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Dark Essays By White House Staffer Are the Intellectual Source Code of Trumpism

12 February 2017 - 9:19am

LET’S SAY YOU ARE a top official on the National Security Council and Donald Trump requests a memo explaining the purpose of his chaotic presidency. What are the odds you would draft a 4,000-word essay arguing that America is like a doomed aircraft that’s been hijacked by terrorists in which Trump has madly rushed the cockpit and seized the controls but we still might die because he doesn’t know how to fly the plane?

That would be an unusual memo, even if its first paragraph didn’t actually evoke the tragedy of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11 after its passengers tried to wrest control of the jet from its al Qaeda hijackers. Yet a senior member of the NSC named Michael Anton has written precisely that justification of the Trump presidency — not as an NSC memo, but as an anonymous article for an arch-conservative website, published two months before the election, when Anton was still a private citizen.

The article, headlined “The Flight 93 Election,” caused a minor stir when it came out. Conservatives who didn’t like Trump were aghast at its strange endorsement of the brutish candidate, while liberals thought it showed the crackpot essence of the conservative case for the reality TV star. There was also the buzz of a guessing game: Who wrote this incredible thing? Here’s how the article began:

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You — or the leader of your party — may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees. Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

On February 2 the guessing ended when the Weekly Standard revealed Anton as the author. More crucially, the magazine also revealed that Anton had just been hired as the senior director of strategic communications at the NSC and accurately described him as “the leading conservative intellectual to argue for the election of Donald Trump.” This cast Anton’s five-month-old essay, as well as other articles he has written, in a new light — they are virtually the only attempt by a Trump insider to present a holistic explanation of what his presidency stands for and seeks to accomplish. The outing of Anton has inadvertently exposed the intellectual source code of Trumpism.

Of course Trump and his senior aides have issued a steady outpouring of startling statements and tweets about the administration’s ideas and plans. There’s also been a flurry of radical executive orders and appointments of cabinet officers whose backgrounds — as billionaires or Christian warriors or civil rights opponents — provide alarming data points. A number of officials have written crude and inflammatory books in years past, such as Michael Flynn, the retired general who heads the NSC. And, yes, there’s the case of Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive who is Trump’s senior adviser. But nobody in the administration has drawn up a real-time ideological blueprint to explain the intentional chaos of what’s happening under Trump — except, as it now turns out, Michael Anton, whose radical theories have been compared to those of a German philosopher named Carl Schmitt, who helped lay the legal foundations of the Nazi Party.

Charles A. Lindbergh, (left), with R. Douglas Stuart, Jr., National Director, when Lindbergh enrolled as a member of the America First Committee.

Photo: Bettmann Archive

In the beginning, Anton attended Claremont Graduate College, an incubator for conservative thinkers. He became a speechwriter and press secretary for New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, then took a mid-level job at the NSC in the George W. Bush administration. As the Weekly Standard reported, he was part of the team that pushed for the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Anton left the government in 2005 and became a speechwriter for Rupert Murdoch at News Corporation, followed by several years in the communications shop at Citigroup, then a year-and-a-half as a managing director at BlackRock, the venture capital firm.

In September, using the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus, a Roman consul who died on the battlefield, Anton published his Flight 93 essay at the Claremont Review of Books, and followed it up with additional posts responding to his critics. While those got noticed, he had actually written a far-longer article in March that few people had read, and its edges were even sharper. Bearing the title “Toward a Sensible, Coherent Trumpism,” it began by noting that “Trump himself – no man of ideas, to say the least – is unsuited to the task of thinking through what his popularity means or how to build on it. Others will have to do the real work.” In an effort to justify the “America First” slogan that Trump was beginning to use, the article argued that the anti-Semitic “America First Committee” of the early 1940s, which opposed U.S. entry into World War II and was supported by Charles Lindbergh, had been “unfairly maligned” and was just an “alleged stain” on U.S. history. Anton described diversity as “a source of weakness” and one of the “ridiculous lies” that have been foisted on America by its liberal overlords.

The essays had two targets: the liberals who had so deeply degraded America that it might never recover unless there was an insurrection, and the complacent conservatives who abetted it all. (Ironically, Anton was fiercely critical of what he described as “the Davos overclass,” though BlackRock, his employer at the time, was a cornerstone of it.) The liberal establishment didn’t get terribly upset but some conservatives turned livid over these impolite rants from an anonymous writer hiding behind the 3,000-year old robes of a Roman consul. This is how Anton described the generation of conservatives whom he deemed insufficiently radical and energetic:

The whole enterprise of Conservatism, Inc., reeks of failure. Its sole recent and ongoing success is its own self-preservation. Conservative intellectuals never tire of praising “entrepreneurs” and “creative destruction.” Dare to fail! they exhort businessmen. Let the market decide! Except, um, not with respect to us. Or is their true market not the political arena, but the fundraising circuit?

One conservative retort, from the writer Ben Shapiro, was bluntly headlined, “The Widely-Praised ‘Flight 93 Election’ Essay Is Dishonest and Stupid.” Shapiro described Anton’s essay as “incoherent, mind-numbing horseshit,” faulting him for repeating his noxious points “like a dog licking its own vomit.” Another conservative critique, from Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, described the essay as “a master class in overwriting,” and added, “seldom has a pseudonym been more needful to protect an author’s reputation.”

Gerson’s critique was not all jokiness. One of the most disturbing elements of Anton’s writings is the racism deeply baked into them. In the Flight 93 essay, Anton described the Black Lives Matter movement as one of many “inanities” of America. The election of Hillary Clinton, he warned, could mean “a million more Syrians” getting into the country. (In 2016 the United States accepted 12,587 Syrian refugees, and Clinton proposed raising the number to 65,000.) Muslims who come to America “change us – and not for the better,” Anton wrote. (Anton did not respond to a request for comment.)

The dark value of Anton’s work is that it makes plain the bigotry of Trumpism before Trump and his supporters won the election and became a bit more careful about what they said. There’s nothing that Steve Bannon has written or said in recent years that comes close to the clarifying sweep of Anton’s essays, which are not just a product of racism but an argument for it. Gerson put his finger on this:

When you shift through all the hyperbole and insults of “The Flight 93 Election,” you are left with a residue of prejudice. The author refers to “tribal, sub-Third-World foes” and “the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty” who are making America “less traditionally American with every cycle.” Immigrants are typically guilty of “rape, shooting, bombing or machete attack.” Their importation is the sign of “a country, a people, a civilization that wants to die.” Trump, in contrast, would say, “I want my people to live.” Just think on that. Who exactly is “my people”?

Donald Trump greets supporters at a rally in Grand Junction, Colo. in October.

Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

To save America, Anton proposes a blitz of desperate actions. The point, he argues, is to take exceptional and potentially suicidal steps (the rushing-the-cockpit scenario) because the America that conservatives aspire to preserve faces total elimination. He reveals this in a section of his essay that looks at the intentions of  “the Left.” Some of the Left regard conservatives as Nazis, he writes: “How does one deal with a Nazi – that is, with an enemy one is convinced intends your destruction? You don’t compromise with him or leave him alone. You crush him.”

The flip side of believing your enemies want to crush you because you are a Nazi is the belief that you must crush them first. “So what do we have to lose by fighting back?” Anton asks. “The Left, the Democrats, and the bipartisan junta (categories distinct but very much overlapping) think they are on the cusp of permanent victory that will forever obviate the need to pretend to respect democratic and constitutional niceties.” Anton’s ideology has a temporal as well as political edge: it is now-or-neverism.

When the news broke that Anton had been appointed to the NSC, William Kristol posted an acid tweet connecting him to a legal theorist who provided intellectual cover for the Nazi Party: “From Carl Schmitt to Mike Anton: First time tragedy, second time farce.” Kristol is the godfather of neo-conservativism and a leader of the Never Trump movement, so part of Anton’s rant was directed at mandarins of the right like him. Kristol didn’t take it well.

From Carl Schmitt to Mike Anton: First time tragedy, second time farce.https://t.co/bQeNdOvh0d

— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) February 3, 2017

Carl Schmitt was a highly-regarded intellectual in Weimar Germany when he joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and became a prominent and enthusiastic supporter of the worst anti-Jewish laws that were soon enacted. His detractors have referred to him as “Hitler’s Crown Jurist,” and after World War II he was held for more than a year at an allied internment camp for Nazis. His intellectual legacy is complicated, and his ideas, which retain influence today, have taken hold on the anti-liberal extremes of both the left and the right.

Schmitt despised liberalism and, as Michael Lind explained in an incisive article two years ago, made a philosophical argument for a type of populism led by “a charismatic leader who saves the people from danger by acting decisively, outside of the law if necessary.” This is sometimes referred to as “decisionism,” in which authority is derived from taking action, strong action, without necessarily having a plan or needing to show positive results or following the law. The opening line of Schmitt’s 1922 book, “Political Theology,” gets at some of this: “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.” One of the most important tasks of leadership, according to Schmitt, is to identify and fight against a common enemy. As he put it in one of his most-cited lines, “The high points of politics are simultaneously the moments in which the enemy is, in concrete reality, recognized as the enemy.” Lind described Schmitt’s view of the political world in this way: “The exception is the rule. The emergency is the norm. The nation is constantly on the verge of collapse and threatened by enemies without and within.”

Sound familiar?

The echoes between Schmitt’s ideas and Trump’s presidency have been the subject of academic murmurings for a number of months. Quinta Jurecic, an associate editor of the blog Lawfare, noted in an essay a few weeks before Trump took the oath of office that he “has given us genuine reason for concern that he may actually represent the Schmittian nightmare feared by many on the left and in the civil libertarian community after 9/11.” A few weeks later, after Trump had issued his sweeping anti-Muslim travel ban, a professor at George Mason University, Mark Koyama, described the 45th president as “a perfect Schmittian. With the stroke of a pen, he has drawn an arbitrary distinction between friends and enemies of the United States.”

The outing of Anton in the Weekly Standard was accompanied with a picture of him on the sidelines of a press briefing at the White House. He doesn’t look fearsome. He is thin, with large glasses, unfashionably wide tie, and he is holding a green notebook in one hand and two pens in the other. He looks a bit uncertain, very much the image of a middle-aged white intellectual who is more comfortable with books than the spotlight or actual struggle. His mild manner in that picture contrasts with the unforgiving belligerence of his ideas.

In his inaugural address, Trump used the phrase “American carnage” to describe the way things are now. Trump was wrong about the state of our nation, which is not a wasteland from coast to coast. But if Anton’s deadly Flight 93 vision comes true, carnage may well describe our future.

Top photo: Michael Anton attends the daily news briefing at the White House, Feb. 1, 2017.

The post Dark Essays By White House Staffer Are the Intellectual Source Code of Trumpism appeared first on The Intercept.

Grandes jornais apoiam escolha de Moraes para o STF

12 February 2017 - 5:30am

No dia 20 de janeiro, a Folha de São Paulo publicou:

“Em conversas reservadas, o presidente já manifestou o desejo de indicar um nome de perfil “técnico” e “apartidário”, que não desperte desconfianças de que o Palácio do Planalto poderia querer intervir na Operação Lava Jato.”

A pose republicana do presidente não eleito durou pouco. Temer dizia querer um nome apartidário para o STF para que ninguém desconfiasse de que sua nomeação seria mais uma força-tarefa da Operação Estanca Sangria. Pois bem, o apartidário escolhido é um filiado do PSDB, ou melhor, era. Alexandre de Moraes se desfiliou do partido essa semana e talvez tenha adquirido automaticamente a isenção necessária para integrar a mais alta corte do país.

Como bem lembrou Glenn Greenwald para  The Intercept Brasil, a nomeação de um ministro alinhadíssimo ao governo se encaixa perfeitamente no roteiro descrito na famosa conversa vazada entre Jucá e Machado. É o grande pacto nacional, com Supremo, com tudo.

À direita e à esquerda, o nome de Alexandre de Moraes foi contestado. Boa parte da comunidade jurídica se revoltou. Além de ser colega de governo de vários acusados na Lava Jato – processo do qual será revisor no plenário –, o tucano coleciona uma infindável quantidade de polêmicas em todos os cargos pelos quais passou. Com um perfil completamente diferente de Teori Zavascki, Alexandre não é discreto, sóbrio ou técnico. Sempre teve pretensões políticas e costuma promover pirotecnia em suas ações. O futuro ministro do STF é inegavelmente um exibicionista, chegando ao cúmulo de anunciar ações da Lava Jato em comício do PSDB. Como observou o colunista Bernardo Franco Mello, uma das principais virtudes do novo ministro é a “lealdade canina aos superiores”. É com essas qualidades que Alexandre analisará uma investigação envolvendo seu ex-chefe, ex-correligionários e aliados políticos.

A nomeação não foi oficializada, ainda falta o ato final da pantomima. O ex-advogado de Eduardo Cunha terá que passar pelo crivo da Comissão de Constituição e Justiça (CCJ) do Senado, que é integrada por 13 membros, sendo que 10 – incluindo o seu presidente Edison Lobão (PMDB) – são investigados pela Lava Jato. Para a coisa ficar ainda mais descarada, os senadores já até realizaram uma pré-sabatina com Moraes no Love Boat de Wilder Morais (PP-GO) – flagrado pela Polícia Federal discutindo assuntos do interesse do bicheiro Carlinhos Cachoeira com o governador Marconi Perillo (PSDB-GO). 

Na imprensa, a escolha de Moraes foi criticada por muitos articulistas, mas não com a mesma intensidade e indignação de outrora. Miriam Leitão, por exemplo, foi bastante crítica, mas evitou a palavra “aparelhamento” – um termo que ela usou para classificar a escolha de Fachin por Dilma em 2015.

O Estadão foi muito além. Na terça, tivemos um editorial chamado “Afinal, um País com rumo”, que já nasceu como um clássico do chapabranquismo nacional. Na quarta, os donos do jornal opinaram sobre a escolha de Moraes para o STF assim:

Como já era de se esperar, o Estadão foi muito compreensível com a escolha de Michel Temer: minimizou as ligações políticas de Moraes e exaltou suas qualificações técnicas.

Quando Dilma escolheu Fachin para substituir Joaquim Barbosa no STF, o Estadão utilizou outro adjetivo para qualificar a indicação da petista:

Perceba que os motivos que tornam a escolha “infeliz” são as conexões políticas de Fachin, enquanto suas qualificações técnicas foram relegadas a segundo plano. Para o Estadão, as inclinações políticas do juiz só são um problema quando não são as mesmas da família Mesquita.

Aliás, é bastante curioso que se dê tanto destaque para a qualificação técnica de um ministro que plagiou obras estrangeiras em um livro de direito com fins didáticos. Moraes, que é um professor da USP, chegou a copiar parágrafos inteiros de um autor espanhol e apresentou como se fossem de sua autoria. O flagrante caso de corrupção acadêmica virou notícia até na Espanha.

Agora, leia esse trecho de uma tese de doutorado na USP de 2000:

“É vedado (para o cargo de ministro do STF) o acesso daqueles que estiverem no exercício ou tiveram exercido cargo de confiança no Poder Executivo, mandatos eletivos, ou o cargo de procurador-geral da República, durante o mandato do presidente da República em exercício no momento da escolha, de maneira a evitar-se demonstração de gratidão política ou compromissos que comprometam a independência de nossa Corte Constitucional”.

Se não houve outro plágio, o texto é da autoria de Alexandre de Moraes. Mas esqueçam o que ele escreveu. Merval Pereira, um dos colunistas mais prestigiados pelas Organizações Globo e sempre alinhadíssimo à linha editorial da empresa, defendeu essa circunstancial e inacreditável mudança de opinião:

Para tentar explicar essa repentina mudança, Merval recorreu ao contorcionismo: “É um problema para ele, mas a nomeação estava na lista de Temer desde o primeiro momento”. O colunista afirmou também – acredite! – que esta foi “uma escolha técnica do presidente”.

Em outra coluna em O Globo, Merval seguiu os passos do Estadão: ressaltou as qualificações técnicas de Moraes e minimizou as implicações políticas da sua nomeação. Mas Merval também tem direito de mudar de opinião. À época da indicação de Fachin, as qualificações técnicas não pareciam tão importantes e o fato de ele ter declarado fazer parte de um grupo de “juízes que têm lado” deixou o colunista indignado. Em coluna intitulada “O lado errado”, Merval cobrou explicações:

“Juristas ‘que têm lado’ não deveriam estar no Supremo, aleguei então, inclusive por que Fachin notabilizou-se por defender politicamente as ações do MST, o que seria, na minha opinião, uma influência negativa nos seus julgamentos no Supremo. Disse então que Fachin deveria explicar que história era aquela de ‘ter lado’, e que deveria se comprometer com a independência em relação ao governo petista, explicando qual a diferença daquele Fachin de 2010 para o hoje indicado ao STF.”

Se o Estadão achou a escolha de Moraes “compreensível”, O Globo considerou “natural”. Em editorial com o título “A escolha natural de Moraes para o Supremo”, o jornal da família Marinho afirma: “Não é em si preocupante que o indicado tenha passagem pela política, pois magistrados costumam ser independentes, como fica evidente em veredictos no STF”.  

Numa época em que partidos governistas sofrem graves acusações na Lava Jato, esses dois grandes veículos consideraram “compreensível” e “natural” a indicação de um filiado do PSDB e integrante do governo para o STF. Longe de mim querer exigir neutralidade no jornalismo, mas é necessário cobrar um mínimo de coerência e transparência. Merval, Globo e Estadão têm lado definido, mas insistem em desfilar vestindo o terninho da imparcialidade.

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As Tensions Rise, Steve Bannon and ISIS Get Closer to Their Common Goal: Civilizational War

11 February 2017 - 9:05am

The Trump administration has taken sweeping, drastic measures that it says are necessary to protect Americans from the threat of terrorism, including its executive order halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. But the radical policies and beliefs of this administration could just as easily end up fueling the narratives of extremist groups fighting the United States. When Trump ran a campaign built on promises to destroy ISIS, how can one explain the fact that supporters of the group in Mosul were reportedly celebrating his Muslim ban?

The order was based on plainly dubious claims about national security, targeting for scrutiny some of the most heavily vetted visitors to the United States. But the tangible purpose it did serve, before being at least temporarily frozen by the courts, was to divide Americans from millions of people in the Muslim world by sending the latter a message of gratuitous insult and contempt — and emboldening the very extremist movements the order was ostensibly directed against.

That kind of polarization may be exactly what some members of the White House want. High-ranking members of the current administration — most notably its chief strategist, Steve Bannon — have publicly espoused apocalyptic theories of history that center on a forthcoming clash between Western countries and the Muslim world, a conflict that many of them seem to perceive as both inevitable and desirable.

There are striking parallels between Bannon’s worldview and the perspective of terrorist groups like the Islamic State, which see the world divided in similarly binary terms — hence their reported enthusiasm for the executive order that Bannon helped author.

A proponent of pseudoscientific theories of history like the “Fourth Turning,” Bannon has predicted the coming of another major U.S. war in the Middle East and a military conflict with what he calls an “expansionist China.” In interviews during the election campaign, Bannon openly described Trump as a “blunt instrument” for his ideological goals.

A 2014 speech that Bannon delivered to an audience at the Vatican provides a hint of what kind of program he might want to use Trump to achieve. In that address, delivered via teleconference, Bannon called for a revival of the tradition of the “church militant,” describing a vague yet apocalyptic threat he claims that Western countries face from both “Islamic jihadist fascism” and their own loss of religious faith.

We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict … to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.

Now consider how Bannon’s hysterical view of history was echoed that same year in a speech by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who issued a similarly vague, yet no less frenzied call to arms:

So let the world know that we are living today in a new era. Whoever was heedless must now be alert. Whoever was sleeping must now awaken. … You will face tribulation and fierce battle. … So prepare your arms, and supply yourselves with piety.

