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sandensea

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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 12:36 PM
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Argentina: Two main opposition leaders agree to electoral alliance

The political landscape ahead of this year's presidential elections in Argentina was rocked today by news that the nation's two top opposition leaders, Alberto Fernández and Sergio Massa, agreed to an electoral alliance.

The alliance, announced as the Front for All, brings together the two main factions in the big-tent Justicialist Party (PJ): the centrist Federal Alternative, led by Massa; and the larger, center-left Citizens' Unity, led by former President Cristina Kirchner (Fernández's running mate this year).

The alliance bolsters the PJ in its bid to defeat right-wing President Mauricio Macri, who's seeking re-election amid approval ratings of 24% and the deepest economic crisis since the country's 2001-02 collapse.

The PJ, founded by the late populist leader Juan Perón (and thus known as Peronists), has been long beset by disunity however, and the prospect of Fernández and Massa running separately represented the best - albeit remote - hope for Macri's "Let's Change" coalition of eking out a victory by default.

Recent polling, however, had Fernández ahead of Macri by 13% even with Massa running separately.

"A large part of our society has long awaited our unity, so we may move forward," Fernández tweeted.

A long way back

The negotiations were reportedly made easier by the fact that Fernández, 60, and Massa, 47, are longtime political allies and personal friends.

Both served as chiefs of staff to former President Cristina Kirchner during her first term (2007-11) - but both entered politics in the 1980s supporting the top neo-liberal figure at the time, the late Álvaro Alsogaray.

Both also broke with Mrs. Kirchner over what they saw as a leftward shift in policy, and Fernández served as Massa's campaign chair during the latter's 2015 campaign, where he placed third.

Massa's decision to abstain from endorsing PJ nominee Daniel Scioli four days before the November 22, 2015, runoff, was decisive in Macri's narrow victory of 2.7% - the closest in Argentine presidential election history.

But Macri's sharp right turn in economic policy - in stark contrast to his centrist campaign rhetoric - and the carry-trade debt bubble collapse that followed by 2018, has helped reunite Peronists.

Massa sought to avoid a similar outcome this year.

"Argentina does not simply need a political front," he said in a June 7 rally. "Our country needs a broad agreement, of all sectors, to get out of Macri's crisis and failure, and to grow for the next 20 years."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Fnota%2Felecciones-2019-sergio-massa-y-alberto-fernandez-sellaron-la-unidad-del-peronismo--201961218490



Sergio Massa and Alberto Fernández enjoy a coffee break following today's unity talks in Fernández's Buenos Aires campaign headquarters.

An alliance between Massa's centrist Federal Alternative, and Fernández, the standard bearer for former President Cristina Kirchner's center-left Citizens' Unity, effectively unites Argentina's Peronists - the principal opposition to the neo-con Macri.

Argentine elections: Macri drops VP Gabriela Michetti from ticket

Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced today that Vice President Gabriela Michetti will not be on his right-wing "Let's Change" coalition's 2019 ticket.

Macri picked Senator Miguel Ángel Pichetto as his running mate instead - a surprise choice to most local political analysts.

Pichetto, 68, is the current Senate Minority Leader and had headed the opposition Justicialist Party (PJ) caucus since 2002.

A staunch ally of Macri's most visible opponent, former President Cristina Kirchner, during her 2007-15 tenure, Pichetto has lurched steadily to the right since Macri was narrowly elected in late 2015.

His hard-line stance on immigration and crime, as well as his frequent diatribes on the ongoing Venezuelan crisis (an issue of little interest to most Argentine voters), have led critics to brand him as the "Argentine Bolsonaro" - in reference to Brazil's neo-fascist President Jair Bolsonaro.

Pichetto had sought his party's nomination for this year's election but had seldom polled above 1%. He endorsed Macri on June 4, and following today's announcement resigned his post as PJ caucus leader.

Running on empty

Michetti's replacement was widely expected: She faces charges over alleged campaign money laundering through her right-wing think tank SUMA, and her gruff manner and ineptitude while presiding the senate has eroded her image.

Most, however, believed Macri would tap someone from the junior partners in his 'Let's Change' coalition, the centrist UCR - on whose votes Macri won in 2015; but who since have largely been ignored.

