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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 12:36 PM
Number of posts: 8,078

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Unemployment is rising in eight Trump states; polls show some have turned on him

Unemployment rates edged up year over year in Mississippi, Arizona, North Carolina, Indiana, South Carolina, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

All eight states went to Trump in 2016.

Trump’s net approval rating remains high in most of these states. But more people in Arizona and North Carolina disapprove of his job as president than approve, according to the latest Morning Consult poll.

It's unlikely that all eight states, which have a combined 73 electoral votes, would flip to the Democratic candidate in 2020.

Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, but won in the Electoral College thanks in large part to victories in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, which all voted for Democrat Barack Obama twice. Employment edged up year over year in all three states.

At: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/21/unemployment-rising-in-8-states-that-voted-for-trump.html

Trump regales Mississippi supporters with his tall tales last year.

At +17%, his net approval in Mississippi is the highest in the nation. The state's stagnant economy tells a different story.

Berlin backs five-year rent freeze amid housing pressure

Berlin's left-wing government of Social Democratic Mayor Michael Müller has approved a plan to freeze rents in the German capital for the next five years.

Rents have risen sharply in the city and there have been rallies urging the authorities to keep housing affordable.

The plan is expected to become law in January. It could apply to 1.4 million properties, but not to social housing - regulated separately - or new builds.

The average monthly rent for a furnished Berlin flat is about €1,100 (£983; $1,232).

Berlin rents however rose by 7% in the first quarter of this year, and in the past decade rents have doubled as the booming city has become a magnet for job seekers.

At: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48677393

Berlin's Social Democratic Mayor Michael Müller: Cohesiveness counts.

New York lawmakers OK marijuana decriminalization

Source: Washington Times

Lawmakers in New York state have voted to eliminate criminal penalties for public possession and use of marijuana after efforts to legalize pot stalled.

The measure would reduce low-level criminal charges for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation, which comes with a fine similar to a parking ticket. The penalty would be $50 for possessing less than one ounce of pot or $200 for one to two ounces.

In an effort to address decades of racial disparities in drug arrests, the bill would also allow for the expungement of past convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, proposed his own plan for legalization earlier this year. He said he’ll sign the decriminalization bill, noting that he called for a similar step five years ago.

Read more: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jun/21/new-york-lawmakers-ok-pot-decriminalization/

New York Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey, D-Bronx (left) fist bumps Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, D-Buffalo, after Bailey’s legislation expanding decriminalization legislation for marijuana passed on June 20.

Gov. Cuomo has indicated he'll sign the bill.

Argentina's Macrisis: Unemployment reaches 10.1% - highest in 13 years

Data published today by Argentina's Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC) show that the nation's unemployment rate rose in the first quarter to 10.1%.

The rate represents a 1.0% increase from the 9.1% recorded in the previous quarter - and the highest since a 10.2% rate in the third quarter of 2006, as the country was recovering from its 2001-02 collapse.

INDEC also reported GDP fell 5.8% in the first quarter of 2019 from the same time last year. Domestic demand fell 12.4%, of which fixed investment (construction and machinery) collapsed by 24.6%.

Some 296,000 registered jobs were lost between January 2018 and March 2019 - equivalent to 2.2 million jobs lost in the U.S.

The data showed that the incidence of unregistered labor rose from 33.9% of the total to 35% - indicating that unemployment would be higher but for growing reliance on often precarious self-employment.

Inflation in May meanwhile reached 57.4%, with wholesale prices up 68.5%. Real wages were down 11.3% in March from the same time last year - and 18.6% from their high point in November 2015.

Some 58% of Argentines fear losing their job according to a recent study, while 75% report losing purchasing power.

Bicycle crash

The latest unemployment data represent a sharp increase from the 5.9% inherited by Macri in late 2015, when he was narrowly elected on promises to spark sluggish growth with deregulation and tax cuts.

Costly corporate tax cuts failed to spur investment or exports, and $68 billion has instead left the country since he took office. Macri resorted to foreign borrowing to cover said losses, more than doubling Argentina's public foreign debt to over $200 billion.

