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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 11:36 AM
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Argentina's Spygate: "If I could have a Gestapo to terminate all labor unions, I would"

Argentine politics was rocked this week by video footage in which former Buenos Aires Province Labor Minister Marcelo Villegas expressed his desire for a "Gestapo with which to terminate all labor unions."

Villegas, 58, who served in former Governor María Eugenia Vidal's 2015-19 tenure, was filmed in a June 15, 2017, meeting with provincial as well as Federal Intelligence (AFI) officials.

Vidal, 48, remains a top figure in former President Mauricio Macri's hard-right PRO party - and has presidential ambitions for 2023.

The meeting, held in downtown Buenos Aires, was attended by 9 right-wing officials and 4 lobbyists: Villegas; then-Provincial Infrastructure Minister Roberto Gigante; then-Provincial Justice Undersecretary Adrián Grassi; La Plata (provincial capital) Mayor Julio Garro; Provincial Senator Juan Pablo Allan; four construction lobbyists - and two top Macri-era AFI officials.


The "need to build up cases" against the country's often restive labor unions was stressed by Villegas to the lobbyists present - reflecting Macri's alleged use of lawfare against opponents, as well as his call that year to have labor leaders and leftists "ejected in a rocket to the moon."

The AFI officials present included then-Counterintelligence head Diego Dalmau Pereyra and Darío Biorci - Chief of Staff (and brother-in-law) of disgraced former AFI Deputy Director Silvia Majdalani.

Dalmau Pereyra and Majdalani - and over 40 others, including Macri - have been indicted for their roles in the far-reaching Spygate scandal involving warrantless surveillance on hundreds of critics and allies alike during Macri's 2015-19 term.

Federal Prosecutor Ana Russo of La Plata filed a criminal complaint today against Villegas for the alleged persecution of local UOCRA (construction) unionist Juan Pablo "Pata" Medina, who was jailed within weeks of the meeting.

Villegas' diatribe was condemned by Argentina's Jewish community (Latin America's largest), and drew comparisons to the country's fascist dictatorship in 1976-83 - when of the 8,960 found to have "disappeared" in a 1984 report, 30% were union members.

At: https://www-infobae-com.translate.goog/politica/2021/12/27/marcelo-villegas-el-ex-ministro-bonaerense-que-pretendio-crear-una-gestapo-para-armar-causas-judiciales/?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en-US

Former right-wing Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal and then-Labor Minister Marcelo Villegas.

Footage emerged on Monday showing Villegas, in a 2017 meeting with lobbyists and top intelligence officials, calling for a "Gestapo with which to terminate all labor unions."

Villegas' words reflect an alleged policy of warrantless surveillance and outright lawfare against labor leaders and leftists during former President Mauricio Macri's 2015-19 term.

Desmond Tutu, anti-apartheid leader and voice of justice, dead at 90

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Anglican cleric whose good humor, inspiring message and conscientious work for civil and human rights made him a revered leader during the struggle to end apartheid in his native South Africa, has died. He was 90.

In a statement confirming his death on Sunday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his condolences to Tutu's family and friends, calling him "a patriot without equal."

 "A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world," Ramaphosa said.

For six decades, Tutu -- known affectionately as "the Arch" -- was one of the primary voices in exhorting the South African government to end apartheid, the country's official policy of racial segregation.

After apartheid ended in the early '90s and the long-imprisoned Nelson Mandela became president of the country, Tutu was named chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Tutu received the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, following in the footsteps of his countryman, Albert Lutuli, who received the prize in 1960.

At: https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/26/africa/desmond-tutu-death-intl-hnk/index.html

South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 1931-2021.

The Nelson Mandela foundation called Tutu's loss "immeasurable."

Gabriel Boric, a former student activist, is elected Chile's youngest president

Chileans on Sunday elected Gabriel Boric as their next president, entrusting the young leftist lawmaker with helping to shape the future of a nation that has been roiled by protests and is now drafting a new Constitution.

At 35, Mr. Boric will be the nation’s youngest leader and by far its most liberal since President Salvador Allende, who died by suicide during the 1973 military coup that ushered in a brutal 17-year dictatorship.

He will assume office at the final stage of a years-long initiative to draft a new Constitution - an effort that is likely to bring about profound legal and political changes on issues including gender equality, Indigenous rights and environmental protections.

Capitalizing on widespread discontent with the political factions that have traded power in recent decades, Mr. Boric attracted voters by pledging to reduce inequality and promising to raise taxes on the rich to fund a substantial expansion of the social safety net, more generous pensions and a greener economy.

