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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 12:36 PM
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Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19

Polish President Andrzej Duda says he feels well despite testing positive for the coronavirus, and he apologized Saturday to everyone who must quarantine because they had contact with him.

Duda, 48, said in a recording published on Twitter that he was experiencing no COVID-19 symptoms “but unfortunately, the test result is absolutely unambiguous.”

Duda’s diagnosis comes amid a huge surge in confirmed new cases of COVID-19 and virus-related deaths in Poland, a nation of 38 million that saw very low infection rates in the spring.

Poland on Saturday reported 13,628 new confirmed cases and a record daily number of COVID-19 deaths, 179. The daily case count was the nation's second-highest of the pandemic after a record number set Friday.

Social tensions are also growing in the country.

Police used pepper spray Saturday on protesters angry over new virus restrictions, a group that includes entrepreneurs, far-right politicians, football fans, virus deniers and vaccine opponents. The protesters, many wearing no protective masks, violated a limit on public gatherings.

Duda joins a handful of world leaders who have contracted the virus, including U.S. President Donald Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

At: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/poland-president-andrzej-duda-tests-positive-covid-19/

Polish President Andrzej Duda and friend.

Duda joins a handful of world leaders who have contracted the virus, including U.S. President Donald Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Budget deficit hits record $3.1 trillion

The federal budget deficit soared to a record $3.13 trillion in the 2020 fiscal year, official figures showed on Friday, as the coronavirus pandemic fueled enormous government spending while tax receipts plunged as households and businesses struggled with economic shutdowns.

The shortfall underscores the long-term economic challenge facing the United States as it tries to emerge from the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression.

The deficit — the gap between what the U.S. spends and what it earns through tax receipts and other revenue — was $2 trillion more than what the White House’s budget forecast in February. It was also three times as large as the $984 billion deficit in the 2019 fiscal year.

The federal government spent $6.55 trillion in 2020 (up 47.3%), a large portion of which can be attributed to the $2.2 trillion relief legislation that Congress passed in March.

The government brought in $3.42 trillion in tax revenue this year, a slight decrease from 2019.

At: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/10/16/business/us-economy-coronavirus

President Donald Trump speaks during a recent press conference, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, OMB Budget Director Russell Vought and Dr. Scott Atlas listen.

The federal budget deficit as a percentage of GDP (15%), reached its highest level since the 20% recorded in 1945.

Argentina passes 1 million cases as virus hits Latin America

At the edge of Argentina in a city known as “The End of the World,” many thought they might be spared from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sitting far from the South American nation’s bustling capital, health workers in Ushuaia were initially able to contain a small outbreak among foreigners hoping to catch boats to the Antarctic at the start of the crisis.

But as Argentina passed 1 million virus cases Monday, it is now smaller cities like Ushuaia that are seeing some of the most notable upticks. Doctors have had to quadruple the number of beds for COVID-19 patients over the last month. At least 60% of those tested recently are coming back positive for the virus.

Across Latin America, three other nations are expected to reach the 1 million case milestone in the coming weeks: Colombia (974,000), Peru (874,000), and Mexico (861,000). Brazil has nearly 5.3 million cases — behind only the U.S. and India.

The grim mark comes as Latin America continues to register some of the world’s highest daily case counts. And though some nations have seen important declines, overall there has been little relief, with cases dropping in one municipality only to escalate in another.

Argentina has seen cases spiral despite instituting one of the world’s longest lockdowns, from March 20 to May 7. The country initially registered low virus case numbers but now has one of the highest rates of new daily infections per capita — on par with several European countries that are experiencing a resurgence of the virus.

At: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/10/21/world/argentina-passes-1-million-cases-virus-hits-latin-america/

Doctors attend to a Covid-19 patient in Paraná, Argentina.

Argentina became the sixth country in the world to reach 1 million confirmed cases on Monday. The pandemic has thus far claimed some 27,000 lives in the country — the world's 12th highest death toll.

CDC estimates there have been almost 300,000 excess deaths in the U.S. this year

Source: Yahoo! News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a new report estimates there have been almost 300,000 excess deaths in the United States this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

CDC researchers on Tuesday said that while about 216,000 deaths from COVID-19 had been confirmed as of Oct. 15, this "might underestimate the total impact of the pandemic on mortality," and they write that "299,028 excess deaths have occurred in the United States from late January through October 3, 2020, with two thirds of these attributed to COVID-19."

This number takes into account fatalities from all causes "in excess of the expected number of deaths" for this period of time, the researchers explain.

