Líder da oposição britânica é acusado de ser “colaborador” da Rússia por criticar avanço militarista
O líder do Partido Trabalhista do Reino Unido, Jeremy Corbyn, defendeu a redução das tensões entre a OTAN e a Rússia, e acrescentou em uma entrevista para a BBC na quinta-feira: “Gostaria de ver uma desmilitarização da fronteira entre os dois”. Assim como os EUA, o Reino Unido vem aumentando sua presença militar na região do Báltico rapidamente, inclusive nos países que fazem fronteira com a Rússia, e está prestes a enviar mais 800 soldados para a Estônia, dos quais 500 permanecerão na região.
Em resposta, a Rússia moveu suas tropas para essas fronteiras, intensificando as tensões militares entre diversos países que contam com armas nucleares. Ao longo de 2016, os exércitos russo e norte-americano realizaram manobras militares cada vez mais provocadoras e agressivas entre si. Nesta semana, os EUA começaram a enviar quatro mil tropas para Polônia, “o maior envio de tropas militares para a Europa desde o fim da Guerra Fria”.
Foi neste contexto que Corbyn disse ser “lamentável que as tropas tenham sido enviadas à fronteira em ambos os lados”, acrescentando que “gostaria de testemunhar um relacionamento melhor entre a Rússia, a OTAN e a UE”. O líder trabalhista explicou que, mesmo que a Rússia tenha cometido sérios abusos aos direitos humanos em seu próprio território e na Síria, “os dois lados devem buscar um relacionamento melhor… Não podemos retomar a mentalidade da Guerra Fria”.
A resposta ao apelo de Corbyn por um relacionamento melhor e pela redução das tensões com Moscou foi rápida e previsível. O ministro das forças armadas do governo de direita do Reino Unido, Mike Penning, acusou Corbyn de ser um colaborador do Kremlin:
“Esses comentários sugerem que o líder do Partido Trabalhista prefere colaborar com a agressão russa do que apoiar mutuamente os aliados do Reino Unido na OTAN. Assim como ocorreu no [caso da renovação do sistema britânico de mísseis] Trident, tudo o que o Partido Trabalhista diz e faz mostra que não podemos confiar neles para cuidar da segurança nacional do Reino Unido”.
Essa é a mesma fórmula propagandística que tem sido usada no ocidente há décadas, igualando a oposição ao militarismo a uma forma de deslealdade ou traição ao próprio país: quem se opõe ao confronto militar ou defende melhor relações com um adversário estrangeiro é acusado de ter uma simpatia secreta ou de apoiar tais líderes estrangeiros, e, muitas vezes, são suspeitos de serem “colaboradores” ativos (ou “fantoches”) deles.
Claro, essa tática de difamação foi usada inúmeras vezes durante a Guerra Fria contra aqueles que defendiam melhores relações ou um esfriamento do conflito com Moscou, mas tem sido usada repetidamente desde então sempre que chega a hora de enfrentar um “vilão estrangeiro” (os que eram contra a invasão do Iraque eram chamados de pró-Saddam, os que se opuseram à intervenção da Líbia eram apologistas de Gaddafi, os que criticavam os programar da Guerra ao Terrorismo era considerados defensores de terroristas e etc.).
Mas esse modelo vem recentemente sendo abusado, e usado mais amplamente do que nunca, como resultado do papel de destaque que a Rússia vem desempenhando na política dos EUA, sendo os russos responsabilizados por muitos democratas pela derrota de Hillary Clinton nas eleições presidenciais do ano passado. Putin agora ocupa a função de Principal Vilão no discurso ocidental, e, portanto, esse modelo retórico da Guerra Fria — onde qualquer um que se oponha ao confronto é um fantoche ou agente do Kremlin — vem sendo ressuscitado com extrema rapidez e naturalidade.
As convincentes justificativas para a preocupação de Corbyn sobre as tensões entre a OTAN e a Rússia são evidentes. Os EUA e a Rússia têm enormes arsenais de armas nucleares. Conforme descrito por Lawrence Krauss na New Yorker em outubro passado, os dois países, por diversas vezes, chegaram terrivelmente perto de uma guerra nuclear completa com potencial para destruir o planeta inteiro, e os sistemas ainda utilizados podem levar a erros apocalípticos através de falhas na comunicação, interpretação e erros em geral e confronto militar direto. Conforme apontado por Krauss:
“Em geral, durante a presidência de Obama, temos aprofundado nossa arriscada aceitação de armas nucleares. No momento, por volta de mil armas nucleares ainda estão sob alerta imediato; assim como na época da Guerra Fria, estão prontas para serem lançadas em poucos minutos em resposta a um alerta de ataque iminente”.
Não é um exagero dizer que talvez não haja nada mais imprudente ou perigoso do que a crescente tensão entre esses dois países. Por isso, é tão repugnante e nocivo caracterizar figuras como Corbyn como “colaboradores” ou traidores, apenas por se oporem a tal intensificação militar e beligerância. Mas isso é o roteiro que, mais uma vez, vem se tornando a ortodoxia dominante tanto em Washington quanto em Londres.
Vamos, por um instante, imaginar que essa estrutura fosse aplicada de forma consistente, em vez de ser aplicada de forma manipulativa. Os democratas estão apreensivos — e com razão — com a beligerância preliminar de Trump e seus assessores frente à China, que também detém armas nucleares, ao: aceitar uma ligação telefônica com o presidente de Taiwan, questionar abertamente a antiga Política de uma “China única”, sugerindo que os EUA interveriam militarmente para impedir que os chineses controlassem ilhas próximas não habitadas (esta última também foi sugerida pelo atual chefe da Frota Marítima dos EUA no Pacífico).
Mas, ao aplicar essa lógica russa a essas preocupações, não deveríamos acusar os democratas que se opõem a confrontar a China de serem “colaboradores” ou apologistas do regime ditatorial de Beijing, que prende dissidentes e tortura minorias étnicas e religiosas? Devemos questionar publicamente se os escritores progressistas que exigem que Trump abandone sua postura agressiva estão sendo pagos clandestinamente pelo Politburo do Partido Comunista da China ou talvez simplesmente agindo como “idiotas úteis”? Aqueles que se opõem às políticas bélicas de Trump devem ser acusados de se aliarem a um regime ditatorial em detrimento de seu próprio presidente e país?
Claro que a resposta para todas essas perguntas é não. Ser profundamente cauteloso com aqueles que buscam intensificar as tensões entre países com grandes arsenais nucleares não é apenas a coisa racional a se fazer, é moralmente compulsório. No mínimo, devemos estar livres para debater essas políticas sem sermos difamados como se fossemos traidores. Essa ideia se aplica à China, assim como à Rússia. E aqueles que levantam tais preocupações não devem ter sua lealdade e integridade questionada, como ocorreu com Corbyn, pelos novos combatentes da velha Guerra Fria.
* * * * *
Para contextualizar a tensão entre a OTAN e a Rússia de que tão pouco se fala na imprensa ocidental, recomendo os seguintes itens:
(1) Esse artigo da Foreign Affairs do cientista político da Universidade de Chicago, John J. Mearsheimer, sobre a incansável e agressiva marcha do Ocidente em direção a fronteira russa e suas consequências;
(2) Este trecho da entrevista de Noam Chomsky com o jornalista alemão Tilo Jung – começando em 40:30 – que explica o contexto histórico da aproximação da OTAN à fronteira russa, como ela é interpretada por Moscou e, principalmente, por que são incomparáveis os riscos que esse comportamento apresenta:
The post Líder da oposição britânica é acusado de ser “colaborador” da Rússia por criticar avanço militarista appeared first on The Intercept.
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated annually on a federal holiday on the third Monday of January. Politicians across the political spectrum put out statements praising his life’s work, and children in classrooms across America are told the tale of a man who stood up defiantly against racism and helped changed civil rights law.
But what they don’t mention is that King was not just a fighter for racial justice, he also fought for economic justice and against war. And as a result, he spent the last years of his life, before being assassinated in 1968, clashing not just with reactionary Southern segregationists, but with the Democratic Party’s elite and other civil rights leaders, who viewed his turn against the Vietnam War and the American economic system as dangerous and radical.
This “Santa Clausification” of King, as scholar Cornel West calls it — the portrayal of King as a celebrated consensus seeker asking for common sense racial reforms rather than as an anti-establishment radical — downplays the risks one of America’s most revered activists took to live according to conscience.
The Backlash Against King’s Opposition to the Vietnam War
While working alongside Democratic President Lyndon Johnson on civil rights issues, King was also increasingly disturbed by the war in Vietnam, and he would raise the issue privately with Johnson in White House calls and meetings. In April 1967, King decided to publicly denounce the war and call for its end. He gave a speech at Riverside Church in New York City where he called the U.S. government the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world” and denounced napalm bombings and the propping up of a puppet government in South Vietnam. He also called for a total re-examination of U.S. foreign policy, questioning capitalist exploitation of the developing world.
Many in the civil rights community warned King to focus on black civil rights and ignore the war so as not to alienate the Democratic Party. His Riverside Church speech explicitly rejected that demand, arguing that what America was doing across the world could not be morally segregated from what it was doing to African-Americans:
For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. […] Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.
The reaction from the American political establishment — much of it traditionally associated with American liberalism — was swift and harsh. The New York Times editorial board blasted King for linking the war in Vietnam to the struggles of civil rights and poverty alleviation in the United States, saying it was “too facile a connection” and that he was doing a “disservice” to both causes. It concluded that there “are no simple answers to the war in Vietnam or to racial injustice in this country.” The Washington Post editorial board said King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people.” In all, 168 newspapers denounced him the next day.
President Johnson stopped taking meetings with King. “What is that goddamned nigger preacher doing to me?” Johnson reportedly remarked after the speech. “We gave him the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we gave him the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we gave him the War on Poverty. What more does he want?”
One Harris poll conducted after King’s Vietnam speech found that only 25 percent of even African-Americans supported him in his antiwar turn — “only 9 percent of the public at large agreed with his objections to the war.”
Many in the civil rights community split with King over the war. The NAACP under the leadership of Roy Wilkins refused to oppose the war and explicitly condemned the effort to link the peace and civil rights movements. Whitney Johnson, the leader of the National Urban League warned that “Johnson needs a consensus. If we are not with him on Vietnam, then he is not going to be with us on civil rights.”
Jackie Robinson, the celebrated African-American baseball player and civil rights advocate, wrote to President Johnson two weeks after King’s speech to distance himself from the civil rights leader: “While I am certain your faith has been shaken by demonstrations against the Viet Nam war, I hope the actions of any one individual does not make you feel as Vice President Humphrey does, that Dr. King’s stand will hurt the civil rights movement. It would not be fair to the thousands of our Negro fighting men who are giving their lives because they believe, in most instances, that our Viet Nam stand is just.”
“Formula for Discord”
King had long considered himself a socialist, In 1966, he told staff at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that “there must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. Call it what you may, call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.”
The last years of King’s life saw him escalate his campaign against economic inequality. He campaigned against the Oklahoma right-to-work referendum and warned that increased economic competition between whites and blacks would undermine civil rights — calling instead for a “Grand Alliance” between working-class whites and blacks.
He sought to use many of the same tactics he deployed in the South — boycotts, sit-ins, blockades — against economic injustice in inner cities in the North where African-Americans were trapped in endemic poverty. An article from the August 15, 1967, issue of The New York Times writes up King’s desire to “dislocate” large cities to force them to address these needs:
The editorial board of the liberal Times was less than pleased with King’s choice of tactics. The Times called the proposed campaign a “formula for discord” and warned against mass civil disobedience, writing that “once the spark of massive law-defiance is applied in the present overheated atmosphere, the potentiality for disaster becomes overwhelming”:
In 1968, he launched the Poor People’s Campaign, aimed at providing good jobs, housing, and a decent standard of living to all Americans. Decades before American protesters took to the streets of New York City and other locales to “occupy” space to protest inequality, King proposed a massive tent encampment in Washington, D.C., to demand action on poverty.
King was assassinated before he was able to set up the encampment, called Resurrection City. His widow Coretta Scott King, as well as fellow civil-rights leader Ralph David Abernathy, went ahead with the plan.
The camp lasted six weeks until police moved in to shut it down and evict all of its inhabitants, pointing to sporadic acts of hooliganism as justification. Andrew Young, the young civil rights leader who later went on to be Jimmy Carter’s U.N. ambassador and a mayor of Atlanta, was horrified, saying the crushing of the camp was worse than the police violence he saw in the South.
“It was worse than anything I saw in Mississippi or Alabama,” he said. “You don’t shoot tear gas into an entire city because two or three hooligans are throwing rocks.”
The post What the “Santa Clausification” of Martin Luther King Jr. Leaves Out appeared first on The Intercept.
The bizarre saga of potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has created a genuine emergency in American politics. This isn’t necessarily because of Russia’s actual actions — unless the most peculiar allegations turn out to be accurate — but because of Donald Trump’s response, and what this indicates about how he’ll govern.
Ignore the Trump “dossier” for the moment and forget the baseless conjecture about Russia hacking the U.S. voting process itself. All we need to know about Trump and the Republican Party can be found in their position on the simplest, most plausible part of the story: that Russia was behind the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and John Podesta.
Is this in fact what happened? Certainly the Obama administration did itself no favors by failing to release any of the evidence underlying the strong conclusions in the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s report. But Trump himself said at last week’s press conference, presumably based on a classified briefing, that “I think it was Russia.” Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, agreed during his confirmation hearings. There’s also the crucial dog that hasn’t barked: Unlike during the lead up to the Iraq War, no one from the intelligence agencies has been leaking doubts or claims that they’re being leaned on by the White House to provide the desired conclusion.
Under these circumstances, the reaction of anyone who actually cares about the United States has to be: We must investigate this with great seriousness and impartiality and find out exactly what happened. This requires an independent commission with sufficient funding, a broad mandate and legal authority that Congress creates but then can no longer influence.
Nothing should be less controversial than this. Whatever a nation’s political disagreements, in any functioning democracy there’s just one position on this issue: Only citizens can participate in deciding who governs it.
In every other circumstance Republicans love wrapping themselves in the flag and vowing to protect us from dastardly foreigners, even if this requires renaming the french fries in the congressional cafeteria. Few do this more than Trump himself, whose entire campaign was about the apocalyptic danger posed to us by China, Mexico, the freeloaders of NATO, Muslims from anywhere, and so on. Yet on the subject of Russia and this election he’s suddenly indifferent — even though fear of this type of foreign influence doesn’t require jingoistic xenophobia but just a rational, healthy belief in small-d democratic self-determination.
This is one of the key topics of George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address, the most famous political rhetoric in American history until the Gettysburg Address. “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence,” Washington warned, “the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”
Washington was particularly concerned by the “common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party” – that is, loyalty to your own faction within the country above the country overall. This, he said, “opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions” and allows other countries to “practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils.”
Trump and the GOP are now busy proving how prescient Washington was. Trump has not endorsed an independent investigation of any Russian actions aimed at the election, nor released the financial information that would clarify any business relationships he has with Russians or Russian banks. Moreover, he can’t even bring himself to pretend in public that any of it matters much (although it’s hard to tell whether this is because he fears we’ll find out something nefarious he did or simply because his ego can’t bear his victory being thrown into doubt). Of all of Trump’s violations of basic democratic norms, his indifference to this most basic principle of self-government is the most shocking of all.
Meanwhile, most congressional Republicans are hoping to quietly bury this issue in rigged, limited investigations that you can be sure will take so long that no one will remember what it was all about by the time they’re done. Their faction has power, and that’s all they care about.
There are, of course, endless potential quibbles with and distractions from this central reality. But none of them amount to much.
Do we know that the release of emails changed the outcome of the election? No, and it’s possible they didn’t. So what? Interference in our elections should be unacceptable under any circumstances.
Aren’t we hugely hypocritical for complaining about this, given America’s overbearing interventions in dozens of other countries? It depends on who “we” are. Yes, the CIA and U.S. political leaders have no grounds to object to this. But regular Americans do, just as regular Iranians, Guatemalans, Chileans and many, many others have every right to object to what we’ve done.
Do many of the those pushing this, such as Arizona Senator John McCain, want to use this as an excuse to start a new cold war with Russia? Absolutely. Moreover, they also embody exactly what Washington meant when he said that concern about foreign influence “must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it.” McCain and company are perfectly fine with foreign influence on U.S. politics when it originates with Saudi Arabia or Israel. But if we don’t find out what truly happened, that space won’t be filled with a reasonable appraisal of our relations with Russia but with more dangerous, crazed speculation.
And finally, are elite Democrats using this subject as as excuse for their own spectacular failures? Yes, of course. But again, ignoring this won’t make them face reality; instead they’ll fall further down a comforting rabbit hole. As Bernie Sanders has said on this subject, “You gotta walk and chew bubble gum” — i.e., both investigate what happened and rebuild progressive forces around the country.
So what’s most deeply frightening about this whole story isn’t what Russia did or didn’t do. It’s that Trump’s response and the Republican blessing of it is Trump’s most powerful demonstration that absolutely all bets are off. If he’ll do this, there’s nothing he won’t do, and nothing the GOP won’t let him get away with.
The post The Real Reason Any Russian Meddling Is an Emergency appeared first on The Intercept.
Publicado em cooperação com Mongabay. Read a version of this article in English here.
“É um tempo de morte. Os Munduruku vão começar a morrer. Vão começar a se acidentar e até acidente simples vai matar o Munduruku. Vai cair raio e matar o índio. O índio vai tá trabalhando na roça e um pau vai cair em cima do índio e não é à toa que o pau vai cair em cima dele. Ponta de pau afiado vai furar o índio que estiver caçando. E é impacto porque o governo mexeu no lugar sagrado”.
Krixi Biwün (ou Valmira Krixi Munduruku, como consta em seu batismo cristão) é uma guerreira e importante matriarca da aldeia Teles Pires, localizada à margem direita do rio de mesmo nome na divisa entre Pará e Mato Grosso (ver mapa). A sabedoria sobre antigas histórias de seu povo fazem de Biwün uma grande liderança da aldeia. Seu conhecimento tradicional ensina desde como se deve banhar uma menina com ervas para que se torne uma brava guerreira até as histórias da cosmologia de seu povo.
O local sagrado a que se refere a matriarca Munduruku era um trecho encachoeirado do rio Teles Pires conhecido como Sete Quedas ou Paribixexe em Munduruku. Em 2013, o consórcio responsável pela construção da usina hidrelétrica de Teles Pires — composto pelas empresas Odebrecht, Voith, Alston, PCE e Intertechne — obteve autorização judicial para iniciar a obra e acabou com as corredeiras. Ao explodir as pedras e abrir o leito do rio, o empreendimento destruiu também o que, na cosmologia dos povos indígenas da região, seria o equivalente ao “céu” ou “paraíso” na cultura cristã.
“A gente tinha esse lugar sagrado e quando morria ia pra lá. Mas como o governo agora tá dinamitando tudo, mesmo indo pra ser espírito, a gente vai acabar. A gente vai morrer no espírito também”, acrescenta a matriarca.
As 90 famílias da aldeia que visitamos são uma pequena parte da população Munduruku, que soma cerca de 13 mil índios distribuídos por 112 aldeias concentradas no alto Tapajós. O povo Munduruku já ocupou a bacia do Tapajós de forma tão ampla que “ainda no Brasil colonial, todo o rio Tapajós chegou a ser conhecido pelos europeus como ‘Mundurukânia’”, explica Bruna Rocha, professora de arqueologia da Universidade Federal do Oeste do Pará.
