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sandensea

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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 12:36 PM
Number of posts: 8,099

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Alabama state Senate passes near total abortion ban in direct challenge to Roe v. Wade

Source: NBC News

The Alabama state Senate on Tuesday approved a bill essentially banning abortion in the state, a move specifically aimed at challenging over 40 years of federal abortion protection under Roe v. Wade.

The bill, which passed 25-6, would make it a felony for a doctor to perform or attempt an abortion during any stage of pregnancy.

The House approved a version of the bill that had an exception for the mother's health, passing 74-3, then a Senate committee added an exception for rape and incest. Republicans in the Senate, however, suddenly tabled the rape and incest exemptions last week, leading to swift and vocal opposition from Democrats.

Democratic Sen. Bobby Singleton put up an amendment to make exceptions in the case of rape and incest again on Tuesday night. Four Republicans joined the seven Democrats present to vote for the exceptions, but the measure failed in a roll call vote.

Singleton then accused proponents of the legislation of having "raped the state of Alabama with this bill." Governor Kay Ivey is expected to sign the bill into law.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/alabama-state-senate-passes-near-total-abortion-ban-direct-challenge-n1005556

Argentina's Extortiongate: Investigating judge to retain case, in a blow to Macri

Argentine Federal Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla, who oversees a case of a massive extortion scheme involving millions in ransom payments and false testimony coerced against political opponents, was confirmed as the presiding judge in the wide-reaching case, known locally as "Extortiongate."

A Federal Appeals Court ruled that transferring the case to Buenos Aires, as requested by Federal Prosecutor Juan Curi, would be "premature, given the early stage of the investigation and the shortage of elements with which as yet to judge the true nature of the illicit organization."

The ruling is a blow to President Mauricio Macri, whose Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) is deeply implicated in Extortiongate.

Macri, who is seeking the judge's impeachment, has close ties to both principals in the alleged extortion ring:

To Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli through the Boca Juniors football club (which Macri headed until entering politics); and to AFI agent Marcelo d'Alessio through d'Alessio's uncle (whom Macri appointed presidential notary public), and through d'Alessio's former law partner - who administers Macri's blind trust.

Those charged thus far include d'Alessio, fellow AFI operatives Ricardo Bogoliuk, Aníbal Degastaldi, Rolando Barreiro, and Claudio Álvarez, as well as Buenos Aires Province D.A. Juan Bidone.

In addition, those named as persons of interest include Stornelli, Federal Judge Claudio Bonadío (to whose court Macri sought to transfer the case), and pro-Macri Civic Coalition lawmakers Elisa Carrió, Paula Olivetto, and Mariana Zuvic.

Carrió, like Zuvic, is well known as a right-wing media firebrand and, according to witness testimony, relied on d'Alessio and Bidone for material.

Shakedown breakdown

Extortiongate began when, on February 8, 22 hours of incriminating tapes collected by farmer Pedro Etchebest, from whom d'Alessio sought a $300,000 ransom, were published by investigative journalist Horacio Verbitsky.

The tapes, made throughout January, show d'Alessio boasting that some $12 million in bribes had been coerced from victims since August 2018, that political opponents had been “framed,” and that Stornelli “managed” the enterprise.

Audio, video, and WhatsApp messages show a close working relationship between the two - as well as with Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and the chief judicial affairs writer for the right-wing daily Clarín, Daniel Santoro.

Santoro, according to the tapes, wrote hit pieces at his behest against those refusing to pay.

The operation, according to testimony from numerous witnesses and d'Alessio himself, also sought false testimony against Macri's opponents - particularly former President Cristina Kirchner, her allies, and Santa Fe Governor Miguel Lifschitz.

Amid a imploding debt bubble and severe recession, Macri is facing job disapproval of 70% and had relied on corruption allegations against Kirchner and her former officials to boost his reelection chances this year.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.infonews.com%2Fnota%2F323378%2Fla-justicia-ratifico-a-ramos-padilla-al



Federal Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla (left), faces stonewalling from Macri, as well as attempts to have the Extortiongate case transferred to a close ally, Federal Judge Claudio Bonadío (right).

Today's ruling stops the push to have the case transferred - though perhaps only temporarily.

