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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
June 13, 2024

Argentine playwright Roberto Cossa, co-founder of country's "New Realism" movement, dies at 89

Renowned playwright Roberto “Tito” Cossa, an icon of local independent theater, has passed away at age 89, author-rights association Argentores announced on Thursday.

A sharp and sardonic social commentator, Cossa penned such Argentine classics like La Nona, Yepeto, and Tute Cabrero.

Born in 1934 in Buenos Aires, Cossa began his professional career as a journalist, writing for top local newspapers as well as the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina. He produced his first play, Nuestro fín de semana (‘Our Weekend’), in 1964 - but it wasn’t until 1976 that he decided to focus on dramaturgy.

Cossa quickly stood out as one of the country’s finest exponents of a movement known as “New Realism” along with fellow director and playwright Carlos Gorostiza, who would direct Cossa’s 1976 hit La Nona.

The play is a grotesque comedy about a hundred-year-old Italian Argentine woman who burdens her working-class family with her senile dementia and endless appetite. An Argentine theater classic, Cossa later adapted into a screenplay for the 1979 film version directed by Héctor Olivera.

With Carlos Somigliana (who would later have a prominent role in the 1985 trial against top dictatorship officials), Cossa co-wrote the screenplay for Fernando Ayala’s 1982 social drama El arreglo ('The Deal') - about a working-class man who finds himself in a moral conundrum when a corrupt city official offers him to extend a much-needed water line in his neighborhood in exchange for a bribe.

An outspoken advocate for social justice and human rights, Cossa was a founding member of Teatro Abierto ('Open Theater') - a theater collective created in 1981 that challenged the military dictatorship.

The group premiered their first festival on July 28, 1981, at the Picadero Theater. The evening programme featured the play Gris de ausencia ('Pale of Absence'), Cossa’s tale of immigration, exile, and identity.

The dictatorship firebombed the Picadero shortly after, forcing the group to relocate.

At: https://buenosairesherald.com/society/argentine-playwright-roberto-tito-cossa-dies-at-89

Argentine playwright and director Roberto Cossa, 1934-2024.

"The theater is there to awaken sensibilities in the spectator," Cossa noted in a 2020 interview. "To entertain or seduce him or her - to make them laugh or cry."
June 12, 2024

Francoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Source: The Guardian

Françoise Hardy, whose elegance and beautifully lilting voice made her one of France’s most successful pop stars, has died aged 80.

Hardy had lymphatic cancer since 2004, and had undergone years of radiotherapy and other treatments for the illness. In 2021, she had argued in favour of euthanasia, saying that France was “inhuman” for not allowing the procedure.

Hardy was born in the middle of an air raid in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, and raised in the city, mostly by her mother.

Aged 16, she received her first guitar as a present and began writing her own songs, performing them live and auditioning for record labels. In 1961, she signed with Disques Vogue.

Inspired by the French chanson style of crooned ballads as well as the emerging edgier styles of pop and rock’n’roll, Hardy became a key part of the yé-yé style that dominated mid-century French music.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/article/2024/jun/12/francoise-hardy-french-pop-singer-and-fashion-muse-dies-aged-80

June 3, 2024

Claudia Sheinbaum makes history as Mexico's first female president-elect

Claudia Sheinbaum, a Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist, will become Mexico’s first female president after winning a landslide election victory and promising to continue the work of her mentor and outgoing leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Sheinbaum, 61, secured over 59% of votes, according to the INE electoral institute’s rapid sample count - besting right-wing opponent Xóchitl Gálvez by over 31% and winnig the most support by a candidate in a Mexican presidential election since the end of one-party rule in 2000.

Accepting her victory, Sheinbaum thanked López Obrador, calling him “an exceptional, unique man who has transformed Mexico for the better.”

“We made history!” Sheinbaum told a crowd early Monday morning in the Zócalo square in the heart of Mexico City.

Her victory is a major step for Mexico, a country of 129 million known for its macho culture and home to the world’s second biggest Roman Catholic population - which for years pushed more traditional values and roles for women.

At: https://buenosairesherald.com/world/claudia-sheinbaum-claims-sweeping-mandate-to-become-mexicos-first-female-president

June 3, 2024

Argentina's Milei: "At some point people are going to die of hunger, and they are going to decide not to die"

Speaking at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, far-right Argentine President Javier Milei declared that "people are going to die of hunger, and they are going to decide not to die."

The comment was made while attempting to explain "market externalities" to an audience that included former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (who introduced Milei).

"There are other types of supposed market failures - [such as] externalities, " the increasingly agitated Milei began.

"Do you think people are so stupid that they won't be able to decide? At some point people are going to die of hunger, and they are going to decide not to die."

"So I don't need anyone to intervene to resolve the consumption externality - someone will solve it!"

The statement was made in what has been Milei's fifth visit to the United States since taking office six months ago, in which he has posed for photo-ops with big tech CEOs such as Elon Musk of Tesla, Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, Sundar Pichai of Google, Sam Altman of Open AI, and Tim Cook of Apple - in a thus far failed bid to attract investments and position Argentina as a hub for artificial intelligence.

