The Intercept

Liderada por Jeremy Corbyn, esquerda britânica sai das sombras e caminha em direção ao poder

12 June 2017 - 10:33am

Obrigado, Jeremy Corbyn.

Não é exagero dizer que o líder do Partido Trabalhista britânico está mudando a política progressista no Reino Unido – e, por que não, no Ocidente. O socialista barbudo de 68 anos é a prova viva de que uma proposta de esquerda, sem pudores nem remorsos, está longe de ser inviável – pelo contrário, ela é bem possível. Os resultados da eleição britânica da última quinta-feira confirmam que o idealismo entusiasmado não deve ser sacrificado no altar do pragmatismo político.

Nos tempos sombrios e deprimentes em que estamos vivendo, de Trump e Brexit, dos efeitos da Grande Recessão e da ascensão da extrema-direita, Corbyn veio para nos lembrar que a política da esperança pode fazer frente à política do medo. Milhões de pessoas querem votar em um líder que prega otimismo em vez de pessimismo, inspiração em vez de irritação.

Corbyn provou que a difamada juventude pode ser a força motriz da mudança. Contrariamente ao que diz o senso comum, eleitores jovens não são preguiçosos, indiferentes ou apáticos, mas comparecem aos bandos para apoiar um líder que os motiva e empolga. Um líder que lhes dá não só motivos para votar, ao prometer a abolição das anuidades nas universidades, o aumento do salário mínimo e um novo programa de habitação popular, mas também para acreditar: em uma luta conjunta, em um futuro melhor, em uma sociedade mais igual. Em alguma coisa, que já é melhor do que nada.

Corbyn mostrou que é possível construir uma aliança entre jovens, negros, minorias étnicas, liberais cosmopolitas e até mesmo as “temidas” comunidades brancas de classe média. Não é verdade que líderes de esquerda tenham que escolher entre uns e outros ou jogar uns contra os outros. Centenas de milhares de eleitores brancos do norte do país que tinham votado no partido antieuropeu UKIP voltaram a escolher os trabalhistas.

Socialistas e social-democratas não precisam mais ficar na defensiva. Tudo bem, os partidos tradicionais de centro-esquerda foram mesmo esmagados em eleições recentes pela Europa, na França e Holanda, por exemplo. Mas Corbyn – que passou 32 anos atuando nos bastidores do Parlamento, longe dos holofotes, antes de se tornar líder do seu partido em 2015 – está abrindo caminho para que a esquerda saia das sombras.

Que fique claro, o Partido Trabalhista não ganhou as eleições gerais britânicas. O Partido Conservador de Theresa May conseguiu mais votos e mais cadeiras. Mas, mais uma vez, não é exagero ressaltar a grandeza da conquista eleitoral de Corbyn, reconhecida até mesmo por seus maiores críticos. Com exceção das duas vitórias esmagadoras de Tony Blair em 1997 e 2001, foi o maior percentual de votos no Partido Trabalhista (40%) desde 1970. Em relação à eleição anterior, significa um crescimento de quase 10%. É o maior aumento de uma eleição para outra desde que o partido estourou no pós-guerra com o emblemático líder Clement Attlee, em 1945.

E isso tudo apesar de Corbyn ter começado a campanha com uma desvantagem de mais de 20 pontos percentuais em relação aos conservadores. O candidato trabalhista foi desprezado por políticos e especialistas de todo o espectro político e sabotado por integrantes de seu próprio partido. Foi também vítima de uma campanha de demonização sem precedentes, levada a cabo por veículos de direita. Foi ainda acusado de simpatizar com o terrorismo, ridicularizado por ter esquecido dados sobre vários programas do governo, tratado de “pé no saco” e “excêntrico”.

“Levar a sério as possibilidades de vitória de Corbyn significava abrir mão de ser levado a sério”, escreveu Gary Younge no Guardian, na véspera da eleição. “Era o que a classe política passava para a mídia, que, por sua vez, imprimia e transmitia essa visão para o resto do país (…). Quem importava ficava a par dessa avaliação. Quem não ficava a par, por definição, não importava.”

Na última quinta-feira, esse grupo deixado de lado provou que importa, sim. E o calado e modesto Corbyn provou que ele era mesmo um candidato sério e viável para o mais alto cargo do país. De acordo com uma análise feita após a eleição, ficaram faltando apenas 2.227 votos, em sete distritos decisivos, para que ele se tornasse primeiro-ministro, à frente de uma coalizão progressista que seria formada pelos trabalhistas e outros partidos menores do Parlamento.

Agora, os que o criticaram tentam se fazer de humildes e reconhecer o feito de Corbyn. O líder trabalhista bem que podia usar aquele famoso barbarismo de George W. Bush: “Me subestimaram mal”.

Para ser sincero, eu também “o subestimei mal”. Deixa eu contar uma coisa: eu conheço Corbyn pessoalmente e partilho de muitas das suas opiniões políticas. Nunca duvidei da integridade ou da honestidade dele. Mas nem eu esperava que ele fosse alcançar 40% dos votos, impedindo May de ter maioria no Parlamento. Não imaginava que os trabalhistas fossem ganhar cadeiras nos distritos de Canterbury, que vota nos conservadores há 99 anos, de Kensington ou de Chelsea, o mais rico do Reino Unido e berço do Daily Mail. Como muitas outras pessoas de esquerda, não quis acreditar que a possibilidade de Corbyn se tornar primeiro-ministro era bem real, não apenas um sonho louco e progressista.

Eu estava enganado. Completamente, totalmente, extremamente enganado. Mas nunca estive tão feliz com um erro.

Eu devia ter prestado mais atenção. O ridicularizado Corbyn tinha um plano bem claro desde o início. “A política da esperança não é uma reação inevitável à falência da política”, afirmou ele em um discurso na London School of Economics em maio de 2016. “A política da esperança tem de ser reconstruída.” O líder dos trabalhistas explicou que essa reconstrução exigia três coisas. Primeiramente, “uma visão inspiradora de que a política tem o poder de fazer a diferença na vida das pessoas”. Em segundo lugar, “a confiança – as pessoas têm de acreditar que podemos e iremos mudar as coisas para a melhor”. Terceiro, “o envolvimento e o engajamento popular para tornar os primeiros dois pontos possíveis”.

O senador Bernie Sanders, de Vermont, durante um comício em Las Vegas (14/02/2016).

Foto: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Corbyn foi bem-sucedido nas três frentes, como Bernie Sanders também foi. Ele conseguiu mobilizar uma quantidade enorme de pessoas para trabalhar na organização da campanha, ir aos comícios e bater de porta em porta. Ele subverteu a velha lógica ortodoxa e se recusou a abraçar a austeridade, a demonizar imigrantes, a forçar guerras pelo mundo. E adivinhe só: para ganhar 40% dos votos, você não precisa ficar preso nessa triangulação. Também não precisa bajular os reacionários antiliberais do Mail ou dos veículos de imprensa do Murdoch para conquistar os votos da classe média inglesa.

Nem Corbyn nem Sanders ganharam suas respectivas eleições. Mas chegaram muito perto. Eles só precisam de um pouco mais de tempo. “One more heave” (“Só mais um empurrão”), o polêmico slogan da campanha do liberal Jeremy Thorpe em 1974, não soa mais tão pejorativo. Com o Parlamento dividido e Theresa May sendo atacada pelo próprio partido, a próxima eleição pode acontecer em questão de meses. As casas de apostas agora pagam menos para os apostadores que acreditam que Corbyn será o próximo primeiro-ministro. Uma pesquisa de opinião feita logo após as eleições mostra que o líder trabalhista empata com a adversária conservadora na pergunta “quem seria o melhor primeiro-ministro?”. Depois dos resultados surpreendentes da semana passada, cadeiras que eram dadas como certas pelos conservadores agora são postas em dúvida; assentos duvidosos para os trabalhistas agora são considerados como garantidos.

Enquanto isso, aqui nos Estados Unidos, o “corbynesco” Sanders vai se tornando o político mais popular do país. Se as primárias democratas para as eleições de 2020 fossem amanhã, ele ganharia fácil. Algumas pesquisas de opinião sugerem que ele poderia até ter derrotado Trump em novembro.

Presidente Sanders? Primeiro-ministro Corbyn? Esses sonhos progressistas podem se tornar realidade. A esquerda pode estar finalmente saindo da letargia. Logo, os ataques por parte da direita só tendem a aumentar. Mas o que diz mesmo aquela frase atribuída a Gandhi? “Primeiro, eles ignoram você; depois, riem de você; em seguida, brigam com você; e aí, você vence”.

Foto no topo: Jeremy Corbyn, líder do Partido Trabalhista, chega a seu distrito eleitoral, em Londres, pouco antes da divulgação do resultado das eleições, na sexta-feira, 9 de junho de 2017.

Tradução: Carla Camargo Fanha

The post Liderada por Jeremy Corbyn, esquerda britânica sai das sombras e caminha em direção ao poder appeared first on The Intercept.

Jeremy Corbyn Is Leading the Left Out of the Wilderness and Toward Power

11 June 2017 - 10:10am

Thank you, Jeremy Corbyn.

It is no exaggeration to say that the British Labour Party leader has changed progressive politics in the UK, and perhaps the wider West too, for a generation. The bearded, 68-year-old, self-declared socialist has proved that an unashamedly, unabashedly, unapologetically left-wing offer is not the politics of the impossible but, rather, a politics of the very much possible. Last Thursday’s election result in the UK is a ringing confirmation that stirring idealism need not be sacrificed at the altar of political pragmatism.

In these dark, depressing times of Trump and Brexit, of the fallout from the Great Recession and the rise of the far right, Corbyn has reminded us that a politics of hope can go toe to toe with a politics of fear. Millions of people will turn out to vote for a leader who preaches optimism over pessimism, who offers inspiration instead of enervation.

Corbyn has proved that the much-maligned young can be a force for change. Younger voters are not lazy, indifferent or apathetic, as the conventional wisdom goes, but will in fact come out in their droves for a leader who motivates and excites them; who gives them not just something to vote for — be it a scrapping of tuition fees or a higher minimum wage or a new house-building program — but something to believe in. A common struggle, a better future, a more equal society. Because something always beats nothing.

Corbyn has showed how it is possible for progressives to build a coalition between the young, people of color and cosmopolitan liberals on the one hand and, yes, those dreaded white working class communities on the other. It is a fiction to claim that leaders on the left must choose between them, or play one marginalized group off against another. White ex-UKIP voters in the north of the country returned to Labor last week in their hundreds of thousands.

So socialists and social democrats no longer need be on the defensive. Yes, mainstream center-left parties may have been crushed in recent European elections — think of France or the Netherlands. However, Corbyn — who spent 32 years toiling in obscurity on the backbenches before becoming leader of his party in a shock victory in 2015 — has now a paved a road out of the wilderness.

To be clear: the Labour Party did not win the the UK’s general election. Theresa May’s Conservatives secured more votes and more seats. Yet it is difficult to overstate — as even Corbyn’s biggest critics have now conceded — the sheer size of his electoral achievement. Labour’s 40% share of the national vote is its highest since 1970, with the exception of Tony Blair’s two landslide wins in 1997 and 2001. Last Thursday’s election also saw the the biggest increase in vote share for Labour — nearly 10% — since the party’s post-war blowout in 1945 under iconic leader Clement Attlee.

All of this despite Corbyn having begun the campaign more than 20 percentage points behind the Conservatives; having been written off by politicians and pundits from across the spectrum and relentlessly undermined by members of his own parliamentary party; and having endured an unprecedented campaign of demonization by the right-wing press. Corbyn, lest we forget, was smeared as a terrorist sympathizer; ridiculed for forgetting the details of various policies; dismissed as a crank and an eccentric.

“To take Labour’s prospects seriously under Corbyn was to abandon being taken seriously yourself,” wrote the Guardian’s Gary Younge on the eve of the election. “The political class imparted as much to the media class, and the media class duly printed and broadcast it… The wisdom was distributed to all who mattered. Those who did not receive it did not, by definition, matter.”

On Thursday, they proved once and for all that they mattered. And the quiet, unassuming Corbyn proved that he was indeed a serious and viable candidate for the highest office in the land — one analysis found that a mere 2,227 votes, in seven swing seats, blocked him from becoming prime minister at the head of a “progressive” coalition of Labour and the other smaller parties in parliament.

As former critics of his now help themselves to bigger and bigger slices of humble pie, the Labour leader may want to consider borrowing George W. Bush’s famous malaproprism: “They misunderestimated me.”

To be honest, I “misunderestimated” him as well. Full disclosure: I know Corbyn personally and share many of his political positions. I have never doubted his integrity or his honesty. Yet even I did not expect he would win 40% of the vote or prevent May from winning a majority in parliament. I did not imagine that Labour would win seats such as Canterbury, held by the Conservatives for the past 99 years, or Kensington and Chelsea, the UK’s richest constituency and home of the Daily Mail. I would not let myself believe, as many others on the left did, that a Corbyn premiership was a very real and live possibility, rather than a mad fantasy, a progressive delusion.

I was wrong. Completely, utterly, hopelessly wrong … but never have I been happier to be wrong.

Perhaps I should have paid more attention. The much-mocked Corbyn had a very clear plan from the very beginning. “The politics of hope are not an inevitable reaction when politics fails,” he declared in a speech at the London School of Economics in May 2016. “The politics of hope have to be rebuilt.”? ?Rebuilding, the Labour leader explained, required three things. First, “a vision to inspire people that politics has the power to make a positive difference to their lives.” Second, “trust – that people believe both that we can and that we will change things for the better.” Third, “the involvement and engagement of people to make the first two possible.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Feb. 14, 2016 in Las Vegas.

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Corbyn, like Bernie Sanders before him, succeeded on all three fronts. He mobilized huge numbers of people to get organized, attend rallies, knock on doors. He upended the old political and economic orthodoxies, refusing to embrace austerity, or demonize immigrants, or push for foreign wars. And guess what? It turns out that you don’t have to triangulate to win 40% of the vote. Nor do you have to kowtow to the reactionary and illiberal agendas of the Mail or the Murdoch-owned press to win marginal seats in Middle England.

Neither Corbyn nor Sanders won their elections. But they came so close. Give them a bit more time. “One more heave” is no longer a political pejorative. With parliament hung, and Theresa May under fire from her own party, the next UK election could be held in a matter of months. The bookies have slashed Corbyn’s odds on becoming the next UK prime minister and a new post-election poll shows the Labour leader is now tied with his Conservative counterpart on the question of who would make the best prime minister. After last week’s shock results, what were once Conservative safe seats are now marginals and what were once Labour marginals are now safe seats.

Here in the United States, meanwhile, the Corbyn-esque Sanders has become the most popular politician in the country and would probably win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination by a landslide if the contest were to be held tomorrow. Some polls also suggest he might have defeated Trump last November, too.

So: President Sanders? Prime Minister Corbyn? What were once progressive fantasies are now potential realities. The left may have finally awoken from its slumber — and, therefore, the attacks from the right will only escalate. But what was it Gandhi is said to have remarked? “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

 

Top photo: Britain’s Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, center, waves after arriving for the declaration at his constituency in London, Friday, June 9, 2017.

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A JBS patrocinou impeachment de Dilma?

11 June 2017 - 8:36am

O julgamento da chapa Dilma/Temer no TSE talvez represente o auge da esquizofrenia da qual padece a política brasileira. A ação foi movida por Aécio Neves para, segundo o próprio, apenas “encher o saco do PT”. As acusações que fundamentaram o processo do tucano são exatamente as mesmas pelas quais sua chapa é acusada: abuso de poder político e econômico, recebimento de propina e beneficiamento do esquema de corrupção na Petrobras. Hoje no governo, Aécio e sua turma torcem para perder a ação que moveram. Portanto, o mais importante processo da história da Justiça Eleitoral nada mais é do que uma retumbante farsa.

Enquanto os olhos do país estão voltadas para a patacoada, uma notícia fundamental para compreender um pouco os fatos que nos trouxeram até aqui ficou ao relento na grande imprensa brasileira: o marqueteiro de Temer afirmou ter sido contratado pela JBS para derrubar Dilma.

Antes, vamos contextualizar os acontecimentos. Joesley da JBS havia revelado em sua delação que Temer pediu uma propina de R$300 mil. À época, o processo de impeachment ainda estava em curso e, estranhamente, Temer precisava do dinheiro para despesas de marketing político pela internet. Segundo Joesley, o então vice-presidente queria se defender dos duros ataques que vinha recebendo nas redes.

Temer teria orientado que o dinheiro fosse pago para o publicitário Elsinho Mouco – seu marqueteiro oficial há 15 anos e que hoje exerce papel importante no governo. É ele quem escreve os discursos de Temer e ajudou a redigir o famigerado programa Ponte para o Futuro.

Elsinho orienta Michel Temer

(Foto: Fran Welton/Divulgação)

 

Bom, no último domingo, Elsinho contou ao Estadão a sua versão, que é um pouco diferente do que ele havia dado em uma nota à imprensa divulgada após a publicação da delação de Joesley. Segundo o publicitário, o dono da JBS o convidou para um jantar nababesco em seu palacete no Jardim Europa em São Paulo. Regados a “whisky 18 anos” e “camarões gigantes”, Joesley revelou que queria financiar um serviço de monitoramento de redes sociais que ajudaria a derrubar Dilma:

“O empresário perguntou então quanto custaria o serviço, que a princípio seria pago pelo PMDB nacional. “R$ 300 mil”, respondeu Elsinho de pronto. “Eu pago isso. Vamos derrubar essa mulher”, teria dito Joesley.”

O dinheiro dado ao marqueteiro de Temer teria sido usado para “monitorar digitalmente movimentos pró-impeachment, o PMDB e a Fundação Ulysses Guimarães”.

Portanto, temos duas versões. O dono da JBS garante que a propina foi paga em espécie para Elsinho a pedido de Temer. Já o publicitário afirma que foi Joesley quem o procurou espontaneamente para contratar seus serviços, sem propina e sem envolvimento de Temer.

Um dos dois está mentindo. A versão de Elsinho é estranha,parece querer poupar seu chefe. É difícil imaginar que o publicitário tenha feito o orçamento do serviço ali na hora, no meio do jantar. Segundo o publicitário, o dono da JBS chamou um mordomo e ordenou: “Pega lá R$ 300 mil e entrega para o Elsinho”. Nessa versão capenga, o publicitário teria ido apenas visitar um cliente em potencial, fez o orçamento e imediatamente recebeu o valor integral em dinheiro vivo antes mesmo de prestar o serviço. Elsinho, cujo irmão acaba de ganhar uma concorrência de R$ 208 milhões para a publicidade do Palácio do Planalto, teria muito a perder se confirmasse a história do dono da JBS.

A versão de Joesley me parece mais verossímil: Temer pediu para entregar a propina para seu marqueteiro, que foi até a casa do empresário e saiu com o valor que havia sido previamente combinado entre os patrões. A dúvida fica por conta da finalidade da propina. R$300 mil para defender Temer de ataques da internet às vésperas da votação do impeachment? Ou seria mesmo para derrubar Dilma?

