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BBC highlights Argentine President Cristina Kirchner's popularity

Buenos Aires Herald. June 26, 2015.

The world is closely watching Argentina’s political scenario with the general elections just around the corner. The BBC, the UK’s public-service broadcaster, published an article on President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner highlighting the leader’s "popularity" as she readies to leave office in December.

“Years go by, crises multiply, her rivals are born and die; but Cristina Fernández de Kirchner - CFK or simply ‘Cristina’ - resists,” the piece reads while director of the Isonomía consultant agency Juan Manuel Germano tells the British media that “the president today has a positive image of 50 percent.”

Under the title “The secret behind the popularity of Cristina Fernández in Argentina,” journalist Ignacio de los Reyes describes some pictures and graffiti he finds in the City of Buenos Aires showing a triumphant and “resistant” CFK.

The scenario in neighboring countries Chile and Brazil is also brought up, mentioning public image rates of Michelle Bachelet (24 percent) and Dilma Rousseff (10 percent), “two leaders facing serious corruption cases.” A honeymoon the BBC also compares with Ms. Kirchner’s predecessors: “Raúl Alfonsín (1983-89), strangled by hyper-inflation, was forced to leave power six months sooner than expected; Carlos Menem (1989-99) left strongly questioned by numerous scandals and a broken economy,” the British paper says on its online version leaving a special part to Fernando de la Rúa (1999-2001), “a more dramatic case.” He left the Casa Rosada in helicopter after signing his resignation, having reached only half of his term, amid social and economic turmoil.

Quoting Germano again, the article says “the citizenship starts to tell the president goodbye, makes a balance of her administration with policies such as the Universal Child Allowance, the renationalisations of YPF or Aerolíneas Argentinas, and laws such as the legalization of gay marriage, with a high level of support (60-70 percent approval).”

“One of her Achilles heels is the economic question (40 percent); although there has been an improvement in the approval of her economic administration over the past months,” the consultant tells the BBC.

Reyes continues the article saying that “loved or hated, no one can question that 'The Boss' enjoys extraordinary power and influence” only six months ahead of handing in the “keys of the Casa Rosada” to her successor.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/192556/bbc-highlights-cfks-popularity

Report: Many Mississippi politicians tied to group that radicalized Dylann Roof

Ashton Pittman
Deep South Daily, June 20, 2015.

A surprising number of Mississippi politicians have ties to the white supremacist organization that radicalized Dylann Roof, the gunman who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night. A list of state leaders with ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) includes U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

The Council describes itself as a group organizing for “the interests of European-Americans” and describes black people as a retrograde species. “Mississippi is toting a load of fat blacks on welfare,” the Council’s website once read. “Though disgust is a natural reaction when some blubbery welfare queens buys her pork chops and cream pies with food stamps, remember that the government is subsidizing this gluttony.”

On another occasion, the CCC railed against gay people in an editorial. “If the South seizes upon queer marriage and beheads that serpent, then a new era for States Rights will commence,” the Council wrote. “By the Grace of God, queer marriage may be the petard upon which Brown v. Topeka (the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that desegregated public schools), and all other pernicious civil rights regulations, will be blasted down the memory hole.”

While both of those quotes were reported on in 2004, the CCC continues to use similar rhetoric today. The blog for the Mississippi Council of Conservative Citizens includes headlines from this decade such as, “Niggers Stir Up Racism in Pearl High School,” “Blacks fluck [sic] or have to cheat to pass test,” and “Military Homos” (in response to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).

So who exactly are the Mississippi politicians who have ties to the white supremacist organization? The list of politicians in Mississippi who have participated in CCC events, compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2004, includes 23 Mississippi current and former Mississippi politicians. Of the 23 listed, 15 still hold elected office in Mississippi today.

At: http://www.deepsouthdaily.com/2015/06/many-mississippi-politicians-tied-to-group-that-radicalized-dylann-roof.html

Also in the CCC were former Governor Kirk Fordice and former Sen. Trent Lott, as well as most white Deep South congressmen until the infamous Thurmond farewell dinner in 2002 put them in the spotlight - proving yet again that sunlight is indeed the best disinfectant.

Economist Stiglitz argues for international debt supervision

Buenos Aires Herald

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has reiterated his support for a wider system of control on international sovereign debt restructuring, citing the examples of Argentina, Greece and Ukraine to back up his assertion that the area needs more supervision to protect those involved.

"In Argentina, the authorities’ battles with a small number of “investors” (so-called vulture funds) jeopardised an entire debt restructuring agreed to – voluntarily – by an overwhelming majority of the country’s creditors," Stiglitz considered, in a column published today by The Guardian. The economist has on numerous occasions defended Argentina as the nation continues its litigation against holdout investors, who demand 100% payment on bonds.

"Those who claim that the system works well frame cases like Argentina as exceptions. Most of the time, they claim, the system does a good job. What they mean, of course, is that weak countries usually knuckle under. But at what cost to their citizens?"

Stiglitz continues to assert that the U.S. Treasury's belief that sovereign debt restructurings do not need to be under international law is "incredible". The column recognises that full legal backing would be difficult, but proposes a new framework which would include a stay against litigation during restructuring negotiations - "thus limiting the scope for disruptive behaviour by vulture funds."

Such a framework was proposed by the Argentine Government before the United Nations in 2014, after a victory for creditors in a lengthy legal battle which would oblige the nation to pay back in full those bondholders who did not enter restructuring. In September the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of creating a legal framework, with 124 votes for and just 11 against.

