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Macri orders that Argentine inflation figures not be published until further notice.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri issued a decree declaring the country public statistics in a “state of emergency” until further notice, Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay said yesterday, confirming the inflation index will not be published until further notice. The broad move hands INDEC statistics bureau chief Jorge Todesca a number of legal tools to “normalize” its operations.

The Economy minister said Todesca is working on a new price index but until that’s done no inflation figures will be published. Nevertheless, in the short-term an “alternative” index might be published to avoid problems with contracts that are tied with the so-called CER (Reference Stabilization Coefficient), Prat-Gay said. “The trash isn’t ours but we don’t have any problems with cleaning it up gradually,” Prat-Gay said, speaking about the INDEC.

The lack of inflation data could become a problem as wage negotiations are set to start at the beginning of the year. Asked about what figures the government will use as a reference, Prat-Gay said they planned on analyzing private estimates, as well as those published by provincial statistics agencies. The latest available official data reported annual inflation of 14.3% in October. This was far below estimates from data made public by lawmakers in Congress, which put inflation at 25%.

Two weeks ago, Todesca gave his first press conference after taking office and acknowledged he could not place a definitive date on when the body would be producing reliable data again. Macri pledged to reform the government statistics bureau during his campaign. For years, the consumer price data produced by the statistics bureau has been broadly seen as inaccurate, leading to many private consultancies producing their own reports.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/205859/government-declares-national-statistics-emergency

The real reason monthly CPI data won't be published for the first time since at least 1942: http://www.democraticunderground.com/110846276

Convict who participated in smear against opponent among three fugitives in Argentine jail break.

Three convicts serving life terms for aggravated murder - Martín Lanatta, 40; his brother Cristián Lanatta, 41; and Víctor Schillaci, 33 - escaped yesterday from a high-security prison in General Alvear, Buenos Aires Province, after overpowering guards with a fake gun. Officers searched the area but were unable to locate the suspects, who at press time remained at large. All three had been convicted for carrying out the “triple murder in General Rodríguez” (Buenos Aires Province) in 2008.

The Lanatta brothers had made headlines again in August of this year by accusing the Front for Victory candidate for governor, Aníbal Fernández, of being the alleged mastermind of the murders of Sebastián Forza, Damián Ferrón, and Leopoldo Bina - the three businessmen who were linked to ephedrine trafficking (a common recreational drug in Argentina) and were kidnapped and killed in the 2008 triple murder case.

The accusation against Fernández, who had never been implicated in the 7 year-old crime, was made in a talk show interview with no evidence and contradicted earlier testimony made by Lanatta under oath. Its extensive coverage in the media - particularly the Clarín Group's TN cable news channel - effectively derailed Fernández's campaign, however, and helped contribute to Mauricio Macri's upset victory in the November presidential runoff.

The Lanatta brothers and Schillaci began their escape at around 2:30 am yesterday from infirmary of Provincial Penitentiary 30 at General Alvear, a small town some 250 km (150 mi) south of Buenos Aires. Apparently dressed in prison guard uniforms from, they fled using a car they allegedly stole from one of the security officers working at the prison.

Hours later, Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal fired the director of the Provincial Penitentiary Service (SPB), as well as authorities from Provincial Penitentiary 30 where the inmates were being held. Provincial Security Minister Cristian Ritondo offered a reward of two million pesos ($150,000) to anyone providing information on the whereabouts of the fugitives. The manhunt also involves federal security forces, the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI), and Interpol.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/205680/triple-murder-trio-escape-with-toy-gun

Governor Vidal's campaign was the beneficiary of Lanatta's allegations against Fernández, and two weeks after she takes office the Lanatta brothers (life-term convicts) "escaped" from the maximum security infirmary with one of the guards' cars. Right.

Warrantless wiretapping case against President Macri dropped.

Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello today dismissed phone tapping charges against Argentine President Mauricio Macri for which he was prosecuted five years ago, accused of ordering the illegal espionage of an AMIA victim family member, Sergio Burstein, and Macri’s own brother-in-law Néstor Leonardo.

