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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 12:36 PM
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Canada starts legal marijuana sales Wednesday as world watches closely

Source: USA Today

Canada’s launch of legal marijuana sales may set the stage for a global cannabis revolution, unleashing a wave of high-quality medical research that could bolster pot's reputation as a healthier alternative to alcohol and tobacco and fuel a economic boom across the USA.

Starting Wednesday, Canada becomes the highest-profile country to not only decriminalize cannabis possession and use - but to tax, regulate and monitor its growth, distribution and sale.

Canada’s national approach means pot businesses can use banks, trade stocks and sponsor peer-reviewed medical studies like any other pharmaceutical operation.

It's a far cry from the piecemeal approach taken in the USA, where cannabis entrepreneurs worry the Justice Department may swoop in if the political winds shift. Though a majority of states have adopted some form of legal weed, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the USA.

Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/canada-starts-legal-marijuana-sales-wednesday-as-world-watches-closely/ar-BBOs4uD

Our friends north of the border celebrate as Canada becomes the second nation in the Americas, after Uruguay, to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

FBI raids San Juan city offices weeks after Trump alleges corruption

Source: The Hill

FBI agents raided San Juan's municipal building on Tuesday amid an investigation into purchasing practices conducted by city officials, including Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.

A spokesman for the agency told news service elnuevodia.com that Tuesday's raid was related to an ongoing investigation into whether the mayor's office and other city officials had shown favoritism when the city agreed to a contract with the company BR Solutions for $4.7 million over two years.

BR Solutions is owned by Leonel Pereira O'Neill, a Puerto Rican businessman who has donated to the campaigns of several local politicians, including Cruz's, according to the news service.

The raid came several weeks after President Trump singled out Cruz while attacking Puerto Rican officials for the slow recovery efforts on the island, accusing the municipal officials of allowing widespread corruption.

"It was a total mess, it was corrupt - couldn't be worse," Trump said in an interview last month.

Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fbi-raids-san-juan-city-offices-weeks-after-trump-alleges-corruption/ar-BBOtgeS

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. A Trump target?

Baldwin urges 'overthrow' of Trump government via voting

Source: AP

Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal of President Donald Trump with a serious call Sunday night for voters to use the Nov. 6 midterm elections to peacefully "overthrow" the government.

After reprising his role as Trump on "Saturday Night Live," Baldwin flew to New Hampshire, where he was the keynote speaker at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's annual fall fundraising dinner.

"The way we implement change in America is through elections. We change governments here at home in an orderly and formal way," he said. "In that orderly and formal way and lawful way, we need to overthrow the government of the United States under Donald Trump."

Baldwin said on issue after issue, Republicans are destroyers, not builders.

Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/celebrity/baldwin-urges-overthrow-of-trump-government-via-voting/ar-BBOomeY

Alec Baldwin and the subject of his SNL impersonation: So much winning.

Brazilian supporter of Haddad assassinated after voting

A Brazilian composer was stabbed to death Sunday in the northern city of Salvador de Bahia, after he participated in a public forum and debated against radical supporters of far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

Moa do Katendê, a 63 year-old composer and capoeira dance choreographer, was assassinated shortly after he publicly announced he would vote for the Workers Party’s leftist candidate Fernando Haddad.

The murderer, Paulo Sérgio Ferreira de Santana, 36, turned himself to the police after the crime and expressed regrets, local authorities reported.

One of the victims’ brother was also injured during the fight. The crime was heavily condemned on social media.

Bolsonaro emerged from Sunday's election with a surprisingly strong 46% - putting him within 4 points of winning in the first round outright. He will instead face off with Worker's Party nominee Fernando Haddad, who garnered 29%.

Haddad was nominated after former President Lula da Silva, the clear favorite in polls going into this year's election, was barred from running due to his being incarcerated - a sentence supporters believe was issued with the very intent of barring him.

At: https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Brazilian-Supporter-of-Bolsonaro-Assassinated-After-Voting-20181008-0016.html

Brazilian composer and choreographer Moa do Katendê, 1954-2018.

His murder following a discussion in which he expressed opposition to fascist candidate Jair Bolsonaro has raised alarm in multicultural Brazil.

Death flight pilot during Argentina's Dirty War granted house arrest, underscoring recent trend

Mario Arrú, a former pilot sentenced to life in prison last year for manning the infamous death flights during Argentina's last dictatorship, was granted house arrest yesterday.

Arrú, 74, was among two Navy pilots and 46 others sentenced for their roles in the death flights, which from 1976 to 1978 transported at least 4,400 detainees.

These included French nuns Alice Domon and Leonie Duquet, as well as the founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo - one of whom, Esther Ballestrino, was a friend and former colleague of the future Pope Francis.

Arrú piloted their December 14, 1977, death flight.

The detainees, mostly from the ESMA detainment center in Buenos Aires, were dropped at night to their deaths over the Río de la Plata estuary. The practice was ended on the eve of the 1978 World Cup, for fear tourists and journalists might see some of the corpses that had been washing up around the city and in neighboring Uruguay.