A rápida expansão da exploração da borracha na segunda metade do século XIX e, mais tarde, as investidas das missões evangelizadoras e do próprio Estado com propósitos de “assimilar” os povos indígenas à “sociedade nacional”, levaram os munduruku a perder muito de seu território. “Restaram fragmentos no baixo Tapajós e bolsões maiores no curso superior do rio, que representam apenas uma fração do que já ocuparam no passado”, completa a arqueóloga.
Esses fragmentos do território Munduruku sofrem cada vez mais os impactos de grandes hidrelétricas que vêm sendo construídas e planejadas na região. Brent Millikan, diretor do Programa da Amazônia da ONG International Rivers, explica que, após a liberação da construção da hidrelétrica de Belo Monte, no rio Xingu, em 2011, a meta do governo passou a ser o rio Teles Pires.
“Quatro barragens estão sendo construídas simultaneamente. Duas muito perto de terras indígenas, Teles Pires e São Manoel. São Manoel fica a 300 metros da fronteira de uma TI onde vivem grupos Munduruku, Kayabi e Apiaká, com impactos diretos na vida desses povos, e tem previsão de desviar o rio para encher seu reservatório no início de 2017” (ver Mapa).
Millikan relata que, diferente de Belo Monte – obra com ampla repercussão midiática nacional e internacional -, “os projetos do rio Teles Pires correram na surdina graças a uma combinação de fatores: dificuldade de acesso ao local, construções menos ‘grandiosas’ – para usar as palavras de Dilma Rousseff – desinteresse da grande imprensa e a pouca presença de entidades da sociedade civil que pudessem apoiar os grupos ameaçados”.
Assim como o resto da sociedade, os Munduruku também não sabiam o quanto seriam prejudicados com a implementação das barragens. “O governo nunca informou a gente. O governo sempre falou coisa boa, que vai acontecer coisa boa, mas ele nunca contou o impacto que podia trazer”, ressente-se o cacique Disma Muo.
“Nós nunca aceitamos o projeto e, quando protestamos, o governo disse que a terra não é dos índios. Que a terra é do governo, então, não tem como os índios impedir e eles constroem o que eles querem”, continuou Muo.
Não é bem o que diz a lei. Embora, tecnicamente, as terras indígenas sejam de propriedade da União, os povos indígenas têm usufruto exclusivo e perpétuo sobre tais territórios. Além disso, a obrigação de ouvir e consultar os índios é indiscutível.
Rodrigo Oliveira, mestre em direito e assessor do Ministério Público Federal (MPF) em Santarém, explica que, como era evidente que haveria impactos a povos e comunidades tradicionais, o governo brasileiro estava obrigado a consultá-los de maneira prévia, livre e informada. “A consulta deve ocorrer desde os primeiros passos do licenciamento e ser anterior a qualquer tomada de decisão. Esse processo de consulta se torna obrigatório em decorrência de o Brasil ser signatário da Convenção nº. 169 da Organização Internacional do Trabalho (OIT)”.
Em resposta a ações ajuizadas pelo MPF, a Justiça Federal de Mato Grosso chegou a parar as obras das barragens em decorrência do descumprimento da obrigatoriedade da Consulta Prévia, uma vez que havia evidências de que os índios enfrentariam “danos iminentes e irreversíveis para sua qualidade de vida e seu patrimônio”. Porém, sempre que o MPF obtinha vitórias em favor dos povos indígenas, os grandes interesses do setor energético as derrubavam em instâncias superiores.
Em grande medida, essa dinâmica ocorreu porque, durante os treze anos de gestão federal do PT, intensificou-se o uso de um mecanismo chamado “Suspensão de Segurança”. Trata-se de um instrumento jurídico amplamente empregado pela ditadura militar, em que uma decisão judicial fundamentada legalmente pode ser revertida em instância superior em nome da “segurança nacional”, da “ordem pública” ou da “economia nacional”.
Segundo o Procurador da República Luís de Camões Lima Boaventura, “dados levantados pelo MPF concluem que, apenas em relação aos projetos hidrelétricos da bacia do Teles Pires-Tapajós, obtivemos 80% de vitórias em ações judiciais que buscavam o ajuste de tais empreendimentos à legalidade. Nenhuma dessas decisões foi observada. Todas foram revertidas por suspensão de segurança”.
Em março de 2016, o Brasil recebeu a visita de Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, relatora especial da ONU sobre povos indígenas, que também mostrou preocupação com o uso da suspensão de segurança. A relatora da ONU referiu-se ao instrumento jurídico como um grande obstáculo à defesa dos direitos dos povos indígenas no judiciário brasileiro.
“Eu diria que a Amazônia não tem sido vista como um território a ser conquistado. Pior, tem sido vista como um território a ser saqueado. A exploração que em regra aqui se pratica é predação”, diz Procurador da República Luís de Camões Lima Boaventura.Um mundo que deixou de existir
Além da destruição das cachoeiras, os Munduruku sofreram também outro forte baque imposto pela usina Teles Pires: a retirada de doze urnas mortuárias e peças arqueológicas com dimensão sagrada de uma região próxima a Sete Quedas.
Referindo-se a esse patrimônio, o Cacique Disma Muo – que também é pajé (uma autoridade espiritual) da aldeia – explica: “toda cerâmica, flecha, borduna, tudo é sagrado. Porque foram colocados no tempo em que a gente guerreava e que a gente trafegava muito e fomos deixando lá, escolhendo o local para ser sagrado e hoje está sendo destruído pela hidrelétrica”.
O ancião Eurico Krixi Munduruku também demonstra muita angústia com a profanação das urnas: “Não era pra mexer de jeito nenhum. E não é o branco que vai pagar por isso. Somos nós, os Munduruku vivos, que vamos pagar, em forma de acidente, em forma de doença, em… em morte de índio Munduruku. Os antepassados deixaram lá pra gente proteger. É guerreiro vivo que tem que proteger aquelas urnas”.
A resolução da questão não parece próxima. Levando adiante o desencontro e atropelo históricos aos valores indígenas, o Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (Iphan), tem, nesse caso, um papel de destaque. Primeiro por ter, polemicamente, autorizado tais escavações sem a aceitação do povo Munduruku; segundo, por já ter afirmado que as urnas são patrimônio público federal, que não serão reenterradas e que compete ao Iphan determinar qual museu receberá o material.
O arqueólogo Francisco Pugliese, pesquisador do Laboratório de Arqueologia dos Trópicos do Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia da Universidade de São Paulo, é um crítico feroz da atuação do Iphan nesse processo. Para ele, “o órgão desobrigou o empreendedor a cumprir as pesquisas que deveriam ser feitas com o povo Munduruku para a proteção de seus lugares sagrados, uma vez que aquela etnia se posiciona contrariamente à implantação de barragens em seus territórios, desrespeitando a legislação sobre o tema e criando o precedente para que situações como essa sejam replicadas em contextos semelhantes”.
“O fato dos Munduruku não terem aceitado participar dos estudos arqueológicos impedia que o Iphan autorizasse os trabalhos. Assim, a licença concedida para as escavações à revelia desse povo sobrepôs o direito da União ao direito cultural e territorial Munduruku, resultando na violação dos cemitérios e na expropriação dos remanescentes de seus antepassados”. – arqueólogo Francisco Pugliese.
A reportagem tentou várias vezes entrar em contato com Iphan mas não foi concedida uma entrevista. As urnas, hoje, são alvo de ação na Justiça Federal e estão armazenadas pela Companhia Hidrelétrica Teles Pires (CHTP), na cidade de Alta Floresta (MT) e não nos foi permitido vê-las.
A profanação de locais sagrados reflete-se no cotidiano material dos índios. Para os Munduruku, a explosão das corredeiras iniciou uma destruição em cadeia: “a explosão da dinamite no local sagrado é o fim da religião, é o fim da cultura. É o fim do povo Munduruku. Quando eles dinamitaram a cachoeira, eles mataram as Mães dos Peixes e a Mães das Caças. Então, vão morrer esses animais e esses peixes, com que a gente é envolvido. E isso é o fim do Munduruku”, explica Eurico Krixi.
“O que diria o homem branco se nós construíssemos nossas aldeias em cima de suas propriedades, de seus santuários e cemitérios?” Manifesto dos povos Munduruku, Apiaká e Kaiaby, fruto de reunião dos indígenas em 2011 em protesto contra a construção das hidrelétricas.
Recentemente, em 2 de dezembro de 2016, o MPF obteve a segunda vitória da ação judicial que já havia parado as obras das usinas pela falta da consulta prévia. A 5ª Turma do Tribunal Regional Federal da 1ª Região (TRF1), por unanimidade, reconheceu em mais uma instância a ilegalidade da UHE Teles Pires. Os desembargadores ordenaram a realização de consulta livre, prévia e informada, nos moldes previstos na Convenção 169 da OIT, com os povos indígenas Kayabi, Munduruku e Apiaká, atingidos pelo empreendimento. Em seu voto, o desembargador Antônio Souza Prudente chamou a atenção à destruição de Sete Quedas.
A realização da consulta prévia já havia sido ordenada em 1ª instância, mas a Companhia Hidrelétrica Teles Pires recorreu. Agora, a Justiça também considerou inválida a licença de instalação da usina concedida pelo Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente (Ibama). Entretanto, assim como a primeira, esta decisão do Tribunal não vai entrar em vigor. Por conta do recurso da suspensão de segurança, apesar da reiterada ilegalidade da obra, nenhuma decisão judicial tem efeito até que o processo seja julgado em última instância, que no caso, é o Supremo Tribunal Federal.
“O Estado-Nação estabelece uma hierarquia de valores a partir de critérios como classe, origem social, cor e etnia. Nessa subordinação classificatória, determinados grupos têm valores que ‘importam menos’, e são tidos como culturalmente inferiores e passíveis de serem simplesmente apagados”, explica pesquisadora Rosamaria Loures, estudiosa da resistência Munduruku.
Marcelo Manhuary Munduruku, que vive na TI Apiaká-Kaiaby, em Juara (MT), sofre na pele o dia-a-dia desse racismo: “O etnocídio continua hoje. Com o olhar que o pessoal tem sobre a gente, querendo que a gente seja igual a eles, subjugando as organizações nossas. Dizendo que a nossa religião n?o vale, que vale a deles. Dizendo que o nosso comportamento é errado, que Deus não é esse, que Deus é aquele. Desconfigurando aquilo que é a identidade do indígena”.
Esta matéria é da série exclusiva “Tapajós sob Ataque”, escrita pela jornalista Sue Branford e pelo cientista social Mauricio Torres, que percorrem a bacia Tapajós. A série é produzida em colaboração com Mongabay, portal independente de jornalismo ambiental. Leia a versão em inglês. Acompanhe outras reportagens no The Intercept Brasil ao longo das próximas semanas.
Agradecemos o Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV) e a International Rivers pelo apoio logístico na região do rio Teles Pires.
The post Hidrelétricas avançam sobre terras e vidas Munduruku appeared first on The Intercept.
The leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, called for a “de-escalation” of tensions between NATO and Russia, adding in a BBC interview on Thursday: “I want to see a de-militarisation of the border between them.” Along with the U.S., the UK has been rapidly building up its military presence in the Baltic region, including states which border Russia, and is now about to send another 800 troops to Estonia, 500 of which will be permanently based.
In response, Russia has moved its own troops within its country near those borders, causing serious military tensions to rise among multiple nuclear-armed powers. Throughout 2016, the Russian and U.S. militaries have engaged in increasingly provocative and aggressive maneuvers against one another. This week, the U.S. began deploying 4,000 troops to Poland, “the biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the cold war.”
It was in this context that Corbyn said it is “unfortunate that troops have gone up to the border on both sides,” adding that “he wanted to see better relations between Russia, NATO and the EU.” The Labour leader explained that while Russia has engaged in serious human rights abuses both domestically and in Syria, there must be a “better relationships between both sides . . . there cannot be a return to a Cold War mentality.”
The response to Corbyn’s call for better relations and de-escalation of tensions with Moscow was swift and predictable. The armed forces minister for Britain’s right-wing government, Mike Penning, accused Corbyn of being a collaborator with the Kremlin:
“These comments suggest that the Labour leader would rather collaborate with Russian aggression than mutually support Britain’s Nato allies. As with Trident, everything Labour says and does shows that they cannot be trusted with Britain’s national security.”
This is the same propagandistic formulation that has been used for decades in the west to equate opposition to militarism with some form of disloyalty or treason: if you oppose military confrontation with a foreign adversary or advocate better relations with it, then you are accused of harboring secret sympathy and even support for those foreign leaders, and are often suspected of being an active “collaborator” with (or “stooge” for) them.
This lowly smear tactic was, of course, deployed over and over during the Cold War with regard to those who argued for improved relations or a reduction of conflict with Moscow, but it has been repeatedly used since then as well every time it comes time to confront a new Foreign Villain (those opposed to the invasion of Iraq were pro-Saddam, those who opposed intervention in Libya were Gaddafi apologists, those who objected to War on Terror programs are terrorist-sympathizers, etc. etc.).
But this template has recently become super-charged, more widely invoked than ever, as a result of the starring role Russia now plays in U.S. domestic politics, where many Democrats blame them for Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Putin now occupies the role of Prime Villain in western discourse, and this Cold War rhetorical template – anyone opposing confrontation is a Kremlin operative or stooge – has thus been resurrected with extraordinary speed and ease.
The compelling justifications for Corbyn’s concerns about NATO/Russia tensions are self-evident. The U.S. and Russia have massive arsenals of nuclear weapons. As Lawrence Krauss detailed in the New Yorker in October, the two countries have come horrendously close to full-on, earth-destroying nuclear war on several occasions in the past, and the systems they still maintain are conducive to apocalyptic error through miscommunication, misperception and error, let alone direct military confrontation. As Krauss noted:
“In general, during the Obama Presidency, we have only deepened our dangerous embrace of nuclear weapons. At the moment, around a thousand nuclear weapons are still on a hair-trigger alert; as they were during the Cold War, they are ready to be launched in minutes in response to a warning of imminent attack.”
It is not hyperbole to say that perhaps nothing is more reckless,more dangerous, than ratcheting up tensions between these two countries. That’s what makes it so repellent and toxic to demonize those such as Corbyn as “collaborators” or traitors merely because they oppose this escalation and belligerence. But this is the script that – once again – is quickly becoming mainstream orthodoxy in both Washington and London.
Let us, for a moment, imagine if this framework were applied consistently rather than manipulatively. Democrats have been alarmed – rightfully so – by the preliminary belligerence of Trump and his top aides toward nuclear-armed China: accepting a call from Taiwan’s president, openly questioning the decades-old “One China” policy, suggesting the U.S. would militarily intervene to prevent Chinese control over nearby uninhabited islands (the latter was also suggested by the current head of the U.S. Pacific fleet).
But applying the prevailing Russia logic to these concerns, should one not accuse these Democrats objecting to confrontation with China of being “collaborators” with and apologists for the dictatorial regime in Beijing, which imprisons dissidents and tortures ethnic and religious minorities? Should we publicly ponder whether the liberal writers demanding that Trump cease his aggressive posture are being clandestinely paid by the Chinese Politburo or merely acting as “useful idiots” for it? Should those objecting to Trump’s belligerent policies be accused of siding with a dictatorial regime over their own President and country?
Of course none of those things should happen, because it is not only rational but morally compulsory to be deeply wary of those who seek to escalate tensions between countries with large nuclear arsenals. At the very least, one should be free to debate these policies without being smeared as a traitor. That applies to China, and it applies to Russia. And those who voice such concerns should not, as Corbyn just was, have their loyalties and integrity be impugned by our new Cold Warriors.
* * * * *
For the crucial context on NATO/Russia tension that is very rarely heard in the western press, I highly recommend these two items:
(1) This new Foreign Affairs article by University of Chicago political scientist John J. Mearsheimer on the west’s relentless, aggressive march eastward up to Russian borders and its consequences;
(2) The passage of this interview with Noam Chomsky by German journalist Tilo Jung – beginning at 40:30 – that explains the crucial historical context of NATO’s march eastward toward Russia, how that is perceived in Moscow, and, most important of all, why the dangers this behavior creates are incomparable:
The post Jeremy Corbyn Accused of Being Russian “Collaborator” for Questioning NATO Troop Build-Up on Border appeared first on The Intercept.
As comemorações do nascimento de Martin Luther King Jr. sempre se concentram no ativismo dele na área de direitos civis: as manifestações não violentas que levaram à promulgação da Lei dos Direitos Civis, em 1964, e à Lei do Direito ao Voto, em 1965, nos EUA.
Porém, os últimos anos da vida do Dr. King normalmente são ignorados. Quando foi assassinado, em 1968, o ativista estava no meio de uma ampla campanha contra a desigualdade econômica e a pobreza, ao mesmo tempo que protestava intensamente contra a Guerra do Vietnã.
Essa campanha teve sua origem intelectual nas primeiras décadas de vida de King, que cresceu incomodado com os excessos do capitalismo à sua volta, mesmo enquanto se dedicava à causa dos direitos civis. No verão americano de 1952, o pastor escreveu uma carta descrevendo suas preocupações para Coretta Scott, com quem havia começado a namorar alguns meses antes. Na carta, concluía que o “capitalismo havia ultrapassado sua utilidade”:
Imagino que você saiba que sou muito mais socialista quanto à teoria econômica do que capitalista. E, ainda assim, não me oponho tanto ao capitalismo a ponto de não conseguir enxergar seus méritos relativos. Tudo começou por um motivo nobre e superior, isto é, acabar com os monopólios comerciais dos nobres, mas, assim como ocorre na maioria dos sistemas humanos, acabou por vítima daquele contra quem inicialmente se revoltava. Portanto, o capitalismo ultrapassou sua utilidade Acabou por introduzir um sistema que tira coisas necessárias das massas para oferecer luxo às classes altas.
Oficiais do governo monitoravam o seu crescente radicalismo e o temiam. “King é tão importante hoje em dia que parece Marx vindo à Casa Branca”, reclamou o presidente John F. Kennedy em 1963, enquanto King intensificava sua campanha não violenta no sul dos EUA. O presidente autorizou seu irmão, o procurador-geral Bobby Kennedy, a grampear King e seus assessores.
Em 1966, King disse à sua equipe na Conferência de Líderes Cristãos do Sul que “deve haver uma melhor distribuição da riqueza e, talvez, os EUA devam se direcionar a um socialismo democrático. Chame como preferir, chame de democracia ou chame de socialismo democrático, mas deve haver uma melhor distribuição da riqueza neste país dentre todos os filhos de Deus”.
King também vinha ficando mais preocupado com a guerra no Vietnã a ponto de levantar a questão em conversas particulares com o presidente Lyndon Johnson por telefone e em reuniões na Casa Branca.
Em abril de 1967, King fez um discurso na Igreja de Riverside, em Nova York, em que chamou o governo dos EUA de “maior gerador de violência do mundo” e criticou os bombardeios de napalm e o apoio a um governo de marionetes no Vietnã do Sul.
