- - Monday, November 26, 2012

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina is refusing to budge in its billion-dollar debt showdown in New York federal court, preparing an appeal Monday that it hopes will stave off another devastating default.

U.S. federal Judge Thomas Griesa left Argentina without any wiggle room, ordering its government to pay $1.3 billion to the so-called “vulture funds” by Dec. 15, even as it pursues its final appeals.

If Argentina pays the plaintiffs, then lawyers representing other holders of defaulted debt, totaling more than $11 billion, are expected to demand immediate payment as well.

If it refuses, the judge said the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. must stop payment on the quotas Argentina has religiously honored to a much bigger group of bondholders who agreed to provide the country with debt relief in 2005 and 2010.

That group together holds more than $20 billion in restructured debt.

The ruling was issued just before the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and the consequences for Argentina are severe.

The value of Argentina’s restructured bonds slipped in Monday trading, and the cost of insuring this debt against default jumped 51 percent on Friday alone, according to data from Factset.


Former soldiers in hiding renew vow to remobilize

MARIANI — The leaders of a small group of former soldiers who embarrassed Haiti’s government earlier this year by seizing old military bases to press for the restoration of the disbanded army emerged from six months of hiding Saturday to renew their demand.

Contacted on their cellphones after several months of keeping them off, four former sergeants arranged to meet with The Associated Press on a hillside clearing in Mariani, a beach resort town southwest of the Caribbean nation’s capital. They said the group’s members have been training at the site.

The meeting came a day after Haiti’s Ministry of Defense issued a statement warning the group not to cause disruptions. The ex-soldiers said they plan to press their campaign without violence.

“They know we can tear down the country — easily,” said one of the former sergeants, David Dorme, 44. “But if we destroyed this country where are we going to go?”

The National Armed Forces of Haiti was abolished in 1995 because of its history of toppling governments and crushing dissent.


Police recover items stolen from Salvation Army

TORONTO — Police said they recovered a massive cache of toys and donated goods worth about $2 million stolen from a Salvation Army warehouse and being sold for profit.

Police said Saturday that they had to use three tractor-trailers to haul the items, which were found a day earlier when officers searched a commercial warehouse in Brampton northwest of Toronto.

Police said they discovered 146 wooden platforms stacked with items including toys, baby cribs, strollers and food.

Up to 100,000 items were stolen from a Salvation Army warehouse in north-end Toronto over nearly two years.

The Toronto facility’s executive director, David Rennie, has been fired. No criminal charges have been filed.

The Salvation Army says that it reaches 1.8 million Canadians in need every holiday season.


Avenue in capital named for archbishop slain in 1980

SAN SALVADOR — El Salvador’s Roman Catholic archbishop, who was assassinated in 1980 for speaking out against brutal government repression, got a special honor Sunday with the dedication of an avenue in his name.

Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Street, a new boulevard that connects the capital, San Salvador, with neighboring city Santa Tecla.

“Today we once again pay public tribute to the man who died so that thousands and millions could live,” President Mauricio Funes said in a dedication ceremony.

Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez thanked the president for “his admiration and respect for the pastor who gave his life for all Salvadorans, even those who plotted and executed the most ignominious crime in our history.”

Romero, considered a voice for the voiceless in his denunciations of social injustice and military repression, was assassinated by a sniper hired by the far-right government on March 24, 1980.

His murder — while celebrating Sunday Mass — ignited El Salvador’s devastating civil war that pitted a U.S.-backed right-wing government and military against a leftist insurgency that produced the leaders now in elected office. Some 75,000 people were killed before the war ended in 1992.


Government raids business working for the opposition

CARACAS — Government intelligence agents raided a business printing opposition political pamphlets ahead of next month’s state elections in Venezuela.

Zulia state Gov. Pablo Perez said the raid by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service in the western city of Maracaibo was an attempt to intimidate opponents of President Hugo Chavez’s government.

He told reporters Saturday that such actions are “abuses of power.”

The intelligence agency’s regional chief, Carlos Calderon, told the Panorama newspaper that agents on Friday found pamphlets that aimed to “sabotage the candidacy” of Francisco Arias Cardenas, a Chavez ally running against Mr. Perez in the Dec. 16 elections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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