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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
December 30, 2020

Argentina Legalizes Abortion, a Milestone in a Conservative Region

Source: New York Times

Argentina on Wednesday became the largest nation in Latin America to legalize abortion, a landmark vote in a conservative region and a victory for a grass-roots movement that turned years of rallies into political power.

The high-stakes vote in the Senate gripped the nation into the early morning, and the measure’s approval — by a wider-than-expected margin of 38 to 29, with one abstention — came after hours of often dramatic debate, exposing the tensions between the long-dominant Roman Catholic Church, whose influence is waning, and a growing feminist movement.

Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández, has promised to sign the bill into law, making it legal for women to end pregnancies for any reason up to 14 weeks. After that, there will be exceptions allowed for rape and the health of the mother.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/30/world/americas/argentina-legalizes-abortion.html

Argentine Vice President Cristina Kirchner presides today's Senate vote legalizing abortion on demand up to the 14th week.

The bill, the ninth public effort to legalize abortion in Argentina since 1984, is supported by President Alberto Fernández - the country's first openly pro-choice president.

"Abortion is a public health problem," Fernández noted. "The rest is hypocrisy."
December 29, 2020

Pierre Cardin, French fashion designer, dies aged 98

Legendary French fashion designer Pierre Cardin has died at the age of 98, France's Fine Arts Academy announced on Tuesday in a statement on Twitter.

His creations adorned many stars of the day, among them Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Jeanne Moreau, Jackie Kennedy, Charlotte Rampling, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Cardin was born in 1922 in San Biagio di Callalta, a small town in northeast Italy about 20 miles from Venice. He was born Pietro, but he became known as Pierre after his family relocated to France to escape fascism two years later.

He was among the first designers to capitalize on the business side of fashion, becoming a household name thanks to powerful branding.

Cardin broke with tradition through his futuristic designs - and by producing landmark unisex and ready-to-wear collections at a time when both were effectively unheard of.

At: https://www.cnn.com/style/article/pierre-cardin-dies-obit-scli-intl/index.html

Pierre Cardin, 1922-2020.
December 28, 2020

Pope Francis Strips Powerful Vatican Office of Its Financial Assets

Source: New York Times

Pope Francis has stripped the Vatican’s most powerful office of its significant financial assets, the Vatican said Monday, after dubious investments squandered millions of euros in church donations, sparking an embarrassing scandal and prompting an ongoing corruption investigation.

A new law enacted by the pope orders the secretariat of state, the diplomatic and administrative arm of the Holy See, to transfer all its financial holdings and real estate assets to another office, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, which administers the Vatican’s finances, by Feb. 4.

The changes, included in a law made public Monday, follow a Vatican investigation into the mismanagement of funds at the secretariat of state.

One of the most prominent investments made by the secretariat of state involved the purchase of a London property that was bought in part with money donated by the faithful.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/28/world/europe/pope-francis-vatican-finances.html

Pope Francis confers with Vatican Secretary of State cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The powerful Secretariat of State - whose leader is often referred to a "deputy pope" - will be under investigation for alleged mismanagement of billions in investment funds.
December 28, 2020

Armando Manzanero, legendary Mexican singer and composer, dead at 85

Mexican composer and singer Armando Manzanero died Monday morning after battling Covid-19 for weeks.

Manzanero, who was 85, died at a hospital in Mexico City, Mexico's Society for Authors and Composers confirmed to CNN. He was hospitalized in mid-December after testing positive for Covid-19, CNN reported at the time.

Manzanero was a prolific composer, with more than 600 songs to his name, according to the society.

His songs were interpreted by artists from around the world, including Elvis Presley, Dionne Warwick, Perry Como, Spanish singer Raphael, and fellow Mexican star Luis Miguel.

At: https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/28/entertainment/armando-manzanero-death-scli-intl/index.html

Mexican crooner and composer Armando Manzanero: 'I saw it rain today, and you weren't there'.
December 23, 2020

Eddie Murphy reclaims his throne in 'Coming 2 America' trailer

Amazon Studios has unveiled the first trailer for “Coming 2 America,” which sees the return of Eddie Murphy as the charming Prince Akeem.

