The Intercept

Traições em votação de projeto de terceirização preocupam o Planalto

1 hour 23 min ago

O placar que confirmou a aprovação do projeto que permite a terceirização sem restrições nas empresas (231 votos favoráveis, 188 contra e 8 abstenções), demonstra que o governo terá dificuldade para aprovar as reformas Trabalhista e da Previdência no plenário da Câmara dos Deputados. Nos bastidores, a avaliação é que o total de votos desprendidos na terceirização compromete especialmente a aprovação da Reforma da Previdência, que já mobiliza a sociedade em protestos contrários a ela.

Isso porque, para que se aprove um projeto de lei, como é o projeto da terceirização, é preciso uma maioria simples, ou seja, os votos favoráveis da maioria dos presentes no plenário. Nos casos de emenda à Constituição (PEC), caso das duas reformas, a votação ocorre em dois turnos e, em cada um deles, são necessários votos de 3/5 dos deputados  (308 votos, 77 votos a menos do que os que aprovaram o projeto de terceirização).

Levantamento feito pelo site Congresso em Foco sobre a votação de ontem evidencia o tamanho da resistência não só na oposição, mas também na base do governo: dono da maior bancada da Câmara, com 64 deputados, o PMDB teve apenas 33 votos para aprovar a proposta. O PSDB, tido como fiel da balança, cedeu apenas 68% dos votos, ou seja, dos 43 parlamentares da bancada presentes, 11 votaram contra. No Democratas, o racha também foi expressivo: dos 25 presentes, 7 votaram contra e 2 se abstiveram de votar.

Atenção: Camara aprova projeto que regulamenta terceirização no Brasil. Placar: 231 x 188. Veja como votou cada parlamentar: pic.twitter.com/VjXnQpNaK2

— George Marques (@GeorgMarques) March 22, 2017

 

No The Intercept Brasil, noticiamos a manobra que envolvia o presidente da Câmara, Rodrigo Maia, e o Palácio do Planalto, para que a proposta de terceirização fosse aprovada ainda esta semana na Câmara. Pelo visto, faltou articulação política.

Para o deputado e líder do Solidariedade, Áureo Ribeiro (RJ), o governo precisa manter abertos os canais de diálogo com o Congresso, para que não seja surpreendido novamente, como ocorreu com os votos na terceirização. “Em relação à Reforma da Previdência, nós do Solidariedade apresentamos uma alternativa a alguns pontos, porque da forma que está não passa. Idade de 60 anos para homens e 58 para mulheres, além de uma taxa de transição de 30% para todos”, afirmou.

A deputada Maria do Rosário (PT/RS) avalia que, “quanto mais próximo estiver da eleição [2018], mais força terão as mobilizações contra as reformas do governo”. Segundo ela, “a base do governo prometeu, mas na hora H não deu os votos” ontem à noite. “A pressão da sociedade foi essencial para essa mudança de postura dos parlamentares”, disse a deputada.

De acordo com Rosário, a votação da terceirização é um segundo marco que evidencia um provável enfraquecimento do governo. “A primeira derrota ocorreu ao final do ano passado, após o governo perder na discussão das renegociação da dívida dos estados. Naquela época, o projeto passou sem as contrapartidas que o Planalto queria”, contou. “Agora, o que está no radar do Planalto é a Reforma da Previdência. Com a quantidade de votos que teve ontem, Temer não conseguirá aprová-la”.

A quantidade de votos recebida no projeto, abaixo do esperado pelo Planalto, justifica-se em dois eixos centrais. O primeiro é o próprio governo, que detém o poder de oferecer cargos em troca de votos, mas não conseguiu obter a fidelidade de sua base de apoio (houve deputados que prometeram, mas não votaram). O segundo é a pressão da sociedade, que em ano pré-eleitoral inibe os deputados, receosos de ter que explicar para o povo como estão se posicionando em matérias polêmicas. Desconfiados, alguns políticos migraram para o lado da pressão popular.

Governo recua para assegurar reforma

Definida inicialmente pelo Planalto como uma proposta imexível, a Reforma da Previdência já sofreu diversas baixas desde que foi enviada ao Congresso em dezembro do ano passado. Primeiro, o governo decidiu excluir os militares das Forças Armadas, bombeiros e policiais militares das regras propostas. Esta semana, Temer recuou mais uma vez e excluiu servidores estaduais e municipais do projeto.

Pelo andar da carruagem, de recuo em recuo a reforma da Previdência terminará tão desconfigurada que sairá do Congresso mais capenga do que chegou. No meio desse fogo cruzado, grande parte dos políticos priorizou no dia de ontem ir até ao enterro, mas não se jogar à cova.

The post Traições em votação de projeto de terceirização preocupam o Planalto appeared first on The Intercept.

Terceirização é elogiada por empresários, mas o que o trabalhador acha disso?

2 hours 5 min ago

Enquanto a opinião pública ainda debatia a Operação Carne Fraca, o Congresso votou e aprovou na noite de ontem a terceirização ampla em todas as atividades das empresas privadas e alguns setores das estatais. O que se viu foi uma manobra do presidente da Câmara, Rodrigo Maia, em sintonia com Michel Temer e empresários.

De acordo com o texto do PL 4302, que tramitava no Congresso desde o governo Fernando Henrique Cardoso, os trabalhadores terceirizados não têm nenhum tipo de vínculo com a empresa para qual prestam serviço. Outra mudança importante, diz respeito aos contratos temporários, que passam a ser de seis meses, podendo ser estendidos por mais três.

 

Federações, sindicatos patronais e entidades como o Sebrae comemoram o resultado da votação. Os apoiadores do projeto acreditam que haverá um aumento da produtividade e uma facilitação na contratação de trabalhadores temporários.

Os comentários dos nossos leitores mostram que os trabalhadores não nutrem o mesmo sentimento dos empresários.

Henrique Junior

É uma desgraça em qualquer lugar do mundo. Sou funcionário terceirizado numa empresa de informática na Irlanda e não vejo nenhuma vantagem. A terceirização só beneficia as empresas que contratam o serviço e a que presta o serviço. Os salários são mais baixos para o mesmo tipo de função, os direitos não são os mesmos e, se eu for tratado mal na empresa que eu trabalho, nem o RH eu posso acionar pois sou funcionário terceirizado

Érika

Sou advogada trabalhista, sei bem os prejuízos que a geração que está entrando no mercado de trabalho vai amargar pelo resto de suas vidas, com salários baixíssimos, sem a garantia de seus créditos trabalhistas (FGTS, férias, 13º), posto que as empresas com patrimônios, irão terceirizar tudo, e a empresa contratada não terá patrimônio a garantir os trabalhadores.

Braúlio

Quando vi que a mídia batia na “carne fraca” até sair sangue sabia que estavam aboiando, ou seja, tocando a boiada para um rumo só [hoje se diz, focar, não é? focar de foco ou foca?], enquanto isso… o Moraes foi empossado no STF, o Eduardo levado “coercitivamente” para prestar depoimento etc.

Marcia Pacheco Chaves

Vejam a lista e guardem bem esses nomes e partidos para se lembrar nas próximas eleições de quem votou contra os seus interesses, condenando os trabalhadores ao retrocesso.

Junior Remoli

Direitos Trabalhistas, Previdenciários e Educacionais sendo suprimidos pelos deputados! Segundo Dieese, trabalhador ganhará 25% menos.

Pedro Geber

Terceirização sem debate com o trabalhador e com a conivência da grande imprensa, que se manteve quieta até a aprovação.

João Alberto

Este projeto visa acabar com o funcionalismo público e voltar a antes da constituição. Cabides de emprego.

 

E, você, trabalhador? O que acha das mudanças da lei da terceirização?

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Video: Tijuana Is a Hub of Exile and Hope for Deportees and Migrants

5 hours 26 min ago

Video produced with support from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a journalism nonprofit covering economic inequality in America.

Tijuana is an international city. It doesn’t enjoy the prestige of rich global hubs like New York, London, or Hong Kong, but like them, it is shaped by the aspirations of people who travel to it from cities, villages, and countries hundreds or thousands of miles away. It is rarely, however, the intended destination. For those headed north from Mexico, Central and South America, it is a point of entry — in many cases, a foiled one. For those who have been deported from the other side of the border fence, it is a site of exile. Tijuana is less a place where people go to live than a place where people end up.

Every night, deportees arrive there from the United States by the dozens. There are Americans everywhere, even if they don’t have documents from the U.S. government; one Mexican university graduate told us that the street sweeper spoke better English than she did. People forced to seek refuge in Tijuana find an infrastructure of support awaiting them to assist in their survival and their transition into their new, unwanted lives. In the shelters, they mix with migrants trying to make the journey in reverse, filled with hope and desperation. In recent years, many of these arrivals have come from Haiti, by way of Brazil. You can now hear Creole in the streets, and eat Haitian fried chicken — “poul fri” — for lunch alongside your tacos and pupusas.

With such a vast displaced population, Tijuana is a place where people who did not intend to live there learn to become a community.

The post Video: Tijuana Is a Hub of Exile and Hope for Deportees and Migrants appeared first on The Intercept.

The Life and Death Issue Ignored at Judge Gorsuch’s Confirmation Hearings

6 hours 6 min ago

As Donald Trump stood in the East Room of the White House on January 31, congratulating himself for delivering “the very best judge in the country” for the U.S. Supreme Court, a man in Missouri was lying on a gurney, with lethal injection drugs entering his veins. The man, 37-year-old Mark Christeson, was declared dead minutes later, at 7:05 Central time. In Washington, Trump continued to speak, with Judge Neil Gorsuch and his wife now standing behind him. With much of the country tuned in to watch Trump’s much-hyped announcement that night, the execution in Missouri flew under the radar.

Convicted of a brutal rape and triple murder committed in 1998, Christeson was not someone likely to inspire widespread concern on any given evening. Yet his execution was a reminder of the kinds of cases Gorsuch would review if confirmed to the Supreme Court. Christeson — a lifelong victim of sexual abuse whose IQ hovered as low as 74 — was abandoned by his own post-conviction attorneys, who missed a crucial deadline to file his federal habeas appeal in 2005. When outside lawyers tried to step in to correct their gross neglect, courts blocked them at every turn. As Christeson’s execution approached, a group of former state and federal judges raised alarm about his case, filing multiple amicus briefs to his petitions before the Supreme Court. They warned that Christeson had received no “meaningful federal review” of his sentence. “When the stakes are this high, such failures unacceptably threaten the legitimacy of the judicial process,” the judges wrote. Christeson won a last-minute stay of execution in 2014, with the justices remanding his case back to the lower court. But the reprieve was fleeting. As with many on death row who turn to the Supreme Court for relief, Christeson was ultimately executed, the deep flaws with his case barely addressed, let alone corrected.

Over two long days before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, Gorsuch was never asked his views on the death penalty. More time was spent discussing fly-fishing and rodeos, along with more serious (if redundant) questioning on life and death issues like abortion and euthanasia. This was not particularly surprising; confirmation hearings are mostly political theater — and Gorsuch’s record on criminal justice has stirred little controversy compared to other hot-button issues. Many lawyers and experts expressed a measure of relief when Trump announced Gorsuch as his Supreme Court pick. “I don’t think he’s a fire-breathing, law and order, pro-prosecutor guy,” said Tejinder Singh, the appellate and Supreme Court litigator who won a stay of execution for Mark Christeson in 2014.

Yet Gorsuch seeks to join the Supreme Court at a time when the death penalty is in a state of chaos and decline. The issue has sparked some of the most contentious public moments on the bench in recent memory, and with good reason. For all the layers of legal precedent enveloping capital punishment, it is a tradition that has become increasingly hard to uphold, at least in any intellectually honest way. The Supreme Court’s most recent ruling on lethal injection, Glossip v. Gross, was simply embarrassing: After a heated oral argument in which the Oklahoma brazenly misled the justices, the 5-4 decision upheld an execution protocol that is the sloppiest of inventions, rooted in junk science, and peddled by a state notorious at the time for having recently carried out a dramatically botched execution. Glossip’s legacy has been short but grim. Oklahoma’s incompetence and deceit has been further exposed. Botched executions have continued apace. More surreal, the ruling has put people challenging their upcoming execution by lethal injection in the perverse position of having to propose better ways for the state to kill them, from the firing squad to the gas chamber. Add to this the fact that the named plaintiff in the case, Richard Glossip, is almost certainly an innocent man, and the result is a perfectly hideous portrait of our modern-day death penalty system. It was Glossip that inspired Justice Stephen Breyer’s extraordinary dissent listing the myriad the death penalty itself is constitutionally intolerable. More recently, Justice Sonia Sotomayor has questioned whether lethal injection is “our most cruel experiment yet.”

Glossip came up just once during Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, in a brief question from Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. Does Glossip deserve the respect of precedent, he asked? “It does,” Gorsuch said, and that was it. That no senator thought to probe any further was a missed opportunity. In his 10 years serving on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch presided over cases that embodied the pitfalls of capital punishment, and even helped pave the way for Glossip. A recent report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund highlighted two particular areas of concern. One is his complicity in upholding Oklahoma’s disastrous lethal injection regimen, which became the law of the land in Glossip. And the other is complicity in a more systemic problem throughout the criminal justice system: a pattern of favoring finality over fairness. Gorsuch, the LDF warns, has proven all too willing to apply the most rigid barriers for those seeking to challenge unfair sentences, including in capital cases. “Winning federal habeas relief from any judge is a challenge,” the LDF report notes. “Winning federal habeas relief from Judge Gorsuch is a near impossibility.”

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch arrives for a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 2, 2017.

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

It would be unfair to hold Gorsuch individually responsible for the death penalty debacles in Oklahoma. Plenty of others have contributed more to the state’s reputation for dysfunction, deceit, and cruelty in carrying out capital punishment. Yet as a 10th Circuit judge, Gorsuch joined important decisions in Oklahoma cases that showed “a disturbing lack of concern about extreme and needless pain and suffering” during executions, in the words of the LDF report.

In 2014, Oklahoma famously tortured a man named Clayton Lockett to death. Witnesses to his execution described how he writhed in agony during the bloody ordeal; one official compared it to a horror film. The state hastily revised its lethal injection protocol, then swiftly assigned new execution dates to four men on Oklahoma’s death row. The men challenged the state’s new lethal injection formula, arguing that it put them at risk of “severe pain, needless suffering, and a lingering death,” in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

At the center of their argument was midazolam, the first in the three-drug cocktail used to kill Lockett. The drug had replaced the barbiturate sodium thiopental, relied upon for decades by death penalty states. Sodium thiopental, an anesthetic, was traditionally followed by a paralytic agent, in Oklahoma’s case, vecuronium bromide, and then potassium chloride, which caused cardiac arrest. But sodium thiopental had became unavailable years before, in part due to an international anti-death penalty campaign to cut off supplies. States rushed to find a replacement, tinkering with their formulas. For those hoping to mimic the traditional three-drug cocktail, midazolam eventually became the drug of choice. The problem was that midazolam, a benzodiazipane, was primarily an anxiety medication. Pharmacologists warned that its ceiling effect meant that upping the dosage, as Oklahoma did in its revised protocol, made no practical difference; it could not ensure a person would remain unconscious over the course of an execution. As the other drugs took hold, the result would be an excruciating death, a person would be paralyzed, while suffering a sensation akin to being burned alive.

Yet Oklahoma forged ahead. Like many states, it turned to dubious pharmaceutical sources for its drug supplies, while insisting that the origins of its execution drugs must be kept secret. Seeking an injunction from a District Court before his scheduled execution in early 2015, Charles Warner and his fellow death row plaintiffs argued that “by attempting to conduct executions with an ever-changing array of untried drugs of unknown provenance,” the state was pursuing “a program of biological experimentation on captive and unwilling human subjects.”

The District Court denied the challenge. On January 12, 2015, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court affirmed, rejecting an emergency motion that would have stayed Warner’s execution. Judge Gorsuch joined the decision. Warner was executed three days later. Witnesses reported his last words were “my body is on fire.”

In a cruel twist, Warner had sought a stay from the Supreme Court on the night he was killed, but was rejected, 5-4. In a dissent, Justice Sotomayor criticized the denial, pointing out that the justices were poised to take up the legal challenge to Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol. “I hope that our failure to act today does not portend our unwillingness to consider these questions,” she wrote. Indeed, just days later, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case, too late to spare Warner’s life. A man named Richard Glossip was now the named plaintiff.

Oral arguments in Glossip v. Gross took place on April 29, 2015. They were ugly and heated. Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia railed against anti-death penalty activists for making it harder for states to get better execution drugs. Justice Sotomayor interrupted the Oklahoma solicitor general to say she was “substantially disturbed” by his claims about midazolam’s effectiveness, for which she found zero supporting evidence. The drug had clearly been chosen for its availability rather than its efficacy; state experts used sources like Drugs.com, a website that warns it is “not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.” An amicus brief from 16 pharmacologists warned the justices that midazolam was not capable of rendering a person unconscious for the purpose of execution. And a key piece of evidence submitted by the state to explain why it chose midazolam was later proved to be false. Nevertheless, in June 2015, the Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma’s protocol, 5-4. Justice Alito authored the opinion, with the circular reasoning that, because the Supreme Court has held the death penalty to be constitutional, there must be a method to carry it out. In her dissent, Sotomayor disagreed. A state “does not get a constitutional free pass simply because it desires to deliver the ultimate penalty,” she wrote. “Its ends do not justify any and all means.”

