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forest444's Journal
forest444's Journal
Missing entry

November 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton, the clear favorite among Argentines.

A poll conducted by Buenos Aires polling firm of Poliarquía revealed that 72% of Argentines polled would choose Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for President of the United States; her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, would receive just 6%.

The poll, published Novermber 3, surveyed 1,170 Argentines age 18 or over and has an estimated margin of error of 2.9%.

The poll also revealed that 53% had a favorable opinion of Secretary Clinton, with 29% having an average opinion and just 8% a negative view. Trump, on the other hand, was viewed favorably by just 6%, with 18% having an average opinion and a whopping 67% a negative view.

Neither candidate, however, was regarded as highly as President Barack Obama, who was viewed positively by 64%, in an average way by 24% and negatively by 8%. President Obama's approval in Argentina has risen steadily since his state visit in March, when it was 49% (with 15% viewing him negatively at the time).

Some 62% of those polled believed that a Clinton presidency would be better for Argentina than a Trump presidency compared to 5% who believed that Trump could benefit Argentina more; some 24% believed that the result would make no difference in that regard.

Even so only 40% professed interest in the U.S. election, compared to 59% who stated having "little or no" interest (only 21% had "no" interest).

While President Obama's approval has risen to all-time highs for a U.S. President among Argentines, the percentage of respondents who believe relations should be "closer" has declined somewhat since March - from 43% to 33%, with those believing they should be more "distant" edging up from 20% to 24%.

Praise from U.S. officials and corporate figures for the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration, whose austerity and trickle-down policies have led to a deep recession in Argentina, has reportedly erosed this sentiment somewhat. These proportions are still a notable improvement from 2008, when only 20% wanted closer ties compared to 37% who wanted more distant ones.

The percentage of Argentines who believe relations between the two nations are currently "positive" (49%) far outweighs those who believe they are "negative" (9%).

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/espanol/2016/11/07/clinton-es-la-favorita-de-los-argentinos-para-presidir-eeuu-segun-una-encuesta/&prev=search

November 7, 2016

Running with his wife as VP, Daniel Ortega wins 3rd consecutive term in Nicaragua

Source: Fox News Latino

President Daniel Ortega won re-election to a third consecutive term as Nicaragua's leader, electoral officials said late Sunday. With about a fifth of ballots counted in the six-candidate presidential race, Ortega had more than 71% of the votes, the president of the Supreme Electoral Council, Roberto Rivas, said.

Ortega ran with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as his vice presidential candidate in a race that pitted him against five lesser-known candidates after court rulings weakened the opposition. They defeated former Contra guerrilla Maximino Rodríguez of the right-wing Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), who obtained 14.2%, and four other candidates.

Critics of the government said the election was unfairly tilted against the opposition, but Murillo praised the process. Rivas said 65% of Nicaragua's 3.8 million registered voters participated in the election. The opposition, which had urged people to boycott the vote, disputed that, contending turnout was low. The main opposition movement, the Broad Front for Democracy, estimated "more than 70 percent" of voters did not cast ballots.

Ortega and his leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) have benefited from the Central American country's steady economic growth and low levels of violence compared to neighboring Honduras and El Salvador. Many Nicaraguans also cite the first lady's social programs as a major reason for the governing party's popularity.

But critics accused Ortega and his allies of manipulating the political system. In July, Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council effectively decimated the opposition by ousting almost all its members from congress.

After helping topple the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza as a Sandinista guerrilla leader, Ortega ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, then lost power in an unexpected electoral defeat. He returned to the presidency through the ballot box in 2007.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2016/11/07/running-with-his-wife-as-vp-daniel-ortega-wins-3rd-consecutive-term-in/

November 3, 2016

Argentine computer industry threatened by import tariff rescission proposed by Macri

Officials from Argentina's Ministry of Production revealed during a colloquium hosted in seaside Mar del Plata by the IDEA business roundtable that import tariffs for notebooks and desktop PCs will be slashed from the current 35% rate to zero.

The announcement was the latest in a series of trade tariff reductions enacted, often by decree, since President Mauricio Macri took office last December. Manufacturing has contracted 7.3% as of September, with 68,000 jobs lost in that sector - nearly a third of the 213,000 layoffs registered so far this year.

