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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 06:11 PM
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The battle for Martin Luther King Day: Should King still share a holiday with General Lee?

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has called for the state to no longer honor Martin Luther King, Jr. on the same day as General Robert E. Lee. The practice continues in Mississippi and Alabama. Holidays to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gen. Robert E. Lee should be "distinguished and separate," Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told state lawmakers last week.

The commander of the Confederate Army and the Nobel-Prize-winning civil rights leader were born in two dramatically different centuries, but just four calendar days apart: Jan. 19, 1807, and Jan. 15, 1929, respectively. That coincidence has caused decades-long controversies for states that want to honor them.

Today, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas still commemorate both men with a shared holiday on the third Monday of January, the day most other states — and the federal government — celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. That leaves state politicians and the public to debate whether the combination is a case of bureaucratic efficiency, or an affront to King's anti-racism legacy. Several other states, including Georgia and Florida, already honor Lee separately.

After the white supremacy-inspired mass shooting of nine black worshipers at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last June, "a systematic dismantling of Confederate symbols [flags, statues, and buildings] has swept across the South," as The Christian Science Monitor's Lisa Suhay noted. In South Carolina, many cheered when the state house's Confederate flag was finally furled for good, and Virginians are now asking if Lee-Jackson Day, which honors two Confederate leaders, should be retired.

But many say that rewrites history. "It's cultural cleansing. It's fascism is what that is," Sons of Confederate Veterans spokesperson Ben Jones said of motions to end the holiday, celebrated the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Some say consolidating the holidays is simply more efficient.

Others point to the historical timeline: in Arkansas, for instance, Robert E. Lee day was instituted in the 1940s. It wasn't until 1983 that then-President Ronald Reagan somewhat reluctantly signed MLK Day into federal law, and it took nearly 20 years after that for every state in the country to follow suit: New Hampshire, the last in the nation, created an MLK holiday in 1999.

The editorial board of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, however, believes it's time for a change, and that precedent is no excuse. In 1947, the first year the state formally celebrated Lee's birth, "the movement for civil rights was already at work in Arkansas," the editors wrote.

New Hampshire approved Civil Rights Day in 1993; but it took another six years for lawmakers to sign on to a holiday remembering King by name. Similar resistance emerged in Utah. Some attribute it to racism; others, to King's anti-Vietnam War views and controversial aspects of his philosophy. Others say that the progress he fought for is what really deserves honor, more than King's life itself.

At: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2016/0118/The-battle-for-MLK-Day-Should-King-still-share-a-holiday-with-General-Lee

State Rep calls Martin Luther King-Robert E. Lee shared holiday 'offensive'.

Mississippians will celebrate a civil rights leader and a Confederate general on Monday. Mississippi is one of three states — along with Arkansas and Alabama — that celebrate Robert E. Lee Day and Martin Luther King Day on the same holiday.

According to the Mississippi secretary of state's office, the Legislature passed House Bill 165 on March 30, 1910, to observe Robert E. Lee's birthday — January 19 — as a state holiday. President Ronald Reagan made Martin Luther King Day a federal holiday in 1983. The Mississippi State Legislature voted on February 12, 1987, to ratify the federal holiday, combining the two days, according to the state law library.

State Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, said the measure was touted as a cost-saving maneuver; but also said he feels the move was made to slight King. "Every major issue in the state of Mississippi has the undercurrent of race to it. I wish it wasn’t the case," Horhn said. "The decision was made as a cost-saving measure, but many people then and now felt that it was a means to not give Dr. King his due and the singularity of recognition."

Democratic Second District Rep. Bennie Thompson said the combined holiday is "offensive."

"Once and for all, people should know that the Confederacy lost," Thompson said. "And Mississippi's celebrating Robert E. Lee on the same day as Martin Luther King Jr., is just an attempt to diminish Dr. King's legacy. To celebrate a man who fought to keep people in bondage is offensive, and Robert E. Lee should not be celebrated alongside a great fighter for freedom and equality"

Recently, Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called for the two holidays to be separated by legislative action. "I would like to see his special day, his Martin Luther King Day, be a separate day to himself and to the recognition of his role in the civil rights movement in our country," Hutchinson said. "It's important that that day be distinguished and separate and focused on that civil rights struggle and what he personally did in that effort, the great leader he was during that cause. They need to be distinguished and separate."

