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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
August 31, 2021

Army General Chris Donahue was the last soldier to leave Afghanistan

Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commander of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, was the last soldier to leave Afghanistan, officials said Monday.

U.S. Central Command released a picture of Donahue, 52, preparing to board the final military C-17 cargo plane to leave Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of Central Command, told reporters in a virtual briefing that with the departure of the C-17 at 3:29 p.m. ET, "every single U.S. service member is now out of Afghanistan."

At: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/army-general-was-last-soldier-leave-afghanistan-n1278085

Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commander of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, seen boarding the last C-17 transport place out of Kabul earlier today.

August 30, 2021

Buenos Aires Province gets 98% backing to restructure debt

Buenos Aires Province won enough creditor support to restructure 98% of its $7.1 billion in overseas debt - putting Argentina’s largest and most populous province a step closer to ending a 16-month default.

The province, home to 3 out of 8 Argentines, will swap all of the bonds it had offered to exchange except for portions of dollar-denominated notes due 2021 and euro-denominated bonds due 2020 - which had been issued under rules that required a higher amount of creditor participation to pull all holders along.

The deal will allow the province to save $4.6 billion over the next six years.

The exchange marks a success for Buenos Aires Governor Axel Kicillof, 49 - known for butting heads with vulture funds as Argentina’s economy minister in 2013-15 - and his strategy of structuring the deal in a way designed to dissuade creditors from holding out.

It also brings Argentina’s most recent round of debt restructurings nearer a close, after a sharp economic contraction exacerbated by the pandemic prompted nearly every province to restructure obligations over the past 12 months.

President Alberto Fernandez's administration likewise swapped $65 billion in securities a year ago - part of some $100 billion in added foreign debt inherited from right-wing predecessor Mauricio Macri.

At: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-30/buenos-aires-province-to-restructure-98-of-bonds-in-debt-deal

Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof announces today's agreement with bondholders, with Provincial Economy Minister Pablo López.

The swap allows the province to emerge from a 16-month default, and to save $4.6 billion in scarce foreign currency over the next six years.

The province's foreign currency-denominated debt had ballooned by 68%, to $9.1 billion, under his predecessor María Vidal - part of a nationwide policy under Vidal's political boss, former President Mauricio Macri.
August 27, 2021

Argentine congressional candidate shot

Argentina's mid-term elections were shaken last night by the shooting of Miguel Arias, a provincial legislator and congressional candidate in Corrientes Province for the ruling, center-left Front for All coalition.

Arias, 71, was shot at an estimated distance of around 200 ft, reportedly from a .22 caliber air rifle - a popular weapon among rural landowners, many of whom are staunch opponents of the Front for All.

According to Corrientes Teaching Hospital authorities, where Arias was flown, no vital organs were impacted and he is in guarded but stable condition.

The incident took place around 7:00 p.m. local time in rural Tapebicuá, as Gloria Pared, candidate for Tapebicuá deputy mayor, spoke during a small rally ahead of Sunday's first-round elections in the province.

Arias was sitting on the dais with fellow Front for All candidates when he was seen clutching his abdomen at the liver. The shot had apparently been fired with a silencer.

“It is striking that they did not find who shot him,” Front for All gubernatorial candidate Fabián Ríos said. "It's a very small town, and it's inexplicable that it was not immediately detected who it was.”

Arias was driven to nearby Paso de los Libres - his hometown - where he received diagnostic surgery. He was later flown to Corrientes (the provincial capital) to undergo further surgery.

Argentine Security Minister Sabina Frederic flew to Corrientes Province earlier today, and ordered that Arias be guarded by federal - rather than provincial - police.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https://www.eldestapeweb.com/politica/elecciones-2021/el-intento-de-homicidio-a-miguel-arias-estremece-a-corrientes-a-dos-dias-de-la-eleccion-20218278440

Provincial Legislator and center-left Front for All congressional candidate Miguel Arias, who was shot last night just days from Sunday's first-round elections in Corrientes Province - in NE Argentina.

The apparent use of a rifle with scope and silencer - a popular weapon among local landowners - and the lack of statements from Argentina's right-wing opposition have added to the intrigue around the incident.

Arias' shooting was the highest-profile attack on an Argentine politician since the May 2019 murder of Congressman Héctor Olivares, who was shot in a case of mistaken identity.

“In the rule of law, political violence is inadmissible,” President Alberto Fernández, who leads the Front for All, tweeted. “The provincial government must quickly clarify the fact and punish those responsible.”
August 24, 2021

Argentina's d'Alessiogate: Marcelo d'Alessio convicted on attempted extortion charges

An Argentine federal court presiding over a case of state-sponsored extortion from the Mauricio Macri era, has convicted four of the dozens so far indicted as collaborators in the 2016-19 scheme.

The Buenos Aires Federal Tribunal, presided by Jorge Gorini, Rodrigo Giménez Uriburu and Enrique Méndez Signori, handed down a 4-year prison sentence against intelligence asset Marcelo d'Alessio and a 3 year, 8-month sentence against district attorney Juan Bidone.