A reação do establishment ao discurso de King foi amarga. O conselho editorial do New York Times criticou King por associar a guerra no Vietnã às dificuldades relacionadas aos direitos civis e à pobreza nos EUA, dizendo ser “uma conexão muito superficial e que, dessa forma, fazia um “desserviço” a ambas as causas. O jornal conclui alegando “não haver respostas simples para a Guerra no Vietnã nem para a injustiça racial neste país”. O conselho editorial do Washington Post disse que King havia “depreciado sua capacidade de contribuição à sua causa, a seu país e a seu povo”. Ao todo, 168 jornais o criticaram no dia seguinte ao discurso.
O presidente Johnson cortou relações com King imediatamente. “O que esse maldito pastor preto está fazendo comigo?”, teria dito Johnson após o discurso. “Demos a Lei de Direitos Civis de 1964 para ele, demos a Lei de Direito ao Voto de 1964, demos a Guerra contra a Pobreza. O que mais ele quer?”
“Daquele momento em diante, King ficaria do lado de fora, em um protesto, cantando palavras de ordem pela paz através dos portões de ferro forjado”, observou o historiador Harvard Sitkoff.
Uma pesquisa do grupo Harris conduzida após o discurso de King sobre o Vietnã concluiu que apenas 25% dos próprios americanos de origem africana apoiavam King e seu posicionamento contra a guerra — “apenas 9% da sociedade americana concorda com a oposição do pastor à guerra”.
Apesar da reação negativa das elites e da sociedade em geral, King continuava a lutar pela causa. Em 1967, fez um sermão da noite de Natal para a congregação da Igreja Batista de Ebenezer, em Atlanta, em que atacava não somente o capitalismo americano, mas o sistema de mercado global que não atendia às necessidades dos pobres em todo o mundo.
“Comecei pensando sobre o fato de que aqui mesmo, em nosso país, gastamos milhões de dólares todos os dias para armazenar alimentos excedentes”, pregou. “E pensei comigo mesmo: ‘Eu sei onde armazenar esses alimentos de forma gratuita — nos estômagos vazios de milhões de filhos de Deus na Ásia, África, América Latina e até mesmo em nossa própria nação, que vão dormir com fome’.”
Durante a campanha de direitos civis, King também organizava trabalhadores, como por exemplo, quando fez uma campanha contra o referendo do direito ao trabalho de Oklahoma e alertou que o aumento da competição econômica entre brancos e negros prejudicaria os direitos civis — defendendo uma “Grande Aliança” entre brancos e negros da classe trabalhadora.
Com a Campanha do Pobres, iniciada em 1968, King intensificou essa campanha, destinada a criar bons empregos, habitação e um padrão de vida decente para todos os americanos. Décadas antes de os manifestantes americanos irem às ruas de Nova York e de outras cidades para “ocupar” o espaço em protesto à desigualdade econômica, King propôs um grande acampamento de barracas em Washington D.C. para exibir medidas contra a pobreza. Veja aqui um artigo da Associated Press sobre a campanha:
King nunca viu os frutos dessa campanha. O pastor foi assassinado naquele mesmo ano enquanto organizava greves com os funcionários do saneamento básico de Memphis.
O presidente da Conferência de Líderes Cristãos do Sul, Ralph Abernathy, e Coretta Scott King levaram adiante o plano, armando tendas e barracas no Passeio Nacional em Washington D.C. Chamado de “Cidade da Ressurreição”, o acampamento durou um mês até ser desmontado à força pelo Departamento do Interior.
As taxas de aprovação de King são muito mais altas décadas depois de sua morte do que enquanto estava vivo. Em 1987, 76% dos americanos tinham uma visão favorável do líder ativista. Mas muitos ainda aprendem uma versão simplificada de sua vida, voltada apenas para uma das três dimensões que o definiam. Durante o discurso do Vietnã que transformou o establishment contra ele, King criticou “o grande tripé de racismo, materialismo extremo e militarismo”.
Foto principal: Martin Luther King Jr. acompanhado do renomado pediatra Benjamin Spock, do pastor Frederick Reed e do líder sindical Cleveland Robinson durante protesto contra a Guerra do Vietnã em 16 de março de 1967.
The post Comemorações do aniversário de Martin Luther King ignoram críticas ao capitalismo e militarismo appeared first on The Intercept.
AFTER SADDAM HUSSEIN, after the U.S. invasion, after the Islamic State, what will Iraq ultimately look like? The future of Iraq, its borders, economy, religious and cultural identity, is a matter of constant speculation for foreign policy experts.
Now there’s a literary response, in the form of a new collection of short fiction, Iraq +100: Stories from a Century After the Invasion. In the book, Iraqi writers who are inside the country and outside it imagine their homeland one hundred years from the fateful month of March 2003, when the U.S. invasion began. Iraq +100 is a fine example of critical dystopia, a genre that the writer Junot Diaz recently described as “not just something that is ‘the bad place.’ It is something that maps, warns, and hopes.”
Iraq +100 was edited by Hassan Blasim, the author of a chilling, excellent book of stories called The Corpse Exhibition, which was published in 2014. Blasim is perhaps the best-known of the writers in Iraq +100. Almost all of the stories in The Corpse Exhibition include a fantastical element, but they are dark and grotesque, and the violence in them is surreal only until you think of what Iraqis have endured in recent decades. In the title story of The Corpse Exhibition, master assassins compete with one another to construct the most elaborate and impressive public displays of the bodies of their victims, describing maiming, splaying, and dismembering as an art form. Those and other stories made for grisly satire not far removed from real atrocities committed by U.S. troops and sectarian militias, and a queasy preview of the theatrical violence of executions carried out by the Islamic State, which swept through Iraq after Blasim’s book came out.
In his foreword to Iraq +100, Blasim writes that ancient precedents like the Epic of Gilgamesh or A Thousand and One Nights notwithstanding, there is a limited tradition of fantasy and science fiction in Iraqi and Arab literature. Blasim believes that alternate currents of religious fundamentalism and war wiped out interest in the speculative and the magical; he hopes to revive it, and with it, visions of a future where Iraq is less, rather than more, dystopian.
Blasim’s entry in the collection, “The Gardens of Babylon,” tries to explain in broad strokes what happened in a century: its protagonist lives in a techno-utopia, a domed city in Federal Mesopotamia established after Iraq’s oil dried up, with the help of Chinese investments and global revolution in clean energy. In this pleasant future, a man whose job is to write plots for virtual reality “story-games” uses hallucinogens to spiral into a bizarre wartime story of an exiled translator and his father and a plot to blow up an oil pipeline. The nested stories are a literal example of going to the future in order to recall the most difficult parts of the present.
Most of these stories don’t sound naive. If anything, they are darker and narrower than what the project seemed to wish for. In the stories collected in Iraq +100, the U.S. invasion and the war that followed are always a preoccupation, a backdrop of violence and destruction of culture.
A few of the stories follow Blasim’s example into full-on futurism, with mixed results. There’s one where alien invaders rule the world and farm humans for food, full of expository tangents that are the hallmark of unconvincing sci-fi. The better ones are more tightly tied to real history, even when fantastical. Some of the pieces may suffer, however, from uneven work by seven different translators; most of the stories were originally written in Arabic.
The opening story, “Kahrama,” by a writer called Anoud, is a dark and clever satire that imagines a woman who escapes from her warlord husband to become something of a celebrity refugee before her international benefactors lose interest in her case. In “The Corporal,” by Ali Bader, an Iraqi soldier in Saddam Hussein’s army who was shot in the head by an American sniper gets sent back to earth and has a hell of a time explaining himself to the shining city of love and peace that has replaced his native Kut.
In many of the stories, there is a subtext of fear of what will have been forgotten, through negligence or official edict, even when what there is to remember can also be awful. One tale, by Diaa Jubaili, is told from the point of view of a statue of an Iraqi worker installed in a foreign museum in a hall of monuments to dictators, having been mistaken for Saddam. Others recoup history, even when it is troublesome: there’s one story about a secret underground city of forgotten religious sites, and another where a man keeps tapes of songs in languages that have been banned.
I couldn’t get thirteen years of horrible news stories about Iraq out of my head while reading Iraq +100, couldn’t evade the contemporary context. In Bader’s story about the officer shot in the head, the time-traveling corporal can’t get anyone to believe him when he explains how bad it was. The writers collected here seem to have a similar message for the present, asking their readers: can you believe in the possibility that it may get better, and can you live with the possibility that it could even be worse?
The post The Horror of the Iraq War, One Hundred Years From Now appeared first on The Intercept.
Customs and Border Protection agents have been invasively questioning Muslim-Americans at U.S. border crossings about their political and religious beliefs, asking for their social media information, and demanding passwords to open mobile phones, according to a set of complaints filed by the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
In one case, a 23-year old American citizen alleges that he was choked by a CBP agent after declining to hand over his phone for inspection while crossing the border back from Canada.
The complaints deal with the cases of nine people who have been stopped at various U.S. border crossings, eight of whom are American citizens, and one Canadian. They were filed to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice.
The allegations come in the wake of The Intercept’s report that CBP agents have been working with the FBI to pressure Muslims entering the U.S. to become informants. Reports of racial profiling at the border have been endemic in recent years. In 2015, The Intercept also reported on portions of a questionnaire used by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents that included invasive questions about religious practices and beliefs.
In recent years a number of lawsuits have been filed over alleged incidents of discrimination and racial profiling at border crossings. In 2014, the U.S. Attorney General’s office announced rules intended to prevent racial profiling by federal law enforcement agents. Those measures excluded Department of Homeland Security agencies like CBP, however, leaving the door open to continued abuses. And while warrants are normally required for federal authorities to search cellphones, this requirement does not apply at border crossings.
The complaints filed by CAIR allege that CBP agents have been asking travelers questions including, “are you a devout Muslim”, “what do you think of the United States”, and “what are your views about jihad?” The complaints also say that people have reported being asked whether they attend a mosque and what their opinions are about various terrorist groups.
The complaints also allege that border agents have asked American citizens to provide their social media information at the border. A report in Politico last December indicated that some foreign travelers would soon be asked for social media information, but did not mention possible implications for American citizens.
One of the cases in the complaints involved Akram Shibly, a 23-year-old American citizen from Buffalo. He told The Intercept that he had been detained at the border during two separate incidents in early January, including one where he says agents physically assaulted him when he declined to give them his cellphone.
During the first incident, while driving back to the United States from Canada on New Year’s Day, he and his fiancée were pulled aside, searched and interrogated by border agents. Shibly said that he and his fiancée’s cellphones were confiscated and taken into a back room out of view. They were given forms to fill out that asked for passwords to unlock their devices, as well as for their email addresses and information about their family backgrounds — requests that they complied with.
“They told us that if you don’t have anything to hide, give us your phones and give us your passwords,” Shibly said.
During his interrogation, agents asked Shibly about his travel history and some religious practices, as well as his work as a filmmaker. (Shibly operates a YouTube channel where he posts recorded discussions on a variety of subjects.)
After being detained for roughly an hour and a half, Shibly and his fiancée were given their phones back and let go.
A few days later however, driving back from Canada on another trip, they were stopped again. After being taken aside for questioning and asked for his cellphone once more, this time Shibly declined.
“I had already regretted letting them go through my personal information a few days earlier, and this time I told them I do not feel comfortable giving you my phone,” Shibly said.
At that point, three CBP agents physically accosted him as he sat in a chair next to his fiancée, with one grabbing him from behind by the neck, another pinning his legs down, and a third agent reaching into his pocket to grab his phone, he said.
“I was sitting down, I wasn’t violent, I wasn’t yelling or charging at them, but they treated me like I was a violent criminal,” Shibly said. “I told them I’m an American citizen and was born and raised here, and one of the agents told me: ‘We don’t know if you’re really an American citizen, we’ll let you know when our investigation is complete.’ ”
After being detained for about 45 minutes, Shibly and his fiancée were let go. He said that before they left, another CBP officer apologized for his harsh treatment.
But Shibly fears more harassment in the future. “I honestly feel very traumatized. I love to travel, but now I feel like every time I come home I’m going be harassed and treated like a criminal for no reason,” he said.
When reached for comment, a spokesman for CBP said that the agency is, “aware of the allegations made by Mr. Shibly and they are currently being investigated by another agency.” The spokesman added that they could not comment further due to the ongoing investigation.
Warrantless confiscation and search of personal electronics at the border has become a major civil liberties issue, due to the wealth of personal data stored on such devices. According to DHS guidelines on border searches, CBP agents not only have the power to seize electronics, but can also “copy the contents of [an] electronic device for a more in-depth border search at a later time.”
A 2010 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to stop such practices was dismissed in 2013, allowing the CBP to continue what the group criticizes as “intrusive searches of Americans’ laptops and other electronics” at ports of entry. These searches remain a “contested legal issue” today according to the ACLU. But the group also notes that, although they may suffer delays, “U.S. citizens cannot be denied entry to the United States for refusing to provide passwords or unlock devices.”
Civil liberties groups fear that harassment at the border will intensify during the Trump administration. Trump has suggested that Muslim immigrants may be subject to “extreme vetting” at the border or even outright bans from entry, depending on their immigration status. Any directives that encourage racial profiling are likely to have adverse effects for communities that are already facing racial profiling issues under President Obama.
Shibly says that despite being physically accosted by CBP agents, he would not have given them access to his phone if he had known that they could not bar him from entry for refusing.
“They are taking advantage of people’s ignorance of their rights at the border and are using that to pry into our personal life,” he says. “But now there is a real risk for us, because officers are not only demanding our personal information but are getting violent if we don’t provide it.”
The post Complaints Describes Border Agents Interrogating Muslim Americans, Asking for Social Media Accounts appeared first on The Intercept.
On Mondays, Magda and Amilcar Galindo take their daughter Eva to self-defense class. Eva is 12 but her trusting smile and arching pigtails make her look younger. Diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, Eva doesn’t learn or behave like the typical 12-year-old. She struggles to make change, and she needs help with reading and social situations. Eva’s classmates are sometimes unkind to her, and Magda worries for her daughter’s feelings and her safety. So once a week, after they drive her from her middle school in Modesto, California, to her tutor in nearby Riverbank, the Galindos rush off to the gym where they cheer Eva on as she wrestles with a heavy bag and punches the air with her skinny arms.
But a study the family participated in when Eva was 3 has pointed to one possible culprit: chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that was sprayed near their home when Magda was pregnant. At the time, the family was living in Salida, a small town in central California surrounded by fields of almonds, corn, and peaches. The Galindos could see the planted fields just down the street from their stucco house. And Magda could smell them from the patio where she spent much of her pregnancy. Sometimes the distinct essence of cow manure filled the air. At other times she sniffed the must of fertilizer. And there was a third odor, too — “the smell of the chemical,” said Galindo. “You can tell, it’s different from mulch and manure. When they sprayed, the smell was different.”
In 2014, the first and most comprehensive look at the environmental causes of autism and developmental delay, known as the CHARGE study, found that the nearby application of agricultural pesticides greatly increases the risk of autism. Women who lived less than a mile from fields where chlorpyrifos was sprayed during their second trimesters of pregnancy, as Magda did, had their chances of giving birth to an autistic child more than triple. And it was just one of dozens of recent studies that have linked even small amounts of fetal chlorpyrifos exposure to neurodevelopmental problems, including ADHD, intelligence deficits, and learning difficulties.
On November 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a groundbreaking report laying out the serious dangers of chlorpyrifos. The “Chlorpyrifos Revised Human Health Risk Assessment,” as it was called, laid out the evidence that the pesticide can cause intelligence deficits and attention, memory, and motor problems in children. According to the report, 1- and 2-year-old children risk exposures from food alone that are 14,000 percent above the level the agency now thinks is safe.
Dow, the giant chemical company that patented chlorpyrifos and still makes most of the products containing it, has consistently disputed the mounting scientific evidence that its blockbuster chemical harms children. But the government report made it clear that the EPA now accepts the independent science showing that the pesticide used to grow so much of our food is unsafe. The “pre-publication copy” of the report stated that “residues of chlorpyrifos on most individual food crops exceed the ‘reasonable certainty of no harm’ safety standard under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act,” which means, in simple terms, that any given sample of food may contain harmful levels of chlorpyrifos. In addition, estimated drinking water and non-drinking water exposures to the chemical also exceed safety standards. The next step was to finalize a chlorpyrifos ban.
Public health advocates have been calling on the EPA to ban the pesticide for years. Four months before the report came out, a group of 47 scientists and doctors with expertise in children’s brain development, including the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, issued a grave warning that toxic chemicals in the environment were increasing children’s risks of developing behavioral, cognitive, and social disorders and contributing to the rise in cases of autism and ADHD. The TENDR statement, as it was called, included a list of the worst neurotoxins and amounted to a desperate plea for immediate action. Organophosphate pesticides, the class of chemical to which chlorpyrifos belongs, was at the top of the list.
Yet when the EPA’s report was published indicating that the agency was finally taking action on chlorpyrifos, there was little rejoicing among the scientists and environmental advocates, because two days earlier, Donald Trump had won the presidential election.
Although the new risk assessment was the missing puzzle piece necessary to get chlorpyrifos out of the food chain and water supply, the law requires a 60-day comment period before such a decision can be finalized. Trump will be inaugurated three days after the comment period ends on January 17. The final deadline to incorporate the comments on the report is March 31, 2017, giving the new administration almost two months to derail the long-awaited regulation.
Chlorpyrifos is the “Coca-Cola of growers,” as one former staffer of California’s Office of Pesticides described it to me. “Everyone uses it out here.” Across the country, some 44,000 American farms collectively use between 6 million and 10 million pounds of chlorpyrifos each year on everything from corn, soybeans, asparagus, and peaches to strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, walnuts, and cranberries. Used on more than half of all apples and broccoli sold in the U.S., chlorpyrifos makes its way into the vast majority of American kitchens. The chemical has also been found in 15 percent of water samples taken around the country between 1991 and 2012 by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Assessment Program.
Several farmers I spoke with at a Dow-sponsored citrus growers convention in Exeter, California, explained that they used Lorsban, one of Dow’s chlorpyrifos-containing products, because it is one of the most reliable and affordable products available to kill ants. The growers were also clearly hoping the pesticide, which kills some 400 different species, would help combat the Asian citrus psyllid, a sap-sucking bug that has been killing fruit trees around the country.
It’s a testament to both the deference the government has shown large companies and the lack of foresight about the consequences of spraying our food with toxic chemicals that the pesticide could become such a widely used tool. After all, there has never been much doubt that organophosphates harm people. German chemist Gerhard Schrader first documented the effects of the chemicals on the human nervous system while trying to develop pesticides to protect food for the Nazi war effort. As Schrader noted in 1936 after he and a colleague were severely sickened by a mere drop of organophosphate that landed on a lab bench near them, people who were exposed choked, shook, vomited, and sweated. Because exposure sometimes led to seizures, comas, and death, the discovery spawned the use of organophosphates as weapons and Schrader spent much of the war producing one of these first nerve agents, Tabun, at a secret Nazi lab.
More than two decades later, the environmental writer Rachel Carson described the effects of organophosphate pesticides, or organic phosphorus insecticides, as she called them, in terms eerily similar to Schrader’s in her 1962 bestseller, “Silent Spring”: “Their target is the nervous system, whether the victim is an insect or a warm-blooded animal. … The movements of the whole body become uncoordinated: tremors, muscular spasms, convulsions, and death quickly result.”
Even back then, the organophosphate pesticides that were supposed to focus their lethal power on cockroaches, ticks, ants, and termites were clearly triggering some of the same reactions in humans.
