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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 11:36 AM
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Randy Moore will be the first Black Chief of the Forest Service in its 116-Year history

Randy Moore, a 43-year veteran of the United States Department of Agriculture, will be the new head of the Forest Service, making him the first Black leader to head up the agency in its 116-year history, the Biden Administration announced on Monday.

In a press release, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called Moore “a catalyst for change and creativity in carrying out the Forest Service’s mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”

“Randy has been a conservation leader on the forefront of climate change, most notably leading the Region’s response to the dramatic increase in catastrophic wildfires in California over the last decade,” Vilsack said.

After joining the USDA in 1978, Moore, 66, worked in a variety of roles in forests and grasslands across Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and also served as Acting Associate Deputy Chief for the National Forest System and the National Deputy Soils Program manager.

Since 2007, he has served as regional forester for California’s Pacific Southwest Region, where he oversees 18 national forests covering 20 million acres

At: https://www.backpacker.com/news-and-events/news/randy-moore-will-be-the-first-black-chief-of-the-forest-service-in-its-116-year-history/

U.S. Forest Service Chief-designate Randy Moore

Mike Gravel, former U.S. senator from Alaska, dies at 91

Mike Gravel, a former U.S. senator from Alaska who read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and confronted Barack Obama about nuclear weapons during a later presidential run, has died. He was 91.

Gravel, who represented Alaska as a Democrat in the Senate from 1969 to 1981, died Saturday, according to his daughter, Lynne Mosier. Gravel had been living in Seaside, California.

Gravel’s two terms came during tumultuous years for Alaska when construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline was authorized and when Congress was deciding how to settle Alaska Native land claims and whether to classify vast federal land as parks, preserves and monuments.

Gravel’s Senate tenure also was notable for his anti-war activity.

In 1971, he led a one-man filibuster to protest the Vietnam-era draft and he read into the Congressional Record 4,100 pages of the 7,000-page leaked document known as the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s history of the country’s early involvement in Vietnam.

Gravel reentered national politics in 2006 - decades after his time in the Senate to twice run for president as a Democrat in the 2008 election ultimately won by Obama.

He launched his quest for the nomination as a critic of the Iraq war, hitching his campaign to an effort that would give all policy decisions to the people through a direct vote, including health care reform and declarations of war.

At: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/27/mike-gravel-former-us-senator-alaska-dies-496563

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, during his 1969-81 tenure in the Senate - and in his brief, final campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2019.

Argentina reaches debt repayment deal with Paris Club

Argentine Economy Minister Martín Guzmán announced Tuesday that Argentina had reached an agreement with the Paris Club of creditor countries to avoid defaulting on a loan repayment in July.

We have reached an understanding with the Paris Club to avoid defaulting on July 31, when a grace period was to expire for the repayment of a final tranche of debt of about $2.4 billion,” Guzmán told reporters in the capital.

Argentina will instead make a $430 million payment in the short term - followed by the rest later.

The amount owed was the last repayment on debt renegotiated with the Paris Club in 2014 (then $9.7 billion).

Guzmán pointed out that the new payment dates were not yet fully defined - though the first payment would likely take place on July 31, with the second in March 2022.

Argentina will continue negotiations for rescheduling some $45 billion it owes the IMF - part of a record bailout granted to former President Mauricio Macri in 2018, reportedly at Trump's behest.

Guzmán's successful refinance of $66 billion in foreign debt last August (around a third of the total) trimmed the country's foreign debt service by 35% from a record $17.4 billion in 2019.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/economy/guzman-confirms-argentina-has-reached-deal-with-paris-club.phtml

Argentine Economy Minister Martín Guzmán holds a Zoom meeting this morning with the President of the Paris Club, Emmanuel Moulin.

The agreement reached today with the Paris Club of creditor nations averts a default on $2.4 million in Argentina's remaining debt with the club - as well as easing uncertainty in the debt-strapped nation.

Argentina still faces IMF payments of over $18 billion annually in 2022 and 2023, besides other foreign debt service of over $10 billion a year - mostly dating from former President Mauricio Macri's 2015-19 tenure, when massive foreign debts were taken on largely to finance the dollarization and offshoring of private assets.

Zambia's 1st president, Kenneth Kaunda, dies at age 97

Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president and a champion of African nationalism who spearheaded the fights to end white minority rule across southern Africa, has died at the age of 97.

He had been admitted to the hospital on Monday and officials later said he was being treated for pneumonia. Zambia will hold 21 days of national mourning, Zambian President Edgar Lungu said.

Kaunda was a schoolteacher who became a fiery African nationalist, coming to prominence as a leader of the campaign to end colonial rule of his country, then known as Northern Rhodesia, and was elected the first president of Zambia in 1964.

Although he eventually ruled over a one-party state and became authoritarian, Kaunda agreed to return Zambia to multi-party politics and peacefully stepped down from power when he lost elections in 1991.