Horhn agreed with Hutchinson's move, saying, "I would hope that Mississippi would follow suit one day to give Dr. King the attention and acknowledgement that his work deserves. It’s not to say that Robert E. Lee didn’t have major accomplishments, but the work of Dr. King changed this country and it changed it for the better."

Clay Chandler, spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant, said separating the two holidays could be an expense to the state. "Gov. Bryant would not necessarily be opposed to separating the holidays but would be concerned about adding another day off the state government, as one of the reasons for combining them was to save tax dollars," Chandler said.

Horhn said he was not optimistic that Mississippi would soon separate the holidays. "The Mississippi Legislature has long experienced great difficulty in doing something legislatively that they might perceive to be done just for the African-American community," he said. "The decision to combine the holidays is a good example of that. The proposal being missed, however, is that Dr. King, didn’t work solely for the benefit of the African-American community. He was able to have an impact for everyone seeking equal opportunity under the law."

At: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2016/01/17/mlk-and-robert-e-lee-share-holiday/78864878/

Austerity projected to raise Argentine unemployment from current 5.9% to 10% by year's end.

According to private estimates published Friday, unemployment in Argentina could reach double digits before the end of 2016. The projected increase would be as a result of the recession in Brazil, the slowdown in China, a fall in consumption as a result of devaluation-driven inflation, lower export commodity prices, and the current wave of layoffs in both the state and the private sector.

"The floor for unemployment this year is 10%," estimated the chief economist at the Institute of Thought and Policy (Ipypp) Claudio Lozano. Speaking to local news daily Perfil, Lozano warned that the figure could be as high as 12%. Argentina has not seen double-digit unemployment since 2006.

Public sector layoffs since the right-wing administration of President Mauricio Macri took office a month ago have thus far been the main contributors to the sudden spike in unemployment. The National Union of Civil Servants (UPCN) estimates that between the national government, provinces, and municipalities, layoffs have already affected around 18,000 workers and that the number could climb to 65,000.

Layoffs are likewise impacting the private sector. The consulting firm Economic Trends counted 5,439 corporate layoffs in December, five times more than a year ago. The Social Law Monitor for the CTA, the nation's second largest labor federation, estimates that, including the first half of January, layoffs have reached 10,000. These include poultry processor Red Crest (5,000), Austral Construction (1,800), numerous smaller builders (2,000), Tecpetrol (500), Paraná Metal (180), San Lorenzo Ceramics (100), Expofrut (109), and subway operator Metrovías (26), among others. A further 2,700 employees have been placed on rolling furloughs at Techint, the nation's largest steel maker.

In this context, the report of the CTA explains that "the success of the ongoing austerity program requires as a prerequisite a substantial drop in workers' wages. Indeed, the brutal transfer of resources that have been implemented by the Macri government (currency devaluation, removal of export taxes) together with sharp fiscal austerity measures such as the elimination of public services subsidies, inevitably lead to a cut in the share of national income received by workers."

According to the report, President Mauricio Macri's policies aimed to "scare public sector workers, while sending a signal to employers and workers in the private sector not only through high impact measures such as state sector layoffs; but also through rhetoric."

"Employers," the report concluded, "have begun this year's round of collective bargaining negotiations with increased layoffs as a terror tool, and thus meant to weaken the bargaining position of workers."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201601/11099-crece-el-temor-por-el-desempleo-calculan-que-llegara-a-dos-digitos.html&prev=search

Little wonder then that even Bloomberg News - no friend of the labor movement - projects that Argentine GDP will decline by 3% this year and a further 3% in 2017. It had doubled between 2002 and 2015, and was still growing by 2.8% when Macri took office.