Apesar da relevância da informação dada pelo marqueteiro de Temer, o Estadão não deu chamada de capa, a Folha não repercutiu, e nem preciso falar sobre o Grupo Globo. Não parece ser do interesse do braço midiático revelar os detalhes do funcionamento do braço financiador do golpe parlamentar.

 

O fator Kátia Abreu

Maior doadora da campanha de Dilma, a JBS havia entrado em conflito com a presidenta antes mesmo do início do seu segundo mandato. A indicação de Kátia Abreu para o ministério da Agricultura não incomodou apenas petistas, ambientalistas e movimentos sociais, mas também a JBS e até o PMDB – partido que recém abrigava a senadora à época. O grupo empresarial de Joesley sempre foi alvo de duríssimas críticas de Kátia Abreu. Este trecho de reportagem da Folha de 2014 revela o tamanho da briga:

“Em discurso na tribuna do Senado, em 2013, Kátia Abreu criticou uma suposta prática monopolista e marketing enganoso’ por parte do grupo JBS, que cresceu no mercado adquirindo outros empreendimentos menores.

No centro do ataque estava um polêmico financiamento de R$ 7 bilhões do BNDES à JBS-Friboi que, segundo Kátia Abreu, poderia ter sido usado para ajudar pequenas e médias empresas em dificuldade.”

Irritado com a notícia de que Kátia provavelmente seria a nova ministra, o falastrão Joesley foi procurar quem para reclamar? O seu amigo Michel Temer, claro. Não satisfeito, foi se lamentar também com Aloizio Mercadante (PT), então chefe da Casa Civil, que o recebeu em uma conversa reservada, fora da agenda oficial. Ainda segundo a Folha, Dilma foi aconselhada a conversar com Joesley e tentar contornar sua insatisfação, o que teria ocorrido em um encontro sigiloso.

Todo esse lobby contra Kátia Abreu não deu certo e a ex-presidente bancou sua nomeação, contrariando seu próprio partido, seu principal aliado político (PMDB) e a JBS. Naquele momento se iniciava um conflito entre Dilma, o PMDB e o principal financiador de campanhas políticas no Brasil.

JBS trabalhou duramente contra minha nomeação no MAPA.Será porque? Moveram céus e terras.Dilma bancou e me deu posse.Ali era monopólio deles

— Senadora Katia Abreu (@KatiaAbreu) 20 de maio de 2017

Joesley revelou em delação que deu R$30 milhões para Cunha, que teriam sido usados para bancar sua campanha à presidência da Câmara, em 2015.  “Cunha saiu comprando deputado, saiu comprando um monte de deputados Brasil a fora. Para isso que serviam os R$ 30 milhões”, afirmou Joesley à PGR. Ou seja, a JBS também patrocinou a eleição de Cunha, o inimigo número um de Dilma, o homem que lideraria um golpe parlamentar para derrubá-la.

Vamos ligando os pontos. Não podemos esquecer também dos R$ 4 milhões em propinas da Odebrecht que Lucio Funaro (doleiro, lobista e operador das propinas de Cunha) enviou para Eliseu Padilha através de José Yunes (ex-assessor especial do governo Temer e amigo do presidente há mais de 50 anos). Na ocasião, o amigo de Temer ouviu do doleiro qual era a finalidade do dinheiro:  “A gente está fazendo uma bancada de 140 deputados, para o Cunha ser presidente da Câmara”. Segundo Yunes, Temer não pode dizer que não sabia de nada: “Contei tudo ao presidente em 2014. O meu amigo (Temer) sabe que é verdade isso. Ele não foi falar com o Padilha. O meu amigo reagiu com aquela serenidade de sempre (risos).”

Portanto, como se não bastassem as confissões públicas de que as pedaladas fiscais não foram o motivo que levaram à queda de Dilma, agora ainda temos fortes indícios de que a eleição de Cunha e o processo de impeachment foram financiados com dinheiro de propina de grandes empresas e teve envolvimento direto de Michel Temer.

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O pior da agenda tóxica de Donald Trump só será desencadeado com uma grande crise nos EUA

10 June 2017 - 9:34am

Durante a campanha presidencial, algumas pessoas achavam que os pontos mais abertamente racistas da plataforma de Donald Trump eram apenas uma estratégia para causar irritação, não um plano de ação concreto. Porém, na primeira semana de seu mandato, quando ele vetou a entrada de cidadãos de sete países de maioria muçulmana, a ilusão logo foi desfeita. Felizmente, a reação foi imediata: marchas e protestos em aeroportos, greves de taxistas, manifestações de advogados e políticos locais. Por fim, o veto foi considerado ilegal pela Justiça americana.

Esse episódio mostrou a força da resistência e a coragem da Justiça; havia muito o que comemorar. Alguns chegaram a dizer que essa primeira derrota havia disciplinado Trump, que a partir de então seguiria uma rota mais convencional e racional.

Outra perigosa ilusão.

É verdade que muitos dos itens mais radicais da agenda do governo ainda não foram realizados. Mas não se enganem; ele não abandonou seus projetos. Eles estão bem guardados, à espreita, e uma grande crise pode trazê-los à tona.

Grandes choques costumam ser aproveitados para nos empurrar goela abaixo medidas impopulares e antidemocráticas a favor dos grandes empresários que jamais seriam aprovadas em tempos de estabilidade. É a “Doutrina do Choque”, nome que utilizei para descrever esse fenômeno. Ela foi utilizada repetidamente nas últimas décadas, seja por ditadores como Augusto Pinochet ou por presidentes americanos, como no caso do furacão Katrina.

Vimos a Doutrina do Choque em ação recentemente, antes da eleição de Trump, em cidades americanas como Detroit e Flint, onde a falência financeira do município foi usada como pretexto para dissolver a democracia local e nomear “gestores emergenciais”, que declararam guerra aos serviços e educação públicos. O mesmo está acontecendo em Porto Rico, onde a crise da dívida foi a desculpa utilizada para a criação do Conselho de Gestão e Supervisão Financeira, uma entidade que, sem precisar prestar contas a ninguém, tem o poder de implementar medidas de austeridade como cortes previdenciários e fechamento de escolas. A mesma tática está sendo usada no Brasil, onde, após o bastante questionável impeachment da presidente Dilma Rousseff, instalou-se um regime ilegítimo e ferventemente pró-empresariado. Entre as medidas adotadas estão o congelamento dos gastos públicos por 20 anos e o leilão de aeroportos, usinas de energia e outros ativos públicos, em um verdadeiro frenesi privatizante.

Como escreveu Milton Friedman, muitos anos atrás, “apenas uma crise – real ou presumida – produz mudanças. Quando uma crise ocorre, as medidas adotadas dependem das ideias presentes na paisagem política. Esta é a nossa função primordial: desenvolver alternativas às políticas existentes, mantendo-as ao alcance da mão até que o politicamente impossível se torne politicamente inevitável”. Certos alarmistas estocam comida enlatada e água para o caso de um grande desastre natural; outros estocam ideias espetacularmente antidemocráticas.

Agora, como muitos já perceberam, a história está se repetindo com Donald Trump. Durante a campanha, ele não disse a seus admiradores que iria cortar verbas de programas de fornecimento de alimentos a pessoas necessitadas. Ele também nunca admitiu que iria tentar tirar o plano de saúde de milhões de americanos ou adotar cada uma das medidas sugeridas pelo grupo Goldman Sachs. Não, ele disse o contrário de tudo isso.

Desde que assumiu a presidência, Donald Trump não fez o menor esforço para dissipar a atmosfera de caos e crise. Algumas turbulências, como o dossiê russo, surgiram contra a sua vontade ou por pura incompetência, mas muitas delas parecem ter sido deliberadamente fabricadas. Em todo caso, enquanto estamos distraídos pelo espetáculo Trump, ávidos por notícias sobre suas supostas crises conjugais ou globos luminosos, seu projeto de concentração de renda segue em frente, metódico e silencioso.

A velocidade das mudanças também contribui para isso. Com o tsunami de decretos presidenciais assinados nos 100 primeiros dias do governo de Trump, logo ficou claro que seus assessores estavam seguindo o conselho dado por Maquiavel em O Príncipe: “As injúrias devem ser feitas todas de uma vez, de forma que, sendo menos saboreadas, causem menos ofensa”. A lógica é simples: é mais fácil resistir a mudanças graduais e contínuas; se as transformações acontecem de uma só vez, a população não consegue se organizar para lidar com todas ao mesmo tempo, acabando por engolir o sapo.

Mas tudo isso não passa de uma versão light da Doutrina do Choque; é o máximo que Trump pode fazer com as pequenas crises que ele mesmo cria. Embora seja necessário denunciar e resistir ao que está sendo feito agora, também deveríamos nos preocupar com o que Trump fará quando puder se aproveitar de uma verdadeira crise. Talvez seja um crash econômico, como a crise das hipotecas subprime de 2008; ou uma catástrofe natural, como a Supertempestade Sandy; ou então um terrível ataque terrorista, como o atentado a bomba de Manchester. Qualquer uma dessas crises poderia alterar radicalmente a conjuntura política, transformando subitamente o que hoje parece improvável em algo inevitável.

Vamos analisar alguns cenários de choques possíveis, e como eles poderiam ser utilizados para tornar realidade a nociva agenda de Donald Trump.

Policiais se juntam ao público em St Ann’s Square, em Manchester, para observar as flores e mensagens em homenagem às vítimas do atentado de 22 de maio na Manchester Arena. (31 de maio de 2017)

Foto: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Choque terrorista

 Os recentes atentados em Londres, Manchester e Paris nos dão um indício de como o governo Trump tentaria explorar um grande ataque terrorista contra os EUA em seu próprio território ou no exterior. Depois do terrível atentado a bomba de Manchester, no mês passado, o governo conservador inglês lançou uma campanha feroz contra o Partido Trabalhista e Jeremy Corbyn, por este ter sugerido que o fracasso da “Guerra ao Terror” estaria alimentando o terrorismo. As declarações de Corbyn foram qualificadas de “monstruosas” – uma atitude muito parecida com a retórica “ou vocês estão conosco, ou com os terroristas” usada por George W. Bush após o ataque de 11 de Setembro de 2001. Para Donald Trump, o atentado foi consequência das “milhares e milhares de pessoas que estão entrando em vários países”, embora o terrorista – Salman Abedi – tenha nascido no Reino Unido.

Da mesma forma, logo após o atentado de Westminster, em março 2017, quando um motorista jogou um carro contra uma multidão de pedestres, matando quatro e deixando dezenas de feridos, o governo conservador logo declarou que a privacidade das comunicações digitais era uma ameaça à segurança nacional. A ministra do Interior, Amber Rudd, disse em um programa da BBC que a criptografia de programas como o Whatsapp era “totalmente inaceitável”. Ela afirmou estar negociando a “colaboração” das grandes empresas de tecnologia, para que elas forneçam ao governo um acesso especial a essas plataformas. Depois do atentado da London Bridge, ela voltou a atacar a privacidade na internet de forma ainda mais veemente.

De maneira ainda mais preocupante, depois dos atentados de Paris, em 2015 – que deixaram 130 mortos –, o governo de François Hollande declarou o estado de emergência na França, proibindo manifestações políticas. Estive na França uma semana depois daqueles horríveis acontecimentos e não pude deixar de estranhar o fato de que, embora os ataques tenham sido perpetrados contra os símbolos da vida parisiense cotidiana – um show, um estádio de futebol, restaurantes etc. –, apenas a atividade política nas ruas havia sido proibida. Grandes shows, mercados natalinos e eventos esportivos – alvos perfeitos para futuros atentados – continuaram funcionando normalmente. Nos meses seguintes, o estado de emergência foi repetidamente prolongado. Ele ainda está em vigor e deve durar pelo menos até julho de 2017. Na França, o estado de exceção virou a regra.

Isso foi feito por um governo de centro-esquerda em um país com uma longa tradição de greves e manifestações. Só uma pessoa ingênua acreditaria que Donald Trump e Mike Pence não aproveitariam um ataque terrorista nos EUA para ir ainda mais longe. A reação seria imediata, declarando manifestantes e grevistas que bloqueassem rodovias e aeroportos – os mesmos que reagiram ao veto à entrada de muçulmanos – uma ameaça à “segurança nacional”. Os líderes dos protestos seriam alvo de rigorosa vigilância e jogados na prisão.

Temos que nos preparar para o uso de crises de segurança como pretexto para intensificar a criminalização de grupos e comunidades que já estão na mira do governo: imigrantes latinos, muçulmanos, líderes do movimento Black Lives Matter, ativistas ambientais e jornalistas investigativos. Essa é uma possibilidade concreta. Em nome da luta contra o terrorismo, o secretário de Justiça, Jeff Sessions, poderia finalmente acabar com a supervisão federal das policias estaduais e municipais, favorecendo a impunidade nos casos de abuso policial contra negros e outras minorias.

E não há nenhuma dúvida de que o presidente se aproveitaria de um atentado terrorista para atacar o Judiciário. Ele deixou isso bem claro ao escrever em sua conta no Twitter, após a suspensão judicial do veto migratório: “Como um juiz pode colocar nosso país em risco? Se algo acontecer, a culpa será dele e do sistema judicial”. Na noite do atentado da London Bridge, no dia 3 de junho, ele foi ainda mais longe: “O Judiciário tem que nos devolver os nossos direitos. Precisamos do veto de entrada como uma segurança extra!” No contexto de histeria coletiva e revolta que se instalaria depois de um ataque terrorista em solo americano, talvez os juízes não tenham a mesma coragem para barrar uma nova proibição à entrada de muçulmanos nos EUA.

Nesta foto tirada em 7 de abril de 2017 pela marinha americana, no Mar Mediterrâneo, o contratorpedeiro USS Porter (DDG 78) lança um míssil Tomahawk contra uma base aérea síria. O bombardeio foi uma retaliação a um terrível ataque com armas químicas realizado naquela mesma semana.

Foto: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP

Choque bélico

A reação mais exagerada e letal de um governo a um ataque terrorista é se aproveitar do clima de medo para declarar guerra a outro(s) país(es). Não importa se o alvo não tem nenhuma relação com o atentado terrorista em questão; o Iraque não tinha nada a ver com o 11 de Setembro, mas foi invadido mesmo assim.

Os alvos mais prováveis de Trump estão no Oriente Médio, incluindo países como Síria, Iêmen, Iraque e, principalmente, Irã. Outro inimigo em potencial é a Coreia do Norte, sobre a qual o secretário de Estado americano, Rex Tillerson, afirmou que “estamos abertos a todas as opções”, se recusando a descartar a possibilidade de um ataque preventivo.

Os colaboradores mais íntimos de Trump – principalmente aqueles oriundos do setor de defesa – têm diversas razões para apoiar mais ações militares. O lançamento de mísseis contra a Síria em abril de 2017 – realizado sem a aprovação do Congresso e, portanto, ilegal, segundo alguns especialistas – rendeu-lhe a cobertura midiática mais positiva de seu mandato até então. Os assessores mais próximos do presidente aproveitaram para declarar que o ataque era uma prova de que não havia nada de indecoroso nas relações entre a Casa Branca e a Rússia.

Mas há uma outra razão, menos evidente, para usar uma crise de segurança como desculpa para entrar em guerra: essa é a maneira mais rápida e eficaz de forçar um aumento no preço do petróleo, principalmente se o conflito prejudicar o fornecimento global da commodity. Isso traria grandes vantagens para gigantes como a Exxon Mobil, cujos lucros diminuíram drasticamente com a queda do preço desse produto. Feliz coincidência para a Exxon: Rex Tillerson, antigo diretor-executivo da empresa, é o atual secretário de Estado dos EUA. Tillerson trabalhou na Exxon durante praticamente toda a sua carreira – 41 anos; ao se aposentar, ele fechou um acordo com a empresa para receber espantosos US$ 180 milhões.

Além de empresas como a Exxon, talvez o único beneficiado com um aumento do preço do petróleo advindo da instabilidade global seria a Rússia de Vladimir Putin, um país que depende da venda dessa matéria-prima e que tem atravessado uma crise econômica desde a queda dos preços no mercado internacional. A Rússia é o maior exportador mundial de gás natural e o segundo maior de petróleo – depois da Arábia Saudita. Uma alta de preços seria uma boa notícia para Putin; antes de 2014, metade das receitas do Estado russo era proveniente do setor de óleo e gás.

Porém, quando os preços desabaram, a Rússia perdeu centenas de bilhões de dólares, uma catástrofe econômica com sérias consequências para o povo russo. Segundo o Banco Mundial, em 2015, os salários reais caíram quase 10% no país; o rublo perdeu quase 40% de seu valor e o número de pobres subiu de 3 para 19 milhões. Putin tenta manter sua imagem de homem forte, mas a crise econômica o deixa vulnerável.

Também já se falou muito sobre o vultoso acordo entre a Exxon Mobil e petroleira estatal russa Rosneft para a extração de petróleo no Ártico. Putin chegou a se gabar do montante envolvido – meio trilhão de dólares. É verdade que a negociação saiu dos trilhos com as sanções americanas à Rússia; porém, apesar da postura conflitante dos dois países em relação à Síria, é possível que Trump decida suspender as sanções e abrir caminho para a concretização do negócio, o que ajudaria a Exxon a superar seu momento difícil.

No entanto, mesmo se as sanções forem retiradas, ainda haveria outra pedra no caminho do projeto: o baixo preço do petróleo. Tillerson fechou o acordo com a Rosneft em 2011, quando o preço do barril chegou a altíssimos US$ 110. Em um primeiro momento, o consórcio faria a prospecção de petróleo nas águas ao norte da Sibéria, onde a extração seria difícil e cara. Para ser viável economicamente, o petróleo do Ártico teria que vendido a cerca de US$ 100 o barril – ou até mais caro. Portanto, mesmo se as sanções forem suspensas pelo governo Trump, o projeto da Exxon e da Rosneft só valerá a pena se o preço do petróleo estiver suficientemente alto. Consequentemente, qualquer instabilidade que empurre a cotação do petróleo para cima seria do interesse de muita gente.

Se o barril de petróleo ultrapassar a marca dos US$ 80, a corrida desenfreada para encontrar, extrair e queimar combustíveis fósseis vai recomeçar, mesmo se for preciso perfurar nossas calotas polares em derretimento ou extrair petróleo altamente poluente das areias betuminosas. Se isso acontecer, podemos acabar perdendo a nossa última chance de evitar uma catástrofe climática.

Portanto, evitar um conflito internacional e deter as mudanças climáticas são duas batalhas de uma mesma guerra..

Uma tela mostra dados financeiros no dia 22 de janeiro de 2008.

Foto: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Choque econômico 

Uma das marcas do projeto econômico de Trump tem sido o frenesi de desregulamentação financeira, o que aumenta em grande medida o risco de novos choques e desastres econômicos. O presidente americano anunciou que pretende revogar a Lei Dodd-Frank, peça fundamental da reforma financeira implementada pelo governo Obama após o colapso bancário de 2008. Embora não seja rigorosa o suficiente, a lei impede que a especulação desenfreada de Wall Street crie novas bolhas, que, quando explodem, causam novos choques econômicos.

