The Intercept

Silicon Valley and Hollywood Lobby Against Gender Pay Gap Transparency

12 October 2017 - 5:49pm

Lobbyists representing leading companies in the Silicon Valley and Hollywood have placed tremendous pressure to defeat legislation designed to shine a spotlight onto wage disparities by gender at California companies.

Gov. Jerry Brown is currently deciding the fate of AB 1209, a bill passed by both chambers of the legislature that requires large firms with 500 or more employees in the state to file reports with the secretary of state detailing the gender pay gap for people working in the same position.

Brown has until Sunday to sign or veto the legislation. If he takes no action, the bill becomes law without his signature.

What companies are pressing Brown to kill the bill? It’s a Sacramento mystery.

A number of business trade associations, including the Motion Picture Association of America, TechNet, and Computing Technology Industry Association, have been lobbying the governor. Those three groups represent the largest movie production studios and technology firms in the state, but when advocating on issues of public policy, they are not required to disclose the firms for whom they are lobbying.

The groups did not respond to requests for comment regarding which member companies asked them to push against AB 1209.

The trio last month signed a letter claiming that the proposal would create an unfair image of employers by failing to take into account jobs that are based on commission, where pay differentials may account for performance rather than any form of gender discrimination. They have urged elected officials to oppose the legislation.

“Public display of the data adds insult to injury. Employers would be required to provide statistics on job duties, wages and gender, but without the factors such as experience and seniority that the law says are legitimate reasons for wage gaps,” Kara Bush of CompTIA wrote in a column co-authored with the California Chamber of Commerce, denouncing the bill.

At the Assembly hearing to discuss the bill, another CompTIA lobbyist, Chris McHill, testified in opposition, claiming that AB 1209 would simply create new “avenues for enterprising plaintiffs lawyers to go and sue those individual companies.”

Members of CompTIA include Google, Apple, Ingram Micro, and other companies that may be forced to report gender pay data under the law.

Lobbying disclosures show that Google, which has faced mounting questions over its own gender pay gap, lobbied on the legislation, although it is not clear what position the technology giant took. Google’s primary Sacramento lobbying firm, KP Public Affairs, engaged on AB 1209 sometime between April and June, as the bill made its way through committee, according to the disclosures.

Asked by The Intercept if Google supports or opposes the legislation, a company spokesperson declined to answer. He later contacted us to say that Google “never instructed any firms to lobby on this to the legislature, governor or anywhere else.” KP Public Affairs, the spokesperson added, “[was] at meetings where it was discussed, among other topics, so we disclosed it.”

Google has many reasons to be wary of further scrutiny over its compensation practices.

The firm waged a legal battle against the Department of Labor over an audit designed to determine whether the company complied with equal pay laws.

In September, the New York Times obtained a spreadsheet from Google that contained salary and bonus information. While the data do not provide a full view of Google salaries, the spreadsheet appears to show that women are paid less than men for the same entry level and mid-level positions.

Also last month, three former Google employees filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that the firm engaged in widespread gender discrimination.

James Finberg, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the suit, said he wouldn’t be surprised if firms like Google are lobbying against pay gap transparency efforts. Finberg noted that the Department of Labor audit already found statistically significant pay disparities for women across the board. “So to the extent that that’s reported publicly, it’s embarrassing for Google,” he said.

Top photo: The Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on Sept. 2, 2011.

The post Silicon Valley and Hollywood Lobby Against Gender Pay Gap Transparency appeared first on The Intercept.

Minneapolis Mayoral Candidate’s Personal Experience With Criminal Justice System Inspires Platform for Reform

12 October 2017 - 3:01pm

Ever since a wave of activism placed the national spotlight on police violence and the problems plaguing the criminal justice system, several candidates for public office across the country have campaigned on promises for reform. They have called for independent investigations into police-involved shootings and training in de-escalation, and they have promised to change minimum mandatory sentencing schemes and address the factors that lead to mass incarceration, which disproportionally impacts people of color.

Minnesota state Rep. Raymond Dehn, the frontrunner in the Minneapolis mayor’s race, is one of those candidates. But to him, criminal justice reform is a personal issue, and one that goes way back.

The mayoral candidate was convicted of armed burglary as a teenager in the 1970s, an experience he says inspired his entry into politics decades later. In 2012, he was elected to the Minnesota state legislature, where he is known for his work on behalf of felons. He led the push for a 2014 “Ban the Box” law that expanded a prohibition on requiring job applicants to answer questions about their criminal histories to include private employers.

Dehn announced his candidacy last December, and he made his mark on the field this summer by winning more support than incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges at the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party’s nominating convention. Although no mayoral candidate won the official endorsement, Dehn emerging at the front of the pack made clear he was a serious contender.

In an interview with The Intercept, Dehn described how his brush with the law led him to believe in redemption and criminal justice reform, themes that are central to his work in public office.

“I grew up in a real traumatic situation, there was some abuse in my family, some alcoholism. … In the end it was that addiction that led me to committing a crime to supply my habit,” Dehn said, explaining his circumstances at the time he burglarized a home.

When police arrived to arrest Dehn, who was 19 years old at the time, he was hiding in a closet. “I’ll never forget having three or four officers reach in, with guns pointing at my head as I came out of the closet,” Dehn recalled.

After a few rocky years, Dehn decided to get his life back on track and in 1982 he applied for — and received — a pardon for his crime from then-Minnesota Gov. Al Quie. Nearly a decade later, Dehn enrolled at the University of Minnesota to study architecture and move on with his life, which he said was made easier by the era he lived in. “My crime was also committed before the days of the internet, so as far public record out there … it just really didn’t exist,” he explained.

He started getting active in community organizations and in 2009 attended a conference in Oakland, where radical activist Angela Davis spoke about criminal justice. Davis asked everyone in the room who had been incarcerated to stand.

“I stood up and that was sort of the changing point in my life,” Dehn said. “I figured out that, you know, I had benefited from an unfair system, and I decided then to dedicate my life to try to dismantle that system.”

U.S. political activist Angela Davis leaves the “Centro Penitenciario de Logrono” prison on Feb. 7, 2016, in the northern Spanish city of Logroño. Davis has been a leading activist in discussions on mass incarceration for decades.

Photo: Ander Gillenea/AFP/Getty Images

Dehn pivoted to politics and was elected to represent Minnesota’s House District 59B five years ago. He was re-elected in 2014 and again last year. To remind himself of his good fortune, Dehn keeps his grant of clemency on a wall in his office in the statehouse.

The mayoral race is nonpartisan, and Minneapolis is one of few major cities in America that uses ranked-choice voting — where voters rank candidates instead of voting for just one of them. If no candidate is the first choice for a majority of voters, then all votes cast for the candidate with the fewest votes are redistributed to the remaining candidates based on who is ranked next on each ballot. This process essentially eliminates the concept of a “wasted vote” and can lead to unpredictable outcomes.

The preferential voting system also means that candidates generally shy away from the negative campaigning that is a mainstay of many other mayoral races because they want to get the second- and third-preference votes from people backing their opponents.

“It has been a bit more collegial than if we didn’t have ranked-choice voting,” Dehn told The Intercept, noting that the race thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. He does, however, expect to see more attack ads as the November 7 election nears. “We know that in the final two weeks, we’re going to see a lot of independent expenditure money. It’s going to be attacking pretty much all the frontrunners in the race.”

That’s not to say that all of Dehn’s proposals so far have been well-received. When the issue of police reform surged to the forefront of the mayoral race in July, after a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed an unarmed woman, Dehn proposed that police be disarmed, suggesting that, for example, some officers keep guns in their cars but not wear them all the time. The local police union was furious.

“I don’t think the people in Minneapolis are logically ready for anything like this,” Lt. Bob Kroll told local reporters at the time. “Who would ever do the job of policing again? It’s absolutely an absurd thought.” Several other mayoral candidates also said they believed Dehn’s proposal was a step too far.

Hodges, too, took a swipe at Dehn, implying his idea was naive. “If we are going to talk about changes in gun policy, we shouldn’t start with police officers, who are going to be operating in a world with people who have guns,” Hodges said.

Dehn remains adamant that there should be a conversation about the circumstances in which weapons are necessary, stressing that he does not think police should be disarmed at all times.

“I think there are some interactions that officers have with people in the community that they don’t have to carry guns,” he explained to The Intercept. “The controversy is in many ways how many people took that. Did I say that cops should never carry guns? I’ve never said that. And I also know that in the end to change real policy about officers and use of force you have to push a conversation that I think can be difficult for some people, I think in the end if people aren’t ready to have this conversation right now we’ve got a long long ways to go to talk about policing in our community.”

Dehn’s campaign against the incumbent Hodges and the other challengers hinges on the question of whether Minneapolis is on the right path or is in need of a big change. He believes the latter is true. Hodges, however, uses the “Strong and Stable” catchphrase reminiscent of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s campaign slogan, and labels her approach as “deliberate, intentional leadership.” Her platform page points to achievements such as passing a sick-time ordinance in 2016 and her work “transforming police-community relations.”

Her opponents, Dehn among them, point to a city that like many others is increasingly difficult to afford to live in. While Hodges points to $40 million spent on affordable housing programs over the past three years, Dehn counters by pointing out that the median income for African-Americans in the city — $14,951 — makes housing in most of the city unaffordable for them.

Dehn has proposed changing the status quo on affordable housing by lowering the cost of future affordable units from 50 percent of area median income to 30 percent.

His platform is heavily focused on inequality. In addition to a host of criminal justice reform ideas, he is proposing that Minneapolis start using participatory budgeting, something the city has been experimenting with on a small scale. This cutting-edge policy — which allows neighborhoods and residents to take control of a portion of city finances and directly decide how they are spent — has been used in a handful of cities in the world with some success.

He views participatory budgeting as a way to increase citizen engagement, especially among people who aren’t politically active.

“If you’re not bringing in individuals who generally have been left out of our process, we’re going to keep doing the same things that we’ve been doing,” he said. “For me, it’s that idea of how do we make space for people to actually engage, and then how do we make it valuable for them in that process in that engagement?”

Dehn’s inequality-focused campaign has attracted a strong stable of supporters from Minneapolis’s minority community. His communications director, Akhi Menawat, told The Intercept that a majority of Dehn’s paid campaign staff are nonwhite and their average age is 24.

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, the candidate’s colleague in the state House and the first Somali-American Muslim woman ever elected to a state legislature in the country, has endorsed Dehn.

Proud to be on #TeamDehn! @raymonddehn

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 9, 2017

In an interview with The Intercept, Omar explained that she decided to endorse Dehn over Hodges and the other challengers because of his intersectional approach to issues.

“I believe that our next mayor for the city of Minneapolis needs to understand intersectionality, that’s really big in my book — understanding the connections between how housing and policing and mental health issues and how all of these things are all connected,” she told The Intercept.

She cited Dehn’s prior felony as something that gives him insight into the ills of the criminal justice system.

“As a resident of North Minneapolis, someone who comes from the history of having a record himself, he sees how criminalizing people leads to lack of opportunities,” she concluded.

The mayoral hopeful’s people-first platform has also earned him the support of Our Revolution, a group formed out of the remnants of the Bernie Sanders campaign, which endorsed him in July. “Now is the time for serious reform in Minneapolis. Raymond Dehn has the platform and vision to create a Minneapolis where every family can feel safe and have a good home and livable wage,” Our Revolution President Nina Turner said in a statement. And while Dehn has butted heads with police unions, he has earned the backing of a different form of organized labor: the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Our Revolution Twin Cities and the nurses’ union are also backing a much more radical candidate to join the city council. Ginger Jentzen, who is running on the Socialist Alternative ballot line in Ward 3, was one of the lead organizers behind a successful push to pass a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis. She is refusing to take any money from corporate developers and is campaigning heavily around expanding public housing.

Top photo: Minneapolis mayoral candidate Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minn., speaks to delegates on Saturday, July 8, 2017, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis.

The post Minneapolis Mayoral Candidate’s Personal Experience With Criminal Justice System Inspires Platform for Reform appeared first on The Intercept.

How Catalonia Pulled Off Its Independence Vote from Spain Using “Pizza” Code Words and Secret Schemes

12 October 2017 - 1:13pm

I arrived at the polling station on the night before Catalonia was set to vote in a contested referendum on the region’s independence from Spain. A Spanish court had declared the referendum illegal, and Madrid had sent thousands of riot police to Catalonia to shut down the vote. By midnight, workers at the polling station closed the building’s corrugated metal gate and sealed us in until morning, or until the police arrived. Inside, we waited for whichever came first.

The vote was organized in secret. The organizers spoke and texted in code: In this polling station — a community center in Barcelona, called Foment Martinenc — and others in the area, ballot boxes were called pizzas and the ballots, napkins. The government representative who officially opened the voting center was called “la pizzera”the pizza maker. The organizers who drove from polling station to polling station, to make sure each center had enough pizza and napkins, were called Telepizzas, after a cheap pizza delivery chain. Central Barcelona was divided among five Telepizzas.

When Catalonia voted on Sunday, October 1, ordinary voters in polling centers across the region used unconventional tactics to organize a referendum in the face of a heavy crackdown from the central Spanish government. It was a day of tension and drama, as Catalans voted for succession by 90 percent (though most “no” voters abstained), and Spanish police reacted with force. This week, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said he had the mandate to declare independence for the region and signed a declaration doing so — but soon after he suspended the effects of the referendum in favor of dialogue with Spanish authorities.

The October 1 clashes drew international attention to the referendum. But Catalan citizens had been preparing this vote for months.

The weekend before the referendum, police in Catalonia were given an order to shut down spaces to be used as polling stations. In response, ordinary citizens began occupying places like Foment Martinenc to keep them open. At another nearby polling station in Barcelona, an elementary school, organizers spontaneously held a weekend full of events and invited residents to camp out at the school. In a nearby city, voters organized a weekend-long tournament of rock-paper-scissors, advising participants that it might last a while, and to bring camping gear. Others were more direct, calling for a “territorial defense” of voting centers. Whether subtle, absurd or explicit, the idea was clear, said Lluís Rotger, an organizer at Foment Martinenc: “any activity to keep the polling stations open.”

Ballots and ballot-boxes were targets for Spanish police in the lead-up to the vote. Police raided Catalan media, print shops and other businesses in search of voting materials, seizing millions of ballots and hundreds of ballot boxes in each bust. After the initial seizures, the Catalan government ordered new ballot boxes from China to be delivered to a city in southern France, where ballots were being printed. Activists then drove the voting materials across the border into Spain and hid them however possible.

“People hid the material in their houses, cars, underground — it was up to their imagination,” Rotger told me. He explained that, among organizers, information about the vote was given out on a need-to-know basis. “Even the ballot boxes,” he said, “I didn’t know who had them, nor when they would arrive.”

Foment Martinenc is in a quaint residential neighborhood just outside the center of Barcelona. On the morning of the vote, the center was buzzing with activity. Poll workers opened the metal gate at 5 a.m., and a large crowd of people had already gathered outside. It was still dark out, and it was raining. The police were due to begin evicting polling stations one hour later, and organizers were rushing to prepare the space.

But where were the ballot boxes? Another organizer at Foment, Daniel Rofín, said he had no idea. Because the referendum organization was so secretive, Rofín explained, neither did anyone else at the polling station.