Macri had instead reportedly first offered the slot to Salta Province Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey - the de facto head of the PJ's minority right-wing faction; Urtubey refused.

The move comes as Macri's re-election chances have faded in the face of a sharp recession, the highest inflation in 27 years, and the Extortiongate scandal - involving Macri's alleged use of Argentina Federal Intelligence to both frame opponents and extract ransom payments.

Inflation in April hit 56%, among the highest in the world, while the economy shrank 6.2% in March from the same time last year.

Since the recession began following the collapse of Macri's 2016-17 carry-trade debt bubble, some 296,000 registered jobs have been lost as of March - equivalent to 2.2 million jobs lost in the U.S.

Recent polls show Macri losing to center-left PJ candidate Alberto Fernández, with Mrs. Kirchner as his running mate, by 13%.

"Macri today has over 100 criminal complaints against him," Pichetto himself had said in February. "When his term ends, he'll go straight to federal court."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F199692-pichetto-vice-de-macri



President Mauricio Macri (right), and his new running mate, right-wing Senator Miguel Ángel Pichetto.

While Macri's decision to drop the gruff, unpopular Michetti was not unexpected, his refusal to pick someone from the UCR - the long-ignored junior partners in his "Let's Change" coalition - has further strained relations with UCR leaders and voters.

Brazilian prosecutors who indicted Lula da Silva schemed to prevent his party from winning

An enormous trove of secret documents reveals that Brazil’s most powerful prosecutors, who have spent years insisting they are apolitical, instead plotted to prevent the Workers’ Party, or PT, from winning the 2018 presidential election.

The massive archive, provided exclusively to The Intercept, shows multiple examples of politicized abuse of prosecutorial powers by those who led the country’s sweeping Operation Car Wash corruption probe since 2014.

It also reveals a long-denied political and ideological agenda.

One glaring example occurred 10 days before the first round of presidential voting last year, when a Supreme Court justice granted a petition from the country’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, to interview former President Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva, who was in prison on corruption charges brought by the Car Wash task force.

Immediately upon learning of that decision on September 28, 2018, the team of prosecutors in the case — who had vehemently denied being driven by political motives — began discussing in a private Telegram chat group how to undermine the Supreme Court decision, and thus block a pre-election interview.

The Car Wash prosecutors explicitly said that their motive in stopping Lula’s interview was to prevent the PT from winning.

A press conference before the second round of voting could help elect Haddad,” prosecutor Laura Tessler wrote in the chat group, referring to the PT’s candidate Fernando Haddad.

The chief of the prosecutor task force, Deltan Dallagnol, and another prosecutor agreed to “pray” together that the events of that day would not usher in the PT’s return to power.

Haddad replaced Lula after the latter was banned from running, thus paving the way for far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Polls showed Lula winning handily, had he been allowed to run.

The former president was convicted in April 2018, just as Brazil's campaign season got underway. Lacking material evidence, his conviction was based solely on testimony from jailed contractors.

The apartment Lula was alleged without proof to have received from a contractor by way of a bribe, was put on the market by its real owner last week.

The judge who oversaw the case, Sérgio Moro, was appointed Minister of Justice by President Bolsonaro.

At: https://theintercept.com/2019/06/09/brazil-car-wash-prosecutors-workers-party-lula/



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

What's App and Telegram messages published by The Intercept show that political motives governed prosecutors' actions.

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.

George W. Bush, Kobe Bryant, Jordan Peterson promote shady multilevel marketing company

Former President George W. Bush, basketball star Kobe Bryant, and right-wing Canadian professor Jordan Peterson will lend their famous names this summer to a multilevel insurance marketing company that critics say is better at getting money from its own recruits than it is at selling insurance.

PHP Agency is a multilevel marketing company, meaning that it makes money when people recruit lower-ranking members, who then funnel their sales commissions upwards.

Agents move up through the ranks based on their recruitment rates, according to a 2016 PHP fact sheet on “compensations and promotional guidelines.”

But much of PHP’s income appears to come from fees paid by the recruits themselves, according to complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.

Its PHP page is littered with complaints. Multiple people complained that someone had persuaded them to join their insurance team and pay $150 for “training material,” plus a monthly recurring fee of $14.95.

