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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 11:36 AM
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Thousands protest over missing indigenous activist in Argentina

A missing campaigner for indigenous rights prompted thousands of people to march through Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires on Friday.

It is feared that Santiago Maldonado, 28, may have been taken away by police in Patagonia ten days ago, when security forces evicted Mapuche indians from land owned by the Italian clothing firm Benetton.

Witnesses reported seeing Maldonado beaten by officers as he clung to a tree, and then taken away in a Gendarmerie vehicle.

Human rights groups and the UN have expressed concern. Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action alert on August 9 calling on President Mauricio Macri to “carry out a full and impartial investigation” and to “guarantee the physical integrity of the Mapuche community.”

The case has revived memories of disappearances in the past, when up to 30,000 were murdered by the authorities during Argentina's last dictatorship in the late 1970s.

“Forty years ago, during the military dictatorship, we shouted: ‘they took them, we want them alive, the guilty must be punished’. It’s unacceptable that today, with a constitutional government, we have to do so again,” said Taty Almeida of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights group.

“I think it could have happened to any of us, we have ideals and we fight for what we think. No one should disappear for fighting for their ideas and for what they believe,” added another young protester, Sofia Palermo.

The case has highlighted a long-running conflict between Benetton, which grazes sheep on land it owns in Patagonia to produce wool, and the Mapuche people – who claim ancestral territory over a small portion of Benetton's land.

The government, which has denied involvement in Maldonado's disappearance, has offered a reward for information after a UN committee called for action. A police search on Friday located a rope with dried human blood and hair in a Gendarmerie station in El Bolsón, near the site of the disappearance.

At: http://www.euronews.com/2017/08/12/argentina-thousands-protest-over-missing-indigenous-activist

Amid mounting capital flight, Argentine banks impose $10,000 cap for dollar purchases

Facing an escalation in demand for U.S. dollars and accelerating capital flight, numerous Argentine banks have decided to limit their purchase by private parties to $10,000 a month.

The move comes amid a sharp increase this week in dollar purchases for the purpose of wiring funds overseas - part of a rapidly growing trend known in Argentina as the "financial bicycle."

Around 85% of the dollars purchased, according to Buenos Aires financial institutions, have been in transactions of between $2 million and $5 million - the legal limit in Argentina - and with scanty documentation. Of $14 billion purchased in the first half of 2017, nearly $8 billion left the country as of June.

This week, the Central Bank was forced to sell nearly $1.6 billion from its reserves to stabilize the dollar, which has jumped 12% to 18 pesos since June 19.

The 'financial bicycle' boom in carry-trade transactions began shortly after a package of financial deregulation decrees signed by President Mauricio Macri within days of taking office 20 months ago.

This trend has been largely financed by the Central Bank itself through short-term bills known as Lebacs.

Lebac debacle

Lebacs, issued in pesos and typically purchased for a 28 or 35-day term, pay an annualized 26% rate - or 10 to 15% in dollar terms. Attracting mostly domestic speculators, Lebacs are typically rolled over, with the profits used to buy dollars that are then wired overseas.

The value of Lebacs outstanding has more than tripled under Macri to 960 billion pesos ($54 billion). Investors, however, began dumping Lebacs on June 19, when a record 23% ($8 billion) were cashed in rather than rolled over.

Central Bank data show that of $60 billion in public foreign debt added in the last 18 months, $37 billion have gone to finance the bicycle and other capital flight.

Argentine Central Bank President Federico Sturzenegger denies that the "bicycle" has become unsustainable, and on July 27 ordered Piedro Biscay, the sole member of the Central Bank board to warn of a potential bubble, dismissed.

The current trend has drawn comparisons to the bubble created at the height of Argentina's last dictatorship in 1980, when the Central Bank issued Lebacs paying up to 60% interest in dollar terms to attract investment - only to end in a financial collapse in 1981 after insiders "bicycled" some $20 billion of the profits to offshore accounts.

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%2Flos-bancos-pusieron-un-cepo-al-dolar-informal-el-aumento-demanda-n31761&edit-text=

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ambito.com%2F893324-en-semana-previa-a-las-paso-el-bcra-debio-vender-mas-de-us-1500-m-para-contener-al-dolar-cerca-de-los--18&edit-text=

Trump's top evangelical ally: God supports bombing North Korea

A short time after Trump spoke Tuesday afternoon, threatening that North Korean aggression would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” one of his closest religious advisers made that link explicit. In a statement emailed to journalists Tuesday afternoon, Pastor Robert Jeffress praised Trump’s aggressive statement as a function of divine will.

“When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil. In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un.”

Jeffress has long been one of Trump’s political allies, one central to Trump and his team’s increasingly unsettling conflation of Christianity, nationalism, and pro-Trump cult of personality. Jeffress spoke at Trump’s inauguration. In July, he led a “Freedom Rally,” during which he praised Trump as “God’s choice for America.”

