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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
January 31, 2022

Howard Hesseman, the D.J. Johnny Fever in 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' dies at 81

Howard Hesseman, the actor and improvisational comedian best known for playing a stuck-in-the-’60s radio disc jockey in the TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” died on Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 81.

Mr. Hesseman, who had himself been a radio DJ in the '60s, received two Emmy nominations for playing Dr. Johnny Fever on “WKRP in Cincinnati,” which ran on CBS for four seasons from 1978 to 1982.

Mr. Hesseman, who was also admired for his improvisational talent, played small parts in “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Sanford and Son.”

George Spiro Dibie, the former national president of the International Cinematographers Guild, recalled in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation that Mr. Hesseman’s experience was evident on the set of “Head of the Class,” a sitcom that ran on ABC from 1986 to 1991.

Actor Howard Hesseman, 1940-2022, in his iconic role as the irreverent D.J. Johnny Fever in WKRP in Cincinnati.

Hesseman had himself been a radio DJ in the '60s.
January 28, 2022

Argentina and IMF reach preliminary agreement on refinance of $45 billion Macri-era debt

Argentine President Alberto Fernández announced that Argentina and International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff have reached a preliminary agreement to refinance $45 billion in debt borrowed during the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration in 2018-19.

The country will meet a $731 million payment due this week - but the IMF will reimburse, after signing, some $4.3 billion in principal paid so far by Argentina in order to strengthen nearly-depleted net Central Bank reserves.

Argentine Economy Minister Martín Guzmán, who has led negotiations with the IMF since President Alberto Fernández took office two years ago, obtained his request that IMF disbursements exceed scheduled repayments.

Payments to the IMF will thus be covered until September of next year by the IMF itself.

The program will likewise not require austerity for the next two years - though Guzmán agreed to gradually reduce "primary" fiscal deficits (i.e. excluding debt service) from 3% of GDP in 2021 to 0% by 2025, while maintaining critical current account surpluses.

And unlike past IMF programs, the agreement envisages no labor law deregulation, state layoffs, or changes to public pensions.

The agreement, however, needs ratification by both the IMF board and Argentina's Congress to take effect - a tall order given that Fernández's right-wing opposition, which sees political benefit from a default, has vowed to oppose any agreement.

A drubbing in the 2021 mid-terms left Fernández's center-left Front for All with razor-thin majorities in both houses.

Argentina had earlier refinanced $66 billion in privately-held foreign debt - around a third of the total.

At: https://www-eldestapeweb-com.translate.goog/economia/deuda-con-el-fmi/el-gobierno-anunciara-un-acuerdo-con-el-fmi-sin-ajuste-que-preve-una-baja-del-deficit-de-1-punto-en-dos-anos-20221281130?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en-US&_x_tr_pto=wapp

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and Argentine President Alberto Fernández during their first in-person meeting in Rome last May.

Today's historic agreement, if ratified, would avert Argentina's default on a record, $45 billion IMF bailout granted to former right-wing President Mauricio Macri during his failed, 2019 re-election bid.

The bailout was reportedly granted at former President Donald Trump's behest - over the IMF board's objections - during Christine Lagarde's tenure.
January 26, 2022

Support your children if they are gay: Pope Francis tells parents

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that parents of gay children should not condemn them but offer them support.

He spoke in unscripted comments at his weekly audience in reference to difficulties that parents can face in raising offspring.

Those issues included "parents who see different sexual orientations in their children and how to handle this, how to accompany their children, and not hide behind an attitude of condemnation," Francis said.

He has previously said that gays have a right to be accepted by their families as children and siblings.

At: https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/vatican-city-support-your-children-if-they-are-gay-pope-francis-tells-parents-2731103

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican last week.

"Never condemn your children," said Francis, who said that parents should accompany LGBT children and "not hide behind an attitude of condemnation."
January 13, 2022

First Argentine pico-satellite launched for internet services in agriculture

Argentina's first pico-satellite, created by the firm Innova Space, has been launched from the SpaceX platform at Cape Canaveral in the US.

The launch is expected to be the starting point for a constellation of 100 pico-satellites to be sent into space over the next three years.

The General San Martín pico-satellite will enable agricultural companies in provinces or areas without internet access to apply Internet of Things (IoT) technology to optimize production.