According to judicial sources, Casanello considered investigators failed to collect enough evidence to prove that the now President was aware of the illegal tapping of phone records on Macri’s former brother-in-law Néstor Leonardo and Sergio Burstein, who lost his wife in the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center bomb attack.

Macri was prosecuted in 2009 by then Federal Judge Norberto Oyarbide along with other 11 defendants who, unlike Macri, will face trial, among them ex-spy Ciro James and ex-head of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Police Jorge “Fino” Palacios (both Macri appointees).

Judge Casanello considered a request by prosecutor Jorge Di Lello to clear Macri from the phone-tapping charges of being responsible of setting an alleged espionage structure carried out by the Buenos Aires City administration he was in charge of as mayor.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/205768/phonetapping-case-against-president-macri-dropped

The acquittal itself was a fait accompli: Di Lello and Casanello are members of the "judicial branch" of Macri's right-wing party, the PRO.

What Macri's motivation might have been for wiretapping his eccentric brother-in-law, we may never know. The Sergio Burstein case is far more serious, however, because Burstein is the head of 18-J, the most prominent of the three victims' rights groups representing survivors and loved ones of those killed or maimed in the 1994 AMIA (Jewish Mutual Association) Center bombing.

Burstein's 18-J, like the other two AMIA survivors groups, has publicly expressed doubts as to the official story that Hezbollah set a car bomb at the site with Iran's connivance (there was no crater at all, and the bomb pattern matched that of an inside bomb - as corroborated by the only forensic studies ever done on the bombing). All three survivors groups had been calling for the removal of the special prosectutor, the late Alberto Nisman, for sabotaging the very case he was appointed to investigate.

That fact that charges still stand against señores James and Palacios could still make this interesting though: James worked for years as Macri's personal private eye, and is believed to know where all the Macri family's bodies are buried (so to speak); and Palacios, a right-wing extremist and former policeman, has already been indicted for his role in sabotaging the AMIA investigation during the Menem era.

Argentine Supreme Court upholds indictment against Macri's Central Bank head for 2001 Megaswap fraud

Argentina's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the newly-appointed Central Bank President, Federico Sturzenegger, and thus upheld the decision of the Appeals Court to indict Sturzenegger for his key role in the infamous 2001 bondholder "mega-swap" that added $38 billion (25%) to Argentina's foreign debt. A lien was consequently placed by the Appeals Court against Sturzenegger for 5 million pesos ($375,000).

The indictment for malfeasance in public office pertains to his role as chief architect of the July 2001 bond swap operation as Secretary of Economic Policy under Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo (whose deregulation and fire-sale privatizations in the 1990s were blamed for Argentina's collapse in December 2001). The mega-swap involved an exchange of 37 types of bonds for longer-term, higher-interest bonds. The swap was accepted by most bondholders, and delayed up to $30 billion in payments that would have been due by 2005; but it also added $38 billion in extra interest payments, and of the $82 billion in bonds that eventually had to be restructured (triggering a wave of holdout lawsuits), 60% were issued during the 2001 megaswap.

The seven banks that participated in the operation meanwhile took 150 million dollars in commissions.

Sturzenegger was originally indicted by Federal Judge Sebastián Ramos in 2013 as a "necessary accomplice to the crime of conducting negotiations incompatible with the exercise of public office." Judge Ramos' indictment also provided for a lien to be placed over Sturzenegger's accounts. Judge Ramos's decision, however, was overturned by the Second Chamber of the Federal Court on June 5, 2014, which acquitted among other defendants Sturzenegger and Cavallo himself.

The Second Chamber ruling was appealed by the Solicitor General under former President Cristina Kirchner, Germán Moldes, who wrote that "this case has ample evidence that materially demonstrates that an economic policy decision was made by government officials on behalf of the State to favor their friends."