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/19/world/americas/chile-president-election.html

Governor's offices destroyed in remote Chubut Province, Argentina, following passage of mining bill

Authorities in Chubut Province, in Argentina's remote Patagonia region, called for calm on Friday after two nights of clashes between police and protesters angered at a controversial law that paves the way for mining in the province.

With 14 votes in favor and 11 against, Chubut’s Provincial Legislature on Wednesday approved a new Zoning Law that authorizes mining exploration - without the use of cyanide - in the region’s central plateau.

Following approval of the law, which activists say paves the way for “mega-mining” in the region, incidents broke out between protesters and police in the provincial capital of Rawson on Wednesday, with reports of arrests and minor injuries.

Rawson, a town of 35,000, is the smallest of Argentina's 23 provincial capitals.

On Thursday, hostilities erupted when hundreds of demonstrators again clashed with police - who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Fires were set in the provincial government house - which was gutted - and 15 other public buildings as tensions escalated.

Governor Mariano Arcioni, 51, who signed the bill into law today, appealed for calm. His office said that at least 30 people had been injured and seven arrested in the unrest.

At: https://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=https%3a%2f%2fwww.batimes.com.ar%2fnews%2fargentina%2fsecond-day-of-clashes-in-rawson-after-approval-of-chubut-mining-law.phtml&d=1126967433390&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=TsL2duKE-G2ZbtRpvVdItSz5AZHSeLWB

The Chubut Province governor's offices in Rawson, Argentina, was gutted by fires amid violent protests against the Mining Law passed by the legislature on Wednesday and signed today by Governor Mariano Arcioni.

Opponents were infuriated at both the law itself - which they believe excludes a large area in the province's desolate inland plateau from a cyanide use ban - as well as the stealth with which the bill was passed.

Argentine writer Jose Pablo Feinmann dies at 78

Argentine writer José Pablo Feinmann, whose columns and interviews on a variety of subjects were a fixture on Argentine media in recent decades, died yesterday. He was 78.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1943 to a Brazilian Catholic mother and a Jewish father, Feinmann become an agnostic at an early age.

He taught philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires from 1968 to 1974. Feinmann repudiated political violence early on - at a time when many of the school's liberal arts students were adopting radical left-wing politics.

He later became known for his numerous novels, essays, columns, as well as screenplays - many of which were well received by European critics. Perhaps the best known was Last Days of the Victim (1979), which was made into an acclaimed 1982 thriller of the same name.

Upon the return of democracy, Feinmann's course Philosophy and the Mud of History grew to over two thousand students - a course later made into a Sunday supplement of the progressive Buenos Aires daily Página/12, where Feinmann contributed a weekly column until shortly before his death.

He also hosted Philosophy: Here and Now and Cinema Context on Argentine Public Television from 2008 until the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration downsized - some say, purged - the channel in 2016.

Feinmann was a lifelong supporter of Argentina's populist Peronist movement - though his friendship with the temperamental Néstor Kirchner suffered in 2006 however, when the then-president accused Feinmann of "living in an ivory tower."

Feinmann described himself in later years as "constantly consulted by the media, for all sorts of issues," and a "regular political polemicist - but who only argues with those he considers appropriate to do so."

"Given the weakness of the opposition’s arguments (which are expressed not by intellectuals but by paid publicists)," he considered, "there is less and less need to be polemical."

At: https://www-pagina12-com-ar.translate.goog/390085-murio-jose-pablo-feinmann-escritor-y-filosofo-de-lectura-imp?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en-US

Argentine writer José Pablo Feinmann in his Buenos Aires apartment.

His death on Friday was a blow to progressive Argentine political writing, still reeling from the deaths of Juan Forn and Horacio González - as well as pandemic-related measures which hit bookstores and theaters hard.

"To be a man is to know that we are going to die," he noted. "What's important is what we do in this that we agree to call life."

House finds Mark Meadows in contempt over defiance of Jan. 6 committee subpoena

Source: NBC

The House voted Tuesday night to refer former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to the Justice Department for a potential criminal charge over his refusal to answer questions about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Lawmakers passed the measure largely along party lines in a 222-208 vote. Two Republicans voted with Democrats: Reps. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois.

Meadows, a former House member from North Carolina, initially provided numerous documents to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot before deciding against further engagement, claiming executive privilege.

The investigative panel voted unanimously Monday night to advance the contempt of Congress measure, saying Meadows should face a criminal charge for defying the panel's subpoena to testify.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/house-expected-vote-mark-meadows-criminal-contempt-referral-n1285908

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows

Bachelet endorses Boric and called on all Chileans to vote

The former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, currently UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, assured that she will vote for Gabriel Boric in next Sunday's Chilean presidential election.

