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forest444

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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 06:11 PM
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Chilean court sentences seven retired officers for dictatorship-era murders.

A Chilean judge yesterday sentenced seven retired members of the country’s military over their responsibility for the murders of eight civilians, and the disappearance of three others, who were opposed to the dictatorship of general Augusto Pinochet. The slayings occurred in a detention centre in Pisagua, in the northern region of Tarapacá, in 1973.

Judge Mario Carroza, who is in charge of human rights violations cases in the Court of Appeals of Santiago, sentenced retired Army Colonel Sergio Benavides and former Carabinero Major Manuel Vega to life imprisonment as the authors of the disappearances and killings. Four other former members of the military were sentenced to 15 years each in prison over their involvement in the incidents, while a seventh was sentenced to 10 years.

The victims were left-wing supporters of the ousted government of President Salvador Allende, and were arrested after the coup and taken to Pisagua camp. There they were beaten and forced to sign blank documents subsequently used in mock military tribunals to condemn the prisoners to death and execute them, according to the judge's inquest.

The ruling states that on September 19, 1973, Juan Calderón, Luis Alberto Lizardi, Marcelo Guzmán, Juan Jiménez, Jesús Cañas, and Michel Nash were taken from their cells and executed near the camp under the pretext that they had tried to escape. The bodies were wrapped in burlap and then buried in a grave in the Atacama desert. In 1990 three of the bodies were found, the others are still missing.

Then on October 11, 1973, Julio Cabezas, Juan Valencia, Mario Morris, José Córdova, and José Lizardi were also taken from their cells in the Pisagua prison camp and executed in a place close to the camp’s cemetery.

The judge’s ruling order the Chilean state to pay a total of 510 million pesos ($780,000) compensation to families of the victims for moral damages.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/220116/chile-court-sentences-dictatorshipera-killers

Clinton, Trump agree to first 2016 Presidential Forum focusing on veterans, national security

Source: NBC News

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump will appear at a Commander-in-Chief forum to discuss national security, military affairs and veterans issues in a primetime event announced Thursday by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

The presidential candidates will appear back-to-back in the one-hour event on September, 7, hosted by the IAVA and simulcast by NBC and MSNBC. The two candidates will answer questions from NBC News and an audience that includes military veterans and active service members.

"IAVA members world-wide, 93% of whom say they'll be voting in November, and many deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, are ready to hear from the candidates and hold them accountable," Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of IAVA, said in the announcement.

Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/card/clinton-trump-agree-first-2016-presidential-forum-focusing-veterans-national-n633741

Argentine Supreme Court strikes down President Macri's natural gas hikes nationwide

Argentina's Supreme Court today annulled the drastic natural gas hikes implemented by the Mauricio Macri administration. The justices, who voted unanimously, urged the national government to call public hearings before deciding on utility rate hikes.

The ruling, which upholds a July 18 injunction against the rate hikes issued by Federal Judge Luis Arias of La Plata, suspends the increases for residential users nationwide. A separate injunction issued by Federal Judge Martina Forns of San Martín on August 4 has suspended electricity rate hikes as well, and was likewise appealed by the Macri administration.

The courts have determined in each case that the hikes were not only “unreasonable” but illegal because they were never submitted to public comment, as the law requires for all large rate hikes.

A poll conducted by the University of Buenos Aires School of Social Sciences showed that 77% of Argentines have had to make "significant adjustments" in their household budgets to pay rate hikes ranging from 300% more for water, 600% more for electricity, and 1000% more for gas (as well as public transport fare hikes of 100%).

The rate hikes - known in Argentina as tarifazos - are part of a broader, IMF-endorsed austerity package which Macri defends as a way to trim $4 billion from the nation's budget deficit of $25 billion last year (4% of GDP).

Critics, however, point out that because the massive rate hikes also affect schools, hospitals, and many other public institutions, the net savings would be at most $1 billion - a figure dwarfed by the $10 billion in tax cuts Macri enacted for agroexporters, large corporations, and the well-to-do.

The rate hikes threatened to aggravate what is already the worst economic situation for the country since the 2002 crisis, with GDP down 3%, retail sales down 8%, and a doubling in overall inflation to 47% a year.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/220128/breaking-court-voids-natural-gas-hikes-nationwide

Provincial Supreme Court in Argentina orders woman imprisoned 2 years ago for a miscarriage released

After being held in prison for more than two years in connection with her controversial conviction for homicide, the Tucumán Province Supreme Court has ordered the release of “Belén,” a woman accused of having an illegal abortion, from jail.