Post reporter Jason Rezaian and others to be freed in prisoner swap, according to Iranian media

Source: Washington Post

Four U.S. citizens imprisoned in Iran, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, are to be freed in a prisoner swap, according to Iranian news agencies.

All four are duel U.S.-Iranian citizens, according to the semiofficial Mehr and Fars news agencies. Rezaian has been held since July 2014. There was no official confirmation from the United States.

News of the exchange came as world leaders converged here Saturday in anticipation of the end of international sanctions against Iran in exchange for significantly curtailing its nuclear program.

The nuclear agreement will take effect when the International Atomic Energy Agency certifies that Iran has met its commitments under the deal it signed last July with six global powers, including the United States.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry flew from London to Vienna in the early afternoon local time. He went immediately into a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Coburg Palace Hotel, the scene of months-long final negotiations last summer that led to the deal between Iran and the world powers.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/world-leaders-gather-in-anticipation-of-ending-iran-sanctions/2016/01/16/6c48f746-bc4b-11e5-829c-26ffb874a18d_story.html

Argentina announces new currency design featuring only fauna and flora.

The Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA) issued a statement today announcing that it will put into circulation banknotes of 200 and 500 pesos in mid-2016, and of 1,000 pesos in 2017.

These new peso notes feature a novel design for Argentine currency: historical and/or political figures will be replaced with images of fauna and flora from the six major geographic regions of Argentina. Each of the bills will feature a species of fauna typical of each region on the obverse side, trimmed with each region's typical flora, with a characteristic landscape scene from each region on the reverse.

The new banknote design will include notes of 20, 50, and 100 pesos, which also start circulating in 2017. The Central Bank also announced that new coin designs will be released for the existing 1 and 2-peso coins, and that the 5 and 10-peso notes currently in circulation will be replaced with coins in 2017.

Argentine currency was last redesigned in 2012 by Swiss graphic artist Roger Pfund. The largest banknote currently in circulation in Argentina, the 100-peso note featuring former First Lady Evita Perón, is worth only US$7.25 following a 30% devaluation a month ago.

"With the election of wildlife and the Argentine regions, the Central Bank also seeks to create a design in which all Argentines can feel represented in the national currency," the statement said.

The motifs adopted for each note are:

* $ 1000: Oven bird (representing the Pampas; the oven bird in the national bird of Argentina).
* $ 500: Jaguar (Northeast).
* $ 200: Southern right whale (South Atlantic and Antarctica).
* $ 100: North Andean deer (Northwest).
* $ 50: Condor (Andes).
* $ 20: Guanaco (Patagonia).

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicargentina.com%2Fnotas%2F201601%2F11087-el-gobierno-anuncio-nuevos-billetes-de-200-y-de-500-con-figuras-de-animales.html

Macri's devaluation aside, this, besides being a global trend (started, I believe, by South Africa), is a welcome change. Any suggestions for the 10 dollar bill?

Macri eliminates National Reproductive Health Program in Argentina.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri signed new decree eliminating the National Sexual Health and Responsible Parenthood Program, which implemented policies protecting women's reproductive rights and extended reproductive health coverage and education to the poor.

The new decree, 114/2016, was published on January 12 in the Official Gazette and withdraws the program's mandate. Established by congressional passage in 2002, the bill was achieved after years of struggle on the part of organizations defending the rights of women and sexual minorities.

Speaking to Página/12 today, Secretary of Gender for the CTA labor federation (the nation's second largest) and member of the Advisory Board of the Program, Estela Díaz, said that this new decree "endangers the continuity of the supply of essentials such as contraception, as well the training programs for the formation of health teams in poor communities."

Among the objectives of the program was to achieve universal sexual and reproductive health, reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality, prevent unwanted pregnancies, promote sexual health of adolescents, guarantee access to information and services related to sexual health, and educate young people as to responsible procreation, among other issues.

According to sources, the Macri administration denied that the program would disappear. Nevertheless, the rescission of the program, as published in the Official Gazette, was unequivocal and was issued without any complementary decrees to mitigate its impact.

