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Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel supports Daniel Scioli in Argentine elections.

The 1980 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the human rights organization Peace and Justice Service (SERPAJ), Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, expressed his support for Front for Victory (FpV) nominee Daniel Scioli for the November 22 runoff against his right-wing rival, Cambiemos ("Let's Change" nominee Mauricio Macri.

"Today we face a crossroads that in a few days will define the direction the country will take. No one can be indifferent, be like a bear and go to hibernate," said Nobel laureate in dialogue with Radio América.

"My position is always the same: we need to analyze the beneficial things for the people and support them. It's a defining moment. You know, I criticize things about the current government; but one must see the perspectives at the national level," he said.

In his personal blog, Pérez Esquivel warned that "beyond the many similarities, these elections confront two different management models. One of them, with a State that seeks to be ever more present in the economy and to make social policies a priority; and the other wanting to leave everything to the market and the fate of millions of Argentines to the mandate of external consultants."

"A government that does not control the assets and resources of the people, and instead delivers them to the greed of foreign companies, is a country that loses its sovereignty - the leaders become mere managers of transnational corporations," added Pérez Esquivel. He recalled that 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the rejection of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Mar del Plata. "this election also defines continental and international alliances," he highlighted.

He also suggested that Unasur should be strengthened to protect against coup attempts in the continent and to lay foundations for the further defense of democracies. "Only one candidate is speaking about Latin American regional integration. Only one suggests strengthening Mercosur, Unasur and Celac, as well as future projects like the Southern Bank," he writes in his blog referring to the FpV candidate, Daniel Scioli.

"I am a pessimist with hope, and I believe I am not alone. I, like many other Argentines, am willing to study the choices and vote the best I can. So I will vote for Daniel Scioli with the commitments he has made," Pérez Esquivel concluded.

At: http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4324751&Itemid=1

Allies of dictatorship-era repressers in Argentina hail ‘winds of change’ if Macri is elected.

A group created to battle against trials for dictatorship-era crimes against humanity says end of Kirchnerist era raises hopes.

"Justice and Concord" — a group created six years ago to wage battle against the trials of dictatorship-era torturers and their leaders — yesterday closed its annual meeting by honoring María Elena Vázquez de Astiz, an elderly woman who in 2013 was indicted with the appropriation of a child during the 1976-83 dictatorship. Her daughter, Lucrecia Astiz, stood up. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she told the group of lawyers: “I want to thank you for all your efforts. We couldn’t do it without you.”

Mrs. Astiz is, however, probably best known on account of her son: Alfredo Astiz, the young Navy officer with blonde hair and blue eyes who in the late 1970s operated as an undercover agent and abducted numerous members of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. They and other human rights organizations have long referred to him as "the angel of death."

For some, their tears were also of hope, as the former executive secretary of Justice and Concord, Mariano Gradín, said as he explained his decision to step down from his post; “there is a wind of change,” he said. Some of the participants laughed, because it was a clear nod to the "Let’s Change" coalition that nominated right-wing Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri; Macri is currently campaigning in a runoff with the ruling Victory Front (FpV) candidate Daniel Scioli.

“As there are winds of change, I will have to pave the way for the next generations,” Gradín added in a cheerful tone.

He was not the only one to smell that change is in the air. Take Ricardo Saint Jean — son of the late General Ibérico Saint Jean, the governor of Buenos Aires Province during the dictatorship who was himself indicted in 2007 for crimes against humanity (he died before sentencing). “For the first time in 12 years, we now have a ray of hope,” Saint Jean said in reference to the end of the Kirchnerist era. Saint Jean quoted the late dictator Jorge Rafael Videla: “We faced our worst moment with the Kirchners.”

“Much of our victory depends on our persistence. I urge you to raise the ante, not to leave our struggle until the rule of law is restored for everyone,” Saint Jean added, sitting next to the Alberto Solanet, who was confirmed yesterday as the head of Justice and Concord. Videla’s former lawyer, Alberto Rodríguez Varela, was also in agreement.