Third Chamber of the Federal Court of Criminal Appeals sided with Solicitor General Moldes and quashed the earlier dismissals on April 29, 2015. Sturzenegger, who by then had been elected to Congress and figured prominently in the right-wing presidential campaign of Mauricio Macri as his chief economic adviser, took the case to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, however, in a unanimous decision signed on December 15 by Justices Ricardo Lorenzetti, Elena Highton de Nolasco, and Juan Carlos Maqueda, dismissed the appeal and requested "the continuation, without delay, of the conduct of the proceedings" against Sturzenegger.

Neither Central Bank President Sturzenegger or President Macri have commented on the decision.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201512/10724-la-corte-volvio-a-procesar-a-federico-sturzenegger-por-el-megacanje.html&prev=search

I should note that his father, Adolfo Sturzenegger, was one of the architects of the dictatorship's hated Circular 1050, which tied mortgage payments to the value of the dollar in Argentina (which rose 15 fold between March 1981 and July 1982) and thus bankrupted hundreds of thousands of homeowners.

Luckily, his son hasn't learned to cover his tracks too well (the debate coach he's praising, Jaime Durán Barba, is a known CIA psy-ops asset):

Doubling down on W (by Paul Krugman)

2015 was, of course, the year of Donald Trump, whose rise has inspired horror among establishment Republicans and, let’s face it, glee — call it Trumpenfreude — among many Democrats. But Trumpism has in one way worked to the G.O.P. establishment’s advantage: it has distracted pundits and the press from the hard right turn even conventional Republican candidates have taken, a turn whose radicalism would have seemed implausible not long ago.

After all, you might have expected the debacle of George W. Bush’s presidency — a debacle not just for the nation, but for the Republican Party, which saw Democrats both take the White House and achieve some major parts of their agenda — to inspire some reconsideration of W-type policies. What we’ve seen instead is a doubling down, a determination to take whatever didn’t work from 2001 to 2008 and do it again, in a more extreme form.

Start with the example that’s easiest to quantify, tax cuts.

Big tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy were the Bush administration’s signature domestic policy. They were sold at the time as fiscally responsible, a matter of giving back part of the budget surplus America was running when W took office. (Alan Greenspan infamously argued that tax cuts were needed to avoid paying off federal debt too fast.) Since then, however, over-the-top warnings about the evils of debt and deficits have become a routine part of Republican rhetoric; and even conservatives occasionally admit that soaring inequality is a problem.

Moreover, it’s harder than ever to claim that tax cuts are the key to prosperity. At this point the private sector has added more than twice as many jobs under President Obama as it did over the corresponding period under W, a period that doesn’t include the Great Recession. You might think, then, that Bush-style tax cuts would be out of favor. In fact, however, establishment candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are proposing much bigger tax cuts than W ever did. And independent analysis of Jeb’s proposal shows that it’s even more tilted toward the wealthy than anything his brother did.

What about other economic policies? The Bush administration’s determination to dismantle any restraints on banks — at one staged event, a top official used a chain saw on stacks of regulations — looks remarkably bad in retrospect. But conservatives have bought into the thoroughly debunked narrative that government somehow caused the Great Recession, and all of the Republican candidates have declared their determination to repeal Dodd-Frank, the fairly modest set of regulations imposed after the financial crisis.

The only real move away from W-era economic ideology has been on monetary policy, and it has been a move toward right-wing fantasyland. True, Ted Cruz is alone among the top contenders in calling explicitly for a return to the gold standard — you could say that he wants to Cruzify mankind upon a cross of gold. (Sorry.) But where the Bush administration once endorsed “aggressive monetary policy” to fight recessions, these days hostility toward the Fed’s efforts to help the economy is G.O.P. orthodoxy, even though the right’s warnings about imminent inflation have been wrong again and again.

