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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
December 1, 2021

Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri indicted on warrantless surveillance charges

Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri was indicted today in federal court for ordering warrantless surveillance on relatives of 44 sailors who died in the 2017 sinking of a navy submarine.

Federal Judge Martín Bava found that Macri, 62, is "prima facie criminally responsible for the crime of carrying out prohibited intelligence actions as an author, by virtue of having made possible the production of illegal intelligence tasks."

Judge Bava stopped short of ordering pre-trial detention - a tactic Macri endorsed against his critics during his 2015-19 presidency - but barred him from leaving the country, or his residence for more than 10 days without notification.

At least six pen drives have been introduced as evidence, showing extensive spying on relatives of the 44 sailors lost in the 2017 ARA San Juan tragedy.

The relatives are plaintiffs in both this case, and a separate case of alleged malfeasance surrounding the 2017 tragedy as well as suspicious delays in the announced locating of the submarine (a full year later).

Macri, who was denied re-election in 2019 amid the worst recession in two decades, has been the focus of numerous scandals involving warrantless wiretapping of both public figures and relatives - including a 2009 indictment later vacated by an allied judge shortly after his 2015 election.

At: https://www-eldestapeweb-com.translate.goog/politica/espionaje-ilegal/procesaron-a-macri-por-espionaje-ilegal-a-familiares-de-victimas-del-ara-san-juan-202112115480?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en-US

Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri appearing in federal court in Dolores, Argentina, on November 3rd to testify on charges he ordered warrantless surveillance on relatives of the 44 sailors lost in the 2017 ARA San Juan submarine tragedy.

Despite repeatedly delaying giving testimony, as well as seeking to have the case transferred to Buenos Aires (where his allies dominate most courthouses), Macri was indicted on the evidence - including at least six pen drives showing extensive surveillance of plaintiffs in 2018-19.

Macri faces numerous other charges - including self-dealing in a $750 million payout to toll road operators (in which he was a shareholder), the attempted write-off of 98% of his family's Postal Service debt, and the illicit shipment of anti-riot munitions and gear to Bolivia during that country's 2019 coup.
November 30, 2021

'Defeated' Mike Lindell Ends 96-hour TV Marathon After Failing to Gain Support

Source: Newsweek

Mike Lindell ended a 96-hour online marathon entitled, Thanks-a-thon, after failing to gain strong support for his Supreme Court case.

The MyPillow CEO has long been a fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump and has continued to make baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged in favour of President Joe Biden and that he would file a lawsuit.

Despite providing no evidence for widespread election fraud, Lindell claimed he would have the support of multiple states' attorneys in general as he hoped to take this issue to the Supreme Court.

The 60-year-old claimed he would have this support by Thanksgiving, a deadline he set himself, but he did not receive it and the lawsuit was not filed.

Read more: https://www.newsweek.com/mike-lindell-marathon-end-thanks-thon-donald-trump-election-1653886

Thanks for nothing: Amid underwhelming support, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell ends his marathon to fund his putative Supreme Court suit against the 2020 election.
November 29, 2021

Honduras readies to declare first female president as leftist Castro heads for victory

Source: Reuters

Honduran presidential candidate Xiomara Castro looked set to put the left back in power 12 years after her husband was ousted in a coup, even as the vote count for Sunday's election unexpectedly paused for a few hours on Monday morning.

Castro, who would be the Central American nation's first female president, has promised big changes in Honduras including a constitutional overhaul, United Nations support in the fight against corruption, and looser restrictions on abortion.

She has also floated the idea of dropping diplomatic support for Taiwan in favor of China, a policy proposal keenly watched in Washington, Beijing and Taipei.

With just over half the ballots counted, Castro, 62, the wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, held a nearly 20-point lead over conservative Nasry Asfura, the capital's mayor and candidate for the ruling National Party, who won 34% according to a preliminary tally.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/honduras-set-woman-president-leftist-castro-declares-victory-2021-11-29/

Honduran presidential candidate Xiomara Castro celebrates with her husband, former President Manuel Zelaya.

Zelaya was overthrown in 2009 - in the first of a number of "soft coups" in Latin America against progressive presidents over the following decade.