In a perverse postscript to the legal saga over midazolam, autopsy records would later reveal that Oklahoma killed Charles Warner using the wrong drug, a discovery made public only after Oklahoma came close to doing the same with Richard Glossip later that year. Executions have been on hold in the state ever since. Judge Gorsuch may be a bit player in this sorry legal episode, but that does not entirely excuse him.

In fact, Gorsuch had an opportunity to weigh in on the mess in 2016, when a lawsuit brought by the family of Clayton Lockett came before the 10th Circuit. As BuzzFeed noted after Trump announced his nomination, Gorsuch joined the panel of judges who rejected the suit, dismissing the botched execution as an “innocent misadventure.” Legal experts pointed out that the phrase, while stunningly callous in context, is nonetheless specific to Supreme Court precedent dating back to 1947, which essentially holds that since executions inevitably go wrong from time to time, individual cases of botched executions do not violate the Eighth Amendment. Such an age-old concept could hardly be blamed on Gorsuch. Nor could a judge so loyal to legal precedent flout the holding.

Yet if joining the majority did not distinguish Gorsuch as uniquely craven or cold, nor did it prove him particularly brave or independent. Other decisions have inspired reflection in Gorsuch. He is hailed for thoughtful opinions; he once wrote a concurrence to a ruling he authored himself, a fact brought up repeatedly during his confirmation hearings. Yet he had nothing to say about Lockett’s torturous death. His was simply a vote for the status quo — a measure of how normalized such cruelty has become.

The ruling that spawned the notion of a botched execution as an “innocent misadventure” shows us how long states have been torturing condemned people to death, then using the law to explain it away. It came from Louisiana, circa 1946, when a black teenager named Willie Francis survived an attempt by prison officials to kill him in the electric chair. A book on the case recounts how witnesses heard Francis scream, “I am n-n-not dying!” as the current failed to kill him. Francis was removed from the chair and successfully executed several days later. The Supreme Court dismissed his ordeal; today it is a legal footnote. Almost 50 years later, in Baze v. Rees, Chief Justice John Roberts cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1947 case to uphold lethal injection.

Like Scalia, the man he was picked to replace, Gorsuch is described as a textualist, a judge who strictly abides by the law as it is written. “I will apply the law,” Gorsuch often intoned during his confirmation hearings this week. Legal precedent is so precious to Gorsuch, he wrote an 800-page book on the subject, joking repeatedly that  it “makes a great doorstop.”

Staunch adherence to precedent is rarely good news for people facing execution, whose challenges can be easily waved away on procedural grounds, even when the facts of their case are objectively egregious. “As it is now, in capital cases, prisoners have a heavy lift if a case makes its way to the Supreme Court,” says Assistant Federal Defender Dale Baich, who has litigated the lethal injection issues in Oklahoma. “I would expect Gorsuch to carefully follow precedent. At the same time, I have to believe that if he sees a constitutional violation, he will call out the government for its conduct.”

Around the same time that the controversies over lethal injection were playing out in Oklahoma, Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion in a capital case called Eizember v. Trammell. The plaintiff, Scott Eizember, had challenged his sentence based on evidence that his jury had been unfairly biased in favor of his execution from the start, an argument rejected by a lower court. While acknowledging that his concerns were “hardly trivial,” Gorsuch rejected Eizember’s argument. As one recent summary of the ruling notes, “Gorsuch’s opinion hinged mostly on the simple question of whether his court could second-guess the state court’s decision.”

At the heart of this question was the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, otherwise known as AEDPA. Signed in 1996 by Bill Clinton in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the sweeping legislation severely curtailed the rights of people in prison to challenge their sentences. It imposed a strict one-year deadline on federal habeas petitions, while barring successive petitions, with very few exceptions. More significantly, AEDPA shifted the balance of power in the judiciary, demanding far more deference from federal judges to state court rulings.

Under AEDPA, petitioners are not entitled to habeas relief unless they can show that a state court decision was “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,” or “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.” This is an exceedingly high bar, one Gorsuch has a habit of emphasizing. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly reminded us that ‘AEDPA’s requirements reflect a “presumption that state courts know and follow the law,”’ he wrote in Eizember, replying to a dissenting judge. “This presumption demands that federal judges ‘afford state courts due respect by overturning their decisions only when there could be no reasonable dispute that they were wrong.’”

AEDPA has been especially devastating for the wrongfully convicted. “I suspect that there may well have been innocent people who were executed because of the absence of habeas corpus,” former D.C. Circuit Judge Abner Mikva told me last year, recalling his days in the Clinton White House, where he tried to stop efforts at “habeas reform” that would culminate in AEDPA. This danger has proven all too real in Oklahoma, where Richard Glossip has faced the execution chamber multiple times. Gorsuch is among the judges who have rejected Glossip’s appeals, in a ruling peppered with AEDPA citations. It is cases like Glossip’s that have prompted 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski to call AEDPA “cruel,” complaining that the deference it demands from federal courts leaves egregious miscarriages of justice uncorrected. “We now regularly have to stand by in impotent silence, even though it may appear to us that an innocent person has been convicted,” he wrote in 2015.

It is true that AEDPA’s language leaves little freedom of interpretation. But there are judges who “take it a little too far,” says Singh, the lawyer who represented Mark Christeson, the man executed on the night Gorsuch’s nomination was announced. Some judges see AEDPA as meaning that “nobody ever gets relief, ever,” Singh says. “But to be fair, if someone was reading the statute faithfully, they would take a pretty harsh view of most death penalty cases.”

Gorsuch has adhered loyally to AEDPA in capital and non-capital cases alike. While he insists that he is merely being faithful to federal statute, a law review article published days before his nomination probed a highly technical case, Prost v. Johnson, to show how Gorsuch used AEDPA to sidestep the “difficult interpretive questions” that arise in cases during post-conviction review. The result was a decision that “overvalues proceduralism relative to substantive rights in a way that will have the effect of eroding litigants’ access to courts.”

Gorsuch’s habeas decisions are heavily criticized in a report by the Alliance for Justice, which has vehemently opposed his nomination. It provides several examples, including a number of instances where he dissented from majority opinions finding ineffective assistance of counsel. In Wilson v. Workman, a man on death row argued that his defense attorney failed to present evidence of his mental problems; the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied an evidentiary hearing, along with his claim of ineffective assistance. In an en banc ruling, the 10th Circuit found that the state court was wrong, and that it did not merit the deference afforded by AEDPA. Gorsuch disagreed. “This case requires us to interpret the words of a federal statute,” he wrote in his dissent. “That statute says writs of habeas corpus ‘shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings’ unless the state court’s decision is contrary to a Supreme Court precedent, or unless it rests on an unreasonable application of the court’s cases or an unreasonable reading of the facts before it. … This language seemingly brooks no exception.”

Gorsuch’s handling of such cases came up briefly on Tuesday, in an exchange with Sen. Dick Durbin. “Have you ever written an opinion finding that a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated?” Durbin asked. “Oh, I’m sure I have, senator,” Gorsuch replied. In fact, Durbin said, citing an article from the Stanford Law Review, out of 52 cases in which there was a question of a defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights, Gorsuch found no violations. In fairness to Gorsuch, Durbin was incorrect: the article actually cites two cases where Gorsuch granted relief in opinions he authored. Durbin “slightly misstated the findings of our article,” one of the authors wrote in an email, noting that one of the cases involved ineffective assistance specifically, while another touched on a different part of the Sixth Amendment.

Nevertheless, the article concludes that if Gorsuch is confirmed, criminal defendants with Sixth Amendment claims “can fairly expect an uphill battle to win his vote.” Durbin brought up the the example Williams v. Jones, in which a prosecutor offered a defendant a plea deal in a second-degree murder case. The defense attorney threatened to quit if his client took the deal, absurdly claiming that he would be committing perjury by pleading guilty. The defendant was tried, convicted, and given life without parole. After his sentenced was reduced to life with the possibility of parole on direct appeal, the defendant turned to the 10th Circuit, which found that he was entitled to further relief. “You were the lone dissent,” Durbin told Gorsuch.

At one point in his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch was lauded for his capital habeas work, suggesting that he is invested in addressing the problem of bad lawyering in death penalty cases. Yet as a judge, his rare findings of error in such cases have been generally followed by the conclusion that the error was ultimately harmless. This tendency among judges is dramatized in the case of Mark Christeson — “a very, very vivid illustration of some deeply seeded problems with death penalty defense,” as Singh said. Among the few safeguards built into AEDPA was the assurance that people like him would get post-conviction attorneys to navigate the law’s myriad provisions. Yet many lawyers have not been up to the task. Christeson’s court-appointed lawyers missed the AEDPA deadline by 117 days. When his federal habeas petition was inevitably dismissed as untimely, the attorneys did not bother to tell Christeson, leaving him under the impression that his appellate proceedings were still underway. Christeson, who has severe cognitive impairments, remained unaware of his attorney’s failure for seven years. In the end, state intransigence and procedural roadblocks kept his new attorneys from saving his life.

 

We cannot know how Gorsuch might have handled the case of the man executed on the night of his nomination. And while his record certainly suggests he might have waved it through on procedural grounds, this would hardly differentiate him from judges who have spent their careers doing the same. This includes Merrick Garland, whose nomination was so shamelessly derailed by Republicans last year. Indeed, like Gorsuch, Garland dutifully applied AEDPA’s “rigid barriers to relief,” the American Civil Liberties Union observed last year, while noting that this “approach is not surprising.” The LDF echoed the ACLU’s findings, noting that Garland “rarely granted relief to defendants who have presented a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.”

Garland, of course, never got a hearing. As Democratic senators decried the stolen nomination this week, it nevertheless seemed likely that Gorsuch will be confirmed in the end. That he was never questioned about his complicity in upholding lethal injection or in his rigid application of AEPDA is a shame, but again, not surprising. “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge,” Gorsuch said the night his nomination was announced, a constant theme throughout the hearings. With the death penalty’s cruelest excesses so plain to see, it would have been worth asking whether he has any misgivings about this part of his record.

With Gorsuch yet to turn 50, he stands to be a conservative force on the Supreme Court for decades to come. Yet Singh points out that Supreme Court justices have very different experiences with death penalty cases. “Because almost every capital case eventually makes its way to the court, the justices are exposed to the ins and outs of the death penalty in ways that circuit judges simply are not,” he said. They see the arbitrariness, the flaws embedded in the system. “Many justices find over time that their beliefs about the death penalty change, almost always toward skepticism. So it’s possible that Judge Gorsuch, if confirmed, would eventually become more sympathetic to capital defendants — but it’s far too early to tell.”

The post The Life and Death Issue Ignored at Judge Gorsuch’s Confirmation Hearings appeared first on The Intercept.

Fé não deve ser posta à frente do debate, dizem religiosas sobre aborto

9 hours 48 min ago

Quando se fala em aborto, a perspectiva religiosa costuma se sobrepor à da saúde pública. A posição de políticos que se identificam como religiosos é majoritariamente contra a legalização. No entanto, segundo a última Pesquisa Nacional de Aborto, mais da metade das mulheres que abortam são católicas ou evangélicas, justamente as religiões desses políticos que militam contra a interrupção legal da gravidez.

Grupos progressistas começam a se fortalecer dentro das religiões usando como principal bandeira a liberdade e a consciência individual. The Intercept Brasil falou com expoentes destes grupos; uma espírita, uma evangélica, uma umbandista e uma católica. Essas mulheres divergem na fé, mas apoiam uma causa comum: a legalização do aborto.

A antropóloga Christina Vital da Cunha, autora do livro “Religião e Política”, afirma que há uma reação à imagem dos políticos identificados como religiosos entre as pessoas que compartilham da mesma fé:

“Em paralelo à grande expressão desse segmento extremista na política, vemos um segmento progressista disputando espaço e discursos nas religiões, fruto de uma geração que questiona isso tudo. Oferecem diferentes leituras, dentro do mundo moderno, sobre o que é ser religioso. Eles apresentam uma interpretação que possibilita, sob o ponto de vista da religião, a acolhida nesses momentos de dificuldade. Porque o aborto nunca é uma situação confortável.”

“Somos uma coletividade, mas a decisão é sua.”

Lúcia Xavier é candomblecista, ekedi do terreiro Ilê Omi Oju Arô, no Rio de Janeiro, e também coordena uma organização de mulheres negras chamada Criola. Ela explica que as religiões de matriz africana têm uma perspectiva de liberdade e responsabilidade individual, e que no candomblé não há um dogma em torno do aborto: “Cada situação será avaliada com Pai ou Mãe de Santo, e cada um poderá, então, encontrar solução para esse problema partindo do princípio de que a pessoa tem a liberdade de tomar as decisões sobre a sua vida”.

Xavier também conta que existem lideranças defendendo abertamente a legalização do aborto, o que representa um avanço na flexibilização dos líderes:

“Na nossa ação política, nós não saímos à frente com essa bandeira contra o aborto. O que saímos sempre é a favor dos direitos sexuais e dos direitos reprodutivos. E cada casa vai lidar com isso a partir da sua experiência. Isso é super importante, porque cada casa é uma nação e cada nação é um reino. E os pais de santo e as mães de santo compreendem cada vez mais que esses são aspectos da vida que precisam ser tratados, mas não necessariamente definidos como certo ou errado a partir dessa ótica. Nesse ponto, a perspectiva individual está presente. Somos uma coletividade, mas a decisão é sua. Há posicionamentos de ialorixás que são a favor do aborto e nenhuma delas foi discriminada. Ao contrário, continuaram participando das atividades. E, se você fez um aborto, ninguém vai te botar porta a fora. Ao contrário, vão te proteger, vão cuidar de você.”

Já a paulista Rosângela Talib é coordenadora executiva do grupo Católicas pelo Direito de Decidir. Ela conta que, apesar dos posicionamentos conservadores dos parlamentares que se identificam como católicos, o aborto não é um dogma na igreja católica e que o livre-arbítrio se sobrepõe nestes casos:

“Existem teólogos morais que defendem a possibilidade de a mulher decidir livremente sobre a sua maternidade. A gente tem o que se chama de teoria do probabilismo, está no magistério da igreja, que faculta aos fiéis a possibilidade de usar sua própria consciência para decidir, o seu livre-arbítrio. Não é uma instituição que vai poder dizer que elas estão certas ou erradas, é só a consciência. E, para aquelas fiéis que acreditam, é no juízo final que elas vão prestar conta. É Deus que vai dar a ela a possibilidade de saber se ela agiu certo ou errado. E nada, nenhuma instituição, nenhum homem, mesmo tendo um cargo institucional na igreja, pode se sobrepor à consciência do seu fiel. Sou eu e Deus. Não é possível que uma instituição possa se interpor entre a minha relação com o divino se, assim, eu acredito.”

“Me dei conta que não posso impor minhas crenças religiosas a outras mulheres”.

Juliana Grabois cresceu em uma família evangélica de pastores e missionários e congrega na Igreja Batista do Caminho, no Rio de Janeiro. Ela afirma que dentro da sua religiosidade não cabe julgar o que é certo ou errado para as pessoas:

“Nós cristãos definimos a vida como corpo e alma. Mas é difícil mensurar a partir de que momento o corpo passa a ter alma. Até porque a gente não estabeleceu apenas uma visão da bíblia, a bíblia tem várias interpretações, por isso, dentro do protestantismo, existem diferentes congregações. Na minha espiritualidade, eu não faria um aborto. Ao mesmo tempo, preciso assegurar a vida daquela mulher. As mulheres não são apenas ventre, elas têm uma vida para além daquilo.”

A vida das mulheres também fez com que Thaís Vinha, nascida em uma família kardecista, mudasse sua ideia quanto à descriminalização do aborto, até então baseada apenas nos ensinamentos da doutrina espírita:

“Mudei de ideia quando me dei conta que não posso impor minhas crenças religiosas a outras mulheres. Vivemos em um Estado laico. Mudei também quando vi dados oficiais que apontam para a redução no número de abortos nos países onde há a legalização. Outro motivo é que a proibição não impede o aborto – o Brasil continua sendo um país onde se aborta muito.”

“Tentaram me impor uma culpa e medo das consequências espirituais”.

Por irem contra a criminalização, estas mulheres acabam acabam sofrendo consequências dentro das comunidades religiosas das quais fazem parte. Grabois sentiu isso no convívio familiar: “Pelas coisas que falo e que posto nas redes sociais, recebo algumas mensagens dos parentes. Já ouvi muita coisa, até mesmo que eu deveria ter sido abortada. Hoje a minha família é um pouco afastada por conta do meu posicionamento político”.

Segura de sua posição, Vinha também revela que sofreu retaliação de outros kardecistas por seu posicionamento:

“Há um consenso sobre a proibição do aborto no meio espírita. E é muito difícil questioná-lo. Depois que tornei pública minha posição, me acusaram de desconhecer a doutrina, tentaram me impor uma culpa e medo das consequências espirituais nessa e na outra vida, fui até acusada de não ser kardecista. Ao mesmo tempo, também recebi apoio de outros espíritas que revelaram pensar como eu. O que mostra que o tema incita dúvidas e deveria ser debatido nas casas espíritas de forma mais aberta para a divergência de opinião.”

“As pessoas continuam abortando e sofrendo risco.”

Independentemente do posicionamento dos grupos religiosos, a jovem evangélica Grabois sabe: “as pessoas continuam abortando e sofrendo risco”. A católica Talib concorda: “As pessoas exercem a sua liberdade, seu livre-arbítrio, independentemente do que as igrejas propõem”.