At: https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/8/9/16118628/robert-jeffress-trump-god-supports-bombing-north-korea

Pastor Robert Jeffress and the current occupant of the White House.

Kenyan president leads challenger in partial vote results

Source: Washington Post

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta led challenger Raila Odinga by a significant margin in partial election results, Kenya’s election commission said Wednesday.

The commission’s website showed Kenyatta with just over 55% and opposition leader Odinga with nearly 44% after votes were counted from more than two-thirds of the 40,833 polling stations. However, the commission did not release information about which constituencies had been counted, so it was unclear whether Kenyatta strongholds or opposition centers, or some combination, had yet to be tallied.

Authorities hope to avoid the post-election violence of a decade ago when ethnic divisions fueled unrest that killed more than 1,000 people.

Kenyatta and Odinga also faced off in the mostly peaceful 2013 election. Kenyatta won that contest with just over 50% of the vote; Odinga, who had served as prime minister since 2008, alleged voting irregularities but Kenya’s highest court ruled in Kenyatta’s favor by validating the results.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/kenyans-choose-next-president-in-fiercely-contested-vote/2017/08/07/c8dfe5fc-7be7-11e7-b2b1-aeba62854dfa_story.html?utm_term=.6772ea1b3da9

Raila Odinga, and the incumbent (and more conservative) Uhuru Kenyatta

Robertson says homosexuality will destroy America: Gays will force Christians to have sex w/animals

Televangelist Pat Robertson warned that the backlash to Indiana’s anti-LGBT law signaled a renewed assault on Americans’ sexual practices and “deeply held Christian beliefs.”

Robertson used last night's broadcast of the “700 Club” to bring up a pizza shop owner in Indiana who made national news when she told a TV reporter that she would not cater food at a same-sex wedding, Right Wing Watch reported.

“I’m not sure I would serve pizza for a gay wedding,” Robertson said. “Most gays, if they’re having a wedding, don’t want pizzas – they want cake. It’s the cake makers that are having the problem.”

The “700 Club” host warned that if gay couples were permitted to serve Christian-baked cakes during their wedding reception, there’s no telling where they would stop. Pat Robertson claims gay people will force Christians to embrace anal sex, endorse sex with dogs.

At: http://www.nova-magazine.net/pat-robertson-homosexuality-destroy-america-christians-endorse-bestiality/

Too late, Pat.

Argentina's Macri revealed to be a business partner of disgraced contractor Odebrecht since 1998

An investigation published in the Buenos Aires daily Página/12 revealed that Argentine President Mauricio Macri is a partner of the disgraced Brazilian construction company Odebrecht through the investment fund Blackwood Group.

The fund was created in 1998, when Macri was executive vice president of the family holding company Sociedades Macrì (Socma).

"Since 1998, when Mauricio Macri was its executive vice president, Sideco Americana has been a partner of Odebrecht in the Blackwood Group," Página/12 senior writer Horacio Verbitsky said. "They are involved in businesses as diverse as energy, construction, oil and gas, consulting, mining, finance, and mergers and acquisitions, with interests in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, North America, and Latin America."

The Blackwood Group, registered in an unspecified offshore tax haven was never declared in Macri's financial disclosures, as required by Argentine law. Its entire client portfolio, besides Odebrecht, were part of the Macri Group.

The partnership, according to the report, was also used by Macri to lessen his family's liabilities dating from their control of the Argentine Postal Service from 1997 to 2003. "The Antigua & Barbuda branch of Austria's Meinl Bank bought $400 million worth of IDB and World Bank loans to the Argentine Post during the Macri era for $8 million and then impeded efforts to collect said debt."

Meinl Bank's Antigua and Barbuda headquarters was also used by Odebrecht to deposit over $1.6 billion in bribes to officials and influential individuals in 12 countries through 40 shell companies. CEO Marcelo Odebrecht is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence for his role in the Lava Jato scheme.

Macri came under fire last February for using his office to write off at least $230 million owed by his family to the Postal Service. The resulting uproar forced Macri to backtrack; but the case remains stalled in the courts.

The Open Corporates and Panama Papers revelations published in April 2016 have linked the Macri family to at least 50 offshore accounts, most of which were undeclared to local authorities.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F54788-emerge-el-iceberg

Televangelist demands all Christian leaders include Trump's name in prayer

The group of so-called Christian evangelists who support Trump are conmen pandering to a base that will blindly support them and line their pockets with money. One such ‘Christian’ named David Lane is teaming up with Newt Gingrich to urge pastors in Lane’s American Renewal Network to include Trump’s name in prayer.

Lane also wants them to pray for a hefty tax cut this fall. He and Gingrich believe the tax cut is the key to keeping Republicans’ seats in 2018 and beyond.

Gingrich and Lane don’t believe in the separation of church and state. Lane is known for linking Republican candidates up with conservative pastors to boost candidates’ popularity.

