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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
September 20, 2017

There is meddling in Germany's election not by Russia, but by U.S. right wing

Source: USA Today

Less than a week before Sunday's vote that is likely to hand German Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term, evidence of anticipated Russian meddling has yet to materialize; but U.S. right-wing groups have interfered, according to German researchers.

"So far we have not been able to track down any specific Russian activity," said Simon Hegelich," a professor of political science data at the Technical University of Munich who has advised the German government about the threat of hacking and fake news.

Instead, Hegelich and others point to an alliance of mostly anonymous online trolls and extremist agitators who are disseminating right-wing materials through YouTube; messaging board sites like 4chan and reddit; and Gab.ai, a texting service.

"A lot of the stuff we are seeing in Germany can be linked to, or is at least inspired by, the 'alt-right' movement in the U.S.," Hegelich said, referring to a loosely defined group whose far-right ideology includes racism, populism and white nationalism.

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/09/20/meddling-germany-election-not-russia-but-u-s-right-wing/676142001/

September 20, 2017

65 Skulls Found in Mass Grave at Site of Gruesome War Crime

Source: Time

Forensic experts say they have retrieved the remains of at least 65 victims from a mass grave in central Bosnia, the site of one of the most gruesome crimes of the country’s 1992-95 war.

Lejla Cengic, from Bosnia’s Missing Persons Institute, said on Tuesday that remains including 65 skulls have been found since September 7 in the grave at the Koricanske Stijene cliff near Mount Vlasic. She says they’re believed to belong to some of the more than 220 non-Serb civilians executed there by Bosnian Serb forces on August 21, 1992.

Most of those killed were taken from Serb-run detention camps near Prijedor and told they were going for a prisoner exchange. Only a dozen men survived by falling or jumping down the ravine when the shooting started.

The exhumation work is continuing.

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/65-skulls-found-in-mass-grave-at-site-of-gruesome-war-crime/ar-AAsdIxD

September 18, 2017

Soviet soldier credited with averting nuclear war dies

Source: USA Today

A Soviet soldier credited with saving the world from nuclear holocaust has died at age 77.

Stanislav Petrov was the duty officer monitoring an early warning system from a bunker outside Moscow on Sept. 26, 1983, when the radar screen suddenly appeared to depict a missile inbound from the United States. “All my subordinates were confused, so I started shouting orders at them to avoid panic," Petrov told the Russian news agency RT in 2010. "I knew my decision would have a lot of consequences."

The alert siren wailed. A message on the bunker's main screen reported that four more missiles had been launched, he said. Petrov had 15 minutes to determine whether the threat was real and report to his commanders.

Petrov, thinking that any U.S. attack should have involved even more missiles to limit the chance of Soviet retaliation, told his Kremlin bosses the alert must have been caused by a malfunction. He persuaded Moscow not to shoot back. It was later determined that Russian satellites must have mistaken sunlight reflecting off clouds for nuclear missiles.

The incident remained classified for 15 years, before a Kremlin colonel publicly discussed the incident.

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/soviet-soldier-credited-with-averting-nuclear-war-dies/ar-AAs8jOr?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Stanislav Petrov, 1939-2017.
September 18, 2017

Trump lawyers spill beans, thanks to terrible choice of restaurant

Source: Washington Post

Sitting at the next table from Ty Cobb and John Dowd, lawyers for President Trump, according to the Times, was Kenneth Vogel, one of Washington’s most skillful investigative reporters. Vogel is a former reporter for Politico, which is based in Virginia, who arrived at the Times just in time for the Russia investigation and, as it turned out, just in time for lunch.

Vogel overheard the lawyers talking about White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II and Jared Kushner, president Trump’s son-in-law, as well as the infamous Trump Tower meeting. Here’s a sample from the article bearing the bylines of Vogel and Peter Baker:

Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy” and saying Mr. McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out …”

“The White House Counsel’s Office is being very conservative with this stuff,” Mr. Cobb told Mr. Dowd. “Our view is we’re not hiding anything.” Referring to Mr. McGahn, he added, “He’s got a couple documents locked in a safe.”

