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Elisabeth Borne becomes France's first female prime minister in 30 years

Source: The Guardian

Élisabeth Borne, the French Minister for Labour, has been appointed Prime Minister – the first woman to hold the post in more than 30 years and only the second female prime minister in modern French history.

“I dedicate this nomination to all the little girls in France, to tell them, ‘Follow your dreams’,” Borne said while taking office. “Nothing should stop the fight for women’s place in our society.”

Borne, 61, an engineer with a long career in government ministries, the senior civil service, public administration and state businesses, was chosen by Emmanuel Macron for the difficult task of delivering his complex policy promises at the start of his second term, against a background of rising inflation and the war in Ukraine.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/16/elisabeth-borne-becomes-frances-first-female-prime-minister-in-30-years

Incoming French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne.

Borne comes from a centre-left background - crucial for Macron’s parliamentary election campaign.

She is the first French female prime minister since Édith Cresson, now 88, who briefly headed the cabinet in 1991-92 under President François Mitterrand.

Actor Fred Ward, of 'Tremors,' 'The Right Stuff' fame, dies at 79

Fred Ward, a veteran actor who brought a gruff tenderness to tough-guy roles in such films as “The Right Stuff,” “The Player” and “Tremors,” has died. He was 79.

Ward died Sunday, his publicist Ron Hofmann said Friday. No cause or place of death was disclosed per the family’s wishes.

Ward earned a Golden Globe and shared the Venice Film Festival ensemble prize for his performance in Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts,” and played the title character in “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.”

He also reached new heights playing Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom in 1983′s Academy Award-nominated film “The Right Stuff.”

At: https://apnews.com/article/alec-baldwin-entertainment-new-york-film-festivals-venice-festival-e9d4ef0e67e3ac1736534dc73ad3ebd3

Actor Fred Ward, as the title character in the 1985 action comedy Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.

Buenos Aires' Liniers stockyards close after 122 years of trading

A full 122 years on from its inauguration, Buenos Aires' traditional Liniers cattle stockyards finally closed its doors on Friday.

With 7,672 animals up for sale, the last auction was held and the bells of the traditional market rang out for the last time.

The bustling stockyards had been slated for closure since 2001, when the City Legislature barred the sale of livestock within city limits.

Delayed by a series of injunctions, an agreement was reached with the city in 2017 for the transfer of the antiquated, 84-acre stockyards to a modern, 270-acre complex near Cañuelas (some 40 miles southwest).

"We would all have preferred to stay here - but it's evident that the place is obsolete," Jorge Longobuco, its manager for the last three decades, admitted. "If we had stayed here we would've had to update it to standards similar to those in Cañuelas."

The city plans to gradually repurpose the land - equal to some 36 city blocks - for parks, schools, public housing and a cultural center that would incorporate the existing headquarters - an 1899 Italianate arcade which houses a museum and serves as the focal point for the Mataderos Fair, a weekly neighborhood staple since 1986.

Mooving on

The Liniers stockyards were inaugurated on March 21, 1900 - when the surrounding Mataderos ward was still a rural outskirt of Buenos Aires and beef was still Argentina's top export earner.

Retired buyer Rafael Andrés, 91, recalls the stockyards' heyday:

“They were trains with hundreds of cars. There was also the pig market, with 12,000 pigs daily; and the sheep market, with 60,000 sheep. They were glory days: all the English slaughterhouses that exported, and 20,000 head of cattle daily.”

In recent decades, an average of around 40,000 cattle were actioned weekly at Liniers to supply beef for the Argentine capital - though since the Covid-pandemic, its activity has been reduced to three days and some 20,000 head per week.

While beef consumption nationally has declined by 40% per person since the 1970s, Argentines still consume more beef per capita than in any other nation: around 118 pounds annually in 2020 (compared to 83 pounds in the U.S. and 17 pounds worldwide).