Honduras has become a narco-state since then, with current President Juan Orlando Hernández promising to "shove drugs up the gringo's noses."
November 24, 2021

Sweden votes in Magdalena Andersson as first female PM

Source: BBC

Magdalena Andersson has been approved by Sweden's parliament as the country's first ever female prime minister, after replacing Stefan Lofven as leader of the centre-left Social Democrats.

Sweden is the only Nordic country never to have elected a woman as national leader before.

Ms Andersson, who's currently finance minister, did not win Wednesday's vote.

However, she was elected because under Swedish law she only needed a majority of MPs not to vote against her.

A hundred years after Swedish women were given the vote, the 54-year-old Social Democrat leader was given a standing ovation by sections of the parliament, or Riksdag.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-59400539

November 22, 2021

Chile's far-right Kast leads in first round of presidential election as runoff looms

Chile is headed for a polarized presidential election runoff next month as hard-right former congressman José Antonio Kast held the lead in the first-round vote on Sunday ahead of leftist lawmaker and former protest leader Gabriel Boric.

With 80.54% of the vote counted, Kast, 55, had 28.15% versus 25.32% for Boric, 35 - although both were well short of the majority needed to win outright.

More moderate, center-right candidates performed well, a potential boost for Kast in the Dec. 19 runoff.

In a surprise, economist Franco Parisi, who is living in Alabama and did not set foot in Chile during the campaign, was in third place with over 13% of the vote.

Center-right candidate Sebastián Sichel and center-left Yasna Provoste were just behind, both with around 12%.

At: https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/chileans-head-polls-with-two-radically-different-visions-ballot-2021-11-21/

Social Convergence (left-wing) nominee Gabriel Boric and Republican (far-right) nominee José Kast during a recent presidential debate in Santiago, Chile.

The election, Chile's most divisive since its 1990 return to democracy, has split voters between those seeking a shake-up of the country's free-market model and those demanding a harder line against crime and immigration.

Boric led student protests in 2011 demanding improvements to Chile's education system, and has pledged to scrap the nation's laissez-faire economic model.

Kast, who belongs to the hard-right Catholic sect Opus Dei, has praised the neo-liberal "economic legacy" of former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

He has drawn frequent comparisons with former U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro.
November 20, 2021

Passenger's weapon accidentally discharged at the Atlanta airport, causing panic and halting flight

Source: CNN

The accidental discharge of a passenger's weapon in a security area of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport caused widespread panic Saturday afternoon, prompting a brief halt of departing flights over the busy travel weekend.

The passenger was going through the screening process around 1:30 p.m. when "somebody recognized that there was a weapon in the bag," airport spokesperson Andrew Gobeil told CNN's Jim Acosta.

"When either the officer went in or when the passenger went in to get it, it accidentally discharged," Gobeil said, and the loud noise created a "sense of chaos."

According to Gobeil, after the gun went off, the passenger "took off and was able to make it outside of the airport."

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/20/us/atlanta-airport-scare/index.html

November 19, 2021

Argentine youth soccer player Lucas Gonzalez shot, killed by police

Argentine football is in mourning after the death of Barracas Central youth player Lucas González following a city police shooting.

Gonzalez, 17, was shot in the southside Buenos Aires district of Barracas by police on Wednesday while he was in the car with three other colleagues returning home from training.

According to González's family, police dressed in civilian clothing intercepted González and his friends after they had stopped at a shop. Witnesses reported seeing the police fire from an unmarked vehicle.

Shot in the head and brain dead, he died in an ICU bed the following day.

Three policemen have been suspended and an investigation has been launched - though in an unexpected turn, Judge Alejandro Cilleruelo, who barred the officers from leaving the country, recused himself.

One of the three officers, Gabriel Isassi, had taken part in a foiled 2016 espionage mission in remote Santa Cruz Province allegedly ordered by then-President Mauricio Macri against his predecessor and political rival - current Vice President Cristina Kirchner.

At: https://www.espn.com/soccer/barracas-central/story/4524572/argentine-youth-player-lucas-gonzalez-shotkilled-by-police

Argentine youth soccer player Lucas González, 17, who was shot dead by plainclothes Buenos Aires police from an unmarked vehicle.

Earlier declarations from police that González and his friends "fired" from their vehicle were disproven by a security camera, witnesses, and ballistics showing the bullets were all fired by police.