A candomblecista Xavier explica que não faz “defesa intransigente do aborto”, mas que defende o direito das mulheres. E que, a partir da decisão de dar seguimento ou não à gestação, que elas tenham total apoio:

“Somos a favor da legalização e a favor da descriminalização porque são as mulheres que pagam o pato sobre isso. Elas que são condenadas, elas que são maltratadas, elas que são responsabilizadas por um ato feito por duas pessoas. E, sobretudo, são elas que pagam, que carregam a culpa de algo que elas tomaram a decisão e que, por causa daquela situação de vulnerabilidade, passam a ser responsáveis por tudo o que acontecer daqui pra frente, inclusive se morrerem.”

Para Talib, o aborto não é uma decisão fácil, mas é também uma possibilidade de a mulher pensar sobre a sua vida e sobre a maternidade com responsabilidade. E, falando em responsabilidade, provoca: “A gente ouve muito é dizer: ‘ah, se ela não queria ter o filho, por que ela não se cuidou? Por que ela não se preveniu?’ E por que o homem não se preveniu? Uma gestação é responsabilidade de ambos: homens e mulheres”.

“São conservadores, ultraconservadores ou reacionários.”

Para a socióloga Maria José Rosado Nunes, coordenadora do Grupo de Pesquisa Gênero e Religião da PUC/SP, há parlamentares que fazem da religião parte de sua identidade política, mas isso não é comum a todos os políticos religiosos:

“O religioso não deixa de ser religioso quando sai de casa. Há uma distinção entre aqueles/aquelas que são simples fiéis, sem caráter militante, e os que formam uma bancada e atuam como elementos da religião. Esses são conservadores, ultraconservadores ou reacionários.”

No Congresso mais conservador eleito desde 1964, as bancadas evangélica e católica se unem quando o assunto é a descriminalização do aborto. Após a decisão do Supremo Tribunal Federal – STF, em novembro de 2016,  que revogou a prisão de cinco pessoas detidas em uma clínica clandestina, magistrados kardecistas fizeram coro.

“Nada justifica a liberação do aborto até o terceiro mês, quando os direitos do nascituro estão salvaguardados desde a concepção pelo ordenamento jurídico brasileiro”, alegam os parlamentares cristãos, em nota.

Em coro com evangélicos e católicos, a Federação Espírita do Brasil publicou um texto em que afirma que a vida se inicia a partir do momento da concepção. “Qual o primeiro de todos os direitos naturais do homem? – O de viver”, escreveu a organização, citando um trecho do Livro dos Espíritos, obra básica da doutrina de autoria de Allan Kardec.

Pena que nenhuma das organizações políticas supracitadas parece se dar ao trabalho de perguntar sobre os direitos das mulheres.

 

The post Fé não deve ser posta à frente do debate, dizem religiosas sobre aborto appeared first on The Intercept.

Congressman’s Trump Surveillance Claims Have an Obvious, Mundane Explanation

22 March 2017 - 10:08pm

Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, claimed Wednesday that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition” between President Trump’s election and his inauguration.

Nunes then headed to the White House to brief Trump. White House press secretary Sean Spicer read Nunes’s statement at a press conference and called it “startling information,” implying that it justified Trump’s recent claims that Trump Tower was wiretapped on former President Obama’s orders.

The underlying reality is likely significant but far less exciting: That Trump transition staffers were picked up by standard U.S. surveillance as they arranged for Trump to receive standard post-election calls from world leaders.

If so, what Nunes was describing would not vindicate Trump’s claims, and would also be a separate matter from reported contacts by Trump associates with Russian intelligence officials before the election.

A key goal of the National Security Agency is to monitor the communications of foreign leaders and their staffs. As documents leaked by former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed, this includes the leaders of allied countries like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Friendly countries in turn spy on us just as enthusiastically.

Meanwhile, world leaders try to speak to newly-elected U.S. presidents as often as possible during the transition period, first to congratulate them and then to get a read on the incoming president and to influence their views on global politics.

But Trump’s transition, as reported at the time, was extremely chaotic; the president-elect’s team apparently went outside normal procedures to arrange many such calls, an approach that involved many staffers and others in Trump’s orbit.

For instance, former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole played a role in setting up Trump’s precedent-breaking call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. President Mauricio Macri of Argentina said that he spoke with Ivanka Trump during his call with Trump. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull got Trump’s phone number from professional golfer Greg Norman. The governments of Japan and China found it difficult to build contacts within Trump’s transition team and spent a great deal of time trying to do so.

So what would truly be “startling” would be if the U.S. intelligence apparatus hadn’t picked up many Trump staffers speaking with foreign targets of surveillance. This also means that comments like those of Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California, who said on Twitter that Trump “officials were either talking to agents of a foreign power, or people suspected of crimes,” are not meaningful. The people with whom Trump’s transition team would be speaking would of course be agents of a foreign power, and there would be nothing wrong with that.

All that said, Trump absolutely will have a legitimate complaint if Nunes was correct when he claimed that “details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration with little or no intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting [and] additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked.”

Privacy advocates have long been concerned about exactly this type of scenario. When the communications of U.S. persons are swept up in spy agency surveillance, their identities can be used in queries against intelligence databases, but must eventually be masked through a process known as minimization. However, many identifying characteristics remain available to intelligence agents, both before and after minimization, allowing the government to engage in something akin to spying on Americans without a warrant. Moreover, NSA staff may decide to unmask Americans’ identity on their own, or be asked to do so by their superiors. This almost certainly is how it was possible for anonymous “current and former U.S. officials” to know that Michael Flynn discussed sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador, and then leak it to the Washington Post.

The best outcome now would be for Trump use his power as president to declassify anything he wants, and make as much information public as possible about this “incidental collection.” If in fact any surveillance was conducted on his transition team that was improper by the government’s own standards, he has the power to prove it. If it wasn’t, he owes it to the U.S. not to hide what happened behind the classification curtain. Moreover, releasing everything would be an extremely valuable education for the American public about how much the government collects on its citizens even when it’s following its own rules.

In a recent conversation at the SXSW conference with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, Snowden explained in more detail how the communications of Trump or his staff could have been picked up — and why Americans should be concerned not about Trump’s vulnerability to such wiretapping, but about their own:

SNOWDEN: Now, if you are an American citizen and they say, “I want to look at your communications, I want to listen to this person’s phone calls and everyone they contacted,” this in theory is supposed to require a warrant. But the actual reality here is that they can do something different, and they do do this without a warrant… if they look at the other side of that communication, right? The communication that went overseas or involved a non-U.S. person in any way, that’s entirely legal. That happens without a warrant. …

If anybody at the NSA, if anybody at the FBI, wanted to review communications about President Obama, right? Like me, sitting at the NSA, I could do that simply by typing in an IP address that doesn’t even have to be the president’s IP address, right? Or if I want to search for his private email address or something like that, all I have to do is type it in the system, hit ‘enter,’ and say, “show me U.S. results for this.” This is entirely legal, so long as I’m not targeting him officially. So, I’m saying, I’m not interested in Obama, right? I’m interested in this known system that’s affiliated with Chinese cyber espionage or whatever, that just happens to be Obama’s Blackberry…

I think it is possible, based on everything we see and what we hear, there may be some indication that something like this happened on the backend, right? Where there’s been some searches that implicate not Donald Trump directly, right? Because if he had that, he’d be up on the stage waving it around on TV. …

That’s the problem. It’s not so much that this actually happened here, there, or the other, because we don’t have evidence for that. If Donald Trump wants to take this seriously, right, he needs to fix the problem that everyone in America’s communications are being collected right now without a warrant, and then going into the bucket. And they’re protected by very lax internal policy regulations, right? And this simply is not enough. If he’s worried about the fact that somebody could have been wiretapping Trump Tower, that this could have happened without a warrant, or even with a warrant, right, the problem is not, oh, you know, poor Donald Trump. You’re the president, right? You should be asking questions about, “Why was this possible in the first place, and why haven’t I fixed it?”

Top photo: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., gives reporters an update about the ongoing Russia investigation adding that President Donald Trump’s campaign communications may have been “monitored” during the transition period as part of an “incidental collection,” Wednesday, March 22, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The post Congressman’s Trump Surveillance Claims Have an Obvious, Mundane Explanation appeared first on The Intercept.

War Correspondents Describe Recent U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen

22 March 2017 - 5:58pm

Sentiment in Washington may not reflect that the U.S. is at war, but two war correspondents described the astonishing extent and toll of recent U.S. military strikes in Iraq, Syria and Yemen on Intercepted, the weekly podcast by The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill.

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In Iraq, U.S. forces are helping Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers in their months-long battle to drive ISIS out of western Mosul. As many as 600,000 civilians are trapped there, amid widespread hunger and destruction, and more than 1,000 civilians were killed or injured last month in Iraq.

“There are American special forces on the ground but much more important than that is U.S. airpower, without which the Iraqi forces would not be able to get very far,” explained author and journalist Anand Gopal.

“And they’ve been hitting pretty much everything in sight and there’s been an extraordinary number of civilian casualties — just kind of gone through the roof in the last couple of months especially coming into Mosul.”

Gopal explained that the western half of the city, where the fighting is now, is the older part, with densely packed neighborhoods.

The “houses are really close together and so you can have a case where an ISIS sniper is on a house and the Americans are dropping bombs on the house and killing everybody inside including families that are cowering in the basement, people who are being shot on the street in sight. It’s a real humanitarian disaster that’s unfolding as we speak.”

The United States is also building up its own troop strength in Syria. “There the U.S. is allying with Kurdish forces — with the YPG — in the push towards Raqqa, and then if you look at the pattern of where the U.S. is deploying — where its airstrikes are hitting in Syria — what you see is the entire U.S. effort in Syria is to attack the enemies of [President] Bashar al-Assad,” Gopal said.

In Palmyra, for instance, U.S. warplanes in February carried out 45 strikes to help the Syrian government forces — the only forces on the ground — recapture the city from ISIS.

“You know, we tend to think that the U.S. is supporting regime change in Syria but on the ground it’s not the case,” Gopal said. “In fact, the U.S. has been avoiding doing anything to antagonize the Syrian regime and instead has been really focusing its fire on ISIS or on other enemies of the Assad regime.”

To complicate matters further, the United States has been also fueling a Saudi Arabian campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and is now attacking alleged al Qaeda targets there directly. This month, independent war reporter Iona Craig covered a tragically botched Navy SEAL raid in Yemen for The Intercept. Craig interviewed survivors of the raid, which Trump called a success despite the death of one Navy SEAL, at least six women, and 10 children under the age of 13.

Craig said that a spate of airstrikes followed the raid. “In the space of 36 hours [the U.S.] carried as many strikes as they had done in the whole of last year [across] three provinces,” she said. One of the targets was the same village, Ghayil, where the raid had taken place.

Craig said the U.S. strikes killed two more children and three more adults, some of whom she had met while reporting her story. “They saw it as revenge — a revenge for killing a Navy SEAL basically — that the Americans were coming back to destroy their village entirely and to make sure that everybody was gone.”

Both Craig and Gopal said that the U.S. risks getting sucked into domestic and geopolitical dramas in the region in a way that could be disastrous.

Craig said the U.S. is already “being seen as very much taking one side” in Yemen. “That could get even worse if now the Trump administration decides to conflate the Houthis with Iran.”

Gopal said  that the United States harbors a “fantasy” of creating a Sunni force to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while reducing reliance on Iranian-backed forces in the region.

“There’s this idea in some quarters that you can raise this almost like a second-awakening and this would be your proxy force. How realistic that is, is another question,” said Gopal, referencing the Iraq war based Iraqi “awakening” councils that fought al Qaeda. “Already it’s a bloodbath in the Middle East and already there [are] hundreds of different forces fighting,” he said. “Any attempt to try to either create Sunni proxy force or push onto Iran would be just an even greater disaster, and there we’re talking world war three level of disaster.”

Craig said the only winner is the defense industry. “Well, it’s good business,” she said. “In the first year of the war [in Yemen], the U.S. sold $20 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia has been buying more and more weapons as a result of this war, and the same goes for the British government as well,” she said. “Really it all boils down to financial gain and that’s the greatest win really for the U.S., but it’s an extremely costly one obviously for the civilian population of Yemen.”

Top photo: Smoke rises from ISIS positions after U.S.-led coalition’s airstrike over east of Bashiqa town in Mosul, Iraq on Nov. 7, 2016.

The post War Correspondents Describe Recent U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen appeared first on The Intercept.

Aid Officials Beg Congress to Help Yemen, While Trump Sends More Bombs

22 March 2017 - 5:25pm

As the Trump administration resumes weapons shipments to Saudi Arabia for its devastating bombing campaign in Yemen — including precision-guided weapons the Obama administration had suspended on human rights grounds — a State Department official told Congress that the two-year-long conflict has led to the largest starvation emergency in the world.

Gregory Gottlieb, an acting assistant administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday that the conflict — which the U.S. is a silent partner to — has left the majority of the Yemeni people struggling to find food.

“In Yemen, more than 17 million people — an astounding 60 percent of the country’s population — are food insecure, including 7 million that are unable to survive without food assistance,” said Gottlieb. “This makes Yemen the largest food security emergency in the world.”

Gottlieb was testifying at a Senate hearing on foreign aid funding and humanitarian crises in Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia.

USAID is the foreign assistance arm of the State Department — the same department that signs off on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Since Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015, the U.S. has approved more than $20 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia — and looked the other way as the Saudi-led coalition has bombed civilian infrastructure, hospitals, and children’s schools.

Last week the UN warned that the majority of Yemen’s population is suffering and on the brink of famine. Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, criticized both sides of the conflict for restricting the flow of aid, but said that the Saudi-imposed naval blockade was particularly devastating for the desert country, which imports most of its food.

The Saudi-led coalition has persistently attacked fisherman, who account for another major food source in Yemen.

The situation has worsened as the Saudi-backed forces prepare to retake the Western port city of Hodeida, once the waypoint of 70 percent of Yemen’s food and aid imports. Near the beginning of the war, Saudi Arabia bombed the cranes that port workers use to unload ships — slowing the pace of work to a crawl. Since then, airstrikes by the coalition have made it virtually impossible for aid to reach the port.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Yuris Dassard, the director-general of the Red Cross, urged the U.S. to help clear access to the port. “You can ensure access to the port. You make sure ensure that the blockade is done with a humanitarian exception.”

He continued: “It will make a lot of difference for a lot of people. … There is no choice. There is no market anymore in Yemen. So the blockade needs to cease, or needs to be managed.”

Last week, 52 members of Congress sent a letter to the State Department, urging it to pressure Saudi Arabia into making the port accessible. “Right now, the U.S. must act urgently to avert famine and employ our diplomatic clout with the Coalition members to ensure that humanitarian goods can get into the port of Hodeida,” the letter read. “The lives of hundreds of thousands of children are at stake.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the leading Democrat on the committee, acknowledged the port was a “major entry point for humanitarian assistance,” and said it was “unclear as to the current abilities to get current humanitarian aid into Yemen.”

Last year, USAID gave Yemen $56 million in humanitarian aid, but it is unclear if aid will continue at all under Trump. According to a budget outline released last week, Trump wants to slash 28 percent of USAID’s funding.

The Obama administration supported Saudi Arabia’s air war for more than a year, supplying weapons and intelligence, and helping refuel Saudi aircraft.

But after the Saudi Arabia bombed a funeral in Yemen’s capital city in October, the Obama administration put a hold on a transfer of precision-guided weapons, citing “systemic, endemic” concerns about their targeting. The Trump administration greenlighted the transfer in March.

In addition, the Trump administration has intensified its military operations against al Qaeda in Yemen, loosening counterterrorism rules and accelerating the pace of bombings and drone strikes.

Top photo: Yemeni volunteers provide food items for displaced families who fled Saada province, northwest of Sanaa, during a food distribution by Yemeni volunteers in Sanaa, Yemen, on Dec. 17, 2015.

The post Aid Officials Beg Congress to Help Yemen, While Trump Sends More Bombs appeared first on The Intercept.

O medo sempre nos traz algo de familiar, que é o nosso preconceito

22 March 2017 - 4:31pm

Tentando entender o que há por trás das políticas de controle da população, a socióloga Vera Malaguti Batista desenvolveu um trabalho interessante sobre o que ela chama de “discursos do medo”. São aqueles discursos que transformam o povo em um “grande outro”, diferente e perigoso. O discurso do medo geralmente é impulsionado pelos que estão mais protegidos, enquanto o risco real e iminente de sofrer violência recai sobre os que se acredita que ofereçam perigo (as minorias, os periféricos etc.).

Trabalho aqui com o conceito do “grande outro”, ou do “estranho/estrangeiro”, como no livro “Strange Encounters: Embodied Others In Post-Coloniality”, de Sara Ahmed. O Outro, na verdade, não é aquele que desconhecemos, mas aquele que representa o perigo do desconhecido.

Mesmo que não convivamos com ele, sabemos imediatamente quem é este Outro, nas suas mais variadas representações, e projetamos sobre ele todo o perigo que acreditamos habitar o desconhecido. Ou seja: o que percebemos nem é a forma exterior, o que está visível aos olhos, mas algo que, em torno de si, traz algo que nos parece familiar, que é o nosso preconceito.

