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Bolivian leader Evo Morales steps down

President Evo Morales, who came to power in Bolivia in 2006 as part of a leftist wave sweeping Latin America, resigned on Sunday after unrelenting protests by an infuriated population that accused him of undermining democracy by clinging to office.

Morales was once widely popular, and stayed in the presidency longer than any other current head of state in Latin America.

Morales, 60, was the first Indigenous president in a country that had been led by a tiny elite of European descent for centuries, and he shepherded Bolivia through an era of economic growth and shrinking inequality, winning support from Bolivians who saw him as their first true representative in the capital.

But his reluctance to give up power — first bending the country’s laws to stand for a fourth election, then insisting that he won despite widespread concerns about fraud — left him besieged by protests, abandoned by allies and unable to count on the police and the armed forces, which sided with the protesters and demanded he resign.

Carlos Mesa, the former president who came in second in the disputed election, has said that the country’s political parties should come together and organize a new vote.

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/10/world/americas/evo-morales-bolivia.html

Bolivian President Evo Morales (right) and Vice President Alvaro García Linera, both of whom resigned at 5:00 p.m. local time today.

Morales had conceded to calling new elections before today's military coup.

Brazil's former President Lula da Silva walks free from prison after supreme court ruling

Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva has been released from prison in the city of Curitiba where he was serving a 12-year corruption sentence, after a supreme court ruling which delighted his supporters and infuriated followers of the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula, 74, was incarcerated in April 2018 after a sentence for corruption and money laundering handed down by the controversial judge Sérgio Moro was upheld by an appeal court.

On Thursday Brazil’s supreme court ruled that defendants could only be imprisoned after all appeals to higher courts had been exhausted, paving the way for Lula and another 5,000 prisoners to be freed.

The decision followed revelations published by the investigative website the Intercept Brasil showing Moro had colluded with prosecutors leading the sweeping graft investigation that imprisoned Lula.

Polls had showed that Lula was leading in last year’s presidential election, but the conviction removed him from the race, giving Bolsonaro a clear run.

At: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/08/lula-brazil-released-prison-supreme-court-ruling

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva walks among supporters after his release from prison at 5:45 p.m. local time today.

Arguably his country's most prominent political prisoner, he was freed pending appeal following a Brazilian Supreme Court ruling that restored the right of those convicted to await their appeals process in freedom.

His imprisonment 19 months ago paved the way for the election last year of far-right Jair Bolsonaro.

Convicted last year solely on testimony from a contractor kept in a rat-infested dungeon until he incriminated him, the UN considers his detention arbitrary.

The water is already low at a Florida freshwater spring - but Nestle wants more

In Florida, Nestlé is taking heat from environmental groups and others concerned about the future of one of the state's most endangered natural resources — its freshwater springs. Florida has more than a thousand freshwater springs, which provide drinking water, important natural habitat and places for recreation.

Nestlé wants to begin taking more than a million gallons of water each day from Ginnie Springs, a popular destination in north Florida for swimming, canoeing and tubing.

Nestlé and many other companies have bottled and sold Florida spring water for decades. For the past 20 years, Seven Springs, the company that owns the land around Ginnie Springs, has had a permit allowing it to take nearly 1.2 million gallons a day from its wells.

During that time, working with other water bottlers, the company never withdrew more than a quarter of that.

Nestlé now wants to increase the daily withdrawal to the full amount, a request that has set off alarm bells among environmental groups.

At: https://www.npr.org/2019/11/08/776776312/the-water-is-already-low-at-a-florida-freshwater-spring-but-nestl-wants-more

Vacationers enjoy the Santa Fe River near High Springs, Florida - a river sourced from Ginnie Springs.

Brazil's jailed ex-leader Lula da Silva could be freed following top court vote

Brazil's Supreme Court has voted to end mandatory imprisonment of convicted criminals after they lose their first appeal, restoring the previous rule that they should be allowed to exhaust all their appeal options before being locked up.

