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18/10/2018

Toma nota.../Take note...

Europeans worried on their dealings with China

Facing a trade war with the United States that they know it is impossible to win, the Chinese government try to find alternative markets and investment opportunities in Europe, but as Chinese investment pours into the European Union, the Europeans are beginning to worry too. Europeans do not feel safe with the huge trade deficits in their dealings with China."

China has designs on Europe. Here is how Europe should respond.

Oct. 4.– Europe has caught China’s eye. Chinese investments there have soared, to The huge European trade deficit with Chinanearly €36bn ($40bn) in 2016—almost double the previous years’ total. Chinese FDI fell in 2017, but the share spent in Europe rose from a fifth to a quarter. For the most part, this money is welcome. Europe’s trading relationship with China has made both sides richer.

However, China is also using its financial muscle to buy political influence (see Briefing). The Czech president, Milos Zeman, wants his country to be China’s “unsinkable aircraft-carrier” in Europe. Last year Greece stopped the European Union from criticising China’s human-rights record at a UN forum. Hungary and Greece prevented the EU from backing a court ruling against China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea. Faced with such behaviour, it is only prudent for Europeans to be nervous.

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CUBA – The End Game

Summary of the28th Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE)

The 28th Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE), held in Miami, FL, was slightly different from prior meetings. As in recent meetings, an increasing amount of Cuban-based economists and students attended; indeed the two student essay prizes were won by students living in Cuba. The papers presented, and there were many good ones, seemed to sum up the disastrous state of the Cuban economy, its very poor prospects, and then fatalistically concluded there would be little or no light at the end of the tunnel. There was little preaching or suggested reforms; virtually no participant expected further significant political or economic reforms or an economic recovery. Short of finding a new Sugar Daddy like the USSR or Venezuela, one would have to conclude Cuba runs a high risk of becoming a failed state.

The present situation. Cuba claims its real GDP grew by about 2 percent last year, but there are strong reasons (see below) to doubt this, and little to expect growth this year. The fiscal deficit seems unsustainable, real salaries remain well below those of the late 1980's--i.e., One of ASCE's meetings during the 28th Annual Conferencebefore Soviet aid ended--and investment remains at just over one tenth of GDP. The steady net disinvestment in many areas--transport, energy, and water/sewerage infrastructure, let alone housing (the deficit is now estimated at over 880,000 units)--continues. Some indices for this year show a distinct decline. Tourist arrivals are down the first half of 2018, and the sugar harvest (which runs from about December to April) produced virtually a record low of only 1.1 million tons of sugar. One of Cuba's best economists noted a continued rigidity of the bureaucracy, reversal of some reforms, and a drop in the expectations of younger Cubans.

Some of the recent reforms--freer international travel and house/car sales--seem to have worked; some such as "cuenta propista" (informal, but semi-legal family enterprises) workers and agricultural liberalization have been reversed; and some have either failed--such as the sugar rationalization--or after much talk (currency unification)have never been undertaken. The emigration of so many skilled and experienced workers has had some effect on the quality of teachers, the capacity of government, and the general productivity of the economy. A variety of recent estimates of Cuba's GDP seem to show recent per capita incomes may be either similar to those of 1959, when Fidel first took office, or at most had 1 percent annual growth over the period. Cuba, once ranked in per capita income equal to Spain, Italy, or Argentina, now is about equal to some of the poorest Central American countries. Surveys show those Cubans born after 1990 now have little hope of an economic recovery; many want to leave Cuba.

Some details. Pre-Castro, Cuba was the world's largest exporter of sugar. Indeed, during the 1950s Cuban governments' main concern was to keep the sugar harvest down, usually below 7 million tons, since after filling its US quota, too large an excess export amount could depress the world market price. 

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Trinidad and Tobago rejects the widespread tendency towards relativism

 

Some countries still maintain high moral standards and do not excuse themselves for taking measures aimed at safeguarding the safety of their citizens and preserving a healthy society.

T & T warns against importing sex toys, drugs and other undersirable products  

Puerto España, Aug. 24.– A courier company in Trinidad and Tobago has warned customers that it is still illegal to import sex toys into the country.

In correspondence to clients, E-courier Web Source is urging customers to think twice before purchasing sex toys online saying that the intimate devices fell under the Customs and Excise Division’s list of prohibited items.