Nowhere are these types of ideas particularly popular. While the Islamic State is held up by anti-Muslim activists in the United States as the quintessential expression of Muslim beliefs, in reality the group is deeply loathed in Muslim-majority countries. In the United States, though Trump won the election, his voter base comprised a distinct minority of the electorate. Even among those who did vote for him, few appear to have done so in enthusiasm for the apocalyptic theories of history held by advisers like Bannon. Huge numbers of people have also taken to the streets in opposition to Trump’s executive orders, which has helped to counteract the administration’s anti-Muslim message to the world, showing that it does not represent the views of all Americans.

But it doesn’t take much for a highly motivated minority to spark a broader conflict.

President Donald Trump pauses as he signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House, on Feb. 3, 2017, in Washington.

Photo: Aude Guerrucci/Press Pool/Getty Images

ISIS attacks have been deliberately calibrated to shock and offend the sensibilities of Western publics, a strategy that the group openly refers to as “eliminating the grayzone” of coexistence between societies. Many 19th- and 20th-century revolutionary movements were also led by small, militant vanguards that used violence and provocation to help advance their political programs. In their time, these movements achieved real tactical successes. And even today, despite widespread public war-weariness in the United States, ISIS has accomplished its goal of dragging American troops back into armed conflicts in Iraq and Syria that show little sign of abating.

After a series of improbable successes, the radical right-wing vanguard of U.S. politics has now taken control of the government, along with the most powerful military on the planet. In its enthusiasm for civilizational war, it is just the enemy that a group like the Islamic State needs to help validate its desperate and fanatical narrative.

An early example of the kind of harm that the Trump administration can do came in the form of the first special operations forces raid authorized by Trump after his inauguration. In that operation — reportedly promoted to him over dinner with his advisers — a total of 25 civilians were reportedly killed, including nine children under the age of 13. Among those killed was an 8-year-old U.S. citizen, Nawar al-Awlaki, the daughter of deceased al Qaeda proselytizer Anwar al-Awlaki. Images of Awlaki’s daughter and other victims of the raid were broadcast around the world, fueling widespread outrage.

Days later, the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda publicly denounced Trump for carrying out a “massacre” of civilians. The group promised vengeance, saying that global outrage over the deaths meant that “the flame of jihad has ignited and reached all over the world.”

While that may be an overstatement, it is not hard to see how a cycle of tit-for-tat violence, already tacitly established since the start of the war on terror, could accelerate dramatically under an administration that actively seeks to escalate conflict. Where President Obama sought to calm public fears in the aftermath of ISIS attacks, Trump and his administration will undoubtedly seek to inflame them for political gain. It’s only a matter of time before such an attack occurs, and Trump’s reaction could have consequences that quickly spiral out of control.

In his memoirs, published after his suicide in 1942, the exiled Austrian Jewish writer Stefan Zweig described his feelings of despair upon realizing that a “tiny but loud-mouthed party of German Nationalists” had succeeded in seizing power and dragging humanity into a global conflict it had neither wanted or expected. “The personal cause to which I had lent the force of my convictions, the peaceful union of Europe, had been wrecked,” Zweig lamented. “What I feared more than my own death, war waged by everyone against everyone else, had been unleashed for the second time.”

Seven decades after Zweig penned these words, small, well-organized groups of right-wing radicals are once again ascendant across the world. The best hope to stop them may be the popular opposition movements that have already begun to stir in the United States. But most importantly, it will take a rejection of the logic of revenge and collective blame on both sides to prevent the apocalyptic visions of these extremists from becoming reality.

Top photo: Senior counselor to the president, Steve Bannon, arrives at the presidential inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2017.

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Ali Vayeghan Was Deported Under Trump’s Executive Order. Now He’s Back in the U.S.

11 February 2017 - 8:51am

When it began to dawn on Marjan Vayghan that her uncle Ali had been detained by customs enforcement at the Los Angeles International Airport, she hadn’t even heard about President Trump’s Muslim ban. On the evening of January 27, the same day Trump signed the executive order, Ali Vayeghan (he and his niece spell their names differently), an Iranian national with an American green card, was scheduled to arrive at LAX on a 7 p.m. flight. It wasn’t until 2 a.m. that a customs official confirmed to Marjan’s distraught family what they already suspected: that Ali was being held prisoner at the airport.

Marjan didn’t get any sleep until seven that morning. Before she crawled into bed, she put up a post on Facebook, describing to her friends what had happened to her uncle.

When she woke up at noon and checked her newsfeed, Marjan told me, “my friends had just gone crazy.” Her post had caught fire. Her friends were livid about the travel ban, which Marjan now learned was what was behind her uncle’s predicament. Her father called and told her that all her friends were there at the airport already. “The angry feminist friends from your art shows who don’t wear makeup are hugging your mom,” he told her. A few hours later, while she was on her way to LAX, her father called again. “It’s not just your friends anymore,” he said. By now, protesters had begun to arrive at the airport to show their solidarity with the detained travelers and their opposition to the executive order. By the time Marjan left LAX late that night, the crowd had grown to hundreds. By the following day, it would be thousands.

After 20 hours in detention, with no provision of food or sleeping accommodations, during which time Customs and Border Protection tried to get him to sign away his residency (he refused), Ali was put on a plane to Dubai, where he was expected to connect to a flight back to Tehran, and to somehow get through customs in both countries with “REVOKED” written across his visa with a red sharpie.

Peter Bibring, an ACLU attorney, had rushed to file a request for an injunction when he heard about Ali’s deportation order. But by the time the court received it, there was no time for a ruling before Ali’s flight took off. The plane left Los Angeles to Dubai with Ali on it.

On the afternoon of February 2, Ali Vayeghan, apparently the first person to be deported out of LAX under Trump’s executive order, became the first person to be brought back into the country under a court ruling that rejected the legal and constitutional basis of Trump’s ban. The ACLU hadn’t been able to prevent Ali’s removal from the United States, but it had managed to secure his return.

Ali stepped off the plane and into the embrace of his niece. The mayor was there to shake his hand. So was a giant, frenzied scrum of reporters (myself among them), holding their cameras and their phones aloft to get even a passing shot of the family’s reunion. Protesters were there, too, holding up signs welcoming Ali Vayeghan to the United States of America.

“He is now a lawful permanent resident of the United States,” Bibring told me. “We’re hopeful that the government will respect that.”

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Trump quer liberar compra de minerais de conflitos africanos por empresas americanas

10 February 2017 - 3:22pm

O esboço de vazado de um memorando presidencial que Donald Trump deve assinar nos próximos dias suspende uma norma de 2010 que desencorajou empresas americanas a financiar conflitos e abusos de direitos humanos na República Democrática do Congo por meio da compra de “minerais de conflito”.

O memorando, circulado pelos bastidores do governo na sexta-feira à tarde e obtido pelo The Intercept, orienta a Comissão de Valores Mobiliários dos EUA a revogar temporariamente os requisitos da Norma de Minerais em Conflitos, uma cláusula da Lei Dodd Frank [que regula a indústria financeira], por dois anos. A manobra é explicitamente permitida na lei para fins de segurança nacional. O memorando também orienta o Departamento de Estado e o Departamento do Tesouro a encontrarem um plano alternativo para “lidar com tais problemas no Congo e em países adjacentes”.

A ideia por trás da norma, que teve suporte de ambos os partidos, era exaurir a receita de milícias forçando empresas a realizarem auditorias de suas cadeias de fornecimento para identificarem prestadores de serviços que usam minerais comprados das milícias.

A revelação da iminente decisão ocorre pouco depois de Trump se reunir com Brian Krzanich, presidente-executivo da Intel, uma das empresas mais afetadas pelas regulações dos minerais de conflitos. Ontem, na Casa Branca, Krzanich anunciou ao lado do presidente uma nova fábrica no Arizona.

Thank you Brian Krzanich, CEO of @Intel. A great investment ($7 BILLION) in American INNOVATION and JOBS! #AmericaFirst???????? pic.twitter.com/76lAiSSQ1l

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017

Tradução: Obrigado, Brian Krzanich, CEO da @Intel. Grande investimento (US$ 7 BILHÕES) em INOVAÇÃO e EMPREGOS americanos!

Defensores dos direitos humanos — que comemoraram o avanço que a norma sobre os conflitos representava — ficaram estarrecidos. “Qualquer ação executiva suspendendo a norma sobre minerais de conflitos seria um presente para grupos armados que tentam lucrar com os minerais do Congo, assim como seria um presente para empresas que querem fazer negócios com criminosos e corruptos”, disse Carly Oboth, conselheira política da organização Global Witness, em nota respondendo ao artigo da Reuters que revelou a manobra em primeira mão.

“É um abuso de poder o fato de o governo Trump estar defendendo a suspensão da lei por meio de uma exceção reservada a casos de segurança nacional e fins emergenciais. A suspensão da cláusula pode na verdade prejudicar a segurança nacional dos EUA.”

Chips de computador avançados, incluindo tecnologias usadas em celulares e semicondutores, contêm minerais que são frequentemente fornecidos por países devastados por guerras na África central. Empresas como Intel, Apple, HP e IBM usam chips avançados que contêm tântalo, ouro, estanho e tungstênio — elementos que podem ser minerados a preços baixos no Congo, onde as minas são controladas por milícias que alimentam uma guerra civil de mais de uma década.

Empresas de tecnologia americanas, como a Intel, fizeram lobby quando a norma foi proposta. Mas desde a aprovação, as empresas tecnológicas vêm usando diversos grupos corporativos terceirizados para bloquear a norma. Grupos comerciais representando grandes empresas americanas do setor tecnológico e outros fabricantes, incluindo a Câmara de Comércio dos EUA e o grupo de CEOs Business Roundtable, tentaram bloquear a norma com uma ação judicial federal. Em 2014, um tribunal federal derrubou parte da norma que forçava empresas a revelarem em seus sites o uso minerais de conflitos do Congo.

A Intel também é uma das empresas que alardearam seus esforços em cumprir a lei, publicando um relatório que aponta que a empresa conduziu 40 auditorias em metalúrgicas no leste do Congo.

A Reuters também informou que o presidente interino da Comissão de Valores Mobiliários, Michael Piwowar, tomou medidas para enfraquecer a eficiência da fiscalização, pedindo a funcionários que “reconsiderassem como as empresas deveriam cumprir” [a norma].

Leia aqui o memorando (inglês):

DV.load('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/3457048-Document-Final.js', { width: '100%', height: '450', sidebar: false, container: '#dcv-3457048-Document-Final' });

Foto principal: Funcionários em uma encosta enlameada trabalham em uma mina de ouro no nordeste do Congo. 2009.

The post Trump quer liberar compra de minerais de conflitos africanos por empresas americanas appeared first on The Intercept.

Former CIA Analyst Sues Defense Department to Vindicate NSA Whistleblowers

10 February 2017 - 1:56pm

In 2010, Thomas Drake, a former senior employee at the National Security Agency, was charged with espionage for speaking to a reporter from the Baltimore Sun about a bloated, dysfunctional intelligence program he believed would violate Americans’ privacy. The case against him eventually fell apart, and he pled guilty to a single misdemeanor, but his career in the NSA was over.

Though Drake was largely vindicated, the central question he raised about technology and privacy has never been resolved. Almost seven years have passed now, but Pat Eddington, a former CIA analyst, is still trying to prove that Drake was right.

While working for Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., Eddington had the unique opportunity to comb through still-classified documents that outline the history of two competing NSA programs known as ThinThread and Trailblazer. He’s seen an unredacted version of the Pentagon inspector general’s 2004 audit of the NSA’s failures during that time, and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests.

In January, Eddington decided to take those efforts a step further by suing the Department of Defense to obtain the material, he tells The Intercept. “Those documents completely vindicate” those who advocated for ThinThread at personal risk, says Eddington.

The controversy dates back to 1996, when Ed Loomis, then a computer systems designer for the NSA, along with his team worked to move the NSA’s collection capabilities from the analog to the digital world. The shift would allow the NSA to scoop up internet packets, stringing them together into legible communications, and automating a process to instantly decide which communications were most interesting, while masking anything from Americans. The prototype, called GrandMaster, would need to ingest vast amounts of data, but only spit out what was most valuable, deleting or encrypting everything else.

Then in the fall of 2001, four passenger airliners were hijacked by terrorists as part of a suicide plot against Washington, D.C., and New York City. The U.S. intelligence community faced a disturbing wakeup call: its vast collection systems had failed to prevent the attacks.

Yet, in response, the NSA simply started collecting more data.

The NSA sent out a bid to multiple defense contractors, seeking a program that could collect and analyze communications from phones and the internet. Science Applications Internal Corporation, or SAIC, won the contract, known as Trailblazer. Meanwhile, internally, NSA employees were developing a similar, less costly alternative called ThinThread, a follow-on to GrandMaster. ThinThread would collect online communications, sort them, and mask data belonging to Americans.

Those involved in ThinThread argue that their approach was better than a collect-it-all approach taken by NSA.

“Bulk collection kills people,” says Bill Binney, a former NSA analyst, who rose to be a senior technical official with a dream of automating the agency’s espionage. “You collect everything, dump it on the analyst, and they can’t see the threat coming, can’t stop it,” he says.

Binney built a back-end system — a processor that would draw on data collected by ThinThread, analyze it, look at whether or not the traffic was involves American citizens, and pass on what was valuable for foreign intelligence.

“Bulk acquisition doesn’t work,” agrees Kirk Wiebe, a former NSA senior analyst, who was trying to help convince NSA of ThinThread’s value at the time.

The analysts are drowning in data, and Binney and Wiebe believe ThinThread would have solved the problem by helping the NSA sort through the deluge automatically while protecting privacy using encryption.

But Binney and Wiebe say advocates of ThinThread hit every possible bureaucratic roadblock on the way, sitting in dozens of meetings with lawyers and lawmakers. In the meantime, Gen. Michael Hayden, the director of the NSA at the time, said he decided to fund an outside contract for a larger effort, focused on gathering all communications, not just those over the internet, as ThinThread was designed to do.

Additionally, while ThinThread masked American communications, Hayden’s legal and technical advisors were concerned the collection itself would be a problem. Some of Hayden’s senior officials at the NSA came from SAIC, the company that won contract to design a proof of concept for Trailblazer.

“A tiny group of people at NSA had developed a capability for next to no money at all to give the government an unprecedented level of access to any number of foreign terrorists,” Eddington says. “Instead that system was shut down in favor of an SAIC boondoggle that cost taxpayers, by my last count, close to a billion dollars.”

He argues the contract, and the “incestuous” relationship between the NSA chief and the contractor never received the scrutiny it deserved. “It was clearly an ethical problem,” Loomis said.

Ultimately, however, the NSA went with Trailblazer. Hayden rejected the ThinThread proposal because the intelligence community’s lawyers were concerned it wouldn’t work on a global scale, and that it would vacuum up too much American data. Hayden has continued dismissing concerns years later as the grumblings of disgruntled employees. Hayden told PBS Frontline ThinThread “was not the answer to the problems we were facing, with regard to the volume, variety and velocity of modern communications.”

In 2002, Wiebe, Binney, Loomis, Drake, and Diane Roark, a Republican staffer on the House Intelligence Committee who had been advocating for ThinThread, united to complain to the Defense Department’s inspector general, arguing that ThinThread, while still a prototype, would be the best surveillance system. The oversight body completed its report in 2004, which included major concerns about Trailblazer.

“We talked about going for the nuclear option,” Wiebe said, referring to discussions at the time about contacting the press.

But Drake went it alone, however, never telling his colleagues what he planned to do. Stories about the disagreements started showing up in news headlines based on leaks. The Bush administration in 2007 sent the FBI after the whistleblowers, raiding each of the whistleblowers’ homes who raised complaints to the Pentagon inspector general. Drake faced espionage charges after speaking to a reporter from the Baltimore Sun about the alleged mismanagement and waste in the NSA.

Though Drake wasn’t sent to prison, he lost his career in government, and now works at an Apple store. The question of whether ThinThread would have provided a better capability than Trailblazer was never resolved.

While ThinThread never made it to production, some of the analytic elements, minus the privacy protections, made it into Fort Meade as part of a massive surveillance program now known as Stellar Wind.

But there may be a way to settle the debate. The watchdog agency tasked with oversight of the Department of Defense completed a full investigation into the battle between ThinThread and the Trailblazer. The Pentagon inspector general published a heavily redacted version of that investigation in 2011; that report is now the only public record available, aside from the account of the whistleblowers who exposed it.

Despite everything that’s come out about its surveillance programs, the NSA still won’t release the full ThinThread investigation. “I don’t really know what they’re trying to hide,” said Loomis.

Loomis says he thinks those redactions were more for the sake of Hayden’s reputation than protecting real classified information. He eventually documented the saga in a self-published book called “NSA’s Transformation: An Executive Branch Black Eye.”

Drake told The Intercept in an email that efforts to uncover the Pentagon inspector general’s ThinThread investigation were a large part of his defense. Since then, the Office of Special Counsel concluded last March that the Department of Justice may have destroyed evidence that might have helped exonerate him.

In the meantime, however, hope is fading that the entire story of ThinThread will emerge from behind the government door of secrecy. “We’ve been trying for 15 or 16 years now to bring the U.S. government the technical solution to save lives, but they fight us left and right,” said Wiebe.

Eddington says the ThinThread controversy demonstrates the lack of oversight of the intelligence community. “The mentality that gave us this system is still in place,” he says. “We could see this become de facto permanent,” he said.

The post Former CIA Analyst Sues Defense Department to Vindicate NSA Whistleblowers appeared first on The Intercept.

“O Estado está negando os direitos humanos dos policiais”

10 February 2017 - 1:26pm

O problema ultrapassou os limites da capital do Espírito Santo. O número de mortos no estado durante a paralisação dos trabalhos da Polícia Militar vai a mais de cem — e continua crescendo.

No Rio de Janeiro, familiares e amigos de agentes também bloquearam as portas de alguns batalhões, mas sem impedir que a grande maioria do efetivo fosse às ruas. Em resposta, o governador Luiz Fernando Pezão (PMDB) se reuniu com a cúpula da segurança do estado e anunciou um novo calendário de pagamentos. Os policiais do Rio estavam com vencimentos atrasados – alguns, referentes a benefícios que datam de 2015.

Brazil's government authorized deployment of troops Monday to the coastal city of Vitoria, which has been left at the mercy of criminals following a police strike.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
/ AFP / Vinicius MORAES (Photo credit should read VINICIUS MORAES/AFP/Getty Images)" />

Familiares de policiais manifestam-se em Vila Velha (ES), no dia 6 de fevereiro.

Foto: VINICIUS MORAES/AFP/Getty Images

“O grande violador dos direitos humanos em qualquer sociedade é o Estado.”

O coronel reformado Jorge da Silva, autor do livro “Violência e racismo no Rio de Janeiro”.

Foto: Divulgação

A frase é do coronel reformado da Polícia Militar do Rio de Janeiro Jorge da Silva. Já foi subsecretário de Segurança Pública e secretário de Direitos Humanos, hoje é professor da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), doutor em Ciências Sociais.

Ele fala ao The Intercept Brasil sobre o corte nos direitos dos policiais que levam seus familiares a se organizarem em greve. Também discorre sobre a polêmica reacesa em torno de uma — possível ou impossível — desmilitarização da polícia.

O antropólogo é taxativo ao dizer que tratar a Polícia Militar como “único problema” da segurança nacional é como olhar apenas para a ponta do iceberg: “Os excessos são praticados por outras polícias do Brasil. Policial Civil, guardas, sistema penitenciário…”

“Não é por ser militar, é por outro motivo”

The Intercept Brasil: Em seus textos, o senhor costuma afirmar que os policiais militares têm seus direitos civis e humanos negados. Pode explicar como isso acontece?

