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Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner visits Tiempo Argentino newsroom after attack.

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner visited the Tiempo Argentino newsroom yesterday, two days after a violent attack by a group of sixteen armed men on the newspaper left two workers injured and drew scathing criticism from human rights groups across the country.

The former head of state was guided through the building, located in Buenos Aires and home to both the newspaper and Radio América, by Más Tiempo cooperative president Javier Borelli and the news director of the newspaper, Gustavo Cirelli, who along with the workers have kept the publication running as a cooperative.

Mrs. Kirchner inspected the wreckage in the newsroom following her stop at the Comodoro Py Courthouse yesterday afternoon on yet another of an ongoing series of summons by Judge Claudio Bonadío, a close ally of right-wing President Mauricio Macri. She said that she had not witnessed such an act since before the fall of the last military dictatorship in 1983.

“I have not seen an attack of this type against a media outlet since the restoration of democracy. I do not remember anything like this during a democratic administration since 1974 or 1975, prior to the military dictatorship,” she said referring to the often deadly Argentine Anticommunist Alliance attacks that took place at the time with the tacit approval of then-President Isabel Perón.

The former president condemned police action following the raid, denouncing their “protection of a gang that is still free because of the police,” a reference to the failure of the federal police officers called to the newsroom on Monday to arrest any of the perpetrators. She called for “strong legal action from the workers and their lawyers before prosecutors and judges” in the hope of seeking justice against those who carried out the attack.

Buenos Aires Prosecutor Verónica Andrade has arraigned the attackers and their ringleader, businessman Mariano Martínez Rojas, on seven charges including destruction of property and aggravated assault, and has ordered that police custody be provided for the newspaper office.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/217574/expresident-visits-tiempo-argentino-newsroom-after-attack

Clashes in Santiago as police block Chilean student march.

Chilean police yesterday fired water cannons and tear gas at hundreds of protesting university students as they attempted to march on the Ministry of Education to protest proposed education reform measures.

The students, organized by the Confederation of Chilean Students (CONFECH), met at multiple points around downtown Santiago in the morning and began marching toward the ministry, located next to the government palace. “On the same path of changing education, lies the revolution,” “Stopping the reforms of the neoliberal state,” read some of the signs carried by the protesters. But after peacefully walking a few blocks they were intercepted by riot police and dispersed with tear gas.

The mayor of Santiago had earlier refused permission for the march.

Police did not provide figures of detainees. A journalist from state television reported the arrest of cameraman Gonzalo Carvajal “with absolutely no provocation” and said “they beat him, the camera must have been destroyed, they put him in the police van and took him away.”

Students also marched in Valparaíso, Temuco, Valdivia, and Concepción.

Demands, doubts

The students reject the country’s long-awaited education reform bill, delivered to Congress on Monday following at least nine delays, while also demanding the resignation of Education Minister Adriana Delpiano.

The reform was the principal campaign promise of President Michelle Bachelet. However, the fall in international copper prices, Chile’s main export, has tied up the proposed reforms over cost concerns. Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdés, said universally free access to higher education would call for additional annual state investment of nearly $4 billion.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/217498/clashes-as-police-block-chilean-student-march

As revenue falls below inflation, tax burden in Argentina shifts from agro-exporters to consumers.

The Argentine Federal Revenue Agency (AFIP) reported that federal revenues in June rose by 24% from the same time a year ago, for a total of 174.6 billion pesos ($12.3 billion).

The figure is an improvement from May, when revenues rose by a meager 17.9% over a year earlier; but for the fifth straight month they fell far short of inflation, which according to the Economy Ministry at the City of Buenos Aires (whose mayor is a close ally of right-wing President Mauricio Macri), reached 44.5% in May.

Assuming yearly inflation in June remained the same (it is likely higher, given the preliminary data), federal revenues thus fell by 14% in real terms and by 21% in dollar terms over June 2015.