Soon there was a commotion outside, and a small sedan pulled up to the entrance of Foment. The crowd outside parted to make a path to the door. Two women opened the car’s trunk and pulled out four large masses wrapped in black trash bags, and shuttled them inside. Both women quickly got back in their car and sped away. The pizzas had arrived.

Two people bring in ballot boxes as crowds gather outside Escola Industrial of Barcelona school on Oct. 1, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.

Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The organizers of the referendum in Catalonia had the odds stacked against them from the beginning. As they laid plans for a vote, a Spanish court declared it unconstitutional and ordered police to seize voting materials. Soon after, Spanish military police arrested 14 Catalan government employees, effectively decapitating the official organization of the vote. After the arrests, Spanish press ran with headlines that the referendum had been “disassembled” and “neutralized,” and that “democracy had been restored in Catalonia.”

But the preparations continued, and so did the crackdown. Police blocked 140 pro-referendum websites and prohibited the national post office from mailing any election materials. The weekend of the referendum, three-fourths of all Spanish riot police were in Catalonia. The night before the vote was to take place, Spanish military police raided the Catalan government’s data and digital communications hub. Their objective was to take offline the Catalan census and voting rolls, as well as the webpages for the voting centers. That night, a government spokesperson in Madrid announced that the referendum had been “nullified.”

And yet, on October 1, Catalonia held a referendum. The vote was plagued with technical and logistical issues and boycotted by a large segment of the population, but many others were able to cast a vote. People waited in line for hours to do so while Spanish police went from location to location in a brutal operation that injured over 800 voters and closed nearly 100 voting centers. Social networks were saturated with photos and videos of police wielding nightsticks at unarmed protestors and of bloodied faces outside public schools, and then of police walking away with voting materials.

At Foment Martinenc, after a few technical hiccups, voting started around 10:30 a.m. and lasted until the night. Poll workers made sure to keep a large group of people outside the voting center throughout the day, made up of those who had already voted, or those still waiting to do so.

“The idea was to always have people outside protecting the door,” Rotger explained. “Whenever we thought Policía Nacional or Guardia Civil might come, all the old people and kids were brought inside.”

“The first people they’re going to beat are the ones outside,” he added.

The organizers at Foment had different plans in case the police showed up. They had found hiding places for the ballot boxes inside the community center. Another plan was to smuggle the ballot boxes out of Foment in trash bags and to hide them in a nearby shop. Rotger says that he even brought a large hiking backpack with him. If the other options didn’t work, he planned to just grab the votes and run.

Such schemes were enacted all over Catalonia. In one town, activists hid the ballot boxes and started playing dominos when police arrived. In another, the vote recount was held in a church during mass.

At Tomás Moro, a school in the outskirts of Barcelona, poll workers hid the real ballot boxes and used two ballot boxes full of blank paper as decoys for the police to take.

“The police came with six vans and broke open the two doors [to the school] with crowbars and hammers,” recalled Anna Sajurjo, one of the poll workers present. “They took the two ballot boxes that were on the tables, full of blank votes.” Once the police left, Sajurjo added, voting resumed at Tomás Moro.

Even Puigdemont, the Catalan president, had to trick the Spanish police in order to vote. A helicopter from the military police was following his convoy of cars as he went to vote. Reports later surfaced that the convoy stopped under a bridge so the president could switch cars and go cast his ballot in another town, without alerting the police that were hovering above.

The Spanish police never showed up at Foment Martinenc, though there were regular visits from the Catalan police, called the Mossos d’Esquadra. Early in the morning, two Mossos officers walked towards the community center, one holding a document in his hand. As the police approached, the crowd linked arms and began shouting “you will not pass.” After a few seconds, the police turned around and walked away. The Mossos would repeat this exercise once every two hours throughout the day.

Josep Lluís Trapero, head of the Mossos d’Esquadra, had ordered police to evict voting centers, following the court order, but told them not to use violence and not to not disturb public order – in contrast to the behavior of the Spanish forces. After the referendum, politicians in Madrid were quick to criticize the Mossos for not acting more aggressively, and a Spanish court has said publicly that it is investigating Trapero for sedition.

Daan Everts, a former Dutch ambassador who has monitored over two dozen elections around the world, said that “the use of force displayed by the Spanish police has no place in established democracies.” Everts, who brought a team of 20 observers with him to Catalonia in September, said he has never seen anything like this month’s referendum.

“It has been exceptional in all aspects,” he said. “There was very active prevention, prohibition from the Spanish government, so nothing was normal.”

Sitting in his temporary office in a posh neighborhood in Barcelona, Everts rattled off a laundry list of technical issues with the vote. The Catalan election commission worked in secrecy. There was little transparency in the voting protocols. Poll centers were intermittently open and closed due to technical issues, and most were missing some essential voting materials at points throughout the day.

In one-quarter of the polling stations visited, Everts said, voting had to be stopped temporarily so poll workers could hide voting materials from the police.

Still, Everts was quick to add what his team of observers didn’t see: evidence of vote fraud, in the form of ballot stuffing, doctoring vote counts, and other efforts to tip the final result. But because of opposition from the Spanish government, he said, “It was very messy by definition.”

People celebrate after the closing of polling stations outside the “Espai Jove La Fontana” (La Fontana youth center) on Oct. 1, 2017 in Barcelona. Spanish riot police stormed voting stations as they moved to stop Catalonia’s independence referendum, and least 92 people were confirmed injured as hundreds tried to prevent the polling stations from being closed.

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images

After spending most of the day of the vote at Foment Martinenc, I decided to go visit other polling stations in the neighborhood. It was around 7 p.m., one hour before the polls were officially supposed to close.

There were around two hundred people gathered outside another nearby polling center when David Fernandez, a former local politician from a far left separatist party in Catalonia, came outside. The crowd cheered. “We have to defend the votes, and we need you to help. Let’s go for a walk. Don’t ask questions,” Fernandez told the group, who all seemed to instantly understand what was about to happen.

A line of people then exited the school, carrying multiple ballot boxes among them. The crowd massed around them, and began chanting protest slogans as they walked. As people on the balconies above us started filming and taking photos, chants of “we voted” and “the streets will always be ours” slowly changed to one unified chant of “don’t film!” The crowd seemed to know how exposed they were.

This was the fourth escape plan among the polling stations in the area, Rotger, the poll worker at Foment Martinenc, explained. One of the stations was on a narrow pedestrian street and had only one entrance. Poll workers all assumed that the Spanish police would raid while they were counting votes, and decided to stop voting an hour early and move all of the ballot boxes to the most protected polling station. As polling workers carried the last boxes into the voting center to be counted, a large crowd swarmed in front of the door, blocking the entrance. The riot police never showed up.

The contested vote set off a week of protests. The day after the referendum, people clogged the street outside the headquarters for the Spanish police in downtown Barcelona. Flag-wielding separatists squared up against Spanish riot police with shields and tear gas cannons, until local police came to diffuse the situation. The next day, Catalan labor unions called a general strike, and for a day the streets of every Catalan city were packed with people protesting police violence. The following weekend, 350,000 Spanish nationalists filled the streets of Barcelona, many having bussed in from all over Spain. While most separatist demonstrators have been peaceful, even in the face of Spanish police provocation, the nationalist march was marked by violent clashes with bystanders and the occasional fascist flag and Nazi salute.

The tone of the protests was a far cry from the scene at Foment Martinenc on the eve of the referendum. There, there were no flags and no talk of political parties. The center was filled with Catalans of all political stripes; people seemed more concerned with their ability to vote than what would happen afterwards. Yet as we waited, a few people watched videos that had been shared on social media days earlier, of military police leaving from cities all over Spain to come stop the vote in Catalonia. In the videos, crowds had gathered to see the police off, waving Spanish flags and chanting “go get them!”

A few of those watching, in a moment of introspection, wondered out loud when it had become about “us” and “them.” The chanting crowds in the video seemed a harbinger of the clashes that were to come.

Top photo: People rest inside a would-be polling station at a school in Barcelona, on Oct. 1, 2017, to prevent the police from sealing it off in a referendum on independence for Catalonia banned by Madrid.

The post How Catalonia Pulled Off Its Independence Vote from Spain Using “Pizza” Code Words and Secret Schemes appeared first on The Intercept.

A Federal Judge Upheld Joe Arpaio’s Pardon, But the Legal Challenge Isn’t Over Yet

12 October 2017 - 12:40pm

Although a federal district judge last week dismissed the criminal case against former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was pardoned by President Donald Trump, lawyers who challenged the constitutionality of the pardon say the fight is far from over.

“I don’t think that the decision by the judge in the criminal case is the end of the story,” said Ron Fein, legal director at Free Speech for People, one of the groups challenging the constitutionality of the pardon. “There is a viable challenge that could be launched, and we are actively exploring this on the same grounds that we mentioned in our friend of the court brief and be able to expand on it.”

As The Intercept previously reported, Free Speech for People is one of a number of groups that filed friend-of-the-court briefs in Arpaio’s criminal case to argue that Trump’s pardon was unconstitutional. The basis of their objection was that the pardon power is not absolute, and it does not allow the president to pardon an elected official for ignoring a court order to stop violating people’s constitutional rights, as the former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff did.

Now, Fein told The Intercept, the group is considering civil litigation on behalf of people whose rights were threatened as a result of Arpaio’s violation of the court order. Wanting to protect his legal strategy, Fein declined to share much about what the suit would entail.

“I think the basic argument is that the pardon violates the due process rights clause and constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws, and I don’t want to expand further on that,” Fein said.

Trump in August pardoned Arpaio for his July conviction for criminal contempt of court for what U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton called a “flagrant disregard” of a court order to stop his office’s unconstitutional practice of racial profiling. Bolton upheld Trump’s controversial pardon last week, dismissing the criminal contempt case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be tried again. She did not yet, however, rule on Arpaio’s request to throw out all the orders in the case. In other words, Arpaio wants the entire record cleared.

The Department of Justice, which had been prosecuting the case, adopted Arpaio’s position and agreed that the case should be dismissed and his record cleared. Ironically, the Justice Department’s website makes clear that a pardon cannot erase a conviction.

“Please also be aware that if you were to be granted a presidential pardon, the pardoned offense would not be removed from your criminal record,” a Justice Department page with frequently asked questions about presidential pardons reads.

In separate amicus briefs filed by legal groups and more than 30 House Democrats last month, the amici argued that even if the pardon were to stand, Bolton should not grant Arpaio’s request to vacate the rulings in his criminal case.

Once Bolton issues her final ruling, either side may choose to file an appeal. The fact that the Justice Department has sided with Arpaio complicates things, because it means the parties are not adversarial. The judge, however, may choose to appoint a private attorney to investigate and decide whether to appeal Bolton’s ruling. In fact, the federal rules of criminal procedure require the court to appoint private counsel to prosecute a contempt case, including an appeal, when the government declines to do so.

The reason is to maintain the separation of powers, said Ian Bassin, executive director of Protect Democracy, one of the amici that challenged the pardon, and former associate White House counsel to President Barack Obama.

“If the courts had to rely on the executive branch every time the court found someone in criminal contempt of court, the court would be subservient to the executive branch,” Bassin told The Intercept.

Although Bolton declined the amici’s request to appoint private counsel at the trial level, it’s not too late.

“Private counsel would essentially assume the role of the U.S. attorney for the purposes of the appeal,” said Brad Miller, a former North Carolina congressman and the author of a brief on behalf of nearly three dozen House Democrats challenging the pardon. “They would argue against the defendant’s motion — Arpaio’s motion to vacate the findings at the trial court level — and could have standing to file a notice of appeal to dispute the constitutionality of the pardon altogether. Judge Bolton did not rule our way on that, but she treated our constitutional concerns as serious, which they are.”

The Department of Justice is “exceedingly unlikely to advocate for the position we think a private attorney would be at least willing to consider,” Fein said. A private attorney would have the ability to file an appeal with the 9th Circuit, which is essential, the lawyers say, given the novelty of the circumstances surrounding Arpaio’s pardon.

“The consequence of this pardon, if it’s allowed to stand, is that courts would be deprived of power and be at the whim of the president to enforce our constitutional rights,” Bassin said. “A case of first impression cannot die at the district court level; that’s what appellate courts are for.”

Some House Democrats will likely join any subsequent challenge to the pardon, Miller said. “I fully expect if the issue goes up on appeal that all members who appeared as amici would also be willing to put their names on a brief that makes the same arguments to the 9th Circuit,” Miller said.

Top photo: Inmates walk as they are moved after being ordered by Maricopa County Sheriff Officer Joe Arpaio, right, looking on, to be placed into new housing to open up new beds for maximum security inmates on April 17, 2009 in Phoenix.

The post A Federal Judge Upheld Joe Arpaio’s Pardon, But the Legal Challenge Isn’t Over Yet appeared first on The Intercept.

Before Charlottesville Was in the Spotlight, Police Arrested Their Most Prominent Critic in the Middle of the Night

12 October 2017 - 10:59am

Jeff Fogel woke to the sound of someone furiously banging on his door. He quickly threw on a T-shirt and pajama bottoms while the banging continued, and stole a glance at his alarm clock before running downstairs. It was 12:30 a.m. in Charlottesville, Virginia.

When Fogel opened the door, he couldn’t believe what he saw. He was face-to-face with five police officers on his front porch and behind them, five police cars lit up the neighboring houses red and blue with their flashing lights.

As one of the city’s leading defense attorneys, Fogel was on a first-name basis with a lot of Charlottesville’s top cops, but he was confused about why they would seek him out so late. As a joke, Fogel put out his hands, wrists pressed together in a handcuff position. “Haha. You’re all here to arrest me, right?”

It wasn’t a joke. “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” he half-shouted.

The commotion woke up Fogel’s wife and houseguest, who both made their way downstairs. Fogel turned around and shouted, “Hey everybody, come down and see the brave men of the Charlottesville police department, coming to arrest a 72-year-old man!”

The officers wouldn’t allow Fogel to get his keys or get dressed. Minutes later, as he sat in the back seat of a police car, Fogel realized that throughout his 48-year career as a civil rights attorney, he never understood how much it hurt to be handcuffed. He also realized the arrest would have reverberations. It was early June, and in less than two weeks, voters in Charlottesville would go to the polls to decide on the city’s next district attorney, with one of the candidates vowing to rein in police abuse and roll back mass incarceration. That candidate was now bound for the police station.

Full-on fighting occurred in front of the Charlottesville Police Station. All the officers stood by and watched, never arresting or stopping the violence throughout the entire day. On Saturday, August 12, 2017, a veritable who’s who of white supremacist groups clashed with hundreds of counter-protesters during the “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Photo: Michael Nigro/Sipa/AP

Two months later, Charlottesville became ground zero for the largest demonstration by white supremacists in a decade. The world was shocked by images of young men marching with tiki torches, chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” and President Donald Trump’s contemptible response to their hateful message.

But something else also shocked observers of the August demonstrations. The police appeared uninterested in stopping violence between white supremacists, many of whom came armed, and rival demonstrators. As the day wound down, Heather Heyer, an antiracist demonstrator, was mowed down by a allegedly car driven by white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr.