The report found the largest percentage increases occurred among Hispanics and among adults age 25 to 44, with the latter group seeing a 26.5 percent spike.

Read more: https://news.yahoo.com/cdc-estimates-almost-300-000-203827624.html

Argentina ablaze: nearly 3,000 square miles lost to fires so far this year

Argentina is ablaze, with fires devastating an estimated 7,697 km² (2,972 mi²) of land so far this year: that’s nearly the size of Puerto Rico.

Only three provinces out of 23 - Tierra del Fuego, Santa Cruz and San Juan - have escaped any damage, with Córdoba and Entre Ríos bearing the brunt: 4,547 km² (1,756 mi²) of land has been damaged by fire in these two provinces alone.

Yesterday’s daily National Fire Management Service (SNMF) report also showed 18 wildfires as still “active”: five in Salta, four in Córdoba, three each in Jujuy and Tucumán, two in Catamarca, and one in La Rioja.

According to the SNMF, 95% of fires are caused by man: either deliberately, when preparing land for pasture or plantation; or carelessly.

This year, a perfect storm of factors – a harsh winter in many parts of the country, followed by severe drought and high winds – have meant vegetation is dry as tinder, and fires have raged out of control.

The intentional nature of most of these fires has prompted Lower House Majority Leader Máximo Kirchner to introduce legislation on October 2 to amend the Fires Management Law of 2012 to prohibit any change in land use over areas affected by fires - for 30 years in the case of grassland and meadows, and 60 years in the case of forests, wetlands, and other protected areas.

The bill, designed to discourage setting fires for commercial or speculative ends, has the support of every party in Congress except the right-wing Together for Change coalition - which staunchly defends landowner interests.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/argentina-ablaze.phtml

Fire surrounds a gas station west of Córdoba, Argentina - near the epicenter of a string of intentional blazes nationwide, many becoming hard to control due to drought and high winds.

Most are set by farmers and ranchers seeking to enrich lands - though some have reportedly been set in protest against the current center-left administration.

A bill introduced in Congress to discourage setting fires for commercial or speculative ends, has the support of every party in Congress except the right-wing Together for Change coalition - and is likely to pass.

Bolivia election: exit polls suggest thumping win for Evo Morales's party

Exit polls suggest Evo Morales’s leftwing party has pulled off a stunning political comeback in Bolivia’s presidential election, although an official result has yet to emerge.

Two private surveys projected that Luis Arce, the candidate for Morales’s Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), secured more than 50% of the vote in the ballot on Sunday, with his closest rival, the centrist former president Carlos Mesa, receiving about 30%.

Arce, a former finance minister under Morales, claimed victory in a late-night broadcast from La Paz. “We have reclaimed democracy and above all we have reclaimed hope,” said the 57-year-old UK-educated economist, widely known as Lucho.

Arce vowed to end the uncertainty that has plagued his bitterly divided nation since October 2019, when hotly disputed claims of vote rigging against his party resulted in mass street protests, the presidential election being scrapped and Morales being forced from the country by security forces in what his supporters call a racist, right-wing coup.

At: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/19/bolivia-election-exit-polls-suggest-thumping-win-evo-morales-party-luis-arce

Movement to Socialism (MAS) nominee Luis Arce celebrates last night's election victory with running mate David Choquehuanca (right) and other MAS officials.

Exit polls showed Arce winning by a landslide of over 20% over center-right opponent Carlos Mesa - well ahead of the 10% needed to avoid a runoff.

The election ends 11 months of dictatorial rule by self-appointed President Jeanine Áñez, who took power after former President Evo Morales was ousted in a right-wing coup.

Áñez, however, conceded last night.

“We do not yet have the official count, but the data we do have shows that Mr Arce [has] … won the election. I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern thinking of Bolivia and of democracy.”

Thousands take to Chile streets to mark protest movement anniversary

Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered Sunday in a central Santiago square to mark the anniversary of a protest movement that broke out last year demanding greater equality in Chile.

The demonstration comes just a week before Chileans vote in a referendum on whether to replace the dictatorship-era constitution -- one of the key demands when the protest movement began on October 18, 2019.

Protests broke out a year ago initially as a response to a hike in metro fares, before mushrooming into a general demonstration against inequality and the government of President Sebastián Piñera.

At: https://news.yahoo.com/thousands-chile-streets-mark-protest-211705700.html

Protesters torch the San Francisco de Borja church in Santiago, Chile, during protests held today on the first anniversary of the country's massive, pro-constitutional reform demonstrations.