Trump e sua equipe sabem disso, mas os lucros obtidos com as bolhas são sedutores demais para que eles se importem. Além do mais, os bancos nunca foram realmente à falência, e continuam sendo “grandes demais para quebrar”. Trump sabe que, no caso de outra grande crise, teremos outro resgate das instituições financeiras, exatamente como em 2008. O presidente chegou mesmo a decretar a revisão de um mecanismo da Lei Dodd-Frank criado para evitar que o contribuinte pague a conta de um novo resgate aos bancos. Visto a quantidade de ex-executivos do Goldman Sachs no governo Trump, isso é um péssimo sinal.

Alguns membros do governo também veem a crise econômica como uma oportunidade para atacar certos programas sociais. Durante a campanha, Trump seduziu o eleitorado com a promessa de não mexer na Seguridade Social nem no Medicare, o plano de saúde público dos EUA. Mas isso pode ser impraticável devido à grande redução de impostos que vem por aí, embora o governo aplique uma matemática fictícia para argumentar que o crescimento econômico gerado compensaria as perdas. O orçamento que foi proposto já é um primeiro ataque à Seguridade Social, e uma crise econômica poderia dar a Trump um conveniente pretexto para descumprir suas promessas. Em uma conjuntura pintada como apocalipse econômico, Betsy DeVos poderia até realizar seu sonho de substituir as escolas públicas por um sistema de escolas charter e vouchers.

A camarilha de Trump tem uma longa lista de políticas que jamais seriam aprovadas em tempos de normalidade. No início do mandato, por exemplo, Mike Pence se reuniu com o governador do Wisconsin, Scott Walker, que lhe contou como havia conseguido retirar o direito à negociação coletiva dos sindicatos do setor público no estado, em 2011. E qual foi o argumento utilizado para a aprovação da medida? A crise fiscal do governo estadual, o que levou o colunista Paul Krugman, do New York Times, a declarar que “a Doutrina do Choque está sendo aplicada de forma escancarada” no Wisconsin.

Juntando as peças do quebra-cabeça, o cenário fica claro: a barbárie econômica do governo provavelmente não será realizada no primeiro ano de mandato. Ela vai se revelar mais tarde, quando, inevitavelmente, as crises orçamentária e financeira chegarem. Só então, em nome da salvação fiscal do governo – e quem sabe da economia inteira –, a Casa Branca começará a realizar os desejos mais polêmicos das grandes corporações.

Gado pastando perto de um incêndio florestal nas cercanias de Protection, Kansas. (7 de março de 2017)

Foto: Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/TNS/Getty Images

Choque ambiental 

Da mesma forma que as políticas de segurança nacional e econômica do governo certamente causarão e aprofundarão crises, o foco de Trump em aumentar a produção de combustíveis fósseis, desmontar a legislação ambiental dos EUA e sabotar o Acordo de Paris abre caminho para novos acidentes industriais e futuras catástrofes climáticas. O dióxido de carbono lançado na atmosfera leva cerca de 10 anos para ter um efeito sobre o aquecimento global; portanto, as piores consequências das políticas de Trump só devem ser sentidas quando ele não estiver mais no poder.

Mesmo assim, o aquecimento global já está em um nível tão alarmante que nenhum presidente pode chegar ao fim do mandato sem enfrentar grandes desastres naturais. Donald Trump mal havia completado dois meses na função quando teve que lidar com grandes incêndios florestais no centro-oeste dos EUA. A mortandade de gado foi tão grande que um pecuarista descreveu a situação como “o nosso Furacão Katrina”.

Trump não demonstrou preocupação com os incêndios; não escreveu um tuíte sequer. Porém, quando uma supertempestade atingir o litoral do país, teremos uma reação muito diferente desse presidente que conhece o valor dos imóveis à beira-mar, despreza os pobres e investe apenas em construções para os mais abastados. A grande preocupação é com a repetição do ataque às escolas públicas e à habitação social e do vale-tudo imobiliário que se seguiram ao desastre – o que não é nada improvável, visto o papel central do vice-presidente Mike Pence na elaboração das políticas pós-Katrina.

Mas os grandes beneficiados da era Trump nessa área serão, sem dúvida, as empresas de resgate particular, direcionadas à clientela mais rica.  Quando eu estava escrevendo “A Doutrina do Choque”, o setor ainda estava engatinhando, e muitas empresas não sobreviveram. Uma delas era a Help Jet, sediada na cidade queridinha de Trump, West Palm Beach. Enquanto esteve em atividade, a Help Jet ofereceu serviços de resgate VIP para quem pagasse uma taxa de associação.

Quando um furacão se aproximava, a Help Jet mandava limusines para buscar seus clientes, fazia reservas em hotéis cinco-estrelas e spas em algum lugar seguro e despachava-os em jatos particulares. “Sem fila nem multidão; apenas uma experiência de primeira classe que transforma um problema em um feriado”, dizia um dos anúncios da empresa. “Aproveite a sensação de evitar o pesadelo dos planos de evacuação em caso de furacão”, sugeria outra propaganda. Em retrospectiva, parece que a Help Jet, longe de ter superestimado o potencial desse nicho, estava apenas à frente de seu tempo. Atualmente, no Vale do Silício e em Wall Street, os mais abastados e temerosos se preparam para o caos climático e social comprando vagas em abrigos subterrâneos personalizados no Kansas – protegidos por mercenários fortemente armados – e construindo refúgios nas alturas da Nova Zelândia. E, lá, só se chega de jatinho particular, é claro.

O que é realmente preocupante nesse fenômeno da “sobrevivência de luxo” – além da esquisitice da coisa toda – é que, enquanto os ricos criam seus suntuosos refúgios particulares, há cada vez menos investimentos em infraestruturas de prevenção e resposta a desastres que possam ajudar a todos independentemente da renda. E foi exatamente isso que causou tanto sofrimento desnecessário em Nova Orleans depois da passagem do Katrina.

Os EUA estão caminhando cada vez mais rápido em direção a um sistema privado de resposta a desastres. Em estados como Califórnia e Colorado, mais suscetíveis a incêndios, empresas seguradoras oferecem um serviço especial: em caso de incêndio florestal, uma equipe de bombeiros particulares é despachada para aplicar um tratamento antichamas nas mansões dos clientes, deixando as outras à mercê do fogo.

A Califórnia nos oferece uma amostra do que ainda vem por aí. O estado emprega no combate a incêndios mais de 4.500 presidiários, que recebem 1 dólar por hora para arriscar a vida na linha de frente e cerca de 2 dólares por dia no acampamento. Segundo estimativas, a Califórnia economiza bilhões de dólares por ano graças a esse programa – um produto emblemático da mistura entre austeridade, encarceramento em massa e mudança climática..

Migrantes e refugiados se aglomeram perto do local de travessia na fronteira nas proximidades do povoado grego de Idomeni, no dia 5 de março de 2016, onde milhares de pessoas esperam para entrar na Macedônia.

Foto: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

Um mundo de zonas verdes e zonas vermelhas 

Com o desenvolvimento de soluções privadas para catástrofes naturais, os setores mais abastados da sociedade têm menos motivos para pressionar o governo por mudanças na política ambiental e evitar um futuro ainda mais catastrófico para a vida na Terra. Isso pode explicar por que Trump está tão determinado a acelerar a crise climática.

Por enquanto, a discussão sobre os recuos da política ambiental de Trump gira em torno de um suposto racha no governo entre os céticos – aqueles que negam as mudanças climáticas, como o próprio Trump e o chefe da Agência de Proteção Ambiental, Scott Pruitt – e aqueles que reconhecem o fator humano do aquecimento global, como Rex Tillerson e Ivanka Trump. Mas isso é irrelevante. O que todos os assessores de Trump têm em comum é a crença de que eles, seus filhos e seus pares estarão em segurança; que sua riqueza e contatos irão protegê-los do pior. Eles perderão alguns imóveis com vista para o mar, é verdade, mas isso não é nada que não possa ser substituído por uma bela mansão nas montanhas.

Essa despreocupação é uma tendência extremamente inquietante. Em uma era de desigualdade crescente, uma boa parte das nossas elites está se isolando física e psicologicamente do destino coletivo da humanidade. Esse isolacionismo, ainda que apenas mental, permite que os ricos não só ignorem a necessidade de proteger o meio ambiente, mas também se aproveitem dos desastres e do clima de instabilidade para lucrar ainda mais. Estamos indo em direção a um mundo dividido entre “zonas verdes” fortificadas para os ricos e “zonas vermelhas” para o resto. E “zonas negras” – prisões secretas – para quem não estiver satisfeito. Europa, Austrália e América do Norte estão fortificando (e privatizando) cada vez mais as fronteiras para se isolar daqueles que fogem de seus países para sobreviver. Muitas vezes, os próprios países que agora estão se fechando são em grande parte responsáveis pelas ondas de imigração, seja por meio de acordos comerciais predatórios, guerras ou desastres ambientais intensificados pelas mudanças climáticas.

De fato, se mapearmos as áreas que mais sofrem com conflitos armados atualmente – dos sangrentos campos de batalha no Afeganistão e Paquistão à Líbia, Iêmen, Somália e Iraque –, um fato nos salta aos olhos: esses são alguns dos lugares mais quentes e secos do planeta; são regiões à beira da fome e da seca, dois catalisadores de conflitos, que, por sua vez, ajudam a produzir migrantes.

E a mesma tendência a diminuir a humanidade do “outro” – tornando-nos insensíveis às vítimas civis de bombardeios em países como Iêmen e Somália – agora está sendo aplicada aos refugiados, cuja busca por segurança é vista como a invasão de um exército ameaçador. É nesse contexto que, de 2014 para cá, 13 mil pessoas que tentavam chegar à Europa morreram afogadas no Mediterrâneo, muitas delas crianças e bebês; é nesse contexto que a Austrália está tentando normalizar o encarceramento de refugiados em centros de detenção nas ilhas de Nauru e Manus, em condições classificadas por diversas organizações humanitárias como análogas à tortura. É nesse mesmo contexto que o gigantesco acampamento de refugiados de Calais, recém-desmantelado, foi apelidado de “selva” – da mesma forma que as vítimas abandonadas do Katrina foram chamadas pela mídia de direita de “animais”.

O dramático crescimento nas últimas décadas do nacionalismo de direita, do racismo, da islamofobia e do supremacismo branco em geral está intimamente ligado às novas tendências geopolíticas e ecológicas. A única maneira de justificar essas formas bárbaras de exclusão é apostando em teorias de hierarquização racial, que determinam quem merece ou não ser excluído das “zonas verdes”. É isso que está em jogo quando Trump chama os mexicanos de estupradores e “hombres maus”; quando os refugiados sírios são tachados de terroristas em potencial; quando a política conservadora canadense Kellie Leitch defende um teste de “valores canadenses” para imigrantes; ou quando sucessivos primeiros-ministros australianos classificam os sinistros campos de detenção como uma alternativa “humanitária” à morte no mar.

Esse é o resultado típico da instabilidade global em nações que nunca repararam os crimes do seu passado; em países que insistem em ver a escravidão e o roubo das terras indígenas como meros solavancos em uma história gloriosa. Afinal de contas, a separação entre zonas verdes e vermelhas já existia na sociedade escravocrata: os bailes na casa dos senhores aconteciam a poucos metros da tortura nos campos. E tudo isso nas terras violentamente arrancadas dos índios – terra sobre a qual a riqueza norte-americana foi construída. Agora, as mesmas teorias de hierarquia racial que justificaram tanta violência em nome do progresso estão ressurgindo à medida que a riqueza e o conforto que elas proporcionaram começa a se desgastar.

Trump é apenas uma manifestação precoce desse desgaste. Mas ele não é o único. E não será o último.

Moradores da favela da Mangueira assistem de longe aos fogos de artifício da cerimônia de abertura das Olimpíadas de 2016, no estádio do Maracanã, no Rio de Janeiro. (5 de agosto de 2016)

Foto: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Uma crise de imaginação 

Cidades fortificadas exclusivas para os ricos, isolados do resto do mundo em luta pela sobrevivência. É sintomático que esse seja um tema recorrente de diversos filmes de ficção científica atualmente, como Jogos Vorazes, em que o decadente Capitólio enfrenta as colônias desesperadas; e Elysium, em que uma elite vive em uma estação espacial acima de uma enorme e violenta favela. Esta é uma visão entranhada na mitologia das grandes religiões ocidentais, com suas épicas narrativas sobre dilúvios purificadores e um pequeno grupo de eleitos; histórias de infiéis ardendo em chamas enquanto os justos se refugiam em uma cidade fortificada nos céus. A dicotomia entre vencedores e condenados está tão presente no nosso imaginário coletivo que é um verdadeiro desafio pensar em outros finais para a narrativa da humanidade; um final em que a raça humana se una em um momento de crise em vez de se separar; um final em as fronteiras sejam derrubadas em vez de multiplicadas.

Afinal de contas, o objetivo de toda essa tradição narrativa nunca foi simplesmente descrever o que inevitavelmente acontecerá com a humanidade. Não, essas histórias são um aviso, uma tentativa de abrir os nossos olhos para que possamos evitar o pior.

“Nós temos a capacidade de dar ao mundo um novo começo”, disse Thomas Paine muitos anos atrás, resumindo em poucas palavras o desejo de fugir de um passado que está no cerne tanto do colonialismo quanto do “sonho americano”. Porém, a verdade é que nós não temos esse poder divino de reinvenção; nunca o tivemos. Temos que conviver com nossos erros e problemas, bem como respeitar os limites do nosso planeta.

Mas o que nós temos é a capacidade de mudar, de reparar velhas injustiças e a nossa relação com o próximo e com o planeta em que vivemos. Essa é a base da resistência à Doutrina do Choque.

Adaptado do novo livro da Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. O livro será publicado em novembro de 2017 pela Bertrand Brasil.

Foto do topo: Bombeiros do Kansas e de Oklahoma lutam contra um incêndio perto de Protection, no Kansas. (6 de março de 2017)

Tradução: Bernardo Tonasse

The post O pior da agenda tóxica de Donald Trump só será desencadeado com uma grande crise nos EUA appeared first on The Intercept.

The Worst of Donald Trump’s Toxic Agenda Is Lying in Wait – A Major U.S. Crisis Will Unleash It

10 June 2017 - 8:48am

During the presidential campaign, some imagined that the more overtly racist elements of Donald Trump’s platform were just talk designed to rile up the base, not anything he seriously intended to act on. But in his first week in office, when he imposed a travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries, that comforting illusion disappeared fast. Fortunately, the response was immediate: the marches and rallies at airports, the impromptu taxi strikes, the lawyers and local politicians intervening, the judges ruling the bans illegal.

The whole episode showed the power of resistance, and of judicial courage, and there was much to celebrate. Some have even concluded that this early slap down chastened Trump, and that he is now committed to a more reasonable, conventional course.

That is a dangerous illusion.

It is true that many of the more radical items on this administration’s wish list have yet to be realized. But make no mistake, the full agenda is still there, lying in wait. And there is one thing that could unleash it all: a large-scale crisis.

Large-scale shocks are frequently harnessed to ram through despised pro-corporate and anti-democratic policies that would never have been feasible in normal times. It’s a phenomenon I have previously called the “Shock Doctrine,” and we have seen it happen again and again over the decades, from Chile in the aftermath of Augusto Pinochet’s coup to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

And we have seen it happen recently, well before Trump, in U.S. cities including Detroit and Flint, where looming municipal bankruptcy became the pretext for dissolving local democracy and appointing “emergency managers” who waged war on public services and public education. It is unfolding right now in Puerto Rico, where the ongoing debt crisis has been used to install the unaccountable “Financial Oversight and Management Board,” an enforcement mechanism for harsh austerity measures, including cuts to pensions and waves of school closures. This tactic is being deployed in Brazil, where the highly questionable impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 was followed by the installation of an unelected, zealously pro-business regime that has frozen public spending for the next 20 years, imposed punishing austerity, and begun selling off airports, power stations, and other public assets in a frenzy of privatization.

As Milton Friedman wrote long ago, “Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” Survivalists stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters; these guys stockpile spectacularly anti-democratic ideas.

Now, as many have observed, the pattern is repeating under Trump. On the campaign trail, he did not tell his adoring crowds that he would cut funds for meals-on-wheels, or admit that he was going to try to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, or that he planned to grant every item on Goldman Sachs’ wish list. He said the very opposite.

Since taking office, however, Donald Trump has never allowed the atmosphere of chaos and crisis to let up. Some of the chaos, like the Russia investigations, has been foisted upon him or is simply the result of incompetence, but much appears to be deliberately created. Either way, while we are distracted by (and addicted to) the Trump Show, clicking on and gasping at marital hand-slaps and mysterious orbs, the quiet, methodical work of redistributing wealth upward proceeds apace.

This is also aided by the sheer velocity of change. Witnessing the tsunami of executive orders during Trump’s first 100 days, it rapidly became clear his advisers were following Machiavelli’s advice in “The Prince”: “Injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less.” The logic is straightforward enough. People can develop responses to sequential or gradual change. But if dozens of changes come from all directions at once, the hope is that populations will rapidly become exhausted and overwhelmed, and will ultimately swallow their bitter medicine.

But here’s the thing. All of this is shock doctrine lite; it’s the most that Trump can pull off under cover of the shocks he is generating himself. And as much as this needs to be exposed and resisted, we also need to focus on what this administration will do when they have a real external shock to exploit. Maybe it will be an economic crash like the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. Maybe a natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy. Or maybe it will be a horrific terrorist attack like the Manchester bombing. Any one such crisis could trigger a very rapid shift in political conditions, making what currently seems unlikely suddenly appear inevitable.

So let’s consider a few categories of possible shocks, and how they might be harnessed to start ticking off items on Trump’s toxic to-do list.

Police officers join members of the public to view the flowers and messages of support in St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, on May 31, 2017, placed in tribute to the victims of the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena.

Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

A Terror Shock

Recent terror attacks in London, Manchester, and Paris provide some broad hints about how the administration would try to exploit a large-scale attack that took place on U.S. soil or against U.S. infrastructure abroad. After the horrific Manchester bombing last month, the governing Conservatives launched a fierce campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party for suggesting that the failed “war on terror” is part of what is fueling such acts, calling any such suggestion “monstrous” (a clear echo of the “with us or with the terrorists” rhetoric that descended after September 11, 2001). For his part, Trump rushed to link the attack to the “thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various countries” — never mind that the bomber, Salman Abedi, was born in the U.K.

Similarly, in the immediate aftermath of the Westminster terror attacks in London in March 2017, when a driver plowed into a crowd of pedestrians, deliberately killing four people and injuring dozens more, the Conservative government wasted no time declaring that any expectation of privacy in digital communications was now a threat to national security. Home Secretary Amber Rudd went on the BBC and declared the end-to-end encryption provided by programs like WhatsApp to be “completely unacceptable.” And she said that they were meeting with the large tech firms “to ask them to work with us” on providing backdoor access to these platforms. She made an even stronger call to crack down on internet privacy after the London Bridge attack.