A Reddit forum devoted to discussions of multilevel marketing companies is filled with similar horror stories about the company, with tales of PHP agents pressuring friends and family members to pay initiation fees to join the company and savings squandered on PHP Agency trainings.

At: https://www.thedailybeast.com/george-w-bush-kobe-bryant-jordan-peterson-promote-shady-multilevel-marketing-company-php-agency



George Dubya Bush: Grifters gonna grift.

Pope Francis: Lawfare endangers democracy, is used politically and to violate social rights

In a speech to some 100 judges from countries across the Western Hemisphere at the end of a two-day Vatican conference (June 3-4) on “Social Rights and Franciscan Doctrine,” Pope Francis emphasized the crucial role of judges in protecting and enforcing the social, economic and cultural rights of people.

“It seems that the constitutional guarantees and the international treaties that have been ratified have in practice no universal value,” the pontiff lamented.

Pope Francis said that, for a political economic system “to develop in a healthy way,” it “needs to guarantee that democracy is more than only nominal

“There is no democracy when there is hunger, there is not development when there is poverty, there is not justice when there is inequality.”

Pope Francis also spoke of the growing trend of weaponizing the judiciary against critics and opponents - a clear signal to his native Argentina.

President Mauricio Macri, politically aligned and personally close to U.S President Donald Trump, was recently revealed to be using “a web of illegal intelligence operations” against opponents - particularly former President Cristina Kirchner, who is currently running for vice president on a center-left ticket polling ahead of Macri's by double digits.

“A new form of external intervention in the political scenarios of countries through the improper use of legal procedures and judicial formulations.”

“This ‘lawfare,’ besides endangering democracies, is generally used to undermine emerging political processes and tends to systematically violate social rights.”

“In order to guarantee the institutional quality of states, it is essential to identify and neutralize these types of practices - which derive from wrongful judicial activity combined with parallel multimedia operations.”

At: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/06/04/pope-francis-judges-there-no-justice-when-there-inequality



Pope Francis, during his meetings with Argentine President Mauricio Macri (left) and Donald Trump.

He warned that “lawfare” - the practice of weaponizing the judiciary against critics and opponents - “besides endangering democracies, is generally used to undermine emerging political processes and tends to systematically violate social rights.”

Why you should watch... Ask Dr Ruth, an inspiring documentary about a sex therapist

“Don’t sit there and suffer. Don’t fake it. Do something about it.” This is the advice of the celebrated sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, whose life and career is the subject of the uplifting new documentary Ask Dr. Ruth.

The film follows Westheimer in the lead-up to her 90th birthday as she ebulliently whizzes through a heavily laden schedule of authoring self-help books, giving lectures at Columbia and writing a column for Time magazine.

Simmering in the background is an exploration of the psychologist’s traumatic past as a survivor of the Holocaust, whose horrors are reconstructed with hand-painted illustrations that lend a jarring childlike perspective to this brutal reality.

In these reverential moments, Westheimer explains how living through such unspeakable tragedy has shaped her open-hearted, progressive worldview, ensuring that she empathised with all those perceived as subhuman.

A German-Jewish refugee who was carted off on a Kindertransport at aged 10, never to see her family again, Westheimer suffered countless indignities in the Swiss orphanage she ended up in.

Ask Dr. Ruth intersperses these sequences throughout the narrative, emphasising the upheavals she endured to become America’s preeminent authority on sexuality.



Dr. Ruth Westheimer looks out on the Swiss countryside during a visit to the village she lived in as a child refugee during World War II.

You'll laugh, you'll cry.

ABC raid: Outcry as Australian police search public broadcaster

Source: BBC News

A police raid on Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) has drawn fire from broadcasters and rights groups.

Officers arrived at the public broadcaster's Sydney headquarters with search warrants naming two reporters and the news director. The ABC has protested over the raid.

The leading journalists' union in the country said the two raids represented a "disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom". Other unions and human rights groups also condemned the actions.

The police action is related to articles about alleged misconduct by Australian forces in Afghanistan.

According to the ABC, Wednesday's search is about the 2017 investigative series known as The Afghan Files which "revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan."

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-48522729





ABC editorial director Craig McMurtrie speaks to the press following today's unprecedented police raid on the Australian public broadcaster's offices.