Chlorpyrifos — and for that matter the nerve agents Sarin and Tabun — work by blocking cholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. When cholinesterase doesn’t function correctly, the nervous system can go into overdrive, as nerves fire repeatedly without being shut off. Thus, between being sprayed with organophosphates and dying, cockroaches become hyperactive, hyperexcitable, and convulse. And, as Carson delicately described back in 1962, “honeybees become wildly agitated and bellicose.”
Though it was introduced to the market in 1965, the use of chlorpyrifos in farming only began to take off in the 1980s after another group of chemicals was phased out because of the health problems they caused. Carson, who died of cancer at age 56, just 18 months after the publication of “Silent Spring,” would no doubt have been dismayed to know that the banning of DDT, for which she is often credited, gave rise to the widespread use of organophosphates, such as chlorpyrifos. Back in 1962, she already saw the folly of swapping one neurotoxic chemical for another and noted that DDT was itself a replacement for the pesticide lead arsenate, which was abandoned because it too had caused health problems.
As the use of the pesticide rose, so did concerns about it. In 1988, Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences to look into whether pesticides in children’s diets might be dangerous. The resulting report described a range of harms that pesticides can cause and noted that organophosphates have “subtle and long-lasting neurobehavioral impairments” in animals. When he was presenting the report to Congress in 1993, epidemiologist Philip Landrigan, who led the committee, warned that children were particularly vulnerable and called on Congress to apply more stringent pesticide standards.
The shorter-term dangers of the chemical were already apparent by 1996, when the annual number of chlorpyrifos poisonings, which can cause twitching, tremors, slurred speech, and even paralysis and death, reported to Poison Control Centers in the U.S. reached 7,000. It was also becoming clear that children were particularly sensitive to the pesticide, which was available in many household products used to kill cockroaches, termites, fleas, and other bugs.
Vicki Herb learned that soon after she brought her infant son, Joshua, to her West Virginia home from the hospital. Joshua Herb had been born healthy in 1990. But days later an exterminator came for a regularly scheduled visit and, not noticing Joshua asleep in his crib, sprayed chlorpyrifos on a nearby windowsill while the baby was napping. Within days, Joshua became partially paralyzed. Though the doctors who first saw him were dismissive of the idea, Vicki Herb believed her son had been poisoned by pesticides and in 1992 hired attorney Stuart Calwell to sue Dow. Since then the evidence of its dangers — particularly to children — have been mounting.
The Herbs’ case, along with several others that Calwell brought against Dow, did more than reveal how powerfully chlorpyrifos could affect children. It also brought to light how hard the company would work to protect its lucrative pesticide. It soon became clear that Dow’s strategy was to protect the public image of chlorpyrifos, heavily promoting the most positive view of its chemical and attacking research to the contrary.
During the discovery process of the Herb case, Calwell asked Dow’s lawyers to provide reports of adverse incidents tied to the chemical, which companies are required by law to file with the Environmental Protection Agency. Dow’s attorneys told him to get the reports directly from the EPA, according to Calwell. But a judge backed Calwell’s request, and Dow was forced to hand over 220 reports of adverse incidents, including poisonings, that it hadn’t filed with the agency. Calwell, who went on to litigate several cases of people exposed to chlorpyrifos, still remembers the day the Dow attorneys showed up in court holding the brown envelope full of the reports.
While Dow was keeping some of the disturbing information about its chemical from the public, its own research was showing chlorpyrifos to be much safer. While they were reassuring, the company’s studies were also “scientifically worthless,” according to neuroscientist and Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky. Calwell hired Sapolsky, an expert in the degeneration of nerve cells and a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, to review Dow’s own studies on the pesticide. After reading them, Sapolsky wrote to me in an email, he was “simply stunned at how bad the work was, how utterly awful every aspect of them was, from the scholarship to how the studies were conducted to how data were analyzed, to how everything was then interpreted.”
Eventually, Sapolsky enlisted a dozen postdoctoral neuroscientists at Stanford to systematically review as much of the company’s research on the pesticide as he could find. According to an unpublished report they produced in 2008-2009, all the Dow studies on chlorpyrifos they reviewed had some errors and 89 percent had errors that broke the basic rules of science. And these weren’t randomly distributed mistakes, according to Sapolsky. “Every one of the errors in the papers worked in Dow’s favor.” Thus tailored, the company’s studies “were all sterling testimonies to [the] utter safety of the stuff,” according to the neuroscientist.
Dow heavily promoted this rosy vision of chlorpyrifos. Even as it was spinning the science, collecting reports of poisoning incidents, and fending off legal responsibility for them, Dow — or Dowelanco, as it was called at the time — was also boasting about the safety of its pesticide. “The 20-plus years of chlorpyrifos use involving millions of applications confirm that there is not a single documented incident of significant adverse health effect resulting from proper use of Dursban insecticides,” announced one 1991 brochure under a picture of a woman with a small child on her lap. “Does Dursban have any long-term effects?” the brochure asked before supplying the answer: “No.”
Such assertions were, even back then, patently untrue, as the New York attorney general argued in a 1993 suit charging the company with false advertising. Citing the dangers of pesticides and the particular risks they posed to children, the settlement of the case required Dowelanco to immediately stop using such language to promote its chlorpyrifos-containing products, Dursban and Lorsban.
But Dow stuck to its claims of safety, even when they put the company at odds with the truth — and the law. Almost immediately after striking an agreement over the first suit from the New York attorney general, Dow went on to violate it with more falsely reassuring claims about chlorpyrifos, according to another suit from the AG’s office. Dow paid $2 million to settle that suit in 2003. For the AG’s office, this was a record fine. For Dow, it was perhaps a small price to pay for a decade’s worth of reassuring messaging.
The legal challenges cost the company only modestly. Dow settled several of the poisoning cases and reportedly paid Joshua Herb’s family $10 million, which helped cover Joshua’s round-the-clock care. And Calwell’s discovery that Dow had withheld critical information about its chemical led to the EPA fining the company $876,000 in 1995. But the company never admitted any wrongdoing, even in the case of Joshua Herb, who died as a teenager.
By the late 1990s, when Dow was negotiating with the EPA over chlorpyrifos, more than 10 million pounds of the pesticide were used on crops each year. In 2000, advocacy groups including Beyond Pesticides and Californians for Pesticide Reform asked the EPA to ban the chemical altogether, including its use in agriculture. But Dow threatened to sue the agency if it tried for a full ban, according to a retired EPA toxicologist named Jeremy Blondell.
“They negotiated with us and said, fine, we won’t take you to court,” Blondell explained in an interview. The prospect of a long, expensive legal battle apparently deterred the agency from moving forward. “If we had gone to court, it would have taken four or five years,” said Blondell. Instead, in 2000 the agency struck an agreement with Dow that phased out most household uses of chlorpyrifos but preserved the growing agricultural market from serious restrictions.
A few years earlier, Dow had managed an even bigger threat to its pesticides. As the biggest spender in a coalition of companies, Dow actively fought the implementation of a clause in a 1958 law that had strictly forbidden the use of food additives that caused any cancer in humans or animals. Dozens of pesticides could have been outlawed if it were enforced. Instead, by 1996, Dow led a coalition that helped water down the strict “zero risk” standard set by the law to one designed to minimize the risk to health.
It fell to the EPA to calculate how much risk to health was acceptable based on the risk of cancer and other diseases. As it does with most pesticides, the agency used the company’s own studies to determine safety for humans, including some of those Sapolsky had judged as flawed and biased. In 1996, when the agency re-registered chlorpyrifos, the EPA set a safety limit that allowed the chemical to be used in amounts that caused just a small reduction in the activity of the enzyme cholinesterase. For kids, it soon became clear, this wasn’t enough.
It’s standard practice for companies to rely on animal studies to prove the safety of their chemical products. Conducted in research labs, such experiments allow scientists to closely control and monitor their conditions, pinpoint the exact doses associated with outcomes, and replicate entire studies. But different species don’t always respond to chemicals the same way. And, while scientists have traditionally tested the safety of pesticides by exposing lab animals to relatively high doses, such studies don’t necessarily capture the risks posed by the lower amounts people breathe and eat.
In 1998, when Dow was still facing off with victims in court, three teams of scientists began to tackle the questions of how these real-world exposures affect actual people. At the University of California, Berkeley and Mt. Sinai Hospital and Columbia University in New York City, the researchers embarked on a series of government-funded studies to see how young children were affected by environmental chemicals.
Virginia Rauh, an epidemiologist leading the team at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, chose to investigate chlorpyrifos because she had read that organophosphate pesticides had irreversible neurological effects on lab animals. She also knew that the chlorpyrifos could cross the human placenta and enter the fetal blood before birth. Plus, as she explained to me recently in her office overlooking the Hudson River, “these are chemicals that were specifically designed to attack the mammalian nervous system.”
Rauh, who ultimately enrolled 725 African-American and Dominican mothers and their children in New York City, was aware, too, that like most New Yorkers, the women in her study used the stuff to kill fleas, ants, and cockroaches in their homes.
As she expected, Rauh soon found ample evidence of chlorpyrifos exposure. Ninety-nine percent of the air she sampled from her subjects’ apartments tested positive for chlorpyrifos, as did 70 percent of the blood samples taken from the mothers and their children. What Rauh hadn’t expected was that the EPA’s ban on in-home use of chlorpyrifos would go into effect in 2001, even as she was enrolling women in the study, almost immediately causing the rates of the chemical in their bodies to drop. “We have this beautiful slide that shows the level going down right after the ban, and by 2006, almost all the levels were nondetectable,” Rauh told me.
This accident of timing divided her study population into two: children who were born before the ban, and had relatively high levels of exposure, and those born afterward, whose levels were much lower. When she compared the otherwise indistinguishable groups, she found clear differences. The babies who were exposed to more of the chemical tended to be smaller, have poorer reflexes, and weigh less. In fact, the babies with the highest level of chlorpyrifos were a half-pound lighter on average than those with the lowest levels.
What’s more, even though the exposures happened before birth, their effects seemed to last for years. Rauh kept following the children in her study and found that, at age 3, those who had higher chlorpyrifos levels were more likely to lag in terms of both motor and mental development. The differences weren’t subtle. The children in the higher exposure group were more than twice as likely to be mentally delayed; more than five times as likely to have pervasive developmental disorder, a diagnosis that was later folded into autism spectrum disorder; more than six times as likely to have ADHD; and more than 11 times as likely to have other attention disorders.
Meanwhile, the team out in Berkeley was also tying chlorpyrifos exposure to a number of neurodevelopmental effects, as the researchers from both teams discovered when they met up at a conference. The Berkeley study, known as CHAMACOS (for the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas), was studying women and children in California’s rural farming communities. Their findings were strikingly similar to what Rauh had found in an urban setting. When compared to the children with the lowest prenatal exposures, the CHAMACOS kids who had been most highly exposed also tended to have lower IQs, poorer cognitive function, abnormal reflexes, and an increased risk of attention problems.
And when they followed the kids in their study as they aged, both teams found that the effects persisted. At age 7, the highly exposed children in Rauh’s sample had lower IQs and deficits in working memory. The team in Berkeley also found that exposure to organophosphates had significant lasting effects. In their group, 7-year-olds who had the highest level of exposure to organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, had IQ scores that were seven points lower than those with the lowest exposure.
The researchers at Mt. Sinai had similar findings. In fact, all three groups of scientists studying chlorpyrifos were so similar that they decided to publish them together. Each one had independently found that chlorpyrifos had neurodevelopmental effects on children. Perhaps most startlingly, the researchers were seeing effects at levels of chlorpyrifos lower than the ones that interfered with cholinesterase. In Rauh’s study, the pesticide had lasting effects on kids’ brains at levels 20 times below the EPA’s safety level.
Dow, which often refers to Rauh’s work as “controversial,” has taken issue with her findings precisely because they show that small amounts of the chemical can have effects. Chlorpyrifos.com, a website created by the company, cites the fact that the Columbia study’s thresholds are lower than those of other studies as one of the reasons the effects “are not likely to have been caused by chlorpyrifos.”
The company’s own studies, which the site describes as “40 years of high-quality animal research,” were not looking for the changes Rauh observed and couldn’t have detected them because they were done on animals. Nor would it have been ethical to deliberately expose humans to brain-altering levels of chlorpyrifos. Yet just by using the pesticide in their homes, people were exposed to the chemicals at these levels. The epidemiologists were observing changes that took place as people encountered the pesticides in their daily lives.
“These were relatively modest exposure levels,” Rauh said. “A lot of people of the country are still having these exposures.
Zenaida Muñoz likely had even higher exposures to chlorpyrifos when she was pregnant with her 8-year-old son, Alan. At the time, Muñoz was living directly across the street from an orange grove in the central California town of Woodlake. Her one-story house was about 30 feet from the trees. And when the groves were sprayed, the fumes drifted in through the windows. Plus, one of her favorite ways to relax was to walk through the orange groves. She spent much of her free time during her pregnancy this way, wandering past the rows of perfectly spaced trees.
Sometimes on her walks, the smell of the chemicals was strong enough to make Muñoz nauseous. But at the time, it didn’t occur to her that she — or the baby growing inside of her — might suffer any lasting effects. “Pesticides are a part of life here, they’re normal,” she told me through a translator. And, indeed, it is residents of agricultural communities like Woodlake who tend to have the highest exposure. A documentary filmmaker who recently analyzed hair samples from six children in farming communities in California found that each tested positive for at least 50 different pesticides, including chlorpyrifos. In addition to being exposed to the residues on fruits and vegetables, as people throughout the country are, they are more likely to inhale chlorpyrifos that drifts in the air after spraying and drink the small amounts of it that sometimes seep into drinking water. Like everyone else living around the grids of farmland that make up much of central California, Muñoz was used to seeing workers spray the chemicals. And she assumed that if a chemical were truly dangerous, farmers wouldn’t be allowed to use it.
In the four years since Alan was diagnosed with autism and ADHD, Muñoz has thought about those walks often. She knew her son was struggling long before then. Alan is her second child and at just 8 months of age, he already seemed far more restless and difficult than her first. He would run at every opportunity and never seemed to settle down. By the time he was 4, he was clearly far less able to speak than his peers. He also had a hard time making friends. His many frustrations led to sudden outbursts.
Muñoz, who moved to the nearby town of Cutler four years ago, knows other mothers whose children have health effects they believe are related to pesticides. She belongs to a group of 20 women who get together regularly to work on local issues. Four of them have children with neurodevelopmental problems, two have kids with ADHD, and one mom described her 3-year-old daughter as having “mental retardation and other cognitive problems.”
Now pregnant with a third child, Muñoz tries to avoid exposure to pesticides. It’s not easy. She stays indoors as much as possible and has stopped taking her walks through the orchards. But Muñoz still passes them every day as she takes Alan to school. And even as he struggles, he continues to risk exposure to the pesticide. Alan’s school, Cutler Elementary, is a short distance from the fields — as everything is in Cutler. California’s careful tracking of the locations and quantities of pesticide applications has shown that Alan is one of some 500,000 children in California who attend a school within a quarter mile of fields where “pesticides of public health concern,” such as chlorpyrifos, are applied.
The science documenting that chlorpyrifos has long-term effects on children’s brains had reached a critical mass by 2007. That year, Earthjustice sued the EPA on behalf of the Pesticide Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and farm worker groups, asking that it consider the long-term effects of chlorpyrifos and ban the chemical. That suit turned out to be the first of many. The EPA failed to take action, however, so the environmental groups sued the agency again in 2010, urging it to stop all uses of chlorpyrifos. In 2012, when the EPA still hadn’t banned the pesticide, the groups sued yet again, to no avail. And in September 2014, seven years after they first filed their request, the advocates sued the EPA for a fourth time, again demanding that the agency revoke its approval of chlorpyrifos.
Such delays are unfortunately typical of the process of getting dangerous pesticides off the market, according to Patti Goldman, an Earthjustice attorney who has been working on the chlorpyrifos suit. Part of the reason for the glacial pace, according to Goldman, is the influence of pesticide manufacturers.
“Industry spends a lot of time walking the halls of EPA and urging the agency not to do anything until it’s absolutely sure,” said Goldman, who has noted an increased presence from Dow in recent years. Indeed, Dow, a multinational corporation that had more than $48 billion in revenue in 2015, has a far bigger budget for lobbying and scientific research than the nonprofit organizations representing the health interests of kids and farmworkers. “They can spend a lot of money on all of that,” said Goldman. “We just don’t have the resources.”
Nevertheless, three months after the groups’ last suit, in December 2014, the EPA did what the smaller groups had been urging for years, acknowledging the serious risks chlorpyrifos posed to the developing brain. In a draft version of the risk assessment finalized in November, the agency highlighted Rauh’s work showing an increased chance of developmental disorders, attention problems, working memory loss, and intelligence deficits in children who had been exposed to the pesticide prenatally. Still, the EPA did not move to take chlorpyrifos off the market.
By August 2015, after the EPA requested yet another delay before issuing a final decision, the court that had been hearing the chlorpyrifos case reached the limit of its patience. Calling the delay in responding to the advocates’ 2007 petition “egregious,” three judges in the 9th Circuit Court gave the EPA a hard-and-fast deadline for finalizing its rule: October 31, 2015.
In an emailed response to questions from The Intercept, a spokesperson for the EPA said the delay in responding to the groups’ request was due to the fact that the suit “raised numerous complex, novel scientific issues,” which required several scientific reviews. Those reviews, the agency representative wrote, “required years to complete, which is not unusual for cutting-edge scientific issues.”
Yet even with a clear timeline set, the EPA requested another extension. And, once it was granted, the agricultural lobby moved to prolong the process still further. In July 2016, 15 groups, including the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, the National Potato Council, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, the Almond Alliance of California, the National Cotton Council, the U.S. Apple Association, and CropLife America, an agribusiness trade association whose members include Dow, wrote to the court. Though the EPA had been considering banning chlorpyrifos for at least nine years, the groups insisted that they had been given “not nearly enough time” to respond. The industry brief described the EPA as being “forced to rush to judgment” and argued that the agency needed at least another year beyond the court’s current deadline to conduct its science work.
By this point, Dow had enlisted Exponent, a science-for-hire group, to publish articles disputing the accumulating science on chlorpyrifos and arguing that there is no scientific reason to change the safety standards. Yet when those publications were excluded, the scientific literature overwhelmingly agreed about the harms of organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos. Of 27 studies published by 2012, all but one showed that organophosphate pesticides caused “negative effects” in children’s brains. And since then, several others, including the CHARGE study, have added to the findings. Yet because the EPA cited Rauh’s work most often in its decision to move forward on chlorpyrifos, the industry focused its attentions on the Columbia epidemiologist, dissecting her papers and criticizing the researcher herself.
In addition to taking issue with its focus on humans, Dow has complained that the Columbia team has refused to make their data public. Rauh’s “raw data have not been made available for independent scrutiny by EPA and other stakeholders, despite multiple requests from the agency to the study authors on previous occasions to provide it,” the company claimed on chlorpyrifos.com.
Dow has also made that charge in public comments to the EPA and in legal briefs submitted to the court. The industry talking point even surfaced in a February hearing on “the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s actions on the rural economy,” when committee chair K. Michael Conaway said that he “heard” that Rauh’s “research data may not be reliable” and that Columbia had “refused to provide the raw data to EPA even though EPA provided funding for the study,” according to his prepared comments.“We do the science, we publish the work, we release data when we’re asked. Everything has been done appropriately.”
