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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 11:36 AM
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Chile in 'critical' grip of second Covid wave despite one of best vaccination rates

A massive second wave of the coronavirus is gripping Chile, despite a much-lauded vaccination program that is the best in Latin America and one of the top worldwide.

Millions of Chileans are returning to full lockdown Thursday after health authorities this week ordered a return to Phase One restrictions.

The renewed order means 70% of Chile’s 19 million people will be confined to home under tighter measures, such as the removal of permits to visit supermarkets on weekends.

On Saturday, Chile recorded its highest number of daily cases since the beginning of the pandemic, 7,084 new Covid-19 cases, breaking the single-day record of 6,938 reported in June.

The second wave is edging the country's health care system perilously close to the breaking point. Critical bed occupancy is at 95%, and many medical staff members embroiled in Covid-19-infected wards for a year — sometimes working on complex cases beyond their expertise levels — have taken medical leave because of exhaustion and stress.

At: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/chile-critical-grip-second-covid-wave-one-best-vaccination-rates-rcna505

Chileans enjoy warm Southern Hemisphere summer weather in Santiago yesterday.

Despite one of the highest per capita vaccination rates in the world, Chile's daily Covid-19 infection rate is currently around twice the rate in neighboring Argentina or the U.S. on a per capita basis.

The trend has forced President Sebastián Piñera to impose lockdown measures covering 70% of the nation's 19 million people - including the entire Santiago metro area (7 million).

Honduran President Hernandez allegedly helped smuggle cocaine into US

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández helped smuggle tons of cocaine into the United States, a U.S. prosecutor said Tuesday at the trial of an accused drug trafficker.

That defendant, Geovanny Fuentes, bribed the president with $25,000 in cash and this made Fuentes "untouchable," prosecutor Jacob Gutwillig said in opening arguments at the New York federal trial.

The president said the prosecutor, "made the defendant bullet-proof."

Fuentes paid the money to Hernández in meetings in 2013 and 2014, the prosecutor said. Hernández, 52, who denies all the allegations against him, has been in power since January 2014.

The president's brother, Tony Hernández, was convicted of large-scale drug trafficking (at least 200 tons) at a New York trial in 2019.

At: https://www.dailysabah.com/world/americas/honduran-president-hernandez-allegedly-helped-smuggle-cocaine-into-us

Good boy: Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosts Honduran President Orlando Hernández at the State Department in 2017.

Court documents, which identify Hérnandez as a co-conspirator in a New York case, quoted him as saying he wanted to "shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos' by flooding the United States with cocaine."

The president's brother Tony is a convicted drug trafficker, and cocaine exports from Honduras have soared under his regime.

Trump official charged in Capitol Riot has family ties to Argentina's Military Junta

A Trump administration official who’s been charged with playing a major role in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol had a history of praising a military dictatorship that seized power in a coup—and close family ties to that junta.

Federico “Freddie” Klein, 42, a former mid-level political appointee at the State Department who sits in jail awaiting a trial for his role in the riots, repeatedly praised the 1976-83 Argentine military junta while working at the State Department, according to three former colleagues.

“He had warm feelings about the Argentine junta. His father’s Argentine, and he expressed some frustration about how history remembers that brutal dictatorship,” one former State Department official who’d heard Klein praise the junta told VICE News.

It turns out that those views may run in the family.

Klein’s uncle Guillermo Walter Klein Jr., 84, was a senior economic official in the Argentine military junta that came to power in 1976.

While he pushed through financial deregulation - which resulted in a devastating 1981 debt crisis - the military and its allies were busy murdering as many as 30,000 Argentine students, trade union organizers and other dissidents.

The elder Klein has charges pending in Argentina over the 1977 murder of one his own top advisors, Juan Carlos Casariego de Bel, after Casariego objected to a $400 million payout for the nationalization of the bankrupt CIADE electric company - whose estimated book value was but $8 million.

One the chief shareholders in CIADE was his boss, Economy Minister José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz.

At: https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7az8b/trump-official-charged-in-capitol-riot-has-family-ties-to-argentinas-military-junta

Guillermo Walter Klein, Deputy Economy Minister during the fascist Jorge Videla dictatorship and the architect of the "financial bicycle" debt bubble that derailed Argentina's economy in 1981.

Federico “Freddie” Klein - the State Department official arrested on March 4 after being identified from Capitol Hill assault footage - is his nephew, and was known for his staunch pro-dictatorship views.

Bob Cox, the former editor of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald, told VICE News that he was “not a bit surprised” about his alleged involvement in the insurrection given his father’s and uncle’s politics.

“There is a connection of the belief that you use military force, if you can. That ran in the family,” he said.

