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Argentine political prisoner Milagro Sala found unconscious

Argentine Indigenous activist Milagro Sala, who has been detained for over two years on orders from a political opponent, was found unconscious this morning.

She was transferred by ambulance to Pablo Soria General Hospital in the provincial capital of Jujuy, a 40 minute drive north of her detention site in the small town of El Carmen.

Sala, 54, was ordered arrested on January 16, 2016, by Governor Gerardo Morales on charges of “inciting violence” - a charge that was later dropped. Fraud charges were then issued - but after two years, remain unsubstantiated.

Morales is a close ally of the right-wing administration of President Mauricio Macri, whom Amnesty International criticized in its latest annual review for attacks on indigenous peoples, including at least two deaths, and the use of arbitrary detention.

Political prisoner

Amnesty International considers Sala a political prisoner, citing lack of evidence and irregularities such as the use of bribed witnesses - including an illiterate man who was later awarded a public contract and an ex-convict who was released, after testifying against Sala, despite serving a murder sentence.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled on October 21, 2016, that Sala's detention is in fact arbitrary, and urged Macri to release her immediately. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) did likewise on December 4.

Reports of mistreatment in prison led the IACHR to issue a July 28, 2017, ruling ordering Morales to grant Sala house arrest. IACHR rulings are legally binding in Argentina.

Morales initially resisted the ruling, and then “complied” on August 31 by having her moved to an abandoned house lacking doors, windows, basic amenities, or connections to public utilities.

Sala's co-op, Tupac Amaru, made the house livable with private donations.

Morales retaliated on June 5 by expelling Tumac Amaru from its Jujuy headquarters, and transferring it to a political crony, José Luis Estrada.

IACHR President Francisco Eguiguren compared Sala's case to that of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was arrested on incitement charges in 2014 and who following international appeals was transferred to house arrest in July 2017.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=en&tl=es&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.diarioregistrado.com%2Fsociedad-%2Fhallan-inconsciente-a-milagro-sala_a5b60a4df03e8eb343ca0beb9&edit-text=

Milagro Sala and Pope Francis in happier days. International human rights groups consider her detention arbitrary.

As Argentina's Macri attempts progressive makeover, millions are spent on abstinence advocate

As Argentina's Senate debates legalizing elective abortion, President Mauricio Macri has come under fire after proof emerged that his Social Development Ministry budgeted over 121 million pesos ($4.3 million) this year to a non-profit run by a far-right abstinence advocate, Dr. Abel Albino.

Albino, 71, considers sex "addictive," masturbation "a tyranny," homosexuality "a disease," and contraception "assisted fornication plans."

A member of the ultra-conservative Catholic sect Opus Dei, he opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life.

Speaking during Senate testimony on July 25, Albino defended his stance on reproductive rights by claiming that "condoms protect against nothing, since HIV can go through porcelain."

Macri, whose approval has plummeted to around 30% amid the worst recession since 2002, has attempted to win back moderate voters by hinting he'd sign the elective abortion bill should the Senate approve it.

A very good job

Documents show that Albino's CONIN Foundation has already received 62 million pesos ($4 million at the time) during Macri's first two years in office (2016 and 2017).

The funds, earmarked for "childhood malnutrion prevention," are in sharp contrast to Macri's cuts in nutrition assitance and school lunch programs, which according to activists has led to 5 million fewer liters of milk for poor children this year amid rising demand.

Albino has described poverty as a matter of "genetic potential" and "mental weakness."

Malnutrition, he believes, "is a cultural disease that occurs in places where sex takes place compulsively."

A 2009 study of CONIN's nutrition programs show no significant difference in height and weight outcomes between children enrolled in CONIN and the control group.

Speaking in Johannesburg during the BRICS summit earlier this week, Macri nevertheless defended Albino as doing a "very good job."

Reproductive health avocates have condemned Macri for cutting HIV prevention and treatment spending, and for eliminating the National Sexual Health and Responsible Parenthood Program - a program established by Congress in 2002.