The politically charged re-interpretation of the country's penal code could lead to the release of dozens of high-profile convicts, including former leftist president Luiz "Lula" da Silva, jailed last year for alleged corruption.

By a 6-5 vote, the court overturned a three-year-old rule that contributed to the success of Brazil's biggest corruption investigation, the so-called Car Wash (Lava Jato) operation, led by former judge and current Justice Minister Sérgio Moro, that put dozens of company executives and politicians in jail for bribes and kickbacks.

Lula, 74, was jailed in April 2018 for an eight-year sentence after he was found guilty of taking bribes from engineering firms in return for government contracts, and money laundering.

Lacking material evidence, his conviction was based solely on testimony from jailed contractors.

The $700,000 apartment Lula was alleged to have received from a contractor by way of a bribe, was put on the market by its real owner in June.

What's App and Telegram messages obtained by The Intercept confirmed longstanding suspicions of political animus against Lula and his center-left Workers' Party (PT) by Moro and the chief prosecutor in the Car Wash case, Deltan Dallagnol.

His lawyers are expected to swiftly file for his release at the lower court that convicted him.

At: https://www.smh.com.au/world/south-america/brazil-s-jailed-ex-leader-lula-could-be-freed-following-top-court-vote-20191108-p538pj.html

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, arguably his country's most prominent political prisoner, during an interview on April 26 - the first he was allowed to give since his imprisonment a year earlier.

Today's Supreme Court ruling, which ruled the mandatory imprisonment of convicts on losing their first appeal unconstitutional, opens the door for Lula's release from prison - though the far-right Jair Bolsonaro regime is expected to disregard the ruling in his case.

Convicted last year solely on testimony from a contractor kept in a rat-infested dungeon until he incriminated him, the UN considers his detention arbitrary.

Democrat Andy Beshear has defeated GOP Gov. Matt Bevin in Kentucky, state official says

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, the son of the former governor, has beaten incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin after a bitter race, according to Kentucky's secretary of state.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes told CNN’s Chris Cuomo her office has called the race, and they do not believe the difference in the vote can be made up by Bevin. A recanvass could still be requested.

CNN has not yet made a projection in the race.

Bevin, a polarizing figure who had faced political struggles in his first term, had tied himself to President Trump in his campaign, in a state where Trump won by nearly 30 points.

The President went to Lexington to hold a rally for Bevin on the eve of the election.

At: https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/2019-election-results-kentucky-mississippi-virginia/h_32851865b8ded62734b80fec6ee23a20

Kentucky Governor-elect Andy Beshear addresses supporters in a victory speech moments ago.

Beshear's defeat of GOP stalwart Matt Bevin bodes ominuosly for President Donald Trump, who campaigned for Bevin and to whom the outgoing governor was a close ally.

Virginia Democrats take control of state legislature for first time in over two decades

Virginia Democrats continued their winning streak under President Trump on Tuesday and took full control of the statehouse for the first time in more than two decades.

Suburban voters turned out in big numbers to back Democratic candidates, continuing a trend of once GOP-friendly suburbs turning blue. This is the third election in a row in which Democrats made significant gains since Trump was elected.

“I’m here to officially declare today, November 5, 2019, that Virginia is officially blue,” Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam told a crowd of supporters in Richmond.

Tuesday’s election could help cement Democratic rule for the next decade, because the winners will decide who controls the next redistricting process.

At: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/democrats-capture-virginia-state-senate-first-time-years-house-grabs-n1077036?fbclid=IwAR14i2PyTaILLHGJm3re2v8c7pQ1IMG0FLPVMzy_jVTEhpTrtsWHzgT0uhs

Governor Ralph Northam (center) greets lawmakers on the floor of the House.

Tonight's victory for Democrats gves the party the first trifecta control over governance in the commonwealth since 1993 - and renewed impetus for stalled progressive legislation.