He later became an Aerolíneas Argentinas pilot, and was not identified until turning himself in in 2011. He was later detained for probable cause until his sentencing last November.

A disturbing trend

Arrú's transfer from prison to house arrest reflects a disturbing trend under the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration.

When Macri took office in December 2015, 603 human rights abuse convicts were in prison compared to 439 under house arrest.

The number in prison has since fallen steadily to 272, while those under house arrest has risen to 641 - a relative decline of those in jail from 58% to 30%.

Human rights groups note that numerous Dirty War convicts enjoying house arrest have been found repeatedly violating their confinement, in some cases hundreds of miles from their homes. Thirty-six remain at large, including several who took advantage of house arrest to flee altogether.

They've also condemned what they consider a policy of coddling Dirty War perpetrators on Macri's part.

Macri had referred to human rights as a "scam" during his 2015 campaign, labeled the trials "a culture of vindictiveness," and as president had a number of judges who have advanced human rights cases removed.

Macri's Justice Minister, Germán Garavano, held a meeting on April 25, 2016, with the country's most prominent Dirty War apologist, Cecilia Pando. The meeting was intended to be secret.

More recently, Garavano sponsored an October 6 meeting in Boulder, CO, between relatives and lawyers of Dirty War convicts and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

ESMA/Death flight convicts Jorge "Tigre" Acosta, Alfredo Astiz, and Mario Arrú during their sentencing last November.

All remain unrepentant for their role in 5,000 deaths at the ESMA detention camp, and all see the Macri administration as an opportunity to seek amnesty in some form.

Over 200 Dirty War convicts have thus far been granted house arrest under Macri, a benefit denied to over 20 political opponents currently in pre-trial detention on largely unbstantiated charges.

Brazil election 2018: exit polls show first-round victory for far-right candidate Bolsonaro

Source: The Guardian

When exit poll results were announced, putting Jair Bolsonaro well ahead of Fernando Haddad (with 45% of the vote to Haddad's 28%), the crowd celebrated, chanting "Lula thief!" and "Yes to him!"

Supporters remained confident of a first-round win despite an IBOPE exit poll showing Bolsonaro with 45%.

Things are moving fast here and 68% of the vote has already been counted. It looks like Bolsonaro is just going to miss out on the 50% of the vote he needed to win a majority in the first-round and secure a first-round victory, which means he and Haddad will face off again in a second round of voting on 29 October.

Behind Bolsonaro in the polls is Haddad, a former So Paulo mayor and 55-year-old intellectual. He took over as the PT candidate after Lula da Silva was ruled ineligible to run, due to the fact he is in jail. Haddad is promising a return to the days of economic boom enjoyed under Lula, who was president from 2003 to 2011.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2018/oct/08/brazil-election-2018-polls-close-after-chaotic-and-unpredictable-campaign-live

Fascist candidate Jair Bolsonaro (left) will face off with Worker's Party candidate Fernando Haddad (middle).

Democratic Labor Party candidate Ciro Gomes (right), who received 14% of the vote, may prove pivotal in deciding the winner of the upcoming, October 28 runoff.

Meng Hongwei: China confirms detention of Interpol chief

Source: BBC News

China has confirmed it is holding the missing head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei.

Beijing said he was under investigation by the country's anti-corruption body for unspecified breaches of the law.

Mr. Meng, 64, who is also listed as a vice-minister of public security in China, was reported missing after travelling from the city of Lyon in France, where Interpol is based, to China.

His family had not heard from him since he left Interpol headquarters on 25 September.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-45777681

The man who knew too much? Interpol head Meng Hongwei in his native China shortly before he was apprehended.

Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics kicks off in history-making ceremony

The 3rd Summer Youth Olympic Games kicked off in Argentina's capital in an open street party on Saturday.

It's the first time an Olympic opening ceremony has been held in the streets of a city and free for the general public, away from a traditional stadium.

The focal point was the Buenos Aires Obelisk, in the middle of the city's 9th of July Avenue - known as the world' widest boulevard.

An estimated 200,000 people filled the streets, while the athletes and the Olympic family were among the audience. The young Thai soccer team Wild Boars, who were rescued from Tham Luang cave in Thailand, were also invited to the opening ceremony.

About 4000 young athletes from 206 countries and regions around the world will participate in 32 sports in the next 12 days, to be held in seven venues in and around the city. This is also the first Olympic competition in history with the same number of men and women athletes.

More circus, less bread

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri announced the official opening of the Youth Games. The games, awarded to Buenos Aires in 2013, are a needed political respite for the increasingly unpopular Macri.

Argentina entered into deepest economic crisis since 2002 when a carry-trade debt bubble imploded in April, prompting around $30 billion in capital flight since then and a fall in the peso's value by half.

The crisis forced Argentina to request a $50 billion IMF credit line in June - a bailout conditioned on steep budget cuts which have exacerbated an already severe recession.

The city of Buenos Aires invested $246 million in 27 different infrastrustructure projects over the last four years in preparation for this week's games. Another $150 million have been spent on goods and services related to the games.