The Buenos Aires Metropolitan Police has faced 121 "hair-trigger" wrongful death cases over the past five years.
November 19, 2021

Chile's Pinera survives impeachment motion on Pandora Papers

Chile’s billionaire President Sebastián Piñera dodged an impeachment motion brought after the Pandora Papers revealed a potential conflict of interest in his family’s sale of a mining project stake.

The senate’s support for the motion reached 24 votes on Tuesday, short of the two-thirds - or 29 votes - needed to impeach a head of state.

The move clears the way for Piñera to finish his term, which ends in March.

At: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-16/chile-s-pinera-has-votes-to-avoid-impeachment-session-on-going-kw2qfmve

"The suspect who sold Chile cheap": A protester holds up a sign against Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in front of Chile's Congress on Tuesday.

Piñera, who was found in October's Pandora Papers revelations to have illegally sold a $150 million stake in a mining company using a British Virgin Islands cutout in order to avoid Chilean taxes, narrowly survived impeachment.

His four-year term ends in March.
November 15, 2021

Initial results in Argentine elections show opposition winning mid-terms

Argentina's main opposition coalition held leads in congressional mid-term elections on Sunday, early results showed, indicating a strong challenge to the ruling Peronist coalition.

Nationally, and with 98% of the vote counted, the right-wing Together for Change coalition had a strong lead of 43% to 34% for the ruling Front for All in House races - and 48% to 28% in Senate races.

President Alberto Fernández's center-left Front for All coalition is projected to lose 2 of its 120 House seats, and 6 of its 41 Senate seats - still leaving them as the largest coalition in each house, albeit with razor-thin majorities that would leave them dependent on minor parties for passage of any legislation.

Together for Change, in turn, would retain its 116 House seats, and add 5 Senators for 34 seats including allies - leaving Peronists without a 50%+ majority in the Senate for the first time democracy returned to Argentina in 1983.

The results may likewise jeopardize House Speaker Sergio Massa's post - a key centrist ally of the Fernández administration and a leading contender for the 2027 Peronist nomination.

Rampant inflation of 52% and fallout from the release in August of photos of the presidential couple hosting friends for the First Lady's birthday in July 2020 - when gatherings were still restricted - have hurt public support for the government, despite a strong economic recovery this year of 10.8% and a 96% drop in new Covid cases since June highs.

Over 34 million Argentines were eligible to vote, with turnout (around 72%) showing an improvement from the 68% recorded in the first round in September - but below the average 75% turnout in recent federal elections.

A high vaccination rate of 89% among adults (76%, both doses) allowed for lower wait times at polling places than in September.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/initial-results-in-argentinas-election-show-opposition-winning-key-races.phtml

An exultant María Vidal waves to supporters at the right-wing 'Together for Change' opposition's mid-term election night rally in Buenos Aires - with former Argentine President Mauricio Macri clasping his hands beside her.

While the opposition fell slightly short of its first-round results in September, today's results will deprive the ruling, center-left Front for All of its ample Senate majority - leaving President Alberto Fernández with razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate.

Fernández will now depend on minor parties to pass everything from the 2023 federal budget, to an expected IMF agreement to refinance the record, $45 billion debt inherited from Macri in 2019.
November 12, 2021

F.W. de Klerk, South Africa President who ended Apartheid, dies at 85

Frederik Willem de Klerk, who as president of South Africa dismantled the apartheid system that he and his ancestors had helped put in place, died at his home near Cape Town on Thursday. He was 85.

His death was confirmed by the F.W. de Klerk Foundation, which said in a statement that he had been receiving treatment for cancer.

A member of a prominent Afrikaner family, Mr. de Klerk had vehemently defended the separation of the races during his long climb up the political ladder.

But once he took over as president in 1989, he stunned his deeply divided nation, and the wider world, by reconsidering South Africa’s racist ways - a step that led to his sharing the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela, whom he had released from prison in 1990.

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/11/world/africa/fw-de-klerk-dead.html

Former South African President F.W. de Klerk with headlines proclaiming a resounding Yes vote in the March 17, 1992, referendum to end Apartheid.

Despite limited to white voters, the 69% Yes vote became a testament to de Klerk's efforts to end the oppressive system during his 1989-94 presidency - which was capped with the election of Nelson Mandela.

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