More worrying, in 2015, after the coordinated attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, the government of François Hollande declared a “state of emergency” that banned political protests. I was in France a week after those horrific events and it was striking that, although the attackers had targeted a concert, a football stadium, restaurants, and other emblems of daily Parisian life, it was only outdoor political activity that was not permitted. Large concerts, Christmas markets, and sporting events — the sorts of places that were likely targets for further attacks — were all free to carry on as usual. In the months that followed, the state-of-emergency decree was extended again and again until it had been in place for well over a year. It is currently set to remain in effect until at least July 2017. In France, state-of-emergency is the new normal.

This took place under a center-left government in a country with a long tradition of disruptive strikes and protests. One would have to be naive to imagine that Donald Trump and Mike Pence wouldn’t immediately seize on any attack in the United States to go much further down that same road. In all likelihood they would do it swiftly, by declaring protests and strikes that block roads and airports (the kind that responded to the Muslim travel ban) a threat to “national security.” Protest organizers would be targeted with surveillance, arrests, and imprisonment.

Indeed we should be prepared for security shocks to be exploited as excuses to increase the rounding up and incarceration of large numbers of people from the communities this administration is already targeting: Latino immigrants, Muslims, Black Lives Matter organizers, climate activists, investigative journalists. It’s all possible. And in the name of freeing the hands of law enforcement to fight terrorism, Attorney General Jeff Sessions would have the excuse he’d been looking for to do away with federal oversight of state and local police, especially those that have been accused of systemic racial abuses.

And there is no doubt that the president would seize on any domestic terrorist attack to blame the courts. He made this perfectly clear when he tweeted, after his first travel ban was struck down: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system.” And on the night of the London Bridge attack, he went even further, tweeting: “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” In a context of public hysteria and recrimination that would surely follow an attack in the U.S., the kind of courage we witnessed from the courts in response to Trump’s travel bans might well be in shorter supply.

This April 7, 2017, photo shows the USS Porter launching a tomahawk missile at a Syrian air base.

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP

The Shock of War

The most lethal way that governments overreact to terrorist attacks is by exploiting the atmosphere of fear to embark on a full-blown foreign war (or two). It doesn’t necessarily matter if the target has no connection to the original terror attacks. Iraq wasn’t responsible for 9/11, and it was invaded anyway.

Trump’s likeliest targets are mostly in the Middle East, and they include (but are by no means limited to) Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and, most perilously, Iran. And then, of course, there’s North Korea, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declared that “all options are on the table,” pointedly refusing to rule out a pre-emptive military strike.

There are many reasons why people around Trump, particularly those who came straight from the defense sector, might decide that further military escalation is in order. Trump’s April 2017 missile strike on Syria — ordered without congressional approval and therefore illegal according to some experts — won him the most positive news coverage of his presidency. His inner circle, meanwhile, immediately pointed to the attacks as proof that there was nothing untoward going on between the White House and Russia.

But there’s another, less discussed reason why this administration might rush to exploit a security crisis to start a new war or escalate an ongoing conflict: There is no faster or more effective way to drive up the price of oil, especially if the violence interferes with the supply of oil to the world market This would be great news for oil giants like Exxon Mobil, which have seen their profits drop dramatically as a result of the depressed price of oil — and Exxon, of course, is fortunate enough to have its former CEO, Tillerson, currently serving as secretary of state. (Not only was Tillerson at Exxon for 41 years, his entire working life, but Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay him a retirement package worth a staggering $180 million.)

Other than Exxon, perhaps the only entity that would have more to gain from an oil price hike fueled by global instability is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a vast petro-state that has been in economic crisis since the price of oil collapsed. Russia is the world’s leading exporter of natural gas, and the second-largest exporter of oil (after Saudi Arabia). When the price was high, this was great news for Putin: Prior to 2014, fully 50 percent of Russia’s budget revenues came from oil and gas.

But when prices plummeted, the government was suddenly short hundreds of billions of dollars, an economic catastrophe with tremendous human costs. According to the World Bank, in 2015 real wages fell in Russia by nearly 10 percent; the Russian ruble depreciated by close to 40 percent; and the population of people classified as poor increased from 3 million to over 19 million. Putin plays the strongman, but this economic crisis makes him vulnerable at home.

We’ve also heard a lot about that massive deal between Exxon Mobil and the Russian state oil company Rosneft to drill for oil in the Arctic (Putin bragged that it was worth half a trillion dollars). That deal was derailed by U.S. sanctions against Russia and despite the posturing on both sides over Syria, it is still entirely possible that Trump will decide to lift the sanctions and clear the way for that deal to go ahead, which would quickly boost Exxon Mobil’s flagging fortunes.

But even if the sanctions are lifted, there is another factor standing in the way of the project moving forward: the depressed price of oil. Tillerson made the deal with Rosneft in 2011, when the price of oil was soaring at around $110 a barrel. Their first commitment was to explore for oil in the sea north of Siberia, under tough-to-extract, icy conditions. The break-even price for Arctic drilling is estimated to be around $100 a barrel, if not more. So even if sanctions are lifted under Trump, it won’t make sense for Exxon and Rosneft to move ahead with their project unless oil prices are high enough. Which is yet another reason why parties might embrace the kind of instability that would send oil prices shooting back up.

If the price of oil rises to $80 or more a barrel, then the scramble to dig up and burn the dirtiest fossil fuels, including those under melting ice, will be back on. A price rebound would unleash a global frenzy in new high-risk, high-carbon fossil fuel extraction, from the Arctic to the tar sands. And if that is allowed to happen, it really would rob us of our last chance of averting catastrophic climate change.

So, in a very real sense, preventing war and averting climate chaos are one and the same fight.

A screen displays financial data on Jan. 22, 2008.

Photo: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Economic Shocks

A centerpiece of Trump’s economic project so far has been a flurry of financial deregulation that makes economic shocks and disasters distinctly more likely. Trump has announced plans to dismantle Dodd-Frank, the most substantive piece of legislation introduced after the 2008 banking collapse. Dodd-Frank wasn’t tough enough, but its absence will liberate Wall Street to go wild blowing new bubbles, which will inevitably burst, creating new economic shocks.

Trump and his team are not unaware of this, they are simply unconcerned — the profits from those market bubbles are too tantalizing. Besides, they know that since the banks were never broken up, they are still too big to fail, which means that if it all comes crashing down, they will be bailed out again, just like in 2008. (In fact, Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of the specific part of Dodd-Frank designed to prevent taxpayers from being stuck with the bill for another such bailout — an ominous sign, especially with so many former Goldman executives making White House policy.)

Some members of the administration surely also see a few coveted policy options opening up in the wake of a good market shock or two. During the campaign, Trump courted voters by promising not to touch Social Security or Medicare. But that may well be untenable, given the deep tax cuts on the way (and the fictional math beneath the claims that they will pay for themselves). His proposed budget already begins the attack on Social Security and an economic crisis would give Trump a handy excuse to abandon those promises altogether. In the midst of a moment being sold to the public as economic Armageddon, Betsy DeVos might even have a shot at realizing her dream of replacing public schools with a system based on vouchers and charters.

Trump’s gang has a long wish list of policies that do not lend themselves to normal times. In the early days of the new administration, for instance, Mike Pence met with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to hear how the governor had managed to strip public sector unions of their right to collective bargaining in 2011. (Hint: He used the cover of the state’s fiscal crisis, prompting New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to declare that in Wisconsin “the shock doctrine is on full display.”)

Taken together, the picture is clear. We will very likely not see this administration’s full economic barbarism in the first year. That will only reveal itself later, after the inevitable budget crises and market shocks kick in. Then, in the name of rescuing the government and perhaps the entire economy, the White House will start checking off the more challenging items on the corporate wish list.

Cattle menaced by a wildfire near Protection, Kansas, on March, 7, 2017.

Photo: Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/TNS/Getty Images

Weather Shocks

Just as Trump’s national security and economic policies are sure to generate and deepen crises, the administration’s moves to ramp up fossil fuel production, dismantle large parts of the country’s environmental laws, and trash the Paris climate accord all pave the way for more large-scale industrial accidents — not to mention future climate disasters. There is a lag time of about a decade between the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the full resulting warming, so the very worst climatic effects of the administration’s policies won’t likely be felt until they’re out of office.

That said, we’ve already locked in so much warming that no president can complete a term without facing major weather-related disasters. In fact, Trump wasn’t even two months on the job before he was confronted with overwhelming wildfires on the Great Plains, which led to so many cattle deaths that one rancher described the event as “our Hurricane Katrina.”

Trump showed no great interest in the fires, not even sparing them a tweet. But when the first superstorm hits a coast, we should expect a very different reaction from a president who knows the value of oceanfront property, has open contempt for the poor, and has only ever been interested in building for the 1 percent. The worry, of course, is a repeat of Katrina’s attacks on public housing and public schools, as well as the contractor free for all that followed the disaster, especially given the central role played by Mike Pence in shaping post-Katrina policy.

The biggest Trump-era escalation, however, will most likely be in disaster response services marketed specifically toward the wealthy. When I was writing “The Shock Doctrine,” this industry was still in its infancy, and several early companies didn’t make it. I wrote, for instance, about a short-lived airline called Help Jet, based in Trump’s beloved West Palm Beach. While it lasted, Help Jet offered an array of gold-plated rescue services in exchange for a membership fee.

When a hurricane was on its way, Help Jet dispatched limousines to pick up members, booked them into five-star golf resorts and spas somewhere safe, then whisked them away on private jets. “No standing in lines, no hassle with crowds, just a first-class experience that turns a problem into a vacation,” read the company’s marketing materials. “Enjoy the feeling of avoiding the usual hurricane evacuation nightmare.” With the benefit of hindsight, it seems Help Jet, far from misjudging the market for these services, was simply ahead of its time. These days, in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, the more serious high-end survivalists are hedging against climate disruption and social collapse by buying space in custom-built underground bunkers in Kansas (protected by heavily armed mercenaries) and building escape homes on high ground in New Zealand. It goes without saying that you need your own private jet to get there.

What is worrying about the entire top-of-the-line survivalist phenomenon (apart from its general weirdness) is that, as the wealthy create their own luxury escape hatches, there is diminishing incentive to maintain any kind of disaster response infrastructure that exists to help everyone, regardless of income — precisely the dynamic that led to enormous and unnecessary suffering in New Orleans during Katrina.

And this two-tiered disaster infrastructure is galloping ahead at alarming speed. In fire-prone states such as California and Colorado, insurance companies provide a “concierge” service to their exclusive clients: When wildfires threaten their mansions, the companies dispatch teams of private firefighters to coat them in re-retardant. The public sphere, meanwhile, is left to further decay.

California provides a glimpse of where this is all headed. For its firefighting, the state relies on upwards of 4,500 prison inmates, who are paid a dollar an hour when they’re on the fire line, putting their lives at risk battling wildfires, and about two bucks a day when they’re back at camp. By some estimates, California saves a billion dollars a year through this program — a snapshot of what happens when you mix austerity politics with mass incarceration and climate change.

Migrants and refugees gather close to a border crossing near the Greek village of Idomeni, on March 5, 2016, where thousands of people wait to enter Macedonia.

Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

A World of Green Zones and Red Zones

The uptick in high-end disaster prep also means there is less reason for the big winners in our economy to embrace the demanding policy changes required to prevent an even warmer and more disaster-prone future. Which might help explain the Trump administration’s determination to do everything possible to accelerate the climate crisis.

So far, much of the discussion around Trump’s environmental rollbacks has focused on supposed schisms between the members of his inner circle who actively deny climate science, including EPA head Scott Pruitt and Trump himself, and those who concede that humans are indeed contributing to planetary warming, such as Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump. But this misses the point: What everyone who surrounds Trump shares is a confidence that they, their children, and indeed their class will be just fine, that their wealth and connections will protect them from the worst of the shocks to come. They will lose some beachfront property, sure, but nothing that can’t be replaced with a new mansion on higher ground.

This insouciance is representative of an extremely disturbing trend. In an age of ever-widening income inequality, a significant cohort of our elites are walling themselves off not just physically but also psychologically, mentally detaching themselves from the collective fate of the rest of humanity. This secessionism from the human species (if only in their own minds) liberates the rich not only to shrug off the urgent need for climate action but also to devise ever more predatory ways to profit from current and future disasters and instability. What we are hurtling toward is a world demarcated into fortified Green Zones for the super-rich, Red Zones for everyone else — and black sites for whoever doesn’t cooperate. Europe, Australia, and North America are erecting increasingly elaborate (and privatized) border fortresses to seal themselves off from people fleeing for their lives. Fleeing, quite often, as a direct result of forces unleashed primarily by those fortressed continents, whether predatory trade deals, wars, or ecological disasters intensified by climate change.

In fact, if we chart the locations of the most intense conflict spots in the world right now — from the bloodiest battlefields in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq — what becomes clear is that these also happen to be some of the hottest and driest places on earth. It takes very little to push these regions into drought and famine, which frequently acts as an accelerant to conflict, which of course drives migration.

And the same capacity to discount the humanity of the “other,” which justifies civilian deaths and casualties from bombs and drones in places like Yemen and Somalia, is now being trained on the people in the boats  — casting their need for security as a threat, their desperate flight as some sort of invading army. This is the context in which well over 13,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores since 2014, many of them children, toddlers, and babies. It is the context in which the Australian government has sought to normalize the incarceration of refugees in island detention camps on Nauru and Manus, under conditions that numerous humanitarian organizations have described as tantamount to torture. This is also the context in which the massive, recently demolished migrant camp in Calais, France, was nicknamed “the jungle” — an echo of the way Katrina’s abandoned people were categorized in right-wing media as “animals.”

The dramatic rise in right-wing nationalism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy over the past decade cannot be pried apart from these larger geopolitical and ecological trends. The only way to justify such barbaric forms of exclusion is to double down on theories of racial hierarchy that tell a story about how the people being locked out of the global Green Zone deserve their fate, whether it’s Trump casting Mexicans as rapists and “bad hombres,” and Syrian refugees as closet terrorists, or prominent Conservative Canadian politician Kellie Leitch proposing that immigrants be screened for “Canadian values,” or successive Australian prime ministers justifying those sinister island detention camps as a “humanitarian” alternative to death at sea.

This is what global destabilization looks like in societies that have never redressed their foundational crimes — countries that have insisted slavery and indigenous land theft were just glitches in otherwise proud histories. After all, there is little more Green Zone/Red Zone than the economy of the slave plantation — of cotillions in the master’s house steps away from torture in the fields, all of it taking place on the violently stolen indigenous land on which North America’s wealth was built. And now the same theories of racial hierarchy that justified those violent thefts in the name of building the industrial age are surging to the surface as the system of wealth and comfort they constructed starts to unravel on multiple fronts simultaneously.

Trump is just one early and vicious manifestation of that unraveling. He is not alone. He won’t be the last.

Residents of the Mangueira ‘favela’ community, foreground, watch fireworks explode over Maracana stadium during opening ceremonies for the 2016 Olympic Games on Aug. 5, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

A Crisis of Imagination

It seems relevant that the walled city where the wealthy few live in relative luxury while the masses outside war with one another for survival is pretty much the default premise of every dystopian sci-fi movie that gets made these days, from “The Hunger Games,” with the decadent Capitol versus the desperate colonies, to “Elysium,” with its spa-like elite space station hovering above a sprawling and lethal favela. It’s a vision deeply enmeshed with the dominant Western religions, with their grand narratives of great floods washing the world clean and a chosen few selected to begin again. It’s the story of the great fires that sweep in, burning up the unbelievers and taking the righteous to a gated city in the sky. We have collectively imagined this extreme winners-and-losers ending for our species so many times that one of our most pressing tasks is learning to imagine other possible ends to the human story in which we come together in crisis rather than split apart, take down borders rather than erect more of them.

Because the point of all that dystopian art was never to act as a temporal GPS, showing us where we are inevitably headed. The point was to warn us, to wake us — so that, seeing where this perilous road leads, we can decide to swerve.

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” So said Thomas Paine many years ago, neatly summarizing the dream of escaping the past that is at the heart of both the colonial project and the American Dream. The truth, however, is that we do not have this godlike power of reinvention, nor did we ever. We must live with the messes and mistakes we have made, as well as within the limits of what our planet can sustain.

But we do have it in our power to change ourselves, to attempt to right past wrongs, and to repair our relationships with one another and with the planet we share. It’s this work that is the bedrock of shock resistance.

Adapted from the new book by Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, to be published by Haymarket Books on June 13. www.noisnotenough.org

Top photo: Firefighters from across Kansas and Oklahoma battle a wildfire near Protection, Kansas, on March 6, 2017.

The post The Worst of Donald Trump’s Toxic Agenda Is Lying in Wait – A Major U.S. Crisis Will Unleash It appeared first on The Intercept.

Os ministros estão nus: surdez seletiva escancara farsa pública do TSE

9 June 2017 - 7:31pm

Apesar da enxurrada de provas, Michel Temer sai impune do julgamento no Tribunal Superior Eleitoral e poderá continuar com sua brilhante atuação presidencial. O desfecho até que era previsível. O que se poderia esperar de sete figuras de capa preta reunidas num porão para julgar a vampiresca figura de Conde Temer?

Mas teve quem chegasse a aventar a hipótese de cassação. Às vezes parecia demais imaginar que um tribunal superior, com três juízes emprestados da corte máxima do país, daria as costas para a crescente quantidade de crimes que envolveram a campanha para eleição de Dilma Rousseff e de seu vice traidor, Michel Temer.

O relator Herman Benjamin tratou de esmiuçar tudo o que seria varrido para baixo do tapete e passou uma tarde e uma manhã lendo o voto a favor da cassação. Nele ressaltou a existência de provas de que dinheiro desviado de empreiteiras foi usado na campanha vencedora. Argumentou que isso seria mais do que suficiente para cassar a chapa, uma vez que não é preciso mostrar que o dinheiro veio de propina, caixa dois, ou outra mutreta qualquer. Basta que ele não tenha sido oficialmente declarado.

Diante das evidências, quatro dos sete ministros que compõem a Corte pareciam agir como meninos marrentos da terceira série, metendo os dedos nos ouvidos e repetindo um lálálálá para não escutar a verdade.

Mostrou também não ser necessário provar que Temer ou Dilma sabiam do crime. O fato de terem sido beneficiados, ainda que não fosse suficiente para tirar-lhes os direitos políticos, seria o bastante para privar-lhes do mandato, visto que outros candidatos foram prejudicados pelo tal abuso de poder financeiro. O relator também fez questão de rebater a suposta separação das duas campanhas. No Brasil, argumentou, não se vota em vice-presidente. Vota-se numa chapa. Os mesmos que elegeram Dilma, para desgostos eterno dos petralhas, elegeram Temer.

Diante das evidências, quatro dos sete ministros que compõem a Corte pareciam agir como meninos marrentos da terceira série, metendo os dedos nos ouvidos e repetindo um lálálálá para não escutar a verdade.

Quando falaram, nas discussões preliminares e nos apartes à fala de Benjamin, disseram que parte dos fatos apurados não estava no processo inicial aberto pelo PSDB, em 2014, portanto não poderia ser julgado. O presidente da Corte, Gilmar Mendes, que assumiu com louvor o papel de advogado de defesa, afirmou que os depoimentos relativos à Odebrecht que surgiram no curso do julgamento “não guardam relação com a causa de pedir delimitada na inicial”.