The country's IT and electronic sector has so far been among the most severely affected since Milei was elected in November - with production in the sector collapsing by 65.6% in January-April, compared to the same period in 2023.

And while Milei, 53, posed with former President Donald Trump backstage at the CPAC convention in February, President Joe Biden has refused to meet with the volatile Argentine authoritarian - who has dismissed Biden as a "moderate socialist."

Demand in the country's 40,000 soup kitchens has meanwhile burgeoned since Milei took office - with income poverty rising from 45% to 55%, and hunger rising from 9.5% to 18% in one of the world's agricultural powerhouses.

His administration was rocked by revelations last week that it had been sitting on 5,000 tons of packaged food purchased in the closing days of his predecessor's term for distribution among the soup kitchens.

At: https://www-cronista-com.translate.goog/economia-politica/milei-en-standford-la-gente-va-a-estar-por-morir-de-hambre-y-va-a-decidir-para-no-morirse/?utm_source=ground.news&utm_medium=referral&_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Hunger games: Argentine President Javier Milei makes a point while speaking recently at the right-wing Hoover Institution.

"People," Milei scoffed, "are going to die of hunger, and they are going to decide not to die."
May 31, 2024

Amid 18% hunger, Argentina's Milei administration releases thousands of tons of food it had sequestered

Argentina's Human Capital Ministry announced that the Army would distribute 5,000 tons of food sitting in government warehouses, a week after announcing it would not deliver them to soup kitchens.

Asked about who would receive the food, a spokesperson for the ministry said they “did not know that detail.”

A May 23rd story by the El Destape news website revealed that 5,000 tons of food purchased for the country's soup kitchens in the closing days of the center-left Alberto Fernández administration in late 2023 had since been sequestered, and that some of the food (mainly dairy) was close to its expiration date.

Government spokesman Manuel Adorni initially denied this. A day later, Milei's Human Capital Minister Sandra Pettovello acknowledged the problem.

Pettovello, however, initially refused to act - and following a lawsuit by leftist activist Juan Grabois, was enjoined by Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello on May 27th to deliver the food.

The Human Capital Ministry appealed - but amid a media uproar even in right-wing outlets, today relented.

Pettovello, 56, is a right-wing cable news producer with no experience in any of the areas overseen by the four ministries absorbed by the new “Human Capital” portfolio: Education, Labor, Social Development, and Gender and Diversity Policy.

Demand in the country's 40,000 soup kitchens has burgeoned since Milei was elected in November - with income poverty rising from 45% to 55%, and hunger rising from 9.5% to 18% in one of the world's agricultural powerhouses.

At: https://buenosairesherald.com/politics/government-acknowledges-it-has-expiring-food-in-storages-tasks-army-to-distribute

Some 5,000 tons of food purchased last year for Argentina's soup kitchens by a previous administration piles up in a government warehouse over five months after the far-right Javier Milei administration took office.

The Milei administration has not been delivering food to most of the country's 40,000 soup kitchens - where demand has burgeoned amid a near-doubling in hunger to an estimated 8 million Argentines (18%) since Milei took office.

Social movements run most soup kitchens, and their leaders claim that the decision to discontinue aid is in retaliation for opposing the irascible Milei.
May 30, 2024

Mothers of Plaza de Mayo co-founder and longtime leader Nora Cortinas dies at 94

Nora Cortiñas, a historic human rights activist who co-founded the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (Founding Branch), died on Thursday. She was in intensive care after undergoing a hernia operation two weeks ago. She was 94 years old.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1930, Nora Morales de Cortiñas, better known as “Norita,” co-founded Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in May 1977.

At the time, she was desperately searching for her eldest son, Carlos Gustavo, who was forcefully disappeared by the military dictatorship that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983.

Gustavo was an economist, a Justicialist (Peronist) Party political activist, and a member of the armed organization Montoneros - which perpetrated several hundred murders through the 1970s. He was kidnapped on April 15, 1977, and never seen again.

Cortiñas carried on the fight to bring justice to him and the 30,000 people disappeared by the dictatorship - helping lead to around 1,200 convictions over the past 20 years. Her tireless but moderate approach led her to break in 1986 with the more radical faction led by her co-founder, Hebe de Bonafini - who died 18 months ago at 93.

A social psychologist, she later taught a popular economics course, Economic Power and Human Rights, at the prestigious University of Buenos Aires.

She also expanded her activism to other areas regarding human rights, such as the right to safe and free legal abortion and the fight against police and gender-based violence.

At: https://buenosairesherald.com/politics/mother-of-plaza-de-mayo-norita-cortinas-dies-at-94

Mothers of Plaza de Mayo co-founder and longtime leader Nora Cortiñas, 1930-2024.

Speaking during a 2011 interview, the renowned Argentine academic and human rights activist carries a photo of her son, Carlos, who was “disappeared” by the fascist last dictatorship in 1977.
May 24, 2024

Jeremy Corbyn to run as an independent in UK general election

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will stand as an independent candidate in the United Kingdom’s general election on July 4, a move that could lead to a potential upset for Labour in his north London seat.