Tanzania's Covid-skeptic leader Magufuli dies after weeks of rumors about his health

Tanzania's leadership faced calls for a smooth succession on Thursday after President John Magufuli, Africa's most vehement coronavirus skeptic, died following an 18-day absence from public life that drew speculation about his health.

An opposition leader urged the immediate swearing in of Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan as successor, saying that would avoid a constitutional vacuum and prevent uncertainty.

Magufuli's death, the first of a Tanzanian leader while in office, opens the prospect that the country will gain its first female president.

The constitution says Hassan, 61, should assume the presidency for the remainder of the five-year term that Magufuli began serving last year after winning a second term.

At: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/tanzania-s-covid-skeptic-leader-magufuli-dies-after-weeks-rumors-n1261378

Tanzanian President John Magufuli and Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan in happier days.

Magufuli, 61, had become Africa's most vehement coronavirus skeptic, and his death leaves Hassan as the first woman to head to East African nation of 61 million.

Argentina: Martin Soria named new Justice Minister, replacing Marcela Losardo

Argentine President Alberto Fernández has tapped Congressman Martín Soria to be Argentina’s next Justice Minister, replacing the departing Marcela Losardo.

Fernández made the announcement in an interview a week after confirming rumors that Losardo, 62, his close ally and personal friend, would be stepping down after mounting criticism from the ruling, center-left Front for All coalition that the Justice Ministry was slow-walking investigations into alleged lawfare: the weaponization of the judiciary by former President Mauricio Macri's right-wing tenure (2015-19).

A lawyer and freshman congressman from Patagonia's Río Negro Province, Soria, 45, was one of the names that first circulated after news of Losardo's imminent departure broke.

The new justice minister is no stranger to tragedy: his mother, Susana Freydoz, is currently in prison for the murder of his father Carlos Soria, after a domestic dispute in 2012 - shortly after the elder Soria, then 62, took office as governor of Río Negro Province.

His relatively low profile was raised after co-filing a complaint on February 11 against Federal Judge Gustavo Hornos on evidence that Hornos had visited Macri at the presidential residence on at least six occasions between 2015 and 2018 - each coming days before politically-charged rulings against Macri's opponents.

Judicial table

Hornos' presidential visits are alleged to be part of a wider pattern of judicial interference under Macri - who in 2019 lost his re-election bid amid an economic crash known locally as the "Macrisis."

Numerous top Macri officials who made up his "judicial table" have been indicted since then, including his Intelligence Agency (AFI) Gustavo Arribas and Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli - both longtime Macri associates from his days as head of Buenos Aires' famed Boca Juniors football club.

They were among dozens - mainly AFI agents - indicted in the related d'Alessio and Super Mario Bros. cases - involving, respectively, an extortion ring that netted false testimony against Macri opponents as well as $12 million in ransom payments, and mass warrantless surveillance of public figures.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/martin-soria-named-new-justice-minister-replacing-marcela-losardo.phtml

Argentina's incoming Justice Minister, Congressman Martín Soria, and President Alberto Fernández.

Soria's appointment comes after mounting criticism against his predecessor, Marcela Losardo, for slow-walking investigations into alleged weaponization of the judiciary by former President (and Trump friend) Mauricio Macri during his right-wing, 2015-19 tenure.

Soria's agenda will likewise include judicial reform proposals whose centerpiece is a transition to a U.S.-style adversarial legal system from the prevailing inquisitorial system - a holdover from the Spanish colonial era and which critics partly blame for the country's notoriously cumbersome (and often corrupt) judiciary.

Lou Ottens, inventor of the cassette tape, has died at 94

Source: Yahoo! News

The inventor of cassette technology, Lou Ottens, died at the age of 94 at his home in Duizel, Brabant, Belgium. It was in 1963 that the first plastic encased cassette tape was presented at an electronics fair with the slogan “smaller than a pack of cigarettes!”

Beginning his career at Philips in 1952. Eight years later, he was named to the top spot of the product development department. By 1961 Ottens and his team had created the first portable tape recorder, and in 1963 the cassette tape, which revolutionized the much-larger reel-to-reel tape system.

The tapes were quickly copied by the Japanese but in different formats, so Ottens made a deal with Sony to use the mechanism patented by Philips to introduce a standard cassette. That model had a global rollout and DutchNews.nl reports that over 100 billion units were sold worldwide.

But Ottens wasn’t done innovating: He went on to develop the compact disc, which again became a Sony-Philips standard and which sold over 200 billion units.

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/lou-ottens-cassette-creator-dies-165139012.html

Dutch engineer Lou Ottens, 1926-2021, and his famous creation.

Over 100 billion cassette tapes have been sold since Philips introduced them in 1963 - but not satisfied with the sound quality, Ottens helped introduce the CD in 1982.

