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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 12:36 PM
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Man charged with hate crimes in burning of Black church

A man was charged with hate crime offenses Thursday after federal prosecutors said he intentionally set fire to a predominantly Black church in Massachusetts last year.

Dushko Vulchev, 44, of Houlton, ME, is in state custody on four counts of damage to religious property involving fire and one count of use of fire to commit a federal felony in connection with a Dec. 28 blaze at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts said in a statement.

He will make an initial appearance in federal court at a later date.

Vulchev was accused of setting the church ablaze on four separate occasions and slashing the tires of several cars parked near it.

Ultimately, the FBI said, it was the fourth fire set just after 5 a.m. on Dec. 28 that “essentially destroyed” the church.

At: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/man-charged-hate-crimes-burning-black-church-n1264202

Suspect Dushko Vulchev caught in security footage stealing tires in Springfield, MA, last year.

Vulchec has been arrested on charges of arson against a historically Black church in Maine in December.

First lady Jill Biden undergoes 'common' medical procedure in D.C.

Source: UPI

First lady Jill Biden is set to return to her normal schedule on Wednesday after undergoing a routine medical procedure in Washington, D.C.

Biden underwent what the White House called a "common" procedure at an outpatient medical center.

President Joe Biden accompanied his wife to the outpatient center on Wednesday morning.

The White House did not specify the first lady's procedure.

Jill Biden, 69, "tolerated the procedure well," a White House spokeswoman said in a statement to People magazine.

The Bidens spent about two hours at the outpatient clinic.

Read more: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2021/04/14/jill-biden-medical-procedure/2851618414149/

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive back at the White House after the first lady underwent a medical procedure at an outpatient center in Washington earlier today.

Mrs. Biden is reportedly feeling well; she plans a trip to Illinois on Monday.

'Predatory elite' also bear the blame for migrant crisis, NSC's Juan Gonzalez says

Many migrants who come to the U.S. border from Central America are doing so because of "a predatory elite" who are tied to a host of problems in their home countries — not because of President Biden's easing of Trump-era immigration policies, according to Juan González, a top aide to Biden on immigration.

"You have, frankly, a predatory elite that benefits from the status quo, which is to not pay any taxes or invest in social programs," said González, the National Security Council's Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere and a special assistant to Biden.

"Migration is essentially a social release valve for migrants," he said, adding that remittances from their earnings in the U.S. drive more consumption in their home countries.

At: https://www.npr.org/2021/03/26/981284187/predatory-elite-also-bear-the-blame-for-migrant-crisis-juan-gonzalez-says

White House National Security Council Western Hemisphere Senior Director Juan González.

He and Vice President Kamala Harris will be planning a regional anti-corruption task force – a move that would fulfill a Biden campaign promise - with the power to "freeze assets of individuals involved in money laundering."

Peru votes for president in first round after months of chaos and scandal

Peruvians are voting for president and congress in a crowded election that will determine whether the nation can restore order after recent political chaos.

Polls show the presidential vote is too close to call and no single candidate will have enough support to avoid a June runoff. Over 25 million of the nation's 33 million people are eligible to vote.

Hanging over the race is the question of who can govern a country that has had three presidents since November, and where every elected head of state but one since 1985 has either been impeached, imprisoned or sought in criminal investigations.

Many voters are also angry after hundreds of well-connected Peruvians received Covid-19 shots in secret, in what’s being called the “vaccinegate” scandal.

Former Congressman Yonhy Lescano, 62, was leading some major polls on April 4 - the last day results could be publicly released. He’s promised to share the country’s vast mining wealth more widely and bring down consumer interest rates.

At: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-11/peruvians-vote-for-president-after-months-of-chaos-and-scandal

Six of 18 Peruvian presidential candidates (clockwise): Veronica Mendoza, Hernando de Soto, George Forsyth, Rafael López Aliaga, Keiko Fujimori, and Yonhy Lescano.

Also running, among others, is former President Ollanta Humala.

While centrist former Congressman Yonhy Lescano leads polling, none in the crowded field has a clear majority - making a second round on June 6th all but inevitable.

Some 28% of Peruvians want "none of the above" according to a recent poll.

Ecuador's Guillermo Lasso wins presidential election

Ecuador on Sunday elected a conservative former banker and supporter of free-market policies as president over his populist opponent, setting the country on a pro-business path.

Guillermo Lasso, 65, received over 52% of the vote to clinch the presidency, his third attempt at running for office. He defeated Andrés Arauz, a 36-year-old leftist economist and protégé of powerful ex-president Rafael Correa.

Arauz conceded with more than 95% of votes counted.

Lasso, who will be sworn in on May 24, will inherit a bruised economy and health crisis in the nation of 18 million as the Covid-19 pandemic rages across South America.

At: https://www.wsj.com/articles/ecuadors-guillermo-lasso-wins-presidential-election-11618195085

Ecuadorian President-elect Guillermo Lasso addresses supporters during tonight's victory rally.

His center-right CREO alliance defeated the center-left Union for Hope led by Andrés Arauz after a surprise surge in support.

Lasso, who won despite charges of profiting from Ecuador's dollarization in 2000 and his links to offshore shell companies, will have the task of addressing a deep economic crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevada GOP Secretary of State responds scathingly after party censures her over election 'fraud'

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, strongly pushed back after the state GOP voted to censure her over its baseless belief that she was complicit in allowing President Joe Biden to win the 2020 election through "massive fraud."

Cegavske is just the latest GOPer to face censure from fellow Republicans for accurately pointing out that former President Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud are groundless. Despite constantly repeating the extraordinary allegations, the former president and his loyalist supporters have failed to provide credible evidence to support those claims.

On Saturday, the Nevada Republican Party voted to censure the secretary of state.