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/traditional-mercado-de-liniers-cattle-market-closes-after-122-years-of-trading.phtml

The end of an era: An Argentine gaucho looks out over Buenos Aires' Liniers stockyards just before its closure today.

The antiquated stockyards - which has long supplied much of the Buenos Aires beef market - was transferred to a larger, more modern complex some 40 miles southwest of city limits.

Brazil's Lula courts centrists at unofficial campaign launch

At the effective launch of his campaign on Saturday, Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva aimed to lure centrists into his coalition to strengthen his bid to unseat incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro.

“We want to unite democrats of all origins and colors to face and beat the totalitarian threat, the hatred,” da Silva told thousands of supporters of his Workers’ Party, members of unions and political allies who gathered in São Paulo.

“We want to come back so no one ever again dares to challenge our democracy and so fascism returns to the gutters of history, which it should never have left,” the former president added.

“To end this crisis and grow, Brazil needs to be a normal country again.”

The event was technically the launch of da Silva’s pre-campaign, as the law doesn’t permit people to formally declare themselves candidates before Aug. 5.

The leftist, 76, leads all polls to return to the job he held from 2003 to 2010 - but his sizeable advantage against the far-right Bolsonaro in the October election has been narrowing in recent weeks, according to some surveys.

At: https://apnews.com/article/jair-bolsonaro-covid-business-health-campaigns-83819f918df530cc887b0d2c95ecae8e

U.S. GDP fell at a 1.4% pace to start the year as pandemic recovery takes a hit

Gross domestic product unexpectedly declined at a 1.4% annualized pace in the first quarter, marking an abrupt reversal for an economy coming off its best performance since 1984, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The negative growth rate missed even the subdued Dow Jones estimate of a 1% gain for the quarter, but the initial estimate for Q1 was the worst since the pandemic-induced recession in 2020.

A plethora of factors conspired to weigh against growth during the first three months of 2022, which fell off a cliff following the 6.9% gain to close out last year.

Rising Covid Omicron infections to start the year hampered activity across the board, while inflation surging at a level not seen since the early 1980s and the Russian invasion of Ukraine also contributed to the economic stasis.

Prices increased sharply during the quarter, with the GDP price index deflator rising an annualized 8%, following a 7.1% jump in Q4.

At: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/28/us-q1-gdp-growth.html

Worried but still shopping, both private consumption (2.7%) and investment (2.3%) continued to grow in the first quarter - though government (-2.7%) and exports (-5.9%) slipped.

Argentina's Spygate: Seven indicted in connection with 'Gestapo' meeting

Federal indictments have been issued in Argentina against seven officials close to former President Mauricio Macri, in connection with a 2017 meeting in which former Buenos Aires Province Labor Minister Marcelo Villegas expressed his desire for a "Gestapo with which to terminate all labor unions."

Federal Judge Ernesto Kreplak indicted Villegas, then-Provincial Justice Undersecretary Adrián Grassi, La Plata (provincial capital) Mayor Julio Garro, Provincial Senator Juan Pablo Allan - as well as top Macri-era Intelligence Agency (AFI) officials Juan de Stéfano, Diego Dalmau Pereyra and Darío Biorci.

de Stéfano and Dalmau Pereyra were already among dozens so far indicted as part of ongoing investigations into wide-reaching and warrantless surveillance against hundreds of critics and supporters alike of former President Macri during his 2015-19 term.

Biorci was Chief of Staff (and brother-in-law) of indicted Macri-era AFI Deputy Director Silvia Majdalani.

Four construction businessmen and another minister present at the meeting were not indicted.

Judge Kreplak noted in his 247-page ruling, however, that "the businessmen present were not only urged to file complaints (against labor union officials); but were instructed as to how and where - with the guarantee (by Villegas) of having 'checked' with judicial officials that 'this is going to work'."

To the moon

The scheme, Judge Kreplak concluded, "involved a high level of coordination between national, provincial, and municipal authorities" - a clear reference to Macri, former Governor María Eugenia Vidal, and Mayor Garro.