In the upcoming sequel, Prince Akeem, who is set to become the king of the fictional country of Zamunda, finds out he has a son he never knew about — a street-savvy Queens native, Lavelle.

To honor the former king’s dying wish to raise his grandson as the crown prince, Akeem and his younger brother, Semmi, once again leave for America.

The 1988 “Coming to America,” directed by John Landis, introduced Murphy as a young royal who moves to New York City to escape an arranged marriage.

Murphy’s co-stars James Earl Jones and Arsenio Hall will also reprise their roles as King Jaffe Joffer and Semmi, respectively.

At: https://variety.com/2020/film/news/coming-2-america-trailer-eddie-murphy-1234819676/

Still funny after all these years, Arsenio Hall, Eddie Murphy and Clint Smith reprise their roles as the famed Queens barbershop gang in Coming 2 America.

Originally set for release in theaters from Paramount Pictures, the film’s distribution rights were sold to Amazon Studios in October due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
December 22, 2020

Ivanka and Jared Kushner to buy Julio Iglesias' $30 million plot on Florida's 'Billionaire Bunker'

It’s been called the “Billionaire Bunker” and one of the “wealthiest, private, most secure communities in Miami Beach and the world”.

Indian Creek is a village of just 42 people on a tiny private island in Miami’s Biscayne Bay.

Its “Billionaire Bunker” nickname stems from its wildly wealthy and high-profile residents - including billionaire investor Carl Icahn, supermodel Adriana Lima, Spanish singer Julio Iglesias, former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert and car-dealership tycoon Norman Braman.

And now, according to a Page Six report, the island may be getting a new pair of ultra-wealthy and ultra-famous residents: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

The couple are said to have dropped over US$30 million on a waterfront lot on the exclusive island after Iglesias put it up for sale earlier this year.

At: https://www.scmp.com/magazines/style/luxury/article/3113503/ivanka-trump-and-jared-kushner-buy-julio-iglesias-us30

The 1.8-acre lot at 4 Indian Creek Island Rd, in Indian Creek Village, FL - recently closed on by Jared and Ivanka Kushner from Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias for a reported $30 million.

Iglesias had purchased the lot in 2014 for $21.6 million - but never had a home built on the site.
December 19, 2020

Argentina 3Q GDP expanded 12.8% vs 2Q, contracted 10.2% vs year earlier

Argentina's GDP expanded in the third quarter from the second quarter as the economy began to recover from the social-distancing measures that shut down many non-essential businesses earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.

GDP increased a seasonally adjusted 12.8% in the three months through September, and contracted 10.2% from the third quarter of 2019, Argentine statistics agency INDEC said Thursday. The economy had contracted 16% in the second quarter from the first, and 19% from a year earlier.

Fixed investment (machinery and construction) rebounded by 42.9% but remained 11.3% below 3Q 2019. Manufacturing jumped by 21.1% - still 5.3% below year-earlier levels.

The growth in the quarter still left Argentina's GDP 9.2% below where it was before the coronavirus crisis, which slammed economies around the world.

"Argentina has been in recession for three years and the economy is still showing large imbalances," Alberto Ramos, an economist at Goldman Sachs, said.

President Alberto Fernández, who took office in Dec. 2019, has imposed price and capital controls in an effort to hold on to scarce dollars and get inflation (35.8%) under control. Those measures have undermined markets' confidence even after the government successfully restructured $65 billion in debt earlier this year.

Argentina's economy is likely to expand in the fourth quarter from the third quarter, as it continues to recover from measures that shut down businesses - but still faces challenges before returning to healthy growth, Mr. Ramos said.

At: https://www.marketscreener.com/news/latest/Argentina-3Q-GDP-Expanded-12-8-vs-2Q-Contracted-10-2-vs-Year-Earlier--32029181/

Argentine President Alberto Fernández (gray hair) greets workers at the Volkswagen plant in General Pacheco, west of Buenos Aires.