Penso, por exemplo, nos mapas utilizados pelos viajantes nos tempos das grandes descobertas e, sobretudo, naqueles sobre o continente africano. No espaço que ainda não havia sido explorado, no grande vazio, eram projetados os medos do aventureiro ou do colonizador: figuras nas quais até podíamos reconhecer o traço humano, mas que também eram dotadas de características bestiais, como rabos, olhos a mais, chifres, genitálias avantajadas e outras anomalias que poderiam colocá-los alguns passos abaixo do que era considerado humano.

Como bestas, poderiam e deveriam ser abatidos ou domesticados, salvos do atraso e da involução. Esta era uma das justificativas para o acontecimento que moldou o mundo moderno: a escravidão negra. Cara a cara com este “grande outro”, com este “estranho”, os brancos europeus podiam até mesmo reconhecê-lo como igual na forma, apesar da cor da pele, mas interiormente ele já vinha carregado de projeções animalísticas. E foi assim que atravessaram tanto o oceano quanto a História, com o medo branco tomando novas formas de acordo com o contexto social e político do Novo Mundo, até chegarmos ao momento atual.

Estava, oficialmente, instaurada a despolitização das manifestações contra o regime escravocrata e a criminalização dos rebeldes

Segundo Vera Malaguti Batista, foi nas décadas posteriores à Independência, com as várias rebeliões escravas acontecendo país afora, apoiado no racismo científico, que o medo se intensificou. Ameaçador da ordem e portador do caos, o africano, o negro da terra, o escravo, o fujão, o rebelde e o desobediente eram os inimigos a temer, conter, castigar ou eliminar. Para lidar com ele, foi criado o Corpo de Polícia, embrião da Polícia Militar. Estava, oficialmente, instaurada a despolitização das manifestações contra o regime escravocrata e a criminalização dos rebeldes, da mesma maneira que acontece hoje com os movimentos sociais.

Naquela época, já se escrevia nos jornais que “precisamos ter uma polícia que a nós inspire confiança e, aos escravos, infunda terror”. Escravos e libertos eram proibidos de circular pelo espaço público, a não ser quando no exercício de uma função autorizada e pré-determinada. Ainda hoje, a juventude negra, principalmente, ao circular no espaço público, é alvo constante de blitzes, batidas, sacodes, humilhações, ameaças e autos de resistência. E o “nós” aí acima são os que, hoje em dia, se chamam de “cidadão de bem” ou “humanos direitos”. Aqueles que se colocam na posição de defender um dos produtos mais insidiosos da criminalização da cor e da pobreza: a desqualificação jurídica do negro e do pobre.

Para eles, assim como para a mulher de César, não basta serem honestos, precisam parecer. E como é que se parece honesto não tendo o controle sobre a própria representação? Neste caso, quase sempre será suspensa a presunção de inocência, e ele poderá ser condenado – muitas vezes à pena de morte – não por algo que tenha cometido, mas por algo que, obedecendo à projeção de perigo e medo que a sociedade impõe sobre ele, pode vir a cometer. É o ideal lombrosiano aplicado na construção de uma sociedade que internaliza o autoritarismo e se acha no direito de traçar uma linha entre o “nós” e o “eles”.

No vídeo disponível neste link, depois de analisar mais de mil processos de jovens que foram parar no universo das drogas e estavam internados em instituições como FEBEM e FUNABEM, a professora Vera analisa os diferentes tratamentos recebidos por jovens brancos de classe média e por jovens negros pobres: quando o primeiro é pego com certa quantidade de droga, é encaminhado para tratamento domiciliar, com auxílio psicológico; quando um jovem pobre e negro é pego com a mesma quantidade, é imediatamente enviado para o sistema correcional ou prisional.

Ela nos conta também de um laudo que leu sobre um desses meninos pobres e pretos, preso já havia algum tempo, com a seguinte avaliação psicológica: “pelo brilho no seu olhar, eu pude perceber como ele ainda desejava coisas que não se coadunam com a vida de um salário mínimo: guloseimas, roupa nova, garotas; e então, ele ainda está fascinado pelos ganhos fáceis”. E, segundo a professora Vera, “o garoto ganha mais dois anos só pelo brilho no olhar, porque – ela [a psicóloga] achava, pelo brilho no olhar – [que] ele ainda desejava todas aquelas coisas que qualquer garoto da idade dele também deseja“.

É uma avaliação lombrosiana, segundo a qual um criminoso poderia ser reconhecido por suas características físicas. Como também é a seguinte fala do ministro da Justiça, Osmar Serraglio: “Existem bandidos e bandidos, como em qualquer circunstância. Os bandidos de menor gravidade precisam de outro tratamento. Um exemplo que eu tenho dado é do usuário e do traficante. Um grupo de estudantes viciados, usuários. Na hora que te pegarem, você vai preso como um traficante. Outros são aqueles que você olha nos olhos e quer passar longe. É um potencial assaltante, criminoso. A gente não quer isso nas ruas”.

Na avaliação do Ministro, quem seriam os “estudantes” e os “potenciais” (importante frisar: potenciais) “traficantes”, “assaltantes” e “criminosos” que ele, com um golpe de vista, consegue diferenciar? Quem é o “isso” que o ministro não nomeia, não humaniza e não quer nas ruas? Arrisco dizer que o “isso” tem raça, sexo e classe social bastante definidos em seu imaginário. Caso contrário, como conseguiria ele circular entre os pares, olhando-os nos olhos, em tempos de Lava Jato?

The post O medo sempre nos traz algo de familiar, que é o nosso preconceito appeared first on The Intercept.

Trump Wants to Cut Public Broadcasting — Where Mike Pence’s Daughter Got Her Start as a Filmmaker

22 March 2017 - 3:23pm

One of the more shocking elements of President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget is his suggestion to eliminate all $455 million in federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides support for public television and radio stations across the country.

This has been widely depicted as a threat to Sesame Street. But the real losers would be local stations in areas outside big coastal cities, which wouldn’t be able to make up for the budget hit with private support.

Viewers would lose out on public affairs and local programming — while creative professionals who ply their trade outside of New York or Los Angeles would no longer have an outlet for their unique skills.

A good example of someone who used public broadcasting to support early career development is the daughter of Vice President Mike Pence.

In 2013, Charlotte Pence, then a college student, obtained an internship at WFYI, a public broadcasting station in central Indiana. She worked in the television production department and received an associate producer and co-writer credit for “Fleeced: Speaking Out Against Senior Financial Abuse,” a documentary co-produced by WFYI Productions and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

It’s common at smaller public broadcasting stations for interns to be tasked with important responsibilities. “Certainly there is ample opportunity for people to cut their teeth or bring in a project,” said Andy Klotz, director of marketing for WFYI.

“Fleeced” highlighted the stories of seniors who have been scammed by financial predators. As Charlotte Pence explains on her website, “It is meant to shed a light on this injustice happening, and to work as a lesson for seniors in deciding who to trust with their information.”

Charlotte Pence, daughter of United States Vice President Mike Pence, in Waregem, Belgium on Feb. 20, 2017.

Photo: Olivier Matthys/AP

John Taylor, president and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, called WFYI’s contribution to the project indispensable. “They’re a good partner because they’re viewed by most people as nonpolitical,” Taylor said. “They got the word out in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own.”

The film became the third most widely circulated documentary in WFYI history, with distribution on over 225 PBS stations and screenings at dozens of other locations, including regional Federal Reserve banks. “Fleeced” won a 2014 Emmy Award for the Lower Great Lakes region. And Taylor said it made a real difference in awareness about elder financial abuse. “Every single time it aired, it got a lot of praise. It helped us talk about elder abuse and having age-friendly banking products and services.”

WFYI has been a fixture for news and information in central Indiana for decades. Founded in 1970 with a staff of nine, the station now employs 80 people and is Indiana’s leading PBS and NPR member station, with partnerships with cable companies to carry programming throughout the state. WFYI regularly wins local Emmys and other awards for its work. The newsroom had been expanding, with three health care journalists recently hired. But that funding runs out in two years.

In 2015, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting supplied $412,213 in funding for WFYI, according to the station’s annual report. That is roughly 13 percent of its budget, according to marketing director Andy Klotz.

“We would have to find ways to make up for the loss in funding,” Klotz said. He described “Fleeced” as precisely the kind of long-form documentary project that would be difficult for WFYI to sustain without federal support. “We have a fairly successful track record of doing really great, in-depth documentaries that resonate with people. The ability to produce long-form projects would be severely hampered.”

That would be a blow to young professionals like Charlotte Pence, who received key experience and training while working on the documentary in 2013. She has since graduated from DePaul University with a double major in digital cinema and English, and worked on several documentary and short film projects. In her bio for “For the Records,” a documentary about young adults with mental health issues, Pence wrote, “She believes in the philosophy that every filmmaker has a responsibility to tell important and uplifting stories through the art of cinema… She hopes to pursue a career in writing for film and documentaries after college.”

Long-form local affairs programming at WFYI and other public media outlets is unique, particularly with cutbacks to newsroom resources. “These are stories that just don’t get told otherwise,” Klotz said. “It’s irreplaceable stuff, in the climate of media right now.”

The vice president himself has publicly acknowledged the role of public broadcasting in highlighting under-covered issues like the ones raised in “Fleeced.” While governor of Indiana, Pence attended the film’s premiere at the University of Indianapolis and made introductory remarks before the film. “Pence loved the documentary and knows the story quite well,” said John Taylor.

While governor of Indiana, Pence increased state funding for public broadcasting. In 2014, he received the “Champions of Public Broadcasting” award from the Association of Public Television Stations. “The Hoosier state has now and will continue to find the resources to support public media efforts in our state,” Pence said at the ceremony.

The vice president’s office would not make Charlotte Pence available for comment, and has not responded to a list of questions about public broadcasting, including whether Pence supports the proposed zeroing out of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting budget.

Stations other than WFYI would be hit even harder by the loss of federal funding. For some rural outlets, federal support equals as much as 50 percent of their budgets. If those stations cannot survive, the remaining outlets like WFYI would likely see the national programming they purchase from PBS and NPR become more expensive. So even the stations that stay in business will be affected by the ones that don’t. “If we lose 100 stations, that has to be made up for,” said Andy Klotz. “It will drive up programming costs for the rest of us.”

Taylor never met Pence during the production of the documentary, but confirmed that she was an asset to the film.

“One less tank would probably pay for the entire CPB budget,” he said. “And what we get for that is a cumulative, positive impact on all of us citizens to be able to be informed about issues and items that really matter. It’s short-sighted to not recognize the valuable contribution they make to the American populace.”

Top photo: A program is produced for PBS KIDS Sprout in a studio in Paulsboro, N.J. in 2006.

The post Trump Wants to Cut Public Broadcasting — Where Mike Pence’s Daughter Got Her Start as a Filmmaker appeared first on The Intercept.

Violações contra o povo Xukuru levam o Estado brasileiro à Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos

22 March 2017 - 2:52pm

Pela primeira vez, o Brasil é réu em uma corte internacional por violações de direitos humanos de povos indígenas.

Nesta terça-feira (21), o Estado brasileiro, pela primeira vez na história, respondeu por alegações de violação de direitos indígenas à Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos, na Cidade de Guatemala. A audiência foi a única de um processo iniciado em 2002, restando apenas a apresentação de novas alegações, por escrito, para que a corte emita sua sentença em cerca 3 meses.

O povo Xukuru passou 300 anos afastado de seu território. Mesmo com a demarcação de suas terras, iniciada em 1989, e a homologação, em 2001, foi apenas em 2003, após um atentado contra seu líder, o cacique Marcos Xukuru, que os indígenas decidiram reagir e retomaram grande parte de seu território.

“É uma situação emblemática do que temos vivido no nosso país. A situação Xukuru é um caso clássico do que acontece com os demais povos [indígenas] … Se nós fossemos depender do Estado brasileiro, já não existia mais nenhum índio”, conta o cacique Marcos em seu relato perante a Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos.

Os Xukuru de Pernambuco tiveram violados seus direitos à propriedade coletiva, à proteção judicial e à integridade pessoal durante anos. Agora clamam pela retirada dos latifundiários que permanecem na sua terra e cuja presença tinha causado uma longa história de violência e desapropriação. Caso condenado, o Estado deverá garantir também medidas de reparação, compensações e medidas de garantia de não repetição das violações.

Veja o vídeo:

 

The post Violações contra o povo Xukuru levam o Estado brasileiro à Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos appeared first on The Intercept.

Real-Time Face Recognition Threatens to Turn Cops’ Body Cameras Into Surveillance Machines

22 March 2017 - 2:23pm

Last year, a Russian startup announced that it could scan the faces of people passing by Moscow’s thousands of CCTV cameras and pick out wanted criminals or missing persons. Unlike much face recognition technology — which runs stills from videos or photographs after the fact — NTechLab’s FindFace algorithm has achieved a feat that once only seemed possible in the science fictional universe of “Minority Report”: It can determine not just who someone is, but where they’ve been, where they’re going, and whether they have an outstanding warrant, immigration detainer, or unpaid traffic ticket.

For years, the development of real-time face recognition has been hampered by poor video resolution, the angles of bodies in motion, and limited computing power. But as systems begin to transcend these technical barriers, they are also outpacing the development of policies to constrain them. Civil liberties advocates fear that the rise of real-time face recognition alongside the growing number of police body cameras creates the conditions for a perfect storm of mass surveillance.

“The main concern is that we’re already pretty far along in terms of having this real-time technology, and we already have the cameras,” said Jake Laperruque, a fellow at the Constitution Project. “These cameras are small, hard to notice, and all over the place. That’s a pretty lethal combination for privacy unless we have reasonable rules on how they can be used together.”

This imminent reality has led several civil liberties groups to call on police departments and legislators to implement clear policies on camera footage retention, biometrics, and privacy. On Wednesday morning, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology, where advocates emphasized the dangers of allowing advancements in real-time recognition to broaden surveillance powers. As Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, told Congress, pairing the technology with body cameras, in particular, “will redefine the nature of public spaces.”

The integration of real-time face recognition with body-worn cameras is further along than lawmakers and citizens realize. A recent Justice Department-funded survey conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that at least nine out of 38 manufacturers of body cameras currently have facial recognition capacities or have built in an option for such technology to be used later.

Taser, which leads the market for body cameras, recently acquired two startups that will allow it to run video analytics on the footage the cameras collect, and Taser’s CEO has repeatedly emphasized the development of real-time applications, such as scanning videos for faces, objects, and suspicious activity. A spokesperson for NTechLab, which has pilot projects in 20 countries including the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, told The Intercept that its high-performing algorithm is already compatible with body cameras.

Police see the appeal. The captain of the Las Vegas Police Department told Bloomberg in July that he envisions his officers someday patrolling the Strip with “real-time analysis” on their body cameras and an earpiece to tell them, “‘Hey, that guy you just passed 20 feet ago has an outstanding warrant.’”

At least five U.S. police departments, including those in Los Angeles and New York, have already purchased or looked into purchasing real-time face recognition for their CCTV cameras, according to a study of face recognition technology published by Bedoya and other researchers at Georgetown. Bedoya emphasized that it’s only a matter of time until the nation’s body-worn cameras will be hooked up to real-time systems. With 6,000 of the country’s 18,000 police agencies estimated to be using body cameras, the pairing would translate into hundreds of thousands of new, mobile surveillance cameras.

“For many of these systems, the inclusion of real-time face recognition is just a software update away,” said Harlan Yu, co-author of a report on body camera policies for Upturn, a technology think tank.

Civil liberties experts warn that just walking down the street in a major urban center could turn into an automatic law enforcement interaction. With the ability to glean information at a distance, officers would not need to justify a particular interaction or find probable cause for a search, stop, or frisk. Instead, everybody walking past a given officer on his patrol could be subject to a “perpetual line-up,” as the Georgetown study put it. In Ferguson, Missouri, where a Justice Department investigation showed that more than three-quarters of the population had outstanding warrants, real-time face searches could give police immense power to essentially arrest individuals at will. And in a city like New York, which has over 100 officers per square mile and plans to equip each one of them with body cameras by 2019, the privacy implications of turning every beat cop into a surveillance camera are enormous.

“The inclusion of face recognition really changes the nature and purpose of body cameras, and it changes what communities expect when they call for and pay for cameras with taxpayer dollars,” Yu said. “I think there’s a real fear in communities of color, where officers are already concentrated, that these body-worn cameras will become another tool for surveillance rather than a tool for accountability.”

A Los Angeles police officer wears an AXON body camera during the Immigrants Make America Great March, which protested actions taken by the Trump administration, on Feb. 18, 2017, in Los Angeles, California.

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

A Digital Enemies List

Civil rights group concur that tracking individuals caught on body cameras — either live or using archival footage — could put a chill on First Amendment-protected activities.

“Are you going to go to a gun rights rally or a protest against the president, for that matter, if the government can secretly scan your face and identify you?” Bedoya asked the House Committee in his testimony on Wednesday.

These are not far-fetched concerns, given revelations in recent years of the NYPD’s Demographics Unit, tasked with monitoring the activities of Muslim communities, and ongoing surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists in Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New York. In a 2010 slideshow, the FBI discussed how face recognition could be used to tag individuals at campaign rallies. And law enforcement officials in Memphis revealed last month that they have used surveillance footage of protesters linked to Black Lives Matter to create a “watchlist” that prohibits those individuals from entering the Memphis City Hall without an escort.

“It’s not hard to imagine the worst way this could play out today, with a digital version of a J. Edgar Hoover-style ‘enemies list,’” Laperruque said, of the use of a real-time watchlist. “Even if we don’t have [a list], the mere threat develops a chilling effect.”