Gustavo Guedes, advogado de Temer, e Flávio Caetano, advogado de Dilma, em clima descontraído durante o julgamento.

Foto: Roberto Jayme/Ascom/TSE

O relator usou de uma tranquilidade sobre-humana para repetir e repetir e repetir. Estava lá, na petição inicial dos tucanos, item 1.2.2.: “Financiamento de campanha mediante doações oficiais de empreiteiras contratadas pela Petrobras como parte de distribuição de propinas”.

Gilmar, claro, não foi o único a sair em defesa do Conde. Napoleão Maia disse que só se poderia analisar fatos relativos à campanha de 2014, ignorando a dinâmica de contribuição ilegal que se estende através dos anos. Admar Gonzaga defendeu que o tribunal examinasse apenas o caixa um. Em outras palavras, vamos ignorar a parte criminosa e olhar só para o que foi legal. Benjamin achou esse argumento um pouco fantasioso demais e passou o resto da tarde de quinta-feira (8) tripudiando o colega. Sempre que falava em caixa um ou caixa dois, mencionava Gonzaga como se aquela ironia fina pudesse, de alguma forma, ter valor na Corte. Não, não podia.

Já Tarcísio Vieira Neto apelou para a importância das eleições, vejam só. Menos de um ano depois de um impeachment baseado em manobras fiscais até então corriqueiras na política nacional ter deposto uma presidente eleita, argumentou que destituir um presidente não eleito enfraqueceria a democracia.

Pois é. Feio. Mas isso não é tudo. Quem acompanhou o caso, mesmo que sem muito afinco, percebeu que Gilmar Mendes simplesmente mudou de opinião ao longo do tempo. “É grande a responsabilidade desse tribunal, pois não podemos permitir que o país se transforme em um sindicato de ladrões”, dizia em agosto de 2015, quando Dilma ainda era presidente.

Quanta diferença para o Gilmar advogado do compadre Temer de agora: “É preciso moderar a sanha cassadora porque de fato você coloca em jogo outro valor, que é o valor do mandato, o valor da manifestação popular certa ou errada”, disse na quinta-feira (8).

Por fim, chegamos àquele que talvez seja o ponto mais grave da farsa toda: dois dos quatro ministros adeptos da surdez seletiva – Admar Gonzaga e Tarcísio Vieira Neto – foram recentemente indicados por Temer.

Antes mesmo de lerem seus votos, os indicados por Temer mandaram as aparências às favas.

Trata-se de um tiro fatal na credibilidade do TSE. Que derruba também a tese de que o juiz, uma vez ungido pelo manto negro do cargo, coloca-se acima dos interesses políticos. Há (ou havia) quem acredite nisso. Semana passada, ao perguntar sobre o constrangimento de um réu indicar seu julgador, ouvi a seguinte resposta do consultor em direito eleitoral da OAB Hélio Freitas da Silveira: “O ministro, para dizer que é independente, pode votar ao contrário. Justamente para dizer que não tem conflito ele julga contrariamente ao presidente”.

Certo. Só que não. Antes mesmo de lerem seus votos, os indicados por Temer mandaram as aparências às favas. Colocaram-se contra os fatos, tornaram-se cúmplices togados dos crimes que estão julgando.

O relator Benjamin, que levou horas enumerando suas razões para votar pela cassação da chapa.

Roberto Jayme/Ascom/TSE

Após dias ao microfone, no começo da tarde de sexta (9), o quixotesco relator Herman Benjamin finalmente terminou a leitura de seu voto. No fim, acusou a derrota de forma algo lúgubre: “Eu, como juiz, recuso o papel de coveiro de prova viva. Posso até participar do velório. Mas não carrego o caixão”, disse.

Terminado o julgamento,  os reflexos de tal enterro devem ir além do TSE. Como ficará, por exemplo, a Lava Jato? Afinal, boa parte dos crimes para os quais os magistrados viraram as costas foram revelados no bojo da operação. Quer dizer então que eles não valeram? Ou só valem para uma parcela dos culpados?

E que mensagem será passada à população? Que lição chegará aos corruptos e corruptores? Ou aos supostos cidadãos de bem, adeptos do jeitinho brasileiro, sonegadores de imposto, subornadores de guarda de trânsito, tomadores de vagas de deficiente? Do subterrâneo de Brasília, os quatro magistrados que se erguem para salvar Temer parecem não se importar. Parecem continuar com os dedos metidos nos ouvidos repetindo em voz alta: lálálálálá.

The post Os ministros estão nus: surdez seletiva escancara farsa pública do TSE appeared first on The Intercept.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Critics Predicted He Would Destroy Labour. They Were Radically Wrong.

9 June 2017 - 12:14pm

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party received more votes than in any election for decades, outperforming expectations in a snap contest that an overly confident Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May herself called. Rather than gaining seats, May’s party lost about a dozen and is now trying to form a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party. Although final figures are not yet in, pollsters estimate that this outcome was the result of a surge of youth turnout that reached almost 70 percent.

These results come after years of predictions from both sides of the Atlantic that Corbyn’s leadership of Labour would relegate it to a fringe party and destroy its electoral prospects.

Tom Peck, a political correspondent for The Independent, wrote in 2016 that Corbyn “will lead Labour to electoral oblivion. Of that there is no doubt.” J.K. Rowling, the prominent author of the Harry Potter series of novels, predicted last year that Corbyn would bring about “the destruction of the Labour Party.”

Popular columnist Nick Cohen predicted that “Corbyn’s Labour won’t just lose. It’ll be slaughtered.” Piers Morgan even predicted the Conservatives would win a “90-100 seat majority.”

Opposition also came from senior members of Corbyn’s own party. “Jeremy’s personal ratings are the worst of any opposition leader on record — and the Labour party is suffering badly as a result,” complained Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, as he supported a challenger to Corbyn’s leadership last year.

Owen Smith, who challenged Corbyn for leadership in 2016, repeatedly argued that Corbyn’s Labour Party would be essentially a social movement that could not gain power. “We are a Labour government in waiting, not a protest movement,” he lectured Corbyn during a debate.

Zack Beauchamp of Vox.com, a popular political website in the United States, used Corbyn as an example of why left-wing economic policy supposedly can’t stop right-wing populism. “Take Britain’s Labour Party, which swung to the populist left by electing Jeremy Corbyn, a socialist who has proposed renationalizing Britain’s rail system, as its leader in 2015,” Beauchamp wrote earlier this year. “The results have been disastrous: the Brexit vote in favor of leaving the European Union, plummeting poll numbers for both Corbyn and his party, and a British political scene that is shifting notably to the right on issues of immigration and multiculturalism.”

Media Matters’s Eric Boehlert warned that “Corbyn’s been a disaster for Labour” this past January.

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten tweeted out a Washington Post article claiming that Corbyn’s ascendance would result in a worse result than 2015, when the Conservatives won a clear majority over Labour. “Lessons to be learned…” she added.

One-time Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said in an interview with the former president that the “Labor Party just sort of disintegrated in the face of their [2015] defeat and move so far left that it’s, you know, in a very — in a very frail state,” calling the process “Corbynization.” Obama seemed to agree with assessment, saying that “the Democratic Party has stayed pretty grounded in fact and reality.” Contrasting Bernie Sanders to Corbyn, Obama assured Axelrod that the same process wouldn’t happen in the United States because “Bernie Sanders is a pretty centrist politician relative to Corbyn or relative to some of the Republicans.”

Labour’s stronger-than-predicted performance appears to validate Corbyn’s thesis that a populist platform and an outsider leader would boost voter turnout and make the party more viable, not less. Or it at least proves that his approach is no disaster.

Cathy Newman of the U.K.’s Channel 4 News summarized the feeling among British pundits:

Ok let's be honest, until the last few weeks many of us under-estimated @jeremycorbyn #ExitPoll #GE2017

— Cathy Newman (@cathynewman) June 8, 2017

Top photo: Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn waves as he leaves the party headquarters in central London on June 9, 2017.

The post Jeremy Corbyn’s Critics Predicted He Would Destroy Labour. They Were Radically Wrong. appeared first on The Intercept.

After Election Setback, Theresa May Clings to Power in U.K. Thanks to Ulster Extremists

9 June 2017 - 10:47am

At the end of an election campaign that was nasty, brutish and short, British voters punished Prime Minister Theresa May at the polls on Thursday, depriving her Conservative Party of its governing majority in Parliament, and forcing her to rely on the support of a small party of extremists from Northern Ireland to stay in office.

Despite a late surge in support for the opposition Labour Party, whose leader Jeremy Corbyn offered a more uplifting vision of the future, the Conservatives managed to hold on to most of their seats, but are now the largest party in what’s known as a hung Parliament, where no single party can rule without some form of support from at least one other.

May said on Friday that she would govern with the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party, or D.U.P., social conservatives from the Ulster Protestant community whose main aim is keeping Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom.

I will form a government to "provide certainty and lead Britain forward" – Theresa May https://t.co/8xOR0z6PJc #bbcelection #GE2017 pic.twitter.com/GPFYj5GxH5

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 9, 2017

As several commentators observed on Friday, the British public generally pays no attention to politics in Northern Ireland, and so might be in for a shock to discover just how extreme a party the D.U.P. is.

Ian Paisley, longtime leader of the DUP, was a religious fundamentalist. So much for May fighting extremism

— Omar Waraich (@OmarWaraich) June 9, 2017

The party, cofounded by Ian Paisley — who once denounced Pope John Paul II as “the antichrist” — includes fundamentalist Christians who believe in creationism but not climate science, and have fought to keep U.K. laws permitting both abortion and same-sex marriage from being implemented in the province.

The DUP is the political wing of the 18th century, a bunch of homophobic bigots, and now they have the Tories over a barrel. ?

— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) June 9, 2017

They have blocked a women's right to bodily autonomy. You can't have an abortion in Northern Ireland, thanks to the DUP.

— Stuart Gibson (@stuartgibson) June 9, 2017

Several of them, including former environment and health ministers, are young-earth creationists.

— Stuart Gibson (@stuartgibson) June 9, 2017

Terrorist organisations literally did a mail drop last week telling people they had to vote for them.

— Stuart Gibson (@stuartgibson) June 9, 2017

The #DUP is stuffed with climate change deniers, homophobes and misogynists. May's alliance is a dishonourable coalition of chaos.

— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) June 9, 2017

The D.U.P. also has a history of ties to loyalist paramilitary gangs responsible for past terrorist atrocities. The party’s leader, Arlene Foster, even met last week with the head of the Ulster Defence Association, a paramilitary group that was supposed to have disbanded after a peace accord was signed in 1998, but continues to exist and was implicated in a gangland-style killing just days earlier.

Jackie McDonald on chatting with Arlene Foster this week.https://t.co/XcZDCbx9At @irish_news pic.twitter.com/8oYQi1yn5W

— Brendan Hughes (@brendanhughes64) June 1, 2017

Given that the vicious tabloid campaign to smear Jeremy Corbyn as an “apologist for terror,” focused on his supposed failure to condemn the I.R.A. in strong enough terms, it will be interesting to see how those same newspapers now present May’s deal with the political allies of Ulster militants as perfectly acceptable.

Should May’s government survive throughout the Brexit negotiations — another election is certainly possible, as is an internal challenge to her leadership — cooperation with the Ulster Unionists will also put the focus on how the deal might effect the currently open border between the Republic of Ireland, which is staying in the E.U., and Northern Ireland, which will leave with the rest of the U.K.

The election results were May’s reward for running what was widely described as a dismal campaign, in which she promised an austere future marked by further cuts to social services and police numbers, and threatened to pull the U.K. from the European Union with no trade agreement at all if necessary to satisfy Brexit fanatics. She also, to no apparent profit, raised the possibility of lifting the ban on fox hunting, which appears to have cost her votes.

Anecdotally from candidates and based on our most-shared data, I really think fox hunting (& ivory ban) cost the Tories some marginal seats.

— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) June 9, 2017

I've just passed a fox ?.He looked well pleased. #hungparliament

— Jim Corbridge (@MrBonMot) June 9, 2017

2. Fox hunting & changes to social care were turning points in how people felt about the PM in highly personalised campaign

— Sarah Wollaston (@sarahwollaston) June 9, 2017

That the Conservatives lost at least a dozen seats, and Labour gained at least 29, was a stunning reversal from the expected outcome just seven weeks ago, when May called the election three years early because of a commanding lead in opinion polls that showed her more than 20 points ahead of the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

Although the Conservatives won at least 57 more seats than Labour, their final advantage in the popular vote was just two percentage points: 42-40.

The last time a losing Labour leader got 40% of the vote was 1970.
Gordon Brown — 29%
Ed Miliband — 30%
Michael Foot — 28% pic.twitter.com/WBtxJD13lW

— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) June 9, 2017

Given the unbridled hostility of Britain’s right-wing tabloids for Corbyn, and a lack of support from the more centrist members of his party, Labour’s strong second on a boldly left-wing platform — promising free university tuition and better funding for the National Health Service — was a remarkable showing.

This week, the anti-democratic Tory press tried to tell people how to vote. The people of Britain said, "FUCK NO, NOT THIS TIME." pic.twitter.com/UVllwI44fr

— hrtbps (@hrtbps) June 9, 2017

It was also made possible, at least in part, by a media law that compels British broadcasters to give genuinely fair and balanced coverage to major parties during election campaigns. For the past seven weeks, while the nation’s newspapers have been filled with anti-Corbyn invective, and the Conservatives flooded Facebook feeds with misleading video of his remarks about the I.R.A., television coverage of the campaign gave airtime to discussions of Labour’s policy proposals, which proved to be broadly popular.

While detailed estimates of the turnout by age are not yet available, many pollsters concluded that Corbyn’s campaign had inspired young voters, who overwhelmingly support him, to go to the polls in greater numbers than usual — upsetting turnout models that expected a Conservative win based on an older electorate.

How did this result happen? My 14,000-sample post-vote poll points to the answers at https://t.co/jBlv7ScWJo pic.twitter.com/dDGpe6s0zZ

— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) June 9, 2017

"Data suggests this is the first election since 1992 that the majority of young people (18-24's) have voted" – Prof Jon Tonge#bbcelection pic.twitter.com/uKpFM64WYj

— BBC Radio 5 live (@bbc5live) June 9, 2017

Top photo: Britain’s Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May returns to 10 Downing Street in central London on June 9, 2017.

The post After Election Setback, Theresa May Clings to Power in U.K. Thanks to Ulster Extremists appeared first on The Intercept.

Playing Cops: Militia Member Aids Police in Arresting Protester at Portland Alt-right Rally

8 June 2017 - 7:06pm

Fourteen people were arrested at an alt-right rally in Portland, Oregon, last weekend. A man named Todd Kelsay helped with one of the arrests. In videos and photographs posted online, Kelsay can be seen on his knees with a group of police officers, reaching behind one of their backs to retrieve a plastic handcuff to arrest an unidentified black-clad protester. In one video, Kelsay appears to be assisting three officers in cuffing the suspect.

Yet Kelsay stood out. The federal Department of Homeland Security Federal Protective Service officers he was aiding wore dark blue helmets and flak jackets with “POLICE DHS” patched across the front. Kelsay, on the other hand, sported a desert camouflage helmet and ballistic vest over a black tee shirt and jeans.

The discrepancy in appearance arose because Kelsay is not with the Portland police nor with the federal DHS police whom he was aiding.

Instead, Kelsay, who is a member of the American Freedom Keepers, a right-wing militia, was there helping to secure the free speech rally” organized by alt-right activists. (The Freedom Keepers, Kelsay said, did not officially take part in the rally.) In an interview Tuesday, Kelsay told The Intercept that he was instructed by DHS police to assist in the arrest. “I was asked, while I was on the ground, by a police officer, ‘Help me, hand me the handcuffs.’ He was looking at me. So I handed him the cuffs,” Kelsay said. But that wasn’t the only time Kelsay or other alt-righters played cops at the rally.

Members of a security detachment attend a pro-Trump Freedom Rally at Terry Schrunk plaza in downtown Portland on June 4, 2017.

Photo: Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire/AP

With the extremes of the American political spectrum squaring off nearly every week in tense rallies and counter-protests, where violence erupts not infrequently, police are drawing outside aid from only one side: the far-right. That police forces would ask for and accept help from far-right protesters might not be as surprising as it seems: In January, The Intercept revealed that right-wing infiltration of law enforcement had grown so prevalent that the FBI investigated the trend.

The relationship works both ways: Police get help, and alt-right demonstrators are seemingly put above the law in return. The result is that militia members who work security for alt-right events are carrying out policing activities with impunity under the gaze of actual police. At the June 4 Portland rally, eyewitnesses report at least two other instances in which alt-right forces apparently attacked protesters without instigation.

The protester Kelsay helped detain was arrested shortly after another member of the rally’s unofficial security detachment blocked his path as police stood quietly by. A DHS officer suddenly rushed toward the protester who then fled and was nabbed by a third militiaman.

This account of Kelsay’s self-described collaboration with DHS police is drawn from three hours of phone interviews with him, as well as witness accounts, videos, and photographs obtained by The Intercept and posted to social media. Kelsay, 48, repeatedly admitted he assisted DHS police in physically securing the individual. In the videos, the officer can be seen turning toward Kelsay before the militiaman retrieves a zip-tie. By this point there are more than half-a-dozen DHS officers securing the arrest, but none appear to ask Kelsay to leave or stop handling the suspect.

The Portland rally had been organized by alt-right leader Joey Gibson, and attended by hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump. Thousands of counter-protesters, including immigrant, religious, labor, and left groups opposed to the event, which came as Portlanders were still reeling from the May 26 murder of two men, allegedly by a white supremacist named Jeremy Christian (Christian attended a Gibson-sponsored event in Portland in late April).

DHS police were on hand because Terry Schrunk Plaza, the site of the rally, is federal property, including the sidewalk out front. A spokesperson for DHS Federal Protective Service said 40 officers from the FPS were “on the ground to secure the safety and security of everyone in and around federal facilities.” (DHS did not respond to a detailed inquiry about alleged cooperation between militia members and DHS police.)

Antifascist demonstrators confront police during a protest on June 4, 2017 in Portland, Ore.

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The DHS police looked on as Kelsay and the unidentified protester he would later arrest began arguing — “aggressive,” was how Kelsay described him. A three-minute video shows the two having a civil dispute. “You’re being asked to leave,” Kelsay said at one point, extending his arm. While Kelsay and the youth talk, a Portland officer and a DHS officer observe but do not question Kelsay’s actions. The young protester in black shuffles in the other direction and is blocked by another member of the rally security team, identifiable by the uniform of military-style clothing and yellow tape. With more police looking on, DHS officer charged the young protester in black, for reasons that remain unclear, and the chase began.

“They were yelling, ‘Stop, stop him,’” Kelsay recalled. He fell behind but kept up his chase: “So if the police needed the assistance I could give it.”

Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, a member of a different militia, was finally the one who stopped the protester. “I picked him up and slammed him into the ground,” Toese told The Intercept. “I was trying to help law enforcement.” As officers swarmed the scene, a fourth video appears to show Kelsay applying the zip-tie cuffs. Kelsay said the officer “put the cuffs on but I still had a hold of the tail of the cuff. He said, ‘Tighten them up.’ I don’t know if he was talking to me, but I had a hold of them, so I tightened them up. Then I helped them pick him up. I didn’t want him to get hurt.”

A photo snapped seconds later by an Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter shows a mix of militiamen and police. “Officers thank Trump Free Speech Rally hired security for their help taking down a fleeing protester,” Bruce Vance, the reporter, tweeted along with the picture.

Kelsay had been boasting of his relationship with the police earlier in the day. “‘All I have to do is snap my fingers and the cops will arrest you,’” Jonathan Shields, a counter-protester, recalled Kelsay saying in an encounter before the arrests (Kelsay denied making the remark). “He was granted authority to keep the sidewalk clear by the police,” Shields added.

Kelsay claims he was simply following orders from the police. “We did what they they told us to —  crowd control,” Kelsay said. “We were supposed to keep the counter-protesters out. We were permitted to exclude people if we saw they were a possible danger.”

But local police claim steps were taken to avoid protest attendees and unofficial security engaged in law enforcement activities. Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Bureau said, “There was a conversation between the organizers of the event, the FPS and PPB that they were not to interfere in any arrests, particularly anyone acting as private security.”

Simpson, however, stopped short of expressing any grave alarm that the arrangement wasn’t honored. “Private citizens conducting policing functions is concerning if they are not being asked to help,” he said. Then Simpson turned his attention to mostly unconfirmed allegations made about left-wing counter-protesters: “I am more concerned about bricks, bloody tampons, and urine-filled balloons being thrown at our officers.” (The ACLU of Oregon criticized the police response  to protesters.)

A protester is detained by Portland police during a demonstration in Portland, Sunday, June 4, 2017.

Photo: Dave Killen/The Oregonian/AP

Eyewitnesses claim there were two other instances in which police ignored alt-righters running rampant. One counter-protester, Andrew Riley, said he saw an incident in the DHS-controlled area where a person in dark clothing, who was yelling, was “picked up by someone wearing camo clothing with the yellow stripes and a ballistic vest and body slammed to the ground.” He said, “Within five seconds at least three cops moved in and immediately knelt on the person,” and as they cuffed the person the militia man “was kneeling on the protester alongside police.”

In a third case, Nate Gowdy, a photojournalist, claimed he and other counter-protesters were attacked by pro-Trump demonstrators while DHS police watched passively. Eyewitness accounts, photos, and a recollection on Facebook paint a picture of alt-righters with helmets and battle gear make an unprovoked attack with pepper spray and a flagpole. Close to 10 DHS police stood nearby and only intervened to let the suspected alt-right attackers to leave the scene. (A video shows a crowd looking on as the obscured fracas unfolds.)

Alex Vitale, author of “The End of Policing” and professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, who reviewed footage of the arrest involving Kelsay, said the incident raises troubling questions. “It seems almost gratuitous, like this guy wants to get in on the action. A professional police force would not allow that.”

“Given the history of corrupt cooperation between right-wing forces and political police units like riot cops, anti-terror, and intelligence, we should always be alarmed between growing cooperation between alt-right forces and police forces,” Vitale said. “It does raise the question of what type of relationships are there, what information is being shared, and what type of planning went into this between the alt-right forces and the police handling the demonstration.”

Top photo: Right wing demonstrators hold up signs disparaging illegal immigrants at a rally on June 4, 2017 in Portland, Ore.

The post Playing Cops: Militia Member Aids Police in Arresting Protester at Portland Alt-right Rally appeared first on The Intercept.

Racismo não é gafe

8 June 2017 - 4:36pm

Ser progressista não absolve ninguém do racismo. Quando, na noite de ontem (7), o ministro do Supremo Tribunal Federal Luís Roberto Barroso – conhecido por sua postura progressista em relação a polêmicas como aborto e guerra às drogas – chamou em tom elogioso o ex-ministro Joaquim Barbosa de “negro de primeira linha”, ele foi racista, sim.

Não se trata de uma gafe, como chamou O Globo, mas do racismo nosso de cada dia, que mais uma vez se esconde atrás de boas intenções fantasiadas de elogio. Ou, como o próprio Barroso afirmou ao pedir desculpas por sua “frase infeliz” nesta quinta (8), trata-se do “racismo inconsciente”.

Em seu discurso sobre a trajetória de Barbosa, na solenidade no STF em que foi descortinado o retrato dele na galeria de ex-presidentes da Corte, Barroso afirmou que “a universidade [Uerj – onde os dois lecionaram] teve o prazer e a honra de receber um professor negro, um negro de primeira linha vindo de um doutorado de Paris”.

Será que, se fosse branco, Barbosa seria chamado de branco de primeira linha? Tanto eu quanto Barbosa sabemos que não. Mesmo se negando a emitir opinião sobre a declaração do colega, o semblante do ex-ministro mudou no momento em que recebeu o “elogio”.

Nas suas desculpas, Barroso lamenta que possa ter reforçado estereótipos, mas foi exatamente o que fez. Em sua declaração, ele endossa a ideia de que a qualificação de doutor não combina com um negro, que estaria fadado ao “cerco da subalternidade”. No mesmo inconsciente em que habita o racismo, também mora a imagem do negro feito para servir. Quando esse negro ocupa um lugar diferente deste, a sensação é de estranheza ou de surpresa: “como assim um negro no comando?”.

É preciso apontar onde existe racismo e não camuflar as atitudes racistas como pequenos tropeços.

Em entrevista à BBC Brasil, o sociólogo da UNB Emerson Rocha, que desenvolveu um estudo com base em dados do IBGE sobre o negro no mundo dos ricos, aponta que à medida que os negros ascendem, novas formas de discriminação vão ganhando espaço. Segundo ele, por mais que seja diplomado e tenha uma carreira estruturada, ele sempre será um negro – talvez de primeira linha, mas ainda assim um negro. Situação que fica evidente com a declaração do ministro Barroso.

Sabemos das dificuldades no mercado de trabalho e no meio acadêmico. Por mais que o percentual de negros nas universidade tenha dobrado, graças a políticas afirmativas como as cotas e o ProUni, ele continua sendo menor que a metade de brancos universitários. O negro continua ganhando menos. A renda do branco é mais que o dobro que a do negro. Esse retrato se dá exatamente por conta desse racismo inconsciente e sutil manifestado por Barroso.

Por conta disso, é preciso mostrar onde existe racismo e não camuflar as atitudes racistas como pequenos tropeços. Mesmo que vindo de pessoas que majoritariamente apresentam um discurso progressista como o ministro Barroso ou no recente caso envolvendo a professora escritora Elika Takimoto e a política de cotas no Cefet. Apontar todo e qualquer racismo é um movimento necessário para enfrentá-lo em uma sociedade que insiste em negá-lo.

The post Racismo não é gafe appeared first on The Intercept.

James Comey, A Washington Operator, Knows How To Play The Game

8 June 2017 - 3:00pm

Former FBI Director James Comey cut an impressive figure during his sworn testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. His presentation was poised, low-key, and almost cold-blooded as he laid out what amounted to a meticulously constructed case against President Donald Trump. Two overflow rooms and multiple live network broadcasts suggested that Comey’s mastery of public relations and the theater of government rivaled that of his former boss. The image of a decent government man dutifully saying his piece stood in defiant contrast to the atmosphere of vulgarity and naked self-interest that Trump has brought to the Oval Office.

But the character who appears in Comey’s written accounts of his meetings with Trump — the James Comey who the former FBI director asked the committee to believe — was a far humbler man than the one who showed up for the hearing. Despite Comey’s self-reported concerns that Trump’s pattern of inappropriate and possibly illegal conduct was a threat to the independence of the FBI, he never fully voiced those concerns to Trump’s face while he was among the nation’s top law enforcement officials. Instead, he wrote them down.

Today, Comey revealed that his release of details from his conversations with Trump was carefully timed to trigger the appointment of a special counsel, a development that could bring about the end of Trump’s presidency. Beneath the mask of the by-the-book, duty-driven Comey was a more cunning man, an operator who quickly identified a dangerous adversary and plotted several moves ahead in order to get the best of him.

Comey’s private accounting began on January 6, when he met Trump for the first time in a conference room at Trump Tower. Gen. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence at the time, asked Comey to stay behind and brief Trump on a dossier of salacious allegations that had been circulating in the media. Comey wrote, “I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the president-elect in a memo.” Today, he offered the committee a more detailed account of his motives. It was “a combination of things,” Comey said. “I think the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person I was interacting with.”

“Circumstances: First, I was alone with the president of the United States, or the president-elect, soon to be president,” Comey went on. “The subject matter: I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI’s core responsibility and that relate to the president-elect personally. And then the nature of the person. I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document. That combination of things I had never experienced before, but it led me to believe I got to write it down, and I got to write it down in a very detailed way.”

Comey said that he began writing the first meeting up immediately upon getting back to his car, on a classified laptop. (Comey’s personal memos on Trump, he said on Thursday, were written in such a way as to avoid containing classified information.) His initial instincts about Trump’s integrity were correct. Trump fired Comey, offered a shifting and contradictory series of explanations, and claimed in a tweet that his meetings with Comey had been taped.

“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said on Thursday. He said that Trump’s claim about tapes offered the prospect that his account of Trump’s conduct — including an explicit demand that Comey pledge his loyalty to Trump — could be corroborated. “Holy cow, there might be tapes!” is how Comey put it. “And if there are tapes, it’s not just my word against his.”

Former FBI director James Comey speaks during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Comey, who led an FBI that investigated multiple leakers of classified information under President Barack Obama, awoke in the middle of the night and decided to leak against the president. He gave portions of his records to a friend, whom he described as a law professor at Columbia University, who passed portions of them onto the media. “My judgment was that I needed to get that out into the public square,” Comey said. (A Washington Post reporter confirmed that the professor was Dan Richman.)

Comey knew exactly what would happen if he leaked the memo. “Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons,” he said, “but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. So I asked a close friend of mine to do it.” When news of the memo — which recalled Trump’s request to back off investigating then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia ties — emerged in the New York Times in mid-May, it quickly became the loudest drumbeat toward a special investigation. A day later, Rod Rosenstein, the acting attorney general for the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties, appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to the special counsel position. Comey’s plan worked to a tee.

Comey said that he did try, at times, to educate the new president about the role of the FBI. “I also tried to explain to him why the FBI should be apart,” he said, speaking of the January 27 meeting, where, by Comey’s account, Trump asked for loyalty. “It got very awkward.” Comey’s statement said he told Trump that “blurring those boundaries” between the White House and the FBI “ultimately makes [White House] problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.” Nevertheless, Comey wrote, Trump persisted in complaining to him about the FBI’s investigation of Flynn. Trump repeatedly called it “a cloud” over the White House.

Comey vigorously defended the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election. “It was an active measures campaign driven by the top of that government,” he said. “That happened. It is not a close call. That is about as unfake as you can possibly get.” He said he had seen no evidence that the Russians had succeeded in changing the actual vote. (Earlier this week, The Intercept released a Top Secret NSA document describing Russian attempts to penetrate a private company that supplies voting software and more than 100 local election officials.) Nor did Comey say whether the ongoing investigation of links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government had produced evidence of collusion.

Throughout the hearing, Comey was repeatedly asked about the role Attorney General Jeff Sessions played in the Russia-Trump saga. Comey and other senior officials at the FBI had decided to withhold Trump’s alleged pressure regarding the Flynn investigation from Sessions, their boss by virtue of his position atop the Department of Justice. In both his prepared remarks and his testimony, Comey maintained that Trump requested Sessions to leave the room during the February 14 meeting at the Oval Office, in which the president asked the former FBI director to let go of the investigation into Flynn. “My impression was something big is about to happen,” Comey said of the moment Sessions was reportedly asked to step out of the room. “My impression was that the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving, which is why he was lingering.”

Comey claims to have shared the details of his conversations with the president to a circle of senior officials at the FBI. He said the group included “the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director’s chief counsel and, I think in a number of circumstances, the number three in the FBI and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch.”

“I think they were as shocked and troubled by it as I was,” Comey said, of Trump’s comments on Flynn. The question, Comey testified, then became, “Should we share this with any senior officials at the Justice Department?” He added that the FBI’s first priority was to ensure that the president’s comments were not shared with the FBI agents working the investigation into Flynn. Beyond that, Comey said, the plan was to keep the details of Trump’s comments close, to “hold it, keep it in a box.” He explained, “It was our word against the president’s.” Comey testified that he “specifically did not” tell Sessions about Trump’s comments on Flynn. “He was very close to, and inevitably going to, recuse himself for a variety of reasons” from the FBI’s Russia investigation, Comey said, which he described as “touching” but “separate” from the government’s investigation into Flynn.

How exactly Comey and his colleagues at the FBI knew that Sessions’ recusal was imminent is not entirely clear, though Comey did testify that there are additional facts regarding the decision to not inform Sessions that could not be described in open session. Following the February 14 conversation with Trump regarding Flynn, Comey claims to have asked Sessions to never again be left alone with Trump. “I report to you, it’s very important that you be between me and the White House,” Comey said of the message he conveyed to the attorney general. Comey testified that his request was met with silence, and that Sessions’ “body language gave me the sense, like, ‘What am I gonna do?’”

Did Trump’s conduct amount to obstruction of justice? “I don’t know think it’s for me to say,” Comey replied, when asked by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the committee’s chairperson. But Comey’s language could be interpreted to suggest that he now believes Trump committed a crime. As described by our colleague Ryan Grim, one who is guilty of obstruction of justice is defined by law as one “whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter of communication, endeavors to influence” court proceedings, or “the administration of justice,” which could include the Flynn investigation. Comey used the word “endeavor” towards the end of his testimony. “I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” he said. “The endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.” And Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va, said that Trump’s conduct on January 27 was a “threat.” “The president appears to have threatened the director’s job,” Warner said, “while saying, ‘I expect loyalty.’”

Top photo: Former FBI director James Comey walks to a closed-door hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington.

The post James Comey, A Washington Operator, Knows How To Play The Game appeared first on The Intercept.

As Britons Vote, Tabloids Scream Advice, But Broadcasters Keep Mum

8 June 2017 - 2:05pm

Here in Britain, where voters are casting ballots for a new Parliament, those who still get their news mainly from television or radio are enjoying a brief period of calm, thanks to strict media laws that impose an election-day ban on the broadcast of any campaign coverage that might influence how people vote.

Those laws do not extend to coverage by the nation’s newspapers, which skew heavily to the right, and were filled on Thursday with alarmist headlines, warning of catastrophe if voters did not turn out to defeat the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, for instance, urged voters not to “Chuck Britain in the Cor-Bin” — to the evident delight of Conservative candidates like James Duddridge.

Couldn't have said it better myself @TheSun dont chuck Britain in the COR-BIN. #GE2017 #VoteConservative pic.twitter.com/GFNuCwvGy4

— James Duddridge (@JamesDuddridge) June 8, 2017

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, opted for a jingoistic appeal to “Reignite Britain’s Spirit,” one day after it had cranked the dial up to 11, accusing Corbyn and the proposed leaders of his cabinet of being “Apologists for Terror.”

That headline had prompted Brian May, the musician who leads a campaign for “common decency” in British politics, to suggest that “somebody from the Daily Mail should go to prison for libel. Surely measures must be taken in the future to make newspapers as accountable for the truth and decency of their output as the rest of us.”

Some Corbyn supporters responded to the onslaught on Thursday by taking direct action, launching a viral movement to buy up all the copies of the tabloids they could lay their hands on, and make their metaphors real — by setting the papers alight, or chucking them in (recycling) bins.

This morning I reignited the British spirit with the newsagents entire stock of Suns and Daily Mails. pic.twitter.com/5SPP1D8BTP

— John Niven (@NivenJ1) June 8, 2017

Right, that's the local M&S in Hastings stock of toilet paper depleted…. pic.twitter.com/LMXOijOluP

— Ben Newman (@bennewmanillo) June 8, 2017

Inspired by @NivenJ1 I've bought the local shop's stock of toxic waste pic.twitter.com/b1YBE9Y9bd

— Marianne MacDonald (@MrsSpavins) June 8, 2017

Thanks for the inspiration @NivenJ1. 12 @DailyMailUK and 23 @TheSun BINNED. #VoteLabour2017 @jeremycorbyn pic.twitter.com/v76crkVsr3

— Ed Warren (@edforever) June 8, 2017

On the airwaves, however, there was a period of enforced tranquillity, as reports were limited to dry factual accounts and boring images of candidates walking in and out of polling places.

This pause in fevered speculation over who would win the election came at the end of a seven-week campaign period during which radio and television programs were obliged by law to provide genuinely fair and balanced reporting. Broadcasters, including not just the publicly financed BBC, but also commercial channels like Sky News — which Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox owns 39 percent of — have been forced to provide “adequate coverage” of the larger parties, giving them all “due weight,” and explaining their proposed policies with “due impartiality.”

To take one example of what that looks like in practice, consider a fair-minded report broadcast Wednesday night by Sky News — currently run by James Murdoch, Rupert’s son.

In the segment, the channel’s economics editor, Ed Conway, took viewers through the details of the tax policies of the two major parties, offering clear evidence that all but the richest Britons would do better under a Labour government than a Conservative one.

Q: Which party will make you richer? A: None of them. Unless you’re rich, in which case: the Tories. My analysis: https://t.co/ITAkucFky3 pic.twitter.com/Sii0o5rxUb

— Ed Conway (@EdConwaySky) June 7, 2017

Now try to imagine such a report ever airing on Fox News.

Should the Conservatives be returned to power, however, there is good reason to fear that the Murdochs might soon try to transform the dry, loss-making Sky News into a local version of the sensational and profitable Fox News. They have already submitted a bid to buy out their partners and take full control of the Sky network, and the next government could approve that takeover later this month.

If that happens, it seems fair to assume that a push to gradually weaken the rules mandating impartial election coverage by broadcasters will soon follow.

The current election campaign shows why that would be a real loss for British politics. Over the past seven weeks, by doing their legally mandated duty to report on the policies of the parties, television and radio coverage has changed the public conversation about the two candidates vying to become prime minister, and led to a bounce in the polls for Jeremy Corbyn.

Before the election-period media laws kicked in, coverage of Corbyn on political talk shows had focused mainly on infighting in his party and the doubts of pundits about his ability to appeal to voters beyond his far-left base. As he traveled the country during the campaign, however, the broadcasters have been forced to report on the ever-larger size of the crowds coming to hear Corbyn speak, and discovered that the policies in his manifesto are broadly popular.

Corbyn rally, Birmingham tonight. He has probably addressed bigger meetings in 2017 than any leader since Churchill pic.twitter.com/FOKWoKNXAA

— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) June 6, 2017

Theresa May, by contrast, has been shown appearing again and again in staged photo-ops, usually addressing only small numbers of party activists, clustered together behind her, to give the impression of adoring crowds. Those dry, stage-managed events — almost entirely free of substance — have been reported as such.