Volkswagen officials recently announced that the plant will soon produce the Tarek crossover for the South American market.

Ford officials likewise announced a similar, $580 million investment to produce the Ranger pickup for the region.

Polls show voters crediting Fernández both for the strong rebound seen since a record contraction in the 2nd quarter, as well as for measures that prevented a public health collapse amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, which has nevertheless claimed over 41,000 lives in Argentina.

Most agree, however, that the country still faces a long recovery from both the Covid crisis and the 2018-19 "Macrisis" inherited from right-wing former President Mauricio Macri.
December 17, 2020

Legendary former Congressman Earl Hutto died Monday at age 94

Former Congressman Earl Hutto died Monday at the age of 94.

Hutto served Florida’s First District in the U.S. House of Representatives for eight terms, from 1979 to 1995. Previously, he represented District 8 in the Florida House of Representatives from 1972 to 1978 and was a longtime radio and television sportscaster.

He died peacefully at his Pensacola home surrounded by his family on Monday.

Hutto was born on May 12, 1926, to Lemmie and Ellie Mathis Hutto in Midland City, Alabama.

Elected to Congress in 1978, Hutto recognized the importance of the military to the district he served.

Actively involved in military issues, his greatest milestone victory came during his first six months on the Hill with his defeat of the closure of Whiting Field, a helicopter training base.

Hutto was the last Democratic politician to win Northwest Florida's Congressional District, today represented by Matt Gaetz.

At: https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/12/16/legendary-former-congressman-earl-hutto-died-monday-age-94/3918993001/

Joe Scarborough, who succeeded Earl Hutto in Congress, reflects on the life of the eight-term former congressman.
December 14, 2020

Year's only total solar eclipse sweeps across Chile, Argentina today

For stargazers far and wide, Monday marked the astronomic equivalent of the Super Bowl — a total solar eclipse swept across South America, treating a narrow swath of Chile and Argentina to an ephemeral display of unmatched scientific elegance and natural beauty.

While coronavirus restrictions challenged exactly who could view the eclipse — and where — thousands of international visitors were expected to flock to the path of totality in Chile.

Argentina, whose borders are still closed to international travelers, last week made an exception for eclipse viewers staying in the lakeside city of Bariloche.

For those not in Chile or Argentina, NASA TV live-streamed the eclipse.

Clouds and rainfall in Chile limited ideal eclipse viewing there, with better viewing in Argentina.

At: https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/12/14/total-solar-eclipse-chile/

An Argentine newscast airs today's total eclipse from the seaside town of Las Grutas, in Patagonia.

The next total solar eclipse to visit Earth will occur December 4, 2021 - but over Antarctica.
December 13, 2020

El Paso elects former mayor, defeating GOP incumbent in runoff

El Paso residents have elected a new mayor, handing a defeat to incumbent Mayor Dee Margo in favor of his predecessor, Oscar Leeser, in a runoff race defined by the city’s coronavirus crisis.

Leeser, who was mayor of the West Texas city on the Mexican border from 2013 through 2017, won with an overwhelming 82% of the vote, according to El Paso County's unofficial tally.

He finished first among six mayoral candidates in November - but with less than 50%, forcing Saturday's runoff.

Leeser, 62, pledged Saturday night to bring together the city that has been battered in recent years by overcrowded migrants at the border, a mass shooting at a Walmart and the economic and health crisis brought on by the coronavirus.

Mayoral races in El Paso are nonpartisan, but Margo, a businessman and former state legislator, identifies as a Republican. Leeser, president of a Hyundai dealership, is a Democrat.

At: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/el-paso-elects-mayor-defeating-incumbent-runoff-74701904

El Paso Mayor-elect Oscar Leeser, thanks supporters after winning Saturday's runoff election against incumbent GOP Mayor Dee Margo by a lopsided 82%.

“We're going to unite our voice and we're going to have a plan to make sure our community feels we no longer have a crisis,” Leeser, standing by his wife, said. “I look forward to really starting tomorrow morning.”

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