Bonadío, known as a "napkin" judge for his willingness to follow the president's agenda, is the public face of Argentina's weaponized judiciary against opponents.

Intelligence operative Marcelo d'Alessio played a key role by coercing false testimony (and payouts) from witnesses, coaching others, and helping concoct evidence.

Right-wing Congresswoman Elisa Carrió (middle) has been named by witness testimony as the principal launderer for d'Alessio's material, mostly by way of high-profile media "denouncements" against opponents.

Trump to welcome Hungarian PM Viktor Orban

Tomorrow President Trump will receive Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán in the Oval Office.

It's the first visit by a Hungarian prime minister to the White House since 2005. The Obama administration limited diplomatic contacts with Orbán's government over concerns that it was eroding democratic norms.

As president Trump prepares to receive Orbán at the White House, we look at the Hungarian prime minister's so-called "illiberal democracy."

Orbán was once a hero of democracy. As a young anti-Soviet activist, he founded a political movement that helped transition his country out of communism.

In 1998, when he was just 35, he was already prime minister and visiting Bill Clinton's White House.

Four years later, his party lost elections, and he was out of power. When he became prime minister again in 2010, he was a changed man. Political analyst Gabor Gyori noticed ruthlessness.

"Viktor Orbán is famous for his view that politics is war," Gyori noted. "This is destroy or be destroyed."

Under Orbán, Hungary rewrote its constitution to strengthen his control over Parliament. With Parliament, he's weakened the courts. And Orbán supporters have taken control of most of the media.

He told supporters in 2014 that he wants to remake Hungary into what he calls an "ill-liberal democracy."

At: https://www.npr.org/2019/05/12/722647668/trump-to-welcome-hungarian-pm-viktor-orb-n



Trump and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Orbán's visit to the White House tomorrow highlights Trump's policy of supporting hard-right heads of state - such as Brazil's Bolsonaro, Colombia's Duque, and Argentina's Macri - whose administrations have been marked by intolerance and abuses of power.

Eighth straight loss for Macri's 'Let's Change' renews calls to break with unpopular president

Elections in Córdoba Province - Argentina's second-largest - gave incumbent Governor Juan Schiaretti a resounding victory, and President Mauricio Macri's right-wing "Let's Change" coalition its eighth straight defeat so far this year.

With 91% of the vote in, Schiaretti won reelection today with 57%, with Macri's candidate, Mario Negri, with 19%, and Ramón Mestre of the centrist UCR (junior partners in 'Let's Change') at just 12%.

While Schiaretti, a centrist within the Justicialist Party (founded by the late populist leader Juan Perón), was widely expected to win today, his lopsided victory was a political sting for Macri, whose surrogates had campaigned extensively for Negri.

Negri, moreover, was unable to run on a united 'Let's Change' ticket because on March 11, the Córdoba UCR broke with the coalition over disaffection with Macri and his handling of the deepest economic crisis since the 2001 collapse.

The UCR fielded Mestre separately instead, and in turn lost control of the city of Córdoba (Argentina's second largest), which elected a Justicialist mayor - Martín Llaryora, who won by 19% - for the first time since 1973.

Tonight's defeat in Córdoba marks the eighth straight defeat in provincial polls for Macri since a February 17 'Let's Change' primary in La Pampa Province yielded an unexpected rebuke for the president's hand-picked candidate, Carlos MacAllister of Macri's hard-right PRO, by UCR Congressman Daniel Kroneberger - and by a lopsided 32%.

The defeat in La Pampa was followed by seven more so far:

∙ Neuquén Province on March 10, where 'Let's Change' lost by 25%
∙ San Juan Province on March 31, by 22%
∙ Chubut Province on April 7, by 18%
∙ Río Negro Province, the same day, by 47%
∙ Entre Ríos Province on April 14, by 21%
∙ Santa Fe Province (the nation's third-largest) on April 28, by 14%
∙ And today's defeat in Córdoba, by 26% (by 38%, taking Negri alone).

Radical departure

This trend, plus Argentina's deepening economic crisis and Macri's 24% approval ratings, have renewed calls by many in the UCR (known in Argentina as "Radicals" despite their moderate politics) to break with Macri entirely when the party meets for their convention on May 27.