Federal Intelligence (AFI) agents Rolando Barreiro and Claudio Álvarez received 2-year suspended sentences; Álvarez denied any involvement.

All were found guilty of the attempted extortion in 2016 of merchant Gabriel Traficante, 50.

d'Alessio, 51, an AFI asset with documented CIA and Mosad links, was denounced by Traficante of soliciting a ransom of $600,000 on threat of being tied in the media to the “container mafia” case - a case found to be concocted by d'Alessio for the purpose of extorting Traficante.

His collaborator, right-wing daily Clarín judicial affairs writer Daniel Santoro, had been indicted in 2019 for his role in the larger scheme - but was acquitted this August 13th after the presiding judge found that Santoro's involvement was due to "carelessness."

d'Alessio was likewise linked to Macri-era Security Minister Patricia Bullrich through presidential visitor logs as well as d'Alessio's own phone - both of which show frequent and cordial communications between them.

He chided Bullrich (and Santoro) in his final statement, for “running in a panic to use the media to cover themselves, saying that I was crazy and a liar, and even maintaining that I was talking to a grandchild” - a reference to Bullrich's defense when news of her calls with d'Alessio were revealed in May 2019.

From shakedown to breakdown

The wider d'Alessiogate scandal first surfaced when, in February 2019, 22 hours of incriminating tapes collected by farmer Pedro Etchebest, from whom d'Alessio sought a $300,000 ransom, were published by investigative journalist Horacio Verbitsky.

The tapes show d'Alessio boasting that some $12 million had been coerced since August 2018, that political opponents had been “framed,” and that Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli (a close Macri ally) “managed” the enterprise.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https://www.eldestapeweb.com/politica/espionaje-ilegal/condenan-al-espia-ilegal-marcelo-d-alessio-a-4-anos-por-intento-de-extorsion-en-el-caso-traficante--202182313170

Former Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and now-convicted Argentine Intelligence (AFI) asset Marcelo d'Alessio, with whom Bullrich maintained close and cordial contact throughout the 2016-19 extortion scheme.

d'Alessio was the first of numerous AFI agents and other officials indicted in the far-reaching d'Alessiogate case - involving millions of dollars in extortion and coerced testimony against opponents of right-wing former President Mauricio Macri.

Macri has close ties to both alleged principals in the extortion ring:

To Marcelo d'Alessio through d'Alessio's uncle (whom Macri appointed presidential notary public), and through d'Alessio's former law partner - who administered Macri's blind trust while in office.

And to Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli through the Boca Juniors football club (which Macri headed until entering politics); Stornelli was indicted in a related case but yet not convicted.
August 21, 2021

The capybaras stay: Residents of the Buenos Aires suburb of Nordelta agree to set aside refuge

A recent explosion in the number of capybaras in the upscale Buenos Aires suburb of Nordelta, has prompted local residents to agree to have a wildlife refuge be built for the gregarious but fast-multiplying rodents.

“Working with the Buenos Aires Province Flora and Fauna Directorate, Tigre County, and CONICET (Research Council) specialists to find a solution to the capybara situation, we are building a refuge,” the Nordelta Neighborhood Association (AVN) stated today.

“Nordelta is a city of 40,000 inhabitants, with a great diversity of interests and opinions. Some neighbors are very concerned about the capybaras - that enter their gardens and confront their pets, generating risky situations. And others prioritize preservation of the fauna.”

Known in Argentina as carpinchos, capybaras are the world's largest rodent - growing to around 4 feet in length and 130 pounds.

Native to much to eastern Argentina, they had largely disappeared from the Buenos Aires metro area when Nordelta was established in 1999 - the largest of a string of gated communities built since then on former wetlands around 10 to 20 miles north of Buenos Aires.

Over the last two years however, their number has risen sharply - leading to a number of accidents, damaged gardens, and the recent mauling of a miniature schnauzer.

The Association's Environmental Management, which in began to monitoring capybaras in 2014, noted that “capybara activity in Nordelta grew this year by 17%.”

The size and location of the refuge may become a sticking point though: a square meter of land in Nordelta is priced around $2,200 ($204 per ft²) - even in Argentina's currently depressed real estate market.

At: https://newswep.com/the-capybaras-stay-residents-of-nordelta-will-make-them-a-refuge/

Capybaras - known in Argentina as carpinchos - romp around the upscale Buenos Aires suburb of Nordelta in the recent Apple TV+ documentary The Year Earth Changed, narrated by David Attenborough.

The recent increase in capybaras in lake-strewn Nordelta has resulted in numerous auto accidents and other problems, prompting the neighborhood association to agree to set aside a refuge for the gregarious rodent.