"We agree that lowering the costs of selling information technology would be positive. What we diasagree with is the method," said Sergio Airoldi, CEO of Air Computers wholesalers. "We believe that a sudden and immediate withdrawal of import tariffs as announced, from 35% to 0% and in a recessionary context like the present one, automatically destroys around 3,000 direct jobs and 12,000 indirect ones," Airoldi noted. "This will lead to the closure of a innumerable small and medium businesses that move our industry."

Airoldi instead proposed an import tariff reduction to 16% for finished computers and to 0% for parts, which he believes would lower prices while allowing the sector to adapt without generating a loss of jobs.

Argentina's computer industry employs approximately 5,500 people and according to the Chamber of Argentine Business Machines (CAMOCA) manufactures around half of the 4.7 million units sold nationally in 2015. The sector was given a significant boost by the Conectar Igualdad (Connecting Equality) program announced by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2010, which distributed 5 million netbooks - all domestically manufactured - to public school children between 2011 and 2015.

The program, despite campaign promises to the contrary, was likewise discontinued by President Macri.

"It's inappropriate and unjust that only PCs, notebooks, tablets be targeted, while continuing to subsidize an inefficient industries such as cell phones and TVs - which cost twice as much as in the rest of the world," Airoldi stressed.

"This administration has demonstrated a capacity for dialogue; it would be good to show capacity for reflection as well."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.canal-ar.com.ar/23599-Sergio-Airoldi-propone-una-alternativa-a-la-quita-de-aranceles-para-importar-PCs.html&prev=search

November 2, 2016

Historically black church in Mississippi set ablaze, vandalized with ‘Vote Trump’

Source: TPM

A historically black church in Greenville, Mississippi was set on fire and vandalized with graffiti reading “vote Trump” on Tuesday night.

“It is being investigated as a hate crime,” Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons told TPM on Wednesday, calling the incident at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church a “hateful and cowardly act.”

“This is a direct assault on people’s right to freely worship,” Simmons added. “We are going to investigate the matter with all deliberate speed and will not rest until the perpetrator is arrested and prosecuted.”

Simmons said the Greenville Fire and Police Departments, the local district attorney and the Washington County Sheriff’s office, in addition to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Jackson branch of the FBI, were collectively investigating the fire.

No suspect has yet been identified.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/black-church-mississippi-burned-vandalized-vote-trump

October 29, 2016

Argentine scientists march against Macri's budget cutbacks; Minister of Science threatens to quit.

Scientists, researchers, and students organized a march in front of the Argentine Congress in Buenos Aires Thursday to protest steep cuts to federal science and research budgets proposed by the right-wing Mauricio Macri adminsitration. Similar demonstrations were held in the cities of Bariloche and Córdoba, home to important federal research centers.

The Macri administration's FY2017 budget request included a new round of cuts for Argentina's three main federal scientific agencies: the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Research Council (CONICET), and the National Space Commission (CONAE).

Their combined budgets had already been reduced from $1.3 billion in 2015 (the last fiscal year before Macri took office) to $950 million in 2016, and would, per the administration's FY2017 budget passed by Congress this month, decline further to $775 million - a 40% cut compared to 2015 levels.

Other research agencies, such as the National Industrial Technology Institute (INTI) and its agricultural counterpart (INTA) are also being cut in real terms by nearly 30%. President Macri was denounced last December by INTI staff for appointing Javier Ibáñez, a soccer hooligan and former municipal official with no credentials, as its director.

One bright spot was at CONICET, whose budget ($565 million) was maintained at current levels after its board of directors issued an open letter to President Macri on October 22. The largest research agency in the country, CONICET employs 20,000 researchers and technicians - nearly 40% of the nation's total, including the private sector.

Its budget is nevertheless down significantly from its high in 2015 of $750 million.

Brain drain

The cuts are steepest at the Ministry of Science and Technology itself, which had a $276 million earmark in the 2016 budget but only $114 million for FY2017 - a 59% cut. The Ministry of Science, established in 2007 by former President Néstor Kirchner, finances research and imports costly precision equipment for scientific use, such that while its budgets are assigned in pesos its real costs are highly dollarized.

"These cutbacks are very deep, and are creating the conditions for a renewed brain drain," the director of CONICET's Tucumán office, Daniel Campi, said. "This defunding process is entering its second year, but would probably take a decade to recover from due to all the research projects that would have to be discontinued and all the teams that would be broken up."