Other ideas mooted by the economist include preferential treatment for lenders willing to give to countries in restructuring; an agreement that no country can sign away its basic rights; and limits on how much a single government can bind its successors to the deals made.

"The crisis in Europe is just the latest example of the high costs – for creditors and debtors alike – entailed by the absence of an international rule of law for resolving sovereign-debt crises," Stiglitz concludes, while adding that regulation of debt restructuring would have too take place away from organisations such as the International Monetary Fund ("too closely affiliated with creditors".

"Such crises will continue to occur. If globalization is to work for all countries, the rules of sovereign lending must change. The modest reforms we propose are the right place to start."

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/191756/economist-stiglitz-argues-for-international-debt-supervision

Stiglitz's column in full: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/16/sovereign-debt-needs-international-supervision

I should mention that said vulture funds are not demanding "100%", but 1,600%. The main litigant, GOP megadonor and TARP baby Paul Singer and his Cayman Islands-based NML hedge fund, rejected the 2010 Argentine swap offer and instead demands $832 million for Argentine bonds purchased for $49 million from resellers in 2008. Taking the Argentine offer today -and it's still very much on the table- would mean a nearly 400% profit for NML.

Nice work if you can get it.

Former Argentine Supreme Court Justice Eugenio Zaffaroni elected to InterAmerican Human Rights Court

Former Supreme Court Justice Eugenio Zaffaroni was elected yesterday to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights along with three other jurists from Chile, Costa Rica, and Ecuador.

Zaffaroni, who recently retired from the Supreme Court at 75, had been nominated by the Argentine Government, which celebrated his appointment by the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly in Washington. “This election represents a great honour for Argentina as the commitment of our country to the promotion and protection of human rights has been recognized by the international community,” the Foreign Ministry headed by Héctor Timerman — who attended yesterday’s OAS hearing, said in a press release.

The former justice yesterday received 18 votes from the 23 countries that are part of the human rights body. A majority of 12 votes was needed.

Appointed to the country’s highest tribunal in 2003 by late former president Néstor Kirchner, Zaffaroni stayed on the Supreme Court for 11 years. He is considered to be a progressive law expert and with close links to the Kirchner administration and Legitimate Justice, the pro-judicial reform association.

Zaffaroni’s nomination was endorsed by the American Association of Jurists (AAJ). In its endorsement letter, the AAJ also made reference to the resurgence of a book about the Military Code of Justice published in 1980. According to the AAJ, Zaffaroni’s words have been distorted to make him appear as a defender of the 1976 military coup. “The book was a key element to promote the criminal investigations into state terror practices,” the members of the AAJ said. The organization also said that “the media do not forget his vote in the Broadcast Media Law case in 2013 and his support of the country against the attack launched by vulture funds.”

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is made up of seven judges from seven different countries and four seats were up for grabs. Zaffaroni will be arriving at the Court along with Eduardo Vio Grossi (Chile), Elizabeth Odio Benito (Costa Rica), and Patricio Pazmiño Freire (Ecuador).

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/191791/zaffaroni-elected-to-interamerican-rights-court

First judge convicted for dictatorship era crimes in Argentina

Luciana Bertoia
Buenos Aires Herald
June 13, 2015

The Province of Tucumán was a witness to history yesterday when Manlio Torcuato Martínez became the first judge to be sentenced for crimes committed during the state-terror era. Family members of victims wept with relief after the verdict of 16 years in prison was read in court.

Martínez was found guilty of abuse of power, failing to comply with the obligation to prosecute crimes and the cover-up of the murder of María Alejandra Niklison, Fernando Saavedra, Eduardo González Paz, Juan Carlos Meneses, and Atilio Brandsen in what is known as the massacre of Azcuénaga Street.

In 2011, Gen. Luciano Benjamín Menéndez, the former head of the Third Army Corps — who commanded the repression in 10 northern provinces, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of the five activists who were part of Montoneros, a Peronist left-wing organization. Now, the court analyzed Martínez’s role in the case and also convicted him for fabricating a case against Miguel Atilio Romano, who was the owner of the house where the activists were murdered by the armed forces on May 20, 1976.

Human rights organizations and family members of victims celebrated outside the courtroom. “A ruling like this was unthinkable several years ago,” federal prosecutor Agustín Chit told the Herald yesterday. The Attorney General’s Office had requested to sentence Martínez to 25 years; but, though the penalty was more lenient, they praised the judges’ decision.

Martínez became judge in 1975 and retired in 1983. “He started working when the Operation Independence was launched and left when democracy returned to the country. He played a key role during the state terror era,” Chit said yesterday.

In 1975, President María Estela Martínez de Perón deployed troops in Tucumán to “annihilate” the guerrilla groups that were carrying out activities in that province. Operation Independence set the basis for the repression that would be unleashed by the dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.

Martínez was mentioned in Tucumán’s Never Again report in 1984 for his role in the darkest years of the military regime.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/191495/first-judge-convicted-for-dictatorship-era-crimes

Mississippi one of two state economies to shrink in 2014

Source: Clarion-Ledger

Mississippi was one of two states whose gross domestic product decreased last year.

Alaska was the other.

The state's GDP, which measures economic output, shrank 1.2% in 2014, marking the second consecutive year of decline. Overall, U.S. GDP grew by 2.2% in 2014.

The revelation was included in data the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis released Wednesday. The decline put Mississippi 49th in the U.S. The state's GDP decreased 1.1% in 2013. The state also had the lowest GDP per capita ($31,551) in the country.

Read more: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/business/2015/06/10/mississippi-economy-shrink-2014/71011438/#
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