The initiative has the support of Nordelta's developer, Eduardo Costantini, who today Instagrammed that "capybara are helpless and precious beings that need the care and love of all of us!!"
August 18, 2021

"An act of love": Pope Francis urges us all to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Pope Francis is the latest world leader to join in on the "It's Up to You" initiative, hoping to increase trust and the use of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The campaign was launched in February by the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative, and has featured four former presidents and first ladies — including Barack and Michelle Obama — as well as Bishop T.D. Jakes, Wanda Sykes, Darius Rucker, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

On August 18, the Pope, 84, appeared in a video advocating for inoculation alongside six western hemisphere cardinals and archbishops.

With words spoken in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, the hope is that the message is received by communities disproportionately affected by the virus in those regions.

At: https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/pope-francis-urges-us-covid-164100318.html

Pope Francis and Catholic cardinals urge the public, in their native Spanish, to get vaccinated.

"Thanks to God’s grace and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from COVID-19," he said.

"Getting the vaccines that are authorized by the respective authorities is an act of love. I pray to God that each one of us can make his or her own small gesture of love."

While Latin America makes up one twelfth of the world's population, the region makes up nearly one third of the 4.4 million global Covid-19 deaths recorded thus far.
August 18, 2021

Peru Foreign Minister Hector Bejar resigns after suggesting Shining Path rebels had CIA support

Peru’s foreign minister has resigned after footage emerged in which he suggested that a Maoist rebel group that killed tens of thousands of Peruvians had received support from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), making him the first cabinet member to fall under leftist President Pedro Castillo.

Hector Béjar, who in his youth participated in a socialist guerrilla movement, had said he believed the Shining Path rebel group had emerged in part because of backing from the CIA.

“I’m convinced, although I can’t prove it, that the Shining Path was in large part created by the CIA and (other) intelligence services,” Béjar had said in a video dated last year. Béjar, 85, has a PhD in sociology and has worked as a university professor.

About 70,000 people are estimated to have died as government forces battled the Shining Path in the 1980s and early 1990s in large swaths of the country.

The foreign minister’s departure is likely to add more political uncertainty to an administration already navigating a highly volatile and polarized first few weeks that saw the country’s sol currency fall to record lows against the dollar.

At: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/17/peru-foreign-minister-resigns-hector-bejar

Outgoing Peruvian Foreign Minister Héctor Béjar.

Béjar resigned after a 2020 interview surfaced, in which he indicated that the Navy had committed false-flag terrorist acts during the "Shining Path" insurgency era in the 1980s - with training from the CIA.

President Castillo, who took office just three weeks ago, has come under fire for naming a cabinet that critics say is filled with fringe and inexperienced ministers. His backers say the cabinet represents Peru’s marginalized masses.
August 14, 2021

DC military base locked down until armed man detained

Source: ABC News

A military base in the nation's capital was locked down for about two hours Friday, after an armed man ran onto the grounds during a local police investigation of gunshots on the streets surrounding the base.

A statement from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling said the man's firearm was discovered after the intrusion, and the intruder himself was detained around 2:45 p.m. during "a thorough sweep of the installation."

The individual, who was not named, was transferred to Washington's Metropolitan Police Department.

The naval support facility at the north end of the base is used by Marine Helicopter Squadron One, the fleet of green helicopters that carry the president and vice president.

Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/dc-military-base-lockdown-report-armed-person-79443610

A gate at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, in Washington DC.

The base, which hosts the Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters among other strategic military installations, was put on lockdown after an armed man ran onto the grounds amid gunshots on the streets surrounding the base.
August 14, 2021

Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith dies at 68

Nanci Griffith, the Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter from Texas whose literary songs like “Love at the Five and Dime” celebrated the South, has died. She was 68.

Griffith worked closely with other folk singers, helping the early careers of artists like Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris.

She had a high-pitched voice, and her singing was effortlessly smooth with a twangy Texas accent as she sang about Dust Bowl farmers and empty Woolworth general stores.

Griffith was also known for her recording of “From a Distance,” which would later become a well-known Bette Midler tune. The song appeared on Griffith's first major label release, “Lone Star State of Mind" in 1987.

Her 1993 album “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” earned a Grammy for best contemporary folk album. Named after a Truman Capote novel, the album features Griffith singing with Harris, John Prine, Arlo Guthrie and Guy Clark on classic folk songs.

At: https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Grammy-winning-folk-singer-songwriter-Nanci-16385586.php

Nanci Griffith, 1953-2021.
August 13, 2021

Judge won't block Biden administration's new eviction moratorium

Source: NBC News

A federal judge declined Friday to block the moratorium on evictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a victory for the Biden administration's effort to keep renters in their homes during the Covid pandemic.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected an effort by a group of property owners to put the moratorium on hold.

She said she was bound by an appeals court panel's conclusion that an earlier version of the moratorium, based on the same claim of authority the CDC is making now, should be allowed to remain in effect as a public health measure.

“Absent the D.C. circuit’s judgment, this court would vacate the stay” and block the moratorium, the judge said.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/judge-won-t-block-biden-administration-s-new-eviction-moratorium-n1276771

Demonstrators gather during a protest against the expiration of the eviction moratorium outside of the U.S. Capitol on August 1.

Over 8 million households currently face foreclosure or eviction.

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