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US could topple my government and kill me: Argentina president Cristina Kirchner

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Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner charged in an emotional address that domestic and US interests were pushing to topple her government, and could even kill her.

Domestic business interests “are trying to bring down the government, with international (US) help,” she said.

Kirchner said that on her recent visit to Pope Francis — a fellow Argentine whose help she has sought in Argentina’s ongoing debt default row — police warned her about supposed plots against her by Islamic State activists.

“So, if something happens to me, don’t look to the Mideast, look north” to the United States, Kirchner said at Government House.

– Don’t believe US: Kirchner –

Just hours after the US embassy here warned its citizens to take extra safety precautions in Argentina, an aggravated Kirchner said “when you see what has been coming out of diplomatic offices, they had better not come in here and try to sell some tall tale about ISIS trying to track me down so they can kill me.”

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The president said local soybean producers unhappy with prices, other exporters and car company executives, all were involved since they would benefit from a devaluation of the peso, which is being pushed lower by her government’s selective default.

“Exporters who have lost money have Argentina in a vise .. so do the car company executives who tell consumers they have no inventory when they do …. What they are all waiting for is a devaluation.”

Argentina exited recession with 0.9-percent economic growth in the second quarter, national statistics institute INDEC said Wednesday, a rare bit of good news amid the country’s new debt default.

But with inflation estimated at more than 30 percent and the value of the peso tumbling, Latin America’s third-largest economy is still mired in a slowdown after averaging 7.8-percent annual growth from 2003 to 2011.

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Argentina is still struggling with the aftermath of a default on nearly $100 billion in debt in 2001, with the two hedge funds it labels vultures battling the country in US courts.

But it has been blocked by US federal judge Thomas Griesa, who has ordered the country to first repay two hedge funds demanding the full $1.3 billion face value of their bonds.

Griesa ruled Monday that Argentina was in contempt of court after it passed a law allowing the government to repay creditors in Buenos Aires or Paris — skirting the New York judge’s freeze on the bank accounts it previously used to service its debt.

Argentina has been locked out of international financial markets since its 2001 default.

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More than 92 percent of its creditors agreed to take losses of up to 70 percent on the face value of their bonds in 2005 and 2010 to get the struggling country’s debt repayments back on track.

But the two hedge funds, US billionaire Paul Singer’s NML Capital and US-based Aurelius Capital Management, which had bought up defaulted Argentine bonds for pennies on the dollar, refused to accept the write-down and took the country to court.

The strategy, which stands to make them profits of up to 1,600 percent, has earned them the label “vulture funds” from Buenos Aires.

Blocked from paying its restructured debt, Argentina missed a $539 million interest payment and entered default again on July 30.

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It is now trying to buy time until the end of the year, the expiration date for a clause in the restructuring deals that entitles all bondholders to equal treatment.

Argentina is meanwhile lobbying to create a UN convention to prevent a minority of bondholders from scuppering struggling countries’ debt restructuring plans.

A resolution to negotiate such a framework passed the United Nations General Assembly earlier this month.

– Tough outlook –

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Economic analysts are forecasting the economy will shrink two percent this year, though the government is forecasting a return to economic growth of 2.8 percent in 2015.

The end of the boom has revived the ghost of Argentina’s 2001 economic crisis, when it defaulted on $100 billion in debt and deadly riots erupted.

That violence, in which at least 26 people were killed, led to the resignation of president Fernando de la Rua, who was replaced by Adolfo Rodriguez Saa. He resigned a week after taking office amid more unrest.

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Reparations, concentration camps and racial slurs: Republicans want to turn all discussion of race into pointless culture war debats

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It wasn’t slavery. They are concentration camps. Racial slurs are not a youthful indiscretion.

This week has seen a series of culture-war debates dominate the discourse only to be derailed by bad faith arguments about semantics.

First, on Monday, nearly all of the right-wing ecosystem was engaged to defend the honor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior and gun rights activists Kyle Kashuv after he revealed that his admission to Harvard had been rescinded. At least one of Kashuv’s classmates in Parkland, Florida, released a number of text messages from him which included racist and misogynistic attacks on fellow students, including the description of black athletes as “niggerjocks.”

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Texas gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident last year

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The gap between Texas’ Hispanic and white populations continued to narrow last year when the state gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident.

With Hispanics expected to become the largest population group in Texas as soon as 2022, new population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau showed the Hispanic population climbed to nearly 11.4 million — an annual gain of 214,736 through July 2018 and an increase of 1.9 million since 2010.

The white population, meanwhile, grew by just 24,075 last year. Texas still has a bigger white population — up to 11.9 million last year — but it has only grown by roughly 484,000 since 2010. The white population’s growth has been so sluggish this decade that it barely surpassed total growth among Asian Texans, who make up a tiny share of the total population, in the same time period.

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New Zealand opens gun buyback after mosque killings

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New Zealand opened a gun buyback scheme Thursday aimed at ridding the country of semi-automatic weapons similar to those used in the Christchurch mosque attacks that killed 51 Muslim worshippers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed in the hours after the March 15 killings that New Zealand's gun laws would be tightened and her government has expedited the change in just three months.

"The buyback and amnesty has one objective -- to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation following the loss of life at Al Noor and Linwood mosques," Police Minister Stuart Nash said.

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