Jorge da Silva: O grande violador dos direitos humanos em qualquer sociedade é o Estado.

Quando o Estado coloca o policial militar em condições precárias de trabalho. Quando o coloca em situação que potencializa a sua vitimização, em que eles morrem em uma quantidade muito acima do que seria minimamente razoável, o Estado está negando os direitos humanos desses policiais.

Os trabalhadores brasileiros, em geral, têm direito a greve, a hora extra… O servidor militar não tem nada disso. Então, isso aí é o que eu chamo de uma restrição à cidadania, ele não é um cidadão como outro qualquer.

Você não pode pagar uma miséria a quem se nega todos esses direitos. Para que isso pudesse ser compensado, ele deveria ter boas condições de trabalho.

“Essas pessoas estão tendo que manter a ordem na camada de baixo, enquanto lá em cima tem gente roubando… Isso não pode dar certo.”

TIB: O senhor acredita que são essas violações de direito que levam à greve?

JS: Olha, eu estou fora da corporação há 20 anos, então não posso falar pelas demandas específicas. Mas existe uma complicação.

Por exemplo, em um estado como o Rio de Janeiro, em que houve um festival de roubalheira: o ex-governador, que esteve aí por oito anos, está na cadeia; todo dia saem as cifras astronômicas que foram roubadas e, enquanto isso, o estado não tem dinheiro para pagar os pensionistas.

Todo esse caldo de cultura, eu não estou dizendo que justifique esses movimentos [das greves], que são lamentáveis. Mas a gente precisa compreender que para tudo há limite. E não é só no estado do RJ, essa roubalheira é nacional. São milhões, e milhões, e milhões.

Então a pessoa que está morrendo, está se ferindo, perdendo as pernas, uma quantidade imensa de mortes no Brasil inteiro. Essas pessoas estão tendo que manter a ordem na camada de baixo, enquanto lá em cima tem gente roubando… Isso não pode dar certo.

Brazil's government authorized deployment of troops Monday to the coastal city of Vitoria, which has been left at the mercy of criminals following a police strike.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
/ AFP / Vinicius MORAES (Photo credit should read VINICIUS MORAES/AFP/Getty Images)" />

Familiares de policiais militares do Espírito Santo fazem manifestação no dia 6 de fevereiro de 2017.

Foto: VINICIUS MORAES/AFP/Getty Images

TIB: Nessa situação de greve dos familiares de PMs, voltou-se a discutir a desmilitarização da polícia. O senhor acredita ser possível essa desmilitarização?

JS: Quando você tem uma polícia lá na ponta trabalhando e um establishment em que o governador diz: “Comigo não tem conversa, tem que ir pro confronto”. Esse é um discurso belicista.

Tem um discurso militarista partindo do establishment brasileiro. Pode observar: “Tem que matar mesmo”. Esse discurso militarista impregna não só os policiais militares, mas os policiais civis, os guardas municipais… E não parte só do establishment, como de grande parcela da população. “Bandido bom é bandido morto”, em todas essas pesquisas de opinião dá mais da metade das pessoas achando que tem que matar mais.

Isso aí é uma forma de você colocar o PM como bucha. Ele é que vai sofrer todo o efeito. E, quando ele morre, essas pessoas que estimulam a violência são as primeiras a dizer “tá vendo, o bandido matou, tem que matar mais”. Isso vira uma bola de neve. Esse discurso, essas bravatas proferidas por autoridades, políticos, governantes, grandes comandantes, secretários… essas pessoas são irresponsáveis, porque estão estimulando a vitimização de quem está na ponta.

TIB: Pode dar exemplo desse discurso no establishment?

JS: Tivemos aqui [no Rio de Janeiro] um secretário de segurança que disse, quando começaram a reclamar que a polícia estava matando muito: “Não, comigo é assim, atira primeiro, pergunta depois”.

Teve outro secretário que, quando morreram 19 de uma vez no Complexo do Alemão e foram reclamar com ele, ele falou: “não se pode fazer um omelete sem quebrar os ovos”.

Esse mesmo secretário — depois desse acontecimento, já tinham morrido outras pessoas no mesmo local, morte pela polícia — quando foi anunciado numa casa noturna na Zona Sul do Rio de Janeiro, ele foi aplaudido. Ou seja, as pessoas que aplaudiram devem ter achado que foi muito bom terem morrido 19 de uma vez só, e depois mais não sei quantos. Fica todo mundo feliz da vida quando mais pessoas morrem.

Em 1995, o governo do estado instituiu uma gratificação que ficou conhecida como Gratificação Faroeste. Quem é que foi para o faroeste? Foram os PMs. E, naquela época, o número de PMs mortos começou a aumentar. Aí, mata e morre, mata e morre. Isso é uma fábrica de loucos!

Agora mesmo, a PM do estado do Rio de Janeiro fez um trabalho muito bom a respeito das pessoas que ficam com problema de esquizofrenia, problemas mentais, stress e teve até suicídios. A taxa de suicídio da PM é uma taxa altíssima. Isso não é revelado, mas é uma verdade. Agora mesmo teve um que filmou o próprio suicídio. Um jornal deu na capa: Foi antes assassinado pelo Estado. Eu concordo!

“Quando eu falo em desmilitarização, digo: tem que desmilitarizar a cabeça das autoridades, a cabeça das pessoas que dirigem a sociedade.”

TIB: O senhor fala na perda de direitos civis e humanos dos policiais militares. Desmilitarizar a polícia não seria, então o caminho para reaver esses direitos? Não seria, então, algo que beneficiaria os próprios policiais?

JS: O que eu vejo é a desvalorização do policial militar. Há uma desvalorização da profissão muito grande. Chegamos a um ponto que não é possível seguir mais com essa lógica. É preciso valorizar os policiais de uma maneira geral, mas especificamente os PMs, que estão lá na ponta.

E quando eu falo em desmilitarização, digo: tem que desmilitarizar a cabeça das autoridades, a cabeça das pessoas que dirigem a sociedade. O Brasil é campeão mundial de assassinatos em termos absolutos. Não há um país no mundo em que se mate tanto. Ora, este é um problema que não é da polícia, não é um problema da Polícia Militar, é um problema da nossa sociedade em função da sua história. Isso tem que ser encarado de outra forma.

TIB: Que autoridades são essas?

JS: Por exemplo, o Eduardo Cunha. Uma das plataformas do então presidente da Câmara Federal era diminuir a maioridade penal e mudar o estatuto do desarmamento. Hoje, cada cidadão idôneo brasileiro pode possuir seis armas, o que eu já acho um absurdo. Eles [deputados] queriam aumentar para nove!

Da mesma forma que queriam reduzir a maioridade penal de 18 para 16, eles queriam reduzir a maioridade para comprar armas de 25 para 21. Então, você começa a perceber que nós temos uma elite belicista. Com raras exceções, não estou dizendo que é toda a nossa elite. Mas temos setores importantes da elite, da elite política principalmente, que são setores belicistas. Temos aí a bancada da bala.

Brazil's government authorized deployment of troops Monday to the coastal city of Vitoria, which has been left at the mercy of criminals following a police strike.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
/ AFP / Vinicius MORAES (Photo credit should read VINICIUS MORAES/AFP/Getty Images)" />

Familiares de policiais militares do Espírito Santo fazem manifestação no dia 6 de fevereiro, em Vila Velha.

Foto: VINICIUS MORAES/AFP/Getty Images

TIB: Como tirar as armas dos PMs, se estão deixando a população cada vez mais armada?

JS: Eu respeito as pessoas que acham necessário o cidadão ter uma arma para se defender e para defender a sua família. Eu não penso como elas, mas tenho minha consideração por essas pessoas.

Agora, o que eu não entendo é que um grupo de parlamentares defenda isso recebendo dinheiro da indústria de armas para se eleger. E esse número não é pequeno não.

“Os policiais militares não são vistos como pessoas. São vistos como o quê? É um uniforme e só.”

TIB: Frente a tudo que falamos aqui, dessa mentalidade militarista da sociedade e dos governantes, soaria hipócrita, então, pedir para desmilitarizar apenas a PM?

JS: É como se o problema da militarização da segurança no Brasil fosse apenas a PM. Quando, na verdade, a PM está no caldo cultural militarista da nossa sociedade. Se não admitirmos que temos fortes marcas militaristas na nossa cultura, nós não vamos resolver o problema.

Por exemplo, a polícia francesa é militar? Não.

Ela é menos violenta do que a do Rio? Principalmente, na hora de controle de distúrbios? Não. A polícia japonesa é militar? Não. E em caso de manifestações coletivas, de distúrbios, como é que ela age? Não é questão de ser militar ou não.

Outra coisa é você ter o que nós temos aqui no RJ. O governo coloca carro de combate para poder lutar. É praticamente um combate convencional.

TIB: Tem gente que diz que não dá para desmilitarizar a polícia exatamente por conta dessa “guerra particular”.

JS: “Ah, mas, os traficantes estão fortemente armados”.

Sim, os traficantes estão fortemente armados e é esse o problema. Nós não podemos raciocinar da seguinte maneira: já que os traficantes estão fortemente armados, a polícia tem que estar fortemente armada. Quem vai ficar feliz da vida é a indústria de armas. Vão achar ótimo isso, vão morrer de rir.

O problema não é tirar as armas dos traficantes, nem apreender as armas. É por que razão os traficantes estão tão armados. E não adianta ficar com aquela desculpa: “que isso aí eles roubam da própria polícia”. Não, tem que verificar exatamente quais são os esquemões que estão passando isso aí.

TIB: E o que é feito para responder a tal pergunta: “de onde vêm essas armas”?

JS: Você só ouve: “Não, porque a inteligência… o serviço de inteligência…” Eu escuto isso há mais de 30 anos! O governo federal diz: “Não, porque agora o nosso serviço de inteligência está fazendo isso”. No estado, entra governo, sai governo: “nós estamos trabalhando com inteligência.”

Muito bem, estão trabalhando com Inteligência. Como é que essas armas, essa quantidade de fuzis chega ao Brasil? Eles não sabiam. É uma maluquice isso! Como é que não sabiam?

Como é que eles têm tanta munição? Eu me preocupo até mais com a munição. É preciso fazer um trabalho de inteligência para descobrir esses grandes esquemões. Aí, eu não tenho dúvida alguma que os traficantes não vão mais ter o poderio que eles têm hoje.

TIB: O problema não é, então, essa lógica do enfrentamento? Essa política de segurança baseada na guerrilha?

JS: É muito comum as pessoas dizerem que: “O RJ é a polícia que mais morre, mas também é a que mais mata”. Olha, mas mata como? A polícia mata de tocaia? Eu não estou aqui defendendo os excessos. Há excessos – a gente compreende isso – mas não dá para comparar as mortes de policiais com as mortes em decorrência da ação policial.

Normalmente, na ação policial, pode até haver excesso, mas não ficou atrás de uma moita para esperar passar alguém e dar um tiro, como os traficantes fazem, como os bandidos fazem com os PMs aqui no RJ.

Os PMs, aqui no RJ, não podem nem andar com a sua identidade porque são caçados. E as pessoas querem comparar uma coisa com a outra. O que é um outro absurdo.

TIB: Sim, mas existem muitas mortes durante as trocas de tiro. E mortes ocasionadas por balas perdidas, que matam pessoas que não são envolvidas…

JS: Há mortes em confronto, realmente. Há mortes em que as pessoas dizem que não houve confronto, também.

O que eu estou dizendo é o seguinte: os PMs do RJ, os agentes penitenciários e policiais civis estão sendo caçados nas ruas por bandidos fortemente armados e não é só de fuzil não, é de armas e munição também. Então, esse é o problema.

E qual a solução? “Bota mais PM.” Na última campanha eleitoral do Rio, teve um candidato que dissesse assim: “Os policiais estão morrendo! Mas, quando eu for eleito, se morrerem 10, a gente bota mais 10”. A solução é: morreram 10, bota mais 10.

“O que eu vejo é a desvalorização do policial militar. Há uma desvalorização da profissão muito grande. Chegamos a um ponto que não é possível seguir mais com essa lógica.”

TIB: Isso faz parte da forma como o Estado desvaloriza esses servidores?

JS: Os policiais militares não são vistos como pessoas. São vistos como o quê? É um uniforme e só. Como se fosse um boneco. Boneco tem família? Não! Boneco não tem família, boneco não tem sentimento. E mais: boneco não precisa descansar, não precisa atender suas necessidades fisiológicas.

Agora mesmo eu estava ouvindo uma entrevista do general que está lá no Espírito Santo. A repórter estava perguntando: “Quer dizer que o senhor tem mil homens? Nós temos mil homens nas ruas?”

E ele: “Não. Nós não temos mil homens de uma vez só, mas nós temos 350 a 400, porque tem que haver um revezamento, tem que haver um descanso”.

Isso naquela situação que eles foram lá para isso. E, agora, você imagina: mil policiais militares que tem que ter férias, folga, que o filho fica doente, que não vai ficar trabalhando 24h.

Brazil's government authorized deployment of troops Monday to the coastal city of Vitoria, which has been left at the mercy of criminals following a police strike.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
/ AFP / Vinicius Moraes (Photo credit should read VINICIUS MORAES/AFP/Getty Images)" />

Familiares de policiais militares fazem manifestação no Espírito Santo, dia 6 de fevereiro.

Foto: VINICIUS MORAES/AFP/Getty Images

TIB: A questão aqui não seria também de o policial militar não ser visto nem se ver como um servidor público do estado?

JS: O militar das Forças Armadas não é um servidor público nesse sentido em que estamos falando aqui. O exército, a marinha, a aeronáutica são para defender a Pátria. É uma outra coisa. A polícia militar, por dizer assim, não é para defender a pátria, é uma polícia para defender a cidadania.

Então, quando você tem um estado que coloca um policial — que é um servidor público — cujas férias podem ser cassadas, na hora em que ele está saindo de folga dizem para ele que tem um extra; que vai ter um jogo no Maracanã, vai ter um réveillon na praia de Copacabana, aquilo não é um serviço regular, tem que levantar um efetivo muito grande.

Aí eu digo: gente, PMs não nascem da terra. E também não existe milagre da multiplicação dos pães, o milagre da multiplicação dos PMs. Quando você quer multiplicar os PMs, você usa o mesmo PM, usa na folga dele. Isso é violação do direito humano daquela pessoa. Nós não temos condição de manter isso.

Então, é preciso que a sociedade brasileira, o establishment, os governos, a mídia, as pessoas que tem poder de voz na sociedade têm que falar: “olha, não dá para continuar mais assim”.

Não dá para você ter um grupo poderoso, com arma, com tudo… E tira desse pessoal toda a possibilidade de ter as condições suficientes de cuidar da sua família e ter uma vida normal na sociedade.

TIB: No início da nossa conversa, o senhor disse que o policial militar tem seu direito civil limitado. Agora pouco, disse que o papel dele é defender o direito civil dos outros. Não é injusto pedir a alguém que não tem direitos, que defenda os dos outros?

JS: Como é que você pode ter uma pessoa a quem você pede que garanta a segurança das pessoas, se ele mesmo não tem segurança alguma, não tem a cidadania respeitada, não tem seus direitos humanos respeitados, se ele tem seus direitos humanos violados o tempo todo? Não dá certo.

“Ah, então tem que desmilitarizar.” Sim, mas desmilitarizar só a PM? E a Polícia Civil, ela é civil? Ela não tem ethos militarista? Os nossos governantes não tem ethos militaristas?

E não digo só o Estado não, digo mais ainda, tem que desmilitarizar a sociedade. Quando você fizer uma pesquisa perguntando como é que se resolve e as pessoas dizendo “tem que matar”. O que é isso? Quem é que está dizendo não é o Estado, quem está dizendo são as pessoas. Nós temos uma sociedade preconceituosa e militarista.

Você lembra quando esse tema da desmilitarização da PM surgiu com mais força? 2013, minha querida! Aquelas manifestações, negócio das passagens, problema lá em São Paulo, aqui no Rio, em Brasília. As pessoas vieram com toda força para desmilitarizar a PM.

Antes disso, a PM subia lá no morro, as crianças ficavam sem aulas por semanas, tiroteio nas favelas e ninguém nunca disse que tinha que desmilitarizar a PM. Será que as pessoas que ficam falando “tem que desmilitarizar a PM”, elas estão preocupadas com a ocupação militar das favelas? Ou elas estão preocupadas com a ação da PM quando das manifestações públicas, os conflitos civis do asfalto? Desmilitariza aqui, lá pode continuar. Lá na favela bota UPP, bota a brigada. Mas aqui, na nossa manifestação, não.

The post “O Estado está negando os direitos humanos dos policiais” appeared first on The Intercept.

Trump Intends to Follow Up Botched Yemen Military Raid By Helping Saudis Target Civilians

10 February 2017 - 1:02pm

Donald Trump’s first concrete decision as commander in chief was a major fiasco that killed nine children, eight women, and a U.S. soldier in a botched raid on al Qaeda in Yemen.

The operation — which Trump reportedly approved over dinner — also failed to catch its reported target and severely damaged a local clinic, mosque, and school.

It’s hard to imagine Donald Trump making the situation worse in Yemen, but he did.

Impoverished to begin with, Yemen is two years into a civil war that has killed 10,000 people and displaced millions. A U.S.-supplied bombing campaign has turned schools, hospitals, essential infrastructure, and ancient heritage sites into rubble. And a U.S.-backed blockade is preventing the trade of food and basic goods, starving a country that previously relied on imports for 90 percent of its food.

Armed Yemenis walk on the debris at a wedding hall reportedly hit by a Saudi-led coalition air strike in the capital Sanaa on July 10, 2015.

Photo: Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

As a result, the United Nations this week declared that Yemen is on the brink of famine. Officials held a news conference Wednesday to announce that 19 million Yemenis — more than two-thirds of the country’s population — need some form of humanitarian assistance, 7.3 million people do not know where their next meal will come, and more than half of the country’s medical facilities have closed.

Jan Egeland, a former UN official and chair of the Norwegian Refugee Council, described the situation by saying “if bombs don’t kill you, a slow and painful death by starvation is now an increasing threat.”

Even so, the toll of Trump’s botched raid was so high that it drew criticism from the ousted government-in-exile of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi — the party supported by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in Yemen’s civil war. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Hadi’s ministers had withdrawn their support for the U.S. to conduct ground missions in Yemen. The Pentagon and the Hadi government quickly denied the report, but Hadi’s foreign minister then said the government is conducting a “reassessment” of the raid.

Trump is evidently so sensitive to the criticism that he has tried to smother it by shamefully smearing critics and trying to stifle dissent.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer accused critics of being disrespectful of Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, the Navy SEAL Trump sent to his death. “I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and does a disservice to the life of Chief Owens,” Spicer said.

On Thursday, after Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., described the raid as “a failure,” Trump — who repeatedly insisted it was a success — lashed out on Twitter, saying McCain’s criticism “emboldens the enemy” — likening congressional truth-telling to sedition.

And signs are that Yemen is in for more suffering at Trump’s hands.

Trump’s Defense Department is reportedly considering a proposal to designate Yemen a formal battlefield in the war on terror, which would allow for an “intensified pace of operations, rather than one-off raids or drone strikes.”

Yemen is one of seven countries included in Trump’s immigration ban. In New York City, Yemeni-Americans have led strikes and large protests against the ban, which separates many from their extended families.

And the Washington Times reported on Wednesday that the administration is set to approve an arms transfer to Saudi Arabia that the Obama administration denied to them on human rights grounds.