Gingrich believes Trump has already made a “huge difference” and is “starting to turn America in the right direction.” He then glorified Trump as a “remarkably powerful but complex person.” Gingrich also highlighted the appointment of Neil Gorsuch as a major Trump accomplishment.

At: http://realtimepolitics.com/2017/08/05/trumpvangelist-demands-trumph/

David Lane. Praise the Lawd and Pass the Loot.

Supporter of Mapuche protest camp disappears after being arrested in Argentina

Members of rural Mapuche community of Cushamen, in southwestern Argentina, and the Chubut Province Remembrance Commission (CPM) reported yesterday that an activist has disappeared after a protest crackdown last Tuesday by the National Gendermerie, the country's federal militarized police force.

The activist, 28 year-old Santiago Maldonado, had arrived at the site the previous day to lend his support to the Mapuche protest camp, which had been organized last week to demonstrate against the arrest of their leader Facundo Jonas Huala in June.

Witnesses report seeing Maldonado beaten by officers as he clung to a tree, and then taken away in a Gendarmerie vehicle.

The protest camp was ordered cleared on the day of Maldonado's arrest by Judge Guido Otranto. Otranto had been condemned by the Mapuche Community and human rights groups for ordering a similar crackdown in January which injured numerous protesters with rubber bullets.

Nine other protesters had been arrested that day; but were later released. Despite inquiries by his family, Maldonado's whereabouts remain unknown.

The CPM filed a Habeas Corpus petition for Maldonado, and wrote a formal letter of inquiry to Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and President Mauricio Macri. Bullrich's chief adviser, Pablo Nocetti, personally supervised the August 1 crackdown, according to witnesses.

"Santiago's disappearance is the responsibility of the national and provincial governments," CPM president Víctor Mendibil said.

Argentina's Mapuche community has protested over the last two years against ongoing land purchases in ancestral areas by Italian businessman Luciano Benetton. Benetton has reportedly purchased over 3,400 mi² across the windswept Patagonia region since 1991; the disputed area covers around 1,500 acres (2.3 mi²).

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicargentina.com%2Fnotas%2F201708%2F22064-una-comunidad-mapuche-de-chubut-denuncia-que--hay-un-desaparecido-tras-represion-de-gendarmeria.html

Santiago Maldonado

Robert Hardy: Harry Potter and All Creatures Great and Small star dies

The actor Robert Hardy, star of TV series All Creatures Great and Small, has died aged 91, his family has said.

Hardy, they said, had a "tremendous life" and "a giant career in theatre, television and film spanning more than 70 years".

He was also known for numerous portrayals of Winston Churchill. In more recent years, he appeared as Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, in four of the Harry Potter films.

Hardy, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, started his acting career at the age of 24 with the Shakespeare Memorial Company in Stratford, later the Royal Shakespeare Company

With his instantly recognisable voice and British bulldog manner, Robert Hardy enjoyed a distinguished acting career which spanned seven decades.

By the time he endeared himself to television audiences in the BBC's All Creatures Great and Small in 1978, he had already carved out a reputation as one of Britain's most versatile actors.

At: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-40818839

Robert Hardy, 1925-2017

Following the IACHR's ruling, Argentine political prisoner Milagro Sala to be granted house arrest

Argentine indigenous activist Milagro Sala, whose imprisonment without charges 19 months ago has been ruled arbitrary by numerous international bodies, has been granted a transfer to house arrest by the government of Jujuy Province.

The decision comes days after a July 28 ruling by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ordered Argentina to respond promptly to a formal request by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for Milagro Sala's immediate release.

Imprisoned without charges in January 2016 on orders from Jujuy Province Governor Gerardo Morales, Sala, 53, remains in prison on "illicit association" charges over a 2009 egg-lobbing incident against Morales which has not been linked to Sala and in which there were no injuries.

Citing lack of evidence and serious irregularities such as the use of bribed witnesses, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled on October 21 that Sala's detention is in fact arbitrary, and urged Argentine President Mauricio Macri (a close ally of Morales) to release her immediately.

Crtitics noted that Macri ally José Potocar, the disgraced Buenos Aires police chief indicted on bribery and extortion charges, was granted house arrest yesterday after just 3 months in prison.

Sala's defense attorney, Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, noted that the ruling by the IACHR - to which Argentina is a signatory - "leaves no room for the Government not to comply: it must comply and respect Sala's rights under the laws governing pre-trial detention."

Calls for her release by the OAS, the IACHR, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other human rights organizations intensified after Sala reported mistreatment on May 14.

The report stated that her fellow Tupac Amaru colleagues at the prison - all women - have suffered repeated beatings, have sustained fractures, and vomit blood. They, according to Sala, "often scream at night to plead for a stop to the torture."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ambito.com%2F891895-tras-fallo-de-la-cidh-darian-prision-domiciliaria-a-milagro-sala&edit-text=

Milagro Sala and Pope Francis in happier days
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