UN admonishes Argentina's Macri for judicial interference

Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, formally requested an explanation from Argentine President Mauricio Macri over evidence of persecution of judges and prosecutors seen as adversaries.

The note, addressed to Argentina's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, refers to a possible "systematic plan" against judicial officials.

Among the instances cited by the special envoy are:

» Political intervention in the Council of Magistrates, beginning with the illegal appointment of hard-line pro-Macri Congressman Pablo Tonelli in 2016.

Tonelli's appointment gave Macri an absolute majority in the powerful council, which then moved to remove numerous federal judges whom the administration saw as adversaries, while protecting judges who ruled against political rivals.

» The 2018 removal of numerous federal judges who had either recently ruled against jailing opponents or (in Carlos Rozanski's case) for refusing to furlough convicted tax cheat Leonardo Fariña, whom Fariña's own lawyer asserts to have perjured himself at Justice Minister Germán Garavano's behest against opponents.

Rozanski had been in the crosshairs of apologists of the country's last dictatorship - who largely support Macri - since his 2006 sentencing of former police inspector Miguel Etchecolatz for crimes against humanity.

» The removal of Chief Federal Prosecutor Alejandra Gils Carbó in 2017. Her replacement, Eduardo Casal, was named on an "interim" basis, thereby skirting Senate approval.

The UN affirms that the government pressured and threatened the stability of the Public Prosecutor's Office by way of campaigns orchestrated with right-wing dailies Clarín and La Nación - both staunch Macri allies.

Her removal drew comparisons to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's firing of that country's chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Díaz, weeks earlier.

» The illegal designation of Judge Juan Manuel Culotta as chief electoral court judge for Buenos Aires Province (the nation's largest).

Culotta, a high school friend of the president, oversaw the controversial vote count in the 2017 senate race in the province, which Macri's candidate narrowly won amid evidence of zeroed-out vote counts in numerous precincts for center-left rival Cristina Kirchner.

» The illegal designation in 2016 of federal judges Leopoldo Bruglia and Juan Carlos Mahiques.

Before his appointment, Mahiques - who belongs to the far-right Catholic sect Opus Dei - was best known for his judicial dissent in 2006 against a disabled teen who had sought an abortion after being raped by her uncle.

» The 2018 removal of Federal Prosecutor Juan Pedro Zoni amid his investigation of an unpaid $268 million debt by the Macri family's Socma conglomerate dating from their 1997-2003 management of the then-privatized Argentine Postal Service.

» The attack against Federal Judge Martina Forns, whose 2016 ruling forced Macri to submit massive increases in public service rates to public comment (as the law stipulates). Forns and other judges who ruled against the rate hikes were subjected to public intimidation and open calls for prosecution by Macri officials.

» The attack on Federal Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla, who oversees "d'Alessiogate" - the ongoing case of a wide-reaching extortion scheme involving Argentina's Federal Intelligence (AFI) and at least $12 million in ransom payments and false testimony coerced against political rivals.

The UN report noted that investigation generated a strongly negative reaction by the national government - including calls from Macri himself for the judge's removal.

These allegations were underscored by a federal probe launched on October 11 over documents showing extensive surveillance on federal judges and prosecutors - something the Association of Magistrates and National Judiciary Officials called "systematic illegalities."

Federal Judge María Servini de Cubría admitted in a 2017 interview that under Macri "pressure on judges has been unprecedented."

The dean of Argentine federal judges, she has sat on the bench since 1975 - a period including the last dictatorship.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Fnota%2Fpunto-por-punto-los-atropellos-a-la-justicia-en-el-gobierno-de-macri-segun-la-onu-201911411417

Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, President Mauricio Macri, and Justice Minister Germán Garavano in a 2018 press conference following the cancellation of two soccer championships due to hooligan violence.

All three are alleged to have instead used security and intelligence services to pressure judges and prosecutors - be they perceived allies or adversaries.

These cases are likely to figure more prominently next year, after Macri became the first president in Argentine history to lose re-election.
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