Charlottesville police, who declined to comment for this story, have denied that the police were given an order to “stand down.” But according to testimonials and videos from the day, officers passively stood by while people were pepper-sprayed, beaten, and thrown to the ground. In a video obtained by the New York Times, police did nothing even after a white supremacist fired a gun in the direction of a black man.

The spectacle of Charlottesville police sparked a national discussion on whether some police officers are sympathetic to a far-right, white nationalist perspective. Two days after the demonstrations, the president of a local police union in New Mexico was caught sharing an internet meme joking about running over protesters. In September, the head of the Pennsylvania police union called Black Lives Matter protesters “a pack of rabid animals,” but he previously defended an officer who sported a Nazi tattoo.

Nothing illustrates the point better than the case of DeAndre Harris, a 20-year-old Charlottesville local who turned up to protest hate groups in his city. After the events in Charlottesville, a video emerged of Harris falling to the ground and getting savagely beaten by six white nationalists wielding baseball bats and two-by-fours. All of this happened in a parking garage next to the police station, but no arrests were made at the time.

Charlottesville police would later arrest three of the men in connection to the beating, but only after an internet campaign, led by The Intercept’s Shaun King, identified them and pressured the police to apprehend them.

And now, police are about to arrest a fourth. On Tuesday, an unidentified local magistrate in Charlottesville issued an arrest warrant for Harris as well, making him a wanted man in connection to his well-documented beating. According to the Washington Post, the magistrate issued the warrant after a self-identified “southern nationalist” accused Harris of injuring him during his own assault.

It may seem shocking that local officials would take the word of a white nationalist at face value despite a mountain of video evidence suggesting otherwise. But it shouldn’t, because it’s happened before. Two months earlier, Charlottesville police arrested their most prominent critic on the word of a white nationalist, and his case is still pending.

Attorney Jeffrey Fogel represents five homeless men in a suit in Charlottesville, Virginia, in June 2011

Photo: Courteney Stuart/ The Hook

When Jeff Fogel came to Charlottesville ten years ago, he was already a celebrated civil rights lawyer. After graduating from Rutgers Law School in 1969, he became a highly sought-after defense attorney, and eventually became the executive and legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. He went on to become the legal director for the Manhattan-based Center for Constitutional Rights, where he worked on a landmark case against the city’s stop-and-frisk policy.

Fogel is an old-school progressive, and when I caught up with him in September in a Charlottesville coffee shop, everything about him reminded me of Bernie Sanders. Bald except for a patch of white hair on the back of his head, Fogel wears a pair of square glasses and even speaks with a hint of an old-school Brooklyn accent, like Sanders when he denounces the influence of “millionahs and billionahs.”

He told me that he was driven to become a defense attorney early in life after a visit to a New Jersey state prison. “When I went into a prison the first time, in Trenton state prison in 1970, it was outrageous what I saw,” he said. “The conditions were horrible. Almost everybody was black. It was just so out front.”

And for all his passion, there is a side of Fogel that is defiant and sarcastic. The license plate on his Mazda reads “CVL RGTS,” so cops know who they’re dealing with before they pull him over.

Unhappy with life in the city, Fogel moved to Charlottesville and set up a private practice in 2007. He took cases that involved false arrests and excessive force, among other abuses, and quickly established himself as one of the city’s leading defense attorneys.

To give a cheeky example, in 2012 Fogel handled the case of a black man who was arrested for saying “fuck you” to a patrol officer. The judge threw out the case, because cursing at a cop is protected speech. Fogel helped him sue the department for damages, and the city settled.

Fogel has also been an outspoken critic of the city’s stop-and-frisk system. Throughout the years, he told me, the department’s data has shown that around 70 to 80 percent of the people stopped were black, even though the population of Charlottesville is only 20 percent black.

“So I went to the [city] council,” he told me, “and I said listen, I think the program is terrific. The only thing we have to do is shift it from focusing on black people to focusing on white people. You’ll catch a lot of people.”

In 2015, Fogel filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on behalf of the NAACP and the Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents, or PHAR, seeking documentation for the reasons of the stops. The city fought to exempt their release as “criminal investigative material,” and Fogel lost.

Like so many progressives, Fogel was deeply disturbed by Donald Trump’s election. Two nights after election day, he woke up at 3:00 a.m., and decided right then that he wanted to be more than just a critic.

Fogel decided to run for commonwealth attorney. The sitting top prosecutor, Dave Chapman, had announced he was not seeking re-election, and Fogel saw it as his opportunity to defy the Trump administration, much like civil rights activist Larry Krasner did in Philadelphia. As federal law enforcement would become more draconian, Fogel could make Charlottesville an example of a progressive alternative.

“I just thought that I’ve got to try and do something locally, without interference from the feds,” Fogel told me. “To show everyone we really can do something affecting the racial inequities, as well as mass incarceration.”

In the past couple of years, groups like the ACLU have tried to draw attention to a little-known fact: Local prosecutors are the most powerful people in the criminal justice system. They decide when and how to bring criminal cases, and when 9 out of 10 cases are resolved by plea bargains, judges often have limited involvement overseeing their cases.

As a candidate for local prosecutor, Fogel did what only a few people have done before – he ran on a platform of reforming the police and dramatically rolling back mass incarceration. His campaign platform promised to avoid mandatory minimums, reduce the number of felony prosecutions, and carefully scrutinize stop-and-frisk policies.

But one of Fogel’s proposals in particular attracted more attention than the others: his promise not to prosecute anyone for possessing marijuana. The proposal particularly ruffled the feathers of Joe Thomas, a local conservative radio host, who interviewed Fogel about it. He later released a 26-minute segment titled “Roll Me A Fogel” – in which he mixed the interview with soundbites from Afroman’s song “Because I Got High.”

It was, in many ways, a Charlottesville replica of the radical campaign run by Krasner in Philadelphia. Krasner ran on a “decarceration” platform and won his primary race in May, sending shock waves throughout the law enforcement world just two weeks before Fogel’s arrest in June.

Fogel faced steep odds throughout his race. His opponent in the Democratic primary was Joe Platania, the heir apparent and former deputy district attorney. Platania knew his boss would be retiring ahead of time, and with his months-long head start, locked down the major Democratic donors and endorsements.

Fogel, meanwhile, was winning over progressive, grassroots groups, like Showing up for Racial Justice and Together CVille, and getting endorsed by Joy Johnson, a leader with PHAR. He had a shot.

The statue of a Confederate soldier and two Civil War cannons stand in front of the Albemarle County Court House on August 22, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Charlottesville city council voted unanimously on Tuesday to cover Confederate statues in black cloth.

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On the evening of June 2, just eight days before the primary, Fogel got a call from a friend in the local chapter of SURJ. Jason Kessler, the prominent white supremacist who would go on to organize the August rallies, was eating at a restaurant downtown. SURJ was headed to protest, part of their initiative to try to stop local restaurants from serving him, and Fogel decided to check it out.

When he got there, Kessler was eating at a table in an open pavilion, and Fogel decided to watch the action from afar. He got an outdoor table at Miller’s, a restaurant adjacent to the pavilion. He ordered a burger, fries, and a beer, and posted to watch the protest.

After a confrontation with the protesters, in a twist of bad luck, Kessler exited the pavilion toward Miller’s. While speaking at his camera phone, he recognized Fogel as he walked by his table. “Here we have this candidate … Joe [sic] Fogel,” he said and proceeded to get into a heated argument with him.

At one point, Fogel told Kessler to “get a job and do something productive during the day.” According to Kessler’s own video footage, he responded by shouting, “You are a communist!” Then Caleb Norris, one of Kessler’s associates, looked at Fogel and called him a “communist piece of shit,” at which point Fogel took a step toward Norris and lightly put his hand on Norris’s chest, while Norris swatted it away.

“Oh my God! This guy just assaulted — press charges, press charges,” shouted Kessler. “This communist!” He turned to Norris and said, “Hey, dude, press charges against him now. He’s running for commonwealth attorney.” (Kessler did not reply to multiple requests for comment from The Intercept.)

Kessler later posted his video of the argument to YouTube, so you can judge for yourself:

When I met with Fogel, he didn’t come across as a man capable of a violent assault, at least not a successful one against a much younger group of men. The 72-year-old is active in the city, but he told to me that he had to take a medical leave several years ago due to a heart attack.

That night, Fogel followed Kessler and his entourage to the police station, where Kessler showed them his video and told them his version of the events. Fogel later told me that police said “they have a video,” but declined to show it to him. Frustrated he wasn’t allowed to see and explain Kessler’s video, and figuring it would amount to nothing, Fogel decided not to cooperate.

He asked an officer if he was free to leave, and the officer did not give him a straight answer. Fogel got angry, and after arguing with the officer about whether he was under arrest, he was told he was allowed to leave. Kessler later posted another video of that argument, titled “Lawyer Jeff Fogel Abusing a Police Officer.”

Fogel went home and went to bed. He would be roused later that night, arrested, and charged with misdemeanor assault. The police had chosen to believe the story that a known white nationalist and serial exaggerator told – that a 72-year-old man had violently assaulted a young neo-Nazi.

Jeff Fogel’s mugshot played in brutal fashion on the local news.

Photo: Charlottesville Police

When prominent public figures are wanted by the police, there are typically two ways officers handle it. Either call the person and ask them to come down to the station, or call the media and arrange for a perp walk. The Charlottesville police went with a third option, the one most likely to guarantee a politically devastating mugshot.

The police sought what’s called a non-permitted warrant — granted by local magistrate Justin Garwood — which can’t be effectuated by summons. The warrant gave them some flexibility about when they could execute it – so they could have delayed physically arresting Fogel until the next morning. But they chose to do it after midnight that night, dragging him to the police station in his pajamas.

Fogel later told me that he was taken before the magistrate and spoke to Garwood one-on-one. According to Fogel, he asked Garwood why he allowed such a warrant rather than just having the police call him down to the station. “Because I didn’t like the way you spoke to the sergeant in the police department,” Garwood told him. 

Garwood threatened to have him detained, but then released him on a $5,000 personal security bond. When he got back to his house at 2:30 a.m., his wife was still looking for him at the county jail. Because Fogel didn’t have his keys, he sat outside and waited for her.

(Garwood did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept, and the story will be updated if he does.)

Fogel filed a formal complaint with Avnel A. Coates, the chief magistrate for the judicial district that includes Charlottesville. Three days later, Coates sent him a letter, saying the arrest was appropriate, because there was “probable cause that there was an unwanted touching of the victim” and that “it is reasonable that there was a safety concern.”

But for Fogel, the damage was already done. The day after the arrest, his ruffled mugshot was plastered all over the local paper. Discussion of the arrest overshadowed any news coverage of the debates or his campaign.

On Election Day, a record number of people turned out — and nearly 40 percent of them cast their ballots for the man in his PJs. It wasn’t enough, but Fogel said he considers that a success — that his ideas were catching on. “It still seems significant that with that radical a program, I could get 40 percent of that vote,” he said.

Meanwhile, the criminal case against Fogel stalled. After the local prosecutor recused himself, and the state initially had trouble finding a special prosecutor who hadn’t dealt with Fogel as a defense attorney in their line of work. But the case is scheduled to go forward later this month.

The Charlottesville Police Department is also investigating Fogel’s arrest internally. According to emails Fogel shared with me, the officer in charge of the investigation communicated to Fogel that it was finished, but the department maintains it is ongoing.

I filed public records requests seeking the investigation’s conclusions, as well as the police body camera footage of Fogel’s arrests, but both were withheld as investigative files. And whether or not the results of the investigation are ever made public, Fogel is clear about why he thinks they chose to arrest him.

“I’ve been a persistent critic of the police department. That’s why I got arrested. So you all might want to think about that.”

Fogel came close, but it wasn’t enough, and elections have consequences. The prosecution of DeAndre Harris will be handled for now by Commonwealth Attorney Dave Chapman, who will pass it off after the general election to his deputy, Joe Platania.

Top photo: Virginia State Police in riot gear stand in front of the statue of General Robert E. Lee before forcing white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the “alt-right” out of Emancipation Park after the “Unite the Right” rally was declared an unlawful gathering August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The post Before Charlottesville Was in the Spotlight, Police Arrested Their Most Prominent Critic in the Middle of the Night appeared first on The Intercept.

Como conversar com desconhecidos no Signal sem revelar seu número de telefone

12 October 2017 - 7:59am

Alguns anos atrás, enviar mensagens criptografadas era difícil. Para começar, você tinha que passar horas seguindo tutoriais cheios de termos técnicos ou ter a sorte de contar com a ajuda de algum amigo nerd. Os poucos que conseguiam superar essa dificuldade logo encontravam mais uma barreira: era possível trocar mensagens protegidas apenas com outros usuários que haviam passado pelo mesmo tortuoso processo que você. Ou seja, mesmo conseguindo configurar um e-mail criptografado, você não podia enviá-lo para quem quisesse.

Hoje em dia isso ficou muito mais fácil. Há muitos aplicativos conhecidos do grande público que permitem que qualquer um criptografe suas comunicações. Um dos mais seguros é o Signal, um software de código aberto para iOS e Android que virou moda entre ativistas, jornalistas e outras pessoas cujo trabalho exige discrição. O mais populares desses apps é o WhatsApp, uma plataforma de propriedade do Facebook cuja criptografia é derivada do Signal. Com a popularização desses aplicativos, com raríssimas exceções, todas as minhas mensagens de texto – com amigos, familiares ou de trabalho – são protegidas com criptografia de ponta a ponta, e ninguém precisa saber o que é uma “chave pública”.

Mas tanto o Signal quanto o WhatsApp têm um problema: sua conta é atrelada ao seu número de telefone.

Isso facilita o uso desses aplicativos, já que torna desnecessários os nomes de usuário e senhas. Também é mais fácil encontrar outros usuários – se um contato da sua agenda também instalar o app, vocês podem começar a trocar mensagens criptografadas imediatamente, sem necessidade de nenhuma configuração.

Mas isso também quer dizer que, para receber mensagens protegidas, você precisa fornecer seu número de telefone, o que coloca quem trabalha com o público em um dilema: a possibilidade de se comunicar com estranhos de forma protegida vale a pena o risco de tornar público o seu número pessoal?

Neste artigo, vou explicar como criar um segundo número no Signal, que pode, então, ser publicado no seu perfil no Twitter e nos seus cartões de visita, para que você possa receber mensagens criptografadas de qualquer pessoa sem ter que revelar o seu verdadeiro número. Vou fazer um passo a passo de como obter um segundo número de telefone, registrá-lo no servidor do Signal e configurá-lo para usar o Signal Desktop – mesmo se você já estiver usando o Signal Desktop com o seu verdadeiro número. Esse tutorial usa como exemplo o Signal, e não WhatsApp, por razões que explicarei mais adiante (o WhatsApp parece bloquear todo número de telefone fixo, o que não acontece com o Signal).

Por que não revelar o seu número de telefone?

Ao dar o seu número de telefone para um estranho, você corre o risco de ser importunado ou seriamente assediado. A ativista pela liberdade de expressão Jillian York escreveu em seu blog: “Como mulher, dar o meu número de telefone a um estranho não deixa de ser arriscado: ‘E se ele me ligar no meio da noite? E se eu for assediada com mensagens? E se eu tiver que mudar de número para me livrar dele?’”