Both cuts had been advocated by Dr. Albino.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F131088-amigos-son-los-amigos-en-las-buenas-y-en-las-malas&edit-text=

Macri and his unofficial health minister, Dr. Abel Albino, whose foundation has received over $8 million in federal funds since 2016 despite deep cuts elsewhere in the health budget.

Argentina's best-known abstinence crusader, Albino rails against sex - but seems to enjoy screwing taxpayers.

Argentina's Macrisis: GDP plummets 5.8% in May, worst since 2002 collapse

Data published today by Argentina's National Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC) show that the nation's GDP fell by 5.8% in May compared to the same time last year.

The contraction in the region's third-largest economy was the most severe since October 2002, at the depths of a financial collapse and the largest sovereign default up to then.

Most of the decline this year, according to INDEC, came from agriculture, which plummeted 35% amid the worst drought since 2009. Industrial ouput fell 1.9% amid a 47% prime rate - the highest since 2002.

The economy had recovered from the 2016 recession with 2.9% growth last year. Since then, some 155,000 jobs have been lost from January to May - pushing unemployment up to 9.1%.

The loss is equivalent to 1.2 million jobs lost in the U.S.

Recurring recession

This is the second recession since President Mauricio Macri took office in late 2015.

The current downturn, which began in April, put May GDP 4.9% below the same month in 2015 - the year Macri was narrowly elected promising to spark growth with deregulation and tax cuts.

But a sharp devaluation and utility hikes of over 1000% have hampered the economy and added to already high inflation: Prices have risen 30% from last year, and 115% since Macri was elected - with real wages falling an estimated 13%.

Costly corporate tax cuts failed to spur investment or exports, and nearly $54 billion instead left the country over the past 30 months - $3 billion in June alone.

Argentine foreign debt, as of March, in turn rose 70% to $254 billion, with the public sector's share doubling to $176 billion.

These totals exclude $15 billion drawn from the IMF credit line on June 22 - part of a $50 billion bailout the IMF offered as a credit line in exchange for deep budget cuts which opponents see as both unconstitutional and recessionary.

Troops as cops

Today's GDP data comes a day after Macri signed a decree allowing the nation's armed forces to engage in law enforcement and domestic intelligence - a decree likewise condemned as unconstitutional by most of Argentina's political spectrum.

"It's no coincidence," opposition senators noted, "that now that the situation is rapidly worsening, Macri resorts to law-and-order rhetoric in order to degrade democracy and the rule of law."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.baenegocios.com%2Feconomia-finanzas%2FLa-actividad-economica-se-desplomo-58-en-mayo-20180724-0013.html&edit-text=

Argentines line up last week at a free produce stand organized by small growers as a protest against both the crisis and Macri's austerity policies.

Large landowners have been spared austerity, and will insetad see further tax cuts this year.

Argentina's Macri decrees domestic law enforcement role for armed forces

Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced the signing of two decrees today extending domestic security and intelligence duties for the nation's armed forces.

The decrees rescind a 30 year-old ban on the use of military personnel in law enforcement roles, a bill passed by Argentina's Congress in 1988 and signed by then President Raúl Alfonsín in response to human rights atrocities in the 1970s.

Alfonsín had been elected to office in 1983, following a seven-year military dictatorship that, according to declassified records, left at least 22,000 dissidents killed. Most were known to be non-violent, and some were killed for personal reasons or in order to seize their property or businesses.

Human rights groups have condemned today's decrees as both authoritarian and unconstitutional.

The nation's leading human rights advocacy group, the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) points to Macri's "policy of creating domestic enemies" - a policy that resulted in the murder of two indigenous activists by Gendarmerie forces last year, and in over 20 opponents jailed without charges, evidence and/or trial for over two years in some cases.

"I believe the decrees will be declared unconstitutional," Argentine constitutional lawyer Eduardo Barcesat said. "They resorted to 'decrees of necessity' in order to avoid debate in Congress, as if this were a simple administrative decision when what it does is change current legislation."

