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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
May 31, 2019

Hillary, Chelsea Clinton plan Hollywood production company

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton plan to create a Hollywood production company, according to a Thursday Bloomberg report.

The Clintons have met with studios about financing, per Bloomberg, which said that the former secretary of State and her activist daughter "plan to focus on stories by and about women."

Discussions about the formation of the yet-to-be-named company are said to be in the early stages.

Hillary Clinton has had experience working with high-powered Tinseltown figures in the past, including director and producer Steven Spielberg for “The Woman’s Hour," a film adaptation of the acclaimed book that looked back on female activists and their fight to give women the right the vote under the 19th Amendment.

At: https://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/446248-hillary-chelsea-clinton-plan-hollywood-production-company

Chelsea and Hillary Clinton: Hollywood ending?
May 29, 2019

National strike paralyzes Argentina amid economic woes

Argentine unions held a national strike Wednesday, forcing banks to shut their doors, airlines to ground flights and a soccer final to be postponed amid growing anger over President Mauricio Macri’s economic management.

Argentina’s biggest labor union federations, the CGT and CTA, launched the one-day strike as Macri faces a backlash months before a presidential election in October.

While the CGT and CTA did not call for demonstrations, numerous marchers were injured by rubber bullets.

Many Argentines are upset over a sharp recession and rising prices for food and utilities. 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 a 2016-17 carry-trade debt bubble, some 283,000 registered jobs have been lost as of February - equivalent to 2.1 million jobs lost in the U.S.

Today's general strike was the sixth since Macri was elected in late 2015 on promises to jump-start sluggish growth with tax cuts and deregulation.

Critics note that his policies have instead led to a massive debt crisis, an IMF bailout, and the deepest recession since the 2001-02 collapse.

"People are asking us to send a message to the government, for them to stop creating smokescreens," CGT head Carlos Acuña said.

"This is not political; it's not against anyone. It is a demand for the situation to change so we may work with dignity."

At: https://www.wsj.com/articles/national-strike-paralyzes-argentina-amid-economic-woes-11559160328

"Because there's no other way," a sign posted by bank workers announcing today's general strike overlooks a quiet scene during a normally hectic weekday in Buenos Aires' financial district.

Macri's economic policies, which first created a financial bubble in 2016-17, followed by a collapse and a hike in interest rates to over 70% to help stymie capital flight, have been blamed for a sharp rise in layoffs and business failures over the last year.

Elections this October show opposition candidate Alberto Fernández defeating Macri by around 11%.
May 27, 2019

Texas Senate approves bill allowing Texans to carry guns for week after natural disasters

Source: Fox News

The Texas Senate on Sunday approved a bill that would allow any Texan who can legally own a firearm to be able to carry it either open or concealed for seven days after the state declares a natural disaster, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The bill, which was narrowly passed 16-15, has been hotly contested. Three Republicans voted against the measure, including Sen. Joan Huffman, R- Houston.

The paper reported that she questioned House Bill 1177’s effect on policing after a powerful storm.

“It’s really, really poor public policy that is not well thought out,” she said, according to the paper.

Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/texas-senate-approves-bill-allowing-texans-to-carry-guns-for-week-after-natural-disasters-report

What could go wrong?
May 24, 2019

Deaths of four youths questions Macri policy of allowing police to fire on fleeing persons

A dozen Argentine police officers have been suspended pending a probe into the deaths of four youths during a chase in which shots were fired into their car, officials said Thursday.

The incident happened Monday night when a car with five local youths failed to stop on police orders in the small town of San Miguel del Monte, about an hour's drive south of Buenos Aires.

Police pursued the car and then fired several shots into it from close range, after which it crashed into a parked truck. The chase, captured on security cameras, showed an officer leaning out the window of the patrol car and pointing into the vehicle, just before the crash.

Four people - three teens and the 22 year-old driver - were killed. The only survivor, a 13-year-old girl, is in serious condition in hospital.

"Thousands of theories come to us," Lucas Sanguineti, uncle of the sole survivor, Rocío Guagliarello, said.

"That the policeman had stopped them to ask for money, that the boys saw something they should not have seen. In any case, we can't believe what happened. Four dead children, with a life ahead of them - and with Rocío now full of tubes."

The police they want

The tragedy, now known as the San Miguel del Monte Massacre, has put the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration on the defensive over their policy of giving police broader powers.