In a victory for human rights organizations and feminist groups that have been lobbying for her freedom for months, Justices Antonio Gandur, Antonio Estofán, and Daniel Posse ordered the Third District Criminal Court to immediately release Belén while the court hears an appeal against her conviction.

“Her release from prison is a victory for the tenacious fight carried out by the women’s movement and the roundtable for Belén’s freedom,” Alejandra del Castillo, the organizer of a recent demonstration demanding she be freed, told the Herald yesterday.

The move comes a week after protests in support of Belén were held across at least 30 cities in the country, and after the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez brought the case to Congress demanding that the Argentine state intervene. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have consistently advocated for her release as well.

Belén, a pseudonym given to 27-year-old defendant to preserve her identity, was sentenced to eight years in prison by a Third District Criminal Court tribunal for aggravated homicide last April after judicial authorities had convicted her for allegedly murdering her baby in a local hospital on March 21, 2014; she was accused of discarding her fetus in a toilet. The defendant argued that she had suffered a miscarriage.

The ruling was challenged by the provincial prosecutor Edmundo Jiménez, who maintained there were serious flaws in her conviction. Jiménez had recommended the province’s Supreme Court accept an appeal by the defendant, stating that Belén’s sentence and the ruling against her was “arbitrary” and should therefore be nullified.

Abortion is illegal in Argentina; but since 1921 the Argentine Criminal Code has provided exceptions in cases of incest, where the life of the mother is in danger, or in cases of rape (but only if the victim is “mentally incapacitated”). Conservative judges in Argentina, many of them tied to the right-wing Catholic sect Opus Dei, have repeatedly tried to nullify this right however.

There were around half a million illegal abortions performed in the country every year, according to Human Rights Watch research from 2009. That figure represents around 40% of all pregnancies.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/220037/tucuman%E2%80%99s-top-court-orders-bel%C3%A9ns-release-from-prison

Feds subpoena records involving Alfonse D’Amato, other political figures in charity probe.

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records involving former Republican Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and other top Long Island political figures as part of a wide-ranging grand jury investigation into the finances of three prominent local foundations that have given out millions of dollars.

They include the Armand and Antoinette D’Amato Family Foundation, of which D’Amato is president; the Elena Melius Foundation, run by power broker and Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius; and the Kermit Gitenstein Foundation, which Steven Schlesinger, the former counsel to the Nassau County Democratic Party, ran as court-appointed manager until May, when he was removed by a Nassau County judge who issued a scathing critique of his stewardship.

Among the others named in the subpoenas are Nassau Democratic leader Jay Jacobs, Nassau Democratic lawyer Thomas Garry and Dana Sanneman, spokeswoman for D’Amato’s powerhouse lobbying firm, Park Strategies.

The probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s Eastern District was launched after a Newsday investigation raised questions about Schlesinger’s management of the $11 million Gitenstein Foundation, which distributed money to the other two charities.

D’Amato, Schlesinger, Garry and Sanneman all declined to comment. Melius declined to say whether he had received a subpoena, but said, “I’ve done nothing wrong.”

At: http://www.newsday.com/long-island/feds-subpoena-records-involving-alfonse-d-amato-other-political-figures-in-charity-probe-1.12186186

Homes, offices of three Macri opponents ransacked in Argentina over the past week; computers taken.

The homes and offices of three prominent public figures in Argentina - journalist Cynthia García, former Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno, and human rights lawyer Laura Figueroa - were broken into and ransacked in three separate events over the past week.

Computers, hard drives, and research material were stolen. All three are vocal critics of the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration.

The first of these incidents took place on Sunday, August 7, at the apartment of journalist Cynthia García in the upscale Palermo section of Buenos Aires. Her two computers, external hard drives, tablet, and several spiral notebooks were taken - all of which contained large amounts of research on both past and upcoming projects for the well-known investigative reporter. A television was also taken; but no cash or other valuables.

García, 44, is best known in Argentina for her work as a panelist for the former Argentine Public Television news roundtable program 6,7,8. While at 6,7,8, García's investigative work revealed in 2015 that syndicated right-wing op-ed writer Luis Majul, known as a mudslinger against Macri's predecessor, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had received over 14 million pesos ($2.5 million at the time) in vaguely-worded municipal publicity contracts under then-Mayor Macri.

Majul, who writes for the country's largest media conglomerate, the Clarín Group, staunchly supported Macri in elections last year - even referring to him as being "like Mandela." Numerous similar contracts signed by Macri as mayor are currently under investigation.

