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Argentina sees migration ban and border wall proposals in immigration row

Source: The Guardian

Amid a racially charged national debate on immigration, a former real estate tycoon-turned-president signs an executive order to stop some foreign migrants entering his country and to deport foreign residents with criminal records. There is even talk of building a border wall, while intemperate language prompts a backlash from a neighbouring country.

But this is not Donald Trump’s America and the wall is not intended to exclude Mexicans.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri triggered a diplomatic spat with regional neighbours this week after he signed a controversial order to rein in migration. He has said that the order is intended to fight the rising wave of drug-related crime, which he claims is partly due to migrants from Argentina’s northern neighbours.

“Macri is intent on copying Trump’s agenda,” said former legislator and human rights lawyer Myriam Bregman of the Socialist Workers’ party. “They’re trying to associate immigration with crime.”

Immigration from Argentina’s northern neighbours – where the vast majority of the population is either mestizo or indigenous – has always been a source of racial tension in a country where around 79% of the population is descended from European immigrants. As in the US, migrants in Argentina tend to work in construction or other low-paying jobs; activists say that they often take jobs that Argentines are unwilling to take.

While the existing law already prohibits the entry of foreign citizens with criminal convictions, Macri’s new immigration order speeds up the deportation of foreigners accused of breaking the law - even if they haven’t been convicted for some cases. Macri claims that 21.3% of Argentina’s prison population are foreigners; but Ministry of Justice figures for 2014 show that non-Argentines make up only 5.8% of the total number of prisoners held in the country, including provincial jails.

Bolivia’s foreign ministry quickly retaliated with a statement rejecting “unfounded affirmations that do not contribute to the fight against discrimination and xenophobia in our countries.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/03/argentina-sees-migration-ban-and-border-wall-proposals-in-immigration-row?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Colorado Progressives Reject Neil Gorsuch

Responding to the announcement this evening that President Donald Trump has selected Judge Neil Gorsuch of Colorado as his Supreme Court nominee, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, released the following statement:

“Neil Gorsuch is just the latest in a series of horrible choices by Donald Trump,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii.

“Gorsuch’s fringe views on health care and contraception make him an enemy of Colorado women. On the Supreme Court, Gorsuch would be a vote to roll back women’s rights, environmental protections, and hard-won protections against discrimination in the workplace. Gorsuch has even been endorsed by the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-LGBT extremist group. Gorsuch may hail from Colorado, but his record stands in opposition to Colorado values.”

“The simple fact is that this Supreme Court appointment was stolen from President Obama last year in a shameful act of Republican treachery,” said Silverii. “No Democrat should in any way cooperate with or otherwise enable Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, including Colorado Democrats. To do so would only hand Trump another undeserved victory.”

At: https://progressnowcolorado.org/2017/01/31/colorado-progressives-reject-neil-gorsuch/

Argentina toughens immigration law, speeds up deportations

Argentina toughened its immigration law on Monday, making it easier to deport foreigners who commit crimes or who are being investigated.

The toughening of the law is in stark contrast to Argentina's traditionally welcoming immigration policy. Around 6 million people, mainly from Europe, emigrated to Argentina between 1860 and 1960, and 1 million immigrants were granted permanent residency between 2004 and 2015 - mostly from Paraguay, Bolivia, or Peru.

The new changes fast track the expulsion of foreigners who commit crimes even if no conviction was issued. Citing a rise in organized crime committed by foreigners, President Mauricio Macri said authorities faced bureaucratic hurdles in deporting foreigners who committed such crimes.

While the existing 2003 law was passed by Congress, Macri enacted these changes by decree.

Advocates defend the decree as a way to curb a spike in crime that remains a top concern for Argentines ahead of this year's congressional elections. Human rights advocates said it risks stigmatizing foreigners, who make up 5% of the country's 43 million people.

"Amnesty International considers that it's a mistake to reduce the migration phenomenon to a debate on national security that associates migrants with criminals," the rights organization said in a statement Monday. "While states have the authority to establish rules in migratory issues, they can't violate constitutional rights and international human rights treaties."