Se você é uma figura pública – principalmente se for mulher ou negro –, já deve estar estar acostumado com insultos machistas ou racistas proferidos por idiotas no Twitter, Facebook e nos comentários dos seus artigos. Publicar o seu número de telefone pessoal pode piorar ainda mais o problema, pois isso abre mais um canal para essas pessoas se manifestarem.

Além disso, suas contas online ficam mais vulneráveis a ataques. No ano passado, alguém invadiu o Twitter e o e-mail do ativista dos direitos dos negros DeRay Mckesson usando o seu número de telefone. O hacker ligou para a Verizon (uma operadora de telefonia americana), fazendo-se passar por ele, e convenceu a empresa a mudar o chip associado ao número de Mckesson, passando a receber todas as mensagens e chamadas destinadas a ele.

Ter um número de telefone público exclusivamente para o Signal é uma proteção contra esse tipo de ataque; sem conhecer o número associado ao seu e-mail e ao seu Twitter, é muito mais difícil para um hacker invadir essas contas.

(Porém, se alguém assumir o controle do seu número de telefone, como no caso de Mckesson, ele também poderá invadir a sua conta do Signal. Se isso acontecer com um de seus contatos, você será avisado de que o “número de segurança” desse usuário foi modificado – é o mesmo aviso de quando um contato troca de telefone. Se você continuar escrevendo para esse contato, quem receberá suas mensagens será o hacker. É possível verificar os números de segurança para confirmar que o Signal está realmente enviando mensagens para a pessoa certa).

Como obter um segundo número de telefone

Quando você abre o Signal pela primeira vez e digita o seu número de telefone, acontece o seguinte:

  • O Signal tenta enviar uma mensagem de texto com um código de verificação para o seu número. A conta só é registrada se você receber a mensagem e inserir o código correto no aplicativo.
  • Se você não receber a mensagem de verificação, o Signal oferece a opção de verificação por chamada telefônica. Nesse caso, o aplicativo tenta ligar para o seu telefone. Ao atender, você ouve uma gravação com o código de verificação que deve ser inserido no aplicativo. Se o código for digitado corretamente, a conta é registrada com sucesso.

O primeiro passo na verificação de um número de telefone é o único que faz uso da rede de telefonia. Depois disso, o Signal passa a usar a internet para tudo. Seu número de telefone só serve para identificar a sua conta (de certa forma, é o seu nome de usuário); sua operadora não tem acesso a nenhum dado da sua conta do Signal.

Isso significa que qualquer número de telefone capaz de receber chamadas – como uma linha fixa ou um número virtual (VoIP) – pode ser associado à sua conta do Signal. Porém, isso não é caso para todos os aplicativos desse tipo – o WhatsApp parece permitir apenas o uso de números de telefone celular (mas já ouvi relatos conflitantes sobre isso, então não custa nada tentar).

Em primeiro lugar, você precisa de um segundo número de telefone que possa ser publicado sem problemas. Por exemplo:

  • Um telefone fixo do seu escritório;
  • Um número gratuito do Google Voice, caso você more nos Estados Unidos (é o meu caso);
  • Qualquer número de um serviço de telefonia online, como o Skype;
  • Um chip pré-pago barato (colocado temporariamente no seu aparelho para registrar sua conta no Signal);
  • Twilio, um serviço de nuvem que permite que desenvolvedores criem programas para fazer e receber chamadas e mensagens de texto. Se você não achar este tutorial muito complicado, é possível comprar números de telefone por apenas 1 dólar ao mês para usar com o Signal. Confira este outro tutorial, escrito por Martin Shelton, com informações mais detalhadas sobre como usar o Twilio para obter um segundo número de telefone.

É importante ter controle exclusivo sobre o seu novo número. É possível utilizar um serviço de SMS online para registrar sua conta do Signal – há muitos sites na internet que oferecem esse serviço – mas o problema é que esses números podem ser usados por qualquer um. Da mesma forma, evite usar um telefone público ou um número de celular que você pretende desativar. Se o seu número do Signal for parar nas mãos de outra pessoa, ela poderá assumir o controle da sua conta.

Se você conhecer outras maneiras de obter um número de telefone permanente, compartilhe conosco nos comentários.

Escolhendo um aparelho para o seu segundo número do Signal

Se você é usuário do Android, o procedimento é mais simples. Talvez você nunca tenha usado essa função, mas o Android permite a criação de mais de uma conta de usuário em um mesmo aparelho. Cada conta tem acesso a seus próprios aplicativos e dados. Você pode criar uma conta de usuário apenas para o seu número do Signal.

Abra as “Configurações” do aparelho, acesse “Usuários” e selecione “Adicionar usuário ou perfil” para adicionar um novo usuário. Em seguida, faça login com o novo perfil e instale o Signal. Não esqueça de configurar o bloqueio de tela para o novo usuário – sem isso, qualquer um que pegar o seu telefone poderá acessar as suas mensagens do Signal, mesmo se a conta principal estiver bloqueada.

Para alternar entre as contas do telefone, acesse a barra de notificações e selecione o ícone de “Usuário”.

Se você é usuário do iPhone e já está usando o Signal com seu número de telefone privado, é um pouco mais complicado configurar uma conta pública do Signal. Infelizmente, não é possível ter dois números diferentes do Signal no mesmo iPhone.

A maneira mais simples de resolver isso é usando outro aparelho – iOS ou Android – para configurar o segundo número. Esse aparelho não precisa ter acesso a um serviço de telefonia; pode ser um iPhone velho ou um aparelho com Android que você não usa mais – é possível até usar um iPad, um iPod Touch ou um tablet com Android.

Você também pode escolher usar seu novo número de telefone exclusivamente com o Signal Desktop. Para isso, você precisa apagar a sua conta privada do Signal do seu iPhone, criar uma conta pública no Signal Desktop e só então restaurar a sua conta privada – seus contatos receberão um alerta dizendo que seu número de segurança mudou. Isso também limita drasticamente as funções do Signal à sua disposição, como explicarei mais abaixo.

Para os usuários mais avançados, também é possível usar seu computador para registrar o segundo número do Signal, mas essa alternativa é recomendada apenas para os ratos de informática que adoram resolver problemas complicados. Você pode usar uma ferramenta de linha de comando chamada signal-cli para registrar seu número no servidor do Signal, ou então instalar o android-x86 em uma máquina virtual, utilizando-a como um emulador do Android. Se essas soluções parecem complicadas demais para você, é melhor arranjar um velho smartphone usado.

Registrando seu novo número no Signal

Agora que você já tem um segundo número de telefone e um aparelho, chegou a hora de registrá-lo no Signal pela primeira vez. Digite o novo número – não o seu número telefone pessoal! – e confirme a inscrição.

Agora o Signal enviará uma mensagem de texto para esse número. Porém, como seu aparelho não está associado ao novo número, acontecerá uma falha no envio. Pelo menos no Android, é preciso esperar dois minutos até o erro ocorrer. (Se você usa o iOS e conseguir receber a mensagem com o código de verificação – graças ao Google Voice, por exemplo –, insira o código no Signal e pule para a etapa seguinte: “Configurando o Signal Desktop”).

Agora que a verificação via SMS falhou, você pode fazer a verificação de voz. Prepare-se para atender uma ligação para o seu segundo número de telefone. Caso se trate de uma linha fixa, fique perto do aparelho; caso você tenha um número do Google Voice, configure o aplicativo corretamente para receber chamadas.


Por fim, selecione o botão “Me ligue”. Atenda a ligação. Você ouvirá um número de seis dígitos; insira esse número no Signal e selecione o botão “Verificar”.

Se tudo correr bem, o processo de verificação será completado com sucesso, e seu novo número de telefone ficará registrado no servidor do Signal.

E pronto! O seu aparelho agora pode receber mensagens enviadas para o seu segundo número de telefone. Agora seus contatos podem se comunicar com você via Signal utilizando esse novo número; as mensagens recebidas serão encaminhadas a esse aparelho.

Contudo, agora você terá que usar dois aparelhos diferentes para ler suas mensagens – ou duas contas de usuário em um aparelho com Android. Para facilitar um pouco as coisas, é recomendável utilizar o Signal Desktop.

Configurando o Signal Desktop

 A versão para computador do Signal é uma extensão do Google Chrome; ou seja, é instalada dentro do seu navegador (isso vai mudar em breve, como explicarei mais adiante). Você pode saber mais sobre o Signal Desktop aqui, onde também falo sobre os riscos de usar o Signal no computador.

Se você quiser usar o Signal Desktop com apenas um número de telefone, o procedimento é simples. Por exemplo, talvez você queira usar o Signal no smartphone apenas com o seu número privado, e o Signal Desktop com o número público. Nesse caso, baixe o Signal Desktop na Chrome web store e siga as instruções para configurá-lo com o aparelho que quiser.

Se você quiser usar o Signal Desktop com ambos os números, será preciso criar dois perfis de usuário no Chrome (ou “pessoas”, como eles são chamados nesse navegador). A maioria dos usuários do Chrome usam apenas o perfil padrão – que armazena seu histórico de navegação, favoritos, extensões e outras preferências. Mas é possível criar novos perfis e alternar entre eles com facilidade. Você pode configurar o Signal Desktop no perfil padrão para usar o seu número privado e criar um segundo perfil só para o seu segundo número.

Os desenvolvedores do Signal estão alterando o Signal Desktop. Em breve, o aplicativo será um software independente, não precisando mais do Chrome para funcionar. Isso significa que não será mais possível alternar entre dois perfis no mesmo computador, mas, por enquanto, as instruções a seguir ainda funcionam.

Em primeiro lugar, vamos configurar o Signal Desktop no perfil padrão do Chrome, que usará o seu número particular (se você já é usuário do Signal Desktop, pule os próximos parágrafos). Abra o Chrome e instale o Signal Desktop. Após a instalação, uma tela de boas-vindas aparecerá, explicando que você precisa instalar o Signal no seu telefone primeiro. Escaneie o código QR mostrado na tela com o seu smartphone, como no exemplo abaixo:


Siga as instruções do aplicativo para conectar seu smartphone com o Signal Desktop.

Talvez você queria facilitar seu acesso ao Signal Desktop. Para os usuários de Mac, basta fazer um clique secundário (com a tecla “Control” pressionada) no ícone do Signal no Dock , selecionar “Opções” e marcar a opção “Manter no Dock”. No Windows, clique com o botão direito do mouse no ícone do Signal na barra de tarefas e selecione “Fixar na barra de tarefas”.

Agora vamos criar um novo perfil do Chrome para o seu segundo número de telefone. Abra o menu do Chrome (o ícone de três pontos no canto superior direito) e acesse as “Configurações”. Na aba “Pessoas”, clique em “Gerenciar pessoas”.

No canto inferior direito, clique em “Adicionar pessoa”. Crie um nome e selecione um ícone para o novo perfil. Na imagem abaixo, escolhi o nome “Signal para desconhecidos” e o ícone de um ninja.

Após clicar em “Salvar”, o Chrome abrirá uma nova janela com o nome “Signal para desconhecidos” no canto superior direito – você pode clicar no nome para alternar entre diferentes perfis.

Agora instale novamente o Signal Desktop, desta vez no novo perfil. Você verá outra tela de boas-vindas com instruções para começar a usar o programa, além de um novo código QR.

Siga as instruções, porém, desta vez, utilize o aparelho atrelado ao seu segundo número de telefone (ou o seu segundo perfil, se estiver fazendo tudo no mesmo aparelho Android). Pronto, agora seu segundo número de telefone está conectado ao segundo perfil do Signal Desktop!

Você também pode facilitar o acesso a essa segunda versão do Signal Desktop. No Mac, faça um clique secundário (com a tecla “Control” pressionada) no ícone do Signal no Dock , selecione “Opções” e marque a opção “Manter no Dock”. No Windows, clique com o botão direito do mouse no ícone do Signal na barra de tarefas e selecione “Fixar na barra de tarefas”.

Agora você tem dois ícones diferentes para o Signal Desktop – um para o seu número privado e outro para o número público que você acaba de configurar. Passe o mouse por cima dos ícones para diferenciá-los.

Por fim, uma dica para quem usa mais de um Signal Desktop no mesmo computador: clique no ícone de três pontos do Signal Desktop e selecione “Configurações”. Isso permite que você escolha entre três temas visuais diferentes. Atribua temas diferentes para cada versão do Signal Desktop para ajudar a distinguir uma da outra.

(Para os poucos entre vocês que usam o sistema operacional Qubes, esse processo é muito mais simples. Basta instalar o Signal Desktop em uma Máquina Virtual (AppVM) diferente para cada número de telefone. É o que eu faço.)

Usando o Signal Desktop como aplicativo principal do Signal

Agora que o seu número público do Signal pode ser publicado sem riscos e as mensagens criptografadas chegam diretamente no seu computador, é tentador usar apenas o Signal Desktop para esse número de telefone. Não há nenhum problema nisso, mas não esqueça que existem certas limitações.

O Signal Desktop tem menos funcionalidades do que o aplicativo para celular. É impossível fazer chamadas criptografadas de voz e vídeo na versão para computador, e também não é possível criar ou modificar grupos. Se você quiser usar essas funções, será preciso acessar o aplicativo no smartphone. Além disso, embora a função de “mensagens efêmeras” esteja presente na versão para computador, não é possível apagar mensagens individuais.

Outra limitação do Signal Desktop é a impossibilidade de atribuir nomes aos seus contatos, pois o Signal usa a agenda do seu celular para dar nomes aos seus contatos. Para atribuir um nome a um contato, é preciso adicioná-lo no Signal do smartphone usado para registrar o seu número de telefone.

Por fim, se você ler as suas mensagens apenas no Signal Desktop – e não no telefone utilizado para registrar a sua conta – elas vão se acumular no servidor pela seguinte razão: quando alguém envia um mensagem pelo Signal, ela é criptografada pelo aplicativo e enviada ao servidor. O servidor armazena essa mensagem até que ela seja entregue ao aparelho do destinatário; após a entrega, a mensagem é finalmente apagada do sevidor. Porém, como sua conta do Signal está associada a duas máquinas diferentes – um smartphone e um computador –, o servidor não apaga a mensagem até ela ter sido entregue a ambos os aparelhos. Portanto, é importante acessar periodicamente o Signal no seu celular mesmo se você pretende usar apenas a versão para computador.

Será que o Signal vai simplicar tudo isso um dia?

Atualmente, a única maneira de criar uma conta do Signal é registrando um número de telefone, mas, no futuro, outras formas de identificação também poderão ser aceitas, como endereços de e-mail.

O Signal poderia verificar endereços de e-mail da mesma forma que números de telefone. Além disso, como também é possível armazenar endereços de e-mail na agenda do celular, a descoberta de novos contatos poderia continuar sendo automática. Embora jornalistas e ativistas costumem publicar seus endereços de e-mail para que qualquer um possa entrar em contato, outras pessoas – como informantes, por exemplo – podem querer guardar anonimato. Para elas, é muito mais fácil obter uma conta de e-mail anônima do que um número de telefone secreto.

