this! I've recently had hang up calls from Antigua and Grenada! Like wtf?!

Others were more concerned about the impact of the scam on the region. Michael Nahous of Trinidad and Tobago was not amused:

How can they charge you $30.00 without some contract arrangement with the telephone carrier….its only digicel, cable wireless and the local telephone companies in these islands…if they know its a scam why cant they just disconnect the number.

People affected by the scam are being urged to alert their service providers if they spot any unusual charges on their phone bills.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Milica Sekulic, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. Visit Milica Sekulic's flickr photostream.
Categories: Business Feed

Caribbean Numbers Involved in Telephone Phishing Scam

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 12:06pm

If you see a missed call originating in the Caribbean from someone you don't know, it is likely that you have been targeted by perpetrators of the ‘one-ring phone scam’. While the numbers used in these phishing activities can originate anywhere in the world, Slate reports that Caribbean numbers have been noticed with alarming frequency over the past few weeks:

The Better Business Bureau lists calls from Antigua and Barbuda (268), the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), the British Virgin Islands (284), and Grenada (473) as potential scam threats. People who do call back could be charged something like $30 for the international call, depending on the carrier, and see fraudulent service fees showing up on their phone bills. This process of ‘cramming,’ when third-party scammers sneak bogus charges onto legitimate phone bills, is ever on the rise, according to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.

Affected persons around the world took to Twitter to report the issue:

Gona go out on a limb here and assume that the missed call I just got from Antigua/Barbuda is not a close friend of mine. If so, sorry.

— Craig Doran (@CDoran19) February 4, 2014

Got a missed call today from Jamaica. Definitely a first. A puzzling, puzzling first.

— Casey Morell (@csymrl) December 14, 2013

Occurrences of these calls have also been reported in Trinidad and Tobago on Facebook. Shelley-anne L Thompson weighed in on the discussion:

I get that like once a month and have never called. come on, people you know this scam! dont let your curiosity trap you.

Maisha Hyman had this to say:

I'm glad to see this! I've recently had hang up calls from Antigua and Grenada! Like wtf?!

Others were more concerned about the impact of the scam on the region. Michael Nahous of Trinidad and Tobago was not amused:

How can they charge you $30.00 without some contract arrangement with the telephone carrier….its only digicel, cable wireless and the local telephone companies in these islands…if they know its a scam why cant they just disconnect the number.

People affected by the scam are being urged to alert their service providers if they spot any unusual charges on their phone bills.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Milica Sekulic, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. Visit Milica Sekulic's flickr photostream.
Categories: Business Feed

Puerto Rico’s Debt Downgraded to “Junk” Status

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 8:27am

A U.S. quarter, or peseta, as it’s called in Puerto Rico. The expression “everything has gone to hell now” [in Spanish the expressions plays with the word "peseta" that means "quarter"] is commonly used to mean that the cost of living has suddenly gone up or that life has suddenly got more complicated. Image from the public domain, taken from
Wikimedia Commons.

What everybody feared finally happened: Puerto Rico’s debt was downgraded to junk or speculative level on February 4, 2014, by the rating agency Standard & Poor’s. The consequences of degradation had already been mentioned in a previous article [es] by Sergio Marxuach, the Director of Public Policy of the Puerto Rican based think tank Center for a New Economy:

… [U]na degradación del crédito de Puerto Rico a nivel “chatarra” tendría repercusiones adversas para todos los que vivimos en Puerto Rico ya que desataría una crisis financiera. Eso significa, entre otras cosas, que: el gobierno tendría poco o ningún acceso a los mercados financieros; veríamos una depreciación del valor de los bonos y obligaciones de Puerto Rico de entre 30% y 50%; la liquidez y la solvencia de las instituciones financieras y compañías de seguro en Puerto Rico podrían verse afectadas adversamente; veríamos un aumento en las tasas de interés y una contracción significativa del crédito; y aumentarían tanto las quiebras como el desempleo. Nadie en Puerto Rico estaría inmune de los efectos de esa tempestad.

