News Column

EFE News Briefs for Friday, Aug. 1

August 1, 2014

Obama: U.S. "tortured some folks" after 9/11 attacks

Washington (EFE).- President Barack Obama acknowledged that U.S. officials "did some things that were wrong" in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The president addressed the issue ahead of the imminent release of a declassified report from the Senate Intelligence Committee that is said to document the CIA's use of waterboarding and other torture techniques during interrogations of terror suspects.

"When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques - techniques that I believe, and I think any fair-minded person would believe, were torture - we crossed the line," Obama said.

"And that needs to be understood. And accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that hopefully we don't do it again in the future," he said.


Brazil secures $700 mn in loans during Japanese PM's visit

Brasilia (EFE).- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met here with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as part of a visit in which loan deals amounting to $700 million were signed for Brazil's agri-business and oil sectors.

The leaders presided over the signing of two credit agreements: Mizuho Bank's$500 million loan to Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras and a $200 million loan from a group of Japanese companies to finance agricultural projects.

The loan to Petrobras will finance the construction of eight oil platforms to be used in the ultra-deep-water pre-salt region, a massive new hydrocarbons frontier that Brazil is counting on to transform it into a crude exporter in the mid-term.

Also during Abe's visit, bilateral accords were signed to strengthen cooperation in the shipbuilding industry, which Brazil has begun to revive in recent years.


Mexican state bars media from crime scenes

Culiacan, Mexico (EFE).- Legislators in the western Mexican state of Sinaloa passed a measure that bars reporters from crime scenes and sharply limits the press' ability to cover issues of public safety and criminal justice.

The proposal, submitted by state Gov. Mario Lopez, was unanimously approved Thursday night, though one lawmaker admitted later that she voted for the bill without having read it.

Under the new law, crime reporters will have to rely exclusively on official bulletins from authorities.

Sinaloa is one of Mexico's five most dangerous states, with 41 homicides for every 100,000 residents in 2013.


Chilean gov't unveils $4 bn funding plan for Codelco through 2018

Santiago (EFE).- Chile's government said it will capitalize state-owned miner Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, with $4 billion during the 2014-2018 period.

Of the total, $3 billion will come from Treasury-issued debt and the remaining $1 billion from reinvestment of the company's profit, Finance Minister Alberto Arenas said at a press conference.

The amount includes $200 million of Codelco's 2013 net income that the government returned to the miner at the beginning of July, Arenas said.

The state-owned copper giant, which produces nearly 1.6 million tons of the red metal a year, had requested $1.2 billion in financing for 2014, a period in which it is planning to invest a total of $4 billion.


Economists cut forecast for Mexico's 2014 growth

Mexico City (EFE).- Economists last month lowered their forecast for Mexico's 2014 growth to 2.56 percent, down from 2.65 percent in June, a central bank survey showed.

In the Bank of Mexico's July survey, those Mexican private-sector economists also downwardly revised their forecast for the country's growth in 2015 from 3.87 percent to 3.85 percent, although they raised their 2016 forecast from 4.1 percent to 4.15 percent.

The survey results come just days after the International Monetary Fund slashed its forecast for Mexico's 2014 growth to 2.4 percent, down from 3 percent in April.

The economists' revised prediction coincides with warnings by the Bank of Mexico about the country's weak performance in the first half of this year.


Panama, canal contractors finalize accord

Panama City (EFE).- The Panama Canal Authority and the GUPC consortium hired to build a third set of locks for the inter-oceanic waterway sealed an accord that envisions completion of the project by December 2015.

Representatives of the parties signed the pact a day after their self-imposed deadline, sources with the authority, known by the Spanish initials ACP, told Efe.

"The way has been completely cleared to complete the project," a GUPC source said. The additional set of locks is the centerpiece of a $5.25 billion expansion project.

GUPC, which won the locks contract in 2009 with a $3.1 billion bid, is led by Spanish construction giant Sacyr Vallehermoso and Italy's Impregilo, each with a 48 percent stake, and also includes Belgium's Jan de Nul and Panama'sCUSA.



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Source: EFE Ingles

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