The Buenos Aires news daily Pagina/12 had reported that in the days before the appearance of the decree, program staff had been ordered by the new authorities at the Ministry of Health, headed by Minister Jorge Lemus, to suspend all activities.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/276040/polemica-por-la-suspension-de-un-programa&prev=search

Another decree by Tin-pot Macri - and this one was at the top of the Opus Dei's wish list. The Macri official who many believe is responsible for this new policy, Dr. Abel Albino, thought of the reproductive health program as "assisted fornication." http://www.democraticunderground.com/110845136

Authorities to close the Buenos Aires City Zoo.

Speaking to the local business weekly Apertura, representatives from the municipal government announced that the Buenos Aires City Zoo, located in the same Palermo neighborhood location since its opening in 1875, will begin the process of shutting down as early as February.

Covering nearly 17 hectares (42 acres), the zoo is home to some 2,500 animals of 350 different species. Around 800,000 people visit annually, including thousands of children on field trips organized by metro area schools. Nevertheless its very design as an urban "Victorian zoo" has always limited its scope, and today the Buenos Aires Zoo has been eclipsed in size and popularity by others in Argentina far more spacious such as the Luján Zoo and Temaikén.

While government representatives stressed their goal of closing down the zoo as soon as possible, they also cited their concern for the thousands of animals currently living within the facility as well as the logistical difficulties of relocating them. All animals must not only be found new accommodation; but must undergo a transition period acclimating to their new surroundings.

The city government, led by right-wing Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, may yet face opposition to the move, however.

City Legislator Adrián Camps of the Authentic Socialist Party (PSA) said that the plans were “confused” and lacked precision. “The worst thing you can do is close a zoo immediately; a process should be developed with short, medium, and long-term goals. We therefore propose transforming it into an ecological garden,” Camps said, adding that the government must present its proposals for an open debate by city legislators before pushing ahead with any changes.

“If they want to start this process seriously, the best forum to debate and reach a consensus is the (city) legislature, where we are all open to dialogue,” he added.

The government announcement followed a spate of recent criticisms of the zoo advanced by animal rights groups, who criticized the living conditions and treatment of the animals in the zoo. One of the best known animals in the Buenos Aires Zoo, a 29-year-old Sumatran Orangutan named Sandra, made global headlines last year when she was granted limited inalienable rights and recognized as a “non-human person” during a court case brought forward by lawyers working for the animal rights group Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA).

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/206545/authorities-to-close-buenos-aires-city-zoo
The Buenos Aires Zoo:

And a few of its residents:

U.S. targets laundering in all-cash home sales

Source: Buenos Aires Herald

The United States is hunting down international criminals who launder money through real estate deals, with the Treasury Department ordering title insurance companies to report the identities of people paying cash for high-end properties in Miami and Manhattan. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, an arm of the US Treasury, said yesterday it is concerned that individuals buy residential real estate in cash through shell companies to hide their assets and veil their identities.

Title insurers will have to disclose buyer identities in deals of at least US$1 million in Miami and at least US$3 million for Manhattan, the Miami Herald reported. Research conducted by the Homeland Security officials suggests that the majority of real estate purchases of at least US$1 million in Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward counties are made through shell companies, said John Tobon, deputy special agent in charge at Homeland Security Investigations in Miami.

The temporary orders begin on March 1 and last 180 days, and a surge in deals to be completed March is expected. Buyers may turn to other major metropolitan markets such as Los Angeles, as well, he added. In November 2015, the most recent month for which data is available, 17% of the 82,595 all-cash purchases of single family homes and condos went to buyers with an “LLC” in the name, indicating they were purchased by companies; altogether, a third of home purchases in the United States since 2011 were all-cash.

Meanwhile, there were about $104 billion in transactions involving foreign investors in the US real estate market between April 2014 and March 2015. More than half the buyers in those deals were from China, Canada, India, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, and the majority of transactions involving overseas buyers were in cash, said Deborah Friedman, who works in the FBI’s money laundering intelligence unit, in September. Those purchases were concentrated in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, she said.