Degrading Puerto Rico’s credit to ‘junk’ level would have adverse repercussions for everybody who lives in Puerto Rico because it would set off a financial crisis. That means, among other things, that the government would have little or no access to financial markets; we would see a depreciation between 30 to 50% of the value of Puerto Rican bonds and obligations; the liquidity and solvency of financial institutions and insurance companies in Puerto Rico could be adversely affected; we’d see an increase in interest rates and a significant credit crunch; and an increase in bankruptcies and unemployment. No one in Puerto Rico would be immune from the effects of this storm.

The degradation of the Puerto Rican debt comes after a series of unpleasant measures implemented by both the New Progressive Party and the Popular Democratic Party, which is currently in power. Among the measures implemented were the laying off thousands of public employees, the imposition of new taxes, and reform of the retirement systems. The Government Development Bank (BGF in Spanish) of Puerto Rico and the Department of Treasury issued a joint press release to calm the concerns of the public, but especially of investors:

Si bien estamos decepcionados con la decisión de Standard & Poor’s, seguimos comprometidos con la implantación de nuestros planes fiscales y de desarrollo económico. Creemos que la comunidad inversora reconocerá oportunamente el impacto positivo de las reformas que la Administración [del Gobernador Alejandro] García Padilla ha implantado.

Entendemos que S&P reconoce los esfuerzos significativos de Puerto Rico hasta la fecha para enfrentar problemas estructurales de mucho tiempo, según queda demostrado por nuestra significativa reforma de retiro, el incrementar la independencia de una serie de corporaciones públicas y los recientes aumentos en los recaudos.

[...]

Estamos confiados en que tenemos a mano liquidez para satisfacer todas las necesidades de liquidez hasta fines del año fiscal, incluyendo cualquier necesidad de efectivo que surja como resultado de la decisión de hoy.

While we are disappointed with Standard & Poor’s decision, we remain committed to the implementation of our fiscal and economic development plans. We believe the investment community will recognize the positive impact of the reforms that the Garcia Padilla Administration has enacted in due course.

We appreciate that S&P recognizes the Commonwealth’s significant efforts to date to tackle long- term structural issues, demonstrated by our significant pension reform, increasing the independence of a number of public corporations, and recent revenue increases.
[…]

We are confident that we have the liquidity on hand to satisfy all liquidity needs until the end of the fiscal year, including any cash needs resulting from today’s decision.

However, Cate Long, market analyst of municipal bonds for the Reuters news agency, who has closely followed Puerto Rico’s situation during the past few years indicated:

Note to financial media covering Puerto Rico & other debt issuers. No one is ever gonna say publicly that they don't have adequate liquidity. — Cate Long (@cate_long) February 5, 2014

For several months, there has been a climate of pessimism in Puerto Rico with regard to the economy, if Twitter comments serve as a barometer for the national mood:

Todos tenemos ahora mismo mejor crédito que nuestro gobierno…

— Ana Maria CV (@anamaria_cv) February 4, 2014

Right now we all have better credit than our government…

Y llegó el #chatarrazo, ahora sí que esto se puso muuuuuyyy malo… — José Armando Santos (@jsantosfigueroa) February 4, 2014

The ‘junk’ is here, and now the situations is verrrrrrry bad…

Ahora sí se pusieron los “eggs” a peseta…#créditopr #pumcayólapiedra

— Karleen Cortes (@KarleenCortes) February 4, 2014

Things have definitely gone to hell now.

Of course, there were also humorous comments amidst the preoccupation:

Anunciamos que, por el momento, no degradáremos sus tuits. Pero mantenemos una perspectiva negativa. #Chatarrazo #CréditoPR — Licen Mangota BB (@ElLicenDice) February 4, 2014

We announce that for now, we will not downgrade your tweets. But the outlook remains negative.

Janizabeth Sánchez produced a Storify [es]  with more Twitter reactions.