Ricardo Alfonsín, who as the son of former President Raúl Alfonsín (elected in 1983 after a ruinous, 7-year dictatorship) wields considerable influence in the UCR, is among those who supports endorsing economist Roberto Lavagna instead - as the UCR already once did in 2007.

"The UCR must form a new front that recovers the confidence and expectations of the people, and that includes socialists, GEN (a small centrist party), and sectors within Peronism," Alfonsín advised.

"If the electoral choices in 2019 are the same as those in 2015, the winner this time will be United Citizens" - in reference to the center-left party founded by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whom recent polls show winning against any potential rival despite not yet announcing her candidacy.

The sentiment was echoed in February by UCR Vice President Federico Storani, a Córdoba Province native.

"We're useful in (Macri's) search for power but can't discuss social policies. When they're in a pickle, they call you for a photo-op and then disappear."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F193472-elecciones-en-cordoba-arraso-el-peronismo



Re-elected Córdoba Province Governor Juan Schiaretti (left) and Martín Llaryora, candidate for mayor of the city of Córdoba (Argentina's second-largest), celebrate their victories tonight.

Their Justicialist Party easily defeated candidates endorsed by President Mauricio Macri, whose right-wing administration - despite staunch support by most corporate media in Argentina - may be denied a second term this October by the sharpest recession since the country's 2001-02 collapse.

The trend - and the crisis itself - has renewed calls among the ruling coalition's junior (and largely ignored) partners, the UCR, to break with Macri altogether.

Argentine lawmaker fights for life after shooting

An Argentine lawmaker has been seriously injured and another man has been killed after being shot in a brazen attack near the congressional building in the country's capital, authorities said Thursday.

Congressman Héctor Olivares, 61, was shot at around 7 a.m. local time. Olivares, who represents La Rioja Province, is being treated at a hospital in Buenos Aires and is in critical condition.

The man killed was identified as Miguel Yadón, 58, a federal electricity agency official for La Rioja. Yadón, an adviser to Olivares and friends since their teenage years, was shot at least six times.

A video of the shooting released by the security minister showed that a parked car was waiting for Yadón and Olivares. The assailants appeared noticeably unhurried and took no precautions against being identified; one exited the car and left on foot.

Olivares belongs to the centrist UCR - junior members of President Mauricio Macri's right-wing "Let's Change" coalition. Before he was shot, he had been discussing a bill against hooliganism in Argentine soccer, which produces some of the best players in the world - but is plagued by entrenched corruption and violence.

Macri, a former head of the Boca Juniors football club (one of the country's most important), has long been dogged by allegations of ties to soccer gangs - known locally as barras bravas.

Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli and Boca Juniors head Daniel Angelici - both longtime Macri confidants - are known to be close to Rafael di Zeo, a top soccer hooligan gang leader. Stornelli was recently charged in the "Extortiongate" scandal involving Argentine intelligence attempts to extract false testimony against opponents, as well as payoffs.

Attacks on politicians are unusual in Argentina, a country of 44 million people, where the news usually centers on an ongoing economic crisis since Macri's carry-trade debt bubble imploded a year ago.

At: https://www.yahoo.com/news/argentina-lawmaker-shot-injured-apparent-attack-132704587.html



Argentine Congressman Héctor Olivares, who remains in critical condition after being shot from a parked vehicle.

The day before, Olivares has sponsored a bill against hooliganism in Argentine soccer - whose ties include those to President Mauricio Macri, a longtime principal in the Boca Juniors football club.

Violating own statutes, IMF authorizes Argentina to use bailout loans to prop up currency

Argentina's Central Bank announced that it would intervene more actively in the currency market, reversing a previous pledge to let the peso float freely within a designated band.

The central bank also reserves the right to sell up to $250 million a day should the peso weaken past 51.45 to the dollar (currently around 46 pesos).

The policy, though publicly endorsed by the IMF, violates the Fund's own Article VI, which bars the use of IMF funds to prop up a local currency.

For countries relying on IMF loans, the only response authorized by Article VI is currency controls - something the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration refuses to consider.

“The IMF has never allowed the use of its own loans to fend off a run on the currency,” former Deputy Economy Minister Emmanuel Álvarez Agis noted.

