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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 12:36 PM
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Argentine Senate rejects historic abortion law

Source: Washington Post

Argentina’s Senate has rejected a bill to legalize elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The issue has divided the homeland of Pope Francis. Lawmakers debated for more than 15 hours and voted Thursday 31 in favor to 38 against.

Crowds of supporters and opponents of the measure braved the heavy rain to watch the debate on large screens set up outside Congress.

The lower house of Congress had already passed the measure and President Mauricio Macri had said that he would sign it.

Argentina now allows the procedure only in cases of rape or risks to a woman’s health.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/argentine-senate-debates-measure-to-legalize-abortion/2018/08/08/487dd6e2-9b6e-11e8-a8d8-9b4c13286d6b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d9472dc5058a

Senators gather for a marathon session over a bill legalizing abortion on demand up to the 14th week.

The bill, voted down at 2:30 this morning, was the eighth try for pro-choice advocates in Argentina since 1983.

Macri's right-wing "Let's Change" coalition voted largely against it, and opposition parties were unable to find unity.

Supporters vowed to bring the measure again after the 2019 elections, which Macri is expected to lose.

Facebook to Banks: Give Us Your Data, We'll Give You Our Users

The social-media giant has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking-account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users.

Facebook increasingly wants to be a platform where people buy and sell goods and services, besides connecting with friends.
The company over the past year asked JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and U.S. Bancorp to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger, people familiar with the matter said.

Facebook has talked about a feature that would show its users their checking-account balances, the people said. It has also pitched fraud alerts, some of the people said.

Data privacy is a sticking point in the banks’ conversations with Facebook, said people familiar with the matter. The talks are taking place as Facebook faces several investigations over its ties to political analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which accessed data on as many 87 million Facebook users without their consent.

One large U.S. bank pulled away from the talks due to privacy concerns, some of the people said.

At: https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-to-banks-give-us-your-data-well-give-you-our-users-1533564049

Former Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou sentenced to over 5 years, despite lack of evidence

Former Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou was sentenced today to 70 months in prison on influence peddling charges related to a 2010 bailout of a government printing contractor.

The court ordered his immediate detention - a departure from precedent allowing those found guilty on similar charges to remain free pending appeal.

Boudou was charged with “passive bribery and incompatible negotiations for a public official” related to the proposed 2010 federal bailout of Ciccone Calcográfica, the only private firm authorized to print currency and state-issued documents in Argentina.

Prosecutors alleged that Boudou authorized the bailout in exchange for a 70% share. No documents connecting Boudou to the firm, however, have emerged since the allegation was first made on a right-wing talk radio show on February 6, 2012.

The proposed bailout was rejected in 2011 and Ciccone, which owed a $60 million tax debt, was ultimately nationalized in 2013.

Boudou maintained his innocence, noting that no evidence existed to substantiate the charges - which were instead based on hearsay from co-defendant Alejandro Vandenbroele.

Vandenbroele, who had taken a plea bargain, nevertheless testified that Boudou had not taken part in the alleged buyout plan.

A question of revenge

Boudou believes the case was orchestrated for political reasons.

“This is a question of revenge. I was told I wouldn't be forgiven for nationalizating AFJPs (private pension funds),” he said before the verdict. “This administration has many former AFJP officials.”

Boudou, 55, had served as social security director, economy minister, and vice president for former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner - a leading political rival to current President Mauricio Macri.

Boudou's nationalization of insolvent AFJPs during the 2008 crisis was widely credited with saving the nation's retirement system.

Private pension schemes were introduced in Argentina in 1994 on advice of the IMF.

Though initially popular, AFJP accounts were subject to commissions of 30% to 54%. Many were fraudulently used to unload unwanted stock, and by 2008 the state subsidized 77% of beneficiaries at a cost to taxpayers of $3 billion annually.

Following Boudou's advice, in October 2008 Kirchner nationalized AFJPs, which were transferred to the ANSES social security agency.

AFJP managers vowed revenge at the time, promising that “this will cost them.”

Argentina's Federal Retirement Fund (FGS) tripled to $63 billion by the time Kirchner left office in late 2015.

Among the conditions recently agreed to by Macri with the IMF in exchange for a $50 billion bailout, is the sale of FGS assets.

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%2F133653-los-metodos-no-importan&edit-text=

Unforgiven: Former Vice President Amado Boudou, who oversaw the successful nationalization of insolvent private pension funds in 2008, was promised it would “cost” him.

Court lifts intervention order against leading Argentine opposition party

A National Electoral Chamber court in Argentina voided an intervention ordered four months ago against the country's leading opposition party, the Justicialist Party (PJ).

