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Member since: Mon Dec 5, 2016, 02:46 AM
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Trump Administration asks Jimmy Carter to avoid North Korea rapprochement

The Trump administration has privately asked Jimmy Carter, the former U.S. president who has served as an envoy between Washington and Pyongyang, not to attempt "rapprochement" that could interfere with ongoing efforts to put pressure on Kim Jong Un's regime, the Financial Times reports.

Senior state department official Brian Hook personally made the request to Carter last weekend at his home in Georgia, the report said.

The request to Carter signaled concern that the former president could complicate U.S. strategy towards Pyongyang. Carter has in the past forced administrations to change its stance, including in 1994 when Bill Clinton was considering launching a military strike against North Korea.

At: https://www.thestreet.com/story/14108048/1/trump-administration-asks-jimmy-carter-to-avoid-north-korea-rapprochement.html

Of course they did. Cheeto has been binge buying defense stocks, and doesn't want anyone getting in the way of a war - least of someone with a proven track record in diplomacy.

Trump vetoes Carter tribute in Argentina

Argentine President Mauricio Macri reverted a decision to award former U.S. President Jimmy Carter the Order of the Liberator General San Martín — the maximum distinction the country can give to a foreign personality.

The reversal followed pressure from President Donald Trump’s administration, CNN reported this week.

The official tribute, which had already been published in the foreign ministry's Official Gazette, was cancelled after receiving a specific request by the U.S. government, which suggested it would be better to delay it.

Carter was to be given the award for his work in promoting human rights during Argentina’s last military dictatorship, in power between 1976 and 1983.

After being informed about the decision, the Argentine Foreign Ministry again requested that President Macri give the award in spite of Trump’s opposition since it had already been made official, according to an anonymous foreign ministry official consulted by CNN’s David Cox.

Former Argentine Ambassador to the United States Martín Lousteau, had proposed awarding Carter the honor. Lousteau resigned on April 3 following controversy over a proposed $2 billion U.S. arms purchase requested by the Macri administration without Argentine congressional approval.

President Carter, who made human rights a centerpiece of his foreign policy, actively pressed the Argentine dictatorship at the time to cease its policy of forced disappearances - which according to an official, 1984 report slowed from 3,600 in 1976 to just 46 in 1980.

"Jimmy Carter," the Buenos Aires Herald noted during his first visit to Buenos Aires in 1984, "did more than any group anywhere for the cause of human rights in Argentina."

Carter has been widely lauded for his decision to create an Under-Secretary for Human Rights at the State Department (led by the late Patricia Derian), for the creation of the Carter Center in 1982, and his efforts in the defense of human rights and democracies throughout Latin America and elsewhere.

At: http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/225424/trump-vetoes-carter-tribute-

House will not vote on Affordable Care Act rewrite, smoothing way for government to stay open

Source: Washington Post

Despite pressure from the White House, House GOP leaders determined Thursday night that they don’t have the votes to pass a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act and will not seek to put their proposal on the floor on Friday.

A late push to act on health care had threatened the bipartisan deal to keep the government open for one week while lawmakers crafted a longer-term spending deal. Now, lawmakers are likely to approve the spending bill when it comes to the floor Friday and keep the government open past midnight.

The failure of GOP leaders to summon enough support for a renewed health-care push is evidence of just how difficult it is to overhaul Obamacare, despite seven years of GOP promises to repeal and replace the 2010 law. Conservatives and moderates have repeatedly clashed over what legislation should look like, most sharply over bringing down insurance premiums in exchange for sharply limiting what kind of coverage is required to be offered.

Up to 15 or so House Republicans have publicly said they would not support the latest draft of the measure, leaving House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and the White House an incredibly narrow path to a simple majority. If all 238 Republicans are present for a vote, Ryan can lose only 22 Republicans and still pass the bill with the barest of majorities.

GOP leaders’ failure to secure a health-care deal will help ensure the government stays open past midnight on Friday — at least for one week.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/house-republicans-introduce-one-week-spending-bill-to-continue-budget-talks/2017/04/27/5157abee-2b3a-11e7-b605-33413c691853_story.html?utm_term=.57d7d701e21b

IRS, postal inspectors raid Benny Hinn Ministries

Source: CBS

Federal agents descended on the North Texas headquarters of television evangelist Benny Hinn and took boxes out of the offices.

The search began about 9 a.m. Wednesday at Hinn’s headquarters in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Grapevine, near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. According to Hinn’s website, he was in Paris.

Lisa Slimak, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas, said she was unable to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation. A message sent to Bennie Hinn Ministries went unanswered.