In Zambia’s heady first years of independence, Kaunda rapidly expanded the country’s education system, establishing primary schools in urban and rural areas and providing all students with books and meals.

His government established a university and medical school, expanding Zambia’s health system to serve the Black majority.

Genial and persuasive, Kaunda gained respect as a negotiator pressing the case for African nationalism with Western leaders.

During his 27-year rule, he gave critical support to armed African nationalist groups that won independence for neighboring countries including Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Kaunda also allowed the African National Congress (ANC), outlawed in South Africa during apartheid, to base its headquarters in Lusaka.

At: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/zambias-first-president-kenneth-kaunda-dies-at-age-97/2021/06/17/f20d80ce-cf85-11eb-a224-bd59bd22197c_story.html

Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda walks with President Jimmy Carter on the White House grounds during Kaunda's state visit in 1978.

The affable socialist expanded his country's education and health care, gave his country's once-excluded Black majority a political and economic stake, and aided liberation movements in then minority white-ruled neighboring states.

Though his 27-year rule was authoritarian, Kaunda allowed elections in 1991 and oversaw a largely peaceful transition to democracy.

Argentine government wins appeal against anti-abortion rights ruling

A federal court injunction which sought to suspend abortion rights in Argentina was overturned today following an appeal by the administration of President Alberto Fernández.

The injunction, issued on June 7th by Federal Judge Alfredo López of the city of Mar del Plata, would, if upheld, have suspended abortion rights legalized in January for all procedures up to the 14th week.

López's injunction was appealed by Mar del Plata attorney Mariana Brun, representing the federal government, and overturned by Federal Judge Santiago Martín.

Judge Martín scolded López for "suspending a whole body of regulations, made up of the law in its entirety, directly linked to health and gender policies of the National State - entailing (among other effects) the interruption of health care coverage that said law provides nationally."

The day after he issued his order, Judge López had tweeted an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which he captioned: "At last HE will win!"

Last year, López issued a series of controversial tweets - including referring to supporters of abortion rights as "femibolsheviks," women's rights education as a product of the "abortion tyranny," LGBT citizens as "perverted degenerates," and accusing the president of engaging in "crimes of state" by sponsoring the abortion rights bill.

López also slammed a leading center-right figure - Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta - for his tweet saluting the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (May 17th), chiding him for being "subjected to the new world order."

"How long until the WHO considers heterosexuality a crime?" he asked.

Argentines have been sharply divided on abortion rights, with Fernández, his center-left Front for All coalition, smaller left-wing parties and some libertarians in support - and most of former President Mauricio Macri's Together for Change coalition and others in the Catholic right staunchly against.

Over 300,000 abortions are estimated to be performed annually in Argentina despite its being illegal in most cases until this year.

Some 38,000 Argentine women a year are hospitalized for abortion-related complications, of which 25 died in 2019.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&u=https://www.telam.com.ar/notas/202106/558166-suspension-cautelar-juez-lopez-ive.html

Argentine Federal Judge Alfredo López, whose June 7th injunction against abortion rights nationally was overturned today.

López's staunch opposition against abortion rights - as well as women's and LGBT rights - are widely shared among Argentina's conservatives.

Wildlife manager finds $1.2 million in cocaine at Cape Canaveral beach

A Florida wildlife manager searching for sea turtles at the beach made one “shell” of a discovery instead — $1.2 million in cocaine that washed ashore, authorities said.

Angy Chambers, of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, was surveying the beach on May 19 when she stumbled upon a small plastic package that was tightly bound with tape, US Space Force officials said Friday.

“I immediately contacted the 45th Security Forces Squadron,” said Chambers, a 45th Civil Engineer Squadron wildlife manager who was searching for sea turtle nests at the time.

A Brevard County Sheriff’s Office narcotics agent responded to the beach and performed a field test on the 24 packages weighing nearly 30 kilograms — roughly 66 pounds — and verified they were crammed with cocaine, Space Force authorities said.

The origin of the shipment is under investigation, but Department of Homeland Security officials said maritime drug traffickers often send controlled substances in bales consisting of 25 “bricks” — or kilogram packages.

At: https://nypost.com/2021/06/14/cocaine-worth-nearly-1-2-million-found-on-florida-beach/

The 24 bricks of cocaine found recently on Cape Canaveral beach - 66 pounds with an estimated street value of $1.2 million.

Despite a five-decade "war on drugs," cocaine imports from Colombia have soared to an estimated 1,000+ tons annually.

Chilean centre-left wins 10 of the 16 region governorships

Chile's traditional centre-left parties will govern 10 of the country's 16 regions following Sunday's governorship runoff elections in another blow to President Sebastián Piñera's party.

With Sunday's results when only 13 regions remained to be decided via a runoff, 10 regions will be in the hands of the former Concertación, including Santiago, three under independent candidates, two under the newly-formed left-wing Frente Amplio ('Ample Front') alliance - and only one for Piñera's Chile Vamos ('Go Chile') ruling coalition.

