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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

Argentine political prisoner Milagro Sala marks one year of arbitrary detention

Argentine indigenous rights activist and Parlasur parliamentarian Milagro Sala today marks one year of arbitrary detention at the behest of Jujuy Province Governor Gerardo Morales, a close ally of the right-wing administration of President Mauricio Macri.

Her detention, which took place at her home without a court warrant on January 16, 2016, has been condemned by the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Pope Francis.

A press conference convened by the Committee for Freedom for Milagro Sala was held at the Buenos Aires offices of her co-operative, Tupac Amaru. Featured speakers included retired Supreme Court Justice Raúl Zaffaroni; Mothers of Plaza de Mayo - Founding Line leader Taty Almeida; the head of the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS, a leading Argentine human rights watchdog), Horacio Verbitsky; CTA labor federation leader Hugo Yasky; and the leader of the Suteba teachers' union, Roberto Baradel.

A popular cookout was also held in her honor in San Salvador de Jujuy, as well as events in cities nationwide.

The Sala case

Milagro Sala, 52, was arrested without a court warrant at her home in San Salvador de Jujuy on January 16, 2016, accused of "instigating" an protest camp in front of the Jujuy Government Palace, which lasted 52 days. The Provincial Prosecutor with jurisdiction in the area, Darío Osinaga, refused to order her arrest at the time, was later dismissed, and is now himself facing charges of "obstruction of justice, malfeasance, and abuse of authority."

Sala was ordered released for lack or charges on January 29. "But she was not released," CELS lawyers recalled, "because that day, a local judge was called back from holiday in order to approve a separate warrant accusing Sala of fraud, extortion, and conspiracy."

The judge (Gastón Mercau) is the son-in-law of a Morales appointee to the Provincial Supreme Court - which he expanded from five to nine members days before Sala's arrest. No evidence has been provided by the state for any of these charges, and no Habeas Corpus petitions filed by Sala's lawyer (Daniel Igolnikov) have been accepted by Jujuy courts.

Provincial authorities have pursued further charges against her based solely on testimony from two individuals who then received substantial benefits from Governor Morales - including an indigent man (René Arellano) who was awarded a public contract, and a convicted murderer (Jorge Paes) who was exonerated for a 2007 murder without a retrial or new evidence of any kind.

Sala remained in prison without sentencing until December 28, when she was issued a suspended sentence of three years based on this testimony. The charges stemmed from a 2009 egg-throwing incident against Morales.

Arbitrary detention

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled on October 21 that Sala's arrest was in fact arbitrary, and urged Macri to release her immediately. This request was echoed by the Secretary General of the OAS and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which declared on December 4 that her detention violates international rights of protest and speech.

Journalist Raúl Noro, Sala's husband, was himself detained for four months without charges after leading a protest calling for her release on July 14.

"The province of Jujuy," Sala said in an interview with the Buenos Aires news daily Tiempo Argentino, "is a laboratory to put a brake on the fight for rights throughout Argentina."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicargentina.com%2Fnotas%2F201701%2F18882-milagro-sala-cumple-un-ano-detenida.html&edit-text=&act=url

Agroecology booming in Argentina

Organic agriculture is rapidly expanding in Argentina, the leading agro-ecological producer in Latin America and second in the world after Australia, as part of a backlash against a model that has disappointed producers and is starting to worry consumers.

According to the intergovernmental Inter American Commission on Organic Agriculture (ICOA), in the Americas there are 9.9 million hectares (25 million acres) of certified organic crops, which is 22% of the total global land devoted to these crops. Of this total, 6.8 million ha (17 million ac) are in Latin America and the Caribbean, and three million (7.5 million ac) in Argentina alone.

The Argentine National Agricultural Health and Quality Service (SENASA) reported that between 2014 and 2015, the land area under organic production grew 10%, including herbs, vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and oilseeds. Legumes and vegetables experienced the largest increase (200%).

There are 1,074 organic producers in Argentina, mainly small and medium-size farms and cooperatives. These still represent only 0.5% of the total cultivated area, however.

Agricultural engineer Eduardo Cerdá, vice president of the Graduate Centre of the Agronomy School at the National University of La Plata (UNLP), said there is growing interest in agroecology. “In 10 years the area receiving specialized advice (in organic farming) grew from 600 to 12,500 hectares,” he noted, adding that he and his few colleagues are not able to meet the demand.

Cerdá attributes the interest to the disappointment in the current model based on agrochemicals, which he considers to be exhausted. Pesticide use in Argentina jumped by 60% in 2016 alone, according to the Agriculture Ministry - creating an increase in reported intoxication-related illness in farming communities but with no increase in yields.

For Cerdá, agro-ecology “is not an alternative but the agriculture of the near future.”

At: http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/12/agroecology-booming-in-argentina/
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