“It doesn’t matter which candidate is voted for and that’s why I am going to vote for Gabriel Boric - and I want to make a call to all my compatriots to attend to vote,” Bachelet stated during her vacation in Chile through a video published by her foundation, Horizonte Ciudadano.

Boric, 35, congressman for the leftist Approve Dignity coalition, had advanced last night in the last presidential debate ahead of Sunday’s second round – in which he will face the far-right candidate José Antonio Kast, 55.

“We got together to talk (with Ms. Bachelet). We had a very good conversation,” Boric confirmed to the press. The congressman said that they had a “long” conversation in which they talked about “Chile, the world, the human and the divine”, without giving more details.

Bachelet, 70, had been president of Chile in 2006-10 and 2014-18, and remains popular. She arrived in Chile on vacation on Saturday to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays with her family.

At: https://blazetrends.com/bachelet-gave-his-support-to-boric-and-called-all-chileans-to-vote/

Chilean presidential candidate Gabriel Boric and former President Michelle Bachelet, who endorsed Boric today.

Bachelet, currently UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on voters to “guarantee a path of progress for all Chileans: A path of greater liberty, equality, respect for human rights, environmental sustainability - and the possibility of a new constitution” to replace the current Pinochet-era document.

Polling shows a tightening in the race between Boric and his far-right opponent José Kast.

Kast is the son of a Nazi officer, and the brother of a former central bank head during Chile's 1982-83 crash at the depths of the Pinochet regime.

Vicente Fernandez, the king of machos and heartbreak, dead at 81

The singer Vicente Fernández was “El Ídolo” and “El Rey” — the idol of Mexico and the king of ranchera music.

These lofty titles reinforced his profound cultural influence, which spanned decades and countries far beyond Mexico.

Fernández, who died on Sunday at 81, long represented the ideal of the Mexican man, proud of his roots and himself. His music often centered on love and loss, though also with a high degree of confidence and attitude.

His iconic rendition of the song “Volver, Volver” propelled him to fame, but it’s in another major hit, “Por Tu Maldito Amor,” that his agony and longing are on full display.

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/13/arts/music/vicente-fernandez-influence.html

Mexican crooner Vicente Fernández performing the Ranchero standard “Volver, Volver” - which he popularized throughout Latin America in 1978.

Argentina to chair the UN Human Rights Council in 2022

Argentina will chair the United Nations Human Rights Council next year for the first time in its history, following the election of career diplomat Federico Villegas Beltrán as the body’s next president.

The election of Ambassador Villegas as the intergovernmental body’s president - agreed unanimously by the council’s 47 member states as a UN convention in Geneva on Monday - means that Argentina will play a key role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide over the next 12 months.

The presidency rotates on an annual basis and 2022 was Latin America’s turn.

The news will be seen as a rare diplomatic victory on the international stage for President Alberto Fernández, who failed to place key allies leading multilateral bodies and institutions, including the InterAmerican Development Bank and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Hailing the news, Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero welcomed Argentina’s appointment to the body’s rotating presidency as “recognition of our country and its commitment to human rights since the recovery of democracy" in 1983.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/argentina-to-chair-the-un-human-rights-council-in-2022.phtml

Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan of Fiji hands over the UN Human Rights Council gavel to Ambassador Federico Villegas Beltrán of Argentina.

This will be Argentina's first turn at the presidency of the 15 year-old UN council, which rotates yearly.

Argentina, in 1985, held the world's first human rights trial against former dictators by its own authorities.

Dr. Lee Norman, fired as Kansas health secretary, says he was 'Fauci'd' by COVID politics

The job of guiding Kansas through a generation-defining public health crisis for nearly two years fell to Lee Norman. Until recently, and suddenly, it didn’t.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly recently fired him as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment after months of reducing his role as the face of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She quickly replaced him with Janet Stanek, a longtime hospital administrator who’s worked for the past 21 years at Stormont-Vail Health in Topeka.

During the first several months of the outbreak, Norman, 69, dressed in a white lab coat, was at Kelly’s side at widely broadcast briefings.

That stopped in early summer, when Will Lawrence, the governor’s chief of staff, became concerned that Norman’s blunt style further strained relations between Kelly and Republican legislative leaders.

At: https://www.cjonline.com/story/news/2021/12/03/lee-norman-fired-kansas-health-boss-says-covid-politics-crux/8852270002/

Dr. Lee Norman, ousted today as Kansas' Health and Environment Secretary, during his last press conference on the job on Thursday.

Dr. Norman's frank approach to discussions on the ongoing Covid pandemic caused friction with GOP-dominated state legislature.

"A lot of the time, partisanship is trumping public health," Dr. Norman lamented. "And it should be the other way around."
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