An estimated 15,000 scientists, engineers, and technicians emigrated from Argentina between the dictatorship of Gen. Juan Carlos Onganía, which fired 1,400 academics in 1966 for political reasons, and the 2001-02 economic crisis. One of the policy centerpieces of the Ministry of Science, the Roots Program, led to the return of over 1,300 scientists to Argentina since its inception in 2003. The program is, for the 2017 fiscal year, being largely defunded.

Out of orbit

Argentina's budding satellite program, lauded by NASA as "the leader in its field in Latin America" after its successful manufacture of two communications satellites (ARSAT 1 and 2) in 2014 and 2015, has also been put on the chopping block by Macri. The CONAE budget was slashed from $170 million in FY2016 to $97 million next year, and work on the ARSAT 3 and 4 satellites, cancelled.

Foreign firms have meanwhile been given permits for new ground stations in Argentina, further undermining ARSAT's viability.

Science and Technology Minister Lino Barañao, who has held the post since its establishment in 2007 and was the only prominent official retained by Macri from his predecessor, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, stated that "if funds are not forthcoming, it will be very difficult for me to stay on. I can't be complict in the destruction of something so important for the nation as well as for me personally."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/303012/cientificos-se-movilizaron-contra-el-ajuste&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.energypress.com.ar/85840-el-presupuesto-que-el-gobierno-propuso-a-ciencia-y-tecnologia-para-2017-representa-el-porcentaje-mas-bajo&prev=search


Defendamos la ciencia - Defend science[/center]

October 23, 2016

Argentine judge, first to refer to 1970s Dirty War as genocide, forced to resign by Macri gov't.

Argentine Federal Judge Carlos Rozanski, best known for presiding the 2006 trial of convicted Dirty War murderer Miguel Etchecolatz, submitted his resignation last Thursday. While reading Etchecolatz's sentencing Judge Rozanski became the first magistrate in Argentina to refer to the 1975-79 Dirty War, during which up to 30,000 dissidents disappeared, as a "genocide."

Judge Rozanski resigned amid an investigation ordered by the Disciplinary and Prosecutorial Commission of the Council of Magistrates for alleged abuse of authority, falsification of public documents, and prevarication. The Council of Magistrates is controlled by President Mauricio Macri's right-wing "Let's Change" alliance.

The investigation follows a complaint by the longtime head of the Judicial Employees' Union, Julio Piumato. Rozanski's attorney, Eduardo Barcesat, noted however that the complaint had been previously filed and found without merit.

"The complaint," Barcesat alleged, "is being revived with the administration's connivance in order to roll back the trials for crimes against humanity currently being presided over by Judge Rozanski. Rozanski had been denouncing ongoing intimidation on the part of the Council of Magistrates and the country's powerful right-wing media since President Macri took office in December.

Rozanski, 65, has presided over the First District Federal Court of La Plata (30 miles SE of Buenos Aires) since 2000. He rose to international prominence during the 2006 trial of former Buenos Aires Province Police Inspector Miguel Etchecolatz, who on September 19 of that year became only the second officer convicted of crimes against humanity after President Néstor Kirchner's signature of a bill rescinding amnesty for such perpetrators in 2003.

The Etchecolatz case has been marked by repeated cases of intimidation against not only the judge, but numerous witnesses as well - notably the late Jorge Julio López, who disappeared the day before Etchecolatz's sentencing to life in prison. More recently, the National Penitentiary Service physician who determined that there were no medical grounds to grant Etchecolatz house arrest, Dr. Virginia Creimer, found her dog stabbed to death in her garden; the bloody knife was left by her front door.

Ten days later, on August 20, a La Plata tribunal granted Etchecolatz house arrest - a ruling condemned by local and international human rights associations.

A scam

At least 36 Dirty War convicts have been granted house arrest since Macri, who described human rights as "a scam" during his 2015 campaign, took office. The pace of prosecutions has likewise slowed dramatically since then.

This approach was further underscored by Defense Minister Julio Martínez's decision to allow Dirty War convicts to be treated in military hospitals (which had been banned due to a numerous escape attempts), as well as by revelations that Justice Minister Germán Garavano had held secret talks in April with Argentina's leading Dirty War apologist, Cecilia Pando.