Essa funcionalidade é muito requisitada pelos usuários, e o tópico de discussão correspondente continua aberto no GitHub, onde é possível acessar o código-fonte do Signal. Mas será que os desenvolvedores do Signal vão implementá-la? Fiz essa pergunta a eles, mas a política da equipe é não fazer comentários sobre funcionalidades ainda não lançadas.

Se você tiver algum comentário a fazer sobre esse tutorial, não hesite em escrever na seção de comentários ou entrar em contato comigo no Signal, no número (415) 964-1601.

Tradução: Bernardo Tonasse

The post Como conversar com desconhecidos no Signal sem revelar seu número de telefone appeared first on The Intercept.

The Airport Bomber From Last Week You Never Heard About

11 October 2017 - 5:10pm

It’s strange how some things really catch on and go viral and others don’t. These days, nothing quite makes a story blow up — no pun intended — like the president’s fixation with it. That’s why it’s so peculiar that what sure looks like an attempted terrorist attack was narrowly thwarted at an American airport this past Friday without so much as peep from Donald Trump about it. No tweets. No nicknames for the alleged would-be-terrorist. Nothing. You’ll see why in a minute.

On past Friday morning, at 12:39 a.m., security footage from the Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina showed a man walking through the front doors wearing black clothing and a black cap, while carrying a bag. “Based on a review of the video, the individual walked near the entrance to the terminal, went out of sight momentarily, and was then seen departing the area without the bag,” according to the criminal complaint.

Following the Transportation Security Administration’s protocols, airport security allowed a bomb dog to sniff the bag for explosives and the dog signaled to the team the presence of dangerous materials in the bag. The concourse was then shut down. The street leading to the airport was shut down. And Asheville Regional Airport officials found themselves in a dangerous emergency situation.

What investigators eventually found in the bag was AN/FO (Ammonium Nitrate/Fuel Oil) explosives that, according to the criminal complaint, have been used “in a number of terrorist-related incidents around the world. When AN/FO comes into contact with a flame or other ignition source it explodes violently. Nails or ball bearings are often items added to the device so as to increase the devastation inflicted by the explosion.”

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In fact, sharp nails and bullets were found in this improvised explosive device. Whoever built it designed the bomb to cause horrific bodily harm. Before disarming it, authorities discovered that the alarm attached to it was scheduled to go off at 6:00 a.m. that morning just as a fresh round of travelers was scheduled to arrive at the airport.

The man who planted it, it turns out, openly admitted to authorities that he was “preparing to fight a war on U.S. soil” and that this bomb was but one part of that war.

Little Fanfare

I bet you never heard about it. I keep an eye on these types of incidents closely and I didn’t hear about it. Someone who follows me online who happens to live in Asheville sent me the story this morning — shocked that it hadn’t gotten any play at all beyond a few mentions in the local paper and some isolated pickup by a few national outlets.

As soon as I clicked on the article, it all made perfect sense.

The story didn’t go viral and Trump didn’t tweet about it because the bomb was not placed by an immigrant, or a Muslim, or a Mexican. It was placed there by a good ol’ white man, Michael Christopher Estes. Unlike the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, whose motive is still hard to discern, Estes wanted to be very clear that his ultimate goal was to accelerate a war on American soil.

Sorry if it sounds like you’ve heard this story before. I’m as tired of writing it as you are reading it, but you know good and well that if Estes was a young Muslim — hell, if he had ever even visited a mosque in the past 25 years — that Trump would be tweeting about him right this very moment to tout how essential a Muslim ban is for American safety.

A Muslim attacker’s mugshot would become a meme across the conservative media. Mainstream American outlets would be covering the heroic bravery of those who thwarted the terrorist plot. We’d all be seeing footage of the perpetrator being walked from the police car to the jail and from the jail to the court room. Out loud, people would talk and tweet about the man’s family and friends and networks — wondering where he was radicalized, and if anyone else feels the way he does.

In this case, though? Crickets. We hear nothing at all — almost exclusively because the man who planted an improvised explosive device, just like ones that have been used to murder and maim people all over the world, was white. His guilt starts and stops with him. His actions aren’t an indictment of his whole faith, political outlook, and race. White people aren’t, thanks to Estes, suddenly labeled terrorists or seen as a threat to American safety in the way that would almost certainly happen had it been anybody other than a white man.

This isn’t me calling for all of those things that happen to Muslims and immigrants every single day to now happen to Estes and white people all over the country. It’s me saying that the fundamentally bigoted double standard by which it is done to virtually everyone except for Michael Christopher Estes and other white men has to stop.

Top photo: A collage shows Michael Christopher Estes and a view of Asheville Regional Airport. (Photos: Google Maps, Buncombe County Detention Center)

The post The Airport Bomber From Last Week You Never Heard About appeared first on The Intercept.

“No Kin In the Game”: Study Finds Members of Congress Without Draft-Age Sons Were More Hawkish

11 October 2017 - 5:08pm

A new study finds that members of Congress who didn’t have draft-age sons were significantly more likely to support hawkish, pro-conscription policies over the course of four major U.S. wars.

Academics from Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown authored the paper, which is titled, “No Kin In The Game: Moral Hazard and War in the U.S. Congress.” They studied 249 conscription-related votes and the family composition of 3,963 members of Congress who served during the period of four conflicts: World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

They concluded that lawmakers who had draft-age sons during those periods were between 10 and 17 percent less likely to take hawkish votes, compared to legislators with only daughters of draft age. To understand the scale of these differences, the researchers compared their findings to lawmakers’ tendency to oppose wars based on the president’s political affiliation. “To place this magnitude into perspective, it is equivalent to 50-70% of the ‘party line’ effect of having a sitting president from the opposing party,” they wrote.

It’s difficult to prove that politicians’ legislative decisions are at least partly influenced by their own private incentives, Yale University economist Eoin McGuirk, one of the study’s authors, told The Intercept in an email.

“For example, say that senator votes to go to war,” McGuirk wrote. “It’s later revealed that he received campaign contributions from a weapons manufacturer in his home state. It’s tempting for us to conclude that the donation swayed the politician. But, he can legitimately say that (i) this is his ideological disposition, and the weapons manufacturer gave him $ to help get him elected; or (ii) the weapons manufacturer employs his constituents, and that’s why he voted to go to war. In none of those cases can we say that the donation itself made the politician vote the way he did.”

Studying kinship, though, allowed the researchers to more clearly establish a correlation.

“Our paper proves that private motives do (partly) shape legislative decisions because the gender of a politician’s draft-age son is plausibly ‘exogenous'; in other words, it’s totally unrelated to any other factor that could have influenced the politician’s legislative decision,” he continued. “Our observation that politicians with draft-age sons voted differently to those with draft-age daughters is most likely due to self-interest.”

The researchers also looked at the electoral fortunes of lawmakers with draft-age sons, finding that they were 10 percent more likely to be subsequently re-elected, an indication that voters punish those who favor conscription.

Top photo: U.S. troops take cover from the Vietcong in a trench on Hill Timothy, during the Vietnam War on April 11, 1968.

The post “No Kin In the Game”: Study Finds Members of Congress Without Draft-Age Sons Were More Hawkish appeared first on The Intercept.

This Group Helps Lobbyists Influence Public Officials. The Trump Hotel Is Hosting Its 2018 Gala.

11 October 2017 - 4:50pm

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a controversial group that brings corporate lobbyists together with state legislators to formulate business- and Republican-friendly policies, will host its 45th anniversary gala at the Trump International Hotel next year.

The member-based group, known as ALEC, has much to celebrate. With a strategy of growing its ranks among state-level politicians to affect local change, ALEC has made strides on the national stage, too. Its alumni occupy several leading posts in the Trump administration, and the group boasts more than 80 former members among the Republican majority in Congress.

“This administration does have the potential to be an ALEC administration,” Lisa Nelson, chief executive of ALEC, said in a message to members after the inauguration. “It is full of the people and ideas we’ve advanced since 1973.”

ALEC acts as a talent pool for up-and-coming Republican officials. The group’s meetings serve as a hub for making introductions between state lawmakers and prospective donors, whose lobbyists then work with ALEC to ghostwrite bills that legislators take home and introduce as proposed laws.

For instance, fossil fuel companies, such as Koch Industries and Peabody Energy, worked through ALEC to develop state-based legislation opposing federal standards on clean air and climate change. In the past, private prison firms worked with the group to draft “three-strikes” legislation and other policies that increased incarceration rates. The National Rifle Association partnered with ALEC to author gun rights bills.

The decision by ALEC to bring its conference to the Trump International Hotel comes as an array of special-interest groups hoping to curry favor with President Donald Trump have selected properties owned by the president and his family as venues for their events.

As The Intercept first reported, a major coal and mining lobbying group recently selected the Trump International to host a meeting between senior industry executives and administration officials. Special-interest groups representing a number of other foreign and domestic clients have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars this year hosting lavish parties at the Trump International and other Trump family hotels and resorts.

ALEC recently requested that donors provide sponsorship of up to $100,000 to cover the expense of the conference next year.

Top photo: Then-Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 42nd annual meeting held Thursday, July 23, 2015, in San Diego.

The post This Group Helps Lobbyists Influence Public Officials. The Trump Hotel Is Hosting Its 2018 Gala. appeared first on The Intercept.

General que comanda a Abin fala em vazio de lideranças e elogia feitos da ditadura

11 October 2017 - 4:47pm

O ministro do Gabinete de Segurança Institucional do governo Temer, Sérgio Westphalen Etchegoyen, causou incômodo em parte da comunidade diplomática durante uma palestra no Instituto Rio Branco. O general sugeriu “medidas extremas” para a segurança pública, elogiou feitos dos anos de chumbo e disse que o país sofre com amoralidade e com patrulha do “politicamente correto”.

Etchegoyen começou a fala de quase duas horas contando que tinha sido soldado por 47 anos e que era por essa ótica, militar, que enxergava e interpretava o mundo. Depois do alerta, tentou quebrar o gelo:

“Sou da arma de cavalaria e tem um problema que a ausência do meu cavalo reduz minha capacidade intelectual em uns 45, 40 por cento”, começou general da reserva que  comanda, entre outros órgãos, a Agência Brasileira de Inteligência (Abin). A plateia, majoritariamente composta por futuros diplomatas, riu discretamente.

Foi um dos poucos momentos de descontração. No restante do tempo, segundo pessoas que estiveram presentes, pairou no ar certo desconforto diante da visão de mundo do ministro. A palestra ocorreu no dia 23 de agosto. Nesta segunda (9), The Intercept Brasil teve acesso exclusivo ao conteúdo do encontro, graças a uma gravação de áudio feita sem o conhecimento do Instituto Rio Branco.

 “Deserto de lideranças”

O convite para que o ministro falasse a alunos do Rio Branco partiu de Alexandre Parola, porta-voz do atual governo que, nos corredores do Itamaraty, é jocosamente chamado de “porta-malas”. Quando a primeira denúncia contra Michel Temer foi rejeitada, Parola disse, em pronunciamento oficial, que o presidente havia recebido a notícia “com a tranquilidade de quem confia nas instituições brasileiras” e que a decisão era uma “vitória da democracia e do direito”.

Etchegoyen parece pensar diferente. Para ele, o país passa por crises tão profundas que afetam a própria estrutura do Estado: “Nós nunca vivemos, no Brasil, um momento em que coincidisse, com tanta intensidade, tantas crises estruturais e tantas crises setoriais. Isso nos dá uma crise sistêmica”, disse. “E nós não vamos tratar com Aspirina nem com Tylenol. Nós vamos tratar com antibiótico, com todos os efeitos colaterais”.

Ao longo das quase duas horas ao microfone, o militar gaúcho se mostrou bastante cordial, mas, mais de uma vez, pecou pela falta de coerência. Tendo, entre outras, a função de zelar pela segurança de um presidente que vem oferecendo  tudo e mais um pouco em troca da permanência no cargo, Etchegoyen criticou justamente a excessiva preocupação dos políticos em “preservar mandatos e biografias”. E, com distanciamento pouco comum a homens em posição de comando, reclamou que vivemos um “deserto de lideranças”. Uma situação de “perplexidade política” para a qual não há saída à vista e que pode “gerar problemas maiores”.

“Inimigo interno”

Para o chefe da Abin, boa parte do caos atual deve-se ao excesso de ideologias. “Nós criamos uma sociedade, particularmente no Brasil, que resolveu que os fenômenos sociais são todos explicados a partir de uma formulação ideológica”, disse. Depois completou: “Nós temos uma questão prática pra resolver [a crise atual], que não responde a questões ideológicas necessariamente.”

Etchegoyen diz acreditar que a crise atual é o grande “inimigo interno” e pode ser dividida em três vertentes: a econômica, a política e a moral, que, para o homem forte da segurança de Michel Temer, é a maior delas.

Com quase cinco décadas no Exército, o general achou por bem discorrer sobre a violência no Rio de Janeiro. Para ele, a ação do Exército é justificada pela falência do Estado. “Estamos vivendo tempos extraordinários. Precisamos de soluções extraordinárias.”

“Se der pro militar um problema de segurança pública, ele vai se adaptar e vai fazer.”

Para o ministro, o argumento de que as Forças Armadas não são treinadas para atuar no policiamento de cidades é balela de especialistas. “Ninguém sabe a guerra que vai lutar amanhã”, disse. “Somos treinados em cima de princípios, de conceitos, com alguns fundamentos, com muita flexibilidade pra dar agilidade mental pra poder resolver o problema. Então, se der pro militar um problema de segurança pública, ele vai se adaptar e vai fazer.”

Exército distribuem doces na Rocinha, na zona sul do Rio de Janeiro, em setembro, enquanto operações de busca acontecem no local. Para Etchegoyen, “se der pro militar um problema de segurança pública, ele vai se adaptar e vai fazer.”

Etchegoyen acredita que parte dos problemas do Rio, onde o Exército tem atuado com frequência, tem a ver com um interesse eleitoreiro de políticos que não deram a necessária continuidade à segurança pública. Mas o povo também teria uma parcela de culpa: “Uma sociedade no Rio de Janeiro – e me desculpem os cariocas – que ia pra praia com um apito pra avisar o maconheiro que a polícia está chegando, permitiu que se chegasse aonde chegamos.”

Ainda sobre a crise política, Etchegoyen afirmou que o Brasil criou um modelo que está “nos destruindo por dentro.” Uma “sociedade amorfa, que não reage.” E as origens desses males estaria no abandono de um projeto nacional, principalmente durante os mandatos de Lula e Dilma. “Governos mais populares, com vocação mais assistencialista.”

Saudades da “autonomia” da ditadura

Para o chefe da Abin, o Estado democrático brasileiro criou instrumentos que limitaram o nosso desenvolvimento. “Imaginem se hoje seria possível construir, no Rio de Janeiro, o Cristo Redentor? Quanto é que ia nos custar de discussão no Ibama, com o Ministério Público? Quanto nos custaria fazer uma ponte Rio-Niterói, pra ficar no mesmo tema? O bondinho? Itaipu?”, disse, referindo-se a algumas das maiores obras de infraestrutura da ditadura militar.