AFIP Director Alberto Abad justified the shortfall by pointing out that "we are seeing the effects of the tax cuts and all the other changes made;" but admitted that "with economic activity flat and consumption falling, revenue collections followed accordingly."

The report also revealed that trends differed widely among the major federal revenue streams. Social security contributions rose 37.3% to 42.5 billion pesos ($3 billion); value-added taxes, by 38.2% to 33.3 billion pesos ($2.4 billion); and wealth taxes (assets and accounts), by 41.2% to 14.4 billion pesos ($1 billion).

Income tax revenue rose by a disappointing 13.8% to 49 billion pesos ($3.5 billion) however. This represented a 21% reduction in real terms, the result of Macri tax cuts mostly benefiting those earning over 30,000 pesos ($2,100) a month - nearly twice the median full-time income in Argentina - as well as a sharp fall in real incomes themselves of at least 11%.

This reduction nevertheless paled in comparison with the one enjoyed by exporters, whose witholdings plummeted by 52.6% to 4.9 billion pesos ($350 million) - the lowest figure, in dollar terms, in a decade. The Macri administration sharply reduced withholding taxes on most grain and oilseed exports by decree the day after taking office seven months ago.

The aim was to incentivize agricultural exports, which were 18% higher during the first half of 2016 ($13.3 billion, or 42% of the total) than the same time last year. Central Bank data, however, suggest that the additional $2 billion in exports were mostly wired abroad, since capital flight actually increased to $3 billion last quarter.

Import taxes, on the other hand, jumped by 64.1% to 4.7 billion pesos ($330 million) due to Macri's devaluation (which raised the cost of imports in pesos by over 50%) as well as higher import volumes as a result of free trade policies. Local manufacturers have cut output by around 5% since the beginning of the year, with many industry managers citing both flat demand and rising imports as causes.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politicargentina.com%2Fnotas%2F201607%2F15112-la-recaudacion-impositiva-crecio-solo-un-24.html&sandbox=1

Offices of Tiempo Argentino, a Buenos Aires newspaper critical of Macri, ransacked.

The production offices of Tiempo Argentino, a Buenos Aires newspaper critical of the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration, and its companion radio station, Radio América, were ransacked early on Monday morning. Furniture, fixtures, computers, server, documents, and communications equipment were destroyed.

The attack took place at around 12:30 a.m. at the newspaper's sole location, a small office building in the largely residential Palermo section of Buenos Aires. Several men in ski masks broke into the office through the entrance to the radio station and forced the three newspaper employees sleeping inside out onto the sidewalk before vandalizing the premises.

Founded in 2010, its 125 employees formed a workers' self-management cooperative after its previous owner, Matías Garfunkel, sold the newspaper in February. They took turns guarding the production office at night as a result of both reiterated threats and a dispute with the buyer, Mariano Martínez Rojas, who according to employees has carried out asset stripping at the newspaper with the goal of closing it.

Martínez Rojas was present at the time of the attack, which according to employees was allowed to take place by police in their refusal to intervene or to allow employees to intervene. Police eventually mediated an exit with the vandals; but not before considerable damage had been inflicted. Police were later filmed escorting a number of vandals out without issuing arrests and without removing their ski masks. Martínez Rojas escaped without arrest.

Police refused to comment; but the assistant manager of the city's Social Communications Office, pro-Macri propagandist Yamil Santoro, dismissed the incident as "a problem between two private parties." While he described Martínez Rojas' use of vandals as "illegal," Santoro defended the decision not to arrest them, calling the vandalism "not flagrant."

The president of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Hebe de Bonafini, spoke in support of the newspaper's employees and tied the attack to the Macri administration, whom she likened "to the last dictatorship, with the exception the thy're not killing people - yet." The attack, she said, "was exactly like those that took place during the dictatorship, when they'd force their way into homes and offices and destroy everything." Bonafini lost two sons and a daughter-in-law during the Dirty War in 1977, and co-founded the world-renowned human rights organization she still heads.