Last but not least, there’s foreign policy. You might have imagined that the story of the Iraq war, where we were not, in fact, welcomed as liberators, where a vast expenditure of blood and treasure left the Middle East less stable than before, would inspire some caution about military force as the policy of first resort. Yet swagger-and-bomb posturing is more or less universal among the leading candidates. And let’s not forget that back when Jeb Bush was considered the front-runner, he assembled a foreign-policy team literally dominated by the architects of debacle in Iraq.

Why does this matter? It's important to realize that not being Donald Trump doesn’t make someone a moderate, or even halfway reasonable. The truth is that there are no moderates in the Republican primary, and being reasonable appears to be a disqualifying characteristic for anyone seeking the party’s nod.

At: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/28/opinion/doubling-down-on-w.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

170,000 evacuated by unprecedented floods in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

One of the worst rains and floods in recent decades has left more than 170,000 evacuees in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay. Authorities remain on alert after the Paraná and Uruguay rivers and a number of tributaries overflowed their banks. Paraguay was the most affected, with 130,000 evacuees.

The effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon - resulting from the interaction between the ocean and atmosphere in the Eastern and Central Pacific equatorial areas - are the most destructive since 1950 and may continue until the first quarter of 2016, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO).


Two people died and 20,000 were evacuated in three provinces of northeastern Argentina, mainly because of flooding of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, according to recent reports from the authorities.

"These floods are on track to being one of the most complicated in history," said Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio during a tour this Saturday of Entre Rios Province. Entre Rios is the most affected province with about 10,500 displaced from their homes. Most are in Concordia, a city of 170,000 on the banks of the Uruguay River which according to authorities is suffering its "worst flooding in 50 years."

The Governor of Entre Rios, Gustavo Bordet, and the Secretary of Human Development of Concordia, Guillermo Echenause, reported Saturday that a state of alert remains in the city - although Uruguay River levels have recently decreased a little. "Right now the situation has stabilized as a result of good weather and this has given us a break," Governor Bordet said, adding that the Uruguay River remains at 15.86 meters (52 feet) - nearly a meter (3 ft) above flood stage.

Presidential Chief of Staff Marcos Peña visited Corrientes Province, where another 2,000 evacuees were registered; there were 1,500 more in neighboring Chaco Province.


The overflowing Uruguay River also affected the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul (southern Brazil), where 1,795 families (9,000 people) were displaced by the storm in recent days.

On Saturday, President Dilma Rousseff flew over the area around Uruguaiana, a city of 125,000 on the banks of the Uruguay River. "We are here because we know that Brazil suffers the El Niño phenomenon with heavy rains in the south and a terrible drought in the northeast," Rousseff said.

Major Rinaldo da Silva Castro of the Regional Civil Defense said that 38 cities in the region were affected by flooding along the rivers Uruguay and Quaraí.


Heavy El Niño storms also caused disastrous flooding in Paraguay, the country most affected by this disaster. Flooding along the Paraguay River has provoked 130,000 evacuated (out of a population of just 7 million), authorities said. Four people were crushed by falling trees and the capital, Asunción, remains without electricity. Paraguayan President Horacio Cartés declared a state of emergency to release more than $ 3.5 million in care for evacuees.


Northern Uruguay saw 9,083 evacuees by Saturday, of which 7,185 evacuated voluntarily according to the latest report from the National Emergency System (Sinae).

The most serious flooding is reportedly in the northern departments of Artigas, Paysandú, Rivera, and Salto, and in the central departments of Durazno and Río Negro.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/272632&prev=search

Unstoppable Porter Ranch, CA, methane gas leak being called worst catastrophe since BP Gulf disaster

Methane gas continues spewing, unchecked, into the air over southern California from a fractured well to an underground storage site — at such an alarming rate that low-flying planes have necessarily been diverted by the FAA, lest internal combustion engines meet highly volatile gas and explode. This is, indeed, the biggest environmental catastrophe since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010; and for now, there is no way to stop it.

