Argentina has fallen seven notches in an international index of press freedoms, ranking 57th globally, according to the latest report from Reporters Without Borders.
The organization said the decline stems from “growing tension between the government and certain privately-owned media about a new law regulating the broadcast media.”
That tension, of course, relates mainly to the ongoing war between President Cristina Kirchner and the multimedia conglomerate Grupo Clarin, which would be dismantled if Kirchner is able to fully implement the three-year-old media law.
Clarin has challenged the constitutionality of the law and its implementation is now held up in courts. The outcome will likely be decided this year by Argentina’s Supreme Court.
Kirchner accuses Clarin of being a monopoly that uses its influence to undermine her government and its policies. Clarin, in turn, says Kirchner is simply trying to crush independent media voices and silence criticism of her government.
Whatever the case, the government clearly has a very antagonistic relationship with the media. Top government official rarely, if ever, offer press conferences and almost never grant open, on the record interviews.
The president herself is famous for avoiding the press, making her one of the least accessible democratic leaders in Latin America and in the Western Hemisphere.
The topic de jour in the United States these days is gun control. With the recent massacre of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, people are debating the issue as they haven’t done in decades.
The U.S. is a gun-loving nation is there ever was one. With an estimated 270 million civilian guns in the country, the U.S. has the world’s highest gun ownership rate. There are about nine guns for every 10 people in the U.S.
Even so, the U.S. does not have the highest gun death rate in the world. It is roughly the same as Argentina’s, with about 3 gun deaths for every 100,000 people.
The above chart, published here in The Atlantic, offers an interesting look at how gun death rates in different countries, including Argentina, compare with those of various U.S. cities.
Why compare cities with countries? For one thing, some of these countries have populations similar to those of U.S. cities. For another, it’s just interesting.
So, check out The Atlantic post for a better look at the issue. For a related post, click here to see how the murder rate in Buenos Aires compares with that of other major world cities.
*Hat tip to E for this post
Axel Kicillof, Argentina’s deputy economy minister, is said to wield considerable sway over President Cristina Kirchner, influencing her thoughts on everything from gasoline prices to trade and housing policy.
But the 41-year-old Keynesian economist is deeply unpopular in Argentina’s oil industry, which he oversees.
Kicillof requires oil and gas companies to submit excruciatingly detailed Microsoft Excel spreadsheets divulging information about sales, costs, investment plans and pricing strategies. Oil executives refer to him privately as “Excel” instead of Axel.
Given the industry assumption that he’s a Marxist – something his colleagues deny – executives also mock his initials and call him as “AK47” – “because this kid is a lethal weapon; he destroys everything that gets near him,” says one executive. (more…)
President Cristina Kirchner toured the famous Cu Chi tunnels while on a state visit to Vietnam over the weekend. The tunnels, used by Viet Cong forces during the Vietnam War, proved to be a nightmare for U.S. soldiers throughout the conflict.
You can read more about the tunnels here. As noted in a Widipedia entry:
“The 75-mile (121 km)-long complex of tunnels at Củ Chi has been preserved by the government of Vietnam, and turned into a war memorial park. The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system. Some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of Western tourists, while low-power lights have been installed in several of them to make traveling through them easier and booby traps have been clearly marked. Underground conference rooms where campaigns such as the Tết Offensive were planned in 1968 have been restored, and visitors may enjoy a simple meal of food that Viet Cong fighters would have eaten.”
President Cristina Kirchner was given a toy doll made in her image. It was a gift from the Argentine toy industry chamber, given to her while on a trip to Indonesia.
The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires put out this video ahead of this Sunday’s “Súperclásico” soccer match between Boca Juniors and River Plate.
What do you think of the video?