Midwest Correspondent
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May 15, 2014

Book Talk: Oregon writer finds beauty, redemption on death row

By Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) – Non-fiction writer Rene Denfeld draws on her work as a death penalty investigator in her first novel, “The Enchanted”, the story of a prisoner who invents a horrible, liberating beauty deep underground.

Although he doesn’t even have a window in his cell, the first-person narrator imagines life on the outside, especially that of a character known as “the lady” who works to redeem death-row prisoners, much as Denfeld does in real life.

Apr 10, 2014

Ship ready to destroy Syria’s chemical arms at sea

ON BOARD THE CAPE RAY, Spain (Reuters) – Experts on board a cargo ship transformed into a multi-million dollar chemical weapons destroyer said on Thursday they were ready to start working on Syria’s stock of toxic arms in the middle of the Mediterranean as early as May.

Now they just have to hope the weather holds and Damascus delivers on time.

Former container vessel Cape Ray, docked in southern Spain, has been fitted out with at least $10 million of gear to let it take on about 560 metric tonnes of Syria’s most dangerous chemical agents and sail them out to sea, said officials.

Apr 9, 2014

Political heat rises over bid for Spanish olive oil giant

MADRID, April 9 (Reuters) – Some of the owners of the
world’s top olive oil bottler Deoleo are rethinking
plans to sell, sources said, after the Spanish government
revealed its interest in buying into what it sees as a
nationally strategic company.

The move puts at risk British-based CVC Capital Partners’
bid for the indebted Spanish firm, which sells one
fifth of the world’s bottled olive oil and owns three of the top
four brands, Spain’s Carbonell and Italy’s Bertolli and

Apr 8, 2014

CVC frontrunner for Spain’s olive oil firm Deoleo – sources

LONDON/MADRID, April 8 (Reuters) – British private equity
fund CVC Capital Partners is the frontrunner in a race to buy
Spanish olive oil bottler Deoleo, two banking sources
said on Tuesday, a deal that has taken on political dimensions
in Spain.

Other bidders include U.S. private equity firm Carlyle
and Rhone Capital, France’s PAI Partners, and the
Italian’ government’s strategic fund, according to media reports
and sources familiar with the process.

Apr 3, 2014

Foreign funds vie for Spanish olive oil firm Deoleo – source

MADRID, April 3 (Reuters) – A number of foreign funds are
vying to take over Spain’s Deoleo, the world’s top
olive oil bottler with brands like Carbonell, a source close to
the deal said on Thursday, in a deal that has become highly

Spain is the world’s biggest olive oil producer. Its olive
oil exports are surging and the industry is seen as a growth
area especially for the south of the country, which is plagued
by high unemployment.

Apr 3, 2014

Crimean annexation does Europe’s separatists no favors

MADRID/PARIS (Reuters) – Russia’s annexation of Crimea after a snap referendum staged under military occupation has whetted some appetites in the Balkans, but has done no favors to the Scots, Catalans, Flemish and others seeking independence in Europe.

The leader of ethnic Serbs in Bosnia was quick to claim a precedent, asserting his autonomous Serb Republic’s right to secede or at least turn the former Yugoslav republic into an even looser confederation.

Mar 3, 2014

Spanish ex-banker Blesa questioned by judge in mis-selling case

MADRID, March 3 (Reuters) – The ex-head of one of Spain’s
biggest troubled banks was questioned by a judge behind closed
doors on Monday over the sale of billions of euros in risky
investments to small savers, who then lost most of their money
as the financial crisis unfolded.

High Court Examining Magistrate Fernando Andreu is
investigating whether Miguel Blesa, ex-chairman of Caja Madrid,
and other executives, duped savers into buying hybrid securities
known as preference shares, sold as part of efforts to boost the
bank’s capital and cover up solvency problems.

Feb 6, 2014

Spanish anti-graft crusader makes mark in royals case

MADRID (Reuters) – When Spain’s Princess Cristina appears before a judge on Saturday for questioning on corruption charges, it will be the biggest victory yet for anti-graft crusader Miguel Bernad, a lawyer who has pursued bankers, politicians and now the royal family.

Operating out of a one-room office in Madrid, Bernad’s Clean Hands group – a loose association of lawyers – has waged a very personal war against corruption, forcing judges to investigate politically sensitive cases that may have otherwise languished.

Feb 4, 2014

Morocco says investors lining up for $9 bln solar project

MADRID, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Morocco has recruited foreign
investors to fund a $9 billion solar power project, even though
some European lenders have balked due to the location of some
planned plants in the disputed Western Sahara, its foreign
minister said.

Lending sources at German state-owned banks and at
multi-lateral lenders such as the World Bank, the European
Investment Bank and the European Union have told Reuters they
would not finance projects based in Western Sahara.

Jan 30, 2014

Exclusive: In diplomatic shift, Europe seeks improved ties with Cuba

BRUSSELS/MADRID (Reuters) – The European Union will agree next month to deepen relations with Cuba in its most significant overture to the communist nation since diplomatic sanctions were lifted in 2008, people close to the matter told Reuters.

Foreign ministers from the EU’s 28 countries will give the go-ahead on February 10 to launch talks with Havana on a special cooperation accord to increase trade, investment and dialogue on human rights. The pact could be agreed upon by the end of 2015.

    • About Fiona

      "Fiona Ortiz is a general news correspondent for Reuters Americas based in Chicago and covering the Midwest. Previously, she was Reuters' chief correspondent in Madrid, where she covered political and economic news and ran a bureau of some 25 correspondents who wrote about everything from the debt crisis to sports. Fiona has been with Reuters since 1996 and has had assignments in Guatemala, Mexico, Chile and Argentina."
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