The shipment contains hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons guidance systems that would allow Saudi Arabia to convert dumb bombs into precision missiles.

Saudi soldiers from an artillery unit stand behind a pile of ammunition at a position close to the Saudi-Yemeni border, in southwestern Saudi Arabia, on April 13, 2015.

Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Targeted bombing is normally safer for civilians than indiscriminate bombing. In fact, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during his confirmation hearing that the U.S. should provide Saudi Arabia with “better targeting intelligence” and “better targeting capability” in order to minimize “collateral damage.”

But the Obama administration, despite its reluctance to offend the Saudis, halted the guidance-systems sales after concluding that the Saudi-led coalition was targeting civilians deliberately.

Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015 after Houthi rebels overran the capital and deposed Hadi, the Saudi-backed leader, who now splits his time between the Saudi capital and southern Yemen.  The U.S. has been a silent partner in the kingdom’s campaign against the Houthis, refueling warplanes, supplying targeting intelligence, and resupplying the coalition with more than $20 billion in weapons.

Since the beginning of their campaign, Saudi Arabia has destroyed vital civilian infrastructure including farms, fisheries, water infrastructure, roads, and hospitals. Other targeting decisions have sparked global outrage: the bombing of a children’s school and a school for the blind, and the October attack that turned a funeral at a community center into a “lake of blood.”

Congress has not yet been notified of the weapons shipment, and the Pentagon declined to comment on it in an email to The Intercept.

The Saudi-led bombing campaign has also allowed al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate — the target of Trump’s botched raid — to grow exponentially in personnel and finances.

According to State Department reports, the group quadrupled in size the year that Saudi Arabia started bombing. The same year, al Qaeda seized a prominent port city, which netted them an estimated $5 million a day off of customs tariffs and smuggled goods. Al Qaeda in Yemen is also fighting the Houthis.

While Trump ramps up U.S. militarism in Yemen, Democrats have largely ignored the plight of the Yemenis. When a Yemeni refugee who had lost her father to Saudi bombing questioned Nancy Pelosi at a CNN town hall on January 31, Pelosi condemned Trump’s Muslim travel ban — but said nothing about U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war. “Your family is suffering because our president is reckless” she said.

Pelosi to Yemeni refugee: "Your family is suffering because our president is reckless" https://t.co/qzremhe9fS https://t.co/UMhQJr7Ua2

— CNN (@CNN) February 1, 2017

Top Photo: A Yemeni man walks past flames rising from the ruins of buildings destroyed in a Saudi-led airstrike on Feb. 10, 2016 in Sanaa.

The post Trump Intends to Follow Up Botched Yemen Military Raid By Helping Saudis Target Civilians appeared first on The Intercept.

Guerra de liminares causada por Moreira Franco obriga STF a colocar ordem na casa

10 February 2017 - 12:41pm

A posse do ex-presidente Lula para a Casa Civil, em 2016, foi suspensa por meio de liminar; o afastamento de Eduardo Cunha (PMDB/RJ) da presidência da Câmara e do mandato, também; a tentativa de afastar Renan Calheiros (PMDB/AL) da presidência do Senado, mais uma liminar. Decisões como essas são um prato cheio para acentuar a já inflamada crise política.

As mais recentes, proferidas por três juízes (Distrito Federal, Rio de Janeiro e Amapá), impedem que o pmdebista Moreira Franco ocupe o cargo de ministro-chefe da Secretaria-Geral da Presidência. Uma delas, a do Distrito Federal, foi derrubada após intervenção da Advocacia-Geral da União. Cumprem-se as outras duas, e Moreira segue quase-ministro.

Benevolente, o presidente Michel Temer concedeu a promoção a Moreira na semana passada, gerando reação contrária da opinião pública, que viu na nomeação um interesse de protegê-lo com foro privilegiado. A avalanche de críticas a ambos não é por falta de motivos. Amigos de longa data, o presidente e seu pupilo foram citados dezenas de vezes na bombástica delação da Odebrecht. Em uma delas, o ex-executivo da empreiteira Cláudio Melo Filho afirma que tratou com Moreira sobre negócios da Odebrecht na área de aeroportos.

Ministro Gilmar Mendes, que concedeu liminar contra nomeação Lula para Casa Civil em 2016.

Foto: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

As liminares que suspendem a nomeação de Moreira registram a decisão do ministro Gilmar Mendes, do STF, que impediu a nomeação do ex-presidente Lula para a Casa Civil, em 2016. Gilmar entendeu que houve atuação conjunta da então presidente Dilma Rousseff e Lula com o objetivo de “fraudar” as investigações sobre o ex-presidente na Lava-Jato. Naquela época, a polêmica começou com decisão do juiz da 4º Vara Federal do DF Itagiba Catta Preta. A liminar deferia por ele dizia que “a posse e o exercício [de Lula] no cargo poderia ensejar intervenção, indevida e odiosa, na atividade policial, do Ministério Público e mesmo no exercício do Poder Judiciário”.

Catta Preta é um juiz que não esconde suas posições. Soube-se posteriormente, que ele esteve em protestos favoráveis ao impeachment de Dilma e que é eleitor de Aécio Neves (PSDB/MG) para presidente. Ao ser questionado pela imprensa, o magistrado disse que sua posição política não atrapalharia em sua decisão contra Lula.

Trechos da liminar deferida por Catta Preta afirmavam que, com a posse, Lula ganharia o deslocamento de competência de julgamento da Justiça Federal, em Curitiba, para o Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF). “Seria o único ou principal móvel da atuação da mandatária [Dilma] para modificar a competência, constitucionalmente atribuída, de órgãos do Poder Judiciário” apontou o juiz, sugerindo que os petistas estavam envolvidos numa trama para retardar ação da Lava Jato.

“Naquela época [no caso de Lula], havia mais fundamentação nos pedidos do que há agora.”Liminar é uma decisão de caráter provisório que busca proteger os direitos das partes envolvidas até que a causa judicial seja finalmente resolvida. Para a sua concessão, é necessário que estejam evidenciadas claramente algumas circunstâncias: 1) fumus boni iuris – fumaça do bom direito, quando há indícios de que o direito pedido de fato existe; 2) periculum in mora – perigo da demora. Ou seja, deve estar claro que a demora na decisão poderá originar danos muitas vezes irreparáveis.

“Há elementar diferença entre os casos de Moreira Franco e do ex-presidente Lula”, diz o advogado de Direito Civil Bruno Almeida: “naquela época [no caso de Lula], havia mais fundamentação nos pedidos do que há agora”, esclarece. Almeida relembra que as gravações entre o ex-presidente e Dilma foram entendidas como tentativa de obstrução de justiça: “O áudio divulgado [pelo juiz Sérgio Moro] agravou a crise política, já que sugeria interesse em barrar a Lava Jato”.

O advogado João Batista, especialista em processo civil, explica que um juiz pode decidir um caso de acordo com a analogia com outro caso semelhante, os costumes e os princípios gerais do direito. “Seja em caráter liminar ou não, a decisão do juiz pode seguir o princípio do livre convencimento. Ele decide pelo que entende das provas disponíveis para seu convencimento”. diz.

Gilmar Mendes faz escola

As liminares proferidas pelos três juízes federais nos últimos dias seguem o entendimento do ministro de Gilmar Mendes no caso de Lula. Eduardo Rocha Penteado, juiz do DF, argumentou em sua decisão que “não há razão para decidir de modo diverso no caso concreto”, lembrando que Moreira “foi mencionado, com conteúdo comprometedor”, na delação da Odebrecht.

A liminar faz referência a Gilmar, que apontou suspeita de desvio de finalidade no ato da ex-presidente Dilma Rousseff. “O princípio republicano (CF art. 1º) estabelece os próprios contornos da governabilidade presidencial e, ao fazê-lo, não convive, por menor que seja o espaço de tempo (periculum in mora), com o apoderamento de instituições públicas para finalidades que se chocam com o padrão objetivo de moralidade socialmente esperado dos governantes”, diz trecho da liminar proferida pelo magistrado do DF.

Não se sabe se hoje o ministro Gilmar Mendes teria o mesmo entendimento para os dois casos.

Perdão, presidente

Aluna de Michel Temer, a juíza do Rio Regina Coeli Formisano fez uma homenagem ao professor. Em trecho da liminar que acabara de deferir, amarrou: “peço, humildemente perdão ao presidente Temer pela insurgência, mas por pura lealdade às suas lições de Direito Constitucional. Perdoe-me por ser fiel aos seus ensinamentos ainda gravados na minha memória, mas também nos livros que editou e nos quais estudei. Não só aprendi com elas, mas, também acreditei nelas e essa é a verdadeira forma de aprendizado”.

Ela concordou que a nomeação de Moreira Franco afronta os princípios da legalidade e da moralidade administrativa.

Para evitar uma chuva de liminares suspendendo a nomeação de Moreira Franco a cada hora, Celso de Mello pediu esclarecimentos sobre a indicação dele em até 24 horas. Além das liminares, Rede e Psol também pediram ao STF a anulação da nomeação do ministro. Caso Celso de Mello opte por seguir o entendimento de Gilmar Mendes, poderá acarretar em mais um dano em um governo que está com sua imagem para lá de arranhada.

E assim, o STF é chamado, mais uma vez, a colocar ordem na casa.

The post Guerra de liminares causada por Moreira Franco obriga STF a colocar ordem na casa appeared first on The Intercept.

Sen. Joni Ernst Puts Planned Parenthood — and Access to Birth Control — on the Chopping Block

10 February 2017 - 10:28am

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst celebrated the annual March for Life in Washington the way many do: by decrying Planned Parenthood and declaring that the nearly 101-year-old provider of women’s reproductive health care should be stripped of any federal funding.

Along with Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black, Ernst has become the new face of the defunding movement — a mantle typically held by those among Congress’s white male contingent, including Vice President Mike Pence.

Despite that change, the message remains the same: Because some Planned Parenthood clinics provide abortion care, none should be allowed to use federal funds to provide unrelated health services to women, despite the fact that no federal funding (except in rare circumstances) pays for abortion.

“We as a pro-life community honor the civil liberties, independence, and strength of a woman — all women,” Ernst told the crowd on the National Mall. “And that means both supporting mothers and rising up to protect the most vulnerable in our society — the innocent babies who are unable to defend themselves.”

But advocates for women’s reproductive health warn that should the defunding proceed, the intertwined networks of providers that offer women’s health services could be seriously damaged — leaving thousands of women without access to birth control and other preventive care.

 

March for Life participants gather around the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 27, 2017.

Photo: Astrid Riecken for the Boston Globe/Getty Images

At the march in late January, Ernst promised to file a measure that would forbid any funds from going to Planned Parenthood; she has vowed that nothing about the bill — the Protect Funding for Women’s Health Care Act — would reduce overall federal funding available to support women’s health.

In practice, the measure means not only blocking Planned Parenthood from reimbursements for services provided to Medicaid patients, but also denying Title X grants to the group’s clinics. While Medicaid reimbursements represent a larger share of the federal funds at issue — Planned Parenthood receives roughly $390 million per year to cover the costs of providing care to some of the nation’s poorest women — withholding Title X grants could deal a far more immediate and lasting blow, not only to clients, but to the program itself.

Title X, passed with strong bipartisan support and signed into law in 1970 by President Richard Nixon, is the only pot of federal funding dedicated to providing family-planning care — which includes counseling, access to birth control, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and cancer screenings.

A Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin, Texas, provides health care information for women, Feb. 6, 2017.

Photo: Ilana Panich-Linsman for The Intercept

While there are more than 20 million women in need of publicly funded contraceptive and family-planning care in the United States, the Title X allocation has never covered all of them. In 2015, the program was funded with roughly $287 million and served 4 million individuals.

Title X funds are apportioned among nine regions of the country and are directly granted to state and local health departments or nonprofit family-planning groups that disburse the money across a network of ground-level providers who in turn operate any number of individual clinic sites. As a result, grantees in each state have the flexibility to create a specific network of providers that works as a cohesive system to serve as many patients as possible.

Although Ernst and others have asserted that federally qualified community health centers would be able to pick up the slack if Planned Parenthood is eliminated from Title X, experience on the ground suggests otherwise. In states like Vermont, for example, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of Title X services — in 2014, the state’s 10 funded clinics saw nearly 8,000 women, all of whom would lose access should the defunding take place.

Moreover, community health centers are tasked with providing a panoply of services and are often at capacity. “They have a huge workload — ranging from newborns to old people — and they don’t have the capacity to absorb a huge hit to another part of the health care safety net,” Sara Rosenbaum, founding chair of the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, told The Intercept.

That would likely be the case in Ernst’s home state of Iowa. Jodi Tomlonovic is the executive director of the Family Planning Council of Iowa, one of two grantees that distribute Title X funds. Her network of seven provider groups includes Planned Parenthood as well as primary care providers and county health departments. Her annual allocation is $2.5 million, and in 2015, that money served 30,000 clients — only a percentage of those in need.

Because of funding issues — federal money for Title X has been in decline — the FPCI recently lost two providers. “We’ve had whole agencies shut down and we’ve had satellite clinics close down. And trying to replace them in the network is very difficult, especially in rural states,” Tomlonovic said. “Saying, ‘Oh, well, we can make you give up these providers, and those clients can just be absorbed by other providers’ — that’s not always true. A lot of our federally qualified health centers are filled to capacity and overflowing” — a circumstance likely to be exacerbated if the Affordable Care Act is dismantled.

It’s not only in rural states where need outpaces funding and Planned Parenthood plays an integral role in the quest to serve as many people as possible.

The Arizona Family Health Partnership has been the Title X grantee since 1983 in Arizona and a portion of southern Utah that is part of the Navajo Nation. The AFHP’s $5 million allocation covers care for roughly 35,000 clients per year — out of more than 800,000 in need of services. Planned Parenthood clinics are major providers in Arizona’s urban areas, and severing them from the network would deal an immediate blow to the AFHP’s mission.

“Finding somebody else to provide those services, while it could be done, it’s also labor intensive, and in that process we’re not sure who could pick up all of those clients,” said Brenda Thomas, CEO of the AFHP. “The community health centers have great care, but their focus is primary care and not reproductive health care.” They’re also at capacity “and don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to be able to take over all of the care that is provided at our Planned Parenthoods.”

And that’s problematic, providers say, because reproductive care is often time-sensitive. “Delaying care around reproductive health oftentimes can lead to an unintended pregnancy” or a sexually transmitted infection, like chlamydia, which can cause infertility, “so that person wouldn’t be able to have a child when they are able and ready to do so,” said Thomas.

Federal funding for family planning significantly reduces government costs — including those associated with Medicaid-paid births and negative health outcomes, such as undiagnosed cancers or sexually transmitted infections. In 2014, Title X prevented more than 900,000 unintended pregnancies that would have resulted in 439,000 unplanned births and 326,000 abortions. In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, Title X providers prevented 87,000 preterm or low birth-weight births, 63,000 sexually transmitted infections, and 2,000 cases of cervical cancer. In all, every dollar invested in Title X returns more than $7 in savings — an estimated $7 billion in total savings in 2010 alone.

Although Planned Parenthood clinics accounted for just 10 percent of those funded by Title X in 2010, they served 36 percent of program clients.

“It is deeply troubling that at a time when more women are in need of publicly funded care in this country, we’re bracing for attacks on the very provider network that is charged with delivering the high-quality family-planning services that communities count on,” Audrey Sandusky, director of advocacy and communications for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, wrote in an email to The Intercept.

Traffic moves along Interstate 65 past an HIV awareness billboard in May 2015.

Photo: Christopher Fryer/News and Tribune/AP

Unfortunately, there are already examples of how health outcomes can go sideways when Title X money is hijacked for political purposes and Planned Parenthood is defunded.

When Indiana effectively closed down several Planned Parenthood clinics, including in Scott County, where the facility did not provide abortion care, the state saw an HIV outbreak.

Perhaps the most potent example comes from Texas, where lawmakers in 2011 slashed two-thirds of the state’s budget for family planning, leaving only $19 million in Title X funding left to serve more than 200,000 clients per year (out of more than 1 million in need of services). The state also reworked its matrix for how to use the remaining funds such that it effectively shut out Planned Parenthood clinics.

But the damage was in no way contained to its intended target. In the wake of the 2011 defunding, a number of other clinics shuttered operations as well, and venerable providers — like Parkland Hospital in Dallas, which prior to the cuts served some 38,000 family-planning patients per year — also saw their budgets drastically slashed. Seventy-six facilities across the state closed because of the cuts and another 55 providers were forced to reduce hours of operation. None of the clinics that closed were abortion providers. In all, the program went from serving nearly 203,000 clients in 2011 to about 47,000 in 2013 — a dramatic 77 percent decrease in services.

The cuts also led to a rise in abortions in some areas of the state. In Gregg County in East Texas, the federally qualified community health center lost more than 60 percent of its family-planning funding. In 2012, there were just 59 abortions in the county; in 2014, there were 191.

Equally disturbing, the maternal mortality rate skyrocketed following the defunding — doubling from 2011 to 2014. Texas now has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. Though the fault can’t all be placed at the feet of those who worked to withhold family-planning services from women, those decisions have almost certainly played a role.

“I think the perspective from Texas is what we need to talk about,” said Thomas. “I think it’s really important because that’s what happens when you try to defund a section of the network as well as impose political beliefs on the reproductive health care that women deserve.”

Top photo: A Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 6, 2017.

The post Sen. Joni Ernst Puts Planned Parenthood — and Access to Birth Control — on the Chopping Block appeared first on The Intercept.

O que Slobodan Milosevic me ensinou sobre Donald Trump

10 February 2017 - 8:00am

Durante seu discurso de posse, Donald Trump usou de uma retórica familiar a quem esteve nos Bálcãs durante os anos 90. “Vocês nunca serão esquecidos novamente”, esbravejou Trump, com o Congresso Nacional dos EUA ao fundo. O presidente dos EUA entrou em mais detalhes alguns dias depois, durante visita ao Departamento de Segurança Interna, onde disse: “A todos aqueles sofrendo, eu repito as seguintes palavras, nós os vemos, nós os ouvimos e vocês nunca, nunca serão ignorados novamente”.

A mensagem de Trump foi uma variação, direcionada em grande parte a seus eleitores brancos, da retórica do tipo vocês-não-serão-castigados-novamente de Slobodan Miloševic que teve consequências terríveis durante a queda da Iugoslávia. Trump não é Miloševic, e os Estados Unidos não são a Iugoslávia, naturalmente, mas os paralelos entre esses paradigmas de falta de vergonha nacional revelam os métodos e a fragilidade subjacentes às manobras de Trump.

Em 1987, Miloševic foi enviado para o Kosovo para acalmar sérvios nervosos, que se sentiam ameaçados pelo domínio dos albaneses sobre a província. Ainda um oficial comunista de baixo escalão à época, Miloševic visitou um gabinete municipal e se dirigiu a uma multidão de sérvios insatisfeitos que se reuniam do lado de fora. Durante o discurso, Miloševic não estava seguro quando se dirigiu a eles, mas tudo mudou quando usou um tom nacionalista que nunca havia sido ouvida antes: “Ninguém poderá castigar os sérvios novamente, ninguém”, exclamou.

A multidão começou a gritar seu nome. Ainda que tenha permanecido frio (o líder não tinha praticamente nenhum carisma), o momento foi decisivo para perceber a utilidade política de explorar os ressentimentos de sérvios que se sentiam menosprezados por outros grupos na Iugoslávia. Isso era um tabu, e ele o quebrou. Quando Miloševic retornou a Belgrado, adotou a bandeira do nacionalismo sérvio e dispensou seu nada energético mentor, Ivan Stambolic. Ele provocou a separação de outras repúblicas que faziam parte da Iugoslávia, o que causou anos de guerra e diversos crimes de guerra.