Their resentment against Kirchnerism and their progressive allies dates from the late former President Néstor Kirchner's first year in office in 2003, when he succeeded in having lawmakers declare null and void the Due Obedience and Full Stop Laws that prevented those who committed crimes during the 1976-83 military regime from being taken to court. Two years later, the Supreme Court ratified that decision, reopening the trials for crimes against humanity. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti has repeatedly stated that trials for dictatorship-era crimes are part of the Argentines’ social contract.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/202716/allies-of-repressors-hail-%E2%80%98winds-of-change%E2%80%99

The presence of General Ibérico Saint Jean's son in what was basically a Macri rally was especially appropriate, given that his father coined the dictatorship's unofficial credo:

"First we will kill all the subversives; then we will kill their collaborators; then their sympathizers; then those who remain indifferent; and finally we will kill the timid."

Increasingly, the world sees Republicans as the greatest threat to America.

It has always been a curiosity that most Americans understand less about America’s government, its society, and its flaws than most citizens of foreign nations. It is not that foreigners have better access to news coming out of America, they just pay attention to what is happening to a country they at one time thought of as exceptional despite some of its history. It's no secret that the world’s opinion of America worsened drastically after the nation started invading and occupying Muslim countries; but the world’s opinion began shifting with the election of Barack Obama.

President Obama has elevated America’s status and reputation around the world as he attempted to clean up eight years of Bush Administration abominations. But after the past two midterm elections, and the extremist field of candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, people around the world are increasingly convinced that the greatest threat to America is the Republican Party itself. It is important to note that although many around the world specifically cite GOP politicians by name, they also understand that those Republicans threatening America are as much the religious and racist base, as are the politicians. This little fact eludes many Americans who focus on a personality and not who puts them in the spotlight and position of power and influence (the voters).

An opinion piece in a New Zealand newspaper a few months ago gave particular attention to the extremism being displayed by the GOP presidential candidates and actually cited the support they have from voters. The authors wrote that Republicans “are now essentially a party of religious fundamentalism.”

A citizen of Uganda and regular commuter to the United States recently noted that,

“The U.S. Constitution says the government’s responsibility is to provide welfare, security and safety to its population allowing every person the opportunity to live in a dignified manner; Republicans believe otherwise and have created a system that has become a rich man’s plaything.”

A resident of an EU nation remarked that,

“I am completely flabbergasted by what has become of America. In the Republican Party stupidity is admired and encouraged, intelligence and education are viewed as ‘elitist’, money is their God and fear is their motivator. If more people outside the U.S. continue to speak very loudly about this situation, it might help them turn things around. The hate and fear that Fox promotes helped the Republican Party create and fuel the atmosphere threatening America.”

An Australian opinion writer added that

“Donald Trump personifies everything the rest of the world despises about America; racism, crass materialism, relentless self-aggrandizement, vulgarity on an epic scale. He is the Ugly American.”

Actually, the Republican base is the Ugly American and GOP presidential candidates and politicians are simply saying exactly what the base demands. They are, without question, the greatest threat to America.

At: http://www.politicususa.com/2015/11/09/increasingly-world-sees-republicans-greatest-threat-america.html

Meet Macri's pick for Health Minister should he win the runoff in Argentina.

Dr. Abel Albino, in a meeting with right-wing presidential candidate Mauricio Macri, signed a commitment to join the Macri administration should he win, and to make fighting malnutrition a state policy (Argentina, according to the WHO, already has one of the lowest rates of malnutrition in Latin America http://archivo.losandes.com.ar/notas/2011/4/19/argentina-escala-baja-desnutricion-563162.asp).

Dr. Albino, however, also holds very critical views of sex education and birth control.

The doctor's best-known book, To Govern Is To Populate, shows opposition to any contraceptive practice because, in Albino's words, "natural methods" such as the highly unreliable rhythm method long advocated by conservative Catholics "are the only ones without side effects." Additionally, Dr. Albino opposes the current government policy of free delivery of morning-after pills and condoms as "assisted fornication plans" and considers that "malnutrition is a cultural disease that occurs in places where sex takes place compulsively."

Albino advocates replacing Argentina's comprehensive assistance programs with an "Integral Program Against Malnutrition" - led by Albino and operating as an autonomous quasi-public body funded by the Ministry of National Social Development. The program would be implemented nationwide with volunteers.