The provisions for such a system are already in place. Other types of real-time searches of biometric databases — such as mobile fingerprinting and rapid DNA tests — are now part of law enforcement routines and face few legal challenges. FBI searches of state driver’s license databases using face recognition software are almost six times more common than federal court-ordered wiretaps, according to the Georgetown study.

The databases, too, have already been built. Georgetown researchers estimated that one in every two faces of adults in the United States — many of whom have never committed a crime — are captured in searchable federal, state, or local databases. The Department of Defense, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are just a few of the federal agencies that can gain access to one or more state or local face recognition systems.

Regular interagency data-sharing programs, such as fusion centers, have given officers the ability to track not only people convicted of crimes, but also petty offenders and immigrants. Immigrants entering and exiting the country with visas have already handed over fingerprints and photos of their faces to the Department of Homeland Security. President Trump has demanded the completion of a biometric system for all travelers at the border, and a new bill introduced Tuesday in the House calls for all ICE agents to wear body cameras.

“I think it is absolutely a concern that face recognition would be used to facilitate deportations,” said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, an expert on policing technology at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “We’re seeing how this administration is ramping up these deportation efforts. They’re looking much more widely.”

But despite these precedents and possibilities, few departments have outlined policies to limit the pairing of facial recognition technology with body camera footage. In August, Yu and colleagues at Upturn surveyed the major city police departments in the country that have equipped — or will soon equip — officers with body cameras. Out of 50 departments, only six had addressed the use of biometrics such as face recognition with their recordings.

Baltimore’s policy appears to be the first to explicitly prohibit using “stored” body-camera video with face recognition, but it still leaves the door open for real-time recognition. Meanwhile, the Boston police department limits “technological enhancements” to the cameras themselves, “including, but not limited to, facial recognition or night-vision capabilities.” This policy has the opposite problem of Baltimore’s, Yu pointed out, as it still could allow for algorithms to analyze the department’s stored footage retrospectively. He said it was essential that police departments limit the amount of time they keep footage that has no obvious evidentiary value.

“When they have this footage around, it will make it possible for departments to identify all the public places where specific individuals have encountered police over the years,” said Yu. “Given that departments are going down the path of better image recognition and better artificial intelligence technologies, they need to make public promises now that this is not the reason why they want to adopt body cameras.”

A video wall shows New York City police officers an interactive map of the area, security footage from nearby cameras, and whether any threats have been made.

Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

Already Inaccurate

Even with ideal policies in place, many privacy experts contend that both face recognition and body cameras are ineffective to begin with.

Body cameras have so far failed to deliver the accountability that President Barack Obama promised when his administration provided over $20 million to supply them to law enforcement. Footage from body cams rarely leads to the prosecution of officers who have shot civilians, and their efficacy in reducing police use of force is supported by limited peer-reviewed research. Not all departments have public policies guiding the use of the expensive equipment. Moreover, those that do have policies in place often insufficiently limit the retention of recordings, the ability to view footage prior to writing reports, and whether and when the cameras should be turned on.

Meanwhile, some studies have shown the accuracy of facial recognition matches decreases when identifying black faces and children, when evaluated by human examiners, and when datasets expand. A Government Accountability Office report showed that FBI searches of its Next Generation Identification database over four years returned likely matches with faces only 5 percent of the time.

“The FBI doesn’t test for false positives so it doesn’t know how frequently a system misidentifies someone as a suspect,” Diana Maurer, of the Government Accountability Office, told legislators on Wednesday. “Innocent people could bear the burden of being falsely accused, including bearing the burden of investigators showing up to their home and investigating them.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore added at the hearing, “If you’re black, you’re more likely to be affected by this technology, and that technology is more likely to be wrong. That’s a hell of a combination.”

This month, the National Institute for Standards and Technology released its first-ever test of real-time facial recognition algorithms. While the study doesn’t cover body-worn cameras, it evaluates the uses of face recognition with video in other surveillance scenarios, such as transportation hubs, asylum claims, immigration exits, and restraining orders. The study found that the accuracy of real-time face recognition algorithms had yet to reach a peak functional performance and ultimately depends on the “very difficult goal” of high image quality and resolution.

Concerns about accuracy are compounded by the fact that the companies’ algorithms are in private hands.

“How accurate is the system that puts person in jail because it says that person has warrant out for an arrest?” Yu asked. “These systems haven’t been interrogated by the public, and when they aren’t interrogated, it heightens the stakes far beyond what Microsoft or Google might be doing with their data.”

Vendors have the ability to run analytics on the footage and data that officers collect through their body cameras — and to own the results. Agencies working with Taser pay monthly subscription fees to the corporation’s information hub, evidence.com, for instance, which stores the footage on private servers. It’s these fees for storage, rather than the one-time cost of the material cameras, that are making the stock of Taser’s technology subsidiary soar.

Experts fear that the data and analytics harvested from real-time face recognition may be capitalized on for profit and that the systems will be ripe for overuse. The development of Automatic License Plate Readers, or ALPRs, serves as an instructive example.

ALPR systems, which capture and digitize license plates, were originally pitched as a way to reduce car theft. But with auto theft declining, it was hard to justify the technology’s high cost, and so a private company, Vigilant Solutions, cooked up a scheme to offer it to departments for free. But in exchange, municipalities give Vigilant their records of outstanding arrest warrants and overdue court fees, which the company uses to create a database of “flagged” vehicles. When ALPR cameras spot a flagged plate, officers pull the driver over and ask them to pay the fine or face arrest. For every transaction brokered between police and civilians pulled over with flagged plates, Vigilant gets a 25 percent service fee.

One could imagine a similar arrangement for face recognition. Daniel Fisk, vice president of the body-worn camera vendor Black Mamba Protection, thinks that given the cost of a “luxury” tool like real-time face recognition, it’s likely the software will be introduced on dashboard cameras well before it’s linked to body cameras.

“If face recognition becomes a thing, it will be in the cruisers where the ALPR are,” he said. 

The opportunity to collect revenue from data-driven arrests might incentivize municipalities to invest in technologies regardless of their accuracy, argues Laperruque, of the Constitution Project. Law enforcement agencies have historically fallen prey to all kinds of emerging, expensive technologies. And as the case with regular body cameras already makes clear, departments are no stranger to purchasing technologies whether or not they actually work.

The John Hopkins survey of the new capacities of body camera vendors concluded with a word of caution: “The technology is only as good as the people who implement it.”

The post Real-Time Face Recognition Threatens to Turn Cops’ Body Cameras Into Surveillance Machines appeared first on The Intercept.

A saga da Famiglia Vilela, os maiores pecuaristas e destruidores de florestas do Brasil

22 March 2017 - 1:30pm

Desde 2010 as “damas do agronegócioreúnem-se mensalmente na sede da Sociedade Rural Brasileira na cidade de São Paulo. Entre as 23 integrantes do Núcleo Feminino do Agronegócio, participava a grande pecuarista Ana Luiza Junqueira Vilela Viacava. Em 2012, ela declarou: “Gosto da terra e da segurança que ela me dá para o futuro”. Quatro anos depois, Ana Luiza seria presa, acusada de grilagem.

A prisão da expoente do agronegócio nacional foi um desdobramento da Operação Rios Voadores, deflagrada em 30 de junho de 2016 com o objetivo de desarticular uma poderosa quadrilha de grilagem e desmatamento de terras no distrito de Castelo de Sonhos, município de Altamira (PA), às margens da BR-163.

O chefe da quadrilha era Antônio José Junqueira Vilela Filho, de 39 anos, conhecido como AJ Vilela ou Jotinha, irmão de Ana Luíza; o número dois do organograma era Ricardo Caldeira Viacava, seu marido. Jotinha agiu por anos até alcançar a marca de 300 km² desmatados em Castelo dos Sonhos, uma área quase 12 vezes maior que a ilha de Fernando de Noronha.

AJ Vilela, que tem o recorde da maior multa aplicada pelo Ibama a um indivíduo por crimes ambientais: R$332,765,736.50

Foto: ver-o-fato.com.br

Este número faz de Jotinha “o maior desmatador individual já registrado na Amazônia desde que se iniciou o monitoramento das derrubadas”, segundo Juan Doblas, um dos autores do livro “Dono é quem desmata”, que tem um capítulo dedicado à grilagem dos Vilela Junqueira.

A Operação Rios Voadores custou dois anos de investigações, incluiu interceptações telefônicas e quebra dos sigilos bancário e fiscal da quadrilha e envolveu 95 policiais federais, 15 auditores da Receita Federal e 32 servidores do Ibama. Ao todo, foram cumpridos 24 mandados de prisão preventiva em municípios de Mato Grosso, Pará, São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul e Santa Catarina, além de outros 26 mandados de condução coercitiva ou de busca e apreensão, todos expedidos pela Justiça Federal de Altamira.

Contra Ana Luiza Junqueira Vilela Viacava foi emitida apenas uma ordem de condução coercitiva, que acabou não sendo cumprida porque ela estava em férias nos EUA. Porém, nos dias seguintes à operação, escutas telefônicas autorizadas pela Justiça apuraram que, mesmo do exterior, ela comandou a ocultação e a destruição de provas contra o irmão e o marido, já preso, e outros membros da quadrilha. No retorno das férias, ao desembarcar no aeroporto de Guarulhos (SP), em 4 de julho, Ana Luíza foi presa. Alguns dias depois, Jotinha, que estava foragido, se entregou à justiça.

A famiglia

Ana Luiza Junqueira Vilela Viacava, presa na Operação Rios Voadores

Foto: Polícia Federal

De família mineira radicada em São Paulo, AJ Vilela e Ana Luíza são filhos de Antônio José Rossi Junqueira Vilela, o AJJ, icônico pecuarista que estampa reportagens elogiosas nos principais jornais e revistas dedicados ao agronegócio. Os artigos enaltecem seu talento como criador de gado nelore e relatam as mordomias dispensadas aos animais premiados em suas fazendas. AJJ é citado como “um modelo de sucesso que traz lições para grandes e pequenos pecuaristas”.

Seus filhos são presença constante em colunas sociais e aparecem circulando sorridentes em vernissages, desfiles de moda e festas, entre empresários, estilistas, galeristas, modelos e outros nomes do jet set.

Os cenários da trama que levou AJ Vilela, Ana Luiza e seu marido, Ricardo Caldeira Viacava (de outra família de pecuaristas de igual vulto) à cadeia vão do Jardim Europa, bairro de elite em São Paulo, a Castelo de Sonhos, no Pará, passando por Nova York e pelo Caribe, em uma narrativa que conecta revistas como Vogue e Glamurama a publicações especializadas em pecuária.

AJJ pai, o caçador de fortunas

AJJ, o patriarca, começou suas atividades aos 20 anos de idade em Mato Grosso quando – assim como outros personagens dessa série – ganhou, em 1967, 10 mil hectares no até então inexplorado estado “e partiu em busca do sonho de ser um criador grande e respeitado”.

Nessa jornada, fez uma escala em Rondônia, onde se tornou dono da fazenda Yvypytã. Foi acusado de comandar um massacre de garimpeiros em 1983 e também citado no terrível extermínio de índios isolados na região da fazenda. Em uma investigação nunca concluída, suspeita-se que AJJ e outros dizimaram um grupo de índios não contatados, envenenado-os com arsênico misturado a açúcar e depois atacando-os com peões.

Foi em Mato Grosso que AJJ logrou se tornar “grande e respeitável”. O próprio conta para quem quiser saber que, em seus primórdios como pecuarista, promoveu extensos desmatamentos: “Comprei muita coisa em Mato Grosso quando as terras ainda eram baratas. O valor pago era simbólico. Coisa de um dólar por hectare. Então, eu comprava áreas grandes, abria a fazenda e depois vendia. Nesse período eu cheguei a ter 200 mil hectares”. “Abrir fazenda”, obviamente, significa desmatar e formar pastagens.

Em 2005, Vilela pai foi multado em R$ 60 milhões (valores de 2005) por desmatamento dentro do Parque Estadual do Cristalino, ostentando a maior multa já aplicada pelo estado de Mato Grosso até então.

Uma área da floresta amazônica, próxima à reserva indígena Baú, desmatada pelos Vilela.

Foto: Diretoria de Proteção Ambiental – IBAMA

AJJ jamais pagou a multa. Mais grave ainda, seguiu acessando recursos públicos por meio do Fundo de Desenvolvimento da Amazônia (FDA) – cerca de R$ 60 milhões –, do Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) – R$ 10 milhões – e do Banco da Amazônia – cerca de R$ 9,9 milhões.

O dinheiro seria usado para a construção de duas hidrelétricas dentro do Parque Estadual do Cristalino, a despeito das denúncias de diversas irregularidades na concessão das licenças da obra – inclusive a mais óbvia, o licenciamento de empreendimentos no interior de uma unidade de conservação.

O caso foi tratado pela Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito (CPI) das Pequenas Centrais Hidrelétricas na Assembleia Legislativa de Mato Grosso com acusações de que as licenças teriam sido obtidas com utilização de documentos falsos. A CPI ainda recebeu denúncias de que as licenças foram concedidas no marco de uma barganha política com o ex-governador de Mato Grosso e hoje ministro da Agricultura, Blairo Maggi, de cuja campanha AJJ teria sido um importante apoiador.

As obras das centrais hidrelétricas foram paralisadas, mas o gado da família de AJJ segue pastando dentro dos limites do Parque Estadual do Cristalino mesmo com processo e multas em andamento.

Mapa mostra as terras da reserva indígena Baú e áreas de floresta ilegalmente desmatadas que permanecem oficialmente embargadas. Moradores contaram a The Intercept Brasil, em novembro, que os Vilela continuam a criar gado nas terras.

Montagem: Mauricio Torres

Jotinha, o herdeiro prodígio

AJ filho, o Jotinha, puxou ao pai. E o superou.

Embora não fosse tarefa fácil, AJ Vilela fez de seu pai um amador. Jotinha hoje pode se apresentar como a pessoa que acumula o maior valor em multas por crimes ambientais aplicadas pelo Ibama no país, totalizando mais de R$ 332 milhões.

As cifras milionárias dos autos de infração aplicados a AJ Vilela não chegaram a um quinto do R$ 1,9 bilhão que ele movimentou entre 2012 e 2015.

AJ Vilela começou o desmatamento em Castelo dos Sonhos entre 2010 e 2011. O Ibama chegou a autuá-lo em cifras milionárias já em 2012, 2013 e 2014 (ver gráfico). As áreas desmatadas eram embargadas e, mesmo assim, AJ Vilela formava pastos, colocava gado e seguia com as derrubadas. Quando foi preso, mais de quatro anos após iniciar o desmate e ter dado fartas demonstrações de que não pararia, AJ Vilela já havia arrasado 300 km2 de floresta.

As cifras milionárias dos autos de infração aplicados a AJ Vilela não chegaram a um quinto do R$ 1,9 bilhão que ele movimentou entre 2012 e 2015 segundo dados do Ministério Público Federal (MPF). Ainda assim, o pecuarista não pagou as multas por crimes ambientais.

“Desde quando crime organizado paga alguma coisa?”, respondeu indignado Luciano Evaristo, diretor de Proteção Ambiental do Ibama, quando nossa reportagem questionou se AJ Vilela pagou alguma quantia das centenas de milhões de reais que já recebeu em multas.

Fonte: Diretoria de Proteção Ambiental do Ibama.

Fonte: Diretoria de Proteção Ambiental do Ibama.

Modus Operandi: Tiro, Porrada e Lucro

Durante toda a nossa viagem, ouvimos relatos sobre a violência empregada por AJ Vilela e seus jagunços. Uma grande variedade de pessoas se queixou, de famílias camponesas a grileiros menores. Em comum, todos denunciaram despejos violentos aos quais foram submetidos pelo pecuarista.

Um trabalhador rural que, por razões de segurança, quis permanecer anônimo, narrou que “quem trabalhava ali [em uma porção grilada pela quadrilha] saiu tirado na força bruta. Foi os Vilela, tirando eles na bala”. Segundo ele, os Vilela ocuparam uma faixa de 35 km: “Quem entrava aqui, morria. Por isso, o pessoal tem muito medo dos Vilela ainda. Quando fala o nome deles, arrepia, treme. Porque são bárbaros”.

Uma narrativa que se repete no histórico de Jotinha. Ele já é réu em processo por tentativa de homicídio, arquivado por falta de provas, e que pode ser reaberto a partir de novas informações obtidas na Operação Rios Voadores. Jotinha e seus supostos jagunços são acusados de terem armado emboscada e atirado contra a trabalhadora rural sem-terra Dezuíta Assis Ribeiro Chagas, que participava de ocupação em terras vizinhas a uma das fazendas da família Vilela no Pontal do Paranapanema (SP).

Notícias divulgadas pela imprensa indicam que “a Polícia Federal, enquanto apurava o esquema em Castelo de Sonhos, no Pará, gravou uma conversa em que o advogado de AJ Vilela manda que ele sumisse com as armas do crime”:

Advogado: Que pode sair uma temporária em cima deles [jagunços de AJ Vilela], ou até mesmo uma prisão em flagrante deles.

AJ Vilela: Tá bom.

Advogado: E as ferramentas você some com elas de lá.

[Nota do editor: Para a Polícia Federal, ferramentas é como se referem às armas.]

Pecuaristas jetsetters e seus escravos na Amazônia

Além das denúncias de grilagem de terras e desmatamento, AJ Vilela e seu cunhado, Ricardo Caldeira Viacava, também foram denunciados pelos crimes de trabalho escravo e frustração de direito trabalhista.