The centerpiece was the Olympic Village itself, whose 1,118 apartments, designed by local architects Pablo Carballo and Maricruz Errasti, will be later converted into public housing - a welcome boost to the surrounding Villa Soldati ward, one of the poorest in the city.

At: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-10/07/c_137515975.htm

The Olympic Village. Located beside the principal venue for the games as well as in one of the city's poorest neighborhood, the 1,118-unit dormitories will be converted to public housing after the games.

Argentina: Key congressional Macri ally convicted and sentenced on corruption charges

Argentine Congresswoman Aída Ayala, a prominent member of President Mauricio Macri's right-wing "Let's Change" coalition, had an indictment on corruption charges upheld by a federal appeals court today.

Ayala, 65, had been indicted by Federal Judge Zunilda Niremperger on May 28 on money laundering and racketeering charges related to santiation contracts awarded during her 2003-15 tenure as mayor of Resistencia, the nation's 11th largest city.

The $30 million contract had been awarded by Ayala in 2014 to a shell company (PIMP S.A.) established for the purpose by her ex brother-in-law Alejandro Fischer, who placed his fiancée (a fashion model) and her mother as principals.

None have experience in waste management.

Judge Niremperger ordered Ayala arrested, as well as a lien placed on some 200 million pesos ($8 million at the time) in personal assets.

Double standard

Today's ruling upholds the May 28 sentence. Ayala has, however, been shielded by her parliamentary immunity.

Parliamentary immunity requires a two-thirds majority in the Lower House to revoke, and her "Let's Change" caucus has thus far used their narrow majority to block the vote from reaching the floor.

Macri's caucus has come under fire for shielding Ayala, one of his top allies in northern Argentina. Critics note the October 25, 2017, expulsion of opposition Congressman Julio de Vido on similar charges - albeit without yet having been convicted.

Indeed, one of the two charges on which de Vido was indicted - for alleged overpayment for imported natural gas during his 2003-15 tenure as Planning Minister under Macri's predecessor - was later dropped on March 8 on appeal for lack of merit.

The report on which the prosecution has based de Vido's indictment was found to be fabricated and the author of the report, David Cohen, later charged with giving false testimony.

The judge who had commissioned Cohen's report, Claudio Bonadío, is known as Macri's "napkin" (pocket) judge - a nickname he earned in 1996 when a top official under then-President Carlos Menem wrote his name on a café napkin as one of several judges Menem could count on as cronies.

Bonadío currently oversees many of the cases involving former President Kirchner or her cabinet, despite requirements that federal cases be radomly assigned by lot.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F146753-cambiemos-y-el-dilema-del-desafuero&edit-text=

Congresswoman Aída Ayala and Macri during the 2015 campaign.

Ayala was convicted on Argentina's equivalent of RICO charges as head of a racketeering outfit run by three relatives.

Macri's "Let's Change" caucus has thus far refused to strip her of parliamentary immunity, as they have with an opposition congressman last year and are trying to do so with other opponents.

Swedish parties mull grand coalition as deadlock weighs

Sweden’s political deadlock is starting to loosen.

As formal talks enter a second week, Center Party leader Annie Lööf on Tuesday let it slip that she’s thinking about alternatives, should her first preference for a center-right Alliance government prove impossible.

“An Alliance government is our main focus,” she said after meeting with speaker Andreas Norlen. “If that doesn’t work there are many different possible solutions between the blocs. Even if I don’t think a grand coalition is the best alternative, it shouldn’t be excluded in a complicated parliamentary situation.’’

Such a grand coalition could include “one or more” of the Alliance parties and the Social Democrats, she said.

That will be welcome news for acting Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who has been staking his claim on continued power in peeling off Lööf’s Center Party from the four-party Alliance. His red-green coalition would have a majority with the Center Party. Still, Lööf has said she won’t cooperate with the former communist Left Party, a key Löfven ally.

Her comments offer the first sliver of daylight in the political impasse created by the election three weeks ago. The vote saw Löfven’s Social Democratic-led bloc winning 144 seats to the opposition’s 143 seats, leaving both without a majority.

The nationalist Sweden Democrats emerged with 62 seats, effectively blocking any path to power. But the establishment parties have so far refused to work with the Sweden Democrats because of its neo-Nazi roots.

At: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-02/swedish-center-party-hints-at-grand-coalition-as-deadlock-weighs

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven makes a point to centrist alliance leader Ulf Kristersson (Moderate), Annie Lööf (Center), and Jan Björklund (Liberal) in Parliament.

Sweden's elections on September 9 resulted in deadlock, leading to grand coalition talks between Löfven's Social Democratic-led alliance (144 seats) and the Moderate Party-led opposition (143).

The grand coalition would be viable even without the 31 seats in Lööf's right-leaning Center Party, the most averse to the idea.

The neo-Nazi Swedish Democrats joined the opposition in a no-confidence vote against Löfven on September 25; but have been excluded from any possible future government.
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