A $60 billion carry-trade debt bubble known locally as the "financial bicycle" ultimately collapsed in April 2018, triggering the current crisis and forcing Macri to resort to a record, $57 billion IMF bailout.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicargentina.com%2Fnotas%2F201906%2F29495-el-peor-dato-el-gobierno-de-macri-llevo-la-desocupacion-a-los-2-digitos.html

Pedestrians walk by a homeless encampment in Buenos Aires' financial district.

The city's living standard was second only to neighboring Montevideo among large Latin American cities. But rising unemployment and 60% inflation rates has doubled the number of homeless since Macri took office in late 2015.

EU court declares Germany's highway tolls illegal

The European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that highway tolls in Germany are illegal because they unfairly penalize drivers from other European Union countries.

The Luxembourg court’s ruling means Germany will have to drop or revise its highway toll system.

The case was brought by Austria, which complained that the levies of up to 130 euros ($146) a year are discriminatory and therefore illegal under EU law.

All motorists have to pay the toll according to their vehicle’s size and engine type - but German taxpayers can file for refunds.

At: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-court-declares-germanys-highway-tolls-illegal/2019/06/18/78577fbe-91b6-11e9-956a-88c291ab5c38_story.html

Complicit bureaucrats and locals get fast-track treatment from then-Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt in a Austrian cartoon lampooning German toll roads.

Argentina's nationwide power outage puts Macri electricity interests in spotlight

The historic blackout that left nearly all of Argentina - and parts of neighboring countries - without electric power most of Sunday, June 16, could not be explained by the government.

"There are no reasons for this to have happened; but the reality is that it happened," Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui noted - a full 7 hours after the blackout began.

But the nationwide blackout - unprecedented in Argentine history - has raised new questions about the role of President Mauricio Macri's business interests in his country's electricity market, as well as those of close business associates and personal friends.

The Argentine Interconnection System (SADI) is managed by Transener, owned by Macri's friend and partner, Marcelo Mindlin - whose Pampa Energía conglomerate is one of the largest Argentine private firms of any type.

The firm that connects Argentina's largest hydroelectric dam, Yacyretá, with SADI is Yacylec - owned by the Macri Group since the electric grid was first privatized in 1993.

Sunday's systemic power failure was determined to have originated in Transener and Yacylec lines running from the Yacyretá and Salto Grande dams, both in NE Argentina.

Macri's sale of the state's 25% share of Transener to Mindlin last year led to a criminal complaint for conflict of interest; Yacylec, for its part, is reported to owe $10 million in unpaid taxes.

The nation's two largest electric utilities are likewise controlled by close Macri associates: Edenor (the largest) by Mindlin; and Edesur by Nicolás Caputo - Macri's best friend, and the beneficiary of the president's latest privatization: the 420-MW Brigadier López power plant.

The result has been underinvestment: Power utility watchdog CEPIS noted that outages this summer (January) had jumped 59% despite 3000% electricity rate hikes in the three years up to that point.

This despite a relatively mild summer, and a 16.5% fall in power demand as a result of both the rate hikes and the worst recession since Argentina's 2001-02 collapse.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fkontrainfo.com%2Fapagon-historico-la-desmentida-de-yacyreta-macri-y-mindlin-detras-de-la-corrupcion-de-yacylec-y-transener%2F

Macri and his chief business partners Marcelo Mindlin (left) and Nicolás Caputo (right).

Mindlin and Caputo are the chief shareholders in Argentina top electric companies, making them the chief beneficiaries of Macri's 3000% rate hikes. The Macris, in turn, are minority partners with each.

The distributors directly tied to today's blackout, Transener and Yacylec, are controlled by Mindlin and Macri respectively.

Mothers of Plaza de Mayo leader Nora Cortinas: "Thanks to cannabis, I can still march"

In an interview with the Buenos Aires online journal Infobae, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo leader Nora Cortiñas revealed that "thanks to cannabis, I can still march."

"I told someone my left leg hurt a lot," the renowned, 89 year-old Argentine human rights advocate recalled. "That person mentioned to me that cannabis could help me."

Cortiñas co-founded the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo days after losing her then-24 year-old son, Carlos, in April 1977 - at the depths of the Dirty War against dissidents.

According to dictatorship officials themselves, at least 22,000 perished from 1975 to 1978. They are known worldwide as the "disappeared."