The PocketQube satellites weigh around 1kg and measure approximately 50cm x 50cm x 150cm, roughly the size of a large soda can.

At: https://www.bnamericas.com/en/news/first-argentine-pico-satellite-launched-for-iot-services-in-agriculture

Students of the Technical School N° 5 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and their professor, Alejandro Cordero, pose with their General San Martín pico-satellite - the first of its type in Latin America.

Developed with just $75,000, the small satellite will facilitate internet access to farmers in remote areas of the far-flung country.

With a Ministry of Techonology grant of some 50 million pesos ($450,000), the team plans to create 100 such pico-satellites to be sent into space over the next three years.
January 12, 2022

Reps. Garcia, Ocasio-Cortez, Jayapal, and 15 others urge Secretary Yellen to oppose IMF surcharges

Today Representatives Jesús “Chuy” García (IL), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Pramila Jayapal (WA), and 15 other Democratic Members of Congress, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging her to use the voice and vote of the United States at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to abolish the IMF’s surcharge policy.

The policy requires countries with substantial or longstanding debts to the IMF to pay considerable fees on top of their debt servicing costs.

Debtor countries are expected to owe more than $4 billion in surcharge payments to the IMF — on top of interest payments and fees — by the end of 2022.

“At a time when countries around the world should be focused on this public health crisis, these surcharges divert billions of dollars into the IMF’s pockets here in Washington and prevent an equitable recovery,” Congressman García noted.

Co-signers of the letter include Representatives Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-00), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Barbara Lee (CA-13), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Karen Bass (CA-37), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Ro Khanna (CA-17), and Judy Chu (CA-27).

At: https://chuygarcia.house.gov/media/press-releases/representatives-garc-ocasio-cortez-and-jayapal-urge-secretary-yellen-oppose-imf

Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during a recent press conference.

They, and 15 other congressional Democrats, issued an appeal to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging her to encourage the IMF to abolish its surcharge policy.

IMF surcharges are, by the end of this year, expected to cost debtor nations over $4 billion - even as they struggle with the ongoing pandemic and its economic impact.
January 12, 2022

U.S. inflation soared 7% in past year, the most since 1982

Inflation jumped at its fastest pace in nearly 40 years last month, a 7% spike from a year earlier that is increasing household expenses, eating into wage gains and heaping pressure on President Joe Biden and the Federal Reserve to address what has become the biggest threat to the U.S. economy.

Prices have risen sharply for cars, gas, food and furniture as part of a rapid recovery from the pandemic recession that was fueled by vast infusions of government aid and emergency intervention by the Fed, which slashed interest rates.

As Americans have ramped up spending, supply chains have been squeezed by shortages of workers and raw materials.

At: https://apnews.com/article/consumer-prices-inflation-c1bfd93ed1719cf0135420f4fd0270f9

A shopper appears in a 1982 grocery store ad.

Though monthly inflation slowed to 0.3% in December, consumer prices in 2021 rose at their fastest annual rate since June 1982.

It was also the highest calendar year inflation since an 8.9% rate in 1981.
January 11, 2022

Joseph Stiglitz: Argentina's COVID Miracle

Unlike the United States, which could spend one-quarter of its GDP protecting its economy from the COVID-19 fallout, Argentina entered the pandemic with the deck stacked against it.

Yet, thanks to the current government’s policies to strengthen the real economy, the country has been enjoying a remarkable recovery.

Argentina was already in a recession when the pandemic hit, owing to a large extent to former President Mauricio Macri’s economic mismanagement.

Everyone had seen this movie before: A right-wing, business-friendly government had won the confidence of international financial markets, which duly poured in money.

Then, when things went awry – as many observers had anticipated – the IMF stepped in in 2018 with its largest-ever rescue package: a $57 billion program, of which $44 billion was quickly dispersed in what many saw as a naked attempt by the IMF, under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, to sustain a right-wing government.

Given the mess that Argentine President Alberto Fernández inherited in late 2019, it appears to have achieved an economic miracle.

From the third quarter of 2020 to the third quarter of 2021, GDP growth reached 11.9%, and is now estimated to have been 10% for 2021 (compared to 4.5% projections) – while employment and investment have recovered to levels above those when Fernández took office.