The ruling thus restores the party's legitimate leadership, which had been elected in a 2016 convention but removed by a court order issued on April 10.

The April 10 intervention order was widely seen as being made at the behest of President Mauricio Macri, who polls show losing his reelection bid next year to any of a number of potential PJ nominees.

"We've been saying all along that the government's hand was behind this," Congressman José Luis Gioja, the party's president, said shorty after today's ruling was announced. "Justice has been done."

Gioja's suspicion appeared to be confirmed by the court's naming of union boss Luis Barrionuevo, a staunch Macri supporter who's no longer affiliated with the PJ, as interim head.

The judges issuing today's ruling, Alberto Dalla Vía and Santiago Corcuera, condemned Judge María Servini de Cubría's April 10 ruling as "political" in nature. The prosecutor who brought Gioja's case before the court, Jorge di Lello, considered her ruling "capricious and arbitrary."

Servini de Cubría herself admitted in an interview last year that under Macri "pressure on judges has been unprecedented." She has sat on the federal bench since 1975.

No one to spare

Gioja, 68, called on the party's diverse and often conflicting factions to "work hard to unite the party."

The Justicialist Party - so named for its social justice platform - was founded in 1945 as the Labor Party by the late populist leader Juan Perón, and has long been beset by deep divisions between its left and right wings.

"Personal ambitions must be set aside if we are to achieve our common goal: ensuring Macri will no longer rule Argentina as of December of next year," Gioja reminded supporters. "We can't spare anybody."

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%2F132523-el-final-de-la-intervencion-del-pj&edit-text=

José Luis Gioja (center), president of the Justicialist Party (PJ), and fellow PJ leaders celebrate today's ruling restoring the party's legitimate authorities.

The ruling voided an earlier order imposing a Macri backer as head.

Buenos Aires theater attacked by security forces

A downtown Buenos Aires theater was assaulted during the premiere of a documentary critical of Argentine President Mauricio Macri last night. There was at least one reported injury.

Assailants appeared at the ND Ateneo Theater at 8:06 last night, destroying the theater's glass entrance with cobbles in a brief attack.

Photographs identified at least one of the attackers as a female police officer. Another assailant can be seen fleeing on foot, while a police motorcycle trails closely but quickly turns away.

Former Security Secretary Sergio Berni, who managed to apprehend and photograph one of the attackers, a woman, before she fled, suffered a cut above the eye from flying glass.

"I and others saw a Gendarmerie (miltarized police) truck go by, and a minute later, these people appear," Professor Ariel Garbarz told C5N News anchor Gustavo Sylvestre, who was at the scene.

A bomb threat was called in to C5N studios minutes later, forcing the channel, the only one covering the event, to temporarily suspend its broadcast.

A difficult path

The incident took place as attendees gathered for the premiere of El camino de Santiago (Santiago's Path), a documentary dealing with the disappearance of artist and activist Santiago Maldonado exactly one year earlier.

Maldonado disappeared during an August 1, 2017, Gendarmerie attack on an indigenous Mapuche protest camp in Argentina's remote Patagonia region.

Initial claims by Security Minister Patricia Bullrich that officers were responding to gunfire were proven false by cell phone footage, which instead only showed Gendarmerie firing.

His body was ultimately found on the banks of the Chubut River 78 days later. It was found 1,300 feet upstream, and with an early state of decomposition that led some forensic experts to conclude that it had been in the water for no more than two weeks and was therefore likely planted.

"I can't understand why we have to endure things of this kind," the victim's brother, Sergio Maldonado, said. "There is no way to investigate when the State investigates itself. They keep misdirecting and putting out false leads."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.infonews.com%2Fnota%2F317407%2Fservicios-en-accion-una-policia-que-reprimio&edit-text=

The theater entrance at the moment of the attack. The woman smashing the glass door at right was later identified as a police officer.

A similar tactic was shown to be used - but never prosecuted - during incidents at an otherwise peaceful demonstration on behalf of Maldonado last September.

Japan vows to rescue journalist believed held in Syria

Source: Washington Post

Japan’s government said Wednesday it’s doing its utmost for the rescue of a Japanese journalist believed to be held in Syria after a video of a man appearing to be him was posted on the internet.

Freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda was last heard from in Syria in June 2015.

The man in the video released Tuesday said he was in harsh environment and needed an immediate rescue. The bearded man spoke in Japanese but said he’s Korean named “Umaru.” He cited the date as July 25, 2018, in the 20-second footage apparently filmed outdoors.

His most recent trip to Syria was in 2015 to report on his journalist friend Kenji Goto, who was taken hostage and killed by the Islamic State group.