Macri, who announced the decrees this morning at an army base north of Buenos Aires, gave few specifics, referring instead to the need to "secure our country's sovereignty and integrity" - a claim rejected by opposition figures, given Macri's relinquishing of economic policy to the IMF last month as part of a $50 billion bailout.

The decrees were signed just hours after the closing of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Buenos Aires this weekend, during which Macri repeatedly assured attendees that "Argentina has left the past behind."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Feduardo-barcesat-creo-que-se-va-declarar-la-inconsticionalidad-del-decreto-n46805&edit-text=

Argentina's Macri pauses as he announces decrees giving the nation's armed forces law enforcement and intelligence powers for the first time in 30 years.

The announcement came with promises of military wage increases - following the cancellation of this year's independence day parade due to discontent over an 8% hike amid 36% inflation.

G20 finance ministers meet in Argentina as trade dominates agenda

G20 finance ministers meet this weekend in Buenos Aires in their first meeting since global trade tensions moved beyond rhetoric into a volley of tariffs and counter-tariffs.

Trade will dominate the agenda in the Argentine capital, with much attention likely to be focused on U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as he looks to "respond to concerns on U.S. trade policies" at the gathering of finance ministers and central bankers from the world's 20 leading economies.

The EU, China, and Canada will be among those represented, with all of those having come into direct conflict with the trade polices of U.S. President Donald Trump in recent weeks and months.

The U.S. and China have placed $34 billion worth of tariffs and counter-tariffs on each other. More is expected to follow, with the U.S. also placing tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU, Canada, and Mexico - resulting in further counter-tariffs from those trade partners.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Christine Lagarde warned that the current tensions over trade present "the greatest near-term threat" to the world economy.

Host country in crisis

Aside from the trade issues, the meeting will also address crises threatening a number of emerging economies - not least in host nation Argentina, which recently accepted a $50 billion IMF credit line to try to stabilize its economy.

The agreement - and Lagarde's presence in Buenos Aires - has prompted protests from President Mauricio Macri's largely center-left opposition.

They note that besides overriding Congress' budgetary authority, the terms do little to curb a record $31 billion current account deficit - projected to reach $40 billion this year.

Current account deficits ballooned after Macri - with IMF support - moved to liberalize imports and finance, leading to record trade deficits and capital flight in 2017.

These deficits were largely financed with foreign debt - up 70% to $254 billion since Macri took office in late 2015. Public sector foreign debt has in turn doubled as of March to $176 billion.

That excludes $15 billion drawn from the IMF credit line on June 22 - enough to finance just four months of capital flight at the current rate.

The Argentine economy, which grew 2.9% last year, has meanwhile plunged into a severe recession - shrinking 2.7% in April alone.

This would be the 2nd recession since Macri took office.

At: https://www.dw.com/en/g20-finance-ministers-meet-in-argentina-as-trade-dominates-agenda/a-44758427

Demonstrators march against IMF head Christine Lagarde, who is in Buenos Aires for the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The IMF, which had backed Macri's deregulation, is now bailing Argentina out in exchange for deep cuts in subsidies, revenue sharing, and public works - but no tax increases on the wealthy or curbs on imports or capital flight.

Adrian Joseph Cronauer, DJ Robin Williams played in 'Good Morning Vietnam,' dies

Source: Newsweek

Adrian Joseph Cronauer, the U.S. war veteran portrayed by Robin Williams in the 1987 hit movie Good Morning, Vietnam, died on Wednesday aged 79, an obituary has confirmed.

Cronauer, a former U.S. Air Force sergeant, co-authored the original story for the well-regarded comedy-drama, which was set in 1965 Saigon. It detailed the story of a radio DJ whose antics with news reading, humor and rock and roll angered his military bosses, but was loved by troops.

Over the course of his life, his military achievements were vast.

“Cronauer served as a confidential advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) from 2001 through 2009,” the obituary stated. “He represented the POW/MIA Office at meetings within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and at various outside functions including liaison with the leadership of veteran’s service organizations as well as family and activist groups," it continued.