Ricardo Caldeira Viacava, que foi acusado de utilizar trabalho escravo e violar a legislação trabalhista, além de desmatamento ilegal de terras públicas na Amazônia.

Foto: Facebook

Ricardo, marido de Ana Luíza Vilela, é membro de outra família da elite pecuarista de São Paulo. Seu pai, Carlos Viacava, foi ministro da Fazenda durante o governo militar do General Figueiredo e é detentor de fazendas em Paulínia, Presidente Venceslau e Presidente Epitácio, no interior do estado. Conhecido pela marca CV, atua na seleção genética de gado nelore, é ex-presidente da Associação de Criadores de Nelore do Brasil e foi eleito pela revista Dinheiro Rural uma das cem personalidades mais influentes do agronegócio em 2016.

A exploração de trabalho em condições análogas à escravidão acabou sendo flagrada in loco pela fiscalização do Ibama.

Segundo a denúncia ajuizada pelo MPF contra AJ Vilela e Ricardo Viacava, os trabalhadores “iniciavam as operações de derrubada às 04:30 da manhã e só encerravam suas atividades ao escurecer, cerca de 17:30 horas, portanto, estavam sujeitos a jornadas exaustivas de trabalho”.

A exploração de trabalho em condições análogas à escravidão acabou sendo flagrada in loco pela fiscalização do Ibama. Associar esse crime em flagrante às acusações de grilagem e desmatamento tornou as denúncias mais contundentes e foi essencial para o avanço da Operação Rios Voadores.

Um detalhe relevante: o Ibama não chegou à “cena do crime” por meio do aprimorado sistema de geomonitoramento por satélites do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe). Quem guiou a equipe de fiscalização foi o povo indígena Kayapó.

Conhecimento Indígena > Imagens de Satélites

O trabalho escravo pôde ser flagrado por iniciativa dos Kayapó. Foi graças ao sofisticado controle territorial dos índios que o último polígono desmatado por AJ Vilela foi detectado durante, e não após, as derrubadas da floresta.

Geralmente, a fiscalização corre atrás do fato consumado – e não há como ser diferente. O sensoriamento remoto, a partir de imagens de satélites, identifica a alteração na cobertura vegetal após a floresta ser posta ao chão. Então, um sistema de alertas é acionado, encaminhando a fiscalização a campo para checar e tomar providências. Comumente, chega-se com os serviços de derrubada terminados e sem qualquer flagrante do trabalho escravo frequentemente associado aos desmatamentos.

A quadrilha não contava com a astúcia e capacidade de monitoramento territorial dos Kayapó.

Luciano Evaristo, chefe de proteção ambiental do IBAMA.

Foto: Diretoria de Proteção Ambiental – IBAMA

Em 2014, a quadrilha liderada por AJ Vilela atacava uma área de 14 mil hectares na divisa com a terra indígena Baú, do povo Kayapó, no Pará. Luciano Evaristo, do Ibama, contou a The Intercept Brasil que havia 20 acampamentos distribuídos pela área, cada um com 10 trabalhadores, que “destruíam a floresta como cupins”.

As motosserras iam cortando árvores alternadamente e derrubando todo o sub-bosque, porém, tomando cuidado para preservar a cobertura do dossel formado pelas árvores mais altas e densas, de modo que os satélites não identificassem alterações severas na cobertura florestal. “Agindo assim, o sistema não emitia alertas de desmatamento, e, sem os alertas, não haveria como chegar até a área”, explicou Evaristo.

Requintado, Jotinha controlava tudo a partir de seus escritórios em cidades distantes dali, com profissionais de geomonitoramento acompanhando e garantindo que os trabalhos seguissem invisíveis aos olhos dos satélites.

Quando a maior parte da destruição estivesse concluída “por baixo”, seriam rapidamente derrubadas as altas árvores que mantinham essa cobertura vegetal aparente. Somente nesse momento, o estrago seria detectável pelo sistema de monitoramento remoto e, novamente, o Ibama chegaria à área apenas quando tudo estivesse terminado e os crimes ambientais e trabalhistas consumados.

Entretanto, a quadrilha não contava com a astúcia e capacidade de monitoramento territorial dos Kayapó.

Kayapós conversam com um oficial do Ibama. Sem o cuidadoso monitoramento dos Kayapó, a quadrilha não teria sido apanhada  usando trabalho escravo para desmatar ilegalmente.

Foto: Diretoria de Proteção Ambiental – IBAMA

Como conta Luciano Evaristo, “os Kayapó vieram a Brasília denunciar que havia um desmatamento terrível na divisa do território deles e exigiram providências”. Em princípio, a denúncia causou estranheza pois o sistema de geomonitoramento não registrava nenhuma derrubada onde os índios acusavam. “Mas os índios nos levaram diretamente aos cinco acampamentos e lá encontramos 44 pessoas em condições de trabalho análogas à escravidão.”

A eficiência dos índios foi marcante para Evaristo. “O monitoramento na Amazônia só é possível se contarmos com os povos da floresta. São eles que detêm o controle territorial”, declara.

A associação do flagrante de trabalho escravo aos outros crimes de desmatamento e grilagem foi o início do processo que levaria a Operação Rios Voadores a desbaratar o esquema da família Vilela.

Algo mudou?

AJJ pai – que desapareceu de cena e aparentemente sofre de doença degenerativa em avançado estágio – passou impune por todos os seus feitos, com multas milionárias quase nunca pagas e processos jamais concluídos. Seus filhos, porém, acabaram presos pela Operação Rios Voadores.

Ana Luiza Vilela teria sido libertada no dia 20 de julho de 2016, após duas semanas de prisão. Jotinha esteve atrás das grades até outubro de 2016. Os processos judiciais estão em andamento, mas os réus contam com os melhores advogados que o dinheiro pode comprar e com uma Justiça notoriamente lenta.

As multas não foram pagas, os embargos não são respeitados e, mais grave, as terras públicas griladas continuam indiscutivelmente nas mãos da quadrilha Vilela.

Mesmo assim, do ponto de vista judicial, a Operação Rios Voadores conseguiu um feito muito importante. A caracterização dos muitos crimes associados foi bem embasada no processo e levou à cadeia gente que se considerava fora do alcance da lei. A operação também logrou conter a derrubada de árvores no local – pelo menos por hora.

No entanto, quando estivemos na área em novembro passado, notamos que a grilagem da quadrilha continua ativa. As terras são reconhecidas como pertencentes aos Vilela pelos vizinhos, empregados seguem trabalhando e, embora não tenhamos presenciado, moradores locais contam que ainda há engorda de gado naqueles pastos.

As multas não foram pagas, os embargos não são respeitados e, mais grave, as terras públicas griladas continuam indiscutivelmente nas mãos da quadrilha Vilela. Quais seriam, portanto, os resultados concretos deste processo?

Oficial do Ibama inspeciona árvore cortada por AJ Vilela.

Foto: Diretoria de Proteção Ambiental – IBAMA

Para o diretor de Proteção Ambiental do Ibama, Luciano Evaristo, com a fazenda embargada, “eles não poderão vender o gado engordado nessa área, pois os frigoríficos não podem comprar gado oriundo de áreas embargadas e não conseguirão fazer o Cadastro Ambiental Rural (CAR), além de também não conseguirem a regularização fundiária da terra”.

Entretanto, nenhuma regulação parece ser um entrave incontornável para a quadrilha. É fato que os frigoríficos se comprometeram a não mais comprar gado que venha de terras em condições irregulares. Porém, o esquema de “lavagem de gado” é simples, rápido e barato. Basta que o gado, no trajeto entre a área embargada e o frigorífico, faça uma escala em um pasto em situação regular. Como o compromisso do frigorífico se limita à última procedência do rebanho, o gado passa a ter origem regular.

“Dono é quem desmata.”

A procuradora da República em Altamira, Patrícia Daros Xavier, disse à reportagem que “existem documentos que apontam que a carne adquirida por grandes frigoríficos advém de gado criado nas áreas de desmatamento ilegal”. Tais fatos ainda estão sendo investigados. Entre os grandes frigoríficos, estaria a JBS, a maior processadora de carne do mundo, acusada recentemente na Operação Carne Fraca, o escândalo da carne estragada e imprópria para consumo que atingiu as principais empresas do setor no último dia 17 de março.

O fato de não adquirir a regularização fundiária das terras griladas, ao que parece, também não gera maiores prejuízos para a família Vilela, uma vez que continuam no controle da terra mesmo sem documentos.

Na região, é comum a máxima “dono é quem desmata”, referindo-se ao fato de que as terras desmatadas ilegalmente acabam integradas ao mercado, e quem derrubou a floresta é reconhecido como dono, lucrando muito com a venda ou a exploração da terra grilada.

Retomar as terras griladas pela quadrilha não é atribuição legal da Operação Rios Voadores nem dos órgãos que dela participaram. Isso caberia ao Programa Terra Legal, vinculado ao Ministério do Desenvolvimento Agrário. Entretanto, segundo o Sistema de Protocolos (Sisprot), que controla os processos administrativos do órgão, até hoje, nenhuma atitude foi tomada para reaver as terras griladas pelos Vilela. A reportagem tentou contato com o responsável pelo Programa Terra Legal no oeste do Pará mas não obteve resposta.

Também procuramos AJ Vilela para ser ouvido na reportagem, mas não obtivemos qualquer resposta.

E assim, apesar das prisões e processos contra a família Vilela, a omissão conivente do órgão fundiário consolida a prática de que quem desmata torna-se dono da terra, alimentando o ciclo de violência, grilagem e destruição florestal que tem sido a marca registrada do agronegócio no Brasil.

Esta matéria é da série exclusiva “Tapajós sob Ataque”, escrita pela jornalista Sue Branford e pelo cientista social Mauricio Torres, que percorrem a bacia Tapajós. A série é produzida em colaboração com Mongabay, portal independente de jornalismo ambiental. Leia a versão em inglês. Acompanhe outras reportagens no The Intercept Brasil ao longo das próximas semanas.

The post A saga da Famiglia Vilela, os maiores pecuaristas e destruidores de florestas do Brasil appeared first on The Intercept.

Witness Accounts of Attack at British Parliament in London

22 March 2017 - 12:46pm

Last updated at 2:08 p.m.

POLITICAL JOURNALISTS AND BYSTANDERS in London watched in horror as a police officer was stabbed outside the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, and the suspected assailant then ran towards the door used by members of Parliament to enter the chamber before being gunned down by plain clothes officers.

A "terrorist incident" at Westminster has left at least one person dead and others with "catastrophic injuries," according to doctors. pic.twitter.com/YYK4fEvllA

— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) March 22, 2017

Both the attacker and the officer later died of their wounds, along with at least two bystanders who were run down by the suspected assailant’s car on Westminster Bridge outside Parliament. Witness accounts of the attack were quickly shared on social networks.

Terror attack outside U.K. Parliament. 2 men down on road. Man with knife/machete got into Parliament and stabbed policeman. He's been shot pic.twitter.com/aYNktTiF4d

— James West (@westicles69) March 22, 2017

Quentin Letts, a Daily Mail politics writer, told the BBC he saw a man in black using what appeared to be a knife to attack a police officer close to Big Ben, before being shot as he rushed towards the entrance to Parliament.

Just saw Parliamentary security men shoot a man who had attacked a policeman. Impressive reaction times by police.

— Quentin Letts (@thequentinletts) March 22, 2017

Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s former foreign minister, shared video of bystanders rushing to help wounded people on the bridge in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

A car on Westminster Bridge has just mowed down at least 5 people. pic.twitter.com/tdCR9I0NgJ

— Rados?aw Sikorski (@sikorskiradek) March 22, 2017

There are the cowardly attackers, and there are the people rushing to help the injured. They restore our faith, always, everywhere.

— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) March 22, 2017

David Lidington, the leader of the House of Commons, confirmed that the attacker was shot and killed on the grounds of Westminster Palace. Parliament was suspended and the members were forced into lockdown after the incident.

This is the moment the Commons was suspended in response to the stabbing of a police officer and a further incident on Westminster bridge. pic.twitter.com/ahETHz8Gzo

— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) March 22, 2017

Deputy speaker announces UK Houses of Parliament suspended after incident on Westminster Bridge https://t.co/WG8yXWpPVV pic.twitter.com/0SpfNcjAIv

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 22, 2017

Scene inside suspended House of Commons where MPs are locked in Chamber as part of major security operation at palace pic.twitter.com/iGqFEc0LZL

— Steve McCabe (@steve_mccabe) March 22, 2017

Tobias Ellwood, a former soldier who is now a member of Parliament and Foreign Office minister, was among those who tried to save the life of the wounded officer.

Heroic MP Tobias Ellwood (here giving CPR to the injured police officer) lost his own brother Jon in the Bali bombings in 2002 pic.twitter.com/kA9hxN8OGL

— Rupert Myers (@RupertMyers) March 22, 2017

Video of that scene was captured by Jaden Patel, a bystander, who shared the images online.

As the area around Parliament was sealed off, and first responders attempted to treat the wounded, political journalists shared fragmentary glimpses of the scene.

pic.twitter.com/lRLKrPokrb

— steve swann (@steveswannBBC) March 22, 2017

Paramedics desperately trying to revive injured in New Palace Yard pic.twitter.com/esmQtULO9q

— Libby Wiener (@LibbyWienerITV) March 22, 2017

Shaky video of commotion after Parliament shooting. pic.twitter.com/ofGZwcMgaA

— Patrick Daly (@thepatrickdaly) March 22, 2017

Looks like a Minister has blood on him
But he's ok. Think he was helping cops.

— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) March 22, 2017

Helicopter landing on Parliament Square with emergency services. pic.twitter.com/g3LqOwp6bR

— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) March 22, 2017

Brazilian tourist Renato Lincoln describes hearing three shots in quick succession. He took this picture of the car before police arrived. pic.twitter.com/8Ri1dDPBgd

— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) March 22, 2017

The Metropolitan Police said that they were “treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise,” and armed officers were on the scene.

Incident in #Westminster: We are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise

— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) March 22, 2017

Officers – including firearms officers – remain on scene in #Westminster. More info as and when verified

— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) March 22, 2017

The police also appealed to the public to show “restraint” in what images they share online.

Please use common sense and restraint in circulating pictures and videos of those that have been injured during the incident in #Westminster

— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) March 22, 2017

Among those showing no restraint, and instead seeking to capitalize on the raw emotions following the attack, was the anti-Muslim extremist Tommy Robinson, a hero of Breitbart News, who rushed to the scene of the crime to rant about it being part of a 1400-year war between Islam and the West.

Far-right proselytiser Tommy Robinson is somehow down at Westminster with another far-right activist: pic.twitter.com/N83sOTh77e

— Alex MacDonald (@AlexJayMac) March 22, 2017

While Robinson is a fringe figure in Britain, the attack could play a role in the upcoming presidential election in France, given that the French prime minister confirmed that some of those injured by the car were schoolchildren from Brittany. Marine Le Pen, the far-right, anti-Muslim candidate for the presidency, quickly released a statement on the attack.

The post Witness Accounts of Attack at British Parliament in London appeared first on The Intercept.

Seria Israel um Estado de Apartheid? Até os israelenses mais importantes já o reconheceram

22 March 2017 - 12:31pm

Em seus escritos, o jornalista israelense Hirsh Goodman descreveu como ele voltou para casa após a Guerra dos Seis Dias, em junho de 1967, para ouvir o pai fundador do país e então primeiro-ministro, David Ben Gurion, falar na rádio. “Israel”, disse ele, “deveria livrar-se dos territórios e da população árabe o mais rápido possível”, relembra Goodman. “Se não o fizesse, Israel em breve se tornaria um Estado de Apartheid”.

Goodman nasceu e foi criado durante o apartheid na África do Sul. “Aquela frase, ‘Israel se tornará um Estado de Apartheid’, ressoou em mim”, Goodman escreveu. “De imediato, eu entendi o que ele queria dizer.”

De imediato. Mesmo assim, cinquenta anos depois, apesar de uma ocupação rígida e em curso, os defensores de Israel rejeitam arduamente qualquer menção à palavra começada por “A”. Os líderes políticos norte-americanos que ousaram utilizá-la em relação a Israel, como John Kerry e Jimmy Carter, foram forçados a se desculpar e retirar o que disseram. Na semana passada, a Comissão Econômica e Social das Nações Unidas para a Ásia Ocidental (UNESCWA) se tornou a primeira agência das Nações Unidas a publicar um relatório oficial documentando como “Israel estabeleceu um regime de apartheid que domina o povo palestino como um todo”, e isto provocou — como notou meu colega Glenn Greenwald — um furor imenso que levou o secretariado das Nações Unidas a remover o relatório de seu site, e o diretor jordaniano da UNESCWA, Rima Khalef, a se demitir em protesto.

Sorte, dizem os defensores do Estado Judeu. Mencionar o crime grotesco do apartheid e o estado democrático de Israel na mesma frase, alegam, é uma “calúnia”, é “vexatório”, uma “mentira flagrante e desprezível”, um ato vergonhoso de  “depreciação a Israel” e uma “nova forma de antissemitismo”.

Então, me pergunto, o que isso faz de Ben Gurion? Desonesto ou desprezível? E de Yitzhak Rabin, que disse a um jornalista de televisão em 1976, durante o primeiro de seus dois mandatos como primeiro-ministro de Israel: “Não acho que seja possível conter a situação a longo prazo, se não quisermos chegar a um apartheid, a [mais] um milhão e meio de árabes dentro do Estado Judeu”? Estaria ele também engajado numa campanha suja contra a nação que ele próprio liderava?