The attack came the day after Tiempo Argentino revealed that Shell Argentina profited by $100 million after Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren decided to import natural gas from a Chilean company purchased by Shell Argentina just months before the newly-elected Macri appointed Aranguren Energy Minister. The purchase resulted in higher prices for consumers in Argentina, where it's now winter, because gas from Bolivia (the country's normal supplier) is 56% cheaper.

Speaking at a press conference hosted by the Buenos Aires Journalists Union (SIPREBA) the following morning, the president of the Más Tiempo cooperative, Javier Borelli, described the incident as a "violation of our rights by both management and the state, of which we expect that our security be guaranteed."

Borelli explained that Martínez Rojas was able to elude arrest by showing police a false lease agreement when, according to Borelli, "no current lease agreement exists between Martínez Rojas and building's owners."

"The damage was inflicted with the goal of stopping the publication of Tiempo Argentino," Borelli said. "We were about to improve our daily online edition, and this complicates that as well as our weekly newsprint edition distributed every Sunday."

Borelli, however, assured that publication will continue. A special newsprint edition is being prepared for Tuesday, July 5.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.diarioregistrado.com%2Fsociedad%2F-el-dano-fue-para-impedir-que-tiempo-pueda-seguir-saliendo-_a577a673dcfe4c87c72d757be

Tiempo Argentino's Facebook page (if you'd like something translated, please ask): https://www.facebook.com/DiarioTiempoArgentino/?fref=ts

Linda Burney becomes first Indigenous woman elected to Australia's lower house.

Source: The Guardian

Australia will have the first Indigenous woman elected to the lower house of the federal parliament, with Linda Burney claiming victory in the marginal seat of Barton.

Burney, the former deputy leader of the New South Wales Labor party, called her election in the southern Sydney seat on Saturday night.

The Wiradjuri woman resigned from the NSW parliament in March and announced she was running for the federal seat of Barton. The seat was a marginal Liberal one but after redistribution became a notionally marginal Labor seat.

Burney claimed victory after 7pm on Saturday. “Wonderful, wonderful,” Burney told Sky News.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jul/02/linda-burney-first-indigenous-woman-elected-australia-lower-house

Argentina's Macri: "If I said what would happen, people would've voted to put me away in a nuthouse"

Speaking in Buenos Aires to a gathering of the Christian Association of Business Leaders - a business roundtable close to the far-right Catholic sect Opus Dei - Argentine President Mauricio Macri admitted that "if I said what would happen, people would've voted to put me away in a madhouse."

The phrase, part of a private speech in which the embattled Macri exhorted executives to "share in the effort" to reverse the sharp increase in unemployment since he took office seven months ago, recalled a similar quote often attributed to former President Carlos Menem: "if I told people what I would do, no one would have voted for me."

The latter quote, which was often used against the populist-turned-privatizer Menem, was actually said in his defense by one of his well-known supporters, tennis great Guillermo Vilas, in a 1989 interview. Menem himself never publicly said those words; Macri, however, did.

The president's admission comes on the heels of a deep recession triggered by his December 17 decision to devalue the peso by 40% in one day, as well as subsidy cuts and other austerity measures that have more than doubled public transport fares and raised utility rates by over 300%. The austerity plan - enacted in direct contradiction to reiterated campaign promises - has also triggered a wave of small-business bankruptcies, the loss of at least 150,000 jobs, and an inflation rate of 45%.

The Macri administration's claim that GDP grew 0.5% in the first quarter from the same time a year ago was likewise met with skepticism. "Considering the cuts implemented by the administration and their impact on prices," industrial economist Mariano Kestelboim observed, "it's striking that their estimates would show government consumption rising by 2.7% or private consumption by 1.1%."