The church belongs to the Carabineros military police, whose policy of deliberately aiming for protesters' eyes has blinded over 400.

Argentina: Reporters Without Borders alerts on push by right-wing lawmakers to intimidate reporters

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued an alert over an attempt to intimidate three independent journalists in Argentina by right-wing lawmakers.

RSF condemned a criminal complaint filed this week against Ari Lijalad, Franco Mizrahi and Roberto Navarro of the popular center-left news journal El Destape ('The Reveal'), by four congressmen from the right-wing 'Together for Change' coalition.

The complaint is over the publication of snippets from intelligence files linked to a political espionage scandal dating from the 2015-19 Mauricio Macri administration.

The files, obtained from the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI), showed that Julián Stornelli, the son of a federal prosecutor with close ties to Macri (Carlos Stornelli), had been an AFI agent as recently as 2016.

Julián Stornelli's AFI post appears to confirm allegations that the AFI had colluded with his father Carlos in a wide-reaching espionage and extortion campaign against opponents and public contractors during Macri's tenure.


Numerous AFI agents - as well as Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli - have been indicted since 2019 in connection with the related d'Alessiogate extortion and espionage case, in which Stornelli is alleged to have collected at least $12 million in ransom payments from framed victims.

Both Marcelo d'Alessio and Stornelli have close and longstanding ties to former President Macri.

"The selectivity of the complaint for a crime with penalties of up to 6 years in prison acquires retaliatory overtones for the information about a widespread illegal espionage plot that would have operated between 2016 and 2019," RSF declared in its Spanish Twitter page.

"The essential commitment of journalism is with the right of people to be informed. Excuses such as 'breach of secrets concerning security' should not be used to censor voices for other purposes."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Fpolitica%2Flibertad-de-expresion%2Freporteros-sin-fronteras-condeno-la-persecucion-del-macrismo-contra-periodistas-de-el-destape-2020101619170

Journalists Ari Lijalad, Franco Mizrahi and Roberto Navarro of the popular Argentine news journal El Destape.

A criminal complaint filed against them this week by four right-wing congressmen for revealing further links between Argentine intelligence and indicted prosecutor Carlos Stornelli in a 2016-19 espionage and extortion case was condemned by RSF as an "attempted intimidation."

The four congressmen are close to former President Mauricio Macri, under whose tenure the abuses took place.

Bernard Cohen, lawyer who took on mixed marriage laws, dies

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Bernard S. Cohen, who won a landmark case that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of laws forbidding interracial marriage and later went on to a successful political career as a state legislator, has died. He was 86.

Cohen and legal colleague Phil Hirschkop represented Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and Black woman who were convicted in Virginia in 1959 of illegally cohabiting as man and wife and ordered to leave the state for 25 years.

Cohen and Hirschkop represented the Lovings as they sought to have their conviction overturned. It resulted in the Supreme Court's unanimous 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling, which declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.

Cohen died Monday of complications from Parkinson's disease at his home in Fredericksburg, said his son, Bennett Cohen.

Read more: https://www.inquirer.com/wires/ap/bernard-cohen-lawyer-who-took-mixed-marriage-laws-dies-20201014.html

Civil rights lawyer Bernard Cohen with members of the Prince William County Bar Association in 2016.

Cohen co-represented Richard and Mildred Loving, whose landmark 1967 case, Loving v. Virginia, overturned state miscenegation laws nationwide.

Houston billionaire Robert Brockman charged with $2 billion tax fraud

Federal prosecutors have charged Houston billionaire Robert Brockman in a $2 billion tax fraud scheme that they say is the largest such case ever against an American.

Department of Justice officials said at a news conference Thursday in San Francisco that 79-year-old Brockman hid the money over 20 years in a complicated scheme involving false returns and secret bank accounts.

Prosecutors also charged him with investor fraud.

The indictment was unsealed Thursday and Brockman is scheduled to make an appearance.

Brockman is the chairman and CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds. He is also chairman/CEO and founder of Universal Computer Systems, Inc.

At: https://www.khou.com/article/news/crime/houston-billionaire-robert-brockman-charged-in-tax-fraud-scheme/285-d9086d47-3b58-4bfb-a838-68aa94794bf2

Reynolds and Reynolds CEO and GOP megadonor Robert Brockman: charged with $2 billion in tax evasion, plus investor fraud.
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