According to the California Air Resources Board, methane — a greenhouse gas 72 times more impactful in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide — has been escaping from the Aliso Canyon site with force equivalent “to a volcanic eruption” for about two months now. So far, the total leaked gas measures somewhere around 100,000 tons — adding “approximately one-quarter to the regular statewide methane emissions” during that same time frame.

“The relative magnitude of emissions from the leak compared to other sources of methane in the State underscores the urgency of stopping the gas leak. This comes on top of any problems caused by odor and any potential impacts from exposure,” states the initial report on the Aliso leak by air quality officials. “The enormity of the Aliso Canyon gas leak cannot be overstated. Gas is escaping through a ruptured pipe more than 8,000 feet underground, and it shows no signs of stopping. As the pressure from the weight on top of the pipe causes the gas to diffuse, it only continues to dissipate across a wider and wider area,” explained Erin Brockovich, who spent time in nearby Porter Ranch investigating the leak. Officials and experts are concerned, and they can’t recall another leak of this magnitude in decades — if ever. “I asked this question of our staff of 30 years,” said Steve Bohlen, who recently left his position as state supervisor of oil and gas.

Thousands of households have evacuated the area, despite little help, much less information, from the gas company about when they might be able to return. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, SoCalGas spokesperson Michael Mizrahi claimed the company had paid to relocate and house 2,092 households — but that effort is severely lacking, says Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. Yesterday, the city attorney’s office sought a restraining order to mandate SoCalGas relocate residents in the affected area within 48 hours of their request; and it is also seeking a “special master” to oversee the entire relocation operation, which is currently being handled by the gas company. On Thursday, Los Angeles Unified School District board members voted unanimously to close two Porter Ranch schools and relocate their 1,900 students and staff to different locations for the foreseeable future. A local emergency has been declared by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Multiple lawsuits have now been initiated against SoCalGas and/or its parent company, Sempra Energy. A class-action lawsuit has also been filed on behalf of the Save Porter Ranch group; and City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a civil suit earlier this month due to the leak’s continued threat to residents’ health and damage to the environment, alleging failure by SoCalGas to prevent the leak and further exacerbation of the effects.

SoCalGas insists there will be no long-term health effects resulting from the persistent leak; but as Brockovich pointed out, “no one really knows the potential long-term side effects of benzene and radon, the carcinogens that are commonly found in natural gas.” But what’s making this massive leak so difficult to stop pertains to the storage ‘container,’ itself. In fact, there are some 300 such depleted subterranean oil fields being employed this way around the United States. Aliso Canyon, a natural gas storage site since the 1970s, has one of the largest capacities: 86 billion cubic feet.

Beginning December 4th, SoCalGas crews began drilling a relief well to intercept the fissured pipe. Cement will then be poured into both to seal the wells permanently. Flaring, or setting a deliberate fire to burn off excess gas, simply isn’t an option. The mammoth scope of this leak means a flare would ultimately complicate matters even further.

“There is no stone being left unturned to get this well closed,” Bohlen stated. “It’s our top priority.” SoCalGas did have this consolation for affected residents: “We are deeply sorry for the frustration.”

At: http://www.healthfreedoms.org/unstoppable-california-gas-leak-being-called-worst-catastrophe-since-bp-spill/

OAS: Macri's AFSCA takeover puts it “back to when governments had full control of the media office.”

The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States (OAS), Edison Lanza, says media concentration still an issue in Argentina. President Mauricio Macri’s offensive against the AFSCA media watchdog is an “unorthodox” move that bypasses the mechanism stipulated by law, he warned yesterday.

Lanza was referring to Macri's use of an allied municipal judge, Julián Ercolini, to declare the Media Anti-trust Law unconstitutional in violation of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, Macri's subsequent removal of AFSCA Director Martín Sabbatella by decree on December 23, and his appointment of a PRO (Macri's party) operative, Agustín Garzón, to the post without congressional review.

AFSCA is Argentina's counterpart to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and monitors the implementation of the 2009 Media Anti-trust Law; the law, which bars monopolies, has been endorsed by among others the UN, the OAS, the Carter Center, the IJF, and Reporters Without Borders.