There are about 30 people here to watch Theresa May speak to 5 people in the back of a Dunelm in Nottingham pic.twitter.com/5CBZdVj77a

— Henry Zeffman (@hzeffman) June 7, 2017

While there was a wide disparity in the final polls — which showed Corbyn’s Labour trailing Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives by less than one percentage point or more than 12 — there was no doubt that Corbyn’s standing had surged during the campaign, while May’s had taken a hit.

Theresa May has seen her perception of her negative traits increase significantly since she took over in July 2016… https://t.co/t1FvZ1b1A6 pic.twitter.com/Y9AGOtXALQ

— YouGov (@YouGov) June 7, 2017

… while Corbyn has seen small but noticeable improvement in his perception over the course of the last 2 weeks https://t.co/t1FvZ1b1A6 pic.twitter.com/YqePADmFsx

— YouGov (@YouGov) June 7, 2017

Whether the dull, robotic nature of her campaign has been enough to swing the election away from May remains to be seen, but it is clear that the broadcast regulations giving airtime to Corbyn and his proposed solutions to Britain’s social problems has at least given him a fighting chance.

The post As Britons Vote, Tabloids Scream Advice, But Broadcasters Keep Mum appeared first on The Intercept.

Newly Threatened by Terror, Iran’s Cold Conflict With Saudi Arabia Could Escalate

8 June 2017 - 1:23pm

In the early hours of June 7, a group of six people — five men and one woman — launched coordinated terrorist attacks against two sites in Tehran, hitting the Iranian Parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Witnesses at the Parliament described attackers who were armed with assault rifles and wearing suicide vests, randomly targeting bystanders on a Wednesday morning. By the time that security forces were able to neutralize the attackers, at least 12 civilians lay dead, with another 42 reported wounded. The atrocity was claimed almost immediately by the Islamic State, in an online statement that also included video footage taken from the scene of the attacks.

While the Middle East has been ravaged by over a decade of terrorist attacks from ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terrorists groups, Iran has largely escaped deadly incidents like the one that struck Tehran on Wednesday. In a statement responding to the incident, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps suggested that “mercenaries” working on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United States were responsible, vowing to take revenge.

Along with targeting civilians in a city long considered to be safe from terrorism, however, the Islamic State’s first attack in Iran also seemed designed to further aggravate tensions in the Persian Gulf region. On his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump endorsed the virulently anti-Iranian stance of the ruling Saudi monarchy and seemed to go out of his way to fan regional tensions rather than temper them. Trump’s messages on that trip were reasonably interpreted by many as giving a green light for Saudi leaders to take aggressive action against Iran. But while there is no evidence to suggest a direct Saudi role in the terrorist attack in Tehran, even the suspicion of Saudi involvement during a period of high tension between the two countries could have major consequences.

An armed man stands in a window of the Parliament building in Tehran, Iran, June 7, 2017.

Photo: Omid Vahabzadeh/Fars News Agency/AP

“If this attack had happened at any other time, Iran would probably deal with it internally and their response would not be that different from how other countries have responded to ISIS attacks,” said Afshon Ostovar, an assistant professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and author of “Vanguard of the Imam: Religion, Politics and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.” “But coming on the heels of this sort of mounting pressure from their rivals across the Gulf, the timing is very ripe for some kind of Iranian reaction. There are probably people within the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] who do believe that it was the Saudis who were behind this somehow.”

While it’s unclear what kind of retaliation the IRGC might employ, its reaction would not necessarily have to involve attacking the Saudi homeland. Over the past several years, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been waging a brutal proxy war across the Middle East, with active conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Iran could easily escalate in any one of these conflict zones, targeting Saudi allies or personnel. A major escalation in any of these conflicts would be even more dangerous because the United States is increasingly an active belligerent in all these countries, having escalated its direct support for Saudi-allied forces since Trump’s election.

In recent weeks in Syria, U.S. forces have even targeted Iranian-backed militia groups with airstrikes on three separate occasions, attacks that by some accounts killed scores of fighters. While these groups have not yet reacted by targeting American forces, it’s not implausible for this to happen in the near future, in Syria or another country, if tensions continue to rise.

“This is the first time the U.S. and Iranian-backed groups have been at the knife’s edge of conflict in Syria,” said Ostovar. “If the IRGC does retaliate and the conflict in the region intensifies, you could eventually see things like green-on-blue attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq by [Iranian-backed militias], a development that would seriously complicate the campaign against ISIS.”

Why Jihadis Are Striking Iran Now

The growing threat of terrorism in Iran is another factor that could escalate conflict in the Middle East, even after ISIS is driven out of its last territorial holdings in Iraq and Syria. Over the past decade, Iran was largely insulated from terrorist attacks, a respite that some claim stems from older arrangements made by Iran with Al Qaeda leaders in the years after the 9/11 attacks.

A body, at background left, lies on the ground while police control the scene at the shrine of late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, June 7, 2017.

Photo: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

While the idea of coordination between some Sunni extremist groups and Shia-led Iran may appear far-fetched, there could be something to these claims. Following the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, many high-ranking members of Al Qaeda and their families fled to exile in Iran, where they spent years living under house arrest overseen by the IRGC. During this time, a tacit agreement was reportedly reached between the terrorist group and their Iranian captors, with Al Qaeda allegedly refraining from attacking within Iran in exchange for continued asylum for its leaders. A recent book about this period by British journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, “The Exile,” documents this strange period in recent history, interviewing former Al Qaeda members who lived in Iran about their dealings with the IRGC.

As the book describes it, the reception the exiles received in Iran was relatively positive. During the years that Al Qaeda leaders and their families spent in the country, IRGC commanders ensured their safety and privacy. Although their relationship was sometimes contentious, the Iranians also occasionally went out of their way to keep their Al Qaeda exiles happy, providing them with creature comforts and even taking them and their families to visit tourist sites around the country.

Iran may not have been the only country that sought to make similar arrangements with al Qaeda. A letter recovered from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound suggested that British intelligence had also reached out to intermediaries with al Qaeda to help mediate an agreement in which the British, “would leave Afghanistan if al Qaida promised not to target their interests.” It is unclear from the available correspondence where these discussions led, or even whether al Qaeda had accepted the offer as legitimate.

Over the years, the exiles in Iran were periodically released or repatriated, with some eventually ending up in U.S. custody. In 2015, Iran released several top members of Al Qaeda’s military leadership (who then traveled to Syria), reportedly in exchange for the release of a captive Iranian diplomat in Yemen. The purported trade could be seen as Iran departing with a major bargaining chip held against regional jihadist movements.

“The post-9/11 exile of Al Qaeda figures to Iran was really puzzling, as Iran was at odds with Al Qaeda politically and ideologically and they were really taking a huge risk by allowing them to operate in the country,” said Ostovar. “Although they may have gotten some intelligence out of it and a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ not to conduct attacks inside Iran, in the end the exiles did not prove to be that useful and were perhaps more of a liability.”

The Saudi Free Hand

Although Iran may have received some protection from terrorism through its Al Qaeda captives, there’s little indication that it now has any similar leverage to protect against Islamic State attacks on its territory. And if terrorism does increase in the Iranian homeland, it is very likely that the IRGC will decide that the blame for that lies with Saudi Arabia, a country whose leadership has made public statements threatening to bring “the battle” to the Iranian homeland and which is frequently accused by Iranian leaders of supporting Islamic State.

“I consider it a worst-case scenario, but I would not rule out some kind of asymmetric attack against Saudi Arabia by Iran in retaliation for what happened in Tehran,” said Paul Pillar, a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University and former CIA analyst. “This was a very carefully planned operation and I suspect it was in the works well before the Trump trip. But due to the timing, I’m sure that there are people within the IRGC who sincerely believe that Saudi was involved.”

Following Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia, there is a widespread perception that the U.S. government has given a blank check to its Gulf Arab allies to pursue aggressive actions across the Middle East. In recent weeks, Bahrain’s government escalated its crackdown on domestic dissent, while the United Arab Emirates has spearheaded the campaign to isolate Qatar over its support of regional Islamist movements.

But the burgeoning hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Iran have the potential to be the most dangerous of all these situations. Any confrontation between the two powers that rises to the level of even limited armed conflict could threaten oil shipments and critical infrastructure in the Persian Gulf, with implications for global economic stability. While the U.S. has historically sought to control the Saudi-Iran rivalry for this reason, under Trump the United States seems to be adding fuel to the fire by backing Saudi efforts to confront Iran at any cost.

“The United States has an interest in stability in the Gulf region and it has an interest in promoting peaceful relations between the Saudis and Iranians. But instead of doing that, we’ve been stoking tensions, which was the main theme of Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia,” said Pillar. “It’s very saddening to see how much the Trump administration is giving the green light to the worst Saudi inclinations.”

Top photo: Police officers control the scene around the shrine of late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini after an assault by several attackers in Tehran, Iran, June 7, 2017.

The post Newly Threatened by Terror, Iran’s Cold Conflict With Saudi Arabia Could Escalate appeared first on The Intercept.

Obstruction of Justice: Here’s the Legal Definition

8 June 2017 - 12:28pm

Sen. James Risch, a Republican from Idaho, used his time during Thursday’s Intelligence Committee hearing to probe whether President Donald Trump had explicitly “ordered” or “directed” former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was fired just 24 days into the new administration.

Comey said that he took it as an order, but that Trump used the words “I hope.”

“Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?” Risch asked.

Comey said he wasn’t sure, but, “I took it as a direction. I mean, this is the president of the United States, with me alone, saying, I hope this. I took it as: This is what he wants me to do.”

Risch seemed satisfied he’d scored his point. “He said, ‘I hope.’ You don’t know of anyone who’s ever been charged for hoping something. Is that a fair statement?”

Comey shrugged, “I don’t as I sit here.”

Sen. James Risch asks Comey about obstruction of justice

Watch live here: https://t.co/THlNhXekzk pic.twitter.com/REs7GfdKNY

— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 8, 2017

The exchange raises the question, then, of whether an explicit order is necessary for the definition of obstruction of justice. Here’s the relevant section of the federal legal code (our emphasis):

(a) Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any grand or petit juror, or officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate, in the discharge of his duty, or injures any such grand or petit juror in his person or property on account of any verdict or indictment assented to by him, or on account of his being or having been such juror, or injures any such officer, magistrate judge, or other committing magistrate in his person or property on account of the performance of his official duties, or corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).

That definition does not require that there be a direct order that would quash or affect the investigation. “The key question here is whether the president acted with corrupt intent,” Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, told CNN.

Top photo: Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, June 8, 2017, in Washington.

The post Obstruction of Justice: Here’s the Legal Definition appeared first on The Intercept.

James Comey Statement Describes Unsettling and Awkward Meetings With Trump

7 June 2017 - 5:28pm

Former FBI Director James Comey offered the first glimpse of what President Donald Trump looks like through his eyes in a seven-page “statement for the record” previewing his live testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. In the prepared remarks, released Wednesday, Comey narrates a pattern of encounters with Trump that he considered awkward and unsettling.

Most importantly, in Comey’s telling, is the threat that Trump posed to the independence of the FBI. The FBI has an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, particularly those of Michael Flynn, who served as Trump national security adviser for the administration’s first 24 days. Comey’s statement suggests that Trump tried to quash that investigation in their meetings. Interference with the investigation could be considered obstruction of justice, a potentially impeachable offense, depending on how Congress interprets what transpired.

In his letter announcing Comey’s firing, Trump wrote that Comey had informed him “on three separate occasions” that he was not under investigation. Comey’s statement appears to verify Trump’s claim — though his version of events suggests a more complicated situation than the president’s letter let on. According to Comey, Trump was keenly interested in having the FBI director publicize that he was not under investigation.

In a March 30 phone call, Comey said Trump “repeatedly” told him, “We need to get that fact out.” Comey declined to do so, adding, “I did not tell the president that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.”

In his Wednesday statement, Comey described his meetings with Trump one by one. In a January meeting at the White House, the pair’s second, Comey said Trump asked him if he wanted to keep the job of FBI director. That’s a question Comey “found strange,” with six years left in his 10-year-term, because he and Trump had already discussed that he was staying on.

“My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship,” Comey wrote in his statement. “That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.”

The awkward moments — and the questioning of Trump’s motives by Comey — keep coming after that.

Former FBI Director James Comey’s “statement for the record,” released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is photographed on June 7, 2017.

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump who emerges is the familiar persona from Trump’s reality television career — a ham-handed operator who uses carrots and sticks to extract loyalty from subordinates. Comey’s first face-to-face meeting with the president-elect took place at Trump Tower in January, two weeks before Trump was sworn in. In Comey’s account, it was his job to stay behind after other intelligence officials had left and brief Trump on what he described as “some personally sensitive aspects” of the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

From that point forward, as Comey tells it, Trump repeatedly asked him to back off on the Russia investigation, at one point calling it a “cloud” that was “interfering with his ability to make deals for the country.” Comey repeatedly demurred.

“I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” Trump said, according to Comey’s statement, in a description of a January 27 one-on-one dinner that hews closely to a New York Times account of the encounter. “I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed,” Comey wrote. “We simply looked at each other in silence.” When the topic came up again, Comey responded by offering his “honest loyalty.”

“It is possible,” he wrote, “that we understood the phrase ‘honest loyalty’ differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further.”

Indeed, their understanding appears to have been different. On April 11, the last time Comey and Trump spoke, Comey wrote that Trump agreed to go through more traditional channels — the White House counsel and the Department of Justice — with his concerns about the Russian investigation. Trump said, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” There was no thing, and no deal. Three weeks later, Trump fired Comey.

Tomorrow, at his much-anticipated congressional testimony, Comey will tell more of his side.

Top photo: President Donald Trump shakes hands with then-FBI Director James Comey during an Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House on Jan. 22, 2017, in Washington.

The post James Comey Statement Describes Unsettling and Awkward Meetings With Trump appeared first on The Intercept.

Preparado para o embate, relator enfrenta polarização com Gilmar em julgamento da chapa Dilma-Temer

7 June 2017 - 5:11pm

Uma sessão repleta de constrangimentos, vaidades e muita enrolação. É assim que podem ser definidos os primeiros passos do retorno, no Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE), do julgamento da chapa Dilma-Temer por abuso de poder político e econômico nas eleições de 2014. Em uma sessão inédita na história política do país, ficaram perceptíveis as divergências dentro do tribunal: de um lado, o presidente da Corte, Gilmar Mendes, e do outro, o ministro relator, Herman Benjamin protagonizaram cenas que ora deixavam a platéia constrangida, ora faziam a alegria da galera.

Nas duas primeiras sessões da retomada do julgamento, os ministros concentraram as discussões nas questões apresentadas pelas defesas de Dilma e Temer e que poderiam mudar o rumo do julgamento de alguma forma. Os advogados contestaram, por exemplo, a inclusão feita por Benjamin já na fase final do processo dos depoimentos de delação premiada de executivos Odebrecht na Lava Jato. Também questionaram inclusão das delações de João Santana e Mônica Moura, casal de publicitários responsável pela campanha da chapa de 2014.

“Só os índios não contatados da Amazônia não sabiam que Odebrecht fez delação.” Os advogados argumentaram ainda que pesava contra as delações o fato de terem sido vazadas na imprensa. Benjamin disse que vazamentos são “gravíssimos”, mas que, mesmo assim, as delações não devem ser anuladas como provas e que não tinha como ignorar um acordo de delação premiada, tendo em vista que o fato era “público e notório” e havia sido noticiado por órgão de imprensa. “Só os índios não contatados da Amazônia não sabiam que Odebrecht fez delação. Era fato público e notório”, narrou.

Judges on Brazil's electoral court were expected to start voting Wednesday in a case that could topple scandal-tainted President Michel Temer. If the court votes to scrap the election result, Temer -- who took over only last year when Rousseff was impeached -- would himself risk losing his office.<br /><br />
/ AFP PHOTO / EVARISTO SA (Photo credit should read EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images)" />

Ministro Gilmar Mendes, durante julgamento da chapa Dilma-Temer no TSE.

Foto: AFP/Getty Images

Consciente de que Gilmar Mendes seria sua principal pedra no sapato, o relator insistiu em usar como exemplo em suas argumentações decisões do próprio Gilmar proferidas em outras oportunidades. Em um dado momento, Benjamin mostrou que conhecia o colega melhor do que o próprio. “Fui relator da prestação das contas [da ex-presidente Dilma] e preocupei-me em não cumprir um papel simplesmente formal”, disse Gilmar. “O senhor costuma chamar cartorial e não formal, ministro Gilmar”, corrigiu o relator. Em outra ocasião, quando que discutia a validade das delações, Benjamin fez questão de relembrar que o presidente do TSE já havia pedido ampliação das investigações em outro momento no processo.

Os embates de até o momentos deixam clara a divisão da Corte entre os ministros que acompanham Gilmar (Napoleão Nunes Maia e Admar Gonzaga) e os que seguem o relator (Luiz Fux e Rosa Weber). Apesar de permanecer em silêncio em boa parte das duas sessões,  Weber assentiu com a cabeça diversas vezes nos momentos em que Benjamin falava. Tampouco falou Tarcísio Vieira, que, indicado por temer para o posto na Corte eleitoral, ao que tudo indica dará o voto decisivo no julgamento.

Gilmar disse que o tribunal deve considerar o “grau de instabilidade” do país antes de enveredar por algum caminho.

Preocupado com os desdobramentos que uma decisão do TSE possa causar, Gilmar disse que o tribunal deve considerar o “grau de instabilidade” do país antes de enveredar por algum caminho. O ministro, que foi o relator da prestação de contas de Dilma aprovada pela Justiça Eleitoral, tentou puxar sardinha para a sua atuação ao relembrar que fora ele o responsável pelo voto que reabriu as investigações contra a chapa. “Modéstia à parte, só há ação pelo meu empenho, embora quem brilhe agora seja Herman”, disse. “Prefiro o anonimato. Processo em que se discute condenação de um ou outro não deve ter nenhum glamour pessoal”, espetou Benjamin.

Cassa mais que a ditadura

Ministro Herman Benjamin faz leitura de seu relatório durante julgamento da chapa Dilma-Temer.

Foto: Roberto Jayme/Ascom/TSE

As alfinetadas entre Gilmar e Benjamin chegaram ao ponto de constranger os presentes que acompanhavam a sessão. Depois de Benjamin sinalizar que deve votar pela cassação da chapa, Gilmar pediu a palavra e disse que o tribunal “cassa mais mandatos que a ditadura”. Diante da provocação, o relator rebateu: “As ditaduras cassavam e cassam quem defende a democracia. O TSE cassa quem vai contra a democracia”.

Ao término do segundo dia de julgamento, o advogado que defende Dilma Rousseff, Flávio Caetano demonstrou frustração na saída do TSE e disse acreditar que não deve haver pedido de mais tempo para analisar o processo. Ao The Intercept Brasil, Caetano contou que esperava ao menos que o relator apresentasse seu voto. “O resultado segue imprevisível. Mas amanhã, quinta, temos certeza que os ministros começarão a votar e a ação andará com mais rapidez”, assinalou.