Forty-two years of marches on the Plaza de Mayo (the square facing Argentina's presidential offices) and elsewhere in the Mothers' quest for justice took their toll however:

Frequent leg, hip, and sciatic pain threatened to sideline the tireless Mrs. Cortiñas, or to relying on a wheelchair. She credits her friend's gift of a container of cannabis cream for her recovery.

"I started applying it, and within a month or two, the pain subsided. When I get severe sciatic nerve pain, I apply it and in a couple of days it calms the pain. It works."

While Cortiñas "never liked the idea of marijuana," she revealed she now keeps a few plants at home and has become a vocal advocate for its medicinal use.

High-handed tactics

Argentina legalized cannabis oil for medicinal purposes in 2017 - a bill signed by President Mauricio Macri but opposed by his hard-line Security Minister, Patricia Bullrich.

Bullrich was recently revealed by the ongoing 'Extortiongate' case (into the alleged use of intelligence services to both frame opponents and extract payoffs) to target cannabis and narcotics for political credit.

"Bullrich is so ignorant that she says any nonsense," Cortiñas asserted. "She's only good at repression, brutality and to buy weapons - but she doesn't know the reality of health in Argentina."

Former President José “Pepe” Mujica made neighboring Uruguay, in 2013, the first nation in the world to legalize the cultivation, sale, and use of marijuana - medicinal or not.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.infonews.com%2Fnota%2F323953%2Fnora-cortinas-gracias-al-cannabis-puedo

Mothers of Plaza de Mayo leader Nora Cortiñas gives a thumbs up during a 2017 march commemorating the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the renowned human rights advocacy group.

The 89 year-old Cortiñas, who in 1977 lost her 24 year-old son to the dictatorship's Dirty War against dissidents, feared that worsening chronic pain would sideline her from future marches.

A friend's gift of cannabis cream changed all that. "I wish I could buy it in the pharmacy," she says.

Franco Zeffirelli, Italian director known for "Romeo and Juliet," dies at 96

Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, who delighted audiences around the world with his romantic vision and extravagant productions, most famously captured in his cinematic "Romeo and Juliet" and the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth," died Saturday in his Rome residence at 96.

While Zeffirelli was most popularly known for his films, his name was also inextricably linked to the theater and opera. He produced classics for the world's most famous opera houses, from Milan's venerable La Scala to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and plays for London and Italian stages.

Zeffirelli made it his mission to make culture accessible to the masses, often seeking inspiration in Shakespeare and other literary greats for his films, and producing operas aimed at TV audiences. Claiming no favorites, Zeffirelli once likened himself to a sultan with a harem of three: film, theater and opera.

His best known films include Romeo and Juliet (1968), Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1971), Jesus of Nazareth (1977), Endless Love (1981), Hamlet (1990), and Tea with Mussolini (1999).

"I am not a film director. I am a director who uses different instruments to express his dreams and his stories – to make people dream," Zeffirelli told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview.

At: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/franco-zeffirelli-dies-96-italian-director-known-for-romeo-and-juliet/

Franco Zeffirelli, 1923-2019.

Gifted in film making but controversial in life, his homophobic statements (as a gay man) and lurch to the right alienated him from many of his colleagues.

Brazilians protest pension reform as Bolsonaro faces first general strike

A nationwide strike called by Brazil's trade unions disrupted public transport and triggered roadblocks across the country Friday, ahead of protests against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's pension reform plans.

Hours before the opening match of the Copa America in São Paulo, some metro lines in the country's biggest city were paralyzed as professors and students protested planned education spending cuts as well.

It will be the latest mass demonstration against Bolsonaro since he took office in January - but the timing could not be worse for the embattled president as Brazil prepares to play Bolivia in South America's showcase football tournament.

Bolsonaro's right-wing administration is now languishing at around 35% job approval just five months after taking office. Rejection of increasingly authoritarian tactics is being exacerbated by an economic downturn:

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%.

At: https://www.france24.com/en/20190614-brazil-cities-paralysed-bolsonaro-general-strike-pension-reform

Brazilian demonstrators gather under a sign calling on lawmakers to "stop Bolsonaro's pension reform."

The initiative, inherited from the 2016-18 Temer dictatorship, increases contribution requirements and minimum retirement ages - as well as cutting average pensions by up to 40%.

Following successive raises during the Workers' Party era (2003-16), the average monthly pension in Brazil stands at $467 - one of the highest in Latin America.

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.
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