The theft at García's apartment was followed that afternoon by a similar incident at the downtown office of former Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno. Computers, accounting books, and 40,000 pesos ($2,700) in cash were taken by four young men captured by surveillance cameras in the building; as in the García case, no arrests have as yet been made.

Moreno, 60, was one of the leading economic advisers for both Mrs. Kirchner and her predecessor, the late former President Néstor Kirchner, and was known for his pugnacious style. He has been highly critical of Macri's austerity and free-trade policies, calling them "the most elitist in 70 years - more so even than the Videla dictatorship."

A third such incident took place on Saturday, August 13, at the home of human rights lawyer Laura Figueroa in the northwestern city of San Miguel de Tucumán. According to witnesses, six hooded men entered her home while she attended a funeral in another city. Her home was ransacked; but nothing was taken. The perpetrators remain at large.

It wasn't the first such incident for Ms. Figueroa, who noted that similar acts of vandalism on her home and automobile took place just as cases related to the Dirty War - which killed 30,000 Argentines in the 1970s and hit Tucumán Province especially hard - were going to trial.

Figueroa served as one of the plaintiffs' attorneys in the Arsenales II/Jefatura II (2nd Arsenal/2nd Police Headquarters) case, which in 2013 resulted in 35 convictions (out of 41 defendants) for abuses and murders committed during the 'Operation Independence' anti-insurgency campaign in the mid 1970s. She has likewise been critical of the Macri administration, under which Dirty War-related prosecutions have nearly halted and Dirty War apologists such as Cecilia Pando have been allowed to influence official policy.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ambito.com%2F850196-asaltaron-las-oficinas-de-guillermo-moreno-en-microcentro

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201608/15950-atentado-contra-una-abogada-de-derechos-humanos-en-tucuman.html&prev=search

Argentine indigenous activist Milagro Sala ordered isolated, goes on hunger strike.

Jailed Argentine indigenous rights leader and Parlasur lawmaker Milagro Sala began a hunger strike yesterday over the “arbitrary decision” by the prison in Jujuy Province where she is detained to impose strict isolation measures on her and restrict visitors.

In press releases published shortly after Sala began her hunger strike, the Túpac Amaru Association she leads slammed the decision as an illegal infringement on civil rights and called for its immediate reversal. They demanded that the measure be suspended and held Governor Gerardo Morales - a close ally of right-wing President Mauricio Macri - and his Security Minister Ekel Meyer directly responsible for her well-being.

“The defence will file a habeas corpus complaint with regards to the worsening conditions of detention. This new penalty was not imposed legally and not properly notified to her or her lawyers, violating the legitimate rights of the defence to oppose it.” the organization said in a statement posted on its website.

Sala, 52, was ordered arrested on January 16 by Judge Gastón Mercau on unsubstantiated charges of “inciting violence” — a charge that was later dropped. Following two weeks of arbitrary detention, she was ordered released on January 29. "But the Tupac Amaru leader was not released," CELS lawyers noted, "because the day she was to be released, a local judge was called back from holiday in order to approve a separate warrant accusing Sala of fraud, extortion, and conspiracy."

She is currently charged with embezzlement related to government earmarks for housing projects managed by the Túpac Amaru Association that prosecutors say were never completed. Their legal brief provided no proof to that effect, however - a violation of habeas corpus.

Sala's allies instead point to her influence as leader of the Túpac Amaru Association, which she co-founded in the 1990s in order to combat peonage inflicted on the province's largely indigenous rural population by local sugar barons. She later became a close ally, moreover, of populist former Presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, during whose administrations from 2003 to 2015 numerous large planned communities were built in Jujuy under Sala's supervision and social conditions in the province generally improved.

President Macri - and Jujuy's sugar barons (particularly the Blaquier family) - are vehemently opposed to the Kirchners.

Human rights organizations including Argentina's Centre for Legal and Social Studies (the country's most prominent civil rights organization), Amnesty International, and the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, among others, have called on Macri to release Milagro Sala, arguing that Sala’s arrest was made on insufficient grounds.

Sala’s lawyers also issued a statement condemning the “harassment of political prisoners,” referring to reports of mistreatment of other inmates at the prison where Sala is held. “The harassment of the 11 political prisoners on the orders of Governor Morales translates into illegitimate and arbitrary sanctions,” Túpac Amaru lawyers indicated.

“It is worth remembering that not long ago, the National Prison Service ordered the closure of solitary confinement cells since they violate the minimum standards set by the United Nations regarding conditions of detention.”

