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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
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:

May 9, 2024

Argentina's Mileise: Construction, manufacturing collapse amid plummeting demand

Argentina's Statistics Bureau (INDEC) reported that industrial activity registered a drop of 21.2% in March compared to the same month in 2023 - while construction plummeted 42.2%.

Both indicators are a clear example of the strong recession facing the economy, after the strong devaluation implemented on December 12th by the far-right Javier Milei administration.

The 118% devaluation - a record for any single day in Argentine history - promptly resulted in wholesale prices jumping an astonishing 54% in December alone.

All sixteen major industrial sectors saw declines - with electronic equipment, devices and instruments (–42.8%), furniture, mattresses and other (–40.4%), electrical machinery and equipment (–37.9%), and steel and aluminum (–34.0%) slowing most.

Construction, for its part, suffered a 42.2% collapse. “Such a contraction was only recorded by this indicator in the [foreign debt crisis] period 2001-02, and during the quarantine months of 2020,” economist Orlando Ferreres noted.

Ferreres' monthly gross domestic investment estimate showed a 22.3% annual crash in March.

Milei was elected in November on promises to jump-start the country's economy “after decades of populist disaster” by copying Reagan and Thatcher-era “pro-business” recipes.

Critics charge that his policies instead resemble those of the fascist, last dictatorship (1976-83), and of the neo-conservative Mauricio Macri (2015-19) - both of which left massive foreign debt and economic crises in their wake.

At: https://somostelam-com-ar.translate.goog/noticias/economia/continua-el-derrumbe-en-el-nivel-de-actividad-la-industria-cayo-en-marzo-212-y-la-construccion-422/?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

A normally hectic pedestrian street in downtown Buenos Aires stands empty during today's general strike against far-right President Javier Milei's recessionary policies.

Led by a collapse in manufacturing and construction, economists estimate a 10% fall in monthly GDP in March - a downturn approaching that of the lockdown-induced nationwide stoppage in March-April 2020.

This recession, however, is viewed as unlikely to see the "V-shaped" recovery that followed the 2020 lockdown, with a projected drought in 2025 likely to prolong the ongoing "Mileise" for the hard currency-strapped country of 47 million.
May 8, 2024

U.S. delays arms shipments to Israel amid Rafah tensions

Source: Washington Post

The Biden administration is delaying the sale of at least two arms shipments to Israel amid mounting concern about the country’s plan to expand a military operation in southern Gaza that could dramatically increase the conflict’s death toll, said four people familiar with the matter.

The White House and State Department declined to explain the decision, but it is the first known instance of a delay in U.S. arms transfers since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack into Israel that killed more than 1,200 people.

Since then, the United States has surged tens of thousands of bombs and missiles to its ally even as huge swaths of Gaza have been turned to rubble and the death toll among Palestinians has ballooned to more than 34,000, many of them women and children, according to local health authorities.

President Biden has described the bombing as “indiscriminate,” but he has been reluctant to leverage weapons transfers to try to force a change in Israel’s behavior.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2024/05/07/biden-delays-weapons-israel-rafah/

Palestinians scramble for safety recently as Israel pounds sealed-off Gaza Strip.

President Biden has described the bombing as “indiscriminate” - and is now is delaying the sale of at least two arms shipments to Israel amid mounting concern over the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

May 6, 2024

Cesar Luis Menotti, who led Argentina to its first World Cup in 1978, dies aged 85

The World Cup winning coach César Luis Menotti, who led Argentina to the title in 1978, has died at the age of 85, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Sunday.

Born in Rosario to Italian-Argentine parents in 1938, Menotti, who played for Rosario Central, Boca Juniors and Brazil's Santos, began his coaching career at Newell’s Old Boys and won the Argentine championship with Huracán in 1973 - before taking over as head coach of the Argentine national team in 1974.