Miloševic criava sua própria realidade. Eu nunca entrevistei Donald Trump, mas tenho memórias inesquecíveis de como é se sentar em uma sala com um líder gaslighter e questioná-lo. Fui dos poucos jornalistas americanos que conversaram com Miloševic antes que ele fosse destituído e extraditado para ser julgado por seus crimes de guerra em Haia, onde morreu de ataque cardíaco em 2006.

Slobodan Miloševic é recebido por apoiadores em frente à sua casa em Belgrado, durante uma reunião do Partido Socialista da Sérvia, em 2001.

Photo: Couple/Globalphoto.com/Liaison via Getty Images

Minha visita ao líder aconteceu em um dia ensolarado de primavera enquanto o poder de Miloševic ainda florescia. Seu gabinete era no centro de Belgrado, em um antigo palácio que havia sido talhado com um toque sombrio de arquitetura austro-húngara. Guardas à paisana me pediram para passar por um detector de metais que apitava alto, levando um dos guardas a perguntar com um sorriso no rosto, “Alguma arma?”. Ele me deixou passar. Uma mulher então me conduziu através de saguões vazios a uma sala de espera. “Sente-se aqui”, disse.

Ela retornou em um minuto e abriu uma porta dupla que dava para um escritório com uma longa fileira de janelas permitia que a luz do sol entrasse. O escritório estava vazio, exceto por Slobodan Miloševic, que estava de pé, próximo às janelas. Suas primeiras palavras foram: “por que escreve mentiras a respeito do meu país?” Agora, me dei conta de que essas palavras poderiam facilmente vir da boca de Trump ou de sua conta no Twitter, quando ele fala de veículos de mídia de que não gosta, ou seja, a maioria deles.

Miloševic não teve vergonha de mentir sobre as mais óbvias verdades. “Somos acusados de uma política nacionalista, mas não acho que nossa política seja nacionalista”, disse. “Se não temos uma igualdade nacional e uma igualdade entre as pessoas em geral, não podemos ser, como se diz, um país próspero e civilizado no futuro”. Enquanto conversávamos, as forças militares  organizadas por ele continuavam a assolar a Bósnia, cercando Sarajevo e outras grandes cidades no melhor estilo medieval.

Passamos uma hora e meia juntos, sem mais ninguém na sala. Apesar de não ter a petulância de Trump — Miloševic falava baixo e de forma controlada, com ocasionais momentos de raiva, de caráter mais tático que impulsivo —, era mestre dos fatos alternativos, mesmo estando cara a cara com alguém que sabia que eram mentiras, já que eu havia escrito sobre os crimes cometidos por seu exército na Bósnia. Algum tempo depois, quando escrevi um livro sobre tudo isso, descrevi a relação de Miloševic com a verdade de uma forma que, agora percebo, também se aplica a Trump.

Seria mais fácil acertar um soco em um holograma. Miloševic vivia em outra dimensão, em um crepúsculo de mentiras, e eu fuçava na dimensão dos fatos. Ele tinha passado toda sua vida no mundo do comunismo e tinha se tornado um mestre, um verdadeiro mestre da fabricação de fatos. Evidentemente, meus socos verbais o atravessavam sem atingi-lo. Era como se eu apontasse para uma parede preta e perguntasse a Miloševic qual era a cor dela. “Branca”, ele responde. “Não”, eu respondo, “olha para ela, aquela parede ali, ela é preta, está a dois metros da gente”. Ele olha para a parede, vira para mim e diz: “a parede é branca, meu caro, você precisa fazer um exame de vista”. Ele não grita com raiva. Parece preocupado com minha visão. Eu sabia que a parede era preta. Eu podia ver a parede. Eu tinha tocado na parede. Tinha assistido aos pintores usando a tinta preta.

Presidente Donald Trump levanta o punho após seu discurso de posse no Capitólio dos EUA. Washington, 20 de janeiro de 2017.

Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Comparações de líderes políticos é um exercício de utilidade limitada porque líderes nunca são exatamente iguais — o que me traz à mente uma frase de Tolstói sobre famílias infelizes: cada uma é infeliz de uma maneira. Miloševic era sagaz, disciplinado e não era narcisista como Trump. Não participava de muitos encontros públicos, seu rosto não estava espalhado pela mídia sérvia e passava a maioria das noites com sua esposa, uma professora linha-dura chamada Mira Markovic, também sua principal confidente. E não importa o que faça Trump, não acredito que os EUA estejam a caminho do tipo de violência a que Miloševic levou a Iugoslávia.

O modo bufão de Trump estava presente, entretanto, em outro protagonista da carnificina nos Bálcãs — Radovan Karadžic, o líder sérvio que começou como marionete de Miloševic. As fábulas de Karadžic eram ainda mais ousadas que as de seu parceiro sérvio, talvez porque, assim como Trump, ele adorava os holofotes e falava muito. Karadžic era notívago e, uma noite, compareceu a uma coletiva de imprensa que foi iniciada após a meia-noite no quartel general de sua pequena cidade, próxima a Sarajevo. Os muçulmanos estavam se bombardeando, disse Karadžic. A mídia inventou as histórias de sérvios maltratando prisioneiros. Não havia limpeza étnica — os muçulmanos deixaram suas casas voluntariamente.

A performance de Karadžic era trumpiniana em seu audacioso faz de conta e passa uma lição útil para os dias de hoje. Tiranos não se importam se você acredita neles, querem apenas que você se sujeite à dúvida. “Suas ideias eram tão grotescas”, escrevi a respeito de Karadžic algum tempo depois, “sua versão da realidade era tão distorcida que eu estava prestes a concluir que ele estava drogado, ou quem sabe eu. Eu conhecia bem a Bósnia e sabia que Karadžic dizia mentiras, e que essas mentiras estavam sendo transmitidas diariamente em todo mundo, diversas vezes por dia, e estavam sendo levadas a sério. Não estou dizendo que as mentiras eram encaradas como verdade, mas suspeitava que estivessem obscurecendo a verdade, fazendo com que observadores externos ficassem por fora, o que representava uma grande vitória para Karadžic. Não era necessário que os observadores externos acreditassem em suas versões dos acontecimentos, bastava que duvidassem da verdade e permanecessem inertes.

No entanto, a terrível experiência nos Bálcãs oferece um pouco de esperança: Miloševic foi deposto. Seu mundo de realidade paralela levou a um desastre que gerou níveis de inflação equivalentes aos da República de Weimar, o que desgastou o apoio popular a seu regime. Em uma das vezes em que me hospedei no Hotel Hyatt de Belgrado, cada noite custava mais de quatro milhões de dinars, sem taxas. O momento mais importante de sua deposição ocorreu quando trabalhadores da cidade operária de Cacak invadiram Belgrado com uma escavadeira ao perceber que seu herói os havia enganado.

Não foi a inércia que derrubou Miloševic, nem progressistas e alunos que fizeram oposição desde o primeiro dia de seu governo. Democratas bem comportados tiveram um papel fundamental, preparando o terreno para a queda de Miloševic, no entanto, foram seus principais eleitores, a classe trabalhadora e os serviços de segurança que deram o golpe final. O papel de Brutus foi assumido por infiltrados que se cansaram da demagogia malsucedida. É apenas o começo da era Trump, mas se o destino de Miloševic funcionar como guia tanto quanto sua retórica, Trump será derrotado quando a resistência se aprofundar e os eleitores e partido que o elegeram virarem-se contra ele.

Foto principal: Slobodan Miloševi? em transmissão de discurso. 1999.

The post O que Slobodan Milosevic me ensinou sobre Donald Trump appeared first on The Intercept.

Alexandre de Moraes: um indicado à altura do momento de destruição de direitos e proteção à corrupção

10 February 2017 - 5:00am

A destruição de direitos e a proteção à corrupção (de alguns) são as duas faces do processo que levou Michel Temer ao Planalto e Alexandre de Moraes ao Supremo Tribunal Federal. Serão, também, as prováveis marcas de sua atuação como ministro da Corte.

Se é possível prever que a indicação de Moraes ao STF será objeto de grande contestação no meio jurídico e na opinião pública, não se pode deixar de reconhecer que ela é representativa do momento vivido pelo país, sem o qual ele, Moraes, seria não mais que aspirante a um “João Doria” dos Bandeirantes – um “poste” do PSDB na busca a manutenção da hegemonia no estado de São Paulo. Momento que tem como faces a destruição de direitos e a proteção à corrupção de alguns.

Uma missão certeira de Moraes à frente do STF será dar retaguarda ao espectro de restrição de direitos, que rondava o país já no governo Dilma Rousseff, mas se instaurou definitivamente com a posse de Michel Temer.

Diferente de Itamar Franco, que buscou atrair forças progressistas para o governo e centrou fogo na gestão econômica, Temer compôs um governo de oligarcas e abriu espaço para ressentidos de toda ordem em relação às poucas, mas significativas conquistas sociais dos governos petistas.

Uma missão certeira de Moraes à frente do STF será dar retaguarda ao espectro de restrição de direitos. Na Fazenda, montou um time que, a pretexto de que controlar a dívida e criar meios para a retomada do crescimento econômico, condenou o país a duas décadas de paralisia nos investimentos públicos, com fortes impactos em políticas como de educação e saúde; e que continuará sua saga com a reforma da previdência e a já anunciada reforma trabalhista.

Na Saúde e na Educação, alocou amigos do empresariado que atuam para desmontar os serviços públicos e afrouxar a regulação para os serviços privados.

No Desenvolvimento Social, alocou forças que se orgulham de cortar – ao invés de ampliar – beneficiários de políticas bem-sucedidas, como o Bolsa Família, entre um ou outro pitaco moralista em relação às drogas.

Nas Telecomunicações, presenteou as companhias com valores estimados em R$ 100 bilhões sem criar nenhum meio para assegurar que esses valores vão, de fato, se traduzir em investimento na expansão da banda larga. Ao contrário, o Ministério das Comunicações e a Anatel estudam estabelecer franquias de dados até mesmo para a banda larga fixa.

Incapaz de confrontar essa agenda no congresso ou de contar com as “ruas” que, em 2013, juravam querer serviços “padrão Fifa”, a oposição, mais cedo ou mais tarde, terá de recorrer aos tribunais, em geral, e ao STF, em especial. É difícil que saia daí como grande vencedora, mas alguns ganhos podem ser vislumbrados em áreas como a liberação da maconha e a própria reforma na legislação de telecomunicações, já recém obstada pelo ministro Roberto Barroso. Com Moraes, o governo ganha um cão de guarda para fazer frente a esses possíveis obstáculos.

“Estancando a sangria” da Lava Jato

Também é provável, e cada vez mais evidente para a opinião pública, que Moraes vai para o STF com outra missão certeira: cumprir o “plano Machado” e “estancar a sangria” que, desde 2014, a Lava Jato vem causando no sistema político. Para isso, sua indicação apresenta dupla utilidade.

Em primeiro lugar, ela abre espaço para que Temer nomeie alguém mais habilidoso no Ministério da Justiça, órgão que chefia a Polícia Federal, mas também unidades importantes para a operação – como o Departamento de Recuperação de Ativos e Cooperação Jurídica Internacional, DRCI, responsável por estabelecer pontes com autoridades estrangeiras para a troca de informações e evidências sobre crimes como lavagem de dinheiro. Órgãos e unidades que Moraes já vinha buscando aparelhar, mas com a truculência que lhe era peculiar.

Réu em processo no STF, senador Renan Calheiros recebe indicado a ministro da Corte, Alexandre de Moraes.

Foto: Débora Brito/Agência Brasil

Em segundo lugar, ela desloca alguém do governo com passagem pelo PSDB e pelo DEM para a condição de revisor dos processos da Lava Jato no STF. O revisor tem posição crucial nesse tipo de julgamento, pois tem acesso privilegiado aos autos e pode abrir divergências em relação ao relator, criando bases argumentativas para recomposições do plenário. Quem tem a memória do julgamento do Mensalão do PT deve se lembrar dos embates entre Joaquim Barbosa (relator) e Ricardo Lewandowski (revisor), que, em muitos casos, chegaram a rachar a Corte, com Rosa Weber (assessorada, à época, por Moro) servindo de voto decisivo em relação a condenar ou não alguns réus.

Em reação genérica ao nome de Moraes, que já circulava nas redações de jornais e redes sociais como o indicado de Temer, o coordenador da força-tarefa da Lava Jato no Ministério Público Federal, Deltan Dallagnol, lembrou seus seguidores nas redes sociais que o novo ministro do Supremo poderia comprometer a operação. Dallagnol referiu-se à decisão apertada proferida pelo STF quanto à possibilidade de prisão após a condenação em segunda instância. Segundo ele, essa decisão era um incentivo às delações, e poderia ser revertida com a mudança na composição do Tribunal, já que Teori Zavascki dera um voto decisivo para compor a maioria que a proferiu.

Mas essa obsessão pelas delações só mostra a atitude “monocular” do procurador, para usar a expressão de alguns de seus colegas de carreira. Muito mais estratégico seria, por exemplo, que Moraes trabalhasse para alterar a posição do Tribunal na distinção entre “corrupção” e “caixa dois”, o que eventualmente pode beneficiar parte dos políticos do PSDB e do PMDB, reforçando, ademais, o foco da operação no PT. Se tivesse que apostar, diria que é por aí que ele vai.

Plenário do STF, que é composto por “onze ilhas”, segundo analistas.

Foto: Fellipe Sampaio/SCO/STF

Um ministro “político”

Por fim, Moraes poderá cumprir um papel inusitado, mas de extrema utilidade para os interesses que representa – uma reconfiguração do STF no longo prazo.

Respeitáveis analistas do Tribunal costumam caracterizá-lo como fragmentado (“onze ilhas”) e suscetível a voluntarismos de ministros. Não estão errados, mas o fato é que essa condição, embora facilitada pelo desenho do STF na Constituição, também é resultado do perfil de indicações nos governos petistas, Dilma Rousseff em especial: “juristas”, como Fachin e Barroso, ou egressos de carreiras jurídicas, como Teori e Rosa Weber. São figuras que entendem, mas engajam muito seletivamente na linguagem da política.

Moraes tem outra procedência. É um ministro que não tem como esconder seu tino político, como Gilmar Mendes, Dias Toffoli ou o próprio Fux, que votou contra o direito de greve de servidores públicos alegando abertamente a preocupação com a ordem social, já que o país passaria por período de reformas e ajustes econômicos.

Virou mania no Brasil a preocupação com ministros “políticos” sob a hipótese de que eles fariam a defesa de posições partidárias, ao invés de decidirem com base na lei. E é possível encontrar algo disso nas biografias acima, embora em alguns casos a orientação partidária vá em direção radicalmente oposta à da origem de sua indicação.

Mas a ampliação da carga política do Tribunal pode cumprir outros propósitos para os quais nem mesmo os bons analistas parecem estar de olho. Um deles é a formação de posições mais agregadas entre os julgadores, que sairiam de “onze ilhas” para formar um “arquipélago”, capaz de produzir maiorias, ao menos nos casos mais relevantes para a preservação (ou a destruição) da governabilidade (muitos dos quais, não por coincidência, acima referidos).

Descrevendo a democracia americana, Tocqueville disse que os advogados (e juízes, em particular), eram a “aristocracia na República”. Porque aplicam a lei, eles dão efetividade aos interesses majoritários. Mas por sua posição social, eles podem barrar os impulsos majoritários sempre que estes puserem em xeque os interesses das elites. Na alusão ao Brasil de 2016 e na formulação bem mais direta de Sergio Machado, poderíamos dizer que são os únicos capazes de assegurar “um grande acordo, com Supremo, com tudo”.

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CEOs of Delta, United and American Hope Trump Will Block Arab Competition

9 February 2017 - 6:14pm

Just before U.S. airline industry CEOs met at the White House with Donald Trump on Thursday, the big three carriers — Delta, United and American — released a video featuring some of Trump’s populist rhetoric about “trade cheats” and directing viewers to a website for a lobbying campaign to “protect American jobs.”

But the campaign, called the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, is in reality a cutthroat bid to block certain Arab airlines from U.S. airports — a decision analysts say would limit the choices for consumers while increasing market consolidation for the big three.

This comes after a similar request for protection during the Obama administration — which sought to prevent foreign competitors from offering lower prices — was largely rebuffed.

But now that there’s a president who has promised to crack down on foreigners, the airlines are at it again, hoping to harness “America First” rhetoric for profiteering protectionism.

The day after Trump won the election, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies campaign issued a statement saying, “We look forward to briefing President-elect Donald Trump and his new administration on the massive, unfair subsidies that the UAE and Qatar give to their state-owned Gulf carriers.” Jill Zuckman, a managing director at SKDKnickerbocker, the public relations firm helping to orchestrate the partnership, did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept.

The big three U.S. airlines maintain that Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways — airlines backed by governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — are unfairly subsidized and that their expansion into the U.S. market represents unfair competition that should be blocked by regulators.

“The Gulf carriers have received over $50 billion in documented subsidies from their government owners since 2004,” the chief executives of the big three wrote in a recent letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Mr. Secretary,” the letter continues, “we are confident that the Trump Administration shares our view on the importance of enforcing our Open Skies agreements, ensuring that U.S. airlines have a fair and equal opportunity to compete in the international market, and protecting American jobs.”

But the Gulf carriers counter that they provide flights to the Middle East, Europe, and India that have been long ignored by U.S. airlines and that the charge of unfair subsidies is boldly hypocritical given the tens of billions dollars in subsidies granted to the airline industry by various U.S. government agencies for decades.

Travel industry writer Gary Leff scoffs at the lobbying campaign, arguing on his blog Boarding Area that the “U.S. airlines are highly subsidized, and subsidies do not in any way violate our treaties.” Leff has previously detailed the ways in which the U.S. airline industry receives far more government subsidies than their Middle East competitors. Leff notes, citing a 1999 Congressional Research Service study, that the U.S. government has provided subsidies to airlines worth over $150 billion to purchase commercial jets, to serve remote communities, in the form of state and federal fuel subsidies, in the tax code, and through military and postal flights, among other generous programs since 1918.

Qatar Airways in a 2015 filing, listed the subsidies that benefit the U.S. airlines. It noted that U.S. carriers have received upwards of $30 billion alone in cost savings from Chapter 11, using the bankruptcy system to restructure, offloading pension obligations and other liabilities to the taxpayer. The filing argues that Qatar’s services are vital and that their flights offer “one-stop travel options to cities and parts of the world that never have been served by U.S. carriers.”

Meanwhile, recent studies show that market consolidation has led to increased profits for the industry and higher prices for consumers.

But the blatant hypocrisy of the big three is eclipsed in Washington by a formidable lobbying apparatus.

United, Delta, and America, along with their trade group Airlines for America, spent over $20 million on federal lobbying last year. Lobbyists on retainer include former senators John Breaux and Trent Lott. SKDKnickerbocker, the firm managing the campaign, is run by senior Democratic operatives including Anita Dunn, Obama’s former White House communications director. The airlines have also enlisted their respective unions, with the powerful Airline Pilots Association working to advance the campaign to block the Gulf carriers.

They have also used nativism to push the campaign.

In 2015, at outset of the campaign to pressure the Obama administration to squeeze out foreign competition, CNN’s Richard Quest asked Delta Airlines Chief Executive Richard Anderson about Gulf carriers’ claims that the big three received favorable government treatment using bankruptcy protection.

“It’s a great irony to have the United Arab Emirates from the Arabian Peninsula talk about that given the fact that our industry was really shocked by the terrorism of 9/11 which came from terrorists from the Arabian Peninsula that caused us to go through a massive restructuring,” Anderson responded.