De toda a palestra, esse foi o momento em que o general mais exalou saudades da ditadura. “Nós tivemos autonomia pra fazer isso… A nossa geração teve autonomia. Fracassou. Fracassou porque utilizou mal essa autonomia e reduziu a autonomia das gerações que vão nos seguir”, ponderou.

Conforme a palestra avançava, os problemas se multiplicaram e, curiosamente, não passaram perto do Congresso ou do Planalto, que estaria tentando implantar uma “agenda modernizadora”. No fim, nem a Constituição escapou da artilharia.

“Nós perdemos a noção de crescimento e passamos a ser uma sociedade de outra natureza, particularmente a partir de 88, a partir da Constituição de 88, que não tem, como prioridade, crescer”, disse. E foi adiante.

“Se não chegarmos a uma posição do que é interesse nacional, nós vamos continuar patinando.”

Denunciou o fato de um cirurgião do SUS que “constitui a mama de um transexual” receber mais do que o colega que “reconstitui” o seio de uma mulher vítima de câncer. E, claro, lamentou o desapreço para com as polícias:

“Nossa sociedade bota o dedo na cara de um policial… Qualquer menino [faz isso] e não acontece nada”, disse, muito improvavelmenteprovavelmente referindo-se aos meninos da Zona Sul do Rio, ou à Zona Oeste de São Paulo. “Nós não podemos, por exemplo, deixar que prossiga esse desamor pela polícia, que tem acontecido no Brasil. Porque são eles que nós temos. Nós não temos outros.”

Entre os atuais entraves ao progresso estavam, claro, os quilombolas. Em particular uma comunidade que ocupa a península de Alcântara, no Maranhão.

“Algumas comunidades permanecem onde estão e não saem para a expansão do centro de lançamento de Alcântara por razões culturais. ‘Ah, não quero sair porque aqui morreu minha vó’”, minimizou.

Para Etchegoyen, essa resistência seria estimulada por algumas lideranças, cooptadas por antropólogos estrangeiros que, na verdade, teriam o objetivo de sabotar o programa espacial brasileiro. “Há 30 anos já se discute isso e não se sai do lugar. E se não chegarmos a uma posição do que é interesse nacional, nós vamos continuar patinando.”

Outro problema apontado pelo general é uma suposta patrulha do  politicamente correto: “Quantos e quantas aqui teriam coragem de levantar e discutir claramente a sua opinião sobre cotas, por exemplo? Isso é uma coisa que, na sociedade, nós estamos buscando uma unanimidade – e eu não estou falando contra as cotas, eu estou tratando teoricamente do assunto – mas nós queremos uma unanimidade na sociedade?”

Por fim, a exemplo de outro militar da reserva que tem ganhado cada vez mais espaço nos microfones do país, o ministro criticou uma suposta patrulha do politicamente correto: “Quantos e quantas aqui teriam coragem de levantar e discutir claramente a sua opinião sobre cotas, por exemplo? Isso é uma coisa que, na sociedade, nós estamos buscando uma unanimidade – e eu não estou falando contra as cotas, eu estou tratando teoricamente do assunto – mas nós queremos uma unanimidade na sociedade?”

The post General que comanda a Abin fala em vazio de lideranças e elogia feitos da ditadura appeared first on The Intercept.

Did Trump Break the Law by Telling NFL Owners to Fire Players?

11 October 2017 - 2:42pm

Two different NFL teams, the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys, have now publicized that they are forcing their players to stand for the national anthem or risk punishment from the team. There are rumblings among players for other teams that their outfits have already done or are about to do the exact same thing. In doing so, these teams are caving to the very public demands of the president of the United States — and questions have been raised about whether Donald Trump may have broken the law in issuing these demands. Let me break it down.

For months on end, Trump demeaned NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial violence in America. But his complaints hit a crescendo last month at a political rally in Alabama when he not only described kneeling players as sons of bitches, but said that they should be yanked off the field. Capitalizing on the political momentum and attention he received from the remarks, Trump has now either commented or tweeted about the NFL nonstop for weeks on end.

Colin Kaepernick, however, still does not have a job. And police brutality and racial violence continue unabated in this country. That’s why these men are taking a knee or having a seat during the anthem. It’s why these men are raising a fist. These men aren’t disrespecting the flag or the military — in fact, some of them come from military families. What they are saying is actually patriotic: Every single player protesting has repeatedly said they want this country to uphold its promises and live up to its ideals.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, though, saw an opportunity to hijack the demonstrations. Last weekend, they orchestrated a publicity stunt, with Pence going to an Indianapolis Colts game, only to deliberately make a spectacle by walking out after players from the visiting 49ers took a knee. Trump acknowledged that the president had told Pence to walk out if any players took a knee, but at least one player from the 49ers has taken a knee in every game for the past 14 months. They knew this was going to happen.

In other words, it was a pre-planned protest — which is wild, because Pence used a football game to make a point about how he doesn’t want players to use a football game to make a point.

On September 27, weeks before Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made it clear that he would bench players who did not stand for the anthem, Trump tweeted about a conversation he had with Jones. In an interview on Monday with NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, Jones admitted that Trump had reminded him of the mechanism he used to beat back the players’ demonstration. Trump then congratulated Jones for agreeing to bench players who did protest.

This is how Trump’s bullying works — but not without a few fascinating wrinkles. One comes courtesy of Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles, son of NFL legend Howie Long, who tweeted a suggestion on Monday that Trump might be breaking the law. Here’s the tweet:
I'm no more a law expert than he is a world leader but this sounds familiar.

— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) October 10, 2017

What Long linked to was U.S. Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 11, Section 227, which is titled, “Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch.” It states:

(a) Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity —

(1) takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act, or

(2) influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

(b) In this section, the term “covered government person” means —

(1) a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress;

(2) an employee of either House of Congress; or

(3) the President, Vice President, an employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission, or any other executive branch employee (as such term is defined under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code).

Like Chris Long, I’m not an attorney, but I can read, and this damn sure sounds exactly what Trump has done to influence team owners in the NFL. The question is whether Trump’s actions represent “official acts” — which the law defines as official government actions — for Trump’s anti-NFL push to be a violation of the law. His actions are unethical at best, but could be illegal, too.

What’s inarguable is that the president of the United States is clearly violating the spirit of the law: He is using his influence, and even threats, to impact employment decisions by NFL team owners and the league commissioner. Not only has he called them out from the stage and in interviews, but he has called them out on his huge social media platform. Furthermore, he has openly admitted to having phone calls with team owners on the subject, and then congratulated them when they came forward to take the position he wanted them to take.

Yesterday, Trump tweeted that maybe the NFL should lose the tax breaks the league and teams have at times received:

Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017

Shortly afterward, the NFL sent out a memo, in which the NFL commissioner, for the first time, made it clear he wants every player to stand for the national anthem. Trump was ecstatic.

At least one of Trump’s most influential supporters, the disgraced Fox News commentator Eric Bolling, suggested Trump’s online threats against NFL as the primary reason the league had a very public shift on the issue. In other words, Bolling seems to believe Trump influenced the NFL’s policies and practices.

At every sporting event in this country, thousands of people can be seen ignoring the anthem, buying refreshments, talking on their cellphones, and taking bathroom breaks. Trump doesn’t care about that. A player from the Houston Astros was just photographed wearing American flag underwear, which apparently violated the U.S. Flag Code, while celebrating players drenched him in alcohol. Not a single person in this country believes Trump is about to call out the Astros or call that player a son of a bitch.

That’s because, for Trump, none of this is about the flag or the anthem. It’s about anti-blackness and the culture war. That’s why, in the NBA, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich can call out Trump, by name, over and over again, and Trump won’t even mention him. Popovich is not only white but also a revered legend in Texas. And yet Trump strangely called out Stephen Curry from the Warriors — but not his coach, Steve Kerr, who has called Trump out by name several times. Trump is looking for opponents and enemies from the sports world that will excite his base. Yesterday, he called out ESPN’s Jemele Hill, a black woman.

In the scheme of all that Trump has done, it’s easy to dismiss his violation of the spirit of the law as small potatoes, but such a dismissal is a troubling sign of our times. It appears that Trump is able to say or do whatever he wants.

The post Did Trump Break the Law by Telling NFL Owners to Fire Players? appeared first on The Intercept.

The Ritual of Silence in an Age of Mass Shootings

11 October 2017 - 1:29pm

On October 1, Stephen Paddock barricaded himself in his Las Vegas hotel room with two dozen guns and opened fire on a country music festival some 30 floors below, killing more than 50 people and wounding hundreds of others. The term of art for this type of rampage, a “mass shooting,” has no universal definition. As a result, formal tallies have concluded that these events occur anywhere from a few dozen times a year to once every single day.

Around the end of 2015, after 14 people were shot dead at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, news outlets began referring to an “age of mass shootings” in the United States. Every age has its rituals, and ours is no different. The “moment of silence” that public officials invoke to commemorate each new rampage may have its roots in religious practices that predate this era, but its function is entirely contemporary. It imbues a worldly, empirically demonstrable phenomenon with cosmic significance, absolving officials otherwise charged with confronting public problems. There is no way to prevent an act of God.

The moment of silence signifies not only what we do not understand about gun violence — in part because Congress bullied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into defunding almost all targeted research on the issue two decades ago — but also what we understand but do not wish to acknowledge: that gun suicides claim more than 20,000 lives in the United States annually; that American women are 11 times more likely to be shot and killed than their counterparts in other high-income countries; that black men account for 6 percent of the U.S. population but half of its gun homicide victims.

Tackling these phenomena would require both a reckoning with entrenched gender and racial hierarchies as well as a disavowal of the enduring myth of the heroic gunslinger, which promotes the use of lethal implements — the U.S. has as many privately owned guns as it does people — in these already deadly scenarios. It would also require a disavowal of (and divestment from) the hugely profitable industry responsible for supplying these firearms to an eager polity.

The same officials invoking a moment of silence may insist that it’s too soon to politicize a tragedy. But the silence that commemorates these victims cannot prevent their deaths from being sullied by politics. Instead, it only ensures the political conditions that led to their deaths will endure to claim new victims.

Video by Moiz Syed. Text by John Thomason.

The post The Ritual of Silence in an Age of Mass Shootings appeared first on The Intercept.

Puerto Rico Relief Bill Cancels $16 Billion in Debt — But Not for Puerto Rico

11 October 2017 - 12:01pm

House Republicans unveiled a $36.5 billion disaster relief supplemental package on Tuesday night, intended to pay for relief and rebuilding efforts for the floods, hurricanes, and wildfires of the past several months. It includes money for Puerto Rico’s ongoing struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, though only a fraction of that headline number. In fact, $5 billion of the funds earmarked for Puerto Rico comes in the form of a loan, increasing the amount of money the island will eventually need to pay back.

And in a cruel irony, the bill also contains $16 billion in debt relief – just not for Puerto Rico’s crushing debt.

The full House chamber will vote on the bill from the House Appropriations Committee this week. Here’s a breakdown of the $36.5 billion in aid that the committee proposed:

There’s $576.5 million in U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior grants for wildfire suppression and management. The west in particular has been rocked by a dangerous wildfire season, including ongoing blazes in Northern California that have killed 17.

Another $18.67 billion is intended to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund, particularly for events caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That means Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands will share that money, as determined by FEMA. The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General gets $10 million of that for audits and investigations of the use of relief funds.

Puerto Rico will get a loan of $4.9 billion out of that same pot, money to be used for maintaining basic government operations. President Trump had previously requested that amount in a loan form. With practically no tax receipts collected since last month’s hurricane destroyed the island – 85 percent of homes remain without power three weeks after the storm – Puerto Rico faces a cash-flow crisis. Officials estimate that the government could run out of money and have to shut down on October 31.

This is critical for Puerto Rico, which has trouble borrowing from private credit markets because of its existing $74 billion debt. But instead of replenishing the coffers with a grant, this is a loan — one Puerto Rico will also need to repay.

The island will get an additional $150 million loan to cover its matching funds for FEMA grants. Cities and states are required to put a small amount of money into sharing costs for disaster relief. That brings the total of loans to the island up to $5.05 billion. The appropriations committee allotted another $29 million for administrative expenses for the loan.

The bill includes a provision enabling the Department of Homeland Security and the Treasury Department to decide to cancel the loan, but that’s no guarantee. And those two agencies set the terms of repayment; while news reports have described a “low-interest” loan, there’s no set interest rate in the text of the bill.

If you’re keeping up with the math, that leaves $13.58 billion of the $18.67 billion in disaster relief. Puerto Rico would have to share that amount with two far more populous states and another territory.

There is one definitive grant to Puerto Rico in the bill: $1.27 billion for “disaster nutrition assistance,” which is basically an extension of the food stamp program for citizens affected by the hurricane. This type of assistance is standard for disaster areas in the continental United States but needs to be enumerated for the territory.

The final $16 billion in the bill goes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), battered by claims payouts from the season’s hurricanes, particularly in Houston after Harvey. And this is where the bill takes on an almost comic level of bad optics.

The way the flood insurance program works is that homeowners pay premiums and file claims when they encounter flood damage. Because premiums are too low and people still build in flood plains over and over, the program has not been able to keep up. So NFIP took out a line of credit with the Treasury Department — capped by law at $30.4 billion — to cover claims. Last month, NFIP reached that borrowing ceiling.

Funds to pay claims are expected to run out this month, so the House bill cancels $16 billion of NFIP’s debt. “To the extent of the amount cancelled… the National Flood Insurance Fund are relieved of all liability to the Secretary of the Treasury under any such notes or other obligations,” the bill states. “The amount of the indebtedness cancelled… may be treated as public debt of the United States.”

This is like the famous meme of the guy checking out a girl with his girlfriend standing right next to him, only the guy is the GOP, the girl he’s checking out is the NFIP, and the girlfriend is Puerto Rico. In a bill intended to give relief to Puerto Rico, the island gets a thin amount of guaranteed aid and a vague level of other funding, along with $5 billion in loans. Meanwhile, in the words of President Donald Trump, the NFIP gets its debt “wiped out.”

The difference between NFIP and Puerto Rico is that the Treasury Department holds the former’s debt, while the island owes money to private investors. Still, Congress has the ability to change the terms of Puerto Rico’s current bankruptcy-style process, or even to buy up that debt eminent domain-style for what it deems just compensation, only to cancel it later. And Congress could certainly give Puerto Rico grants rather than another $5 billion in loans to deal with. Meanwhile, creditors will be lining up to try to claim portions of the aid intended for Puerto Rico, a complication Democrats in Congress are working to sort out. Getting their hedge-fund hands on the loan money could legally prove more difficult. 

The House will vote on the bill this week, and the Senate is likely to follow next week. The bill is in line with White House requests for disaster aid and bridge funding for Puerto Rico, so Trump would likely sign it.

Meanwhile, activist groups have turned their focus to Puerto Rico, with environmental groups demanding mass debt relief from Congress and teaming up with community organizations for a national day of action.

Top photo: President Donald Trump takes part in a food and supply distribution at the Cavalry Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico on Oct. 3, 2017.

Top photo: A man walks through a road that has been turned into a river caused by heavy rains after Hurricane Maria passed through on October 6, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico.

The post Puerto Rico Relief Bill Cancels $16 Billion in Debt — But Not for Puerto Rico appeared first on The Intercept.