… Mr. Cobb also discussed the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting — and the White House’s response to it — saying that “there was no perception that there was an exchange.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/09/18/trump-lawyers-spill-beans-after-terrible-restaurant-choice-next-to-nyt/?utm_term=.09a24415547a
September 17, 2017

Six Argentines sentenced to life for 'Dirty War' role

Six former Argentine officers have been sentenced to life after being convicted of committing crimes against humanity during the early stages of country's "Dirty War" in the mid 1970s.

Judges at a federal court in the northwestern Argentine city of Tucumán jailed 10 of 17 people accused of involvement in the so-called "Operation Independence." Three others who were supposed to go on trial had died.

Operation Independence, enacted by President Isabel Perón on February 5, 1975, gave the Army and local police a blank check to quell leftist guerrilla activity in Tucumán Province. The operation, which resulted in at least 1,000 deaths (including 650 civilians) is considered by many historians as the first chapter in the country's "Dirty War."

Mrs. Perón was deposed a year later by right-wing military dictatorship, which intensified the Dirty War during its rule from 1976 to 1983. According to human rights organisations, 30,000 people were kidnapped or disappeared in that era.

Among the victims' family members in court during the sentencing were women who were pregnant when the military rule began and whose children are still unaccounted for.

Mrs. Perón, now 86, was detained at her home outside Madrid in 2007 pursuant to an international arrest warrant. Her extradition was denied in 2008 by a Madrid court however.

Meanwhile, hundreds of activists and family members demonstrated outside the court, chanting calls for prison sentences for "every genocidal person walking the streets of Argentina."

Some 2,400 former and current officers have been charged with Dirty War-related crimes since amnesty was lifted by former President Néstor Kirchner in 2003, with around 700 convicted thus far.

At: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/argentinians-sentenced-life-dirty-war-role-170916045518804.html

September 15, 2017

Brazilian President Michel Temer charged with obstruction of justice and racketeering

Brazil’s prosecutor general’s office has filed charges of racketeering against President Michel Temer and six other leading politicians from his party, three of whom are already in jail. Temer and two other men are also accused of obstructing justice.

“They practiced illicit acts in exchange for bribes by way of diverse public organs,” prosecutors said. “Michel Temer is accused of having acted as the leader of the criminal organisation since May 2016.”

Prosecutors said the group, all politicians from Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), pocketed $188m in bribes.

Three of them are already in jail: two former speakers of the lower house, Henrique Alves and Eduardo Cunha; and Geddel Vieira Lima, a former Temer minister arrested for the second time last week after police found $16m in cash in an apartment linked to him.

Temer will now face a vote that could decide his presidency in the lower house of Congress – his second in a little over a month – and if two thirds of lawmakers agree, he will be put on trial by the supreme court.

At: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/14/brazil-president-michel-temer-charged

September 14, 2017

Frank Vincent, Sopranos and Goodfellas actor, dies at 78

Source: Variety

Frank Vincent, known for portraying Phil Leotard on “The Sopranos,” has died, his “Sopranos” co-star Vincent Pastore announced on Facebook. He was 78.

TMZ reports that he died due to complications of heart surgery after a heart attack. John Gallagher, who directed Vincent in “Street Hunter,” “The Deli,” and “Animal Room,” also posted the news on Facebook.

Vincent began acting in 1976 when he co-starred in the low-budget crime film “The Death Collector” alongside Joe Pesci. Vincent then acted in Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” which sparked the first of many collaborations between Vincent, Pesci, and Robert De Niro, including “Goodfellas” and “Casino.”‘

Born in North Adams, Mass., and raised in Jersey City, N.J., Vincent often portrayed gangsters while also starring in two of Spike Lee’s films, “Do the Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever.”