Villegas visited Macri at the Casa Rosada presidential offices shortly before and after the meeting.

His "Gestapo" diatribe, made public last December, was condemned by Argentina's Jewish community (Latin America's largest), and drew comparisons to the country's fascist dictatorship in 1976-83 - when of the 8,960 found to have "disappeared" in a 1984 report, 30% were union members.

The "need to build up cases" against labor unions, as expressed by Villegas, reflected Macri's alleged use of lawfare against opponents, as well as his call that year to have labor leaders and leftists "ejected in a rocket to the moon."

At: https://www-eldestapeweb-com.translate.goog/politica/gestapo-antisindical/gestapo-antisindical-kreplak-proceso-a-los-espias-de-macri-y-funcionarios-de-vidal-202242820290?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Surveillance footage showing then-Buenos Aires Province Labor Minister Marcelo Villegas (upper left) in a June 15, 2017, meeting with numerous Macri-era Intelligence Agency officials and other associates, in which he called for a "Gestapo with which to terminate all labor unions."

Villegas' words reflected an alleged policy of warrantless surveillance and outright lawfare against labor leaders and other opponents during former President Mauricio Macri's 2015-19 term.

Today's are the latest of so far over 50 indictments related to the Macri-era "Spygate" scandal - including Macri himself.

Supreme Court takeover of powerful Council of Magistrates rocks Argentine politics

Argentine politics were rocked this week by the takeover of the powerful Council of Magistrates by the country's Supreme Court.

Leopoldo Moreau, chairman of Argentina's House Intelligence Committee, denounced Monday's installation of Supreme Court Chief Justice Horacio Rosatti as president of the Council as a "soft coup" intended to guarantee impunity for former President Mauricio Macri and other leaders of his right-wing Together for Change ahead of elections next year.

In a unanimous ruling last December, the Supreme Court declared the current law governing the Council - passed by Congress in 2006 - "unconstitutional," thus raising the Council's composition of 13 members to the original twenty.

Established after the country's 1994 constitutional overhaul, the Council of Magistrates approves, oversees and removes federal judges.

Recruiting judges

Moreau accused the Court of "rushing to seize control the Council," in order to stop the renewal of judgeships in the high-profile Comodoro Py Federal Criminal Courthouse - where most cases against prominent federal officials are heard.

"All the cases that (Macri and his entourage) have," he noted, "are in Comodoro Py because there is the gang of accomplices who represent the real powers of Argentina and the U.S. Embassy."

Moreau recalled that Andy Camacho, Regional Resident Legal Advisor at the U.S. Embassy from 2019, left Argentina a year ago after accusations surfaced that he "recruited judges and prosecutors - in much the same way they recruited generals (for coups) in earlier times."

Among the Comodoro Py judges whose renewals were under Council review were Pablo Bertuzzi and Leopoldo Bruglia - whom Macri had hand-picked in 2018, and whose designations were never approved by either the Senate or the Council itself, as Argentine law requires.

Others include Mariano Borinsky, Gustavo Hornos, and Mariano Llorens - all whom were revealed by visitor logs to have met with then-President Macri dozens of times at the Quinta de Olivos presidential residence during his 2015-19 administration.


Many of their visits coincided with high-profile rulings against Macri's predecessor (and chief political rival), Cristina Kirchner, or officials in her 2007-15 administration.

Among them were her Vice President Amado Boudou, who was jailed in 2017 on testimony from Alejandro Vandenbroele - whom documents show to have received 4 million pesos in 2018 (over $130,000 at the time) in an apparent quid pro quo.

Similar doubts cloud the 2017 imprisonment of Kirchner-era Planning Minister Julio de Vido (whose conviction was based on a report shown to be fabricated) and his undersecretary Roberto Baratta - against whom proof later "appeared" in the form of numerous notebooks purportedly detailing hundreds of trips made to collect bribes.