The idea was originally promoted by Dr. Albino through his CONIN Foundation, a non-profit institution he founded in 1993 with the stated goal of fighting malnutrition (childhood malnutrition rates in Argentina were high during the 1990s). In its official website, however, the CONIN Foundation explains the issue of poverty in terms of "genetic potential" and "the mental weakness of the malnourished."


Paging Dr. Hitler! Sounds like the good doctor - like conservatives everywhere, it seems - wishes he could have some "assisted fornication plans" of his own.

3rd-place candidate Sergio Massa declines to endorse either man in Argentine presidential runoff

Sergio Massa was seen as the kingmaker in Argentina’s approaching presidential election, with the power to influence more than a fifth of the electorate after taking third place in last month’s first round. But he announced his refusal to throw his weight behind either candidate now facing a run-off vote later this month — casting uncertainty over the outcome of a close race that will end 12 years of populist rule by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner.

Despite the congressman’s pivotal position, he is stepping back from the unpredictable contest between Mauricio Macri, the right-wing mayor of Buenos Aires, and Daniel Scioli, the government-backed governor of the Province of Buenos Aires. “There are 5 million kingmakers, not one,” said Massa in an interview with the Financial Times, referring to the voters that backed his candidacy. “To attempt to influence the run-off vote would be to mock their trust in me. I’m not planning to support either candidate.”

Whoever wins the run-off on November 22 will inherit an economy which, though growing, has a ballooning fiscal deficit, inflation of about 20%, and a ongoing shortage of access to global capital markets following Argentina’s 2001 default. But despite speculation that he might back the market-friendly Macri — whom many see as the favorite after his surprisingly strong showing in the first round — in return for ministerial positions for his supporters, Massa says this would be “absurd.”

Massa — former mayor of Tigre, a middle-class suburban district north of Buenos Aires — was President Fernández de Kirchner’s cabinet chief in 2008-09 before splitting from the government and forming the centrist Renewal Front party, which gained seats in the 2013 midterms.

Massa criticises what he says is a “campaign of fear” from both sides, with Macri’s camp warning (despite his numerous padded contract scandals as mayor) corruption will reign if he loses, while Scioli’s supporters claim Argentines will lose their social rights if his opponents take power. “Argentines must vote with hope, not fear,” says Massa.

The congressman, whose coalition controls 36 of 257 seats in the lower chamber of Congress, vows to play a central role in checking the power of the next administration, since neither Macri nor Scioli will have the majority needed in both houses to pass laws without third-party support.

At: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ec5f24b6-8391-11e5-8e80-1574112844fd.html#axzz3qve2LAWa

This was a surprise to almost everyone (although not to me, I must admit). Though probably not decisive, this announcement is all in all good news for Scioli given that polls suggest that Massa's voters lean toward Macri (the Clarín effect, since Massa's voters, while not right-wing per sé, tend to rely heavily on Clarín and its cable news outfit, TN, for their news).

Conventional wisdom had it that Massa would surely endorse Macri because, while his policies are much closer to Scioli (they're both Peronists), Massa and (especially) his wife are known to harbor a seething personal grudge against the Kirchners for having fired him in 2009 (he had hoped to succeed Cristina Kirchner as president with their endorsement, and that basically put the kibosh on those hopes).

Massa, however, still wants to be president (and hey, why not), and privately he knows that if Macri takes office next month, and does so thanks to him, the economic calamity and riots that will almost certainly follow will make Massa - more than Macri, ironically - the most hated man in Argentina. On the other hand, if Scioli wins, and if Massa plays his cards right, Scioli would owe him - and that could mean endorsing Massa for President in 2023.

Raúl Castro confirms retirement on historic visit to Mexico.

Source: Telesur

Cuban President Raúl Castro confirmed during a diplomatic meeting in Mexico on Friday he would be stepping down from office in 2018, an announcement he had already made two years ago. “I will not become the great-grandfather nor the great-grandson because otherwise Cubans would get bored of me,” Castro said, according to El Financiero.