Brazil justice annuls Lula da Silva's sentences, enabling 2022 run

A day after graft convictions of Brazil's leftist former President Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva were overturned, he may see the evidence against him thrown out by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, clearing his name ahead of a possible 2022 presidential run.

The Supreme Court said Justice Gilmar Mendes had called a Tuesday vote on an appeal by Lula's legal team alleging that Sérgio Moro, the former judge who sentenced him, was not impartial in overseeing investigations of the former president.

Messages published in 2019 by The Intercept Brasil show Moro colluding with prosecutors against Lula for political reasons; he was later named Justice Minister in the Bolsonaro regime.

If the top court rules in Lula's favor, it would cap a stunning reversal of fortunes for one of Brazil's most popular and divisive figures, whose political hopes appeared decimated by the corruption cases against him in recent years.

If he runs, the leftist firebrand, 75, would immediately be the leading rival next year against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro - whose popularity has suffered in the face of a raging pandemic, rising inflation and stretched public finances.

At: https://news.yahoo.com/lula-2022-hopes-brighten-brazils-162148124.html

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva rallies supporters for a São Paulo candidate in November's municipal elections.

Despite his Workers' Party (PT) faring poorly in last year's municipal races, polling still shows Lula as the front-runner should he compete in the country's 2022 presidential elections.

His 19-month imprisonment in 2018-19 - obtained solely on testimony from a contractor kept in a rat-infested dungeon until he incriminated him - paved the way for the 2018 election of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

The UN considered his detention arbitrary.

President Alberto Fernández, in neighboring Argentina, celebrated the ruling, noting a pattern of "using a witness to incriminate (center-left) Latin American leaders, with absolutely weak evidence, to get them out of races."

Michael Stanley, Cleveland's hometown rock hero, dies at 72

Michael Stanley, who became known nationally for a radio hit in 1981 but was the very symbol of rock ‘n roll for decades in the city of Cleveland, died Friday at age 72. The cause of death was lung cancer that had been diagnosed seven months earlier.

Stanley’s illness became known when he took leave of his usual afternoon radio shift at Cleveland’s 98.5 WNCX in late February and the station released a statement requesting prayers for his family.

Stanley started out as a solo artist in 1973 with two albums in a more contemplative singer/songwriter vein before forming the Michael Stanley Band, whose 1975 debut on Epic Records, “You Break It... You Bought It,” introduced the more robust, arena-friendly anthems that the group came to be known for.

The MSB had its biggest national profile in 1980 when the single “He Can’t Love You” reached No. 33 on the Billboard 100.

That song and a 1983 follow-up, the Cleveland-inspired “My Town,” which also cracked the top 40, were early staples of a nascent MTV.

At: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/ct-ent-michael-stanley-clevelend-dead-20210306-dhiecgn4nvgsrldlhvuzjgm6c4-story.html

Cleveland rock singer/songwriter Michael Stanley, 1948-2021.

Brazil's variant breeding ground is a threat to the entire world

Brazil is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, and its agony ought to be a warning to the world.

Brazil’s surge has given rise to a new variant known as P.1 that appears to be more transmissible and may be capable of overcoming natural antibodies.

So far, 10 cases in five jurisdictions have been detected in the United States, but more may be coming.

At: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/brazils-variant-breeding-ground-is-a-threat-to-the-entire-world/2021/03/04/8c3f7a2e-7c4f-11eb-a976-c028a4215c78_story.html

Relatives of a deceased person mourn during a mass burial of coronavirus pandemic victims at the Parque Tarumã Cemetery in Manaus, Brazil

Scientists fear that the P.1 variant endemic in Manaus is reinfecting people who previously had covid-19, indicating that it can sicken those who have antibodies from the first wave.

Although the conclusions are still tentative, the implications are grave: It is possible that the virus could challenge vaccines and natural immune systems.

Pope Francis arrives in Baghdad in first-ever papal visit to Iraq

Pope Francis arrived in Iraq on Friday in the first-ever papal visit to the Middle Eastern nation, amid heightened security concerns for the pontiff in what's considered one of the most dangerous countries on Earth.

Francis departed Vatican City early Friday morning and arrived in Baghdad a few hours later.

The pope said before the trip that he felt compelled to make the risky visit to Iraq because its people "have suffered so much."

"Only if we learn to look beyond our differences and see each other as members of the same human family will we be able to begin a process of rebuilding and leave future generations a better, more just and humane world," Pope Francis, 84, said in his welcoming address at the presidential palace in Baghdad.

At: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2021/03/05/Iraq-Pope-Francis-arrives-in-Baghdad-historic-trip/3931614947059/

Pope Francis speaking at the Presidential Palace in Baghdad.

He called for “an end to violence and extremism.”
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