Sala’s husband Raúl Noro was also arrested on July 14 on vague charges of “incitement.”

“She is doing OK,” Noro told the Herald in an interview shortly before his arrest. “While she is not being held in very inhumane conditions, her jail isn’t in good shape like those in the rest of the country. They were without hot water for 20 days and were forced to take showers even when the water is cold. So these are the type of problems she faces,” he said.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/219814/milagro-sala-goes-on-hunger-strike

Mothers of Plaza de Mayo hold their 2,000th march for justice.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the renowned human rights organization founded in 1977 by the mothers of some of the 30,000 disappeared during Argentina's Dirty War, held their 2,000th march on Thursday.

The march turned into a large political rally, as thousands of people representing different political groups swarmed onto the Plaza de Mayo in downtown Buenos Aires to show support for the human rights organization, a week after its longtime leader, Hebe de Bonafini, was almost arrested by police officers who attempted to misrepresent a search warrant.

Many were not only there to honor the Mothers; but also in protest against President Mauricio Macri and several officials in his right-wing administration, whose recent public statements downplaying the Dirty War - as well as meetings with prominent Dirty War apologists such as Alicia Pando - have offended the majority of the human rights community.

“It wasn’t a ‘dirty war,’ it was state terrorism and genocide,” said one placard. “We aren’t 30,000, we are a million,” said another. Chants of “Macri, you are trash, you are the dictatorship,” swept through the crowd at various times during the march.

Bonafini, 87, is one of a shrinking number of original Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who first held their iconic Thursday march on April 30, 1977. Three of its founders - Azucena Villaflor de Vicenti, María Ponce de Bianco, and Esther Ballestrino de Careaga - were themselves "disappeared" that December, their bodies disposed of in one of the death flights over the Río de la Plata bay.

Joined on different occasions by renowned human rights leaders such as 1980 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, and Swedish actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liv Ullmann, the iconic marches continued until, on January 14, 2006, Bonafini suspended them because "the enemy is no longer in the Casa Rosada."

The marches were suspended after President Néstor Kirchner rescinded all amnesty laws passed between 1986 and 2001 to shield those implicated in the Dirty War from prosecution. From 2003 to 2015, 2,389 officers were charged and 681 were convicted. This marked the fist time in world history that human rights abuses were systematically prosecuted (rather than a few top officials). General Jorge Videla, the dictator who oversaw most of the Dirty War, described the Kirchner era as "our worst moments."

The election of President Mauricio Macri, who as Mayor of Buenos Aires had vetoed a law granting witness protection to those testifying in Dirty War trials and referred to human rights as a "scam" during the 2015 campaign, led Bonafini to conclude that "the enemy has returned," however, and the marches were resumed on December 11.

The pace of prosecutions slowed dramatically after Macri took office. These changes was further underscored by Defense Minister Julio Martínez's decision to allow Dirty War convicts to be treated in military hospitals, and by efforts on the part of the new Army Chief of Staff Diego Suñer to have those over age 70 granted house arrest (50 Dirty War convicts have been granted house arrest so far this year). Both policies had been banned due to a number of escape attempts.

“It’s brutal and very painful,” Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo President Estela Barnes de Carlotto said about these policy changes. “But it doesn’t weaken us. For months we’ve been rejecting what they’ve been saying and doing with all their orders.”

This sentiment was echoed not only by left-wing and Kirchnerist attendees; but also by centrists such as UCR lawmaker Leopoldo Moreau (whose party is the junior partner in Macri's "Let's Change" coalition). “Macri's endgame is amnesty,” Moreau warned. “His provocations, statements, and attempts to detain Bonafini are all designed to marginalize the issue and ultimately lay the groundwork for amnesty.”

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel advised Macri to learn from his mistakes and not create further tension. “It’s worrisome that the president first says he doesn’t know what happened and then starts to speak of a ‘dirty war.’ There wasn’t a war; there was a brutal repression against clergy, social workers, unions, students, and even babies,” he said.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/219763/mothers-of-the-plaza-de-mayo-celebrate-timely-2000th-rally
_____________________________________________

A brief news clip from the event: http://www.msn.com/en-us/music/watch/argentinas-mothers-embark-on-their-2000th-march-for-their-missing-children/vp-BBvy76r

Argentine Vice President Gabriela Michetti charged with malfeasance over $75,000 in undeclared funds

Argentine Federal Prosecutor Guillermo Marijuán launched an investigation into the source of approximately $75,000 in cash allegedly stolen last November from the house of current Vice President Gabriela Michetti.