Invoking 9/11 to attack the Gulf carriers makes no sense beyond an appeal to bigotry. None of the 9/11 hijackers were from Qatar or the UAE — in fact 15 of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the home of state-subsidized airline Saudia, which is a Skyteam partner with Delta Airways. Saudia has not pushed to compete directly with the big three, and therefore has not been targeted by the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies.

During the meeting Thursday, according to pool reports, Trump discussed changes to the air-traffic-control system and upgrades to airports. The chief executives of United, Delta, Southwest, Alaska, and executives from airport operators were among the participants.

But the campaign to block Gulf carriers has gained new urgency.

In recent weeks, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies lashed out at Emirates for opening a flight between Athens and Newark, a route that United plans to operate as a seasonal flight from May 24 to early October. The Partnership claims that the route is a violation of U.S. treaty agreements, and is asking regulators to block the competitive route.

“We look forward to working with President Trump and his team to enforce these agreements and protect American jobs — something that the Obama administration failed to do,” Zuckman told The Street in January.

Top photo: A United plane starts its engines at National Airport in Washington in 2016.

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Trump não pode ser combatido até que o Partido Democrata seja curado

9 February 2017 - 12:51pm

Os mais preocupados com o governo de Trump devem ser os mais concentrados em como consertar as enfermidades sistêmicas e fundamentais do Partido Democrata dos EUA. O fato de Hillary Clinton ter vencido o insignificante voto popular na derrota para Donald Trump, aliado ao fato de Barack Obama ter se mantido popular por conta de seu carisma único, fez com que muitos ignorassem o quão falido e fracassado está o Partido Democrata como força política nacional.

Podem ser listadas inúmeras estatísticas surpreendentes para demonstrar a extensão desse colapso. Porém, talvez a mais convincente evidência seja o fato de um dos membros da mídia americana mais leais ao Partido Democrata, escrevendo para um veículo que opera como órgão de confiança do partido de forma tão fiel quanto o próprio Comitê Nacional do Partido Democrata, admitiu a dimensão de sua aniquilação. “A era Obama criou um Partido Democrata que é fundamentalmente uma pilha de escombros fumegante”, escreveu Matthew Yglesias do site Vox após o fracasso de 2016, acrescentando que “a história do Partido Democrata do século XXI parece ser predominantemente uma história de fracassos”.

Um partido fracassado e aniquilado não pode oferecer uma resistência eficaz. Não foi por conta de um grande aumento no apoio ao extremismo de direita que Trump se tornou presidente e o Partido Republicano domina praticamente todos os níveis do poder. Muito pelo contrário: isso aconteceu porque os democratas são encarados — com razão — como robôs com discurso preparado, artificiais e fora da realidade, que servem ao mercado financeiro de Wall Street, ao setor tecnológico do Vale do Silício e à agenda de guerras intermináveis liderados por millionários e financiados por oligarcas para fazer o mínimo possível por cidadãos comuns impotentes ao mesmo tempo que mantém seus votos.

O que alimentou o impressionantemente poderoso desafio de Bernie Sanders frente a Hillary Clinton foi a extrema hostilidade de grande parte dos democratas — por parte de seus eleitores mais jovens — aos valores, práticas e lealdade corporativa ao establishment do partido. Diferentemente da disputa nas primárias do Partido Democrata em 2008 — que foi muito mais sórdida e cruel, ainda que desprovida de qualquer conflito ideológico real —, as primárias de 2016 foram baseadas em uma disputa importante e substancial sobre o que é de fato o Partido Democrata, quais princípios devem guiá-lo e, principalmente, a quais interesses deve servir.

Por isso, essas disputas não se dissiparam com a posse de Trump, e é exatamente assim que deve ser. É muito importante, talvez o mais importante aspecto de todos, quem lidera a resistência a Trump e qual a natureza dessa oposição. Todo mundo conhece o clichê popular que diz que insanidade significa fazer a mesma coisa diversas vezes esperando um resultado diferente. Isso ilustra bem o motivo pelo qual os membros do Partido Democrata não podem continuar dessa forma e esperar algo que não seja impotência e fracassos constantes. A insistente recusa do partido em alterar sua direção, mesmo que de forma simbólica — elegemos assim por aclamação Chuck “Wall-Street” Schumer e reinstauramos Nancy “Sou-multimilionária-e-Somos-Capitalistas” Pelosi — não colabora com o futuro do partido.

Tradução: Herói de Wall Street colhe benefícios

Em suma, exigir repetidamente que alguém se prive de criticar o Partido Democrata para poder atacar exclusivamente Donald Trump é como exigir que alguém critique o câncer de forma simplista, ignorando quem é o médico responsável pelo tratamento ou que tipo de pesquisa está sendo realizada para a sua cura. Trump foi eleito por conta do fracasso dos democratas. E fenômenos como ele (ou ainda piores) continuarão a acontecer até que isso seja resolvido.

 

A clara insistência dos líderes do establishment democrata em seguir esse mesmo caminho sombrio e fracassado explica por que a corrida pela presidência do Comitê Nacional do partido está tão disputada. Na realidade, o cargo é majoritariamente operacional — focado principalmente na captação de recursos e organização do aparato partidário em nível de Estado —, mas seu ocupante funciona como uma figura pública importante do partido.

Nos últimos cinco anos, a principal figura pública do Comitê foi alguém que personifica perfeitamente tudo o que há de mais terrível no partido: o abutre centrista, corporativista, corrupto de quinta, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, que — devido às publicações dos e-mails do Comitê pela WikiLeaks — teve de pedir demissão, desmoralizada após ser apanhada trapaceando na tentativa de garantir a nomeação de Hillary Clinton como candidata do partido.

Mas tal desmoralização não durou: após pedir demissão, foi rapidamente recompensada pela corrupção sendo nomeada para uma posição do alto escalão da candidatura de Clinton, além de receber o apoio do establishment do partido em Washington, liderados pelo ex-vice-presidente Joe Biden e pela própria Clinton, para enfrentar o candidato de Bernie Sanders para sua vaga no Congresso Nacional dos EUA. Como resultado do apoio do establishment do partido (assim como doações corporativas e do setor financeiro gigantescas), a candidata derrotou o adversário, Tim Canova, e a nação pode comemorar seu retorno ao Congresso Nacional dos EUA pela sétima vez.

Tradução: Biden assume o bastão na luta pela presidência do Comitê Nacional do Partido Democrata

Wasserman Schultz foi substituída na vaga de presidente do comitê interinamente pela antiga funcionária do partido Donna Brazile, que logo teve um escândalo para chamar de seu ao ser apanhada passando perguntas do debate da CNN para a campanha de Clinton e, em seguida, mentindo inúmeras vezes ao negar o ocorrido e insinuar que os e-mails foram forjados pelos russos. Por essa conduta, a CNN a demitiu, e o âncora do canal Jake Tapper qualificou a trapaça como “terrível” e o próprio canal disse estar “completamente desconfortável” com o ocorrido.

Mas Brazile continua no cargo até hoje. Pense nisso: o comportamento de Brazile foi tão antiético, desonesto e corrupto que até mesmo a CNN de Jeff Zucker teve de denunciá-la e se distanciar dela publicamente. Mas o Comitê Nacional do partido parece estar perfeitamente confortável que ela continue a liderar o partido até que o próximo presidente seja escolhido.

Talvez ainda mais grave do que as trapaças em série seja o fato de tudo isso ter sido feito para coroar uma candidata que — como muitos de nós tentamos alerta à época — todos os dados empíricos demonstravam ser mais vulnerável na corrida contra Donald Trump. Portanto, exatamente as mesmas pessoas responsáveis pela vitória de Trump — trapaceando para fazer vencer o candidato democrata mais suscetível a perder — continuam a dominar o Partido Democrata. Descrever a situação é demonstrar a urgência do debate, em vez de ignorá-lo em nome de falar exclusivamente de Trump.

 

No começo da disputa pela presidência do Comitê, Keith Ellison — o primeiro muçulmano da história a ser eleito para o Congresso dos EUA e, evidentemente, um apoiador de Bernie Sanders parte da ala esquerda do partido — surgiu como claro favorito. O candidato foi endossado não apenas por progressistas como Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren e Jesse Jackson, mas também por figuras tradicionais do partido, como Walter Mondale, John Lewis e o próprio Schumer, que parece reconhecer que arremessar algumas migalhas simbólicas para a ala de Sanders do partido é uma estratégia inteligente frente a amargura constante que muitos parecem acumular quanto ao comportamento do Comitê e às políticas neoliberais da ala centrista do partido.

Photo: AP

Mas o establishment do partido entrou em pânico. Tudo começou quando o bilionário americano de origem israelense Haim Saban — o maior financiador individual do Partido Democrata e da campanha de Clinton — atacou Ellison por ser “um indivíduo antisemita e anti-Israel” e disse que sua eleição “seria um desastre para o relacionamento entre a comunidade judaica e o Partido Democrata”. Na cabeça dos articuladores de Washington, não se pode ter alguém como presidente do Comitê que seja antipático a financiadores bilionários. Esse é o Partido Democrata.

A guerra contra Ellison estava declarada: membros do partido começaram a vazar para a mídia comentários controversos dos tempos de escola sobre Louis Farrakhan e Israel. O New York Times começou a publicar reportagens com manchetes como “Grupos judeus e sindicatos apreensivos com Keith Ellison” — uma manchete estranha já que Ellison foi endossado por diversos sindicatos, incluindo a AFL-CIO (Federação de Organizações Trabalhistas), o Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos dos EUA, o sindicato UNITE HERE e a organização International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Irmandade Internacional dos Eletricistas), entre outros. Foram publicadas até mesmo multas de estacionamento pendentes dos anos 90, graças a alguns articulistas sujos do partido.

O ataque à candidatura de Ellison foi formalizado quando a Casa Branca de Obama contratou e prometeu apoiar um de seus mais leais parceiros, o secretário do trabalho Tom Perez. Assim como fez ao endossar Wasserman Schultz, Biden oficializou o apoio do establishment a Perez em anúncio público na semana passada.

Tradução: Biden endossa Perez na corrida pela presidência do Comitê Nacional do Partido Democrata

Perez é um progressista manso e uma figura de confiança do partido: antes da votação das primárias, ele apoiava Clinton em detrimento de Sanders e se tornou um de seus substitutos de maior destaque. Apesar de alegar ser fiel aos trabalhadores americanos, era apoiador da Parceria Transpacífica (TPP), mesmo após Clinton ser forçada fingir oposição a parceria.

Não é difícil entender por que os círculos de Obama e Clinton têm preferência por ele, em lugar de Ellison. Grandes doadores o aceitam melhor. Ele demonstrou lealdade à agenda do establishment do partido. É membro de confiança do partido. E, acima de tudo, não mudará nada importante: garantindo que as mesmas políticas, retórica e facções que sempre prevalecerem continuem imutáveis. Ao mesmo tempo em que protege a base de poder dos mesmos indivíduos que destruíram o partido.

 

Dois incidentes recentes destacam com clareza por que Tom Perez personifica perfeitamente o status quo do Partido Democrata. O primeiro ocorreu há duas semanas, quando meu colega Zaid Jilani compareceu a um evento em que Perez era palestrante. Jilani perguntou ao democrata inúmeras vezes a respeito dos abusos de direitos humanos de Israel — que foram noticiados naquela semana por conta das novas demolições de casas palestinas pelas Forças de Defesa de Israel (BDS) e porque Perez tinha sido perguntado a respeito de sua opinião sobre o boicote a Israel por conta de décadas de ocupação na Palestina.

Com o Partido Democrata sendo dominado por Saban e outros, observe como esse exemplo de coragem que pretende liderar o partido inteiro respondeu:

Tom Perez condemned BDS at the DNC Chair Debate so I asked him what he thought about Israeli home demolitions.. pic.twitter.com/8QI8FRVhHl

— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) January 21, 2017

Tradução: Tom Perez condena BDS no debate pela presidência do Comitê então perguntei o que achava das demolições em Israel

Um acontecimento ainda mais ilustrativo ocorreu na quarta-feira à noite. Perez estava em Kansas fazendo campanha para líderes locais e foi perguntado sobre a necessidade do partido reter o apoio da ala Sanders. Surpreendentemente, Perez descarregou uma verdade que membros do partido até hoje escondem e se negam a admitir, mesmo frente a uma enorme quantidade de evidências a comprovando: Perez disse o seguinte:

Ontem, ouvimos de forma alta e clara dos apoiadores de Bernie Sanders que o processo foi fraudulento, e foi mesmo. E temos que ser honestos quanto a isso. Por isso, precisamos de um presidente transparente.

Essa é uma admissão e tanto vinda do próprio candidato do establishment do partido: “o processo foi fraudulento”. E, de forma louvável, Perez reconheceu a importância da admissão — “honestos quanto a isso” — porque “precisamos de um presidente transparente”.

Mas o compromisso de Perez com a “transparência” e com ser “honesto” não durou muito. Após a previsível controvérsia causada pela admissão — com apoiadores de Clinton furiosos com a verdade —, Perez demonstrou o mesmo tipo de liderança que ficaram evidentes quando Zaid Jilani o perguntou sobre as violações de direitos humanos de Israel.

Ele rapidamente disparou uma série de tweets retirando o que havia dito, alegando ter se equivocado (usando o termo praticamente ininteligível no inglês “misspoke”, que significa falar de forma incorreta), se desculpando e declarando Hillary Clinton como a merecida vencedora:

I have been asked by friends about a quote and want to be clear about what I said and that I misspoke.

— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 9, 2017

Tradução: Amigos me perguntaram sobre uma declaração e quero esclarecer algo que disse [incorretamente]

As I've said repeatedly, we can't have a primary process where it is even perceived that a thumb was on the scale.

— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 9, 2017

Tradução: Como disse inúmeras vezes, não podemos ter primárias em que parece que havia um dedo na balança

Hillary became our nominee fair and square, and she won more votes in the primary—and general—than her opponents.

— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 9, 2017

Tradução: Hillary foi nomeada de forma justa e clara, e recebeu mais votos nas primárias e presidenciais do que seus adversários.

Para garantir que não houvesse dúvida quanto à sua declaração de lealdade, o último tweet foi fixado no topo de sua página. (Além disso, acrescentou um par de banalidade obscuras e vazias sobre a importância da transparência, objetividade e “luta”.)

É possível observar na conduta de Tom Perez a mentalidade e postura que moldou o Partido Democrata: a defesa dos acordos de mercado livre que eliminam empregos e são adorados por doadores corporativistas; uma incapacidade de falar de forma honesta usando desesperadamente um roteiro preparado com base em pesquisas de opinião; um medo paralisante de falar de questões controversas, mesmo (e especialmente) quando se referem a violações graves de direitos humanos por parte de aliados; um compromisso quase religioso em não ofender doadores milionários; e uma disposição ilimitada a se rebaixar em busca de poder, submetendo-se a um ritual de desculpas por ter dito a verdade.

Esse é o modelo que levou o Partido Democrata a um buraco tão profundo que até o site Vox reconhece o desastre completo sem precisar usar eufemismos. Esse é o modelo que alienou eleitores de todo o país nas eleições para todos os níveis de governo e que possibilitou a vitória de Donald Trump. E é o modelo que os líderes do establishment do partido estão cada vez mais determinados a proteger e enraizar, garantindo que mais um funcionário que o personifica se torne a cara do partido.

Poderíamos investir todo nosso tempo e energia atacando Donald Trump. Mas, até que as causas sistêmicas que criaram as condições para sua vitória sejam entendidas e resolvidas, esses ataques não terão resultados além de aplausos lisonjeiros nas redes sociais daqueles que já se dedicam a atacá-lo. O foco e tentativa de resolver as falhas fundamentais do Partido Democrata não é uma distração da resistência (#TheResistance) a Trump; é uma prioridade central, um pré-requisito para qualquer tipo de sucesso.

The post Trump não pode ser combatido até que o Partido Democrata seja curado appeared first on The Intercept.

O silêncio das panelas

9 February 2017 - 12:13pm

Paneleiros, por onde andam? Seu cúmplice silêncio não é de hoje, mas depois que as tratativas evocadas por Romero Jucá para melar a Lava Jato naquele célebre telefonema começaram a materializar-se como um joguinho perfeito de Tetris, onde tudo se encaixa no timing exato – até a morte do relator do processo no supremo –, era de se esperar o retorno da sua fúria estridente.

Ainda mais com o douto (só que ao contrário) Alexandre de Moraes no STF, uma nomeação cujas nefastas consequências ultrapassam simplesmente pôr em risco o resultado da operação tão querida pelo brasileiro “de bem”. Ainda mais com Edison Lobão, investigado em dois inquéritos da Lava Jato, presidindo a sabatina de Moraes no Senado. Ainda mais com a tentativa de foro privilegiado para Moreira Franco – sem direito a chilique da grande imprensa e áudio vazado por Sérgio Moro, como quando da quase nomeação de Lula na Casa Civil, em março passado, supostamente pelo mesmo motivo. Ainda mais com a ventilada nomeação de um Ministro da Justiça crítico à Lava Jato. Ainda mais…

A lista de motivos para que os amarelinhos voltassem a marchar pelas ruas contra a corrupção só faz crescer. O Vem pra Rua “discute convocar atos”, mas sabemos que o brasileiro “de bem” não sabe pensar sozinho e costuma apenas sair à rua quando a Globonews ajuda na chamada. Sua indignação seletiva é um traço de falta de caráter. Ou isso, ou não foi exatamente contra a corrupção que bateram panelas no ano passado.

Voltemos a fita: a oposição derrubou uma presidente eleita, cuja única e exclusiva qualidade para o cargo era justamente a de ser honesta – ainda que num partido manchado pela corrupção, como todos os outros –, para tentar “estancar a sangria” da operação conduzida por Sérgio Moro. O mesmo juiz, no meio do caminho, ofereceu vastas evidências de que poupava tucanos enquanto seus procuradores investiam na tese delirante de que Lula, montado em pedalinhos de ouro, seria o solitário líder máximo da “organização criminosa”, com grande estardalhaço na imprensa. Ao contrário do que acontece quando Eduardo Cunha coloca Temer no núcleo do Petrolão.

A cena é complexa, algo sai de controle todos os dias e os atores estão errados pelos motivos certos – e vice-versa. Por isso, a dicotomia empurrada pela grande imprensa goela abaixo dos brasileiros – de bem ou não – é insuficiente para completar o quadro. Mas bastante útil para convocá-los para a rua quando conveniente. Não é exatamente uma novidade.

Há pouco mais de um século, Lima Barreto publicou “Memórias do escrivão Isaías Caminha”, seu primeiro romance. Desde então, o retrato da corrupta elite e corrupta imprensa carioca presente no livro merece poucos retoques. Lendo o Lima, a impressão que temos é a de que o tempo não passa no Rio de Janeiro – e no Brasil.

“Isaías Caminha” é baseado nas suas experiências no Correio da Manhã. No entanto, como trata-se de um “roman à clef”, onde todos os nomes são trocados, o escritor profeticamente chama o jornal onde seu narrador auto-ficcional trabalha de O Globo. Sobre as revoltas que incendiaram as ruas na primeira década do século passado, ele escreve:

“As vociferações da minha gazeta tinham produzido o necessário resultado. Aquele repetir diário em longos artigos solenes de que o governo era desonesto e desejava oprimir o povo, que aquele projeto visava enriquecer um sindicato de fabricantes de calçado, que atentava contra a liberdade individual, que se devia correr a chicote tais administradores, tinha-se incrustado nos espíritos e a irritação alastrava com a violência de uma epidemia.”

Em condições normais de temperatura e pressão no Brasil o povo só vai pra rua se Sinhô mandar. Pelo que lemos pelos seus arautos e ideólogos, Sinhô ainda não parece muito animado nesse momento. Mas dá sinais de mudança. Esperemos.