The notebooks, however, were never subjected to a handwriting analysis by the presiding judge (the late Claudio Bonadío) - and when defense counsel for one of the businessmen implicated had digital copies analyzed, some 1,623 alterations were found.

Argentina's Congress is meanwhile wrangling over a new Council law - which passed in the Senate on April 7, and which would limit it to 17 members as well as bar the Chief Justice from presiding.

At: https://www-pagina12-com-ar.translate.goog/416395-leopoldo-moreau-denuncio-un-golpe-blando-de-la-corte-suprema?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Night at the Round Table: Argentina's powerful Council of Magistrates - which approves, oversees and removes federal judges - has been the object of frequent political wrangling since its 1998 establishment.

Critics charge that a recent Supreme Court ruling imposing the Chief Justice himself as presiding officer (as well as raising its composition from 13 to 20) amounts to a "soft coup."

The intent, they allege, is to guarantee the continuity of numerous federal judges shown to have engaged in "lawfare" against progressive federal officials, while providing cover for former President Mauricio Macri from numerous corruption and warrantless surveillance charges.

Macri would be the likely front-runner for the right-wing Together for Change nomination should he run next year.

Economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi dies at 79

French Economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi, long head of the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE) and professor at Paris' prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), died in Paris. He was 79.

A Keynesian economist and professor at Sciences Po, a specialist in theories of inflation, unemployment and the role of economic policies, he had also notably been a member of the Council for Economic Analysis (CAE), a body responsible for advising the French government.

Born in Tunisia in 1942, Fitoussi had also worked extensively in Italy, his other favorite homeland, where he taught at the Luiss University in Rome, and held a seat on the board of directors of Telecom Italia from 2004 to 2017.

A longstanding supporter of debt relief, in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis he participated with 22 international experts in a commission chaired by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, and launched by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the measurement of economic performance.

“A brilliant and committed economist, recognized by his peers internationally, respected and loved by generations of students, consulted and listened to by the highest political leaders, read and heard by a wide public, Jean-Paul Fitoussi is an eminent figure in his discipline,” Sciences Po declared in a press release.

At: https://westobserver.com/news/europe/economist-jean-paul-fitoussi-dies-at-79/

French Economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi, 1942-2022.

“We have to come to terms with it: wars were never financed by taxes but by debt; all wars against Covid require debt. It seems evident that we must learn how to erase debts - and especially those of emerging countries.”

Viewers flock back to MSNBC for Rachel Maddow's return

MSNBC has seen its 9 PM hour viewership nearly double in Rachel Maddow’s first week back.

Rachel Maddow’s return has caused the number of total viewers for the 9 PM MSNBC hour to go from 1-1.2 million to 1.9-2.1 million.

Without Maddow, the 9 PM hour performed on par with MSNBC’s other programming and worse than The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, which follows it at 10 PM ET.

The viewers came back when Maddow returned, which creates a problem for MSNBC, as Rachel Maddow is cutting back to one day a week of hosting starting in May.

At: https://www.politicususa.com/2022/04/15/viewers-flock-back-to-msnbc-for-rachel-maddows-return.html

Ms. News: MSNBC's Rachel Maddow

Britain plans to send migrants to Rwanda under tougher asylum policy

Britain could send tens of thousands of asylum seekers to the East African country of Rwanda, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, aiming to break people-smuggling networks and stem the flow of migrants across the Channel.

Concerns over immigration were a big factor in the 2016 Brexit vote, and Johnson has been under pressure to deliver on his promise to "take back control" of Britain's borders.

But his plan drew swift criticism from opponents of his Conservative Party and from charities.

At: https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uks-johnson-seeks-put-fine-behind-him-with-immigration-plan-2022-04-13/

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a recent visit to a Royal Navy surveillance station.

Johnson's plan to send tens of thousands of asylum seekers to the impoverished African nation of Rwanda drew criticism from among others the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which slammed the Prime Minister for treating refugees as "merchandise."

Even members of his Conservative Party voiced opposition.
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