“The Argentine Football Association regrets to announce with great sadness the death of César Luis Menotti, current director of the national teams and former World Cup winning coach of Argentina. Farewell, Flaco querido ('dear Slim'),” the governing body said in a statement.

Menotti, who left the national side after the 1982 World Cup, went on to coach Barcelona, where he guided the side to Copa del Rey success in 1983.

He retired from coaching in 2007, and mostly maintained a low profile despite his well-known left-wing views - a skill which helped him navigate the country's fascist last dictatorship during the late 1970s.

At: https://www.theguardian.com/football/article/2024/may/05/world-cup-winning-argentina-coach-cesar-luis-menotti-dies-aged-85

Famed Argentine football coach César Luis Menotti holds the iconic World Cup after leading the national team to victory in 1978.

Menotti's death is being mourned across Argentina's highly-polarized political and social spectrum - adding sorrow to what has already been the most difficult economic year since at least the 2001-02 collapse.
May 1, 2024

Paul Auster, American author of The New York Trilogy, dies aged 77

Source: The Guardian

Paul Auster, the author of 34 books including the acclaimed New York Trilogy, has died aged 77.

The author died on Tuesday due to complications from lung cancer, his friend and fellow author Jacki Lyden confirmed to the Guardian.

Auster became known for his “highly stylised, quirkily riddlesome postmodernist fiction in which narrators are rarely other than unreliable and the bedrock of plot is continually shifting,” the novelist Joyce Carol Oates wrote in 2010.

His stories often play with themes of coincidence, chance and fate. Many of his protagonists are writers themselves, and his body of work is self-referential, with characters from early novels appearing again in later ones.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2024/may/01/paul-auster-dies-aged-77-death-american-author-new-york-trilogy

Famed New York novelist Paul Auster, 1947-2024.

He “established one of the most distinctive niches in contemporary literature,” wrote critic Michael Dirda in 2008.

“His narrative voice is as hypnotic as that of the Ancient Mariner. Start one of his books and by page two you cannot choose but hear.”

April 20, 2024

Argentina's Mileise: University chancellors warn Milei that money will only last until May

The problem afflicting Argentina's universities is easy enough to understand: despite annual inflation at 288%, their budgets for 2024 will be the same as in 2023 - reflecting deep budget cuts under the new, far-right Javier Milei administration.

Although the intention of increasing operating budgets by 65% was discussed, government officials continue to refuse to confirm the emergency hike.

Some universities have declared an economic emergency - restricting the number of students per course, moving out of rental offices, suspending the purchase of inputs, services and equipment or digging into their savings.

The University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine - whose teaching hospital cares for 1,000 mostly indigent patients daily - shut off lights to most of its buildings this week after its budget was cut by 26% in nominal terms, and 80% in real terms.

The neighboring School of Dentistry has reportedly run out of supplies for its graduate students.

“This was complicated by the fact that on Monday, we suffered the theft of computers,” Dean Pablo Rodríguez lamented. “This was due to these measures” - referring to the partial blackout.

Numerous grade schools in Buenos Aires and elsewhere have suffered a wave of similar thefts recently.


When the Milei administration took office in December, academics called for a 300% increase in this year's public university budgets - which last year received an already-modest 1.4 trillion pesos ($4.5 billion at the time) in federal funds for 55 universities with 2 million students between them.

Milei vetoed the request - though he later signed an agreement with Denmark to buy 24 Reagan-era F-16s (at $338 million a piece - excluding weaponry) that even war-torn Ukraine deemed unfit.

Many in academia say that unless the situation changes, they will not be able to guarantee classes beyond April or May.

The University of Buenos Aires - the nation's largest, and often ranked among the best in Latin America - “will have to close or not provide the functions we usually provide” Chancellor Ricardo Gelpi warned.

Students, faculty and supporters are planning a massive march on Tuesday to protest the funding crisis.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/milei-in-conflict-with-universities-chancellors-warn-money-will-only-last-til-may.phtml

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