The post O silêncio das panelas appeared first on The Intercept.

“You Can Definitely See People Waking Up” — Scenes of Red State Resistance

9 February 2017 - 11:02am

Late last month, Connie, a flight attendant for a major airline, was preparing to board a plane leaving New York when she began hearing rumors about people held at airports following Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees and Muslim travelers from entering the United States. The president claimed the ban was about terrorism, yet even legal permanent residents were reportedly being detained. It sounded far-fetched to Connie and her co-workers. “People were like, ‘No, that’s not really happening. There’s no way they’re holding up green card holders or people that have already been awarded visas.’” But later she got home and started reading the news. She realized it was true.

Connie, who asked that her last name and the name of her employer be withheld, since speaking publicly about the travel ban would lead to repercussions at work, was born in South America, arriving in the U.S. when she was 2. She has lived in different parts of the country and traveled all over the map, but for the past few years, she’s been based in Atlanta. As a flight attendant, she has developed a sense of empathy for her passengers. “We encounter so many people on a day-to-day basis,” she says. “You always wonder what kinds of walks of life people come from and what experiences they’ve had.” Beyond the initial shock and confusion, the fallout from Trump’s travel ban has been severe on airport workers, she says, many of whom share in the heartbreak and outrage that have led to mass protests, but are unable to express it. “It definitely takes a toll on us.”

The ban, which was immediately challenged in courts nationwide, was halted last week following a ruling by a federal District Court judge in Seattle. On Tuesday, at a hearing before a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Department of Justice lawyers fought to reinstate it. In oral arguments that were live-streamed for the public, DOJ attorney August Flentje argued that the president has vast powers in assessing terrorist threats; when asked by one judge if such determinations are “unreviewable,” Fientje answered yes. The judges seemed unconvinced by the Trump administration’s argument but whatever the ruling, many speculate the matter will reach the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, even as families cleared to enter the U.S. are reunited with relatives and loved ones, much fear remains about what comes next.

Connie was working at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on Sunday, January 29, when thousands of protesters arrived to rally against the ban. Eleven people had been held at the airport over the weekend, including a young child and an elderly woman, who had since been released. People came in droves, chanting, waving signs, and staying until it got dark. Inside the airline lounge, employees quietly discussed the protests. Many were supportive, Connie said, but were cautious about saying so. “It’s a really weird environment when you’re in uniform, because you have to be very careful about the way you word things, especially when you’re out in public.”

Protestors write letters to Donald Trump in opposition to his travel ban during an interfaith rally for Muslims and refugees at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on Feb. 4, 2017, in Atlanta, Ga.

Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

As a progressive, Connie is not new to politics or organizing. She went to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and has spent the past several weeks making phone calls to her local representatives in Georgia. But Trump’s executive orders shook others she knows out of their complacency. “You can definitely see people waking up — people that weren’t talking about Trump pre-election, who are taking what he says seriously. And they’re getting nervous.” Among her co-workers, many of whom carry foreign passports, people worry about their own families as well as their passengers, wondering what other countries Trump might try to target. “We worry about the places that we go and how they’re going to treat us being Americans.”

Long before the election, Connie had been deeply dismayed by videos and reports of people being escorted off airplanes just because they were speaking Arabic. As a flight attendant, she says, “that’s where you’re kind of at a crossroads between your own personal human decency and respecting that you’re not representing yourself when you’re in uniform, you’re representing a multibillion dollar corporation.”

In the days after Trump won the presidency, she says, she confronted a colleague who whispered concern about a pair of Arabic-speaking men during a flight to Chicago. The flight had been delayed for hours due to mechanical issues, Connie says; one of the men had approached her, saying they were going to a funeral and were worried they might miss it. The plane eventually took off; as they approached the city, one of the men asked if they could move from their seats in the far back rows to empty seats closer to the front, so that they could exit quickly. “I was like, ‘Absolutely,’” she said. Moments later, her fellow flight attendant quietly asked about the men, telling her that passengers were expressing suspicion. Connie was angered by the insinuation. “If I felt like I was in a position where I was going to put my passengers, my job, my life in danger, then I would say something,” she said. “And this is not what’s going on here.”

With people constantly fed so much misinformation by Trump, it is inevitable that some will feel paranoid, she says. Especially in the South, in the states where people voted for Trump, “I think that now it’s so important for people to stand up and say, ‘No, that’s wrong.’”

Protestors crowd the sidewalks at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to denounce Donald Trump’s executive order restricting refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, Jan. 29, 2017.

Photo: Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Images

One week after the protest in Atlanta, across the state border to the north, Fuad Sharef Suleman and his family were scheduled to arrive at Nashville International Airport, after an 18-hour journey from Iraq. It was Super Bowl Sunday and the game was well underway, yet some 200 people had come to the airport that night to greet them. Suleman had been traveling to Tennessee with his wife and three children when Trump’s ban was announced; they found themselves stopped by authorities in Cairo and sent back home. Suleman was devastated. He had worked as a translator in Iraq following the U.S. invasion, which turned him and his family into a target. They waited two years for a special immigrant visa to come to the United States. When the visas came through, Suleman and his wife sold their home, quit their jobs, and took their kids out of school, ready to settle in Nashville.

In the days after they were barred entry, attorneys, elected officials, and activists with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition called on U.S. officials to allow the family into the country. Nashville is home to the largest Kurdish population in the United States; many city residents wrote letters and called politicians to voice their opposition to the ban. At an evening rally and vigil on February 1 — part of a statewide day of action that saw events from Memphis to Chattanooga — a speaker announced to cheers that the pressure had worked: The Suleman family would be arriving in Nashville within days.

Among those who came to the airport Sunday night was Suyapa Faulk. She stood at the very front of the crowd, holding a sign that said “Welcome” in Kurdish. Faulk is originally from Honduras, but she moved to Nashville in 1993, speaking English with a slight Southern twang. The year she arrived, the city received an influx of Iraqi Kurds targeted by Saddam Hussein, who had waged chemical warfare against the country’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Working at the Head Start program in Davidson County, Faulk got to know a lot of the small children who arrived with their families. She came to love them all, she says, but “I can’t deny it, my very favorite one was a child named Beimal.”

Born in a refugee camp in Turkey, where her parents lived for years, Beimal grew up in Nashville. As the years passed, Faulk occasionally ran into her around the city: at the middle school where she tutored for a time; at Edwin Warner park, a go-to gathering spot for Nashville’s Kurdish community. Last year, Faulk was hospitalized at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center when she spotted one of her former Head Start students, now an adult, who told her that Biemal was there too, just a few floors away, now working as a nurse in the intensive care unit.

“It was Biemal that taught me how to write Latin Kurdish,” Faulk said, showing me her sign. To Faulk, Trump’s travel ban felt personal, not just because of her own immigrant background, but because of the kids who defined her arrival to the U.S. almost 25 years ago. She realized how much it meant to her that she had helped welcome refugee children to her adopted home. “I am so proud to be able to welcome this Kurdish family,” she said about the Sulemans. “I just wish I could take them into my home and let them live there.”

At Nashville airport, where Fuad Sharef & his family just arrived after being sent back to Iraq last week. Huge crowd came to welcome them. pic.twitter.com/lLzV8Kxz9b

— Liliana Segura (@LilianaSegura) February 6, 2017

Just before 8 p.m., the crowd broke out in cheers as Suleman and his family came into view. They began to wave; his wife, Arazoo Ibrahim, held a bouquet of flowers, their daughters held large pink teddy bears, and their 19-year-old son carried a football. As the family received hugs and handshakes, people began chanting, “Welcome home! Welcome home!”

Looking happy and tired, Suleman spoke briefly in the ticketing area. “Today is a very important day in my and my family’s life,” he said. “It marks the first day of my new life in Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States of America.” He thanked everyone who had supported him and his family over the previous week — “especially my fellow Nashvillians,” like Mayor Megan Berry and Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper, who stood by as he spoke. Nawzad Hawrami, of the Salahadeen Center, a mosque in South Nashville, welcomed the family to “small Kurdistan.”

With the family exhausted, TIRRC co-director Stephanie Teatro said good night to the crowd, thanking them for their “Southern hospitality.” As people left the airport, Nashville Metro Council Members Brett Withers and Mina Johnson lingered. Withers, one of two LGBTQ elected officials in the city, recalled the struggles of the gay community decades ago. “We had a saying then, ‘Silence Equals Death,’” he said. “And that’s where we are today.” Johnson, the first Japanese-American member of Nashville’s Metro Council, invoked the upcoming anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt’s 1942 executive order that led to the internment of Japanese people on U.S. soil. “We have to make sure that never happens again,” she said. “I’m so happy that Nashville is leading as a welcoming city. I just want to be sure that’s what we are.”

Top photo: Kareema Sabdah, a Palestinian immigrant and American citizen, hugs her daughter, Jenna, during an interfaith rally for Muslims and refugees at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on Feb. 4, 2017, in Atlanta, Ga.

The post “You Can Definitely See People Waking Up” — Scenes of Red State Resistance appeared first on The Intercept.

Trump Administration Prepares to Execute “Vicious” Executive Order on Deportations

9 February 2017 - 9:50am

Donald Trump’s first executive order as president, signed on January 25, called for a series of dramatic new measures aimed at hardening the country’s domestic immigration enforcement apparatus. Despite their grave implications for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., the measures were largely overshadowed by a particularly high-profile component of the directive — the construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico — and receded further into the background two days later, when Trump signed a second order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

As the world’s attention was occupied with the chaotic implementation of the travel ban and its dramatic domestic and international impacts, the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security has quietly moved forward with elements of the first executive order, according to internal communications obtained by The Intercept.

Trump’s order on “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” resurrects some of the most controversial immigration enforcement programs of recent years, seeks to deputize state and local law enforcement as immigration officials across the country, and threatens major cuts to federal funding for cities that fail to fall in line with the administration’s vision.

In order to address the massive strain the plan would place on the nation’s already overburdened immigration system, Trump has called for the construction of new immigrant detention facilities along the U.S. border with Mexico — including through private contracts — as quickly as possible. Trump has also directed DHS to “allocate all legally available resources to immediately assign asylum officers to immigration detention facilities” for the purpose of conducting so-called credible fear hearings for asylum seekers. According to internal DHS communications obtained by The Intercept, this latter step is already underway.

In an email sent to personnel on Monday, Kathy Valerin, chief of staff at the Arlington Asylum Office for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, put out a call for asylum officer volunteers to conduct screening interviews at two for-profit immigrant detention facilities in Arizona as part of an ongoing effort to support the president’s orders beginning this week.

“In response to the recent Executive Orders, asylum offices have been instructed to immediately begin sending employees to conduct in-person CF and RF interviews [at] several detention facilities,” Valerin wrote, referring to “credible fear” and “reasonable fear” interviews, which are legally required in asylum cases, depending on the status of the individual. Specifically, Valerin added, USCIS was looking for volunteers to take up posts at private immigrant detention centers in Eloy and Florence, Arizona “for two-week minimum increments through mid-March.”

USCIS confirmed to The Intercept that the call for volunteers was a response to Trump’s first executive order.

“Prior to the EO, USCIS deployed staff on a continuous basis to a number of detention facilities across the country to conduct its credible and reasonable fear work,” Joanne F. Talbot, a USCIS spokesperson, wrote in an email. “We are currently assessing and planning for additional deployments to further advance the directive contained in the Executive Order. USCIS officers will continue to make all credible and reasonable fear screening determinations in a manner that is consistent and in full compliance with the applicable statute and regulations.”

A senior U.S. immigration official, speaking to The Intercept on condition of anonymity, said the volunteer posting would likely involve five or so trained asylum officers, conducting five interviews each per day, at the Arizona detention centers  — a total of roughly 125 interviews each week. When asked what the purpose of the call-out for volunteers might signify, the official responded, “I can’t think of any other reason than preps for processing a lot of expedited removal cases.”

Immigrant detainees walk through the ICE detention facility in Florence, Ariz., on Feb. 28, 2013.

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Immigration attorneys who spoke to The Intercept largely agreed with that assessment, though they were careful to stress that the call for volunteers alone does not necessarily point to a particular outcome.

Expedited removal is the process for deporting people who have come to the country without the proper paperwork. If individuals in expedited removal ask for asylum or say they fear being returned to their country of origin, they have the right, under U.S. law, to describe their situation before a U.S. asylum officer. If the officer finds that an individual’s claim passes a low threshold of credibility, then the case may be heard before an immigration judge. If not, Immigration and Customs Enforcement takes control of the case and deportation proceedings can move forward.

In its domestic immigration enforcement order, the Trump administration said the executive branch will “end the abuse of parole and asylum provisions currently used to prevent the lawful removal of removable aliens,” raising concerns among some immigration attorneys that asylum seekers could be prioritized for deportation. If that’s the case, credible and reasonable fear hearings would need to be held and detention centers along the border could be one place to start, though it would still be up to individual asylum officers to determine whether detainees pass or fail their screenings.

The administration’s focus on the early stages of the expedited removal process has some attorneys worried that individuals who have already passed their screenings could end up languishing in the system, while deportations of those who have not are prioritized. “I think it’s just going to be long waits for people from this point on,” Greg Siskind, a Tennessee-based immigration attorney, told The intercept.

The Arizona detention facilities where USCIS is currently directing volunteers — Florence and Eloy — are well-known among local immigration attorneys and activists. Both are owned by one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison corporations, CoreCivic, formally known as Corrections Corporation of America. According to the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, a nonprofit organization that provides legal services to immigrants in Arizona’s detention system, more than 3,000 “immigrant, refugee, and asylum-seeking women and men [are] detained daily in Florence or Eloy.”

Eloy has been called the “deadliest immigration detention center in the nation” ever since an investigation by the Arizona Republic newspaper found 15 detainees had died at the facility since 2003, including three since October.

Beyond the potential implications of an increased number of asylum officers at Eloy and Florence, which at this point remains to be seen, Lauren Dasse, executive director of the Florence Project, said her organization harbored profound fears that Trump’s domestic immigration directives could make longstanding problems in the state even worse.

“The Florence Project is the only organization providing free legal services to detained immigrant children, women, and men in Arizona,” Dasse wrote in an email. “Based on the executive orders, we are deeply concerned about possible increases to detention, prolonged detention of immigrants including asylum seekers, and threats to individuals’ due process rights. We advocate that every person is treated with dignity and respect and understands their options under immigration law.”

In another dramatic sign that officials in Arizona are beginning to move forward with Trump’s domestic enforcement order, immigration agents in Phoenix arrested Guadalupe García de Rayos on Wednesday. For eight years the 35 year-old, who has lived in the U.S. since she was a teenager, had checked into the local ICE after being arrested in 2008 for using a fake social security card number in order to work. Under the Obama administration, that kind of offense was not prioritized for deportation — that’s no longer the case under president Trump.

“That is precisely what the alarming problem is with Trump’s internal enforcement order,” Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director of the ACLU, told the New York Times

Migrant rights groups participate in a vigil to protest President Donald Trump’s crackdown on “sanctuary cities” outside City Hall in Los Angeles on Jan. 25, 2017.

Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

In interviews with The Intercept, immigration lawyers and advocates echoed those concerns, noting that while Trump’s domestic enforcement order faces congressional hurdles that his travel ban did not, the president’s plans lay the foundations for an aggressive mass deportation apparatus — one that could take the historically high levels of immigrant detention and deportation under Obama to new heights by drastically expanding the range of targeted individuals. Current and former law enforcement and immigration officials, meanwhile, added that the administration’s plans could easily intensify fear in immigrant communities, elevate the risk of racial profiling, and strain the relationship between state and local authorities and the federal government.

Parts of Trump’s domestic immigration enforcement plan, particularly those related to so-called sanctuary cities, have already faced pushback, with mayors of several major cities saying they will fight efforts to withhold federal funding. Last week, San Francisco became the first city to file a lawsuit challenging the order — others are expected to follow. And while Trump has enjoyed support from unions representing the nation’s immigration enforcement agencies, other corners of the law enforcement community are less than enthused about his vision.

Since 2013, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, an organization made up of dozens of senior law enforcement executives from the nation’s largest cities, has publicly rejected efforts to enlist state and local law enforcement officers as ad hoc immigration officers and has opposed measures that would punish cities financially if they fail to cooperate with such initiatives.

Darrel Stephens, executive director of the association, said his organization’s concerns with Trump’s order were multifaceted. First, Stephens said, the order fails to define what the administration considers a sanctuary city to be — beyond a city that fails to abide the White House directives. Second, and more broadly, he said, recruiting state and local law enforcement to act as immigration officials instills fear in immigrant communities, which makes solving crimes more difficult and puts more people — regardless of their immigration status — at risk.

“The funding is a big concern of ours,” Stephens told The Intercept. “Lack of clarity on what the definition is is a big concern of ours. Local police being involved in immigration enforcement creates some enormous challenges from a resource perspective. It’s complicated law. It is very difficult to understand and interpret. And as a practical matter, arresting illegal immigrants, the federal government has no capacity to process them. The detention centers are full. The courts have a two-year backlog.”

Art Acevedo, chief of police for the city of Houston, shared Stephens’s concerns, telling The Intercept that implicit in Trump’s messaging were two false notions. The first is that undocumented immigrants are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime — experts have repeatedly demonstrated that they are not, and Acevedo said his decades of law enforcement experience supported those conclusions. And second is the suggestion that local and state law enforcement aren’t already focused on arresting individuals who violate criminal laws.

“We are charged with keeping people safe from predators and from thieves and from violent members of society,” Acevedo explained. “We’re not charged with going out and wasting and spending our very limited resources booking a day laborer or somebody that, but for their immigration status, have done nothing that would harm our society.”

Rather than engaging in “political theater” designed to please its base, Acevedo suggested the administration instead listen to the concerns of local and state law enforcement executives on the ground, who have long rejected seeing their officers used as de facto deportation forces.

“Sadly, if these type of ill-advised, poorly thought out public polices were to go through — where they try to take away my ability to control the workforce, to control the priorities of my workforce — there are going to be unintended consequences and those unintended consequences are going to result in additional crime,” Acevedo said.

“You cannot be the party of law and order and not listen to your police chiefs and your police executives,” he added. “You can’t. Doesn’t add up.”

“This is a nightmare scenario,” Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center, told The Intercept. Altman pointed to three elements of the administration’s initial order as key areas of concern. The first is the range of individuals to be targeted by Trump’s immigration enforcement agents, which grows increasingly broad as the text of the order unfolds and, according to a recent analysis by the Los Angeles Times, could ensnare as many as 8 million people.

In the view of the administration, any “removable alien” who has broken a law or been suspected of breaking a law is fair game for deportation — regardless of whether that person was convicted or even charged with a crime. The order goes on to say that any person from that category who authorities believe “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” can and should be targeted as well. Whether that person is a young student suspected of a traffic violation or grandmother who’s lived in the country for decades is immaterial; both are on par with a violent criminal in Trump’s America and can expect to face the same consequence: removal from the country.

Second, Altman explained, Trump’s order calls for the revitalization of two deeply controversial immigration enforcement initiatives: the widely reported program known as Secure Communities and a lesser known, though arguably more aggressive program known as 287(g).

Spearheaded by the Bush administration and expanded under Obama, the DHS-administered Secure Communities program partnered ICE with local jails to facilitate the sharing of biometric data between detention facilities and ICE officials. After years of criticism from immigration advocates, who argued that the program routinely went far beyond targeting violent offenders, the Obama administration ended Secure Communities in November 2014, replacing it with a similar initiative known as the Priority Enforcement Program.