Others, like legal affairs journalist Raúl Kollmann - whose mother survived the Holocaust - believe the decree violates due process rights and is not only discriminatory but unnecessary.

Kollmann notes that the 2003 law already prohibits entry to anyone with a criminal record and provides for the deportation of alien residents if convicted of a serious crime (i.e. one resulting in a 5-year prison sentence or more). Criminal intent, he added, "is impossible to determine if the country of origin does not keep or provide dossiers on each migrant - and most don't."

Some 12,000 resident aliens were deported from Argentina between 2004 and 2015; another 14,000 are denied entry annually.

"Just like Trump's government, Macri is criminalizing immigration through executive orders that modify national laws and international commitments," said Argentine activist Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his defense of human rights during Argentina's military dictatorship.

"Circumventing Congress, they are committing a clear violation of human rights in the name of security when security problems can and should be solved respecting our constitution and increasing our rights, not reducing them," he said.

At: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/argentina-toughens-immigration-law-fast-tracks-deportations-45150813

Senate confirms dangerous Christian extremist as CIA Director

Earlier today, the U.S. Senate confirmed Representative Mike Pompeo as the new head of the powerful Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The new head of the CIA, however, is a dangerous Christian extremist who believes the U.S. is at war with Islam.

Pompeo, a Kansas Republican and prominent member of the House Intelligence Committee, is a radical Christian extremist and a sharp critic of Islam who endorses the notion of a “Holy War” between Christians and Muslims, and believes the fight against terrorism is a war between Islam and Christianity.

The Washington Post reports Pompeo “is known as one of the more fanatical purveyors of conspiracy theories.” For example, previously Pompeo suggested President Obama might have an “affinity for radical Islam.”

Speaking at a church group in Wichita, Kansas, in 2014, Pompeo claimed that Christianity was the “only solution” to combat terrorism, arguing that the greatest “threat to America” is caused by “people who deeply believe that Islam is the way.”

Cosmopolitan reports that Pompeo’s past comments concerning Muslims have drawn sharp criticism. For example, in the months after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, Pompeo took to the House floor to call on Muslim leaders to denounce acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam, declaring that “the silence of Muslim leaders has been deafening” and that they were “potentially complicit” in those attacks.

In another anti-Muslim incident earlier this year, Pompeo, using veiled threats and intimidation tactics, forced a mosque located in Kansas to cancel an appearance by a prominent Muslim leader.

Writing for Slate, Michelle Goldberg notes:

Amid the fire hose of lunacy that is the Trump transition, however, Pompeo’s extremism has been overlooked. It’s worth pausing to appreciate the fact that America’s CIA will shortly be run by a man who appears to view American foreign policy as a vehicle for holy war.

At: http://www.globalresearch.ca/senate-confirms-dangerous-christian-extremist-as-cia-director/5570756

Wiretap on former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner leaked in "homegrown Watergate"

Argentine President Mauricio Macri has come under fire for allegedly ordering the leak of a private telephone conversation held last July between former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) Director during her last two years in office, Oscar Parrilli.

The July 11 recording, leaked to the press yesterday, was part of a three-month long wiretap and included a line that prompted a new criminal complaint against Mrs. Kirchner for “abuse of authority” by Guillermo Marijuán, a prosecutor allied with the right-wing Macri administration.

Marijuán's charges stem from a vaguely-worded conversation about former counterintelligence boss Antonio “Jaime” Stiusso, in which Mrs. Kirchner asks Parrilli to “start gathering information on all the cases we put together against him. I mean, not put together but accused him of.”

Stiusso, who was dismissed by former President Kirchner in December 2014 as part of an agency-wide overhaul, has been linked to contraband pharmaceuticals and most notably to the mysterious, January 18, 2015, death of Alberto Nisman, chief prosecutor in the case of the 1994 AMIA Jewish mutual society bombing - which killed 85 and according to victim's rights groups has never been properly investigated.

It was Stiusso who, shortly after being dismissed, persuaded Nisman to dismiss his 10-man security detail days before his death by a gunshot to the head.

Mafia-like message

Parrilli accused Macri, current AFI Director Gustavo Arribas, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti of “illegal political espionage against the ex-President.” The leak, he added, was “a thinly veiled, mafia-like message to the opposition.”