The country’s public finances have also improved, and there has been significant growth in exports.

At: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/argentina-covid-economic-miracle-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2022-01

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Argentine Economy Minister Martín Guzmán - his former student.

Professor Stiglitz lauded Argentina's against-all-odds economic recovery - with real GDP now around 3% higher than the same time in 2019, and budget deficits at a modest 4% of GDP.

He noted, however, that the $44 billion bailout debt inherited from right-wing President Mauricio Macri - reportedly granted over the IMF's own objections at Donald Trump's behest - would be difficult to repay even under a 10-year agreement.
January 7, 2022

UNESCO: 55 journalists killed in 2021, impunity 'alarmingly widespread'

Fifty-five journalists and media professionals were killed last year, latest UN data showed on Thursday, with nearly nine in 10 killings since 2006 still unresolved.

Impunity is “alarmingly widespread”, said the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“Once again in 2021, far too many journalists paid the ultimate price to bring truth to light”, said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

Although the number of reported victims stands at its lowest for a decade, UNESCO underlined the many dangers that reporters face in trying to cover stories and expose wrongdoing.

Mexico led the list, with 9 journalists killed in 2021; Afghanistan was second, with 7.

At: https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/01/1109232

Mexican photojournalists protest the murder of dozens of colleagues over the past decade.

The country led the world in the number of murdered journalists for the third year in a row in 2021.
January 7, 2022

Sidney Poitier, first Black man to win Best Actor Oscar and a titan of cinema, dead at 94

Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win a Best Actor Oscar, has died. He was 94.

With a staggering list of accolades, including an Academy Award, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a knighthood, Poitier leaves behind an indelible legacy that extends far beyond his commanding screen presence.

Poitier’s own story, with its humble beginnings and remarkable twists of fate, rivals that of any of his movies.

He was born two months premature in Miami in 1927 - the likelihood of his survival so remote, his father returned home with a shoebox in which to bury the baby, the last of his many siblings.

Film success was slow in coming for Poitier; but a role in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s racially explosive drama No Way Out in 1950 cast Poitier as a noble African American taking a stand against bigotry.

In 1959, Poitier picked up his first Best Actor Oscar nod for his role in The Defiant Ones, opposite Tony Curtis.

That same year, Poitier starred in A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway and a star-studded adaptation of the Gershwin musical Porgy and Bess.

Poitier won the Best Actor Academy Award in 1963 — the first Black man to do so — for his role in Lilies of the Field.

He released three iconic films in 1967: To Sir With Love, In the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

Poitier went on to have 55 credits on film, as well as directing nine - including two with comedian Gene Wilder: Stir Crazy (1980) and Hanky Panky (1982).

At: https://people.com/movies/sidney-poitier-first-black-man-to-win-an-oscar-and-a-titan-of-cinema-dead-at-94/

Legendary actor, director, and activist Sidney Poitier, 1927-2022.

"If I'm remembered for having done a few good things, and if my presence here has sparked some good energies, that's plenty."
January 4, 2022

Nick Colionne, smooth jazz guitarist, dies on New Year's Day at 55

Nick Colionne, a smooth jazz artist known for his guitar skills and his colorful suits and hats, died unexpectedly Saturday at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Elgin, Illinois, according to his publicist. He was 55.

The artist's team remembered Colionne as an "ultra-stylish" urban jazz star who released a string of independent albums in the 1990s before gaining prominence on the global jazz scene in the early 2000s.

Over the course of his career, Colionne hit No. 1 on Billboard's smooth jazz airplay chart eight times, and he was the only smooth jazz artist with five No. 1 hits from a single album, 2016's "The Journey."

Fellow musicians publicly mourned Colionne, known to many of them as "Uncle Nick."

"This man took me under his wing like a nephew," musician Bee Boisseau wrote in an Instagram post. "Sharp dressed ... AT ALL TIMES! And he could play that daggone guitar!!! So much fun to be around ... so much wisdom ... such talent! I am better for knowing him."

At: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/music/2022/01/02/nick-colionne-smooth-jazz-guitarist-dies-new-years-day/9071414002/

Smooth jazz guitarist Nick Colionne, 1966-2022.

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