Categories: Business Feed

Puerto Rico’s Debt Downgraded to “Junk” Status

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 8:27am

A U.S. quarter, or peseta, as it’s called in Puerto Rico. The expression “everything has gone to hell now” [in Spanish the expressions plays with the word "peseta" that means "quarter"] is commonly used to mean that the cost of living has suddenly gone up or that life has suddenly got more complicated. Image from the public domain, taken from
Wikimedia Commons.

What everybody feared finally happened: Puerto Rico’s debt was downgraded to junk or speculative level on February 4, 2014, by the rating agency Standard & Poor’s. The consequences of degradation had already been mentioned in a previous article [es] by Sergio Marxuach, the Director of Public Policy of the Puerto Rican based think tank Center for a New Economy:

… [U]na degradación del crédito de Puerto Rico a nivel “chatarra” tendría repercusiones adversas para todos los que vivimos en Puerto Rico ya que desataría una crisis financiera. Eso significa, entre otras cosas, que: el gobierno tendría poco o ningún acceso a los mercados financieros; veríamos una depreciación del valor de los bonos y obligaciones de Puerto Rico de entre 30% y 50%; la liquidez y la solvencia de las instituciones financieras y compañías de seguro en Puerto Rico podrían verse afectadas adversamente; veríamos un aumento en las tasas de interés y una contracción significativa del crédito; y aumentarían tanto las quiebras como el desempleo. Nadie en Puerto Rico estaría inmune de los efectos de esa tempestad.

Degrading Puerto Rico’s credit to ‘junk’ level would have adverse repercussions for everybody who lives in Puerto Rico because it would set off a financial crisis. That means, among other things, that the government would have little or no access to financial markets; we would see a depreciation between 30 to 50% of the value of Puerto Rican bonds and obligations; the liquidity and solvency of financial institutions and insurance companies in Puerto Rico could be adversely affected; we’d see an increase in interest rates and a significant credit crunch; and an increase in bankruptcies and unemployment. No one in Puerto Rico would be immune from the effects of this storm.

The degradation of the Puerto Rican debt comes after a series of unpleasant measures implemented by both the New Progressive Party and the Popular Democratic Party, which is currently in power. Among the measures implemented were the laying off thousands of public employees, the imposition of new taxes, and reform of the retirement systems. The Government Development Bank (BGF in Spanish) of Puerto Rico and the Department of Treasury issued a joint press release to calm the concerns of the public, but especially of investors:

Si bien estamos decepcionados con la decisión de Standard & Poor’s, seguimos comprometidos con la implantación de nuestros planes fiscales y de desarrollo económico. Creemos que la comunidad inversora reconocerá oportunamente el impacto positivo de las reformas que la Administración [del Gobernador Alejandro] García Padilla ha implantado.

Entendemos que S&P reconoce los esfuerzos significativos de Puerto Rico hasta la fecha para enfrentar problemas estructurales de mucho tiempo, según queda demostrado por nuestra significativa reforma de retiro, el incrementar la independencia de una serie de corporaciones públicas y los recientes aumentos en los recaudos.

[...]

Estamos confiados en que tenemos a mano liquidez para satisfacer todas las necesidades de liquidez hasta fines del año fiscal, incluyendo cualquier necesidad de efectivo que surja como resultado de la decisión de hoy.

While we are disappointed with Standard & Poor’s decision, we remain committed to the implementation of our fiscal and economic development plans. We believe the investment community will recognize the positive impact of the reforms that the Garcia Padilla Administration has enacted in due course.

We appreciate that S&P recognizes the Commonwealth’s significant efforts to date to tackle long- term structural issues, demonstrated by our significant pension reform, increasing the independence of a number of public corporations, and recent revenue increases.
[…]

We are confident that we have the liquidity on hand to satisfy all liquidity needs until the end of the fiscal year, including any cash needs resulting from today’s decision.