“He had lead responsibility for DPMO’s dealings with international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Tripartite Commission.

“For his efforts, he holds the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service.”

Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/adrian-joseph-cronauer-dj-robin-williams-played-in-good-morning-vietnam-dies/ar-AAAilV8

Adrian Cronauer (1938-2018) and Robin Williams after the 1987 release of Good Morning, Vietnam.

Israeli parliament passes bill defining country as the nation-state of the Jewish people

Source: Los Angeles Times

The Israeli parliament has passed a controversial bill defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people, granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities and downgrading Arabic from an official language to one with a “special status.”

The bill passed at 3 a.m. Thursday, squeezing by with 62 votes out of 120. The new law defines Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish nation, with “a singular right to national self-determination within it.”

Arab members of Israel’s parliament confronted Netanyahu as he left the venue.

“You passed an apartheid law, a racist law!” shouted Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Arab Joint List. “Why are you afraid of the Arabic language?”

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-israel-nation-state-bill-20180718-story.html

Separate but equal? Jewish and Arab Israelis together in Jaffa.

Goodwill projector reveals treasure trove of mysterious photos

A treasure trove of slides Kristie Baeumert found last month on a projector she bought at her local Goodwill store in North Georgia, left her with many questions: Who are the people? What did they do? And most importantly, how can she find them and return their pictures?

"The more I looked at them, the more I wanted to know their story," says Baeumert, who lives in Fairburn, Georgia. "These pictures are part of their family's story," she says. "They should have these memories to pass down and tell their story."

The memories cost $14.97.

Baeumert was at the Goodwill store looking for items to add in a vintage camper she's restoring. The Argus 300 Model III slide projector on the electronics aisle caught her attention.

When she got home and looked at the slides, she was so fascinated by the family photos, she invited her friends over to look at them.

Baeumert's hoping the photos, which appear to date from the 1950s and '60s, will unlock priceless memories for a family. Her original Facebook post (https://www.facebook.com/kristiebaeumert/posts/10155745030069492) asking for help finding the family has been shared over 3,000 times.

At: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/goodwill-projector-reveals-treasure-trove-of-mysterious-photos/ar-AAAb7jh?OCID=ansmsnnews11

One of the treasure trove of mid-century slides recently found by Kristie Beaumert in a Georgia Goodwill. She hopes to locate the family to whom they belong.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez prompts outrage in US for accurately referring to Israel's 'occupation'

Source: The Independent

Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has described Israel’s presence in the West Bank as an “occupation”, in a marked deviation from the pro-Israel line taken by both Democratic and Republican parties.

Israel has been occupying the West Bank territory since the 1967 Middle East war, according to the United Nations (UN), and most countries regard the continued building of Jewish settlements in the disputed territory as illegal.

But for the last two decades, the establishment wings of both the Republican and Democratic Party have largely taken pro-Israel positions, with both calling for the disputed city of Jerusalem to be recognised as the Jewish nation’s capital.

“What people are starting to see, at least in the occupation of Palestine, is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue,” Ms. Ocasio Cortez told PBS News during a television interview,

Read more: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/alexandria-ocasiocortez-israel-palestine-occupation-us-west-bank-outrage-us-a8450781.html

France beats Croatia to win World Cup for the second time

Source: USA Today

France powered its way to the second World Cup title in its history on Sunday, storming past Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium in a dominant 4-2 triumph.

An early own goal from Croatia's Mario Mandzukic - the first ever in a World Cup final - set France on its way, with Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe also getting on the scoresheet.

After suffering the disappointment of losing the 2016 European Championship semifinal on home soil, the result gave Les Blues redemption, 20 years after capturing its first World Cup crown.

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/soccer/worldcup/2018/07/15/france-wins-world-cup-final-croatia/786415002/

Les Bleus celebrate their World Cup victory. They defeated Croatia 4 to 2.
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