The second program slated for expansion under the Trump administration, 287(g), permits partnerships between local jails and ICE agents as well, but also goes a step further, allowing local and state law enforcement officers on the street to be deputized as immigration officials. Investigations by the Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union have repeatedly linked implementation of 287(g) to systemic patterns of racial profiling and constitutional rights violations in Latino communities.

The third element of the Trump domestic enforcement plan Altman pointed to is the administration’s targeting of sanctuary cities — described in the order as “jurisdictions across the United States [that] willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States.” Under the order, cities that refuse to comply with the administration’s enforcement directives will be cut off from federal grants “except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary [of DHS].” According to an analysis by Reuters, implementation of this component of Trump’s order would threaten $2.27 billion in annual funds for the nation’s 10 largest cities, including hundreds of millions of dollars intended for Head Start pre-school programs, public housing, and HIV prevention and relief.

Combining the broadened categories of people prioritized for enforcement, the enlistment of local and state authorities to execute that enforcement, and the “coercive threats against sanctuaries or restrictions,” makes for a “very toxic” brew, Altman argued.

“When you put the three of them together, you just have the most fertile ground possible for racial profiling and terrorized immigrant communities who are going to be too frightened to cooperate with their local police,” she said.

Altman is not alone in her grim assessment. In a legal breakdown following the signing of the order, immigration attorney David Leopold argued that Trump’s directive is a loaded gun with millions of immigrants in its crosshairs. “Trump’s plan is a blueprint to implement his campaign promises of mass deportation, and it puts in place the Deportation Force to carry out his plan,” Leopold wrote on Medium. “It’s clear that the executive orders were crafted by the most extreme anti-immigrant zealots in Trump’s orbit.”

“I don’t want to say one order is more important than the other one,” Leopold told The Intercept, noting that the dramatic human impact of Trump’s travel ban is self-evident, not to mention the deep legal concerns raised by the order. But, he added, Trump’s order on internal immigration enforcement is “just as important” and has unfortunately slipped beneath the public’s radar.

“I shudder to think about what’s going to happen once that’s implemented, and we’re already seeing signs,” Leopold said. “He has made, or I want to say Steve Bannon has made, every immigrant in this country a priority.”

“That thing is vicious,” Leopold added. “It’s vicious.”

The post Trump Administration Prepares to Execute “Vicious” Executive Order on Deportations appeared first on The Intercept.

Após autorização para plantar maconha, casal passa pelo desafio de produzir canabidiol

9 February 2017 - 9:03am

Estudar sobre o cultivo e as variedades da maconha passou a integrar a rotina do casal Alexandre Meirelles e Maria de Fátima Pereira nos últimos três meses. Os dois, que nunca foram usuários, plantam cannabis sativa em casa e extraem de forma artesanal o óleo da planta, que é usado no tratamento do filho Gabriel, de 14 anos. A família é uma das três que, por meio de habeas corpus, conseguiram a autorização judicial para a produção caseira do extrato.

Gabriel tem epilepsia refratária, sequela de uma encefalite bacteriana que contraiu aos 8 anos de idade. O menino chegou a ter 30 crises por dia na fase mais grave da doença. Depois do uso do canabidiol ( substância encontrada na maconha que é extraída através do óleo), houve uma significante redução: hoje, ele tem em média 15 crises por mês.

O casal participou de oficinas no projeto FarmaCanabis, da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, que tem a proposta de dosar os canabinóides – diferentes substâncias presentes na cannabis – assim como identificar a concentração deles nos diversos tipos da planta. Com isso, será possível determinar qual extrato é mais indicado para cada doença. “Analisando os extratos de cannabis, a gente vai avaliar a segurança destes tratamentos e poder dar essa informação para o paciente e seu médico”, explica Vírginia Carvalho, coordenadora do projeto e doutora em toxicologia pela USP.

Variações na dosagem podem fazer a pessoa que está controlada voltar a ter crise.

Além da epilepsia, o óleo extraído da maconha pode ser utilizado em tratamentos de câncer, esclerose múltipla, autismo, alzheimer e parkinson.

Alexandre e Fátima tiveram que construir uma estufa, aprenderam a trabalhar a terra, podar corretamente e descobriram na prática que a cannabis não pode ficar exposta nem ao sol e nem à chuva. Agora, esperam que as plantas floresçam para que o óleo seja extraído. Além de aprenderem a plantar, os dois passam pelo desafio de produzir o extrato de maneira caseira. “Não é questão só de fazer um óleo, o problema maior para utilizar esse óleo é saber o que tem dentro dele”, conta o pai, referindo-se à dosagem do remédio.

Casal precisou aprender a cultivar a planta

Foto: Thiago Dezan / The Intercept Brasil

Desde 2014, a ANVISA iniciou o debate para colocar o canadibiol na lista de substâncias com prescrição médica permitida. Cerca de duas mil pessoas fazem uso do remédio no Brasil. O produto é importado e de difícil acesso, tanto pelo preço – que custa por mês entre R$ 2.000 e R$ 15.000 – quanto pela burocracia. No STF, Teori Zavascki, morto em janeiro deste ano em um acidente de avião, pediu vistas do processo que descriminaliza a maconha em 2015. Seu sucessor é quem vai dar prosseguimento a ação

A solução mais prática é o cultivo em casa, que precisa vir acompanhado de uma assistência do poder público em relação à análise do produto feito artesanalmente. “Pequenas variações na dosagem podem fazer a pessoa que está controlada voltar a ter crise. Por isso a importância de um laboratório público atuando”, explica Eduardo Favere, médico especializado em epilepsias que atende Gabriel.

A UFRJ autorizou que o laboratório para análises fosse montado na universidade sob a coordenação da professora Virgínia. O problema é que a estrutura necessária para a análise dos extratos é cara. Para custeá-lo, foi criado um financiamento coletivo para arrecadar R$ 24.399. As doações seguem até o próximo dia 20 de fevereiro.

Dosagem de substâncias é essencial para tratamento seguro

Foto: Thiago Dezan / The Intercept Brasil

The post Após autorização para plantar maconha, casal passa pelo desafio de produzir canabidiol appeared first on The Intercept.

Tom Perez Apologizes for Telling the Truth, Showing Why Democrats’ Flaws Urgently Need Attention

9 February 2017 - 8:21am

The more alarmed one is by the Trump administration, the more one should focus on how to fix the systemic, fundamental sickness of the Democratic Party. That Hillary Clinton won the meaningless popular vote on her way to losing to Donald Trump, and that the singular charisma of Barack Obama kept him popular, have enabled many to ignore just how broken and failed the Democrats are as a national political force.

An endless array of stunning statistics can be marshaled to demonstrate the extent of that collapse. But perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence is that even one of the U.S. media’s most stalwart Democratic loyalists, writing in an outlet that is as much of a reliable party organ as the DNC itself, has acknowledged the severity of the destruction. “The Obama years have created a Democratic Party that’s essentially a smoking pile of rubble,” wrote Vox’s Matthew Yglesias after the 2016 debacle, adding that “the story of the 21st-century Democratic Party looks to be overwhelmingly the story of failure.”

A failed, collapsed party cannot form an effective resistance. Trump did not become President and the Republicans do not dominate virtually all levels of government because there is some sort of massive surge in enthusiasm for right-wing extremism. Quite the contrary: this all happened because the Democrats are perceived – with good reason – to be out-of-touch, artificial, talking-points-spouting automatons who serve Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the agenda of endless war, led by millionaires and funded by oligarchs to do the least amount possible for ordinary, powerless citizens while still keeping their votes.

What drove Bernie Sanders’ remarkably potent challenge to Hillary Clinton was the extreme animosity of huge numbers of Democrats – led by its youngest voters – to the values, practices, and corporatist loyalties of the party’s establishment. Unlike the 2008 Democratic primary war – which was far more vicious and nasty but devoid of any real ideological conflict – the 2016 primary was grounded in important and substantive disputes about what the Democratic Party should be, what principles should guide it, and, most important of all, whose interests it should serve.

That’s why those disputes have not disappeared with the inauguration of Trump, nor should they. It matters a great deal, perhaps more than anything else, who leads the resistance to Trump and what the nature of that opposition is. Everyone knows the popular cliché that insanity means doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes; it illustrates why Democrats cannot continue as is and expect anything other than ongoing impotence and failure. The party’s steadfast refusal to change course even in symbolic ways – we hereby elevate by acclimation Chuck “Wall-Street” Schumer and re-install Nancy “I’m a-multi-millionaire-and-We-are-Capitalists” Pelosi – bodes very poorly for its future success.

In sum, demanding that one refrain from critiquing the Democratic Party in order to exclusively denounce Trump over and over is akin to demanding that one single-mindledly denounce cancer without worrying about who the treating doctor is or what type of research is being conducted to cure it. Trump happened because the Democrats failed. And he and similar (or worse) phenomena will continue to happen until they are fixed.

 

The obvious determination of Democratic establishment leaders to follow the same failed and dreary course explains why the race for DNC Chair has become so heated. In reality, that position is little more than a functionary role – mostly focused on fund-raising and building the party apparatus at the state level – but whoever occupies it does serve as a leading public face of the party.

For the last five years, the face of the DNC was the living, breathing embodiment of everything awful about the party: the sleazy, corrupt corporatist and centrist hawk Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who – as a result of WikiLeaks’ publication of DNC emails – had to resign in disgrace after she got caught engaging in sustained cheating in order to ensure that Hillary Clinton would be the party’s nominee.

But her disgrace was short-lived: upon resigning, she was quickly rewarded for her corruption by being named to a high position with the Clinton campaign, as well as having the DC establishment Democrats, led by Joe Biden and Clinton herself, support her in vanquishing a Sanders-supported primary challenger for her seat in Congress. As a result of the support from the party establishment (as well as massive funding from corporate and banking interests), she defeated that challenger, Tim Canova, and the nation rejoiced as she returned for her 7th term in Congress.

Wasserman Schultz was replaced as DNC Chair on an interim basis by long-time party operative Donna Brazile, who was quickly engulfed by her own scandal when she got caught secretly passing CNN debate questions to the Clinton campaign, then repeatedly lying about it by denying it and insinuating the emails were forged by the Russians. For that misconduct, CNN fired her, as anchor Jake Tapper denounced her cheating as “horrifying” and CNN itself said it made them “completely uncomfortable.”

But Brazile continues to this day to run the DNC. Think about that: her behavior was so unethical, dishonest and corrupt that Jeff-Zucker-led CNN denounced it and public disassociated itself from her. But the DNC seems perfectly comfortable having her continue to lead the party until the next Chair is chosen.

Perhaps worse than the serial cheating itself was that it was all in service of coronating a candidate who – as many of us tried to warn at the time – all empirical data showed was the most vulnerable to lose to Donald Trump. So the very same people who bear the blame for Trump’s presidency – by cheating to elevate the candidate most likely to lose to him – continue to dominate the Democratic Party. To describe the situation is to demonstrate the urgency of debating and fixing it, rather than ignoring it in the name of talking only about Trump.

 

Early on in the race for DNC Chair, Keith Ellison – the first American Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress and an early Sanders supporter who resides on the left wing of the party – emerged as a clear favorite. He racked up endorsements not only from progressives like Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Jesse Jackson but also party stalwarts such as Walter MondaleJohn Lewis and even Schumer himself, who seems to recognize that throwing a few symbolic crumbs to the Sanders wing of the party is strategically wise in light of the enduring bitterness many of them harbor toward the DNC’s behavior and the party’s centrist, neoliberal, pro-war policies.

Photo: AP

But then panic erupted among the Democratic establishment. It began when Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban – the largest single funder of both the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign – smeared Ellison as “an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual” and said his election “would be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party.” In the minds of DC mavens, you can’t have someone as Chair of the DNC who is disliked by billionaire funders. That is the Democratic Party.

The knives were then out for Ellison, as operatives began dumping controversial college-age comments about Louis Farrakhan and Israel into the media. The New York Times began running articles with headlines such as “Jewish Groups and Unions Grow Uneasy With Keith Ellison” – a strange headline given that Ellison has been endorsed by multiple unions, including the AFL-CIO, the United Steelworkers, UNITE HERE, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others. Even unpaid parking tickets from the 1990s made an appearance thanks to Democratic slime artists.

The assault on Ellison’s candidacy was formalized when the Obama White House recruited and promised to back one of its loyalists, Labor Secretary Tom Perez. As he did with his endorsement of Wasserman Schultz, Biden made the establishment’s support for Perez official by publicly endorsing him last week.

Perez is a pleasant liberal and loyal party stalwart: before the first primary vote was cast, he endorsed Clinton over Sanders and became one of her most outspoken surrogates. Despite claiming to be devoted to American workers, he was a loyal supporter of TPP even after Clinton was forced into insincere opposition.

It’s not hard to see why the Obama and Clinton circles want him to run the party instead of Ellison. He’s acceptable to big donors. He has proven himself loyal to the party establishment’s agenda. He is a reliable party operative. And, most importantly of all, he will change nothing of substance: ensuring that the same policies, rhetoric and factions that have prevailed continue to do so, all while protecting the power base of the same people who have run the party into the ground.

 

Two recent incidents vividly highlight why Tom Perez so perfectly embodies the Democratic Party status quo. The first occurred two weeks ago, when my colleague Zaid Jilani attended an event where Perez was speaking and politely but repeatedly asked him about Israeli human rights abuses – which had been in the news that week because of new demolitions by the IDF of Palestinian homes, and because Perez had been asked about his views on boycotting Israeli as a way of stopping their decades-long occupation.

With the domination by the Democratic Party of Saban and others looming, just watch how this profile in courage who wants to lead the Democratic Party responded to being asked about his opinions on this matter:

Tom Perez condemned BDS at the DNC Chair Debate so I asked him what he thought about Israeli home demolitions.. pic.twitter.com/8QI8FRVhHl

— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) January 21, 2017

An even more illustrative episode occurred late Wednesday. Perez was in Kansas campaigning for votes from county leaders and was asked about the need for the Party to retain the support of the Sanders contingent. Perez unexpectedly blurted out a truth which party functionaries to this day steadfastly bury and deny even in the face of the mountain of evidence proving it. This is what Perez said:

We heard loudly and clearly yesterday from Bernie supporters that the process was rigged and it was. And you’ve got to be honest about it. That’s why we need a chair who is transparent.

That’s quite an admission from the party establishment’s own candidate: “the process was rigged.” And he commendably acknowledged how important it is to admit this – “to be honest about it” – because “we need a chair who is transparent.”

But Perez’s commitment to “transparency” and “being honest” had a very short life-span. After his admission predictably caused controversy – with furious Clinton supporters protesting the truth – Perez demonstrated the same leadership qualities that were so evident when Zaid Jilani asked him about Israeli human rights abuses.

He quickly slinked onto Twitter with a series of tweets to retract what he said, claim that he “misspoke” (does anyone know what that word means?), apologize for it, and proclaim Hillary Clinton the fair and rightful winner:

I have been asked by friends about a quote and want to be clear about what I said and that I misspoke.

— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 9, 2017

As I've said repeatedly, we can't have a primary process where it is even perceived that a thumb was on the scale.

— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 9, 2017

Hillary became our nominee fair and square, and she won more votes in the primary—and general—than her opponents.

— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 9, 2017

To ensure there was no mistaking his loyalty oath, he made that last tweet his pinned tweet, ensuring it would sit at the top of his Twitter page. (He also included a couple of scripted, empty banalities about the importance of transparency, objectivity, and “fighting like hell“).

So in Tom Perez’s conduct, one sees the mentality and posture that has shaped the Democratic Party: a defense of jobs-killing free trade agreements that big corporate funders love; an inability to speak plainly and without desperately clinging to focus-grouped, talking-points scripts; a petrified fear of addressing controversial issues even (especially) when they involve severe human rights violations by allies; a religious-like commitment never to offend rich donors; and a limitless willingness to publicly abase oneself in pursuit of power by submitting to an apology ritual for having told the truth.

That is the template that has driven the Democratic Party into a ditch so deep and disastrous that even Vox acknowledges it without euphemisms. That is the template that has alienated voters across the country at all levels of elected office and that enabled the Donald Trump presidency. And it is the template that Democratic Party establishment leaders are more determined than ever to protect and further entrench by ensuring that yet another detached, lifeless functionary who embodies it becomes the next face of the party.

One can spend all of one’s time and energy denouncing Donald Trump. But until the systemic causes that gave rise to him are addressed and resolved, those denunciations will do little other than generate social media benefits and flattering applause from those already devoted to opposing him. Focusing on and attempting to counter the fundamental flaws of the Democratic Party is not a distraction from #TheResistance; it is a central priority, a prerequisite for any kind of success.

The post Tom Perez Apologizes for Telling the Truth, Showing Why Democrats’ Flaws Urgently Need Attention appeared first on The Intercept.

Leaked Trump Presidential Memo Would Free U.S. Companies to Buy Conflict Minerals From Central African Warlords

8 February 2017 - 4:01pm

The leaked draft of a presidential memorandum Donald Trump is expected to sign within days suspends a 2010 rule that discouraged American companies from funding conflict and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo through their purchase of  “conflict minerals.”

The memo, distributed inside the administration on Friday afternoon and obtained by The Intercept, directs the Securities and Exchange Commission to temporarily waive the requirements of the Conflict Mineral Rule, a provision of the Dodd Frank Act, for two years — which the rule explicitly allows the president to do  for national security purposes. The memorandum also directs the State Department and Treasury Department to find an alternative plan to “address such problems in the DRC and adjoining countries.”

The idea behind the rule, sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., was to drain militias of revenue by forcing firms to conduct reviews of their supply chain to determine if contractors used minerals sourced from the militias.

The impending decision comes as Trump held a meeting Wednesday with Brian Krzanich, the chief executive of Intel, one of the leading firms impacted by conflict mineral regulations. At the White House today, Krzanich appeared with the president to announce a new manufacturing plant in Arizona.

Thank you Brian Krzanich, CEO of @Intel. A great investment ($7 BILLION) in American INNOVATION and JOBS! #AmericaFirst???????? pic.twitter.com/76lAiSSQ1l

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017

Human rights advocates — who had celebrated the conflicts rule as a major step forward — were appalled. “Any executive action suspending the US conflict minerals rule would be a gift to predatory armed groups seeking to profit from Congo’s minerals as well as a gift to companies wanting to do business with the criminal and the corrupt,” said Carly Oboth, the policy adviser at Global Witness, in a statement responding to a Reuters article that first reported the move.

“It is an abuse of power that the Trump Administration is claiming that the law should be suspended through a national security exemption intended for emergency purposes.  Suspending this provision could actually undermine US national security.”

Advanced computer chips, including technology used in cell phones and semiconductors, contain minerals often sourced from war-torn countries in central Africa. Firms such as Intel, Apple, HP, and IBM use advanced chips that contain tantalum, gold, tin, and tungsten — elements that can be mined at low prices in the the DRC, where mines are often controlled by militias fueling a decades-long civil war.

American tech companies, such as Intel, lobbied directly on the rule when it was proposed. But since passage, tech firms have largely used third party business groups to stymie the rule. Trade groups representing major U.S. tech firms and other manufacturers, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, attempted to block the rule through a federal lawsuit. In 2014, a federal court struck down a part of the rule that forced firms to reveal DRC conflict minerals on their corporate websites.

Intel is also one of the firms that has touted its effort to comply with the law, publishing a report that notes the company has conducted 40 on-site reviews of smelters in the eastern DRC.

Reuters also reported that acting SEC chief Michael Piwowar has taken steps to also weaken enforcement, asking staff to “reconsider how companies should comply.”

Read the draft memo here:

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Top Photo: Mining workers stand on a muddy cliff as they work at a gold mine in north eastern Congo in 2009.

The post Leaked Trump Presidential Memo Would Free U.S. Companies to Buy Conflict Minerals From Central African Warlords appeared first on The Intercept.

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