These developments mark a sharp departure from the Kirchner era, when 2,389 officers were accused, 1,132 arrested, and 681 convicted - marking the first time in world history that human rights abuses were systematically prosecuted (rather than a few top officials).

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201610/17290-despues-de-denunciar-presiones-renuncio-el-juez-federal-que-condeno-a-etchecolatz.html&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.resumenlatinoamericano.org%2F2016%2F08%2F15%2Fargentina-mataron-al-perro-de-la-medica-que-reviso-al-genocida-etchecolatz-convocan-nueva-concentracion-para-rechazar-prision-domiciliaria%2F

October 21, 2016

Freedom of the press faces judicial harassment in Brazil

The same judicial system that exists to ensure rights can instead become a tool to violate rights and restrict freedom of the press, as seen with the recent wave of lawsuits against journalists and the media in Brazil.

The latest high-profile case involves the Gazeta do Povo, the main daily newspaper in Curitiba, the capital of the southern state of Paraná. The news daily faces 48 lawsuits from judges and public prosecutors who are suing the paper and several of its employees for reporting their incomes in February.

“There were weeks when four workdays out of five were spent running from one town to another in Paraná, to appear at hearings. I think overall we traveled more than 10,000 kilometres,” Rogerio Galindo, one of the three reporters facing legal action, told IPS.

Elvira Lobato, a journalist who writes for the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, went through a similar ordeal after publishing a December 15, 2007, article titled “Universal celebrates its 30th birthday, with a business empire.” The article dealt with the obscure dealings of the evangelical Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which owns television and radio networks and newspapers.

Lucio Flavio Pinto, an award-winning journalist who has published the independent newsletter Jornal Pessoal since 1988 in Belém, the capital of the northern state of Pará, has faced 33 legal actions brought by the local media empire “O Liberal” since 1992, after he uncovered illegal activities allegedly engaged in by its owners, the Maiorana family.

There have been other “attempts to curtail freedom of the press that in turn help to prevent new cases” with their strong repercussions, Ángela Pimienta, head of the Institute for Journalistic Development that maintains the internet portal Press Observatory, told IPS.

“Recurrent legal actions are the most efficient form of censorship,” said Pinto, recognised as an “information hero” by the Paris-based Reporters without Borders. In his case he did not receive solidarity from the National Association of Newspapers, which, like other newspaper owners' associations in Latin America, are often seen by news staff themselves as tacitly reinforcing, rather than combating, judicial harassment against journalists.

At: http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/10/freedom-of-the-press-faces-judicial-harassment-in-brazil/

October 21, 2016

Amid spate of attacks on women, Argentina's Macri seeks to cut Gender Violence Prosecutor's office.

A congressional bill sponsored by the administration of Argentine President Mauricio Macri was denounced by opposition lawmakers as rescinding the office of the Federal Prosecutor on Gender Violence (UFEM) by omission.

The UFEM office was created by a bill signed on June 3, 2015, by Macri's predecessor, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, to coordinate prosecutions of violence against women as well as abatement measures. One in ten Argentine women polled in 2013 said they had suffered domestic violence at least once in their lives; of 286 women murdered in Argentina in 2015, 89% were murdered in the home and 72% by a husband, partner, or ex.

The ranking member of the Committee on Institutional Affairs, Marianela Labozzetta of the center-left FpV, stressed that because UFEM operates under the purview of the Office of the Attorney General, any bill that proposes to modify the AG charter would eliminate UFEM it the clause governing it were excluded, as is the case in the current version of the bill.

The bill was introduced by members of President Macri's right-wing PRO party primarily to impose an unrenewable term limit of five years for the post of Attorney General, the nation's top prosecutor. Opposition lawmakers denounced its true intent that of removing the current Attorney General, Alejandra Gils Carbó.

Gils Carbó, 58, was appointed to her post by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in August 2012, and is seen by the administration as a key obstacle to its push to exert tighter control over Argentina's federal prosecutors.

News of the UFEM omission emerged the same day that marches took place nationwide to protest violence against women under the banner of Ni Una Menos - 'Not One Woman Less'. The October 19 marches were prompted by the brutal slaying of 16-year old Lucía Pérez by rapists; similar marches were held the same day in neighboring Chile following the murder of 9-year old Florencia Aguirre by her stepfather.