“But Macri was able to exploit an inconsistency in the (bailout) agreement: The first section has it that you can't manipulate currency markets; but its debt sustainability clause concedes that what would most make the debt unsustainable is a sharp fall in the currency.”

Flagging peso and polls

The central bank is under pressure from Macri, who's entering his re-election campaign amid an economic crisis and 24% approval, to prop up the flagging peso.

Carlos de Sousa of Oxford Economics believes the central bank could burn through $14-18 billion of its gross reserves in a bid to prop up the peso.

After Macri's 2016-17 carry-trade debt bubble imploded in April 2018, the central bank torched $16 billion in reserves between March and September and raised baseline interest rates from 27% to 74%.

The debt crisis forced Macri to turn to the IMF - which granted Argentina a record $56 billion bailout program, only to see the currency lose 56% of its value against the dollar from a year ago.

Argentina’s central bank does not have much room for error.

While IMF loans have swelled Central Bank reserves to $72 billion, net reserves — those actually available, short of seizing dollar deposits, to fend off any potential runs are $22 billion.

Skeptics fear that a return to discretionary intervention could spell disaster for Argentina and set the country on a course to again burn through its dwindling stock of foreign reserves, to no avail.

The crisis would likely be inherited by Macri's successor, who will face around $40 billion in annual debt payments until 2024.

At: https://www.ft.com/content/635058a0-6cdd-11e9-80c7-60ee53e6681d



Labor union members prepare meals in an improvised soup kitchen in Buenos Aires during the May 1st Labor Day celebrations.

Since Macri's 2016-17 carry-trade debt bubble imploded in April 2018, 253,000 jobs have been lost and inflation has more than doubled to nearly 60%.

IMF South America head Roberto Cardarelli reportedly admitted during a monitoring visit in February that the IMF bailout is “unsustainable” and that his “sole mission was to help guarantee Macri's re-election, at Washington's request.”

Thousands of scientists in Argentina strike to protest budget cuts

Scientists from labs across Argentina stayed home yesterday, joining a nationwide strike against the government’s latest round of austerity measures.

One of their key rallying points: a call to restore lost opportunities for young researchers who began their education during a time of high investment in science - but now have little hope of continuing their careers in Argentina.

General strike

The walkout was part of a wider general strike that took place nationwide yesterday - the fifth since the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration took office in late 2015.

Research institute heads estimated thousands of scientists participated.

Since coming to power in 2015, President Macri has cut short efforts by his predecessors to grow the scientific community.

In the latest blow, the National Research Council (CONICET) announced on 5 April that it had a mere 450 new first-time investigator positions available for this year’s roughly 2,600 Ph.D. graduates and former postdocs—leaving a record number of trainees without jobs.

Macri's predecessor, former President Cristina Kirchner, had left office with nearly 1,000 such posts annually, and projections that about 1,400 new CONICET posts would now be available.

Without a position with CONICET, which employs more than 20,000 researchers, young scientists have few opportunities: 253,000 jobs have been lost since Macri's carry-trade debt bubble imploded a year ago.

And salaries for those lucky enough to get a job this year will be worth roughly half as much as they were in 2015, because research salaries have failed to keep up with inflation currently running at 55%.

At: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/thousands-scientists-argentina-strike-protest-budget-cuts



Marchers flooded the streets of Buenos Aires and of cities nationwide today to protest President Mauricio Macri’s austerity measures.

Despite deep cuts, Argentina's federal budget deficit is up 25% so far this year, as the deepest recession since the 2001 collapse erodes revenues.

Brazil is governed by 'gang of madmen', says former President Lula da Silva

Speaking in his first interview since he was imprisoned a year ago, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva said the country is governed by a “gang of madmen.”

The leftist ex-leader, 73, is serving an almost nine year sentence for alleged bribery. He reiterated his innocence and told newspapers El País (Spain) and Folha de Sao Paulo he is “obsessed with unmasking” those behind his conviction.

“I know very well the place history holds for me,” said Lula, “And I also know who will be in the dumpster.”

“It can’t be that this country is governed by this gang of madmen,” Lula said of President Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right administration. “The country - and above all the people - don’t deserve that.”