The Big Secret Behind a “Small Business” Pushing Trump’s Tax Plan

11 October 2017 - 11:19am

In a bid to win public support for President Donald Trump’s tax cut proposal, lobbyists recently unveiled a website called Tax Reform for America, featuring tools for contacting legislators and testimonials of “fellow taxpayers” to explain why the legislation is necessary.

The promotional website prominently features Loretta Lepore, a small business owner from Atlanta, Georgia, as an ordinary American who would benefit from a tax cut.

“The tax system is so complex that it puts an undue burden on small businesses instead of allowing us to allocate resources back into our businesses and back into our people,” Lepore says in her testimonial. “Tax reform needs to be addressed, to be simplified for every American and every small business across the country.”

Testimonial from Tax Reform for America website.

The nature of Lepore’s small business, however, is never disclosed.

She runs a consultancy that serves big businesses. Lepore’s LLC is registered to lobby on behalf of one of the biggest expected winners of tax reform: Cisco Systems, the California-based technology conglomerate that’s poised to reap a windfall of billions of dollars from a reduction in the corporate tax rate.

In order to avoid paying U.S. federal taxes, Cisco has about $68 billion in earnings in overseas accounts. The company is expected to repatriate a large portion of those funds if corporate tax rates are dramatically lowered. The repatriation dynamic positions Cisco — along with Apple and Microsoft — as one of the companies that stands to gain the most from the tax plan proposed by Republicans.

If Cisco repatriates its overseas cash, don’t expect a sudden rush of investment into new jobs. Kelly Kramer, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Cisco, told a conference of financial analysts in June that the company expects to use the cash to reward investors. Kramer said she expects to use tax reform to “grow to our dividend” and become a “lot more aggressive on the buyback,” referring to efforts to provide a short-term boost to the company’s stock price by buying its own shares on the marketplace.

The Tax Reform for America site is part of a campaign managed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest private sector lobbying organization in the country. The Chamber claims it is the “voice for business,” representing “mom-and-pop shops.” But the business association is largely funded by a relatively small number of massive corporate interests, including Fortune 100 firms such as Microsoft and Dow Chemical.

Top photo: A sign in front of the Cisco Systems headquarters in San Jose, Calif. on Aug. 17, 2016.

The post The Big Secret Behind a “Small Business” Pushing Trump’s Tax Plan appeared first on The Intercept.

New Jersey Teachers Union Backs Pro-Trump Candidate, Warning Democrats Not to Take Educators for Granted

11 October 2017 - 7:00am

In an otherwise predictable New Jersey election season, the state’s largest public sector union has come out behind a Trump-supporting Republican facing an incumbent Democrat. The New Jersey Education Association, which is New Jersey’s top political spender, is backing Republican Fran Grenier against Steve Sweeney, the Democratic state Senate president and New Jersey’s second most-powerful elected official. The controversial endorsement has angered liberal allies, but the union remains unapologetic in its message: Democrats cannot take teachers for granted.

It’s a contentious move, but one that is unlikely to change the ultimate outcome of the election. Democrats are expected to control all three branches of government after November, a major turning point for the Garden State. After seven years under Republican Gov. Chris Christie — a man boasting an impressively low 15 percent approval rating — a majority of voters are expected to cast their ballot for Phil Murphy, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate running against the GOP’s Kim Guadagno. And with a state legislature that’s also expected to remain blue, progressives have been eagerly anticipating their chance to start reversing the policies of Christie’s tenure.

That explains why the NJEA has decided to spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in what’s shaping up to be the most expensive legislative race in state history to try to unseat Sweeney: The union feels the top Democrat has betrayed it one too many times.

In late September, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear Janus v. AFSCME, a case that could strike a mortal blow to the NJEA and other public sector unions across the country. Through the case, which mirrors a similar suit that reached the high court in 2016 but ended in a 4-4 deadlock following Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death, union opponents hope to outlaw “agency fees” — mandatory dues all union members must pay for collective bargaining. The NJEA’s controversial endorsement has jeopardized Democratic support at such a precarious moment for unions, especially for someone who appears so at odds with labor’s goals, and has left many liberals squirming. The move has also baffled others in the labor movement — Sweeney is backed by the AFT (the state’s smaller teachers union), the AFL-CIO, the UCFW, UNITE Here, SEIU, AFSCME, among others.

At the same time, many progressives have also long wanted unions to take a more aggressive stance against Democrats who happily court labor’s campaign contributions, yet fail to push for a strong pro-worker agenda once in office. The NJEA’s leadership, which has defended its endorsement by saying it is “not an arm of the Democratic Party” — echoes some of the rhetoric of more left-leaning activists who urge unions to actively challenge more corporate, Wall Street-aligned Democrats. Yet it’s one thing to primary an establishment candidate from the left, and another to campaign hard for a Republican during the general.

Sweeney, who first joined the state Senate in 2002, became majority leader in 2007 and Senate president in 2010. His relationship with the NJEA began to sour in 2011 when he pushed forward a deal with Christie that limited pension and health benefits for public sector workers. The union says Sweeney has continued to cozy up with Christie and has failed to forcefully criticize the governor’s underfunding of public education. The relationship deteriorated even further last year when Sweeney walked back on a promise to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to fully fund pensions, and then accused the NJEA of bribery and extortion.

This past March, the NJEA declared it would try to unseat Sweeney, but there were no Democrats willing to primary him. The union could have chosen to give no endorsement and still run negative ads against Sweeney, but the NJEA instead decided to endorse his Republican challenger along with running attack ads.

“This is Jersey politics, not tiddlywinks,” Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, told The Intercept. “It’s tough, it’s rough, people hit each other in the face, and when you get knocked down you get back up.”

Still, the controversial endorsement has drawn fire from Democratic leaders, who say it forces the party to spend money defending Sweeney’s seat when they should be funding Democratic candidates in more competitive districts.

“It’s wrong, it’s mind-boggling, and it doesn’t help their reputation,” Joe Vitale, one of the legislature’s most prominent liberals, told

In mid-September, 16 Democratic state senators sent a letter to NJEA President Marie Blistan calling her union’s endorsement “inconceivable” and one that would carry damaging consequences for the party, Murphy, New Jersey, and the NJEA. “We understand that you have had differences with Senator Sweeney, but how can that possibly justify endorsing and funding a candidate who stands for everything your members oppose?” the state senators wrote. “To put it bluntly, the millions you’re spending on behalf of Fran Grenier is preventing us from spending money on candidates your own PAC has endorsed. The NJEA’s actions contradict your promise and ours to teachers throughout New Jersey to fight for their best interests, especially in the face of politicians unfriendly to education like Donald Trump, Chris Christie and Fran Grenier.”

By early August, both sides had already spent nearly $1 million on television ads, an unusually high amount, especially so far out from November. Travis Ridout, a political science professor and the director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks all broadcast ads in federal and state elections across the country, told The Intercept that political advertising in state senate races usually doesn’t occur until fairly close to Election Day — and spending levels are still fairly low in those races. “In fact,” he added, “most state legislative races don’t see any TV advertising at all.”

In July, Lily García, president of the National Education Association, the NJEA’s parent organization and the largest labor union in the United States, gave a speech saying she “will not allow the National Education Association to be used by Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos” and that her union “will not find common ground with an administration that is cruel and callous to our children and their families.” The NEA primarily, but not exclusively, backs Democrats for office.

When asked for comment on the NJEA’s endorsement of Grenier, the NEA told The Intercept it does not weigh in on endorsements from its affiliates.

Steve Baker, an NJEA spokesperson, declined to share the union’s candidate screening questionnaires with The Intercept, but said that union members felt comfortable recommending Grenier for endorsement after talking with him about a “wide range” of issues. NJEA’s Executive Director Ed Richardson offered a bit more insight in an interview with NJTV News, saying that after putting Grenier through an extensive screening process, the union felt he aligned with their positions — specifically on school funding, charter schools, pensions, and privatization.

Local New Jersey media has described Grenier as an arch-conservative, a climate-science denier, and someone who has demeaned public employees. Though he was a member of the electrical workers union from 1995 to 2005, the president of his former local, which endorsed Sweeney, said Grenier “was not a union guy.”

In an interview with The Intercept, Grenier confirmed he supports President Donald Trump’s policies, though he thinks the president “could reign in the Twitter a little.” He praised “the direction that [Trump] is taking the country as far as the amount of illegal immigrants coming across the border, and for upholding the laws of the country.” Grenier is also backing Phil Murphy’s gubernatorial opponent, Kim Guadagno.

Grenier told The Intercept that during his NJEA screening process, he made clear that if he were elected, he would not be willing to take on more debt, but he’d support identifying and eliminating inefficiencies in the state budget to potentially support new initiatives. “We need to stop borrowing, we’re already the most taxed residents in the country,” he said. “What I told them is I’m a fiscal conservative who has led Salem County in reducing their debt, and we’ve done so without layoffs. I will bring that fiscal responsibility to Trenton.”

Critics charge that Grenier supports Christie’s regressive school funding ideas, though Grenier told The Intercept that’s not true and he’s “not really familiar” with Christie’s plans. “Someone reported I supported Christie’s plan, but I don’t really know the details of it, and my comments at the time were focused on looking at whatever other states are doing to fund their education,” he said. He added that some New Jersey school districts are overfunded, and others are underfunded, because “powerful Democrats can manipulate things so some schools suffer.”

Controversially, Sweeney also maintains that school districts are unequally funded and that some level of redistribution is required, a position at odds with the NJEA, which argues that no existing school budget should be cut. In a C-SPAN interview last month, Sweeney defended his work on school funding reform and touted his support for labor. “I’m a union leader myself, I work for the Ironworkers International Union of North America, and you’re not going to find anybody more union than I am,” he said. “But as a senator I have to look at all members of the community, not just labor, and that’s what I do.”

Teacher and New Jersey Education Association president, Marie Blistan, second right, answers a question, as she stands in front of the Statehouse with others holding a display of photographs entitled “A Blind Eye: the Immorality of Inaction,” in Trenton, N.J., Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013.

Photo: AP

Ultimately, as one of the best-funded candidates, Sweeney is likely to win his race next month. He did not return The Intercept’s requests for comment on NJEA’s Grenier endorsement, but in an interview with NJ Advance Media, he again defended his loyalties to organized labor and working people. “It’s frustrating because [the NJEA is] not being truthful,” he said.

Political analysts suspect the NJEA is pursuing this strategy largely to send a message to other Democratic legislators that if you cross unions one too many times, they’ll come after you, too.

“Sweeney is extremely well-connected, has the resources to combat a barrage of negative attacks, but not every legislator can say that,” said Dworkin. “The fact that the NJEA is not likely to knock off the legislative leader doesn’t mean their strategy isn’t working on some level.”

Others wonder if the NJEA’s hardball approach will come back to bite it, especially if Sweeney is elected and holds a grudge. Yet Dworkin notes that the powerful teachers union tried to oust the former Democratic Senate president in 1991, so this sort of politicking has some precedent in the NJEA’s playbook. With 200,000 members across every district in New Jersey, the union has some latitude. Plus, though the NJEA may take some heat if Democrats lose their races elsewhere in New Jersey, if Murphy (who the NJEA endorsed) is elected, then a veto-proof majority is less important.

Donna Chiera, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, declined to comment on the NJEA’s endorsement, but said she does worry it has diverted too much attention away from the fact that New Jersey has the opportunity to elect a Democratic governor with a Democratic legislature. “My concern is that members are hearing mixed messages, and sometimes when people get mixed messages they don’t vote at all,” she told The Intercept.

Murphy has so far refused to criticize the NJEA for endorsing Grenier. In Politico he was quoted as saying he’s “incredibly honored” to be backed by the teachers union, and yet “at the same time, I’m also on the line with and I’m campaigning with Steve Sweeney.” One Star-Ledger columnist argued that Murphy’s silence will weaken him, as other legislators “will see that he refused to throw a fellow Democrat a life-preserver in his hour of need.”

To some extent, this remains inside baseball for a relatively isolated political district. But as Dworkin put it, for those who follow these things, “it’s one of the more exciting fights.”

Top photo: New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney speaks to a colleague prior to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivering his budget address for fiscal year 2016 to the Legislature, February 24, 2015 at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey.

The post New Jersey Teachers Union Backs Pro-Trump Candidate, Warning Democrats Not to Take Educators for Granted appeared first on The Intercept.

Intercepted Podcast: The White Stuff

11 October 2017 - 6:01am

Subscribe to the Intercepted podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and other platforms. New to podcasting? Click here.


Donald Trump sent Mike Pence on a $250,000 secret mission to protest black protesters at an NFL game. It was like the White House’s own bizarro version of the civil rights movement. This week on Intercepted, acclaimed author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about Trump, Obama, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, the NFL, and much more. The Color of Money: Mehrsa Baradaran breaks down the roots of economic apartheid in the U.S., the ongoing impact of slavery on black communities, and offers a provocative history of black banks. The Egyptian government has launched a targeted assault on LGBTQ people, following a Cairo concert of the popular band Mashrou’ Leila where rainbow flags were waved by the crowd and gender conformity challenged from the stage. We speak with the band’s lead singer Hamed Sinno about being queer and Arab in the Middle East and Trump’s America.

We’re doing a live show this Friday, October 13th, at the Hot Docs Podcast Festival in Toronto. Tickets are still available here.

Transcript coming soon.

The post Intercepted Podcast: The White Stuff appeared first on The Intercept.

“Escola sem partido” quer apagar Paulo Freire da educação brasileira

10 October 2017 - 3:36pm

Um abaixo-assinado online já tem as assinaturas necessárias para que o Senado Federal discuta a retirada do título de patrono da educação brasileira dado ao educador e filósofo Paulo Freire. Segundo o pedido, a filosofia de Freire “ja demonstrou em todas as avaliações internacionais que é um fracasso retumbante”[sic].

A meta inicial era atingir 20 mil assinaturas em quatro meses, número mínimo exigido para que a proposta se torne uma Sugestão Legislativa, a ser debatida pelos senadores membros da Comissão de Direitos Humanos e Legislação Participativa (CDH). Mas em apenas um mês, a ideia já conseguiu mais de 21 mil apoiadores.

Agora caberá aos senadores da Comissão de Direitos Humanos e Legislação Participativa debater e emitir um parecer sobre o assunto. Caso a comissão a aprove, a sugestão se torna proposição legislativa e é encaminhada à Mesa da Casa para tramitar como um projeto de lei.

“Pedagogia do Oprimido” é o único título brasileiro entre os mais requisitados nas listas de leituras de universidades de língua inglesa.

Foto: Divulgação/ Instituto Paulo Freire

A autora da proposta, Steffany Papaiano, é estudante de direito, coordenadora do movimento Direita São Paulo e apoiadora do projeto “Escola Sem Partido”, que endossa a proposta.

Em abril, a convite do deputado Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSC-RJ), Papaiano participou de audiência pública para defender o “Escola sem Partido” na Câmara dos Deputados. Também foi à Assembleia Legislativa de São Paulo no ano passado para fazer lobby pela aprovação do programa no estado — sem sucesso, já que o projeto foi rejeitado.