While critical of Martín Sabbatella, appointed by former President Cristina Kirchner to the post in 2009, for not being independent enough from political power, Lanza said the trusteeship model passed by decree by the Macri administration puts the media watchdog “back in the times when governments had full control over the office.”

Lanza, a former counsel for the Association of Uruguayan Press (APU), spoke to the Herald on the controversy.

How did you take the Argentine government’s decision to place AFSCA under trusteeship?

We’re closely watching this situation. To take such a decision without using the clear mechanism stipulated by law to remove a member of AFSCA’s board of directors is clearly an unorthodox path. The result is that the decision has been legally challenged.

International standards on the matter say the ideal thing would be to have departments that are autonomous both from the Executive and economic powers in order to be able to regulate media systems following legal principles. Something which all rapporteurs on freedom of expression (from United Nations, from the OAS) agreed on was that the structure of AFSCA was once of the positive aspects of the law. For the first time, the office had representatives from the opposition, civil society.

On the other hand, the announcement to place the department under trusteeship comes just as the new government takes office, which is precisely the moment when AFSCA is being put to the test and it needs to remain an autonomous office. Trying to make (the department) in the image of the new government... well, it’s like saying autonomy is over and that we’re back to the times when governments had full control over the body.

What’s your evaluation of Martín Sabbatella’s tenure as head of AFSCA?

We don’t generally assess how officials have been doing in their posts except when they openly violate their obligations to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. That being said, we’ve followed very closely the implementation of the Media Law.

The law, in general, complied with our recommendations of avoiding media concentration in order to favour diversity. Macri's saying that problems of media concentration can be fixed by the market itself, goes against our guidelines. But implementing such a law is a very sensitive issue, and there have been some measures that have been challenged by the Clarín Group and now the courts are examining the question.

In our last annual report we described the way the law was being applied and commented our doubts on whether Telefónica de Argentina was really unrelated to (Spanish conglomerate) Telefónica, and whether there was excessive rigour in the enforcement of the law against the Clarín Group (which controls almost half the Argentine media market) to the detriment of other decisions.

Last month, Macri’s Communications Minister Oscar Aguad argued there was no media concentration in Argentina. Do you agree with that statement?

No. Clearly, there’s a media group that enjoys a great deal of market concentration levels. That’s the important thing, we’re taking about media outlets, not beer companies. Multinationals have bought up practically the entire beer market in our countries, for example; but the difference is that you can dominate the beer market without affecting the institutional life of a country.

Media concentration, on the other hand, hurts democracy. Ignoring that is to ignore the entire doctrine on the matter. Strong democracies put limits to media concentration.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/205594/oas-afsca-move-hurts-autonomy

Lanza's last answer was reminiscent of Frank LaRue, until recently UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, who said that "it's media consolidation, rather than direct government censorship, that threatens freedom of the press and speech most today." He was a strong supporter of Argentina's 2009 Media Law (which he referred to "example to follow, particularly for the U.S." and the AFSCA.

Macri owes his narrow victory to the Clarín Group, which has been seeking to illegally monopolize the "triple play" in Argentine media (phone, cable, and internet - plus radio and print) for a decade. The AFSCA has been the only regulatory body standing in the way of media conglomerates such as the Clarín Group (which is incorporated in Luxembourg).

The "Communications Ministry" - a Macri invention - was created precisely to override the authority of the AFSCA. His appointment of Oscar Aguad - a right-wing politician with close ties to the infamous Third Army Corps commander during the Dirty War, Gen. Luciano Menéndez, and with no media or communications experience - as minister also speaks to the authoritarian intent of the new ministry.

His decree appointment of Agustín Garzón, a failed PRO candidate (Macri's far-right party), as AFSCA director is analogous to Bush's appointment of Michael Powell as head of the FCC (which under Powell came to be nicknamed the 'Fox Channel Commission').

Political writer Luis Majul claims Macri, who as mayor paid him $2.5 million, is "like Mandela."