Contact was lost with Yasuda after a message to another Japanese freelancer on June 23, 2015.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/japan-vows-to-rescue-journalist-believed-held-in-syria/2018/08/01/d7b3878c-954a-11e8-818b-e9b7348cd87d_story.html?utm_term=.bd4d9108cad6

Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda and "rebel" captors.

Film, vigil mark anniversary of Argentine activist Santiago Maldonado's disappearance

The one-year anniversary of the disappearance of artist and Indigenous rights supporter Santiago Maldonado is being marked today by a vigil in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo square, and by the premiere of a documentary film dealing with the case.

The film, El camino de Santiago (Santiago's Path), was directed by Tristán Bauer and written by Omar Quiroga and Florencia Kirchner, the daughter of former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

A death in Patagonia

Maldonado, then a 28 year-old tattoo artist and muralist, had arrived on July 31, 2017, at the site of a protest camp near Epuyén, Chubut Province, in Argentina's windswept Patagonia region.

The camp had been organized by members of the Mapuche people to demand the release of a jailed leader and the return of ancestral lands claimed by the Mapuche but owned by the Italian firm Benetton and British investor Joe Lewis - a personal friend of President Mauricio Macri.

The protest camp was assaulted on August 1 by a National Gendarmerie (militarized police) detachment, acting without a court order. Witnesses stated seeing police beat and detain several fleeing protesters - including Maldonado, who was never seen alive again.

Police never confirmed the arrest, and denied wrongdoing - but human rights groups have accused Macri of being part of a cover-up.

Security Minister Patricia Bullrich's initial claims that no shots were fired were contradicted by cell phone footage. Her assertions that Maldonado was "hiding in Chile" were likewise later disproven by cell phone data presented by Chile's then-President Michelle Bachelet.

Bullrich's chief adviser, Pablo Noceti, was photographed near the scene and according to witnesses personally supervised the crackdown. Noceti and the chief suspect in the death, Gendarmerie officer Emmanuel Echazú, were later promoted.

A subsequent Mapuche protest on November 25 resulted in the death of 22 year-old Rafael Nahuel, who was shot in the back by the same forces.

Mystery upstream

Maldonado's body was ultimately found after 78 days on October 17 floating on the banks of the Chubut River - but around 1,300 feet upstream of the site of the incident.

His being found that far upstream has led his family and rights groups to suspect his body may have been planted.

Argentine forensic expert Enrique Prueger published a study on July 26 that found that the body could not have been in the river for more than two weeks, rather than the "55 to 72 days" claimed in the official autopsy report.

Pollen found on Maldonado's jacket, according to analyst Leticia Povilauskas, appears to confirm Prueger's findings.

"It's very strange that the body was found where it was, when we've searched those same places and there was nothing," the victim's brother, Sergio Maldonado, pointed out at the time. "We want to know the truth."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.infobae.com%2Fsociedad%2F2018%2F07%2F25%2Fse-estrena-el-camino-de-santiago-un-documental-sobre-el-caso-maldonado-que-exige-respuestas-al-estado%2F

Santiago Maldonado, 1989-2017.

His death garnered international attention, and put Macri's use of force to quash dissent on the defensive.

Collusion is not a crime? Not so fast.

Like some legal zombie that can’t be killed, the argument that “collusion is not a crime” is back and walks among us. And it’s still nonsense.

There were reports last week that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen would testify, contrary to repeated White House denials, that President Trump knew of and approved the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, when Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and other campaign officials met with Russians offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Faced with this new evidence of what looks remarkably like colluding with the Russians, the president’s defense has returned to the claim that any such collusion, even if it happened, would not be a crime.

It’s true there is no crime called “collusion.” It’s also irrelevant. What matters in criminal law is the facts, not the precise terms used to describe what happened.

Saying the president is off the hook because there is no crime called “collusion” is akin to claiming the president could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and escape prosecution because the criminal statutes prohibit “homicide” not “shooting.”

Collusion is generally defined as a secret agreement to work together towards some illicit end. As I pointed out more than a year ago when this argument first surfaced, in criminal law this describes a potential conspiracy.

A criminal conspiracy exists when two or more people form an agreement to pursue an unlawful goal and at least one of them takes some action in furtherance of that agreement. The federal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. 371, prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States and conspiracies to commit an offense against the United States.

Both charges are potentially relevant here — and Mueller has already deployed both.

At: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/collusion-is-not-a-crime-not-so-fast/2018/07/31/fc8d20ba-94f3-11e8-a679-b09212fb69c2_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e814cac44707

Surprise, Rudy: "Collusion" may not be a crime in so many words - but conspiracy is.
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