The leak of the 7 month-old conversation comes days after Arribas was found to have collected $600,000 in Swiss bank account payouts from an Odebrect account found by Brazilian prosecutors to be solely used for distributing bribes.

Mrs. Kirchner's lawyer, Carlos Beraldi, pledged legal action, describing the leak as “a ploy with criminal characteristics and a clear infringement of Article 53 of the Criminal Code, which outlines specific circumstances in which a person’s voice or image can be reproduced without their consent.”

Homegrown Watergate

The wiretap was authorized in June by Judge Ariel Lijo as part of a separate investigation into Parrilli for the alleged cover-up of information that later led to the arrest of a fugitive, Ibar Pérez Corradi. The case stemmed from allegations made by right-wing Congresswoman Elisa Carrió during the 2015 campaign regarding purported links to Pérez Corradi, chief suspect in the murder of three amphetamine dealers in 2008.

The Pérez Corradi case backfired in November when he testified instead that a pro-Macri judge, Sandra Arroyo Salgado, had engaged in extortion, and that a key Macri ally, Senator Ernesto Sanz, had received $200,000 in payouts to derail a case involving the recreational ephedrine trade (which peaked in Argentina in 2009, and declined after import restrictions for its raw materials were enacted).

Parrilli described the phone surveillance as evidence of the “real Macri,” and made reference to the fact that Macri had already been indicted in 2009 for illegally wiretapping his ex-brother in law, sister, competitors of his father's (a top public contractor), as well as AMIA bombing survivors who were critical of both the official story and of Nisman's handling of the case in particular.

The AFI, under Macri, was caught in October spying on numerous critical journalists and even on allies such as Congresswoman Carrió.

“This scandalous political espionage against former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, without doubt the principal political leader of the opposition, is being carried out under the express orders of President Macri. And it clearly reveals that all of the opposition of being spied on.”

“We are,” he concluded, “experiencing a kind of homegrown Watergate.”

At: http://www.thebubble.com/parrilli-and-cfk-both-claim-to-be-victims-of-scandalous-political-espionage/

UK Government covered up failed nuclear missile test off coast of US

Labour former Defence Minister Kevan Jones demanded an inquiry into Sunday Times claims that the launch of an unarmed Trident II D5 missile from a British submarine off the coast of Florida in June malfunctioned.

The newspaper said the cause of the failure remained top secret but questions could be asked over the Government’s failure to publicise the failed test weeks before MPs approved the £40 billion Trident renewal programme in July.

Previous tests have been publicised by the Government. Prime Minister Theresa May today dodged a question about it, instead releasing an official statement:

‘‘In June the Royal Navy conducted a routine unarmed Trident missile test launch from HMS Vengeance, as part of an operation which is designed to certify the submarine and its crew. Vengeance and her crew were successfully tested and certified, allowing Vengeance to return into service. We have absolute confidence in our independent nuclear deterrent.

We do not provide further details on submarine operations for obvious national security reasons.’’

At: http://metro.co.uk/2017/01/22/uk-government-covered-up-failed-nuclear-missile-test-off-coast-of-us-6397719/

Workers at Argentina's largest media group rally to save 380 jobs from outsourcing.

An estimated 380 print workers at the Rioplatense Graphic Arts (AGR) plant in Buenos Aires organized a cultural festival as part of a series of protests that began after they were locked out of their jobs this week by its parent company, the Clarín Group.

The employees, who occupied the plant on Monday, were violently - but unsuccessfully - repressed by the Federal Police on Tuesday and Wednesday; numerous workers were injured with rubber bullets, including some to the head. Print Workers Union (FGB) delegate Pablo Viñas described the police offensive as "an ambush ordered while we were meeting at the Labor Ministry's Bureau of Labor Relations."

Police were later revealed to be spying on the workers occupying the plant from news vans supplied by the Clarín Group itself.

Viñas blamed Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, part of the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration, for these actions, pointing out that she had been informed of the decision to shutter the plant before the employees themselves were locked out on Monday morning.