Turnout was low, with just 19.6% of 13 million registered voters participating in a country under severe lockdown measures despite the most prolific vaccination campaign in South America.

Nationally, the Concertación-led Constituent Unity garnered 47.5% of the vote; with the Ample Front netting 28.7%; Go Chile, 13.5%; and mostly left-leaning independents, 10.4%.

The great battle was Santiago's Metropolitan Region (home to 40% of Chileans), where Christian Democrat Claudio Orrego was elected governor there with 52.7% of the votes, compared to 47.3% of Karina Oliva from Frente Amplio.

“This election shows that good politics can be done and reach the hearts of Chileans,” Orrego, 54, said in his victory speech.

“Raising the Metropolitan Region after the pandemic will be very difficult, with a legacy of pain, unemployment, health and education problems.”

The only region Piñera's allies won was Araucanía, where most incidents with Mapuche leaders took place over the past few years.

Independent candidates won Atacama, Coquimbo, and Biobío.

At: https://en.mercopress.com/2021/06/14/chilean-centre-left-wins-10-of-the-16-region-governorships

Santiago Region Governor-elect Claudio Orrego (blue shirt) celebrates his victory with supporters - one of 10 for the center-left Concertación coalition, which has ruled Chile for most of its post-dictatorship era since 1990.

The regional governor elections were a blow to President Sebastián Piñera's center-right coalition, which was likewise defeated in constitutional convention elections on May 16th.

Ned Beatty, prolific 'Superman' and 'Network' character actor, dies at 83

Beloved character actor Ned Beatty, who made his film debut in “Deliverance” and delivered memorable performances in classics like “Network” and “Superman,” died on Sunday at age 83.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1937, Beatty got his start as an actor in regional theater in the South in the 1960s before making his film debut in John Boorman’s 1972 film “Deliverance.”

He went on to appear in scores of films and TV shows in his 50-plus years as an actor, proving the importance of supporting cast and that character actors could also steal the scene.

Two years later, he earned an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in 1976’s “Network,” where he had a brief but memorable role as a TV network executive.

Beatty then played the bumbling the sidekick to DC Comics villain Lex Luthor in the 1978 “Superman” movie opposite Gene Hackman and Christopher Reeve.

As Luthor’s minion Otis, Beatty gave a subtly funny and memorable performance that at times turned the superhero drama into almost a comedy.

Beatty earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a miniseries (for 1979’s “Friendly Fire”) and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a miniseries (for 1990’s “Last Train Home”). He also earned a Drama Desk Award in 2004 for his role as Big Daddy in a Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

At: https://www.thewrap.com/ned-beatty-prolific-superman-and-network-character-actor-dies-at-83/

Prolific character actor Ned Beatty and co-star Gene Hackman face the spotlight in Superman II (1980).

Israel's Knesset votes in new government; Naftali Bennett named prime minister

Israel's parliament approved a new government on Sunday, ending the record 12-year tenure of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister and swearing in a fragile, diverse coalition that has promised to break the country's political gridlock.

The change came by the slimmest of margins, with 60 votes in favor and 59 opposed in Israel's 120-member Knesset. One member abstained.

Far-right politician Naftali Bennett, 49, who once worked for Netanyahu, becomes Israel's new prime minister for two years in a coalition agreement that includes eight separate parties and is led by Bennett and centrist Yair Lapid.

Lapid, 57, will serve as foreign minister and become prime minister after Bennett's two-year stint.

At: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2021/06/13/netanyahu-out-bennett-in-israels-knesset-elects-new-government/7660774002/

Oregon lawmakers expel Republican Rep. Mike Nearman over Capitol breach

Lawmakers in Oregon on Thursday night expelled a Republican legislator who let violent, far-right protesters into the Statehouse.

Rep. Mike Nearman was the first member of the House to be expelled in its 160-year history. The House voted 59-1 to remove him from the Legislature for disorderly behavior.

The House voted 59-1 to remove Oregon State Rep. Mike Nearman from the Legislature for disorderly behavior.

Nearman, 57, was seen on security video opening a door to protesters on Dec. 21 as lawmakers met in emergency session to deal with economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Protesters barged into the building, which was closed to the public because of coronavirus safety protocols, got into shoving matches with police and sprayed officers with bear spray.

“It’s impossible to overstate the seriousness of the reason we are here today,” Rep. Paul Holvey said.

“Rep. Nearman enabled armed, violent protesters to enter the Capitol, breaching the security of the Capitol, which was officially closed to the public, and also endangered the authorized staff and legislators inside the building.”

At: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mike-nearman-expelled-oregon-legislature_n_60c30e6ae4b059c73bd7d559

Disgraced Oregon Representative Mike Nearman: Nearing prison?
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