Hinn was one of six television evangelists investigated by the Senate Finance Committee in 2007. Three years later, the six were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Read more: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2017/04/26/irs-postal-inspectors-raid-benny-hinn-ministries/


I see a sweet old lady in pain; I see her parting with her money.[/center]

Trump, Argentine President Macri hold White House talks

President Donald Trump has welcomed Argentine President Mauricio Macri to the White House for talks.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump greeted Macri and his wife, Juliana Awada, at the South Lawn entrance of the White House.

The White House said when it announced Thursday's visit that the leaders would discuss how to deepen relations between their countries. Trump and Macri are also expected to confer on a range of bilateral and regional issues, including trade, security and Venezuela's deteriorating political situation.

Foreign trade, particularly lemons and biodiesel, may also be discussed. The Trump administration recently postponed a decision by former President Barack Obama to lift a 16-year ban on imports of Argentine lemons.

The U.S. has historically run trade surpluses with Argentina, with a $4 billion merchandise surplus in 2016 and another $5 billion surplus in services.

Macri had earlier visited Houston, where he addressed a meeting of oil executives. The visit stirred controversy in Argentina when, later yesterday, he presided over the opening of a new steel tube plant built in Houston by Argentine-based Tenaris - which has recently laid off 200 of its 3,000 workers in Argentina amid the deepest downturn there since the 2002 crisis.

Trump and Macri enjoy a personal relationship dating from a 1984 Manhattan real estate deal that Macri hopes to leverage to boost relations.

At: http://www.wokv.com/news/trump-argentine-president-macri-hold-white-house-talks/x2mhUeaIB1uXlRiYWsOUvK/

Buenos Aires Police chief arrested on charges of running extortion ring

The Buenos Aires Police Commissioner General, José Potocar, was ordered arrested today by Municipal Pre-Trial Court Judge Ricardo Farías on charges of running an extortion ring that allegedly targeted local businesses as well as juvenile delinquents for protection money.

Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta had suspended Potocar and several officers in Station 31, located in the city's northside, on Saturday after City Prosecutor José María Campagnoli had requested a warrant for their arrest after former Commissioner Marcelo Stefanetti, arrested earlier on the same charges, pointed to them as the leaders of the extortion ring in sworn testimony.

Potocar denies the charges. Station 31 Commissioner Norberto Villareal failed to appear in court and remains at large.

Potocar, 58, was appointed less than four months ago. He was the first police chief named after President Mauricio Macri issued a decree last year subsuming the Federal Police, which been under federal purview since 1880, into the Metropolitan Police created by Macri during his tenure as mayor in 2008. The two forces were merged into a new City Police in November, and Potocar was sworn in January 1.

The extortion ring, according to Stefanetti's testimony, began when Potocar was in charge of the General Directorate of Police Stations (DGC). The ring operated out of two police stations in the upscale Núñez and Saavedra wards, and was allegedly used to extract monthly payouts from area businesses of between 1,500 and 3,500 pesos ($100 to $230) in the form of donations to the “Friends of the Police Station 31 Association.”

The ring also gleaned around 500 pesos ($30) periodically from trapitos - juvenile delinquents known for demanding money to "protect" parked vehicles (particularly near nightclubs). Potocar had made a public show out of stamping out the illegal practice during his brief tenure.

The city government, and Security Secretary Marcelo D’Alessandro in particular, came under fire for waiting until this weekend - and only after Campagnoli's warrant - to suspend Potocar and the officers involved, given that the investigation had begun months earlier. Their decision to put the officers on administrative leave was also questioned.

This was not the first police chief to be ousted for improprieties since Macri's right-wing PRO took control of the city government in 2007.

The first Metropolitan Police chief, Jorge "Fino" Palacios, was dismissed and arrested in 2009 after just two months after evidence surfaced of warrantless wiretapping and of politically-motivated searches of homes and businesses belonging to opposition officials as well as victims' rights advocates for survivors of the 1994 AMIA Jewish mutual society bombing. He was already under indictment for obstruction of justice related to the botched investigation of the bombing, which killed 86 and remains unsolved.

Macri, who was found to have ordered the wiretapping and searches, was himself indicted; but the case remained stalled in the courts and charges were dismissed within days after he took office as president 16 months ago.

At: http://www.thebubble.com/buenos-aires-police-chief-in-custody-on-corruption-charges/


Sheriff Shakedown? Commissioner José Potocar. [center/]

Home of prominent Argentine opposition figure attacked by Macri supporters

The governor of the Argentine Province of Santa Cruz, Alicia Kirchner, was the target of a violent attack on her home yesterday. The attack took place during a personal visit by the governor's sister-in-law, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The incident occurred shortly after midnight on Saturday when a group of supporters of President Mauricio Macri, holding signs with racial epithets common to right-wing protests during Cristina Kirchner's 2007-15 tenure as president, forced open the main gate to the governor's residence.