Bolsonaro took office in January, defeating Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad in an October runoff by 10%. Haddad replaced Lula after he was banned from running. Polls showed Lula winning handily, had he been allowed to run.

The former president was convicted as part of Operation Car Wash, a corruption probe into state oil firm Petrobras. Lacking material evidence, his conviction was based solely on testimony from jailed contractors.

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

Argentina

Lula also commented on neighboring Argentina's elections this year, where incumbent President Mauricio Macri - whom Bolsonaro recently endorsed - faces an economic crisis and 24% approval.

“I'm rooting for Cristina to win the elections,” he said in reference to former President Cristina Kirchner, who was recently revealed to be a target of a smear campaign by Argentine intelligence - and whom, despite not yet announcing, polls show she would win handily.

“I worked with Presidents (Néstor) Kirchner and Cristina, and they were very good for the people of Argentina.”

At: https://www.thesundaily.my/world/brazil-is-governed-by-gang-of-madmen-says-former-president-lula-EK826053



Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva makes a point during his April 26 interview - the first he's been allowed to give since his imprisonment a year ago.

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.

Poof, they're gone: Massachusetts coal power plant towers demolished in seconds

In a matter of seconds, two 500-foot cooling towers from Massachusetts’ last coal-fired power plant have been reduced to rubble.

The controlled demolition went off as scheduled at 8 a.m. Saturday at the former Brayton Point Station in Somerset. Live video showed the giant towers along Mount Hope Bay implode and a large cloud of dust rise into the air.

The plant had burned coal since 1963. It closed in 2017 as environmental groups pushed for cleaner sources of energy generation.

The new owners of the property plan to turn the site into a multi-use facility mainly dedicated to supporting off-shore wind farms.

At: https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2019/04/27/poof-theyre-gone-massachusetts-power-plant-towers-demolished-in-seconds



The two 500-foot concrete cooling towers at the former Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, MA, during today's controlled implosion

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's memoir, 'Sinceramente', hits the shelves

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's eagerly anticipated new book, Sinceramente ('Sincerely'), has been released to the public.

Mainly an overview of her 2007-15 presidency, many are eager to see if Sinceramente confirms whether or not she's planning another bid for the presidency.

Sparking further speculation this week, the former president announced that she will present the book in person at the 45th Buenos Aires International Book Fair on May 9.

Kirchner, 66, has neither confirmed nor denied her candidacy. Despite a concerted media, government - and, it was recently revealed, intelligence-run extortion - campaign against her, recent polls show her besting incumbent President Mauricio Macri by 9 points.

The book, around 600 pages, went on sale on opening day at the book fair and at selected bookshops across the country. All other stores should be be stocking it today.

Its initial print run was said to be around 20,000, with many bookstores reporting having copies sold out within hours. Those selling the book at the fair said it was one of the best-selling items.

Local outlets reported Friday that another print run of some 40,000 had been ordered.

The book is also a needed boost for Argentina's publishing industry, which since Macri took office has fallen from 83 million books in 2015, to 43 million last year - the lowest since 2003.

Book sales were down another 12% in the first quarter of 2019.

Chaos

"Macri is chaos, that's why I firmly believe that Argentina needs to be sorted out," Kirchner writes.

The peso has lost 56% of its value against the dollar since Macri's carry-trade debt bubble imploded a year ago this week, pushing inflation from 25% to 55%, central bank rates from 27% to 72%, and sending real wages down 17% and GDP down 6.2% - the second recession since Macri took office.

The resulting debt crisis forced Macri to go 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.

"Today the country is in complete political, economic, social and cultural regression," Kirchner writes in the introduction. "And I hope that, by reading these pages, we can think and discuss without hate, without lies and without grievances."

At: http://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/cristina-fernandez-de-kirchners-book-sinceramente-hits-the-shelves.phtml



Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her newly-published memoir, Sinceramente ('Sincerely').

The book, mostly reflections on her 2007-15 presidency, is seen by many as her candidacy announcement for this year's presidential elections, which recent polls show she'd likely win.

But despite the June 22 filing deadline, Mrs. Kirchner has remained non-committal, and may endorse a fellow center-left Peronist instead.
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