Customs will seize

“Please note that Customs will be inspecting all packages to ensure compliance with the law. As such, they can and will seize the items listed below and any other prohibited items.”

The company said other banned items includes camouflage patterns, illegal drugs, cigarettes, honey, plants, seeds, soil and toy guns, including those with brightly colored muzzles ...

[ Full text

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CUBA: Cinco Pasos a la Transición Democrática

Hemos recibido una reveladora encuesta realizada en Cuba, en la que se ha consultado a 1715 personas en toda la Isla, como el primero de los "Cinco Pasos a la Transición Cubana", una estrategia que promueve Ágora de Cuba, una organización de cubanos amantes de la democracia que aspira a una transición pacífica hacia un sistema de participación efectiva de los cubanos en la forja de sus destinos. Los resultados de la encuesta son parciales porque el proyecto todavía está en marcha y aspira a recabar las opiniones de un número mucho mayor de participantes. ‘Cinco Pasos’ arrancó en el seno de la organización Acción Cívica Cubana con la colaboración de cincuenta activistas. Bajo una metodología de “tanteo y error”, se aplica en las quince provincias del país. El objetivo del proyecto consiste en consultar la voluntad del soberano (el pueblo) y movilizarlo si su voluntad es pedir un cambio de régimen. Precisamente en el momento actual en que el gobierno cubano está impulsando una reforma constitucional, sería la oportunidad idónea para promover la participación activa del pueblo, con una amplia divulgación y debate nacional que brinde la debida legitimidad a esa reforma. Sin la participación activa del pueblo con una amplia transparencia de métodos, esta reforma no lo será. Vista panorámica de Stgo. de Cuba

Estudio de Opinión

El 4 de marzo de 2015, varios cubanos de la isla decidimos organizar un grupo de trabajo para tratar de conocer la opinión del pueblo sobre algunos temas de interés nacional e internacional. Es importante subrayar que no recibimos indicaciones ni apoyo material, financiero, ni de ninguna otra índole, de entidad ni grupo de interés alguno, funcionando de manera autónoma y voluntaria.

Los resultados del presente Estudio de opinión figuran a continuación. La participación ha sido totalmente voluntaria, con la debida identificación del participante, que marcó con una X en la casilla de su elección a las preguntas formuladas, y O si no desea opinar sobre algún tema en particular.

Las pregunta y las respuestas respectivas son las siguientes:

 SÍ       NO     Abstención
1-¿El salario (pensión o jubilación) que Usted devenga le alcanza para satisfacer sus necesidades básicas?
3         870         844
2-¿Debe continuar el reclutamiento obligatorio al Servicio Militar Activo?
78     1615           24
3-¿Deben continuar vigentes los artículos del Código Penal que aplican la Peligrosidad Predelictiva?
36     1667           14
4-¿Está a favor del restablecimiento de relaciones entre Cuba y EU?
1083   566           68

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USA: Lower taxes for individuals & families and a new tax declaration form

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) just announced a new US Tax Form, simplified and much smaller in size, intended to replace not only the current form 1040 but also forms 1040A and 1040EZ. These changes relate to the new and simplified tax rates already in effect in the United States since January 1, 2018. The two-page draft form is smaller than the current two-page form, but that's because many line items have been consolidated and/or shifted to other forms and schedules. Tax payers will note that the new schedules use numbers for identification purposes instead of letters (A, B, etc). That's because the schedules which use letters, like Schedule C, are still in play.  

IRS Announces They Are Working on a New 1040 Tax Form

Washington DC, Aug.6 DP.net).– Today the IRS announced they are working on changes to the 1040 tax forms. The IRS said that “this new approach will simplify the 1040 so that all 150 million taxpayers can use the same form. The new form consolidates the three versions of the 1040 into one simple form.” In addition to shortening Form 1040 to a postcard-sized return, the changes eliminate Forms 1040EZ and 1040A and increase the number of tax schedules supporting Form 1040 by six additional forms.

The 1040 forms (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ) are the most common tax forms. The announcement today is the first major change to 1040 tax forms in decades.

Tax time is one time of the year many US residents and citizens get a full snapshot of their financial picture. Taxpayers’ active participation in tax preparation is the backbone of the American tax system, giving them a better understanding of their true financial picture.

Who will be able to file with the new Form 1040?
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