The charges against Michetti - specifically "the possible commission of a public offense, subject to the qualification that may ultimately apply" - were filed today before Federal Criminal Court Judge Ariel Lijo.

Bag lady

The theft that gave rise to these charges occurred on election night, November 22, 2015, at Michetti's vintage rowhouse in midtown Buenos Aires. The missing cash - 50,000 dollars and 245,000 pesos ($25,000 at the time) - had been kept in Michetti's bedroom in a number of paper bags.

Police at the time arrested David Cruzado, an officer in the controversial Metropolitan Police created by Michetti's running mate, current President Mauricio Macri, when Macri was Mayor of Buenos Aires. Cruzado, who was part of Michetti's security detail that evening, was convicted and served six months in prison.

Michetti, who claims that $50,000 of this total were a gift from her boyfriend, businessman Juan Martín Tonelli, $20,000 were to be donated to her right-wing think tank SUMA, and $5,000 were meant for home renovations, did not reveal the incident to the public until July 18 - almost eight months after the fact.

The outspoken, 51-year-old Vice President faced a similar controversy on January 29, when she attempted to hide a suitcase full of jewelry on her return from a summit in Ecuador. She claimed the items were "gifts," and despite being barred from accepting valuable gifts while in office, no charges were filed.

Think tanks

Michetti, however, now faces charges related to the possibly illegal origin of the money, as well as for the fact that as a vice presidential candidate and sitting senator she never reported the funds in her requisite annual financial disclosure. Michetti's claim that $20,000 were to be donated to a think tank she herself directs is also incompatible with Argentine law, which forbids cash donations above token amounts to any non-profit organization.

Similar doubts swirl over the $50,000 in cash which Michetti alleged were "lent" to her by Tonelli to help finance her son's post-graduate education in the United States. Tonelli's ad agency received over 2 million pesos (around $250,000 at the time) during Macri's second term as mayor to promote several municipally-sponsored public events as well as in municipal ads published in Tonelli's low-circulation gourmet magazine, Joy.

Suspicions over the true intent of this loan are underscored by the fact that Macri's 2015 campaign received almost three million pesos ($320,000) in cash donations from government contractors, which is illegal in Argentina.

Michetti's explanation, which she released on her Facebook wall rather than in an official statement, was rejected by prominent Buenos Aires forensic attorney Leonardo Martínez Herrero, who was the first to ask the courts to investigate Michetti's SUMA foundation, her financial disclosure statements, and those of Mr. Tonelli. His request was officially granted as part of Prosecutor Guillermo Marijuán's investigation.

Congressmen Juan Cabandié and Rodolfo Tailhade of the opposition, center-left FpV applauded the decision. "Most members of the Macri administration also happen to either control or sit on the board of any number of right-wing think tanks or foundations that carry out political activities in parallel with Macri's political party, the PRO," they pointed out. "These non-profits are in effect used to finance PRO operations."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ambito.com%2F850922-imputan-a-michetti-por-el-origen-del-dinero-robado-de-su-casa

Before Argentine Congress, Macri's e-ballots shown to be vulnerable to hacking via smartphone.

Testifying before a select committee in the Argentine Lower House of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, programming specialist Javier Smaldone demonstrated that the "Unique Electronic Ballot" proposed by President Mauricio Macri can be easily hacked by any basic smartphone currently on the market.

Using his own Samsung Galaxy phone with a basic Android operating system (the most common type currently sold in Argentina), Smaldone demonstrated how a sample electronic ballot sheet provided by the Interior Ministry can be easily read by merely waving a smartphone across the ballot - even through clothing.

Doing so, Smaldone demonstrated, automatically uploads the entire ballot and a voter's choice in each race, requiring only a simple application.

The Unique Electronic Ballot (Boleta Única Electrónica) is the centerpiece of a electoral reform package sponsored by Macri. Introduced in June, the bill calls for replacing the existing paper ballots currently in use in most provinces with a fully electronic system before 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).

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.

According to testimony by local cybersecurity expert Alfredo Ortega, the servers controlling the Buenos Aires mayoral vote were also reportedly hacked from sites in New Jersey and Texas. The effects of this action on the final result, Ortega reminded lawmakers, will never be known with any degree of certainty.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201608/15766-un-especialista-mostro-en-el-congreso-una-de-las-fallas-de-la-boleta-electronica.html&prev=search

[center]

Smaldone's demonstration. It's in Spanish; but it speaks for itself.[/center]
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