In response to questions from The Intercept for this article, Dow AgroSciences said in a statement that the company “strongly disagrees with EPA’s proposal to revoke chlorpyrifos tolerances.” Dow also said that the “EPA’s proposal to revoke all tolerances appears to be based on a non-replicated epidemiology study for which no raw data has been provided to the agency. Dow AgroSciences is confident that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos products offer wide margins of protection for human health and safety, when used as directed.”
But when I asked the Rauh herself whether she had shared her data with the EPA, she seemed familiar with and perplexed by the accusation. “It is hard to take seriously because it’s not true,” Rauh said with a sigh. “We do the science, we publish the work, we release data when we’re asked. Everything has been done appropriately.”
Rauh said she and other researchers on her team have had several meetings with EPA officials. “EPA has been invited to have our data. They don’t even want it. There is no contentiousness about it. They’ve seen it, it’s been represented to them many, many times.” When asked whether Rauh had refused to provide data, the EPA referred to a note the agency inserted into the public record in 2014 saying that while the agency had initially requested the raw data from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, and the center “did not agree to provide” them, subsequently “the researchers met with EPA and discussed the agency’s questions about the data to help determine whether further review of the raw data might assist EPA in resolving uncertainties. As a result of new information gathered through an on-site meeting and other sources, EPA is no longer pursuing the request for the original analytic data file from CCCEH researchers.”
The Columbia epidemiologist knows her work has drawn the ire of industry. “They have an army,” Rauh said of the many scientists Dow has hired to focus on her work. She gets questioning emails from them every time she publishes a paper, and she has seen them at meetings, when “Dow had booked most of the day with their rebuttals trying to poke holes.” But Rauh chooses not to engage directly with her detractors. Instead, she pointed to the dozens of studies beyond her own showing links between early chlorpyrifos exposure and neurodevelopmental problems, noting, “We’re in very good company.” The EPA’s new report backs her up, finding that with the exception of two negative studies in 2015, “all other study authors have identified associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes.”
Perhaps the most impressive recent addition to the science on chlorpyrifos is the CHARGE study, in which Eva Galindo participated. Directed by epidemiologist Irva Hertz-Picciotto, CHARGE looks at both genetic and environmental factors in the development of autism and has helped establish links between autism and folic acid intake as well as metabolic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, in mothers.
In 2014, the CHARGE researchers added pesticides to their list of environmental factors linked to the disease with a study of 486 children with autism. Published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2014, the paper showed that the children born to women who lived near agricultural fields where pesticides were applied during their pregnancies have significantly higher rates of autism.
Several organophosphates besides chlorpyrifos were associated with increased autism rates, as were another group of pesticides called pyrethroids. And other kinds of developmental delay were also associated with the pesticides. But the link between autism and chlorpyrifos was the strongest. While the nationwide autism rate is now one in 68, for women who lived near fields where chlorpyrifos was sprayed during their second trimester, the chance of having a child with autism was closer to one in 21.
Hertz-Picciotto, who came to the Mind Institute at UC Davis from North Carolina in 2001, was able to zero in on the connection because of California’s records on both pesticide use and autism cases, which are both the most detailed in the nation. After identifying the children with autism, she interviewed mothers of about where they were living during their pregnancies and combined that information with the data on where pesticide spraying took place.
Her efforts came at a delicate time. Since the idea that vaccines cause autism was first hotly debated and then discredited over the last decade, the public has come to distrust experts who focus on environmental causes of the developmental disorder. “There’s this culture in science that favors the most technologically advanced approach over anything else,” said Hertz-Picciotto. “Because of this molecular revolution, genetics has taken center stage in a huge way. If you look at NIH funding for genetics versus environmental factors, the ratio is 20 to 1.”
But Hertz-Picciotto, whose previous work focused on the impact of lead on children, feels it’s pointless to pit genetic and environmental factors against one another. Both contribute to the development of the disease roughly equally, she said, and even interact. Several studies have shown particular genetic variations increase the susceptibility of both children and adults to chlorpyrifos, for instance. And several different genetic and environmental occurrences may contribute to any one case of the disease.
“I suspect that there are multiple factors,” said Hertz-Picciotto. “Maybe not taking your prenatal vitamin doesn’t push you over the edge, it just creates the susceptibility. Maybe then the mom got an illness. Maybe she had a little flu. And that also had some impact on the migration of cells getting to the right place in the brain. And then they clamped the cord too soon. There’s a certain amount of resilience the body can adapt. But after a certain point, you’ve gone past the adaptability.”
Chlorpyrifos exposure is just one of several chance occurrences that may combine to cause autism. But unlike an individual’s genetic makeup, it’s one that could be easily changed. That, according to Hertz-Picciotto, is the appeal of exploring the environmental causes of autism. While genetic research may be more likely to yield treatments for autism, exploring the environmental triggers for the disease can help prevent future cases.
Jennifer and Patrick Coleman took part in the CHARGE study for that very reason — because they hoped it might prevent other kids from developing autism and spare other parents some of the difficulties their family has endured. “It’s too late for us, we already have it,” Jennifer Coleman told me recently. By “we” Coleman meant her two sons, Jackson, who is 12, and his little brother, Drake, who is 7.
Caring for her children is clearly more time-consuming and labor-intensive than it would be if they didn’t have autism. Drake also has ADHD, and the boys’ behavior can be unpredictable and grating, their meltdowns frequent and loud.
“Everything about parenting is harder,” Jennifer told me as we sat in their leafy backyard in Modesto, California. Both boys were actually playing quietly at the time, but “other parents can tell their kids, ‘Don’t do that,’ and they won’t do that. My kids are like, ‘What?’ When you say, ‘Don’t do it,’ my kids will do it 12,000 more times.”
Parenting can also be more emotionally wrenching in ways that are impossible to measure. There is Patrick Coleman’s sadness that Jackson will never be an Eagle Scout, for instance, or his fear that Drake’s wildness will ultimately land him in prison. Even the prospect of telling Jackson the truth about Santa has thrown his parents into a terror most parents of neurotypical children will never know. He still believes “lock, stock, and barrel,” as his mother put it, and they fear he will see their years of misinformation as an unforgivable betrayal.
Indeed, while he is a literal-minded child, Jackson is also an exquisitely sensitive one. After he was recently bullied at school by kids who find him odd, Jackson told his mother in a matter-of-fact tone that he wanted to die. Jennifer Coleman was able to get her son transferred to another class and he now seems happier. But she knows both her sons will continue to struggle — and that there is little she can do besides being as loving and patient a parent as she can be — and participating in research that might spare other kids and parents the same fate.
The EPA, on the other hand, has the power to ban chlorpyrifos. By law, the agency is required to regularly re-evaluate pesticides to make sure they continue to meet the safety standard of causing “no adverse effects.” And in its infuriatingly slow way, the agency was doing what it was supposed to do. The EPA’s November 10 report showed that despite the intense pressures of the industry, the agency has come to see the dangers of chlorpyrifos as settled science. It was taking action, and had the election gone differently — or had the EPA not requested its final extension of its deadline — the policy may have been settled, too.
Instead, the chemical industry has renewed its efforts to derail the proposed regulation. On November 29, CropLife America launched a Hail Mary effort to stop the ban. The business group petitioned the head of the office of pesticide programs to “cease regulatory decision making” on chlorpyrifos until it has developed both standards “for acceptance of epidemiologic studies in human health risk assessment,” a process that could easily take several years.
Donald Trump’s scorn for science and his embrace of widely discredited ideas, including the theory that vaccines cause autism, has long terrified the scientific community. For those working on chlorpyrifos, that terror is sometimes accompanied by a feeling of destabilization. “We’re all wondering what will happen next,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, who has studied chlorpyrifos. “That’s what keeps me awake at night.”
Donley told me he thought the industry might have been emboldened by Trump. And it’s easy to see why they might be. In the first months since the election, Trump has reinforced his allegiance to industry in general and Dow in particular. Mike McKenna, a Dow lobbyist, was one of the first to serve on his transition team and Myron Ebell, a foe of chemical regulation who has received money from Dow, has overseen staffing of the new EPA. In December, Trump named Dow’s CEO Andrew Liveris to head the American Manufacturing Council, a private sector committee that advises the secretary of commerce. Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to run the EPA, is an avowed foe of environment regulation.
Dow has already managed to slow the process of regulating chlorpyrifos to a virtual crawl over the past decades. Could a process that’s been thwarted by at least two previous administrations finally succeed under Trump?
Some longtime advocates are clinging to the hope that the pending regulation is too far along for the new administration to stop. Disregarding the mountain of scientific evidence would be too egregious a move even for Trump, according to Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice attorney who has worked to protect the public from the effects of chlorpyrifos for more than 20 years.
Though he is an unabashed friend of the chemical industry, the president-elect doesn’t necessarily want to be an enemy of children, said Goldman. And choosing to ignore widely accepted research showing that a chemical hurts children’s brains would make him just that. “Going up against brain damage in kids,” she predicted, would be “a public relations disaster.”
And then there’s the matter of the law. The court’s clear instruction to the EPA to issue its final rule on chlorpyrifos would be extremely difficult to defy, said Kristin Schafer, policy director of the Pesticide Action Network. “This is a legal deadline.”
But the company has several potential ways it could circumvent the regulation without technically defying the law. Dow recently previewed one in a press release issued on the day the EPA announced the proposed ban. “The court ordered EPA to make a final decision on the petition by March 31, 2017, but did not specify what that decision should be,” Dow explained. “The EPA can deny the petition and retain all tolerances, which would be consistent with the science and allow the agency to complete its registration review and address their remaining concerns in an orderly manner.” In other words, the EPA could issue a rule that, despite the evidence, declares chlorpyrifos safe to use rather than moving forward with the ban. Or Congress could even draft legislation that somehow gives Dow’s neurotoxic product a reprieve.
Dow has been working on end-runs around the EPA since at least 2014, when the company hired lobbyist James Callan to work on “federal regulatory actions to maintain tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos.” The company has paid Callan $140,000 in the past two years, according to lobbying records.
Just two years ago, when Callan first started working on chlorpyrifos, these strategies must have seemed like pipe dreams. At the time, the company’s best option — its only option, really — was delay. Though a favored strategy of the chemical industry, it was unclear that stalling action on chlorpyrifos would do anything more than extend the period in which the company could benefit from its product before an inevitable ban.
After the whiplashing election, however, it’s clear that Dow’s bid for additional time may deliver much more, not just temporarily putting off a ban of chlorpyrifos but potentially setting the science-driven process back by years.
Dow has done its best to quantify the benefits of its product, which, along with other pesticides, helps “U.S. farmers produce 144 billion pounds of additional food, feed and fiber and reap $22.9 billion in farm income increases,” according to chlorprifos.com. But the cost of continuing to use the toxin on our food can be measured, too. Every day chlorpyrifos is in use, more kids will be exposed — and more brains altered by the chemical. The oldest of the children in Rauh’s study are now 18. And, as they age, she is learning more about how their brains are different. She recently scanned the brains of 20 of the children in her study and found structural differences in those who were most highly exposed. These kids also tend to have tremors and Rauh is now exploring whether they’re more likely to develop Parkinson’s as they enter adulthood.
Several scientists have attempted to estimate the cost of the “silent pandemic of neurotoxicity” that’s resulted from this and other toxic exposures. The TENDR scientists noted that chemicals, including chlorpyrifos, have already contributed to an “alarming increase in learning and behavioral problems in children.” An estimated 10 percent of American children are now diagnosed with ADHD, and one in 68 American children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, amounting to a 17 percent increase over the last decade.
David Bellinger, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, sliced the burden another way, estimating that exposure to organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, has collectively cost American children almost 17 million IQ points. In Europe, researchers have even tried to put a price tag on the neurodevelopmental problems caused by chlorpyrifos and other pesticides each year: 120 billion euros, or $126 billion.
While children in farming communities get the biggest doses of chlorpyrifos, people across the country are exposed to potentially dangerous amounts of the chemical through their food. Though it’s unclear exactly how much pesticide residue can alter brain development, all of the researchers I spoke with told me they advise pregnant women and young children to eat organic fruits and vegetables.
It’s not unlike the strategy of Zenaida Muñoz, who has cloistered herself in her two-bedroom house in Cutler, California, during her pregnancy. After reckoning with the shock that chlorpyrifos could be used even though it’s known to harm kids’ brains, Muñoz has done what she can to protect her growing family. They can’t afford to buy organic. So, she’s hoping her drawn curtains and closed doors will protect her — and waiting for the government to do something about the pesticide that is all around her.
This article was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.
The post Dow Chemical Wants Farmers to Keep Using a Pesticide Linked to Autism and ADHD appeared first on The Intercept.
The Justice Department released a blistering report on Friday concluding what many in Chicago have been saying for years: that the city’s police officers routinely use excessive and deadly force, particularly against black and Latino residents; that they systematically violate civil rights; and that the department consistently fails to hold officers accountable for abuse and misconduct.
With one week to go before the beginning of the Trump administration – which is widely expected to take a considerably less aggressive approach toward police abuse – federal officials this week tied up the loose ends on some of the department’s most high profile investigations of police departments.
On Thursday, Justice Department officials signed a consent decree with the city of Baltimore, outlining reforms the city will be required to undertake after a scathing report published last August found a pattern of stops, searches, arrests and use of force that violated the First and Fourth Amendments as well as federal anti-discrimination laws.
Then on Friday, the department released one of its most anticipated reports yet, based on the investigation of the Chicago Police Department that it launched in 2015 on the heels of protest and a public scandal over the 2014 police killing of Laquan McDonald.
As it did in Baltimore, the DOJ found that the Chicago Police Department — which, with 12,000 officers, is the country’s second largest police department, after the NYPD — regularly engaged in a pattern of abuse, excessive force, and racial discrimination.
With forceful language and harrowing details, the 164-page document confirms reports of systemic abuse in Chicago’s most heavily policed communities, including disturbing anecdotes about officers shooting people who posed no threat and Tasering people who didn’t follow verbal commands.
The report also denounced what it concluded was a widespread culture of covering up police misconduct, including tampering with video and audio evidence and intimidating witnesses. “A code of silence exists, and officers and community members know it,” the report said. One sergeant told DOJ investigators that, “if someone comes forward as a whistleblower in the Department, they are dead on the street.”
Last year, The Intercept published a four-part investigation by journalist Jamie Kalven of a far-reaching criminal enterprise within the Chicago Police Department and the code of silence that enabled it.
Kalven was also the first to obtain a copy of Laquan McDonald’s autopsy report, which contradicted police accounts of the shooting and showed the teen had been shot 16 times, including several times in the back, and that police officer Jason Van Dyke had unloaded his weapon “execution style” while McDonald lay on the ground. It took more than a year for the city to release dashcam video of the shooting and charge Van Dyke with first-degree murder (charges his lawyers are currently trying to dismiss.)
McDonald’s killing was one of many in Chicago over the last several years, and it sparked massive protests, a successful effort to oust the prosecutor that oversaw the cover-up effort, and widespread calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign. It also deeply damaged the relationship between police and communities of color at a time when Chicago is facing a spike in violence — with 762 murders in 2016 alone, its most violent year in two decades.
“It has never been more important to rebuild trust for the police within Chicago’s neighborhoods most challenged by violence, poverty, and unemployment,” the report noted.
Garry McCarthy, who headed the department at the time of McDonald’s killing and was fired by Emanuel following public outrage over the incident, slammed the report as “political” and “predetermined.”
Emanuel responded to the report: “Police misconduct will not be tolerated anywhere in this city and those who break the rules will be held accountable for their actions.”
While Chicago officials pledged a commitment to police reform — with some efforts already underway ahead of the report’s release — many residents of Chicago and other cities where police have come under federal scrutiny in recent years are looking ahead to the incoming administration with apprehension. Judges and independent monitors are set to enforce agreements in cities where consent decrees are already in place, but it will be up to the next DOJ administration to negotiate the terms for Chicago, continue pending investigations, or initiate new ones.
Residents of communities afflicted by police abuse point out that the consent decrees are not a panacea: individual officers are not held to account, and consent decrees don’t create sufficient avenues for community oversight and real accountability.
As The Intercept reported earlier this week, president-elect Donald Trump has promised a return to “law and order” policies, like stop and frisk, that have done enormous damage to communities of color in the past. He referred to the growing movement for police accountability a “war on police.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions, who Trump chose to lead the DOJ, has said in the past that consent decrees, like the one signed in Baltimore and the one expected to follow the Chicago investigation, are an intrusion on local authority and an overreach by the DOJ. During his confirmation hearing this week, Sessions reiterated his commitment to law and order over civil rights.
“If we are to be more effective in dealing with rising crime, we will have to rely heavily on local law enforcement to lead the way,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “To do that, they must know that they are supported. If I am so fortunate as to be confirmed as attorney general, they can be assured that they will have my support.”
At least some in law enforcement are already taking that as a sign that the DOJ will leave them alone. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke put that plainly in a Facebook statement in response to calls for the DOJ to investigate the Milwaukee County Jail he oversees, where four people, including a baby, have died since April.
“After January 20, 2017, Sen. Jeff Sessions will become the new attorney general of the U.S. Department of Justice,” Clarke said in the statement. “He will take the partisan politics out of decision making at DOJ.”
The post Down to the Wire: Obama’s DOJ Issues Scathing Report on Systemic Abuse Within Chicago Police appeared first on The Intercept.
Obama Opens NSA’s Vast Trove of Warrantless Data to Entire Intelligence Community, Just in Time for Trump
With only days until Donald Trump takes office, the Obama administration on Thursday announced new rules that will let the NSA share vast amounts of private data gathered without warrant, court orders or congressional authorization with 16 other agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security.
The new rules allow employees doing intelligence work for those agencies to sift through raw data collected under a broad, Reagan-era executive order that gives the NSA virtually unlimited authority to intercept communications abroad. Previously, NSA analysts would filter out information they deemed irrelevant and mask the names of innocent Americans before passing it along.
The change was in the works long before there was any expectation that someone like Trump might become president. The last-minute adoption of the procedures is one of many examples of the Obama administration making new executive powers established by the Bush administration permanent, on the assumption that the executive branch could be trusted to police itself.
Executive Order 12333, often referred to as “twelve triple-three,” has attracted less debate than congressional wiretapping laws, but serves as authorization for the NSA’s most massive surveillance programs — far more than the NSA’s other programs combined. Under 12333, the NSA taps phone and internet backbones throughout the world, records the phone calls of entire countries, vacuums up traffic from Google and Yahoo’s data centers overseas, and more.
In 2014, The Intercept revealed that the NSA uses 12333 as a legal basis for an internal NSA search engine that spans more than 850 billion phone and internet records and contains the unfiltered private information of millions of Americans.
In 2014, a former state department official described NSA surveillance under 12333 as a “universe of collection and storage” beyond what Congress has authorized.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who gave reporters documents that revealed the breadth of the 12333 surveillance, tweeted this:
As he hands the White House to Trump, Obama just unchained NSA from basic limits on passing raw intercepts to others https://t.co/JkbJhTrUsI
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 12, 2017
As the rule change made its way through the review process, Robert Litt, the top lawyer for the intelligence community, publicly explained the rationale: The rules “respond to the widely recognized lesson learned from the 9/11 attacks that intelligence should not be ‘stovepiped’ by individual agencies but should be shared responsibly within the intelligence community.”