As contas de Facebook e Twitter de Papaiano foram desativadas. No entanto, graças a seus fãs, é possível verificar na coletânea de tweets, abaixo, o exemplar nível de argumentação usado em debates com figuras públicas: todas as frases terminam com variações da expressão “seu bosta”.

Foto: reprodução/ Facebook

Stefanny, conheça Paulo Freire

Premiado pela UNESCO, Freire foi alçado a Patrono da Educação Brasileira em 2012.

Foto: Divulgação/Instituto Paulo Freire

Premiado pela UNESCO por seu trabalho pela educação brasileira, Freire foi alçado a Patrono da Educação Brasileira em 2012, por meio de lei sancionada pela ex-presidente Dilma Rousseff. O título lhe foi concedido após votação unânime na Comissão de Educação, Cultura e Esporte do Senado, um reflexo de seu reconhecimento tanto por organizações de esquerda quanto de direita.

É o terceiro pensador mais citado atualmente em trabalhos acadêmicos no mundo, segundo levantamento feito pela London School of Economics em 2016. “Pedagogia do Oprimido” é o único título brasileiro a aparecer na lista dos 100 livros mais requisitados nas listas de leituras exigidas pelas universidades de língua inglesa.

Para conhecer melhor a obra de Paulo Freire, clique aqui e tenha acesso ao seu acervo.

À frente de seu tempo

Em um cenário de desmonte da educação pública, de reforma do Ensino Médio e de debates sobre “Escola Sem Partido”, a filosofia de Freire nunca esteve tão atual. Perseguido durante a ditadura, o filósofo via a educação como uma ferramenta de desenvolvimento e não como uma simples transferência de conhecimento.

Os que defendem o projeto de “Escola Sem Partido” alegam que estão preocupados com a capacidade do aluno de desenvolver seu próprio ponto de vista. Se esse fosse de fato o verdadeiro mote do movimento, ninguém iria querer mexer no status de Paulo Freire de patrono da educação já que, para ele, o objetivo do ensino é justamente que cada aluno cresça como um sujeito crítico, construindo sua concepção de mundo compreendendo que não há verdades absolutas, mas sim visões que devem dialogar. O pedagogo defende o diálogo como caminho e o respeito a todas as visões de mundo.

Papaiano pode não saber, mas ao defender que seus pontos de vista — de direita conservadora, como ela deixa claro neste vídeo — sejam respeitados dentro de uma sala de aula, ela está defendendo valores muito presentes na obra de Freire. Independentemente da orientação política de cada um, o que Freire postula é o respeito ao desenvolvimento do sujeito e à construção da sua opinião individual.

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ICE Detainee Punished With Solitary Confinement for Shouting “No Work, No Pay”

10 October 2017 - 2:46pm

In June, officials at a privately run Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in rural Georgia sentenced an immigrant detainee to a month in solitary confinement to punish him for encouraging fellow detainees to stop working in protest of low wages at the facility. Three days after the detainee shouted “no work, no pay” in a facility kitchen, according to ICE records, “the detainee was found guilty of encouraging others to participate in a work stoppage and was sentenced to 30 days of disciplinary segregation.”

Immigrants confined in ICE facilities often work for only a dollar per day, but the immigration agency’s guidelines state that all such work must be voluntary. Earlier this year, a federal judge cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit originally brought by nine ICE detainees alleging that ICE contractor the GEO Group had profited off forced labor in violation of federal anti-slavery laws.

In the case of the Georgia facility, ICE’s records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request simply list “work stoppage” as the reason for using solitary confinement to punish the immigrant detainee, who is originally from Haiti.

In response to questions from The Intercept, ICE did not attempt to defend this use of solitary confinement at the facility, Stewart Detention Center, which is run by private prison contractor CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America).

An ICE spokesperson said that detainee labor at Stewart is governed by the agency’s “voluntary work program,” and sent a link to ICE detention standards, which state, “Detainees shall be able to volunteer for work assignments but otherwise shall not be required to work, except to do personal housekeeping.” The spokesperson told The Intercept to contact CoreCivic for questions regarding the disciplinary action.

Azadeh Shahshahani, an attorney with the Atlanta-based social justice group Project South, who has extensively criticized conditions at Stewart, said in an email that this is not the first hint of forced work at the privately run facility.

“This is extremely disturbing,” Shahshahani said. “We keep hearing from ICE and the prison corporation that the program is ‘voluntary.’ We have always questioned how a labor program in a corporate prison setting for sub-minimum wages could be truly voluntary. In the past, we had documented at least one instance where detained immigrants who did not want to work were threatened with being put in the hole.”

In response to questions about the Haitian immigrant’s placement in solitary confinement, CoreCivic did not provide any details but broadly defended the quality of its services.

“Providing a safe, humane, and appropriate environment for those entrusted to our care is our top priority, and we work in close coordination with our partners at ICE to ensure the well-being of the detainees at Stewart Detention Center,” CoreCivic spokesperson Jonathan Burns said in an email.

Burns also disputed The Intercept’s use of the term solitary confinement to refer to conditions in which detainees are held in isolation for the vast majority of each day.

“CoreCivic does not use ‘solitary confinement’ at Stewart Detention Center (nor at any of our other facilities),” Burns said. “I’d submit to you that using the term in your coverage with regard to Steward [sic] would give readers a false impression of the reality of restricted housing at the facility.”

CoreCivic has previously raised similar objections to this wording. Burns sent The Intercept a list of amenities at the Stewart facility’s restrictive housing unit, including law library access, visitation, mail, visits with ICE, an hour of recreation each day, and access to showers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Burns said that the Stewart facility follows the standards for ICE’s voluntary work program. He did not respond to a question asking whether the Haitian detainee was earning any wage at all for his labor.

Top photo: Detainees at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, are escorted through a corridor.

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As Texas Prepares to Kill Robert Pruett, He Leaves Behind a Literary Indictment of Us All

10 October 2017 - 2:31pm

On Thursday, the state of Texas will kill Robert Pruett.

The 38-year-old has been behind bars since he was 15.

He was arrested in 1995 as an accomplice in his father’s murder of a neighbor; five years later, a prison guard who had given him a disciplinary infraction for eating a sandwich in a hallway was found stabbed to death. Although he continues to maintain that he is innocent, multiple witnesses claimed that Pruett was responsible, and he was sentenced to death for the crime.

For proponents of the death penalty, the events that define Pruett’s life serve as the case for killing him. He spent his pre-prison years in a vortex of violence — getting into fights, stealing, developing a drug addiction. Once he arrived in prison, he briefly flirted with neo-Nazi beliefs, reading “Mein Kampf” and getting a swastika tattoo to intimidate other inmates.

Wherever you fall on the question of Pruett’s guilt or innocence in the prison guard murder, a brief look at his life could make you think that he’s at least the sort of person who may do something like that.

But a person’s life is not defined just by their worst actions. People grow, and they change, and Pruett’s decades in prison gave him time to reflect on the life he had lived. He turned those reflections into an autobiography. It was reviewed in early October by Current Affairs’s Nathan Robinson.

This is probably the most important thing I've written. It was certainly the most difficult to write.

— Nathan J Robinson (@NathanJRobinson) October 9, 2017

The autobiography serves as a sort of sociological self-examination — an attempt by Pruett to understand why his life went the way it did. He writes not to absolve himself of the choices he has made, but to impart why he felt like his options were so limited.

“Why are we the way we are? What causes human behavior? … I believe we can understand ourselves and what influences us through an introspective process that includes an examination of our past experiences and the behavioral patterns in our families,” he writes. “Ultimately, we make our own choices in life, but it helps to know why we are inclined or predisposed to certain types of behavior.”

It is almost a cliche to explain criminal behavior through proverbs about a “bad childhood.” But explaining something and justifying it are two different things, and the more you learn about Pruett’s upbringing, the more remarkable it is that someone so deprived of a nurturing environment could grow to write so profoundly about his life circumstances.

If violent tendencies have a hereditary component, Pruett lost the gene lottery. He describes his father as “the most violent man I ever met”; his father had frequent stints in prison and would get into fights with family and just about anyone else.

Pruett’s family was dirt poor; they were frequently ejected from trailer parks and motel rooms, as his father worked minimum-wage jobs to try to keep them above water.

But being poor in America is often associated with more than just not having money; violence and crime was all around him. His brother Steven was molested by a family member; his mentally disabled sister was raped and placed into a foster home. His drug addiction started early, when he was offered a huff of gasoline from a stranger at age five. Both parents smoked marijuana, and his dad took him along on a marijuana sale to use him as cover.

Pruett’s writing about prison demonstrates that it is a brutal place. He immediately learns to defend himself against prison rape and at first, becomes even more violent.

But spending the rest of your life behind bars gives you a lot of time to think and to read. Pruett read the works of Carl Jung and B.F. Skinner, and developed a fascination with psychology. Eventually, he came to see the forces that pushed him toward anger and violence, and that the same forces acted on African-Americans he came to despise during his flirtation with white nationalist beliefs:

I didn’t realize it back then, but all of my anger and hate regarding race was misdirected and ignorant. I was so pissed off at the system for throwing me away that I needed somewhere to focus my negative energy. As the years passed I opened my eyes and matured, slowly growing out of that convoluted ideology on race. Today, I realize that there is no pure race; we all share DNA and we all sprang from the same source…. I understand that more often than not socioeconomic factors play the largest role in how people are treated. The rich and famous have it made; while the poor outcasts from both the ghetto and trailer park have it rough. My hope is that as society evolves, we’ll erase the things that separate and divide us such as race and class.

After being sent to death row, Pruett developed friendships with fellow inmates. As they were executed one by one, he came to the conclusion that the people being executed are no longer the same people they were in the moment of their crimes:

The thing is, they aren’t killing the same people who committed the crimes. It takes years for the appeals to run their course and in that time people change. Sure, some are just dangerous as the day they arrived, and I’m not saying everyone’s some kind of angel, but so many have grown and matured in here and found their true Self. Many have realized the errors of their ways and would be productive members of society if they were given the chance. Even with a life in prison, these guys had much to offer humanity, not to mention the loved ones left with the scars of their murders.

When Pruett is executed on Thursday, he won’t be the same young man who stood and watched his father kill a neighbor over a petty argument, or who may or may not have murdered a prison guard for the same reason. His writing makes clear that he is a deeply reflective person who sought to understand the forces bearing down on him for the first time.

Last week, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of Pruett’s case. Because the United States is not one of the 105 countries that have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, Pruett’s journey of self-discovery and redemption will end on Thursday, when the state of Texas will kill him.

Top photo: A holding cell for death row inmates that are scheduled to be executed in the Texas death chamber June 23, 2000 in Huntsville, TX.

The post As Texas Prepares to Kill Robert Pruett, He Leaves Behind a Literary Indictment of Us All appeared first on The Intercept.

Nos EUA, Jair Bolsonaro oferece promessas vagas para empresários e “carta branca para a polícia matar”

10 October 2017 - 1:42pm

Tarde de outono em Deerfield Beach, Flórida, temperatura batendo os 30 graus e brasileiros legais e ilegais permaneciam firmes, em fila, para ver e ouvir as propostas de Jair Bolsonaro, caso ele seja eleito o próximo presidente do Brasil. Entre gritos de “mito, mito, mito” e “fila é uma coisa muito brasileira”, centenas de pessoas se amontoavam para esperar o “presidente” chegar.

No evento, realizado neste domingo (8) num bar brasileiro a 45 minutos de carro de Miami, não houve protestos contrários à presença de Bolsonaro. Essa foi só uma das paradas da viagem do deputado pelas terras de Trump. Com a ideia de angariar apoio estrangeiro para sua candidatura presidencial em 2018 e estruturar a imagem de liberal sério, estão previstas visitas – e protestos – em Massachusetts, Nova York e Washington D.C.

Fila de espera para o evento de Jair Bolsonaro em Deerfield Beach, Flórida no dia 8 de outubro de 2017.

Foto: Andrew Fishman/The Intercept

O Tour Bolsonaro está sendo apoiado por grupos interessados e investidores brasileiros que apostam numa imagem mais sóbria, com foco na economia liberal. E isso foi ao encontro do exposto pelo deputado. Apesar de as pessoas ouvidas por The Intercept Brasil priorizarem o problema da violência como o motivo para migrar para a Flórida, Bolsonaro — entre desvios para reclamar de Marxistas e atacar a imprensa — tentou focar seu discurso na esfera econômica, demonstrando uma visão claramente patronal.

Ele endossou o fim da CLT, a redução de impostos, a desburocratização para empresas, uma resolução para que “a questão indígena” não limite o desenvolvimento do agronegócio, “a tal de parceria público-privada” para abrir mais investimentos dos EUA e uma lei antiterrorista mais dura para “evitar que os marginais, os terroristas do MST continuem barbarizando lá no Brasil”. “Eu não vou fazer uma política de massa, chama ‘o trabalhador, o trabalhador’. Não, tudo bem, o trabalhador tem seu valor, mas o patrão também”, discursou o deputado.

“Eu não vou aqui ser o Jairzinho Paz e Amor”

Mas, no fim, a essência de Jair prevaleceu: “Eu vou dar carta branca para a polícia matar”. E então, a plateia, que já estava animada, foi à loucura: “Mito, mito, mito!”

No evento de mais de duas horas, o que emergiu foi mais do mesmo, a velha visão política: o Estado deve fazer tudo que puder para servir aos interesses financeiros da classe empresarial tradicional e usar os mecanismos de repressão física, política e cultural para combater qualquer ameaça. Essa postura sempre teve um lugar proeminente na governança do Brasil, mas o que o Bolsonaro propõe é tirar as luvas e redobrar o esforço.

Apesar de fazer chacota com o jornal Valor Econômico, que o comparou a Dilma no quesito economia, de fato ele não apresentou novas ideias para alcançar as mudanças econômicas desejadas. E, de fato, ele repetiu as propostas “desburocratização”, hidrelétricas, PPPs, fortalecimento do agronegócio e investimento em pesquisa científica para fortalecer a indústria. Todas estas opções estavam na cartilha de Dilma Rousseff.

Nas palavras do próprio Jair Bolsonaro: “A imprensa fala que eu não entendo da economia. Olha, pelo que eu sei, o Ronald Reagan também não sabia e ele foi um dos melhores presidentes americanos.” (Mas há controvérsias.)

Outro presidente americano que pouco entende de economia e que o Bolsonaro elogiou foi Donald Trump. “O que eu falo lá é muito parecido com o Trump aqui. … Então, acho que com a questão do Trump, se eu chegar lá, pode ter certeza que ele vai ter um grande aliado no hemisfério sul.”

Os paralelos entre os dois políticos foram evidentes no domingo, e se for para aprender algo da vitoriosa campanha de Trump, é que grande parte do seu apoio não veio porque os eleitores o acharam mais coerente, consistente ou qualificado. Muitas pessoas votaram em Trump porque interpretavam que o país estava no caminho errado, liderado por uma classe política corrupta e desconectada da realidade. Então apostaram nele como a melhor chance para fazer mudanças drásticas em pouco tempo — porque, para elas, isso seria menos assustador do que mais do mesmo.

The post Nos EUA, Jair Bolsonaro oferece promessas vagas para empresários e “carta branca para a polícia matar” appeared first on The Intercept.