Para Nicolao Dino, vice-procurador eleitoral, as provas colhidas durante o processo mostram que houve “abuso político e econômico” na campanha de 2014. O procurador sustentou ainda que a análise de tanto das provas orais como documentais, compartilhados da Lava Jato e do Supremo Tribunal Federal, evidenciam que a Odebrecht destinou recursos de caixa 2 para a chapa Dilma-Temer.

Nesta quinta-feira (8), o tribunal vai retomar o julgamento com a análise de uma das mais polêmicas questões preliminares das defesas: a divisão de responsabilidades em uma chapa eleita, mesmo que isso contradiga decisões anteriores do TSE.

Após três anos de um eterno terceiro turno eleitoral no país, o TSE pode por fim concluir o julgamento da chapa até o fim desta semana. Para o desfecho, o Tribunal marcou sessões para além dos dias normais: acrescentou na agenda encontros até para o sábado, 10. Resta saber se as excelências continuarão com suas brigas de ego ou apresentarão soluções para que este mesmo cenário não se repita nas próximas eleições.

The post Preparado para o embate, relator enfrenta polarização com Gilmar em julgamento da chapa Dilma-Temer appeared first on The Intercept.

Bucking Bernie Sanders, Democrats Move Forward On Iran Sanctions After Terror Attack in Tehran

7 June 2017 - 5:01pm

In the wake of an alleged ISIS terrorist attack on the Iranian parliament, the U.S. Senate is marking the tragedy with twin resolutions: one to express condolences, the second to move forward on a bill to hit the country with new sanctions.

By a vote of 92-7, the Senate opened debate on the sanctions resolution Wednesday. But the resolution expressing condolences is still being worked on, one senator said.

“On a day when Iran has been attacked by ISIS, by terrorism, now is not the time to go forward with legislation calling for sanctions against Iran,” Vermont’s Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said on the floor before the Senate did just that. “Let us be aware and cognizant that earlier today the people of Iran suffered a horrific terror attack in their capital, Tehran.”

The vote also came in the face of warnings from former Secretary of State John Kerry that a new sanctions bill could imperil the nuclear deal.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said that it was still time to move forward. After all, it could be a chance to hit Russia. “I think we have an opportunity on the Iran sanctions bill to amend it to include strong Russia sanctions; I’m determined that we get that done. That’s foremost in my mind,” said Coons.

“I appreciate the fact that when the United States was attacked on 9/11, Iran expressed concern and solidarity with us. I do think it’s important for us to express our condolences to the Iranian people for their being victims of an ISIS and I believe that resolution will be adopted today. It seems a bit of a mixed message to me to try and combine those two.”

A number of Sanders’s Democratic caucus colleagues, including California’s Diane Feinstein and Delaware’s Tom Carper, joined him in arguing that the bill should be delayed in light of the terrorist attack. On her way into the vote, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., told The Intercept she agreed with Sanders that it should be delayed, but didn’t think it would be. She was correct, and cast her vote in favor.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a member of Republican leadership, disagreed. “I hope not,” he said of the possibility of a delay, his further thoughts being cut off by the closing of the door of an elevator taking him to vote on the measure.

Shortly before the vote to end debate on the bill, New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer — who leads the Senate Democrats — came out and argued forcefully in favor of the sanctions, showing no concern about imperiling the nuclear deal or the terrorist attack.

“Democrats will vote to advance this bill to the floor because we support — most of us support the bill,” he assured the Senate.

Sixty votes are needed to achieve cloture and close debate; only seven senators opposed the cloture vote: Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand, Dick Durbin, Carper, Jeff Merkley, and Tom Udall as well as Republican Rand Paul and Sanders.

On a day when Iran has been attacked by ISIS now is not the time to go forward with legislation calling for sanctions against Iran. pic.twitter.com/tGNUDxI2n1

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 7, 2017

President Donald Trump added insult to injury when the White House released its own statement on the Iranian terror attack on Wednesday. “We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times,” it read.

However, it then pivoted to blaming the victims. “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote,” it concluded.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., referred questions on the condolences resolution to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A spokesperson there didn’t immediately reply to a request for Congress.

Top photo: Sen. Bernie Sanders arrives for a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 25, 2017.

The post Bucking Bernie Sanders, Democrats Move Forward On Iran Sanctions After Terror Attack in Tehran appeared first on The Intercept.

Top Spies Stonewall Congress About Their Talks With Trump on James Comey and Russia

7 June 2017 - 3:50pm

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said that he would not invoke executive privilege to keep the public from hearing the truth from James Comey about his reported attempts to sideline the FBI’s investigation into his Russia ties. On Wednesday, it became clear why he might not have to. Four of America’s top intelligence and law enforcement officials stonewalled the issue of Trump’s reported interference with the investigation, despite a series of probing and sometimes heated questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The reticence of the leaders of the National Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI to discuss Trump’s behavior with their congressional overseers raises a larger issue. When Congress asks America’s spymasters an unclassified question, are they obliged to answer?

Not necessarily, according to Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence. Coats declined to address several questions about whether Trump had asked him if he could intervene in the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s Russia ties, as reported in detail by the Washington Post.

Coats repeatedly said that discussing his conversations with Trump would not be “appropriate.”

“I’m not satisfied with ‘I do not believe it’s appropriate,’” said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine. “You swore that oath to tell us the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. And today you are refusing to do so. What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify before this committee?”

“I’m not sure I have legal basis,” Coats answered. He declined to say whether he would answer King’s questions in the committee’s closed session, explaining that questions would have to go through White House lawyers. Coats even raised the possibility that the White House would invoke executive privilege to keep him from answering the senators’ questions in a closed session, something that Trump has said he will not do with respect to former FBI Director James Comey’s upcoming testimony before the intelligence committee on Thursday. That hearing, the most anticipated congressional hearing in years, will be carried live on network TV.

Trump himself is a promiscuous sharer of private information. He drew wide criticism for babbling out sensitive intelligence about the Islamic State during a White House meeting with top Russian officials. He published details from his conversations with Comey in the public letter announcing Comey’s firing. He gossiped with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte about the location of two U.S. nuclear submarines, one of the country’s most closely guarded tactical secrets.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Coats was not the only leader of the intelligence community who treated Trump with the loyalty and discretion that the president so infrequently affords to others. NSA Director Michael Rogers, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe all repeatedly dodged questions about Trump’s reported interference in the Russia investigation. There are reports that Trump asked Rogers, along with Coats, to get Comey to back off, and McCabe may have been among those at the FBI who knew about Comey’s own fraught interactions with the president. At times, Rogers and Coats appeared to be defending the president’s conduct.

“I have never been pressured — I’ve never felt pressure — to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation,” Coats said. Rogers, for his part, said, “I have never been directed to do anything I believed to be illegal, immoral, unethical, or inappropriate.” But beyond offering general characterizations of their feelings and beliefs, both men passed up numerous opportunities to refute the idea that Trump had asked them to apply the brakes to Comey’s Russia inquiries.

Nearly lost in the build-up to Comey’s testimony was the ostensible purpose of Wednesday’s hearing — a discussion of the government’s ability to conduct surveillance under Section 702, a little-understood spying authority that is supposed to be directed at foreign targets but often simultaneously sweeps up the content of U.S. communications. The government’s Section 702 authorities will expire at the end of this year; a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., would make them permanent. In his confirmation hearing, Coats said that he would put together an estimate of how many Americans have their communications swept up by Section 702. On Wednesday, Coats said that “technical details” would prevent him from doing so. “You went back on a pledge!” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a critic of the surveillance state’s excesses, thundered in response.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he was frustrated by the officials’ inability to address what has already been widely reported about their conversations with Trump. If the allegations of Trump’s interference with Comey are true, he said, it would be “pretty serious.”

Top photo: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers prepare to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 7, 2017 in Washington.

The post Top Spies Stonewall Congress About Their Talks With Trump on James Comey and Russia appeared first on The Intercept.

No julgamento do TSE, silêncio e constrangimento substituem a velha artilharia de antigos inimigos

7 June 2017 - 3:48pm

Mais do que o desfecho, entrará para a história a forma como ocorre o julgamento da cassação da chapa Dilma-Temer no Tribunal Superior Eleitoral. Existem muitas formas de contar o imbróglio, a depender da perspectiva observada. Nenhuma favorece qualquer um dos lados que, até ontem, apontava a arma um para o outro como na famosa cena de “Cães de Aluguel”, o sangrento filme de Quentin Tarantino; ao primeiro gatilho, todos seriam alvejados.

A artilharia foi armada ao fim da eleição de 2014, quando o candidato derrotado Aécio Neves, então presidente do PSDB, apontou irregularidades nas prestações de contas de campanha apresentadas por Dilma, acusada de receber recursos do esquema de corrupção investigado na Operação Lava Jato, e pediu a anulação do pleito.

A estratégia servia para “encher o saco” do PT, conforme confidenciou o agora senador afastado ao amigo Joesley Batista, dono da JBS. Era uma coisa que, imaginava, não iria até o fim.

Mas foi. As conveniências mudaram, a ação seguiu. E, ao ser julgada, colocou sob risco um governo que, mais de dois anos após a eleição, o próprio PSDB passou a integrar com direito a abraços calorosos no dia da posse e quatro ministérios: o das Cidades, das Relações Exteriores, dos Direitos Humanos e a Secretaria de Governo.

Entre os apoiadores de uns e outros, a expectativa do julgamento agora constrange tanto os tucanos, autores da ação, que saíram às ruas com a camisa “A culpa não é minha, eu votei no Aécio” quanto os petistas que entoaram o “Fora, Temer” em manifestações recentes, passando pelos peemedebistas, aliados de qualquer lado a depender da ocasião.

O silêncio das partes (não) interessadas em suas redes durante as sessões dava o tom do constrangimento.

Há menos de um ano, durante o impeachment de Dilma Rousseff, Aécio acusava a adversária de vencer as eleições “faltando com a verdade e cometendo ilegalidades”; gabava-se de a ação no TSE ter sido aberta após perícias e “inúmeras ilegalidades” levantadas. No julgamento, porém, evitou reforçar a artilharia para não acertar o novo aliado. Seu último pronunciamento nas redes sociais, no início do mês, era uma nota em que se defendia da denúncia do procurador-geral da República.

O julgamento no TSE também não mereceu até agora atenção entre as postagens no Twitter de seu partido, o PSDB. Enquanto os juízes avaliam as suspeitas sobre Dilma e Temer, o até ontem aguerrido partido de oposição optou por lembrar os seguidores que a incitação à violência é prática recorrente entre petistas e que a reforma trabalhista, apoiada pela gestão Temer, não retirará direitos dos trabalhadores.

No perfil do PMDB, o presidente da sigla, senador Romero Jucá (RR), defensor, à boca pequena, de um grande acordo nacional, com Supremo, com tudo, para delimitar a ação da Lava Jato, protagonizava um vídeo sobre crédito agrícola, e o presidente do Senado, Eunício Oliveira (CE), destacava a importância de manter as pautas de interesse do país no Congresso. Ambos são alvos de delatores na Lava Jato.

Sobre o julgamento do colega que prometia unificar o país e da antecessora, nenhuma linha.

O perfil do PT, por sua vez, destacava o desmonte da CLT pelo governo que o traiu e chamava nova greve geral em favor do “Fora Temer” – a pauta do dia, aliás, no TSE.

Alvos do processo, Temer postava em seu perfil notícias relacionadas à agenda do dia (reunião do Gabinete de Segurança Institucional e anúncio de crédito rural) e Dilma negava, em postagem de 2 de junho, manter conta na Suíça – Lula, seu padrinho político, comemorava, em seu perfil oficial, a liderança em uma pesquisa Vox Populi de intenção de voto.

Engajados em “varrer” a corrupção do país até o impeachment de Dilma, os militantes do MBL até chegaram a postar um link para o julgamento, desta vez sem nenhum meme ou trocadilho lacrante sobre os suspeitos de sempre. Em vez disso, optavam por denunciar a “perseguição” de Maria do Rosário (PT-RS) ao apresentador Danilo Gentili, alertar sobre a situação política na Venezuela e tirar onda da dura vida da socialista Maria do Rosário em uma viagem a Nova York.

O titubeio faz sentido: defender o governo das reformas apoiadas pelo movimento significa ajudar a preservar os direitos políticos de Dilma; lutar pela cassação dos direitos da petista era lutar pelo naufrágio das propostas da gestão peemedebista.

Enquanto isso, o governo Temer, espécie de porta-giratória entre projetos opostos na eleição de 2014, tinha o futuro decidido em uma sessão marcada pelo antagonismo entre seu amigo Gilmar Mendes, presidente da corte com quem não se constrange em participar de reunião e jantares, e o relator da ação, ministro Herman Benjamin.

Herman Benjamin e Gilmar Mendes durante a sessão de terça-feira, dia 6, em que trocaram farpas no TSE.

Roberto Jayme/Ascom/TSE

O primeiro chegou a classificar de “falacioso” um argumento do relator sobre uso de testemunhas e documentos no decorrer do processo, o que poderia complicar a situação do amigo. Já o segundo deu a resposta mais dura ao colega que ironizava o fato de estar “brilhando” na TV naquele momento.

“Vossa excelência sabe que eu prefiro o anonimato, muito mais. O processo em que se discute condenação de A, B, C ou D, em qualquer natureza, não tem e não deve ter nenhum glamour pessoal”, disse ele, com a saúde visivelmente debilitada.

Até o fechamento deste texto, ninguém havia batido panelas ou entoado nas janelas cantos como “Herman, guerreiro do povo brasileiro”.

O silêncio dos que berravam até ontem, resultado talvez de um tilt com uma ação que em Brasília interessava a todos e já não beneficiava ninguém, era o silêncio dos alvejados em um desfecho tarantinesco da cena.

Foto em destaque: Michel Temer com Aecio Neves durante sua posse no Senado, em Brasília, em 31 de Agosto de 2016.

The post No julgamento do TSE, silêncio e constrangimento substituem a velha artilharia de antigos inimigos appeared first on The Intercept.

Clintonworld Reuniting To Boost One Of Their Own In A Democratic Primary

7 June 2017 - 1:24pm

Top veterans of the Hillary Clinton campaign are holding a reunion in a Capitol Hill row house on Friday, according to an invitation to the event obtained by The Intercept.

The Clintonworld alums are gathering with a purpose: to raise money for one of their own in a Democratic primary, against a former NFL player-turned civil rights attorney, in a Dallas congressional district.

In 2016, the Democratic Party, in one of their more embarrassing failures in a year with no shortage of them, forgot to run a candidate in Texas’s 32nd District, which covers the northern Dallas suburbs.

Clinton, frustratingly for House Democrats, went on to outpoll Donald Trump in the district, but, with no challenger, incumbent Republican Pete Sessions easily defeated Libertarian and Green Party candidates in the general election.

In April, a hometown hero, Colin Allred, a former NFL linebacker, announced his entry into the race. Allred, though, is not a mere jock. He put off Berkeley Law School in order to play out his NFL career, returning once he’d decided his brain had taken enough bruising. Since then, he has become a voting rights attorney, and served as an official in Barack Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Colin Allred of the Tennessee Titans poses for his 2010 NFL headshot at Baptist Sports Park in Nashville, Tenn.

Photo: NFL/Getty Images

Clintonworld alum Ed Meier then joined the race last month. Meier served as director of policy outreach for the Clinton campaign, as well as the executive director for the since-mothballed presidential transition team.

If Clintonworld is still smarting from the bruising primary campaign against Sen. Bernie Sanders, it hasn’t kept them away from this one. The co-hosts of the Meier fundraiser are a who’s who of Clinton veterans: Robby Mook, Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, Tom Nides and others. Of the seven named hosts on the Meier for Congress fundraising invitation obtained by The Intercept, six have Clinton ties, and several either work for large financial institutions or law firms that represent them. The invite suggests contributions of anywhere from $500 to $5,000.

The high-powered D.C. fundraiser with a mix of political and business leaders may seem discordant, at a time when Democrats are coalescing around a more strident liberal politics. And it suggests that the faction that has maintained an iron grip on Democratic politics for decades does not plan to go away quietly.

The hosts include Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, and Sullivan, her chief foreign policy adviser. Clinton’s main scheduler at the State Department, Lona Valmoro, and top State Department adviser Dan Feldman also appear on the invite. But two hosts stand out for their relationships with Wall Street.

Nides, a Clinton bundler and top executive at Fannie Mae and Morgan Stanley, slid into government service when Clinton served at the State Department. Nides went right back to Morgan Stanley after Clinton left State, but was rumored to be a top candidate for White House chief of staff or another top position in a Clinton White House. Nides helped Bill Clinton sell NAFTA to Congress in the 1990s, and later helped Morgan Stanley fend off more aggressive financial reform in the Dodd-Frank Act.

When Elizabeth Warren, anticipating a Clinton victory, said in a speech last September that the Democratic nominee’s hypothetical White House’s personnel shouldn’t include “Citigroup or Morgan Stanley or BlackRock getting to choose who runs the economy in this country so they can capture our government,” it was widely assumed the Morgan Stanley inclusion was a reference to Tom Nides.

Similarly, it was assumed that Warren’s name-check of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm, was a reference to Mills, a major Clinton confidant who will also co-host Friday’s Meier fundraiser. Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff at the State Department,  has served on BlackRock’s board of directors since October 2013. Observers immediately intuited this as a ploy by Larry Fink, the BlackRock CEO, to insinuate himself into Clinton’s inner circle as part of a bid to become Treasury Secretary. With Trump winning the presidency, Fink took the consolation prize: a seat on the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a panel of CEOs who advise the administration on the economy.

In addition to the BlackRock board, Mills now runs her own hedge fund, BlackIvy, which endeavors to build commercial businesses in sub-Saharan Africa. During the campaign, Clinton’s Wall Street reform policies very closely mirrored the preferences of BlackRock and its CEO.

Dan Feldman, one of the other Clinton veterans hosting the Meier fundraiser, is now a partner at the white shoe Washington law firm Akin Gump, where according to the press release announcing his hire he advises “multinational corporations, U.S. trade associations and foreign governments on international business and policy issues.”

These are not exactly abnormal credentials for a D.C. fundraiser. But seeing so many ex-Clinton officials team up on behalf of a congressional candidate, particularly those with deep ties to the financial industry, raises questions about Meier’s views on that critical domestic policy subject.

Meier currently serves as the interim executive director of an non-profit education company called Big Thought, which provides after-school and summer learning programs in the Dallas area. He was a senior advisor to Clinton at the State Department before serving as a policy advisor on the campaign. As co-executive director of the Clinton transition, Meier spent the final months before Election Day focused on staffing a potential Clinton White House.

Before that, Meier was a management consultant in Dallas with a division of McKinsey.

The Meier for Congress campaign did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the campaign for Colin Allred, his chief challenger in the Democratic primary.

The Intercept also asked Our Revolution, the organization built out of the remnants of the Sanders campaign, for their thoughts on the Clintonworld reunion. A spokeswoman replied, “We only comment on races where we have endorsed.”

Top photo: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an event in Las Vegas, on Feb. 18, 2016.

The post Clintonworld Reuniting To Boost One Of Their Own In A Democratic Primary appeared first on The Intercept.

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