Critics point to a decree signed by Macri on December 3 authorizing federal officers to use lethal force against fleeing suspects - a radical change in Argentine law, which since 1983 authorizes police use of gunfire only when their own lives or those of others are in danger.

Since Macri took office in late 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has expressed concern over the excessive and indiscriminate use of force - as well as over the use of indefinite detention against critics and opponents.

Former Security Minister Cecilia Rodríguez placed the blame squarely on her successor, Patricia Bullrich, who has publicly backed officers facing murder charges after shooting unarmed suspects.

"Faced with the irrationality of such cases, she and the president sit with these policemen on television."

"This shows the type of police they want."

At: https://news.yahoo.com/argentine-police-probed-youths-killed-chase-193248824.html

San Miguel del Monte Massacre victims, from left: Camila López (13), Gonzalo Domínguez (14), Danilo Sansone (13), and Aníbal Suárez (22). A fifth teen, Rocío Guagliarello (13), remains in critical condition.

Their deaths during a police chase, during which officers fired repeatedly despite the youths' being unarmed and not having engaged in any illegalities, has put the Macri administration on the defensive over its policy of allowing police gunfire against fleeing persons.

Since Macri took office in 2015, the number of deaths at the hands of police has risen from 300 annually to over 450.
May 23, 2019

UK suffers major UN defeat over Chagos Islands decolonization

Source: CNN

The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn the UK's continued occupation of the Chagos Islands -- a humiliating defeat for London on its continued colonial legacy.

The Indian Ocean islands, which are home to US military base Diego García, were separated from the former British territory of Mauritius during decolonization in 1968.

On Wednesday, UN member states voted 116-6 for a non-binding resolution endorsing a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that separation was illegal and calling for the UK to return the islands to Mauritius within six months. Only Australia, Hungary, Israel, the Maldives, and the US voted in support of the UK.

"The advisory opinion is clear and unambiguous," Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said. "It is decisive."

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/22/asia/uk-chagos-islands-un-intl/index.html

Aerial view of Diego García.

The existence of a U.S. Navy base there may make today's ruling, which follows a similar one at The Hague, unlikely to ever be carried out.
May 23, 2019

Argentine elections: Half the nation's teen voters missing from voter rolls "by mistake"

Argentina's National Electoral Commission (CNE) today announced a one-week extension in the deadline for verification of federal voter rolls until Wednesday, May 29.

The unusual step was taken after the CNE confirmed widespread reports of gaps in the voter rolls. Up to half the nation's voting-age teens were never uploaded to the official voter database by the National Registry of Persons "by mistake."

The right to vote was extended to Argentine 16 year-olds in 2012; over 1.1 million 16 and 17 year-olds were registered to vote by 2017 (80% of the total).

Recent polls show right-wing President Mauricio Macri losing to center-left Peronist candidate Alberto Fernández by 23% among younger voters.

Among all voters Fernández is currently leading by 11% despite having announced his candidacy just this Saturday. Former President Cristina Kirchner, who governed Argentina from 2007 to 2015 and who remains popular, is Fernández's running mate.

Narrowly elected in late 2015 on promises to jump-start sluggish growth with tax cuts and deregulation, Macri's policies have instead led to a massive debt crisis, an IMF bailout, and the deepest recession since the 2001-02 collapse.

Now you see it, now you don't

Today's incident underscores wider concerns over the integrity of Argentina's federal elections, scheduled for October 27.

University of Buenos Aires Professor Ariel Garbarz, a cybersecurity expert, warned that Macri's policy of having precinct summaries scanned and transmitted via e-mail to an electronic tabulation center, rather than having them visually verified, makes the process vulnerable to alteration and thereby fraud.

Mid-term elections in 2017 were marred by irregularities, with evidence surfacing of doctored precinct summary pdf files showing zeroed-out counts for Kirchner's Citizen's Unity in a number of cases.

The presiding electoral court judge at the time, Juan Manuel Culotta, was a high-school friend of Macri's. He struck down all complaints, and resigned shortly after the 2017 elections.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=pt&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicargentina.com%2Fnotas%2F201905%2F29169-el-gobierno-impide-que-los-jovenes-de-16-anos-puedan-votar.html

An Argentine high-schooler votes in the last presidential election in 2015.

President Mauricio Macri, who opposed extending the right to vote to 16 year-olds, is down 23 points among young voters in the latest polls.