McMurtrie says the raids by the federal police on the ABC's Sydney offices are an uncomfortable development with serious implications for press freedom.

Corbyn attacks Trump for spreading hate during his state visit

Argentina's Macrisis: Country risk surpasses 1000 basis points

A selloff in Argentine bond markets today pushed the nation's 'country risk' to close above 1000 points for the first time in over five years.

The index, based on JP Morgan’s Emerging Markets Bond Index (EMBI) yield for Argentine bonds over the yield of U.S. Treasuries of comparable maturity, reached 1013 points today, an increase of 28 basis points.

The trend has pushed yields on the two most subscribed Argentine bond issues, Bonar 2020 and Bonar 2024, to 19% on the secondary market - the highest in the world for performing sovereign bonds.

The steady increase in the country risk, from around 400 points in early 2018, comes as investors have become increasingly skeptical of Argentina's ability to repay its mounting foreign debts - which now exceed $200 billion in the public sector alone.

Scheduled debt payments over the next four years already total over $148 billion.

Debt service has ballooned from 6% of the federal budget in 2015, to 20% this year, forcing cuts in infrastructure, health, and education budgets amid a deep recession and massive job losses.

Vulture culture

This was Argentina's highest country risk index since February 5, 2014 - at the height of the vulture fund dispute, when holdouts led by Paul Singer's Cayman Islands-based hedge fund NML had a Manhattan court block payment to Argentina's foreign bondholders in order to collect a 1600% payout.

An $8.9 billion payout to holdouts in April 2016 by recently-elected President Mauricio Macri (netting NML an estimated 1180%) was touted as a sign of "Argentina returning to the world."

Macri then issued $122 billion in sovereign bonds and notes over the next two years - second only among emerging markets to South Korea.

Foreign investors lost interest in Argentine bonds in February 2018 however, leading to the implosion that April of a domestic carry-trade debt bubble known as the "financial bicycle."

Shut out of global bond markets, Macri turned to the IMF, where he secured a $56 billion high-access stand-by credit line - the most restrictive kind, and one which only three other crisis-wracked countries (Iraq, Jamaica, and Kenya) currently have.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ambito.com%2Friesgo-pais-alcanzo-un-nuevo-maximo-la-era-macri-perforo-los-1000-puntos-n5034978



Argentina's Central Bank has responded to investor worries over the payability of the country's mounting public foreign debt by raising its key interest rates to over 70%.

Offering high yields succeeded in stanching capital flight somewhat; but it's also led to effective lending rates of 90% or more for local businesses, further deepening the most severe recession in two decades.

With Brazil on brink of recession, Bolsonaro scoffs "I said I didn't understand economics"

Brazil's Geography and Statistics Institute (IBGE) reported last week that the nation's GDP slid 0.2% in the first quarter. Compared to the first quarter of 2018, GDP grew only 0.5% - its worst result in two years.

This was followed by reports that unemployment rose another 0.5% in April, to 12.5%.

These were unwelcome news to President Jair Bolsonaro, whose right-wing administration is now languishing at around 35% job approval just five months after taking office.

The president, however, remained defiant.

"I already said that I didn't understand economics," Bolsonaro shot back when asked about the recent data. "Those who understood sunk Brazil; I have 100% trust in the economics of Paulo Guedes."

Guedes, Bolosonaro's Economy Minister, has pledged to revive growth in Brazil through deregulation, tax cuts, budget cuts, and privatizations.

This supply-side cocktail, already enacted in neighboring Argentina in 2015 by Mauricio Macri, resulted in the sharpest downturn (6.2% as of March) since that country's 2001-02 collapse - itself on the heels of the similar policies.

Brazil's economy, the largest in Latin America and the 9th largest in the world, is now threatened by recession - something considered unlikely a few months ago. The country had already endured a deep recession in 2015-16, followed by a weak recovery of 1.1% annually in 2017 and '18.

This has left Brazil's GDP at 2011 levels for the last three years.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=pt&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.minutouno.com%2Fnotas%2F5034769-brasil-esta-al-borde-la-recesion-y-bolsonaro-se-ataja-yo-ya-dije-que-no-entendia-economia



Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with his supply-side "Chicago boy," Economy Minister Paulo Guedes:

"I told you I didn't understand economics!"
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