Once inside, the group ransacked the front yard, pelted the residence with rocks and human feces, and destroyed the gas meter. Cristina and Alicia Kirchner, who were alone in the house with three housekeepers and Cristina Kirchner's 18-month old grand-daughter, were able to keep the group from battering the front door open by piling furniture against the door.

A Gendarmerie unit arrived at the scene around 1 a.m. to disperse the group, which left only after tear gas and rubber bullets were fired. Two protesters were injured by rubber bullets, as well as an ambulance driver and a news photographer who were injured by rocks thrown by protesters.

The group had joined a larger protest of some 500 members of the Santa Cruz chapter of the Argentine State Employees' Union (ATE), which did not take part in the attack and later repudiated it as well as the police response.

"This attack was planned," Governor Alicia Kirchner said. "It was instigated by right-wing media and politicians such as Congressman Eduardo Costa (a Macri ally). They want my head for the upcoming mid-term elections."

Former President Fernández de Kirchner held the Macri administration responsible for the protests that preceded the attack. She noted that since Macri took office, federal revenue sharing for Santa Cruz Province has declined by 85% even as revenue sharing for the City of Buenos Aires (Macri's stronghold) rose, by decree, by 168% in 2016 alone.

"They even canceled a large hydroelectric project being built jointly with China," she added. "This was important not only for Santa Cruz but for the whole country."

Santa Cruz, a scenic but nearly desolate province in Argentina's windswept Patagonia, is among the most prosperous in the nation but has been hard-hit by the slump in world oil and gas prices since 2014. Its finances are also saddled by a public sector workforce of some 86,000 employees - for a population of 320,000.

Governor Kirchner, who has frozen hiring but so far has avoided layoffs, has announced a $350 million bond issue to cover this year's deficit and to cover March paychecks owed to some 30% of state employees. The Macri administration, however, so far refuses to approve the issuance despite approving over $7 billion in provincial bonds during 2016; Santa Cruz was not among them.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Falicia-kirchner-conto-como-fue-el-ataque-su-vivienda-santa-cruz-n28060&edit-text=


Santa Cruz Governor Alicia Kirchner[/center]

Former Madrid boss Ignacio Gonzalez, close ally of Argentina's Macri, arrested on corruption charge

The former president of the Community of Madrid, Ignacio González, was arraigned on Friday following his arrest on charges of illegally diverted public funds into the coffers of his own political party, the right-wing Partido Popular (PP), as well as into his own accounts.

The Spanish Guardia Civil arrested González on Wednesday as part of Operation Lezo - an investigation into González's use of a cutout, the Obrascón Huarte Lain company, to embezzle and launder said funds for both illegal campaign finance and personal gain during his tenure as president of the Community of Madrid between 2012 and 2015.

The investigation, triggered by allegations that unlawful commissions were paid for awarding a contract to build a railway between two towns near Madrid that was ultimately never built, has been compared locally to the massive Brazilian Lava Jato (Car Wash) bribery scandal.

González, according to the leading Madrid news daily El País, "is considered the alleged leader of a plot that for years diverted public funds for personal enrichment."

Argentine connection

Among the largest contracts being investigated is the 2014 sale of 73 CAF Series 6000 wagons to the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, for use in its subways. The purchase, worth €32.6 million (nearly $40 million at the time), was made by then-Mayor Mauricio Macri, whom González considered a close ally and who in 2015 was narrowly elected president of Argentina.

The wagons, used by the Madrid Metro since 1998, were quickly found to be obsolete however, and forced the Argentine federal government to purchase a number of new, Chinese-made wagons instead - at a unit cost below that of the 16 year-old wagons.

The Spanish units, moreover, required over $30 million to be adapted to the Buenos Aires metro's relatively wide gauge as well as to differences in electrical systems. A third of these have not yet been incorporated to the rolling stock; some have instead been used for explosives tests.

Macri's policy of privatizing city services and unprecedented use of subcontractors have prompted numerous investigations over the past five years, though all remain stalled in the courts. Of particular concern to investigators have been the many contracts benefiting the Macri family firms IECSA and Creaurban, which together have received nearly $5 billion in state contracts since Macri took office as president 16 months ago.

Macri presided over a five-fold increase in Buenos Aires's municipal debt to $2.5 billion during his tenure as mayor from 2007 to 2015.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Fdetuvieron-madrid-un-aliado-macri-que-le-vendio-trenes-obsoletos-el-subte-n28031


Former Madrid boss Ignacio González: Hello, I must be going.[/center]

Amid police attacks and stalled wage talks, Argentine educators set up school in front of Congress

Representatives from Argentina's largest teachers' unions gathered in Buenos Aires' Congressional Plaza last week to protest both the federal government's refusal to enter into collective bargaining talks and over recent incidents involving police violence against educators and students.