However, Cate Long, market analyst of municipal bonds for the Reuters news agency, who has closely followed Puerto Rico’s situation during the past few years indicated:

Note to financial media covering Puerto Rico & other debt issuers. No one is ever gonna say publicly that they don't have adequate liquidity. — Cate Long (@cate_long) February 5, 2014

For several months, there has been a climate of pessimism in Puerto Rico with regard to the economy, if Twitter comments serve as a barometer for the national mood:

Todos tenemos ahora mismo mejor crédito que nuestro gobierno…

— Ana Maria CV (@anamaria_cv) February 4, 2014

Right now we all have better credit than our government…

Y llegó el #chatarrazo, ahora sí que esto se puso muuuuuyyy malo… — José Armando Santos (@jsantosfigueroa) February 4, 2014

The ‘junk’ is here, and now the situations is verrrrrrry bad…

Ahora sí se pusieron los “eggs” a peseta…#créditopr #pumcayólapiedra

— Karleen Cortes (@KarleenCortes) February 4, 2014

Things have definitely gone to hell now.

Of course, there were also humorous comments amidst the preoccupation:

Anunciamos que, por el momento, no degradáremos sus tuits. Pero mantenemos una perspectiva negativa. #Chatarrazo #CréditoPR — Licen Mangota BB (@ElLicenDice) February 4, 2014

We announce that for now, we will not downgrade your tweets. But the outlook remains negative.

Janizabeth Sánchez produced a Storify [es]  with more Twitter reactions.

Categories: Business Feed

Work on the Panama Canal Grinds to a Halt

Global Voices - Business Feed - Thu, 02/06/2014 - 11:41am

Photo by André S. Ribeiro on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

[Links are to Spanish-language pages except where noted.]

The GUPC (Grupo Unidos por el Canal), a Spanish-led construction group, has completely stopped work on the Panama Canal expansion project [en]. After more than 15 days of negotiations [en] the consortium decided to make good on its threat to shut down construction when its demands were not met. 

Jorge Quijano, the canal administrator, indicated that while conversations between the parties could continue, the window of opportunity was closing and that prompt action should be taken. 

It did not take long for patriotic outrage to make itself heard. 

To better understand the stakes involved, it helps to know that for Panamanians, the Canal is sacred. It was born hand in hand with the nation. More precisely, Panama seceded from Gran Colombia and became an independent country in 1903 with the primary objective of opening up the Canal. As a result, Panamanians feel this crucial stretch of water to be part of their DNA, and since it was opened, they have defended it tooth and nail. Some have gone so far as to call it “the religion that unites all Panamanians.”

This notion was reflected in social media, where politicians of all stripes showed their support for the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), which remains firm in its determination to not negotiate outside the terms of the contract.

The journalist Manolo Álvarez collected the various statements made by Jorge Quijano, who guaranteed that Panama would not let itself be blackmailed by the GUPC and that the ACP was prepared to face them in court. 

Canal no se someterá a ningún chantaje de Gupc y los enfrentaremos en cualquier terreno @radiopanama @canaldepanama pic.twitter.com/86r7Almr06

— Manolo Álvarez C (@manoloalvarezc) February 5, 2014

The Canal will not be subjected to any extortion by the GUPC and we will face them no matter the circumstances

Isabel St. Malo, who is running for the vice-presidency under the banner of the Partido Panameñista [en], tweeted her support for the ACP, pledging that the expansion of the Canal would be done with or without the GUPC.

Respaldamos mensaje del administrador Quijano, terminaremos ampliación con o sin GUPC. ACP, orgullo nacional!

— Isabel St. Malo (@IsabelStMalo) February 5, 2014

We endorse the message of Administrator Quijano, we will finish this project with or without GUPC. ACP, national pride!

Martin Torrijos, former President of Panamá and son of General Omar Torrijos—the man who signed the Torrijos-Carter treaties that returned the Canal to Panama—also indicated he stood behind the Administrator and commented that if they were able to make the Canal Panamanian, then surely Panamanians would be able to expand it. 

La ampliación es nuestra,ellos se van nosotros nos quedamos,como dijo Quijano.Cumpliremos con Panamá.Si lo recuperamos,sin duda lo ampliamos

— Martin Torrijos (@MartinTorrijos) February 5, 2014

The expansion project is ours; they will go, we will remain, as Quijano said. We will fulfill our duty to Panama. If we got it back, there's no question we can expand it. 