But this massive database inevitably includes vast amount of American’s communications — swept up when they speak to people abroad, when they go abroad themselves, or even if their domestic communications are simply routed abroad. That’s why access was previously limited to data that had already been screened to remove unrelated information and information identifying U.S. persons. The new rules still ostensibly limit access to authorized foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes — not ordinary law enforcement purposes — and require screening before they are more widely shared. But privacy activists are skeptical.
Activists have long been concerned about the erosion of barriers between law enforcement surveillance and NSA spying. With access to the NSA’s intercepts, law enforcement could search Americans’ private information for evidence of criminality without going to a judge — a loophole privacy activists have called the “backdoor search loophole.”
Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel with the ACLU, said in a statement that the procedures raise “serious concerns that agencies that have responsibilities such as prosecuting domestic crimes, regulating our financial policy, and enforcing our immigration laws will now have access to a wealth of personal information that could be misused.”
Nathan White, legislative manager for the digital rights group, Access Now, wrote in an email: “One of the fundamental tenets of privacy among the intelligence community has been that when the collection is large on the front end, you need tighter minimization procedures on the back end.”
He continued: “This decision will be added to the timelines of the most significant expansions of domestic surveillance in the modern era.”
Em 1998, o ex-professor da USP e então presidente Fernando Henrique Cardoso, aposentado compulsoriamente pelo AI-5 com 37 anos, chamou de “vagabundo” o trabalhador que decide se aposentar com menos de 50 anos.
Quase 20 anos depois, o relator da Reforma da Previdência, Alceu Moreira (PMDB-RS), aproveitou o revival dos anos 90 promovido por Michel Temer e revisitou o Príncipe da Sociologia ao chamar aposentado de “vagabundo remunerado”. Logo ele, que já foi condenado por improbidade administrativa e é alvo de inquérito que apura crimes da Lei de Licitações e corrupção passiva. Mesmo tendo um patrimônio robusto, que aumentou 67% entre 2010 e 2014, Moreira foi agraciado com um mimo do presidente não-eleito: uma doação de R$ 50 mil para sua última campanha eleitoral. Ele também é um dos líderes da bancada ruralista e considera demarcação de terras indígenas e quilombolas uma “vigarice”.
É com todo esse carinho pelo povo e respeito pela coisa pública que o grupo político que tomou o poder pretende instalar uma reforma previdenciária que exigirá do trabalhador a idade mínima de 65 anos para receber o benefício.
Não se discute a necessidade de mudanças que corrijam distorções no sistema previdenciário. Este é um ponto pacífico. Mas, Michel Temer, que se aposentou com 55 anos, quer empurrar goela abaixo uma reforma que limita os direitos dos trabalhadores com a justificativa de que há um rombo na Previdência.
A Associação Nacional dos Auditores Fiscais da Receita Federal (Anfip) e alguns economistas discordam e consideram que há superávit no caixa da Seguridade Social de aproximadamente R$ 54 bilhões. O problema é que a criação da DRU (Desvinculação de Receitas da União) em 95 permitiu que o governo desvie o dinheiro da aposentadoria para outras áreas, como por exemplo os juros da dívida pública – prática que vem sendo seguida por todos os governos até aqui.
Enquanto os trabalhadores têm seus direitos restringidos, bancos se beneficiam duplamente: pelo enriquecimento com os juros e pelo aumento da procura da população por um plano privado de previdência. No fim das contas, a Reforma da Previdência tem a mesma função da PEC 55: empurrar a conta da crise para a massa trabalhadora.
A grande imprensa, como já era de se esperar, abraçou a proposta do governo com muito entusiasmo. Há pouquíssimo espaço para debate, e os colunistas mais prestigiados apontam como a única solução para salvar o país de uma tragédia previdenciária que se avizinha. Praticamente todos os especialistas entrevistados estão alinhados ao governo. Há uma narrativa única nos meios de comunicação, com raríssimas exceções.
Depois do Roda Viva fazer uma entrevista em forma de chá das 5 com Temer e depois da Isto É tê-lo eleito o grande brasileiro de 2016, imaginei que os principais veículos iriam dar uma maneirada no chapabranquismo para não dar tanto na cara. Mas eis que a revista Exame, da Editora Abril, nos brinda com uma capa que mostra que o puxassaquismo continua forte nas paradas, sem pudor e com muita ostentação:
No Facebook, a revista apresentou a nova edição assim:
Não parece jornalismo. Parece uma mensagem motivacional de um livro de auto-ajuda do Lair Ribeiro. Ou uma peça publicitária da assessoria de comunicação informal do Planalto, o MBL, que foi convocado por Temer “para pensar como tornar reformas mais palatáveis”. É o velho cacoete dos tarados pela meritocracia em transformar a exceção em regra. Quer ficar rico e não depender de aposentadoria? Acorde cedo, arregace as mangas e trabalhe duro como Roberto Justus. É como se os olhos azuis do publicitário filho de imigrantes húngaros não lhe oferecessem nenhum privilégio na corrida da ascensão social do capitalismo.
Quer trabalhar até o fim da vida e ser feliz sem aposentadoria? Seja como Mick Jagger! Você pode não ter o rebolado dele, mas poderá também “trabalhar velhice adentro”. Basta se preparar, “vai ser ótimo”. É como se garis, carvoeiros e cortadores de cana desfrutassem das mesmas condições sociais do rockstar londrino para se prepararem para o futuro. Não importa que esses trabalhadores não tenham aquele rebolado sexy nem acumulado uma fortuna em torno de R$ 1 bilhão. Se organizar direitinho, todo trabalhador vai trabalhar feliz até a véspera do seu velório.
O cachê dos Rolling Stones não sai por menos de US$ 2 milhões por show, enquanto o salário médio do brasileiro é de R$ 1.853,00. A comparação da Exame ganha tons ainda mais humorísticos quando descobre-se que Jagger tem direito a receber não só aposentadoria do governo britânico, mas também à instalação de um isolamento térmico gratuito no telhado de sua casa – um benefício dado a todo britânico com mais de 70 anos. São essas realidades que a revista quis comparar.
Mas nem sempre foi assim. No Twitter, o pesquisador George Macedo lembrou dessa capa da EXAME de 2012:
Em apenas 4 anos, a revista trocou o pessimismo da pergunta “Precisamos trabalhar tanto?” para o otimismo da afirmação: “você terá de trabalhar velhice adentro. A boa notícia: preparando-se, vai ser ótimo”.
Portanto, trabalhadores brasileiros, virem Mick Jagger antes da Reforma da Previdência. Vai ser ótimo.
The post Não seja um vagabundo remunerado. Seja Mick Jagger. Vai ser ótimo. appeared first on The Intercept.
Quando duas facções nascem, crescem e se digladiam dentro de presídios, a solução apresentada pelo governo é construir mais presídios. A resposta dada pelo governo federal não apenas é insuficiente para resolver a crise do sistema carcerário — que já dura décadas e culminou nas chacinas noticiadas neste início de ano — como provavelmente tende a fazê-la aumentar.
As primeiras medidas, apresentadas no Plano Nacional de Segurança, foram a construção de cinco novos presídios federais, a aceleração na liberação de verba para o fundo penitenciário — R$ 32 milhões para cada estado, aprovados no fim do ano passado para a construção de novos presídios e que estão sendo liberados agora — e a transferência de presos envolvidos nos massacres realizados em cadeias no Amazonas e em Roraima.
Segundo os especialistas consultados por The Intercept Brasil, a forma como o plano foi apresentado demonstra que “todo o interesse dessas soluções é política eleitoral”, como resume Camila Nunes Dias, professora de Políticas Públicas da Universidade Federal do ABC e membro do Fórum Nacional de Segurança Pública.
Para a antropóloga Karina Biondi, “a gente vê, há mais de uma década, que isso não funciona”. Pesquisadora do Laboratório de Estudos sobre Agenciamentos Prisionais, ela é autora do livro sobre a facção paulistana Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), “Junto e Misturado: Uma etnografia do PCC”:
“Eu só vejo o aumento de vagas nas prisões. É o remédio sistemático do governo paulista, que agora parece estar indo para o nível nacional. Parece que o ministro [Alexandre Moraes, Justiça, ex-secretário de segurança de São Paulo] está acostumado com a forma paulista de se ‘tratar’ isso. A construção de novas prisões vai propagar ainda mais as facções. A transferência sistemática ajuda a propagar o PCC. Para onde for o preso que é ligado ao PCC, ele vai levar a ideia. Acreditam que, ao cortar o que eles acham que seja a cúpula de uma organização, o PCC deixa de se efetivar ou que isso vá debilitar as ações. Não vai.”
Transferir os presos é uma medida emergencial, explica o promotor de justiça paulista Lincoln Gakiya, que investiga o PCC há dez anos: “primeiro, você precisa separar essas facções inimigas porque, se tiverem contato, elas vão se matar. Isso com potencial de se espalhar para as ruas e para outros estados”.
No entanto, é preciso cautela, porque foi pela transferência de detentos pertencentes ao PCC que a ideologia da facção se espalhou para estados como Mato Grosso do Sul e Paraná entre o fim dos anos 90 e o início dos anos 2000. Em Roraima, onde 31 detentos foram mortos, o número de presos apontados como integrantes do PCC nos últimos dois anos passou de 96 para 600.“Se encarcerar resolvesse o problema de segurança pública, o Brasil já teria resolvido o seu problema com a violência”
Para Dias, do Fórum Nacional de Segurança Pública, o problema vai além. Ela aponta que essas medidas adotadas são reflexo de uma política de segurança estruturada no encarceramento em massa, que seria a verdadeira origem do problema: “Tanto a expansão das facções do sudeste quanto o surgimento de grupos locais são efeitos das políticas de encarceramento em massa”.
O próprio ministro Moraes admitiu, na coletiva de lançamento do Plano Nacional de Segurança: “Precisamos racionalizar o sistema penitenciário. O sistema brasileiro – não é culpa de ninguém especificamente – prende muito, mas prende mal”.
Segundo a antropóloga Biondi, “se encarcerar resolvesse o problema de segurança pública, o Brasil já teria resolvido o seu problema com a violência”. Ela pontua que o Brasil é o país que, proporcionalmente à sua população, mais prende pessoas no mundo. E isso não trouxe melhorias nos índices. Em números totais, o Brasil fica no quarto lugar com 622 mil pessoas, perdendo apenas para Estados Unidos (2,2 milhões), da China (1,65 milhões) e da Rússia (644 mil).
Já Gakiya defende que a construção de presídios é necessária porque a população carcerária sofreu um aumento forte nas últimas décadas sem acompanhamento de infraestrutura ou de pessoal especializado para lidar com as mudanças.
“Não é só o caso de criar mais prisões, é também que as prisões não foram feitas no decorrer de décadas. Como você quer discutir a situação se tem um déficit de mais de 40%, quase 50%? Alguns estados têm um número de presos que vai a mais de 50% em relação à capacidade. Tem locais em que uma cela tem mais de 50 indivíduos presos. Não tem a menor condição de dar um cumprimento de pena mínimo, digno. Não tem condição de tentar ressocializar, se é que isso é possível em uma situação dessas”.
Em uma década, a população carcerária brasileira cresceu 86%, chegando atualmente a estimados 622 mil presos; equivalente a 306 presos por 100 mil habitantes, quando a média global é de 144. Os índices de criminalidade, no entanto, aumentaram.
O último Mapa da Violência, estudo que faz um levantamento estatístico de mortes por armas de fogo, revelou que o país bateu o recorde de homicídios. “Se tornam cada vez mais crimes mais graves por conta da própria prisão fazendo as vezes de um centro de organização do crime”, explica Camila Dias.“Temos muitos presos que não deveriam estar presos”
Segundo o defensor público-geral federal, Edson Marques, nas redes estaduais encontram-se muitos detentos que nem eram para estar ali. Ele aponta a presença de pessoas que já deveriam estar em liberdade, porque já pagaram por seus crimes, ou deveriam estar no regime semiaberto.
O ministro da Justiça demonstrou concordar: “Temos muitos presos que não deveriam estar presos”. Ele defendeu que os juízes tenham “um cardápio de opções” — como medidas socioeducativas — que não se limite entre prender ou soltar um criminoso. Moraes apresentou as estimativas: 42% são presos provisórios, quando a média mundial é de 22%. Nos países desenvolvidos esse índice é de cerca de 8%. No Amazonas, onde ocorreu a primeira chacina do ano, o percentual é de 56%.
Para Marques, a sociedade enxerga automaticamente, no preso, a imagem de quem cometeu crimes gravíssimos. E ressalta que há quem tenha cometido crimes mais simples, como dever a pensão alimentícia: “São coisas que outras medidas administrativas seriam mais efetivas. E não é a execução de pena ou a pena em si que vai resolver a situação daquela pessoa”.
O problema de juntar tipos tão diferentes de detentos é que os réus primários, ou aqueles responsáveis por crimes menos complexos, são cooptados dentro da cadeia e acabam se envolvendo com crimes mais graves. Isso acontece porque, uma vez na prisão, vincular-se a uma facção acaba sendo um caminho lógico por uma falta de suporte do próprio Estado, explica Gakiya:
“Muitas vezes o preso chega e não tem alimentação, não tem kit de higiene e, se o Estado não oferece, alguém vai oferecer isso para ele. Alguém vai conseguir um transporte para a família ir visitar, uma cesta básica. E isso acaba atraindo indivíduos de menor periculosidade para essas facções. Normalmente esses indivíduos têm penas menores para cumprir e, quando saem, serão cobrados.”“Por que você precisa do PCC para isso?”
O PCC surgiu como reflexo à vida dentro da prisão, uma resposta ao massacre do Carandiru, em 1992. A partir dali, os detentos resolveram se organizar para tentar garantir uma vida minimamente sustentável naquele ambiente onde estupros e mortes eram corriqueiros. A questão é que essa organização só se tornou necessária porque o próprio Estado falhou em fazê-la.
“Eles sempre se lembram do massacre como algo do qual eles precisam se defender. Antigamente, tinha presos que violentavam outros presos, que estupravam outros presos, violências, mortes, isso era muito comum. Mas, quando o preso precisa do PCC para negociar quantos minutos a água fica aberta por dia… Por que você precisa do PCC para isso?”, provoca a antropóloga Biondi.
Segundo ela, tratar os detentos como atores políticos dentro da cadeia, respeitando os limites de suas penas, seria uma saída para a crise: “Por que eles não podem negociar sobre as condições de vida deles próprios?”. Mas, a própria pesquisadora aponta que a mentalidade atual da sociedade seria uma barreira para essa mudança: “qualquer organização que viesse dos presos, em defesa dos direitos deles mesmos, seria encarada como uma organização criminosa”. Ou seja, a solução para crise no sistema carcerário existe, a questão é se a sociedade a quer.
The post Construir mais presídios só servirá para expandir facções criminosas, explicam especialistas appeared first on The Intercept.
The darkness that fell over a roomful of senators, reporters, and onlookers on Thursday thanks to an unexpected power outage was fitting for a discussion of the future of the Central Intelligence Agency under Rep. Mike Pompeo, a nominee few career intelligence veterans know much about.
The Republican lawmaker from Kansas donned two hats while trying to convince the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence he deserves to be the next spy chief: the congenial small business owner whose license plate reads “EAT BEEF,” and the tough-talking former soldier, first in his class at West Point, ready to defend the country at any cost.
While he promised to abide by current legislation on surveillance and intelligence collection—even suggesting he didn’t intend to seek any policy changes in those areas—his views on making maximum use of government authorities to collect and analyze sensitive personal data alarmed some members of the committee.
Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., demanded to know where Pompeo stood on the controversial issue of domestic surveillance, pointing to a recent Op-ed in the Wall Street Journal where the nominee proposed amassing “all metadata” publicly available, including financial information and “lifestyle” details, in order to sniff out possible terrorists and criminals. “Are there any boundaries?” Wyden asked.
While Pompeo reassured Wyden there are in fact “legal boundaries” to prohibit him from creating such a massive dossier of information, particularly on Americans, he argued the intelligence community would be “grossly negligent” if it didn’t take advantage of “publicly available information…to make Americans safe.”
Pompeo gave conflicting answers when Wyden demanded to know if he would outsource intelligence collection to foreign partners; he denied its legality during the hearing, but suggested in written testimony he’d be happy to accept nearly any information other nations offered him, including bulk surveillance. “It is appropriate for the CIA to receive such information from foreign partners without the same requirements that would apply if the CIA itself were to collect the information, or to request that the foreign partner collect the information,” he wrote, except in “limited circumstances.”
Pompeo also promised to do everything he could to defend “the critical nature of the authorities” the intelligence community has to spy, and make sure that his employees didn’t shy away from using those authorities out of fear of political retribution.
In the past, Pompeo has denounced former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, even calling for his execution. He has also proposed legislation that would roll back changes made to NSA’s bulk collection of information about Americans’ phone calls, specifically following the passage of the USA Freedom Act in 2015, which placed that information back in the hands of the telephone and Internet companies. Even the Executive Director of the NSA recently praised the shift as a decision that preserves capability while protecting privacy and civil liberties.
Pompeo admitted that he “had not had a chance to have a complete briefing” on the changes to intelligence collection made since the USA Freedom Act passed, despite his vocal opposition to them, suggesting he would bring forward any recommended policy changes after he’d studied it more closely.
However, despite the amount of attention devoted to Pompeo’s positions on surveillance, decisions about signals intelligence and collection won’t be solely his to make. “He’d be a somewhat secondary player in that decision,” Aki Peritz, former CIA analyst and senior fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, told The Intercept. He suggested Pompeo would have to work with President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Gen. James Mattis, to push those types of policies through.
The bigger question may ultimately be how Pompeo gets along with Dan Coats, the Republican senator from Indiana who is slated to become Director of National Intelligence, and Michael Flynn, who will serve as National Security Advisor. What Pompeo and Coats say to the president “will get filtered through Flynn, when the doors close, and they go back to their agencies,” noted Ted Johnson, a national security research manager at Deloitte and a former aide-de-camp to two former NSA directors, in an interview with The Intercept.
One of the larger issues Pompeo will face is the morale of the CIA workforce in the face of derision from the president-elect in recent weeks, particularly over assessments of Russian hacking and influence over the presidential election. “Basically, Pompeo is going to have his work cut out for him reassuring a concerned CIA workforce that things aren’t going to turn very ugly over the next four years,” Peritz, former CIA analyst, said. “He also has to show he is willing to speak truth to power, even if it costs him his job. CIA doesn’t need yes-men.”
Several senators noted the frustration and despair of current CIA employees. James Woolsey, former CIA director, abruptly parted ways with Trump’s transition team in early January, reportedly over concerns for Trump’s cozy connection to Russia. Former CIA spokesman George Little went as far as predicting that after inauguration “we will be less safe” thanks to Trump’s praise for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and Russian President Vladamir Putin.
While President-elect Trump initially avoided taking a firm stand on the intelligence community’s unanimous conclusion that the Russians digitally infiltrated the Democratic National Committee’s servers, Pompeo was straightforward. “It’s pretty clear what took place here,” he said, later concluding he had no reasons to doubt the report prepared by the intelligence community.
He promised to brief Trump on the issue as it continues to unfold, whether it’s politically popular or not. “I would expect the President-Elect would demand that of me,” he said.