The Cuban leader was at a lunch in Mérida, the capital of the southeastern state of Yucatán, with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Castro said he would like to return to Merida after his retirement from office. President Raúl Castro and his brother, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, lived in Mexico City in 1955, where they planned the Cuban Revolution.

President Castro's visit to Mexico was his first as Head of State and reinforced a change in relations that were severed by former President Vicente Fox (2000-06), who made former Cuban leader Fidel Castro feel uninvited during a regional summit in Mexico in 2002. Fox at the time suggested to Fidel Castro that he leave the country and not attend the dinner for the leaders of the region.

Raúl Castro, however, honored the Mexico’s “peaceful stance and solidarity” as the country had been the only one in Latin America to not cut ties with Cuba during the Cold War. Now 84, Raúl Castro has already picked a likely successor and announced in 2013 his intention to establish term limits and age caps for the presidency.

Read more: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Raul-Castro-Confirms-Retirement-on-Historic-Visit-to-Mexico-20151107-0002.html

Leaked Comcast Docs: Data Caps Have Nothing to Do With Network Congestion.

Source: Philadelphia Magazine

Comcast’s new data caps for Internet usage aren’t meant to keep its network running smoothly. Instead, the goal is “fairness and providing a more flexible policy to our customers,” according to leaked Comcast instructional documents found on Reddit on Friday.

Comcast has implemented four different data usage trials in the United States — and the most recent plans charge users $10 for every 50 GB of data they use over the 300 GB threshold. The program is expanding to Arkansas and Virginia December 1.

In the leaked documents, Comcast specifically tells customer-service reps not to say "the program is about congestion management." It also tells them not to use the term "data cap."

To be fair, Comcast won't charge you for the first three times you exceed 300 GB, and will send you a courtesy ‘in-browser’ notice and an email letting you know when you reach 90% of your monthly data usage plan amount. You can also elect to receive notifications at as low as 50% of your monthly plan.

"This plan sets up a mechanism that those who use more, pay more and those who use less, pay less," Charlie Douglas, executive director of corporate communications at Comcast said in an interview on Saturday.

On the leaked documents, however, Douglas said: "Just like we’re educating customers, we’re also educating care agents. Everything in those documents is consistent with everything we’re saying both internally and externally."

Read more: http://www.phillymag.com/business/2015/11/07/comcast-leak-data-cap/

It's not the money, it's the principle (don't cha know).

Imported subway cars claimed by Macri to be retained at Customs found hidden in a Clarín warehouse.

The City Government of Buenos Aires, headed by current right-wing presidential candidate Mauricio Macri, denounced days ago through an article in Clarín that the National Government retained 30 Nagoya-5000 subway cars in Customs. However, according to enelsubte.com, an online daily specializing in issues affecting the Buenos Aires Subway, 24 of these cars are in a warehouse owned by the Clarín Media Group. The remainder were already at the city's Polvorínes Street subway workshop.

The city subway authority, SBASE, today admitted this was the case; but insisted on blaming the national government for their being hidden from service, claiming in a statement that "the cars are not hidden. None can be put into service if the national government does not sign the certificates."

The website enelsubte.com clarified, however, that "the National Customs Office does not have authority over any subway cars stored in Clarín or city warehouses. "

The website also reported that Southside Buenos Aires warehouse where the 24 subway cars were found, is being rented by the city government from the Clarín Group for US$1.5 million a year. The Clarín Group, the largest media conglomerate in Argentina, is a vocal supporter of Macri's ongoing presidential bid and a top recipient of padded city contracts under his tenure as mayor.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201511/9512-la-ciudad-admitio-que-tiene-coches-del-subte-en-un-taller-de-clarin.html&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201511/9512-la-ciudad-admitio-que-tiene-coches-del-subte-en-un-taller-de-clarin.html&prev=search

Note the freshly-installed rails, just for the occasion (this is a publishing warehouse, after all):

Chile sentences 64 former Pinochet era officers.

Source: Buenos Aires Herald

Chilean judge Hernán Crisosto of the Appeals Court of Santiago sentenced 64 former secret police officers (DINA) to jail time for the detention and disappearance of Washington Cid Urrutia in 1974 during the country’s military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet (1973-90). Judge Crisosto sentenced the former spy agents to 13, 10 and four years in jail.