The Patriot Act of 2001 required the Treasury Dept. to either issue rules on anti-money laundering controls and reporting of suspicious activity by real estate professionals or grant an exemption. The exemption has been in place now for more than a decade.

Read more: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/206694/us-targets-laundering-in-allcash-home-sales-

Lawmakers press for impeachment of Maine's abrasive Governor Paul LePage

Source: AP/MSN

For five years now, Republican Maine Governor Paul LePage has hurled crude insults, heaped abuse on the media and offended many with his brass-knuckle tactics and off-the-cuff remarks — most recently last week, when he complained that out-of-state drug dealers with names like "D-Money, Smoothie and Shifty" are getting Maine's white girls pregnant.

On Thursday, lawmakers take up a longshot bid to impeach him, and while the chief allegation against LePage is abuse of power, not lack of civility, it is clear there is a lot of ill will toward the governor in both parties over what many regard as his bull-in-a-china-shop manner. Impeachment would be unprecedented in Maine.

LePage, 67, is proud of his disdain for the usual courtesies of politics, and voters rewarded him by electing him last year to a second and final four-year term. He said he doesn't pay attention to critics. He doesn't even read newspapers. In many ways, he has come off as Maine's version of Trump, minus the privileged upbringing and the vast wealth. LePage was homeless for a time as a boy in Lewiston before going to college and becoming a businessman.

Democrats have become accustomed to butting heads with the governor over welfare, tax policy and a host of other issues. But they say LePage crossed the line by intervening to kill a job offer for a political enemy, House Speaker Mark Eves. Now they want him to pay. On Thursday, a group of nine lawmakers will try to set the impeachment process into motion by pressing for a vote to launch a private investigation into eight of the governor's actions.

Some Democrats believe that the effort is futile and that failure might just embolden the governor. They would prefer to censure him. Even if the House were to impeach him, the effort would probably fail in the GOP-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict.

Critics also want to look into other matters, including allegations that he forced out the president of the Maine Community College System, got involved in the internal workings of the unemployment compensation board and refused to allow administration officials to testify in front of committees.

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/lawmakers-press-for-impeachment-of-maines-abrasive-governor/ar-CCvLAJ?li=BBnb7Kz

Norma Aleandro, star of Oscar-winning film The Official Story, asks that actors not be persecuted.

Next week Pablo Echarri and Nancy Dupláa, two of the best known actors in Argentina, will debut in their new television drama series La Leona ("The Lioness", which will air on Telefe. A social network campaign, however, was promptly launched by supporters of the right-wing administration of Mauricio Macri against the series, attacking the actors for their affinity for former Presidents Néstor and Cristina Kirchner.

Actress Norma Aleandro, whose six decades in Argentine television, theater, and cinema included her renowned role as the adoptive mother of a toddler sold to her husband by the dictatorship in the 1985 Academy Award-winning film The Official Story, repudiated these acts and ideological persecution in an interview on Argentine Public Radio today.

Aleandro appeared in the popular current events talk show Por si las moscas ("Just in Case" to discuss her role in the Channel 13 series Los ricos no piden permiso ("The Rich Do Not Ask Permission", and the discussion shifted to its chief competitor in the prime-time drama slot, "The Lioness."

Asked about the boycott currently being organized against "The Lioness" by Macri supporters, she said that "judging actors for what they think politically is as if we were in a sinister dictatorship, and we should stop this." Aleandro, 79, was herself exiled from Argentina from 1975 to 1982 for her progressive views.

"Supporting Kirchner does not make one better or worse. This is madness," Aleandro lamented. "I think it's a childish thing. It's bullying; exactly that: bullying."

Aleandro in particular defended her colleagues, Pablo Echarri and Nancy Dupláa, from the attacks. "They've been successful actors all their lives, they've made others money, and have produced many of their own programs for many years. They have done very good work for a long time."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201601/11038-norma-aleandro-repudio-la-campana-en-contra-de-la-leona-y-pidio-no-perseguir-a-los-actores-por-sus-ideas-politicas.html&prev=search
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