Pompeo also appeared to part ways with Trump on the issue of waterboarding—a technique that Trump said he supports. When asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein if he would “restart the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques that fall outside of the Army field manual,” Pompeo replied, “absolutely not.”
“It’s significant that Rep. Pompeo publicly committed to abide by the law and reject orders to torture,” Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International, said in a statement following the hearing. “That commitment must remain steadfast if he is confirmed to lead the CIA.”
Bernie Sanders introduced a very simple symbolic amendment Wednesday night, urging the federal government to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, where they are considerably cheaper. Such unrestricted drug importation is currently prohibited by law.
The policy has widespread support among Americans: one Kaiser poll taken in 2015 found that 72 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing for importation. President-elect Donald Trump also campaigned on a promise to allow for importation.
The Senate voted down the amendment 52-46, with two senators not voting. Unusually, the vote was not purely along party lines: 13 Republicans joined Sanders and a majority of Democrats in supporting the amendment, while 13 Democrats and a majority of Republicans opposed it.
One of those Democrats was New Jersey’s Cory Booker, who is considered a rising star in the party and a possible 2020 presidential contender.
In a statement to the media after the vote, Booker’s office said he supports the importation of prescription drugs but that “any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure foreign drugs meet American safety standards. I opposed an amendment put forward last night that didn’t meet this test.”
This argument is the same one offered by the pharmaceutical industry. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which lobbies against importation, maintains that it opposes importation because “foreign governments will not ensure that prescription drugs entering the U.S. from abroad are safe and effective.”
The safety excuse has long been a refuge for policymakers who don’t want to assist Americans struggling with prescription drug costs. Bills to legalize importation passed in 2000 and 2007, but expired after the Clinton and Bush administrations refused to certify that it would be safe. The Obama administration also cited safety concerns when opposing an importation measure in the Affordable Care Act.
A second amendment Wednesday, authored by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, would have allowed importation pending a safety certification, just like the previous laws passed on the subject. It also failed. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., used that amendment to claim on Twitter that he voted “to lower drug prices through importation from Canada,” and Booker referred to the Wyden amendment in his statement as well. This is a well-worn tactic from opponents of importation to mislead their constituents, as they know such certification will never occur.
The safety excuse is mostly a chimera, as most of the drugs that would be imported from Canada were originally manufactured in the United States; they’re just cheaper there, because the Canadian government uses a review board and price negotiation to make drugs more affordable.
“My first response to that is show me the dead Canadians. Where are the dead Canadians?” former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, once asked during his own push to allow for importation.
Democrats blocked importation from becoming part of the Affordable Care Act in 2009, with over 30 votes in opposition, because they feared it would have pushed the pharmaceutical industry to oppose the underlying legislation. They also voted in large numbers to oppose importation as part of an FDA bill in 2012.
Booker and some of his Democratic colleagues who opposed the Sanders amendment are longtime friends of the drug industry. As MapLight data shows, Booker has received more pharmaceutical manufacturing cash over the past six years than any other Democratic senator: $267,338. In addition, significant numbers of pharmaceutical and biotech firms reside in Booker’s home state of New Jersey. Other Democrats receiving six-figure donations from the industry, like Casey, Patty Murray, and Michael Bennet, opposed the amendment.
The post Cory Booker Joins Senate Republicans to Kill Measure to Import Cheaper Medicine From Canada appeared first on The Intercept.
The U.S. Senate will soon decide whether Rex Tillerson, the longtime leader of the world’s largest oil and gas company, Exxon Mobil, is qualified to serve as the U.S. secretary of state.
His confirmation hearings this week came at a moment of climate emergency, when scientific studies indicate that dramatic international action is required to avoid massive deterioration of coastlines, intensification of drought, increased frequency of big storms, acidification of oceans, and all the other problems associated with climate change: mass migrations, violent conflicts, loss of languages, and species extinctions.
Although Tillerson faced a few tough questions from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his climate change record on Wednesday, he was also shown deference for his allegedly scientific views on climate, with senators particularly praising his perspective on the issue as that of an engineer.
And news stories favorably juxtaposed Tillerson’s acknowledgment of climate change with Trump’s 2012 tweet that the whole thing is a Chinese hoax.
But climate denial takes on many forms these days, some considerably more subtle than others, and at Wednesday’s hearing Tillerson displayed a mastery of obfuscation that only a son of Exxon Mobil, a chief benefactor of climate denial, could have achieved — ostensibly acknowledging climate change while still denying the need to actually do anything about it that might significantly slow the burning of fossil fuels.
“Years of outright denial has lowered the bar to where someone says, as Tillerson does, ‘Yes I recognize greenhouse gases are causing a change in the atmosphere,’ and people are like, ‘Oh yay, he’s not a denier,’” said Stephen Kretzmann, head of the advocacy group Oil Change International. “I actually think Rex Tillerson is the worst case scenario for secretary of state on climate.”
Those listening to the hearing could be forgiven if they left believing Tillerson had committed to remaining a party to the Paris climate agreement, with its moderate goal of keeping the rise in earth temperature below 3.6 degrees. But his leaky language left plenty of space for promises to fall through. Tillerson said repeatedly that he would push for the U.S. to retain a “seat at the table.” Yet he noted President-elect Trump’s commitment to “America first,” and said that funding for international climate agreements would be reviewed from the “bottom-up.”
Asked by committee chair Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., to succinctly state his “personal position” on climate change, Tillerson replied, “The increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect. Our ability to predict that effect is very limited.”
When Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., asked him to acknowledge the scientific finding that climate change increases the odds that certain types of extreme weather events will occur. Tillerson replied, “There’s some literature out there that suggests that; there’s other literature that says it’s inconclusive.”
Such obtuse answers are a hallmark of the contemporary denial movement and reveal a suspicious lack of enthusiasm about heeding what the most definitive studies say. Tillerson is right that we can’t predict exactly how deeply climate change will unravel us, but the range of possibilities laid out in innumerable studies warn against a wait-and-see attitude.
Despite Exxon Mobil’s promise under Tillerson to stop donating to some organizations that promote climate denial, the practice has continued. The company donated a reported $6.5 million to such groups from 2008 to 2015.
And while Tillerson in 2009 came out in support of a carbon tax, a policy that could reduce carbon emissions, he made that announcement at a moment when it conflicted with a major push for a bill that, had it passed, would have enshrined a totally different carbon reduction approach, called cap-and-trade.
The simple truth is that as Tillerson was shifting his corporation’s rhetoric away from climate doubt, he was also pushing forward a program of oil and gas extraction that, if it continues apace, would prevent nations from achieving the Paris agreement temperature goal.
The issue that senators focused on the most by far on Wednesday was Tillerson’s close relationship with Russia and his efforts with Exxon to convince the U.S. to end sanctions against the country, which stalled oil and gas deals reportedly worth billions.
But lost in that story has been the nature of the project Exxon Mobil had planned. In September 2014, Exxon and the Russian state oil company Rosneft discovered oil in the Russian Arctic Kara Sea only a week before U.S. sanctions went into effect against Russia for its annexation of Crimea.
According to Exxon, the Kara Sea licenses occupy an area “equivalent to all the leases in the Gulf of Mexico combined.” Arctic oil extraction is a long-term project — getting to the point where the oil is making it to market can take decades of work and an incredible investment of resources that, to be worthwhile, requires high crude prices. Because of this, a study published in Nature in 2015 stated that to achieve the 3.6 degrees emission scenario, no Arctic oil should be extracted. In fact, last May the oil company Total declared that it would not pursue Arctic exploration, because “the [3.6 degree] scenario highlights the fact that a part of the world’s fossil fuel resources cannot be developed.”
Meanwhile, Obama has banned drilling in large portions of the U.S. Arctic because of extreme conditions that make drilling difficult and cleaning up a spill even harder. Tillerson, for his part, pushed the U.S. government to embrace Arctic drilling. In 2015 he led an Arctic research group for the National Petroleum Council, an Energy Department advisory committee whose members mostly work for the industry, that published a report encouraging the Obama administration to expand Arctic opportunities in the U.S.
In an interview about that report with the Associated Press, Tillerson described a vision of long-term reliance on fossil fuels. “There will come a time when all the resources that are supplying the world’s economies today are going to go in decline. [Arctic oil reserves] will be what’s needed next. If we start today it’ll take 20, 30, 40 years for those to come on,” he said. “It’s back to that insatiable appetite that the world has for energy. Oil demand is going to continue to grow.”
Tillerson’s understanding of climate science and his stance on the Paris climate agreement could have major consequences for the planet. As secretary of state, he would become the agreement’s steward, playing a key role in determining how quickly countries decarbonize their economies and in holding the U.S. to its emissions pledges.
Failure to meet the Paris goal would likely have dire consequences for global populations. But the possibility of success is already spelling trouble for Exxon Mobil, because an agreement to burn fewer fossil fuels inevitably reduces the value of the vast oil and gas reserves currently held by the major oil companies.
In fact,the SEC in August began investigating whether the company was overvaluing the reserves that it plans to sell in the future. Similar probes have been launched by Attorneys General Eric Schneiderman of New York and Maura Healey of Massachussetts. A key aspect of those investigations is the question of whether Exxon Mobil deceived shareholders by failing to disclose its own decades of research, exposed by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, indicating climate change regulations could eventually prevent its product from going to market.
“Tillerson spent his career at a company whose current business model hinges on the failure of international efforts to address climate change, so that is really core to his entire working career and the DNA that he would bring to the role of secretary of state,” said Kathy Mulvey, corporate accountability campaigns director for Union of Concerned Scientists.
As secretary of state, Tillerson would be able to launch technology sharing programs like the Global Shale Initiative, launched under Hillary Clinton’s State Department, which involved teaching other countries to frack. He could help start electrification programs in energy-poor nations, like the State Department’s Power Africa program — although perhaps not with the current emphasis on renewables that has angered the coal industry. And in his tricky diplomatic negotiations he’d be able to use energy as a bargaining chip.
“You have a situation internationally where the big part of the climate problem that’s not being faced is the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. That is the part that Tillerson won’t touch,” Kretzmann said. “If you had a classic, full-on climate denier, the world would be that much more clear that they had to take leadership on their own. … People are going to say, ‘Well, we can talk to him on climate.’ And that’s going to be a problem.”
In fact, Tillerson repeatedly urged approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have shipped tar sands oil out of the Kearl project, one of three Canadian oil sands projects that currently comprise more than a third of Exxon’s liquid reserves. Secretary of State John Kerry denied the pipeline a permit, a decision that will be up for reconsideration with Trump in the White House. Tillerson has downplayed the fact that oil sands release around 17 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional crude and would likely be unprofitable in a climate-safe energy market, stating that “despite what some claim, the greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands development are similar to many other heavy crudes.”
During the most aggressive exchange on climate change of the hearing, Sen. Tim Kaine, former running mate to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, asked Tillerson “whether those allegations about Exxon Mobil’s knowledge of climate science and decision to fund and promote a view contrary to its awareness of the science, whether those allegations are true or false?”
Tillerson ducked, “The question would have to be put to Exxon Mobil.”
“Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question or are you refusing to answer my question?” Kaine asked
“A little of both,” Tillerson replied.
The post Rex Tillerson Doesn’t Sound Like a Climate Denier, But He Acts Like One appeared first on The Intercept.
For 21 months, a coalition of nations led by Saudi Arabia has been relentlessly bombing Yemen, using U.S.- and U.K.-produced weapons and intelligence in a war that has devastated Yemen and killed well over 10,000 civilians.
There is abundant evidence that the high civilian death toll in Yemen is the result of deliberate — not accidental — strikes by Saudi Arabia. During its air campaign, Saudi Arabia has bombed endless civilian targets — including homes, farms, markets, factories, water infrastructure, hospitals, and children’s schools — and has even gone so far as to use internationally banned cluster weapons, which are designed to inflict damage over a wide area and often remain lethal years after being dropped.
But when secretary of state nominee and former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was asked about Saudi Arabia’s use of cluster weapons during his confirmation hearing Wednesday, he declined to answer, and suggested that the way to discourage Saudi Arabia from hitting civilians in Yemen is to provide them with additional targeting intelligence.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., asked Tillerson during his confirmation hearing: “Saudi Arabia has been utilizing cluster munitions in Yemen. Much of the world has said these are terrible weapons to use, because they have a range of fuses and they can often go off months or years after they’ve been laid down. These are the cluster bombs, you’re familiar with them. They’ve also been targeting civilians. How should the U.S. respond to those actions?”
Tillerson replied: “Well I would hope that we could work with Saudi Arabia perhaps by providing them better targeting intelligence, better targeting capability to avoid mistakenly identifying targets where civilians are hit, impacted, so that’s an area where I would hope that cooperation with them could minimize this type of collateral damage.”
“How about with regard to the use of cluster munitions?” the senator asked.
“Well I’d have to examine what our past policy has been. I don’t want to get out ahead, if we’ve made commitments in this area, I don’t want to get out ahead of anyone on that,” Tillerson concluded.
Merkely clearly saw Tillerson’s response as an example of how the U.S. gives Saudi Arabia a pass due to its oil reserves. “We’ve often been reluctant to put as much pressure on states that we are dependent upon for oil, than in situations with states where we’re not dependent on oil,” he noted.
But Tillerson’s response went beyond deferring to the Saudis — it showed either a callous disregard for civilian lives lost or striking ignorance about what is going on in the region. And the latter is less likely, considering that before becoming CEO, Tillerson oversaw Exxon’s operations in Yemen and negotiated extensively with the Yemeni government for natural gas concessions.
The United States already provides targeting intelligence — and that has not stopped Saudi Arabia from bombing civilian targets. In fact, there are indications that the Saudi Arabia may be using U.S. intelligence to intentionally target civilians. Obama administration officials told the New York Times in August that the U.S. provides Saudi Arabia with a “no-strike” list of critical infrastructure, and that Saudi Arabia has violated it. On August 14 for example, coalition warplanes destroyed a bridge to Sanaa, Yemen’s capital city, that U.S. officials had designated for them as “critical to responding to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”
The Obama administration has actually reduced intelligence sharing in response to Saudi Arabia’s apparent disregard for civilian life. In December, after publicly rebuking Saudi Arabia for bombing a funeral home, the Obama administration cut back its targeting support the Saudi coalition and stopped a shipment of guidance systems that convert bombs into precision-guided munitions.
The move was a tacit acknowledgment that Saudi Arabia is not killing civilians by mistake, but intentionally targeting them with U.S. technology and intelligence. Obama administration officials even anonymously told Reuters that their decision was motivated by “systemic, endemic” problems with Saudi Arabia’s targeting decisions.
The Obama administration also put a hold on a transfer of CBU-105 cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia in May, but has been reluctant to condemn their use publicly. In June, Pentagon opposed a Congressional measure that would have stopped the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia.
“Instead of ‘providing them with better intelligence,’ Rex Tillerson should call for a cut-off of all U.S. arms and military support to Saudi Arabia,” said Sunjeev Bery, the Middle East Advocacy Director for Amnesty International USA, in an email to The Intercept. “The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition has been merciless in its bombardment of civilian communities across Yemen. In its war against the Houthis, Saudi Arabia and its allies have shown utter disregard for civilian life, killing and injuring thousands — and displacing millions.”
In August, Textron Industries — the last producer of cluster weapons in the U.S. — announced that it would phase out the production of CBU-105 bombs. Textron explained the move in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying that sales of the weapon relied on “both executive branch and congressional approval,” and that “the current political environment has made it difficult to obtain these approvals.”
“Last year, U.S. cluster bomb manufacturer Textron announced that it was getting out of the business,” said Bery. “It is time for the U.S. government to do the same. The U.S. should sign the international treaty banning cluster bombs and join the 100 nations that have already ratified the treaty.”
Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015, months after Houthi rebels overran the capital city Sana’a and deposed the Saudi-backed leader, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The U.S. has been a background partner in the war since the beginning, by supplying the bombing coalition targeting intelligence and tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, and flying refueling missions for Saudi aircraft.
Throughout his administration, Obama has sold $115 billion in weapons to the Saudis, more than any other president.
The post Rex Tillerson Wants to Provide Saudi Arabia With More Help to Bomb Yemen appeared first on The Intercept.
Mário de Andrade abre o primeiro prefácio de “Macunaíma, o herói sem nenhum caráter” escrevendo sobre o personagem que se tornaria maior do que ele mesmo: “Macunaíma não é um símbolo nem se tome os casos dele por enigmas ou fábulas”. No segundo prefácio, ele insiste na negação impossível: “Só não quero é que tomem Macunaíma e outros personagens como símbolos”.
O fato de que o criador do maior herói-símbolo brasileiro, um ícone cultural hoje estabelecido e aceito como expressão da forma e essência do país, o negue justamente como símbolo pode ser menos contraditório do que parece. Talvez sejamos macunaíma demais, sem “civilização própria ou consciência tradicional”, para nos fixarmos num mito identitário ou ideal coletivo. Talvez a “falta de caráter” do Brasil o faça imune a metáforas.
Penso nisso ao ver o vídeo que mostra MC Beijinho cantando “Me Libera Nega” algemado num camburão em Salvador ao lado de um repórter branco que lhe empresta o microfone – para depois ser catapultado para a fama ao mesmo tempo que canibais da MPB lhe vampirizam. Preso em flagrante por assalto, o cantor gatuno não para de cantar, mesmo quando o jornalista do “Balanço Geral”, da TV Record, afasta o microfone para depois vaticinar: “é um artista”.
Alguém poderá tentar usar MC Beijinho como símbolo de alguma coisa, mas o episódio parece “por demais forte simbolicamente” para tal. É só dar play e ser nocauteado pelo Brasil.
A não metáfora continua. Preso e solto em novembro, o baiano de 19 anos Ítalo Gonçalves Conceição gravou a música e um clipe no mês seguinte e virou notícia em todo o país nos primeiros dias do novo ano. Na mesma semana, o Brasil viu o massacre de mais de 90 pessoas sob custódia do Estado em presídios de Manaus e Boa Vista na pior tragédia do tipo desde o Carandiru.
A resposta do governo foi um encolher de ombros (“acidente pavoroso”, disse o ilegítimo) e a descoberta de que o secretário Nacional de Juventude (?) de Temer era um comentarista de portal do tipo “tinha que matar mais.” O sempre equivocado ministro da Justiça, Alexandre de Moraes, que em outubro do ano passado já tinha chamado uma rebelião em Boa Vista de “situação pontual”, mentiu sobre ajudas pedidas pelo Estado de Roraima e ganhou um abaixo-assinado de juristas pela sua exoneração.
Enquanto a política de Estado para lidar com o caos carcerário, provocado pela guerra às drogas e pelo encarceramento em massa, for mais guerra às drogas e encarceramento em massa, estaremos cada vez mais distantes da paz. Nossa política vai na contramão da tendência mundial, da opinião de especialistas e fortalece o crime organizado, criando uma máquina de alistamento para facções – que efetivamente governam os presídios no lugar do Estado. Não é exagero dizer que o pai do PCC e seu maior sócio-investidor é o governo brasileiro.
O estrelato de um assaltante maconheiro que é revelado para o país algemado num camburão poderia servir para popularizar o debate sobre a descriminalização das drogas e a falência do sistema prisional brasileiro. Mas o hit do verão já veio acompanhado de entrevistas de MC Beijinho numa clínica de reabilitação, ajudando a consolidar a percepção de que o uso de drogas é responsável pela marginalização – e não o contrário.