"Now there are problems in the voter rolls," according to student leader Ofelia Fernández, "because our voting obviously bothers them."
May 22, 2019

As Argentina's Macri senses defeat, charges against opponents revived

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner appeared in court today to face charges related to alleged cost overruns in public works contracts during her 2007-15 administration.

The charges, one of at least eight facing the center-left former president, come as the 2019 presidential campaign season in Argentina gets underway.

Kirchner, 66, is currently a running mate for Peronist candidate Alberto Fernández - whom polls show defeating right-wing President Mauricio Macri by 11% amid a debt crisis and the most severe recession since the 2001-02 collapse.

Earlier today, three days after the Fernández-Kirchner ticket was announced, Mariana Zuvic of the pro-Macri Civic Coalition announced that she intends to file an unspecified complaint against Fernández in relation to the case - though he has never been named in any of the charges pressed against Kirchner.

Zuvic and two fellow Civic Coalition lawmakers have been implicated in the recent Extortiongate scandal - a federal case involving Argentina's Federal Intelligence, millions in ransom payments and false testimony coerced against political opponents.

Road to nowhere

The Vialidad ('Roads') case does not involve federal contracts; but instead those granted in remote Santa Cruz Province to Austral Construcciones, whose former CEO, Lázaro Báez, is a family friend of the Kirchners and has been the focus of intense media coverage.

Báez was jailed on money laundering charges in 2016, and following Macri's rescission of numerous Austral contracts by decree the firm declared bankruptcy in 2017.

The 'roads' case has been impugned by Mrs. Kirchner's defense as legally void not only because she was never governor of Santa Cruz; but also because of the 51 Austral contracts the courts ordered prosecutors to examine, only five were - and all five are incomplete.

Prosecutors have stated that their report on the five contracts, will be ready "sometime in June to September." The first round of presidential elections will be on August 11, and the second, on October 27.

The prosecution is led by Anti-Corruption Office head Laura Alonso - a pro-Macri hard-liner who once confessed "being in love" with the president; but who lacks a law degree as required by the office.

Critics of the Macri administration have pointed to the 'roads' charges as the latest in a series of lawfare attacks carried out against opposition figures for political purposes - particularly against Kirchner, whom Macri sees as his principal obstacle to re-election.

Defense attorneys, who were not allowed to speak in today's trial, have also impugned the case for double jeopardy:

The public works contracts granted to Austral had already been investigated in federal courts in 2011 and 2015, by Santa Cruz courts in 2012-13, and in 2016 (after Macri took office) by the National Highway Bureau. None found irregularities.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Fjuicio-cristina-kirchner%2Fjuicio-cristina-kirchner-que-se-trata-la-causa-que-impulsa-comodoro-py-medio-la-campana-n60250

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner during today's trial.

Decade-old charges alleging road construction cost overruns in her home province, which have been found without merit on at least four occasions and for which no evidence has emerged, were recently revived by the Macri administration ahead of elections this October.

Recent polls show the center-left Alberto Fernández-Cristina Kirchner ticket defeating Macri by 11%.
May 18, 2019

Argentina: Alberto Fernandez-Cristina Kirchner ticket announced

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández Kirchner announced she will run as a vice presidential candidate in elections this October, a surprise move by the firebrand former leader who had been widely expected to be the main challenger to incumbent Mauricio Macri.

Kirchner, 66, has endorsed fellow Peronist Alberto Fernández, who is little known outside Argentina, for president.

Alberto Fernández, 60, served as chief of staff from 2003 to 2007 for former President Néstor Kirchner, Cristina Fernández's late husband, and for a few months during her first term.

A law professor, he is considered a moderate within the broad Peronist political flank and is not related to the former president.

The two have had their differences, with Alberto Fernández supporting the Renewal Front, a centrist Peronist faction, for most of the last few years.

But they also have known each other for over two decades, and in the past 18 months have become close allies.

The unexpected move will shake up an election race many thought would be a choice between Macri and the more fiery populism of Mrs. Kirchner, who governed Argentina from 2007 and 2015.

Rebuilding the country

Polls show Macri losing against almost any Peronist opponent by nearly double digits.

Narrowly elected in late 2015 on promises to jump-start sluggish growth with tax cuts and deregulation, his policies have instead resulted in a massive debt crisis, and IMF bailout, and the most severe recession since the 2001-02 collapse.