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/celebrity/frank-vincent-%E2%80%98sopranos%E2%80%99-and-%E2%80%98goodfellas%E2%80%99-actor-dies-at-78/ar-AArTarY?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Frank Vincent, 1939-2017.
September 13, 2017

Lucia Topolansky takes office as Uruguay's first female vice president

In a special session of Uruguay's General Assembly, Senator Lucía Topolansky was sworn in today as the nation's first female Vice President. She replaces Raúl Sendic, who resigned amid allegations of improper use of a state oil company (ANCAP) charge card.

Topolansky, 72, is the wife of former President José "Pepe" Mujica. Elected to the senate on the leftist Popular Participation Movement (MPP) ticket, she will be sworn in to the dual role of President of the Senate this Saturday.

The MPP, the largest group in the ruling Ample Front coalition, was established by onetime Tupamaros - a left-wing urban guerrilla group active in Uruguay in the 1960s and '70s. Both she and her husband were tortured during their time as unregistered detainees from 1972 until democracy was restored to Uruguay in 1985.

Topolansky will also serve as acting head of state while President Tabaré Vázquez travels to New York to attend next week's United Nations General Assembly.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=la&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.diarioregistrado.com%2Finternacionales%2Fasumio-lucia-topolansky--la-primera-mujer-vicepresidente-de-uruguay_a59b93fb2642ff25396781f8b&edit-text=

former President José Mujica, Vice President Lucía Topolansky, and President Tabaré Vázquez following her swearing in today.
September 13, 2017

National debt hits historic $20 trillion mark

The U.S. national debt reached $20 trillion for the first time ever last Friday after President Trump signed a bipartisan bill temporarily raising the nation's debt limit for three months.

While at Camp David, Trump, with the stroke of his presidential pen, increased the statutory debt last Friday by approximately $318 billion, according to the Treasury Department.

The legislation allowed the Treasury Department to start borrowing again immediately after several months of using "extraordinary measures" to avoid a financial default.

The bill passed last Thursday 80-17 in the Senate and in the House 316-90 on Friday. Around $15 billion in emergency funding for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts was attached to the borrowing measure.

The $318 billion increase raised the U.S. national debt to $20.16 trillion by Friday. Since Trump's inauguration, the debt has increased about $215 billion from around $19.94 trillion.

Mr. Trump shocked many Republicans by cutting an unexpected deal with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last Wednesday, which permitted the three-month debt-ceiling raise in exchange for quick action on Harvey aid and short-term spending.

The Treasury Department will be able to continue borrowing until Dec. 8, which is when the bill is due to expire. At that time, Congress will have to face a new call for legislation tackling once again federal spending and the debt ceiling.

At: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/national-debt-hits-historic-20-trillion-mark/

September 11, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Argentina

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Buenos Aires this week to meet with President Mauricio Macri on September 11 and 12.

Their meeting is expected focus on solidifying security cooperation, arms deals, and agriculture exchanges between Israel and Argentina.

Netanyahu’s visit marks the first time a sitting Israeli Prime Minister has visited South America. After visiting Argentina, home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America, he will visit Colombia and Mexico.

The Macri administration hopes to improve upon the free trade agreement that Mercosur signed with Israel in 2007. Exports to Israel, around $200 million, currently make up 0.3% of Argentina's total.

While in Buenos Aires, Netanyahu will hold two memorial services with Macri for the victims of the 1992 Israeli Embassy bombing and the 1994 attack on the AMIA community center - which together killed 114, and which remain unsolved.

In March, Netanyahu called Macri to thank him for his government’s efforts to seek justice for the families of victims of the embassy bombing. AMIA Special Investigative Unit director Mario Cimadevilla, a Macri appointee, denounced the administration last week for withholding over $1 million in requested funds however.

Haaretz reported that defense cooperation has deepened between Argentina and Israel in recent years; in 2015, Israel bought 74 Argentine TAM tanks for a total of $111 million.

At: http://www.thebubble.com/macri-netanyahu-argentina-visit/

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