Popi Varela, a Partido Panameñista deputy, points out that the mistake made by Sacyr, the Spanish firm leading the GUPC, was to believe that the ACP was just like any corrupt government they could blackmail. 

Sacyr piensa que está negociando con un gobierno corrupto no se han dado cuenta que la ACP es autónoma del Gob Central por constitución!

— Popi Varela (@varelapopi) February 5, 2014

Sacyr thinks they are negotiating with a corrupt government and haven't realized that the ACP is independent of the central government according to the constitution!

With its typical sarcasm, El Gallinazo requests that Panamanians not let “gringos” finish the work and that they themselves pick up the tools and complete the expansion project.

Panamá te necesita! No dejemos q los gringos terminen la ampliación. Agarren sus mazos y coas y vamos a terminar esa vaina nosotros mismos!

— El Gallinazo (@ElGallinazo) February 5, 2014

Panama needs you! Don't let the gringos finish the expansion. Grab your hammers and shovels and we'll finish this job ourselves!

Quintín Moreno opines that the GUPC should not be given any more chances and that another company should be found. 

La ACP debe contratar una nueva empresa para finalizar la ampliación, el GUPC demostró ser desleal y oportunista.

— Quintín Moreno (@quintinmoreno) February 5, 2014

The ACP should hire a new firm to finish the expansion; the GUPC has shown itself to be opportunistic and disloyal.

The impact is being felt in Spain, where the share price of Sacyr plummeted when news hit the financial markets. This is how Mi Diario describes it:

Caen acciones de Sacyr en la bolsa española || http://t.co/86Rk3s0iWN || pic.twitter.com/AHJycga4QW

— Mi Diario Panamá (@MiDiarioPanama) February 5, 2014

Shares of Sacyr fell on the Spanish stock market

R.A. Benta says that this is the beginning of the end of the Spanish “brand” and that the real question is, “Who is going to pay for it all?” 

Hoy Sacyr con el canal de Panana, mañana Arabia Saudí con el Ave,quien pagará estas megafiestas? #MarcaEspana #SíSí pic.twitter.com/wZqDrYbmgy

— R.A.Benta#SISI||*|| (@R_A_Benta) February 5, 2014

Today Sacyr with the Panama Canal, tomorrow Saudi Arabia with the Ave [high-speed train], who's picking up the tab for these megaparties?

Quijano's statements, assuring there is still wiggle room in the negotiations, indicate the ACP believes that the GUPC can complete the work. However, when it comes to Panamanians, patience for the manoeuvres of the consortium seems to have run out. 

Categories: Business Feed

Work on the Panama Canal Grinds to a Halt

Global Voices - Business Feed - Thu, 02/06/2014 - 11:41am

Photo by André S. Ribeiro on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

[Links are to Spanish-language pages except where noted.]

The GUPC (Grupo Unidos por el Canal), a Spanish-led construction group, has completely stopped work on the Panama Canal expansion project [en]. After more than 15 days of negotiations [en] the consortium decided to make good on its threat to shut down construction when its demands were not met. 

Jorge Quijano, the canal administrator, indicated that while conversations between the parties could continue, the window of opportunity was closing and that prompt action should be taken. 

It did not take long for patriotic outrage to make itself heard. 

To better understand the stakes involved, it helps to know that for Panamanians, the Canal is sacred. It was born hand in hand with the nation. More precisely, Panama seceded from Gran Colombia and became an independent country in 1903 with the primary objective of opening up the Canal. As a result, Panamanians feel this crucial stretch of water to be part of their DNA, and since it was opened, they have defended it tooth and nail. Some have gone so far as to call it “the religion that unites all Panamanians.”

This notion was reflected in social media, where politicians of all stripes showed their support for the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), which remains firm in its determination to not negotiate outside the terms of the contract.

The journalist Manolo Álvarez collected the various statements made by Jorge Quijano, who guaranteed that Panama would not let itself be blackmailed by the GUPC and that the ACP was prepared to face them in court. 