In a statement, Cegavske defended herself and pointed out, once again, that the claims of widespread fraud are without merit.

"Regrettably, members of my own political party have decided to censure me simply because they are disappointed with the outcome of the 2020 election," she said.

At: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/nevada-gop-secretary-of-state-responds-scathingly-after-party-censures-her-over-election-fraud/ar-BB1fxmh6

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

"My job is to carry out the duties of my office as enacted by the Nevada Legislature, not carry water for the state GOP or put my thumb on the scale of democracy."

Argentina curtails leisure, public transport use after hitting new COVID-19 record

Argentina tightened movement restrictions on Wednesday including curtailing the leisure industry and blocking nonessential workers from using public transport after the country hit a record number of COVID-19 infections as it struggles with a second wave of the virus.

President Alberto Fernández announced a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m., the closure of bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. and the suspension of operations for casinos, bingo halls and nightclubs in areas of the country with the highest infection rates.

Sports in enclosed spaces with the participation of more than 10 people were also banned and in the Greater Buenos Aires area, where cases have increased 53% in a week, all but essential workers along with teachers and those with special authorisation are prohibited from using public transport.

Fernandez, 62, who recently disclosed he had asymptomatic COVID-19, said he was seeking to strike a balance between protecting the health and the economic wellbeing of Argentines. He vowed to keep schools open “as much as possible.”

Daily cases have soared in Argentina from around 7,000 just two weeks ago, to a record 24,130 yesterday. The country has registered 2.5 million cases and 57,350 deaths thus far.

At: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-argentina/argentina-curtails-leisure-public-transport-use-after-hitting-new-covid-19-record-idUSKBN2BU3KI

Why Virginia's abolition of the death penalty is a big deal for the state and the US

In 1608, Jamestown colonists executed a man named Capt. George Kendall, who had been accused of spying for Spain - the first recorded execution in what would later become the American colonies.

Over the next 400 years, more than 1,300 people would be executed in the state, according to the non-partisan Death Penalty Information Center.

That came to an end last week, when Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law legislation abolishing capital punishment, making Virginia the first Southern state to do so.

It's a move that experts and death penalty abolition advocates say has great import, not only for Virginia, but for the South and the rest of the country - emblematic not only of the nationwide decline of capital punishment, but also a reckoning with its history as a tool of racial oppression.

Of the 377 inmates executed in Virginia in the 20th century, 296 of them - more than 78% - were Black, according to data from DPIC. And while 73 Black inmates were executed for rape, attempted rape or armed robbery, no White inmate was executed for any of those crimes between 1900 and 1999.

At: https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/29/us/virginia-death-penalty-abolition-significance/index.html

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam displays a bill abolishing the death penalty after signing it on March 24th.

Activists hope the move will not only help the South shed entrenched, Jim Crow-style racial disparities in punishment, but "will help other Southern states and other states throughout the country to take the same step and finally just get rid of this horrible public policy."

After vaccination, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez tests positive for COVID-19

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández, who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, announced late Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“At the end of today, after presenting a fever of 37.3°C (99.1 °F) and a slight headache, I performed an antigen test, which was positive,” he tweeted, adding he was waiting for the results of a PCR test to confirm the diagnosis.

The president, who turned 62 on Friday, was in isolation as a precaution but said he was “physically well.”

“Although I would have liked to end my birthday without this news, I am also in good spirits,” he said.

Fernandez was inoculated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine on January 21, and had his second shot on February 11.

At: https://www.timesofisrael.com/after-vaccination-argentine-president-tests-positive-for-covid-19/

Argentine President Alberto Fernández receiving his first Covid-19 vaccine dose on January 21, as part of a public effort to encourage fellow Argentines to get vaccinated.

Fernández's announcement that he tested positive for Covid-19, though preliminary, threatens to slow progress in vaccinating the 14.5 million Argentines in "priority" groups - mainly the elderly, those with co-morbidities, and education, health and security staff.

Some 4 million have been thus far - one-fifth the U.S. rate on a per-capita basis.

Argentina posts first current account surplus since 2009

Argentina's National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC) reported this week that the country registered a current account deficit of $1.372 billion in the fourth quarter - but closed 2020 with a surplus of $2.985 billion, its first since 2009.

The surplus included a $12.53 billion trade surplus, offset by foreign debt interest payments of $11.25 billion - a 35.3% reduction largely due to the successful refinance of $66 billion in foreign debt by Economy Minister Martín Guzmán in August.

The balance of payments report likewise showed the country's public foreign debt shrinking by $7.67 billion in the first 9 months of 2020, to $189.7 billion - the first net reduction since 2013.

Argentina's public foreign debt had doubled to $197.4 billion during former President Mauricio Macri's 2015-19 tenure, leading to a record $57 billion bailout from the IMF - reportedly at the behest of former President Donald Trump.

The Argentine economy meanwhile declined in 2020 by 9.9% - its worst showing since the 2002 post-convertibility crisis.

Early lockdown measures in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic led to a sharp recession in the 2nd quarter (-19%), though GDP has recovered steadily since May to within 1.3% of pre-pandemic levels by January.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https://www.politicargentina.com/notas/202103/36295-con-pandemia-pero-sin-macri-el-indec-demostro-con-datos-que-en-2020-se-redujo-fuerte-la-deuda-externa-bruta.html

Argentine Economy Minister Martín Guzmán points to data during a recent press conference.

The center-left Alberto Fernández administration has prioritized debt sustainability following a doubling in public foreign debt under his right-wing predecessor Mauricio Macri.

Argentina is currently in talks with the IMF to refinance $45 billion borrowed by Macri - part of over $100 billion in additional net foreign debt during his 4-year tenure.

Guzmán noted that while he hoped to sign a fresh agreement with the IMF in May as originally planned, that date was flexible.
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