Corbyn, who has represented the London constituency of Islington North for more than 40 years, announced on Friday that he would contest the seat to be “an independent voice for equality, democracy and peace”.

Labour officials have not included the 74-year-old in a shortlist of candidates for the seat, prompting his decision to go it alone.

“I want our political parties to be democratic; but members of Islington North Labour have been denied the right to choose a candidate,” Corbyn said in a video announcing his plan.

At: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/5/24/jeremy-corbyn-to-run-as-an-independent-in-uk-general-election


May 20, 2024

Argentina: Unrest in Misiones Province as hundreds of officers and teachers protest over plummeting real pay

Hundreds of Argentine teachers and police officers demanded pay raises outside a Misiones Province police building for the second straight day on Saturday, raising alarms in the national and provincial administrations.

Some 2,000 demonstrators put up tents to cover themselves from the drizzle outside the police radio command in Posadas, the provincial capital. Less than a hundred meters away, teachers held a separate demonstration that included burning tires.

Police and other public sector employees are demanding a 100% raise - a figure roughly matching the 107% jump in prices, just as of April, since far-right President Javier Milei was elected in November.

Governor Hugo Passalacqua - a centrist hamstrung by deep cuts in revenue sharing by Milei - has offered 15%.

His province of 1.3 million, in NE Argentina, is one of the country's poorest - and is heavily dependent on federal revenue sharing.

“You can see close to six hundred active [officers], some with their faces covered and some in uniforms — I counted 21 police cars and 30 other cars,” Pablo García, a journalist from Info Tierra Colorada, told the Herald. He added that retired police officers and their families also took part in the demonstration.

Argentina' Security Ministry - headed by the hard-line Patricia Bullrich - created a crisis committee to coordinate efforts with the provincial government. The ministry announced that the national government would send 200 military police to help quell the incidents.

At: https://buenosairesherald.com/economics/unrest-in-misiones-as-hundreds-protest-in-front-of-police-building

Scenes from a police protest in Posadas, Argentina, this weekend as officers and other public employees protest frozen wages amid 107% inflation in five months.

Police have rejected the governor's 15% offer - noting that it still leaves rookie officers some 44% below the federal poverty line.

Public sector pay has been largely frozen in Misiones and 10 other provinces in an "economic emergency" thanks to deep cuts in revenue sharing by far-right President Javier Milei.

The scenes in Misiones this weekend recalled demonstrations in 1993 that escalated, forcing right-wing governors out in two other provinces amid similar (albeit milder) federal budget cuts that year.
May 16, 2024

Argentina's Milei has autobiography recalled amid flap over false degree claims

Far-right Argentine President Javier Milei was dealt an embarrassing blow this week when his autobiography, The Libertarian's Path, was withdrawn by its publisher after false university degrees claims were included in the flap's biographical stub.

"The biography of President Javier Milei that appears in the Spanish edition of his book El Camino del Libertario, contains erroneous data," the Madrid-based Editorial Planeta explained in a press release.

"We sincerely apologize for the error. And we will proceed to withdraw this edition from Spanish bookstores to replace it with a new one, with the correct data."

Costly flap

In both the book flap and the Planeta website in Argentina, Milei was falsely touted as a graduate of the prestigious University of Buenos Aires - and with a doctorate from the University of California.

The claim, once publicized, was corrected on the Spanish Planeta website, and the books were promptly recalled - dealing the right-wing publisher, one of the largest in the Spanish-speaking world, a costly loss and embarrassment of their own.

Milei, 53, is a graduate of the private University of Belgrano - long panned in Argentina itself as a diploma mill with few requisites for graduation other than the timely payment of tuition.

The school's leafy, uptown Buenos Aires campus has over the years attracted a sizable number of U.S. students in foreign study programs - some of whom reportedly transferred to the University of Buenos Aires after one semester due to inadequacies at the school.

Milei has an honorary doctorate from the ESEADE "university institute" - an unaccredited business school in Buenos Aires with no undergraduate courses.

The temperamental Milei created a flap of his own on May 2nd by boycotting the Buenos Aires International Book Fair after his demands for 5,000 free tickets for his supporters was denied by the non-profit Fundación El Libro - which organizes the renowned fair.

Argentina's publishing industry - one of the region's largest with around 50 million books printed annually - has seen sales fall by over 30% so far this year, as an already-weak economy has collapsed amid an ongoing "Mileise" impacting nearly every sector.

At: https://publishnews-es.translate.goog/planeta-retira-de-la-venta-el-camino-del-libertario-de-javier-milei/?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Far-right Argentine President Javier Milei exhorts supporters in the cover of his autobiography, The Libertarian's Path.

The book was recalled by its publisher after false claims of a degree from the University of Buenos Aires, and of a doctorate from the University of California, were detected in the biographical stub.

A similar flap in 2018 derailed the career of former Spanish right-wing darling Pablo Casado, who had falsely claimed to be a Harvard graduate.
May 13, 2024

David Sanborn, 1945-2024

One of the great alto man's lesser-known works - but the first I remember hearing of him:

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