The dispute intensified further on Thursday after the Labor Ministry refused to grant a compulsory conciliation order despite Argentine labor law provisions that require it in cases where an employer, save for bankruptcies, is shedding 15% of its work force or more. The Clarín Group, moreover, owes AGR employees two weeks' back pay.

Representatives of the Clarín Group, Argentina's largest media conglomerate, stated that the plant, which produces books and special publications for the group, was being closed in response to growing losses, which reached 118 million pesos ($8 million) in the first nine months of 2016.

Viñas, however, believes the media group seeks to replace the 380 union jobs at the plant with unregistered workers at far lower wages and without the social security and health insurance costs a unionized workforce implies.

The Clarín Group, which controls nearly half the media and cable market in Argentina as well as a fourth of its broadband, reported a net income of $330 million on $3 billion in sales during 2015 and remained similarly profitable in 2016 despite a sharp recession. The group benefited from a media market deregulation decree signed by President Macri days after taking office 13 months ago, as well as from an anti-trust waiver that allowed the group to acquire mobile phone carrier Nextel Argentina in June.

The group's media outlets were staunch supporters of Macri's 2015 bid for the presidency, which he narrowly won. One of Macri's most vocal critics, the 88-year-old leader of the human rights group Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Hebe de Bonafini, called for support for the AGR staff "because you might be next."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F15176-masiva-marcha-de-apoyo-a-los-despedidos-de-agr&edit-text=&act=url

Pope urges Trump to show concern for poor, be guided by ethical values

Source: Reuters

Pope Francis urged U.S. President Donald Trump to be guided by ethical values and as he took office on Friday, saying he must take care of the poor and the outcast during his time in office.

"At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide," Francis said in a message sent to Trump minutes after he was inaugurated.

"Under your leadership, may America's stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need," Francis said in the message released by the Vatican.

Francis, the first pope from Latin America, has made concern for the poor and the weakest members of society a key platform of his nearly four-year-old papacy.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-inauguration-pope-idUSKBN1542HG?il=0

Brazil Supreme Court judge handling graft probe killed in plane crash

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki was killed in a plane crash on Thursday, his son said, raising doubt over who will take over his blockbuster graft investigation into dozens of politicians.

Rescuers found three bodies in the wreckage of the small, twin-prop plane that crashed off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state amid heavy rains, according to firefighters.

Zavascki had been reviewing explosive testimony from dozens of executives at engineering group Odebrecht that has been expected to implicate hundreds of politicians in the biggest corruption case in Brazil's history.

The investigation led by Zavascki, involving at least 6.4 billion reais ($2.0 billion) in bribes for contracts with state-run enterprises, has led to the jailing of dozens of senior executives and threatens to batter the ruling coalition of President Michel Temer.

At: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-crash-idUSKBN1532WH?il=0

Originally posted by muriel volestrangler at: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10141671036

Italy sentences two former South American leaders to life in prison for Operation Condor murders

Source: Reuters

A Rome court on Tuesday handed down eight life sentences for the murder of 23 Italian citizens in a conspiracy, known as Operation Condor, in which South American dictatorships hunted down and killed thousands of dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s.

It is the first time an Italian court has ruled a conspiracy existed between the governments of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia to help find and assassinate each others' political opponents.

After a trial that lasted more than two years, lead judge Evelina Canale said eight men were convicted in absentia, including former Bolivian President Luis García Meza, now 87 and serving a 30-year prison sentence in Bolivia for crimes committed during his government, and former Peruvian President Francisco Morales Bermúdez, now 95.

"It's clear that this conviction confirms that Operation Condor existed and that it was a criminal conspiracy," Prosecutor Tiziana Cugini told Reuters after the ruling.

Operation Condor, named after the broad-winged birds that inhabit the Andes, was a Cold War era campaign by U.S.-backed right-wing dictatorships in South America that killed scores of left-leaning opponents between 1975 and 1984.

Last year an Argentine court found 15 ex-military officials guilty of conspiring to kidnap and assassinate dissidents in Operation Condor, including former dictator Reynaldo Bignone, 89, who was given a 20-year sentence.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-murder-condor-idUSKBN1512XR
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