No carnaval, vamos todos beber, fumar e cheirar bastante ouvindo “Me Libera Nega” do ex-presidiário “usuário de entorpecente” que logo estrelará campanhas contra as drogas. O Brasil vai continuar investindo no caos, no assassinato e no encarceramento de jovens negros. A tão propagada transformação da vida do assaltante de Itapuã através de “Me Libera Nega” com sorte vai servir apenas para libertá-lo do destino que lhe aguardava – o mesmo que seguirá destruindo a vida de milhares de brasileiros todos os dias.
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Em janeiro de 1961, Dwight Eisenhower fez seu Discurso de despedida após dois mandatos como presidente dos EUA; o general de cinco estrelas decidiu alertar o público americano para esta ameaça específica à democracia: “Nos conselhos de governo, temos de nos defender contra a aquisição de influência injustificada, solicitada ou não, do complexo militar-industrial. O potencial para a ascensão desastrosa de poder indevido existe e persistirá”. Esse discurso antecedeu a escalada de uma década da Guerra do Vietnã, mais duas décadas da paranoia da Guerra Fria, e a era do pós-9/11, momentos históricos que aumentaram de forma radical o poder dessa facção não eleita.
É essa facção que agora está em guerra franca contra o legítimo presidente eleito e extremamente rejeitado Donald Trump. Seus membros recorrem a táticas sujas clássicas da Guerra Fria e aos ingredientes essenciais do fenômeno recentemente denominado como “notícias falsas”.
Seu instrumento mais valioso é a mídia americana, que em larga medida venera, serve, acredita e se alinha com agentes de inteligência ocultos. E os Democratas, ainda em estado de choque com a traumática e inesperada derrota eleitoral e colapso sistêmico do partido, aparentando estar cada vez mais alheios ao bom senso, estão dispostos a – ávidos por – aceitar qualquer acusação, aplaudir qualquer tática e apoiar qualquer vilão, sem observar a natureza barata e sem fundamento desses comportamentos.
Os perigos graves que a presidência de Trump representa são muitos e bem explícitos. Existe uma ampla gama de táticas legítimas e eficazes para combater essas ameaças: desde coalizões bipartidárias no Congresso e desafios jurídicos Constitucionais à insurreição dos cidadãos e contínua desobediência civil agressiva. Todas essas estratégias já viram sua eficácia periodicamente comprovada em tempos de crise política ou excessos de autoritarismo.
Porém, aplaudir a CIA e seus aliados dissimulados com o intuito de subverter unilateralmente as eleições americanas e impor suas próprias imposições políticas ao presidente é pervertido e autodestrutivo. Empoderar precisamente as entidades que produziram as atrocidades mais vergonhosas e a falsidade sistêmica que imperou nas últimas seis décadas é desespero da pior espécie. Exigir que afirmações anônimas não comprovadas – emitidas pelos próprios setores cuja função é fazer propaganda e mentir – sejam de imediato veneradas como a Verdade equivale a um ataque ao jornalismo, à democracia e à racionalidade mais básica do ser humano. E marcar de forma casual adversários nacionais que se recusem a serem chamados de traidores e agentes agentes estrangeiros revela falência moral.
Além de tudo isso, com esses ataques fajutos e obviamente fraudulentos, os oponentes de Trump estão trabalhando em seu favor, recrutando meios de comunicação para liderar o caminho. Quando chegar a hora de expor a verdadeira corrupção e criminalidade de Trump, quem vai acreditar nas pessoas e instituições que se mostraram dispostas a validar todo o tipo de afirmações, independentemente de serem despojadas de fundamentos fatuais?
Todos estes ingredientes tóxicos estiveram ontem patentes no ataque mais baixo e agressivo jamais orquestrado pelo Estado Paralelo contra Trump: conferir credibilidade e revelar publicamente um documento que não foi investigado nem verificado, compilado por um agente anônimo vendido aos Democratas, acusando Trump de uma série de crimes, atos corruptos e conduta privada obscena. A reação a esses acontecimentos demonstra que, apesar de Trump representar perigos graves, não menos graves são essas tentativas cada vez mais loucas, negligentes e destrutivas de minar sua presidência.
Por meses, com uma clareza sem precedentes, a CIA apoiou incondicionalmente a candidatura de Hillary Clinton e tentou derrotar Donald Trump. Em agosto, o ex-diretor interino da CIA, Michael Morell, anunciou o seu apoio à Clinton no New York Times, afirmando que o “Presidente Putin recrutou Trump como agente involuntário da Federação Russa.” O diretor da CIA e da NSA sob o mandato de George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, dirigiu-se ao Washington Post, na semana anterior às eleições e após também apoiar Clinton, para avisar que “Donald Trump soa parecido com Vladimir Putin, acrescentando que Trump é “o idiota útil, um tanto naif, manipulado por Moscou, secretamente desprezado, mas cujo apoio cego é aceito e explorado”.
Não é difícil entender por que a CIA preferiu Clinton a Trump. Enquanto Trump denunciou a guerra por procuração da CIA contra Assad, Clinton criticou Obama por restringi-la e queria mesmo estendê-la. Clinton claramente desejava adotar uma linha mais dura que Obama contra os inimigos antigos da CIA em Moscou, enquanto Trump queria uma melhora nas relações entre os dois países. Em geral, Clinton defendeu e tendia a prolongar a ordem militar internacional vigente há décadas, da qual depende a posição de destaque da CIA e do Pentágono, enquanto Trump – por instabilidade e convicção – constitui uma ameaça a essa ordem.
Seja qual for a opinião de cada um sobre esses debates, é o processo democrático – as eleições presidenciais, o processo de confirmação, os líderes do Congresso, os procedimentos jurídicos, o ativismo dos cidadãos, a desobediência civil – que deve determinar a forma como eles são resolvidos. Todas essas disputas políticas foram debatidas às claras; o público escutou todas elas; e Trump ganhou. Ninguém deve ambicionar ser governado pelos senhores do Estado Paralelo.
Chuck Schumer on Trump's tweet hitting intel community: "He's being really dumb to do this." https://t.co/MOcU8ruOPK
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 4, 2017
Contudo, é precisamente esse domínio do Estado Paralelo que desejam os agentes Democratas e personalidades da mídia. Se havia dúvida, elas foram dissipadas ontem à noite.
Em outubro passado, um agente político e ex-funcionário da agência de inteligência britânica MI6 estava sendo pago por Democratas para procurar escândalos sobre Trump (anteriormente, o agente era pago por Republicanos opostos a Trump). O agente tentou convencer inúmeros meios de comunicação a publicar um memorando extenso repleto de acusações escandalosas sobre traição ao país, corrupção corporativa e aventuras sexuais de Trump, com o tema principal de que Trump servia a Moscou pois estava sendo chantageado e subornado.
Embora muitos tivesses o memorando, nenhum veículo o publicou. Isso se deu porque essas alegações eram anônimas e não vinham acompanhadas de nenhuma forma de forma. Mesmo nesse novo clima de permissividade em que a mídia se encontra, ninguém estava disposto a ser associado ao material jornalisticamente. O editor executivo do New York Times Dean Baquet declarou ontem à noite que não publicaria essas alegações “completamente infundadas” porque “nós, assim como outros, investigamos as alegações e não as corroboramos, e acreditamos não ser nosso papel publicar informações que não podemos confirmar”.
O mais perto que esse agente chegou de publicar o material foi quando convenceu David Corn, do site Mother Jones, a publicar um artigo em 31 de outubro contando que “um ex-agente de inteligência de um país ocidental” alegava que “havia fornecido memorandos ao [FBI], baseados em suas interações recentes com fontes russas, argumentando que o governo russo vem tentando cooperar e ajudar Trump há anos”.
Mas como essa alegação era anônima, não acompanhada de provas ou mais detalhes (que Corn não revelou), o impacto foi muito pequeno. Mas ontem, tudo mudou. Por quê?
A única coisa que mudou foi que a comunidade de inteligência decidiu levar a público todas essas informações de forma a torná-las plausíveis. Em dezembro, John McCain forneceu uma cópia deste relatório ao FBI e exigiu que fosse levado a sério.
Na semana passada, os chefes das agências de inteligência decidiram declarar que este ex-agente da inteligência britânica e suas alegações eram suficientemente “confiáveis” para justificar que Trump e Obama fossem informados sobre elas, e, dessa forma, carimbando as acusações com uma vaga, indireta e questionável aprovação. Alguém — ao que tudo indica, inúmeros oficiais — foi à CNN contar que isso tinha acontecido, o que fez com que a CNN fosse ao ar e, com um ar de gravidade e urgência, anunciasse que os mais importantes oficiais de inteligência do país haviam informado a Obama e Trump que a Rússia havia coletado informações que “comprometiam o presidente eleito Donald Trump”.
A CNN se recusou a especificar a natureza das alegações com o argumento de que não teria sido possível “verificá-las”. Mas, com o documento nas mãos de diversos meios de comunicação, era apenas uma questão de tempo — muito pouco tempo — até que alguém tomasse a frente e publicasse todo o material. O site Buzzfeed o fez rapidamente, publicando todas as alegações anônimas e não confirmadas sobre Trump.
O editor chefe Ben Smith publicou um memorando explicando a decisão, dizendo que, embora haja “fortes motivos para duvidar das alegações”, Buzzfeed “defende a publicação” e que os “americanos podem se definir quanto as alegações por conta própria”. A publicação do documento gerou enorme tráfego (e lucro) para o site, com milhões de visualizações do artigo e leitura do “dossiê”.
É possível discordar da decisão do site Buzzfeed e, de acordo com o New York Times hoje pela manhã, muitos jornalistas discordam. É quase impossível imaginar uma situação em que seja justificável que um veículo de comunicação publique um documento completamente anônimo e não confirmado, repleto de alegações caluniosas sobre as quais o próprio editor chefe do veículo diz haver “fortes motivos para duvidar”, baseado no fato de que querem deixar que o público decida se acredita nelas ou não.
Mas, mesmo se alguém acredita que isso seja completamente injustificável, as circunstâncias de ontem provaram ser o cenário adequado para fazê-lo. Após a CNN mencionar essas alegações indiscretamente, deixaram que sua própria audiência imaginasse os escândalos que a Rússia tinha em mãos para chantagear e controlar Trump. Ao publicar as acusações, Buzzfeed encerrou a especulação. Mais importante ainda é o fato de ter permitido que todos constatassem o quão duvidoso era o documento que havia sido elevado pela CIA e pela CNN ao status de ameaça à segurança nacional.
Logo depois de ser publicado, foi revelada a natureza falsa do “dossiê”. Seu autor não era apenas anônimo, mas tinha sido pago por Democratas (e, antes disso, pelos adversários de Trump dentro do Partido Republicano) para levantar escândalos a respeito de Trump. Para piorar, o próprio autor não cita qualquer prova. Em vez disso, contava com uma cadeia de outras pessoas anônimas que afirma terem passado essas informações para ele. Ainda pior, o documento está repleto de erros amadorísticos.
Embora muitas das alegações não tenham sido verificadas, algumas delas podem ser confirmadas. Uma das alegações – que o advogado de Trump, Michael Cohen, havia viajado secretamente para Praga em agosto para se encontrar com oficiais russos – foi categoricamente negada por Cohen, que insistiu nunca ter ido a Praga em sua vida (Praga é o mesmo lugar que os oficiais de inteligência disseram, em 2001, ser o local de um encontro que nunca aconteceu entre oficiais iraquianos e os sequestradores de aviões do 11 de setembro, o que contribuiu para que 70% dos americanos acreditassem, até a segunda metade de 2003, que Saddam havia planejado pessoalmente o ataque de 11 de setembro. Hoje pela manhã, o Wall Street Journal contou que “o FBI não havia encontrado nenhuma prova de que Cohen tivesse viajado para a República Tcheca”.
Nada disso impediu que agentes democráticos e figuras de destaque na mídia tratassem as alegações não confirmadas ou verificadas como se fossem revelações gravíssimas. De Zach Beauchamp da Vox:
Good god pic.twitter.com/BiGqkiobA1
— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) January 10, 2017
Look, don't take anything in this dossier as gospel. But it's definitely evidence in favor of some pretty extraordinary claims.
— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) January 10, 2017
Borzou Daragai, do site Buzzfeed publicou uma série de tweets discutindo as sérias consequências dessas revelações, lembrando raramente de mencionar um aspecto jornalístico fundamental em suas reflexões: “se for verdade”.
— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 11, 2017
— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 11, 2017
— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 11, 2017
— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 11, 2017
Enquanto isso, a comentarista progressista, Rebecca Solnit, disse que isso era uma “prova concreta” a respeito da “traição” de Trump, enquanto Markos Moulitsas, do Daily Kos, ecoava o mesmo tema.
With CNN confirming that intelligence chiefs consider this report credible, it's about time to start using the word "treason"
— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) January 11, 2017
Enquanto alguns Democratas pediam cautela – o democrata John Marshall louvavelmente alertou: “Eu diria que, ao ler “inteligência” bruta, extremamente bruta, as pessoas precisam manter o ceticismo, mesmo que tenham razão em achar que Trump é péssimo”. A reação em sua grande maioria foi a mesma que nos outros casos em que a CIA e seus aliados publicaram alegações não confirmadas sobre Trump e a Rússia: consideraram instantaneamente as afirmações como verdadeiras, além de fazerem declarações de que comprovam a traição de Trump (e qualquer um que expresse ceticismo sendo chamado de agente ou fantoche do Kremlin).
Há um grande risco que essa manobra saia pela culatra e beneficie Trump em detrimento daqueles que o opõem. Se uma das graves alegações do “dossiê ” for comprovadamente falsa – como a viagem de Cohen para Praga – muitas pessoas concluirão, com o encorajamento de Trump, que esses grandes canais (CNN e BuzzFeed) e as facções anti-Trump do governo (CIA) estão distribuindo “notícias falsas” para destruir o presidente eleito. Na opinião de muitas pessoas, isso vai desmoralizar – e tornar impotente – as revelações jornalísticas futuras baseadas em irregularidades reais e comprovadas.
Além disso, a ameaça por trás de nos submetermos à CIA, empoderando-a de forma suprema à margem do processo democrático seria, como alertou Eisenhower – um perigo ainda mais grave. O risco de sermos governados por entidades não eleitas e e que não prestam contas à sociedade é autoevidente e grave. Isso é especialmente verdadeiro quando a entidade a que tantos estão louvando tem um histórico de mentiras, propaganda, crimes de guerra, tortura e das maiores atrocidades imagináveis.
Todas as alegações sobre a interferência da Rússia nas eleições americanas e as ligações com Trump devem ser investigadas na íntegra por um órgão credível, e as provas devem ser reveladas publicamente o mais rápido possível. Conforme meu colega Sam Biddle argumentou na semana passada, após a revelação do relatório absurdo da comunidade de inteligência sobre a manipulação russa — que até os inimigos de Putin ridicularizaram como uma piada de mau gosto — a total ausência de provas subjacente a essas alegações significa que “precisamos de uma investigação independente resoluta”. Até lá, as afirmações sem provas disseminadas anonimamente devem ser tratadas com o mais absoluto ceticismo – e não valorizadas com uma credibilidade conveniente.
O mais importante é que as táticas legítimas e eficazes de oposição a Trump estão sendo totalmente eclipsadas por essas cruzadas ad hoc irracionais e desesperadas, sem qualquer estratégia convincente, que retratam os oponentes do presidente como destituídos de razão e seriedade. Nesse exato momento, os oponentes de Trump estão se comportando conforme o crítico de mídia Adam Johnson descreveu: como águas-vivas ideológicas, flutuando perdidas sem rumo, desesperadamente tentando se colar a qualquer barco que passa.
Existem soluções para Trump. Elas passam por estratégias ponderadas e um enfoque paciente nas questões que realmente interessam às pessoas. Quaisquer que sejam essas soluções, não passam certamente por venerar a comunidade de inteligência, implorar sua intervenção e equacionar suas afirmações sujas e obscuras com a Verdade. Essas ações não trazem nada de bom, pelo contrário, já estão causando muitos danos.
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Purpurina, transgressão e resistência. No meio da folia carnavalesca, que já encena seus primeiros atos em 2017, a discussão política ganha espaço nos blocos de rua. Com o lema “Carnaval, folia e luta”, blocos não autorizados pela Prefeitura do Rio ocuparam as ruas do centro da cidade no primeiro domingo do ano, dia 8, em um ato festivo contra as imposições do governo, como o monopólio da cervejaria patrocinadora do evento oficial nas vendas de bebida.
O evento promovido pela Desliga do Blocos é apenas um dos exemplos da festa como espaço de protesto. Durante os dias momescos, referências políticas aparecem em letras de samba de blocos de enredo, blocos temáticos, fantasias e, até mesmo, na realização de uma prática cultural sem aceitação do poder público, como no caso dos blocos sem autorização para o desfile. Isso que se observa tanto no Rio de Janeiro quanto em outras partes do país, como em Pernambuco.
“O Carnaval sempre foi um ato político. Na Primeira República, a população negra utilizou o Carnaval para afirmar sua autonomia. Hoje, é um grande espaço de crítica política e social. No Carnaval, o humor e o sarcasmo funcionam como arma de transgressão política. A brincadeira é uma forma de manifestação”, explica Eric Brasil, autor do livro “A corte em festa: experiências negras em carnavais do Rio de Janeiro”.
O caráter transgressor do Carnaval começa na ocupação da rua pelo folião, uma vez regiões como o centro da cidade e as praias – onde tradicionalmente ocorrem os desfiles – nem sempre são acessíveis a todas as camadas da população. “A rua é um espaço de disputa e a forma que você se coloca nela é uma forma de fazer política”, diz Camila De’Carli, instrumentista do Cordão do Boi Tolo, bloco que desfila sem autorização, sem trajeto definido e sem músicos fixos, adotando essa postura independente como posicionamento político.
O Carnaval acaba se tornando um espaço contra diferentes tipos de opressão.
A festa é vista como uma válvula de escape, um espaço de alienação ao cotidiano. No entanto, pelo perfil democrático da rua, a grande circulação cultural e o encontro de diferentes pessoas, existe a construção de um discurso que ultrapassa os dias de folia. “As pessoas entendem o carnaval como uma performance pública que atinge muita gente ao mesmo tempo. É um caminho de comunicação muito eficaz. Uma linguagem mais eficiente que muito texto formal, que não é só de harmonia e expõe conflitos”, completa Brasil.
Dentro deste contexto, é possível encontrar blocos que apresentam temáticas do universo LGBT, debatem o sexismo e expõem as lutas periféricas. “O Carnaval acaba se tornando um espaço contra diferentes tipos de opressão. Ele possui a qualidade de levante popular sem violência”, explica a coordenadora de instrumento de sopros do bloco feminista Mulheres Rodadas, Flávia Soares.
“O Carnaval é um espaço político, porém não como um espaço de política partidária, mas sim como um local de mobilização popular para se discutir determinadas pautas”, diz Philippe Valentim, coordenador do Bloco APAfunk, que traz o funk para o Carnaval buscando reflexão para as questões da periferia.
Desta maneira, o Carnaval acaba ganhando um caráter de resistência através da negação da ordem do dia a dia. “É uma resistência ao cotidiano. O folião resiste socialmente, economicamente e culturalmente”, completa Valentim.
Imagens: Erick Dau
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