The retired generals César Manríquez Bravo and Raúl Iturriaga Neumann, as well as brigadiers Miguel Krassnoff Martchenko, and Pedro Espinoza Bravo were given the highest sentences in this trial of 13 years. All of them are already serving prison terms of over 200 years for dozens of other human rights violations trials. A total of 35 other DINA officers, among them many women, were given ten-year sentences, while 24 others received four-year sentences for being accomplices to the crime. One agent was given a 541-day jail sentence. Crisosto, who is specialized in human rights violations cases, absolved 11 officers.

The 24-year-old was a militant of the revolutionary left movement (MIR) and was captured by DINA officers, together with his wife María Isabel Ortega and Hernán Carrasco Vásquez, on December 8, 1974, in his home in Santiago. The three were taken to a torture and extermination centre in Villa Grimaldi. His name first appeared in a July 1975 list of 119 disappeared Chileans published once in two Chilean newspapers. The article at the time said that the victims had supposedly been killed abroad in internal fighting between MIR members; but it was later revealed to be a cover up.

In 25 years of democracy, there have been 1,149 convictions handed down for dictatorship-era human rights crimes. During Pinochet’s dictatorship, a total of 3,200 citizens were killed by the regime, according to official figures. There are still 1,192 Chileans who are unaccounted for. A total of 33,000 people were kidnapped, detained and tortured due to their political views.

Chile’s military government retained support among conservatives after its downfall, and for years they blocked attempts to deal with the dictatorship's crimes. Pinochet himself died in 2006 without ever being convicted for human rights abuses.

Read more: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/202289/chile-sentences-64-formerpinochet-era-officers-

Opus Dei bishop in Argentina, an opponent of Pope Francis, steps down ahead of corruption probe.

In a surprise announcement, first made over weekend to a congregation in side Luján Cathedral, Oscar Sarlinga, the Bishop of Zárate-Campana, in Buenos Aires Province, is resigning his post amid an internal Church investigation into embezzlement, corruption and “abuse of power” within the clergy.

Sarlinga, who has a long history of confrontations with Pope Francis, was appointed to his post by Pope Benedict.

While Sarlinga declined to comment on what had prompted his resignation, the ecclesiastical investigation into allegations of malpractice in the Zárate-Campana parish, including money laundering and sexual abuse, was likely a central factor in determining his decision. The investigation is ongoing and was launched by Pope Francis a year ago, who appointed his successor in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Mario Poli, to lead the inquiry.

According to sources inside the church, the investigation examined a number of specific instances of illegal activity in the parish, including “mismanagement of educational institutions” involving “a money laundering operation in San Pedro and San Pablo for diverting subsidies for soup kitchens granted by the Ministry of Social Development.” Also cited were reports of an alleged cover up and settlement regarding sexual abuse involving a priest within Sarlinga’s jurisdiction, and the resignation of at least one other member of the clergy who reported ethical violations in the parish.

The investigation has yet to publish its findings, but Sarlinga’s story also has a political angle. Sarlinga was also under pressure within the church regarding his relationship with Pope Francis and the proximity of the Catholic Church to institutional politics in the country and in Buenos Aires Province, the country's largest. Sarlinga’s relationship with the Pope soured in recent times by the disclosure of a 2008 plan to remove Archbishop Bergoglio of Buenos Aires (the future Pope Francis) from his post. The plan was discussed at the time with former Renewal Front presidential candidate Sergio Massa and businessman Jorge O’Reilly, who like Sarlinga is affiliated with conservative catholic group Opus Dei.

Sarlinga later admitted his involvement in discussions surrounding this plan, though he insisted it was not his alone.
Indeed, the episode was attributed by many to Sergio Massa primarily, who unlike the majority of key Argentine politicians contesting the 2015 general elections did not visit Pope Francis during the campaign.

Bishop Sarlinga is also close to the influential Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a former Vatican Secretary of State removed by Pope Francis early in his papacy.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/202233/former-francis-rival-steps-down
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