Consumer confidence, meanwhile, has languished since April at 30% below the level registered when Macri was elected last November according to the market-friendly Di Tella University. A recent poll by Isonomía showed that 47% of Argentines feel they are worse off today than when Macri took office in December, with only 9% saying they are better off. A whopping 80% of respondents stated that Macri has failed to live up to their expectations.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.24con.com/nota/150518-si-decia-lo-que-iba-a-hacer-me-encerraban-en-un-manicomio/&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.noticiasurbanas.com.ar/noticias/segundo-semestre-igual-o-peor/&prev=search

Macri electoral reform bill raises questions over electronic voting, campaign finance.

The electoral reform bill introduced last week in Argentina by the Mauricio Macri administration is likely to have smooth sailing in Congress; but opposition leaders expressed doubts over the draft bill’s proposals for an electronic voting system.

The bill, which would amend the Political Parties Financing Law signed in 2009, also included campaign finance reform proposals that are mostly of a voluntary nature. These were also met with skepticism, given that financial reports from all the main parties — including President Macri's PRO — have been plagued with irregularities.

In the case of the PRO-led "Let’s Change" coalition, its titular financial officers were two retired women, aged 68 and 82, with no official affiliation with the party. These revelations come less than three months after the Chequeado fact-checking website revealed that Macri had received almost three million pesos ($320,000) in cash donations from government contractors ahead of the 2015 presidential elections, which is illegal in Argentina.

These and other irregularities were confirmed by the auditor’s body at National Electoral Court (CNE) that is now reviewing the financial reports submitted by the country’s political parties after the PASO primaries held in August last year.

Federal prosecutor Jorge di Lello responded to news of alleged illegal practices spotted in Macri’s right-wing PRO; but also in financial reports filed by the center-left Victory Front (FpV) candidate Daniel Scioli and the centrist Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa. “Either those doing the accounting don’t know their maths, or there’s something strange going on,” di Lello told Radio del Plata. “Campaign financing is the greatest corruption phenomenon in the country.”

Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio and Political Affairs Secretary Adrián Pérez touted the bill's anti-corruption provisions such as expanding the National Electoral Court (CNE) audit council from seven to 24 members. Auditors have been requesting an expansion in the council to help speed the review of the staggering 3,727 financial reports filed last year at the national, provincial, and municipal levels.

Experts in political financing have said campaign expenses and contributions in last year’s elections were underreported, suggesting the declared funds amounted to less than 10% of the total. Macri's presidential campaign, for instance, declared expenses of only 27 million pesos ($2.9 million at that time) and 22 million pesos in private contributions.

But activities such as opinion polls, political consultancy services, rallies, and payments for prime-time TV spots are rarely detailed in these reports. The PRO declared 92 million pesos ($10 million) in unspecified "party development" expenses during 2015.

Electronic voting

The government-sponsored bill calls on replacing the existing paper ballots currently in use in most of the provinces with a fully electronic system befor the 2017 mid-term elections. Electronic voting in Argentina was first used in Salta Province in 2009, and extended to the Buenos Aires mayoral election last year.

The Macri administration touts electronic voting as a way to achieve greater “transparency and agility” during the vote count. Proposals for electronic voting came under fire last year, however, after a Buenos Aires IT security professional (Joaquín Sorianello) discovered and reported vulnerabilities in the electronic system used in the Buenos Aires mayoral elections (which the ruling party candidate narrowly won despite being behind in most polls).

Once the vulnerabilities - including exposed SSL keys and ways to forge ballots with multiple votes - were reported to the manufacturer of the voting machines ("Magic Software Argentina" and the media, Macri - who was mayor at the time - ordered Sorianello detained and his computers and electronic devices impounded.

Justicialist (Peronist) Party legal counsel Jorge Landau said the Macri administration should not rush to implement the electronic system. “Since we’re talking about a new, unknown tool for most Argentines, there should be only a progressive implementation of the measure — they way they did in Salta,” Landau said, adding that “Brazil took eight years to switch from paper ballots to the electronic system.”

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/216914/electoral-bill-raises-questions-on-electronic-voting-campaign-financing
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