Nos últimos anos, mais dois ex-primeiro-ministros israelenses, Ehud Olmert e Ehud Barak, deram eco aos avisos de seus ilustres predecessores. Olmert previu que “se a solução de dois Estados falhar e nos depararmos com uma luta para a igualdade de direitos de voto como na África do Sul, o Estado de Israel acabará”, enquanto Barak declarou que “se esse grupo de milhões de palestinos não puder votar, isto será um Estado de Apartheid”.

Eles também são antissemitas?

Enquanto isso, vários israelenses de grande importância sugeriram que o apartheid não é um risco futuro, mas uma realidade presente, incluindo o ex-ministro da Educação Shulamit Aloni (“Israel pratica sua própria forma, bastante violenta, de apartheid com a população palestina nativa”), o ex-ministro do Meio Ambiente Yossi Sarid (“o que se comporta como apartheid, é conduzido como apartheid e causa danos como o apartheid não é um pato – é um apartheid”) e o ex-advogado-geral Michael Ben-Yair (“estabelecemos um regime de apartheid nos territórios ocupados”).

Outros foram ainda mais além, reconhecendo que Israel está no controle total entre o rio Jordão e o mar Mediterrâneo, estendendo a analogia do apartheid da Cisjordânia ocupada e de Gaza para dentro da Linha Verde, para o que é considerado Israel propriamente dito. O ex-chefe do Ministério das Relações Exteriores Alon Liel, que também serviu como embaixador na África do Sul, disse que, “até que um Estado Palestino seja criado, somos de fato um Estado. Esse Estado unido… é um Estado de Apartheid”.

Devemos dispensar todos esses ex-oficiais israelenses como inimigos de Israel?

Um aviso do apartheid em uma praia perto de Capetown, na África do Sul, informando que a área é apenas para brancos.

Foto: Keystone/Getty Images

E o que devemos fazer com os depoimentos de sul-africanos proeminentes que derrotaram o apartheid em casa — para depois se horrorizarem com o que testemunharam nos territórios ocupados? “Fiquei profundamente angustiado em minha visita à Terra Santa”, escreveu o bispo vencedor do Nobel da Paz Desmond Tutu em 2002. “Lembrou-me muito do que aconteceu conosco, os negros, na África do Sul.” Um grupo de altos funcionários do Congresso Nacional Africano (CNA) apoiou a comparação de Tutu, incluindo o ex-presidente sul-africano Kgalema Motlanthe (“a situação atual […] está pior do que as condições dos negros sob o regime do Apartheid”), o atual presidente do Parlamento sul-africano, Baleka Mbete (“muito pior do que o apartheid”), e o ex-ministro da Inteligência Sul-Africana Ronnie Kasrils (“as medidas israelenses, as brutalidades, fazem com que o apartheid pareça um piquenique”).

Devemos acreditar que todos esses veteranos da luta sul-africana contra o apartheid perderam o juízo? Devemos denunciá-los como antissemitas?

Há, então, o direito internacional. O que geralmente não se fala em muitos dos debates sobre Israel e a palavra começada em “A” é que podemos discutir legitimamente se – ou até que ponto – o Israel moderno se assemelha à África do Sul na época do apartheid. Na Cisjordânia ocupada, com suas “separadas e desiguais” malhas rodoviárias, sistemas de abastecimento de água e políticas de moradia, e onde os colonos israelenses estão amparados por lei civil, enquanto palestinos são julgados de acordo com a lei militar local, parece um caso concluído. Dentro da Linha Verde, onde cidadãos palestinos de Israel têm o direito a votar e a representação no parlamento e onde o árabe é uma língua oficial, a situação é reconhecidamente menos clara. No entanto, grupos de direitos humanos como Adalah apontam mais de 50 leis diferentes em Israel que privilegiam os judeus em detrimento dos árabes ou discriminam em favor dos judeus em áreas como moradia, educação e reunificação familiar.

Um muro de concreto separa os tráfegos palestino e israelense em uma rodovia perto de Ramalla, na Cisjordânia, em 2007..

Foto: Abbas Monmani/AFP/Getty Images

Contudo, pelo direito internacional, o apartheid é um crime específico com definições também específicas, independentemente da experiência sul-africana. A Convenção Internacional sobre a Repressão e Punição do Crime de Apartheid de 1973 alargou a definição do termo a “políticas e práticas de segregação e discriminação racial semelhantes às vivenciadas na África Austral” e a aplicou a “atos desumanos cometidos com o propósito de estabelecer e manter a dominação por um grupo racial de indivíduos sobre outro grupo racial”, incluindo a negação da livre circulação e a expropriação de terra.

Quatro anos após o colapso do regime afrikaner na África do Sul, o Estatuto de Roma de 1998, que estabeleceu a Corte Penal Internacional (ICC), definiu o apartheid como “atos desumanos […] cometidos no contexto de um regime institucionalizado de opressão sistemática e dominação por um grupo racial sobre qualquer outro(s), e cometidos com a intenção de manter tal regime”.

De uma perspectiva estritamente legal, portanto, dizer se Israel é ou não idêntico ou mesmo semelhante à época do apartheid na África do Sul é, francamente, irrelevante. A única questão que importa é se Israel está violando o direito internacional. Em 2009, uma equipe de acadêmicos e advogados comissionados pela agência de pesquisa estatal da África do Sul concluiu que Israel mantém “um sistema de dominação dos judeus sobre os palestinos” e “esse sistema constitui uma violação da proibição do apartheid”. Em 2013, outro estudo, coescrito pelo professor de direito internacional e ex-relator especial das Nações Unidas sobre direitos humanos em territórios ocupados John Dugard, declarou que “as práticas israelenses no território ocupado estão […] violando a proibição legal do apartheid”.

De volta a 1967, Goodman entendeu de imediato o que Ben Gurion tentava dizer. Hoje, os defensores do Estado Judeu se recusam a compreender as advertências dos ex-primeiros-ministros israelenses, as condenações dos ativistas sul-africanos anti-apartheid e as restrições claras do direito internacional. Para os palestinos, no entanto, isto está longe de ser uma questão acadêmica ou um mero tópico de debate. Há cinquenta anos eles são vítimas de discriminação, segregação e opressão. Quanto mais eles precisam suportar?

Tradução: Fernando Fico

Foto no topo: Trabalhadores palestinos esperam para cruzar um posto de controle israelense ao retornarem para suas casas após um dia de trabalho no Estado Judeu, em 2010, perto de Ni’ilin, na Cisjordânia.

The post Seria Israel um Estado de Apartheid? Até os israelenses mais importantes já o reconheceram appeared first on The Intercept.

Prison Dispatches From the War on Terror: American Explains What Drove Him to Extremism

22 March 2017 - 10:45am

In 2010, 26-year-old Shaker Masri, a U.S. citizen born in Alabama, was arrested on terrorism charges after making plans with an undercover government informant to leave the country to join the Shabab militant group in Somalia. Masri had spent months talking with the informant about his desire to travel abroad and fight. After he expressed his desire to go to Somalia, the two began pooling their resources in anticipation of their trip. Masri was arrested soon after he began to make preparations to leave the country.

Following his arrest, U.S. attorneys in Masri’s case described him as a proponent of a “violent, extremist ideology.” Prosecutors also cited the presence of jihadist literature on his personal computer and the eagerness he expressed to fight and die abroad as evidence of his danger to the public.

In 2012, Masri pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

A 2006 photo showing Shaker Masri at age 22.

Photo: Family Photo

He was sentenced to just under 10 years in prison. At his sentencing, a judge claimed that mitigating circumstances in Masri’s life, including the recent death of his mother and his relatively young age, had reduced the length of his sentence. Today, Masri is serving out the remainder of his sentence at a federal prison in Minnesota.

Masri describes himself as someone who was committed to jihadist ideology at the time that he was arrested. But after more than five years of incarceration, he says that his views have changed. Having once been infatuated with extremist groups, he says he now wants to help steer other young people away from the path he took, as well as explain to the American public what drives support for extremist groups.

Below is an interview with Masri conducted over phone and email from prison, in which he talks about his case and provides his views on radicalization and his perspective on how to undermine support for terrorist groups. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

 

Please briefly describe your background and upbringing.

My parents are originally from Syria but moved to Nigeria in the 1970s so my father could avoid mandatory conscription in the Syrian military. In the early ’80s, my father was accepted into an engineering program at a school in Alabama, and I was born during that time. But I spent most of my childhood in Nigeria. My upbringing was a very comfortable one. The quality of life I was afforded was very good, even by Western standards. In our home in Jos (a city in central Nigeria) I had a computer with access to the internet at a young age and also got money from my father to buy and take care of many animals as pets. I stayed in Nigeria until I was 18, when I came back to the United States to pursue a college education.

What were your religious views like as a young person?

As a rule, I hated all authority figures, but the authority figures I hated most of all were the mosque and religious people. Most of the children I lived around in Nigeria were Syrian expatriates like my family, so most of the girls who came of age were my childhood friends at some point. Every time one of these girls would start to wear the hijab, I felt like it was a betrayal, because I knew that what came next would be a separation from them. My parents sent me to Islamic lessons on the weekends. I despised those lessons, because there was a certain order that was expected of us and we had to spend time memorizing something we did not understand. The way that we were taught also made us feel like any insubordination would be a sin, and that felt very oppressive. I tried to be a devout Muslim many times but I fell off, and after awhile, I just gave up. I still believed in God and wanted the solace that faith gave, which I saw in others, but it required a form of commitment that I just wasn’t ready for.

How did you begin to form your political worldview?

I am from the Arab world and everyone there has an interest in global affairs. It’s a region that is affected by global events. We had satellite television in our home when I was growing up, and many channels broadcasted news reports of people who shared my ethnicity or religion and were being victimized around the world. I remember in my youth watching a documentary about the civil war in Lebanon, and the topic that day was the massacre at Sabra and Shatila. I was traumatized that day. After the episode, I went to our Palestinian neighbors and I asked their children, who were my friends, whether they’d heard anything about the massacre. When they told me they hadn’t, I felt angry with them because I felt that they had betrayed the memory of the victims by not knowing about them.

My family background in Syria and the fears that came with life there also strongly influenced my views. During our summer vacations, we would often travel back from Nigeria to Syria to visit our extended family. Before we boarded our flights, my father would ask my mother to ensure that when the plane landed in Damascus, my brother and I didn’t ask anything about politics, or make any comment about the thousands of Hafiz al-Assad portraits that littered the place. During dinners with relatives in Syria, I remembered how people’s voices would drop and there would be a silent tension in the air whenever anyone started speaking about politics. When people spoke, it was like they were tiptoeing around broken glass. As a child, I looked at my father for security. On those trips to Syria, I still remember looking at him and worrying that he would be taken away from me through no fault of his own. I felt a pressure on my chest that would only ease when we came back to Nigeria.

How were your views impacted by the start of the war on terror?

When 9/11 happened, I was in the U.S. and going to college in Illinois. Like most Muslims, I thought what happened was wrong, but it didn’t feel right to me that I had to apologize for something I had no part in. When Osama bin Laden released his tapes, I understood his grievances about the Arab dictators and the Palestinian plight but I thought that he had gone about things the wrong way. When I went to the mosque, the imam was just saying that Islam meant peace and that Islam was against what happened. I met some Muslim students who had grown up all their lives in the U.S. and used to watch them debate other students at the school about these subjects. I learned the broad outlines of their arguments, but after that, I mostly educated myself about religion and politics.

If you want to fight jihadism, it is necessary to see these people as human beings who are driven by normal human motivations.

After the U.S. invaded Iraq, I began to go online to visit some Islamic websites and follow the news of the insurgents who were fighting the United States. At the time I believed their propaganda, thinking it was all true, and I supported them as people who were fighting an oppressor. I still was not religious in any devout way. I supported the Green Party while I was a student because they also opposed the war and because I felt that they aligned with my values the most closely.

How did you develop an interest in jihadist ideology?

In 2007, while looking for discussions online, I found some religious groups. At first I was impressed with the people on these forums and their knowledge about religion. But when they started talking about politics, they were mostly saying that the Arab regimes all have to be obeyed and rebelling against them was religiously not allowed. I was shocked when I heard them say these regimes have to be obeyed, because everyone knows how brutal and corrupt they are. I started looking for other information online so that I could refute their arguments. Soon I was joining chat rooms that advocated the creation of an Islamic state, which seemed to me like a good solution.

Ultimately, the bad political situation in the Middle East and the greater Muslim world is what influenced me toward jihadist ideology. To me, an Islamic state simply meant freeing the people and overthrowing the corrupt regimes. I didn’t necessarily care about the Sharia part; Islam for me meant justice and independence, and that’s what I wanted. I began to go online and read jihadist literature, particularly the material that was written in the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s. I became very well read on these subjects and would debate them online with other people who shared the same ideology. My experience with those people is that they were very open to debate and the sharing of ideas. That appealed to me a lot. They would allow others to question them. They were very tuned into current events, and they would take the time to explain themselves and their views. They were not like the jihadists of today who seem to be very intolerant of any different opinions.

You said that you wanted justice and independence, but during the FBI investigation, you also told a government informant that you wanted to go abroad and die as a martyr.

I knew that I was going to a dangerous place (Somalia) but I also believed that without sacrifice, there is no success. I thought that there was a fight like David vs. Goliath, and that sacrifices had to be made. I was also propagating jihadi arguments online and I realized that if I don’t follow what I preached, I would be a hypocrite. Growing up, I was thinking about the Arab nationalist movements that ended up creating totalitarian states in the Middle East. I wanted to create equality and believed that an Islamic state could provide that. I also thought that the propagators of such a state would be honest and sincere Muslims. At the time, I was an idealist and never factored in human nature and human motivations.

What made you change your views in prison? 

In the first few years of my incarceration, I studied Islam quite a bit. The more I studied, the more I realized that texts are open to multiple interpretations on a wide spectrum and that jihadists opportunistically interpret texts to further their agenda. I came to realize that people who start thinking that they speak for God will become very fatalistic and will become like robots who lack remorse and empathy. They will outsource their conscience to their own interpretation of the text. I’m against a state run by theologians, because they will end up justifying all their actions, including killing people, as coming from a mandate from God. Today, I just want a place where people can practice their religion and have freedom of speech and freedom of association without being persecuted.

Ironically, a group can become legitimatized when a world superpower acknowledges them by publicly declaring a war against them.

Also, the experience of living in prison had a big effect. I’ve met lots of people, I’m surrounded by people all the time. I have a curiosity about human psychology, and the more I observed people around me the more I became convinced that some people will do horrendous things and then work to delude themselves into thinking they are doing something good. I took part in a program here run by the staff where inmates could discuss different topics together. I always brought up social and political topics, and I think most of the staff despised me at first because they felt that I was being anti-American by putting blame on “the system.” But they still never tried to silence me or kick me out of the program. They respected the fact that this is the country where everyone has a right to speak and the weakest and most vulnerable have rights too. I guess I just became wiser. And I think my childhood nature of mistrusting authority figures boomeranged.

As someone who was willing to die for a foreign militant group at one point, what do you think makes some young people susceptible to that desire?

When young Muslims around the world turn on the news and witness scenes of people in the Middle East and the greater Muslim world suffering and dying, they don’t just see them as “others.” They see people who look like their brothers, sisters, mothers, grandmothers. They see people who could be them. It’s not abnormal for citizens of one nation to want to take part in a conflict in another country. History is full of examples of this. These young people are not all loners who felt like they didn’t belong in their communities. If you want to fight jihadism, it is necessary to see these people as human beings who are driven by normal human motivations. We should be careful not to pathologize the problem, or treat it as something completely alien.

Most of the people who join these causes are young and inexperienced and have strong desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The jihadists, including people like Anwar al-Awlaki who translate the ideology into Western languages, make some naive youth believe that all the problems plaguing the Muslim world will disappear and everyone can live happily ever after if they just follow their program.

Do you think that it’s possible to just reason people away from extremism? 

Yes, but to do this, it is important that people can engage with each other on political and religious subjects in an environment that is free and honest. Jihadists often don’t realize that the reason other Muslims are rejecting them is not because of a fear of the authorities, coercion, or lack of religious devotion — it’s because their ideology and tactics are in fact reprehensible to most Muslims. These young people who are susceptible to extremism need to know the real reasons that others are shunning them. They also need to hear narratives that address reality and the real problems that exist in the world. But this requires treating them as humans who are open to dialogue and not simply monsters. It also means that Muslim communities must be treated as partners by governments and not as enemies, so that young people can speak about political topics without fear of spying and intrusive surveillance. When a young would-be jihadist sees other young people rejecting extremism as a response to problems, but at the same time not shunning politics altogether, it will make them start to doubt their position.

What do you think that governments can do to reduce the appeal of militant groups?

Because jihadists are aware that most Muslims are against their ideology, they believe that the only chance for them to succeed is by making the world hostile and inhospitable for all Muslims. If that happens, they believe Muslims will unite behind them in an apocalyptic fight against what they say is a modern-day crusade against Muslims. The jihadists like telling Muslims that non-Muslims will never be their friends. Unfortunately, the present political rhetoric is confirming their words in significant ways. Today in America, many Muslims feel that they are one major terrorist attack away from mass deportation or an internment camp. It seems like it doesn’t matter whether American Muslims share the ideology of jihadists or not, they are still guilty by association.