Congressman Pablo Tonelli, a senior PRO member and chairman of the Committee on Institutional Affairs, claimed the rescission was an "oversight" and promised to include the UFEM in the final draft. Similar oversights, however, in decrees signed by President Macri - notably decrees rescinding the 2005 Education Financing Law (which established that public education spending be no less than 6% of GDP) and the 2006 National Education Law (which made high school compulsory to grade 12) - were never remedied.

Congresswoman Labozzetta believes that preventing violence against women "isn't on the administration's agenda," and pointed out that Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal - whom Macri is grooming for the PRO nomination in 2019 - has spent a mere 2% of the budget passed by the Provincial Legislature for gender violence abatement.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.diariohuarpe.com/actualidad/nacionales/el-gobierno-eliminaria-la-unidad-fiscal-de-violencia-contra-la-mujer/&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicargentina.com%2Fnotas%2F201610%2F17278-omitieron-la-creacion-de-cualquier-estructura-fiscal-que-investigue-los-crimenes-de-genero.html

October 14, 2016

The computer voting revolution is already crappy, buggy, and obsolete

Six days after Memphis voters went to the polls last October to elect a mayor and other city officials, a local computer programmer named Bennie Smith sat on his couch after work to catch up on e-mail.

The vote had gone off about as well as elections usually do in Memphis, which means not well at all. The proceedings were full of the technical mishaps that have plagued Shelby County, where Memphis is the seat, since officials switched to electronic voting machines in 2006. Servers froze, and the results were hours late. But experts at the county election commission assured both candidates and voters that the problems were minor and the final tabulation wasn’t affected.

That story might have held up if Smith, a financial software developer and church organist, hadn’t been conducting an election night experiment. The precinct, No. 77-01, is a Democratic stronghold and has one of the largest concentrations of African American voters in a city known for racially fractured politics. According to the tape, 546 people had cast ballots.

When he got an e-mail a week later with Shelby County’s first breakdown of each precinct’s voting, he ran down the list to the one precinct where he knew the tally for sure. The count for Unity Christian showed only 330 votes. Forty percent of the votes had disappeared.

Shelby County uses a GEMS tabulator — for Global Election Management System — which is a personal computer installed with Diebold software that sits in a windowless room in the county’s election headquarters. There was no indication from the technician running Shelby County’s GEMS tabulator that any voting machine hadn’t checked in or that any votes had gone missing. Yet as county technicians followed up on the evidence from Smith’s poll-tape photo, they discovered more votes that never made it into the election night count, all from precincts with large concentrations of black voters.

Multiple lawsuits in Shelby County over the past 10 years have alleged that voting machines and computerized tabulators have been used to steal or suppress votes — deepening the distrust of a system some locals see as stacked against them.

For the members of Congress, who in 2002 provided almost $4 billion to modernize voting technology through the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA — Congress’s response to Bush v. Gore — this probably wasn’t the result they had in mind. But voting by computer has been a technological answer in search of a problem. Those World War II-era pull-lever voting machines may not have been the most elegant of contraptions; but they were easy to use and didn’t crash. Georgia, which in 2002 set out to be an early national model for the transition to computerized voting, shows the unintended consequences. It spent $54 million in HAVA funding to buy 20,000 touchscreen voting machines from Diebold. Today, to support the older Windows 2000 operating system, the state had to hire a contractor to custom-build 100 servers — which, of course, are more vulnerable to hacking because they can no longer get current security updates.

By 2006 every state but New York had dumped their pull-lever and punch-card machines in favor of computerized voting. The voting tech vendors rushed systems to market, often without adequate testing. California declared almost all of the electronic voting machines in the state unfit for use in 2007 for failing basic security tests. San Diego County put its decertified machines in storage and has been paying the bill to warehouse them ever since: No one wants to buy them, and county rules prohibit throwing millions of dollars’ worth of machines in the trash bin.

Mark Earley, an election official in Tallahassee during the 2000 Florida recount, says the competition solved the revenue problem by focusing less on making equipment and more on long-term contracts. It was an enhancement of the old razors-and-blades strategy: Sell the razors cheap and make money on the blades, and make even more money by making the razors so hard to use that customers pay you to give them a shave.

At: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-voting-technology/

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