While Argentina's teachers' unions have staged numerous protests against the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration or his chief surrogate, Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal, over the last two months, this protest made headlines for its novel approach: the raising of a mock school building facing Congress.

Leading the ceremony were Sonia Alesso of the Federation of Argentine Educators (CTERA); Roberto Baradel of the Buenos Aires Province Teachers' Union (SUTEBA); Eduardo López of the Union of Education Workers (UTE); Hugo Yasky of the CTA (the second largest labor federation in Argentina); and David Edwards of Education International.

The structure, assembled with metal poles and a canvas shell painted to resemble the hundreds of mission-style schools built during the populist Juan Perón administration in the 1940s and '50s, was inaugurated on Wednesday. It's also a nod to the White Tent Protest held by teachers' unions between 1997 and 1999 against cuts to education imposed at the time by the market-friendly Carlos Menem administration.

"Don't waste taxpayer money spying on us and sending provocateurs," Alesso said during the ceremony, referring to Macri. "We've sought dialogue for two months now; follow the law and let us protest in peace."

Education International's David Edwards, visiting from the U.S., called on teachers to not give up. "I know you'll win, and that you'll get a decent agreement."

Law and orders

The move comes just after a teachers' union protest at the same site was violently quelled on the night of April 9 by municipal police. City officials justified the action, which resulted in two teachers being detained without charges and numerous injuries, by describing the demonstration as "unauthorized."

CTERA union officials, however, disproved the claim by producing a letter dated April 7 informing authorities of the upcoming protest, and approved by the city the same day. "This was done on Macri's orders," CTA union official Francisco Nenna said. "We know this because city officials (led by a Macri ally) themselves said so."

Another close Macri ally, Jujuy Province Governor Gerardo Morales, came under fire on April 13 for illegally ordering provincial police to break up a previously authorized meeting of faculty and students at the University of Jujuy. Two students were detained - including student body leader Joaquín Quispe, who was held overnight without charges and beaten.

Talks refused

The nation's six teachers' unions, which together represent over 500,000 teachers, are demanding wage hikes of 30% for 2017. The demand comes after inflation doubled to 45% within a year after President Macri was narrowly elected in a November 2015 runoff.

Inflation so far this year, running at 35%, is twice the 17% hike in the federal education budget signed by Macri for FY2017.

While a number of provinces have reached agreements with their teachers' unions, classes in most of Argentina have been delayed for five weeks as talks remain deadlocked with numerous governors and the federal government refuses to intervene.

The Macri administration, which held successful collective bargaining talks last year resulting in a 35% raise, has rejected holding them this year.

The "Itinerant Public School," as its organizers call it, meanwhile continues to host seminars on educational policy, films, cultural events dramatizing the dispute, and even classes. Some 27,000 people visited the site in its first three days, many of them for screenings of a documentary on slain teachers' union organizer Carlos Fuentealba.

UTE leader Eduardo López explained that the structure will be dismantled on April 19, in accordance with city permits, and will then be taken on the road.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.clarin.com%2Fsociedad%2Fgremio-docente-inauguro-escuela-itinerante-fuertes-discursos-denuncias-gobierno_0_H1yv1bhae.html&edit-text=

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Fpor-que-es-ilegal-que-ingrese-la-policia-las-universidades-nacionales-n27783


Panama Papers Wins Pulitzer Prize

Source: ICIJ

Columbia University announced today that the Panama Papers investigation has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

The Pulitzer Prize Board lauded year-long investigation for “using a collaboration of more than 300 reporters on six continents to expose the hidden infrastructure and global scale of offshore tax havens.”

The award is the latest in a series of accolades for the globe-spanning reporting effort by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), McClatchy, the Miami Herald, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and other media partners.

“This honor is a testament to the enterprise and teamwork of our staff and our partners here in the United States and around the world,” Gerard Ryle, ICIJ’s director, said. “We’re honored that the Pulitzer Board recognized the groundbreaking revelations and worldwide impact that the Panama Papers collaboration produced.”

The Panama Papers investigation exposed offshore companies linked to more than 140 politicians in more than 50 countries – including 14 current or former world leaders. It also uncovered offshore hideaways tied to mega-banks, corporate bribery scandals, drug kingpins, Syria’s air war on its own citizens and a network of people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin that shuffled as much as $2 billion around the world.

Five sitting heads of state or government - the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson; the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman Al-Saud; the President of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa Al-Nahyan; the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko; and the President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri - were also among those listed.

Read more: https://panamapapers.icij.org/20170410-pulitzer-prize.html
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