The government approach to fighting extremism today doesn’t even concern itself with being effective.

The way terrorism has been approached by the government and society has also helped the jihadists in their strategy. Ironically, a group can become legitimatized when a world superpower acknowledges them by publicly declaring a war against them. Another foolish strategy is the excessive use of “targeted” killings, and then announcing these killings as though they are a form of trophy hunting. For an ideology that thrives on immortalizing its martyrs, those announcements are damaging. It’s better to make such deaths look like they are the result of a power struggle within a terrorist organization. Finally, a big problem is that in America we tend to celebrate infamy and gangsterism in our media culture. When our coverage of terrorism is sensational, we end up depicting these terrorists the way that they want: as mysterious, enigmatic, and scary figures. We should portray them instead as misguided people who are being fooled and taken advantage of, to take away the cool factor. Once our “terrorism experts” realize that they are mostly dealing with young and misguided human beings, they will be more effective.

Do you think that the current government approach has been effective?

The government approach to fighting extremism today doesn’t even concern itself with being effective. The government is posting thousands of informants and spies inside Muslim communities, while at the same time asking those communities to be partners in the fight against terrorism. By doing so, it has created conditions that hinder open and honest dialogue among people that is the only way to actually address the problem of jihadist ideology. The government has also made many young Muslim people feel like they are their enemy. Prosecutors and law enforcement agents often seem more interested in making arrests and furthering their careers than winning what is actually a battle of hearts and minds. Punishment should be used as a tool to deter people, not to appease the public’s desire for revenge, especially when there is no victim. In my opinion, this approach has ended up creating more terrorists than deterring them.

If there is no change in strategy, and the only strategy is to keep securitizing the problem, what will happen? If anti-Muslim sentiment keeps rising in the West, and the persecution of Muslims continues, then what? If there is no plan to stop the violence in Muslim-populated countries, what will happen? Jihadism will continue to expand. In any place that the jihadists rise to power, they will trigger a global backlash against them. Nations will begin to bomb them, and in response to the bombing, the jihadists will commit or inspire attacks against the nations bombing them. The backlash against young Muslims will continue, and they will end up feeling persecuted and alienated. They will build resentments, and some will act on their resentments. The vicious cycle will continue. 

What made you want to talk about your experiences?

When ISIS came to power in 2014, any illusions I had left about jihadist groups disappeared. These people show all of the signs of psychopathy: manipulativeness, lack of remorse, lack of empathy, and an inability to learn from past mistakes. They make it a point to kill people in the most spectacular way. They oppress local populations until the locals turn against them. They are not warriors, they are gangsters. The present-day jihadist movement has been taken over by groups like this whose outlook is an end-of-days apocalyptic view of the world. Their goal is not to help the Syrian people, or any suffering people. They are using these conflicts as an opportunity to get resources and volunteers for themselves. They may claim to champion a cause, but they are only the champions of themselves. Jihadism has become the cause. 

I hope that my personal experiences and observations can be beneficial in deterring young people from joining groups like ISIS and from becoming jihadists. I am convinced that the struggle against jihadism will not be settled on the battlefield. Since the start of the war on terror, trillions of dollars have been spent and hundreds of laws passed in the name of combating terrorism, and we are not any closer to a resolution to this war. In reality, things have gotten worse. Until there is a different strategy, there will be “crazies” on all sides who continue killing each other in the name of religious beliefs, cults of personality, nationalism, and racial pride.

The post Prison Dispatches From the War on Terror: American Explains What Drove Him to Extremism appeared first on The Intercept.

Congress To Get More Money To Scrutinize Government Surveillance and Spies

22 March 2017 - 10:24am

Privacy advocates and national security wonks have for years argued that the House intelligence committee, a key overseer of spy agencies like the NSA, can’t do its job because it doesn’t have enough money to hire sufficient staff. Now that purported Russian hack attacks are routinely in the news, the committee is poised to get a big funding increase.

The budget for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence would rise 31 percent to $6.1 million under an omnibus resolution approved unanimously by members of the Committee on House Administration earlier this month. The resolution must still be approved by the full House, a process that typically occurs with little debate.

While all permanent House committees are set to get budget boosts under the resolution, the intelligence panel will receive one of the four largest increases. The funding runs through the two-year duration of the 115th Congress.

“Increasing resources for HPSCI is important given the number, complexity, and importance of intelligence issues,” Amy Zegart, the co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, wrote in an email. “Asking tough questions starts with great staff.”

The committee is responsible for policing the U.S.’s 17 different intelligence agencies, giving them oversight over controversial surveillance practices, covert operations, and analysis of hot-button developments with national security implications. It had 33 staff members last year.

In testimony before the House Administration Committee in February, intelligence committee chair Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, argued that the committee received fewer and fewer resources even as the intelligence agencies expanded in size and as global threats proliferated, including a “rise in global terrorism, increasing threats from ISIL, homegrown violent extremists, [and] cyber threats from our enemies.” According to Nunes, the committee lacks the resources it needs to “hire staff with specialized knowledge” as well as travel when necessary — and it wants to update its outdated technology infrastructure, “to reduce the risks of viruses, malware, and intrusion by foreign actors.”

The Intercept in February reported on a dearth of technical expertise within the intelligence committee’s staff and on concerns that this could leave it and its Senate counterpart unqualified to investigate alleged Russian hacking during the presidential election.

While committee funding “helps move them toward getting back in the game,” said Daniel Schuman, the policy director at Demand Progress, a liberal lobbying group, the panel will still likely struggle to fulfill its duties, given the sheer volume of spy-agency activity. The committee is “still fairly underfunded compared to the other committees,” he said. And because HPSCI can’t get much help from outside advisors, due to the nature of its classified work, it relies even more heavily on its own staff — most of whom are experts in law and policy, and not necessarily technical issues.

“This could be a really important step,” agreed Travis Moore, founder of TechCongress, a program that brings technical experts to Capitol Hill to work in members’ offices and contribute their knowledge and skills. “A $1.4 million increase could allow the committee to bring on several staff with strong technical backgrounds.  It should be a national security priority to have more of this kind of expertise in Congress.”

Top photo: House intelligence committee chair Devin Nunes talks with vice chair Adam Schiff during a break during a hearing Monday on possible Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election.

The post Congress To Get More Money To Scrutinize Government Surveillance and Spies appeared first on The Intercept.

Top Israelis Have Warned of Apartheid, so Why the Outrage at a UN Report?

22 March 2017 - 8:07am

IN HIS MEMOIR, the Israeli journalist Hirsh Goodman described how he returned home from the Six Day War in June 1967 to hear the country’s founding father and first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, speak on the radio. “Israel, he said, better rid itself of the territories and their Arab population as soon as possible,” recalled Goodman. “If it did not Israel would soon become an apartheid state.”

Goodman was born and raised in apartheid-era South Africa. “That phrase, ‘Israel will become an apartheid state,’ resonated with me,” Goodman wrote. “In a flash I understood what he was saying.”

In a flash. Yet fifty years later, despite an entrenched and ongoing occupation, Israel’s defenders angrily reject any invocation of the A-word. Leading U.S. politicians who have dared utter it in relation to Israel, such as John Kerry and Jimmy Carter, have been forced to apologize and backtrack. Last week, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) became the first U.N. agency to publish an official report documenting how “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole,” and this provoked — as my colleague Glenn Greenwald has noted — a huge furor which led to the U.N. secretariat removing the report from its website and the Jordanian head of the UNESCWA, Rima Khalef, quitting in protest.

Good riddance, say supporters of the Jewish state. To mention the grotesque crime of apartheid in the same sentence as the democratic state of Israel, they claim, is  “slander”, a “smear”, a “despicable” and “blatant lie”, a shameful act of “Israel-bashing” and a “new form of anti-Semitism.”

So what, I wonder, does that make Ben Gurion? Dishonest or despicable? How about Yitzhak Rabin, who told a TV journalist in 1976 during the first of his two terms as Israel’s prime minister, “I don’t think it’s possible to contain over the long term, if we don’t want to get to apartheid, a million and a half [more] Arabs inside a Jewish state”? Was he also engaged in a smear campaign against the nation he led?

In recent years, two more former Israeli premiers, Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, have echoed their illustrious predecessors’ warnings. Olmert has predicted that “if the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then the State of Israel is finished” while Barak has declared that “if this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

Are they Israel bashers, too?

Meanwhile, several high-profile Israelis have suggested that apartheid is not a future risk but a present reality, including former education minister Shulamit Aloni (“Israel practises its own, quite violent, form of apartheid with the native Palestinian population”), former environment minister Yossi Sarid (“what acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck — it is apartheid”) and former attorney general Michael Ben-Yair (“we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories”).

Others have gone even further, recognizing that Israel is in complete control between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and extending the apartheid analogy from the occupied West Bank and Gaza to inside the Green Line, to what’s considered Israel proper. Former Foreign Ministry chief Alon Liel, who also served as ambassador to South Africa, has said that “until a Palestinian state is created, we are actually one state. This joint state…is an apartheid state.”

Are we expected to dismiss all of these former Israeli officials as Israel-haters?

An apartheid notice on a beach near Capetown, South Africa, denoting the area for whites only.

Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

And what shall we do with the testimonies of prominent South Africans who defeated apartheid at home — only to be horrified by what they then witnessed in the occupied territories? “I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land,” wrote the Nobel Peace Price-winning bishop Desmond Tutu in 2002. “It reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.” A range of senior officials from the African National Congress have backed Tutu’s comparison, including former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe (“the current situation… is worse than conditions were for blacks under the apartheid regime”), current speaker of the South African parliament Baleka Mbete (“far worse than apartheid”) and former South African intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils (“the Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic”).

Are we expected to believe that all of these veterans of the South African anti-apartheid struggle have lost their minds? Are we supposed to denounce them as anti-Semites?

Then there is international law. What is often left unsaid in much of the debate over Israel and the A-word is that one can legitimately debate whether, or to what extent, modern Israel resembles apartheid-era South Africa. In the occupied West Bank, with its “separate and unequal” road networks, water systems and housing policies, and where Israeli settlers are bound by Israeli civil law while Palestinians are judged according to Israeli military law, it seems an open and shut case. Inside the Green Line, where Palestinian citizens of Israel have the right to vote and stand for parliament and where Arabic is an official language it is, admittedly, less clear-cut. However, human rights groups like Adalah point to more than 50 different laws or bills in Israel that privilege Jews over Arabs or discriminate in favor of Jews in areas such as housing, education and family reunification.

A concrete wall separates Palestinian and Israeli traffic on a highway near the West Bank city of Ramalla, in 2007.

Photo: Abbas Monmani/AFP/Getty Images

Yet under international law, apartheid is a specific crime with specific definitions, independent of the South African experience. The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid widened the definition of apartheid to “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa” and applied it to “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group,” including the denial of free movement and the expropriation of land.

Four years after the collapse of the Afrikaner regime in South Africa, the 1998 Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC), defined apartheid as “inhumane acts…committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

From a strictly legal perspective, therefore, whether or not Israel is identical to, or even resembles, apartheid-era South Africa is, frankly, irrelevant. The only issue that matters is whether Israel is in violation of international law. In 2009, a team of academics and lawyers commissioned by South Africa’s statutory research agency concluded that Israel maintains “a system of domination by Jews over Palestinians” and “this system constitutes a breach of the prohibition of apartheid.” In 2013, another study co-authored by international law professor and former UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, John Dugard, found “Israeli practices in the occupied territory are… in breach of the legal prohibition of apartheid.”

Back in 1967, Goodman understood in a flash what Ben Gurion was trying to say. Today, defenders of the Jewish state refuse to understand the warnings of former Israeli prime ministers, the condemnations of South African anti-apartheid activists, and the clear strictures of international law. For Palestinians, however, this is far from an academic issue or a mere debating point. For fifty years they have been the victims of discrimination, segregation and oppression. How much more do they have to endure?

Top photo: Palestinian laborers wait to cross an Israeli checkpoint as they return to their homes after a day’s work in the Jewish state in 2010 near the village of Ni’ilin in the West Bank.

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Intercepted Podcast: Could Trump Start World War III?

22 March 2017 - 6:01am

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Donald Trump has not started any new wars… yet. But his administration is pouring gasoline on several initiated by his predecessors. This week on Intercepted: There are U.S. boots on the ground in Syria — now including conventional military forces—and more are reportedly on the way. Trump has eased restrictions on the killing of civilians and is pummeling Yemen with drone strikes. Combined with the presence of radical ideologues in the White House and the involvement of the powerful militaries of Iran and Russia in the same battlespaces as the US, Trump could take the world to the brink of the unthinkable. We speak with veteran wear correspondents Anand Gopal and Iona Craig, both of whom have been on the ground in US wars under Trump. Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald talks about FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on Capitol Hill, the threats to jail journalists and reveals new evidence debunking one of the most insidious lies told about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Also, did you know that the NSA has its own classified, internal newspaper? Actor William Camp stars in the real life story of the spy whose secret column made him “the Socrates of the NSA.”

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Em sintonia com Temer, Maia adianta votação de projeto sobre terceirização para todas as atividades

21 March 2017 - 6:08pm

Em uma manobra que deixaria até o ex-deputado Eduardo Cunha (PMDB/RJ) boquiaberto, o presidente da Câmara dos Deputados, Rodrigo Maia (DEM/RJ), quer votar um projeto de lei que regulamenta o trabalho terceirizado que tramita no Congresso desde o governo Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995 – 2002). Segundo o texto do PL 4302, apresentado em 1998 pelo Planalto, seria permitida a contratação de funcionários terceirizados inclusive para as atividades-fins da empresa.

Hoje, a súmula 331 do Tribunal Superior do Trabalho (TST) limita a terceirização apenas às “atividades-meio”, que são aquelas que não são relacionadas diretamente com o ramo de atividade da empresa. Por exemplo, os serviços de limpeza ou segurança seriam atividades-meio de uma indústria alimentícia e, portanto, poderiam ser feitos por empresas terceirizadas.

A polêmica agora é que, em 2015, a Câmara aprovou uma proposta que trata do mesmo assunto do PL de FHC, mas que ainda precisa ser votada pelo Senado, onde a relatoria está com o senador Paulo Paim (PT/RS). Na época da votação na Câmara, uma emenda de autoria do PMDB e do partido Solidariedade, sem usar os termos atividade-fim ou atividade-meio, incluiu no texto a possibilidade de terceirização de qualquer setor de uma empresa. No entanto, os senadores articulavam ampliar a discussão na Casa, mas foram surpreendidos nesta terça-feira (21) com a inclusão do projeto antigo na pauta da Câmara. A votação está prevista para ocorrer nesta quarta-feira (22).

O texto enviado por FHC chegou a ser aprovado pelo Senado em 2002 e estava adormecido nas gavetas da Comissão de Constituição e Justiça (CCJ) da Câmara desde 2003. Caso o PL 4302 seja aprovado agora pelos deputados sem alterações no texto, como esperam Maia e o Planalto, ele seguirá direto para a sanção do presidente Michel Temer e já começará a valer. Se for feita alguma alteração na Câmara, o projeto retorna para nova análise do Senado.

Manobra repercute no Senado

O senador Paulo Paim classificou a decisão de Maia de votar o projeto antigo de “malandragem”. “O eixo do projeto da terceirização de 1998 se resume simplesmente na destruição de tudo que construímos e que foi alcançado pelos trabalhadores brasileiros nos últimos cem anos de lutas”, disse o senador ao The Intercept Brasil.

Paim avalia que, caso o projeto da Câmara seja aprovado, o número de trabalhadores em situação precária vai aumentar. “Tínhamos um acordo, para que o projeto da terceirização que está lá na Câmara não fosse votado. Infelizmente, o acordo foi quebrado. Como é que um projeto de 1998 vai se sobrepor a um projeto que a Câmara votou há um ano atrás? Vamos trabalhar para aprovar o substitutivo que construí no Senado com todas as entidades sindicais. No meu relatório proíbo a terceirização na atividade-fim e amplio a todos os terceirizados os direitos assegurados na lei” afirmou o parlamentar.

Para o Coletivo por um Ministério Público Transformador, associação formada por membros do Ministério Público dos Estados e da União, a terceirização em discussão na Câmara dificultaria a fiscalização das condições de trabalho em órgãos públicos. “Também permitiria às empresas reduzir artificialmente seus quadros de empregados para não se submeter à obrigação legal de contratação de cotas de aprendizes (CLT, art. 429) e de pessoas com deficiência (Lei 8.213/90), reduzindo o espaço para o aperfeiçoamento profissional dos jovens e para a inclusão social dos trabalhadores mais vulneráveis” disse a associação por meio de nota.

A trama

Conforme é possível constatar na tramitação do projeto disponível no site da Câmara, em novembro de 2015, o deputado Laercio Oliveira (Solidariedade/SE) foi designado o novo relator do projeto. Em dezembro de 2016, Laércio apresentou um novo parecer, agora deixando claro que a terceirização pode ocorrer tanto nas atividades-meio quanto nas atividades-fim, em contradição com a súmula 331 do TST. Veja abaixo trecho do documento:

Nesta terça-feira, 21, cerca de 500 manifestantes ligados à Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) reuniram em frente ao Congresso Nacional para protestar contra o projeto. Representante da entidade, Wagner Freitas convocou a militância para uma vigília em defesa dos direitos dos trabalhadores: “Ficaremos aqui até que esse projeto seja retirado de pauta. Não podemos permitir que sejam retirados direitos e garantias essenciais do trabalhador”, disse.

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