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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
July 1, 2024

Amid an economic crisis, Argentina's Milei made 9 trips abroad in less than 7 months

Since taking office less than seven months ago, Argentine President Javier has traveled abroad nine times.

The United States - where President Joe Biden refused him a meeting all four times he visited - was his main destination, and few of these trips were taken for reasons of state.

Milei, 53, has traveled abroad more than any other Argentine president in his or her first six months. In total, he has spent 38 days away - which averages out to one for every five days of his administration.

These international tours have likewise broken with the tradition of starting with Brazil - Argentina's largest neighbor and trading partner - and have also ignored the other neighboring countries, focusing almost exclusively on the United States and Europe.

Frequent flyer

The majority of these trips - the first five alone cost taxpayers a reported $218,000 - were, moreover, taken to meet with right-wing CEOs (none of whom have announced investments in Argentina), CPAC, and to collect right-wing accolades such as medals from the Hayek Society (Hamburg) and the Ayn Randian Atlas Network-linked Juan de Mariana Institute (Madrid).

An award last week from the pro-market Liberal Institute of Prague led to scandal when, according to its director, Martin Pánek, the award was bestowed by a dissident group and not by the institute's authorities.

Meanwhile, Milei's far-right administration - which has ruled solely by decree until just this Friday - has imposed deep cuts on pensions, provincial revenue sharing, federal payrolls, subsidies, and other social spending such as soup kitchen victuals and chemotherapy drugs - which few Argentines can afford.

Argentina's economy shrank by 5.1% in the first quarter from a year earlier, and unemployment jumped from 5.7% in the fourth quarter to 7.7% - with over 10% of the country's population falling into income poverty.

At: https://www-nueva--ciudad-com-ar.translate.goog/notas/202406/54160-en-medio-de-la-crisis-economica-milei-hizo-9-viajes-al-exterior-en-menos-de-7-meses.html?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Argentina President Javier Milei arrives at Ezeiza International Airport, outside Buenos Aires, on his return from a January trip to the Davos Economic Summit.

This was one of only two foreign trips out of nine (in six months) taken by Milei that did not involve meeting with right-wing CEOs, CPAC, authoritarian heads of state, or collecting a right-wing prize.

Milei has meanwhile presided over the most severe recession since the 2020 global Covid shutdown.
June 27, 2024

Former Honduran president sentenced to 45 years for helping traffickers get tons of cocaine into U.S.

A defiant former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was sentenced in New York Wednesday to 45 years in prison for teaming up with some bribe-paying drug traffickers for over a decade to ensure over 400 tons of cocaine made it to the United States.

Judge P. Kevin Castel sentenced Hernández, 55, to 45 years in a U.S. prison and fined him $8 million, saying that the penalty should serve as a warning to “well educated, well dressed” individuals who gain power and think their status insulates them from justice when they do wrong.

A jury convicted him in March in Manhattan federal court after a two-week trial, which was closely followed in his home country.

At: https://apnews.com/article/honduras-president-juan-orlando-hernandez-corruption-3f98be974c58bb8a1b492108c4a7f297

Good boy: Disgraced former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was welcomed by then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017.

The right-wing Honduran leader, long seen by most neo-cons as a "U.S. ally," had privately promised to "shove the drugs up the Gringos' noses."
June 27, 2024

Colorado Republican party officials begin process to try to remove chair Dave Williams

After a disastrous election night for party-endorsed candidates, and amid lingering anger over anti-LGBTQ Pride emails, efforts are moving forward to try to oust embattled Colorado GOP chair Dave Williams.

Williams has been dogged by criticism since being elected chair in the spring of 2022. He’s tried to move the party to the right, taking the exceptional move of publicly criticizing Republican candidates and office holders.

This spring the party broke with its long-standing tradition of neutrality in contested primaries by endorsing candidates who gave the right answers on a party questionnaire.

On Tuesday, voters issued a stinging rebuke to that policy, rejecting 14 out of 16 of the candidates who received the party endorsement.

That included Williams himself, who had the party’s backing for his primary run in Congressional District 5. He lost by a two-to-one margin to radio host Jeff Crank.

At: https://www.cpr.org/2024/06/26/dave-williams-petition-removal/

Far-right Colorado GOP chair Dave Williams - who lost his party's primary vote to succeed retiring Congressman Doug Lamborn by a two-to-one margin.

Williams was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

“I think if he has half a brain, he should resign,” said State Senator Larry Liston. “He needs to not only resign, but quite frankly he's a bigot and he should move out of the state of Colorado.”
June 25, 2024

Alsobrooks tops Hogan by 11 points in Maryland Senate poll

Democrat Angela Alsobrooks has a double-digit lead over former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in Maryland’s Senate race, according to the first poll released since the state’s primary earlier this month.

A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey found that 45 percent of Marylanders support Alsobrooks, while 34 percent support Hogan and 5 percent support another candidate. In the choice between Alsobrooks and Hogan alone, the Democrat maintained a slightly smaller 8 point lead: 48 percent to 40 percent.

PPP, a firm affiliated with the Democratic Party, independently conducted the poll, according to a company spokesperson.

The Maryland Senate race opened up after Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) announced that he would be stepping down in early May - but it gained national attention after Hogan, the popular former governor, announced his bid and raised GOP hopes of flipping the seat.

At: https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/4737126-alsobrooks-leads-hogan-senate-poll/

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) and then-Gov. Larry Hogan (R) at an event in 2022.

The two will face off in November to succeed retiring Senator Ben Cardin.

Hogan's evasiveness on the issue of restoring abortion rights have helped erode what Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans initially saw as their "best chance of flipping the Senate."
June 18, 2024

Anouk Aimee, star of 'La Dolce Vita' and 'A Man and a Woman', dies aged 92

Anouk Aimée, the French star of European New Wave classics including La Dolce Vita, A Man and a Woman and Lola, has died aged 92. Her daughter Manuela Papatakis announced the news on social media on Tuesday.

Born Nicole Françoise Florence Dreyfus in 1932 to actor parents (her father Jewish, her mother Catholic), Aimée began acting as Françoise Dreyfus, and was cast in a small role in her first film, The House Under the Sea, in 1946 aged 14.

Having broken into screen roles in the late 1940s, Aimée achieved international recognition with a series of high-profile successful films in the 1960s, associating her with the major directors of the era, Federico Fellini and Jacques Demy among them.

Arguably her most influential hit was the Oscar-winning A Man and a Woman, opposite Jean-Louis Trintignant, released in 1966 and which won the best foreign language film and best original screenplay Oscars, as well as a best actress nomination for Aimée herself.

At: https://www.theguardian.com/film/article/2024/jun/18/anouk-aimee-star-of-la-dolce-vita-and-a-man-and-a-woman-dies-aged-92

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.

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