Canal no se someterá a ningún chantaje de Gupc y los enfrentaremos en cualquier terreno @radiopanama @canaldepanama pic.twitter.com/86r7Almr06

— Manolo Álvarez C (@manoloalvarezc) February 5, 2014

The Canal will not be subjected to any extortion by the GUPC and we will face them no matter the circumstances

Isabel St. Malo, who is running for the vice-presidency under the banner of the Partido Panameñista [en], tweeted her support for the ACP, pledging that the expansion of the Canal would be done with or without the GUPC.

Respaldamos mensaje del administrador Quijano, terminaremos ampliación con o sin GUPC. ACP, orgullo nacional!

— Isabel St. Malo (@IsabelStMalo) February 5, 2014

We endorse the message of Administrator Quijano, we will finish this project with or without GUPC. ACP, national pride!

Martin Torrijos, former President of Panamá and son of General Omar Torrijos—the man who signed the Torrijos-Carter treaties that returned the Canal to Panama—also indicated he stood behind the Administrator and commented that if they were able to make the Canal Panamanian, then surely Panamanians would be able to expand it. 

La ampliación es nuestra,ellos se van nosotros nos quedamos,como dijo Quijano.Cumpliremos con Panamá.Si lo recuperamos,sin duda lo ampliamos

— Martin Torrijos (@MartinTorrijos) February 5, 2014

The expansion project is ours; they will go, we will remain, as Quijano said. We will fulfill our duty to Panama. If we got it back, there's no question we can expand it. 

Popi Varela, a Partido Panameñista deputy, points out that the mistake made by Sacyr, the Spanish firm leading the GUPC, was to believe that the ACP was just like any corrupt government they could blackmail. 

Sacyr piensa que está negociando con un gobierno corrupto no se han dado cuenta que la ACP es autónoma del Gob Central por constitución!

— Popi Varela (@varelapopi) February 5, 2014

Sacyr thinks they are negotiating with a corrupt government and haven't realized that the ACP is independent of the central government according to the constitution!

With its typical sarcasm, El Gallinazo requests that Panamanians not let “gringos” finish the work and that they themselves pick up the tools and complete the expansion project.

Panamá te necesita! No dejemos q los gringos terminen la ampliación. Agarren sus mazos y coas y vamos a terminar esa vaina nosotros mismos!

— El Gallinazo (@ElGallinazo) February 5, 2014

Panama needs you! Don't let the gringos finish the expansion. Grab your hammers and shovels and we'll finish this job ourselves!

Quintín Moreno opines that the GUPC should not be given any more chances and that another company should be found. 

La ACP debe contratar una nueva empresa para finalizar la ampliación, el GUPC demostró ser desleal y oportunista.

— Quintín Moreno (@quintinmoreno) February 5, 2014

The ACP should hire a new firm to finish the expansion; the GUPC has shown itself to be opportunistic and disloyal.

The impact is being felt in Spain, where the share price of Sacyr plummeted when news hit the financial markets. This is how Mi Diario describes it:

Caen acciones de Sacyr en la bolsa española || http://t.co/86Rk3s0iWN || pic.twitter.com/AHJycga4QW

— Mi Diario Panamá (@MiDiarioPanama) February 5, 2014

Shares of Sacyr fell on the Spanish stock market

R.A. Benta says that this is the beginning of the end of the Spanish “brand” and that the real question is, “Who is going to pay for it all?” 

Hoy Sacyr con el canal de Panana, mañana Arabia Saudí con el Ave,quien pagará estas megafiestas? #MarcaEspana #SíSí pic.twitter.com/wZqDrYbmgy

— R.A.Benta#SISI||*|| (@R_A_Benta) February 5, 2014

Today Sacyr with the Panama Canal, tomorrow Saudi Arabia with the Ave [high-speed train], who's picking up the tab for these megaparties?

Quijano's statements, assuring there is still wiggle room in the negotiations, indicate the ACP believes that the GUPC can complete the work. However, when it comes to Panamanians, patience for the manoeuvres of the consortium seems to have run out. 

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