"The debt taken on by Macri in just three years is larger than the one Néstor received, defaulted, in 2003 - aggravated by the fact that 40% of it is now owed to the IMF," Mrs. Kirchner noted in her announcement video today.

"To my fellow Argentines, who are anxious about losing their job, inflation and unpayable public utility rates. Who are also worried because the government continues to indebt the country to finance obscene financial gambling, I ask them not to give up. We know that a better country is possible because we've already lived it."

"Rebuilding a country for all must be not only our dream but our goal. I love you all very much."

At: https://www.yahoo.com/news/argentinas-cristina-fernandez-run-vice-presidential-candidate-2019-125422478--sector.html

Former Chief of Staff Alberto Fernández and former President Cristina Kirchner.

Widely expected to run for president this year, Mrs. Kirchner will instead be on Alberto Fernández's ticket as his running mate.

Fernández is known as a moderate within Argentina's big-tent Peronist movement, in contrast to the more left-leaning Kirchner.

The two become instant front-runners in a country suffering from Macri's carry-trade debt crisis and its worst recession since the 2002 collapse.
May 17, 2019

F-16 fighter jet crashes near March Air Reserve Base in California; pilot safely ejects

An F-16 fighter jet crashed into a warehouse west of March Air Reserve Base in Southern California on Thursday. The pilot safely ejected but at least three people were injured on the ground.

The pilot was able to walk after ejecting from the jet, according to reports from the scene.

The three people hurt at the crash site were taken to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley for treatment of minor injuries, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

The crash happened as the pilot was landing following a routine training mission, March Air Reserve Base Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Holliday said. Witnesses reported seeing the jet shutter and roll moments before it plummeted to the ground.

“The pilot was having hydraulic problems,” Holliday said. “He started losing control of the aircraft.”

The armed Fighting Falcon, a part of the 114th Fighter Wing, went down about 3:45 p.m. and crashed into the See Water Inc. warehouse, near Interstate 215.

At: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/16/f-16-fighter-jet-crashes-march-air-reserve-base-california/3700934002/

Our tax dollars at play: The See Water warehouse in Moreno Valley, CA, after today's incident.

Three civilians on the ground were hurt.
May 16, 2019

Chief suspect in homicide of Mapuche protester Rafael Nahuel arrested in Argentina

A federal court in Argentina ordered the arrest of Gendarmerie Sargent Francisco Pintos as the chief suspect in the 2017 homicide of indigenous protester Rafael Nahuel.

Nahuel, 22, was shot in the back on November 25, 2017, as he and others fled a court-ordered eviction of the Lof Lafken Winkul Mapu protest camp, near the shores of scenic Lake Mascardi.

The court found that contrary to repeated assertions by Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, neither Hahuel nor any of his fellow protesters were armed - nor were weapons located in repeated searches of Mapuche properties.

Arrests made last year in neighboring Chile in connection to prosecutorial fraud in "Operation Hurricane," conducted against Mapuche activists by Chilean police and intelligence forces with the support of President Sebastián Piñera, revealed that Chile's Carabineros and Argentina's Gendarmerie colluded to concoct and publish false evidence against Mapuches.

Numerous demonstrations by the Mapuche people have taken place in recent years in and around Argentina's scenic lake district, the nation's leading winter tourism destination - and of growing interest in recent decades to foreign investors.

Santiago Maldonado

This was the second such case in Argentina in three months, after artist and activist Santiago Maldonado, 28, disappeared on August 1, 2017, during an unauthorized Gendarmerie raid on a Mapuche protest camp further south.

Bullrich later promoted the main suspect, Gendarmerie Corporal Emmanuel Echazú.

The Maldonado and Nahuel deaths earned the right-wing administration of Argentine President Mauricio Macri a rebuke from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) over excessive and indiscriminate use of force - as well as over the use of indefinite detention against critics and opponents.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F193969-ordenan-la-detencion-del-prefecto-acusado-del-crimen-de-rafa

Mapuche protester Rafael Nahuel and pro-Mapuche activist Santiago Maldonado.

Their 2017 deaths at the hands of National Gendarmerie (militarized police) focused international attention on the excessive and indiscriminate use of force against protesters under Argentine President Mauricio Macri, as well as over the use of indefinite detention against critics and opponents.

Maldonado's family still seek justice, and may ask that Santiago's case be reopened following today's ruling.

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