Luis Majul, one of the best known political writers and anchors in Argentina, earned a public rebuke by many of his colleagues in Argentine journalism by stating in a Cronista Comercial op-ed that President Mauricio Macri is "a modern-day Arturo Frondizi, mixed with Nelson Mandela but adapted to Argentine realities."

The comparison, which combines the policy virtues of former Argentine President Arturo Frondizi (who spurred industrialization during this 1958-62 tenure despite staunch opposition from the conservative landowning elite) and the iconic former South African President, Nelson Mandela, was criticized for not only its absurd embellishment and lack of basic journalistic integrity; but also for two known conflicts of interest between Majul and the president:

Majul's wife, María Conte Grand, is a close personal friend of Macri's Vice President, Gabriela Michetti, and today works as her private secretary.

And Majul's own production company, La Cornisa Producciónes ('The Ledge Production Co.'), received over 14 million pesos ($2.5 million) from the City of Buenos Aires under Mayor Macri from 2008 to 2014.

The contracts, which totaled 300 over the six years in question, were awarded on a no bid basis through the city's Secretary of Social Communication, which handles municipal publicity. None of the 300 contracts were listed in the official municipal record.

Macri's has already come under fire in recent months following revelations that hundreds of secret contracts from the Social Communication Department were used to fund propaganda campaigns through production companies created for the very purpose of collecting said contracts.

These include sportscaster Fernando Niembro, whose La Usina production company collected 23 million pesos ($3 million) on 192 such contracts; Héctor Santander's Derby Eland, which invoiced 20 million pesos ($2.2 million) for "sidewalk repair" but actually created political smart phone apps for Macri; Alejandro Monti's Ecomlat, which similarly invoiced 27 million pesos ($3 million) for "public works" while doing ad work; and right-wing Congressman Eduardo Amadeo, whose think tank Observatorio Social received 5 million pesos in "consulting fees" from Mayor Macri's city hall. Amadeo was a vocal Macri supporter.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.taringa.net/posts/noticias/19137007/Majul-comparo-a-Macri-con-Mandela-y-todavia-se-rien-de-el.html&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://argentinatoday.org/2015/12/22/majul-no-pudo-responder-despues-de-conocerse-que-cobro-14-millones-de-macri/&prev=search

Note: All dollar figures in parentheses are calculated for the average exchange rate at the time.

Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo founder Chicha Mariani finds granddaughter abducted in 1976.

After an epic search that lasted 39 years, María Isabel "Chicha" Chorobik de Mariani, the founder of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, located the granddaughter snatched as an infant during the country's last military dictatorship.

Fundación Anahí, the association created by Mariani, 92, when she left Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo in 1989, confirmed the news Thursday.

Her granddaughter, Clara Anahí, read one of the letters written by Mariani and decided to approach Fundación Anahí because she had doubts about her real identity. Sources told the Herald that the woman, who lives in Córdoba Province, conducted blood tests at a private lab to determine whether she was the baby who had been snatched from Diana Teruggi’s arms in 1976. A judicial filing will be made on Monday.

Diana, Chicha’s daughter-in-law, was killed when the military launched an atack on the house where she lived in the city of La Plata on November 24, 1976. Her son, Daniel Mariani, was killed in 1977. Both were members of Montoneros, the Peronist left-wing armed group. At the time, several dictatorship officials told Mariani that her granddaughter had been killed in the attack. She refused to believe them, however, and continued what many had told her was a pointless search.

“Many people know what happened to Clara Anahí, but they have hidden the information. For years, they only told lies: that she was killed, that my son was alive and had taken her to Spain. Horrible and painful lies. The worst thing was that many people believed what (dictatorship-era Buenos Aires Province Police Chief Ramón) Camps said, and did not trust me,” Chicha told the Herald in 2013.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/205563/iconic-grandmothers-of-plaza-de-mayo-founder-chicha-mariani-finds-her-granddaughter
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